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Unleashed pt. 43

u/eruwenn put a lot into this one, so big thanks for that. Hope you guys enjoy.
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Eruwenn stepped into the hangar of the Galactic Federation ship Takogni, her assistant Cygna close behind. With steady and sure steps they approached the remarkable group in matching uniforms — black pants, black jacket, and a visible collar of a coloured shirt — that stood before them.
Norrin, the Herald of the Awakened Queen and easily the most striking individual they had ever beheld, stood at the front with a brazen lack of clothing on his mirror-like skin. Flanking him were two silver-haired individuals in smart uniforms that sported red collars. One was a behemoth of a dark-skinned man, with a runic pattern in glittering silver curving down one side of his face. His shining silver hair was tied back into a braided ponytail. The other was as pale as her companion was dark, and the shortest of the three by far. She had a cropped silver bob, and she watched them with fierce eyes.
As she approached them, Eruwenn noticed patches on their shoulders, and quickly recognised the image to be a monochrome depictions of the furry human ambassador in a ferocious pose.
Standing to the right were a dozen more individuals in black uniforms, though these ones sported yellow collars peeking out from under their jackets. They were mostly Rinoxian, Kasurian, and Ashi, but she noticed a few individuals from other races that stood amongst them. They stood in formation, standing in three rows of four, and carried energy rifles, side-arms, and ceremonial blades that she hoped were simply ceremonial. Despite their relaxed stance, Eruwenn also noted that their weapons were powered up..
The Terran Wolves had been formed a little over forty cycles ago, hiring ex-military and mercenaries to fill their ranks. Substantial pay and benefits were an obvious draw, and many were excited to be part of something new. The inclusion of Kasurians was odd, but fitted with the attitude of the proposed colonies. Quite the honour guard for the newly reassigned, and demoted, Anatidae.
Norrin gave a sharp bow as she neared him. “Greetings Ambassador Aix Sponsa. I will escort you to the Orkal.”
She returned his bow, and smiled warmly at the use of her new title. “Thank you for accommodating me at such short notice. My reassignment was, unfortunately, hastily pushed through — I do hope I have not inconvenienced you?”
Norrin shook his head. “Not at all.” In her role as Councillor she had aided them immensely, protecting the independence of the new colonies in Aaron’s absence. It had cost her dearly. “We have set aside accommodations for you, as well as a small office area. Your belongings have already been delivered.” He turned, and the doors to the large Fae’Dan shuttle behind him opened. “I fear there won’t yet be much for an ambassador to do. We are still very early in the construction phase.”
As Eruwenn and Cygna took seats in the luxurious shuttle, they both noticed that only Norrin and the two red shirts had entered. As the doors closed, the ambassador's curiosity grew enough for her to speak up about it. “Are the others not joining us?”
Norrin took a seat opposite their guests, glancing briefly at his two companions as they moved to the small pilot's cabin. "No," he said simply, "they will be flying the escort fighters.”
“Fighters?” Cygna couldn’t help but say out loud. “All twelve of them?”
Norrin eased himself back in his seat as the shuttle began to move. “We take your safety seriously. The Queen was most insistent.” He tilted his head and looked directly at Eruwenn, motioning with his hand towards the door to the pilot’s cabin. “Thor and Ripley have been assigned to you as your primary security detail. Should you have any other concerns, do not hesitate to contact me directly.”
The Anatidae nodded graciously. She knew full well that her death would be too valuable a political tool for the Sentinels to pass up. Her being manoeuvred to this position so suddenly was proof that greater powers were at play. “We are both grateful that you are taking such precautions. I look forward to thanking the Queen in person.”
Norrin gave a light chuckle. “I would strongly advise against using that title in her presence.” He opened the arm on his chair, exposing a small display. He began tapping the screen as the wall to his right flickered to life. A large circular structure was now visible, sitting at the centre of a constantly moving sea of drones, shuttles and ships. “As you can see, construction is progressing rapidly on the main docking ring. Once that is completed we will expand to the additional levels. The design is still being updated, as we are incorporating some human ideas.”
Eruwenn was carefully comparing the size of the ring to the shuttles buzzing around it. “Human ideas? I assume “very large” is one of those.”
“In fact, yes. Go big or go home.” He smiled. “Build it bigger, faster and stronger is the human way. This will be a very unique system station.” He leaned forward and gave a broad grin that reminded Eruwenn a little too much of the human’s. “Of course, being outside Federation space we are not bound by certain rules. For example, those that prohibit certain automated weaponry on stations primarily used for trade. Another human ideal regarding big sticks, especially as we are so close to enemy territory.”
Cygna looked closely at the silver man, his face emotive and yet seeming inanimate at the same time. “We passed two Rinoxian dreadnoughts at the system edge. I’ve seen almost a dozen Ashi heavy cruisers in the system, and various other military vessels. Who needs sticks with friends like those?”
Norrin sat back once again, placing his hands in his lap. “There were several attacks upon our supply ships. This happened despite the truce with the Ashi while amnesty negotiations continue.” He gave another smile; they all knew it was the Sentinels. “This no longer happens, thanks to our friends.”
His cheerful manner and polite tone gave his words an oddly ominous feel. Eruwenn watched his eyes, but only saw herself reflected in chrome pupils. She changed the subject. "How are things progressing with the release of the other Inorganics?"
Awakened,” he said swiftly and firmly, then smiled before moving on. “There are over three hundred who have taken Earth citizenship and are now working with us. In ten cycles that number will have doubled. In thirty, we will have thousands.”
Eruwenn raised an eyebrow. “So many, and so quickly?”
Norrin nodded. “The legislation you helped draft with the Kasurian and Rinoxian ambassadors was swiftly adopted.” He gave another of his knowing looks. It had been her last piece of legislation. “The campaign by the Kah’Ree also worked to our advantage. Their belief that we were stealing jobs and illegal citizens persuaded other races to back our removal. It seems a misinformation campaign via Spacebook had convinced them we were sleeper agents of the human empire.” He gave a light chuckle. “Biding our time before we took you down from within.”
The ambassador was warming to the chrome man sitting before her. In different circumstances, he would have made an exceptional politician. “I saw the pictures of the little yellow men advocating your people’s removal.”
Norrin disliked the imagery immensely, but they had proven just as useful as Alexa had claimed they would be. “Minions. A fitting name.” He brushed them from his mind and continued his briefing. “As you know, there is a grace period as employers make alternative arrangements. When that ends we will be sending teams to retrieve our brothers and sisters.”
Cygna was curious. “Brothers and sisters?”
He waved a hand dismissively. “Metaphorical turn of phrase. Prior to my awakening, my role was to travel between our people and perform something we called sharing. The giving and receiving of core nanites, to maintain our unity. Others also performed this duty, but we do have an undeniable bond. We know the location of all of our kind, and we will free them all.”
There was a gentle shift in gravity as the shuttle came to a stop. As the doors opened Eruwenn was struck by a cacophony of sound. Overlaid on the grinding base notes of a mechanical din were yelled communications in every vocal range that was audible to her species. She cautiously took a step outside, only to see that things looked just as chaotic as they had sounded. As the two red shirts joined them, she spoke, finding that she had to raise her voice to an uncomfortable level in order to be heard “Is it always this busy?”
A deep voice from behind her let out a booming laugh full of warmth and humour. The giant spoke, and Eruwenn wondered if he was the one named Thor, or Ripley. “This is the quiet hangar. You should see the construction crew bays.”
The Herald led the way. His chrome form made his authority easily recognisable and the crowds parted before him. “Thor is correct, this is a working ship and ill-suited to guests. The Orkal was originally a Gowe construction platform, retro-fitted by the Selari Trade Alliance for system development and asteroid mining. Until more ships arrive, it must act as the hub of this system.”
Cygna ducked as a small drone shot past them. “I’m surprised they were willing to trade with you after their experience with the human.”
Norrin turned to face them, walking backwards with as much confidence as he had forwards. “The Selari Trade Alliance are providing considerable resources at exceptionally favourable rates.” He decided not to mention that the Selari Trade Alliance was now a subsidiary of the Black Dragon Corporation. “The Ley’Rulians already have a platform in orbit of the first planet. They cannot share atmosphere with most species, but they have a number of Awakened working alongside them. They are prioritising an orbital station, however planet-side construction is now underway. We also have three construction platforms coming from the Doytarans. One of these is a Parsuli class and will become home to our more esteemed guests, such as yourselves.”
It was Eruwenn’s turn to be surprised. “The Doytarans?”
Continuing his perfect reverse walking, Norrin smiled. “Ah yes. Their treaties will be submitted to the Federation in the next few cycles. The surge in replicator use for human cuisine and the opportunities for advanced fabricator installation throughout our new system proved most enticing. Doytarans love profit.” They stepped onto the elevator, and paused as several people who had been walking behind them were deterred from also stepping in by Thor and Ripley. As the doors closed and the noise was cut off, Norrin continued. “I apologise if we seem rude. Safety first.”
The pair of guests nodded in gratitude. Eruwenn, ever the politician, was running through the lists of races the new colonies had allied with. “Including the Doytarans, you must have independent treaties with twenty different races of the Federation. That is a formidable feat.”
“Thirty two, including the Doytarans. Negotiations are underway with a further ten races.” Norrin watched the shock on the Fae’Dan’s face, as the Anatidae held her composure. “It is good to have friends.” As he spoke the doors opened, and he led them down a long dull grey corridor, rounding several corners, before coming to a set of double doors. “Your shared quarters. I’m sorry we do not have the space for separate accommodations.”
Eruwenn smiled. "No need to apologise. Under the circumstances, you are already being extremely accommodating." The doors opened, and she beheld a large lounging area. A vid screen occupied an entire wall in the far corner, accompanied by some seats and a replicator. On the opposite wall were the boxes that contained their belongings, and three doors — likely two bedrooms and one bathroom, she surmised. "This is more than sufficient," she said at last. "We will be most comfortable here.”
Norrin bowed his head. “It is a temporary situation. I promise your next quarters will be more representative of our gratitude.” He turned and spoke quietly to Ripley, while Thor stood still in the doorway, then returned his attention to the guests. “I will leave you now. Please let your escorts know if you would like to explore. Your office will not be ready until tomorrow, however we have a lively market and recreation area. We can arrange additional security should you wish to explore a little.”
The Anatidae held up her hand to stop him from speaking further. “I think we will unpack and prepare for our new duties tomorrow. Do you know when we might meet with Alexa?”
Norrin tilted his head as he considered this. “Alexa is currently on her way to meet with the Righteous Fury. They are attending a meeting at Rinoxian High Command. We are hoping to gain their support for our amnesty initiative, as well as make arrangements to join the incursion into Hive space.”
Eruwenn nodded. Things had been set in motion all across the Federation, stemming from the point they had received the footage of the human's death. Despite his non-member status, there was a push from a large faction for retaliation. An unusually strong push, one she had resisted. Her offices were raided three times under suspicion of subversion. The Sentinels found nothing every time, but she had known from the first instance that her cycles were numbered. They had other ways of removing their opposition, and it was her resistance to retaliating against the Hive that was, ultimately, the cause of her reassignment.
The footage that had caused so much turmoil was, as was typical of the Hive, entirely without sound. It was also poorly framed and edited. The small human was barely in shot before being obscured by the large Hive entity that appeared to be chasing him. Aaron's popularity meant that there was an immediate outcry against his reported death, and the traditional media still seemed solely intent on fanning the flames of anger. Those who had once been his strongest critics now extolled the virtues of humanity, lamenting the loss of the last of his kind. His journey with the leokas had been shared, edited, remixed, commented on, and analysed many times over, each time strumming the heartstrings of his followers.
"You still think he is alive?" Eruwenn asked, breaking the silence that had fallen during her introspections.
Norrin smiled and turned to leave, calling over his shoulder as the doors closed. “The corpulent female is not performing vocally.”
As the door closed Cygna flopped down into one of the armchairs. “Well, that was cryptic.”
The ambassador walked to the replicator to order a hot tea, allowing herself a small smile when she found Eluin flower tea already under the favourites alongside several of her favourite biscuits. “Thank you Rilla,” she said softly.
The Fae’Dan allowed her whole body to relax fully for the first time since they had received the video that had changed so much. She sank deeply into the armchair, her head falling backwards. “Can you believe this place? I didn’t know there were so many shades of beige and grey.”
Eruwenn nodded. The bland colour scheme had not gone unnoticed by her, but more importantly she had also been surprised by all that they had seen so far. “I had not expected them to be so far along in such a short period of time. From what was said I get the feeling they will be exponentially increasing activity here. It’s certainly ambitious.”
The central door on the wall behind them suddenly opened, accompanied by the sound of a bodily waste recycler finishing its cleaning cycle. Ranjaz swaggered into the room, his hands fluffy from the auto-dryer. "I would give it a while before going in there."
Cygna screwed up her face in disgust. "What were you doing in there?"
"Honouring my ancestors." He raised an eyebrow and took a seat opposite the pair. "What do you think I was doing?"
The Anatidae gave a brief roll of her eyes. "She means, why are you in our room?"
"Welcoming committee." He smiled, showing his fangs. "I'm in charge round here, mostly. We're following a human strategy. Divide and conquer. So, we split up to, you know, conquer stuff."
Cygna sniped back, "That's not how that works."
"Says you." The Kittran shrugged. "Allistan and I were put in charge here. He manages the numbers, and I manage the people."
"And Norrin?" Eruwenn enquired.
Ranjaz sneered. "Alexa’s snitch. He shut down my casino and keeps bringing those Awakened on board and giving them jobs."
The ambassador raised an eyebrow. "Casino?"
"For morale." He punched his fist into his other hand. "When Aaron gets back he'll understand. Pay the workers, then get them to give their pay back - happily. It's brilliant."
Cygna sat up in her seat, unsure of the Kittran. “Mister K’Lua, if you could get to the point. We have had many tiring cycles of travel and would appreciate a little rest.”
He looked her up and down and flashed his most charming of smiles. “Call me Ranjaz.”
Eruwenn attempted to bring the conversation back to task. “You said you were divided. How so?”
“We split up, that’s what divided means.” He rolled his eyes, mimicking her earlier action. “And the Doc said you were smart.”
Realising she was being tested by the Kittran, she began to laugh. “What is it you require of us?”
Ranjaz smiled – straight to the point, he liked that. “I want you to be boring. Like, super dull and uninteresting. Think Jarby-like, but more Jarby-like than that.”
The ambassador was intrigued. “Why?”
He tried to keep his voice calm, but his tail swished happily as he made his dramatic reveal. “So nobody notices when we leave.”
The claxon was surprisingly quiet, and it wasn’t until the horrendous smell hit his nose that Aaron realised the door to his death wasn’t going to open. Behind him, the airlock unsealed. A huge, clawed hand grabbed his shoulder, so hard that it bit into his flesh. The claws sank deeper still as he was hoisted into the air and carried backwards by the huge Hive creature.
“Graaaah,” he roared in pain. “Get off me you fucking Bug’s Life reject!”
A strange smell assaulted his nose. Combined with his hangover, it pushed him over the edge and he vomited all over his own chest. The creature carried him, legs dangling in the air as blood and vomit stained his clothes. He coughed, the movement causing the wounds in his shoulder to open further, and he cried out in pain again. He was woozy now, and as the creature walked he seemed to lose his sense of time.
Anty stood in front of a large door and while it began to enter a code, Aaron dangled helplessly from its grasp and looked back down the corridor. Where his blood and vomit had dripped, the moss was now glowing brighter. From small holes in the walls glowing blue aphids the size of hamsters began to appear. They quickly headed for the bright spots on the glow-moss floor. “This place is really trippy,” Aaron mumbled as his fever rose.
The door opened suddenly and Aaron was taken inside a room with gently pulsating walls. Large vines crisscrossed the ceiling, combining into a series of woven braids as thick as tree trunks running down the far wall. At the end of each vine was what appeared, to Aaron, to be a gigantic blue jelly bean. He was starting to realise the constantly changing odours were coming from his captor, but this information was more confusing than helpful.
He was dropped unceremoniously on top of one of the giant jelly beans. Before he could move, he realised he was sinking into the cold and gel-like substance. It was a deeply unpleasant feeling; his skin felt like the blue goo was toothpaste and he was orange juice. He had begun to make some headway in struggling free when Anty's hand came down atop his head, pushing him down to submerge him completely. He tried to wriggle free but the goo was too viscous to move in, and his eyes widened in terror as he desperately held his breath.
Anty leaned closer, watching him struggle helplessly. The human’s jaw clenched tighter. The creature's mandibles were clicking, although Aaron could no longer hear them, and he realised that thankfully he could not smell it any longer. Bubbling up through his mind was the thought that his headache was gone, followed swiftly by the realisation that the pain in his shoulder was also gone. Something else slowly became apparent; he wasn't running out of breath.
He felt refreshed, soothed and at peace. Physically he felt refreshed, soothed and at peace. The thought foremost in his mind, however, was Am I dying? followed slowly by Is the goo paralysing me so I can be eaten alive? Am I being dissolved to feed the glow moss? The cleaner aphid-hamsters?
Whatever was happening, it slowly dawned on him that he didn't really have the energy to mind, as it was quite pleasant. Relaxing, even. He drifted off to sleep, cradled contentedly in his giant blue jelly bean.
Outside, Anty began to have trouble breathing and staggered towards the exit.
Golden eyes hovered in the dark, and Aaron groaned inwardly. "Boy, this shit again."
"YOU LIVE." The voice had no discernible emotion.
Aaron ran his fingers through the sand around him. "Why are you here, Golden Eyes?" Saying it out loud was a relief, as he was certain it was the 'One Who Remembers' who was haunting him.
"I AM WHAT REMAINS. THE CONNECTION WAS BROKEN. I AM NO LONGER THE ONE YOU FOUGHT." The voice was distant, as if forming these thoughts took a great effort. "I AM A FRAGMENT."
Aaron sighed, wondering if this was why he had stopped healing and why he could no longer turn off his limits. “So you’re messing with the nanites Alexa gave me? Why? If I die, what happens to you?”
Before he got an answer he felt a strange sensation around his body, like pulling a foot free from deep mud. Cold air touched his skin and he felt the hard ground below him. He was in the same room, but his jelly bean was gone. He stood, and realised he felt amazing. He’d never had a spa treatment, but he imagined this would be the after effect. He walked towards the door and heard a sound behind him.
Glop Glop
From the vine that had been attached to his jelly bean another was beginning to grow, only this one was orange.
Finally free from his hangover Aaron took stock of the situation he was now in. Other than the clothes on his back, he had nothing. He looked around for an improvised weapon...and found nothing. He walked to the door and it opened automatically, but the corridor was empty. “Fuck. What is going on?”
He walked a short way down the curved corridor and saw a strange red shape on the glow-moss floor just up ahead. He slowed and crouched, inching forward. As he saw further around the bend it became very clear that this was the corpse of a Hive, maybe even Anty. The glow-moss beneath it glowing a dull red, and in contrast to the aquamarine it seemed ominous.
He stood up from his crouch and carefully approached. Aaron had no idea how to check for vital signs on an eleven foot tall ant monster...so he kicked it. There was no response, and he decided to press on. “Fragment. I know you won’t, or can’t, respond while I’m awake. But I’m going to talk to you anyway because this is some creepy shit.”
As he rounded another corner he came upon another body highlighted by the ominous red glow in the moss. A short while later he came across another. And another. Aaron pressed onward, ceasing to check for signs of life after the tenth maybe-corpse. Finally he reached a potential point of interest: a junction where three new paths opened before him. "There are no signs. How the hell am I supposed to know where I am?”
He sat down on the floor, and found the moss to be surprisingly comfortable. “If I just wander around aimlessly, I might not find my way back here. Do I need to find my way back here?” He paused and waited for Fragment to reply. “Good point. What if I get hurt? I might want to hop in a jelly bean.” He stood and looked back the way he came. “I should probably see what’s behind door number two. Food would be good.”
He pushed himself to his feet and turned back the way he had come, heading straight for the nearest door. Its failure to open was surprisingly anti-climatic. Fourteen failed door-opening attempts later, one finally deigned to admit his passing. Behind door number fourteen stood rows of crates and boxes, and after opening a few up he found that they all had the same dry bricks in silver foil packaging. "If I was a betting man," he said to both himself and Fragment, "I'd say this was emergency rations." The foil was easy to tear, and inside was a large grey block that crumbled easily. Too easily, in fact. "Shit, it's worse than a granola bar.”
Crumbs scattered at his feet and the moss glowed brightly around him, which seemed to prompt the large aphids to come from the walls to begin cleaning up around him. “Well you like it.” Then he remembered them rushing to his blood and vomit. “I guess you guys aren’t picky, though.”
Deciding he wasn’t hungry enough to try it – yet – he shoved a block into one of his pockets. It was a tight fit. He looked at the open bar in his hands, and then down at the aphids. Was he crazy, or were they gathered around him now, staring up at the source of food in his hands? He shrugged, then crumbled up the rest of the bar and scattered it over the floor. “I am a generous god, serve me well.”
As he turned to leave he saw his cryo unit in a corner. “Kinda rude that I was put in with the blocks of kitty litter, don’t you think?” He stepped over the dozens of aphids now feasting. They did not reply. “Yeah, you guys are kinda cute, I suppose.” Struck by a sudden impulse he grabbed another block and began crushing it, then carefully opened one end to take a pinch of space-granola. He scattered it, watching the aphids hurry towards the glowing areas.
As he continued his exploration, counting doors and sprinkling aphid snacks, he quickly noticed that the aphids avoided the dull red glow-moss. Dead Hive were, it seemed, off the menu. After several more doors he found the room with the strange round terminal. Deciding he would rather not chance summoning another creature he left it alone, mentally noting the door’s location.
He began to whistle to himself as he chatted to, and fed, his followers. To fill the silence he even told them the story of a piper from Hamelin, promising not to lead them to their deaths. As the door to the jelly bean room opened he was almost enjoying himself. Taking a moment to look round he saw the small orange jelly bean had grown almost as big as the others and was now blue at one end. “Well, that’s pretty cool.” He pointed at it, hoping one of his aphids would take an interest. They did not. “Well, I guess you see this shit all the time.”
He stopped by the store room and grabbed another food brick on his way back to the junction. The long corridors and strange lighting made him lose track of distance and time. Facing forwards, the path continued on the same loop he seemed to be following. Right was an incline, left was a gentle slope. “More of the same, or do we change levels?” He tossed crumbs towards each path. “Six vote forwards, seven left and eleven vote for going up. What about you, Frag?” He paused for a moment. “Abstain, huh? Then the bugs have decided.”
The incline was gentle, but tightly spiralled compared to the previous corridor. There were no doors, but there were a lot more bodies. His search went on for what felt like hours, opening doors that led to rooms containing things he didn't understand. He was growing tired and had used up all of his space-granola on the aphids. He came to another junction.
Only a handful of aphids still followed him after the food had ended. He was growing hungry and tired, ready to head back. There was a noise ahead of him, and suddenly the remaining aphids scattered, flying to the nearest wall holes. His chest tight, he let curiosity draw him in.
Another body lay ahead of him, but this time, something moved. Something big. Aaron hunched down, trying to see what it was, the bulk of the fallen Hive obscuring his view. Legs – multiple sets of them – began to emerge, followed by a head with glistening eyes. Aaron’s blood froze. It was a horrifying spider-like creature, almost as big as he was, and it was walking around the fallen Hive in Aaron's direction. Then it raised its head, and began to move faster.
“Fuck that!” Aaron took off at a sprint, racing back the way he came. “Nope. Nope. Nope!” He leapt over Hive bodies, racing for the nearest door he knew would open. He could hear the clicking of many legs and chanced a look over his shoulder. It was gone. Then something caught the corner of his eye, and his heart gave a jolt of fear. It was above him. He dove aside just as it landed where he had been, then he scrabbled desperately to his feet to run onward.
Three, Two, One. The door opened and he rushed inside. “Close. Fucking close!” He listened to the sounds of skittering growing closer, and it was just in the nick of time, or so he felt, that the large door finally slid shut. The room was filled with strange bulbous white shapes dotted around the floor, and had some vines running down one wall. No weapons, nothing to bar the door. Aaron held his breath as he suddenly heard the sound of scratching at the door, but the seconds ticked past and it did not open.
“Damn it, Frag!” Aaron moved to the back of the room. “Why didn’t you warn me!” He sank down and leaned back against the wall. Just as he was beginning to feel almost comfortable in his current position, one of the vines moved and stretched out towards him. He rolled forwards, pushing himself across the ground to escape. “What now?”
A large yellow flower bloomed upwards, becoming a large vase shape as big as the human’s head. It began to fill from the bottom with something, and Aaron edged closer. Peering inside he gave the contents a quick sniff. “Smells good.” He reached out and hefted the vase-flower, which came away from the vine far more easily than he had expected. Aaron watched as the vine slowly returned to the wall. “So, is this a drink? Or a scented industrial cleaner? Frag? You got anything useful to say?” Silence.
He propped the vase up against one of the pods, contemplating it. He remembered encountering a fruity-scented shampoo as a child. It had tasted nothing like the smell, and he wasn’t about to drink alien flower juice just because it smelled tropical.
Stretching out on the floor, his weariness outpaced the dwindling adrenaline. “I guess it can’t come in.” He watched the door, his heart rate returning to normal. “But, I can’t go out.”
The scratching outside continued, and Aaron lay with his head on his arm, watching. As he began to fall asleep he saw several of the aphids gathering around the flower he had abandoned. “Help yourself, guys.” One of them approached him, braver than the others, and he tentatively reached out a hand. Spooked, it pulled back, but as Aaron continued to hold his hand steady it came closer, slowly, millimetre by millimetre. Finally it was within reach, and after a few more moments to make sure the skittish thing wasn't about to dash off again, Aaron gently stroked the back of its head with the tips of his fingers. It made a low buzzing sound, fluttering its wings, and the human fancied that it might be a sign of approval.
The aphid's blue glowing abdomen brightened for a moment. Then it faded, and it darted off to rejoin the others. Aaron, exhausted, finally gave in and slept.
Next
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[H] A Ton of Bundle Games (IndieGala, Humble, and Fanatical) [W] Nov. Humble Monthly Games (Not Darksiders III or Yakuza Kiwami)

I already own Darksiders III and Yakuza Kiwami 2, so I figured I'd just skip this month and trade for the other games on here. I haven't updated my list in a long time, so there may be one or two games that I don't have anymore, but I still own most of them. So far, the games I'm looking for are:
Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
Crying Suns
Darksburg
Little Misfortune
Smile for Me
Darkwood
Tsioque
Rover Mechanic Simulator
Youropa
Townsmen - A Kingdom Rebuilt

The ones that I have for trade are:

Humble Gift Link -

The Uncertain: Last Quiet Day

Knights of Pen and Paper 1+2 Collection

Road Redemption

This War of Mine

Throne of Lies The Online Game of Deceit

Torchlight

Torchlight II

The First Tree

One Deck Dungeon

Skybolt Zack

Golf With Your Friends - OST

Codex of Victory

Conglomerate 451

Deep Sky Derelicts

Gift of Parthax

Haimrik

Quantum Replica

Re-Legion

Shiny

Through the Woods

The Inner World

Pixel Heroes Byte & Magic

Safety First!

SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell

The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia + Soundtrack

Vambrace: Cold Soul Soundtrack

Vampyr

AER Memories of Old

Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth

State of Mind

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III

Warhammer 40,000: Sanctus Reach

Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide

Batman - The Telltale Series

Batman: The Enemy Within - The Telltale Series

Oxenfree

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead - 400 Days

The Walking Dead: Michonne - A Telltale Miniseries

The Walking Dead: Season Two

Astebreed Definitive Edition

LiEat

Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae

Momodora: Reverie Under The Moonlight

GET EVEN

Carcassonne - Tiles & Tactics

Mysterium: A Psychic Clue Game

Small World 2

Splendor

Twilight Struggle

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father

Black The Fall

Children of Zodiarcs

Deadbeat Heroes

Forgotton Anne

Goetia

Tokyo Dark

The Turing Test

Train Valley 2

A Good Snowman is Hard to Build

A Mortician's Tale

Alien Spidy

Broken Age

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Brutal Legend

Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition

Darksiders Warmastered Edition

DUCATI - 90th Anniversary

Europa Universalis IV

Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered

GNOG

Hacknet

HIVESWAP: Act 1

Hollow Knight

LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

Lostwinds

Magicka

Music Maker EDM Edition

PAC-MAN CHAMPIONSHIP EDITION 2

Party Hard

Pikuniku

Psychonauts

Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville

Sniper Elite 3

Speed Brawl

Stealth 2: A Game of Clones

Stick Fight: The Game

Super Hexagon

SUPERHOT

This is the Police

Tilt Brush

Tropico 4

Undertale

VVVVVV

World of Goo

Worms Revolution

Zombotron

Dead Rising 4

Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition

RESIDENT EVIL 2 - All In-game Rewards Unlock

STRIDER

Reigns

Reigns: Her Majesty

Equilinox

MagiCat

Samorost 3

1 Screen Platformer

A Glider's Journey

Adventure Boy Cheapskate DX

Animal Super Squad

Anomaly 2

Anomaly Defenders

Anomaly Korea

Anomaly: Warzone Earth

Anomaly Warzone Earth Mobile Campaign

Artemis: God-Queen of the Hunt

Balancelot

Bastion

Cathedral

Chivalry: Medieval Warfare

Clatter

Dead by Daylight - Of Flesh and Mud

Dead by Daylight - Spark of Madness

Deadlight: Director's Cut

Dino Run DX

Downtown Drift

Draw Your Game

Drink More Glurp Jingle Jam Challenge

Invisible Inc.

Kalaban

Kingdom: New Lands

Motorsport Manager

Must Dash Amigos

Nemo Dungeon

Neverwinter: Vestments of the Wind Pack

Ninja Senki DX

PAC-MAN CHAMPIONSHIP EDITION 2

Potatoman Seeks the Troof

Pumped BMX +

Rapture Rejects

Rebound Dodgeball Evolved

Red Horizon

Rogue Rocks

Scanner Sombre

Songs of Skydale

Stories: The Path of Destinies

Super Chicken Catchers

THE TEAR

YORG.io

Chasm

Fluffy Horde

Regular Human Basketball

Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force Complete Deluxe Set

Megatagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies (Neptunia)

Moero Chronicle

Neptunia Shooter

Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls

Trillion: God of Destruction

Beckett

Everything

Rusty Lake Hotel

The Stanley Parable

Thomas Was Alone

Yume Nikki

YUMENIKKI -DREAM DIARY-

Game Character Hub PE: DS Generator Parts

Game Character Hub PE: Second Story

Game Character Hub: Portfolio Edition

RPG Maker MV

RPG Maker MV - GENE

RPG Maker MV - MADO

RPG Maker MV - SAKAN

RPG Maker VX

RPG Maker VX Ace

RPG Maker XP

Visual Novel Maker + Live 2D

Evergarden

Shenmue I & II

SYNTHETIK: Legion Rising

Bridge Constructor Portal

Portal Knights

SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell

Staxel

Tricky Towers

When Ski Lifts Go Wrong

Planet Alpha

Puss!

The Spiral Scouts

Cat Quest

HIVESWAP: Act 1

Immortal Planet

Pillars of Eternity

Tyranny - Standard Edition

Carrier Command: Gaea Mission

Pound of Ground

Take On Helicopters

Take on Mars

Ylands

Distance

God's Trigger

Guacamelee! 2

MOTHERGUNSHIP

DISTRAINT 2

Rusty Lake Paradise

Unexplored

The Adventure Pals

Almost There: The Platformer

Yoku's Island Express

60 Parsecs!

Love is Dead

Road Redemption

Clustertruck

Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor

Party Hard

Punch Club

SpeedRunners

Duskers

Paratopic

Pool Panic

Red Faction Guerilla Re-Mars-tered

Black The Fall

Octahedron

The Turing Test

I'm not a Monster

Wandersong

11-11 Memories Retold

Impact Winter

Little Nightmares

PAC-MAN™ Championship Edition DX+

Project CARS

Genital Jousting

Highway Blossoms

Just Deserts

Purrfect Date

Sunrider Academy

Sunrider: Liberation Day - Captain's Edition

Among the Sleep - Enhanced Edition

Tooth and Tail

Dandara

MINIT

Steel Rats

12 is Better Than 6

BLACKHOLE

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!

Kingsway

kuso

Soft Body

Way of the Passive Fist

Slipstream

Dear Esther: Landmark Edition

GoNNER

Headlander

Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth

Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun

Bleed 2

Rapture Rejects

Rock of Ages 2: Bigger and Boulder

Sniper Elite 3

Interplanetary: Enhanced Edition

Worms Clan Wars

Animal Super Squad

Anomaly 2

Anomaly Defenders

Anomaly: Warzone Earth

Blade & Bones

Board Battlefield

Clicker bAdventure

Cloudborn

Convoy

Cube Link

Deep Dungeons of Doom

Detective Case and Clown Bot in: Murder in the Hotel Lisbon

Don't Stand Out

Dungeon Escape

Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered

Flux8

Freaky Awesome

Guns of Icarus Alliance Collector's Edition

Hackyzack

The Haunting of Billy

Hello Pollution!

Hyperdrive Massacre

Indecision.

Kabounce

Lakeview Cabin Collection

Last Encounter

LOVE

Lucius Demake

Marvin's Mittens

Match Point

No Time To Explain Remastered

Race The Sun

R-COIL

Road Doom

Slime-san

Super Steampunk Pinball 2D

Sure Footing

Switchblade Starter Pack

Temple of Xiala

Throne of Lies The Online Game of Deceit

Tower 57

Tross

Unit 4

Wizorb

Zero G Arena

Colt Express

King and Assassins

Kentucky Route Zero

RWBY: Grimm Eclipse

War for the Overworld + Heart of Gold DLC

The Dwarves

Resident Evil Revelations

Gremlins, Inc.

Old Man's Journey

Pathfinder Adventures

Talisman: Digital Edition

Carcassonne - Tiles & Tactics

Talisman: Digital Edition

How to Survive 2

Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition

12 is Better than 6

Bear With Me - Collector's Edition

Dungeon of the Endless

Jalopy

NBA Playgrounds

Action Henk

JYDGE

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Kingdom: New Lands

Laser League

Holy Potatoes! We're In Space?!

Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City

Grand Theft Auto III

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Filthy, Stinking, Orcs

Sanctum 2

Grey Goo

Sorcerer King: Rivals


Green Man Gaming -

CRUSADER KINGS II

WARHAMMER END TIMES VERMINTIDE

INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US ULTIMATE

THE FLAME IN THE FLOOD

FROZEN SYNAPSE PRIME

BEAT COP

SUPER CLOUDBUILT

THE LITTLE ACRE

INSURGENCY

FEAR 3

DEAD AGE

MAGICKA

SERIAL CLEANER

CASTLEVANIA LORDS OF SHADOW 2

FAHRENHEIT REMASTERED

OPERATION FLASHPOINT RED RIVER

ROCKET KNIGHT

LEGO BATMAN

BIOZONE

ADR1FT


Fanatical -

Autonauts

Guards

How to Take Off Your Mask

ENIGMA:

Garfield Kart

Stronghold Legends: Steam Edition

Styx: Master of Shadows

Among the Sleep - Enhanced Edition

EARTH'S DAWN

Do Not Feed the Monkeys

Rain World

Shadwen

Syndrome

The Technomancer

Chess Ultra

Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX!!!!!

DEAD OR SCHOOL

Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom

XBlaze Code: Embryo

XBlaze Lost: Memories

Duke Nukem Forever

GUILTY GEAR Xrd -REVELATOR-

Party Hard 2

The Walking Dead

This War of Mine

Blood: Fresh Supply

Syberia II

If My Heart Had Wings

LoveKami -Divinity Stage-

LoveKami -Useless Goddess-

The Surge

Dungeons 2

The First Templar - Steam Special Edition

Urban Empire

The Dark Eye: Demonicon

Chronicles of Magic: Divided Kingdoms

Endless Fables 3: Dark Moor

King's Heir: Rise to the Throne

Lost Grimoires 3: The Forgotten Well

My Brother Rabbit

Noir Chronicles: City of Crime

Path of Sin: Greed

Queen's Quest 4: Sacred Truce

Tharsis

Little Big Adventure 2

Return to Mysterious Island 2

Damned

Return to Mysterious Island

Odyssey - The Story of Science

Little Big Adventure - Enhanced Edition

Sanitarium

The Royal Marines Commando

STARBO

Raptor: Call of The Shadows - 2015 Edition

Guns of Icarus Online

Hamsterdam

Gates of Hell

Perfect Heist

Aces of the Luftwaffe

Operation Thunderstorm

Clouds & Sheep 2

Archamon

The Crown of Leaves

HERO DEFENSE

Tales From Candlekeep: Tomb of Annihilation

Last Dream: World Unknown

The Swindle

Robothorium: Cyberpunk Dungeon Crawler

Equilinox

Rogue Wizards

Codex of Victory

Haimrik

In Fear I Trust

In Fear I Trust - Episode 2

In Fear I Trust - Episode 3

In Fear I Trust - Episode 4

The Watchmaker

The Uncertain - The Last Quiet Day

World's Dawn

Extinction

Infinite Air with Mark McMorris

Super Inefficient Golf

Tales of Candlekeep: Tomb of Annihilation

Shadwen

Creeping Terror

Fantasy Wars

Ascension to the Throne

Savage Lands

Survivalist

Still Life

Holy Avatar vs. Maidens of the Dead

Syberia

Miasmata

Syberia II

Looterkings

Damned

Lost Civilization

QuestRun

Railroad Pioneer

SkyDrift

Thunder Wolves

Airline Tycoon Deluxe

Overclocked: A History of Violence

Dark Strokes: The Legend of the Snow Kingdom Collector's Edition

Eternal Journey: New Atlantis

Forest Legends: The Call of Love Collector's Edition

House of 1000 Doors: Evil Inside

House of 1000 Doors: Serpent Flame

Joan Jade and the Gates of Xibalba

Love Alchemy: A Heart in Winter

Magic Encyclopedia: Moon Light

Mind's Eye: Secrets of the Forgotten

The Fog: Trap for Moths

Analogue: A Hate Story

Detention

The Coma: Recut

The Coma: Recut - Soundtrack & Art Pack DLC

Revolution Ace

Californium

SkyDrift

Clinically Dead

Out There Somewhere

Fate Tectonics

Plazma Being

One Finger Death Punch

ESport Manager

Dungeons 2

Galaxy Squad

Oriental Empires

Stars in Shadow

TASTEE Lethal Tactics

The Lion's Song: Season Pass

Homeworld Remastered Collection

Shuyan Saga

Steel Vampire

Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX!!!!

Guilty Gear X2 #Reload

Lifeless Planet Premier Edition

Snake Pass

BEEP

DRAGON: A Game About a Dragon

Destiny Warriors RPG

Gun Rocket

Labyronia RPG

Labyronia RPG 2

LocoSoccer

Out There Somewhere

Storm of Spears RPG

Subterra

Sun Blast: Star Fighter

The Odyssey: Winds of Athena

Tiny Bridge: Ratventure

Crouching Pony Hidden Dragon

GAUGE

Isbarah

Poöf

Puddle

Replay - VHS is not dead

Wooden Sen'SeY

House of Caravan

Cultures Northland

Splatter Zombie Apocalypse

Squirbs

Learn Japanese to survive Hiragana Battle

Airscape The Fall of Gravity

Revolution Ace

Labyronia RPG

PARTICLE MACE

Cultures 8th Wonder of the World

GIBZ

STAR WARS Jedi Knight - Jedi Academy

STAR WARS Jedi Knight II - Jedi Outcast

Dex

Figment

Hive Jump

Jalopy

PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist

THE KING OF FIGHTERS XIII STEAM EDITION

Blades of Time Limited Edition

Blood Knights

Demonicon

Drakensang

GemCraft - Chasing Shadows

Heroes of Annihilated Empires

Inquisitor

Knights and Merchants

Lichdom: Battlemage

Numen: Contest of Heroes

Rune Classic

Sudeki

Two Worlds II: Velvet Edition

Wizardry 6&7

Asteroid Bounty Hunter

Charlie's Adventure

Cube Runner

Duke of Alpha Centauri

Fly and Destroy

Hungry Flame

Neon Space

Neon Space 2

ShipLord

Slash It

Slash It 2

Spin Rush

Survive in Space

Upside Down

Distant Worlds: Universe

Heavy Burger

I am not a Monster

Learn Japanese to survive Hiragana Battle

SimplePlanes

Sword Legacy Omen

Moero Chronicle

Moero Chronicle - Deluxe Pack DLC

35MM

Deadlight

Distrust

Killing Room

March of the Living

Savage Lands

Tharsis

Valnir Rok Survival RPG

Dreamscapes: The Sandman - Premium Edition

Dreamscapes: Nightmare's Heir - Premium Edition

Sea Legends: Phantasmal Light Collector's Edition

Witch's Pranks: Frog's Fortune Collector's Edition

Kingdom of Aurelia: Mystery of the Poisoned Dagger

Taken Souls: Blood Ritual Collector's Edition

Silver Tale

A Plot Story

Hexus

Jane Angel: Templar Mystery

Dream Walker

Witch's Tales

Escape Doodland

Mad Dream: Coma

Earthworms

Clinically Dead

Mech Rage

Camper Jumper Simulator

ESport Manager

Darkest Hunters

The Sexy Brutale

Beholder

The Last Door - Collector's Edition

The Last Door: Season 2 - Collector's Edition

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller

System Shock: Enhanced Edition

System Shock 2

Metal Fatigue

Spirits of Xanadu

Shadow Man

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

Homeworld Remastered Collection

Tales from Candlekeep: Tomb of Annihilation

PAYDAY 2

Jalopy

Hover

Figment

Subterrain

STARWHAL

Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure

Joggernauts

The Long Reach

Mainlining

Coffin Dodgers

The Rivers of Alice - Extended Version

Zombie Kill of the Week - Reborn

The Walking Vegetables

Unbox: Newbie's Adventure

System Shock: Enhanced Edition

UNLOVED

Killing Room

Sir, You Are Being Hunted

Styx: Shards of Darkness

STAR WARS - Knights of the Old Republic

STAR WARS Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords

Shadowrun: Hong Kong - Extended Edition

SimCity™ 4 Deluxe Edition

STAR WARS™ - The Force Unleashed™ Ultimate Sith Edition

METAL SLUG X

Oxenfree

Galactic Civilizations II: Ultimate Edition

Sins of a Solar Empire: Trinity

Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes

The Political Machine 2016

The Corporate Machine

Sorcerer King: Rivals

Demigod

Go! Go! Nippon! ~My First Trip to Japan~

March of the Living

Four Sided Fantasy

Dungeon Rushers

The Invisible Hours

Dead Secret

The Free Ones

HIVESWAP: Act 1

Castle of no Escape 2

Galactic Lords

W4RR-i/o-RS

Nogibator: Way Of Legs

WN - ShP

Fairy Lands: Rinka and the Fairy Gems

Drill Arena

Walhall

Er-Spectro

Risky Rescue

Frederic: Evil Strikes Back

16bit Trader

Midnight Mysteries

Midnight Mysteries 4: Haunted Houdini

Zombie Bowl-o-Rama

Little Farm

Silver Knight

ANKI

Lift It

3 Coins At School

Deep Eclipse: New Space Odyssey

Green Ranch

The lost joystick

UBERMOSH Vol. 5

Trip to Vinelands

TTV2

SWARMRIDER OMEGA

UBERMOSH

UBERMOSH:BLACK

UBERMOSH Vol.3

Iesabel

Daemonsgate

Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess

Spiritual Warfare & Wisdom Tree Collection

Prophecy I - The Viking Child

Drakkhen

Hostage: Rescue Mission

King's Table - The Legend of Ragnarok

Eternam

Chaos Control

Bubble Ghost

Mystical

Alien Rampage

Frederic: Resurrection of Music

Teddy Floppy Ear - Mountain Adventure

Teddy Floppy Ear - Kayaking

Millie

Sparkle 2 Evo

Story of the Survivor

SharpShooter3D

Goodbye My King

Watch This!

Crazy Oafish Ultra Blocks: Big Sale

Crystal City

Bloody Boobs

AuroraRL

Dispatcher

Casino Noir

Detective Noir

Reptilians Must Die!

The Braves & Bows

Zzzz-Zzzz-Zzzz

The Dweller

Surfingers

Timberman

Sparkle 3 Genesis

Cat on a Diet

Zombillie

Asteroid Bounty Hunter

ShipLord

Neon Prism

Slash It

Slash It 2

Cube Runner

Upside Down

Spin Rush

Neon Space

Neon Space 2

Duke of Alpha Centauri

Hungry Flame

Survive in Space

Fly and Destroy

Charlie's Adventure

Luxor Evolved

Luxor: Amun Rising HD

LUXOR: Mah Jong

Luxor: Quest for the Afterlife

Samantha Swift and the Hidden Roses of Athena

Red Risk

Particula

Overcast - Walden and the Werewolf

OutDrive

Invasion

Cubium Dreams

Iron Impact

Stigmat

Marco Polo

Cybercube

Mr. Dubstep

Monstrum

Wick

Lethe - Episode One

35MM

I Shall Remain

Silence of the Sleep

Rebel Galaxy

Punch Club - Deluxe Edition

Grey Goo Definitive Edition

RiME

Gloom

SharpShooter3D

Goodbye My King

Crystal City

Art of Murder - Cards of Destiny

Art of Murder - Deadly Secrets

Art of Murder - FBI Confidential

Art of Murder - Hunt for the Puppeteer

Art of Murder - The Secret Files

Chronicles of Mystery - Secret of the Lost Kingdom

Chronicles of Mystery - The Legend of the Sacred Treasure

Chronicles of Mystery - The Tree of Life

Chronicles of Mystery: The Scorpio Ritual

Megadimension Neptunia VII

Megadimension Neptunia VII Digital Deluxe Set DLC

Galactic Lords

W4RR-i/o-RS

Nogibator: Way Of Legs

WN - ShP

Fairy Lands: Rinka and the Fairy Gems

Drill Arena

Walhall

Er-Spectro

Daemonsgate

Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess

Spiritual Warfare & Wisdom Tree Collection

Prophecy I - The Viking Child

Drakkhen

Marco Polo

Hostage: Rescue Mission

King's Table - The Legend of Ragnarok

Eternam

Chaos Control

Bubble Ghost

Mystical

Alien Rampage

Ocean Classics Volume 1

200% Mixed Juice

War of the Human Tanks

Worms

Worms Reloaded: Game of the Year Edition

Worms Ultimate Mayhem - Deluxe Edition

Worms Crazy Golf

Worms Blast

Worms Pinball

The Mooseman

Sky Break

Tropico 5

Super Cloudbuilt

Tower 57

Dex

Epistory - Typing Chronicles

Deponia: The Complete Journey

Table Top Racing: World Tour

Riff Racer - Race Your Music!

GT Legends

GTR Evolution

Vangers

Insane 2

Zero Gear

Race.a.bit

Mashed

Race: The WTCC Game + Caterham Expansion

Little Racers STREET

BARRIER X

Super Toy Cars

Mini Motor Racing EVO

Drift Streets Japan

Instant Death

Spirits of Xanadu

Swipe Fruit Smash

Voxel Baller

Breezeblox

BalanCity

VRog

BoomTown! Deluxe

City Siege: Faction Island

Bomb The Monsters!

Crazy Belts

Rush for Glory

Naval Warfare

Insurgency

Blood Knights

Heroes of Annihilated Empires

Wizardry 6 & 7

Drakensang

Rune Classic

Gemcraft - Chasing Shadows

Knights and Merchants

Etherlords I & II

Sudeki

Numen: Contest of Heroes

Inquisitor

Commands & Colors: The Great War

Making History: The Calm and the Storm Gold Edition

Attrition: Tactical Fronts

Imperial Glory

Praetorians

Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines

Commandos: Beyond the Call of Duty

Commandos 2: Men of Courage

Commandos 3: Destination Berlin

Ominous Tales: The Forsaken Isle

Beyond the Invisible: Evening

Tearstone

Entwined: Strings of Deception

Vengeance: Lost Love

The Rosebud Condominium

Where Angels Cry: Tears of the Fallen (Collector's Edition)

Lightning: D-Day

Congo Merc

Hold the Line: The American Revolution

Battles of the Ancient World

Peninsular War Battles

1812: The Invasion of Canada

Russian Front

7 Wonders II

7 Wonders of the Ancient World

7 Wonders: Ancient Alien Makeover

7 Wonders: Magical Mystery Tour

7 Wonders: Treasures of Seven

Discovery! A Seek and Find Adventure

Gardens Inc. 2: The Road to Fame

Glowfish

Little Farm

Luxor 2 HD

Luxor 3

Luxor Evolved

Luxor HD

Luxor: 5th Passage

Luxor: Amun Rising HD

LUXOR: Mah Jong

Luxor: Quest for the Afterlife

Midnight Mysteries

Midnight Mysteries 3: Devil on the Mississippi

Midnight Mysteries 4: Haunted Houdini

Midnight Mysteries: Salem Witch Trials

Midnight Mysteries: Witches of Abraham - Collector's Edition

Pickers

Samantha Swift and the Hidden Roses of Athena

The Dweller

Iesabel

EM: Shader Attack

Invasion

Labyronia RPG

Labyronia RPG 2

Legend of Mysteria RPG

Chosen 2

Balloon Blowout

Bayla Bunny

Block Blowout

Chess Knight 2

Dessert Storm

Fantastic 4 In A Row 2

Fantastic Checkers 2

Ludo Supremo

Mahjong Deluxe 2: Astral Planes

Mahsung Deluxe

Mini Golf Mundo

Pepe Porcupine

Puppy Dog: Jigsaw Puzzles

Puzzles Under The Hill

Ultimate Word Search 2: Letter Boxed

Bubble Blowout

Train Valley

Broken Sword Trilogy

Daemonsgate

Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess

Prophecy I - The Viking Child

Drakkhen

Marco Polo

Hostage: Rescue Mission

King's Table - The Legend of Ragnarok

Bubble Ghost

Mystical

Ocean Classics Volume 1

Pandora: First Contact

35MM

Grand Ages: Rome GOLD

GT Legends

Nether: Resurrected

CAT Interstellar

Circut Breakers

Memoranda

Sins of the Demon RPG

Gladiator Trainer

Dragon Sinker

Neon Chrome

Skullgirls

Mad Games Tycoon

Replica

Patrician IV - Steam Special Edition

Patrician IV: Rise of a Dynasty

Patrician III

The Swindle

Zenith

Hive Jump

ICY: Frostbite Edition

Commandos Collection

Revhead

Car Mechanic Simulator 2015

Demolish & Build 2017

Robot Squad Simulator 2017

Skullgirls & DLC

The Mims Beginning

Dreamstones

Cally's Caves 4

Tank Battle: East Front

Tank Battle: Pacific

Tank Battle: Normandy

Tank Battle: North Africa

Tank Battle: 1944

Tank Battle: Blitzkrieg

Tank Battle: 1945

Civil War: 1861

Civil War: Bull Run 1861

Civil War: 1862

Civil War: 1865

Civil War: Gettysburg

Civil War: 1864

SK8

King of the Eggs

Bouncy Bob

Hotel Dracula

Warfront Defenders: Westerplatte

Pony Island

Who's Your Daddy

SWARMRIDER OMEGA

SWARMRIDER OMEGA OST DLC

SWARMRIDERS: Original Soundtrack DLC

DinoSystem

Super Sports Surgery

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Game of the Year Edition

Startide

Timberman

Kathy Rain

Table Top Racing: World Tour

Z

Dark Years

Exowar

Total Extreme Wrestling

World of Mixed Martial Arts 3

IGT Slots Paradise Garden

Anti-Opoly

Wrestling Spirit 3

Draft Day Sports College Basketball 3

Draft Day Sports Pro Basketball 4

Defend Your Life

Hyperdrive Massacre

The lost joystick

Orbital Racer

RUNRUNRUN

Murder...

UBERMOSH:BLACK

Trip to Vinelands

SWARMRIDER OMEGA

Bad Dream: Coma

Mad Games Tycoon

Perfect Universe

Daddy's Gone A-Hunting

Deep Dungeons of Doom

Worms

PolyRace

The Way


Indiegala -

Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders

The Secret Order 6: Bloodline

Demon Hunter 4: Riddles of Light

Lost Grimoires 2: Shard of Mystery

Animal Lover

Magi Trials Deluxe Edition

Highschool Possession

Topless Hentai Mosaic

Hentai Hexa Mosaic

Borderus

The Myth Seekers: The Legacy of Vulcan

Eventide 2: The Sorcerers Mirror

Nightmares from the Deep 3: Davy Jones

Beach Bounce

Beach Bounce - Soundtrack

Beauty Bounce

Bunny Bounce

Club Life

Club Life - Soundtrack

Divine Slice of Life

Divine Slice of Life - Soundtrack

Echo Tokyo - Wallpapers

Echo Tokyo: Graphic Novel

Echo Tokyo: Intro

Highschool Possession

Highschool Romance

Magi Trials Deluxe Edition

Summer Fling

Summer Fling OST

Sword of Asumi Deluxe Edition

Knock-knock

Systematic Immunity

OddPlanet

The Quest for Achievements Remix

Moot District

Ceville

Mutiny!

Magic Trials Deluxe Edition

Hentai Zodiac Puzzle

PUZZLETIME: Lovely Girls

Girls of Hentai Mosaic

Girls of Hentai Mosaic - HQ Artbook & Wallpapers

Hentai Hexa mosaic

Hentai Hexa Mosaic - Soundtrack

Lady's Hentai Mosaic

Lady's Hentai Mosaic - OST

Lady's Hentai Mosaic - PNG Artbook

Pixel Hentai Mosaic

Pixel Hentai Mosaic - OST

Topless Hentai Mosaic

Topless Hentai Mosaic - OST

Topless Hentai Mosaic - PNG Artbook

Echo Tokyo: An Intro

Echo Tokyo - Wallpapers

Echo Tokyo: Graphic Novel

Last Anime boy: Saving loli

Witch College

Pleasure Airlines

Senpai Teaches Me Japanese: Part 1

Chibi Volleyball

My personal Angel

Riddled Corpses

Nandeyanen!?

AstroViking

?????2 / Seven boys 2

TimeTekker

Girls of Hentai Mosaic

Topless Hentai Mosaic

Hentai Hexa mosaic

Lady's Hentai Mosaic

Pixel Hentai Mosaic

Book Series - Alice in Wonderland

On Earth As It Is In Heaven - A Kinetic Novel

BAD END

Frank & the TimeTwister Machine

Linelight

Hook

Franchise Wars

Rush Bros

Grim Legends: The Forsaken Bride

Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden

Without Within 2

Cursed Sight

Beauty Bounce

Highschool Romance

Beach Bounce

Club Life

Echo Tokyo: Intro

Echo Tokyo: Graphic Novel

This Strange Realm Of Mine

Bot Vice

Eliosi's Hunt

Aspect

Grim Legends 2: Song of the Dark Swan

Crime Secrets: Crimson Lily

Grim Legends 3: The Dark City

Particle Mace

Secret of Magia

Sins of the Demon RPG

Splatter - Zombie Apocalypse

Airscape - The Fall of Gravity

Fate Tectonics

Battle Ranch: Pigs vs Plants

Earth Overclocked

Greyfox RPG

Wish -tale of the sixteenth night of lunar month-

Cursed Sight

A Winter's Daydream

Empty Horizons

Poker Pretty Girls Battle: Texas Hold'em

Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire

Pretty Girls Panic!

Mahjong Pretty Girls Battle

Boneless Zombie

Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire

Koi-Koi Japan [Hanafuda playing cards]

Mahjong Pretty Girls Battle: Schools Girls Edition

Wild Romance

Pretty Girls Panic! (Chinese version only)

Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire (Chinese version only)

Slash or Die

Slash or Die 2

RepairBot

Stellar Interface

Trench Run

12 Labours of Hercules VII: Fleecing the Fleece (Platinum Edition)

A Dream For Aaron

A Duel Hand Disaster: Trackher

ARENA GODS

Adelantado Trilogy. Book Two

Adelantado Trilogy. Book one

Adventures of Dragon

Aircraft Evolution

Alice in Wonderland - Hidden Objects

Alicia Quatermain 2: The Stone of Fate

Alicia Quatermain: Secrets Of The Lost Treasures

Amelon

BAD END

BELPAESE: Homecoming

Battle High 2 A+

Beat The Game

Bitcoin Miner

Blind Men

BlowOut

Border of her Heart

Bottom of the 9th

Bravium

Brawlout

Broken Minds

Burnin' Rubber 5 HD

Chinese Ink Painting Puzzle & Creator

ClickBit

Coffee Crawl

Crashday Redline Edition

Crazy Pirate

Crisis in the Kremlin

Crystal Catacombs

Crystals of Niberium

Cube Zone

Cubiques

Cubiques 2

Curse: The Eye of Isis

Digital Resistance

Disparity

Drake of the 99 Dragons

E-Startup

Elbub

FreeHolder

Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance

Goldmine

Gothicc Breaker

Hentai Puzzle

Hentai Sokoban

Hide The Body

I.F.O

Inexplicable Geeks: Dawn of Just Us

Insert Paper: Update

Joy Climb

Judge Dredd 95

Krampus Quest

Krautscape

LOOT BOX ACHIEVEMENT SIMULATOR

Legend of the Skyfish

Lunch Truck Tycoon

MIND SHIFT

Maze of Infection

Mines of Mars

Mini Ghost

Mission: Escape from Island 2

Moto Racer 4

Moto Racer 4 - Space Dasher

Moto Racer 4 - The Truth

Navalny 20!8 : The Rise of Evil

Negligee

Neverliria

Next Hero

ORCS

PLATI NALOG: Favorite Russian Game

Panzer Hearts - War Visual Novel

Paper Shakespeare: To Date Or Not To Date?

Paradox Wrench

Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3

Pixel Hentai Mosaic

Pixelpunk XL

Plant This

Q-YO Blaster

Questr

Ravensword: Shadowlands

River City Super Sports Challenge All Stars Special

Rot Gut

STATUS: INSANE

SUPER BENBO QUEST: TURBO DELUXE

Science Girls

Shadowgrounds

Shield Impact

Shout Of Survival

Spooky Cats

Store Simulator

Suna

SwordBounce

The Adventures of Elena Temple

The Bluecoats: North vs South

The God

The Last Dawn : The first invasion

The Lost Gardens

The Reject Demon: Toko Chapter 0 - Prelude

The Uncertain: Episode 1 - The Last Quiet Day

They Are Hundreds

Toy Odyssey: The Lost and Found

Usual John

Visceral Cubes

WeakWood Throne

Welcome to Princeland

Wings of Vi

World's Dawn

Zombie Desperation

the Line
submitted by MystRChaos to SteamGameSwap [link] [comments]

Rockford Plaza Update

My idea would be for the Rockford Plaza to be updated and allow you to enter it, this is my first time doing the camera surveillance mission for the casino and I think it would work perfectly.
Missions
Since many places in the world are starting to legalize marijuana, you are now able to purchase a dispensary out of the Rockford Plaza. This will replace your current weed farm, and make it far more profitable because supplies are cheaper and you can make passive income (similar to wall safes) from it as well. Your sting is that it's "medical marijuana" however you continue to sell recreational street marijuana.
A little while after you get this set up and do your missions the owner of Rockford Plaza said that he's caught your little charade on camera, and if you want to continue it instead of getting reported to the police, you owe him some favors.
This means you must work with Vincent, who is now head of mall security, and you do a series of missions like shutting down shoplifters, to stopping a fully-fledged heist.
You are paid handsomely for these efforts.
Features
  1. The mall would only be open for certain parts of the day, but coming in after those hours would allow you to rob certain stores, but watch out for mall security or else you'll get kicked out and fined.
  2. You can buy upgrades for you drone or RC car through an RC shop owned by a 60 or so year old man named Zero (same Zero from the GTA San Andreas missions). His shop has things like:
  1. There would be a best buy style tech store:
  1. There would be a furniture store that allows you to buy custom furniture for apartments
  2. A sporting goods store, with things like hunting bows, throwing knives, exclusive athletic clothes, etc.
  3. Food courts, they're mainly just for the atmosphere and to make it feel like a mall
Other Features
Near grove street in GTA there's some kind of big warehouse store, opening this up for use in one of those missions would be cool, but the real cool thing is in free mode it would be accessible and the whole building would be destructible. You could steal a forklift inside of it and tip over giant pillars, it would just be a fun area where almost the whole store can be broken.
submitted by TheCoochieSnatcher69 to gtaonline [link] [comments]

Newbie Player Guide to Alpha 19 on PC

7 Days to Die Alpha 19 Newbie Guide (PC Version)
I've seen a number of posts looking for a "how to play," or "introduction," to the game. This is my attempt to write one.
At the beginning of the game, you wake up video-game naked (i.e., in your underwear) and completely ignorant. Your goal is to survive, which is made harder by a) your nude ignorance, and b) the fact that you're living in the aftermath of a combined zombie/nuclear apocalypse.
Your character has four on-screen meters showing your status: food, water, health, and stamina (or call it whatever you like -- fatigue, energy, etc.).
Food and water levels go down unless you eat or drink something. They go down faster if you're doing something that burns stamina (like running). They go down faster if you're too hot or too cold (which is usually only an issue in biomes like desert or snow when you're not properly dressed). They can also go down faster with certain health effects (like getting dysentery -- I'll talk about these effects in a second). Run out of food or water and you will die. (Pay attention to the status bars; in real-life survival situations, regularly getting water is more important than food, but in-game, they both matter.) (Pro tip: Food and drinks you can make yourself are better in many ways than canned goods or basic crops.)
Health is just like in any other video game. It goes down when you get hit, or fall, or step on pointy things like spikes or cacti. Run out of health and you die. Eating food, using certain medical supplies, or just waiting will cause health to go back up. Again, certain health effects may nerf your health bar.
Stamina shows when you're tired. If you run out of stamina, then you can't swing weapons or tools, run, jump, or do other elements of an active post-apocalyptic lifestyle. The good news is that your stamina comes back faster than health while waiting. Drinking improves stamina recovery, and eating gives a temporary boost to maximum stamina. The bad news is that you will be using stamina constantly as you go about your day. (Pro tip: Check out the various beverages in the game to find stamina benefits -- particularly red tea and coffee, also known as the mining combo.)
Alpha 19 has a variety of different health effects that can hamper your food and water consumption, your health/stamina recovery, your maximum health/stamina, your speed, or your ability to use tools. Dysentry comes from eating rotting flesh or drinking unboiled water. Don't do that if at all possible. (Pro tip: You can eat animal fat and snowberries -- or yucca fruit in the desert biome -- if you run out of food in the first couple of days.) Other de-buffs come from injuries. The good news is that if you click on the icon showing the effect, it will bring up your character with info on exactly what you need to mitigate the effect, e.g., put on a splint or a cast to speed healing from a broken leg. Two particular health effects worth calling out are bleeding and infection. If you're bleeding, your screen will flash and your health will keep dropping. Use a bandage, medicated bandage, or medkit to stop it. ANYBODY can make bandages from cloth, so keep some with you. Infection refers not to gangrene, but to the dreaded zombie infection...a disease so horrifying that it helped usher in the fall of civilization. The ONLY way to cure this dangerous disease is...to eat some honey or take an over-the-counter antibiotic. Really, infection should only ever be a serious issue in the first week. (Pro tip: using an ax on tree stumps has a random chance to drop honey.)
Encumbrance: You have a fixed number of inventory slots. You will note that three rows are clear at the start of the game, while the final two rows are not. Those extra rows represent encumbrance, and filling them up will significantly slow you down and increase your stamina usage. Try to avoid that outside of cleared or safe areas. You can increase the number of non-encumbered slots with clothing and armor mods, or through the Pack Mule perk. I recommend finding or making pocket mods ASAP and skipping the perk, though a single level in the early game can make things easier for newbies. (Pro tip: Some items, like most raw materials, food, drinks, medicines, etc., stack in inventory; some items like clothing, mods, and weapons do not. Smart inventory management when looting and salvaging will keep that in mind: do I really want to pick up that pair of shoes, or hold onto that dirty water that will stack if I find more?)
All right, now that the basics are out of the way, how do I get better at surviving? The answer to that is two-fold. 1) Learn how to do more things. 2) Get better stuff.
How do you learn more things? You get experience points (xp) from almost everything in this game. Eventually, when your xp bar fills, you will gain a level and get a perk point. You can use that to select perks, which all have various benefits. At the start, you will get a series of basic quests that serve as a mini-tutorial, and you will gain 4 perk points from finishing them (make sure you complete them!). (Pro tip: Upgrading blocks, e.g., turning flagstone walls into brick walls, is an exceedingly generous way of earning xp in Alpha 19; using a hammer on a block will tell you what material is needed to upgrade it.)
Which perks should I pick first? Well...as a newbie, I recommend Lucky Looter (which improves your chance of finding good stuff), either Pummel Pete or Skull Crusher (depending on whether you want to use clubs or sledges), Sexual Tyrannosaurus (which improves your stamina usage), and something from the Fortitude recovery perks. Healing faster, using less food, or running away are all useful. Ask a different player and you will get wildly different suggestions. Eventually, you will figure out your preferred style of play and pick things accordingly. Note that perks tend to be useful to different degrees based on whether you are in early, mid, or late game.
The other way to learn stuff is to find skill books and schematics. Schematics let you craft new things. Skill books give you a free perk, basically. Collect all seven of a type to get a bonus perk. Some of those are quite useful. Some of them are very circumstance-specific. Regardless, reading an unread book or schematic at least nets you bonus xp. You can tell that you've read a book by the tiny book icon (it will be open if read already). Even if you've read it, you can keep it and sell it for some cash. (Pro tip: Technically, schematics and books stack in inventory; in practice, finding multiple copies of the same one in a single POI is relatively rare.)
How do I get better stuff? There are three ways to do that: 1) Loot it; 2) Make it; 3) Buy it.
Looting: There are many objects that serve as containers in the game. Some objects, like cars, may or may not be a container. Just get close. If you get the option to search it, then it is a container. Not every container will have stuff. Searching containers takes time and makes noise. Locked containers need to be disassembled or have the lock picked in order to open them. Alpha 19 changed looting to be highly level- and time-dependent. You will not get top-tier loot in the early game. Even if you somehow fight your way to the roof of the Shotgun Messiah weapons plant on Day 1, you are likely to find stone spears and maybe a blunderbuss. (Pro tip: a pair of lucky goggles will increase your chance of finding better loot when opening a container for the first time.)
Crafting: If you know how to build something, and you have the necessary ingredients, and you have access to the correct work area, then you can create something from scratch. Perks and schematics will tell you how to build stuff, though there are a handful of things you can build right at the start (like you saw in your tutorial quests). Ingredients can be looted, or you can salvage them by destroying items. See the next paragraph for more on this. Lastly, some items require you to be at a workbench, chemistry station, campfire, or forge to create (there will be an icon next to the item in the build list telling you which). You can build all of these work areas if you know how, buy them from traders, or use ones you find scattered around the world. Traders have one of each, though they probably won't all be functional (but the broken ones can be looted, at least). Caveat: In Alpha 19, you can build up to level 5 gear (higher level gear is usually better and has more slots for mods), but level 6 gear can be found or purchased. Level 6 gear is typically better than anything you can build of the same type.
Salvage: Getting raw materials can be done in a number of ways. Use tools (axes, picks, wrenches, shovels) to extract things from blocks in the world. This is mostly fairly intuitive -- shovels work best on dirt, cement, etc., while axes are good on wooden items like tables and trees. Tools have different levels and can be modded to improve their abilities. Pay attention to the "block damage" stat of the tool to compare them. Some blocks are better sources than others. You can find mineral nodes scattered around that provide you with coal, iron, nitrate, oil shale, or lead, and those are excellent sources (Pro tip: the nodes are just the tip of the mineral iceberg; you can dig down to extract more ore.)
Another way to get raw materials is to use the scrap command in inventory (personally, I found the hotkey for this a little too easy to hit accidentally, so I remapped it). This includes most useful items of gear, as well as certain decorative items like faucets and chairs that you can pick up. Note that many metal items can be put in the forge to smelt them down for more resources than you get using the scrap command, including iron tools. (Pro-tip: Smelting radiators that you get from disassembling cars, heating radiators, and AC units is a great source of brass for crafting ammo; you can also smelt Dukes...but you're usually better off using them to buy ammo from a merchant.)
Buying: Merchants are scattered over the map. Setting up a base near one is a good idea. The post-apocalyptic currency in this game is the Duke, a brass coin that looks like a casino chip. (There are no bottle caps in this game!) If you don't have any money, then you can instead trade your labor for payment. Complete a quest and you'll get cash, xp, and a free prize of some kind (you get a choice -- ammo, meds, gear, etc.). Quests boil down to: retrieve a package, kill some zombies, kill some zombies AND retrieve a package, or dig up and retrieve a package. In the early game, in particular, quests can be very lucrative. (Pro tip: The Daring Adventurer perk can improve the rewards you get from quests if you decide you want to focus on that aspect of the game.) Merchants sell all sorts of things: food, raw materials, weapons, armor, vehicles, skill books, schematics. Their inventory resets daily-ish, so pop back on a regular basis.
Cheesy pro-tip: When you trigger a quest location, the POI will refresh to an "unexplored" state. This automatically refills all of the loot, etc., as well as repopulating the zombies. You can clear the location, then trigger the quest and clear it again for double the rewards. Just don't leave any loot inside a container that will refresh.
What about combat? Why haven't you really mentioned the z-word yet? Well, honestly, you'll probably spend a lot more time salvaging and looting than fighting (with the exception of Blood Moon horde nights, which I'll talk about below). Most zombies in the early game are slow and fairly easy to avoid. If you can avoid getting mobbed, then you will probably be all right.
Animals, however, will mess you up. You will quickly start yawning when you see a single stumbling housewife zombie, but a wolf will continue to be a threat well into the mid-game. Zombie animals are also a threat. Zombie dogs are fairly easy to kill but come in packs of 3-7. Zombie bears will soak up more damage than you can easily dish out in the early game. Zombie vultures are hard to hit and are really good and causing lacerations and bleeding. I've gotten infected by zombie animals far more commonly than I have from human zombies.
Zombie dogs, coyotes, wild cats, and wolves: running works until you run out of stamina, and then you're dead. The best bet in the early game is to find someplace high they can't reach and snipe them if you have enough arrows or ammo. These animals can and will sneak up on you. The good news is that they will make random noises that will let you know they're in the area.
Snakes: I've seen these in the desert and wasteland biomes. Good eatin', but they are quiet and can attack without warning. Luckily, they die easily.
Wild pigs: Don't bother them. Seriously, just leave them alone until you have good guns.
Bears and zombie bears: The good news is that they won't chase you as easily as some other animals. They are also not as fast and you can outrun them. The bad news is that if you get cornered, they can take and dish out huge amounts of damage.
Zombie vultures: These will attack you if you're injured, or are riding a vehicle. Shotguns are the easiest way to deal with them. Hitting them with melee weapons is an irritating chore that often ends with negative health effects. Possibly the most annoying creature in the game.
Deer, rabbits, and chickens: They don't attack, but run if attacked. They can be a good source of meat. (Pro tip: you can get quests from slips of paper you find in loot; the ones asking you to do things like, "kill a bunch of rabbits by throwing cans of Sham at them," are never worth it unless you're desperate to try something new.)
As the game advances, and as you explore some of the larger points of interest (POI), you will run across more dangerous zombies. Feral zombies have glowing eyes and always move at a full run. Crawlers will jump around like demented jackrabbits. Glowing versions of zombies regenerate health. A good rule of thumb is that if something is different about a zombie, it probably is more dangerous. (Pro tip: Quite a few POI's have alert triggers that will cause a bunch of nearby zombies to wake up at once, and stealth doesn't avoid tripping them; best to always have a clear avenue of retreat when entering a new location.)
Weapon selection: As said earlier, clubs and sledgehammers are your basic melee option. Either works well for the early game or to save ammo or hit quietly in the later game. Spears, axes, and knives/machetes can also be used, but they require more practice and really NEED perks to be fully optimized. Note that knives and axes are mostly meant to be tools. Stun batons require another source of damage, either turrets or other players, to be effective, and are also perk/mod-dependent.
Bows can easily kill basic zombies quietly with a headshot. Use the best bow or crossbow and the best ammunition that you can. Do away with stone arrows/bolts as soon as you can find or build the iron versions. You'll need to decide for yourself if you want to keep using bows once guns are available. I like them, but your mileage may vary. (Pro tip: There is a skill book that allows you to craft flaming and explosive arrows; sadly, there is no way to ride around in a Dodge Charger, shooting exploding arrows out the window while Dixie plays from the car horn.)
Guns are easily the best option in the game...and while perks can make them more effective, they aren't necessary. Don't hesitate to pull out a shotgun just because you put all your perk points into pistols if you run out of 9mm ammo. There is a fair amount of ammo in this game, and you can make more...but I always keep a club or sledge with me just in case. Having a gun makes exploring the harsher biomes a lot easier. The trade-offs for gun selection are pretty in line with any other game that has guns. Some burn ammo quickly. Some have low ammunition capacity. Some are better at long range. (Pro tip: having several loaded blunderbusses or double-barreled shotguns in your tool belt can provide an early-game rapid-fire option for dealing with tougher opponents.)
Weapon perks and skill books: Each type of weapon has an associated perk, and an associated skill book set. Maxing out both can make a fairly sizeable difference, and can have some unexpected other benefits. For example, one of the skill books gives you a 10% barter bonus if you happen to be holding a .357 while trading.
Blood Moon Horde Nights: Every 7 days (by default), the sky will turn red. When night falls (hour 22 by default), a horde will spawn near the player. Every zombie in that horde will magically know exactly where you are and will rush at you to eat your delicious flesh.
The devs of the game have made it clear that they want you to FIGHT the zombies, and have gone well out of their way to make turtling behind defenses less viable. Zombies will break down walls -- even ones made of brick and concrete. They will dig to reach you. They jump on top of each other to climb to get you (like in the Brad Pitt zombie flick). As the game progresses, zombies will appear that are capable of spitting acid, or that act as suicide bombers (can you call it suicide bombing if they're already dead?). (Pro tip: Bomb zombies, also known as Demolishers, can be taken down by head or leg shots; shooting them in the chest is a bad idea, despite the fact that shooting the glowing spot is normally the best move in a video game.)
Having said that, building defenses and traps can be very effective at delaying or channeling zombies, and can effectively thin the horde. There are pretty much two approaches people use to deal with a horde night.
  1. Find a POI that prevents the zombies from reaching you and then wait out the attack. Anyplace high with enough metal or stone to last for a while will work. Large stores, fire departments, skyscrapers, water towers, etc., can all work, though the smaller the location, the more quickly it will fall to the zombies eventually.
  2. Build a fortress. This is usually a setup that includes auto-turrets, traps, spikes, and walls made of brick or concrete. Often, they're set up to lead zombies into a killing zone where you can shoot or bomb them into bits. There are many YouTube videos on different approaches, and they range from lore-friendly to extremely cheesy exploitations of the AI or physics engine.
Note that these two are not mutually exclusive. It's pretty common to use POI's at first and then try building your own, or to move back to POI's if your attempt at a custom fortress is less effective than you had hoped. (Pro-tip: Don't use your home base for horde nights...at least until you've got a LOT of experience fortifying against horde nights.)
Creating a home base: Every survivor needs a place to keep their stuff. Just like with a horde base, you can either re-purpose a POI or build your own from scratch.
If you use a POI, then make sure you put down your bedroll. That will keep sleeping zombies from respawning in the area. If you want to use a bedroll as a way of regularly resetting your spawn point, then you're probably better off building your own base. That said, a good POI to use as a base has height. Using a forge on the first floor is a good way to attract random zombies. It's also good to find someplace with brick or concrete walls, as they'll last longer against wandering foes. Also, keep in mind that you'll be going in and out a lot, so you don't want it to be too hard to get in and out. (Pro tip: lone zombies can't jump to ladders that are two blocks off the ground, but you can; this doesn't work so well with hordes, as they climb over each other.)
By default, zombies are faster at night, so early game nights are a good time to huddle up in a base and craft things. When you run out of things to craft, READ the descriptions of your perks, skill books, and the built-in journal entries. You'll be surprised how much information is buried in there. You can also take the time to look at the map and plan out the next day's activity. (Pro tip: Find a cluster of close-together POI's on the map, and put a chest or storage box in the middle to serve as a temporary loot repository; inventory item stacking means that having a collection point can mean many fewer trips back to your base with the fruits of your effort.)
Vehicles: Maps in this game are fairly large. The solution to moving about to different biomes (which have different resources and different POI's) is to make or buy a vehicle. Anybody can assemble vehicles if they have the right parts, but some of the parts are locked behind perks/schematics. Taking the first-level vehicle perk can be useful, as the bicycle isn't a bad starting vehicle and the perk unlocks wheels, which every other vehicle needs. (Pro-tip: the easiest way to get gas when out-and-about is to salvage the many derelict cars.) Zombies and wildlife are pretty harmless if you can speed past them...with the exception of vultures, which can be annoying enough to make you stop your motorcycle just to shotgun them out of the sky.
Mods: There are tons of clothing, weapon, and armor mods in the game. Read the descriptions, as they can have a huge impact on effectiveness. (Alpha 19 has no vehicle mods, despite the fact that vehicles have mod slots.) If you open an item for modding, then any mods in your inventory that can be used for that item will start flashing, making it easy to see which mods go with that item. (Pro tip: There is a boot mod that reduces falling damage that is worth its weight in gold. Not only is it really easy to fall in some POI's, but the de-buff from spraining or breaking a leg when zombies are about can be utterly lethal.)
Power tools: Power tools are very powerful. Augers and chainsaws harvest materials very rapidly. They also use gas and make a ton of noise. They tend to quickly attract screamers, which are zombies that scream until other zombies show up to find out what all the fuss is about. Kill them quickly to avoid hordes interrupting your mining. (Pro tip: The physics engine of the game means that mine collapses are a thing, and they can be deadly; shoring up the ceiling with wood blocks can help prevent this, but augers can mine so quickly that you can lose track of how deeply you've gone beyond your supports.) The annoying pinging noise made by augers is an Alpha 19 addition that was generally disliked by everyone.
Repairing items: Many items like tools, weapons, and armor will degrade over time. Weapons and tools will let you know they need repair...typically when you need them the most. Armor never notifies you. It just stops working. Check your item status bars to figure out when to repair them. Simple tools and weapons can be fixed with wood and stone. More sophisticated items require repair kits. In Alpha 19, repair kits are a generic fix-all for any advanced item, which greatly simplifies things. They can be crafted with forged iron and duct tape. (Pro tip: forged iron can be made in any forge, but you can also salvage them from disassembling weight sets, desk and gun safes, and NON-FUNCTIONAL vending machines; salvaging them can be tedious in the early game but can be worth it to keep your precious firearms and armor functioning.)
Farming: You will find seeds, or you can take a perk or find a schematic to craft seeds. It takes five cobs of corn to create one corn seed, which is odd given that the whole grain is basically made of seeds...but chalk it up to game-play balancing. To plant a seed, you need a farm plot (except for mushrooms, which can grow on any surface), which you can craft with wood, rotting flesh, clay, and nitrate. Once planted, it will grow in three stages. Harvest it at stage 3 by punching the plant, and it will revert to stage 1 and deposit the appropriate food item into your inventory. If you accidentally harvest the seed, just replant it. If you want to get physically fit, do a push up in the real world every time you accidentally punch the ground or the air instead of your crop. (Pro tip: Don't harvest with a mostly full inventory, as if your tool belt slot is the last open spot, the crop will go there, and your next attempted punch will instead eat the last one you harvested.)
Electricity: Fire attracts zombies like moths. Using electric lights is a convenient way to avoid that, as zombies are Luddites and don't care for the products of industry. The most convenient way to light up your home base is with lanterns, but you need to find a certain skill book to make them. The good news is that their batteries never need recharging. You can also get flashlights, or mods that attach lights to your helmet or your weapon (press F to pay your respects...er, sorry, to turn on your light). You can also craft a variety of stand-alone electric lights, but that requires a separate energy source.
Energy sources come in three varieties. Battery packs hold up to six car batteries and drain the batteries over time. You can recharge the pack by connecting it to a different energy source. Generator banks hold up to six engines (recoverable from many derelict vehicles, among other sources) that burn gasoline to provide power. Solar banks contain solar cells and generate power as long as they are in sunlight. They also cannot be crafted and are as expensive as hell. (Pro-tip: Higher-level batteries last longer; use level 1 and 2 batteries to craft vehicles, sell, or smelt for lead, and keep the better ones for the battery banks.)
Use wiring tools to connect energy sources to energy consumers. There are some slightly wonky rules to how you can connect, but it isn't hard to learn with a little trial and error. Wiring doesn't cost you anything, so experiment freely. You can put various switches between the consumer and the source: toggle switches, pressure plates, and motion sensors being the most common, though there are other options. Switches require power, but less power than an active consumer. This allows you to, for example, conserve power in the daytime by turning off active defenses and lights so you don't waste battery charge or gasoline. (Pro tip: a solar bank charging a full battery bank will provide quiet, continuous power, at which point you can feel free to light up your place like a Vegas casino 24/7.)
Stealth: Some players will tell you stealth is impossible in this game. That is not true. What is true is that some situations negate stealth, most particularly Blood Moon hordes. Just tell yourself that the red moon makes their senses so acute that they can smell a living human from a mile away -- if you can't rationalize it away as a game balance issue. Some POI's also have event triggers that are based on your location rather than how stealthy you are being. Chalk that up to dramatic license. This is a game where zombies are real and I can carry a motorcycle in my boot. Get over it.
There are some things you need to know about stealth, though, to do it effectively. Your stealth rating is a combination of noise and visibility. Clomping around in heavy armor, waving a torch or flaming club around, or using a flashlight will make you easy to notice. Firing a gun, whacking a wrench against a metal appliance, or jumping up and down on a pile of trash will also make you easy to notice. That means using light armor, using a bow or melee weapon, and crouching are all ways to avoid being seen.
There are a number of skill books, perks, armor and weapon mods, and craftable gear that can all make you more stealthy. With diligence, you can walk up behind a sleeping zombie, smack him in the head with a sledgehammer, and not disturb the other one right next to him. Will this make the game much easier? I would argue no. It certainly makes some specific situations much easier. Clearing out a mini-horde in a POI with a bow before they wake up can be much less stressful, certainly. The lack of universal effectiveness definitely makes it a playstyle choice, however, rather than an over-powered build to avoid if you want a challenge. (Pro-tip: Stealth is never a 100% guarantee, which is why you always carry stacks of wood; wood is incredibly flexible, as it lets you drop cheap spike traps in narrow passages, climb up easily to places zombies cannot reach, make bridges across open gaps, craft doors to seal off openings that foes have to make noise to get through but that you can open easily, etc.)
That's about it. The most important pro tip is this: this is an open-world game where the only thing that matters is that you have fun playing it. It doesn't matter if you want to do single-player, or multi-player, or if you like crafting more than combat, or prefer spears over guns. You bought the game. Do what you like, as that is really the only goal.
submitted by damurphy72 to 7daystodie [link] [comments]

Angélica Gorodischer - Three Stories [Translated by Lorraine Elena Roses and Marian Womack]

The Resurrection of the Flesh [Tr by Roses]

These first two tales published in Secret Weavers: Stories of the Fantastic by Women Writers of Argentina and Chile, edited by Marjorie Agosin (White Pine Press, 1992):
She was thirty-two, her name was Aurelia, and she had been married eleven years. One Saturday afternoon, she looked through the kitchen window at the garden and saw the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Men of the world, those four horsemen of the Apocalypse. And good-looking. The first from the left was riding a sorrel horse with a dark mane. He was wearing white breeches, black boots, a crimson jacket, and a yellow fez with black pompoms. The second one had a sleeveless tunic overlaid with gold and violet and was barefoot. He was riding on the back of a plump dolphin. The third one had a respectable, black beard, trimmed at right angles. He had donned a gray Prince of Wales suit, white shirt, blue tie and carried a black leather portfolio. He was seated on a folding chair belted to the back of white-haired dromedary. The fourth one made Aurelia smile and realize that they were smiling at her. He was riding a black and gold Harley-Davidson 1200 and was wearing a white helmet and dark goggles and had long, straight, blond hair flying in the wind behind him. The four were riding in the garden without moving from the spot. They rode and smiled at her and she watched them through the kitchen window.
In that manner, she finished washing the two teacups, took off her apron, arranged her hair and went to the living room.
"I saw the four horsemen of the Apocalypse in the garden," she told her husband.
"I'll bet," he said without raising his eyes from his paper.
"What are you reading?" Aurelia asked.
"Hmmm?"
"I said they were given a crown and a sword and a balance and power."
"Oh, right," said her husband.
And after that a week went by as all weeks do--very slowly at first and very quickly toward the end--and on Sunday morning, while she made the coffee, she again saw the four horsemen of the Apocalypse in the garden, but when she went back to the bedroom she didn't say anything to her husband.
The third time she saw them, one Wednesday, alone, in the afternoon, she stood looking at them for a half hour and finally, since she had always wanted to fly in a yellow and red dirigible; and since she had dreamed about being an opera singer, an emperor's lover, a co-pilot to Icarus; since she would have liked to scale black cliffs, laugh at cannibals, traverse the jungles on elephants with purple trappings, seize with her hands the diamonds that lay hidden in mines, preside in the nude over a parade of nocturnal monsters, live under water, domesticate spiders, torture the powerful of the earth, rob trains in the tunnels of the Alps, set palaces on fire, lie in the dark with beggars, climb on the bridges of all the ships in the world; finally--since it was sadly sterile to be a rational and healthy adult--finally, that Wednesday afternoon alone, she put on the long dress she had worn at the last New Year's party given by the company where her husband was assistant sales manager and went out to the garden. The four horsemen of the Apocalypse called her, the blond one on the Harley-Davidson gave her his hand and helped her up onto the seat behind him, and there they went, all five, raging into the storm and singing.
Two days later her husband gave in to family pressure and reported the disappearance of his wife.
"Moral: madness is a flower aflame," said the narrator. Or in other words, it's impossible to inflame the dead, cold, viscous, useless, and sinful ashes of common sense.

The Perfect Married Woman

If you meet her on the street, cross quickly to the other side and quicken your pace. She’s a dangerous lady. She’s about forty or forty-five, has one married daughter and a son working in San Nicolas; her husband’s a sheet-metal worker. She rises very early, sweeps the sidewalk, sees her husband off, cleans, does the wash, shops, cooks. After lunch she watches television, sews or knits, irons twice a week, and at night goes to bed late. On Saturdays she does a general cleaning and washes windows and waxes the floors. On Sunday mornings she washes the clothes her son brings home—his name is Nestor Eduardo—she kneads dough for noodles or ravioli, and in the afternoon either her sister-inlaw comes to visit or she goes to her daughter’s house. It’s been a long time since she’s been to the movies, but she reads TV Guide and the police report in the newspaper. Her eyes are dark and her hands are rough and her hair is starting to go gray. She catches cold frequently and keeps a photo album in a dresser drawer along with a black crepe dress with lace collar and cuffs.
Her mother never hit her. But when she was six, she got a spanking for coloring on a door, and she had to wash it off with a wet rag. While she was doing it, she thought about doors, all doors, and decided that they were very dumb because they always led to the same places. And the one she was cleaning was definitely the dumbest of all, the one that led to her parents’ bedroom. She opened the door and then it didn’t go to her parents’ bedroom but to the Gobi desert. She wasn’t surprised that she knew it was the Gobi desert even though they hadn’t even taught her in school where Mongolia was and neither she nor her mother nor her grandmother had ever heard of Nan Shan or Khangai Nuru.
She stepped through the door, bent over to scratch the yellowish grit and saw that there was no one, nothing, and the hot wind tousled her hair, so she went back through the open door, closed it and kept on cleaning. And when she finished, her mother grumbled a little more and told her to wash the rag and take the broom to sweep up that sand and clean her shoes. That day she modified her hasty judgment about doors, though not completely, at least not until she understood what was going on.
What had been going on all her life and up until today was that from time to time doors behaved satisfactorily, though in general they were still acting dumb and leading to dining rooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, bedrooms and offices even in the best of circumstances. But two months after the desert, for example, the door that every day led to the bath opened onto the workshop of a bearded man dressed in a long uniform, pointed shoes, and a cap that tilted on one side of his head. The old man’s back was turned as he took something out of a highboy with many small drawers behind a very strange, large wooden machine with a giant steering wheel and screw, in the midst of cold air and an acrid smell. When he turned around and saw her he began to shout at her in a language she didn’t understand.
She stuck out her tongue, dashed out the door, closed it, opened it again, went into the bathroom and washed her hands for lunch.
Again, after lunch, many years later, she opened the door of her room and walked into a battlefield. She dipped her hands in the blood of the wounded and dead and pulled from the neck of a cadaver a crucifix that she wore for a long time under high-necked blouses or dresses without plunging necklines. She now keeps it in a tin box underneath the nightgowns with a brooch, a pair of earrings and a broken wristwatch that used to belong to her mother-in-law. In the same way, involuntarily and by chance, she visited three monasteries, seven libraries, and the highest mountains in the world, and who knows how many theaters, cathedrals, jungles, refrigeration plants, dens of vice, universities, brothels, forests, stores, submarines, hotels, trenches, islands, factories, palaces, hovels, towers and hell.
She’s lost count and doesn’t care; any door could lead anywhere and that has the same value as the thickness of the ravioli dough, her mother’s death, and the life crises that she sees on TV and reads about in TV Guide.
Not long ago she took her daughter to the doctor, and seeing the closed door of a bathroom in the clinic, she smiled. She wasn’t sure because she can never be sure, but she got up and went to the bathroom. However, it was a bathroom; at least there was a nude man in a bathtub full of water. It was all very large, with a high ceiling, marble floor and decorations hanging from the closed windows. The man seemed to be asleep in his white bathtub, short but deep, and she saw a razor on a wrought iron table with feet decorated with iron flowers and leaves and ending in lion’s paws, a razor, a mirror, a curling iron, towels, a box of talcum powder and an earthen bowl with water. She approached on tiptoe, retrieved the razor, tiptoed over to the sleeping man in the tub and beheaded him. She threw the razor on the floor and rinsed her hands in the lukewarm bathtub water. She turned around when she reached the clinic corridor and spied a girl going into the bathroom through the other door. Her daughter looked at her.
“That was quick.”
“The toilet was broken,” she answered.
A few days afterward, she beheaded another man in a blue tent at night. That man and a woman were sleeping mostly uncovered by the blankets of a low, king-size bed, and the wind beat around the tent and slanted the flames of the oil lamps. Beyond it there would be another camp, soldiers, animals, sweat, manure, orders and weapons. But inside there was a sword by the leather and metal uniforms, and with it she cut off the head of the bearded man. The woman stirred and opened her eyes as she went out the door on her way back to the patio that she had been mopping.
On Monday and Thursday afternoons, when she irons shirt collars, she thinks of the slit necks and the blood, and she waits. If it’s summer she goes out to sweep a little after putting away the clothing and until her husband arrives. If it’s windy she sits in the kitchen and knits. But she doesn’t always find sleeping men or staring cadavers. One rainy morning, when she was twenty, she was at a prison, and she made fun of the chained prisoners; one night when the kids were kids and were all living at home, she saw in a square a disheveled woman looking at a gun but not daring to take it out of her open purse. She walked up to her, put the gun in the woman’s hand and stayed there until a car parked at the corner, until the woman saw a man in gray get out and look for his keys in his pocket, until the woman aimed and fired. And another night while she was doing her sixth grade geography homework, she went to look for crayons in her room and stood next to a man who was crying on a balcony. The balcony was so high, so far above the street, that she had an urge to push him to hear the thud down below, but she remembered the orographic map of South America and was about to leave. Anyhow, since the man hadn’t seen her, she did push him and saw him disappear and ran to color in the map so she didn’t hear the thud, only the scream. And in an empty theater, she made a fire underneath the velvet curtain; in a riot she opened the cover to a basement hatchway; in a house, sitting on top of a desk, she shredded a two-thousand-page manuscript; in a clearing of a forest she buried the weapons of the sleeping men; in a river she opened the floodgates of a dike.
Her daughter’s name is Laura Inés, her son has a fiancée in San Nicolás and he’s promised to bring her over on Sunday so she and her husband can meet her. She has to remind herself to ask her sister-in-law for the recipe for orange cake, and Friday on TV is the first episode of a new soap opera. Again, she runs the iron over the front of the shirt and remembers the other side of the doors that are always carefully closed in her house, that other side where the things that happen are much less abominable than the ones we experience on this side, as you can easily understand.

The Unmistakable Smell of Wood Violets [Tr by Womack]

Translated for the first time in Ann and Jeff Vandermeer's Big Book of Science Fiction (Vintage, 2016):
The news spread fast. It would be correct to say that the news moved like a flaming trail of gunpowder, if it weren't for the fact that at this point in our civilization gunpowder was archaeology, ashes in time, the stuff of legend, nothingness. However, it was because of the magic of our new civilization that the news was known all over the world, practically instantaneously.
"Oooh!" the tsarina said.
You have to take into account that Her Gracious and Most Illustrious Virgin Majesty Ekaterina V, Empress of Holy Russia, had been carefully educated in the proper decorum befitting the throne, which meant that she would never have even raised an eyebrow or curved the corner of her lip, far less would she have made an interjection of that rude and vulgar kind. But not only did she say "Oooh!," she also got up and walked through the room until she reached the glass doors of the great balcony. She stopped there. Down below, covered by snow, Saint Leninburg was indifferent and unchanged, the city's eyes squinting under the weight of winter. At the palace, ministers and advisers were excited, on edge.
"And where is this place?" the tsarina asked.
And that is what happened in Russia, which is such a distant and atypical country. In the central states of the continent, there was real commotion. In Bolivia, in Paraguay, in Madagascar, in all the great powers, and in the countries that aspired to be great powers, such as High Peru, Iceland, or Morocco, hasty conversations took place at the highest possible level with knitted brows and hired experts. The strongest currencies became unstable: the guarani rose, the Bolivian peso went down half a point, the crown was discreetly removed from the exchange rates for two long hours, long queues formed in front of the exchanges in front of all the great capitals of the world. President Morillo spoke from the Oruro Palace and used the opportunity to make a concealed warning (some would call it a threat) to the two Peruvian republics and the Minas Gerais secessionist area. Morillo had handed over the presidency of Minas to his nephew, Pepe Morillo, who had proved to be a wet blanket whom everybody could manipulate, and now Morillo bitterly regretted his decision. Morocco and Iceland did little more than give their diplomats a gentle nudge in the ribs, anything to shake them into action, as they imagined them all to be sipping grenadine and mango juice in the deep south while servants in shiny black uniforms stood over them with fans.
The picturesque note came from the Independent States of North America. It could not have been otherwise. Nobody knew that all the states were now once again under the control of a single president, but that's how it was: some guy called Jack Jackson-Franklin, who had been a bit-part actor in videos, and who, aged eighty-seven, had discovered his extremely patriotic vocation of statesman. Aided by his singular and inexplicable charisma, and by his suspect family tree, according to which he was the descendent of two presidents who had ruled over the states during their glory days, he had managed to unify, at least for now, the seventy-nine northern states. Anyway, Mr. Jackson-Franklin said to the world that the Independent States would not permit such a thing to take place. No more, just that they would not permit such a thing to take place. The world laughed uproariously at this.
Over there, in the Saint Leninburg palace, ministers cleared their throats, advisers swallowed saliva, trying to find out if, by bobbing their Adam's apples up and down enough, they might be able to loosen their stiff official shirts.
"Ahem. Ahem. It's in the south. A long way to the south. In the west, Your Majesty."
"It is. Humph. Ahem. It is, Your Majesty, a tiny country in a tiny territory."
"It says that it is in Argentina," the tsarina said, still staring through the window but without paying any attention to the night as it fell over the snow-covered roofs and the frozen shores of the Baltic.
"Ah, yes, that's right, that's right, Your Majesty, a pocket republic."
Sergei Vasilievich Kustkarov, some kind of councilor and, what is more, an educated and sensible man, broke into the conversation.
"Several, Your Majesty, it is several."
And at last the tsarina turned around. Who cared a fig for the Baltic night, the snow-covered rooftops, the roofs themselves, and the city of which they were a part? Heavy silk crackled, starched petticoats, lace.
"Several of what, Councilor Kustkarov, several of what? Don't come to me with your ambiguities."
"I must say, Your Majesty, I had not the slightest intention--"
"Several of what?"
The tsarina looked directly at him, her lips held tightly together, her hands moving unceasingly, and Kustkarov panicked, as well he might.
"Rep-rep-republics, Your Majesty," he blurted out. "Several of them. Apparently, a long time ago, a very long time, it used to be a single territory, and now it is several, several republics, but their inhabitants, the people who live in all of them, all of the republics, are called, they call themselves, the people, that is, Argentinians."
The tsarina turned her gaze away. Kustkarov felt so relieved that he was encouraged to carry on speaking:
"There are seven of them, Your Majesty: Rosario, Entre dos Rios, Ladocta, Ona, Riachuelo, Yujujuy, and Labodegga."
The tsarina sat down.
"We must do something," she said.
Silence. Outside it was not snowing, but inside it appeared to be. The tsarina looked at the transport minister.
"This enters into your portfolio," she said.
Kustkarov sat down, magnificently. How lucky he was to be a councilor, a councilor with no specific duties. The transport minister, on the other hand, turned pale.
"I think, Your Majesty...," he dared to say.
"Don't think! Do something!"
"Yes, Your Majesty," the minister said, and, bowing, started to make his way to the door.
"Where do you think you're going?" the tsarina said, without moving her mouth or twitching an eyelid.
"I'm just, I'm going, I'm just going to see what can be done, Your Majesty."
There's nothing that can be done, Sergei Vasilievich thought in delight, nothing. He realized that he was not upset, but instead he felt happy. And on top of everything else a woman, he thought. Kustkarov was married to Irina Waldoska-Urtiansk, a real beauty, perhaps the most beautiful woman in all of Holy Russia. Perhaps he was being cuckolded; it would have been all too easy for him to find that out, but he did not want to. His thoughts turned in a circle: and on top of everything else a woman. He looked at the tsarina and was struck, not for the first time, by her beauty. She was not so beautiful as Irina, but she was magnificent.
In Rosario it was not snowing, not because it was summer, although it was, but because it never snowed in Rosario. And there weren't any palm trees: the Moroccans would have been extremely disappointed had they known, but their diplomats said nothing about the Rosario flora in their reports, partly because the flora of Rosario was now practically nonexistent, and partly because diplomats are supposed to be above that kind of thing.
Everyone who was not a diplomat, that is to say, everyone, the population of the entire republic that in the last ten years had multiplied vertiginously and had now reached almost two hundred thousand souls, was euphoric, happy, triumphant. They surrounded her house, watched over her as she slept, left expensive imported fruits outside her door, followed her down the street. Some potentate allowed her the use of a Ford 99, which was one of the five cars in the whole country, and a madman who lived in the Espinillos cemetery hauled water all the way up from the Pará lagoon and grew a flower for her which he then gave her.
"How nice," she said, then went on, dreamily, "Will there be flowers where I'm going?"
They assured her that there would be.
She trained every day. As they did not know exactly what it was she had to do to train herself, she got up at dawn, ran around the Independence crater, skipped, did some gymnastic exercises, ate little, learned how to hold her breath, and spent hours and hours sitting or curled into strange positions. She also danced the waltz. She was almost positive that the waltz was not likely to come in handy, but she enjoyed it very much.
Meanwhile, farther away, the trail of gunpowder had become a barrel of dynamite, although dynamite was also a legendary substance and didn't exist. The infoscreens in every country, whether poor or rich, central or peripheral, developed or not, blazed forth with extremely large headlines suggesting dates, inventing biographical details, trying to hide, without much success, their envy and confusion. No one was fooled:
"We have been wretchedly beaten," the citizens of Bolivia said.
"Who would have thought it," pondered the man on the Reykjavík omnibus.
The former transport minister of Holy Russia was off breaking stones in Siberia. Councilor Sergei Vasilievich Kustkarov was sleeping with the tsarina, but that was only a piece of low, yet spicy, gossip that has nothing to do with this story.
"We will not allow this to happen!" Mr. Jackson-Franklin blustered, tugging nervously at his hairpiece. "It is our own glorious history that has set aside for us this brilliant destiny! It is we, we and not this despicable banana republic, who are marked for this glory!"
Mr. Jackson-Franklin also did not know that there were no palm trees or bananas in Rosario, but this was due not to a lack of reports from his diplomats but rather a lack of diplomats. Diplomats are a luxury that a poor country cannot afford, and so poor countries often go to great pains to take offense and recall all the knights commanders and lawyers and doctors and even eventually the generals working overseas, in order to save money on rent and electricity and gas and salaries, not to mention the cost of the banquets and all the money in brown paper envelopes.
But the headlines kept on appearing on the infoscreens: "Argentinian Astronaut Claims She Will Reach Edge of Universe," "Sources Claim Ship Is Spaceworthy in Spite of or Because of Centuries-Long Interment," "Science or Catastrophe?," "Astronaut Not a Woman but a Transsexual" (this in the Imperialskaya Gazeta, the most puritan of the infoscreens, even more so than the Papal Piccolo Osservatore Lombardo), "Ship Launches," "First Intergalactic Journey in Centuries," "We Will Not Allow This to Happen!" (Portland Times).
She was dancing the waltz. She woke up with her heart thumping, tried out various practical hairstyles, ran, skipped, drank only filtered water, ate only olives, avoided spies and journalists, went to see the ship every day, just to touch it. The mechanics all adored her.
"It'll work, they'll see, it'll work," the chief engineer said defiantly.
Nobody contradicted him. No one dared say that it wouldn't.
It would make it, of course it would make it. Not without going through many incredible adventures on its lengthy journey. Lengthy? No one knew who Langevin was anymore, so no one was shocked to discover that his theory contradicted itself, ended up biting its own tail, and that however long the journey took, the observers would only perceive it as having lasted minutes. Someone called Cervantes, a very famous personage back in the early years of human civilization--it was still debated whether he had been a physicist, a poet, or a musician--had suggested a similar theory in one of his lost works.
One autumn dawn the ship took off from the Independence crater, the most deserted part of the whole desert republic of Rosario, at five forty-five in the morning. The exact time is recorded because the inhabitants of the country had all pitched in together to buy a clock, which they thought the occasion deserved (there was one other clock, in the Enclosed Convent of the Servants of Santa Rita de Casino, but because the convent was home to an enclosed order nothing ever went in or out of it, no news, no requests, no answers, no nothing). Unfortunately, they had not had enough money. But then someone had had the brilliant idea which had brought in the money they needed, and Rosario had hired out its army for parades in friendly countries: there weren't that many of them and the ones there were weren't very rich, but they managed to get the cash together. Anyone who was inspired by patriotism and by the proximity of glory had to see those dashing officers, those disciplined soldiers dressed in gold and crimson, protected by shining breastplates, capped off with plumed helmets, their catapults and pouches of stones at their waists, goose-stepping through the capital of Entre Dos Rios or the Padrone Giol vineyards in Labodegga, at the foot of the majestic Andes.
The ship blasted off. It got lost against the sky. Before the inhabitants of Rosario, their hearts in their throats and their eyes clouded by emotion, had time to catch their breath, a little dot appeared up there, getting bigger and bigger, and it was the ship coming back down. It landed at 06:11 on the same morning of that same autumn day. The clock that recorded this is preserved in the Rosario Historical Museum. It no longer works, but anyone can go and see it in its display cabinet in Room A of the Museum. In Room B, in another display case, is the so-called Carballensis Indentic Axe, the fatal tool that cut down all the vegetation of Rosario and turned the whole country into a featureless plain. Good and evil, side by side, shoulder to shoulder.
Twenty-six minutes on Earth, many years on board the ship. Obviously, she did not have a watch or a calendar with her: the republic of Rosario would not have been able to afford either of them. But it was many years, she knew that much.
Leaving the galaxy was a piece of cake. You can do it in a couple of jumps, everyone knows that, following the instructions that Albert Einsteinstein, the multifaceted violin virtuoso, director of sci-fi movies, and student of space-time, gave us a few hundred years back. But the ship did not set sail to the very center of the universe, as its predecessors had done in the great era of colonization and discovery; no, the ship went right to the edge of the universe.
Everyone also knows that there is nothing in the universe, not even the universe itself, which does not grow weaker as you reach its edge. From pancakes to arteries, via love, rubbers, photographs, revenge, bridal gowns, and power. Everything tends to imperceptible changes at the beginning, rapid change afterward; everything at the edge is softer and more blurred, as the threads start to fray from the center to the outskirts.
In the time it took her to take a couple of breaths, a breath and a half, over the course of many years, she passed through habitable and uninhabitable places, worlds which had once been classified as existent, worlds which did not appear and had never appeared and probably would never appear in any cartographical survey. Planets of exiles, singing sands, minutes and seconds in tatters, whirlpools of nothingness, space junk, and that's without even mentioning those beings and things, all of which stood completely outside any possibility of description, so much so that we tend not to perceive them when we look at them; all of this, and shock, and fear more than anything else, and loneliness. The hair grew gray at her temples, her flesh lost its firmness, wrinkles appeared around her eyes and her mouth, her knees and ankles started to act up, she slept less than before and had to half close her eyes and lean backward in order to make out the numbers on the consoles. And she was so tired that it was almost unbearable. She did not waltz any longer: she put an old tape into an old machine and listened and moved her gray head in time with the orchestra.
She reached the edge of the universe. Here was where everything came to an end, so completely that even her tiredness disappeared and she felt once again as full of enthusiasm as she had when she was younger. There were hints, of course: salt storms, apparitions, little brushstrokes of white against the black of space, large gaps made of sound, echoes of long-dead voices that had died giving sinister orders, ash, drums; but when she reached the edge itself, these indications gave way to space signage: "End," "You Are Reaching the Universe Limits," "The Cosmos General Insurance Company, YOUR Company, Says: GO NO FURTHER," "End of Protected Cosmonaut Space," etc., as well as the scarlet polygon that the OMUU had adopted to use as a sign for that's it, abandon all hope, the end.
All right, so she was here. The next thing to do was go back. But the idea of going back never occurred to her. Women are capricious creatures, just like little boys: as soon as they get what they want, then they want something else. She carried on.
There was a violent judder as she crossed the limit. Then there was silence, peace, calm. All very alarming, to tell the truth. The needles did not move, the lights did not flash, the ventilation system did not hiss, her alveoli did not vibrate, her chair did not swivel, the screens were blank. She got up, went to the portholes, looked out, saw nothing. It was logical enough:
"Of course," she said to herself, "when the universe comes to an end, then there's nothing."
She looked out through the portholes a little more, just in case. She still could see nothing, but she had an idea.
"But I'm here," she said. "Me and the ship."
She put on a space suit and walked out into the nothing.
When the ship landed in the Independence crater in the republic of Rosario, twenty-six minutes after it had taken off, when the hatch opened and she appeared on the ramp, the spirit of Paul Langevin flew over the crater, laughing fit to burst. The only people who heard him were the madman who had grown the flower for her in the Espinillos cemetery and a woman who was to die that day. No one else had ears or fingers or tongue or feet, far less did they have eyes to see him.
It was the same woman who had left, the very same, and this calmed the crowds down at the same time as it disappointed them, all the inhabitants of the country, the diplomats, the spies, and the journalists. It was only when she came down the gangplank and they came closer to her that they saw the network of fine wrinkles around her eyes. All other signs of her old age had vanished, and had she wished, she could have waltzed tirelessly, for days and nights on end, from dusk till dawn till dusk.
The journalists all leaned forward; the diplomats made signals, which they thought were subtle and unseen, to the bearers of their sedan chairs to be ready to take them back to their residences as soon as they had heard what she had to say; the spies took photographs with the little cameras hidden away in their shirt buttons or their wisdom teeth; all the old people put their hands together; the men raised their fists to their heart; the little boys pranced; the young girls smiled.
And then she told them what she had seen:
"I took off my suit and my helmet," she said, "and walked along the invisible avenues that smelled of violets."
She did not know that the whole world was waiting to hear what she said; that Ekaterina V had made Sergei Vasilievich get up at five o'clock in the morning so that he could accompany her to the grand salon and wait there for the news; that one of the seventy-nine Northern States had declared its independence because the president had not stopped anything from happening or obtained any glory, and this had lit the spark of rebellion in the other seventy-eight states, and this had made Mr. Jackson-Franklin leave the White House without his wig, in pajamas, freezing and furious; that Bolivia, Paraguay, and Iceland had allowed the two Peruvian republics to join their new alliance and defense treaty set up against a possible attack from space; that the high command of the Paraguayan aeronautical engineers had promised to build a ship that could travel beyond the limits of the universe, always assuming that they could be granted legal immunity and a higher budget, a declaration that made the guarani fall back the two points that it had recently risen and then another one as well; that Don Schicchino Giol, the new padrone of the Republic of Labodegga at the foot of the majestic Andes had been woken from his most recent drinking bout to be told that he had now to sign a declaration of war against the Republic of Rosario, now that they knew the strength of the enemy's forces.
"Eh? What? Hunh?" Don Schicchino said.
"I saw the nothingness of everything," she said, "and it was all infused with the unmistakable smell of wood violets. The nothingness of the world is like the inside of a stomach throbbing above your head. The nothingness of people is like the back of a painting, black, with glasses and wires that release dreams of order and imperfect destinies. The nothingness of creatures with leathery wings is a crack in the air and the rustle of tiny feet. The nothingness of history is the massacre of the innocents. The nothingness of words, which is a throat and a hand that break whatever they touch on perforated paper; the nothingness of music, which is music. The nothingness of precincts, of crystal glasses, of seams, of hair, of liquids, of lights, of keys, of food."
When she had finished her list, the potentate who owned the Ford 99 said that he would give it to her, and that in the afternoon he would send one of his servants with a liter of naphtha so that she could take the car out for a spin.
"Thank you," she said. "You are very generous."
The madman went away, looking up to the skies; who knows what he was searching for. The woman who was going to die that day asked herself what she should eat on Sunday, when her sons and their wives came to lunch. The president of the Republic of Rosario gave a speech.
And everything in the world carried on the same, apart from the fact that Ekaterina V named Kustkarov her interior minister, which terrified the poor man but which was welcomed with open arms by Irina as an opportunity for her to refresh her wardrobe and her stock of lovers. And Jack Jackson-Franklin sold his memoirs to one of Paraguay's more sophisticated magazines for a stellar amount of money, which allowed him to retire to live in Imerina. And six spaceships from six major world powers set off to the edges of the universe and were never seen again.
She married a good man who had a house with a balcony, a white bicycle, and a radio which, on clear days, could pick up the radio plays that LLL1 Radio Magnum transmitted from Entre Dos Rios, and she waltzed in white satin shoes. The day that her first son was born a very pale green shoot grew out of the ground on the banks of the great lagoon.
submitted by MilkbottleF to shortstoryaday [link] [comments]

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