WWE Survivor Series Betting Preview - Odds and Predictions

Survivor Series betting odds

Survivor Series betting odds are some of the closest I've seen as they seem to have no idea who is going to win the brand vs. brand vs. brand matches. The title matches are a completely different story though with huge favorites in all three matches. Should be a good show from a surprise standpoint at least.

There is also a betting odd on "bragging rights", the brand that wins the most matches. I think they are crazy for favoring NXT.

SOURCE: https://www.betonprowrestling.com/wwe-betting-tips/wwe-survivor-series-2019-betting-tips/
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2019 Survivor Series betting odds

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Survivor Series betting odds reveals tough night for one brand

Survivor Series betting odds reveals tough night for one brand submitted by PolyShaun to CagesideSeatsPro [link] [comments]

Survivor Series betting odds - some surprising 'favorites'

Survivor Series betting odds - some surprising 'favorites' submitted by TheSharpshooter to WWE [link] [comments]

Survivor Series betting odds

Team Cena -130 with Authority +110
Any insight?
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Survivor Series - Odds and Betting Tips

These are the current odds for potential outcomes at Survivor Series. For anyone not familer with odds, if we take an odd of 2.25, and we bet one unit on these odds and it's successful, we gain 2.25 units back. All odds are taken from Paddy Power's WWE section on their website.
Match Winner
Outcome Odds Outcome Odds
Brock Lesnar 1/4, 1.25, -400 Goldberg 5/2, 3.50, +250
Raw Men's Team 4/7, 1.57, -175 Smackdown Men's Team 5/4, 2.25, +125
Raw Woman's Team 4/7, 1.57, -175 Smackdown Woman's Team 5/4, 2.25, +125
Raw Tag Teams 4/11, 1.36 -275 Smackdown Tag Teams 15/8, 2.88, +187.50
Sami Zayn 2/5, 1.40, -250 The Miz (C) 9/5, 2.80, +180
Brian Kendrick (C) 9/4, 3.25, +225 Kalisto 3/10, 1.30, -333.30
Raw Men's last man standing
Outcome Odds
Roman Reigns 5/4, 2.25, +125
Kevin Owens 15/8, 2.88, +187.50
Seth Rollins 5/1, 6.00, +500
Chris Jericho 13/2, 7.50, +650
Braun Strowman 9/1, 10.00, +900
Smackdown Men's last man standing
Outcome Odds
Dean Ambrose 11/10, 2.10, +110
AJ Styles 5/2, 3.50, +250
Randy Orton 7/2, 4.50, +350
Bray Wyatt 7/1, 8.00, +700
Shane McMahon 10/1, 11.00, +1000
Raw Woman's last woman standing
Outcome Odds
Sasha Banks 5/4, 2.25, +125
Alicia Fox 5/2, 3.50, +250
Nia Jax 4/1, 5.00, +400
Bayley 5/1, 6.00, +500
Charlotte 17/2, 9.50, +900
Smackdown Woman's last woman standing (No odds)
Raw Tag Team last team standing
Outcome Odds
New Day 11/10, 2.10, +110
Cesaro and Sheamus 11/5, 3.20, +220
The Club 7/2, 4.50, +350
Enzo Amore and Big Cass 17/2, 9.50, +850
The Shining Stars 10/1, 11.00, +1000
Smackdown Tag Team last team standing
Outcome Odds
American Alpha 11/10, 2.10, +110
The Usos 5/2, 3.50, +250
Slater and Rhyno 4/1, 5.00, +400
The Hype Bros 7/1, 8.00, +700
Breezeango 9/1, 10.00, +900
Interferance during the Brock Lesnar v Goldberg match
Outcome Odds Outcome Odds
Yes 6/5, 2.20, +120 No 8/13, 1.62, -162.50
Royal Rumble Winner - Early Selected Odds
Winner Odds
Finn Balor 10/3, 4.33, +333.30
Seth Rollins 5/1, 6.00, +500
John Cena 5/1, 6.00, +500
Brock Lesnar 6/1, 7.00, +600
Roman Reigns 13/2, 7.50, +650
Chris Jericho 7/1, 8.00, +700
AJ Styles 8/1, 9.00, +800
Kevin Owens 8/1, 9.00, +800
Randy Orton 10/1, 11.00, +1000
Dean Ambrose 12/1, 13.00, +1200
Bray Wyatt 12/1, 13.00, +1200
Triple H 14/1, 15.00, +1400
Undertaker 20/1, 21.00, +2000
Nakamura 22/1, 23.00, +2200
Samoa Joe 25/1, 26.00, +2500
Sami Zayn 33/1, 34.00, +3300
Kurt Angle 33/1, 34.00, +3300
The Rock 50/1, 51.00, +5000
Shaq 100/1, 101.00, +10000
Donald Trump 500/1, 501.00, +50000
Conor Mcgregor 750/1, 751.00, +75000
My Tips
Outcome Odds
Charlotte last woman standing 17/2, 9.50, +900
Undertaker Royal Rumble winner 20/1, 21.00, +2000
Interferance during Lesnar v Brock - Yes 6/5, 2.20, +120
Disclaimer: I'm not saying I think these bets will happen, but I think there are value in placing bets on them though.
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What do you mean it goes boom?

Captain Thraxos perused the ship manifest one more time. There was a late entry to join the convoy to Cycria. Cycria was a remote world and had been having a pirate problem with merchant traffic attacked several times over the past two years. As the pirates had got more bold the situation had become untenable and the Galactic Federation had to finally do something about it.
Thraxos was the captain of the light cruiser GFN Duhrel and he had been tasked to escort a merchant convoy from Dilolla to Cycria as deterrence to the pirates. He did not relish the assignment to babysit a motley fleet of civilians, but as GalFed captain he went where he was ordered to.
The final ship to join the convoy was the IMS Antelope. A Human merchanter that had been berthing here at Dilolla even before Thraxos had arrived. Apparently they had had some difficulty in securing new cargo to take on board and looking at the ship’s specs Thraxos could not blame anyone for not wanting to put their valuables on board this old rustbucket. But Cycria was not exactly a prime destination and apparently someone had been desperate enough to contract the Antelope to ferry their cargo to Cycria at the last minute.
IMS Antelope was an Independent Merchant Ship, owned and operated by her captain Robert Nele. Even her designation was thoroughly Human. The Humans had some of the most stringent licensing requirements to own and operate starship class drives which basically put them out of reach of civilian individuals. So, in turn, the independent merchanters had banded together and founded the Independent Merchant Ship company which held the licenses for the starship drives operated by their members with minimal interference from the company itself.
Thraxos scoffed, but the Humans were an upstart species. Perhaps it was for the best that not just anyone could get their hands on potentially volatile technology. That showed more responsibility of them than Thraxos had heard based on their reputation.
The Antelope herself was almost 60 years old and looking through her log she had mostly been operating within or near Human space. This was as far as she had ever been from home. Still, for all the tarnish on her hull, she had passed her latest spaceworthiness inspection only six months prior.
She was one of the weirdest looking ships Thraxos had ever seen. She was basically a lattice spine on which standard cargo containers were mounted like grapes on a vine. Front end had habitation and docking, the back end had its large engine, ending on a flat plate mounted on what looked like pillars. Curious.
Thraxos studied her engine specifications. Her main engine was of type Thraxos had never even heard of before, something the Humans called ‘orion’ type nuclear pulse thruster and with her mass, impulse and thrust she would be by far the slowest ship in the convoy, only barely scraping over the acceptable lower limit. Her jump engine likewise was an antiquated Type-I, only barely able to do the jumps required for this route. But she was over the bar so Thraxos had to grudgingly accept her to the convoy.
Slightly annoyed, Thraxos sent the engine specifications to his astrogator to have their course and time estimates recomputed to match the Antelope’s slow speed. Then he fired off a message to all ten ships in his convoy to prepare to unberth and meet at the system’s jump point in twelve hours.
At the start of next morning’s shift Thraxos entered the bridge to relieve the nightshift watch officer. It would be two hours until their scheduled jump off time, plenty of time to undock and make their way the 50 000 kilometers over to the jump point.
Captain Thraxos turned to the operations officer of the previous watch. “Anything interesting going on?”
Lieutenant Commander Tarkran shrugged. “Just the Humans, sir. The Antelope cast off six hours ago and has been slowly making their way to the jump point using manoeuvring thrusters only.”
Thraxos was taken aback. “What? Why?”
Tarkran shrugged again. “No idea, sir, but they’ll be arriving at the jump just before the scheduled time.”
Captain Thraxos just shook his head. “Alright, thanks. I have the bridge.”
Tarkran nodded and announced, “Captain has the bridge.” Tarkran turned and left as Thraxos sat down on the command chair.
Captain Thraxos waited for the other stations to complete their watch handover and then turned to communications. “Lieutenant Coccols, request undocking.”
“Aye, sir.” the comm officer responded.
Thraxos then turned to the astrogation officer. “Lieutenant Ulan, please prepare a course plan to take us to the jump point after we’ve moved past the station’s safety perimeter and execute once we have undocking permission.”
Next Thraxos glanced over his executive officer sitting at the operations station. “While we’re en-route, prepare a convoy placement assignment for each ship according to the exclusion zones of their engines. I want us to be in the middle. Hopefully the pirates will think we’re just another fat merchantman until it’s too late.”
Commander Nivek nodded. “Aye sir. I think I can nestle us between GMS Aelat and IXS Naholl. I’ll have to see what we can do with the human ship.”
“Very good.”
Lieutenant Coccols turned around. “Sir. Undocking clearance granted, we have 1 minute window.”
Captain Thraxos nodded. “Lieutenant Ulan, undock and execute.”
“Aye, sir.”
There was an almost imperceptible shift as the GFN Duhrel unlatched from the station and then pushed itself away from station’s bulk using its manoeuvring thrusters. After thirty seconds they had cleared the station perimeter and they were able to engage their fusion drive. Even at the minimal power that was allowed to be used near stations, it would only take them about 30 minutes to reach their designated staging point.
“Ummm… Captain?” Commander Nivek interrupted after a few minutes. “Have you looked at the exclusion chart for the Human ship?”
Thraxos furrowed his brow. “No, why?”
Commander Nivek hesitated for a moment. “I think you should.”
Captain Thraxos called up the schematic of the Human ship on his terminal. It was still one of the ugliest ships he had ever seen, but he wasn’t here to judge a beauty contest. He switched the overlay layers to the engine exclusion zone.
“What the fuck?” he exclaimed.
For most ships the exclusion zone was a cone behind them a few degrees wide. For IMS Antelope it was a whole half sphere and then some, covering just under 200 degrees of arc and extending all the way to 5000 kilometers, with an advisory zone all the way to 20 000 kilometers.
“I think I know why they’re limping out there with their manoeuvring thrusters only.” Commander Nivek posited. “There’s no way they could have fired up that drive anywhere near the station.” After a moment he continued. “I think the only place we can put them is as the last ship in the convoy with nobody behind them.”
Captain Thraxos shook his head in disbelief. “Do they have a completely unshielded reactor back there or something?”
“I don’t know, I’ve never seen anything like this, but it must be by design and approved, since they’ve passed their inspections.”
Thraxos sighed. “Well, transmit the assigned relative positions to all ships and manoeuvre us into position to wait for them.”
The convoy of all ten merchant ships had taken up their positions around the cruiser GFN Duhrel with the IXS Ikol at the front and IMS Antelope at the rear. All the ships slaved their jump engines to the control of GFN Duhrel and in concert they tore a hole in reality that whisked them to another starsystem a dozen light years away.
The system the convoy appeared in was uninhabited, a puny red dwarf with only a catalogue number as its name. They would then have to traverse the system to the next jump point that would allow them to jump to the next star in the chain to Cycria.
Most of the time in traversing the galaxy was spent moving from jump point to jump point within each starsystem. Some systems were lucky and their jump points were close-by, others had them far apart and it took a long time and a lot of Δv to traverse. The locations of the jump points and where you could jump from them depended on the background arrangement of the dark matter permeating the galaxy which warped the extra dimensions of spacetime.
The convoy would have almost a week ahead of them to traverse to the next jump point in this system, and just over two months to reach Cycria.
Captain Thraxos looked over the monitors and concluded that everything was in order. “Lieutenant Ulan, plot a course to the next jump point.”
The astrogator glanced over. “Already laid in, Captain. Ready to execute on your command.”
“Very good Lieutenant.” Thraxos acknowledged with pleasure. “Signal the convoy to get underway and execute.”
Ten of the ships in the convoy each fired up their fusion torches of various sorts and the convoy started moving, but then behind the eleventh ship, the IMS Antelope, something exploded with nuclear fury.
“CAPTAIN!” Sensor officer Birrai shouted. “The engine of the Antelope just exploded!”
“What?” The captain looked up. Just his luck that the Human rustbucket would have a catastrophic engine failure immediately upon firing up that lethal engine of theirs. “Signal all stop!”
Just as soon as the fleet had started moving the torches died down as each ship ceased accelerating.
Thraxos hit transmit button on his terminal. “This is captain Thraxos of GFN Duhrel to IMS Antelope, do you require assistance?”
Thraxos looked at the sensor scan on his screen as he waited for their reply. At least there didn’t seem to be much debris. Hopefully the Humans didn’t have many casualties.
A calm, if slightly confused, voice came on the speakers. “This is IMS Antelope. Uh, negative on assistance. Why, what is the problem?”
Captain Thraxos looked at his sensor officer, who just spread his arms. Then back to the sensor display, until he finally hit transmit again. “Duhrel to Antelope, did you not just have a catastrophic engine failure?”
“Um. Oh!” There was a sudden realization in the voice on the radio. “Negative Duhrel. That was the detonation of our 50 kiloton nuclear propulsion charge.”
“50 kiloton propulsion?! YOUR SHIP SHITS OUT NUCLEAR BOMBS!?” Captain Thraxos immediately regretted his lapse in decorum, but the sheer insanity of the idea had caught him completely off guard.
“Affirmative Duhrel. Apologies for the confusion. The shaped nuclear charges are used to push against the driveplate at the back of the ship which transfers the momentum imparted to the ship through a staged shock absorber assembly.”
After the convoy had gotten over the shock of the Humans’ propulsion system the rest of the voyage to the jump point had passed quietly. Or as quietly as a fleet trailing a stream of nuclear explosions can go. As had the second and third jumps.
When the convoy appeared in the fourth system on the route, another nondescript nameless star, things rapidly went south. Before the convoy had a chance to start moving a warhead detonated half a million kilometers away from the jump point.
Three pirate cruisers brought up their EM suites and aimed their targeting radars at the merchant convoy. The pirates were well poised about to catch any merchants that chose to try to flee, with each pirate able to cover a large part of the possible trajectories.
An ultimatum was transmitted on all the universal emergency channels. “This is captain Qauk’ats of The Blood Raiders. Stand down your ships and prepare to be boarded. Any resistance will be met with lethal force.”
Captain Thraxos considered his options. The Federation Fleet Command had not anticipated this heavy pirate presence. The previous raids had been performed by single ships each. His light cruiser might be able to take on two of the pirates, depending on how well they were equipped and trained, but all three would be too much. Especially when they were spread out like this, so he would not be able to concentrate his point defences in any single particular direction.
On the other hand he had not yet betrayed that GFN Duhrel was a warship. His ship had been chosen for this because it was roughly the correct size to pass as a medium merchantman. Could he use this to his advantage somehow…
“Lieutenant Coccols, signal the convoy to stand by. Comm laser only, let’s not tip our hands yet.”
Captain Thraxos prayed that none of the merchanters would panic and start running, he was only one ship, he couldn’t be in two places at once to protect everyone.
“Lieutenant Commander Birrai, use passive scanners only. Limit actives to equipment a merchantman could realistically have. Go loud on sensors only if our cover is blown.”
Thraxos was stalling for time and he knew it. He needed something to give him an extra edge somehow. Something, anything. Just one way to neutralize one of the pirate cruisers to even the odds.
On the screen vectors appeared showing the pirate ships starting to accelerate carefully towards the convoy since the convoy seemed to be capitulating. Whatever he comes up with he would have to come up with quickly.
Then the comm officer piped up. “Captain, we have a laser message from IMS Antelope. Captain Nele wants to talk with you.”
Thraxos sighed. Great, he didn’t have time to babysit a panicking merchanter right now. “Signal them to just stand by.”
Few moments later lieutenant Coccols replied. “He’s being very insistent, sir.”
“Fine.” Thraxos grumbled. “Put him on my monitor.”
Captain Thraxos waited until on his screen appeared the image of a middle aged human wearing a black collared suit with a white shirt underneath and a tie around his neck. On his head he had a white hat with a black visor. On the hat was a golden patch with a stylized antelope rimmed with golden stylized ropes.
“Captain Nele, what do you want?” Thraxos tried to hide the annoyance in his voice, but it still leaked through. “We’re kind of busy right now.”
Captain Nele ignored his tone. “Captain Thraxos, I’m sorry to interrupt, but I have a suggestion. Am I correct to assume that three pirate ships are too many for you to handle?”
Thraxos hesitated.
Nele sighed. “Captain, this is no time for ego. Is it so?” He looked at Thraxos with stern eyes. “Because if it is, then the Antelope can take on one of them.”
Thraxos’ eyes widened. “What? No, out of the question!”
“Captain, the Antelope’s driveplate is designed to withstand repeated nuclear explosions with minimal ablation. It is tougher than battleship hull. And I bet the pirates don’t know that our ship ‘shits out nuclear bombs’ either as you so eloquently put it.” Nele glared at Thraxos. “I’m not planning to die today after a failed last stand, so one more time: do you need help or not?”
Thraxos glanced to the side. As much as he didn’t want to admit it, he did need help. After an agonizingly long moment he turned back to face the other captain. “Yes. You’re right. We can probably take on two, but not all three of them.”
Nele nodded. “Alright. So here’s what I have in mind...”
The control room of the merchantman was spartan compared to the bridge of a warship. Captain Robert Nele was standing next to the sensocomm station looking at the radar plot. His heart raced and he hoped he wasn’t about to do something completely stupid. He glanced around and he knew that the rest of his crew felt the same. But they had to at least try.
He breathed deep once and then exhaled. “Alright Terri, jettison the cargo containers. Arkady, use the azipod thrusters and lets make like bat out of hell.”
The engineer, Terri Grove, hit buttons on her console and a series of thumps echoed throughout the ship. “All containers released.”
Helm officer Arkady Stachowiak used the translation joystick to pull the ship backwards out from between the containers that were now lazily floating in space. “We’re free.” Then he turned the ship to a new heading and fired the azipod manoeuvring thrusters at full. “Batting out of hell.”
The azipod thrusters could be turned to allow the ship to accelerate in almost any direction. They were meant for use near ports for both manoeuvring and mobility where the Antelope couldn’t use her main nuclear pulse engine. Because of this the azipods were unusually powerful for a ship of her size and with the Antelope shed of all her cargo they could give her pretty decent acceleration.
Niels Becker glanced up to the captain standing next to him. “Radio from Duhrel.” He pressed a button to put it on the loudspeakers.
Captain Thraxos’ voice sounded frantic as he yelled at the Antelope. “Get back here Antelope! Didn’t you hear what they said!”
Robert shook himself to get into character. Then he pressed a button on Niels’ station and shouted back in panic. “Fuck that shit! I’m getting the hell out of here! It’s every man for themselves!”
He took a second to steady himself again. “Alright Niels, let’s see which pirate takes the bait. Arkady, once we know who is chasing us, turn us so our driveplate is pointed at them. Make a good show of trying to get away, we need to lure them out far enough.”
“Will do, Bob.” Arkady acknowledged. “I’ll give them a merry chase.”
“Now we just hope they want us disabled and don’t use missiles.” Robert voiced everyone’s concern. “Terri, how are your modifications coming along?”
Without even looking up from her console, Terri replied, “I’ve got the launcher patched. I’ve voided pretty much every warranty we have, but I managed to coax it to load four charges at once. With our biggest bombs that’ll give them a two megaton surprise.”
Robert nodded. “Very good.”
Terri continued, “The bombs turned out to be trickier. I should be able to get their attitude control software overridden, but they also have hardware safeties. I had to send Jonesy to physically bypass them. But that also means he can slap a radio module on them while he’s at it, so we’ll be able to detonate these on command.”
Robert grinned. “Excellent. Great work. Let me know when Jonesy is done with the mods.”
“Aye. Just one last thing. Once we load up any bombs into the launcher, we won’t be able to unload them any more.”
“Alright. Keep the launcher on full manual then and load only on my command for now.”
Niels interjected. “Contact-3 is altering course to intercept. I’ve coloured her pink on the radar plot.”
Robert glanced over at the helm. “Arkady?”
“On it. On our new course they’ll reach weapons range in 52 minutes. By that time we’ll have spent 84% of our manoeuvring propellant.”
Terri winced.
Robert noticed it. “What’s wrong, Terri?”
“Oh, I’m just thinking of our next overhaul. The azipods weren’t meant to be used this hard for this long.”
“Good to see you’re still an optimist.” Arkady commented. As Terri glowered at him, he added, “You think we’re gonna live long enough to service them.”
Terri laughed and the rest of the command crew chuckled.
Their moment of mirth was, however, cut short when Niels announced a message from contact-3.
Antelope, this is captain Mas’ieh of raider Bathed in Blood. Stand down immediately or you will be fired upon. This is your only warning.”
After a moment of silence captain Nele said, “let them eat static.”
It had been a tense half hour as the Antelope had led the pirate raider away from the rest of the group. Once they were too far away for Bathed in Blood to turn back and help his pirate brethren the GFN Duhrel had broken off the convoy and raced to meet the other two pirates.
With all the pieces in motion it was now captain Mas’ieh’s turn to make a choice. He had three choices: continue pressing the Antelope, turn back and attack GFN Duhrel, or turn away and run.
If he turned to attack GFN Duhrel, he would arrive to the battle too late to help Red Mayhem and Dread Rising. If the two ships could not beat Duhrel, then he would face Duhrel on his own and it might go any way depending on how much damage Mayhem and Dread had inflicted on her. If on the other hand Mayhem and Dread managed to destroy Duhrel, then he had just let the Antelope escape for no reason.
If he decided to run, then his chances depended on whether Mayhem and Dread could destroy or disable Duhrel. Duhrel was faster so she would be able to catch up with Bathed in Blood before he could slip out of the system at the next jump point. But if Mayhem and Dread did manage to destroy Duhrel, his attempt to flee would not be looked upon kindly by the leader of the Raiders.
So, no matter what happens his only real option was to press on Antelope. If Mayhem and Dread won against GFN Duhrel, then capturing the Antelope was the most useful thing he could do. If Mayhem and Dread lost to GFN Duhrel, then he was in no better or worse position than if he had turned away from Antelope. He would still have to face Duhrel just the same.
He sent a message to captain Qauk’ats aboard the Red Mayhem with his plan of action to continue chasing the Antelope to make sure she couldn’t escape, and the rationale for taking this action.
What he didn’t mention was that if Mayhem and Dread lost to Duhrel, but damaged her enough for him to destroy her… well, then he would have just become the new leader of The Blood Raiders.
The atmosphere was tense in the control room of the IMS Antelope. Minutes ticked by as the raider Bathed in Blood chased them. Several hundred thousand kilometers away the GFN Duhrel and raiders Red Mayhem and Dread Rising were fast approaching each other.
“Nuclear explosion.” Niels announced suddenly. “The raiders have started firing on GFN Duhrel. I think Duhrel’s point defence got that warhead. It was too far to cause any damage.”
Robert nodded in silence. They could do nothing more to help, that battle was now up to captain Thraxos.
“Two more. This time against contact-2. Their point defence stopped them.”
Thraxos and Duhrel had an advantage. They could fire their magazines empty if they had to without consequence. For the pirates, every missile they shot was invaluable, for they couldn’t just pull in to a naval yard to resupply. But there were still two pirate ships and if their magazines were full, then Duhrel would be in serious trouble.
“No fire for a few moments. I think they were just probing each other at extreme missile range.”
Robert turned to Niels. “How long until Bathed in Blood is in missile range, assuming their range is similar?”
Niels looked at the range plot. “Two minutes.”
Suddenly there was a radiation alarm. Robert looked at Niels with the look of ‘are you sure’ all over his face.
Niels looked at his instruments. “That was ten thousand kilometers away and off to the side. I think it was a warning shot. Negligible radiation dose.”
Robert thought for a moment and weighed his options. “We’ll keep going. Hopefully they won’t waste more missiles on us.”
The uneasy silence returned as more minutes ticked by. Only occasionally broken as Niels reported events of the battle happening far away.
The exchange of fire increased as the combatants got closer. GFN Duhrel was pressing on contact-2, the Dread Rising, and closing the distance as fast as she could. Her point defences were working at near saturation as the two pirates poured missile after missile upon her. But likewise, her missiles pushed the pirate crew aboard the Dread Rising to their limit as well.
“HIT!” Niels exclaimed! “Contact-2 has left behind debris.”
Everyone cheered. A hit was nice, but it wasn’t the end of the battle. Nowhere near. Warships were compartmentalized to the maximum and even a direct warhead hit only crippled them locally.
Soon the flashes of missile warheads were joined by the invisible beams of anti-ship lasers as GFN Duhrel and Dread Rising reached energy weapon range. Both ships took hits to their hull.
Warship armour had diamond threads woven into it, which were as close as you could get to thermal superconductivity. Each time a laser flashed across a panel, the weave would try to spread out the thermal load to try to keep the plating from vaporizing locally where it was hit and hopefully the plate would be able to radiate the heat load away before another hit. But if any plate was saturated by heat, the entire plate would melt all at once.
Niels was able to see thermal spikes on his IR scopes, but his instruments weren’t powerful enough to resolve what effects those hits had. Neither were the instruments of the other merchanters who were relaying their scanner data to the Antelope as well, which let Niels see the Bathed in Blood even though it was in the shadow of their driveplate. Otherwise the plate would have been a blind spot for them, for no sensor could be mounted on it that would be able to withstand the constant bombardment of nuclear fire it was under in normal operation.
They could only guess how the battle was going. Both ships were streaming air and metal behind them. Both ships were hurt, but how badly was anyone’s guess. Then their own trouble started.
Terri frowned. “I think we’ve just been shot at by Bathed in Blood with their lasers. I’m reading an increased thermal load on the driveplate. Activating cooling system.”
Robert swallowed. This was it for them. “Here goes nothing then. Arkady, start jinking with the azipods but make sure the driveplate remains between us. Let’s make it look good and not give them too easy a target.”
“I think we just had a near miss. The driveplate heat load spiked again, but much less. I think only the halo of the laser caught us this time.”
Robert nodded. “Keep going.”
With their overpowered azipods being able to move them laterally in almost any direction the cargoless Antelope was an exceedingly difficult target for the Bathed in Blood to hit compared to a warship. But every jink burned even more of their manoeuvring propellant. They wouldn’t be able to keep this up for too much longer.
“Direct hit on our plate.” Terri announced once more.
“Vent all our airlocks, let’s make them think they hurt us.”
The Antelope shuddered a little as the airlocks blew out a cloud of air around the ship.
“Too bad we didn’t think of loading some junk in them before hand.” Niels commented.
Robert grinned. “Yeah, but this’ll have to do. Terri, load up a 10 kiloton starter charge into the launcher. Next time they score a direct hit, fire it. Arkady, when it goes boom, put us into a spin. Hopefully they’ll think they’ve hit our engines and disabled us.”
“Got it.” Arkady acknowledged.
Terri hit some buttons on her console. “Charge loaded. Arkady, when I say ‘stop’ stop thrusting. I don’t want us to drift out of the driveplate’s shadow before the charge goes off.”
Arkady nodded.
The Bathed in Blood scored a few more near misses and but then the heat on the plate spiked again. A direct hit.
“Stop!” Terri shouted, then hit the button to manually fire the drive once. A few moments later there was a brilliant flash visible to the Bathed in Blood and the Antelope felt the surge of acceleration as the shock absorbers pushed their ship with the momentum of the nuclear explosion in front of them. Arkady immediately used the azipods to give their ship a good bit of spin, making it turn end over end.
This was the moment when Robert bet them all-in. If the pirate cruiser would fire their laser even one more time, they could hull them straight through. For a merchantman had no armour plating cladding it everywhere like a warship did.
The bridge was deathly silent as everyone were holding their breaths. Seconds passed. Then seconds more passed. The recharge time of the pirate’s spinal laser came and went and there was no Earth shattering kaboom. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and the seconds turned into minutes. The pirates wanted a prize and they thought they had it.
Even as the battle lulled here, in the distance, the battle between Duhrel and the pirates raged on.
Captain Thraxos had managed to break the Dread Rising in the laser exchange. The pirate cruiser was a wreck, hulled straight through in multiple places with a large hole where her main powerplant used to be. But Duhrel had suffered greatly as well. On one side her hull had been scoured clean of her point defences. A number of missile launchers were disabled or destroyed and several compartments were open to space as well. She was streaming air as she turned towards the remaining pirate. All the while they continued exchanging as much missile fire as they could.
But the crew of the Antelope had no time to spectate for long. With them ‘disabled’ and dead in space the raider Bathed in Blood had been able to close the remaining distance much faster and they were getting ready to pull up alongside them.
Captain Nele stood at the sensocomm station and watched the plot with officer Becker. He and Niels kept glancing at each other nervously as the distance closed. Getting the final part of their plan correct was critical, for they would only get one chance. Once their element of surprise was lost, they would be sitting ducks to the missiles of the pirate raider.
“Terri, load up the launcher with four of the biggest charges we have. Arkady, once Bathed in Blood is within 10 kilometers, stabilize us and aim the driveplate at him. Terri, once we’re stabilized go to rapid fire on the launcher with as many of the 500 kiloton charges as you can.”
Robert breathed deep to calm himself. “Detonate the charges when you think is optimal, or if it seems they’ve spotted our ruse. Let’s hope this works.”
Terri nodded and worked frantically on her console to execute the instructions. She would have to program the bombs to rotate to face Bathed in Blood instead of their own driveplate. She’d replaced the normal inertial stabilizing software with her own and uploaded it to the bombs, but she still had to compute the difference based on her best guess where the Bathed in Blood would be in relation to them when the bombs would be triggered. The bombs couldn’t do it themselves, since they had no external sensors, only gyros so they knew their own orientation and nothing else.
“20 kilometers.” Niels announced.
Time seemed to crawl as every person ran on adrenaline.
“15 kilometers.”
Arkady held the stick, ready to execute. He had already turned the azipods ready to cancel their rotation, but then he would have to turn to face the pirate cruiser.
“12 kilometers. 11 kilometers. 10 kilometers.”
Arkady waited for a moment more before he pulled on the stick to make sure they would stop as close to the target attitude as possible. The ship heaved as the azipods worked to halt its turn. With the spin nulled, Arkady then rolled the ship so the azipods wouldn’t have to slew to a new direction before he could point the ship towards the pirate. He wanted to shave every second he could.
“On target!” Arkady announced.
Terri hit the button to execute the program. “Launching.”
The whole operation had took only seconds and the pirates were caught completely off guard. The pirate ship took no action as the four little elongated spheres flew toward it from the little hole in the middle of the Antelope’s massive driveplate. A few seconds later another group of spheres flew out and another.
The pirate ship finally stopped their approach with their manoeuvring thrusters and started to turn their spinal laser to point at the not-as-disabled-as-they-thought merchantman to finish them off.
Terri waited until the last moment possible before the first group of nukes would drift past the pirate and put the ship out of the cone of their shaped charges. Then she pressed the fire button. “Firing!”
A dozen 500 kt nukes exploded in unison at point blank range to the pirate cruiser. Six megatons total of nuclear fury. But these weren’t just nukes, they were shaped charges with most of the blast directed forward through a heavy layer of tungsten that was turned into vapour and shot as plasma towards the hapless pirate whose hull did not have the heavy reinforcement the Antilope’s own driveplate did.
At point blank range this barrage could have hulled a battleship.
Then a few seconds later another 2 megaton barrage exploded. Then another.
Bathed in Blood finally finished turning to bring their spinal laser on the merchantman, but it did not stop. It continued to turn, its laser remaining dark. A cloud of air and debris surrounded the hulk of the pirate ship.
Then the fourth barrage of bombs hit their main powerplant and Bathed in Blood split in two as the reactor amidships exploded.
Sound of debris rang all around the Antelope as the explosion pushed against its driveplate, pushing the ship harmlessly away from the destroyed hulk of the pirate cruiser.
“Holy. Fucking. Shit.” Niels mouthed as he looked at his sensor screen.
Captain Robert Nele walked over to his chair and collapsed into it as the tension of the adrenaline in his system disappeared. Everyone on the bridge deflated as if they had been balloons from which the air had been let out.
“Reload the drive with propulsive charges, get us the fuck out of here.” Robert breathed heavy with relief.
Terri fired the last modified charges to clear the launcher. Her hand shook as she hovered over the fire button. She couldn’t bring herself to press it, not any more. The pirate ship was already more than destroyed. She let the nukes drift away past the wreck as she adjusted the loading priority for the launcher and reset it to standard automatic operation.
In few seconds the first 10 kt charge aimed at their own plate fired and pushed them away. Terri let the computer take over and soon the Antelope picked up speed at great rate, galloping away from the broken and hulled wreck of the pirate ship like her namesake. Empty of cargo even the lightest charges accelerated her like she was an olympic sprinter. The direction didn’t matter, as long as it was away.
They’d already forgotten the battle that had been going on elsewhere.
Ten minutes later the numb silence in the control room was broken by a radio call.
GFN Duhrel to IMS Antelope. Captain Nele, what is your status?”
As IMS Antelope joined back with the convoy, GFN Duhrel pulled up to alongside her. Or what was left of GFN Duhrel. The battle with the pirates had taken a tremendous toll on the light cruiser. There was nary a square meter on her hull that wasn’t scarred by battle damage. There was a large gash along one side and even a hole clear through her. The other side was scoured clean of her hull mounted weapons and sensors and several compartments were open to space. Over third of her crew were dead. It was a small miracle she was still flying at all.
But the pirate fleet had paid even more dearly. All three cruisers floated dead in space as wasted, hulled wrecks. Bathed in Blood lay in twain with her spine broken. Dread Rising was missing an entire quarter of the ship where the powerplant had used to be. And Red Mayhem lay shattered in pieces after multiple missile hits when Duhrel had finally managed to overwhelm her point defences.
There were very few survivors from the pirate fleet, and even fewer who had wanted to be a survivor. Only fifteen lifepods had been launched from the hulks, out of their total crew of a hundred and twenty. The rest had perished in the battle, or chosen to perish in the hulks. The survivors’ pods would be picked up in due time to face justice for their actions.
Captain Thraxos watched the Human ship on his screen and saluted. The Antelope may have been old and tarnished, she may have looked odd and ugly, but right now captain Thraxos was proud to have her and her crew in his fleet. She was no longer part of the convoy, she was one of its protectors. And it was thanks to her that they had triumphed today against insurmountable odds.
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Inheritors of Eschaton, Part 36 - What Little Remains

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“The few surviving records that reference the vinesavaim assert that they are comparable in their gifts across regions, if not nearly identical. It is interesting, then, that they should be perceived so differently. We Sjocelym know Maja as our protector and keeper, and rightly give our thanks for His sheltering grace. The Aesvain treat Tija with a more familiar love, like an honored elder and teacher. The Gadhun Draatim associate Dija with the ocean more than the land, holding equal measures of respect and dread for Him. As for the Setelym, what little we know from their forbidden vale hews uncomfortably close to Lysvarun heresy, which I will not speak of here.”
“Now, at this point is when some precocious student with more books than sense will usually interrupt me and point out that there should be more than four vinesavaim - but as we are limited in time please congratulate yourself on your brilliance after the lecture. The heptinity of the vinesavaim is well-attested in literature, but all that remains of the three who were lost is dry sand and death. If ever you meet someone who questions Maja’s grace, point them to the desert so they may see what rewards wait for heretics and apostates.”
Vumo Ra, address on comparative theology, The Archive.
The heavy bar came loose from the door in a cloud of dust, the wood light and brittle with age. Mark laid it carefully aside and stepped back to stand with Jesse. Both men leveled their rifles at the doorway.
“Open it and stand clear,” Mark said.
Jyte nodded, then made a sharp gesture. The halberdiers pulled the doors open and scattered to the sides, shielding their eyes from the bright sunlight that streamed through the opening.
Only silence greeted them.
Mark stepped forward cautiously, holding up a hand to shade his eyes and squinting into the daylight. Unlike the Sjocelym Sanctum, this facility opened up into a broad, gently-sloped area with a dry creekbed and a scattering of sickly-looking trees. The village of Aesvain gold-cloaks had sprung up at a respectful distance from the entrance, forming a ring of small huts and gathering areas.
Few were left standing. Most of the buildings were gutted shells, their timber and stone frames blasted across the dry grass or reduced to smoldering ash. The overgrown flagstone of the Sanctum’s surrounds was discolored with scorchmarks and dried blood.
Jyte walked up to stand beside Mark, his face hard. He took in the ruined village for a long moment before looking down in the grass at his feet. He crouched to pick up a short blade, its fullers choked with a crust of black blood.
“At least they died fighting,” he muttered, turning the blade over. “They’d have been elders and youth, most of them. The old resting after a long career, passing down their skill to those who’ve never seen battle.” He looked up, then carefully slid the blade through his belt. “No more. Jaa tseve, they’ve even taken the bodies.”
Mark looked around. The glint of metal revealed where the odd weapon or scrap of armor had dropped, but none of the battle’s dead remained. He could even spot depressions in the grass where the weight of a now-absent body had left it matted down, fixed in place by drying blood.
“Seems like they’ve totally cleared the place out,” he muttered. “What do you think, half on perimeter and half in the village?”
Jyte nodded. “Sensible,” he said, turning to motion to Ajehet. The scout jerked his head in acknowledgement and peeled away from the group silently with four of his men in tow. The remainder accompanied Jyte, Mark and Jesse as they approached the ruined buildings. The largest structure still recognizable was some form of barracks, with one wall fallen away to reveal neat rows of beds and chests.
The corner of the building had been torn away forcefully. Splintered timber hung down over the foundation stones, which had an oddly fluid shape to them. Jesse crouched to inspect them, then turned to the others with a grim look.
“Lightning,” he said, tracing a circle around a blackened, fused patch on the rock. “Probably just like what we saw in Sjatel. Took out their warding stones, then their shelters.”
“There’s only one structure around that could even hope to stand up to that, and the doors were sealed,” Mark said, bending down to take a look. “Yeah, I can’t see what else that would be. Must have blasted straight down through the frame, the wood just disintegrated.”
The neighboring structures showed similar damage where there was anything left to bear a sign of the blasts. There was little remaining that had not burned down or mysteriously vanished, and the Aesvain grew noticeably subdued as they reached the farthest extent of the village. The land sloped upward somewhat, and Mark turned to get a better view on the Sanctum surrounds.
The building was vastly different than its sister installation in the mountains, lacking any of the large blackstone ramparts and yawning openings. Instead, it nestled into a low spot between hills, its edges subsumed under years of eroded soil from the slopes around it. The main building was blocky and utilitarian like much of the construction they had seen, and was surrounded by a broad, flat plaza of black stone steadily encroached upon by washed-in hummocks of dirt and brown grasses. The overall effect was that of a dark mass sinking into the land, scored here and there with the remnants of massive lightning strikes.
Now that they were slightly higher and farther off, the view past the building showed a gradual descent in the terrain over several miles that terminated in a thin slice of seafront barely visible through the haze.
Mark squinted. There was a large dark smudge visible against the seashore, too distant to make much out. “Is that the city?” he asked. “Mosatel?”
Jyte looked and nodded, his grim expression hardening even further. “What’s left of it,” he said. “Though it looks much the same from here as it ever did.” He took a few steps upslope and shaded his eyes, looking out over the vista. “I wouldn’t hope to find a single survivor, if the attack on Sjatel serves as a guide. From what we’ve heard most of those who escaped the city proper did so from the docks. Those who made their way overland are mostly from parts outside, smaller villages and farms along the coast. Anyone too slow to find a boat didn’t leave.”
“Sounds like they pushed in all at once to take here and Mosatel,” Mark mused. “Took their time moving on from there. I wonder if that means they can only do the storm trick every so often or if there was something they were busy doing?”
Jyte snorted. “Doesn’t matter how often they can make the storm,” he said. “The abominations haven’t yielded taken land yet. One storm each day or several, any delay is just that - a delay. The end doesn’t change.”
“Cheerful,” Mark replied. “But you’re not wrong.” He clapped Jyte on the shoulder and turned to walk back to the village. “Come on, we’re not going to be able to send a party further out until morning. Let’s meet back up with Ajehet and see if they found anything.”
The Aesvain captain nodded but did not immediately follow, lingering to take in the image of the vast, empty city by the shore.
“They’re not a happy crowd,” Jackie noted, sweeping the tablet over the nearest wall. “But anyone would get a bit down looking at the ruins of your home. I poked my head out earlier, the entire place just has this sort of eerie quiet to it. The air is dusty, the plants are dying. Ajehet said these hills are normally green, covered in grasses and flowers.”
“Hard to believe,” Gusje said. “The air out there tastes like the desert, but even the desert had a sense of life to it. This place… everything is melting away but the bare rock. The soil will crumble to dust and blow away, with sand to take its place.”
Jackie gave her a close look, frowning. “You seem like you’re not doing so well either,” she noted. “More than I’d expect from just the general hopelessness of our situation. Something on your mind?”
Gusje shook her head. “It’s nothing,” she said, walking several paces away. Jackie stayed quiet for a few moments, waiting.
“Caretakers,” Gusje said, turning back to face her. “Maja and all of the old documents call us Caretakers. We had some task, some responsibility that was given to us before all memory.”
Jackie nodded. “Looks that way,” she agreed.
“So what was it?” Gusje asked, her voice breaking with sudden emotion. “What were we supposed to do? None of my people know this. If one did then the other Madim would know, and if my father had known he would have told me.”
She crossed her arms over her chest. “But we’ve forgotten,” she said. “Whatever the task was, we’ve failed. The Aesvain talked to me the other day, shared what they knew of the man who lived here. They told me that he had helped them, and that they were grateful to my people.”
“But what if it was our fault to begin with?” she asked. “What if things fell apart because we forgot?” She met Jackie’s eyes with a torn expression. “What if they have more reasons to curse my people than praise them?”
“Hoo boy,” Jackie said, rubbing a hand over her eyes. “I mean, it sure does seem like some stuff got lost along the way,” she admitted. “But that can’t all be on you guys. Society fell apart, everyone died! It’s hard enough to do this shit when you’ve got a functioning civilization and don’t have to worry about when your food and water are coming from. And even if one of your distant ancestors did fuck it up, that really doesn’t have much bearing on you.”
Gusje shot her an annoyed look. “It matters,” she insisted.
“Of course it matters,” Jackie said, waving her hand dismissively. “You should know this stuff, it’s important! But you’re looking at this all wrong - whatever your ancestors did or didn’t do, that’s always been there. You’re just the first person who’s doing something about it. That’s something to be proud of, even if what you learn isn’t.”
“If you say so,” Gusje responded, flushing. “All I’m doing is looking for answers.”
Jackie smiled and reached over to tousle Gusje’s hair. “Having the will to look for uncomfortable answers is not a small thing,” she pointed out. “Many people just exist, hiding from change. Just because you had change forced on you doesn’t make how you deal with it any less important.”
Gusje scowled and stalked forward down the hall, filling the silence with footsteps. She stopped when she reached the junction, turning to speak once more - then stopped, stiffening.
“Jackie,” she said urgently. “Come here.”
“What’s up?” Jackie asked, grabbing her radio. “Trouble?”
Gusje shook her head. “It’s the room with the door,” she said. “The one that recognized my hand. Only…” She trailed off, looking pale.
Jackie hurried to look around the corner. “Oh, fuck me,” she muttered.
The hallway was a near-exact copy of the door before the elevator room at the Sjocelym sanctum, complete with handprint-pedestal and inscribed arch. Where there had been a door, however, there was instead a melted shaft bored through the stone from above. Dusty daylight filtered in from the top of the ruined doorframe, lighting the stone beneath with a wan glow.
Hesitantly, the two approached the door to look at the hole burned into the stone. No voice prompted them to verify themselves. The stone around the doorframe was twisted and warped, shiny where it had melted and flowed like water to puddle on the floor. The shaft had bored through several meters of twisted rock, leaving jagged edges limned with stalactites..
“It looks like they just hammered down from above with lightning,” Jackie said wonderingly, twisting her neck to look at the thin spot of sky visible at the far end. “Over and over again until they wrecked the door.” She looked nervously down the hallway on the far side of the threshold. “They wanted to let someone in.”
“The control room should be past here, then,” Gusje said. “Come on.”
Jackie shook her head. “We should report in first,” she said. “Modran isn’t far away, we can get him. If they busted the door then we can count on unfriendlies making it inside.”
“Tell them, then,” Gusje said, reaching into her bag and taking out her gauntlet. “I’m going to go ahead and see. If there are any answers to be had here, there’s a good chance they’re in that room.”
“Gusje, just-” Jackie frowned and hurried to keep up with her, talking in hushed tones over the radio as they moved down the dark hall. There was no elevator down this time - the hall turned once, twice, then opened into a modest space with a familiar raised dais at the center. The high ceiling came together in a great dome, although the arched interior was ruined by a jagged hole crusted with yet more stalactites of previously-melted stone. The blast that had broken through the dome had sprayed small chunks of rock everywhere through the control room, and their steps crunched lightly as they approached the dais.
The control panel was inert, dim. Half of the circular structure was in ruins, collapsed to one side of the dais in a chaos of thin stone fragments and glass shards. Several other spots throughout the room had received similar treatment, although none so thoroughly as the slagged area by the dais.
The room was quiet and still but for the low sighing of wind across the hole in the roof. Jackie turned to take in the rest of the interior, freezing when she noticed an irregular shape near the side wall. She tapped Gusje on the shoulder to draw her attention, and the Cereinem girl snapped her hand up with the gauntlet pointed directly at the indistinct object.
“Doesn’t look like a body,” Jackie muttered, feeling her heart pounding. “Ideas?”
Gusje shook her head, relaxing her arm a bit. “Doesn’t look like it’s going to move,” she said. “Let’s get a little closer.”
The two women inched forward slowly. They had closed the distance to half before Jackie straightened up with an expression on her face that was equal parts amused and annoyed. “It’s a chair,” she said, walking over to it and nudging it with her foot.
A simple wooden-framed chair lay on its side, the low back covered by the remains of a blanket that mostly dissolved into dust when Jackie touched it. Scattered around it were small bits of wood and stone, as well as a splintered frame that might have belonged to a table before a rock from the ceiling bounced through it.
Jackie ran her fingers over the dry wood of the chair. “Doesn’t seem original to the building,” she said. “Want to bet this was our Caretaker’s doing?”
The wood was crudely shaped, but seemed sturdy enough for its rough make. There were knife-marks over the exterior where it had been carved, and the brittle cord wound around the joints was laid with obvious care. The wreckage of the table displayed a similar style.
“I think it might be,” Gusje agreed, bending down to look at the scattered bits of wood and stone on the floor. Carvings, she realized. An inexpertly rendered tari, a man, a woman, a boat. There were dozens of them scattered over the floor. She reached down to pick one up, brushing the dust away from the carved face of a sajhavasja, its tusks worn and cracked.
She was no woodcarver, although she had some minor knowledge of it from watching others in Ademen Tacen work with a knife. She could plainly see the days of fine work that went into the detailed sculpture. She swept an appraising glance back over the innumerable small figurines, adding up how much time they all represented.
“We found where he slept, before,” Gusje said. “I think this is where he spent most of his day. Here with Tija, finding ways to pass the time.” She shook her head. “Even he didn’t find anything more constructive to do than just… existing. Hiding, as you said. He would have known what our task was, he’d have heard it first-hand. Does that mean he knew it was pointless, or-”
She paused, feeling a wave of dizziness pass over her. “I - Jackie,” she mumbled, the words feeling heavy in her mouth. There was a pain against her wrist, sharp and burning. The asolan she had found on the Caretaker’s body felt red-hot against her skin, but she was having trouble moving her arms. “Wrong,” she slurred. “Something’s-”
She collapsed, her vision fading as Jackie rushed over towards her.
There was blackness, a void. Gusje felt as if she was standing, but there was no body to stand with, no eyes to see with. She simply was, and she was - not alone, she realized. Something nebulous and formless swam in the darkness around her, and it brimmed with a question.
Gusje recoiled from the inquisitive dark, frightened and puzzled. It kept repeating the word over and over, overlaying echoes of itself. She could not clap her hands over her ears, for she had neither. There was only the sound, growing deafeningly loud until she wanted to scream with the pain.
There was a pause. The darkness withdrew.
It asked again, quieter, and did not repeat the question. The not-word trailed off in the void. Gusje could not speak to respond even if she understood the question. She struggled against her nonexistence, mentally screaming out her frustration and terror.
The darkness withdrew further, and she felt an odd sensation shivering through her.
“Gh-,” she said, surprised to hear a sound. “Aaah.” She still had no mouth, but there was speech - after a fashion. “Where am I?” she asked, her voice sounding thick and dull. “Who are you?”
The darkness swirled, and a profound wave of sorrow washed over her. There was a long, long pause.
Not Samo?
Compared to before the question was whisper-quiet, but suddenly Gusje understood. A name, and only one person it could belong to. Only one person who would be asking. “No,” she said. “I’m not Samo.”
There was another interminable, questioning silence.
Where is he?
Gusje’s heart sank. She hesitated, and the darkness whipped around her in increasing agitation. “He’s gone,” she said. There was a sudden stillness around her, and a climbing tension that sparked a thrill of danger in the back of her mind. “He’s been gone a long time. He died, Tija.” She could not look at the darkness, but she focused on it as much as she could. “You both died.”
The darkness roiled and shivered, a wordless scream shuddering from the void surrounding her. It built upon itself until Gusje was once again wracked with pain, trying to stand against the maelstrom of rage and grief that whirled around her.
“Tija!” she screamed, her voice lost in the storm. “Tija, stop! Please!” The winds buffeted her mercilessly, tearing at her until she could stand no more and simply screamed, screamed, screamed-
And then there was silence. Gusje’s consciousness wavered, her mind in a fog from the relentless assault she had just endured.
It took her a long time to summon the strength to reply. “Yes,” she hissed. “You hurt me.”
There was another discontinuity in the dark, a pulse of distress that made her fear the storm would start once more - but then it was gone, and the stillness returned.
Hard to think. Hard to stop thinking. Mind is missing pieces.
A pulse of terror cut through her, sharp and cold like a sword passing through her gut. Her thoughts fogged up once more. Panic nibbled at the edges of her vision.
Missing pieces. My self. I am less. No, no, no no no no no no no
The horrified realization shaded into incoherence, blind panic whipping up the storm once more. Gusje cried out as it raked over her again. The winds recoiled from her, retracting back into the darkness.
When the voice spoke again, it was deliberate and slow.
“I’m sorry,” Tija said. The voice was much more distinct, and came with the sense of great effort behind every word. “It’s so hard to think. So hard to keep my self in order. There were walls between me and the whispers before, I think. Bindings that held me back. Or down? I don’t remember things very well from before I was - was mutilated.” Her voice fuzzed into echoes, a pulse of distress punching through the calm before it was clamped down.
Gusje didn’t trust herself to speak, trying muzzily to focus on the new clarity of Tija’s voice. “What - why are we here?” she asked. “What’s happening to me?”
“My mistake,” Tija said. “I was disordered. I had holes in my mind. You felt familiar. Reminded me of my Samo.” Her voice shuddered and caught. “He used to talk to me. Make me little things. I felt his asolan, and you were holding a carving, and I thought...”
The dark around Gusje shuddered, and the voice trailed off. Gusje tried to collect herself somewhat in the lull, still aching from the pain of Tija’s mindless anguish moments before.
“Samo and I were of the same people,” Gusje said. “He was a Caretaker, and although we’ve long ago forgotten it - I think I am as well.” She hesitated. “Even if I don’t know what that means. I’d like to try and help you, though.”
There was a sense of scrutiny. “You look-” Tija began, halting her speech with a strangled noise of anguish. The void grew sharp and violent around her.
I can’t remember his face. His face. They took it from me. They took my Samo’s face.
Gusje could do nothing to shelter herself from the winds as they stirred themselves once more, lashing with pain, fear - but now also a hot thread of anger, tinting the void with unbridled rage. The winds stilled quickly this time, seeming to crystallize around her. Everything was hard-edged, sharp, vibrating with tension.
She took his face.
The change in phrase jolted Gusje, and she spoke through the pain jabbing through every mote of her being. “Who?” she grated out.
The one who fell. My sister. Eryha. She took his face.
Gusje reeled, unable to process the implications through the haze of agony around her. “We’re fighting the same enemy,” she hissed. “The ones that did this to you, they also threaten my people. Samo’s people.”
Tija’s interest sharpened on her. The voice returned, measured and cold.
“I cannot reach her, as I am,” Tija said. “I am lesser than I was.” Her voice crackled with barely-restrained fury, and Gusje felt the white-hot glare of her focus once more. “But even for my diminished state you are not an adequate medium.”
“What does that mean?” Gusje cried out, writhing. “Please, you’re hurting me again. I want to help you, but I can’t-” Her voice fuzzed into indistinctness as another pulse of pain shot through her.
“You cannot hold what is necessary and live,” Tija spat. “You may survive long enough to locate an acceptable vessel, however.”
“Wait!” Gusje shouted, feeling a stab of terror that was entirely her own. “Slow down, explain what you need! I’m sure we can find something that will work!”
“What could you do?” Tija asked scornfully. “Even Samo could not free me from this place. If this was easy, he would have done it.” Her tone softened. “He would have.”
“But you, lesser echo. You cannot hold what is required of you, nor could you build an appropriate vessel. Even fallen, my sister will require a great power to subdue. I could etch every bone, cut into your skin, twist your form to hold so much script that your flesh would slough off before you had taken a step. It would be inadequate, you cannot hold enough.”
Gusje tried to shrink away from Tija’s cold, deliberate words but found herself pinned in place, bare to the vinesavai’s flensing attention. “Don’t do this,” she gasped. “You’ll kill me.”
“Not just you,” Tija said. “Let’s begin.”
Panic muddled her thoughts as she racked her brain for something, anything to say. A sudden, searing fire burned at the core of her, and she screamed in agony.
“The tablet!” she cried. “Look at the tablet!”
Tija paused, and the fire subsided.
“Please,” Gusje sobbed, rambling. “If all you need is to store script, there’s a device we have with us. I don’t know how it works, but I know it can hold a lot, a lot-”
Her voice was forcefully stilled as Tija’s attention shifted elsewhere. “Interesting,” she said. “Complex. Intricate. But not useful. Perhaps I knew how it worked before my sister crippled me, but as I am now I cannot use it.”
“We can figure it out,” Gusje insisted, trying to keep her talking. “Give us a little time. We’ve solved a lot of problems before, there are others who know how it works better than I do. We can ask them. We don’t have to be enemies!”
“Others,” Tija said, surprised. “Yes, I almost didn’t see her there with you. My senses are very limited, and she glows so dimly - but you say she knows how this tablet works? She’s touching you, so this should be simple enough.”
There was a pause, and Gusje felt a dawning horror. “Wait, I didn’t mean-”
“I will talk with her instead,” Tija said. “Goodbye, lesser echo. You are not my Samo, but you have been more helpful than I expected.”
Tija left her, and then there was nothing - not even the void.
Mark - Page 14
Whoops, Gusje should have stopped to hear Jackie out - after all, Jackie would have known that the final room of creepy abandoned temples always has traps waiting for the unwary explorer. Tune in next week for this arc’s antagonist, Giant Boulder.
submitted by TMarkos to HFY [link] [comments]

D100 Incidents a charlatan PC is making amends for

100 things a charlatan PC would be trying to make amends for. This is an idea brought up by a player at my table who wants a sort of "My Name is Earl" redemption story where she finds the person she wronged and tries to make up for it.

d100 Incidents a charlatan PC is making amends for

  1. Leaving an acquaintance to blame for selling fake drugs to a noble [Sleepy_Bandit]
  2. Tampering with a competitor's equipment to cause them to lose a competition so you can win a bet [Sleepy_Bandit]
  3. Stealing candy from a child who has now grown up to become a rage-filled barbarian [Sleepy_Bandit]
  4. Selling fake love potions to a desperate noble who ended up being embarrassed in public [Sleepy_Bandit]
  5. Using a friend's identity for an illegal deal and getting them arrested / questioned by the authorities [Sleepy_Bandit]
  6. Seducing away a minor noble’s daughter while posing as a noble, leaving them both destitute. [Marksman157 ]
  7. bank fraud, resulting in the economic collapse of a village; a few deaths by despair, starvation or incidental robbery involved [LordsOfJoop ]
  8. planting fake evidence of involvement with a string of robberies, resulting in a local noble being exiled for life [LordsOfJoop ]
  9. popularizing a song that portrays a church in a strongly negative light, resulting in a purge from the region [LordsOfJoop ]
  10. selling a crate of shoddy weapons and armor to a local militia, resulting in a humiliating defeat [LordsOfJoop ]
  11. Playing both sides of a minor dispute between nobles that resulted in closed borders between the 2 regions (cold war situation). [always_gamer_hair]
  12. Farting at a very inopportune moment in front of a noble's child. [always_gamer_hair]
  13. Keeping a memento from a battle that should have gone back to the soldier's significant other or child. [always_gamer_hair]
  14. Climbing up a wall with clearly posted "no climbing" signs, causing part of the wall to collapse [always_gamer_hair]
  15. Accidentally melting the ice sculptures at a local ice festival. [always_gamer_hair]
  16. Reselling stolen goods to the wrong merchant. [always_gamer_hair]
  17. Informing the local captain of the guard that their wife is having an affair when, in fact, she is most certainly not. [always_gamer_hair]
  18. Joined a convent for 9 months to hide from debt collectors, then burned the place down in a botched attempt at faking their death. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  19. Let a refugee family use their name to get into a safe city, having forgotten that they are a wanted criminal there. The family was detained, brutally interrogated as potential accomplices, and then thrown out. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  20. Used a set of vestments stolen from a cleric's wardrobe following a one night stand to sell fake indulgences and de-cursings. Many people were injured, and the cleric has been banished from their temple. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  21. Made up a really impressive sounding fake name off the cuff while being arrested which turned out to be a real, very important person. Interpreting the announcement of their arrest as some sort of provocation, a series of insults and slights escalated into an actual border war... in which the character was an active profiteer. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  22. Deflowered one of the participants in a critical political marriage the night before the ceremony, derailing a critical peace settlement and destabilizing the entire region for years [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  23. Participated in a rebellion against an evil overlord, and named names when captured by the guards. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  24. Hocked a critical spare part from an irrigation system for beer money, causing a massive crop failure when that part was needed and couldn't be found in time. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  25. Engaged in some petty abuse of the local populace while wearing a guard uniform (stolen as part of another petty crime), which provoked a clash between the local peasants and the local law, resulting in many injuries and some deaths. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  26. Took a large sum of money to act as a surveyor and just copied a previous surveyor's work, resulting in multiple recently founded villages being destroyed when a dam was built down-river from them. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  27. Accidentally started a race war by spouting off about how much better elves are than dwarves...in a dwarf bar [WSHIII]
  28. Accidentally started a three way religious war by claiming Torm was better than Ilmater...in Tyrian temple. [WSHIII]
  29. Accidentally started the Blood War by pissing through a portal into Graz’zt’s throne room...while dressed as a devil for Halloween [WSHIII]
  30. Betting (and losing) a party member on a gamble after already having lost all their money. The winner has ties to the slave trade and is not happy. [Zekaito]
  31. Sold a man a bridge who was subsequently eaten by a very persistent troll. [Wolfenight]
  32. The significant other of a person killed in a fireball mistake turned out to be a renowned and feared bounty hunter. [supersteve320]
  33. Tricking a family member or friend into buying pointless insurance. [Umkynareth]
  34. Tricking a family or friend into investing in a company that never existed. [Umkynareth]
  35. Convincing a friend not to marry by using a loaded die / coin. [Umkynareth]
  36. Upcharging significantly for beewine/mead at a close friend’s wedding. [Umkynareth]
  37. Taking and completing a contract to kill or bankrupt a close relation’s parent, friend or lover. [Umkynareth]
  38. Betting and losing a deed that wasn’t theirs to bet. [Umkynareth]
  39. Stealing a horse. [Umkynareth]
  40. Rewriting their parents’/grandparents’ will to their benefit. [Umkynareth]
  41. Laundering money for a gang / beholder / trading company that then ruined the charlatan’s ancestral lands or city. [Umkynareth]
  42. Convincing a former ally to make a pact with a shady entity at great personal cost in the name of wealth. [Umkynareth]
  43. Extorting, blackmailing or embezzling from an orphanage. [Umkynareth]
  44. Running an orphanage as a front. [Umkynareth]
  45. Skimming/stealing tithes. [Umkynareth]
  46. Hanging on to a memento from a cursed forest / temple, which must be returned lest extremely bad luck continue to befall them. [Umkynareth]
  47. Selling a cursed memento to an acquaintance that granted them exceptionally bad luck. [Umkynareth]
  48. Working with a troll/ogre to collect bridge tolls at great cost to life and limb for others. [Umkynareth]
  49. Contributing to the extinction of a local beast / bird after selling snake oil made from its bits. [Umkynareth]
  50. Conning a respected warrior into buying a weapon the charlatan enchanted to return to his/her position when the command word was spoken. [Umkynareth]
  51. Secretly working with a nothic to learn too much at great cost. [Umkynareth]
  52. Destroying a family’s crops and livelihood with shoddy agricultural remedies to cause their business and lands’ value to decline. [Umkynareth]
  53. Eating that last slice of pie... it was not a good idea... [dermitdog]
  54. Instigating a gang war between two shady (yet wealthy) casinos by cheating and pretending to be from the other casino. [dermitdog]
  55. Sinking the prize ship of a navy while pretending to be a nautical carpenter [dermitdog]
  56. Crashing the lord's masquerade by spilling all of the swindled gold lining your clothes while on the stage, then escaping and therefore discrediting the lord for allowing a vagabond to steal so much money and get away with it leaving the (generous and generally beloved) noble house destitute. [dermitdog]
  57. Selling 'magical' 'snake' oil that, caused a child to die of blood poisoning instead of their terminal (yet curable) illness. [dermitdog]
  58. Reading from the wrong scripture while posing as a preacher, causing a devout acolyte to be executed for heresy after reciting your teachings. [dermitdog]
  59. Lying about your identity to someone while becoming their lover for a scheme. The love was eventually genuine from your side, but the scheme wasn't exactly for the other's benefit. The revelation of your lie has left them heartbroken and angry at you. [dermitdog]
  60. Laundering money so well that it got into wider circulation and put multiple people into prison as they tried to use the money in more rigorous markets. [dermitdog]
  61. Telling someone that you could make them fly, leading to their suicide. [dermitdog]
  62. Selling family heirlooms while posing as a moving company worker, scattering the heritage of a dwindling noble family. [dermitdog]
  63. Leaving your home city abruptly, cutting all ties and never looking back on the people you knew. [dermitdog]
  64. Not stopping a clear case of marital abuse because doing so would blow your cover. [dermitdog]
  65. Stealing the bricks from a historic building and selling them at extortionate prices while replacing them with weaker materials, causing the building to collapse during a busy day. [dermitdog]
  66. Misquoting a holy passage, causing a schism in the church. [dermitdog]
  67. Pressured an accomplice to not seek medical aid for a serious injury, fearing it would result in the detection of a criminal plot, only to wreck the plot themselves by running their mouth in a tavern while drunk. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  68. Not wanting to be outdone telling tawdry tales at the inn, the character made up an atrociously lurid fib about their activities with a young princess they had never actually met. A bard heard it, made it into song, and completely ruined her marriage prospects. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  69. Sold a map of the city catacombs to what they thought were drug smugglers for 50 gold and a cask of nice wine. The "drug smugglers" were an engineering crew from a rival city, and in a siege 6 months later used the plans to great effect by setting explosives under critical defense structures. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  70. Convinced a young accomplice to take the fall for a crime they committed, on the logic that the character would be able to break them out later. Character instead got arrested for partying too hard in the next town over, and jumped a ship out of the country instead of trying to go back for their fall guy. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  71. Persuaded several friends to bankroll them for a surefire gambling scheme, based on a plan to use advanced math to calculate the "true" odds of any particular play. Lost everything when they got too drunk to properly carry the "1". [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  72. While rummaging through a church for things to steal, they found an old bottle of wine, drank it, and put the empty bottle back in it's nook. The bottle was one of the earthly possessions of a man who ascended to a higher plane, and it's consumption was seen as a sign of his return. Several pretenders appeared, triggering a violent schism in the religion. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  73. When travelling, they met the last survivor of a pilgrimage, clutching a golden chest in his hands. They were attempting to return a holy relic to a temple, in accordance with an oath sworn by the founder of their order over 150 years ago. With their last breath, they begged the character to deliver the relic in the chest to their destination. The character, headed the other direction, chose to throw the relic in a creek and hock the chest for 10 gold. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  74. In a moment of cocky bravado, the character gloated over the fallen body of a dangerous litch, telling them that they were an idiot for not hiding their phylactery better, rattling off several examples. The lich then used a contingency spell to transport themselves and their phylactery away. The phylactery hasn't been seen since, but the lich has been a plague on the land for years... [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  75. Accidentally fell in with a group of highway robbers and cutthroats, who told the character they were freedom fighters against a corrupt regime. The character found out after a week, but stuck around for a whole month because the "rebel leader" was just too hot. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  76. Attempting to get a lover to leave them so as to not feel the guilt of initiating a breakup, the character went too far, gaslighting their SO to the point of actual madness. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  77. Sold samples of their own blood to a group they knew to be demon summoning cultists as "virgin blood" (lol, no). They successfully summoned the demon, but completely failed at containing or dismissing it. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  78. Got drunk and took a piss in a holy fountain, deconsecrating it. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  79. Fiddled around with an elaborate sundial because they were bored, not knowing that it served an important role in timing the local planting cycle and triggering massive crop failure. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  80. Agreed to act as a fraudulent guardian for a group of orphans who needed parental consent to join the Army. The "military recruiter" was actually an agent for a slave trader. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  81. Hid the body of a dead man in a well, contaminating the only ready source of clean water within 5 miles of a small town. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  82. Received a key to the city for services rendered, and then got drunk and lost it. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  83. Sold a large pile of colored flour to a church, telling them it was rare medicinal powder. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  84. Stole a statue from a town square and sold it for cheap to an art collector. The statue was actually the petrified body of a legendary hero, prophecied to return to life in the time of greatest need, and the "art collector" her ancient nemesis. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  85. Yelled "do a flip" at a despondent man standing on a ledge. They did the flip. It was horrible. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  86. Spent years convincing an old, half-blind noblewoman that they were their adult grandchild. When the real grandchild came to visit, the guards shot them as an impostor. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  87. Knowingly gave a group of pirates a map of the harbor defenses of a city that had banished them for multiple crimes. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  88. Blamed a rash of robberies they had committed on an in-city goblin community, giving their enemies a pretense to persecute and exile them, uprooting families that had been living there for generations and turning "Goblintown" from a thriving community to an urban blight. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  89. Knowingly sold defective spell components to a group of student wizards, causing them to fail their final exams when the spells misfired. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  90. While drunk and in a fighty mood, played "devil's advocate" in an argument with a paladin, turning them Oathbreaker. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  91. After being saved from a shipwreck by a merperson, told a group of pirates where to find them in exchange for a fixed fee per fin they cut off. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  92. Participated in a scheme to breed and train mimics to act as guard animals and security devices. It worked great for about 72 hours, and then people started getting beaten to death by their own nightstands. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  93. Blamed a friendly old healer woman for cursing them, so they wouldn't need to explain certain symptoms of a STI to their significant other. The healer was a druid who was single-handedly responsible for keeping the Fair Folk at bay and placated, and after she was driven away as a witch they moved in on the town. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  94. Sold swords with defective heat treating to a local militia, many of which shattered in their hands when they were attempting to defend their town from bandits. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  95. Having come down ill before the night of a major party, the character paid a spellcaster to glamor them to hide the symptoms so they could go, carouse and steal. The party was in turn the epicenter of a massive disease outbreak, as many attendees were travelers from afar. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  96. Deliberately triggered a trap on the way out of a dungeon to reduce the number of people with whom they would have to share the treasure. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  97. Built a fake dungeon, and then spread about it at inns and taverns, so they could ambush the adventurers who came to "save the townsfolk" and take their stuff. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  98. Bought a group of slaves on the intention of freeing them... and then changed their mind once they found out how good they were at keeping house and cooking meals. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  99. Tuned out during a conversation with a significant other, giving them the "yeah, sure honey, sounds good" treatment when the SO was a young artificer asking for guidance on what ingredients to use, causing a large explosion. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  100. Gave someone's name to the Inquisition because they figured it would be easier to rob their house when they were too busy being stabbed with hot irons in a dungeon to do anything about it. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
submitted by Sleepy_Bandit to d100 [link] [comments]

Thoughts on the game coming from someone with a background and experience in narrative design

Lately, I have been lurking a lot around the subreddits to gather a consensus on the majority’s opinion on the game. TLOU was incredibly important to me from a formative perspective. It has helped my own writing and has played an important role in formulating my own literary style. Just for reference, I have an academic background in English literature and have extensively studied literary theory, narratology, and am currently working within book publishing. So I’m hoping this helps yall by giving you my own perspective on the story. Before I start, however, I want to emphasize that I have no problem with people who enjoyed TLOU2. People have different opinions, that is fact. There never was a guarantee in satisfying the needs of all of the series fans. Though there is no denying that the story could have been improved to appeal to more people while maintaining much of what the writers intended in themes and message.
Now, I’m seeing a lot of criticism towards this game that many are dismissing as being asinine and exaggerated, which I think is unfair, because in exploring many fans opinions about the game I’ve come to realize that their criticism is, more or less, a fair assessment of the story, but, has been largely in part, poorly articulated. Hopefully I can reiterate what it is that many disgruntled fans, including me, are feeling about the story. Also: this is not to say that there isn’t an anti-LGBQT+ resentment – there obviously is – but regardless of that, the point in the majority of the complaints are aimed towards the glaring issues involving the story, more specifically its characters, retconning certain aspects of characters, the lack of character development, and narrative structure.
With regards to narrative structure, I think TLOU2 simply tries to: DO TOO MUCH.
After having completed the game, I’ve noticed that the plot of the game is incredibly dissonant. I honestly found it frighteningly similar to the issues plaguing movies like Snyder’s Batman v. Superman or the third Hobbit.
First, what is that that the writers of the story want me to turn my attention to? Ellie’s and Abby’s plots are completely irrelevant to one another and intertwine much too late into the story. Following the games inciting incident, where Joel is, obviously killed in such a shocking way as to resonate with the audience, the narrative kicks off around the sole purpose of exacting sweet-sweet revenge. Strangely enough, I initially had no problems with Joel’s death. It’s meant to motivate the player. However, as the story progressed it, in retrospect, felt hollow and purposeless… I will get more into this later. More importantly, Joel’s death is the MOTIVATING REASON for players to progress through the plot. And as the plot progresses a lot of bad things occur, bad things that affect Ellie in a negative way, and that’s fine, it reinforces the idea that Ellie’s bloody crusade doesn’t come without its consequences.
So far so good…
Then the player reaches Abby’s portion of the game, which I cannot emphasize enough, is absolutely irrelevant to the last 10 hours that we as players have endured. Off the get go it’s obvious the developers want to share Abby’s perspective as to call into question the player’s perception of Joel and Ellie, and the results of their actions. The thing is, should anyone really care? What reason is there to care? Abby’s actions and reactions, have so far, been almost comically evil. It doesn’t help that the narrative’s structure irrevocably antagonizes her. After all, we saw her, without remorse, torture and kill a beloved character, kill Jesse, hold Tommy hostage, and aim a gun at Ellie. Not to mention she is obviously jealous of the whole Owen and Mel thing. It’s clear that the odds are against the character’s favour. Perhaps if the story began with Abby’s perspective and eventually have her off Joel, then maybe the audience would have then at least have some reason to sympathize with her. This would’ve been a great opportunity to have the player question their past decisions. But instead it’s an attempt to establish a moral dichotomy between good and bad. Which neither makes sense, because, for those who’ve played part I, are already cognizant of the moral complexities of the world. So why try to force an agenda that what Joel did was morally wrong? The whole point of the post-apocalypse, as set up in TLOU1, is the fact that survivors must do what they need to survive, even if that means taking someone else’s life. It is established early in the game that the civil morals that we have all come to learn and understand within society endangers a person’s odds of survivability within the world. It is the reason Joel never stops for the family on the side of the road at the beginning of the first game, it is the reason Joel doesn’t stop for the guy feigning an injury in Pittsburgh. The characters in the game were never meant to be seen as good nor bad. Hell, the Fireflies, in all their “noble” attempts in finding a cure are known to blow up military checkpoints and ruthlessly kill people. Goddamn, this is even referred to in Part II when Dina explains to Ellie when Eugene blew up soldiers and civilians while he was a firefly.
The thing is, we all understood this. We all understood that the world of the Last of Us was morally ambiguous. The Last of Us 1 concluded on the ambiguity of whether or not Joel’s bet of taking Ellie away from the fireflies was worth harming humanities chance of finding a vaccine and potentially recovering. Which regardless of Joel actions, was already questionable considering that the world was already a reckless wasteland occupied by gangsters, religious zealots, and serial killers.
Going back to the narrative structure, but more specifically Abby’s section in the game, perhaps Niel and co. were trying to be experimental by twisting the narrative structure as an attempt to test the players’ will to endure; by having the player play as the perceived “antagonist” after having played as a series favourite for hrs. Unfortunately, this is a video game and not a manuscript. The audience’s investment in the product means something entirely different then if you were to read a novel or watch a movie.
Good use of grammar and vocabulary can get you through a bad novel, good aesthetics and sound can get you through a slow movie, but a bad story in a game solely based around being a story-driven experience is cause for disaster, especially when that game’s gameplay does almost nothing to improve from it’s predecessors.
If ND wanted the players to empathize with Abby maybe they should’ve shown how Joel’s death had affected her, how she may have had reservations or regrets about killing him, calling into question the idea of frontier justice. Instead, ND has us peruse through another 8-10 hrs of the game on an entirely new plot that puts nothing we’ve invested our time into context. Not only did they nearly completely ignore the events in Jackson, the story moves on as if nothing ever happened. This is where I draw the comparison with BvS: Dawn of Justice, a movie that feels as though it is compromised of two movies. This is what part II feels like. Had Abby’s story been a standalone I believe it would have fared better. ND could’ve then allocated resources into fleshing out Abby’s story, providing further depth into the characters involved and the situations taking place. Instead it is marred by the context of its first half. There is little reason given for players to empathize with Abby. This isn’t a matter of being player’s being stubborn about opening up their perspectives, it is clearly a matter of the writers failing to effectively intertwine two narrative threads and give reason to explore numerous perspectives.
To add, ND resorts to cheap and meritless tactics to try and win the audience over: save a zebra, give the dogs names, play fetch with a dog, have a love interest, save a couple of kids. Like c’mon, I was literally rolling my eyes at these parts. The fact that I was able to recognize the intention as soon I saw it made me feel as if the writers thought I was cheap and stupid.
Abby’s section felt like I was experiencing the sequel to the Last of Us Part II while Part II was still trying to finish. The only reason I continued to trudge through Abby’s half of the game was in anticipation that she would’ve had reservations about killing Joel, but none of that came to fruition, and instead I felt insulted for having invested all that time into her only to find out that it meant little all along.
Even more perplexing is that the narrative suddenly returns to the revenge plot after I thought it was one and done. Like what the fuck, another two-three hours of killing more people all for it to amount to nothing? What was the point of Santa Barbara? To set up a sequel involving the fireflies? Way to jump ahead
Regardless… Ellie’s decision to spare Abby doesn’t makes sense! There is obviously a lack of agency with the player and the characters. I think the writers were anticipating the player to sympathize with Ellie’s decision in sparing Abby after having witnessed all of what Abby had endured during her sections of the game. But at what point is Ellie a witness to all of the hardships that Abby had gone through?
All Ellie has witnessed is Abby kill Joel, kill Jesse, intentionally try to kill Tommy, and almost, ALMOST slice open Dina’s throat. Now for those of you that are going to say “but Ellie must’ve already had reservations to kill Abby after brutally murdering a pregnant woman and her friends” or “Ellie’s time with Dina and JJ on the farm changed her opinion on revenge” … it still wouldn’t make sense for the developers to force Ellie into chasing Abby to Santa Barbara, subsequently kill dozens of gangsters who have done far less to deserve their unfortunate fate, and then suddenly spare Abby. It’s just farcical. A poor attempt to hand-fist a tired old trope of “the cycle of violence” down the players’ throats. It’s pretentious. I cannot for the life of me understand how so many professional critics lauded this as a worthy successor.
At the end of the day I feel bad for the developers who invested so much time into the project. It’s obviously gorgeous and technologically sound, but the story just does their work injustice.
I think it is unfair to call TLOU2 a product of lazy writing. I think GoT S8 is more indicative of lazy writing considering that the show runners rushed to conclude a complex story inside 6 episodes. If anything, TLOU2 is a prime example of incompetent writing.
TL;DR: narrative structure and writer incompetence fucks the game sideways harder then Owen did Abby
submitted by ScrubbyDuppyDooDoo to TheLastOfUs2 [link] [comments]

In 2015 I entered a haunted maze with five of my best friends and only I came out. [Part 5]

First | Previous
I awoke with a start, alone but for the gentle blue-green glow around me. I didn’t immediately remember where I was, or why, but my heart raced and the primal part of my brain still hardwired for survival was on high alert. I froze where I sat, disoriented, but listening for movement. I didn’t, in that moment, know why I was frozen and listening, but a part of me screamed that it was imperative, so I listened.
It was safer to listen.
But only silence filled the cavern. The kind of silence that swells in the space where sound used to be. The kind of muffled emptiness that follows a power outage. It was as complete a silence as I had ever heard, and it lasted, unbroken, for several minutes.
In that time, memories surfaced.
Dad’s notebook.
Ben’s arm.
Being hunted in the maze.
The viney gate.
Santiago’s face.
Ben’s disappearance.
The mosaics.
The glowing arch.
The cavern.
The luminous moss.
The snorting shadow.
Being chased to exhaustion.
The exit in the wall.
I leaned out from my hiding place and looked toward the cavern wall nearest me: the wall the creature had passed through. I didn’t relish the idea of following its tracks, but the cavern was huge and I’d already lost track of where I’d entered. Who knew how many branches peeled off from the chamber I was in, or how many times those branches further split. I was already tired, sore, and hungry, and I didn’t know how long my lamp would last after hours of continual use. Following the creature through the wall made more sense to me right then than wandering in the dark, hoping I’d find some other way out did.
I slowly climbed to my feet, groaning as quietly as I could. My back ached—hell, my whole body ached. From sleeping against rocks, from helping carry Ben, probably even from going through that damn portal. Everything hurt, but I pressed on because moving helped.
And because not moving meant giving up.
I looked into the shadows in the direction the creature had disappeared, and picked my way over to the cavern wall. I was still careful to step on the moss when possible.
Just in case.
At the wall, I waited just a bit longer to make sure nothing else was with me before turning on the lantern for aid.
Cave silence isn’t like normal silence. There’s a strangeness to it, even when nothing is there to make a sound. The Earth has its own subtle voice, so even though I couldn’t say anything around me was making noise, it wasn’t like being in an anechoic chamber. It was kinda close, though, with all the stalactites and stalagmites baffling the cavern, and the glowing array of moss, but there was a quality to the silence—maybe just out of range of my ability to adequately perceive it—that kept me from hearing the obnoxious creak of my own joints as I waited.
Nothing but the sound of my own breathing penetrated the not-quite-silence. I was as certain as I could be that nothing currently stalked the cavern with me, so I turned on the lantern again.
Its light burned brightly, temporarily blinding me instead of helping, but as my eyes adjusted to the change I felt a little better. Detail and color came back to the world, if only within the radius of my lamp, and I lifted it to get a better look at the wall. Maybe there was a seam, or some kind of join that would indicate a doorway of some kind.
I didn’t see any seams. No cracks. No joins. No signs of masonry. There were no scratches on the floor from something grating across it. No unusual dust, like from stone wearing down stone in one spot. It looked like any other cavern wall, except for the complex series of petroglyphs scraped into the stone in a roughly grid-shaped pattern.
At least I assumed they were petroglyphs, though they didn’t look like any I’d seen before. Not that I was an expert. I enjoy history well enough to have some passing familiarity with the subject, and to my untrained eye they resembled petroglyphs.
The lines were sinewy and strange. They didn’t quite manage to depict anything that looked organic—no human-esque shapes, no obvious animals—just alien figures and unidentifiable silhouettes, curving and soft in awkward ways I couldn’t quite understand, and I couldn’t shake the uncomfortable dizziness I got while looking at them. “Dizziness” isn’t quite accurate, but, as with so much about that place, it was close. Looking at the symbols was like having an intense bout of vertigo, or standing still after spinning in a tire swing. I knew my equilibrium was fine, but it felt like my eyes were trying to stop the world from spinning when it wasn’t.
And that tickled a memory. A recent one.
I rummaged through my messenger bag and withdrew my dad’s notebook, flipping through the sparse pages until I found the one with similarly uncomfortable characters.
They were much as I remembered, soft and curving, straining at the periphery to leave the page. My eyes ached as I compared them to the symbols scratched into the stone.
There were five that stood out in my dad’s notes, grouped together in a pattern that came up multiple times. Looking at the same symbols on the wall, I noticed a subtle wearing of the stone, a faint sheen absent from the other symbols, like the gentle wear that came from regular rubbing.
I reached out, curious, and touched one.
Warmth spread beneath my fingers, and I felt sick.
I don’t know how to explain it. The wrongness of it. It was sudden and sinister, beyond simply startling me. That brief kiss of heat left me feeling touched. Deeply, though not in a physical sense. I felt like it had touched my soul, if there is such a thing. As if something in the stone had been made aware of me, and in that second it had reached deep inside me, brushing my soul as I had brushed the rock.
My heart raced as I jerked my hand away, and I wavered, my mind swimming with aimless panic.
Some anxious voice of reason inside me clawed at my paranoia, whispering that whatever it was lurking beneath the stone was hungry, and keenly aware of my presence. It cautioned that touching the symbols would only invite the thing closer, giving whatever it was purchase in some part of me I couldn’t adequately defend.
And I believed it. Given all I’d already been through, of course I believed it.
And I was terrified.
I glanced at my dad’s notes, letting my eyes go unfocused to avoid straining against symbols that didn’t want to be seen, and wondered … did I really need to do this? Did I really need to go this way? Nothing since the ticket booth had made any kind of sense, and every step forward had only brought on more suffering, more terror, and more exhaustion. What made me think this would be any different?
I didn’t want anything to do with those weird symbols and whatever hid behind them. I didn’t want to touch it again. But … looking around the cavern, where the darkness encroached on my thin halo of light and a wall of shadow hid the rest of the cave, I knew I didn’t have a choice. I could either swallow my fear and face whatever the glyphs invited in, or find a nice patch of moss to die on and hope dehydration wasn’t as painful as it seemed.
Heck, maybe I’d get lucky and die of starvation instead.
But that was worse. Giving up was worse than everything the maze had thrown at me. The thought of it was even worse than the nauseating memory of warmth still lingering in my fingertips.
No. I knew I didn’t have a choice. I had to keep trying, regardless of the fear, regardless of the challenges ahead. I had to try.
So, I focused on the notebook. If it was anything, I decided, it had to be a key. All of it.
Multiple pages bore these symbols—some of them scribbled in the margine like footnotes, some of them crowding the page like an essay—but more than once, dad had grouped the same five of them together. I couldn’t say I really recognized the symbols at that point, because I couldn’t even remember them enough to compare between each set, but I recognized that there was a pattern.
That had to mean something. Especially when, as far as I could tell, the glyphs on the wall and the symbols in the notebook looked like they were from the same upsetting family.
That was somewhere to start, right? Maybe it was just a matter of pattern recognition. Maybe if I could find the glyphs on the wall that matched the ones in the notebook, I could make the wall open like the creature with the cleaver had. Like entering a code on a keypad. And if that were the case, then I already had a head start because of the symbols surrounded by worn stone.
Worn stone meant regular use. And it was somewhere to start.
Of course, that was all easier said than done when I couldn’t remember the symbols. Every time I looked away from the page, I’d forget the shape of the glyph I was looking for. It was like they didn’t want to be learned. Obviously I knew they weren’t alive or self-aware, but I couldn’t shake the notion that they didn’t want me learning them.
It didn’t make sense, though. Why make a written language if it couldn’t be learned?
I mean, it was a language, wasn’t it? Communication of some kind? The symbols had to have some meaning to them, some use beyond frustrating me, but how the hell was anyone supposed to communicate with a written language that didn’t want to be learned?
I ignored the revelation nagging at me from a quiet corner of my mind. The one that somehow understood the meaning of the symbols without the ego of reason getting in the way.
Language is a social construct, it wanted to say. Understanding transcends such petty limitations.
But I didn’t want to understand. I just wanted to take another step forward, toward the freedom I hoped was somewhere on the other side of that wall.
So I changed my approach. I tried a few different memory tricks, including the old Memory Palace standby, but nothing stuck until I started describing them to myself. I took away the need to remember them and simplified their visual traits to a single word or cluster of words—snake arm, drip bulb, too long. I could remember the word clusters.
I searched the wall’s glyphs to find the ones that fit those word clusters and started making actual progress.
Still, it was tedious progress wracked with constant setbacks. Every step forward was more likely to send me back to the beginning than toward my goal. I couldn’t even memorize where they were, because, I think, it required remembering the symbol, and as soon as I looked away I’d forget the symbols and their locations.
And the damn things didn’t want to be learned.
Eventually, I fished a pencil out of my bag and drew up a rough grid on the back of a blank-ish page to keep track of the wall glyph locations.
That was my breakthrough moment. It still took me about three hours to properly map after my breakthrough (if my phone could still be trusted), but I managed to do it.
Once I had the pattern and locations mapped out, I just counted the glyphs—A5, C3, E2, B1, A1. I didn’t bother checking my work at that point. My head hurt and hunger was twisting my stomach in knots. I didn’t think food waited for me on the other side of the wall, but steady silence, hunger, and the hope I was headed toward some kind of exit made me bold.
The wall warmed beneath my fingers as I touched each symbol. I felt the unseen eyes of some colossal awareness turn on me. I felt small and insignificant.
And then I was explored.
All my thoughts, all my memories, explosively laid bare and rifled through with all the delicacy of a child sifting through someone else’s toys. Moments of joy were carelessly discarded and the cream of the worst moments of my life rose to the surface.
The last time I saw my mother’s face. At her funeral. Her skin dull and pink, flush with the imitation of life she no longer possessed. The horrifying chill of her beneath my lips as my grandmother forced me to kiss her goodbye one last time.
The carnival where I was abandoned. Screaming children. Aggressive flashes of color and light. The twisted faces of clowns and patrons blurring together. A hall of mirrors, dark and unnavigable. And me, scared and alone.
The maze. Ben’s face when his arm was trapped in the hedge. The sound of his scream echoing into eternity, resonating through me until I swore I’d shatter like glass.
And through them all, the awareness slithered through me, filled me up, pushed out all my sense of self and replaced it with its own. I was everywhere and everything. Through what passed for its eyes I saw it all. I saw glimpses of a forest full of malice distantly surrounding an abandoned farm house. I saw striped canvas tents that might have been vibrant in ages long gone, now left to rot in a field of the dead. I saw pyramids and monuments built out of dark, glistening stone outlined by a swirling green chaos of clouds and light. I couldn’t keep track of it all. Millions of images, thoughts and ideas, places, sensations. Some on Earth maybe. Some that couldn’t possibly be.
I saw it all in a single breath and screamed for my release while silence pressed against me like a second skin.
I also watched, distantly, as my hand continued to navigate the symbols on the wall, as if I still guided it, until all five glyphs had been touched.
And as my hand withdrew from the last symbol, I felt something shift. A gear in some cosmic machine clicked into place, and what I felt in that instant, as I was slammed back into the cold isolation of my own awareness, was even worse than the existential violation had been.
On a level I couldn’t even fathom, I knew something important inside me had been weighed and found worthy. I knew that opening this passage wasn’t simply a matter of touching the right symbols—that had been part of it, but for the way to open I also had to have the right, I don’t know. Essence? Soul? Or karma? Whatever it was, I felt the judgement pass through me. I felt the intimate release that said whatever criteria was measured to determine access beyond that wall, I possessed it.
And I felt the sickening liberty of acceptance.
Already my mind was closing up, shutting out the overwhelming glut of information I couldn’t even begin to process until only a few forgettably upsetting snapshots remained. The immediacy of the experience was already fading, and with it went the panic. I could recall what had happened—that it had happened—but the memories were scarring over and the dull ache of old trauma long forgotten had settled in. Within minutes, it was as if I’d heard about the experience from someone else a long time ago, and I couldn’t remember what had made me think of it now, and here of all places.
The wall slid open with barely a whisper.
Blue-green light brighter than the mosslight around me pooled at my feet. It glowed from antique braziers set in the walls to either side of a passage that looked engineered. Wider than the one I’d run down previously, it had a roughly consistent texture and an intentional rounding to the ceiling. Clear of any obvious threat or hiding place, I felt confident enough, for whatever that sentiment was worth, to step inside and approach one of the braziers, absently switching off my lantern to conserve whatever was left of the battery.
The braziers looked pretty traditional in an historical sense. The kind of thing you’d expect to find in an old castle. Baskets made of worked iron attached to short wooden staves were secured to the walls with iron brackets. But, instead of flames inside the brazier baskets, there was some kind of liquid. It reminded me of rheoscopic fluid—colored fluid with reflective mica powder mixed in to track currents. And I could see the currents beneath the glow. They swirled and danced, curling around themselves and each other like koi fish with delicate fins trailing behind them.
It was the first thing I’d encountered that didn’t immediately make my skin crawl.
Actually, it was very soothing to watch. Almost hypnotic. The longer I watched, the more I thought I saw some logic to the movement. Something beautifully intelligent, complex, and deeply important. And I knew if I kept watching I could figure it out.
I took a slow deep breath and dimly registered a problem.
I was sleepy. Zoning out. I could remember what I’d been doing, but there wasn’t any urgency behind it. The closest physical equivalent I have for comparison is “morphine sleep”. Morphine works almost too well on me and the transition between sleep and awake when I’m on it is almost seamless. I just pass from one to the other as if they’re virtually the same thing: different experiences on the same plane. But my body feels it. The slow beat of my heart. The deep, somnolent breaths. The way it feels like I could fall asleep forever, and that would be okay.
There’s trouble in that. And the fighting part of me recognized it.
I blinked rapidly, forcing my eyes wide as I sucked in a deeper breath to kickstart my system.
“Wake up, Joss,” I muttered, stepping back from the braziers and giving myself what I hoped was a quiet slap. The sound still echoed off the passage walls, but the sting helped me focus.
A chill of revulsion coursed down my spine. I hated that it still looked so peaceful and enticing. I hated that knowing the danger didn’t shatter the illusion. I wanted to look at them, I wanted to lose myself in their languid glow, but letting myself give in to enjoy that kind of peace was no different than giving up.
I forced my eyes away from the swirling liquid.
My empty stomach churned as I stared at the passage floor where the brazier light swayed across the stone with the soothing irregularity of water reflected. I loved it. And I hated it. I hated that I couldn’t even actually enjoy the way the light danced across the stone, because it was a beautiful lie. It’s beauty just served as a reminder that safety was only an illusion here. An illusion that could kill just as easily as cackling monsters, snorting shadows, or radically invasive vines. Maybe more easily, because it dulled the senses first. Robbed you of will and desire.
Even knowing that, I still wanted to give in.
Instead, I carefully looked back to the passage entrance. It had closed behind me at some point, leaving a blank wall with no visible glyphs to reopen it. That meant I only had forward to go. For better or worse.
I willed my gaze back to the ground, because at least the reflected effect didn’t compel me to lose myself in it. I could carry on in relative peace if I just stared at the ground. I couldn’t see where I was going without risking the silent siren’s call of the ethereal light, but I could keep moving, and that was something.
With my eyes dead center on the floor, I could see both walls. New paths split off at regular intervals, their openings somehow both darker than the passage I was in, and brighter. Some boasted shimmering lights of different colors—pinks and yellows and rosy-reds—but all of them swirled with the same watery reflection of the blue-green braziers. Who knew what sinister effect those other lights would have. Part of me wanted to know, to at least reach into their glow to feel the difference, but I kept my eyes where I knew the light had the least influence over me and kept moving.
I counted twenty-seven branches off that main passage before I reached the door at the end of the hall. That was a lot of ground to cover with no clear idea where anything might lead. I figured the safest bet, before rushing off into twenty-seven different flavors of unknown, was to get a solid picture of what the most straightforward path had to offer, and if that didn’t pan out then I could start systematically exploring each path.
After all, what else did I have to do with my time?
The door at the end of the hall was a masterpiece of stained glass and dark wood. I was tempted to take the time to bask in it’s beauty, but the soothing reflection of the braziers kept me focused.
Anything could kill me. Even a door.
I wanted to see what was on the other side, before I wandered the other paths, but the glass distorted the light in such a way that it may as well have been opaque. I couldn’t see what I was heading into, but my brain said it was forward progress and therefore it was better than the rest of the unknown.
But by now I wasn’t a fool. I knew a door couldn’t just be a door. Nothing was what it seemed here. At the very least, I knew that meant I had to inspect it enough to see if I could find any avoidable traps or dangers.
I searched it as thoroughly as I felt was safe—I was afraid (I think reasonably) that I’d be sucked into some new existential deathtrap I’d never really understand—but I couldn’t avoid the door if I wanted to make progress. So, I focused on the details—the vibrant panes separated by thick geometric leading; the wood frame so dark and glossy it could have been sealed in polished glass; an antique brass doorknob with a raised geometric pattern in the center.
Without taking a step back to view the whole picture, I could see nothing else of note. As far as I could tell, it was just a gorgeous stained glass door of art deco design sitting at the end of an impossible stone hallway that should have been a redwood forest in California.
I knew it was lying. It had to be. Appearances were deceptive here and had been from the start. I knew there had to be something else going on with it that made it terrible.
But, what were my options, really? Scour every branch off the hall behind me until I found something that wasn’t a lying murder thing?
Exhaustion pressed against the back of my eyes. I didn’t like how it felt to think I understood this place. Understanding it felt like letting go of reality, like some part of me was accepting this as my new reality. Maybe I was in that moment. Maybe surviving long enough to get out required a little acceptance I wasn’t ready to … accept. Regardless of my acceptance, I understood that whether I went through the door or picked another passage, I was only swapping one unknown danger for another.
So it was resignation that drew my hand to the doorknob. I guess I figured that when everything is trying to kill you, there’s no sense putting off one source of death just to go find another.
At first contact, nothing happened. I didn’t burst into flames. I wasn’t sucked into a portal. I wasn’t violated by unseen forces. All was quiet. So for a split second, I was simultaneously skeptical and hopeful. It couldn’t be this easy, I thought. But maybe …?
The brass blazed brilliant white when I finally turned the handle. I cried out in surprise. Pain exploded in my palm. I dropped the lantern and it clattered across the floor in pieces. I snatched my hand back as quickly as I could, but the damage had been done. The scent of my own still-sizzling skin assaulted my nose as I looked down at the raised geometric outline of a strange eye. It stared angrily back at me from the center of my palm, a labyrinthine spiral where the pupil and iris would have been.
“Fucking maze.” I swore through my teeth. Tears spilled down my cheeks in a mixture of pain, fury, and helplessness. I sank to my knees, favoring my new burn, and crawled into the corner where the end of the hall met the adjoining wall.
That’s where I cried.
I cried for Ben. I cried for Santiago. I cried for losing Anna, Khadijah, and Ember through the arch. I cried for what they must be going through. I cried for my hand. I cried for myself. I cried for how unfair it was. And for the first time in a long time, I cried for my dad.
I don’t know how long I was there, sobbing and screaming in the corner. Time didn’t feel real anymore. I just remember crying until I had poured out every ounce of pain, and anger, and grief. Then I sat in silence—maybe just as long, maybe longer—feeling empty and strangely whole for the first time. Completely drained, but oddly at peace.
I’ve come to understand this feeling as catharsis, but it took a lot of therapy to get there, and none of my therapists believed how it was triggered, so eventually I stopped talking about it and let them convince me it never happened. Let them convince me the catharsis had come from acceptance, and forgiveness, and blah, blah, blah.
But I remember now. I remember where I was and how it felt. Sitting in that passage, alone and miserable, and scared, and empty, and free.
I didn’t move again until after I’d registered the fact that the door beside me was open. Not by much, but enough to know I wouldn’t have to touch it again to get into the room beyond.
I climbed to my feet, hunger still clawing at my belly, pain still surging from my hand, and driven by pure, dumb determination.
I nudged the door open with one foot, keeping my eyes on the stone floor in case there were any other visually-triggered dangers, and stepped through.
Bright light surrounded me, and for several terrifying moments I was completely blind. Helpless, hurt, and alone. If something had wanted to take me down right then, I would have had no way of defending myself.
Slowly, as the moments ticked by and nothing attacked me, my eyes adjusted to the light.
Black pavement and soaring redwoods swam into view, lit up by the gentle fire of late afternoon sun. A parking lot stretched out before me, occupied by a sea of cars, trucks, and emergency service vehicles.
Someone noticed me.
“You,” a woman shouted, and jogged across the parking lot toward me. “You’re one of the missing students, aren’t you?”
I frowned in confusion, not yet certain this wasn’t still part of the maze.
The woman consulted the clipboard in her hand. “Joscelyn van Dehn? Is that you?”
“Yes,” I said warily as I cradled my hand. “That’s me.”
The woman turned and shouted over her shoulder at the others. “We got one! She’s alive!”
“What’s going on,” I asked, my mind struggling with this new scenario. Was I really home? Was I really safe?
“Hun, you’ve been missing for three days,” she said. “You and your friends.”
“Three days …” I turned to look back through the door, but there was nothing to see. Redwoods towered silently above. “Where are my friends?” I asked, turning back to the woman. “Where’s Ben?”
“You’re the only one who’s come out of the woods so far.” Her attention shifted to the hand I sheltered against my chest. “You’re hurt. Let’s get you to one of the EMTs.”
I let her guide me toward the parking lot and one of the ambulances there, swallowing the hurt and disappointment.
I was the only one who came out.
“What happened to you guys,” she asked.
I told her about the maze—not the inside of it: something told me to hold onto that—and about the flier, and the ticket booth, and the hedges. She looked at me like I was high, and even asked if we’d done anything “recreational” before coming to the park.
I got a little mad and shouted at her, which in retrospect really wasn’t fair, but neither was implying that what we’d gone through had been nothing more than a bad trip. A bad trip only I had come back from. It was insulting, dismissive, and ridiculous, so I told her I’d show her the damn thing, and stormed off before the EMT had finished bandaging my hand. She scrambled to follow after me like she was afraid I might disappear into the trees again and never come back.
I stomped up the trail in silence as she trotted behind me. The trees around us remained silent as well, which tickled the back of my mind as being wrong.
I stopped when we reached the clearing where the ticket booth should have been.
Should have been.
“I don’t understand,” I said quietly. “This was it. This was where we found the maze.”
An empty trailhead wandered through the spot where a solid brick arch had been before. There were no hedges to be seen. No weirdly age-appropriate ticket prices. No actor in prosthetics. No trash, or debris, or anything to indicate a novelty attraction had ever been there.
A warm hand found my shoulder and held it comfortingly. Rather, it held my shoulder in a way I’m sure the woman thought was comforting. I sensed pity in the touch, and the comfort I received was paper thin at best, but I still welcomed the supportive contact. Even if the owner had no idea what had really happened.
I was taken to a hospital after that and treated for my injury and some mild dehydration. (And yes, I finally ate. Hospital food never tasted so good.)
Before they would release me, I was asked to voluntarily check into the psych wing under the guise of grief and drug counseling. Which I did.
That’s how I came to terms with it all, agreeing that even if I didn’t remember drugs being involved, one of my friends must have dosed the rest of us and we’d all succumbed to a bout of shared delusion. I believed that I was the only one who had managed to wander back from it. And for the last five years, it’s what let me pull myself back together and move on.
I had completely forgotten about the whole thing.
Until a Facebook friend shared a post about missing teens in Oregon.
Now that I know, now that I remember my experience wasn’t some drug-fueled hallucination, I’m going to dig. The truth has to be out there somewhere. I can’t be the only survivor. Someone out there must have more information. I just have to find them.
I won’t rest until I know what this thing is and how I can stop it for good.
I call it “Amaranthine”, for lack of anything better. It means “endless”. It’s not quite right—like everything else about the damn thing—but it still kinda fits. It feels right enough, and I can’t explain why.
My hand aches now. I can still feel the burn even though the lines have faded away to nothing. I don’t know what that means, but I don’t think it can be good.
I’ll be posting updates whenever I know more. Now that I know this thing is out there, hurting other people, I can’t let it go. I have to do something to stop it.
If anyone else has any information they can share about a similar experience, whether it’s happened to you or you heard about it from someone else, please contact me. I need to figure this thing out, and if I can … end it forever.
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The Amaranthine Report
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Prizefighter Preschool: UFC 251: Usman vs Masvidal

Prizefighter Preschool is a preview for UFC events aimed at casual fans interested in learning more about the sport, or hardcore fans looking for even more input and perspective. With the UFC headed to Fight Island, myself and OpenFlameRecon will happily be your tour guides.
Event | UFC 251
Location | Yas Island, UAE (AKA Fight Island)
Expected Attendance | 0
Fight Pass Early Prelims Start Time | 6:00pm EST
ESPN Prelims Start Time | 8:00pm EST
ESPN+ PPV Main Card Start Time | 10:00pm EST
Prelims to Watch:
Welterweight (170lbs): Elizeu “Capoeira” Zaleski Dos Santos vs Muslim “The King of Kung Fu” Salikhov
Estimated Start Time: 9pm EST
Dos Santos vs Salikhov
Curitiba, Brazil From Buynaksk, Dagestan, Russia
22-6 Record 16-2
8-2 UFC Record 3-1
Capoiera Style Kickboxing
W (UD) Last Result W (UD)
Analysis: D: Expect an interesting bout here as elements of rarer martial arts play into what should be a striking heavy matchup. EZDS’ capoeira background manifests itself in flashy spinning kicks when he’s not throwing relentless combinations. Despite the “King of Kung Fu” nickname, Salikhov doesn’t show much Kung Fu in the cage. This is because it’s Kung Fu, and thus entirely ineffective in modern combat sports. However, his kickboxing is extremely crisp, and he is more than willing to throw vicious spinning kicks like his opponent. Salikhov has more potent 1-punch KO power, but he’ll need to overcome flurries from EZDS to show that off. C: While Salikhov is an extremely violent fighter, his style often involves throwing single big strikes at a lower pace than his opponents, in conjunction with absurd kicks that keep opponents at a distance while punishing their bodies. Meanwhile, although EZDS has looked somewhat slower in recent fights against Jingliang and Kunchenko, his volume is somewhat higher, and he has a higher tendency to throw strikes that don’t necessarily have the intention of ending the fight. As a result, it seems more likely that EZDS will be able to win with higher output and chance to do damage.
Picks: D/C: EZDS/DEC
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): (#7) Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir vs Jiri “Denisa” Prochazka
Estimated Start Time: 9:30pm EST
Oezdemir vs Prochazka
Fribourg, Switzerland From Hosteradice, Czechia
17-4 Record 26-3-1
5-3 UFC Record 0-0 (Debut)
Kickboxing Style Kickboxing
W (SD) Last Result W (KO)
Analysis: D/C: Volkan Oezdemir is an interesting case; his UFC debut saw a controversial split decision win. After that, he flatlined his next two opponents early on, making good on his “No Time” nickname. When he challenged for the Light Heavyweight title, Daniel Cormier dominated him, and he followed that loss with two more losses. A big KO win over Ilir Latifi turned that around, and a split decision over rising contender Aleksander Rakic kept that momentum going. But now he faces a debuting Jiri Prochazka, the former champion of Japanese promotion Rizin. Prochazka enters the UFC on a 7 fight KO streak, having never lost his Rizin title, rather vacating in order to switch promotions. This fight has the possibility of ending at any moment due to the explosive power of both competitors. It’s a quintessential matchup of a mid-tier contender seeking to hold their ground against a newcomer with serious hype. Oezdemir’s style has changed over the past year or so, but the fundamental basis of it involves an extremely physical clinch, backed by hard low kicks. While Jiri’s powerful striking led him to a lot of success in Rizin, it may not work out in his UFC debut, against an incredibly durable hitter like Oezdemir. Personally, I think No Time has run out of time with this matchup.
Picks: D: Prochazka/2/KO C: OezdemiDEC
Main Card
Women’s Flyweight (125lbs): (#14-SW) Amanda Ribas vs “12 Gauge” Paige VanZant
Estimated Start Time: 10:10pm (EST)
Ribas vs VanZant
Minas Gerais, Brazil From Reno, Nevada
9-1 Record 8-4
3 UFC Record 5-3
Jiu-Jitsu Style MMA
W (UD) Last Result W (sub)
Analysis: D: To me, this fight is placed far too highly on the card, because both women are “marketable”. Not that these two aren’t good, as they are (especially Ribas), however this bout is just in a place more important than it should be. Usually fighting at Strawweight, Ribas and VanZant are fighting 10 pounds heavier at Flyweight for this bout. This will be VanZant’s first bout since January of 2019, with a surgery for a broken arm and a re-breaking of said arm in-between then and now. While VanZant’s striking is fairly good, Ribas will look to take this fight to the ground and control the grappling. While 12 Gauge Paige has some decent grappling and even a few submission wins, expect Ribas to take this one should it head to the canvas. C: I think a lot of people are underrating PVZ in this fight. Ribas is a violent and exciting prospect and PVZ has been out with injury after injury, sure, but Paige is still a decent grappler with flashy striking. While I, and a lot of others, are expecting that Ribas will be able to put in work on the ground vs. PVZ, it would not shock me to see her get outstruck on the feet.
Picks: D: Ribas/1/Sub C: Ribas/2/SUB
Women’s Strawweight (115lbs): (#2) “Thug” Rose Namajunas vs (#1) Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade
Namajunas vs Andrade
Arvada, Colorado From Parana, Brazil
8-4 Record 20-7
6-3 UFC Record 11-5
L (KO) Last Result L (TKO)
Analysis: D: This bout, to me, is the exact opposite of the last bout; a highly skilled matchup between top contenders and former champions. This is a rematch of a world championship bout last year in which Rose Namajunas was dominating until holding on to a kimura too long, allowing Andrade to lift her opponent and send her skull-first into the canvas with a brutal slam KO. Andrade would go on to lose her first title defense to current champ Weili Zhang, setting up this fantastic rematch. The “story” of this fight is that of an attempted comeback for two women coming off of championship losses (Rose has not fought since the last Andrade fight). However, the more interesting aspect of this bout to me is determining how much of a fluke Andrade’s win was last time around. A lot of the MMA community believes that Rose simply lost due to the single mistake of hanging on long enough to get lifted and slammed. I fall in line with that point of view. Barring another crazy circumstance, Rose should be able to strike at a distance and avoid the absurd power of Brazil’s sledgehammer. C: I think a lot of people have the wrong mindset when looking at Namajunas/Andrade 1 and are too salty about Rose losing to fairly assess the fight. Rose had an absolutely incredible first round, consistently countering Andrade every time she stepped in, and even dropping her at one point. Her footwork is extremely light, and she has excellent in-and-out movement to compliment heavy hands and lethal grappling. Andrade, meanwhile, is like a female John Lineker, and a 5’1 Wanderlei Silva. Hooks, hooks, hooks. If Andrade ever threw a straight punch, I’d be concerned about which universe I’m living in. Her height lets her excel at throwing to the body and getting into a clinch, while her unreal strength lets her throw opponents around with minimal effort. However, Andrade seriously struggles with an opponent who can move around her with ease, and an opponent who can comfortably counter her on the way in (demonstrated recently by Zhang and Namajunas). Some people look at the first fight, see the success in the first round, and say Namajunas was winning the entire fight, and the slam was a lucky fluke. Here’s the thing for me: do I see a second slam happening? Not necessarily, but I think the option is there. The bigger thing for me is that Namajunas was beginning to slow down in the second round, and Andrade’s leg kicks were adding up. While she was not winning the round before the slam, she was very liable to pick up the next three or so rounds with consistent heavy leg kicks and pressure. In a five round fight, I’d probably pick Andrade here, but the 3 round bout leads me to think Namajunas can at least somewhat replicate her prior performance.
Picks: D/C: Namajunas/DEC
UFC Bantamweight Championship (135lbs)(vacant):(#3) Petr “No Mercy” Yan vs (#6) Jose Aldo “Junior”
Yan vs Aldo
Yekaterinburg, Russia From Manaus, Brazil
14-1 Record 28-6
6-1 UFC Record 10-5
Muay Thai Style Muay Thai/BJJ
W (KO) Last Result L (DEC)
Analysis: D: WARNING: SALT INCOMING. This is a great fight, but let’s be real, it isn’t the Bantamweight title fight-- that happened at UFC 250 when Sterling beat Sandhagen. For those unaware, UFC Bantamweight Champion Henry Cejudo retired at UFC 249, vacating his title. With a bout upcoming between the #2 and #4 in the division, the UFC instead decided to make the title fight between the #3 and the #6 a month after that because Jose Aldo is a former champ and a big name. Aldo lost his only fight since dropping down to bantamweight. While it was a razor-thin decision (that many thought he won) against the #1 contender, the official ruling was that he lost. Aljamain Sterling is the real bantamweight champion. With that rant out of the way, this fight should be incredible. Yan is a phenomenal rising contender with heavy hands, and Jose Aldo is one of the greatest of all time. While past his prime, Aldo proved in his last fight that he could still hang with the best in this 135lb division. Yan has extremely impressive power for this division and can turn out his opponent’s lights at any second. But Aldo’ leg kicks could easily chop Yan down before that occurs. While Aldo is all around a better striker, I fear that Yan’s power, and dehydration from the weight cut affecting Aldo’s chin could spell disaster for the King of Rio. C: Aldo used to be one of the biggest featherweights in the UFC, looking like nothing short of a corpse going into weigh-ins. The talk for years was always about Jose moving up in weight, so when he first mentioned changing weight classes, the MMA world was mortified to learn he meant going DOWN in weight, not up. That being said, he didn’t look awful in his fight against Marlon Moraes (in fact, I scored it for him at the time). One of, if not the greatest fighter of all time, Aldo’s style has evolved drastically over the years. From a violent and explosive finisher who would blast leg kicks to a one of the best defensive fighters in MMA, to a boxer with grueling liver shots, Aldo has proven himself both extremely adaptable and durable. In his bout with Moraes, however, things were a bit weird. The first round included a head kick that sent Aldo reeling, and the third round featured a much lower output from Aldo than one would have expected. While he looked great in the second round, that clearly was not a sustainable performance, and as such leaves a lot of room for concern against a beast like Yan. On that note, Petr Yan is an absolute savage. With good boxing, hard kicks, and a nasty clinch, Yan’s game is rounded out by brutal pressure, ceasely backing his opponent into the fence at all costs. Although his guard does leave room for improvement, having seen him hit hard or countered by opponents like Dodson and Rivera, even a hurt Petr Yan will force his opponents backwards. While his performance vs. Rivera was saved by a series of heavy knockdowns at the end of the rounds, I’m not sure how heavily to judge him for it-- after the fact, Yan mentioned having been stung by a jellyfish and experiencing a fever leading up to the fight. In addition, Aldo would be the best fighter that he has faced in his entire UFC career by a wide margin, and there may end up being levels to this shit. A prime Jose Aldo would give a fighter like Yan fits with his defensive footwork and counterpunching capabilities, but the Moraes performance did not give a lot to look forward to. Although it’s possible that Aldo turns back the clock yet again and blasts Yan early in the first round, it seems more plausible to me that by the second round, Yan will be turning up the heat to a late finish against an all-time great. PS: Sterling deserves the next title shot.
Picks: D: Yan/2/KO C: Yan/3/KO
UFC Featherweight Championship (145lbs): © Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski vs (#1) Max “Blessed” Holloway 2
Volkanovski vs Holloway
Shellharbour, NSW, Australia From text
21-1 Record text
8-0 UFC Record text
Kickboxing Style text
W (DEC) Last Result L (DEC)
Analysis: D: Instant rematches tend not to go well for former champions, and I see this bout following that trend. Max Holloway’s entire run to the featherweight title, and every subsequent defense of the title, all had one thing in common; volume striking. Holloway would drown out opponents in relentless flurries across rounds, picking up the pace as his opponents tired out. So when Alexander Volkanovski dethroned Holloway last year by outstriking him, it came as a surprise. With the pandemic admittedly affecting Max’s ability to train with his usual sparring partners, and so little time for changes to be made between this bout and the first, I expect Volkanovski to successfully defend here, as much as that upsets me. C: Outside of going on a rant about how dumb instant rematches tend to be, I’m uncertain of how Max Holloway could improve his odds of winning going into the fight. His normal style consists of dragging his opponents into deep water and drowning them, drastically picking up the pace between the first couple rounds and the final three. With a good jab, the ability to fight from both stances, and a size advantage over his opponents, Max was able to compile an insane 14 fight unbeaten streak (at featherweight). Volkanovski’s career has been similarly impressive, with a streak capped off by wins over Chad Mendes, Jose Aldo, and Max Holloway. His early fights involved him grinding his opponents out with extremely physical and violent wrestling, while the latter several fights of his career demonstrated his aptitude for feinting and kickboxing. The first fight between Volkanovski and Holloway involved a few critical tactics by Volkanovski: the constant leg kicks inhibited Max’s normal movement, while his feinting and handfighting stopped Max from being able to effectively jab to set up his combos. For the most part, every time that Holloway stepped in to try and throw combinations, Volkanovski would stifle it by throwing a heavy counter. Max was able to adapt somewhat in the later rounds, but his success was rather muted. It feels to me like Max would have to make a number of notable adjustments to his style in order to win, while Volkanovski has far less work to do (and, in fact, can revert to the grind-heavy style of his early career if necessary). Finally, Max has made comments about not having his coaches with him for sparring or training during the pandemic and while I do not believe him in entirety, I’m more than a bit concerned about what it might imply. Although I’d love to see Blessed pull this one off, I don’t feel comfortable picking him.
Picks: D/C: Volkanovski/DEC
Main Event: UFC Welterweight Championship (170lbs): © “The Nigerian Nightmare” Kamaru Usman vs (#3/BMF) Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal
Usman vs Masvidal
Ft. Lauderdale, FL From Miami, FL
16-1 Record 35-13
11-0 UFC Record 11-6
Wrestling Style Boxing/Kickboxing
W(TKO) Last Result W (Doctor Stoppage)
Analysis: D: The most hyped up fight on this card, and the main event, did not exist as it does now just a few days ago. The original main event for this card was Usman defending his 170lb title against his teammate, Gilbert Burns. Because of this situation, Usman switched gyms temporarily. This switch proved to be a great decision as his original opponent and a few teammates caught COVID19. With Burns (the most deserving contender) out, the UFC decided to pay Jorge Masvidal the big bucks he thought he was worth and have him fight for the belt on short notice. Masvidal has been a consistent figure in the UFC for years, but was never more than a mid-card fighter. A stint on a survivor-like reality show had Masvidal claiming he’d come back “baptizing” people. While Jesus may not be a fan of CTE[a], Street Jesus certainly is, and Masvidal came back to flatline heavy favorite Darren Till in Till’s home country of England. Next, Masvidal was paired with undefeated wrestler Ben Askren. Knowing Askren’s striking to be terrible, Masvidal anticipated that Askren’s first move would be to dive in for a takedown. One flying knee later and Akren’s undefeated record was gone, in its place was Masvidal’s fastest knockout in UFC history record at just 5 seconds. All this talk about baptizing people and being a “bad motherfucker” caught the eye of Nate Diaz, who called for a fight with Masvidal to see if the east coast or west coast gangsters were more, well, gangster. The UFC, seeing a huge money fight, but not wanting to allow a single PPV event without a title belt on the line, instituted the “BMF” belt. While the BMF belt was nothing more than a vanity plate for the winner of a fun fight, Masvidal taking said belt via doctor stoppage was enough to start serious talk of him being a title contender. Cue months of money disputes, and one unfortunate case of COVID later and Masvidal is getting his shot at the real belt. While Masvidal was baptizing fools, Usman was welterweight champion, having dominated Tyron Woodley in shocking fashion to take the belt. The Nigerian Nightmare then took out noted loudmouth tool Colby Covington in his first defense. The two fighters known for their excellent wrestling decided that their hatred of one another was more important, leading to neither man attempting a takedown and both men trying to take each other’s heads off with punches. Usman cathartically broke the jaw of Covington to end the night. One interesting note here is Usman’s switch of gyms. Temporarily working under Trevor Wittman, I think Usman’s striking may greatly improve. If it does, Masvidal might be in serious trouble. While Masvidal has serious KO power and good grappling, he stands to get outwrestled for 5 rounds if he can’t close the show early. Usman’s chin and possible improvements to his striking game lead me to think that Gamebred won’t get such an opportunity. C: Usman is an extremely talented wrestler with endless cardio and a slowly developing striking game. Having shown himself capable of outstriking and outgrappling wrestlers like Covington and Woodley, while dominating strikers like RDA, the champion has put together a skillset and resume that leave some questioning who will be able to take the belt off of him. Between his solid clinch entries and consistent bodywork, Usman has few weaknesses to be exploited. However, some notable deficiencies in his game are present in his comfort standing (while his offensive striking is improving, his defense and capacity for getting out of the way of punches leaves something to be desired). Masvidal, meanwhile, is well suited to take advantage of some of these deficiencies. Having been around for nearly two decades in the fight game, his skill set is extremely well rounded. From showing incredible kick-catching against the likes of Ellenberger and Cerrone, to stuffing takedowns from Bendo and surviving on the mat against Maia (who went on to describe Masvidal as having some of the best defensive BJJ he’d ever faced), Masvidal has brought his game to a new level by demonstrating an urgency to finish fights that was lacking in his previous title runs. Given the extreme short notice nature of the bout, it’s kind of hard to pick against Usman here. Maybe the short notice will benefit Masvidal through a combination of not overtraining/a new stylistic matchup/willingness to take risks, but betting on x-factors like that against a champion as consistent as Kamaru Usman doesn’t make sense to me here. The more likely scenario, to me, is that a combination of Usman’s superior grappling and Masvidal’s short notice preparation will result in a successful defense of the title.
Picks: D/C: Usman/DEC
[a]jesus loves knockouts
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WWE Survivor Series 2019 PPV Predictions Show WWE Survivor Series 2018 Early Betting Odds ! Matches  SURVIVOR SERIES 2018 Breaking News-Edge ReturnSurvivor Series Biggest Match RevealedExtreme Rules Betting Odds#Mahes WWE The Horror Show At Extreme Rules 19 July 2020 Highlights  Extreme Rules 2020 Updated Match Card WWE Survivor Series 24 Nov. 2019 Highlights Full Show Betting Odds

Keep in mind NXT is the one who fights against AEW for Wednesday’s night ratings. Let’s take a look at the latest 2019 Survivor Series Odds while making some Wrestling Betting predictions. 2019 WWE Survivor Series Odds, Preview & Predictions WWE Survivor Series 2019 Betting Odds. by vintown21 | Posted on November 17, 2019 November 18, 2019. The 2019 WWE Survivor Series will take place on November 24, 2019 from the Allstate Arena. This show will once again will be the battle of the brands in WWE with the added wrinkle that this year’s battle will also feature NXT as the third brand. WWE Survivor Series Betting Guide: Odds, Props, Rumors and Predictions . By Rick Rockwell in WWE on November 22, 2019 . On Sunday, November 24 th, the WWE will be live from the Allstate Arena in the greater Chicago region of Rosemont, Illinois, for Survivor Series. This Network event is an annual tradition dating back to 1987. Odds as of May 13 at BetOnline. Survivor Season 40: The Finale. There are currently five contestants remaining: Tony, Michele, Sarah, Ben and Denise. The latter has odds of +5000 and has a one-in-six chance of being awarded the $2-million prize. Anderson and Fitzgerald were +700 and +162 in the Survivor betting odds heading into the finale. Why was Tony the Favorite to Win Survivor 40? Tony is a police officer from New Jersey, and was

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WWE Survivor Series 2019 PPV Predictions Show

Pro Wrestling Unlimited is here to provide you, the fans, all the latest gossip, news, rumors, headlines and more. We are dedicated to informing you on all things pro wrestling for fans by fans ... WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 2018 EARLY BETTING ODDS MATCHES ! SURVIVOR SERIES 2018 (Survivor series,Survivor Series 2018,WWE Survivor Series 2018 Highlights,WWE Surv... WWE Survivor Series 24 Nov. 2019 Highlights Full Show Betting Odds Wrestling VÈVO WWE Updates. ... All Winners & Losers For WWE Survivor Series 2019 (Predictions, Rumors & Returns) - Duration ... #Mahes #Mrwrestlinggod #Edge #ExtremeRules #Bettingodds #SurviovrSeries This Channel Will Be Only For: °°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°° 1. Pro Wrestling ... This video is unavailable. Watch Queue Queue. Watch Queue Queue