Binary Options Course

[Serial][UWDFF Alcubierre] Part 54

Beginning | Previous
Premier Valast felt a tingle. It began at the base of his spine and traveled moved upward, sending warm fuzzy feelings all throughout his body as it made its way to his brain and inserted itself in his conscious thoughts. After all of the misery. After all of the failures. For once, something had gone right.
How delightful. How extravagant. How deserved.
The Humans had made a mistake. Clearly, they had thought to expand upon their treachery, believing themselves to be invincible. Their monstrosity of a vessel had appeared just as their last one had, within Halcyon's inner perimeter. After their ruse of parlay, their beast had commenced belching out weapons of mass destruction, clearly in an attempt to retrieve the encryption key and the elite assassin-thief they had dispatched under the guise of a Witness.
They thought Halcyon weak. Defenseless.
Not true! Not true at all!
Kinetics. Valast laughed aloud, his rib cage heaving out great guffaws. Accelerated mass! More laughter. The savages thought to bring such inelegance against the might of the Combine? They mistook their prior fortune for competence. Their one-time success for future capability. Alas, poor Humans, the truth of your inadequacies is made manifest! The brief gap in the defenses brought on by the improbable chain of events that had resulted in their arrival had been filled. For all of their destructive potential, their weapons were useless.
Valast continued to cackle, his hindclaws scrunching up the soft material of his pillow, as he watched the Humans receive their punishment for their insolence. The Humans had made assumptions. Perhaps assumptions were fine in their backwater corner of the galaxy, but here, among civilization, assumptions could be quite dangerous indeed. It was quite unwise to assume Halcyon would leave the inner perimeter exposed. They must have thought their Evangi co-conspirators would leave the gates open for them, as the traitor Neeria had done when she had given them access to a Combine wormkey in the first place. Sadly for the Humans, their four-armed friends had been exposed for what they were. A great many of the Evangi now lay motionless on the floor of a Halcyon mainway, a fitting end to their perfidy.
Halcyon had stood since the beginning, and it would continue to stand long after the Human infestation had been expunged from the Combine Space. Perhaps the Humans should have spent more time pondering the nature of the place before they had meddled with forces they clearly did not understand. Halcyon existed in defiance of the chaotic nature of the neutron star it orbited. Its survival required an solution to the objects such a gravity well attracted. Halcyon had many such solutions, weaved together to maintain a delicate balance. Among them were the inertial dampeners.
The screen in Valast's paws bloomed with colors, indicating firings of Halcyon's inertial dampeners. Each blossom of color was an attempt by the Humans to deploy weapons in clear violation War Accords, cementing Humanity's position as a menace to decent civilization. Had Valast not commanded Bo'Bakka'Gah to take the necessary precautions, the devastation would have been significant.
Lines of crimson sailed through the blooms of color.
Valast's whiskers twitched, his eyes squinting as it tracked one of these lines.
The solution was not perfect. The intertial dampeners in close proximity to Halcyon were a final precaution, and their purpose was narrow. They were a fine net, meant to indiscriminately capture any residual high-speed astral particulate that had escaped the outer defenses. Their efficacy diminished at an exponential rate in proportion to the size and mass of the object they acted upon. Thus far, they had been quite successful at preventing the Humans from making use of their weapons, but dampeners had no effect on the Human vessels. Even if the dampeners could be used for such a purpose, their indiscriminate nature would have required the cessation of all space born travel within Halcyon, an unacceptable disruption to the workings of the Combine's capitol.
The Humans' small spherical vessels were thus capable of traveling unimpeded throughout Halcyon space, tracing their crimson lines behind them as they did so. Such a thing did not overly worry Valast. They could not fire their weapons, and they were susceptible to electromagnetic disruption, rendering them easy targets for the Peacekeepers. Were Valast not otherwise consumed with the affairs of state, he would perhaps take to the front line and dispatch a few himself. Sadly, his bravery would find no opportunity for direct expression beyond the valor found in the privilege of command competently exercised.
The whiskers ceased their twitching and some cheer returned. It would not be long before the meddlesome Human spheres were swatted from the sky and the encryption key recovered.
Then they would dispatch the Human warship.
Then Humanity.
He need only wait.
-----------
"Get spread. Get small." Sana called out. Had to buy time. Had to get a handle on the situation. Not her first rodeo, but it was the first time where she had no idea what the hell she was riding. Maybe the aliens were riding her. Maybe it wasn't a rodeo, maybe it was just a slaughter.
That was the problem. No one knew anything.
The callsigns in her local were dropping like flies. Squaddies getting wiped without so much as a peep. The eggs in Science were saying EMPs, but the balls were supposed to be fixed against that frakkery. Sensors said the balls were still there even after they went dead, so maybe they were right. Couldn't think about that now.
Couldn't think about anything but the mission.
Captain Sana Bushida had a shit-shuttle to bring to station.
She needed to get from A to B. Normally the quickest point-to-point was a line, but the baddies were coming in from all sides. Trying to corral her in. So be it. She could handle a long and squiggly with the juice she had in the four balls attached to the cockpit. Only question was how long they'd be up for. Whatever they were using on the balls wasn't touching her. She was good, but she wasn't that good.
Guess they wanted her kicking and screaming.
Predators, not scavengers then.
Frakk 'em. Right in their stupid alien faces.
Sana's brain shunted command signals as fast as her eyes to parse the readouts in her pilot pod. Dodging. Weaving. Diving. Dipping. Half those words didn't even apply to space, but they felt right. Float like a butterfly, run like cheetah on amphetos. She'd sting 'em later.
Run run run, fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the shit-shuttle can.
Swipe. Swipe.
Two smaller ships moved in a pincer formation, one cutting off her angle around the larger ship she was skimming around. Sana let out a giggle, as she shoved the shuttle in another direction. "You thought you had me, crapdonkey? You never had me. You're gonna be seeing my ass all day." The giggle somehow transformed into a roar halfway through as a third ship appeared in her view, coming out from its hiding place on the other side of the large ship. "SCREW YOU!" They weren't going to win. Losing wasn't an option.
Swipe.
Patterns emerged as the ballet played out. Certain ships were the herders. The small annoying frakks that always seemed to be moving around her flanks. Other ships were the receivers. They were the big boys. The ones who just floated there like giant shits in space. Lazy frakks just waiting to be fed some shit-shuttle. Fine then. New info. New tactics. New rule: Get around the herders, never get closer to the receivers.
Herders bad.
Receivers bad-der-er.
As long as she was a step ahead of the herders and two steps away from the receivers, she'd be fine. Problem was they were more agile than her. Problem was there was more of them. Problem was the friendly callsigns on her readouts kept disappearing. Problem was that she was stuck in here instead of out there where she belonged.
Ninety-nine problems...
Swipe. Swipe.
All she needed was a line of sight. A place where she could get a whiff of open space and just gun it. Navigate the maze. Get through it. Light at the end of the tunnel. Glass is half full.
Metaphor.
Analogy.
Idiom.
The stream of consciousness flowed out of her, expressing itself in her verbiage and in the desperately navigating shuttle some distance away. Step forward. No steps backward. Okay, maybe one step backward, but it'll be okay. She'd take the step forward soon enough.
Just...needed...a...line.
Alpha, Beta, Charlie, and Delta was gone.
It was just her.
Swipe. Swipe.
The fate of the world.
The shit-shuttle must survive.
Swipe. Swipe.
The gap opened.
She saw it.
They didn't.
"There it is bitches!"
All four balls slammed the thrusters on. It wasn't a direct bee line to the Oppenheimer but it was good enough. She just needed to get out of the hornet's nest and into open space so she could keep pouring on the acceleration. She didn't know how much juice the herders had, but it was all she had going for her at this point.
Bitter bile rose up in her throat as the shit-shuttle surged forward, leaving A through D behind. Her squaddies. Her friends.
Abandoned.
She should be out there.
She could be. She just needed to get the mission done. She was so close. She was putting distance between her and the baddies. Just a few more minutes...the link cut off.
Her thoughts were shunting into a wall.
She swiped, her eyes scanning the readouts.
Alcubierre - Shuttle - Cockpit (Ejection)(DISTRESS) no longer appeared.
For once, Sana was speechless.
---------------------
Kai retched air.
There was nothing else to throw up at this point. He'd given everything he had to give, and it was now floating about the cockpit in a viscous cloud. He was fairly certain Neeria was collateral damage in the matter. If she were ever to regain consciousness, she'd find she had been provided with a fresh coat of puke paint. At this point, being blind was something of a boon. Congratulations were owed to the sadist in the pilot's seat though, he hadn't emptied his stomach like this since flight sims.
He'd raise his hand in salute if it weren't for the incredible g-force shifts whipping him around like a rag doll as the pilot attempted to avoid whatever was out there. Some of the maneuvers seemed impossibly complex, as if the cockpit was navigating through an impassable morass of enemies. Or perhaps the pilot was just drunk. Either seemed possible.
The whipsawing continued. Back. Forth. Round and round. Acceleration never seemed to continue in a single direction for more than a few seconds. They were going in circles. They had to be.
Finally, it appeared the pilot had decided on a direction as Kai was slammed back into his chair as the cockpit rocketed forward under sustained acceleration. They must have broken through. Or the pilot had fallen asleep at the controls with the throttle down and they were all doomed. Either way. At this point, Kai was just eager for it to be over.
The acceleration continued. He felt like he was being crushed. Like an enormous hand was pressing against him, trying to squeeze all of his organs out through his eyes. Whatever was powering the cockpit now was beyond the parameters of the shuttle's acceleration compensators. His vision began to dim and his joints ached. Pain surged up in his right arm, which was still contorted within the goo. He was fairly certain a bone had just snapped.
"Oppenheimer..ETA," Kai managed to gasp out, drawing the breath back into his lungs with some effort.
"The shuttle is not currently on course to intercept with the UWDFF Oppenheimer."
"Joan." Kai wheezed. "Connect. Joan."
The acceleration cut off.
Kai took a huge gulp of air, the relief immediate. "Comm-link. Fleet Admiral Joan Orléans."
No response.
Kai tried again.
Silence greeted him.
Grumbling, he raised his left wrist toward his face. He stuck out his tongue and smeared it along the wrist console's interface. None of the expected beeps and chirps sounded out. It was dead, and, he suspected, so was the cockpit along with whatever had been propelling him. No life support. No way to call out for help. No way to do anything but sit there. For all intents and purposes, they were a hunk of space junk drifting off into the black oblivion.
Fair enough. It was a fitting end.
Helpless.
Hopeless.
Kai tried to muster some anger at the situation, if only to distract him from the pain coursing through his body, but found he was up to the task. It was easier to be motivated when there was something to do. Some way he could impact the situation. But there was nothing to do but wait. Maybe he'd live. Probably he'd die. He didn't mind it, that was the same binary he faced every other day. It was a bit more present in his mind than it normally was, but the truth was that he was overdue for demise. He'd given death the slip more times than anyone had a right to.
Still. It bothered him.
Not the death part. The not doing what he set out to do part.
He had run through walls, both literal and figurative, to make it this far. He didn't know what making it back to the Oppenheimer would mean for Humanity, but it had to be better than not making it. The encryption key -- what did it do? What could it do? Would it be doable? Neeria -- could she guide them? Could she help them navigate the treacherous galaxy Humanity was just beginning to play a part in?
There were so many questions. The answers could matter.
Kai tried to remember how much time they had. Without life support, the supply of oxygen would rapidly begin to deplete. He supposed it didn't matter, since he had no idea whether Neeria breathed, what Neeria she breathed, or the rate she consumed it. His space suit had a few hours of stored supply, but it was designed to work in conjunction with his helmet. Without the wrist console, he'd need to find some way to manually vent it.
That was something to do. Small, but perhaps meaningful. Anything to tilt the scales just a little bit more in their direction. Just a few more minutes of air could make a difference.
"Seconds matter," Kai wheezed out. His breath was wet and tasted of iron. He'd worry about that later. Air first. It wasn't much of a plan, but it was better than nothing.
He hoped Joan's plans were faring better.
-------------------
The Admiral's Bridge was awash in a sea of red. Multiple views vied for primacy as the situation continued to deteriorate. So far, the Oppenheimer itself had withstood the sustained EMP assault directed its way, but the same could not be said for the battle balls. Callsigns continued to blink out of existence with every passing second. The Oppenheimer had immediately attempted to provide supporting fire, but its kinetic weaponry was similarly disabled. Whatever the circumstances had been that had allowed the Alcubierre to destroy an alien vessel, they were clearly no longer relevant to the situation at hand. Without kinetics, the vast majority of Humanity's space-born projective power was effectively nullified. Science was looking into explanations and alternatives, but it would take time.
The Oppenheimer's EMP arrays had succeeded in firing, but the alien vessels appeared to be impervious to that form of assault. It was unclear whether they possessed EMP hardening around core processes similar to the Oppenheimer or they had other means of deflecting attacks of that nature. In the absence of an alternative, the Oppenheimer was continuously discharging the EMP arrays as they became available, attempting to test for weaknesses. The energy drain from the sustained fire was easily accommodated by the altered physics of local space, but it was unclear whether alien defenses could be worn down by continuous assault.
Other oddities were appearing as the situation unfolded. The aliens did not field any tactical fighters that their sensors could identify. There were ships of different sizes, but, thus far, no vessels had moved to directly engage the balls. Kai's cockpit was being corralled by a series of smaller ships working in conjunction with the larger ones, but that was it.
Joan considered it, trying to parse out deeper meanings from the absence. Human conflict, both Earthside and in space, had always heavily relied on tactical fighters. They had numerous advantages in terms of firepower projection and significantly increased tactical dynamism in a battle zone. Either the aliens had never considered the approach, or it was considered suboptimal within this environment.
Joan squinted, watching as the battle ball's callsigns dropped from the battle status view. She tilted her head. "This environment," she muttered to herself, her eyes drawn to the EMP array firing status. The recharge bars filled and expended. Filled and expended. Each cycle representing an incredibly powerful pulse of electromagnetic energy at the speed of light.
Speed of light.
Speed.
The answer struck her. The ramifications of the answer were displeasing. Plans must be altered. Contingencies reconsidered. The Black Fork was too optimistic. Their position was considerably worse than hoped for, but not entirely beyond anticipated outcomes, which had included their immediate destruction upon arrival in the system. They simply had fewer tools than she desired.
Tactical fighters had low utility when combat operated at the speed of light. There was no yield on agility, because no thruster could move faster than light could travel. There was no evading a lightspeed weapon at these distances. Unless a tactical fighter could retain functionality under fire, which the death balls so far could not, they were a pointless extravagance. At best, they could serve as a momentary distraction, particularly when their weapons were inoperable.
The unique characteristics of Humanity's birthplace were a hindrance here. Kinetics were the logical path for weaponry to take in an environment where destructive output was a matter of maximizing scarce energy resources. They were also the easiest, most natural extension from their Earthside forebears. Humanity had begun development of lightspeed weapons, the EMP and the Griggs pulse among them, but they placed tremendous strain on ship systems. The Oppenheimer, as a dreadcarrier, was among the few Earth spaceships that contained a full battery of EMP arrays. Due to the extremely demanding specifications, only a Pulser class ship could make use of a Griggs pulse. Had Humanity known what it faced just beyond its doorstep, it would have invested its research and development resources differently.
Too late now.
The game was not lost yet, they simply must play the hand they were dealt to its greatest effect.
A display flashed from green to red and moved toward the center of the wall, increasing in size. Simultaneously, three other displays shifted in color, position and size, in a chain reaction. Joan frowned. Or perhaps the game was lost, and she was only just realizing it. The shuttle cockpit's callsign, along with the four balls that had attached to it, had disappeared. Her hands darted up and began a series of gestures, swiping North to South as she removed some filters from the local space scan and South to North as she applied others.
She exhaled.
The shuttle had not been destroyed, only incapacitated. It was careening through space away from the cluster of alien ships closest to Halcyon, though a few were in rapid pursuit. The pursuers had acceleration in their favor, but the shuttle's current course brought them toward the Oppenheimer.
Joan flicked a few fingers, pulling the course data from the local scan and pushing it into the timer view.
Before Joan could issue the order, the nearest balls peeled off and immediately began an intercept course with the shuttle. Joan pulled up the command-chain, it appeared that Captain Bushida had decided to be proactive. Very well, but it would not be enough. The balls were more likely than not to be incapacitated before they could be used in any rescue effort. This required a more substantial intervention if the outcome were to be changed.
Joan pushed a new course heading into her comm-link with Ragnar. "Captain, I am moving us off of the Black Fork standing orders."
Ragnar glanced at the course heading. "That's even further in."
Joan nodded, "It's the only way we'll recover the cockpit. The balls can't get the job done."
"There's a risk the Oppenheimer won't get it done either. They're holding back," Ragnar replied, his eyes scanned off screen, bouncing between the various readouts and inbound requests. "Doesn't make any sense they'd only have EMPs. They've got more."
"Likely. My current belief is that they will refrain from further escalation until they have either secured the cockpit or believe they can no longer retrieve it. Each moment of escalation from them has been in response to an action on our part directed at the cockpit."
Ragnar wiped the back of his sleeve against his brow, mopping up the sweat. "Must be something important."
"Must be. The prize is likely worth the pain here, Ragnar. Retrieving the cockpit is the top priority. Preservation of ourselves is an ancillary concern."
"G4 is only a few out. We can hold that long," Ragnar said.
"Get the job done, Captain," Joan ordered and then cut the comm. Ragnar was a sophisticated battlefield tactician. The overlap between them was significant, and the differences between them were accretive to both. They both knew there was another card to be played, it was just a matter of whether Humanity could adapt to it.
Joan opened another comm-link. "Chief Adeyemi."
The Chief blinked a few times as the interjection, as if being pulled from a daze.
"Idara!" Joan exclaimed. "Where's Science at?"
Idara wet her lips, "We've gathered the data and mapped it to a few different explanations...but we need more--"
"You don't have it. Best guess, go."
"Some sort of inertial dampening field. Effects smaller objects. Weakens as the objects get larger. Only affects objects moving a certain speed. Only affects objects in space. Our kinetics are getting caught. Bigger objects, like the fighters, like the Oppenheimer, are fine. Bullets fired inside of the Oppenheimer are fine.
"Any sense on source?"
Idara shook her head.
"But it doesn't effect the fighters. Doesn't effect energy based weapons."
"From what we can see, that's right."
Joan's eyes drifted toward the tracker on Kai's cockpit. Hurtling through space.
"Idara, when the Alcubierre was heading for Proxima Barrier, your modeling said the ship would survive the impact, correct?"
"Yes, Admiral. There isn't an equal an opposite reaction. Actor has primacy in these physics."
Joan stared at Idara, lost in thought. The Chief shifted uncomfortably, "Is there something else--"
"I have what I need," Joan replied, cutting the comm.
She pulled up the status tracker on the balls. Over eight-five percent of launched fighters had already been incapacitated. The Oppenheimer still retained a final wing in its hangers, numbering approximately a hundred and twenty additional balls.
Joan watched the timers ticking down. They needed to go on the offensive. To find a way to tilt the situation in their favor. Even if they retrieved the cockpit, it was a long way back to the wormhole, and a long time to survive before G4 appeared. If the aliens had an ace up their sleeve, that would be the time to play it, when they had nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
She re-opened the comm with Ragnar. "Captain, I think we can even the odds a bit."
"I'm all ears, Admiral."
Joan pushed a series of orders to Ragnar. He glanced at them and then glared at her, "You want--
"Yes, Captain, that's what I want."
"But they'll be destroyed," Ragnar responded.
"Not if they're moving fast enough. Get whoever we can get back into the hangers, launch the rest without the pilots. Target the ships. Target Halcyon."
Ragnar stared at her, "Halcyon? That's a civilian--"
"Captain, I want those balls dumped and under full steam at the designated targets. That's an order."
Ragnar opened his mouth and then shut it. A hand came off screen and formed a salute. The comm was dropped shortly after. Almost immediately, the tactical fighters shifted flight plans and began their retreat toward the Oppenheimer. Simultaneously, the wing residing within the *Oppenheimer'*s hangers shifted from stand-by to active. Soon they would be launched, pushing top acceleration toward Halcyon. No EMP would be able to stop them. If the aliens had another card to play, Joan hoped this would force it out and maybe, just maybe, buy enough time for G4 to make an appearance.
She just needed a little time.
Just needed to survive long enough for the Pulsers to arrive.
Seconds mattered.
Next.
Be sure to leave a comment or an upvote if you're enjoying Alcubierre. If you want a sense of how much it matters to me, here's a very emo journal entry documenting it.
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I have been conducting a strange experiment on my Twitter which people seem to be enjoying. I found an AI bot that randomly posts impactful images every few minutes. I've decided to craft a narrative on top of these random images called "The Human Archives."
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[OC][UWDFF Alcubierre] Part 54

Beginning | Previous
Premier Valast felt a tingle. It began at the base of his spine and traveled moved upward, sending warm fuzzy feelings all throughout his body as it made its way to his brain and inserted itself in his conscious thoughts. After all of the misery. After all of the failures. For once, something had gone right.
How delightful. How extravagant. How deserved.
The Humans had made a mistake. Clearly, they had thought to expand upon their treachery, believing themselves to be invincible. Their monstrosity of a vessel had appeared just as their last one had, within Halcyon's inner perimeter. After their ruse of parlay, their beast had commenced belching out weapons of mass destruction, clearly in an attempt to retrieve the encryption key and the elite assassin-thief they had dispatched under the guise of a Witness.
They thought Halcyon weak. Defenseless.
Not true! Not true at all!
Kinetics. Valast laughed aloud, his rib cage heaving out great guffaws. Accelerated mass! More laughter. The savages thought to bring such inelegance against the might of the Combine? They mistook their prior fortune for competence. Their one-time success for future capability. Alas, poor Humans, the truth of your inadequacies is made manifest! The brief gap in the defenses brought on by the improbable chain of events that had resulted in their arrival had been filled. For all of their destructive potential, their weapons were useless.
Valast continued to cackle, his hindclaws scrunching up the soft material of his pillow, as he watched the Humans receive their punishment for their insolence. The Humans had made assumptions. Perhaps assumptions were fine in their backwater corner of the galaxy, but here, among civilization, assumptions could be quite dangerous indeed. It was quite unwise to assume Halcyon would leave the inner perimeter exposed. They must have thought their Evangi co-conspirators would leave the gates open for them, as the traitor Neeria had done when she had given them access to a Combine wormkey in the first place. Sadly for the Humans, their four-armed friends had been exposed for what they were. A great many of the Evangi now lay motionless on the floor of a Halcyon mainway, a fitting end to their perfidy.
Halcyon had stood since the beginning, and it would continue to stand long after the Human infestation had been expunged from the Combine Space. Perhaps the Humans should have spent more time pondering the nature of the place before they had meddled with forces they clearly did not understand. Halcyon existed in defiance of the chaotic nature of the neutron star it orbited. Its survival required an solution to the objects such a gravity well attracted. Halcyon had many such solutions, weaved together to maintain a delicate balance. Among them were the inertial dampeners.
The screen in Valast's paws bloomed with colors, indicating firings of Halcyon's inertial dampeners. Each blossom of color was an attempt by the Humans to deploy weapons in clear violation War Accords, cementing Humanity's position as a menace to decent civilization. Had Valast not commanded Bo'Bakka'Gah to take the necessary precautions, the devastation would have been significant.
Lines of crimson sailed through the blooms of color.
Valast's whiskers twitched, his eyes squinting as it tracked one of these lines.
The solution was not perfect. The intertial dampeners in close proximity to Halcyon were a final precaution, and their purpose was narrow. They were a fine net, meant to indiscriminately capture any residual high-speed astral particulate that had escaped the outer defenses. Their efficacy diminished at an exponential rate in proportion to the size and mass of the object they acted upon. Thus far, they had been quite successful at preventing the Humans from making use of their weapons, but dampeners had no effect on the Human vessels. Even if the dampeners could be used for such a purpose, their indiscriminate nature would have required the cessation of all space born travel within Halcyon, an unacceptable disruption to the workings of the Combine's capitol.
The Humans' small spherical vessels were thus capable of traveling unimpeded throughout Halcyon space, tracing their crimson lines behind them as they did so. Such a thing did not overly worry Valast. They could not fire their weapons, and they were susceptible to electromagnetic disruption, rendering them easy targets for the Peacekeepers. Were Valast not otherwise consumed with the affairs of state, he would perhaps take to the front line and dispatch a few himself. Sadly, his bravery would find no opportunity for direct expression beyond the valor found in the privilege of command competently exercised.
The whiskers ceased their twitching and some cheer returned. It would not be long before the meddlesome Human spheres were swatted from the sky and the encryption key recovered.
Then they would dispatch the Human warship.
Then Humanity.
He need only wait.
-----------
"Get spread. Get small." Sana called out. Had to buy time. Had to get a handle on the situation. Not her first rodeo, but it was the first time where she had no idea what the hell she was riding. Maybe the aliens were riding her. Maybe it wasn't a rodeo, maybe it was just a slaughter.
That was the problem. No one knew anything.
The callsigns in her local were dropping like flies. Squaddies getting wiped without so much as a peep. The eggs in Science were saying EMPs, but the balls were supposed to be fixed against that frakkery. Sensors said the balls were still there even after they went dead, so maybe they were right. Couldn't think about that now.
Couldn't think about anything but the mission.
Captain Sana Bushida had a shit-shuttle to bring to station.
She needed to get from A to B. Normally the quickest point-to-point was a line, but the baddies were coming in from all sides. Trying to corral her in. So be it. She could handle a long and squiggly with the juice she had in the four balls attached to the cockpit. Only question was how long they'd be up for. Whatever they were using on the balls wasn't touching her. She was good, but she wasn't that good.
Guess they wanted her kicking and screaming.
Predators, not scavengers then.
Frakk 'em. Right in their stupid alien faces.
Sana's brain shunted command signals as fast as her eyes to parse the readouts in her pilot pod. Dodging. Weaving. Diving. Dipping. Half those words didn't even apply to space, but they felt right. Float like a butterfly, run like cheetah on amphetos. She'd sting 'em later.
Run run run, fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the shit-shuttle can.
Swipe. Swipe.
Two smaller ships moved in a pincer formation, one cutting off her angle around the larger ship she was skimming around. Sana let out a giggle, as she shoved the shuttle in another direction. "You thought you had me, crapdonkey? You never had me. You're gonna be seeing my ass all day." The giggle somehow transformed into a roar halfway through as a third ship appeared in her view, coming out from its hiding place on the other side of the large ship. "SCREW YOU!" They weren't going to win. Losing wasn't an option.
Swipe.
Patterns emerged as the ballet played out. Certain ships were the herders. The small annoying frakks that always seemed to be moving around her flanks. Other ships were the receivers. They were the big boys. The ones who just floated there like giant shits in space. Lazy frakks just waiting to be fed some shit-shuttle. Fine then. New info. New tactics. New rule: Get around the herders, never get closer to the receivers.
Herders bad.
Receivers bad-der-er.
As long as she was a step ahead of the herders and two steps away from the receivers, she'd be fine. Problem was they were more agile than her. Problem was there was more of them. Problem was the friendly callsigns on her readouts kept disappearing. Problem was that she was stuck in here instead of out there where she belonged.
Ninety-nine problems...
Swipe. Swipe.
All she needed was a line of sight. A place where she could get a whiff of open space and just gun it. Navigate the maze. Get through it. Light at the end of the tunnel. Glass is half full.
Metaphor.
Analogy.
Idiom.
The stream of consciousness flowed out of her, expressing itself in her verbiage and in the desperately navigating shuttle some distance away. Step forward. No steps backward. Okay, maybe one step backward, but it'll be okay. She'd take the step forward soon enough.
Just...needed...a...line.
Alpha, Beta, Charlie, and Delta was gone.
It was just her.
Swipe. Swipe.
The fate of the world.
The shit-shuttle must survive.
Swipe. Swipe.
The gap opened.
She saw it.
They didn't.
"There it is bitches!"
All four balls slammed the thrusters on. It wasn't a direct bee line to the Oppenheimer but it was good enough. She just needed to get out of the hornet's nest and into open space so she could keep pouring on the acceleration. She didn't know how much juice the herders had, but it was all she had going for her at this point.
Bitter bile rose up in her throat as the shit-shuttle surged forward, leaving A through D behind. Her squaddies. Her friends.
Abandoned.
She should be out there.
She could be. She just needed to get the mission done. She was so close. She was putting distance between her and the baddies. Just a few more minutes...the link cut off.
Her thoughts were shunting into a wall.
She swiped, her eyes scanning the readouts.
Alcubierre - Shuttle - Cockpit (Ejection)(DISTRESS) no longer appeared.
For once, Sana was speechless.
---------------------
Kai retched air.
There was nothing else to throw up at this point. He'd given everything he had to give, and it was now floating about the cockpit in a viscous cloud. He was fairly certain Neeria was collateral damage in the matter. If she were ever to regain consciousness, she'd find she had been provided with a fresh coat of puke paint. At this point, being blind was something of a boon. Congratulations were owed to the sadist in the pilot's seat though, he hadn't emptied his stomach like this since flight sims.
He'd raise his hand in salute if it weren't for the incredible g-force shifts whipping him around like a rag doll as the pilot attempted to avoid whatever was out there. Some of the maneuvers seemed impossibly complex, as if the cockpit was navigating through an impassable morass of enemies. Or perhaps the pilot was just drunk. Either seemed possible.
The whipsawing continued. Back. Forth. Round and round. Acceleration never seemed to continue in a single direction for more than a few seconds. They were going in circles. They had to be.
Finally, it appeared the pilot had decided on a direction as Kai was slammed back into his chair as the cockpit rocketed forward under sustained acceleration. They must have broken through. Or the pilot had fallen asleep at the controls with the throttle down and they were all doomed. Either way. At this point, Kai was just eager for it to be over.
The acceleration continued. He felt like he was being crushed. Like an enormous hand was pressing against him, trying to squeeze all of his organs out through his eyes. Whatever was powering the cockpit now was beyond the parameters of the shuttle's acceleration compensators. His vision began to dim and his joints ached. Pain surged up in his right arm, which was still contorted within the goo. He was fairly certain a bone had just snapped.
"Oppenheimer..ETA," Kai managed to gasp out, drawing the breath back into his lungs with some effort.
"The shuttle is not currently on course to intercept with the UWDFF Oppenheimer."
"Joan." Kai wheezed. "Connect. Joan."
The acceleration cut off.
Kai took a huge gulp of air, the relief immediate. "Comm-link. Fleet Admiral Joan Orléans."
No response.
Kai tried again.
Silence greeted him.
Grumbling, he raised his left wrist toward his face. He stuck out his tongue and smeared it along the wrist console's interface. None of the expected beeps and chirps sounded out. It was dead, and, he suspected, so was the cockpit along with whatever had been propelling him. No life support. No way to call out for help. No way to do anything but sit there. For all intents and purposes, they were a hunk of space junk drifting off into the black oblivion.
Fair enough. It was a fitting end.
Helpless.
Hopeless.
Kai tried to muster some anger at the situation, if only to distract him from the pain coursing through his body, but found he was up to the task. It was easier to be motivated when there was something to do. Some way he could impact the situation. But there was nothing to do but wait. Maybe he'd live. Probably he'd die. He didn't mind it, that was the same binary he faced every other day. It was a bit more present in his mind than it normally was, but the truth was that he was overdue for demise. He'd given death the slip more times than anyone had a right to.
Still. It bothered him.
Not the death part. The not doing what he set out to do part.
He had run through walls, both literal and figurative, to make it this far. He didn't know what making it back to the Oppenheimer would mean for Humanity, but it had to be better than not making it. The encryption key -- what did it do? What could it do? Would it be doable? Neeria -- could she guide them? Could she help them navigate the treacherous galaxy Humanity was just beginning to play a part in?
There were so many questions. The answers could matter.
Kai tried to remember how much time they had. Without life support, the supply of oxygen would rapidly begin to deplete. He supposed it didn't matter, since he had no idea whether Neeria breathed, what Neeria she breathed, or the rate she consumed it. His space suit had a few hours of stored supply, but it was designed to work in conjunction with his helmet. Without the wrist console, he'd need to find some way to manually vent it.
That was something to do. Small, but perhaps meaningful. Anything to tilt the scales just a little bit more in their direction. Just a few more minutes of air could make a difference.
"Seconds matter," Kai wheezed out. His breath was wet and tasted of iron. He'd worry about that later. Air first. It wasn't much of a plan, but it was better than nothing.
He hoped Joan's plans were faring better.
-------------------
The Admiral's Bridge was awash in a sea of red. Multiple views vied for primacy as the situation continued to deteriorate. So far, the Oppenheimer itself had withstood the sustained EMP assault directed its way, but the same could not be said for the battle balls. Callsigns continued to blink out of existence with every passing second. The Oppenheimer had immediately attempted to provide supporting fire, but its kinetic weaponry was similarly disabled. Whatever the circumstances had been that had allowed the Alcubierre to destroy an alien vessel, they were clearly no longer relevant to the situation at hand. Without kinetics, the vast majority of Humanity's space-born projective power was effectively nullified. Science was looking into explanations and alternatives, but it would take time.
The Oppenheimer's EMP arrays had succeeded in firing, but the alien vessels appeared to be impervious to that form of assault. It was unclear whether they possessed EMP hardening around core processes similar to the Oppenheimer or they had other means of deflecting attacks of that nature. In the absence of an alternative, the Oppenheimer was continuously discharging the EMP arrays as they became available, attempting to test for weaknesses. The energy drain from the sustained fire was easily accommodated by the altered physics of local space, but it was unclear whether alien defenses could be worn down by continuous assault.
Other oddities were appearing as the situation unfolded. The aliens did not field any tactical fighters that their sensors could identify. There were ships of different sizes, but, thus far, no vessels had moved to directly engage the balls. Kai's cockpit was being corralled by a series of smaller ships working in conjunction with the larger ones, but that was it.
Joan considered it, trying to parse out deeper meanings from the absence. Human conflict, both Earthside and in space, had always heavily relied on tactical fighters. They had numerous advantages in terms of firepower projection and significantly increased tactical dynamism in a battle zone. Either the aliens had never considered the approach, or it was considered suboptimal within this environment.
Joan squinted, watching as the battle ball's callsigns dropped from the battle status view. She tilted her head. "This environment," she muttered to herself, her eyes drawn to the EMP array firing status. The recharge bars filled and expended. Filled and expended. Each cycle representing an incredibly powerful pulse of electromagnetic energy at the speed of light.
Speed of light.
Speed.
The answer struck her. The ramifications of the answer were displeasing. Plans must be altered. Contingencies reconsidered. The Black Fork was too optimistic. Their position was considerably worse than hoped for, but not entirely beyond anticipated outcomes, which had included their immediate destruction upon arrival in the system. They simply had fewer tools than she desired.
Tactical fighters had low utility when combat operated at the speed of light. There was no yield on agility, because no thruster could move faster than light could travel. There was no evading a lightspeed weapon at these distances. Unless a tactical fighter could retain functionality under fire, which the death balls so far could not, they were a pointless extravagance. At best, they could serve as a momentary distraction, particularly when their weapons were inoperable.
The unique characteristics of Humanity's birthplace were a hindrance here. Kinetics were the logical path for weaponry to take in an environment where destructive output was a matter of maximizing scarce energy resources. They were also the easiest, most natural extension from their Earthside forebears. Humanity had begun development of lightspeed weapons, the EMP and the Griggs pulse among them, but they placed tremendous strain on ship systems. The Oppenheimer, as a dreadcarrier, was among the few Earth spaceships that contained a full battery of EMP arrays. Due to the extremely demanding specifications, only a Pulser class ship could make use of a Griggs pulse. Had Humanity known what it faced just beyond its doorstep, it would have invested its research and development resources differently.
Too late now.
The game was not lost yet, they simply must play the hand they were dealt to its greatest effect.
A display flashed from green to red and moved toward the center of the wall, increasing in size. Simultaneously, three other displays shifted in color, position and size, in a chain reaction. Joan frowned. Or perhaps the game was lost, and she was only just realizing it. The shuttle cockpit's callsign, along with the four balls that had attached to it, had disappeared. Her hands darted up and began a series of gestures, swiping North to South as she removed some filters from the local space scan and South to North as she applied others.
She exhaled.
The shuttle had not been destroyed, only incapacitated. It was careening through space away from the cluster of alien ships closest to Halcyon, though a few were in rapid pursuit. The pursuers had acceleration in their favor, but the shuttle's current course brought them toward the Oppenheimer.
Joan flicked a few fingers, pulling the course data from the local scan and pushing it into the timer view.
Before Joan could issue the order, the nearest balls peeled off and immediately began an intercept course with the shuttle. Joan pulled up the command-chain, it appeared that Captain Bushida had decided to be proactive. Very well, but it would not be enough. The balls were more likely than not to be incapacitated before they could be used in any rescue effort. This required a more substantial intervention if the outcome were to be changed.
Joan pushed a new course heading into her comm-link with Ragnar. "Captain, I am moving us off of the Black Fork standing orders."
Ragnar glanced at the course heading. "That's even further in."
Joan nodded, "It's the only way we'll recover the cockpit. The balls can't get the job done."
"There's a risk the Oppenheimer won't get it done either. They're holding back," Ragnar replied, his eyes scanned off screen, bouncing between the various readouts and inbound requests. "Doesn't make any sense they'd only have EMPs. They've got more."
"Likely. My current belief is that they will refrain from further escalation until they have either secured the cockpit or believe they can no longer retrieve it. Each moment of escalation from them has been in response to an action on our part directed at the cockpit."
Ragnar wiped the back of his sleeve against his brow, mopping up the sweat. "Must be something important."
"Must be. The prize is likely worth the pain here, Ragnar. Retrieving the cockpit is the top priority. Preservation of ourselves is an ancillary concern."
"G4 is only a few out. We can hold that long," Ragnar said.
"Get the job done, Captain," Joan ordered and then cut the comm. Ragnar was a sophisticated battlefield tactician. The overlap between them was significant, and the differences between them were accretive to both. They both knew there was another card to be played, it was just a matter of whether Humanity could adapt to it.
Joan opened another comm-link. "Chief Adeyemi."
The Chief blinked a few times as the interjection, as if being pulled from a daze.
"Idara!" Joan exclaimed. "Where's Science at?"
Idara wet her lips, "We've gathered the data and mapped it to a few different explanations...but we need more--"
"You don't have it. Best guess, go."
"Some sort of inertial dampening field. Effects smaller objects. Weakens as the objects get larger. Only affects objects moving a certain speed. Only affects objects in space. Our kinetics are getting caught. Bigger objects, like the fighters, like the Oppenheimer, are fine. Bullets fired inside of the Oppenheimer are fine.
"Any sense on source?"
Idara shook her head.
"But it doesn't effect the fighters. Doesn't effect energy based weapons."
"From what we can see, that's right."
Joan's eyes drifted toward the tracker on Kai's cockpit. Hurtling through space.
"Idara, when the Alcubierre was heading for Proxima Barrier, your modeling said the ship would survive the impact, correct?"
"Yes, Admiral. There isn't an equal an opposite reaction. Actor has primacy in these physics."
Joan stared at Idara, lost in thought. The Chief shifted uncomfortably, "Is there something else--"
"I have what I need," Joan replied, cutting the comm.
She pulled up the status tracker on the balls. Over eight-five percent of launched fighters had already been incapacitated. The Oppenheimer still retained a final wing in its hangers, numbering approximately a hundred and twenty additional balls.
Joan watched the timers ticking down. They needed to go on the offensive. To find a way to tilt the situation in their favor. Even if they retrieved the cockpit, it was a long way back to the wormhole, and a long time to survive before G4 appeared. If the aliens had an ace up their sleeve, that would be the time to play it, when they had nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
She re-opened the comm with Ragnar. "Captain, I think we can even the odds a bit."
"I'm all ears, Admiral."
Joan pushed a series of orders to Ragnar. He glanced at them and then glared at her, "You want--
"Yes, Captain, that's what I want."
"But they'll be destroyed," Ragnar responded.
"Not if they're moving fast enough. Get whoever we can get back into the hangers, launch the rest without the pilots. Target the ships. Target Halcyon."
Ragnar stared at her, "Halcyon? That's a civilian--"
"Captain, I want those balls dumped and under full steam at the designated targets. That's an order."
Ragnar opened his mouth and then shut it. A hand came off screen and formed a salute. The comm was dropped shortly after. Almost immediately, the tactical fighters shifted flight plans and began their retreat toward the Oppenheimer. Simultaneously, the wing residing within the *Oppenheimer'*s hangers shifted from stand-by to active. Soon they would be launched, pushing top acceleration toward Halcyon. No EMP would be able to stop them. If the aliens had another card to play, Joan hoped this would force it out and maybe, just maybe, buy enough time for G4 to make an appearance.
She just needed a little time.
Just needed to survive long enough for the Pulsers to arrive.
Seconds mattered.
PerilousPlatypus
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Tales of Grayhall - (Adventure #1, Part 4)

Tales of Grayhall - A Scarlet Heroes Campaign (Adventure #1, Part 4)

 
Character sheet
Adventure #1, Part 3
Adventure #1, Part 2
Adventure #1, Part 1
 
In the previous session, Nikova brawled with a group of drunkards at a brothel, learned his suspect was in some presumably sketchy club and recruited the Chieftain’s eldest son along with his personal group of guards to help him crash the club meeting. I feel this will naturally beget a conflict scene, so that’s what we’ll start with this session.
 
 
{Conflict scene: 1d10 = 1 = Waylay a minion of the foe. Face a Fight instead of a check. Fight Difficulty: 1d8 + (1/2(T), rounded down) = 3 + 1 = 4 = 1d4+T Rabble +1 Veteran = 2 + 1 Rabble +1 Veteran = 3 Rabble and 1 Veteran. Potential foes: 1d8 = 3, 1d10 = 1 = Aged Veteran. That worked out well. Now the Rabble: 1d8 = 4, 1d10 = 10 = Watchful Neighbor. Hmmm. I’ll say the suspect will opt into the scrap and she will be a Rabble since she doesn’t have much fighting experience. I’ll consult oracles regarding club intent as it becomes pertinent.}
With covert haste we approached the brothel. I hope we aren’t too late and the group remains in session. Fyodor’s 4 guards form a semi-circle around him, myself and the rear door of the building with practiced precision. Fyodor and I listen closely. Voices can be heard within. I recognize the gruff voice of the miner and signal my ally accordingly.
He knocks. “Chieftain’s Guard! May we enter?”
Rustling can be heard from within before a response is delivered. “Aye!” We enter, closing the door behind us to hide the semicircle of guards.
The miner is immediately on edge. Recognition in her eyes indicates that I am the source of her unease. She’s not the head of this quadrumvirate. An older Dwarf from the Soldier Clan is the obvious leader. He glances over at the miner, showing his senses are still as keen as ever, and sees how she has set her teeth in a slight grimace. {Is this enough cause for the Veteran to initiate combat? Binary Oracle (likelihood unknown): 1d20 = 2 = No.} They share a silent look and she relents.
“Copperhew. Spearstander. Honor.” He greets us with a customary bow and we do so likewise. His face does not stray from the solemnity carved thereupon, yet his voice escalates ever slightly to a more positive tone. “How can we serve our Chieftain?”
“As you know, our Clan meetings are this day so we have bolstered security. Report of a small group gathering in the area is a reason to be wary, you understand. We are checking the area to ensure safety of the village.”
{NPC Reaction (unfriendly NPC): 2d6 -1 for the risk of significant cost to their actions = 5 - 1 = 4 = Scorn.}
“I am a decorated soldier! How dare you imply high treason! I defend my honor!” He lurches forward as he draws a small dagger and combat begins.
{Veteran: [HD: 2. AC: 5. Hit: +2. Dmg: 1d8. Morale: 9. Skill: +1. Move: 20’] Rabbles (miner, A, and B): [HD: 1. AC: 9. Hit: +1. Dmg: 1d4. Morale: 8. Skill: +1. Move: 30’]}
{Nikova draws his warhammer and attacks the Veteran: 1d20 + Attribute Mod + Atk Bonus + Veteran AC = 15 + 2 + 1 + 5 = 23. Success! Dmg: 1d8 + 2 = 4 + 2 = 6. 2HD damage! Veteran incapacitated! Fray die: 1d8 = 6. 2 more HD damage! Nikova targets the other unknown Dwarves and handily knocks them out.}
The Veteran’s senses were definitely still keen, but his speed betrayed him. In a single movement my warhammer’s pommel struck him atop his crown. He lay unconscious. My attention turns to two other Dwarves approaching with no regard to the fate of their superior combatant. Being mindful to use non-lethal force, I quickly send them to greet the brothel’s floorboards. Fyodor straightens his stance as if to offer truce to the remaining club member; our miner.
{My scene prompt is to waylay a minion of the foe. I feel this means she’s going to attack for sure, but I won’t run that as combat. Nikova has quickly won this exchange so it’s safe to say between him and Fyodor, the miner is not going to change the outcome. I’ll assume Nikova is able to neutralize her attack and she is then taken into the guards’ custody.}
She declines to change her intent and thus charges. Spearstander maneuvers so I can catch the hand with which she is wielding her pickaxe. “No, miner. This is not your fate. I saw that ore and you know I did. You’re a precious gift to your Clan. Speak up and allow us to help you. Our Chieftain’s own son will ensure your protection.”
{NPC reaction (unfriendly NPC): 2d6 -1 for the risk of significant cost to their actions = 5 - 1 = 4 = Scorn.}
“I don’t need your fucking help,” she hissed through gritted teeth. “I’ve been always been on me own and done just fine. Ye’ll get nothing from me, pig.” Recalcitrant words dart from her mouth like stingers, however she drops the pickaxe all the same. She knows she is not within her element with regard to combat and therefore must answer for her treason of attacking Chieftain blood along with her snoozing commerads. Fyodor whistles a signal that brings the guards inside to collect the perpetrators.
“We broke up a threat, for sure, but we didn’t learn anything either. I thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’ll try to find out what the purpose of this little group is once they awaken.”
“Spearstander. Honor.” I bow to Fyodor as he and his guards escort their prisoners. I have more questions than answers, however I cannot shake the feeling I’m closer to the truth much more now than ever.
 
{Successful Conflict Scene! +1 Victory Point for Nikova and -1 Victory Point for the antagonist. These Dwarves attacked important figures to the clan and therefore no Heat was earned as a result of their beatdown. Antagonist VP roll (investigation + action scenes = 3 + 2 = 5): 1d10 = 2 = yes. +1 VP. Victory Point totals: Nikova 7, Antagonist 3. Heat: 1}
 
 
{I feel from here another investigation scene is prudent. Investigation Scene: 1d10 = 3 = Tail an Actor who might have a Clue. On a check failure, face a Fight. Roll Actor: 1d8 = 1, 1d10 = 3, 1d3 (1d6 cut in half, rounded up) = 1 = 1. Commoner. Beautiful young mistress. Actor Relationship: 1d100 = 22 = Crime Culprit. Wow! Here we go!}
I begin to search around the room for any information that may point me in the next direction. My search is shallow at first so I don’t disturb anything beyond that which resulted from the scuffle. I must have been quietly deep in thought because the creak of the door leading further into the brothel seemed as loud as a hawk’s screech! I turn my head in that direction to see only the face of a young female Dwarf. {Memorable Trait: 1d100 = 10 = Asthmatic} Clearly, she was not expecting anyone to be in the room because my presence startled her a great deal. She inhaled a loud gasp which immediately turned into a coughing fit.
Between coughs she choked out, “Ack!... I’m sorry, sir!... I saw guards… remove some patrons and since it was… quiet… I didn’t think anyone was in here! Please excuse me. Carry on.” She darts away before I can offer to fetch her a drink.
As I ponder this scenario a bit longer, the thought strikes me how little time had elapsed between the escort and her attempt to enter the room. I allow my instinct to carry along the suspicion and I leave the building.
For the time being, I wait around the corner of a nearby building with an eye on the brothel. Soon, a cloaked individual peeks out of the rear door. They establish the coast is clear and quickly walk out carrying something. My ears pick up a wheezing and I can assert this figure must be the beautiful girl from moments ago. I do my best to give her some distance and then begin stealthy pursuit.
{This will be an opposed check because Nikova is trying to tail her and she’s trying to go unnoticed to her destination. Young Mistress: 2d8 + 1 for general skill bonus since she’s been able to avoid detection this far in the adventure = 5 + 1 = 6. Nice! Nikova: 2d8 + 1 for Dex + 1 for lightning reflexes = 12 + 1 + 1 = 14. Success!!}
She’s not running full tilt and I have honed in on the sound of her labored breath. Even when she dips out of sight I’m able to track her down quickly. She turns to look back only a few times and thanks to the hood of her cloak, I have just enough time to strafe behind cover before her field of vision can catch me. She eventually reaches a small home not too far from the Chieftain’s fortification. Something is not sitting well with this at all… Not to mention the fact that she was now carrying something which was not in her possession when I first saw her. I suspect she collected it from that room and I’ll wager it has something to do with the ruffians removed from thence. I remain hidden from view of the home’s windows and consider my options.
{Investigation Scene Successful! +1 Victory Point! +1 Clue! Antagonist VP roll (investigation + action scenes = 4 + 2 = 6): 1d10 = 7 = no. Woohoo!! Victory Point Totals: Nicova 8, Antagonist 3. Heat: 1}
 
 
BRUH! These were fun! I’m digging not having to drag out these scenes! Pick the scene, generate something that makes sense, resolve the challenge, then set up for the next scene. Easy peasy! It also helps that my rolls have been fantastic lately, so fate has been quite kind. I feel like the easiest path from here would be to try maybe one more investigation scene and then a conflict scene. If I win them both, I’ll hit 10 Victory points by a margin of 7 and can move immediately to an action scene to try winning the campaign. If I fail the action scene, I still have a spare clue to get straight into a second attempt. Sort of like a failsafe.
Thanks to all of you following along! Take a rest and we will rendezvous again in haste!
Reign
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The Division 2 - Episode 1: D.C. Outskirts - Patch Notes

Patch Notes: Episode 1 - July 23rd, 2019

 

New Main Mission: Manning National Zoo

Emeline Shaw, the leader of the Outcasts, has fallen back from her defeat on Roosevelt Island and barricaded herself deep in the Manning National Zoo. To get to her, you will need to fight through the blockades and the Outcasts who protect her to put an end to her violence.
 

New Main Mission: Camp White Oak

The Black Tusks and their leader have set up a strategic position close to an estate nestled deep in the woodlands, and your assignment is to take them down and capture him in the new Camp White Oak mission.
 

New Feature: Expeditions

Expeditions are free events that bring players to unexplored locations around D.C. to discover new narrative and gameplay opportunities. These sites offer unique challenges and lore not found anywhere else: new collectibles, treasure rooms, environmental puzzles, unique boss mechanics, and more await every Agent who embarks on our Expeditions!
New Classified Assignment: Central Aquarium New Classified Assignment: NSA Site B13
 

Shepherd Reward System – Call for Backup

  • Added the ability to earn the “Shepherd” title by responding to call for backups and earning endorsements. An agent who received help will be able to endorse the helping agent.
 

Raid

  • Added Discovery Mode difficulty for the Operation Dark Hours raid.
  • Added Raid Completion Time to Clan Leaderboards. This leaderboard ranks clans based on how quickly they were able to complete the raid as a clan-only party.
 

Exotics

New Exotic: Diamondback Exotic Rifle
  • Lever action rifle
  • 5 round magazine
  • 100 RPM
  • Talents:
    • "Agonizing Bite"
      • Diamondback randomly marks an enemy. Hitting that enemy consumes the mark, guaranteeing a critical hit with +20% total damage. A new random enemy is marked afterwards, and whenever you reload.
    • "Deep Fangs"
      • After hitting 5 marked enemies, gain +50% reload speed, +20% total damage and all shots fired are guaranteed critical hits for 10s.
    • "Shedding Skin"
      • While drawn, each time a round is loaded, gain +20% bonus armor for 3s. While holstered, each time you reload or cycle your current weapon, gain +8% bonus armor for 2s
 

New Exotic: BTSU Exotic Gloves

  • Black Tusk gloves
  • Talents:
    • "Elemental Gadgetry"
      • Skills that apply status effects gain +50% status effect duration and +50% skill haste
    • "Energy Infusion"
      • Whenever you apply a status effect, your gloves become infused with that for 60s. While infused, you gain +10% skill damage, +10% skill healing and repair and +10% skill duration for each Utility (yellow battery) on your gear.
    • "Charged Proxies"
      • Whenever you throw a skill, 1.25s after landing, it creates an explosion applying the infused status effect to all enemies within 6m. Enemies affected by the infused status effect take 50% more damage from your skills.
  • Heroic Bosses now drop Exotics
    • Only exotics that the player is qualified for.
      • For world drop exotics it requires that the player has the drop previously
      • For crafted exotics, it requires that the player has the blueprint
      • Eagle Bearer remains exclusive to the Operation Dark Hours Raid
    • The purpose of dropping these is to allow a chance to get GS 500 variants without upgrading, or get materials to upgrade other exotics
    • These exotics can be team shared to other players.
  • Exotic items no longer have a random range on their damage/armor roll. All exotics are set to the previous highest possible value. This also affects existing exotic items.
 

Weapons

New Assault Rifle: Carbine 7
  • 30 round mag
  • 790 RPM
  • By default rolls with a new talent:
    • "Overflowing"
      • Every 3 reloads from empty increases your magazine capacity by 100%
 
New Light Machine Gun: Stoner LMG
  • 580 RPM
  • 200 Mag capacity
  • By default rolls with a new talent:
    • "Overwhelm"
      • Suppressing an enemy, that is not currently suppressed, grants +5% weapon damage for 10 seconds. Max stack is 5.
 
  • Increased the base damage of Shotguns in PvE.
    • M870: +36% damage
    • AA12: +29% damage
    • Super 90: +33% damage
    • SASG-12: +33% damage
    • SPAS12 +8% damage
 

Weapon Mods

  • Added Flashlight attachments for pistols
 

Skills

Developer Comments: We took a hard look at the current meta. The builds that are fun, effective and popular. We knew that skill builds, while it being something people want to play with, was nowhere near competitive. We knew there was an explosives damage build that was on the fringe of popularity, but none that actually relied on really good skill mods driven by skill power.
We analyzed the best damage builds and survivability builds out there and looked at their efficiency - how fast they kill, how fast they can clear content, how fast they can take down enemies - and mapped that to our skills. How much more power do skills need to get from 3K skill power (our current maximum requirement on skill power mods) to compensate for all the damage bonuses the player is "giving up" on gear to reach that skill power?
Then we looked at each skill and what it should be good at (burst, sustain, single target damage, survivability etc) and went to work tuning the mods to make a skill build approach the efficiency of a "red" damage build or a "blue" tank build. To that effect, here are the current changes to skill mods power levels, and in some cases base numbers, on skills.
 

Skill Haste

Cooldown Reduction has been replaced with skill haste. Skill haste works equivalent to speed. So 100% skill haste reduces cooldown by 50%, like a car speeding up by 100% getting to it's destination in half the time. This means that the player can invest in more than 100% Haste and still get something back. It also means there's a diminishing return to Skill Haste, as opposed to cooldown reduction where each point was actually worth more than the last one. This allows us to have a good amount of Skill Haste possible from gear, but even larger amounts granted by high skill power Skill Mods, granting skill builds more frequent access to their souped up skills.
To that effect, these are the changes to Haste (formerly Cooldown Reduction)
  • Removed the 90% Cooldown Reduction hard cap
  • Lowered the minimum Cooldown cap for all skills from 10 seconds to 3, except for the Chem Launcher which is now 8
  • Renamed all instances of Cooldown Reduction on existing gear to Skill Haste, with a 50% increase to their base values
  • Eg: +10% Cooldown Reduction will become +15% Skill Haste
  • Increased Surge talent Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +20%
  • Increased Alps Summit Armament 1-piece Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +20%
  • Increased China Light Industries Corporation 3-piece Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +30%
  • Increased Petrov Defense Group 3-piece Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +30%
  • Increased Tip of the Spear 3-piece Skill Haste bonus from +20% to +40%
 

Specialization Skill Mods (granted from each spec tree)

  • Removed all Skill Power requirements
  • Bonuses greatly improved to provide a strong initial boost to the skill platform
  • Demolitionist
    • Cyclone Magazine - Extra Mortar Ammo bonus increased from +1 to +3
    • SHD CPU V.2 - Damage increased from +7% to +100%
  • Survivalist
    • Magnetic Disc - Skill Haste increased from +9.7% to +80%
    • Larrea Tridenta Infusion - Healing bonus increased from +14.5% to +50%
  • Sharpshooter
    • Graphene Battery - Duration increased from +14.5% to +80%
    • Carbon Fiber Frame - Skill Haste increased from +9.7% to +80%
  • Gunner
    • Microwave Amplifier - +30% Banshee Pulse Confuse Duration
    • Directional Transmitter - +30% Banshee Pulse Cone Size
 

Skill Platform Changes

Pulse
  • Scanner
    • Scanner Pulse will now begin its cooldown after a 3 second delay on activation, rather than at the end of the Pulse effect's duration
    • Lowered Scanner Pulse base radius from 52m to 50m
    • Lowered Scanner Pulse cooldown from 90s to 40s
  • Remote
    • Lowered Remote Pulse cooldown from 120s to 60s
  • Jammer
    • Lowered Jammer Pulse cooldown from 120s to 90s
Turret
  • Assault
    • Increased Assault Turret base damage by 22.5%
    • Increased Assault Turret base duration from 120s to 300s
    • Lowered Assault Turret cooldown 120s to 60s
  • Incinerator
    • Lowered Incinerator Turret base damage by 60%
    • Increased Incinerator Turret base burn damage by 60%
    • Lowered Incinerator Turret base burn duration from 5s to 4s
    • Increased Incinerator Turret base duration from 120s to 300s
    • Lowered Incinerator Turret cooldown from 120s to 90s
  • Sniper
    • Increased Sniper Turret base ammo from 5 to 6
    • Lowered Sniper Turret cooldown from 240s to 60s
  • Artillery
    • Lowered Artillery Turret cooldown from 240s to 60s
  • Increased Turret platform base health by 100%
Hive
  • Restorer
    • Increased Restorer Hive base healing amount by 50%
    • Increased Restorer Hive base health by 20%
    • Lowered Restorer Hive cooldown from 240s to 90s
  • Stinger
    • Stinger Hive damage is no longer affected by Explosive Damage modifiers
    • Increased Stinger Hive base health by 50%
    • Lowered Stinger Hive cooldown from 240s to 90s
  • Booster
    • Increased Booster Hive base health by 33.3%
    • Lowered Booster Hive cooldown from 240s to 90s
Chem Launcher
  • Firestarter
    • Increased Firestarter Chem Launcher base burn damage by 60%
    • Lowered Firestarter Chem Launcher base burn duration from 5s to 4s
  • Riot Foam
    • Increased Riot Foam Chem Launcher base radius from 1.5m to 3m
Firefly
  • Blinder
    • Lowered Blinder Firefly base blind duration from 8s to 6s
  • Burster
    • Lowered base damage of Burster Firefly by 20%
    • Lowered Burster Firefly cooldown from 90s to 60s
  • Demolisher
    • Lowered base damage of Demolisher Firefly by 25%
    • Lowered Demolisher Firefly cooldown from 90s to 60s
Seeker Mine
  • Explosive
    • Increased Explosive Seeker Mine base damage by 42.8%
  • Airburst
    • Increased Airburst Seeker Mine base burn damage by 60%
    • Lowered Airburst Seeker Mine base burn duration from 5s to 4s
  • Cluster
    • Increased Cluster Seeker Mine base damage by 33.3%
    • Increased Cluster Seeker Mine explosion radius from 3m to 4m
    • Lowered Cluster Seeker Mine cooldown from 90s to 40s
  • Mender
    • Increased Mender Seeker Mine base duration from 120s to 300s
    • Lowered Mender Seeker Mine cooldown from 180s to 60s
Drone
  • Striker
    • Increased Striker Drone base damage by 7.1%
    • Increased Striker Drone base duration from 120s to 300s
    • Lowered Striker Drone cooldown from 180s to 60s
    • Lowered Striker Drone base health by -20%
  • Defender
    • Lowered damage reduction from 100% to 80% (20% in PvP)
    • Increased Defender Drone base duration from 20s to 40s
    • Increased Defender Drone base health by 100%
  • Bombardier
    • Lowered Bombardier Drone cooldown from 120s to 60s
    • Lowered Bombardier Drone base health by -46.6%
    • Increased Bombardier Drone base bomb blast radius from 3 to 4 meters
  • Fixer
    • Increased Fixer Drone base health by 60%
    • Increased Fixer Drone base duration from 180s to 300s
    • Lowered Fixer Drone cooldown from 180s to 60s
  • Tactician
    • Increased Tactician Drone base duration from 180s to 300s
    • Lowered Tactician Drone cooldown from 180s to 60s
    • Lowered Tactician Drone base health by -73.3%
Ballistic Shield
  • Ballistic Shield base health regeneration is now percentage based and scales with the total health of the shield
    • 5% HP/s Holstered Regeneration
    • 2.5% HP/s Active Regeneration
  • Bulwark
    • Increased Bulwark Ballistic Shield base health by 33%
    • Lowered Bulwark Shield cooldown from 240s to 40s
  • Crusader
    • Lowered Crusader Shield cooldown from 240s to 40s
  • Deflector
    • Lowered Deflector Ballistic Shield base health by 6.6%
    • Lowered Deflector Shield cooldown from 240s to 40s
 

Skill Mod Changes

All numbers based on maximum (3000 skill power) mod attribute rolls
Hive
  • Extra Payload - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Experimental Blend - Changed from flat value to percentage based increase of base Healing amount (+50%)
  • Experimental Blend - Stim Efficiency bonus increased from +20% to +50%
  • Experimental Blend - Buff Duration bonus increased from +20% to +50%
  • Nitroglycerin Mixture - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Nitroglycerin Mixture - Healing bonus +50% variant added
  • Cooling Vents - Skill Haste bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Internal Storage - Charges bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Swarm Control - Charges bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Radar Signal Antennas - Duration bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Network Firewall - Radius bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Network Firewall - Duration bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Steel Harness - Health bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Polycarbonate Wiring - Health bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
Turret
  • Magnetic Rail - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +150%
  • Lubrication Gel - Duration bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Lubrication Gel - Incinerator Turret Burn Strength +100% variant added
  • Cyclone Magazine - Extra Mortar Ammo +8 variant added
  • Cyclone Magazine - Extra Sniper Ammo +12 variant added
  • Spare Parts - Skill Haste bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Organic Circuits - Duration bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Ammo Box - Extra Sniper Ammo bonus increased from +3 to +12
  • Ammo Box - Extra Mortar Ammo bonus increased from +2 to +8
  • Ammo Box - Mortar Radius +50% variant added
  • SHD CPU V.2 - Damage +150% variant added
  • Multi-tool - Skill Haste bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Weather Coating - Health bonus lowered from +120% to +100%
  • Carbon Fiber Barrel - Health bonus lowered from +120% to +100%
Pulse
  • Nickel-Chromium Wire - Skill Haste bonus increased from +60% to +200%
  • Nickel-Chromium Wire - Remote Pulse Skill Haste +300% variant added
  • Silicon Carbide Coil - Charging Speed bonus increased from +30% to +50%
  • Exploded Blueprint - Skill Haste bonus increased from +60% to +200%
  • Heating Mantle - Charging Speed bonus increased from +30% to +50%
  • Distributed Architecture - Radius bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Super Glue Pulse - Radius bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Unstable Oscillator - Effect Duration bonus lowered from 55% to 50%
  • Atmospheric Analyzer - Effect Duration bonus lowered from 55% to 50%
Seeker Mine
  • Mini Electric Motor - Skill Haste bonus increased from +40% to 200%
  • Delivery System Upgrade - +100% Damage variant added
  • Ball Bearings - Damage bonus increased from +30% to 100%
  • Magnetic Disc - Skill Haste +200% variant added
  • Phosphorus Ingredient - Healing bonus increased from 60% to 100%
  • RDX Pellet Payload - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • RDX Pellet Payload - Airburst Burn Strength +100% variant added
  • Larrea Tridenta Infusion - Healing +100% variant added
  • Brushless DC-motor - Health bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Sturdy Piston - Health bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
Chem Launcher
  • Piranha Solution - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Piranha Solution - Firestarter Burn Strength +100% variant added
  • Chromatics Training - Radius bonus increased from +30% to +50%
  • Slip Fit Tube - Skill Haste bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Cell Penetrating Peptide - Healing bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Hydrochloric Infusion - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Ultra-Thin Cartridges - Radius bonus increased from +30% to +50%
  • Liquid Nitrogen Cooling System - Skill Haste bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Pharmacokinetic Enhancer - Healing bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Imbued Metal String - Ensnare Health bonus lowered from +60% to +50%
  • Polypropylene Recipe - Ensnare Health bonus lowered from +60% to +50%
Drone
  • Graphene Battery - Duration +100% variant added
  • Electric Soldering Tool - Skill Haste bonus increased from +40% to +100%
  • Gimbal Vibration Damping - Health bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Blitzkrieg Blasting Powder - Striker Damage +600% variant added
  • Blitzkrieg Blasting Powder - Radius bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Freedom Package - Radius bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Carbon Fiber Frame - Skill Haste +100% variant added
  • Reinforced Rotor Blades - Health bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Terminal Ballistics - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +200%
  • Trauma Analyzer - Healing bonus increased from +30% to +50%
  • Trauma Analyzer - Deflector Duration +50% variant added
  • Gaffer Tape - Duration bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Hollow-point Bullets - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +200%
  • Micropulsing Stimuli - Healing bonus increased from +30% to +50%
  • Micropulsing Stimuli - Fixer Skill Haste +100% variant added
Shield
  • Adaptive Insulation Foam - Skill Haste bonus increased from 60% to 100%
  • Synthetic Mineral Frame - Skill Haste bonus increased from 60% to 100%
  • Titanium Reinforcement - Health bonus increased from +45% to +100%
  • Shape-memory Alloy - Deflected Damage bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Cementitious Material - Holstered Regeneration bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Weaved Aramid Fiber - Health bonus increased from +45% to +100%
  • Supramolecular Networks - Active Regeneration bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Liquid Metal Microdroplets - Holstered Regeneration bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Thermoresponsive Polymer - Deflected Damage bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Smart UHMWPE Lexicon - Active Regeneration bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Smart UHMWPE Lexicon - Ballistic Shield Health +100% variant added
Firefly
  • Alignment Valve - Damage +100% variant added
  • Tungsten Compound - Damage +100% variant added
  • Propantriol Adhesive - Skill Haste bonus increased from +40% to +200%
  • Microfiller Resin - Skill Haste bonus increased from +40% to +200%
  • Hardened Casing - Health bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Tungsten Compound - Max Targets bonus increased from +3 to +5
  • Guiding System - Max Targets bonus increased from +3 to +5
 

Crafting

  • Added a crafting bench upgrade in World Tier 5 that allows players to craft at Gear Score 500. The items crafted are gear score 500, there will be no random range in terms of gear score/power. The bench upgrade is given to players when they complete the “Enter WT5”-project (same as all the other bench upgrades in endgame, the upgrade will be available at the bench once the bench is upgraded to World Tier 5). Players already in WT5 will automatic get it as they log in, The upgrade requires 1 weapon and 1 gear piece of Gear Score 490+, and some of each Specialized (blue) material Crafted items can be used in recalibration, both as materials and to be improved
  • Deconstructing High-End gear now guarantees a brand material (increased from 50% drop chance). Named branded items also award the brand mat on deconstruction
  • Deconstructing gear set items awards 4 of each Specialized (blue) material
  • Added an opt-in perk for the player to share blueprints and materials between characters in endgame. Some Blueprints and mats are excluded to not break game logic/progression, such as the specific exotic materials. This perk can be crafted and the blueprint is available at Inaya, the Crafting vendor.
  • The blueprints awarded from control points, vendors and projects are merged into one pool of rewards. Players can get all these blueprints from all three sources. Once the pools has been exhausted, none of the sources will give more blueprints.
 

Grenades

  • Increased the radius of the Gunner's Riot Foam Grenade from 2m to 3m
 

PvP

  • Changed shotgun PvP modifier to 1.0 (was 1.65)
    • Net result in PvP with revised normalization modifiers:
      • M870: -14% damage
      • AA12: -21% damage
      • Super90: -17% damage
      • SASG-12: -17% damage
      • SPAS12: -42% damage
  • Changed the general PvP modifier to 0.55 (was 0.40)
 

Specializations

  • Reduced the TAC-50 signature weapon’s damage per shot
 

Talents

  • Calculated Talent reduced to 20% from 10%. Now works off any kill from cover instead of weapon kills.
 

Vendors

  • Cassie Now sells GS 500 items. She sells normal gear, some exotics and named weapons
 

UI

  • Improved player feedback when trying to pick up ammo with maximum signature weapon ammo
  • Inspecting a player now allows inspection of weapons, grenades and skills
 

3C

  • Intercepted projectile by the deflector drone now do a % damage, rather than binary be dropped or not
  • Return player control quicker after dropping down
  • Reduced Depth of Field strength when aiming
  • Improved reload + interaction prioritization (if you hold down the interact, it will cancel the reload and start the interaction)
  • Improved player replication for players with widely different quality connections, should reduce inconsistent speedup/freezing of remote players
 

Audio

  • Slapback System enabled: The gunshot echo system that was featured briefly in the private beta prior to launch has been re-enabled
 

Localization

  • Improved Arabic voice-over localization
  • Added missing lore description for Dodge Citys Gunslinger Holster
 

Bug Fixes

Skills
  • Cyclone Magazine +Extra Sniper Ammo variant added to all loot list quality tiers
  • Unstable Oscillator and Atmosperic Analyzer Pulse Mods now properly reference the correct Effect Duration platform modifier
  • Vac Pack and Guiding System Firefly mods now correctly increase Max Targets by the amount listed on the tooltip
  • Distributed Architecture and Super Glue Pulse mods no longer affect the radius/range of the Banshee Pulse
  • Explosive Seeker Mine radius now correctly says 5m in the Skills UI
  • Cluster Seeker Mine radius is now displayed in the Skills UI
  • Explosive and Cluster Seeker Mines now show the correct explosion radius before detonating
  • Incinerator Turret burn damage is now affected by all increases to Skill Damage from geatalents
  • Firestarter Chem Launcher burn damage is now affected by all increases to Skill Damage from geatalents
  • Firestarter Chem Launcher now correctly states that it inflicts fire damage.
  • Added missing Artillery Turret & Tactician Drone showcase videos.
  • Airburst burn damage is now affected by all increases to Skill Damage from geatalents
  • Fixed an issue causing the Chem Launcher cooldown to reset when restocking ammo
  • Fixed an issue where the Turret skill could deploy inside a wall under certain circumstances
  • Fixed an issue causing the reviver hive to not revive players when thrown
  • Fixed skill mods requirement having an invisible decimal, resulting in incorrect power requirement information
  • Fixed the Banshee Pulse skill mod description to state that it applies Confusion status effect on affected target
 
Conflict
  • Fixed an AFK related exploit in the Conflict PvP mode
  • Fixed several locations on Conflict maps where players could ignore damage when behind cover
 
Weapons & Gear
  • Fixed an issue where the Sweet Dreams and Lullaby upgrade blueprints wouldn't appear on the crafting vendor under certain circumstances
  • Fixed an issue where some Longe Range Pack "Sett" backpacks could roll with 0% weapon damage on Specialized (blue) quality
  • Fixed an issue where the opportunistic talent did not work in PvP.
  • Fixed an issue causing armor rolls below the minimum advertised when upgrading an exotic gear piece.
 
Missions & Open World
  • Fixed an issue causing players to become stuck during the “Reach the first hall” objective in the Air & Space museum mission
  • Fixed a loot exploit in the Invaded Capitol Hill stronghold
  • Fixed enemies becoming stuck in their spawn rooms in the “Museum Water Source” side mission
  • Fixed “Neutralize the hostile” objective not updating correctly in the “Agent Edwards Support” side mission
  • Fixed an issue where NPC’s from a Warhound Convoy could spawn in an inaccessible area
  • Fixed an inaccessible bounty location in the Judiciary Square zone
  • Fixed several areas where players could leave the playable map
  • Fixed several areas where players could fall through the world
  • Fixed several areas where players could vault into water. Don’t go swimming with all that gear, agents!
  • Fixed several areas with missing climb prompts
  • Fixed several areas where the player could become stuck in the open world
  • Fixed several areas where the players could become stuck in missions
  • Fixed several world objects with missing cover prompts
 
Special Field Research
  • Fixed Special Field Research objective “Complete 5 Public Executions with Marksman Rifle” not progressing under certain circumstances
  • Fixed the Specialization adventure progression circle to be consistent with other progression circles
 
Commendations
  • Fixed “Resource Distribution Merit” not progressing correctly
  • Fixed “Calibration Award” not unlocking not progressing correctly
  • Fixed “Prone Target Award” not progressing correctly.
 
Loadouts
  • Fixed an issue causing loadouts using the same skill to revert all affected loadouts to the same skill mod
 
UI
  • Fixed the Conflict UI being misaligned when using Dual Monitors and the Offset UI option
 
NPC
  • NPCs no longer double heal their armor
  • Players can now damage NPCs rappelling on ropes with explosives
  • Fixed an error during the calculation of weakpoint kill stats
  • Players can no longer easily pass through Black Tusk Warhounds
  • Control point officers no longer instantly revive players if the player has just used the Chem Launcher
  • Outcasts suicide rushers now blow themselves up closer to their target
  • Fixed abnormal NPC behaviour when suppressed outside of the players view
 
Dark Zone
  • Fixed an issue where agents at Dark Zone level 50 do not lose XP when killed as a rogue agent.
  • Fixed an issue where the Black Tusk medic’s drones would self-destruct in the Dark Zones
  • Fixed an issue where the player was unable to cut the rope at an extraction if the “Sleight of Hand” perk was active.
 
Specialization
  • Fixed an issue where killing wildlife would yield signature weapon ammo.
  • Fixed an issue where signature weapon ammo could drop mid-air
 
Cosmetics
  • Fixed a clipping issue with the Gunner Uniform when equipped on a female character
 
Connectivity
  • Fixed an issue relating to interacting with ECHO’s when in a group
  • Fixed several occurrences of Delta errors when interacting with world objects
 
Performance
  • Fixed performance drops when browsing player inventory on Xbox One
  • Fixed performance drops when opening the Ubisoft Club Challenge tab on PC
 
Audio
  • Fixed an issue causing NPC weapon audio to be stuck in a loop under certain circumstances
  • Fixed an issue causing missing weapon audio when firing immediately after having switched from a grenade
 
Other
  • Fixed an issue causing older versions of the Tobii Eye Tracker to be unresponsive
  • Fixed an issue causing the “Aim at Gaze” option for the Tobii Eye Tracker to be inaccurate
  • Fixed an issue with the Motion Sickness mode causing the player’s FOV to change drastically when enabled
  • Fixed an issue where players incorrectly could vote kick a member during a boss fight in the Roosevelt Island stronghold on challenging difficulty
Source
submitted by JokerUnique to thedivision [link] [comments]

2019 Offseason Review Series: Day 18 - The Carolina Panthers

Team: The Carolina Panthers

Division: The NFC South

It’s that time of year again! After a season that could best be described as “a hangover you don’t deserve”, we watched the Panthers soar to a 6-2 record. After a beatdown of eventual playoff caliber Baltimore, It finally looked like we were poised to shrug off our non-consecutive winning streak habit. But it was not meant to be. A combination of shallow defensive depth and a lingering shoulder issue for Cam Newton saw us collapse down the stretch, and we ended 7-9 winning only a single game. After watching the sharp downturn of our fortunes, questions surrounding our QB’s health and a major exodus of our most tenured veteran talent, one could be forgiven for a glum outlook on the franchise’s future going into this offseason.
But despite the spirit in which we entered it, this offseason has been a resounding success. And one that leaves little doubt that we’re an improved team despite our more prominent losses. What follows is a point for point breakdown in how we made the transition from collapsed contender to potential comeback story.

Coaching Changes

None whatsoever.
From both the commentator sphere and other fanbases, the Panthers were pretty roundly rebuked for hiring offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Despite alarms being raised over 7 step drops and an over reliance on deep shot, Turner was a revelation for our offense. He apparently meant every word of emphasizing high completion throws and taking pressure off of Cam, and we began to see looks for our QB that were totally absent in the Mike Shula era. He’s now had a chance to throw dump offs, and to have reliable comeback options. Cam, prior to breaking down, was enjoying one of the best seasons of his career and despite the shoulder injury, still finished with a career high completion percentage. Christian McCaffery, our other offensive mainstay, saw his rushing efficiency go from 3.7 YPC his rookie season to 5.0 yards in year two, with his total scrimmage yardage upticking from 1,086 to 1,965 in Norv’s new passing and blocking system. Turner’s tenure thus far has been an unmitigated success and a refreshing change of pace from the stale, dull system we fell into under Shula.
The other transition, from Steve Wilkes to Eric Washington at defensive coordinator, yielded decidedly more mixed results. Washington, simply put, was not good in his transition from the DL coach. In over his depth. He struggled all year, culminating in Rivera assuming defensive playcalling down the stretch. The turnaround in our defense once he did was remarkable, though by that point, Cam was falling apart so visibly that what happened on that side of the ball no longer mattered. Washington has been retained for the upcoming season, but Rivera’s going to keep the playcalling duties.
And captaining the ship is Rivera himself. Despite a call for his head among our fanbase’s more frustrated elements, Rivera was kept for 2019. And I’m glad for it. All or Nothing (though I’ve not had a chance to see it) provided a window into his management style, vindicating some like me who pushed back against narratives that he was a dispassionate robot. And while I’m a bit higher on Ron than many, I don’t think it’s unsafe at all to say that none of the coaching hires would have represented an obvious upgrade. At the end of the day, Rivera lead a squad to 6-2 before his QB’s season derailed, which is not really on him. He could maybe be criticized for letting Washington fail for too long, but at the end of the day, few of our woes from last year can be solely attributed to him. While this is certainly a put up or get out year for Rivera, I have little doubt that he’ll be leading the gang come 2020 as well.

Departures

Thomas Davis, LB - Now we get into the stuff that hurts. And this one really, really hurts. I understand it. We needed to figure out whether Thompson could stand on his own like, yesterday so we can decide his long term potential. Davis, while still playing at a high level, is an old man for the position he plays. Letting him walk was a logical decision. But none of it changes the fact that Davis has been the soul of this defense for over a decade, and was easily one of the most beloved players and leaders over the 14 years he spent with us. He will be missed, both for his play and his spirit.
Julius Peppers, DE - Speaking of franchise staples, long time DE and future Hall of Fame inductee Julius Peppers’ watch has ended. Unlike Davis, who we simply allowed to leave, Pep has called it a career. And what a career it was. Though almost every single article about our defensive adjustments leads off with “With Peppers retiring, the Panthers no longer have anyone who can rush the passer”, the reality is that Pep did far less than his opposite in Mario Addison to that effect. Though he came back to us in 2017 with a monster 11 sack season, that number was always misleading given how few pressures he accomplished it on. Last year, he came back down to earth. It was time, and while I wish we could have given Pep one last, Super Bowl winning hurrah, a new direction was needed.
Ryan Kalil, C - Ryan Kalil rounds out our list of beloved departing veterans. The anchor of our offensive line for 12 years has hung up his cleats. Of all the offseason changes, this was by far the scariest, as the difference between Cam with and without a good center of the course of his career has been stark and terrifying. Kalil was a damn good player right up to the end, though the rash of injuries he suffered between 2016 and 2018 clearly took their toll on his performance. And while we have replaced him (and debatably upgraded), Kalil was both a locker room leader and a damn good contributor that will be missed by all.
Devin Funchess, WR - We now get into the departures who will be less missed. Funchess, admittedly, gets a bit of a bad wrap from our fanbase who often talk about him as though he were trash. While not trash, he is at least very replaceable. In fact, Funchess replacement began well before the expiration of his contract, as he had been fully supplanted by rookie DJ Moore and sophomore Curtis Samuel down the stretch last year. By the end, he was a healthy scratch. While I’m sure he’s going to put up numbers in Andrew Luck’s offense, Funchess is no sort of elite talent. He’s a big body who fails to gain separation and who inconsistently leverages his size to his advantage. I view his upside as a Brandon LaFell type of guy. And that type of guy is no longer a fit for what we’re trying to do.
Matt Kalil, OT - If the Carolina fandom is ambivalent about Funyun’s departure, we’re positively giddy about this one. Cut with a June 1st designation, Kalil saved us the money that allowed other moves to be possible. Though the shine has come off the diamond that was Gettleman’s tenure with us, the man often doesn’t get the credit he should. He did do a great deal for us, particularly his completely unheralded building of our OL (No less than 3 of our 5 starters this coming season will have been Gettleman acquisitions). But by far the biggest mistake in his tenure was the massive albatros of a contract he doled out to Matt Kalil, who could not have failed more spectacularly (or predictably) to live up to it.
Mike Adams, FS - I speak on behalf of the fanbase when I say that we have nothing but respect for Adams. He was a solid player and a veteran leader who spent his last two years giving lift to a secondary that hasn’t seen a great safety tandem since the Clinton Administration. But your eyes don’t deceive. We really were running his 37 year old ass out there as a free safety. And that simply could not be allowed to continue. I wish Adams the best, but it was time to move on.

Arrivals

Matt Paradis, C - Here’s the fun stuff. After losing Kalil to retirement, we signed former Broncos safety Matt Paradis to replace him. At only 29, Paradis represents a significant youthening at the position, and for a guy whose upside is top 5 at the position, we got him at a significant discount. Obviously that discount was due to medical risks, which prompted his release by the Broncos in the first place. But Paradis’ has been fully cleared from day 1 and avoided the PUP list. By all accounts, he’s in tip top shape. We’ll obviously see how that holds up as the season gets underway, but Paradis is definitely one of the steals of the 2019 free agency period and I could not be happier to have him. His arrival is enormous for our prospects, and has turned our biggest positional question mark into an area of strength.
Daryl Williams, OT - It’s a bit disingenuous to call Williams an arrival, as he never actually left. But that he never left is nothing short of remarkable. After a 2017 All Pro season, Williams suffered a major setback of an injury in 2018 training camp that eventually turned into a season ending injury after he tried to rush back. Still though, the League is constantly hungry for All Pro level OT talent and I was sure Williams was going to get scooped up. Instead, he signed a 1 year, $6 million deal to come back to us, and short of black magic I’m not entirely sure how Marty Hurney pulled it off. Williams is a terrific player who can play many parts of the OL. He can slot in at LG if rookie OT Greg Little can win the LT job, but also provides insurance at LT if he can’t. He and Moton playing opposite one another represents the best OT tandem that Cam Newton has ever enjoyed.
Gerald McCoy, DT - Awwwww yeah! My all time favorite Tampa Bay Buccaneer is now a Carolina Panther. McCoy is a rock solid DT who truly needs no introduction from me. How we plan to use him is a bit murkier, but use him we definitely will. I suspect to see McCoy playing DT opposite Kawaan Short in our 3-4 looks (more on that in a minute), to line up next to him in our 5-2 looks, and to work with him on pass rushing 4-3 sets. He adds more juice to a pass rush that already saw a healthy injection of talent this year, and is more consistent in the run game than some of the other DL on the roster, which was a notable area of weakness last season. He fits the versatility first mold that’s going to allow Rivera to mix up our defensive looks as transition fully to a hybrid, and is a terrific leader in the locker room besides. Our beat writers have described him as “joined at the hip” with Kawaan Short, and I fully expect the pair to make one another better.
Bruce Irvin, OLB - Perhaps the first real signal that this wasn’t going to be the Carolina defense of yesteryear, Irvin is a vet leadership, change of pace signing. In moving to a hybrid defense, we acquired a number of rookie talents to complement OLBs like Marquis Hayes. Irvin rounds out that group, and provides us with a valuable cog in pass rushing sets and a good leader for the younguns. Though he’s not as disruptive as he once was, Irvin is a rock solid player who provides us with quality depth and leadership.
Chris Hogan, WR - A graduate of the Patriots Random White Guy Academy, Hogan flashed serious potential for his first couple of years in New England before getting gradually phased out of the offense. I’m not expecting much, but he has the potential to help us on deep balls and it’s generally never a bad thing to have more talent at WR.
Aldrick Robinson, WR - Robinson does one thing and one thing only, which is catch touchdowns. Conveniently, that’s one thing we struggled with last season. But with Greg Olsen now fully healthy and a sudden wealth of other options at WR, I would give Robinson long odds of making the roster.

Draft

Pick 1.16: Brian Burns, DE/OLB - I am still in shock that Brian Burns was available at pick #16. I wanted him very badly, but I was certain he’d be an Atlanta Falcon. Instead, people allowed him to fall all the way to us and I couldn’t be happier. Burns is the apotheosis of what we’re trying to accomplish with our defensive transition. He’s a guy as comfortable upright as he is with his hand in the dirt. While he lacks strength as a run defender, he has incredible burst off the edge and a ludicrously high ceiling as a pass rusher. I think he landed on a terrific team to turn that potential into reality and I’m extremely excited about what he can do with us.
Pick 2.37 Greg Little, OT - Every description I’ve ever read of Little has described him as “Pro Ready”, and the team clearly drafted him with an eye on starting at LT. Luckily, we’ve hedged that bet a bit with the Daryl Williams signing, but Little still projects as a talented young player with a high floor and a well rounded skillset. If not the LT starter this year, he’ll almost certainly have the job to himself next season.
PIck 3.100 Will Grier, QB - Boy did this piss people off at the time. Though cooler heads have since prevailed, this pick was seen by one group of reactionaries as an indictment on Cam’s health, and another as a wasted pick on a player who will never produce for us. The reality is neither. While Cam’s health is in good shape (put a pin it), we were put in a position last year in which he needed to rest a clearly deteriorating shoulder, but we had no faith in the men behind him to win games. If that’s the state of your backup, you need a better backup. This is a team that has seen playoff runs hinge on a game or two that Derek Anderson filled in for. So even as high as pick 100, Grier was a worthy investment. In terms of his playstyle, Grier slots as an accurate QB with a good deep ball and a cerebral style, but average arm strength and mediocre release.
Pick 4.115 Christian Miller, OLB - Like Burns, Miller projects as a do-all DE/OLB who can play either upright or down low. He’s an athletic prospect whose game is a bit raw, but who checks all the measurable boxes. Likely a top 50 player before injuries kept him out of the pre-draft process, Miller represents a hell of a value at 115. I suspect we’ll see he and Burns as long term staples of the pass rush.
Pick 5.114 Jordan Scarlett, RB - This was a bit of an odd one, but I’ve warmed to it over time. Scarlett is a bruising, violent running back who I’m almost certain was drafted to lend a hand in the red zone. As a change of pace to CMC, the two could not be more different. But coaches thus far have raved about his conditioning and power, so the pick may not have been as crazy as it looked at the time. Having said that, while I don’t think anyone should ever get upset over a 5th round pick, I do think we could have found better value at this position. Scarlett wasn’t likely to be gone by the time we selected our next player.
Pick 6.212 Denis Daley, OT - I like this pick quite a bit. Daley had a rough statline in terms of sacks allowed when facing a veritable who’s who of elite college pass rushers (Jachari Polite, Josh Allan, Clelin Ferrell among them). But in spite of that, scouting reports consistently cite both his physical gifts and his improvement as the season went on. If he can cut down on his most egregious habits (most notably his overeager lunging at edge rushers), he has legit starting potential.
Pick 7.237 Terry Godwin, WR - Godwin’s whole game is predicated on speed and football IQ. At 5’11, it’s certainly not coming from his physical measurables. But he was by all accounts a high work ethic, smart players who contributed admirably in his four years as Georgia starter. Godwin’s ceiling is likely a Curtis Samuel backup, but his early rapport with Cam makes me think he’ll stick on the roster despite his late draft spot.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Offense - With Cam’s health reportedly looking good (particularly his ability to throw deep; something he was never capable of throughout Camp) and the team adapting so well to Norv Turner’s system, I think offense as a whole is a good place to start. Though I said it last year, only to be hilariously wrong, Greg Olsen is operating at 100% as well, which provides a boost to our red zone effectiveness that is difficult to measure. By the end of last year, both DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel appeared to be on the cusp of a major breakout, both proving themselves so reliable that Devin Funchess was a healthy scratch by week 17. Those two should continue to grow, and Jarius Wright has proven to be a valuable slot receiver. And, of course, there’s CMC, who will continue to be our best offensive weapon not named Cam Newton. With good health and plenty of diverse options, I suspect the good times to continue to roll as we enter year two of Turner’s stewardship.
Offensive Line - I can’t emphasize this enough, but our offensive line is nasty. With Williams’ return, we now have an All Pro OT to pair with breakout sensation Taylor Moton, which makes for an excellent tandem. Matt Paradis replaces, and if we’re being honest, provides an upgrade over Ryan Kalil, and Trai Turner is as effective a RG as ever. LG will likely be manned by whichever of Williams or Little doesn’t win LT, and Greg Van Roten (who’s performed admirably at the position) is still in the building as well. This is a very solid group of players, and a massive upgrade over what we had to work with last year.
Pass Rush - This was a major area of concern last year, but I’m happy with where we’re at now. The transition to a hybrid defense was the right call for our personnel set, and between the draft and free agency, we’ve upgraded across the board. McCoy is a huge boost to our interior pressure and Brian Burns should contribute immediately. Efe Obada will likely continue to grow, and the new system is a much better fit for talented sophomore Marquis Hayes. Irvin is solid rotational addition as well, and Mario Addison is as stalwart a pass rusher as ever. All in all, we’ve gone from an extremely one dimensional pass rush to one that is versatile and capable of throwing multiple looks at our opponents. We will be hard to predict and hard to stop when we come at the QB next year.
Weaknesses
Run Defense - Though I’ve seen little attention paid to it, I’m very concerned about our run defense this year. Although we’ve beefed the hell out of the defensive front, few of these pieces excel in run defense. McCoy has mostly staked his reputation on being a 3 tech. Hayes, Miller and Burns were all flagged as prospect that lacked run support talent. Poe was miserable in defending the run last year, and it’s never really been Short’s bag. In terms of yards per carry, we finished 8th overall which sounds good. But this was mostly on the strength of changes when Rivera took over the playcalling, as backs tended to run over us consistently early in the year. As long as we have Luke, our run defense will be solid. But I do worry that with so much (needed, mind you) emphasis put on rushing the passer, we’ve left off this part of the game.
The Secondary: As always with us, the secondary is a concern. It is, to be fair, less a concern than in previous years. Donte Jackson and James Bradberry both enjoyed very solid campaigns last year, and the former has allegedly done a lot of growing over the previous season. Eric Reid represents a good, solid strong safety. But free safety is, as ever, a mess. The job is going to sophomore player Rashaan Gaulden, but I think his capturing the position unopposed has less to do with what coaches see in him, and running out of money after doling out contracts to Paradis, McCoy and Williams. Our secondary, while improved, was inconsistent last season and was the primary reason we finished in the middle of the pack.
And honestly, that’s about it. This is one of the strongest rosters Carolina has fielded in the Riv-Era, at least on paper.

X Factors

Cam’s Health - Those of your who frequent nfl have likely seen my refrain on this many a time, but Cam’s health is not as dire as last season made it look, and the Andrew Luck comparisons have always been, frankly, crazy. In 2016, Cam tore his rotator cuff. He rushed his recovery in order to play in 2017. This created a buildup of scar tissue which, when coupled with a minor bone spur, caused a great deal of swelling this year that put Netwon in pain and limited his range of motion. It’s one of those injuries that, while not terrible by any means, does require either surgery or a great deal of rest. Cam, by virtue of being alpha and omega to this team, had the luxury of neither. The swelling persisted until he could barely throw. While that looks scary, the actual diagnosis was not that grim, and a simple shoulder scope as cleared the damage. By all accounts, he’s 100% and even making throws that he was incapable of these last two years. Bill Voth, who was the first (and for a long time, only) writer sounding the alarm on Cam’s strength as far back as 2017, has said that he’s making throws that look like his old self routinely.
However, we are putting him on a pitch count. This like likely vet maintenance rather than a source of genuine alarm. But after the last couple of years, he does make you sweat a little.
OL Health - The major fly in the ointment when it comes to Carolina’s optimism over its OL is that big if healthy caveat. If healthy, Paradis is a top 5 Center. If healthy, Williams has All Pro talent. 4 days into camp, however, neither is participating in serious pass rush drills and only today suited up in pads. It is possible that they’re just being eased along. They did avoid the PUP list, which we were almost sure was going to get Paradis at the very least. So they appear to be alright. But if they’re not, or they reinjure again, we go from being an extremely strong team to a fatally flawed one. A great deal is riding on the health of those two players, and the entire house of cards could fall apart quickly if they’re unable to deliver.
Greg Olsen - The one health flag that I do have complete confidence in is tight end Greg Olsen. Suffering a series of foot breaks, he is now moving around at 100% capacity and has been medically cleared for all activity for months. Bone breaks are, when all is written, temporary injuries that often heal stronger when they actually get a chance to heal. Our most trusted beat writers, Voth and Rodrigue, have both been crystal clear that he looks like his old self and that his connection with Newton is as faithful as ever. What I’m less clear on is his role in the offense. For years, Greg Olsen was the pivotal piece of our passing game. But with his largely being sidelined with foot injuries over the last two years, the game has moved on. Curtis Samuel and DJ Moore are both going to receive plenty of targets, and McCaffery will be a critical element to the passing game. Greg will undoubtedly be our principle red zone threat, but the growth of other options has downgraded his loss from catastrophic to merely unfortunate. What role he carves out, and what boost he’s able to give our offense, will be very interesting to watch.
4-3 No More: Much has been made of the Carolina's transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 this offseason. And most of it is crap. We aren't exactly moving in a direction that binary. IN the past, we have strictly been a 4-3 team throughout the Riv-Era. That is about to change, but not to a 3-4. What Rivera showed last year is a willingness to mix and match personnel sets. There were 3-4 looks, 4-3 looks and even 5-2 looks. What we're moving toward is thus not a single, codified base, but a hybrid defense that can throw out a number of formations and switch between them quickly. We want players who can play OLB and DE. DTs who can play DE. LBs who can drop into coverage and rush the passer. A modern defense is one that doesn't limit itself, which is why such a premium has been put on players with positional versatility. On paper, our personnel set is very well built for this. How it pans out in practice remains to be seen. It's a very radical transitioning happening over a short period of time, and while I think our defense has the potential to be excellent, there will doubtless be some growing pains as we navigate the transition.

Positional Battles

Very little to speak of. The premier battle is going to be between Greg Little and Daryl Williams at LT. Apart from that, the timeshare that forms in different defensive sets will be intriguing. But for the most part, the roster is set.

Win Loss Predictions

I hate this part, particularly since the NFCS is a murderers row at present. The Panthers have a shot at a serious playoff run if all the chips fall right, but the Falcons are likely going to be resurgent (god you have no idea how much it hurts me to type that) and the Saints aren’t going anywhere. The Buccs I’m sure will do their best.
That alone makes pinpointing what our season looks like in terms of Ws and Ls difficult. But this year, we’re also playing the equally enigmatic AFCS, whose teams look like contenders or middlers in turns. Even our other divisional draw, the NFCW, is difficult to find the pulse of.
So rather than pretend that I know what each game is going to look like, I’m going to do what I always do; Likely wins, likely losses, toss ups.
Likely Wins: TB, @AZ, JAX, @TB, @SF, TEN, WAS
Likely Losses: LAR, @NO, @IND
Toss Ups: @HOU, @GB, ATL, NO, @ATL, SEA
So that’s 7 likely wins, 3 likely losses and 6 toss ups.
If that seems like an unusually high degree of uncertainty, that’s because it is. Last year started off strong and fell apart for reasons that are both obvious and cautiously behind us. We’ve only improved over the offseason and should be formidable. But the schedule is grueling and many questions are yet unanswered. I said in my last offseason review that last year was likely going to be a tough season, and should be viewed mainly as a proof of concept for the new ideas we were incorporating via Turner’s offense and our gradual move away from a 4-3 defense. Well, it was a tough year for reasons of which I had no inkling at the time, and it was a proof of concept. And for the most part? The concept was proven sound. So this offseason, we’ve built on it and patched over the holes that developed in it.
I know that “This offseason is a major turning point” is one of those things that gets thrown around a lot. It’s like how every Presidential election gets described as historic, as though choosing the leader of the free world could ever be anything but. But in a very real sense, this franchise has hit a turning point. Cam has to bounce back this year or he’ll face major doubts about his future contract. Rivera has to bounce back this year, or he’ll be out of a job. GM Marty Hurney has done an excellent job restocking the cupboards, but we’ve been down this road of defensive transition and an offense that eases things on the quarterback before. Last year, both ideas mostly worked, but this is the season where we must commit to them and see them through if we want to succeed with the parts we have. Thus the Panthers find themselves where we always seem to. We are a team that is as capable of going on a deep playoff run as we are forcing a total rebuild in the next two years. But for what it’s worth, I think it’s going to be a strong, “Eureka!” type season where everything finally comes together. For the sake of Rivera and company, I hope it does.
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Joe Walsh Will Not Save Us (G-File)

Dear Reader (including the poor Biden staffers who have to white-knuckle their armrests when not sucking down unfiltered Marlboros every time Joe Biden gives an interview),
If you’ve never heard the Milton Friedman shovels and spoons story, you will (and I don’t just mean here). Because everyone on the right tells some version of it at some point. The other Uncle Miltie (i.e., not the epically endowed comedic genius) goes to Asia or Africa or South America and is taken on a tour of some public works project in a developing country. Hundreds of laborers are digging with shovels. Milton asks the official in charge something like, “Why use shovels when earth moving equipment would be so much more efficient?”
The official replies that this is a jobs program and using shovels creates more jobs.
Friedman guffaws and asks, “In that case: Why not use spoons?”
The story might not be true, but the insight is timeless.
Here’s another story: When I was in college, we were debating in intro to philosophy the differences between treating men and women “equally” versus treating them the “same.” At first blush, the two things sound synonymous, but they’re not (indeed the difference illuminates the chasm of difference between classical liberalism and socialism, but that’s a topic for another day). I pointed out that there were some firefighter programs that had different physical requirements for male applicants and female ones (this was before it was particularly controversial—outside discussions of Foucault—to assume there were clear differences between sexes). Female applicants had to complete an obstacle course carrying a 100-pound dummy, but men had to carry a 200-pound dummy, or something like that. A puckish freshperson named Jonah Goldberg said: “I don’t really care if a firefighter is a man, a woman, or a gorilla, I’d just like them to be able to rescue me from a fire.”
A woman sitting in front of me wheeled around and womansplained to me that “you can always just hire two women.”
I shot back something like, “You could also hire 17 midgets, that’s not the point.”
(I apologize for using the word midget, which wasn’t on the proscribed terms list at the time.)
But here’s the thing: Sometimes it is the point. Whether you’re talking about spoons or little people, the case for efficiency is just one case among many. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s an important one, but it’s not the only one. Sometimes older children are told to bring their little brothers or sisters along on some trip. They’ll complain, “But they’ll just slow us down!” or, “But they aren’t allowed on the big kid rides.” Parents understand the point, but they are not prioritizing efficiency over love. Or, they’re prioritizing a different efficiency: Not being stuck with a little kid who’s crying all day because he or she was left behind.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer is when the chess tutor Bruce Pandolfini, played by Ben Kingsley, tells the chess prodigy’s parents that they have to forbid their son from playing pickup chess in the park because he learns bad chess habits there. The mom says “Not playing in the park would kill him. He loves it.”
Kingsley replies, accurately, that it “just makes my job harder.”
And the mom says, “Then your job is harder.”
I love that. I love it precisely because it recognizes that good parents recognize that there are trade-offs in life and that the best option isn’t always the most efficient one.
This is one of those places where you can see how wisdom and expertise can diverge from one another.
The Unity of Goodness
Efficiency can mean different things in different contexts. In business, it means profit maximization (or cost reduction, which is often the same thing). In sports, it means winning. Always giving the ball to the best player annoys the other players who want their own shot at glory, but so long as he can be counted on to score, most coaches will err on the side of winning. Starting one-legged players will wildly improve a basketball team’s diversity score, but it’s unlikely to improve the score that matters to coaches—or fans.
I’ve long argued that there’s something in the progressive mind that dislikes this whole line of thinking. They often tend to find the idea of trade-offs to be immoral or offensive. I call it the “unity of goodness” worldview. Once you develop an ear for it, you can hear it everywhere. “I refuse to believe that economic growth has to come at the expense of the environment.” “There’s no downside to putting women in combat.” “I don’t want to live in a society where families have to choose between X and Y,” or “I for one reject the idea that we have to sacrifice security for freedom—or freedom for security.” Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were masters at declaring that all hard choices were “false choices”—as if only mean-spirited people would say you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Saint Greta
Nowhere is this mindset more on display in environmentalism. Everyone hawking the Green New Deal insists that it’s win-win all the way down. It’s Bastiat’s broken window parable on an industrialized scale. Spending trillions to switch to less efficient forms of energy will boost economic growth and create jobs, they insist. I’d have much more respect for these arguments if they simply acknowledged that doing a fraction of what they want will come at considerable cost.
Consider Greta Thunberg, the latest child redeemer of the climate change movement. She hates planes because they spew CO2. That’s why she sailed from Sweden to a conference in New York. As symbolism, it worked, at least for the people who already agree with her. But in economic terms, she might as well have raised the Spoon Banner off the main mast of her multi-million-dollar craft (that may have a minimal carbon footprint now, but required an enormous carbon down-payment to create). The organizers of this stunt had to fly two people to New York to bring the ship back across the Atlantic. And scores of reporters flew across the Atlantic to cover her heroic act of self-denial. Her nautical virtue signaling came at a price.
The organizers insist that they will buy carbon offsets to compensate for the damage done. But that’s just clever accounting. The cost is still real. And that’s not the only cost. It took her fifteen days to get to America. In other words, she actually proved the point of many of her critics. Fossil fuels come with costs all their own—geopolitical, environmental, etc.—but the upside of those downsides is far greater efficiency. If you want to get across the Atlantic in seven hours instead of two weeks, you need fossil fuels. The efficiency of modern technology reduces costs by giving human beings more time to do other stuff.
The Conservative Planners
The unity of goodness mindset has been spreading to the right these days as well. The new conservative critics of the free market see the efficiency of the market as a threat to other good things. And they’re right, as Joseph Schumpeter explained decades ago. For instance, just as earth-moving equipment replaces ditch-diggers in the name of efficiency, robots replace crane operators, and the communities that depended on those jobs often suffer as a result.
I have no quarrel with this observation. My problem is with the way they either sell their program as cost-free, or pretend that the right experts can run things better from Washington. They know which jobs or industries need the state to protect them from the market. They know how to run Facebook or Google to improve the Gross National Virtue Index. Many of the same people who once chuckled at the Spoons story now nod sagely. I don’t mean to say that there’s no room for government to regulate economic affairs. But I am at a loss as to why I should suspend my skepticism for right-wingers when they work from the same assumptions of the left-wingers I’ve been arguing with for decades.
Embracing Trumpism to Own Trump
Instead I want—or I guess need—to talk about another trade-off. I’ve been very reluctant to weigh in on the Joe Walsh project for a bunch of reasons. The biggest is that I am friends with some of the people cheering it on. But I think I have to offer my take.
I don’t get it.
Oh, I certainly understand the desire to see a primary challenger to Trump. I share that desire. And I understand the political calculation behind the effort. It’s like when one little league team brings in some dismayingly brawny and hirsute player from Costa Rica as a ringer. The other teams feel like they have to get their own 22-year-olds with photoshopped birth certificates in order to compete. My friend Bill Kristol is convinced that Trump must be defeated and that Walsh is just the mongoose to take on the Cobra-in-Chief.
I try not to recycle metaphors or analogies too much, but this seems like another example of a Col. Nicholson move. As I’ve written before, Col. Nicholson was the Alec Guinness character in The Bridge Over the River Kwai. The commanding officer of a contingent of mostly British POWs being held by the Japanese, Nicholson at first follows the rules and refuses to cooperate with his captors in their effort to use British captives as slave labor for a bridge project. But then his pride kicks in and he decides he will show the Japanese what real soldiering is like, agreeing to build the bridge as a demonstration of British superiority in civil engineering. [Spoiler alert] It’s only at the end of the film that he realizes that building the bridge may have been a kind of short-sighted moral victory, but in reality he was helping the Japanese kill allied troops because the bridge was going to be used for shipping Japanese troops and ammunition. When this realization finally arrives, he exclaims, “My God, what have I done?”
Walsh’s primary brief against Trump is that Trump is temperamentally unfit for office and a con man. Fair enough. But he has to focus his indictment on Trump’s erratic behavior. Why? Because he’s a terrible spokesman for much of the rest of the case against Trump. I may not call myself “Never Trump” any more, but I was in 2016. And back then, the argument against Trump wasn’t simply that he was erratic. It was also that he wasn’t a conservative, that he happily dabbled in racism and bigotry, and that he was crude, ill-informed, and narcissistically incapable of putting his personal interests and ego aside for the good of the country. I’m sure I’m leaving a few other things out. But you get the point.
Walsh may be sincere in his remorse over all the racist and incendiary things he said in the very recent past. He may regret supporting his anti-Semitic friend Paul Nehlen, though I haven’t found evidence of that. But none of that history should be seen as qualifications for the presidency, the Republican nomination, or support from conservatives.
And yet, it is precisely these things that make him attractive to his conservative supporters. Trump is an entertainer who trolls his enemies with offensive statements for attention, so let’s find someone who does the exact same thing!
Walsh may have been a one-term congressman, but his true vocation was as a shock-jock trolling provocateur. It’s ironic. As I’ve argued countless times, much of Trump’s bigotry in 2016 stemmed less from any core convictions than from a deep belief that the GOP’s base voters were bigoted and he needed to feed them red meat. Trump's reluctance to repudiate David Duke derived primarily from his ridiculous assumption that Duke had a large constituency he didn’t want to offend. He may have believed the Birther stuff, but he peddled it because that’s what his fans wanted. And Joe Walsh was one of those fans.
It may also be true that Walsh never really believed most of the bilge he was peddling and that he was doing the same thing Trump did—feeding the trolls—on a smaller scale. But if that’s the case, then he’s a con man, too.
I don’t want to beat up on Walsh too much because, again, his epiphany may be sincere. There are lots of people who pushed certain arguments too far only to recognize that the payoff was Trump and the transformation of conservatism into a form of right-wing identity politics. There are a lot of Col. Nicholsons out there. And I have too much respect for Bill Kristol to believe that he would lend his support to someone he believed to be as bigoted as the man Walsh seemed to be a few years ago.
But from where I sit, the prize we should keep our eyes on isn’t defeating Trump; it’s keeping conservatism from succumbing to Trumpism after he’s gone. This isn’t easy, and no tactic is guaranteed to be successful. We’ve never been here before. My own approach is to agree with Trump policies when I think they’re right—judges, buying Greenland, etc.—and disagreeing when they’re wrong. My own crutch is to simply tell the truth as I see it, regardless of whether it fits into some larger political agenda or strategy. Truth is always a legitimate defense of any statement.
But for those who see themselves as political players as well as public intellectuals, I think this is a terrible mistake. Intellectually and morally, the case for continued opposition to—or skepticism about, Trump cannot—or rather must not—be reduced to simple Trump hatred. But by rallying around Walsh—instead of, say, Mark Sanford, or Justin Amash, or, heh, General Mattis—that’s what it looks like. Because you can’t say, “I’m standing on principle in my opposition to a bigoted troll and con man as the leader of my party and my country and that’s why I am supporting a less successful bigoted troll and con man for president.” Walsh isn’t a conservative alternative to Trump; he’s an alternative version of Trump. And his candidacy only makes sense if you take the “binary choice” and “Flight 93” logic of 2016 and cast Trump in the role of Hillary.
Let’s imagine the Walsh gambit works beyond anyone’s dreams and Joe Walsh ends up getting the GOP nomination (a fairly ludicrous thought experiment, I know). If so, I have no doubt that my friend Bill Kristol will say, a la Col. Nicholson, “My God, what have I done.”
Various & Sundry
Canine Update: It’s good to be home. The beasts were delighted to see us. Everything is settling back to normal, except for one intriguing development. I think Zoë has finally had enough with Pippa’s tennis ball routine. The other day on the midday walk with the pack, Kirsten managed to film Zoë putting an end to the tennis ball shenanigans. She took the ball and buried it. It was, to use an inapt phrase, a baller move—and she was unapologetic about it. Maybe she just didn’t like all the commotion with the other dogs, because she’s tolerant of the tennis ball stuff again. Or maybe she was being protective of her sister given that many of the other dogs in the pack are known thieves. Regardless, they’re doing well and having fun.
If you haven’t tuned into The Remnant lately, please give it another try. The first episode of the week was with Niall Ferguson and the feedback has been great. The latest episode is with my friend and AEI colleague Adam White on all things constitutional. Word of mouth is really important in building up audiences, so if you can spread the word about The Remnant or this “news”letter, I’d be grateful.
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A lengthy response to essenceofthought's video: "ContraPoints Is Making The Left More Toxic, Not Less - A Non-Binary Conclusion" -- PART 1

note that this is so big I will probably end up editing it just to fix mistakes in using reddit's markdown. I can only beg your trust that I'm not doing anything shady.

Tardyness

This is about the fourth time I've tried to get through this video. Formally I've only watched less than 9 minutes. First, because I really disliked how much I had to say about that much alone. I didn't like a punch in the gut I felt. Second, I felt I had to get through a real review of Natalie's Cancelling. Third, an uproarious thread on breadtube about Graham Linehan aka glinner threatening to sue EoT over his video exposing glinner for wanting to eradicate trans children. I finally got through all that Sunday night, and now I have chance to start this review.

Title (and thesis?) of EoT's video

ContraPoints Is Making The Left More Toxic, Not Less - A Non-Binary Conclusion
Pure reaction: Hard no, says I. Paying attention to the controversy surrounding Vaush, and the fact that Lily Orchard has a following, PigPuncher's shitty video on EoT themselves, and the self-hating army of Blaire White who like to inject themselves into all other trans people's business, I just cannot say there's anything Natalie has done that's special. This sphere of left-twitter and left-tube would be inundated with the same nastiness whether Opulence happened or not.

The Road Bump

The following between the lines is largely copied from my Cancelling review.
First, EoT says that Natalie is only talking about post-Opulence backlash, and thus accuses her of lying about a timeline on some tweets. They're just wrong.
Second, EoT says "Natalie has a fragile ego."
In the very least, this line is hack. Everybody's ego is fragile. That's freshment psychology 101, it's how egos are, it's a feature. It's just saying somebody is being too fragile, and that's an attack on character.
Second, it's fucking mean. It's mean in a general sense. And it's mean in a more personal sense, and I'll tell you why.
I'll mention this later, but I was what I call a first-generation youtube skeptic/atheist. Youtube was founded in 2006, and by 2008, peaking around 2010, we had a thriving group of what the media would call "New Atheists" on youtube. I can drop you a huge list of names, and it's still at most 20% of what was out there. I never made a single video, though I did have a webcam for a short while and regularly hanged out in Stickam with a dozen members of the Rational Response Squad. At first I fell for Pat Condell's shit. I was a big fan of Thunderf00t until his feud with DawahFilms. I apologize to the world. Sincerely. Look, what I want you to take from this is that I've come to be seen as redeemed by many feminists on reddit and beyond, and I think that Natalie is even more redeemable than I. I'm not trying to be a hater. This is constructive criticism.
But also back then, there was Natalie. Under a different channel whose title contains her deadname. I've linked to three different videos on parasocial relationships. Lemme tell you, I've been through 'em. Some that have had intense influence on my daily life, many others not so much. Natalie was, until she started Contrapoints, somewhere in the middle.
From what I've seen over the last 10 years, Natalie has every reason to be sensitive. Fragile, even. I've seen Natalie make meatspace friends with a few of these fellow atheist/skeptics, and they traveled and dined and chilled with one another. They even pulled a couple New Atheist stunts that backfired. Even contributed to a musical collab, which is still funny.
I've seen the community fragment and bubble and burst and burn and mutate. Basically I've watched Natalie lose friends and get hurt, as with many others. And with 10 years of experience, I can look back at old videos where Natalie's old self can be found, and see the unhappiness that she's described.
EssenceOfThought pulling the "fragile ego" line is frankly toxic. EoT only has 2 years of very hard work to look at, and 2 years of public transformation and transition. And EoT seems to assume that the quality of work a youtuber puts out is porportional to how head-above-water they are when it comes to stress levels and strength of will, and wealth of support. And that's wrong.
It's callous. You can't just assume things about people's accumulated life trauma. Calling people fragile as an insult, I've come to find, is morally wrong, because it calls that we celebrate stoic strength as a virtue. And it's always punching down. Every time it's punching down. Looking at somebody who's feeling vulnerable, and going "gross, you're vulnerable!" And EoT has done this despite listening to Natalie talking about a lack of friends in the world. I can't actually name many meatspace acquaintences of hers, much less good friends, besides {Theryn, Olly, Lindsay Ellis, Jenny Nicholson, other people in the few photos with Lindsay and Jenny maybe, Riley and Fiona, Chelsea Manning, Dan Olson, innuendostudios, hbomb...}. Can you? And how long distance most of those are! Almost all of them are expensive-distance. It sucks.
I stopped watching EoT's third video shortly after 8 minutes when they said that, becuase I was just disgusted. And as I said in Chrisiousity's comment section, it looks like a sign to me that in EoT's focus on Natalie the past month, Natalie has evolved in their mind from a popular creator with a specific and powerfully effective flaw, to an outright Adversary, capital-A included. And that's sad. It's the wrong way to go. In early drafts, I refrenced the first two videos because there's a lot of good points made in them. But EoT grows more combative over time and by the third video steps out of line.
Finally realizing what a down-punch the "fragile ego" schtick is, and coming to hate it, just might be the last vestige of being a first-generation youtube atheist/skeptic fan leaving me. I've upvoted this behavior a ton in the past, but I plan to never support it again in the way it's happened here. It's one thing to criticize a political party for being toadies to a man with an actual stereotyped fragile ego, because that's dangerous. It's another to say it to declare a hurt person's vulnerability a crime.
Whatmore, the accusation coudl just as well fit the people he speaks about in the beginning of the video, who lock down their twitter accounts at the mere knowledge that Cancelling was published. Does it just not occur to EoT that Natalie flinches and dodges certain kinds of attacks because she too can predict the punches that come next?

Shutters and Shitters

The first signs I saw that Contrapoints had published her video on cancelling were a number of nonbinary people who I know on Twitter locking their accounts.
How does EoT do youtube? Subscriptions aren't necessarily endorsements. It's like an RSS feed. Does EoT wait for friends to watch and react videos before they watch them? Seems like a good way to always be primed a certain direction.
It's really amazing how different people can act vs. how they see themselves. The cancelling of Natalie on twitter is full of piss and bile, raw hateful reactions and lots of people who have not really read into what they're mad about. But Natalie publishes a video about being hurt by it, and they slam their shutters and nail 2x4's across their doors. EoT has told us they've done this in anticipation to attacks from Natalie's fans. The stans.
The timing EoT describes here indicates that none of these people wish to watch or listen to Natalie's video. They are riding on three claims:
  • There mere existence of Natalie's video is a directive from Natalie to attack nonbinary people.
  • Implying Contrapoints Stans will attack before they've actually watched the video.
  • Admitting that the content of Natalie's videos have nothing to do with her supposed influence?!
Dealing with this takes us on a journey. One I suspect contextualizes a whole lot of problems we're going to see in the rest of the video.

Gamification, cults of personality, stans, armies, and fault.

I need to present these videos:
Like it or not -- see it or not -- youtube and twitter go together in a shit sandwich that has been gamified for toxic consumption by bad players for a decade. Breadtube is a loose coalition of fans who have a common agenda in that they are sick of how the alt-right benefits so much from youtube's algorithm and does so much harm to the world.
The way things have been going, all an alt-right youtuber has to do is make a video where they make personal attacks on a vulnerable channel, and without even having to explicitly order it (though often enough they will), their fans will en masse attack the targeted channel and their friends with repetitive harassment until they're forced off youtube and twitter, even if they have to abuse the reporting system to do so.
That last video by Skeptical Squirrel, an imaginitive parody creation by Kevin Logan, illustrates that despite what they say, alt-right youtubers and other youtube personalities of the reactionary type are completely aware of what they are doing. They are not pretending to order fans around in that video. They are practicing, and celebrating that they can. And when they make followup videos in which they laugh and praise "anonymous" and "uncontrollable" mobs for the way they've attacked the targets of their videos (such as Sargon Of Akkad "laughing" at "weaponize autism"), they are telling their fans that their harassment is good. They are rewarding it.
For years now, whether you're aware of it or not, dear reader, this is how fans come into it on youtube. It is a tacitly constructed facet of youtube fanbases that it is rewarding and expected to harass the perceived enemies of the youtuber. That Skeptical Squirrel video is from January 2017, about harassment Jeff Holiday and Bearing had been consistently ramping up against Kristi Winters for a year and beyond.
People have been saying that Natalie has been instigating harassment campaigns with her videos. And so has EssenceOfThought. I am hereby telling you: We are at a point where one can hardly be a popular youtuber without a massive group of fans behaving this way on your behalf. It takes real work to stop it. But there are definitely ways to tell that a youtuber is not intentionally doing it, and ways to tell that a youtuber is definitely trying not to. I do not see any sign that Natalie wants her stans to do what they do, and I definitely see in her videos that she does not make targets out of anyone.
I say to you all, that if you want to accuse Natalie of instigating harassment campaigns, by necessity with the way EoT talks about Natalie in their videos, EoT would have to be even more guilty. And I do say, regardless of that conditional, that the way EoT speaks is irresponsibly having a boosting effect on the twitter screamers who are witch-hunting Natalie. At 1:20 of this video, EoT says that enby people on twitter are responding to "her presence," and this shit just ain't true. They're anticipating other people attacking them. Which they will do regardless. EoT is equivocating Natalie with these toxic twitters, taking away the twitters' agency and giving it all to Natalie. Beyond bogus.

What has Natalie even done?

The focus is first on her association with Buck Angel. So far, the only things Natalie has done so far are thus:
  1. Receive and repay compliments when she was injured.
  2. Repay further words of kindness with a cameo without vetting.
That's it.

Wildly Disproportionate Response

She has refused to vet after Opulence not only because she (like so many of y'all) doesn't want to see people she's befriended as baddies, but because even if she does, she will receive no forgiveness when she issues an apology, instead receiving a tidal wave of I-told-you-so's and more harassment. They've made it perfectly clear that if Natalie works with anybody even one flaw away from Sainthood, they're going to do it all over again. Let it here be said that if you still want Natalie to disassociate from Buck Angel (and I do), then you must make it so that it's not a lose-lose situation. You can't punish somebody for something, then punish them again for apologizing, and that's clearly what you want to do. You showed it when you went after Lindsay Ellis, Hbomberguy, Philosophytube, and others. Clearly she is unforgiveable in your eyes. It's bullshit. You're assholes that deserve no fucking sympathy when you act this way. You were kicking her and are kicking her when she's down, and Buck wasn't, and that shit matters when you're in that kind of situation as much as it does Natalie. Buck was being better than y'all in the moment. Fuck. Off.
So I have a real problem (one I should've seen from the beginning) when over and over, EoT makes these videos and starts statements, ad nauseum, with "What Natalie is doing is..." It gives the impression that Natalie is out there on social media doing a thousand things. She's not. She's done the 1 thing that she's being cancelled for, the unvetted cameo, and she has not touched her twitter in a couple months. But EoT is making things worse, which makes the title of this video highly ironic. An honest way of going about it would be something like, "So this mistake she's made..." -- and you do need to describe it as a mistake and not a deliberate attack -- "... has had these x, y, and z consequences." It's hyperbolic at best and demonizing at worst when it's "She's doing this" on repeat. That's increasing toxicity in the discourse.
You're not started the fires, EoT, but you've tossed a lot of dry cow patties around. And you can only do this so long before we say yes, you are responsible for the direction a wave goes one of these days soon.

Media illiteracy or just plain propaganda?

As for the people who are hiding from Contrapoints Stans, nonbinary or not, even without the stans around, you'd still have received some backlash. Claiming the pronouns video was attacking nonbinary?? If a hundred people responded with "What the fuck you dumb shit," then tough cookies, because that is ridiculous. That section of the video y'all attacked is exactly the same as the tweet she covers in Cancelling. It had nothing to with binary or nonbinary, had nothing to do with actual validity of trans identity, but instead was about strong vs weak argumentation aimed at cis people. Have you have at some point in your life been discussing politics or scientific ignorance and had somebody bring up, "Well, it seems like this kind of argument doesn't work very well. But when you tell them this thing that way, they start to get it faster." That's what was going on in the video and the twitter conversation.
And then your opinions somehow transformed into thinking that same section of the video was truscum. As if many of you have decided that anything problematic towards nonbinary people is the same as truscum ideology. Sheer nonsense. It's the other way around. All truscum are anti-enby. But not all anti-enby are truscum. There was nothing about transmedicalism in that video no matter how you look at it.
The worst thing the Pronouns video did was not tackle the case of enby perspective. In fact, Natalie went out of her way to make sure people do not confuse the experience she's illustrating as applying to nonbinary folk, by including the modifier, "In a binary world." That's not an attack on enbies. And if she even tried to cover an enby perspective, it's likely you'd attack her for that, too. Lose-lose. That's not valid criticism, and no reason to initiate cancellation. Pro-tip: if everything your enemy can say is wrong, then you too also cannot be right. When everything is evidence of your claim (Opulent Girl Bad!), then nothing is.
As for The Aesthetic, Justine did not win the debate. Just because she got to have a long winded endcap does not mean she was indended as the winner. There's just about nothing to indicate that. Justine's position just needed a lot more words to convey. You may be used to upvoting and reposting videos where the protagonist "wins" a debate by having a long Final Attack on the antagonist that makes them sit down in shame. But you should be able to tell from Natalie's videos and tweets alike that she doesn't operate that way. You need to up your media competence, and ditch the prejudice against Natalie that has to exist to even make the erroneous leap in interpretation that you made.
So why would Natalie do anything different in this current situation? The same people who are attacking her for associating with Buck Angel are also the ones witch-hunting her based off of lies about her videos. I think you can see how one can easily begin to think that some of the claims of emotional injury caused by her videos are falsified.
And don't think I'm saying Contrapoints stans aren't a problem. They are. The people who hate enbies have swarmed to this bucket of chum fore sure. Some of them are attacking me because I want honest depictions of flaws of EoT's videos and I'm not willing to unsee Buck Angel's shittery just because they think doing so would make Natalie feel better and provide us all with a new golden shower, er, golden egg, er, video. Oh yes. There is indeed too many Contrapoints fans who've decided that they need to whitewash Buck Angel so they can kiss Natalie's ass, and part of doing that is attacking Buck's critics, which has indeed become an attack on nonbinary people themselves. Because this is how parasocial relationships evolve when the detached personality fills a very real need on the side of the consumer. Especially on youtube, where as I've said fanships enter into the situation with assumptions about how detractors are to be treated. Then everybody plays Not My Nigel.
Natalie isn't instigating, and she's not a "force of destruction." The force existed before her. If it wasn't Natalie, it'd be somebody else. It'd be more people like Blaire White, Shoe0nHead, Jaclyn Glenn, etc. I mean how the fuck has Blaire White become background noise in this obsession with Natalie Wynn. Blaire's the one that makes series of truscummy attacks on people.
Imagine thinking Natalie is inspiring more of these attacks on enbies than Blaire white. I can't. But you're doing it. Yer doin it, peter! Yer doin it! Go get that dastardly Captain Wynn Hook.
But I don't want to attack nonbinary people for being nonbinary. I want to rebuke some people who're the real culprits of toxicity.

We are in a wicked hive of scum and villainy.

Like I said, EoT calls Natalie
"...a force of destruction, all intention aside."
First of all, when you say "what she's doing" all the time, you're pretty well implying there's lots of intent.
Second, gosh, does this line sound famliar. Where's the last place I heard it? Oh yeah. When Lily Orchard attacked the Pronouns video as anti-enby and pro-truscum: "Glass of Water: Natalie Whinging" And it also reminds me of something.
Natalie has been made into a villain. No, really, that's what's happened with EoT's progression and with their phrasing. Since I've already used Extra Credits once, I'll do it again. Does it seem a little off, maybe a little condescending to compare these video essays to video game design? Maybe. But it's not wrong. Expository and argumentitive essays require world-building, it's part of the job. Me, Natalie, EoT, everybody.
EoT can't seem to make up their mind about what kind of villain they perceive Natalie to be. They actually said "force of nature," but the thing about force-of-nature villains (FONV) is they are a symptom of the system. Attacking them directly and holding them personally responsible for groups of people harmed is short-term good at best, and tacitly endorsing the system at worst. It's pointless to do just play whack-a-mole with individual FONV. Example: Trump. So why focus so much on Natalie and not the online community that is splitting over her videos on interpretations of them that are clearly a combination of error and invention? Going after the boss baddie is what you do when you have a narrative villain. EoT seems to think knocking Natalie off the stage will lead naturally to some end. There's a hidden teleology to it. And I don't think it goes where EoT thinks it does.
What we're seeing here is a system of discourse in which a person can be scapegoated for cycles of back-and-forth attacks as if they caused it, when in reality those cycles are automatic. A key in an ignition got twisted, but it wasn't Natalie who dun it and it sure doesn't make sense to point at her every time you don't like that the motor is still running.

Half a millenium in Natalie's mind

20 years ago in a human lifespan is a long time. It's not really doing any good to harp on Natalie for thinking so. EoT makes Natalie's argument against 20-years-back research as some kind of vapid and malicious thing, but it's not. Natalie argues against doing 20 years into Buck's past based on three possible points, and you'll find some over the span of the video and her recent appearances in the media such as her interviews by NPR, and The Hill's Krystal Ball (both of which I am sure were published while EoT was in post-production or after publication); a couple we can think of ourselves:
  1. People change so much in 20 years it's like attacking a different person.
  2. 20 years ago she was a child, and she wouldn't want somebody to do this to her. It would feel like endorsing the same be done to her.
  3. If somebody has genuinely changed, repented -- even if only in private -- then it's like double jeopardy.
  4. The majority of the time when we see somebody digging that far into the past for dirt, it's done for malicious reasons and serves deceptive purposes. Given the strawmen used to attack Natalie, it doesn't seem like the request for her to do so is in good faith, nor what has been presented by those attacking herself. The pattern of bad faith attacks on Natalie do not lend to trusting that the accusations against Buck are in good faith; they seem as disproportionately powered by gossip as anything else in the 2 years of attacks on her. So, it seems prudent to refuse humoring them.
  5. If the victims don't want want to bring it up, it's an invasion of their privacy as well. We'd have to ask them directly because evidence is scant. Sometimes you have to respect when the victim doesn't want to re-live trauma.
In order to have a good case, one has to argue against each of these in turn. Which EoT does not. All we get is "I don't give a fuck." So allow me to present the arguments.
  1. Buck was in his 40's when this went down. 40 year olds are well established generally, and Buck had already established his identity long before, beginning medical procedures at 28, and soon felt his transition was complete. Read his wiki. Analyzing the pathology of habits requires going back long distances in time no matter how proportionally large that time leap seems. If a wrongdoing done recently is the same kind of wrongdoing done long ago, then it's relevant, long ago or not.
  2. It's quite a human thing to forget important differences in the lives of people we've recently befriended, especially when we're hurt. We can only offer our personal promise to not do that, and discourage others from doing so.
  3. Buck has ever faced real consequences or learned.
  4. We can only offer our personal promise we are not doing that, and discourage others.
  5. Fine then. There's more than enough readily-available material to cancel him anyways.
See how that's reasoned and compassionate argumentation? Much better than "I don't give a fuck."
You can't argue justice from "I don't give a fuck," EoT.
Notice though that there were counter arguments people probably are making that I refuse to.
I will not dismiss #2 on the basis of being an appeal to emotion, because it's not one. Bullies argue that their behavior is justified by implied permissions, and I will not enable it. I will not signal to them that it's justified or excusable.
Also...

Buck's past IRL victims have not consented and IT IS NOT OK

I will not argue that invading the privacy of and subjecting the victims to reliving their traumas is necessary for the greater good, that the needs of the many (other for future victims) outweigh the needs of the few (which happen to be the ones I want to re-traumatize for my vendetta). One of my early favorite feminists Amanda Marcotte once made this mistake and argued that police were correct to arrest a woman and force her to testify in a trial against her rapist. Yes, this did happen to a real rape victim. She recanted and changed her mind after fellow Feministing contributor Alexandra Brodsky wrote the following article. Bold emphasis is from me:
edit: actually I've decided to try and using reddit's 'code' markup to change the font/background/spacing of what I want to highlight. - nevermind on that, I forgot what it does to linebreaks.
PUNISHING SURVIVORS WON’T STOP SEXUAL VIOLENCE
Earlier this week, the Daily News reported that a Cowlitz County, Washington survivor of an alleged kidnapping and sexual assault, perpetrated by her ex-boyfriend and an accomplice, was jailed when she refused to cooperate with the prosecutors on the case. The story didn’t rise to the forefront of feminist news until feminist writer Amanda Marcotte wrote a defense of the decision, arguing that the County did what it had to do to stop future violence.
The Cowlitz County case is awful, and I disagree with Marcotte’s conclusion, but neither is really an aberration from how we view criminal justice and victimhood. Two worrying parts of Marcotte’s piece implicate our larger national conversation about sexual violence: we mistakenly think survivors are irrational girls rather than agents navigating impossible obstacles – but, simultaneously, that they have more responsibility to us than we have to them.
[heading:]Confused girls
Running through Marcotte’s piece is a common threads I hear in discussions of survivors of intimate partner: a belief that the abused are irrational. We see this assumption in the pathologization of “battered women’s syndrome,” where survivors’ self-defense is understood as a symptom of delusion. We see it in the patronizing explanations of “why they stay” that talk about women (always women) untethered from reality, tumbling without agency through cycles of abuse. We see it, too, in Marcotte’s characterization of the victim’s relationship with the defendant as a sort of blinder, distorting her view of the violence and so discouraging her from working with the prosecutors:
Research shows that a victim’s refusal to cooperate with a prosecution is more about her relationship to the abuser. In this particular case, the victim has a long-standing history with one of her attackers, which suggests that she probably doesn’t see this in the same way that someone kidnapped and assaulted by complete strangers would. While there are some interventions that can help reduce the problem of victims who recant out of these complex feelings, there’s no silver bullet of counseling that will get all victims to see things the way prosecutors want them to.
We don’t know if the survivor in this particular case was abused by her ex-boyfriend when they were together, so the analogy to research on intimate partner violence may not be relevant here at all. But the rhetoric is nonetheless eerily similar – and similarly destructive. Of course we hope victims leave and, if desired, take action to ensure their future safety and to hold their abusers accountable. But to pretend that survivors stay or refuse to cooperate with the police only because of “complex feelings” simultaneously ignores the very real restraints on their freedom and denies them the agency they’ve maintained.
Manipulation and emotional abuse can create undeniable psychological barriers to leaving or seeking help. These obstacles are no less real because they are not tangible; though they are complex and they are intimately felt, Marcotte’s characterization of these burdens as “complex feelings” belies their nearly physical weight. But we also must recognize the undeniable material barriers survivors face. For example, abuse often renders survivors financially dependent on their abusers (we can’t know if the survivor was dependent on he boyfriend in this case, but we do know she is now homeless). And a trademark of relationship abuse is isolation – as a result of the abuse, survivors often don’t have friends or family to whom they feel they can turn for help. To make matters worse, abusers often charm those closest to the victim, so that those who do reach out for support or who pursue prosecution are often met with disbelief and anger from those they love. Tragically, in these situations, the decision to stay or to forgo legal intervention may be the result of an impossible, but by no means irrational, calculus. The options and risks are unjust, but the agent isn’t erased.
We urgently need to change that calculus. It is essential that we provide professional and community services to help victims of IPV leave abusive relationships. That work is so important precisely because the restraints on survivors are more than just “feelings” — whether psychological or material barriers, they are very, very real.
So, too, are the reasons why most survivors don’t trust the criminal justice system to help them out. As I’ve written about previously, those who report to the police are more likely to find insensitivity or harassment than a conviction: is it really such a shocker that victims don’t want to cooperate with a system willing to lock them up, to criminalize their survival? Plus, while I definitely know some survivors comfortable with the prison system, others see incarceration as just another iteration of the violence they work to end.
Maybe victims don’t “see things the way prosecutors want them to” because they aren’t blind to the violence in their communities and in our criminal justice system that, yes, complicate the decision to cooperate with the prosecution of your ex. We should talk about what responses to interpersonal violence would look like in our feminist state, but that’s not the conversation we’re having here. Now we’re talking about how real people navigate real choices. And we can’t pretend real obstacles don’t exist.
[heading:]You owe us
Marcotte writes that “always erring on the side of victim sensitivity means putting some very bad men back out on the streets, where they will likely attack someone else.” I 100% agree that stopping perpetrators can help prevent future violence, which is one of the reasons I think it’s so important to provide survivors with safe, trauma-responsive accountability processes. The calculus, though, doesn’t have to boil down to us vs. her, our safety weighed against her comfort, because robust responses to violence centralize support for survivors as a collective responsibility that promotes the common good.
On the most basic level: I thought we’d been over this before: violence is caused by the violent, not short skirts or alcohol or confusion or, at least of all, victims. We usually talk about victim-blaming as putting the responsibility not to get raped on potential victims, rather than potential perpetrators. However, we see a similar logic in the insistence that it’s survivor’s job to stop violence against others, even at the expense of their own healing and safety. If they won’t make that sacrifice, we’re prepared to punish them. As much as the U.S. criminal justice system likes to pretend it can distinguish between imprisonment as punishment and imprisonment as logistical aid (see: pretrial detention), all time spent behind bars is punitive.
Also, even if you buy the carceral logic that prisons are our great hope, locking up survivors who report won’t help the courts catch rapists. As Melissa McEwan wrote at Shakesville, “If we’re really concerned about preventing future assaults, then we have to foremostly make it safe for multiple survivors to report—and publicly revictimizing one survivor in this way stands to discourage multiple victims from reporting. That is bigger than even this one rapist.” McEwan’s point rejects Marcotte’s belief that the interests of survivors and interests of the broader community are in tension: we are only safe as a whole when we support survivors. It is only then that victims can come forward and give us the chance to hold perpetrators accountable.
Stepping back, I resent the way this issue has been framed, both in media and private discussions, as one of individual vs. collective safety – as though survivors are unwilling to talk due to some deep selfishness – not only because its wrong but because it distracts us from the communal duty we’re so eager to ignore. Of course any feminist resistance to violence requires collective responsibility for the collective good. But our first question here should be what we, as a community, can do to support a survivor – not what the survivor should do to help us. What local structures can we set up to provide care to those who need it? How can we create safe opportunities for survivors to come forward? What community responses to harm can we build to hold abusers accountable in a country that has abandoned victims to a broken criminal justice system? Let’s talk about what we can do, rather than what any given survivor owes us.
Here’s the thing about violence: it’s hard to stop. That’s scary. I find it terrifying that we really, truly have not yet found ways to stop assault or abuse, or structures to respond to this violence when it occurs. I understand why many hold on to our belief in the criminal justice system when there aren’t alternatives onto which we can comfortably fall. I understand why we want to believe we live in a country where a victim would of course want to cooperate with prosecutors. I understand the temptation to count conviction rates and the clang of prison doors shutting closed like beads on a rosary, the comfort of pieces moving regularly, as they should, as though we’re going somewhere better. But when the methodical plodding ends with a survivor of violence in jail for choosing to deal with trauma on her own terms, perhaps its time we lose a little faith and rise up to do some good.
Now. Buck did not rape anybody. We are talking about the victims of invasion of privacy and public denegration. But this article says a lot.
I said in a youtube comment section that Buck deserves to get vetted "all the way back" because he considers himself a leader. And I'm ashamed to say that until I was writing those 5 arguments against digging up the dirty specifics on that divorce drama, I hadn't thought of this stuff either.
Nobody has asked Lana Wachowsky or her wife. They're not talking about it. And if they don't want to talk about it, then.. what? If you force that information out into the day, EoT, then you are punishing her. You are re-traumatizing them to fit your purpose.
Think about that. Look what this has become. The more you harp on Buck's marriage, the more likely somebody's going to violate that privacy and, dare I say, terrorize those two women with their personal lives, probably their doxx too, going public. Stochastic terrorism much? People have probably already tried to contact these people on social media. It's probably already started. They want to leave it behind and now y'all won't let them.
Can you really say you're doing this for the sake of victims?
Officially: the "investigation" into Buck Angel's divorce must stop right now.
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