How To Read Betting Odds: Guide to Understanding Odds

Esports Betting 2019

Welcome to eSportzBet, the Online Community of Esports Betting on Reddit. All the latest and hottest Sports, and Game News, like: - LoL Odds - CS:GO Betting Odds - Dota2 Betting Tips And Strategies, - Overwatch Odds 2019 Read Online Reviews: - How To Win In A Money Easily on Esports - Overview: Thunderpick CS:GO - The Pros Of Sports Betting - How To Choose The Best Sports Betting Sites - How Does Expectation Help Betting On Esports
[link]

AITA for ruining my brother in law's day with a purposeful fart?

BIL and husband co own a house that was passed to them by their father. We live in one half while BIL lives in the other. The only thing we share is the living room and kitchen, the rest is completely separate.
Lately BIL has been making odd comments about my ladylikeness. I am a down home back woods dirt under my fingernails still play in mud puddles basically wood rat of a woman. He's been cutting into hard labour chores I do and tells me he'll do it so I don't hurt myself/get dirty. He'll make positive comments when he sees me cleaning (lucky man!) and says things like "I've never seen you cook! You should cook more!" Note, he does not cook either. I like to look nice here and there. Whenever I do dress up and do makeup, BIL makes comments about how I should do it more often and I look super nice. He has said "dressing up for husband?"
All of these I shut down with "I do it when I feel like it," "I'm doing it for me," etc.
He is not a bad dude overall, hes actually a riot to hang out with, but it's little subtle things spread out and it digs at me as roommates do. Luckily we're moving soon.
Anyways, yesterday I belched in the kitchen because I thought no one was around. BIL pops his head in and jokes "have you ever thought about being more ladylike?" Now the tone is joking but the word "ladylike" is like my emotional tailgating car. Tailgating only makes the person in front slow down. Telling me to be ladylike makes me turn that shit way down. I have mad props to graceful and more traditional ladies if they like it, but I am not one! I say "nope!" and he replies "you should consider it" and leaves the room.
So this morning, I'm walking by the living room, BIL is watching the morning news, and I decide to grace the room with a big long fart. This is the just woke up and shit is moving fart. It is the fart that has been building all night. It is loud, it has vibration, and even in the tiny room it echoes. I'd honestly give it a good 9/10 it was a damn masterpiece.
I thought it was hilarious, immediately. BIL not so much. He proceeds to jump up and rage about how gross it was (fuck I've heard him blow out farts before) and how women shouldn't do that. Unfortunately by this time I am doubled over in tears because I can't stop remembering the fart and his rage has made it even funnier. He gets beyond mad and storms off to his bedroom. It's now 9pm and he is still enraged and hiding in his room. He says it was an asshole move (technically the truth?)
At first husband thought it was funny too but now since it's upset his bro so bad he's leaning towards maybe it was too much and too immature and that I should have just told him that he was being overbearing.
I feel like as a 37yo man, BIL should have known better than to think he can tell a grown woman how to behave. It probably would have been better to talk about it, but who pouts ALL DAY over a fart?
So, am I the asshole for solving problems with an asshole?
Edit: you all are making me cry laughing again. I'm showing my husband and he's come around.
Edit 2: every single fart story is killing me, I feel a tenth of my age right now.
Edit 3: just woke up to this, combing through comments and loving it. BIL came to me when I went to go make coffee and said I made him feel uncomfortable in his own house. I told him it's my house too, and I've seen him do the same unashamedly. He made a couple "but I'm a man" comments and I called it out as sexist. He asked me how it was and I asked how it was NOT. After a few back and forths he started to understand that he is not my husband, this is my house too, and I do not and will not ever meet his southern standard for a woman.
He wraps it up with "... I guess it was kind of funny," and stalks off. I left a coffee peace offering in the living room, where he is enjoying saturday morning programming without a violent crop dust. We're all going to make dinner tonight and have a family make up with hopefully no dinnertable farts (I have SOME standards)
All in all, pretty damn good end result. And I bet I will never hear "be ladylike" from him again.
Still reading EVERY comment, what a way to wake up. You all are a RIOT
submitted by whatabouttea to AmItheAsshole [link] [comments]

Rookie (SF) Rankings With Explanations

Tier 1
1 Joe Burrow, QB, 6'2/221, CIN (1.01)
Depending on roster need and team makeup, I would be fine taking one of the other tier 1 players above Burrow but Burrow is absolutely worth the #1 overall pick in any year. While he lacks elite arm talent, Burrow has incredible accuracy, poise, and mobility to manipulate the pocket. As a prospect, I prefer him to Kyler Murray from last year by a decent amount. CIN isn't the greatest situation from an organizational standpoint but they've assembled a decent amount of talent around him in AJG, Boyd, Higgins, Ross, and Mixon.
2 Clyde Edwards Helaire, RB, 5'7/207, KC (1.32)
Small, bowling-ball shaped runner with incredible contact balance, lateral agility, and pass catching ability. Has decent burst but lacks prototypical long speed and size. Pre-draft, CEH was my RB5 but he moves up here with the landing spot and draft capital. Even as my RB5, I was still a big fan of CEH and in KC he doesn't need to have bellcow type size in order to produce at a high level. His game vs Alabama my be the best game from any RB prospect this year.
3 Jonathan Taylor, RB, 5'10/226, IND (2.09)
My RB2 pre-draft, Taylor is right there with CEH in the top tier. Taylor is a huge RB that excels in a power rushing attack where he can use his combo of size and burst to explode into the second level. That's exactly what he gets in IND, the perfect landing spot for his skillset. Potential issues with pass catching usage may limit his ceiling a little but the floor is incredibly high.
Tier 2
4 D'Andre Swift, RB, 5'8/212, DET (2.03)
My pre-draft RB1 and the #2 RB drafted, Swift is a huge value right now in all the rookie drafts I've done. Even when on the field with Chubb and Michel as a freshman, Swift stood out as the best RB of the three. Ridiculous lateral agility to make defenders miss, great burst, fantastic receiver, and solid contact balance. The DET landing spot doesn't worry me as much as it seems to worry others. It's clearly below KC and IND (otherwise he'd be in tier 1) but he's tied to a very good, reasonably young QB and I like the offense as a whole with Golladay, Hockenson, MJ, and a solid OL. Kerryon does worry me, however, and there is some risk that Swift never take over as a bellcow.
5 Cam Akers, RB, 5'10/217, LAR (2.20)
My Predraft RB3 in the same tier as Swift and Taylor, Akers has all the tools you look for in a stud RB - size, violence, burst, contact balance, lateral agility, and pass catching. Moreover, he landed in a great landing spot in LA and received very good draft capital. This time last year people were describing the Rams as the best system for RBs in the NFL. Huge upside here for Akers' usage as a bellcow and he has the best opportunity of any of the RBs this year except for CEH.
https://gph.is/g/apb5eq6
https://gph.is/g/aKAbBy3
https://gph.is/g/4bB5Yen
6 JK Dobbins, RB, 5'9/209, BAL (2.23)
I really liked Dobbins coming out but had him a tier below Swift, Taylor, and Akers. Very solid runner in all areas but lacks an elite, defining trait. I really like the landing spot in BAL long term but there is concern about this year with Ingram plus I don't see the potential for much receiving usage with LJax. Really like the player and I'd be ecstatic to have him but I don't see him as the consensus RB3 as recent trends suggest.
7 Tua Tagliovola, QB, 6/217, MIA (1.05)
If you really need a QB I'm fine moving Tua to the top of this tier. Like Burrow, Tua lacks ideal arm talent but wins with his mobility and accuracy. While Tua has a longer track record than Burrow, he never put up a season like Burrow did last year. The injuries scare me and there are some question marks about how well Tua can go through his progressions - at Alabama there were a lot of first read throws. The situation in Miami is ok, I like the OL picks that MIA made but this is still a rebuilding team with a ton of holes.
Tier 3
8 Jerry Jeudy, WR, 6'1/193, DEN (1.15)
The best separator in the class, Jeudy reminds me of Stefon Diggs. Very pro ready WR with advanced releases off the line and route running. Phenomenal YAC ability with the ball in his hands. Knows how to manipulate his speed to set up defenders. Not a very physical WR and you won't see him making many contested catches. Situation isn't great with Sutton next to him but Lamb is in a similar touch squeeze so I'll take my preferred talent.
9 CeeDee Lamb, WR, 6'1/198, DAL (1.17)
The best playmaker in the class. Much better ball skills than Jeudy but lacks the quick twitch and ability to separate. Plus he faced easier competition and didn't have to deal with a lot of press coverage. While he's competing with a locked in WR1 in DAL, Lamb landed in an explosive offense with a young QB. Think he can be very productive as Dak's #2 target.
10 Jalen Reagor, WR, 5'11/206, PHI (1.21)
Loved Reagor pre-draft and he received premium draft capital in my favorite landing spot. Reagor immediately stands out when watching him. Extremely twitched up and explosive, Reagor separates as well as defenders struggle keeping up. Provides a deep threat but has also flashed the ability to make tough contested catches and good sideline footwork. PHI was my favorite WR landing spot in the class as I'm a big fan of that offense and Wentz and they have a huge hole at WR.
https://gph.is/g/4w8d3Lx
https://gph.is/g/4L5bpev
https://gph.is/g/ZPm5zPX
11 Justin Herbert, QB, 6'6/235, LAC (1.06)
I don't like Herbert as a player but this is the value play in superflex. Herbert has great arm talent and mobility but he had lots of easy reads at Oregon and consistently disappointed. Struggles out of rhythm and a little robotic as a player. Still, the Chargers situation is great and the top 10 draft capital should guarantee him a starting role for a while. Great value in drafts if you can get him at the end of the 1st.
Tier 4
12 Brandon Aiyuk, 5'11/205, WR, SF (1.25)
One of my favorite players pre-draft. Can win all over the field in a variety of ways - explosion out of breaks, YAC ability, deep speed, or physicality. Has the rare ability to come out of his breaks without losing any explosion. Love the draft capital and the landing spot is ok. I trust Shanahan and that should be a productive offense for a long time. Issues arise given the run first nature of the offense and competition with another great young WR in Deebo. Watch the Oregon game if you want to get excited.
https://gph.is/g/Zd75D5D
https://gph.is/g/4zqY3DK
https://gph.is/g/4AjblvO
https://gph.is/g/Z2mbxg7
13 Justin Jefferson, WR, 6'1/202 MIN (1.22)
The safest WR after Jeudy and Lamb, Jefferson should be able to step into the slot immediately and produce. If you want to lower your risk then pick Jefferson. He's very quick out of his breaks, creates consistent separation from the slot, very good YAC ability, and flashes contested catch ability. I don't see him playing outside and he's not as dynamic as other WRs in this class. Very good landing spot in MIN with Diggs' departure. Watch the Oklahoma game if you want to get excited.
14 Henry Ruggs, WR, 5'11/188, LVR (1.12)
The first WR drafted, Ruggs could be a great value where I have him ranked. Still, I love the WRs above him and I wasn't a big Ruggs fan coming out. Incredible speed and flashes some toughness and decent route running as well. Think he struggles with physicality and didn't separate as much as he should because he's a long strider rather than a compact, twitched up player. I think Gruden is going to feed him a ton of targets and thus could be very productive early on.
15 Laviska Shenault, WR, 6'1/227, JAX (2.10)
Absolutely love Shenault. Comp is Sammy Watkins. Great combo of size, physicality, explosivenes and YAC. Needs refinement but it'll be hard to keep his playmaking off the field. Biggest concern is injuries. His 2018 games vs Nebraska and game vs USC this year are great.
https://gph.is/g/apbqw33
https://gph.is/g/Z7ge57R
https://gph.is/g/46vO5Dd
https://gph.is/g/ZrdDloG
16 Tee Higgins, WR, 6'4/216, CIN (2.01)
Big WR with huge frame to extend himself for difficult balls. Timed speed was disappointing but had the ability to threaten deep at Clemson. Fantastic hands and advanced footwork. Risky as he struggles with physicality (he'll see a LOT more of that in the NFL) and not a great separator. Love the situation with Burrow and the draft capital.
17 Michael Pittman, WR, 6'4/223, IND (2.02)
Decent speed and explosion for his size, some YAC ability, fantastic jump ball catcher, huge frame which he uses to shield defenders. Landing spot in IND is good for the next few years with Rivers but some worries once Rivers leaves. Has a clearly defined role as the X WR and complements Hilton and Campbell very well.
18 Jordan Love, QB, 6'3/224, GB (1.26)
Probably the best value in SF leagues of all the rookies. I'm a big Jordan Love fan (especially at his price). Has jaw dropping arm talent and extremely mobile. Unlike Herbert, Love was asked to make extremely difficult plays and delivered. His issues aren't with accuracy but moreso decision making. He'll lock onto his first read at times and make incredibly stupid throws. I'm ok with the landing spot as I trust GB as an organization, however, he'll probably sit for a few years. Huge upside here.
https://gph.is/g/aKAgJje
https://gph.is/g/Z5YbQ36
https://gph.is/g/4L5bqK0
https://gph.is/g/aQO5gDA
19 AJ Dillon, RB, 6/247, GB (2.30)
Like Love, he's another amazing value in drafts this year given the depth and quality of the class. In any other year, a 2nd round RB with his size, athleticism, and production would be a top 5 pick but you can get him in the mid/late 2nd consistently. I didn't love the player coming out, but I recognized that he has the ability to be a big time producer if put in the right type of offense and that's exactly what happened in GB. I think his production this year has been undersold and with Aaron Jones' contract expiring next year, he'll likely take over as the RB1 in 2021.
Tier 5
20 Antonio Gibson, RB, 6/228, WSH (3.02)
Big upside low floor pick. Gibson is one of the most exciting players to watch in this class with his big play ability, size, and explosion. At Memphis he played mostly slot WR but he was a pretty shitty WR and his upside lies at RB. He has a lot of work to do as he doesn't know what he's doing yet as a RB but the traits are really exciting - contact balance + burst. Could be David Johnson if things hit right. Don't love the landing spot as I'm still very high on Guice plus there is still a question mark regarding how Washington plans to use him. If he's used as a Wgadget guy then I don't have much interest in him.
https://gph.is/g/ZOk5mNj
https://gph.is/g/EGgbr8M
https://gph.is/g/aeA5wDX
https://gph.is/g/aXJ53nR
https://gph.is/g/aKAb9z9
21 Denzel Mims, WR, 6'3/206, NYJ (2.27)
I was never as high as others on Mims and didn't get the round 1 hype. However, his combination of athleticism and ball skills are very exciting and worth betting on here. He's a very boom/bust type of prospect. Landed in a very good spot with a young, good QB in Darnold lacking a #1 WR.
22 Bryan Edwards, WR, 6'3/212, LVR (3.17)
Absolutely loved Edwards pre-draft and had him in my top 50 overall players. He's big, physical, explosive, versatile, and has fantastic ball skills. Landing spot is ok - the Raiders have a long term need at X WR but the team drafted Ruggs first so I think Gruden is going to prioritize Ruggs. Could be a few years before Edwards pays off.
https://gph.is/g/EJYbRne
https://gph.is/g/a99bdlP
https://gph.is/g/EGgb9Ml
https://gph.is/g/aRW5N7w
23 Zack Moss, RB, 5'9/223, BUF (3.22)
Very similar player as David Montgomery. Excellent contact balance, toughness, pass catching ability, plus some wiggle but lacks juice. If there is a crease it takes him too long to hit it. Still, pretty good value to get a David Montgomery level player at 2.12. Landing spot is ok and your feeling about it is dependent on how you feel about Singletary. I love Singletary so I'm not high on the landing spot but its very possible that BUF doesnt see Singletary as a lead back.
24 Ke'Shawn Vaughn, RB, 5'10/214, TB (3.12)
Didn't like Vaughn pre-draft and I was very surprised when he went this early. Vaughn is a solid all around RB that should be able to produce if given volume but I don't see any dynamic traits. Very much a replacement level RB. Still, TB has a potential opening at RB and the team spent good draft capital on him.
Tier 6
25 KJ Hamler, WR, 5'9/178, DEN (2.12)
Could easily have Hamler at the end of tier 5. Immediately stands out on film with his twitchiness and speed, defenders simply cannot hang with him. Don't see a huge difference between him and Hollywood Brown purely as prospects coming out. Effortless separation with his quickness and speed. Could be more valuable in real football than the NFL. Don't like the landing spot for fantasy as he's stuck behind two great, young WRs.
26 Chase Claypool, WR, 6'4/238, PIT (2.17)
Freaky player with his combo of size and athleticism. Great draft capital to a team that has consistently developed WRs. Massive player with explosiveness to put CBs on their heels quick. Biggest asset right now is his YAC - should immediately be a weapon on screens and crossers. Flashes ability to box out defenders but is not natural attacking the ball and lacks overall smoothness to his game. Landing spot is odd with JuJu and Diontae already in place, however, if JuJu leaves a lot of opportunity opens up. Watch the Iowa St game to get excited.
27 Van Jefferson, WR, 6'1/200, LAR (2.25)
I had a 3rd round grade on Jefferson pre-draft so I like the player. Projects as an NFL-ready slot WR with quickness and route running nuance. Got the best of LSU star freshman CB Stingley this past year. Odd landing spot as the Rams already have Kupp in the slot and I can't see either moving outside.
Tier 7
28 Darrynton Evans, RB, 5'10/203, TEN (3.29)
One of the most explosive players in this class, Evans is a threat to break off a big run at any time. With his lack of physicality and size, I don't see him projecting as a starting RB even if Henry leaves next year. Likely a career committee back.
29 Anthony McFarland, RB, 5'8/208, PIT (4.18)
Really fun, explosive player that should get on the field immediately. Like Darrynton Evans, I struggle seeing him taking over a feature back but should have a long term role given his explosivness.
30 Cole Kmet, TE, 6'6/262, CHI (2.11)
Not a very flashy or exciting player but projects as a solid starting NFL TE. The draft capital really helps and has a decent floor given his ability as a blocker. Think Kyle Rudolph type of career if he hits.
31 Adam Trautman, TE, 6'5/255, NO (3.41)
Big, physical TE that dominated small school competition and can win in traffic and over the middle of the field. Isn't especially fluid out of his breaks and doesn't project as a potential top tier TE. Really like that NO traded so much for him and I trust Sean Payton.
32 Devin Asiasi, TE, 6'3/257, NE (3.27)
If any TE in this class develops into a top tier fantasy TE, I wouldn't be surprised if it was Asiasi. Former high recruit that transferred to UCLA and didn't produce until his last season. He's smaller than Kmet and Trautman but he's just as good of a blocker and he's way more fluid than both. Really like the landing spot and draft capital as well.
33 Joshua Kelley, RB, 5'11/212, LAC (4.06)
This could be too low as the situation is phenomenal and draft capital is decent but I'm not high on the player. He's solid and can produce if given volume in a good situation (both very possible in LAC) but doesn't have any standout trait and looks like a replacement level player to me.
34 Lamical Perine, RB, 5'11/216, NYJ (4.14)
A better version of Joshua Kelley to me but in a worse situation. Very solid all round back that is a very good receiver. Lacks juice or standout qualities but solid overall. If Bell declines, leaves, or gets injured I think Perine could step in and surprise. Some worry about the Frank Gore signing.
35 Devin Duvernay, WR, 5/10/200, BAL (3.28)
Slot WR with strong hands and great ability with the ball in his hands but struggles to create separation out of his breaks. Should be great on screens and special teams.
36 Gabe Davis, WR, 6'2/216, BUF (4.22)
Big body WR with great physicality and decent speed/explosion for his size. Project player with some upside.
37 Joe Reed, WR, 6/224, LAC (5.05)
Really love the player, Reed is a twitched up YAC guy with RB type of size and ability with the ball in his hands.
38 JaMycal Hasty, RB, 5'8/208, SF (UDFA)
My favorite 3rd down/satellite back in this entire class, Hasty is lighting quick and explosive with great pass catching ability. If any team can turn a UDFA into a star it's Kyle Shannahan and there is a ton of opportunity in SF.
39 Darnell Mooney, WR, 5'10/176, CHI (5.28)
Deep ball threat with good production and CHI has a clear need for that type of deep threat.
40 Mike Warren, RB, PHI, 5'9/226, PHI (UDFA)
Not sure that I would actually draft him here but I wanted to get his name on the list. Really fun player to watch, he's like a 95% version of Zack Moss. Great size, awesome power, surprising wiggle and pass catching ability but lacks the requisite explosive qualities. I actually really like the landing spot in PHI as they do not have a bigger back to complement Sanders.
NOTICE THAT JALEN HURTS IS NOT ON THIS LIST. He'd probably be around #35 but I have him low enough to where I probably won't every draft him so I didn't include him on the list.
submitted by Chwf3rd to DynastyFF [link] [comments]

[Guide] A Deep Dive Into The Sleep Mechanism, And How To Stack The Odds In Your Favor

Preface
Over a month ago, a guy by the name u/Fueboomer did a series of BV runs with his Troublemaker 1 Ramos, including a 0-damage-taken BV Hall 30 run with Blue as the striker. He was the first person to recognize the potential of sleep, and more importantly he had the guts to invest in an underused 3-star boomer sync pair to test out a yet-to-be-proven strategy.
Fast forward to June 30, a higher being named Serena graced us with her presence. Her brokenness not only comes from her AOE sleep and accuracy buff, but also the fact that she's perfectly functional at 1/5. With her help, a skilled player like Fueboomer can clear the entire BV without taking any damage.

The Sleep Mechanism
Sleep is similar to flinch in many ways:
  1. The affected target cannot queue attack moves for a period of time
  2. If Hypnosis disrupts a queued attack move, the target will immediately queue a trainer buff if it has one
  3. A target that's already asleep cannot be hypnotized.
  4. The middle mon wakes up after its sync move
  5. There is a degree of randomness to the status duration, unless the target has Lessen Sleep 9. We will discuss sleep duration in detail in the next section.
  6. When all the enemies are asleep, they will queue trainer buffs following the action order discussed here - https://www.reddit.com/PokemonMasters/comments/gb8ahz/scoring_extra_turns_in_bv/
  7. The AI can actually queue its move BEFORE the icon disappears, which means you can't chain sleep by simply watching the icon and waiting. Instead, you need to queue at least one other move and follow with Hypnosis before the target awakes. We'll revisit this topic later in more details.
Knowing the similarities, we must also remember the major differences:
  1. Sleep cannot coexist with other statuses. Burned, paralyzed, poisoned, frozen targets cannot be hypnotized.
  2. Flinched targets CAN be hypnotized but will lose the flinch status.
  3. Hypnosis and Sleep Powder have a success rate of 75%. The rate is increased to 93.75% if you have Troublemaker 1.

Sleep Duration
As mentioned above, sleep duration is somewhat random. The only visual signal we have is the sleep status icon. Therefore knowing how to read the icon is the key to success.
As we know, the icon blinks when the target is preparing to wake up. Based on my observation, the blinking speed doesn't seem to be a linear function. Rather, it is divided into 3 phases, each with a different speed:
Phase 1: "I don't blink! Why are you staring at me!"
In this phase the icon doesn’t blink at all. This means the target isn't waking up anytime soon. It's worth mentioning that targets with Lessen Sleep 5 or above
  1. Sometimes the target(s) completely skip this phase.
  2. Even if hypnotized at the same time (i.e. by Serena's AOE hypnosis), different units will still have different (and random) sleep duration. (credit to u/El_Gabbar in the comment section)
Phase 2: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
This is the most important phase. The icon blinks at moderate speed. You need to keep a close eye on it. As u/u/Red1003493649 points out in this post, (and credit to u/zzladerp in the comment section), when no move is queued, the icon will blink exactly 16 times (Video recording: https://youtu.be/gJZoKWMB47w, watch Chandelure from 0:21 to 0:31). The duration of 16 blinks seems to be exactly 10 seconds. However, during a real battle, the duration is extended by certain animations that happened in-between (we will discuss this in detail in a later section.) However, if the target skipped Phase 1 completely, then the duration can become less, and the extent is completely unpredictable.
Phase 3: Fast and Furious
The icon blinks rapidly. It will blink exactly 5 times, for a duration of roughly a little less than 2 seconds, and then the icon disappears. For demonstration you can scroll to 2:55 of this video - https://youtu.be/jHtffgV1E6g and watch the icon on Gengar. But don't bother, because you don't need to remember anything about this phase. Why? Because the target can actually queue its move at the BEGINNING of this phase, not at the end when the icon disappears.

That sounds awful. So what now?
So here we are, the third phase is useless, and the second phase can sometimes be unpredictable (if Phase 1 is skipped). If you used to beat yourself up for messing up Hypnosis' timing, now is the time to treat yourself with a delicious cupcake because it wasn't your fault. Dena intentionally made it unpredictable so that we can't abuse this mechanism easily. However, this isn't the end. In fact, there are a number of things we can do to turn the tide in our favor:
  1. Instead of staring at 3 flashing icons and betting which unit would wake up first and queue the next move, we can instead tell the AI who should move next by KO'ing one unit. The next Pokémon to enter the field will 100% be the one to queue the next move, even if another unit wakes up during the field-entering animation. And if you are familiar with AI's action order, you know where this is going - we can KO all the Pokémon on one side, one by one. Then we hypnotize the middle Pokemon again because it's usually hard to KO. And then we proceed to clear the other side. Here's a demo: (https://youtu.be/mrTVx-fA8TE). Alternatively, if say you can't KO the next-in-line Pokemon, you can still attack it and follow up with Hypnosis. Check out this 0-damage-taken Hall 25 run by Fueboomer: https://youtu.be/3lh2ftC4q-4
  2. Take advantage of enemy units' trainer moves. Trainer moves are sort of a double-edge sword - they allow the enemy to reduce sync move countdown while sleeping, which sucks for us, but at the same time the buffs' animations are a blessing. If a unit wakes up during their own animation time, it'd have to wait for the animation to finish before it can queue a move. Poor little thing has to sit there while you move your finger over to the Hypnosis button. Ah, cruel fate!
  3. Intentionally allow the least threatening enemy sync pair to queue moves. For example, in Bewear's stage, Chandelure's Shadow Ball hits a lot harder than the two side mons' attacks. Therefore, you can aggressively chain sleep on Chandelure while ignoring the two side mons. Let them attack so you have time to observe Chandelure and put it to sleep when it wakes up.
  4. Queue Serena's move at the very last second. This is more of an extension to #2 and #3. The idea is to take full advantage of enemy attack/buff's animation time.
  5. Bring another disrupter, such as Agatha, or flinch user such as Acerola (demo: BV - https://youtu.be/3Arg5AZckKg, LA - https://www.reddit.com/PokemonMasters/comments/ho099v/cynthia_acerola_agatha_3v1_cobalion_without/ by u/wanderingmemory).
  6. Count your moves. Generally speaking, if an enemy just transitioned from Phase 1 to Phase 2, you can still safely queue about at least 2-3 moves. It's not absolute and it depends on how long your move's animation is. As mentioned above, you have 10 seconds + animation time to queue and execute moves. So you can do something like this: Striker attacks -> Striker attacks -> Striker attacks -> Tank queues a move -> Serena queues Hypnosis. This way, even if the target wakes up during your 3rd attack, it'll still be put to sleep before it moves. The risk is that it might also wake up during or right after your Hypnosis, which will break your sleep chain. However, do not attempt this, or at least be more conservative if the target skipped Phase 1 completely.
  7. Use moves and passives such as King's Shield and Endurance to tell the AI that all its struggles are futile.

Extending Sleep Durations
(Added on 7/12 based on conversation with u/zzladerp in the comment section)
Based on u/zzladerp's findings (see comment section), if the enemy experienced Phase 1, then it's Phase 2 duration can in fact be calculated. The formula is:
10 seconds + total remaining move animation times - (remaining last move animation time * (triggerpassive? + 1)mod 2)
Where,
total remaining move animation times is the time taken for rest of the move animations after 10 seconds of sleep. In scenario 1 and 2, this is just the remaining last move animation times since only 1 move will finish after the 10 seconds of sleep.
remaining last move animation time is the time taken for the rest of the last move animation after 10 seconds of sleep. For scenario 3, since the whole last move is going to be executed after the 10 seconds of sleep, then it’s just last move animation time
triggerpassive? is 1 if a passive skill(s) such as MGR, MPR, Recuperation, etc. will activate after the last move and 0 if not.
In other words:
  1. If only one move is queued by player (hence it is also the last move), and it doesn't trigger any passive, then it doesn't extend the sleep duration at all. Duration = 10 seconds
  2. Same conditions as above except the move does trigger a passive, then it extends sleep duration by its remaining move animation time
  3. If more than one move are queued by the player, the total remaining animation time of all moves before the last move will be added to sleep duration. The last move will follow the two principles above
Therefore, in theory, we can maximize Phase 2 duration by queuing 3 moves at the end of the first 10 seconds, and the 3rd move should preferably be able to trigger a passive. This way the target will only wake up after the 3rd move's attack animation finishes.
To put it into perspective, say our team is Torkoal/Lucario(with VW MGR)/Delphox, from the moment Phase 2 begins we can:
  1. Let Torkoal or Lucario attack several times, but make sure all animations finish in 9 or 9.5 seconds, and then
  2. Torkoal queues Ember -> Delphox queues Fire Spin -> Lucario queues VW with guaranteed MGR -> (After Ember's animation finishes) Torkoal queues another Ember -> (After Fire Spin animation finishes) Delphox queues Hypnosis
This way when the target wakes up it gets hit by another Ember and then gets hypnotized again. In other words, we can squeeze in 4 additional attacks 4 attacks (Ember, Fire Spin, VW, another Ember) in addition to the ones queued in the first 10 seconds, without breaking the sleep chain.

About Lessen Sleep 9
This only happens in LA, and I'll simply quote what u/Parallaxal said in this post:
As it turns out, the secret to chaining sleep vs an enemy with Lessen Sleep 9 is to be patient with re-queuing Hypnosis/Sleep Powder. You have to wait until just before the animation of the move following your sleep attack finishes. In this fight I looked for the shield animation of Entei's Light Screen to give me the signal to queue my next Hypnosis.
Edit: u/Red1003493649 mentioned in the comment section that:
About lessen sleep 9 for Entei I used Heat wave -> bullet seed -> hypnosis or Heat Wave -> Hex -> Sleep Powder, and at the end of Heat Wave's animation I could use hypnosis and it works 100% of the time.

About Lessen Sleep 8
(Added on 7/15. Credit to u/Red1003493649. See more details in the comment section)
In regards to targets with Lessen Sleep 8, I'll quote what Red1003493649 said in the comment section:
for lessen sleep 8 it is the worst : between 4 and 16 ! The only solution that I found is to use 3 moves and wait the end of the animation of the second move before to use hypnosis, for my Serena's team I use fire spin and heat wave for the two first move so the animation is long enough to sleep at 100%

By now, hopefully these techniques have cheered you up and restored your faith. But before we conclude there's one more thing I'd like to talk about. I call it gaining more by doing nothing:
If your team has move gauge issues, you can benefit from waiting when all enemies are asleep. Do this when:

Some Closing Thoughts:
Personally, I think it's a good thing that the sleep mechanism is complicated. Even for skillful players, it presents a challenge that's not easy to overcome. I find it very rewarding when I achieve a perfect run by using various techniques to incrementally increase my odds, and I hope this guide could help you achieve the same.
Thank you for reading this big wall of text. It took me a great many hours to put this together, but I owe many of my inspirations to many Reddit posts and YouTube videos, including but not limited to:

EDIT: updated post based on conversation with u/zzladerp in the comment section.
submitted by endurance12916 to PokemonMasters [link] [comments]

[Bloomberg] Day Traders Will Have Fun Until They Get Wiped Out

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-06-23/robinhood-traders-will-have-fun-until-they-get-wiped-out
One time when I was sitting in my college dormitory, I heard a whoop of joy from down the hall. My dormmate announced that he had just made $500,000 trading in the stock market, after having invested only a few thousand dollars. When I asked him how he did it, he grinned and simply said: “Call options.” I spent the rest of the day reading about how this marvelous financial instrument could be used to make a fortune in a day with just a small initial stake.
Of course, my lucky dormmate doubled down on his investment and ended up losing most of his money when the dot-com bubble burst a couple of months later.
This saga illustrates the danger of day trading, especially with leveraged instruments such as options. After the 2000 tech bust, day trading declined, but the coronavirus pandemic seems to be driving something of a renaissance. Goldman Sachs Investment Research reports that the percent of trading volume in the stock and option markets from small trades has increased a lot since January, while discount brokerage TD Ameritrade reports that visits to its website teaching people how to trade stocks have nearly quadrupled. Robinhood, a trading app that offers zero-commission trades and a simple, video-game-style interface, had 3 million new accounts opened in the first quarter. Half of its new customers are first-time investors. Many online communities are filled with the standard elements of day-trader culture -- stories of fabulous fortunes gained, hot tips, trading systems and theories and so on.
Coronavirus probably isn’t the only reason for the boom in day trading. Brokers realized that they could offer zero-commission trades and make up for it with interest earned by lending out their cash balances. Mobile apps made trading easier and more fun than ever, and allowed new traders to start off with small amounts of cash. A new generation of speculators has no painful memory of the dot-com bust.
But whatever the reasons, the new day trading mania is not likely to result in a happier outcome than the last one. There are many theoretical reasons and a wealth of empirical evidence to suggest that most day traders are wasting their money.
One of the most important concepts in finance -- and yet seemingly one of the hardest to understand -- is that there are two sides to every trade. For a day trader to make money, someone else has to lose money. In the most optimistic case, the loser could be a normal person who needs to put money in or take money out of their retirement account, and who therefore doesn’t worry much about the price at which they buy or sell. But most trades are not this. Instead, day traders are usually buying and selling either from each other, or from algorithms programmed by skilled, experienced financial professionals. If it’s the former, their trading is a zero-sum game. If it’s the latter, human day traders are very likely to lose because the people who program trading algorithms are typically very smart, and their computers can spot market-moving developments faster than people can. This is why professional human traders have been increasingly driven out of the market.
A related problem is the idea of slippage. Day traders might think that because they’re paying zero commission, their trades are free. But when a day trader places an order, a trading algorithm somewhere quickly figures out that they want to buy or sell, and raises or lowers the price accordingly, so that the day trader gets a less favorable price.
Another reason day trading is a bad idea is that people often fail to understand when they’re winning and losing. If the market as a whole goes up (as it has recently), many stocks will be winners. That can make a day trader feel like they won, even if they would have made as much or more money if they had simply bought an index fund and held onto it. This is especially true right now, when correlations between stocks are very high -- in this case, meaning many stocks are rising or falling together.
Finally, day traders often don’t understand the amount of risk they’re taking. Call options of the type my college dormmate bought, for example, are a form of leverage -- you might make fabulous riches, but you’re very likely to lose your money. One young novice investor tragically committed suicide after seeing his account generate large losses; though he probably misread the account statement, this incident drives home the point that investors may not be prepared for how much money they can lose with the trades they’re making.
A large amount of empirical evidence confirms that most day traders lose money. A very large 2004 study of Taiwanese day traders, for example, found that more than 80% lost money. A tiny number -- about 0.03% -- earned consistently large profits, but the odds of possessing this kind of skill are slim. Most studies of day traders in the U.S. and Finland yield similar results -- a few traders are consistently good, but most lose out.
Day trading might therefore be a fun way of gambling for those who are locked inside waiting out the pandemic. But if regular Americans start betting large amounts of their money on individual stocks and options, they’re courting financial ruin. If you want to day trade, the best thing to do is to bet only a small percent of your money to learn whether you’re one of the few who has the skill to beat the market. Day trading should be treated like an expensive video game, not like a way of getting rich quick.
submitted by jayatum to investing [link] [comments]

Bets and Bravery: Chapter 985!

You know what really grinds my gears? People ditching waifus they liked one season for another they fell for in another anime season. This utter lack of waifu loyalty simply disgusts me. And that's why I'm grateful One Piece is year-round so that seasonal waifus don't distract us here.
Hrm? What's that? There was an oni girl with light-and-dark hair revealed in the latest One Piece chapter? Sorry, Pudding, but I've gotta go!

Links

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, and everybody in between, welcome back to...

Bets and Bravery!

Welcome one, welcome all, we're glad to have you! If you're new to Bets and Bravery, B&B is a weekly thread on this subreddit where users bet with fake currency, the Beli from in-universe, on what they think will happen in each week's chapter in a series of bets made by yours truly. I keep track of everyone's money in a giant Google Sheet, which is available in the links above. So, if you're new, enjoy your time! But, if you're a regular on this thread, we're glad to see you back at OnePiece's unofficial official pasttime!
I hope you've all had a good week so far with whatever's been happening in your lives. If you haven't had such a good week so far, I'm wishing the best for you and hope I can brighten your day even a little bit with this post.
Before we get started, let's refresh your memory of last chapter to get you back on betting track!

Last Time on One Piece

So let's talk about that chapter.
In proper anime fashion, Page One and Ulti immediately get up completely unscathed from a big attack from our heroes and begin their chase after Luffy and Yamato. Meanwhile, Yamato fends off Luffy's attacks while trying to get him to come along and listen to Yamato's pleas, eventually managing an escape from the scene. Blending in alongside Kaido's men are numerous Kozuki samurai, Nico Robin, and Jinbe, who all decided having a quick drink would be more important than saving Momo from being executed. At the backside of the mountain, Law and the Heart Pirates' Bepo, Shachi, and Penguin use Law's room to teleport to Onigashima's rear shore alongside the Scabbards who stowed away on their ship. Meeting them at the back entrance are Nekomamushi, who now sports a gun on his hand to finally match the cat he was based on, Marco, who immediately dips as though his job at Wano is done, and Izo, who reunites with Kiku for the first time since leaving with Whitey-chan. Kaido and his All-Stars take the stage at Momo's execution to announce the "New Onigashima" Project, but more importantly we finally get some Short King representation with the man, King, himself, as he barely even reaches Kaido's shoulders. Back inside the castle, we learn that Yamato has become a devout Christian and devoted himself to the only God in the One Piece World, Enel Usopp Kozuki Oden, adopting his ideals after witnessing his execution and later discovering his journal. Then, what happens next shocks the world, Oda finally introduces another monster girl waifu in Kaido's oni daughter, Yamato, who declares her joining Luffy's cause.
With that out of the way, let's get right into the real meat of the thread...

Chapter 985 Betting

The Bets of the Week

Bet 390

Making their surprise entrance at the Roast of Kozuki Momonosuke, which frankly was pretty disappointing so far with the biggest stingers being "this little whelp" and the classic "your dad's dead" jokes from Orochi, were Kaido and his All-Stars. Before entering the stage, Kaido asked where Linlin was, only to be informed that she was on her way there despite the very clear dramatic irony in that we know she's too preoccupied with her daily prayer to GoD Usopp to do so. Despite this clear plot hole from Oda, Kaido and his commanders take the stage, deciding to liven up the execution with an exciting announcement.
The "New Onigashima" Project!
Yep, that's all we get. Oda's blue-balled us again by cutting away to a different plotline. But this project of Kaido's could end up being something massive. Considering the Beasts Pirates already know about the Yonkou Alliance between Big Mom and Kaido, it couldn't just be a simple restatement of the fact. And the name's suspect too, "New Onigashima", what does it all mean? Considering Kaido asked for Big Mom, it possibly has something to do with her or her family please not another marriage, Oda. I don't want a repeat of WCI's plot nor could I handle romance when I'm dreadfully single. Either way, you all know the drill by now. Dear audience, what exactly is the "New Onigashima" Project?

Bet 391

Having breached the ocean currents around the wintry backside of Onigashima with the Polar Tang, Law, his most-trusted subordinates, and the Scabbards aboard the ship have finally reached Kaido's back door. Joined by Izo and Nekomamushi, the Scabbards have almost reunited completely for the first time in decades, and their goal of reclaiming Wano by killing Orochi and Kaido is within their grasp. The problem is, there's two pathways at Onigashima's rear, and Law believes the one up top "has to be the way to Kaido". Knowing Oda, that's probably not true, and it's especially unlikely that this plan will actually go off without a hitch.
With swarms of Beasts Pirates all over the island, multiple branching pathways, a hefty surveillance system, Neko and Inu actually having to work together, and One Piece's curse against plans working as intended, there are plenty of obstacles preventing smooth sailing. Dear audience, will Law and the Scabbards be able to reach Orochi and/or Kaido without any troubles?

Bet 392

What's that? A new character has appeared in One Piece, is working parallel to or with the heroes, has a unique design, a backstory, and a dream that can only be fulfilled by working with the Strawhat crew? I guess it's time for another one of these bets, so without further ado, let's get right into it.
Having witnessed Oden's execution 20 years ago, Kaido's daughter Yamato decided to carry on the deceased Kozuki's will. Finding his journal from his voyages at sea and adopting his style, Yamato became the Oden she so admired. She clashed with Ace years ago when he reached Wano himself, she wants to open Wano to the world at large, and she wants to join the Strawhat Alliance to make those ends come to fruition. Is Yamato's role temporary, or will she truly follow in Oden's footsteps and go out to sea just like he did once he found a suitable pirate crew? Dear audience, will Yamato join the Strawhat crew?

Bet 393

This bet is where you can bet how many pages Chapter 985 will feature!
Note: Shounen Jump covers, fan art pages, or translator note pages from early scans or the official release are not counted here. Double page spreads are counted as two separate pages. Color pages and color spreads are counted. Cover story serials and fan-requested cover pages are counted.

Bet 394

Our final bet this week is about the main focus of this week's chapter! The chapter may cover multiple storylines, in which case, the correct answer will be whichever storyline the chapter gave the most attention to in terms of pages or panels, should it get that close!

Weekly Mini-Game

As is customary when I have no clue what the next chapter's going to be about, it's time for your regularly scheduled panel mini-game! Dear audience, I want you to guess how many panels will make up Chapter 985!
Guess 100% correctly on this, and you'll receive a whopping 1,500,000 Beli! If nobody guesses correctly, the closest answer receives 750,000 Beli! If multiple people guess correctly or are evenly close to the correct answer, the bounty is evenly split among them to the nearest 1,000 Beli!

End of Chapter 985 Betting

And with that, we've come to the end of another exciting week of Betting and Bravery! I hope you enjoyed what we had this week, as I enjoyed making B&B for you!
Now, please listen to the following tutorial on how to play:
I can tell that you are very good at gambling... and you haven't even bet your hardest yet!!
200K on 390D!
500K on 391B!
10M on 392A!
2M on 393B!
250K on 394B!
74 panels for the WMG!

Notes and Reminders

Thanks for Participating!

thanks to everyone out there who dropped by to read this thread, whether all the way through, just skimming, or just dropping by to see what this thread was. I'm truly grateful you all come by and support my work here as much as you do, so thank you. I hope I can keep living up to your expectations as host!
I wish you all good luck on this week's bets, and I will see you all back later this week after the chapter drops and the results thread is out for you all to see how you did! Until next time!
-MADKITTIEZ
submitted by MADKITTIEZ to OnePiece [link] [comments]

An interesting 100NL spot.

Hey guys. This is going to be a very short hand review as the details of the hand are really straightforward. At the time I played the hand I was happy with the way I played it but, after looking back, I'm not so sure anymore. For the record, this hand was played in a private club on a poker app (for those who will be factoring population tendencies into their advice) and I have a fair amount of history with this player so I had a lot of trust in my reads.
We're 155 BB effective. I pick up 8c8d in the CO and I make it 3BB. A very tight player in the BB 3! to 12BB. His range is basically QQ+ and MAYBE AK. I call to set mine.
Flop (pot ~24BB): 9c7s6s
BB leads for 20BB. My suspicions are basically confirmed that this guy has a big pair or maybe sometimes AsKs. I am almost 100% sure that he will bet again on the turn if I flat (the dude always bum rushes the pot with overpairs even on the scariest textures). I think for a moment and elect to flat. My logic here is that, since I'm SO sure that my opponent has an overpair, I would be flatting all of my sets and 2-pair hands here and looking to jam on him when he barrels on most turns. So my plan was to do exactly the same thing with this hand as it's one of only a small handful of bluffs I can have. Thoughts? Should I have raised this flop to try to take the betting lead so that I could jam the turn myself?
Turn (Pot ~64BB): 9c7s6s4c
BB barrels for 40BB. Hero? The funny thing about this situation is that I'm getting damn near direct odds to just call and try to hit one of my 10 outs. The problem is that whenever I hit one of my 10 outs the board will just be ridiculously connected so I'm not all that sure how likely it is that I will get paid off when I get there. On the flip side though, with him betting 2/3 pot here on the turn he'd be getting 2:1 on a call if I jam so I'm not sure how much fold equity I have. So what's the play here?
Results: I jam for 83 BB more. V tanks and calls with AcAs. I brick the river and he scoops. Looking back, I think the EV difference between calling/jamming/folding was actually really small. That's got me second guessing whether I played the flop correctly.
Thanks in advance.
submitted by Connman8db to poker [link] [comments]

What do you mean it goes boom?

Captain Thraxos perused the ship manifest one more time. There was a late entry to join the convoy to Cycria. Cycria was a remote world and had been having a pirate problem with merchant traffic attacked several times over the past two years. As the pirates had got more bold the situation had become untenable and the Galactic Federation had to finally do something about it.
Thraxos was the captain of the light cruiser GFN Duhrel and he had been tasked to escort a merchant convoy from Dilolla to Cycria as deterrence to the pirates. He did not relish the assignment to babysit a motley fleet of civilians, but as GalFed captain he went where he was ordered to.
The final ship to join the convoy was the IMS Antelope. A Human merchanter that had been berthing here at Dilolla even before Thraxos had arrived. Apparently they had had some difficulty in securing new cargo to take on board and looking at the ship’s specs Thraxos could not blame anyone for not wanting to put their valuables on board this old rustbucket. But Cycria was not exactly a prime destination and apparently someone had been desperate enough to contract the Antelope to ferry their cargo to Cycria at the last minute.
IMS Antelope was an Independent Merchant Ship, owned and operated by her captain Robert Nele. Even her designation was thoroughly Human. The Humans had some of the most stringent licensing requirements to own and operate starship class drives which basically put them out of reach of civilian individuals. So, in turn, the independent merchanters had banded together and founded the Independent Merchant Ship company which held the licenses for the starship drives operated by their members with minimal interference from the company itself.
Thraxos scoffed, but the Humans were an upstart species. Perhaps it was for the best that not just anyone could get their hands on potentially volatile technology. That showed more responsibility of them than Thraxos had heard based on their reputation.
The Antelope herself was almost 60 years old and looking through her log she had mostly been operating within or near Human space. This was as far as she had ever been from home. Still, for all the tarnish on her hull, she had passed her latest spaceworthiness inspection only six months prior.
She was one of the weirdest looking ships Thraxos had ever seen. She was basically a lattice spine on which standard cargo containers were mounted like grapes on a vine. Front end had habitation and docking, the back end had its large engine, ending on a flat plate mounted on what looked like pillars. Curious.
Thraxos studied her engine specifications. Her main engine was of type Thraxos had never even heard of before, something the Humans called ‘orion’ type nuclear pulse thruster and with her mass, impulse and thrust she would be by far the slowest ship in the convoy, only barely scraping over the acceptable lower limit. Her jump engine likewise was an antiquated Type-I, only barely able to do the jumps required for this route. But she was over the bar so Thraxos had to grudgingly accept her to the convoy.
Slightly annoyed, Thraxos sent the engine specifications to his astrogator to have their course and time estimates recomputed to match the Antelope’s slow speed. Then he fired off a message to all ten ships in his convoy to prepare to unberth and meet at the system’s jump point in twelve hours.
At the start of next morning’s shift Thraxos entered the bridge to relieve the nightshift watch officer. It would be two hours until their scheduled jump off time, plenty of time to undock and make their way the 50 000 kilometers over to the jump point.
Captain Thraxos turned to the operations officer of the previous watch. “Anything interesting going on?”
Lieutenant Commander Tarkran shrugged. “Just the Humans, sir. The Antelope cast off six hours ago and has been slowly making their way to the jump point using manoeuvring thrusters only.”
Thraxos was taken aback. “What? Why?”
Tarkran shrugged again. “No idea, sir, but they’ll be arriving at the jump just before the scheduled time.”
Captain Thraxos just shook his head. “Alright, thanks. I have the bridge.”
Tarkran nodded and announced, “Captain has the bridge.” Tarkran turned and left as Thraxos sat down on the command chair.
Captain Thraxos waited for the other stations to complete their watch handover and then turned to communications. “Lieutenant Coccols, request undocking.”
“Aye, sir.” the comm officer responded.
Thraxos then turned to the astrogation officer. “Lieutenant Ulan, please prepare a course plan to take us to the jump point after we’ve moved past the station’s safety perimeter and execute once we have undocking permission.”
Next Thraxos glanced over his executive officer sitting at the operations station. “While we’re en-route, prepare a convoy placement assignment for each ship according to the exclusion zones of their engines. I want us to be in the middle. Hopefully the pirates will think we’re just another fat merchantman until it’s too late.”
Commander Nivek nodded. “Aye sir. I think I can nestle us between GMS Aelat and IXS Naholl. I’ll have to see what we can do with the human ship.”
“Very good.”
Lieutenant Coccols turned around. “Sir. Undocking clearance granted, we have 1 minute window.”
Captain Thraxos nodded. “Lieutenant Ulan, undock and execute.”
“Aye, sir.”
There was an almost imperceptible shift as the GFN Duhrel unlatched from the station and then pushed itself away from station’s bulk using its manoeuvring thrusters. After thirty seconds they had cleared the station perimeter and they were able to engage their fusion drive. Even at the minimal power that was allowed to be used near stations, it would only take them about 30 minutes to reach their designated staging point.
“Ummm… Captain?” Commander Nivek interrupted after a few minutes. “Have you looked at the exclusion chart for the Human ship?”
Thraxos furrowed his brow. “No, why?”
Commander Nivek hesitated for a moment. “I think you should.”
Captain Thraxos called up the schematic of the Human ship on his terminal. It was still one of the ugliest ships he had ever seen, but he wasn’t here to judge a beauty contest. He switched the overlay layers to the engine exclusion zone.
“What the fuck?” he exclaimed.
For most ships the exclusion zone was a cone behind them a few degrees wide. For IMS Antelope it was a whole half sphere and then some, covering just under 200 degrees of arc and extending all the way to 5000 kilometers, with an advisory zone all the way to 20 000 kilometers.
“I think I know why they’re limping out there with their manoeuvring thrusters only.” Commander Nivek posited. “There’s no way they could have fired up that drive anywhere near the station.” After a moment he continued. “I think the only place we can put them is as the last ship in the convoy with nobody behind them.”
Captain Thraxos shook his head in disbelief. “Do they have a completely unshielded reactor back there or something?”
“I don’t know, I’ve never seen anything like this, but it must be by design and approved, since they’ve passed their inspections.”
Thraxos sighed. “Well, transmit the assigned relative positions to all ships and manoeuvre us into position to wait for them.”
The convoy of all ten merchant ships had taken up their positions around the cruiser GFN Duhrel with the IXS Ikol at the front and IMS Antelope at the rear. All the ships slaved their jump engines to the control of GFN Duhrel and in concert they tore a hole in reality that whisked them to another starsystem a dozen light years away.
The system the convoy appeared in was uninhabited, a puny red dwarf with only a catalogue number as its name. They would then have to traverse the system to the next jump point that would allow them to jump to the next star in the chain to Cycria.
Most of the time in traversing the galaxy was spent moving from jump point to jump point within each starsystem. Some systems were lucky and their jump points were close-by, others had them far apart and it took a long time and a lot of Δv to traverse. The locations of the jump points and where you could jump from them depended on the background arrangement of the dark matter permeating the galaxy which warped the extra dimensions of spacetime.
The convoy would have almost a week ahead of them to traverse to the next jump point in this system, and just over two months to reach Cycria.
Captain Thraxos looked over the monitors and concluded that everything was in order. “Lieutenant Ulan, plot a course to the next jump point.”
The astrogator glanced over. “Already laid in, Captain. Ready to execute on your command.”
“Very good Lieutenant.” Thraxos acknowledged with pleasure. “Signal the convoy to get underway and execute.”
Ten of the ships in the convoy each fired up their fusion torches of various sorts and the convoy started moving, but then behind the eleventh ship, the IMS Antelope, something exploded with nuclear fury.
“CAPTAIN!” Sensor officer Birrai shouted. “The engine of the Antelope just exploded!”
“What?” The captain looked up. Just his luck that the Human rustbucket would have a catastrophic engine failure immediately upon firing up that lethal engine of theirs. “Signal all stop!”
Just as soon as the fleet had started moving the torches died down as each ship ceased accelerating.
Thraxos hit transmit button on his terminal. “This is captain Thraxos of GFN Duhrel to IMS Antelope, do you require assistance?”
Thraxos looked at the sensor scan on his screen as he waited for their reply. At least there didn’t seem to be much debris. Hopefully the Humans didn’t have many casualties.
A calm, if slightly confused, voice came on the speakers. “This is IMS Antelope. Uh, negative on assistance. Why, what is the problem?”
Captain Thraxos looked at his sensor officer, who just spread his arms. Then back to the sensor display, until he finally hit transmit again. “Duhrel to Antelope, did you not just have a catastrophic engine failure?”
“Um. Oh!” There was a sudden realization in the voice on the radio. “Negative Duhrel. That was the detonation of our 50 kiloton nuclear propulsion charge.”
“50 kiloton propulsion?! YOUR SHIP SHITS OUT NUCLEAR BOMBS!?” Captain Thraxos immediately regretted his lapse in decorum, but the sheer insanity of the idea had caught him completely off guard.
“Affirmative Duhrel. Apologies for the confusion. The shaped nuclear charges are used to push against the driveplate at the back of the ship which transfers the momentum imparted to the ship through a staged shock absorber assembly.”
After the convoy had gotten over the shock of the Humans’ propulsion system the rest of the voyage to the jump point had passed quietly. Or as quietly as a fleet trailing a stream of nuclear explosions can go. As had the second and third jumps.
When the convoy appeared in the fourth system on the route, another nondescript nameless star, things rapidly went south. Before the convoy had a chance to start moving a warhead detonated half a million kilometers away from the jump point.
Three pirate cruisers brought up their EM suites and aimed their targeting radars at the merchant convoy. The pirates were well poised about to catch any merchants that chose to try to flee, with each pirate able to cover a large part of the possible trajectories.
An ultimatum was transmitted on all the universal emergency channels. “This is captain Qauk’ats of The Blood Raiders. Stand down your ships and prepare to be boarded. Any resistance will be met with lethal force.”
Captain Thraxos considered his options. The Federation Fleet Command had not anticipated this heavy pirate presence. The previous raids had been performed by single ships each. His light cruiser might be able to take on two of the pirates, depending on how well they were equipped and trained, but all three would be too much. Especially when they were spread out like this, so he would not be able to concentrate his point defences in any single particular direction.
On the other hand he had not yet betrayed that GFN Duhrel was a warship. His ship had been chosen for this because it was roughly the correct size to pass as a medium merchantman. Could he use this to his advantage somehow…
“Lieutenant Coccols, signal the convoy to stand by. Comm laser only, let’s not tip our hands yet.”
Captain Thraxos prayed that none of the merchanters would panic and start running, he was only one ship, he couldn’t be in two places at once to protect everyone.
“Lieutenant Commander Birrai, use passive scanners only. Limit actives to equipment a merchantman could realistically have. Go loud on sensors only if our cover is blown.”
Thraxos was stalling for time and he knew it. He needed something to give him an extra edge somehow. Something, anything. Just one way to neutralize one of the pirate cruisers to even the odds.
On the screen vectors appeared showing the pirate ships starting to accelerate carefully towards the convoy since the convoy seemed to be capitulating. Whatever he comes up with he would have to come up with quickly.
Then the comm officer piped up. “Captain, we have a laser message from IMS Antelope. Captain Nele wants to talk with you.”
Thraxos sighed. Great, he didn’t have time to babysit a panicking merchanter right now. “Signal them to just stand by.”
Few moments later lieutenant Coccols replied. “He’s being very insistent, sir.”
“Fine.” Thraxos grumbled. “Put him on my monitor.”
Captain Thraxos waited until on his screen appeared the image of a middle aged human wearing a black collared suit with a white shirt underneath and a tie around his neck. On his head he had a white hat with a black visor. On the hat was a golden patch with a stylized antelope rimmed with golden stylized ropes.
“Captain Nele, what do you want?” Thraxos tried to hide the annoyance in his voice, but it still leaked through. “We’re kind of busy right now.”
Captain Nele ignored his tone. “Captain Thraxos, I’m sorry to interrupt, but I have a suggestion. Am I correct to assume that three pirate ships are too many for you to handle?”
Thraxos hesitated.
Nele sighed. “Captain, this is no time for ego. Is it so?” He looked at Thraxos with stern eyes. “Because if it is, then the Antelope can take on one of them.”
Thraxos’ eyes widened. “What? No, out of the question!”
“Captain, the Antelope’s driveplate is designed to withstand repeated nuclear explosions with minimal ablation. It is tougher than battleship hull. And I bet the pirates don’t know that our ship ‘shits out nuclear bombs’ either as you so eloquently put it.” Nele glared at Thraxos. “I’m not planning to die today after a failed last stand, so one more time: do you need help or not?”
Thraxos glanced to the side. As much as he didn’t want to admit it, he did need help. After an agonizingly long moment he turned back to face the other captain. “Yes. You’re right. We can probably take on two, but not all three of them.”
Nele nodded. “Alright. So here’s what I have in mind...”
The control room of the merchantman was spartan compared to the bridge of a warship. Captain Robert Nele was standing next to the sensocomm station looking at the radar plot. His heart raced and he hoped he wasn’t about to do something completely stupid. He glanced around and he knew that the rest of his crew felt the same. But they had to at least try.
He breathed deep once and then exhaled. “Alright Terri, jettison the cargo containers. Arkady, use the azipod thrusters and lets make like bat out of hell.”
The engineer, Terri Grove, hit buttons on her console and a series of thumps echoed throughout the ship. “All containers released.”
Helm officer Arkady Stachowiak used the translation joystick to pull the ship backwards out from between the containers that were now lazily floating in space. “We’re free.” Then he turned the ship to a new heading and fired the azipod manoeuvring thrusters at full. “Batting out of hell.”
The azipod thrusters could be turned to allow the ship to accelerate in almost any direction. They were meant for use near ports for both manoeuvring and mobility where the Antelope couldn’t use her main nuclear pulse engine. Because of this the azipods were unusually powerful for a ship of her size and with the Antelope shed of all her cargo they could give her pretty decent acceleration.
Niels Becker glanced up to the captain standing next to him. “Radio from Duhrel.” He pressed a button to put it on the loudspeakers.
Captain Thraxos’ voice sounded frantic as he yelled at the Antelope. “Get back here Antelope! Didn’t you hear what they said!”
Robert shook himself to get into character. Then he pressed a button on Niels’ station and shouted back in panic. “Fuck that shit! I’m getting the hell out of here! It’s every man for themselves!”
He took a second to steady himself again. “Alright Niels, let’s see which pirate takes the bait. Arkady, once we know who is chasing us, turn us so our driveplate is pointed at them. Make a good show of trying to get away, we need to lure them out far enough.”
“Will do, Bob.” Arkady acknowledged. “I’ll give them a merry chase.”
“Now we just hope they want us disabled and don’t use missiles.” Robert voiced everyone’s concern. “Terri, how are your modifications coming along?”
Without even looking up from her console, Terri replied, “I’ve got the launcher patched. I’ve voided pretty much every warranty we have, but I managed to coax it to load four charges at once. With our biggest bombs that’ll give them a two megaton surprise.”
Robert nodded. “Very good.”
Terri continued, “The bombs turned out to be trickier. I should be able to get their attitude control software overridden, but they also have hardware safeties. I had to send Jonesy to physically bypass them. But that also means he can slap a radio module on them while he’s at it, so we’ll be able to detonate these on command.”
Robert grinned. “Excellent. Great work. Let me know when Jonesy is done with the mods.”
“Aye. Just one last thing. Once we load up any bombs into the launcher, we won’t be able to unload them any more.”
“Alright. Keep the launcher on full manual then and load only on my command for now.”
Niels interjected. “Contact-3 is altering course to intercept. I’ve coloured her pink on the radar plot.”
Robert glanced over at the helm. “Arkady?”
“On it. On our new course they’ll reach weapons range in 52 minutes. By that time we’ll have spent 84% of our manoeuvring propellant.”
Terri winced.
Robert noticed it. “What’s wrong, Terri?”
“Oh, I’m just thinking of our next overhaul. The azipods weren’t meant to be used this hard for this long.”
“Good to see you’re still an optimist.” Arkady commented. As Terri glowered at him, he added, “You think we’re gonna live long enough to service them.”
Terri laughed and the rest of the command crew chuckled.
Their moment of mirth was, however, cut short when Niels announced a message from contact-3.
Antelope, this is captain Mas’ieh of raider Bathed in Blood. Stand down immediately or you will be fired upon. This is your only warning.”
After a moment of silence captain Nele said, “let them eat static.”
It had been a tense half hour as the Antelope had led the pirate raider away from the rest of the group. Once they were too far away for Bathed in Blood to turn back and help his pirate brethren the GFN Duhrel had broken off the convoy and raced to meet the other two pirates.
With all the pieces in motion it was now captain Mas’ieh’s turn to make a choice. He had three choices: continue pressing the Antelope, turn back and attack GFN Duhrel, or turn away and run.
If he turned to attack GFN Duhrel, he would arrive to the battle too late to help Red Mayhem and Dread Rising. If the two ships could not beat Duhrel, then he would face Duhrel on his own and it might go any way depending on how much damage Mayhem and Dread had inflicted on her. If on the other hand Mayhem and Dread managed to destroy Duhrel, then he had just let the Antelope escape for no reason.
If he decided to run, then his chances depended on whether Mayhem and Dread could destroy or disable Duhrel. Duhrel was faster so she would be able to catch up with Bathed in Blood before he could slip out of the system at the next jump point. But if Mayhem and Dread did manage to destroy Duhrel, his attempt to flee would not be looked upon kindly by the leader of the Raiders.
So, no matter what happens his only real option was to press on Antelope. If Mayhem and Dread won against GFN Duhrel, then capturing the Antelope was the most useful thing he could do. If Mayhem and Dread lost to GFN Duhrel, then he was in no better or worse position than if he had turned away from Antelope. He would still have to face Duhrel just the same.
He sent a message to captain Qauk’ats aboard the Red Mayhem with his plan of action to continue chasing the Antelope to make sure she couldn’t escape, and the rationale for taking this action.
What he didn’t mention was that if Mayhem and Dread lost to Duhrel, but damaged her enough for him to destroy her… well, then he would have just become the new leader of The Blood Raiders.
The atmosphere was tense in the control room of the IMS Antelope. Minutes ticked by as the raider Bathed in Blood chased them. Several hundred thousand kilometers away the GFN Duhrel and raiders Red Mayhem and Dread Rising were fast approaching each other.
“Nuclear explosion.” Niels announced suddenly. “The raiders have started firing on GFN Duhrel. I think Duhrel’s point defence got that warhead. It was too far to cause any damage.”
Robert nodded in silence. They could do nothing more to help, that battle was now up to captain Thraxos.
“Two more. This time against contact-2. Their point defence stopped them.”
Thraxos and Duhrel had an advantage. They could fire their magazines empty if they had to without consequence. For the pirates, every missile they shot was invaluable, for they couldn’t just pull in to a naval yard to resupply. But there were still two pirate ships and if their magazines were full, then Duhrel would be in serious trouble.
“No fire for a few moments. I think they were just probing each other at extreme missile range.”
Robert turned to Niels. “How long until Bathed in Blood is in missile range, assuming their range is similar?”
Niels looked at the range plot. “Two minutes.”
Suddenly there was a radiation alarm. Robert looked at Niels with the look of ‘are you sure’ all over his face.
Niels looked at his instruments. “That was ten thousand kilometers away and off to the side. I think it was a warning shot. Negligible radiation dose.”
Robert thought for a moment and weighed his options. “We’ll keep going. Hopefully they won’t waste more missiles on us.”
The uneasy silence returned as more minutes ticked by. Only occasionally broken as Niels reported events of the battle happening far away.
The exchange of fire increased as the combatants got closer. GFN Duhrel was pressing on contact-2, the Dread Rising, and closing the distance as fast as she could. Her point defences were working at near saturation as the two pirates poured missile after missile upon her. But likewise, her missiles pushed the pirate crew aboard the Dread Rising to their limit as well.
“HIT!” Niels exclaimed! “Contact-2 has left behind debris.”
Everyone cheered. A hit was nice, but it wasn’t the end of the battle. Nowhere near. Warships were compartmentalized to the maximum and even a direct warhead hit only crippled them locally.
Soon the flashes of missile warheads were joined by the invisible beams of anti-ship lasers as GFN Duhrel and Dread Rising reached energy weapon range. Both ships took hits to their hull.
Warship armour had diamond threads woven into it, which were as close as you could get to thermal superconductivity. Each time a laser flashed across a panel, the weave would try to spread out the thermal load to try to keep the plating from vaporizing locally where it was hit and hopefully the plate would be able to radiate the heat load away before another hit. But if any plate was saturated by heat, the entire plate would melt all at once.
Niels was able to see thermal spikes on his IR scopes, but his instruments weren’t powerful enough to resolve what effects those hits had. Neither were the instruments of the other merchanters who were relaying their scanner data to the Antelope as well, which let Niels see the Bathed in Blood even though it was in the shadow of their driveplate. Otherwise the plate would have been a blind spot for them, for no sensor could be mounted on it that would be able to withstand the constant bombardment of nuclear fire it was under in normal operation.
They could only guess how the battle was going. Both ships were streaming air and metal behind them. Both ships were hurt, but how badly was anyone’s guess. Then their own trouble started.
Terri frowned. “I think we’ve just been shot at by Bathed in Blood with their lasers. I’m reading an increased thermal load on the driveplate. Activating cooling system.”
Robert swallowed. This was it for them. “Here goes nothing then. Arkady, start jinking with the azipods but make sure the driveplate remains between us. Let’s make it look good and not give them too easy a target.”
“I think we just had a near miss. The driveplate heat load spiked again, but much less. I think only the halo of the laser caught us this time.”
Robert nodded. “Keep going.”
With their overpowered azipods being able to move them laterally in almost any direction the cargoless Antelope was an exceedingly difficult target for the Bathed in Blood to hit compared to a warship. But every jink burned even more of their manoeuvring propellant. They wouldn’t be able to keep this up for too much longer.
“Direct hit on our plate.” Terri announced once more.
“Vent all our airlocks, let’s make them think they hurt us.”
The Antelope shuddered a little as the airlocks blew out a cloud of air around the ship.
“Too bad we didn’t think of loading some junk in them before hand.” Niels commented.
Robert grinned. “Yeah, but this’ll have to do. Terri, load up a 10 kiloton starter charge into the launcher. Next time they score a direct hit, fire it. Arkady, when it goes boom, put us into a spin. Hopefully they’ll think they’ve hit our engines and disabled us.”
“Got it.” Arkady acknowledged.
Terri hit some buttons on her console. “Charge loaded. Arkady, when I say ‘stop’ stop thrusting. I don’t want us to drift out of the driveplate’s shadow before the charge goes off.”
Arkady nodded.
The Bathed in Blood scored a few more near misses and but then the heat on the plate spiked again. A direct hit.
“Stop!” Terri shouted, then hit the button to manually fire the drive once. A few moments later there was a brilliant flash visible to the Bathed in Blood and the Antelope felt the surge of acceleration as the shock absorbers pushed their ship with the momentum of the nuclear explosion in front of them. Arkady immediately used the azipods to give their ship a good bit of spin, making it turn end over end.
This was the moment when Robert bet them all-in. If the pirate cruiser would fire their laser even one more time, they could hull them straight through. For a merchantman had no armour plating cladding it everywhere like a warship did.
The bridge was deathly silent as everyone were holding their breaths. Seconds passed. Then seconds more passed. The recharge time of the pirate’s spinal laser came and went and there was no Earth shattering kaboom. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and the seconds turned into minutes. The pirates wanted a prize and they thought they had it.
Even as the battle lulled here, in the distance, the battle between Duhrel and the pirates raged on.
Captain Thraxos had managed to break the Dread Rising in the laser exchange. The pirate cruiser was a wreck, hulled straight through in multiple places with a large hole where her main powerplant used to be. But Duhrel had suffered greatly as well. On one side her hull had been scoured clean of her point defences. A number of missile launchers were disabled or destroyed and several compartments were open to space as well. She was streaming air as she turned towards the remaining pirate. All the while they continued exchanging as much missile fire as they could.
But the crew of the Antelope had no time to spectate for long. With them ‘disabled’ and dead in space the raider Bathed in Blood had been able to close the remaining distance much faster and they were getting ready to pull up alongside them.
Captain Nele stood at the sensocomm station and watched the plot with officer Becker. He and Niels kept glancing at each other nervously as the distance closed. Getting the final part of their plan correct was critical, for they would only get one chance. Once their element of surprise was lost, they would be sitting ducks to the missiles of the pirate raider.
“Terri, load up the launcher with four of the biggest charges we have. Arkady, once Bathed in Blood is within 10 kilometers, stabilize us and aim the driveplate at him. Terri, once we’re stabilized go to rapid fire on the launcher with as many of the 500 kiloton charges as you can.”
Robert breathed deep to calm himself. “Detonate the charges when you think is optimal, or if it seems they’ve spotted our ruse. Let’s hope this works.”
Terri nodded and worked frantically on her console to execute the instructions. She would have to program the bombs to rotate to face Bathed in Blood instead of their own driveplate. She’d replaced the normal inertial stabilizing software with her own and uploaded it to the bombs, but she still had to compute the difference based on her best guess where the Bathed in Blood would be in relation to them when the bombs would be triggered. The bombs couldn’t do it themselves, since they had no external sensors, only gyros so they knew their own orientation and nothing else.
“20 kilometers.” Niels announced.
Time seemed to crawl as every person ran on adrenaline.
“15 kilometers.”
Arkady held the stick, ready to execute. He had already turned the azipods ready to cancel their rotation, but then he would have to turn to face the pirate cruiser.
“12 kilometers. 11 kilometers. 10 kilometers.”
Arkady waited for a moment more before he pulled on the stick to make sure they would stop as close to the target attitude as possible. The ship heaved as the azipods worked to halt its turn. With the spin nulled, Arkady then rolled the ship so the azipods wouldn’t have to slew to a new direction before he could point the ship towards the pirate. He wanted to shave every second he could.
“On target!” Arkady announced.
Terri hit the button to execute the program. “Launching.”
The whole operation had took only seconds and the pirates were caught completely off guard. The pirate ship took no action as the four little elongated spheres flew toward it from the little hole in the middle of the Antelope’s massive driveplate. A few seconds later another group of spheres flew out and another.
The pirate ship finally stopped their approach with their manoeuvring thrusters and started to turn their spinal laser to point at the not-as-disabled-as-they-thought merchantman to finish them off.
Terri waited until the last moment possible before the first group of nukes would drift past the pirate and put the ship out of the cone of their shaped charges. Then she pressed the fire button. “Firing!”
A dozen 500 kt nukes exploded in unison at point blank range to the pirate cruiser. Six megatons total of nuclear fury. But these weren’t just nukes, they were shaped charges with most of the blast directed forward through a heavy layer of tungsten that was turned into vapour and shot as plasma towards the hapless pirate whose hull did not have the heavy reinforcement the Antilope’s own driveplate did.
At point blank range this barrage could have hulled a battleship.
Then a few seconds later another 2 megaton barrage exploded. Then another.
Bathed in Blood finally finished turning to bring their spinal laser on the merchantman, but it did not stop. It continued to turn, its laser remaining dark. A cloud of air and debris surrounded the hulk of the pirate ship.
Then the fourth barrage of bombs hit their main powerplant and Bathed in Blood split in two as the reactor amidships exploded.
Sound of debris rang all around the Antelope as the explosion pushed against its driveplate, pushing the ship harmlessly away from the destroyed hulk of the pirate cruiser.
“Holy. Fucking. Shit.” Niels mouthed as he looked at his sensor screen.
Captain Robert Nele walked over to his chair and collapsed into it as the tension of the adrenaline in his system disappeared. Everyone on the bridge deflated as if they had been balloons from which the air had been let out.
“Reload the drive with propulsive charges, get us the fuck out of here.” Robert breathed heavy with relief.
Terri fired the last modified charges to clear the launcher. Her hand shook as she hovered over the fire button. She couldn’t bring herself to press it, not any more. The pirate ship was already more than destroyed. She let the nukes drift away past the wreck as she adjusted the loading priority for the launcher and reset it to standard automatic operation.
In few seconds the first 10 kt charge aimed at their own plate fired and pushed them away. Terri let the computer take over and soon the Antelope picked up speed at great rate, galloping away from the broken and hulled wreck of the pirate ship like her namesake. Empty of cargo even the lightest charges accelerated her like she was an olympic sprinter. The direction didn’t matter, as long as it was away.
They’d already forgotten the battle that had been going on elsewhere.
Ten minutes later the numb silence in the control room was broken by a radio call.
GFN Duhrel to IMS Antelope. Captain Nele, what is your status?”
As IMS Antelope joined back with the convoy, GFN Duhrel pulled up to alongside her. Or what was left of GFN Duhrel. The battle with the pirates had taken a tremendous toll on the light cruiser. There was nary a square meter on her hull that wasn’t scarred by battle damage. There was a large gash along one side and even a hole clear through her. The other side was scoured clean of her hull mounted weapons and sensors and several compartments were open to space. Over third of her crew were dead. It was a small miracle she was still flying at all.
But the pirate fleet had paid even more dearly. All three cruisers floated dead in space as wasted, hulled wrecks. Bathed in Blood lay in twain with her spine broken. Dread Rising was missing an entire quarter of the ship where the powerplant had used to be. And Red Mayhem lay shattered in pieces after multiple missile hits when Duhrel had finally managed to overwhelm her point defences.
There were very few survivors from the pirate fleet, and even fewer who had wanted to be a survivor. Only fifteen lifepods had been launched from the hulks, out of their total crew of a hundred and twenty. The rest had perished in the battle, or chosen to perish in the hulks. The survivors’ pods would be picked up in due time to face justice for their actions.
Captain Thraxos watched the Human ship on his screen and saluted. The Antelope may have been old and tarnished, she may have looked odd and ugly, but right now captain Thraxos was proud to have her and her crew in his fleet. She was no longer part of the convoy, she was one of its protectors. And it was thanks to her that they had triumphed today against insurmountable odds.
submitted by xviila to HFY [link] [comments]

NFL teams most likely to go from worst to first in 2020

We have talked a lot about the draft, biggest remaining needs for every NFL team, some breakout candidates and other stuff, so let’s now get back to more of a big picture and look at some teams from an angle of where could they go next season. In this article, I am analyzing those teams that finished fourth in their division this past year and why they could win it in 2020 or land at the bottom once again, plus an outlook where I actually see them.
Of course much of this is about these eight teams and how much better or worse I feel about them than the general public, but it was heavily dependent on their three division rivals as well. The top half I could certainly see earn a playoff spot and surprise some people if everything goes right. After that a lot of my faith is more built around the lack of great competition and giving some hope to these respective fan bases. As the cliché goes – everybody is 0-0 right now.


https://preview.redd.it/rs90lt6ckf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=3ddfc8945862472b52b5ef8c69076acde904c44c

1. Arizona Cardinals


Why they can win the division:
Let’s just start with the main point here – this Cardinals squad has all the ingredients to make a big jump in 2020. I expect Kyler Murray to enter the superstar conversation in year two, after impressing with his arm talent and ability to extend plays in a (somewhat controversial) Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Steve Keim managed to unload a bad David Johnson contract and basically acquire an elite receiver in DeAndre Hopkins for a second-round pick. Kenyan Drake now has a full offseason to learn this offense and make himself a major factor once again, following up an outstanding second half of the season once the Cardinals traded for him with Miami. He perfectly fits into this offense with a lot East-West based rushing from shotgun sets and his involvement in the pass game, including those quick throws as an extension of the rushing attack. Arizona’s defense should be a lot better with run-stoppers being added in the draft that fit their 3-4 base front with Utah’s Leki Fotu and LSU’s Rashard Lawrence, since they can stay in those packages against the other teams in their division running a lot of 12 and 21 personnel probably. Add to that a do-it-all player with ridiculous range and overall athleticism in Isaiah Simmons at eight overall, plus all the other guys being in their second year under DC Vance Joseph. I love Budda Baker as a missile from his safety spot and I think some of the other young guys on that unit will take a step forward, like second-year corner Byron Murphy, who I talked about last week. Now let’s get to rest of the West – every other team in that division has some issues. The 49ers are facing the objects of a potential Super Bowl hangover and some limitations with Jimmy G at the helm. The Seahawks have question marks on the edge on either side of the ball with Cedric Ogbuehi and Brandon Shell fighting for the starting gig at right tackle and Jadeveon Clowney still on the open market, with a bunch of draft picks these last couple of years having to step up. And the Rams had one of the worst O-lines in football last season and they lost some pieces on defense. The Cardinals already gave all these teams issues in 2019 and have now added pieces that were clearly missing when last matching up against each other.

Why they could finish last again:
Most importantly, I am still not completely sold on the Cardinals offensive line, with D.J. Humphries being signed to a rather expensive deal as a below-average left tackle, third-rounder Josh Jones – while earning a late first-round grade from me – still needing an overhaul on his footwork before he can slide in at right tackle and guard Justin Pugh finally having played a full 16 games for the first time since 2015 last season. NFL coaches had a lot of time to study Kliff Kingsbury’s Air-Raid offense, which when you break it down is pretty simplistic in the amount of schemes they run. Yes, he diversified it a little as last season went along, going under center and running some pro-style rushing plays, but at its core, you can learn how to create some issues for all those mesh concepts and spread sets. As far as the Cardinals defense goes, it is more about pieces than proven commodities. Patrick Peterson is seemingly on the decline, they are thin in the secondary and could Chandler Jones follow soon, after he has been one of the most underrated pass-rushers in the league for a while now? You are staring the reigning NFC champs in the eyes, a team that was a few inches away from earning a playoff bye and another squad that went to the Super Bowl just two years ago. This is probably the best division in the entire league.

Bottom line:
I still believe the 49ers have done enough to repeat as division champs, re-tooling for all the losses they have suffered this offseason. However, I’m feeling pretty good about the Cardinals earning a wildcard spot. While I believe in the Seahawks quarterback and the Rams head coach respectively to not allow their teams to not have throwaway seasons, I also see enough issues with those squads to make me believe the Cardinals could have the second-best year of anybody in the West. To me they are pretty clearly the best of these eight teams, because they have a young phenom at quarterback, stars at pretty much every position, a different type of system around them and what I’d like to call “juice” coming into 2020.


https://preview.redd.it/anrr9erfkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=5655b4452baff2691a0e060e8d70918d58801a4c

2. Detroit Lions


Why they can win the division:
Matt Stafford is back healthy and when he was in the lineup last season, this was a team that defeated the Eagles, Chargers and only didn’t finish the job against the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs because of some crazy stuff going on late. The veteran QB stood at 19 touchdowns compared to five picks and was playing at a near-MVP type level. However, Detroit’s identity will be built on the run game with re-investments in the offensive line as well as adding D’Andre Swift to form a dynamic one-two punch with him and Kerryon Johnson. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones may be the most underrated receiving duo to go with Danny Amendola as a tough guy in the slot and T.J. Hockenson coming into year two as a top-ten pick a year ago, having shown flashes when he was healthy. The defense is finally starting to take shape with third-overall Jeffrey Okudah as an elite corner prospect being added to an underrated secondary, Jamie Collins being a chess piece in the front seven after already having worked well with Matt Patricia and some young guys up front trying to prove themselves to go with the versatile Trey Flowers. Maybe more importantly than the Lions themselves – Nobody else got that much better and none of the other three really stand out to me. Other than the Vikings probably – who had the advantage of making a record-breaking 15 selections – the Lions might have had the best draft within the division. Thanks to that last-place schedule, they get to face the Redskins in the East (instead of Eagles & Cowboys) and Cardinals in the West, who I just talked about taking a step forward, but are still a better draw than the reigning conference champions or possibly having to travel to Seattle. I believe that new regime in Detroit has finally built an identity on both sides of the ball with the heavy investments in the run game and back-seven on defense. Winning ten games might earn you a division title, if everybody plays each other tough.

Why they could finish last again:
Can these guys finally stay healthy? Matt Stafford to my surprise played a full 16 games in eight straight years before last season, but a lot of that had to do with his toughness to fight through pain and he had major issues with that shoulder early on in his career before basically breaking his back after putting the team on it for the last decade. Kerryon Johnson has missed 14 of 32 possible starts and he has never carried the ball more than 118 times a season. Their receiving corp has been banged up quite a bit too. More glaring even – how will all these additions of former Patriots players work out? Can Matt Patricia build a New England 2.0 in Michigan or is he just bringing in players he knows will listen to him and the way he wants things to be done? Detroit could also rely on a lot of rookies to be immediate impact players – possibly two new starting guards on offense, running back D’Andre Swift probably sharing the load with Kerryon, Jeffrey Okudah having to immediately become their CB1 and Julian Okwara being asked to become a much more consistent player if they give him major snaps. And I recently talked about how their uncertainty at punter could be an issue for their ball-control, defense-minded style of play. They also have an early bye (week five), which I’m never a big fan of, after facing the Bears, Packers, Cardinals and Saints, which probably includes three playoff teams. If Chicago can get any competent QB play, all these teams should be highly competitive.

Bottom line:
I don’t think any team in this division wins more than ten games. Unfortunately I don’t see the Lions go over that mark themselves either. The Packers won’t come out victorious in so many close games (8-1 in one-possession affairs), the Vikings have lost a few proven commodities and look for young talent to immediately replace those and the Bears still have a quarterback competition going on. So if Detroit can do any better than just split the season series with those three teams, I see them finishing above .500, but ten wins is the ceiling for me. In terms of the competition inside the division, the Lions may be my number one team in this conversation, but I see a much clearer path to things crashing down for Matt Patricia and them having another disappointing season than I do with the Cardinals. No team in this division may finish below that 8-8 mark.


https://preview.redd.it/7ivo914ikf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=d029ddd274b78e78f5bc932d00086b8c697a466e

3. Miami Dolphins


Why they can win the division:
When you ask the general public, the Buffalo Bills right now are the favorites to win the AFC East, but they haven’t done so since 1995 and they still have to prove they really are that team. The Patriots lost several pieces on defense and Tom Brady of course, which probably leads them to starting a quarterback, who over his four career pass attempts has thrown more touchdowns to the opposing team than to his own. The Jets are still building up that roster, with GM Joe Douglas trying to plant seeds on burnt earth, and they face a BRUTAL schedule. So Miami has a lot of things going in their favor for an organization that I believe in what they are trying to build. Depending on what happens at quarterback, you could have a veteran in Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was by far the best inside the division in several key categories last season and/or Tua Tagovailoa, who had one of the most prolific careers we have seen from anybody in the SEC. They added at least two new starters on the O-line, they now have one of the premiere cornerback trios in the league with the all-time highest paid player at the position in Byron Jones and first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene to go with Xavien Howard and with some added beef up front, they are finally looking a lot like what Brian Flores had in New England. DeVante Parker really broke out over the second half of 2019 and Miami should have a much better rushing attack because of the additions up front and two quality committee backs in Jordan Howard and Matt Breida being added. They have two other young pass-catchers ready to break out this upcoming season in tight-end Mike Gesicki and a UDFA receiver from a year ago in Preston Williams. Whenever Tua’s name is called upon, he will be a perfect fit for Chan Gailey’s horizontal passing game.

Why they could finish last again:
As much as I like what I see from this entire organization, it is probably just a year too early for Miami. So many young players could be thrown into the fire and a lot of them I look at as needing that experience – 18th overall pick Austin Jackson (USC) is more of a developmental tackle still with his footwork and hand-placement issues, 30th overall pick Noah Igbinoghene (Auburn) has only played cornerback for two years and was bailed out by his athletic tools at times, third-rounder Brandon Jones has to develop more of a feel in deep coverage and at least one more rookie lineman will likely start for them. Even outside of this year’s draft class, they already had several players on their roster that are still moving towards their prime. Whether you look at last year’s first-rounder Christian Wilkins, a lot of second- and third-year pass-catchers or their young linebackers outside of Kyle Van Noy. The Bills are entering year four of that turn-around under Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane, the Patriots still have the greatest coach of all time and will be a tough matchup solely based on that and the Jets at least have people playing for their jobs, plus a very talented young quarterback I still believe in. As much as I doubt Adam Gase, as long as Sam Darnold doesn’t get mono again, the offense should at least be competent, and the defense could potentially have a top-five player at every level with All-Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, an 85-million dollar linebacker in C.J. Mosley and my number one prospect in last year’s draft on the interior D-line with Quinnen Williams.

Bottom line:
As I mentioned before, the Bills are the front-runners in this division for me. As much respect as I have for Bill Belichick, I haven’t seen enough from Jarrett Stidham to make me a believer and he shrunk in some big moments at Auburn. The Jets to me could be a lot better than they were in 2019 and still go 6-10 just because of the type of schedule they are up against. So the Dolphins to me could easily finish anywhere from second to fourth, depending on how some of the players on that roster progress. I wouldn’t bet on them actually making the playoffs, but they could absolutely be a pain in the butt for some of the better teams in the AFC and in 2021 they might be the pick here.


https://preview.redd.it/nme3explkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=3998c6026125c1b9b48438e3fc9afaf9601b116e

4. Los Angeles Chargers


Why they can win the division:
First and foremost, this Chargers defense is absolutely loaded with no real hole that you can point to. Derwin James is back healthy after a first-team All-Pro rookie campaign, Chris Harris Jr. comes in to make this secondary one the elite units in the NFL to go with two more Pro Bowlers among it and they have some guys I expect to break out like Jerry Tillery, Drue Tranquill and Nasir Adderley. In terms of having matchup pieces and a versatile pass rush to challenge Kansas City, nobody in the league may be on the same level as these guys. Offensively, Ihave talked about how the left tackle spot is concern for L.A. with a battle between Sam Tevi and Trey Pipkins for the starting job, but the other four spots are as good as they have been in a while, acquiring Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner via trade, signing a top five right tackle in Bryan Bulaga and getting Mike Pouncey back healthy. Tyrod Taylor can steer the ship and even if Justin Herbert is thrown into the fire – which I wouldn’t recommend – they have the skill-position players and willingness to run the ball to take pressure off those guys. While the Chiefs return 20 of 22 starters from a year ago, this wouldn’t be the first time we saw a Super Bowl champion have some issues the following season and as much as we want to hype up the Broncos and Raiders, both their quarterbacks (and other players of course as well) have a lot to prove still. Outside of KC, the Chargers likely have the smallest changes to what they do other than moving on from Philip Rivers and we saw that formula work the year prior, when they challenged Kansas City until the very end for the division crown and the conference’s top seed potentially. While they probably would have liked to bring in Tom Brady over the offseason, the fact they decided against signing Cam Newton to a roster that is ready to win right now, shows you the confidence they have in that quarterback room.

Why they could finish last again:
I’m not a huge fan of Derek Carr, but the Chargers will probably have the worst quarterback in the division in 2020. And their starting left tackle could be the worst in the entire league. As good as their defense will probably be, you can not consistently win games in which your offense doesn’t put up 20+ points in the league today – especially when all these teams in their division have spent so much on acquiring offensive firepower these last couple of years. I believe all three of their division rivals got better this offseason and the Chargers spent their top draft pick (sixth overall) on a young quarterback, who might not even help them win games this season. As I already mentioned, Kansas City brings back almost their entire starting lineups and they went 12-4 despite Mahomes seemingly having his knee cap facing the sideline while laying on his back. I have uttered my thoughts on Denver several times now, which you can read up on later. As for Las Vegas’ new team, they did start last season 6-4 and just heavily invested into their two major issues – wide receiver and linebacker. And while I don’t like to talk about it – injuries have been a huge issue for this Chargers team in recent years and I don’t really know what it is even, but I can’t assume that they all of a sudden can stay healthy.

Bottom line:
In terms of talent on the roster outside of the quarterback position, you could make a pretty compelling argument that the Chargers are ahead of all the other teams on this list. That’s the reason they have a pretty high floor of finishing around .500 and if everything works out, they could absolutely be a playoff contender. However, for this exercise in particular, I believe their upside is capped by what they have under center. Tyrod Taylor can be a top-20 quarterback in the NFL this season and in terms of upside, Justin Herbert has all the tools to become a difference-maker once he steps on the field, but they don’t have the explosiveness the Chiefs or the Broncos have for that matter. With so much continuity on a team that has the best player in the entire league, I can’t go against the Chiefs and in the end we are evaluating the chances to actually win the division.


https://preview.redd.it/rywropjokf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=ed77a7303af810b862abb2100c4f0b86841a2d38

5. Washington Redskins


Why they can win the division:
These guys are very reminiscent of the 49ers with their defensive line, in terms of having invested a lot of high draft picks into the unit these last couple of years and now with that second overall pick bringing in a true stud from Ohio State – this time in Chase Young. When you look at all those guys up front – with the Bama boys patrolling the middle, Matt Ioannidis capable of moving around the front, Montez Sweat looking to break out in year two and Ryan Kerrigan still being there as a productive veteran – they will wreak some havoc this season. Ron Rivera could finally bring some structure to this organization and help them turn it around on defense with the addition of an old companion in Thomas Davis, plus some high-upside players like Reuben Foster and Fabian Moreau looking to prove themselves. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins had a very underwhelming rookie campaign, but he clearly wasn’t ready to be out there and found himself in a bad situation in terms of the support system around him. I like a lot of their young skill-position players the front office has surrounded him with, when you look at Terry McLaurin trying to become a young star in this league, who produced despite shaky quarterback play last season, Kelvin Harmon and Antonio Gandy-Golden being two big-bodied targets I liked these last two drafts, Derrius Guice hopefully finally being able to stay healthy to lead this backfield and this year’s third-round pick Antonio Gibson being a chess piece that you can manufacture touches for. Somebody I forgot to mention in this discussion recently is Steven Sims Jr., who is a jitterbug with the ball in his hands. New offensive coordinator Scott Turner will implement a system that should make life easier on his second-year signal-caller as well, while relying heavily on the run game.

Why they could finish last again:
Haskins is by far the least proven QB of the bunch, with Daniel Jones even being head and shoulders above him in their respective rookie seasons. No pass-catcher outside of Terry McLaurin had any major production to speak. Counting on a 37-year old Thomas Davis to not only be a leader for them, but also make plays on the field, could create issues, and Washington lost some pieces in the secondary. This offseason is a challenge for any team, that is looking to implement a new system on each side of the ball, but I think especially for a motivator like Rivera, who can give his squad a heartbeat and push them to success, not being there in person with those guys will hurt. Most importantly however, this division to me will be a two-man race between the Eagles and Cowboys – as it has been for a while now. They both will likely have top ten quarterbacks, better receiving corps, better offensive lines and more experienced defenses. The Giants may not blow anybody away coming into 2020, but looking at the two matchups from last year between them and the Redskins, Big Blue beat them 24-3 the first time around, when Daniel Jones threw one touchdown compared to two interceptions and then he diced them up for five TDs and no picks in week 16. The one area Washington would have had the clear upper hand was with their front-four, but New York just invested a lot of draft capital into their O-line to prevent that. Just go through the Redskins’ schedule and show me more than six wins. I dare you.

Bottom line:
These last two sentences really say it all. Even if Philly and Dallas split the season series and Washington can get a game off either one of them, it will be tough to turn around this squad as quickly as this season – with reduced practice time and team activities – to a point where they can finish above both of them. Both of them could easily win double-digit games in 2020 and while I think the Redskins are on the right track if Haskins looks more like the Ohio State version of himself, other than their defensive line, no unit for them is ready to compete for the division quite yet. Just going through their schedule in an objective manner, it is tough to find any lay-ups and say Washington has some baseline of wins they count on. To not have them any lower than this is more due to the respect for Riverboat Ron and how high I was on a lot of the guys they drafted recently.


https://preview.redd.it/szpawv9rkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=62ca5fe882d8155d83eb3328e9bf1f1681a17384

6. Jacksonville Jaguars


Why they can win the division:
I was going back and forth between my number six and seven teams, because the Jaguars are projected to pick first overall come next April for a reason – they did lose a lot of pieces. However, to me it came down to the fact that the AFC South might be won at 9-7 or 10-6 and this coaching staff actually has to win to keep their jobs. There is a lot noise about the Colts, but when you go back to last season, Philip Rivers was a turnover machine with serious questions about his arm strength. Bill O’Brien made some very questionable decisions for Houston and Tennessee is counting on a formula that is built on a 250-banger running the ball 25+ times and Ryan Tannehill finally repeating a career year, as they are coming off an AFC title game appearance. As far as Jacksonville goes, Gardner Minshew was the highest-graded rookie quarterback according to PFF and altogether I would have put him second only behind Kyler Murray. D.J. Chark broke out as one of the young star receivers and I had a first-round grade on Colorado’s Laviska Shenault if he can be healthy, because his talent is off the charts. I think the O-line would have benefitted from another tackle to kick Cam Robinson inside to guard, but those guys are some road-graders to make the run game work. Defensively the only real contributor from that Sacksonville group a couple of years ago who actually wants to be there is Myles Jack, but I really like their young duo off the edge in first-rounders Josh Allen last year and now K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU). There are some questions about the back-end, but they were built front-to-back with a lot of zone coverage behind it and depending on the development of ninth overall pick C.J. Henderson, they can roll away from him matching up with the opposing team’s number one receiver. Avoiding some of the better AFC squads altogether is pretty sweet as well, to go with facing no playoff team from last year outside their division until the middle of November.

Why they could finish last again:
I’m just not sure if all of these players are ready to fight for that coaching staff and organization. Two of their remaining veterans (Leonard Fournette and Yannick Ngakoue) have openly talked about how they want to be traded, they only have a few actually proven commodities on that entire roster and with the way they have unloaded big cap numbers, they have set themselves up for a true rebuild potentially, as they are expected to be in the Trevor Lawrence-Justin Fields sweepstakes come next April. Even if they can get a few breaks and the division is up for grabs, does this organization even want to win this season? If not for the injury to Jacoby Brissett in the middle of the season, all three other teams in that division would have almost certainly finished above .500 and the Colts are actually the team that improved by far the most among them. That Texans, who have actually won the South four of the last five years, including last season, may be the smallest challenge and still sweep Jacksonville. Vegas rarely misses completely and the Jaguars right now are the odds-on favorite to pick first overall come next April, with an NFL-low OveUnder of 4.5 wins on the season. And as favorable as the early portion of their schedule looks like right, check out this eight-game stretch after their week seven bye – at Chargers, vs. Texans, at Packers, vs. Steelers, vs. Browns, at Vikings, vs. Titans, at Ravens. Ouch. They might go winless over that period.

Bottom line:
The Jaguars to me are a very interesting team, because I believe they have accumulated a bunch of young talent, which gets lost a little when you see all the names that aren’t there anymore. There is a lot to like about this roster, when you look at what these players could develop into, but that doesn’t mean they will have success this year already. The Colts have the best 53 currently in the division (or 55 now), the Texans have the best quarterback and the Titans are coming off an AFC Championship game appearance. Gardner Minshew could make this kind of a tough decision if they end up picking anywhere after first overall and I think some of those other kids will put up pretty good numbers, but they are still pretty clearly fourth in the South as for now.


https://preview.redd.it/5myv276vkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=7fb25f47d0759e9b5a07876ea01787898c6cc817

7. Carolina Panthers

Why they can win the division:
Nobody knows for sure what Matt Rhule and his new coaching staff will throw at them. Joe Brady gets to work with Teddy Bridgewater once again, who he already coached in New Orleans – so there will be familiarity for him in this system and they already “speak the same language”. That young receiving corp with D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, free agency addition Robby Anderson and even an up-and-coming tight-end in Ian Thomas is pretty underrated actually, plus of course they have one of the truly elite weapons out of the backfield in Christian McCaffrey, who is probably set to break his own RB reception record once again. The Panthers defense-only draft has brought them a monster in the middle in Derrick Brown (Auburn), a really talented edge rusher in Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State) on the opposite of last year’s rookie stud Brian Burns, a super-rangy safety with linebacker size in Jeremy Chinn (Southern Illinois), what I think is a starting corner in Troy Pride Jr. (Notre Dame) and some other pieces in the secondary. The talent is clearly there and now you bring in a scheme that is probably going to be unique for the NFL level as well, when you look at that 3-3-5 Baylor ran under Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. As much as we want to praise our legends of the game, the quarterbacks of the two front-runners in this division will be 41 and 43 years old respectively and let’s not forget that Atlanta started out last season 1-7.

Why they could finish last again:
Especially this offseason, without certainty if there will be anything like training camp or even a real preseason, that completely new staff with new systems they are trying to teach will certainly have some growing pains. Bridgewater has been a top-20 starting QB maybe one year of his career and even when he was applauded for the way he filled in for Drew Brees last season, he finished dead-last in intended air yards among quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts. How will that mesh with a lot of vertical targets around him? When he has those guys running free on slants and dig routes, the ball will get there, but will he be willing to throw that deep post or give his guys a chance on go-balls? Defensively they are counting on a lot of young players and they have nobody to even come close to replacing Luke Kuechly, as well as making the switch to an unproven scheme possibly, if they actually use some of those 3-3-5 looks coming over from Baylor. When you look at Rhule’s track-record, it always took him until year two to show improvement and then in that third season is when those teams can really make some noise. And that was in the AAC and Big 12 respectively. Now he is in the NFC South with a team that just went 13-3 in the Saints and a Bucs squad that already was 7-9 and lost six of those games by one score, only because despite finishing fifth in takeaways, they ranked in the bottom five in turnover differential due to easily leading the league with 41 giveaways. That should get a lot better with Tom Brady coming in, who has never even quite thrown half of Jameis Winston’s 30 interceptions in any of his 20 years in the league. Even the Falcons – for as poorly as they started last season – went 6-2 after really coming together and making some changes in their bye week last season.

Bottom line:
The Panthers are clearly the most unproven team in this division. While new systems that haven’t been scouted yet certainly have an advantage in terms of game-planning early on, especially in this offseason with heavily limited live reps most likely, that might equal a net minus. You have to root for a guy like Teddy Bridgewater and the way he has worked his way up to a starting spot again, but I just don’t look at him as a surefire franchise signal-caller. The other three teams in the South all have top ten quarterbacks in the league in my opinion and much more continuity around them. Until the Panthers finally get to their bye week at the start of December, I don’t see them winning more than four of those twelve games. At that point they may have their eyes on a different goal already, if Teddy B isn’t the clear answer under center.


https://preview.redd.it/y7agj2n2lf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=221af0a1f689d3b19d5e250fac0b58a35877edad

8. Cincinnati Bengals


Why they can win the division:
We’re not that far away from 2015, when the Bengals won the AFC North with a 12-4 record as the fifth year in a row making the playoffs. Since then this is the first time I feel like there really is change happening with this team. Marvin Lewis was replaced by a young Zac Taylor, trying to prove himself to the league, they drafted Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow first overall to replace as average a quarterback as we have had over the last decade in Andy Dalton and the front office finally spent some money in free agency. While you would think a quarterback going first overall usually comes into a situation, where he is devoid of talent around him, Cincinnati suddenly has one of the better group of skill-position players in the entire league, assuming A.J. Green is back healthy. Tyler Boyd is a stud in the slot, who will be Burrow’s version of Justin Jefferson, a 50-50 ball specialist in second-round pick Tee Higgins (Clemson) matches perfectly with Burrow’s expertise of winning with ball-placement and if they get anything from former first-rounder John Ross at least as a decoy with his speed, that’s a plus. I expect Joe Mixon to be among the league leader’s in running back receptions and be more effective in space with those receivers around him as well. The signings the Bengals have made on defense gives them a lot more talent and complements very well what they already had. D.J. Reader is one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the league and frees everybody up along the front, they completely overhauled that linebacker group, which was a major issue these last couple of years, they brought in a starting CB2 and nickel from Minnesota to pair up with William Jackson III, who is ready to announce himself as one of the best corners in football, and Von Bell is a great match with the rangy free safety Jessie Bates.

Why they could finish last again:
As talented as all those guys throwing, catching and running the ball may be, it all starts with what’s happening up front and the Bengals offensive line is still in transition. They could have two of the worst starters in the league at both guard spots and right tackle once again, with the prior ones close to reaching that bust status and Bobby Hart still somehow having a starting job. As great as Joe Burrow was last year at LSU and how clean his evaluation was, how much better than Andy Dalton will he be right away, especially going up against those scary defensive fronts inside his division? Defensively they could easily have six new starters, which obviously can be looked at as a positive sign, considering they allowed 20+ points in all but two games last season, but there is also a lack of continuity and reduced time to fit all those pieces together. Cincinnati’s coaching staff hasn’t really proven anything yet and they will be facing a massacre of a schedule, with three occasions of back-to-back road games and while three of their final four games of the season are at home, they will face the Cowboys, Steelers and Ravens, to go with a trip to Houston in-between. If they don’t beat the Chargers in the season-opener, they probably don’t get that first W until week four against the Jaguars and then they have to hope they can sneak out another one until their bye week. Baltimore is tied with Kansas City for the highest projected win total with reigning MVP coming into just his third season, Pittsburgh is favored to make the playoffs with Big Ben back under center and Cleveland was the offseason favorite in 2019, while fielding an even better roster this year.

Bottom line:
I feel bad for putting this team last, because I thought Joe Burrow was the top quarterback and definitely worthy of that number one pick and the Bengals finally spent big money in free agency to retool the defense. To me this is less about them than the Ravens, who just were the number one overall seed in the playoffs at 14-2 and haven’t done anything other than get better themselves, a Steelers team that made a run at the playoffs with the worst quarterback play in the league now getting Ben back and a Browns roster that is among the top ten league-wide in most people’s opinion. Still, there is a lot to like about this team at the skill-positions, which is probably behind only Cleveland in terms all the weapons they have, some young standouts on defense and hope that all of this brings a fresh breath of air.


If you enjoyed this content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece (with video clips) - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/06/16/nfl-teams-most-likely-to-go-from-worst-to-first-in-2020/
You can also listen to my breakdown on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9kCcuPobNU
submitted by hallach_halil to nfl [link] [comments]

[Tales From the Terran Republic] The Poop Starts to Settle Part 3 of 2: Sheloran Moves In

Sheloran moves into her new home, a perfectly normal jail where nothing is HORRIBLY WRONG...
The rest of this series can be found here
***
“Well, it seems that we are going to get a chance to get to know each other after all!” Pam said cheerfully from behind a thick clear partition. “Goody!”
Sheloran just sat there on her padded cube miserably.
“Quite the scene in the courtroom!” Pam said brightly. “Woo! I have to say it takes a rare individual to tell any Terran judge to get fucked but Judge Thaddeus Carter himself… damn! You really let him freaking have it!”
“Yay me,” Sheloran said glumly.
“Yeah… maybe not the smartest move but if you are going to go down, go down guns blazing!” Pam said brightly. “You sure you aren’t a little Terran in a frog-suit?”
“Nope, just a plath… a very unlucky plath...”
“Oh I’m going to have to call bullshit on that one,” Pam smiled. “Oh, before we continue, I should introduce myself shouldn’t I?”
Pam drew herself up straight in her chair.
“I’m agent Pamela Dawson!” she said cheerfully. “I’m your profiler!”
“My profiler?”
“Yep!” Pam exclaimed enthusiastically. “It’s my job to figure out what makes you tick and let me tell you, that’s going to be fun!”
Sheloran looked at her suspiciously.
“Don’t feel too special. Most people here have a profiler,” she said with a grin. “You guys are just too interesting!”
“We are?”
“Sure!” she replied. “We host one of the greatest collections of… unique personalities, truly gifted humans and kalesh, exotic xeno threats, and the like anywhere in the galaxy! It’s a gathering of extremes, true one of a kinds! Normal humans, or any of the standard races for that matter, are boring! You guys? Not boring! I mean, a plath? Here?!? If someone told me two days ago that I would be chatting with a plath guest I would have told you that you were high… (and to give me some!)”
Pam leaned forward on her desk and whispered into the mic.
“Actually I would have had to look up what a plath was… and THEN I would have told you that I wanted a hit off of whatever pipe you were smoking! Oh! Speaking of...”
Pam tapped on her tablet and a doorway opened. An armed and armored combat drone floated in…
Carrying a tray that had a bottle of absinthe (her favorite brand!) a beautiful absinthe glass, chilled water, slotted spoon, and a small dish of sugar cubes.
“Care for a drink?” she asked. “We took the liberty of sneaking a peek into your hotel and this stuff would be repugnant beyond words to your roommate so we figured it was for you!”
“Um… thanks?” Sheloran said as she walked over. She opened the bottle and took a sniff.
“If we wanted to poison or drug you we would just gas you!” Pam said cheerfully as she pointed up at some very suspicious looking vents in the ceiling. “Or we’d have one of the bots hold you down...”
Sheloran carefully prepared herself a much needed drink and took a long sip. Oh she needed that.
“Is that your favorite?” Pam asked. “You get an alcohol ration. It would have to come pre-mixed though. We give you a drink or six a day, not a whole fucking bottle!”
“Why are you being so nice to me?” Sheloran as she sipped her absinthe suspiciously (still drank it though).
“I was wondering when you would ask,” Pam smiled. “Everyone asks that eventually. The easy answer is because it’s easy.”
Sheloran just looked at her in confusion.
“You are among the elite. You guys are the worst of the worst, the most deadly of the deadly, the baddest of the bad. You guys thrive on misery. Adversity empowers you. Brutality only gives you strength. Hell, most of you actually like it.”
“I don’t like it!” Sheloran squeaked sipping her absinthe.
“We could make this a living hell,” Pam chuckled, “but why exert ourselves so much just to suit you, make you stronger, more dangerous? Tartarus isn’t a ‘jail’ or even a ‘prison’. It’s a warehouse. It is our assigned task to store some of the most dangerous biological weapons in the galaxy, people like you. We aren’t concerned with punishment, or reform. Both concepts are a complete waste of time when we are dealing with individuals like yourself or anyone else here. Do you have any idea who we have in here?!? We can’t do shit to them! What they have been through… what they put themselves through just for fun sometimes… It’s literally impossible to punish them. Beat you down? Seriously? The concept is laughable. What lash would we use on someone like Tiberius Shane? Starve you? What privations would we use on ‘The Maiden’ that could bring her to her knees? Intimidate you? What would we possibly confront Kvash The Wounder with to make him flinch? It’s a complete waste of effort. Shit. You fucks would just view it as free entertainment.”
Sheloran’s eyes widened as she sipped her drink. Who was she going to be tossed in here with?
“The list goes on and on,” Pam chuckled. “Nobody in here is going to break. If they could safely be brought to heel they wouldn’t be here in the first place!”
“I can!” Sheloran squeaked nervously.
Pam just laughed.
“You are actually a prime example,” she chuckled. “I’m still crunching your numbers but you are ‘just a normal everyday plath’, completely ‘nice’, totally ‘docile’ (at least where violence goes)...”
“I am!”
“… until you get ‘pushed’...” Pam smiled wickedly. “Then you enter some sort of fugue state and become incredibly dangerous with the reaction times and target acquisition speed easily equal to that of a ‘sufficiently trained, fully enhanced, human special operative’. We have you on tape, both your own and the restaurant’s footage… would you like to see?”
Sheloran just shook her head.
“Well take my word for it,” Pam enthused, “when you black out shit gets freaky and you can go toe to toe with anyone, not just Harkeen thugs, and that’s before we even begin to talk about your ‘other abilities’. It’s in our best interest to keep you feeling comfortable and even more importantly, safe. I would much rather deal with you, than… you...”
“Other abilities?”
“Your innate technological abilities for one!” Pam exclaimed. “You just throw together the coolest little toys! The stuff you normally make is neat! The shit you made while in the Twilight Zone… The techies are still trying to figure out your Barn-Mart specials! Any info you feel like laying on us would be deeply appreciated!”
“I… I learned it from a video game...” Sheloran stammered.
“I like you!” Pam replied cheerfully. “I’m not sure if you actually believe that or are just a really good liar but I’m going to let you in on something,” she said as she pulled out the pistol she discarded in front of the hospital from a drawer in her desk, “This didn’t come from a video game. We checked them all.”
“It… It was based on one! That’s where I learned-”
“Advanced electronics? Weaponsmithing? High level electric and electronic engineering? Advanced physics?” Pam asked, “And something else that we are still trying to figure out… Even this little toy has some very smart very educated people very very excited.”
“I just tweaked it a little,” Sheloran said uncomfortably.
“Sure you did,” Pam winked. “Those little tweaks have some quite highly paid people not only a little confused, but actually a bit pissed off. Why didn’t you just use this little monster? It was certainly up for the task!”
Because I wanted them to-” Sheloran started to hiss and then clamped her hands over her mouth with a squeak.
“Suffer?” Pam asked her eyes gleaming malevolently? “Oh don’t worry,” she smiled. “I’m not DOJ and we have little interest in supporting their little games. We honestly do not care.”
“DOJ?”
“Department of Justice,” Pam smiled. “Not me. I don’t get paid to do those people’s jobs for them. I mean if we catch you planning a crime outside of this facility then yeah, we clue them in, but as far as helping them with a current investigation or trial? Pssh. I’ve got better things to do than become an active threat for one of our residents or guests. I mean, we think we got all the bases covered but… we aren’t you now are we? I am NOT going to be the reason you black out next time! They don’t pay me nearly enough for that bullshit.”
“Who… who are you with then?”
“The facility was built by and the exterior and outer spaces are guarded by the Republic armed forces,” Pam replied. “As far as who I and the rest of the internal and administrative staff goes, let’s just say that we serve the Republic and leave it at that.”
“Intelligence?” Sheloran asked in alarm.
“...We serve the Republic...” Pam smiled. “As a guest, all you need to know is that you will be well provided for and are completely safe. Everywhere you will go is covered by auto-turrets and patrolled by combat drones and we don’t use stunners. If someone starts trouble then they will stop… instantly. Even you can’t dodge them. Please inform your alter-ego. Even the most aggressive, violent, combative person here isn’t keen to throw their life away when there won’t even be a fight. No fun, no glory, just… darkness. That plus our two wardens, warden lassitude and warden corpulence, keep most people in line. I won’t bother telling you to relax or try to reassure you further but you will see. Things aren’t bad here at all! In fact, a lot of people are very happy to call this place home!”
A second combat bot entered the room carrying a small athletic bag and a tablet.
“That is your bag,” Pam said cheerfully. “You got a change of clothes, some undies (based on what we found in your hotel), and some slippers that I’m pretty sure you will like. There is also a tablet. You can use that to check the schedule, watch some vids, and communicate with me, of course!” Pam enthused. “You need anything or have any questions… or just want to talk, feel free to give me a call at any time. I do eat and sleep but I check my messages all the time!”
“Um… thanks...” Sheloran said dubiously.
“And if you want to chat with someone out there in the real world you can request a monitored line!” Pam enthused. “Someone’s going to be listening in, of course, but at least it’s something, right?”
“Uh, ok...” Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. She would send messages through Baxlon. That was probably monitored too but if they acted on it Baxlon would eat them alive!
“Just follow the bot and it will take you to your new temporary home (fingers crossed, right?)” Pam smiled.
“Follow me, ma’am,” one of the bots said in a disturbingly human sounding voice as it hovered off.
Sheloran, clutching her tablet and bag, followed.
After she left, Pam’s friendly smile faded to an expressionless mask, her warm eyes glazing over and turning to ice.
She pulled out a communicator.
“Hello,” a dead, expressionless male voice answered.
“I have a candidate,” Pam replied with a cold purr. “She needs to become a resident. See to it.”
“I will inform the DOJ,” the man replied and hung up.
Pam reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a simple white armband emblazoned with a three-headed hound embroidered in black and silver thread.
She strapped it to her right arm and with near mechanical precision, rose and walked to the door.
As it opened, two guards leveled their shotguns at her.
She smiled at the fear in their eyes. They lived only because she let them and they knew it.
“I’m ready to return to my cell,” she said in a dead voice.
***
She was shown to a small cell with a bunk bed and a pair of desks… as well as a really really exposed showetoilet/sink combo.
Wow. It was just hanging out right there in the corner, just like she would be whenever she used it.
At least the door could close (and lock?) whenever she wanted it to.
If the door can close and lock that means…
She searched the room and, yep, sensors. Her every single move was tracked.
At least they weren’t cameras. She could at least hope for a modicum of privacy.
She turned to the bunks. The bottom one was occupied so she started setting up on the top one.
“Hey,” a male voice said.
It was one of the guys from the hall that was clapping when she lost her pooping mind (again).
Wait! There were men here?!?
“You’re a man!” she exclaimed in surprise.
“Was last time I checked,” he laughed. “Guys and girls are all mixed together here… I know. Weird, right?”
Sheloran just nodded.
“They say that the place is so secure they only need to make one. If anyone acts stupid…” he put two fingers to his head “Zap! Besides, everyone is fucking deadly here and everybody knows it! They also say it helps keep us ‘properly socialized’ or some bullshit like that. Don’t know about that but it’s nice having women around, even if I don’t have a girlfriend… yet! Name’s Roop, nice to meet you!”
“Sheloran,” she replied.
“I heard you today in the cubes!” he said. “Fucking badass, man!”
“Yeah, I sure told them...” Sheloran said ruefully.
“Oh your cellie is in the day room,” Roop said. “She practically lives in there. She’s one of the Grimdark Fifty-Thousand nerds. It’s almost like you have a private room!”
“Well, that will make pooping easier.”
Roop burst out laughing.
“You’re alright,” he said. “So, what are you in for?”
“Oh I really shouldn’t-”
Roop laughed some more.
“Cha-ka!” he laughed as he mimicked cracking a whip. “Just kidding! Everyone knows why you’re here! Those fucking threen picked the wrong madam to fuck with! Fucking brutal, man! The way you just walked in there… and then just sat down and ordered fucking breakfast!… Invited fucking SWAT to join you!… Didn’t even flinch when they hit you with the flash bangs!… Just raised your fucking coffee mug!… Pure motherfucking class!”
Sheloran winced.
“Hey, you wanna go grab a beer?” he asked. “I have two comin’.”
“Oh I appreciate it but-”
“I know, ‘nothing’s free in the joint’ but trust me, here it fucking is! I get six beers a day not counting all the weed! You won’t owe me a fucking thing!”
“You already sniffing around the new girl?” a husky female voice laughed as a huge human woman loomed into view. “I done told you you will probably have to wait till you become a resident to hook up!”
A gigantic tattooed woman gave Roop an affectionate headlock.
“Don’t mind Roop,” the woman laughed. “Horny little fuck’s been humpin’ everybody’s leg since he got here!”
“It wasn’t like that!” Roop protested. “I was just welcoming the new guy!”
“Uh-huh...” The mountain of a woman laughed. “Tell you what,” she grinned. “If you act right, you can come by my room later and I’ll give you a little bit.”
Roop’s eyes lit up.
“Really?!?”
“Sure! Why not!” the huge woman said. “Your sack must be about ready to pop! How long has it been?”
“Nine years...” Roop said, almost whining.
“Well no wonder you are so wound up!” she laughed. “Let me take care of business here and I’ll take you to heaven right after!”
“Really?!?!?” Roop replied.
“Get a load of this guy,” the woman laughed. “Yes, Roop, really. Now go to my room and wait.” “Yes, ma’am!” he exclaimed almost in ecstasy.
He started to sprint away but paused and turned to Sheloran.
“I was serious about grabbing a beer with ya!”
“Get out of here!” The woman said swatting Roop’s butt.
He left at a sprint.
“Oh boy oh boy oh boy!!!” he voice cried out as he ran.
“Forgive Roop,” she laughed. “He really wasn’t trying to trick you into owing him. He’s just trying to be nice. Hard to believe he chopped up his entire family.”
“Eeep!”
“But we don’t judge here,” the woman said. “It’s one of our rules. I’m Lee but everyone calls me Momma Bear. I’m the resident advisor for the block.”
“Resident advisor?”
“Yeah,” Lee replied. “I’m a ‘resident’ here, a lifer, and I live down here with you guests to help you guys out. Are you familiar with the trustee system?”
Sheloran shook her head.
“Well, here in Tartarus, we prisoners operate this place. We keep it running, keep it clean, and keep it orderly. You will only see the guards when you are in the outer ‘shell’. Once you enter the ‘core’ it’s just us… and the sensors, turrets, and bots of course. We trustees are the bosses. We assign jobs, wipe noses, swat butts, and whatever else that needs doing. You have any questions or need something I’m your girl. Just come see Momma Bear and I’ll point you in the right direction.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Sheloran said meekly.
“You can drop that ‘ma’am’ bullshit. Call me either Lee or Momma Bear. We are here for a reason after all! I’m no better than you! I’ve just been here longer, that’s all!” she said with an odd look in her eye for a moment.
She shook herself.
“Anyway, stash your shit and I will show you around!”
***
“… and don’t screw with the bots,” Lee said as they strolled the block. “They aren’t packing stunners and they will kill you. If they say something, listen. They will only say it once.”
Sheloran just nodded as she looked around.
“And see the bot with the gold markings?” Lee continued. “Those are ‘manned’. There is a guard piloting it. You want to talk to the man, just talk to one of those. If you ever have a problem with someone or feel even a little unsafe and you can’t find me or if you don’t want to talk to me about it for some reason, go to a goldie. Just don’t try to ‘take care of it’ yourself. There are too many turrets and drones. You will die. I’m serious about that. Don’t test them.”
“Ok,” Sheloran squeaked.
“Let’s see...” Lee said as she looked out across the common area. “There!” she exclaimed as she pointed at a specially decorated gold drone. “See the one with the star? That’s officer Jax! He’s the block’s concierge officer. He’s your point of contact as far as the man goes. Between him and me we can take care of whatever you need. Let’s go say hello!”
***
Officer Jax was really nice.
After they met with him Lee said that she had to go and ‘take care’ of Roop.
With a big grin and a wave she left.
When it was time for lunch Sheloran was amazed. Everything was so yummy! Oh it was so nice! There was this massive salad bar loaded down with apples, and oranges, and bananas and those wonderful tomatoes that Terra had. Everything was so fresh! They say that it’s because they grow a lot of it here!
Oh! And the olive bar! Great Prophet it was so good!
And you could go back as much as you wanted!
They even had these ‘fountains’ that had chocolate pouring down the sides in thick sheets and you could dip fruit and bread and all sorts of things in it! Wow! She had never seen anything like that before!
She didn’t have her dispensary card yet but it was “sangria day” so she could get a glass or two (She discovered that she absolutely adored sangria!) and nobody minded. They just said that she could just ‘pour in’ next time. In fact they insisted and kept filling up her cup until a bot said that she had had enough. (Ok, just one more glass then that’s it!)
She was still nervous as anything but everyone was really nice to her. In fact, she was a bit of a celebrity. It turns out that she was all over the news and everyone knew what she had done and what she had said to Judge Dredd.
There were even people who wanted to be her boyfriend!…
And one person who wanted to be her girlfriend!
Everyone wants to be my ‘friend’ except for a pooping plath! Sheloran thought ruefully as she politely declined yet another offer.
She was a little bit flattered though. When people expressed ‘interest’ before it was because she was a ‘cute’ little xeno. They were interested in ‘what’ she was…
Here, they were offering because of ‘who’ she was, what she had done. They wanted to be with her because she was a badass, one of them.
It was different… and a little bit exciting if she was being perfectly honest. They actually wanted her! It didn’t matter if she was weird… or even that she was “bad”… They actually wanted her!
Maybe she could… No! Absolutely not! Poop! What was she thinking?
And she wasn’t ‘one of them’!…
Was she?…
Completely overwhelmed, she retreated to her room and locked the door.
She hoped that her cellie was nice.
She pulled a really nice blanket over her head and hid for awhile.
***
[Chatroom UNDEFINED]
[Private Chatroom UNDEFINED]
[Present: Bunny]
[Interpol-2 has entered the chat]
///Bunny: Oh shit! Five-Oh! Five-Oh!///
///Interpol-2: Good afternoon, Bunny :) Keeping out of trouble (at least in the Republic)? ///
///Bunny: Funny you should mention that...///
///Interpol-2: Goddammit, Bunny! YOU PROMISED!///
///Bunny: I promise a lot of shit :D ///
///Interpol-2: So why the summons? You just wanted to gloat?///
///Bunny: I need a teeny, tiny, almost insignificant little favor.///
///Interpol-2: You actually expect me to assist you in… BREAKING THE LAW?!?///
///Bunny: Yep! :D ///
///Interpol-2: I should just log off and issue an alert but I simply have to know. What the hell are you planning and exactly why the FUCK should I help you?///
///Bunny: You know the Tartarus Detention Facility?///
///Interpol-2: Bunny… You can’t be serious!///
///Bunny: :) ///
///Interpol-2: One. It’s impossible, even for you and two… there is no two! It’s suicide!///
///Bunny: Care to make a little wager then? The bet: We hit the place, break out exactly who we want and only who we want and then escape without a trace.///
///Interpol-2: I know we’ve enjoyed a little wager or two in the past but not this time! This is too much! The fucking Cerberus program is in there! Please tell me this isn’t about them!///
///Bunny: Relax, we aren’t touching any of the hounds. Even we have our limits! No, this is just good old-fashioned high treason. ///
///Interpol-2: High treason? WTF? I thought you guys were on our side!///
///Bunny: Relax, it has to do with the Kung-Fu Cunny. ///
///Interpol-2: Oh, that’s cool then! :D I’ll take a piece of that action! (but no touchy Cerberus!) God! It would be GREAT if Tart got taken down a peg or three!///
///Bunny: We’re going after a guest. We aren’t getting anywhere near the residential levels.///
///Interpol-2: And you need me to make this happen?///
///Bunny: Hell no! The day I need your help to pull off a job is the day I start doing people’s taxes for a living!///
///Interpol-2: Then what do you want?///
///Bunny: You want to hear something fucking hilarious?///
///Interpol-2: I could use a laugh. ///
***
Sheloran entered the dining hall expectantly.
If anything lunch was just a warm-up!
Supper was amazing! She grabbed a plate of grilled veggies and gleefully raided the salad bar.
She paused over the pile of goodies in front of her as she gave thanks to the Great Prophet for the feast. She might be stuck here for well… maybe forever… but at least the food was good!
She wondered what their gardens were like. She bet they were awesome and wondered how long it would be before she could see them.
As she raised the first forkful of goodness to her waiting mouth a blur zipped in and landed across from her.
“Hi!” a slightly built blonde female exclaimed. “I’m Zippo! Your cellie! Sorry I didn’t meet you before but the Bionids were launching a raid and we had to put those foul xenos down in the name of the Emperor!… Sorry… I don’t mean ‘xeno’ like you I mean ‘xeno’ like xenos! I play Grimdark! Do you like Grimdark? It’s awesome! You can read my books if you want! We have a great community here! I hear its even better once you become a Resident! You slash stuff up, huh? I saw the news! Pretty cool! I like fire! I burn stuff! I just can’t help it! I just love to watch flames you know! Did you know that fire meets all of the requirements for life itself? It does! That’s how I got here! I just kept burning stuff! Did you know you can start a fire with just...”
Oh Creators... Sheloran thought in horror. This was her pooping cell mate?… Great…
“… And they were really mean to me there, so I burned them up! Oh how they screamed! It was so funny!...”
Wait. What? Sheloran thought in alarm as she caught that last bit.
“You burned your cell mates?” Sheloran asked her eyes widening in alarm.
“Well, the people in my bay,” Zippo replied. “We didn’t have ‘cells’ we all lived in one big room which made it really easy to get them all! See what I did was...”
I have a killer for a cell mate… Great… Sheloran thought glumly and then chuckled. Of course she did. She was here after all.
“… and then BOOM! WOOSH!” Zippo said as she threw her arms wide. “Everything burned! I used to be a chemistry major! Straight A’s! That’s how I knew you could make-”
“Excuse me.” Sheloran said after she swallowed a slice of perfectly ripe avocado.
“Yeah?”
“Why did you burn your fellow prisoners again?”
“Because they wouldn’t stop beating on me! They said I talked too much! Anyway, like I was saying I used to be a chemistry major so I knew you could take the detergent and mix it with...”
There it is, Sheloran chuckled. She was wondering where the turd in the salad was. At least she spent most of the day playing that Grimdark game.
“… but don’t worry! I’m not burning anything anymore! I can’t! I don’t wanna die… or worse!”
“Worse?”
“You DON’T want to go where they send you if you get ‘voted off of the island’!”
“Where’s that?” Sheloran asked, quite concerned. Knowing the universe’s fondness for pooping on her head she was probably going to go there too.
“Oh it’s bad!” Zippo said with big eyes. “It’s called the-”
Zippo trailed off into wide-eyed silence as four elderly people quietly walked up.
“Good evening, Zip,” an old man said with a smile. “Mind if we chat with your friend here?”
“Sure!” Zippo squeaked and quickly grabbed her tray and fled.
“You’re welcome,” the man said as he sat down across from her. “Five minutes with that girl is more than enough for anyone. I’m Martin,” he said as he extended his hand.
“Sheloran, nice to meet you,” she replied as she shook it.
“Kid,” Martin said, “You got style. You handled your business, yourself. You didn’t send some punk. You even did it with style. Didn’t bother trying to run, just sat yourself down and ordered breakfast, even tipped your waiter. Class act. Much respect.”
“Um, thanks?”
“And you didn’t scrape and beg in front of that judge,” Martin smiled. “Fuck the Republic and Fuck you too… classic! Wish I had said something that badass when I was on trial.”
“That was kind of a mistake, actually,” Sheloran replied.
“Heh… probably,” Martin said as they all laughed. “But some mistakes you just gotta make!”
He leaned forward.
“I just got one question,” he asked. “Why did you do it? Why did you kill those fuckers?”
Sheloran just sighed. Just be yourself, right?
“They hurt my people,” Sheloran snarled. “innocent people, people who hadn’t done a pooping thing to anyone… made her kid watch while they...”
Sheloran hissed.
“Nobody hurts my people and gets away with it!”
The group all looked at each other and nodded.
“Kid,” Martin smiled. “You ever hear of ‘The Saints’?…”
“No?”
“We are a… professional association… of like minded individuals,” Martin smiled. “From all across the Republic… A ‘union’ of sorts… a union that you might benefit from joining.”
“Look, Martin,” Sheloran said carefully, “I appreciate it but I just want to get through this without getting in any more trouble...”
They all laughed.
“We aren’t some pissant prison gang,” Martin chuckled. “I’m talking about when you beat the rap. You are running a pretty nice little game on your own but as you have found out, it can be hard without people at your back… and with The Saints you can take your little game and make it a lot bigger. We don’t do shit here except our time. The only ‘perk’ you get here is that Zippo won’t crash your lunch. She steers clear of us. She doesn’t want the Orggs wiping out her legion like last time she crossed us.”
“Yeah, little bitch tried playing in the big leagues,” a silver-haired woman snarled. “We crunched up all her tasty little smurfs!”
“It’s the closest thing to a shanking we could manage around here,” Martin chuckled. Krista here does board games, I do cards, Sven handles the FPS and RTS racket. You game?
Sheloran smiled.
“A little...”
submitted by slightlyassholic to HFY [link] [comments]

The fractional odds are one of the easiest betting odds to read. You will recognize them by a slash or a dash connecting the two numbers. The first number says how much you will win, the second number – the stake. Let’s look at some soccer odds to explain the way it works. We will use the recent Premier League odds as an example. In Summary: Betting Odds Explained. Betting odds represent the probability of an outcome occurring and the return (profit) you will receive if your bet is a winner. It could be the likelihood of all of your final four betting picks being correct. The probability represented by betting odds is often referred to as the ‘implied probability’. The key to enjoyable betting is in knowing how to read the odds. We’ll break it all down into manageable chunks, covering the different bets and odds, and how to read them. What Are Odds? Before we get started, let’s take a look at what odds actually are. Odds are a set of numbers which indicate the likelihood of an event taking place. If you are planning to enter the betting or the gambling world, it is important to understand and interpret all types of odds well. Be it casino gambling, sports betting, or any other type, it’s important to understand the odds. Betting odds represent the probability of an outcome occurring and the winnings you will receive if your bet is a winner. This isn’t as complicated as it might sound and, by the time you’ve read our guide to betting odds, you’ll be an expert. American odds. You’re most likely to come across American odds when you’re betting at American sports betting sites. This odds expression indicates a bettor’s return relative to a base figure of 100 units

[index] [12117] [11449] [7739] [1760] [568] [3313] [13897] [5232] [4194] [2672]