What's something that's troubling you?

2022.01.28 00:03 platesrnice What's something that's troubling you?

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2022.01.28 00:03 KnucklestheEnchilada Goodnighthausen with Danhausen : Two Minutes to Late Night host Gwarsenio Hall

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2022.01.28 00:03 thelazytester Application Developer seeking help / road map to learn Openshift container platform

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2022.01.28 00:03 elenasanity2974 Selling skates, December heels, and December corset

IA for skates: 35k
IA for dcd heels: 36k-40k
IA for december corset: 14k-16k
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2022.01.28 00:03 Leeroyedtothemax New Skyrim patch still doesn't fix main menu stutter bug...

Who playtested these patches??
The problem seems to be people without the Anniversary edition upgrade, the menu stutters so bad its hard to continue a game and even harder to use mod menu's
Its mindblowing how long its been broken for
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2022.01.28 00:03 serabibiwills Hi ❤️

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2022.01.28 00:03 Zarivan95 I re-shelled my GBA SP. Very pleased with the result. :)

I re-shelled my GBA SP. Very pleased with the result. :) submitted by Zarivan95 to Gameboy [link] [comments]

2022.01.28 00:03 tropnevaDniveK Just getting started, got this gem in the mail today…

Just getting started, got this gem in the mail today… submitted by tropnevaDniveK to vinyl [link] [comments]

2022.01.28 00:03 IsaiahBlocks Have to scratch that

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2022.01.28 00:03 Pointless_Box AST Star Explosion Causes AoE Indicator on p3s to start flickering?

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2022.01.28 00:03 x-Taylor-x Ekko is taking too long to join the game

i know that ekko has lower base damage because muh ekko tank being a thing, but this is being tiresome for me, i used to play ekko one year ago when i used to play league, i'm back now and trying to adapt to the boy again but man, i'm losing games before 3 items because i can't do anything, i played against MF mid with barrier that well was unkillable but i did well not dying and farming and trying to scale, i was like 2/2 reaching my power spike and when i realized the game was a full stomp already with a 5/0 gween and a feed zeri.

Any advice or should i just stop playing ekko?
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2022.01.28 00:03 Consistent_Produce_1 I understand what they had to go though now

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2022.01.28 00:03 Underthe_sea93 Please help save my best friend

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2022.01.28 00:03 ottermatopoeia Japanese Pop Queen Hikaru Utada is a Bellini Bon Voyage stan, I COULD believe it

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2022.01.28 00:03 Next-Flatworm-5938 Need signature help. Who free rn?

Vesta want signature
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2022.01.28 00:03 AutoNewspaperAdmin [Business] - US stocks: S&P 500 ends lower after another wild ride | Times of India

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2022.01.28 00:03 2cool4juuls What the normal work load for an audit intern?

Like a whole work paper? A section of a work paper? A couple procedures?
My senior told me I’m just gonna do an entire section of the binder. Should I be nervous or do they actually trust me?
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2022.01.28 00:03 Glove_Overall A few remaining All-Star questions and notes

I knew this Wiggins bullshit was not just smoke. This is exactly why selecting by conference and position is a joke. Guys like Draymond and PG get hurt and then you get ridiculous outcomes like Andrew Wiggins, All-Star starter. Anyway...
I always find the weighted score, combining the fan, press, and player votes to be interesting. Assuming Dray, PG, KD, Bam, Klay (lol), Dame (lol), Kyrie (lol), and DRose (lol) are all injured/don't qualify, the weighted score All-Star reserves would be Tatum, Jarrett, Butler, LaVine, and Harden for the East, and Gobert, KAT, AD, Doncic, and Booker for the West. LaMelo and VanVleet would be the East wildcards, while Mitchell and CP would represent the final two slots in the West.
Do we think that the eventual coach-selected reserves will be closest to what the player vote would have selected? That makes sense to me at least. Those would be Miles, Jarrett, Tatum, LaVine, and Harden in the East, and Gobert, Ayton (lol), Towns, Booker, and Doncic in the West. Garland and Melo would be the East wildcards, as CP and Dejounte would be for the West.
KD being out means that we also have to choose a replacement from the reserves to take his spot and another reserve. For the weighted score, Bridges is next in line on the forward line, Garland is next on the guard reserves. Both are fun stories that would not likely not have made it in a more normal season. Garland would probably be my choice since he's more responsible for the offense and his team is much better. For the player scores, VanVleet and Butler represent their candidates, both of whom should be sure-fire reserves.
Bridges would've been the players choice to replace KD in the starting frontcourt, garnering the 4th most frontcourt votes in the East, while Tatum would be the weighted score's choice.
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2022.01.28 00:03 AutoNewspaperAdmin [IN] - PM Modi to address NCC Rally at Cariappa Ground today | Times of India

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2022.01.28 00:03 MicroSofty88 A guy that goes by the name Ian Davis made his own homemade robotic hand

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2022.01.28 00:03 Snekguy Pinwheel | Chapter 3

First Chapter
Previous Chapter
He walked behind the table relative to us, and we watched in awe as he field-stripped the rifle. Every component was detachable, from the stock to the barrel. He popped a large mass out of the stock that looked like it might be a battery, and then with a few clicks, he had removed the latter entirely. Next was the long barrel, sliding out of its attachment point, followed by the forward grip and the reflex sight. After only a few seconds, the naked frame that made up the base of the rifle was sitting on the table, surrounded by components.
“This is the frame,” Vasiliev explained as he lifted the considerably lighter weapon. It was little more than a mostly hollow, receiver-shaped piece of polymer now. “It comes in three sizes – small, medium, and large. This is a medium. It’s a suitable size for the average human and serves as a good basis for anything from a bullpup assault rifle to a DMR. The smaller frames are used as a base for building submachine guns and personal defense weapons. The Krell and Borealans will probably find the large frame more comfortable,” he continued, gesturing to the far wall where there were many of the weapons sitting in racks. “Everything is standardized. That means that if a Marine runs out of ammo in the field and his only companion is a Krell, they can use the same magazines. They can even make use of the same replacement parts.”
He lifted a lump of polymer and metal in his hand, about the size of a soda can, showing it to us.
“This is the receiver. It slots into the top of the frame. See how the rail is hinged? Just pop it up and hit the ejector. There are two varieties, and you will be expected to have both of them on your person at all times, right there in your rig with your extra magazines. You will learn to switch these out in a pinch. Doesn’t matter if you’re in the dark, upside down, or being shot at. By the end of this training, switching receivers will be as second nature to you as swapping out an empty mag.”
I watched as he assembled the rifle with the same speed and finesse, then he slammed a magazine into the weapon and marched over to the range. He shouldered the rifle, firing it with a loud crack. The paper target downrange fluttered as something passed through it at high speed, the projectile slamming into the ballistic gel on the far wall.
“The first configuration is a miniaturized railgun that accelerates a tungsten slug using electromagnets. It requires a battery pack to power the magnets, and a magazine to feed it ammo.”
He popped open the hinged rail on the top of the rifle, ejecting the receiver and replacing it with one that was contained within a blue housing, snapping it shut again. He ejected the magazine and stowed it in a pouch on his belt, then withdrew what looked like a magazine with a tumorous growth. It was the same size and shape as the mag had been, but it was colored yellow rather than black, and on one end was a large canister sporting the same blue housing as the second receiver. He slotted it into the magazine well with the cylindrical canister protruding.
He shouldered the weapon again, and this time, there was an electrical whir as a bolt of blue-green energy shot from the barrel. It flew down the range, disintegrating the paper target and leaving a dark smear in the ballistic gel. I wrinkled my nose as the smell of ozone drifted over to us.
“By swapping the receiver and loading the XMR with a plasma containment canister, it can be converted into a plasma rifle. Using the same battery and the same electromagnets, it fires magnetically-contained, super-heated gas at the enemy. This is especially useful for taking out Bug shields,” he explained. “The stopping power and versatility of this platform is unparalleled by conventional weapons, but there is one caveat, and that’s overheating. The coils on the barrel will start to glow red after sustained fire, so pace yourselves, or bring an extra barrel if you’re expecting to be firing in full auto. Whatever you do, don’t touch the coils without protection until you’re sure that they’ve cooled.”
We followed him as he made his way toward the back of the range, where there were more shelves stocked with all manner of attachments, along with wooden crates that likely contained more of the same.
“Your assignment today is to build a weapon that’s suited to your personal needs and physiology. Those needs may change dramatically depending on your mission when the time comes to actually field these weapons, but today, we’re just going to get to grips with the weapon system.” He gestured to the shelves and crates. “You have everything that you need right here. Flash hiders, scopes, barrels of varying lengths, laser sights, grips, battery packs, magazines, stocks in numerous shapes and designs. All of the components that you’ll need to build a weapon that is ergonomic and comfortable for you to fire. Krell might want larger drum magazines and heavier barrels, while humans might prefer a lighter configuration with a forward grip and a red dot sight for faster target acquisition. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Remember, you cannot make the weapon better or worse, only more or less suited to your needs.”
XMR Concept Art
He dismissed us, and everyone fanned out, eager to get started on their designs. The humans rushed off to pick a frame from the rack, sifting through the different attachments, while the Krell lumbered away to find some larger frames. I was excited to see what they would come up with, giant sniper rifles maybe, or perhaps light machine guns. I was thinking of something a little more conservative, similar to the caseless assault rifles that I had trained with back in boot camp. We hadn’t had any railguns, but the same principles probably applied. Controlled bursts with low recoil would be the way to go.
I noticed that the Borealans were huddled off to one side, muttering to each other. Raz left the group, marching over to Vasiliev, and I rolled my eyes as I recognized the expression on her face. What grievance could they possibly have this time?
“With all due respect, Staff Sergeant,” she began. “We have brought our own weapons from Borealis, the finest that Elysian gunsmiths could provide. My father, the Patriarch, personally commissioned our-”
Vasiliev cut her off with a wave of his hand.
“You have your orders, Raz. You are to familiarize yourselves with Coalition weapons platforms.”
“But, Staff Sergeant, I-”
“Tell me, Raz, how is the UNN supposed to provide you with ammunition and replacement parts for weapons that we don’t manufacture? Unless your weapons can chamber standard UNN tungsten slugs, those guns are not to leave your shuttle. Is that understood?”
Raz looked angry, but she nodded and returned to her pack.
After a few hours of trial and error, everyone seemed to have figured out how they wanted their XMR set up. Vasiliev walked up and down the range as he watched the recruits fire their weapons, the loud cracks of railguns and the electrical buzz of plasma ringing out.
“Every time that you empty a mag or a canister, I want to see you swap out the receiver,” he yelled over the din. “Make a habit of it, starting right now.”
I was having a lot of fun. The XMR was not too different from the weapons that I had trained with on Earth. It certainly seemed to be an evolution of those designs rather than something completely alien, even if it used a dramatically different means of firing. It couldn’t really be called a rifle, as there was no rifling in the barrel, and it had more in common with coilguns than railguns in terms of its outward appearance. When I asked about it, Vasiliev had told me that the internal mechanism worked by using a rail system to launch a slug out of the receiver before it was captured and accelerated by the magnetic fields in the barrel. Theoretically, the weapon could be fired without a barrel at all, but the length and number of coils determined the velocity. Even so, it was a whole mess of fun to shoot.
I had tweaked mine for low recoil, and I was already enamored with my weapon, stopping just short of giving it a name. I had gone for a medium-length barrel with enough copper coils to ensure a good amount of stopping power, along with a two-times magnification sight, ergonomic grips, and a nice padded stock to help control the kick. I fired it in burst mode, hitting the paper targets dead-center with excellent grouping.
The Krell who occupied the booth beside me seemed to be enjoying himself too. His large frame was equipped with a drum magazine that must be able to hold a good two hundred slugs, his grip sticking out horizontally from its mounting point on the barrel. He had a heavy gun shield and a wicked bayonet, cutting the targets to shreds with bursts of fire that made the coils on his barrel glow red-hot. I couldn’t tell if he was grinning, or if that was just the way his teeth looked.
The Borealans were not doing so well. The modular design of the guns seemed to overwhelm them, and their shots were landing wide of their targets. Based on their complaints, which were conveniently voiced in English so that their displeasure could be heard by everyone, I had surmised that Borealan rifles were somewhat similar to those used by humans in the latter years of the nineteenth century. Some kind of large-bore, breech-loading rifles with a massive kick, positively archaic by modern standards. They had overspecialized, failing to train with anything other than their traditional weapons, putting them at a disadvantage as a result.
Raz complained especially loudly, voicing her disapproval and making sure that Vasiliev could hear her. The rifle that she had built was an abomination. She had used a heavy barrel that was packed with coils, but with no counterbalance, it only served to throw off her aim. It might have been more manageable if she had intended to use it with a bipod, but instead, she was using a folding grip that was entirely unsuited to the task. The magnification on her scope was far too high for this range, and her choice of stock was all wrong.
I watched as she braced it against her shoulder, closing one eye as she aimed carefully, then fired. She absorbed the kick well enough, but her aim was way off, the slug piercing the paper a good few inches from where she had intended. She lowered the weapon, baring her teeth as she hissed angrily.
I might have given her some pointers, had she not made my life hell for the last few days. Instead, I enjoyed watching her flounder, struggling to suppress my smile. I felt a hand on my shoulder suddenly, looking back to see Vasiliev standing behind me.
“Excellent shooting, trainee. You’ve taken to the XMR platform like a duck to water. This is exactly what I had hoped to see. Raz!” he called, turning toward the alien. She swiveled her head in our direction, scowling at us. “Why don’t you take some pointers from Stanley here?”
I grinned at her, and she glowered back at me. Boy, if looks could kill…
We stayed at the range for most of the day, drilling with the XMRs until we had mastered the basics of their operation and design. The Borealans had to remain behind while the rest of us were dismissed, as they needed special tutoring on how to operate the guns. The humans and Krell, on the other hand, were now proficient with the rifles. Each one of us had managed to build his own personalized weapon, and we chatted about the finer points of our designs as we made our way along the torus.
We headed straight to the recreation building, intending to celebrate with some games and drinks. I had been enjoying a game of pool with one of the Krell when the main door of the building slid open, the pack of surly Borealans filing in one after the other. Their ears were flat, and their tails were drooping, their eyes darting about suspiciously. They looked embarrassed and angry, just like Raz had the previous night when I had suggested that she was only participating in the program because of her father’s connections.
I caught her eye, and she made a beeline for me, stalking across the room with murderous intent. I gripped my pool cue in my hands, fearing that I might need to use it as a weapon.
“So, you think it’s funny, do you?” she demanded as she glared down at me.
“Do I think what is funny?” I replied.
“Your stupid, plastic toy guns, that’s what. You’ve used them before, haven’t you? You think you can show me up? Did you put Vasiliev up to it?”
She advanced on me, and I drew back, skirting around to the other side of the pool table so that she couldn’t get into clawing range. She was royally pissed off this time.
“I didn’t do anything,” I protested. “And I’ve never picked up an XMR before today. Don’t blame me for your failure to adapt.”
She bared her teeth in a snarl, scattering the billiard balls with a vicious swipe of her furry hand. The entire room had gone quiet now, watching our argument, unsure of whether they should intervene.
“If that idiot had let me use my own rifle, I would have made you look like a blind kitten,” she continued. “It makes no sense that we aren’t allowed to use the weapons that we brought with us. Instead, they’re making us use those stupid, plastic pieces of crap. They’re not made for Borealans, they’re made by humans.”
Her packmates nodded their heads in approval as if that explained their shortcomings.
“The Krell had no problems using them,” I shot back. “It’s only you that has a problem.”
She glared at me, then at the Krell who was standing beside me, then she looked back at her pack for support. She soon realized that the whole room was staring her down. She looked lost, unsure of herself. I had never seen her like this before. She was always so confident, so brash. But now, that persona was starting to come apart at the seams.
She marched around the table, and this time I stood my ground, craning my neck to meet her gaze as she stood before me. I refused to be intimidated any longer, and the room was clearly on my side.
“You made a fool out of me, tree climber,” she whispered menacingly. “I won’t soon forget it.”
“Maybe now you’ll respect human fighting prowess,” I replied.
Raz snapped, raising a clawed hand to strike me. Before I even had time to flinch, the Krell who I had been playing pool with let loose a blood-curdling roar. He sprang into action, far faster and more agile than anyone would have anticipated, moving his giant body like a freight train made of scales and muscle. He crashed into Raz, throwing her to the ground with a tremendous body-slam. She went down hard, not expecting such a reaction from the usually docile and sluggish reptiles.
Her pack rushed to back her up, but a group of humans and Krell moved to block their path, shaking their heads ominously. The Borealans, now outnumbered, bunched up and held their ground.
Raz picked herself up, unhurt, but shaken. She began to back off, smart enough to know when she had been beaten, the Borealans slowly filing out of the room in a defensive posture.
As soon as the automatic door closed behind them, the deathly silence was broken, the recreation center erupting into laughter and jeering. I gave the Krell who had steamrolled Raz in my defense an affectionate pat on his leathery thigh.
“Thanks, buddy. She might have taken my head clean off. Come on, I’ll teach you to cheat at Blackjack.”
He bobbed his long snout and emitted a satisfied huff.
When the sunlamps dimmed to simulate night, we walked back to the barracks, arriving just in time to see the dejected Borealans leaving the mess hall. We ate and chatted for a while, then went our separate ways, heading to our respective dorms to get some sleep.
I had to admit, I felt pretty good about myself. I had excelled at the range, I had stood up to Raz, and she had slipped up in front of the whole platoon. Now they would all be on guard for her antisocial behavior. The far more physically intimidating Krell were now firmly sided with the humans, which meant that the Borealans wouldn’t be pushing anyone around again.
As I approached my room, I noticed that Raz was leaning against the door, her arms crossed as she stared vacantly at the floor. She must have been waiting there for a while, which did not bode well. Everyone else had already retired to their dorms, leaving the two of us alone in the empty hallway. My heart began to race as I approached her. What would she do now?
Her ears twitched, and she looked up when she noticed me. To my surprise, she smiled.
“I’m sorry about what happened earlier, Stanley,” she began. “Let’s wipe the slate clean, start fresh. What do you say?”
She extended a clawed hand, and I took it gingerly, shaking it. Her fur was much softer and silkier than I had assumed, the fine hairs reminding me of velvet. Her fingers were almost as thick as my wrist, each one tipped with a shining talon.
Raz had called me by my real name rather than monkey or tree climber. Had she finally come around? Had my defiance in the recreation center earned her respect? I couldn’t be sure, but she wasn’t trying to eat me, so that was a good start.
“Listen, Raz,” I began apologetically. “I never intended for things to go this far, I never meant to embarrass you in front of everyone. I should have helped you when I saw that you were having trouble with your XMR. Maybe you wouldn’t have accepted my help, but it was wrong of me to leave you high and dry like that. We’re going to be living together for a while, we might be fighting together one day, you know? We have to trust each other. I really want to be friends with you.”
Her fluffy tail twitched, and her smile faltered for a second. She exhaled deeply, then placed a hand on my shoulder, opening the door to our dorm and steering me inside.
“Okay, Stanley, let’s be friends,” she said as she closed the door behind us with a click.
“I really appreciate you coming around, Raz,” I said. “To be honest, I was kind of anxious when I saw that you-hey, what are you doing?”
She moved across the room, shoving me aside roughly and dragging my bed in front of the door. Her biceps bulged as she heaved the heavy, metal frame with an ease that left me dumbstruck, the legs screeching on the deck. She used it to block the exit, trapping us both inside.
I began to tremble, realizing that it had all been a ploy. She had just wanted to get me in here alone with her, unable to escape. What was she planning on doing to me? I inhaled, intending to shout for help, but she closed the gap between us in the blink of an eye. She covered my mouth with her furry palm, her black claws pricking my cheeks, leaning down close to look me in the eye. I watched as her feline pupils dilated into large, dark circles.
“I need you to understand something, Stanley,” she said. Her voice was low and husky, perfectly level, which was somehow more intimidating than seeing her in a rage. “In my culture, social standing is very important. As the daughter of the Patriarch and the Alpha of my pack, my social standing is more important than you can fathom. I work very hard to maintain that standing, to defend my position. I am the best Borealan warrior here. I am the biggest, the fittest, the strongest. I am the highest born, the pack leader. Are you following?”
I nodded frantically, wide-eyed and frightened, her hand still covering my mouth. Her fur tickled my nose, a small trickle of blood escaping where one of her claws had broken the skin on my cheek.
“When you make me look like a fool, when you embarrass me in front of everyone, I lose face. You’ve made me into a pariah. I’ve lost the respect of the other Borealans. The whole platoon has turned against me. When word of this humiliation reaches my father, and it will, I may lose his favor.”
She was seething, barely controlling the rage that was building inside her, her lip twitching. I’d had no idea that her culture had such a rigid and unforgiving social system, and it went some way to explaining why Raz behaved in the outrageous way that she did. Perhaps, like with lions in a pride, standing could only be maintained through dominance games. If she wasn’t constantly the loudest, most obnoxious, most confrontational member of her pack, then someone else might usurp her.
“My father might even recall me to Borealis and halt my training,” she snarled. “And it’s all because of you. You and your stupid monkey culture, you and your inability to submit to your betters.” She looked crazed now. Her yellow eyes were wide, and her teeth were bared, her grip on my face tightening. She was lifting me, making me stand on my toes. “You took something away from me, and now I’m going to take something away from you.”
She released me, letting me fall to the floor in a heap. I nursed the small cuts on my cheeks, knowing better than to shout for help.
“Are you gonna hurt me?” I mumbled, peering up at her warily.
“Oh, Stanley,” she crooned. “I’m going to hurt you in ways that you’ll never forget.”
I crawled backward along the cold deck, knowing all too well that I couldn’t escape her. She had barred the only door with a bed that was likely too heavy for me to lift, and there were no windows. She advanced on me slowly, hunched over like a predator preparing to pounce. She flexed her hooked claws in anticipation, baring her sharp fangs menacingly, her dark pupils fixed on my face. The back of my head banged against the wall where my bed had once been. I was cornered. Raz loomed over me, her shadow casting me into darkness. Was she really going to take things this far? Did she have nothing left to lose now?
She crouched, reaching out a hand and closing it around my neck, gripping me tightly enough to choke me. I gagged, clawing at her forearm in a futile attempt to break loose, my fingers finding purchase in her fur. The alien lifted me clear off the floor with only one hand, with the same ease that a human might scruff a cat, then she spun around and launched me through the air. I landed on her bunk on the far side of the room, my shoulder hitting the wall as I bounced on the mattress, a grunt of pain escaping my lips.
Before I had a chance to get up, she strode across the room and struck me with the back of her hand, the blow dazing me and sending me reeling.
“Wait, Raz! Don’t!” I pleaded, tasting the copper flavor of blood on my tongue.
She wasn’t listening, she was too angry. It was as though she was in a trance, a fugue state, my words failing to reach her. She closed her thick fingers around my throat again, pinning me to the bed with her left hand, bring the right to my chest. She brandished her claws, glinting as they caught the light, my eyes following them down to my shirt. She used the hooked talon on her index finger to slice through the material like it was made of paper, leaving my torso exposed and vulnerable. She watched me squirm for a moment as I tried to break free, her eyes lingering on my writhing body. Was that hunger in her eyes?
For all my wriggling, I had no hope of breaking free. Raz was just too powerful, so much larger and stronger than any human could have hoped to be. I could take her with a gun, but unarmed, I was utterly helpless. My eyelids began to flutter, her iron grip on my throat cutting off my oxygen supply, the corners of my vision starting to narrow as I became lightheaded.
Slowly and deliberately, she dragged her sharp claws from my chest to my belly, the sting of it bringing me back to my senses. She didn’t intend to disembowel me, and she certainly could have. Raz only seemed to want me hurt and frightened. They dug into my skin, leaving burning trails and drawing crimson blood, white-hot pain searing through four fresh scars. I tried to cry out but only managed a muffled gag, her hand still firmly closed around my esophagus.
She brought a bloodied claw up to her mouth, touching it against her tongue and savoring the taste of my defeat.
“You taste so sweet,” she muttered, as much to herself as to me. “So soft and pale...cutting your flesh is like drawing in wet clay, Stanley.”
She finally released her hold on my neck, leaving it bruised and sore, probably intending to relish my pleas for mercy. My hand shot to my burning chest reflexively, and I drew back a trembling palm, seeing spots of red blood. The cuts were not as deep as I had assumed, superficial at best, but they would leave scars…
I looked up at her, and she watched me eagerly, expectant.
“Raz, don’t do this,” I choked over my sore throat. “I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. All I ever did was to try to be your friend!”
She climbed up onto the bed, the mattress sagging as she put her weight on it, mounting me and pinning my lower body between her thighs. I could feel the muscle that lurked beneath the cushion of yielding fat as she tensed, holding me tightly. They were so large that her knees almost reached my armpits. She let more of her weight rest on me, sinking me into the bed. With one hand, she gripped both of my wrists, holding my arms up above my head. The other wandered down to my face.
I tried to turn away, but she grabbed my chin and forced me to look her in the eye. My skin tingled as she ran her claws across my cheek, as light as the caress of a feather. Her gaze was almost affectionate now, the combination of violence and tenderness setting off all kinds of red flags.
“Where’s your human fighting prowess now that your friends aren’t here to protect you, Stanley?” she purred sweetly. “I could do whatever I wanted to you.” She ground her crotch against me, the unexpected sensation making me gasp in surprise. “I could fuck you, Stanley, would you like that? There are many ways to submit, many ways to show subservience to your Alpha.”
Raz leaned down close, her lips brushing my ear, her warm breath tickling my skin as she whispered to me in a low and husky voice.
“I could do things to you that would make you mewl like a kitten, I could take you in every way that you can imagine.”
I struggled ardently now, my fear turning into anger and desperation. If I was going to die here, then I wasn’t going to do it lying on my back, begging for mercy from a psychopath. I’d get in a few good hits, at least. I managed to slip one hand free of her grip, winding up a punch and hitting her in the face as hard as I could.
She caught my hand before it made contact, squeezing my fist in her silky palm, laughing at my pained expression.
“You just don’t know when to quit, do you, monkey? There wouldn’t be any sport in it otherwise...”
My panic suddenly turned to hope as a spark of inspiration crossed my mind.
“Raz, wait, wait. I can fix this!”
She cocked her head at me, her expression curious.
“Oh? And how do you propose to do that?” She appeared to be humoring me. This was my only chance to deescalate the situation before she did something even crazier.
“H-hear me out, hear me out! So, you lost your standing, right? Because you couldn’t hit your target at the range, and because I stood you down in the recreation center. And because that Krell knocked you down.”
Her brow furrowed, and she brought her claws up to my face again.
“Wait, wait!” I gasped as she brushed them against my cheek. “What if I could fix that? What if I could show you how to build the best XMR that the station has ever seen? What if I could teach you how to shoot it better than anyone else in the platoon? I studied harder than anyone back at the academy, I can teach you how to pass any exam or test. You’d be showing up every other Borealan here. Then they’d have to respect you again, right? I can show you how to gain the respect of the humans and the Krell, too!”
She leaned back a little, scratching her chin pensively with a curved claw as she weighed her options.
“If you aced the program and gained the admiration of the other species, then there’s no way that your father would send you home. You’d be his best example of what Borealis can offer the Coalition!”
Raz eyed me suspiciously, and I waited with bated breath, beads of cold sweat dripping down my face. After some consideration, she seemed to come to a decision, lifting off me. I breathed in a sigh of relief as her oppressive weight left me, rising along with the mattress as she stood by the side of the bed. I dared to sit up again, rubbing my bruised throat and my scarred chest.
“Alright, tree climber. I accept, but on one condition. You are mine, you belong to me. This isn’t a mutual arrangement, we aren’t friends. You’re my subordinate, and I want you to act like it. If you breathe a word about our little arrangement to anyone, if you tell so much as a soul that I accepted your help, then I’ll finish what I started tonight. Is that clear?”
I nodded hastily, watching as Raz strode over to my bed. She gripped the metal frame in her hands, her muscles bulging again as she dragged it back against the wall. When it had been returned to its proper place, she turned to me and gestured to it.
“Better get some sleep. If you’re going to make this right, then you’ll need to be well-rested.”
I scowled at her, making my way over to my bunk.
My sleep was a troubled one, visions of stalking tigers and ravenous monsters haunting my dreams. Raz had crossed the line, her playful teasing had become serious threats, and the fresh scars on my chest stung as a reminder. When I awoke, Raz was stretching, her lean body and graceful movements drawing my eye once again.
I felt a surge of guilty arousal as I watched her from the corner of my eye, pretending that I was still asleep. Had she been serious about fucking me? Would she have gone through with it if I hadn’t managed to weasel my way out of the situation? What would that have felt like?
I squirmed uncomfortably as I imagined her heavy, toned body moving atop mine, a sheen of sweat making her skin glisten as her sumptuous breasts bounced free of their support and her-
Damn it, I needed to keep my head on straight. This was exactly what she wanted. Although I would never admit it to Raz, she had been right. I had never had a girlfriend. My childhood and adolescence had been spent on a farm in a rural area, with no neighbors for miles around. I had joined the Navy as soon as I had come of age, and my life since had been focused on the single-minded goal of becoming a Marine, leaving little room for relationships. The alien seemed to be able to smell it on me like a bad cologne…
I banished such thoughts from my mind, sliding out of bed and starting to get dressed. I glanced down at my chest, examining the red trails that Raz had left in my skin, tracing them with my fingers. They had closed up already, but they still burned, and they’d definitely leave a prominent mark. It was as though she had wanted to carve her name into me, like she wanted me to think of her whenever I felt a twinge or saw my reflection in the mirror. The medics could remove them, but what story would I tell them? That I had fallen chest-first onto a garden rake?
Raz ignored me as I left the room and made my way to the mess hall, where I grabbed a tray and filled it with a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon. I joined my friends around their table, and they inquired as to why I looked so unrested. I simply told them that Raz and I had had a fight the night before, which wasn’t entirely untrue, and that we had come to an understanding. They seemed to accept that, changing the subject. Even when they had backup, nobody was especially eager to go toe to toe with the surly alien.
As I chewed on a strip of bacon, I saw Raz enter the mess. I tensed up, keeping one eye on her as she moved over to the glass counter, picking up a slab of nondescript meat and slapping it down wetly onto her tray. She glanced around the room for a moment, then locked onto me, stalking over to my table. She sidled up next to me and slammed her tray down, almost making my human neighbor jump out of his skin. He wolfed down one last fried egg, then made an excuse to leave, getting away from the alien as quickly as possible.
There was no hope of her sitting on the human-sized bench, so she sat down cross-legged on the floor beside me, putting her tall frame at about the appropriate height. She reached over and picked up what looked like a piece of raw steak in her claws, beginning to gnaw on it as the rest of the table’s occupants slowly slipped away.
“Raz?” I asked, shooting her a questioning look. “Why aren’t you sitting with the other Borealans?”
I glanced over at their preferred table, where the aliens were eating as a group. They hadn’t even acknowledged Raz’s presence. They seemed to be ignoring her. Not a solitary ear was pointed in our direction.
“I lost standing, remember? They won’t accept me.”
“So...why are you sitting next to me?”
She muttered something under her breath that I couldn’t quite hear, and I asked her to speak up.
“I don’t know anyone else,” she mumbled. “I don’t have any other friends.”
I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for her. As much of a nightmare as she was, she had completely failed to socialize outside of her pack. She had no friends at all now that the other Borealans were giving her the cold shoulder. She certainly didn’t deserve to have any friends, but she looked so miserable as she hunched over the table, taking a bite out of her meat and chewing it forlornly.
“That’s not what friendship is, you know,” I chided. She glanced over at me, red juice dripping from her chin.
“Why’s that?”
“Friendship isn’t when people are afraid of you. When they stop being afraid of you, then they stop associating with you altogether, right?” Raz didn’t respond, so I pressed on. “A friend is somebody who likes you for who you are, not because of what you can do for them, or because they’re scared of what you’ll do to them. Remember when that Krell defended me back in the recreation center?”
That got a reaction out of her, and she scowled, taking another bite out of her steak.
“Yeah, I remember,” she muttered.
“Well, he wasn’t doing that because he was afraid of me or because I had higher standing than him. He did it because I was kind to him, and he wanted to protect me.” I watched as she picked a piece of meat from between her teeth with one of her pointed claws, unsure of whether she was even paying attention. “If you want to start making friends among the other species, then you’re going to have to start being nicer to people. They aren’t Borealans, they won’t respond to intimidation or appeals to social standing, that will only make them angry. Hey, are you even listening to me?”
She stopped chewing for a moment and glanced over at me.
“Okay then. Well, like I said, try being nicer to people. Make way for them when they pass you in a corridor rather than expecting other people to move for you. Be polite, don’t insult people, don’t make fun of them. Maybe try to learn some human games so that you can break the ice and start socializing with people. Humans love playing, it’s practically all we do.”
“Borealans play games too,” she added.
“Alright, good! That’s somewhere to start, at least. I can teach you to play cards or pool. You only have to ask...”
She went back to her breakfast, occasionally glancing up at the other Borealans as she chewed. Was that expression resentment? Longing? It was hard to tell. I had underestimated how hard being excommunicated from her pack had hit her. She was sulking, despondent. I might feel the same way if I had suddenly found myself alone in an unfamiliar environment, with no support structure of any kind. Social bonds seemed to be central to Borealan life. Perhaps she was like a wolf without a pack now.
Again, I felt a pang of undeserved pity, but the stinging in my chest made me think twice.
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