The Best Baseball Betting Strategies 2020 | BettingOnline

MLB Betting Tips and Strategy for Baseball Spring Training Games | First Pitch

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Tips for Betting Baseball - Baseball Betting Strategy - MLB Betting

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Tips for Betting Baseball - Baseball Betting Strategy - MLB Betting (Sports Betting Tips)

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Tips for Betting Baseball - Baseball Betting Strategy - MLB Betting

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Everything you need to know about baseball analysis for your baseball betting strategies

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GMHI DD

Gores Metropoulos – GMHI
IPO Date: 2/6/2019 | Deadline: 2/5/2021
Target Industry: Food & Consumer
https://www.gores.com/portfolio/gores-metropoulos-inc/
SEC Link
The Breakdown:
Institutional Holdings

Gores Track Record
Leadership team
Dean Metropoulos has been our Chairman since August 2018. Mr. Metropoulos has served as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hostess since November 2016. Since 2013, Mr. Metropoulos has served as the Executive Chairman of certain subsidiaries of Hostess and a member of the Board of Directors of Hostess. Mr. Metropoulos also served on the Board of Directors of Pabst Brewing Company until 2014. Mr. Metropoulos has over 30 years of experience in acquiring and restructuring businesses in the U.S., Mexico and Europe, focusing on the food and consumer sectors. Mr. Metropoulos has been involved in approximately 80 transactions, including investments in Pabst Brewing Company, Utz Quality Foods LLC, Pinnacle Foods Group, Inc.(Swanson/Hungry-Man,Vlasic Pickles, Open Pit Barbeque Sauce, Duncan Hines, Log Cabin Syrup, Mrs. Butterworth’s Syrup, Aunt Jemima Frozen Breakfast, Mrs. Paul’s Seafood, Van De Kamp’s Seafood, Celeste Pizza and Lender’s Bagels), Aurora Foods, Stella Foods, The Morningstar Group, International Home Foods (Chef Boyardee, Pam Cooking Spray, Gulden’s Mustard and Bumble Bee Tuna), Ghirardelli Chocolate, Mumm and Perrier Jouet Champagnes and Hillsdown Holdings, PLC (Premier International Foods, Burtons Biscuits and Christie Tyler Furniture), among others. Mr. Metropoulos holds a B.S. and an M.B.A. from Babson College. Mr. Metropoulos’ business expertise, financial acumen and business industry contacts make him well qualified to serve as a member of our board of directors.
Alec Gores has been our Chief Executive Officer and a member of our Board of Directors since August 2018. Mr. Gores is the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Gores Group, a global investment firm focused on acquiring businesses that can benefit from the firm’s operating expertise. Mr. Gores implemented an operational approach to private equity investing when he founded The Gores Group in 1987 by operating businesses alongside management, or in some cases in lieu of management, to build value in those entities. Since then, the firm has acquired more than 100 businesses including a current portfolio of more than 20 active companies worldwide. Mr. Gores began his career as a self-madeentrepreneur and operating executive. In 1978, he self-funded and founded Executive Business Systems (EBS), a developer and distributor of vertical business software systems. Within seven years, EBS had become a leading value-added reseller in Michigan and employed over 200 people. In 1986, CONTEL purchased EBS, and Mr. Gores subsequently began acquiring and operating non-core businesses from major corporations and building value in those entities, a decision that ultimately led to the founding of what has evolved into The Gores Group today. Under his leadership, The Gores Group has continued to acquire businesses in need of operational and financial resources, while creating value and working with management teams to establish an entrepreneurial environment as a foundation for sustainable growth. This philosophy has served the firm well. Mr. Gores served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gores Holdings I from its inception in June 2015 until completion of the Hostess acquisition in November 2016. Additionally, Mr. Gores has served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gores Holdings II (Nasdaq: GSHT) and Gores Holdings III (Nasdaq: GRSH) since their inception in August 2016 and October 2017, respectively. Mr. Gores holds a degree in Computer Science from Western Michigan University. Mr. Gores’ significant investment and financial expertise make him well qualified to serve as a member of our board of directors.
Andrew McBride has been our Chief Financial Officer and Secretary since August 2018. Mr. McBride has served as Director, Finance and Tax at The Gores Group since February 2010, where he is responsible for tax due diligence and structuring of acquisitions, compliance, planning, financial management and portfolio company reporting. Mr. McBride served as the Chief Financial Officer and Secretary of Gores Holdings I from January 2016 until completion of the Hostess acquisition in November 2016. Additionally, Mr. McBride served as the Chief Financial Officer and Secretary of Gores Holdings II (Nasdaq: GSHT) from its inception in August 2016 until October 2018 and he has served as the Chief Financial Officer and Secretary of Gores Holdings III (Nasdaq: GRSH ) since its inception in October 2017. Previously, from January 2008 to January 2010, Mr. McBride worked in the High Net Worth group at Ehrhardt, Keefe, Steiner, and Hottman, P.C.. From January 2004 to January 2008, Mr. McBride was with KPMG, LLP, assisting international corporations with tax planning, structuring and compliance issues. Mr. McBride holds a B.S. in Accounting and Finance from the University of Notre Dame and is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Colorado.
Randall Bort will serve as a member of our board of directors upon completion of this offering. Mr. Bort is a Co-Founder of SandTree Holdings, LLC, a private commercial real estate investment firm since November 2012. Previously, Mr. Bort was an investment banker at Drexel Burnham Lambert, BT Securities, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Credit Suisse First Boston, The Mercanti Group and Imperial Capital. Mr. Bort has significant financial, transactional and capital markets experience across multiple industries and has worked both domestically and in Asia. Mr. Bort earned a B.A. in Economics and Mathematics from Claremont McKenna College and an M.B.A. in Finance and Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Bort served as a member of the Board of Directors of Gores Holdings I from August 2015 until completion of the Hostess acquisition in November 2016. Additionally, Mr. Bort has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Verra Mobility Corp. (Nasdaq: VRRM) (formerly Gores Holdings II (Nasdaq: GSHT)) and Gores Holdings III (Nasdaq: GRSH ) since their inception in August 2016 and October 2017, respectively. Mr. Bort also is a member of the Board of Trustees of Children’s Bureau, a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles focused on foster care and the prevention of child abuse. Mr. Bort’s significant investment and financial expertise make him well qualified to serve as a member of our board of directors.
Michael Cramer will serve as a member of our board of directors upon completion of this offering. Mr. Cramer has been the Chief Administrative Officer & Executive VP at Hostess Brands, Inc. since 2013 and the Founding Director-Texas Program in Sports and Media at The University of Texas at Austin since 2010. Mr. Cramer was employed as a Director, SVP-Business Planning & Development by The Pabst Brewing Co. from 2010 to 2014, and was previously employed as an Associate Professor by New York University, a Chief Administrative Officer & Executive VP by Pinnacle Foods Corp., a President & Chief Operating Officer by Hicks Sports Group LLC and President of the Texas Rangers Baseball Club and Dallas Stars Hockey team, an Executive Vice President & General Counsel by Morningstar Group, Inc., an Executive VP-Administration & General Counsel by Stella Foods, Inc., a Vice President by CDM Hostess Class C LLC, a Vice President by Fairmont Aviation LLC, a Principal by Ghirardelli Chocolate Co., and a Director & Executive Vice President by International Home Foods, Inc. He also practiced law for approximately 10 years in Wisconsin. He received his undergraduate degree from State University of New York at Albany and a J.D. from Marquette University Law School.
Joseph Gatto will serve as a member of our board of directors upon the completion of this offering. Mr. Gatto has been a partner at Perella Weinberg Partners, L.P., a leading independent global financial services firm providing corporate advisory and asset management services (“PWP”) since 2012. Prior to his employment at PWP, Mr. Gatto was an investment banker holding senior roles in mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance at Goldman, Sachs & Co., Lehman Brothers Inc. and Barclays plc. Mr. Gatto has significant financial, transactional and capital markets experience, particularly in the consumer products and retail industries, and has worked with clients in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Mr. Gatto has also served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a Fellow at Harvard University’s Advanced Leadership Initiative. Mr. Gatto holds an A.B. in economics and international affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. He also holds an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Mr. Gatto’s significant investment banking, financial and strategic expertise make him well qualified to serve as a member of our board of directors.

Positions: None right now, there's some time before we may see action. Currently commons are trading at $11 and warrants are at $2.2, the warrants are pricey right now. I'm in HCAC and SPAQ at the moment but this seems to be the next short term play after, long term for me would be IPOC or PSTH. I'm betting on the leadership.
The bad: no real forward purchase or PIPE investors or any external funding, which is okay. could indicate that the team is confident in their strategy without the need for additional funding ($400 mil in their own investment)
My thought process: if TWNK came out in this current SPAC market, would we see a hype? 1000% I think they can choose slightly above average known consumer targets and we'll see strong price action.
submitted by genuisgeek to SPACs [link] [comments]

[GUIDE] Reviving Hell Dungeon - Advancing and Maximizing Rewards

A quick, post-patch guide for the Reviving Hell dungeon to those struggling with it. I will develop it as I go through it, so, if you find incorrect information, let me know.

1-) GAME MODE DESCRIPTION
This is a both time and damage gated game mode that rewards you with awakening XP potions. You have 3 minutes to complete it, but also a 1 minute individual times on each character that ticks down once they are on screen. As soon as it reaches 0, you can no longer use that character.
Each stage has a recommended level and penalties. The penalties are damage reflect for characters of the wrong color at first, but later on, you need both an adequate color + type (example: a yellow balance team) - I think this starts at around lvl 14 or so now. The damage reflect cannot be compensated with regeneration, not even with Orochi Iori with Green Defense Athena as a leader. Don't even try it.
You also generally wanna go as far as possible in the tiers for better rewards, since now most of your rewards come from the daily, free auto-clear. There might be some specific cases where this is not true as discussed ahead.
Your daily progress is reseted to the first stage of whatever tier you stopped at, so do your best to at least farm the current stages to as far you can before the daily reset (you get a small amount of XP potions from each stage completion in addition to the auto-clear rewards, but limited to the highest quality potion currently available to you).

2-) GENERAL INFORMATION (skip if you want, this is just an explanation, how to use it will be further below)

a) First of all, the level recommendation is more of a level requirement! Being below the required average level of your party nets you a hefty damage penalty that may prevent you from progressing.
I will explain this to you with videos I took from my playthroughs:
https://streamable.com/nhxm3o
In the video above, I am at Stage 13 - 1 using The Rock lvl 4, Geese XIV lvl 9 and Lady Big lvl 14. Lady Big has a Mr. Big set and FES level cards (exact ones shown in the video), as well as full capsules. It was a failure.
Check out the boss battle at 3:55.
Lady Big does extra damage to enemies under poison. And she is somewhat high level, so her awakening combo should do decent damage, right? Wrong! She is doing a pitiful 2 digits to 3 digits damage with him poisoned, doing around 300 - 600 for each hit. This is atrocious damage!
Now check out the second video of the same stage where I managed to complete. I am using the exact same team, with the exact same card loadout, except Lady Big is now lvl 15:
https://streamable.com/yun2e7
Please, look at 2:20, when I switch to Lady Big, and see her damage. She is doing 4 to 5 digit damage! The damage is going from 4000 all the way to 60000 per hit. All from a SINGLE level! This is obviously not a result of the stat boost from it, which is truly minimal. I simply got over the threshold for whatever average the game requires for that stage without penalizing the player.
You can see this clearly by comparing the damage done by the other 2 characters, who didn't change absolutely anything (same level, same cards, same leadership), but are also doing a lot more damage.
b) The same videos also show you that DoT (damage over time) do not incur in that penalty, meaning you can use it to brute force your way through certain stages. I did that in my previous run through the dungeon before the patch.
You can check the videos I posted on the Netmarble forums in a guide I initially made there if you are curious. I was trying to make a guide on how to progress using the least resources possible, so DoT was playing a big part (I am no longer doing that):
http://forum.netmarble.com/kofg_en/view/20/18518
As an example from that thread, here is my run with a Yellow team run showing Charlotte doing 2 digit to low 3 digit damage, but hitting pretty hard with her blood DoT and blood crits:
https://streamable.com/em76px
Heihachi, Pretty Yashiro, Nakoruru etc - they all have a similar effect, so you can use them pretty effectively unawakened as team filler.

3-) BEST PRACTICES
With that in mind, here are some best practises to approach this game mode:
- You will need a wide variety of characters to go through this mode (3 teams of each color eventually), so plan ahead your awakenings and who you will invest in;
- Specials stop all timers;
- Stalling for time can be important to recover an awakening combo cooldown or a tag cooldown, so 3 PG specials and PG charging characters are great;
- Your special usage should be either for time stalling, to group up enemies or to avoid incoming damage (example: you got caught by those turrets, so you use your quick dodge, but you have no SA or HA to use. In that case, you can either switch out or use a special, preferably one that groups up enemies in front of you);
- Try and keep the timer of all your 3 characters more or less equivalent, so you might always have 3 characters to use. That is important because it allows you to cycle through all your skills, switch, do the same, switch etc;
- Attack capsules are king. Defense capsules are good for Defense characters, or those with a Def to Attack core or skill, but attack capsules are still better, so if you have selectors, you might wanna focus on getting those, but its up to you;
- Extend combos by switching out once you depleted your skills. If you have a carry, try to only put him / her on the field if you will have a tag ready after finishing all skills;
- Remember you can tag out during a skill use, so use the slowest, longest lasting skill last so you can switch during its animation;
- Positioning is extremely important! Do not leave stragglers! Reposition if necessary, even if that means stopping a combo, unless you are close to building enough PG to fire off an enemy grouping special;
- SA or HA are preferred. Damage immunity is not really that useful here;
- A weak character is still useful to group up enemies and spend time so you can bring your strong ones in the field with all cooldowns reseted. I used Haohmaru a lot for this back when he was unawakened and in a penalized team;
- DoT damage and crit explosion damage (Heihachi, Charlotte, Geese) is unaffected by penalties, so keep that in mind when making teams;
- At the boss, use your skills and accumulated special at the start before you commence the awakening combo, since you will get a full bar out of it again. As soon as awakening finishes, use your special again + a new cycle of skills if ready before switching out.
- Try to avoid entering the boss room with your strongest character, since you lose some seconds during the scene transition;
- You have a bigger problem with damage than time, so you dont necessarily need to use Time Attack tricks to shave off time, like firing off specials before enemies fade entirely to save time. But you can if you want.

4-) POTION USE
This is important enough to warrant it's own section.
First of all, the farther away the levels, the more potions are required to level up. To lvl 2, you just need 2. To lvl 3, it's 3, I think, and so on.
But do NOT use your awakening potions at first!
Since you will be level gated in this mode, it is best to simply accumulate them and go as far as you can with each one of your teams, and start using them once you can no longer complete a certain stage.
Only use as much as needed to get you through the level. Your problem is likely the debuff from being below the average, so it is better to just give a level to your lower level character and call it a day. If you are still damage gated, give the new, lower level character a level. This way, you raise your team level average using the least amount of potions.
Once you have a good stock, you can start taking your team to lvl 2, then 3 - always keeping a good reserve of potions for that moment when you might need to pump your average level (this is usually one or two levels)
This will delay your 2 star awakened characters, but will allow you to go further faster, which means more potions to play with.
This will hurt a bit your live PvP, but only a bit - and in the long run, since you will have more potions thanks to going further faster, it will pay off even on that mode.
You may face problems in Rite of Passage due to this, but quite frankly, that mode is all about juggling and keeping the enemy juggled with all 3 challenges active, and then stopping them with a striker so you can finish recovering your skill to restart the juggle-a-thon. Having more damage or defense wont matter, you will still die in a second or jugglelock the enemy. But if you are struggling, just lower the challenges. Just having your roll can already be a life saver. Here's a tip for that mode: use stun strikers or strikers that lower cooldown by 1 second or more, as well as good jugglers or characters with self resetting skills.

5-) TEAM COMPOSITION GUIDELINES
a) Awakening priority: First of all, forget about buidling the perfect team if you are not a Whale. You gotta learn to work with what you have now with this whole Awakening thing.
Take a good look at your memory list, and see what you have. Any FES or Collab with a memory should be on your priority list for upgrading and using on your team.
Next, check if you have memories for any of the AS hard hitters (Pretty Yashiro, Wonderland gang, Summer Kula, K etc etc), and focus on them as well.
If you still lack choices, look at your gold pool for available characters. Barring that, some silver ones can be used (Xmas Choi is pretty much a gold border in disguise, as is Yuri 98 if properly used).
If you have been doing your daillies, you should have at least 2 memories for each of the Epic Quest free characters on standby, so you can work with that. You should also have Kofi's memory, and unless you got really unlucky, Thug Cena's memory. That's already a start, if you lack absolutely anything.
Initially, you need to focus on just building a good team of each color, consisting of at the very least one good carry, and 2 whatevers with available memories on standby. Since you will need eventually 45 characters in the later levels, your efforts on these guys will hardly go to waste.
Keep your capsules for the really good characters, dont waste them on filler gold or silver borders. I generally give them to FES, good collab or top performing AS.

b) Leadership: The best leaderships are either those with a 40% or better damage increase and a 20% charge rate increase or a 60% attack increase. Barring that, just look for more damage and/or more charge rate.
Some good leadership examples are Orochi Iori, Paul, Thug Cena (top tier), Baseball Shermie, Wonderland Yuri etc.

6-) SOME CHARACTER SUGGESTION PER COLOR (the ones w/ an \ are the ones I used)*

a) GREEN TEAM: a lot of good options to choose for, with plenty of welfare ones.
- *Nakoruru: absolute beast! Good green leader, high DoT crit based damage (use a crit set on her). Make sure to make the enemy bleed and take some damage while bleeding before switching out. Can be used to brute force while having penalties;
- Ash: best green leader. Use a def to attack set. Pairs incredibly well with Nakoruru and Goenitz! Give him a Samsho bleed card for better damage. His lack of SA hurts a bit;
- *Wonderland Vanessa: very fast attacks with good damage, amazing and safe awakening combo cycle. Also a good green leader.
- *Paul: very high damage concentrated on few and quick attacks, good herding skills. Good leader if you use 3 green attack characters. Prioritize other collabs for awakening unless your green team is lacking like mine was;
- Goenitz: very fast, very high damage, safe, DoT. Pairs very well with Nakoruru and Ash. Dont have him but he is probably one of the top picks. Give him the bleed option card (the one with the Elephant, For Victory).
- *Orochi Shermie: Started using her at lvl 78 in this mode, and she was already good. Has SA, 2 DoTs, can stun a lot (good to stop SA enemies). Good choice. Needs a little bit of aiming for her skill 2 in the awakening combo.
- Eiji: Good bleed damage and SA. However, he is bad at herding enemies, and his attacks are kinda slow. Can be Awakened for free from Championship coins, which is why he is here. I honestly did not like him very much for this game mode, but he is very acessible.
- Kofi: a great character with a free memory from the event, meaning he is affordable.
- Classic Jin: I wouldnt waste an invitation on him, but if you absolutely need him, he isnt bad. SA, stuns in the awakening combo, 3 PG special, starts with 30% special and a huge 40% attack increase when below 50% HP.
- False Conspiracy Yashiro: free (memories included), hits kinda hard, increased PG rate, DoT on crit from core and each skill has an added effect on crit. Use a crit set on him. Just lacks SA.
- Summer K': Great green leader, and does good damage. Has burn DoT and burn crit explosion.
- Some common gold suggestions: Mature 96, Andy 98, Kensou 99, Yuri 95,

b) BLUE TEAM: a cursed color. Few choices on the FES levels, and they arent even that good.
- *T7 Jin: good blue leader, high damage with a def to attack set and Yellow Ling as a striker, great herding skills and safe play.
- *Mukai: good damage, skills cover a lot of ground, petrify passive can save you some time if you screw up. Has wonky hitbox, so sometimes you might miss if you are too close to an enemy. Also, his awakening combo requires aiming. Can be used as a leader, I guess.
- *Orochi Leona: good damage and speed with SA, and very low cooldowns. Her skill 2 allows you to hit with your normals while you hit with the skill, making Xzibit proud.
- *Original Zero: Reset skill, good damage and PG gain, great at hitting enemies a bit spread but close, long specials. This is your best bet for blue.
- *Summer Kula: pretty good damage and a great blue leader, but awful durability and no SA / HA hurts her a bit, and her awakening combo may be unsafe in some cases. Still very useable, just avoid enemies that activated or are about to activate SA like the plague.
- The People's Champion The Rock: SA, bleed, 21% increase of skill damage upon 3 basic attacks (7% for each). Not bad at all.
- False Order Saisyu: Free character, free memories, deals a lot of burn damage, has power charge increase. Given these circunstances and the terrible choices in the blue color, he isnt a terrible pick.
- Festival Athena: she is free, as are her memories (you should have one by now). That's her good point.
- Sentai Ranger Clark: he is free, with free memories, but he is actually good and has a 3 PG card. Has HA, which is important, but on a stationary skill, so not as good as advancing ones. Still good for corner punish. Not sure if his awakening combo is good since mine is unawakened, but it doesnt feel like his skills combo well after each other.
- Some common gold / silver suggestions: Xmas Choi, Whip 99, Leona 96, Kyo 95, Yuri 98, Athena 96

c) RED TEAM: huge amount of choices on all levels.
- *Haohmaru: an absolute beast at extending time and surviving. Use his 3 PG once all your skills are on cooldown as a skill reset to maximize the damage;
- *Geese XIV: A damage monster (use crit set). He is a good leader for the team;
- Omega Rugal: his skill 3 + skill 2 combo is 100% safe, highly damaging and builds a lot of meter, can reset skill, skill 2 has good travel distance for enemy grouping
- *The Rock: high damage, skills with AoE and a long 3 PG special, good grouping skills and his DoTs bypass the penalties.
- *Lady Big: hits pretty hard with def to attack sets, has a long reaching HA with combo break, 2 quick skills, DoT with damage enhancement. She dissapointed me a bit with her lackluster awakening rotation (too much launching, too much time spent on air). She might work better as mob cleanup. Also, her damage is a bit lackluster compared to others (she is lvl 14, yet The Rock at lvl 4 seems to be doing a lot more damage than her)
- Clone Zero: Free FES with free memories. Need I say more?
- Clone Loli Zero: long specials, reset skill.
- Nests Kyo: I dont have him, but his damage has always been off the charts. Should still apply here.
- Wonderland Iori: access to new 3 PG FES card, bleed DoT.
- Underworld Yamazaki: Free (character and memory), poison DoT, increased PG gain, 3 PG special. Mostly here because he is free.
- Sentai Ralf: better than Clark, his HA is an advancing move. 3 PG, increased PG gain, free everything. Has a very good core with decreased tag cooldown by 2 seconds + obtains 14% PG when tagging in. Very good for this game mode!
- Some common gold / silver suggestions: Mai 95, Envy Mary, K 99, Vanessa 00, Krauser 96, King 94

d) PURPLE TEAM:
- Igniz: Possibly the highest damage character in the game.
- *Heihachi: Insane damage (use crit set + Chill card + Bao option card), 2 launch skills (one AoE), long combo, 3 PG special. Decent purple leader.
- *Lady Yashiro: Female Heihachi (use crit set + Chill card + Bao option card) with more safety net from quicker attacks and stuns, also does great damage. Great purple leader. You may wish to avoid skill 2 in the awakening combo.
- *Genjuro: Skill 3 is great at grouping up enemies, or as a set up for the next character (example: use this, change to Heihachi and use his skill 3 at the end of Genjuro's attack). Good and safe damage + 3 PG long special and passive PG regen from free Ukyo.
- Rimururu: Good damage with a def to attack set and good PG gain rate. Long 5 PG special. Decent purple leader.
- Halloween Kula: Great purple leader for crit reliant characters like Heihachi and Lady Yashiro or Chill card users. Can use Chill card to full potential. Lacking a bit in damage, but can be used.
- *Baseball Vanessa: high damage, fast attacks, combo breaker, stun. Her Awakening combo is deadly due to her speed, ability to cancel skills into each other and stun, and is 100% safe;
- Nameless: very fast skills for his Awakening combo. Very long 3 PG. Builds PG fast. You waited so much for him, so you might as well use him.
- John Cena: Can increase his attack with a % of his defense, HA that can be used while attacked (great if you are cought in the crossfire), decreases target defense, 3 PG. You can experiment with a Kaya set on him, it might pay off considering the def to attack boost he natively has.
- Wonderland Athena: access to 6 star special card (6 star option card is bad), great PG gain, 3 PG specials and can be used as a good mixed leader if you want.
- Orochi: you got him for free, might as well use him.
- Some common gold / silver suggestions: Iori 98, Mai 98, Ryo 96, Kyo 96, Kyo 98, Greed Rugal

e) YELLOW TEAM:
- *Pretty Zero: Amazing damage, self reseting skill, long specials, good safety net from core, amazing awakening combo with fast attacks, SA and petrification (100% safe). She is my favorite hard hitter for any game mode.
- *Orochi Iori: Excellent leadership, great damage, great PG gain, 5 PG special can do hilarious damage on occasion
- *Charlotte: another female Heihachi, but with blood damage (use crit set). Insane damage! Long 5 PG special.
- Lady Chang: berserker loli hits hard, can group up enemies with her skill travel distance and is safe to use thanks to SA and stun. Use def to attack set.
- Kazuya: hits fast, hits hard, juggles forever, DoT, good grouping skills, 3 PG. Only lacks SA, but not important.
- *Orochi Chris: Good yellow leader for Charlotte. Use him with a crit set + crit option card and either Nakoruru or Orochi as a striker. Good damage in that setup.
- Terry 03: Big damage, good grouping skills, access to 6 star cards for status boost, 3 PG special with big damage buff.
- *Thuganomics John Cena: while not exactly a great unit due to wonky skills for enemy grouping (especially skill 3), his leadership skill is superb, making him a worthy addition, especially if you got his Memory during the event (you could get up to 3, I think. I managed to get 2).
- Ling Xiaoyu: excellent leadership skill. Buffs attack upon special hit (good for awakening combo afterwards) and when below 50% HP. SA and stun in her kit.
- Seth Rollins: this man is a beast in live PvP, just so you know. As for this game mode, he has SA, attack buff on skill, damage reflect and can guard break on the rare occasions this is sort of neeed.
- Ukyo: he really isnt that bad, it's just hard to compare him with the rest of the Samsho crew.
- King 97: She has a core that gives you 100% crit rate if you have Power 5 or more. Imagine you have that, and then you hit awakening... if this works and every hit in the awakening combo is a crit, she might be a hidden gem with the proper card loadout. I haven't tested, so let me know.
- Wrath Chizuru: 100% free, free memories, and useful on Time Attack. Very wonky skills, though, so check if you can bear to use them.
- Some common gold / silver suggestions: Terry 96, May Lee 01, Athena 94, Benimaru 99, Chizuru 96

7-) CARDS LOADOUT
Other players probably drilled in your head by now that cooldown is king, and they are kinda right for PvP game modes, but in a post-Awakening world, the fact that you get 10 seconds of uninterrupted skill usage (with a special shot before and one after to boot) changes this, making it desireable to pile up as much damage as humanly possible.
So, you need the highest damage sets and cards you have, meaning, more or less in order:
- Noah set or Kaya set (depending if its a Defense character or not)
- Nests set or Mr Big set (latter one for defense characters)
- Halloween set (IF its a full strike character, otherwise forget it unless you only have Favorite Things)
- Tekken set (shoots up to first place for high crit and crit based characters)
- Wonderland set (shoots up to second place for crit based characters)
- Summer set (for defense characters, and this is right after Mr Big set)
- Favorite Things
As for option cards, use your highest damaging combinations that allows you to fully unload a character's skills, switch, do the same and have them off the cooldown once you go back to the first guy.
I started using only damage enhancing cards, no cooldown ones (or of the mentioned CD reduction cards only) after a while. With proper character rotation, cooldown wont matter, and if it does, you can get by with either 1 or 2 of the cards I mentioned that wont sacrifice damage.
Other good option cards to look out for are:
- Chill card: any character with exploding crit mechanics or that deals extra damage on a crit from a core should use one;
- Steins card: an 8% increase to attack on 1 card is pretty damn good, female characters only;
- Leona FES option card: 5 % attack buff + stat increase of a FES card. A very solid choice for everyone;
- Bao option card or Victory option card: they buff poison, bleed, shock and chill damage, while providing some pretty huge attack buffs;
- Charlotte option card: pairs super well with a Chill card on a character that has exploding crit mechanics, particularly for fire damage due to no good option card boosting that;
- What The Rock is cooking: 5% attack buff + 1.2 less cooldown and a bit of damage reflect. Works well enough, and is a good alternative if you just need a bit of CD reduction for some reason;
-
- Ryo FES option card: 4% attack buff + 10% crit damage with FES level stats buff is nothing to scoff at.
- Iori FES card: Increases active skill damage by 4% while decreasing cooldown by 1.2 seconds. A better alternative to What The Rock is Cooking if you need a bit of cooldown reduction (use one of this paired with What The Rock card if you need more CD reduction for whatever reason).
- Kingdom of Queen: 4% attack bonus, +1.5% PG gain and +10% attack or defense upon attack to balance characters. Solid choice for balance, amazing choice for John Cena since his attack gets buffed either way.
- Samsho bleed card: After finding out how much more damage DoT does here, I recommend this card and a Chil option card on characters with low crit and no DoT damage if at penalty range and they are being used only for herding. This wont do miracles, but will help. Its also good on characters that do extra damage on bleeding enemies, like Ash, Nakoruru etc.
- Bloody Halloween: 5% attack, 5% attack speed and increases PG gain for balance upon a skill hit.
- Close sisters: not as good as all of the above. 3.5% skill damage increase, 5.2% crit damage increase.
- Tekken option card: 4% attack + 4% crit (this one only while above 50% HP). You could pair this with a Chill card on a crit exploding mechanic character if you are confident you wont get hit.
- Unreal Peace or Strategic Retreat: only use if you lack all of the above, or really need to fix your full damage cycle.
Try to use 2 of those damage enhancing cards. Ideally, I would recommend 1 FES Leona card + 1 FES Ryo or 1 FES Iori card. That gets you the equivalent of having a third option card as far as buff goes, while still raising your attack by more or less 9%.
If you notice problems with your skill cooldown after a full tag cycle (after you return to your first character, his skills are still on cooldown), adjust properly so they are ready, perhaps using a What The Rock is Cooking card or FES Iori card, or both at the same time. If this is still not enough, change one of them for a 1.9 seconds CD card.

8-) ENEMIES
This game mode is very repetitive, to be frank. There are basically 3 enemies you have to be careful with:
a) Those Venom-like characters: their biggest problem is how quick they attack. You may very well eat a combo right after they spawn by misjudging their startup animation. They also jump around a lot and have a long lasting tentacle attack that can only be tackled with SA, HA or projectiles, otherwise wasting your time.
You gotta herd them quickly before they initiate their attack, keeing them combo'ed until they trigger their SA. Then, either switch out to someone that can deal with that (SA, HA, or use a stun / SA striker) or use a special. Barring that, you can only retreat until SA is gone.
If they spread out, use advancing SA / HA moves to herd them towards a single side of the screen. Keep part of them combo'ed, and the straggler will approach you from behind eventually. Roll behind him and do your SA / HA and everyone will be herded in place. Alternatively, continue hitting one of them until you have enough PG to shoot a enemy grouping special.
b) Those bloody robots: the robots are a nightmare. As soon as they drop, they spread out if you dont immediatelly engage, so do your best to do that with an advancing move, launcher or something that throws them on the corner of the screen. They will get SA on wake up, so you need a character ready with a special, SA (even from striker), HA etc. If they shoot you, you will waste a tremendous amount of time, so make them your engagement priority. Dont be afraid to use specials on them.
c) That Kabuki-looking Samurai: I like to call him Athena's mute brother. As soon as he spawns, he starts doing a sword slash that makes him impossible to hit, so hit him before that, and keep him juggled. As soon as he drops, he will get SA, and will initiate his special moves, dissappearing from the screen and going crazy like Athena for a while, wasting a ton of time.
Use your strong special to stop him from that behavior if you miss the initial hit, or if you drop the combo and he gets SA.
d) Guy with a white coat and a respirator: there is also this guy (looks more like a mutant). He isn't hard to deal with, just make sure you dont get grabbed by him, as that is a waste of time. Just barrage him with SA / HA or a special.
e) Bosses: the strategy is the same as always - dump as much damage possible in the least amount of time. Use special first, then cycle your skills, then awaken, then combo until its over, then special again. Switch, rinse and repeat. Once everyone has awakening on cooldown, stall by using long specials, and do more awakening combos.

9-) STARTING OUT
Like I said, get your 3 character teams for each color planned. I suggest you register them on a slot on your team window, one for each color, as you will use them daily.
Awaken them to lvl 1 with a single one of their memory. If you are going to craft dimensional invitations, be careful to not waste good memories. Remember you will eventually need 45 characters to progress on the Hell dungeon.
Also, remember that, from character lvl 10 onwards, you will need a character specific memory / invitation + 2 generic color memories that you craft by combining 5 memories of a lower grade (example: 5 red silver memories are combined into a single red GOLD generic memory - similarly, 5 red gold memories are turned into a single FES red generic memory). Combining gold memories sometimes gives you character specific memories, but dont combine them exclusively for this since it is rare. Just combine stuff as you need them to further awaken your characters, never know when you might need those memories).
You can progress with no awakened characters until Stage 2-5, I think. There, you will hit your first wall. You may be able to breach it with a lot of DoT, but the boss will damage gate you.

10-) BOSS COMPLETIONS: may they serve you as inspiration and as a base of comparison (team level, cards used etc).
TIER 1: did not record...
TIER 2: https://streamable.com/3zaszj
TIER 3: https://streamable.com/l2gzsg
TIER 4: https://streamable.com/jdu9m8
TIER 5: https://streamable.com/d16867
TIER 6: https://streamable.com/fga684
TIER 7: did not record...
TIER 8: https://streamable.com/wfspwy
TIER 9: https://streamable.com/y44wsr (failure)
https://streamable.com/kcpb96 (success)
# # # NEW PATCH FROM HERE ON # # #
TIER 10: https://streamable.com/vcb5cm
TIER 11: did not record...
TIER 12: https://streamable.com/7ibd6q

11) TIER MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)
Ideally, I would love to give you minimum level requirements for all Tiers, but I cant repeat them, and I only found out about the team debuff much, much later. So I will try to do that from the tier I am onwards, if possible at all, and will update it here if I do so.
If you decide to check out my previous guide made on the Netmarble forums, please, be advised there are is information there that is not up to date and should not be followed. I will try and change it tomorrow:
http://forum.netmarble.com/kofg_en/view/20/18518
submitted by Fenrir007 to KOFALLSTAR [link] [comments]

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure OC Tournament #5: Round 1 Match 20: Casey Williams and Manta Malaise?

The results are in for Match 18.
The game was lasting quite a long time, with Red Carpet Renaissance’s more aggressive playstyle hardly giving the room to breathe to the carefully-crafted tactics of the Sharp Lookers, but those very same plans at once keeping them from finding themselves getting clicked.
Violet Lange was watching, still, invested in how the hell this could keep on going, what might finally turn the tides, only for her cell phone to vibrate, a text message appearing on it from a contact registered under: “C. Williams”
waiting at docks
we still on?
“Oh, shit, what time is it?” Violet glanced upwards slightly, and cursed again as she realized what hour and minute read. “Yeah, I gotta go. Uh…” She waved at the ongoing game. “See ya ‘round, guys, you’ve been totally great!”
Nobody noticed her walk away.
Nobody wins! For an equal score of 66, everyone’s time was wasted!
Category Winner Point Totals Comments
Popularity Sharp Lookers 19-10 Things seemed even for most of the voting period, with many of the votes being split, but late into it, a modest number of Sharp Lookers votes translated into a massive lead. For the first time, this resulted in votes splitting perfectly by .5s when the division was done, and since it would mean taking a point away from one side to give it to the other, that thirtieth pop point simply vanishes into the aether…
Quality Red Carpet Renaissance 20-22 Reasoning
JoJolity Red Carpet Renaissance 17-24 Reasoning
Conduct TEAM 10-10
Half an hour later…
“Uh… Kisa?” Masa asked, earning his partner’s attention. “You know how I said I’d watch the girl to make sure she didn’t pull somethin’ weird?”
“Hm?” Kitose Saiko turned to face his friend, and noticed the lack of anybody he was standing beside. “Oh my god. How… How, Masa?”
“I dunno!” He answered, sounding similarly bewildered, waving his hands as Kisa, in his frustration, lit up the entire remaining pack of his cigarettes and took a drag from each of them at once. “She just sorta… Was gone when I stopped paying attention.”
“The woman is… Gone.” Dimitri was incredulous as well. “And there goes our hints on this Black Angel! The library is surely closed by now, so we’ve wasted a day and this town knows we’re looking.”
pranked again… violet lange, u r officially… epic
As Nebula’s synthetic voice remarked that and moved to silence, Ace couldn’t help but laugh. “Vitus is gonna be pissed too, that we were dragged off to play some game instead of tailing Peres… Haahhh, man, what were we thinking? This was her job, I bet. She just needed to waste our time awhile, get us heated and fighting each other, throwing piss around and playing dirty… Gave us the slip soon as our attentions were off her. Well played, I must admit… Well played…”
“Distracting us from the Black Angel…” Dimitri stroked his chin. “And also from Peres? But I remember Laverne saying the Black Angel vigilante was banned from the Devil Blue, the hotel she works at. What could the common thread between them be..?”
“Well, I’m annoyed too… Don’t just bail on an agreement you make…” Masa answered, before adding with a slight smile. “But hey, in some good news…” He held up a gift card, waving it between his fingers. “She left the CaraMel’s gift card, 200 USD just like she said, and that place? Not just to die for, from when Ray came back with stuff from there the other day, but I hear the ‘goss’ is ‘hot’ there too, as she said in that super-exaggerated little Valley Girl voice. What say I claim this card and treat you all? Call it a, uh… Ceasefire, for now.”
gonna be annoyed if its stale by the time i can actually eat it
but ok sounds good
The game of assassin was fruitless, but the fruits of an assassination are still born, and two pairs of Stand Users fight to protect their local leaders from them. There’s still about a day to vote in that when this goes up.
Scenario:
South Aurelio - East of the Wormwood
“I am so sorry, I just lost track of time… I got these four roped into this big assassin game, and I didn’t wanna bail, but…”
Not long after Violet Lange officiated that little college game and the evening began to roll in that, again she found a Stand User’s company. Casey Williams, MFA member, sat in the passenger seat of a vibrant purple convertible, occasionally staring either at passing suburban scenery in the transition between the college town and suburban hellscape, or the way her companion’s lavender scarf billowed in the wind.
“Look, I get it, I get it, shit happens, especially ‘round Midnight Sun. You don’t need to explain.” After a few moments of silence, tapping her hands against the outer door of the car as her arm hung over the window, Casey spoke up. “I, uh… Didn’t expect you to call me, but Kirk vouched for you. Why me, for… Whatever this is?”
Violet had, that morning, asked Casey to aid her in an investigation after she finished up with some shit she had to do on campus, and still now, had said very little about what was going on sans its importance. “I trust you… For the same reason I took over the bifrost server, and the same reason I revealed myself to your team. André had faith in you all to do what was best, and, well, I have no idea what to do but follow his lead and use what power I have to do it. As for you in particular… I want to work with somebody my age, basically. No more than that.”
“If you trust me so much,” Casey said, looking to the river to her left as the pair drove along a road opposite it, admiring how the setting sun reflected upon its rippling waves, “why haven’t you told me what we’re doing, then? You sounded like it was important, so I agreed to hear you out, but you’ve still been cagey.”
“I wanted it to be in person, while we were speeding along,” Violet explained, looking out upon the road still, briefly glancing off in the distance and seeing a manor across the water, braking for a moment and pointing towards it. “See that house by the riverbank there?”
She handed Casey a pair of binoculars, and the latter surmised, “looks like a dump.”
“From the outside, and nobody has owned it for thirty years, yet…” She paused, as if she was about to say a name and reconsidered. “My contact - a high-schooler who comes and goes late at night, you wouldn’t know them, and I’m purposefully leaving them out of this, but I can vouch for their reliability - says that sometimes, late at night, delivery trucks bring perfectly good furniture to the bridge just North of here, and by morning, they seem to have just disappeared into the ground. I dunno if you pay attention to the news, but there’s a ‘Serial Killer’ who operates in this town, and besides that… Sixteen people who disappeared in this area are still missing, and haven’t had their bodies identified. The more research I’ve done lately, I’m completely certain of it. That ‘abandoned residence’ must be the ‘lair’ of this killer! It’s certainly big enough to hold that many people and then some… So I plan to break in.”
“Serial killer..?” Casey’s head tilted slightly, then, suddenly, the words hit her as Violet resumed her drive. “Wait, what? So even if you’re right, you’re just gonna bust down this guy’s door without knowing what he’s capable of? Why this? Why you, and so covert?”
“Because I’ve spent my life sneaking and slipping by to survive, clinging to stronger people. Because I used to roll with the kind of scum who would use Stands to do whatever the hell they wanted like we were better than everyone else. Because the last time I tried to get someone to take care of this killer, all she did was kill an innocent man in front of me! I’m tired of just being an ‘extra,’ moving pieces around and waiting in place, Casey. I’ve said that I just want to survive, but a friend of mine, every day, fights tooth and nail to make this place better. I’m going to be an adult and try, goddammit, and if you don’t want to do the same, I can just drop you off, and-”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Casey continued, raising her hand up, and then offering Violet a confident little smile. “When did I say I was going to refuse? Hell, lives are on the line, pedal to the metal! I hear this town has like two cops, and I sure don’t see either of them around!”
“That’s what I like to hear…” Violet’s own lips curled upwards slightly, and she stepped on the gas. “We’re gonna totally tear shit up today.”
They drove along the bridge in silence from there, Casey contemplating things as they sped along, occasionally stealing glances towards the house just what was now South of them. Not long after, though, she began to grow uncomfortable, pulling her shirt’s collar over her nose. “Eugh… What’s that smell now? We pass a dead skunk or something?”
“That’s… I know this smell. That isn’t a skunk.” Violet gave a glance to her rear-view mirror, and her face stiffened. “Casey… Get out of the car, now! Ditch it!”
“What? What is-” Casey stammered, surprised and trying to hurriedly work her seatbelt off as Violet began to jerk the vehicle around, as if intended on steering the thing straight into the river. As she did so, she glanced behind her, and though the rising shape of a figure on the back of the car was hard to make out in the twilit evening, there was certainly a massive, and vaguely humanoid, and there were eyes on her.
There were so many eyes.
Slightly down the Wormwood River…
Ah, the Wormwood River. This massive landmark is a symbol of Los Fortuna in many ways. It came to exist during the city’s foundational years, it runs from the Northernmost mountains into the city itself, and quite symbolically, it splits the affluent Eastern portions of the city, highly regarded centers of culture and quality of life, with the Western, the environmentally unclean, the poorer, the portions of the city in which the greatest safety and stability comes from being within the care of a territorial gang which has earned the ire of countless other districts.
This divide was sharp and clear in the way it split the affluently beloved outer suburbs of the Woods of Aurelio, whose schools, fine homes, esteemed country club, golf course, town hall, and most of the town’s voting centers all sat in the East.
Manta Malaise thought this symbol of all which they sought to destroy a poetic place to take their pollution this evening.
“This Metropolis which is so very very burdensome to me, and this humble hamlet so tantalizingly close to it nearby,” they began aloud, just in the off chance somebody was around to hear it (and if not, rehearsal was always useful), while the diesel-burning gas-guzzling pickup truck they purchased on the resort’s tab began dumping a container’s worth of sand and grit, “I have heard it said that this location in which we are entrapped it on the decline… Yet nay, I say. At least, nary the full picture… This place is but a microcosm of all that surrounds it, a more blatant case of all that is true elsewhere, as well… A fine example for the world, it will make.”
As they spoke, a ripped-away purple car door floated by on the river, distracting them from speaking about how, if they repeat this process for a few weeks (maybe buy a new car every time), they would be able to kill the fish eggs and microorganisms that make up the key bottom of the river life’s food chain, eventually add nitrogen to the mix to toxically increase ugly and deadly algal growth, and aloud, they spoke “curious… That is a recognizable door of a quality automobile… To whom might it belong? Ah, no matter!”
Seconds later, a bloodied figure with several open wounds along its back burst from the water, clinging to dear life to the floating door and beginning to kick in Manta’s direction with surprising strength. He seemed to have tall blond hair, green pants, and a sleeveless shirt, though those all were obviously soaked and stained both with water and blood. As he reached the shore nearby them, within the range of ‘Morgana Courts Danger’, he gasped and turned onto his wounded back.
The young man who floated towards Manta Malaise said nothing, and did not even seem to notice the effects of their proximity as they approached and turned him around to get a look at the other side of the sleeveless shirt-clad figure. The life was fading from the blond man’s eyes, and his lips trembled, a faint grin on them. He did not say a word, but as Manta looked down, they realized that the phrase on the outfit he wore said more about his final feelings, the state of his body, than his voice ever could.
Ouch!
“What… What on this fetid dying earth is going on here?” They weren’t concerned, per se, but curious about the sudden arrival of this man.
He continued not speaking, bringing a trembling hand up and away, pointing softly with a single finger Southwards, slightly - towards a shabby-looking abode.
“Do you… Mean to send me there?”
His strong lips curled into a serene smile, his hand dropped, and his eyes closed.
“Nghh… I had not the time to have his final sounds heard in life a rejection of this quest, perished for naught…” Manta remarked aloud, gritting their teeth. “As if I would simply traipse towards what is not my business… Though, how did he get here through the water? He seemed to appear so suddenly…”
They looked towards their truck. The motor was still running, but it had emptied its load fine. “I am curious,” they remarked, and so, after cranking the heat and AC of the vehicle as high as it could go, they abandoned it, diving into the water to see where this dead lad may have come from.
???
Casey awoke to that same odor again, but less severely so, in an uncomfortable, unsheeted mattress in what appeared to be a bunk room of sorts. As she rose, she had to avoid scraping her arm on a rusty spring, rubbing her eyes all the while.
“Nngh, what’s..?” She looked around, and after glancing past her a few times, saw Violet laying in a similar situation, a bizarre metal collar around her neck poking out behind the scarf, but otherwise looking unharmed. “Violet..! Wake up, Violet!”
“Nnghh… What’s..?” She sat up, feeling around for her beret and putting it on, glancing at Casey. “You’ve got a weird collar on you, Casey…” She felt at her own neck, then. “Oh.”
“Look out for those things,” a casual-sounding, low voice uttered, earning the attention of the pair; a woman with dark, wavy hair and a velvet dress was filing her nails on one of the springs. Nearby her sat a cone-haired, dirty-blond high schooler, built like a football player and a varsity away from dressing like it. “When ‘that person’ brings in a ‘Stand User,’ they get a collar like that… Likes to make up little game rules, and if they break ‘em or leave, uh…” She jerked her thumb towards a far-off wall of the room filled with a few dozen bunks, in which a bloody, smoky outline shaped like a person outstretched was dried against the wall. “Poor bastard didn’t listen because the floor wasn’t literally lava… Hey, don’t jump now, yeah? That’s not the game being played right now.”
“Palmer, you’re scaring the hell out of them, and that really isn’t useful right now… We’re going to get out soon, I’m sure of it,” another young woman’s voice called out, and as the voice seemed familiar, the face confirmed it. Though her long neat hair was short in an uneven cut, the blue blazer’s sleeves were destroyed, and the bowtie was loose, it was absolutely TV personality Jillian Heart.
“Jill..?” Violet asked, tone lightening up immensely.
She took a moment to process that, but then nodded. “Hey, Lange. You and Reed doing alright? And, uh, this a friend of yours?”
“Yeah, hi,” Casey answered, “Casey Williams… College student.”
“She’s cool, yeah,” Violet promised, looking around, “where’s Chad? Not like him to run off…”
“That’s why we’re getting out soon,” Jill answered, happily, “we noticed it when you two were brought in! Broke open this statue in the courtyard and found a waterway that ‘Worm’ - that’s what the killer goes by here - has to have been using to get in and out. They have one of those ‘Stands,’ but we all can see it, so they wear it like a costume and it guards them… But Chad’s the strongest person here, and he’s been our rock through all of this! After Worm left again, he volunteered to go through it and find help, and with him, that means it’s as good as done!”
“I see… So that makes how many people left here, then?” Casey started counting on her fingers.
“Sixteen, minus you two,” Miss Palmer answered, “I’m, uh… Palmer, by the way. Drama teacher at the high school out here. Same story as everyone else here, more or less… Bet the Superintendent’d be happy to hear Elton here and Swift Taylor are still alive, though.”
‘Elton’ said nothing, still, simply sitting there, while Jill took over a bit to talk about the place.
“I think I’m gonna start getting the lay of the land, then…” Casey said, feeling the need to take the initiative. “I’ve still got my Stand with me, thankfully, and if we can’t leave just because help shows up, that means we’re gonna have to fight to get out when this killer shows.”
“Careful,” Jill warned, “there’s traps all over the damn place here… And ‘Worm’ changes them when we’re not looking, just like they change the furniture, or what doors lock how. Makes everyday in this big house hell, and it’s worst of all around the edges. Makes up most of how people die here…”
“I’ll be careful,” Casey said with a nod, stepping out into the halls of the bizarre home.
The underwater corridor Chad had needed to swim through to get out was brutal, and even Manta Malaise had felt tense handling it. Over four meters underwater, less than two meters wide, and the top of the dark, dirty, dank area was lined with rusty nails, blades, and the blood of the man who had attempted it, across a forty-meter stretch of water - slightly shorter than an Olympic swimming pool, but so much more claustrophobic, and with pressure much higher.
They managed it, however, and were they able to speak now, would have commended the amateur cameraman who only swam as a summertime hobby for managing fatally what they were able to get through unscathed carefully. At the end of this gauntlet was a straight shot up, illuminated by moonlight, and so, Manta hurried upwards, taking a breath as they surveyed the area they had come out in.
It was a large fountain on the Eastern end of a long, statue-decorated courtyard full of thorny ground. The crumbled, destroyed remains of such a statue, presumably having once sat atop this passage, was now in pieces, only a pair of outstretched arms on either side of them.
“Look out, you damnable fool! The arms, the arms!!” A theatrical voice called out, and Manta looked its way to see a figure in a top hat, three-piece suit, and black cape with a handlebar moustache and unibrow, and before they could process it, an automated voice emerged from the crumbled head at the fountainside.
Flow 24 Detected
The stone arms seized their neck firmly, and so soon after they had breathed, they could not again. It was no matter for their strong arms to easily smash these damaged ones of stone, however, and soon, they crumbled and descended into the deep. However, Manta felt a new weight around their neck nonetheless; a metal collar.
“So… You are the ‘help’ that damned Kroeger sought? Imposing and impressive-looking for sure, but entrapped like the rest of us now.” The dapper fellow complained.
“Who are you to criticise me, when you yourself are enraptured in this place as well?” Manta asked, spying the man twirling his moustache and moving to do the same with their own facial hairs as if in challenge.
“You dare insult Los Fortuna Parking Lot Magnate Born Bad? I was celebrating turning a GarfieldEATS into one, when I thought I might make my next grand step the transformation of the entire Wormwood River into the world’s largest parking lot as well!” Bad was twirling his moustache hard enough one might have thought it would catch alike. “It would have been a fortune for me, and a record for parking lot-kind!”
“That would destroy the ecosystem of all of Los Fortuna, you know… Ingenious, if more brazen and avant-garde than I might have done,” Manta answered, “tell me now. What have I been caught in?”
Through much villainous posturing, Born Bad explained similar basics of the situation to Manta that Jill had for Casey.
“So my own curiosity has laid me in this ‘Worm’s’ tunnels… Yet, at once, I think it will do to undo this as well. Entrapment here stands in my mission’s way.”
That conversation was cut short by the sound of the Westernmost balcony opening its doors, several meters above them, and a young woman with brown hair, eyes, and skin was looking down at them. She appeared, at once, confused and intimidated by their presence, which was the response Manta generally wanted to evoke.
“Hey, you! Are… Did Chad send you?” Casey asked, clearing her throat. “How is he? Is he alright?”
“If you mean the youth who died luring me here without a word, he is certainly deceased… And has caused for me a definite predicament of a pickle.”
“Wh…” She sounded taken aback. “He’s dead? H-how can you sound so indifferent? That guy risked his life to get help for us, and-”
“And I knew him not, and he got me trapped here. Why should I shed tears for his passing?”
Before this argument could escalate further, a large, pristine-quality monitor which framed the upper Northern wall of the courtyard turned on on its own, and in it, was an image of the entrance foyer of the manor. Slowly, from its floor, that that thing Casey saw before emerged, idly twirling a saber in its hand and lifting it over its head as it leaped several meters into the air.
(Shout-outs to Skelly-tan for this art!)
A voice, both distorted and gargling yet perfectly coherent spoke from its wide maw. “Good evening, everybody, thanks for tuning in! It’s me, you all know me, your hero, the Conqueror Worm! Let’s give it up for our guests tonight… We’ve got a lot going on for our last big ‘game night!’ That’s right, you heard me, last one! Much as doin’ what I have here has been fun, after this, I mean to move onto bigger and better things… But I’ll never forget this place, pinky-promise!”
There was a sort of twisted, uncanny elegance to the way ‘Worm’ paced around, both as if it were limping in agony and gliding effortlessly, the camera focused on it at all times.
“Yep, Aurelio, you heard me right… Conqueror Worm is done bein’ your killer! The lot of you left in here are the end of a generation, and y’all are absolute treats to work with! So, with three Stand Users here, good an’ collared and here to have a time and a half, let’s make this a grand finale for the BOOKS! Stand Users,” it pointed its blade towards a small entranceway behind it, “that door there is locked, but also, in the right circumstance, the one way you’re gettin’ off my property without explodin’ into funny lil’ chunks! See!”
The screen, then, turned into a showing of two maps of the building, with several spaces highlighted. “I just got finished slitherin’ around droppin’ off three ‘chips’ which ya scan against your own specific collars, and then, if you’ve unlocked that mini-foyer behind me, boom! They’re off, and you’re free! I just gotta make sure you die before then, and I can do it with ease! With this body of mine, I can grab anything, put it in there, and pass through any surface I can fit on, see! And to the first person t’get out of it alive? A SPECIAL gift’ll come!”
“Didn’t mention the master key?” Another voice asked.
“Well no I didn’t, but no way they can get that offa-” The camera returned to its view of Worm, though Violet was standing directly behind it, directly waggling a keycard in between her fingers. Not much further back, Jill was covering her mouth with clear amusement. “Wh- Why you!” He swung at her with her blade, and she dodged back, and Worm threw his head back and laughed. “Well, I’ll be… How’d you manage t’pull that off? That’s on MY person, INSIDE here!”
“I started to steal things just for the rush and attention of it when I was seven years old,” Violet said something then, which the audio blurted out and her mouth was off-camera for, but the sound of which shook Worm to his core, his laughing growing slightly incredulous. As she did, she swiped the card over her collar, and it clanked to the ground in pieces. “Yeah, that’s right, I figured out exactly who you are… and now your whole audience knows.”
“I mean sure, think that if y’want!”
“Right… You probably censored it then.” She pouted, then struck a cool and casual pose. “No matter… I’ll just show them your corpse.” A big bushy white hound emerged from Violet’s person, then, ethereal and snarling and beautiful, and she called out, “This is the start of a new me! ‘Forgive and Forget’ is putting you down, Worm!”
As the Stand-dog rushed forward, he chuckled. “Keep runnin’ into white Stand-dogs lately, huh… It’s gonna end for you like it did the last one, too! You shoulda just run!”
F&F leapt into the air, taking aim for the throat underneath Worm’s pungent armor, but he lifted one arm, and as fangs sunk into that, his other swung its blade.
Violet’s face went wide-eyed and pale, and she looked down at herself, clutching her stomach and noticing how red poured out.
“Ooh, did I reach bone there? Tough break…” Worm pulled back the blade, removing it from Forgive and Forget’s midsection as the white dog dropped to the ground before its user, fading away as she fell to her knees. “Aw, y’didn’t realize? This ‘Saber of the Gold Knight’ I perma-borrowed from our local museum ain’t just a conversation-starter… I wouldn’t take it for no good reason at all!”
“Violet..?” Jill asked, stepping back towards another room, too afraid of Worm to rush to her friend’s aid. “What… What even happened? Worm swung at the air, and… And…” Panicking, despite her resolve, Jill ran into the other room, a look of clear terror and guilt on her face.
“…I dunno, blanked out there!” Worm chuckled a bit, shaking off its bitten, uninjured-looking arm and retracting the sword inside its own fetid rolls of rotten off-white flesh. “But whatever happened, that’s ONE down!” He kicked Violet into a corner to the sound of her whimpering and sighed, pacing around a bit as he held up his master keycard and sucked that, too, up in his person. “Won’t cause me much trouble like that, but I know the other two of ya are in my courtyard… Funny startin’ place, since I like to use that place for when a guest wants to just say ‘I give up! End it here!’ Real useful tool for that bit of mercy, y’know? But anyway, the show goes on, and one-on-one is more interesting anyway! First one t’get to the end, I’ll even throw in an EXCLUSIVE interview to make it worth your while! But I’m not gonna keep the viewers at home waitin’ anymore saying more, since this is already goin’ on a little while, and you’re our stars still! So, without further ado…”
“OPEN THE GAME!!! Man is that SATISFYING t’say!”
Location: The estate of the Conqueror Worm, a two-floor building straight out of a Survival Horror. The whole place is hanging with an odd smell, and walls of most of the rooms are dotted with realistic murals of bones and various body parts - given Conqueror Worm’s ability, one must wonder how they were made.
1F MAP, 2F MAP. Due to interests of character limit, the details of each room in the estate can be found here. Most of the rooms are pretty simple, though, so don’t be intimidated by that.
The players are denoted by the circles marked with their character’s initials, with Manta standing in the fountain on the far-East end of the Courtyard of Despair, and Casey standing on the Western second-floor balcony overlooking it. Worm, meanwhile, starts in the first floor’s entrance hall, marked with a question mark. The C marked squares and the M marked squares are the chips that Casey and Manta need respectively, scanning which against their collars will ‘count’ them as read. For what it’s worth, the Violet chips were in the hot tub, freezer, and conservatory, but that is completely irrelevant now.
The circles with numbers in them represent the nonstand-using Survivors present in the area. Exact details on each of them aren’t particularly important, but a list of their names can be found here. The personality blurbs and occupations listed aren’t really relevant for the match’s sake; even the sports stars have been brought to a point where they have the same stats as everyone else.
The X and Y marked rectangles are locked doors and their respective keys are somewhere on the map denoted by the X and Y marked diamonds; these function not unlike car keys; though they can be used to physically lock and unlock the door in person with a turn, it’s much more convenient that one press of the buttons on them can instantly lock and unlock every door on the map marked with the correct letter.
The “F” marked square is the keycard that unlocks the finish line room.
Several of these rooms have traps which Worm knows about, but the players will not be given foreknowledge of all of them. These are already set in stone, however, and it will be up to the attentiveness of the players in following the location descriptions not to fall victim to these; hints are provided, basically, and they’re designed not to be too hard to respond to if you see them coming.
The rooms’ ceilings are generally quite high, three and a half meters above the ground, with about half a meter of space between the ceiling of one and floor above - basically, being a story directly above or below Manta is NOT enough to be within the range of Morgana Courts Danger.
Goal: Casey and Manta, your own survival is priority number one here. Try to get yourself out of this situation alive! In order to do so, you must deactivate your own collar through the insertion of three chips placed around the facility, where labeled on the map. Free yourself and escape alive. That is your priority, and you are under no obligation to help anybody else if you have no desire to. Leaving the map for longer than five seconds without outright moving through the finish space marked on the map will result in the collars detonating, even if all three chips are inserted.
Conqueror Worm, kill Casey and Manta by any means necessary.
A player character will win if their score surpasses that of the Conqueror Worm’s, while receiving less will result in elimination. A tie will be regarded as normal.
This match, thus, has special voting rules. Basically, there are four valid voting options in this: ‘Casey and Manta,’ ‘Manta and Worm,’ ‘Casey and Worm,’ and ‘Conqueror Worm,’ depending on if a voter believes that both players manage to escape, one of them is stopped by the killer, or both of them are.
NPC Information:
‘Conqueror Worm’ Sheet
(Plain Text Version)
Additional Information:
Unless noted otherwise, all doors are wooden.
While there are several unique NPCs throughout the estate, functionally, all of them can generally be expected to act in the same way: they have 222 stats with irrelevant special skills, and generally speaking, do not want to die, and will act in accordance with things they believe to follow that end, though they are not particularly skilled in identifying traps on their own. Manta Malaise frightens them, however, so they may find they require a little more effort to convince people to follow them around than Casey would be able to. Born Bad (“1” on the map), a fellow Dastardly-looking villainous caricature and thus kindred spirit of theirs, is the sole initial exception.
Violet Lange is bleeding and unconscious, and will in no capacity be able to assist, but still alive and should remain so as long as her particular injuries are not aggravated and the game does not take too agonizingly long. The killer has already forgotten about her.
Through review of previous materials, the players do have sufficient information to correctly identify the user of Conqueror Worm, who is, in fact, a character who appeared in the previous Suburb match. They will be allotted one guess, accusation bolded, in the text of the strategy, to name the person. There is no penalty for an incorrect guess, but a correct guess will see ten bonus points awarded; to one side if only they guess it, while both receive five if both do. One hint: they were present at Match 8’s baseball game.
The chips are extremely durable, but if they are rendered inaccessible or removed from the premises, a safety switch will force them to be treated as if they were simply activated and used; Worm isn’t interested in a game where victory or loss is impossible.
The traps themselves will be revealed throughout the first segment of the killer’s strategy, and take up characters in as much, but the existence of these are an indisputable fact which the players must be wise to either avoid or work around.
Though his durability and endurance are exceptional to the point where a fight would be immensely difficult, the killer also possesses a ‘master key’ which, if utilized, can be scanned against the collars to unlock them, unlock the front gate, and unlock any of the electronically-locked doors in the facility.
Team Combatant JoJolity
Masters of Funky Action Casey Williams “No escape, huh? I didn’t want one anyway. That was never part of the plan.” You came here for a reason, even if you’re still trying to define what, exactly, that reason is to you. Whatever you think being a hero might mean in this situation, live up to the standard you define for yourself!
Judecca Highrollers Manta Malaise “The greatest threat to the peace of my heart isn’t Jotaro! It’s him! Josuke Higashikata!” This is an indubitably vexing situation into which you have been brought. While you abscond from this, make certain that you find clever ways to get back at that bastard who has entrapped you here!
???? “Worm” “‘Misconceptions’ are the most terrifying things in the world… And the consequences are even worse if you’re overly confident that your abilities and talents are superior.” You’ve made an absolute deathtrap of your estate here, and it would be a damn shame for any of that to go to waste. The more of your traps successfully go off and seriously hurt someone, the higher your JoJolity rating will go!
Link to the Official Player Spreadsheet
Link to Match Schedule
As always, if you would like to interact with the tournament community and be among the first to get updates for the tournament, please feel free to PM a member of our Judge staff for an invite to our Official Discord Server!
submitted by Dungeon_Dice to StardustCrusaders [link] [comments]

First Contact Second Wave - Chapter One Hundred Fourteen

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

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

Basic foundational metrics for measuring your relative sports betting performance

Measuring Returns
Understanding how to measure your performance is a crucial element of being a successful sports bettor. With varying odds and bet allocations, it’s not as simple as just counting your wins and losses. You can win 80% of your wagers, but if those bets were made at poor odds or you had poor bankroll management, you could still have disastrous results.
What you need to measure is your return on investment (“ROI”). In the finance world, ROI is defined as a measurement of the gain or loss generated on investment, relative to the amount of money invested. For example, if you bought Amazon stock at $1,000 per share and it’s currently trading at $1,900 per share, you would say that investment has an ROI of 90% (($1900 - $1,000) / $1,000). Pretty straightforward calculation.
In sports betting, however, there is often confusion regarding how to measure ROI.
Wager ROI
In the 2019 MLB season, Aaron and I wagered around $1.39 million across approximately 800 games. When it was all said and done, we had made approximately $113 thousand. If you divide $113 thousand by $1.39 million, you get 8.1%. Is this our ROI?
If you ask the average sports bettor, they would say yes. If you ask the average finance professional, they would probably ask you “well, how much money did you start with?”
We’re going to define that 8.1% (Net Win / Wagered Amount) as our Wager ROI. For every dollar that we wagered, we made around 8.1 cents.
Wager ROI = [Net Win / Wagered Amount]
Portfolio ROI
We didn't start the 2019 season with a bankroll of $1.39 million, however.
We started with $130 thousand. And we ended with $243 thousand.
Yes, we wagered significantly more than our bankroll. But we started this endeavor with an investment of $130,000. Thus, by the financial definition of ROI, we had an ROI of approximately 87%. To avoid confusion with Wager ROI (and an unnecessary argument from sports bettors), we will define this as our Portfolio ROI. Calculations as follows:
Portfolio ROI = [Ending Investment / Starting Investment – 1]
Cash Turnover Ratio
So how did we wager $1.39 million when we only started with $130,000? Well one of the beauties of sports betting (besides futures) is that the outcome of a wager is determined quickly (~24hrs for MLB, a week for NFL). When you win a game, your sports betting account is credited, and you can then use those proceeds to bet on something else.
How efficiently we use our bankroll is something we’re going to call Cash Turnover Ratio. The Cash Turnover Ratio is the amount of wagers placed, divided by the average portfolio balance over the measurement period. For simplicity, it’s best to calculate your average portfolio balance as the average between your starting and ending bankroll.
Cash Turnover Ratio = [Wagered Amount / ((Starting Portfolio + Ending Portfolio) / 2)]
Our Cash Turnover Ratio for the 2019 baseball season was 7.4x as calculated below:
7.4x = $1.39 million / [($130k + $243k) / 2]
The Cash Turnover Ratio is a measurement of how efficiently we are using our capital. If we had an average portfolio balance of $10 million and only wagered $1.39 million, that would be a very inefficient use of our capital. The only way to increase our Cash Turnover Ratio is to 1) increase our wager size or 2) place more wagers. Of course, increasing our wager size increases our risk and methods such as at Kelly Criterion give us the framework to optimize our bet allocation.
Performance Objective
So what should be our objective? To maximize our Wager ROI? To maximize our Portfolio ROI? Each person is different, but we prioritize Portfolio ROI over Wager ROI.
There’s always going to be a tradeoff between Wager ROI and the number of wagers you play (and therefore your Cash Turnover Ratio). Let’s say you only bet the most select wagers and are able to hit 60% against -110 lines. You would be sporting a very impressive 14.5% Wager ROI, but you could likely improve your Portfolio ROI by being less selective and betting the games that you may only win at a 55% clip. Your Wager ROI would decrease, but the increased volume would increase your Portfolio ROI.
So maximizing Portfolio ROI is a better strategy than maximizing Wager ROI, but is it our performance objective?
Risk Adjusted Returns
Simply, no. What we haven’t addressed yet is the riskiness of a betting strategy.
For example – Bettor 1 has $10,000 and decides to make five $2,000 wagers at -110 over the course of a week. Bettor 1 wins three and lose two, winning a net $1,455, which is good for a Wager ROI of 14.5% and a Portfolio ROI of 14.5%.
Alternatively – Bettor 2 also has $10,000 and makes 50 wagers of $200 instead, winning 30 and losing 20 over the same one-week period. Bettor 2 also has a Wager ROI of 14.5% and a Portfolio ROI of 14.5%.
Do Bettor 1 and Bettor 2 do have equally strong betting strategies? Absolutely not. Bettor 2 was able to achieve the same returns as Bettor 1 but assumed a lot less risk in the process. We can borrow another concept from the financial realm to assess risk-adjusted performance.
The Sharpe Ratio
I’ll save you the boring history and definition of the Sharpe Ratio, but it is essentially a measurement of investment performance compared to a risk-free asset, after adjusting for risk. The Sharpe Ratio represents the additional return generated for an incremental unit of risk. Risk is generally measured as the standard deviation of returns.
For our purposes, we will assume the risk-free asset to have a return of 0.0% given that these bets are short-term securities (and Treasuries are yielding next to nothing).
We can use the Sharpe Ratio to assess the performance of each Bettor. In the table below, we’ve compared Bettor 1 with Bettor 2.
Comparison of Strategies
The big difference between the two bettors is that Bettor 1 assumed a lot more risk with 1) larger bets and therefore a higher standard deviation. As a result, Bettor 2 has a much higher Sharpe ratio than Bettor 1.
You can download a workbook with the above calculations along with a more realistic example of differing betting strategies. Simply replace the shaded cells with your own data to calculate your own Sharpe Ratio. PM me if you want the workbook, or we can migrate it to a google sheet if enough people are interested.
submitted by cleatstreet to sportsbook [link] [comments]

Chasing Hznarah: A They Are Smol Story, Part 3/3

Standard Disclaimer: I do not take credit for the setting, this story is set in the They Are Smol universe, written by our very own u/tinyprancinghorse. This is a much shorter story and unrelated to any characters or situations in Smol Detective.
TPH has a Website, a Patreon, and also a Discord if you need more smol shenanigans.
Part One is here, Part Two is here.
Smol Detective 1 starts here, and its sequels start here and here.
Anybody interested in my previous non-smol story (Iron Hue-Man) can find that here.
__________
Between the staff having to make minor repairs to the starting line after Reglnen's run plus a few delays from other racers' mechanical breakdowns, Henry didn't get to start until late afternoon.
"[Are you okay with starting this late?]" asked Snnmnarath.
"Sure, no problem." Henry looked behind him at the sun that now settled closer to the western horizon. "I might have the sun in my eyes on the return leg, but I'll manage." He knelt and picked up a bit of crust between his gloved fingers, rubbing it back and forth to get a sense of its texture. After dropping the bit of salty earth, he stood. "Should give us great traction. And there's no wind to speak of. We should have a good run, my girl."
Henry patted the side of his motorcycle and missed the exchange of puzzled alien looks which literally went over his head. He ducked his head down into Lucille and performed a few last-minute checks of the turbochargers.
Nanrznin hovered nearby, his usual flamboyant manner now subsiding in the midst of a rising nervousness. He touched a finger to one ear. "[They're saying five minutes to go, [Henry].]"
"Great! Let's fire her up." Henry pulled himself up and out of his vehicle. Next to Lucille sat a small cylinder with two handles projecting from each side and a shaft protruding from its axis. Henry opened a small port in the motorcycle's aeroshell and picked up the cylinder.
"[That's a starter motor?]" asked Snnmnarath.
"Yep. A normal IC engine would have a starter built right in, but that's too much of a weight penalty here."
Henry set the starter's shaft into the port, then paused as he realized he needed three hands for this operation. "Um, Snnmnarath, could you hold down that green button right below the handlebars?"
"[Of course!]"
The human took a deep breath and then pressed his own start button. The starting motor tried to twist in his hands as it applied torque to the engine inside. The surrounding aliens started back at the sudden roar from Lucille's interior...and as Snnmnarath also started back, he let go of the starter button. Lucille's engine sputtered to a stop.
"[Sorry.]" The big alien looked ashamed.
"Hey, it's fine. I forgot to mention that she can get kinda loud. You just need to keep it pressed until she's well and truly going. Let's try it again."
The second time was the charm; this time Snnmnarath kept his finger on the button as the engine roared to life then settled down into a deep-throated rumble.
"Okay, you can let go now!" Henry yelled over the din. Snnmnarath did so and the engine kept right on rumbling. Henry reached back in and goosed the throttle a bit, causing that rumble to go louder towards an outright bellow. The curious aliens ringed around him backpedaled as if the motorcycle was a feral beast trying to smash its way out of a cage.
Henry grinned and let forth a general thumbs-up. "Ready to go!"
Nanrznin nodded and walked away from the rumbling engine so he could better communicate with those up in the announcer's booth. As Henry checked everything one last time, he hear the crackle of speakers over the throb of Lucille.
"[And now, speed fans, we've arrived at the most storied and ancient category of them all! That's right, it's time for 'Wheel-Driven, Antique, Other'! We only have one contestant in this category but they are certainly living up to the 'antique' and 'other' parts of that description. Not to mention it's the first time a [human] has competed in the Gnranth Trials. Here he is, all the way from his home planet of [Earth], give a race-day welcome to [Henry Madsen]!]"
Henry was surprised at the happy whoop of noise which erupted from the stands. It looked like every single spectator was on their feet or tail as they cheered. He gave an embarrassed wave to them all, feeling more than a little on the spot.
"[And next to [Henry] is the last great contender in this category. He's here at the Trials for the first time in [sixty years], so show your love for the one, the only, the immortal [Snnmnarath]!]"
The cheering from the stands doubled in volume, and now the onlookers waved their arms in the air as if they'd spotted Jesus, Mary and Jimi. Snnmnarath’s hood scrunched in a little in embarrassment, and he glanced over at Henry. The two of them shared a rueful smile.
One of Henry's team, a shorter male named Hgzrahn, trotted up. "Ready for your push?" he shouted over the noise of Lucille.
Henry nodded and flipped his visor closed. Hgzrahn took hold of the tail of Lucille's aeroshell while the human slung one leg up and over into the motorcycle. Henry then about wriggling himself down and in, a complicated process that resembled a reverse birth. He finally got himself situated low in the saddle, his visor tucked behind the small windscreen. His helmet and back now filled the space in the aeroshell, making Lucille finally look truly aerodynamic. With his right hand, Henry reached down and pulled up the skid that held the bike upright when at rest.
"[I still think you need a canopy!]" yelled Reglnen over Lucille's rumbling.
"Too much weight!" yelled Henry back. He fixed his eyes through the narrow windscreen and onto the distant starting gate. "Are we good to go?"
Nanrznin nodded his ears and gave a thumbs-up. Henry returned the gesture just as he felt a final pat on his back from Reglnen.
"GO GET HIM!" she yelled.
Hgzrahn began to run forward, pushing the motorcycle as Henry gunned the throttle. The rumble from the engine grew and after twenty meters Lucille was already pulling away from Hgzrahn.
The aliens watched the small red cycle accelerate, the roar from its engine still vibrating through the ground beneath them as Henry sped through the starter gate.
"[And he's off! Let's wish him a great run, folks. [Snnmnarath 's] record to beat is [seven sixty-nine MPH].]"
The roar became a buzzing howl, and the cycle became a red dot with surprising quickness. Then it vanished into the haze.
They all stood quiet for a moment.
"[I still don't like that thing's steering scheme,]" said Reglnen quietly. "[He can only turn, what, [ten degrees] at most to either side?]"
Snnmnarath 's face was serene. "[He knows what he's doing.]"
__________
The turbochargers sounded their full-throated clamor right into Henry's ears. He felt a bobble behind him as Lucille's rear stabilizer fins fishtailed ever so slightly.
"Come on baby, settle down," he murmured. His surroundings were so loud that he couldn't even hear himself talk.
He felt the wind whip up and over his windscreen, felt it tug at the top of his helmet as if it was trying to tear him out of the motorcycle. By now he figured he had the throttle about eighty percent open and he was still accelerating. He'd never gone full-open, not even during testing. If he was honest with himself, he was worried about Lucille either shaking herself to bits or simply flipping end-over-end as had almost happened to Reglnen.
The fourth timing gate streaked past him, and a moment later Nanrznin's voice sounded in his commbead. Henry could barely hear the Dorarizin over the howl of Lucille.
"[That one was [four hundred and ninety]! How are you doing?]"
Henry almost rolled his eyes, but he didn't dare take his gaze off of the black line of the course. He'd told Nanrznin repeatedly that once Lucille was barreling along in full grunt it would be impossible for him to reply and be heard.
Lucille settled down as his speed increased, much to Henry's relief. He felt his worries drop away into the slipstream as his heart rose in his chest. He could do this.
Another gate whizzed past. "[[Five twenty eight! You've got five gates left!]"
"Damn." He wasn't accelerating as fast as he wanted. "Come on baby, let's show 'em what you can do..." Henry rotated his hand, edging the throttle more open. The turbochargers seemed to howl in approval as the frame beneath him began to vibrate more and more.
The course line wavered ever so slightly back and forth beneath Lucille's front tire. Henry's hands twitched ever so slightly on the handlebars to keep her pointed true. In the heat-shimmer another black gate appeared then whipped over him.
__________
In the control/announcer booth the sixth of ten rapidly-changing digital displays slammed to a halt, showing Henry's elapsed time. The Gnranth Trials had an ancient pedigree, and its methodology still remained in a relatively primitive state in spite of existing in an era of cybernetic implants and star travel.
"[Time?]" snapped the head official, an aged-looking Dorarizin.
"<[Eight point five-seven seconds] for that segment.>" replied the Jornissian monitoring the displays.
"[[Six-twenty-nine MPH],]" said the official. He bent over and made a precise few scribes on his clipboard.
The Karnakian announcer bounced excitedly as he turned to the microphone to give the news to the crowd. As the Karnakian made the announcement the Jornissian fixed his unblinking gaze on the next segment's timer.
"" he murmured to himself. ""
__________
Lucille's body now shook so much it was hard for Henry to keep his hands firmly planted on the handlebars. He teeth bared in an unconscious grimace as he fought to keep her front tire fixed on course. The wind tugged with renewed force at his helmet while he kept opening the throttle.
Gate seven flashed overhead in an impressionistic blur.
"[Number [seven], it's...[Seven-one-two]! You're within [fifty-seven] of the record!]"
Henry knew he was still accelerating but right now had no idea how close he was to redline on Lucille's engine. There was a tachometer below him, but he didn't dare take even the merest glance downwards. Now he was getting close to going supersonic, and the buffeting against his cycle's nose made his attempts at steering even more difficult. His forearms began to cramp from the strain, a pain that he pushed down as he opened the throttle more. He had to be at ninety percent...would that be enough?
He barely had time to form that thought before he was past the next gate. By the time he heard his official speed from Nanrznin, he could see the black dot of the next one already.
"[Seven five one! Two gates left, remember you have to slow down after the [ninth] one!]"
Henry gave the throttle another goose, and after one final slam of hideously-compressed air against his nose the world seemed to settle into an eerie silence.
__________
A distant but definite crack echoed across the desert. Reglnen threw her arms around Snnmnarath, forgetting for a moment his old injuries. The grandstands shook as the spectators practially bounced up and down in their excitement.
"[He's supersonic, folks!]"
Reglnen remembered herself and pulled back from the hug. "{Sorry.}"
Snnmnarath just grinned and returned her embrace, while overhead the display showed the red streak of [Henry] flashing through the ninth gate.
__________
Nanrznin yelled something in Henry's ear, but all of his focus was now on not crashing. Whatever speed he'd managed to achieve he had to be happy with. At least he'd broken the sound barrier. The howling turbochargers quieted their din as he began to rotate back on the throttle just as the tenth gate became visible. Once he'd dropped his speed enough, he pulled the lever on his right handle to release Lucille's 'chute. He could just hear behind him the rustle of its rigging, followed by a louder snap as the 'chute unfurled.
The resulting mammoth tug on Lucille's rear made Henry's steering wobble more than usual, and for a moment he feared he'd lose control while still going way too fast. The tug on his helmet slacked off as he slowed, and after he judged it to be safe he started applying the rear brake.
Lucille coasted past the end of the black line. By now most of the support teams had departed, and there was only a couple of Jornissians from Henry's team present...plus a Karnakian that he recognized with some surprise as the main mechanic from Reglnen's team. He fumbled downward and managed to extend Lucille's kickstand before he came to a full stop. The skid on the end of the kickstand dug into the salt crust with a faint susurration as his Jornissian colleagues slithered up with typical xeno speed.
"[Any problems?]" one of them demanded.
"Nah, she ran just great!"
The pair all but threw him out of his bike, then unfastened Lucille's aeroshell. One of them muttered to himself as he looked over Lucille's engine, while the other Jornissian removed the now-empty parachute module in preparation for installing a new one.
Henry took the opportunity to unfasten his helmet and yank it off of his head. He breathed in deep, then ran one hand through his sweat-soaked hair and felt some measure of relief as the sweat quickly evaporated in the dry desert air. After a moment of closing his eyes, he finally began to pay attention to the yammering voice from his commbead.
"[Damn it, [Henry], are you there?]"
"I'm here, buddy. Carl and Jasper are looking her over. How'd I do?"
The pause on the other end told him everything he needed to know, even before Nanrznin spoke. "[Your ninth leg was [seven sixty-two MPH].]"
"Seven miles per hour short. Damn." He gazed down at the ground, not really seeing it as he pondered his strategy for the return run.
"[You still went supersonic! For this category that's considered exceptional.]"
"But not fast enough. I gotta get my average up during the way back."
Nanrznin's worry was evident in his translated voice. "[Now, [Henry], don't do anything dangerous. You were right at the limit of control, I saw how your vehicle wobbled. We can always try again in [five years], right?]"
Henry tuned out Nanrznin again as he turned to view the return course. The sun now hung low near the horizon, a blood-red disc that made him squint. After one last finger-combing of his hair, he settled his helmet back on his head and lowered the visor. Even with the tinted polycarbonate shielding his eyes he still found the sunset interfering with his vision. It was harder to make out the black course-line.
"Double damn," he muttered. That was going to make things even more difficult.
A cautious tap on Henry's elbow jogged him out of his foul mood. The Karnakian mechanic hovered over his shoulder, a hopeful be-fanged smile on her snout.
"[Greetings! [Reglnen] asked me to stay here just in case you needed assistance.]"
The human raised his visor and gave the raptor a polite bow of his head. "Much obliged, ma'am, but I think my buddies there have it pretty well under control." He turned to regard the sunset again. "Hey, now that I think about it...you wouldn't happen to have some duct tape, would ya?"
__________
Henry ignored the Karnakian's curious gaze as he finished the modifications to the helmet in his lap. The top of the visor now sported a silvery sheen thanks to a liberal application of Karnakian-supplied duct tape. That left Henry a smaller view-slit out of the bottom that should still (hopefully) allow him to steer while avoiding getting blinded by the sunset.
He pondered the fact that Karnakian duct tape was the exact same texture and color as human duct tape. Maybe convergent evolution could also be applied to engineering as well as biology?
"[Will you still be able to see?]" asked the Karnakian.
"Well enough," replied Henry. He looked up and saw Carl refastening Lucille's aeroshell.
"[We've only got [eight minutes] left, Henry!]" his colleague called out.
Henry started to walk towards Lucille, only to be restrained by a careful claw from the Karnakian.
"[I know it's very forward of me, but would you allow me the honor of giving you the initial push?]"
For one moment, Henry thought about telling him no. But then he reconsidered; what with that pleading look in all four of the raptor's eyes, that would be almost as bad as kicking a puppy. "Sure! Shouldn't need to do much, just keep me upright until I get her goin' fast enough."
With two minutes left, Henry found himself back in the cramped not-quite-a-cockpit of Lucille with the motor throbbing along underneath his saddle. He took a deep breath and felt the weight of history on his shoulders.
The Gnranth Trials had existed in one flavor or another for longer than his whole damn *civilization*. In that time countless aliens had made the trek to this place to prove themselves or break their bodies to pieces against the pitiless and unyielding desert floor.
It was now his turn. Somewhere deep in the frame beneath him were a few struts and pieces of metal, smelted and forged during a time when humans thought themselves alone in the universe. Now those struts were here and he was here. It was well past time for both those bits of metal and himself to show the galaxy what they were made of.
"My girl, it's time for us to nut up or shut up," Henry whispered. The snarl of the engine was his only reply, but that was enough of a sign of approval for him. He raised his helmeted head and nodded to the Karnakian behind him, and in response the big raptor-like alien began to trot forward with a deceptively slow-looking pace.
Just as Henry settled his head back behind the windscreen, only for a moment, he thought he saw something odd on the horizon. Something barely visible against the sunset.
Something like a brown fuzzy dot.
__________
"[Aaannnd he's off again, folks! Let's see how our brave [tiny-chomper] does on the return journey! He still has enough margin to possibly beat [Snnmnarath 's] record, provided he can get a good enough speed on any of the return segments!]"
Reglnen squatted on her haunches and clenched her interlocked paws together. It was either that or she'd start pacing. She knew it would annoy Snnmnarath, not to mention it would make herself look flighty. The Dorarizin retained enough self-awareness to know that some of the eyes in the stands were upon her as the red dot of the tiny-chomper's [motorcycle] picked up speed towards the first timing gate.
"{I hope he doesn't get too caught up in the moment,}" she said. "{I still don't like the way that craft of his steers.}"
Snnmnarath didn't reply, he just stared in fascination at the display. The drone's microphones picked up the harsh, staccato roar of [Henry's] engine, a sound that hushed the crowd.
__________
By the third gate, Henry already had his throttle at ninety percent open. Lucille's vibration seemed worse now, and he hoped something wasn't coming loose. The roar of the wind over his helmet was answered in kind by the bellow from the turbochargers; Henry ignored them both and kept his eyes fixated on his course. Fortunately his impromptu duct-tape 'sunshield' was doing its job; he could see the line without interference from the setting sun.
"[[Five two seven]! You're doing great, just be careful!]"
Henry resisted the urge to laugh. If he'd wanted to be careful, he'd have followed in his old man's footsteps and become an accountant. He risked a glance up towards the horizon. The mystery 'dot' was gone, whatever it was.
__________
Reglnen now paced in a circle around Snnmnarath and didn't give a single damn if anyone was watching. Taking the occasional glance at the display did not calm her nerves. Sure, the tiny-chomper was still intact but with her trained eye she could see how hard it was for him to maintain control.
"[Sixth gate is passed, and the official pace is...[seven two four MPH]! That is one determined [tiny-chomper]!]"
"{Do you think he could do it?}" she asked.
"[It's possible,]" replied Snnmnarath. "[The big question is how his [motorbike] performs once he goes supersonic. Air resistance becomes even harder to fight against, especially with using wheels to supply the propulsive force against the ground.]"
With great effort she forced herself to stop pacing, seat herself, and stare at the screen. "{And he's only got two wheels. Two. Even you used three, and I thought you were mad for using that few.}"
"[Broke the record, didn't I?]" Snnmnarath grinned. "[And yes, I also broke myself. Figured I'd get the obvious joke out of the way.]"
A distant and now-familiar crack sounded out just before the announcer came on.
"[Gate seven and he's supersonic! [Seven Six One MPH!]]"
__________
"Come on baby come on baby come on..."
Henry couldn't hear his own prayer-chant over the noise from his engine and from the shuddering of his bike. He felt like he'd been clamped into an operating paint-shaker by some careless giant. The strain of maintaining control meant that once again his forearms were one big cramp. As a fresh bit of hell, that pain now radiated up his back and towards his neck muscles which also ached from him holding his head at the proper viewing angle.
He shifted a bit to try to ease his neck, and in that moment made a mistake. Henry brought his helmet just a little too far over the windscreen, and the slipstream grabbed his head and yanked it even further up. The supersonic airflow slipped against the rough texture of his duct-tape sunscreen, and the resulting force slammed his visor up and open.
Red-tinged sunlight streamed directly into Henry's eyes, momentarily blinding him.
__________
Reglnen's claws unconsciously extended and mauled at the hard-packed earth beneath her. She said nothing, just ground her teeth in a continual chainsaw snarl as she watched [Henry's] bike wobble. It began to drift to the side of the course line, clearly out of control.
Snnmnarath 's voice was barely a whisper, but still audible over the suddenly-hushed crowd. "[Oh, no...]"
__________
"GAH! SHITFUCKDAMN...!" Henry managed to get his head back safely behind Lucille's windshield but he had to squint against the sun that now flooded his view. He kept his eyes cast down, just a few feet past his front tire. His sight was still half-blinded by tears, but through his wavering vision he could just make out the darker course line against the whiter ground. On pure instinct he managed to steer himself back over so he was once more pointed in the right direction, although that slight angling of his bike sent a fresh shudder through Lucille's frame as the oncoming air tried to flip her.
As Henry blinked away tears, he realized that mystery brown dot was back. He couldn't focus on it, not with the sun in his eyes. But that dot seemed to expand and grow nearer right as the eighth gate barreled past.
"[That was [seven six five]! You beat your outward run! Are you okay? Looks like you're back in control...]"
Henry ignored Nanrznin. He blinked continuously, his body now one big ache from the strain of maintaining control of his fickle vehicle. He could feel the bike and knew she was hitting her limits. There was one little bit of throttle remaining, but he didn't know if it would be enough...
Through his tears, the distant mystery dot seemed to morph into a Dorarizin running along on all fours. It was right at the limit of his vision, but Henry swore he saw a blue tongue lolling out of the hallucination's mouth.
He wobbled the bike in surprise as he thought he heard a voice in his head. This was no click-growling overlaid with a commbead's synthetic voice, it sounded...well, normal. Like a human talking to him, but bypassing his ears.
You'll never catch me, brother!
"Wanna bet, fuzzbutt?" Henry muttered.
Henry twisted his left hand, and with a protesting yowl Lucille's throttle went full-open.
He heard a responding happy laugh resound through his skull.
__________
"[Ninth gate pace is...[seven seven one MPH]!]"
"{He went faster than you,}" said Reglnen in awe.
By now Snnmnarath was the one pacing. He slithered back and forth behind the Dorarizin. "[It doesn't count. His average is still too low, only [seven sixty six point five MPH]]."
She smirked. "{I guess your record still stands, eh?}"
"[I didn't intend it to be set in stone!]" snapped the Jornissian. Then, more mildly, "[Sorry. It just frustrates me, after all these years nobody's come close. Nobody's even tried!]"
"{[Henry's] trying. And he's come damn close.}" Reglnen peered more closely at the screen. "{Er, he might still do it.}"
"[What?]" Snnmnarath stopped his slithering and beheld what Reglnen was looking at. "[Oh. Is it just me, or is he not slowing down?]"
__________
"Why?" Henry gasped, all but blind from sun and the tears still in his eyes. "Why do you laugh at me?" His back and arms were now one pulsing throb of agony.
Another burst of ghostly laughter echoed in his head. I do not taunt you, my brother. You and I are Pack, we are of one mind and one body. No, I laugh at them.
A ghostly claw raised and pointed at the dark bristling lump of the grandstands now barely visible in the distance.
I laugh at those onlookers, content to merely observe. They don't understand us. You and I, we know what it means to live life here in this place, where all ornamentals are stripped away and there is only the desire to reach the far horizon.
The grandstands expanded into a larger mass with heart-stopping quickness. Lucille's prow pointed right at the square black gate of the tenth segment.
Come find me again, my dear brother. Next time...next time, you just might catch me.
And just like that the vision evaporated, leaving Henry staring at the onrushing tenth gate. It was far too late to pop his 'chute and brake to a 'normal' stop. He figured he'd emulate Reglnen and go for glory. He'd have plenty of space after the gate to stop, after all. But his internal musing came at a price, namely that he started to drift away from the course line again.
To the side of the course line, a few hundred feet from the gate, was the one bit of non-flat salt crust for probably miles around. It wasn't much, just bump of hardpan raised a few inches up from the earth around it. Under normal circumstances, any motorcycle hitting it would feel nothing more than a slight wobble.
But Lucille's front wheel hit that earthen ramp dead-on while traveling at supersonic speed. The impact was enough to send her and her occupant airborne. The jolt also jogged Henry's hands loose from the handlebars, and he yelled in terror as he realized the disaster which had fell upon him.
The oncoming wall of air flipped his cycle, spinning him in mid-air. Lucille's speed was such that he reached the final gate in less than a tenth of a second, tumbling end-over-end like a candy-apple-red supersonic shuriken right through the gate’s center.
__________
In the control/announcer booth the tenth digital display arrested its endless scrolling. Nobody noticed. The entire staff had their faces pressed against the front window, none of them breathing as they watched the drama unfold outside.
__________
His world was sky, ground, sky, ground, sky, ground...
Henry felt tunnel-vision creep in from Lucille's spin. He thought he was gaining altitude, but he knew that would end soon enough. If he hit the ground while twirling like this, he'd become salsa in spite of his racesuit's nanotech. He floundered his right hand around, trying to find the corresponding handlebar and its parachute release. There was one chance, but he had to time it just right.
It felt like a large ghostly paw closed over his seeking hand, guiding it to its proper place on the handle and giving it a squeeze at just the right moment...
The drogue 'chute streamed out behind his tumbling craft, pulling out the main parachute. After one heart-stopping moment the main 'chute opened with a snap, instantly halting his end-over-end motion. Henry's head slammed against the windscreen, and by the time he shook the stars from his eyes the salt-crusted ground was approaching like Judgement Day.
With a massive crunch the left side of Lucille's aeroshell dug into the dust, crumpling inward and pinning Henry in place. He felt a sheet of pain flare up his left leg and arm, prompting another yell as the motorcycle went skipping along the desert floor like a flat stone over water.
Finally, mercifully, the skipping stopped and the vehicle just went sliding along, throwing salt up into Henry's eyes as he growled in pain. He had to hold his head up or his skull would be acting as a skidplate.
After a few dozen years, the cycle came to a halt. Henry let his head drop to rest against the earth as he panted, his eyes staring but not seeing. There was some sort of ruckus very far away, some sort of shouting...was it calling his name?
The right side of Lucille was suddenly gone with a squeal of torn fiberglass. Henry blinked and focused on the worried wolf-face inches above him. "Hey, Rgn..Regln...hey!"
Words formed in his commbead, words he had to focus on to parse out.
Are you okay, [Henry]?
"Fine...'m fine..." He moved his left arm and moaned. "Wait. Think I broke my arm. OW...and my leg."
He peered up at the worried Dorarizin and asked the one thing that mattered.
"How fast was that last segment?"
Before she could reply he slipped away into the darkness.
__________
When Henry woke again he was in the hospital. His particular room must have been intended for Dorarizin, since his bed reclined at an angle instead of lying flat. He blinked in the bright light shining down on him, then focused down on his body.
He was wearing a hospital gown about two sizes too big for him. His left arm and leg were swaddled in silvery bandages, and his neck sported a collar of a similar silver hue. He looked up at his surroundings. The room was much larger than any in a human hospital, which was good because there were two giant aliens already here.
Reglnen lay curled up to the side of his bed, apparently asleep. Snnmnarath sat in a loosely-coiled pile at the foot of his bed. The Jornissian held a datapad in his clawed hands, swiping a finger now and again as he read. He quirked his hood up upon seeing Henry stir.
"[Ah, back among the living I see!]"
Henry opened his mouth to respond, only to be confronted with the pants-soiling sight of a triple-rowed mouthful of fangs. Reglnen's amber eyes bored into him. "[Are you feeling all right? Any pain?]" Her nose poked here and there along his neck and collarbones. "[They said that collar would monitor your vitals, but I still say they should be here keeping an eye on you personally.]"
He tried to fend off her sniffing, but her questing snout would not be denied. "Ack, just...errf, I'm fine, I'm fine! I feel like somebody's had a go at me with a baseball bat, but otherwise I'm fine."
Finally Reglnen leaned back, but still had a judgmental look on her face. "[You took too big of a risk.]"
"Says the woman with a half-melted leg." Henry looked at Snnmnarath for moral support, but the big snake had a cheeky gleam in his eyes. "Well? Don't keep me in suspense! How'd I do?"
The Jornissian sighed. "[I'm afraid that during your last segment you only clocked a speed of...[seven hundred and seventy-eight MPH]."
Henry tried to do the math in his head, but it took him a bit. He was still fuzzy from whatever happy-drugs they'd dosed him with. "Wait...does that mean...oh."
Reglnen beamed. "[Your final average was [seven hundred and seventy] even.]"
Snnmnarath shook his hood. "[I can't believe it. You beat me by the merest jnarlth-whisker. Go ahead, be smug. I suppose you've earned it.]"
Instead of gloating Henry lay back and stared at the ceiling, feeling as if he just might float up and through it. "We did it, old girl," he whispered.
His elation was short-lived. The door to the room opened just enough to admit Nanrznin, but as he slipped in sideways a few other aliens crowded in behind him. They bore the usual markings of reporters; datapads at the ready and camera drones hovering next to them. The intruders didn't waste any time in shouting questions.
"[[Mister Madsen], Gnalnth-of-Namrn, GalNet Central News Network. Now that you've emerged victorious, what are your next plans?]"
"Eh?"
The Dorarizin reporter was elbowed aside by a pythonesque Jornissian. "[Mnarhanthn, Daily Disclosure. What do you say to the allegations that [humans] enjoy an unfair advantage in the Gnranth Trials due to their much smaller stature and lighter weight?]"
"What the flaming HELL are y'all on about..."
Nanrznin threw his arms open and tried to shepherd out the invaders with little success. More started pushing against the door, a few feathered or furred arms even held camera drones around the edge of the door just to get a glimpse of Henry.
Reglnen-of-Nrzahn stood, becoming a monolith of fur and muscle. "[OUT! NOW!]"
The furious, booming roar got the reporter's attention, and within a few moments there was once more blessed quiet in the room.
"[Sorry about that,]" said Nanrznin. His usually well-groomed mane now looked decidedly mussed, and he fidgeted his claws together in worry. "[I tried to come in through the cargo entrance, but a few of them spotted me and gave chase.]"
Reglnen chuckled and rested a friendly paw on his shoulder. "[Ah, don't worry. I've dealt with that crap enough. If our [human] here hadn't stolen all of my thunder, I'd be the one getting pestered with stupid questions right now.]"
For some reason that made Henry feel ashamed. "Sorry, ma'am. I didn't mean to."
She laughed. "Oh, better you than me, that's my motto!"
"[We will have to give a press conference sooner than later,]" said Nanrznin. "[We're already getting flooded with sponsorship offers.]" He nodded towards Henry. "[Next time you might even be able to compete in one of the other categories! We'll surely be able to afford it.]"
Henry pondered that for all of three seconds. "Nah. I think I'll stick to this one. We'll put the money into fixing up poor Lucille, get her runnin' good again."
"[I heartily agree,]" said Snnmnarath. "[I'd love to get some interest and fresh blood into my old category.]" He slithered up to the side of Henry's bed and shook hands with the human. "[I'll see you at the next Trials, my friend.]" With a stately nod to the two Doraizin the Jornissian slithered out the door. It seemed that the reporters had gotten the message; there were no fresh ambushers lying in wait. After a bit of chatting, Nanrznin made his exit as well.
"If you need to head out, go ahead," said Henry. "I'll just be sleeping for a bit anyway."
"[I just hate the idea of leaving you alone,]" said Reglnen. She plonked her huge frame next to his bed once more, clearly not going anywhere.
"All right, suit yourself." Henry paused for a moment, wondering if he should tell her of what he'd seen and heard during that last part of his run. Then he figured that if he couldn't tell her, he couldn't tell anyone.
"I...I saw him."
"[Who?]" Then her eyes widened and her ears went back flat against her head. "[Hznarah?]"
"Yeah. I spoke to him, too. He spoke back. I dunno, it was probably my brain being silly. I was in pain and stressed and the damn sun was in my eyes...but it felt real, you know?"
"[I know.]"
Henry smiled. "I almost reached him, too. I'll get him next time."
Reglnen matched his smile. "[Not if I get him first.]"
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Betting Tips today  Sports Betting Journey DAY 2 ( 14.7.2020 ) 100% SURE VIP BETTING TIPS, 15/7/2020 : WIN UP TO 100,000 ... BASEBALL BETTING STRATEGY 100% SURE VIP BETTING TIPS, 17/7/2020 Best Sports Betting Strategies

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Betting Tips today Sports Betting Journey DAY 2 ( 14.7.2020 )

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