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My one-year anniversary of Intuitive Eating. TL;DR: Keep going, this fight is worth it!

Minor TW size/weight mentioned.
I’m a frequent poster so likely you’ve already read bits and pieces of this story! But I really want to throw down the whole thing here, just on the off-chance I can inspire one single person to keep going and not give up.
One year ago yesterday, I fell hard and sprained the shit out of my ankle while on a punishment run. I was running a 10km trail to punish myself for the excess calories after my 5-year old daughter’s birthday party; the cherry on top of 20+ years of obsessive dieting and over-exercising. I won’t dive too deep into this, because I know all of you that are here will get it. Food and diet owned my thoughts; my day was determined to be bad or good by whether the scale was up or down in the morning. It was hateful. It ruined some of the best moments of my life - beach vacations, parties, dinners with friends where I couldn’t stop thinking about what I looked like and comparing myself with others relentlessly.
Anyways, I reached a fork in the road on October 28th, 2019, where I was either going to descend fully into a full-blown eating disorder, or I was going to fix this shit once and for all. With two young daughters, I think I finally had the reason I’d needed to escape the self-imposed loathing and hell of dieting.
I came across IE accidentally and connected with the concept instantly. Devoured the books and dove into “eat all the things” mode. Lemme tell ya, this part was messy. I ate allllllll the things. For six whole weeks I ate basically nothing but carbs. Even the sight of vegetables made me gag, after 20 years of force-feeding them to myself. I ate whole meals at 10pm, in order to fully process my restrictive thoughts around “going to bed hungry”. Of course, I gained some weight pretty rapidly, at least 30lbs. I don’t know the actual number because I haven’t weighed myself in a whole fucking year! Omg. That’s wild.
So anyways, after this phase things leveled out into this calm space. I would not have got there without my coach, Courtney Hill, who was there with a truck and a winch every time I fell in a ditch.
I struggled with body image, initially. But it forced me to find some strategies. Buy some new clothes, change my thoughts. And I totally have. I just don’t really care anymore - not in a “letting myself go” way that I always feared was the binary of obsessive dieting. Nah I just roll around now with a new kind of confidence. Sometimes now whole days will go by where I don’t think about my body once. I just focus on rocking my life and being an amazing mom, wife, and manager.
It’s opened up doors for me. I got headhunted by a big company, the cream of the crop in my industry, and I swear I wouldn’t have had the confidence to take it if I hadn’t been well along on this path.
I’m so much more calm and present in my life, with my kids. I picked up meditating which has been critically important in this wild pandemic year. I am happier and calmer and more confident than I’ve ever been.
My body totally leveled out at a size I’m really happy and comfortable with. Will I ever fit into my wedding dress again? Nah. Do I care? Also nah. I bought new clothes that I feel hot and awesome in.
In September, I was finally feeling ready to work out hard again, after a whole year of throwing in the towel. Previously, I’d been an elite athlete and had always exercised obsessively, Crossfitting and running myself into oblivion, ignoring my body’s signals and subjecting myself to one over-use injury after the next. Anyways, I started working out with a personal trainer and absolutely love it. I just smashed a 213lb deadlift yesterday and feel like a fucking beast.
I feel healthy. I’m not constantly sick and bedraggled. My hair, skin, and nails are luscious. I have energy. I sleep.
I almost wish I’d done some more journaling in the “before” times so I could better comprehend the magnitude of this shift. But I’m also content with just leaving it behind forever.
I’ve had a pretty amazing life and have done a lot of incredible things - sailing across oceans, pursuing grad degrees and intense, challenging career options. But I’m proudest of what I’ve done to stomp diet culture to the curb, and, hopefully, break the cycle for my daughters, who will see their mom loving food and being strong and confident and happy.
Keep going, it’s worth it.
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Gravity's Rainbow Reading Group | Sections 66-69 | Week 20

Alright, home stretch foax. This section's a beast. Hang in there and keep sharing your insights! All together now...
Section 66
"You will want cause and effect. All right." (663) What an opening - it's almost confrontational, mocking our need for clear narrative structure and causality.
We discover that Thanatz was tossed overboard in the same storm that sent Slothrop off the Anubis and off on his adventure with Frau Gnahb. Thanatz is rescued by someone even stranger - an unnamed Polish undertaker (think on the etymology of that word) who happens to be a lightening aficionado. I'll stop here and comment that, earlier, when Slothrop fell into the water before and after getting on the Anubis, it brought to mind the river Styx in Hades - another underworld. It washes clean one's identity and memory. Makes you forget who you are. And there's traditionally a ferryman, Charon, to help people cross it. Can't help but think that's who saved Thanatz here, carrying him from the land of the dead to the land of the unliving, the preterite detritus of WWII.
(An aside: Speaking of Styx, has anyone listened to Mr. Roboto recently? That song has some Gravity's Rainbow vibes.)
Our undertaker here is inspired by the Franklin myth and is trying to get struck by lightening in order to experience that "singular point, [that] discontinuity in the curve of life" (664) passing from a rate of change of positive infinity to one of negative infinity in the blink of an eye. Seems there's something of a conspiracy among those who have been through this point of infinite inflection - a secret society of lightening heads who are aware not of another reality but of a new layer of reality laid on top of our own. Insight into a higher level of reality, of hidden systems.
We get an example of the content of the lightning-aficionado's publication A Nickel Saved and it's supposedly full of coded messages for Those Who Know, each part being a veiled reference to other topics that contain the true meaning, requiring a true paranoid's ability to see (make?) connections. For example, there are repeated mentions of April, Easter, and Spring - the season of rebirth. To an Amperage Contest and lightbulbs failing - Byron the Bulb's attempts to strike back, perchance? A screen-door salesman - what is a screen door except a permeable interface?
But our undertaker isn't interested in secret knowledge - he just wants to be a better businessman - and he deposits Thanatz on the shore and rows back off into the storm. Here, Thanatz meets a group of 175s - men formerly imprisoned in the Dora camp for being gay - who have formed their own solitary community in this isolated section of northern Germany.
I suspect some of this imagery may initially shock readers - concentration camp victims who want to return to their prison? Who set up their own 175-Stadt to recreate the conditions of their imprisonment? But think about it - just last section, we saw Katje, someone who's been used and abused by those in power, balk at the thought of being truly free because she had become dependent on systems of control. She had integrated those control systems as part of her identity, her sense of self. "She needs the whip," Blicero wrote of her (662). Just like Katje, these men became so conditioned to depend on a system of total control and rigid social hierarchies that they don't know how to function without it. Their 175-Stadt doesn't seem like such a ridiculously dark, inappropriate caricature now, does it? Because isn't that a central point of this book - that everyone has been conditioned to need control, to need Their System, to not know how to function without it? Slothrop was our perfect everyman from within this system, and look at what it took for him to actually be free (and even then, the ideal of America still has a colonial outpost in his head). But in their 175-Stadt, these men at least control their system of control. They built it, they staff every level of it, and it's entirely under their control. An isolated state, separate from the broader System. But is there a ruler in this system, a king? No, simply the figment of Blicero. His name, his specter, looming over everything. A system of control with no real king? We've seen that before.
Not only that, but this micro-society is not based strictly on the SS command from Dora, but what the prisoners inferred about the rocket command structure in the Mittelwerke. So even their "recreation" of their imprisonment is an approximation of a different system. I'd also stop here to comment that, is this imagery really as ridiculous/insane as it first appears? I'd say no, since the queeS&M community absolutely took inspiration from Nazi uniforms as symbols of dominance and control, repurposing it into fetishwear. But then, as in this 175-Stadt, the control is by choice, as is the submission. As we've seen elsewhere in this book (Blicero's Oven-State), turning submission into a fetish can be a form of rebellion, since it subverts Their means of control (fear of pain) and turns it into a source of pleasure. Is it truly control if you're choosing it? Enjoying it? No one said this book asks easy questions of its readers...
Thanatz keeps looking for answers, and gets swept up amidst the vast swarms of preterite Displaced Persons being shifted across the zone. What's concerning is that these supposedly-free, albeit displaced, people, are shuffled without purpose across the Zone, with minimal food, water, or medicine, being "herded into wire enclosure[s]" and shipped around in freight cars, "deloused, poked, palpated, named, numbered, consigned, invoiced, misrouted, detained, ignored" (669). It's almost impossible to miss the painful similarity here to the treatment of Jews and other victims of the Holocaust. Only here the mistreatment isn't out of some pathological hatred, simply a system without a place for so many people, and without the committed resources to actually, effectively help them. The thought is unsettling, since we like to imagine that only Naziesque hatred could prompt such brutal mistreatment, not apathy.
Finally, he's rescued by the Schwarzkommando thanks to his knowledge of Blicero and the firing of Rocket 00000. Here, we learn a bit more about what happened that day. Looking into Blicero's eyes, he saw windmills reflected, though none were in the area. Another four-way mandala, like we saw last week with Slothrop. Thanatz isn't in great mental shape by this point, and he's beginning to equate Gottfried and Bianca both as his children. Why? Because he felt some sense of responsibility to them? Because he failed them? Either way, the Schwarzkommando learn all they need from him about that fateful noon on the Heath, though we do not. The section ends with a simple touch of hands between Enzian and Christian, a moment of connection, of trust.
Section 67
Man, how do I even start summarizing this complete doozy of a section? As Weissenburger writes, "In this episode the narration begins to fragment." (344) Ya don't say... Well, here goes.
We being one serious trip of a section with Slothrop, as part of a rather unimpressive team of quasi-superheros (the "Floundering Four") fighting against evil ol' Broderick Slothrop amidst the factory-state (a Metropolis-like iteration of the Rocket-State with movable buildings?!). Broderick, in the role of comic book supervillain, keeps trying to off Slothrop, but our hero has a lucky streak just wide enough to keep him alive.
Right off the bat, we see another image of the chessboard - the whole factory-state is laid out in a grid, and it's all A Game of Chess, as der Springer already informed us, and our movements are limited. Crucially, "Your objective is not the King - there is no King - but momentary targets such as the Radiant Hour." (674) How can you win at chess when there's no King? How can the land be restored and the cycle renewed if there's no King to die and be replaced?
Slothrop is joined by a truly slipshod lot: Myrtle Miraculous, the only one who seems to have actual powers; Maximilian, a suave Black club manager who can flow with all natural rhythms and thus able to navigate any scenario with ease, and Marcel, a mechanical chess player (an embodiment of the Mechanical Turk, but crucially, one without the hidden human operator. No hidden Grandmaster lurking inside Marcel here - nope, this android's the real deal.
This section includes one of my favorite quotes from the book: "Decisions are never really made - at best they manager to emerge, from a chaos of peeves, whims, hallucinations and all-round assholery." (676) I can think of several times where I've been able to relate to that scenario all too well.
Their chances for success and failure are equal, but these opposing odds don't cancel each other out - instead, the two opposing forces just create a "loud dissonance". The crew undertake some truly hallucinatory adventures through the Racketen-Stadt which I will not attempt to summarize, as that would be an exercise in futility. But we are treated to flashes of Slothrop, "Broderick and Nalline's shadow-child, their unconfessed, their monster son," (677) getting locked in an icebox, piloting a mobile building through the grid-streets of the factory-state like a giant chess piece. One line really jumps out at me, here, that I think is important: "Their struggle is not the only, or even the ultimate one. Indeed, not only are there many other struggles, but there are also spectators, watching, as spectators will do, hundreds of thousands of them." (679) Makes me think of the "glozing neuters," mentioned earlier - of the masses of people who are just trying to live their lives, neither part of any conspiracy nor actively aware of being subject to one. Must be nice. At the same time, the idea of other, simultaneous struggles, is noteworthy - it brings to mind the concept of intersectionality, and how people realizing their unique, individual struggles share common sources, and common traits, which they can work together to fight.
We end this sub-section in an arena for these exact masses, where our heroes are on a stakeout, with Slothrop in full drag waiting in the Transvestites' Toilet for a message.
You may be wondering about the multiple instances of cross-dressing, in various iterations, throughout the book. Slothrop in drag and Blicero in a wig and merkin come to mind. One aspect, I'd say, is that it reflects a blending of two (as far as society is generally concerned) binary opposites. A crossing-over, a transgression against the status quo and an option other than 1 or 0.
Eliot, in his Notes on The Waste Land, wrote,
"Tiresias, although a mere spectator and not indeed a 'character', is yet the most important personage in the poem, uniting all the rest. Just as the one-eyed merchant, seller of currants, melts into the Phoenician Sailor, and the latter is not wholly distinct from Ferdinand Prince of Naples, so all the women are one woman, and the two sexes meet in Tiresias. What Tiresias sees, in fact, is the substance of the poem." (Emphasis mine).
Cue Crutchfield the Westwardman's world of only one of everything. Likewise, the women in Gravity's Rainbow often blend together, share traits or imagery. So do the men. The joining of the two sexes in Blicero, as well as Slothrop here at the end, is significant.
The Low-Frequency Listeners
The introduction here of the character of Rohr, the Keeper of the Antenna, specifically as a Jehovah's witness, was odd. It's such a specific subsect of Christianity. Then we see - he heard a man on the radio, dying, asking for a priest. Rohr says, "Should I have got on and told him about priests? Would he've found any comfort in that?" (682). In what? I had to look it up, but when I did, it clicked - Jehovah's witnesses apparently do not have priests, because they are all ordained. There is no separate priest caste in their church, and thus no Preterite/Elect division. In this section, we also learn that the Nuremberg trials are getting underway.
Mom Slothrop's Letter to Ambassador Kennedy
You start to feel even more sorry for Slothrop as you realize just how terrible his parents apparently were. His mom cares enough to at least write another letter asking Ambassador Kennedy as to what the hell happened to their son, but her letter quickly devolves into drunken ramblings complaining about striking workers and managing to make an innuendo about Jack Kennedy while also dismissing her love of her sons. Oof. Maybe Otto was right with his conspiracy of mothers...
On the Phrase "Ass-Backwards"
An entertaining linguistic debate between Säure and Slothrop on American idioms, specifically ones involving a reversal, as in the case of "ass-backwards". The section then slips into a story of Säure, in his youth, breaking into the home of a young woman, Minnie, who is unable to hear or pronounce umlauted letters, and thus manages to shout the word "helicopter" rather than "cute robber" well before the vehicle was ever invented. Her cry is heard by none other than a young aerodynamics student. The word is taken as a prophesy and a warning of the helicopter's symbol of the police state, with armed officers hanging out the sides, aiming down at their targets.
My Doper's Cadenza
It begins with a serenade from Bodine, and then an exploration of the tenement building "Der Platz" that is home to numerous drug addicts, dope peddlers, and general ne'er-do-wells. They are building an anti-police moat around the building, entirely underground so as to avoid detection, saving breaking through the street for the end.
Shit 'n' Shinola
Another idiomatic diversion for Säure. A beautiful line is tucked away in here - "from outside, the Hall is golden, the white gold precisely of one lily-of-the-valley petal in 4 o'clock sunlight, serene, at the top of an artificially-graded hill." (687) This building, the Schein-Aula (Seeming-Hall), suggests "persistence, through returns of spring, hopes for love, melting snow and ice, academic Sunday tranquillities, smells of grass just crushed or cut or later turning to hay..." (688) Yet again, imagery of spring, of a return to life from the dead season of winter, of the cycle.
We return to the Roseland Ballroom, where shit 'n' Shinola do actually come together. "Shit, now, is the color white folks are afraid of. Shit is the presence of death, not some abstract-arty character with a scythe but the stiff and rotting corpse itself inside the whiteman's warm and private own asshole, which is getting pretty intimate. That's what that white toilet's for.... that white porcelain's the very emblem of Odorless and Official Death." (688) Here Pynchon cuts straight to the point - the almost pathological fear of death and its connections to fears of blackness, excrement. Shit, Death, and the Word. Edwin Treacle hit on this back on p. 276 when he tried to show his colleagues at the White Visitation "that their feelings about blackness were tied to feelings about shit, and feelings about shit to feelings about putrefaction and death." The cycle of life is too organic, too messy. Better to replace carbon with silicon, to hide shit with porcelain, to treat people with dark skin as "other" or sub-human to avoid acknowledging that their non-European, communal ways of life were, in fact, totally natural.
An Incident in the Transvestites' Toilet
Not King Kong, but a small, costumed ape comes up to Slothrop, who's wearing a Fay Wray dress while waiting in the bathroom for a still-unspecified message. We get a Miltonic blank-verse poem (thanks, Weissenburger!) about the movie King Kong, written in the voice of Anne Darrow (Fay Wray's character). It's honestly quite good - I love the line "in your own stone living space" - the internal rhyme there sounds really nice, and I like the riff on living stone / Livingston, both of which have popped up previously. In the poem, Darrow talks about when she was tied up, hung by the natives as an offering to "the night's one Shape to come" (689), echoing both Greta Erdman's scene in Alpdrücken and the Hanged Man card of the Tarot (willing sacrifice, sacrifice that prompts a return, a renewal of the cycle). Darrow says she prayed, "not for Jack," her suave costar, but for her director Carl Denham, "only him, with gun and camera... making the unreal reel / By shooting at it, one way or the other-" (689). Throughout GR, we've seen a film motif, and this really brings it home. The analogy of a gun to a camera, both of which make the unreal real (a camera creates films that interpret real life - the "unreal reel", a gun makes death, which we've blocked away and tried to avoid, real and inescapable). The director is in control of the movie, the actors, the story, of how it works and what is told. Darrow ends by asking Carl to "show me the key light, whisper me a line..." - a key light is used in cinema and photography to not just shed light on the subject, but to do so in a way that provides form and dimension to the subject and the scene. So Darrow is asking for the director to literally give her form and definition, to tell her what to say next.
This ape, though, isn't so Romantic as ol' Kong though, and is much more direct. It hands Slothrop an anarchist's bomb straight out of the comics pages, and takes off. Slothrop freezes and is saved by a helpful transvestite who takes the bomb and flushes it down the toilet. But it explodes anyway, sending geysers of water up out of all the toilets. A Voice comes out of he Loudspeaker informing everyone that it was, in fact, a sodium bomb that explodes upon contact with water. Tellls everyone to get the "dangerous maniac" who threw it. That was supposed to be Slothrop, but he was saved by his indecision and the kindness of a stranger, who is now set upon by the other occupants of the toilet.
A Moment of Fun with Takeshi and Ichizo, the Komical Kamikazes
We now jump to a pair of comically-mismatched Kamikaze pilots stationed on a remote island well away from any conflict. One flies a Zero, the other flies an "Ohka device" which is basically a rocket-bomb with a pilot's seat. They get moonshine from their radarman, Kenosho, who mocks them daily for the lack of opportunities to fly to their deaths and who comes up with haikus that, while in the right format, really miss the heart of what a haiku is supposed to be.
Streets
Back to Slothrop, now, and a catalogue of the streets he's traveled down and what he's seen. We get a meditation on the absurdity of army chaplains, who worked for the Army and "stood up and talked to the men who were going to die about God, death, nothingness, redemption, salvation." (693) And it does seem a bit absurd when you consider that the Army that employs the chaplains is the same entity sending the men off to die. We see a bus driver (perchance our maniac bus driver from earlier?) driving through town in the night, his passengers looking out the windows, their faces "drowned-man green, insomniac, tobacco-starved, scared, not of tomorrow, not yet, but of this pause in their night-passage, of how easy it will be to lose, and how much it will hurt..." (693) Going back to the Waste Land, the phrase "I do not find / The Hanged Man. Fear death by water." is symbolic of a death without return (drowning) contrasted to the sacrifice/return symbolized by The Hanged Man. These poor passengers, it seems, aren't to expect any return.
Slothrop also, at this point, learns of the bombing of Hiroshima from a discarded Army newspaper, the photo of the atomic blast placed in poor taste next to an image of a pin-up girl. The bomb's mushroom cloud is compared to the Cross, to a capital-T Tree. But which tree? Is this a meditation on the deadly, unforgettable knowledge of how to split the atom, or of the tree of life, with the citizens of Hiroshima as a sacrifice made... but to what? I'm honestly not sure. Would love your thoughts.
Listening to the Toilet
As others have noted, this book in many ways is about the drug counterculture and hippie movement of the 60s/early 70s. This is the most overt in this section, in which we learn that listening for the cessation of the flow of water to the toilet in the pipes is a cue that a police raid is imminent - shutting off the water being a way to prevent the flushing of illicit substances. But it takes a special ear to hear the cessation of a subtle, pervasive white noise. What if the sun, in fact, massive furnace that it is, emits a constant, low-level roar that is so incessant we don't even hear it? What if eddies in the current of the Soniferous Aether cause rare spots of true quiet, where the noise is no longer transmitted and anyone in that spot can hear their own heartbeat it's so quiet? Interestingly, there are "quiet rooms" designed to absorb nearly all sound, used for precise sound calibration. I remember reading that most people can't sit in one of those rooms for more than 30 minutes or so because it's literally so quiet that you can hear the blood flowing through your veins, and people have even reported auditory hallucinations as a result. But why this digression? Maybe because we need to be asking what other white noise is out there that we've become completely deaf to? I think Roger and Jessica found a pocket of this quiet, early in the book, where the "noise" of modern society and all its associated obligations was muted by the War.
Witty Repartee
A return to our Komical Kamikazes, and a meditation on the ubiquity of the Hotchkiss machine gun across nations, independent of alliances. We get an image of a false King - an inbred idiot lying naked in a dumpster, attracting the attention of potential revolutionaries. But they can't decide if he's "a diversionary nuisance planted here by the Management, or whether he's real Decadent Aristocracy to be held for real ransom" (698). While the would-be revolutionaries are debating in the alley, sentries with the aforementioned Hotchkiss guns take positions on the rooftops, aiming down...
Heart-to-Heart, Man-to-Man
A dialogue here between Slothrop and ol' Broderick, with dear old dad interrogating his wayward son about a modern electric drug. Slothrop reassures him that he'd never shoot raw electricity - no, they dope themselves with waves. Major pre-Cyberpunk vibes here, with Broderick warning "Suppose someday you just plug in and go away and never come back?" to which Tyrone replies, "What do you think every electrofreak dreams about? .... Maybe there is a Machine to take us away, take us completely, suck us out through the electrodes out of the skull 'n' into the Machine and live there forever.... We can live forever, in a clean, honest, purified Electroworld-" (699). Matrix, anyone? Not to mention the waves of radio, TV, etc. and the simple, episodic, controlled reality they offer. Pleasantville also comes to mind, with all its commentary on the shows of the era.
Some Characteristics of Imipolex G
We learn that Imipolex G is the first erectile plastic, stiffening in response to certain electronic stimuli. The potential of a layer of controlling wires just under the outer layer of Imipolex, making it a second skin - a synthetic interface. Alternately, there's the potential to control it via a projection of "an electronic 'image; analogous to a motion picture." (700)
My gods, I made it through this section...
Section 68
Tchitcherine now, dealing with a spook, Nikolai Ripov, from the Commissariat for Intelligence Activities. His pal Džabajev has run off with "two local derelicts" (700) and is impersonating Frank Sinatra and wooing the ladies of the Zone. We get the line, "While nobles are crying in their nights' chains, the squires sing. The terrible politics of the Grail can never touch them. Song is the magic cape." (701) - Seems another example of folks recognizing the game, the Grail quest, for what it was and checking out - deciding not to play and just enjoy themselves while the Elect lose sleep over the endless searching.
Ripov explains to Tchitcherine how "the basic problem... has always been getting other people to die for you." (701) Religion used to serve as an effective control for that reason - death isn't quite as scary if you think you're going to heaven. But modern society has moved on, and needs more secular sources of control, like a commitment to "History" as if you're part of some great narrative, sacrificing yourself for some imagined end-goal of what society is "supposed" to be.
Seems Tchitcherine was doping on Oneirine theophosphate. Wimpe, his dealer, argues that a man is "only real at the points of decision. The time between doesn't matter." (702) Points man again - the moment of decision, of choice, that splits the future in two. Points of control. Contrast that to:
"Datta: what have we given? / My friend, blood shaking my heart / The awful daring of a moment’s surrender / Which an age of prudence can never retract / By this, and this only, we have existed." (The Waste Land, Part V: What the Thunder Said - emphasis mine).
Both are arguing that it's these key moments, irreversible junctures in our lives that make us real. Not what comes next, not what people say about us, just our moments. Integrate those moments, run them fast enough (say 24 frames per second) and you might even approximate something close to a person...
We learn that Oneirine apparently leads to "the dullest hallucinations known to psychopharmacology" (703) - hauntings of the mundane, the almost-normal.
Tchitcherine's Haunting
Tchitcherine hallucinates that Ripov is interrogating him, and he becomes fixated on the question of whether or not he was supposed to die. Seems like part of him wants to believe in life after death, in some hope for meaning, which goes against the Soviet doctrine and thus isn't exactly endearing him to those above him. Thankfully this is just an Oneirine haunting, except... wait, it's too real - no subtle violations of reality. He tries to escape, but is outnumbered. But no execution for him here - just a reassignment to Central Asia. A cold and operational death.
Section 69
"The dearest nation of all is one that will survive no longer than you and I, a common movement at the mercy of death and time: the ad hoc adventure." - Resolutions of the Gross Suckling Conference (706)
In other words, they seek a nation that does not function independently of its citizens - one that is not some separate identity with a quasi-personhood (much like how corporations are legally "people"). Rather, a nation that is inextricably linked to the people and that will die when they do. No immortality, no denial of the cycle or death.
But poor Roger's still dealing with Jessica, and now with Jeremy, too, who he's at least amicable with. But he's struggling with their acceptance of the System, their embracing of it. Jeremy's all about reassembling the rockets and firing them, asking "What else does one do with a rocket?" (note how disassembling it or at least not using the weapon isn't even an option...).
Jeremy's even so kind as to invite Roger to a fancy dinner with a bunch of corporate bigwigs, including folks from Krupp, ICI, and GE, and hosted by one Stefan Utgarthaloki, whose name should be a giant red-flag that something's amiss with this shindig. Roger picks Seaman Bodine as his date, the two having struck up a rather theatrical friendship, dress in their absurdist best (Bodine in the mother of all zoot suits), and join the party.
We get some insight here into the nature of rebellions, and the danger of them not only fizzling out or failing, but of being co-opted as a tool to "help legitimize Them" (713). Of either dying or "living on as Their pet" - it brings to mind the corporate branding of "rebelliousness" as cool, as "a phase" that it's normal to go through and eventually grow up from. Treating the idealism of youth, the desire to make the world better and to fight against the problems of the system before you become numb to them, as a normal phase of life is such an effective way to neutralize it culturally. How many people have heard the phrase "you get conservative [i.e. more resistant to change] as you get older"? How many of us have seen youth-led movements being dismissed as examples of immaturity, for example? Between that and companies stamping their logo on it (hello, Hot Topic), it's a way to change the cultural narrative around any movement against the status quo to one that's dismissive, just accepting enough to let people burn off their energy and eventually fall into line. Because how else can you continue to live a decent life in a society that refuses to change? You either go build a shack in the woods somewhere, die, or acclimate to the system and just focus on being comfortable yourself, not constantly fighting for change. It's a depressing thought, and I'm sure Pynchon saw a lot of that attitude in the 60s. I have to wonder - do non-industrialized societies have "teenage rebellion" as a normal part of life? Is that a part of human nature, like we tend to think, or is it an explicit reaction to reaching maturity in a system that is anti-human and anti-nature?
Anyway, back to the dinner party - between the depressing, anti-social music (kazoos?!) and the lavish dinner, things seem fine, but there's a plot against the Roger and Bodine. Fortunately a journalist, Constance, tips off Bodine that they might just be the main course of this feast, so Bodine cues Roger to begin the evening show - an absurd gross-out session that they planned in advance with the aid of now-deceased Pudding communicating via medium Carroll Eventyr. The pair recite an increasingly disgusting list of alliterative dishes, triggering "well-bred gagging" and guests to flee, though a few find it all quite entertaining. But it's enough to break up the dinner party and allow our heroes to flee.
Note: If you made it this far, actually read all this, thank you. Bloom warned me this was a longer section, and boy, he wasn't kidding. I think this is longer than some college essays I wrote... Damn fun, though, and I hope you've found my thoughts informative, interesting, useful, or if nothing else, sufficiently diversionary for a spell. I truly look forward to seeing what you other fine foax have to say on these labrynthine sections.
Questions
  1. In the lightning-aficionado's "A Nickel Saved" excerpt, are there any other references or hidden ideas you can find? I have to think there are.
  2. What is the meaning of the windmill reflected in Blicero's eyes? How do you interpret the imagery in this scene in general?
  3. 175-Stadt. Oven-State. Hund-Stadt. Rocket-State. Factory-State. We've seen numerous examples of specialized micro-states across the Zone, experiments in different forms of society. What are your thoughts on these? Are they hints at ways to find alternate societies, or manifestations of humanity's tendency to divide by category and put of fences?
  4. In the "Shit 'n' Shinola" subsection, Pynchon connects Jack Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Tyrone Slothrop. What do you make of this intersection?
  5. In "Streets," the bombing of Hiroshima is presented as being similar to the Cross, "it is also, perhaps, a Tree..." - the capitalized "Tree" here could be the tree of knowledge, the tree of life, the tree from which the Hanged Man dangles, or perhaps something else. What's your interpretation of this imagery?
  6. In Section 69, we see references to the Albatross, famous symbol from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It's presented that Slothrop is the (now-plucked) albatross, but it's not clear who killed this bird, or who's wearing it around their neck. They? Any ideas?
submitted by KieselguhrKid13 to ThomasPynchon [link] [comments]

ASIC Regulation Thread - Regarding the proposed changes ( Australians effected the most )

I'm hopeless at formatting text, so if you think you can structure this post better take everything i write and put it into an easy to digest way. I'm just going to type out everything i know in text as fast as possible. I'm not a legal expert, I'm not somehow who understands every bit of information in the PDF's below, but i know I'm a retail trader that uses leverage to make profit which is why I'm posting this, in the hope that someone who can run a charge better than me, will.
Some of you are already aware of what might be happening, this is just a post to educate retail traders on changes that might be coming to certain brokers. This effects Australian Customers the most, but also effects those living in other countries that use Australian brokers, such as Pepperstone and others.
Last year in August 2019, ASIC ( Australian Securities and Investments Commission ) was concerned about retail traders going into Forex and Binary options without understanding these instruments properly and started sticking their noses in for tough regulation.
ASIC asked brokers and anyone with interest in the industry to write to them and explain what should and should not change from the changes they proposed, some of the proposed changes are very misguided and come from a lack of understanding exactly how OTC derivatives actually work.
I will provide the link to the paper further down so you can read it yourself and i will provide a link to all the submission made by all parties that sent submissions to ASIC, however the 2 main points of debate are:
1, To reduce the overall leverage available to retail traders to either 20:1 or 30:1. This means people who currently use leverage such as 100:1 to 500:1 and everything in between will be effected the most, even more so are those traders with relatively small accounts, meaning in order to get your foot in the door to trading you will need more capital for it to be viable.
^^ This point above is very important.
2, The removing of Binary options trading, which basically includes products like "Bet if gold will rise to this price in the next 30 seconds" This sort of stuff. So far from all the submissions from brokers and individuals nobody really cares if this changes as far as i know, though if you have concerns about this i would start voicing your disapproval. Though i would not waste your time here, all is pointing to this being eradicated completely with brokers also supporting the changes, I've never used such a product and know very little about them.
^^ This point above isn't very important and will probably be enforced in the future.
Still to this day i see retail traders not understanding leverage, they think of it as "dangerous and scary", it's not, position size is the real danger, not leverage. So ASIC is aiming to limit retail traders access to high leverage, they are claiming it is a way to protect traders who don't really understand what they are getting into by attacking leverage and not the real problem which is position size relative to your capital.
If it was truly about protecting retail traders from blowing up their accounts, they would look for ways to educate traders on "understanding position sizes and why it's important" rather than attacking leverage, but their goal is misguided or has an ulterior motive . I will give you a small example below.
EXAMPLE - We will use 2 demo accounts for demonstration purposes. If you don't understand my example, i suggest you try it for yourself. - Skip if not interested in examples.
Lets say we open 2 demo accounts with $1000 in both, one with 20:1 leverage and one with 500:1 leverage and we open an identical position on both accounts ( say a micro lot '0.01' on EURUSD ). You are safer on the 500:1 account as you don't need to put up as much margin as collateral as you would on the 20:1. If the trade we just opened goes against us and continues against us, the account with 20:1 leverage will run out of free margin a lot faster than the 500:1 account. In this simple example is shows you that leverage is not dangerous but safer and gives you a lot more breathing room. This trade was a small micro lot, so it would take hundreds of pips movements to get margin called and blow up that $1000 on each account. Lets now use a different position size to truly understand why retail traders blow up accounts and is the reason why trading can be dangerous.
This time instead of opening a micro lot of '0.01' on our $1000 dollar demo accounts, lets open a position size much larger, 5 lots. Remember we only have $1000 and we are about to open a position much larger relative to our capital ( which we should never do because we can't afford to do that ) the 20:1 probably wont even let you place that trade if you don't have enough margin as collateral or if you could open the position you would have a very tiny amount of free margin left over, meaning a small pip movement against you will instantly blow up your $1000 account. On the 500:1 account you wouldn't need to put up as much margin as collateral with more free margin if the trade goes bad, but again a small movement could blow up your account. In this example, both accounts were dangerous because the lack of understanding position sizes, opening a position you can't afford to open. This is what the true danger is, not the leverage.
Even in the second example, the higher leverage would "margin call" you out later. So i would go as far to say that lower leverage is more dangerous for you because it margin calls you out faster and just by having a lower leverage doesn't stop you from opening big positions that can blow you up in a 5 pip movement anymore, any leverage size is dangerous if you're opening positions you can't afford to open. This is also taking into consideration that no risk management is being used, with risk management higher leverage is even more powerful.
ASIC believes lowering leverage will stop people opening positions that they can't afford. When the reality is no matter how much capital you have $500, $1000, $5000, $50,000, $500,000, $5,000,000. You don't open position sizes that will blow that capital up completely with small movements. The same thing can happen on a 20:1 or 500:1 account.
Leverage is a tool, use it, if your on a lower leverage already such as 20:1, 30:1 it means your country has been regulated and you already have harder trading conditions. Just remember higher leverage allows you to open larger position sizes in total for the amount of money you own, but the issue is NOT that your using the higher leverage but because you are opening positions you can't afford, for what ever reason that is, the only fix for this is education and will not be fixed by simply lowing leverage, since you can just as easy blow up your account on low leverage just as fast or if not faster.
So what is going on?
There might ( get your tinfoil hats on ) be more that is involved here, deeper than you think, other agendas to try and stop small time retail traders from making money via OTC products, theories such as governments not wanting their citizens to be traders, rather would prefer you to get out there and work a 9 to 5 instead. Effective ways to do this would be making conditions harder with a much larger barrier of entry and the best way to increase the barrier of entry for retail traders is to limit leverage, lower leverage means you need to put up more money, less breathing room for trades, lower potential. They are limiting your upside potential and the downside stays the same, a blown account is a blow account.
Think of leverage as a weapon, a person wielding a butchers knife can probably destroy a person wielding a steak knife, but both knifes can prove fatal. They want to make sure your holding the butter knife then tell you to butcher a cow with it. 30:1 leverage is still workable and can still be profitable, but not as profitable as 500:1 accounts. This is why they are allowing professionals to use high leverage, this gives them another edge over successful retail traders who will still be trying to butcher a cow with a butter knife, while they are slaying limbs off the cow with machetes.
It's a way to hamstring you and keep you away rather than trying to "protect" you. The real danger is not leverage, they are barking up the wrong tree, how convenient to be barking up the very tree most retail traders don't fully understand ( leverage) , pass legislation to make trading conditions harder and at the same time push the narrative that trading is dangerous by making it even harder. A full circle strategy to make your trading conditions worse, so you don't succeed.
Listen carefully especially if you trade with any of the brokers that have provided their submissions to ASIC. Brokers want to seem like they are on your side and so far some of the submissions ( i haven't read them all ) have brokers willing to drop their leverage down to 30:1 because they know by dropping the leverage down it will start margin calling out their clients at a much faster rate, causing more blown up accounts / abandoned accounts with residual margin called funds, but they also know that if they make trading environments too hard less people will trade or even worse move their funds elsewhere offshore to unregulated brokers that offer higher leverage.
Right now it's all just a proposal, but as governments expand and continue to gain more control over it's citizens, it's just a matter of time till it's law, it's up to you to be vocal about it, let your broker know that if they drop their leverage, you're out, force them to fight for you.
If you have any more information related to this, or have anything to add, post below. I'm not an expert at this technical law talk, i know that i do well with 500:1 leverage and turn profits with it, it would be harder for me to do on a lower leverage, this is the reason for my post.
All related documents HERE
CP-322 ( Consultation paper 322 ) & Submissions from brokers and others.
https://asic.gov.au/regulatory-resources/find-a-document/consultation-papers/cp-322-product-intervention-otc-binary-options-and-cfds/
submitted by southpaw_destroyer to Forex [link] [comments]

I work for Styx Taxis, I drive souls to the afterlife...I just picked up a familiar face.

Do something for me, will ya? I want you to think back to when you were a kid, think back to those innocent days when the world was your oyster and you could be anything you wanted. Tell me what was that anything? What was your dream job as a child? Most people will say a football player, an actor, a world-famous musician, maybe even an astronaut. Well, not me. I wanted to be a cab driver. I was obsessed with being a taxi driver, I had toy taxis and a taxi costume including a cabbie hat, I even had a bed that was shaped like a taxi instead of a racecar! I drove my parents crazy with my obsession but I was a kid from Brooklyn growing up in the big city surrounded by yellow cabs, I’m not sure why I loved them so much but ever since my Pops brought my brother Vince and me in a cab to a Net’s game when we were younger I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
“Taxies are disgusting, Freddie why the hell do you like them? They smell like liquor and look like Grandma’s wrinkly butt” Vince would say to me, he had a way with words but whatever way that was it wasn’t the right one. Nobody could understand my love of taxis but that was okay they didn’t need to, I loved the thought of driving through the city and meeting new people every single day, sure many taxis were filthy but mine wouldn’t be...or so I thought when I was 8. Vince, however, had much more ambitious goals.
“Me? I’m going to play for the Jets. I’ll be the best Tight End the NFL will ever see”
Vince was pretty great at football, he even went on to play some college ball but he always reached for the stars with his dreams and that could make failure hurt so much more. I was more realistic in my goals from a young age, I couldn’t kick snow off a rope and I could barely throw a ball from one side of the road to the other, being a taxi driver was a dream but unlike most of all of your dreams when you were all kids, mine was doable.
I received my yellow cab certification when I turned 21 making me a lot younger than my co-workers who were usually in their 40s. I worked for over 8 years as a taxi driver and I never once regretted it bar two robberies at gunpoint and a handful of casually racist remarks from tourists or some freshmen on Wall Street who wanted to know if they can say the n-word since their friend in college said he was cool with it. Eventually, though my time as a cab driver came to end...well my driving of the living came to an end anyway. Now I drive souls to the afterlife for the Styx Taxis cab company. Every day I bring multiple souls to the Great Divide where judgement is made against them to decide if they go to Paradise or Damnation. I hear many stories on the clock, people begging to be given another chance or sobbing for forgiveness but I’m just the driver, the car makes the judgement and the car is never wrong.
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My day starts like anybody else’s, my alarm goes off at around 6.30 am, I shower, brush my teeth, get my clothes on - usually a pair of black skinny jeans, a loose tee, some Air Force Ones and my Grampa’s brown suede jacket he gave to me in his will - and I will usually grab something to eat from a drive-thru Starbucks once I’m out on the road. My alarm didn’t go off today but thankfully my body jolted me awake before 7, this meant no breakfast and I was behind on at least one passenger though on a good day I could get through three before 8.30, this would hurt my place on the standings but if I worked effectively I could make up the lost points.
My first passenger was a Charles Monroe, a 45-year-old stockbroker who died from a coke overdose after partying too much during a promotion party. At least he was a Jets fan. It took me around fifteen minutes to reach him, he was sitting on a bench in his clothes from the night before, if the coke didn’t kill him that hangover would have. I pulled up and the backdoor opened for him. The crossing over process had begun.
“Charles Monroe?” I asked knowing damn well I had the right guy.
“Yeah...who’s asking. What the hell is going on, why am I stuck here?” he replied while slurring some words.
“You’re dead buddy, bit too fond of the charlie there...Charlie. I’m here to pick you up and bring you to your eternal resting place. Get in” I said. The emotions of people when they are told they have died can range from anger to sadness to in some cases jubilation though that is usually due to a sense of smugness that they were right about an afterlife existing.
“Fuck off” he shouted at me while spitting at my car, his dirty grey phlegm landing on my passenger side window cleaning some dust off of it, it was safe to say Charlie’s fell into the former category, he was pretty angry.
“I’m not fucking dead, I’m fucking invincible”
You often got these types of people, usually rich white guys. They genuinely buy the bullshit they were sold about dying peacefully in their bed surrounded by loved ones even though they knew full well that no one loved them.
“Nah bro, you are absolutely dead, here look I’ll show you.” As I replied I began to pull some pictures up on my iPad and cast them to the screen attached to my passenger side mirror, as I scrolled through the array of pictures the reality of the situation began to dawn on Mr.Monroe.
“See there’s you face down in a pool of your own vomit, there’s you being zipped up in a bodybag, there is your mother Margaret identifying your body at the morgue...ignore that last picture that’s my Greyhound ‘Rufus’ not sure how that got in there”
The tough bravado wasted away as Charles fell to the floor and burst into tears, he continued to do that for another few minutes - taking more time off my schedule - before I decided it was time to get a move on.
“Look, dude, I know this is a shock for you and all but there is no changing it. It’s science, what's dead is dead. Your energy is being used for something else now so hop in and we will bring you to wherever you are meant to spend eternity. Paradise or Damnation.”
He lifted his head to look me in the eyes, his tears caused his deep blue eyes to shine immensely bright in the blistering sunlight. He wiped his tears from his face and took four deep breaths to compose himself.
“I’m not going with you, not a chance. I will fight this, I have gotten out of worse situations” he said, his air of invincibility only momentarily shattered.
“I can promise you that you haven’t. You better come with me because the second that door shuts it’s over you don’t get second chances.” I responded mostly hoping for him to get in so I could add some points to my tally but also because I knew the punishment of disobedience.
“LISTEN BUDDY CLEAN YOUR FUCKING EARS OUT, I’M NOT GOING. END OF STORY,” he screamed back at me.
“Close your damn door, see if I care” were the famous last words of the jackass.
“Okay, suit yourself” I replied while exhaling loudly, I pressed the large red x button beside the radio and the door slammed shut, once that happened his fate was sealed a lightning bolt shot down from the sky and he slowly dissipated right in front of my eyes, he screamed and begged for help and even tried to bargain with me to get the door open but the door can’t open once it has been closed. There are no second chances.
Charles Monroe paid the price of disobedience, his soul was zapped and sent to NULL, a plane of existence outside of all other realms, NULL is an empty grey room with no directions. No up, down, left or right. To meet another soul in NULL is about as unlikely as anything, odds don’t go that high. This is where Mr.Monroe would spend the rest of his eternal life. NULL was quite literally a fate worse than hell.
They say all things are binary, they are either a 0 or a 1. They are or they aren’t.
NULL was -1.
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That little escapade took even more precious time away from me, when a new passenger request popped up on my screen I accepted in an instant and sped to the pickup point. My second passenger of the day was a Ms.Melina Cortez, a 28-year-old mother of one who had died in a drink-driving incident, the child’s father was not involved if you wanted some good news. When I arrived Melina was sitting on a bench, her knees pointing in and her arms wrapped tightly around herself, she looked scared but also like she knew what had happened to her.
“Hey there, Melina. How are you doing? I’m Freddie, I'm your driver today, I’ll be bringing you to the afterlife” I calmly said to her as the backside door opened once more. She did not respond to me, no questions about who I was or what was happening. Nothing, she just stood up with her head down and took her seat in the back of my cab. I decided to take my foot slightly off the pedal for a few moments to slow our trip and allow her time to cope but she wouldn’t have much, she would need to speak or the judgement would be made for her. After five minutes of cruising, I broke the silence.
“You know I’ve driven some celebs, I’m legally not allowed say who but fun fact those people who post memes about them all in Paradise are going to be sorely disappointed when they die”
She lifted her head and smirked, the best I could ask for given the situation and I had an opening so I continued on.
“Listen, Melina, I know it is tough for you but you need to tell your story, your life, your successes and your failures and any transgressions you may have cause it’s your best chance of getting into Paradise”
“I know it’s tough but you have t-” “I’m not getting into Paradise,” she said matter of factly cutting me off in the process.
“I’ve done horrible things, any God with even a little sense of respect would know not to let me in”
“What have you done, Melina?” I asked bewildered by the emotionless tone in her statements.
“Oh you know, you got your little screen there with my name on it. I can see it from back here. Just look through my file.” she said while placing her head onto the window and staring out into the abyss.
“Actually I don’t know. This file is filled with the bare minimum I need to convince someone I’m not some fraudster. It has your name, the names of family and loved ones, how you died, some miscellaneous pictures and a list of hobbies, sometimes I don’t get anything bar a location. I know how you died but I know little of the circumstances bar the fact it was a drink-driving accident with one car involved so I would guess you were driving, that is bad Melina but no one else was hurt, I’ve seen people survive Damnation for doing a lot worse.” I responded to her factually, another rule of the job. I couldn’t lie to the passengers.
“I wasn’t even drunk” she responded before a whistle went off, this whistle was the car notifying me and our passenger that they were telling a lie. The whistle was a sort of smug ‘hih hoo’ sound similar to a phone notification, the smugness of the sound often got under the skin of passengers causing them to blurt out truths or half-truths.
“The car says you are lying, Melina. This car has been imbued with the power of an Old One it can tell what is true and what is false.” I ensured her, hoping it would stop any further lying but knowing from past experiences it would not.
“Okay, I had a bottle of wine but I’ve driven drunk before it wasn’t the drink that caused the crash. It was the percs...and my rage. I just couldn’t think straight then I saw the tree and knew what had to be done” she replied, this time to no whistle. She killed herself, why?
“I’m sure the cops have already rang the bastard and told him about everything that happened, my only regret is not getting to see his face when they tell him. The son of a bitch”
“Who are you talking about, Melina? What did you do?” I responded
“Jorge, my boyfriend, Marlon’s father. That son of a bitch, he caused it all, when he eventually eats lead from one of those girls’ fathers he for sure as hell won’t be going to Paradise, no need to even question him” she responded.
“What did you do to Jorge, Melina? Is he hurt, did you hurt him?” I replied, each response from the woman further bewildering me.
“Oh he’s hurting that’s for sure,” she responded before bursting into tears.
“The bastard was fucking underage girls!”
“I found texts and pictures, oh God so many sick fucking pictures, the stuff he would say to these...these kids, these 14 and 15-year-old girls it would make you sick, they did make me sick. I was sent into a haze, I didn’t know how to react so I just drank and drank glasses of white wine, washing down the percocets with it.” she had stopped crying and was now on her knees leaning forward and pushing her face and hands up on the partition window separating us.
“I knew what I had to do, I had to protect myself but most of all I had to protect my son, I couldn’t let that fucking pervert go anywhere near him ever again so I did what needed doing”
I had now taken my eyes off the road and turned to look Melina in the eye, her crazed stare transfixed on me, my heart was in my throat as I struggled to ask her the question I felt I already had the answer to.
“What needed doing, Melina?”
She smiled at me with a wide grin from ear to ear, her blue lips stuck together not allowing her teeth to bare themselves to me.
“I took a pillow to my son in his sleep. It didn’t take long and he didn’t fight, he knew deep down that this was for his own good.”
I gripped the steering wheel tightly in both hands attempting to hide my anger, signs of emotion behind the wheel of a Styx Cab could see me terminated. I waited for the whistle of the car, I prayed the whistle would come...but it didn’t. I didn’t respond, I couldn’t respond, I needed to relax before I could, her next statement didn’t help.
“I protected my son as any mother would”, this time the whistle did sound, a statement too late sadly.
“The car disagrees and so do I. You killed your son, you murdered him in his sleep then you drove your car into a tree to save yourself the jail time. You could have turned Jorge in but you didn’t” I responded to her, the words barely dragging themselves out of my mouth through gritted teeth.
“Turn him in? You must be joking, he’d get 12 years at best. He’s a 30-year-old man he’d be back on the streets in his early 40s, plenty of time to get back to his sick work...plenty of time to abuse my beautiful boy” she responded, the words she spoke had such conviction, she truly believed she was right no matter what me, the car or anyone else said.
“So you murdered your son to protect him from abuse? That makes no sense” I replied my foot pressing down on the gas pedal at full force.
“I saved him,” she replied instantaneously before the car let out another loud whistle.
“I wouldn’t expect you or this piece of junk to understand that”
That was the last we spoke before reaching the gates of the Great Divide, I tipped my hat to Reginald the Gatekeeper and he lifted the barrier to let me through. We drove towards the fork in the road, two large stone doors blocking both paths, the doors had large runic patterns chiselled into them, they both looped and swirled around the stone faces, one pattern gold the other onyx. The door flung open on the car and Melina stepped out, we did not exchange goodbyes. As she walked to the doors the golden runes lit up and the door slowly opened, a warm beam of orange light beamed out from the road and she stepped into it, the door flung shut and her fate was sealed.
She was sent to Damnation.
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The rest of my day was mostly uneventful, many old people going up or down, mostly down. I did have one interesting passenger named Laney Richards, she had caused her brother to fall from a tree at a young age confining him to a wheelchair for life, she had also gotten involved in the wrong crowd as a teenager and done some pretty minor shit like vandalism and breaking and entering. She bawled her eyes out when we arrived at the doors fully sure her fate was Damnation, them tears stopped unnaturally fast once I took a detour left through the Mariana Forest and out the other side to the tram to Nocturland, a type of purgatory where people can work to gain entry to Paradise. She had made some mistakes but she had mostly learned from them and her brother’s accident was exactly that, an accident. I’m not a betting man but I would be positive she would end up in Paradise sooner rather than later.
After a hard day's work, I drove to a McDonald’s to pick up a quick bite to eat and then drove to The Depot so I could clock in my points for the day and update my table standing, I also needed to pick up my paycheck. Once everything was sorted I threw my bag into my locker and grabbed my hat I had left there yesterday, I went to head back out to the car and finish for the day, however, the manager of The Depot, Mr.Anyew stopped me on the way out.
“Freddie, just the man I was looking for. We got another lost soul that needs transporting and I know you were complaining about missing out on some points the past while so I thought I’d give it to you especially since it’s on your way...of course, I can just give it to Grigor he’s in the rec room at the moment.”
Mentioning Grigor was a low blow, we were both at the top of the rankings and Mr.Anyew knew I wouldn’t say no if Grigor was the second option.
“Nah, it’s okay I can do it boss” I responded before putting my hat on and turning to leave. “Great, I just sent the details to your vehicle, enjoy!” I heard the large Eygptian bellow towards me as I walked out the front door.
I got to my car and checked the iPad for the details, only a location and a cause of death was given, this was pretty uncommon but it had happened a few times before, sometimes details got lost in the mix but thankfully you only needed a location, so I set off towards the pickup point to collect Mr Died From Gunshot Wounds.
The best thing about working for Styx was also the worst, you really never know who you might have to pick up on any given day, they could be interesting or horrible. They could truly be anyone, it is a real double-edged sword and when I arrived at the pickup point I was cut by the sword.
“Vince?”
submitted by midniteauth0r to nosleep [link] [comments]

Ranking the P5R Palaces!

Howdhee-ho everyone!
So the other day I did a ranking of all the Showtime attacks. I’d said that if it got a bit of attention and people seemed interested in this kind of stuff, I’d do rankings for other Persona 5 bits.
So today I thought I’d explore Palaces. Now, this one is going to be a bit lengthy because Palaces have a lot to talk about.
And for the usual disclaimer; Spoilers ahead! And everything from here is just my own take on it. If you feel differently, awesome! I’d love to hear your thoughts as well!
So, here are the main criteria I’m basing this stuff on.
“Story” - Now, this isn’t a plot review, but rather a review of how the Palace feels in relation to the story. Essentially, how well does this Palace fit, and does it make sense for the ruler?
“Creativeness” - How creative does the Palace feel?
“Gimmicks” - Puzzles, areas, things like that. Are they good? Do they fit thematically?
“Atmosphere” - From design, to enemies, to music. How does it feel? Does it match the tone of the current arc?
“Length” - This is not necessarily “how long is the Palace” but rather “How long does it FEEL”. Does it drag on? Does it feel too short?
Also, I will NOT be including major bosses as part of the Palace. I’ll be covering bosses another day!
So without further ado… let’s dive right in with what I feel is the worst Palace. And I don’t think this one will be a very hot take.
#9 - Okumura’s Big Bang Death Star
Yikes
Alright. I’m gonna tackle this one at a time, just going down the criteria list.
So to start with the story, I don’t think that a space station makes sense, because thematically it’s a bit… odd. Realistically, the whole “point” of Okumura’s arc is that he wants to “Ascend to the political world”. And you uh… can’t ascend much further than outer space. I think they could have gotten the same general idea with the Palace being something like a NASA Headquarters. Then you still get the space feeling, and the concept of “escaping to Utopia”. I’ll admit this one is a bit of a nitpick. But it’s always been a nagging issue for me.
Now, this is a pretty creative design for a Palace. A giant space station with faceless, robotic drones sacrificing themselves for their leader. It screams of Star Wars with the Stormtroopers just letting themselves get ripped apart for Palpy and Vader. And honestly I remember feeling this sort of overwhelming sense of wonder as I walked into the Palace for the first time and saw SPACE sprawled out in front of me. It’s cool.
Now, here’s where the problems come in. The gimmicks. Not only are they not good, but GODS ABOVE they are repetitive. First there’s the “robot interrogation” section. Try to find the highest ranking robot. But first you need to go through all the ranks below him. If I wanted to be sent up a chain of command until I talked to someone who is actually useful, I’d call up tech support. And fun fact, calling tech support is awful and nobody does it for fun. Well, except apparently the person who designed this “puzzle”. Then we have the breaking arms and lunchtime puzzles which are just… build a bridge here, hit the button, sprint across to the new bridge, make another bridge, run back to the third bridge. I dunno. It’s very uninspired. And then we have the airlocks. Or as I like to call it, wasted potential. This puzzle COULD HAVE BEEN great. But they made it so overly complex and so long that it gets grating.
Now, for the atmosphere. Honestly, I think this Palace does atmosphere very well (which is ironic since it’s in space). But it really gives the idea of a ruthless, corporate conglomerate. And while I think the music is one of the worst tracks in the game, it really does fit here. It’s tedious, repetitive, and droning. Just like working in fast food (and being in this Palace).
And length. Yeah. It’s long. Probably the longest Palace. It definitely feels like it.
So yeah. This Palace is kind of not great.
#8 - Kaneshiro in the House from Disney/Pixar’s Up
Now, I don’t want people to think I hate this Palace. Because I don’t. But I do find it to be one of the more bland ones. It’s just kind of… uninspired. Eh. I’ll get more into it below.
So as far as the story goes it makes sense but… there isn’t a lot TO Kaneshiro. Like, he’s a guy who likes robbing people. We never get to know him beyond that. So a bank is kind of the only option. So it makes sense because well… nothing else would as far as we know.
And unfortunately, this impacts how creative the Palace is. It’s cool that it’s flying, but the flight part is a little… irrelevant. Once you’re in the bank it’s just kind of… a bank. Like, there’s nothing really unique or cool about it. It’s a bank. All of it. The whole thing is just a normal, run of the mill bank once you’re inside. Well… except the money pit. Which is a full like 5 minutes of the Palace so ya’know.
Now, for the Gimmicks. There is one. One singular gimmick. And I don’t really like it. Kaneshiro’s bank has the “letter math”. Basically he has a bunch of notes with things like D=1, U=2, M=3, and B=4. Then you go to a panel with the word DUMB on it and put in the code 1234 (sounds like something an idiot would put on his luggage). So yeah. It… certainly exists.
Now I will say, I do like the atmosphere. And the BGM is, as the kids say, “A bop”. I’d say it’s the… fourth best Palace track. And the Palace DOES really feel like a bank. It’s heavily guarded, and you really get the feeling of “I don’t belong here” after you pass the main room. This is the only Palace that really made me feel like I was trespassing somewhere I wasn’t welcomed. And if you’ve ever been anywhere in a bank that isn’t the main hall, I’m sure you get the feeling. And the basement level does give me that sort of “bank heist” vibe.
Now, I don’t know how long this Palace is. But it certainly feels long. I think most of this is the basement level. Once you get to the lettenumber puzzle it feels kind of like it starts dragging.
So yeah. This Palace is… it’s okay. It’s not good. It’s not bad. It just kinda exists.
#7 - S.S. Shido
I don’t know how controversial this one will be. But I don’t really enjoy this Palace all that much. It gets REALLY old REALLY quickly. But it does have some merits.
Firstly, the Ship idea makes a lot of sense. Especially after Haru just goes “Here’s the metaphor!” in case the player doesn’t get it. Yeah, it makes sense that Shido has a giant cruise liner filled with only the elite as the country around him collapses. Plus, he does talk about “steering the country” more often than Ryuji says “FOR REAL?!” … okay. Maybe that’s not factual. But you get my point.
Now I will say, this Palace is very creative. The idea of a giant Ship cutting through buildings is cool. And I like how it’s treated as a cruise liner because it allows for a lot of additional areas, like the pool restaurant, and obviously the usual ship bits.
Now for the gimmicks… there is one. It’s the rat puzzle. And it can go fuck itself. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.
Now for the atmosphere. It feels perfect. The Palace itself feels grand, powerful, and intimidating, and the score accompanying it amplifies that feeling by quite a lot. I think it’s a bit of a step down from other Palaces, but it certainly makes sense and really works in regards to Shido.
As for length… holy hell this Palace is long. Both literally and mentally. It has basically 5 mini levels, really annoying and long puzzles, and a whole game’s worth of dialogue. I get that they have a lot of loose ends to wrap up but ye gods this Palace feels like it takes an eternity to beat.
This Palace is the textbook definition of wasted potential. It could have been amazing. It has all the pieces it needed to be. But they squander them by diluting the palace with annoying puzzles and WAY too much tangentially-related plot stuff.
#6 - King Kamoshida’s Crazy Castle
Now, I know that I have this one at 6th. But that isn’t a bad thing. I personally think this is the first “good” palace. It’s nothing amazing or crazy, but for the first Palace it’s nice and fun.
Obviously the Castle aesthetic works with Kamoshida. It makes a lot of sense seeing how he lords his power over everyone in the school. Even Principal Eggman gives in to him. So an idea of him lording over everyone obviously makes a lot of sense. And a bit of a fun fact, the guards in his Palace have the same voices as the other teachers.
And the big Castle is actually pretty creative. For a first Palace it really sets a tone, and standard for other Palaces to follow. It’s grand, absurd, and completely disgusting. Makes sense for something formed from distorted desires. There are also some really cool areas like the chandelier hopping, and the crazy, distorted upper floors.
Now for gimmicks. They’re kind of simple. The two present are the book ones, where you need to place the proper book in the proper section, and the one where you need to kill enemies to get the eyes for the statue. Neither are particularly hard, or particularly inspired. They aren’t bad though. And they aren’t overly-long. They’re standard RPG trope puzzles.
Now the atmosphere is kind of… strange. Honestly, I find it hard to take this Palace seriously. The BGM sounds like something out of a 70’s porno, and the Palace itself honestly feels like 70’s porn meets Dungeons and Dragons. It doesn’t really fit the story content of the outside world. It doesn’t reflect Kamoshida’s abuse or Shiho’s suicide. It feels a little too silly. I still like the aesthetic, but I don’t think it really fits with the plot. It needed to be more serious.
And this Palace, unfortunately, does start to drag. By the time you reach the messed up, hyper distorted floors where the floor tiles are floating around, the Palace is getting a bit old. Though this could be due to the fact that you don’t really get to make any progress during your first like… four visits.
Overall, it’s a solid Palace, and a great starting point.
#5 - Madarame’s Museum (I couldn’t think of a creative name for this one. I’m sorry.)
I really like this one. It’s fantastic. And I realize saying that for the 5th ranked Palace is kind of weird, but honestly I think that’s just a testament to how great the next four are.
Starting off like normal, this Palace makes a lot of sense… but I always found it odd that his distortion is a Museum. Because like… that isn’t exactly unusual. He’s a renowned artist with a ton of very famous works. I feel like he has art in museums. I mean, we’re introduced to him at an exhibit. I dunno. It’s a nitpicky issue that I don’t want to press. Regardless, it obviously makes sense. And I love how all the paintings in here are sort of distorted in their own way to show how Madarame has to change his own cognition to accept his art as his own.
And uh… yeah. This Palace is creative as hell. Sure, at first it feels like a normal museum. But stuff like the weird golden staircase abyss, the awesome courtyard, and the painting puzzles are so cool.
Speaking of the painting puzzles. There are two major puzzles here. The painting ones where you enter paintings Mario 64 style, and the Sayuri puzzle.
The one where you enter the paintings is kind of cool, because ultimately it’s about remembering the path that works, while also unlocking other paths to take and figuring out which path will let you escape. It’s cool, and brief, but a little TOO easy. Then there’s the Sayuri puzzle which I love. Basically you are presented with a few different paintings. All the Sayuri, but with slightly different modifications. And you need to pick the “real” one. I like this because it tests how well you were paying attention. They start off obvious, but the differences get more and more subtle as it goes on. It’s a great gimmick.
As far as the atmosphere goes, this place is great. Not only does it match the overall feeling of an art museum, but it honestly has this sort of tenseness to it. I can’t really describe it, but it almost feels ominous. And I think that fits given that Madarame himself is a rather ominous figure. We know he’s bad, but we can’t really prove it for most of the arc.
And I think this Palace has a perfect length. It doesn’t feel rushed or like it’s dragging, and I think that’s more because of the physical length. It isn’t an overly long Palace as far as playtime goes.
So yeah. This one is pretty damn good. I like it.
#4 - Sae’s Controversial Casino
Yeah. This one is going to piss people off. I know that a LOT of people have this as their favorite Palace. And I can understand why. But it has a few issues that sort of drag it down for me. They don’t drag it down MUCH, but they keep it from getting any higher on my list.
Obviously, the Palace makes sense as far as the story is concerned. Sae sees her job as essentially rigged gambling. Anyone outside “the system” thinks they can win, but in reality it’s not possible. As such, everything in her Palace is rigged to make it unwinnable. Or it SHOULD be. But we have a Futaba. So we get to cheat too. “Mwehehe”.
Honestly, the casino and premise is very creative. The concept of a Casino full of rigged games that you need to unrig is awesome, and the layout and mission is great. Also, I love how they have it set up so Sae actively wants you to try to reach her. It’s incredibly unique as far as that goes.
Now for gimmicks. There’s really only one, because most of the time you’re either walking around or killing things. And this gimmick… kind of sucks to be honest. I’m talking about the House of Darkness. It’s the only part that is more than a cutscene, standard area, or standart fight. But all it is is a standard area you can’t see. And it sort of sucks. It’s really… boring. And kind of lengthy. It’s pretty bad.
As far as the atmosphere goes it uh… well, it certainly feels like a Casino. And Sae’s presence throughout makes it feel much like how the plot does outside. Sae and the SIU are closing in, rigging the game and challenging you to take the fight to them. It’s great, and I love the plot elements here.
And now onto my major gripe. The length. This is definitely the shortest Palace. And it feels short half of the time. The problem is that the parts that DON’T feel short are painfully bad, and feel painfully long. I’m talking mostly about the Dice Game, and the House of Darkness. As I just said, the House of Darkness is little more than some dark corridors. And unfortunately, the Dice Game is the same, but without the darkness. There’s no real “Game” to this Casino. It’s just a bunch of drab, grey hallways that feel like a nuisance to traverse. It sucks when what you WANT is to get to the good Casino shenanigans (like the Arena) but instead have… this stuff. It makes the Palace feel like it drags, even though it’s probably the shortest one.
So yeah. I still love this Palace but it has some glaring issues that I can’t overlook.
#3 - Lil Sister’s Big Pyramid
God I love this Palace. Much like with my Showtime list, I honestly think I could lump my top 3 all in as my “Favorite Palace” but for the sake of this I did want to try to dive into this on a deeper level. I’ll admit, too, that from here on a lot of these placements are more on gut feeling.
Anyway, to start off, this one works incredibly well as far as story. Throughout the entire Palace we see Futaba go back and forth between wanting help and rejecting help. Her shadow knows we’re busting in from day one and follows us around just like Sae does. But due to her desire to push people away, we are constantly fighting an uphill battle against her to save her, even though she wants us to save her. And the fact that her Palace is a pyramid out in the middle of the desert is awesome symbolism for how Futaba’s position is. She hates the idea of being near other people, so she locks herself away.
Now, I personally think this Palace is super creative. It has a nice blend of ancient Egypt with the pyramid, but also ultra-modern tech stuff. Random flecks of data appearing all around, mechanical traps, and the room before the boss which is basically a massive data stream with floating hunks of pyramid floor in it. It’s just so cool. It’s a combination of ancient and modern that shouldn’t work, but does.
As for gimmicks, there are three major ones here and I think they’re all great. Firstly are the Anubis puzzles. These are pretty simple, but the gist is you grab an orb from one statue and need to put it in another. However taking them blocks off certain paths. It’s not super hard. But I like it.
Next, there is the binary puzzle. Again, fairly simple. There’s a red column and a blue one, and you need to put in certain binary codes in these columns to unlock certain doors.
Finally, there’re the picture puzzles. And honestly I love these. You come to a mural of something important to Futaba’s life and you need to rearrange them to make the picture “correct”. I love it because the scrambled appearance is symbolic of Futaba’s distorted view of these events. And they get harder as you do more, but never overly hard. It’s just a quick, fun mini-game.
As for atmosphere, I think it does a great job of showing the isolation, desperation, and mistrust Futaba feels. The music score (my 3rd favorite Palace theme) is absolutely amazing and the wailing guitar helps to show the pain in Futaba’s heart.
And while this one is lengthy, it never feels overly long or overly short. It changes up the pace enough to feel fresh, and doesn’t overuse the elements it has.
So as you can see, I have no problems with this Palace. Only things I like. Which is why Placing these top three was so hard for me. But I think the things I like in the other two I happen to like more.
#2 - The Public’s Prison. Memes and Mentos.
Now, Mementos itself is kinda bleh. We all know this. But the Depths of Mementos, the Prison of Regression, is absolutely incredible. And I KNOW this one is going to be controversial as hell. But I can’t help it. I love this Palace. It’s so good.
To start with, obviously this one works with the story outside because… well… it’s the one most linked to the outside plot. This is about every single person in the world being unwilling to commit and plot their own lives. And this place thematically matches. It’s a prison, because every person sees themselves as a prisoner.
And the creativeness levels are off the charts. Sure, they could have gone with a stereotypical “hell” level but they didn’t. It’s a prison of almost alien design. It’s the kind of weird, off the wall evil that I’d expect to see in Mass Effect. Like I could see the Reapers living in the Prison of Regression while they wait for the next cycle. It’s just so damn cool looking. I love this place. It’s so menacingly malevolent without beating you over the head with the horror it holds. Plus the post-fusion part in the second half is so wild and insane looking. It looks like something I’d expect to see in Doom.
The Gimmicks are also great. While there’s only one real Gimmick, it’s a fun one. A puzzle where you need to light up tiles on the floor. The first one is a gimme. But they increase in difficulty to hilariously easy, to you actually needing to complete other puzzles first in order to do the one necessary to progress.
I already sort of touched on this with the creative part, but the atmosphere of just existential dread this place holds is immense. And the BGM, Freedom and Security (my personal favorite Palace theme) really hammers that home. It has an eerie, ominous feeling to it that really works well in tandem with the rest of the level. And as I mentioned above, tt flips from being dreadful and terrifying, to having our heroes triumphantly running up a staircase of bones, destroying Yaldy’s minions as they march on to kick his ass like Doom Guy sprinting through Hell to kill a big boss demon.
Finally, it’s a perfect length. Not overly long, but not short either. And the plot elements halfway through give a nice breather and tone shift before thrusting you into the awesome second half as you climb up to the Grail’s chamber.
If I had to give a reason why this one is in second place, it’s that the second half is a little too focused on being cinematically badass that it foregoes exploration in exchange for a linear path. And while it works well, I still prefer the first half of the Palace.
#1 - Dr. Snack’s Hospital of Happiness
Here it is folks. My Number one. I don’t think this one will be as controversial as some of the others. But even so. Here we are!
So to start, obviously this Palace makes a ton of sense for Maruki. He was intended to get a research lab built in the spot where this Palace forms, and the Palace IS a research lab. So obviously that works. And the whole concept was about using cognition to change people’s lives for the better. We can see this in the Palace during the quiz section where we see how Maruki guides patients to his happiness. Which is thematically nice because it shows that while Maruki claims he wants everyone to be happy with their desires, he actually wants them happy with his. Anyway, I’m rambling. The Palace is great as far as story and makes sense for the character.
And yeah. This place is creative as hell. It’s not just a research lab. It’s a massive spire with rainbow bridges, massive telescopes, and a dome on top meant to represent heaven since Maruki sees himself as God. It’s the most grandiose, over the top thing in this game. And I’ll remind you, in this game you shoot a God in the face with a sword gun.
*ahem* anyway. The gimmicks here are really damn good. The first thing is the awesome Quiz section. I do think it’s a little bogged down by the whole “The team must meet and discuss” part, but I love how this whole thing is just “How well do you know Maruki?”. If you know him well, you get a reward. If you don’t, you get punished. Then there’s the color bridge section which is just “If the Okumura space tunnels didn’t suck”. It’s so good because it requires a lot more strategy and a lot less luck than the Okumura port. And if you make a mistake it’s a much easier fix.
The atmosphere is amazing too. The sterile but obviously corrupted first bit when you’re in the main building feels very clinical. But the strange bits of oddities really gives off an other-worldly vibe. Remember how I said the Prison of Regression felt like it had Mass Effect vibes? This part has like… Resident Evil vibes. It’s like a modern hospital tainted by an otherworldly monstrosity and it’s awesome (and, actually, not far from the truth. Much love, Azathoth.) Oh, and the BGM is my 2nd favorite. I fucking adore Gentle Madman.
As for the length, I do think it’s probably the longest Palace. It definitely comes close with Okumura. The difference is you’re actually forced out about a third of the way through and, if you’re playing “optimally”, you won’t be back for a bit. So it never feels like it gets old or tired. And it changes up often enough, and with drastic enough changes that it never drags on like the bottom three Palaces on this list. So it’s great.
GOD DAMN I LOVE THIS PALACE.
Aaaaanyway. That’s my list. I’m thinking I’ll do bosses next, but I dunno. What would you guys want a massive rank essay on? Bosses? Awakenings? Phantom Thief members? Party Personas? And what are your thoughts on this here list? How would you rank the Palaces?
I hope you all enjoyed this, and I look forward to hearing your opinions in the comments!
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in access, the relationship between a table and a database is.

In word 2010, the following statement about the initial drop is correct.

Interrupt service sub function does not need to be called in the program, but after applying for interrupt, the CPU automatically finds the corresponding program according to the interrupt number.

Normal view mode is the default view mode for word documents.

A common variable is defined as follows: Union data {int a; int b; float C;} data; how much memory space does the variable data occupy in VC6.0?

______ It is not a relational database management system.

In the basic model of decision support system, what is in the core position is:
among the following key factors of software outsourcing projects, () is the factor that affects the final product quality and production efficiency of software outsourcing.

Word Chinese textThe shortcut for copying is ().
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Microservices: Service-to-service communication

The following excerpt about microservice communication is from the new Microsoft eBook, Architecting Cloud-Native .NET Apps for Azure. The book is freely available for online reading and in a downloadable .PDF format at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dotnet/architecture/cloud-native/

Microservice Guidance
When constructing a cloud-native application, you'll want to be sensitive to how back-end services communicate with each other. Ideally, the less inter-service communication, the better. However, avoidance isn't always possible as back-end services often rely on one another to complete an operation.
There are several widely accepted approaches to implementing cross-service communication. The type of communication interaction will often determine the best approach.
Consider the following interaction types:
Microservice systems typically use a combination of these interaction types when executing operations that require cross-service interaction. Let's take a close look at each and how you might implement them.

Queries

Many times, one microservice might need to query another, requiring an immediate response to complete an operation. A shopping basket microservice may need product information and a price to add an item to its basket. There are a number of approaches for implementing query operations.

Request/Response Messaging

One option for implementing this scenario is for the calling back-end microservice to make direct HTTP requests to the microservices it needs to query, shown in Figure 4-8.

Figure 4-8. Direct HTTP communication
While direct HTTP calls between microservices are relatively simple to implement, care should be taken to minimize this practice. To start, these calls are always synchronous and will block the operation until a result is returned or the request times outs. What were once self-contained, independent services, able to evolve independently and deploy frequently, now become coupled to each other. As coupling among microservices increase, their architectural benefits diminish.
Executing an infrequent request that makes a single direct HTTP call to another microservice might be acceptable for some systems. However, high-volume calls that invoke direct HTTP calls to multiple microservices aren't advisable. They can increase latency and negatively impact the performance, scalability, and availability of your system. Even worse, a long series of direct HTTP communication can lead to deep and complex chains of synchronous microservices calls, shown in Figure 4-9:

Figure 4-9. Chaining HTTP queries
You can certainly imagine the risk in the design shown in the previous image. What happens if Step #3 fails? Or Step #8 fails? How do you recover? What if Step #6 is slow because the underlying service is busy? How do you continue? Even if all works correctly, think of the latency this call would incur, which is the sum of the latency of each step.
The large degree of coupling in the previous image suggests the services weren't optimally modeled. It would behoove the team to revisit their design.

Materialized View pattern

A popular option for removing microservice coupling is the Materialized View pattern. With this pattern, a microservice stores its own local, denormalized copy of data that's owned by other services. Instead of the Shopping Basket microservice querying the Product Catalog and Pricing microservices, it maintains its own local copy of that data. This pattern eliminates unnecessary coupling and improves reliability and response time. The entire operation executes inside a single process. We explore this pattern and other data concerns in Chapter 5.

Service Aggregator Pattern

Another option for eliminating microservice-to-microservice coupling is an Aggregator microservice, shown in purple in Figure 4-10.

Figure 4-10. Aggregator microservice
The pattern isolates an operation that makes calls to multiple back-end microservices, centralizing its logic into a specialized microservice. The purple checkout aggregator microservice in the previous figure orchestrates the workflow for the Checkout operation. It includes calls to several back-end microservices in a sequenced order. Data from the workflow is aggregated and returned to the caller. While it still implements direct HTTP calls, the aggregator microservice reduces direct dependencies among back-end microservices.

Request/Reply Pattern

Another approach for decoupling synchronous HTTP messages is a Request-Reply Pattern, which uses queuing communication. Communication using a queue is always a one-way channel, with a producer sending the message and consumer receiving it. With this pattern, both a request queue and response queue are implemented, shown in Figure 4-11.

Figure 4-11. Request-reply pattern
Here, the message producer creates a query-based message that contains a unique correlation ID and places it into a request queue. The consuming service dequeues the messages, processes it and places the response into the response queue with the same correlation ID. The producer service dequeues the message, matches it with the correlation ID and continues processing. We cover queues in detail in the next section.

Commands

Another type of communication interaction is a command. A microservice may need another microservice to perform an action. The Ordering microservice may need the Shipping microservice to create a shipment for an approved order. In Figure 4-12, one microservice, called a Producer, sends a message to another microservice, the Consumer, commanding it to do something.

Figure 4-12. Command interaction with a queue
Most often, the Producer doesn't require a response and can fire-and-forget the message. If a reply is needed, the Consumer sends a separate message back to Producer on another channel. A command message is best sent asynchronously with a message queue. supported by a lightweight message broker. In the previous diagram, note how a queue separates and decouples both services.
A message queue is an intermediary construct through which a producer and consumer pass a message. Queues implement an asynchronous, point-to-point messaging pattern. The Producer knows where a command needs to be sent and routes appropriately. The queue guarantees that a message is processed by exactly one of the consumer instances that are reading from the channel. In this scenario, either the producer or consumer service can scale out without affecting the other. As well, technologies can be disparate on each side, meaning that we might have a Java microservice calling a Golang microservice.
In chapter 1, we talked about backing services. Backing services are ancillary resources upon which cloud-native systems depend. Message queues are backing services. The Azure cloud supports two types of message queues that your cloud-native systems can consume to implement command messaging: Azure Storage Queues and Azure Service Bus Queues.

Azure Storage Queues

Azure storage queues offer a simple queueing infrastructure that is fast, affordable, and backed by Azure storage accounts.
Azure Storage Queues feature a REST-based queuing mechanism with reliable and persistent messaging. They provide a minimal feature set, but are inexpensive and store millions of messages. Their capacity ranges up to 500 TB. A single message can be up to 64 KB in size.
You can access messages from anywhere in the world via authenticated calls using HTTP or HTTPS. Storage queues can scale out to large numbers of concurrent clients to handle traffic spikes.
That said, there are limitations with the service:
Figure 4-13 shows the hierarchy of an Azure Storage Queue.

Figure 4-13. Storage queue hierarchy
In the previous figure, note how storage queues store their messages in the underlying Azure Storage account.
For developers, Microsoft provides several client and server-side libraries for Storage queue processing. Most major platforms are supported including .NET, Java, JavaScript, Ruby, Python, and Go. Developers should never communicate directly with these libraries. Doing so will tightly couple your microservice code to the Azure Storage Queue service. It's a better practice to insulate the implementation details of the API. Introduce an intermediation layer, or intermediate API, that exposes generic operations and encapsulates the concrete library. This loose coupling enables you to swap out one queuing service for another without having to make changes to the mainline service code.
Azure Storage queues are an economical option to implement command messaging in your cloud-native applications. Especially when a queue size will exceed 80 GB, or a simple feature set is acceptable. You only pay for the storage of the messages; there are no fixed hourly charges.

Azure Service Bus Queues

For more complex messaging requirements, consider Azure Service Bus queues.
Sitting atop a robust message infrastructure, Azure Service Bus supports a brokered messaging model. Messages are reliably stored in a broker (the queue) until received by the consumer. The queue guarantees First-In/First-Out (FIFO) message delivery, respecting the order in which messages were added to the queue.
The size of a message can be much larger, up to 256 KB. Messages are persisted in the queue for an unlimited period of time. Service Bus supports not only HTTP-based calls, but also provides full support for the AMQP protocol. AMQP is an open-standard across vendors that supports a binary protocol and higher degrees of reliability.
Service Bus provides a rich set of features, including transaction support and a duplicate detection feature. The queue guarantees "at most once delivery" per message. It automatically discards a message that has already been sent. If a producer is in doubt, it can resend the same message, and Service Bus guarantees that only one copy will be processed. Duplicate detection frees you from having to build additional infrastructure plumbing.
Two more enterprise features are partitioning and sessions. A conventional Service Bus queue is handled by a single message broker and stored in a single message store. But, Service Bus Partitioning spreads the queue across multiple message brokers and message stores. The overall throughput is no longer limited by the performance of a single message broker or messaging store. A temporary outage of a messaging store doesn't render a partitioned queue unavailable.
Service Bus Sessions provide a way to group-related messages. Imagine a workflow scenario where messages must be processed together and the operation completed at the end. To take advantage, sessions must be explicitly enabled for the queue and each related messaged must contain the same session ID.
However, there are some important caveats: Service Bus queues size is limited to 80 GB, which is much smaller than what's available from store queues. Additionally, Service Bus queues incur a base cost and charge per operation.
Figure 4-14 outlines the high-level architecture of a Service Bus queue.

Figure 4-14. Service Bus queue
In the previous figure, note the point-to-point relationship. Two instances of the same provider are enqueuing messages into a single Service Bus queue. Each message is consumed by only one of three consumer instances on the right. Next, we discuss how to implement messaging where different consumers may all be interested the same message.

Events

Message queuing is an effective way to implement communication where a producer can asynchronously send a consumer a message. However, what happens when many different consumers are interested in the same message? A dedicated message queue for each consumer wouldn't scale well and would become difficult to manage.
To address this scenario, we move to the third type of message interaction, the event. One microservice announces that an action had occurred. Other microservices, if interested, react to the action, or event.
Eventing is a two-step process. For a given state change, a microservice publishes an event to a message broker, making it available to any other interested microservice. The interested microservice is notified by subscribing to the event in the message broker. You use the Publish/Subscribe pattern to implement event-based communication.
Figure 4-15 shows a shopping basket microservice publishing an event with two other microservices subscribing to it.

Figure 4-15. Event-Driven messaging
Note the event bus component that sits in the middle of the communication channel. It's a custom class that encapsulates the message broker and decouples it from the underlying application. The ordering and inventory microservices independently operate the event with no knowledge of each other, nor the shopping basket microservice. When the registered event is published to the event bus, they act upon it.
With eventing, we move from queuing technology to topics. A topic is similar to a queue, but supports a one-to-many messaging pattern. One microservice publishes a message. Multiple subscribing microservices can choose to receive and act upon that message. Figure 4-16 shows a topic architecture.

Figure 4-16. Topic architecture
In the previous figure, publishers send messages to the topic. At the end, subscribers receive messages from subscriptions. In the middle, the topic forwards messages to subscriptions based on a set of rules, shown in dark blue boxes. Rules act as a filter that forward specific messages to a subscription. Here, a "GetPrice" event would be sent to the price and logging Subscriptions as the logging subscription has chosen to receive all messages. A "GetInformation" event would be sent to the information and logging subscriptions.
The Azure cloud supports two different topic services: Azure Service Bus Topics and Azure EventGrid.

Azure Service Bus Topics

Sitting on top of the same robust brokered message model of Azure Service Bus queues are Azure Service Bus Topics. A topic can receive messages from multiple independent publishers and send messages to up to 2,000 subscribers. Subscriptions can be dynamically added or removed at runtime without stopping the system or recreating the topic.
Many advanced features from Azure Service Bus queues are also available for topics, including Duplicate Detection and Transaction support. By default, Service Bus topics are handled by a single message broker and stored in a single message store. But, Service Bus Partitioning scales a topic by spreading it across many message brokers and message stores.
Scheduled Message Delivery tags a message with a specific time for processing. The message won't appear in the topic before that time. Message Deferral enables you to defer a retrieval of a message to a later time. Both are commonly used in workflow processing scenarios where operations are processed in a particular order. You can postpone processing of received messages until prior work has been completed.
Service Bus topics are a robust and proven technology for enabling publish/subscribe communication in your cloud-native systems.

Azure Event Grid

While Azure Service Bus is a battle-tested messaging broker with a full set of enterprise features, Azure Event Grid is the new kid on the block.
At first glance, Event Grid may look like just another topic-based messaging system. However, it's different in many ways. Focused on event-driven workloads, it enables real-time event processing, deep Azure integration, and an open-platform - all on serverless infrastructure. It's designed for contemporary cloud-native and serverless applications
As a centralized eventing backplane, or pipe, Event Grid reacts to events inside Azure resources and from your own services.
Event notifications are published to an Event Grid Topic, which, in turn, routes each event to a subscription. Subscribers map to subscriptions and consume the events. Like Service Bus, Event Grid supports a filtered subscriber model where a subscription sets rule for the events it wishes to receive. Event Grid provides fast throughput with a guarantee of 10 million events per second enabling near real-time delivery - far more than what Azure Service Bus can generate.
A sweet spot for Event Grid is its deep integration into the fabric of Azure infrastructure. An Azure resource, such as Cosmos DB, can publish built-in events directly to other interested Azure resources - without the need for custom code. Event Grid can publish events from an Azure Subscription, Resource Group, or Service, giving developers fine-grained control over the lifecycle of cloud resources. However, Event Grid isn't limited to Azure. It's an open platform that can consume custom HTTP events published from applications or third-party services and route events to external subscribers.
When publishing and subscribing to native events from Azure resources, no coding is required. With simple configuration, you can integrate events from one Azure resource to another leveraging built-in plumbing for Topics and Subscriptions. Figure 4-17 shows the anatomy of Event Grid.

Figure 4-17. Event Grid anatomy
A major difference between EventGrid and Service Bus is the underlying message exchange pattern.
Service Bus implements an older style pull model in which the downstream subscriber actively polls the topic subscription for new messages. On the upside, this approach gives the subscriber full control of the pace at which it processes messages. It controls when and how many messages to process at any given time. Unread messages remain in the subscription until processed. A significant shortcoming is the latency between the time the event is generated and the polling operation that pulls that message to the subscriber for processing. Also, the overhead of constant polling for the next event consumes resources and money.
EventGrid, however, is different. It implements a push model in which events are sent to the EventHandlers as received, giving near real-time event delivery. It also reduces cost as the service is triggered only when it's needed to consume an event – not continually as with polling. That said, an event handler must handle the incoming load and provide throttling mechanisms to protect itself from becoming overwhelmed. Many Azure services that consume these events, such as Azure Functions and Logic Apps provide automatic autoscaling capabilities to handle increased loads.
Event Grid is a fully managed serverless cloud service. It dynamically scales based on your traffic and charges you only for your actual usage, not pre-purchased capacity. The first 100,000 operations per month are free – operations being defined as event ingress (incoming event notifications), subscription delivery attempts, management calls, and filtering by subject. With 99.99% availability, EventGrid guarantees the delivery of an event within a 24-hour period, with built-in retry functionality for unsuccessful delivery. Undelivered messages can be moved to a "dead-letter" queue for resolution. Unlike Azure Service Bus, Event Grid is tuned for fast performance and doesn't support features like ordered messaging, transactions, and sessions.

Streaming messages in the Azure cloud

Azure Service Bus and Event Grid provide great support for applications that expose single, discrete events like a new document has been inserted into a Cosmos DB. But, what if your cloud-native system needs to process a stream of related events? Event streams are more complex. They're typically time-ordered, interrelated, and must be processed as a group.
Azure Event Hub is a data streaming platform and event ingestion service that collects, transforms, and stores events. It's fine-tuned to capture streaming data, such as continuous event notifications emitted from a telemetry context. The service is highly scalable and can store and process millions of events per second. Shown in Figure 4-18, it's often a front door for an event pipeline, decoupling ingest stream from event consumption.

Figure 4-18. Azure Event Hub
Event Hub supports low latency and configurable time retention. Unlike queues and topics, Event Hubs keep event data after it's been read by a consumer. This feature enables other data analytic services, both internal and external, to replay the data for further analysis. Events stored in event hub are only deleted upon expiration of the retention period, which is one day by default, but configurable.
Event Hub supports common event publishing protocols including HTTPS and AMQP. It also supports Kafka 1.0. Existing Kafka applications can communicate with Event Hub using the Kafka protocol providing an alternative to managing large Kafka clusters. Many open-source cloud-native systems embrace Kafka.
Event Hubs implements message streaming through a partitioned consumer model in which each consumer only reads a specific subset, or partition, of the message stream. This pattern enables tremendous horizontal scale for event processing and provides other stream-focused features that are unavailable in queues and topics. A partition is an ordered sequence of events that is held in an event hub. As newer events arrive, they're added to the end of this sequence. Figure 4-19 shows partitioning in an Event Hub.

Figure 4-19. Event Hub partitioning
Instead of reading from the same resource, each consumer group reads across a subset, or partition, of the message stream.
For cloud-native applications that must stream large numbers of events, Azure Event Hub can be a robust and affordable solution.

About the Author:
Rob Vettor is a Principal Cloud-Native Architect for the Microservice Enterprise Service Group. Reach out to Rob at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) or https://thinkingincloudnative.com/weclome-to-cloud-native/
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Heritage (4)

First Chapter
Previous Chapter
The view of Sanctuary was made even more impressive as An’Ra and his team waited in the V-Lift. Through the window, they can see the ornate streets curving through resplendent pools underneath, dotted by the occasional fountain.
“I hate this.” Vora groaned, dressed in a soldier’s standard battle uniform. “Why are we here, Commander?”
“We were investigating genocide and possible use of bioweapons,” Sonak explained, “Even without the first part, Strain Y is going to scare a lot of people. I think it’s reasonable for the Council to take a personal interest in this. Besides, I think the real issue here is the fact you might actually have to speak to the Council.”
“But...ugh, fine. Yes, I wasn’t mentally prepared for it when An’Ra came along and went, Party’s over, ass to the Council, now.”
“Hey now.” An’Ra feigned offense, “I didn’t say it that way, did I?”
“Kind of close, Commander.” Sonak chuckled.
“But still, I think that this isn’t about keeping the galaxy safe.” Vora sighed. “I think the Council’s keeping an eye open for any opportunity to to convince the galaxy they’re still in charge.”
“Or maybe they genuinely want to make sure that we’re not at risk of dying a horrible death by watching our own bodies melt.” Sonak shrugged. “Strain Y doesn’t care if you’re an officer or infantry.”
“That assumes the Council cares about what’s going on outside of these walls.” Vora glanced over, wariness in her look.
“Either way, we’re going to get our answer. Eyes open.” An’Ra said as the V-Lift doors parted ways, revealing the same ornate architecture within. Trees and grasses stole the eye as they walked through the hallways, various government officials from the myriad races conversing and conducting whatever business they were doing. After walking up some steps, they arrived at the large double-doors that lead to the Council Chambers. Standing on each side were the guards constantly on watch for any potential attack. Both of them Anaran, as expected. On approach, the guards opened up the doors to allow An’Ra and his team in.
When they entered, the room was probably more magnificent than they expected. A grand, curved window dominated the view. An unintrusive look into the beautiful splendor of Sanctuary. Directly in front of An’Ra and his team was a pathway that led to a semi-circular desk, standing in front of the raised platform that the Council sat, who had just now noticed the arrivals and are settling themselves in.
And it was there An’Ra got a good look at the Council. Four of them, half Esti, half Huak. An’Ra secretly never liked the Esti, the way he could see menacing fangs when their flat mouths opened, or those flaps of scale that expands outward into a hood. It just unnerved him, a reason he could never really find out. As soon as he sensed that they were ready, he walked up to the desk, wearing his officer’s dress uniform, comprised of a fine, smooth fabric shirt, adorned with a fluffy sash that went from his right shoulder down to his left side, shoulder pads accented with shining studs and finished with awards placed on his top-left chest, awards hard earned back in the Great War.
“Commander An’Ra.” The Huak councilor on the far right side, Neual, began, thick fingers interlaced together as he rested his hands on the desk. “Thank you for agreeing to this unusual request, we are very appreciative.”
“It’s no trouble, Councilor.” An’Ra gave a slight bow. “How can I help?”
“We’ll start at the beginning.” The first Esti councilor, Zhur, stated, holding up a secure datapad to ensure the information is easily accessible. “Strain Y. Your report says that while there is confirmation it was used, it was not used in significant quantities. Can you elaborate on that for us?”
“Previous uses of Strain Y all had one thing in common,” An’Ra began, “The amount deployed saturated the atmosphere of the planets they were used on. This is because, despite its lethality, is not actually that infectious. In order to guarantee the total elimination of a planet’s population, you will need to deploy it in such large numbers that everyone will be infected within minutes of deployment. In this case, for Planet 3, there simply wasn’t enough to reach that threshold.”
“At which you go on to state that thermal weapons were used in a state of panic,” Yhiz, the second Esti councilor, added, “Can you explain your reasoning for us?”
“As established before, Strain Y was used on the planet. My working theory is that, when they discovered that they grossly underestimated the amount needed, they panicked and used thermal weapons to both try and burn out the supplies used and finish the genocide they started.”
“But if thermal weapons were indeed used, how did you confirm Strain Y was deployed?” Zhur spoke up.
“We found pieces of Strain Y’s genetic material on the planet’s surface.” An’Ra glanced over to Zhur’s direction. “And as I arrived back in the system, I received a quantum packet from the expedition, stating that they have confirmed that Strain Y was indeed used. Adding that with the obvious use of thermal weaponry, I concluded that the attackers didn’t use enough of the weapon to guarantee extinction.”
Zhur leaned back in her seat, scarlet eyes fixated on the desk. An’Ra couldn’t tell if she was trying to find a counter argument or just processing the information.
“Have you found any evidence that can tell us if there’s more of the strain out in the galaxy?” Neual asked after giving a sigh through his wide nostrils.
“I’m afraid not, sir. All I can definitively say is that this planet fell victim to a biological Cruel Weapon.”
“I’m more concerned about the native life.” Ghala, the final and second Huak councilor, stated after being silent. “Are you absolutely certain that none of the planet’s indigenous life survived?”
“The scientific team said that there’s a very low chance of that.” An’Ra’s ears flattened. “And after seeing the surface myself, I must agree. I don’t think we should wait for a miracle.”
“Ah...I see.” Ghala leaned back in his chair, obviously disheartened. “Even if the planet is now incapable of supporting life, we still wish to move forward with a more symbolic gesture and statement by declaring Planet 3 of System AQ 115-4A illegal for colonization.”
“But let’s move onto what I believe is the most pressing issue: the identity of the attackers.” Neual leaned forward. “Based on your report, you and the team have found nothing that neither confirms nor clears any potential suspect?”
“That’s correct, Councilor.” An’Ra nodded. “We’ve found nothing, within the system and on the planet itself, that tells us anything about who did it.”
“Are there any surviving infrastructure on the planet?” Ghala asked, straightening his posture. “Even if there isn’t much, maybe the natives’ equipment has something we can use?”
“As established before, the planet was devastated terribly. There are indeed ruins of their civilization, but whether or not we can salvage anything from them is a different story.” An’Ra answered with a sigh.
“So in that case, the Qu’Rathi are still the likely aggressors then.” Zhur stated.
“I’m not convinced.” An’Ra shook his head. “Everything we have so far is just circumstantial, nothing solid.”
“Yes, that proves they did it. But looking at it from a different perspective, nothing that proves they didn’t do it either.” Zhur countered, her eyes squinting some.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to press forward with what I think you’re planning, Councilor.” An’Ra leaned forward on the table, ears flattening back. “If you do, and we uncover evidence that clearly proves their innocence, you will be pushing an innocent race away.”
“But if we uncover evidence that proves their guilt, then the trial will be much more expedient.” Yhiz joined in, his eyes also squinting slightly.
“With respect Council, I still think that’s the worst decision you can make.” An’Ra’s teeth began to bare as he spoke. “We can’t make any decision until we acquire more evidence.”
“Nothing we have proves that Strain Y is permanently removed as a future threat.” Zhur started, “Nothing we have proves that the Federation did not do anything. Right now, we have the threat of a Class 4 Cruel Weapon looming over everyone’s heads. People will start becoming scared, start wondering if their shadows will melt them at any time.”
“I know that Councilors!” An’Ra raised his voice. “Give me time! I’m not saying this is over yet, just let me keep looking!”
“We aren’t stopping your investigation, Commander.” Neual said, holding his hand up slightly. “We’re just informing you that you may not have the time you thought you had.”
“What does that mean?” An’Ra’s ears stuck out at an angle, mixed between stiffening and anger.
The councilors looked at each other for a few moments before Zhur stood up and took in a deep breath. “Commander, based on both the collected evidence so far, and lack of any other evidence, the Council has decided to proceed with charging the Qu’Rathi Federation on counts of Genocide, possession of a Cruel Weapon, and deployment of Cruel Weapons with intent for malicious harm. Out of respect for your efforts, Commander, we will give you eight months to continue your investigation. Beyond that, we will close your investigation to allow the courts time to process and review what has been collected.”
“Are you insane?!” An’Ra shouted. “Do you even realize what would happen if you’re wrong?!”
“We do, Commander.” Zhur nodded. “But the risk is just too high. The safety of the galaxy and justice for the inhabitants of System AQ 115-4A must be our top priority. This debrief is over.”
An’Ra stood in complete and stunned silence, watching the Council casually get up from their seats and dispersing to their own private offices. It wasn’t until that they have fully left the chambers that An’Ra finally found the will to move and regroup with Sonak and Vora, both of whom are also equally stunned.
“Those ekas!” Vora exclaimed. “It’s bad enough to be quick at accusing someone, but how dare they claim this is for those humans!”
“And here I thought all those things the news were saying was just to get people to watch them.” Sonak muttered softly. “Commander, obviously this is bad.”
“I know, Sonak.” An’Ra crossed his arms, ears now pointing straight back and teeth fully bared. “We can’t let them do this.”
“But what can we do?” Sonak exclaimed. “What options do we have?”
“Alliance Enforcement!” Vora declared. “Commander, what if you filed a complaint to the Lord-Enforcer? Tell him what’s going on?”
“That’s a good idea actually.” Sonak nodded. “If we convince the Lord-Enforcer that the Council is being too hasty with our investigation, which shouldn’t be hard, he just might deny the Council’s request for prosecution!”
“I can’t imagine the Lord-Enforcer approving this even without our complaint.” An’Ra replied. “Still, never hurts to be prepared. Come on, let’s get to it.”

Jur’El leaned back in the puffy seat he was assigned to. The restaurant he entered had a calm and relaxed atmosphere. The lighting was dimmed, which complimented the dark but cozy ambiance of the room. The walls and floor each had a dark-themed color scheme, the seats were of a different scheme but not too different to oppose the goal set by the designer. And although the building was packed with customers, their conversations did not threaten to turn anyone deaf. It was a quiet and relaxed experience, something he needed desperately.
Even now, as hard as he tried to focus on how delicious his food was, how balanced the flavor and texture of it was, he was still forced to relive what happened on Planet 3. He could hear the sudden screams of his colony group. The scientists who were first awoken that wanted to find out why their Life world was so different to the data they were given. To the families and menial workers who were just talking amongst themselves and organizing the supplies when those machines stormed the ship. And what still terrifies him, still sends his heart racing, was when that one machine entered the control room, blood drenching its chassis. Bits and pieces of Qu’Rathi innards on its cold mechanical manipulators. How it just stared at him, lifelessly, with a rifle aiming right at his chest. And those drills. Those ghenning drills.
He was forced out of his torment by the rough poking of his shoulder. When he looked, it was another Qu’Rathi. “Captain Jur’El, right?”
“Uh..yes, who are you?” He nodded in confusion.
“Jhen.” She introduced herself, quickly taking a seat opposite from him. “I need to talk to you.”
“About what?”
“The expedition to that system deep in the Dead Zone.” She glared at him, mandibles tense. “The same system who’s Life world had a native population, the very same world being investigated as a genocide site, where your expedition went to settle.”
“Jhen, please, we had no idea what was going on.” Jur’El leaned back, hands raised in a defensive posture. “All we were told was that this was the most pristine and beautiful Life world ever discovered in a system rich with stellar bodies.”
“I don’t care about that. What I care is how you seem to be the only one who came back.” Jhen started raising herself from her seat. “I’m pretty sure that anyone who attempts to colonize a freshly cleansed world is forcibly removed from that planet and returned to their respective people. So where is everyone?”
Jur’El’s eyes went wide. He knew exactly where this was going. “I...I can’t tell you.”
“Don’t you dare.” Jhen snarled, now leaning over the table. “I’ve heard enough of that from the company, I’m not here to be force-fed more of it!”
“Just...trust me,” Jur’El spoke softly, shakily leaving his seat, “You don’t want to know.”
“Don’t you ghenning walk away from me!” Jhen shouted, grabbing Jur’El’s shoulder firmly, the other patrons now locking eyes to the two. “Two of my sons were on that mission! What happened to them?!”
Jur’El clutched his head with a hand firmly, feeling tears exploding out of his eyes. His mind rushing back to those scenes. The sounds, the smell, the fear. Everything crashed into him all at once. And they’re not just memories now. They’re all coming back to him as if he was transported in time and placed back to the exact moment it started. Back to the moment where he was screaming for his wife and son to hide, to find a corner of the ship that was hard to see and to stay there until the shooting stopped. How he felt his heart give out when he heard them beg for their life when they were found, cut short by the merciless cracks of their alien weapons. How every possible feeling melted away when the clanking of the machine’s walking approached him, when he realized there was no nowhere in the control room to hide, not with how thorough those things were being. The frantic, mindless begging he got into when he saw the blood covered machine hold that weapon to him.
“You’re safe!” A voice rang out. It wasn’t much, but it was enough for him to come back. That scene melting away back into the restaurant. All those smells and sights to be gone. When he was certain that it was over, he looked around. There was Jhen, face beaten and currently being restrained by a blue-furred Anaran. And in front of him was another, gray-furred one. “You hear me? You’re safe now!”
“I...wh-what happened?”
“We saw what was going on. The Qu’Rathi over there? She was just screaming down your throat, all while you were just on the floor. Ken’A there nearly caved her face in by the time we got some distance between you two.”
“Th...thank you.” Jur’El muttered, shakily getting himself back on his feet with the help of the gray Anaran. Jur’El was just about to walk away when the Anaran firmly, but not threateningly, gripped his shoulder.
“I know the signs, friend.” He began softly. “Your soul is badly wounded and is bleeding heavily. Just like a doctor if you’re shot or cut, you need to find someone to talk to, get your soul back together.”
“As long as I don’t run into another person like her, I’ll be fine.” Jur’El countered, trying to walk away still.
“No, you won’t.” The Anaran still held his grip. “I need you to trust me. With how bad your soul is right now, doing anything other than talking to someone will just make it worse. And when your soul dies, well...believe me, it’s not a good experience, for anybody.”
Jur’El stared into the gray Anaran’s orange eyes for a moment before he let out a sigh. “You’re not going to give up, are you?”
“I’ve seen what happens too many times. Good Battle-Brothers, completely different people. Either they’re just shadows of themselves, or doomed to forever relive their horrors. If I have the chance to prevent it happening again, I’m giving it my all.”
Jur’El looked aside for a few moments, internally fighting himself as to whether he should comply or keep resisting. He finally reached his decision when he became certain that the Anaran would most likely hunt him down as a life mission if he didn’t seek therapy. “Fine, I’ll do it. Got anyone in mind?”
“A dear friend of mine. He’ll get you back on track, promise.” The Anaran patted Jur’El’s shoulder a few times before proceeding to lead him, motioning for Ken’A to let go of Jhen and follow.

Michael, accompanied by his newly founded Praetorian Guard, continued his leisurely stroll down the surprisingly spacious corridor. The hallway itself was typical. All-metal construction with evenly spaced rows of blue-white lights.
The Praetorian Guard themselves are comprised of those Servants who display both extreme scores in combat efficiency and effectiveness in defensive situations. Armed with the absolute best in magnetic-ballistics, the most impenetrable of armor designs and the highest optimized combat-frames, even a squad of these guards can hold off a virtual army, provided they aren’t subjected to bombardment or heavy ordinance.
Just as Michael was about to enter the main command center of the station he was touring, Central contacted him on a private channel.
“Master? Your new administration is ready.” He declared proudly.
“Alright, let’s begin the introductions.” Michael replied, signaling the guardsmen that he’s about to enter a meeting. Although unneeded, the Guard promptly took up a defensive formation around him. He assumes this is mostly to keep unwelcome guests from interrupting him.
The scenery of the tranquil design of the corridor melted away into the virtual world built by neon-blue blocks, the same visual that he witnessed when he first received the interface. After a few moments, several other Servants materialized and stood attention in a semi-circle in front of him.
“My Lord.” The first Servant bowed, its voice deep, if gruff. “I’m Supreme Commander Schwarzkopf, in charge of managing our armed forces and overseeing the grand strategy of the Imperium.”
“I am Secretary Elizabeth.” The second spoke with a calming, soothing feminine voice. “I’m responsible for ensuring our economy runs perfectly. In short, I make sure every project gets the hammers and resources it needs.”
“I’m Foreign Minister Edward, at your service m’Lord.” The third, with a distinct British accent and of a composed, controlled voice. “While regretfully I’m useless at this stage, the moment we initiate contact with xeno species, I’ll handle diplomatic affairs and achieving our goals through negotiations when possible.”
“No offense, but I thought every Servant wants to see aliens dead?” Michael spoke up with slight confusion.
“Oh, of course. The very idea of ripping out the entrails of a xeno and suffocating them with it brings such joy it’s therapeutic.” Benjamin replied. Michael was unsure if he was joking or not. “I was appointed because I displayed the most effective ability at hiding such feelings.”
“Ah...good to know.” Michael nodded dryly, not exactly assured. “Back to where we were?”
“Yes, Lord. I’m Director Mansfield.” The fourth spoke with an eloquent-sounding voice. “I’m in charge of Imperial Intelligence, running operations abroad and managing counter-intelligence on the homefront. I give you my word that we will know everything about the aliens and they will know nothing about us.”
“And that leaves me, Master.” Central began. “As a result of this delegation, I now possess more processing cycles towards research and development. That means that I’ll be in charge of ensuring Imperial dominance in technology. I will also act as your adjutant, filtering out information that does not need your attention.”
“Well...shit, this sounds like an actual government I’m in charge of.” Michael gave out a nervous chuckle. “All the more reason to get down to business though. Let’s start with the first matter. Schwarzkopf, how’s our military coming along?”
“It’s growing rapidly, your majesty.” He answered with distinct pride. “Already we have several hundred frigates, fifty light cruisers and twenty heavy cruisers, with the first wave of battleships due to exit the drydocks within a few days. Additionally, we have established four different army groups with fifty divisions each.”
“I thought we’d take a lot longer.” Michael stated with no hidden amazement.
“There’s great benefit in our workforce able to operate at a hundred percent every hour of the day.” Elizabeth commented, her emotion-flags also indicating pride. “And speaking of which, our population of Servants grows geometrically. That benefits both our economy and the military. Our economy by providing more workers in skilled and unskilled labor, and the military by providing more crew members and soldiers.”
“So in short, it won’t be long before we become a virtual powerhouse.” Michael said, arms crossed.
“Especially if we continue expanding.” Elizabeth nodded. “On that note, we have already claimed several dozen more systems.”
“With Rigel and Betelgeuse selected as naval bases.” Schwarzkopf chimed in.
“So we’re expanding in all the ways, got it.” Michael nodded. “Now the second matter. Terraforming Mars.”
“At present, there are two issues that must be resolved.” Central answered. “The first problem is the planet’s lack of a magnetosphere. Without that, any and all organic life would perish under lethal bombardment of the Sun’s solar wind, in addition to any sustainable atmosphere being lost to space. The second problem is Mars’ inability to retain heat, the cause for it’s known low planetary temperature.”
“And knowing you, you already have possible answers?” Mansfield shrugged.
“Correct. The heat issue is rather trivial to solve. Mars already has an abundant amount of carbon-dioxide within the atmosphere, a well known greenhouse gas. Combined with even more of the gas locked planet side, once temperatures begin to rise, we will set off a snowball effect. However, that is all for naught if the atmosphere is allowed to escape into space by solar wind.”
“So basically the key here is the magnetosphere.” Michael added. “Build that and everything becomes simple.”
“Exactly.” Central affirmed. “Already there are two main methods. One is to build superconducting rings around the planet and drive them with direct current. With enough power, we can generate magnetic fields strong enough to form a virtual magnetosphere.”
“And what’s the second?” Elizabeth said.
“The second is to construct a station at the L1 Lagrange Point that will generate a dipole magnetic field, diverting the solar wind around the planet instead of into it. Although it was simulated using slower, binary processing, the results indicate that Mars would gain half the atmospheric pressure of Earth’s within a few years.”
“So then, the main focus is building that magnetic shield.” Michael spoke firmly. “Elizabeth? Let’s get the ball rolling. Coordinate with Central as needed.”
“At once, my Lord.” Elizabeth bowed.

Unlike the Council chambers, the office of the Lord-Enforcer was much less opulent and more pragmatic. After going through the receptionist area, An’Ra and his team were escorted into the main office itself. However, just like the chambers, a large window dominated the view on entry, granting another view of a city district on Sanctuary.
And sitting in the more rectangular desk was the Lord-Enforcer himself, Dura. Blue eyed, with a fur of dull-orange it reminds of a sunset. As soon as An’Ra and his team walked into the office, the Enforcer sat up, tail wagging.
“Commander An’Ra, in my office!” He exclaimed, arms out to his sides. “Forgive me sir, but I never thought I’d see the day!”
“A pleasure to meet you, sir.” An’Ra replied warmly, greeting the Enforcer with their fists clasped together and pulling themselves inward, shoulder to shoulder.
“Please, no need to be formal with me.” Dura chuckled. “Sit down, what brings you here?”
After taking their respective seats, An’Ra looked at Dura grimly. “I’m here to file a delay on a request for prosecution against the Federation.”
Dura’s ears angled themselves in a mixture of stiffening and lowering. “I just got the paperwork from the Council. And I can tell you that won’t be needed. I’ve already submitted my rejection.”
“With respect, sir.” Sonak spoke up. “I get the feeling that the Council might fight that.”
“Don’t worry, I’m not going to present my back to them just because they ask.” Dura gave off a grin. “I might be some paper-tosser now, but that just means the battlefield is different. Don’t worry Commander, as long as I’m here, you’ll get the chance to finish this investigation properly.”
“Thank you, Enforcer.” An’Ra smiled as he got up from his seat. “With any luck, you won’t have to fight long.”
“Oh, take your time!” Dura replied with an inflection of humor. “This is the most exciting thing I’ve had in years. Was just about to smash my head on this desk any day now actually.”
“Wait, really?” Vora asked, ears stiffened.
“It’s just a joke, Vora.” Sonak assured dryly.
“Oh...” Her ears flattened as the team exited the office.
When they arrived in the main plaza where the Enforcer’s office is located, they congregated in a small collection of benches nearby an ornate fountain that commemorated the Anaran defense of Felaal IV, largely considered the turning point of the Great War, which further enhanced the beauty of the surrounding scenery of floating walkways above crystal-clear waters.
“Well, that’s a relief, hopefully.” An’Ra began, letting out a decompressing sigh.
“I meant what I said earlier, An’Ra.” Sonak said. “If the Council are determined to charge the Federation, which I’m sure they made abundantly clear, they’re not going to let the Enforcer drop mines in their path just like that.”
“Which just means we can’t lose our focus.” Vora replied sternly. “So, what are our options? We can’t exactly go back to Planet 3, there’s really no leads there.”
“What about that Detective we met when we arrived?” Sonak suggested. “He was handling that whistle blower. Maybe that’s something worth looking into?”
“There’s also the Nav-Net.” Vora said. “All we got right now is that the Feds were at that location, but what if we look at the rest of the network? Try and trace their path?”
“The network doesn’t extend into the Dead Zone.” Sonak countered.
“No, not like that. We look at the network across Alliance space. We start with the logs that end at the Dead Zone, and we try to backtrack their route.”
“We’ll need to obtain legal authorization for that, Vora.” An’Ra stated.
“Actually, if I could add something.” Sonak said with his arms crossed. “If the Federation didn’t actually do it, then that questions the credibility of those codes. I think there’s a question that hasn’t been asked yet. And that is, are those codes faked?”
“That’s...a good point actually.” Vora acceded. “If we get the legal permission to examine the NavNet logs, then if the Federation didn’t do it, the logs across the network won’t support it. Think about it. You need a big fleet to do what just happened, and that fleet has to come from somewhere.”
“And that would mean if this was a frame job, they need a way to account for that.” An’Ra continued, confidence flaring. “It’s one thing to trick a single Nav-Buoy, but I really doubt anyone is capable enough of affecting the network itself.”
“We still need the Enforcer’s help to get access to the network.” Sonak reminded.
“Let’s go get it then.” An’Ra stated firmly. With that, the team left their meeting spot and began returning to the Enforcer’s office.
With confidence in their step, the walk back to the office was much shorter compared to before. However, things took a turn when An’Ra and the team noticed a large gathering of officers around the office entrance. They didn’t have to time to wonder when a group exited the office, dragging a combative Dura out with them.
“Commander, this isn’t good.” Sonak growled under his breath.
An’Ra simply stepped forward and grabbed one of the arresting officers. “What in Arenar’s Sword is going on here?”
“Dura’s under arrest on suspicion of corruption.” The officer replied flatly. “Lil’Al has been appointed as acting Lord-Enforcer.”
“The Council’s behind this, Commander!” Dura shouted, his feet literally dragging along the floor as four officers were taking him away. “Don’t believe a word they say about me!”
An’Ra and his team just stood there in stunned silence, watching and hearing the Anaran official being dragged virtually kicking and screaming. By the time they returned to their senses, hushed conversations was populating both the room and outside.
“We’re not going to get in the network, are we?” Sonak asked, still recovering.
“We still have to try, come on.” An’Ra said, already moving. When the team returned to the office, standing next to the desk was a slender Esti. No doubt Lil’al. She was looking out the window when she turned around upon hearing the encroaching footsteps.
“Yes, may I help you?” She began.
“Acting Lord-Enforcer Lil’Al?” An’Ra began, trying the diplomatic route first. “I’m Commander An’Ra, investigating the genocide by use of Strain Y. We’d like to request legal authorization to examine the logs of the Nav-Net.”
“For what purpose?” She replied, taking her seat.
“We believe that it may hold evidence that either confirms or disproves the Federation’s alleged involvement in the attack.”
Lil’Al leaned back in her seat, staring at them. “The Nav-Net is the lifeblood of, well, everything. Commerce, tourism, law enforcement. It holds great information about who has gone where, and in what ship, Commander. You realize that, don’t you?”
“I do, and what you’ve said precisely states how important that is, how important the potential evidence is.”
Lil’Al stayed motionless for a few moments, her long, lithe fingers twiddling about that indicates her thought. “Very well, I’ll start the paperwork to get you authorization, just be mindful of what you’re about to analyze.”
“Thank you.” An’Ra gave a slight bow. “In addition, I’m not sure if it’s been passed along, but Dura has rejected the Council’s request for prosecuting the Federation. Can I assume you’ll uphold that?”
“I’m afraid not, Commander.” Lil’Al replied flatly. “The galaxy has suffered a great loss through the genocide of a race who’ve suffered the universe’s cruel sense of humor by being placed both far away from us and deep within an almost uninhabitable region. I have overturned Dura’s rash decision and accepted the Council’s request.”
“Then I’d like to file a delay on that decision, immediately.” An’Ra replied, ears flattened back.
“On what grounds?”
“Lack of decisive evidence, to start.”
“Same could be said on your side, Commander.” Lil’Al let out a sigh. “Yes, all the evidence collected thus far is not...ideal. However, the most significant points at this time are that a young race who was just about to leave their homeworld was exterminated through the most horrible of all options. We cannot ignore that.”
“But we also can’t rush to conclusions. We need to continue investigating and only go after someone if we have at least one crucial piece of information.” An’Ra countered, arms crossed and his teeth starting to bare.
“And I agree, that’s how it should be done.” Lil’Al replied. “But if we do, we risk dragging out an investigation to such a length we may end up forgetting this tragedy. We cannot allow such an insult to Planet 3’s memory. I’m sorry, but I must reject your petition for judiciary delay.”
Next Chapter
AN: Every single time I paste this in, Reddit is just determined to put it in some code block. Anyways, As of now, I've finally completely locked in the plot for this story, just one major question that could've changed a lot was on my mind for a while. Enjoy!
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