Is nice to see that we have users from all around the world, even if nearly 50% are from English speaking countries. Image 1.
How old are you?
The average age of a /OnePiece user is 23.62 years old. We have roughtly 10% of users that are underaged, and 10% that are 30 years old or more. Image 2.
There is no surprise there. For the others, we have some Gender Fluids, transgenders, Bigenders, quite a lot of Non-binary, a Loli, a Furry, and nearly a 100 Oden (You wish), as well as some rude people, but I won't put up what they said.
Manga or Anime?
No real surprise here either. Considering the subreddit has a lot of spoilers and is focussed around the chapter release, it's obvious there are only a few Anime Only people here. So thank you for Sticking Around, even if it the best place to avoid spoilers.
For approximately how long have you been following One Piece?
1 Year or less
10 years or more
Nearly 40% of our users have followed the series for 10 years or more. (To give an idea, this mean they followed the series since Before the timeskip, as chapter 597 was released at the end of August 2010). For the rest, we have roughly the same number of new readers that stays with the series. So it's quite good to bring new blood and not have a decrease of new readers.
Where does One Piece rank on your list of favorite manga?
Bellow Top 10
Well, you are in /OnePiece after all. So it's kinda obvious the manga is either your favorite or in your top 3. If it isn't your number 1, what series are better than One Piece for you?
Do you own One Piece Merchandise?
Those are some good numbers I would say, 55.8% of users have some merchandise and are probably supporting the series (depending on where you bought those) For the OTHERS answers given, some good ones are : autograph from dub VA of brook, Alvida pre devilfruit bodypillow, Chopper teddy bear, Sountracks, Custom made and 3D printed Keychain, Databook.
Subreddit Section :
Do you visit OnePiece mostly on mobile or on desktop?
Mobile or Apps
If you are using desktop, are you using the old version of reddit? Or the redesign?
It seems like most users are using Mobile and Apps, as well as the redesign on desktop, so it's probably time to pay more attention to that than to the old version, this way we can get banners/flair for users that are on the new version of reddit.
How often do you make : a submission on OnePiece?/Comment?/read the rules?
Very often (Daily)
Very often (Daily)
Check the rules :
Very often (Daily)
This really shows that there are a lot of lurkers on the subreddit. Most of you won't ever post or comment on the subreddit. With 8% of users creating submission and 25% commenting. As for the rules, there isn't any surprise since nearly every post respect the rules. (Only 1/5 of the post needs to be removed), so thank you to all of those that read them.
Content you enjoy the MOST/the LEAST.
Content you enjoy the most :
Media (Photo and Video)
So without surprise, people in this subreddit enjoy the Theories/discussions the most out of every type of post, it's then followed by the Fanarts. Which is good since like 75% of posts made are Discussion (50% total)/Fanarts (25% total). Content you enjoy the least:
Here there aren't any content that most users enjoy the least, but it still seems like users don't want to see that much Merchandise or Cosplay post. (Youtuber video are very rare) Also, a quick reminder, Discussion/Theories are mostly found by sorting by New. This is where you will see all of them, as it's hard for them to show up on the front page of the subreddit (but if it shows up on Hot, then it's a very good one).
Do you only use the subreddit for the Spoiler and Chapter Discussion thread?
It's nice to see that roughly 2/3 of the users are here for more than just the Spoilers and Chapter discussion. But there is still a huge part that only use the subreddit for that.
Do you want the spoilers gone from this subreddit?
As it was expected, Luffy is the Favorite Straw Hat for a lot of peopel, he's also the Straw Hat with the fewest "Least Favorite". After him Zoro is second favorite, followed by Sanji, Robin, Usopp, Brook, with the other Straw Hat having very few votes (and Nami having the Least "Favorite" Straw Hat.) After that, it seems like Chopper, Usopp, and Franky are the one people like the least out of the Straw Hat. I know it was a hard question for some of you, but the result are still interesting to know.
Which Strawhat has the saddest backstory?
The Straw Hats with the saddest backstory is Robin! Followed by Brook, then Sanji, Chopper and Nami.
What is your favorite Yonko crew?
So the favorite Emperor's crew are the Red Hair Pirate! Which is very impressive since we haven't seen much of them. I guess Oda better delivers when it come to see them in action after Wano.
Who is your favorite Admiral?
While Garp was only a Vice Admiral, he was put in the poll, and he won it! Whitout him, it's Aokiji that is the favorite, followed by Fujitora. Image 4
Who is your favorite Supernova (outside the Straw Hat)
Who else than the character that nearly managed to defeat Luffy in the 5 popularity poll? Law is the Favorite Supernova outside of the Straw Hat!
Which is your favourite canon arc in One Piece?
The Favorite Canon Story arc are (You could vote for more than 1) :
Which is your least favourite canon arc in One Piece?
The Least Favorite Canon Story arc are (You could vote for more than 1) :
Long Ring Long Land Arc
Favorite Cover Story?
Enel's Great Space Operations
From the Decks of the World : "The 500.000.000 Man Arc"
The Stories of the Self-Proclaimed Straw Hat Grand Fleet
Ace's Great Blackbeard Search
Straw Hat's Separation Seria
Character Design in One Piece :
Do you like the female character designs in One Piece?
I have no opinion.
Do you like the male character designs in One Piece?
I have no opinion.
It's true that Oda isn't the best when it comes to Female character design. However it seems like the majority of users don't have a problem with that.
Are fight a determining factor for your enjoyment of the series/arc?
Now this is rather surprising I must say. What do ou thing about this?
What is/are your (absolute) favourite aspect(s) of One Piece?
From the result we have, it seems like the World-Building is the favorite part of One Piece (With 88.6% of voters choosing this). It's followed by The Adventure (69%), The characterization (54.4%), the Inter-character relationship (49.4%), the Action (36%) and the Art Style (26.2%). And those result are obvious. Some of the most upvoted chapters of this subreddit are when we have huge world building moment, like 907 (Shanks talks to the Elders), or 957 (ULTIMATE).
On Par with Pre-TS
Better than Pre-TS
Worse than Pre-TS
This question is one of the most asked. With a lot of vocal voices saying that post TS is worse than Pre-TS. It's different for sure, but now we know how the community feels about that.
If you could eat a Devil Fruit, what type would you want?
Most people could choose to eat a Logia, and it seems like becoming a Furry is the lesser choice in this subreddit.
The Final Antagonist of One Piece will be :
With 48.5% it's Blackbeard! Really? That is surprising for me since it's obvious that Oda will make the SH fight against the World Government after they find the One Piece. And I honestly don't see Blackbeard being the final Antagonist because of that. So people who voted for this, what was your reasoning for it?
What is One Piece Biggest Flaw?
Some of the biggest flaws mentionned are :
The Lack of characters' death outside of Flashback
Which are all fair flaws to the series.
Random Questions about the Series :
As of Wano, is Jimbei stronger than Zoro?
Yes but Zoro will be stronger soon
I guess people really want Zoro to always be the second strongest no matter what... I expected this result, but I was still disappointed...
Was Zoro as strong as Luffy just after the timeskip?
I... Really? 31.5% said yes?
Will Sanji get laid by the end of the story?
Nearly the perfect split, and it's easy to see why it's very divisive. (Also shows that every vote counts).
Will Usopp be part of the 1 Billion Club by the end of the story?
The Straw Hats will go to Laugh Tales :
Before fighting the WG
After Fighting the WG
It's been hinted at a lot that the SH will go to Laugh Tales before taking on the WG. So for me it feels rather strange to have more than 1/4 voting for them reaching the final island after.
Who will be the one to defeat Kaido? (So give the last hit)
With 66.3% of the votes the one who will give the last hit to Kaido is : Luffy! Followed by 11.5% with someone else (that isn't Law/Kid/Zoro/Big Mom/Scabbard/Admiral) and 11% by one of the Scabbard. Zoro received 6.4% of the votes.
Who will be the first SH to realize their dream?
Most users believe that Usopp will be the first one to realize his dream! I also think the same as it's the easiest Dream to realize really. I could bet you it will happen in Elbaf. After that, we have Luffy and Robin, and it make sense since their dreams are linked. Both can be done once they reach Laugh Tales.
How many members will the crew have at the end? (With Luffy)
And most people want 11 members total in the crew! (With 28.6%), 27.5% wants 12 members, wile 19.8% want the crew to be complete right now with Jinbe.
Who do you think wins in a 1v1 : An Emperor or an Admiral?
If you are active on the subreddit, you know it's one of the question that creates the most discussion/arguments about. So it's nice to know the overall opinion of the subreddit on this question (Doesn't mean it's always correct mind you).
Is Mihawk emperor's level?
Also a very divisive question on this subreddit.
Is Aokiji emperor's level?
Is Akainu emperor's level?
So they fight for 10 days in a very close battle. With Akainu winning in the end, but after a long and hard fight. And one is Emperor's level while the other isn't? Really? I find that hard to understand.
If Oden was alive would he be stronger than Mihawk
How strong was Oden at the time of his death?
< Top 20
I like Oden, but sometimes I feel like people are overestimating him.
Who is stronger between Shanks and Mihawk?
This is also one of the question creating the most arguments on this subreddit, after all Mihawk is the World Strongest Swordman. But Shanks is an Emperor and became one after losing his arm.
Is Kaido stronger now that 20 years ago?
Yes, he's stronger
Had Ace survived, would Wano be liberated by now?
Could the Marines take on ALL the Yonko at the same time ?
Yes in Marineford only
2 at the same time
3 at the same time
This question is also linked to how you see the Emperor vs Admiral. So depending on which side you are on, you are more likely to pick Yes or No.
Which character do you want focus on next?
All very good choices, and all of them are character we have known for a long time without really knowing.
Will Blackbeard find the One Piece before Luffy?
How strong is Monkey D. Dragon?
< Top 10
Here, most people seems to think that Luffy's father, Garp's son is part of the strongest characters of the series. Oda better respond to our expectations then. As for his Bounty : Well, 31.6% think it will be more than 6 Billions and 28.1% think it will be between 5-6 billions. That remind me, I once made a poll asking people what Sabo's bounty would be (since we knew it was getting revealed in a magazine soon). So maybe I will do the same for Dragon? That could be nice.
Who is currently the strongest Emperor?
I wonder if the recent chapters made people change their perception on this...
What are the fights you would want to see?
Blackbeard vs Shanks
Garp vs Rocks
Garp vs Roger
Mihawk vs Shanks
Akainu vs Aokiji
How long do you think One Piece has left? (At a rate of 40 chapters a year)
Image 5. As you can see, most people think One Piece has at least 5 years left to go on. We will know Oda is terrible with respecting his own objectives. And this is good. The more One Piece the better.
On a scale from Spandam to Whitebeard/Roger, How strong is Im?
For this question, it seems like most people put Im at the same level as Whitebeard/Roger with 28.6% voting Im being there. I honestly don't know how strong I want Im to be.
What arcs, after Wano, do you want?
The arcs people want the most are :
The Final War
Red Hair Pirates
So arcs teased for years (Elbaf/Laugh Tales/Final War) and about character that people want to see (Vegapunk/Red Hair pirates).
How is Blackbeard able to use multiples Devil Fruits?
More than 1 soul
It's one of those question were people have very different opinion about. And right now there isn't really a major concensus in the fandom, even if the theory about it being related to the Yami Yami is more popular. In the Other catergory, there was the Cerberus Devil Fruit option, Blackbeard being a Triplet, him being actually 2+ kids in a trenchcoat, him being a failed Vegapunk experiment, having several stomachs him being pregnant (Stop reading fanfiction), him putting the power inside his rings, being a great guy and him being a cunt.
Haki is :
Image 6 Overall, People like Haki in the series, with a 4.38 out of 5!
How many arcs are left after Wano?
Image 7 Here, it seems like the answer for the community would be 4-5 arcs left. Which would then make (base don the How long One Piece has left), like a year per arc on average.
The final war of One Piece will be :
SH+RA vs WG+Marines vs BB
SH+RA vs WG+Marines
SH vs RA vs WG
I just don't see Blackbeard being in the final war, as my opinion is that he will be dealt with before it. For the other answers, there was Straw Hats vs Blackbeard Pirates, Family of D vs vs im sama, Total civil war in marines, Straw Hat vs Shanks, Straw hat vs Pound, Zoro vs World Goverment, Dugongs vs buggy.
Will Luffy die at the end of One Piece?
Will Luffy die?
An ending were Luffy died wouldn't be a good ending for me. He needs to survive and go on more adventures.
Are Shakky and Rayleigh Mihawk's parent?
Will the crew still be together at the end of the series?
Yes, they will keep going on adventure together.| 57.6% o, they will move on, like the Roger Pirates| 42.4% Like with Luffy living, I want the Crew to stay together, and sail together for many more adventures. I could see them taking breaks from time to time, but them staying together would be the best ending for me.
Can the Red Line be destroyed with Ancient Weapons?
What is the biggest mystery left to be revealed?
The most common answers were : The Void Century, the Will of D, Im, The One Piece, Joy Boy, Luffy's mother and Who is Pandaman?
What is the One Piece?
Here, there was plenty of : "No idea", The friends we made along the way, a Devil Fruit, Knowledge, Uranus, History, a book, my mom.
What sort of Devil Fruit do you want to see in the story?
The most common answer was : Water Logia! Followed by Wind Logia and people wanting more mythical Zoans.
What is the craziest theory you believe?
Here are a few of them :
Shanks is a Celestial Dragon
That Vegapunk is going to flip a switch in the Pacifista programming to fight the marines at the end.
Luffy's mom was a celestial dragon
Devil fruits are all artificial from the void century
That Finland doesn't exist
Zoro is going to get Rodger's disease
D's were the original Celestial Dragons
Weevil was made by Vegapunk using Whitebeard's cells and then was discarded until Bakkin picked him up
One of the Roger Pirates (probably Scopper Gaban) is on Laugh Tale waiting for whoever finds it, sort of like how Crocus and Rayleigh seem to be positioned to monitor rookie pirates
Onigashima is an Oarz like skeleton and Big Mom is gonna bring it to life.
The different races came from other planets/moons
Tama is a Kurozomi
Ussop is a descendant of Mont Blanc Nolan
Luffy hatched from an egg.
The fish that bit Shanks's arm off was Joyboy's pet
Bon chan is Kin'emon's son
Oda no longer draws the manga
bonney and ace having a child
That Perospero is going to help kill Big Mom.
Dragon being former Admiral
What are your favorites? And here it is, the 500K survey! Took me far too long to make, as I underestimated the time needed to sort the answer and create this post. Like damn. I hope you enjoyed it. The anwers for the Survey Saga will be up next in some time.
I'm reading every Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Award winner. Here's my reviews of the up to 1980 (Vol 4)
It is that time once more, folks. Links to previous posts at the end, links to full length blog reviews are all in one comment. Man Plus by Frederik Pohl
Plot: A normal human could not survive on Mars... our only option? Cyborgs!
Page Count: 183
Award: 1976 Nebula
Worth a read: No... but consider it for a laugh.
Primary Driver: (?????????)
Bechdel Test: Pass... but a real weak pass.
Review: Imagine if you took subplots from a trashy romance, a political thriller, a horror flick, and a space travel story... and forgot to put in the main plot. Starts decently, spirals wildly out of control with astounding speed. Almost worth reading to experience the hilarious concluding deus ex machina. This one is probably in the "so bad it's good category" - but sweet skittles is it bad. Also, turn on safe search if you look this book up.
Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm
Plot: After a pandemic causes infertility (and every other apocalypse hits), the only way for humans to survive is through cloning. But are they really human?
Page Count: 251
Award: 1977 Hugo and 1977 Locus
Worth a read: No
Primary Driver: (Plot, World, or Character)
Bechdel Test: Pass
Review: Disappointing and disjointed. There are a lot of messages here that just get blended together to nothingness. Cumbersome writing, uncompelling characters, bland dystopia, and just a dull story. Odd choices on where to discuss science at length and where to just skip over it. First third was its own story originally, and is the best part.
Doctor Rat by William Kotzwinkle
Plot: There is no joy like dying to advance science, at least according to Doctor Rat.
Page Count: 243
Award: 1977 World Fantasy Award
Worth a read: No... but worth a glance at a chapter or two.
Primary Driver: (Plot, World, or Character)
Bechdel Test: N/A
Technobabble: Frequent descriptions of animal experiments.
Review: This book is truly horrifying to read. It's about the gruesome nature of animal testing - and cruelty to animals in general - and is chock full of graphic animal gore. It's the child of The Jungle and Animal Farm but without subtext. Consider checking it out to read a couple of chapters - the grotesque fascination wears thin. Some might consider the unambiguous use of Nazi imagery for animal testing to be a step or three too far.
Gateway by Frederik Pohl
Plot: The Heechee left behind technology so advanced that we cannot understand it; that doesn't stop us from using it to get rich or die trying.
Page Count: 313
Award: 1977 Nebula, 1978 Hugo, and 1978 Locus SF
Worth a read: Yes. Very yes.
Primary Driver: (Plot, World, or Character)
Bechdel Test: Pass
Review: Really good. Cleverly bounces between the story as it unfolds and therapy sessions afterwards - we know that our hero survives, but something terrible has happened. A bit too Freudian. Still, excellent job of making a complex protagonist, interesting world, compelling story. Wanting to know what went wrong kept me reading - and it pays off.
The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien
Plot: Turns out Middle Earth had other jewelry too.
Page Count: 386
Award: 1978 Locus Fantasy Award
Worth a read: Yes.
Primary Driver: (Plot, World, or Character)
Bechdel Test: Pass
Review: This is epic fantasy in its purest form; it is myth and legend, at times obtuse, but absolutely riveting. Tolkien's world is fully immersive. Had the physical book to follow the story, the audiobook for pronunciation, and laptop for family trees. Absolutely worth it - even as a casual LoTR fan.
Our Lady of Darkness by Fritz Leiber
Plot: Something sinister is haunting Franz Westen, and dealing with it involves unearthing answers that might be best left buried.
Page Count: 183
Award: World Fantasy Award 1978
Worth a read: Yes
Primary Driver: (Plot, World, or Character)
Bechdel Test: Pass
Review: This is a horror story. Atmosphere is excellent. Book begins with some truly unsettling images and world building. The narrative itself is slow and frequently self-indulgent, but atmosphere stays on point. A qualified recommendation; but some scenes from this will stick with me for quite a while.
Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre
Plot: Long after the end of the world as we know it, Snake wanders the world, healing those she meets to the best of her abilities.
Page Count: 288
Award: 1978 Nebula, 1979 Hugo, and 1979 Locus
Worth a read: Yes
Primary Driver: (Plot, World, or Character)
Bechdel Test: Pass
Technobabble: Minimal to moderate.
Review: Less-is-more world building with good execution. A lot of interesting tidbits to keep you wondering what the rules are, who the people are, and so on. Story itself can be slow and stakes are consistently low. "I'm going to a place, surprise! something comes up, I will go to another place along the way." Characters are well written though not particularly complex.
Gloriana, or The Unfulfill'd Queen by Michael Moorcock
Plot: In an alternate timeline, Queen Elizabeth I rules over the vast empire of Albion and must do her best to manage a corrupt and twisted court.
Page Count: 368
Award: 1979 World Fantasy Award
Worth a read: Absolutely No.
Primary Driver: (Plot, World, or Character)
Bechdel Test: Pass
Review: This book is remarkable in that it combines shockingly dull and lengthy exposition with some truly awful and problematic ideas about sex. A whole lot of parallel world court intrigue that just does not matter at all. The actual plot starts developing halfway or later into the book - and is not interesting. The title addressing Gloriana's inability to orgasm is a big ol' red flag. A deeply unpleasant read. Really awful.
The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke
Plot: Humans have built many marvels, but nothing can compete with a space elevator.
Page Count: 317
Award: 1980 Hugo and 1979 Nebula
Worth a read: Yes
Primary Driver: (Plot, World, or Character)
Bechdel Test: Fail
Review: Overall enjoyable. Main narrative is about the space elevator, secondary is about an equally ambitious ancient building project - woven together in interesting ways. The science and vision offered are interesting, though characters are not and tension is infrequent. Marred somewhat by some truly bizarre (and underdeveloped) side plots and unnecessary epilogue.
The Riddle-Master Trilogy by Patricia A. McKillip
Plot: All the wizards left behind were riddles, and the only one who might be able to solve them is the biggest riddle of all.
Page Count: 578 (Full Trilogy)
Award:Harpist in the Wind (Book 3): 1980 Locus Fantasy
Worth a read: Yes
Primary Driver: (Plot, World, or Character)
Bechdel Test: Pass
Technobabble: Fantasy Babble: Minimal.
Review: It's an epic fantasy trilogy. It's a good one. Kinda loved it. Heroes and villains are complex, magic is interesting and coherent. Excellent characters. Cool development of powers, though it is far more power sprint than power crawl. Pacing can be odd; a few long pauses followed by frenetic scenes. Very well written. A satisfying read.
Watchtower by Elizabeth A. Lynn
Plot: The Southerners picked the wrong keep to invade; Ryke will do everything he can to get it back.
Page Count: 240
Award: World Fantasy Award 1980
Worth a read: No
Primary Driver: (Plot, World, or Character)
Bechdel Test: Pass
Technobabble: Fantasy Babble: Minimal.
Review: The sweet, sweet taste of subpar writing. World building: "You people from the hot South are not used to how cold it is here up North!" Character Development: "You mean... I don't just need to indiscriminately murder people?!" and "You mean... women can fight too?!" Writing Quality (Verbatim): "He thought it might have ben a room in Tornor. The room was hot. He went to the window to open the shutters. They stuck. He had to force the latch. At last one opened."
Titan by John Varley
Plot: The intrepid crew of the Ringmaster crash in alien territory and must figure out how to survive.
Page Count: 309
Award: 1980 Locus SF
Worth a read: No
Primary Driver: (Plot, World, or Character)
Bechdel Test: Pass
Technobabble: Minimal to moderate.
Review: It is hard to find such a dumb book that takes itself so seriously. Some legitimately interesting exploration bits not enough to redeem this one. Extremely juvenile. Raises interesting questions and offers insultingly insipid answers. There are elements that are quite good - particularly some crisp dialogue - but it's just not worth it.
Any questions or comments? Fire away! A truly massive thank you to u/gremdelfor mailing me a bunch of books! People like you are what make this endeavor worth the effort. I’ve been using this spreadsheet, as well as a couple others that kind Redditors have sent. So a huge thanks to u/velzerat and u/BaltSHOWPLACE At the request of a number of you, I’ve written up extended reviews of everything and made a blog for them. I’ve included the links with the posts for individual books. I try to put up new reviews as fast as I read them. Take a look in the comments for that link! The Bechdel Test is a simple question: do two named female characters converse about something other than a man. Whether or not a book passes is not a condemnation so much as an observation; it provides an easy binary marker. Seems like a good way to see how writing has evolved over the years. At the suggestion of some folks, I’m loosening it to non-male identified characters to better capture some of the ways that science fiction tackles sex and gender. For a better explanation of why it’s useful, check out this comment from u/Gemmabeta
Hi all. I'm a 40-something gu..... well, I guess I'm a girl, it turns out. That's something I am struggling to come to terms with, especially since it's something that I feel like I should have figured out a long time ago, but I know we come to it when we come to it. So, last week, I came out to my wife, that I feel like I'm not supposed to be a guy, that I'm supposed to be a woman, I think. My wife told me how she was happy that I finally admitted it to myself and was waiting for me to tell her. She knew... Our first few days after that were worrisome. My wife has a severe anxiety disorder, so she thought of every single problem that could arise. She was afraid hormones would change my personality or make it so I couldn't stand the way she smells, and that I'd no longer be attracted or in love with her. She was afraid of me being murdered by bigots, that I'd not be able to keep a job because trans people aren't treated well around here. She was afraid that she wouldn't be strong enough to see me through all of it. But we talked. We held each other. We loved each other. And most of her fears were able to be calmed. I talked to a lot of trans women, and was able to get answers to most of the things she had fears about. For the rest, I found that there's a good progressive community in our little red town, and that there are lists of employers that are LGBT friendly, and great support groups in general. With my wife's fears calmed, she showed how amazingly supportive and wonderful she is. We had talked about me starting by wearing things around the house that make me feel good, that I'd remove all my unwanted body hair, and do things that wouldn't cause much comment out in public. I figured this would take months, but my wife went shopping after work and came home with half a dozen skirts and tops for me, some camis and panties, and so now, around the house, I can dress girly, and when I have to go out, I have a cami and girly underwear on and nobody has to know. We discovered that shaving is not an option for my body hair, so I got an epilator and will be starting to use that in the next week. Last week, I wasn't sure if I was a girl, or if I was somewhere under the non-binary umbrella. Now, with all of the wonderful things my wife has helped me with, I know. I need to be a girl. It's gonna take a long time, but eventually I'm going to get on HRT and get to have boobs and hips and maybe a great butt too, and I will eventually be living my life the way I need, and I have the most incredible wife to go through this with me. Life is hard, but life is good.
60% of participants who favor black are generally pessimistic, the highest compared to other participants.
79.5% of participants who favor gray tend to think with their head, the highest compared to other participants.
70.4% of participants who favor yellow are generally optimistic, the highest compared to other participants.
The most favored color among all female participants is purple.
The most favored color among all male participants is blue.
The most favored color among all non-binary and participants categorized in the other gender category is green.
The most favored color among the 10-19 and 20-29 age range is blue.
The highest score for openness goes to the participants who favor white.
The highest score for extraversion goes to the participant who favor gray. (Yes, brown is the highest but since a very few participants favor brown, the score is more likely to be lower)
The highest score for neuroticism goes to the participants who favor pink.
The highest agreeableness goes to the participants who favor yellow.
The highest conscientiousness goes to the participants who favor gray. (Yes, brown is also the highest but since a very few participants favor brown, the score is more likely to be lower)
You can view the raw data. Comment: These scores are likely to be skewed and inaccurate. The interpretation of the data may also be flawed. I am aware that there are some questions are missing options that are worth including, especially the question on general mood. There may some questions I could have asked like nationally that could have a relationship with favorite colors. The reason for the participants to favor certain colors is never certain, thus I'm only making an objective observation based on the data I have. Also, correlation doesn't mean causation. And, not all those who favor the same color behave the same way. I'm making an inference that people with certain traits appeal to a particular color or group of colors. I want to say thank you for all who took my survey. Out of all the surveys I posted on my old Reddit account, I have never gotten more than 50 participants. This survey got over 1000! I never thought that this survey would be that popular.
Thank you for taking part of the 2020 edition of /reddevils' census! We had 3,459 responses over the course of several days, and increase of . Here are the results! Age With a year passing, it's understandable that our user base has also aged. What is interesting is that while last year 59.5% of the userbase indicated that they were 25 and younger, only 46.1% did so this year. Given that there was also a large increase in respondents for the "26-30" age group, it seems that we had a lot of 25 year old folks responding last year. Here is a chart showing the break out by age group and also an age distribution graph. I've included also a year-over-year comparison this year. These do not represent percent change but rather simple subtraction. For example, the 4.1% increase seen in the "26-30" age group comes from this year's "26-30" being 29.17% of this years census responses vs. only being 25.07% last year. Conclusion? We're getting old folks. Gender As with every census we've run, /reddevils is overwhelmingly male. 96.2% of respondents indicated that they were male which translates to 3,328 out of the 3,459 responses. The number of ladies here increased greatly compared to last year with 72, up from 28 in 2019. 18 respondents declined to specify their gender while 41 responded with another gender. Our resident Wookiees have increased in number to 3, up from 1 last year and in the 2012 census. 2 respondents responded as being Non-binary as well as 2 indicated that they were Olesexual. Each of the following received one response apiece: Coca Cola Can, Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, Cube, Moderator, Divine Enlightened Energy Being, Two-Horned Rainbow Unicorn, Earthworm, Bisexual Leprechaun (who, surprisingly was not from Ireland but rather the Land Down Under), Absolute Chad, Anti-Virus, Attack Titan, Neymar, Ole-Wan Keaneobi, Parrot Lord, Frank Lampard, Optimus Prime, Potato, Slightly Under Ripe Kumquat, Gek (Geek?), Twin Engine Rafale Fighter Jet, Gender Is A Construct, Vulcan, Washing Machine, Wolfbrother, Juggernaut, Woolly Mammoth, Luke Shaw's Masculine Bottom, and Mail. There was also one respondent who deigned to use the "Other" option here to leave me a very rude message. Guess you can't please everyone. Employment Most of the reds are employed (75.3% across the Employed, Student Employed, and Self Employed categories), up from last years' 71.5%. Given the current state of the world, it is nice to see that most are still employed. Our student population has gone down, understadably, from 37.4% across the two student categories to 30.0%. A full breakdown of the year-over-year changes can be seen here. Our retirees increased in number from 1 last year to 11 this. Enjoy retirement sirs/madams. Residence As expected, the majority of /reddevils is UK or US based (25.85% and 25.93%, respectively). We have seen major changes this year, particularly in relation to Scandinavia, which saw the largest increase in percentage points year-over-year. I wonder what happened there. If we're breaking it down by the regions I arbitrarily put into the census form, UK (England) is the clear winner for a second year running with 569 members reporting living in England and another 184 specifically saying they are in Manchester. I received some feedback about covering large areas with a single region. This was largely driven by how few responses had come from these these regions historically. I'll include a few more next year but please do not expect me to list every one of the the 195 countries in the world. I've also received some feedback about not allowing any options for folks with family ties or had grown up in England/Manchester and had moved away. This will also be included in next years census. Season TicketholdeMatches Attended Overwhelmingly, most of us here are not season ticketholders (97.95%). We did see an increase in those who are, though it is fairly minor. Most folks are unable to attend games as well. The number of fans who do go to many games (16+ per season) more than tripled from last year. You all are the real MVPs. How long have you been following football/Manchester United? Understandably, we don't have a whole lot of new fans. Interestingly enough though, we've had a large increase in folks who have started following football regularly in the last 1-3 years despite having followed United for longer than that. Putting on my tin foil hat, that at least makes me think we're more fun to watch these days. How long have you been a subscriber to /reddevils and how do you usually access Reddit? There are a lot of new-ish users with 63.6% reporting they have subscribed here for less than 3 years. We have a decent number of /reddevils veterans however, 154 users indicated that they had been subscribed for more than 8 years. It's good to see the old guard still around. Unsurprisingly, Reddit apps are the most popular method to access Reddit by far. This is followed by Old Reddit users on Desktop, users of the Mobile Reddit website, and then New Reddit users coming in dead last. Long live old Reddit. Favorite Current Player The mood around this question was incredibly different than last year. Last year, many were vocal indicating that they had a hard time choosing due to our squad being shit. Victor Lindelof ended up being the by and large favorite with around a quarter of the votes, followed by Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford. This year, it appeared that there were no such issues. Only 1 response in the survey indicated that they couldn't choose because our squad was shit while the vast majority either selected a player or indicated that they loved them all. Prime Minister Doctor Sir Marcus Rashford overwhelmingly came in first place with an almost 300 vote lead over second placed Anthony Martial. Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood were neck and neck for a while, eventually settling into third and fourth respectively. Former crowd favorites Victor Lindelof and Paul Pogba fell down the rankings with Lindelof ending in 8th place and Pogba in 5th. Favorite All Time Player Wayne Rooney continued to the be the king of /reddevils amassing nearly double the votes of second placed Paul Scholes. Cristiano Ronaldo came in third after a very tight race with Scholes. Beckham came in fourth followed by fifth placed Cantona and sixth placed Giggsy. Here is a year-over-year comparison purely on recorded responses. Most players received just about the same share of the votes as they did last year. The biggest changes came from Wayne Rooney (up) and David Beckham (down). The way the numbers land, it almost looks like Wazza was stealing votes from Becks! Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had more of the proverbial pie, again I wonder whats happened there. My man Park Ji Sung came in 11th place, good to see that there are at least 58 Park lovers out there! Now for a bit of fun. Someone asked in the Census thread how many of George Best's votes came from Northern Ireland. One user suggested it was all of them, the data on the other hand says otherwise. Only 10 of Best's 29 votes came from Northern Ireland. George Best tied for favorite player there with Wayne Rooney with Paul Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo tying for 3rd place with 8 votes apiece. I did this same exercise with a few other players. Here are the results:
While Scandinavians votes were joint-most for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (tied with the UK), he was not the most popular player among respondents living in Scandinavia. He came in second behind Wayne Rooney.
Roy Keane both received the most votes from the Republic of Ireland and was also the most popular player among Irish respondents.
Eric Cantona was not voted heavily by the French. The British, on the other hand, love him with 82 of his 218 votes coming from the United Kingdom. The majority of Cantona voters are older, with 134/218 being over 30 years of age.
Park Ji Sung received the most votes from the US (21) followed by the UK (19) and Southeast Asia (4).
Among respondents from the United Kingdom, Wayne Rooney was the most popular followed by Scholes, Ronaldo, and Cantona.
Among respondents from the United States, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, Wayne Rooney was the most popular. Scholes and Ronaldo alternated in popularity in second and third place. Beckham placed fourth in all three regions.
Thank you all again for your participation. We'll run one next year and see how things have changed!
OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – ESCAPE FROM STALAG SULTANATE, Part 1
That reminds me of a story. “HELLFIRE AND DALMATIANS!” I shouted to no one in particular. “What’s the problem, dear?” Esme asks in that way she has of telling me to calm down without having to say it directly. “This bloody fucking country. A day late and several dollars short.” I fume. “Can’t get a new liquor license because of the bloody COVID. Can’t go to a hotel bar and have a snort because of the bloody COVID. Can’t even slip across the border to Dubai and soak up some room service and buckets of complimentary cocktails because of the bloody COVID.” Yes, the Sultanate of Oman, in its infinitesimal wisdom, has traditionally followed other GCC countries by at least three months in making any sort of proclamations regarding this latest bugaboo: the hideous, deadly, itchy, loathsome, and possibly serially bent, noxious, pandemical COVID-19; aka, this pandemic’s entry for flu. Their response is one of immense knee-jerk without first having thought of the consequences. “Bloody lockdown, 2100 to 0700. What is this, the whole fucking country’s been bad and now being sent to bed without any supper?” I wondered aloud. “Idiot benchodes.” Even Esme couldn’t come up with a rejoinder to that. “Plus they close all the bars. And all the hotels. And the fucking bottle shops. It’s not enough that these fucking Muppets jack the ‘sin tax’ on booze and cigars by 100%, now they’re not even legally available.” I swore. Of course, once you’ve spent even a small portion of the time that I have in the Middle East, you have your connections. Your system. Your access to the seedy underbelly of any society; the venerable Black Market. Jesus Q. Christ on toast with baked beans, fried tomatoes, black pudding, and mushrooms, I could get most anything in the Middle East, be it legal, shady, or just plain illegal. However, before you all recoil in horror that the venerable Dr. Rocknocker dabbles in the prohibited, just remember: the ends always dojustify the means. “I'm telling you, Esme dear; this Gulf story is getting too complicated. The weasels have started closing in.” I complain to Es as she hands me a fresh drink. “Do you think…?” Esme asks expectantly. Esme is more than ready to go. I’ve used this place as a base of operations for years whilst I wear out the Omani legal system suing those asswipes that think just because they’re local and I’m a kafir, they’re immune to the law. I’ve spent a long, profitable and time-consuming period of the last few years proving them wrong. But, time was marching onwards. I agreed with Esme, we’ve milked this particular cash cow dry. It was time to hitch up our bootstraps, call it a day, and get the hell out of Dodge. But not before I took care of a few loose ends. Now, the country had recently lost its venerable Sultan, who croaked back in January of this year. Sultan Qaboos was a good egg, friend to expat and local alike. Did a shitload of good for this benighted Middle East sandpit. Dragged it kicking and screaming out of the 12th century into, well, not exactly the 21st, but a whole hell of a lot closer. He realized that he needed revolutionary, not evolutionary change in the country. By revolutionary, he needed American, British, Canadian, and the like Western Expats here to do the heavy thinking and lifting and Eastern Expats like Indians, Bangladeshis and Nepalese to do all the scut work. Yeah, I know. That sounds racist as fuck, but sometimes that’s the way the ball bounced. Simple evolution of society where Omanis graduated the local equivalent of grade school, through high school, into University, and finally into Entry level jobs in the oil and gas industry wasn’t going to cut it. Took too long and the country needed a serious cash flow now. So, that’s what he did. And it worked a treat. Then he died. And his chosen took over. Except his chosen was pretty much antithetical to everything the previous and very revered and successful, Sultan wanted. Soon, there are 100% ‘sin taxes’ aimed directly at the western expats. Tourists included. Then there’s quotas and ‘Letters of No Objection’, which are impossible to get so that the Eastern Expats can’t switch jobs. Then, there are Sultanic proclamations of new taxes on tourists, new taxes on fast food, new taxes on this, that and the other. Then there’s, in his own words, “Oman is for Omanis”, blatantly ridiculous and xenophobic Omanization, and the general swipe at all expats. “GET OUT.” This was the clear message of the new sultan. He wanted to take over and possibly nationalize all the oil workings in the country. Ask Venezuela, Iran, and Myanmar how well that worked out for them. Then he wants all expats out on their asses. He wants Omanis to take over all the jobs, even though they’re nowhere near educated nor experienced enough for the positions. Then take up the massive GDP slack in lower oil production and oil prices with tourism. Given everything else, that last line should be enough to get him off the throne. He’s fucking nuts if he thinks people are going to want to cruise or overland anywhere near a place where foreigners are seen only as a cash supply, are despised, and would welcome these all new 100% tax levies. Be that as it may, Esme and I decided that we have had enough of 135O F summer temperatures, virtual house arrest under the guise of a COVID lockdown, and idiots who were the only ones stupid or twisted enough not to vamoose when the great, big bloody letters were clearly written on the wall. But, there was the physical act of getting out of the country. Now, I had plenty of strings which I could pull, but I decided I’d start low and save those until we really needed them. So low, in fact, we went to the US Embassy in Muscat. “How low can you go?” reverberated through my head. What a haven of sad-sacks, flubadubs, and third rate hobbyists. Was either Esme or I surprised that when we finally secured an invitation to the embassy, that required a bit of string-pulling with the ex-Ambassador to Oman, now in Kabul; that besides the peach-fuzz faced Marine guarding the place, we were the only Americans in the joint? “This is American soil!” I laughed, as I pulled out a huge Cuban cigar and was immediately told to extinguish it. “We’re as American as apple pie and napalm! We file our fucking 1040s every April; I pay my fucking long-distance taxes and demand US assistance to vacate this gloomy place of sandy, sweaty, sultry Sturm und Drang!” “Shut up, Rock”, Esme chided me, “They don’t understand English. Much less, the florid English the way you trowel it on.” “Fuckbuckets”, I remonstrated. “Here I had memorized the whole Patrick Henry speech he made to the Second Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775, at St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia. Troglodytes. No admiration for the classics.” “Rock, dear?” Esme noted, “It’s almost 1100 hours. Best to get to our appointment.” True, our appointment was slated for 1100 hours. But around here, anything starting within three hours of the stated time was considered close enough. We dragged ourselves, none too cheerfully, to the waiting room. Once we pried open the door, there was the usual “If you hear a high pitched wail, hit the deck” signs, and other things one could do while kissing one’s ass goodbye if there was a terrorist attack, we had a whole new slew of bullshit with which to deal. “Social distancing. 6 feet. Or if you’re from Baja Canada, 1 cow’s length.” “Must wear a mask. Bandanna, bandoliers, and large-caliber weapons or sombrero optional.” “No sitting. Faux Naugahyde seats are too difficult to sterilize. You must stand at attention, do not talk amongst yourselves, and remain patient until your number is called.” “Well, fuck!”, I snorted quietly, as I raised my first secret flask in rapt attention to our old glory of red, white, and blue. “Good thing they didn’t say nothin’ about getting a load on. If I’m going to be treated like cattle, I’m going to at least have something to chew on in the process.” “Oh, lord”, Esme grumbled, “You didn’t bring that Japanese Rye Whiskey with you, did you?” “ルハイム”, I said, which is Japanese for “L’chaim”! “Oh, hell”, Esme grinned as she borrowed my flask, “This is going to be a long day.” I began to protest but remembered that I was wearing my Agency-issued field vest. I must have had at least 5 or 6 more flasks lurking around in those pockets somewhere. Funny aside: they don’t bother with my going through an X-ray machine nor do they confiscate my phone, radio, knives, nor other field equipment when I go to the US Embassy. It took them almost two solid hours last time, and by the time they got to my Brunton Compass, emergency flasks, a few spare blasting cap boosters, and saw the label sewn into the back of my vest, they decided they’d just send Rack and Ruin some evil Emails and let me pass unmolested. “I’ll drink to that”, I say as I raise a flask as the locals raise an eyebrow. “Courtesy of Atheists International. We’re here for your children…” The collective gasps and growls indicate they weren’t happy with me or my betrothed. “Don’t care, Buckwheat”, I smiled, “Never did, never will. We’re out of here for good. You can curse my name all you want then. But, then again, why you standing in the American Embassy trying to get a visa to visit the land of the great evil empire?” All the locals and most of the Eastern Expats crowded into a corner as far away from us as they physically could. “BOO!” I snickered over a shot of Wild Turkey 101 Rye. “Now serving number 58! Number 58!” came the call over the tannoy. “Look at that”, I remarked to Es as I stashed both our flasks, “It’s only 12:35. Record time.” We both shimmy into the glass-fronted and presumably bullet- but not C-4 resistant- glass. We pick up the telephones there and acknowledge that we are who we said we were. The East Indian fella, one Harsh Talavalakar, behind the multiple layers of glass asked us why we were here. “Didn’t you read the appointment card?” I asked, “We’re here to have Uncle Sam get us passage out of this sordid and sultry place.” “You are American citizens?” he asked, vacantly. “That’s what it says on appointment cards and these here blue passports,” I replied. “Well, how was I to know?” he scoffed, returning to his half-consumed powdered sugar doughnut. “Maybe read the appointment card and see that we are US Citizens here on the behest of Ambassador Bethesda Orun?” I replied. “Like I have time to read everything that comes across my desk”, he scoffed again. I tapped on the glass to make certain I had his full attention. “Look here, Herr Harsh. I’m not sure how you got this job at the American Consulate but want to be very clear with you. My wife and I are residents of this place for the last 20 years. We’re American citizens of very high standing and have more high powered connections than an Arduino in a nuclear power station. We have direct connections with Langley, Virginia and if you want to retain your cushy job, you’ll put down that fucking doughnut and pay very rapt attention to the two Americans standing here who are getting more and more irritated with some Indian benchode that doesn’t think he has to really do his job. You savvy? You diggin’ me, Beaumont” I guess the benchode got his attention. The two scowls he received from Esme and myself sort of cemented the idea that we’re not too pleased and not with to be trifled. “Yes, sir?” he said, “And ma’am”, as Harsh quickly corrected himself as the doughnut disappeared. “We want out. Gone. Vamoose. Outta here. AMF. You got me?” he nods behind the shatterprone glass. “Now I know the borders are sealed and the airport’s closed, but fuck that. We want out and we want gone for good. I can’t make that much simpler or clearer. Get after it, son.” I said, as seriously as I could. “Well, sir”, he began, “ The airport’s closed…” “Are you deaf or born stupid and been losing ground ever since?” I asked, rhetorically. “I know that. We all know that. My HAT knows that. So, what devious little plan does the US Embassy have in store in just such an unsavory situation?” “Well”, he chokes a bit, “There’s this unofficial lottery where America citizens are issued random numbers and if their number comes up, there are seats made available on special clandestine charter flights.” Considering that Es and I are some of the last American citizens left in the country, I thought our chances might be pretty good. “OK”, I said, “Let us have two of your finest numbers.” “Yes, sir”, he said, “That will be US$500 total.” “Excuse me?” I said. “Oh, yes”, he smirked, “US$250 per number. Chances are you’ll never be called, but with these numbers, at least you stand a chance.” “OK”, I said, “Forget the numbers. I want your name and operating number. I’ve got a report to file that’s due in Virginia before breakfast.” “Oh, sir”, he smirked more, “I cannot release that information. Thanking you. Now be having a good day.” And he slammed the supposedly bulletproof shield between himself and Es and me. “Bulletproof? Maybe. Nitro proof? No fucking way.” I groused as I fished out a couple of blasting cap superfast boosters. “Calm down, dear”, Esme smiled to me as we walked out, “When he wasn’t looking, I took his picture, got his operating number, and full name. In fact, I think I got some information on where he lives…” In the cab on the way back to our villa, I reviewed and confirmed Es’s subterfuge. Flasks number 6 and 8 needed serious replenishment by the time we arrived home. “That’s fucking right, Ruin.” I yelled over the phone, “We need extraction. And now. Along with our personal effects and a few hundredweight of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ boxes of stuff we need to be transported.” “Well, Rock”, Agent Ruin replied, “That’s a tall order. Usually, extraction is for one person and the stuff they’re wearing. Tell you what. Let Rack and I work on it for a week or so. We’ll arrange transport of your personal effects, then we’ll see about getting you and Esme to Dubai. At least there, you can order a plane. Hell, knowing you, you’ll get Tony Stark to fly in and provide door to door service. Sit tight. We’ll be back in touch.” “Good!” I say as I slam the phone down. With these newfangled cellphone telephone instruments, they lack the same sort of satisfying “KER FUCKING CLANG” the old landlines used to have. “Es!”, I yelled, “Start packing. We’re due out of here within a week.” That meant we needed to do some packing triage: • Things going home with us. • Things being shipped. • Things being sold. • Things being left behind. • Things no one was about to get their furry little mitts on. “Oh, fuck!”, I startled. I had just remembered the John Wick-ian stash of various explosives, and adjunct materials I had buried in the basement. Obviously, I couldn’t take it home with me, I couldn’t sell it, and I sure as festering frothing fuck wasn’t going to leave it here. I needed to call one of my more shifty and swarthy friends and arrange for passage out to the deep, dark desert. Around the area where the new sultan had opened a couple of brand new landfills. Looks like I was going to expand them a few meters once we disposed of the few hundred kilos of accumulation I attained over the last few years. See, I’m a packrat. I never leave nor toss anything that might be convenient. Might have a benefit. Might prove to be useful sometime down the line. So, I’ve accumulated a bit of kit. Like…well…a few hundred sticks of Du Pont 60% Extra Fast Dynamite. A couple dozen spools of Z-4 Primacord, in various degrees of fullness. A shitload of C-4; enough bricks for a Floydian wall. A couple, well, a dozen, well, two dozen cases of binary liquid explosives. Hey, this stuff is hard to come by… Continuing, several thousand blasting caps and superfast flash blasting cap boosters. Some mercury fulminate. Some nitrogen triiodide. A couple tens of pounds of PETN. An equal amount of RDX. A few Erlenmeyer flasks full of shit even I’m not certain of what it is… Oh. And a few kilos of freshly decanted, raw nitroglycerin; packed in sturdy wooden boxes lined with new fuzzy lamb’s wool. Not that much. Just 10 or 12 kilos. Yeah. I can’t leave that here. Even a small accident with this stuff would lay waste to not only our villa; but my landlord’s villa with whom we share a common wall. Besides, as Omanis go, my landlord was the only dishdasha dressed denizen for which I had any respect or admiration. He was a good guy. I needed to return his villa at least in some semblance of what I received when we first rented from him. So, I had to dispose of many, many billions of kilojoules of potential energy. I needed to do this out in a distant and far away from prying ears and eyes regions and I needed a truck to haul this stuff out to the range. To be continued…
Strike First, Strike Hard, the Merciless needs a buff
Disclaimer: I'm nowhere near as good as some of the theorycrafters in this sub, and better numbers may be available elsewhere but I think this is worth a read, if at all as a case study I just clocked in full 7 days of playing this game with a build made specifically for the Merciless Exotic Rifle, and while it's widely agreed on that it needs a buff, I would like to explore the shortcomings of this gun and my love-hate relationship with it. Let's start with the basics. What does the Merciless actually do?
Binary Trigger This weapon fires on trigger pull and release. If both bullets hit the same enemy, gain a stack. At 7 stacks, shooting an enemy deals 500% amplified damage and creates a 7m explosion dealing 500% weapon damage, consuming the stacks.
Reading the talent, it sounds easy, right? A rifle with a 30 bullets mag, I need to hit one dude 14 consecutive times and he will get a nasty explosion and tons of damage. But, the Merciless' drawback or the thing that you need to build to overcome and take advantage of, is that it's perhaps the worst weapon in the game to handle. As soon as you take a shot and see the recoil, you'd be sending it to the stash, never to see the light again. That is unless you build with the attribute "Weapon Handling". There are two ways you can approach this: 1- Get your chest talent "Braced". Braced will give you a whooping 45% Weapon Handling while you're in cover. 2- Invest in Weapon Handling attributes. In my experience, the sweet spot to properly control the Merciless' recoil is somewhere between 30 and 40% Handling. That means if you're going for option 1 you are well above that ideal stat and you are deleting the chance for a damage talent in your chest piece, which neuters your build by blocking you from using popular talents like Glass Cannon, Spotter or the soon to be buffed Obliterate. Option 2 will cost you 36% CHD, as you will need at least 3 Weapon Handling rolls to reach 30% Handling (Merciless has 10), assuming max rolls. Whatever you decide to do, you will end up with a setup that will, more often than not, land consecutive shots and rack up those stacks. You will be seeing lots of Explosions go off... ...and it's underwhelming. In Heroic 4-man, an Explosion is unable to finish off an unarmored purple. This is, for me, inexcusable. I'm assuming the devs want you to make a tactical use of your maxed shot. But hitting a fully armored enemy with it barely tickles them, and you cannot one shot a red, let alone finish off an unarmored purple or yellow I'm not using Glass Cannon, so I could be losing on damage, but if I need Glass Cannon for the damage to be up to other guns in the game, why would I go with the Merciless to begin with?. So what do I get from the stacks I had to build up on the build I had to make around one attribute to make this gun actually work? Proposed Solutions and changes Now, not everything is complaining. I do have ideas that aren't mutually exclusive: 1- A named item with superior Weapon Handling. Like Fox or Contractor's, a named say Ceska or Grupo Sombra that rolls with 14% Handling. 2- An obviously needed buff. These 500% values are just not enough. PTS had 1200% or 900% if I'm not mistaken and it was deemed far too strong, so maybe settle in a middle ground at 700/800? 3- A base damage increase. This is probably the laziest to do and the safest. If you made it all the way through here, congrats. You must be interested in the subject, and if you just got here looking for a Tl;dr, I'm sorry I have none. This shit is just too much to put in a sentence. Thoughts?
Beginning|Previous Premier Valast felt a tingle. It began at the base of his spine and traveled moved upward, sending warm fuzzy feelings all throughout his body as it made its way to his brain and inserted itself in his conscious thoughts. After all of the misery. After all of the failures. For once, something had gone right. How delightful. How extravagant. How deserved. The Humans had made a mistake. Clearly, they had thought to expand upon their treachery, believing themselves to be invincible. Their monstrosity of a vessel had appeared just as their last one had, within Halcyon's inner perimeter. After their ruse of parlay, their beast had commenced belching out weapons of mass destruction, clearly in an attempt to retrieve the encryption key and the elite assassin-thief they had dispatched under the guise of a Witness. They thought Halcyon weak. Defenseless. Not true! Not true at all! Kinetics. Valast laughed aloud, his rib cage heaving out great guffaws. Accelerated mass! More laughter. The savages thought to bring such inelegance against the might of the Combine? They mistook their prior fortune for competence. Their one-time success for future capability. Alas, poor Humans, the truth of your inadequacies is made manifest! The brief gap in the defenses brought on by the improbable chain of events that had resulted in their arrival had been filled. For all of their destructive potential, their weapons were useless. Valast continued to cackle, his hindclaws scrunching up the soft material of his pillow, as he watched the Humans receive their punishment for their insolence. The Humans had made assumptions. Perhaps assumptions were fine in their backwater corner of the galaxy, but here, among civilization, assumptions could be quite dangerous indeed. It was quite unwise to assume Halcyon would leave the inner perimeter exposed. They must have thought their Evangi co-conspirators would leave the gates open for them, as the traitor Neeria had done when she had given them access to a Combine wormkey in the first place. Sadly for the Humans, their four-armed friends had been exposed for what they were. A great many of the Evangi now lay motionless on the floor of a Halcyon mainway, a fitting end to their perfidy. Halcyon had stood since the beginning, and it would continue to stand long after the Human infestation had been expunged from the Combine Space. Perhaps the Humans should have spent more time pondering the nature of the place before they had meddled with forces they clearly did not understand. Halcyon existed in defiance of the chaotic nature of the neutron star it orbited. Its survival required an solution to the objects such a gravity well attracted. Halcyon had many such solutions, weaved together to maintain a delicate balance. Among them were the inertial dampeners. The screen in Valast's paws bloomed with colors, indicating firings of Halcyon's inertial dampeners. Each blossom of color was an attempt by the Humans to deploy weapons in clear violation War Accords, cementing Humanity's position as a menace to decent civilization. Had Valast not commanded Bo'Bakka'Gah to take the necessary precautions, the devastation would have been significant. Lines of crimson sailed through the blooms of color. Valast's whiskers twitched, his eyes squinting as it tracked one of these lines. The solution was not perfect. The intertial dampeners in close proximity to Halcyon were a final precaution, and their purpose was narrow. They were a fine net, meant to indiscriminately capture any residual high-speed astral particulate that had escaped the outer defenses. Their efficacy diminished at an exponential rate in proportion to the size and mass of the object they acted upon. Thus far, they had been quite successful at preventing the Humans from making use of their weapons, but dampeners had no effect on the Human vessels. Even if the dampeners could be used for such a purpose, their indiscriminate nature would have required the cessation of all space born travel within Halcyon, an unacceptable disruption to the workings of the Combine's capitol. The Humans' small spherical vessels were thus capable of traveling unimpeded throughout Halcyon space, tracing their crimson lines behind them as they did so. Such a thing did not overly worry Valast. They could not fire their weapons, and they were susceptible to electromagnetic disruption, rendering them easy targets for the Peacekeepers. Were Valast not otherwise consumed with the affairs of state, he would perhaps take to the front line and dispatch a few himself. Sadly, his bravery would find no opportunity for direct expression beyond the valor found in the privilege of command competently exercised. The whiskers ceased their twitching and some cheer returned. It would not be long before the meddlesome Human spheres were swatted from the sky and the encryption key recovered. Then they would dispatch the Human warship. Then Humanity. He need only wait. ----------- "Get spread. Get small." Sana called out. Had to buy time. Had to get a handle on the situation. Not her first rodeo, but it was the first time where she had no idea what the hell she was riding. Maybe the aliens were riding her. Maybe it wasn't a rodeo, maybe it was just a slaughter. That was the problem. No one knew anything. The callsigns in her local were dropping like flies. Squaddies getting wiped without so much as a peep. The eggs in Science were saying EMPs, but the balls were supposed to be fixed against that frakkery. Sensors said the balls were still there even after they went dead, so maybe they were right. Couldn't think about that now. Couldn't think about anything but the mission. Captain Sana Bushida had a shit-shuttle to bring to station. She needed to get from A to B. Normally the quickest point-to-point was a line, but the baddies were coming in from all sides. Trying to corral her in. So be it. She could handle a long and squiggly with the juice she had in the four balls attached to the cockpit. Only question was how long they'd be up for. Whatever they were using on the balls wasn't touching her. She was good, but she wasn't that good. Guess they wanted her kicking and screaming. Predators, not scavengers then. Frakk 'em. Right in their stupid alien faces. Sana's brain shunted command signals as fast as her eyes to parse the readouts in her pilot pod. Dodging. Weaving. Diving. Dipping. Half those words didn't even apply to space, but they felt right. Float like a butterfly, run like cheetah on amphetos. She'd sting 'em later. Run run run, fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the shit-shuttle can. Swipe. Swipe. Two smaller ships moved in a pincer formation, one cutting off her angle around the larger ship she was skimming around. Sana let out a giggle, as she shoved the shuttle in another direction. "You thought you had me, crapdonkey? You never had me. You're gonna be seeing my ass all day." The giggle somehow transformed into a roar halfway through as a third ship appeared in her view, coming out from its hiding place on the other side of the large ship. "SCREW YOU!" They weren't going to win. Losing wasn't an option. Swipe. Patterns emerged as the ballet played out. Certain ships were the herders. The small annoying frakks that always seemed to be moving around her flanks. Other ships were the receivers. They were the big boys. The ones who just floated there like giant shits in space. Lazy frakks just waiting to be fed some shit-shuttle. Fine then. New info. New tactics. New rule: Get around the herders, never get closer to the receivers. Herders bad. Receivers bad-der-er. As long as she was a step ahead of the herders and two steps away from the receivers, she'd be fine. Problem was they were more agile than her. Problem was there was more of them. Problem was the friendly callsigns on her readouts kept disappearing. Problem was that she was stuck in here instead of out there where she belonged. Ninety-nine problems... Swipe. Swipe. All she needed was a line of sight. A place where she could get a whiff of open space and just gun it. Navigate the maze. Get through it. Light at the end of the tunnel. Glass is half full. Metaphor. Analogy. Idiom. The stream of consciousness flowed out of her, expressing itself in her verbiage and in the desperately navigating shuttle some distance away. Step forward. No steps backward. Okay, maybe one step backward, but it'll be okay. She'd take the step forward soon enough. Just...needed...a...line. Alpha, Beta, Charlie, and Delta was gone. It was just her. Swipe. Swipe. The fate of the world. The shit-shuttle must survive. Swipe. Swipe. The gap opened. She saw it. They didn't. "There it is bitches!" All four balls slammed the thrusters on. It wasn't a direct bee line to the Oppenheimer but it was good enough. She just needed to get out of the hornet's nest and into open space so she could keep pouring on the acceleration. She didn't know how much juice the herders had, but it was all she had going for her at this point. Bitter bile rose up in her throat as the shit-shuttle surged forward, leaving A through D behind. Her squaddies. Her friends. Abandoned. She should be out there. She could be. She just needed to get the mission done. She was so close. She was putting distance between her and the baddies. Just a few more minutes...the link cut off. Her thoughts were shunting into a wall. She swiped, her eyes scanning the readouts. Alcubierre - Shuttle - Cockpit (Ejection)(DISTRESS) no longer appeared. For once, Sana was speechless. --------------------- Kai retched air. There was nothing else to throw up at this point. He'd given everything he had to give, and it was now floating about the cockpit in a viscous cloud. He was fairly certain Neeria was collateral damage in the matter. If she were ever to regain consciousness, she'd find she had been provided with a fresh coat of puke paint. At this point, being blind was something of a boon. Congratulations were owed to the sadist in the pilot's seat though, he hadn't emptied his stomach like this since flight sims. He'd raise his hand in salute if it weren't for the incredible g-force shifts whipping him around like a rag doll as the pilot attempted to avoid whatever was out there. Some of the maneuvers seemed impossibly complex, as if the cockpit was navigating through an impassable morass of enemies. Or perhaps the pilot was just drunk. Either seemed possible. The whipsawing continued. Back. Forth. Round and round. Acceleration never seemed to continue in a single direction for more than a few seconds. They were going in circles. They had to be. Finally, it appeared the pilot had decided on a direction as Kai was slammed back into his chair as the cockpit rocketed forward under sustained acceleration. They must have broken through. Or the pilot had fallen asleep at the controls with the throttle down and they were all doomed. Either way. At this point, Kai was just eager for it to be over. The acceleration continued. He felt like he was being crushed. Like an enormous hand was pressing against him, trying to squeeze all of his organs out through his eyes. Whatever was powering the cockpit now was beyond the parameters of the shuttle's acceleration compensators. His vision began to dim and his joints ached. Pain surged up in his right arm, which was still contorted within the goo. He was fairly certain a bone had just snapped. "Oppenheimer..ETA," Kai managed to gasp out, drawing the breath back into his lungs with some effort. "The shuttle is not currently on course to intercept with the UWDFFOppenheimer." "Joan." Kai wheezed. "Connect. Joan." The acceleration cut off. Kai took a huge gulp of air, the relief immediate. "Comm-link. Fleet Admiral Joan Orléans." No response. Kai tried again. Silence greeted him. Grumbling, he raised his left wrist toward his face. He stuck out his tongue and smeared it along the wrist console's interface. None of the expected beeps and chirps sounded out. It was dead, and, he suspected, so was the cockpit along with whatever had been propelling him. No life support. No way to call out for help. No way to do anything but sit there. For all intents and purposes, they were a hunk of space junk drifting off into the black oblivion. Fair enough. It was a fitting end. Helpless. Hopeless. Kai tried to muster some anger at the situation, if only to distract him from the pain coursing through his body, but found he was up to the task. It was easier to be motivated when there was something to do. Some way he could impact the situation. But there was nothing to do but wait. Maybe he'd live. Probably he'd die. He didn't mind it, that was the same binary he faced every other day. It was a bit more present in his mind than it normally was, but the truth was that he was overdue for demise. He'd given death the slip more times than anyone had a right to. Still. It bothered him. Not the death part. The not doing what he set out to do part. He had run through walls, both literal and figurative, to make it this far. He didn't know what making it back to the Oppenheimer would mean for Humanity, but it had to be better than not making it. The encryption key -- what did it do? What could it do? Would it be doable? Neeria -- could she guide them? Could she help them navigate the treacherous galaxy Humanity was just beginning to play a part in? There were so many questions. The answers could matter. Kai tried to remember how much time they had. Without life support, the supply of oxygen would rapidly begin to deplete. He supposed it didn't matter, since he had no idea whether Neeria breathed, what Neeria she breathed, or the rate she consumed it. His space suit had a few hours of stored supply, but it was designed to work in conjunction with his helmet. Without the wrist console, he'd need to find some way to manually vent it. That was something to do. Small, but perhaps meaningful. Anything to tilt the scales just a little bit more in their direction. Just a few more minutes of air could make a difference. "Seconds matter," Kai wheezed out. His breath was wet and tasted of iron. He'd worry about that later. Air first. It wasn't much of a plan, but it was better than nothing. He hoped Joan's plans were faring better. ------------------- The Admiral's Bridge was awash in a sea of red. Multiple views vied for primacy as the situation continued to deteriorate. So far, the Oppenheimer itself had withstood the sustained EMP assault directed its way, but the same could not be said for the battle balls. Callsigns continued to blink out of existence with every passing second. The Oppenheimer had immediately attempted to provide supporting fire, but its kinetic weaponry was similarly disabled. Whatever the circumstances had been that had allowed the Alcubierre to destroy an alien vessel, they were clearly no longer relevant to the situation at hand. Without kinetics, the vast majority of Humanity's space-born projective power was effectively nullified. Science was looking into explanations and alternatives, but it would take time. The Oppenheimer's EMP arrays had succeeded in firing, but the alien vessels appeared to be impervious to that form of assault. It was unclear whether they possessed EMP hardening around core processes similar to the Oppenheimer or they had other means of deflecting attacks of that nature. In the absence of an alternative, the Oppenheimer was continuously discharging the EMP arrays as they became available, attempting to test for weaknesses. The energy drain from the sustained fire was easily accommodated by the altered physics of local space, but it was unclear whether alien defenses could be worn down by continuous assault. Other oddities were appearing as the situation unfolded. The aliens did not field any tactical fighters that their sensors could identify. There were ships of different sizes, but, thus far, no vessels had moved to directly engage the balls. Kai's cockpit was being corralled by a series of smaller ships working in conjunction with the larger ones, but that was it. Joan considered it, trying to parse out deeper meanings from the absence. Human conflict, both Earthside and in space, had always heavily relied on tactical fighters. They had numerous advantages in terms of firepower projection and significantly increased tactical dynamism in a battle zone. Either the aliens had never considered the approach, or it was considered suboptimal within this environment. Joan squinted, watching as the battle ball's callsigns dropped from the battle status view. She tilted her head. "This environment," she muttered to herself, her eyes drawn to the EMP array firing status. The recharge bars filled and expended. Filled and expended. Each cycle representing an incredibly powerful pulse of electromagnetic energy at the speed of light. Speed of light. Speed. The answer struck her. The ramifications of the answer were displeasing. Plans must be altered. Contingencies reconsidered. The Black Fork was too optimistic. Their position was considerably worse than hoped for, but not entirely beyond anticipated outcomes, which had included their immediate destruction upon arrival in the system. They simply had fewer tools than she desired. Tactical fighters had low utility when combat operated at the speed of light. There was no yield on agility, because no thruster could move faster than light could travel. There was no evading a lightspeed weapon at these distances. Unless a tactical fighter could retain functionality under fire, which the death balls so far could not, they were a pointless extravagance. At best, they could serve as a momentary distraction, particularly when their weapons were inoperable. The unique characteristics of Humanity's birthplace were a hindrance here. Kinetics were the logical path for weaponry to take in an environment where destructive output was a matter of maximizing scarce energy resources. They were also the easiest, most natural extension from their Earthside forebears. Humanity had begun development of lightspeed weapons, the EMP and the Griggs pulse among them, but they placed tremendous strain on ship systems. The Oppenheimer, as a dreadcarrier, was among the few Earth spaceships that contained a full battery of EMP arrays. Due to the extremely demanding specifications, only a Pulser class ship could make use of a Griggs pulse. Had Humanity known what it faced just beyond its doorstep, it would have invested its research and development resources differently. Too late now. The game was not lost yet, they simply must play the hand they were dealt to its greatest effect. A display flashed from green to red and moved toward the center of the wall, increasing in size. Simultaneously, three other displays shifted in color, position and size, in a chain reaction. Joan frowned. Or perhaps the game was lost, and she was only just realizing it. The shuttle cockpit's callsign, along with the four balls that had attached to it, had disappeared. Her hands darted up and began a series of gestures, swiping North to South as she removed some filters from the local space scan and South to North as she applied others. She exhaled. The shuttle had not been destroyed, only incapacitated. It was careening through space away from the cluster of alien ships closest to Halcyon, though a few were in rapid pursuit. The pursuers had acceleration in their favor, but the shuttle's current course brought them toward the Oppenheimer. Joan flicked a few fingers, pulling the course data from the local scan and pushing it into the timer view.
Pursuers to Shuttle: 1m6s
Tactical Fighter to Shuttle: 38s
Oppenheimer to Shuttle: 53s
G4 Fleet First Arrival: 1m42s
Oppenheimer to Exit: 3m0s
Before Joan could issue the order, the nearest balls peeled off and immediately began an intercept course with the shuttle. Joan pulled up the command-chain, it appeared that Captain Bushida had decided to be proactive. Very well, but it would not be enough. The balls were more likely than not to be incapacitated before they could be used in any rescue effort. This required a more substantial intervention if the outcome were to be changed. Joan pushed a new course heading into her comm-link with Ragnar. "Captain, I am moving us off of the Black Fork standing orders." Ragnar glanced at the course heading. "That's even further in." Joan nodded, "It's the only way we'll recover the cockpit. The balls can't get the job done." "There's a risk the Oppenheimer won't get it done either. They're holding back," Ragnar replied, his eyes scanned off screen, bouncing between the various readouts and inbound requests. "Doesn't make any sense they'd only have EMPs. They've got more." "Likely. My current belief is that they will refrain from further escalation until they have either secured the cockpit or believe they can no longer retrieve it. Each moment of escalation from them has been in response to an action on our part directed at the cockpit." Ragnar wiped the back of his sleeve against his brow, mopping up the sweat. "Must be something important." "Must be. The prize is likely worth the pain here, Ragnar. Retrieving the cockpit is the top priority. Preservation of ourselves is an ancillary concern." "G4 is only a few out. We can hold that long," Ragnar said. "Get the job done, Captain," Joan ordered and then cut the comm. Ragnar was a sophisticated battlefield tactician. The overlap between them was significant, and the differences between them were accretive to both. They both knew there was another card to be played, it was just a matter of whether Humanity could adapt to it. Joan opened another comm-link. "Chief Adeyemi." The Chief blinked a few times as the interjection, as if being pulled from a daze. "Idara!" Joan exclaimed. "Where's Science at?" Idara wet her lips, "We've gathered the data and mapped it to a few different explanations...but we need more--" "You don't have it. Best guess, go." "Some sort of inertial dampening field. Effects smaller objects. Weakens as the objects get larger. Only affects objects moving a certain speed. Only affects objects in space. Our kinetics are getting caught. Bigger objects, like the fighters, like the Oppenheimer, are fine. Bullets fired inside of the Oppenheimer are fine. "Any sense on source?" Idara shook her head. "But it doesn't effect the fighters. Doesn't effect energy based weapons." "From what we can see, that's right." Joan's eyes drifted toward the tracker on Kai's cockpit. Hurtling through space. "Idara, when the Alcubierre was heading for Proxima Barrier, your modeling said the ship would survive the impact, correct?" "Yes, Admiral. There isn't an equal an opposite reaction. Actor has primacy in these physics." Joan stared at Idara, lost in thought. The Chief shifted uncomfortably, "Is there something else--" "I have what I need," Joan replied, cutting the comm. She pulled up the status tracker on the balls. Over eight-five percent of launched fighters had already been incapacitated. The Oppenheimer still retained a final wing in its hangers, numbering approximately a hundred and twenty additional balls. Joan watched the timers ticking down. They needed to go on the offensive. To find a way to tilt the situation in their favor. Even if they retrieved the cockpit, it was a long way back to the wormhole, and a long time to survive before G4 appeared. If the aliens had an ace up their sleeve, that would be the time to play it, when they had nothing to lose, and everything to gain. She re-opened the comm with Ragnar. "Captain, I think we can even the odds a bit." "I'm all ears, Admiral." Joan pushed a series of orders to Ragnar. He glanced at them and then glared at her, "You want-- "Yes, Captain, that's what I want." "But they'll be destroyed," Ragnar responded. "Not if they're moving fast enough. Get whoever we can get back into the hangers, launch the rest without the pilots. Target the ships. Target Halcyon." Ragnar stared at her, "Halcyon? That's a civilian--" "Captain, I want those balls dumped and under full steam at the designated targets. That's an order." Ragnar opened his mouth and then shut it. A hand came off screen and formed a salute. The comm was dropped shortly after. Almost immediately, the tactical fighters shifted flight plans and began their retreat toward the Oppenheimer. Simultaneously, the wing residing within the *Oppenheimer'*s hangers shifted from stand-by to active. Soon they would be launched, pushing top acceleration toward Halcyon. No EMP would be able to stop them. If the aliens had another card to play, Joan hoped this would force it out and maybe, just maybe, buy enough time for G4 to make an appearance. She just needed a little time. Just needed to survive long enough for the Pulsers to arrive. Seconds mattered. Next. Be sure to leave a comment or an upvote if you're enjoying Alcubierre. If you want a sense of how much it matters to me,here's a very emo journal entry documenting it. Click this linkor reply withSubscribeMe!to get notified of updates to THE PLATYPUS NEST. I have been conducting a strange experiment on myTwitterwhich people seem to be enjoying. I found an AI bot that randomly posts impactful images every few minutes. I've decided to craft a narrative on top of these random images called "The Human Archives."
Space-time rippled as the Horns of Glory snapped into real space. The normally smooth transition from FTL subspace travel back to the laws of relativity was instead dangerously jarring, as the inertial dampeners struggled to hold the innards of the massive warship in their proper places. After straining mightily for the briefest of moments, they failed, throwing Admiral Halon Va and the rest of his bridge crew violently into their restraining harnesses. The ship shuddered under the immense stress, then settled, drifting silently through space on minimal power. “Tactical, get me a status report for the fleet on screen now. I want updates the instant ships jump in.” The Admiral’s voice was still firm and authoritative; it was taking every last shred of resolve he had to keep it that way. “Lieutenant Roshin, put a detail together and work with medical. I’m sure that re-entry caused more than a few extra injuries. Get as many of the crew patched up and ready for emergency action as fast as you can. I want a full casualty report as soon as possible. And if you find Science Officer Lentith and he’s still alive, send him to the bridge immediately.” Admiral Va settled back into his command chair, drawing creaking sounds from the over-stressed frame as it absorbed the weight of his massive form. The bridge was completely silent now, the command crew entirely focused on the tasks at hand. Or they were too afraid to say anything; Va couldn’t be sure. He was thankful for their silence, though. He didn’t have any answers for them about his failure. Keying in a few commands on the command panel at his station, the damage report for his ship popped up, the bridge lights flickering from the extra power draw. The Horns of Glory floated before him in hologram form. Long and slender, the ship was over two kilometers from bow to stern. At least, it had been a few hours ago. The forward 20 percent of the holographic ship was flashing red, indicating heavy damage. This was inaccurate, however, as the forward 20 percent of the ship simply wasn’t there anymore. The graceful lines and carefully crafted angles of the ship's armor were an unrecognizable slagged mess, and deep gouges had been cut into the inner decks all over the ship. Whole sections were missing amidships, two of the main reactors were offline, all the primary weapon batteries had been completely destroyed, and most of the critical systems were barely functioning. It was a miracle that she had survived the jump. That morning, Horns of Glory had been the greatest feat of Arien’Ra engineering, and it was now a barely functioning hulk. And it had all happened under my command, thought Va. He had no time to wallow in his failures, however, as at that moment tactical finally reconnected to the fleet command systems. The hologram of Horns of Glory quickly scaled down, appearing as a small, flashing, red point of light floating in loose formation with several other points of light. Most of them were flashing red as well. A constant stream of data and various reports scrolled down the right side of the hologram, listing in no uncertain terms the doom that Va had subjected his command to. If Va had thought that the bridge was quiet before, it was nothing compared to the complete stillness that now settled over them. No one so much as moved a muscle, as they all sat in stunned silence, reading the reports. Occasionally, the hologram would flash, and a new point of light would join the formation, adding more data to the pile spelling out their damnation. After 30 ticks, new points of light had stopped appearing. Admiral Halon Va had lost over 60 percent of his fleet, and not a single other dreadnaught had survived the slaughter. His defeat was total, and the Federation navy was crippled. Science Officer Beredarin Lentith had been the first member of his family not to enroll in command school in eight generations. They had been some of the finest members of the fleet the Vorqual race had ever contributed to the Federation. His brothers and sisters had all enrolled, which meant that as far as he was concerned, his family had more than fulfilled their duty to the Federation. Military life wasn’t for him, anyway; he wanted to explore. The Federation had been around for over 3000 years, and there were still vast swathes of the galaxy that they knew nothing about. They were still encountering new species every few hundred or so years, and there was nothing he wouldn’t give to find the next one. That had been the dream that directed him away from the military and into academia. The odds of actually finding a new race were so small, though. There were still at least 200,000,000 unexplored systems in the galaxy. There just wasn’t time to visit them all... He snapped out of his reverie as he stepped over the body, or rather, what was left of the body, of a Zelnassi marine. Most of it was just a green stain on the corridor wall at this point, though there had been enough of the chitinous armored torso to partially obstruct his path. The young lieutenant quickly continued on towards the bridge. If he was being honest with himself, becoming an expert on the area of unexplored space directly between the Federation and it’s largest military rival wasn’t the smartest of ideas. Between his family reputation and his unique knowledge base, he was just asking to get pressed into service. Which was exactly what had happened immediately upon the recent outbreak of hostilities. And now here he was stepping over corpses, marveling at the fact that he had somehow survived this long. He still couldn’t believe the insanity of the Dominion forces. Boarding an enemy ship MID-COMBAT. It was like something out of a youngling’s tale from before space travel. It was pure madness, but there were the bodies to prove that it had happened. He gingerly stepped around the remains of yet another Zelnassi. The signs of battle continued all the way to the bridge, where he found security forces still holding quickly fortified positions around the bridge entrance. There were more Zelnassi bodies at their feet. Berendarin shuddered. He had been closer to death than he thought. He quickly pushed those thoughts out of his mind. He could only imagine why he was needed on the bridge so urgently. The door slid open, and Lentith walked into a completely silent room. Admiral Va was slouched at his command station, his enormous arm propped up on the chair arm and supporting his massive, horned head. Lentith didn’t even know that Arien’Ra COULD slouch. Nevermind that the fastidious Admiral could or would ever do such a thing. Maybe things were somehow worse than he thought. No one seemed to notice him enter, so he announced himself to the Admiral. Though he didn’t shout, his voice echoed in the deathly silent room, startling most of the bridge command. Two of the other Vorqual officers swore, and the tiny Jezren manning the com station let out a high pitched sound somewhere between a squeak and chirp. Berendarin would have found it quite funny if the situation wasn’t so dire. Admiral Va immediately snapped back to being the hulk of muscle and horn that imposed his will on a room just by being in it. His booming voice only added to his authority. “Science Officer Lentith. I’m glad to see you’re still alive. Are you seriously injured?” Berendarin had almost forgotten that he had walked the entire way to the bridge holding a bandage to his head just above his left eye. The drop out of subspace hadn’t been kind to him. He pulled the bandage away, revealing a dark orange stain on the bandage and a crack in the bone plate above his eye. “I’m fine, sir, just one of the outer plates, and the bleeding has already stopped.” “Good. Commander Vortith is currently overseeing the emergency repairs. Take his seat. You are going to help me find a way back home.” “Sir? I’m sorry I don’t understand. Why don’t we just go back the way we came?” “That’s not possible. Most of our supply ships and tenders were destroyed when that third wave of Dominion ships hit our flank. Almost all of our pre-prepared fuel reserves are gone. On top of that, some of our ships are so damaged that they don’t have another long jump in them. And if we run into any enemy ships, the whole rest of the fleet is done for. We barely qualify as a fighting force in the state we’re in.” “Is it really that bad?” “It’s worse, but we don’t have time to get into the details. You’re the expert on this section of the galaxy. I need you to find the fleet a hiding hole. Somewhere away from the known jump routes through the Spur. Any system where we can use the few miners we have left to scavenge up some fuel, and get some critical repairs done while we’re at it. And from there either wait for reinforcements or get ourselves patched up enough to limp home. Wherever it is, it needs to be close. I’m not leaving any ships behind because they can’t make the jump.” “Oh. Just that?” The lieutenant knew that Arien’Ra were strict herbivores, but with the look that the Admiral shot him, he couldn’t help but think about the fact that his head would easily fit into that giant, molar filled mouth. “And away from any known pirate hideaways. Like I said, our fleet can’t take any more fighting. And find it quickly. It won’t be long before the Dominion fleet locates us.” “I. Uh. Sure. I’ll see what I can find.” Berendarin shrank into the commander’s chair next to the enormous Arien’Ra, desperately wishing he had been more professional. If he had acted like a proper soldier, it might soften the blow of telling the Admiral that what he wanted was next to impossible. If he had a few weeks, he might be able to find something. So much of the Spur was still un-surveyed. The odds of there being anything useful to the Admiral in the databases was absurdly low, and there was even less of a chance he’d be able to find it in time for the information to matter. He began pouring through his notes anyway. It was better than waiting around to die, which, if the situation was as dire as the Admiral made it sound, was the only other option. He spent the next hour lost in his notes, finding nothing, while the bridge crew went about piecing the ship and the fleet back together. The young scientist had all but given up on the Admiral’s impossible request when a raucous cheer went up from everyone on the command deck. “Sir,” The coms officer called out, “The Consul’s Pride just dropped out of subspace and is hailing us, sir. The main communication screen lit up, and Berendarin Lentith looked to see the face of his oldest sister on screen, strapped into the captain’s chair of her dreadnaught. He let out a sigh of relief; Baraquen was his favorite sibling. Her uniform was drenched in a deep orange blood stain at the shoulder, and she was covered in what looked like flecks of green gore from a Xelnassi. The artificial gravity was clearly malfunctioning, as the captain’s restraining harness was the only thing keeping her from floating around her bridge. But the bone plates of her jaw were turned as always into her calm, self assured smile “My apologies for the delay in joining you, Admiral Va. We had some… guests shut down our drive mid jump. We had to deal with them before we rejoined the fleet. I assume there is a plan to get us back to federation space?” “It’s good to see you in one piece, Captain Lentith,” the Admiral responded. He was barely able to keep the relief from his voice. “And there is indeed a plan.” Berendarin returned to his research as the two ranking officers in the fleet went over the details of their current predicament. He was glad his sister had survived, and not just because they were close. It would have been a terrible blow to the whole family to have lost not only their future matriarch, but the ship she commanded as well. A member of his family had been commanding that dreadnaught uninterrupted for the last 5 generations. Military service had never appealed to Berendarin, but his family history was certainly still important. And then the solution to the current problem hit him like a driver round. He let out a gasp and tore into his notes with a fervor. Both Admiral Va and his sister’s projection turned to look at him, but he didn’t notice. After a few seconds of curious silence from the rest of the onlookers, Berendarin practically jumped out of his seat. “Admiral, I think I’ve got something that will work.” The young Lieutenant punched a few commands into his datapad, and a set of stellar coordinates popped up on the navigation terminal. “It’s a main sequence star, about 500 light years from us, fairly close to the edge of the Spur. It’s not anywhere near any established jump routes. The Consul’s Pride made me think of it.” He nodded towards his sister’s face on the ship's screen. “Our great, great grandsire took the Consul’s Pride through the system on her shakedown run a little over 300 cycles ago. Chased a band of Qorthi slavers out of the system. The outer four planets are all gas giants. If we can’t find Helium 3 there, I don’t know where else we should look.” On screen, Captain Lentith looked impressed, but Admiral Va clearly didn’t seem too sure. “We’re supposed to be going away from Dominion forces, not into them. What were the Qorthi doing there?” “There are also four rocky inner worlds in the system, Sir, according to reports from the encounter. Apparently, the third planet is a Class 7 Deathworld, and the Qorthi were running some experiments on the primitive lifeforms there. They were caught completely by surprise by the Consul’s Pride, and it was the first time that she fired her weapons in anger. I can’t find any reports of Dominion ships in that section of the Spur since.” There was a long pause before Va responded. “Good work, Lieutenant. I knew my trust in you wasn’t misplaced.” Admiral Va replied, before turning to the rest of the bridge and booming “Coms! Tactical! Get those coordinates to every ship in the fleet. I want every ship we have left formed up and ready to jump as soon as possible. Any captain who feels that his drives can’t make the jump is to focus all repair efforts on getting their drives functioning immediately. I will transfer repair crews from less damaged ships to more damaged ships if that means we jump even a tick earlier. Get to it everyone. I’m not losing any more of my fleet today.” The four revolution long jump to Science Officer Lentith’s newfound sanctuary had done wonders for Halon Va’s mental state. The initial shock of his fleet's terrible defeat had worn off, and he had been able to focus on what came next. Repair crews were able to stabilize most of his ship's core systems, and he was no longer worried about the life support systems cutting out and killing the rest of his crew. There had also been time for him to visit with the wounded. To thank them for their sacrifices. He had expected it to be an act of contrition, maybe even a chance to start begging for forgiveness. But there had been no anger in his crew, and no blame hung on his horns. Most had just been relieved that he had survived, and had expressed as much. He would be forever grateful to them for that. Most importantly, the four revolutions in hyperspace had given the admiral time to really think about what had gone wrong in the nebula. He had barely rested in the preceding four revolutions, spending every scrap of spare time in his office, pouring over records from the battle. That’s where he found himself now, tucked behind his massive ceramic and titanium alloy desk of Tellarim design. It had been custom made for him upon his promotion to this command, a gift from the high admirals and the council. It was the only luxury that Va allowed in his office. The rest of Va’s space he kept strictly utilitarian. There were no trophies adorning his walls, as was customary for other members of his species. The plain bulkheads of his office were instead lined entirely with screens, and each of them were now filled with footage and reports from the battle, running on loop. Va soaked it all in. The more he watched, the more a singular conclusion crystallized in his mind. He had done everything right; he was sure of that now. 1000 years of doctrine and theory for fighting the Dominion had gone into his preparation for that battle, and he had followed it to the letter. And he had been winning. Then that attack on his flank by the Zelnassi had blown all of that out of the airlock. Something significant had changed in the way the Dominion fought... Commander Vortith’s voice rang out over the com system. ”Admiral Va, we’ll be transitioning back to real space in moments.” “Thank you. I’ll be there shortly. And get Science Officer Lentith to the bridge. I want him nearby just in case. He’s the only one who has any idea of where we are.” The Admiral pulled himself from his desk. He would have to leave the rest of his analysis for later. There was just enough time for him to reach the bridge and settle into his command chair before the Horns of Glory snapped back to real space. This time, the inertial dampeners held. “Tactical, status report.” “All ships accounted for, Admiral. Though the Consul’s Pride, several cruisers, and three of our escorts are all reporting massive failures in their Drive Cores. They won’t be jumping anywhere anytime soon.” “Wonderful.” Va wasn’t sure if he meant that sarcastically or not. “Get scans up and running and deploy the pickets that aren’t crippled in a standard scouting formation. How close are we to the nearest gas giant?” “We’re approximately half a light tick from the system’s innermost gas giant, sir.” “Excellent. Deploy the rest of the fleet. Put us in a high orbit around the planet in a defensive formation, and get our miners working immediately. Once our orbit is stable, I want every hand, paw and hoof in the fleet working on repairs.” “Yes sir.” Admiral Va settled into his command chair for a long shift. It would be a drawn out, boring process to refuel the ships. With his fleet limping along, and only two functioning miners, it would take far longer than it should. After all the chaos of the last few revolutions, boring would be a welcome change of pace. Va started to relax, sinking into his chair’s acceleration padding. His fleet and his crews were finally safe. The first priority would be to get one of the subspace beacons repaired and to get word back to the Federation that the fleet still existed. And hopefully call for aid. He was sure to be stripped of his rank as soon as contact was made, but hopefully he would avoid a Tribunal. That was an unpleasant prospect… “Sir, we have unidentified ship signatures appearing from around the planet we’re approaching.” Va had never heard panic in the voice of his young sensors officer before, but it was certainly there now. Va understood the sentiment, though. He found it difficult to keep the panic from his own voice as he started issuing orders “Bring the fleet up to combat status immediately. How many ships are there?” “I’m showing 35 individual signatures. All approaching us at combat speed and still accelerating. At current speeds, they will intercept us in just over 30 ticks, sir.” “I want details as soon as you have them, Lieutenant. Size, make, estimated firepower. Who they are. And keep scanning the system. Find out where they came from.” The panic had partially subsided for Va. 35 unknowns was not too terrible a threat. He still had almost 240 warships under his command. Still, if there was a way to avoid combat, he had to try. His fleet couldn’t suffer any more losses. “Coms, any attempt by these unknown ships to contact us?” “I”m not sure, sir,” the diminutive Jezren at the coms replied. “There’s nothing on standard communications channels. The ships are transmitting something, but I can’t figure out what it is.” “Admiral,” the Lieutenant at the sensors station called out. “I think I might have an idea of where these ships came from. Preliminary scans show there is extensive urbanization on the third and fourth planets, as well as what appear to be habitation sized artificial satellites around the second and sixth planets. One of the moons of the gas giant we’re approaching shows signs of habitation as well. All of them are emitting significant signal pollution. This system clearly already belongs to someone, and they’re broadcasting everywhere.” Halon Va, High Admiral of the Combined Federation Fleets, turned, slowly and with as much composure as he could muster, to face the young science officer seated to his left. Berendarin sat, mouth agape, staring transfixed at the sensor readouts in front of him. Va had never seen a Vorqual more confused in his life. “I want answers, Officer Lentith.” “I… I don’t.. This doesn’t make any sense,” the young science officer stammered. “There shouldn’t be anything here.” “Admiral,” The comms officer cut in, “The signal that we’re picking up from the unknown ships is definitely some kind of communication. I managed to put together audio from it.” “Play it,” commanded Va. A series of short, guttural, and completely unintelligible sounds came over the speakers in reply. There was a short pause before the sounds repeated themselves again. “Coms, what was that?” “No idea, sir, but it’s being transmitted on loop. If it is intended as a communication, our translators have no idea what to do with it.” “Admiral.” The voice came from Va’s left, and was barely audible. Va turned yet again to look at the young science officer. His gaze was locked on the tactical readout, and there something in his eyes that Va couldn’t recognize. A mixture of pure terror and something else. Was it wonder? The young Vorqual’s voice was still barely above a whisper when he continued to address the admiral: “I think we should run the transmission through First Contact Protocols.” Captain Benjamin Alvarez-León slammed against his restraining harness as the USCS Aurora started it’s decel burn. He had pushed the engines on the outdated cruiser to their limits, and the ship groaned in protest as it started counteracting his rather zealous acceleration orders. He hoped that his mad scramble with his small squadron of outdated ships had been an overreaction. The alternative was something he’d rather not think about. All Ben had was the reserves; the rest of the fleet was on maneuvers at Sirius. The Admiralty had wanted to test the new, fully modernized fleet’s maneuvering abilities in the gravwell of a binary system. And, in their infinite wisdom, they decided they needed ALL of the new fleet assets, leaving nothing in Sol except for the handful of cruisers and escorts that couldn’t match the capabilities of the modern ships. A handful of cruisers and escorts that were now hurtling towards more than 200 unknown contacts. It was the unknown part of all of this that was unnerving Ben. There were no familiar energy signatures. No familiar scan data. No IFF. No signals coming off the contacts of any kind for that matter. Two of the contacts were too big to even be ships. If it wasn’t for the fact that they were moving towards Jupiter in formation, Ben wouldn’t even think they WERE ships. “So what do you think, Alexi?” Ben asked, turning towards his second in command. “You and the rest of the bridge crew are always making inane bets. Have you whipped up an over-under for what we’re throwing ourselves at yet?” “Haven’t had time,” came the quick reply from Ben’s right. The short, stocky man from Vladivostok was missing his trademark joviality. “Though, my money is on them being Ithacan, sir.” Ben bristled at Alexi calling him sir. They’d been friends for twenty years, damnit, and had been practically joined at the hip since going through the Academy together. Outranking him still felt a little off. Now was hardly the time to worry about formalities, though. “What makes you think they're from Ithaca?” “It’s the only thing that makes sense. The locals have been getting increasingly radical, and Ithaca is the only sector where reports of piracy have been increasing.” “Yeah, I could see a rebellion coming from Ithaca,” Ben added slowly, turning over that scenario in his head. “But there’s no way they could swing something of this magnitude. There aren’t even any shipyards in the sector. And even if there were, there’s no way they could keep the construction of over two hundred ships a secret.” Alexi could only offer him a shrug in response. It was at that moment that the coms station informed him there was a transmission incoming from the unidentified ships. Ben instructed the ensign to play it, and the bridge was suddenly filled with a stream of grotesque bleating noises and strange grunts, with the occasional recognizable syllable interspersed throughout the transmission. Ben thought he picked out ‘dentify’ from the mess, but he wasn’t sure. There was a long moment of silence on the bridge. “What the hell was that?” When no one had any answers for him, Ben tapped his command console and recorded a new message to broadcast. “This is Captain Alvarez of the USCS Aurora. Unidentified ships, please clarify. Your transmission is badly garbled. We did not receive your identification. You are still trespassing in Commonwealth space and are on an unauthorized course towards Jupiter. Begin decelerating immediately and re-identify yourselves.” He wouldn’t admit it to the crew, but Ben was profoundly unsettled. Something was deeply, deeply wrong about this whole situation. Not only was he vastly outnumbered by these things, but they were unwilling to communicate properly. He was almost believing this whole thing was some kind of bizarre prank. “How much longer before we can get a decent visual on these things? “Any moment now, sir.” A new transmission arrived just then, and Ben had it played back immediately. This time, instead of almost bovine bleats and grunts, the sounds coming over the speakers were mostly intelligible. Or, they would have been, if any of the syllables were in the right order. It was almost like a toddler was rattling off all of his new favorite sounds, spitting them out in a random order and not knowing how they went together. There were still a few heavy grunts sprinkled in, just for good measure. Before Ben could process this new joke of a transmission, the contacts finally started slowing. In a matter of moments, the strange wall of contacts was hanging lazily in Jupiter’s orbit, barely moving fast enough to keep their orbit from decaying. They were still in perfect formation. “Huh. Well, I guess that’s something.” With nothing to do but sit back and wait as his ship closed the distance, Ben tried to relax and began running over all of the possibilities in his mind of what the new contacts could be. He came up with nothing. Well, nothing feasible, anyway. He took a series of long, calming breaths, trying to clear his mind and focus. This was no time for his imagination to be running wild. But he couldn’t shake the feeling that logic was failing him. Something was off. Something… “Captain, bringing visual of the unknown contacts up on screen now.” Ben actually felt his jaw drop. Every contact on his display was clearly a ship. Most were long and spindly, wrapped in layers of some kind of highly reflective armor; a fleet of crystalline arrows hanging in the darkness. The two largest contacts, which Ben had just moments ago thought were too big to be ships, were large enough on the screen for him to clearly see details. In addition to their immense size and strange armor, both ships were dotted with what were clearly weapons platforms, though what kind, Ben couldn’t tell. Noticeably, almost all of the ships on his screen were heavily damaged. Chunks were missing from some ships, and most had deep lines gouged into their hulls. Any form of decorative paint or markings had been burned away. Something had put these ships through absolute hell. But still, the damage could not take away entirely from the elegance of the ship’s designs. They were graceful and sleek, completely different from anything Ben had ever seen before. It was all so different. So strange. So very, very… Alien. Despite every effort he had made to avoid the word, it finally forced itself to form inside Ben’s mind, and forced him to acknowledge the reality that legitimate, extra-Solar life was hanging in the darkness in front of him. It forced him to acknowledge the screams he had been suppressing in the back of his mind. The screams of his imagination crying out in glorious triumph over reality. And with those screams came a deluge of accompanying thoughts and emotions. He was a child again, staring up at the stars above Armstrong and wondering what else, and who else, was out there. He was a teen again, signing his name to the Academy enrollment paperwork, determined to get out there between the stars and see the galaxy himself. He was a young officer again, screaming and pleading with the Admiralty to at least consider a modern First Contact scenario. He was sitting in his command chair now, hurtling towards honest-to-god aliens, all of his dreams made manifest in an instant. He was overwhelmed. He was terrified. And he had never imagined that he could feel such elation. It was the young warrant officer at the coms that snapped Ben out of his reverie. “Sir, the contacts are hailing us on all standard channels, requesting a video feed.” She sounded very, very nervous. Ben immediately stood up, straightening his uniform as best he could. “If they’re anything less than genocidal monsters, I’m going to offer them aid and repairs. As long as they’re peaceful, there’s no reason not to extend them the full hospitality of humanity.” “Ben,” Alexi asked, clearly choosing his words carefully, “Are you sure that’s the… Wisest course of action? How will the Admiralty respond to Goddamned alien ships docking at Hephaestus?” “Alexi, in the 250 years the Commonwealth has existed, the First Contact protocols haven’t been updated since the charter was signed. No one has cared. This has been nothing but a fantasy for most people. I am NOT letting this opportunity get away. Every child that has ever looked up at the stars and wondered finally got an answer, and I will not waste this moment. We’re making friends, the Admiralty and the government be damned.” “You do realize you’re potentially deciding the fate of our entire species on a whim, right?” “Is there someone else you’d prefer to have making this call?” Alexi, apparently deciding that there was not, stood up and straightened his uniform, standing next to his friend as he ordered the connection of the video feed. The channel connected, and the human bridge crew found themselves looking at the bridge of a ship crewed by not one, but three alien races. The largest alien in the center of the screen opened its mouth to speak. This time, instead of bleats and grunts, a choppy, mechanical voice that didn’t sync up to the alien at all proclaimed from the bridge speakers in broken, stuttering English: “I. Am Admiral. Halon. Va. Of the Federation of. Sentient Races. Greetings and. Welcome. To the. Galaxy.” Ben couldn’t suppress his smile. “On behalf of the United Solar Commonwealth, and all of Humanity, greetings, and welcome to Sol. Your ships look like they’ve had a bad time on your way here. If there’s any way we could aid with your repairs, we’d be happy to help.” Slave 782 slammed his right appendage onto the control console hard enough to rupture his outer membrane and smear ichor over the panel. It had been four days since the battle in the nebula, and with the latest round of reports, he finally had to admit that the rest of the Federation fleet had escaped him. It was a minor frustration, all things considered, but the escape prevented this from being a total victory. Still, he had proven his worth to his owners in this battle, and his experiments with the Zelnassi had paid dividends beyond his wildest imagination. He had earned a command today, and with every success in that command, his ability to bargain for his people's freedom only increased. For what he would be asking, it might take the total defeat of the Federation to earn that kind of leverage. Also frustrating, but not a task that he couldn’t handle. It would be a long war, he was sure, but like his owners, he was patient. He would earn his freedom, even if it meant reducing the entire Federation to glass. NEXT
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