The Secret Betting Strategy That Beats Online Bookmakers

I Read It So You Don't Have To: Little Kids, Big City (by Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen)

Inspired by the overwhelmingly positive response to my previous 'book report' on Ramona Singer's Life on the Ramona Coaster (seriously, thank you all -- truly supporting other women 🙏🙏), I decided to try my hand at writing up yet another of the embarrassing number of Housewives books in my personal collection: Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen's Little Kids, Big City: Tales from a Real House in New York City with Lessons on Life and Love for Your Own Concrete Jungle.
After reading just the title of this book, I'm already exhausted. It's pretentiously long and awkwardly phrased while somehow still managing to be entirely devoid of meaning. In other words, a perfect encapsulation of Simon and Alex. The summary on the back cover describes the pair as the "breakout stars" of RHONY, an assessment that I would charitably call 'debatable,' before going on to inform me that I can look forward to "informative and often hair-raising stories of life in the urban jungle," and that "Alex and Simon use their own hard-won experience as a springboard to discuss a host of parenting topics." I anticipate that this content will be quite useful to me, the guardian of four cats that I spoil endlessly and treat like my actual children.
One of the pull-quotes on the back cover allegedly comes from our very own Bethenny Frankel. I say 'allegedly' because I refuse to believe that the following passage would ever come out of Bethenny's mouth (or keyboard or whatever):
Alex and Simon don't take themselves too seriously, which seems to be essential to parenting. Their fresh 'he said, she said' perspective on parenting is both humorous and insightful!
Please, take a moment and do your very best to picture mention-it-all, betting-on-horse-races-at-age-five Bethenny unironically using the phrase "fresh 'he said, she said' perspective." To describe Simon van Kempen and Alex McCord. Right, didn't think so.
My experience reading Little Kids, Big City started on an unexpected high note when I opened the front cover to find that my copy (purchased used through Better World Books for the low, low price of $5.31 with shipping) had been signed by Ms. you-are-in-high-school-while-I-am-in-Brooklyn herself, Alex McCord! Truly a gift I do not deserve. Samantha and Debbie (whoever and wherever you may be), thank you for your service. I am forever in your debt.
Unfortunately, as would soon become painfully clear to me, after starting off on such a promising note, I would have nowhere to go but down.
The book, which is written in alternating passages from Alex and Simon, begins its introduction with a chronicle of Alex's "fashionably nomadic" early adulthood. Ever the proto-edgelord, she recalls, "I did all those things our mothers warned us about and had fun doing them." We switch to Simon's perspective to hear the deeply embarrassing story of the couple meeting through a dating app while Simon was on a business trip in New York City. No, there is absolutely nothing embarrassing about meeting someone on a dating app. But there absolutely is something embarrassing about using the profile name "Yetisrule" to meet someone on a dating app. To clarify, this was apparently Alex's username, and I remain hopeful that we will get a more thorough explanation of her connection to the elusive Yeti as this book continues.
Alex tells us that, while she and Simon hadn't initially planned to have children, they eventually started to have "clucky feelings." I have never heard this phrase in my entire twenty-five years of life, but based on context clues and also a Google search, I learned that it means they wanted to have a baby. Don't worry, though! As Alex tells us, "You can be eight months pregnant and wear a leather miniskirt." Personally, this is life-changing news -- I had always believed that I couldn't have kids unless I was willing to compromise my 90s goth aesthetic! Maybe I'll rethink this child-free thing after all.
The next bit of advice seems like it actually could potentially be sort of helpful. "No one is a good parent all the time -- nor is anyone a bad parent all the time," they reassure the reader. "You can become a parent without losing yourself." Unfortunately, as soon as I catch myself nodding along, the modicum of goodwill I'd built up is promptly trashed by a gag-worthy line from Simon: "If you take nothing away but a wry smile after reading our little tome, then we've done our job." I immediately vow not to smile until I'm finished reading this book. Excuse me, this little tome.
The book starts in earnest with Chapter 1: "Does a German Shepherd Need a Birth Plan?" To be perfectly honest, I was not expecting a riddle at this juncture, but I am nevertheless excited to hear Simon and Alex tell us "why childbirth is not an intellectual activity." First, however, we get a passing reference to "Park Slope, home of the ParkSlopeParents.com message board made famous in 2007 with a so-ridiculous-it-got-headlines discussion on gender-specific baby hats and where feminism can be taken to extremes." And despite the lame alarmist allusion to ~*XTREME feminism*~, this line did manage to lead me down an interesting Internet rabbit hole, so thanks for that, I guess?
Jesus Christ, I am on PAGE 4 and I am already so done with Simon. Presented without comment:
With the Park Slope OB-GYN, we had the first sonogram and saw the little blip on the screen -- our child-to-be. They say seeing is believing and as nothing was happening inside me, seeing confirmation on the video monitor that indeed my spermatozoa had penetrated and infiltrated one of Alex's ova made me aware that my days as a footloose and fancy-free guy might be coming to an end.
Y'all, I am currently working on my PhD in Molecular Biology. Which, if you were not previously aware, gives me the authority to decree that Simon is never allowed to use the word "spermatozoa" ever again. And so it is.
I was about to say that Alex's passages are at least more tolerable, but it appears I spoke too soon.
The stats they quoted referenced a 40 percent cesarean section rate in the city, and I wonder how that can be acceptable? Are we heading toward Brave New World, where babies are scientifically created in petri dishes and gestated in artificial wombs? Oh wait, we're already there. Are we heading towards a Wall-E existence, where we ride around in carts everywhere and do nothing for ourselves so that our bodies break down and we're all fat, oozy blobs drinking protein from a straw? Somebody slap me, please!!
Truly, Alex, it would be my pleasure.
As a Type-A person, just reading the story of Alex's first pregnancy and delivery gave me anxiety. She says that she just never really "felt the need to establish a birth plan" and that she "gave in to any craving [she] felt." Don’t worry, though -- "If I had suddenly craved chalk, ecstasy or Elmer's Glue, I'd have thought twice." I feel like there is some symbolism here to unpack (Could the Elmer's Glue be a metaphor for the childlike spirit of connection and unity???). Simon describes himself as "a learn-on-the-job guy" and tells us that he and Alex "failed to attend the last couple of [birthing] classes as by then we both just wanted to let instinct take over when the time came." As someone who has never trusted my instincts even once in my entire life, I cannot relate.
Twelve days after his due date, baby François is born. Except it turns out that he actually was born right on time, but Alex "didn't keep regimented track of [her] periods" and miscalculated. What a bummer that modern medicine hasn't advanced to the point where doctors can guide you about that sort of thing.
I don't even know what to say about this next bit, but God help me, I still have 215 more pages of this book to go.
Although the final stages of labor were very, very painful, I [Alex] never used our code word (tin can) for "game over, give me drugs." I definitely recommend using a code word, because it was kind of fun to scream, "I want drugs, give me drugs" through a contraction and have the midwife, nurse and Simon all know I wasn't serious. Once he [François] was finally out of my body, I experienced a tsunami of endorphins that was almost orgasmic, and I understand completely the stories other women have written about ecstatic birth. Simon was sitting behind me at the point of birth, and later when we untangled ourselves he discovered he'd actually ejaculated though hadn't felt any of the normal lead-up to that. It may seem distasteful to some, and definitely neither of us was thinking of sex at the time, but with the rush of emotion and my lower nerve endings going crazy, it's not too far a stretch to say that it's a profound experience.
Johan is born two years later, although it's unclear from the text whether either parent reached orgasm during the event.
The chapter ends with a top-ten list entitled "10 Things We'll Remember That Happened During Pregnancy." These include useful tidbits like
  1. Best advice I heard: men's genitals grow and change shape regularly, then go back to the way they were before. Don't worry about your female delicate bits being able to retract.
Which is…a lovely sentiment. But one that is slightly undermined by phrasing the first part in the grossest way possible, as well as by the use of the phrase "female delicate bits." I do like the idea that they "retract," however, because I think it's very cool to imagine the vagina as an SUV sunroof. By the grace of God, Chapter 1 comes to a close.
In Chapter 2 (titled "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn, What's My Name Again? and Who is This Alien?" -- seriously, were they padding their word count with chapter titles?), we get more questionable parenting advice from the McCord-van Kempens. They glibly dismiss concerns about co-sleeping ("Simon and I both slept with cats and dogs our whole lives without squishing them"), which I honestly would be more annoyed about if I hadn't immediately gone on to read Simon's account of "the midnight race to the 24-hour pharmacy to buy a breast pump as Alex's breasts were seemingly engorged with too much milk and she thought they were about to explode and fly off her chest." As it stands, I'm truly too defeated to care. Again, just to be perfectly clear: no shade to having issues breastfeeding, all shade to using the word 'engorged.’ And also for giving me the mental image of Alex's breasts desperately struggling to flee from her body (though to be fair, who could blame them?).
Proving that she does not inhabit the same world as the rest of us mortals, Alex tells us that she expected that her state of sleep-deprivation as she raised two young children would "spur [her] creativity with graphic design." For some reason, this does not seem to be the case. Alex is puzzled.
Finally, we've come to this chapter's top ten list ("Top 10 Memories of Random Things We Did While in the Post-Birth Haze"). While these lists have so far been utterly irredeemable, they also mean the chapter is coming to a close, so I can at least take some solace in that. This particular list ranges from the irritating…
  1. We subversively took sleeping babies to as many non-child-friendly places as possible to prove the point that children can be seen, not heard and not bothersome, such as dinner at the Ritz in London, the Sahara Desert, shopping on Madison Avenue, Underbar in Union Square and film festivals.
…to the truly unnecessary.
  1. While changing François' diaper on day one or two, we both stood mesmerized by the changing pad as meconium oozed out of him. It was really the most bizarre and fascinating thing I'd seen to date.
With the couple's general backstory and credentials now under our belts, Chapter 3 ("The Screaming Kid on the Plane is NOT Mine! (This Time)") focuses on advice for traveling with children, which Alex admits "can be a complete pain in the you-know-what." I cannot describe the rage I feel at the fact that she has -- in no fewer than 50 pages -- forced me to read about both her newborn son's excrement and her husband's ejaculate, but cannot bring herself to use the word "ass." Alex, we're really far beyond that at this point, don't you think?
Not to be outdone, Simon shares a conversation he had with François that is remarkable not for its content, but for the fact that one of Simon's nicknames for his son is apparently "F-Boy." Thanks, I hate it.
This chapter's list ("Alex's Top 10 Travel Memories") includes the entry:
  1. Both boys charging down Saline Beach in St. Barths like something out of Lord of the Flies.
So, like a horde of primal sadists? I'm wondering if Alex and Simon have inadvertently confused Lord of the Flies with the hit 2007 reality show Kid Nation. I really hope that's what's going on here.
Chapter 4 ("'Mommy, Johan is Gone!'") promises to teach us how to handle accidents. I'm not sure how comfortable I feel taking emergency advice from the authors of this particular book, but (in large part due to the fact that I have slept since reading the previous chapter, giving the pain a chance to dull somewhat), I am willing to at least hear them out.
After relaying a story of François needing emergency surgery after a foot injury, Alex tells us that at one point, she and Simon realized they had spent "nearly $5000 on Indian takeout" in the past year. For the mathematically averse, this works out to a monthly budget of roughly $100 worth of Indian food per week, making my quarantine Uber Eats habit seem downright quaint by comparison. The chapter-ending list walks us through the "Top 10 Things We Do in a Crisis," and fortunately, the tips seem pretty benign.
  1. Knowing what calms the children down, such as making silly faces or reciting Shel Silverstein poetry backwards.
Wait, hang on. What?
reciting Shel Silverstein poetry backwards
I'm sorry, please forgive me if I have missed some recent, paradigm-shifting development in the field of early childhood education, but what?? As in, "ends sidewalk the where?" "Sdne klawedis eht erehw?" I am truly befuddled.
Maybe the next chapter ("'Is Today a Work Day or a Home Day, Mommy?'") will have some applicable wisdom for me, as I will, in fact, be working from home every other week for the foreseeable future. And, I cannot stress this enough, I am a psychotically overinvested cat mom. Alas, we are instead treated to an unnecessarily detailed breakdown of how important it is to delegate, and specifically that Simon cleans up vomit and Alex cleans up "feces in the various forms that come out of children's bottoms at appropriate and sometimes inappropriate times such as the middle of Thanksgiving festivities." As if we needed another reason to consider Thanksgiving problematic.
The chapter takes a brief commercial break…
When an everyday product can do double duty such as Dawn Hand Renewal with Olay Beauty, a dish soap that seals in moisture while I'm tackling cleanup, sure, I'll buy it.
…before closing out with a list of the "Top 10 Things We Do Because We Were Here First." I am happy to confirm your worst suspicions and tell you that item number one is indeed "Have passionate sex."
In Chapter 6 ("I Saw Your Nanny…Being Normal?"), I find myself actually sympathizing with Alex for the first time in this book. Which is mostly just because the chapter starts by talking about all of the awful, catty parental competitions that seem endemic to a certain crew of white Manhattan moms, and it makes Alex come off at least slightly less irritating in comparison.
That is, at least until a few pages later, when she starts to complain about a previous au pair:
She was sullen, melodramatic and kept a blog about how she hated Americans, hated France, hated us and the children but loved New York. I think she must have thought we were idiots, and when she asked us to leave early we were only too happy to get her out of our home.
I would love to meet this woman. I think we could be great friends.
This chapter's list is even more difficult to parse than previous ones, because while it's titled "Top 10 Things Caregivers Have Inadvertently Done to Amuse, Annoy or Thrill Us," it's not at all clear which descriptors apply to which points. When a babysitter "accidentally used a household cleaning wipe when changing a diaper," were the McCord-Van Kempens amused? Annoyed? Thrilled? The world may never know.
In Chapter 7 ("'Putting To Death Is Not Nice,' a Duet for Two Boys and A Guitar"), Alex and Simon share some of their hard-earned childrearing wisdom with us. Which basically amounts to Alex telling us that, while normally misbehavior from the kids incurs a warning followed by a time-out, she has also developed an ingenious new strategy where she actually steps in to intervene when the stakes are higher. Let's listen in:
A third permutation is when there's a behavior that has to stop immediately, say if Johan has a big blue indelible marker and is running through a white hotel suite. I swoop in and grab the marker as to risk a three count [warning] would be to risk decoration of the sofa.
Take the marker from the toddler immediately instead of trying to reason with him? Groundbreaking.
Side Note: At this point in my reading, I am incredibly satisfied to report that I have discovered my first typo in the book, and in one of Simon's sections no less! ("These toads secret [sic] a poison…"). This is wildly pedantic of me and proof that I am a deeply sick person.
We run though a list of "Top 10 Things We Never Thought We Would Have To Explain" ("10. Why hot pizza stones do not like Legos.") before moving right along into Chapter 8, "Don't Listen to the Well-Meaning Morons." Strangely, I have a very vivid memory of Alex saying "I have a chapter in my book called, 'Don't Listen to the Well-Meaning Morons" in some distant RHONY episode or reunion. I guess she was telling the truth.
The chapter opens with a series of passages in which Alex and Simon respond to various comments that have been made about their parenting over the years. I think this device is supposed to be a bit of lighthearted snark on overbearing strangers, but instead just comes off as weirdly defensive and passive-aggressive. A few examples:
"My daughter is perfect. Her table manners are excellent, she never speaks unless spoken to and we've always had white sofas at home since she was a child, with no staining."
-A woman with one preteen daughter, no sons
Your daughter sounds boring. I wouldn't want my sons to date her..
Zing!
"Why are you outside?" - A bagel seller in Montreal, in February
I'm hungry and the stroller is well protected under the plastic cover. Johan is warm and cozy, the others are asleep in the hotel and I'm going stir-crazy. Is that enough, or should I buy my bagel from someone else?
Got 'em!
"Excuse me, your baby is crying." -- Someone said to Simon as they peered into the stroller to try and determine the cause of said noise.
You don't say! Do you think, you stupid idiot, that I don't hear that? Do you think I think it's just loud music? Do you think I don't want him to stop and that I like it???
Sorry, did I say 'passive-aggressive'? Let's change that to just 'aggressive.'
But despite bristling at being the recipient of unwanted advice, far be it from Alex to shy away from giving her opinions on the shortcomings of other parents.
There was a mom at another table who wore all black and told her hyperactive daughter that they had to have a family meeting to decide what to do next. The type of woman who might ask her daughter to "process her feelings" about which color to choose. The type of woman who wanted make [sic] a big huge hairy deal about including her daughter in the decision-making process and "negotiating" the next best step for the family to take in the pottery shop. Pardon me while I shoot myself.
I'm sorry, but I just cannot respect this take coming from a woman who calms her sons by reciting comedic children's poetry backwards.
We next learn that there are "many websites out in cyberspace," some of which offer child-rearing advice. Simon summarizes their useless "vitriol" as such:
They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, whereas for the 21st century surely hell no longer hath fury, as it's all been hurled at the belittled and scorned Internet mom.
I'm honestly not entirely sure what this is supposed to mean, and my confusion continues all the way through this chapter's "Top 10 Ways We Make Ourselves Feel Better When It's All Getting To Be Too Much." We begin reasonably enough…
  1. Check to see whether the person offering advice has children. How old are they?
  2. Do they have a point? Are they right? It is entirely possible.
…before quickly losing all sense of self-awareness and flying completely off the rails.
  1. Will we ever see this person again? If not, can we get away with unleashing our fury on them? Note, if you're reading this and decide to try it for yourself, go big or go home.
The last few chapters have been a bit Alex-heavy, but never fear -- Simon pops back up in Chapter 9 ("If I Wouldn't Eat That, My Kid Won't Either") to tell us a charming story about how the family refers to his Bolognese sauce as "Dead Cow Sauce," and this is because his children are incredibly enlightened and understand the circle of life and where food comes from. Or something along those lines.
This chapter also provides a lot of really incontrovertible proof that, even though you may swear that your kids say the most hilarious things all the time, you are wrong. I love kids. I can play cool aunt with the best of them. But this "recipe" for "Johan's Concoction" tries so hard to be cute and funny ("whisk violently -- making sure to spill a little out of the top") that I could barely stifle my groans. For anyone who happens to frequent RebornDollCringe, I am strongly and inexplicably reminded of Britton.
A list of "Top 10 Things We Don't Like About Children's Restaurants" culminates with
  1. Where would you rather be? A bistro devoted to race-car driving, with 1950s toy cars on the walls, or T.G.I. Friday's?
Excuse me, ma'am, you must be unfamiliar with the concept of Endless Apps®.
The title of Chapter 10 is "You'll Give in Before I Do!" and although the subtitle lets me know this is referencing "the art and warfare of bedtime," it's hard not to take it as a personal taunt from the authors. Most of this chapter is just transcriptions of 'cute' things François and Johan have said to try to avoid going to bed, but we do get this gem:
Slaying the dragon is our family euphemism for using the toilet (drowning the dragons that live in the sewer) and is fun for the boys to talk about, though probably not forever.
Before giving us a chance to adequately process this revelation, Alex goes on to reflect:
Hmm, perhaps I should delete this -- I don’t want obnoxious classmates getting hold of this book in 10 years and asking the boys if they need to slay the dragon in the middle of geometry class.
Alex, I assure you, you truly have nothing to worry about. Any self-respecting bully will be far too focused on the fact that Simon ejaculated at the moment of his son's birth to pay this comparatively trivial factoid any attention.
The authors shake things up and end this chapter with lists of both "Top 20 Bedtime Stories" and "Top 10 Lullabies," both of which are thankfully inoffensive.
In Chapter 11 ("Children Like Shiny Objects"), we follow Alex and Simon as they purchase the townhouse we see them renovating on RHONY. Although other (read: lesser) parents might store breakables out of reach or limit children's toys to playrooms and bedrooms, Alex and Simon were blessed with two boys whose aesthetic sensibilities are already quite developed:
One kind of funny thing that I noticed recently is that the toys the boys tend to leave upstairs in our red and black living room often tend to be red and black as well. I'm not sure whether that's intentional, but it's funny that the room always seems to match regardless of its contents.
The list of "Top 10 Craziest Places We've Found Objects" is mercifully absent of any orifice-related discoveries.
After reading just the title of Chapter 12 ("Raising Baby Einsteins"), I'm bracing myself for the self-satisfied smugness to come. This preparation turns out to be duly warranted. Baby sign language is dismissed as "a scheme dreamed up by ASL experts who wanted to sell classes to easily influenced new parents," Mommy and Me classes are "not really for teaching anything," and we learn that Alex and Simon have instituted a bizarre family rule that "if a talking toy came into our house, it had to speak a foreign language or speak English in an accent other than American."
We learn that Simon apparently does not know what antonyms are (for the record, Simon, the word you're looking for is homophones) and that New York City is replete with "wailing, nocturnal, type-A obsessed harridans willing to sleep with persons not their spouse if they think it will help their child get into THE RIGHT SCHOOL." Uh, yikes. After a tediously long description of François' pre-school admissions process, Alex informs us:
As a former actor, I've always gotten into play-acting and dressing up with my children. Perhaps a little too much. But I've taken the opportunity to show off a few old monologues, complete with bounding around like a puppy. If you have knowledge, why not share it? If you happen to know Puck's speeches from a Midsummer Night's Dream by ear with tumbling and staged sword play, why the heck don’t you share that with your boisterous boys, who love it and run around shouting, "Thou speakest aright!"
I am suddenly compelled to call my mother and thank her profusely for never making me put up with anything like this. Maybe I'll also get her thoughts on one of the tips listed in "Top 10 Favorite 'Developmental' Things To Do": "if they want something that you want to delay giving them, make them ask in every language they can before giving in." To me, this seems like an effective way to encourage your children to learn how to say "Fuck you, mom" in French as early as possible.
In Chapter 13 ("Urban Wonderland"), Alex and Simon promise to share their unique perspective on "taking advantage of raising a child in the urban jungle." But mostly, we just get a rant about how everyone thinks their kids have weird names, and that makes Simon mad. This chapter's "Top 10 Reasons New York is the Center of the Universe to a Kid" list reminds us what truly matters: "there are more songs with NYC in their titles than any other city."
Immediately after telling us how great it is to live in a city (excuse me, urban jungle), Alex and Simon switch tack and spend Chapter 14 ("'Daddy, a Cow! And It's Not in a Zoo!") expounding on the importance of exposing kids to nature. Sounds great, I'm on board. Unfortunately, we almost immediately take a hard left turn into a story from Simon's childhood where he and his brother are "befriended by this old guy, Dick, who lived on the outskirts of town in a small tin shed." We hear that Dick "occasionally pulled out an early Playboy magazine back from the days when the lower regions were airbrushed out," and that "there had been pretty strong rumors of pedophilia," before promptly returning to the main narrative with no further explanation. I can only describe the transition as 'jarring.'
I can tell how exhausted I am at this point in the book by how hurriedly I skimmed the list of "Top 10 Differences We've Noticed Between City Kids and Country Kids." To be honest, I'm almost annoyed when a particularly bizarre quote manages to catch my attention, because that means I have to think about it for the full amount of time it takes me to transcribe from the page. I'm beginning to think that my initial hope that I could glean some useful cat-rearing advice from this experience may have been overzealous.
Chapter 15 ("You're Such a Great Parent, You Should Be on TV (LOL)") is the only chapter to directly address the family's time on RHONY. It starts with this (attempted) comedy bit in which Alex and Simon pretend to be hilariously self-aware and self-effacing (Alex: "Look up 'Mommylicious' in the dictionary and you will see a photo of me in a ball gown, breast-feeding an infant while making Osso Buco and directing carpenters to build a bookcase for my Dickens and Shakespeare."). This posture would be infinitely more believable if I hadn't spent the previous 205 pages watching these two take themselves deadly seriously.
But rather than share any juicy behind-the-scenes tidbits (or, indeed, convey anything of substance at all), Alex and Simon spend exactly 3.5 pages blustering about how it wasn't harmful for their children to be on TV before giving us a list of "Top 10 Hilarious Things The Boys Have Done While Filming or at Photo Shoots." Spoiler alert: none of them are 'hilarious.'
Chapter 16 is literally titled "The Light at the End of the Tunnel," which makes me feel like this whole experience may have just been Alex and Simon playing some sort of twisted game with me. Alex tells us this is "the chapter of hope," but given that she then tells us about a time when she "spent one full hour discussing why magic markers cannot be carried around with the caps off, particularly in a hotel suite with white couches and walls," I'm not sure exactly where this hope is coming from. Also it seems like this markers-in-a-hotel-room thing happens weirdly frequently. We are then treated to Alex and Simon's "Top 10 Moments of Getting It,'" which includes
  1. Apropos of nothing, Johan said, "You give us time-outs because you are teaching us to be good grown-ups."
This is a thing I'm sure Johan said completely organically and not in response to hearing his parents say "we're giving you a time-out so that you learn to be a good grown-up" approximately seven zillion times.
This brings us to the book's Epilogue (a mercifully short two pages) featuring the line "If you made it to the end of this book, we salute you." Honored to accept this hard-earned accolade, I can finally close the book and start figuring out a way to erase the memory of Simon busting a mid-childbirth nut from my aching brain. Wish me luck!
submitted by efa___ to BravoRealHousewives [link] [comments]

How to Beat Warden's Bash (and any other probabilistic offense)

This sub has a thousand useful resources. The info hub can tell you how to maximize every punish, the community will give you techs for every attack, we have people discovering new option selects every day, and yet, the hardest thing for new (and sometimes experienced players) to deal with are moves like warden's bash, hito's kick, conq's bash, and other moves colloquially (though incorrectly) referred to as 50/50's. Despite many posts asking for help with these moves, thus far I haven't seen a good way of dealing with these moves aside from "you have to make a read".
Well how do you make a read? what is the best way to respond to a move that forces you to make a choice? How should you be thinking about move selection in general? Hopefully this post can give you the tools to answer these questions.
The answers lie in Probability Theory, so before we get into applying them to For Honor, lets define some concepts.
Probability= (number of ways an event can occur)/(total number of events that can occur)
For example, the number of ways you can roll an even number on a die is 3 (evens = [2,4,6]) and the total number of rolls is 6 (sides=[1,2,3,4,5,6]). the Probability of rolling an even number is 3/6=1/2.
the next important definition is Expected Value, which comes from the world of betting. imagine you are asked if a die roll will come up even, and you win $5 if you get it right, but lose $2 if you get it wrong. how much could you expect to win if you were to repeat this bet many times?
Expected Value= the sum of each Result\Probability of result*
in the case of our bet, the expected value would be
Expected Value= $5\(1/2) - $2(1/2) = +$1.50*
this means that over the course of many games, you could expect to win $1.50 per game.
would you like to play this game? of course you would! the overall outcome is in your favor, even if you don't know the specific outcome beforehand.
This is the beginning of all outcome analysis. Based on expected value, you would know whether you want to play the game. in this example, the bet is literally a fifty/fifty, but despite the odds being fifty fifty, the bet is advantageous to the player. Not all fifty fifties are bad to be in, the expected value is more important than the probabilities themselves. I can't stress enough that when your opponent forces you into making a choice, they are not necessarily putting themselves at an advantage. If you keep calm and look at the possible outcomes, you may be able to "out bet" them despite their putting you in that position in the first place.
so then, how is a move like bash the same as a bet? it is because neither the defender nor the attacker know the outcome before it happens. the warden bashing must predict the defender's response the same way that the defender must predict the warden's bash choice. both players make their selection before the outcome is decided.
so what is the outcome that we stick in the expected value formula? the damage dealt by the move. if the warden guesses correctly, then positive damage is dealt. if the defender guesses right, then negative damage is dealt.
the easiest way to capture all outcomes is in a table like so:
(here is a complete matchup table I made for Warden Vs Black Prior-> the one below is reduced for the sake of explanation)
Google Sheets Full interactive Matchup Chart Warden V BP

Defense >>> Attacks vvv dodge lvl 1 dodge lvl 2 dodge lvl 3 Probability of attack Expected Value of Attack
level 1 bash -30 18 18 1/4 +2
level 2 bash 18 -30 18 1/4 +2
level 3 bash 40 40 -30 1/4 +16.67
level 1 feint to gb 30 0 0 1/4 +10
Probability of Defense 1/3 1/3 1/3 sum=1+1=2 Overall Expected Value VVVV
Expected Value of Defense +14.5 +7 +3/2 Overall Expected Value >>>> +7.6

This example table assumes that both players are equally likely to throw any move, which is useful for getting the big picture with respect to matchups. From this table, we can learn a lot about what moves are good for both players in the bash situation.
Remember, the goal for the defender is to make the expected value as small or negative as possible, while the attacker is trying to make the expected value as large as possible. If the defender notices that the attacker is equally likely to throw any attack, then the best option for him is to dodge level 3, as it has the lowest expected value. Likewise, if the attacker notices that the defender is equally likely to choose any defense, then they would want to level 3 bash, as it has the highest expected value.
The ultimate goal of this table is to determine the probabilities that your opponent is assigning to each move, and then calculating the overall expected value, and minimizing/maximizing it by changing the probability values of your own moves in response.
again, here is a real example of a table with warden vs BP that contains the full matchup, which will automatically do the calculation of expected values for you, all you have to do is change the probabilities. See if you can find a combination of defense probabilities that you think will always return a negative expected value for any given probability of attacks. (note- all probabilities must be positive, all attack probabilities must sum to 1, all defense probabilities must sum to 1)
Google Sheets Full interactive Matchup Chart Warden V BP
You can see in the matchup table included in this post that the overall expected value is positive (warden favored). You can also see that each defense that the defender can choose is also warden favored. This leads one to the conclusion that at the most basic level, a warden can bash a player by only randomly choosing those three options indefinitely, and expect to win the match.
If these three options [dodge lvl 1, dodge lvl 2, dodge lvl 3] were the only options that your character has to use, then unfortunately you can expect to lose against a warden, no matter how good of a guesser you are, no matter how good you are at predicting your opponent, the warden will take the lead over any significant number of interactions.
Fortunately, all characters have many more than three options out of the bash! as one can see with the provided Warden V Black Prior table, the defender has about 12 significant options, and warden has about ten options out of bash. Also heartening is that it is possible to make the matchup BP favored by choosing certain moves. (try using heavy, light, bash and Dodge lvl 1 flip lvl 3). You can see that the overall expected value can actually be made negative, where the warden can expect to take damage every time he starts a bash.
Now, for the purposes of everyday matchmaking, you can see how to use this table as a framework for move choice. Pay attention to how often an opponent makes a given selection, fill in the attack/defense probability column with the values you observe, and throw out the combination of attacks/defenses that put the expected value most in your favor. If your character is capable of pulling the match in their favor (as BP is vs warden's bash), then the match will be decided on the basis of three things: skill in pattern recognition, skill in matchup knowledge, and skill in technique execution. Against the vast majority of players, just memorizing these outcomes nets a massive advantage if they haven't done the same.
If your character is incapable of pulling the matchup in their favor, then you can only hope to get lucky, that your opponent doesn't know the matchup, or cant execute their moves correctly. the best you can do is minimize the damage you take, but you can't reliably expect to win. In this case, your best strategy is to prevent the warden from bashing at all (if you can).
With this in mind, lets talk Strategy.
For the purpose of this discussion, Strategy is defined as the probabilities that you assign to each defense, with the goal of minimizing/maximizing the overall expected value of the matchup.
it is clear that if a player is basing their strategy off of the single move with the highest expected value, the opponent can predict the move easily. for example- warden's highest expected value move according to the simplified table above is level 3 bash. If warden only uses lvl 3 bash, then the defender will very quickly begin only dodging on level 3. in this way it is obvious that one must use some strategy consisting of moves that are difficult to predict, and sufficiently rewarding.
it is at this point that I will make a proposal: If there is any attack strategy [probability of attack 1, probability of attack 2, ... probability of attack N] such that the minimum overall expected value for any given defense strategy [probability of defense 1, probability of defense 2,....probability of defense M] is still positive (attacker favored), then the matchup is in favor of the attacker, and that strategy should be employed.
Likewise the reverse is true: for any given defense strategy, if the maximum expected value for any attack strategy is negative, then the matchup is defender favored, and the attacker should not employ the bash. Should the attacker employ the bash, the defender should employ the strategy.
There are of course matchups that are attacker favored-> see the table included for an example of this. If the warden assigns a probability of 1/4 to each of their attack options, then the defender cannot employ any strategy that results in a negative overall expected value.
There are also matchups that are defender favored.-> see our earlier example where the player wins whether he guesses right or wrong on a dice roll.
And there are also matchups that are Neither Attacker nor defender favored-> imagine rock paper scissors, where both players have the same options, and are rewarded the the same for each success.
It may make you happy or dishearten you to know that I have created a matlab script that searches for a winning strategy in the warden vs BP matchup, and after evaluating 30,000+ strategies, the software was incapable of identifying a strictly winning strategy for either warden or BP. This doesn't mean that there is none, it may have an analytical solution that I have not yet found, but if it is true that neither is favored, then I would be pleased. This means that the match would be decided on the matchup knowledge, pattern recognition, and in-moment strategy formation skill of the players in the game, rather than by an inherent advantage to any character.
For those that are interested in solving things analytically, i encourage you to start with the following mathematical statements (context comes from Linear Algebra):
the attack options form a vector [attack 1;attack 2;...attack N]
the defense options form a vector [defense 1; defense 2;....defense M]
the outer product of the attack and defense options vector's forms a Matrix.
The Matrix is transformed by some transformation inherent to the game's mechanics
the expected value is the sum of each element in the transformed matrix, where each element is defined by Probability(attacki) *Probability(defensej)*DamageValueij
the expected value will end up being an NxM term linear equation, along with the equations P(attack 1)+...P(attack N)=1 and P(defense 1)....+P(defense M)=1 and all P(X)>0
what now?
I hope that the table that I supplied here is useful to any players trying to develop a good strategy against warden's bash, but the framework can be easily applied to any mixup in the game. Unreactable unblockables, hito's kick, option selects etc can all be evaluated by expected value to determine good move choice.
While I know a lot about warden's bash, I don't know everything there is to know in the game, so I refrained from making matchup tables for each other character. If any experienced player is willing to help test things out, I would really appreciate you showing me the options and tech your character has against warden so that a complete series of tables can be made. Ultimately I would hope to have them added to the Infohub, for the purpose of education, and to help balance the game.
finally, there are a couple of optimizations to be made to make the tables truly represent the game. moves that loop into themselves like hito's kick and warden's lvl 1 bash end up requiring a bit of recursion with the tables. While I have figured out how to include that, It's a pain and it obscured the specific damage values so i didn't include it in this example. The damage values should also ideally be represented as a percent taken of health, to account for the inherent advantage some characters have because of their larger health pool.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading, I hope this helped.
submitted by Nora_Namssorg to CompetitiveForHonor [link] [comments]

Nassim Taleb Advised Universa Investments (Tail Risk Hedge Fund)

A tail-risk hedge fund advised by Nassim Taleb, author of “The Black Swan,” returned 3,612% in March, paying off massively for clients who invested in it as protection against a plunge in stock prices.
The fund, Universa Investments, was founded in 2007 by Mark Spitznagel, who is also runs the fund as the Chief Investment Officer.
Nassim Taleb is Universa's Distinguished Scientific Advisor.
From 1999 to 2004, Spitznagel and Taleb ran Empirica, a hedge fund which applied very similar tail hedging strategies to Universa.
Universa made huge gains in 2008 - as the S&P 500 dropped 38.5% by the end of 2008, the fund increased its investors's money tenfold.
Of course, even when a recession hits, Universa's investors won't starve - they have enough money to invest more than $50 million, which is Universa's minimum investment, and this will be a relatively small part of their overall portfolio.
Universa essentially offers a "black swan protection protocol", telling clients to think of the fund as catastrophe insurance that allows them to pursue returns more aggressively, without the need for more traditional approaches to risk mitigation.
Mark Spitznagel, who runs the fund, is known for the phrase:
"I spend all my time thinking about looming disaster"
In fact, a Forbes profile from 2011 claims that on roughly 95 trades out of 100 they lose money, yet Spitznagel is unruffled as he sits in his office listening to classical music and losing money each day.
To simplify, here's the essence of how it works:
Universa purchased far out-of-the-money "put" options on stocks and broad market indices.
A put option gives the owner the right, but not the obligation, to sell an underlying asset at a set price within a specified time period. It's a bet that a stock or market is going down.
As it is ultimately a bet, it is a very attractive market for degenerate gamblers!
If the market price falls below the agreed-upon price, you make money.
Universa makes a lot of small bets and watches most of them go bad (hence the 95 out of 100 trades they lose money line).
However, when one hits, it hits big...
For example, back in September 2008, when the S&P 500 was trading around 1200, Universa bought S&P 500 Index put options with a strike price of 850, due to expire late October.
They were betting an “unlikely” drop would occur.
They paid around 90 cents for those options. By October 10th, the S&P had dropped 300 points in a month. The options Universa purchased for 90 cents were now trading for $60 each. Universa cashed out of its position around $50, good for a gain of 5455%.
Now, as a reminder, this is a hedge - investors will have a relatively minimal percentage of their portfolio in Universa.
Essentially, the fund is designed to make an absolute killing if the market crashes and therefore ensures that their investors have insurance if the market suddenly nosedives.
Speaking of diving, let's take a dive into the Investor Letter:
In what has been a terrible period for many investors, this is what Universa investors were greeted with on the first page:
Based on your required invested capital at the start of the year, in March 2020 you experienced a 3,612% net return on capital; year-to-date you have experienced a 4,144% net return on capital.
Spitznagel then flexes The Risk Mitigation Scorecard, which showed that a portfolio invested 96.7% in the S&P 500 and just 3.3% in Universa's Tail Hedge fund, would have had a positive return in March, a month when the S&P dropped 12.4%.
The same portfolio - which eliminates the adverse effect on compounding from downside shocks - would have produced a 11.5% CAGR since inception in March 2008 versus 7.9% for the S&P 500.
(CAGR just means Compound Annual Growth Rate)
I mentioned eliminating the adverse effect of compounding from downside shocks, well this is crucial and he makes a great point here:
Due to the mathematics of compounding, the big losses are essentially ALL that matter to your rate of compounding, not the small losses - and not even the big or small gains.
This goes back to Warren Buffett's wise words:
"Rule number one: Never lose money
Rule number two: Never forget rule number one"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoWI76Pu9JI
submitted by financeoptimum to options [link] [comments]

Nassim Taleb Advised Universa Investments (Tail Risk Hedge Fund)

A tail-risk hedge fund advised by Nassim Taleb, author of “The Black Swan,” returned 3,612% in March, paying off massively for clients who invested in it as protection against a plunge in stock prices.
The fund, Universa Investments, was founded in 2007 by Mark Spitznagel, who is also runs the fund as the Chief Investment Officer.
Nassim Taleb is Universa's Distinguished Scientific Advisor.
From 1999 to 2004, Spitznagel and Taleb ran Empirica, a hedge fund which applied very similar tail hedging strategies to Universa.
Universa made huge gains in 2008 - as the S&P 500 dropped 38.5% by the end of 2008, the fund increased its investors's money tenfold.
Of course, even when a recession hits, Universa's investors won't starve - they have enough money to invest more than $50 million, which is Universa's minimum investment, and this will be a relatively small part of their overall portfolio.
Universa essentially offers a "black swan protection protocol", telling clients to think of the fund as catastrophe insurance that allows them to pursue returns more aggressively, without the need for more traditional approaches to risk mitigation.
Mark Spitznagel, who runs the fund, is known for the phrase:
"I spend all my time thinking about looming disaster"
In fact, a Forbes profile from 2011 claims that on roughly 95 trades out of 100 they lose money, yet Spitznagel is unruffled as he sits in his office listening to classical music and losing money each day.
To simplify, here's the essence of how it works:
Universa purchased far out-of-the-money "put" options on stocks and broad market indices.
A put option gives the owner the right, but not the obligation, to sell an underlying asset at a set price within a specified time period. It's a bet that a stock or market is going down.
As it is ultimately a bet, it is a very attractive market for degenerate gamblers!
If the market price falls below the agreed-upon price, you make money.
Universa makes a lot of small bets and watches most of them go bad (hence the 95 out of 100 trades they lose money line).
However, when one hits, it hits big...
For example, back in September 2008, when the S&P 500 was trading around 1200, Universa bought S&P 500 Index put options with a strike price of 850, due to expire late October.
They were betting an “unlikely” drop would occur.
They paid around 90 cents for those options. By October 10th, the S&P had dropped 300 points in a month. The options Universa purchased for 90 cents were now trading for $60 each. Universa cashed out of its position around $50, good for a gain of 5455%.
Now, as a reminder, this is a hedge - investors will have a relatively minimal percentage of their portfolio in Universa.
Essentially, the fund is designed to make an absolute killing if the market crashes and therefore ensures that their investors have insurance if the market suddenly nosedives.
Speaking of diving, let's take a dive into the Investor Letter:
In what has been a terrible period for many investors, this is what Universa investors were greeted with on the first page:
Based on your required invested capital at the start of the year, in March 2020 you experienced a 3,612% net return on capital; year-to-date you have experienced a 4,144% net return on capital.
Spitznagel then flexes The Risk Mitigation Scorecard, which showed that a portfolio invested 96.7% in the S&P 500 and just 3.3% in Universa's Tail Hedge fund, would have had a positive return in March, a month when the S&P dropped 12.4%.
The same portfolio - which eliminates the adverse effect on compounding from downside shocks - would have produced a 11.5% CAGR since inception in March 2008 versus 7.9% for the S&P 500.
(CAGR just means Compound Annual Growth Rate)
I mentioned eliminating the adverse effect of compounding from downside shocks, well this is crucial and he makes a great point here:
Due to the mathematics of compounding, the big losses are essentially ALL that matter to your rate of compounding, not the small losses - and not even the big or small gains.
This goes back to Warren Buffett's wise words:
"Rule number one: Never lose money
Rule number two: Never forget rule number one"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoWI76Pu9JI
submitted by financeoptimum to StockMarket [link] [comments]

Nassim Taleb Advised Universa (Tail Risk Hedge Fund)

A tail-risk hedge fund advised by Nassim Taleb, author of “The Black Swan,” returned 3,612% in March, paying off massively for clients who invested in it as protection against a plunge in stock prices.
The fund, Universa Investments, was founded in 2007 by Mark Spitznagel, who is also runs the fund as the Chief Investment Officer.
Nassim Taleb is Universa's Distinguished Scientific Advisor.
From 1999 to 2004, Spitznagel and Taleb ran Empirica, a hedge fund which applied very similar tail hedging strategies to Universa.
Universa made huge gains in 2008 - as the S&P 500 dropped 38.5% by the end of 2008, the fund increased its investors's money tenfold.
Of course, even when a recession hits, Universa's investors won't starve - they have enough money to invest more than $50 million, which is Universa's minimum investment, and this will be a relatively small part of their overall portfolio.
Universa essentially offers a "black swan protection protocol", telling clients to think of the fund as catastrophe insurance that allows them to pursue returns more aggressively, without the need for more traditional approaches to risk mitigation.
Mark Spitznagel, who runs the fund, is known for the phrase:
"I spend all my time thinking about looming disaster"
In fact, a Forbes profile from 2011 claims that on roughly 95 trades out of 100 they lose money, yet Spitznagel is unruffled as he sits in his office listening to classical music and losing money each day.
To simplify, here's the essence of how it works:
Universa purchased far out-of-the-money "put" options on stocks and broad market indices.
A put option gives the owner the right, but not the obligation, to sell an underlying asset at a set price within a specified time period. It's a bet that a stock or market is going down.
As it is ultimately a bet, it is a very attractive market for degenerate gamblers!
If the market price falls below the agreed-upon price, you make money.
Universa makes a lot of small bets and watches most of them go bad (hence the 95 out of 100 trades they lose money line).
However, when one hits, it hits big...
For example, back in September 2008, when the S&P 500 was trading around 1200, Universa bought S&P 500 Index put options with a strike price of 850, due to expire late October.
They were betting an “unlikely” drop would occur.
They paid around 90 cents for those options. By October 10th, the S&P had dropped 300 points in a month. The options Universa purchased for 90 cents were now trading for $60 each. Universa cashed out of its position around $50, good for a gain of 5455%.
Now, as a reminder, this is a hedge - investors will have a relatively minimal percentage of their portfolio in Universa.
Essentially, the fund is designed to make an absolute killing if the market crashes and therefore ensures that their investors have insurance if the market suddenly nosedives.
Speaking of diving, let's take a dive into the Investor Letter:
In what has been a terrible period for many investors, this is what Universa investors were greeted with on the first page:
Based on your required invested capital at the start of the year, in March 2020 you experienced a 3,612% net return on capital; year-to-date you have experienced a 4,144% net return on capital.
Spitznagel then flexes The Risk Mitigation Scorecard, which showed that a portfolio invested 96.7% in the S&P 500 and just 3.3% in Universa's Tail Hedge fund, would have had a positive return in March, a month when the S&P dropped 12.4%.
The same portfolio - which eliminates the adverse effect on compounding from downside shocks - would have produced a 11.5% CAGR since inception in March 2008 versus 7.9% for the S&P 500.
(CAGR just means Compound Annual Growth Rate)
I mentioned eliminating the adverse effect of compounding from downside shocks, well this is crucial and he makes a great point here:
Due to the mathematics of compounding, the big losses are essentially ALL that matter to your rate of compounding, not the small losses - and not even the big or small gains.
This goes back to Warren Buffett's wise words:
"Rule number one: Never lose money
Rule number two: Never forget rule number one"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoWI76Pu9JI
submitted by financeoptimum to hedgefund [link] [comments]

Top Tips to Beat the Casino

We share our 10 best tips to beat the online casino. You may not always beat the casino, but more often than not if you don't follow these tips. Use it to your advantage! Of course, everyone knows that an online casino always wins in the long run. You don't have to be under any illusions about that. Every casino game has a built-in house advantage. However, there are players who win from the casino more often than others. And that's because these players make better choices. We regularly play at online casinos and often know how to win and pay out nice amounts. Not always, but we are convinced that we win more often than others.
Only deal with reliable online casinos
The first tip is immediately the most important. Make sure to partner with a reliable online casino like GClub. Then you can be sure that the casino games are reliable and fair. You also know that your funds and therefore your winnings are safe. Then you know that you get your money the moment you make a payout. We are regularly emailed by players who have played at an unreliable casino and can whistle for their money. Just as important: a good help desk, so that you are helped properly and adequately when a problem arises.
Learn about the game rules
Make sure you know how a game works before you start playing it. If you are going to play blackjack, make sure you know when to pass, double or buy more. Applying the right Blackjack strategy brings down the house edge by percent. For example, do you know the difference between American Roulette (2 x higher house edge) and European Roulette (low house edge)? If you play slots, always play with play money first to get a good feel for the slot machine. Does the slot machine have a low or a high variance? Make sure you always choose slots with the best payout percentage.
Do not play progressive jackpot slots
Progressive Jackpot Slots are the biggest cash cow for online casinos. That's because a large part of the bet (sometimes up to 7 %!) Is withheld and goes to the progressive jackpot. That makes it almost impossible to win on a progressive jackpot slot machine unless you win that big top prize. But that chance is extremely small. If you still want to play on a progressive jackpot slot machine, only do it when the jackpot is at an all-time high and play on a budget.
Only play at casinos with good bonus conditions
Many online casino players take every welcome bonus. No matter how attractive a free casino bonus may sound, always look closely at the bonus conditions. If the round playing condition is too high (more than 40 x round), then it is almost impossible to ever clear the bonus. Therefore, always choose an online casino with favorable bonus conditions. This includes: a maximum of 40 times the bonus playing around and no maximum payout on the bonus. An online casino with very good bonus conditions is Slots Million: 100% bonus up to 100 euros and only playing around 35 times the bonus.
Learn how to play a casino bonus
Unlocking a casino bonus is more difficult than many people think. And there are a number of things to keep in mind. Round playing conditions, restrictions, maximum bets, maximum payouts etc. Some slots, for example, are much better suited to unlock welcome bonuses than others. By delving into how to play a casino bonus, the chance that you succeed will be many times greater.
Don't take every bonus!
Interim bonus offers always sound nice. Deposit 20 euros and you will receive a 25% bonus. Still tasty, 5 euros extra, no? Wrong. What many players don't realize is that these types of bonuses often entail high wagering requirements, where you have to clear the deposit + bonus a number of times.
Play more table games
Table games like Roulette, Black Jack and Baccarat usually have a much lower house edge than slot machines. Video poker is also a game that, if you use correct strategy, has a very low house edge. This allows you to play with your money longer and increase the chance of winning sessions.
Stop on time (especially if you are on a win!)
It's a cliché, but it's true. 9 out of 10 casino players are not satisfied with their winnings, they continue and lose everything. This is also referred to as the Gamblers Ruin, where it has been mathematically proven that any player who has a limited amount of money at his disposal will always be broke in the long term. Therefore, agree on a clear profit target with yourself and stick to it. It may take some discipline, but is guaranteed to help you beat the casino more often.
submitted by goshi2k7 to u/goshi2k7 [link] [comments]

Taleb-Advised Hedge Fund Universa Investments

A tail-risk hedge fund advised by Nassim Taleb, author of “The Black Swan,” returned 3,612% in March, paying off massively for clients who invested in it as protection against a plunge in stock prices.
The fund, Universa Investments, was founded in 2007 by Mark Spitznagel, who is also runs the fund as the Chief Investment Officer.
Nassim Taleb is Universa's Distinguished Scientific Advisor.
From 1999 to 2004, Spitznagel and Taleb ran Empirica, a hedge fund which applied very similar tail hedging strategies to Universa.
Universa made huge gains in 2008 - as the S&P 500 dropped 38.5% by the end of 2008, the fund increased its investors's money tenfold.
Of course, even when a recession hits, Universa's investors won't starve - they have enough money to invest more than $50 million, which is Universa's minimum investment, and this will be a relatively small part of their overall portfolio.
Universa essentially offers a "black swan protection protocol", telling clients to think of the fund as catastrophe insurance that allows them to pursue returns more aggressively, without the need for more traditional approaches to risk mitigation.
Mark Spitznagel, who runs the fund, is known for the phrase:
"I spend all my time thinking about looming disaster"
In fact, a Forbes profile from 2011 claims that on roughly 95 trades out of 100 they lose money, yet Spitznagel is unruffled as he sits in his office listening to classical music and losing money each day.
To simplify, here's the essence of how it works:
Universa purchased far out-of-the-money "put" options on stocks and broad market indices.
A put option gives the owner the right, but not the obligation, to sell an underlying asset at a set price within a specified time period. It's a bet that a stock or market is going down.
As it is ultimately a bet, it is a very attractive market for degenerate gamblers!
If the market price falls below the agreed-upon price, you make money.
Universa makes a lot of small bets and watches most of them go bad (hence the 95 out of 100 trades they lose money line).
However, when one hits, it hits big...
For example, back in September 2008, when the S&P 500 was trading around 1200, Universa bought S&P 500 Index put options with a strike price of 850, due to expire late October.
They were betting an “unlikely” drop would occur.
They paid around 90 cents for those options. By October 10th, the S&P had dropped 300 points in a month. The options Universa purchased for 90 cents were now trading for $60 each. Universa cashed out of its position around $50, good for a gain of 5455%.
Now, as a reminder, this is a hedge - investors will have a relatively minimal percentage of their portfolio in Universa.
Essentially, the fund is designed to make an absolute killing if the market crashes and therefore ensures that their investors have insurance if the market suddenly nosedives.
Speaking of diving, let's take a dive into the Investor Letter:
In what has been a terrible period for many investors, this is what Universa investors were greeted with on the first page:
Based on your required invested capital at the start of the year, in March 2020 you experienced a 3,612% net return on capital; year-to-date you have experienced a 4,144% net return on capital.
Spitznagel then flexes The Risk Mitigation Scorecard, which showed that a portfolio invested 96.7% in the S&P 500 and just 3.3% in Universa's Tail Hedge fund, would have had a positive return in March, a month when the S&P dropped 12.4%.
The same portfolio - which eliminates the adverse effect on compounding from downside shocks - would have produced a 11.5% CAGR since inception in March 2008 versus 7.9% for the S&P 500.
(CAGR just means Compound Annual Growth Rate)
I mentioned eliminating the adverse effect of compounding from downside shocks, well this is crucial and he makes a great point here:
Due to the mathematics of compounding, the big losses are essentially ALL that matter to your rate of compounding, not the small losses - and not even the big or small gains.
This goes back to Warren Buffett's wise words:
"Rule number one: Never lose money
Rule number two: Never forget rule number one"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoWI76Pu9JI
submitted by financeoptimum to investing_discussion [link] [comments]

Nassim Taleb Advised Universa Investments (Tail Risk Hedge Fund)

A tail-risk hedge fund advised by Nassim Taleb, author of “The Black Swan,” returned 3,612% in March, paying off massively for clients who invested in it as protection against a plunge in stock prices.
The fund, Universa Investments, was founded in 2007 by Mark Spitznagel, who is also runs the fund as the Chief Investment Officer.
Nassim Taleb is Universa's Distinguished Scientific Advisor.
From 1999 to 2004, Spitznagel and Taleb ran Empirica, a hedge fund which applied very similar tail hedging strategies to Universa.
Universa made huge gains in 2008 - as the S&P 500 dropped 38.5% by the end of 2008, the fund increased its investors's money tenfold.
Of course, even when a recession hits, Universa's investors won't starve - they have enough money to invest more than $50 million, which is Universa's minimum investment, and this will be a relatively small part of their overall portfolio.
Universa essentially offers a "black swan protection protocol", telling clients to think of the fund as catastrophe insurance that allows them to pursue returns more aggressively, without the need for more traditional approaches to risk mitigation.
Mark Spitznagel, who runs the fund, is known for the phrase:
"I spend all my time thinking about looming disaster"
In fact, a Forbes profile from 2011 claims that on roughly 95 trades out of 100 they lose money, yet Spitznagel is unruffled as he sits in his office listening to classical music and losing money each day.
To simplify, here's the essence of how it works:
Universa purchased far out-of-the-money "put" options on stocks and broad market indices.
A put option gives the owner the right, but not the obligation, to sell an underlying asset at a set price within a specified time period. It's a bet that a stock or market is going down.
As it is ultimately a bet, it is a very attractive market for degenerate gamblers!
If the market price falls below the agreed-upon price, you make money.
Universa makes a lot of small bets and watches most of them go bad (hence the 95 out of 100 trades they lose money line).
However, when one hits, it hits big...
For example, back in September 2008, when the S&P 500 was trading around 1200, Universa bought S&P 500 Index put options with a strike price of 850, due to expire late October.
They were betting an “unlikely” drop would occur.
They paid around 90 cents for those options. By October 10th, the S&P had dropped 300 points in a month. The options Universa purchased for 90 cents were now trading for $60 each. Universa cashed out of its position around $50, good for a gain of 5455%.
Now, as a reminder, this is a hedge - investors will have a relatively minimal percentage of their portfolio in Universa.
Essentially, the fund is designed to make an absolute killing if the market crashes and therefore ensures that their investors have insurance if the market suddenly nosedives.
Speaking of diving, let's take a dive into the Investor Letter:
In what has been a terrible period for many investors, this is what Universa investors were greeted with on the first page:
Based on your required invested capital at the start of the year, in March 2020 you experienced a 3,612% net return on capital; year-to-date you have experienced a 4,144% net return on capital.
Spitznagel then flexes The Risk Mitigation Scorecard, which showed that a portfolio invested 96.7% in the S&P 500 and just 3.3% in Universa's Tail Hedge fund, would have had a positive return in March, a month when the S&P dropped 12.4%.
The same portfolio - which eliminates the adverse effect on compounding from downside shocks - would have produced a 11.5% CAGR since inception in March 2008 versus 7.9% for the S&P 500.
(CAGR just means Compound Annual Growth Rate)
I mentioned eliminating the adverse effect of compounding from downside shocks, well this is crucial and he makes a great point here:
Due to the mathematics of compounding, the big losses are essentially ALL that matter to your rate of compounding, not the small losses - and not even the big or small gains.
This goes back to Warren Buffett's wise words:
"Rule number one: Never lose money
Rule number two: Never forget rule number one"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoWI76Pu9JI
submitted by financeoptimum to InvestmentEducation [link] [comments]

Nassim Taleb Advised Universa Investments (Tail Risk Hedge Fund)

A tail-risk hedge fund advised by Nassim Taleb, author of “The Black Swan,” returned 3,612% in March, paying off massively for clients who invested in it as protection against a plunge in stock prices.
The fund, Universa Investments, was founded in 2007 by Mark Spitznagel, who is also runs the fund as the Chief Investment Officer.
Nassim Taleb is Universa's Distinguished Scientific Advisor.
From 1999 to 2004, Spitznagel and Taleb ran Empirica, a hedge fund which applied very similar tail hedging strategies to Universa.
Universa made huge gains in 2008 - as the S&P 500 dropped 38.5% by the end of 2008, the fund increased its investors's money tenfold.
Of course, even when a recession hits, Universa's investors won't starve - they have enough money to invest more than $50 million, which is Universa's minimum investment, and this will be a relatively small part of their overall portfolio.
Universa essentially offers a "black swan protection protocol", telling clients to think of the fund as catastrophe insurance that allows them to pursue returns more aggressively, without the need for more traditional approaches to risk mitigation.
Mark Spitznagel, who runs the fund, is known for the phrase:
"I spend all my time thinking about looming disaster"
In fact, a Forbes profile from 2011 claims that on roughly 95 trades out of 100 they lose money, yet Spitznagel is unruffled as he sits in his office listening to classical music and losing money each day.
To simplify, here's the essence of how it works:
Universa purchased far out-of-the-money "put" options on stocks and broad market indices.
A put option gives the owner the right, but not the obligation, to sell an underlying asset at a set price within a specified time period. It's a bet that a stock or market is going down.
As it is ultimately a bet, it is a very attractive market for degenerate gamblers!
If the market price falls below the agreed-upon price, you make money.
Universa makes a lot of small bets and watches most of them go bad (hence the 95 out of 100 trades they lose money line).
However, when one hits, it hits big...
For example, back in September 2008, when the S&P 500 was trading around 1200, Universa bought S&P 500 Index put options with a strike price of 850, due to expire late October.
They were betting an “unlikely” drop would occur.
They paid around 90 cents for those options. By October 10th, the S&P had dropped 300 points in a month. The options Universa purchased for 90 cents were now trading for $60 each. Universa cashed out of its position around $50, good for a gain of 5455%.
Now, as a reminder, this is a hedge - investors will have a relatively minimal percentage of their portfolio in Universa.
Essentially, the fund is designed to make an absolute killing if the market crashes and therefore ensures that their investors have insurance if the market suddenly nosedives.
Speaking of diving, let's take a dive into the Investor Letter:
In what has been a terrible period for many investors, this is what Universa investors were greeted with on the first page:
Based on your required invested capital at the start of the year, in March 2020 you experienced a 3,612% net return on capital; year-to-date you have experienced a 4,144% net return on capital.
Spitznagel then flexes The Risk Mitigation Scorecard, which showed that a portfolio invested 96.7% in the S&P 500 and just 3.3% in Universa's Tail Hedge fund, would have had a positive return in March, a month when the S&P dropped 12.4%.
The same portfolio - which eliminates the adverse effect on compounding from downside shocks - would have produced a 11.5% CAGR since inception in March 2008 versus 7.9% for the S&P 500.
(CAGR just means Compound Annual Growth Rate)
I mentioned eliminating the adverse effect of compounding from downside shocks, well this is crucial and he makes a great point here:
Due to the mathematics of compounding, the big losses are essentially ALL that matter to your rate of compounding, not the small losses - and not even the big or small gains.
This goes back to Warren Buffett's wise words:
"Rule number one: Never lose money
Rule number two: Never forget rule number one"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoWI76Pu9JI
submitted by financeoptimum to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

Nassim Taleb Advised Universa Investments (Tail Risk Hedge Fund)

A tail-risk hedge fund advised by Nassim Taleb, author of “The Black Swan,” returned 3,612% in March, paying off massively for clients who invested in it as protection against a plunge in stock prices.
The fund, Universa Investments, was founded in 2007 by Mark Spitznagel, who is also runs the fund as the Chief Investment Officer.
Nassim Taleb is Universa's Distinguished Scientific Advisor.
From 1999 to 2004, Spitznagel and Taleb ran Empirica, a hedge fund which applied very similar tail hedging strategies to Universa.
Universa made huge gains in 2008 - as the S&P 500 dropped 38.5% by the end of 2008, the fund increased its investors's money tenfold.
Of course, even when a recession hits, Universa's investors won't starve - they have enough money to invest more than $50 million, which is Universa's minimum investment, and this will be a relatively small part of their overall portfolio.
Universa essentially offers a "black swan protection protocol", telling clients to think of the fund as catastrophe insurance that allows them to pursue returns more aggressively, without the need for more traditional approaches to risk mitigation.
Mark Spitznagel, who runs the fund, is known for the phrase:
"I spend all my time thinking about looming disaster"
In fact, a Forbes profile from 2011 claims that on roughly 95 trades out of 100 they lose money, yet Spitznagel is unruffled as he sits in his office listening to classical music and losing money each day.
To simplify, here's the essence of how it works:
Universa purchased far out-of-the-money "put" options on stocks and broad market indices.
A put option gives the owner the right, but not the obligation, to sell an underlying asset at a set price within a specified time period. It's a bet that a stock or market is going down.
As it is ultimately a bet, it is a very attractive market for degenerate gamblers!
If the market price falls below the agreed-upon price, you make money.
Universa makes a lot of small bets and watches most of them go bad (hence the 95 out of 100 trades they lose money line).
However, when one hits, it hits big...
For example, back in September 2008, when the S&P 500 was trading around 1200, Universa bought S&P 500 Index put options with a strike price of 850, due to expire late October.
They were betting an “unlikely” drop would occur.
They paid around 90 cents for those options. By October 10th, the S&P had dropped 300 points in a month. The options Universa purchased for 90 cents were now trading for $60 each. Universa cashed out of its position around $50, good for a gain of 5455%.
Now, as a reminder, this is a hedge - investors will have a relatively minimal percentage of their portfolio in Universa.
Essentially, the fund is designed to make an absolute killing if the market crashes and therefore ensures that their investors have insurance if the market suddenly nosedives.
Speaking of diving, let's take a dive into the Investor Letter:
In what has been a terrible period for many investors, this is what Universa investors were greeted with on the first page:
Based on your required invested capital at the start of the year, in March 2020 you experienced a 3,612% net return on capital; year-to-date you have experienced a 4,144% net return on capital.
Spitznagel then flexes The Risk Mitigation Scorecard, which showed that a portfolio invested 96.7% in the S&P 500 and just 3.3% in Universa's Tail Hedge fund, would have had a positive return in March, a month when the S&P dropped 12.4%.
The same portfolio - which eliminates the adverse effect on compounding from downside shocks - would have produced a 11.5% CAGR since inception in March 2008 versus 7.9% for the S&P 500.
(CAGR just means Compound Annual Growth Rate)
I mentioned eliminating the adverse effect of compounding from downside shocks, well this is crucial and he makes a great point here:
Due to the mathematics of compounding, the big losses are essentially ALL that matter to your rate of compounding, not the small losses - and not even the big or small gains.
This goes back to Warren Buffett's wise words:
"Rule number one: Never lose money
Rule number two: Never forget rule number one"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoWI76Pu9JI
submitted by financeoptimum to wealth [link] [comments]

Nassim Taleb Advised Universa Investments (Tail Risk Hedge Fund)

A tail-risk hedge fund advised by Nassim Taleb, author of “The Black Swan,” returned 3,612% in March, paying off massively for clients who invested in it as protection against a plunge in stock prices.
The fund, Universa Investments, was founded in 2007 by Mark Spitznagel, who is also runs the fund as the Chief Investment Officer.
Nassim Taleb is Universa's Distinguished Scientific Advisor.
From 1999 to 2004, Spitznagel and Taleb ran Empirica, a hedge fund which applied very similar tail hedging strategies to Universa.
Universa made huge gains in 2008 - as the S&P 500 dropped 38.5% by the end of 2008, the fund increased its investors's money tenfold.
Of course, even when a recession hits, Universa's investors won't starve - they have enough money to invest more than $50 million, which is Universa's minimum investment, and this will be a relatively small part of their overall portfolio.
Universa essentially offers a "black swan protection protocol", telling clients to think of the fund as catastrophe insurance that allows them to pursue returns more aggressively, without the need for more traditional approaches to risk mitigation.
Mark Spitznagel, who runs the fund, is known for the phrase:
"I spend all my time thinking about looming disaster"
In fact, a Forbes profile from 2011 claims that on roughly 95 trades out of 100 they lose money, yet Spitznagel is unruffled as he sits in his office listening to classical music and losing money each day.
To simplify, here's the essence of how it works:
Universa purchased far out-of-the-money "put" options on stocks and broad market indices.
A put option gives the owner the right, but not the obligation, to sell an underlying asset at a set price within a specified time period. It's a bet that a stock or market is going down.
As it is ultimately a bet, it is a very attractive market for degenerate gamblers!
If the market price falls below the agreed-upon price, you make money.
Universa makes a lot of small bets and watches most of them go bad (hence the 95 out of 100 trades they lose money line).
However, when one hits, it hits big...
For example, back in September 2008, when the S&P 500 was trading around 1200, Universa bought S&P 500 Index put options with a strike price of 850, due to expire late October.
They were betting an “unlikely” drop would occur.
They paid around 90 cents for those options. By October 10th, the S&P had dropped 300 points in a month. The options Universa purchased for 90 cents were now trading for $60 each. Universa cashed out of its position around $50, good for a gain of 5455%.
Now, as a reminder, this is a hedge - investors will have a relatively minimal percentage of their portfolio in Universa.
Essentially, the fund is designed to make an absolute killing if the market crashes and therefore ensures that their investors have insurance if the market suddenly nosedives.
Speaking of diving, let's take a dive into the Investor Letter:
In what has been a terrible period for many investors, this is what Universa investors were greeted with on the first page:
Based on your required invested capital at the start of the year, in March 2020 you experienced a 3,612% net return on capital; year-to-date you have experienced a 4,144% net return on capital.
Spitznagel then flexes The Risk Mitigation Scorecard, which showed that a portfolio invested 96.7% in the S&P 500 and just 3.3% in Universa's Tail Hedge fund, would have had a positive return in March, a month when the S&P dropped 12.4%.
The same portfolio - which eliminates the adverse effect on compounding from downside shocks - would have produced a 11.5% CAGR since inception in March 2008 versus 7.9% for the S&P 500.
(CAGR just means Compound Annual Growth Rate)
I mentioned eliminating the adverse effect of compounding from downside shocks, well this is crucial and he makes a great point here:
Due to the mathematics of compounding, the big losses are essentially ALL that matter to your rate of compounding, not the small losses - and not even the big or small gains.
This goes back to Warren Buffett's wise words:
"Rule number one: Never lose money
Rule number two: Never forget rule number one"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoWI76Pu9JI
submitted by financeoptimum to economy [link] [comments]

Nassim Taleb Advised Universa Investments (Tail Risk Hedge Fund)

A tail-risk hedge fund advised by Nassim Taleb, author of “The Black Swan,” returned 3,612% in March, paying off massively for clients who invested in it as protection against a plunge in stock prices.
The fund, Universa Investments, was founded in 2007 by Mark Spitznagel, who is also runs the fund as the Chief Investment Officer.
Nassim Taleb is Universa's Distinguished Scientific Advisor.
From 1999 to 2004, Spitznagel and Taleb ran Empirica, a hedge fund which applied very similar tail hedging strategies to Universa.
Universa made huge gains in 2008 - as the S&P 500 dropped 38.5% by the end of 2008, the fund increased its investors's money tenfold.
Of course, even when a recession hits, Universa's investors won't starve - they have enough money to invest more than $50 million, which is Universa's minimum investment, and this will be a relatively small part of their overall portfolio.
Universa essentially offers a "black swan protection protocol", telling clients to think of the fund as catastrophe insurance that allows them to pursue returns more aggressively, without the need for more traditional approaches to risk mitigation.
Mark Spitznagel, who runs the fund, is known for the phrase:
"I spend all my time thinking about looming disaster"
In fact, a Forbes profile from 2011 claims that on roughly 95 trades out of 100 they lose money, yet Spitznagel is unruffled as he sits in his office listening to classical music and losing money each day.
To simplify, here's the essence of how it works:
Universa purchased far out-of-the-money "put" options on stocks and broad market indices.
A put option gives the owner the right, but not the obligation, to sell an underlying asset at a set price within a specified time period. It's a bet that a stock or market is going down.
As it is ultimately a bet, it is a very attractive market for degenerate gamblers!
If the market price falls below the agreed-upon price, you make money.
Universa makes a lot of small bets and watches most of them go bad (hence the 95 out of 100 trades they lose money line).
However, when one hits, it hits big...
For example, back in September 2008, when the S&P 500 was trading around 1200, Universa bought S&P 500 Index put options with a strike price of 850, due to expire late October.
They were betting an “unlikely” drop would occur.
They paid around 90 cents for those options. By October 10th, the S&P had dropped 300 points in a month. The options Universa purchased for 90 cents were now trading for $60 each. Universa cashed out of its position around $50, good for a gain of 5455%.
Now, as a reminder, this is a hedge - investors will have a relatively minimal percentage of their portfolio in Universa.
Essentially, the fund is designed to make an absolute killing if the market crashes and therefore ensures that their investors have insurance if the market suddenly nosedives.
Speaking of diving, let's take a dive into the Investor Letter:
In what has been a terrible period for many investors, this is what Universa investors were greeted with on the first page:
Based on your required invested capital at the start of the year, in March 2020 you experienced a 3,612% net return on capital; year-to-date you have experienced a 4,144% net return on capital.
Spitznagel then flexes The Risk Mitigation Scorecard, which showed that a portfolio invested 96.7% in the S&P 500 and just 3.3% in Universa's Tail Hedge fund, would have had a positive return in March, a month when the S&P dropped 12.4%.
The same portfolio - which eliminates the adverse effect on compounding from downside shocks - would have produced a 11.5% CAGR since inception in March 2008 versus 7.9% for the S&P 500.
(CAGR just means Compound Annual Growth Rate)
I mentioned eliminating the adverse effect of compounding from downside shocks, well this is crucial and he makes a great point here:
Due to the mathematics of compounding, the big losses are essentially ALL that matter to your rate of compounding, not the small losses - and not even the big or small gains.
This goes back to Warren Buffett's wise words:
"Rule number one: Never lose money
Rule number two: Never forget rule number one"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoWI76Pu9JI
submitted by financeoptimum to Money [link] [comments]

Taleb-Advised Universa Investments (Tail Risk Hedge Fund)

A tail-risk hedge fund advised by Nassim Taleb, author of “The Black Swan,” returned 3,612% in March, paying off massively for clients who invested in it as protection against a plunge in stock prices.
The fund, Universa Investments, was founded in 2007 by Mark Spitznagel, who is also runs the fund as the Chief Investment Officer.
Nassim Taleb is Universa's Distinguished Scientific Advisor.
From 1999 to 2004, Spitznagel and Taleb ran Empirica, a hedge fund which applied very similar tail hedging strategies to Universa.
Universa made huge gains in 2008 - as the S&P 500 dropped 38.5% by the end of 2008, the fund increased its investors's money tenfold.
Of course, even when a recession hits, Universa's investors won't starve - they have enough money to invest more than $50 million, which is Universa's minimum investment, and this will be a relatively small part of their overall portfolio.
Universa essentially offers a "black swan protection protocol", telling clients to think of the fund as catastrophe insurance that allows them to pursue returns more aggressively, without the need for more traditional approaches to risk mitigation.
Mark Spitznagel, who runs the fund, is known for the phrase:
"I spend all my time thinking about looming disaster"
In fact, a Forbes profile from 2011 claims that on roughly 95 trades out of 100 they lose money, yet Spitznagel is unruffled as he sits in his office listening to classical music and losing money each day.
To simplify, here's the essence of how it works:
Universa purchased far out-of-the-money "put" options on stocks and broad market indices.
A put option gives the owner the right, but not the obligation, to sell an underlying asset at a set price within a specified time period. It's a bet that a stock or market is going down.
As it is ultimately a bet, it is a very attractive market for degenerate gamblers!
If the market price falls below the agreed-upon price, you make money.
Universa makes a lot of small bets and watches most of them go bad (hence the 95 out of 100 trades they lose money line).
However, when one hits, it hits big...
For example, back in September 2008, when the S&P 500 was trading around 1200, Universa bought S&P 500 Index put options with a strike price of 850, due to expire late October.
They were betting an “unlikely” drop would occur.
They paid around 90 cents for those options. By October 10th, the S&P had dropped 300 points in a month. The options Universa purchased for 90 cents were now trading for $60 each. Universa cashed out of its position around $50, good for a gain of 5455%.
Now, as a reminder, this is a hedge - investors will have a relatively minimal percentage of their portfolio in Universa.
Essentially, the fund is designed to make an absolute killing if the market crashes and therefore ensures that their investors have insurance if the market suddenly nosedives.
Speaking of diving, let's take a dive into the Investor Letter:
In what has been a terrible period for many investors, this is what Universa investors were greeted with on the first page:
Based on your required invested capital at the start of the year, in March 2020 you experienced a 3,612% net return on capital; year-to-date you have experienced a 4,144% net return on capital.
Spitznagel then flexes The Risk Mitigation Scorecard, which showed that a portfolio invested 96.7% in the S&P 500 and just 3.3% in Universa's Tail Hedge fund, would have had a positive return in March, a month when the S&P dropped 12.4%.
The same portfolio - which eliminates the adverse effect on compounding from downside shocks - would have produced a 11.5% CAGR since inception in March 2008 versus 7.9% for the S&P 500.
(CAGR just means Compound Annual Growth Rate)
I mentioned eliminating the adverse effect of compounding from downside shocks, well this is crucial and he makes a great point here:
Due to the mathematics of compounding, the big losses are essentially ALL that matter to your rate of compounding, not the small losses - and not even the big or small gains.
This goes back to Warren Buffett's wise words:
"Rule number one: Never lose money
Rule number two: Never forget rule number one"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoWI76Pu9JI
submitted by financeoptimum to Libertarian [link] [comments]

Deathbound XV - The Absolute Worst

New sunday, new chapter!
First
Previous
 
 
SpecOps Commander Sam Robinson – The Valkyrie – Dimensional Plane of Arenal - New R.A.C.O Campus, Ringtown – 5 Years and 31 days since the Infernal invasion of Earth
 
Sam did her best to try and stifle her laugh but was failing miserably. Jacqueline’s hologram shot angry glances at her, but she kept her focus, and anger, mainly aimed at the four goblins in front of her. “No, damnit! I explained it yesterday, and this morning, and during lunch as well! These knives are not for stabbing people!”
“But I don’t understand. You give us knives, you must want us to stab!” One goblin said in their scratchy-growly language. “So, if you don’t want us to stab other people, as the Valkyrie has said many times before, then what use is this knife!?”
“Yeah, why do you keep giving them to us!? Is this like a secret mission? Need us to kill someone!?”
“No, damnit! What part of non-violent use don’t you understand!? You use the knives to cut your food into manageable chunks!” Jacqueline growled out as she started to grab her hair in frustration.
“No, see, that’s wrong.” One of the goblin students said. “We have claws that we file down for that, as well as sharp teeth to get good chunks, or break bones to get to the marrow.”
“Then what’s the problem? Just use that!” Jacqueline said as the hologram’s image started to pace around, even though the hologram itself stayed in one place.
“Then why give us the knives!? We don’t understand! This doesn’t make any sense!” Two of the goblin students asked back in an equally frustrated manner.
Sam finally stopped laughing hard enough to be able to compose herself as she held out her hand towards the complaining goblins. “Just give the knives to me. Just, don’t grab any more knives. Heh.”
The goblins sighed and slowly deposited the knives in Sam’s palm, and left grumbling and arguing. “Starting to hate your new job yet?” Sam asked.
“I don’t know how you can handle this.” Jacqueline complained. “This is even worse than what Myrael and Alix described working at the Quest Board was, it’s these constant and absolutely idiotic questions about such inane things!”
“At least you’re putting your degree to good use?” Sam asked with a slight genuine smile, trying to put a positive spin on this.
“Buuuuuh, I need a drink after this, it’s almost weekend. It’s almost weekend.”
“Meh. I still haven’t gotten permission from command to get drunk, so fuck the weekend, I guess.”
“Aw, dang, really? Well, I guess I understand, but it still must suck for you.”
“It’s okay, she’s got me, her bestest friend in the whole wide universe!” Vee interrupted.
“Aw, that’s so sweet! A VI to keep you company.” Jacqueline responded without a hint of malice. “You know, you can always come visit the 5th, we’re only an hour away. It’s not like Vee can’t both keep an eye on you and do weekend duties on campus.”
“Eh, maybe. I could go for more than just a few hours a day out of the suit. Maybe go swimming at the rec center.” Sam replied. “By the way, how’s it going with everyone else so far? I heard overtime was kicking everyone’s ass, fifth day in a row now.”
“Nope, don’t answer that.” Vee replied.
“Ouch, denied.” Jacqueline laughed. “But, uh, between you and me… and Vee… and the devil, it’s going ok. Still, I could go with some more sleep. But, from what I’ve, uh, gathered, it’s going, uh, well. Well enough that overtime might go down as soon as next week.”
“Yeah, okay, that was vague enough.” Vee said.
“Aw, shit.” Jacqueline said.
“What?” Sam asked.
“Bwahahaha!” Vee laughed out loud. “Someone put in a request to understand human sexuality and mating rituals better!”
“Oh, no.” Sam said as she smacked her forehead.
“Well, it’s been less than 48 hours total before this particular question was asked, I guess that means Alix wins the bet.”
“Those two made a bet over that?” Sam smirked.
“Yeah, Myrael held a less, uh, loose opinion over the students here.” Jacqueline replied. “But I have to go and move my hologram. I’m moving to building C. Talk to you later!”
“Alright, good luck!” Sam replied. “Let’s get back to our rounds.”
 
 
Ur-Nergal – The Lich King – Dimensional Plane of Arenal – New R.A.C.O. Campus, Ringtown – 5 Years and 40 days since the Infernal invasion of Earth
 
“This… can’t be the secret.” Ur-Nergal slowly complained.
The hologram of Lieutenant Jacqueline Chan in front of him seemed to suppress an eyeroll and a sigh. “Yes, it is. It’s not difficult, 15-year olds can do this.”
“Then they are the smartest 15-year olds, ever. This simply cannot be the secret to all your secrets.” Ur-Nergal once more complained.
She sighed out loud this time. “You know, you’re like the hundredth complainer about human math, and guess what?”
Ur-Nergal grumbled at the gall of this mortal. Always his own species that defied him so openly. At least the others had the decency to be properly afraid of him. “What?” He slowly drawled out, keeping his anger just behind his teeth.
“You know, I knew this was going to happen.” Jacqueline said, causing Ur-Nergal to slowly roll his eyes. “It’s why some of us figured it wasn’t a big deal to at least start the R.A.C.O Program and begin sharing and teaching humanity’s greatest technological achievements. We knew that a lot of you would be pompous braggards and unwilling to accept that just because you were in power doesn’t mean you are the smartest. Of all 672 students we have here, the smartest one is Gary. The teenage dragon. Not because he was born into aristocracy or with a bit of magical talent. But because he works for it and understands that real progress comes with real effort. Stop complaining, it’s not my fault you’re lazier than a teenager.”
Ur-Nergal grumbled. “All I am hearing is I should’ve simply used someone else as a student, as I am also busy dealing with your inane bureaucracy! Can’t I just do that then? I already showed you the ins and outs of the anti-scrying spell, surely I can put a new student in for free.”
Jacqueline smiled. “Ah, sorry, can’t do that either. The contracts are with you specifically, so if you want to enlist a new student, then you’ll just have to wait until enrollment opens again.”
“What? When is that?”
“Like all academic institutions, next year.”
“What!?” Ur-Nergal exploded. “You bastards!”
In an instant Ur-Nergal knew he had made a mistake as the thunderous steps of about 5 of those suits started coming his way. He looked around and realized he had accidentally cracked the floor underneath him. Looking back at the hologram, he simply saw Jacqueline looking back at him smiling. “Dang, guess you’re in trouble now.”
“Damnit, stinky!” Vee shouted. “Stop making all that noise! And – “
Ur-Nergal rolled his eyes as that stupid computer pretended to take in a huge breath and be shocked. “Just, get on with it. You’re not really shocked, you have camera’s everywhere.” Ur-Nergal grumbled.
“What? Aw, man. No appreciation for my craft.” Vee replied. “Regardless, I’m going to assess the damage and put it on your academic record. And tab.”
Ur-Nergal sighed. “What am I going to have to do in order to not have to pay in gold or magical crystals, this time?”
One of the suit’s helmets went up, revealing the Valkyrie’s yawning face. “Oh, you know, the usual. Probably another mission to help us try and find the Liberator.”
“You know, I don’t think my damaging this floor, just this slightly, constitutes that much of a cost. A new paint job would do just fine.”
“You’re still welcome to pay for that in gold or crystals.” The Valkyrie answered immediately. “Or, you know, get a lawyer.”
Ur-Nergal grumbled. They knew damn well that all of his lawyers were far too busy trying to get a deal sorted with the Republic of Iraq to get him citizenship. Then he realized he had been grumbling all day and then grumbled about that. “Alright, fine, fine! Back to my original question. Can’t I get some sort of adjusted curriculum where you only explain the concepts to me, and I don’t have to do the work?”
“Are you going to do the same for us and explain all sorts of nifty magical secrets to us without us having to do the work?” Vee instantly asked back. “If I remember correctly it took a full week of experimentation to understand your anti-scrying spell better.”
Ur-Nergal groaned out loud. Then the bell rang. “Whatever, I’m late for the next class.” Ur-Nergal took off from the floor and decided to float wherever he went, perhaps that would diminish some of the damage he’d been doing these past days. Briefly he heard the three laughing at his comment, but he didn’t really understand what was so funny about wanting to be on time for class. After all, despite his complaints, he had learned a great deal more about humanity.
If anything, the fact that all of it was so severely complex and difficult only lent more credence to why all the others hadn’t developed it themselves. It also made Ur-Nergal, grudgingly, respect the achievements of humanity more, as he began to understand it was less about unity and division, or raw numbers, when calculating power. Rather it was placed in what one does with that power and how one can focus on growing it. Annoying though it was, he perfectly understood the praise they had for Gartrix’hantallass’daumtrilldux.
Once Ur-Nergal had left the building he quickly flew up and looked down. The next lecture was about applied mathematics, in this case something called Game Theory. He wasn’t really interested in games, but the applied part of math was what intrigued him. It was held in building T, so it would be somewhere in the northern corner. He swiftly flew down once he’d spotted it and noticed other students rushing into the building.
This part was always nice. Ur-Nergal smiled as he felt the others sensing him, their fear immediately rising as he descended. There were slightly more than 300 students here, all of them afraid, all of them pressing themselves against the wall and getting ready to flee at a moment’s notice. All except for Baldr who was defiantly staying put and staring at Ur-Nergal from across the white-painted steel lecture hall. As well as the lecturer’s hologram, who quite surprisingly was Jacqueline again. Normally she only answered questions and the like.
Ur-Nergal smiled as he took a seat in the exact middle of the lecture hall, forcing all those who feared him to find an uncomfortable spot near the edges, pushing the less powerful closer towards him. It was always amusing to observe them jockey for position, caught between fear and authoritative pressure.
Then he noticed Gartrix’hantallass’daumtrilldux and the accompanying merry band of kobolds, well, the ones who survived the ordeal in that cave a few weeks ago, nervously strolling over and taking a seat directly next to him. Ur-Nergal turned his head in a slow and exaggerated manner. “Aren’t you a bit too big to sit next to me, Gartrix’hantallass’daumtrilldux?”
“Oh. Oh – oh, dear. No, no, no, I have clearly underestimated the situation and wish to promptly flee. Grutak, you take over, you’re the captain!” Gartrix’hantallass’daumtrilldux grumble-whispered as he scampered away towards the wall, each footstep swiftly smashing onto the concrete floor and just barely missing each wooden chair.
Ur-Nergal smiled as he saw the little kobold approach with great hesitation. “Uh, h-hi, there, God of Death, oh, uh, great Lich King of Kur. I-it is Kur, right?”
“Yes.” Ur-Nergal slowly answered.
“W-we, uh, couldn’t help but overhear your conversation, w-with the humans. And uh –“ The little captain yipped.
“You were spying on me!?” Ur-Nergal asked as he rose from his seat and stared down at the kobold.
“WAH! Uh, n-n-no. I-I mean, y-you argue with them a lot, and y-you always argue quite loudly. W-we heard you were h-having some difficulty with your homework and we w-were wondering i-if maybe we could h-help you? A-and maybe you could h-help us?”
Ur-Nergal quickly looked around and saw Baldr staring back at him. Ur-Nergal quickly cast an anti-scrying spell, completely blocking out any potential Watcher Gods looking on. The vantablack barrier quickly surrounded him and the little kobold captain, who quite clearly was fighting the decision to stand still or to do something. “Talk. What kind of deal?”
“U-uh, well. W-we couldn’t help but notice y-you were really good at killing our e-enemies. A-and we also overheard t-that you were looking to make a deal with the humans t-to b-become a citizen again? W-well, we were trying t-to do the same, sort of. Basically w-we asked for a-asylum, but the humans told us that while we would be protected while here, t-they wouldn’t immediately g-go to war for us against the dragons. A-and we get that, y-you know? B-but m-maybe…”
“Maybe I would be more than willing to slay some dragons for you and rescue some more kobolds?” Ur-Nergal asked as he kept staring directly at the little captain.
Ur-Nergal thought it over for a short while, then decided. “Do you have lawyers?”
“U-uh, y-yes? O-only a f-few though. T-they’re p-p-pro b-b… they’re free ones, so they’re really busy.”
“You get free ones!?” Ur-Nergal shouted, causing the kobold to flinch and produce a small-sized sword that was aimed at Ur-Nergal’s chest. Ur-Nergal gave it a quick glance and pushed it away with some magical force.
“Doesn’t matter. Get your lawyers to contact mine, we could make a deal. And don’t threaten me again, kobold.” Ur-Nergal slowly said as he closed the distance some more. Close enough that he was sure the kobold could almost smell the dust that was baked into his petrified flesh. “And tell Gartrix’hantallass’daumtrilldux that he can help me with my math an hour after dinner time.”
The kobold visibly gulped as he slowly nodded. Ur-Nergal sat back down and dispelled the anti-scrying spell and saw the lecture was about to begin. He sighed, opened his satchel and grabbed his notebook. He sighed again when he realized it was already getting full and he was going to need another one so soon already.
 
 
SpecOps Commander Sam Robinson – The Valkyrie – Dimensional Plane of Arenal - New R.A.C.O Campus, Ringtown – 5 Years and 40 days since the Infernal invasion of Earth
 
“Alright, hope you’ve all had a good break, but it’s over as I’m going to continue now.” Jacqueline said as her hologram came back online.
To their credit, Sam watched the entire class shut up almost instantly. It was always intriguing to see them do that. They obviously weren’t used to humanity’s wealth of education in which it was mandatory from the ages of 4-16, and usually continued until at least 20 and could be pushed on as long as 36 for more specialized studies, not barring any delays from the student’s point of view. It meant that where humans may be completely jaded by it and would sometimes skip class or mess around a bit since they’ve been around their whole lives for decades on end, these people would the exact opposite.
They took everything seriously, paid full attention, often used the break to meditate or continue discussions, and in a supremely nerdy fashion, most had copied the exact way one of the introductory films showed them how to sit down, and use pen and paper. The giant ants, the formians, would even meticulously place their pencil down at the exact same spot every single time they didn’t need to use them.
“So, in the first half we discussed the prisoner’s dilemma. I’m not going to recap that, so I’ll just quickly ask, are there any questions about that?” Jacqueline asked, then instantly groaned as all 300 plus students raised their hands.
Jacqueline made a sour face, then shook her head. “We don’t have enough time to go through that many questions, so you can submit them all in writing and it’ll be answered later by my support staff.”
After some complaining noises, she was able to continue. “Alright, I guess no recap then. Though I have no doubt I will be able to answer some of those questions regardless as I’ll be going more into depth with some real-world applications.”
For once Sam wasn’t yawning through class. This stuff was actually interesting. She had it before of course, but a refresher was always nice, and getting to see non-humans react to it and come up with their own examples helped her understand them a bit better.
“Now, it does mean we’ll also be getting into a bit of economic and political theory, but I’m sure none of you mind. But, first off, raise your, uh, appendage, hand, or limb, if you’ve encountered or have known situations like these.”
Sam watched as everyone slowly raised their hands or equivalent thereof. “Excellent.” Jacqueline said. “That means you’ve been paying attention. Now, keep it up if you’ve also encountered zero sum games, or zero-sum outcomes, which is what we talked about in the beginning of the lecture, before we went to the prisoner’s dilemma.”
As expected, all the sort-of hands stayed up in the air. It wasn’t much of a surprise. Most of the Arenal civilizations were roughly between the High Medieval Era, and the Late Renaissance in terms of social and economic theory, while technologically they were a bit harder to classify, what with gnomes and halflings building crude magical golems and kobolds still living in the dirt, barely using iron tools.
And if you looked back at Earth in those days then the same kind of zero-sum situation existed on almost every level. Productivity and your ability to survive was tied to your land. More land meant you were a non-starving peasant, a rich baron, a powerful duke, or mighty king. And becoming more powerful meant getting more land. It was the main reason why the Conclave just didn’t understand how humanity was completely divided, yet supremely more powerful than they were. Well, at least as long as they still didn’t know they were beings made out of even more powerful tech than humanity had.
“Alright. Now I’m going to explain how this is no longer the case for humanity and that we live in a positive-sum game and that endless competition, rather than only destroying each other, can actually help everyone. To give a nice introduction, we’ve got a lovely video for you all.” Jacqueline said, prompting Sam to think about the U.N.’s strategy here. Were they trying to explain how they were all better off together, just in case the non-humans somehow figured it all out and took control of their superior technology and became a threat to humanity? Looking back, there were some massive changes in the curriculum that led Sam to having wildly different patrol schedules that she had to re-memorize, so it could make sense.
“Wait, what!?” Ur-Nergal asked as he stood up, half hunched over, with his head cocked sideways and his hands on the small table, like he was a child that just had his mind blown, prompting the rest of the students to either try and scamper away in fear some more, or furiously start making notes.
“++Hah!++” Sam said sub-vocally.
“++Aw, shit. Get ready.++” Vee replied.
“++What? The lich? Or something on campus?++” Sam asked as she immediately became alert and focused more on Ur-Nergal’s odd behaviour.
“++No, this is much bigger. Hold on a sec, it’s still incoming.++”
Sam waited for a few more seconds and as she stared at Ur-Nergal she realized that he was getting more confused, in his strange and undead ways. Sam looked at what he was looking at and saw Jacqueline exclusively paying attention to her own smartplug, that no one else could hear since she was in hologram form.
“I’m sorry but there’s been an emergency. Class is currently canceled for now. Just watch the video, prepare some questions if you have them, and we’ll reschedule the remainder of this lecture when I’m back.” Jacqueline said in rapid fashion and then shot an impatient look at Sam.
Sam only raised her eyebrows in return, not fully understanding what was going on. Just as she was about to ask, her helmet slammed down and with the metal clank still echoing, her HUD started firing single words in a rapid motion. This way the U.N. could minimize the risk of information leaking if there were Watcher Gods looking on. The special glass that made it so you could only see the HUD if you were in the exact position of Sam’s eyes, also helped.
Sam started doing moving back and forth, switching between the left and right ball of her feet as she read the incoming message. New orders. Unauthorized use of magic detected on Earth, N.Y.C. near U.N. HQ. Report to corvette UNSS Mt. Fuji, will land in 50 seconds on campus ground near sportsgrounds. Recruit Ur-Nergal, possibly in pursuit of target Liberator, require his expertise. Confirm order with Vee, she will coordinate. “++Order confirmed.++” Sam said as she read the message.
“Hey, stinky! We got a mission for you!” Sam said as she moved towards him.
“I really don’t appreciate that infantile nickname for me.” Ur-Nergal complained as he cocked his head from Jacqueline to Sam.
“Oh, I take you don’t want to go to Earth then?” Sam softly said, knowing damn well he was listening as intently as he could.
 
 
Mage Arundosar – The Bastard of Naumdal – Dimensional Plane of Arenal – On board UNSS Mt. Fuji, above Ringtown – 5 Years and 40 days since the Infernal invasion of Earth
 
“Alright, listen up!” The commander said loud and clear. “Ur-Nergal, you’re setting up a privacy spell, Arundosar, you make sure that it’s the correct spell. Then we’ll give out the orders.”
Arundosar nodded and paid special attention to the Death God as he, without even really trying, set up a perfect and very wide anti-scrying spell, so black that it sucked in the very light around it. It was easily large enough to take in all those present. Which was to say, the command crew of the corvette, the commander, lieutenant Jacqueline, the Death God, himself, about 9 more marines he had seen before by face but had never learned their names, as well as Vee who was here with about 5 suits.
“Dang, we should do this more often.” Commander Sam said as she looked around with an impressed look on her face.
“I’d rather not, it’s an annoying spell. Eats at my concentration.” The lich complained. “So, hurry this up.”
“Alright, we’re on a mission to hunt the Liberator.” Vee said. “Approximately 4 minutes ago one of our magic detectors went off on Earth, specifically near the U.N. Headquarters. As far as every member state has reported thus far, no one has any operations going on with magic users on Earth, at the moment.”
“Wait, others have gone to Earth before me?” The lich asked.
“Normally I’d insult you about that, but this mission is time-sensitive, so I’m keeping it for another time.” Vee shot back. “Regardless, since this is taking place on U.S. soil, we are not in command. Various United States military branches have already responded and have closed down the city. Their special forces will arrive about two minutes before us and will focus on apprehending the target and neutralizing it if necessary.”
Vee continued as the suit with the commander in it started pointing at the Death God. “We are here for two reasons. The first is to give magical support where necessary. That means that Ur-Nergal needs to do whatever spell he can to help us track and contain the magic user where necessary and defend us against mind-domination spells.”
The suit immediately changed its stance, slightly jostling the commander as the finger now pointed at Arundosar. “Wuh? What do I do?”
“You are here because Ur-Nergal is not a trusted asset yet. You need to keep a constant eye on him and if he does something that seems even the slights bit of iffy or strange, you tell us.” Vee answered.
“Oh? Or what?” The lich asked. “You’re going to blow me up with a nuke, while inside a city of yours?”
Vee stepped closer as both the commander and the suit took on an intimidating stance. “No. We’ll do something worse.” Vee answered. “You’ll become a persona non grata and we’ll never deal with you again.”
“Pfah, how is that a threat?” The lich asked. “You don’t even know my plans.”
“No.” Sam answered. “But we know you have them, and we can discern what your goals roughly are. Don’t see this as intimidation, see it as insurance. A test even, how trustworthy can you be?”
Arundosar briefly looked at the Death God himself and his horrifying visage. He slowly turned and looked back at Arundosar, the deep black pit of rotten flesh where eyes were supposed to be seemed to stare directly into Arundosar’s soul. For a brief instant Arundosar could feel the lich’s magical power. Dark in nature it wafted around like a poison cloud, choking every sense that Arundosar had.
The lich turned back to the commander, leaving Arundosar gasping for air on his knees. “Are you sure about this? He is still very afraid of me and wouldn’t be the most … objective judge I could have.”
Arundosar quickly put up his hand and coughed. “I-I can do it. Don’t worry about me, just … have to get used to it.”
The commander and Vee stepped back to the center. “Don’t forget Arundosar, we’re here to back you up.” Sam said.
Vee continued. “Alright. Also, important to remember, you are all to help keep an eye on the commander. We don’t want any shenanigans here, and this is also a trust exercise in your ability to keep her devil in check, lich.”
The lich grumbled. “I had better get my citizenship soon, these tasks are annoying. Are we done here?”
“Not yet.” Vee answered as the suit turned to the other marines. “You all have your own orders as well. The second mission objective is to ensure that the Americans don’t mess this up and are playing by the rules. They get to interrogate the Liberator first, but we are to make sure that there will still be future relations with the magic user and the U.N. to the benefit of all member states.
“Last thing, none of the warheads are coming with us, since we’re going into a civilian area. That means this is a real test, lich.” Commander Sam said as she nodded towards the Death God. “Alright, now we’re done. We arrive on Earth in 2 minutes and 15 seconds, you can drop the spell.”
 
 
SpecOps Commander Sam Robinson – The Valkyrie – Dimensional Plane of Earth – Underground Sex Club, Manhattan, New York City – 5 Years and 40 days since the Infernal invasion of Earth
 
“++Confirmed. Situation is under control. U.S. Command has granted you permission and will let you enter.++” U.N. Command said over the shared channel. “++New shared channels will open up with American Command and respective operators on the ground.++”
Sam briefly heard the chime and accepted the new channel. “++U.S. Command, operators, this is Special Operations Commander Sam Robinson, designation Valkyrie, along with 2 magical liaisons and 10 more marines from our 5th marines. Our intelligence officer is a VI, named Vee, she’ll parse and distribute any info we have and you send to us. We’ve landed on the helipad on top of the building. Permission to enter?++”
“++The Valkyrie? Damn, alright! This is Captain Samuel Melendez of the United States Army Special Forces, permission granted. You’re going to want to take the elevator down and hit the lobby, then follow the line of assholes down to the concierge’s room and get into the secret elevator. There is only one button to go down with, and I’ll wait for you there. Elevator isn’t great, so only 2 of you can go in at a time. Maybe the secret stairs are a better idea, those are in the supply closet, next to the concierge’s room.++”
“++Secret elevator? Secret stairs?++” Vee asked. “++What, to some sort of secret bunker or something?++”
“++Nah, this is much, much better.++” Samuel answered. “++Oh, and if you are on the rooftop, you might not want to take the elevator down to the lobby either. It’s an old-ish building so only 3 or 4 of you can come down at once, assuming your suits weigh 3 tons. I suggest maybe just flying down, but keep it slow, New York has anti-noise regulations and while we are exempt, we still want to keep a relatively low profile.++”
“++Roger that, coming down.++” Sam replied as she gave the order to every marine to fly down slowly through her HUD. She turned and looked at Ur-Nergal and Arundosar. “Alright, we’re flying down, the elevators are too small for us. Just follow us, alright?”
Arundosar nodded and eagerly followed the first few marines. But the lich stayed completely still, perfectly mimicking a grotesque corpse that was just left to mummify on top of one of the tallest buildings in the world. “Hey, I know you heard me! Let’s get going!”
Ur-Nergal held up a hand without even looking at Sam. Slowly he turned around in an almost meditative manner. Was he taking in the view?
“Oy, stinky!” Vee shouted. “This is a time-sensitive mission! If you behave and do as we say, you can come back later and enjoy it at your own leisure!”
“This… city is enormous! It’s magnitudes larger than Ringtown and every building… it is simply amazing. I can feel the age of the stone or steel from each one, like history shouting at me from every angle! And so, so many people, all still awake in the middle of the night, so many emotions from all of them! It is magnificent!”
“It’s actually multiple areas combined, that’s New Jersey that you are looking at! Turn right and you can see the rest of New York.” Sam said as she stepped closer to Ur-Nergal.
“Ah, is that where Selene was born? Truly, her tales do no justice to the sight before me!” Ur-Nergal said as he marveled at the urban sprawl at the back, contrasted by the neon lights in the front.
“Selene? Who is Selene?” Sam asked as she kept walking until she stopped right behind Ur-Nergal.
“One of his lawyers, profile says she lived right about there.” Vee answered as she pointed a finger roughly north.
“Where? Wait, where are you pointing? And what is that green rectangle in the middle here?” Ur-Nergal asked as he moved a bit closer to try and follow the finger. Sam obliged and walked closer as well, right up unto the ledge. She smiled as Vee pointed the finger down.
“Wha – “ Ur-Nergal briefly asked as Vee and Sam both simultaneously pushed him off the ledge.
Sam jumped after him and deployed her boosters to control her descent. “We’re on a time-sensitive mission here, you can go be a tourist, later!” She shouted after him.
Going down Sam could see a lot of siren lights illuminating the empty offices around her. It was around 10 pm local time, so there weren’t even that many overzealous office workers doing overtime either, which meant very few gawkers. Right before she landed at the bottom, Vee made her helmet opaque. “++Cops are keeping the journalists at a fair distance, but you never know. There might be someone with a very strong camera.++”
“++So, my privacy is more important than the fallout we’d get if a living mummy is seen walking around in Manhattan?++” Sam asked as she landed, her view blocked by dozens of big vans.
“++Meh, that’s not my problem.++” Vee answered as they turned around and went inside the building. Neo Art Deco art, which was a mouthful, was hung everywhere in the light brown marbled lobby, giving it a contrasting feel of modern and old. Dozens of police officers were keeping a watchful eye and whispered to each other as Sam walked inside with the other marines. When Ur-Nergal finally landed and walked in behind her, she saw a lot of nervous, fearful, and wide-eyed looks.
“It’s alright, he’s with us, we’re here to keep him under control.” Sam said as she pointed at the lich.
“Hey, stinky, maybe make yourself look more… alive?” Vee asked as the marines around her snickered and laughed.
“Calling me dumb names, caring more about frightening the peasantry around us, and pushing me off a building the size of a damned mountain, it’s all getting very tiring. Your tests are certainly intriguing but none of you will anger me enough for me to call it off. I am trustworthy and can keep my calm, I assure you.” Ur-Nergal said as he deliberately walked forward in a slow and exaggerated manner, looking each frightened cop or military personnel directly in the eye and slowly nodding, who all answered with open mouths and hands on their firearms or putting their suit’s helmet down.
“Calm? Aren’t you the one who keeps destroying our furniture and sometimes the floor whenever you’re too dumb to learn something back at the university?” Vee asked, clearly goading the lich as they kept walking and reached the back of the lobby.
Sam wasn’t sure about goading the lich here, in the middle of Manhattan, but she went along with it. She observed the lich’s mannerisms to try and see if she could learn more about his movements and behaviour, and perhaps understand a bit more what his goals or plans were, since that was what U.N. Command wasn’t fully sure on yet. She watched as the lich ignored Vee’s comments and instead seemed to revel in the attention, he was getting from the ground personnel around him. It was strange, he seemed to revel in the fear he was arousing in others, yet he hadn’t done anything with it yet. Was it just a personal fascination or was he holding something back?
Just as they were nearing the concierge’s room, she could see a change in the behaviour of the lich. After days of endlessly observing him and the small, staccato movements he made, she was slowly getting better at reading him and if she had to guess, it seemed like he was completely frozen in place. Something bad happened. “What’s wrong?” Sam asked as she marched back to the lich.
He turned and hovered off the ground. “He’s here!” In an instant he accelerated towards the door that had supply room printed on the top of it, and blasted through.
“++All marines, follow me! Lich recognized something!++” Sam ordered.
“++Coordinating with U.S. Command!++” Vee replied.
“++Arundosar, get your barrier up and follow us from the back!++” Sam added as she ran through the splintered door, past the dozens of water bottles and other items, and found a clearly marked and wide double-doored opening with stairs leading down, flanked by perplexed police officers.
“++Captain Melendez, one of our magical liaisons is inbound, going past your position, he doesn’t seem aggressive, but something is very fishy here!++” Sam warned over the shared channel.
“++The flying mummy!? Yeah, hard to miss! It seems to be going directly for the target we apprehended! Do you need us to block him!?++”
“++No need, he won’t do anything stupid, and if he does, you won’t ever deal with him again.++” Sam answered as she rushed down the stairs that made dangerous creaking sounds. She immediately took to hovering and ordered the rest to do the same and flew down. Going through another set of double doors that were decorated in red velvet, she entered a new lobby that was, well, filled with sado-masochistic imagery. Whips, chains, and photos of people in very compromising outfits and positions decorated the black and red marbled lobby, along with actual people who looked even more confused and on alert now that Sam was flying past and scorching the carpet.
Sam looked at her HUD and could easily follow the route he was taking in thanks to the intel that Vee was gathering from the many cameras of all the special forces in the building. She landed and started to run, going past dozens of rooms that at a quick glance were filled with either lavish beds or sex-dungeon materials. After a few seconds she reached the end of a long hallway and entered a massive room, that was filled with gold-leaf decorated leather sofas and small mini pools and beds.
“++Pretty sure this is an orgy room.++” Vee commented.
“++It definitely smells like one. Pfech, god, that’s awful.++” Sam replied as she slowly stepped further inside. In front of her was the lich, staring intently at a very frightened blond girl who looked far too young and pretty to be a customer, sitting on a very large dark brown leather sofa. She was wearing a tight and shiny black leather suit and was staring back at Ur-Nergal with tears in her eyes.
“Alright, uh, buddy? Undead… guy? We need you to back off now and stop intimidating the witnesses here. Alright?” One of the U.S. armoured suits said. Sam recognized the voice and rank and realized that was captain Melendez.
Ur-Nergal groaned. “We are not playing this damn game again. Change back.” He said with an almost tired sigh, directed at the frightened blond girl.
“I-I-I d-don’t know what you’re talking about! Someone, please help me!? I don’t know what to do! What’s happening!?” The girl screamed out.
“I’m not warning you again!” Ur-Nergal shouted as green flames started to erupt from his hands. Instantly, Sam shot forward and aimed her railgun at his head, along with every other exo-suit in the room. Another two jumped in front of the girl and raised their barriers.
“Stand down, now!” Melendez shouted.
“What the fuck are you doing? Put out those flames!” Sam added.
Ur-Nergal groaned loudly, then seemed to think the whole situation over for a couple of long and drawn out seconds, then lowered his hands and landed back onto the ground. “I am here to help you track and verify your target, yes!?” He said with a harsh undertone to his voice, turning around and putting his undead face directly opposite of Sam.
He slowly pointed a finger at the blond girl. “That is your target. Or at least, it’s not the liberator, but most definitely is the magic user here.”
“What? This is our target.” Melendez said as he pointed to a big and gruff looking Asian guy that was handcuffed and sitting on a different white leather sofa, flanked by four green berets in exo-suits. Then Melendez cursed. “Shit, I’m getting real sick of this magic shit! How are we supposed to be sure!?”
“++Arundosar! Get in here!++” Sam ordered.
“Oh, for – I don’t have time for such games!” Ur-Nergal shouted as he quickly flew up and flicked his wrist and shot a small green fireball at the blond girl, right past the barriers that the two armoured suits had put up. The green flame spread instantly, engulfing the girl and most of the couch. The girl let out a death scream as simultaneously dozens of weapons were aimed at the lich.
“Come on, brother, only you find this amusing.” Ur-Nergal lamely complained as he raised a barrier that deflected multiple incoming shots. “Stop acting.”
An icy cold shiver ran through Sam’s spine as she watched the burning body of the blonde girl rise up from the couch and began to shamble forward. A screeching and pained voice came from the still burning and melting face. “I live to serve, master!”
“Everybody, stand down.” Vee shouted. “His zombies and skeletons don’t talk.”
Sam, about to fire herself, turned her aim from Ur-Nergal and aimed it at the burning girl, and pulled the trigger. Half a second later and the bullet, heavily deformed, was spinning in front of an Asian man who looked to be no older than his late 20’s.
“Oh, shit!” Melendez shouted. “Hold your fire and re-target!”
“Mmmh. Such a powerful thing these modern weapons of yours. Well done you.” The man said, with a voice that was both smooth and flowing, while laced with an undertone of condescension.
“Everyone, this is my oldest brother.” Ur-Nergal said. “He is most definitely not your target, the Liberator.”
“Brother? You mean he’s like you?” Sam asked, hinting at his undead and immortal form.
Ur-Nergal scoffed. “Oh no, he’s the Absolute Worst being in all of existence.”
 
 
Next
Only good will come from a person named 'The Absolute Worst'.
submitted by Ma7ich to HFY [link] [comments]

The Big Yoink: A Smol Detective Story, Chapter 13

Standard Disclaimer: I do not take credit for the setting, this story is set in the They Are Smol universe, written by our very own u/tinyprancinghorse.
TPH has a Website, a Patreon, and also a Discord if you need more smol shenanigans.
The first Smol Detective story can be read starting Here.
There will be some spoilers/references of the first SD story in this one, so consider yourself duly warned.
___________
First Chapter
Previous Chapter
Next Chapter
In the previous chapter:
Bgrarh gets some Contraband.
Oscar has a Nice Suit.
Two words: Conga Line.
In this chapter:
Resh'skk does some Acting.
Sssnnathor serves up some Snacks.
The Silken Feather does a Clever Girl.
___________
The shuttle was due to depart in [six hours], which should give Bgrarh-of-Arhraz plenty of time. He checked for the hundredth time that his lab door was securely locked, then pulled out the unassigned terminal he'd managed to snag for this. The latter was just in case anyone tried to check the logs on his own 'official' machine. What he was doing was not strictly forbidden by the Inquisition, but it would be considered impolite and cause for censure.
If he got caught, Bgrarh figured he could spin a story of finding the media 'somewhere' and examining it merely to see if he could determine its origin. They wouldn't believe him, but they'd probably let his possession slide...especially if he let the hypothetical Inquisitor watch over his shoulder.
He took a steadying breath and popped in the first chip, then selected "Doctor No". Within a few scenes he'd gotten the gist of this [James Bond] character in spite of the poor quality and terrible dubbing. The Dorarizin had a similar fictional character, namely one Inquisitor Hrnarah. She traveled the galaxy with a blaster at her hip, ready to mete out justice and bed any comely males she came across.
But Hrnarah was also, well, a she. This [Sean Connery] person was as adorable as any [human], but he was also quite clearly male. And even though [Connery] walked with the standard wobbly, about-to-fall-over gait of a [human], there was a relentlessness to the way he moved that drew the eye.
The movie ended, and Bgrarh chose another at random. This had a different actor playing Bond, one who was less imposing but more debonair. The movie followed much the same formula as the first, which was something that [Bond] also had in common with Inquisitor Hrnarah.
As the movie played on, Bgrarh began to pick up on why [Oscar] suggested [Bond]. Whenever the man entered a room, whether it be a casino, a denpile, or a prison cell, [Bond] acted as if he owned that room.
Bgrarh stood and began walking about, picturing himself as a well-dressed secret agent who'd entered a dance competition as cover for some covert assignment...which honestly wasn't that far from the truth. As he did so, his nervousness about the upcoming performance began to fade and he knew he'd found the right personality to emulate.
Of course, there were certain things that Bgrarh was not going to emulate. He wasn't an expert on [human] mating customs, but he was pretty sure it wasn't proper to kiss [human] women without their consent.
Bgrarh chuckled. If he tried kissing the Captain without permission she'd bite his head off. Although now that he thought about it, the idea of kissing her with permission was very appealing. She was quite a handsome woman, after all. Yes, she was the pack leader and thus couldn't play favorites...but she was also a Dorarizin with needs.
Besides, Bgrarh knew his time of 'season' was approaching. Maybe this what the [humans] called a golden opportunity?
___________
In one corner of the hangar deck, two long and sinewy bodies coiled about each other. Each of them held a long needle-like sword in one hand, with the other clamped to their opponent's weapon-arm. There was much pained grunting as each strained to be the first to stab. Finally one of them managed to wrest her sword-arm free with a triumphant shout.
""
With that line Hrathra'sstah lunged forward as her prop sword did its job and buried its holographic blade deep into Resh'skk's chest. The ex-soldier clutched at the sword-hilt sticking out of his chest (which kept it from falling off), then groaned and toppled backward. His own weapon fell to the deck with a clatter.
"" he gasped in mock agony. ""
With a wordless scream, Hrathra leaped onto him and pushed with both her hands at the pommel of the fake sword hilt, acting as if she was driving the nonexistent blade deeper into his chest. At that cue Resh'skk bit down on the capsule hidden in his cheek, then let a little emerald-hued stage blood trickle out of the corner of his mouth.
He gave another groan of pain. "" he said in a stage whisper. Then Resh'skk slumped flat on the deck, staring off sightlessly into space.
After a beat, there was the sound of two small pairs of hands slapping together. It was a gesture of appreciation that Jornissians performed as well, and the sound made Resh'skk feel better about this whole nonsense.
"[Bravo!]" called [Maria].
"[Yeah, that was awesome!]" added [Oscar].
Resh'skk stopped playing dead and picked his hood up off of the deck. ""
"" said Hrathra'sstah. She still lay sprawled on top of him in a position that he would have enjoyed in other circumstances.
""
Hrathra'sstah pressed a finger to his lips. ""
"[And the villain always has to give a big monologue when they die!]" said [Maria]. "[It's a tradition even in [human] drama.]"
"" Resh'skk made as if to get up, but Hrathra didn't budge from her perch on top of him. He felt her tail-tip coil about his own. Ordinarily, Jornissians were a little less fussy about touching tails; it was just a consequence of their body type. But this was a more familiar gesture, one that close friends engaged in.
He glanced over and saw the two humans bumbling off. [Maria] had her hand on [Oscar's] arm as she steered him away from the Jornissians. His [human] friend had clearly picked up on the opportunity and was giving him the private space.
Resh'skk turned his head back to look up into Hrathra's red, gleaming eyes. His old fears returned. How could someone so smart and capable find anything of value in a broken down ex-thug like himself? But he had to try. He'd faced down pirates trying to carve out his intestines, he could face down this.
""
She raised one corner of her hood. "" But she did pick herself up off of him. Resh'skk rose, coiling his lower half below him in the Jornissian version of parade rest. He clasped his hands before him, while Hrathra'sstah folded her arms.
"" she asked.
""
Her arms dropped to her sides as she stared at him in shock. ""
Resh'ssk nodded. ""
Her next words struck him to the heart, an icy feeling far crueler than any stab.
""
Not a trace of his inner pain showed on his face as his clasped hands clenched ever so slightly tighter. ""
Hrathra cut him off with waving hands. "" She slithered back and forth in front of him as her gesticulating grew ever more dramatic. ""
Now it was his turn to interrupt her with a gentle finger to her lips. ""
There was one long moment of mutual staring, then she lunged for him again in an attack that he accepted with literal open arms.
What with their long and muscled bodies, Jornissians are the gold-medal winners of the four Senate species when it comes to dealing out hugs. With these two Jornissians doing their very best to embrace each other, and on top of that doing their very best to kiss each other into oblivion, the resulting tangle was something that would make even Escher throw up his hands.
In the middle of Resh'ssk's bliss, he heard again the sound of a human applauding. He peered to the side and saw [Maria's] grinning face. The [human] stood just out of easy tail-slap range.
After a little bit of complicated tongue-de-tangling, Hrathra'sstah turned her head as well to regard her protege. "<[Maria]?>"
"[Yeah, boss?]"
""
"[You got it, boss.]" [Maria] gave a wink to Resh'skk before strolling away. At any other time he would have found the little alien's cockiness infuriating, but right now he was too happy to be angry. He clasped Hrathra anew to himself and kissed her snout.
"" he asked.
Hrathra'sstah rubbed her hood against his neck. "" She grinned up at him. ""
___________
The sunlight fell like a velvet hammer onto Oscar as he stepped down from the shuttle. He felt sweat begin to pop out on his forehead, and wondered if his furred crewmates would suffer even more. He supposed that the heat made sense, given that a Jornissian owned this planet.
In front of the shuttle was a wedge-shaped formation of Dorarizin wearing full armor. Oscar had seen the pictures during the one time any Dorarizin set foot on Earth. Princess Gwe-Zgranzre-of-Ngrul's honor guard had been almost as armored-up as these guys. But where their armor had been brightly colored and ornate, this armor was sleek and functional.
The armor's visual effect was to turn the already-impressive figure of your average Dorarizin into what looked like a walking tank. The sleek, ovoid, and featureless chrome helmets of the retinue tilted down as one while they regarded Oscar. After a moment, the lead Dorarizin's helmet hinged up to reveal a white-furred face with deep purple eyes. He looked at Oscar for a few seconds, then over at the sphere of Junior which hovered next to the human's shoulder.
Oscar heard the noise behind him as the rest of the crew disembarked from the shuttle. He smiled as he tried his best to keep his heartrate down. Myyreh was at his back, but asking her to take out a werewolf in power armor would be too much even for her.
"Howdy, folks!" Oscar pointed at the lead Dorarizin's armored chest. "Um, are you expecting trouble?"
The lead Dorarizin smiled in response, showing a lot more teeth. "[Not at all. I know it looks like [overkill], but we have certain security protocols that have to be followed for all visitors. I'm Nerlharg-of-Aergh.]"
Oscar settled for a bow in lieu of shaking hands. "Oliver Ward, pleased to meetcha."
"[Likewise.]" Nerlharg looked up at the others. "[I bid you all welcome. Please, follow me. His Excellency was very insistent that he meet your group right away.]"
Oscar slung his bag over his shoulder. The concrete of the landing pad let to a loose gravel pathway lined with tall greenery which was nothing like trees. There was a clear lack of bark, plus the leaves had an odd earth-brown tinge to them. The plants did provide a good amount of shade, however, which gave Oscar some relief from the heat. Further inspection revealed a few tall rod-like structures scattered here and there among the growth; these rods emitted a fine mist of water which drifted over the pathway and provided further cooling.
Nerlharg noticed Oscar's inspection. "[His Excellency's species is better built to withstand heat, but he provides for his subjects.]"
"He sure does," replied Oscar. "I already get enough grief from my non-human comrades about my water usage, so I don't want to be sweating more than I need to."
Nerlharg gave his species' bone-buzzsaw version of a chuckle, but didn't otherwise comment.
The procession crested a rise, and Oscar saw a few buildings ahead. The architecture gave the impression of a high-tech Aztec city, with multiple stepped pyramids situated along either side of the central promenade. A profusion of more greenery overhung each 'step' on the buildings. Oscar wondered if this was proper Jornissian architecture or if Sssnnathor just had a thing for pyramids.
The prominade led forward to the largest pyramid by far, a huge building that rivaled that of any Egyptian tomb. A sloping ramp led up to an entrance that one could sling a starship through. The scale was such that even the giants around him looked small as they passed underneath that over-sized arch.
Oscar wondered about the point of such overkill. Was it to show off Ssssnnathor's wealth and power? The entire planet was proof of that. Perhaps it was more of a subtle warning to any who entered, a way to say 'however big you think you are, you're in the house of someone far more important'.
Whatever the reason for the grand entryway, the pyramid's interior space was even more grand. The walls were clad in white marble with gold trim; they followed the slope of the exterior, with a spiral ramp leading up towards the apex far above. More green vines hung from the edges of the ramp, giving the whole space the air of a slightly less tacky Las Vegas casino. Three large snake-like figures waited in the center of the space in front of a long table piled high with various dishes.
The middle Jornissian could only be Sssnnathor. Oscar half expected him to be clad in some sort of outrageous Ming-The-Merciless getup, but instead he wore a sober-looking 'suit' the hue of sun-bleached bone. The white color contrasted well with his black-and-blue scale pattern.
Sssnnathor's face was split in a wide smile, and he had his arms outstretched in welcome. The guards on either side, however, looked much less friendly, what with their armor. A normal Jornissian 'exo-suit' made them look like a long dakimakura-style pillow. But these guys were all hard edges and armor plating, fitting well with the look of the crew's Dorarizin escort.
Each Jornissian bodyguard cradled a massive rifle casually in one hand; Oscar figured he just might be able to pick one of them up if he used both hands and all his strength.
Sssnnathor's purr-hiss boomed over them all. "[Welcome! You are a pleasant surprise.]" He slithered forward, his silver eyes fixed on Oscar. The tyrant glanced over at Junior as he approached, and stopped at a respectful distance as he lowered himself to look the human in the eye.
"[I apologize for staring, but this is my first time seeing one of your kind,]" said Sssnnathor.
"No problem, Mr. Snape. I'm Oliver Ward." There was no way in hell Oscar was going to get anywhere near the strangled hiss-purr of Sssnnathor's true name. He hoped that the translator matrix was doing its job.
After another moment of fascinated staring, Sssnnathor nodded and rose higher. He gestured towards the table behind him. "[Please, eat and be welcome.]"
___________
After the (fake-name) introductions and hand-shaking, Captain Rgrarshok found herself munching on a bit of grilled glrnada while inside she wondered if this had been the right course of action. Her unease wasn't helped by the fact that Sssnnathor was parked at her right elbow with a calculating smile.
"[It's always nice to have new entertainment, Captain Rgratz,]" said the tyrant. "[But I can't help but wonder why you chose to bless us with your presence. With two [humans] in your company you would have the pick of engagements, yet you come to an out-of-Senate-space backwater like this.]"
Rgrarshok swallowed her mouthful as she prepped the cover story they'd cooked up. "{This is hardly a backwater, but it's true we could name our price. If I'm honest, Excellency, we're not exactly welcome in Senate space at the moment. And it has to do with the [humans].}"
Sssnnathor tilted his hood in curiosity. "[Oh, really?]" He turned to regard the two [humans], who naturally tended to stick together and now conversed in low tones while getting covertly studied by every other person in the pyramid. "[You didn't kidnap them, I hope?]"
Rgrarshok laughed. "{Far from it. Their placement on our crew was done through legal channels...except for the fact that we submitted two applications, under two different names. My XO cooked up the scheme, and I agreed. We thought it would give us a better chance of success.}"
Sssnnathor hissed a laugh of his own. "[I suppose it makes sense from a mathematical viewpoint. After all, the odds of getting a [human] are astronomical enough as it is. Let me guess...both applications were awarded?]"
The Captain gave a weary nod and a sigh. "{The first one was a moment of utter joy for us. [Oliver] was a wonderful addition to our crew, we were so happy...and then we got word of [Masie] coming to join us. I can't tell you how much dancing we had to do so that the auditors never caught the scent that we already had another [human] on board. But we managed it, somehow. Only then to realize we were faced with quite a conundrum.}"
"[Namely, if you performed in Senate space the odds were good that the placement program auditors would find out about your [double-dipping]. Hmm, well I suppose your embarrassment of riches is also our good fortune. Otherwise it might have been centuries before my poor little planet was able to host a [human].]"
Rgrarshok performed a slight bow. "{With your kind permission, we plan to perform many times on your planet. Of course, we'll also provide you with a free private performance if desired.}"
Sssnnathor tapped a finger against his chin. "[Hmm, I don't think a private performance is necessary. I do have a gala planned in three [days] time, one where I will show off my latest acquisition. Would you do me the honor of performing there?]"
"{We'd be happy to.}"
___________
Ngralh-of-Arzgar strolled through the sunlit bazaar. He had his paws clasped behind his back in a casual manner, but his eyes never stopped moving. Ngralh was enough of a student of history to know of the primitive conditions his species had once lived under, that era far back in the mists of time when they'd been bound to one planet.
His surroundings were not that primitive, but this was about as 'squalid' as one could get in a star-spanning civlization. The booths around him were formed of cheap and flimsy plastic, tinted with a hodgepodge of colors that stated louder than words that they'd been formed from castoff pieces. The wares emphasized hand-made tools and clothing, things that were just a little nicer than what one could get while on the dole.
The air was filled with the scent of grilling meat, something else that one couldn't get while on basic income. While the smell made his mouth water a little, he was going to have to give the food-sellers a pass. Dorarizin had pretty hardy metabolisms, but there was no need to risk food poisoning.
Due to the meeting with Sssnnathor, their investigation was now two-fold. First was the hunt for the 'Silken Feather', as they'd planned. But second was an attempt to find out exactly what the tyrant's 'latest acquisition' really was. Had the thief gone ahead and sold the Claw to him?
Either way, his job was to work towards the former goal. To that end, he was looking for someone to press ever-so-gently for information.
"[A pretty scarf for your lady friend, good sir?]" The chirping voice came from a hunched-over Karnakian who presided over a rainbow-colored waterfall of fabric. Ngralh gave her a cordial nod as he stopped strolling to look over her selection. Hmmm, that purple number might look good on Egwreh.
"{How much for this one?}" In the haggling that followed he allowed the seller to get a better deal than usual, figuring that this would put her in a better frame of mind for questioning.
"[Would there be anything else, sir?]" asked the Karnakian after he'd bought two.
"{Is this the only market around? I have some colleagues who might be interested in larger items.}"
"[This is the largest market in the capital, sir.]" She leaned forward as her crest rose. "[You're with the entertainers who just arrived, yes? The ones with the [humans]?]"
"{That's right. I'm surprised word's spread this fast.}"
"[There's always interest when [humans] are involved, good sir.]"
"{I understand. Do you get many off-world visitors? We're trying to determine how much new audience turnover we can expect.}"
"[A few every [month] or so. This planet is very welcoming to all, no matter their past.]"
Ngralh gave an embarrassed click. "{How, er, segregated is it around here? I only ask because some multi-species colonies can be rough; the locals can take it the wrong way if one goes walking through another species' section of town.}"
The seller waved one casual wing-arm. "[Oh, there's no such problems around here but I would be careful, since do have some minor criminals wandering about. The various races tend to cluster together to take advantage of any species-specific infrastructure such as plumbing requirements.]"
He smiled at her and gave a bob of his head to simulate a Karnakian farewell. "[Thanks, you've been very kind.]"
Thanks to a few more generous purchases and pointed questions, Ngralh found the Karnakian portion of town. If the "Silken Feather" was in civilization, chances are it was somewhere around here. It would be far easier for her to keep track of incoming and outgoing ships, plus she'd have a handy population of raptors to get lost in.
For sure she'd be wearing a disguise. Instead of scanning each individual Karnakian that passed, Ngralh set his implant to ping him if it detected anyone matching the body proportions of their quarry.
He spent another hour walking among the Karnakians, trying to look like nothing more than a ship-bound crew member anxious to stretch his legs. His scans of the crowd turned up empty, and after a while he started to wish somebody would try to mug him. At least it would break up the monotony.
Ngralh turned down a narrow and deserted alley with walls formed of the same cheap plastic sheeting used for the market booths. He'd made it halfway down when two feathered forms suddenly blocked the far end. He stopped and glanced over his shoulder...sure enough, two more blocked the way he'd came.
The front and rear pairs of Karnakians began to close in with slow menace towards him.
"[Four against one, furball,]" said one of them. "[Not good odds. Now why don't you just hand over everything in your pockets and we'll call it good, eh?]"
Ngralh shifted his weight so that he was balanced on his toes, then extended his claws. While he might not be death-on-foot like Myyreh, he was still an experienced peace officer. That fact evened the odds more than they realized. Once he'd given these guys a good thrashing, he could lean on them for some more detailed information. His ears swiveled back as he tracked the sounds of the two behind him. They'd probably rush him first, and so he kept his back invitingly open...
A strangled chirp-roar sounded from behind him. He spun himself sideways, careful to keep the front two in his peripheral vision. Both of the Karnakians behind him sprawled twitching on the ground, each wreathed in blue electric sparks. As he took in the sight there was a blur of motion behind to the other two...
They didn't even manage a sound before they too were down and out of any possible fight. Ngralh turned carefully back to face his would-be rescuer, a green-feathered Karnakian with a yellow band around her neck.
The Silken Feather.
She stood just out of easy leaping range. The thief had never laid eyes on Ngralh during her call to the Furious Call of Inquiry, so he figured he'd play ignorant and try to lure her closer. "{You have my thanks, friend. I don't have any money on me, but if you'll follow me back to my ship I'm sure my Captain would be happy to reward you.}"
The thief snorted. "[No games, friend. You know who I am and I know who you are. A mixed-race crew who also happen to have [humans] on board, showing up in a conveniently quick manner after I placed that call? The odds of that are astronomical. I guess you tracked me after all.]"
Ngralh took in a deep, irritated breath and then relaxed. "{All right.}" He glanced again at the sprawled, shuddering bodies around him. "{You still have my thanks.}"
"[Oh, it's my pleasure I assure you. I can't allow any of our brave Senate investigators to get hurt in the line of duty, now can I?]"
The XO chuckled. "{I wasn't in that much danger. So. How easy do you want to make this? I can tell you right now the Captain is not going to allow any sale.]"
"[I would reply that it's not up to her, is it? I think the Matriarchs' opinions would carry greater weight in this case. In any case, just know that I know that you're here and that I'm watching you. I'll be in contact soon to set up the sale. Do you still have that Galnet node of mine?]"
"{Of course. It's evidence.}"
She grinned wide. "[Of course. You police must always play by the rules, eh? I'm rather surprised you don't try to tackle me right here and now.]"
Ngralh tapped the side of his nose. "{It wouldn't do any good. I smell nothing but these four bozos, which tells me I'm talking to a hard-light hologram.}"
The Silken Feather bowed her head. "[Excellent, it's always a pleasure to deal with competent adversaries. I bid you a good day, sir.]"
The green-and-yellow Karnakian vanished, leaving a small metal sphere hovering in the alleyway. The drone fizzed while its internals fried, then fell to the ground with a small thud.
Ngralh blew out a breath that any onlooker would have taken as one of frustration. But then he smiled and touched his ear. "{Egwreh, Myyreh, you're up.}"
___________
The Silken Feather maneuvered down a neighboring alley, looking behind her constantly. It had been a risk to expose herself, but the chance to show these silly police that she was on top of things was too delicious to pass up. The following negotiations would have to be done with great delicacy; she had to conceal the fact that she no longer had the Claw, while keeping in reserve her knowledge of Sssnnathor's covert activities. The latter should act as insurance in the case that she wasn't able to retrieve the Claw.
And she would retrieve that which she'd rightfully stolen. Sssnnathor was not omnipotent, and her audacity would act as a shield. The aged fool would never imagine that she'd be bold enough to try breaking into his main palace. As her mind whirled, she peered around the corner and scanned her surroundings on instinct. She saw nothing, and so she continued on her way.
The Silken Feather trotted along while plotting and was still feeling quite pleased with herself when Myrreh-of-Relgreh's fist came out of thin air and connected solidly with her jaw.
___________
The Silken Feather came to and almost on reflex reached out mentally with her implant to trigger the protective mode of her clothing. All she received was the lurch of an unsuccessful connection, which then made her realize she wasn't wearing her own clothes anymore. All she had was a simple shift made of plain fabric to protect her modesty. Locked tight around her feathered body was a cage of hard-light which allowed her to breathe comfortably...and that was about it for any movement she could perform.
As the Silken Feather blinked and shook her snout, a warbling voice intruded into her aching head.
"[Ah, you're finally awake! Sorry about taking liberties with your person, but you had way too many little goodies hidden in your clothes. We couldn't let you keep them.]"
The voice came from a small figure standing in front of her. Behind that alien was a much bigger form that she recognized as Captain Rgrarshok. The huge Dorarizin stood with folded arms and a steady, unblinking expression that was somehow more fearsome than a snarl.
The Silken Feather focused all four eyes on the small alien in front of her. It was the first time she'd laid eyes on a [human], and for a moment she stared in wonder. As all the reports said, the little-needs-protecting had a soul filled with starlight, almost like a hatchling's but much more complex.
Then her discipline reasserted itself as she took quick stock of her surroundings. She was pinned in the middle of what looked like a hangar deck of some sort. That meant she was in space and surrounded by enemies. Not to mention tied up and completely unarmed. It was a bad situation, but she'd been in worse. The most important thing for now was to appear as if she'd given up.
The Silken Feather smiled ruefully. "|I congratulate you on your plan. It was masterfully done.|"
The [human] shrugged. "[We got lucky. We didn't know if you'd realize that we were the Senate team, but we had [Ngralh] followed just in case you followed him. You didn't just follow, you actually made contact. [Ngralh] sends his regards, by the way, and thanks you again for your help.]"
The thief slumped in her bonds. "|It was my pleasure.|" She stared up at the Captain. "|Shall we make a deal, or are you just going to skip right to the torturing?|"
Rgrarshok grinned. "[Your interrogation will begin now. Go ahead, [Oscar].]"
The computer-generated cage around The Silken Feather shifted, moving her arms apart and exposing more of her keeled chest. She felt a moment of panic as the [human] wobbled towards her. Was he going to pull out a knife and start cutting on her?
The Silken Feather's shift didn't quite cover the front fluff of her chest, and as he reached her [Oscar] pushed aside some of the fabric to expose more feathers. The somewhat intimate act shocked her. She'd heard that [humans] would mate with just about anything, but surely he wouldn't resort to...that against her will?
Without a word, [Oscar] smashed himself face-first into her fluff like a nestling seeking warmth. The sensation created an automatic maternal response in The Silken Feather, causing her feathers to expand out.
"[Where's the Claw?]" asked Rgrarshok.
The thief tried to focus, but it was hard with a soft and warm little sapient doing his best to make a bed out of her chest fluff. "|Eh? Oh, that old thing? Who knows? Maybe I know, maybe I don't. You'll have to...oh...make it worth my while to...care...|"
"[Ah, you're expecting to make a deal with us?]"
The Silken Feather tried to focus, but [Oscar] was still squirming around against her chest. Her bound arms twitched...she wanted to hold the little alien in the worst way...
"|Wouldn't you, in my situation?|" she responded. "|After all, the [Claw's] location is the only bargaining chip I have right now. You must be mad if you think I'll give that up without at least an offer of amnesty.|"
{Oscar] let out a little warbling hum and reached out with both tiny hands to get a good grip on her chest fluff.
The act almost made The Silken Feather miss the Captain's next statement. "[And you must be mad if you think we'll let you go without having the Claw safe in our possession.]"
Any further strategy fled right out of her head. What was wrong with her? She was a ghost, a free soul, she was afraid of no one and wanted nothing more than lots of covert bank accounts stuffed full of credits. Now all that she could think of was the need to grasp this little being close to her, to build a nest and keep him safe and warm. The feeling was worse than any pain or injury.
"|I...well, that is...|" She shook herself and glared up at Rgrarshok. "|I have rights under Senate law! This treatment can't be legal!|"
Rgrarshok unsheathed a claw and held it up to her face. She inspected it closely as she spoke. "[What would you have to complain about? True, we have you bound at the moment but that is merely for our protection. Are we mistreating you in any way?]"
"|You know damn well what I mean...erg...can you tell him to stop squirming?|"
"[Tell him yourself.]"
The Silken Feather looked down at the little creature moving against her. "|I know what you're trying to do. It won't work.|"
"[What do you mean?]" asked [Oscar]. "[I'm tired and need a nap.]"
"|I just...please...|"
Rgrarshok chuckled. "[You know, if you wish to claim rights as a Senate citizen you'll need to tell us who you really are. It seems you've done quite an admirable job in throwing us off of your true scent.]"
The Silken Feather gritted her teeth. "|I will never tell you!|"
Rgrarshok waved her hand in a 'there it is' gesture. "[Then I guess you'll have to put up with [human] interaction. [Oscar], give me a call when you wake up and we'll continue.]" She started to lope away, only to be stopped by the Silken Feather's plea.
"|Please, no. I'll propose a deal. You release me and then I'll tell you where the Claw is.|"
"[You tell us where the Claw is and then we'll release you,]" replied the Captain.
The Silken Feather shook her crest. "|No. You can put an implant in me to track me if you like, but I won't tell you a thing until I'm out of your custody.|" She knew she was technically savvy enough to defeat any possible tracking they'd put in her, since they'd certainly try to capture her again after finding out the Claw was now in Sssnnathor's possession. After her release, she could then steal the Claw back from Sssnnathor as she'd planned. True, having the Senate team breathing on her tail would put a bit of a time constraint on things, but she was capable enough to pull it off.
[Oscar] abruptly let go of her floof and wobbled away back towards the Captain. "[She doesn't have the Claw. Not anymore.]"
Rgrarshok stroked a thoughtful claw along her chin. "[Agreed. She gave in far too easily.]"
"|What nonsense is this? Of course I have it! Not on me, obviously, but I have it stashed in a very safe location! One that you'll never discover unless I tell you. Release me and you can go get it yourself.|"
The pair of peace officers stared back at The Silken Feather for a moment.
"[If she'd sold it to [Sssnnathor], she would've been long gone with her money,]" said [Oscar].
"[True,]" replied Rgrarshok. "[So he must have found out somehow that she was here. The fact that she's alive means that he didn't get his claws on her directly. However he found out, the Claw is now in his custody.]" Her purple eyes stared steadily at The Silken Feather. [Isn't that right?]"
"|I'm not saying anything further,|" replied The Silken Feather. "|You may as well go ahead and torture me. Or whatever that was your [human] was doing.|"
[Oscar] gasped in mock horror. "[Me? Torture? No, I wouldn't dream of harming a single feather on your crest. But there are a few [Karnakians] on board whom you've wronged either directly or indirectly. I'm sure they'd be eager to...discuss...their grievances with you at great length.]"
"[Or we could just leave her tied up somewhere on the planet,]" said Rgarshok. "[Perhaps we should drop an anonymous note to [Sssnnathor] telling her where she is? Only in the interest of making sure she doesn't come to harm, of course.]"
"[Of course!]" said [Oscar].
The Silken Feather sagged once more, this time in real defeat. She had but one bit of leverage left to play. "|We can still make a deal for my release,|" she said.
"[With what information?]" asked Rgrarshok. "[If [Sssnnathor] has the Claw I'm sure you have no idea where he's hidden it. That's something we'll have to figure out.]" The Captain sighed. "[I'll bet this party of his is for showing off the Claw.]"
"[I'm not taking that bet,]" said [Oscar].
The thief shook her crest. "|I'm not talking about the Claw's location. I'm talking about [Sssnnathor] himself. He's up to something. Whatever it is involving cloning.|"
Rgrarshok placed a paw over her eyes. "[Of course he is. By the First Pack, I need a vacation.]"
submitted by Frank_Leroux to HFY [link] [comments]

betting systems, just puts more money on the table and therefore increases a player’s expected losses. As expected, the Martingale and other risky betting systems showed adverse results. Players often deviate from their strategies, forfeiting a portion of their advantage back to the house. Whether it be overzealous betting, or ultra- The latter is the safest of these betting systems because you don’t increase your bet as much following losses. You can also make long-term profits with betting strategies if you’re skilled enough. These strategies include value betting, using the Martingale in skill based games, and wagering on No. 12 seeds in March Madness. In five minutes, you could be using the same techniques, betting strategies and card-counting secrets that blackjack card counters have used successfully for years to take millions of dollars home from major casinos. Playing with perfect strategy is key to beating the house. It’s especially important when playing online blackjack. Different types of mathematical systems and betting strategies. Labouchère system The Labouchère system is used mainly in Roulette and has to be applied to even money Roulette propositions such as Red/Black, Even/Odd etcetera. Unlike basic, universal blackjack strategies or basic strategy, betting systems are constructed more out of following patterns rather basing moves on mathematical probability. Before we examine the most popular blackjack betting strategies, there are two main types of blackjack betting systems which each strategy can be defined by.

[index] [7554] [12311] [13024] [7743] [3462] [1222] [14787] [2721] [6367] [7797]