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TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew's Congress showdown: Five takeaways
By James Clayton
BBC North America technology reporter
Bruising, damaging, relentless. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew faced four-and-a-half hours of questioning at a US congressional hearing on Thursday.
As one congressman pointed out, some people run marathons quicker than that.
Mr Chew will certainly be feeling it, after a torrid time giving evidence. Many tech execs have stood before Congress, and they often don't get an easy ride.
But what was exceptional about this hearing was the stubborn, never-ending line of vicious questioning.
Who is TikTok chief Shou Zi Chew?
How a TikTok ban would - or wouldn't - work in practice
TikTok ban: What could it mean for creators?
From both Democrats and Republicans, there was no let-up. A spokesperson for TikTok said afterwards the politicians were "grandstanding". There is most certainly some truth to that. But between the sometimes frustratingly verbose questioning, we did learn a thing or two.
Legislators were united against TikTok
There was criticism of TikTok from Republicans and Democrats, and the level of distrust and scepticism from all sides was stark.
"Welcome to the most bipartisan committee in Congress," said Republican congressman Buddy Carter.
Committee chair to TikTok CEO: 'We aren't buying it'
"Thank you, Mr Chew, for bringing Republicans and Democrats together," said Dan Crenshaw, a Republican.
It was really quite something to see so many politicians - who agree on practically nothing - agreeing wholeheartedly that TikTok was a security threat.
TikTok complained afterwards that not enough time had been spent focusing on the platform's measures to keep data safe.
"Also not mentioned today by members of the committee: the livelihoods of the five million businesses on TikTok or the [US Constitution] First Amendment implications of banning a platform loved by 150 million Americans," a TikTok spokesperson said.
ByteDance engineers in China have access to some US data
Mr Chew kept talking about a "Project Texas", a proposal which will see it store all data in the US under the watch of American firm Oracle.
However, Project Texas is not fully operational. As of now, Mr Chew confirmed that engineers at ByteDance - TikTok's parent company - do have access to data.
"We rely on global interoperability, Chinese engineers have access to data," he said.
It was an admission that politicians kept coming back to. Their point was that if data can be accessed by engineers in China, it's hard to see how the Chinese government couldn't also access it.
On Friday, China's foreign ministry repeated its claim that it does not ask companies to provide data or intelligence located in other countries.
Chew has shares in ByteDance
Perhaps Mr Chew's least successful defence was his attempt to distance TikTok from ByteDance.
By any definition, the Chinese company owns TikTok. Mr Chew himself used to be ByteDance's chief financial officer.
When initially asked, Mr Chew didn't want to say whether he owned shares in ByteDance. Pressed by lawmakers, he eventually said he did, but tried to downplay the connection.
China's government says it would oppose any US plan to force ByteDance to sell TikTok - something authorities are reportedly considering.
Chew's children do not use TikTok
At one point in the hearing, Mr Chew was asked by congresswoman Nanette Barragán, a Democrat, whether or not his own children used TikTok.
He said they didn't because they live in Singapore. In that country the version of the app for children younger than 13 is not available.
TikTok CEO tells Congress: '150 million Americans love our app'
Mr Chew did clarify that the children's version of the app is available in the US, and he would let his children use it if they were in America.
What about Cambridge Analytica?
Mr Chew generally pulled his punches. He didn't often take the fight back to members of Congress. But there were rare moments where he did push back - and effectively.
1 TikTok Türkiye 2 TikTok 3 TikTok 4 TikTok 5 dlive 6 live 7 Arif 8 Erenköy Pilates https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMYHrF2n1/
9 Arif TikTok https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMY96qcFS/
10 Arif TikTok https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMYmyMHQ2/
11 Arif TikTok https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMYau8tN3/
12 Arif TikTok https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMYaP9bTj/
13 Arif TikTok https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMYaP4nR6/
14 Arif TikTok https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMYaPCpfs/
15 Arif TikTok https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMFKourpu/
16 Arif TikTok https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMYDFUkhV/
17 Arif TikTok https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMFwJakgQ/
18 Arif TikTok
19 Arif TikTok 18 TikTok
When quizzed on TikTok's use of user data, he said: "With all due respect, American companies don't have a great track record with data … Just look at Facebook and Cambridge Analytica."
It was a barbed comment, but a reasonable point to make.
Harvesting of Facebook users' personal information by Cambridge Analytica, a British political consultancy, and other third-party apps caused uproar when it emerged in 2018.
True Story Movie ! Here are options for downloading or watching Jesus Revolution streaming the full movie online for free on 123movies & Reddit,1movies, 9movies, and yes movies, including where to watch the anticipated real-life true story Movies at home. Is Jesus Revolution 2023 available to stream? Is watching Jesus Revolution on Netflix, HBO Max, Disney Plus, Hulu or Amazon Prime? Yes, we have found an authentic streaming option/service.
Jesus Revolution is an upcoming movie based on Pastor Greg Laurie's autobiographical book of the same title. The movie focuses on Greg's early years as he becomes involved in the "Jesus movement" which originated in Southern California in the late 1960s and early 1970s, eventually spreading throughout much of North America and Europe. Along with a sea of his hippie friends, Greg arrives on the American west coast and attempts to breathe new life into a dying church. A coming-of-age movie set alongside "the greatest spiritual awakening in American history", Jesus Revolution explores faith, rock and roll, and newfound love.
Joel Courtney (The Kissing Booth) plays the young Greg Laurie, and Kimberly Williams-Paisley (Nashville) plays his mother Charlene. Jonathan Roumie (The Chosen) plays hippie preacher Lonnie Frisbee, who Greg meets upon his arrival in Southern California. Kelsey Grammer (Fraiser) plays Pastor Chuck Smith, a man eager to open the doors of his struggling church in the hopes of reviving it. Anna Grace Barlow (The Big Leap) plays Greg's crush and fellow hippie Cathy who invites Greg along to California, thus beginning their time together in the Jesus movement.
Here's your guide on how you can watch the highly anticipated greatest spiritual awakening in American history "Jesus Revolution" streaming, starring Kelsey Grammer.
Jesus Revolution Release Date
Early access screenings for Jesus Revolution begin on Wednesday, February 22, 2023.
Jesus Revolution will then premiere worldwide on Friday, February 24, 2023.
Where to watch Jesus Revolution
As of now, the only way to watch Jesus Revolution is to head to a theater when it releases on Friday, Feb. 24. You can find a local showing on Fandango. Otherwise, you’ll just have to wait for it to become available to rent or buy on digital platforms like Vudu, Amazon, Apple and YouTube, or become available to stream on Peacock.
Watch Now: Jesus Revolution (2023) Online Free!
Find Showtimes for Jesus Revolution
Is Jesus Revolution Available to Stream?
It is not yet known when or where Jesus Revolution will be available to stream. However, the movie's production and distribution companies (Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company) lead us to speculate that when the movie becomes available to stream, it will likely be hosted on a couple of different platforms depending on your country. Last year, Lionsgate signed streaming deals with both The Roku Channel and Peacock, that'll allow the streaming services to host their films.
In the United States, Starz is available with any Hulu plan starting at $7.99 per month. In the United Kingdom, Amazon Prime customers can purchase LIONSGATE+ alongside any plan starting at £5.99 per month.
How to Watch Jesus Revolution For Free?
As mentioned above, ‘Jesus Revolution’ is unavailable on any digital platform as of writing. This simply means that there is currently no way for you to stream the true story movie for free. All you can do is hope that it gets made available on any of the online platforms offering a free trial to its new users. Nevertheless, we urge our readers to always pay for the content they wish to consume and support cinematic art rather than using illegal methods to do the same.
Is Jesus Revolution On Netflix?
No, Jesus Revolution will not be available on Netflix — at least not anytime soon, since it will be heading straight to Peacock after its theatrical release. In the meantime, you’ll just have to wait for it to become available on the NBCUniversal-owned streaming platform.
Is Jesus Revolution Streaming On HBO MAX?
No, Jesus Revolution will not be on HBO Max since it’s not a Warner Bros. movie. While the company previously released its movies on HBO Max and in theaters on the same day, they have since stopped and have implemented a 45-day window between the theatrical release and streaming release.
Is Jesus Revolution on Hulu?
We hate to break it to you that ‘Jesus Revolution’ is not available for streaming on Hulu. But don’t let it stop you from checking out other animal attack movies on the streamer like ‘The Requin‘ and ‘Maneater.’
Will Jesus Revolution Streaming on Amazon Prime Video?
Jesus Revolution will release on Prime Video, but will only be available to buy or rent. It will be released on the Amazon platform when the movie becomes available to buy digitally. The official date for that has not yet been revealed, and will likely be dependant on how well the film does theatrically.
Jesus Revolution Online In The U.S?
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There are a few ways to watch Jesus Revolution online in the U.S. You can use a streaming service such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video. You can also rent or buy the movie on iTunes or Google Play. You can also watch it on-demand or on a streaming app available on your TV or streaming device if you have cable.
Jesus Revolution Cast:
Jesus Revolution is a 2023 American faith-based drama film directed by Jon Erwin and Brent McCorkle. Based on the book of the same name, the film follows youth minister Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney) and pastor Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer) as they take part in the Jesus movement in California during the 1970s. Anna Grace Barlow, Jonathan Roumie, and Kimberly Williams-Paisley also star. The film is scheduled to be released in the United States on February 24, 2023 by Lionsgate.
Joel Courtney as Greg Laurie
Kelsey Grammer as Chuck Smith
Anna Grace Barlow
Jonathan Roumie as Lonnie Frisbee
DeVon Franklin as Josiah
What is Jesus Revolution about?
Jesus Revolution is the story of one young hippie’s quest in the 1970s for belonging and liberation that leads not only to peace, love, and rock and roll, but that sets into motion a new counterculture crusade—a Jesus Movement—changing the course of history.
Inspired by a true movement, Jesus Revolution tells the story of a young Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney) being raised by his struggling mother, Charlene (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) in the 1970s. Laurie and a sea of young people descend on sunny Southern California to redefine truth through all means of liberation. Inadvertently, Laurie meets Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie), a charismatic hippie-street-preacher, and Pastor Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer) who have thrown open the doors of Smith’s languishing church to a stream of wandering youth. What unfolds becomes the greatest spiritual awakening in American history. Rock and roll, newfound love, and a twist of faith lead to a Jesus Revolution that turns one counterculture movement into a revival that changes the world.
So I have been getting constant calls from hdfc bank for a few weeks now to enable my debit card for online payments. Tbh I am a bit skeptical about following their instructions but I did try to do the same after I disconnected the call(foolish I know). I would like to know whether these calls were genuine(information call, they said) or a scam. As a first time bank account holder I don't want to risk anything. Also, the guy who called me recently was rude and impatient at the end when I told him I would have to ask my parents for confirmation, and accused me of making the same excuse I used the previous time with his colleagues and that its a 2min job 🥲
They didn't ask me to click on any suspicious links. They only wanted me to open my banking app and customize my debit card and enable online transaction(limits and all) and verify the same(by myself). I accidentally(I was curious) did most of it after disconnecting the call(I don't want to get into any trouble now)
Just marking this late for now. User didn’t answer to my reminder and my message on due date. Yesterday got a message that he was in hospital and doesn’t have access to his banking on paypal (who doesn’t have the apps?). Now has read my reply yesterday but has not answered me.
I’m marking this as late for now and will initiate a paypal dispute + Unpaid post in 10 days to give him a chance to repay it and not ruin his loan history.
A brief background
So, let's sum this up. The origins of cryptocurrency go back as far as 1998 and a computer scientist named Nick Szabo who developed Bit gold but, the actual creation of a viable cryptocurrency was ten years later in 2008, by Satoshi Nakamoto, whose whitepaper outlined how a linear, time-stamped network could fuel a cryptocurrency called Bitcoin.
Thus, the coin/currency/token/digital asset (these terms are interchangeable) is stored on the chain — a distributed ledger. The main feature of true cryptocurrency is that there is no central control over the currency, unlike banks or governments. You do, however, get centralized cryptocurrencies where there is a measure of control exerted. Check out this list of centralized and decentralized crypto. The blockchain and Arbitrum Airdrop
cryptocurrency industry's overall sentiment and purpose are to be a democratic alternative to traditional currency.
The crypto culture
As you dabble and delve into crypto, you will become very aware that there is a strong community backing this new industry. The community has a powerful ethos and purpose related to individual control of their financial destiny and provides financial access to users that may not qualify for traditional financial services.
Decentralized blockchain networks are chains of validation nodes. These nodes are basically stakeholders that verify transactions. There is no central authority, and the system is set up based on parameters determined by the code upon which the blockchain operates. Several blockchains exist, and they have their own currencies — for example, the Ethereum blockchain fuels the ETH cryptocurrency.
It is worth noting the players involved in the cryptocurrency culture or even subculture.
Un-jumbling crypto wallet jargon
Understanding the background, how the tech was built, and who continues to maintain, participate in, grow and invest in the blockchain and cryptosystem should give you an idea of where or how you want to fit in. So whether you aim to mine crypto with the view to becoming a venture capitalist that supports and funds exciting and innovative projects or if you want to simply trade crypto or perhaps yield farm, everyone has to start in the same place — getting the best crypto wallet. Without a crypto wallet, no transactions can be made.
And that is where this list will begin. It will have a dual purpose in that it will offer an explanation for terms and sequentially transport you along your journey for entering the crypto sphere.
1. Decide on a wallet Ï Hardware and software wallets
Hardware wallets are physical storage devices like an advanced USB that stores your currency. A software wallet is basically like online banking. To access your crypto, which can also be called digital assets, you need to provide the private keys which open access to your currency and give you the ability to transact. Ï Custodial and non-custodial wallets
A custodial wallet is usually run by a central or semi-centralized blockchain, just like a traditional bank. A centralized wallet stores your private key and provides backup and security for your crypto. For some starting in crypto, this can be reassuring.
Non-custodial wallets are software wallets to which you are the only one that has the keys to access the data. No one but yourself has custody of this information, so if you lose the private key information, there is no way to recover the wallet's assets.
A non-custodial wallet can be referred to as a Decentralised Finance or DeFi wallet. This is true decentralization of financial power and responsibility.
One of the best Defi wallets on the market is the Eidoo wallet, which gives you access to a full DeFi ecosystem through their DeFi wallet app, which also integrates a DeFi Visa Crypto Card or the eidooCARD. Ï Public and private keys
In case you hadn't realized as yet, keys are special passwords that are cryptographic. There is a public key that is matched with a private key. Whatever is encrypted with a public key can only be decrypted by the private key. When signing up for the wallet of your choice, you will be guided through the process of securing your keys. It is essential to keep the private key somewhere safe. Ï KYC — Know Your Customer
The blockchain and crypto community, as you know now, are driven by decentralization, protecting privacy, and, to some extent, anonymity. For the most part, the community prefers anonymity, but crypto users, when utilizing a crypto wallet, need to verify their identity when interacting with Fiat, for regulatory purposes. The process of verifying your identity is called KYC and is aimed at curbing illegal financial acts like money laundering, tax fraud and financing terrorism or illegal activities.
2. Buy and trade some crypto Ï Transaction fees
Once you have your wallet, you will be able to buy the cryptocurrency of your choice using fiat. Fiat currency is normal traditional money — the currency of where you live. Any transactions conducted have a fee associated with them just as a normal bank but crypto fees are called gas fees. The Gas price is the amount you pay for every unit of gas just like the cost for a liter of petrol for your car.
These fees enable and power the transactions and are usually paid for in the form of a utility token depending on the blockchain — more about that below under tokens.
Different types of transactions require differing amounts of gas depending on the degree of computational difficulty. Also, the term gas limit refers to how much you are willing to spend on a specific transaction, if you don’t specify enough gas the transaction cant be completed and will fail but because work has been done on the transaction the gas you did specify won't be re-imbursed. Ï Exchange
Usually, you will buy or rather exchange your fiat on a crypto exchange. There are several different exchanges — they are the marketplaces where trading currencies happen almost like a stock exchange or changing your Euros into another currency on the forex exchange. It should be noted that there are centralized and decentralized exchanges, and as in the case of the wallets, the former has a central body that controls it. Simultaneously, the latter is distributed to nodes that uphold a central smart contract, which underpins all exchange operations and has been agreed upon by all stakeholders. Ï Types of crypto
There are so many types of cryptocurrencies available. If you are part of any crypto communities on Telegram or follow crypto enthusiasts on Twitter, then knowing what they are generally referring to is very helpful. For example, Altcoin can't, and won't be found on any exchange. It is a collective name for all coins that are not Bitcoin.
Tokens represent a unit or portion of a cryptocurrency and may be considered securities in some jurisdictions depending on the specific rights of the token holder. Typically when a new cryptocurrency is introduced, parties who are funding the new currency are given tokens representing their participation, or investment.
Don't be confused between security tokens and utility tokens. They are different. Utility tokens are designed to enable certain functions on a project or blockchain platform, also referred to as “gas.” Utility tokens are not necessarily backed by any assets and afford you no rights to dividends, shares of a company, or other ownership. Security tokens, however, are a store of value that are often traded, and meeting the “Howie Test,” and can appreciate (or depreciate) giving the owner asset appreciation and returns from investment. Specifically, the Howey Test determines that a transaction represents an investment contract if "a person invests his money in a common enterprise and is led to expect profits solely from the efforts of the promoter or a third party."
Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies that are linked to the price of another asset or group of assets. This lowers volatility in the market, and usually, the assets linked to the stablecoins are established and quite resistant to price fluctuations. Tether, Goldcoin, PAX and Binance USD are some of the most frequently used stablecoins.
3. Spend your crypto
Once you have stepped onto the crypto pitch with your DeFi wallet app accessible or with your crypto debit card in hand, there are many activities you can undertake, and it really is worth exploring the different investment avenues, opportunities, and crypto mining strategies in play. If you have opted for a wallet that exists within an expansive ecosystem like the Eidoo wallet mentioned earlier, you may have to look no further for an exchange and access to other decentralized finance (DeFi) solutions like lending and borrowing.
4. Track your crypto
At this point it is worthwhile investigating Blockchain explorers - a blockchain explorer is like the Google of the crypto world. Blockchain explorers like Etherscan lets you access the details related to your transactions on specific wallet addresses and blockchains. The details include the amount transacted, where the funds came from or went to and their ongoing status. Explorers make crypto more transparent and are very helpful as you can track payments and you investigate different investments and actions that have taken place on the chain.
It is essential to do your research and reach out to the crypto community who can guide you through these processes. Happy spending and hopefully earning too!
Howdy, thought I'd write a fanfic in its purest form. Taking characters which are not mine and bending them to my will.
Ever since Slanek's little dog problem, always wanted him to have a meet up with the honeybadger. So here we are.
Special thanks to u/Banancake
for permission to use Vikri.
Thanks to SP15 for Slanek and the universe.
Warning potential spoilers for Hunting with Predators
As for Slanek, assuming shore leave post successful evac from Sillis.
Thanks for reading.
Memory transcript: Slanek, Venlil Space Corps Date [standardized human time]: December 22, 2136
The sky was grey, with white powder raining relentlessly. Thick snow was piled up on the sides of the road which itself had a fine coat; the layered black lines carved by other traffic the only effort keeping it clear. In this weather they would be quickly erased, leaving the long power cable strung between frequent poles the only indicator of the road’s existence. The UN driver accompanying me had been quiet for a while now, focusing hard ahead, gripping the steering wheel despite the autonomous nature of our ride. All I could do was look out and survey the scenery, trying to calm my beating heart as our destination grew closer.
The landscape was muted in shape by its icy covering, only broken by the dark shapes of imposing trees; sometimes sparse, sometimes grouped to form a forest. Despite their stillness, they put me on edge. There were wolves out there, hiding in their shadows. Dogs were terrifying, despite Marcel’s frequent reminders that they were loyal and would not harm me, I could not shake that fear. But wolves, they were big, they were wild, and they were skilled at the hunt. Their existence would not have been tolerated on any other federation planet. Speh! They shouldn’t be tolerated here.
My concern when voiced was brushed off. Just stay in the car they said. Don’t stray from the town. But I had made the mistake of looking them up on the internet and had seen their hideous form. Compared to the terror of their fangs, this car felt awfully flimsy.
Regret once again began to seep in, but I shook it from my head. I refuse to disappoint Marcel again. Time and again my stupid fear of predators gets in the way. I loved Marcel, I accepted his nature. But that wasn’t enough. Tillis proved I had a long way to go before we could be on equal terms. Once again, he forgave me. Understood me. But surely there is a limit. I can’t rely on his kindness forever. I must be better.
As we drove a green sign caught my eye, standing out against the monotonous background. “HAMILTON 17”
A small town, deep in the wilderness. Since the bombing, it had lost a lot of its population due to the collapse of the supply network. Even those far from the bombing were still turned into refugees. However, it had recently served as a rendezvous point for some survivors from the battle of Earth. One, in particular, I had arranged to see.
Driving through town, it was clear some life had returned to it, though you could hardly call it bustling. A lit window here, a pedestrian there. Cars were few and far between. The house that was our destination was on the outskirts, part of the last remnants before the wilderness began. Why would a venlil choose to live in such a dangerous place like this? Is this not the definition of straying from town? A month ago I would have diagnosed this guy with predator disease but now I knew that to be somewhat ignorant. Stars, according to Marcel, I would have predator disease. That label stung, though I couldn’t dismiss it. But I wasn’t broken, was I? Defective? Surely not. Not to him at least. No, I was the best venlil, his words. ‘bout time I actually lived up to that high praise.
Upon pulling up at the house, a venlil came out to greet us. I was thankful to see that his…companion was elsewhere, hopefully secure. His tail curled around him slightly with unease though his ears were relaxed, dipping slightly to acknowledge my approach.
“Greetings Vikri, I’m Slanek. Thank you for agreeing to meet with me,” I gave a respectful ear flick in greeting.
“The pleasure is mine,” he replied, returning the greeting, his lips parting slightly revealing teeth though they were quickly hidden. “I am honoured to meet someone of your acclaim.” Acclaim? Me? “Sorry you had to come all this way but I’m reluctant to travel with her at the moment.”
His companion was why I was here, but to hear such casual reference to it was discomforting. I felt my ears press against my head in response, consciously moving them back to a neutral position.
“Would you like to come in?” He moved to open the door.
“Is…she…” I stammered. He gave a reassuring tail wag.
“She’s in the barn over there,” he said gesturing to a large wooden building some distance away. “Thought we might want to take this slowly. I know how terrifying dogs can be.” He gave a shudder.
Wait, he was scared of dogs too? This doesn’t make any sense. Didn’t he have predator’s disease?
“You’re scared of her?” I asked, incredulous.
“Not now, no. But I was. Terrified.” He looked out to the woods. “We were hunted by them you know. Wolves. Lucky was one of them.” His arms and tail wrapped around his body. “They are terrifying. Their persistence, their violence. They attacked my friends. Nearly ripped their arm off…I can still hear his screaming. See the blood.”
I was at a loss for words
“Why did I befriend her?” He laughed softly. “It’s a long story. Come in. Are you familiar with human tea?”
“I have heard of it,” I replied, moving past him into the building and out of the cold.
The room I entered was sparsely decorated, the furnishings that did fill the meagre space were mismatched and well-worn, with most being of wooden construction. On one wall was what appeared to be a strayu forge constructed of brick, though its opening was at ground level and covered with a metal plate adorned with simple imprints of Terran animals. I sat on a chair made of wood and cloth, perched upon two wooden arches that were unstable by design. Without care it would rock violently, risking the contents of the hot cup handed to me. Vikri occupied the only other chair in the room, notable for having a more respectable 4 legs.
“Have you seen humans hunt?” Vikri asked too casually, causing me to fumble the cup of steaming red liquid I was bringing to my lips. A scorching drop hit my leg.
“Uh, p-persistance hunting correct? Sounds terrifying,” I stammered, rubbing the sore, damp spot on my thigh.
“Not always,” he spoke steadily. “They are…adaptive. Tell me, how do you picture them, as they prepare to kill?”
The image of sharp teeth penetrated my head, moist lips drawn up in a snarl. Their binocular eyes locked on the living creature with hunger as it desperately tried to avoid its gruesome fate. I shook my head to clear it. These visions had finally disappeared after spending so long with Marcel. Why would Vikri reconjure them?
“Fearsome,” I replied. “Delighting in the hunt…like the Arxur.” Even though they still chose to eat meat, I’m glad they had done away with this savage past. Growing it was not dissimilar to plant farming in execution, though the mere thought of it still turned my stomach.
He nodded slowly, staring at me in the eye. A very human gesture.
“Yes, that’s what I expected too. Surely a people built around death would delight in it no?” His gaze softened. “But when the moment came, they were afraid. No blood lust, no savagery. Only quiet resolve” Vikri’s eyes broke contact as he reminisced. “I was scared too. But for them. They needed to do this to survive, and I feel that was the only reason they persevered.”
“You saw them hunt?” I interjected. His ears flicked the affirmative.
“And cook. And eat. It was necessary.” He appeared to study his drink. “But the meat, they enjoyed it. That was confronting. A part of me hoped they wouldn’t. But who was I to speak out against their simple pleasures in the snow and ice. After all they’d done for me.”
“I came to understand the hunters, but that means nothing when you are the prey. Wolfs set upon us, hunting us for hours. Their attacks viscous. Humans were one thing, but these were monsters. It was everything we were taught about predators and more.” He shuddered again.
“In the attack, many were injured. Quarek lost use of his arm. Tenga received life-threatening injuries too.”
I recognised Querek’s name but “Tenga?”
“Uh, he’s a…he was my human. If you understand.” I did.
“We killed a lot of them too, and good riddance I thought. But even after we escaped one kept following. If we had the rounds to spare I would have asked it be shot. But Tenga, he wasn’t like me. He pitied it. She was only trying to survive, like us, he said. Imagine that.” He scoffed. “Compassion for the predators that almost killed you… But he wasn’t wrong.”
“The dog just kept on following us. Devouring any snacks we threw her way but never attacking. It was stressful but if Tenga said she was safe, then I could only believe him. She apparently wanted a pack and the humans welcomed her. Named her Lucky.”
“I was still nervous but then we got attacked by an even bigger predator. A bear. It had me trapped and Lucky ran in to protect me. That dog chose me as someone she needed to protect. How could I dismiss her after that?” He stood up and walked to the window, staring at the barn in the distance. “She’s my partner now. As silly as that sounds. Part of my herd.” He turned back to me, his tail flicking in excitement, his ears showing apprehension. “So, do you still want to meet her?”
Walking through the snow was an odd sensation. It stuck to my legs and penetrated my fur. My feet were quickly sapped of their heat but at least the air temperature was quite tolerable. My posture was hunched with my tail curled around me, but not from the cold.
Vikri ambled ahead, an ever so slight limp to his gait but otherwise confident, a small pouch was attached to a strap around his waist. It wasn’t long before we stood before imposing wooden doors. I heard a faint scratching and panting from the other side.
“I’ll go in first and keep her calm. I’ll call you when we’re ready.” With familiarity, he unlatched the door and cracked it open. A moist snout quickly appeared through the gap which he gently redirected inside before squeezing himself in.
“Good girl, good girl. We’re going to meet a friend so best behaviour alright.”
The sound of panting intensified as I heard movement from within.
“Ok, when you are ready,” he called out.
With tentative movements I approached the gap, squeezing my head in to survey.
Next to Vikri sat a fearsome creature reaching up to his chest in height, covered in gray and white fur. Its maw hung open showing its moist pink tongue and many sharp teeth. The only thing restraining it was a thin strap held firmly in Vikri’s paws.
“Arf!” it barked.
I stumbled backwards, falling into the snow. The impact sent sharp pains through my injured shoulder, a seeping cold reaching my rear.
“You okay?” A concerned voice called out.
“Ah, yes, I’m fine. Ju-just stay in there okay,” I whimpered. Get a hold of yourself Slanek! You’ve faced down arxur for stars sake.
Gingerly righting myself, I approached again. With a few deep breaths, I shut my eyes and hastily stepped into the barn, closing the door behind me. No retreat!
Upon opening my eyes, I was greeted by the sight of the pair in the same position I left them.
“Just walk up to me Slanek. You’re completely safe,” Vikri encouraged, gently stroking the dogs head. The dog’s eyes remained locked on me.
Alright, confidence soldier. Forward march.
Keeping them both in focus I approached, the dog pivoting its head as it tracked me.
Reaching Vikri I froze. I could touch the dog if I wanted.
“Okay, reach out and place your paw on the back of her neck,” Vikri prompted.
I slowly complied, gently making contact with the dogs fur. It was coarser than I expected. As I dug in deeper I could feel the body heat. The dog craned its head back to look at me, making a quiet whine in their throat.
“Very good, she likes it. You can touch her head too.”
I moved my hand up, the softness of the scruff giving way to the more solid bone. Their ears depressed slightly as I pushed them down, but I was very gentle, ears could be sensitive. I was resting my hand on the top of a predator’s head, just above their golden binocular eyes that were staring into mine. I was ok.
“Good girl,” I said tentatively. I caught Vikri’s approving tail flick.
“Want to hold the leash?” he offered. “Take her for a walk.”
This was progressing fast. Could I control a predator?
“I’ll try.” Vikri pressed the strap in my hand and took half a step away.
Despite the slackness in the strap, the dog remained seated, her head snapping to follow her master.
“Up!” he said, and she rose to all fours. “Good girl,” he praised, pulling a small item from his pouch and offering it to her with open paw. The dog moved towards him, jolting my arm slightly as I moved to follow. Their pink tongue shot out and secured the morsel, their jaws closing and chewing with an audible crunch.
“Is that bone?” I asked, disgusted.
“Just a biscuit,” he replied, offering one to me. I grabbed it and on inspection, it was a small dry square that was a dark red colour. It appeared to have been baked hard, but not so much that it couldn’t be broken by teeth.
“It does contain meat though, so don’t eat it.” I felt my stomach shift, as I held it as far away from me as possible, barely resisting the urge to throw it away. The dog saw this as an opportunity and deftly snatched it from my paw before I could even register what was happening. Crunch, crunch
All that remained was a slightly damp patch on my pad as a shiver went up my arm and resonated throughout my body.
“All right! Let’s go!” Vikri headed towards the door, his tail wagging in amusement. Lucky followed him, dragging me stumbling behind. The answer was no. I could not control a predator.
Vikri walked with purpose, casually waving greetings to anyone we passed, be they in car or on foot. Lucky paced along beside him with me on her other flank, the leash slack between us. He was in a different league from me in embracing human customs, even after I had come so far with Marcel. A feeling of defeat crept in, but I kept it at bay. I was expecting this. It was why I had pursued this meeting.
The fallen snow thickened and the thinning signs of civilisation fell behind us, trees becoming more common. This was definitely straying out of town.
“Aren’t there wolves out here?” I asked nervously, ears high and alert.
“Not this close to town. To many humans,” he replied matter of fact. “Just wild enough to have fun.” He stopped, surveying the surroundings. “Want to set her loose?”
“Huh?” He gestured to lucky with his tail.
“Unclip her leash and let her frolic,” he clarified. What a terrifying notion, but if I didn’t trust him what was the point of me coming? My paws fumbled with the mechanism attaching the leash to her collar, eventually disconnecting it. For a few seconds she sat there, indifferent to the lack of restraint until Vikri gave her an energetic pat.
“Go!” he barked, and a grey-white blur shot off into the snow, remarkably quiet considering the speed. Suddenly she faltered, tumbling into a bank, sending white powder flying. Rolling around to right herself, she sped off again until she found another suitable snow bank to throw herself into. Vikri watched on with a relaxed expression.
“Care to join her?” He asked. I marked my incredulity to him, but he dismissed it. With a loud yelp he ran after her, throwing himself into a previously disturbed snow pile. Instantly the dog was upon him, digging and barking, Vikri’s limbs flailing as he contended with his attacker. My heart leapt into my throat as the nightmare unfolded. Reaching instinctively for my sidearm, my fear began to turn to panic on realisation it wasn’t there. What do I do? Run? No! I’ve got to help. But how? I was frozen.
After a short tussle, Vikri easily pushed her off, sending her running in another direction. The now patchy white venlil returned to my side, breathing heavily.
“She’s so full of energy,” he wheezed, ignoring my frozen expression of terror.
“You’re incredible,” I responded, trying to regain my composure. To shrug off an attack like that. Even if Marcel did something similar to me I fear how I’d react, and I knew him to be sapient and kind.
“Hardly,” he dismissed, “I’ve just had to learn.” He took a moment to catch his breath.
“Thank you for coming Slanek.” His sudden gratitude caught me off-guard. “It means a lot.”
“You’re the one helping me,” I reminded.
“Yes, but you reached out. To a broken venlil like me.” He looked at me and bared his teeth in an attempt at a human smile.
“You’re held in high regard, it’s how I heard about you.”
“By humans maybe,” he clarified. “Doubt most venlil will be understanding. Only the bravest.” He nudged me with his tail.
“Marcel seems to think I have predator disease, so I don’t think anything I do should give you much comfort,” I confessed.
“Do you think you have predator disease?” he asked, staring at me.
“No…I… uh…it’s complicated. I thought it. I was normal, I think.” He didn’t break his gaze. There was a pit in my stomach, Marcel’s recent criticisms stinging anew.
“I don’t know anymore. I want to believe I’m the same, normal venlil that left Venlil Prime, but I know that can’t be true. It hurts.”
Vikri stopped staring, focusing more on the dog as it played.
“I always thought it was something you were born with, a defect,” he paused. “Now I fear it’s more a contagion.”
“Exterminators were always concerned about predator corruption spreading,” I added, images from Tillfish flamethrowers worming their way into my head. “Hang with predators and you’re bound to catch something.”
“Do you think I have predator disease?” He asked. Despite the seriousness of tone, it almost made me smile. That was my diagnosis from the start. But maybe not the worst thing.
“It colours your fur. Too much human’s rubbed off on you.” This time I gave him a playful nudge. Despite my indication of joking, Vikri remained pensive, still just watching for the dog. Trying to catch his eye, I flicked an apology, “Sorry, I don’t think you’re sick…really.”
“No, no,” he responded, moving an eye back to me. “To be honest I want that. To acknowledge them changing me and all. Otherwise, what was the point?” His gaze drifted back to Lucky. “No, I am different now. He changed me and I can never go back. It’s all I have left of him now anyway.” The last part almost disappeared into a whisper. I sidled up to him in support, wrapping my tail around his. I felt sick at the sorrow he must be experiencing, for it was what I feared most.
“I’m sure he’s proud of what you’ve become.” I encouraged.
“Un” Vikri gave an affirmative flick.
“Raising a dog for star’s sake. He’d definitely think you are the best venlil.”
“And for the little it’s worth, I do too.” He didn’t respond directly to that one, but he did press in closer.
“I do miss my old life though,” he continued after some time, his voice recovering. “Though I don’t think I’ll ever go back to Prime. Not with her.”
I shrugged. “There are currently thousands of humans on Prime. We can only pray to the stars that predator disease is as contagious as we’ve experienced,” I chuckled softly.
“Wouldn’t that be something,” he mused.
I was hopeful. Humans had lived up to our greatest fears. They were manipulative, changing whatever they touched to their own ideal. And stars if they weren’t persistent. Once you were their prey, they would not stop until they had you. The evidence was here. Two venlil, standing on an alien world, happily watching an apex predator play before us. Changed forever by the nature of predators.