The Half Time Full Time Income Betting System

Script for "History of the entire world I guess" by Bill wurtz

hi, you're on a rock floating in space. pretty cool, huh? some of it's water. fuck it. actually, most of it's water. i can't even get from here to there without buying a boat. it's sad. i'm sad. i miss you. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? a long time ago... actually, never. and also now. nothing is nowhere. when? never. makes sense, right? like i said, it didn't happen. nothing was never anywhere. that's why it's been everywhere. it's been so "everywhere," you don't need a "where." you don't even need a "when." that's how "every" it gets. forget this. i wanna be something. go somewhere. do something. i want things to change. i want to invent time and space. and i know it's possible because everything is here, and it probably already happened. i just don't know when to start. and that's exactly where it started. big bang— pause woah. i paused it. i think there's a universe now. what's it made of? quarks and stuff. ah, that's a thing! in a place! don't like it? try a new place, at a different Time™. try to stick together, because the world is gonna get bigger and emptier. but it's not empty yet! it's still very full, and about a kjghpillion degrees. about no seconds later great news! the quarks are now happily married in groups of three, called a "proton" and a "neutron." and there's something else flying around that wants to join in, but can't cause it's too HOT. ten minutes later great news! the protons and neutrons are now happily married to each other! some of them even doubled up. about 380,000 years later great news! the electrons have now joined in. congratulations! the world is now... a bunch of gas in space. but it's getting closer together... ten million years later and it's getting closer together... 500 million years later and it's getting closer togeth—star is born it's a star new shit just got made! some stars burn out and die. bigger stars burn out and die with passion! and make some brand new way crazier shit. space dust! which allows for newer and more interesting stars to be made, and then die and explode into even crazier space dust! so now, stars have cool stuff around them, like rocks, ice, and funny clouds, which can make some very interesting things. like this ball of flaming rocks, for example. meteor hits earth holy shit, we just got hit by another ball of flaming rocks. and it kind of... made a mess. which is now the moon weather update: it's raining rocks from outer space. weather update: those rocks might've had water inside of them and now there's hot steam in the sky. weather update: cooler temperatures today and the floor is no longer lava. weather update... it's raining. severe flooding alert, the entire world is now an ocean. volcano alert. that's land! there'slifeintheocean what? something's alive in the ocean oh, cool. like a plant, or an animal? no! a microscopic speck. it lives in the bottom of the ocean and eats chemical soup, which is being served hot and fresh, made from gnarly space ingredients left over from when it was raining rocks or whatever. microscopic speck asexually reproduces oh yeah, and it can do that. reproduces three more times it has secret instructions written inside itself telling it how to build another one of itself. so that's pretty nifty, i would say. tired of living at the bottom of the ocean? now you can eat sunlight! using a revolutionary technique, you can convert sunlight into food. taste the sun! side effect, now there's oxygen everywhere and the sky is blue. then the earth might've been a snowball for a while. maybe even a couple of times. it's a sponge... it's a plant... it's a worm, and some other types of weird strange water bugs and strange fish. it's the Cambrian explosion: "wow, that's animals and stuff" but we're still in the ocean. hey, can we go on land? NO why? the sun is a deadly laser oh okay. not anymore, there's a blanket now the animals can go on land. come on, animals, let's go on land! "nope, can't walk yet." "and there's no food yet, so i don't care." 100 million years later okay, will you learn to walk if there's plants up here? "maybe," said some bugs. and fish. fish gasps for air five million years later okay, so i can go on land, but i have to go back in the water to have babies! idea: learn to use an egg. "i was already doing that" use a stronger egg. put water in it. have a baby, on land, in an egg. water is in the egg. baby, in the egg, in the water, in the egg. works for me. bye bye ocean 50 million years later and now everything's huge. including bugs. wanna see a map of the land? sure. Permian extinction oh, fuck, now everything's dead. just kidding, here are the survivors. keep your eye on this one, because it's about to become 75 million years later the dinosaurs. here's another map of the land. yeah, it broke apart. don't worry about it, it does that all the time. here comes a meteor. meteor strikes and the dinosaurs are gone it's mammal time, here come the mammals. look at those breasts. now they're gonna dominate the world, but one of them just learned how to grab stuff. and walk. no, like, walk like that. and grab stuff at the same time. and bang rocks together to make pointed rocks. "ouch" and set things on fire. "yeouch" and make crazy sounds with their voice: "gneurshk" which can mean different things. that's a human person! and now they're everywhere. almost. ice age! what? you can walk over here? cool. not anymore well i guess we're stuck here now. let's review: there's people on the planet. and they're chasing their food. fuck it. time to plant some grass. look at this. i get to control the food now. now everyone will want to be my friend and live near me. let's all build houses, except mine is bigger because i own the food. this is great! i wonder if anyone else is doing this. tired of using rocks for everything? use metal. it's underground. better farming was just invented in a sweet dank valley right in between these two rivers, and the animals are helping. guess what happens next? more food. and more people, who came to buy the food. now you need people to help make the food and keep track of the sales. and now you need houses for people to live in and people to make the houses and now there's more people and they invent things which makes things better and more people come and there's more farming and more people to make more things for more people and now there's business, money, writing, laws, power, Society coming soon to a dank river valley near you. meanwhile, out in the middle of nowhere, the horse is probably being tamed. why is all my metal so lame and lumpy? tired of using lame, sad metal? introducing: bronze. made from special ingredient tin from the far lands of Tin Land. i dunno, my dealer won't tell me where he gets it. also, guess what? egypt meanwhile, out in the middle of nowhere, they figured out how to put wheels on a horse. now we're getting somewhere. also, china and did i mention indus river valley civilization society count: 5 ... norte chico the middle east is getting more complicated. maybe because it's in the middle of the east. knock knock, er, clop clop. it's the... people with the horses? and they made an empire. and then everyone else copied their horses. greeks! ah look, it must be the greeks! er, a beta version of the greeks. let's check in with the indus river valley civilization: they're gone. guess who's not gone? china. new arrivals from india... maybe it's those horse people i was talking about... or their cousins or something... and they wrote some hymns and mantras and stuff... you could make a religion out of this. there's the bronze age collapse. now the phoenicians can get down to business also, can we switch to a metal that's a little easier to find? thanks. look who came back to israel, it's the twelve tribes of israel. and they believe in God just one though, and he's got like a ten-step program. here's some huge heads. must be the olmecs. the phoenicians make some colonies. the greeks copy their idea and make some colonies. the phoenicians made a colony so big it makes colonies. here comes the assyrian empire. never mind, it's the babyloni— media—it's the Persian Empire: "wow, that's big" enlightenment ah, the buddha was just enlightened. who's the buddha? this guy, who sat under a tree for so long that he figured out how to ignore the fact that we're all dying. you could make a religion out of this. oops, china just broke. but while it was breaking, confucius was figuring out how to have good morals. enlightenment ah, the greeks just had the idea of thinking about stuff. and right over here, alexander just had the idea of conquering the entire persian empire. it's a great idea. he was... great. and now he's dead. hopefully, the rest of the gang will be able to share the empire evenly between them. knock knock, it's chandragupta. he says "get the hell out of here. will you get the hell out of here if i give you 500 elephants? okay, thanks, bye" time to conquer all of india er most of india but what about this part? that's the tamil kings. no one conquers the tamil kings. who are the tamil kings? merchants, probably. and they've got spices! who would like to buy the spices? "me!" said the arabians, swiftly buying it and selling it to the rest of the world. hey, china put itself back together again, with good morals as their main philosophy. actually, they have three main philosophies: confucianism: have good morals taoism: go with the flow legalism: fuck you, obey the law out here, the horse nomads run wild and free, and they would like to ransack your city. nomads ransack china let's check the greekification levels of the greekified kingdoms: greekification overload. bye, said the parthians. bye, said the jews. hi, said the parthians, taking over the entire place. heyyyyy, said the romans, eating the entire mediterranean for breakfast. "thanks for invading our homeland," said the jews, who were starting to get tired of people invading their homeland. "hi, everything's great," said some guy who seems to be getting very popular and is then arrested and killed for being too popular, which actually makes him more popular. you could make a religion out of this. want silk? now you can buy it from china. they just made a brand new road to the world. conquers vietnam or you can get there on water "sick! new trade routes!" said india, accidentally spreading their religion to the entire southeast. hmm, that's a good place for an epic trading kingdom. there goes buddhism, travelling up the silk road. i wonder if it'll reach china before it collapses again. remember the persian empire? yep, said the persians, making a new one. axum is getting so powerful, they would like to build a long stick. has anyone populated madagascar yet? let's do it together. china is whole again... ...then it broke again still can't cross the sahara desert? try camels. "hell yeah! now we've got business," said the ghana empire, selling lots of gold. and slaves. "hi, i'm a member of the roman empire, and i was wondering is loving jesus legal yet?" "no" "actually, okay sure," said constantine, moving the capital way over here to be closer to his main rival. don't worry about rome, it won't fall. it's the golden age of india there's the gupta empire, not chandragupta, just gupta. first name chandra. the first. guess who's in rome? barbarians. what's a barbarian? "non-romans," said the romans, being invaded by non-romans. r.i.p. roman empire. actually just half of it, the other half is just fine, but it's not in rome anymore, so let's give it a new name. the mayans have figured out the stars oh, and here's a huge city, population: everyone. the göktürks have taken over the entire eurasian steppe. great job, göktürks. how's india? broken. how's china? back together. how's those trading kingdoms? bigger, and there's more of them. korea has three kingdoms. japan has a kingdom, it's the sunrise kingdom. intermission deep in the arabian desert, on the top of a mountain, the real god whispers in muhammad's ear. so, he goes down to the cube where everyone worships gods and he tells them their gods are all fake. and everyone got so mad at him that he had to leave town and go to a different town. you could make a religion out of this, and maybe conquer the world as well. the roman empire is long gone, but somehow the pope is still the pope. plus, there's new kingdoms all over europe. i wonder if there's room for moors. here's all the wisdom. in a house. it's the baghdad house of wisdom! just in time for the islamic golden age! "let's bring stuff to the coast and sell it, and become the swahili on the swahili coast," said the swahili on the swahili coast. remember this tiny space you have to go through to get from here to there? someone owns that now. wanna get enlightened in the middle of nowhere? the franks have the biggest kingdom in europe, and the pope is so proud that he invites the king over for christmas. "surprise! you're the new roman emporer!" said the pope, pretending to still be part of the roman empire. then the franks broke their kingdom into what will later be called france and not-france. the northerners, er, just "norse" if you don't have much time, are exploring. they go north, from the north to the northern north. and they find some land— two types of land!— and they name them accordingly. prankd they also invade some other places and get called many names, such as "vikings." there's the rus! the kievan rus! are they vikings? "i don't think so," said the kievan rus. okay, fair enough. the pope is ready to make some more emperors of the roman empire. the holy roman empire! it's actually germany, but don't worry about it. new kingdoms—CRISTIANIZE ALL THE KINGDOMS!! which brand would you like? "mine's better" "mine's better" "mine's better" "time to conquer england," said william. it's a bird! it's a plane! it's the seljuk turks! "aah!" said the byzantine empire, who's getting so small and almost doesn't exist anymore. "we need help!" they need help! so they call the pope. "hey pope, can you help us get rid of the seljuks? maybe take back the holy land on the way? come on, i know you want to take back the holy land." "yes, i do actually want to do that. let's do a crusade." crusade! they did many crusades. some of which almost didn't fail. but at least the italians got some sweet trade deals. goodbye mayans. hello toltecs! goodbye toltecs. hello mississippi! look at those mounds. there's the pueblo. i always wondered how to build a town in a cliff. guess who's here? khmer. where? here! and pagan is there. vietnam unconquered itself, korea just became itself, and japan is so addicted to art that the military might have to take over the government. china just invented bombs, and typing. and the mongols just invaded most of the universe. nice going, genghis! i bet that will last a long time. some of the islamic turks were unaffected by the mongol invasions because they were busy invading india. is it tonga time? i think it's tonga time. i just figured out where the swahili gets all of their gold. look at this chad! it means "lake." there's an empire there! right in the middle of africa! the king of mali is so rich, he's going on tour to let everyone know. "wow, that guy's rich," everyone said. the christians are doing a great job reconquering iberia, which will soon be called spain and not-spain. please remain christian. we will check in later to see if you're still christian when you least expect. whoops, half of europe just died. ming! china's back, yay! hey, khmer. time to share. new kingdoms, here and there. oh, look who controls all of the islands. it's the mahajapit. majahapit. mapajahit. mahapajit. mapajahit. ma-ja-pa-hit? oh, italy's real rich. time for them to care a lot about art and the ancient classics. it's kinda like a rebirth. here's a printer. let's make books! so you think you can conquer the byzantine empire? yep, said the ottoman turks. nice job, ottoman turks. oops, you missed a spot. don't forget to ban europe from the indian spice trade. "what? that's bullshit," said portugal, spiceless. "well i guess we'll have to find another way to india" "wait!" said christopher columbus, probably smoking crack. "if the world is round, let's go this way to india." "nah, don't worry, we already got this," said portugal. so chris goes to spain. "hey spain, wanna hire me to find india by going around back of the world?" "no" "please?" "no" "please?" "wtf" "no" "please?" "...okay" so he sails into the ocean, and discovers... more ocean. and then discovers the indies, and japan! let's draw a line to decide who gets which half of the world. the aztec and the inca empires are off to a great start. i wonder if they know that europe just discovered their continent. the hapsburgs are marrying into so many royal families, they might have to start marrying each other. move over, lithuania, here comes moscow. ivan wants to make russia great again. move over, timurids, maybe go invade india or something. persia just made persia persian again. let's make it the other kind of islam. the one where we thought the first guy should've been the other guy. hey, christians! do you sin? now you can buy your way out of hell! "that's bullshit. this whole thing is bullshit. that's a scam. fuck the church. here's 95 reasons why," said martin luther, in his new book which might have accidentally started the protestant reformation. "you know what would be magnificent?" said suleiman wearing an onion hat. "what if the ottoman empire was... really big?" which it is now. "what if russia was big?" said ivan, trying not to be terrible. portugal had a dream that they controlled the entire indian ocean, including the spice trade. and then that dream was real. and spain realized that this is not india, but they pillaged it anyway. "damn," said england and france. "we gotta start pillaging some stuff." then the dutch revolt, and all the hipsters moved to amsterdam. "damn," said amsterdam. "we gotta start pillaging some stuff." question one: can you get to india from north america? no, but at least there's beaver. question two: steal the spice trade. that's not a question, but the dutch did it anyway. and sugar... guess where all of the sugar is made? in brazil! stolen! in the caribbean! and it's so goddamn profitable, you might forget to not do slavery. the next thing on russia's to-do list is to get bigger. britain and france are having a friendly discussion about who should control the entire world. more specifically, ohio. then it escalates into a seven-year discussion, giving prussia a chance to show austria who's boss. but what about britain and france, did they figure out who's boss? yes they did! it's britain. guess who's broke? also britain! so they start taxing the hell out of america. "fuck you!" says america, declaring their independence and fighting for it, and france helps them win. now france is broke, and britain will have to send their prisoners to a different continent. wait, if france is broke, why do the king and queen still wear such fancy dresses? "let's overthrow the palace and cut all their heads off!" said robespierre, cutting everybody's heads off until someone eventually got mad and cut his head off. you could make a rel— no, don't. haiti is starting to like the idea of a revolution, especially the slaves, who free themselves by killing their masters. "why didn't we think of this before?" wait, who's in charge of france now? "me," said napoleon, trying to take over europe. luckily, they banished him to an island. but he came back! luckily, they banished him to another island. there goes latin america, becoming independent in the latin american wars of independence. britain just figured out how to turn steam into power, so now they can make many different types of machines and factories with machines in them so they can make a lot of products real fast. then they invent some trains. and conquer india and maybe put some trains there. "hey, china!" said britain. "buy stuff from us!" "nah, dude, we already got everything," says china. so britain tried to get them addicted to opium, which worked, actually. but then china made it illegal and dumped it all into the sea. so britain threw a hissy fit and made them open up five cities and give them an island. britain and russia are playing a game where they try to stop the other person from conquering afghanistan. also, the sultan of oman lives in zanzibar now: "that's just where he lives." india just had a revolution, and they would like to govern themselves now. "nope," said britain, governing them even harder than before. incoming telegram: HI I JUST SENT YOU A MESSAGE THRU A WIRE technology is about to go crazy! the united states finally figured out whether slavery is good or bad. it's bad, they decided, and then they continued manifesting their destiny, which is to kill the rest of the natives and take their land and maybe kick out the mexicans too. "i know! let's rape africa!" said europe, scrambling to see who could rape it the fastest. they never got ethiopia... britain and france are still hungry. they never got thailand... the united states ran out of destiny to manifest, so they're looking for more: hawaii! cuba! wait, spain controls cuba. well, blame something on them and go to war! what should we blame on spain? u.s.s. maine sinks "let's blame the maine on spain." so they blame the maine on spain. now we're in business. to celebrate, they kick panama out of panama and make a canal, connecting the two oceans. britain just found oil in the middle east. it makes cars go... china is so tired of being bossed around that they delete their old government and make a new, stronger government, which is accidentally weaker and is controlled by a guy from the previous government. europe hasn't had a war since the last war, so they start world war one. look at those guns! it's gonna be a great war, so great we won't need a second one. after it's over, they blame germany. russia went on strike, and the workers overthrew the government. now, everyone's paycheck is the same. communism in the soviet union... the arabs revolt and britain helps. now the ottoman empire is gone, so we can give the jewish people a place to live. hopefully the arabs won't mind. "let's cut the cake!" said sykes and picot, carving up the remains of the not-so-ottoman-anymore-empire. except turkey! turkey makes a brand new turkey! and then the saudis conquer arabia. it just seemed like the right thing to do. phone rings hello? yes, it's the 1920's calling. let's get to a car and drive to a party and listen to jazz on the radio and go to the movies. the economy is great and it will probably be great forever. just kidding. germany's back, featuring hitler, the angry mustache model, and he's mad at the jews for existing. japan is finally conquering the east, and they're so excited, they rape nanking way too hard. they should probably just deny it. hitler's out of control, so the international community tackles him and tries to explain to him why killing all of the jews is a bad idea. but he kills himself because they could explain it to him. that's world war two! bonus round! pacific showdown united states vs. japan FIGHT!! united states drops two extinction balls on japan FINISH HIM! let's unite all the nations and have some world peace! seems legit. "hi, im gandhi, and if britain doesn't get the hell out of india, i'm going to starve myself in public." britain leaves "wow, that worked?" bonus! now there's pakistan. actually two pakistans, one of them can be bangladesh later. the jews and the arabs finally figured out which one of them should live in the holy land. "me!" they both said at the same time. let's divide up the lands so we're both happy. SIKE! they both get angrier! look out, china! there's a new china in china. what's on the menu? communism! no thanks, said the other china, escaping to an island. i wonder which one is the real china...? there's the korean war. korea versus korea! nobody wins, then its on pause forever. let's meet the sponsors. oh, it's the two global superpowers. they're having a friendly debate over which economic system is good and which one is an evil virus of satan. and they both have atom bombs. FIGHT!! wait, no, that would be the end of the world. let's just keep it cool and spy on each other instead. and make sure we have enough atom bombs. "i'll race you to space." united states plants a flag on the moon now let's make more countries fight themselves. europe is tired of pillaging other continents, and the continents they were pillaging are tired of being pillaged. so here's a new map with new countries. now you can't tell who they're being pillaged by. the united states finally decided whether racism is good or bad. they decided it's bad, and the world agrees. south africa might need another minute to think about it. let's check the world population! woah. okay. technology is better too, that might keep happening. the soviet union decides to relax a little, and accidentally falls apart. europe makes a union, so now they can all use the same money. except britain, because they don't feel like it. let's check the mail... surprise! it's on the computer! whoops, someone just attacked america. i bet they'll remember that. phone call! surprise! it's in your pocket! wanna learn everything? surprise! it's on the computer! now your phone's a computer, which is in your pocket! whoops, the economy just crashed. don't worry, the big banks won't fail, because they're not supposed to. surprise!... flying robots. with bombs. wanna print a brain? some people have no friends. some people have no food. the globe is warming, and the ocean is full of plastic! "let's save the planet!" said everybody, not knowing how. "let's invent a thing inventor," said the thing inventor inventor after being invented by a thing inventor. that's pretty cool. by the way, where the hell are we? thanks for watching history i hope i mentioned everything
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History of the entire world I guess

hi, you're on a rock floating in space. pretty cool, huh? some of it's water. fuck it. actually, most of it's water. i can't even get from here to there without buying a boat. it's sad. i'm sad. i miss you. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? a long time ago... actually, never. and also now. nothing is nowhere. when? never. makes sense, right? like i said, it didn't happen. nothing was never anywhere. that's why it's been everywhere. it's been so "everywhere," you don't need a "where." you don't even need a "when." that's how "every" it gets. forget this. i wanna be something. go somewhere. do something. i want things to change. i want to invent time and space. and i know it's possible because everything is here, and it probably already happened. i just don't know when to start. and that's exactly where it started. big bang— pause woah. i paused it. i think there's a universe now. what's it made of? quarks and stuff. ah, that's a thing! in a place! don't like it? try a new place, at a different Time™. try to stick together, because the world is gonna get bigger and emptier. but it's not empty yet! it's still very full, and about a kjghpillion degrees. about no seconds later great news! the quarks are now happily married in groups of three, called a "proton" and a "neutron." and there's something else flying around that wants to join in, but can't cause it's too HOT. ten minutes later great news! the protons and neutrons are now happily married to each other! some of them even doubled up. about 380,000 years later great news! the electrons have now joined in. congratulations! the world is now... a bunch of gas in space. but it's getting closer together... ten million years later and it's getting closer together... 500 million years later and it's getting closer togeth—star is born it's a star new shit just got made! some stars burn out and die. bigger stars burn out and die with passion! and make some brand new way crazier shit. space dust! which allows for newer and more interesting stars to be made, and then die and explode into even crazier space dust! so now, stars have cool stuff around them, like rocks, ice, and funny clouds, which can make some very interesting things. like this ball of flaming rocks, for example. meteor hits earth holy shit, we just got hit by another ball of flaming rocks. and it kind of... made a mess. which is now the moon weather update: it's raining rocks from outer space. weather update: those rocks might've had water inside of them and now there's hot steam in the sky. weather update: cooler temperatures today and the floor is no longer lava. weather update... it's raining. severe flooding alert, the entire world is now an ocean. volcano alert. that's land! there'slifeintheocean what? something's alive in the ocean oh, cool. like a plant, or an animal? no! a microscopic speck. it lives in the bottom of the ocean and eats chemical soup, which is being served hot and fresh, made from gnarly space ingredients left over from when it was raining rocks or whatever. microscopic speck asexually reproduces oh yeah, and it can do that. reproduces three more times it has secret instructions written inside itself telling it how to build another one of itself. so that's pretty nifty, i would say. tired of living at the bottom of the ocean? now you can eat sunlight! using a revolutionary technique, you can convert sunlight into food. taste the sun! side effect, now there's oxygen everywhere and the sky is blue. then the earth might've been a snowball for a while. maybe even a couple of times. it's a sponge... it's a plant... it's a worm, and some other types of weird strange water bugs and strange fish. it's the Cambrian explosion: "wow, that's animals and stuff" but we're still in the ocean. hey, can we go on land? NO why? the sun is a deadly laser oh okay. not anymore, there's a blanket now the animals can go on land. come on, animals, let's go on land! "nope, can't walk yet." "and there's no food yet, so i don't care." 100 million years later okay, will you learn to walk if there's plants up here? "maybe," said some bugs. and fish. fish gasps for air five million years later okay, so i can go on land, but i have to go back in the water to have babies! idea: learn to use an egg. "i was already doing that" use a stronger egg. put water in it. have a baby, on land, in an egg. water is in the egg. baby, in the egg, in the water, in the egg. works for me. bye bye ocean 50 million years later and now everything's huge. including bugs. wanna see a map of the land? sure. Permian extinction oh, fuck, now everything's dead. just kidding, here are the survivors. keep your eye on this one, because it's about to become 75 million years later the dinosaurs. here's another map of the land. yeah, it broke apart. don't worry about it, it does that all the time. here comes a meteor. meteor strikes and the dinosaurs are gone it's mammal time, here come the mammals. look at those breasts. now they're gonna dominate the world, but one of them just learned how to grab stuff. and walk. no, like, walk like that. and grab stuff at the same time. and bang rocks together to make pointed rocks. "ouch" and set things on fire. "yeouch" and make crazy sounds with their voice: "gneurshk" which can mean different things. that's a human person! and now they're everywhere. almost. ice age! what? you can walk over here? cool. not anymore well i guess we're stuck here now. let's review: there's people on the planet. and they're chasing their food. fuck it. time to plant some grass. look at this. i get to control the food now. now everyone will want to be my friend and live near me. let's all build houses, except mine is bigger because i own the food. this is great! i wonder if anyone else is doing this. tired of using rocks for everything? use metal. it's underground. better farming was just invented in a sweet dank valley right in between these two rivers, and the animals are helping. guess what happens next? more food. and more people, who came to buy the food. now you need people to help make the food and keep track of the sales. and now you need houses for people to live in and people to make the houses and now there's more people and they invent things which makes things better and more people come and there's more farming and more people to make more things for more people and now there's business, money, writing, laws, power, Society coming soon to a dank river valley near you. meanwhile, out in the middle of nowhere, the horse is probably being tamed. why is all my metal so lame and lumpy? tired of using lame, sad metal? introducing: bronze. made from special ingredient tin from the far lands of Tin Land. i dunno, my dealer won't tell me where he gets it. also, guess what? egypt meanwhile, out in the middle of nowhere, they figured out how to put wheels on a horse. now we're getting somewhere. also, china and did i mention indus river valley civilization society count: 5 ... norte chico the middle east is getting more complicated. maybe because it's in the middle of the east. knock knock, er, clop clop. it's the... people with the horses? and they made an empire. and then everyone else copied their horses. greeks! ah look, it must be the greeks! er, a beta version of the greeks. let's check in with the indus river valley civilization: they're gone. guess who's not gone? china. new arrivals from india... maybe it's those horse people i was talking about... or their cousins or something... and they wrote some hymns and mantras and stuff... you could make a religion out of this. there's the bronze age collapse. now the phoenicians can get down to business also, can we switch to a metal that's a little easier to find? thanks. look who came back to israel, it's the twelve tribes of israel. and they believe in God just one though, and he's got like a ten-step program. here's some huge heads. must be the olmecs. the phoenicians make some colonies. the greeks copy their idea and make some colonies. the phoenicians made a colony so big it makes colonies. here comes the assyrian empire. never mind, it's the babyloni— media—it's the Persian Empire: "wow, that's big" enlightenment ah, the buddha was just enlightened. who's the buddha? this guy, who sat under a tree for so long that he figured out how to ignore the fact that we're all dying. you could make a religion out of this. oops, china just broke. but while it was breaking, confucius was figuring out how to have good morals. enlightenment ah, the greeks just had the idea of thinking about stuff. and right over here, alexander just had the idea of conquering the entire persian empire. it's a great idea. he was... great. and now he's dead. hopefully, the rest of the gang will be able to share the empire evenly between them. knock knock, it's chandragupta. he says "get the hell out of here. will you get the hell out of here if i give you 500 elephants? okay, thanks, bye" time to conquer all of india er most of india but what about this part? that's the tamil kings. no one conquers the tamil kings. who are the tamil kings? merchants, probably. and they've got spices! who would like to buy the spices? "me!" said the arabians, swiftly buying it and selling it to the rest of the world. hey, china put itself back together again, with good morals as their main philosophy. actually, they have three main philosophies: confucianism: have good morals taoism: go with the flow legalism: fuck you, obey the law out here, the horse nomads run wild and free, and they would like to ransack your city. nomads ransack china let's check the greekification levels of the greekified kingdoms: greekification overload. bye, said the parthians. bye, said the jews. hi, said the parthians, taking over the entire place. heyyyyy, said the romans, eating the entire mediterranean for breakfast. "thanks for invading our homeland," said the jews, who were starting to get tired of people invading their homeland. "hi, everything's great," said some guy who seems to be getting very popular and is then arrested and killed for being too popular, which actually makes him more popular. you could make a religion out of this. want silk? now you can buy it from china. they just made a brand new road to the world. conquers vietnam or you can get there on water "sick! new trade routes!" said india, accidentally spreading their religion to the entire southeast. hmm, that's a good place for an epic trading kingdom. there goes buddhism, travelling up the silk road. i wonder if it'll reach china before it collapses again. remember the persian empire? yep, said the persians, making a new one. axum is getting so powerful, they would like to build a long stick. has anyone populated madagascar yet? let's do it together. china is whole again... ...then it broke again still can't cross the sahara desert? try camels. "hell yeah! now we've got business," said the ghana empire, selling lots of gold. and slaves. "hi, i'm a member of the roman empire, and i was wondering is loving jesus legal yet?" "no" "actually, okay sure," said constantine, moving the capital way over here to be closer to his main rival. don't worry about rome, it won't fall. it's the golden age of india there's the gupta empire, not chandragupta, just gupta. first name chandra. the first. guess who's in rome? barbarians. what's a barbarian? "non-romans," said the romans, being invaded by non-romans. r.i.p. roman empire. actually just half of it, the other half is just fine, but it's not in rome anymore, so let's give it a new name. the mayans have figured out the stars oh, and here's a huge city, population: everyone. the göktürks have taken over the entire eurasian steppe. great job, göktürks. how's india? broken. how's china? back together. how's those trading kingdoms? bigger, and there's more of them. korea has three kingdoms. japan has a kingdom, it's the sunrise kingdom. intermission deep in the arabian desert, on the top of a mountain, the real god whispers in muhammad's ear. so, he goes down to the cube where everyone worships gods and he tells them their gods are all fake. and everyone got so mad at him that he had to leave town and go to a different town. you could make a religion out of this, and maybe conquer the world as well. the roman empire is long gone, but somehow the pope is still the pope. plus, there's new kingdoms all over europe. i wonder if there's room for moors. here's all the wisdom. in a house. it's the baghdad house of wisdom! just in time for the islamic golden age! "let's bring stuff to the coast and sell it, and become the swahili on the swahili coast," said the swahili on the swahili coast. remember this tiny space you have to go through to get from here to there? someone owns that now. wanna get enlightened in the middle of nowhere? the franks have the biggest kingdom in europe, and the pope is so proud that he invites the king over for christmas. "surprise! you're the new roman emporer!" said the pope, pretending to still be part of the roman empire. then the franks broke their kingdom into what will later be called france and not-france. the northerners, er, just "norse" if you don't have much time, are exploring. they go north, from the north to the northern north. and they find some land— two types of land!— and they name them accordingly. prankd they also invade some other places and get called many names, such as "vikings." there's the rus! the kievan rus! are they vikings? "i don't think so," said the kievan rus. okay, fair enough. the pope is ready to make some more emperors of the roman empire. the holy roman empire! it's actually germany, but don't worry about it. new kingdoms—CRISTIANIZE ALL THE KINGDOMS!! which brand would you like? "mine's better" "mine's better" "mine's better" "time to conquer england," said william. it's a bird! it's a plane! it's the seljuk turks! "aah!" said the byzantine empire, who's getting so small and almost doesn't exist anymore. "we need help!" they need help! so they call the pope. "hey pope, can you help us get rid of the seljuks? maybe take back the holy land on the way? come on, i know you want to take back the holy land." "yes, i do actually want to do that. let's do a crusade." crusade! they did many crusades. some of which almost didn't fail. but at least the italians got some sweet trade deals. goodbye mayans. hello toltecs! goodbye toltecs. hello mississippi! look at those mounds. there's the pueblo. i always wondered how to build a town in a cliff. guess who's here? khmer. where? here! and pagan is there. vietnam unconquered itself, korea just became itself, and japan is so addicted to art that the military might have to take over the government. china just invented bombs, and typing. and the mongols just invaded most of the universe. nice going, genghis! i bet that will last a long time. some of the islamic turks were unaffected by the mongol invasions because they were busy invading india. is it tonga time? i think it's tonga time. i just figured out where the swahili gets all of their gold. look at this chad! it means "lake." there's an empire there! right in the middle of africa! the king of mali is so rich, he's going on tour to let everyone know. "wow, that guy's rich," everyone said. the christians are doing a great job reconquering iberia, which will soon be called spain and not-spain. please remain christian. we will check in later to see if you're still christian when you least expect. whoops, half of europe just died. ming! china's back, yay! hey, khmer. time to share. new kingdoms, here and there. oh, look who controls all of the islands. it's the mahajapit. majahapit. mapajahit. mahapajit. mapajahit. ma-ja-pa-hit? oh, italy's real rich. time for them to care a lot about art and the ancient classics. it's kinda like a rebirth. here's a printer. let's make books! so you think you can conquer the byzantine empire? yep, said the ottoman turks. nice job, ottoman turks. oops, you missed a spot. don't forget to ban europe from the indian spice trade. "what? that's bullshit," said portugal, spiceless. "well i guess we'll have to find another way to india" "wait!" said christopher columbus, probably smoking crack. "if the world is round, let's go this way to india." "nah, don't worry, we already got this," said portugal. so chris goes to spain. "hey spain, wanna hire me to find india by going around back of the world?" "no" "please?" "no" "please?" "wtf" "no" "please?" "...okay" so he sails into the ocean, and discovers... more ocean. and then discovers the indies, and japan! let's draw a line to decide who gets which half of the world. the aztec and the inca empires are off to a great start. i wonder if they know that europe just discovered their continent. the hapsburgs are marrying into so many royal families, they might have to start marrying each other. move over, lithuania, here comes moscow. ivan wants to make russia great again. move over, timurids, maybe go invade india or something. persia just made persia persian again. let's make it the other kind of islam. the one where we thought the first guy should've been the other guy. hey, christians! do you sin? now you can buy your way out of hell! "that's bullshit. this whole thing is bullshit. that's a scam. fuck the church. here's 95 reasons why," said martin luther, in his new book which might have accidentally started the protestant reformation. "you know what would be magnificent?" said suleiman wearing an onion hat. "what if the ottoman empire was... really big?" which it is now. "what if russia was big?" said ivan, trying not to be terrible. portugal had a dream that they controlled the entire indian ocean, including the spice trade. and then that dream was real. and spain realized that this is not india, but they pillaged it anyway. "damn," said england and france. "we gotta start pillaging some stuff." then the dutch revolt, and all the hipsters moved to amsterdam. "damn," said amsterdam. "we gotta start pillaging some stuff." question one: can you get to india from north america? no, but at least there's beaver. question two: steal the spice trade. that's not a question, but the dutch did it anyway. and sugar... guess where all of the sugar is made? in brazil! stolen! in the caribbean! and it's so goddamn profitable, you might forget to not do slavery. the next thing on russia's to-do list is to get bigger. britain and france are having a friendly discussion about who should control the entire world. more specifically, ohio. then it escalates into a seven-year discussion, giving prussia a chance to show austria who's boss. but what about britain and france, did they figure out who's boss? yes they did! it's britain. guess who's broke? also britain! so they start taxing the hell out of america. "fuck you!" says america, declaring their independence and fighting for it, and france helps them win. now france is broke, and britain will have to send their prisoners to a different continent. wait, if france is broke, why do the king and queen still wear such fancy dresses? "let's overthrow the palace and cut all their heads off!" said robespierre, cutting everybody's heads off until someone eventually got mad and cut his head off. you could make a rel— no, don't. haiti is starting to like the idea of a revolution, especially the slaves, who free themselves by killing their masters. "why didn't we think of this before?" wait, who's in charge of france now? "me," said napoleon, trying to take over europe. luckily, they banished him to an island. but he came back! luckily, they banished him to another island. there goes latin america, becoming independent in the latin american wars of independence. britain just figured out how to turn steam into power, so now they can make many different types of machines and factories with machines in them so they can make a lot of products real fast. then they invent some trains. and conquer india and maybe put some trains there. "hey, china!" said britain. "buy stuff from us!" "nah, dude, we already got everything," says china. so britain tried to get them addicted to opium, which worked, actually. but then china made it illegal and dumped it all into the sea. so britain threw a hissy fit and made them open up five cities and give them an island. britain and russia are playing a game where they try to stop the other person from conquering afghanistan. also, the sultan of oman lives in zanzibar now: "that's just where he lives." india just had a revolution, and they would like to govern themselves now. "nope," said britain, governing them even harder than before. incoming telegram: HI I JUST SENT YOU A MESSAGE THRU A WIRE technology is about to go crazy! the united states finally figured out whether slavery is good or bad. it's bad, they decided, and then they continued manifesting their destiny, which is to kill the rest of the natives and take their land and maybe kick out the mexicans too. "i know! let's rape africa!" said europe, scrambling to see who could rape it the fastest. they never got ethiopia... britain and france are still hungry. they never got thailand... the united states ran out of destiny to manifest, so they're looking for more: hawaii! cuba! wait, spain controls cuba. well, blame something on them and go to war! what should we blame on spain? u.s.s. maine sinks "let's blame the maine on spain." so they blame the maine on spain. now we're in business. to celebrate, they kick panama out of panama and make a canal, connecting the two oceans. britain just found oil in the middle east. it makes cars go... china is so tired of being bossed around that they delete their old government and make a new, stronger government, which is accidentally weaker and is controlled by a guy from the previous government. europe hasn't had a war since the last war, so they start world war one. look at those guns! it's gonna be a great war, so great we won't need a second one. after it's over, they blame germany. russia went on strike, and the workers overthrew the government. now, everyone's paycheck is the same. communism in the soviet union... the arabs revolt and britain helps. now the ottoman empire is gone, so we can give the jewish people a place to live. hopefully the arabs won't mind. "let's cut the cake!" said sykes and picot, carving up the remains of the not-so-ottoman-anymore-empire. except turkey! turkey makes a brand new turkey! and then the saudis conquer arabia. it just seemed like the right thing to do. phone rings hello? yes, it's the 1920's calling. let's get to a car and drive to a party and listen to jazz on the radio and go to the movies. the economy is great and it will probably be great forever. just kidding. germany's back, featuring hitler, the angry mustache model, and he's mad at the jews for existing. japan is finally conquering the east, and they're so excited, they rape nanking way too hard. they should probably just deny it. hitler's out of control, so the international community tackles him and tries to explain to him why killing all of the jews is a bad idea. but he kills himself because they could explain it to him. that's world war two! bonus round! pacific showdown united states vs. japan FIGHT!! united states drops two extinction balls on japan FINISH HIM! let's unite all the nations and have some world peace! seems legit. "hi, im gandhi, and if britain doesn't get the hell out of india, i'm going to starve myself in public." britain leaves "wow, that worked?" bonus! now there's pakistan. actually two pakistans, one of them can be bangladesh later. the jews and the arabs finally figured out which one of them should live in the holy land. "me!" they both said at the same time. let's divide up the lands so we're both happy. SIKE! they both get angrier! look out, china! there's a new china in china. what's on the menu? communism! no thanks, said the other china, escaping to an island. i wonder which one is the real china...? there's the korean war. korea versus korea! nobody wins, then its on pause forever. let's meet the sponsors. oh, it's the two global superpowers. they're having a friendly debate over which economic system is good and which one is an evil virus of satan. and they both have atom bombs. FIGHT!! wait, no, that would be the end of the world. let's just keep it cool and spy on each other instead. and make sure we have enough atom bombs. "i'll race you to space." united states plants a flag on the moon now let's make more countries fight themselves. europe is tired of pillaging other continents, and the continents they were pillaging are tired of being pillaged. so here's a new map with new countries. now you can't tell who they're being pillaged by. the united states finally decided whether racism is good or bad. they decided it's bad, and the world agrees. south africa might need another minute to think about it. let's check the world population! woah. okay. technology is better too, that might keep happening. the soviet union decides to relax a little, and accidentally falls apart. europe makes a union, so now they can all use the same money. except britain, because they don't feel like it. let's check the mail... surprise! it's on the computer! whoops, someone just attacked america. i bet they'll remember that. phone call! surprise! it's in your pocket! wanna learn everything? surprise! it's on the computer! now your phone's a computer, which is in your pocket! whoops, the economy just crashed. don't worry, the big banks won't fail, because they're not supposed to. surprise!... flying robots. with bombs. wanna print a brain? some people have no friends. some people have no food. the globe is warming, and the ocean is full of plastic! "let's save the planet!" said everybody, not knowing how. "let's invent a thing inventor," said the thing inventor inventor after being invented by a thing inventor. that's pretty cool. by the way, where the hell are we? thanks for watching history i hope i mentioned everything
submitted by TruLiterature to DecreasinglyVerbose [link] [comments]

S&P 1700 within 6 Months


This is a new post after some interest in a comment why I believed the S&P is going to 1700.
Update 3: I am going to limit my answers in the comments guys; as the post becomes more popular it is becoming more diluted with snark etc. I don't expect anyone to follow my opinions; I just want to share one aspect of why I am making the trades I am. I maybe wrong. Random walk and all that..
Original Disclaimer: This is based on historical precedence and we are in unprecedented times but, with history as our guide a strong argument can be made for the S&P to decline to a level that is currently inconceivable. I have disclosed all my positions near the bottom.
Update 1: Slightly long; happy to be challenged in the comments, it is late in the UK (2am) so may tidy it up and add more references and charts tomorrow. Update 2: Have expanded the post to answer as many comments and requests for references wherever possible and tagged in the requestors.

Intro: Are we in a recession?

If you believe so, or that we are heading into a recession then there are four things needed to support a genuine rally out of a recession

We are missing 2 out of those 4 criteria; the overwhelming monetary and fiscal policy (world-records) are compensating for lack of positive indicators and volatile and bullish pricing.

What do you mean by pricing?

It can be argued that the current price of stocks is not discounting for the acute and likely chronic harm to consumer sentiment and spending power. For example; the UK clothing retailer Next Group closed their bricks and mortar stores (share price increased 4%) then they cancelled all online shopping (share price increased 3%) and finally they cancelled all orders with their supply chain (shares leapt 12.8% during the rally.) There is the massive amount of second, third and fourth order effects that this one company does to the UK economy (and Turkish factories). Suppliers, shipping, design, marketing etc all cancelled and the staff furloughed.
This is one example but the indexes are currently full of similar examples and some analysts are ringing the alarm bells.

Lazard Asset Management are concerned that the pandemic “will persist longer than many investors suspect and that the economic damage will be deeper and potentially longer-lasting”.
Reddit is quick to mention that stonks only go up but there is some truth to that sentiment at present since any negative factors are dismissed as being priced in and all positive factors are heralded as a cause for stocks to rally. If priced in was accurate then we would not see record-beating market rallies back to back. 10% volatility swings over 48 hours is the very definition of not priced in.
There is evidence to suggest that, well, the bullish sentiment is wrong and mainly because it is retail investors being taken for a ride whilst funds re-balance and offload.
Retail traders "buying the dips" is normally a contrarian signal, meaning that it's time to sell. This section is for u/lntoIerant in response to a comment.

Edit to answer some comments about this portion thus far.

Do retail investors move the market?
Are retail investors buying in greater volumes?
Are retail investors dumb money?

What does this have to do with the S&P dividend and the EPS?


Major indexes are comprised of stocks that pay handsome dividends; normally 2% yield a year. The companies have reached their limit of growth (HSBC haven't discovered 5 million new customers and Shell are not finding new fossil fuels) so investors hold the stock for income-seeking reasons.
The FTSE 100 was priced in to generate £89 billion in dividends for 2019 and £90 billion+ in 2020. That has largely collapsed.
The only companies that pay dividends are those taking on debt to do so like Shell. And they have; a 10Bn credit line to maintain dividends. The Bank of Englandhad to slap 5 UK banks from issuing dividends at this time. That means that their primary valuations as income-generating stocks are questionable...
...especially since the dividends are not expected to return to the 2020 levels for another 10 years now. Edit to add: This portion is taken from the market report by BNY Mellon. You can see the chart here. The analyst is John Velis of BNY. Thanks to u/flash_aaaah_ahhhhh for prompting me.

“By 2021, the market expects dividends per share for the S&P 500 to be down to under $38 per share (a staggering 41 per cent drop from recent highs of approximately $63 per share) and then to start slowly rising again. Going out 10 years to 2030, the expectation is that dividends will just about recover to pre-Covid-19 levels.”

Main body: Onto the S&P

In 2021 the market expects the dividends per share for the S&P to be reduced to $38 per share. That is priced in and common knowledge.
That is a 41% drop from the recent highs of $63 a share and seems alarming for income seeking investors since we are not expected to recover to those prices for 8-10 years. Source.
But DataTrek have noted that we are still currently trading at 21X the trailing 10 year earnings of $122 a share.
Dividends per share normally don't fall as far as earnings per share. But they are inverted at present.
For the S&P to be trading at 2,650 level (or even higher) it means the market does not believe the pandemic or recession will have any long-term damage. That puts us squarely at odds with items 3 and 4 in our list of factors needed to exit a bear market.

Talk to me about 2008!

Thanks to u/mister_woody for asking for more data.

In other recessions, including 2008, the dividend price per share drops approximately 12-15% but the earnings per share drop by considerably more; as much as 85%.
That means that in 2008 financial crisis and subsequent bear market; the dividends per share dropped by a lower percentage amount than the total index value drop.
You can see that in this chart here.

Right now, we have the reverse. Dividend share drop in this market is 41% (which is chilling) and market drop was approximately only 30% and rallying heavily back to the mid-20's only. That makes no financial sense unless the assets were being propped up by buyers...

If the S&P follows the same playbook at 2008-9, then we would expect to see levels of around 1400 at the bottom but that seems extremely bearish expecting that this crisis is worse than 2008.
If previous indications hold true, then we would expect the S&P to drop by approximately 50-60%ish at the true bottom to reflect the 41% decrease in expected shares plus additional discounts and negative market sentiment.
In reality, we are probably likely to pull back to between 13X and 15X trailing average which puts the S&P between 1600 (low side) and 1800 (high side).

You are putting a lot of faith in a re-run of the 2008 crisis

I am. No doubt about it. After October 2008, stocks fell for another four months, piling up 40% of losses before the recently ended bull market began in March 2009.

New market indicators

Since I wrote this post, the DJIA was up over 4% and closed down on the day.
Thank you to theTwitter feed of Jim Bianco for this: Since 1925 (95 yrs!), up more than 4% and closing down on the day has happened only one other time ... Oct 14, 2008 (Tsy Sec Hank Paulson forced the banks to take TARP money). The S&P 500 was up 3.5% at the high and closed down on the day. Since April 1982 (daily H,L,C began) has happened three other times...Oct 3, 08, Oct 14, 08, and Oct 17, 08.
This mkt continues to trade like Oct 08. It was six months and another 25% down before the low.
Bezinga are also playing up the 2008 similarities.

Why is bullish sentiment so wrong?

The negative reports are so wildly negative that the almost defy belief. We are dealing with insane numbers way beyond our traditional frame of reasoning. This is topped only by the insanity of the scale of quantitative easing. Less than a year ago, a small movement in the non-farm payrolls would lead to a 2-3% move in the markets; now we are hitting 700K jobs lost, a truly ugly number and the market rallies hugely. Future economic students will study this to try and understand what was happening.
In the space of weeks the majority of the Western economies have swung to being effectively state-sponsored, centralised economies and no one really knows how to unwind these positions.
It is impossible to reconcile being a bull with a centralised state economy and blue-chip stocks that refuse to pay dividends but the share price remains at the same levels as when they paid a 2% yield.
The UK forecast is for the deepest contraction since 1900. Business surveys have shown activity crashing faster in March than during the financial crisis. The Office for National Statistics has published experimental research on the impact of Covid-19 on the economy.

With entire swaths of the economy having shut down “traditional forecasting methods become irrelevant”, warned Chiara Zangarelli, economist at investment bank Nomura.
Michelle Girard, economist at NatWest, said that while there was huge uncertainty about the precise magnitude of the contraction in gross domestic product in the second quarter, “there is little doubt that it will be off the scale”
That is not a bullish sentiment. It means markets are acting irrationally since fundamentals are being dismissed as priced-in. In reality; nothing is priced in.

Disclosure


Spreads
Equities
Currency

Edit to add: So, your entire thesis is totally destroyed if companies keep paying dividends?

Yes.
In a nutshell.
But something else will be destroyed; the western taxpayer and future growth.

CEO said 'every pound we receive [in rates relief] will be invested in ensuring Tesco is able to support British shoppers...' That is tax payers paying a subsidy to a free-market company for the ability to shop...and also...
Mr Lewis said that the needs of savers and pension funds also needed to be considered in the debate around dividends. “We’ve thought long and hard about our responsibilities here . . . we are in a strong position to pay out for the benefit of those people

Edit to add: What about the FED and stimulus


u/tauriel81 and u/aliveintucson325 and u/100PERCENTYOLO_VEQT
OK - to truly test my own assumptions; here is my argument AGAINST my position.
The Fed have not quite printed money as Reddit loves to meme. They have issued liquidity and central banks worldwide have allowed banks to relax their requirement to hold reserves of cash. That injects money into the business world by allowing lending and borrowing to continue. It also reduces theoretical risk since the models are back within tolerance.
When the time comes they will remove the credits gradually without causing hyperinflation. They do this by paying banks not to lend back into the system by holding a % of their assets at the Federal Reserve. So they pay the banks but the banks keep the deposit at the Fed and don't pass on the liquidity to potential borrowers..gradually and sustainably.
https://www.aier.org/article/powells-new-monetary-regime/
That means the borrower of the future (home purchasers, entreprenuers etc) will have very few credit facilities available so RIP to the long-term economic growth.
We also have unprecedented government support for citizens. The largest social security welfare plan since WW2, especially in Europe.
If you believe that the Western economies can weather this storm using the bridging devices by central banks then it pays to dollar cost average into the market and keep buying the dips as a retail investor.
Lots of buoyant news from European nations and China about the slowing pandemic is overwhelming the negative leading and lagging economic indicators about economic data.
If you believe the economy can return to normal within 36 months, then it pay to be bullish and invest.
If you are day-trading, swing-trading or short-term options trading then the overwhelming market moves are likely to crush people as the system flexes under lots of volatility. You are also likely prioritising the negative news and technical analysis in your filter bubble and de-prioritising the positive news particularly when that news is fiscal or monetary policy since those things are dry, boring and incomprehensible half the time.
So you miss Fed backstops critical bankingi and instead hear UK Prime Minister in intensive care.
If you want to know what is going on...

Decide where you making a prediction. Plan your trade, trade your plan.
How do the FED take money back out of the economy?
They FED purchase the security initially to then sell it back to the asset-holder later. So the balance of credit-deficit merely swaps but by paying a small premium on the excesses that they hold, they can cushion the inflation or deflation of the currency.
So, they effectively give the bank liquidity and then remove that liquidity later by passing the asset back...but also provide a small premium to cushion the blow; 50% of the premium is then held on Federal Reserve books so that the market is not flooded with new money.
The FED previously reduced their balance sheet from $4.4 trillion to $3.7 trillion but it remains to be seen if they can unwind a position of this size.

TL:DR



submitted by DongusMcLongus to StockMarket [link] [comments]

Living Fossils {6}

Hello again everyone! Here we have the next installment of my small series, and I continue to appreciate everyone's patience as I find the time to write this on the side. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Continued from Part 5.
UST 2561
Commander Ishowna Richards cast her green eyes across the bridge and crew inside her ship, the EAS Ingenuity. She considered her bridge crew to be some of the best in the fleet, especially given their experience tracking down the few pirates and smugglers that were already cropping up with the recent advent of sustainable spaceflight. Her corvette was one of the fastest out there, and so ably suited to the task.
She did her best to hide her anxious tick of tapping her fingers against the faux-wood arm of her chair at the lack of usual action she craved. Admiral Davison had tasked her ship with picket duty near the Sonora Space Disc being used for diplomacy with the Scaanids, just in case some crackpot had a bright idea to crash the party. Hers and two other corvettes maintained an outer screen to keep an eye out, but after the first few weeks of screwballs wanting a closer look at the alien ship, it had gotten incredibly boring.
Her reverie was interrupted by Ensign Weatherby, who broke the silence of the bridge alongside some insistent beeping from his display. "Captain? The Scaanid ship is departing the Disc! Are the negotiations done then, ma'am?"
Richards sat up in her chair, confused as well. "No, ensign, they were expected to go another week yet, at least. Lieutenant Karim, try to get ahold of Admiral Daviso-"
Her train of thought was cut off as the entire bridge lit up with first a bright blue, then a fiery yellow light as the station in front of them suddenly exploded from a direct shot by the Scaanid ship. Red wreckage and debris markers began to fill Weatherby's display, moving at high speed in all directions.
Commander Richards, like the rest of the bridge crew, was momentarily shocked, but quickly regained her senses. "Battle stations! All medical and repair teams on standby! Close all bulkhead doors! Ahead full! Prepare countermeasures and charge the outer hull. Helmsman, steer clear of any wreckage!"
Karim's voice sounded from the comms position to her right. "Captain, Admiral Davison is ordering all ships to break formation and regroup near position Theta. He-" Another blue stream flashed from the Scaanid ship, aiming straight at their large flagship, the EAS Adventurer. It's maneuvering thrusters were pushed to the limit attempting to duck below the shot, but the ship still had a large chunk of the port side disappear into a charred furrow, the exposed decks venting air and bodies into the cold of space.
Weatherby's hoarse voice interrupted next, almost screaming out, "Two bogeys port and forward, closing fast! Impact in a minute and twenty!"
Commander Richards could only think of her earlier wish for action. This hadn't been what she had in mind. "Send chaff fore and aft. On my mark, hard to starboard… mark!"
Brightly speckled metal shreds burst from tubes to the front and rear of the ship as it quickly began to turn in place, the engines glowing bright white in the darkness. While the bridge viewing window showed their change in direction, she changed it with a click of a button to focus on the incoming targets, the camera zooming in on two electrically-crackling cyan spheres that emitted a small trail of ionic energy as they spun in a macabre dance towards her ship. They were barely a kilometer away when the spheres connected with the chaff, silently exploding with an intense brightness, while a moment later the ship rattled fiercely from the resultant shockwave.
Richards growled through her gritted teeth as her console continued to vibrate. "Damage report!"
Ensign Georgieu at the damage control station reported, "Minor, captain. Some buckling of the outer hull, but thankfully no breaches."
Weatherby again spoke up from sensors, "We still have contact with the Adventurer, but the Olympic and Rama have both gone offline."
"No response to hails from either ship, ma'am." Lieutenant Karim said.
"Get the mag-cannons online," Commander Richards barked, "I want those barrels hot and sending some bad news at that ship."
"Admiral Davison is on the horn, captain."
"Patch him through."
The frazzled but stern-eyed Admiral Davison came up in a window on her console screen. She could see that the bridge behind him was a mess of sparks and deck hands attempting to clear away debris. He spoke hurriedly, "Commander, good job avoiding those missiles. I'm sending all corvettes to attack their ship while the larger ships fall back to our fallback line at Io. They look to be on a direct course for Earth. We have to do everything in our power to stop them, understand?"
Richards nodded, “Of course, sir.”
Davison saluted, and then the screen went blank. Richards looked back up at the expectant eyes of everyone on the bridge, and she was thankful to see that none of them looked hesitant or unsure. She cleared her throat before announcing, “Alright everyone. You heard the Admiral. You know what is expected of us. To your posts. Let’s show them what us little guys can do.”
The Ingenuity’s AIP thrusters responded without hesitation to the commands of the helmsman as various mag-cannon turrets tracked the Scaanid ship with ease despite the evasive maneuvers the ship was going through. Richards felt the slight rumble as several shots began coursing through the darkness of space towards their erstwhile ally, and could only imagine that if viewed from above, the five corvettes would look like a pack of dancing jackals slowly closing in on their prey. But this one would not go down quietly.
And she didn’t want it to.
Already she could see that the large ship was angling towards one of her sister corvettes, the Azov. A bright flash of pearl blue rippled out from a port on the alien ship towards it, but the Azov was able to coast above the shot by a wide margin, its own turrets answering back with yellow traces of melted slag glowing in the wake of the return fire.
After a few moments, the first of the human rounds began connecting, but to her dismay the titanium rounds vaporized before contacting the Scaanids. She looked to Weatherby as he looked over countless readings going through his consoles. “Any damage to them?”
He shook his head. “Negative, ma’am. There aren’t even debris markers for the rounds themselves.”
“Alright. Lieutenant Karim, ask the other corvettes to begin syncing their shots with ours, lets see if we can punch through by overloading their system.”
She heard his murmuring into the comms channels from behind her left as she continued to watch the ensuing lethal dance between the human ships and the bulbous Scaanid cruiser. Over the next hour the different ships dueled each other through the debris field of the space disc, with large sections of the wreckage adding more danger to any unwary ship. Yet despite their concerted efforts, the corvettes could do little to punch through the Scaanid defenses.
The EAS Azov was not so lucky the second time as it attempted to dodge another crackling blue torpedo, which exploded among the cloud of electrified chaff sent out by the corvette, which was not able to get far enough away from the resulting concussion. Richards could do little but watch with impotent fury as the ship was buffeted and sent spinning away from the battle, the port side crumpled like the hull was little better than aluminum foil.
A video request came up on her console coming from her science officer, Chief Warrant Officer Mbabazi. She slapped the button to accept the request, saying, “I hope this isn’t another social call, Chief.”
Mbabazi had a harried look about her, but she shook her head and smiled wanly at the jest. “Not at all, Commander. I’ve been monitoring the Scaanid ship, and I notice the energy readings waver before and after they fire. I think they are using a plasma field projected around the ship. If our current understandings are correct, they can’t fire through their own shields. it needs to be lowered and then raised, which would explain the readings.”
Richards was already nodding along as she spoke, “During which we can hit them! Good job Chief. Lieutenant Karim, tell the other ships to spread their shots, timing arrival for just before they fire. Chief, I’ll send those instructions to our gunners too. I hope you’re correct.”
The Scaanid cruiser continued on a direct course toward Earth, while the former escort fleet had become a swarm of locusts, trying to find the chink in the almost inpenetrable armor of their ship. It had reached the Io defense line of larger ships when the EAS Venture managed to score a hit against one of the engine wells, as the Scaanids had dropped the fields when attempting to fire at the Adventurer again. Weatherby reported from his station, “Commander, I’m reading an eight percent drop in the enemy velocity and debris, we hit them!”
Richards nodded, the sweat on her brow sticking to her curly bangs. “Good. Lieutenant, forward our staggered firing patterns to the Admiral, and let’s do our best to vary those patterns - keep these bugs guessing.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
The macabre dance changed, as the larger ships did their best to avoid the dangerous front cannon of the cruiser, instead keeping to its port and starboard and far enough out that they could have some time to avoid any of the torpedoes they might send. The smaller, more maneuverable ships were comparatively able to dart around the ship from a shorter range, and did their best to punish any further attempts by the Scaanids to lower their plasma fields. They in turn had become more conservative in their firing, and managed to take out another corvette and a cruiser, but took heavy hits for their attempts. Eventually, it slowed to a crawl before holding in place, with multiple fires and venting decks evident. Richards received another video call request from Warrant Officer Mbabazi, which she promptly answered. “Commander,” Mbabazi said, “I am reading fluctuations in the field integrity, I think we might have hit something important! They might fall any moment.”
“Excellent, let me know if you find anything else. Weatherby, can our sensors get through the field? Do you read any lifesigns?”
Through his glasses she could see him squinting in concentration at the various screens and reports. “The bugs are drifting, Commander. Even base energy levels seem nonexistent.”
Karim spoke up from his station, “Commander, the Scaanids are sending a mass hail to all ships.”
Richards nodded, and in English a computerized voice began to echo across the bridge. “You have been deemed a threat to the Scaanid Empire. Your doom is assured. Your victory is fleeting and unimportant in the Grand Equation.” Even as the voice spoke, Weatherby’s sensors began flashing at various points on his screen. “Commander! They just sent out a massive torpedo barrage, and I’m reading a huge energy buildup!”
From his position Karim shouted above the cacophony of the bridge, “Orders from the Admiral, get as far away from the ship as possible, they are self-destructing!”
Richards roared in turn, “Evasive maneuvers, get us the hell out of here!”
All the ships scattered, but several were hit by the torpedoes as they attempted to escape. The Ingenuity had barely gotten two-hundred kilometers away, having successfully dodged their own set of torpedoes, when a massive explosion engulfed the Scaanid ship. The resulting shockwave sent the Ingenuity careening head over heels, while the entire rear of the ship collapsed into the center, crushing some fifty members of the crew in an instant. All the bridge crew were strapped into their seats, leaving them winded and bruised. She choked out, “Georgieu, damage report.”
He coughed, and tried to get his screen to respond. “I’m sorry commander, the central computer seems to be down.”
Richards took a moment to look about her bridge crew, and saw many frightened faces. She bet that she wasn't very cheery looking either. “Alright... Karim, send out personal pages to the crew, have them report that way as to their situation and to send us damage reports of their areas. Forward any medical issues to Doctor Milieu and his team.”
After several minutes, the lieutenant solemnly reported, “Less than half the crew have responded captain, most of the other half were stationed in the stern. Crew close to bulkhead thirteen are reporting severe fracturing and no ability to go further aft. We also have several reports of leaks across every deck.”
Commander Richards hung her head and sighed. But she collected herself quickly and looked back up. “It's likely that the reactor is breached, then. I’m ordering everyone to abandon ship. All crew to their closest lifepod. I’d prefer at least one member of medical staff on each pod, Karim, please attend to that on your way to your own pod.”
Without a word the crew clicked out of their seats and made their way out of the bridge. Richards clicked out of her own command chair and looked about one last time at the remains of her command of the last five years, and dashed away the tears that threatened to fall. Dammit, she still had living crew to attend to before she could mourn the others.
From outside, the crumpled ship continued to spin a slow spiral through the chilling blackness, and in minutes small lifepods ejected from the ship from what points were undamaged. Once deployed, each pod had thrusters which ignited and propelled them away from the damaged ship, heading toward Earth and the possibility of safety. The distant light of the sun was outdone only briefly by several scattered explosions of other ships succumbing to their wounds. On the Ingenuity, one solitary soul was left aboard, cradling the bloody head of her dear friend, Mbabazi. Richards closed Mbabazi’s lifeless eyes as tears created tracks down her own smoke-blackened face.
In moments, one more explosion winked in and out in the midst of the twinkling stars.
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Alliance Chapter 2

Hello again! I wrote this while procrastinating for my classes, and I tried to expand to a few things I hadn't written about before. Please let me know what you think of it!
First

“Well, it’s definitely not an inconsistency in the fuel,” I announced, wriggling my way backward out of the accessway, trying to blink the sweat out of my eyes. Clarke, my chief engineer, received this conclusion with a flexed jaw. Reactor 2’s slight output fluctuations had gotten more pronounced, so I’d come down to help brainstorm. Thus far, we had ruled out faulty fusion containment, coolant flow problems, and now inconsistency/contamination within the fuel itself. While it was frustrating not to be able to pin down the problem, I was grateful for this last negative—modern Navy reactors only needed to be refueled about every hundred years. The operation was correspondingly long and difficult, involving supervision by two federal regulatory agencies and the Russians.
Clarke tapped her pen irritably against the pad of engineering paper she’s taking notes on. She wasn’t happy with any anomaly in her engine room, and the pressure of our imminent departure wasn’t helping matters. It was worrying me too—not only was my ship relatively an unknown, but my engineer was too. I’d picked up the impression that she was a perfectionist, and she was certainly competent, but I didn’t know how she’d react under stress, or how good she’d be at the inevitable jury-rigging that cropped up on patrol.
My last chief engineer was Commander John Abbas—killed in action. He’d loved troubleshooting, no matter how much he complained about it, and whatever the crisis he’d never lost his composure or his nasty sense of humor; he once configured the security scanners around Engineering to administer mild electric shocks to anyone who said “Carolina,” “Tar Heels,” or “Dean Smith” within five feet of the door. He would’ve thought tunneling was a great challenge.
Focus.
The speaker on the bulkhead crackled. “Captain to the bridge.”
Shit. You forgot, idiot.
We were embarking our half of the joint Human-Z’lask delegation to the Galactic Council today, they were due to arrive at 1000, and it was now—I checked my watch as I scrambled over Clarke and out of Engineering—1015. I guess I’d be fashionably late to greet our erstwhile enemies.
What if they take it as an insult?
Then hopefully they’d shoot me.
I made it from the reactor room all the way up to the currently-unoccupied chartroom off the bridge in record time, with the result that I was even sweatier and more rumpled than I was from being wedged next to an unhappy Reactor 2 for hours. On top of that, I was one of those people who always looked somehow disheveled, no matter how creased their clothes or shined their shoes. I’d never gotten used to the slightly taken-aback look people tended to get when they’re introduced to me—this is the captain? They seemed to be thinking. This idiot who looks like she just rolled out of bed?
I really wished I could look the part. It would make a lot of things a lot easier.
You’d still screw everything up.
I tried frantically to straighten myself out, and quit abruptly as Ramirez and two other marines walked in. “Alright,” I said, making sure I have their attention. “These aren’t the first Z’lask we’ve met, so no staring like you’ve never seen one before. They are the first diplomats we’ve encountered though, so they’ll probably act very differently from what we got used to. Let’s try to be calm and nice and friendly—they’re our allies now, weird as that is. Let’s just take this nice and easy, guys.”
“No sweat, Skipper,” Ramirez responded, as his two buddies nodded confidently. Despite this all three looked tense.
And you’re not?
The diplomats have been permitted onto the bridge, as a show of welcome, so I squared my shoulders like I was taught and went to greet them.
There were ten of them, five Z’lask and five humans. Most of them were staring around at the ship’s interior with varying degrees of curiosity, from the wide eyes of those who’d never been on a vessel so big before to more critical observations from people who clearly had military backgrounds—a human and a Z’lask were both eyeing the weapons status board, taking in the row of green lights indicating all railguns online.
The Z’lask don’t use projectile weapons; they considered them clumsy, even primitive, next to their more elegant energy shooters. The war had disabused them of those notions. I was willing to bet this was the first time this individual had seen our weapons from the operator’s end, and if I was him, I’d be curious.
“We got the stern chasers online this morning,” I said to the mismatched pair, breaking into their inspection. “We’ll be doing charging drills on them today, and then we’ll be all systems operational.” I tried to smile in a friendly, open fashion, and probably looked like I had tetanus.
The human smiled back. The Z’lask’s turquoise pupils brightened before he spoke.
“Do these drills include loading?” He asked, flicking his long, forked tongue to indicate slight embarrassment. “I know it must sound strange to you, but none of our weapons require that, and I would be interested to see how you manage the extra step.”
“Not while we’re in port,” I answered. “But once we’re in transit, we’ll run firing drills. You’re welcome to observe then if you’d like.”
“I would appreciate that,” the Z’lask said, his eyes dimming then brightening to reinforce his words. The human asked him a question about their weapons drills and I excused myself, moved through the rest of the group emitting greeting noises, and escaped to the front of the bridge.
I could feel myself relaxing as soon as I stepped into the familiar tableau: Davis leaning on one elbow over his charts, Xi listening to the comms chatter with one ear and our chatter with the other, Quartermaster First Class Jackie McClane sitting at the controls, a new minion whose name I couldn’t remember (gotta fix that) seated beside her. I paced to my spot. It was good to be back.
The clock on the bulkhead read 1045—time to start preparing for departure.
I always found myself thinking of old family car trips when preparing to leave port—both events were actually pretty similar. Everybody was rushing around frantically, there was a schedule but it seemed like everyone was doing their best to get massively behind it, tempers ran a little short, and then somehow miraculously we were actually ready to leave on time.
The diplomats were surprisingly little trouble—they stood out of the way where they’d been asked to and didn’t bother anyone, content instead to observe the organized chaos of getting the Yorktown back in the black.
Tradition dictated the playing of an ancient song with a title very similar to the cliché about returning to space as the moorings are retracted, and I secretly loved it. Today, it’s extra-special: for the first time since I was captured, I’ll be driving my own boat.
I’m let loose, from the noose, that’s kept me hanging around.
McClane received clearance for departure from Traffic Control, and gently pulled the Yorktown away from the dock.
She’s a big lunk of mass, so she answered her maneuvering thrusters sluggishly at first, leaning gradually away from the pier and wallowing reluctantly into the lane. As she built up some momentum, that old bitch physics started to come over to our side, and the ship moved quicker and more nimbly, a promise of agility showing through her lethargy. Yorktown passed out of New Norfolk gathering way and looking fantastic.
I was standing just between the navigator and weapons officers’ stations, a few feet ahead of the chair my first skipper—Capt. Tillery Carroll, he could read a reactor’s thoughts, had time to teach even moronic new young idiots every simple thing we should’ve known already, and set two speed records—told me that the captain never sat in unless he had to. It was a mark of how much his example impressed me that I still followed his old rule.
I shifted one leg back slightly, to brace for acceleration. We passed the FTL limit beacon, and requested permission to engage our Drazer drives. We received clearance and approached the jump point.
“Permission to go to hyperspace?” McClane intoned, trying hard to keep the excitement out of her voice. My heart was about to go faster than light all on its own. I rolled my eyes around the status boards one more time, felt the thrumming of the drives through my heels, and kept my voice steady as I gave the order.
“Jump to FTL.”
Yorktown shuddered, then leaned heavily into her acceleration—to a stationary observer, she’d appear to be elongating impossibly. She bucked once like she was meeting a wave and then was perfectly still. The view forward changed from the blackness of vacuum, studded with the infinite brilliance of stars, to a whitish-blue tunnel, the only perceptible sign that the Yorktown was now galloping through the stars faster than the speed of light.
I shot a glance at Lieutenant Nguyen, the engineering officer monitoring the reactors and their Drazer drives from the bridge. “All systems nominal, Captain,” he announced, a little nervously. He was new, and evidently a bit scared of me, god knows why.
“Thank you,” I said, turning to look at Davis.
“On course, Skipper, good jump. Estimate arrival at Rendezvous Whiskey in ten hours, fifteen minutes.” He responded quietly, not looking up from his charts. Davis was not made nervous by anything.
McClane cracked her neck and settled in for the watch, her wide-eyed minion looking decidedly less relaxed. I myself could float up off the floor—I just had a textbook first jump with my gorgeous new ship. And even nary a sign of problems from Reactor 2.
Sure, she was a little active building up the bow wave, but that was to be expected—you wanted maneuverability, you had to give up a little stability. She’d probably hop like a scalded cat on exit, but then she’d cut straight through the bow wave and come right back down again without further ado. That was an improvement over her predecessors, which usually buffeted around a few times passing through the disturbance.
Thank you God for letting me be here.
The ship was almost unnaturally still, only the faint vibration of the engines running through her frame. She cruised easily, smoothly, more quietly and much faster than her forerunner Houston was designed to do. I decided happily that she was a worthy successor, and started toying with the idea of sending for some coffee.
Two hours later, the calm of the watch shattered as Xi put her hand to her earpiece. “Distress call, Skipper,” she reported, gaining everyone’s instant attention. “Species unknown, they say they’re under attack by four Drizagen pirate ships at-” she gave the coordinates and my mind started working as my heart started racing.
The Drizagen were a commerce-focused race, and when they couldn’t make it in legitimate business they went straight for the illegitimate. This was considered a disgrace, however, so their pirates were generally small and poorly armed—when they got ahead, they bought their way back into society.
Four of them vs. the Yorktown. Those were the kind of odds she was built for.
Of course, the line between stupidity and aggressiveness was a thin one, and I’d stomped all over it in my career. I knew too many people who thought they were in for something simple, lost their focus, and got killed when they’d survived much worse. I was not going to be one of those people.
“Davis, ETA to their position?” I barked, thinking rapidly.
“Fifteen minutes at maximum speed, Skipper,” he answered at once, tapping away on his navicomputer.
“Increase to flank. Change of course to-” as I rattled off the coordinates I caught sight of one of the Z’lask diplomats out of the tail of my eye, trying to get my attention. I ignored him as McClane repeated the order and the Yorktown leaned over abruptly as she changed course, spinning on her heel as though in disdain for the pirates she was going to meet.
What does he want?
I had more important things to think about.
“Let’s go to general quarters, bring shield generators online in preparation for drop to realspace, charge railguns and arm torpedoes.”
Lieutenants Malinowski and Peretti acknowledged and began barking instructions to their respective broadsides, the steady green squares on their status boards flashing to a malevolent red as each was armed.
“Captain….”
I spun around to glower at the Z’lask diplomat, who had brought himself to speak. “Yes?” I said, just managing to restrain myself from a growl. He stood up a little straighter—all eight-plus feet of him.
“That ship is not human or Z’lask. Its fate is not any of our affair.” His eyes were a steady brightness, no glinting malice or dimmed unconcern.
“What?” I snapped, confused. Space is hazardous to us all, even scrapping human factions acknowledged that. Some of them some of the time, at least.
“It is not our affair,” the Z’lask repeated, apparently firm in his belief. “We do them dishonor to interfere in their private matters.”
Oh for….
Every time I thought I was getting to understand these aliens, they went and did something like this, leaving me more mystified than ever before.
“I’m the captain of this ship,” I said. “And I, in accordance with international law, am rendering assistance to a vessel in distress. We are not dishonoring them by interfering in their private business, we are upholding the honor of a very old code of humanity: they call, we respond.”
The Z’lask’s vivid eyes flickered in confusion, but he shut up, as I knew the reference to rank would make him. I turned back to the task at hand. Four to one wasn’t nice odds, and the UN, in its paranoia that one of us will start another war, had forbidden all forces to open fire unless fired upon themselves—even if they were coming to the aid of another vessel. Because our lives weren’t hard enough as it was. We’d need to be responding the instant we came through the bow wave.
“Realspace drop in three, two, one…” Davis counted down, and the Yorktown lurched again as she decelerated, leaping as she hit her bow wave before driving her nose back down as she knifed though it.
“Shields up,” I barked as we came through the disturbance. I took in the scene in front of me and actually blinked in surprise. Four Drizagen pirate ships—about the size of USN frigates—were swarming around the oddest vessel I’d ever seen in my life.
It looked like a titanic, many-petaled flower in full bloom, sparkling as though coated in raindrops from all the point thrusters needed to move the colossal absurdity. It’s got to be the least efficient thing I’ve ever seen in my life, and I’m in the Navy.
Its strange design was working for it now, though, as the pirates couldn’t seem to figure out how to board it, and were scared to fire on something so fragile-looking, for fear of damaging the goods. It’d kept them alive long enough to summon help.
“Sensors?” I asked.
“Low-power energy weapons, Captain. Shouldn’t be able to get though our shields.” Came Lieutenant Levy’s emotionless reply.
The pirates had caught sight of us, and two of the four broke off and headed right for us. Our shields were at full capacity, and atmospheric integrity had been maintained since general quarters.
We were built to take some punishment.
“Full right thrust, let’s show them our broadside. Xi, any response from ‘em?”
Xi was working diligently at her station. “No response, Captain,” she replied.
Figures for pirates.
Yorktown rolled into the turn, wheeling to bring her broadside to bear on the two approaching, much smaller ships. It should be an intimidating sight. If we could get them to see that, it would save them what we were going to give them.
They didn’t scare. They drove straight at us, their first shots splashing against our shields, shaking the whole ship but not penetrating, as predicted. Malinowski announced torpedo locks on both of them.
Y’all had your chance.
I eyed up the distances, the closing rate, the trajectories of the flying ships. “Fire tube two at the lefthand hostile, fire five at the right.” It was still a surprise to hear my voice, cold and flat, when my heart was leaping as though trying to escape my chest.
“Fire two, fire five,” Malinowski repeated, and the Yorktown shuddered slightly as the torpedoes launched, becoming two fast-fading pinpoints of light as their motors ignited and they arrowed away toward their targets.
Both ships broke hard as their scanners picked up the incoming shots, but neither were maneuverable enough to shake the nimble, remorseless torpedoes. The faint dots arced into blurred tails as the weapons tracked, then disappeared as they superimposed their targets.
The leftmost pirate tried to run straight away, looping nearly vertically around in their haste to escape. This wild maneuver was spectacularly unhelpful, as it quickly put them on a course directly away from us, easy for the first torpedo to follow. It flew right up their exhaust port, and the vessel vanished in an expanding sphere of blindingly brilliant white light.
The rightmost one was a little smarter, it tried abruptly reversing course in a series of zigzags, like a deer chased by dogs. But even though they took advantage of the second’s delay between firings to try to flee their sister’s fate, it was too late. The torpedo still tracked, and caught them in the aft third of the ship—it broke up and incinerated as their atmosphere caught fire in the detonation.
Fission fishin’, ladies and gentlemen.
The remaining two, having hung back to continue harassing the flower-ship, started frantically flashing their running lights, and Xi winced and turned the volume down on her headset. Evidently they had decided to respond to our hails, and begun emphatically expressing their desire to surrender.
“Tell them to take their weapons offline, drop their shields, and come to a halt,” I said. I didn’t particularly like dealing with pirates. And they were delaying us—we’d lose at least another hour babysitting them until reinforcements could arrive to take them to be impounded. Xi repeated the instructions, and both the pirates complied, drifting to a halt surprisingly quickly as Levy reported their weapons powering down and their shields lowering.
“Skipper,” Xi began, still with her eyes screwed up against the noise the pirates were making. “These guys are pretty freaked out. They’re swearing up and down they didn’t know we were human when they attacked us or they never would have, they’re panicking we’re going to kill them anyway.”
“Tell them as long as they don’t try anything they won’t get hurt,” I snapped. “We’re not animals.”
Another damn species that thinks we’re savages.
You’d think it would be nice to have a reputation that clears the way. But instead it felt like the ringing of a leper’s bell.
Xi managed to calm the pirates down enough to hear herself think, and to open another channel to the flower-ship.
“Unidentified vessel, this is the human warship USS Yorktown, do you require assistance?”
Aside from the one we just rendered.
That wasn’t nice, brain….
“Put them on speaker,” I said. I’d like to hear for myself what these idiots thought they were doing out here.
Xi complied, and a voice crackled back. Even with the distortion of the comm it was high, thrumming, and somehow eerie. The hairs on the back of my neck rose as it spoke.
“Yes, please,” it gasped. “The pirates fired on us when they first appeared, two of our people were wounded and we don’t have enough supplies to treat them, can you help?”
The voice rose to express appeal, and as it did it somehow struck another sound from within itself, a musical note sounding behind and around and out through the spoken words. I’d never heard speech so utterly alien—my mind recalled legends of sirens. If sirens talked this is how they would sound.
I pulled myself back together. Xi actually shook her head like she had water in her ears. “We can send over a shuttle, to ferry your people back to our sickbay. Will that be satisfactory?”
The relief flooding through the being’s voice as it accepted was so powerful it cast a vibration of its own, making the speaker sound doubled. I was now thinking—to my consternation—seriously about sirens. No voice could be this compelling and be innocent.
Or could it? The galaxy was wide, and I was sure there were stranger things in heaven and earth than were dreamt of in my narrow philosophy. It was also not a very impressive measure of human progress that sailor’s stories about evil monsters were as present as they ever were.
Nothing is to be feared, it is only to be understood.
“If you don’t mind my asking, what species are you?” I asked, fighting my trepidation.
“We are Iialia,” the voice answered, another musical note emanating from the last word, sounding at once like the pluck of a harp and the strike of a chime—high, crystalline, like the chatter of falling water. “We have heard of you—we knew the humans always went armed, and today we are grateful for that.”
Aaaand another species that thinks we’re foaming at the mouth!
I’d never met an Iialia before, though I knew of them. Their entire species was dedicated to the creation of art—they believed science and the discovery of natural truth to possess artistic beauty, and so the species had reached the stars. And, apparently, sailed them in ships whose design was dictated by artistry, rather than practicality. They were utterly pacifistic—violence was ugly, and their species shunned ugliness.
So at least they’re not sirens?
Damn, we had a low bar.
A medical team—accompanied by marines—was dispatched to their ship, which identified itself as the Cosmic Blossom, because what else would it be called. I glared at the pirates, who have been sitting quietly without making a peep, to keep myself from pestering the team. They would give me information when they had it.
“Bridge, Sickbay, we’ve got the two patients through diagnostics, both are only minorly injured, we’re stabilizing them now. We should be able to patch them up by the time the escorts arrive.”
Oh thank God.
“Good to hear, thank you.”
“Three others accompanied them, they, ah, say they’d like to thank you.”
The fuck?
I sighed inwardly. Now my sunny self—plus the diplomats, I’m sharing my misery—would have to go down to sickbay and meet them, ensure that their first impression of humanity included more than just us beating up pirates for them.
I reviewed what I knew about the Iialia on the way down: they were asexual (I had no idea how they reproduced, except that division was somehow involved), and used the pronoun xa, which apparently translated as “creator.” I’d never even seen a picture of one before.
The Z’lask were annoying and weird as shit, but they at least were within our frame of reference. The Iialia were standing just outside of it, etching drawings on its edges.
I hate diplomacy.
We barged into sickbay. The two patients were behind curtains, being attended to by Dr. Ford, the ship’s surgeon. Looking on were three uninjured Iialia.
They were about human height, which was nice, and covered in fine, sheeny short fur, like cornsilk, ranging in color from pure white to iron gray. Their large eyes, liquid and nearly all black pupil, were set wide apart over small muzzles. They had two legs and two arms, like most species, with the head on top and a sweeping tail like a horse’s at the other end.
They wore short-sleeved garments, their fur evidently much better at keeping them warm than bare human skin, or Z’lask scales. The colors and styles of their fashion slid past my vocabulary—to try to describe them with human words would dirty them. I’d never be able to convey how it was that one seemed to be wearing light, another darkness, the third fire. All the humans stared to see them—their presence was as enthralling as their voices, though they were not what a human would consider attractive.
They’re sirens.
The Z’lask, however, didn’t seem to think so. They greeted the three Iialia formally and courteously, then stared off into space looking bored. One of them, the one who’d disagreed with me earlier, noticed the disparity in reactions about the same time I did, and began staring at us, leaf-green eyes shining with sharp points of concern.
Oh fantastic. Now they think we’re insane.
Who didn’t, at this point.
“Captain,” said the one wearing fire, xa’s fur flowing and smoky gray. “We wanted to thank you for fighting off the pirates—I don’t know what I would do if I lost the Blossom.” The gratitude glittering through the being’s voice sounded golden, like an exultant cello.
“Ah—we truly appreciate that,” I said awkwardly. “Humanity considers it an obligation to respond to distress calls, and we’re always very happy to be able to help.” I tried to smile and look humanitarian. I could feel the green-eyed Z’lask staring at me now.
“Well, permit me to say that we at least are very glad you feel this obligation,” xa said. “Even though we had to be saved by violence, which is such an ugliness.” Xa shook xa’s head mournfully. The musical note produced when xa said “violence” was startling—brassy, impure, and too loud. It was the first sound made by an Iialia that had been anything other than enchanting. The back of my neck prickled and I knew the green-eyed Z’lask had noticed our reaction.
I tried to cover by mumbling something about how we always hated to resort to force, but that unfortunately it was sometimes necessary. The human diplomats slid into the conversation, steered it toward safer topics, and had everyone nattering away.
The voices of the Iialia embroidered musically through the conversation, overlaying the clacking language of the Z’lask and the more guttural or sibilant sounds of English. It was a bit ironic—our speech sounded more “reptilian” than the giant lizards from outer space’s did.
“Excuse me,” the pure-white Iialia began timidly, breaking into my thoughts. “But if I might ask…what is your favorite color?”
“Huh?” I said stupidly. “Uh, blue, I guess. Blue.” I smiled to cover the fact that I’m an idiot.
“What shades?” Xa pressed, staring unblinkingly at me.
God these guys are weird.
“Well, all shades, I guess, except nothing too light. Not like, powder blue or anything.” I matched the Iilia’s stare. I had no idea what kind of evaluation this was.
“Thank you,” xa said quietly, with a sound like the wind rushing from beneath a bird’s wing. Xa sidled over to stand next to the smoky-gray one, who was gesturing widely as xa talked to an equally animated human diplomat while an impassive Z’lask looked on.
The Iialia murmured musically, and to be perfectly honest the lovely sounds were starting to get on my nerves. I realized suddenly that their initial, captivating effect seemed to be waning. The longer I looked at them, the more flaws I saw: their garments were too stiff, their fur antiseptically styled, even their bewitching voices were losing their charm.
What the fuck is going on?
I was chewing on this when the intercom informed us that the reinforcements had arrived to escort the pirates into custody. Dr. Ford pronounced his patients fit to leave, and the Iialia gathered themselves up, thanked us one more time, and departed.
I busied myself with packing off the pirates and getting back underway so I didn’t have to talk to the green-eyed Z’lask, but he caught me after the watch changed, as I was leaving the bridge.
“I noticed something today,” he began. “I wanted to talk to you about it.”
“If this is about answering distress calls…” I warned.
“No, another matter,” he said impatiently. “I wanted to speak to you about your reaction to the Iialia. I noticed you were quite taken with them at first, but by the time they left you appeared rather less enamored of them. Am I correct in these statements?”
“Yes…” I said, eyeing him like he was crazy—even for a Z’lask, he’s being very blunt. I’m not sure whether that was a good or bad sign; I only really had experience in talking like this with one Z’lask, and he was one of a kind. It had always been a good sign when he was blunt though: the time he chucked me in solitary he did it with such flowery phrasing I’d barked at him to come to the point already and gotten myself two extra days.
The self-satisfied lizard.
The green-eyed Z’lask looked…reassured? “They lost their charm to you for the same reason they never appealed to us—there can be no beauty without ugliness.”
“Huh?” I said, with my characteristic rapidity of thought.
Z’lask don’t really have lips, so I considered it a personal triumph of denseness that I provoked pursed lips from this one.
“If you had heard their music, I imagine you would initially have been stunned by the perfection of the sound, but as you listened its perfection would become cloying, then grating, then galling. Of the human songs which I have heard, the ones which I found most moving, which I wanted to hear again to learn and carry with me, incorporated imperfections. Anger, sadness, even just repetitive notes—all things the Iialia would think ugly.”
His viridescent eyes glowed.
“The Z’lask, to borrow the Iialia’s metric, find honor beautiful. The Iialia create art because they believe ugliness to be evil. They have no patience with any imperfection—they could never understand our proverb, ‘there is virtue in the struggle.’ They do not see honor, and so it is not present in their art. Therefore, while we appreciate their works as representations of admirable effort, we find them merely frivolous. You humans, though, your art can be a vehicle. And it is what your art conveys, not the beauty of its form, that captures us so. It seems to speak to us in the same language in which it does to you—it is a convincing demonstration of our compatibility.”
“That’s…good. Isn’t it?” I really was getting pretty tired of the endless whiplash of dealing with the Z’lask.
“I suppose so,” he said. “Though it must be balanced against your insistence on sticking your nose where it does not belong.”
“Not this again!” I snarled, exasperated. “Someone needed help. We could provide it. So we did. End of story. This is not complicated—space is dangerous enough as it is, when things go wrong for you and you have to call for help, you’d want someone, anyone, to come, right?” I barged ahead before he could respond with some nonsense about death before dishonor.
“You would, whether or not you admit it. And you had damn well better do what you expect of everyone else. I happen to believe quite strongly in the responsibility to respect privacy, Ambassador, but it comes second to preserving life. To apply your species’ metric, it is honorable to assist others in distress, because it is what we would want if our positions were reversed.”
“Mm.” The Z’lask clicked shortly. “I suppose it would make sense—your species’ development was so isolated, it is unsurprising you came to view the call for help as a higher one. And there is something appealing about your ideal that you must do for others what you wish them to do for you…it is honorable.” His eyes dimmed with thought, then flashed into brightness again as he realized something.
“It is the same as your Geneva Conventions!” He put his head to one side, an odd look on his face: half-admiring, half-pitying. “You humans insist on plunging into danger, hate the consequences, and then decide you will…legislate the problem away. You did not choose to only sail in groups, so that help would always be at hand, but rather decreed that everyone must answer distress calls—and made it a matter of honor. You did not turn inward to improve your natures, as Z’lask do to conform to the Code, but wrote treaties to do the work for you. Then you made the difficulty you of course still encountered in upholding the law a matter of honor.” He rolled his luminous eyes.
“I suppose this tiring obligation is one to which we could accustom ourselves.” Flipping his tail in the Z’lask grin, he stalked off.
I am going to kick each and every last one of these crazy bastards out an airlock.
Or maybe I’ll just go see what’s for dinner—we had a long trip ahead of us.


Damn, fight scenes are hard to write! I could definitely use some constructive criticism about how to improve them, if anyone happens to think of any! I’d also love to know what y’all think of the Iialia, they were fun to come up with….
submitted by PuzzleheadedCharge4 to HFY [link] [comments]

First Contact Second Wave - Chapter One Hundred Fourteen

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The day was hazy, visibility lowered to less than a quarter mile due to the thick spores and pollen in the air. Some of the spores were the size of a baseball, lazily floating along in the humid air currents. The sound of the waves against the cliff was far and remote, as if the pollen in the air was somehow muffling the noise of the tide.
The tank was large by most standards, two hundred tons of moving metal, three engines, eight forced air pressure hover nacelles. A 155mm main gun, a set of tri-barrel co-axial mag-acc guns, a pair of 4-pack mortal tubes, point defense weapons, and APERS strips.
Ekret knew it was a light scout tank by the standards of the military he was currently serving with.
Ekret, like his entire crew, had started out as debt forced wage-slave military forces, using equipment who's designs were over ten million years old without a single update or improvement. His tanks, back then, had been between fifty and a hundred tons and mounted less than half the weaponry, were slower, with less shielding.
The battle-screen that would normally be glimmering was turned off, although there were sterilization fields, normally used in surgery, glimmering over the head sinks and fins off the back of the tank.
The Terran military had purchased his contract, and the contracts of his entire division, from the bankrupt corporation, trained him, armed him, and integrated him into one of the most lethal militaries Ekret had ever seen.
The patch on his shoulder, a pair of lighting bolts on either side of the Terran number "1", was the patch of his division, First Recon Division (New Metal).
Which is how he had ended up on a planet that was currently being overgrown by hostile plants.
And how a Terran Descent Human, who had been raised by insectoid Treana'ad after a natural disaster had left him an orphan, had sent him, and his crew, out to check on the coast. Satellite recon was almost completely useless, the plant's spores making visibility by almost any wavelength next to useless.
But the General, known to many as 'Tik-Tac', had been staring at maps for over a day, tapping his fingers and rubbing his hand together.
Standing in the cupola hatch, the commander's hatch, Ekret was chewing on the end of an empty plastic ration tube, staring at what he'd found.
"Any ideas?" one of the human commanders, a big burly human who was more cybernetics than man, asked.
"No clue," Ekret admitted, staring at what he'd found.
It was massive. He could see it, dimly through the spores, extending off past the visibility line.
A massive vegetative tube, exiting the jungle and down the cliff, into the sea. It was pulsing in a rhythm that suggested to Ekret that it was pulling the water up. The seawater was covered with a thick layer of algae and seaweed. There were smaller veins around it, all obviously feeding the tube, which moved with a life all its own.
On Ekret's left was the jungle. The leaves were brown and yellow, limp, almost wilted, coated with a thin film of what looked like wax.
"Pan the jungle again," came an order over his headset.
The hovertank slowly rotated, bringing the massive scanners on the front glacis into play.
"Air's full of crap," Heslettek, the EW and scanner officer complained.
--attempting to compensate-- 749, a small green mantis engineer flashed through the icon and emoji language he used.
"That jungle doesn't look like its benefiting from millions of gallons of seawater being pumped into it," said the voice that had ordered the jungle to be panned again.
"No, sir," The human commander, one General Trucker - 3rd Armor Division (Old Metal), said, his voice slow and quiet. "Anyone have any idea what it's doing?"
"Pumping water up from the ocean and taking it further into the jungle is my guess," Ekret said.
"We need an expert on this," Trucker said. Ekret heard the big human spit. "Where's that Vuxten kid?"
There was silence a moment, broken only by stray chatter that was bounced around by the vegetative chaff. Ekret nodded to himself. Vuxten had fought in the Precursor War as an Army conscript, pulling SAR and recon, then had gone through training as a Terran Marine.
"Vuxten here, sir," came the voice of one of the natives of the planet, a Telkan.
"Any ideas what this might relate to?" The original voice asked. General Tik-Tac of 19th Logistics and Sustainment.
"It has to be a vein. One of the big ones," Vuxten answered. "It's pumping nutrients, probably filtered out of the ocean, to the plants deeper in. Watch out for veins, sir."
"The plants at the edge are dead," Ekret said.
"No, sir. They just look like it. The whole jungle, all of it, is one interconnected system. Believe me, that big vein could pump enough nutrients into that patch of jungle that you're tank would have vines trying to crawl into within a minute or two. We call 'vein bolt' and 'power bloom' when it does that," Vuxten said.
"It's pulling millions of gallons an hour. Any idea why?" Ekret asked.
"No, sir. Honestly, with what we've learned over the last week? It's probably something bad. Let me check," Vuxten said.
There was silence for a moment.
"There's three big lakes, according to the old maps. It's pulling in the water to feed something in those lakes. Every time we've seen lakes, they've been coated in algae and have something big and mean growing in them," Vuxten said.
"All right, kid. Thanks. Get some rest," Trucker said.
"Yes, sir," Vuxten said.
Ektret leaned against the edge of the hatch, staring at the jungle.
"Well, gentlemen, what do you think?" Tic-Tak asked.
"I think the kid's right. It's pumping nutrients to something nasty," Trucker said, then spit again. "After what happened during the landing, I'm willing to bet it's growing something that it hopes can stand up to modern metal."
"I concur, sir," Ekret said, lifting up a pair of lens only binoculars and looking through them.
"All right, come back. I don't like having you out that far on your own," Tic-Tak said. "Unless either of you have an objection."
"We could always have Ekret put a couple rounds in that artery, see what shakes loose," Trucker suggested.
"I'm in a hover tank," Ekret said. "I should be able to outrun anything the jungle tosses out."
"No, I think I should consult with all commanders and come up with a workable plan to force the jungle to show a few cards," Tic-Tak said. "Together we are much more than the sum of our parts."
Trucker and Ekret acknowledged and then signed off.
The big 'scout' hovertank lifted up in a shower of pureed vegetation and dirt, rotated in place, and smoothly headed back to the massive logistics base.
Behind it, the thick tube kept its secrets.
-------------------
Six hours later Ekret stared at the same scene he had watched from his tank. Well, close. The image was split into quarters, one with visible light, one a composite, one cleaned up, and one the last aerial view that had been recorded.
"First of all, I'd like to welcome our two reinforcement division heads. General Araktun of the 219th Cybernetic Infantry Division and General Vost of the 712th Genetic Warfare Division," Tic-Tak said, rubbing his hands slowly back and forth. Ekret had noticed that in a way it mimicked Treana'ad body language.
General Araktun looked like a warborg except in chrome, with a single line of red that had a moving red dot going back and forth, instead of the normal warborg eyes. He nodded to everyone at the introduction then looked at General Trucker, who was spitting juice into a small plastic bottle.
"You still hanging around with these meatbags pretending you shouldn't be working with me, Trucker?" Araktun asked.
"Still 42% meat, ya walking hubcap," Trucker grinned.
The cyborg made a grinding sound of amusement.
General Vost was a lean looking Pure Strain Human with a face like a shovel and cold hard eyes. He just nodded when he was introduced.
"Do have any ideas what might be going on deeper in the jungle?" Tic-Tak asked, brushing his fingers together back and forth.
Everyone shook their heads.
"Send for that Vuxten kid, let's get his input," Trucker said, waving at it. "I've looked over the after action precis for what went down on the landing, those Telkans had their shit together."
Everyone nodded and Tic-Tak gave orders to an aide to have Vuxten report in to the command center.
"Would those big ones prove difficult for your tanks, General Trucker?" Tic-Tak asked.
Trucker shrugged. "That's hard to say without actually engaging them, sir. From what I've seen, using straight lasers or plasma just seem to energize them in the same way that my battle-screens pull any energy they can into my reserves."
Araktun just nodded, staring at the screen. He pointed at an unused holotank. "May I?"
"Of course, General," Tic-Tak answered.
"I haven't been on planet long enough to do a complete genetic analysis of the foe, but what I'm seeing just in these images is concerning," Vost said, leaning forward. "I would suggest from here on out we make our plans as if we're dealing with a rogue Elven Queen."
"Oh my," Tic-Tak said, rubbing his forearms. "That is... concerning."
"Amplify?" Trucker said, staring at the holotank.
"Corporal Vuxten as well as several other members of First Telkan have annotated that the 'jungle itself' adapts to them. They treat the 'jungle' as a complete organism, and so far their instincts have been on the nose," Vost stated. "How many of you have seen an Elven Queen in action with your own eyes?"
General Tic-Tak was the only one who raised their hand.
"If we approach this as if we are taking on a maddened or rogue Elven Queen, we'll be able to adapt our strategies must quicker as well as possibly predict the actions of the enemy," Vost said. "I would suggest considering it a maddened queen, as we've seen them 'print out', so to speak, unfinished versions of attack and defense systems where a rogue queen would take the time to finalize the design."
Tic-Tak nodded and exhaled. "That makes logistics handling much more difficult. I'll need to put a priority on medical checks and medical care as well as ensure everyone's blood cleanser implants get constant updates."
Araktun was replaying several of the First Telkan's combat operations, pausing and zooming in on the plants involved.
"Right now it looks like, for the most part, the controlling organism, if there is one, thinks on the macro not the micro, which is lucky for us," Vost said, staring at the screen. "It hasn't resulted to viral warfare as far as we know, specifically they haven't engaged in viral warfare against the human element, which leads me to believe that they don't have enough of our genetic code to begin attacking us."
"A maddened queen wouldn't rectify that, a rogue one would," Tic-Tak mused. "A rogue queen would be sending in small blood sucking creatures to get a sample of us."
"Pre-programmed," Trucker said, staring at the map. Ekret noticed both the big human's cybernetic eyes were slightly unfocused. "Our proteins and yadda yadda are different enough from the Telkans to throw an error code but close enough we can breathe the same atmosphere and eat roughly the same things. At first glance we'd look like a mutation, but on a deeper level our cellular structure and makeup are too different to be easily effected. It's either ignoring us or devoting a lot of effort to figure out how to go at us beyond stabbing or crushing us."
General Vost raised his eyebrows slightly and Ekret kept from laughing. It was obvious Vost had taken one look at the big General and dropped his estimates of Trucker's intellect by a factor of five.
"With Big Slobbery Mo out of the picture, it might have to dedicate resources to regrowing intelligence arrays," Trucker said, suddenly looking up. "We should consider this thing akin to the Precursor machines for how they work together and add in the Lanaktallan 'slow and steady wins the race' philosophy."
Everyone nodded except Araktun, who was engrossed in watching the sped-up replays of First Telkan.
Ekret slid an empty ration tube out of his pocket and put the end in his mouth, chewing on it, and staring at the holotank. It had been only a little more than a week and already the majority of the planet was covered by vegetation. There wasn't that much more than rolling plains, a few mountain ranges, and complex interconnect rivers to make up the geography.
That made Ekret blink. He reached out and brought up a few planetary scans of planets in the Dead Zone where all this had started as well as planets from the Terran side, looking over the geographical outlay of the planet.
The majority of planets in the neo-sapient zone were uniform in their layout. Protocontinent or a few continents, mountain ranges in the center, rivers flowing through rolling plains. He ran a similarity check between neo-sapient zone planets with the main computer system and waited the few minutes for it to check.
80% match.
Ekret looked up.
"They've been here before," he said.
Everyone turned and looked at him. "Not just here, but all over this zone. Look," he motioned at the planetary comparison. "Think about it. These planets are just farms, resource farms for the creatures and Lanaktallans."
Tic-Tak was slowly rubbing his hands together, staring at the screen. "The Lanaktallans want physical resources, found in a planetary crust, and use the local sapients as a slave force to maximize the resource extraction. The creatures want... biomass? Calories? Fuel for themselves?"
"The question is," Trucker said slowly, staring at the holotank as he spit into the bottle. "Which one is obeying who?"
Ekret shrugged. "Say ten million years between each, well, rotation so to speak, does it matter in the meantime?"
Tic-Tak moved to the holotank, bringing up an interface and twiddling at it rapidly. After he was done he stepped back and waited.
Vuxten came in and stood against the wall silently, seeing all the high ranking officers staring at the holotank. Vuxten could see it was flashing planets up rapidly.
"Let me adjust the algorythm a bit," Tic-Tak said. He twiddled for a moment on the interface. "That's the best my limited skill can do. After we're done here I'll send it for analysis."
Everyone just nodded, watching.
It took almost five minutes before the computer spit it back up.
Core Worlds and Inner Sphere worlds were heavy metal poor, almost to the point of having none outside the mantle. The mountains were low and rounded. Geological instability was largely relieved. Weather was controlled. The ecology was carefully balanced, with no high end predators.
"As I suspected," Tic-Tak said, stepping back and shaking his head. "General Ekret is correct, they've not only been here before, but I suspect they have been all through this section of the galactic stub."
Everyone nodded as Tic-Tak turned around. "So either there is an ecological battle group outside of every system in Lanaktallan control and sphere of influence, or the creatures have been slowly spreading out, abandoning the "Core Worlds" and "Inner Sphere" as depleted due to the eco-system being too, well, 'thin' as it were," the portly General said. He spotted the Telkan against the wall. "Ah, Corporal Vuxten. Good of you to join us."
"Thank you, General," Vuxten said. "How can I help?"
"How long, would you estimate, it took the jungle to adapt to what your men were doing?" Trucker asked.
Vuxten thought for a moment. "A day, maybe too, at the latest. Hours sometimes. It got easier in Grid Tango-Niner after we blew up a bunch of weird looking coral."
"Which day and engagement?" Araktun asked. When Vuxten told him he shifted views in the holotank and brought up the section quickly.
He tossed it to the main holo-tank and everyone watched as First Telkan moved in on an overgrown spaceport, escorting flame vehicles.
Only a few days ago we had the ability to do overwatch with drones and satellite, now we're almost blind, Ekret thought to himself, watching the icons move across the screen.
"STATUS CHANGE!" the voice rang out over the holotank and the image changed from ships covered by a thin layer of moss to outgrowths of coral defended by plants that fired laser or vomited up plasma. The screen blinked twice to show it was updating.
The coral was closely grown, full of folds and bulges, and ringed by heavy armored plates. Ekret noted that the shell to completely encase it wasn't fully formed yet but still gleamed metallically. Plant extruded metals forged at the cellular level.
The flame vehicles washed the coral with fire and everything went berserk. Lightning-like patterns in the moss.
"That was the first time we ran into a vein bolt," Vuxten said quietly.
Ekret just nodded, staring. It did look like a lightning bolt moving through the moss.
"Thousands of gallons of nutrient per vein, fifteen veins, this was of major importance," Tic-Tak mused.
"The first power bloom we ever encountered is next," Vuxten said. "We lost a couple of people right here and a lot of the tanks. We got chewed up."
The lumps in the moss, which had only showed up on the scans when First Telkan had arrived, suddenly erupted into plants that grew impossibly fast.
General Vost was working at his own holotank, watching what Vuxten was narrating as he worked, identifying plants, growth rate, nutrient uptake rate, where they were in regards to a major vein.
Tanks had plants shoot out from under them, vines grabbing and twisting. First Telkan scattered, going for flat spots of moss, throwing or firing out grenades or rockets to blow the moss off of the ferrocrete and jumping to the middle of the spot.
Four of First Telkan didn't make it. At every point where the Telkan Marines didn't make it out there was an explosion.
"What triggers that?" Vost asked.
"Termination of life signs," Vuxten said. "We encountered a few places where bodies are used pretty horrifically and all agreed we'd rather risk having our suits explode when we sneeze than be used like that."
Vuxten made a motion, looking at the holodisplay coming from his palm, then flicked it General Vost. "Take a look at that, sir. We encountered that on Day Two when we were evacing people."
It looked like a Telkan with a bulging face, throat, and abdomen. It suddenly split open to reveal a swarm of wasps and dozens of little crabs which charged in.
"Luckily, the broodcarriers can smell them and sense them. None of them got in with any podling daycares," Vuxten said, turning away. "Their hearts still beat and they make moaning and gagging noises. We felt like they were still alive in there."
General Vost nodded.
The vehicle drivers obviously panicked, to Ekret's eyes. Two slammed into each other. One bathed a squad of Telkan power armor troops with fire and one of the troops fired back with a rocket that blew up the flame tank.
Ekret couldn't blame them.
Rockets and grenades were flying out at and the tanks were turning to fire at the coral.
"It looks like cabbage in the garden," Trucker mused. "Protective leafs. See how they're trying to curl over the coral? Yeah, this was something big."
Bees, dragonflies, larger bugs were all swarming, going for the tanks, which had moved to areas that had been scoured of moss by explosives. A lot of the Telkan power armor had jumped onto the tanks, providing cover as they poured fire into the plants.
"Plasma didn't work, weirdly enough regular fire worked just fine," Vuxten said. "I don't know enough about the difference between napalm and plasma."
"Energy profile," Trucker grunted.
Araktun turned and looked at the holodisplay. The coral was burning.
"Look, they lost cohesiveness," Araktun said. Trucker nodded. "Each of those coral formations they lost, they lose more and more of their cohesion."
"This might be the difference in this sector compared to the rest," Tic-Tak mused. "Perhaps they are growing more of them?"
Vuxten shook his head. "Not for a pipe that big. That's something big being grown. Something it'll take atomics to stop."
"Something to offset our big tanks," Araktun said. He turned to Vuxten. "What's the biggest threat your power armor troops face?"
Vuxten looked confused. "I'm just a corporal, sir."
"Second lieutenant now, son," Tik-tac said.
Vuxten nodded. "I'm just a lieutenant, sir. I'm in charge of a fire recon platoon of Telkan Marines, that's all."
"What's the biggest threat you've faced?" General Vost asked.
"Heat. There has to be thirty different ways the jungle goes for your heat systems. From what looks like airborne plant seeds that seal to your cooling fins with insulation like plastic to bugs that purposefully home in on your cooling systems, the jungle is definitely targeting heat," Vuxten said.
"I noticed that during our relief of the civilian command center," Trucker said.
Araktun nodded. "My men might be of use here," he turned to Vuxten. "I'd like a briefing of First Telkan's heat compensation tactics."
Vuxten looked at the gathered generals. "Sirs, maybe it would be better to talk to some of the higher ranking officers? I've only been a Marine a year."
Tik-Tac walked up and put his hand on Vuxten's shoulder. "Your men have the most field experience out there in the jungle. The majority of your officers are Terran Marines, we'll get their opinion too, son. Don't think we're not going to speak to them too. You just have a lot of field experience."
"Oh, OK, sir," Vuxten said, looking out of his depth.
"Don't sweat it, kid," Trucker said. "We'll have you back in armor and behind your rifle quick enough so you don't have to stand around a bunch of plotters and planners like us."
Vuxten just nodded.
Ekret had watched the whole thing interestedly. He knew how Vuxten felt. He had been a Most High, and he still felt inadequate at times watching the Terran military work. He, himself, was used to being told what to do, not having people ask him his opinions on everything from how much time his men spent in the tanks to if the ammunition templates were working right to what his favorite shows were.
Ekret moved over next to Vuxten as the other Generals went back to discussing everything from how to deal with the Terran military's biggest problem (heat) to what the jungle might be cooking up to how much longer they had to hold out until the shelters were reconfigured and ready to launch.
"It's almost frightening, isn't it?" Ekret asked the younger male.
"Sir?" Vuxten asked, looking at him. Ekret could see the thick red scarring, not yet faded, around the Telkan's ear.
"Watching Terrans go to work. You can see how they've crushed everyone they've ever faced," Ekret said, taking the half of the ration tube that remained unchewed.
"I don't understand why they wanted to talk to me," the younger male said softly.
"Because you've been on the ground, seen it react to your actions with your own eyes, had your reflexes save you, which means you understand something about the jungle at a subconscious level," Ekret said, pouring the spit out of the tube into the reclaimer before putting it back into his mouth and chewing on it.
"Vuxten, what's the first sign you notice of a vein bolt?" General Vost asked.
"The mat bulges slightly, gets spongier feeling under our boots, and there will be a green trail in the moss where the nutrients are being poured into the vein to get it ready," Vuxten answered. "More spores and pollen too."
"See, that's information you can't see in the recordings," Ekret said, nodding at the holotank. He looked at Vuxten. "I can have my mechanics put feedback sensors on my hovertanks to rate the ground reflection of my hoverfans, maybe give me a second or two to react."
"Oh," Vuxten nodded.
"Trucker there, he'll notice it. The Unnamed Gods only know how he'd notice, but I guarantee you that he'll notice it," Ekret said. "General Araktun's cyborgs will know to keep a look out for it. A second or two can save countless lives."
"You can ambush the ambush if you know it's coming," Vuxten quoted.
"These power blooms, how long from sighting an incoming vein bloom till they erupt?" General Vost asked.
"Um, ten, maybe twenty seconds. You can tell what's going to get power bloomed by a thin vein pattern coming from the middle of an intersection. It takes three or four vein bolt strikes to cause a power bloom," Vuxten said. "You can't rely on your suit computer, though. Because of the sudden spore and pollen eruptions your visuals and sensors are usually confused."
Vuxten thought for a second. "If you have incoming vein bolt strikes and your sensors suddenly drop to almost nothing, you're about to get power bloomed and you might be on top of a bloomer."
All of the generals nodded, adding that.
Vuxten noted that Tik-Tac was stepped back a bit, just watching. He pointed it out to Ekret who nodded.
"The General isn't a combat arms leader. He trusts the others to do their jobs, he's figuring out the best was to support them," Ekret said. He looked at Vuxten. "Make no mistake, young Telkan, wars are won or lost by men like the General. All of the combat valor in the world won't help you if you starve to death without ammunition or uniforms."
"Oh," Vuxten said. He never really thought about it. Maintenance, supplies, armor repair, it just happened. Vuxten had never really thought about it beyond hoping it was taken care of.
Ekret kept chewing on the ration tube, watching the information in the tanks flow by.
"Why aren't you involved?" Vuxten suddenly asked.
Ekret looked at him and smiled. "Because, young man, I, like you, are Scout Recon. Which means that I'll be paying attention to you and your fellow Scout Marines on a much more personal level. The others? They're heavy metal. Combat warborgs, heavy tanks, heavy assault infantry."
"Oh," Vuxten said, still slightly confused.
"Just stand here, they'll get to us. More than likely to assign a mission," Ekret said. "And I've got a feeling what it's going to be," Ekret said.
"What's that, sir?" Vuxten asked.
"If I tell you, you won't figure it out on your own," Ekret smiled.
----------------------
Ekret stared at the massive organic pipes, rising up out of the ocean, over the edge of the cliff, to disappear into the wilted looking jungle. His tank sat, idling, only a hundred meters from the nearest pipe, which had grown a thicker layer of twisted vines around it. The moon had set with the sun, meaning the only view was through light amplification, giving the world a too-slick feeling.
He left signal repeaters every two hundred meters that used point to point tight beam communication across one of the narrow bands not clogged by the pollen and spores, all the way back to the main Forward Operating Base.
Trucker was only fifty miles away, his entire Division formed into a spearhead poised to slam its way through the thickest part of the jungle. All eight BOLOs attached to him were on the flanks, ready to go.
Vuxten's platoon and a light company of Araktun's cyborgs had entered the jungle only two hours before, after making sure everyone had gotten a good night's sleep.
The objective wasn't to suddenly win the war, but to delay whatever it was the jungle had planned.
The shelters needed another twelve days to finish reconfiguring, dig their way out of the bedrock, and launch.
One point two million shelters across a main continent, two sub-continents, and eighteen major islands.
Ekret was glad it wasn't his responsibility. That all of those people only tangentially relied on his guns.
If I was to be put into Tik-Tac's place I'd develop a substance abuse problem retroactively, Ekret thought to himself.
He looked back over the ocean, one hand on the lip of the hatch, feeling his tank vibrate slightly. The ocean was covered with a thick layer of algae and seaweed.
Enemy territory, he sighed to himself.
He looked around at the jungle again, keeping an eye for any change in the colors. Yeah, his scout tank would supposedly alert him of any palette change in the foliage, but sometimes it was better to keep a physical eye on it. He could barely see the fiber-optic cable twinkling in the sunlight, moss already growing over it, that ran from his tank into the jungle.
Recon Alpha-Three-Three's only line of communication out of the jungle.
The surgical sterilization fields crackled as General Ekret waited.
-----------------------
Trucker had his left palm turned up, his right hand on the coax gun. Above his left hand was a holodisplay feeding him data. It was easy to forget just how thick the jungle was from the ground, when you weren't in a five hundred ton mechanical war machine. The 'trees' were almost a hundred meters high, the trunks thick and greasy looking. The moss carpet was thick and spores the size of a grown man's fist floated in mid air, slowly blinking red or yellow or green.
Two hours and they were nearly twenty-five miles in. Trucker knew the borgs from Sixteen Scout Recon could move up to ninety miles an hour, but they'd chosen to follow the Telkan Marines, who were notably slower.
Right now they were stopped, waiting for something that Trucker didn't see. He could tell by the signals that the Recon cyborgs didn't either.
But Vuxten had said to hold position, that nobody should move, and so everyone was frozen in place.
As Trucker watched there was a brightening in the moss in a vein pattern, spreading out from the massive nutrient pipes.
"Do. Not. Move," the Telkan officer snapped.
The pattern spread out, then the moss bulged around a handful of thick conduits, the edges around it brightening.
Almost a minute passed before the fluid moved off to the left.
That's heading for someone else, Trucker thought to himself. He opened his channel to BOLO Victorious.
"Victor, keep your optics peeled, there's a vein bolt heading in roughly your direction," Trucker snapped.
"Roger, sir," BOLO Victorious answered.
The scout team moved on.
Trucker kept watch, feeling the numbers run in his head. He slid the map to the north, not to the thickest part of the jungle, but to a point between five different lakes.
There. Whatever it is, it's there, Trucker thought to himself, scanning back to where the scouts were following the thick nutrient trunk.
----------------------------
TERRASOL
Space Force Units arriving at operational theaters. Rough estimation of location on Precursor Biological Weapon Fleets for systems are attached. Each fleet is to the solar north-west, at approximately 2.2 LY from stellar mass. Bioweapon fleets are to be targeted with extreme prejudice.
Operation Tusked Raven is proceeding according to projections.
-----NOTHING FOLLOWS---------
TASK FORCE 43 (ANVIL)
Have moved in strength into the Nantaver-837 system (Locally: Artcarik-482) to engage heavy Unified Military Fleet presence. Was informed by the System Most High, one Mana'aktoo, that even if we were triumphant in two years time the entire system would be eradicated by a super-weapon. System Most High 'inadvertantly' let slip the distance. Discovered bioweapon fleet in hibernation. Upon informing System Most High and System Defense Most High of the destruction of the bioweapon fleet, the system was immediately surrendered.
Governor Mana'aktoo is highly regarded by the xenospecies who live in the system. The four mega-corporations also regard him highly. The System Defense Most High is highly regarded by his subordinates.
I'm in an odd place here. Governor Mana'aktoo has made himself and his staff available at all opportunity. I'm pinned down here since this system is a priority to the Unified Council defense. If I abandoned it to carry on, another fleet could come in and take it. As it surrendered immediately I cannot move through destroying infrastructure due to the Geneva Convention and the Rules of Land Warfare.
Which means the System Defense High Most has pinned my task force here even more effectively than if he'd tried to take me head on. He had literally millions of troops under his command, all of whom are EPOWs that I have to oversee. They are not a difficultly, at worst they're lazy and unmotivated as EPOWs, at best their eager to assist my command in any orders we give out, but I cannot pull out and leave behind millions of soldiers.
Additionally, the civilian infrastructure is the highest I've seen in a Lanaktallan controlled system, the citizens highly educated (for their standards) and eagerly supporting Mana'aktoo's stewardship.
As the xenosapients in the system welcome us, with Mana'aktoo's encouragement, my office is flooded with requests for PR interviews and 'meet the people' interviews. It's not uncommon for my Marines and Army personnel to be asked to pose for photography or asked for interviews.
I need an actual occupation fleet here. MI was way off on whether or not this guy would fight to the death. My Task Force should have moved on to my other objectives already, instead I'm stuck here like my foot has been nailed to the floor.
--Admiral Schmidt, Commander, Task Force Anvil.
-------NOTHING FOLLOWS--------
MANTID FREE WORLD

------NOTHING FOLLOWS------
TELKAN GESTALT
What? What's so funny?
------NOTHING FOLLOWS------
MANTID FREE WORLDS
It's the age old human problem, dear. They won, but now they don't know what to do with it.
------NOTHING FOLLOWS-----
TREANA'AD HIVE WORLDS
See, sis and I, we'd just eat everyone and leave, at least, before the Terrans stomped on us.
The Terrans, though, they want something different for all those people.
-----NOTHING FOLLOWS------
TELKAN GESTALT
What do they want?
-------NOTHING FOLLOWS-------
RIGELLIAN COMPACT
Freedom and self-determination.
They don't want to stand over you with a club, they want you to start doing your own thing so they can get back to doing their own thing.
Humans are lazy.
-----NOTHING FOLLOWS-------
TERRASOL
Wow. Rude.
I mean, you're not wrong.
But rude.
-----NOTHING FOLLOWS-----
submitted by Ralts_Bloodthorne to HFY [link] [comments]

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