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Welcome to Gettysburg (Day Three)

Day One Here
Day Two Here
JULY 3RD
A FEW HOURS AFTER MIDNIGHT
The night fighting on Culp’s Hill was slow and torturous. The Confederate assault from Johnson’s division had to cross rough terrain and a river before it even started going uphill, which at night was an incredibly miserable task even without Union troops firing at them. Union skirmishers played hell with their progress, and after brushing them aside, Johnson bumped into a defensive line that his Union counterpart Geary had spent all day perfecting.
As mentioned yesterday, their only success was to grab tiny footholds on the Union side of Rock Creek, which ran between the two hills.
As the fighting died away and the bone weary soldiers on both sides crashed asleep hard, Lee plotted. He smelled blood; on July 1st, they’d carved up the Union men good and drove them from the field. Yesterday, on the Union left, they’d wrecked a Union corps under Sickles, smashed into the Union center and almost broke it (damn those blue belly reinforcements showing up in the knick of time), and even gained a toehold on the Union right. The men’s morale was high. Lee decided to repeat yesterday’s plan, but better executed. Simultaneous attacks on both flanks should overwhelm them, and J.E.B. Stuart could make it up to all of them by chasing down the shattered Army of the Potomac to scoop up all the heavy guns and supplies and wounded that could not retreat rapidly. To which end, Lee sent Stuart on a super wide flanking attack around the Union right so as to be in position to strike at the right moment. Lee generated the orders in written form and sent them off by messenger to his corps commanders.
Meanwhile, Meade had another war council face to face with his generals. They decided to stand pat, to neither attack the Confederate positions nor retreat back towards Washington. The terrain massively favored them and Lee would (more likely than not) walk into their gunsights again.
A defensive stance, however, doesn’t mean pure passivity. A few hours after the Confederate assault petered out and Lee’s decision was made, the Union started a counterattack on a small scale.
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DAWN
At dawn, the Union right flared up. Fresh troops had marched in overnight and Meade wanted his damn hill back. The extreme end of the Confederate left flank (which is of course opposite the Union right) found itself getting hammered in front of Culp’s Hill by artillery from the Baltimore Pike. Clearly, such a bombardment was meant to be followed up with an assault to retake the bridgehead.
Johnson, having received his orders from Lee and being under the impression that Longstreet was attacking in tandem a mile and a half away on the other side of the hills, attacked Culp’s Hill again before the Union could attack him first. The plan was what the plan was; pressure here, successful or not, was needed for someone to break through somewhere. But Longstreet wasn’t attacking. Later on, Longstreet would claim to have never received the order to advance, but the sources I have assert this is untrue- he received the order, he just didn’t do anything about it. Instead of spending the night getting his troops on line to attack Little Round Top and the southern chunk of Cemetery Ridge, he just sat tight and did nothing. Oceans of ink have been spilled over the years speculating as to why. The Lost Cause narrative asserts that Longstreet was a Yankee-loving turncoat who deliberately sabotaged Lee’s plan and lost the battle on purpose. Others think that Longstreet's conviction that attacking here was insane and that they should fall back and look for battle somewhere else on more favorable terms had been strengthened by the results of July 2nd, and as such was dragging his heels trying to not attack again. Or maybe it was just the general haze of Civil War era incompetence taking its toll again.
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MORNING
As Johnson’s men gamely attacked the untakeable Culp’s Hill and were cut down by accurate rifle fire and close range cannon fire, Lee hunted down Longstreet to demand an explanation for his borderline insubordinate refusal to attack.
Longstreet pitched his idea again. He’d spent all night scouting the Union line. The enemy line was unbreakable. They shouldn’t try to attack them here. They should slip around the Union left, south of Big Round Top, to threaten the Union supply lines. Do that, they would make the Union respond to them, fight them on more equal terms. That’s the plan Longstreet had been preparing for all night, not a suicidal-
Lee cut him off with a raised fist. There would be no tricky maneuver around the flank. They would assault the Union line under the present conditions.
To the north, Johnson was still getting his teeth kicked in. Lee sent orders to call off the assault, but it would take a while for the messenger to get there and for Johnson to get word to his brigades to stand down and fall back. Meanwhile, across the way on Cemetery Ridge, Meade stalked his line, double checking all the positions for any confusions or errors to correct, emitting confidence and good cheer.
Lee scoped out the Union center personally, being in the area anyway. His complex double flanking maneuver wasn't working. A new plan was needed.
Lee figured that Meade had reinforced Little Round Top and the surrounding area yesterday, and that those troops hadn’t gone anywhere since. The Union defense at Culp’s Hill has been similarly fierce that morning, fierce enough to threaten Johnson with an offensive. If both flanks were strong... the center must be weak. Yesterday, a small Confederate brigade had crossed the Emmitsburg road under fire and smashed into the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, just south of Cemetery Hill. They had straight up routed the enemy- had there been more men available to back them up and follow through, that small brigade might have won the battle outright instead of being pushed back as they’d been.
Lee was satisfied. The Union center was brittle, undermanned, and the best point to hit it was at that same place.
Meanwhile, J.E.B. Stuart was stepping off on his flanking ride.
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LATE MORNING
Johnson’s last big push up Culp’s Hill was heroic. By that time, all of them knew how strong the Union position was. They surely walked into this with their eyes open.
A three brigade front set up for a shock attack, backed up by four more to exploit the hoped-for opening. Among them was the famous Stonewall Brigade, Jackson's old unit that he’d raised up and trained personally before being tapped for higher command. The Stonewall Brigade was, arguably, the elite of the Confederate army. The year before, they’d outmaneuvered and outfought a Union stab at Richmond coming through the Shenandoah valley.
The charge was cut down and butchered like all the others, and Johnson fell back.
Williams, whose batteries on the Baltimore Pike had kicked things off that morning, got a little overexcited and counterattacked without orders. His orders to attack the Confederate flank left his subordinates sickened with dread, but were obeyed nonetheless. Once the Union counterattack was butchered in retaliation by the entrenched Confederates, combat on the Union right ceased after six straight hours of gory, hopeless combat.
Meanwhile, Confederate artillery under the command of Colonel Alexander set itself up on a mile wide front, all carefully sited and positioned both for protection and for good lines of sight on the Union center. A brief but fierce artillery duel kicked off as each side tried to knock out the other’s firing points before the big moment, but was soon cut off to preserve ammo.
Lee mustered his available forces, bringing in troops that were only now straggling in and combining them with some units that had fought the day before. It was a haphazard and frankly half-assed piece of staff work- veteran units who hadn’t fought at all in the last two days were left in reserve, while exhausted troops who’d already suffered 50% casualties were included. Many of the brigades who were to charge Cemetery Ridge had green colonels in charge because their generals had been killed or wounded the day before. The gap between the northern half of the assaulting force and the southern half was four football fields long, and nobody seemed to notice or care. The division commander to lead the north side of the assault, General Pettigrew, was selected not for any rational consideration or advantage, but because he happened to be standing nearby when the decision was being made. Longstreet, who by this point wanted nothing to do with any of it, was placed in overall command. It took a few hours to organize this clusterfuck into something resembling a coherent unit- three divisions spread over a mile wide front, with Pickett on the left, Pettigrew on the right, and Trimble behind them to provide some depth to the big push.
There is no particularly good reason why the upcoming Pickett’s Charge is known as “Pickett’s Charge”. Pickett was not actually in charge of it, or even in charge of most of it. He was a division commander who had never seen proper combat before- in every battle since 1861, his unit had been held in reserve or absent. This was to be his first chance to get in this war. I suspect it’s known as Pickett’s Charge because he and his men were Virginians, and it was fellow Virginians who would pour over the battle to find out why the wrong side won. Accordingly, they conceived of it as being a Virginian affair, overshadowing the Tennesseans, Alabamans, North Carolinians, and Mississippians who formed the other two-thirds of the attack.
I was surprised to learn that we have a hard time figuring out how many men were actually involved in Pickett’s Charge (this being a basic narrative history, I am sticking with the common name for it despite the inaccuracy); I attribute this to the confusion involved in organizing it. I’ve heard as low as 12,500 men and as high as 15,000. I’m going with 14,000 men because it’s a nice even number that is approximately midway between the upper and lower limit, so don’t mistake my choice as being accurate or even evidence-based per se. Regardless, the agreed upon number of Union defenders is 6,500. The Confederates would outnumber the Union by about 2-1 or greater at the point of contact.
These days, a lot of people show up at the battlefield and stare out from Cemetery Ridge at Spangler Woods where Pettigrew would have emerged from (or stand in Spangler’s Woods and stare out at Cemetery Ridge, same difference) and wonder what the hell was going through Lee’s head. The ground there is now flat and devoid of cover, the exact kind of terrain that time and time again had proven to be a death sentence for infantry assaults. The answer is that the ground changed between 1863 and today. Just before World War One ended in 1918, the field over which Pickett charged was artificially flattened for tank training. Before that, it was the kind of rolling terrain that Buford’s skirmishers had exploited on day one- an observer from a distance would see the troops disappear and reappear as they went over and down each gentle slope. The 14,000 attackers would have some cover as they advanced- not perfect terrain to keep immune from artillery and bullets, but not explicit suicide either.
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EARLY AFTERNOON
By 1 PM, Alexander had his guns set up the way he liked them. What followed at his command was the single largest coordinated artillery mission that the Western Hemisphere had ever seen.
In the south, cannons at the Peach Orchard suppressed the Union firing point on Little Round Top. All along Seminary Ridge from whence the charge would spring, cannons lined up practically wheel to wheel for a mile, aimed at wrecking Cemetery Ridge.
Longstreet was in what you might call a high stress kind of mood. He was having second, third, fourth, and fifth thoughts about attacking, but orders were orders and he was in charge of this damned charge. As the guns began their bombardment, Longstreet did something that frankly goes beyond the pale of any command decision I’ve ever heard of. The film Gettysburg and the novel it’s based on cast Longstreet in a very sympathetic light, as a kind of deliberate pushback against the reductive myth that Longstreet was personally responsible for losing the battle and by extension the war, leaving Lee off the hook to stay firmly in the saintly canon of the Lost Cause. But here, Longstreet indisputably abdicates any pretense of the responsibility of command.
He fired an order off to Colonel Alexander, telling him:
If the artillery fire does not have the effect to drive off the enemy, or greatly demoralize him, so as to make our effort pretty certain, I would prefer that you should not advise General Pickett to make the charge. I shall . . . expect you to let General Pickett know when the moment offers.
Allow me to reiterate in case you were reading this on autopilot. Longstreet, the man in charge of the whole offensive, was telling a lowly artillery colonel that the decision when and if to attack was on him and no one else.
Alexander was a subject matter expert on artillery and not infantry for a reason. This order hit him from out of left field. He wrote back for clarification, and the professional in him mentioned that since the plan is to use every single artillery shell they can spare, if there is any alternative plan to charging Cemetery Hill at the end of the bombardment then they’d better tell him before he runs out of ammo.
And Longstreet reiterated his first order. He told Alexander to advise General Pickett whether or not to attack. And with that on his shoulders, Alexander gave the order to open fire.
All told, somewhere between 150 and 170 guns opened up at the same moment. The 75 Union cannons they had on hand briefly engaged in counter-battery fire, before being ordered to go quiet and save ammunition for the infantry assault to come. For about an hour, the Union troops just had to sit still and take what the Rebel had to give them.
What Lee was doing was classic Napoleonic tactics. Massing artillery against the weakest point on the enemy line was literally by the book soldiering. The problem, as was noted here before, was that technology had changed. Napoleonic could bring his cannon close to the frontline with the reasonable expectation that they wouldn’t be shot, since smoothbore muskets are basically harmless from 200 yards away. But that was no longer the case. The long stand off distance that the enemy rifles dictated meant that the cannonfire was proportionally less accurate and devastating. The smoke covering the field concealed the truth from the Confederates- their artillery fire was off. Most of the shells flew high overhead and exploded behind Cemetery Ridge. Some shells hit the target area- Union men did die screaming by the score. But the positions on Cemetery Hill were only lightly damaged, and the units manning them were intact and cohesive. Most of the damage done was to the rear echelon types- surgeons, supply wagoneers, staff officers, that kind of thing. Such men were massacred as the shells aimed at men a quarter mile away arced over and found marks elsewhere. Meade, of course, was on hand, showing a brave face and cracking some jokes about a similar moment in the Mexican-American War 15 years back.
Throughout the hour, as his line endured the steel hailstorm, Meade’s engineer mind was working. He’d already suspected that Lee was about to hit his center- he’d predicted as much the night before- and now the shot placements confirmed it. He was already ordering troops into position, getting ready to reinforce the line on Cemetery Ridge if needed. He hedged his bets, putting them in a position to relieve Cemetery Hill as well, just in case. Little Round Top became somewhat less defended as men marched out, using the high ground to mask their redeployment.
Irresponsible and insubordinate though Longstreet was at that moment, he was right. Lee’s improvised plan had already failed, though it hadn’t happened yet. Pickett’s Charge wasn’t going to slam into a fragmented and demoralized Union line. It was heading into a mile long, mile wide kill zone backed up by a defence in depth.
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Pickett’s Charge
Confederates were getting mangled before the charge even started. Union artillery fire reached out and touched out them in Spangler’s Woods, rolling solid iron shot and explosive shells into their huddled ranks.
Longstreet rode the line, exposing himself to the artillery fire to set an example of courage. The men didn’t need such an example- or rather, they’ve seen such examples in a dozen battles over the last two years and have already learned valor as a second language- but there’s something to be said for showing the groundpounders that their boss is in the wrong end of the shooting gallery the same way that they are.
Just before 2 p.m., Alexander decided if it’s gonna happen, it’d have to be now. He needed at least a small reserve of shells to function after the battle and he’s running out fast. He dashed off a note to Pickett telling him to step off. In keeping with the standard of Confederate comms thus far, Pickett then took Alexander’s note to Longstreet in person for confirmation, because nobody had told him that Longstreet was trying to dodge the responsibility of command.
Longstreet was desperate for an out, and in one crazed leap of illogic he thought he found one. Alexander was low on shells, with only a tiny reserve of ammunition left over for self-defense! Longstreet issued orders to halt in place and delay some more, so that they could replenish their ammo chests from their strategic reserves.
I really feel for Alexander, man. I've had bosses like that too. Alexander had to break the news to Longstreet that there was no strategic reserve, he already told him, they were shooting every round they got. Longstreet was shocked- apparently nobody on Lee's staff had been paying attention to how fast they'd been burning through their artillery rounds. (Meade's staff paid attention to such banal details- that's why they now had tons of ammunition standing by their guns on Cemetery Ridge, patiently waiting for something valuable to shoot at). Even then, Longstreet couldn’t bring himself to actually say the words to order the attack. He just nodded, mute and numb.
At 2 p.m., the attack started. 14,000 men rose up and walked forward, a giant line of infantry one mile across. In lieu of specific instructions about where they were going and how to get there, the order was to aim for a copse of trees on the objective- an easy visual marker that was easy to remember. As long as you kept the trees in sight and kept moving forward, you were right.
(Miles and miles away, J.E.B. Stuart’s flanking maneuver was being countered by an equal force of Union cavalry. Their clash had one of the few cavalry-on-cavalry battles of the Civil War; fun fact, this was one of the fights that put Custer’s career on the map, until getting killed off by the Cheyenne at Little Big Horn 13 years later. The battle was intense, but a draw; Stuart couldn’t break through. Even if Pickett’s Charge worked, there’d have been no way to follow up and finish Meade off for good. Lee’s plan was well and truly fucked.)
Things immediately stopped being clean and neat, as per the usual. The center of Pickett’s Charge sprang up and walked before the flanks did, but the brigades on the south and the north of them set off late, leading to a kind of droopy effect where the center bulged out unsupported.
When the Union soldiers manning Cemetery Ridge saw the Confederate advance begin, they began to chant “Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!” Just a little “fuck you” from one set of veterans to another; at Fredericksburg eight months before, Union General Burnside had ordered several such suicidal attacks on prepared defenses which the Confederates had gleefully blasted into chunky salsa.
70 odd guns opened up on them all. To give a sense of the skill involved, the artilleryman in charge of the Union guns, Colonel Hunt, had written the book on artillery- literally, because his work Instructions for Field Artillery was the go-to manual for the US Army- and at West Point had personally taught most of the Confederate artillery officers across the way everything they knew about the big guns. One must not mistake this as just plopping down the cannons and pointing them in the right direction. Hunt was an artist with his weapon systems, and the pattern of explosions that snaked into the advancing infantry had been painstakingly designed by a master craftsman.
At the distance of a mile, it was iron shot and shell that carved bloody little holes into the line. The Confederates took the beating, closed ranks, and pushed on. On the south, the cannons on Little Round Top delivered particularly hideous effects from the flank, driving their line into disorder; some brigades cut in front of other brigades, and what should have been a line became a muddled column. On the north, a brigade under General Brockenbrough bumped into a small detachment of 160 Union men who were jutting out north of the road. The Union men fired a small but devastating volley that raked them from the side and broke their nerves. Brockenbrough’s men ran- the first to break, but not the last.
Similar small detachments of skirmishers dotted No Man’s Land between the armies. Between their vicious little ambushes and the massive shock of massed artillery, Pickett’s Charge slowed down. Slowing down just left them in the kill zone for that much longer.
When Pickett’s Charge reached the Emmitsburg Road, they were further delayed by the stiff fencing that lined it. As they clambered over it, Union infantry opened fire at long range. The casualties skyrocketed as the Confederate line absorbed the fire. If you want to know what it was like under fire, picture the start of a rainstorm. The water droplets go taptaptap tap taptaptap taptaptaptaptap taptaptaptaptap taptap taptaptaptaptaptap taptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptap... that's how the survivors described the musketry that pelted the fence they were trying to climb over. One small contingent of Davis’ brigade (you recall how roughly they were manhandled on July the 1st) accidentally got ahead of everybody else and found itself standing right in front of the Union line all alone. The guys closest to the Union defenses surrendered as one; the rest got shot up bad and ran for their lives.
Pickett’s Charge was pure chaos by then- their mile wide front that had surged forth from Spangler’s Wood had shrunk down to about a half mile, partly from taking casualties, partly from brigades running away after the shock of massed fire, and partly from bridges shifting north away from flanking fire from their right side.
From the fence line on the Emmitsburg to the stone wall that protected the Union defense was about two hundred yards. This is a long shot for a rifle, especially under pressure- that’s the whole point to volley fire, so that everybody shooting at once will create a sort of probability cloud of danger even at long range. Some Confederates, desperate to hit back after enduring hell, shot anyway. Their fire was ineffective. It is a very, very short shot for an artillery piece, even under pressure. A battery of cannons placed just behind the Union line switched to canister and blasted massive bloody holes in the bunched up Confederates.
A lot of Confederates huddled up behind the fencing and stayed put. It is marginally safer than moving two feet forward past the wooden railings, and the spirit had been knocked out of them by the mile long charge and the mile long shooting gallery they’d been subjected to. The left side of the attack had been stopped dead and turned back; the right side pushed on, disregarding any thought but closing distance. 1,500 men blitzed those last 200 yards to the stone wall
Scores of them died from rifle fire as the cannons reloaded.
The surviving Confederates, running on pure adrenaline, reached the stone wall at a place called the Bloody Angle. The Union line was disjointed, with the Northern section slightly back from the southern section. The Angle was the little joint that connected the two walls; it was also right by the copse of trees that everybody was racing towards.
A fierce firefight broke out once the Confederates reached the wall. Most of them stayed behind the wall; like their buddies to the west still behind the fence on the Emmitsburg pike, they’d finally found a few square feet that was sorta kinda safe, and every instinct they had in their brains screamed at them to stay there. The Union troops were outnumbered at the point of impact, and backed off in good order.
Reserve regiments were already marching up to plug the gap that didn’t exist yet. Units north and south of the Bloody Angle shifted in place to fire at the beachhead. Behind the Confederates on the Angle, there was a small ocean of blood on the ground and a mile long procession of silent, mangled dead and writhing, screaming wounded... but no follow on reinforcements to help exploit the breakthrough.
General Armistead, the only Confederate General there still on his feet, still believed in all that chivalrous Walter Scott romantic nonsense, still thought that raw valor and heart could somehow beat a superior enemy. He stuck his hat on his sword as a makeshift battle flag and rallied his men to leave the safety of the Bloody Angle and close distance.
Just as the pitifully few Confederates got on the east side of the wall, the cannons shot canister again and puked metal death all over them. After shooting, the artillerymen ran back to safety before the rebels could stagger up to them.
Hundreds of men surged forward by inertia; hundreds out of the 14,000 that they’d started with. They drove off the understrength Union regiments with the bayonet and capture those hated big guns, turning them around to use against the inevitable counterattack. This failed; there was no more ammo left for the guns. Colonel Hunt had measured out the number of rounds needed for the job at hand with the utmost precision.
The counterattack was messy and bloody for everybody involved, for the brawl saw everything available used as a weapon- bullets, bayonets, rifle butts, pistols, knives, rocks, boot heels, bare hands. But the Confederates all just dissolved after a short while. Nobody ordered a retreat; nobody was alive and of sufficient rank to order a retreat. Thousands just plopped down where they stood and waited for Union men to come out and collect them. They were too numb and exhausted to walk anymore. Others streamed back to safety in ones and twos.
For every Confederate who died, four more were maimed and crippled. For every wounded man, another was taken prisoner. It was an unmitigated disaster for the Confederate cause, and correspondingly it was a triumph of humanity as the stalwart defenders of the slave plantations died in droves. Remember, like I said, we’re rooting for the Union.
The battle wasn’t over, not really. Not was the campaign. But it certainly was decided.
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RIGHT SO
Interestingly, at first it was kind of ambiguous who won.
Meade got fired from the job after Lee got the Army of Northern Virginia home intact. Lincoln was seething that Meade hadn’t shown some aggression and had failed to destroy Lee’s army as he had been ordered. Meade, however, didn’t have much of an army at that point, just a diverse collection of units that had suffered 50% casualties and were in no condition to do anything. Moreover, there had been no way to bring the retreating Lee to battle without taking a lot of risks that might see all the good done at Gettysburg undone. Still though. Meade was out, and Grant, riding high after his conquest of Vicksburg, was in. Lee initially claimed victory in the Richmond papers, and it was hard to gainsay him at first. He had indisputably invaded north and thrashed the living shit out of the Army of the Potomac so bad that they could not invade again in 1863, which was indeed partly the point of the strategy.
But soon the facts of life made themselves clear. Lee had holes in his ranks that simply could not be filled anymore. Southerners didn’t want to die in a losing war, and coercing in them into the ranks through State violence only gave him shitty recruits who would desert the second they were put on guard duty. In contrast, tens of thousands of men poured into training depots across the nation, all armed and clothed and fed by the grandest industrial base in the world. Thousands of experienced veterans re-upped their contracts in Gettysberg’s wake to become these new recruits’ NCOs and commanding officers. Lee has gone north to break the will of the Union to continue the fight. Gettysburg had, if anything, demoralized the Confederacy and reinvigorated the Union instead. I do not believe that Gettysburg started this trend, but I do think it sped it up significantly. Patterns that might have taken a year to come to fruition instead took months.
Gettysburg, in my opinion, is significant not because of any great gains or losses on the material level, but because of its effects on the minds of voters and soldiers and politicians in the North and the South. To crib C. S. Lewis really quick, what matters was not whether a given action would take a specific hill, or seize a certain road; what matters is whether a given action pushes people to either dig their heels in and seek victory at any personal cost, or whether it pushes them to back down and seek a safer compromise. Gettysburg pushed all of the American people in the directions they were already heading down, that’s all. Any conclusion beyond that is on shaky ground, I feel.
Having said that, I shall now irrationally contradict myself; Gettysburg can also act as a Rorschach test with symbols and images and stories in lieu of the ink blots. Like I said, it’s a place of religious significance to me to an extent far beyond appreciation for its historic value.
I just don’t think it’s possible for that many people to die in such a short period of time, in so compact an area, and with such blunt contempt for the foreseen probability of violent death, and not leave an indelible and ineffable mark on the land itself. Like, if humanity went extinct and Earth got colonized by Betelgeusians a hundred years after, I am certain that the aliens would somehow feel a chill in their exoskeletons when they walk over the soft leaves and through the bare trees of Herbst Wood, or tromp around the south side of Little Round Top, or poke about on the steep slope of Culp's Hill, or splash across the Plum River in the Valley of Death.
I’m not saying I’m right, of course. But I am saying how I feel.
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When The Pigs Scream

I’m used to late nights. My job means a lot to me, so obviously I want to keep it and that means putting my all into it when things get busy. If that means I get home at 9 or 10, then that’s fine. Success has a price.

I’m hardly a workaholic. Actually, my Dad always thought I was a lazy fucker. But then again, he told me I’d never graduate High School, then that I’d never finish College and then that I wasn’t going to be able to hold down any of the jobs I got after College, so it shows what he knows.

Speaking of my Dad, I didn’t mind the late nights so long as it kept me away from him. I still lived at home and I was saving up for my own place although dealing with my family while I saved was nothing short of a waking nightmare. So much negativity and constant criticism… But I digress. Working late was good for me. Usually, the traffic wasn’t too bad on the way home either. I could breeze down the highway like it was no big deal with my music turned up loud. I kinda preferred that to the ridiculous traffic I could have faced if I’d left at 5. I was heading into Cambridge and that drive was over 2 hours on a good day. Rush hour in Toronto is a form of torture and anyone who says otherwise is a fucking psychopath. The 401 isn’t so much a means of transportation as it is a glorified parking lot/circle of hell. The point I’m trying to make is - Traffic at 10 at night isn’t normal, but that’s where it all started.

It was a Friday night. I was looking forward to a quiet weekend of playing Xbox and sleeping in. I’d done my due diligence. Now it was time to relax! But there I was, an hour out of work and stuck on the 401, somewhere between Hamilton and Milton. My maps app said there’d been one hell of an accident up ahead. It must’ve been something legendary to completely shut the highway down at that hour. I don’t know if anyone got hurt but at that hour, I didn’t fucking care. I’d been going since 7 in the fucking morning. This was 10 in the fucking evening. You do the math!

I was exhausted. I was ready to doze off at the wheel and traffic was going so slow that I just knew I was going to be there all night and I was not having it, no sir! When the going gets tough, I get off the highway. There was an exit up ahead, I couldn’t tell which one it was in the darkness but I figured I could work around it. I knew the back roads of the area pretty well and I knew I could find my way home. Some people say back roads only slow you down. Maybe they’re right. But they give the illusion of speed and sometimes that’s just what you need.

So I turned onto the back road. It was pitch black and I didn’t see any signs that told me where I was but it was better than being stuck in traffic! I checked my phone, and after seeing no turns off the road I was on, I zoomed out and started plotting my route home. I knew my Maps app would just tell me to take the dreaded U turn back onto the 401 and I wasn’t going to do that. I figured out what my next few turns should be and I just kept driving.

I’d noticed the tire pressure light was on while I was on the 401 but I’d figured I could deal with it when I got to Cambridge. I didn’t imagine it was that big of a deal. I probably shouldn’t have hedged my bets on that.

When my tire blew, I was in the middle of nowhere. The street I was on didn’t even have a name. It had a 6 digit number and I don’t even remember what the number was. I felt the rear drivers side tire go as I drove. I felt the dead weight behind my car and I heard the sound of busted rubber being dragged behind me. I had no choice. I had to pull over. When I got out of the car, I could smell the burnt rubber. The tire was done. There was no coming back from that kind of damage. I checked my phone.I had about 3% battery that was fading fast, no backup plan and no idea just where the hell I was. I wisely wasted the last of my battery trying to figure that part out before I called 911 and then I was just flat out fucked.

I stood there for a few minutes, in the dark, holding my dead phone and contemplating the questionable choices that had led me to that situation as I mulled over my options. I checked my trunk and took out my jack for the first time only to find it rusted to shit. I made an attempt to use it on my car but I’d never actually changed a tire before and the jack just flat out would not budge no matter how much I tried.

The only other option I had was to find a stranger. Either someone else would use that road or someone lived nearby. I had passed some lights from dark houses on the road so at least that gave me some hope. Looking around, I was sure I could even see some distant lights.

My eyes took a bit of time to adjust to the darkness but I was sure that just a bit further down the road was a field with a house in the middle of it. There were a few exterior lights on. Enough to give me an idea as to where I was headed. Considering that I didn’t exactly have a lot of other options, I got to walking.

Slowly I drew nearer to the distant house. I heard the grass rustling beneath my feet and I heard animalistic grunts nearby. Pigs from the sound of it. That was hardly surprising. I was out in the middle of nowhere. I was probably visiting a farmer. The grunts sounded… off, I suppose? I was sure they were pigs but they didn’t sound quite right. Then again, I barely knew the first thing about pigs so I was hardly in any position to judge. I spotted a dark shape in the distance and I figured that was a barn of some sort. Obviously that was where the pigs were.

If anything, I figured the presence of a barn and pigs was a good thing. Someone would almost certainly be in the house and they’d be able to help me! This was exactly what I needed! My pace picked up as I approached the house. I could see just a little bit more of it. It was big, at least two stories and one of the lights illuminated a quaint wooden porch.

As I stepped up onto the porch, the wood groaned underneath my weight. The brick exterior of the house was dark, almost black and looked a bit grungy but I wasn’t exactly bothered by it. Beggars can’t be choosers after all. I knocked on the door as loudly as I could. Whoever was inside was probably asleep. I was actually kinda surprised when I saw a light go on upstairs. I’d expected it would take a bit more effort to rouse whoever was inside.

In the silence of the night, I could hear movement inside the house. I thought I saw a shape in the window, looking down on me before vanishing. For a few more moments, all was quiet… Then I heard the click of the lock behind the door. It opened only a crack and the man on the other side peered through it at me. I didn’t get a good look at him, but I could smell the alcohol on his breath.
“What do’yuh want?”

His voice was deep, raspy and mistrusting.
“I’m sorry for waking you, sir!” I said. I used my best customer service voice. “My car broke down a little ways down the street. My phone is dead. I was wondering if I could use your phone to call for a tow?”

The man behind the door leered at me, weighing my words before he scoffed and pulled the door fully open. He was massive, standing a full head taller than me. He was wider than me as well and had a wild, untamed beard that covered most of his face. His hair was long and fell down to around his waist. He would’ve fit right in with ZZ Top.
“C’mon in. Phone’s in the kitchen.”
“Thanks so much, sir!”
I didn’t want to let his generosity go to waste. I stepped inside and let him lead me to the kitchen.

His house had seen better days and looked as if someone had started building the interior but never finished. Some of the walls were bare down to the joists. Drywall was torn off in some sections, revealing pink fiberglass insulation underneath. The hardwood floor was scuffed and covered in muddy boot tracks. It wasn’t outright filthy. But it was run down. The kitchen was arguably the nicest part of the house and even that was far from perfect. The sink looked like it belonged in a laundry room, the wooden counters were marked with scratches from being used as cutting boards. The fridge and oven were both ancient. It was all as clean as it could get but it still looked like shit. I didn’t complain though.

The phone was, unsurprisingly, an old rotary phone. The man picked it up off the hook and without saying a word or asking me a question, began to dial a number.
“Are you calling CAA?” I asked.
“Won’t do you no good out here. Got a local friend. He’ll get’cha goin’ again.”
I opened my mouth to protest but thought better of it. Car help was car help, right? As the phone started to ring, the massive man pressed it to his ear.

“Scott. Sorry to wake you, boy. It’s Jonah Prase, out at the pig farm. Got a feller here who’s having some car trouble. Was wonderin’ if you might be able to make it down to take a look…”
I heard a voice respond to him as the man, Prase gave a solemn nod. He glanced over at me.
“I got ‘em right here. Lemme put ‘em on…”
He offered me the phone and I took it. The voice on the other end belonged to someone closer to my age.

“Evening, stranger. Mr. Prase says you’re having car trouble?”
“Yeah, My name is Liam Harper. I was on my way home and I blew a tire. I’m parked on the street. Any idea how soon you can get someone out to take a look at it?”
“Not until mornin’, I’m afraid. I can swing by first thing, though. Help you get everything all set up. You got a jack or a spare?”
“I’ve got a spare. I need a jack.”
“Got’cha. I’ll get it taken care of. Don’t you worry.” The man replied. “I’ll be out at around 6, give or take a bit.”
“Are you sure you can’t send someone out now? It’s kinda an emergency!”
“Son, I am the someone. I’ll be out at six so hold tight.”
That was not the news I wanted to hear but I got the feeling that it was the only help I was going to get. I muttered a begrudging thank you before they hung up.

Prase stared down at me intently, silent and with an expression I couldn’t read.
“I don’t suppose you have a spare room, do you?” I asked. I felt kinda embarrassed asking a complete stranger for this but it’s not like I had much of a choice.
“Got a couch. It’ll do.” Prase replied and I wasn’t in any position to argue with that.

The couch was an ancient, flannel thing that sagged from years of abuse from the massive Mr. Prase. It wasn’t the most comfortable place I’d ever slept but I was still happy to have it. Prase hadn’t had anything I could charge my phone with so that was going to have to wait, but I could live without it. The quilt he gave me was hand sown and warm and there was an old throw pillow I could rest my head on. Shitty as my day had been thus so far, I felt like this was the best possible ending I was going to get. I’d catch a few Z’s and be on my merry way in a few hours when the mechanic stopped by. I was tired enough that the lumpy couch didn’t keep me from sleeping for long and I drifted off in Prase’s bare living room.

It was the slam of the heavy door that woke me up. It took me a moment to figure out just where I was. My mind was groggy and disoriented but I could hear the heavy footsteps of Prase outside the window and I saw his shadow move past it. I sat up, rubbing at my eyes. I instinctively checked my phone for the time but it was still dead. Some time had passed though, since the sky was starting to light up. It wasn’t dawn. Not quite yet. But it was getting there.

I absentmindedly wondered if Prase had any coffee and if he’d be good enough to share it. Then the distant squeals of pigs stole my attention away.

The pigs… I’d forgotten about the pigs.

Pig squeals were not the most pleasant sound at any point but these seemed a lot worse than any squeals I’d ever heard before. There was a genuine sense of panic in them. A fear that I could feel in my core. There was something about it that seemed almost human… It sent a chill through me.

It occurred to me that Prase was doing more than just feeding his animals, and I suppose that meant that bacon was probably on the menu for breakfast. I liked bacon. I just didn’t like listening to it scream as it was killed. I stayed in place, listening as the pigs screamed before I stood up and went to the window.

In the light of the early dawn, I could see the barn I’d passed the night before. Prase was out front and trudging back towards the house. He had something slung over his shoulders although it was hard to tell for sure just what it was…

At first glance I thought it was a pig but the shape of the body was all wrong. It was too narrow. The limbs were too long. I wondered if maybe it wasn’t a dog or something, but… No, it was too big to be a dog. A deer perhaps? The limbs looked too thick to be a deer and the head wasn’t the right shape. As Prase got closer to the house, I almost could have sworn that what he was carrying was a person!

My heart seized in my chest, just a little bit as he disappeared around the back of the house. Through the thin walls I heard a door opening somewhere. Possibly a cellar door of some sort. Sure enough, the heavy footsteps and the creak of stairs confirmed that Prase was going downstairs. I heard the rattle of something that sounded like a chain before Prase ascended the stairs again. Like clockwork he headed back outside to the barn. He was probably getting another pig, or… whatever it was he’d brought in.

There was no way it could have been a person, right? I’d heard the sounds from the barn! Those were pigs! I was sure that those were pigs! Was I sure? I’d never actually heard a pig squeal in real life before, and even then those squeals had sounded off. It was a crazy idea! It made absolutely no sense! But Prase was headed back over to the barn. I was sure I could find a way downstairs and see just what it was that he’d brought down…

What harm could it do, right? It was just a quick look.

I turned away from the window and started searching for a basement door. It didn’t take me that long to find one. The stairs were bare wood and there was a nasty, rotten, coppery smell coming from down there. It was faint but present. Still, I walked down those creaking stairs.

I saw another set of stairs leading outside in a corner and I could still hear the screams of the pigs. The air was cold, colder than the rest of the house. This basement had been better maintained than everything else. It was insulated, there was a large room with two chest freezers in it and metal hooks hanging from the ceiling. From one of those hooks hung a shape.

The body was too narrow for a pig. I was right about that, but it wasn’t quite human either. The lights were too dim to tell exactly what I was looking at. Blood pooled on the floor from the creatures fleshly slit throat and I recognized what seemed like a porcine hoof at the end of one lifeless limb. This thing was far bigger than any pig I’d ever seen. It was about as tall as I was, had smooth and leathery skin and a distorted body that sent an uncomfortable chill through me.

Gingerly I reached out to touch the thing that hung from the hook. Its body turned, revealing its twisted face, and I’ll never forget what I saw. The eyes were still open and they seemed human, as did most of the face… Most of it.

The ears were long and piglike, as was the nose which elongated into a piglike snout. The ‘hoof’ of the thing had human fingernails. Its limbs were bent and distorted. I couldn’t imagine that the creature had been capable of walking in life but then again, all of my logic told me that this kind of creature should not have been! It was a defiance of nature itself!

I felt myself starting to retch as I recoiled from that hideous, hybrid creature. My eyes were wide in shock and disgust and I nearly tripped over my own two feet. Then I heard a low, deep chuckle from the stairs in the corner.

“Snoopin, are we?”

I spun around and was greeted with the looming shape of Jonah Prase. Another human/pig hybrid was draped over his shoulders and he dropped it unceremoniously to the ground. Blood pooled from the fatal gash in its throat. The body twitched and the eye fixated on me in its final moments. I heard a weak wheeze escape the corpse but that creature was beyond my help!

“W-what the fuck is this?” I stammered. Prase stood ominously before me, grinning from ear to ear as if he was proud of the horror show he’d kept down there.

“Meat.” He replied. “Let’s just say the folks in this little community have a very particular taste… Wouldn’t do for too many passers by to go missing, no sir. So I worked out a little alternative… Pigs fill in the gap just fine. Similar taste. Easy to breed and crossbreed.”

I felt sick to my stomach and I recoiled back a few steps. Prase advanced on me slowly. He loomed over me like a monster and I knew there was nothing I could do to get away from him.
“Now, ya understand if I can’t let ya run ‘round willy nilly. This here is a private business. Wouldn’t do to have trade secrets out. But don't you worry… Liam, was it? Don’t you worry, Liam… I’ll take good care of you. You’re gonna make an excellent sire. Gotta keep the gene pool fresh, after all.”

He grinned as one heavy arm shot out towards me. I tried to run but Prase was faster. He caught me by the shirt and dragged me over to the freezer room. With what felt like no effort, he tossed me inside. I crashed against one of the chest freezers and before I could stand, he’d closed the door in front of me and locked it tight. I kicked at it. I felt it shake but it didn’t budge.
“Hold tight, boy. Get comfortable. I’ll deal with ya when time permits. Scott’s still on his way, ain’t he? I’ll have a word with him ‘bout your car first. Get it towed down to the shop. He’ll take good care of it.”

Prase chuckled, then I heard his heavy footsteps stomping away as he turned and headed back to work. I listened as he strung up another hybrid carcass on a hook, then as he climbed the stairs once more and closed the storm door. I was alone in the basement now, with only the smell of rot and decay to keep me company.

As time slowly drifted by I could hear Prase moving about the house above me. His thundering footsteps shook the roof above me. The stink of decay that lingered in the air was almost overpowering and it burned my nostrils and as I sat in the dark. I had no idea what was waiting for me. Prase had used the word ‘sire’ and I wasn’t too keen on thinking on the implications of that.

In the low light, I could see that unlike his upstairs, Prase had taken better care of the rooms in his basement. The unpainted drywall was newer than its upstairs counterparts, but the job that had been done on this room was still half assed at best. There were still missing panels that exposed pink fiberglass insulation. I remembered that there was still more drywall on the other end of that insulation… That said, I also knew I could break said drywall, as long as I got the insulation out of the way. I'd heard it wasn't wise to touch fiberglass insulation bare handed but my situation was a little dire, so an exception could be made. This room was not meant as a prison. Not long term, at least. Prase must have had somewhere better to hold me, but for now he was preoccupied. The tow truck I’d called was still on its way. He’d need to deal with that first and then I knew I’d have my window.

If I just started attacking the drywall, I knew he’d hear me and he’d stop me. My timing needed to be perfect.

I tugged a bit on the drywall in the room with me. I felt it give, just a little. With a bit of effort I was able to pry it away from the wall, exposing more fiberglass underneath. I didn’t need a large space. I figured I could fit between two joists. All I needed to do was clear out the fiberglass.

I heard a knock on the door above me and paused. Prase’s heavy footsteps shook the ceiling above me as he went to answer it.
“Scott, right on time.” He said. His booming voice was softer and more welcoming than it had been before.
“Mornin’ Mr. Prase. Your guest still around?”
“In the basement. Seems he’s become a bit of a more permanent resident. I’ll be moving him to the barn shortly. Get some use out of him before I decide what to do with him.”

Prase let out a chuckle that sent a chill through my spine. I was quietly thankful that I hadn’t called out for help the moment Scott had arrived. Prase was clearly feeding the community with those… things…
“Smart man! You sure he’d secure down in that basement, though?”
“I ain’t worried about it.” Prase said, “We’d hear it. Besides. Storm doors locked. We’re up here. No way out. What I am worried about is that car sitting in the road.”
“Don’t you worry, sir. My Brother’s hitching it to the truck as we speak. We’ll be off shortly. Still, it would be remiss of me not to pick up a little somethin’ for supper. My wife’s been fixing for some of that pork tenderloin you serve.”

Their small talk was a blessing in disguise, honestly. Prase was distracted and I had a chance to move. The fiberglass was itchy and uncomfortable against my skin but I didn’t have much of a choice but to grab it and pull it out by force. I could see the drywall on the other side and I ignored the burning itch on my hands and arms to throw my weight against the drywall.
“Had a feeling you’d ask for that. Got a bit in the fridge from my last pig. Tell you what, it’s on the house. My thanks for getting rid of that car.”
The drywall shifted but didn’t break. I’d been hoping to avoid loudly punching through it but that really didn’t seem like an option. I knew that Prase would hear me and then my goose would be cooked… Although…

Prase had been stringing up those pig things down there. It stood to reason he also was butchering them down there too. Maybe he had a knife or something I could use! I knew I’d only have a minute or so at best. Not a lot of time to grab a weapon but it would make getting out of that fucking house a lot easier!

I inhaled before I took a few steps back and charged at the wall. The drywall broke this time and I clumsily collapsed through it.
“The hell was that?” Prase snapped. I could hear his footsteps above me. He was coming for the basement.
I picked myself up and stumbled over towards the hanging carcasses. I saw a workbench nearby and what looked like a leather case that I presume held some knives.

Prase was at the top of the stairs. He was coming down and fast! I ran for the case and threw it open. Sure enough, there were butchers knives in there that gleamed in the darkness. I snatched one up and turned just in time to see Prase descending the stairs. He surveyed the damage I’d done with minor annoyance.
“Suppose I should’ve put you elsewhere.” He murmured. “Still, you ain’t got nowhere to run, boy. Put that knife down before you hurt yourself.”
“Fuck you!” I snapped. I held the knife in front of myself defensively but Prase hardly seemed intimidated. He advanced on me slowly, as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
“Them knives are expensive, boy! Put it down!”
In an instant he was on me. I tried to swing the knife but he carelessly knocked it out of my hand and launched it across the room. With one meaty fist, he sent me down to the ground.

“Boy you’ve monopolized more of my time than I am comfortable with.” He growled. I tried to pick myself up but he grabbed me by the back of the shirt and tossed me towards the hole I’d left in his wall.
“I suppose it’s my own fault. Should’ve planned for somethin’ like this. Should’ve… But didn’t… Ah well…”
I looked at the fiberglass I’d torn out of the walls. It wasn’t so much a plan as it was a really crazy, half baked idea but I didn’t have a lot of options. Prase was advancing on me again. The floor shook with his every footstep.
“Live and learn.” The man grunted.

He bent down to grab me again and as he did, I grabbed a handful of fiberglass. In one fluid motion I stuffed it into his face. Prase let out a frustrated cry and stumbled back a step. I kicked out a leg and sent him tumbling to the ground with a mighty crash. I grabbed more of the torn out fiberglass. Even though it stung my hands, I had a feeling it hurt his eyes even more and I was more than happy to crush it onto his face. One of his massive arms swung and struck me in the head, knocking me aside as Prase clawed at his face.
“Fucking hell! Jesus, fuck! Scott!”

I could hear footsteps on the stairs and I saw a scrawny looking man race down the stairs. He froze at the sight of Prase writhing on the ground ripping fiberglass off his face and he didn’t do much to stop me as I hurried to my feet and ran for the stairs. I bodychecked Scott against the wall, stunning him just long enough for me to get past.
“Scott! Go get ‘im!” Prase yelled but by then I was most of the way up the stairs and back in the main part of the house.

I burst through the front door and into the morning sun. I could see a rusted tow truck by my car, down the road. I did consider trying to steal the tow truck but Scott’s brother was still there. By the looks of it, he was a lot bigger than I was and I was out of tricks.

There was only one place to go. In the daylight, I could see a forest behind the long metal barn. It was my one chance at escape and I took it. I took off at full speed towards the woods and I made it halfway across the field before I heard the crack of a rifle.

I glanced backwards to see Prase storming out of his house, gun in hand and taking aim at me. He’d missed his shot, but I wasn’t going to count on that happening again. The barn was closer than the trees and I ran for it. If nothing else, it would offer me some shelter from the lunatic with his rifle!

The agitated cries of the hogs barely registered to me as I bolted towards the barn and through the open door of it. I didn’t think about what would actually be in that barn… Not until I was actually inside. I’d seen pig farms on TV before. Industrial looking buildings with metal bars keeping groups of pigs separated. The inside of the barn I was in was a lot like that… But those things in the cages… Those things were not pigs, not entirely.

Their eyes were the part of them that were the most human. Looking into them, I saw recognition and understanding. I saw sentience. They regarded me with a mortal fear that I understood all too well. The sight of their warped, distorted bodies made me sick. A few of the healthier ones limped to the edges of their cages to look at me. Many others simply laid still, waiting for merciful death.

In the barn I could hear their squeals and screams. I’d noticed there was something off about them before… Now, I could finally put my finger on it. These screams were distorted and sounded almost human. I thought I heard fragments of human speech in there but I wasn’t sure. If these creatures were even capable of speech, they probably had never been able to truly learn it.

There couldn’t have been more than 40 or 50 of the creatures but that was still far more than ever should have existed. They looked at me, silently begging me for salvation but that wasn’t something I could offer them. I knew Prase was coming and I didn’t have much time. I forced myself to keep running down the single aisle in the center of the barn.

I was no more than halfway through the barn when I heard their squeals intensify. I knew it was Prase even before I heard the gunshot.
“Get back here you little motherfucker!” He snarled.
The center aisle was no longer safe. I was a sitting duck. I only glanced back quickly to confirm that Prase was lining up his next shot before I leapt into one of the cages.

The hybrids recoiled from me at first. Prase fired his gun in the instant after I hit the ground. I could hear his thundering footsteps following me. Glancing at the bars, I saw that they were narrow enough for me to slide through. The hybrids were too wide for them, but I was not.

Staying low, I slipped through the bars of the first cage and crawled frantically to the bars of the next one. The hybrids watched me suspiciously but they did not interfere. If anything, they kept their distance.

“Where in the hell are you?” Prase screamed. From the sounds of it, he was close and I didn’t know how much longer I could keep running! His footsteps got closer as he stormed down the aisle and I paused, not wanting to move or risk attracting his attention. I glanced at the door of the cage and spotted the latch for it. It was a simple sliding latch. Prase hadn’t locked it. The hybrids didn’t have the kind of hands that could open such a latch anyways. But I did. I shuffled towards the front of the pen. Prase had slowed down, checking each pen for any sign of me. He was only a few feet away.

I slipped my hand through the bars and undid the latch before I pushed the door open. Most of the hybrids in the pen with me looked up. I could see the gears in their head turning. Then one of the braver ones stood. It glanced at me, its expression unreadable before it made a run for it. A few other brave creatures followed it, making a desperate bid for freedom!

“Goddamnit!” I heard Prase snap. The hybrids didn’t run towards him. They ran away but they served as an ample enough distraction. Prase took aim at them and pulled the trigger. This time his aim was true and one of the creatures collapsed in the middle of the aisle. He’d stepped forwards, into my line of sight but he hadn’t seen me just yet.

I lunged for him, catching him off guard and pushing him into the bars of another pen. Prase snarled and swore as I grabbed at his gun. He was stronger than I was. I knew I couldn’t wrestle it away from him, but I could cheat. I raised a knee into his groin and heard him grunt in pain. His grip on the rifle slipped, just enough for me to rip it free of his grasp.

I’d never fired a gun before in my life and in my panicked state, I had no time to learn or even to think. I just aimed it at him and fired blindly. I heard Prase scream. I saw a meaty hand press against his shoulder as he braced himself against the cage for stability and my pulse spiked. I’d hurt him! I’d actually wounded him.

His eyes met mine, burning with rage and hatred. Blood seeped through his gushing wound. If I was thinking straight, I would’ve fired again… But my brain was running off of pure adrenaline. I’d never actually killed someone before and in my current state, I’m not sure if I was ready to start. I’d stopped him! That was enough!

I kept a grip on his rifle as I backed up and continued to run for the back of the barn as fast as I could. There was a door near the back and I burst through it. The treeline was right there! I didn’t hear any thundering footsteps. Prase wasn’t still after me. I was as free as I was going to get. The woods sat ahead of me, ominous yet safe and I ran into them, letting myself vanish into the trees.

I abandoned Prase’s gun somewhere in the woods. I was hardly a gun expert, but I managed to figure out that it was out of ammo. It only seemed to hold about four rounds and I wasted the last of them wounding Prase.

It was a few hours before I made it to a road again and a few more hours after that until I found a passing car that I managed to flag down.

I went to the Police, of course but it didn’t do me much good. I didn’t exactly have the best idea of where I’d been in the first place and what I told them was… Well, judging by the look on the Officers face, I don’t think he actually believed me.

Truth be told, I’m not sure what to do now. It’s been a few weeks since my encounter. I haven’t heard anything from the Police. Nobody’s found my car and I haven’t heard a thing about a pig farmer named Jonah Prase. I know he’s out there, though. I’ll always know he’s out there.

At night, I can hear the inhuman screams of the pigs. I can see his burning eyes and I wish that I’d managed to kill him when I shot him that morning. I know that I got lucky, and I’ve got a sick feeling that whoever runs into Prase next won’t get that luxury.
submitted by HeadOfSpectre to nosleep [link] [comments]

How to Watch your Fire (warning: long post)

So you want to use Firewatch. You might have pulled/recruited her and want to know more about her, or you like her from the recent skin in the shop, or you just want to see a fellow FW user (hi!). Regardless, you want to learn more about her game-mechanic wise. I wrote this as a commemoration to finally getting Firewatch’s potential completely maxed out (combine with fully upgraded FW) about 3 days ago.
I got and used FW since 23/1, so about 1 week after global launch. I have been using her in every single map possible. Got her to max level on April 10, after I cleared most contents, including all H5 maps, at that time. (so please trust my analysis I’m not just brute forcing every map)
The general consensus is that FW is situational and niche and most of the time just use one of the top 3 snipers in the game instead (Exu, BP, Platinum). I don't want to throw dictionaries around on definitions, but I’d argue that she’s less consistent than other snipers rather than situational (this is NOT what I am here for so please don’t get on about this in the comment). Of course, that’s not to say she has no drawback at all. Anyway, that’s enough foreplay, let’s f…inally get into it.

Stats:

- Attack and attack speed:
Firewatch has the highest base attack damage in the game. For that amazing damage though, she lacks haste in dealing it. A careful sniper to the core, she takes nearly thrice as long between shot than a typical single target sniper mentioned above: 2.7s vs 1s, and nearly twice as long compare to a “crit” sniper: 2.7s vs 1.6s. For this reason, her higher damage actually translated to lower DPS.
This negative is made worse by another point: waste damage. Let’s assuming FW with 1200 ATK is attacking someone with 0 DEF and 1300 HP (for example’s sake), and her first shot drop them down to 100HP. She will now have to spend an entire attack interval just to fire at it again, while wasting 1100 ATK that will do nothing. Coupled with a noticeable pre-fire animation (where she takes aim before actually shoot), and she just waste almost 6s to fire 2 shots on an enemy, while needing only 1.08 shot to do the work. If we were to take Exu as an example, with 650 ATK, she will also need to shoot only twice to kill this target, but taking those 2 shots only cost her 2s, plus she has little to no pre-fire animation. And if she does needs 3 shots to kill it instead, that is still just 3s, half the amount FW needed to fire 2 (plus Exu has her own ATK speed talent so it's not even 1shot/s). That is just an example, but the more you use her, the more you’ll see this point, with a couple of exceptions as there are always exceptions.
→ This means that just a medium number of weaklings can easily waste a lot of FW’s time and overwhelm her, while fast shooting snipers can do just fine (especially BP). Obviously, high attack with slow attack speed isn’t supposed to do fine against a swarm of enemies to begin with, but it does add up to her bad reputation.
- HP and Defense:
She also has lower HP and DEF than most other 5* and 6* Snipers except for BP to offset her massive attack. She would have trouble staying alive if she is targeted or suffers collateral damage from AoE attack. With that said, there’s a couple things later down the road that helps counter this drawback, and actually helps her stay alive better than most other snipers.
- Cost:
Unlike most other ST snipers, she has a much higher DP cost, even higher than 6* Schwarz (just 1 more DP though). So, deploying her is harder than most, though with Myrtle these days it’s not necessary that hard.

Range:

FW’s range is “huuuuuuge”-Trump. In fact, she, and later Ambriel, are the only one that can consistently reach these tiles. Mostima and Amiya can also reach it sometimes with their respective 3rd skill. Now those 2 tiles aren’t that important at first glance, but it also means that she can reach as far as 2 tiles up and down, while staying at least 2 tiles back (take Anni 2 and 3 as an example, she can cover your defenders for these mock setups). This range allow her to have a better flexibility in deploy location as it is important for a sniper and does help her cover multiple lanes at once with ease (though she still struggles with a swarm of enemies).

Trait:

Unlike the other ST snipers that we are used to, FW also has a different target priority. She does not aim for drone first directly, instead choose to aim for the lowest DEF enemy. Considering that, as of the posting date, she’s the only one that does this, she can throw most people off with this feature. Aside from a couple of easy one to remember like doggos, slugs/spiders, and some basic form of most small enemies, you can only guess who has lower DEF than who most of the time unless you’ve been doing it long enough and have good memory. Even some drones has higher DEF than some ground enemies, especially the small basic mobs. The most extreme case I found with this trait is in OF-EX-6. Remember the big dude with purple RES armor that activated when blocked and the much smaller sniper leader, guess which one has higher DEF between them? That’s right, the bigger dude. Granted, both of them aren’t the issues in that map but the point still stands: sometimes it’s hard to judge who FW will target first.
In conclusion, the trait is clearly defined, but it is unreliable sometime because appearance can fool people.
Another thing you can get from this trait is that, whenever FW make a shot, it will always be the highest possible damage she can deal against an enemy within a group of enemies in her range without considering the talent (which is right below).

Talent:

Firewatch has only one talent: Assassin. It multiplies her damage by 1.2 at E1, and 1.4 at E2, if she is attacking a ranged enemy (potential 5 increase the above numbers by 0.05). It should go like ((FW's ATK * any skill/ATK-buff multiplier) *1.4) - enemy's DEF
Furthermore, typically multiple of the normal damage buffs (i.e. Warfarin, Sora, FW's 1st skill…) just stack additively, but multiple effects of these type stack multiplicatively (Pramanix, Saria…). For example if you are attacking a ranged unit that is under 40% HP and is within Pramanix’s range, FW will now deal 140% * 130% = 182% extra damage.
Important note: This talent also multiplies any skill % or attack boost FW has, which mean it affects both of her skills (below)
EDIT: fixed false info

Skills:

Each of Firewatch’s skill does a different thing. As present later, both skills are going to need masteries level in order to shine really bright (which is actually another reason why she isn’t more popular). If you want to use her though, these investments are the question of when, rather than how expensive. Besides, it’s much less expensive than upgrading a 6* to the same level.
RIIC skill: Clue search α (β at E2)
Increase clue search speed by 10% (20% at E2). Not much to say about this, it’s a decent one at E2 though not the highest.

First skill: Camouflage

As the name suggest, the skill turns Firewatch invisible to the enemies. The only things that can hurt her during the skill duration are poison/DoT debuff effects (AP maps and H5-3) and being revealed. It also increases her damage massively (regardless of being revealed or not) and has a long duration, while having a relatively short cooldown. This skill in combination with her massive range means that FW can be place in literally any (range) tiles on the map and survive. It’s basically Jessica’s Smoke Screen 2.0. However, the 20 seconds where the skill is not active (15.38 with E2 Ptilopsis) can be particularly dangerous if you decided to put her deep in enemies’ line and miss the timing of the skill.
The problem is the scaling in its level. All Firewatch's skill has low scaling before masteries. From level 1 to 7, the skill drops only 4s in cooldown, gains 10s in duration, and +16% in attack boost. At level 7, the skill only gives 40% ATK and 35s duration, at 26s cooldown. However, from level 7 onward, EACH mastery level gives +10% attack and 5 whole second. Only after going through that much investment that you can only get the amazing 50s “invincibility” and +70% attack boost, whereas the other ST snipers can already function well at E2 SL7 (FW kinda too to be honest, but the scaling is way too good to skip, and the duration is a bit short in comparison).
With that much of a damage boost though, FW can start one two punch some of her enemies that she couldn’t before, especially if they are ranged. This works spectacularly better against most bosses in the game as of global server (except Crownslayer), which all have dangerous ranged attack. FW doesn’t afraid of retaliation thanks to this skill (with the exception of maybe FrostNova’s ice drop). This skill turns FW into a special target killer, and she can be as good of a boss killer as Schwarz, with a much better range and survivability but with a weaker DPS.
→ The investment is high, but the payoff is worth it. With how consistent this skill is, this is the better skill to lean on if you are unsure about what FW should do in your squad (other than leaving to make space for others /s). However, you are here exactly because you're unsure about FW (perhaps), so let's keep going.
Some (maybe) advanced info:
- Because the damage is calculated when the shot lands, you can wait until the projectile is really close before activating Camo, saving a bit of time for the first shot. This of course also means that if the duration is over when the shot has not landed yet, you’ll lost the extra boost. (Actually, I might not be so sure about this, mostly because she never let a shot out when the duration is almost over, so it shouldn't matter)
- Despite being unable to be target by ranged attack in its duration, if she does get targeted before, there’s nothing you can do to prevent that even if you have Camo ready. If the enemy already begin the attack animation, you cannot go invisible to avoid that (I believe their attack animation start as soon as when they stop while walking)
- Edit post chap 6: If you're reading this after chapter 6 is already out, this skill is your best bet to kill FrostNova. Schwarz has really nice damage and all, but her short range or her S3's range will need her to be getting close enough in either 6-16 or H6-4 to deal any decent damage, but she will get mow down really quick with the attack slow and collateral damage. Whereas FW will stay safe for a long duration against all dangers except the ice drops. Again, all bosses except Crownslayer are considered ranged unit, so FW's talent will always proc.

Second skill: Tactical Transceiver

This is the more famous skill for Firewatch, and unfortunately caused her a bit of a bad rap as a meme operator. When activated, she will drop 2 nukes on the enemies’ position after a delay of about 1s. The placement is non-stackable, as in the 2 will never drop in the same tiles. However, they deal AoE damage in their 4 adjacent tiles thus having 2 nukes next to each other would double the damage the enemies in those 2 tiles will receive. The skill has a 50 second cooldown (38.5s with E2 Ptilopsis) and is unchangeable regardless of skill/masteries level. From level 1 to 7, each level increase damage of each nukes by a measly 10% multipliers, while only increasing the precharge (the SP immediately granted when first deploy) by 5 at level 4 and 7. At level 7, each nuke deal 240% of FW’s attack and has a precharge of 20, effectively making the skill has only 30s (23.07s with...) when you first deploy her.
As mentioned above, FW’s skills need mastery level to shine, and here’s the best part: at the first mastery level, this skill gain an additional nuke, increase from 2 to 3, while also increasing the damage multiplier by 20%. This effectively make this one of the biggest mastery spikes out of all instant active skill: gaining one extra nuke of 260% damage, and another 40% combine from the existed 2 for a total of 300% damage multiplier increased from just 1 mastery level! Considering the skill deal AoE damage, that 3rd explosion also has potentials to further increase the skill’s total damage output in one use. Each subsequent mastery also increases the skill multiplier by 20%, for 300% per nukes at the maximum level, that is 900% total if they bunch up together. Considering FW has the highest base attack in the game, those percentage aren’t nothing to scoff at. Not even Ch’en can match the nuke potential though hers is definitely more consistent than FW's.
At M3, the skill has a multiplier of 300%, drop 3 bombs, 50s cooldown, 30s precharge. That 50 seconds (38.5...) cooldown is this skill's biggest weakness. You need to be careful and to make each use count.
Another problem though lies on the nuke’s random target system. I made multiple observations over the course of my journey in the game, and lately mostly in S4-6, because the enemies spread out nice and evenly, and 4-7 where there’s also a couple of 0 DEF enemies spreading around. There was this hypothesis running around that her nukes follow her trait (above). I used to believe this as well, but after extensive researches in about 20 runs but with careful examination, that isn’t quite true anymore (apologies to that guy that I lost the name who I told him this misinformation before). However…
That doesn’t really matter. Most people assumed that the skill is unreliable because it is, again, random. But the thing is, it already prioritises enemies. When was the last time that you are facing against enemies that are so spread out that 3 strong AoE nukes wouldn’t still not be enough to deal with at least half of them?
→ I called Camo the more consistent skill for FW earlier, but this skill does far more for FW than Camo. First of all, we made a “shocking” discovery earlier that Firewatch is bad against a swarm of weaklings, well guess what can deal with that? A couple of AoE attacks from an actual AoE snipecaster.
The more you use it, the more you’ll realise the skill is more flexible than just for nuking one spot (or even worse, for memes). There are a couple of ways you can use this skill depend on where the enemies are at or what you want to do with it:
+ Most of the time, the enemies would be constantly pouring into a lane. Your melee operators can block some of them effectively causing them to group up together. This should be the typical usage, where FW would drop 2 nukes in front of that melee operators. That would likely clean up all but the highest of armoHP enemies in that range and they would definitely be massively weaken, easily clean up by others (FW still shouldn’t be the only DPS you have after all).
- Advanced trick: Sometimes, if you let one enemy slipped through your defense, you can turn that into an advantage. What I meant was, a 1 or 2 block guard can easily let 1 enemy pass through if they can’t kill fast enough or are busy attacking a high HP/DEF enemy. When that happen, the enemies would be at: the tile that guard is on when one of them pass through, the tile that the guard is attacking when they are blocked, and the tile further away when more are approaching (not the best example but should work for visualisation). If that’s the only place FW is covering right now, that’s an easy 3 bombs lining up, absolutely destroying the middle tile. If the middle tile has a really strong enemy (Heavy Defender,…), even he would probably die in that scenario (thus adding 1 more use for this skill: killing high armored enemies, which is most ST snipers' weakness). This is actually easy to setup with something like a guard in front of a defendeanother guard (e.g. the Bison+Guard or Swire+Guard combo), though you wouldn’t necessarily built around those to begin with. Most of the time, just 2 nukes would do wonder, and that’s the easiest setup already.
- Continuing from the above point, even though you have 3 nukes, you shouldn’t be feeling that you have to drop all 3 of them close together in order to make a deep impact. Most of the time, just 2 together is already strong enough to deal with most enemies, honestly even high DEF one. You should rather think that the 3rd one is a bonus, if it hits, sweet, if it doesn’t, it’s still good enough. Again, dropping 2 together is easy to setup.
+ The skill can also be used to deal with enemies at up to 3 different lanes at once, if the need ever arises. Only Ifrit, SA, or Eiyav can do that, and only Ifrit can consistently do that. With how wide Firewatch’s range is, covering multiple places at once is simple, and can still leave spot for others shorter range DPS to do their thing.
- Advance trick: To add more from last two point, when there are more than 3 tiles that the enemies are on, you should aim to use the skill when there’s no chance that it won’t be a good usage. What I mean is that, instead of relying on RNGesus to bless you with the best placement, time the skill so that, regardless which 3 tiles FW choose, it will never be a bad choice. This quite depends on specific scenario, so there is no real guideline I can describe in detail, just experiences. Example: think of Anni 2 with the casters phase, if you use FW to kill them early, you will just drop the skill ASAP, since you wouldn’t care where the bomb would drop. If you are in doubt, you can also wait until there’s only 3 tiles left, either by having the enemies completely swarmed in even if your defenders can’t hold all of them (also works with earlier advanced trick), or by waiting for your other DPS to deal with some of them first. Just remember, unlike fast shooting snipers, you need to be careful with your shot, like a real sniper would.
+ Because the nukes deal AoE damage, you can actually use this to your advantage and reach someone outside of FW’s range (Example demonstration). This is most useful for enemies that like to stand around a bit further before actually moving in (Anni 3, 5-10,…), since you would have time to wait/set up and outright kill them before they can be a threat.
Miscellaneous info:
- All instant active skill has this downtime of about 1 second when used. Because of this little activation time, FW cannot received Warfarin’s talent granting SP if she kills enemies with this skill.
- It seems like each enemy are counted individually for the targeting system. For example, if there are 6 enemies standing in 1 tile, and 1 each in 4 other tiles, Firewatch would 60% of the time drop the nuke into that 6-enemies-tile, and 2 more in the rest. I may need more confirmation on this from other FW users. I even heard from one of them that, if there are more than 2 enemies in 1 tile (and none in others), there’s a decent chance that there will be a random 2nd one close to it anyway (as in, they try to put all 2 together, but since that’s not allowed, it pushes the 2nd one to the next tile). This I can’t confirm myself mostly because I rarely use this skill like that or ever need to. You shouldn’t need to as well, the skill has too long a cooldown, unless it’s a dire situation, or if you are sure you won’t need it until the cooldown is over.- When an enemy is blocked, they will be barely in range to receive damage from the nuke behind them, as they are on the edge of the tile they are standing on. It seems like if they move in just a little bit further onto your melee op, then they won’t receive damage from that further tile anymore (the tile that is 2 tiles away from that melee op). The same thing happens with your range operators that has their tile just onto your melee, if the enemies get blocked, the ranged ops won’t attack, but slightly move in and they will start to.
→ All in all, Firewatch's 2nd skill is a strong skill that is slightly more versatile than just nuking, and covering a lot of her weaknesses (swarmling, high armor, single target). The "randomness" of the skill somehow cause her a bad reputation, but just a little bit of work and it will never be unreliable to you. And you can still use other operators along with FW, she shouldn't be your only core of the squad.
If you want to compare to Exu or BP or Platinum, the first 3 have easier way to deal with swarms of enemies mostly because of their attack speed rather than AoE effect (except BP who has both). FW's S2 has too long of a cooldown to make it consistent. Firewatch can also deal with high armored enemies better than most for 2 reasons: she have a strong AoE nukes that can overpowered DEF, and her targeting system will never let her attack them first, until they're the lowest one in range, effectively isolate them. Most other snipers, if they ever decided to target those high DEF enemies because they are closer to the base (and no drone), they would stuck there for a longer time (except for BP who has pseudo AoE). Firewatch can also deal with drone, since their DEF are usually on the lighter side, and most drone recently are ranged as well. She's also perfect against the drone that increase DEF of all surround enemies, since that will be the one she shoot first (most of the time).

Anyway, this is a long post comprising of my years of experiences with Firewatch (CN masters pls forgiv me arrogance). I'm hoping to see what you think about her. If any can point out what I'm missing, or if I focused on the wrong area that people wouldn't care to begin with when they want to learn about a new operator, that would be great as well. (I spent only like 4 days writing this so there may still be errors around or missing crucial info)
Regardless, I hope this post didn't waste your time, even if it doesn't change your opinion about Firewatch.
submitted by Windgesang_ to arknights [link] [comments]

Lost in the Ashlands. Reputation and Dialogue Checks.

Lost in the Ashlands. Reputation and Dialogue Checks.


https://preview.redd.it/iki6qp9t41a51.png?width=999&format=png&auto=webp&s=23015f5fa8cdf91792e66fb7b012f92bc6a550c3

Time for a quick update. First, I'm going to talk about getting a working reputation system, and then I'll show off a couple of new features for the war system overhaul.

Finding a Working Reputation System
Karma in games is often reductive, amounting to a binary "good or evil" system that's represented by a number. Dumb. Easier to implement and understand, yeah, but still dumb. I want more. Faction relations in games like Mount and Blade aren't brilliant either - they're great as an aggregate value, but suffer from one critical problem: memory. You might be a faction's sworn enemy, do some good, bribe some bribables, and suddenly you're in their good books. Kenshi certainly handles this better than most - kidnap a faction leader and you can bet there will be hell to pay. But it's not quite enough. Bandits should stop trying to steal your lunch money if you've taken down the Emperor.
I want a system where your actions generate a reputation naturally, by choice and action. It was a tough nut to crack, but I'm just about there with the structure.
Here's a quick rundown of how reputation will work.

Six Abstract Values
That's right. Six individual reputations. Each represents an abstract group in the game world, and a given value in one reputation might have an effect elsewhere. Here are the current drafts for reputation values. Note that reputation is not discrete, meaning there will probably be cases where multiple might apply. Moreover, don't expect reputation to apply in every instance of dialogue or interaction. As time goes on and you make your mark on the world, more characters will have heard of you or your actions.


https://preview.redd.it/af9cjrtw41a51.png?width=408&format=png&auto=webp&s=0ba868fcf0a43df8244be8ded53c0586659faa48

The Downtrodden. Farmers, peasants, slaves and nomads. Everybody who's got the short end of the stick in the world of Kenshi. In game terms, this means Empire Peasants, Holy Nation Outlaws, Drifters, Slaves, Deadcat farmers, Settled Nomads, and so on. You get the idea.
Bandits, Brigands, and Broken Men. Just what you'd expect. Rebel Farmers, Starving Bandits, Dust Bandits - yet also factions such as Manhunters in some cases.
Scholars and Scribes. Those who value exploration and the pursuit of knowledge. Tech Hunters and Machinists, yes, but also adventuring types and certain diplomats.
The Empire Elite. Everything related to the United Cities. Nobles, Slave Traders, and the Guild fall under this category, as well as UC Generals.
The Inquisitorium. The One True Religion. Priests, inquisitors, HN Generals. This is probably the most narrow of the six reputations.
Followers of Kral. Everything Shek - not necessarily confined to the Shek Kingdom. Kral's Chosen, Berserkers, and others will be influenced by your reputation in this category.

What Will Reputation Do Differently to Faction Relations?
For starters, reputation allows for more nuanced interactions through dialogue with a graded system of 'ranks'. Changes to reputation happen naturally through gameplay. Help out a bunch of wandering samurai enough times and you might increase your reputation with the Empire. Murder a bunch of farmers? You can bet that NPCs will know you as Outland Terror before too long.
These interactions won't be limited to reactive stuff, either. Instead, where there are dialogue window events (particularly with dynamic quests), you'll be able to use your reputation to persuade or intimidate. 'Persuasion' meaning a high reputation with a relevant category, 'Intimidation' referring to a low reputation. In some, rarer cases, other reputations might supplant this. For example, if you're at Indifferent (+0) with the Downtrodden, but Empire Dignitary (+75) with the Empire Elite, you can bet that some lowly farmer peasant will be easier to push around.

High (appropriate) rep means better success in a dialogue check.

Reputation can also serve as memory. Currently, I'm setting it up to remember if you've ever had high (+75 to +100) reputation, low (-75 to -100) reputation, and the lowest (-100) reputation. You'll have a hard time getting your reputation (and related faction relations) up if you've ruined it, yet gaining increments to faction relations will, on occasion, be easier if you have high rep.
Dialogue will need to have a lot of expansions, too. This is elementary 'grind' work - it's easy enough to do, it'll just take time. High reputation in the Empire should enable you to have conversations with nobles and dignitaries. And so on.
What else? Well, even though I won't unlock any of it until the first dynamic quest update, reputation will influence quest options and pathways. Special events, too - you can bet that NPCs will begin to react to you differently as you walk your path through the game world. The occasional plot twist here and there*.* Perhaps you'll overhear a conversation of your exploits. Maybe annoying farmers will pester you for aid when your reputation is high enough when all you want to do is get a damn drink.


DUN DUN DUN. *Plot Twist*. Perhaps I should have made better choices.

What Ranks Are There?
I don't want to spoil too much. But here's the reputation list for the Downtrodden:
??? [-100]
Outland Terror [-75]
Violent Outlaw [-50]
Thug [-25]
Indifferent [+0]
Backwater Samurai [+25]
Benevolent Wanderer [+50]
Nomad Crusader [+75]
??? [+100]


Sneak Peek at the Coming Update.
Wars are spread out between 'military' (fortresses), 'civilian' (towns) and 'setpiece' locations. Assaults against towns are much rarer, bigger, badder campaigns that happen in multiple stages. Factions reinforce cities and forts, blah blah, I've gone over this before elsewhere. What I'm currently polishing up is getting the unique characters into the game world outside of battles. Generals inspecting a town with their personal guard, patrolling, being able to find them at fortresses they control, and so on. More possibility for interaction (and mischief!). That, and the setpiece battles, which are essentially empty battlefields where two armies can throw down. Great fun for the whole family. I'm ironing out some details there, though, so setpieces are currently a big 'maybe' - if it turns out pretty and fun, they'll go in the next update. If not, I'll probably rework them into assaults against military targets. On that note, around half of the fortresses you've seen are now gone. The Holy Nation uses Okran's Shield/Fist and its military bases as their 'military' targets, while the Shek have Last Stand and the Great Fortress (plus one extra fort). The United Cities, having no such settlements in vanilla, still have three forts. All of these locations are spruced up with NPCs you can interact with, and their residents will change based on what randomly-selected NPC lineup you've got going for you in your playthrough. You can cripple faction armies by taking down their forts - eliminating generals before they can do shit, or removing certain special abilities from the major facitons.
I'm not going to bore you with too many details, plus I'm lazy, so here are some random screenshots.


Oooohh, faction deserters.


Did I mention each faction has special units, campaigns, and events? They're tied to the NPC lineup. Usually, each faction has two special units or abilities (out of four). Each of the three warring factions has its own selection of abilities.


Let's have a chat, shall we?


Because of a particular General, the UC now have access to mercenaries for their wars. Here, a barracks is converted into a mercenary bar at a fortress. Eliminating a certain General, or one of his underlings, will harm or outright remove this special ability, affording the UC fewer expendable units to throw into battle.

submitted by BoronGorax to Kenshi [link] [comments]

Our Friendships Turned Febrile

Our Friendships Turned Febrile
-- Contains Heavy Non-Consensual Ballbusting --
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
His balls pulsated against her outstretched fingers, his oval orbs heaving up and down in his smooth, shaved scrotum. It was an appropriate description, seeing that she wasn’t moving any of her extremities, simply observing his delicate danglers. The skin around the tip of his penis had parted, his taunt erection bulging against his epidermis.
Emily gently pinched John’s epididymis, causing him to wince. Besides the restraints tying him to the foot of the bed, her warm breath and curvaceous breasts kept him in check. If common logic were to be applied, his justification for bondage would have been fragile to say the least. But with the prospect of her warm tongue on his twitching member, and the insatiable allure of her womanly figure, he had abandoned natural rationale.
Emily and John, until just an hour ago had been childhood friends. Growing up in the same neighborhood, they would see each other regularly. Whether it be walking to, or from school, socializing, projects, they could always be found together in some degree.
She pressed her index finger into John’s spongy penis, sliding it into his foreskin. The bound male moaned as Emily sifted her finger under his frenulum. John ejected a light load of pre-cum. He bucked his hips up and down, trying to get Emily to scratch his insatiable itch. The black-haired beauty receded her finger and brought it to her face. John’s member was violently twitching, the feeling of her delicate fingers hadn’t quite left yet.
“I’m impressed, you wash this thing, don’t you?”
Emily stood from her crouched position, wiping her lubed finger on her pink yoga pants. She bounced her way across her carpet, humming. John instinctively began to buck his hips, craving Emily. As she hopped along, her peachy ass bobbed and jiggled, displaying what must have been years of rigorous exercise, combined with exemplary genetics. John’s cravings had taken the better of him, as he imagined her cheeks consuming his cock. He pulled against his restraints. If only he could touch himself, he would explode over her white carpet in an instant. It was her condition, however, that he be rendered immobile.
Both of his hands had been strapped tightly to the foot of her bed frame, while either of his feet were strapped to kettlebells. While his lower appendages still had some autonomy, he couldn’t bother himself to resist.
Emily bent over, revealing her lack of panties, as well as her own set of low hangers. Her breasts were abnormally large for her frame. John was kicking himself, feeling he had been cheated in a way. Him and Emily had known each other for the better part of a decade; since meeting, they’re bodies had both undergone extraordinary changes. Only now, did he realize her gifts. Usually covered in a thick snow coat, he had never seen her body on full display, until now. Her swaying tits were barely contained by her white sports bra. Perfectly in symmetry with her spayed legs, they appeared as an exaggerated extension of her covered pussy.
“Em.” John strained. Involuntarily, he shot another spurt of pre-cum.
The transparent liquid trickled down the back of his shaft, lubricating his balls.
“Come one John, be patient, I told you I was going to suck your dick today, I just need to do a little something first.” She cooed.
Emily unzipped her black backpack. John stared intently at her figure. Unconsciously, he began to thrust to her body's natural rhythm. John’s feminine friend pulled four items from her school sack; her pink journal, pen, lime-green water bottle, and a blue-ribbon tape measure. The smiling Em skipped back to her bound man. Her massive mounds didn’t appear real. Even in the confines of her white sports bra, their movements appeared comical.
She did a goofy somersault. In another setting, John would have chided her awkwardness. It resembled a tumble more than a well-executed roll. In a quick reflection, John couldn’t blame her. While her proportions awakened pure lust in the boy, he could still note the pure impracticality on her figure in an athletic sense.
In passing conversations, they had discussed physical exercise. To think that she could manage anything with her overly exaggerated figure was incredible. Her breasts were nearly double the width of her waste! Her shapely ass was a completely different question. Lunging out, she skidded dangerously close to John’s genitals, her head inches away from his low hanging orbs. Instinctively, John aimed to protect his testicles. Thankfully, her high surface created enough friction to halt her movements. Emily tilted her head up, shooting John a mix between a nervous smile and a devious one. His arms were pulling against his restraints again, proving to her that he couldn’t defend himself if need be. A gradual wet spot began to manifest in her tight pants, turning the once light pink into a darker shade.
As if it never happened, Emily sat up, scooching closer to John. Cross legged, she reached her delicate hand out to his softening penis. Instantly, his virility was reignited, her hand absorbing his sweating cock. She gave him three soft tugs, then two intense, then alternated, again and again and again. John bucked as if his life depended on it, desperately trying to reach climax as fast as possible. He couldn’t handle it anymore; Emily’s exposed figure had contacted his own primal urges.
“Ahh, John. I need to do something first,” Emily waved.
She removed her sloppy fingers from John’s penis, but kept it hovering above. He squeaked, bucking harder and harder, mashing the tip of his head against her flat palm. Quickly, a thick mucus pre-cum built between the two of them; Emily giggled, then removed her hand completely. John let out a pathetic wail. He didn’t expect Em to know, but he was on the verge of losing his seed, several more thrusts, and he would have been there. Blue-balled, he whined like a little pup.
“I told you, didn’t I? I want to do something before I suck you off John! You want my mouth, don’t you?” Em said, stretching the side of her mouth with her pre-cum covered hand.
John’s personal lube dripped down her hand, onto the greater top portion of her breasts, giving them a new shine. Em giggled again, wiping the rest of the clear liquid onto and in-between her unnatural mounds. She sucked the tip of her index seductively, her cloudy hazel eyes peering into John’s desperate stare.
“Alright Em, I’ll play along a bit longer,” John nodded.
“Great!” Emily giggled.
Truly, both were aware of John’s discomfort, but for their out ulterior motives, both parties kept silent. The raven-hair Emily picked at her journal, flipping to back pages. In her other hand, she squeezed her bottle, ejecting a clear stream of water into her mouth.
“I’ve never seen you use that journal before Em.” John whimpered.
In a semi-hysteria, he focused on the mundane to distract from his own excitement.
“Don’t lose that boner!” Emily called.
Forcefully, she gripped his long shaft, tugging it roughly. John arched his back and moaned out. His low dangling balls bounce between the soft portion of her welled fist and the creamy bristles of the carpet. He moaned out again, another glob of pre-cum dribbling out. Emily stopped tugging and wiped the liquid onto John’s flat stomach.
“Em, this is just cruel.” John pleaded.
“I’ll be done quick, I promise.”
Emily pulled the blue-ribbon tape measure taunt, and placed it at the base of his cock.
“You want to measure my cock?” John asked.
“Basically.” Emily shrugged.
“Why?”
Emily wrapped the ribbon around three different sections of John’s penis. At the base, the head, and the girthiest section. In a surprising move, she reached out for his dangling testicles. Firmer than John would have expected, she tightened her grip.
“Ouch.” John grunted.
“Don’t be a baby.” Emily chided.
She knelt down lower, making sure the ribbon was even as it wrapped around John’s compressed testicles. The bound boy was able to stave off the unpleasant feeling, focusing on her toned back and protruding rear. Straining against the pink elastic yoga pants, it appeared heart shaped.
“Got it!” Emily said with glee.
Quickly, she jotted down John’s specific measurements. John gave her a disapproving look, not that she minded.
“Wait just one more second, I need to take a picture too!”
“A picture?” John gasped.
His heart leapt up. For whatever reason, the idea of his dick being in the hands of Emily terrified him, that was, unless it was physically in her hands. In the time John had come to know Emily, she had made a particular impression. As much as he cherished her as a friend, she was known to spread misinformation or rumors. In some extreme cases, it would lead to someone crying in the halls or class, sometimes leaving school for a few days. A documented photo of his dick in her hands didn’t sit right; yet, he couldn’t do anything. Emily snapped the photo before he could further object.
“Why’d you take my picture?”
“Taking your measurement is one thing, but a dick-pic is a little more intimate. Don’t worry, I’ll crop out your face before sharing it with school.” she giggled.
John wasn’t able to tell if she was joking or not.
“Why do you want to do any of this?”
“Why does anyone do anything?” she said dismissively.
She tossed her phone to the far reach of her white carpet, and plopped down between John’s legs.
“Seriously.” John scolded, searching for a truth.
The bound boy's member had softened completely, yet Emily didn’t seem to mind, perhaps she was only interested in the maximums.
“I don’t know, I like it. Don’t kink shame,” she pouted, going over John’s measurements again.
“I’m not kink shaming you,” John defended. “But you say it’s a kink?”
“Yeah?” Emily said, tilting her head to the side.
“So, you like to do this to other guys?”
“Of course I do!” Emily laughed. “You know John, for being so compliant, I think you deserve a specific stroking.”
John’s penis expanded, the tip escaping his foreskin restraint. More pre-cum flowed from his slit, re-lubing his impressive appendage.
“I mean I’m going to stroke your ego.” Emily laughed. “Your length is an impressive 8 and ¾ of an inch.”
John couldn’t hide his disappointment. Emily picked up on his displeasure.
“What? You think it’s too small? It’s rather impressive, of all the other boys I've done this too, you’re the longest by far.”
“I guess that’s cool,” John mumbled. “But I already knew my measurement.” He said sheepishly.
“Your girth isn’t bad either, 5 inches at the base, 6 at the most, 5 and ½ at the tip. Bet you didn’t know that.”
“Some of it.”
“Well how about your balls?”
“My testicles?”
“It’s a little lacking to be honest, 6-inch circumference.”
John felt his face redden. While Emily had pointed out an arbitrary measurement, he couldn’t help but feel embarrassed. Of course, Emily picked up on it, a slight curl building at the corner of her red lips.
“How about this, ask me for another boy's measurement at school.”
“What?”
“Ask me, I bet I could tell you.”
“I’m not interested in dicks.”
“But you are interested in me touching your dick.” Emily smirked.
Emily patted John’s penis with her open palm, recharging it in a way. Seeing what her aim was, John obliged.
“Ken Culver from third period, you’ve talked to him, right?”
Emily giggled while flipping several pages in her journal.
“I didn’t know you were into Ken, if I had known, I wouldn’t have touched him.”
“Fuck off.” John grumbled.
“Here it is. 5 ½ inches, 4 at the base, 4 max, 4 ¼ at the tip. His testicles had a circumference of 8 inches, that last measurement is quite impressive.”
“Should I take your word for it?”
“Under what premise would you have to assume that I would lie? Also, why did you ask for Ken’s, huh?” Emily grinned.
John rolled his eyes.
“I don’t know, he’s been missing from school for the past week, guess it was just on my mind.”
The atmosphere shifted completely. Something had changed. Emily became uncharacteristically quiet. She placed her journal and water bottle to the far side of John’s bound leg. Clearing her throat, she suppressed a smile. Seductively, slowly, she bent closer and closer to John’s cock. She placed her fingers on his thighs, clawing them gently. There was a primal hunger in her eyes.
“I’m going to start, are you ready?” Emily asked.
Before John could give an answer, she began to pleasure him. She pressed her nose on the wet tip of his penis. John instinctively jolted up, sliding his cock to the side of her button nose. Emily exhaled, her warm breath wrapping around John’s slippery cock.
“Oh, Em, you’re so good.” John moaned, overcome with raw pleasure.
“I know.” Emily said, simultaneously wrapping her pink tongue around John’s shaft.
She lapped his wide penis, tickling his sensitive glans, causing him to squirm. Next, she incorporated her hands. Gripping his lower shaft, she lathered the tip of his dick using her tongue as a propeller. Her free hand began to work his swelling testicles. Focusing one at a time, she lightly pinched his right and left; John produced several squeaks as a result. Taking it as positive feedback, Emily increased her overall intensity. Her hot mouth enveloped the top portion of his members. She squeezed his shaft simultaneously.
Gradually, but roughly, Emily increased the grip she had on John’s pulsating testicles. Toying with them as she saw fit. They were completely at her mercy; all John could do was wallow in the pleasure she was producing for him. Emerging from that pleasure, came a twinge of pain, emanating from his stomach. It caused him a minor discomfort, but he didn’t care. He bucked his hips rapidly, thrusting his penis into Emily’s mouth. In response, the busty girl pulled on John’s scrotum. Her index and thumb constricted his nut cords, relegating his testicles to the bottom of his elastic sack. The creamy rug added an extra level of stimulus as she yanked them to the carpet.
John barely noticed; the intense head-polish Emily was giving in the back of her throat was the only thing he could reasonably comprehend.
“Em, I’m really close.” John moaned.
Emily took John’s words at face value, preparing for his imminent explosion. She increased her cadence, taking his entire length back and forth. John let out a high pitch groan as his testicles attempted to retract. Held firm by Emily, they weren't going anywhere. In a circular motion, she ground John’s testicles into the carpet.
“Emily, I’m cumming!” John exclaimed.
John came, his seed spilling out of his throbbing slit. Overcome with pure pleasure, he threw his head back. His thick white milk nearly pierced the back of Emily’s throat; ropes and ropes spewed out. Emily didn’t stop. She continued to suck him off, tugging his testicles further and further down.
“Hey, Emily, stop.” John pleaded, thrashing.
Voraciously she consumed him. Flipping his softening penis with her tongue. At the same time, she hunkered down on his precious orbs, flattening them against the floor with her encompassing palm.
“Please stop.” Strained John.
Emily showed no signs of slowing down. His words seemed to encourage her. Running the risk of tearing his member, he rotated his hips side to side, hoping to escape Emily’s brutal suction. All at once, Emily released herself from John, letting his strained testicles slap against his pelvis. Sticky strings of cum dripped down from her mouth onto her carpet. John’s withering cock twitched slightly; his nuts nearly sucked up into his abdomen. He pulled against his restraints, curling from the pain emanating from his lower stomach. He groaned.
Emily seemed to take a sort of pleasure from it all. She leaned back, letting the strings of white cum fall onto her smooth breasts. John tilted his head back, staring at the warm glow of the light saturating the pastel room.
“John. Look.” Emily smiled.
The bound boy, still in his daze, tilted his head down, not quite able to meet her eyes. However, her hanging breasts were still well in view. If his penis hadn’t just been put through the metaphorical ringer of Em’s mouth, the reaction would have been instant. Emily reached out to John with her sticky fingers, pressing on his chin, she forced his eyes up to hers.
“Did you like it?” Emily asked, licking her lips.
“Yes.” John said.
Despite his discomfort in the current moment, he couldn't deny the euphoric experience he had undergone in Emily’s room. A feeling he wouldn't forget as long as he lived. While it was the first time he had ever received a blowjob, he understood the skill required to evoke such a powerful orgasm.
“Glad you enjoyed it.” Emily smiled.
She wiped the rest of John’s cum on her yoga pants and stood. John tilted his head back again, purely to marvel at her looming breasts. He was also given an ample helping of her general shape. Up close, her abnormal proportions deviated further. Her smooth, exposed navel contrasted heavily with her firm, yet supple bosom. Against her polished skin, her pink yoga pants gouged into her fleshy hips. She stretched, accentuating her rounded breasts. John, despite his daze, craved her bare-skin. He embraced the idea of her naked body rubbing against his own, the things he would do for that were beyond the scope of words.
“I’m going to clean up.” She yawned. “But don’t worry, I’ll be right back.” She winked, turning to her side.
With the same hop in her step, she exited to the left, through a lime-green door, leaving John alone with his thoughts. He sighed, relaxing his entire lower half. As his euphoria faded, the twinge within his stomach grew. John groaned out, unable to sate the urge of crumpling up into a ball.
During his legendary blowjob, Emily hadn’t gone easy on him. In its current state, his penis felt like mush, he found the idea of an erection in the moment impossible. He focused slightly lower, to his taught testicles. They were still throbbing slightly, as if they were still under the same pressure Emily had been exerting. John groaned again, the ever-present discomfort fully manifesting.
“Emily must like it rough." John chuckled to himself, somehow trying to rectify his discomfort, as well as Emily’s actions.
“I’m back!” Emily cooed.
She sauntered back to John, a white hand towel on her shoulder. Her face was free of any fluids, she had cleaned herself. Besides several stains on her pink pants, and a conspicuous wet spot between her legs, she was just as she was 30 minutes ago, when she led John into her room.
In most months, everything was either frozen, or covered in snow; there wasn’t much of a distinction. With the low temperature, came the need for appropriate attire. John was biting his tongue, invoking some form of punishment on himself. All that time, he hadn’t considered what lay beneath Emily's many layers. Her body was drop dead gorgeous. Even her face was something to be lost in. Was it an issue with his subconscious, not recognizing Emily for the true woman she was? John found it self-evident; it took her to offer a blowjob on the way back from school for him to truly notice it. But with that blunt invitation, came the rapid ripples of lust and desire. He wanted to touch her more; he wasn’t against the idea of even dating her.
“That was fun John, I’ve never had a dick that big in my mouth before. To think I would find it attached to my closest friend.” Emily giggled. “But like I said, your balls are lacking a little something.”
John’s face became flushed in a deep red, hearing Emily’s critical words. It also struck him as odd, being caught up in how she perceived him. Any time before, he would have shrugged it off as playful banter, but her tone was unlike anything he had heard before. It was as if she blamed him for something.
“Can you untie me Em?” John said, clearing his throat.
Silently, Emily strode over to one the kettlebells tying John down. Instead of unfastening the strap, she picked up her water bottle. Slowly, she walked back to her backpack, placing it with care.
“Hey John, why did you want me to suck your dick?” Emily asked bluntly.
John hadn’t considered the reason.
“Well, you’re very pretty, I guess.” John stuttered
“Because I’m pretty, huh? Do you like me then?”
“I mean... Why did you want to give me a blowjob?”
Emily chuckled, her rotund breasts reciprocating the motion.
“Somehow, I don’t think you would understand, John.”
“I mean, why now? Do you like me?” John asked.
The bound boy’s heart rate increased. He hoped the answer would be yes. Given all the evidence of affection, he was blindly guided to that conclusion.
“I’ll answer that question in just a second.” Emily cooed, her white teeth on display. “But for you, it may feel a pinch longer.”
Pressing her back bare foot into the fuzzy floor, she bolted at John. Her eyes had an unstoppable, determined look. While she was clearly speeding, her movements became lagged to the boy. Her pronounced mounds of flesh swayed in a mesmerizing way. However brief the moment, John fell under a spell, hyper-examining every inch of her body. Emily planted her petite foot into the floor, winding her other behind her. In a single fluid motion, she launched a kick, her entire body working to complete the one action.
Emily’s narrow foot blasted John’s descending balls. Her nimble toes caressed his danglers at first, then dug into them, punting them upwards. His nuts flew into his soggy cock, sending his bodily liquids spraying out. Droplets fell on his stomach, the carpet, and Emily’s pink shin. She laughed outright, her body heaving from her hysteria, but over John’s manic scream, it was incomparable.
John thrashed as hard as he could, attempting to undo the restraints holding his arms and legs in place. While his arms were too tightly bound, his legs attempted to unite.
“Wait John.” Emily said, firmly placing one of her feet on John’s sliding shin.
She slid her other foot out, keeping John’s legs parted. His reddening testicles were on full display for her to admire.
John tilted his thighs inwards, obscuring Emily’s view from his precious jewels.
“Emily, what the fuck is wrong with you?” John coughed.
The tortured boy wailed in pain. The straps welding him to the foot board; the more he struggled, the deeper they dug into his skin. However powerful his will, he was unable to fold his body; his only conceivable action was to cry. Through watery eyes, John attempted to appeal to Emily’s emotions. He looked into her hazel eyes, pleading.
“John, you little bitch.” She growled. “Spread your legs right now, or you’re going to regret it so much.”
Her gaze was peerless, devoid of remorse. John had never seen her so angry, not in the 11 years they had known each other. Still, he wouldn’t budge.
“Stay right there.” Emily said.
Swiftly, she trotted to her bright orange cabinet on the other side of the room, humming. She retrieved something particular from the bottom drawer. Purposefully, she stuck her rear out, hoping to arouse John. She pulled out two winding loops of silky rope. When she returned to John, she couldn’t help but laugh at his pathetic state. His entire body was covered in a cold sweat. While it was the appropriate response after receiving a direct punt to the testicles, Emily found his reaction extremely amusing.
“Emily, please let me go, this isn’t funny.” John whimpered.
Still humming to herself, Emily crouched next to John, ignoring his pleads for her to stop. Gently, she placed one of her petite hands on John’s straining thigh. She slid the rope between his clamped legs.
“You’re just going to make things worse on yourself, you know John.”
“Stop, stop.” John huffed, hyperventilating.
“Almost done.”
Emily tied a strong knot after wrapping the rope around John’s thigh several times.
“See? This isn’t so bad!” Emily smiled, pulling the silk taunt.
Only then did Emily's actions sink into John; she was trying to open his legs. He thrashed against her pulling force, turning his body in the direction she was trying to pull his leg.
“Hold still.” She grunted.
Emily thrusted her foot into John’s squishy thigh, while simultaneously prying apart the other one. The bound boy was unable to resist against Emily’s abnormal strength. John had always known Emily to be robust, but she was completely overpowering him! Still struggling with the pain of her foot defiling his manhood, he was helpless. Emily tied the other end of the silk rope to the foot of the bed.
“Time for the other one.” Emily cooed.
Emily took the other rope and wrapped it around John’s loose thigh, repeating the process. Now, completely bound, John’s hot testicles were completely exposed.
“I really like you like this, John.” Emily giggled.
She stood between John’s pried legs; her hazel eyes trained on his sagging jewels. She licked her lips. Without hesitation, she launched her arched foot into John’s tormented testicles. The results were immediate. John’s entire body spasmed, overcome with unfathomable pain. Emily shuddered with pleasure, her wet spot growing. She felt his squishy, yet simultaneously hard testicles slide and scrunch against her polished foot, bringing her to near-orgasmic levels of euphoria.
“Emily, please stop it!” John cried.
“Nope!”
Emily shot another direct, compromising kick into John’s swelling testicles and ravaged penis. His leathery sack and vulnerable balls split between her foot, compressing against his pelvis. Before he could even attempt to recover or compose himself, she brought her heel down, slamming his orbs into the carpet. Wide mouthed, John lost all sense of himself, as well as Emily, that was, besides her invasive foot. She ground the ball of her foot in a circular motion, before using his precious bits as a spring.
She was relentless, treating herself in lieu of John’s pain, indulging in her pleasure. She stepped back, before launching another furious strike into his danglers. Seeing John on the brink of unconsciousness, Emily abruptly stopped her strikes. Her heart was in her head, the constant thumping nearly drowning out John’s desperate cries. Emily caressed her breasts, the overwhelming flesh and fabric overwhelming her relatively small hands.
She lost her patience, John’s agonizing pain tickling the sadist within. Emily propelled her arched foot again, and again, and again. John’s orbs twisted within his red scrotum. No matter how chaotic their movements were, Emily’s tyrannical foot and curled toes ravaged his sensitive nerves, bludgeoning each of them equally. John was a mess; having lost all strength, his arms and legs were motionless, limp like his penis. His tears rolled over his scrunched face, combining with the dried pre-cum on his stomach.
Emily continued to pound John’s nuts, her cadence becoming predictable. Less than a second after a strike, another would succeed it. John couldn’t fathom it any longer; he pleaded with himself to lose consciousness. But simply, his body wouldn’t allow it, forcing him to savor Emily’s heartless testicle torture. Emily let out a feminine grunt every time her arch devastated John’s swelling nuts. It was completely disproportionate to the true striking force. Each time John’s crying testicles were bullied into his pelvis, his body would shake as a whole. Emily’s entire queen-sized bed shook with her precise kicks, funneled through John’s precious organs.
Emily smiled down at John, mostly at his swollen nut-sack, admiring her footwork. She fell to her knees, then her stomach, her sticky breasts creating a ramp, keeping her head level with John’s shriveled penis.
“Holy fuck John, that was incredible.” Emily panted.
The aroused Emily’s sensual breath caressed John’s genitals. Even that caused him to wince, her clutching exhale gripping his pulsating testicles.
“Your balls sagged so much after I gave you that blowjob, I couldn’t help but go extra hard on them.”
Emily lightly caressed the bottom of John’s tormented testicles with her shaky hand. Unable to hear his groans and screams over her own beating heart.
“Emily, let me go.” John wailed.
Emily smirked, and slapped John’s danglers. John let out another pint of tears.
“John, your balls are so hot, so beautiful. Look at how large they’re becoming.”
John’s childhood friend snatched his nuts with one hand, squeezing as if she was trying to fuse them into one. John thrashed again, pure pain radiating through his body. His raw nut meat bulged between Emily’s fingers. With her second hand, Emily prodded his exposed meat, where her other fingers wouldn’t reach.
“Look at this little guy too.” Emily giggled.
The busty girl pinched John’s flabby foreskin with her thumb and index, lifting the flaccid penis off her handiwork.
“He kept getting in the way of my kicks, maybe he wants some action too?”
Emily invaded John’s foreskin again, sifting her fingers around and under his sensitive glans. John groaned and instinctively bucked. Emily pulled her finger out, examining her find.
“Look, I found white gold!” she snickered, lapping John’s semen from her finger.
Her hand returned to his member, stroking his tip. John continued to convulse. After the insurmountable amounts of pain his exposed genitals had received from Emily’s kicks, the waves of rolling pleasure felt like a completely new experience, one he had never had before. Emily hunkered down on John’s jewels, pulling them lower and lower. Simultaneously, she increased the cadence of her strokes, her hand appearing as a blur.
Despite his gut and nut-busting pain, he managed to hold an erection, Emily skillful hand surpassing the limits of his defined bliss. He was full mast, his member towering over Emily’s shiny face, casting a long shadow. On the horizon, John could see pods of whales. That, or it was the spots blotting his vision. Either way, they were close, their blowholes primed. John tilted his head down to Emily, her ferocious swells rocking his craft. John was so close to seeing the blowhole gush, the surge was within his scope. Emily pulled down on his anchor, flattening his orbs on the carpet, securing his position. John groaned, hope of blowing his load fading into oblivion.
Emily wiggled her ass, laughing as she continued to smother John’s testicles into her now sticky carpet. She had found a sweet spot, where she could stroke his bulging cock as fast as she wanted, without the worry of him spurting his seed unannounced. John had run out of tears, now, in pure hysteria, he thumped his head against the hickory foot board, begging for unconsciousness.
Emily stopped everything, taking her hands off John’s cock and balls. John yelped and bucked at the same time. Half of him wanted to be pushed over the edge by Emily’s hand, while the other wanted to curl up forever. He bucked his hips, trying to acquire enough stimulus from the air. His testicles slapped against his taint as he furiously fucked the air. Overall, it brought him more pain than pleasure, his sore nuts slapping against himself.
“Here, let me help you John.” Emily cooed.
The ball-busting beast blew along the underside of John’s upright cock, sending lube dribbling out of his slit. Emily’s eyes tracked the slow crawl of the clear liquid down to John’s swaying testicles, reigniting her passion for them.
“John, this has been the best 7 minutes of my life. The blowjob was a nice challenge, taking something that long. But the thrashing I gave you, the motions and screams you made, it was on an entirely different level.”
John’s eyes bulged out of his head. It had only been 7 minutes? Had Emily really kept track? If pressed, John wouldn’t have been able to construct a sentence conveying the time he had perceived.
“I’m not finished though, and neither are you.”
Emily gripped John’s cock as if her life depended on it. A clear stream of pre-cum ejected from John’s red tip, as she slid her constricting hand up his shaft. On the downstroke, Emily struck John’s balls. She held her welled fist in that position, relishing in John’s pained screams. She continued to stroke, over and over, making sure her fist struck her prisoner’s swelling nuts.
John ignored the pain to the best of his ability, focusing on Emily’s diligent hand bringing him waves of pleasure. John, through the blood rushing in his ears, heard a high pitch squeal. He couldn’t discern if it came from him or his torturer. All he could fathom was the monstrous load spewing from his sore penis. Rope after rope arced over Emily’s head, landing on her curvy, pink butt.
“You’re so lively!”
Emily didn’t stop stroking. It was as if she hadn’t realized John had already unloaded all of his testicle's contents. John’s mind broke. His eyes rolled into the back of his head, as pleasure turned into pain, adding another layer to his deep nut-ache. It took Emily a moment to realize that John was unresponsive, and even when she did, she continued to milk his withering cock, until his slippery penis was ungraspable. She inhaled John’s musk, licking bits of cum off her hand.
“Wakey wakey!”
Emily slammed the back of her sticky hand into John’s balls. His entire body twitched, encouraging Emily to continue. She batted them about like a curious cat with a ball of yarn, treating it like her prey. Given the limited amount of space she had, her uppercuts lacked impact, instead, she focused on pressing them deeper into his pelvis, as well as smashing the sticky scrotum into John’s spayed thighs. Over time, her amusement dwindled; John hadn’t responded for the past 3 minutes. She pursed her lips, and stood.
“I guess even if I do this with you John, it isn’t fun when you don’t make a sound.” Emily shot a glance at the analog clock to her right, biting her lip. “I guess I should clean you up, after I do one more thing.”
Emily reached around John’s limp leg, where her blue ribbon was. She placed her hands under John’s slumped sack, caressing his testicles. Lightly, she felt around the contents within; her heart leapt out of her chest when she realized they were both still intact. She wanted to kiss John right there. Surely, she thought his bits wouldn’t have been able to survive her onslaught. Pulling his still intact testicles to the bottom of his scrotum, Emily wrapped the tape measure around the meatiest portion; she gasped when she saw the number. She wrote it down, still shaking.
“I need to take a picture.” Emily heaved, scrambling over to her phone.
Returning to John, she prodded his kiwi sized testicles. She snapped tens of photos, each accentuating a certain angle each time. Near the end of her spree, Emily snapped a selfie with the re-emerging John. The bound boy blinked several times, watching Emily take pictures of his shriveled cock.
“Em.” John moaned.
“Oh John, you’re awake again? How do your balls feel? Are they hot? I know I am. Are they sore yet?” Emily giggled. She retrieved a photo from her phone, eager to show John her handiwork up close. “See look, there’s a little bruising! But don’t worry, I checked, they’re not broken.”
John let out a long groan, his voice crackling like dry firewood. Emily let out her same giggle, triggering something within John. It was the same high pitch sound she produced when tenderizing his nuts. The same sound when John would tell her jokes at school, it was the same as it had been for the past 11 years; they were identical. Emily bit her bottom lip, her hunger displaying itself again. She wrapped her slender, warm arms around John's neck, pressing her tremendous breasts against her prisoner's muscular chest.
“I had a great time today.” Emily said, licking John’s neck. “You know, when I was batting your balls around, I was worried I was going to break you. But I never wanted to do that, you’re different from the other boys, I knew it. When Ken Culver got his balls broken, I was afraid of doing it again, but you gave me confidence.”
Emily brought one of her arms down to John’s nether regions, tenderly fondling John’s aching orbs, bringing him gut-tearing pain; all John could do was let Emily violate him, unable to take any initiative.
“Your testicular circumference is 9 inches. When I worked Ken, while his testicles were ruptured, it was 12 inches. And as far as I’m concerned, you have a much higher potential.”
Emily gently pinched John’s epididymis, like she had done at the start. She smiled, landing a kiss on John’s chin, before standing.
“The truth might be John, I do like you. I put my entire back into that blowjob, and my kicks.”
Emily pulled her raven hair to the side, picking out strands of semen from it, flicking it to the carpet. She crouched down, her breasts providing a cushion as she pressed herself against her own knees. Slowly, she unstrapped John from his confines.
“I hope you get better John, better soon. I can’t wait for it.” Emily grinned.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Thanks for reading my story! I would really appreciate feedback/criticism. I’ve just started getting into the ballbusting writing world, mainly I’ve written about what engages me in particular, without taking into account other people's interests.
Not sure if I'll extend this particular narrative in the future, but it's always possible! (I have many ideas) I would really like to know if the overall tempo is enjoyable! I tried aiming at a good mix between pain, pleasure, and narrative; also, flavorful descriptions.
If anyone feels like I could improve on any of those points, I would love to hear! I want to create interesting, fappable, cohesive stories centered around females beat’n balls :) Thanks!
submitted by Agent_BB86 to BallbustingStories [link] [comments]

McDonald v. Chicago: a 10 year postmortem

On this day in history, John Roberts was - in a now-rare display - not a pussy and delivered to us what should have been the end of the gun debate. In Heller, we affirmed the common sense reading of the 2A: the right to keep and bear arms unconnected from a militia. In McDonald, this decision was incorporated against the states.
And now here we are, 10 years later, still suffering from much of the same bullshit. Feature bans still on the books in many states. A presidential candidate openly running with safe storage laws in his platform (among plenty of other absolutely heinous bullshit; this is only remarkable to me since it was explicitly struck down already in Heller). Firearm owner IDs and purchase permits. "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR15." And so on. In less than a decade, the lower courts turned this supposed "landmark decision" into toilet paper, and now the SCOTUS is too cowardly to even lift a finger about it. The highest court in the land, openly flouted by a bunch of activist judges.
There seems to be an idea spreading far and wide across all of firearm Reddit that if RBG will just finally push some daisies, then the balance of power on the SCOTUS can finally turn, and we can finally be rid of all of this for good. I think this is maybe partially true, but it is certainly only true for a finite period of time. Gentlemen, the world is closing in on us. Our country is being recomposed against us. It's media, it's culture (Hollywood, etc.), many of its state governments, and its academic institutions have all been turned into weapons designed to destroy us. We have maybe 15 years left before the democrats - NFA expansions, AWBs with no sunset provisions, and all - secure a permanent demographic majority over the nation. At that time, they will have the sole authority to nominate federal judges, perhaps even expanding and packing the Supreme Court with revisionist historians. The silver bullet that many of you have been praying for will have vanished entirely. In addition, you can already expect that the next time they control both houses of the legislature, they will eliminate the filibuster and make Puerto Rico and DC states in order to pack the Senate. They are fully done playing by the rules and have now reached the stage of just flipping the game board and outright seizing power by whatever means necessary.

You must accept now that we are going to lose.

Some of you may not like to hear it, but it is better to get it through your head now so you can think ahead rather than be caught under-prepared when the inevitable happens. We are not yet in the ammo box, but at this time, we can pretty definitely say we have reached jury box, at least at the federal level. And John Roberts is doing his absolute fucking best to make sure we blow right by that one too. This does not mean we just accept the inevitable. I am going to go on the record right now and say I voted straight ticket Republican in 2016, and you bet your ass I will do it again in 2020. Having do-nothings in power is a lot better than having the people actively seeking to destroy your gun rights in their entirety. I think our chances of long term victory are nil, but the longer that we forestall judgment day, the longer we have to prepare.
Get in shape. Stack ammo, magazines, and wear parts up to the ceiling. Find like-minded patriots who believe in the culture and institutions that made this country great to begin with. Train, train, train. We have a lot ahead of us.
submitted by Positive-Bad to Firearms [link] [comments]

[SocJus] Equestria Daily: "On Racism in the Fandom, and Equestria Daily Going Forward"

So Equestria Daily, the largest site for the My Little Pony fandom, has just issued a statement about the recent news article of Nazis in the MLP fandom. Now, normally I'd just link to the story and move on, but we've reach a point in the current moral panic where I can no longer contain my screams at how everyone is abandoning rationality in their haste to demonstrate that they're not bad-thinkers, lest the censors and moral scourges bring the wrath of the self-righteous mob down on them. Because if nuance and reason are nothing but fig leaves for moral corruption, then I'm sorry but the price for whatever "better world" these fuckers want to build is starting to look too damn high.
As most of you have probably heard by now, The Atlantic did a piece on the fandom a few days ago about a underground movement of Nazis and general alt-right pony fans who lurk in the shadows of our little online pony world here. This has sparked a lot of justified outrage, with many demanding that imagery involving their movement be removed from the biggest sites in the fandom.
What exactly is it that makes this outrage "justified"? There's necessarily more to it than simply disliking, disagreeing with, or disapproving of some particular content. No, to demand that some content be removed (even if you try and preface that with "(only from) the biggest sites in the fandom," that's a bit of pretension that pretends that these people will be fine with it being posted elsewhere, which we know is false), necessarily transcends mere personal feelings of "it's not for me."
This level of "justified outrage" requires that the work in question be deemed immoral in nature. That is, that it's held to intrinsically damage the fabric of (some segment of) a society, and therefore allows for said society to suppress, expel, or destroy said work in order to maintain its social integrity. Which sounds understandable on its face until you remember that we're talking about art.
Yes, you can say that cartoon pony bullshit doesn't live up to the title of being "art," but that's a half-witted attempt at deflection. "Art" is not limited to those creative works that have been decided by society at large to have cultural value. Rather, it's the recognition that any creative endeavor has the potential to be reevaluated at any time in our future history and found to possess value that previous generations might not have recognized. And so we hold it to be self-evident that the suppression of art is wrong, even when it's simply pushed out of a society instead of being outright destroyed.
But fuck it, that means standing up for shit that's not only childish, embarrassing, disgusting, and even "racist," which means that the only people who'd do that are clearly degenerates, disguising their corruption behind a wall of appeals to pseudo-conceptual higher morals, right?
Stuff that has slipped through the cracks over the years as parody or just generally lost in the flood of content that happens due to our humongous creative side.
How do you know it's not parody?! Do you have some sort of superpower that lets you break Poe's law at will? Or are you just so pants-shittingly scared of people thinking that you're in league with the Nazi League of Evil that you're afraid to allow for anything that could be construed as "racist"?
For the sake of not bumping regular pony stuff off the front page, I'm throwing the break in here. If you want nothing to do with this, I understand. For many in our fandom, pony is an escape from the troubles of real life, and keeping it pure is important. Know that while we will continue to post art and celebrate content that champions good causes, the site itself will not be turning into a world news site. We post ponies, and that will always be the focus.
Yeah, the disclaimer here would be a lot easier to believe if it didn't simply take one half-assed article to make you fold like a cheap card table. Seriously, did any notable segment of the fandom itself think that this was a real problem? While I have no doubt that there were a few dissidents complaining that shit that they didn't like was allowed to exist on the websites they visited, the hammer of social disapproval was thrown down by someone who quite clearly wasn't part of your community. Why are you bending over backwards to accommodate people who aren't part of your subculture?
So... evils in the Brony fandom.
Oh fuck you for granting the premise, you fucking coward.
I personally completely flopped with the initial Atlantic article about it. I spend a large amount of time every day digging into the actual content being created to post here on the site and keep you all informed on what is going on with the official show and fandom projects, but when it comes to exploring the discussions, causes, and mumbling going on behind the scenes I haven't ever been very attentive.
This sounds suspiciously like a mea culpa, which is exactly what you don't want to do. Just because you run a fandom website doesn't require that you police what's being posted there for anything except shit that's blatantly illegal. You should in no way feel responsible for culling "evil" content!
I'm not involved in much on that side of things. I have my tight artist communities and the like, but we rarely discuss what is actually happening in the fandom in favor of sticking to just sharing cool content and critiquing that. Politics in particular are something I never cross my pony streams with, but this has moved on past the world of simple politics.
Why? Because some hack of a jackass wrote an article condemning your community for not living up to their standards? Why are you accepting their take on what's going on in a tiny amount of what's already a fairly niche subculture? Why not just say "go fuck yourself, the existence of this stuff in no way evidences moral degeneracy on our part, and we reject your labeling us that way"?
Needless to say, I never realized the actual racism was so prevalent.
FUCKING HELL!!! What makes you think that it is?! Even leaving aside quantitative definitions of what constitutes "prevalent," what makes you so sure that it's "actual racism"?! At what point is shitposting, irreverance, and yes, even "edgy" content taken to be evidence of actual beliefs?! Most people that I know of enjoy blowing off steam by engaging in symbolic rejections of social norms, even when they believe in those norms themselves! People who would never seriously hurt someone like to play violent video games (oh, excuse me, "murder simulators"). People who respect women will enjoy porn that features all sorts of degrading sex-play. And people who are committed to judging others by the content of their character will engage in politically incorrect expressions. This is a healthy way of relieving themselves of stress, NOT some secret expression of actual antipathy toward people who are different from them!
That the jokey World War 2 OC's that occasionally pop up on my Deviant Art subscriptions had gone from parody to actual shoutouts to fellow like-minded racists. I knew there were some people that took it too far, but it has evolved into a disturbing little movement that we obviously want no part of here on EQD.
Fuck you! How do you know that it's become some sort of "dog-whistle" (a term that's been inflated to mean that anything and everything has become "coded language" now)? Maybe the shout-outs are to other people who aren't interested in having their down-time policed, and simply want to meet other like-minded individuals who are interested in not being judged for enjoying harmless displays of counterculture? Why is that presumption rejected outright?
Even I, back in the early days, got a kick out of "Aryanne", an OC Nazi pony that was used more as a slapstick Inglourious Basterds or Jojo Rabbit style parody than anything. Looking back, it is definitely a black mark on my overall fandom record and something I regret. Especially now that she has essentially become a mascot to the current hate breeding in our community.
NO NO NO NO NO!!! You're doing it again! Stop presuming that the judgment of the moral scolds is necessarily true and correct! Give people the benefit of the doubt before you decide that they're simply trying to find a paper-thin covering for being evil!
So some people made a blonde-haired blue-eyed white pony with a swastika cutie mark. Just typing that sentence should make it fucking clear that this isn't meant to be taken seriously! You'd have think people figured that out once we had people unironically reporting that a cartoon frog was a Nazi symbol, but apparently the hysteria is alive and well.
And you know what? Even if these things are being co-opted by actual neo-Nazis, guess what? The proper thing to do is to take them back! Instead of saying "well, this is tainted now, better abandon it like a French line of defense," you dig in and say "No! These things are OURS, and we won't let them be redefined!"
While the wild west that is 4chan tends to be the place stuff like this is assumed to be coming from, it's not entirely to blame this time. We've received numerous reports that there are entire alt-right Brony Discord groups that regularly share and promote racist ideologies.
What the fuck do you mean you've received "reports" that these groups exist? Are people under the impression that you're some sort of authority position in the fandom, instead of just being a news and content repository? Because if so, you've clearly swallowed the hype, and it's not helping you.
That's not even getting into these groups themselves, which might be actual racist groups or might just be people who enjoy the ironic nature of taking a show and presenting it as something completely opposite to its original nature. For fuck's sake, fandoms tend to love reimagining, reinterpreting, and reworking shit as a rule! Yeah, a lot of it is Rule 34 porn, most of it is shit, and some of it is porn involving shit, but that doesn't mean that this is somehow reflective of the reality that the people involved want to see!
Do those reports of "groups that post racist ideologies" include the "zebradom" fans? For those who don't know, this is another sub-niche in the brony fandom that involves zebras (after people decided that the show's one canon zebra character character represented black people) taking over the pony nation of Equestria, typically involving forced sexual subjugation. Why is there no moral hand-wringing going on over that? The selective nature of this outrage showcases just how unreliable it is.
Convention parties with Hitler flags and Nazi salutes, which sounds like the most bizarre thing ever coming from a fandom about colorful talking horses of all shapes and shades. Here we are though, and it's something that we need to grapple with going forward.
What the fuck? Did that ever even actually happen? Did it happen with any sort of regularity, or is this like people dressing up as Imperial officers from Star Wars? Because right now this sounds like an urban legend right up there with rainbow parties.
For Equestria Daily, we already stopped posting Aryanne and the various other nazi ponies ages ago, and I want to assure you all they won't be coming back. While I have always been a champion of free speech especially in art, due to how much pain these characters cause people, we simply don't feel it worth promoting in any way shape or form. There are places to explore that art if you want it. They aren't welcome here though. She has slipped through with her butt symbol hidden a few times due to the sheer flood of art we get, but if it ever happens in the future, know that I or any of the others on the site are just an email away for quick removal.
You can do what you want on your own website, buddy. But you don't get to call yourself a champion of free speech in the arts if you start taking down content just because of some so-called "pain" that it causes some people. It's one thing to be violently assaulted on the street, it's another to experience some sort of existential crisis because a drawing triggered you. Saying that people are free to do it somewhere else is your way of trying to say "I'm not really suppressing speech." Yes, you are. You might have a legal right to do so, but in terms of actual moral actions, this is you compromising and trying to make a surrender seem like a win.
As for the people involved in this, they are out there. Your best bet is to avoid supporting them in any way. In the end, these types will always find a hole to conduct their business from. The internet has millions of them. Enjoy the pone, and keep supporting good causes and good creators.
And you had to go completely over the edge right at the end there, didn't you? "Avoid supporting them in any way"? So you want these people marginalized? Ostracized? Exiled from society completely? Because in my experience, that's the quickest way to radicalize someone. People who are invested in society don't try to undermine it, but when you push them out of a society then they're quick to realize that they don't have much left to lose.
When you tell people that they're already part of a dangerous fringe group, it doesn't elicit some sort of panicked reaction where they try and dissociate themselves from them. It makes them wonder if that fringe really isn't so bad after all, since they're apparently already part of it. You claim to be against racism, but you keep surrendering intellectual territory to racists, and portraying them as being simultaneously a group of pathetic, disgusting people who are somehow also an existential threat to contemporary society.
Posts like this one inflate the presence of the very thing they claim to stand against, because they've surrendered rational thought for panic, joining the mob in order to avoid being targeted by it. No good can come of such things, and I mourn for what will be lost before the unsustainable push for greater and greater moral purity finally collapses in on itself.
EDIT: So Quillette has posted a rebuttal article, which Equestria Daily has signal-boosted, albeit with far less enthusiasm.
submitted by JustOneAmongMany to KotakuInAction [link] [comments]

A PUSH in sports betting is when a total is a whole number like 48 points and the combined score hits it exactly. For instance, let’s pretend the Patriots are playing the Saints and the total is set at 48. If the final score is 28-20, that would be considered a PUSH since all points scored equal 48. Handicap betting is a type of betting used across a wide range of sports, usually to even out the odds when one side is a clear favourite. One side is given a head start – be it of goals, points or games depending on the sport or event – whilst the other side starts on minus the equivalent number. Define outright. outright synonyms, outright pronunciation, outright translation, English dictionary definition of outright. adv. 1. Without reservation or qualification; openly: finally responded outright to the question. Betting the underdog Lions, you are "taking" six points, and they can lose by five or fewer, or win the game outright, and you have a winning bet. If the Bears win by exactly six, both sides "push" and all bets are returned. It's also a push if the final score equals 42, otherwise the over or under will win. Outright Bet: An outright bet is the most straightforward wager that you can make. You can place an outright bet on a League winner, a Cup winner, a horse to win a race or who will be the next Prime Minister. This is just a straight single wager when you pick on selection from an event to win. Outsider: The opposite of a favourite.

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