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Oscars 2021: An inside look (like, really inside) to 50 possible contenders in the next awards race

Another Oscar ceremony happened, and we got our fair share of joy and disappointment. After Parasite surprised the world and took Best Picture, it seems like the game has changed for the awards race, now that non-English speaking films can actually fight and be recognized as well as classics as… Green Book. The Oscar race is still full of pain and glory, and even though the year has barely started, we have a bunch of movies that are fighting for air. And here’s 50 of them. Yes, I had some free time in my hands and this is a cool hobby, so I took the liberty to introduce most of the movies that will have Film Twitter entertained for the following 12 months. I say most, because there are always contenders who come out of nowhere later in the year, so this is the starter set. Here we go.
-Annette: Since Parasite’s road to the Oscars started at Cannes, it seems fair to talk about a movie that is circling a premiere in the world stage that is set in France. After delivering weird, indie classics like Mauvais Sang and Holy Motors (yes, the kind of movies that make you seem like a snob when you recommend them to people), Leos Carax is making his first movie spoken in the English language… and it has a musical screenplay written by the cult rock duo of Sparks. Recently robbed Adam Driver and previous Oscar winner Marion Cotillard sing in this tale of a stand-up comedian and a famous soprano singer who rise and fall in Los Angeles while their daughter is born with a special gift. It seems like a wild bet, but we already know that Carax is a master with musical moments, so this is one of the most intriguing question marks of the year.
-Ammonite: It’s time to talk narratives. On the one hand, we have Kate Winslet, a known name who hasn’t been very successful in the Oscar race since her Oscar win for The Reader over a decade ago (with the exception being her supporting performance in Steve Jobs, where she had a weird accent). On the other, we have Saoirse Ronan, a star on the rise who keeps collecting Oscar nominations, with 4 nods at the age of 25, including her fresh Best Actress loss for Little Women. What happens if we put them together in a drama set in the coasts of England during the 19th century where both of them fall for each other? That’s gonna be a winning formula if writedirector Francis Lee (who tackled queer romance in his acclaimed debut God’s Own Country) nails the Mary Anning story, and Neon (the distribution company founded three years ago that took Parasite to victory) is betting on it.
-Benedetta: We know the Paul Verhoeven story. After isolating himself from Hollywood for over a decade, he took Isabelle Huppert to an Oscar nominated performance with the controversial, sexy, dark and funny thriller Elle. Now, he’s back with another story that perks up the ears, because now he’s covering the life of Benedetta Carlini, a 17th-century lesbian nun who had religious and erotic visions. If you know Paul, you already can tell that this fits into his brand of horniness, and a possible Cannes premiere could tell us if this has something to carry itself to Oscar night.
-Blonde: With a short but impactful directorial credits list that takes us from Chopper, to The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford to Killing Them Softly, Andrew Dominik is back with a film about Marilyn Monroe, a woman who has transcended the ideas of fame and stardom, in ways that are glamorous and nightmarish at the same time. After failing to launch with Naomi Watts or Jessica Chastain,the rising Ana de Armas takes the lead in the retelling of Monroe’s troubled life based on Joyce Carol Oates’ novel, which is said to be covered in the screenplay as somewhat of a horror movie. We don’t know what that means yet, but Netflix is gonna push hard for this one, especially considering how the Academy loves throwing awards to stars playing previous stars, and that also can possibly include co-stars Bobby Cannavale and Adrien Brody.
-Breaking News in Yuba County: While he hasn’t gone back to the heights of his success achieved by the box office and award success of The Help (a movie that did not age well), Tate Taylor is still enjoying himself economically due to recent thrillers like The Girl on the Train and Ma. For his next movie, he’s made a dramedy that once again reunites him with Oscar winner Allison Janney, where she plays a woman who has to keep appearances and a hidden body when she catches her husband cheating on her, and then he dies of a heart attack. With a cast that also includes Mila Kunis, Regina Hall, Awkwafina, Samira Wiley, Wanda Sykes, Jimmi Simpson and Ellen Barkin, this could be a buzzy title later this year.
-C’mon C’mon: You may love or hate whatever Joaquin Phoenix did in Joker, but you can’t deny the benefit of playing the Crown Prince of Crime in an Oscar-winning performance. The blank check that you share with indie directors afterwards. Now that Joaquin’s cultural cachet is on the rise, Mike Mills gets to benefit with this drama that stars Phoenix and Gaby Hoffmann, with him playing an artist left to take care of his precocious young nephew as they forge an unexpected bond over a cross country trip. We only have to wonder if A24 will do better with this movie’s Oscar chances compared to 20th Century Women.
-Cherry: After killing half the universe and bringing them back with the highest grossing movie of all time, where do you go? For Joe and Anthony Russo, the answer is “away from the Marvel Cinematic Universe”. The Russo brothers are trying to distance themselves and prove that they have a voice without Kevin Feige behind them, with a crime drama that’s also different than their days when they directed You, Me and Dupree or episodes of Arrested Development and Community. To help them in the journey, they took Tom Holland (who also needs to distance himself from Spider-Man, lest he ends up stuck to the character in the audience’s eyes) to star in a crime drama based on former Army medic Nico Walker’s memoir about his days after Iraq, where the PTSD and an opioid addiction led him to start robbing banks.
-Da 5 Bloods: After bouncing back from a slump with the critical and commercial success of BlackKklansman, Spike Lee is cashing a Netflix check to tell the tale of four African American veterans who return to Vietnam to search for their fallen leader and some treasure. With a cast that includes Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Paul Walter Hauser and Chadwick Boseman, this sounds like an interesting combo, although we still should remember the last time that Spike tried his hand at a war movie, with the dull Miracle at St. Anna.
-Dune: If you are on Reddit, you probably know about the new film by movies’ new Messiah, Denis Villeneuve. While the epic sci-fi novel by Frank Herbert is getting a new chance in the multiplexes after that David Lynch movie that was forgotten by many, some are hoping that this will be the beginning of a new franchise (as seen by the release date of December 18, taking the spot of the usual Star Wars opening), and a return to the whole “remember when stuff like Return of the King or Fury Road were nominated for Best Picture?” question. Timothee Chalamet will be riding a lot of hope, and sandworm.
-Everybody’s Talking About Jamie: As you start to see, there are several musicals that are gonna be fighting for attention over the next year, and Annette was the first one. Now, we also have this adaptation of the hit West End production, that centers around a gay British teenager who dreams of becoming a drag queen and get his family and schoolmates to accept his sexuality. With a cast that mixes young unknowns, familiar Brits (Sharon Horgan, Sarah Lancashire and my boy Ralph Ineson) and the previously nominated legend that is Richard E. Grant (who is playing a former drag queen named Loco Chanelle), the creative team of the stage musical will jump to the big screen with the help of Fox Searchlight (sorry, just Searchlight), who has clear Oscar hopes with a release date right in the middle of awards heat, on October 23.
-Hillbilly Elegy: Even though the Parasite victory gave many people hope for a new Academy that stops recognizing stuff like previous winner Green Book… let’s be honest, the Academy will still look for movies like Green Book. This year, many people are turning their eyes towards Ron Howard’ adaptation of J.D. Vance’s memoir about his low income life in a poor rural community in Ohio, filled with drugs, violence and verbal abuse. If this sounds like white trash porn, it doesn’t help to know that Glenn Close, who has become the biggest living Oscar bridesmaid with seven nominations, will play a character called Mamaw. And if that sounds trashy, then you have to know that Amy Adams, who follows Glenn with six nominations, is playing her drug-addicted, careless daughter. I don’t want to call this “Oscar bait”, but it sure is tempting.
-I’m Thinking of Ending Things: After his stopmotion existential dramedy Anomalisa got him a Best Animated Feature nomination at the Oscars but at the same time bombed at the box office, Charlie Kaufman is getting the Netflix check. This time, he’s adapting the dark novel by Iain Reid, about a woman (Jessie Buckley, who is on the rise and took over the role after Brie Larson had to pass) who is taken by her boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) to meet his parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis), in a trip that takes a turn for the worse. If Kaufman can deliver with this one, it will be a big contender.
-In the Heights: Yes, more musicals! This time, it’s time to talk about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Tony-winning musical, that was overshadowed because of his other small play about some treasury secretary. Now, his Broadway ensemble tale about life in a neighborhood in Washington Heights is jumping to the movie screen with Jon Chu at the helm, following the success of Crazy Rich Asians. This Latino tale mixes up-and-comers like Anthony Ramos (who comes straight from Hamilton and playing Lady Gaga’s friend in A Star is Born), names like Corey Hawkins and Jimmy Smits (who is pro bits), and Olga Merediz, who starred in the Broadway show as Abuela Claudia and who could be the early frontrunner for Best Supporting Actress, if Chu allows her to shine like she did onstage.
-Jesus Was My Homeboy: When looking at up-and-coming Black actors right now in Hollywood, two of the top names are Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield, who already appeared in the same movie in Get Out, which earned Kaluuya a Best Actor nomination. This time, they share the screen in Shaka King’s retelling of the story of Fred Hampton (Kaluuya), an activist and Black Panther leader… as well as the story of William O’Neal (Stanfield), the FBI agent sent by J. Edgar Hoover to infiltrate the party and arrest him. With the backing of Warner Bros, this will attempt to make an impact with a clash of actors that will have to fight with an August release date, not the ideal time to release an awards movie.
-King Richard: Starting with Suicide Squad, Will Smith has been trying to prove that he’s back and better than ever. Some attempts to get back to the top of the A-list (Aladdin, Bad Boys For Life) have worked, while others (Gemini Man, Spies in Disguise)... have not. But Will is still going, and now he’s going for his next prestige play as he plays Richard Williams, the coach and father of the tennis legends Venus and Serena, who pushed them to their full potential. While it’s weird that the father of the Williams sisters is getting a movie before them, it does sound like a meaty role for Smith, who has experience with Oscar notices with sports biopics because of what he did with Michael Mann in Ali. Let’s hope director Reinaldo Marcus Green can take him there too.
-Last Night in Soho: Every year, one or two directors who have a cool reputation end up in the Dolby Theatre, and 2020 could be the year of Edgar Wright. After delivering his first big box office hit with Baby Driver, the Brit is going back to London to tell a story in the realm of psychological horror, which has been supposedly inspired by classics like Don’t Look Now and Repulsion. With a premise that supposedly involves time travel and a cast that includes Anya-Taylor Joy, Thomasin McKenzie, Matt Smith and Diana Rigg, Wright (who also co-wrote this with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who was just nominated for Best Original Screenplay for her work in 1917) is making a big swing.
-Let Them All Talk: Every year there’s more new streaming services, and that also means that there’s new players in the Oscar game. To secure subscribers to the new service, HBO Max has secured the rights to the next Steven Soderbergh movie, a comedy that stars Meryl Streep as a celebrated author that takes her friends (Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest) and her nephew (Lucas Hedges, again) in a journey to find fun and come to terms with the past. The last time that Soderbergh and Streep worked together, the end result was the very disappointing The Laundromat. Let’s hope that this time everything works out.
-Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: Now that Netflix got the deal to adapt August Wilson’s acclaimed plays with Denzel Washington’s production company, the next jump from the stage to the screen is a meaty one. Viola Davis is playing blues singer Ma Rainey in this tale of a heated recording session with her bandmates, her agent and her producer in 1927, with a cast that also includes Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman and Colman Domingo. The Tony nominated play talked about race, art and the intersection of the two, and it’s gonna be explosive to see that unfold on screen, even if director George C. Wolfe’s previous filmography isn’t very encouraging.
-Macbeth: In a shocking development, the Coen brothers are no more. Well, just this time. For the first time in his career, Joel Coen is making a movie without Ethan, and it’s a Shakespeare adaptation. Denzel Washington is playing the man who wants to be king of Scotland, and Frances McDormand is playing his Lady Macbeth. While this just started filming and it will be a race to finish it in time for competition in the awards race, the potential is there, and this project has everybody’s attention.
-Mank: After scoring 24 Oscar nominations and only winning 2 awards last Sunday, Netflix has to wonder what else must they do to get in the club that awards them. They tried with Cuarón, they tried with Scorsese, they tried with Baumbach, they tried with two Popes, and they still feel a barrier. Now, the big gamble for awards by the streamer in 2020 comes to us in the hands of David Fincher, who is basically their friend after the rest of Hollywood denied him (Disney dropped his 20,000 Leagues adaptation, HBO denied the US remake of Utopia, and Paramount drove World War Z 2 away from him). In his first movie since 2014’s Gone Girl, David will go black and white to tackle a script by his late father about the making of the classic of classics, Citizen Kane, with previous Oscar winner Gary Oldman playing the lead role of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz. Will the Academy fall for the ultimate “power of da moviesshhh” story?
-Minari: Sundance can be hit or miss with the breakout films that try to make it to the Oscars. However, you can’t deny the waves made by A24 when they premiered Lee Isaac Chung’s new drama there, ending up winning the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award in the US Dramatic Competition. If Parasite endeared Academy voters to Korean families, Steven Yeun hopes that the same thing happens with this story, where he plays a father in the ‘80s who suddenly decides to move his family to Arkansas to start a farm. Even though the reviews have been great, we must also remember that last year, A24 had in their hands The Farewell, another Sundance hit about an Asian family that ended up with no Oscar nominations. Let’s hope that this time, the Plan B influence (remember, that’s Brad Pitt’s production company, of Moonlight and 12 Years a Slave fame) makes a difference.
-Next Goal Wins: It’s a good time to be Taika Waititi. Why? Taika Waititi can do what he wants. He can direct a Thor movie, he can win an Oscar for writing a comedy set in WW2 about a Third Reich boy who has an Imaginary Hitler friend, or he can pop up in The Mandalorian as a droid. Taika keeps winning, and he wants more. Between his press tour for Jojo Rabbit and his return to the MCU, he quickly shot an adaptation of a great documentary about the disgraced national team of American Samoa, one of the worst football teams known to man, as they try to make the cut for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Everybody loves a good sports comedy, and Searchlight bets that we’ll enjoy this story led by Michael Fassbender as the new (and Dutch-American) coach in town who tries to shape the team for victory.
-News of the World: Seven years after their solid collaboration in Captain Phillips, Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks reunite for more awards love in what seems to be Universal’s main attraction for the Oscars. This time, Hanks stars in a Western drama based on Paulette Jiles’ novel where he plays a traveling newsreader in the aftermath of the American Civil War who is tasked with reuniting an orphaned girl with her living relatives. With a Christmas release date, Universal is betting big in getting the same nomination boost that 1917 is enjoying right now, and the formula is promising.
-Nightmare Alley: Following his Best Picture and Best Director wins for The Shape of Water, everybody in Hollywood wondered what would Guillermo del Toro do next. Well, as Del Toro often does, a little bit of everything and nothing. Some projects moved (as his produced Pinocchio movie on Netflix, or his Death Stranding likeness cameo), others stalled and die (like his proposed Fantastic Voyage remake). But now he’s rolling on his next project, a new adaptation of the William Lindsay Gresham novel that already was a Tyrone Power film in 1947. This noir tale tells the story of a con man (Bradley Cooper) who teams up with a psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett) to trick people and win money, and how things get out of control. With a cast that also includes Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Rooney Mara and more, this could play well if it hits the right tone.
-Nomadland: There’s breakout years, and then there’s the amazing potential of Chloe Zhao’s 2020. On the one hand, after making Hollywood notice her skill with the gripping story of The Rider, she got the keys to the MCU kingdom to direct the next potential franchise of Kevin Feige, The Eternals. And just in case, she also has in her sleeve this indie drama that she wrote and directed beforehand, with two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand playing a woman who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad. If Chloe nails these two films, it could be the one-two punch of the decade.
-One Night in Miami: Regina King is living her best life. Following her Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress in If Beale Street Could Talk and the success that came with her lead role in the Watchmen show on HBO, the actress is jumping to a new challenge: directing movies. For her big screen debut, she’s adapting Kemp Powers’ play that dramatizes a real meeting on February 25, 1964, between Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown.
-Over the Moon: After earning praise and Oscar nominations with I Lost My Body and Klaus, Netflix will keep its bet on animated movies with a film directed by the legendary Glen Keane. Who? A classic Disney animator responsible for the design of characters like Ariel, the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tarzan and more](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jRkx2PNVr8), and who recently won an Oscar for Best Animated Short for Dear Basketball, which he co-directed with the late Kobe Bryant. Now, he brings us a musical adventure centered around a Chinese girl who builds a rocket ship and blasts off to the Moon in hopes of meeting a legendary Moon Goddess.
-Passing: It’s always interesting when an actor jumps behind the camera, and Rebecca Hall’s case is no exception. For her directorial debut, Hall chose to adapt Nella Larsen’s acclaimed novel set in Harlem in the 1920s, about two mixed race childhood friends (Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson) who reunite in adulthood and become obsessed with one another's lives. With a premise that explores tough questions about race and sexuality, it looks like a tricky challenge for a first timer, but it would be more impressive if Hall manages to rise over the challenge.
-Prisoner 760: An interesting part of following the awards circuit is looking at when it's appropriate to talk about touchy subjects in recent history. I’m saying that because this next movie tells the real life tale of Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim), a man who, despite not being charged or having a set trial, is held in custody at Guantanamo Bay, and turns towards a pair of lawyers (Jodie Foster and Shailene Woodley) to aid him. Based on the famous journal that the man wrote while he was being detained, the movie (that also counts with Benedict Cumberbatch) is directed by Kevin Macdonald who, a long time ago, helped Forest Whitaker win Best Actor for The Last King of Scotland. Could he get back in the race after almost 15 years of movies like State of Play?
-Raya and the Last Dragon: This year, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ bet for the Oscars is a fantasy tale set in a mysterious realm called Kumandra, where a warrior named Raya searches for the last dragon in the world. And that dragon has the voice of Awkwafina. Even though they missed out last Oscars when Frozen II got the cold shoulder by the Academy in Best Animated Feature, this premise looks interesting enough to merit a chance. One more thing: between last year’s Abominable, Over the Moon and this movie, there’s a clear connection of animated movies trying to appeal to Chinese sensibilities (and that sweet box office).
-Rebecca: It’s wild to think that the only time that Alfred Hitchcock made a film that won the Oscar for Best Picture was with 1940’s adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s psychological thriller novel, more muted and conventional than his more known classics. Now, Ben Wheatley and Netflix are giving the Gothic story a new spin, with Lily James playing the newly married young woman who finds herself battling the shadow of her husband's (Armie Hammer) dead first wife, the mysterious Rebecca. The story is a classic, and we have to see how much weird Wheatley stuff is in the mix.
-Red, White and Water: Between 2011 and 2014, Jennifer Lawrence was everywhere and people loved it. She was America’s sweetheart, the Oscar winner, Katniss Everdeen. But then, everything kinda fell. Those X-Men movies got worse and she looked tired of being in them, her anecdotes got less charming and more pandering to some, she took respectable risks that didn’t pay off with Red Sparrow and Mother!, and some people didn’t like that she said that it wasn’t nice to share private photos of her online. Now, she looks to get back to the Oscar race with a small project funded by A24 and directed by Lila Neugebauer in her film debut, about a soldier who comes back to the US after suffering a traumatic brain injury in Afghanistan. Also, Brian Tyree Henry is in this, and it would be amazing if he got nominated for something.
-Respect: You know what’s a surefire way to get Academy voters’ attention? Play a real singer! Rami Malek took a win last year for playing Freddie Mercury, Renee Zellweger just won the gold after portraying Judy Garland, and now Jennifer Hudson wants more Oscar love. Almost 15 years after taking Best Supporting Actress for her role in Dreamgirls, Hudson will try to get more by playing soul legend Aretha Franklin, in a biopic directed by first timer Liesl Tommy that practically screams “give me the gold”. How am I so sure? Well, see the teaser that they released in December (for a movie that opens in October), and tell me. It will work out better for Hudson than Cats, that’s for sure.
-Soul: Unless they really disappoint (I’m looking at you, The Good Dinosaur, Cars 2 and Cars 3), you can’t have the Oscars without inviting Pixar to the party. This year, they have two projects in the hopes of success. While in a few weeks we’ll see what happens with the fantasy family road trip of Onward, the studio’s biggest bet of the year clearly is the next existential animation written and directed by Pete Docter, who brought Oscar gold to his home with Up and Inside Out. The movie, which centers on a teacher (voice of Jamie Foxx) who dreams of becoming a jazz musician and, just as he’s about to get his big break, ends up getting into an accident that separates his soul from his body, had a promising first trailer, and it also promises a score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, as well as new songs by Jon Batiste. The only downside so far for the marketing was the fact that the trailer reveal led people to notice a suspicious trend involving black characters when they lead an animated movie.
-Tenet: When Leonardo DiCaprio finally touched his Academy Award, an alarm went off in the mind of a portion of Internet users, who have made their next crusade to give themselves to the cause of getting Christopher Nolan some Oscar love. And his next blank check, an action thriller involving espionage and time travel, could pull off the same intersection of popcorn and prestige that made Inception both a box office hit and a critically acclaimed Oscar nominee. It helps to have a cast of impressive names like John David Washington, Elizabeth Debicki and Robert Pattinson, as well as a crew that includes Ludwig Goransson and Hoyte van Hoytema. In other words, if this becomes a hit, this could go for a huge number of nominations.
-The Devil All the Time: As you may have noticed by now, Netflix is leading the charge in possible Oscar projects. Another buzzy movie that comes from them is the new psychological thriller by Antonio Campos, a filmmaker known for delivering small and intimate but yet intense and terrifying dramas like Simon Killer and Christine. Using the novel by Donald Ray Pollock, Campos will follow non-linearly a cast of characters in Ohio between the end of World War II and the beginning of the Vietnam War, with the help of an interesting cast that includes Tom Holland, Sebastian Stan, Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, Eliza Scanlen, Bill Skarsgard, Jason Clarke and Riley Keough.
-The Eyes of Tammy Faye: After being known as a sketch comedy goofball because of The State, Wet Hot American Summer and Stella, Michael Showalter reinvented himself as a director of small and human dramedies like Hello, My Name is Doris and The Big Sick. For his next project, he’s gonna mix a little bit of both worlds, because he has before him the story of the televangelists Tammy Faye Bakker (Jessica Chastain, who has been really trying to recapture her early ‘10 awards run to no avail) and Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield, who was previously nominated for Hacksaw Ridge, instead of Silence, because why). With a real life tale that involves Christian theme parks, fraud and conspiracies, this is the kind of loud small movie that Searchlight loves to parade around, especially as an actors showcase (Jojo Rabbit being the most recent example). The first image looks terrifying, by the way.
-The Father: It’s weird to be in the middle of February and say that there’s already a frontrunner for the Best Actor race at the next Oscars. After its premiere in Sundance a couple of weeks ago, every prognosticator pointed in the direction of Anthony Hopkins (recently nominated for Best Supporting Actor in The Two Popes), who delivers a harrowing portrayal of an old man grappling with his age as he develops dementia, causing pain to his beleaguered daughter (recent winner Olivia Colman, who also got praised). With reviews calling it a British answer to Amour (in other words: it’s a hard watch), Florian Zeller’s adaptation of his acclaimed play not only benefits from having Hopkins and Colman together as a selling point, because it was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics, a distributor with experience in getting Academy voters to watch adult movies with heavy themes. If you don’t believe me, watch how they got Julianne Moore a win for Still Alice, as well as recent nominations for Isabelle Huppert for Elle, Glenn Close for The Wife, and Antonio Banderas for Pain and Glory. They know the game, and they are going to hit hard for Hopkins and Colman.
-The French Dispatch: If you saw the trailer, we don’t need to dwell too much on the reasons. On the one hand, we have the style of Wes Anderson, a filmmaker who has become a name in both the critics circle and the casual viewer, with his last two movies (The Grand Budapest Hotel and Isle of Dogs) earning several Oscar nominations, including Best Picture for the one with Gustave H. Then, we have a long cast that goes from the director’s regulars like Bill Murray to new stars like Timothee Chalamet, and also includes people like Benicio del Toro. The only thing that could endanger the Oscar chances for this is that the story, an anthology set around a period comedy with an European riff on The New Yorker, will alienate the average Academy member.
-The Humans: There’s the prestige of a play, and then there’s the prestige of a Tony-winning play. Playwright Stephen Karam now gets to jump to the director’s chair to take his acclaimed 2016 one-act story to the big screen, and A24 is cutting the check. Telling the story of a family that gets together on Thanksgiving to commiserate about life, this adaptation will be led by original performer Jayne Houdyshell (who also won a Tony for her stage performance), who’ll be surrounded by Richard Jenkins, Beanie Feldstein, Amy Schumer, Steven Yeun and June Squibb. If it avoids getting too claustrophobic or stagey for the cinema, it will be a good contender.
-The Last Duel: Always speedy, Ridley Scott is working on his next possible trip to the Oscars. This time, it’s the telling of a true story in 14th-century France, where a knight (Matt Damon) accuses his former friend (Adam Driver) of raping his wife (Jodie Comer), with the verdict being determined by the titular duel. It’s a juicy story, but there was some concern when it seemed that the script was only being written by Damon and Ben Affleck (who’ll also appear in the film). A rape story written by them after the Weinstein revelations… not the best look. But then, it was revealed that they were writing the screenplay with indie figure Nicole Holofcener, who last year was nominated for an Oscar for her script for Can You Ever Forgive Me? Let’s hope that the story is told in a gripping but not exploitative way, and that it doesn’t reduce the role of Comer (who deserves more than some of the movie roles that she’s getting after Killing Eve) to a Hollywood stereotype.
-The Power of the Dog: We have to talk about the queen of the indie world, we have to talk about Jane Campion. More than a decade after her last movie, Bright Star, the Oscar and Palme d’Or winner for The Piano returns with a non-TV project (see Top of the Lake, people) thanks to Netflix, with a period drama centered around a family dispute between a pair of wealthy brothers in Montana, Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Burbank (Jesse Plemons), after the latter one marries a local widow (Kirsten Dunst). According to the synopsis, “a shocked and angry Phil wages a sadistic, relentless war to destroy her entirely using her effeminate son Peter as a pawn”. Can’t wait to see what that means.
-The Prom: Remember the Ryan Murphy blank check deal with Netflix that I mentioned earlier? Well, another of the projects in the first batch of announcements for the deal is a musical that he’ll direct, adapting the Tony-nominated show about a group of Broadway losers (now played by the one and only Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Rannells and, uh, James Corden, for some reason) who try to find a viral story to get back in the spotlight, and end up going to a town in Indiana to help a lesbian high school student who has been banned from bringing her girlfriend to the prom. The show has been considered a fun and heartwarming tale of acceptance, so the movie could be an easy pick for an average Academy voter who doesn’t look too hard (and you know that the Golden Globes will nominate the shirt out of this). It’s funny how this comes out the same year than Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, and then it’s not funny realizing that Film Twitter will pit the two movies against each other.
-The Trial of the Chicago 7: After getting a taste of the director’s taste with Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin wants more. For his second movie, he’s tackling one of his specialties: a courtroom drama. And this one is a period movie centered around the trial on countercultural activists in the late ‘60s, which immediately attracts a campaign of how “important” this movie is today’s culture. To add the final blow, we have a cast that includes Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Strong, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Frank Langella, William Hurt, Michael Keaton and Mark Rylance. If Sorkin can contain himself from going over the top (and with that cast, it would be so easy to surrender to bouts of screaming and winding speeches), this could be one of the top contenders.
-Those Who Wish Me Dead: Having made a good splash in the directorial waters with Wind River, Taylor Sheridan (also known for writing the Sicario movies, the Oscar-nominated Hell or High Water or that Yellowstone show that your uncle raves about on Facebook) returns with yet another modern Western. For this thriller based on the Michael Koryta novel, Angelina Jolie stars as a survival expert in the Montana wilderness who is tasked with protecting a teenager who witnessed a murder, while assassins are pursuing him and a wildfire grows closer.
-Untitled David O. Russell Project: Following the mop epic Joy, that came and went in theaters but still netted a Best Actress nomination for Jennifer Lawrence, the angriest director in Hollywood took a bit of a break (it didn’t help that he tried to do a really expensive show with Amazon starring Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore that fell apart when the Weinstein exposes sank everything). Now, he’s quickly putting together his return to the days of Oscar love that came with stuff like The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, with a new movie that is set to star Christian Bale, Margot Robbie and Michael B. Jordan. Even though we don’t know many details (some people are saying the movie is called Amsterdam) except for the fact the movie hasn’t started shooting yet, David is a quick guy, so he’ll get it ready for the fall festival circuit. If there’s one thing that David O. Russell knows (apart from avoid getting cancelled for abusing people like Lily Tomlin, Amy Adams and his niece), it’s to make loud actor showcases.
-Untitled Nora Fingscheidt Project: When Bird Box became one of the biggest hits on Netflix history, the streamer decided to keep itself in the Sandra Bullock business. Sandy’s next project for Ted Sarandos is a drama where she plays a woman who is released from prison after serving time for a violent crime, and re-enters a society that refuses to forgive her past. To get redemption, she searches her younger sister she was forced to leave behind. With the direction of Fingscheidt, who comes from an acclaimed directorial debut with Systemsprenger (Germany’s submission to the last Academy Awards), and a cast that also includes Viola Davis, Vincent D’Onofrio and Jon Bernthal, this will also hopefully try its luck later this year.
-Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Project: We don’t know if this movie will be ready for the end of the year (although last time, he managed to sneak Phantom Thread under the buzzer and earn several Oscar nominations, including Best Picture), but PTA is apparently gonna start to shoot it soon, with the backing of Focus Features. After several movies with prestige locations and intricate production design, Film Twitter’s Holy Spirit will go back to the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s, to tell the story of a high school student who is also a successful child actor.
-Stillwater: Tom McCarthy’s recent career is certainly puzzling. After delivering the weird lows of The Cobbler, he bounced back with the Best Picture winner that was Spotlight. And following that, he… helped produce the 13 Reasons Why series. And following that… he made Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, a Disney+ original movie. Now, he’s back to the award race with a drama starring Matt Damon, who plays a father who rushes from Oklahoma to France to help his daughter (Abigail Breslin), who is in prison after being suspected for a murder she claims she didn’t commit.
-West Side Story: To close things, we have to see one of the possible big contenders of the season, Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the iconic musical that translates Romeo and Juliet to the context of a street gang war in 1950s New York. While the decision to adapt again something that has been a classic both in Broadway and in movie theaters almost 60 years ago is a challenge, the idea of Spielberg doing a musical closer to the stage version with Tony Kushner as the writer is too tempting for the average Academy voter, who is already saving a spot in major categories in case Steven nails it in December. However, there’s two question marks. First, how well will Ansel Elgort and newcomer Rachel Zegler stand out in the roles of Tony and Maria? And second, will In the Heights steal some of the thunder of this movie by being, you know, more modern?
submitted by jonisantucho to blankies [link] [comments]

[OC] we always ask "what lineup would you use to beat the aliens?" but we never ask "WHICH aliens?" And with that in mind, I present the proper alien-fighting lineup for all scenarios

During the offseason, we tend to float silly hypotheticals around here. One of the most common for redditors and real writers like Bill Simmons alike is: "What lineup would you use to beat the aliens?" Essentially, we're trying to suggest the BEST LINEUP on Earth, using the conceit of an alien invasion as a mere prop for that discussion.
But aliens deserve more respect than that. We can't just lump "aliens" all together, because no two alien invaders are exactly alike. So rather than suggest a lineup against "the aliens," I'm going to suggest specific lineups against 10 specific alien species.
So welcome, my friends and fellow bored fans, to --
THE GALAXY CUP
LITTLE GREEN MEN ALIENS
PG: Russell Westbrook (HOU)
SG: Jimmy Butler (MIA)
SF: Aaron Gordon (ORL)
PF: Zion Williamson (NO)
C: Joel Embiid (PHI)
the game plan
We start the tournament against our traditional rival, the classic "Little Green Men" (of Area 51 and Roswell fame.) And since these are little green men, our intention is to beat them with a big lineup and a "bully ball" approach. Spacing? Who needs spacing? Our plan is to live in the paint and dominate on the glass. We want a blowout victory to set the tone for the rest of the tournament, with some Zion Williamson dunking and some Joel Embiid cackling to hammer the point home.
E.T. ALIENS
PG: Mike Conley (UTA)
SG: J.J. Redick (NO)
SF: Andre Iguodala (MEM)
PF: Kevin Love (CLE)
C: Al Horford (PHI)
the game plan
While we wanted to humiliate the Little Green Men, we don't have the same type of animosity against the lovable aliens from E.T.'s planet. In fact, we want as respectful and diplomatic of a lineup as possible. Mike Conley would set the friendly tone with his tech-free approach, while media darlings J.J. Redick, Andre Iguodala, and Kevin Love could handle the clean communication. Even our center Al Horford will refuse to take advantage and pad his stats.
INDEPENDENCE DAY ALIENS
PG: Ben Simmons (PHI)
SG: Manu Ginobili (SA)
SF: Robert Covington (MIN)
PF: Pascal Siakam (TOR)
C: Rudy Gobert (UTA)
the game plan
The cold-hearted Independence Day aliens (similar to War of the World aliens) are our toughest opponent yet. They're not here to mess around -- they want to come down, fuck shit up, and conquer. Their patented style of play is an aggressive offense that will attack at a moment's notice. Given that, building a strong defensive wall will be critical for us. Like a young Will Smith, Ben Simmons be the rising superstar to lead our team into battle, drawing in an alliance from all over the world (with 5 separate continents represented in the lineup.) Is it a mistake to give the over-the-hill Manu Ginobili one of those spots? Maybe. But you can't beat these Harvesters with brawn alone; the crafty Ginobili can be our Jeff Goldblum and figure out the hole in the aliens' defense.
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS ALIENS
PG: J.J. Barea (DAL)
SG: Isaiah Thomas (WAS)
SF: Joe Ingles (UTA)
PF: Nemanja Bjelica (SAC)
C: Nikola Jokic (DEN)
the game plan
Once again, we have to utilize our craftiness to beat an opponent. The Invasion of the Body Snatchers would surely try to swap some bodies, so we will give them the worst "bodies" we can find. Either limited by height (J.J. Barea and I.T.), or athleticism (like Nikola Jokic), the Body Snatchers would be befuddled by their physical limitations. Meanwhile, our high-IQ and highly-skilled players could still thrive no matter what physical vessel they may inhabit.
STRANGER THINGS ALIENS
PG: De'Aaron Fox (SAC)
SG: Luka Doncic (DAL)
SF: Jayson Tatum (BOS)
PF: Jaren Jackson Jr. (MEM)
C: Draymond Green (GS)
the game plan
The Demogorgon from Strangers Things isn't necessarily an alien from outer space, but it comes from a different plane in the Upside-Down and is hence an "alien" to our world. And while it's quite dangerous (kinda?), these monsters clearly have trouble keeping up with young legs. To that end, we wanted a youthful team featuring players like Jayson Tatum and Jaren Jackson Jr. Meanwhile, Slovenian wunderkind Luka Doncic has the "Eleven"-like magic touch, while Draymond Green will fulfill our Hopper role of being the veteran punchekicker who will get wildly angry from time to time for no apparent reason.
DISTRICT 9 ALIENS
PG: Lonzo Ball (NO)
SG: Markelle Fultz (ORL)
SF: Andre Roberson (OKC)
PF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (CHA)
C: Bismack Biyombo (CHA)
the game plan
(Spoiler alert!) but the "prawns" from District 9 turn out to be far less aggressive and threatening than their appearance may lead you to believe. Sure, we need a sensible and respectful defense, but we don't need to aggravate tension. Our instructions to our team are clear: "don't shoot!" As long as we keep a roster of reluctant shooters in tow, the prawns should ultimately realize that their hearts are not in this tournament and start their retreat.
PACIFIC RIM ALIENS
PG: Matthew Dellavedova (CLE)
SG: James Harden (HOU)
SF: Rui Hachimura (WAS)
PF: Yi Jianlian (CHINA)
C: Steven Adams (OKC)
the game plan
As we get deeper into the tournament, the level of competition steps up a few notches. Combating the alien monsters from Pacific Rim represents a tall task: literally. We're talking about kaiju who may run over 300 feet. You're not going to overwhelm this team physically, so we need intangibles. We need soldiers who are going to display teamwork, grit, and the determination to protect their Pacific Ocean home turf. How are we actually going to win, though? How will this particular team score? Good question. James Harden will have to do the lion's share of the work by drawing and exaggerating contact (which should be frequent.) And for all we criticize Harden, he is the rare player with Jaeger-like body armor to take those hits and keep on chugging. If we can get him 40+ free throws, this game may be winnable after all.
XENOMORPH ALIENS (from the Aliens franchise)
PG: Marcus Smart (BOS)
SG: Elena Delle Donne (WAS)
SF: Kawhi Leonard (LAC)
PF: James Johnson (MIA)
C: Marshall Plumlee (USA)
the game plan
On paper, the xenomorphs appear to be one of the fiercest and scariest matchups in the field. Fortunately, there's been a clear template to combat them. You start with a group of tough and rugged soldiers – Marcus Smart, James Johnson, and Marshall Plumlee (who had literally signed up for the Marine Corps already) – and add one wildcard cyborg to the mix (in Kawhi Leonard.) And of course, the key is anchoring the lineup with a strong female leader like Elena Delle Donne. In fact, she may be an even deadlier shot than Ripley. This past season for the Mystics, Delle Donne registered a 50/40/90 season, including 97% from the free throw line.
PREDATOR ALIENS
PG: Stephen Curry (GS)
SG: Klay Thompson (GS)
SF: Paul George (LAC)
PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)
C: Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)
the game plan
One of the most difficult opponents in the field and a betting favorite in Vegas, the Predators are going to be tough to beat. Not only are they fierce and ruthless killers who hunt for sport, they also possess superior intelligence, advanced technology/analytics, and unlike some others in the field: opposable thumbs. So how in the world can we beat a team like that? More wily tricks, of course. The Predators have heat vision, so our approach will be to surround the perimeter with great shooters who can get red "hot," draw the defense out, and allow the Greek Freak Giannis to sneak in and deliver the knockout blow.
KRYPTONIAN ALIENS (a la Superman)
PG: Damian Lillard (POR)
SG: Bradley Beal (WAS)
SF: Kevin Durant (BKN)
PF: LeBron James (LAL)
C: Anthony Davis (LAL)
the game plan
Yes, Superman is an alien, despite all appearances -- so maybe you should take a step back and consider your own biases regarding space lifeforms, huh. In fact, our intergalactic television partners are hyping up this contest as the marquee matchup in the entire field. They're blasting thousands of comet and asteroid advertisements across space with a simple marketing pitch: LeBron James vs. Superman!!
Does LeBron James have a chance in that individual matchup? Of course not, you silly goose. LeBron is a great basketball player, but Superman is a virtual god. He has superhuman strength, X-ray vision, ice cold breath, and the literal ability to fly. In some ways, he is SO powerful and invulnerable that he's actually a little boring of a character.
And therein lies our secret strategy. We'll sic LeBron's BFF Rich Paul (our Lex Luthor evil genius) to spread that message around the star system. Superman is boring. He's old news. His "Superman" franchise been stalling out. Meanwhile, the popularity of LeBron James and the NBA continues to soar. That's where the money is! Paul needs to convince the league, the refs, and those TV partners of ours to give Team Earth a little edge and some favorable calls. Because if we can rattle the Kryptonians early on, they're likely to start turning on each other and self-destructing. Just ask Jor-El.
submitted by ZandrickEllison to nba [link] [comments]

How to Get Started With Sports Betting

Sports betting is simply placing a wager on a sporting event. You are betting that your team, horse, dog, or driver will win. If they do win, so do you! If they lose, you lose your bet amount. Sports betting takes place all over the world, though in the United States this type of betting is not as highly accepted as it is in Europe.
Online sports betting is probably the best option for those who are interesting in trying it for the first time. If you have never tried online sports betting, you are missing so much fun and excitement, and it can all happen in the comfortable surroundings of your home! The art of sports betting can seem confusing at first, but once you are familiar with some of the jargon that is used to explain the concepts and logic behind each type of bet, it is all much easier to understand.
One of the best ways for you to experience this engaging way to bet on your favourite racing and sporting events is to get acquainted with online sports betting. However, in order to best take advantage of all that sports betting has to offer, you need to know a little more about it.
Sports Betting - The Odds
How does online sports betting work? You should start by studying the odds for the sporting event you are most interested in placing a wager upon. When using online sports betting, you can find these odds in the various online sports books used by Internet gamers everywhere. You must open an account with an online sports book before you can place your bet, but this is simple to do.
Once you have chosen where you are going to do your sports betting, you need to decide how you are going to place your bet. There are many different ways for you to wager your chosen amount of money, but first, let's talk about the spread and how it can affect the amount you bet.
Sports Betting - The Spread
The spread is a point advantage in sports betting, which is usually given to the team that is generally expected to lose a particular sporting event. If you decide that you will bet on the team that is expected to win, they will have to win by more than the spread number and cover the spread before you are considered to have chosen correctly. If you choose the team that is expected to lose, that team will have to lose by less than the spread number in order for your pick to be considered correct. If by chance the team wins by the number of points that were chosen as the spread, the game is called a push.
No one who engages in sports betting wins a thing if a game is called as a push, but you do get the amount of your original bet back. The point spread is done in order to make the all of the bets come out even for the sports book, and is usually done for sports such as basketball or football.
Sports Betting - The Bet
If you were to bet against the spread, most likely you would place a type of bet called an 11-10, or spread bet. By betting $11, you win $10 if your team's score covers the spread. This is another way that the online sports book makes its money.
An over-under bet is also an 11-10 bet. With this type of bet, the total score of the two teams that played will be either over or under the total score that was listed before the game was played. Betting on the score being over is called 'betting on the ball'. Betting on the score being under is called 'betting on the clock'.
A proposition bet is a type of bet where the online sports book chooses what the odds and the conditions of the bet are going to be. This type of bet can be most interesting, even a little fun at times, for the conditions can be as unusual as which of two football teams will make the most touchdowns, which of two basketball teams will score the most three pointers, or even which individual player will make a certain move for the team. The odds for this kind of bet are sometimes 11-10, but can be better or worse depending on the circumstances.
A parlay bet happens when you are betting on more than one event, usually three. This type of bet gives you a much higher payout if you should win, but the catch is that all the events you bet on will have to win. If even one of them loses, they all lose, and you lose the amount that you bet.
A money line bet seems rather formidable, especially to someone who is just getting into online sports betting, but it is really one of the simplest bets of all. It is also called a Straight Up bet, and there is no point spread to consider. You will just choose your sport, and then the team you think will be either the underdog or the favourite. In a money line bet, the sports book will have numbers listed that are in the hundreds, with either a plus or a minus sign beside them. These numbers are considered the 'money line', and are the multipliers for the bets.
If the money line for your team is listed as 100, you will make an even bet. This means you will wager the same amount that you will get back. If the money line reads -110, then you must come up with the amount of money you have decided to bet, plus 10%. This extra 10% is known by the name of 'juice'. If the money line for your team is listed as +110, then you simply place your bet with the amount you choose to bet. If you win a money line bet, you get the amount of your bet plus 10% back. For example, if you bet $10.00 and $1.00 in juice on a -110 money line and it wins, you get $21. 00.
A teaser bet in sports betting is actually a proposition bet that allows you to change the odds for the bet in either direction so that the wager is in your favour. You can go up or down in points, and must choose at least two teams, as is done in a parlay bet. You can have as many as 6 separate teams included on a teaser bet, but all of the teams chosen have to win in order for your bet to be declared a winning one. Once the games are over, the points from the teaser bet are added or subtracted from the final scores. The odds for teaser bets can be different each time, so it is a good plan to always check the sports book before placing your bet.
A tip to remember is that generally, when placing a wager on any sport that can finish with a high score, such as football, you will have a spread. Sports where the ending score is low, such as in baseball will have a money line. Remember also that favourable odds on a game can sometimes work in your favour. Online sports betting allows you to easily go from sports book to sports book to find the best odds.
submitted by PresentType to bovadasportsinoss [link] [comments]

r/sportsbook Week in Review

I spend far too much time in this sub—enough that I feel like I've met one guy’s wife—and so much that most of the stories I tell the guys at work involve something my “friend” told me. So, congratulations to everyone in here for becoming my friend, though as it stands, none of you will be receiving invitations to my birthday party.
With all that time spent, the least I can do is provide you degens with a periodic round-up of how fucked up yet simultaneously great this place is. It might provide you with some perspective, it might provide you with a few laughs, but it probably won’t provide you with any helpful gambling advice. Here we go…
Sport of the Week: College Football? Snooker please! The sub’s new favorite sport needs no explanation of the rules to American bettors (it’s just what the Brits call billiards, right?). A snooker god is amongst us and the hype is real. With the recent rise in the sport’s popularity via this sub, I would be surprised if snooker does not move all the way up to at least ESPN 8. My advice: tail, but tail responsibly (with the second half of those instructions being as mandatory as “Drink Responsibly” is to a college student).
POTDOTW: Although it was a loser in the end, The Pick of the Day of the Week was a ballsy one: Washington Generals ML @ Harlem Globetrotters on Monday. Now, my model actually had the Globetrotters winning this one, but sometimes you just can’t argue with logic—and the logic said that the Generals were due for a win. Admittedly, tremendous value in the ML here.
Unfortunately, it didn’t play out that way, and the Globetrotters took yet another W over the Generals. I am not sure who the commissioner of that league is, but you have to think there is some pressure being applied for greater parity. Have you ever heard anyone say “I’m taking my kids to see the Generals this weekend”? I didn’t think so. I hope there is an efficient revenue-sharing model in place.
Capper of the Week: Definitely not “That guy’s wife”. With her red hot start a few weeks ago, I started wondering if she worked in the league office and was tipping off her husband. Following her performance the last couple of weeks, I am wondering if she exists at all, or this guy is just hiding behind a mirage of “his wife”. Her Thanksgiving day picks had me feeling thankful that I don’t tail the picks of a stranger’s wife on Reddit. Her Seahawks pick over the Rams looked good on paper, but she forgot that fading Reddit works 100% of the time, as long as you don't believe in confirmation bias.
I did however try placing a bet on “Redditor to make joke about ‘Riding his wife hard’ YES” in Sunday’s thread, but my book took it off the board before I could submit it. I had planned to parlay it with “Redditor to explain ‘crossing zero in a teaser is bad value’ YES”.
Ask for upvotes and you shall receive …a 7-day ban. Welcome back but also apparently goodbye to "Europe’s best handicapper"! I am starting to wonder if I should move to Europe and attempt to take over his title. Based on what I have heard about his recent record outside of Reddit, the job seems fairly easy. I’m just undecided on where I will disappear to when my record goes south.
“CP forever. CP til’ I die.” Or CP until he drops off the face of the earth. At this point, we can only hope CP is safe and his wife doesn’t have his balls in a vice grip right now.
The Ruling on the Field: I know a lot of people had Patriots -3 this week, which was really a boneheaded play, given how the Patriots have looked recently. I wanted to make a joke at the expense of New England bettors, but Jerome Boger’s crew told me those jokes are out of bounds. I would challenge them on that, but, you know…
Picks? Anybody need picks? Got picks here: If betting on the Spurs against the spread (6-17 ATS this year) hasn’t been an efficient enough method of throwing your cash away, a well-known poster out there (who I will not name) is now selling his previously free picks for the low low price of $129 per week. The only condition he sets is that all bets you place must be 1 unit, conveniently ensuring your subscription will never pay for itself.
Things I didn’t watch: the Anthony Joshua fight. I hope everyone was able to make some bread, but personally, I try to avoid wagering on boxing. It is easily the most rigged sport in the world. Or at least it is until someone ends up on the wrong side of an NBA bet, or Bill Belichick is seen on the telephone near the end of a Patriots game.
Most of you are probably asking: who are you and why are you doing this? The answer is that I have another username I post under but don’t want to mix my profiles. As for why? I don’t really know. I hatched the idea on my commute home from work a few hours ago. My job has zero room for any jokes or humor, so I thought this might be a good release. If you liked it, great. If you didn’t...oh well.
submitted by SBinReview to sportsbook [link] [comments]

How to Win at Sports Betting

Want to understand the best information on how to win at sports betting? Just a single amount of time in the US leading professional sports history features a team had an excellent year old. Nobody is really flawless. The purpose is that losses will happen in sports betting. The most useful sports bettors on earth infrequently acquire more than 55 percent of their full time. Winning in sports gambling is not hard. Period. There’s a reason sports betting is this a profitable company that’s currently becoming popular in most locations. With that said, a few sports bettors do triumph and acquire plenty of dollars! It is from hopeless for a successful sports bettor. However, as clear, with no correct knowledge and techniques, it won’t happen. These fundamentals, in sequence, if grant the novice sports bettor an opportunity to develop into successful.
Keeping up a solid grasp on bankroll direction is readily in comparison to the real-life experience of purchasing a brand-new vehicle. When an individual would like to get a brand-new car, he needs to get in the dealership using a notion of just how far he wants to pay and how far he could pay off. On average, both of these are different amounts. However, the purpose is he wants to get into the dealership using a budget. Do you know what happens when he does not? Inevitably, he will go from this automobile having a half-smile on his head, because he’ll have a new vehicle for nearly double as far as he wanted to invest. It pays to have a budget in place.
The specific same is said for sports betting; bankroll direction is vital. To begin with, specify a spending budget. When a business budget is not put, it could on occasion be almost inevitable to pay more cash than could be afforded. Self-control is almost always a significant secret of sports betting, and establishing funding may be a lifesaver.
Together with establishing funding, actually managing that funding is essential. Evidently, falling half of their cover an elongated time period using a single underdog to mad a popular probably isn’t the smartest option. Can it cover off? Sure. But more times than not, this underdog will definitely lose, and also all of the amount of money budgeted to make use of will probably undoubtedly be lost with that. It’s a recognized belief with each bet, merely a small number of their allocated budget needs to really be wagered. Such a thing in 1 to 5% of their funding each bet is okay.
Placing an Excellent Betting Portfolio
Placing a good Sports Betting portfolio could be trying for players that are new. Quite often, inexperienced bettors find one particular match that they enjoy and also put much of this budgeted money about it. When just a single bet is in drama, fortune and other things can play a massive roll in the end result. But if five or even five distinct kinds of wagers come in drama (notably with various matches), the bettor is quite a bit more inclined to acquire true outcomes while in the long run.
Some reason new bettors may fight to set a diverse gaming portfolio is that it is not simple to achieve that. That isn’t always the situation. It all will take is dispersing the budgeted money from unique bets in distinct locations.
Some experts may provide certain proportions of funding which ought to really be wagered on different bet types. Every bet is only a bit different. Having said this, every bet involves something besides the bettor. Obviously, it could be smart to bet that a greater proportion of funding onto a superior profit/low hazard prospect. Obviously, it could be unwise to even bet that a sizable proportion of funding at a really low profit/high hazard prospect. Thus, some times more of a bettor’s funding is going to be spent on one area instead of a second. A second week, it may be reverse osmosis the alternative way.
No matter a bettor’s profile needs to contain a wholesome mixture of these stakes: contrary to the spread, money line, oveunder, futures, props, and also certainly will comprise parlays and teasers. Using a diverse portfolio of stakes, the bettor is a great deal more inclined for authentic, quality outcomes as opposed to changing everything to a bet.
Finding stakes with a fantastic possibility to acquire money is something different which can be rough for players. There really are a number of things to remember while trying to find and considering a bet.
Understand the value and return on investment
Have a look at additional articles on Betting Pros regarding the potential value and return on investment to get the complete comprehension of exactly what those 2 things are. On the web calculators and tools provide bettors using easy tools to make use of to provide help. A fast-online search, together with the input of a couple of amounts, is it requires. Evidently, a bettor wishes to own high numbers as you possibly can for the two of these amounts. Ranked EV and ROI on possible stakes might help new betters find potentially excellent investments.
Search for value selections, maybe not winners
That one could seem just a bit funny. But, consider this way. 1 bettor could acquire nine out often stakes, with precisely the exact same quantity of money added to each individual bet, and lose money. Still, another better could acquire one out often stakes, with precisely the exact same sum of money added to each individual bet again, and also win funds. Sports gambling is an all-around value. Though the very first bettor comes with a 90% success rate, everybody else would preferably be the 2nd bettor and acquire money. When a bettor knows EV and ROI, appreciate selections can more readily be seen.
Possess a Very Long memory
Possessing a brief memory is just one of those utter worst qualities a sports bettor could possess. The NFL always provides flawless examples; teams may smash it 1 week, simply to get defeated the following week. A very long memory helps players to see potential wagers at which odds-makers might have been only a touch too short while.
Bet at the Right time
In the early stages, chances are unchanged and fresh by any people's trends. Sports-books have a tendency to wish to maintain things as much as you can for themselves, even though, and significant money towards one side or the other may induce odds-makers to make alterations. Clearly this is sometimes grounds to bet early until the likelihood vary, however it may be rationale to bet overdue, too. When a bettor finds odds apparently skewing too much in 1 direction through the entire time in front of a match, this also can be considered a perfect chance to battle upon. Betting premature or catching opportunities are just two of those better days to bet.
Research Recommendations
Research is essential in sports gambling. That might seem obvious, in the current modern world, people desire results using as little effort as you possibly can. Sports gambling is simply like everything else on the planet. When your bettor works hard, he or she’s got a higher likelihood of succeeding. Sports gambling research may incorporate anything from looking into stats and watching matches, to calculating return on investment. To simplify all of it, break down the research into two distinct types: sports comprehension and amounts comprehension.
The particular “sport” side of playing sports gambling is most likely what many casual fans like. This may include things like watching games, researching numbers, observation player and team trends, etc. For sports bettors, this can be valuable to concentrate on a single game, since the time that it requires to achieve so research for numerous sports might be overwhelming. For an effective sports bettor, have a fantastic knowledge base of this game. Put at the time that it will take to think about yourself as an “expert” at this match. It’s going to probably pay off.
The amounts side of this search for sports gambling may be more stressful. Assessing different game outlines, calculating EV and ROI, and finding amazing values might be much more important compared to sports knowledge, yet. Actually, locating the most effective odds from various sportsbooks are also the difference between losing and winning a bet. Find an Excellent value, locate the best chances for this bet, and wager off.
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NFL Week 16 (Sunday Plays) from CheatSheetPros!

NFL DFS Picks for Sunday (December 22nd) from CheatSheetPros! << Up arrow if you like the content! >>
QUICK NEWS AND NOTES:
We wrote a separate breakdown for the Saturday 3 game slate so make sure to check it out. This is for Sunday only plays going game by game. We also hit on the Vegas action, line movements and the sports betting algo and our pick (if we like a side or total). I hope everyone is playing their season long championship game this week (if you made it) and have a Merry Christmas this year! 2020 will be great!
FANTASY TRIVIA: Do you know the 4 players who had the most targets in Week 15?
(Think about it, answer is at the bottom of the article…)
GAME BY GAME BREAKDOWN FOR SUNDAY:
ATLANTA 24 vs. JAX 18
VEGAS BREAKDOWN: Line opened at ATL -7 and still -7. Total opened at 45.5 and has moved up slightly to 46.5. Sports betting algo has this game pegged as ATL -5. 90% of the tickets are on the Falcons and 86% on the over.
OUR BETTING PICK: Pass.
FANTASY PLAYS:
The main thing that jumps out here is that ATL can’t run as they are averaging only 81.4 RY per game (30th) but JAX can’t stop the run as they allow 140 RY per game (29th). This game is like putting a square peg in a round hole. Leonard Fournette (7200) is one option to target as ATL is the 13th rated rush defense DVOA but 19th vs. pass catching RBs and Fournette has 7, 6, 11 and 12 targets the last 4 weeks. DeVonta Freeman (6000) seems priced a little high and isn’t really exciting but if he can get 60 yards with a TD and a few catches he could get you 3x value. JAX has the 31st rated rush defense DVOA and they are allowing 140 rushing yards per game (29th). Julio Jones (8000) is where I’d rather stake my claim. JAC has been tougher on their pass defense but as we saw last week Julio is unguardable. Julio has 20 TARGETS last week with no Calvin Ridley on the field, give me one more week of that please! He went 13 catches for 124 yards and 2 TDs for just over 41 DKPs. Russell Gage (4400) is a very cheap option to put into a stack as JAC is 6th vs. WR-1 but falls all the way down to 21st vs. WR-2s and he had 6 targets last week. Austin Hooper (4400) is viable now that he has a game under his belt after coming back from injury and JAC is 31st vs. guarding the TE.
SAINTS 27 vs. TITANS 24
VEGAS BREAKDOWN: Line opened at Saints -1.5 and now -3 while the over slightly dropped from 51 down to 50.5. 73% of the tickets are on Saints and 88% on the over. Sports Betting algo has this as TEN -4.5 but we don’t agree with that.
OUR BETTING PICK: Saints -3
FANTASY PLAYS:
Drew Brees and Michael Thomas are setting records so how are we going to go against them? We aren’t! Saints are scoring 27 PPG (5th best) while TEN is 24.2 PPG for (11th best). Saints on defense allow 21.6 points and TEN 19.9 points, so pretty close. I think this game will be closer than people think as the Saints average 420 total yards at home but only 311 on the road and that is a 25% swing. TEN averages 130.6 RY per game (8th) best and the Saints are allowing the 4th least amount of RY at 90.8 per game. Saints average 264.6 PY per game (7th) and the Titans are allowing the 25th most passing yards per game at 258.1. Drew Brees (6900) + Michael Thomas (9300) will be popular and worthwhile this week. TEN is even horrible at covering the WR-1 as they rank 28th. Saints allowed the 26th most fantasy point to the WR position at 39.8 so you can look at guys like A.J. Brown (7000) or punt with Corey Davis (4000) as TEN will almost certainly be playing catchup in the second half. Last week A.J. Brown led the team with 13 targets and the next person was Corey Davis at only 6 targets. Derrick Henry (7700) is priced too high for me in this matchup. Alvin Kamara (7500) is also priced extremely high for his recent production of putting up only 14, 7, 12 and 19 DKPs. Michael Thomas setting the single season reception record is the main focus for the Saints, and yes Drew Brees putting up the passing touchdowns for his record.
BALTIMORE 31 vs. BROWNS 20
VEGAS BREAKDOWN: Line opened at Baltimore -7 and now -10, shocker, lol. Total went from 49.5 down to 48.5. 93% of the tickets are on BAL and 88% on the under. Sports betting algo has this game as BAL -9.
OUR BETTING PICK: Baltimore -10, also love them on a 10 point teaser.
FANTASY PLAYS:
I had some hopes for the Brownies this year but their coaching is awful and they already said he was going to be there next year so let’s just flush them down the toilet. Can this game be anything else? Browns are allowing 135.2 rushing yards per game (27th) and they have the 21st rated DVOA rush defense AND they are facing the #1 scoring offense at 33.7 PPG and the #1 rushing offense at 202.1 yards per game. Ravens are putting up 404 total yards per game on the road and 415 total yards per game at home. Wow! Baltimore only allowing 96.1 RY per game on defense (5th) and 218.1 PY per game (7th). Nick Chubb (6900) should have some success running but I don’t expect a big game from him since most of the pass catching work is done with Kareem Hunt (5500). Plan on CLE playing from behind so that puts Hunt, Landry and OBJ in play. Last week OBJ had 13 targets, Landry 8 and Hunt 9.
Lamar Jackson (8000) will never be priced high enough for his flooceiling combo. He has put up 37, 21, 26, 36, 33 and 34 DKPs in recent contents. In his last 9 games he has been over 33 DKP 5 times and every other game over 26 except one where he faced Buffalo and only put up 20.8 DKP. His price climbed from 7500 to 8000 and he still can easily hit 4x value. Mark Ingram (6800) has put up 24, 27 and 24 DKP in his last 5 contest if you take out the Buffalo and San Fran games. I prefer to stick with the rushing side but if you want to get crazy Marques Brown (5200) and Mark Andrews (5900) are getting the majority of the targets. BAL just doesn’t have to throw that often so their upside is limited.
DETROIT 21 vs. DENVER 20
VEGAS BREAKDOWN: Line opened at DEN -6.5 and now -7. Total went from 38 to 38.5 and tickets are split on each side with 78% sitting on the over right now. Sports betting algo has this as DEN -3 to -3.5.
OUR BETTING PICK: Denver -7 and/or Over 38.5.
FANTASY PLAYS:
Denver is only allowing 20.3 PPG on defense (10th), 113 RY/G (20th) and 223.9 PY/G (10th). They also only allow 318 total yards at home. DET can’t run and they are down to Kenny Golladay (6500) and Danny Amendola (4900) for the WR options. If Denver take their #1 (Golladay) out with shadow coverage then Danny Amendola could get a shit ton of targets. Danny Amendola has 13 targets last week compared to only 7 of Golladay.
Drew Lock (5600) is a cheap viable GPP option this week. This guy is showing that he belongs in the NFL (even though I hate Denver because I live in KC, Go Chiefs!). DET has the 29th DVOA pass defense and allowing the 28th most fantasy points to the QB position at 23.2 and 28th most points to the WR position at 40.6. So give me some game stack with Courtland Sutton (6200) who has an amazing 10, 7, 5, 8 and 9 targets over the last 5 weeks. DaeSean Hamilton (3200) had 9 targets last week but only caught 2 of them, he would be sneaky if you want to differentiate yourself.
INDY 24 vs. CAR 17
VEGAS BREAKDOWN: Line opened at IND -6.5 and is now -7. Total went from 46.5 down to 46. Sides are split and 82% of the tickets are on the under. Sports betting algo has this as IND -3.5 but that does not account for the rookie QB starting.
OUR BETTING PICK: IND -7
FANTASY PLAYS:
Will Grier (4300) is cheap enough for a punt but not exciting about running out a 3rd round QB in his first start vs. a tough defense. I think this is going to hurt D.J. Moore (6900) and CMC (10,100). If you do play Grier then you have to stack him with D.J. Moore or Curtis Samuel. CAR is allowing the MOST fantasy points to the RB position, the 32nd rated rush defense DVOA AND allowing 140.2 rushing yards per game (30th) so we are looking at Marlon Mack (6200) or Nyheim Hines (4400). CAR is also 25th vs. covering the TE so Jack Doyle (4500) is another cheap option to use.
MIAMI 20 vs. CINCY 17
VEGAS BREAKDOWN: Line opened at MIA -3 and now -1 while the total went from 46 to 47. 71% of the tickets are on MIA and 85% on the over. Sports betting algo has this as MIA -3.5 to -4.
OUR BETTING PICK: Pass.
FANTASY PLAYS:
This is the least exciting game to look at but I have some time so adding it in for everyone. We have Cincy who has the worst rated offense scoring only 15.1 PPG and Miami who is the 29th worst offense scoring only 17.2 PPG. CIN allows 158 rushing yards per game for dead last in the NFL and MIA is allowing 140.9 rushing yards per game which is second to last in the NFL, lol. Shitty game here! Joe Mixon (6600) has been on fire putting up 21.6, 30.6 and 17 DKP in his last 3 starts. Mixon also had 136 rushing yards last week vs. NE, 146 the week prior vs. CLE AND he has at least 3 catches each of the last 3 weeks for 20, 40 and 26 yards. In the last 7 weeks he only has 1 game below 17 DKPs and that was vs. a tough PIT team and he was 18 for 79, 0 TDs. Now he gets a soft rush defense let’s see what he can do!
DeVante Parker (6800) will be somewhat popular this week and CIN is 30th vs. WR-1 coverage. Parker has some monster recent games putting up 23, 5, 38, 15 and 24 DKPs. He has 4 TDs in his last 3 games and had a monster game vs. PHI catching 7 balls on 10 targets for 159 yards and 2 scores! If you want to game stack this run Mixon and then take it back with a Fitz/Parker stack on the other side.
NYGIANTS 22 vs. WASHINGTON 19
VEGAS BREAKDOWN: Line opened at WAS -3 and now -2.5 while the total went from 43 down to 42. We have 71% of the tickets on the NYG and 93% on the over. Sports betting algo has this as NYG -3.5.
OUR BETTING PICK: NYG +2.5, love on a 6 point teaser to +8.5.
FANTASY PLAYS:
This is a game of weak offenses as combined they average around 35 PPG between the two and they allow a ton of points. Combined they are allowing 52 PPG. WAS is one of the worst passing teams as they average the lowest amount of PY per game at 168.4 but they can run the ball fairly well. NYG have been back and forth with Eli and Jones so I won’t focus on their stats. Saquon Barkley (8300) is a great play this week facing the 24th rated rush defense DVOA and a team allowing the 25th most fantasy points to the RB position. He is coming off a 33.3 DKP game where he rushed 24 times for 112 yards and 2 TDs and even have 5 targets, 4 catches for another 31 yards. If you are looking for a WR to play I will note Sterling Shepard has out targeted Golden Tate the weeks they have been on the field together. Week 15 (11-4), Week 14 (7-5), Week 12 (9-7). Terry McLaurin (6200) should have success as NYG are 32nd vs. covering the WR-1 and allowing the 29th most fantasy points to the WR position. Adrian Peterson (5000) is cheap enough to use this week. He is coming off 18, 14 and 16 DKP games giving you a solid floor and around 3x upside.
FANTASY TRIVIA ANSWER: Do you know the 4 players who had the most targets in Week 15?
George Kittle – 17 targets
Anthony Miller – 15 targets
Allen Robinson – 14 targets
Tyler Higbee – 14 targets
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A Rewrite of Pokemon Sword and Shield's Story

When I finished Sword, I was massively disappointed in the story quality. While I had fun with various aspects of the game, the story felt like a train wreck from the start. So, in a bored (and perhaps slightly drunk) state, I loaded up a video of all the cutscenes and tried to rewrite it to match the kind of story pacing that previous Pokemon titles had.
This is most definitely a "First Draft" quality effort. No real editing has been done. I'm not entirely happy with how some "arcs" turned out or how little certain characters were used (Team Yell ended up being largely background characters). But I figured I'd post it anyway and see if people like where it's headed.

Core Goals

  1. Return the primary message of the game to Loving Pokemon Makes You Win
  2. Keep the tone and writing within the realm of what one would expect from a game targeting children, and in line with previous Pokemon games
  3. Change as few of the “story beats” as possible, though some may be rearranged.
  4. Create character and story impact through minor changes to actions and characterization that add up in the long run.
  5. Do as much as possible without changing gameplay elements (“suggestions” aiming at that regard will be made with a [GPC] tag)
  6. Create proper motivations for character actions
  7. This is not a “complete script”, but rather something more akin to storyboarding the changes to the original story. Anything not discussed or mentioned in the original story can be assumed to be unchanged.

Chapter 1: The Opening

Scene: Opening Cutscene

The introduction of the Gym Challenge goes largely as it is in the game, but with significantly more focus on the competition aspect. The match, however, is not an exhibition match, but instead it is last year’s grand finals. After the logo appears, it fades and zooms out to show your character watching this on their Rotom Phone. Your mother comes over to ask if you are watching last year’s finals yet again. She mentions that Leon will be in town today visiting his family who lives nearby - but figures you probably need no reminder of that! You are then given control, prepped with your bag and outfit, and allowed to head out.

Scene: Into the Village

As the camera pans out from your house, you can see the other houses leading down to a train station where a train pulls into station. Control is then given back to you.
The gate next to your house is open, but with an older farmer playing with a Wooloo nearby. He’ll have a unique name, but we’ll just call him Guard Farmer. If you attempt to go that way, he tells you the woods contain too many strong Pokemon for an unequipped youngster, and insists you not enter.
Instead of entering Hop’s house, you proceed directly to the train station. On the way, there are a few trainers actively battling Pokemon in the wild grass. They block you from entering any area you might encounter a Pokemon.
At the train station, you see Hop standing in the crowd, who waves you over. He greets you and casually brings up that he hasn’t been around as much because he’s been training with Leon on the road until recently. He wastes no time showing you a written endorsement from Leon, allowing him into this year’s Gym Challenge.
In general, Hop is no longer the meek youngster in the shadow of his brother. Rather, he is a headstrong challenger made cocky by way of his brother’s success, presuming that this kind of natural skill must be in his genes.
Leon comes out of the station to an excited crowd, who begin chanting “Charizard!” After a moment of pause, he whips the Premium Ball from his belt and releases a roaring Charizard. He pets it affectionately as the crowd claps and he walks over to Hop. After some normal greetings, he tells Hop he has a special gift for him, and invites you to come along too - you are friends after all, and there’s not many fresh trainers in your village.
No mention is, or will be, made of Leon being bad with directions.

Scene: Picking your Starter

At Hop’s house, he reveals the three rare Pokemon he has brought with him, and tells Hop he can take one with him for a head start on the Gym Challenge. He says since he has several, he can give one to you as well. Hop can’t decide, so he insists you pick first. After picking, Hop picks the starter Weak to your starter, and insists you try them out in battle immediately. The battle goes similar to the normal one (albeit at a different point in the story), although Hop does not have a Wooloo.
After beating Hop, he gets very frustrated and tells Leon he’s changed his mind, and would rather take the starter Strong against your starter. Leon looks disappointed, but lets him switch, saying that he’ll take care of the starter he gave up. Leon then looks to you, and says he was impressed by the immediate bond you formed with your Pokemon. He tells you that if you keep that connection, you could be a truly great trainer, and decides to endorse you as well. Hop looks a bit shocked by this, but is not dismayed. Hop says that showing you his skills in the Gym Challenge will prove how talented he really is.
No wishing stars fall or are mentioned.
Leon tells you that no trainer can win the Gym Challenge without knowing a lot about Pokemon, so suggests you head to see Professor Magnolia and see if she has any Pokedexes to use on your journey.

Scene: Legendary Encounter

As you go to leave, a Wooloo rolls by. Hop says it looks like Guard Farmer’s Wooloo, and runs off to the gate (you automatically follow through a cutscene cut). You arrive at the gate to find Guard Farmer’s seat empty. Hop says something must have happened, and runs into the woods.
After making your way through a bit, you find Guard Farmer. He says a young child from the village ran into the woods so he had to chase after them, but his Wooloo got scared and rolled away. You continue on to find the child, when you hear howls, and the scene plays out much like it does in the real story. Leon appears to find you when he heard you didn’t go to the Professor’s lab.
Hop thanks Leon, and jets off ahead of you, reminding you not to miss the train out of town.

Scene: The Lab

Leon nor Hop are waiting at the lab for you. When you head in, Professor Magnolia is tending to her garden. Upon talking to her, she mentions that Hop just came and took her last Pokedex, but she thinks that her granddaughter is supposed to bring more from the city today. At that moment, Sonia walks in and delivers a package to Magnolia after greeting you. The professor gives you a fresh Pokedex, and asks Sonia how her research into the cause of Power Spots is going.
Sonia says it’s not going great, as she info-dumps aloud about how Power Spots allow the phenomenon known as Dynamaxing, etc. She does mention that in the past few years, a couple new power spots have formed.
Magnolia tells her to head back out, and watch the Gym Challenge closely. After all, almost every stadium is built near a power spot, so perhaps she’ll learn something! Sonia agrees, and realizes she should leave to catch the train. Magnolia mentions you probably should do the same, and wishes you luck in finding many new Pokemon along the way. She does mention telling your mother you’re leaving to take the challenge. (Your mother will grant you all the basic starting items - Pokeballs, potions, etc).
On the way back, the Wooloo blockade is up, forcing you to explore the grass a bit.
All other “story” cutscenes between here and taking the train are no longer present.

Chapter 2: Gyms 1-3

Scene: The Train and Wild Zone (to Motostoke)

You and Hop exchange some simple words of friendship and excitement on the train, although Hop retains an adamant position that everything he’s learned from Leon will make him the stronger trainer. He mentions that although the Gym Challenge has been going on for quite some time, it’s only in the past few years since Rose became Chairman that the event has become so advertised and prominent.
The train lights flash off and on, and the train stops at the Wild Zone station. The conductor announces that the train must end service here due to a brown-out. Hop explains the wild zone briefly, and says it should be no problem if you’re really up for the Gym Challenge.
Sonia looks nervous, and asks if she can tag along with you through the Wild Zone since her Pokemon aren’t trained for such a thing. She follows you through the zone while you go about your business, departing if you get near the Motostoke entrance. She thanks you for helping with a TM, and mentions you should heal up at the Pokemon Center in the city.
When you choose to enter the city, a quick video featuring Chairman Rose plays on a nearby billboard, announcing that the Gym Challenge opening ceremonies will take place later that day once all endorsed challengers have arrived.
The random cutscenes with Sonia, Leon, Hop, Bede, and Marnie, as well as the night at the hotel do not occur.

Scene: Gym Challenge Opening Ceremonies

When you enter the Gym, you see all the other challengers mulling about, and the league official behind the desk asks to see your endorsement. Once presented, he asks you to fill out all the final paperwork to register. Upon doing so, you choose your uniform number, as well as your challenger “title” ([GPC] - This could be a short phrase the game allows you to type, or one of a selectable list). You are then immediately invited in for the ceremony.
Instead of the eventless cutscene that is the opening ceremony in the main game, Chairman Rose introduces himself and invites all the “featured Challengers” to the field, stating they were all given endorsements by notable trainers. Your name, number, and title are shown, as well as all of those for Hop, Bede, and Marnie, as well as a few other trainers endorsed by other gym leaders. The chairman brings up that each endorsed challenger is given and authorized to use a Dynamax Band, which focuses the energy near Power Spots and allows you to Dynamax Pokemon. Part of your endorsement is the responsible use of such a tool.
After the ceremony, Hop will request a second battle to see what you’ve learned from the Wild Zone. After beating him, he’ll brush it off, insisting it just motivates him harder to get all the badges before you.
A quick note on Team Yell’s presence: they were likely hanging around before your registration, but have not made any fuss or blocked anything.
At any point, you may visit the hotel to see an optional cutscene with Sonia admiring the statue of “the hero” holding a sword and shield.

Scene: Mine #1

As you work your way through the mine, the workers you beat all mention in their flavor defeat text that the ore they’re digging up is to help power Charman Rose’s energy plant. When you reach the exit, Bede is waiting for you as normal. He says that he helped Chairman Rose with the research for his energy plant that opened a few years ago, and stopped by the mine to make sure it was operating properly, given the brown-outs. However, it’s the perfect time for him to demonstrate why the chairman endorsed him.
Defeating him makes him quite angry, as he huffs off saying he must find stronger Pokemon.

Scene: Turffield

Your introduction to the gym leader goes about as it does in the normal game, though he does complain about the eyesore to his village that the energy plant can be, as you can see it over the hills.
You find Sonia examining the relics of the town seeking information. She tells you about the Darkest Day, as normal, and brings up the relation of Dynamaxing and Power Spots.
Trying to leave early results in finding workers claiming to be from the Macro Cosmos Corporation, saying the path is currently blocked due to work on the energy plant making the road dangerous.
After winning the grass badge, you are left to your own devices, but various NPCs will mention going to the next town now that the plant repair is complete.
Upon leaving, you find the same scene of Team Yell harassing a man who is wearing an energy plant uniform. They see you’re a gym challenge participant, and accuse you of only using Pokemon to gain fame and recognition instead of truly loving them, just like the plant workers. After the battle, the man gives you the Rotom Bike as thanks.
Hop does not challenge you on the bridge.

Scene: Hulbury

The Chairman and his assistant are in town, but the Chairman is dressed much more professionally. He is talking to Bede but it is not shown what they are saying. After a moment, Bede leaves, shooting you a harsh glare as he walks by.
Chairman Rose and Oleana greet you warmly, and he tells you he’ll be in town for a bit, so if you’re still a challenger after facing the Water Gym, he’d love for you to join him for lunch.
When you find Nessa by the docks, she’s looking out over the ocean. She says that during the brown-outs earlier, she could swear she heard the pained cries of Pokemon in the ocean. She’s concerned that something happening at the energy plant could be affecting Pokemon in the area, and reveals that the power generation used at the plant was based on a breakthrough made while trying to emulate the kind of energy Power Spots emit.
After beating her, Nessa says that Pokemon only grow truly strong by appreciating them and bonding, which you clearly are doing.
During dinner with the Chairman, he talks about being excited about how strong the challengers are this year. He discusses Leon, saying that while he’s undefeated, he thinks it’s inevitable that someone even stronger must be out there. Oleana gets a call on her phone, and tells the Chairman they need to head out. He encourages you to train hard and leaves.
As you go to leave, you find Sonia, who said she wanted to get into Mine #2 and see if there was anything interesting to do with Power Spots there, since it’s placed so close to the towns and the energy plant. However, some plant workers aren’t allowing her through (leaving the town early results in simple construction barriers blocking you, with a sign that the mine is currently closed).

Scene: Mine #2

You fight the Macro Cosmos workers, who then let you into the mine. Sonia thanks you and runs ahead.
After you work your way through, you see Marnie finishing a beating on more workers at the other exit to the mine. She tells them they have no appreciation of their Pokemon and that’s why they lost. She introduces herself to you properly, saying she only entered the challenge because her brother insisted she represent Team Yell on the big stage. She requests a battle to gauge how close you are to your team.
Beating her brings a smile to her face, as she says she’s glad to meet someone else who understands the joy Pokemon can bring, even when they’re dark. She claims the Gym Challenge used to be about passionate trainers building bonds, but the efforts to make it a more popular “sport” have made the focus just on brutal fights.
You find Kabu as normal and can proceed back to Motostoke. He was in the mine helping quell some wild Pokemon who had gone out of control in the mine. Kabu mentions that the Energy Plant has brought such great prosperity to the region, that it must be maintained no matter the cost.
Bede does not appear in Mine #2.

Scene: Motostoke

You are still guided to the Motostoke hotel. Marnie is there, but does not challenge you to (another) battle, instead simply telling you that she’s keeping her eye on you, and hopes you don’t fall out of the Gym Challenge too early. She gives you some Burn Heals.
The Fire Gym goes as normal, with additional flavor text from Kabu that he has already ended several Challengers runs this year himself.

Scene: The Wild Zone (to Hammerlocke)

After defeating the Fire Gym, you once again enter the Wild Zone on the way to Hammerlocke. You find Sonia outside, who greets you and says she was able to learn from the mine workers about what kind of ores they were digging out to mimic the Power Spots. She tells you they were elemental stones, the same kind Pokemon use to evolve. She’s also headed to Hammerlocke, but this time she has stronger Pokemon to defend herself - she doesn’t want to have to depend on you every time, after all. She wants to see the Energy Plant up close.
As you approach the bridge leading north to Hammerlocke, you see Bede and Hop. They seem to just be finishing a battle, and Hop has beaten him. Bede is furious that his Pokemon could be so weak, and tells Hop it was pure luck. Hop retorts that he didn’t even need to use all the tricks his brother taught him to win, which only enrages Bede further, who runs off.
Hop then greets you, and says he’d love to show you his skills but his Pokemon were rather hurt from his fight with Bede, so he’s headed back into town. He tells you he’ll catch up with you in Hammerlocke for a rematch.

Chapter 3: Gyms 4-6

Scene: Hammerlocke

Chairman Rose and Oleana are there once again, speaking with Bede. You are again not let in on their conversation, but Rose hands Bede a Pokeball before they part. Rose then heads back towards the Gym and heads inside, as Macro Cosmos Energy Plant workers stand in front of the entryway.
Oleana sees you, and mentions you’ll have to challenge the other gyms first. She says the stadium is directly connected to the Energy Plant, which is under maintenance and causing some of the power issues; luckily, no challenger has the other seven badges yet, so it’s not holding up the challenge.
As you begin to head west, Leon and Sonia see you. Sonia says she’s had no luck making it into the Energy Plant yet, but thinks something is odd. She shows you her Power Spot Detector, which can find and measure energy around Power Spots, which she’s been using around all the known spots she’s been visiting, and mentions it flares up whenever Pokemon Dynamax nearby. She tells you it’s been going off ever since she got into town, even though the stadium is empty.
Leon says he’ll have a talk with Raihan, the Dragon gym leader, and his personal rival, to find out if anything is going on. He invites Sonia along, but tells you that you should continue your training, since this is where the challenge gets more intense.
If you explore the city and explore the vault, you can find additional scenes with Sonia examining the tapestries about the Darkest Day, one of which now shows a shadowy oversized Pokemon in the background. She wonders about the connection some more, and says she’ll be heading east to Circhester to check out the Hero’s Bath, one of a few tourism destinations built right near a Power Spot. If you try to follow her, you’ll be blocked by Team Yell, who say that even if Marnie seems to like you, they don’t trust you yet, and this route is their territory right now!

Scene: Route 6

The Yell grunts are still there, protecting the snake so it gets some sleep. Hop will catch up and get annoyed that they’re blocking the path, and ask you to join him in getting them out of the way. You can refuse to help, wanting to let the Pokemon sleep.
If you help, the battle goes as normal, they get out of the way, and when Opal appears, she says she respects your demonstration of strength. If you do not help, Hop beats them anyway, and mocks you for not wanting to show your strategies in front of him. Then Opal says that a strong challenger wouldn’t be afraid to demonstrate their strength, and that you better not be so meek when you challenge her.

Scene: Stow-on-Side

If you did not help Hop fight Team Yell, then as you walk into Stow-on-Side, he’ll appear and insist that you fight him since he never got to see you in battle. Beating him will leave him confused, as his tactics have worked on everyone else so far. He wonders what Leon does that makes it so much different.
Hop asks you if you’ll join him to look at Stow-on-Side’s famous mural. He discusses how it represents humans everywhere bonding with their Pokemon, and muses that he’s never felt that kind of connection, but wishes he could learn to. He cuts short his worries by discussing the gym leader with you, and tells you that he can’t wait to get strong enough to beat you fully.
The gyms go as normal. In terms of flavor text, Bea brings up honing your will to match your Pokemon, while Allister mentions bonding with the true spirit of your Pokemon so that you will be with them always.
As you leave the gym, an earthquake seems to occur, shaking the ground beneath you. Random NPCs look alarmed, and you hear rubble collapse from afar. It cuts to looking at the shattered mural, revealing the statues behind it. Sonia appears, saying she flew in as soon as she heard of an earthquake happening. As she’s looking at the dog statues, she sees a large gem behind them and wonders what it could be.
Just then, a Corviknight carrying Bede lands in front of you, and he hops off as he directs it to grab the gemstone and fly away. He speaks into a phone saying that a Max Quake was all it took to retrieve the hidden stone. Hanging up, he calls you too nosy for your own good, and declares it time to end your Gym Challenge here.
As you battle him, and he reaches his last Pokemon, he exclaims that its unbelievable he’d have to show off his newest tool so quickly. His last Pokemon will be something out-of-character for him, but with a cool Gigantimax. He slaps a small device onto his Dynamax Band, which immediately makes it glow. “With this beacon, I can pull Dynamax energy from so much further away!” He Gigantimaxes his last Pokemon; you are unable to Dynamax yours.
After defeating him, he’s stunned. Chairman Rose walks up the stairs behind you, looking rather mad. Several Macro Cosmos Energy Plant guards run up and restrain Bede. Rose tells Bede that he is brilliant, but is shocked at his reckless and dangerous use of his knowledge. Bede starts to respond “But you-” before the guards carry him off, and Rose apologizes to you, saying that he will of course be disqualified from the challenge and his Dynamax Band revoked. He’s rather impressed that you were able to beat a Dynamaxed Pokemon without one of your own, and says he’s keeping an eye on you as he leaves.
Sonia brings up the dogs, the tapestries, Darkest Day, and the hero story, and does her usual jam of discussing how they must all be connected.

Scene: Ballonlea

Entering the gym has you seeing Marnie leaving, just as in the original story. She says that Ballonlea may be her favorite town outside of her hometown, just because it’s so isolated from the industry building around the Energy Plant. She brings up being suspicious of Chairman Rose, and she thinks he just used the money the power plant makes to buy his way to the Chairman position.
The gym proceeds as normal.
The scene with Bede and Opal in Hammerlocke does not occur.

Scene: Hammerlocke - Part 2

As you proceed to the east, you meet Sonia in town. She mentions not finding anything helpful at the Hero’s Bath. As you’re talking, a loud explosion comes from the stadium. Sonia pulls the Power Spot Detector from her jacket, which immediately surges and burns out as she drops it in shock. Raihan runs by, saying that something must have gone wrong in the Energy Plant, but it was his stadium and thus his responsibility. He calls Leon and asks him to meet there, before running off. Sonia agrees you should leave it to them, but expresses concern.
Hop does not appear on Route 7. [GPC] Route 7 instead has a small river running through it that you are unable to cross. A Macro Cosmos Energy Plant worker approaches you and says that Chairman Rose sent word that you’d be coming this way, and to make sure you got a free upgrade to help you out. He grants you the Rotom Bike Water Upgrade a little early.

Scene: Circhester

You approach the gym to find Hop leaving it, gloating over his easy victory. He tells you to meet him at the local restaurant once you’ve won your match - or just watch him at the finals if you lose.
Flavorwise, Gordie is more focused on strength and disappointed at his loss, while Melony says you must warm your Pokemon’s hearts to beat her, and delighted in your win.
At the restaurant, you and Hop discuss how close you are to the championship, and Hop says he’ll want a rematch when you’re back in Hammerlocke for the final badge. Hop notices the tapestry, which is slightly different than the original, and now shows a prominent shining gem between the heroes. Hop brings up Sonia mentioning a gemstone to him when he passed through Hammerlocke, and wonders if she ate here.
Since you already have the water bike, you do not encounter Team Yell on the way out of town. Leaving early is perfectly fine, but you will still find Spikemuth blocked off with no way in.

Chapter 4: Divergence

Due to story changes, Spikemuth is necessitated to be closer to a real town. Thus, this entire section could be considered a [GPC]. This is also the section of the story that comes much further from the existing plot and pacing compared to the original story.

Scene: Spikemuth

As you approach Spikemuth with the Rock/Ice badge attained, Marnie shows up and says something must be wrong. Her brother is the gym leader and while her town can be a little strange, it’s never been locked off. She sneaks you in through a side alley as normal, but finds Macro Cosmos Energy Plant workers guarding each of the various entrances. Piers approaches and says that they’ve closed off the town, demanding he let them perform work on the Power Spot in Spikemuth, which he’s refused. Team Yell isn’t strong enough to kick them out though.
Marnie is disgusted, and asks you to team up with her to kick them out. You and Marnie explore the town and run through a series of double battles, defeating all the Macro Cosmos members until they leave. Once finished, Piers thanks you and says that they probably put up even more of a challenge than his normal Gym Trial, so you can challenge him directly whenever you’re ready. Marnie thanks you as well, and insists you challenge him first.
The arena is similar to the back alley street arena from the normal story, but a little larger, with more spectating area, although nothing compared to the gigantic stadiums. Piers explains that Spikemuth’s community has resisted the commercialization of the Gym Challenge, and wants to keep things focused on the bond between the Pokemon and their Trainers in the true spirit of the challenge. He also asks that you remove your Dynamax Band before fighting, as although there is a Power Spot in Spikemuth, they simply do not allow Dynamaxing here since they believe it pains the Pokemon.
In defeat, Piers congratulates you on being an excellent trainer in tune with their Pokemon. Marnie congratulates you on the way out as well, saying she can’t wait to meet you in the finals. However, your chat is interrupted by Sonia calling you, requesting you fly back to Hammerlocke as fast as you can because something is happening. The lights in Spikemuth dim out as another power loss occurs, and Marnie says she’ll come with.
With these changes, a random stranger does not drag you to Route 9, and Leon and Raihan do not appear and discuss Dynamaxed wild Pokemon you never see.

Scene: Hammerlock - Part 3

You arrive in Hammerlock to find it dark and dreary, the power completely out. The dragon gym tower is wreathed in red lightning. Sonia is outside the gym entrance, and tells you that Leon and Raihan have been inside for some time - and then suddenly an explosion happened and the power went out. Hop runs up as well, also having received a call from Sonia. You hear the roars of Pokemon Dynamaxing, and a random bystander on the street’s Pokemon begins glowing red ([GPC] there are many of these people-Pokemon pairs in the towns, we can move one within eyesight for convenience here.)
You, Hop, Marnie, and Sonia participate in a raid to take down the Dynamaxed Pokemon. Once taken care of, the bystander is a bit shaken, and Marnie says she will help maintain the peace out here and take care of any other Dynamaxed Pokemon. She and Sonia insist you and Hop head inside and figure out what’s going on.

Scene: Energy Plant

Once inside, you two dispatch of the guards in front of the lift and head inside. The Energy Plant is expanded, as you find Raihan and Leon battling Macro Cosmos members. They suggest you split up as they’re trying to find their way to the reactor core, but more members stop them at every turn. You and Hop go one direction with Raihan and Leon going the other, fighting your way through a series of singles (you and Hop each fight one alone) and double battles against members of increasing difficulty.
You dispatch a final set of guards and approach the entrance to the main reactor, just as Leon and Raihan do the same and meet up with you. All four head inside to find Chairman Rose working on a large device, housing the gem you first saw in Stow-on-Side. In Pokemon Villain tradition, when you rush in, he explains his actions. He endorsed Bede as he thought he was the trainer willing to do whatever it took to become the strongest, which is what he needed to defeat a Pokemon he didn’t even think Leon was capable of beating.
He’s been using the Gym Challenge to try and push trainers even harder to raise Pokemon strong enough to beat a Pokemon he thinks exists deep below Galar, and he thinks is responsible for the formation of Power Spots. Bede served his purpose though, having secured him the Dynamax Gem he stole from Stow-on-Side, which will create more power than ever to draw the unknown Pokemon in. However, Rose hasn’t found the right trainer yet, so he’ll just stop you on his own, by changing something on the device and pulling the energy into one of his own Pokemon (whichever one has the coolest Gigantimax).
You, Hop, Leon, and Raihan enter a raid against this Gigantimaxed Pokemon controlled by Rose, who has much higher stats than a normal Gigantimax Raid Pokemon.
Upon defeat, Rose is indignant that his work must be allowed to continue, but Raihan and Leon grab him and bring him out of the gym to be served justice. You disable the machine, and normal power is restored to the region.

Scene: Hammerlocke - Part 4

Raihan and Leon thank you and Hop for the help. Raihan and Leon joke about their rivalry, and Leon says he needs to head to Wyndon to help make sure everything is organized, since the Chairman is now imprisoned. Raihan invites you and Hop to fight him in the stadium whenever your ready - with all the power surges, his gym trial is a wreck, but you’ve already proven yourselves.
The gym fight goes as normal. After winning, outside the train station to Wyndon, Hop will request one more fight before the playoffs to gauge how far you’ve come. Upon defeat, he’ll talk about the bond he felt between Leon and his Pokemon while you fought in the Energy Plant, and wonder why he doesn’t have the same thing yet.

Chapter 5: The Finals

Scene: Wyndon

When you arrive in Wyndon, there are some simple cutscenes with Marnie and Piers congratulating you on making it, as well as hearing about your exploits in the Energy Plant. Hop will show up as well, telling you he’s trained hard in the Wild Zone for these finals, and you better not count him out yet.
None of the Macro Cosmos stuff happens anymore before you are allowed to begin the playoffs, since Rose has already been dealt with.
The playoffs proceed just as they do in the original story, with the exception that Bede does not interrupt the event to fight you.
When you reach the battle with Leon, he remarks on how much you care for your Pokemon. He says he saw that bond when you first picked your starter, and saw it grow even more as you fought in the Energy Plant. However, as you are set to fight, the power in the stadium goes out entirely. Surprised, as you have already dealt with Rose, Leon says it’s a good Pokemon trainers duty to help others above all with their Pokemon, and whistles for a Corviknight to pick him up. He tells you to follow him back to Hammerlocke to figure out what’s going on.

Scene: Hammerlocke - Part 5

You arrive in the city to see a large barrier surrounding the stadium. Leon tries to break it with his Charizard, but it has no effect. Hop and Sonia, as well as several of the other Gym Leaders, show up shortly afterwards. Hop mentions the barrier is the same color as the shining gem you saw in the basement of the plant, and wonders if someone else turned on the machine. He then says that he bets some truly strong Pokemon, like the ones you saw in the Slumbering Weald, could probably break through it.
Everything clicks for Sonia and she says it must be connected to the heroes, since according to her research they were buried deep in the Weald. You and Hop head back to check it out.

Scene: Slumbering Weald

Not much changes here, outside of Sonia not being present. You do not find the Pokemon but instead find the Rusted Sword and Rusted Shield, and figuring it’s at least something, grab them to take back to Hammerlocke.

Scene: Hammerlocke - Part 6

Bringing them back, Leon and Sonia seem very skeptical that the rusted items could accomplish much. As you raise the items towards the barrier, the legendary dogs appear and take each from you, transforming to their enhanced formes. With a combined Behemoth Blade and Behemoth Bash, they destroy the barrier, and look back to you to follow them inside.
Leon says these legendary creatures have clearly chosen you to fight alongside them, and he must respect that. He’ll stay back to make sure nothing else goes wrong outside. Hop mentions that he feels a real connection to his legendary, asking if that’s the kind of bond you feel to every Pokemon on your team.
Heading in, you make your way through the empty facility back to the reactor core. There, you find Oleana and Bede, with the Dynamax Gem machine running fully, pumping energy down a hole into the earth. Bede says it was no problem to escape the jail he was placed in, and once Oleana filled him in on Rose’s true intentions, he would not only finish the work, but prove he was the trainer strong enough to defeat whatever Pokemon created these Power Spots. You must defeat each of them in a back-to-back battle with Dynamaxing allowed. The legendary Z-dogs do not join this fight, instead standing fiercely by the machine.
As they’re defeated, the energy pumping down the hole explodes upwards as Eternatus rises from it, destroying the machine in the process. His roar is enough to blow Oleana and Bede away, but the Z-dogs leap back and protect you and Hop from it, as Eternatus grows to his Gigantimax form and you have essentially the same raid battle from the original story.
After the battle, Hop has a moment of true connection with his legendary, and tells you that he understands now why you defeated him in the finals. The legendary dogs then create a great fog and fade away, similar to the start of the game.
You head out and explain what happened to Sonia and Leon in a story wrap-up cutscene, before Leon says they’ll have to reschedule the finals for the next day.

Scene: Wyndon - Part 2

The finals play out basically as before, but with extended dialog from Leon about your growth to bond with the heroic Pokemon of legend. When you defeat him, he brings up that Hop always thought being strong was enough, but you understood that you had to love your Pokemon to succeed, making you a worthy Champion.

Chapter 6: Postgame

Scene: Slumbering Weald

After the credits, a teaser implies you should visit the Weald, just like the normal story. When you leave your house, Ball Guy runs up to you, congratulating you on winning the championship, and delivers his final ball gift, the Master Ball.
In the Weald, you meet up with Hop to return the Sword and Shield to where they belong. However, when you do, the legendary dogs reappear and stare down their respective characters. Hop says this is this Pokemon (whichever dog is “his” storywise) is the first Pokemon he’s felt that true sense of belonging with, and thinks they feel it too. You each battle your legendary and (hopefully) catch them.
Hop will thank you for being his rival and teaching him so much along the way, and challenge you to a final match with your new legendary Pokemon. After still being defeated, he will say he has much to learn, and looks forward to growing as a trainer alongside his legendary.
This is the end of the story. Sordward and Shielbert do not exist.
There are additional, yet optional scenes showing Sonia earning her Professorhood title as well as Marnie becoming the new Gym Leader.
[GPC] You can head to each gym for a rematch with each Gym Leader at much higher levels.
submitted by NovaX81 to pokemon [link] [comments]

Special Release Plays by The MAC go 2-1 last night, College Basketball Hush Money and Major Move Alert Picks CRUSH again.

Special Release Plays by The MAC go 2-1 last night, College Basketball Hush Money and Major Move Alert Picks CRUSH again.
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The Most Impressive Planet: Radical Action

First Chapter Previous Chapter Series Link The Story So Far
Previously: Elias threatened Alex. Alex took her secret recording of the conversation to Barachiel to deliver to Kushiel and Azrael in the Black Room. A long time ago, Kushiel destroyed Otric’s life.

The Most Impressive Planet: Radical Action

 
>>Journal entry 189628
 
>>How do they do it? They have told me a hundred times, but it never makes any more sense. >>How do Kushiel and Azrael keep going? Every opportunity, every minimal opening, every forlorn hope they grab and make it theirs. >>They find out that the King of LIEREN has family and they don’t hesitate to use that to their advantage. Even now Kushiel is starting to insert himself into Valla’s family. >>When was the last time they were afraid? >>How can they look in the mirror and not be repulsed by what they see? >>Shaper is the same. She is always pushing me to continue, pushing me to try again. >>When was the last time she was ever angry at my failures? >>What would I do without her? Without them? >>They always know what to do. >>I hope there is other life out there. Around other stars. On other worlds. I hope that they find us before we all die out. >>So that maybe my life could have had some measurable impact beyond just postponing misery by a few years. >>I can’t keep this up. I can’t be Psychopomp forever. It’s eating away at me. >>If I can change the world, why can’t I change myself? >>Where does doubt hide in my head? The hate? Is it a gland? A series of synapse connections? >>Why can’t I figure out how to fix it? There has to be a chemical imbalance somewhere. Of course there has to be. >>I just want someone to tell me we did good. Anyone. >>Someone to tell me I’m on the right path. >>That everything will be worth it.
 
>> End journal.
Time until summit: >99999 hours, 59 minutes, 59 seconds
Hyacinths were Otric’s favourite flower by far. Their numerous blue and purple leaves stood out in the garden, an island in the sea of green. There were other plants that he cared for, but none captured his attention and received as much of his time like the small planter against the window filled with the hyacinths.
 
When he and his mom went about the daily routine of watering, pruning, and harvesting the various crops and plants in their garden, Otric always made a detour to that planter even if the hyacinths didn’t need any tending that day. He liked to imagine that some of the other people in the neighbouring habitat towers could see the cluster of flowers in the window and enjoyed them as much as he did. If it wasn’t for his love of the plant, his mom would have repurposed the planter a long time ago.
 
Hyacinths weren’t used in cooking, so they couldn’t sell them as a food, and their cone shape meant that the affluent couldn’t pin them to their clothes like they could the few other flowers they grew. Some people still bought a few hyacinths, because even a small status symbol was a status symbol. It didn’t matter that they couldn’t be used for anything, everyone wanted something that wasn’t grown in one of the Hague’s indoor farms.
 
‘Dinner!’ came a voice from the far side of the garden.
 
Snapping his attention away from the hyacinths, Otric gathered up his pruners, clippers, trowel, plant food, and the various other gardening supplies into a small pack he slung over his shoulder.
 
It was almost too heavy for the young child, but he managed. Otric had insisted on taking on more responsibilities, and his mother was more than willing to use it as an excuse to spend time with her son while she worked.
 
Threading his way through the rows of the garden, Otric noted that most of the employees had gone home already, leaving him alone with the plants in the greenhouse. Had so much time already passed? Otric glanced up through the glass roof, peering between the towering arcology stacks which hemmed them in on multiple sides. What he could see of the sky was getting dark, and a few of the automated grow lamps were flickering on.
 
Their house, as much as one could have a house in a world where space was worth more than the lives of people who lived in it, was a series of small garden shed-esque buildings along one side of the greenhouse. His mom had them built against one of the inner walls of the greenhouse so that they could leach some heat from the neighbouring unit. Dropping his bag outside their tool shed, Otric slipped through the curtain door into the largest of the sheds, which served as a kitchen, dining area, and general purpose living area.
 
All the available space was taken up by plants, some mundane, some exotic. A small cacti was flowering in a pot on the dining room table, thyme and oregano were growing in planters under the window, a trio of fly traps were waiting patiently for an unsuspecting insect... It went on and on, and in the middle of it all was Otric’s mother.
 
Ingrid Yenjoten looked young for her age, with her hair still retaining its natural blonde colour, and only the barest wrinkles around her eyes. Her voice had the strength and authority of someone many decades her junior, and she moved with the energy of someone in the prime of their life. A lifetime of healthy eating, exercise, and a lot of rejuvenate treatments, courtesy of Otric’s mysterious sister, had worked their magic.
 
‘How were the flowers?’ Ingird asked as she fried some pineapple on a small stove.
 
‘Good,’ Otric said with a shrug. Today was the day he was supposed to tend to all the flowering plants.
 
‘Just good?’ Ingrid asked with a raised eyebrow.
 
‘Very very good?’ Otric ventured, with a small smile that showed his missing tooth.
 
Ingrid laughed at her son’s innocent guess. ‘I’m sure they’re fantastic, dear,’ she said. ‘But do you know what else is fantastic?’
 
Otric furrowed his brow. Was this a trick question? His mom had a habit of springing small brain teasers on him, and he didn’t like getting them wrong. Not because Ingrid would be disappointed, but because he liked to show his mom how much he was learning in the garden.
 
‘Pineapple?’ he guessed, looking at the counter. It was a rare delicacy when they had pineapple, because they were always so popular with the rich customers.
 
Ingrid laughed again. ‘Yes, pineapple is fantastic! But I wasn’t thinking of food. Guess who is back in town?’
 
Otric’s eyes lit up. ‘Uncle Randal?’
 
‘Surprise!’ came a booming voice from other door as a large man jumped in. Uncle Randal’s blue eyes found Otric immediately and he picked the young boy up, spinning him around.
 
‘You’re back!’ Otric said, hugging Randal when he set him down.
 
‘Of course I’m back,’ the giant of a man said, giving Otric a hug in return. ‘I decided to take some time off work to be here for your birthday. I can’t believe you’re turning 11! It seems like only yesterday you were only up to my hip.’
 
‘I’m still short!’ Otric said, laughing at the simple joke.
 
‘Well, I don’t know if I can help you grow any taller, but do you know what I do have for you?’ Randal said, reaching inside the pocket of his black suit jacket. ‘An early birthday present.’
 
With a flourish, he produced a small bag of seeds and dropped them into Otric’s waiting hands.
 
‘Ooh, what are these?’ Otric said, looking at the unmarked bag. He saw a familiar look from his mother. ‘Thank you very, very much Uncle Randal.’
 
‘These are special seeds,’ Randal said, kneeling down next to Otric. ‘A brand new creation by one of my friends who lives near Europa. He calls them Sweet Lungs, because of the shape. They are supposed to be very pretty, the richest red you have ever seen, but you shouldn’t put them in teas even if you think they’d taste good. Don’t think I didn’t get you a gift too, my darling Ingrid.’
 
‘Is that near Saturn?’ Otric asked, trying to remember where the moon was located as Randal presented a green and gold bangle to his mother.
 
‘Close, Jupiter,’ Randal said, giving Ingrid a small kiss on the cheek.
 
‘One of these days I’d like to meet one of your many friends,’ Ingrid said with a small smile.
 
‘I’d like that too, but they are pretty private people,’ Randal said with a shrug. ‘Maybe together we can twist some arms and have a get together. I bring my friends, you bring your daughter, and everyone can have a nice big party.’
 
‘Oh, I don’t know if Valla would be able to make it,’ Ingrid said as she added the grilled pineapple to a few waiting plates. ‘She always says she is so busy.’
 
‘That’s fine, we can figure something out,’ Randal said, tying his long red hair into a ponytail so it wouldn’t get into the food. ‘If there’s one thing Randal Thor has learned over his long life, it’s to be very patient.’
 
Time until summit: 14 hours, 38 minutes, 22 seconds
It didn’t matter what time of the day it was, the small meeting point was too hot for a normal human. Not that Kushiel was a “normal” human, no matter what he looked like. A body was just a vessel for a mind, after all. Once it had been not quite temperate, but tolerable. Kushiel remembered those days from a dozen perspectives. Events were much easier to remember than people. They were cleaner, easier to have a definitive recollection of. People were murky and ever shifting, full of questions and uncertainty. Events were clear cut and set in stone. Even the terrible ones were welcome memories. All things considered, his life could have been much worse. In fact, it was quite good.
 
There were a few regrettable moments sprinkled in there. A war or two that was entirely his fault. Being hunted across the solar system, fleeing Earth, changing his appearance every month to avoid detection. A few crimes against humanity. Ruining a long lasting friendship over one too many of the former.
 
In retrospect, those moments were all so temporary. Immortality changed your perspective on life, and it made it trivial to sleep at night once you accept the fact that everything goes wrong eventually so if it wasn’t you then it would have been someone else. Nothing lasts forever.
 
In fact, it was for the best that he was the one to commit the crimes. If there was a Hell, then as soon as you are guaranteed entrance you might as well dive off the deep end. What was Hell going to do, torture you for a longer eternity? If there was no Hell then celestial karma meant nothing, so the least he could do was ensure that someone else’s conscious was clear.
 
After all, life moves along and so did he. Everything else was temporary. Like the heat. Perhaps after the business with the Council was finished, humanity could begin terraforming Earth to repair centuries of damage. It would be much easier if they didn’t need to worry about TSIG.
 
He lounged under a tree, shoulder length red hair tied up in a ponytail, fanning himself with an sensu fan from before Tokyo got burnt. It didn’t help, but it occupied his mind while he waited for TSIG to show up. With the summit happening so soon, Otric would undoubtedly be busy. If Zhou was willing to meet Adriel here, then odds were good he would have been willing to go to the summit as a representative from TSIG’s political arm. Holt was never going to leave his ivory tower, and from what they were able to piece together from Golog, she was cooped up in her lab at all times. TSIG would be paranoid about sabotage or Black Room interference, so Valla was probably supervising security or the first steps of someone new taking Otric’s position.
 
That left Angela Yong, Queen of the SUPREME branch of TSIG. A PhD in robotic prosthetics, another in energy systems, and a third in anti-gravity sciences. That many doctorates seemed a bit excessive, but Kushiel wasn’t one to judge. If you were to compile a list of the most accomplished researchers and engineers in the Sol system, Yong deserved a spot near the top. That is, if more than a handful of people knew she existed.
 
Meeting an assassin in the middle of the desert with little security was not her job. It should never be her job. But when the assassin in question was one of the three founders of the Black Room and claimed that they wanted a serious talk, it deserved a proportionate response. It was one of the few rules about this meeting point that both sides obeyed without question.
 
Kushiel was about to consider leaving when his ears picked up the telltale drone of a Diamondhead approaching. Manufactured by CSE Productions, their engines were quite efficient but had a notable sound signature. It was also armed with enough weapons to make short work of almost any other vehicle in the air. However, something sounded off.
 
The moment TSIG arrived, Kushiel could see why. The Diamondhead was flanked by a pair of Warpaths. The rules of this meeting point were specific about not initiating violence, but they said nothing about bringing a small army to back you up, just in case. It seems Angela Yong subscribed to the idea that overwhelming force was the better part of valour, which was great news.
 
Kushiel had a feeling that she would be a fantastic addition to the Black Room.
 
The two Warpaths took up hovering positions on opposite side of the valley, completing slow arcs as they traced their supervising trajectory around the meeting point. The Diamonhead turned 90 degrees so that Kushiel had a clear view of the massive Gatling gun pointing out the side hatch. From that opening, Angela Yong appeared.
 
She leapt from the flying ship, long white coat billowing behind her in the jetwash of the engines. Her fall slowed, becoming a gentle drift as she glided towards the stone table set in the centre of the valley. She smoothly transitioned from flying to walking, as though she hadn’t just jumped from a flying gunship two dozen meters in the air. Behind her, two soldiers leapt from the gunship, crashing into the ground in a billow of dust as they followed Yong’s paths. Kushiel recognized them as Rook DeWolfe and Knight Alvarez, from the attack on Krubera. The collection of drones floating around Alvarez was hard to forget.
 
Were they trying to get an emotional response out of him by reminding him of his failure? If so, they overestimated his emotional connection to the event.
 
With a wave of Yong’s hand, one of the chairs at the stone table slid backwards as if pulled by an invisible force and she took her seat at the meeting point. She stared expectantly at Kushiel who still had yet to get out from under the shade.
 
She was showing off. So Kushiel decided to show off in his own way. With deliberate slowness he folded up the sensu fan and tucked it away in his jacket pocket. He made sure to exaggerate his motions to show that he had no weapons under his suit jacket. Of course, one of the perks of being a founder of the Black Room was all the esoteric and experimental augments he had. Those were rather more difficult to spot.
 
No one would be able to tell from a glance that his skin was resistant to small calibre bullets, his bones were tougher than steel, or the fact that he was immune to all but a few diseases and biological weapons. A close inspection might notice the faint metallic lines that ran across his skin like silver veins in a few spots the makeup had missed. Black nail polish hid the fact that his fingernails were the same unnatural silver colour. The infinite energy of the Ether was quite literally at his ebnesium-laced fingertips.
 
‘You brought friends,’ Kushiel said as he sauntered up to the other chair. ‘Expecting trouble?’
 
‘Yes,’ Yong replied, her cold eyes watching his every move.
 
‘Always smart,’ Kushiel said with a smile. ‘Tell me, do you know why I called this meeting?’
 
‘The sooner we get this over with, the better.’ Yong remained neutral and impassive.
 
‘Fantastic. But first, privacy. This is strictly for us. As equals. Not for them,’ Kushiel gave the two knights a dismissive wave.
 
Yong frowned. ‘That is disagreeable.’
 
‘Let me assure you that if I wanted you dead, it wouldn’t matter how close they are,’ Kushiel said, leaning back in his chair. ‘Likewise, if you wanted me dead, it wouldn’t matter how far they were. Let’s treat each other with the respect we deserve.’
 
Yong pulled a small coin sized object from her coat and tossed it to DeWolfe, who caught it.
 
‘Happy now?’
 
‘Yes. Now, let me present you with a thought experiment,’ Kushiel said, pulling out the fan and placing it on the table and unfurling it to reveal the Black Room’s grey eye on a black background. ‘The Council will be having their long awaited summit today, which means that sometime very soon, either TSIG or the Black Room will be going the way of the dodo bird. Now, consider this idea: that would be a colossal waste of resources.’
 
‘The cost incurred by you disrupting our experiments, subverting our plans, and killing our operatives is large enough to justify a large one-off expenditure,’ Yong replied.
 
‘I wasn’t referring to the material cost, though that is sure to be significant regardless,’ Kushiel said, flipping the fan over to reveal the golden sword and shield of TSIG. ‘I was referring to knowledge.’
 
‘It will be unfortunate, but, with time, what was lost can be found,’ Yong said with a dismissive wave.
 
‘That’s not why they call it research,’ Kushiel said with a shake of his head, though in truth he wasn’t one to talk. His talents for research and development were lacking compared to Shaper, Psychopomp, and nearly other member of the Black Room. ‘Why not skip that boring little period and get right to the fun parts?’
 
‘The sooner the better,’ Yong said, with a look of impatience.
 
‘Alright,’ Kushiel said, snapping the fan shut. ‘The Black Room has more genetic engineering experience and technology that the rest of the galaxy combined. TSIG is far better than the Council in many aspects, but you are on the same road that they are already on. If you did nothing, they would eventually catch up. Meanwhile, we are uncharted territory. The aliens’ knowledge and research in biological engineering and genetic enhancement is centuries out of date compared to us. My bet is that the Council is going to decide that they would rather have the Black Room intact than TSIG. I’ll stake my future on it.’
 
Perhaps it was unfair to make such a claim when Kushiel already knew that Psychopomp had made a deal with the Council. Not that fairness mattered, in the grand scheme of things, but still. He was sure he had some standards, low as they were.
 
Yong raised an eyebrow. ‘A bold prediction, considering that your organization has less manpower, less resources, and fewer allies. But, for the sake of this argument, do go on.’
 
‘I have seen your work. Huge fan, by the way. Heh, fan. Because of the fan here? I make myself laugh,’ Kushiel said, unbuttoning his silk shirt to reveal a pendant dangling there. ‘Anyway, we pulled this off the man you sent to kill Remus and her allies way back at the beginning. An ingenious device, using anti-gravity to deflect bullets. It took us months to figure out how it worked and repair it. To be quite honest, I don’t know if anyone in our organization would have thought this up.’
 
Flattery can get you many places, but Yong didn’t even blink. Come to think of it, Kushiel hadn’t seen her blink once since she arrived.
 
‘Point is, when the Council sides with the Black Room, we don’t want to lose someone like you to the senseless violence,’ Kushiel said, buttoning his shirt up again. ‘Join us. It would be easy to fabricate a fake identity for you, and sneak you into our organization. We could even bring along DeWolfe or Alvarez if you wanted them. A few other of your team members you think are exemplary.’
 
Yong scoffed.
 
‘We could do it right here, right now,’ Kushiel said, leaning forward. ‘My skin is threaded with ebnesium, like the shell of a Zo. It acts as a Faraday cage, allowing-’
 
‘Allowing us to travel through the Ether directly, rather than merely breaking the light speed limit,’ Yong finished for him. ‘TSIG is well familiar with the theory and the technology to implement it on larger scales than a single human.’
 
‘A bear hug would be enough to protect you,’ Kushiel said, ignoring the implication of Yong’s words. ‘We could stand up, shake, and then before anyone reacts, I could take you a hundred miles away. Have you ever travelled through the Ether? It’s wild. The Black Room would be a good fit, Queen Yong. We have the resources to fund you, the people to support you, and the tech to keep you alive for as long as you want to live.’
 
‘What makes you think I’m one to turn traitor?’
 
‘My instincts.’ A poor answer, but if the gamble didn’t pay off, then there was no loss to him. ‘To be truthful, I have a difficulty getting a read on you. Zhou, Golog, Holt- all of you. What drives TSIG? What makes you tick?’
 
‘Why does a fish swim? Why does a bird fly?’ Yong replied, as though it were obvious. There was a moment of silence before Yong continued. ‘And what of you? You are competent and skilled. TSIG would treat you well should you turn.’
 
‘My motives run deeper than passion,’ Kushiel said.
 
‘The only person who truly hates you is Otric and he isn’t long for this world,’ Yong said. ‘With him gone, who would be against you?’
 
Kushiel laughed at the absurdity of the statement. ‘I assure you, Valla may keep it hidden better but she would never accept Azrael or I.’
 
‘Are you so sure of that?’ Yong said.
 
‘Sure as I can be of anything in my life,’ Kushiel said with a sad smile.
Time until summit: >99999 hours, 59 minutes, 59 seconds
‘Please, Ingrid, we should leave,’ Randal said, eyes darting everywhere. ‘The front is collapsing, we don’t know how much time-’
 
‘No!’ Ingrid shouted, pointing the knife at him. Otric cowered behind his mother, hands pressed over his ears to try and muffle the distant rumble of explosions. ‘Valla told me about you! She told me you’re dangerous!’
 
‘What are you talking about? You know me, Ingrid, you’ve known me for years. Don’t you trust me?’ Randal said, taking a slow step into the dining shed. ‘Your daughter has never even met me.’
 
Ingrid backed up, moving towards the opposite door, her hands shaking as she pointed the knife at him. The bangle Randal had once given her rattled against her watch. ‘She told me you’re working for the other side. That you’re the reason the Hague is being attacked right now.’
 
‘That’s absurd! How could I do something like this?’ Randal said, taking another step forward. He stood next to a pot filled with vibrant red Sweet Lungs, the gift he once gave Otric seeming so unwelcoming now that his mom feared the man who gave it.
 
‘Your friends in Europa,’ Ingrid said, glowering at him. ‘Otric, get out of here.’
 
‘No, kid! Wait!’ Randal said, taking another step forward just as Otric was about to run. ‘You believe me, don’t you? I’m not a bad guy, I’m just Uncle Randal. Just Uncle Randal.’
 
Otric didn’t know; he really didn’t. There had never been a moment when Randal had seemed even the least bit dangerous. He wasn’t around often, but when he was, he was always kind, quick with a joke, and always eager to listen to Otric talk about all the new things he learned. But Otric has never seen his mom so angry with a person before, and Otric trusted his mom.
 
There was another rattling boom, and the sound of glass shattering outside. The shockwave sent Ingrid stumbling and Randal saw his opportunity. Faster than Otric could blink, the gentle red head had surged across the room and was holding Ingrid by the wrists.
 
‘Run Otric!’ Ingrid shouted.
 
He was frozen, eyes wide as Randal twisted his mother’s arm until she dropped the knife. The earlier panic on his face was gone, replaced by nothing. No fear, no anger, no smile, just a blank stare as Ingrid cried in pain. Uncle Randal was hurting his mom. Uncle Randal was hurting his mom.
 
‘Listen to our mom,’ came a hard voice.
 
Otric spun around to see a metal statue towering in the door behind him, a sword in one hand and a gun in the other.
 
‘Just the person I wanted to see,’ Uncle Randal smiled, pulling Ingrid into a choke hold as he drew a gun from his jacket. ‘It’s a pleasure to finally meet face to face, Valla. You should really visit your family more often.’
 
‘Run, Otric,’ the statue repeated. ‘I’ll deal with Kushiel.’
 
The statue’s tone brooked no argument. He bolted out of the room, sprinting through the gardens. The ceiling of the greenhouse was shattered, glass crunching under his feet, and there were black armoured soldiers moving between the rows towards the garden shed. Smoke and fire billowed outside the massive windows, and titanic sections of the neighbouring towers were cracked open like eggs, revealing the floors within stacked atop each other like bands of stone.
 
One of the soliders shouted at him to stop, but Otric slipped under one of the planters, crawling through the dirt and mud that had fallen between the cracks over the years. No one could see him here, and there was no broken glass on the ground. Tears started to stream down his face, and Otric stopped for a moment to try and wipe them away, but all it accomplished was smearing his face with the dirt on his hands.
 
Where was he supposed to go? Was that really his sister? Why was Uncle Randal attacking them? None of it made sense and Otric just wanted to curl up in a ball and wait until his mom found him. She would know what to do. Mom always knew what to do.
 
Dragging himself across the ground, Otric could hear distant screams of pain and the sound of gunfire echoing in the direction of the kitchen. There was an explosion, and one of the black armoured soldiers fell to the ground next to the planter Otric was under, half his head gone. Blood mixed with the drained water, thickening the already drying mud.
 
Otric screamed and tried to back away, but a collection of watering tubes prevented him from going anywhere but forward. He hit his head on the hard metal casing of the planter and stars swam around his eyes.
 
With no knowledge of where was safe, Otric focused on the place he knew better than any other. The hyacinths had to be close. They had to be safe. They had to be. Where else but there?
 
Every breath felt like breathing in the flames of a furnace, and the acrid smell of smoke choked his lungs.
 
There was more explosions, each one a concussive wave that send moist dirt falling all over Otric. More glass shattered, and a scream fell away until it vanished into the background noise. Pounding footsteps surrounded him, an army surrounding him.
 
The planter ahead of Otric collapsed, cutting off his path. Dirt flowed out of it like water, almost choking him as he struggled to back away in the cramped space. He would have to leave safety to get the next planter.
 
‘There you are,’ Randal said, appearing on the ground next to Otric like a spectre. His red hair was matted with blood, and one eye was missing, but he sported the smile that Otric had seen a hundred times before.
 
‘Help! Mom! Help!’ Otric screamed as Randal grabbed his arm and dragged him out from under the planter.
 
The garden and the sheds were on fire, dozens of planters engulfed in white flames that hurt to look at. Plants that Otric had spent years of his young life working on were cinders, reduced to ashes in hateful moments. Bodies were scattered across the ground, and a few of them had the same red hair as Uncle Randal. Like his brothers and sisters. Did Randal have a family?
 
‘Drop the boy,’ the metal statue said, striding out of the smoke. Black armoured soldiers flanked her, their guns pointed at Randal. Pointed at Otric.
 
‘I’m sorry,’ Otric said, his eyes watering. ‘Please, Uncle Randal, I’m sorry.’ He didn’t know what he had done, but it had to have been something. Uncle Randal would never have done this. He had always been so friendly. Why was he hurting them? ‘Please.’
 
‘I told you already Valla, it’s simple,’ Randal said, holding Otric in front of him in a bear hug. ‘You for your brother and mother. They’ll be unharmed. You have my word.’
 
The statue lurched forward, pointing her sword at Randal. ‘Your word?’ she sneered.
 
‘I can do this forever, Valla,’ Randal said, tightening his grip on Otric. ‘Even if you make it through today, what about tomorrow? The day after that? Or after that? I just need to win once.’
 
‘What’s going on?’ Otric whimpered. ‘Why are you doing this Uncle?’
 
‘Everything is going to be fine, Otric!’ Ingrid said, stumbling out of the smoke to stand behind the statue. Her face was bloody, and caked with grime, with a rag wrapped around her mouth. She clung onto the statue for support, barely able to keep upright.
 
‘No it isn’t,’ Randal laughed. ‘Do you know what entropy is, kid? This was always going to happen. The moment you were born, we were all destined to meet. No one could have changed this. This was how it was always going to end.’
 
‘Nothing is going to end,’ the statue said, its cold voice cutting through the flames.
 
‘I warned you about those Sweet Lungs,’ Randal said, dangling a vial in his free hand. ‘Otric should be fine, but, my darling Ingrid, you’re on borrowed time unless Valla decides to make the right choice.’
 
Even though he didn’t know how, Otric understood the meaning behind Randal’s words. ‘Don’t hurt my mom!’ he shouted, pounding on Randal’s thick arms with small fists.
 
‘That’s up to your sister to decide,’ Randal said, backing away from Ingrid as the soldiers moved up. ‘Truth be told, I’m astonished your mom lasted as long as she did.’
 
‘Randal!’ Ingrid said, taking a step forward before collapsing heavily to the ground with a fit of wracking coughs. ‘Please, just let my kids go! You can have me instead!’
 
‘Oh shut up, Ingrid,’ Randal said as Ingrid struggled to pull herself to her feet.
 
‘Stay back,’ the statue said, offering a hand to lift up Otric’s mom. ‘I’ll deal with him.’
 
Everything happened in a blur. The second Ingrid’s arm touched the statue’s, the bangle that Randal had given her exploded. Otric didn’t even have a chance to begin screaming before Randal threw him at the statue, who was reeling from the detonation. The statue’s left hand was a mangled mess, but all Otric could focus on was his mom, who was clutching the ragged stump of her right arm in shock.
 
The statue dropped her sword to catch him, and they both went tumbling to the ground. Dirt and blood filled Otric’s mouth as his face hit the flagstones, and the sky became the garden became the sky again as he rolled across the floor.
 
The booming reports of gunfire deafened Otric’s ears, and he curled up in a ball as the he felt the violence resume. With every ringing boom he pulled himself tighter into a ball. Just hide, just hide and everything will be fine. It had to be fine.
 
Smoke filled his lungs.
 
It had to be fine. It hurt to move his arm.
 
It had to be fine. His mouth tasted like copper.
 
It had to be fine. His ears were ringing and he could barely hear.
 
It had to be fine. The air was getting hotter and hotter.
 
It had to be fine. The ground was slick with blood.
 
It had to be fine.
 
It had-
 
‘Otric,’ said a voice. There was a hand on his shoulder.
 
‘Mom,’ he whimpered.
 
‘My name is Valla.’ The voice sounded soft, and full of sadness. ‘I’m your sister.’
 
Otric uncurled, tears springing to his eyes as he looked up at the speaker. The statue had removed her helmet, and blonde hair, the same as his mom’s, the same as his, fell around her head.
 
‘Is mom okay?’ Otric said, barely able to speak.
 
Valla’s face twisted into a grimace that reminded Otric so much of the face his mom made when she found pests on their crops. Dread filled Otric’s heart, bubbling up and choking his mind.
 
‘Why did Uncle Randal do this?’ Otric said, tears streaming down his cheeks. ‘Was it something I did? I thought...’ He trailed off as sobs overpowered his voice.
 
‘He wasn’t your uncle. He never was. He was a bad man,’ Valla said, wiping away the tears on his face. ‘And he’ll never hurt you again. I promise. We’re going to go somewhere safe.’
 
With surprising tenderness, Valla picked Otric up, holding him like an infant. Her armour was hard and uncomfortable, but as Otric hugged her back he imagined the metal wrapping around him like a second skin, protecting him from all harm. He wished he could hide in a steel cocoon forever.
 
He wished to wrap himself in layer after layer of armour until nothing would hurt.
 
‘Valla.’ The gurgling voice was all but inaudible against the backdrop of conflict outside. If it wasn’t for his sister’s reaction, Otric would have missed it.
 
Behind them, Randal was lying on the ground, blood leaking out of his mouth to mix with the dirt. A few feet away lay the crumpled form of-
 
Otric immediately looked away, hoping against hope that he hadn’t just glimpsed his mother. His gaze wandered in the direction of the hyacinth planter, but it was hidden behind smoke and flames which licked the roof of the greenhouse.
 
‘You did well today,’ Randal said, still smiling. Otric never wanted to see that smile again. Never in a hundred years. ‘Next life I’ll be better.’
 
Valla turned away, leaving the red headed monster where he lay. She carried Otric out of the greenhouse without another word. Otric’s last glimpse of the home he knew for his entire life was fire and smoke eating up he ever cared for. In the centre of it all was a woman with a missing arm.
 
That was the day Otric learned of TSIG, and the Black Room.
 
That was the day Otric learned the name Kushiel.
 
That was the day Otric learned how to hate.
Time until summit: 13 hours, 59 minutes, 26 seconds
‘Azrael?’ Barachiel asked, knocking on the door. The redhead was in the middle of disassembling her guns, each piece meticulously laid out. Hunter 13 sat across from her, doing the same with his sniper rifle. Even in light, the alien’s heavy grey ballistics cloak seemed to be hazy and indistinct.
 
‘Barachiel,’ she replied. For once she wasn’t wearing her sunglasses, leaving her inhuman red eyes uncovered.
 
‘Message from the dead drop point. Remus is concerned for Alia’s safety, and, more importantly, we have a problem,’ Barachiel said, dropping a bundle of folders on one of the few clear places on the table. ‘Lillian Yansa and Elias Malik seem to know that Remus is cooperating with us. They know Remus used to be an agent. As such, they have Alia under constant watch. If you still intend on risking life and limb for Remus, you should be aware.’
 
Azrael frowned, clearing a space in front of her to look at the folders Barachiel brought. ‘I do so intend,’ she replied. ‘Anything else?’
 
‘I decided to pull Yansa and Elias’s files from the Filter backups, along with a few of their allies,’ Barachiel said, pointing out a few bundles of paper. ‘They are a few days out of date, but should be good enough. Beyond that, nothing much. I listened to Remus’s recording of the conversation and it sounds like generic threats from someone who found a tidbit of power and let it go to their head. Remus was insistent you hear the recording, but I don’t think it is anything serious. Feel free to ask Dumah for his opinion, he should be back already.’
 
‘They finally killed Dumah?’ Azrael asked, flipping through the reports. ‘Odd. He should’ve come see me by now, to discuss what we are going to do about the Filter.’
 
‘Could have been a bad resurrection and he’s still curled up in a ball somewhere,’ Barachiel shrugged. ‘It happened to Adriel when you and Kushiel killed him all those times, and it sounds like Dumah was tortured quite thoroughly.’
 
It happened to all of them one time or another. For Barachiel it had been when he had tried out what he thought was an inoculation against a bioweapon. Turns out it reacted differently to humans than it did to rats, and for the next three bodies it felt as though his skin was burning.
 
‘Could be,’ Azrael said, putting a hand to her ear. ‘Cassiel, can you check if Dumah resurrected recently?’ She turned her attention back to Barachiel. ‘You said you had a recording.’
 
‘Nothing much to hear, unless you want to get upset at the state of our opsec with the Filter in enemy hands,’ he said, passing her the memory card.
 
‘At the very least it will be something interesting to listen to when working,’ she said pulling out a pair of headsets, while putting her finger to her ear again. ‘What? Are you sure? Check the status of the Europa relay station. It could have been damaged, or Dumah’s upload may have gotten bounced to the wrong location and he’s in limbo while a clone is grown. Just get a memory stack trace.’
 
She slipped the chip into a small player and tapped the speed up button a few times before getting back to work. She didn’t explicitly dismiss him, and, having nothing else to do, Barachiel hovered awkwardly while Hunter 13 and Azrael continued their methodical work. Even in the bright light, Barachiel found it difficult to focus on the Oualan. What extra tech were those aliens slipping into the weave of their ballistics cloaks?
 
‘Barachiel,’ Azrael said, tearing the headsets off with wide eyes and a shaking voice. ‘In the storage closet there is an AED. Get it.’
 
‘What’s the issue?’ Barachiel asked, as he searched.
 
Azrael didn’t answer him as she unbuttoned her shirt, her hands uncharacteristically shaky. ‘Time is short and we don’t have the supplies I want, so we’re going to have bootleg this. Barachiel, the AED settings password is “LaLiPatriots”, one word, camel case. Increase the voltage from 3000 to 5000 and disable the safeties. There’s a paper in the box, give it to me. Don’t look at it too long. Hunter 13, you are going to be delivering the shock.’
 
‘I am unfamiliar with human medical devices,’ the Hunter said. ‘It is possible that I may misuse and it would be fatal.’
 
Sure enough, there was a page with a complicated pictogram drawn on it nestled between the paddles and a tube of gel. Messy writing under the pictogram read “force rebase to all branches” with a series other, smaller pictograms underneath.
 
‘Why would I hesitate?’ Barachiel said, angry at the implication.
Continued
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Teasers are one of the more advanced wagers in sports betting. This is a wager you should definitely learn about though, even as a beginner, as it provides opportunities to place relatively low risk wagers which can still provide a good return. In this article we explain in detail how teasers work, but we NFL teaser betting is more common with intermediate or advanced bettors, but it isn’t a hard concept to understand – I will explain how NFL teasers work below. A teaser bet is a group of straight bets (two or more) combined into one bet, where each individual line has been shifted to your favour by the number of points of the teaser. To calculate: First, enter your bankroll. Second, enter the price your sportsbook charges for the type of teaser requested. Third, enter the probability based on the teams put into the teaser. For sports betting, the big three bet types capture most of the attention.Moneyline, point spreads, and totals attract a ton of betting action, and bets of this nature tend to dominate the conversation as a result.. However, there are plenty of other ways to get in the game. Some of them are really simple and straightforward, while others can seem a bit on the complex side at first glance. A teaser is a sports bet that is similar to placing a parlay bet.Both types of wagers are made by selecting two or more events to occur. Like a traditional parlay, each event selected for a teaser must win in order for the player to win to win the bet.

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