Betting Lines Explained | NBAOdds.org - Betting Odds and
Betting Lines Explained | NBAOdds.org - Betting Odds and
Sports Betting Odds Explained | How To Read Betting Lines
Baseball Lines & Betting Odds - How Do Odds Work Betting
How to Read Odds: Sports Betting Lines Explained
Betting Odds Explained - Things you should know about Odds
My Introduction to a Professional Sports Betting Syndicate
This is part 1 of a 3 part story I recently shared within The Betting Network community. The Betting Network or TBN is a group of sports bettors that all share information with a common goal of winning more bets. I also do weekly lessons, a mentorship program, game previews and just pass along any and all information I’ve gathered over the past 15 plus years, the main goal is to help members improve their overall sports betting IQ and help them avoid the brutal trial and error I had to go through before becoming successful in the sports betting industry. I decided to share this story because of the feedback I received within The Betting Network, hope you guys enjoy it and also gain something from it.
Before I get into the good stuff I have to explain what my job entailed at the time. The company I use to work for scraped sports betting information and data off the internet. A lot of pro bettors use “data scrapes” and what it does is it searches the internet 24/7 every second of the day for anything that has the keywords you programmed into the software. Think about how much time and effort this saves. You input “LeBron James Injury” and the second anything related to that is posted anywhere online it will be sent to you and even compiled in an organized fashion. You could put Steph Curry 3pt attempts and it will gather all that info and compile it. Data scrapes are really the only way a person could compile stats and information on entire leagues, it would take the entire season alone if you attempted to input it yourself without a scraper. One of the most important data scrapers is for injuries and the company I worked for had it set up where it would be constantly searching the internet for injury related news and it would “ping” our computers already formatted so it could be sent out to members and social media. For example, this is what a “ping” would look like - CLE-F [LeBron James] - Calf- Questionable or GSW-G [Steph Curry] - wrist - Doubtful. Our job was to edit any errors and basically just click a button that was linked to send it out on all platforms, members text services, on twitter, everywhere we wanted. Our company's injury scrape was so good that live odds services like Don Best would simply have a scrape on our Twitter account. Pro bettors would just have notifications set for our tweets because we were breaking injury information 10 to 20 seconds before ESPN sometimes. By the way, 10 to 20 seconds is an eternity in the sports betting world. If you couldn’t tell already I’m no computer wiz, but what I believe separated our scrape from many others was how the information was formatted when we got it and how it was streamlined with all the platforms it needed to be sent out to after we got it. In other words, injury news breaks, we get the ping, hit one button and it’s sent. Other people may receive the injury information and have to type out the format and then send it out one by one to twitter or on their website. But like I said I have no fucking clue how it all works all I know is we were considered one of the best for NBA, NFL. If you want to learn more about how to actually set up a scraper I provided a good intro to scraping link here: ⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️ http://crowdsourcesyndicate.info/MommyWowMyFirstScraper.html The MIT Sloan conference is one of the biggest sports analytics conferences in the world. Myself and a few co-workers were sent to the Sloan conference to represent our company. It’s a big 2 day event and everybody from the sports world is there, anyone from sports book operators to NBA head coaches and players. Link below for this years speakers at Sloan ↙️↙️↙️ http://www.sloansportsconference.com/2020-conference/2020-speakers/ Anyone that’s heavily involved in the sports betting industry is usually there because it’s a great way to network with everyone all in one place. My company had a booth there and we would just answer questions, hand out promotional fliers and point out all the famous people we saw. This is where it gets good. While sitting at the booth a guy approaches me and asks: “What do you do”? Me: I’m a data analyst Guy: ok, but what do you do? I explained to him my job responsibilities adding in a bunch of stuff to make it sound more important because the truth was I sat at a computer for 8hrs a day waiting for pings and answering phone calls where 90% of the callers had the wrong number. He pretended to be interested in the job details and before I could get into what he did or why he was there the convo ended with him asking if I’ll be attending day 2 of the conference. I said yes and he told me he would also be back tomorrow for day 2 and that after the conference tomorrow him and a bunch of guys were going to meet for drinks at the Westin hotel across the street from the conference, “drinks on me” he said while walking away. The next day after the conference I went across the street to the Westin and they have a restaurant. I see “George” who I met the day before and invited me, he’s sitting at one end of a table that has 2 big tables pushed together making one big table. He waves me over and I sit next to him, there’s about 7 other people there. He tells me to order anything I want, drinks, food whatever and made a point to tell me and everyone there that he’s covering the bill. The Westin is really nice and expensive, not a place I would be going to eat and drink on my own considering I think I was making $16 an hour at this time. I couldn’t help but wonder why he invited me and only me when I had 2 other co-workers. After a couple hours and 4 vodka tonics I found out. “George” was a professional bettor and was (still is) the head of a nationwide sports betting syndicate. He knew exactly what the company I work for dos and even knew my boss. Once we got into talking about what he does he wasted no time telling me what he wanted to do. He wanted me to notify him and his team about injuries before sending it out to the public, 15 seconds after to be exact. He knew that a majority of sports books used the live odds screen Don Best and that Don Best used our company for breaking injury news and if he was able to get the injury news before Don Best he would be able to beat the line on all the books that copied lines from them. For example: Your bookie isn’t sitting in front of the computer moving the lines when an injury happens, it’s done automatically. Most local books set up what’s called an auto-mover and this copies the feed from another sports book. Some local books may copy the feed from say pinnacle or 5dimes or any book they feel has strong accurate lines. They can’t set up a direct feed to pinnacle or 5Dimes because established books such as those can detect software. So what they do is set the auto-mover up onto a live odds service like Don Best. Once the line moves on don best all the books that are copying lines will then move their lines. George had software of his own that allowed him to bet games on thousands of accounts with a few clicks of a button. He explained to me how this would all work - I get the ping - CLE-F [LeBron James] - Rest - Out, I would copy and paste that onto the telegram messenger app and press send, he said sing happy birthday and when finished then I could post it to the world like I normally would. With his automated bet software he could pick off all the books that didn’t move the line yet based on Lebron being OUT. Of course not every single book was reliant on Don Best to move lines, many of the bigger well known offshore books had their own data scrapes and injury software, but more than enough books did rely on Don Best, who relied on my company. So the potential for this was through the roof. I had some serious thinking to do, as much as I wanted to say yes on the spot my instincts held me back. I told him I had to weigh the pros and cons. After all I basically would be tanking my job duties and going from a committed employee to what seemed like a sneaky spy. It does our company and it’s members no good if I’m sending out information late or at the same time as every other company. Also, without getting too detailed regarding the financial arrangement I felt I needed to counter his offer. The biggest upside for me besides the money was my strong desire to get involved with a real sports betting syndicate but the negotiations quickly let me know that there is a dark side to the industry and I had one foot in. To Be Continued.... PS I’ll likely share part 2 and 3 in the coming days.
Chapter is long! Not much to say! Got carried away! Ends with a bang! Enjoy! My Stories Material Differences Wiki Chapter 1 Chapter 47 Where was the sun? Where was the warmth? What happened? Jaeger slowly stumbled around within the dark fog. He couldn’t find his way. This place was supposed to be filled with love, and joy. Where had it gone? Did he know what he was looking for? Or why he couldn’t find it? It was like his limbs were extra heavy and sluggish for some reason. Weighted down by… what? Jaeger wasn’t really sure where he was, or why he was there anymore. But there was this oppressive feeling of… guilt… sadness… He had to find it… What? Something in the dark fog ahead… He could just barely make it out… a wispy figure… “Jaeger…” Why was he so cold… He was trying to reach out for it. The tiny figure shrouded in the mist… surely this was the answer… what he still sought? His fingers stretched… “Jaeger.” Jaeger jerked within the chair as his eyes opened. Slowly looking around and then down a moment he remembered he was hooked up to one of the Tesla chairs to help heal. Then he groaned softly as reality reasserted itself upon him. “Ow…” The chair had been working hard but that didn’t change the fact he was sore all over, and bruised in many places. “How was your nap?” Tanya was asking as she stepped up to his side, looking over the monitor to check his progress. “Shit.” Jaeger muttered and rubbed a hand across his face slowly. “You’re usually a great napper. Dream at all?” Tanya seemed satisfied with whatever the monitor said as she looked at him instead. “Yeah… no… I don’t know.” Jaeger shook his head and rubbed his face a bit more. Usually he woke up feeling so refreshed. “What’s up?” He finally tried to focus on Tanya, figuring there had to be something up. “We’ve got Whispertail up on comms again. There’s also some movement in the valley, and word is MPs have set up roadblocks in Splitstream. Our battle might have drawn attention so I was hoping you could talk to him and sort things out before we have to fight a whole nother battle.” She handed him a tablet then as he yawned and rubbed his eyes with his thumbs a bit harder to try and… rub life into them maybe? He didn’t know why. It just felt like it would do something. “Sure.” He agreed as he sat up a bit more. “What’s our current sitrep with cleanup anyway?” “Kuv’s organized the scavenging efforts. Plenty of good tech to reuse for our bots. Ham is bringing additional units online up at his scrapyard. Tabori swept the area to ensure we didn’t miss anyone. Max is configuring new patrol routes. Figs is making sure his new arm works fine. Probably by jerking off. He said he wanted to know what it was like to jerk off with a small white hand for a change and was trying to turn off the feeling so it would be like a stranger doing it.” Jaeger winced a little at the mental image. “Must you?” He asked. “Just making sure you’re still alive.” Tanya gave his shoulder a pat. “Want me to wait around just in case you need any more info?” Jaeger considered that a while and then nodded as she stepped back and sat down. Looking at the tablet she’d handed him he caught a bit of his reflection in the dark screen. He still looked like shit. Letting out a heavy sigh he slowly rolled his head around to try and work out a mild kink in his neck and then turned it on. Then he just stared at the call button trying to think of how to best do this. Finally he just shrugged and hit it. “Super Cereal, this is Tone Deaf. Please respond.” He waited a few seconds and was about to send again when the comm crackled a moment. “This is a secure line. Though I am supposing the names are to try and make it clear it’s really you.” Whispertail’s voice crackled a bit but was mostly clear. “I couldn’t remember what you’d called me when you called before. Figured this would work. We’re still alive, and we won. Did your ship survive? I wasn’t sure how to warn you without a secure line.” Jaeger hoped Ham’s ruse earlier had worked. “It suffered heavy damage, but it avoided outright destruction. Even my crew was not expecting… that. I wish to speak with you in person. Are you accepting visitors?” Jaeger arched a brow at that and glanced over at Tanya who just shrugged. “Hangar works.” She confirmed. “We’re open to visitors. But isn’t this a secure line?” Jaeger asked and looked back at the tablet, as if it would tell him if he was being spied on. “Some things are best discussed face to face.” Whispertail somewhat ominously replied. “I’d be happy to have you here. I’m a bit… under the weather. Ah… injured. So the discussion might have to take place partially in a med bay. But you’re certainly welcome.” Jaeger wasn’t sure what to make of it. “Then I shall arrive shortly. Please do not shoot my transport out of the sky.” The call cut then and the tablet showed him a ship’s tracking beacon instead which he handed off to Tanya. “Should we be worried?” She asked just as he was pondering the same thing. “I don’t… think so? Even if his cruiser is damaged he’s got Pact naval assets around here for sure. He could still have the compound bombarded.” Jaeger scratched his head then and just shrugged all over again. “I guess we’ll just have to find out. Tell Tabori not to shoot the ship. Get… uh… Is Brandy-Lynn doing anything?” “If she is it can’t be important.” Tanya replied. “Get her and Figs and we’ll all meet him in the hangar. No armor, no weapons. Leave Tabori outside.” Jaeger rubbed his chin then as he thought it over. “You sure?” Tanya confirmed, giving him a look. “Yeah… yes.” Jaeger nodded with more confidence. “Wait is Ham in the air?” “He’s at the scrap yard like I told you.” Tanya reminded him as Jaeger waved it off. “Uh, Tami? The tech? Is she with him?” Tanya nodded. “Alright… Who else is here? Kuv. Keep him out of sight. Bring Max and Raven down. We’ll all meet him in the hangar then. I don’t know what he wants but I want to put on a friendly face.” “Got it.” Tanya nodded and started to turn when Jaeger had a brief half remembered glimpse into his dream. “Do you think Leona survived?” The words were out just before he could process what he was even asking. Tanya looked back then and frowned a little. “The computer was wiped. If anything is left it’s in your implant. So… I don’t know. Memories can be hard to shake.” With that she turned and walked out, leaving him alone in the cold sterile medbay. A shiver swept through him then and he shuddered a moment. “What implant?” He asked aloud and squinted a moment as his head hurt. Groaning he leaned back in the chair and turned it on a little higher intensity while watching the tablet. He wanted to be up and active when Whispertail arrived. Feeling his muscles clench and relax through his body was a… uncomfortable experience to say the least. But it gave him something to focus on. Show Whispertail the possible location of Marque’s fortress. Enlist his help to destroy it. Get the code fragments. Then… what? Would Whispertail let him slink back off into the wilds? What would happen to the compound? Whispertail had to report to his superiors. What did they know? What would they think of rogue Revenant still running around? Would the Ravex help shift the blame towards Marque? Would he need to try and get Max and Raven out? To send them where? Whispertail had met Kuv before, it wouldn’t be terribly hard to track him down… Did he just assume the Obsidian Guard would be his friends? What kind of asshole was he to put so much faith in a former enemy that he had met so recently? Yet, every time they did interact Whispertail proved to be a capable and meaningful ally. Was that itself some kind of act? Get him to lower his guard? Or did he truly respect Jaeger as a friend? Too many questions. Not enough info. The ship was getting closer, so he finally deactivated the machine. Groaning softly as the last pulse of electricity ran through his body as it shut down. Swinging his legs off and then standing up slowly he had to grip the headrest for support a moment. Felt like he’d just been sitting on the can for too long… feet were numb. Some super soldier he was… Once some feeling returned he carefully curled his toes inside his shoes a moment and then began to shakily walk towards the hangar. Each step carried with it a little more confidence as his body seemed to realign itself with his continued existence. As he stepped into the hangar and looked around he found it to be the same as always, and yet different at the same time. A number of deactivated bots were lined up against a wall on the far side. Waiting their turn to be pulled into a repair bay to be worked on. Cases of ammo, and rockets were laid out to resupply the Vantahawk. The smell of cordite and gunpowder hung heavily in the air, burning at his nostrils a moment before he adjusted to it and the smell seemed to blend in and disappear. A parting kiss from an old friend. Bertha was the only active inhabitant at the moment. Though for now all she did was stand vigil over the deactivated bots and watch. Her massive red eye slowly sweeping the area. “Did you have a glorious battle Bertha?” He called out as her eye stopped and focused on him. “Unit designation Jaeger. Battle conclusion parameter glorious not found. Battle conclusion parameters victory or defeat. Battle analysis concludes parameter victory met.” The bot gave a salute then with a raise of her autocannon for a moment. He supposed there was more truth to the statement than the bot might know… What was glory anyway? But he focused on something else. “You sound different, you know Bertha. Was your update alright?” He mentioned her unusual speech pattern. Did she get reset somehow? “Trooper level designation. Experience level boot. Requires adjusted speech. Addendum translation provisor unit designation Tex. I gotta talk slow. So these dumb unit designation motherfuckers. Can understand me.” The bot gestured at the trooper bots while Jaeger raised an eyebrow at the translation Tex had provided for her. A bot, advising another bot, on how to translate to… human? Shit talking? That was new… “Good to know. I have some friends coming. Ravex. Obsidian guard. Please don’t attack them unless they attack first.” He asked and the bot just resumed scanning the hangar. “Understood.” Simple as that. At least she didn’t judge him for allying himself with their own enemy. For a moment he looked down at himself then. Olive drab shirt, olive drab sweats. Did some admin clerk centuries ago know what he was doing when he picked the new color for… whoever had first even used olive drab? The Americans? The Brits? Whoever it was they’d spawned a color to mark an entire caste of people forevermore. Was there a Ravex equivalent? The question made him ponder for a bit, thinking back on the various Ravex units that he’d fought over the years. The barracks that they’d seen. They had that kind of… ashy brown a lot. Did all species have some kind of color like that? Shit. What about the Kra’Kto’Sui? The octopeople had a whole nother color receptor didn’t they? Was human fashion… was all fashion other than their own painfully drab in comparison? Or just… garish maybe? Now he had a sudden urge to start researching Kra’Kto’Sui fashion. But before he could do anything about it the door opened and the others started coming through. Tanya first, followed by his kids, then Figs and Brandy-Lynn who had a feather for some reason? Even as he wondered about it he watched Brandy-Lynn use it to brush over Fig’s newfound white arm, which made him reflexively slap at it with his other. Growling then he turned and chased after her as she laughed and raced around the Hangar. For all his concerns about what was going to happen at least those two seemed to be totally normal. Normal for them. “Knock it off.” He called out in his typical dad voice. “No running around the ammo dump idiots.” “She started it!” Figs grumbled as they slowed down. “Obviously. Doesn’t mean you can just chase her around a bunch of missile racks.” He waved around the hangar and shook his head. When he glanced back he saw Raven and Max giving him odd looks. “What?” “Sorry. I just… wasn’t used to hearing you talk like that to anyone else.” Max shrugged. “Yeah it’s strange to know we’re like… your second round of kids.” Raven added with a nod which made both Tanya and Jaeger snort in amusement. “There’s a lot of theories about how to behave as a proper NCO. I guess the dad role just kind of… fits me best.” Jaeger shrugged. “I’m not sure it’s a dad role exactly. I mean… you hopefully don’t take Max and Raven out on leave and get blind fall down drunk with them all that often.” Tanya remarked which made them both chuckle all over again. “He let me try beer a few times.” Max mentioned which made Tanya arch a brow and look from him to Jaeger. “Oh?” She asked. “What did you think?” “Tasted… bleh.” Max’s nose scrunched up a moment as he winced at the memory and stuck out his tongue. “I didn’t do anything to him either.” Jaeger confirmed before Tanya even asked. “I’m telling you all liking beer is Stockholm syndrome. You drink it so much you convince yourselves you actually like it. But it’s awful. Gimme a Mai Tai anyday.” “Oh that sounds great.” Brandy-Lynn nodded as she walked back over. “There’s a place I funded that was supposed to be a hipster bar but I made them turn it into a Tiki place instead because that’s what I felt like at the time. It’s built around an old pool they have a floating bar on now. It’s great.” “Tiki Cove? That place is horrid. It’s so cliche it’s not even funny. Their drinks lack any kind of subtlety not to mention how tacky and lacking in cultural sensitivity the decor is.” Figs crossed his arms and then uncrossed them as the mismatched sizes obviously didn’t make it look right. “If Figs hates it then it sounds good to me.” Jaeger nodded. “What! Sarge! You wound me!” Figs grumpily set a hand on his chest looking offended. “I made you that wonderful cocktail when you came to visit!” “That drink was so bitter and so sour it was like getting punched in the face without any of the good parts of actually getting punched in the face. Which is saying something because there are very few good parts to being punched in the face.” Jaeger shot back with a slow shake of his head. “The sourness and bitterness were meant to enhance the complex experience of the drink! More to a beverage than getting drunk you know.” Figs sniffed and looked away rather disdainfully. “Actually getting punched in the face is a complex experience. Doesn’t mean I enjoy it.” Jaeger countered. Figs looked ready to keep arguing but then there was a beep from the nearby console. “The shuttle is here.” Tanya said. “It’s a typical Obsidian Guard Butterfly. Which means it's armed.” “All their craft are armed.” Jaeger brushed off the insinuation. “Open the hangar.” The doors above them silently opened as they saw the craft approach. Seeing the shuttle moving in still gave him a brief desire to grab a gun, or dive for cover but he ignored it and just waited. The Ravex shuttle was more wing than hull he felt but the Ravex always did enjoy using the flying wing style for their in atmosphere landers and the like. For a moment his eyes went to the turrets on either end of the giant wing but they were obviously powered down and didn’t have any gunners so he relaxed. So far so good… But why did Whispertail want to talk face to face anyway? He’d get his answer soon enough as the ramp slowly opened and the shogun walked down towards him. “Whispertail, welcome to my humble home.” “If your idea of humble is a secret Revenant facility powered by a shard reactor and possessing a full suite of automated defenses I’m unsure what you would consider extravagant.” The Ravex’s usual sense of humor was obviously intact. “It’s an expression. You’ve met some of us, but this is Tanya, my XO.” He gestured briefly at Tanya who nodded. “This is my son Max.” He set a hand on Max’s shoulder who straightened up a bit more, if it was possible to try and stare down the much bigger Ravex. “And this is Raven.” “Hello.” Raven smiled and waved as she was introduced before stepping forward and holding out something small and silver to Whispertail that Jaeger didn’t recognize. “Ah… what is this?” Whispertail asked as he carefully accepted it. “It’s candy. Ravex safe I checked. We haven’t really had time to prepare any other refreshments for guests. Or more traditional Exkishem. Sorry.” Jaeger couldn’t help but snort softly as his daughter did her best to be a good host. He imagined whatever exkishem was, had to be Ravex. Whispertail glanced up at Jaeger then who just shrugged. “Thank you. I shall dine on this when I am able. I do not have any resikel to exchange apologies.” Whispertail bowed his head a moment then and slipped the candy into his armored harness. He looked ready to continue when another voice behind him spoke first. “Where’s Tami?” Jaeger looked up and Whispertail spun around apparently surprised as well to see agent Lexa striding down the ramp. “What are you doing here?” He hissed out at her. “I expressly instructed you to remain at the base!” “And I told you I was coming!” She hissed right back at him. Had she snuck aboard Whispertail’s shuttle? An Obsidian guard shuttle? He was having a really hard time understanding her skill level. Her shooting had been awful, and she hadn’t realized her boss was corrupt as hell. But then that takedown at Funhaven, and now this? “How did you even get past the guards? Your father’s own security detail had promised me they wouldn’t let you out of their sight!” Whispertail hissed as he stomped up to glare down at her. Yet, to her credit she just crossed her arms and glared right back. “Despite what you might think you’re not actually my superior and all orders are merely requests which I am free to ignore. Besides I need to talk to Jaeger.” She started to step past but Whispertail set out a hand to stop her. “I am here to speak with Jaeger. You will wait your turn if nothing else.” Jaeger arched a brow a moment as he noticed how Whispertail’s tail was twitching. She’d gotten under his skin it seemed. Fur. Scales? Wait skin still worked right? He shook his head a moment to stop wondering about the appropriate way to phrase that for a Ravex. She’d certainly pissed him off anyway. “Fine.” She huffed. “But where’s Tami?” She looked past Whispertail at Jaeger then. “Uh she’s with Ham. They’ll be back…” He glanced over at Tanya for a time frame but she just shrugged. “They’ll be back.” Jaeger repeated simply. “Then I’d like to talk to her over your comms at least.” She insisted. “Tanya get her patched in.” Jaeger waved Tanya over and then focused on Whispertail. “Do we need to talk in private?” “Yes.” He nodded and cast a sideways glare at Lexa who was already ignoring him. “This way.” Jaeger waved him on and turned back to walk the way he came leading Whispertail into the medbay he’d been healing up in earlier. The two were quiet as they walked and Jaeger began to wonder just what this little trip was all about. They could have tightbeamed without fear of anyone listening in but Whispertail obviously wanted to be here personally. Once they were inside the medbay Jaeger turned to face the large xeno, casually leaning against a counter to appear as at ease as possible. However once they were alone Whispertail didn’t speak. He just examined Jaeger for a moment and then began to look around the medbay. It wasn’t like he was desperately searching for something. But more… examining the place as a stranger might, trying to determine just what he was looking at. Was he expecting Jaeger to speak first? Was he trying to delay him for some reason and just make him wait? What would be the reason for that? Lets say he had an Obsidian Guard Talon on their way here. Even with things as chaotic as they are after the battle the compound defenses would still pick them up well before they got here. Would he try and kill Jaeger when he found out and attack from the inside? To what end? The others would still be able to take him down, plus the shuttle wouldn’t get out of the hangar without codes. They couldn’t man the turrets without being obvious. No… Jaeger had been as friendly as he could, explaining what Marque was up to, and giving the Ravex all the help he could. Was there something he had let slip? What did he have to slip? He couldn’t figure the Ravex out. “I can’t figure you out Jaeger.” Jaeger blinked as Whispertail set his hands on one of the operating tables, facing away from him as he spoke. Echoing the thought in Jaeger’s head right now. “I can’t figure you out either if that’s helpful.” Jaeger smirked a little, figuring Whispertail would be annoyed. But the Ravex just turned to him looking serious and Jaeger’s smirk faded. “When we met it was a hostile encounter. You tried to kill me.” The big Ravex more announced than accused. “Whoa.” Jaeger held up a hand. “Let's be straight on this. You attacked me first.” “First you were just a heat signature, and then you were more obviously a Revenant. Was I to think after all this time one of you would be… friendly? All the animosity between our peoples and you fault me for assuming you were there to kill me?” Whispertail asked. “I’m not faulting anyone.” Jaeger corrected. “I’m only saying you attacked first. I defended myself. Then when I realized the fight could be ended without either of us dying… I so ended it.” “Yes… you did.” Whispertail considered him extra carefully, leaning in a little as if proximity somehow aided honesty. “Why?” “Did I not cover this before? I’m fighting Marque Malinovsky. My brother in law. Who… has an army. And… production facilities of some kind to equip this army. I’ve got… a hand of people and only now a small contingent of prewar bots to fight back against him with. Back then… I didn’t even know for sure Marque was the threat, or what he had. I just knew… I could fail. So… why not tell someone else what was going on in case I did. Marque and I… Obviously aren’t friends but we’re polite. I promised not to kill his kids, he promised no to kill mine. I still have to ensure he doesn’t win.” Jaeger rambled a little trying to figure out what Whispertail wanted to know. “Why is that exactly? What is his goal? Conquest?” Whispertail asked. “Yes.” Jaeger nodded. “He thinks his organization is the true Void Government and he wants it all back. He sees the Pact as illegitimate and juvenile. He wants… humanity first. Synths above all. And… I don’t know… everyone else slaves or dead. I haven’t exactly gotten a pamphlet detailing all of his mission objectives.” Jaeger shrugged a moment. “So you’d rather we win than he does. Even if you also lose?” As he said that Jaeger began to feel a little worried. “Is that it? Do you need me to lose?” He wasn’t sure what to do about that if Whispertail said yes. “No.” Jaeger relaxed even as the Ravex said that. “What I’m trying to figure out is what you want out of this.” “To… make society better. To help save the Pact.” Whispertail just stared at him, seemingly unconvinced. “Why? Since the end of the war you have lived here in isolation with your children. You are isolated from society. What impact does the Pact have on your life? Why are you invested in helping it?” Whispertail’s words cut into Jaeger for a moment. “Why fight for a society you’re not a part of?” “Because that’s what I did before.” Jaeger could see the confusion in Whispertail’s face. “I grew up on earth. Which was a shitty place to be, and even worse if you were poor. I grew up knowing only a society that revolved around respect. Respect of power in the most bloody simple way people could show it. I can’t tell you how many people I saw get killed over some stupid… bullshit. Some perceived disrespect. Or just not enough respect. All I knew is I had to get out of that shithole. Which meant taking the merc exams and seeing what nation would take me. Which for me meant the Revenant program. They didn’t call it that at first obviously but that’s what it was. All I cared about is that it was Void. Do you know what that meant?” “I suspect I do not know the true extent.” Whispertail replied. Jaeger just waved a hand around the medbay for a moment at some of the tech. “It meant I could get my mom a free ride to the best place in the universe! Everyone talked about how amazing the Void was and I got in. All I had to do was kill for them. So I did. I became a killer for a society I wasn’t really a part of. I only barely ever saw what civilian life was like in the Void. Just a tiny bit of R&R, here and mostly in Funhaven so… far as I knew it was the best place ever! I spent the majority of my time elsewhere. Killing Davari, killing Russian, Americans, Anterans-” “Kids.” Whispertail added. He didn’t seem angry but he was carefully watching Jaeger. “Kids.” He nodded. “Civilians. Politicians. I was being told who to kill by people I knew were smarter than me. They said it was all sad, but necessary. To preserve the Void Way Of Life.” He carefully enunciated each word. “To protect a society I didn’t get to live in. But my mom did. And that’s all I cared about. They said kill, I killed. They said sabotage I sabotaged. They said murder innocent people? I murdered. I gave them my soul. So that once I was done with my time in purgatory… when I’d killed my way to heaven it would all be waiting for me.” Jaeger looked away then, going quiet. “Then the war.” Whispertail continued. “I had been helping the very company I thought was protecting my new home, destroy it instead. Undermined everything I was supposed to love about it. Helped trade freedom for control, democracy for dictatorship, and knowledge for ignorance. But I thought I could still save it. We just had to win the war. So we fought… and fought… And we won the war. My wife’s body was destroyed. I’d lost… most of my friends and comrades… and the society I’d done all that work for? It was dead too.” Jaeger wasn’t looking at Whispertail now. His eyes just stared vacantly at the wall for a while. “So I took my kids and came here and tried to raise them as best I could. But it’s not enough. I buried my head in the sand and assumed…” Jaeger shrugged. “I don’t know. That… it would fix itself. Because I was tired… I had been fighting almost my entire life and suddenly I was in a scenario where… I had to make the decisions. There weren’t any smarter people to just… tell me what to do. I figured… I don’t know. That… they were the most important thing to me. But… by focusing on them I didn’t help out anyone else… So… my kids are good but the rest of society is fucked and I didn’t help. Which sucks! How the fuck could I find the time? Raise my kids well, help everyone, be a productive member of society… The fuck am I supposed to do?” Jaeger felt exhausted just talking about it. “You have a highly advanced compound here at your disposal. Plus what appears to be a small army of also highly advanced robots at your command. You could have dominated the coast. Become a warlord. Possibly seized the planet for your own.” Whispertail mentioned but Jaeger just frowned. “Me? Did I not just explain I’d lost the smart people telling me what to do? Fuck do I know about running a planet? What I should just become some new… scav king. Raise my kids in some… minor fiefdom that would get crushed when the Pact finally got around to it? And what sort of message does that teach them? I made sure the scavs in Columbia stayed in Columbia for a reason. It was the only semi decent thing I could do for everyone north up the coast. Give them time and space to rebuild. I know society still hates synths… but it’s still better than whatever autocratic… oligarchy Marque is planning.” Jaeger wondered for a moment what could have happened if he’d been more active all along. Would it have been worth it? Knowing he’d have had to miss more of the kid’s lives? “What would you have done?” Whispertail seemed to consider this question for a moment and then shrugged. “I do not have children. That is not to say I don’t have biological offspring. I’ve participated in many seasonal heats.” Jaeger wasn’t sure he needed to know that… But the Ravex continued. “Yet, we as a species do not raise our own young. We are raised only by those fit to raise children. In a communal environment. The fact that other species let… just anyone be a parent is… honestly rather appalling. Are you aware of the types of parents that exist?” “Yeah… I’m… pretty aware.” Jaeger nodded slowly. “Madness.” The big xeno shook his head slowly. “Raising children is best left to experts. So, I do not know how you feel. I cannot fully understand it. The only legacy I have is my nation. So in this… I do understand some of your pain. For the first time in centuries the Ravex are not one people under one nation. We are split. This pains me… All the work I had done was also taken from me by radicals and fanatics. I will not live to see a restoration of my people. But I can live to see them survive in some way within the Pact. This is why I have dedicated my life now to its success. This is why I need to know your mind. Are you helping me only because it suits you for now? Or are you in this Jaeger? Are you in this fully and wholly? Not just for your offspring, but all children living within this young nation?” Whispertail approached him then, standing tall as he looked down at Jaeger. “I am with you.” He nodded and reached out to grip the xeno’s forearm, as Whispertail returned the gesture. “Good.” He nodded and released Jaeger’s arm. “I’m going to need you to join Titan.” “What?” Jaeger blinked, not having expected that outcome even remotely. “I need to legitimize your efforts legally. I will, for obvious reasons, leave out your true past. But, your cover identity as an Absolute Dynamics mechanic who was brought up in the emergency reserves during the war makes sense. Both as to why you remained a prospector for so long, and why we need you now.” Whispertail explained as he pulled out a data slate that had some kind of contract on it for Jaeger to read. “Uh… what about… Agent Alvarez? Or Director or whatever his title was?” Jaeger asked as he began to scroll through the document. “Didn’t you have trouble proving his guilt and stuff? What happened with that?” “When it became clear he had directly threatened the life of the daughter of one of the wealthiest individuals within the Pact, as well as spied upon his business things moved much more quickly.” Jaeger arched a brow as he looked back up at Whispertail. What had Lexa’s dad done? “I do not exactly approve of the nature of human politics but this once it was useful to me.” “Did you find any… codes in his things?” Jaeger wasn’t sure what Whispertail new about the codes. “Lexa and her friend Tami have informed me they are for memories. Could you explain?” Whispertail watched him close. “Revenant memories. Supply caches, secret bases, door codes, and obviously evidence of who used to work with them.” It wasn’t all that far off from the truth… “And why are they so valuable to those involved?” Whispertail asked next. “Marque wants them for the supply caches, and codes and more power. Alvarez probably wanted them to help blackmail politicians who escaped the post war purges. I want them because… there’s some small chance my wife’s memories can be saved and I can see her again. I know you guys don’t exactly get married but you do have soul mates right?” Jaeger wasn’t sure if he could appeal to the Ravex’s emotional side but he’d try. “We do. You wouldn’t also be looking for nuclear launch codes would you?” Even as Whispertail asked Jaeger rolled his eyes. “I already have those. I don’t need more. Why do people keep asking me that? We both know irradiated planets don’t do anyone any good.” Even as Jaeger spoke the Ravex nodded. “Very well… The codes will be returned to you. Our experts couldn’t make any sense of them anyway. They keep changing…” Whispertail tapped his chin. “Once you get them all it’s supposed to unlock something.” Jaeger shrugged. “I only half understand it. Even if I get them all I might not be able to get it to work.” That was still entirely true. “Then it is settled.” Whispertail announced and turned to walk out the door. “We must plan our assault immediately.” “Just like that?” Jaeger arched a brow a moment. “You have given me no cause to doubt you thus far. You have shown me only good faith, and while I disagree with your actions I at least understand them. Not all allies are mirror images of one another. Besides we have precious little time. It is essential we defeat him before the Pact Vote.” Whispertail explained as he began walking back towards the hangar. “What vote?” Jaeger asked as he quickly moved to follow. “A convention is being held in Solavis city on how to address the Void remnant that Marque is apparently the leader of. Some would prefer to see us normalize relations and work out some deal in order to secure peace. At the cost of the delicate balance of powers of course. If we show he has been operating in our soil all along to undermine the government then it is unlikely he will achieve this deal. He will be seen as either a hostile nation, or a hostile insurgency. But not the legitimate ruler of the Void. Did you seriously not know any of this?” Whispertail paused to glance back at Jaeger. “No! I told you I had my head in the sand! I barely know what’s going on out there. No one told me!” He waved a hand vaguely around him. “It has been all over the news… Nevermind. Let us end this more simply by defeating him in open combat. I suspect that is where our strengths lie anyway.” Whispertail nodded as they stepped out into the hangar. Ham’s Vantahawk was back, and Jaeger saw him and the others clustered around a display table alongside a familiar Ravex. “First Claw Second Feather Assault Mother Rockdove, nice to see you again.” Jaeger spoke as he approached her, and then his eyes moved past to another bright smiling face even if in a new uniform. “Ah, First Claw Second Feather Shock Commando Twilightbloom, good to see you again as well. Is that your rank?” “Hi Jaeger!” The big xeno ignored the second part of his greeting to press forward and wrap him in a big hug as he gasped and felt his shoulders get partially crushed for a moment until she let go. “Friend Jaeger it is very nice to see you again! I’m remembering things better now!” “That’s good.” He smiled and then rubbed at his left shoulder a moment. “Rockdove, why are you sharing live intel assets with them? I didn’t authorize this.” Whispertail growled out, though in English as if to make a point of berating her in a way Jaeger could understand. “I am sharing intel assets with our allies for the impending assault. You said we were here to secure their support. Are they not our allies?” Rockdove countered. Whispertail glanced sideways a moment as Jaeger. “They are. But I had not declared this fact and you were already sharing this information.” “Then I will accept your inevitable non judicial punishment later.” Rockdove waved it off. “Hey, you guys NJP too? We’re so alike.” Figs said with a big grin. “What are we looking at?” Jaeger asked, ignoring the comment as he focused on a display of a mountain and some sort of fortress within it. “This is the Scissor Mountain complex. I don’t know what they call it.” Ham replied. “This is what we’re going up against. Several anti ship, and anti air batteries here, here, and here. And possibly here.. Several artillery and anti tank bunkers along this approach. C-RAM batteries just… everywhere… Several hangars… And I’m not sure how many barracks.” Jaeger looked across the portions of the map as they lit up. “How did you get this?” If the map was accurate it was going to be a nightmare to assault. “It used to be an Absolute Dynamics complex like we thought. Or… they’d started building it just as the war hit so when I was back at the scrapyard I just did a system ping, found the only network address I didn’t have listed, found a directory, and then downloaded a map. We really really need to find some way to purge the old systems.” Ham shrugged then. “Well shit… Can your cruiser or possibly more than one give it a serious orbital bombardment?” Jaeger asked. “Once they realize his cruiser, or any Pact ships are moving into bombardment position he can knock them out. Or make it a deadly endeavor.” Ham countered. “This is probably why Marque has been so bold lately. He knows we can’t just bomb him without casualties and he’s betting we won’t nuke him. Even if we did it’s a hardened complex. We’d ruin the surface installations and such but we’d still have to root him out.” “Which is where my plan comes in!” Everyone looked over at Brandy-Lynn in surprise as she cast back a manic grin while setting a hand on Kuv’s shoulder. Jaeger frowned at the sight of the Jipasi and glanced at Tanya who noticed his look. “She brought him out of his hiding place before I realized what was going on. Blame her not me.” “I simply needed to confer with our expert here to make sure my plan would work!” She nodded, and then before Jaeger could ask she held up a hand. “No nukes! Totally conventional. Well… actually… completely unconventional but the destructive force is just like… gravity. Well… gravity and explosive stuff. But no nukes! No shards! No earthquakers!” “What’s the plan?” Jaeger finally asked. “I am a woman of secrets! I’m not giving away any info like that!” She huffed and crossed her arms. “You’re not giving away… your plan?” Jaeger sighed heavily and began to rub his face with his hands. “No! I mean… not like the good bits! Listen, does this space station still orbit the planet? The recent battle didn’t mess with it or anything?” She held out a dataslate to Whispertail who squinted at it. “I believe so. No change has been reported in any orbital platforms or debris if that’s what you mean.” He gave Jaeger a look who thought it over. “Did you reactivate one of those old hyper velocity tungsten rod platforms they were working on? Why?” Then he held up a hand a moment later. “Wait no. Let me guess. Because you thought it was cool?” “It is cool. But I made it better! It’s even better now isn’t it Kuv!” She elbowed the Jipasi who gasped a moment at the shove. Though he’d been rather quiet so far. “It’s… I am both terrified and thrilled by the potential. I have professed to being an expert of destruction for so long… and yet somehow I never considered this option. For all my impressive ingenuity I have been outdown. By white trash.” He shook his head slowly, as if actually upset Brandy-Lynn had outdone him somehow. But her grin just grew wider still. “What’s the plan?” Jaeger tried to press. “This will destroy the defenses. If not… shatter the entire complex.” Kuv sighed and gripped his head. “How could I not have foreseen this need! Why did my exemplary Jipasi skills fail me! How could I have prepared so many explosives and yet never considered how to rend a mountain from the face of a planet so righteously!” [Continued in Comments]
Howdy y’all, this was an email that I sent to all my friends that are studying right now/beginning to prepare, so please excuse the language and how personal it is. Some of my friends thought it would be helpful to post on here, and I'm all about sharing the love, so I thought why not. I'm swamped with secondaries right now (I waited until I got my score yesterday to submit them), but I will try to reply to anyones comments ASAP as possible. Greetings friends. After a tumultuous summer I finally got my MCAT score back, and I did well enough that I feel comfortable sharing my MCAT journey and all the resources I used. I got a 525, so I like to think I might have an idea of what I’m talking about and am not full of shit. If you have any questions just let me know, we’re all in this together. I’m gonna try to break this email up by sections, but there’s a chance I might ramble so just deal with it. A couple things to start off with: No one really talks about this but I thought the most important thing is to have a GROWTH MINDSET 😤. No but really, if you wanna do well you need to have confidence in yourself. If you don’t believe that you can get a good score then you probably won’t. Obviously you should set realistic goals and don’t become depressed when you don’t get a 528, but I’ve always thought it was best to aim high. Another thing is that the MCAT isn’t really a test of intelligence, it’s just a test of your work ethic. Before I did any studying I thought I’d be fine since I’ve done well in all my undergraduate classes. NOPE. Even if you have a 4.0, there will be so, so many things you haven’t seen before that you need to learn. I’ve seen a lot of people consign themselves to lower score because they think they’re not as smart as other people. Even if it doesn’t come as easily to you, if you work at it you can do better than you think. On that note, you need to cut the bullshit out of your life and make the MCAT a priority. One thing that really helped free up my time was when I stopped going out 3 days a week. We all love the Wednesday night harp show but know what I love more? Having a stable future. It is sucky, and you won’t have as much time for your friends or relationships. This means you can’t be hanging out with the broskis every other day, you can’t be fucking your ex at 1am, and as mentioned you won’t going to the bars or parties. Yeah it is AIDS, and I’m still salty that I barely hit the bars last semester especially when they are closed for the foreseeable future. However, if you want to do the best you can then need to eliminate distractions. I was lucky enough that I have a great support system, friends, and family to help me through this process. They understood when I couldn’t hang or didn’t text back for a week, and they didn’t get pissed because they knew I had to grind. I have stories of people with friends or significant others that can’t take the lack of contact and it causes problems - I can’t tell you what to do but if that happens to you I would suggest reevaluating who you hang out with and if they have your best goals in mind. Things that are helpful before you even start studying Depending on who you are, there is a chance you are getting this email ahead of time before you even need to worry about the MCAT. In that case congrats on being responsible, but please enjoy your life before this consumes it. Anyway, there are a couple things that I think would be helpful that nobody ever talks about. First and foremost, being able to read quickly is a huge blessing. I have always been a nerd and used to get in trouble for reading during class, so I am lucky in that this wasn’t a huge issue for me. The MCAT is timed and presents a lot of information to process, and if you can read fast that means you can get through the material much quicker, allowing you more time to check on questions that you have flagged. Since you will be making hella flashcards (read below), it will be really helpful if you can type fast. I type all my notes for school so I am fairly proficient (lucky for y’all or there would be no way in hell I would type this novel), however if you are not the best then there are several online typing websites you can use to improve your speed. Since the MCAT is all multiple choice there will be no things that you need to type, but it will save you a tone of time during your review. Finally, this makes sense but try to do your best in your undergrad classes and learn to retain information, not just get the day. If you barely passed orgo the first time you took it then it will take even longer to relearn it for the MCAT. Likewise, even though I got a 4.0 in biochem I didn’t memorize all the pathways, and it was annoying to have to relearn it. If you are in the position, keep these tips in mind and it will save you some time. How I studied (chronologically in general): Tbh I kinda bullshitted my way into MCAT studying for a while, as I didn’t really know anyone else who was studying at the same time. This is one of the things I highly regret, as I feel like I wasted too much time by not having a solid plan. There are services online that will build you a study plan for like $150. I never used them because I can usually self motivate, but if you are one of those people that cannot focus then you might wanna look into it. The first couple months I spent doing content review, which basically means I went through every page of the Kaplan books and took detailed notes. In the end, this was a COLOSSAL waste of time and I highly regret it. Hundreds of hours were put into making notes that I never used again, and those hours would be much better spent doing practice questions or something else. I would still recommend looking over the books because they provide a good basis. However, if I could go back I would probably just skim through them and maybe take light notes. Another thing I will discuss more - you need to be studying using active recall, which for most people means doing practice questions or flashcards. Don’t fall into the trap of reading over notes, thinking “that makes sense,” and then moving on with your life. Studies have shown repeatedly that is simply not the move, it does not work, and it is fake news. No, you’re not better than everyone else and learn better from reading your notes. If you still wanna disagree on this, just delete the email right now and continue to delude yourself. After I did a content review, I couldn’t really tell you what I got done. I have about a 2 to 3 month gap in my memory on how I studied, which is why I suggest using a schedule. I assume I spent most of this time doing practice questions, and I also know that I got through all of UEarth Right around this time is when COVID hit, which really threw a wrench in my plans. I was originally supposed to test on 4/25, but miss rona pushed my test back 2 months to 6/27. I knew that I needed to really get my ass in gear in the last 2 months to get up to my goal (at that time my goal was a 520), so this is when I really started to put the work in. Since my semester had ended, I basically studied everyday, full time. I struggle with waking up in the morning, and although on average I wanted to wake up at 7 everyday I usually got up at 9. I would workout (except when I got lazy which was more often than I’d like to admit), and then make a smoothie and study. My routine usually consisted of doing my Anki review cards in the morning, doing some practice questions, then doing new Anki cards in the afternoon. Something that I struggled with was working at home, and honestly if at all possible do not study in your own house if you can avoid it. I would usually go to the student union or find a nice spot outside, and I was lucky because my roommate moved out and I was able to use his room as an office with my phone in a different room. I would usually try to do a practice test every Wednesday and Sunday, spend the following Thursday and Monday reviewing it, and then spend the other days doing any practice I had left. As I got closer and closer to the test date I was eventually running out of practice questions and had more and more Anki cards, so I would end up just doing hella Anki cards a day. Per Section Tips First off for every section I was kinda surprised with how well I did, a whole lotta luck and everyone’s prayers went into it so excuseeee me if I can’t back up my score. Chemistry/Physics (C/P): This section was a pain in my ass. I had done well in chemistry and physics in class, but at least at MSU you get a cheat sheet for PHY 231/2. The MCAT has no such luxuries, and you will be forced to memorize everything. Everyone stresses on orgo, but if you look at the content breakdown orgo is only 5% of the total content, and if you didn’t feel the need to do that good you could ignore orgo and probably do fine. I noticed that after doing a lot of practices, a lot of the stuff is very repetitive and testing the same things. You need to know your distillations and kinematic equations and how to find the resistance in parallel vs series, but honestly the stuff the section covers isn’t as hard as it seems once you get used to it Critical Analysis of Bullshit aka Reading aka CARS: If C/P is a pain in the ass CARS has been the bane of my existence. “But Paul, how hard can reading be you illiterate fuck? The answer is just there you gotta read it!” Alas, this is not the case. I’ve read all my life, I got perfect scores in ACT and SAT reading, but CARS doesn’t really test your reading ability, it just tests if you can figure out the AAMC’s bullshit logic they use when writing questions. I ended up doing well in this section on the real thing, but honestly it has been one of the hardest things to improve and I can’t really give any huge game changers I used to boost my score. One thing that did help was after each paragraph, I would take a couple seconds to mentally summarize what I just read. Some of the material is insanely boring, and unless you stay engaged it will be hard to retain it and then answer the questions. In addition, you can’t spend time trying to find every answer in the text, as sometimes it will be vaguely implied and you have to ~feel~ it. The official AAMC section banks (discussed below) offer some good practice for this, and I would also recommend signing up for Jack Westin reading passages and doing those. I honestly think CARS is just something you have to practice over time and cross your fingers, do a rain dance, and pray that it will come to you. There is no quick fix and it’s impossible to cram for, so try to just start ASAP Biology/Biochem (B/B): So tbh I have been an intro biology TA for 4 semesters now, meaning I have technically taken the class 5 times and a lot of the basic material is child's play (why you gotta fight with me at cheesecake). First off for the love of god memorize all the amino acids, glycolysis, and the Krebs cycle. You can’t get around it, they will ask questions about it, and it is easy points. Something else that’s important (really applies for the whole exam but) is that learning how everything is interconnected and applying concepts. You can’t really use sheer memorization for this, and a lot of questions I would get right because I was like oh shit this is just like a different concept I learned that I can apply to this. There are many many topics covered in this, so like everything else I would suggest just trying to absorb as much material as you can. Psych/Soc (P/S): Honestly it is a beauty that this section is last because it is the “easiest.” I think that if you are struggling to get your score up, this is probably the easiest section to do it in because it is just memorizing a bunch of terms. Sure you need to rote memorize a lot of stuff, but many questions are just definitions and don’t really test your problem solving that much. I also found that I always finished psych with ample time left, so it gave me time to check on your answers. One thing I’ll warn you about is on the actual test, psych was hard as hell and I felt like it was my worst section by far, while it ended up being my best one. Keep in mind that even though this section is more straightforward than other ones, there will still be some curveballs. Also, process of elimination is essential in this section, as you will often get questions that require you to know 4 different theories - even if one is something you have no clue about, you may be able to eliminate the other options. Actual Test Day and Trusting the Process: Alright first when you take the test (applies to full lengths and every test in general) there are a couple strategies I used that I think helped get my score. First off, when actually taking the test I would usually try to make a quick first pass on it. The MCAT setup lets you flag questions, and if there was a question I had no clue on or one that I guessed on and went back, I would flag it by clicking the flag in the upper right hand corner. This not only allowed me to get through the whole test, but meant that I wouldn’t waste time on hard questions when there were easy questions further in the test. After making my first pass I would then review all the incomplete questions and flagged ones, and if I still had time I would go through the whole test again. More than once I caught a question I hadn’t flagged that I got wrong, so this was helpful. Something else that was helpful was meditating. I don’t think I ever truly meditated, but between sections I would close my eyes and try to focus on my breathing. I know it sounds like some hippie bullshit but it actually works, I think it kinda helps calm you down and stay focused. It is easy to feel like you bombed one section and then let it affect your other sections, but I would try to push this out of my head and think along the lines of “okay even if chemistry sucked you can still do perfect on every other section and kill it.” Something else I wanna discuss is scoring and low yield vs high yield concepts. Low yield and high yield is something that you will hear a lot, and basically refers to content that should be expected to be seen a lot (high yield) and content you may not ever see (low yield). An example of something high yield would be the structure of amnio acids, while something low yield is something like Kuber-Ross end of life stages. Some people only focus on the high yield stuff and ignore the low yield stuff, but personally I think that is a mistake. My philosophy is that you should go into the MCAT feeling like you know everything and are prepared for anything they might throw at you. Obviously you won’t and you will still be confused on some topics, but at least you are more likely to do better. Now if you have limited time that is a different story, but if you are able I would suggest treating everything as high yield. In regards to scoring, something to keep in mind is that it is much much easier to improve at a lower level than at a higher one. The difference between the 515 I scored in March and the 525 I got in June was only a difference of ~15 questions right, and represented hundreds of hours of studying. Tbh, I theoretically could’ve gotten a 528 if I had gotten only 3 more questions right. For that reason (at least in my opinion), it is kind of hard to study for a score past 525, and that entire range (98-100th percentile) is based on your content knowledge and luck. If you are already scoring high you will probably notice the lack of advice and guides online to scoring in that range, as most things are focused on getting you to a 515 (generally most people’s target). Similarly, if you start out at a 490 it is going to be much easier to get to a 500 then from a 500->510, and a 510->520. Just something to keep in mind as you format your plan of attack. As you approach your test day, most advice says to just relax and not do any material, but since I’m the kid that will still be looking at his notes while the test is being passed out in the front of class, I found this hard to do. At the end of the day however, the studying you do the last day and honestly in the last week won’t make that much of a difference. If you have been scoring in the 510 range on all your official FL’s, do not expect that you will suddenly get a 520 on test day. When you take the test, you will go to the Pearson Vue testing center (leave your phone in the car), sign in, get your palm scanned and photo taken, and then be led to the testing room. You will be asked to flip out your pockets, and the proctor (in my case a student) will lead you to the room. Keep in mind that if you want, you can ask the proctor for some disposable earplugs, in addition to the over the ear headphones that are next to your computer. Miraculously, I found that my room was actually pretty quiet, and I had no trouble concentrating. I took the test in the middle of COVID, which means they shortened the test to allow for 3 tests a day in order to fit everybody in. Because of this, the test was a little under 6 hours long instead of the 7+ hours it normally is. I had a smoothie for breakfast and went to the bathroom before, and I chose not to take any of the breaks. If you feel like you need a drink of water or to take a piss, keep in mind that it takes some time to get checked in and out, so really your 10 min break turns into 5. Now after you took the test, do your best not to freak out. Personally I got jimmy johns, then sat in my car and called my dad. I felt confident on FL4 but felt like I bombed the actual test, and all I could focus on were the questions I had likely gotten wrong. This is normal, everyone feels that way, and odds are you didn’t fail. I then spent the next 2 weeks tweaking and reading horror stories of people who did good in practice and then bombed their actual test - for the love of god don’t do this, try not to do something school related, and just relax. It is out of your hands and there is nothing you can do, so don’t worry about it because I bet you did great. How to take a full length (FL): If you do any research online, you will likely see people refer to something called FL’s. These stand for full length tests, and they are released by AMCAS, the company that makes the MCAT. These tests are the best gauge of how well you will do on the MCAT, as I’m pretty sure they are just old MCATS. You should pretend that each FL is the real thing - that means taking it in a quiet environment, no notes, phone away, etc. There are currently 4 AAMC FL’s, which means 4 practice test (representing more than 1000 practice questions) Now, here’s where I go against the thread. The conventional wisdom is to take your full lengths within a month of your actual test, and your test will be ±2 points of the average of your FL’s. However, I was originally supposed to test April 25th, and when it got pushed back to June 27th I had already taken FL1-3. This means I couldn’t take the average, since there were 300+ hours of studying done between FL3 and FL4. Personally, I find I learn a lot from reviewing practice questions, and as such it’s going to be natural to improve on subsequent ones. A lot of people only focus on actually taking the test, but actually reviewing the test is essential, and probably one of the most important things to do when studying for the MCAT. Every question is multiple choice, and therefore has 1 right answer and 3 wrong answers (except the questions like I, I & II, II & III but fuck those questions). This means that when doing any sort of practice, you should not only know why the right answer is right but why the other 3 are wrong. If you can do this for every question, you know your stuff. To test if you’re doing it right, if you were to look through old practices you should be getting almost every question right. If not, you probably need to focus on how you review information. My scores on the full lengths were 514, 515, 513 (rip CARS) and 524. A note on third party practice tests - do NOT trust scores from third party tests, at least not at face value. First of all, the companies have a financial incentive to make them harder. You might notice that companies like Kaplan have a money back guarantee if you don’t do better on the actual test than their practices. To make sure you never claim it, they make their tests way harder than the real thing. For reference, I got 510 on a Kaplan FL and scored 524 on FL4 the next week. Furthermore, the AAMC has a very specific format that you need to get used to, a format not used by other test making companies. This holds especially true in CARS - basically disregard any 3rd party cars test, as it is fake news. Anki I was going to throw this in the section below but I realized that Anki was so instrumental in my success it deserves it’s own separate header. Anki is basically a flashcard app, but it has some features that make it amazing. When you use online flashcards like quizlet, it will basically have your cards in a pile and there is no way of ranking them. With Anki, whenever you look at a card you can rank it by difficulty, and then cards that are easy will go to the back of your pile while difficult ones will stay at the top. That way you can maximize your time. What you should be doing is basically making an Anki card on anything and everything. This includes right and wrong questions, things that you kinda know but not quite, things you see online that you aren’t 100% confident of. If there is a topic that you don’t know well enough to teach to another person, you should make a card for it. This is mentioned below, but in addition to making your own cards I would use a master deck. That is basically a compendium of all the knowledge that will be on the test. They are usually not super in depth, but offer a great way to get a general understanding of stuff. The important thing after making the cards is actually using them, and this is where I dropped the ball. I didn’t really start going through my Anki decks until a little over a month before the MCAT, and since I had accumulated over 6000 cards including the master deck it meant I was doing more than a thousand reviews a day. Anki is made for long term learning not cramming, and I would recommend working on cards simultaneously as you make them. I am not an expert on Anki, but there are a lot of YouTube videos and resources out there that can explain it better than I. I would also recommend downloading the Heatmap add-on to track your progress and to motivate you to keep up with it, as well as the image resizer add on to make it easier to add screenshots. Also something that made studying easier for me was that I would often do my Anki cards while hammocking. Obviously it would be difficult depending on your location/the season, but I love outdoors and it was much better for me to work on a deck outside rather than cramped inside an office. Some of you have requested I send my Anki decks, which I did because once again, we are all in this together. However, I would generally warn against using other peoples flashcards or Anki decks. If we both took the same test there would be questions I thought were easy that you thought were hard, and vice versa. It is gonna be a waste of time, since your study plan should be custom to YOU, nobody else. Seriously though, download Anki and use it. Without Anki I would not have done well. Plz. Other Resources I Used: AAMC Official Material - This includes the full lengths I previously discussed, as well as other section banks with official practice questions. These are very helpful, as they are written by AMCAS and the MCAT is written in a specific way. You will notice as you study more that while questions test certain knowledge, but official questions are written differently than 3rd party ones. Among the AAMC resources are something called Section Banks. These are basically the hardest questions that are likely to show up on the test. Don’t fret when you get half of them wrong, because they’re designed to be hella hard. They are another great resource to study from, because if you can nail the hardest content then everything else will seem easy. UEarth - UEarth can straight up have my children, it is probably one of if not the best resource you can use. Basically UEarth is a paid service that has 1900 practice questions, styled exactly like the MCAT. Questions are broken up by sections (Chem, Physics, Bio, Biochem, Psych, Soc, Reading), and furthermore by subsections (for example Chem could have circuits, magnets, thermo, mirrors, etc). UEarth allows you to make custom practice tests, and you can choose the type of questions you want. The real beauty of UEarth is that they give detailed explanations for every question, including why the wrong answer is wrong. This allows you to figure out why you chose the wrong answer (which as mentioned, is important). I went through UEarth on my first pass over spring break (and made Anki cards for them), and then went back over a month or so later and redid all of the questions I had gotten wrong previously. This was important, because if I still got them wrong it meant that I didn’t learn the subject. Kaplan - Most people purchase a set of books, and the 2 most common are the Princeton Review and Kaplan. They’re basically the same, so flip a coin or whatever. One thing that is nice with Kaplan is you have access to their online services. At the end of each chapter in the book there is a 15 question quiz, and they have all these online when you make an account. They also provide you with 3 free practice tests, which are nice. NextStep Full Lengths - As I’ve mentioned, I learn best when doing practice questions. NextStep is a third party company that sells practice tests and section banks. Even though they are very deflated, they still are great for testing your content knowledge. I got the bundle of 6 tests, and was able to do so when they had a sale. Depending on how long you are studying for, I would definitely use NS tests if you can. JackWestin CARS practice - JackWestin is apparently just a dude that is good at reading. CARS is one of the hardest sections on the MCAT, and he has a free email service where you sign up and they send you one passage a day. I would recommend doing that literally after you’re done reading the novel I’m writing right now, and then actually do it. I had like a 3 month period where I would just delete the emails every day, and that is stupid. If you do one passage a day you’ll spend only ~10 minutes, but you’ll be doing the equivalent of an entire CARS practice every week. MileDown Anki Deck - Legend has it that Mr. Miledown was an extremely gracious person sho spent his gap year making a comprehensive review of all the MCAT material. The Miledown deck is an Anki deck of a few thousand flashcards that encompass all of the knowledge that should be on the MCAT. Theoretically, if you go through the entire deck and learn everything then you will know everything that will be on the MCAT. It can be downloaded from reddit if you google it. There are several other master decks (the other one I know of is Jack Sparrow), I only used the MileDown one and I was fine but do some digging. Reddit - this was also instrumental for my MCAT success. I was never big into reddit, but I made an account specifically when preparing. There is an MCAT subreddit with an absolute wealth of knowledge. If you have a question, I can almost guarantee that someone has asked it before. There are tons of people that are apparently altruistic af, and will take time out of their day to give detailed answers. Reddit is also huge when reviewing your FL’s. If you have a tricky question google “reddit MCAT FL# C/P #” and there will probably be multiple threads with different explanations. Reddit also has some funny memes and people will post very helpful tips or study sheets. There’s also lots of posts like what I’m writing now, where people will outline their study strategy and give tips. I think one of the reasons people do so bad on the MCAT (after all 50% of people score below a 500) is simply because they are not aware of what is out there. Stuff attached to this email - I attached some of my favorite resources that I used when preparing. Highlights include the Khan Academy document and The Miledown Overall Review pdf. Some of the website links are to very specific topics, but ones that I struggled with and found helpful. It’s helpful, and ctrl f is your friend. I also attached my Anki decks. What I Wish I Did Differently: I obviously got a great score, however there were several things that I would have changed. As mentioned, I wasted a lot of time on my content review. Unless you are actively recalling the content, there is very little you will learn from reading and taking notes. I could have easily shaved a couple hundred hours off my study time if I kept this in mind. If I had an actual schedule to follow, I would definitely have been more efficient - some people find that it helps to have a study buddy to keep each other accountable. In addition, I should have been more diligent at following a routine and waking up early. Especially in summer with my test 2 months away, it was really easy to sleep in until 10. I would try to remind myself that if I woke up 3 hours earlier, that means I can finish 3 hours earlier. In the same vein, it is important to set boundaries while you study and try to enjoy your life. I would often try to “study” until 10 at night, which usually consisted of me going on my phone while my laptop was open with flashcards. This is just stupid, either you are studying or not; you can’t halfass it. Miscellaneous You might have noticed that I didn’t do any sort of standardized program. It may work for some, but personally I find that when you’re being taught with everyone else, it is very easy to either get ahead and be wasting your time or fall behind and struggle. I am also poor. Many people like private tutoring, however that is also extremely expensive and many times it is easier to find the answer yourself. In a similar thread, you need to keep in mind that MCAT companies are for profit companies. This is where my cynicism will show through - the primary goal of these companies is to maximize profit, not get you the best score. Of course they want you to do well so they will look good, and I’m sure individual teachers do care, however as a whole they are trying to sell you something. As part of my Kaplan book set I was able to have a 30min call to help plan for studying. When I asked her about other resources like UEarth and Nextstep, it was evident that she was basically told by her boss not to endorse anyone but Kaplan, so she steered me back towards their own products. They are not praying on your downfall, but just keep that in mind when you get advice from someone. Also if you can’t tell already, the MCAT is hella expensive. Including the fee for taking the test, I spent around $1100 throughout the whole process. I was lucky to be in a position where I was able to work over the semester to save up, but it is something to think about. Something that also really helped me was an app called Forest. It is an app that will grow mini virtual trees when you don’t use your phone for a given amount of time. Growing trees gets you coins, which you can use to unlock more trees and even use to get the company to plant real trees. It sounds cheesy, but it was really helpful for me and helped me stay off my phone. A note on mental health: The MCAT is a real bitch, and I knew of lots of people that I either knew personally or saw online that had their mental health really affected. I am lucky enough to not suffer from high anxiety or other disorders, but given how stressful it was for me I can’t imagine dealing with it on top of other shit. At the end of the day, the MCAT is just another standardized test and the score doesn’t define who you are. At worst you would have to retake it, and even if you have to take a gap year it is not the end of the world. Ik you might think it is easy for me to say since I got a good score, but even after I got the score in the back of my mind I was like hmm well if I had gotten XYZ right maybe I would’ve done even better. Unless you’re a genius you probably won’t get a 528, and that is okay. Do the best you can, remind yourself that med school admissions are holistic, and at the end of the day remember to take time for self care. Alright folks that’s a wrap. I think I included most of my thoughts, but I’m sure I forgot a few things. Let me know if you have any other questions, you can reply to this email or just text me. Feel free to send this to your friends, I really don’t care and I want everyone to do as best they can on the MCAT. We are all smart and capable and we will all get into medical school and be doctors someday. I believe in you. Everything you need to know in science: https://jackwestin.com/resources/mcat-content/aamc-mcat-science-outline Electrostatic Equations: https://www.reddit.com/Mcat/comments/ha9rff/tips_for_understanding_electrostatics_instead_of/ Understanding linear to chair conformations of sugars: https://www.organicchemistrytutor.com/converting-between-fischer-haworth-and-chair-forms-of-carbohydrates/ Converting 3rd party FL scores to actual ones: http://joel.vg/converting-3rd-party-mcat-scores-to-actual-scores/ Memorizing Erikson stages: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BcwntGAB34 Link to MileDown MCAT Overall Review (too large to attach): https://www.reddit.com/MCAT2/comments/96hwed/umiledown_s_god_tier_review_sheets/
LCS broadcast would be much better with bigger focus on prediction/pregame analysis
More serious pregame analysis would greatly improve the quality of the LCS broadcast. And by "serious," I mean both paying a serious amount of time to a predictions segment (whether it's hot takes or honest debate or stats related arguments) and acting more serious and using stats/professional analysis/betting odds, as opposed to Flyquest Fish. LCS spends too much time postgame. Almost all of the broadcast that isn't the actual game should be pregame. Look at the UFC. The only thing that matters post-fight is the interview with the winner. Pregame, they show fighter interviews, clips from their training, face-offs, walk-ins, announcements, tale-of-the-tape, betting odds, caster commentary, and more. The NFL spends hours pregame, discussing who's going to win and why. Their postgame is often cutting directly to another game or doing one on-field interview and moving to other programming. One main source of this imbalance is that League has no true post-game shows or highlight shows. They don't have an NFL Tonight or SportsCenter style show to show highlights and dissect games later, so they do it immediately after games, which really slows down and dumbs down broadcasts. If you watched the game, you don't really need it explained immediately after. Get rid of all the post-game analysis, and make yourself a half-hour or hour long highlights and analysis show that airs on your Twitch or YouTube on Monday nights, that covers results from the major regions. That would grow viewership in non-native regions really, really well. I want pregame where analysts spend longer than thirty seconds on their game predictions. I want to see stats comparing every lane and every relevant measurement. I want to see actual betting lines from actual sportsbooks. But what I really, really want to see is a couple minute break between champ select and game start, where it goes back to the expert analysts to discuss how champ select has changed their predictions or expectations. I think a look at how champ select changes the betting odds of winning would be a cool feature, similar to what the UFC does with highlighting how certain sportsbooks have updated the odds between rounds of a fight. I know the meme is immediately that LCS would need expert analysts. I'm not going to weigh in on that. But there are many sites that offer betting, including all kinds of props on the LCS, which means there are some very, very expert analysts that exist, because sportsbooks don't just throw numbers out there. There are insanely accurate analysts that work for these online books, LCS would just have to find them. (Yes, I'm a UFC mark. Yes, i think betting and endorsing betting would be great for League, regardless of player or viewer age; Bud Light is one of their major sponsors. Yes, I know this was TL;DR.)
[OC] We intend no harm - Chapter 23 (Hynian Adrenaline)
Hello again. Well well well. This chapter took a bit longer, because I had to deal with friends and food and fun. All that stuff keeping me from writing ;) As usual, I wasn’t sure how things would turn out. But now that the chapter is complete, I’m satisfied. Have fun reading. First | Wiki | Previous | Next Captain Zork was standing in the crammed map room. He listened to Zokosh reporting the events that had led to his weapons officer’s death. When he heard that she had been attacked while showering he felt bad that he had to question her. But it was the standard procedure for murder cases. Luckily Zokosh knew this procedure. She had stated at the beginning of the ‘interrogation’ that she would take no offence and he was just doing his job. While he listened to her, he noticed that Zokosh did not seem to be distressed over the events. Her voice was as calm and steady as if she was reporting a slight malfunction in an unimportant subsystem. When she described how she pierced him with her knife, her voice took on an subtle sharpness and disdain. It was easily missable, but when the captain picked it up he felt its icy chill creeping down his spine. He instantly hoped to never incur her wrath. After the Captain had tried to poke a few holes into her story, as it was mandated, he told her to get some rest. While Zokosh went to her quarters to properly dry off, the captain went to the crime scene. Karom the ships medic was already examining the body. The Captain told him Zokosh’s story. “That matches the evidence.” Karom pointed at the dead hynian male with the combat knife sticking in his skull. “But there was something I found strange when I looked at the crime scene.” “Something strange? What do you mean?” The Captain asked looking at the corpse and than at the shower stall trying to find something odd. “Look at the body. There are no knife wounds. A lot of scratches from claws and some bruises. But if she had the knife in her hand, shouldn’t there be at least some stab marks?” He bent a bit forward and jabbed his hand repeatedly against an imaginary opponent. Now the captain understood immediately. “If you look at the scratches on his chest, she could have stabbed him a dozen times. Maybe she had to pick up the knife from somewhere.” He looked at the Stall. It was the easy to clean kind, just a flat wall with a single push button for activating the shower. No shelf to store shower gel, shampoo or knifes. Zokosh’s stuff was still standing on the floor. “I can’t imagine her picking up a knife from the floor during a fight. I heard that a crewmember had seen her putting the knife between her lips. But you told me, he had put his hand on her mouth.” Karom said and showed the captain the corpse’s right palm with the bloody bite marks. Zork’s ears twitched while he was thinking. “You're right. Something is strange.” The medic pulled the bloody knife out of the body’s skull with his gloved hand. Then he looked at the injury. He gently closed the knife's wound with his fingers. “Look at that.” In the middle of the closed cut was still a round hole. “What kind of weapon would leave a small hole like this?” Captain Zork asked confused. “Hmm … something like a stiletto dagger, maybe? But why hide the wound with the knife? And then again 'where would she keep it'.” The old medic was thinking hard. “I heard some rumors about the Secret Order. Allegedly they are using...” “Shut it!” Hissed the Captain causing the Medic to flinch. “Don’t talk about them.” After the captain had calmed down he continued. “So, he was attacking her in the shower and she killed him in self defense?” “Yes, Captain. The evidence backs it up. It looks like he was waiting in the stall at the far end for his opportunity. After Admiral Xem was able to struggle free, she pierced his skull. If I could do an autopsy, I could tell you if he died of blood loss or because she broke through the bone and penetrated the brain.” Stated the medic. Zork sighed. “Well, that was not the kind of penetration he had hoped for.” He had known the dead guy only for a few months, so he wasn’t too attached. In hynian culture women did not have the same rights as men had. They were meant to be pleasant and nice to look at. Just like the beautiful flowers in the imperial palace’s gardens had to be protected from pests trying to feast on them, it was the honor and duty of men to do the same. Ironically some of the most beautiful flowers in the gardens were poisonous enough to kill any pest touching them. Of course the Captain had never been in those gardens, but every hynian knew about that metaphor. “Do you still need that?” The captain pointed at the former weapons officer. After the Medic flicked his ear dismissively, the Captain grabbed the dead guy’s jumpsuit and ripped his rank insignias off. Then he wrapped the jumpsuit around the corpses neck and dragged him across the ship. The rumor has spread fast around the Cheshnak Ra. So the crew gave their best to not notice the corpse. All of them knew what Zork was about to do. A captain was responsible for his crew, so it was his job to rid them of their collective shame. When he reached the trash compactor the first officer was waiting for him. He did not salute, it would have been a disgrace to the emperor to do that in front of trash. Except for the FO only the crew members working in this section were present, they were focusing intensely on their mundane tasks. “For the report. He was not killed in action. He had been trialed, judged and executed for sexual assault. He has become the pest in the garden. Thus he was stripped of his honor as a man and his rank as an officer. He will not be permitted into the afterlife. His family will be informed that he is neither be named nor grieved. He will have never existed.” After the FO had filed the record, the captain hoisted the corpse into the trash compactor and closed the lid. The crushed and mangled corpse would be disposed with the rest of the Cheshnak Ra’s waste. In cynian culture the body had to decompose to let the soul reach the afterlife. Pressing a body into a cube and letting it drift through hyperspace was the ultimate punishment. It would take a few days until it would be time to dispose of the trash. Of course they could throw it out right now, but nobody dared to give this pest even that amount of attention. Later someone would sneakily dispose of the tainted jackpot as well. ++++++ After Admiral Zokosh had returned to her quarters, she took off her jumpsuit and started to dry herself properly. Once she was done, she climbed into her bed and switched the light off. She had been lying in the darkness for a while, but she was unable to sleep. Her blood was still saturated with adrenalin. With an annoyed hiss she got up again, put her clothes on and left her quarters. Most species especially prey races had a flight response when they faced danger. Some had a fight or flight response. Hynians instinctive reaction was always to fight, they had to willfully work against their biology to flee or surrender. Luckily their bodily reaction was not as strong during ‘unpersonal’ fights like spacebattles. A crew on adrenaline could not operate a spaceship properly. But in ground combat or even hand to hand combat, their instincts would still trigger the same chemical processes as eons before. Hynian adrenalin was an impressive ‘drug’. They produced more of it than any other species and it was way more potent. There are reports of hynians who ripped tendons because their muscles were overstimulated in particularly intense life or death situations. The other thing that was special was that the adrenaline would not dissipate for a few hours. Zokosh knew that she needed her brain to realize that the threat was gone. Seeing your enemy dead before you would normally do the trick, but the pest’s death was so quick, that her brain refused to stop producing adrenaline. There were two more ways to get rid of it. She was not in the mood for one of the methods right now. It would also undermine her authority and her self respect. So she took the other option. Soon after she left her quarters the Admiral reached one of the storage rooms. She opened the door and looked inside. Some of the night shift who were on standby were training with weights or sparring with each other. Even the best life support systems could not get rid of the humid smell of fresh sweat. The one crewman who was facing the door almost dropped his weights when he saw the Admiral. Of course everyone knew what happened a few hours ago. Zokosh flicked her ear signaling him to keep on. Then she walked over to the half naked guy pummeling the punching bag. His blue skin was glistening in the artificial light of the makeshift gym. Zokosh tapped him on the shoulder. “Excuse me, but I really neeeed that right now.” She blushed a bit, when her voice had such an seductive tone. With this amount of pheromones in the air her body seemed to have considered option one against her will. The crewman looked surprised at her and then at the punching bag. It took him a moment to understand, then he smiled and stepped back. “All yours, Admiral.” “Thanks, Crewman. As long as I’m off duty, you can call me by my name. If you think you earned it, you can call me Zok.” She responded returning the smile. This offer was directed to everyone present. Then she started to beat the punching bag with a combination of many fast jabs mixed with some heavy blows. She was quick on her feet evading imaginary attacks. From time to time she sprinkled some kicks into the mix. The crewmen who were training were giving their best to not mess up their training routines, while watching the woman dish out one hell of a beating. Of course all of them had heard how she toyed with that guy before she boarded the Cheshnak Ra. But seeing her go all out was a sight to behold. Zokosh was the beautiful daughter of a duke, so she could be seen as the epitome of what hynian women should be like. Right now she did not give a fuck on proper conduct. She wanted that adrenaline out of her system and it felt great pummeling away at the sandbag. Because of the adrenaline her stamina had increased about tenfold. She could not care less about sweating or the eyes that she could feel on her. The crewman had grown up in hynian society, so they were raised to see women as beautiful but fragile. Some of them were shocked to see how intense Zokosh could be. Some were discovering that they really liked that kind of woman. After 15 minutes of a nonstop beating, Zokosh decided to get more air. Without a second thought she unzipped her jumpsuit to her midriff and let it fall from her back. She was wearing a sports bra, because she had anticipated that this might happen. After she tied her sleeves around her waist she continued the pummeling. Wearing a tight top like a sports bra during training was not that uncommon. But because the crewmembers weren’t expecting her to do that and because all they had on this ship were data sticks with red dots, they looked at her surprised and a bit too intrigued. Zokosh did not care. Maybe that was caused by the slowly decreasing amounts of adrenaline in her blood. One of the guys who were sparring earlier was walking over to Zokosh. He was shirtless and had wrapped his sleeves around his waist just like her. “You look like you need something better than that old bag.” He flicked an ear at her, obviously joking with whatever he meant. His fellows laughed amused. Zokosh smirked at him, while beating the living daylight out of the punching bag. “You want to help me get rid of the adrenaline? I’m sure your idea involves that mat. But are you brave enough to take me on in front of your friends? Might be embarrassing, if you were finished after a few seconds.” She was breathing heavily while talking. Goshk looked surprised for a moment. He had expected her to reprimand him or make him clarify that he had sparing in mind. For a moment he thought about trying his luck today and offer her some private practise somewhere else, but then he decided against it. “I would be totally up for that but I meant sparing.” “Brave enough to admit, but smart enough to make the right choice.” Zokosh responded smirking impishly, not revealing what she was thinking about that. Before she went to the sparring area, she took a chug of water from her bottle. While they were taking positions the other eleven crewmen surrounded them. Zokosh looked at them her heart was still pumping fast. “I can’t go back to the sandbag after fighting for real. So you guys better get ready, if Goshk goes down to fast.” After she said that, they were discussing the order in which they were facing her. If you were to late in line, you might not get a chance at all. If you were to far in the front, you would most likely get beaten quickly. The best places were somewhere in the middle. Grappling with this sweaty women sounded alluring to all of them. “Any rules other than the standard?” Asked Goshk. “Hmm … If you try to cop a feel, I’ll knock you out. Except for that, no holds barred.” “Fair enough.” One of the spectators gave the starting signal and the sparring partners started to circle each other. Goshk knew that if he waited for to long Zokosh would recover her stamina, so he had to make his move quickly. He lowered his center of gravity and tried to grapple the Admiral. She dashed sideways and hooked his foot with hers, causing him to stumble. In this situation she could have brought him down and locked him to the mat easily, but she wanted this fight to last longer than one exchange. Zokosh let him turn towards her before she attacked him with a flurry of punches and jabs. Of course she did not go all out on him, like she did with the punching bag. She used just enough force to make sure he would not want to get hit. He protected himself pretty well and used an opening to start his counter. The spectators were watching the fight in suspense. The two opponents were enjoying the spar just as much as the spectators. This time Zokosh did not have to show off, so she held herself just enough back to keep the fight enjoyable. She was sure that Goshk must have noticed it. After a few minutes Goshk managed to grapple her, making him the crew member with the closest contact to a women in months. Zokosh held against it, trying to topple the bigger Hynian. Her heart was still beating fast and now it was pounding against the males chest. She did not notice it, but the spectators were quite envious of him. After both of them showed some impressive footwork, Zokosh managed to hook Goshk's leg. All she needed to do now was to push her upper body a bit more against her opponent to throw him off balance. Goshk fell backwards and Zokosh slipped out of the grapple. When he hit the ground, she grabbed him and placed him in an armlock. Her leg was bent and her shin was pressing against his face while she was locking his arm whith hers. To do that she clamped his forearm between her upper arm and her flank, while holding his upper arm with her hands. She did not use enough pressure to cause him pain, but her grip left him nowhere to go. “Do you give up?” Zokosh smiled victoriously. Her adrenaline levels were now dropping fast. “You got me.” he replied with her leg in his face. “You held back, didn’t you?” “It’s more fun that way. I hope you don’t want to complain.” She let go of him and laid down on the mat breathing exhausted. She was still smiling. The reduced adrenaline make her realize, that she was showing the crewmembers way more than they should see. Hynian adrenaline was one hell of a drug. She knew she should cover herself, but she still needed some time to cool down. Luckily the spectators were surprisingly decent. They had openly watched her pummel the sandback and they had looked at her during the fight, but now that she was lying on her back breathing heavily, they went back to their training routines. Maybe they had looked enough earlier. Whatever the reason, it gave Zokosh the time she needed. Goshk had already gotten up. He was not ‘high’ on adrenaline, so he had noticed how her chest felt against his. He could have sworn that he felt her heart pounding. While he was drinking from his bottle, he looked at the half naked smiling woman. His ears raised for a moment, then they flicked in opposite directions. “I’m going to get a shower. I’m all sweaty and stuff.” He said to no one in particular. One of the less buff, more cheeky crewmen responded. “Better take a long shower, to get all that ‘sweat’ out … off. I meant get that sweat off.” The rest of the guys chuckled, but it didn't bother Goshk. They were just jealous that he got a good reason to take a shower. Zokosh did not react, maybe she did not even hear it. She was focusing on herself. She savored feeling her heart rate slow down and her muscles relax. When had finished her post adrenaline rush ‘meditation’ she got up and put the upper part of her jumpsuit back on. “Thanks for letting me rest.” Zokosh was pulling her zipper back up. “I guess i need another shower.” She said to herself. The cheeky guy responded again. “Don't worry, we’ll stay here. Except you want someone guard the door.” She smiled at him. “Thanks for the offer, but that won't be necessary. Good night, guys.” “Sleep well, Admirell.” Responded the group. Zokosh flicked her ears in an amused way and left. ‘When did they come up with that?’ When the Admiral had left the improvised gym. One of the guys laughed. “Dude, you could have told her that Goshk is ‘showering’. If she goes there now she'll totally run into him.” “You could have also told her. But you didn’t. Maybe they go for a round two in the shower? I don’t want to rob Goshk of that chance.” The cheeky one laughed again. “You know that she just stabbed a guy in there, might be a bit strange to do it.” “She looked like a case of adrenaline rush, not like she was bothered or something like that. The law says that he is to be forgotten. So doing it right there would be fine. At least I would totally do it there if I had the chance.” He explained. “You would do it anywhere if you had the chance.” The guys laughed. “Hey, wanna bet if they do it?” Asked one of them ++++++ Zokosh was writing a message on the datapad taped to the door. ‘Attention. I'm taking a quick shower. Please do not disturb. Zokosh.’ After she did that, she opened the door and waltzed in. She blushed when she saw Goshk walking naked from the bench to the shower stalls. Goshk had expected to have the shower all to himself, it was the middle of the night after all. He looked surprised and confused at Zokosh. Than he looked down on himself and at the reason why he needed that shower. The female Hynian bit her lower lip while she was looking at him. “Can you keep a secret?” She asked. “Hm? I guess?” He replied still confused. Zokosh closed the door behind her. “That’s not good enough. I’m an Admiral and a noble. Can you keep a secret?” She repeated her question, slowly unzipping her jumpsuit. Now it finally clicked for him. “Yes! I’m really good at keeping secrets!” “That’s good. If someone asks, I have seen you in your underpants we had a laugh and then I went to bed.” She was stripping fast letting her clothes trail behind her. When she reached the enamored male, she pushed him eagerly into the shower stall. First | Wiki | Previous | Next I wasn’t sure, if they should hook up. At first I wanted to add the shower scene as a funny mishap, but then I thought, that the two got some good chemistry. I hope you enjoyed it :) good night.
DD: Covid cases are spiking...but buy these instead of SPY puts!
Hello fellow Autists! Longtime reader, first DD post for me. Like the rest of you, I see the writing on the wall with the spiking cases in Florida, Arizona, California, Texas (I am in Houston), etc. and want to profit from the next market move. I believe many of these states will be slow to respond with effective quarantine measures, and anecdotally I have seen very limited compliance with social distancing and mask guidelines. Due to the long incubation period of SARS-CoV-2, the case count spike we are seeing is most likely from exposure 2-3 weeks ago, and opportunities for spread have only increased since then. Additionally, a large percentage of the population is unable to interpret widely available public data and believes the increased case count is a fabrication because "we are testing more". However, a linear regression of the data for Texas shows the percent of tests that come back positive has increased from an average of ~4% 30 days ago to ~12% now, while the average number of tests have only increased by 10-20%. It is very clear from the data that we are seeing community spread at an exponential rate. Many will not come to this realization and alter their behavior until one of their loved ones becomes very sick. This will allow several more weeks of community spread to go on before R0 is brought back below 1. If the death count gets high enough, fear will take over and many will shelter in place again, either voluntarily or by mandate. The V-shaped recovery thesis becomes much harder to defend at this point, to say the least. For those of you still reading, you are probably thinking "I know all of this, how do I make those sweet, sweet tendies, fuckface?". Most of you are banking on SPY puts, but I think you might have better odds at a roulette table. The Fed has killed price discovery, and can severely restrict the risk/reward ratio of bearish positions with literally an infinite arsenal. The retail investors know this and will buy any dips, and any new shelter-in-place orders gives Jerome a fantastic excuse to fire up the digital printer again. Don't fight the Fed, and don't bet against a retail-mania driven bubble. However, the Fed is not interested in propping up the price of oil (gasp!). Chart with colors and lines and shit so you know I is tarded West Texas Crude dropped from a pre-COVID high of $65/bbl to futures at negative $37/bbl as a result of the demand destruction from worldwide quarantines. During this same period, an ETF that inversely tracks crude at a 2x clip, SCO, went from $12 to an intra-day peak of $67. SCO spiked twice more in the following days as crude underwent wild price swings. Fast-forward to today. Crude just formed a double-top chart pattern $40.50, exactly at the 61.8% Fibonacci Retracement level from it's January 2020 peak to it's April 20th low. This all-time low occurred an entire month after SPY bottomed on March 23rd, and this is because crude prices are actually driven by...wait for it...supply and demand. In other words, crude is still driven by fundamentals, while the stock market is (currently) not. In fact, government bailouts of the struggling US shale oil companies would only allow them to continue to flood the market, further driving down the price of oil. The US Energy Information Administration has forecasted 2H 2020 crude prices to average $37/bbl based on a V-shaped recovery (https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/report/global_oil.php). We are currently at $40/ bbl based on OPEC+ compliance and recovery optimism, and we aren't even into Q3. There are too many variables for me to accurately predict actual crude demand in a W-shaped scenario as subsequent infection spikes slow the world's energy demands down again, but a gain in crude stocks will immediately send prices falling. I would expect crude to look for support near the 50% retracement level around $32/bbl, which would push SCO approximately 40% higher than current due to the daily compounded 2x leverage. Another wave of government mandated lockdowns would likely see crude fall to $25 or below, which would put SCO at around $44. Another Oil-geddon scenario would put SCO -at $60 or more. EIA 2021 Forecast Risks Nothing boosts oil prices like a foreign conflict, and tensions have certainly been on the rise this year. An airstrike on a tanker would be a bad headline for this position. Also further OPEC+ cuts would not be good news for me, but many of the participating countries are facing recessionary pressure and may violate their agreements to attempt to save their own budgets. If I am missing any other risks, please let me know. TL;DR COV-SARS-2 is once again pressuring global energy demand. The Fed can fuck your SPY puts, but might actually hurt oil prices. Go long on SCO or go with UCO puts. Choose expiration and strike price per your risk tolerance. Buying SCO directly will decouple the risk associated with trying to time the market. But I know how safe you guys like to play it, so load up on those puts! 🚀🚀🚀 Trade Updates 6/24, 10:00 - I have 7,000 shares of SCO cost averaged in at $17.50. After peaking at $41.62 yesterday, WTI is now trading below $39 on news that crude stocks are building while COVID cases continue to rise exponentially in parts of the US and the world. 6/24, 12:15 - RSI hit oversold on the bounce, so I bought 2,000 more shares. Shaping up to be an excellent day. 10% plus daily gains on an almost 200k position with lots more room to run. Also interesting to note that crude stocks actually gained today even before second wave demand destruction is here. Oil is down over twice as much as SPY for the reasons explained above. 6/25, 7:30 - WTI is down another 2% in pre-market on second wave fears. $37 was a level of support for June 9-17th, and we are right up against it again. If we break through today the next level is at $34.50 for another 15% or more of profits. 6/25, 9:00 - WTI bounces HARD off of the $37 support level on news that continuing unemployment claims dropped slightly. Lesson learned: take partial profits when prior levels of support are reached and buy back in after either support is breached with conviction or next level of resistance is met. 6/26, 8:00 - WTI durdled at the $39 resistance level overnight and is now falling hard pre-market. Looks like I may have a chance to try the partial profit-taking strategy above later today. 6/26, 14:55 - Another strong day, but we did not retest the $37 WTI level again. I took some partial profits (4,000 shares) at end of the day and will watch oil prices through the wknd. As predicted, Texas is already rolling back re-opening plans and cases continue to build exponentially all over the South. South America and India are showing textbook exponential rises as well. I also started some positions in AHPI and APT to play the potential mandatory mask laws. So far the trade is up over $15k. 6/29, 9:30 - Oil is recovering on more economic bullishness. I was stopped out of the rest of my position at $18.50. I will let the dust settle and find another entry point later this week. 7/5 - Several states have rolled back re-opening guidelines as cases continue to grow exponentially. I will be watching WTI action overnight to see if a bearish head and shoulders pattern will complete.
First | Prev | Next Discord Valentine The pain in my shoulder kept rousing me from sleep, and damn did I ever need the rest. I'd get an hour or so of sleep, and then something would happen to tweak my shoulder. I'd roll over, or move reflexively to brush away an itch, and I'd be brought reluctantly to wakefulness. It's not that I was uncomfortable. In fact, this 'hotel' as Wallace called it, might be one of the most luxurious buildings I'd ever set foot in. The furniture down in the restaurant, for example. The quality there, in just one of the pieces, was astounding. It was difficult to get fabric to take dye consistently, to achieve a uniform colour. As such, it was often the upholstery that was of particular prestige, making quality pieces often the centre of a noble's living room. Not only was every piece of furniture in that restaurant of such quality, everything matched. It was as if some sort of perfect automaton had fabricated each piece. And that was to say nothing of the carpentry and metalwork involved, which were similarly astounding. Then there were the sheets I'd wrapped myself in. It wasn't quite the same as silk, silk had a more sultry quality, and this felt somehow more wholesome. It was more like a warm hug than a- well, than any of the sorts of things I usually got up to when tangled in silk sheets. And with Wallace sleeping nearby, his long steady breaths providing a comforting rhythm, and his scent lingering on the air, I found that I felt safer than I had in a very long while. Not safe, there was a reason I still kept a pistol nearby, there remained a long way to go for true safety, but I was safer. I only wished I could enjoy it, to bask in the warmth from the pile of blankets, and luxuriate in the feeling that I didn't have an immediate looming threat breathing down my neck. The problem was, my gods damned shoulder would not stop hurting. I tried to find a position that wouldn't aggravate my injury, but despite my best efforts, still couldn't stay asleep for more than an hour at a time. Finally, angry, bored, and still very tired, I kicked off the blankets in a fit of pique. Of course, that only hurt my shoulder more, and I grit my teeth to keep from waking Wallace with a pained gasp. I frowned, the steady rhythm was gone. I snatched a sheet and held it to my chest. With some difficulty, I sat up and peered over the edge of the bed. Wallace had left. Which meant he'd woken up. Which meant he'd noticed me sleeping on the floor next to him. I sighed. I had been hoping to be gone before he woke, though I wasn't sure what I was trying to hide. That I trusted him? He probably figured that out about when I was huddled naked in the bath. I wish he'd woken me, we could share breakfast, and I'd follow his explorations, but damn I was tired. I slithered into the bed, still warm from his presence. I curled up in the middle of the bed where the warmth was the greatest and settled in among the blankets and piled pillows. By some magic, the mattress shaped itself to fit my body, and I quickly found a position that didn't set my shoulder aflame. The heat made me drowsy, and in renewed comfort, saw little reason to fight it. I had little idea of the time that had passed when I finally woke once more. I only knew that the hollow and tired feeling had abated, and the sun still had not yet risen. I considered laying there for a while longer. Perhaps I'd doze off again, but thought better of it. I was curious about what Wallace had been doing, had he returned to the room, only to leave me to sleep in peace? Perhaps, but it was a large building. Likely he wasn't finished exploring. I pushed myself up, found my torch and pistol, and wrapped myself in one of the sheets. So covered, I slipped back across to my room and dressed in the sleeveless shirt and legless trousers I'd worn to dinner. I'd worn the ensemble to dinner out of exhaustion, after all, getting into the flight suit was a bit of a bother at the best of times, and I didn't feel like attempting it with one arm. I'd expected Wallace to make some remark, maybe blush a little. I'd even had a biting retort ready for the occasion, but he didn't protest my lascivious dinner wear. It seemed not to register to him. I found I quite liked Wallace, which was quite the novel experience. I'd always seen company as something to be avoided unless I'd paid for their time. How strange it was then, that I hoped Wallace would stay once I'd finished teaching him what magic I knew. With him possibly anywhere in the massive building, I intended to track him by scent. Sleeping several hours in his bed had made that tricky, however, and I had difficulty separating the scents present in the environment from those clinging to me. I could get an idea of where he'd been, but was unable to tell how long ago it was. As it seemed he'd spend the hours I was asleep searching the entire building, I found myself doing the same. I struggled to find a single room that did not have at least a trace of his scent within. It made me regret leaving my necklace behind, but it wouldn't be safe with my shoulder still healing. That said, I'd only checked the first floor, and I could already feel myself growing faint as I gazed at the door to the stairs. I am going to make that man carry me back down here. Just pushing open the heavy metal door- the humans take security seriously it seems -made me feel dizzy. I put my hands on my knees and took a few deep breaths to steady myself before continuing. I woke to the taste of blood in my mouth, a brutal headache, and the reek of fear. I shifted a little and blinked my eyes open, and I heard a sigh of relief. "Oh thank god, please, just don't move." I came to realize that Wallace was holding me in his arms, a little too tightly, as he was making it difficult to move my head. "Wallace," I grumbled drowsily, "Let me go." "Valentine, just- please, for fuck's sake." I met his gaze, and my anger softened as I saw the concern in his eyes. He looked like he'd just seen me die. "Okay, okay," I soothed. Wallace calmed a little as the sickly scent of fear was gradually replaced by the musky scent of my pheromones. With so much skin uncovered, the effects should have taken hold much more quickly than they did, but at the very least it didn't appear as if his heart were about to stop. Wallace took a deep breath, "In first aid- for humans -the number one thing, the most important thing unless someone is gushing blood, are head and neck injuries. " I placed my palm gently against his chest, "It's okay," I finally understood what had him so shaken, "Fey are different, we're not so vulnerable to getting bumped on the head." "You're-" he began, but I put a finger to his lips before he could interrupt. "I know a thing or two about treating injuries, Wallace," I insisted, "I learned all sorts of things about head injuries, but us fey are not like anyone else. If we were, every noble house would have a pile of dead servants who fainted trying to carry the lady's tea up the stairs." Wallace gently took my hand away from his lips. He held gently onto my hand, our hands clasped loosely across my chest. "I thought you were dead," he said flatly, "I pushed open the door, and here you were on the landing, limp as a corpse and white as a sheet." "This isn't the first time I've fainted trying to climb the stairs," I sighed, "I just need a little air." I gave a little yelp as Wallace gathered me up and rose to his feet, and quickly threw an arm around his neck to steady myself. I squirmed around until I was in a more or less sitting position. The motion made my head throb, and I rested my head against Wallace's chest while I squeezed my eyes shut against the pain. I'd made it almost to the roof, following Wallace's scent, but that was damning with faint praise. It had been easy to figure out where he'd gone off to once I was in the stairwell, as his scent was present throughout, but the climb had been brutal. To any other fey, my ascent through the building would seem supernal. But to the humans who'd constructed the building, doubtless to Wallace as well, I must have seemed pitiful. Wallace elbowed the bar across the door, which shifted slightly, and he ducked out onto the roof. I shivered as the cold air brushed across my exposed skin, and tried to press closer to Wallace. It got awfully chilly during The Long Night, and I was a little underdressed. The roof was altogether more pleasant than that of the 'gas station', as Wallace had called it. There were several cushioned benches scattered about, some small trees here and there, and a few flower beds set against the low wall that ringed the rooftop. Someone, indeed, likely several someones, had gone to some effort to make the space as pleasant as possible. "What happened to your jewellery?" Wallace asked, his voice low, though I could feel the bassy reverberations in his chest. "It's not safe to use while I'm healing," I shivered, "So I'm useless until my shoulder is mended." "You're plenty useful," Wallace insisted, "You teach me magic, and I'll carry you around wherever you want to go," he promised. He carried me over to one of the benches and took a seat. He let go of me, but I didn't take the opportunity to slide off his lap. Instead, I snatched a nearby blanket and pressed it into his hands. He took it, an amused expression on his face, and helped me settle it around myself. With it trapping the heat, it felt like I was sitting with my cheek resting against a furnace. Between his natural scent and the all-encompassing warmth, I felt myself growing drowsy once again. I pulled the blankets tight around myself and peered up at him, "Maybe I'll ride you around like a horse," I giggled, "Did Temerity get to ride you around too?" He immediately turned red, his lips set in a thin line as he tried not to break out into a guilty smile. "Oh, she did, she did!" I hooted, "Were you face up or face down? The girls at The Blushing Maiden have given it to me both ways, so I can see the appeal in either case," Wallace turned, if it were even possible, a yet darker shade of red, "Now that I think about it, Temerity does seem the sort to take the initiative. Face down then." Wallace's guilty smile turned to a grimace, but there was grudging mirth in his eyes and the twist of his lips. I prodded him in the ribs, "You're not even the tiniest bit angry," I asked incredulously, though it was more of a statement. I pressed my nose against his chest and inhaled deeply, "I can't smell a whiff of anger. If I were a servant, anyone else would be having me flogged right about now to correct my mark against their honour. Or as a noblewoman, they'd be looking for a father, brother, or husband to duel." He sighed, a wry, grudging smile on his face, "Humans used to be like that," he admitted. I frowned in thought, "Now that I think about it, I don't believe Simon has ever challenged anyone to a duel. And gods know people have tried to goad him into it." "Why, to try to get rid of him?" Wallace guessed, "Seems like a losing proposition if it's fey versus human, even if he doesn't go all Super Saiyan on them." "Super Saiyan?" I inquired. Wallace covered his face with his hand, "The body magic thing he does." "Oh, well, you're right. Magic isn't allowed, though that can be hard to enforce. But it's the privilege of the challenged party to opt for a champion to take their place. Usually a sprite, or now that there are other races in the city, a goblin or elf. But it matters little," I explained, "Simon seems genuinely ambivalent to even the most grievous insult made against him. At first, it led to him losing a great deal of respect within the city, but once it was clear he didn't care about that either, I think he was able to turn it into a strength. That said, it's not as if he doesn't get even with those that oppose him. Typically when a nobleman of the city goes after Simon, he'll find that a wife or daughter will have mysteriously fallen for the human interloper," I thumped Wallace on the chest, "Simon's playroom isn't quite as well soundproofed as Temerity's though, I understand that most of the manor, along with anyone out on the street, can hear when Simon is taking the initiative with a new paramour," I put a hand to my chin, as if in thought, "Now that I think about it, that must be some serious soundproofing in Temerity's place, I mean, you must be awfully lou-" Wallace, very gently, but very firmly, put his hand over my mouth. "Shhh." I shrank inwards a little and nodded. At first, I'd been needling him just to see what it would take to get him to strike me. Humans were still an enigma to me, and I found that people were generally easier to deal with if I knew where the limits were, but now I realized that the greater risk would be making the big mushy goliath feel hurt. He took his hand away, and I pulled myself up to plant a kiss on his cheek, before sinking back down to nestle against his chest. "You're an okay bodyguard Wally." "Thanks, Vally," he replied wryly, "Have you got your daily allotment of teasing me in? Can we get to adult stuff?" I rolled my eyes, "Val will be fine, and what is it?" "Well," he began, pulling down the blanket a bit so I could see out into the night, "I picked this bench for a reason, are you able to make out that light in the distance?" "No, can you-" Wallace covered both the torches, and I waited as my eyes adjusted to the darkness. "Maybe?" I said finally, "I might just be seeing what I want to see though. I take it you're more confident?" He nodded, "It's a campfire. It's way the hell out there, but it's a fire." "Probably surveyors from Caniforma," I guessed. "Are they going to be a problem?" "Perhaps," I admitted, "They might eventually find a route here, but surveyors tend to guard their discoveries jealously. Unless you know who to ask, it's not easy to even learn where to buy such information, and that's to speak nothing of the price. No, they're not likely to pose a threat. That said, if someone is truly determined to come after me, they likely could reach us." "You mean someone might pull the same stunt we did," Wallace realized. I pulled the blanket back up over my head and relaxed against the big man. "Yes. And while we had to spend a day getting through the pass, the proximity of the mountains offers possibilities to the determined." "You mean someone might try to make their own little rest stop by climbing up far enough? Would that even work with horses?" "Doubtful," I replied, "But if it came to it, they could abandon the horses to the tide, and sleep out the night partway up some convenient cliff." "Hmmm..." he rumbled quietly, "Just trying to think through the timeline here. So the horsemen, horsewomen, horsepeople?" "They were riders, not centaurs," I huffed. "Whichever, point is, they left late. After all, we left late, and they left even later after that. So we'll assume whoever comes after us has time to prepare, and are down the ramp from the city at first light." "Not a simple task," I interjected, "There are special carriages that carry horses down, and even if they've planned to have those ready, the descent is yet slower than it was for us." "Okay, fair," Wallace agreed, "But it does mean that, compared to the riders we ran into, they'll be further along at any given point in time." "Fair," I agreed. "Which pushes their point of no return forwards, I don't know, six hours?" he guessed, "That might be a bit generous, but we should prepare for a best-case attempt from them." "They also won't have spent several hours searching an alien neighbourhood for us," I added. Wallace nodded, "Which means they get even further. Now include the fact they've got a safe return that's a lot closer... yeah, I bet they could make it. Fuck they'd be tired though." "I wouldn't worry about it for now, Wally," I assured him, "I have a hard time conceiving of a more defensible position than what we have now. We'll have time to ready ourselves. Besides, they know not what they face at the end of their journey. I don't expect to see them in the next Long Night, perhaps the one after next at the earliest," I peered up at him from beneath the blankets, "Plenty of time for you to learn some magic." Wallace beamed and seemed to tremble at the mere word, and it gave me a little thrill to see him smile like that. I thumped my hand against his chest again, "Carry me inside, feed me some breakfast, and we can get started." Wallace pursed his lips, "What was that you said, something about protecting you but not taking care of you?" I narrowed my eyes, "You're not taking care of me, you're pampering me. "As you wish, your highness," Wallace replied wryly. Still bundled up in the blanket, Wallace brought me back inside through a different staircase. Rather than functional metal railings and hard stone steps, this staircase was thickly carpeted, and the hardwood railings were stained a rich dark brown. Wallace shouldered his way through the door at the bottom of the stairs, and I somehow found myself in a room that was even more luxurious than what I'd seen below. Now that wasn't to say that every surface was engraved, gilded, and studded with gemstones as it might be in a royal's palace. The humans who'd built this structure seemed to have a preference for understatement, and instead of displaying wealth with precious metals and rare stones, it was with quality materials. Again, I was astounded by the uniformity with which the carpets and furniture upholstery were dyed. The elves could do work that was nearly this good, but it wouldn't be uniform over such a large area, and the reagents they used to fix the dyes had an unfortunate scent. It looked to me that the top floor of the entire east wing was dedicated to this single set of chambers. Well, perhaps not 'chambers', as the designers seemed not to have believed in walls. Where they were needed, they were either glass, as the exterior walls were, or did not rise to reach the ceiling, and served simply to break up the sightlines and provide a little privacy. Oddly enough, the kitchen seemed to be displayed proudly, rather than being out of sight, hidden back in some servant's area. I wasn't happy to see the harpsichord, in what would be the sitting room, had it been a separate room. There was also another of those black glass slabs that humans always arranged their furniture to face. There had even been several in the restaurant below, arranged so that no matter where one sat, a slab could be seen. This one was the largest I'd yet seen and was nearly as wide as I was tall. The deference shown to the objects suggested some religious significance, and it occurred to me that there had been something similar in the house we'd looted before leaving the human neighbourhood. The materials hadn't been quite the same, and the glass slab at the front had bulged outwards rather than being perfectly flat, but there as well, the furniture had been arranged to face it. "This is the penthouse," Wallace explained, "I wanted to wait until you were up to ask your thoughts, but I think we should start moving our stuff up here. The stairs are a problem-" "It'll be fine once my shoulder is mended," I assured him. Wallace shrugged, and set me down on one of the wide upholstered and high-backed benches in the sitting room, "There's also some conference rooms through there," he went on, nodding towards the central spine of the building, "so there's space for us to work if we need it." I stretched out on my back while Wallace went over to the kitchen to root through the cabinets. "Is that what's atop the other wing?" I yawned. "No, the conference rooms are near the elevators, probably for fancy people to have fancy people meetings," he called back, "The other wing is a presidential suite, so I guess this is an American hotel." "American?" "Uh, it's another country from Earth," he explained, "But the language is the same, and I'm familiar enough with the units they use to measure things that it's not a problem," I heard the cabinets shut. A moment later, Wallace was peering over the side of the couch, "I'm gonna go out on the balcony and cook, you stay out of trouble till I get back." "I'll try, no promises." With both of us properly fed, I had Wallace join me in the sitting room and drew him down next to me on what he called a 'couch'. While he'd been busy cooking, I'd poked around the penthouse, looking for something to use for our first magic lesson. I'd found what I'd needed in the bathroom- a bathroom that was larger than some commoner's homes -a box of hairpins. I took out just one of the pins and handed it over to him. It seemed comically small in his enormous hand, and he held it between forefinger and the odd not-quite-thumb, not-quite-finger that was his extra digit. "I can do magic with just this?" "Yes and no. The first thing to understand-" I began. Wallace beamed, and threw his arms up in the air, "First law of magic!" I sighed, but couldn't help but share his smile, "You're just a child on the inside, aren't you." "We're all children on the inside," Wallace replied, "and we're all just pretending otherwise." My smile turned to a smirk, as I considered what I might do if I wasn't trying to keep up appearances as a noblewoman. And the truth was, it wasn't as if I put much effort into such appearances. "Are you going to let me teach you magic," I prodded, "or are you going to keep sharing your philosophy?" "Alright, alright, what's the first law of magic?" "From a single object, you can only get one type of mana," I recited, "There are exceptions, but for the time being, one object, one type of mana." Wallace frowned and stared intently at the hairpin, "That doesn't exactly make sense." "What about it troubles you?" "The exceptions. Physical laws don't tend to have them." "Wally, which one of us is teaching and which one is learning right now?" "I know, I know, but I also spent two decades in one type of school or the other," he insisted, "Newton's laws of motion, the laws of thermodynamics, Euclid's postulates, they mostly don't have exceptions." "Mostly?" I repeated, "So then they do have exceptions, why is it so strange then-" "That's just it," he exclaimed, "Thermodynamics, that's sacrosanct. Pretty sure even magic doesn't violate that no matter how hard you try. But Euclid's postulates and Newton's laws of motion, those are different. Euclid had five postulates. The first four are simple. I mean simple enough that they're a single sentence that a kid could understand. I mean, the first one is that you can draw a straight line between any two points, really simple stuff. But Euclid was trying to explain the very fundamentals of geometry. His problem, and hell, mathematicians worked on it for hundreds of years after him, was his fifth postulate. He was trying to describe the fundamentals behind parallel and non-parallel lines, and it was kind of clumsy. He couldn't quite get the phrasing to be as neat and tidy as the other five postulates. And not just him, like I said, plenty of genuine geniuses worked on the same problem, and couldn't figure it out. See, the truth was, there was a deeper understanding that wasn't known," he paused, I think he'd noticed that my eyes were starting to glaze over, "Um, remind me to tell you about non-euclidean geometry some time. The point is, the way he was trying to describe how parallel lines worked, didn't always apply. But he couldn't even conceive of how it didn't apply. It was as if he was blind to it." "And you think the same is true for magic?" I said slowly, as I digested his speech. "Yeah, and you know what," Wallace said confidently, "This is exactly the sort of thing Simon would recognize as well." I felt a sudden tightness in my chest, not fear, but excitement. Wallace had already been able to provide some hints, but now it felt as if I were finally starting to draw the curtain aside. "This Newton, what was his mistake?" "Well the thing to remember about Newton, is that he was a genuine genius. I mean, he couldn't figure out the equations necessary to track the motions of planets, so he invented a new type of mathematics. He was one of the first guys to lay out a set of laws that could begin to describe the way the physical world worked. It's more complicated than that, and others added to his theory to build Classical Mechanics, but there's a reason that Classical Mechanics is sometimes referred to as Newtonian Physics. The trouble was, there were areas where his theories broke down. But like Euclid, it broke down in ways he couldn't conceive of. It worked for apples falling from trees, and planets orbiting stars, but not, for example, black holes, nuclear weapons, and spaceships trying to travel faster than light." "I feel as if I say this frequently in your company," I told him tiredly, "but pardon me?" "Newton's theories worked at the scales that most people can conceive of. From the very smallest bit of dust, all the way up to the most very massive stars. As for velocity, it covered the stationary, all the way up to objects travelling more than a hundred thousand times faster than a speeding bullet." "What else is there?" "Exactly!" he exclaimed, "It took another two hundred years for a guy named Einstein to come along and invent General and Special Relativity, which explained how things smaller than motes of dust, larger than the largest stars, and nearly as fast as light worked." "I still don't think I understand quite what you're saying, but I take it, that it is enough to know that there was more to know than Euclid and Newton could fathom." "Exactly," Wallace agreed, "So, what are these exceptions to the 'one object, one mana type' rule?" "Gemstones, air, and liquids. Raw gemstones can be cut in such a way as to provide two of the available mana types at once. Garnets, for example, provide four mana types, Metal, Body, Strengthen, and Protect. When it is faceted, the jeweller selects any two of those, and from then on, those are the only two mana types that the garnet may provide. Indeed, the caster must use both types, for any spell that includes the garnet. As for air and liquids, neither can be said to be a single object. With liquids, typically one must use the entire container unless it's something like a spellcaster dipping their hand in a lake or river. That's typically only something experts can do though. Most spellcasters will simply scoop some up in their hand or the like. Air presents the same difficulty, experts can simply use it directly out of the space around them, but most Air magic users will carry glass bottles of various sizes." "So say I wanted to use this bobby pin," Wallace suggested, "I'd need to use the whole thing, and only for one of its available mana types?" I nodded, and then Wallace bent the pin until it broke into two halves, "And now this is two objects, so I could use what was a single bobby pin, for both mana types in a spell?" "Yes, that was the puzzle I'd intended you to solve," I admitted, "I sense you're unhappy with this answer?" "I am," he agreed, "I don't know how the 'one object one mana type' rule is wrong, but it's wrong. What if I had two pins, or let's say I just use both these halves. These are metal, so they've got Metal mana? Okay, so could I use both halves for Metal mana, and then some third object for the other mana type I need?" "Yes," I said slowly, "I suppose that's the second rule. Controlled magic always takes two types of mana, attempt it with a single type, and only the gods know what will happen." "Alright, well I'm gonna think on rule one. It feels kind of like a 'blind men and the elephant' situation." This time I just threw up my hands. Wallace grinned sheepishly, "Sorry, have you ever seen an elephant?" "Yes," I replied, more than a little exasperated. "Coles notes-" he began, and I gave him a dangerous look, "Sorry, simple version is, one blind guy puts a hand on the leg and thinks an elephant is like a tree. Another feels the trunk and says it's like a big snake, so on and so on." "You're clearly very intelligent, very learned. It's a shame you hide it behind a veneer of utter madness." "We can argue about who's crazier later," he chuckled, "So we've got the first rule, 'one object, one mana type', and its exceptions, and the second rule, 'one or more verbs, and one or more nouns, or bad things happen'." "Then there's the final rule, and it applies to the case you suggested, using both halves of the pin for Metal mana. Steel is a Greater source of Metal mana. It doesn't matter how much steel you have, it will only ever be a Greater source. The quantity of steel instead determines how long the Greater source persists." "Is there a number for greater?" he asked, "What's the scale?" "I've yet to hear anyone use numbers to try to describe the difference between various mana sources, or at least, try and succeed in coming up with anything that makes sense. No, the scale is Minimal, Lesser, Moderate, Greater, and Significant." "Hold on. Actual metal is only the second-best source of Metal mana? How does that make sense?" Wallace demanded. I shrugged, "Only gemstones are a Significant mana source, metals are typically Greater, not just of Metal mana itself, but of whatever other mana types that metal provides as well. Copper provides Greater Fire, for example." "Hmm, seems kinda weird that it's the most powerful sources of mana that are best known," Wallace mused, "I would have thought it'd be the other way around." "There are commonly known rumours about colours and herbs both supplying either lesser or minimal mana of a great many different types, but I've yet to hear any specifics." "How are new types discovered then? Even if most people get the info second-hand, someone would have had to be the first." "It's tricky," I warned, "And I don't even know if the method I know of is the safest way to do it, but typically one takes a material with a known mana type, and the material they want to understand and attempt to cast a spell. Either the caster can guess at what mana might be present in the unknown material, in which case things proceed as with any normal spell." "And if they get it wrong?" Wallace grimaced. "If they get it wrong," I continued, "Or simply try to cast a spell without trying to guess what mana types might be present, then nearly anything can happen. The proto-spell uses the selected mana from the known material and a random mana type from the unknown material, and chaos generally ensues." "I'm guessing it's generally a good idea to use small quantities then?" Wallace offered. I nodded, "Anything to limit the potential damage. Transformation magic and Body magic are the worst. Fire magic, to be sure, may cause severe burns if the caster is unlucky, but Healing magic can correct something as simple as an injury. But a body, malformed by magic, is nigh-impossible to correct." I took his hand in both of mine. It was soft but strong, and large enough that my thumbs didn't quite meet in the middle. "Promise me you'll listen, and promise me that you won't go experimenting on your own," I urged him, "This is dangerous, and there's only so much I can do. If I were any good with healing magic, I would have fixed my shoulder already. I understand your excitement, but before we continue, I need your word that you'll listen when I warn you something's dangerous." "Alright, I promise," he assured me, "If I come up with anything crazy, I'll talk to you first." "Thank you, the other thing I should warn you about is that this isn't going to be easy. I don't want you to feel discouraged if it doesn't work right away." I didn't want to sabotage him by telling him just how hard it was to cast a spell for the first time, but I also didn't want him giving up. I'd seen both extremes in my time. Some would give up after trying and failing for weeks, while still others would hear such tales and internalize the assumption that they'd never be able to do it. I was by no means a magic tutor, but those I was familiar with had spoken of striking a balance. It was essential to warn would-be spellcasters of the difficulty, without making it seem insurmountable. Magic was a science of the mind after all, and if someone got the wrong idea in their head, it often made their magical journey a great deal longer, if it started at all. "Everything is hard until you figure it out," he replied, "I'll be patient." "First," I began, speaking softly, "Close your eyes, once you get more familiar with magic you won't need to, but for now it can help to focus the mind." He did as I asked, and I let go of his hand to pick up the box of bobby pins. "The spell you're going to cast will give you an invisible hand, that can pick up only metal. Steel contains Earth, Fire, Metal, Movement, and Protection mana. You're going to use the Metal mana from one half of the pin, and the Movement mana from the other to create this hand," I shook the box so he could hear the pins rattle, "Then you're going to use that hand to pick up some of these pins." Wallace nodded, an oddly tranquil expression on his face. "Now. Magic requires you to hold two different understandings of the world in your mind. First, there's the world as it is now, where you're holding two halves of a broken pin in one hand. Second, there's the world as you will it to be, where the halves of the pin are gone, and you have an intangible hand, capable of only manipulating metal. Now I understand that might not make much sense," I admitted, still speaking softly, "But think of it as there being two worlds. There's the mental world as it exists within your mind, and there's the physical world, as it appears to everyone else. Take your time," I said soothingly, "Don't rush yourself, the important thing is to-" There was a metallic rattling, and then the pins were floating above the small box, as if cupped in an invisible hand. I leapt to my feet, astounded at what I saw, "Wally, that's amazing!" I exclaimed. Wallace was not so enthused. He had his eyes open now, but there was an unexpected sadness in them. "Seems I'm uniquely suited to this," he muttered dourly. "What's the matter?" "Nothing, just the universe reminding me that I'm a freak." "Who cares?" I demanded, "What you just did takes most people weeks or months, you're a freak? Wallace, I would cut off my arm to be a freak like you. You're an enormous slab of muscle with indestructible bones, a supernatural talent for magic, and this is just a guess, but someone your size is also probably hung like a horse." He immediately turned red and brought a hand to his face, but I went on unabated, "Who cares, if I had a body like yours, I would revel in it. The strength, the power, I would need to run from nothing. And what you said about your body making muscle no matter how lazy you are? Gods, I would eat as much as I wanted, drink whatever I liked, and bed whoever I fancied," I shook my head slowly, "But you don't conduct yourself like that. I would have searched out some shapely elf noblewoman, one that was easier to handle than Temerity, to act as patron and paramour while I ate and drank and fucked the days away," I spread my arms, and gazed down at my scrawny frame, "But instead you're here with me, because I need you, and because you have a good heart." "Well," he said slowly, "Thanks, I guess," he said with a bland shrug. I growled and prodded him in the side. I wanted it to hurt, but I think my shoulder ended up worse off than his ribs. At the same time, I bore down on my pheromone glands, forcing out as much of the rage pheromone as I could muster. "You don't think I know you get angry sometimes? Really really angry?" I demanded, "When we lost that pack, gods, I didn't think the scent of anger could be that thick. And then in the tunnel when you were trying to get through that metal cover, the smell was so strong I thought I was going to faint." I wiped my brow with the back of my hand. It wasn't sweat. Instead, I was giving off so much of the pheromones that it was beading on my skin, and making my clothes and hair damp. "But you didn't lash out at me, or anyone else. Who cares if you get angry? It happens, what matters is what you do with it. You're a good person, with a good heart," I informed him, "But time to time you need someone to slap you upside the head and get you on the right track, that's all." He chuckled at that. There was enough rage pheromone in the air now that he should have long since bashed my head in, but instead, he was laughing. He raised his hands, "Alright, alright, you've made your point. Now could you please tone it down? If I have to put up with this for much longer, I'm gonna burst a blood vessel." I switched to the opposite pheromone, and couldn't get much out before my glands ran dry, but it was enough to neutralize the rage pheromone in the air. I put my hands on my knees and took a deep breath, I don't think I'd ever pushed myself that hard, and I was surprised to find it left me so exhausted. My legs felt like jelly as I stumbled back over to join Wallace on the couch. "If you're done feeling sorry for yourself," I huffed, "I can finish explaining magic," I offered. "Go ahead, what's left?" he asked wryly. Continued in comment
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