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Black Clouds

The first droplets of rain smack the plane glass window. I stand on one side, fiddling the small recorder in one hand, and nursing a glass of scotch in the other. On the other side of the window an expansive city sprawls out in every direction, and high above it the storm that has been brewing is finally starting to burst. The rain droplets will soon be a downpour. Storms make me nervous. A thin bolt of lightning rips through the sky, momentarily illuminating the fat, heavy, dark clouds. They were plenty. No stars will show tonight. Another silent streak of light, and I see the normally bustling street below has gone quiet, save for a sparse sprinkle. Yellow cabs scurry about like insects, collecting their payments as they drop off their late night patrons.
The faint sound of rolling thunder can be heard, muffled by the thick glass of my office. Eighteen stories up, I see the rain intensifying before those below. Normally, the dampening of the window prevents all outside noise...it's important for the patients to feel safe. Now, long after my office has closed, I find the thunder far more jarring than the constant whirring of the air-conditioning system, always pumping in oxygen that somehow smells fresh and artificial simultaneously. I understand. I take another short sip of my drink and turn away from the upcoming turmoil, returning to my desk. I find my eyes drawn to the framed certificates and degrees hung about my walls, questioning their ultimate meanings.
I know that I'm safe in my office, my own personal slice of the world...but again, storms make me nervous. They didn't always, quite the opposite in fact, as a child I was rather fond of the whip-cracks in the sky, the smell of fresh rain. My distaste for them, I can actually pinpoint. Its a direct correlation of one of my patients. The one patient that scared me. Now, I've dealt with some truly sick and disturbed minds in over twenty-five years as a psychologist...but only one has ever truly frightened me. I currently hold a tape recording of our one and only session in my hand. Jack Lowe. The man was a lunatic, no doubt about that. His delusions tearing his mind pushing him further and further from reality as each second ticked away.
It was in this very office that I met Jack, and sometimes, on nights like these when I find myself unable to pry his words free from my mind, I can almost see him sitting across from me, cigarette dangling in his hand. On nights like that, like tonight, the only remedy for my obsession is to listen to the recording and drink.
I loosen my tie as I place the recorder on my desk and then I sip my scotch. I pull the bottle from the small shelf hidden under my desk and place it next to the small black device, inside of which a tape labeled "Lowe, J. Ses.1" resides. I hesitate for the briefest second before pressing play, leaning back in my chair and shutting my eyes.
"Marnie, please send in Mr. Lowe." I hear my own voice coming from the speaker.
Its so vivid...the picture in my mind that hearing his name conjures. I hear shuffling before the unmistakable sound of my office door squeaking open. I remember so clearly the man who walked through, and into my life all of those years ago. He was thin, one step above emaciated in fact, baggy clothes that wore the man instead of the other way around. He clearly had Norwegian ancestry, dirty blonde shoulder length hair that was quite messy, his unshaven cheeks gave way to a thicker patch of blonde hair on his chin that I think must have been a goatee of sorts before he had let himself go. Immediately I saw a horrendous case of insomnia, the purple skin around his sunken eyes would have been a give away for even someone wholly untrained in mental illnesses.
"Have a seat Mr. Lowe." I hear the smile in my voice.
"Just Jack..." A new voice joins the cast, and I feel the hairs on the back of my neck prickle hearing his soft almost whisper once again. I down the remainder of my glass and swiftly refill it.
"Hello Jack, I'm Doctor Harkins. Your paperwork here says you're dealing with..." I hear the sounds of papers shuffling, and silently mouth the next word in tandem with my past self. "Hallucinations?"
A period of silence follows on the recording, but my clear recollection fills in the gap. Jack, with his eyes locked on the floor nodded slowly, almost imperceptibly. There was such a distraught feeling surrounding the man and I can still feel the uneasiness shoot through my veins like ice.
"How long has this been going on, Jack?" I asked, no hint of the smile in my words.
"Its...its not a... persistent thing doc, it happened one time...I can't sleep though, I can't eat, I can't..." He trailed off. I remember him placing his hands softly on his face and rubbing the heels of his palms into his eyes. "I'm losing my fucking mind, doc...I need...something." Jack said the words with a shaky, uncertain tone.
"What do you think you need, Jack?" I asked.
"That’s why I'm here, right? To figure out a way to forget, yeah?" A slight hint of agitation permeated his voice.
"Forget...let's go back Jack...you said the hallucinations were an isolated event?" I asked.
"My Dad died, yeah, and I know shrinks like to think everything is linked to something with some or another parent thing, but it wasn't that. See, dad and me, we weren't close...not since I was a kid. He always paid more attention to my sister, even back then...she's the one who called me to tell me the news." The words flowed hectically from Jack's mouth and I remember the sheer desperation in his eyes when he looked up at me, they pleaded, begged me to hear him out and not jump to conclusions.
"Alright, go on Jack, I'd like to hear about everything." My voice conveyed a sense of calm, attempting to ease Jack, help him relax.
"You uh, care if I smoke?" He asked. I recall waving my hand in a "by all means" gesture. The soft sound of metal scraping a flint followed.
"So yeah, Dani called me and said Dad died, it's sad, but it happens right? I ask her what happened..." Jack jabbed his now burning cigarette in my direction. "Cancer, of course. What else? So, I ask her about the funeral. Two days, no problem, I'll drive down to Connecticut, spend some time with the family and honor the old mans legacy. I packed up some shit...man I can't believe I'm telling you this, you're gonna think I'm out of my fuckin' mind...hell, I probably am." The soft hiss of his cigarette burning followed his words as he took a long drag.
"I'm not here to judge you Jack. I'm here to listen to you and come up with a way to help. I don't think you're crazy." I assured him.
The cold, skeptical look he gave me, crossing his hands between his knees, dangling his cigarette...it sticks with me to this day, and I truly believe that I'll carry it to my grave. I pour my third glass.
"So I'm packing some things for a few days, and I hit the road first thing in the morning. I called Dani as soon as I left the city, telling her I'd be there tomorrow, yeah? Yeah. She tells me, 'yeah, okay, let me call Ray-' that's her husband, right, so she says 'let me call Ray, see if we can get the guest room set up in time, if not, Mom still has your old room set up back home'. She tells me she's gonna call back in fifteen, all good right?" Jack paused and looked at me inquisitively. He must have been aware of his frantic, almost manic speech pattern.
I nodded, again in unison with my past self, exactly as I remember. On cue, jack continued.
"So...I do what anyone does, toss the cell in the passenger seat and crank some tunes. I remember, some 90s boy band, but I was alone...no shame. I blasted it. It was nice out too. Green trees, blue sky. I rolled down the windows and remember, doc, I remember the air tasting and smelling so FRESH...in spite of the bad news I was feeling pretty damn great." He had glanced away at this, taking another draw off his cigarette. He felt ashamed. He thought it was wrong to feel good in light of a parents death.
"So would you say it was a pleasant drive?" I asked, beginning to pry, attempting to do exactly what his eyes had begged me not to and connect his unhealthy mental state to the death of his father.
"At first it wasn't so bad. Yeah, pleasant. But that didn't last. You know, you notice shitty drivers around you. You pay attention when cars behind or in front of you merge, or exit...but you never really pay attention to NOT having anyone else around you. It took me a while to realize that in two hours of driving I hadn't seen a single car besides mine. Now, it was still pretty early, so weird but not that weird. I did notice though that not one damned commercial had played on the radio. Just straight 90s hits..." The burning sound of cigarette paper again, followed quickly by another flick of the lighter.
Jack's leg began furiously tapping, and I recall wondering if it was anxiety or substance withdrawals.
"Dani hadn't called either." He continued after a moment. "She said 'fifteen' and it had been a couple hours by then. I just figured she got caught up dealing with Dad shit and had forgotten to call me back. Whatever, no biggie, so I pick up the phone, right, and I just punch in her digits...this is where I got fucked up, doc...because after two rings I heard that automated 'number no longer in service' message. I looked at my phone and sure enough it said Dani's name. I was confused, so I tried again, and again I got the 'dododedo'..." He imitated the electronic beeps, and raised his hands into a shrugging pose "...number not in service. You think I'm some kind of nut, yeah?" He finished, dropping his hands to his side.
"Not at all, Jack." I lied.
"Yeah, right. So anyway, I'm getting a little weirded out at this point, thinking something's wrong and then boom, it hits me. I try a different number. I call my job, back in the city. You guessed it, a robot telling me to fuck off 'cause the number just ain't in service. I call number after number, nothing. I start to think my phone is broken, so I call 911...that shits supposed to work from any phone, service or not...same...fucking...message. As if that wasn't freaky enough, doc, the second I hit the 'end call' button, the radio cuts out. Almost right away it comes back on, and you know what the song was? It was nothing. There was no song, on this channel that was apparently twenty-four seven, all 90s, no commercial gem. No, I heard the fuckin' robot voice, and she was just saying random ass numbers." He said, starting to get a flustered look on his face.
"A numbers station?" I asked, enthralled with his tale. As far-fetched as it was, I could tell that he wholeheartedly believed every word was true.
"No! Not really!" Jack said abruptly, as he stood from his chair and began to pace around the room. "1...2...1...2...that's it. That's all the robot bitch would say, over and over, 1...2...1...2. Bizarre, right? I...I thought maybe binary, but no, there was no break in the pattern. Not a single double of either digit, just 1...2 repeat."
I raised my brows and allowed my eyes to track the man, who was increasingly lost in his thoughts. He continued.
"Changing the station didn't help, and the power off button worked as well as the volume, as in they didn't. Useless. Every dial was useless. It was driving me crazy, doc...I knew I had to pull over, I was getting light-headed, and then I saw it. The only building around. I was so relieved to see other cars in the parking lot. Just a few but goddamn it was a good sight to see." He said and chuckled nervously, shaking his head in disbelief.
"If only I'd known, right? So I park and get out of my ride, and do one of those fast walks up to the building. This place was like a truck stop mixed with a convenience store, you know the kind. The type a family would stop at on their way to a vacation to get their kids snacks and drinks, yeah. So I think, 'why not grab me a snack and drink'. I was already starting to shake that paranoia and was calling myself silly, pushing the unexplainable from my mind as I opened the glass door. That little jingle bell attached to it startled me, but in a good way. It was the first non-robotic sound I'd heard in a while. Inside, it looked normal, like you'd expect. Rows of candies and chips, florescent lights shining onto white floor tiles, and most importantly there were other people. I was never happier to hear a fuckin' baby cry, man." Jack said, flopping back into his chair and lighting another smoke.
I remember now, recalling everything with the recorders aide, the way Jack's face sank. There was silence, and I take the moment to top off my scotch. I know what's coming, and the warmth the alcohol fills my body with is competing with the chill in my bones.
"Jack...?" My past self urged.
"Yeah. Yeah, right, this is where everything got fucked." He said softly, almost as if asking permission.
I nodded, and he proceeded to take the reigns, determined to tell his tale.
"When me and Dani were kids, and I'm talking little, like I was maybe eight or nine, and she was probably six... there was an accident. See, you know how when you're little you're carefree and don't think about consequences or shit? So there we were playing outside right, and we come across a knife. Like a kitchen knife. We both knew we weren't supposed to mess with shit like that, especially rusty shit that looked like it had been dropped years ago by like a family moving or something. Anyway, we thought we were badasses. Long story short, I got stabbed in the belly. It was an accident, like I said we were kids. It was pretty bad though, had to get stitches, a tetanus shot, and Dani got a good hard talking to. It left this gnarly scar. It's important, so remember it, yeah?
"Anyway, back to the convenience store. I'm noticing more people, let's see, we got crying baby and mamma, overweight trucker, bald dude in a suit, a really cute lady, and a few others. Oh yeah! The tired looking guy manning the cash register, which doubled as one of those bubblegum stands with stacks and stacks of cigarettes behind him.
"Things are looking normal, right, and I'm starting to forget about the weird shit in the car. I'm sure I just had some weird cell service and the radio was just glitchy. So I grab a bottle of pop from the back cooler and grab a bag of sunflower seeds, yeah...head to the checkout.
"Dude gives me a 'hey, anything else for you?' right, and I say 'yeah lemme get a pack of smokes' and point behind him. He turns around grabs the pack and goes to hand it to me, but freezes just as he starts to extend his arm. From his mouth comes a deep but light 'Wuhhhhhhh' sound." Jack imitated the sound and produced an eerie, unsettling noise that was like a low moan.
"I was about to ask the dude what the fuck was wrong with him, but just as I opened my mouth a loud rip of thunder cracked outside. It sounded deafening, like lightning had struck right next to me. The lights went out and the glass front of the store lit up a brilliant, electric blue. I turned my attention to it, and saw streaks of lightning slashing the sky like some huge electric god was swiping it's claws across the clouds. The blue sky was gone, and in it's place was blackness.
"I turned back to the guy behind the counter. He wasn't doing that sound anymore thank fuck, but he was still frozen in place, pack of cigarettes in his outstretched hand. I reached out for them. I don't know why I did it, but at the time I wasn't thinking clearly I guess. Anyway, I did, and as soon as my fingers touched the box of cigs...its like...like my perspective shifted or something. My vision kinda adjusted, and I could see that he was...he was a standee. A cardboard cutout. My fingers sat on the flat, glossy surface and I felt the urge, the need to press. So I did, and the flat standee with the image of the cashier on it, it fell backwards, softly dropping into the floor.
"I freaked. I gasped, unable to catch my breath. I stumbled backward into what had been a display of snacks, but now was just a rectangular protrusion sticking up from the floor with the images of snacks painted on. I bolted over to the glass window as another impossibly loud crack of thunder clapped in the sky above. Rain was beating the windows, blurring the world outside, but what I could make out was just as insane as what was happening inside.
"All of the cars aside from mine were gone, and my blue sedan sat on the edge of what looked like a cliff. I scanned with my eyes squinting, and saw that it was as if the ground had been ripped from the earth. Beyond the jagged, torn earth was blackness. Nothingness. At that point I was sure that a gigantic hand had reached down from somewhere beyond the cosmos and grabbed the convenience store and dragged it into space.
"I began to scream, turning to see that all of the other patrons were static, as flat as the cashier had been. More standees, right, and I saw that everything in the store was a farce. The rows of snacks, all fake. The displays, fake. Fuck, doc, even the big round security mirrors in the upper corners of the aisles looked like circles painted grey, not a hint of reflection to them.
"Still screaming I looked for the door. Nowhere. The door was fucking gone. I looked back to my car, and the thing...it was dissolving. Being washed away by the rain. That's when I heard a voice, echoing my own thoughts. 'what the fuck is happening!?' she said. I whipped around and saw a girl sitting on her ass, lit up by the blue glow from the constant streaks of light in the sky, I could see that she was terrified." Jack took a moment to wipe the tears that were falling down his stubbled cheeks, and lit another cigarette before speaking again.
"She looked about 19 or 20. I didn't recognize her, but she wasn't cardboard and I considered that a win. I stopped screaming and ran to her, offering her my hand. I was saying 'thank god, thank god' so happy to not be alone, you know. She looked relieved too, through her tears and terror she looked happy to see me, too. She took my hand and I helped her to her feet. As soon as she was standing her eyes widened to the point I expected they'd fall out. 'What in the fuck are those...?' she asked me in a panicky whimper. I turned to see the silhouettes standing motionlessly at the window, back-lit by the blue, contrasting their glowing red eyes. They stood shoulder to shoulder, encircling the building. Silently they stood guard as the storm raged around then. With each flash of lightning I caught a glimpse of their nightmarish, metallic surfaces. Skeletons. They were metal skeletons." Jack halfheartedly chuckled at this, clearly it was forced, judging by the way his eyes continued to pour their tears.
"Felt a little like John Conner. Not as brave though, as my instinct was to pull the girl along with me to the back of the store, trying to put as much distance between us and those...fucking things...as I could. They made no attempt to chase though. They just watched as we pressed our backs to the facade that used to be coolers. The girl was breathing hard and fast and suddenly she shrieked out 'look!' pointing a finger to an ugly green door nearby.
"We had no other options, so we booked it. We got to the door only to see that it was lacking a knob. So it seemed we were fucked, yeah? Not quite. I unleashed a fury of kicks on the bastard, forcing it open with a spray of splinters. We hurried through into a storeroom, I guess is what it was. It had what looked to me like a mop bucket and spray bottles, but I couldn't be sure since they were extremely crude and appeared to be made of papier mâché . The girl had rushed to the back of the room. 'Look!' she pointed to a ladder that was attached to the back wall.
"My eyes followed it up to see a hatch. Roof access! Almost instantly, I heard the glass front of the store shatter, the sound of hurricane like winds began to fill the building. 'Hurry!' she shouted over the gale, waving me up. I did go up. I climbed and climbed. First ten feet, then twenty, then thirty. The hatch only inching closer. I refused to look down. I KNEW that I'd been climbing for way too long, much higher than I knew the trip should have been. The hatch continued to move ever so slowly closer, and I was completely aware that the room was getting smaller as I climbed. The walls closed around me until I was surrounded by a cylinder of concrete, no wider than a manhole cover. I could hear the girl following closely, but no words were exchanged.
"Finally, after climbing hundreds of feet into the air, I'd reached the hatch door. I was terrified as I grabbed for the handle. I didn't want to lose my grip and fall into whatever hell was below. I pressed it, and opened it despite the resistance. I was able to climb out of the claustrophobic hole and onto the roof. As soon as I was free, I turned to help girl. You're probably expecting me to say something like 'she wasn't there, right?' Oh no, she was there. A fucking cardboard cutout reaching up for me. As soon as I recognized it, she fell from the ladder and softly descended into an orange glow far below. I stood, feeling the wave of anxiety crushing me, and I watched the hatch slam closed. Before I could react, a brilliant white light from above blinded me. I felt myself fading from existence, my atoms separating. I lost myself.
"The next thing I remember is the white light dissipating, and my eyesight coming back, blurry at first, but it focused as my hearing returned. I can't quite explain what I heard. It was organic but mechanical at the same time. Clicks and whirring. I blinked a few times, and blinking felt so weird, like my eyes were different. I flicked them around, and when they landed on the two absurdly tall, scale covered insectoids, I was thrown into a panic attack. I tried to move, to get away...but I found that I couldn't. I was restrained, apparently on my back, my limbs and head tightly fixed to whatever I was laying on. My rattling had drawn the attention of the creatures, who looked at me with bulbous eyes. The clicking and buzzing sounds had been coming from them, and I found that thought especially horrifying. They began frantically pressing buttons on a panel seemingly connected to whatever was holding me in place...some kind of operating table or medical bed I assume.
"Then, the strangest thing happened, doc...my head cleared and the buzzes and clicks...I began to comprehend them. I was almost able to understand. I was getting words like 'awake' and 'hurry'. Then, the most intense pain of my life ripped through my brain. I screamed, and was terrified to find that the scream wasn't my own. I heard one of the creatures clearly through the pain, and it said 'put it back in. If it crashes again we'll deal with it at that point' and the other replied 'there may be errors' as it pulled a lever. The instant that happened, I felt the sensation of dissolving again, my molecules separated and rearranged...the intense light filled my vision once more.
"Next thing I know, I'm hearing a ringing. My vision unblurred and I saw that the sound was coming from my phone, already in my hand. I look around to find that I was free of any restraints, and back in my apartment here in the city. I answered the phone and Dani's voice filled my head, distant and muffled at first, but rapidly becoming sharp and clear. 'Hey bro, just checking in on you, what have you been up to...?' she asked. 'Dani, Dani, I was on my way there, and something happened!' I shout. 'Whoa calm down, what's going on? Why were you coming here? Is everything okay?' she said. She sounded concerned, but a bit standoffish.
"I told her I was coming to the funeral. 'Who died?!' she asked. I was quiet for a moment, remembering what the insect creature had said. 'There could be errors'. I lied and told Dani it was an old friend of mine from school, and that I'd call her about it later.
"That's about it doc. That's what I've been dealing with. I don't know what to think. Am I some kind of experiment? Am I a criminal among a race of bug-aliens and this world my prison? Is this whole world, no, universe some kind of simulation just for me? Doc, I don't think I'm human, hell I'm not convinced the human race ever even existed. If I die, is it possible that all of this gets blinked out of existence? Is that possible, doc?!" Jack said through a torrent of tears.
"Jack, isn't it much more likely that this was a psychotic break? Tell me, do you have a history of drug abuse?" I ask, but just as I do, a voice from the recorder interrupts.
"Doctor, your next appointment is here." Marnie says.
"We'll pick this up next week, Jack." My past self says, and I hear myself stand from chair. I wince, dreading the last thing Jack ever said to me.
I clearly remember him standing, and raising his shirt, revealing a smooth, thin, but unscarred stomach. "Errors. There may be errors." Followed by the sound of my office door opening and closing.
A long moment of silence followed, before I heard myself ask Marnie to please cancel my remaining appointments for the day.
The recorder clicks and brings me back to the present. The storm continues outside. I find myself contemplating Jack's story for the millionth time. He never came back for his next appointment. Its entirely possible that he had simply lied about the stab wound, but the look on his face, I don't know. Is there a chance that he really did experience these outlandish things? If so, what does that imply?
Maybe that's why I decided to share this with the world tonight. I no longer wish to bear this alone. I think chronicling this, while it's definitely a breach of my confidentiality agreement, is the healthiest thing for me. I wish I could purge his story from my mind, but I can't help but be uncomfortable when it storms.
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The Division 2 - Episode 1: D.C. Outskirts - Patch Notes

Patch Notes: Episode 1 - July 23rd, 2019


New Main Mission: Manning National Zoo

Emeline Shaw, the leader of the Outcasts, has fallen back from her defeat on Roosevelt Island and barricaded herself deep in the Manning National Zoo. To get to her, you will need to fight through the blockades and the Outcasts who protect her to put an end to her violence.

New Main Mission: Camp White Oak

The Black Tusks and their leader have set up a strategic position close to an estate nestled deep in the woodlands, and your assignment is to take them down and capture him in the new Camp White Oak mission.

New Feature: Expeditions

Expeditions are free events that bring players to unexplored locations around D.C. to discover new narrative and gameplay opportunities. These sites offer unique challenges and lore not found anywhere else: new collectibles, treasure rooms, environmental puzzles, unique boss mechanics, and more await every Agent who embarks on our Expeditions!
New Classified Assignment: Central Aquarium New Classified Assignment: NSA Site B13

Shepherd Reward System – Call for Backup

  • Added the ability to earn the “Shepherd” title by responding to call for backups and earning endorsements. An agent who received help will be able to endorse the helping agent.


  • Added Discovery Mode difficulty for the Operation Dark Hours raid.
  • Added Raid Completion Time to Clan Leaderboards. This leaderboard ranks clans based on how quickly they were able to complete the raid as a clan-only party.


New Exotic: Diamondback Exotic Rifle
  • Lever action rifle
  • 5 round magazine
  • 100 RPM
  • Talents:
    • "Agonizing Bite"
      • Diamondback randomly marks an enemy. Hitting that enemy consumes the mark, guaranteeing a critical hit with +20% total damage. A new random enemy is marked afterwards, and whenever you reload.
    • "Deep Fangs"
      • After hitting 5 marked enemies, gain +50% reload speed, +20% total damage and all shots fired are guaranteed critical hits for 10s.
    • "Shedding Skin"
      • While drawn, each time a round is loaded, gain +20% bonus armor for 3s. While holstered, each time you reload or cycle your current weapon, gain +8% bonus armor for 2s

New Exotic: BTSU Exotic Gloves

  • Black Tusk gloves
  • Talents:
    • "Elemental Gadgetry"
      • Skills that apply status effects gain +50% status effect duration and +50% skill haste
    • "Energy Infusion"
      • Whenever you apply a status effect, your gloves become infused with that for 60s. While infused, you gain +10% skill damage, +10% skill healing and repair and +10% skill duration for each Utility (yellow battery) on your gear.
    • "Charged Proxies"
      • Whenever you throw a skill, 1.25s after landing, it creates an explosion applying the infused status effect to all enemies within 6m. Enemies affected by the infused status effect take 50% more damage from your skills.
  • Heroic Bosses now drop Exotics
    • Only exotics that the player is qualified for.
      • For world drop exotics it requires that the player has the drop previously
      • For crafted exotics, it requires that the player has the blueprint
      • Eagle Bearer remains exclusive to the Operation Dark Hours Raid
    • The purpose of dropping these is to allow a chance to get GS 500 variants without upgrading, or get materials to upgrade other exotics
    • These exotics can be team shared to other players.
  • Exotic items no longer have a random range on their damage/armor roll. All exotics are set to the previous highest possible value. This also affects existing exotic items.


New Assault Rifle: Carbine 7
  • 30 round mag
  • 790 RPM
  • By default rolls with a new talent:
    • "Overflowing"
      • Every 3 reloads from empty increases your magazine capacity by 100%
New Light Machine Gun: Stoner LMG
  • 580 RPM
  • 200 Mag capacity
  • By default rolls with a new talent:
    • "Overwhelm"
      • Suppressing an enemy, that is not currently suppressed, grants +5% weapon damage for 10 seconds. Max stack is 5.
  • Increased the base damage of Shotguns in PvE.
    • M870: +36% damage
    • AA12: +29% damage
    • Super 90: +33% damage
    • SASG-12: +33% damage
    • SPAS12 +8% damage

Weapon Mods

  • Added Flashlight attachments for pistols


Developer Comments: We took a hard look at the current meta. The builds that are fun, effective and popular. We knew that skill builds, while it being something people want to play with, was nowhere near competitive. We knew there was an explosives damage build that was on the fringe of popularity, but none that actually relied on really good skill mods driven by skill power.
We analyzed the best damage builds and survivability builds out there and looked at their efficiency - how fast they kill, how fast they can clear content, how fast they can take down enemies - and mapped that to our skills. How much more power do skills need to get from 3K skill power (our current maximum requirement on skill power mods) to compensate for all the damage bonuses the player is "giving up" on gear to reach that skill power?
Then we looked at each skill and what it should be good at (burst, sustain, single target damage, survivability etc) and went to work tuning the mods to make a skill build approach the efficiency of a "red" damage build or a "blue" tank build. To that effect, here are the current changes to skill mods power levels, and in some cases base numbers, on skills.

Skill Haste

Cooldown Reduction has been replaced with skill haste. Skill haste works equivalent to speed. So 100% skill haste reduces cooldown by 50%, like a car speeding up by 100% getting to it's destination in half the time. This means that the player can invest in more than 100% Haste and still get something back. It also means there's a diminishing return to Skill Haste, as opposed to cooldown reduction where each point was actually worth more than the last one. This allows us to have a good amount of Skill Haste possible from gear, but even larger amounts granted by high skill power Skill Mods, granting skill builds more frequent access to their souped up skills.
To that effect, these are the changes to Haste (formerly Cooldown Reduction)
  • Removed the 90% Cooldown Reduction hard cap
  • Lowered the minimum Cooldown cap for all skills from 10 seconds to 3, except for the Chem Launcher which is now 8
  • Renamed all instances of Cooldown Reduction on existing gear to Skill Haste, with a 50% increase to their base values
  • Eg: +10% Cooldown Reduction will become +15% Skill Haste
  • Increased Surge talent Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +20%
  • Increased Alps Summit Armament 1-piece Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +20%
  • Increased China Light Industries Corporation 3-piece Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +30%
  • Increased Petrov Defense Group 3-piece Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +30%
  • Increased Tip of the Spear 3-piece Skill Haste bonus from +20% to +40%

Specialization Skill Mods (granted from each spec tree)

  • Removed all Skill Power requirements
  • Bonuses greatly improved to provide a strong initial boost to the skill platform
  • Demolitionist
    • Cyclone Magazine - Extra Mortar Ammo bonus increased from +1 to +3
    • SHD CPU V.2 - Damage increased from +7% to +100%
  • Survivalist
    • Magnetic Disc - Skill Haste increased from +9.7% to +80%
    • Larrea Tridenta Infusion - Healing bonus increased from +14.5% to +50%
  • Sharpshooter
    • Graphene Battery - Duration increased from +14.5% to +80%
    • Carbon Fiber Frame - Skill Haste increased from +9.7% to +80%
  • Gunner
    • Microwave Amplifier - +30% Banshee Pulse Confuse Duration
    • Directional Transmitter - +30% Banshee Pulse Cone Size

Skill Platform Changes

  • Scanner
    • Scanner Pulse will now begin its cooldown after a 3 second delay on activation, rather than at the end of the Pulse effect's duration
    • Lowered Scanner Pulse base radius from 52m to 50m
    • Lowered Scanner Pulse cooldown from 90s to 40s
  • Remote
    • Lowered Remote Pulse cooldown from 120s to 60s
  • Jammer
    • Lowered Jammer Pulse cooldown from 120s to 90s
  • Assault
    • Increased Assault Turret base damage by 22.5%
    • Increased Assault Turret base duration from 120s to 300s
    • Lowered Assault Turret cooldown 120s to 60s
  • Incinerator
    • Lowered Incinerator Turret base damage by 60%
    • Increased Incinerator Turret base burn damage by 60%
    • Lowered Incinerator Turret base burn duration from 5s to 4s
    • Increased Incinerator Turret base duration from 120s to 300s
    • Lowered Incinerator Turret cooldown from 120s to 90s
  • Sniper
    • Increased Sniper Turret base ammo from 5 to 6
    • Lowered Sniper Turret cooldown from 240s to 60s
  • Artillery
    • Lowered Artillery Turret cooldown from 240s to 60s
  • Increased Turret platform base health by 100%
  • Restorer
    • Increased Restorer Hive base healing amount by 50%
    • Increased Restorer Hive base health by 20%
    • Lowered Restorer Hive cooldown from 240s to 90s
  • Stinger
    • Stinger Hive damage is no longer affected by Explosive Damage modifiers
    • Increased Stinger Hive base health by 50%
    • Lowered Stinger Hive cooldown from 240s to 90s
  • Booster
    • Increased Booster Hive base health by 33.3%
    • Lowered Booster Hive cooldown from 240s to 90s
Chem Launcher
  • Firestarter
    • Increased Firestarter Chem Launcher base burn damage by 60%
    • Lowered Firestarter Chem Launcher base burn duration from 5s to 4s
  • Riot Foam
    • Increased Riot Foam Chem Launcher base radius from 1.5m to 3m
  • Blinder
    • Lowered Blinder Firefly base blind duration from 8s to 6s
  • Burster
    • Lowered base damage of Burster Firefly by 20%
    • Lowered Burster Firefly cooldown from 90s to 60s
  • Demolisher
    • Lowered base damage of Demolisher Firefly by 25%
    • Lowered Demolisher Firefly cooldown from 90s to 60s
Seeker Mine
  • Explosive
    • Increased Explosive Seeker Mine base damage by 42.8%
  • Airburst
    • Increased Airburst Seeker Mine base burn damage by 60%
    • Lowered Airburst Seeker Mine base burn duration from 5s to 4s
  • Cluster
    • Increased Cluster Seeker Mine base damage by 33.3%
    • Increased Cluster Seeker Mine explosion radius from 3m to 4m
    • Lowered Cluster Seeker Mine cooldown from 90s to 40s
  • Mender
    • Increased Mender Seeker Mine base duration from 120s to 300s
    • Lowered Mender Seeker Mine cooldown from 180s to 60s
  • Striker
    • Increased Striker Drone base damage by 7.1%
    • Increased Striker Drone base duration from 120s to 300s
    • Lowered Striker Drone cooldown from 180s to 60s
    • Lowered Striker Drone base health by -20%
  • Defender
    • Lowered damage reduction from 100% to 80% (20% in PvP)
    • Increased Defender Drone base duration from 20s to 40s
    • Increased Defender Drone base health by 100%
  • Bombardier
    • Lowered Bombardier Drone cooldown from 120s to 60s
    • Lowered Bombardier Drone base health by -46.6%
    • Increased Bombardier Drone base bomb blast radius from 3 to 4 meters
  • Fixer
    • Increased Fixer Drone base health by 60%
    • Increased Fixer Drone base duration from 180s to 300s
    • Lowered Fixer Drone cooldown from 180s to 60s
  • Tactician
    • Increased Tactician Drone base duration from 180s to 300s
    • Lowered Tactician Drone cooldown from 180s to 60s
    • Lowered Tactician Drone base health by -73.3%
Ballistic Shield
  • Ballistic Shield base health regeneration is now percentage based and scales with the total health of the shield
    • 5% HP/s Holstered Regeneration
    • 2.5% HP/s Active Regeneration
  • Bulwark
    • Increased Bulwark Ballistic Shield base health by 33%
    • Lowered Bulwark Shield cooldown from 240s to 40s
  • Crusader
    • Lowered Crusader Shield cooldown from 240s to 40s
  • Deflector
    • Lowered Deflector Ballistic Shield base health by 6.6%
    • Lowered Deflector Shield cooldown from 240s to 40s

Skill Mod Changes

All numbers based on maximum (3000 skill power) mod attribute rolls
  • Extra Payload - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Experimental Blend - Changed from flat value to percentage based increase of base Healing amount (+50%)
  • Experimental Blend - Stim Efficiency bonus increased from +20% to +50%
  • Experimental Blend - Buff Duration bonus increased from +20% to +50%
  • Nitroglycerin Mixture - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Nitroglycerin Mixture - Healing bonus +50% variant added
  • Cooling Vents - Skill Haste bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Internal Storage - Charges bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Swarm Control - Charges bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Radar Signal Antennas - Duration bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Network Firewall - Radius bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Network Firewall - Duration bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Steel Harness - Health bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Polycarbonate Wiring - Health bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Magnetic Rail - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +150%
  • Lubrication Gel - Duration bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Lubrication Gel - Incinerator Turret Burn Strength +100% variant added
  • Cyclone Magazine - Extra Mortar Ammo +8 variant added
  • Cyclone Magazine - Extra Sniper Ammo +12 variant added
  • Spare Parts - Skill Haste bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Organic Circuits - Duration bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Ammo Box - Extra Sniper Ammo bonus increased from +3 to +12
  • Ammo Box - Extra Mortar Ammo bonus increased from +2 to +8
  • Ammo Box - Mortar Radius +50% variant added
  • SHD CPU V.2 - Damage +150% variant added
  • Multi-tool - Skill Haste bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Weather Coating - Health bonus lowered from +120% to +100%
  • Carbon Fiber Barrel - Health bonus lowered from +120% to +100%
  • Nickel-Chromium Wire - Skill Haste bonus increased from +60% to +200%
  • Nickel-Chromium Wire - Remote Pulse Skill Haste +300% variant added
  • Silicon Carbide Coil - Charging Speed bonus increased from +30% to +50%
  • Exploded Blueprint - Skill Haste bonus increased from +60% to +200%
  • Heating Mantle - Charging Speed bonus increased from +30% to +50%
  • Distributed Architecture - Radius bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Super Glue Pulse - Radius bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Unstable Oscillator - Effect Duration bonus lowered from 55% to 50%
  • Atmospheric Analyzer - Effect Duration bonus lowered from 55% to 50%
Seeker Mine
  • Mini Electric Motor - Skill Haste bonus increased from +40% to 200%
  • Delivery System Upgrade - +100% Damage variant added
  • Ball Bearings - Damage bonus increased from +30% to 100%
  • Magnetic Disc - Skill Haste +200% variant added
  • Phosphorus Ingredient - Healing bonus increased from 60% to 100%
  • RDX Pellet Payload - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • RDX Pellet Payload - Airburst Burn Strength +100% variant added
  • Larrea Tridenta Infusion - Healing +100% variant added
  • Brushless DC-motor - Health bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Sturdy Piston - Health bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
Chem Launcher
  • Piranha Solution - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Piranha Solution - Firestarter Burn Strength +100% variant added
  • Chromatics Training - Radius bonus increased from +30% to +50%
  • Slip Fit Tube - Skill Haste bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Cell Penetrating Peptide - Healing bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Hydrochloric Infusion - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Ultra-Thin Cartridges - Radius bonus increased from +30% to +50%
  • Liquid Nitrogen Cooling System - Skill Haste bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Pharmacokinetic Enhancer - Healing bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Imbued Metal String - Ensnare Health bonus lowered from +60% to +50%
  • Polypropylene Recipe - Ensnare Health bonus lowered from +60% to +50%
  • Graphene Battery - Duration +100% variant added
  • Electric Soldering Tool - Skill Haste bonus increased from +40% to +100%
  • Gimbal Vibration Damping - Health bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Blitzkrieg Blasting Powder - Striker Damage +600% variant added
  • Blitzkrieg Blasting Powder - Radius bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Freedom Package - Radius bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Carbon Fiber Frame - Skill Haste +100% variant added
  • Reinforced Rotor Blades - Health bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Terminal Ballistics - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +200%
  • Trauma Analyzer - Healing bonus increased from +30% to +50%
  • Trauma Analyzer - Deflector Duration +50% variant added
  • Gaffer Tape - Duration bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Hollow-point Bullets - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +200%
  • Micropulsing Stimuli - Healing bonus increased from +30% to +50%
  • Micropulsing Stimuli - Fixer Skill Haste +100% variant added
  • Adaptive Insulation Foam - Skill Haste bonus increased from 60% to 100%
  • Synthetic Mineral Frame - Skill Haste bonus increased from 60% to 100%
  • Titanium Reinforcement - Health bonus increased from +45% to +100%
  • Shape-memory Alloy - Deflected Damage bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Cementitious Material - Holstered Regeneration bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Weaved Aramid Fiber - Health bonus increased from +45% to +100%
  • Supramolecular Networks - Active Regeneration bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Liquid Metal Microdroplets - Holstered Regeneration bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Thermoresponsive Polymer - Deflected Damage bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Smart UHMWPE Lexicon - Active Regeneration bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Smart UHMWPE Lexicon - Ballistic Shield Health +100% variant added
  • Alignment Valve - Damage +100% variant added
  • Tungsten Compound - Damage +100% variant added
  • Propantriol Adhesive - Skill Haste bonus increased from +40% to +200%
  • Microfiller Resin - Skill Haste bonus increased from +40% to +200%
  • Hardened Casing - Health bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Tungsten Compound - Max Targets bonus increased from +3 to +5
  • Guiding System - Max Targets bonus increased from +3 to +5


  • Added a crafting bench upgrade in World Tier 5 that allows players to craft at Gear Score 500. The items crafted are gear score 500, there will be no random range in terms of gear score/power. The bench upgrade is given to players when they complete the “Enter WT5”-project (same as all the other bench upgrades in endgame, the upgrade will be available at the bench once the bench is upgraded to World Tier 5). Players already in WT5 will automatic get it as they log in, The upgrade requires 1 weapon and 1 gear piece of Gear Score 490+, and some of each Specialized (blue) material Crafted items can be used in recalibration, both as materials and to be improved
  • Deconstructing High-End gear now guarantees a brand material (increased from 50% drop chance). Named branded items also award the brand mat on deconstruction
  • Deconstructing gear set items awards 4 of each Specialized (blue) material
  • Added an opt-in perk for the player to share blueprints and materials between characters in endgame. Some Blueprints and mats are excluded to not break game logic/progression, such as the specific exotic materials. This perk can be crafted and the blueprint is available at Inaya, the Crafting vendor.
  • The blueprints awarded from control points, vendors and projects are merged into one pool of rewards. Players can get all these blueprints from all three sources. Once the pools has been exhausted, none of the sources will give more blueprints.


  • Increased the radius of the Gunner's Riot Foam Grenade from 2m to 3m


  • Changed shotgun PvP modifier to 1.0 (was 1.65)
    • Net result in PvP with revised normalization modifiers:
      • M870: -14% damage
      • AA12: -21% damage
      • Super90: -17% damage
      • SASG-12: -17% damage
      • SPAS12: -42% damage
  • Changed the general PvP modifier to 0.55 (was 0.40)


  • Reduced the TAC-50 signature weapon’s damage per shot


  • Calculated Talent reduced to 20% from 10%. Now works off any kill from cover instead of weapon kills.


  • Cassie Now sells GS 500 items. She sells normal gear, some exotics and named weapons


  • Improved player feedback when trying to pick up ammo with maximum signature weapon ammo
  • Inspecting a player now allows inspection of weapons, grenades and skills


  • Intercepted projectile by the deflector drone now do a % damage, rather than binary be dropped or not
  • Return player control quicker after dropping down
  • Reduced Depth of Field strength when aiming
  • Improved reload + interaction prioritization (if you hold down the interact, it will cancel the reload and start the interaction)
  • Improved player replication for players with widely different quality connections, should reduce inconsistent speedup/freezing of remote players


  • Slapback System enabled: The gunshot echo system that was featured briefly in the private beta prior to launch has been re-enabled


  • Improved Arabic voice-over localization
  • Added missing lore description for Dodge Citys Gunslinger Holster

Bug Fixes

  • Cyclone Magazine +Extra Sniper Ammo variant added to all loot list quality tiers
  • Unstable Oscillator and Atmosperic Analyzer Pulse Mods now properly reference the correct Effect Duration platform modifier
  • Vac Pack and Guiding System Firefly mods now correctly increase Max Targets by the amount listed on the tooltip
  • Distributed Architecture and Super Glue Pulse mods no longer affect the radius/range of the Banshee Pulse
  • Explosive Seeker Mine radius now correctly says 5m in the Skills UI
  • Cluster Seeker Mine radius is now displayed in the Skills UI
  • Explosive and Cluster Seeker Mines now show the correct explosion radius before detonating
  • Incinerator Turret burn damage is now affected by all increases to Skill Damage from geatalents
  • Firestarter Chem Launcher burn damage is now affected by all increases to Skill Damage from geatalents
  • Firestarter Chem Launcher now correctly states that it inflicts fire damage.
  • Added missing Artillery Turret & Tactician Drone showcase videos.
  • Airburst burn damage is now affected by all increases to Skill Damage from geatalents
  • Fixed an issue causing the Chem Launcher cooldown to reset when restocking ammo
  • Fixed an issue where the Turret skill could deploy inside a wall under certain circumstances
  • Fixed an issue causing the reviver hive to not revive players when thrown
  • Fixed skill mods requirement having an invisible decimal, resulting in incorrect power requirement information
  • Fixed the Banshee Pulse skill mod description to state that it applies Confusion status effect on affected target
  • Fixed an AFK related exploit in the Conflict PvP mode
  • Fixed several locations on Conflict maps where players could ignore damage when behind cover
Weapons & Gear
  • Fixed an issue where the Sweet Dreams and Lullaby upgrade blueprints wouldn't appear on the crafting vendor under certain circumstances
  • Fixed an issue where some Longe Range Pack "Sett" backpacks could roll with 0% weapon damage on Specialized (blue) quality
  • Fixed an issue where the opportunistic talent did not work in PvP.
  • Fixed an issue causing armor rolls below the minimum advertised when upgrading an exotic gear piece.
Missions & Open World
  • Fixed an issue causing players to become stuck during the “Reach the first hall” objective in the Air & Space museum mission
  • Fixed a loot exploit in the Invaded Capitol Hill stronghold
  • Fixed enemies becoming stuck in their spawn rooms in the “Museum Water Source” side mission
  • Fixed “Neutralize the hostile” objective not updating correctly in the “Agent Edwards Support” side mission
  • Fixed an issue where NPC’s from a Warhound Convoy could spawn in an inaccessible area
  • Fixed an inaccessible bounty location in the Judiciary Square zone
  • Fixed several areas where players could leave the playable map
  • Fixed several areas where players could fall through the world
  • Fixed several areas where players could vault into water. Don’t go swimming with all that gear, agents!
  • Fixed several areas with missing climb prompts
  • Fixed several areas where the player could become stuck in the open world
  • Fixed several areas where the players could become stuck in missions
  • Fixed several world objects with missing cover prompts
Special Field Research
  • Fixed Special Field Research objective “Complete 5 Public Executions with Marksman Rifle” not progressing under certain circumstances
  • Fixed the Specialization adventure progression circle to be consistent with other progression circles
  • Fixed “Resource Distribution Merit” not progressing correctly
  • Fixed “Calibration Award” not unlocking not progressing correctly
  • Fixed “Prone Target Award” not progressing correctly.
  • Fixed an issue causing loadouts using the same skill to revert all affected loadouts to the same skill mod
  • Fixed the Conflict UI being misaligned when using Dual Monitors and the Offset UI option
  • NPCs no longer double heal their armor
  • Players can now damage NPCs rappelling on ropes with explosives
  • Fixed an error during the calculation of weakpoint kill stats
  • Players can no longer easily pass through Black Tusk Warhounds
  • Control point officers no longer instantly revive players if the player has just used the Chem Launcher
  • Outcasts suicide rushers now blow themselves up closer to their target
  • Fixed abnormal NPC behaviour when suppressed outside of the players view
Dark Zone
  • Fixed an issue where agents at Dark Zone level 50 do not lose XP when killed as a rogue agent.
  • Fixed an issue where the Black Tusk medic’s drones would self-destruct in the Dark Zones
  • Fixed an issue where the player was unable to cut the rope at an extraction if the “Sleight of Hand” perk was active.
  • Fixed an issue where killing wildlife would yield signature weapon ammo.
  • Fixed an issue where signature weapon ammo could drop mid-air
  • Fixed a clipping issue with the Gunner Uniform when equipped on a female character
  • Fixed an issue relating to interacting with ECHO’s when in a group
  • Fixed several occurrences of Delta errors when interacting with world objects
  • Fixed performance drops when browsing player inventory on Xbox One
  • Fixed performance drops when opening the Ubisoft Club Challenge tab on PC
  • Fixed an issue causing NPC weapon audio to be stuck in a loop under certain circumstances
  • Fixed an issue causing missing weapon audio when firing immediately after having switched from a grenade
  • Fixed an issue causing older versions of the Tobii Eye Tracker to be unresponsive
  • Fixed an issue causing the “Aim at Gaze” option for the Tobii Eye Tracker to be inaccurate
  • Fixed an issue with the Motion Sickness mode causing the player’s FOV to change drastically when enabled
  • Fixed an issue where players incorrectly could vote kick a member during a boss fight in the Roosevelt Island stronghold on challenging difficulty
submitted by JokerUnique to thedivision [link] [comments]

Room 221: Unicode PART I

Room U+221E: Unicode (Part I)
The brand-new wooden floors of the hospital glistened under the abrasive lighting, while Logan’s frail mother shivered underneath a pile of paper-thin blankets. She spoke in fragmented sentences, her breathing labored and so, so fragile.
“Logan, tell me you’ll settle down after I’m gone… Find someone to love... Someone that’ll love you… and care for you. Life just isn’t worth… living without - love… without someone to talk you off the ledge when…. things become… unclear.”
What started as innocent headaches had turned into something much more: ominous, never ending pressure in the back of her skull. She would scream, grab fistfuls of hair, plead with God to make it go away. No matter what she did, it just wouldn’t cease. She continued to writhe, and wither.
A CT scan revealed a large mass on her cerebellum.
Anaplastic Astrocytoma, they called it. The intensity of the words gave Logan anxiety. Those types of words made things too science-y; they made it too easy for doctors to separate themselves from the trauma inflicted upon their patients and families. It depersonalized everything about cancer. And despite the dread that took refuge in his bones, it angered him even more.
The cancer aged Logan’s mother fifty years in a matter of months. Its tendril-like forms had taken hold of the surrounding tissue, strangling other parts of her brain. Eventually, it would lasso her spinal cord – and she’d stop breathing - her heart would stop beating. It would be the end.
“You know, they say the…. tumor…. is like a star,” she said. “We’re all made of stars, Lo. We’re all made of the same… cosmic… molecules.”
Logan didn’t answer, yet. He wanted to make sure she was finished, and he wasn’t entirely sure lately when she was because of her difficulty speaking. So, he waited.
“It’s poetic, really,” she continued. “I’m going to die from a… shooting… star. Its tendrils have… exploded… like the birth of a… u-universe.”
After a moment, he responded. “It is, Mom. And you’re beautiful, more beautiful than the brightest star in the sky.”
“They’re already dead, you know… by the time we can see them. Will I still be… beautiful then?”
“Of course, Ma.”
It pained him to say those words, to participate in a conversation implying the inevitable death of his mother. Tears burned the corners of Logan’s eyes and caused his nostrils to flare.
“Promise me you’ll take care of yourself. Swear it,” she said through a tired smile.
“I swear, Ma.”
It was a lie. A white lie, he told himself.
Logan swore again on the same topic not long after that night, this time on his mother’s grave; but there was no weight to his word after what had happened. The only time Logan would swear and mean it, was when he would swear to himself to avoid relationships altogether - any form of social commitment, really. Logan loved his mother, but he couldn’t care much at all for love now that she was gone. He just couldn’t believe in it anymore. How could he? His childhood was spent watching it decay before his very eyes. As far as he was concerned, it was an inevitable heartbreak; and in his parent’s case, it led to a pain far beyond that. Love was a fallacy, something blindly worshipped and depended on for happiness; bound to fail, bound to disappoint. And now she was gone.
Logan had always been a loner and was content with his idea (at least he had himself convinced) that his life the way it was would be enough. He worked a job that occupied a large portion of his time and the money was great. As an auditor for a large automobile company travelling back and forth across the country looking over financial records, it would be his escape, his own plastic bubble to keep him safe from the world.
The conversation with his mother in the hospital was the night before she had passed, and Logan buried her only this morning. He was due back for an audit at 9 A.M. sharp in Charleston.
The plane was two hours late. A strong lightning storm had been taking hold over Atlanta and grounded all inbound and outbound flights until the skies cleared. Logan rented a car with the intent of facing the elements on the road. Postponing the audit was not an option. There wasn’t a safe place in his mind to take pause and mourn his mother, not yet. In fact, Logan wasn’t sure if there ever would be. There was comfort in being busy with his work, a lame excuse to pretend as if nothing else exists.
Outside, static energy clung to the hairs on Logan’s skin, almost plucking them at the roots. He pushed the unlock button on the key fab and pulled on the driver’s side door handle, discharging the static and zapping his fingers.
Shit,” Logan hissed, whipping his hand back reflexively. The hairs on his arms and the back of his neck relaxed. He swung open the door and hopped inside. It was a little before 8 PM and the GPS on Logan’s cell had him reaching his hotel around 1 AM. With any luck, he would be able to sleep in a bed instead of on a hard, plastic chair in a crowd of agitated strangers in an airport.
Logan drove into the storm, thinking more of his last night in the hospital with his mother. He gulped down the bold, black coffee he bought from the airport. The jolt of caffeine kept him going, sure, but it sent his mind racing into overdrive. He couldn’t help but recall more of the conversation, particularly about his father:
“I tried to do that for your father, you know… Be there for him… I loved your father,” his mother said. She was fighting them back, but Logan could see the tears forming in the corners of her eyes. “I still do. I… always will.”
Logan sat on the edge of her bed, holding his mother’s hands in his, praying silently, but no less powerful than if he were screaming, that she would be cured by a miracle.
“I know Ma. Me too.”
“He loved looking at the stars before-” She didn’t finish the sentence. She didn’t have to. Logan knew. “Before it all started, he told me that he realized nothing mattered. He was on the back... porch… looking through his telescope. It was late. I was… in bed… he had a look in his eyes. They were… empty... yet, full. He told me he knew everything. I asked him… what that meant… that he knew everything… he said nothing matters. He saw himself in the sky, infinite… versions of himself... like a kaleidoscope. He… saw God.”
“He was ill,” Logan said, this time not waiting to see if she was finished. “You need rest. Come on, let’s talk about this some other time.”
“I tried to be there for him… I tried so hard for so long. That night… in the mirror… I didn’t know what to do. I wish I could go back… I would try… harder.”
Her breath became even more labored, deteriorating from sudden stridor.
“Please don’t say that. You did everything you could. It wasn’t your fault. I love you, Mom. Dad loves you too. You’ve got to know that.” -Logan put a hand on his mother’s shoulder- “Dad knows you did your best.”
“If it… starts to split”-she drew a raspy breath, her words harder to hear- “don’t search… for answers. Just… close your eyes. Don’t look between… the seams.”
“See what split?” Logan asked, but her eyes were already closing. “Ma? What are you talking about? What does that mean?”
He wanted to shake her - demand an explanation - but she was asleep. The monitors were steady, rhythmic. She was free from pain in her slumber, and there he let her remain. Maybe he would have if he had known it would be the last time they would speak.
A burst of white noise brought his mind back to the present, freeing him from the painful memory. He searched the cab for the source of the noise, opening the glove box and rummaging through its contents, but found nothing. He slowed to a crawl and rolled the window down. It was coming from outside, from up above in the sky. Logan acknowledged the change in architecture, and the obvious, almost claustrophobic layout of downtown Charleston. He checked the maps on his phone. He had traveled over 300 miles in what felt like minutes.
Down a narrow cobblestone road was a bright lettered sign:
The sign seemed to scatter - or flicker - like static on a vacant television channel - much like the sound resonating in the recesses of the black clouds. It wasn’t the name of the hotel indicated by his GPS, but it was a hotel, nonetheless. He was checking in regardless.
Logan turned down the road, the car rocking and bouncing on the cobblestone. Despite being downtown, the street was vacant - the hotel the only standing building on the short block. It had an old-money feel, stone filigree flowed along the columns supporting the overhang of the entranceway. He parked the rental car in a small lot across the way and gathered his things. The large black door of the hotel flickered white in a flash of lightning. The door knocker, polished brass in the form of a screaming man’s head, with flowy, floating hair watched him approach as he dragged his luggage bag forward. The door flickered just like the sign, but Logan was sure it was only more lightning. He turned the lever on the door and let himself inside.
A large, black desk sat across from the doorway, about ten feet across from a freshly waxed, black and white checkerboard floor; the high-top chair behind it empty. Classical music played over an old speaker system overhead. A framed sign sat on its side on the desk, next to a silver service bell. Logan tilted his head to the side to read it:
Back in 8 minutes!
Time had passed at an incomprehensible pace. The rush of caffeine had worn off. Irritation and frustration were taking hold. Logan did not wait 8 minutes, because who knows how long 8 minutes had been from when they left the sign, he thought, and he slapped the bell thrice.
The crunchy, high-treble music overhead fell silent, and Logan heard voices coming from a small speaker on the counter that had been hiding behind the fallen sign. The voices were muffled and indiscernible. It looked old, with two bulky knobs on the bottom: one on each side.
Logan eyes grew wide as a more distinct voice came through the speaker.
“I have a son. I had a daughter. I have a son I had a daughter I have a son I had a daughter HAVE A SON HAD A DAUGHTER HAVE A SON-”
“Dad?” Logan belted out.
“May I help you?” Another voice, now female and brash, cut through the speaker.
“Uh, may I have a room, please? I’m not feeling well and I have an early morning,” Logan said.
“You may,” the voice responded. “Bell boy, see Logan Atlas to room 221.”
“How do you know my name?” Logan asked the empty desk.
“Mr. Atlas, you’ve been here before and don’t you dare start asking questions now,” the voice replied. “We’re all very busy here at Hotel Non Dormiunt. We have no time for nonsense.”
Before Logan could respond, a small boy emerged from behind the counter looking no older than eight or nine. He wore a small hat that covered his eyes. He never looked up at Logan, only handed him his room key and took his bag.
Logan came down on one knee to meet the boy at his level.
“Hey, buddy. What’s your name?” Logan asked, but the boy hid his face and continued down the hall. Logan stayed there for a moment, but swiftly caught up, ultimately afraid of being stuck at the counter with that speaker and the voices, one of them impossible to forget (sounding awfully like his father).
“Hey,” Logan carefully grabbed the boy’s shoulder. He stopped, turned, and looked up at Logan with black, beady eyes. He shook his head slowly, never blinking.
“What is this? Are you messing with me?” Logan asked, recoiling a few steps back. The elevator beeped next to him, and Logan left the floor with both feet. The boy stepped inside, dragging Logan’s luggage with him. He pressed a button once inside and the doors began to close. Logan threw his hand up between the doors and, with what felt like no other choice, reluctantly stepped inside.
“I don’t know what’s going on here, but can you please say something? I’ve had a really bad day and I just need you to say something, okay? Can you do that?”
The doors to the elevator closed, and it started to ascend. The boy looked up again at Logan, opened his mouth and said, “ahhhh.” To his horror was a knotted piece of purple flesh where his tongue should have been. His teeth were rotted down to the roots and there was a feint smell of rotting meat that must have been his breath.
Logan screamed. The doors opened on queue as he snatched his bag from the boy and ran down the hall, frantically searching for Room 221, looking over his shoulder at the boy; but he never came out of the elevator. He simply waved goodbye as the doors closed, and the elevator descended.
The door to Room 221 was vandalized with carvings of letters and symbols. Before the numbers 221 was the letter “U” and the “+” symbol. After the 221 was the letter “E,” carved in the same choppy manner. Nothing made any fucking sense. Logan put the key in the door and let himself inside, sure that once he got into a bed of any sort everything would be okay again. He was scared, frustrated and tired. He would fall asleep, wake up for work and everything would be normal, at least temporarily. That’s what he thought.
As Logan stepped inside, the space between the doorframe flickered. Columns and rows of 1’s and 0’s raced across the open doorway. He had crossed the threshold without even noticing, too busy failing to make sense of the events of the last few hours. The room was dull and gray, the walls decorated with monotone, gray-scale pictures and photographs of an assortment of landscapes and portraits. Logan would have felt more comfortable with a little more color and a little less dread, but it managed to calm him. He threw his bag over the bed, which surprisingly didn’t make a sound, and retrieved a change of clothes to sleep in.
A powerful crack of lightning flashed in the window, lighting up the room like the flash of an old Polaroid. An immense, rolling thunder followed. Logan’s mother would tell him it was God bowling. When it was especially loud, she would cheer, and applaud God for getting a strike. While Dad argued with himself in the mirrors, demanding to know which version of himself was the real one, Mom preserved Logan’s childhood as best she could. He remembered his father locking himself in the bathroom for hours, his lips pressed into the space between the door and the doorframe, whispering, “I write with my left hand. I can write with my right. I write with my left hand I can write with my right. It’s in the mirror – I have a daughter in the mirror. I write with my left hand.”
He pulled back the covers of the bed and tucked himself inside. He closed his eyes for a short while before the sound of shattering glass forced them back open. That familiar static back in Atlanta filled the air. Logan felt an electric charge looming over his exterior, waiting to detonate. He caught his reflection in the window with the light of the lamp and saw his hair standing on end, like the man on the door knocker, he thought.
Logan cautiously headed toward the bathroom but stalled when he heard a voice.
He took a few more steps, terrified of what he knew he was going to find.
His father stood in front of the fractured mirror, the larger pieces still sticking to the mirror frame reflecting distorted versions of himself. They were all screaming and yelling, begging for the truth from within the shards. He held a piece in his hand so tight it was cutting into his flesh. When he turned and saw his son, he held it up to his throat.
“Wait! Stop!” Logan yelled, running toward him.
“It’s okay son.” The images of Logan’s father spoke to him in unison. “You’ll see, it doesn’t matter. You always come back in some form. We’re not really here.
“You are, Dad. Maybe not anymore, but you were.
“No, I’m not. I wasn’t. And neither are you.”
His father pushed the glass shard into his neck, and he flickered, then disappeared. The walls of the bathroom split at the seams, and streams of binary code filled the cracks. With another flash of lightning it was gone. The walls were intact, along with the mirror.
submitted by NewUnknowns to nosleep [link] [comments]

TwigQuest Final Character

This is the conclusion of the short, experimental TwigQuest proof of concept that I've run over the last couple weeks. Thanks to everybody who participated! The final vote results are here: https://imgur.com/a/vmoxqwG
I think the process went very well, overall! Several of the votes were fairly even and swung back and forth, which suggests to me that there were multiple options that people found interesting. The specialty in particular was an upset - Human Modification had a solid lead for the first half of the vote, with Defences crashing through for the win later on. I think the concept was as successful as I could have hoped.
But anyway - here's the character:
Abigail Copperpot was born in a rusty bathtub to a locksmith’s wife, the fourth of eight children. From birth she had her father’s knack for things that click and whirr. At age eight, after a flying whirligig of her own design flew into a passing carriage, she first met the Marchioness. She remembers very little of the encounter except her father’s groveling and a woman with a bone-pale dress and even paler skin. From that day on, she was barred from his workshop and forbidden from touching any tools at all.
However, she grew into a willful young teen, and whenever she wasn’t working in the washhouse or wreaking havoc with the local street kids she would tinker. By herself, she learned the riddles of levers and pulleys, of gears and rivets and screws. She even hounded a man until he taught her the secrets of combustion from his automobile. She was working on its underbelly when the Marchioness finally came for her. Grease-stained and terrified, she answered all the lady’s questions – yes, she had a gift for machines. No, she had no formal education. Yes, she would come to the manor.
There, the Marchioness set her a nightmarish challenge, involving her littlest brother in a birdcage dangling over a pair of prowling beasts. She triumphed, and for her cleverness she was awarded not only a full scholarship to a premier Academy but also a brand new pair of eyes that would let her see with crystal clarity things both very distant and very, very small. They were delicate - extremely sensitive to bright light and leaving her practically blind on a cloudy night. However, along with the understanding that her family would suffer dearly if she failed, her new eyes gave her the leg-up she needed to catch up with girls and boys who had learned their letters at a much younger age.
After several years, when finally learned the she would be applying for a highly selective program in which to complete her Academy education, she also learned the truth of why the Marchioness had taken an interest in her. Abigail had since heard the gossip that the Marchioness had lost a young child in a tragic medical accident, and suspected that she was being treated as something like a surrogate daughter. Though this was perhaps partially true, the Marchioness had something rather more specific in mind. The professor whose favor with a higher Lord had spared him the Marchioness’ wrath for killing her daughter (and who had probably done so intentionally on his Lord’s orders) was working in that same program. Abigail would kill him – there was no choice in the matter.
Mia is Abigail’s companion, and short for Project Lamia. Poised, cautious and slightly vacuous, she resembles an elegant human girl but is covered in scintillating, almost crystalline scales over which she has incredible motor control. Capable of altering their arrangement down to the microtexture, she can instinctively adopt complex geometric conformations to deflect claws or bullets, become as slippery as ice or cling to walls and ceilings, and gnash with spines like a thorny devil’s to chew through flesh.
Mia can also reveal her second form, slithering out of her own body as little more than a tongue with an attached brainstem and eight razor-sharp filamentous tendrils. In this form, if inserted beneath a creature’s defenses (whether through a wound or a pre-existing orifice) she is capable of burrowing her way towards vital locations and killing creatures from within. When in this form, her outer shell retains some very basic motor programming to protect itself and come when she calls it.
I hope you like them! What other experiment companion might you have created given the prompts of Scaly, Beautiful and Binary, and a specialisation in Defences? Let me know below. I'd also love to hear how you might have run the character creation process differently. Lastly, let me know how keen you would be for a quest-style game like this set in the Twigverse (or one of Wildbow's other settings). I've enjoyed this a lot, but running a game can be quite a commitment so I'd want to know whether other people would enjoy it too.
submitted by The_White_Duke to Parahumans [link] [comments]

I tried accumulating the most interesting bits from the previews.

I tried accumulating all the most interesting bits of information and I tried to label as much of it as I could. (gunplay, hud, etc) some stuff is hard to narrow down to one label.
This is going to be a huge post even with just taking bits of each, I fully recommend reading them all if you get the chance, there's a lot of very interesting stuff that I could never fit it all. Each one has info the others don't elaborate on as much. Each also describes the graphics in detail.
I may have missed some details or made some mistakes copying it over since I'm on mobile.
Hope yall find it as interesting as I do.
(The Telegraph)
Gunplay "The gunplay in Red Dead Redemption 2 brings back some familiar elements, while at the same time widening the depth on slinging lead. First off, the Dead Eye Mechanic is back; players can slow the action down and paint targets with crosses in a short window of time, before loosing a volley of shots with pinpoint accuracy.
Second, players can also ‘fan’ their six-shooter’s firing pin, quickly emptying the gun’s revolving cylinder in a rapid-fire move that causes a ton of damage. The action is third-person pop-and-cover, although it’s worth picking one’s cover carefully – rock stops more bullets than some wooden structures, for example.
Finally, in a new twist, players have the option of drawing their gun without aiming it. In the previous game, unholstering a weapon immediately brought up a set of crosshairs. This isn’t the case now; players can even aim and cock their gun without firing it, in order to threaten an NPC without any fatal consequences. Naturally, wandering around with a gun in hand brings attention; the mood of the NPCs in the player’s environment changes if their weapon is drawn – even when it isn’t aimed."
Camp "And as Morgan encounters each gang member, his mood changes from one to the next naturally, greeting those who contribute, ignoring those who don’t and admonishing bad behavior. The gang is an organic community and it grows and shrinks depending on who leaves and who stays."
HUD "At the demo’s close, two more tidbits of information were imparted. First, the game’s HUD is completely customisable; players can remove every trace of in-game help – including the circular map in the bottom of the screen – should they wish, making the experience all the more immersive."
"In Red Dead 2, people exist. They have work to do and schedules to stick to, regardless of whether you’re there to see it or not. But if you are there, they’ll react accordingly - so point a revolver at the guy innocently sweeping his porch and, depending on his demeanour, he could drop to his knees and beg for his life, or at the opposite end of the scale draw a six-shooter and retaliate. There’s deep-rooted connection between you, your actions and the surrounding world, which is critical to everything that Red Dead Redemption 2 is. Rockstar doesn’t just want you to play as outlaw and protagonist Arthur Morgan, it wants you to live as him."
Camp "The camp is a living community. Hidden from prying eyes by thick brush and towering trees, it’s the people that bring it to life and as such it’s constantly changing."
"This is a working camp, so everything has to… well, work. Clothes have to be cleaned, wood is needed for the fire, water must to be collected from the river, and so on. Each member of the gang has a role to play and their own duties to fulfill, and if you take a minute to look around you’ll begin to notice how everything works as it should and everyone has their place."
Interaction system "You have complete control over how Arthur acts in the world, thanks to a sophisticated interaction system represented by a number of choices displayed in the bottom right of the screen, such as Greet or Antagonise. These dynamically change depending on a number of factors, including where you are, who you’re talking to, choices you’ve made previously in the interaction and so on."
Gunplay "From the demo Dead Eye looks much the same as in the last game; the screen turns sepia and the action slows, giving the player a few seconds to mark targets before shooting. The four lawmen hit the dirt in a hail of gunfire before Arthur turns his focus to the deputies firing from on top of buildings. Long-distance kills play out in slow motion, shown from a reverse angle so you can fully appreciate the kill, and as the law is pushed back Arthur and the gang slowly make their way from one piece of cover to the next, back to their horses."
"more lawmen close in from every side. Arthur deftly disposes of two riding up from behind before switching to his rifle to fire at another gunman riding along a nearby ridge. The first shot misses but the second hits hard, knocking the target off his horse. His legs get caught in the reins and he’s dragged along the ground as the horse gallops on."
(The rest are translated using Google translate, so expect some mistakes.)
(Hobby Consolas)
"All the aspects that already marked a milestone in the previous "sandbox" of Rockstar ( GTA V ) have been improved and refined so that we have a feeling of immersion and persistence. In other words, Morgan's actions will have repercussions, both on the other characters and in the environment and will leave a mark that will accompany us throughout the game. It is a completely organic ecosystem that we had never experienced in a video game. And in addition, RDR 2 has the largest and densest map that has been to date in any game of the company."
"The narration that accompanied the demo was no less impressive: the hulls of our saddle will leave traces on the ground, which will fill with water and form puddles when it starts to rain, the corpses of animals will rot, and their smell will attract predators and scavengers until they disappear ... and we will see how the railroad network grows and increasingly unites more populations."
Guns "The RDR 2 arsenal is also selected with care; for now we know we will have at our disposal single action and semi-automatic revolvers, as well as lever rifles, black powder and cartridge shotguns (and we have only scratched the surface of the game)"
Interior graphics "We have already told you how impressive of its open stages, but it can not be compared with all the details of its interiors. The light is transformed when it passes through the windows and is reflected on the bronze surface of the oil lamps and on the wood of the desks, and generates a warm atmosphere."
Gunplay "The Red Dead Redemption shooting systemwas already brilliant. It is true that we could rely on the automatic aim and the Dead Eyeshot (stopping the time to mark the targets) to solve most violent encounters. But at the same time, it greatly rewarded those who preferred a manual system. That gun control is back, and it's even more accurate.
Gun control requires that we cock each time we fire with the "single action" and we can check with anguish how Morgan must reload-exchanging the handgun-before re-opening fire. So not only is it a matter of aim, but to take cover, and have a precise "timing" so that our enemies do not flank us."
"So, actor Arthur Morgan will be the only playable character of Red Dead Redemption 2. A question that has been raised many times, especially following the system proposed by GTA V with its three protagonists that could be swapped to the fly. If Rob Nelson (co-President of Rockstar North, we remind you) does not rule out reusing the GTA V scheme in another game, imposing a hand character for Red Dead Redemption 2 allows you to focus on the adventures of Arthur Morgan, his intentions, how he will evolve over the course of history, knowing that he is by far a key figure in the Dutch band."
Camera "Another element that will change a lot of things is the camera. Like what was done with the last GOD OF WAR, the angle of view was extremely close, which certainly reduces the field of vision but offers more dynamism but also privacy. At present, we do not know if the camera will be able to stand back or the height, but such a change necessarily has consequences in the gameplay. During shooting sequences (we talk about it a little further down), the action is obviously reinforced, while during hunting moments, we have the feeling of being one with nature. Arthur Morgan finds himself in fact closer to the flora, but also the wildlife with which he will enjoy a new level of interaction and never seen in a video game."
Gunplay "a quick glance of the gunfight system , also greatly improved since the first episode. We could see Arthur Morgan taking cover, varying the animations according to his hideout. Similarly, Rockstar has also varied the maximum movements of Arthur Morgan who will have different ways to hold his weapon, but also to shoot according to his position, the weapon he will use or the style simply (from the classic shot or by quickly hitting the revolver dog with the palm of the hand). The famous Dead Eye will of course be part of it, with improvements that Rockstar Games did not want us to detail during the demo.
know that killcams have been put in place to magnify certain gestures, but also some deaths. It remains to know now in what conditions these focus will be triggered, but we can trust Rockstar to put our eyes on it."
"In the course of the game, new people will join the squad again and again. However, we can not recruit members freely in the game world because, according to Rob Nelson, this would not guarantee the "degree of relationship with the people". After all, the hero is supposed to build a bond with each gangmate, with random NPCs in the game world that would be difficult. Nor is it possible to slip into other people, because unlike GTA 5, Arthur Morgan is the only playable character in RDR2. Rob Nelson says, "It's Arthur's story, and I think we have very compelling reasons to stay with him."
"Arthur rides on through a burnt forest and abandoned settlement. Places to remember, also because, as Rob Nelson says, they are "hand-crafted", so uniquely designed and not just randomly copied into the landscape."
"There are also many dynamic elements and events in the game world. For example, at one point we see some workers pulling up the walls of a new ranch. Upon request, we are confirmed by Rob Nelson, that at a later point there may well be a finished house."
"Arthur can now whistle at the touch of a button, for example, to attract the attention of opponents - or just wild - on himself."
Interaction system "The liveliness of the game world should set Red Dead Redemption 2 apart from many other Open World titles, but at least as big Rockstar has also written the interaction with her on the flags. Persons we meet along the way can still theoretically get out of the saddle, as in the first part, but RDR 2 fans out the possibilities of interaction, away from the binary "killing or passing on". It is much more interesting, for example, to talk to an NPC by pressing the left trigger once, then popping up several dialog options. For example, you can threaten your opponent or convince him in other ways, for example, to spend his money or to leave his coach to us.
Incidentally, this also works in the opposite direction, if, for example, a sheriff wants to convince us, with warm words, not to cause any unrest. In general, the demo is very impressive on how NPCs and the game world react to Arthur."
Gunplay "What's new is that you can now chase a whole cartridge drum into your targets in a matter of seconds even at normal game speed, and some kills are also captured by a slow motion killcam, similar to Max Payne 3, for example, Nelson adds that basic weapon handling should be even more sophisticated, mature and powerful.
On weapon types, we see Arthur's revolver, a rifle and a shotgun during the presentation, which are selected via a ring menu as in the predecessor. We also catch a glimpse of the status of the weapons, which differ as in the first part in certain attributes such as range and strength, the shooting iron can be upgraded as well."
"We meet caravans, fishermen, a group of settlers who are building a ranch. " Coming back to this area in a while you might find this building completed and in operation ", the developers tell us: " that of Red Dead Redemption 2 will be a world in some evolutionary ways, where you will build railways and towns they will expand "."
Interaction system "Arthur Morgan , to make a long story short, is able to talk with every single NPC dating on his way, and without the need for multiple-choice dialogue systems that would disrupt the flow of action. The most important thing to remember, in fact, is that Red Dead Redemption 2 does not want in any way to turn into a role-playing game, but to remain a title "in which a role is played "."
"In short, the times of GTA, in which all the inhabitants of San Andreas could remain disinterested in the presence of the protagonists, flee in a panic or at most rebel against the nth angora. "We wanted to create a world in which the barrel of a rifle was not the only tool through which to interact with the characters ", explains Rob Nelson, head of Rockstar North."
(Famitsu) Has some interesting info but I don't think I could take bits without it messing it up.
All these previews are also listed here, (https://www.rockstargames.com/reddeadredemption2/news/article/60432/First-Look-Previews-of-Red-Dead-Redemption-2%20)
submitted by karistaja to reddeadredemption [link] [comments]

[OC] The Magineer - Chapter 23

Chapter 23

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This chapter has a total of ~6300 words, at an average rate of 400 wpm this chapter should take ~15 and a half minutes to read
Ethan stood by the door he'd just opened, still holding the door handle and watching as Memeta strode into the room like she owned the place. He was still completely bemused by the fact that he was being visited by some strange woman, and that this wasn’t some bizarre dream. It seemed Memeta was rather bemused as well, she looked around curiously at the simulated lab, seemingly interested in the strange screens and items around the room.
The awkward silence persisted for a moment before she turned to Ethan.
“Well, this is certainly an interesting place you have,” she commented absentmindedly. Ethan closed the door and crossed his arms, frowning a little.
“I don't mean to be rude, but who the hell are you, and what are you doing here?” He asked flatly, ignoring her comment. He set his AI to work documenting all their interactions and analysing the situation.
“Well you are certainly very direct. I guess I owe you a pretty big explanation.”
Memeta paced around the room as she started speaking.
“First off, are you aware of what a divine is?”
“Vaguely,” he replied after a moment of thought, “I know that there seems to be beings of power or a system that controls this world. I received a ‘divine blessing’ once. I figured there weren't actual beings behind it though, just a system. It seems that I'm wrong, however.”
Memeta smiled and didn't respond for a moment, instead she motioned towards a small microscope and cocked an eyebrow at Ethan, seemingly asking if she could fiddle with it. Ethan nodded towards her. Seeing his sign of approval she picked it up and started looking around the item.
“Good, at least you’re not completely blind to what we are.” As she was speaking she looked down the lens on the microscope and a look of confusion briefly passed over her face, she continued despite her apparent confusion, “You're right in the fact that we are beings, although I don’t think you see the scale. There are hundreds of us who live in what is called the ‘Celestial Plane’, each of us have a nemesis or rather, an opposite. We have a large level of power and influence over the mortal plane, although we aren't unlimited in our power. We have our abilities over mortals limited by something called “The Wheel”, a system for balance that keeps us in check. Our interactions with the world through this Wheel are controlled by limited “Faith points” that we accrue over time and can use to influence things on the mortal planes. Everything in this world should be operating under the influence of the Wheel, and it does.” She paused for a moment, “Apart from you, that is.” Memeta hesitated for a second as she thought carefully on what to say next.
“We cannot perceive the world through your eyes, or know your feelings like with any other mortal. You are completely locked out from our control.” She stopped trying to look down the lens on the microscope and looked Ethan directly in the eye “This makes you special. Most of the divines want to see you dead, however you have been greatly furthering my cause.” Ethan had a lot of questions, but one stuck out from the rest.
“And what ‘cause’ is that?”
“I’m the goddess of free information and memetics, my dear. My cause is to spread knowledge, ensure that information doesn't get lost to time and to stop information that wants to be free from becoming secret.”
Well, that explains why she is almost completely naked. I'm not complaining, though. Ethan mused.
“This is why you are important to me. You seem to have a vast amount of knowledge alien to this world, and have a knack for discovering things that others want to keep secret.” She beamed Ethan another smile, “I do believe that keeping you alive would be of great advantage for me, which is why I’m here.”
It dawned on Ethan what this was all about, it seemed that he had a few friends up in the so called “Celestial plane”. It made Ethan curious however.
“So you’ve basically come here to help me beat that?” Ethan motioned towards a screen displaying a still of the Nephilim chasing him, “There has to be strings attached, you can’t be entirely altruistic in your cause.”
While they talked, Memeta continued to look around the curious items in Ethan's lab, inspecting and fiddling with each one. It was not like the various scientific instruments could be broken. Regardless, on any normal day Ethan would have been bothered and told her stop. Today was very much not a normal day.
“You’re partly right.” She answered plainly “What do you think a goddess of my disposition wants from you in return for helping you in your current situation?”
Ethan pondered the question for a moment, she could want many things from him. Maybe she wanted the sceptre, or for him to become her harbinger? If she truly was being altruistic in nature she wouldn't want any of these things, would a god even have a need for a physical item such as the sceptre? No seemed to be the obvious answer, which meant there was one other thing she would want.
“You want information” Ethan stated “About what, though?” Memeta let out a sigh at Ethan's question.
“Isn’t it obvious? I want to know about you. Of all things I know about, you are the one mysterious piece of the puzzle. What are your origins? What motivates you? What is the end goal to all your current actions? Who really is Ethan West?”
Ethan was taken back a little by the question, she wanted to know about him? While back on Earth he would have struggled to answer the question she had just posed, ever since his accidental arrival in this world he felt a lot more purpose to his life.
“Well, this is a tricky question” Ethan replied. He leant against a nearby table as he thought “To be truthful, I’m not entirely sure what is motivating me, I’ve just been going with the flow so far.”
“I guess the side of me that is a scientist is motivating me, I need to know why and how this world works and then be able to use that knowledge to the best of my ability.” Ethan paused to think for a brief moment, “I guess my end goal is to improve the lives of people in this world and use the magic to my own benefit. You divines are immortal, maybe I could extend my life or something. That would be nice. More than anything though, I have the ability to be something here. Back where I come from I was just one of many, in fact many people considered my line of research crazy or a waste of time, So I’d also like to find a way back to Earth at some point and show people there this amazing place I’ve discovered.” Memeta had stopped fiddling and seemed to be paying a great deal of attention to Ethan. Ethan looked over at her, “Is that what you were hoping to hear?”
Memeta chuckled to herself, “Thank you for the information! It certainly explains a lot, no wonder you’re such a strange person… you’re not even from this world! It seems to me that you will keep spreading your knowledge and generally keep doing what you have been doing already, meaning I’m more than happy to help you.”
Ethan was glad to hear this, although there was one more thing he wanted to know.
“That's good to hear. I’m curious though, am I quite popular in the celestial plane? What does your ‘nemesis’ think of me, for example? Also, what exactly are you planning to do in order to help me?” Ethan added at the last second.
“Well… in answer to your first question, I wouldn't call you popular, more like… infamous. You don't have many admirers amongst the divines, so you should value the few of us who do support you. You should know, your actions have actually brought a new pair of divines into existence, as you can imagine they are pretty big fans.” Ethan was pleased to hear something positive but then frowned as he realised that divines who supported him were greatly outnumbered by those who didn’t,“In terms of my nemesis? Crypto hates you with a burning passion, I wouldn't be surprised to find that this Nephilim you are currently fighting is his doing. It is a lot of fun to tease him about the little he can do to stop you.”
Memeta had sat down in one of the swivelling office-type chairs while talking and seemed interested in the way it rotated “In terms of helping you? I'm sure the main thing you've figured I have by this point is knowledge, and that's exactly what I'm going to give you.” She paused and looked directly at Ethan with a piercing look, Ethan would have been worried if he knew this “look” is the one divines have when they are casting a spell.
“Ever heard of soul magic?”
“Uh no, why do y–” Ethan was interrupted mid sentence as a line of text flashed in his vision.
Divine Blessing Received: Knowledge Package
The message was quickly followed by another prompt from his AI.

Yes Ethan thought without taking long to consider it, he waited anxiously to see what Memeta had just given him.
Information rapidly flooded into Ethan's mind and his AI quickly got to work organising it and cataloguing it. Screens around his lab flared with information as his AI processed the data.
Ethan got an idea of what he had just received fairly quickly as the information assembled itself. He had just been given terabytes of data on soul magic, everything from how to actually produce the Thuam to different spells that were possible.
“Wow, this is amazing!” Ethan had pulled up a few holographic displays and was rapidly reading through them “How are you able to even give me this information, I thought you said divines couldn’t directly influence me?”
Memeta giggled to herself, seemingly proud of something.
“That's the trick, I can't directly influence you, if I could I would have been able to directly grant you this knowledge and have you learn it instantly, so I did the next best thing. Through means I don’t really understand, you are able to process vast amounts of information in your head, so I’ve used our direct link to give you all the knowledge I have of soul magic to look over.” Ethan nodded eagerly at what she was saying, the truth was that he wasn’t really paying much attention anymore, he was deeply consumed in various displays in front of him. He would need to get to work straight away in order to have a working spell that could save him. Memeta stood around awkwardly for a few moments before scratching the back of her head and sighing.
“Well since you’re going to be busy I’ll leave you to it–“
“Wait! Don’t go yet!” Ethan turned away from the screens and suddenly seemed very interested in Memeta, she didn’t know whether this was a good sign or not.
“I just want to ask one thing, do you mind if I use my [Analyse] Skill on you? It's a simple Skill I’ve had pretty much since I arrived on this world. One that tells me information about any objects or person I use it on, considering you’re the first divine being I’ve met it would be a great help to my knowledge of this world if I could use it on you… willingly. It doesn’t end so well when I use the Skill on unwilling participants….” Memeta cocked one of her eyebrows and smirked at what Ethan had just said. Unknown to Ethan the skill he possessed was one of Memetas creations, the wheel had just never assigned it to anyone before. She decided to play oblivious and tease him a bit.
“Oh? So, seeing most of my bare skin isn’t enough information for you?” She put her hands on her hips in an attempt to look intimidating and Ethan blushed a little.
“I- I didn’t mean it like that! The skill doesn’t reveal things li–”
“Oh hush” Memeta silenced him, “I’m only messing with you, go ahead and use it. I swear if this is a trick of some kind you are not going to have a good day.” Ethan shook his head, he should have figured that even divines have an apparent sense of humor.
It took a moment for Ethan to figure out how to cast the skill, you needed to cast it at a target afterall, which in this case was in his own mind. Luckily he quickly found a workaround which involved using his AI to define Memeta as a separate entity in his mind, so that she could be targeted. Ethan was half prepared for Memeta to go berserk and start attacking him, however, that didn’t happen. Memeta simply frowned.
“Well, that was bizarre. My own voice told me I was being analysed just then…” Ethan didn’t really hear her as he looked over the stats, he had expected something very powerful, but this? This was completely insane!
For Ethan it could be anything but anticlimactic. He stared wide eyed at the stats displayed on his vision.
Name Memeta - Goddess of Memetics and Free Information Species Divine
Class (1st) Divine Spirit - Knowledge (Level 532) Strength (STR) ??
Class (2nd) Know-It-All (Level 411) Vitality (VIT) ??
XP (Deferred) ∞ (∞) Dexterity (DEX) ??
AP/SP Available ?? AP / ?? SP Agility (AGI) ??
Health ∞/∞ (+∞/min) Intelligence (INT) ??
Mana ∞ (+∞/min) Wisdom (WIS) ??
Age ?? Willpower ??
Soul Type Divine Faith Points 3672 (+0.1/week)
Affliction Level Description
Divine Sapience 191 (65%) You have followers in the mortal plane, granting you the power to become a sapient form.
Curse of The Wheel 78 (78%) Your powers are artificially limited by the effects of The Wheel.
Ethan couldn’t comprehend how something could have stats that simply said “infinity”, it broke the entire understanding that Ethan currently had of the system that the world used… or maybe he was interpreting it wrong?
It seemed that Divines were unable to manifest in the real world, they were only allowed to exist in the “Celestial Plane” that Memeta had mentioned, so perhaps the system couldn’t interpret her statistics properly because Divines were more like outside forces than people?
That description made the most sense in Ethan's mind, if a divine were to manifest themselves in the “real world” then they would have statistics that made a lot more sense as it wouldn’t actually be the Divine. It would just be a representation of them assembled using the power available to them. Ethan's line of thought was abruptly interrupted by Memeta.
“Well, did you learn what you hoped?” She asked.
“I have a lot of questions” Ethan paused, “First off, How is it possible to have ‘infinite’ health and mana? That makes no sense, the way I understand it there should always be values to everyone's stats.” Ethan queried after a moment of thinking. Memeta only gave him a sad smile.
“Are you foolish enough to think that if you hit me enough times I’ll die? Or that if I exert my magics enough then my mana will run dry? You have a lot left to learn, Ethan, and as much as I’d like to teach you, I’m afraid we are running out of time. The amount of faith points it's costing me to maintain this link is getting somewhat crazy.” She rubbed her arm with her other hand in a nervous manner, almost as if she wanted to say more, “Good luck, Ethan, you’re going to need it.”
“Wait!–” This time Ethan didn’t delay her departure, she vanished without a sound or trace that anyone was ever there. Ethan stood for a moment in a now considerably more empty lab before he slumped over in a nearby chair and started to contemplate.
Ethan realised that he had learnt a few good things, but also plenty of worrying or downright scary things from the sudden encounter. He decided not to dwell on the terrifying concept of beings that could not be killed and could never run out of energy, and instead decided to focus on solving his more current issues by developing spells from the information he had just been given.
His AI had already created a few concepts and started working on a few spells related to souls but hadn’t made much progress. Ethan's AI was more of a tool than a sapient being inside of his head, it could only be as good as the user operating it. The AI was very good at gathering data and organising it, however, having an actual sapient mind that could recognise patterns, make connections and rule out irrelevant data drastically sped up the processing ability of the AI. Without Ethan personally focusing on the creation of a spell the AI had to try to brute force it. It would simply go through all the possible combinations it could, trying to achieve the desired effect of the spell. More complex spells would take the AI a dramatically longer time to develop.
Even having Ethan's mind rule out obvious things that won’t work sped up the process of making a spell, having him personally focus on one meant that a spell could be made and tested in the matter of a few simulated hours, rather than the weeks it would take the AI on its own. Ethan thought of this process to be much like compiling a computer program, just that it relied on his mind to process the program and make it work.
The actual “hardware” the AI relied on for its processing was literally the gray matter in Ethan's head, there was very little silicone involved in the neural hardware, which was why the AI was limited in such a fashion.
The AI also had other things that limited it: the amount of ‘logical’ operations it could perform, and hence how fast it could process data greatly depended on how conscious Ethan was. If he was fully alert and the AI was just running in the background, it was limited to simple operations. It was only when Ethan allowed the AI to use more of his gray matter normally reserved for his own use that it could process more information. In a sense it worked almost like RAM in a traditional computer system. The only real difference between a physical computer and his AI was that his AI conserved information by encoding it as binary transmissions in the spike trains going through his brain’s neurons. That was all he knew, anyway.
Ethan's consciousness could be considered to be a massive hog in terms of how much of the graymatter it required, only leaving small parts for the AI to use. For this reason Ethan always tried to be as still and inactive as possible when he needed to perform a large amount of work with his AI, when he was sleeping was the best time for work to be done by the AI. Using the time dilation feature also wasn’t consequence free, it was extremely taxing on the mind, there were examples of people who quite literally dropped dead from exhaustion on Earth after using time dilation way too much.
Considering his current circumstances, where he was relying on the ability of the AI to control his body to keep him alive, AI would have less processing ability than usual. He had also been using time dilation a dangerous amount.
There was another way he could speed up the development of spells. Using a spell to test its effect in the real world rather than a simulated space would greatly improve the speed at which a spell was developed. It was what had happened with the flying spell after it had to be used in a… somewhat unexpected emergency. Analysing the real use of spells always seemed to enable more data to be gathered on the spell, especially if it worked. For this reason Ethan looked through the vast amount of soul-related data for some simple spells.
After a moment a particular one stood out.
The spell was called “Soul Vision” and according to the description was a simple spell that highlighted beings with souls in your vicinity along with the strength of the soul. It unfortunately didn’t provide much more information than that. More annoyingly was the way it would normally be cast, mind runes. Meaning Ethan wasn’t lucky enough to have been provided with fully functional primordial spells. Briefly scanning over a few more spells he saw that they were all described in non-technical ways and were always being cast via mind runes, spoken incantations, or hand gestures.
It seemed that to get any results from soul magic he would need to confront his worst enemy: hard work.
By no means was Ethan a slacker back when he was on Earth, but he certainly believed in the mindset of “put in the bare minimum effort, so that it is what people think is your best effort. They will be impressed if you ever put in more than your bare minimum”.
Like he had said to Memeta a moment ago, being in this world changed all of that attitude. Ethan finally felt a meaning to his life, and actively wanted to achieve things. No longer was he an aimless post-graduate, he could be an all-powerful wizard, great leader or amazing innovator. Or maybe all three.
With his newfound motivation, or maybe fear of failure, Ethan went at developing the spell with greater fervour than he ever had on any other spell. Ethan pieced the spell together at a rate that even surprised him, putting together the 4 dimensional programming language that primordial magic seemed to be in a way that would have even shocked his AI, if it could feel emotions, that is.
Just 30 minutes of simulated time later he had a prototype that should work, at least in theory. Using the fact that testing spells in the real world worked better for developing them than testing them in simulated space did, Ethan cast the spell without much hesitation. He didn’t worry if it would somehow kill him, he would be dead anyway if he couldn’t get something to work.
In his simulated space Ethan anxiously watched a display showing his vision. Panic briefly fluttered in Ethan’s heart as his vision darkened and he worried that something had gone wrong with the spell.
Shit, did I just make myself blind? Ethan thought with panic. He wouldn’t be surprised if it had hit some massive snag, after all he had pieced it together like a frenzied Russian trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle.
The panic washed away as he saw that he was not, in fact, blind. The world resolved itself in muted gray tones, objects were surrounded by fuzzy gray outlines and the sky was a pitch black.
Ethan then saw the points of light, hundreds of them alone in the forest beside where he flew.
His jaw hung open for not the first time in the day; it was oddly beautiful. Beyond looking pretty it served a very functional purpose. Each point of light pinpointed a being with a soul and the brightness/intensity of the light showed how much strength the soul had. Most of the points of light–souls, rather, were hard to spot from the muted grays. They were small and very dim, probably the souls of insects and other tiny creatures. The point where it started to become interesting was apparently when you reached creatures the size of a small mouse, the light given off by these souls was noticeable. Although still not very powerful.
Looking around briefly Ethan saw a much more powerful soul being highlighted, or rather two souls. Using the AI to enhance his view of the far away peak of the volcano where he currently was looking he saw what was happening, a roc was mere seconds away from decapitating a smaller avian creature.
Ethan sat and watched eagerly, curious to see what would happen to a soul when the body it is normally contained in is killed.... although he didn’t know if being excited about another being getting killed was a good thing or not.
I’m getting excited about things dying? I’m already halfway to being an evil necromancer! Ethan thought to himself in a somewhat humorous manner.
The seconds in the real world slowly ticked by as the minutes slid by in simulated reality, Ethan watched as the vague white blob of the roc collided with the smaller bird, thing? The effect was nearly instant. The impact had obviously been to much for the poor thing to handle and it had died instantly. Ethan watched in fascination as its soul seemed to “seep” out of its body and floated in a cloud where it was just killed. The “cloud” of soul seemed to start to slowly weaken as it dispersed, Ethan didn’t stay watching as it would have taken a long time to watch the entire thing. He didn’t have much of a choice apart from to stop watching, in slow motion he was thrown off course as the AI suddenly started to adjust his course to dodge another lightning bolt from the Nephilim.
Wait a minute…
Ethan commanded the AI to get a view of the Nephilim, he was suddenly much more curious as to how the Nephilim looked currently than what a Roc looked like. His head slowly turned under the AI’s control, he was just able to catch the Nephilim in the corner of his vision. His eyebrows raised in interest, it was blindly bright, so much so that he couldn’t even see a vague figure like he could with the other creatures about. This guy was just a solid glowing orb.

The message flashed on a nearby screen, Ethan found it no surprise that the light could be damaging to his eyesight, considering just how bright it was. As his vision was slowly averted from the Nephilim he could see a clear after-image of the glow in his vision, much like the ones you would get after briefly looking at the sun.
How was he expected to kill that?
Regardless, Ethan smiled to himself as he saw a cunning solution, involving the creation of a new type of soul spell that never existed throughout history, according to all the information he had just been given.
After a few more hours and massive effort on his behalf, Ethan had the spell. He’d tested it innumerable times in his simulated space but the real effects that such a spell would have were alien to him. He simply didn’t have the data and variables available to test it in the simulated space.
He would just cross his fingers and hope that it would work the first time.
Ethan leant back in his chair staring at a visual representation of the spell he had just created, the Soul Vision spell paled in comparison to the size and complexity of this one. He found it beautiful to look at, in a way that only a mathematician who found complex equations beautiful.
The spell would do more than look pretty, though. It should be Ethan's ticket to not get killed. A few more minutes had passed in the real world during his time taken to develop the spell, he was now skimming along the peak of the volcano, using natural outcroppings to provide a small amount of cover. He wouldn’t need to hide with the potentially life threatening stunt he was about to pull off.

His AI relinquished the control of his body instantly, and the world suddenly slipped back to its normal speed and he found himself back in the high speed pursuit. He didn’t wait a second before he took action.
From what he had seen so far, the Nephilim chasing him was easily able to match his speed, which made outrunning him impossible. Ethan figured he could outmaneuver him instead. So he applied the brakes, in a metaphorical sense.
The G’s of deceleration slammed into Ethan like a brick wall, the corners of his vision went black and he struggled to stay conscious as the seconds passed. He came to a full stop in less than 50 meters. As he had expected the Nephilim wasn’t able to brake as hard, shooting straight past at quite a pace. It let out another one of its screams, probably in frustration.
Ethan simply hovered in the air where he was and closed his eyes, focusing. The spell he needed to cast was complex to the degree that the AI wouldn’t be able to cast it on its own. Ethan started the arduous process of piecing it together in his mind as the Nephilim turned around and started making headway towards Ethan.
He remained perfectly still as the Nephilim approached, it was charging a powerful spell at its apparently suddenly suicidal victim. It would never get a chance to cast the spell.
It suddenly found itself hit by a strange feeling, not a physical one, but a mental one. It felt like there was a strange something that was pulling at it. Ethan simply smirked and they both went limp as the spell went into its next stage, their bodies floated a good couple dozen of meters away from each other as the battle departed the physical realm and entered the realm of the mind. Their souls were fully connected to each other and one of them was about to have a very bad time.
Samayael suddenly found himself in a strange white plane, like a blank canvas. The ‘floor’ was a slightly different colour white to the rest of the surroundings enabled him to at least stand without falling over. He took a cautious step, and it seemed that the ‘floor’ shifted with him, the all encompassing white seemingly in a sphere around him. He had no idea how he had got here at all, as all he remembered was a strange tugging at what felt like his mind and then a “fall”.
Am I dead? Did that damn human find a way to slay me?! He angrily thought to himself. Unbeknownst to him he was not dead. His and Ethan's souls were in a “Limbo” like state, in a reality between the physical world and that of death. If you were to look at the two of them floating in the sky using Soul Vision you would see their souls stretched out and “connected” together. It was exactly what Ethan intended, the only way to escape the connection would be to destroy the tenuous link that their souls shared with their own bodies.
“Well, damn. You're one ugly motherfucker.” The insult originated behind him and Samayael spun around to face the voice. Standing a good 10 meters away was the Human, wearing white robes and smiling in a self-confident manner. Samayael realised in sudden horror that he was no longer wearing his usual clothing. He was wearing the same plain white robe. His disfigured and hideous face was in plain view.
“You wretched creature!” He screeched, “What in seven hells have you done?” The human’s smile only seemed to broaden at this.
“I just levelled the playing field a little.” The human said with a smirk.
Samayael simply couldn’t contain his anger anymore, he leapt towards the Human and found out in short notice that he apparently weighed a lot less here. His jump, which should have landed him straight on top of the human took him sailing over the top of him, and he ended up landing on the opposite side the same distance away as he had just started. Reaching entirely new levels of rage he turned back around to face the human again. Instead of going for a physical attack, he started conjuring a powerful [Lightning Bolt].
Except it didn’t work, his hand gestures did nothing. The human was breaking down laughing.
“Oh man! That was too good!” he wheezed, apparently struggling for breath amid his entertainment, “I should have mentioned it, really, physics here don’t work the same way as they do in the physical world. The gravity is lower and magic doesn’t work. Our stats are also set to neutrally equal values. We’re gonna have to settle this the old fashioned way.” Ethan said before raising a fist.
Samayael didn’t understand some of the words in the mortal’s mocking words. Nevertheless, he still found himself feeling greatly insulted.
He went to leap at the Human again, this time putting less power into the jump. Unfortunately for him, Ethan moved first. Ethan only had a vague idea of how physics behaved in this separate reality. It was the one thing he truly had no idea what would happen with when he used the spell. He was learning the new rules of the place quickly, but so was Samayael.
Ethan had propelled himself straight towards him, intending to collide with him to knock him down. He had positioned his elbow to make sure that it hit first. Samayael’s eyes widened and he prepared himself to collide with the rapidly moving human, but in a surprise move with a speed that even amazed himself, he sidestepped and the human went flying by. It seemed that he would react reflexively to some things. Ethan's landing was rather graceful, He hit the floor and rolled, coming to a stop and picked himself up.
The two circled around each other, waiting for the other to make a move. Samayael made the move in the end. He took a few bounding steps, and then slid down on the floor with the intention of knocking Ethan down. Not expecting the sudden move downwards, Ethan didn’t move in time and was swept off his feet. He hit the ground hard, the breath was knocked out his lungs. He lay there trying to lever himself up. Samayael meanwhile had gotten up again from his maneuver and jumped back towards his prone victim. Pain suddenly echoed in Ethan's ribs and he went flying a good couple meters. The Nephilim had performed a plain and simple kick to the ribs while he was down. In that moment, an outside observer using Soul Vision would have seen the tether between Ethan’s body and soul, and the common connection he and the Nephilim shared warbling and being strung taut to near the point of snapping.
Ethan knew the implications of losing, his soul would quite literally end up detached from his body. He would be dead. Finding new inspiration in the fact that he didn’t want to die, he leapt to his feet just in time to see a fist from Samayael approaching his face. The Nephilim, although terrified from this unexpected situation, was having a great time. It was quite clear that the mortal hadn’t been in many fist fights. He relished in the fear that briefly shone in the mortal's eyes before his fist connected with the human’s face and sent him flying again. The human landed on his back and wasn’t moving.
Sensing that the end to… whatever this is was, was drawing near; Samayael took his time to approach the mortal. It seemed that today he would be getting the strange sceptre that he had been compelled to seek.
He shouldn’t have been counting his chickens before the eggs had hatched though; when he was but a scant few metres away from the mortal and probably mere seconds from beating him out of existence… the mortal performed some kind of fancy backflip and was once again on his feet facing the Nephilim. Worry flicked through Samayael’s expression briefly as he saw the look in the human's eyes. Gone was the scared expression, it had been replaced with a look that could be explained as nothing but cold and calculating.
Unbeknownst to the Nephilim, Ethan had just tried to activate his AI’s survival protocol. When that didn’t work, he shifted it to reconnaissance mode, and it started to bolster his perception and reaction times. It was better than nothing.
Samayael swung his fist at the mortal and instead of the swing hitting his head, Samayael found his hand clasped in the palm of the human. Before he could react further a powerful punch landed to his gut. Samayael crumpled over in pain but didn’t have much time to recover, an elbow landed itself on the back of his head, knocking him face-first onto the floor.
His nose made a sickening crunching sound as the bone inside it shattered. He screamed in pain and desperately rolled over, and almost in slow motion, he saw the foot of the human approaching his head and reacted just in time, rolling to the side and dodging the foot. He grabbed the offending leg that had just moments before threatened to cave his face in and pulled, the human lost his balance and fell.
Taking advantage of the opportunity, Samayael got up onto his feet, although no longer as steadily as before. Blood ran down his face from his broken nose and dripped onto the off-white floor, leaving a stain that starkly contrasted to the surroundings. The human had also got up in that time, pushing himself up using his arms and carrying that momentum forward to land on his feet. The human leapt at Samayael, and this time, he didn’t react in time.
Ethan landed a fierce kick to the Nephilim’s left shoulder. He fell over again and grunted in protest as he landed on his side, before the human landed on top of him and began to strangle him.
Ethan knew he had to finish this quickly, the longer their souls remained connected, the greater the chance that his soul would be damaged by the forced contact. In the end, he was risking a lot by being here, but what were his other options? The Nephilim was too powerful to fight in a fair battle.
So he had had to cheat.
And now it was paying off. The Nephilim struggled and managed to flip himself over completely.
Samayael fought mightily to stop the human’s chokehold on his neck, all to no avail, he settled for trying to choke the man in turn.
It was now a true battle of wills, and to the victor would go the spoils. In this case, survival was all that mattered.
Back in the real world, two figures levitated off the ground, connected by an invisible thin strand of spiritual energy. The unfortunate one of the pair found that the tether that linked their soul to their body snapped like an overstretched piece of string.
One was a Nephilim that had lived for years untold, and one was a young human, merely 23 years old; one would die a death horrible and cold, and the other would open their eyes to welcome back the warm embrace of the world.
[Character Sheet is not available during this cutscene]
voodooattack here, Just wanted to say I’m really thankful to die247 for all the hard work. I barely touched this chapter at all! He wrote 99.99% of it to be honest.
I’ll try to help with more than the general plotline in the future. I do want to apologize to him for my absence. But work is work. :(
submitted by voodooattack to HFY [link] [comments]

A table of significant questions and answers from the Balancing Team AMA

Some questions and answers have been edited for brevity, please click through on the context link for the full question and answer of each. Link to the referenced AMA post
Question Answer Link
Been talks of a Tachanka rework, what are your plans for them? We do want to rework Tachanka, both from a balancing perspective and also from a technical one. Tachanka is problematic for our team because he generates a lot of bugs every season and this has high maintenance cost. But do not expect anything soon as this is low in our priorities, as there are other operators to address before Tachanka. Link
Been talks of a Frost rework, what are your plans for them? Frost is very difficult to balance because her utility fluctuates. We've toyed with the idea of making her traps harder to destroy with bullets, which would prevent people from destroying them while vaulting. However, on some sites you cannot destroy the frost trap any other reliable way, so this is not ideal. We are still assessing the best way to balance her. Link
You mentioned earlier, that a Thatcher 'rework' or buff is on the way, can we still expect that? Yes, you can expect it. It's a larger rework so it will take some time. It impacts many systems, which is why it takes so long. Link
I was wondering if you could elaborate on the Castle buff you're planning anytime soon. Nothing to share at this time. It's still in the pipeline, but low priority. Link
Why do you focus on [pro league] data primarily, and are there plans for expanding feedback data to include responses from both Casual and Ranked gamers? We do not only use Pro League data, if you look at the Designer's Notes blog, we are highlighting and using data from the general player base. We are trying to balance our design decisions to address issues at all levels of play. Link
Finka remains an extremely unpopular and now relatively weak operator. Have you considered changes to her further down the line? Yes, we do, but we're still exploring options. We've tried a couple of things that are not as impactful as we were hoping. Link
Why does Maverick destroy Evil Eyes so quickly? Would you consider increasing Bandit Batteries' damage range so that he gets zapped as he's torching a wall? We are fine with that as it is as the hard part of the process is to actually get to the Evil Eye. For Bandit, we don't feel as though that would change that much as he would take minimal damage. Link
Following the community reaction regarding IQ losing her frag grenades, have you considered whether Smoke grenades would be viable and reviewed the overall nerf decision? We are okay with IQ right now, but we're always analyzing this. Link
What do you believe has increased the win delta of Frost and Kapkan? The win rate of Kapkan and Frost has been fluctuating a lot season over season. They used to fluctuate from low to high in a season. So we are still analyzing the data. Link
Are you considering removing Glaz's Smoke Grenades? No. We still want Glaz to do his own thing, but we do have other changes in mind for Glaz that should put him into the role that he was originally intended to be in. Link
Casual is nothing like ranked and doesn’t prepare or teach players for ranked matches. Any plans to bring the two gamemodes closer? Like maybe bringing spawn voting back, or communicating spawn location to defenders? We agree with you. ;) Link
What was your original idea on how players would use Maestro's ALDA with the "experimental" hipfire ? We wanted to try some suppressive fire gameplay that would not require difficult implementation, but that did not work out as much as we wanted. Link
Shotguns have always been in a weird place. Are there any plans on making them more consistent? We don't have any easy solution for the shotgun buff as they behave differently from console to PC. Link
Why do such obvious balance changes take so absurdly long to implement? You're right, we've been too slow to address issues in the past. We are still in the process of implementing ways of making balancing a faster iteration. We've gotten better in the past few months, but there is more work to do. Link
Are you guys going to do something about the 'cancer' meta? Ie Lion + some combo of Jackal, Blitz, Dokk What you're describing is problematic for us and we want to address it in the future. Link
You did mention that you had plans for Capitão Our goal is to find ways to make him more usable in all levels of play, while not increasing his potency in pro league. Link
Timeline for Finka rework? We want to address Finka, but she's not a super high priority. Link
what about Mav? Do consider that his sound needs to be tweaked? We still want to make sure that fighting Maverick feels fair. We're not too worried about him being weak in the long-term, but we are monitoring him closely. Link
Can you guys go into detail about why Lion hasn't simply has his ability reduced to just himself rather than a global ability? The reason why is, while yes it would be a nerf in practice, the frustration of facing him as a defender would be pretty much the same. Even if you know that only one of the attackers can see you through walls, would you try to move? The solution we are experimenting with Lion are meant to lower the frustration facing him and not simply weaken him. Link
Do you guys have any plans for Fuze? I feel like he's currently underpowerd at high level play to the point were he's useless We need to rework his gadget and we want to do a full pass at some point. It's very risky and not reliable to use his gadget most of the time. Also, his kit is not great at the moment, and we want to change that. Link
What amount of time and effort goes into creating operators, and allowing previous operators to serve as counters? From start to launch, it takes 9 months to create an operator. Link
Will you guys look at adjusting operation releases to give more testing/balancing to operators prior to releasing to the general public? We're starting to do play session tests earlier and we're putting a heavier emphasis on test servers. Link
So I was actually curious about the Bearing-9, with the balance of the SMG-11 do you think eventually you'll be adjusting the recoil of all machine pistols? We are monitoring machine pistols and how they behave in the game and there might be more changes down the line but it will be done on a case-by-case basis. Hibana and Echo are not in a bad place right now. Link
Where do you stand on bringing pick and ban to ranked? Yes we want to bring at least some elements of Pick and Ban into public matchmaking but we have not decided on exactly what yet. Link
Thoughts on making the location of Lesion/Ela mines appear also on screen of the rest of the team not just the operator themselves? We tried that with Dokkaebi's phones, but adding too many icons on the screen becomes detrimental. Imagine having 5 operators with their own set of icons stacking on top of each other. Link
What was the biggest "mistake" you made whilst trying to balance an operator? Lion. Blackbeard. Ela. We've made a few mistakes. Link
Did you ever scrap an Operator idea because the concept would be to unbalanced? Not for balancing. We scrap ideas if they are not fun or frustrating. When developing we are trying to create as many levers as we can to balance an operator with numbers during our test sessions and with the pros. A good counter example of not doing that is... Lion. Link
What is an operator you think needs balancing but is too hard to balance? On both ends of the spectrum, Lion and Frost are both binary operators that are hard to balance without reworking them. Link
Will we ever witness a stun grenade rework? I feel like they are currently the most inconsistent gadget in the game. We do want to rework stun grenades in the future, but that might take some time as that is a very different gadget than other grenades. Link
When can we expect a fix for shields? We do have a few R&D going on for shields to address some of the issues. We learned a lot from Clash, and we want to keep exploring the idea where shields are non-lethal weapons. Link
Any chance of Ash getting changed so she’s picked for her gadget over speed and weaponry? Both Ash and JaegeBandit are comfortable to use, and we believe that is what makes them so popular. We elected to try and bring other operators to be as comfortable as them so they compete better. Link
Are there future plans to buff Alibi, like making her Prisma represent her cosmetics? Adding cosmetics are probably not a thing due to technical limitations, but changes to other operators might make her Prismas more appealing... Link
Are there any plans to bring the GIGN (417) Marksman Rifle up to spec to match other DMRs? We might take a look at it in the future. Link
Was the goal of the machine pistol nerf to make them unusable? Machine pistols used to be used as primary weapons and we don't think that is a good thing. Link
What are your thoughts on Echo's current standing in the meta? We believe he is in a good spot right now. Link
What are you planning to do with DMR's? It's hard in Siege to have weapons that compete with automatic weapons, due to the 1 shot headshot mechanic, but we are trying. Link
Can you rework Smoke's toxic babe to work just like other smoke grenade? We have some plans to make them more consistent as well. Although, we don't really want them to be as concealing as regular smoke grenades. Link
Will the community be getting more quality of life improvements? Such as calling timeouts as some players disconnect and going into any round handicapped is pretty bad as players tend to get frustrated. Yeah we agree, the game needs more QoL improvements. There are more coming in the future, but nothing to share now. Link
Why do all the new ops feel so OP? Is it intentional? We don't feel all operators that come out are too OP. A good example of that is Para Bellum. Moreover sometimes OP is a tricky because as you can see from the graph, neither Clash or Maverick are that dominant. Sometimes it is about making them more interesting to play against or with. Link
Is something planned for Caveira in the future? We've tried a couple of crazy things for Cav. But they are on hold right now because we think she's in a good spot. Link
submitted by The_Giffer to Rainbow6 [link] [comments]

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