Permutation Betting/Combination Betting - Basic Explanation

The final fallacy: Nalt, Suppression, and the Unreliable Narrator.

TL;DR: The fallacy Kvothe calls Nalt is the fallacy of suppressed evidence. Suppression of evidence is a recurring theme in the series. Kvothe is an unreliable narrator who suppresses relevant information in the retelling of his life story.
Suppression of evidence is a major theme in the series
Two of the biggest questions in the series are who are the Chandrian (or why do the Chandrian) and where are the Amyr. Kvothe searches the archives for these answers and concludes during a conversation with Maer Alveron that the Amyr themselves are suppressing evidence about their own existence.
“I found the same thing at the University,” I said. “It seemed as if someone had removed information about the Amyr from the Archives there. Not everything, of course. But there were scarce few solid details.”
I could see the Maer’s own conclusions sparking to life behind his clever grey eyes. “And who would do such a thing?” he prompted.
“Who would have better reason than the Amyr themselves?” I said. “Which means they are still around, somewhere.”
Similarly, information about the Chandrian is being suppressed.
More important, one of the few things I knew about the Chandrian was that they worked to viciously repress any knowledge of their own existence. They’d killed my troupe because my father had been writing a song about them. In Trebon they’d destroyed an entire wedding party because some of the guests had seen pictures of them on a piece of ancient pottery.
Given these facts, talking about the Chandrian didn’t seem like the wisest course of action.
So I did my own searching. After days, I abandoned hope of finding anything so helpful as a book about the Chandrian, or even anything so substantial as a monograph. Still, I read on, hoping to find a scrap of truth hidden somewhere. A single fact. A hint. Anything.
Lorren makes an effort to suppress Kvothe’s curiosity about the Amyr.
“I am not accusing you of engaging in boyish fancy. I am advising you to avoid the appearance of boyish fancy.” He gave me a level look, his face as calm as always.
Lorren brought out a pen and drew a series of hashes through my single line of writing in the ledger book. “I have a great respect for curiosity,” he said. “But others do not think as I do.
So not only does Lorren stymie Kvothe’s search, he warns against further inquiry and crosses out the evidence that shows Kvothe made the search in the first place. This is suppression, not just of questions, but of evidence that the inquiry ever existed.
Kvothe glosses over his trial in Imre and his shipwreck. This may be evidence that as a narrator he is suppressing relevant information. These events are clearly missing. Why? Are they just unimportant or are they inconsistent with the argument Kvothe is making about himself and thus intentionally left out by Kvothe. Chronicler thinks the trial at Imre is relevant. When he pushes Kvothe to include it, Kvothe teaches him a lesson by telling the Waystone crowd the story of the Chronicler. When Kvothe skips over the shipwreck and it’s aftermath, Chronicler doesn’t push again. Ultimately, it would take more information to be certain if these events are relevant, but at 25:55 in an interview, Pat has hinted that readers should be asking why certain events are left out. Special thanks to u/BioLogin whose work makes media references easily accessible.
People assume that I wrote it and then I took it out, and it is simply not true. I didn’t write it. So then why did I put something like that in, implying that there was a story and then not giving you the story therefore making you want something you are not gonna get? Why would I do that? And that’s a good question.
This supports the notion that parts of the story are left out to a purpose, or in other words, intentionally suppressed.
If entire events are suppressed, perhaps there are more minute details that are suppressed. Inconsistency may be an indicator of a suppressed detail. One inconsistency is Kvothe amazing memory and his purported inability to recall the the formal name of the ninth prime fallacy during his first admissions interview.
Kvothe claims to have an excellent memory.
“Ben’s training has given me a memory so clean and sharp I have to be careful not to cut myself sometimes.”
And when attending Hemme’s class
I was a jangling mass of excitement as I watched other students slowly trickle into the room. Everyone was older than me by at least a few years. I reviewed the first thirty sympathetic bindings in my head as the theater filled with anxious students. There were perhaps fifty of us in all, making the room about three-quarters full. Some had pen and paper with hardbacks to write on. Some had wax tablets. I hadn’t brought anything, but that didn’t worry me overmuch. I’ve always had an excellent memory.
His memory is so great that it provides the basis for all his other skills.
I have a good memory. That, perhaps more than anything else, sits in the center of what I am. It is the talent upon which so many of my other skills depend.
He also memorized Caesura’s Atas twice as quickly as the best estimate of the Adem.
So why, when asked about the nine prime fallacies, does Kvothe’s memory fail him? He can rattle of the first eight and he specifically tells us that he’s just read Rhetoric and Logic.
“Simplification. Generalization. Circularity. Reduction. Analogy. False causality. Semantism. Irrelevancy….” I paused, not being able to remember the formal name of the last one. Ben and I had called it Nalt, after Emperor Nalto. It galled me, not being able to recall its real name, as I had read it in Rhetoric and Logic just a few days ago.
Did Kvothe actually forget its name or is he suppressing the name of the fallacy to a purpose? What motivation could Kvothe have for suppressing the name of a fallacy? The name of that fallacy must be important and extremely telling if it’s something Kvothe is leaving out. Additionally, recall that Kvothe both hates the book Rhetoric and Logic, the subject of Logic and the Master Rhetorician, Hemme. His hatred of Hemme is well explained, but the rest seems...unreasonable.
Eight prime fallacies briefly explained
The fallacies Kvothe names can be sorted into three general categories: fallacies of presumption, fallacies of relevance, and fallacies of ambiguity. These are not definitive categories, merely a tool logicians use to help think about fallacies. Often reasoning that looks similar will fall into different categories based on the specific information contained in the premises. These are amateur, but researched, guesses.
Presumption fallacies
Simplification, generalization, circularity, false causality, and (maybe) analogy are presumption fallacies. Common names for these fallacy might be as follows:
Generalization is Accident). Simplification is converse accident . Circularity is begging the question or curricular reasoning . False cause is non causa, pro causa. Analogy is weak analogy .
Ambiguity fallacies
Reduction and semantism are ambiguity fallacies. Reduction is causal reductionism. Assuming semantism refers to language use/word choice, it includes the fallacies logicians call equivocation, amphiboly, accent, composition, and division .
Relevancy fallacies
Irrelevancy equates to the entire category of relevance fallacies. This includes many of the most familiar fallacies: appeal to authority/money/emotion/force, straw man, ad hominem and more.
After naming eight of the prime fallacies, Kvothe cannot recall the name for the ninth.
Going by the fact that so many presumption fallacies are listed as prime fallacies and others categories are not broken down into specifically named fallacies, Nalt could be an additional fallacy of presumption. Also, there is no other term among the prime fallacies that seems to incorporate the scope of presumption fallacies the same way irrelevancy and semantism encorporate the categories of relevancy and ambiguity.
Browsing the internet for fallacies of presumption, one stands out as especially fitting given the themes and events of the series: The Fallacy of Suppressed Evidence, or as u/HHBP put it, Suppression.
The finally fallacy is Suppression
The fallacy of suppressed of evidence occurs when true and relevant information is left out for any reason. The audience presumes it has been give all the relevant information and fallaciously draws conclusions.
Kvothe has an excellent memeory. What if Kvothe just doesn’t want to say the name of the final fallacy because it’s the fallacy he is committing while giving his interview with Chronicler. Excluding its name is both a tool for Kvothe to conceal his commission and a tool for Pat to alert readers of its importance. It would be extremely clever and satisfying for Pat to have Kvothe suppress the name the supression fallacy in order to suppress the fact that Kvothe is suppressing evidence. But why would Kvothe and Ben call that fallacy Nalt?
One of the the things we know about Emperor Nalto is that he is “history’s favorite whipping boy.” A whipping boy has a historical literal meaning, but figuratively it means that someone who is blamed for the faults of others.
Assuming a relationship between calling the fallacy Nalt and Kvothe’s observation that Nalto is history’s favorite whipping boy could be the basis of any number of fallacies. More context is needed to support the idea that Nalt indicates suppressed evidence.
Recall that Kvothe and Sim have a bet on whether the Amyr are part of the church or part of the Aturn bureaucracy. Both Kvothe and Wil find the order that abolishes the Amyr, the Alpura Prolycia Amyr. Wil supports his position with The Lights of History by Feltemi Reis, staring that The Alpura Prolycia Amyr was Emperor Nalto sixty-third decree. Kvothe brings Fall of Empire by Greggor the Lesser staring the decree was issued by the church. They take the issue to Puppet.
“I was wondering about the Amyr, actually.” My eyes remained on the scene unfolding at Puppet’s feet. Another marionette had joined the show, a young girl in a peasant dress. She approached the Tehlin and held out a hand as if trying to give him something. No, she was asking him a question. The Tehlin turned his back on her. She laid a timid hand on his arm. He took a haughty step away. “I was wondering who disbanded them. Emperor Nalto or the church.”
“Still looking,” he admonished more gently than before. “You need to go chase the wind for a while, you are too serious. It will lead you into trouble.” The Tehlin suddenly turned on the girl. Trembling with rage, it menaced her with the book. She took a startled step backward and stumbled to her knees. “The church disbanded them of course. Only an edict from the pontifex had the ability to affect them.” The Tehlin struck the girl with the book. Once, twice, driving her to the ground, where she lay terribly still. “Nalto couldn’t have told them to cross to the other side of the street.”
Kvothe goes on to ask Puppet if he has read Reis and why Reis would say the Alpura Prolycia Amyr was Emperor Nalto’s sixty-third decree. Puppet answers that Reis wouldn’t say that.
Wil goes onto speculate about the inconsistency.
“It could be a transcription mistake,” Wilem mused. “Depending on the edition of the book, the church itself might be responsible for changing that piece of information. Emperor Nalto is history’s favorite whipping boy. It could be the church trying to distance itself from the Amyr. They did some terrible things toward the end.”
Now recall the suppression of evidence fallacy occurs when true and relevant information is left out for any reason. Technically what Wil is suggesting looks more like falsifying evidence than suppressing evidence. Without knowing what specific information is left out, it’s impossible to conclusively distinguish between the potential for the falsification of evidence from the suppression of evidence. Imagine that the church and Nalto acted in concert somehow, but for some reason each author only included part, or as Wil suggests, the church somehow erased their part in Reis. Or what if Nalto was both Emperor and Pontifax? This contradicts Puppet’s assertion that Nalto could not have told the Amyr to cross the street, but who knows what evidence Puppet uses as the basis for that assertion. This is a lot of speculation, but it’s the possibility that would most obviously link Nalto with suppression.
Also look at what’s going on with Puppet’s puppets during this conversation. A girl puppet is asking the Tehlin priest puppet a question and he beats her with the Book of the path.
“I was wondering about the Amyr, actually.” My eyes remained on the scene unfolding at Puppet’s feet. Another marionette had joined the show, a young girl in a peasant dress. She approached the Tehlin and held out a hand as if trying to give him something. No, she was asking him a question. The Tehlin turned his back on her. She laid a timid hand on his arm. He took a haughty step away. “I was wondering who disbanded them. Emperor Nalto or the church.”
“Still looking,” he admonished more gently than before. “You need to go chase the wind for a while, you are too serious. It will lead you into trouble.” The Tehlin suddenly turned on the girl. Trembling with rage, it menaced her with the book. She took a startled step backward and stumbled to her knees. “The church disbanded them of course. Only an edict from the pontifex had the ability to affect them.” The Tehlin struck the girl with the book. Once, twice, driving her to the ground, where she lay terribly still. “Nalto couldn’t have told them to cross to the other side of the street.”
Kvothe is asking questions about the Amyr. Puppet puppeteers a scene were the Tehlin Church suppresses questions.
The priest puppet also brandishes the book at Wil for betting, turns away from the girl he’s just beaten, as if to pray, dances when Kvothe asks about Reis, and bows to Wil’s suggestion that the church changed Reis’s work.
Altogether, this seems to confirm that the church suppressed the truth about the abolishing of the Amyr and provides a basis to associate Nalto with suppression, albeit suppression by the church.
Kvothe is an unreliable narrator
Whether Kvothe is an unreliable narrator is a frequent question among readers. Two common positions on this issue are that Kvothe is a liar (even lying about being a good/bad liar) and that, to some extent, all first person narration is inherently biased. If Kvothe is leaving out truthful relevant information, he is suppressing evidence. This makes him unreliable.
Edits: typos and formatting, fixed link for weak analogy
Edit: Least it get overlooked, u/BlueRusalka poinst out the similarity of suppression of evidence to the secrets of the heart in the comment section. I’m including the relevant text here.
IN THE THEOPHANY, TECCAM writes of secrets, calling them painful treasures of the mind. He explains that what most people think of as secrets are really nothing of the sort. Mysteries, for example, are not secrets. Neither are little-known facts or forgotten truths. A secret, Teccam explains, is true knowledge actively concealed.
Philosophers have quibbled over his definition for centuries. They point out the logical problems with it, the loopholes, the exceptions. But in all this time none of them has managed to come up with a better definition. That, perhaps, tells us more than all the quibbling combined.
In a later chapter, less argued over and less well-known, Teccam explains that there are two types of secrets. There are secrets of the mouth and secrets of the heart.
Most secrets are secrets of the mouth. Gossip shared and small scandals whispered. These secrets long to be let loose upon the world. A secret of the mouth is like a stone in your boot. At first you’re barely aware of it. Then it grows irritating, then intolerable. Secrets of the mouth grow larger the longer you keep them, swelling until they press against your lips. They fight to be let free.
Secrets of the heart are different. They are private and painful, and we want nothing more than to hide them from the world. They do not swell and press against the mouth. They live in the heart, and the longer they are kept, the heavier they become.
Teccam claims it is better to have a mouthful of poison than a secret of the heart. Any fool will spit out poison, he says, but we hoard these painful treasures. We swallow hard against them every day, forcing them deep inside us. There they sit, growing heavier, festering. Given enough time, they cannot help but crush the heart that holds them.
Modern philosophers scorn Teccam, but they are vultures picking at the bones of a giant. Quibble all you like, Teccam understood the shape of the world.
Does this mean Kvothe is suppressing evidence equivalent to a secret of the heart?
submitted by PlaytheBoard to KingkillerChronicle [link] [comments]

I Can Make You Hot!: The Supermodel Diet (by Kelly Killoren Bensimon) -- Part One

NOTE: Although I was originally planning on posting this whole review at once, I was about a third of the way through the book when I realized that I was already quickly approaching the full length of my previous posts. So, in the interest of making this a pleasant experience for us all, I'm sharing the first half now, and will follow up with the second half in a few days. And honestly, KKB's writing reminds me of Inception in that it's almost certainly hazardous to spend too much time immersed in any single sitting. So fasten your seatbelts, and enjoy the ride!
So, a lot of you guys have been asking about Kelly Killoren Bensimon's I Can Make You Hot! (wow, is this what it feels like to be an influencer?), and I am thrilled to report that my adventure through this book's 264 pages was even more confounding than I could have possibly anticipated. I have a feeling that I'll need every ounce of my strength if I want to have any shot at conveying to you all exactly how bonkers this purported self-help book is, so -- without further ado -- let's begin.
I Can Make You Hot!, subtitled The Supermodel Diet, has a fairly straightforward premise. Kelly, who "has done it all when it comes to nutrition and her body," will share her hard-earned wisdom with us, her humble readers. Or, as she says in her own words on the back cover:
In I Can Make You Hot! I'm going to clue you in to all the tricks I've learned from a variety of experts and that I now use to live my own life. I want you to be the best you -- happy, attractive, shapely, interested, interesting, and most of all, smokin' HOT!
The blurb promises that the experience of reading this book will be "like rooming with a supermodel and going on a diet together." Truly, only someone with Kelly Bensimon's tenuous grasp on reality would say this as if it were something exciting, rather than a scenario taken directly out of the third circle of hell.
But before we can truly learn what it means to be HOT!, we're treated to a foreword by none other than Russell Simmons. As he shares with us:
Kelly is a great mother and is constantly instilling strong principals [sic] in her daughters. In my opinion, that's the essence of being HOT. Kelly is smokin'.
And just like that, I Can Make You Hot! is knocked out of the running for First-Book-I've-Read-By-A-Bravolebrity-That-Is-Also-Free-From-Glaring-Typographical-Errors. Better luck next time, champ!
In case you were at all hesitant about Kelly's suitability for the job of helping the less fortunate among us reach their maximum potential, Russell clarifies:
Her beauty truly comes from within, and her clear internal compass and well-balanced lifestyle is what makes her an arbiter for what's hot. She has always had her own individual road map and is one of those people who beats to their own drum. Many are amazed by her leaps of faith and courage, which are products of her sustainable soul. And back to that energy! I used to think: If we could only package it. And now Kelly has!
I would kill to be a fly on the wall during a conversation between Russell Simmons and Kelly Bensimon. But all of these endorsements are making me impatient to dig into Kelly's advice, so I skim over the next few pages and arrive at the introduction: "What's HOT and What's Not." Almost immediately, Kelly reassures us that she was not always the gorgeous, talented socialite she is today -- "No. Let's just say that I was never one of those tiny, cute blonde girls who guys named their hamsters after." Excuse you what? I literally just walked away from my laptop to go talk to my boyfriend and make sure I'm not just ignorant of some otherwise well-known traditional male courtship ritual in which young men adopt rodents and christen them after the women they love. That doesn't seem to be the case, although please reach out if you can shed any additional light on this situation.
Reasonably enough, before we can learn how to be hot, we have to know what hot is. Fortunately, Kelly wastes no time in getting us up to speed:
When I was trying to come up with a title for this book, I kept asking myself how I would define what I love. "HOT" is the word that best describes what I love, and it's not a word I throw around lightly. "HOT" is attractive, unique, and first-rate -- never mediocre. Avril Lavigne made a video called "HOT." There are "HOT" issues of all my favorite magazines. was given that name to indicate that it was the best e-mail service, and, whose definitions are created by their readers, defines "hot" as (among other things) attractive, the best, and someone who makes you wish you had a pause button when they walk by because you don't want that moment to end. (I want you to feel like that "someone.") Health, wellness, and fitness are always hot topics. "HOT" may be a buzzword but it's also how I describe the best there is and the best you can be. I've used the words "smokin' hot" for everything from a killer chicken wing red sauce to a coveted couture gown.
There is…a lot to unpack here. My leading hypothesis is that Kelly must have accidentally exposed her internal circuitry to water and started shorting out while writing this passage, causing her to string together a rambling parade of incoherent sentences with no relationship to one another, save a tangential association with the amorphous concept of hotness. Also, it's factually inaccurate. A cursory Google search reveals that was not "given that name to indicate that it was the best e-mail service." Rather, the service's name was selected as a reference to the use of HTML to create webpages, as is more apparent from the original stylization, HoTMaiL. I know from her savvy allusion to "" that Kelly is capable of navigating the Internet, so I'm disappointed that she's made such a careless oversight within the first three pages of the book proper.
Kelly next takes us through a few scenes from her past to illustrate how she has come to understand the true meaning of "HOT." Here are just a few of the assorted pearls of wisdom that Kelly is gracious enough to share with us:
Is skinny hot? Naturally skinny is hot. Starving yourself in order to change your natural body type in order to get skinny is not hot.

For me, the ultimate HOT girl is the nineteenth-century Gibson girl.

…Bethany Hamilton, the young surfer who lost an arm in a shark attack and didn’t let it stop her from pursuing a sport she loves. She's smokin' HOT.

pregnancy is smokin' HOT
I'm distracted from my diligent note-taking by a line that truly makes me laugh out loud.
I don't want to pretend that I'm "just like you." To do that would be disingenuous, and you wouldn't believe me anyway. But I may be more like you than you think. My hair may be ready for Victoria's Secret, but my values are still Midwestern.
I appreciate the honesty! As I continue reading, I am pleased to learn that I am, in fact, already consuming this piece of literature in the appropriate way. As Kelly says:
I urge you to make notes as you go along, either in the book itself or, if writing in a book is anathema to you, in a little notebook to use as your own personal guide. Jotting down ideas as they pop into your head is the best way to process them and be sure that they don't leave again before you've had a chance to commit them to long-term memory. Then, if you've made a mistake, when you go back and see it there on paper, you'll remind yourself not to do it again. Or, as I like to say, you'll avoid getting bitten by the same food dog twice!
Bitten…by the same… Never change, KKB. (As an aside, what's the oveunder on Kelly having even the slightest idea what the word 'anathema' means?) If I'm being totally honest, this book is making me feel a little superfluous. What more can I add when the source material is so impenetrable to begin with? How does one parse the unparseable? Newly humbled, I suppose I'll have to be content with just gaping in confusion alongside the rest of you. And now that I think about it, what better book to build me up from these insecurities and encourage me to be my best? In the words of Kelly herself:
After all, why wouldn't you want to be HOT? What's the alternative? Being "not so hot"?
The book is organized into seven chapters, one for each day of the week, focusing on seven distinct facets of hotness. We start our journey on "Monday: Make a List -- Plan and Prepare!" and are immediately blessed with another one of Kelly's philosophical ramblings:
To me, living well is the only option. What, after all, is the only alternative? Living badly? Who aspires to live badly? I want you to live well, and that's going to take some planning.
Eager to improve myself, I read on:
What are your goals for yourself? If you're going to make changes in your life, you need to have a plan, you need to prepare, and you need to take the time to get it right -- so that you don't wind up wasting your time. This is my plan, and from now on it's going to be yours. Monday is going to be the day you make a HOT plan and prepare for the rest of your week. Let's get started together!
I can't help but feel like this is one of those answers that beauty pageant contestants give when they don't actually know how to respond to a question. Or like a motivational speech written by a rudimentary AI. I can't quite articulate exactly what it is that makes Kelly's writing seem so utterly devoid of logical coherence, but it truly falls into the literary equivalent of the Uncanny Valley.
Reminding us that "this isn't just about budgeting your food; it's about budgeting your life," Kelly peppers us with even more helpful tips -- "You don't want to be that person who is snacking while you're shopping. That's not hot -- period." and shares a stream-of-consciousness-style list of "Staples I keep in my house." Which may possibly be some kind of freeform postmodern poetry. Judge for yourself.
Kelly advises the reader to "get out your calendar or PDA" to get a sense of your schedule. "Then use your PDA to find the closest well-stocked market and go there. Making life easy for yourself is what it's all about." Now is as good a time as any to clarify that this book was published in 2012. I'd be lying if I said reading so many consecutive Housewives memoirs hasn't made my grasp on sanity a bit shaky, but I am fairly positive that 2012 was not a banner year for the Personal Digital Assistant.
Kelly has taken the time to pluck out a few particularly incisive pearls of wisdom throughout the book to highlight as "Kelly's Cardinal Rules." I would love to help clarify exactly what this one means, but I'm afraid I'm utterly clueless. One thing I do know for certain, however, as the chapter comes to a close, is that "human contact is HOT; texting is not!"
The week continues with "Tuesday: A Little Ohm and a Little Oh Yeah! -- It's All About Balance." It is imperative that you work out, says Kelly, adding, "I've never met a smokin' hot couch potato and I bet you haven't either." Her personal exercise routine, as she shares, combines aerobics and yoga "because life is all about balance." As she quips, "I'm sure even Gandhi cracked a smile from time to time." A panel titled "HOT Tip" admonishes the reader: "Don't call it working out because exercise shouldn't be work!"
If you'd like to spend a morning in the style of Kelly Bensimon, it's as easy as eating "a couple of oranges" and drinking coffee -- "I love coffee; I would probably marry coffee if it proposed." She also lets us in on some of her secret, highly advanced workout routines designed to maximize your time in the gym and propel you towards your full potential. Such as the "Happy Twenty," in which you run for 18 minutes and then do 2 minutes of squats.
We get further instruction on the hottest ways to run on the following page, where a two-page spread advertises "a few of my HOT tips for having a fun run." To ensure that you're able to start your journey to HOT as quickly as possible, I've taken the liberty of transcribing one of her most valuable nuggets below:
Run in the street instead of on the sidewalk. I took a lot of flack for this when they filmed me on Season 2 of the Real Housewives of New York City. The thing is, I think that people walking down the street while texting are a lot more dangerous than a car. Drivers will go out of their way to avoid you (accidents are too much paperwork, and they really mess up a day), but strolling texters will walk right into you without even seeing you. You could also get smacked by a shopping bag, a stroller, or even an oversized purse. Sidewalks are really obstacle courses. Beware!
Kelly shares some standout tracks from her workout playlist ("It's much more fun exercising to music!"), including the perennial pump-up-the-jam classic, "Skinny Love" by Bon Iver. With no regard for thematic continuity or overarching structure, the next page is dominated by the header "Get Leggier Legs."
An April 10, 2009, article about me in Harper's Bazaar captioned one of the photos "She's got legs." I was born blessed with long lean legs, but I work very hard to keep them looking the way they do. I'm tall, but I could just as easily have long, large legs. And long and large is not hot. Unfortunately I can't give you my legs. But I can help you to be the best you can be.
Truly inspirational. I think.
We continue on with Kelly's advice for "how to avoid the 'freshman fifteen," accompanied by a list of what she refers to as "Kelly rules." These run the gamut from near-sinister
Get rid of any negative thoughts. Negative-town isn't Fun-town.
to nonsensical
For every cheeseburger and fries, you owe me 12 cartwheels on the quad with your friends.
to bizarrely specific and also racially insensitive.
If you starve yourself for a day because you want to lose weight for Homecoming, you owe me 5 minutes of sitting Indian style in a corner and meditating on why you thought that was a good option.
Upon further reflection, I think I would actually be extremely motivated to stick to a diet if the alternative was being reprimanded by Kelly and forced to think about my poor life choices.
As a scientist myself, I was ecstatic to see that Kelly has drawn from a diverse array of scientific disciplines to develop her HOT tips and tricks. Physics, for example:
From Isaac Newton's First Law of Motion
A body in motion stays in motion. The velocity of a body remains constant unless the body is acted upon by an external force. So if you want to step up your exercise routine, try running in sand instead of on the pavement, or bike through gravel. That way your body will have to work harder in order to stay in motion.
Even biology has something to teach us about how to be HOT:
You are a living organism; life is an organic process. You need to be up and active, ready to enjoy the process. Be open and available and ready to do fun stuff. Participating in what you love is HOT.
I'm truly impressed by Kelly Bensimon's unparalleled ability to reframe the most basic common sense as divinely inspired wisdom. We see this in lines like
If you're feeling a bit frazzled and you need to calm down, you might want to take a yoga class.
or, as we read in another "HOT Tip" panel
Don't be afraid to drink water while working out.
I refuse to believe that this is a problem any person has ever faced. Even Aviva Drescher is not afraid of drinking water while working out (although, for the record, she is afraid of aluminum foil). Kelly closes out this chapter by encouraging the reader to "do one thing every day that takes you out of your comfort zone." If you find yourself lacking inspiration, she provides helpful suggestions, such as "try a fruit you've never eaten" and "try tap dancing." As she asserts, "there's nothing more foolish than sitting on your butt when you could be moving your body and having fun."
I turn the page, and the clock rolls over to Wednesday -- "Diet = 'DIE with a T.'" Cute. I bet Kelly would find that Tumblr post that's like "she believed" to be unbearably clever. She wastes no time in letting us know:
I don't believe in diets; diets are for people who want to get skinny. I want you to be happy. If you feel good about yourself, you'll make good choices. If you starve yourself to be skinny, you'll be undermining your sense of self-worth and you'll be unhappy every day. Eating well -- a variety of high-quality, fresh, unprocessed foods -- is for people who want to be happy -- and if you're not happy you won't be hot! Happy is always better than skinny.
This is starting to feel like some sort of word problem from Algebra II. If happy is better than skinny, but hot is equal to happy, diet = die + t??? Kelly tells us that all women fall into two categories: overachievers and underachievers. Being an overachiever is good, and being an underachiever is bad. Here are some things you can do to become an overachiever:
Make good choices.

When in doubt, have fun.

Keep smiling.
Kelly's motivational-phrasebook app apparently starts to glitch out right about here, but she continues on:
Stay positive and move forward. This is your last try at today. Yesterday may not have been great, but, today is better -- you just need to see it that way. The choice is up to you.
The idea of someone being in such a dark psychological place that they are able to find inspiration in those words is so deeply sad to me that I can hardly bear to consider it. Thankfully, Kelly has already taken a hard left turn into what I think is some sort of extended metaphor:
I've already said that you need to treat your body like a Ferrari, but maybe you prefer a Maserati, an Aston Martin, a Corvette, or even a Bentley. Whatever your luxury car of choice, if you treat it well, it will increase in value; if you treat it like a bargain rental car, it's just going to wear out -- and being worn out is not hot!
Ah, yes, I'd momentarily forgotten that cars almost always increase in value after they're purchased, and don't have a culturally ubiquitous reputation for losing most of their resale value immediately. Solid analogy. Apropos of nothing, we get a "HOT Tip" list of "model diet secrets that DON'T work." I'm extremely glad that Kelly encouraged us to take notes while reading -- I'd be devastated if any of these pointers had escaped my attention.
Eating Kleenex to make yourself feel full does not work.

The Graham cracker diet does not work.

Drugs do not work.
Well, I suppose this clears up some Scary Island confusion. Had Kelly indeed been doing meth (as the reported cat-pee smell might suggest), she would be fully aware that many drugs are, in fact, extremely effective ways to lose weight. But lest you start to lose faith in the expertise of our fearless leader, read on: "when it comes to food choices, I've probably made every mistake in the book." By which she means that she ate Chinese chicken soup before giving birth to her first daughter and it made her sick, so she ate a turkey sandwich before giving birth to her second daughter and she didn’t get sick. To be perfectly honest, I'm struggling to find a way to apply this wisdom to my own life, but I'm sure it will become clear in no time!
Kelly is relatable for the first time so far in the following passage:
When I was accused of being a "bitch" on national television, I was really upset. My response was to find comfort in Mexican food and margaritas for lunch and dinner three days straight.
But we promptly return to form on the next page as she recounts her daily diet of "2 green juices," "a KKBfit lunch," and "a KKBfit dinner." I'd like to take a moment to appreciate how generous it is of Kelly to share her wisdom -- earned through a lifetime of catastrophic missteps -- so freely. It certainly didn’t come without a cost, as the following anecdote illustrates:
On the last day of my juice fast, I took my older daughter to a Yankees game where we gorged on sushi. (Yes, they have sushi at Yankee Stadium) As a result, I was stuffed and blinded by carbs when A-Rod came up to bat and hit a home run. Was I able to savor that A-Rod moment with my daughter? Absolutely not. I was in a food coma. Will I ever let myself be thrown into a food frenzy again? No! Lesson learned: I made another stupid food choice, and because of that choice I missed that home run moment with my daughter. From now on, when I go to a Yankees game I'll have a small hot dog instead….I want you to do the same.
Verily! Heed her words of wisdom, lest ye not also lose the precious chance for thine own A-Rod moment.
But don’t think this caution means that you have to get caught up in the minutia of your day-to-day. On the contrary, appropriate planning means "you can stop obsessing about your carrot intake and concentrate on what it is that's going to make you a great person in life." To help illustrate this point, Kelly introduces us to the "Kelly pie." Otherwise known as a pie chart. This is a helpful way to really visualize how much time you'll have now that you can cut that pesky carrot-pondering out of your day! Kelly even offers some thoughtful "hints" to divide your pie:
  1. Celebrate your own health. We take health for granted.
  2. Get up in the morning and say, "I'm so grateful to be where I am and look the way I do," no matter what your size is.
  3. Tell yourself you look HOT, because you do.
  4. Believe in your ability to make good choices today and every day.
  5. Be mindful of what you eat. If I have to be mindful of what I eat, so do you. We're in this together.
Ooh, sorry Brad, I won't be able to make it to this afternoon's meeting -- it actually conflicts with my daily session of believing in my ability to make good choices today and every day. No, I understand how that could seem like an abstract sentiment rather than something that actually takes up time within your daily schedule, but if Kelly has to do it, so do I! And to be honest, my day is packed enough as it is -- it takes at least a second or two for me to tell myself I look HOT (because I do!), and I'm just worried that if I try to squeeze anything else in, it will cut into my mid-morning health celebration. Wish I could help!
In a strangely threatening aside, Kelly commands: "Write down what you ate for the last two days. Don't lie. We can start fresh tomorrow, one bite at a time."
In a section titled, "What I Eat Every Day," Kelly enumerates her "three go-to breakfasts": "two oranges or a plate of mixed berries if I'm not going to be very active, all-bran cereal or some other high-fiber cereal with almond milk or unsweetened coconut milk if I'm going on a long run, riding, or doing something else that requires extra energy, and on weekends, I love making pancakes to eat with my girls." As should be apparent, this is far more than three breakfasts. I am irrationally angry, in the same way I was when a Bachelor contestant said their favorite food was a charcuterie platter. That's cheating. (And yes, I do strongly identify with my Virgo moon, thanks for asking.)
Kelly inexplicably (apologies if I've used that word for the zillionth time already) tells us that "a plastic cup that says 'Forced Family Fun' from makes the smoothie go down with a giggle." Also, "sitting alone in front of the TV eating ice cream is not hot!" We are then introduced to one of Kelly's more advanced strategies, which she calls "Energy Economics." This means that you might need to eat more on days when you are busy and/or exercising, and less on days when you're relaxing. So many innovative ideas, this book has really packed a punch for its < $5 price tag!
Another ingenious idea? "Stuff cabbage, sweet peppers, tomatoes, or even onions with ground meat, chicken or turkey seasoned with salt and pepper. Bake until the meat is cooked through and the vegetable is softened." Granted, I have been a pescatarian for almost a decade at this point. But disemboweling an onion, jamming it full of hamburger meat, and cooking it for some indeterminate amount of time at an unspecified temperature seems…wrong.
Circling back to her theory of Energy Economics, Kelly explains,
If I don't eat [well], I'm violating my own laws of energy economics and my body goes either into inflation mode (too much energy when I don't need it) or recession mode (not enough energy in the bank for me to draw from). The key is to create economic equilibrium: eating well so that I feel good, which allows me to be happy.
I am begging someone to start a GoFundMe where we raise money to pay Kelly to explain how the economy works. The next page introduces us to "The KKB 3-Day Supermodel Diet," which is less of a diet and more a random assortment of miscellaneous health-related sentiments that reek of the 2009 pro-ana tumblrsphere:
Chew your food 8 times instead of 3 or 4.

Brush your teeth and chew mint gum as soon as you finished eating. When your mouth is fresh and minty, you'll be less tempted to eat again.
The final tip ("nurture yourself") includes a reminder to "blush your checks [sic]." Which may be a typo, but could also very well just be some strange Kelly saying that no one else has ever used in the history of the English language. On the next page, we're introduced to "Kelly's Food Plate." Which other, less sophisticated people typically refer to as the food pyramid. Kelly also takes a brief aside (in a feature box labeled "hot button issue") to expound upon her favorite delicacy, the humble jelly bean:
If you're a fan of the Real Housewives of New York City you probably remember that on Season 3 I took a lot of flack for eating jelly beans and talking about processed and unprocessed foods. I was actually making light of that food snob moment. Who stops at a gas station and asks for carrots? Did you bring your organic food cooler with you on this road trip? The important part is not to be a food snob; but when in doubt choose the best option. Sometimes it's better to be happy than it is to be right. Was I able to make my point? Clearly it wasn’t in the cards at that moment.
This is a truly stunning synthesis of her experience. Underestimate Kelly at your own peril -- this girl has been playing 4D chess for longer than we know.
The chapter continues with some tips from Kelly on how to make the most of your meal planning and shopping experience. And no -- you have no excuses:
There's absolutely no reason why you, wherever you live, can't eat "colorful" foods. All over the country there are "gi-normous" supermarkets where fruit and vegetable aisles are bursting with every color of the rainbow.
I am starting to get a "gi-normous" headache trying to make sense of this chaos. Kelly's advice that we can "mix and match what's there to make a FrenAsian or an ItaloGreek meal" is not helping. We also get some tips for how to grocery shop responsibly:
  1. Always go with a list and never buy more than two items you planned on taking home.
This is incoherent, right? I know I need to wrap up Part 1 of this write-up pretty soon, because I've read this sentence at least two dozen times trying to make some sense of it, and am still at an utter loss. I assume she's left out a negative somewhere, but at this point, I realize I've already thought about this tip for approximately ten times longer than Kelly ever has, so I'll move on.
For the third or fourth time so far this book, Kelly segues into a literal grocery list. To be fair, this is a very effective strategy to take up several pages with minimal text. And what could be more compelling than
Shitake/oyster mushroom combination packs

Dog treats

Lavender pepper
Truly the voice of a generation! Decades from now, English teachers will be teaching their students about a fabled wordsmith who once uttered those eternal words, "shitake/oyster mushroom combination packs." Because this book has absolutely no respect for logical cohesion, we are hurled immediately into a diatribe about how expensive it can be to buy organic -- "I recently walked out of an organic market having paid $400 for just three bags of groceries." As I read on, however, it becomes quickly apparent that Kelly has no idea what the concept of 'organic' even means:
"Organic," in any case, seems like something of a misnomer to me. I know the Food and Drug Administration has regulations for certifying foods organic, but to me, for foods to be truly and totally organic, they would have to be grown in a test tube or a greenhouse with no exposure to the natural elements.
Well, sure Kelly. If that's what you would like to use the word "organic" to mean, be my guest. She tosses us another crumb of helpful guidance, but it only serves to make me feel exceptionally sorry for Kelly's daughters and everything they have to endure:
Plate your food as if it were being served to you in a fine restaurant. Use a fancy foreign accent as you invite everyone to come to the table. Or try saying it in French. My girls love it when I announce, "Le dîner est servi!"
We learn in yet another "HOT tip" that "fast food doesn't have to be fat food," and Kelly tells us for the eighth time that she eats two oranges every morning. In what has already become a recurring theme for me in this book, the following passage makes me desperately curious to know how Kelly thinks science works:
One question people frequently ask me is whether I believe in taking vitamins or supplements, and the answer is "yes, I do," because, even though I know my diet is healthy, I can't be sure that I'm getting all the nutrients I need. All the vitamins and minerals we need can be found naturally in foods, but how do we know, even if we're eating a healthy diet, that we're getting everything we need?
I flip back two pages to confirm that Kelly told us quite recently how important it is to read nutrition labels to know what is in the food we eat (to make sure we avoid foods "whose labels are full of words you can't pronounce"). Exactly how she is reading these nutrition labels yet still manages to have no inkling how anyone could possibly begin to assess their vitamin and mineral intake eludes me. She continues:
I don't want to take that chance. I think of the food I eat as fuel and vitamins as my oil -- my body's engine needs both. Vitamins and supplements are not food replacements, but we're exposed to so many environmental toxins on a daily basis that I believe we need to supplement our diets to counteract all the harm those substances can cause.
I can certainly think of something that is causing harm to my psychological stability at this particular moment, which I should probably take as a sign to wrap things up for today and go read some incredibly dense Victorian prose or something to remind myself what a properly constructed sentence looks like. Promise I won't leave you waiting for long!!
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Unleashed pt. 21

Another chapter from u/eruwenn and myself.
First / Prev / Next
Aaron couldn’t help but be a little underwhelmed by the star port. When he had been told about a large space station that served as a central hub for the entire system he was expecting some bizarre bazaar of goods from every corner of the galaxy. What he found was a joyless jumble of bulk traders, hauliers offices and bars. This wasn’t the Azrimad with its prestigious shops and expensive cafes; this was a place for work. As they walked further along, the occasional gambling house or unique vendor would crop up, and Aaron spotted a couple of places that might be worth a second look. An Arkellian souvenir shop looked the most interesting thus far. They had various ceremonial outfits and cultural items from throughout their history, and he thought he could find a fun gift for Alexa there.
A few people paid attention to the pair in the Gal. Fed. uniforms, but not many noticed Aaron. Without Sassie he was just another biped, a less common colour but hardly remarkable. On board the Azrimad he'd become accustomed to the constant glances. It was nice to blend in, and he was enjoying the anonymity.
The high-pitched scream caused the whole thoroughfare to fall silent. Aaron spun around and saw a young Arkellian girl in oversized overalls pointing at him. “It’s really you!” she exclaimed; people were staring and Aaron was definitely being noticed now. The young girl grabbed the front of her overalls and tore them open to reveal a pale blue Cupcake Coalition t-shirt. “The first human. You’re him right?” She walked forward excitedly while clutching her hands to her chest, eyes wide.
The crowd, realising this wasn’t going to turn into street theatre, quickly lost interest and the background chatter returned. Aaron let out a short laugh of relief and waved. “Hi there. Nice shirt.”
Clak’Soon took his hand from his sidearm and Ha’Mon stepped out from behind the J’Rami. He was about to speak when the young Arkellian began gushing. “I couldn’t go to the march but I watched from my dad’s hauler. Where’s Sassie? I buy cupcakes every cycle and I have three t-shirts and a hat. My dad says I can get a Sassie onesie if I do well at school! Where is Alexa? Did you invent cupcakes? I watch all your videos, I subscribed when you only had four videos, and only three thousand followers. I decided to make my own channel too, and so far I've made six videos and gained twelve followers. Oh, oh, oh!” She was dancing from foot to foot. “Will you be on my channel? Please!”
She’d spoken quickly and even though she’d stopped it still took a moment for them to process everything she’d said. Clak’Soon and Ha’mon both looked to Aaron – his fan, his problem. Aaron took a knee, bringing himself down to the girl’s eyeline. “First, please don’t eat a cupcake everyday. They’re treats, so space them out. Sassie and Alexa are packing up our belongings because we’re going on an adventure.” He paused as he tried to remember everything she’d said. “Oh, I didn’t invent cupcakes, just adapted a recipe from home. But,” -he leaned forward a little and whispered- “we managed to make safe chocolate chips, mostly.” As he said this next word he spread his hands like he was creating a rainbow in front of his face. “Cookies.”
“OOooooooooh!” Her little dance became even more energetic, then she stopped as a puzzled look appeared on her face. “What’s a cookie?”
Aaron’s laughter rang out and he stood up. “Don’t worry, they’re being approved in the next day or so. Do you have your camera?”
“No.” She looked at her feet, and with sadness in her voice and the beginnings of tears in her eyes as if remembering some great trauma, she replied, “I’m not allowed to take it off the shuttle, after I lost my first one.”
Aaron saw that she was getting upset and tried to make her feel more at ease. “Don’t worry about it, I lose stuff all the time. I lost my whole planet!”
Her head lifted with a bright smile and she laughed. “I can run and ask my big sister to borrow hers.”
Aaron was pleased he had cheered her up, but the constant shuffling of his companions reminded him they had somewhere to be. “We have an important meeting to get to. If you see us later we can do it then, ok?” She nodded. “What’s your name?”
She paused and in a conflicted tone replied, “Dad says, I’m not supposed to tell strangers.” Realisation struck her and, once again, her smile vanished. ”Dad says, I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”
Attempting to head off another emotional roller coaster, Ha’Mon was quick on the rescue. “How about you bring your big sister? Then we can introduce ourselves and not be strangers.”
It took a moment for her to think it through, then her face once more erupted in a smile and her excited dance started again. “I’ll go ask her.” She didn’t even wait for a reply before she dashed off into the crowd.
A large hairy J’Rami hand pulled Aaron upwards. “We’re late.”
The shops they passed were now a blur. They had to increase their pace to a brisk walk, and as a result had to focus on not bumping into people as they hurried along. The Engineer’s Pit was hard to miss. Who needs a sign with a smell so pervasively unique? It was a scent with layers. Beyond the sweat, vomit and stale drink he caught the faint aroma of wet fur, grease and smoke. Aaron caught a brief glimpse of the frontage before they turned off down the Junak Arm, and the descriptor 'dunghole' seemed to be generous. He had no doubt that the floor within would be sticky with substances he didn't want to imagine.
The arm that extended away from the Pit was clearly a recent addition, cleaner and brighter although still not a patch on the Azrimad. There were less stores, and no cafes or bars, simply a multitude of offices and what looked like warehouses attached to docking ports. Xii’Nok Wholesalers was just along from Xii’Nok Industries, and a little farther they passed Xii’Nok Construction. Finally they reached Xii’Nok’s Used Ships.
An Arkellian in a smart, white suit was standing out front. He looked agitated, but as they drew closer his smile brightened and he rushed forward. “Ambassador Cooper!” He regarded the others, noting that neither was an officer. “And his loyal Galactic Federation assistants. Welcome, welcome, welcome. I am Lek Xii’Nok, please call me Lek, I’m sure we’re going to be great friends.” His handshake became a guiding arm on Aaron’s shoulder as he led him swiftly inside, leaving the others to trail behind.
Aaron looked helplessly back over his shoulder as he was corralled into a seat. “Nice to meet you, Lek. Please call me Aaron.”
Lek bowed deeply. “Thank you, Ambassador Aaron.” He stood and quickly clapped twice; the lights dimmed and a soft spotlight fell on Lek, while relaxing music began playing from hidden speakers. “I understand you are here for an extra-system ship. A first contact in my home system that wants to venture forth. It's a beautiful moment for our two species.” He seemed to choke up momentarily. “That you would choose my shipyard to find your vessel, your new home amongst the stars. I am honoured.” Another bow, and this time he raised his head to give Ha’Mon and Clak’Soon an irritated glance as they found their seats either side of the human.
This was not exactly what Aaron had expected. It seemed more than a little theatrical for a simple sales pitch. “So...” He cleared his throat. “As we mentioned in our call, we don’t have much time. I’d like to see the ships as quickly as possible.”
“Absolutely,” He quickly pulled a controller from his pocket and began clicking buttons. A large holo-display appeared in front of them with Lek’s face appearing as a logo, glowing brightly and smiling at them. “I always admire those with a decisive disposition. I have seen the footage and know that you are a man of action as well. Here I have selected an exceptional ship.” He clicked a button, with a flourish, and the hologram head became a large sleek ship. “This is a vessel befitting an Ambassador-”
“Bollocks!” Clak’Soon yelled out, “The Keflox series are all looks and no oomph!”
Ha’Mon was mortified by Clak’Soon’s rudeness but he had to agree. “It is true Aaron, and the repair costs are excessive due to their abundance of non-standard parts.”
Lek’s mouth opened and shut as he tried to recover his composure. Before he could, the human spoke. “Next.”
“Yes. Of course.” Lek fumbled, recovered, and performed another overly flamboyant click. The ship dissolved to be replaced by a smaller, more rounded ship. “This is-”
“Bah!” Clak’Soon called out immediately. “Kasurian? No offence Ha’Mon, old pal. You guys make some fast racers, but the human can’t go around in a Kasurian ship. Do you know how often people try to kill him?”
Lek blinked, looking from Clak'Soon to Aaron to Ha'Mon. Before he could say a word, the Kasurian spoke up instead. “It’s true. Half the people he meets try to kill him.”
Aaron, slightly offended, quickly turned defensive. “I wouldn’t say half.”
The large J’Rami stood and took the controller from Lek’s hand. “Let’s see if you have anything good.” He began clicking and ships, shuttles and tankers started whizzing past, the security officer oblivious to the outrage on Lek’s face.
Ha’Mon jumped up and joined his friend. “I have it narrowed down already. He has all the ships listed on his portal. Stop clicking so fast!”
Clak'Soon and Ha'Mon spoke in rapidfire shorthand, something they had clearly developed over a long friendship. Aaron couldn't follow a word of it, and instead watched the small Kasurian engineer. He darted this way and that, repeatedly trying – and failing – to obtain the controller.
Lekfinally stood still, admitting defeat. He was clearly not happy that his slick presentation was ruined, and after a moment's contemplation more he rushed out of the room. “Somebody help! Security!”
Aaron watched him leave, and a moment of worry passed over him as quickly as the ships flashed past his eyes. If they could find a ship he was fairly certain the salesman would forget about any inconvenience they had caused. The barrage of images slowed to a halt, revealing only three ships on display. Aaron stood and walked towards them, pointing out. "You know, you could have just asked him." Clak'Soon shrugged, but at least Ha'Mon had the decency to look ashamed. "So... what are my options?"
The J’Rami and Kasurian looked at each other, then came to an unspoken agreement. Ha’Mon began. “Not good. If you were looking to haul cargo, then you’d have a better selection.”
The human shook his head. “I don’t need something that big.”
“Well not much else makes it this far out,” Ha’Mon continued. “We do have three that might work.” He pointed to the first ship and Aaron could tell it was Fae’Dan. Such a predictable style. “This is a Calarel series, functional and reliable. Your crystal life will be good, but in system you’re going to be pretty defenseless if you get into a fight-”
“If? Hah!” Clak’Soon interrupted. “The only thing it’s good for in a fight is a swift surrender. No good for a human.”
Aaron wanted to argue, but his track record was decisively against him. “Ok, that’s fair. But, fighting isn’t really the plan, remember?”
Ha’Mon looked at Aaron seriously. “My people call you Lefu’Yendra. You know what that means?”
Aaron was well aware, as he'd asked Agent Fenink about it. “Walking Death. Or, so I’ve been told.”
Ha’Mon nodded, fixing the human with a fierce stare. When he spoke, it was cautious, hushed, as if he were reciting from a holy text. “It is more than just a name. Where you walk, Death is summoned. Like the Leokas, the great servant of Death, it is drawn to you. Others will cross your path, some as friend and some as foe. You will never know peace.”
Aaron wasn’t superstitious, but the Kasurian’s intense glare was a little disconcerting. The dim lighting and strange background music wasn’t helping, and for a moment he was caught in the spell. Luckily, Clak’Soon was there to shatter it. “Stop being weird Hammy. Next ship.”
Ha’Mon snapped out of it and immediately returned to his presentation. “So our next option is Clak’Soon’s choice. Honestly, I have no idea how Lek got his hands on this. It’s a Rinoxian hazardous materials transport.”
Eyebrows raised, Aaron looked at the space Volvo. “Alright, you got my attention.”
Hooting excitedly, Clak'Soon took over. “Blast proof -”
“From the inside.” Ha’Mon said quietly.
“- Industrial, max grade, atmospheric scrubbers -” Clak’Soon wasn’t deterred.
“That sometimes removes the oxygen as well.”
“- Emergency cargo hold separation -”
“Which has a zero point five percent chance of auto-activating due to faulty sensors, jettisoning your cargo into space. Rinoxians aren’t known for reliability.”
“Hey!” Clak’Soon, growing louder, had had enough. “You don’t like it? The human can fly this thing straight through another ship and he’ll probably be fine!”
Ha’Mon yelled back, “You could never get close enough to ram another ship, those things are slower than… than… Slo!”
“STOP!” The human silenced them both instantly. “I get it. Tough, but slow, and it might break or kill us. Let’s see what’s behind door number three.”
They gave him a puzzled look before dismissing it as a human thing. Ha’Mon moved to stand beside the third option. “This is a Niham design, a basic hauler, but it does have a good size hold and space for four shuttles on board. It’s an Argo class, ten crew cabins and the captain’s quarters, a bit smaller than the others.” Ha’Mon stopped talking, the human was standing transfixed, looking at the Niham ship with a smile.
Aaron rubbed his hands together. “You had me at Argo.”
Clak’Soon gave him a puzzled look. “You’re a fan of farm animals?”
The J’Rami explained, “Argo is an animal on Niham, the meat is very versatile. Like the ship.”
Understanding dawning, of course it wasn’t an epic greek reference, the ship was basically a space pig. “Ahh. On my world Argo means something else.” He stood and waited, but they didn’t say anything more. “I’m waiting for the downside. What’s wrong with it?”
Clak’Soon shrugged, and with his large shoulders it was an impressive feat. “They’re boring.”
Ha’Mon’s head bobbed from side to side as he sort of agreed and disagreed. “They aren’t boring, they’re average. This one isn’t currently working; a few parts need replacing and there’s some damage to repair. It’s salvage. Raiders killed the crew and someone brought it in and sold it to Lek. Money gets split between the families of the survivors and the salvage crew. It’s already been cleaned, so no blood at least.” He gave a little shudder. “A couple of cycles and a good team, it’ll be fine.”
A little annoyance tinged the human’s reply. “I don’t have a bicycle.”
The J’Rami let Aaron’s strange phrasing slide over him and applied his superior logic. “Use a bigger crew.”
The Kasurian engineer looked furious, opened his mouth to argue, and then stopped. “That might work, actually. There are always engineers and ship hands hanging around these places, waiting for someone to take them on. But we still need parts, and somewhere to work.”
Aaron clapped his hands together, startling the others. “It’s a plan. Let’s find Lek; he should be back soon with security. He has to know someone who sells parts.”
They walked outside to find Lek leaning against the wall. “Made your decision then?”
Aaron looked around. “No security?”
Lek laughed. “Tulseria’s balls, no. I’ve dealt with their kind before.” He gestured to the Gal. Fed. duo. “Know every ship inside and out, and have strong opinions on all of them. Bah, I have no chance. All they’ll do is criticise my choices to prove they know more than me.”
Aaron gave a single nod of agreement. “We’ve chosen a ship.”
“Of course you have! I said you were decisive, didn’t I?” Lek stood up straight and with a cheerful voice asked, “Which one? I’ll bet it’s the Rinoxian ship, hard to find one like that. You can keep those Inorganics in the secure hold. If they try anything funny” -he made a gesture with his hands indicating separation- “just shoot them into space and protect the real people.”
Aaron's smile stayed in place but his eyes grew cold as he replied, “It’s the Argo.”
Lek was a savvy businessman and could read people well. Something had changed in the human, and it was not a pleasant change. “Fine ship, good choice. You are aware it needs some repair work? I have it docked on a lower arm awaiting repairs. If you give me three cycles I’ll have it in a condition worthy of an Ambassador, four if you want any big alterations. Once we have the details finalised I can work on a price. Of course, as the ship was salvaged, you will need to register it again.”
Aaron shook his head. “I don’t have that kind of time. Give me a price now, as it sits. I’ll hire my own repair team and buy the parts myself to speed things up.”
Momentarily flummoxed, Lek was quick to rebound. “I have already hired a crew, they won’t be happy to lose out on three cycles of work.”
A large J’Rami shadow fell across Lek. “Humans can be very persuasive.”
Lek swallowed hard, recalling the video feed of the incident on Arkellis. “Fine. I was planning on selling that ship, once repaired, for over a million credits.”
Clak’Soon scoffed. “You can buy a new one for that much!”
With a smile Lek countered, “Maybe on Niham, but this is the fringe, my friend.”
Aaron let out a long sigh. “Look. I don’t have time for this. How about we do the short version? I counter with half that, as the thing’s busted and I’m paying to fix it. You say nine hundred thousand because you’re an asshole, and I say six because I’m a bigger asshole. I say, I won’t pay over seven hundred. You’re trying to squeeze me so you’re going to say eight hundred, probably adding ‘it’s only this cheap because you like me’ or some other utter shite.”
Lek was growing to like the human, he was exciting. “So we will both settle at seven hundred and fifty thousand credits. Yes?”
“No.” Aaron leaned in close. “Remember, I’m the bigger asshole. Seven hundred, because I’m going to register this ship as an Earth vessel. Same as the K7. No sales tax or fees. Special Ambassador discount.”
The Arkellian’s mind buzzed with possibilities. Was this legal? Probably not. Would anyone ask? Probably not. He always looked into new clients, especially those planning to spend a great deal. From what he’d seen and heard regarding the human, he was a walking loophole. Registration fees and sales tax could be anywhere from ten to thirty percent, depending on the world, and that’s if they even accepted your application. “Done.”
Ha’Mon elbowed Aaron in the hip. “We also need the use of his repair station.”
Aaron cracked his knuckles. “I’ll pay you twenty thousand credits for one cycle at the repair station. I’ll cover parts you supply, at cost plus five percent, and I’ll add five percent to the price if you help us get it done by morning.”
Negotiations were a reflex for Lek, and he barely skipped a beat. “Ten percent on both.”
The Arkellian salesman began walking them back down the arm. “Your ship is at the repair station on the Himbak Arm. Drones, lifters, everything is there along with the team I hired. Dismiss them or hire them, it’s your problem now. You need more, try the Engineer’s Pit. I’d tell most people to avoid it but...” He looked at Aaron and then Clak’Soon, and an unpleasant grin spread across his face. “Some of them deserve your kind’s attention.”
Clak’Soon laughed, still proud that Aaron was descended from an ape-like species in a similar way to himself. “No one will mess with the primates!”
The human slapped the large J’Rami on the back. It was nice that he thought of him as one of his own. “Apes together strong.” He was going along with things right now, but he wasn’t a tool to be pointed at people Lek didn’t like. He was still harboring a grudge that the Arkellian had said Alexa wasn’t a real person. “Alright, that’s workers. What about parts?”
The Arkellian looked genuinely angry, furious even. “Go see that miserly Doytaran, Essad Hoy, two decks down from the repair station and a quarter turn spinward. The crew I hired are preparing a list of what they will need.”
The thinly-veiled hostility intrigued Aaron. “Something I should know?”
Lek looked uncomfortable and avoided Aaron’s gaze. “Business disputes, and some personal grievances, ha. I’m a businessman and I look out for my interests. He doesn’t like that. Let’s get the paperwork out of the way; tiks are credits, as they say.”
With a hefty bonus on the line the paperwork was processed remarkably quickly, helped along by the lack of requirements from the planet of registration. There was a lot more documentation for the extra-system ship, more regulations and protocols to be observed. Aaron hadn’t realised that he would get to rename the ship. Shuttles weren’t named but the larger ships were. He realised it made sense, as you had to distinguish between ships of the same class. The planet you registered with usually had naming rules, or a process to automatically assign a designation.
Aaron marched from Lek’s office, a man on a mission, head held high and mind racing with the task ahead. Ha’Mon had to scamper to keep up and even Clak’Soon with his long legs was breathing heavily from the pace. The human came to a sudden halt before the Engineer’s Pit and turned to the others. He tapped his ear piece, wanting Slo to hear this as well. Once he had confirmed the Jaimsmae was listening he began. “First, I want to thank you guys for coming to help me choose a ship. It was a huge help. As far as I’m concerned, you’ve done me a big favour already. You never agreed to this next part. So, right here, I’m giving you the chance to walk away, no hard feelings. ”
A large hand covered in orange fur rested on Aaron’s shoulder, and a large face with a toothy grin looked down at him. “You know nothing about ships. You need us. Anyway, this is the most fun I’ve had since I joined the security team. Shuttle bay guard is not as exciting as it sounds, you know? I’m with you.”
Ha’Mon looked less enthusiastic but just as determined. “We’ll get your ship ready if I have to do the repairs myself.” Aaron delivered a gentle punch to the Kasurian’s shoulder.
They all waited for Slo’s answer. “So you found a ship?”
“He’s in.” Clak’soon slapped his hands together as he had seen the human do. It was surprisingly satisfying, he decided as he turned to Aaron. “Time to do things your way.”
With a look of mild confusion Ha’Mon asked, “What is the human way?”
Aaron gave a broad grin. “It’s like the wrong way, but faster.” With that he leaned back, raised his right leg and kicked open the double doors to the Engineer’s Pit.
submitted by Sooperdude24 to HFY [link] [comments]

I made a new Clash Royale account to PROVE that ladder bots exist... here are my findings :)


Sup bois, my name's Bailey and today I'm going to PROVE to you that bots exist in Clash Royale's ladder system! Just before we get into the content today, I just wanna plug the YouTube video I made on this topic. It's a nicely edited version of this post for those of you who enjoy watching rather than reading, and I'd appreciate the support! Otherwise, be sure to enjoy the read! Now, bots have been theorised in Clash Royale for about a year. Boss did a video on his YouTube showing that he faced two very similar players, and guessed that they were illegitimate. But outside of Boss' video, nobody has really discussed this topic, and there definitely hasn't been PROOF that bots exist. So, I went and started a brand new Clash Royale account on stream and played a total of 91 games, facing 32 bots in the process... That gave me a total of 35% of games being a bot player, which is sort of insane. IN THIS POST I will give 100% proof that bot players exist. Twitch streamer 'MathologistBrad' showed me a profile API that can PROVE any account to be a bot, but let's talk a bit more about Boss' video first...

The Boss Video:

I mentioned Boss' video just now, so I wanted to give ample credit to what he found almost a year ago now. He faced two players by the names of Rian and Gato. In his video, he pointed out that these two players have a one-word name, no clan, a random but similar amount of donations, and a complete noob arena 1 deck. Now, let's think about this. Each player has a one-word name, which already isn't likely in Clash Royale. When you sign up to Clash, you're probably not just gonna put your real name in that username box. I, for example, picked an edgy name that incorporated my surname. Boss, also, doesn't use his real name. Heck, Clash with ASH isn't even called Ash. I bet a couple of you reading this do use your real name, but it's fairly unlikely that a real person just enters their first name and uses that. Both of these bots were running identical decks, as well, using only cards that are unlocked in arena 1. This is super suspicious as most players will switch up their deck as soon as they unlock cool new cards, especially as you would have a legendary at the point in the game where Boss found them. Both players ALSO had donations with no current clan. You may think they've just left their clan, but I will prove otherwise later in this post...

Bot Profiles:

Before we take a look at the behaviour of bots in battle, let's talk about how we can recognise a bot right after we face them - on their profile. As I mentioned earlier, I faced a total of 32 bots in just 91 games of Clash Royale. It is important to note that there are NO bots above the 4000 trophy mark, this is where the game is 100% legitimate players. From these 32 bots, 100% of them had a single named profile. 100% of them had a player tag that started with either a Q or an L. 100% of them were NOT in a clan. 100% of them have some random amount of donations that is above 0. These are all things Boss looked at in his video, but I found a little bit more on the profiles than just that. 63% of bots are within two games of a new arena, and almost 80% of bots are within THREE games of a new arena. We'll theorise more on that later, but I think this is to do with Supercell wanting new players to reach new arenas more easily so they can feel achievement whenever they play the game. 100% of bots over level 7 have no cards in their deck two levels higher than their king tower - meaning a level 7 bot will never have a level 9 card, and so forth. So those are all quite obvious things, but let's take a look at RoyaleAPI. 100% of the bots I faced had either dropped trophies to be at the nearest trophy border, or had stayed right around where I faced them over the following days. Considering 80% of these bots were within a few games of the new arenas anyway, it consolidates the theory that the bots are only in the game to give players easy wins when they may be at crucial points in the game. Howeverrr, there's one thing outside of the game ENTIRELY that gives us the definitive proof that bots exist... I mentioned Brad earlier. Brad is a speedrunner on Twitch and came into one of my bot hunting streams, asking me for the player tags of any bots I had found... what he returned pretty much changed the entire outcome of this project... Using the Supercell API, he was able to pull the ACHIEVEMENT DATA from each of the bots. For those of you too new to Clash to remember achievements, these are what came before quests. They were super basic things like "get 3 wins in a challenge", or "hit 2000 trophies" and would give you a small amount of experience upon completion. Why would this old system be useful in 2020? And especially to prove bots? I hear exactly none of you ask. Well, Supercell never actually deleted the code for these achievements. Whilst they may not be visible in the game anymore, your account is still continuously being tracked for completing achievements, but just isn't being rewarded when you do so. And THAT is important, because one of the easiest achievements on this list was to join a clan... Using Brad's API, we can see that every one of these bots has donated cards and that the achievement is still being tracked on their profile. But what we can also see is that NONE of the bots have EVER completed the join a clan achievement (see image #1 here). This tells us that these accounts, that aren't in a clan but have a random amount of donations, have NEVER actually been in a clan. This PROVES that these accounts are bots, because how would a human ever manage to donate a card without joining a clan?? It's impossible, and proves EXACTLY what I needed for this research. Now, knowing that these accounts are most definitely bot accounts, I reviewed the replay files of each bot account I encountered to analyse how the bots play inside of Clash Royale so I could figure out why they even exist inside of Clash Royale...

Bot Gameplay:

The bottom line of this section goes something like this - the bots tend to be SUPER passive in how they play. Only 29% of bots put troops in the back to start a push, and only 21% of bots played units aggressively at the river. This sorta never really gave the bots a way to actually build a push, seeing as they'd just sorta play units in the middle of the arena. I named this middle section of the arena the "bot spot", and it turns out that 96% of bots put the majority of their units in this passive zone. This really never lets them threaten you, and makes their gameplay super passive, which I guess is intended by Supercell. This "throwing of games" is backed up by the fact that 95% of bots leak elixir during the game when you're close to taking a tower. Instead of spending that elixir on defending your pushes, they legit just sit there and let you win. The only real aggression I found was with bots below 600 trophies. These ones seemed to spam everything at the river as soon as they could, but once you reach the 600 trophy mark the bots seem to stop doing this - I would guess that Supercell have different AIs at different trophy ranges. Although we already discussed that the majority of bots do just leak elixir to let you win, 92% of them will place a card right before they die. It seems as though they're trying to trick the player into thinking they haven't forfeit. Overall, these bots seem intentionally well coded by Supercell to make newer players believe that they are beating other real players, when in actuality they're getting free and easy wins to keep them playing the game for longer. I noticed that 70% of bots like to sacrifice their win condition on defence, maybe this is also to give the player easier wins? 0% of the bots I faced used any emotes, which again could relate to keeping newer players happier as they climb the ranks. That, of course, is not certain, just a theory. The final behaviour I noticed was to do with spells. 87% of the bots played spells in a sort of "programmed" way. This is sort of hard to explain, but hear me out. That percentage of bots wanted to play their spells on things that were spell-resistant. For example, they would always like to Fireball Musketeers and Arrow Skeleton Armies. However, this wasn't always executed well. There were a number of times were they would Fireball Musketeers at 4hp, or Arrow Skeleton Armies that only had 2 Skeletons left. So it felt as though they were programmed to use x spell on y troop, but didn't have any logical thought behind it - which made total sense for how a bot would actually run. Now a lot of you are probably asking... why? Why do bots exist? Well I've theorised a little bit about letting players have wins around crucial parts of the game, but I think there might be a somewhat deeper meaning here...

Why Bots Exist:

Let’s put bots into the context of Youtube. Almost all of you skip ads before videos on YouTube. Ads are usually only 15-30 seconds long, but you probably skip them anyway. While YouTube make less money from you skipping ads, people might leave the site if they had to wait 30-seconds before every video. And this is the same for Clash Royale. There simply cannot be 15-second queues for games, and bots are the fail-safe. Getting someone to download an app is already difficult enough, so Supercell cannot have a ton of players uninstall the game because of waiting times. PUBG and Call of Duty mobile both already have bots in their games to start matches sooner, so this isn't unheard of. There’s even a developer called VOODOO Games who ONLY release games with bots in them. They’re advertised as being multiplayer games, but the game isn’t even coded to be able to connect with other devices (you can even turn on airplane mode midgame and continue playing as normal.) Anyway, VOODOO has a game called that a lot of my friends enjoyed playing for a while. And the reason they loved playing it is because... They were winning... a lot. You see, bots are terrible at playing video games. So if was truly multiplayer, they might win 1 in every 20 matches? It wouldn’t be as fun and they’d probably uninstall. In Clash Royale, someone has to win, and someone has to lose. So every time a game is played, one player ends up happy, and the other player ends up sad. A bot is designed to lose on purpose, and does not care at all about losing because it has no feelings. So matches against bots allow Supercell to increase the overall enjoyment of the game by letting players gain happiness from beating bots. If the average player loses too many matches in a row, they’ll probably just uninstall and find a new game to play. So, it is in Supercell’s best interests to have these “pity matches” where an opponent is SO bad it is impossible to lose - and bots fill that role perfectly. By making sure players are never waiting too long for games, as well as making sure players never get too frustrated from losing a lot, bots allow supercell to give a better experience to newer players.

My Opinion and Conclusion:

This might be the most irrelevant part of this post, but I thought I'd give my views on the bot scenario in Clash Royale. I totally agree that shorter wait times and higher game enjoyment are POSITIVES, but what about everyone above 4k? It's fairly obvious that a lot of us more loyal players are slowly getting bored of what Clash Royale has to offer... and why newer players might be having a better experience, what do we get? Instead of spending time developing updates that give the loyal players a better experience, they've developed this secret, complex, bot AI that they've sorta his from all of us. Again, I agree that bots are a POSITIVE addition to the game, but my only problem is that they should have never been the main priority for Supercell. Whilst the bots are just a small factor, it indicates to me that Supercell aren't afraid of adding things that help them without even letting the community know why the updates have REALLY been taking this long. The ONLY statement I could find from Supercell on this topic was a support post where they talk super ominously, but do admit to bots existing (see image #2 here). They call the bots an "extension of the tutorial", and say they're encountered "infrequently" with the purpose of "increasing the skill level of players who are climbing the ranks", but really this doesn't line up too greatly. I don't think the first 4000 trophies, equivalent of nearly 7 hours of game-time if you win EVERY battle, count as an "extension of the tutorial". Nor would I agree that they're "infrequent" encounters, with 35% of my games being against bots. And I DEFINITELY wouldn't say that they help to increase player skill level, as they are literally just free wins. As a closing statement here, I don't really mind that bots exist in Clash Royale. That's fine. What I do mind is that Supercell have tried to be as secretive and covert as possible about this. Just ADMIT there are bots. Just ADMIT they give people wins. Just ADMIT it's because the game is on a slow decline and you want to keep new players engaged. That would keep the community MUCH happier, rather than having us find it out anyway in the middle of the biggest update drought we've ever seen. I doubt Supercell will ever see this, but just be transparent with us... it would make everyone's lives so much easier, and it'd stop people trying to look for things to quote-unquote "expose" you on. But yeah boys, hopefully you did enjoy this little project that I came up with. PLEASE do consider giving a share to this post, or checking out my YouTube video on this topic. I don't usually ask for stuff like that, but I think this information could be quite important to any Clash Royale friends you may have. Big shoutouts to lolnopound and Brad for helping me out with this video - their links are in this post if you wanna check them out! But yeah boys, thank you all for reading this far, I hope you enjoyed the post :)
submitted by EbolaBailey to ClashRoyale [link] [comments]

I Read It So You Don't Have To: Little Kids, Big City (by Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen)

Inspired by the overwhelmingly positive response to my previous 'book report' on Ramona Singer's Life on the Ramona Coaster (seriously, thank you all -- truly supporting other women 🙏🙏), I decided to try my hand at writing up yet another of the embarrassing number of Housewives books in my personal collection: Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen's Little Kids, Big City: Tales from a Real House in New York City with Lessons on Life and Love for Your Own Concrete Jungle.
After reading just the title of this book, I'm already exhausted. It's pretentiously long and awkwardly phrased while somehow still managing to be entirely devoid of meaning. In other words, a perfect encapsulation of Simon and Alex. The summary on the back cover describes the pair as the "breakout stars" of RHONY, an assessment that I would charitably call 'debatable,' before going on to inform me that I can look forward to "informative and often hair-raising stories of life in the urban jungle," and that "Alex and Simon use their own hard-won experience as a springboard to discuss a host of parenting topics." I anticipate that this content will be quite useful to me, the guardian of four cats that I spoil endlessly and treat like my actual children.
One of the pull-quotes on the back cover allegedly comes from our very own Bethenny Frankel. I say 'allegedly' because I refuse to believe that the following passage would ever come out of Bethenny's mouth (or keyboard or whatever):
Alex and Simon don't take themselves too seriously, which seems to be essential to parenting. Their fresh 'he said, she said' perspective on parenting is both humorous and insightful!
Please, take a moment and do your very best to picture mention-it-all, betting-on-horse-races-at-age-five Bethenny unironically using the phrase "fresh 'he said, she said' perspective." To describe Simon van Kempen and Alex McCord. Right, didn't think so.
My experience reading Little Kids, Big City started on an unexpected high note when I opened the front cover to find that my copy (purchased used through Better World Books for the low, low price of $5.31 with shipping) had been signed by Ms. you-are-in-high-school-while-I-am-in-Brooklyn herself, Alex McCord! Truly a gift I do not deserve. Samantha and Debbie (whoever and wherever you may be), thank you for your service. I am forever in your debt.
Unfortunately, as would soon become painfully clear to me, after starting off on such a promising note, I would have nowhere to go but down.
The book, which is written in alternating passages from Alex and Simon, begins its introduction with a chronicle of Alex's "fashionably nomadic" early adulthood. Ever the proto-edgelord, she recalls, "I did all those things our mothers warned us about and had fun doing them." We switch to Simon's perspective to hear the deeply embarrassing story of the couple meeting through a dating app while Simon was on a business trip in New York City. No, there is absolutely nothing embarrassing about meeting someone on a dating app. But there absolutely is something embarrassing about using the profile name "Yetisrule" to meet someone on a dating app. To clarify, this was apparently Alex's username, and I remain hopeful that we will get a more thorough explanation of her connection to the elusive Yeti as this book continues.
Alex tells us that, while she and Simon hadn't initially planned to have children, they eventually started to have "clucky feelings." I have never heard this phrase in my entire twenty-five years of life, but based on context clues and also a Google search, I learned that it means they wanted to have a baby. Don't worry, though! As Alex tells us, "You can be eight months pregnant and wear a leather miniskirt." Personally, this is life-changing news -- I had always believed that I couldn't have kids unless I was willing to compromise my 90s goth aesthetic! Maybe I'll rethink this child-free thing after all.
The next bit of advice seems like it actually could potentially be sort of helpful. "No one is a good parent all the time -- nor is anyone a bad parent all the time," they reassure the reader. "You can become a parent without losing yourself." Unfortunately, as soon as I catch myself nodding along, the modicum of goodwill I'd built up is promptly trashed by a gag-worthy line from Simon: "If you take nothing away but a wry smile after reading our little tome, then we've done our job." I immediately vow not to smile until I'm finished reading this book. Excuse me, this little tome.
The book starts in earnest with Chapter 1: "Does a German Shepherd Need a Birth Plan?" To be perfectly honest, I was not expecting a riddle at this juncture, but I am nevertheless excited to hear Simon and Alex tell us "why childbirth is not an intellectual activity." First, however, we get a passing reference to "Park Slope, home of the message board made famous in 2007 with a so-ridiculous-it-got-headlines discussion on gender-specific baby hats and where feminism can be taken to extremes." And despite the lame alarmist allusion to ~*XTREME feminism*~, this line did manage to lead me down an interesting Internet rabbit hole, so thanks for that, I guess?
Jesus Christ, I am on PAGE 4 and I am already so done with Simon. Presented without comment:
With the Park Slope OB-GYN, we had the first sonogram and saw the little blip on the screen -- our child-to-be. They say seeing is believing and as nothing was happening inside me, seeing confirmation on the video monitor that indeed my spermatozoa had penetrated and infiltrated one of Alex's ova made me aware that my days as a footloose and fancy-free guy might be coming to an end.
Y'all, I am currently working on my PhD in Molecular Biology. Which, if you were not previously aware, gives me the authority to decree that Simon is never allowed to use the word "spermatozoa" ever again. And so it is.
I was about to say that Alex's passages are at least more tolerable, but it appears I spoke too soon.
The stats they quoted referenced a 40 percent cesarean section rate in the city, and I wonder how that can be acceptable? Are we heading toward Brave New World, where babies are scientifically created in petri dishes and gestated in artificial wombs? Oh wait, we're already there. Are we heading towards a Wall-E existence, where we ride around in carts everywhere and do nothing for ourselves so that our bodies break down and we're all fat, oozy blobs drinking protein from a straw? Somebody slap me, please!!
Truly, Alex, it would be my pleasure.
As a Type-A person, just reading the story of Alex's first pregnancy and delivery gave me anxiety. She says that she just never really "felt the need to establish a birth plan" and that she "gave in to any craving [she] felt." Don’t worry, though -- "If I had suddenly craved chalk, ecstasy or Elmer's Glue, I'd have thought twice." I feel like there is some symbolism here to unpack (Could the Elmer's Glue be a metaphor for the childlike spirit of connection and unity???). Simon describes himself as "a learn-on-the-job guy" and tells us that he and Alex "failed to attend the last couple of [birthing] classes as by then we both just wanted to let instinct take over when the time came." As someone who has never trusted my instincts even once in my entire life, I cannot relate.
Twelve days after his due date, baby François is born. Except it turns out that he actually was born right on time, but Alex "didn't keep regimented track of [her] periods" and miscalculated. What a bummer that modern medicine hasn't advanced to the point where doctors can guide you about that sort of thing.
I don't even know what to say about this next bit, but God help me, I still have 215 more pages of this book to go.
Although the final stages of labor were very, very painful, I [Alex] never used our code word (tin can) for "game over, give me drugs." I definitely recommend using a code word, because it was kind of fun to scream, "I want drugs, give me drugs" through a contraction and have the midwife, nurse and Simon all know I wasn't serious. Once he [François] was finally out of my body, I experienced a tsunami of endorphins that was almost orgasmic, and I understand completely the stories other women have written about ecstatic birth. Simon was sitting behind me at the point of birth, and later when we untangled ourselves he discovered he'd actually ejaculated though hadn't felt any of the normal lead-up to that. It may seem distasteful to some, and definitely neither of us was thinking of sex at the time, but with the rush of emotion and my lower nerve endings going crazy, it's not too far a stretch to say that it's a profound experience.
Johan is born two years later, although it's unclear from the text whether either parent reached orgasm during the event.
The chapter ends with a top-ten list entitled "10 Things We'll Remember That Happened During Pregnancy." These include useful tidbits like
  1. Best advice I heard: men's genitals grow and change shape regularly, then go back to the way they were before. Don't worry about your female delicate bits being able to retract.
Which is…a lovely sentiment. But one that is slightly undermined by phrasing the first part in the grossest way possible, as well as by the use of the phrase "female delicate bits." I do like the idea that they "retract," however, because I think it's very cool to imagine the vagina as an SUV sunroof. By the grace of God, Chapter 1 comes to a close.
In Chapter 2 (titled "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn, What's My Name Again? and Who is This Alien?" -- seriously, were they padding their word count with chapter titles?), we get more questionable parenting advice from the McCord-van Kempens. They glibly dismiss concerns about co-sleeping ("Simon and I both slept with cats and dogs our whole lives without squishing them"), which I honestly would be more annoyed about if I hadn't immediately gone on to read Simon's account of "the midnight race to the 24-hour pharmacy to buy a breast pump as Alex's breasts were seemingly engorged with too much milk and she thought they were about to explode and fly off her chest." As it stands, I'm truly too defeated to care. Again, just to be perfectly clear: no shade to having issues breastfeeding, all shade to using the word 'engorged.’ And also for giving me the mental image of Alex's breasts desperately struggling to flee from her body (though to be fair, who could blame them?).
Proving that she does not inhabit the same world as the rest of us mortals, Alex tells us that she expected that her state of sleep-deprivation as she raised two young children would "spur [her] creativity with graphic design." For some reason, this does not seem to be the case. Alex is puzzled.
Finally, we've come to this chapter's top ten list ("Top 10 Memories of Random Things We Did While in the Post-Birth Haze"). While these lists have so far been utterly irredeemable, they also mean the chapter is coming to a close, so I can at least take some solace in that. This particular list ranges from the irritating…
  1. We subversively took sleeping babies to as many non-child-friendly places as possible to prove the point that children can be seen, not heard and not bothersome, such as dinner at the Ritz in London, the Sahara Desert, shopping on Madison Avenue, Underbar in Union Square and film festivals.
…to the truly unnecessary.
  1. While changing François' diaper on day one or two, we both stood mesmerized by the changing pad as meconium oozed out of him. It was really the most bizarre and fascinating thing I'd seen to date.
With the couple's general backstory and credentials now under our belts, Chapter 3 ("The Screaming Kid on the Plane is NOT Mine! (This Time)") focuses on advice for traveling with children, which Alex admits "can be a complete pain in the you-know-what." I cannot describe the rage I feel at the fact that she has -- in no fewer than 50 pages -- forced me to read about both her newborn son's excrement and her husband's ejaculate, but cannot bring herself to use the word "ass." Alex, we're really far beyond that at this point, don't you think?
Not to be outdone, Simon shares a conversation he had with François that is remarkable not for its content, but for the fact that one of Simon's nicknames for his son is apparently "F-Boy." Thanks, I hate it.
This chapter's list ("Alex's Top 10 Travel Memories") includes the entry:
  1. Both boys charging down Saline Beach in St. Barths like something out of Lord of the Flies.
So, like a horde of primal sadists? I'm wondering if Alex and Simon have inadvertently confused Lord of the Flies with the hit 2007 reality show Kid Nation. I really hope that's what's going on here.
Chapter 4 ("'Mommy, Johan is Gone!'") promises to teach us how to handle accidents. I'm not sure how comfortable I feel taking emergency advice from the authors of this particular book, but (in large part due to the fact that I have slept since reading the previous chapter, giving the pain a chance to dull somewhat), I am willing to at least hear them out.
After relaying a story of François needing emergency surgery after a foot injury, Alex tells us that at one point, she and Simon realized they had spent "nearly $5000 on Indian takeout" in the past year. For the mathematically averse, this works out to a monthly budget of roughly $100 worth of Indian food per week, making my quarantine Uber Eats habit seem downright quaint by comparison. The chapter-ending list walks us through the "Top 10 Things We Do in a Crisis," and fortunately, the tips seem pretty benign.
  1. Knowing what calms the children down, such as making silly faces or reciting Shel Silverstein poetry backwards.
Wait, hang on. What?
reciting Shel Silverstein poetry backwards
I'm sorry, please forgive me if I have missed some recent, paradigm-shifting development in the field of early childhood education, but what?? As in, "ends sidewalk the where?" "Sdne klawedis eht erehw?" I am truly befuddled.
Maybe the next chapter ("'Is Today a Work Day or a Home Day, Mommy?'") will have some applicable wisdom for me, as I will, in fact, be working from home every other week for the foreseeable future. And, I cannot stress this enough, I am a psychotically overinvested cat mom. Alas, we are instead treated to an unnecessarily detailed breakdown of how important it is to delegate, and specifically that Simon cleans up vomit and Alex cleans up "feces in the various forms that come out of children's bottoms at appropriate and sometimes inappropriate times such as the middle of Thanksgiving festivities." As if we needed another reason to consider Thanksgiving problematic.
The chapter takes a brief commercial break…
When an everyday product can do double duty such as Dawn Hand Renewal with Olay Beauty, a dish soap that seals in moisture while I'm tackling cleanup, sure, I'll buy it.
…before closing out with a list of the "Top 10 Things We Do Because We Were Here First." I am happy to confirm your worst suspicions and tell you that item number one is indeed "Have passionate sex."
In Chapter 6 ("I Saw Your Nanny…Being Normal?"), I find myself actually sympathizing with Alex for the first time in this book. Which is mostly just because the chapter starts by talking about all of the awful, catty parental competitions that seem endemic to a certain crew of white Manhattan moms, and it makes Alex come off at least slightly less irritating in comparison.
That is, at least until a few pages later, when she starts to complain about a previous au pair:
She was sullen, melodramatic and kept a blog about how she hated Americans, hated France, hated us and the children but loved New York. I think she must have thought we were idiots, and when she asked us to leave early we were only too happy to get her out of our home.
I would love to meet this woman. I think we could be great friends.
This chapter's list is even more difficult to parse than previous ones, because while it's titled "Top 10 Things Caregivers Have Inadvertently Done to Amuse, Annoy or Thrill Us," it's not at all clear which descriptors apply to which points. When a babysitter "accidentally used a household cleaning wipe when changing a diaper," were the McCord-Van Kempens amused? Annoyed? Thrilled? The world may never know.
In Chapter 7 ("'Putting To Death Is Not Nice,' a Duet for Two Boys and A Guitar"), Alex and Simon share some of their hard-earned childrearing wisdom with us. Which basically amounts to Alex telling us that, while normally misbehavior from the kids incurs a warning followed by a time-out, she has also developed an ingenious new strategy where she actually steps in to intervene when the stakes are higher. Let's listen in:
A third permutation is when there's a behavior that has to stop immediately, say if Johan has a big blue indelible marker and is running through a white hotel suite. I swoop in and grab the marker as to risk a three count [warning] would be to risk decoration of the sofa.
Take the marker from the toddler immediately instead of trying to reason with him? Groundbreaking.
Side Note: At this point in my reading, I am incredibly satisfied to report that I have discovered my first typo in the book, and in one of Simon's sections no less! ("These toads secret [sic] a poison…"). This is wildly pedantic of me and proof that I am a deeply sick person.
We run though a list of "Top 10 Things We Never Thought We Would Have To Explain" ("10. Why hot pizza stones do not like Legos.") before moving right along into Chapter 8, "Don't Listen to the Well-Meaning Morons." Strangely, I have a very vivid memory of Alex saying "I have a chapter in my book called, 'Don't Listen to the Well-Meaning Morons" in some distant RHONY episode or reunion. I guess she was telling the truth.
The chapter opens with a series of passages in which Alex and Simon respond to various comments that have been made about their parenting over the years. I think this device is supposed to be a bit of lighthearted snark on overbearing strangers, but instead just comes off as weirdly defensive and passive-aggressive. A few examples:
"My daughter is perfect. Her table manners are excellent, she never speaks unless spoken to and we've always had white sofas at home since she was a child, with no staining."
-A woman with one preteen daughter, no sons
Your daughter sounds boring. I wouldn't want my sons to date her..
"Why are you outside?" - A bagel seller in Montreal, in February
I'm hungry and the stroller is well protected under the plastic cover. Johan is warm and cozy, the others are asleep in the hotel and I'm going stir-crazy. Is that enough, or should I buy my bagel from someone else?
Got 'em!
"Excuse me, your baby is crying." -- Someone said to Simon as they peered into the stroller to try and determine the cause of said noise.
You don't say! Do you think, you stupid idiot, that I don't hear that? Do you think I think it's just loud music? Do you think I don't want him to stop and that I like it???
Sorry, did I say 'passive-aggressive'? Let's change that to just 'aggressive.'
But despite bristling at being the recipient of unwanted advice, far be it from Alex to shy away from giving her opinions on the shortcomings of other parents.
There was a mom at another table who wore all black and told her hyperactive daughter that they had to have a family meeting to decide what to do next. The type of woman who might ask her daughter to "process her feelings" about which color to choose. The type of woman who wanted make [sic] a big huge hairy deal about including her daughter in the decision-making process and "negotiating" the next best step for the family to take in the pottery shop. Pardon me while I shoot myself.
I'm sorry, but I just cannot respect this take coming from a woman who calms her sons by reciting comedic children's poetry backwards.
We next learn that there are "many websites out in cyberspace," some of which offer child-rearing advice. Simon summarizes their useless "vitriol" as such:
They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, whereas for the 21st century surely hell no longer hath fury, as it's all been hurled at the belittled and scorned Internet mom.
I'm honestly not entirely sure what this is supposed to mean, and my confusion continues all the way through this chapter's "Top 10 Ways We Make Ourselves Feel Better When It's All Getting To Be Too Much." We begin reasonably enough…
  1. Check to see whether the person offering advice has children. How old are they?
  2. Do they have a point? Are they right? It is entirely possible.
…before quickly losing all sense of self-awareness and flying completely off the rails.
  1. Will we ever see this person again? If not, can we get away with unleashing our fury on them? Note, if you're reading this and decide to try it for yourself, go big or go home.
The last few chapters have been a bit Alex-heavy, but never fear -- Simon pops back up in Chapter 9 ("If I Wouldn't Eat That, My Kid Won't Either") to tell us a charming story about how the family refers to his Bolognese sauce as "Dead Cow Sauce," and this is because his children are incredibly enlightened and understand the circle of life and where food comes from. Or something along those lines.
This chapter also provides a lot of really incontrovertible proof that, even though you may swear that your kids say the most hilarious things all the time, you are wrong. I love kids. I can play cool aunt with the best of them. But this "recipe" for "Johan's Concoction" tries so hard to be cute and funny ("whisk violently -- making sure to spill a little out of the top") that I could barely stifle my groans. For anyone who happens to frequent RebornDollCringe, I am strongly and inexplicably reminded of Britton.
A list of "Top 10 Things We Don't Like About Children's Restaurants" culminates with
  1. Where would you rather be? A bistro devoted to race-car driving, with 1950s toy cars on the walls, or T.G.I. Friday's?
Excuse me, ma'am, you must be unfamiliar with the concept of Endless Apps®.
The title of Chapter 10 is "You'll Give in Before I Do!" and although the subtitle lets me know this is referencing "the art and warfare of bedtime," it's hard not to take it as a personal taunt from the authors. Most of this chapter is just transcriptions of 'cute' things François and Johan have said to try to avoid going to bed, but we do get this gem:
Slaying the dragon is our family euphemism for using the toilet (drowning the dragons that live in the sewer) and is fun for the boys to talk about, though probably not forever.
Before giving us a chance to adequately process this revelation, Alex goes on to reflect:
Hmm, perhaps I should delete this -- I don’t want obnoxious classmates getting hold of this book in 10 years and asking the boys if they need to slay the dragon in the middle of geometry class.
Alex, I assure you, you truly have nothing to worry about. Any self-respecting bully will be far too focused on the fact that Simon ejaculated at the moment of his son's birth to pay this comparatively trivial factoid any attention.
The authors shake things up and end this chapter with lists of both "Top 20 Bedtime Stories" and "Top 10 Lullabies," both of which are thankfully inoffensive.
In Chapter 11 ("Children Like Shiny Objects"), we follow Alex and Simon as they purchase the townhouse we see them renovating on RHONY. Although other (read: lesser) parents might store breakables out of reach or limit children's toys to playrooms and bedrooms, Alex and Simon were blessed with two boys whose aesthetic sensibilities are already quite developed:
One kind of funny thing that I noticed recently is that the toys the boys tend to leave upstairs in our red and black living room often tend to be red and black as well. I'm not sure whether that's intentional, but it's funny that the room always seems to match regardless of its contents.
The list of "Top 10 Craziest Places We've Found Objects" is mercifully absent of any orifice-related discoveries.
After reading just the title of Chapter 12 ("Raising Baby Einsteins"), I'm bracing myself for the self-satisfied smugness to come. This preparation turns out to be duly warranted. Baby sign language is dismissed as "a scheme dreamed up by ASL experts who wanted to sell classes to easily influenced new parents," Mommy and Me classes are "not really for teaching anything," and we learn that Alex and Simon have instituted a bizarre family rule that "if a talking toy came into our house, it had to speak a foreign language or speak English in an accent other than American."
We learn that Simon apparently does not know what antonyms are (for the record, Simon, the word you're looking for is homophones) and that New York City is replete with "wailing, nocturnal, type-A obsessed harridans willing to sleep with persons not their spouse if they think it will help their child get into THE RIGHT SCHOOL." Uh, yikes. After a tediously long description of François' pre-school admissions process, Alex informs us:
As a former actor, I've always gotten into play-acting and dressing up with my children. Perhaps a little too much. But I've taken the opportunity to show off a few old monologues, complete with bounding around like a puppy. If you have knowledge, why not share it? If you happen to know Puck's speeches from a Midsummer Night's Dream by ear with tumbling and staged sword play, why the heck don’t you share that with your boisterous boys, who love it and run around shouting, "Thou speakest aright!"
I am suddenly compelled to call my mother and thank her profusely for never making me put up with anything like this. Maybe I'll also get her thoughts on one of the tips listed in "Top 10 Favorite 'Developmental' Things To Do": "if they want something that you want to delay giving them, make them ask in every language they can before giving in." To me, this seems like an effective way to encourage your children to learn how to say "Fuck you, mom" in French as early as possible.
In Chapter 13 ("Urban Wonderland"), Alex and Simon promise to share their unique perspective on "taking advantage of raising a child in the urban jungle." But mostly, we just get a rant about how everyone thinks their kids have weird names, and that makes Simon mad. This chapter's "Top 10 Reasons New York is the Center of the Universe to a Kid" list reminds us what truly matters: "there are more songs with NYC in their titles than any other city."
Immediately after telling us how great it is to live in a city (excuse me, urban jungle), Alex and Simon switch tack and spend Chapter 14 ("'Daddy, a Cow! And It's Not in a Zoo!") expounding on the importance of exposing kids to nature. Sounds great, I'm on board. Unfortunately, we almost immediately take a hard left turn into a story from Simon's childhood where he and his brother are "befriended by this old guy, Dick, who lived on the outskirts of town in a small tin shed." We hear that Dick "occasionally pulled out an early Playboy magazine back from the days when the lower regions were airbrushed out," and that "there had been pretty strong rumors of pedophilia," before promptly returning to the main narrative with no further explanation. I can only describe the transition as 'jarring.'
I can tell how exhausted I am at this point in the book by how hurriedly I skimmed the list of "Top 10 Differences We've Noticed Between City Kids and Country Kids." To be honest, I'm almost annoyed when a particularly bizarre quote manages to catch my attention, because that means I have to think about it for the full amount of time it takes me to transcribe from the page. I'm beginning to think that my initial hope that I could glean some useful cat-rearing advice from this experience may have been overzealous.
Chapter 15 ("You're Such a Great Parent, You Should Be on TV (LOL)") is the only chapter to directly address the family's time on RHONY. It starts with this (attempted) comedy bit in which Alex and Simon pretend to be hilariously self-aware and self-effacing (Alex: "Look up 'Mommylicious' in the dictionary and you will see a photo of me in a ball gown, breast-feeding an infant while making Osso Buco and directing carpenters to build a bookcase for my Dickens and Shakespeare."). This posture would be infinitely more believable if I hadn't spent the previous 205 pages watching these two take themselves deadly seriously.
But rather than share any juicy behind-the-scenes tidbits (or, indeed, convey anything of substance at all), Alex and Simon spend exactly 3.5 pages blustering about how it wasn't harmful for their children to be on TV before giving us a list of "Top 10 Hilarious Things The Boys Have Done While Filming or at Photo Shoots." Spoiler alert: none of them are 'hilarious.'
Chapter 16 is literally titled "The Light at the End of the Tunnel," which makes me feel like this whole experience may have just been Alex and Simon playing some sort of twisted game with me. Alex tells us this is "the chapter of hope," but given that she then tells us about a time when she "spent one full hour discussing why magic markers cannot be carried around with the caps off, particularly in a hotel suite with white couches and walls," I'm not sure exactly where this hope is coming from. Also it seems like this markers-in-a-hotel-room thing happens weirdly frequently. We are then treated to Alex and Simon's "Top 10 Moments of Getting It,'" which includes
  1. Apropos of nothing, Johan said, "You give us time-outs because you are teaching us to be good grown-ups."
This is a thing I'm sure Johan said completely organically and not in response to hearing his parents say "we're giving you a time-out so that you learn to be a good grown-up" approximately seven zillion times.
This brings us to the book's Epilogue (a mercifully short two pages) featuring the line "If you made it to the end of this book, we salute you." Honored to accept this hard-earned accolade, I can finally close the book and start figuring out a way to erase the memory of Simon busting a mid-childbirth nut from my aching brain. Wish me luck!
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Sacrifices #9

Twenty five hours fifty minutes post contact
Hyperion city: Hyperion city starport
The name for the capitol city of Phaeton was no accident, it was no random choice debated by the colonial leadership. It was the name of the oldest structure on the planet's surface, the thing that brought the initial colonists to the surface of the world. TUSS Hyperion was a true behemoth, a hundred meters across and two thousand long, the behemoth colony ship had one singular task, to transport the tens of thousands of potential colonists from Earth to Phaeton, its armored hull was designed to absorb the forces of orbital reentry, and her screens were, for her time, top of the line powered by two dozen fusion reactors that were to designed to also serve as the colonies initial power plant.
She was made as essentially an instant colony, and the Hyperion city star port was built around her (mostly) intact skeleton, it was in fact now a planetary landmark and historical sight, albeit one that still provided a significant portion of power for Hyperion city. From her, the city had rapidly expanded as her internal nano forges, engineering bays and factories provided all the initial infrastructure that the newly born colony had required. As years passed by she was slowly burred under a network of steel beams, concrete, and asphalt until all that could really be seen of her was an access hatch into the underground museum that was her body. All those layers of metal and concrete had sheltered Hyperion from the Ruk bombardment, the thick heavy blast doors, concrete, asphalt and steel acting as ablative armor to guard the ancient vessel against the hellish energies that the aliens had unleashed.
Her children had one last request of this ancient and venerable vessel that had once been seen as the guardian spirit of the colony. They were betting everything that she would say yes.
TUSS Hyperion: Engineering deck
Pioter walked down the ghostly corridor's of the Hyperion's engineering bays, he looked over at a display of a class ten nanoforge, the massive manufacturing device was a twelve by twelve by twelve meter cube, feed it enough materials and it could produce anything from a pickax to a backhoe to a battle tank. Sadly they had neither the time, nor the resources to reactivate the ancient machinery nor did they have the expertise. The trio continued deeper into the ancient ship. Nathan ran his hand along the stainless steel wall, eliciting a quiet hiss as metal scraped on metal. "Place is a maze..." Pioter remarked quietly. "Just follow the signs and we'll be all right." Nathan said shaking his head. "Hope you're right." Pioter said shaking his looking up at the ceiling. "we're only a few hundred meters away, come on move it!" Chernov barked. "Yes sir!" The two barked, they had a job to do, tired as they were... they could rest soon. After they were finished.
Hyperion city: the front lines
Major Stukov snarled as he lifted his accelerator pistol, putting three shots into the head of a charging Ruk infantryman, which exploded in a mess of wet gore. He dearly wished that he still had his other arm, then he would have more than this shitty pistol to fight with, an accelerator rifle however was not a weapon one wielded one handed. "Forwards, keep pouring it on!" He roared over the weapons fire around him. M-7 medium machine guns howled with a malicious glee as they tore apart the rallying Ruk troops, recoiless rifles roared with rage as they continuously fired high explosive shells into enemy infantry concentrations, forcing them to scatter out or risk being pulped, and all the while his infantrymen flit from cover to cover, advancing constantly as they kept up a steady rain of fire on the enemy forces. It was however, not a one sided battle.
After the initial surprise the Ruk troops had recovered their wits, and then they began laying down a truly devastating amount of firepower themselves. He watched a bolt of plasma catch a trooper in the chest and smash a burning hole through their bodies, killing them instantly even as his own men retaliated, avenging their brother in arms. Thick beams of plasma scythed across the battlefield, killing anyone they touched even as the weapons gunners were targeted by sniper fire. Stukov looked past his battlefront towards where the third enemy formation was, and to his grim satisfaction he saw it slowly being ground down by the US guardsmen but he also saw that the guardsmen were much reduced, they were being worn down at an alarming rate, they wouldn't be able to hold on for much longer... still they only needed to hold the enemy inside of the city for a few more minutes...
Hyperion city: Ruk base camp
Groundmaster snarled as he looked at the report. sector seven's Groundleader was dead, as were two thirds of his officer corps. They appeared to have been assassinated via area saturation with those damnable cannons, that section's Groundleader had been at least a semi competent underling, his loss stung a bit. Furthermore, some of his small outlying defensive posts had gone silent, including the one at the Hue-man datacache, far away from the front lines where the hue mans were attacking... he didn't like this at all... he was missing something, something important, but he didn't know what. Furthermore, Voidmaster was offline and apparently the fleet had been fighting for its life with some form of unknown enemy combat vessels. He had no doubt that they were.. they were hue-man vessels... that meant that this species was spacefaring... this was probably not their home world was it... "oh... shit." The Groundmaster stepped back from his table. If this wasn't their home, then they had stepped in some seriously deep shit... if they fought like this for a colony world... that thought was troubling. He hoped this was the last he would be seeing of this nightmare species for a very long time. Lek Koz had a sinking feeling in his stomachs that it would not be. "Groundmaster, we have a report from the stockades that the captives are revolting!" "You have got to be joking..." the Groundmaster groaned, "WHY WON'T THIS SPECIES JUST GIVE UP AND DIE?"
Twenty four hours post contact
Phaethon: The cattle pens
Francine Waters was going to die. She had seen other who were taken screaming into the large metal building, she heard what happened to them. She was determined not to let it happen to her. They had taken all of her possessions, as well as those of everyone else. Stupid aliens hadn't realized they left- no, they had locked her in a pen filled with humanities oldest weapon. The humble rock. It took her twenty minutes to find the gathering of those who were emerging as leaders. "we can't just sit here-" One said. "why not? its not like we're being butch-" a second started. "you dumbass, that's EXACTLY what they're doing" The third growled. The second held up his hands defensively. "Hey, you don't have any proof of that!" "don't you hear those screams, that's all the proof I need you quisling." the third said angrily. "I agree." Francine said as she stepped up to the group. "the question is," she asked tossing her rock up and down in the air, "what are we gonna do about it?" The first and third looked at the rather petite miss waters while the second turned away. "You have a plan little missy?" the first one asked with a hint of an entirely false southern drawl. "organize, arm, and beat them to death." "arm ourselves with what?" the second spat. "Rocks, Rebar, our bare fists if it comes down to it." She snapped back. "Either we die fighting or we get whittled down to the point where we cannot hope to do anything, and then we die anyway as they butcher us alive." The third man gave her a small smile. "I like your attitude, but that's going to take time..." "then we'd better get started right? at the very least we can cause some trouble before we go out, draw some resources away from any active resistance." She said offering a hand to the group. "sounds good to me." the first man said shrugging "Anything's better than sitting in here waiting to die." The second man shook his head. "You all are crazy, I'm out." "go on, run back to your little corner, come out when you're ready do do something." the third spat. "I'm Hank Cartwright, that's Mark Young." The first man, Hank said shaking Francine hand. "Major Francine Waters, US Home guard. She replied with a smile. "Now, lets get to work."
Twenty six hours post contact
TUSS Hyperion: Engineering bay
Pioter hesitantly activated the control panel in the Hyperion's engineering bay. It was old, but the technology was well cared for, the entire engineering section was kept well maintained due to the reactors. The pannel whirred to life, exposing a series of bars and technical information. "Sargent, I have no idea what I'm looking at..." Pioter called out. "that's because you're looking at the reactor controls." Chernov explained as he swiped on the panel, bringing up a series of diagnostics that were far more recognizable. "See, much better. Now, Nathan just needs to override the safety lockouts."
Hyperion city: the front lines
"once the guardsmen are eliminated they'll gain a mobile reserve formation..." Stukov said quietly. "Then, they can try to run up one of the flanks and wipe us out, we're already barely killing them fast enough. Still... we only need to hold out for a few more minutes, then we can pull back." "Sir..." Stukov's new adjutant asked nervously "what are we holding out for...?" "didn't you read your briefing adjutant ?" "No Major, I didn't have time, I got it and then we initiated operations immediately." "Very well adjutant, I suppose I'll have to inform you then. Do you remember how our forefathers got to this world?" Stukov asked patiently. "Yes, by Colony ship, the Hyperion yes?" The adjutant replied confused. "And how did Hyperion get here?" Stukov asked like a parent to a child. "Well... by Demispace of course." The adjutant replied, a notion of an idea slowly growing int he back of his mind. "Now, you are aware of the interactions between a demispace drive and electrostatic shielding, such as what was used to help airbreak and land Hyperion correct?" Stukov said with a predatory smile. The Adjutant went pale. "t-thermonuclear detonation?" He asked as the horrifying realization finally clicked into place. "Of course, and the more power pumped into said shielding..." Stukov said leaving the scentance unfinished. "Hyperion has twelve Fusion reactors..." The Adjutant gasped, the terror in his chest made him barely able to breathe. Stukov nodded for the adjutant to go on. "We're holding out for that...?" "As the American Lieutenant up in that apartment complex said, there is always a way to win, sometimes you just have to change the definition a bit. Besides, scorched earth has always been a bit of a Russian tradition no?"
TUSS Hyperion: Engineering bay "Emergency Safety lockouts have been overridden." Nathan said with a gulp. "Not having second thoughts are you old friend?" Pioter asked quietly. Nathan shook his head. "They took everything from me... from you, from all of us..." Chernov looked at the two men and nodded. "Gentlemen, its been a pleasure." "Likewise." Nathan said. "Even if you were a bit of a pain in the ass... it was nice knowing you Sargent." Pioter said pulling a trio of glass bottles from his bag and passing them around. "To our lives," He said popping off the cap. "And too their deaths." Sargent Chernov finished as he took a long drink from the bottle. Then, he flipped a small black switch.
When matter from demispace is brought into contact with an electrostatic feild generator, it causes uncontrolled nuclear fusion, the more powerful the electrostatic field, the more massive the detonation. Under normal circumstances, weaponizing this interaction is neither cost nor result efficient, due to the simple resources involved and the fact that pound for pound atomic weapons are just better due to being more compact, cheaper, and having a higher yield per kilogram of fusion material since only around half of the energy generated by this interaction ever even leaves demispace. However that does not render the effects any less lethal as the full might of all twelve of Hyperion's ancient fusion reactors was momentarily re-routed into her electrostatic shield systems, gently caressing the rift into demispace that was, for the tiniest fraction of a second, opened. the results were visible from space as an estimated one hundred and fifteen megaton detonation consumed the entire city in a ravenous wave of nuclear hellfire. The blast generated a mushroom cloud over a hundred and twenty kilometres tall. The blast flattened anything within a hundred kilometres and killed anyone within two hundred it gave anyone within three hundred third degree burns as the thermal pulse washed over the landscape igniting thousands of small brush fires.
In the crater that once was Hyperion city, the ghost of a dead Russian Marshal laughed and clinked glasses with an American Lieutenant. The fleet might have lost, but the Guard had won, all they'd had to do was change their definition of victory. they'd done their part... now it was up to others to carry on their work.
The cattle pens the fighting between the Humans and the Ruk had stopped for a moment as both sides watched the rapidly approaching light, the howling roar of the detonation filled the air as it raced ahead of the blast wave. Major Francine waters looked at the rapidly expanding fireball and nodded. "Godspeed." then she clubbed a Ruk over the head with her rock, and the moment of silence was broken as the two sides went back to fighting viciously for control of the cattle pens.
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[Primer] The Nightmare Hive: A Five-Colour Lurrus Slivers Guide

Humans don’t have it easy in fantasy settings. They tend to be cast either as strictly worse versions of other races in all qualities that actually matter, or they’re just the jacks-of-all-trades lacking both the strengths and weaknesses of the others. In many games, this lack of specialization makes humans boring, and keeps them away from presence in minmaxed munchkin builds, but here? They do have one strength.
A band of humans from all five colours trek across the countryside. The finest specimens that the species has to offer. They come from all walks of life: noble priests, veteran soldiers, pirates with even less respect for you than for your property rights. There’s one chick who makes stuff cost more mana somehow. (Do any of the Innistrad novels explain that?)
All march together for a common purpose: using their combined powers, they must exterminate a hive of interplanar rodents. The slivers have expanded their territory in recent months, terrorizing the farmers whose grain the kingdom relies on. The exterminators are well-equipped, bringing magic found in their faith, strength found in the arrival of their comrades, and giant praying mantises found God-knows-where. Discard, +1/+1 counters, ramp - they have it all. If there’s a need that has to be met, you can bet there’s a human somewhere willing to do it for enough coin. But through it all, these bipedal mammals still have one weakness.
Humans are pack animals, you see, but still individuals. Social ones to be sure, but they also appear determined to love their shortcomings more than their potential greatness, and cringe away from the pinnacle of evolution: the parasocial. Their flesh-brains have come so far, but without an omnipresent psionic link, they’re little more than their unicellular ancestors. Limited to a single life. A single existence. You can dismantle an entire army of them just by breaking down their fragile communications systems. Once that’s done, you can just sit back and watch as disorganization dissolves their ranks and their differences drive them to tear each other apart. This is the eternal flaw of the Self: it implies a lack of perfect union with the Whole.
And as these humans, less of a people than a cobbled-together mass of persons, reach the top of the hill and see the outline of the Hive on the horizon, they will know the failure of their species. They will bear witness to the accomplishments of the Whole and even as they fail to articulate it in words, they will know that the Self is the Flaw.
We have long since mended this Flaw. They sent their finest ones, but the fact that their finest are confined to being ones, with gifts that only apply to singular specimens, is their fatal limit. That is why their final stand against our expansion can only ever be that: a final stand.
"bro wtf that was cringe, ur gonna lose karma"
Sorry, I’m a wannabe fantasy writer on Reddit. Get used to awful prose.
Welcome to a primer for my particular brew of 5C Slivers in Modern: the Nightmare Hive. It’s something I’ve been somewhat surprised to not see more Slivers players dabbling in. If you ask me, I think they have an unhealthy attachment to 3-drops. 🤮
I’m going to focus on deckbuilding/card choice and playstyle notes. It’s probably not going to be a ton of new information for experienced players, but it can call attention to some micro. I’ll throw some attention to matchup notes but that’s not what’s as fun for me to write. This is also the first time I’ve ever written an MTG primer. Well, a primer that isn’t for a deck that’s actually just a shitpost made of cardboard. (Ask me about 95-land Vendilion Clique EDH!)
There’s not much I have to say for an introduction or a “Why Slivers?” in general. You guys already know it. Slivers have a certain reputation among casual players for being OP. Maybe this is because they’re the truest embodiment of what a tribal deck is. Slivers sacrifice a lot of individual power in order to maximize group power. But really the reason for this is that building a functional Sliver deck for casual is one of the easiest things in the world. As far as fair decks go, you can get a ton of mileage in terms of effectiveness out of relatively little money spent just by rooting through the foul-smelling dumpster that is your LGS’s bulk commons bin, throwing any slivers you find at some lands and calling it a deck. You also get more insight by comparing them to other creature types like Humans or Elves: plenty of those creature types will show up incidentally in more generalist decks, but the instant an opponent plays their first Sliver, you know exactly what’s going on and you know you should be afraid. Consequently, casual circles often have the one Sliver deck of the friend group whose player loves to be feared and who everyone else loves to fear.
This shifts a lot once one goes into competitive environments. Slivers have clear weaknesses, and in my view, many of the common modern Sliver builds fail to really play to their strengths enough to make up for this. I don’t even know if the deck I’m about to describe to you is any different, but I can attest to this deck having a good matchup against other Sliver decks by virtue of sheer speed. Vroom vroom.
Do keep in mind that while I’m hyping this deck up because it’s mine and I’m proud of it, it’s far from perfect. But you know what it is? Consistent, easy to play and fun as SHIT for smoothbrains like me. HAHA TURN CREATURES SIDEWAYS EVERY TURN, WORLD’S BEST STRATEGY GAME, NOW FREE TO PLAY ON MTGARENA
Alright bois, get ready. Strap in, set aside your existential identity as a Unique and become one with the Hive. Click your talons together when you’re ready and brace yourself for some card choice analysis. Truly the funnest part of Magic, at least if you’re like me and spend hours honing a theoretical build for your D&D character without caring to ever actually play it.
If all you care about is the list, here's the summary by a helpful Goyf.

The 0-Drops:

In this deck, our only 0-drops are lands, and you’re probably familiar with what the best choices already are. Where this gets a tad spicy is in the land count: 18. One of the reasons this deck stands at an advantage against other Sliver decks is precisely from the pseudo card advantage provided by being able to draw fewer lands than our opponent and still have a functional deck. Curving lower than burn out here.
4x Cavern of Souls: Surprising literally nobody with this one. In the Bant snowpile meta that hasn't quite gone away with Astrolabe, your opponent will have plenty of countermagic, and this card will be pulling a lot of weight for getting you on even footing with them.
4x Unclaimed Territory: Discount Cavern. The color-fixing is just this valuable, letting us draw on Slivers from every color to create an optimized horde without stressing about our mana sources.
4x Sliver Hive: Here’s something we have over other tribal decks: Twelve different lands that can all tap for colorless as well as one of any color to spend on our creatures. Sliver Hive has a final ability stapled on, but I legitimately feel that this card would be buffed if that ability was replaced with flavor text. That would improve Slivers as a whole by adding to their aesthetic while also removing an ability that literally never gets used, at least in this build. Requires you to draw a third of the lands in your whole library to use, and if you’ve reached that point, you’ve probably already lost.
0x Ancient Ziggurat: WHAT? Yeah yeah, I know. Here’s the thing: With the above lands doing so much for our mana fixing, and a number of other lands we want, there’s little room for Ancient Ziggurat. Which is a shame, because ziggurat is an awesome word that you should strive to use at least once every day. The inability to be used on noncreature sources matters more often than you’d think, usually in the case of sideboard cards but also for a number of hands in which one would be keeping a single land and an Aether Vial.
“But isn’t it better for Lurrus since it can produce any colour to cast it, unlike Sliver Hive?”
Before the nerf, this was correct. However, now that you have to pay 3 generic mana to put your companion into your hand, a cost that Ancient Ziggurat can’t contribute to, it’s no longer worth it.
In short, Ancient Ziggurat is good, but “good” isn’t good enough for the Hive. We demand more.
3x Mutavault: Unfortunately, playing 4 Mutavaults here is suboptimal. Five-color deck needs its five-color sources, and in a deck with 18 lands, we don’t want more than one-sixth of our lands failing to produce colored mana. A number of creatures in the deck are ones Mutavault can’t be used to pay for even if we want to. That said, the 2/2 body that benefits from all the Sliver buffs is commonly the difference between winning and losing a game. In playtesting I’ve found 3 to be the optimal number, but you wouldn’t be totally insane for playing 2 or 4.
2x Silent Clearing: Apparently 18 lands is sometimes too many. The pain from these is usually insignificant, while the card draw can help us pull a clutch win out of nowhere. This particular horizon land is chosen since out of the ones available, it most lines up with our mana requirements. Shoutout to the times you crack it at EoT, draw a creature you can drop with Aether Vial, untap and swing for lethal because of that new Sliver.
1x Snow-Covered Plains: Yes, this deck is very, very bad against Blood Moon. Good thing the Astrolabe ban makes Ponza worse, right? Blood Moon only gets less common in the meta from here, right guys?
The single Plains is mostly a formality, something to fetch off of opponents’ Paths, Assassin’s Trophies and Fields of Ruin. Why Snow-Covered? Mind games. It might cause your opponent to think you run something that makes the snow quality relevant. In truth, it’s because it adds possible variance in your opponent’s mind that they might account for, at zero mechanical downside. I actually don’t like the fact that snow-covered basics are strictly better than standard basics. I’d like to see a modern-legal Snow hoser that’s good enough to use, making snow lands something to use only if your deck actually cares about them rather than making them the optimal default for every single deck.
So, that’s our manabase. Nothing too surprising or exciting, but had to be done.

The 1-Drops:



One of Slivers’ main weaknesses as a tribe is their one-drops. There aren’t many, and the ones we get aren’t absolutely spectacular. No 1 mana 2/2s with haste or anything. (God can you imagine how OP a 1 mana 2/2 with haste would be?) But they do get the job done, providing the keyword soup that makes this deck favourable against other fair decks. Just to fluff this out and address some bad possibilities people might want to account for, I’ll also be rating every one-drop sliver. I know you’re desperate for my opinion.
4x Aether Vial: When I first got into Magic, I didn’t understand what was so good about Aether Vial. Sure, you can get some cards into play faster, but it also takes up your first turn as well as a card to use. You’re just kneecapping yourself in the long run. What I didn’t understand is that much of the time, there is no long run in Modern. The added speed is worth it, as is the instant timing and the immunity to counterspells. Aether Vial is our only noncreature spell maindeck and we’ll drop it turn 1 if it’s in hand. They’d better counter it then, or the combination of Cavern of Souls and Aether Vial itself will make counters useless. This card is also what lets this deck survive at all against Blood Moon.
0x Metallic Sliver, Plated Sliver: The earliest slivers weren’t that powerful. We’re not missing much from being unable to use these.
0x Mindlash Sliver: I do wish this was somehow playable, but alas, it just wasn’t meant to be. You’re spending mana to 2-for-1ing yourself, unless your hand is empty, but even then this probably isn’t worth it. You don’t want to rip apart hands, you want to rip apart FACES. Doesn’t make the cut. Maybe one day we’ll get a better version of this that’ll be useful against control.
0x Screeching Sliver: If someone manages to make Sliver Mill good, let me know. It’s certainly not viable now given all the Uros and dredge.
4x Sidewinder Sliver: Now we’re talking! Costs 1 white mana, meaning it works with any of our non-Mutavault lands. Flanking essentially makes this a lord for combat only, but there will be places where the fact it gives others a minus instead of your own creatures a plus is relevant: opposing lifelink becomes less powerful, Ice-Fang Coatls die before they get to deal damage, even 1-toughness first strikers die before getting to deal damage. Flanking only works against creatures without flanking, but the only time that’ll come up in Modern is the mirror, and in that matchup this will essentially just be vanilla since it grants the ability to all slivers, not just yours.
0x Virulent Sliver: Maybe in the past you could’ve made the case for this. Maybe you could argue that in some very niche cases like against soul sisters or decks that can continuously pick off your lords, the poison will kill before the damage. Especially if you get multiple of these out. But nowadays our selection of one-drops isn’t quite that terrible, and we don’t have to use this.
4x Galerider Sliver: The best one-drop Sliver in most cases. Little to say, makes them unblockable to most creatures. Being able to block enemy fliers sometimes matters, but usually your playstyle is just HAHA TURN CREATURES SIDEWAYS, MAGIC IS THE WORLD’S BEST STRATEGY CARD GAME. If your opening hand has multiple one-drop slivers, you might want to drop one of the other one-drops first in order to bait the removal on that one. To use Sidewinder Sliver as a point of comparison: making your opponent’s blocking choices less optimal isn’t as good as taking away their option of blocking at all.
4x Striking Sliver: Now this is interesting. Most Sliver decks I’ve seen run 2 of both this and Sidewinder, but since this deck is meant to be faster and more aggressive, we want 4 of both. Especially since both of them are equally good against one-toughness blockers like Snapcaster Mage or Ice-Fang Coatl. Let’s compare them for interest’s sake. First Strike works on both attacks and blocks, unlike flanking, and you can Aether Vial the Striking Sliver in as a combat trick after blocks. Can’t do that with Sidewinder since flanking is a triggered ability. By contrast, Sidewinder Sliver is easier to cast given our mana base, works better as a combat trick in more cases (a 2/2 sliver with first strike blocked by a 2/2 successfully turns a trade into a win, while being blocked by a 3/3 fails to turn a loss into a trade; flanking succeeds for both) and as the slight nudge into superiority for me, flanking stacks. Also importantly, many of your opponents will not know that flanking stacks until after you inform them of this once they’ve already formally declared blockers. For me, flanking stacking makes it more valuable to get multiple Sidewinder Slivers as opposed to multiple Striking Slivers, and in most matchups if I’m boarding out 1-drops, I’ll start taking out copies of Striking before Sidewinder. Exceptions do exist: against 8-ball you will be very thankful for your 1/1 first striker that totally negates their single-toughness attackers.
Well I guess that’s all of them. Time to move on to-
2x Changeling Outcast?!: That’s right folks, you heard it here first. We’re this aggressive. We’re committing so hard to our lord and savior The Fast that we’re throwing in a couple of 1-mana unblockable changelings who will benefit from all pumps given to slivers. The fact they can’t block is hardly ever relevant in a deck that intends to do no blocking, and the unblockable clause makes this a clock that gets surprisingly fast once you have a couple of the two-drops down. Costing black mana means there’s only four lands in the deck that can’t cast it, making it a reliable first-turn play if you really have nothing else to put down, and they’ll let you win through a number of board stalemates. All of that said, these will usually be your first cuts when it comes to sideboarding. Not that they’re bad, just that everything else is better - these are essentially flex slots. Try them, and if you find them underwhelming, I have other suggestions in their stead for the two-drops. Do note, however, that this can make your curve a bit too high to be truly speedy.

The 2-Drops:

The reason this build works, and arguably the reason the whole tribe works, is that Slivers have such an abundance of 2-mana lords. (Basically, if you wish Rat Colony.dec was a good deck, play this. That's why I do.) They wind up buffing each other and creating monstrous attack phases in a short number of turns. The consistency is phenomenal since they’re all so interchangeable and redundant. Not all of them are created equal, but all of them will nonetheless serve you well in ripping people’s midsections open.
4x Unsettled Mariner: This time we’ll just get the one changeling out of the way upfront: this guy is good. 2 mana 2/2 makes it a reasonable rate for a body, and you can drop it early in place of a lord without actually losing much damage. Many opponents will be tunnel visioned on killing this in order to free up mana, which will also take up their removal that should have been saved for killing lords. It makes life noticeably harder for burn, 8rack, Jund as long as they have to let it live, and so on. An excellent addition to the deck from Modern Horizons, instant 4-of. Be sure not to forget that it doesn’t just prevent the spellcasting, but counters it as a triggered ability, so you won’t just have to correct your opponent that they’re unable to cast their spell given the mana they have like with Thalia - their spell is directly countered if they screw up. Also remember that the counter applies to spells that target your nonsliver permanents, such as land destruction, as well as to you! Delaying Cryptic Command for a turn is super helpful in the control matchup. Lastly, it applies to abilities as well. Planeswalker abilities, Fields of Ruin, Thought-Knot Seer ETB trigger, even Gifts Ungiven, all of it has to have extra mana paid or it does nothing.
0x Clot, Heart, Muscle, Talon, Winged, Acidic, Crystalline, Hibernation, Victual, Crypt, Hunter, Mistform, Quick Sliver: None of them are modern legal. The most unfortunate loss is Crystalline Sliver, which could be out here giving all of them shroud and thus making removal totally pointless. At least Unsettled Mariner does an acceptable impression.
0x Ghostflame Sliver: WHAT DO WE NEED TO BE COLORLESS FOR? GET OUTTA HERE COLORLESS BOY (might be fun tech against all is dust or ugin, but by that point you’ve already lost)
0x Spined Sliver: This is an interesting one to me, and I’ve come very close to running it. The 2/2 body makes it attractive, as does the ability acting similar to flanking. Two things contribute to it not being worth running: the fact that at the end of the day its ability is a worse flanking, and the fact that casting it is too awkward for the utility we get out of it. We need either Vial or two lands that can tap for any colour to get Spined Sliver out, and while we actually do meet that criteria the majority of the time, the minority is large enough to be worthy of consideration.
0x Two-Headed Sliver: It sometimes gets close to kinda viable-ish, but the fact it’s a 2 mana 1/1 that doesn’t pump itself as well as the fact that we already have several flying sources and a few unblockables in here means that this ability is very often pointless. You will feel the pain when it’s absent, and you’re unlikely to notice the pain of it being present and wishing it was something else, but trust me - the damage is there even if you don’t feel it. It’s not good enough for the main deck, and the sideboard has much more important circumstances to concern itself with than whether or not menace would be good in this matchup. We already run over most other go-wide decks, and are unlikely to lose due to a lack of menace.
0x Cautery Sliver: You just get so much more out of any given sliver from its quality of improving other slivers than you get from sacrificing them to ping stuff.
0x Darkheart Sliver: I legitimately believe this one can be viable. If you’re in a particularly aggressive meta, you can pull wins out of the extra life from this. Against burn, each sliver can directly cancel out a burn spell. Against Jund, you can respond to all removal spells by gaining some extra life. Sac everything in response to a boardwipe to buy time for your recovery, including dodging the exile clause on Anger of the Gods. Chump and sac before damage if you manage to be losing for some reason. There was a time when I ran a single one mainboard as a better game 1 against burn decks, and I wouldn’t fault you for running it as a one-of, though I now consider the loss of consistency for doing so to be a bit too much. Especially since Unsettled Mariner is already a card that makes it more awkward for your opponents to remove your slivers, you already have some protection from this angle.
4x Sinew Sliver: And now we’re off to the races! Drop it turn 2, cast it with an extremely easy mana cost for this deck, Aether Vial it in before damage to screw over opponents’ blocking decisions, pump your Mutavault, save creatures from damage spells. Sinew Sliver puts in a ton of work, and is easily one of the best cards in the deck. PUT IT DOWN, MAKE ALL YOUR SLIVERS RIPPED, TURN YOUR CREATURES SIDEWAYS, YOU CANNOT LOSE.*
\you can sometimes lose)
4x Frenzy Sliver: I don’t like Frenzy Sliver. I just don’t. It’s a 2-mana 1/1 that only adds power and only for unblocked creatures. Can’t even Aether Vial it in after blockers are declared. Sinew Sliver sparks joy. Frenzy Sliver does not spark joy. However, it’s very easy for this deck to cast and it comes close enough to being a lord for this highly aggressive list that it makes the cut as a 4-of. If you’re considering cutting two-drops for your sideboard cards, these will be among the first to go, unless your opponent plays so few targeted spells and abilities that Unsettled Mariner isn’t worth it.
4x Predatory Sliver: Yes… YEEEEEESSSSS! One-sided Sinew Sliver STRONK! Costs green instead of white, but being one-sided matters more often than you think, and not just for the mirror. Sinew Sliver will also be buffing opposing Mutavaults and Unsettled Mariners. Predatory Sliver is consistently a house against decks of all kinds, being cast turn 2 or being dropped by Aether Vial at instant speed to wreak havoc on opponents. Many question why one would even play Slivers when options like Merfolk and Goblins are available, and the answer is that we’ve already touched on 12 different damage-boosting 2-drop slivers, and we’re not even done!
0x Sentinel Sliver: Similar to Darkheart Sliver, I used to run this as a one-of and I’m quite convinced it’s viable depending on meta. Easy to cast, 2/2 body, and without being able to use the 3-mana lifelink sliver, this does a lifegain impression by allowing us to threaten blocks where we couldn’t before. That said, its benefit is situational and its presence raises our curve as well as potentially the need for more lands. I leave it out, but you wouldn’t be insane for including one if you have an aggressive creature-based meta.
0x Diffusion Sliver: Other Slivers players will maul me for this choice, but it comes back to how aggressive this deck wants to be. 2 mana 1/1s really need to earn their place, and this doesn’t quite do it, especially with Unsettled Mariner already present in the deck. Diffusion Sliver is an absolute house in more midrangey or ramp-focused sliver builds to protect the big boys, but this list doesn’t lean so heavily on any individual component, and it would typically rather draw another lord than a diffusion sliver. Especially when it’s already late game or when it’s trying to recover from a wiped board. So what I’m getting at is something you probably already knew: defense is for wimps.
4x Leeching Sliver: This is a better version of Frenzy Sliver. It still has many of the same problems, but the advantages of life loss as opposed to a damage boost are crucial: the life loss bypasses effects like Worship, isn’t prevented by Fogs, still applies even if the attacking creature is blocked, and the triggers can finish off a nearly-dead opponent even if they have enough creatures to block everything. 16 2-mana lords. This is why you play slivers.
0x Venom Sliver: This can work as a one-of if the stars align and you have an extremely weird meta full of big creatures that aren’t Uro and Kroxa. But in most metas the deathtouch just isn’t going to be useful enough. Your creatures should get big enough to kill with combat damage, and you’d rather have a lord instead of this to boost said combat damage.
0x Bladeback Sliver: Slivers that are tapping to deal direct damage aren’t benefiting from the 16 lords. We don't like your type 'round these parts.
4x Cloudshredder Sliver: Oh-HOOOOH, this thing is spicy. This absolute MADMAN acts as Galeriders 5-8 for much more consistent evasion, as well as haste. This is the quality it takes to let a 2-mana 1/1 that doesn’t pump itself be viable, and it earns its place unquestioningly. Seriously, this allows for absolutely ridiculous plays. Turn 1 Aether Vial, turn 2 Cloudshredder Sliver, Vial in Sidewinder Sliver and swing for 2, turn 3 Striking Sliver, Predatory Sliver, Vial in another Predatory Sliver, swing for 15, flying, flanking, first strike. There are many decks that just cannot handle this pressure, especially if they’ve already shocked themselves. If they Anger of the Gods now, they’ll still be low enough for you to rebuild and kill with a second wave later.
0x Dregscape Sliver: This may or may not be the correct choice. It’s what I’m currently using due to trying to avoid the unearth being a nonbo with a certain nightmare cat. No question that these are good, and might actually warrant a place here, but this specific build performs just fine without them. Like the other 0-but-viable slivers, you can play around with cutting the Changeling Outcasts for a couple copies if you wish.

The 3-Drops:

Why would anyone in their right mind play 3-drops in a non-ramp deck? This is modern. Format's too fast and degenerate for that, bucko.
With one exception.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den

The benefit for the restriction, besides the lower land count. We all know how awesome Lurrus is. Format-breaking monster.
“But u/Yaldev, companions got nerfed!”
You call that a nerf?! Now we can pay 3 mana, the same as its normal cost, but now it’s colorless, and then put it into play at instant speed and uncounterably with Aether Vial! Combined with the fact that the hardest abusers of Lurrus are now considerably less able to abuse it themselves, while it actually got better for us specifically, and I think there’s never been a better time to play this deck!
If you do feel like casting Lurrus from hand, it costs 1 colourless and two hybrid black/white, so even our non-5C lands can contribute to casting it. Also keep in mind that it’s totally viable to play your “name a creature type” lands and name Nightmare for the sake of being able to cast Lurrus, AND keep in mind that those lands will still be able to be used to pay for your changelings since they also count as Nightmare Cats. Fun!
Lurrus is such a boon for this deck, despite not being a sliver. It has lifelink, working well against burn and prowess. It lets you come back from a number of different boardwipes. It frees up the space that would have been taken up by Dregscape Sliver to instead get other utility and one-mana spells while still having access to reanimation. You can recur your sideboard cards if they get destroyed. This card is just so GOOD and I can’t believe that other Slivers players are so delusional that they think it’s worth it to trade off Lurrus for cards that cost THREE mana!
But what about Collected Company?
Collected Company is indeed one of the best arguments against a Lurrus build, but there are a few details I want to call attention to, one of which is the impact of both the mana cost and the coloured requirement. Including Collected Company demands a retooling of the mana base, reducing consistency in exchange for potential pop-offs that have a ceiling that feels good to pull off, but is typically overkill.
The other issue is one that doesn’t have as much attention paid to it: it increases how many noncreature spells you’re running. Despite the bans, we’re likely still looking at a meta with a dominant snow-pile control feel. A deck with enough Dovin’s Vetos and Force of Negations to spare. By making these cards practically useless by sticking to almost entirely creature spells, we deprive our opponent of resources.
All of that said, you actually could still play around with including Collected Company as well as Lurrus. Remember, Lurrus’s restriction only applies to permanents, not to instants and sorceries. It’ll just require retooling your mana base a bit, probably including another land or two and dropping some of the any-colour producers in favour of green lands, Silent Clearings go out for Horizon Canopies, and it makes you more vulnerable to Grafdigger’s Cage, a card that opponents will already be boarding in against you if they have it in order to deal with Lurrus. You also won’t get maximum value since you have no 3 drops to get. This is essentially 4 mana for 4 mana at most.
Slivers isn’t a solved archetype. Feel free to be a scientist, do your own experiments, add to collective knowledge of the Slivers Player Hivemind.


For this sideboard, I’ve opted towards going hard against specific decks rather than having few cards for everything. This is in part out of necessity, since our options for diversifying legitimately are limited: the Slivers that are worth including in sideboards are 3+ mana, and that leaves only colourless spells that cost 2 or less. We can’t go wide, so we have to go deep.
4x Chalice of the Void: BEHOLD THE FUNSLAYER. Chalice on 1 is your answer to all the decks you already know are reliant on 1 drops, including but not limited to:
To account for this, you’ll typically be boarding out some 1-drops to account for strong likelihood of them being uncastable, though even then, there’s still a good chance you’ll get to use them anyway. Aether Vial turn 1 will let you get them in without casting, while Cavern of Souls will make your 1-drops uncounterable by Chalice.
Also keep in mind the super spicy Chalice on 0, which makes life difficult for UR Free Spells, Cascade, any cheesy strats trying to be Cheerios in 2020, Prime Time (NO PACT 4 U), and once again, Ad Nauseam. 0 stops them from casting Lotus Bloom from exile!
Overall, I think Chalice is the deck’s best sideboard weapon. Do not run less than 4. It’s too valuable.
4x Dismember: Sometimes there are creatures you genuinely have to worry about. Stoneforge Mystic fetched Batterskull and you can’t handle it being played on turn 3. Goyf needs to die before it gets massive. Against other tribal decks, taking out a key lord can be more valuable than yet another 1-drop sliver on your own side. 4 life is a lot to pay, but often this card will save you more than 4 life, or prevent more than 4 life gained for your opponent, or just secure a win that could have otherwise been thrown into question. Also keep in mind that because your Silent Clearings tap for black, they can contribute to the Phyrexian mana cost to save a teensy bit of life.
4x Soul-Guide Lantern: This can easily be substituted for Tormod’s Crypt if that’s your preference. I just like the Lantern for the ETB exile so that it doesn’t have to be cracked as early just to get rid of a single problematic card in a graveyard. In any case, this answers dredge, Uro, Jund and so forth. Can also be sacced to draw if you simply must win the game before your opponent’s next turn and desperately need to hit something to secure that. As a bonus, it can be recurred with Lurrus as both repeatable grave hate and card draw.
1x Damping Sphere: In all likelihood you’ll want 2 of these if Tron has relevant presence in your meta, but for my own deck I prefer to keep it to 1. Nothing special here, it hits all the same stuff you’d expect, such as Tron, Storm and Prowess. The annoying thing about it is that you also happen to be one of the decks that wants to put out several spells per turn, meaning that Damping Sphere will be slowing you down as well.
1x Torpor Orb: In all likelihood you’d rather drop this to double up on Damping Spheres, but I find that in longer games, you’ll get a ridiculous amount of mileage out of this bad boy. Your deck has exactly zero ETB triggers, so you’ll miss out on nothing, while simultaneously gimping Snapcaster Mages, Ice-Fang Coatls, Soul Sisters, Squadron Hawks, Rangers and Ranger-Captains of Eos, Seasoned Pyromancers, Silvergill Adepts, Harbingers of the Tides, Merfolk Tricksters, Thassa’s Oracle, Champions of the Parish, Thalia’s Lieutenants, Detention Mages, Freebooters, Thought-Knot Seers, those god-awful “turn your lands into artifacts and then Reclamation Sage them” decks, and need I even mention blink strats?

Piloting the Deck:

In many games, this deck plays out in quite similar ways: Turn 1 sliver, turn 2 lord and swing, turn 3 another lord and swing with second mainphase one drop, turn 4 play 2 more lords and kill. May take an extra turn or two depending on their removal and how painful their manabase is. Seriously, it’s impressively fast, while also being impressively consistent.
Because the creature spells in your library curve out at 2, you’re perfectly fine with keeping a hand consisting of a single land and an Aether Vial. You can leave the Vial at 2 charge counters for the whole game, and even if by some freak of probability you never draw a second land, you can cast your 1-drops with the single land. At the same time, drawing more than one Aether Vial isn’t redundant for you, since there are a number of times when you’ll want to tick a 2-counter vial up to 3 for the sake of dropping Lurrus.
Note that in most games, Lurrus won’t even come out. Deck is 3FAST. It’s more of a possibly-turn-losses-into-wins sort of card. In games you were going to win anyway, it’s rarely necessary.
Deck’s fun. Sometimes you do actually have to think about the attacks you’re making. Sometimes you have to play around your opponent’s open mana meaning they very likely have something to pick off a lord. That can impact whether you’re still willing to attack with your 3/3 that’ll be brought down to a 2/2 into their blocker. Sometimes you have multiple lords in hand and you play the weaker one first to bait removal. I can’t realistically cover every situation, but I can offer some general advice:

Matchup Notes

This primer's already approaching the character cap for reddit, so here's a separate document for any hotties who've made it this far.

Conclusion (ft. Shameless Self-Plug)

Thanks for reading this, ModernMagic lurkers! Apart from wanting to give back to all the primer writers who've helped me smash face in Magic and other games through the years, I wrote this in order to get my writing in front of people's beautiful faces. If you like my style, feel free to check out my fantasy/sci-fi writing project at Yaldev. It's got weaponized cyborgs, undead dinosaurs, sentient paper airplanes, Horse Meat, lots of pretty art, and if you're a Vorthos flavour-geek you'll definitely be seeing how MTG influences the worldbuilding. Hopefully that's a good thing.
Feel free to post comments and discussion, I should be around to provide responses of questionable value.
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