Tutorials for absolute beginners of Reddit and how to get the most out of it.
Red, Green, Yellow, Orange or Blue. Tomatoes can be found in every color and many different shapes. Discovering and Sharing these is the matter of TheSecretTomato 🤫 🍅
The colors, they won't Bright, bea t ful c l rs Flash ng, exp nd ng, piercing Red, green, blue An ndless CACOPHONY Of meaningless noise
The noise, it won't STOP. Viol nt, grating w vef rms Sq e king, screech ng, piercing SINE, COSINE, TANGENT Like play ng a ch lkboard on a t rntable Like playing a KNIFE on a BREATHING RIBCAGE n ndl ss p m Of m n ngl ss\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n Delete Her """
Hi all. I just got the gen 1 Pokémon games on my 3DS before the shop closes tomorrow for posterity and specifically to get my favorite Pokémon, Mew, transferable to my bank for later gens.
I know it’s possible to get a glitched Mew in all the gen 1 games, but it’s slightly different processes to change my trainer ID and to duplicate the Mew.
What is the easiest/least complicated process to get the correct trailer ID and then clone the Mews? My current thought is that I should get it on yellow with the proper ID and then trade it to Red/Blue on a second 3ds to do the duplication glitch.
Is that the fastest/easiest way? Thanks!
I always find other people's controversial/hot takes interesting, so here are a few of mine! Again these are my opinions so feel free to disagree and discuss below.
A couple of my hot takes:
- Sneeg will be the top frag on Orange - All of Cyan gets top 17, with Pete and PPK in the top 10. Pearl gets 11th missing the top 10 by less than 15 coins - Blue gets top 3 in every team game( 1st in GR, 3rd in SOT and 2nd in BM if its finished) - Green gets top 2 in every PvP game, but bottom 2 in every team game - Red misses db by less than 70 coins - Jojo and Grian both get top 10 - Green gets 6th place, falling from 3rd after an SOT finale(sound familiar?)
So my day 1 joycons both last as long as they should. both around 20 hours.
I recently got a new set of joyvons. the neon green and neon pink ones. I instantly noticed the left one (the green one) had a much shorter battery life than the right one. the right one surpasses it by a MILE. what can i do about this? i already sent it to nintendo and they put a new battery in it, tested the new battery ane concluded it now works correctly...but the battery life is just the same. it's the exact same, no chnage at all and the right one can go for many more hours before it gives its first low battery notification. i contacted nintendo again and they said it worked correctly now and that if i still experience issues i have to send it in again. At this point i was kind of done with it all, and sent back a rather spicy mail. Because...the battery life is the same...they first admit it was an issue before..now it still has the same battery life as before but now they say it's fine? they said the red one has higher battery capacity due to ir..which seels contradicting unless they gave it a stronger battery..but why do my day 1 joycons both outlast the green one? aren't joycons supposed to have 20 hours of life each? my left one has 13 at most!
Does anyone know what i can do?
Vaguely remember that the main characters were these 3 siblings who actually go out on the missions.
The youngest brother will go out in a red jet where the cockpit is at the tip of the nose but can rotate towards the body of the plane.
The Oldest brother and middle sister go out in this bigger container-type craft which is mainly white with blue trims(?)
Sometimes the sister launches in a smaller yellow machine thingy from inside the bigger ship/jet thingy.
I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to think
even. Emily knows my biological mom?
“Why didn’t you tell me before?” I asked.
Emily’s smile was as thin as ice. “I didn’t think you were ready. Now you are.”
“Ready for what?”
“You’ll know soon enough. Sleep tight, Skye. You have to go to school tomorrow.”
I couldn’t sleep. All I saw, in my nightmares and painted on the ceiling, was Alfie’s face. He whispered my name while I dreamed and wriggled into my happiest memories. I woke up screaming as his body twisted and swelled. We will meet again.
Alfie hissed through a series of clicks.
It was too quiet when I woke up the next morning. I was used to Emily yelling for me to wake up for school or my dad rushing to get dressed for work and brushing his teeth or the smell of burned bacon and pancakes and eggs down from the kitchen. Or at the very least Alfie ringing my ears off to tell me he was waiting too long outside.
But the silence whispered through the halls, sneaking into my room and tickling my heart. I rubbed my eyes and sat with my knees tucked against my chest, watching the sun rise. The sky was lit in gold as the darkness slithered away, but it was as if dawn had never arrived at all.
I got dressed and headed downstairs. At that point I realised exactly why
the house was so quiet and my heart stopped cold.
Most of the stuff we owned was packed up into boxes; and anything that was too big was covered by translucent tarps. Emily and my dad were huddled together in the kitchen. They looked so lost, so hollow, like they’d just come back from Alfie’s funeral and had not stopped crying since.
“Hey morning,” I said tersely.
“Morning,” Emily said. She still wasn’t looking at me. “Did you sleep well or do you still look like a panda bear?”
“Ha ha.” I made myself some coffee. It tasted like muddy water.
Emily looked at the clock. “You better hurry up or you’ll be late for school, Sleepy Skye.”
“But—” The night before was still spinning in my mind. Questions bubbled to the back of my throat, dying on my lips.
Emily placed a hand on my shoulder.
“Don’t worry, Skye. I’ll explain more later when the time is right.”
School felt like forever. All of my classes passed in a blur. Everyone avoided me like the plague, and whispered behind their hands when I walked past. I didn’t really care. I rested my head on my hands and wished Alfie was here. Whispering that everything would be okay. Creak
When the last bell rang I plodded through the halls. The chatter around me had blended into a monotonous stream of nothing. I looked around me and saw Alfie’s face around me, in the couples making out near the lockers, in the teenagers huddled together like penguins.
My heart ached again. Alfie…
My dad’s van was waiting for me at the school entrance, coughing up smoke like an old, retired dragon. It was jammed full of boxes and things wrapped in bubble paper. I was surprised it could even move a centimetre
without something breaking inside.
“Hop in Skye,” said my dad, poking his head out of one window.
“Um, where are we going?”
“To my old place,” Emily explained, poking her head out of the other window. “I—we
—thought it would be good for you, for…for the both of us.”
“After…after…y’know.” Alfie died.
The wind was still once more, as if mourning over him in its deep grief too. I crumbled against the side of the van, letting hot tears stream down my cheeks. Alfie…
Without a word more I climbed into the van and my dad sped off immediately. I gazed outside the window, watching country roads blend into billboards and highways, and let the van rock me into a soothing sleep. “We’re here. Wake up, Sleepy Skye.”
Emily’s house, as it turned out, was a two-storey monster tucked away from the heart of the city. The paint was peeling away and the bricks underneath were slick with slime. Mold crawled between the bricks and stayed there, dying the house green. I turned away and nearly threw up.
“This way,” Emily said, climbing a set of stairs. It was really dark, and everything was covered in shadow. The only source of light was a small Gothic window that shone through the gloom in a weak white arm. Set at the side of the stairwell was a black iron door. I started towards it, but Emily glared at me, so I abandoned the door and followed her.
The second floor was surprisingly well-kept. The floors were swept and the walls clean of dust. Picture frames depicting bugs and scarabs hung onto the wall, polished until it shone. There was even a pot of tea on the table.
“Knock yourself out,” Emily said as she collapsed onto the couch. She closed her eyes.
“Make yourself at home.”
“It stinks,” I observed, wrinkling my nose.
In fact it was the worst stink I had ever smelled in my life. It tore through the walls and floors like it was made of paper and I gagged. I sprinted to the window, stuck my head out and breathed in relief.
Emily raised an eyebrow.
“There’s some…construction going on downstairs,” she explained. “We just got here, so bear with it a little longer, okay Skye?”
“Yeah,” I choked. My eyes were watering. If I could see the smell it would be a big black cloud hovering in the air, howling and shaking in its stinky fury.
“Can I explore the city? I need some fresh air.”
“Go ahead,” Emily said, turning away. “Just be back for dinner.”
I nodded. I had never sprinted out of my old house so fast in my life, rubbing my smarting eyes. Even at the distance I could smell it, and once again I felt like throwing up.
After some time I slowed to a walk and really started to look around. It wasn’t much of a city—and it also wasn’t much of a town—but somewhere in between. It was getting quite late in the day with the sun streaming slowly in from the west, but the town felt…alive in a way. Shopkeepers hollered their wares from the inside of their ornate walls, and people were strolling on the streets, their arms interlocked laughing and whistling.
I tried not to think of Alfie.
A couple of blocks away I saw a large diner, its neon sign beckoning me inside. Getting closer I could smell heaven: char-grilled meats, fresh cakes and cookies, and something else in a fryer or oven.
My stomach growled. I wiped off my drool with my sleeves.
Pushing the door open, I went in.
The diner was abuzz with chatter and laughter; people were toasting each other with glasses of beer and ale. Yet everything died the moment I came in. Time stood still; heads swiveled to look at me and a collective gasp rose from the frozen crowd. I felt like an animal in a zoo as I navigated through the chaos and found a table to sit.
“Don’t mind ‘em.”
The speaker was a living Popeye, with a big, floppy nose and bigger arms that bulged with muscles and fat and a tattoo of a beetle instead of an anchor. He was wearing a greasy, bloody apron and a cap that was too small for a nest of blonde hair.
“It’s been a while since we had anyone new around here. Thirteen years, in fact. Also, hold on…”
He squinted hard at me, his eyes moving from my head down to my legs.
“Are you Skye?”
Goosebumps pricked my skin once more. I looked outside and realised the wind had once again stood still.
“Yes! How do you know?”
The man opposite me thought for a moment, then shouted something to the kitchens. Then he sat down opposite me and grinned, revealing yellowed teeth.
“Your stepmom talks about you a lot. She adores you, you know.”
He cupped my head in his hands and brushed a lock of hair off my head. Tears welled in his eyes.
“You look a lot like your mom. Same face, same eyes.”
He knocked on my face like it was a piece of wood.
“Rock solid too.”
My hair stood up on my skin as I stared straight into the eyes of this man who I just met.
“Y-you know my biological mom too?”
The man’s smile grew even wider. “Let’s just say…kind of.”
He extended his hand. “I’m sorry I haven’t introduced myself earlier. Call me Mr Lancaster. I’m the owner here.”
“I’m pleased to meet you too,” I replied, shaking his hand.
“Boss? Everything is ready.”
One of the waiters skidded to a halt near our table. He was a handsome youth—freckles and curly red hair. He held out a huge plastic bag to me.
Mr Lancaster smiled at me in a way that made my heart melt.
“Fish and chips. And I threw in some strawberry milkshakes as well. It’s one of our best dishes on the menu. Emily is always going on and on about how crazy you are for ‘em.”
“Wow! Thank you Mr Lancaster!”
“It’s on the house too. A welcome gift from me. Tell your stepmom she doesn’t have to pay back a single cent.”
He glanced out at the darkening sky, sweat mopping his brow.
“You better be going now. It’s getting late. See you soon, Skye. You’re always welcome here.”
And with that, he practically shoved me out of the door.
The bell tinkled as I stumbled onto the street, nearly tripping over the food. It was really heavy, mind you. Like a thousand dumb-bells made out of solid gold. By the time I reached my flat my arms ached.
I dropped the takeaway on the floor and sat down on one of the stairs to rest. The sun had completely set at this point; long, thin shadows crawled across the wall to the corners. Soon I was plunged in darkness. I could barely see my hand in front of my face.
My vision suddenly cleared, and I realised I could see. Somehow. Dark shapes shifted and twisted before my eyes, but I could still make out details of every brick, every scratch on the stairs and wall. The takeaway sat untouched before me.
It was like looking through an extremely grainy CCTV.
BANG BANG BANG!
As the bangs echoed throughout the hallway I froze, the excitement of my discovery gone.
BANG BANG BANG!
My name was shouted with great abandon, the call tinged with sorrow and pain. I inched closer and realised that it was coming from the iron door.
Whoever was calling me was thrashing against the door, making the hinges shake. I backed away, my heart in my throat. All the hair on my skin was standing up straight.
BANG BANG BANG!
The stink slapped me in the face, making my nose itch. My eyes didn’t leave the door as I scrambled up the stairs to the main apartment, leaving everything in the dust.
It was only when I slammed the door behind me and sprinted down the hallway to my bedroom did I realise I forgot the takeaway still sitting at the bottom of the stairs.
Oh well I told myself, trying to calm my shaking heart. I can go back in a few minutes.
I’m sure Emily and Dad won’t mind.
The city had fallen asleep. The hustle and bustle seemed to have vanished with the last of the sun. The streets were illuminated faintly with lamps that shone like a halo. My room looked like it belonged in a horror movie.
I lay on my bed for a while, squeezing my eyes shut and listening to my heart beat. The screams had long died down, but I somehow heard them long and clear in my mind, as if blasted by an invisible loudspeaker.
Low and loud, like a foghorn from a ship lost at sea.
“Shut up!” I screamed, my eyes welling with tears. I curled up in a ball and squeezed my head with my pillow. Even then the screams rammed against the sides of my head, over and over again, and I was dizzy from the pain.
Eventually I got out of bed and wandered throughout the house, hoping for something to distract myself from the eternal noise. The apartment was shaded in the same grainy darkness, except for the dining-room, which was glowing invitingly like a crackling campfire. Something clanged and tinkled. Cutlery probably. Either Emily or my dad setting the table. My stomach grumbled. The smell from the diner was making me hungry.
I started towards the dining room but then I heard it. A strange chitter-chatter. Like crickets, even though we lived so far from nature.
It was coming from the pictures hanging on the wall.
I hadn’t paid much attention to them when I first came in, but now it was drawing me closer like a moth to a flame. The bugs chittered again, and their legs twisted and struggled, almost like it was dancing. Looking closer, I realised that all the pictures depicted the same figure. A woman in various poses with the head of a bug with too-large eyes. She was wearing a dress that shone like fire and was glaring at the camera.
I clapped my hand over my mouth. I didn’t know where that came from. I looked nothing like her. I didn’t know her. It was my first time seeing her.
No, no, no! I’m mad! I must be going mad! It’s the screams, I thought, the screams were driving me cuckoo! Making me think crazy thoughts!
I forced myself to look away and shove those thoughts out of my mind. I didn’t know what to believe anymore.
“Skye? Dinner time!”
Emily’s calls broke through the confusing mess in my head. I was grateful that she came to my rescue. Glancing back at the photo of my mum (no, she isn’t! How can I be related to…that?), I scurried down the hallway and into the dining room.
Emily had saved the takeaway.
It sat between us on the newly-dusted table. Emily pulled out foil containers and set one each before me and my dad.
“Mr Lancaster called about the fish and chips,” she explained. “He was delighted to have met you, Skye.”
She ruffled my hair, and chuckled as she handed me a strawberry milkshake. “But it looked like his little delivery girl got cold feet on her first order, eh?”
“Emily!” I groaned. I took a long sip and licked my lips. The milkshake was delicious. Rich, creamy and filled with enough sugar to make my insulin go straight into overdrive.
“Hey,” I noted, sitting down after a while. The pure sweetness of that drink was enough to make my head spin. “Mr Lancaster made some extra fish and chips.”
And it stank too. Almost as much as whatever is behind that iron door.
“Oh, that’s nothing,” Emily said quickly, sweeping the bag off the table and rushing it to the kitchen. “Mr Lancaster always makes me extra. He knows I’m always hungry after midnight!”
I chuckled nervously, feeling the weight of my worries lift off my shoulders. Emily did eat a lot after midnight. A couple of times I had spotted her sneaking to the living room with the television on and a bag of chips.
Yet this particular container stuck out like a sore thumb. Not just the smell, or how big it was compared to the others, but…but, was it me or was it glowing?
I buried that thought into the deepest recesses of my mind. No. I had enough wild and crazy thoughts and visions for one night.
Succumbing to them was not what Alfie would have wanted.
That was not what any of us would have wanted.
Once we had finished dinner, I helped to clear the table and wash the cutlery. Emily turned to me and said:
“I’ve got some things to do tonight. Take care, Skye, and take care of your dad.”
“He does not look well.”
Sick actually. Dad looked like he was going to throw up. He staggered to the couch and passed out on the leather. I couldn’t help but pity him. Fifty-six years old, and all that oil into the fish and chips was not doing his heart any good.
“I’ll look after him,” I promised.
“Good girl.” Emily gave me another thin smile. She pulled on a jacket—a black jacket with a golden rim—and gave me a kiss on my forehead.
“I won’t be long.”
Emily strode out of the house, taking the last box of fish and chips with her. There was something clinking in her pocket, like suits or armor banging together. And just as she stepped out of the front door, she pulled out that something from her pocket. I only saw it for a brief second, but it was enough to make my heart race.
It was a key. But not just any key.
This one was black. Like evil. Like ash. Like the iron door.
It smirked at me as it hid back in her pocket. A shiver ran up my spine.
“Is there a problem, Skye?”
“Yeah. I wanna ask you something.”
I took a deep, shaky breath. There was a lump in my throat and my heart was beating way too fast.
“The iron door on the first floor…what’s behind it?”
“It’s nothing, Skye,” Emily said. Her eyes darted to somewhere behind me and fixed on one of the bug women. “Just some of my old stuff, y’know? From before I met your dad?”
“Now I have to go. I’ll be late otherwise. I’ll see you later, okay Skye?”
I swallowed as I watched her leave. Uncertainty still sat tight in my stomach, wound up like a spring, and wouldn’t let go.
“Dad? You okay?”
No response. My dad was out like a light.
Then his eyes shot open.
They got bigger and bigger. I saw each individual vein popping out and weaving into each other like mini spider webs.
Then it bulged and swelled. His head enlarged to accommodate it.
Chills shot down my spine as I realised exactly what was going on.
Click click click.
His lips split and burst into mandibles. I scrambled over and held his hand.
“Don’t do this to me. Don’t be like Alfie.”
I was crying. I was shaking. Oh god, I was shaking so bad it felt like I was in an earthquake.
Click click click
I scrambled over and held his hand. It only seemed to make it worse, however. I watched as it shrank and turned black and folded into itself.
“Dad! Fight it!”
He hunched over and coughed out so much more blood.
Ack ack ack
His spine was curving over and hardening into a black shell. I dropped his hand and backed away into a corner, my face white.
Ack ack ack.
The floor was blooming. Grass spread thin like a carpet and tall trees grew. I saw red flowers explode onto new branches, like a bundle of fireworks.
My dad clicked and clacked, as if enjoying the new scenery.
My skin was crawling. Literally. I looked down and saw bumps pulsing beneath the folds, marching along to my heartbeat. Then it broke and a cockroach popped out. It took a deep breath, bowed, clicked and clacked in the same rhythm as my dad’s—slow and steady, a pulse—
And I SWEAR I heard the cockroach say:
I screamed. It bounced off new grass and fresh flora.
I’m really going mad now.
I pinched myself, wondering if I was living in some kind of nightmare. But I wasn’t. It was as real as the still lights from the street lamps shining in through the window.
More cockroaches were spilling out from my skin like a dam left unchecked. My dad looked at me inquisitively. Cement was quickly turning into dirt.
My thoughts were clambering over each other as I squatted, paralysed in my corner, watching the cockroaches with my mouth open. My dad—no longer human—crawled into the walls and towards me. Staring at the roaches and slowly reaching out to them. They squeaked and climbed over him.
This was too much. I did the only thing I could think of.
My phone was butter in my hands. My vision blurred and I kept on punching in the wrong numbers.
Thankfully, Emily answered the phone on the first ring.
I took a deep breath and screamed into the receiver. My voice was shaking so bad I was surprised I could say anything at all.
The sun is up around the forest in the Forest of Tar. I have been here for quite a while, although it is unlucky you could see me. I’m on the floor, as most people are. I do not know how I got here in the first place, or to be perfectly honest, why I’m here. I was walking for my home, it was so windy I nearly flew away, I had a bad trip so I needed to fix that, I was going to cook something up, I’m usually good at that. Once I did, and made the substance at home with my body, I woke up here.
I was confused and petrified, naturally. The trees were bone white with gaping holes in the centre of their body, oozing out of it was thick tar. Their roots had an odd, uncanny glow to them as if the surrounding blackness gave the trees confidence in something. Something I do not know. The sky was an eerie red, a limbo of red and yellow, I tried turning my throbbing head and aching stomach to see what was behind me and it was just more tar. The entire floor was encompassed with tar. I did try to walk but my feet would not emerge from the floor, and that was when I looked down.
Eyes. Eyes with pupils enlarged to a horrifying size that I could not see the iris. They just stared at me. Until I suddenly fell and sharp white-hot agonising pain came to my feet as I now understand that they had been cut off. Before that, I did feel a greasy surface which I can safely assume were teeth. And I would equally assume that they were huge enough to cut my feet off.
The sun shone. I think it still is. I can feel its rays burning my back. Instinctively I tried to crawl. I felt incredibly thirsty so I went to one of the holes in the trees to get a drink of tar. I even heard a voice telling me to “drink the tar, it will heal you.” So I did. I got my hands out and saw the black viscous liquid encompass my hand, slobbering, I shoved the hands into my short mouth. And I stuffed, gagged more till my skinny stomach became round and plumb, I think some started to leak out of my skin, and more until I couldn’t fill myself and I fell on the ground.
Now I have Tar all the time. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Why should I complain about anything else? I’ve finally got my fix.
As stated in the title, I can't understand why math seems so hard for LLMs.
In many senses, math is a language. Large LANGUAGE Models are tailored to languages.
Even if LLMs don't "understand math", when they are trained on enough data that states 2+2=4 they should be able to predict that after "2+2=" comes "4" with an overwhelming probability.
Furthermore, all math problems can be expressed in language and vice versa, so if 2+2=4 is hard, "two plus two equals four", shouldn't. LLMs should even be able to pick up on maths logic through stories. The SEVEN Dwarfs, "TWENTY-EIGHT days later", "Tom and Ida are going to the market to buy apples, Tom buys two green apples and Ida buys three red apples, how many apples do they have? What do you think kids? Let me tell you, the answer is five, they have five apples.", ... .
I am no expert on the issue, but from a lay perspective, I just don't get it.
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.