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My Story. No tl;dr here. My hope is that you will read the whole thing

Friends,
I pray that this finds you well. You don't know me. For that matter, I don't know you either. What I do know is the love of the Messiah, and it is evident that you do as well. What a friend we have in Jesus then, who allows us to be fully known to each other through a similar calling, to minister and bring the gospel to those outside the gates - the rejected, marginalized, excommunicated and hurting - those who would be called an abomination by some who seek to claim God and Jesus for themselves, while ignoring the weightier matters of the Torah - justice, mercy, and trust.
I only recently became aware of you, and I am moved to reach out to you. In writing this brief overview of my story, I am hoping to generate a discussion and allyship, because I have seen and experienced firsthand the destructive nature of the "traditional" theology in the lives of LGBTQ believers, myself being one of them. I do not believe that I need to go into much detail about these things, since what has been made clear to me is clear to you as well.
I am a thirty something lesbian transwoman from Texas (read - I have that double gay). I was raised in a traditional southern baptist home, and I came to know Yeshua as my savior at the ripe old age of 5, while listening to Billy Graham on the TV. By that point in my life, I was already in the throes of being refined into the missional nature of God's calling on my life, even though it would take another 25 years for me to understand what that might look like, and three more after that for me to fully submit to it. I was just two years old when my parents separated, and 4 when they were divorced. At the time, and indeed into my twenties, I blamed myself for that, despite my mom’s courageous effort to the contrary. My dad disappeared out of my life, only making himself present when it was beneficial to him. He passed away in 2017, and I am pretty sure he didn't make it into the kingdom, but I remain hopeful that I am wrong about that. Being raised by a single mother, I knew early that the church, while caring for her and I, didn't condone their divorce. I have witnessed and shared in the shame and disgust that she struggled with until the day my dad passed. So when I fully came out, and began my transition, I experienced the typical "there was a disconnect in your childhood that gave you over to a propensity to sin" argument, and it hurt. It hurt to be told that being trans was a product of "sinful" parents, and that there was absolutely no way for me to be God fearing unless I abandoned the things which certain people considered to be sinful, and stopped acting contrary to nature. For reasons that would become known to me later, this didn't sit right.
A great many things have happened in my life, and my filters through which I view the world have been shaped through these experiences. My parents’ divorce was one of those. I didn't know how to quantify it at the time, but reflecting on my childhood there were indicators that I was trans. I used to pray to wake up a female as a young child. I always knew I was different, but I had no idea how to tell anyone that I felt like my body was incongruent with my mind, and how much it hurt to look in the mirror and know that I was different from other girls. Add to this that my mom and I were living in a community where I was the only white kid in my elementary school. It was a recipe for disaster already. My mom, in a valiant attempt to introduce me to positive male role models, unaware of my secret struggles, enrolled me in the boy scouts. I was about 10 years old when I was raped by my tent mate at boy scout camp. It would take another 20 something years for me to work through that alone and by the grace of God I have been able to overcome the damage caused by that and forgive my rapist.
Sometime around the age of 12, I came out for the first time to my mom. It was 1999, and I was beginning to understand that my mind and physical body were not in alignment with each other. I sat down with her one night and cried and told her the truth, that I felt like I wasn’t a boy, but a girl. I confessed to her that I knew this was sin, and would surely be sent to hell for it, and I just wanted to be normal. She did the best she could at the time, and consoled me, cried with me, and for the first time told me that she wasn't sure that my feelings were sinful. At the time, the best information and wisdom that we could seek were available at the church, and so that's where I went, especially since my struggle was with so-called sin. We were attending and active in the drama ministry at our church, I was active in my youth group, and on fire for the Lord. At a Wednesday youth service, I met with my youth pastor and confessed my truth. As you can imagine, I was bible thumped right back into the closet that I had just come out of. I won't mention his name, because I have yet to have the opportunity to communicate with him my forgiveness for his reaction, but I am eagerly awaiting the chance to do so.
In the years that followed, I attempted to do what most of us have done. I escaped into hyper-masculinity, and fervently tried to "pray the gay away". I started lifting weights, playing football, and every other masculine thing I could think of. I even joined FFA, tried my hardest to become an “all American man”, and adopted the racist, misogynistic, bigoted views of my new "friends". (Note- I wasn’t raised this way, nor does God condone this behavior. I was acting out of phobic views for myself. I ask for forgiveness from my family in Christ who have been directly or indirectly harmed by my actions and supposed views, and I have repented of these things.) During this time, I secretly explored my sexuality, and began walking away from God. Even though I never denied Him as my savior, I might as well have by the way living. I continued to struggle with what I termed at the time "cross-dressing" ( I don’t care for this term anymore, because it sexualizes and fetishizes trans people) since there wasn’t a better term for it. I indulged in the excess of life, without much regard for the kind of damage I was doing to my soul, and God's heart. As I progressed though my late teens and twenties, I abused both drugs and alcohol, often to the detriment to those around me, and to myself even though I didn't know it.
I was 21 when my first child, a daughter, was born out of wedlock. I was in a toxic relationship, and the pregnancy was purely unintentional on our behalf. Neither of us wanted a child at the time, however due only to God's grace we didn't abort her. (Note 2 – I fully support a woman’s right to choose, and I believe that the government should have no say in what we as humans do with our bodies.) I am so thankful for His intervention in this, since that was a viable option at the time, and could very well have been the outcome. We separated and decided that the best thing we could do was to raise her to understand how she came to be, and that it was much better for everyone if her mom and I weren't together.
I was working on a geotechnical research vessel in Mexico when I felt the call on my life to become a firefighter. So, at 23, I left the oilfield behind and began my journey to be obedient to this calling. I attended fire academy and EMT school (both are required to be a certified professional firefighter in Texas) and graduated with a 4.0 gpa at the top of my class. Please bear in mind that my secret struggle reared its ugly head in my life the ENTIRE time. I was able to keep it secret though, because since the first bible beating, I was determined to keep my struggles a secret. I carefully crafted this "all American man" image over years and was able to keep it up through cleverly contrived myths and lies, to everyone, including myself. In 2013 I met my now ex-wife and began dating her, and we were quickly in love, and married in 2014. This is where it gets interesting, and I believe the moment that God began actively working me and shaping me into the woman I am today.
Before we were married, and for the first time since I was 12, I confided in another human about my secret. To my surprise, she encouraged me to explore this side of myself. I actually remember praying that God would bring me a woman who would accept me for who I was, so when she did, I instantly (and wrongly, as I would later find out) believed that I was supposed to spend my life with her. Even though on the surface we were the average cis-heterosexual married couple, we were anything but behind closed doors. Shortly after we were married, we experienced two miscarriages back to back. I didn't know any better, but our relationship was toxic and destructive for both of us from the outset. In 2015, we attended a marriage retreat for firefighter couples, and it was there that she confessed to me that it was her desire to open up our marriage to a third party. Since she was so accepting of my secret, I felt like I needed to reciprocate, even though it made me angry and jealous on the inside. This same weekend, we got pregnant with our son, who was born premature in February of 2016. We stayed married, and tried our hardest to keep up appearances, even though we led a secret life. Both of us were so well versed in hiding ourselves by this point, it came almost naturally.
Fast forward to July 31, 2017. The date is burned in my mind because that is when everything changed. I was serving as a Driveoperator in the fire department(it was a full time career for me, not volunteer), and part of that role was to "ride-up" or take the place of the station lieutenant in their absence. It was a day like any other, I left for work about 4:30 am, and we had our usual fight that morning, which had become the norm. I arrived at work, tried to put it behind me, and began my duties that day as an acting LT. About noon, we were called to a house fire in a neighboring territory, on a 2nd alarm - a call for more resources. We arrived and quickly fell into our roles on the fireground. This story in and of itself would probably take me an hour to tell, so for the sake of being brief, I'll get to the moment where I came as close to death as I have ever come. About two hours into fighting the fire, I was in command of the crews operating on the 2nd floor of the house when the building collapsed around us. I was hit by a roof beam and knocked down the stairs, dislocating my shoulder and breaking my nose. This is where I must stop and proclaim the mercy of the living God. Had that beam hit me just a few inches to the right, I would not be here today. I am convinced in that moment God spared me, and my colleagues. Mercifully, I was the only one injured out of about 6 of us present when the collapse happened.
During my recovery, I attempted suicide three separate times, and became heavily addicted to marijuana and amphetamines. I have since been healed of these things, and I am happy to go into more detail about any specifics of my life with you at another time. I am only briefly touching on them here so that you can have an accurate understanding of the thick mire of death that God himself reached down and plucked me out of.
In order to tie all this together, it was during my recovery that God began leading me down the path that would eventually lead me to this story that I am writing to you today. I began to question the position of the church about people like me, since the "official" stance didn't include one critical point. It failed to consider those of us who were already believers. As I began to come out, and lead a double life, my ex and I drifted apart, separated, and divorced. I came out for the second time to my mom, but this time she was determined to see my through this journey, as I was determined to see it through myself, understanding that we are absolutely forgiven of our sins by the blood of the Messiah, and in executing the judgement common to all humanity against himself he wiped away the bill of charges against us, and we were separated from our old nature as far as the east is from the west. To put it frankly, this has been the most abandonment filled journey of my life. That scared me, since abandonment was probably one of my biggest fears, after being abandoned many times in my past. However, I discovered that the further I got from others; the closer God drew me to Him. How could this be, this amazing love, that in my "sin", a holy God, would draw closer to an unholy and dirty human? I know now that I was being prepared by him for my new mission.
While I am no longer a firefighteemt, I have maintained that God's calling on my life is to be a spiritual paramedic on the battlefield of society today, and specifically to others like myself, especially to the ones who have resigned themselves to the sex industry, since that’s the only place that actively validates them( at least on the surface). Finding you, and reading about others like me is, in my opinion, absolute confirmation of 1 Peter 2, where we are taught that never is a prophecy of scripture to be interpreted by an individual on their own, but that people moved by the Holy Spirit do the will of God. I am thankful that God has raised you up as allies.
I want to make it clear that I do not have the “theology” behind being trans all figured out. This is a journey, and it has taken me thirty plus years to arrive at this point. What I do know is that we as trans people are created by God to live a life worthy of His calling. I also know that we are at a deficit when it comes to discussion surrounding us, and right now, the loudest voices in the debate are those who would argue that anything outside of the proscribed gender binary cannot exist, and that we are making an active choice to decide what our gender is. No matter what your views are on the subject, the most important thing that you can do is trust someone who tells you that they don’t feel like they fit into this binary. We struggle with trusting even ourselves, so when we “come out” and we are met with being misgendered, either intentionally or otherwise, it is destructive. We as Christians know that the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy, so we should not do these things. I would encourage you to stand up for your trans siblings, and likewise for the trans community in general. You can trust that God will deliver a word that will settle the debate, just as He is doing for the rest of the community. My prayer is that we will all see the good fruits that come from simply acknowledging the struggles that trans/non-binary people deal with, and knowing that even though you may not have the answer, you have a concrete, solid foundation for how treat your fellow humans in the way Yeshua treated those who were considered unclean by society.
To my trans guys, gals, and non-binary pals, I want to offer you encouragement in your struggles, knowing that others like us throughout the world are struggling with the same fight, and you are not alone. The enemy tends to lie to us to make us feel like we are the only ones who are fighting this battle, and I hope to dismiss that lie. You aren’t alone, we exist, we are valid, and we are loved by God Most High for exactly who he created us to be. My prayer is that you will find alignment between your heart, body, soul, and mind, and that you will be at peace within yourselves.
I love you all with the love that flows from the Messiah,
Kaila
submitted by ADHDin4K to GayChristians [link] [comments]

My Story. No tl;dr here, I hope that you read the whole thing.

Friends,
I pray that this finds you well. You don't know me. For that matter, I don't know you either. What I do know is the love of the Messiah, and it is evident that you do as well. What a friend we have in Jesus then, who allows us to be fully known to each other through a similar calling, to minister and bring the gospel to those outside the gates - the rejected, marginalized, excommunicated and hurting - those who would be called an abomination by some who seek to claim God and Jesus for themselves, while ignoring the weightier matters of the Torah - justice, mercy, and trust.
I only recently became aware of you, and I am moved to reach out to you. In writing this brief overview of my story, I am hoping to generate a discussion and allyship, because I have seen and experienced firsthand the destructive nature of the "traditional" theology in the lives of LGBTQ believers, myself being one of them. I do not believe that I need to go into much detail about these things, since what has been made clear to me is clear to you as well.
I am a thirty something lesbian transwoman from Texas (read - I have that double gay). I was raised in a traditional southern baptist home, and I came to know Yeshua as my savior at the ripe old age of 5, while listening to Billy Graham on the TV. By that point in my life, I was already in the throes of being refined into the missional nature of God's calling on my life, even though it would take another 25 years for me to understand what that might look like, and three more after that for me to fully submit to it. I was just two years old when my parents separated, and 4 when they were divorced. At the time, and indeed into my twenties, I blamed myself for that, despite my mom’s courageous effort to the contrary. My dad disappeared out of my life, only making himself present when it was beneficial to him. He passed away in 2017, and I am pretty sure he didn't make it into the kingdom, but I remain hopeful that I am wrong about that. Being raised by a single mother, I knew early that the church, while caring for her and I, didn't condone their divorce. I have witnessed and shared in the shame and disgust that she struggled with until the day my dad passed. So when I fully came out, and began my transition, I experienced the typical "there was a disconnect in your childhood that gave you over to a propensity to sin" argument, and it hurt. It hurt to be told that being trans was a product of "sinful" parents, and that there was absolutely no way for me to be God fearing unless I abandoned the things which certain people considered to be sinful, and stopped acting contrary to nature. For reasons that would become known to me later, this didn't sit right.
A great many things have happened in my life, and my filters through which I view the world have been shaped through these experiences. My parents’ divorce was one of those. I didn't know how to quantify it at the time, but reflecting on my childhood there were indicators that I was trans. I used to pray to wake up a female as a young child. I always knew I was different, but I had no idea how to tell anyone that I felt like my body was incongruent with my mind, and how much it hurt to look in the mirror and know that I was different from other girls. Add to this that my mom and I were living in a community where I was the only white kid in my elementary school. It was a recipe for disaster already. My mom, in a valiant attempt to introduce me to positive male role models, unaware of my secret struggles, enrolled me in the boy scouts. I was about 10 years old when I was raped by my tent mate at boy scout camp. It would take another 20 something years for me to work through that alone and by the grace of God I have been able to overcome the damage caused by that and forgive my rapist.
Sometime around the age of 12, I came out for the first time to my mom. It was 1999, and I was beginning to understand that my mind and physical body were not in alignment with each other. I sat down with her one night and cried and told her the truth, that I felt like I wasn’t a boy, but a girl. I confessed to her that I knew this was sin, and would surely be sent to hell for it, and I just wanted to be normal. She did the best she could at the time, and consoled me, cried with me, and for the first time told me that she wasn't sure that my feelings were sinful. At the time, the best information and wisdom that we could seek were available at the church, and so that's where I went, especially since my struggle was with so-called sin. We were attending and active in the drama ministry at our church, I was active in my youth group, and on fire for the Lord. At a Wednesday youth service, I met with my youth pastor and confessed my truth. As you can imagine, I was bible thumped right back into the closet that I had just come out of. I won't mention his name, because I have yet to have the opportunity to communicate with him my forgiveness for his reaction, but I am eagerly awaiting the chance to do so.
In the years that followed, I attempted to do what most of us have done. I escaped into hyper-masculinity, and fervently tried to "pray the gay away". I started lifting weights, playing football, and every other masculine thing I could think of. I even joined FFA, tried my hardest to become an “all American man”, and adopted the racist, misogynistic, bigoted views of my new "friends". (Note- I wasn’t raised this way, nor does God condone this behavior. I was acting out of phobic views for myself. I ask for forgiveness from my family in Christ who have been directly or indirectly harmed by my actions and supposed views, and I have repented of these things.) During this time, I secretly explored my sexuality, and began walking away from God. Even though I never denied Him as my savior, I might as well have by the way living. I continued to struggle with what I termed at the time "cross-dressing" ( I don’t care for this term anymore, because it sexualizes and fetishizes trans people) since there wasn’t a better term for it. I indulged in the excess of life, without much regard for the kind of damage I was doing to my soul, and God's heart. As I progressed though my late teens and twenties, I abused both drugs and alcohol, often to the detriment to those around me, and to myself even though I didn't know it.
I was 21 when my first child, a daughter, was born out of wedlock. I was in a toxic relationship, and the pregnancy was purely unintentional on our behalf. Neither of us wanted a child at the time, however due only to God's grace we didn't abort her. (Note 2 – I fully support a woman’s right to choose, and I believe that the government should have no say in what we as humans do with our bodies.) I am so thankful for His intervention in this, since that was a viable option at the time, and could very well have been the outcome. We separated and decided that the best thing we could do was to raise her to understand how she came to be, and that it was much better for everyone if her mom and I weren't together.
I was working on a geotechnical research vessel in Mexico when I felt the call on my life to become a firefighter. So, at 23, I left the oilfield behind and began my journey to be obedient to this calling. I attended fire academy and EMT school (both are required to be a certified professional firefighter in Texas) and graduated with a 4.0 gpa at the top of my class. Please bear in mind that my secret struggle reared its ugly head in my life the ENTIRE time. I was able to keep it secret though, because since the first bible beating, I was determined to keep my struggles a secret. I carefully crafted this "all American man" image over years and was able to keep it up through cleverly contrived myths and lies, to everyone, including myself. In 2013 I met my now ex-wife and began dating her, and we were quickly in love, and married in 2014. This is where it gets interesting, and I believe the moment that God began actively working me and shaping me into the woman I am today.
Before we were married, and for the first time since I was 12, I confided in another human about my secret. To my surprise, she encouraged me to explore this side of myself. I actually remember praying that God would bring me a woman who would accept me for who I was, so when she did, I instantly (and wrongly, as I would later find out) believed that I was supposed to spend my life with her. Even though on the surface we were the average cis-heterosexual married couple, we were anything but behind closed doors. Shortly after we were married, we experienced two miscarriages back to back. I didn't know any better, but our relationship was toxic and destructive for both of us from the outset. In 2015, we attended a marriage retreat for firefighter couples, and it was there that she confessed to me that it was her desire to open up our marriage to a third party. Since she was so accepting of my secret, I felt like I needed to reciprocate, even though it made me angry and jealous on the inside. This same weekend, we got pregnant with our son, who was born premature in February of 2016. We stayed married, and tried our hardest to keep up appearances, even though we led a secret life. Both of us were so well versed in hiding ourselves by this point, it came almost naturally.
Fast forward to July 31, 2017. The date is burned in my mind because that is when everything changed. I was serving as a Driveoperator in the fire department(it was a full time career for me, not volunteer), and part of that role was to "ride-up" or take the place of the station lieutenant in their absence. It was a day like any other, I left for work about 4:30 am, and we had our usual fight that morning, which had become the norm. I arrived at work, tried to put it behind me, and began my duties that day as an acting LT. About noon, we were called to a house fire in a neighboring territory, on a 2nd alarm - a call for more resources. We arrived and quickly fell into our roles on the fireground. This story in and of itself would probably take me an hour to tell, so for the sake of being brief, I'll get to the moment where I came as close to death as I have ever come. About two hours into fighting the fire, I was in command of the crews operating on the 2nd floor of the house when the building collapsed around us. I was hit by a roof beam and knocked down the stairs, dislocating my shoulder and breaking my nose. This is where I must stop and proclaim the mercy of the living God. Had that beam hit me just a few inches to the right, I would not be here today. I am convinced in that moment God spared me, and my colleagues. Mercifully, I was the only one injured out of about 6 of us present when the collapse happened.
During my recovery, I attempted suicide three separate times, and became heavily addicted to marijuana and amphetamines. I have since been healed of these things, and I am happy to go into more detail about any specifics of my life with you at another time. I am only briefly touching on them here so that you can have an accurate understanding of the thick mire of death that God himself reached down and plucked me out of.
In order to tie all this together, it was during my recovery that God began leading me down the path that would eventually lead me to this story that I am writing to you today. I began to question the position of the church about people like me, since the "official" stance didn't include one critical point. It failed to consider those of us who were already believers. As I began to come out, and lead a double life, my ex and I drifted apart, separated, and divorced. I came out for the second time to my mom, but this time she was determined to see my through this journey, as I was determined to see it through myself, understanding that we are absolutely forgiven of our sins by the blood of the Messiah, and in executing the judgement common to all humanity against himself he wiped away the bill of charges against us, and we were separated from our old nature as far as the east is from the west. To put it frankly, this has been the most abandonment filled journey of my life. That scared me, since abandonment was probably one of my biggest fears, after being abandoned many times in my past. However, I discovered that the further I got from others; the closer God drew me to Him. How could this be, this amazing love, that in my "sin", a holy God, would draw closer to an unholy and dirty human? I know now that I was being prepared by him for my new mission.
While I am no longer a firefighteemt, I have maintained that God's calling on my life is to be a spiritual paramedic on the battlefield of society today, and specifically to others like myself, especially to the ones who have resigned themselves to the sex industry, since that’s the only place that actively validates them( at least on the surface). Finding you, and reading about others like me is, in my opinion, absolute confirmation of 1 Peter 2, where we are taught that never is a prophecy of scripture to be interpreted by an individual on their own, but that people moved by the Holy Spirit do the will of God. I am thankful that God has raised you up as allies.
I want to make it clear that I do not have the “theology” behind being trans all figured out. This is a journey, and it has taken me thirty plus years to arrive at this point. What I do know is that we as trans people are created by God to live a life worthy of His calling. I also know that we are at a deficit when it comes to discussion surrounding us, and right now, the loudest voices in the debate are those who would argue that anything outside of the proscribed gender binary cannot exist, and that we are making an active choice to decide what our gender is. No matter what your views are on the subject, the most important thing that you can do is trust someone who tells you that they don’t feel like they fit into this binary. We struggle with trusting even ourselves, so when we “come out” and we are met with being misgendered, either intentionally or otherwise, it is destructive. We as Christians know that the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy, so we should not do these things. I would encourage you to stand up for your trans siblings, and likewise for the trans community in general. You can trust that God will deliver a word that will settle the debate, just as He is doing for the rest of the community. My prayer is that we will all see the good fruits that come from simply acknowledging the struggles that trans/non-binary people deal with, and knowing that even though you may not have the answer, you have a concrete, solid foundation for how treat your fellow humans in the way Yeshua treated those who were considered unclean by society.
To my trans guys, gals, and non-binary pals, I want to offer you encouragement in your struggles, knowing that others like us throughout the world are struggling with the same fight, and you are not alone. The enemy tends to lie to us to make us feel like we are the only ones who are fighting this battle, and I hope to dismiss that lie. You aren’t alone, we exist, we are valid, and we are loved by God Most High for exactly who he created us to be. My prayer is that you will find alignment between your heart, body, soul, and mind, and that you will be at peace within yourselves.
I love you all with the love that flows from the Messiah,
Kaila
submitted by ADHDin4K to TransChristianity [link] [comments]

2 months back at trading (update) and some new questions

Hi all, I posted a thread back a few months ago when I started getting seriously back into trading after 20 years away. I thought I'd post an update with some notes on how I'm progressing. I like to type, so settle in. Maybe it'll help new traders who are exactly where I was 2 months ago, I dunno. Or maybe you'll wonder why you spent 3 minutes reading this. Risk/reward, yo.
I'm trading 5k on TastyWorks. I'm a newcomer to theta positive strategies and have done about two thirds of my overall trades in this style. However, most of my experience in trading in the past has been intraday timeframe oriented chart reading and momentum stuff. I learned almost everything "new" that I'm doing from TastyTrade, /options, /thetagang, and Option Alpha. I've enjoyed the material coming from esinvests YouTube channel quite a bit as well. The theta gang type strategies I've done have been almost entirely around binary event IV contraction (mostly earnings, but not always) and in most cases, capped to about $250 in risk per position.
The raw numbers:
Net PnL : +247
Commissions paid: -155
Fees: -42
Right away what jumps out is something that was indicated by realdeal43 and PapaCharlie9 in my previous thread. This is a tough, grindy way to trade a small account. It reminds me a little bit of when I was rising through the stakes in online poker, playing $2/4 limit holdem. Even if you're a profitable player in that game, beating the rake over the long term is very, very hard. Here, over 3 months of trading a conservative style with mostly defined risk strategies, my commissions are roughly equal to my net PnL. That is just insane, and I don't even think I've been overtrading.
55 trades total, win rate of 60%
22 neutral / other trades
Biggest wins:
Biggest losses:
This is pretty much where I expected to be while learning a bunch of new trading techniques. And no, this is not a large sample size so I have no idea whether or not I can be profitable trading this way (yet). I am heartened by the fact that I seem to be hitting my earnings trades and selling quick spikes in IV (like weed cures Corona day). I'm disheartened that I've went against my principles several times, holding trades for longer than I originally intended, or letting losses mount, believing that I could roll or manage my way out of trouble.
I still feel like I am going against my nature to some degree. My trading in years past was scalping oriented and simple. I was taught that a good trade was right almost immediately. If it went against me, I'd cut it immediately and look for a better entry. This is absolutely nothing like that. A good trade may take weeks to develop. It's been really hard for me to sit through the troughs and it's been even harder to watch an okay profit get taken out by a big swing in delta. Part of me wonders if I am cut out for this style at all and if I shouldn't just take my 5k and start trading micro futures. But that's a different post...
I'll share a couple of my meager learnings:


My new questions :

That's enough of this wall of text for now. If you made it this far, I salute you, because this shit was even longer than my last post.
submitted by bogglor to options [link] [comments]

AJ ALMENDINGER

glimpse into the future of Roblox

Our vision to bring the world together through play has never been more relevant than it is now. As our founder and CEO, David Baszucki (a.k.a. Builderman), mentioned in his keynote, more and more people are using Roblox to stay connected with their friends and loved ones. He hinted at a future where, with our automatic machine translation technology, Roblox will one day act as a universal translator, enabling people from different cultures and backgrounds to connect and learn from each other.
During his keynote, Builderman also elaborated upon our vision to build the Metaverse; the future of avatar creation on the platform (infinitely customizable avatars that allow any body, any clothing, and any animation to come together seamlessly); more personalized game discovery; and simulating large social gatherings (like concerts, graduations, conferences, etc.) with tens of thousands of participants all in one server. We’re still very early on in this journey, but if these past five months have shown us anything, it’s clear that there is a growing need for human co-experience platforms like Roblox that allow people to play, create, learn, work, and share experiences together in a safe, civil 3D immersive space.
Up next, our VP of Developer Relations, Matt Curtis (a.k.a. m4rrh3w), shared an update on all the things we’re doing to continue empowering developers to create innovative and exciting content through collaboration, support, and expertise. He also highlighted some of the impressive milestones our creator community has achieved since last year’s RDC. Here are a few key takeaways:
And lastly, our VP of Engineering, Technology, Adam Miller (a.k.a. rbadam), unveiled a myriad of cool and upcoming features developers will someday be able to sink their teeth into. We saw a glimpse of procedural skies, skinned meshes, more high-quality materials, new terrain types, more fonts in Studio, a new asset type for in-game videos, haptic feedback on mobile, real-time CSG operations, and many more awesome tools that will unlock the potential for even bigger, more immersive experiences on Roblox.

Vibin’

Despite the virtual setting, RDC just wouldn’t have been the same without any fun party activities and networking opportunities. So, we invited special guests DJ Hyper Potions and cyber mentalist Colin Cloud for some truly awesome, truly mind-bending entertainment. Yoga instructor Erin Gilmore also swung by to inspire attendees to get out of their chair and get their body moving. And of course, we even had virtual rooms dedicated to karaoke and head-to-head social games, like trivia and Pictionary.
Over on the networking side, Team Adopt Me, Red Manta, StyLiS Studios, and Summit Studios hosted a virtual booth for attendees to ask questions, submit resumes, and more. We also had a networking session where three participants would be randomly grouped together to get to know each other.

What does Roblox mean to you?

We all know how talented the Roblox community is from your creations. We’ve heard plenty of stories over the years about how Roblox has touched your lives, how you’ve made friendships, learned new skills, or simply found a place where you can be yourself. We wanted to hear more. So, we asked attendees: What does Roblox mean to you? How has Roblox connected you? How has Roblox changed your life? Then, over the course of RDC, we incorporated your responses into this awesome mural.
📷
Created by Alece Birnbach at Graphic Recording Studio

Knowledge is power

This year’s breakout sessions included presentations from Roblox developers and staff members on the latest game development strategies, a deep dive into the Roblox engine, learning how to animate with Blender, tools for working together in teams, building performant game worlds, and the new Creator Dashboard. Dr. Michael Rich, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and Physician at Boston Children’s Hospital, also led attendees through a discussion on mental health and how to best take care of you and your friends’ emotional well-being, especially now during these challenging times.
📷
Making the Dream Work with Teamwork (presented by Roblox developer Myzta)
In addition to our traditional Q&A panel with top product and engineering leaders at Roblox, we also held a special session with Builderman himself to answer the community’s biggest questions.
📷
Roblox Product and Engineering Q&A Panel

2020 Game Jam

The Game Jam is always one of our favorite events of RDC. It’s a chance for folks to come together, flex their development skills, and come up with wildly inventive game ideas that really push the boundaries of what’s possible on Roblox. We had over 60 submissions this year—a new RDC record.
Once again, teams of up to six people from around the world had less than 24 hours to conceptualize, design, and publish a game based on the theme “2020 Vision,” all while working remotely no less! To achieve such a feat is nothing short of awe-inspiring, but as always, our dev community was more than up for the challenge. I’ve got to say, these were some of the finest creations we’ve seen.
WINNERS
Best in Show: Shapescape Created By: GhettoMilkMan, dayzeedog, maplestick, theloudscream, Brick_man, ilyannna You awaken in a strange laboratory, seemingly with no way out. Using a pair of special glasses, players must solve a series of anamorphic puzzles and optical illusions to make their escape.
Excellence in Visual Art: agn●sia Created By: boatbomber, thisfall, Elttob An obby experience unlike any other, this game is all about seeing the world through a different lens. Reveal platforms by switching between different colored lenses and make your way to the end.
Most Creative Gameplay: Visions of a perspective reality Created By: Noble_Draconian and Spathi Sometimes all it takes is a change in perspective to solve challenges. By switching between 2D and 3D perspectives, players can maneuver around obstacles or find new ways to reach the end of each level.
Outstanding Use of Tech: The Eyes of Providence Created By: Quenty, Arch_Mage, AlgyLacey, xJennyBeanx, Zomebody, Crykee This action/strategy game comes with a unique VR twist. While teams fight to construct the superior monument, two VR players can support their minions by collecting resources and manipulating the map.
Best Use of Theme: Sticker Situation Created By: dragonfrosting and Yozoh Set in a mysterious art gallery, players must solve puzzles by manipulating the environment using a magic camera and stickers. Snap a photograph, place down a sticker, and see how it changes the world.
OTHER TOP PICKS
HONORABLE MENTIONS
For the rest of the 2020 Game Jam submissions, check out the list below:
20-20 Vision | 20/20 Vision | 2020 Vision, A Crazy Perspective | 2020 Vision: Nyon | A Wild Trip! | Acuity | Best Year Ever | Better Half | Bloxlabs | Climb Stairs to 2021 | Double Vision (Team hey apple) | Eyebrawl | Eyeworm Exam | FIRE 2020 | HACKED | Hyperspective | Lucid Scream | Mystery Mansion | New Years at the Museum | New Year’s Bash | Poor Vision | Predict 2020 | RBC News | Retrovertigo | Second Wave | see no evil | Sight Fight | Sight Stealers | Spectacles Struggle | Specter Spectrum | Survive 2020 | The Lost Chicken Leg | The Outbreak | The Spyglass | Time Heist | Tunnel Vision | Virtual RDC – The Story | Vision (Team Freepunk) | Vision (Team VIP People ####) | Vision Developers Conference 2020 | Vision Is Key | Vision Perspective | Vision Racer | Visions | Zepto
And last but not least, we wanted to give a special shout out to Starboard Studios. Though they didn’t quite make it on time for our judges, we just had to include Dave’s Vision for good measure. 📷
Thanks to everyone who participated in the Game Jam, and congrats to all those who took home the dub in each of our categories this year. As the winners of Best in Show, the developers of Shapescape will have their names forever engraved on the RDC Game Jam trophy back at Roblox HQ. Great work!

‘Til next year

And that about wraps up our coverage of the first-ever digital RDC. Thanks to all who attended! Before we go, we wanted to share a special “behind the scenes” video from the 2020 RDC photoshoot.
Check it out:
It was absolutely bonkers. Getting 350 of us all in one server was so much fun and really brought back the feeling of being together with everyone again. That being said, we can’t wait to see you all—for real this time—at RDC next year. It’s going to be well worth the wait. ‘Til we meet again, my friends.
© 2020 Roblox Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Improving Simulation and Performance with an Advanced Physics Solver

August

05, 2020

by chefdeletat
PRODUCT & TECH
📷In mid-2015, Roblox unveiled a major upgrade to its physics engine: the Projected Gauss-Seidel (PGS) physics solver. For the first year, the new solver was optional and provided improved fidelity and greater performance compared to the previously used spring solver.
In 2016, we added support for a diverse set of new physics constraints, incentivizing developers to migrate to the new solver and extending the creative capabilities of the physics engine. Any new places used the PGS solver by default, with the option of reverting back to the classic solver.
We ironed out some stability issues associated with high mass differences and complex mechanisms by the introduction of the hybrid LDL-PGS solver in mid-2018. This made the old solver obsolete, and it was completely disabled in 2019, automatically migrating all places to the PGS.
In 2019, the performance was further improved using multi-threading that splits the simulation into jobs consisting of connected islands of simulating parts. We still had performance issues related to the LDL that we finally resolved in early 2020.
The physics engine is still being improved and optimized for performance, and we plan on adding new features for the foreseeable future.

Implementing the Laws of Physics

📷
The main objective of a physics engine is to simulate the motion of bodies in a virtual environment. In our physics engine, we care about bodies that are rigid, that collide and have constraints with each other.
A physics engine is organized into two phases: collision detection and solving. Collision detection finds intersections between geometries associated with the rigid bodies, generating appropriate collision information such as collision points, normals and penetration depths. Then a solver updates the motion of rigid bodies under the influence of the collisions that were detected and constraints that were provided by the user.
📷
The motion is the result of the solver interpreting the laws of physics, such as conservation of energy and momentum. But doing this 100% accurately is prohibitively expensive, and the trick to simulating it in real-time is to approximate to increase performance, as long as the result is physically realistic. As long as the basic laws of motion are maintained within a reasonable tolerance, this tradeoff is completely acceptable for a computer game simulation.

Taking Small Steps

The main idea of the physics engine is to discretize the motion using time-stepping. The equations of motion of constrained and unconstrained rigid bodies are very difficult to integrate directly and accurately. The discretization subdivides the motion into small time increments, where the equations are simplified and linearized making it possible to solve them approximately. This means that during each time step the motion of the relevant parts of rigid bodies that are involved in a constraint is linearly approximated.
📷📷
Although a linearized problem is easier to solve, it produces drift in a simulation containing non-linear behaviors, like rotational motion. Later we’ll see mitigation methods that help reduce the drift and make the simulation more plausible.

Solving

📷
Having linearized the equations of motion for a time step, we end up needing to solve a linear system or linear complementarity problem (LCP). These systems can be arbitrarily large and can still be quite expensive to solve exactly. Again the trick is to find an approximate solution using a faster method. A modern method to approximately solve an LCP with good convergence properties is the Projected Gauss-Seidel (PGS). It is an iterative method, meaning that with each iteration the approximate solution is brought closer to the true solution, and its final accuracy depends on the number of iterations.
📷
This animation shows how a PGS solver changes the positions of the bodies at each step of the iteration process, the objective being to find the positions that respect the ball and socket constraints while preserving the center of mass at each step (this is a type of positional solver used by the IK dragger). Although this example has a simple analytical solution, it’s a good demonstration of the idea behind the PGS. At each step, the solver fixes one of the constraints and lets the other be violated. After a few iterations, the bodies are very close to their correct positions. A characteristic of this method is how some rigid bodies seem to vibrate around their final position, especially when coupling interactions with heavier bodies. If we don’t do enough iterations, the yellow part might be left in a visibly invalid state where one of its two constraints is dramatically violated. This is called the high mass ratio problem, and it has been the bane of physics engines as it causes instabilities and explosions. If we do too many iterations, the solver becomes too slow, if we don’t it becomes unstable. Balancing the two sides has been a painful and long process.

Mitigation Strategies

📷A solver has two major sources of inaccuracies: time-stepping and iterative solving (there is also floating point drift but it’s minor compared to the first two). These inaccuracies introduce errors in the simulation causing it to drift from the correct path. Some of this drift is tolerable like slightly different velocities or energy loss, but some are not like instabilities, large energy gains or dislocated constraints.
Therefore a lot of the complexity in the solver comes from the implementation of methods to minimize the impact of computational inaccuracies. Our final implementation uses some traditional and some novel mitigation strategies:
  1. Warm starting: starting with the solution from a previous time-step to increase the convergence rate of the iterative solver
  2. Post-stabilization: reprojecting the system back to the constraint manifold to prevent constraint drift
  3. Regularization: adding compliance to the constraints ensuring a solution exists and is unique
  4. Pre-conditioning: using an exact solution to a linear subsystem, improving the stability of complex mechanisms
Strategies 1, 2 and 3 are pretty traditional, but 3 has been improved and perfected by us. Also, although 4 is not unheard of, we haven’t seen any practical implementation of it. We use an original factorization method for large sparse constraint matrices and a new efficient way of combining it with the PGS. The resulting implementation is only slightly slower compared to pure PGS but ensures that the linear system coming from equality constraints is solved exactly. Consequently, the equality constraints suffer only from drift coming from the time discretization. Details on our methods are contained in my GDC 2020 presentation. Currently, we are investigating direct methods applied to inequality constraints and collisions.

Getting More Details

Traditionally there are two mathematical models for articulated mechanisms: there are reduced coordinate methods spearheaded by Featherstone, that parametrize the degrees of freedom at each joint, and there are full coordinate methods that use a Lagrangian formulation.
We use the second formulation as it is less restrictive and requires much simpler mathematics and implementation.
The Roblox engine uses analytical methods to compute the dynamic response of constraints, as opposed to penalty methods that were used before. Analytics methods were initially introduced in Baraff 1989, where they are used to treat both equality and non-equality constraints in a consistent manner. Baraff observed that the contact model can be formulated using quadratic programming, and he provided a heuristic solution method (which is not the method we use in our solver).
Instead of using force-based formulation, we use an impulse-based formulation in velocity space, originally introduced by Mirtich-Canny 1995 and further improved by Stewart-Trinkle 1996, which unifies the treatment of different contact types and guarantees the existence of a solution for contacts with friction. At each timestep, the constraints and collisions are maintained by applying instantaneous changes in velocities due to constraint impulses. An excellent explanation of why impulse-based simulation is superior is contained in the GDC presentation of Catto 2014.
The frictionless contacts are modeled using a linear complementarity problem (LCP) as described in Baraff 1994. Friction is added as a non-linear projection onto the friction cone, interleaved with the iterations of the Projected Gauss-Seidel.
The numerical drift that introduces positional errors in the constraints is resolved using a post-stabilization technique using pseudo-velocities introduced by Cline-Pai 2003. It involves solving a second LCP in the position space, which projects the system back to the constraint manifold.
The LCPs are solved using a PGS / Impulse Solver popularized by Catto 2005 (also see Catto 2009). This method is iterative and considers each individual constraints in sequence and resolves it independently. Over many iterations, and in ideal conditions, the system converges to a global solution.
Additionally, high mass ratio issues in equality constraints are ironed out by preconditioning the PGS using the sparse LDL decomposition of the constraint matrix of equality constraints. Dense submatrices of the constraint matrix are sparsified using a method we call Body Splitting. This is similar to the LDL decomposition used in Baraff 1996, but allows more general mechanical systems, and solves the system in constraint space. For more information, you can see my GDC 2020 presentation.
The architecture of our solver follows the idea of Guendelman-Bridson-Fedkiw, where the velocity and position stepping are separated by the constraint resolution. Our time sequencing is:
  1. Advance velocities
  2. Constraint resolution in velocity space and position space
  3. Advance positions
This scheme has the advantage of integrating only valid velocities, and limiting latency in external force application but allowing a small amount of perceived constraint violation due to numerical drift.
An excellent reference for rigid body simulation is the book Erleben 2005 that was recently made freely available. You can find online lectures about physics-based animation, a blog by Nilson Souto on building a physics engine, a very good GDC presentation by Erin Catto on modern solver methods, and forums like the Bullet Physics Forum and GameDev which are excellent places to ask questions.

In Conclusion

The field of game physics simulation presents many interesting problems that are both exciting and challenging. There are opportunities to learn a substantial amount of cool mathematics and physics and to use modern optimizations techniques. It’s an area of game development that tightly marries mathematics, physics and software engineering.
Even if Roblox has a good rigid body physics engine, there are areas where it can be improved and optimized. Also, we are working on exciting new projects like fracturing, deformation, softbody, cloth, aerodynamics and water simulation.
Neither Roblox Corporation nor this blog endorses or supports any company or service. Also, no guarantees or promises are made regarding the accuracy, reliability or completeness of the information contained in this blog.
This blog post was originally published on the Roblox Tech Blog.
© 2020 Roblox Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Using Clang to Minimize Global Variable Use

July

23, 2020

by RandomTruffle
PRODUCT & TECH
Every non-trivial program has at least some amount of global state, but too much can be a bad thing. In C++ (which constitutes close to 100% of Roblox’s engine code) this global state is initialized before main() and destroyed after returning from main(), and this happens in a mostly non-deterministic order. In addition to leading to confusing startup and shutdown semantics that are difficult to reason about (or change), it can also lead to severe instability.
Roblox code also creates a lot of long-running detached threads (threads which are never joined and just run until they decide to stop, which might be never). These two things together have a very serious negative interaction on shutdown, because long-running threads continue accessing the global state that is being destroyed. This can lead to elevated crash rates, test suite flakiness, and just general instability.
The first step to digging yourself out of a mess like this is to understand the extent of the problem, so in this post I’m going to talk about one technique you can use to gain visibility into your global startup flow. I’m also going to discuss how we are using this to improve stability across the entire Roblox game engine platform by decreasing our use of global variables.

Introducing -finstrument-functions

Nothing excites me more than learning about a new obscure compiler option that I’ve never had a use for before, so I was pretty happy when a colleague pointed me to this option in the Clang Command Line Reference. I’d never used it before, but it sounded very cool. The idea being that if we could get the compiler to tell us every time it entered and exited a function, we could filter this information through a symbolizer of some kind and generate a report of functions that a) occur before main(), and b) are the very first function in the call-stack (indicating it’s a global).
Unfortunately, the documentation basically just tells you that the option exists with no mention of how to use it or if it even actually does what it sounds like it does. There’s also two different options that sound similar to each other (-finstrument-functions and -finstrument-functions-after-inlining), and I still wasn’t entirely sure what the difference was. So I decided to throw up a quick sample on godbolt to see what happened, which you can see here. Note there are two assembly outputs for the same source listing. One uses the first option and the other uses the second option, and we can compare the assembly output to understand the differences. We can gather a few takeaways from this sample:
  1. The compiler is injecting calls to __cyg_profile_func_enter and __cyg_profile_func_exit inside of every function, inline or not.
  2. The only difference between the two options occurs at the call-site of an inline function.
  3. With -finstrument-functions, the instrumentation for the inlined function is inserted at the call-site, whereas with -finstrument-functions-after-inlining we only have instrumentation for the outer function. This means that when using-finstrument-functions-after-inlining you won’t be able to determine which functions are inlined and where.
Of course, this sounds exactly like what the documentation said it did, but sometimes you just need to look under the hood to convince yourself.
To put all of this another way, if we want to know about calls to inline functions in this trace we need to use -finstrument-functions because otherwise their instrumentation is silently removed by the compiler. Sadly, I was never able to get -finstrument-functions to work on a real example. I would always end up with linker errors deep in the Standard C++ Library which I was unable to figure out. My best guess is that inlining is often a heuristic, and this can somehow lead to subtle ODR (one-definition rule) violations when the optimizer makes different inlining decisions from different translation units. Luckily global constructors (which is what we care about) cannot possibly be inlined anyway, so this wasn’t a problem.
I suppose I should also mention that I still got tons of linker errors with -finstrument-functions-after-inlining as well, but I did figure those out. As best as I can tell, this option seems to imply –whole-archive linker semantics. Discussion of –whole-archive is outside the scope of this blog post, but suffice it to say that I fixed it by using linker groups (e.g. -Wl,–start-group and -Wl,–end-group) on the compiler command line. I was a bit surprised that we didn’t get these same linker errors without this option and still don’t totally understand why. If you happen to know why this option would change linker semantics, please let me know in the comments!

Implementing the Callback Hooks

If you’re astute, you may be wondering what in the world __cyg_profile_func_enter and __cyg_profile_func_exit are and why the program is even successfully linking in the first without giving undefined symbol reference errors, since the compiler is apparently trying to call some function we’ve never defined. Luckily, there are some options that allow us to see inside the linker’s algorithm so we can find out where it’s getting this symbol from to begin with. Specifically, -y should tell us how the linker is resolving . We’ll try it with a dummy program first and a symbol that we’ve defined ourselves, then we’ll try it with __cyg_profile_func_enter .
[email protected]:~/src/sandbox$ cat instr.cpp int main() {} [email protected]:~/src/sandbox$ clang++-9 -fuse-ld=lld -Wl,-y -Wl,main instr.cpp /usbin/../lib/gcc/x86_64-linux-gnu/crt1.o: reference to main /tmp/instr-5b6c60.o: definition of main
No surprises here. The C Runtime Library references main(), and our object file defines it. Now let’s see what happens with __cyg_profile_func_enter and -finstrument-functions-after-inlining.
[email protected]:~/src/sandbox$ clang++-9 -fuse-ld=lld -finstrument-functions-after-inlining -Wl,-y -Wl,__cyg_profile_func_enter instr.cpp /tmp/instr-8157b3.o: reference to __cyg_profile_func_enter /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libc.so.6: shared definition of __cyg_profile_func_enter
Now, we see that libc provides the definition, and our object file references it. Linking works a bit differently on Unix-y platforms than it does on Windows, but basically this means that if we define this function ourselves in our cpp file, the linker will just automatically prefer it over the shared library version. Working godbolt link without runtime output is here. So now you can kind of see where this is going, however there are still a couple of problems left to solve.
  1. We don’t want to do this for a full run of the program. We want to stop as soon as we reach main.
  2. We need a way to symbolize this trace.
The first problem is easy to solve. All we need to do is compare the address of the function being called to the address of main, and set a flag indicating we should stop tracing henceforth. (Note that taking the address of main is undefined behavior[1], but for our purposes it gets the job done, and we aren’t shipping this code, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). The second problem probably deserves a little more discussion though.

Symbolizing the Traces

In order to symbolize these traces, we need two things. First, we need to store the trace somewhere on persistent storage. We can’t expect to symbolize in real time with any kind of reasonable performance. You can write some C code to save the trace to some magic filename, or you can do what I did and just write it to stderr (this way you can pipe stderr to some file when you run it).
Second, and perhaps more importantly, for every address we need to write out the full path to the module the address belongs to. Your program loads many shared libraries, and in order to translate an address into a symbol, we have to know which shared library or executable the address actually belongs to. In addition, we have to be careful to write out the address of the symbol in the file on disk. When your program is running, the operating system could have loaded it anywhere in memory. And if we’re going to symbolize it after the fact we need to make sure we can still reference it after the information about where it was loaded in memory is lost. The linux function dladdr() gives us both pieces of information we need. A working godbolt sample with the exact implementation of our instrumentation hooks as they appear in our codebase can be found here.

Putting it All Together

Now that we have a file in this format saved on disk, all we need to do is symbolize the addresses. addr2line is one option, but I went with llvm-symbolizer as I find it more robust. I wrote a Python script to parse the file and symbolize each address, then print it in the same “visual” hierarchical format that the original output file is in. There are various options for filtering the resulting symbol list so that you can clean up the output to include only things that are interesting for your case. For example, I filtered out any globals that have boost:: in their name, because I can’t exactly go rewrite boost to not use global variables.
The script isn’t as simple as you would think, because simply crawling each line and symbolizing it would be unacceptably slow (when I tried this, it took over 2 hours before I finally killed the process). This is because the same address might appear thousands of times, and there’s no reason to run llvm-symbolizer against the same address multiple times. So there’s a lot of smarts in there to pre-process the address list and eliminate duplicates. I won’t discuss the implementation in more detail because it isn’t super interesting. But I’ll do even better and provide the source!
So after all of this, we can run any one of our internal targets to get the call tree, run it through the script, and then get output like this (actual output from a Roblox process, source file information removed):
excluded_symbols = [‘.\boost.*’]* excluded_modules = [‘/usr.\’]* /uslib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libLLVM-9.so.1: 140 unique addresses InterestingRobloxProcess: 38928 unique addresses /uslib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libstdc++.so.6: 1 unique addresses /uslib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libc++.so.1: 3 unique addresses Printing call tree with depth 2 for 29276 global variables. __cxx_global_var_init.5 (InterestingFile1.cpp:418:22) RBX::InterestingRobloxClass2::InterestingRobloxClass2() (InterestingFile2.cpp.:415:0) __cxx_global_var_init.19 (InterestingFile2.cpp:183:34) (anonymous namespace)::InterestingRobloxClass2::InterestingRobloxClass2() (InterestingFile2.cpp:171:0) __cxx_global_var_init.274 (InterestingFile3.cpp:2364:33) RBX::InterestingRobloxClass3::InterestingRobloxClass3()
So there you have it: the first half of the battle is over. I can run this script on every platform, compare results to understand what order our globals are actually initialized in in practice, then slowly migrate this code out of global initializers and into main where it can be deterministic and explicit.

Future Work

It occurred to me sometime after implementing this that we could make a general purpose profiling hook that exposed some public symbols (dllexport’ed if you speak Windows), and allowed a plugin module to hook into this dynamically. This plugin module could filter addresses using whatever arbitrary logic that it was interested in. One interesting use case I came up for this is that it could look up the debug information, check if the current address maps to the constructor of a function local static, and write out the address if so. This effectively allows us to gain a deeper understanding of the order in which our lazy statics are initialized. The possibilities are endless here.

Further Reading

If you’re interested in this kind of thing, I’ve collected a couple of my favorite references for this kind of topic.
  1. Various: The C++ Language Standard
  2. Matt Godbolt: The Bits Between the Bits: How We Get to main()
  3. Ryan O’Neill: Learning Linux Binary Analysis
  4. Linkers and Loaders: John R. Levine
  5. https://eel.is/c++draft/basic.exec#basic.start.main-3
Neither Roblox Corporation nor this blog endorses or supports any company or service. Also, no guarantees or promises are made regarding the accuracy, reliability or completeness of the information contained in this blog.
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Binary Options Review; Best Binary Options Brokers

Binary Options Review; Best Binary Options Brokers

Binary Options Review; Best Binary Options Brokers
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submitted by Babyelijah to u/Babyelijah [link] [comments]

A close examination of the story. Part 8: "Katarina Rostova." The personal angle: wife, daughter, lover, friend.

Tell the story as the narrative would have it, and what we are left with is a mass of contradictions and nonsense, the best indication of a charade. Most of those come from identity. "Katarina Rostova" is one of the sources of the confusion. In part 3 I examined the mythic spy, in part 2, her curious contradiction in Rassvet, about her treasonous status, in part 1 the bizarre abduction of "Masha Rostova" from her Canadian home, in part 4, the likelihood that there was no person born as "Raymond Reddington". Part 5 examines the curious Alan Fitch, and his relationship to Red. Part 6 looks at the real question Jennifer posed of Red, and why was she satisfied with the answer about the individual chased by both the CIA and the KGB, while part 7 deals with her bizarre way of showing Liz the bones, considering she knew well where Liz lived.
In many ways, Red is like a magician, as Aram said. Going by the charade Dom accuses him of creating, "Katarina Rostova" was one of his magic tricks.
"You were the architect of this charade". "she's a figment"
But this myth had a family, friends, colleagues. And Red.
but with young Katarina, and Fakerina, who is who. Was Fakerina one the other women inhabiting the myth? How do we distinguish?
It is clear that all the others are referring to Dom's daughter, the character played by Lotte Verbeek as a young woman. BUT when it comes to Red, things are far more complicated, especially for the space where Liz, and her mother intersect.

For Constantin Rostov, Katarina was the wife who loved him:

I don't really know how we got here, Raymond. I remember being an honest businessman in a happy marriage until you came along.... Seduced my wife. To her credit, Katarina broke it off, but you couldn't let go.... I came home one night and they were gone my wife, my child.
All that matters is that we had a family, and you destroyed it. We had a daughter, and you took her from us.
He describes the time when she and him met and how she seduced him, much like thrill seeker Elodie seduced Aram into a relationship with him:
When when we when we first met, there was this house near where she lived, a case study house built by this famous mid-century architect. Over dinner one night, she said she wanted to look at it. I thought she meant look from the street. But when we got there, she jumped the fence. The lights were on. People lived there. She didn't care. I stood there frozen, angry, nervous. Then I felt this rush of exhilaration. I climbed up, looked into the yard and she was just Dancing. Unafraid. Daring. Being. I'd never seen anything like it.
A woman with a joie-de-vivre
She was more alive than anyone I knew.
He never believed she killed herself, so Constantin believes she is either alive or she was murdered, and she is still convinced that she loved him.
When I heard she killed herself I didn't believe it. I still don't. You're wrong. I didn't see what she wanted me to see of her, I saw her. And despite what happened, I know she loved me.
What happened to Constantin after Katarina left? Was he on the run too? We know he changed his name to Alexander Kirk, we know he started buying energy outfits cheap in the former USSR, but he was a billionaire before:
https://preview.redd.it/zyd1hqr6dj451.png?width=1684&format=png&auto=webp&s=9e7d20c4dc5a5d95b10cf1e100eb5af36cda28ca
Did he loose it all when Katarina left and he was forced to become someone else? Because he continued to operate in Russia, but under a different name. Did he have surgery? Or was the man known to the Russians as Constantin Rostov NOT him? Nobody tells him that they knew him as Constantin Rostov, when he takes the name Alexander Kirk, so that is a possibility.
Red tells her that the KGB had trained Katarina in making people believe what she wanted them to. She had wanted Constantin to believe she was a wife in a happy marriage, that they had a child, and that she loved him. The truth is that she never even let him know she was OK, that she had not committed suicide. She had not let him know that "Masha" was not his daughter. Constantin is not even mentioned by her again, or by Kate, or by Dom. He was a useful idiot in a charade.
I think Red is who gets to understand the depth of the turmoil that Katarina created in his life, when Rostov is on the roof about to jump, a turmoil that years later, he is still defined by a love of Katarina, who left him behind like yesterday's news, and the hatred of Red, who he blames for it all.
This is madness, Constantin. Because you cannot have that child, you're gonna take her forever from her mother? It's madness. Constantin, this needs to end now.
It is clear that the wife Constantin refers to is Katarina, Dom's daughter.

For Kate, Katarina was her best friend, her employer. A tragic figure who was a spy, and a loving mother.

My friend just died.... I think she was my best friend.
she made an uncalled for promise to protect Masha:
I made a promise to Elizabeth's mother to protect her girl at all costs.
she was a bit strange, advising her employer to terminate a relationship with an American, being aware that Katarina was a KGB agent:
KATE: Soviet Intelligence?
This means Kate, an American, was fine with aiding an abetting a soviet spy by caring for her daughter while she went and worked against America. And then she calls Red a traitor? Kate has to have been a Soviet sympathizer, or a sleeper spy. And since people tend to kill agents of the opposite side, it is likely Kate already knew that "Katarina Rostova" was a KGB agent. It may be that Kate used that killing to let Katarina know she knew.
https://preview.redd.it/yzl18d6uuj451.png?width=432&format=png&auto=webp&s=a1466cc768eea5443117f75c2a687da8d9765faa
There is that strange comment that Annie makes after hearing the story:
ANNIE: So what's next for you? You gonna find some more Russians to live with?
KATE: I don't know. - I can't think about it right now. Masha and her family were my whole world for so long.
as if Kate's life had been going from one Russian family to another.
Kate's life was back on track and then Annie is killed. Then she is sucked back for reasons unknown by Red, who in 1997 decides to hire her. Why? Was she starting to investigate Katarina, using the resources of Little Nikos, who could track people?
https://preview.redd.it/ql2o8srbej451.png?width=360&format=png&auto=webp&s=8411e72aa8e919c1c90a9b8bdb937a41e193bd37
She seemed not to even give Constantin Rostov a thought. It never occurred to her to bring Liz to him. Red says Kate did not know about Dom (but she may have known about Oleander). Katarina kept many secrets from her.

For Sam, she was "Kat", obviously someone who trusted him

SAM TO KATE: I'm sorry you had to drive all this way. But I'm in no position to help here. - I told Kat -
SAM TO KATE: Did Kat happen to mention that I'm a grifter?
SAM TO KATE: I know Katarina is not coming back. She called me.

https://preview.redd.it/vkd8ehl5vj451.png?width=310&format=png&auto=webp&s=69a2f8c2e6ed3b183ece5b4f8c896d34fd78faf7
For Sam, Katarina was "Kat" or "Katarina" and she reached out to him to care for Liz, but I doubt he figured it was a permanent thing. In Rassvet he seems anxious Katarina comes back to take her kid:
SAM: Where are you? What's going on? Do you know what they're saying about Reddington?
KATARINA: Sam, I need to talk to her.
SAM: Talk to her! You can come and get her.
Sam is the second person where Red and Katarina intersect. For those who do not believe Red is RR, Sam seemed to have been trusted by all three then. What is intriguing to me is this conversation Red and Sam have in his deathbed:
Oh, my God. I've never been more scared of a woman in my life. She was thrilling in bed. What a pair of legs. I think she played field hockey in college.
Could that woman be Katarina?
It would be difficult to ascertain if both Red and Katarina knew Sam at about the same time, because we do not have a sense when Katarina met him. But we know Red told Liz
I've been friends with Sam for all of yours and most of my life.
I loved Sam, Lizzy. Taking his life was of all the difficult things that I've done that may may be the most.
I have a feeling that Sam is a longtime friend of Red, and met Katarina later, but I have nothing to back it other than the ease at which they are laughing about things, when Sam is dying, contrasting with Sam's way of talking to Katarina, seemingly indignant about what is being said about Reddington, telling her to come back for Liz.

For Dembe

It is clear Dembe has met Liz's mother, he tells Liz so:
He's right. You remind me of her, too.
This is when Liz betrays Red, and tries to hide it. Dembe calls Katarina simply "Katarina":
Raymond I'm not sure Elizabeth will ever be ready to learn about what you did to Katarina.
It is Dembe who comes back in Season 6 telling Red that the Townsend Directive has been reactivated:
The Townsend Directive. Our friend in Miami says it's in play.... He says it's very important.

For Dom, Katarina was his daughter.

Dom always refers to her as "Katarina" or "my daughter".
TO LIZ: Yes, I knew Katarina quite well
TO LIZ: Last time I saw my daughter was in this rearview mirror nearly 30 years ago. If my Katarina was still here, she would have let me know
TO FRANKIE: I never betrayed Katarina . She betrayed me.
EXCEPT when he is talking about the charade of blowing up Fakerina in Belgrade:
And there are witnesses. It's a mess! The world was supposed to see Katarina Rostova die, and instead all we've done is confirm that she's very much alive.
It is the only concession to a charade he makes. He also seems to completely ignore Constantin Rostov, and blames Red for the charade that resulted in his losing his daughter. Yet he says that Katarina betrayed him by fanning the flames of an insurrection, the cabal's plan.
https://preview.redd.it/ny0ysztewj451.png?width=360&format=png&auto=webp&s=5c49cde00d46da52627bad00489a6aaa6a463e74
Dom uses the simple Katarina when talking to Liz:
Ah, Katarina and I, we worked in the same building for a time.
I never heard from Katarina after she left for America.
For Katarina, it wasn't so easy.
A few months after I made it to America, Katarina met me here on that sidewalk.... If my Katarina was still here, she would have let me know.
as he does to Frankie:
My daughter's. Katarina....
I never betrayed Katarina. She betrayed me.
Dom however, has a relationship with both Katarina and Fakerina. She says he asked her to help in keeping his daughter safe:
Dom promised me no one would get hurt. Said he loved his child and just wanted her to be safe.
and he betrayed her. But I find curious that he sends Ilya to ask Fakerina to deliver documents to Dom, when they set her up in Belgrade.

For Ilya, Katarina was a friend.

When we get to Ilya, we have a complex situation. Ilya is who Katarina reach out to in her hour of need, but he also has a relationship to Fakerina. He does not seem to have any real loyalty to Fakerina.
Katarina is "Katarina". He certainly knows Dom, but does not seem to like him too much, but when asked, he betrayed Fakerina. Ilya is a childhood friend of Red, and if that part of Rassvet is true, he is also a childhood friend of Katarina (which does not mean Red and Katarina knew one another as children, but does not preclude it either.)
Katarina. I thought you were dead.
It was myself, Katarina, Dr. Koehler.
https://preview.redd.it/3vp36pq2wj451.png?width=360&format=png&auto=webp&s=8d6748fac8869202fdd31ea9bc6ac09c6a9f3d2e
Katarina calls him, not her mother, or father, according to Rassvet. But when we met him, he does not seem to be that affected by believing Katarina and someone else (Raymond? Masha?) were dead:
YOUG ILYA TO KATARINA: The world thinks you're dead.
ILYA TO SKOVIC: I thought they were dead.
A contrast to Red's suicide speech in Cape May. Red was despondent, Ilya was just working.
It is interesting to note that not once has Ilya referred to Fakerina by name, to her, or to Red:
ILYA ABOUT FAKERINA: Our friend in Paris made a series of payments to him under the alias of Constance Drucker.
ILYA ABOUT FAKERINA: I underestimated her
But unlike Dom, he cries as he remembers the Belgrade incident. His distress seems sincere. Yet he sacrificed Fakerina to comply with Dom's plan to save "his own". What is the relationship to Dom and to Katarina, that Ilya is compelled to do so, even as it causes him pain.
And like Dom, there is one time he uses the full name, and it has a strong whiff of charade:
He leaked that his daughter, that you, were staying at the inn and that you carried sensitive intel. This might be the last chance to catch the infamous Russian traitor Katarina Rostova.

For Red

When it comes to Red, that's when things get much iffier, a step up from even the CIA talking about her.
https://preview.redd.it/ukbwk9hnvj451.png?width=360&format=png&auto=webp&s=c378f91946c5b1277be886925ff57305e3916aea
When Red talks to strangers about "Katarina Rostova" he has no issues. She was a myth, a figment, an illusion.
I may not have told you what you want, but I told you all you need. You'll never find Rostova... She's a figment of the collective imagination... Some people in this world are soul mates. Katarina Rostova and I shared one. Betraying her would be like betraying myself.
He almost always uses always the entire name, as he did during most of the trial:
You know what else is possible? That I was framed by Katarina Rostova
Have you ever heard of Katarina Rostova? ... She was a KGB officer. Would it surprise you to learn that she and I had quite a complicated history? Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll. Did I say "sex"? Sex.
But not always:
How about that Katarina hid the fact that she was a KGB agent, stole the coordinates for the submarine U.S.S. Gideon, and passed them on to her superiors?
To the people in his inner circle, Dom, Dembe and Ilya, he talks about her as "Katarina" which is normal:
RED TO DEMBE: Not when she mentioned Katarina. Now Elizabeth will stop at nothing.
RED TO DOM: You forgave Katarina..... The last time you saw Katarina was in the rearview mirror.
RED TO DOM: I was just imagining young Katarina covered in glitter.
RED TO ILYA: They're actively looking for Katarina.
As with Kate:
We shared the affection of Katarina.... Katarina was a traitor to two countries, both global superpowers. God willing, Katarina's daughter will live a private life of quiet courage.
But when it comes to Liz, he uses two ways to refer to her, one normal ("your mother")
Your mother was a Russian spy, and now they've made it look like you are, too.
When your mother was pregnant with you, it was terribly inconvenient. The Cold War was ending. Her country was falling apart.
Your mother, despite what he'd done, she wanted him back.
Lizzy, your mother is dead.
Just because he was your mother's husband doesn't make him your father.
Your mother loved that photograph. Represented everything she wanted but couldn't have. Not after she betrayed the KGB.
Your mother can't hurt you.
Your mother was not as bad as I understand why you might think she was, but she wasn't.
You remind me so much of your mother. I don't remember if I've ever told you that before, have I?

and another highly contrived ("Katarina Rostova").
I knew her as Katarina Rostova. One of her many names. She was a KGB agent.
There was a time in my life when I was quite sure I knew exactly what happened to Katarina Rostova.
Katarina Rostova was the cleverest, most resourceful woman I have ever known.
Katarina Rostova was a name that had been lost to history.
Katarina Rostova committed suicide in 1990.
Even saying the name Katarina Rostova has consequences, and now you see. Now you see what that name will make others do.
He has never referred to Katarina, when talking to Liz as just "Katarina", always as "your mother" or "Katarina Rostova."
And that spells that when it comes to Liz's maternal situation there is something hidden. Put it together with the charade and the coyness of the CIA around her, and is clear. The situation is not as simple as Liz's biological mother is Dom's daughter.

FAKERINA

The most intriguing thing Red has said about her is saying she is a ghost with no name:
RED TO THE TASK FORCE: She doesn't have a name. She's a ghost. Think of a name, any name, and that could be it.
And that seem to go with saying that he knew Liz's mother as "Katarina Rostova", one of her many names.
Everyone is more guarded around her. She is "our friend in Paris," "her", or "that woman":
DOM: Tell me what she said. Not your interpretation, her exact words.
RED: I'm not interpreting anything. She's coming for you, and she made it very clear she's closing in.... She knows you tried to kill her, Dom. She wants answers, but she also wants revenge. You set her up, betrayed her
It is interesting to note that not once has Ilya referred to Fakerina by name, to her, or to Red:
ILYA ABOUT FAKERINA: Our friend in Paris made a series of payments to him under the alias of Constance Drucker.
ILYA ABOUT FAKERINA: I underestimated her.
What is very interesting is what happens with Motya Morozov, who obviously knows Fakerina is not the right "Katarina" to bring:
RED: It's about the Townsend Directive. I understand it's been reactivated that you and everyone else who bought in are actively hunting for her.
...
MOTYA: Forget about The Directive. Forget about Katarina Rostova*. I'm not gonna help you find her. I'm gonna hunt her down, and I'm gonna kill her myself.*
and
RED: I guess we know who's third. I instructed you to contact me the instant you had a location on Rostova*.* ... I assume you found the lead on Katarina but, instead of calling me, attempted to bring her in yourself, hoping to relive your glory days and sell her to the highest bidder to keep you rolling in potato vodka and herring for the rest of your life. You're not the first one to underestimate that woman, which is why it was imperative that you call me.
MOTYA: There is silver lining.
RED: I can't imagine.
MOTYA: This one was with Rostova. Sold her information, but he wouldn't tell me what.
so for Motya, "Katarina Rostova" is who he is hunting, and "Rostova" is Fakerina who has information Motya wants to get to "Katarina". Red, like Motya, underestimated Fakerina. For Red "Katarina" is Dom's daughter. Even though he called Fakerina "Katarina" in Paris and when he talks to Patrick Masuda. But she was using the name Constance Drucker.
RED TO PATRICK MASUDA: What I got to do is understand why Katarina Rostova would pay to cure you of a fatal blood disease.
It comes to a boil when Liz point blank asks Red:
LIZ: Can I ask you a question? ... Was the woman from Paris my mother?
RED: A kindly woman comes into your life and takes an interest in you and your child. It's only natural for you to make that wish.
LIZ: Was it her?
RED: I know you don't want it to be true, Elizabeth, but your mother is gone.
What seems to me is that Red does not answer. Not really. Liz is asking a simple, direct question: "Was the woman from Paris my mother?.. Was it her?" The normal simple and direct answer is yes, or no. But that is not what Red answers: "your mother is gone." which is neither here, nor there. He is not denying that this woman is her mother, he is telling her that her mother is gone, and that would be simple for a simple, binary option. For most, the woman who gives birth to a child and raises the child is the mother, and the answer is binary. But if someone has more than one mother, it is not a binary question. One mother may be gone, and the other may have been one that was there. He is clearer the next time he addresses the issue:
RED: ...your desire for the woman in Paris to be your mother blinded you to the fact that she wasn't.
LIZ: It wasn't just my desire.
RED: So she told you she was Katarina?
LIZ: She did. And it's difficult for me to believe she wasn't.
RED: I was convinced my casket was authentic. It was nearly impossible for me to believe it wasn't. But it was a fake. And she was, too.
and we should ALWAYS remember the initial subterfuge when it comes to who Liz's mother started the very first time her name is mentioned.
RED: Mmmh I knew her as Katarina Rostova. One of her many names. She was a KGB agent.
this HAS to mean something, because Red knows Katarina's name, her real last name, because he knows who Dom is, he knows her cover husband, the one nobody talked about, as if he did not exist. But Red does not seem to know Fakerina's real name.
And how does Fakerina refers to Dom's daughter?
On the day you learned Katarina Rostova was still alive.
At least Fakerina believes that Ilya knows Katarina, Dom's daughter, as "Katarina Rostova." Fakerina believes Ilya's real name is Ilya Koslov, and she seems to believe Red is Raymond Reddington.
Edited to correct typo
submitted by TessaBissolli to TheBlackList [link] [comments]

Heritage (4)

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

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

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

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

DEMOLITION DAYS, PART 95

Continuing
He still came around making trouble, but oddly enough, our little cul-de-sac corner was more-or-less Batshit Crazy-free for the next 34 months.
After that, things sort of calmed down. Well, one of his older boys thought it would be fun to attack Khris, push her off her bike, and try and steal the Uzbek sapphire amulet I had gotten her years earlier.
Khris is not a small girl; she is a corn-fed daughter of the vast cow-pocked hills and rolling pastures of Baja Canada. She didn’t take lightly to some weasely little Arab probably future pole-smokers trying to steal from and assaulting her.
It took more than one punch, but Khris coldcocked the elder of the Guano Insano clan and laid him out so an undertaker could have taken easy measurements. Oh, he was still breathing, but I nevertheless think he was shammin’, playin’ possum until Daddy Dearest could come and rescue him from the rage of wrathful Wisconsinians.
Liam and I were sitting in the porch area of his villa, smoking cigars, drinking our sunrisers, watching the tableau unfold. We both thought Khris handled the situation well, particularly the outcome. The miscreant was out cold’n a foundered mackerel and Khris didn’t heel-stamp him in the chuckle-bits nor curb-stomp his head even though he had initially, and without provocation, punched Khris in the head.
Major stylistic points, Khris.
After 6 or 7 of his offspring rant to alert him, Señor Srībaśita Inasēna came over to shovel his insensible frogspawn up off the tarmac. He was ranting and raving, screaming and splitting the air with threats, dark oaths and other forms of bad noise.
He headed straight for Khris to administer a smackdown, as Khris resolutely held her ground.
I merely stood up and asked Khris if she needed some help.
She replied in the negative, stating that this fool wasn’t going to be much more of a challenge than ‘his idiot kid’
I swear, he went, even more, batshit crazy. However, something clicked and Señor Srībaśita Inasēna looked over his shoulder to see not one, but two near-identical way-more-crazy than he extra-large people standing there, both with cigars and icy cold drinks. He suddenly seemed to experience a spate of total recall how one of the large apparitions said he’d begin him on his journey toward room temperature if he so much as sneered in our direction.
He scooped up his unconscious spawn, muttered something none of us could make out, and scurried back to his loathsome piece of home real estate.
That was more or less the end of our run-ins with Señor Srībaśita Inasēna and his extended tribe.
Swing forward to the late summer. The weather calmed a bit and one’s skin didn’t immediately bubble every time one went out to collect the local morning news-rag. Things were going well for the cul-de-sac; jobs were advancing apace, children were doing well in their various studies, people were, oh what was that word? Ah, yes, happy.
Happy people do fun things.
So, it was decided it was time we have a block party.
Of course, Liam came up with the brilliant idea that we should have a pig roast.
“Umm, Liam”, I ahemed, “In case you forgot, we live in an Arabic Muslim country in the Middle East. Pigs and pork and porcine parts are sort of verboten around here. “
“Ok, Rock”, Liam laughed, “I know that, you know that, my hat knows that. But we Brits must have our bacon, sausage, and chops. It’s in our DNA. Besides, I can get one flown in through my company; under the wire. I could sneak him over here easily. We’d just have to keep him under wraps until bar-be-que time rolls around. You’re from Texas, so…”
“Adopted native son” I corrected.
“Right”, Liam continued, “But you were from Baja Canada first, so you must know how to cook a whole pig…”
“That right, I do, but…, I said, “…you want to bring a live pig in here, and keep him for a while until we can sort out the cooking necessities. We can’t use the industrial-sized stoves in the rec center at the pool. That’d raise a few eyebrows…”
Es and Cassandra wander over, listen for a bit and exclaim “Are you both out of your tiny, little minds?”
I had to admit, as I poured Liam and myself a refill, that the idea did have a certain ‘Up Yours!’ mouthwatering bacon-scented charm.
So, all four of us sat outside and over beer, vodka, and white wine for the ladies, we brewed up a perhaps passable project for our pig party.
The thing was, I’d be gone offshore for a couple of weeks and the pig would have to live at someone’s villa, under wraps, for that time; which actually escalated to 3 months.
Esme, surprising as always, volunteered to take on the task.
Might have been the white wine talking, but she admitted to missing bacon as well.
“OK, but we’re going to need a bar-be-cue pit. Where and when?” Liam asked.
“I’ll talk to Shiehk Gungan and secure permission for a Hawaiian-style pit bar-be-cue for someone or other’s fake birthday. If we can get Vonn and Honey Bee on board, their villa’s backyard backs up to a tall brick wall bordering the alley behind the City Centre. I could put in a pit there easily, and it would be out of the purview of prying eyes.” I said.
“Good”, Casandra said, “Let me get the gin and tonic makin’s and get Vonn and Honey over here as well as Dane and Dyad. Gonna have a block party, make sure you invite the entire block.”
Over the term of the afternoon, we had our plans.
Liam would secure a pig for us; approximately 200-300 pounds, on the hoof. It’d stay in our backyard under both our sun tarp and Esme Srs.’ care until Pig Killin’ Time. Liam, Vonn, and I would handle that little chore. I’d get permission to ‘dig’ a pit and install the bar-be-cue pit in Honey and Vonn’s back yard. Liam and I would handle the actual roast, and we’d all chip in for charcoal and wood smokin’ chunks, and whatever else we could find.
Dyad said she knew many, many farmers it the area and many had fruit trees, in various stages of repair. Certainly, some of that would smoke up a treat. Persimmon, pomegranate, fig, mango, durian, banana…all the earmarks of a weird pig roast.
So we had a date, a plan and the ingredients for a complete fiasco. Since Sr. Guano Insano was no longer part of the picture, and as we had few interlopers, this might actually work without all of us being tossed into the hoosegow.
I’d liberate a bit of pit diggin’ materials from work, just a small amount of dynamite, C-4, and Primacord; I already had the blasting machines. Vonn and Liam would lay in the charcoal and wood for the actual pig roast and well, Bob’s your uncle.
I went offshore to complete the 12th well on the platform and had to deal with all the logistics, bureaucracy and other sanctioned horseshit that comes with the territory. It took almost exactly 3 weeks, and at that time, Esme’s initial negative reaction to pig-sitting had changed considerably.
She had named the critter and found it to be a rather clever, and even sociable, beast. She even allowed it free reign of our house.
The name she chose was one from an old, endearing structural professor: Prof Pinkus (Prof. Pink-ass).
Ahem.
This was an unforeseen complication.
“Es, remember, “ I said over the phone, “That pig is not a pet. It’s not your buddy. It’s not going shopping with you. It’s going to be the guest of honor at a block party. Perspective, please.”
“Oh, Rock”, Es gushed, “I know that. It just makes it easier to keep up with Prof. Pinkus if you treat him like a pet rather than livestock.”
“Es!”, I yell, “He IS livestock. Soon to be deadstock. Soon to be crisply pit barbequed to a crackly crunch. He’s not your friend, he’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner!”
“OK, love you too.” Es says, ignoring me, “See you soon. Safe flights. Keep the shiny side up.”
I hang up. “Oh, shit. This does not bode well.” I mused on the flight shoreward.
I have to admit, pigs can be personable animals. Canny, inquisitive, seemingly intelligent. But even so, that does not trump them being delicious, appetizing, and delectable generators of bacon. Prof. Pinkus is going to be ham, bacon, and sausage soon. Not a boon companion.
The next day I ‘dig’ the pit for the barbeque. I used a shovel for exactly 2 minutes and dynamite, C-4, and primacord for a few more. Vonn was astonished that I not only dug a 6’x6’x4’ wide hole in less than an afternoon, but that I did it while smoking a cigar, drinking an, ok, several icy adult beverages, and never even breaking a sweat in the hellish late summer heat.
The Bobcat with the mounted backhoe, which I had ‘borrowed’ from work, helped a little.
Liam wandered over after the pyrotechnics were done. He didn’t care for them as the noise ‘offended his ears’. Truth be told, he had seen enough pyro jobs go south in his line of work and wanted nothing to do with them. I assured him I was a licensed Master Blaster as well as the one and only Motherfucking Pro from Dover, but it took some time to get him up to speed on the use of explosives for fun and profit.
We let the pit settle, as it was in mostly in desert sand held together with a bit of aeolian clay, or loess. We kept it wet and covered with sheets of canvas. It’d be fine for our pit barbeque in the days hence.
Vonn, Liam and I fabricobbled a cover for the pit which was made of thatched palm fronds supported by ½” pine furring-strips frame along the outer surface. Dane found a hunk of tin stove pipe and we fashioned a nicely workable chimney for the cover. Once the fire was going, and the pig in its new home, we could set the cover over the pit, shovel earth over it to seal it off and use the iris-valve in the chimney to regulate airflow.
One looks at it now, it would almost appear that we knew what we were doing.
Probably nothing was further from the truth.
We needed to ‘season’ the pit, but first, we needed to line the pit with rocks. This serves to hold the heat, and will even out its distribution. But, all we have to use is limestone around here and if limestone ever gets wet, there might be water in the fractures of the rocks. Heat that up to over 1000C and you’ve got yourself a nifty little bomb.
Of course, this will not do…
So, I get on the phone with several ‘exotic’ marble companies in the big city of Duhu. I call around asking if they might have some scrap sheets of granite, quartzite, granodiorite or marble.
Sure, for a price.
However, there was this one place where I knew this guy…
He took in huge, and I mean 4m x 5m x 5m blocks of exotic rock from the subcontinent; black granite, “Reaping Equinox’ black and white ‘granite’; most all these ‘granites’ were granodiorites, Inferno Granite, Black Sunset granite sliced thin into façade facing dimension stone, it was absolutely gorgeous in cross-section. However, the best stuff was igneous-metamorphic, tougher than a $2 steak, and just laughed at diamond carbide saw blades.
“Oh, sure now Mr., Dr. Rock”, Mr. Prakash Dongerkerry, the owneoperator of one particular lot I scavenge for Esme’s continuing lapidary hobby, “I’ve got some beauty stuff here for you. But I need some help with these couple of blocks I received from Kerala. Great rock, very pretty, but too tough. Burn out many saws, boss. You can help maybe?”
“Sure, Prak”, I replied, “I can help, no sweat.”
So, next Friday Liam and me, we eased over to the granite factory, C-4, blasting caps and Primacord in hand. Prak was a little apprehensive about using high explosives in a densely populated area, but after Vonn reminded him that he was working with the Motherfucking Pro from Dover, he relaxed some.
I crawled all over those blocks, marking with orange spray paint the nature fractures, flaws, and features of each block. Asked Prak how he’d like them split, and he indicated parallel to the major axis.
It couldn’t be easier. There was a main body-fracture system normal to the σ1 stress direction. The one’s parallel to the σ2 and σ3 were minor and nowhere near as clearly developed.
I smooshed some C-4 into a test fracture, primed it and shot it without much ado. It was surprisingly quiet for a detonation. A cute little C-4 POP.
A large slab of rock fell off the main block, severed as nicely as a hunk of cold butter from a hot knife.
Prak was thrilled. I only had another 12 or so shots to go.
They all more or less came off as planned. One or two busted when they bounced, even after the addition of old car tires below where I was blasting.
Prak, good to his word, showed us a huge pile of 1.25” thick sawn quartzite slabs that were rejected for mostly cosmetic reasons. It takes a bit of math, a bit of doing, and a lot of C-4 to extract slabs enough to line our fire pit from stem to stern, top to bottom.
Once installed, the pit was a tad less wide, a bit less deep, and a smidge less long, but it was the only Precambrian-quartzite lined bar-be-que pit in this or any other known galaxy.
We celebrated the initial fire up with whiskey and hors-d'oeuvres. I stuck with vodka, ice, lime, citrus stuff, and a Jamaican cigar.
The pit flared from the amount of dry wood we initially used. It burned very quickly into a pile of glowing embers. Now, we added some local lump charcoal and popped on the top, now sporting an exhaust chimney with a rather large, intrinsically-safe, unusually commercial-looking dual-temperature thermometer that somehow just appeared out of the ether.
We took it all the way up to 1,000C. Although it was designed for ‘low and slow’, we wanted to see how it would perform under alternative conditions.
We let it simmer for a few hours, then decided to kill the fire by closing the iris valve. Thus deprived of oxygen, given a few hours, the pit would be cold to the touch.
The next day, we opened the pit and shoveled out the dead embers. The pit was well and truly cold. Upon examination, it seems that the quartzite had fused to the sand on the outside of the pit. Also, sand had filtered down into the cracks around the pit, like in the corners, along joints, and been fused there as well.
The damn thing would now hold water if we wanted. We had a natural glass-lined fire pit now. We decided to try out some racked & stacked chickens first before we slowly made our way pig-ward.
We staked split chickens out on various levels in the pit. We had worked up a series of adjustable metal frames where we could lay the staked-out poultry. The racks popped right in place and after a couple of hours, hey presto bar-be-qued peri-peri chicken. And hot-butter roasted chicken. And for the uninitiated, roast chicken with smoked Hungarian paprika and Indian ghee. A real Iron Chef fusion-style mixture.
Liam and I took his Grady White out on the Persian Gulf and managed a couple of dorados, or Mahi, a largish shark, and a couple of kingfish off the deeper shipping banks. Fileted up and tacked in place, we played around with the smoking woods. Mango was just weird. Fig was weirder, almost vinegary; but not terrible. Pomegranate/tangerine tree smoked Mahi, seasoned shark steak, and Kingfish was the hit of the week. So easy, yet so tasty. It went well with Es’ famous Navajo Fry Bread.
We were gaining confidence. Prof. Pinkus’ days were numbered. We decided that the Eid al Fitr would be the time that we’d been preparing our porky pit pig production.
How’s that for cultural sensitivity? Break the Ramadan fast with a pig roast.
We’re all about cultural sensitivity.
Anyways, we hemmed and hawed over the methods of dispatching our soon-to-be-delicious 325 pounds of Professor Pinkus.
One wag suggested we have it OD on tranquilizers, trip him out a la Heath Ledger. Use loads of Nytol®, Dramamine™, oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine."
It was straight out of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers©.
We all agreed it was funny as hell, but that it probably wouldn’t work.
Then we thought we might go all Halal, just slit the pig’s throat with a very sharp knife, and let it bleed out.
Rejected as to being too thrashing, too noisy, too Arabic, and just plain uncivilized.
I thought I could get hold of a 12 gauge shotgun and some Foster Deer slugs. But again, noisy and messy. Besides, I’d have to borrow a shotgun, and that might raise some eyebrows.
We’ve managed to keep Prof. Pinkus under wraps now for almost 3 months. Hate to blow it right before the feasting was to begin.
In the end, all it took was an 18-pound maul and a solid whack to the right side of the head.
More sensitive viewers might want to skip a dozen or so paragraphs ahead. Just fair warning™.
I was elected to deliver the coup de grâce.
After walloping a bound and gagged Prof. Pinkus upside the head and basically caving in the skull, severing the skull-spinal cord connection at the atlas/axis connection, it was instant lights-out, he felt nothing.
We had already apologized to Prof. Pinkus, and thanked him for his contribution.
Seldom before has lunch ever been so noble.
Prof. Pinkus freezes and collapse, the legs give way, and the neck goes rigid. We picked up the extraordinarily sharp butcher’s knife sitting there, one hand under the chin and pull the head back. The other hand takes the sharp, stout knife under the neck and slices across the neck back to the bone of the vertebrae.
The knife hand loops around to the poll of the head, pushes down and forward while the hand under the chin pulls back and rearwards, so the neck vertebrae connecting tissue cracks. Knife hand back down under the neck, chin hand slides up and a finger hooks into the trachea and slice between the separated vertebrae.
With our previous practice and experience, 10 to 15 seconds from hammer strike to the semi-decapitated head.
Grisly but necessary.
Hanging the beast by its back hocks, well out of sight of any casual interlopers, we bleed the animal out into 5-gallon buckets, saving the precious juice. Vonn and I have visions of homemade blütwurst, blood-n-tongue sausage, and zultze or schwartamaga; lovely, lovely headcheese.
But that’s for later. Vonn gathers the blood in gallon-size freezer zip bags.
Now to scalding the corpse, scraping off the hair and external epidermal debris. We had a tub of boiling water into which Prof. Pinkus went. It was a boring, tedious, annoying repeated dunk-soak-raise-scrape-return until the carcass was clean and smooth and removed of all nasty gunk on the outside.
Now comes the really icky part™, gutting and scraping out the carcass. Before opening the abdominal cavity, it was required to de-bung the animal. Cut around the anus, go in deep but not too, pull the bunghole out, seal with zip ties, and cut and discard. Now the lower GI tract is sealed from leaking when the rest is removed. We also have to remove the male dangly bits in a similar manner as Prof. Pinkus was a boy hog.
Still hanging, we open the hog from sternum to groin, letting gravity aid us in helping Prof. Pinkus literally spill his guts. Right down into a waiting gut-bucket, or galvanized 50-liter steel tub. The chest region is split open further and the lovely and delicious major organs are singly removed by hand. Heart, liver, kidneys, etc., lungs, gall bladder, spleen, pancreas, and a few other organs are discarded.
With that, we open the hog to where it will lay flat on the roasting rack. It is then hosed off and generally cleaned up before we give a good going over.
After it dries, the whole gutted critter is washed in wine. Evidently, it’s a French thing according to Honey Bee.
We wrap the hog in burlap, soak it down in cheap-ass wine and let it sleep 24 hours or so in Liam and Cassandra’s freezer chest.
The next day, the fire is started in the fire pit. We have lump charcoal, bucket after bucket of fruit tree chunks soaking in water and probably half a rick of firewood to keep the party going the next 24-36 hours.
We retrieve Prof. Pinkus from his cool, not frozen state, say hello and proceed to arrange him staked to the cooking frame in a belly-down, butterflied posture. Internally, he was well seasoned with dry rub after the obligatory internal rubdown with Napoleon brandy. We placed 40 garlic bulbs, kosher sea salt, olive oil, black pepper, and liberal amounts of Old Bay, to taste beneath him.
So, it was up to me to get the external goo ready for the pig. Kansas City-Style Sauce? Eastern North Carolina Vinegar Sauce? South Carolina-Style Mustard Sauce? Piedmont or Lexington-Style Dip? South Carolina-Style Mustard Sauce? Texas-Style Mop or Basting Sauce? Alabama White Sauce? Wisconsin Drunken Religious Experience Sauce?
“Ah, the hell with it!”, I venture, “Sauces come much later. Too early; they caramelize, crystallize, and burn. We’ll go for a good rub instead.”
I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a good rub now and again?
Anyways, which fucking rub? Kansas City Rib Rub? Mustard Rub? Spare Rib Rub? Memphis-Style Rib Rub? Porker's Rib Seasoning? Best Odds Rib Rub? Carolina Dry Rub? Texas Dry Rub? Jamaican Jerk Dry Rub? Classic Pork Dry Rub?
Too much choice! Seasoning overload!
I call over everyone involved in this little soiree and instruct them to come up with a rub we can all enjoy. I had to kill and gut the critter, it’s about time I go all Subsurface Manager, and delegate out some parts of this project.
So, over beer, G&T’s, vodka and lime soda and various Froggy wines, ‘my’ crew came up with a rub that was simple, tasty and ironically reflects some of the culinary aspects of the region we’re currently defiling.
Ingredients:
• Smoked Hungarian Red paprika
• Brown sugar
• Caster sugar
• Black pepper
• Kosher salt
• Cayenne pepper
• White pepper
• Chili pepper
• Dehydrated garlic
• Dehydrated onion
• Fenugreek
• Red Cardamom
• Turmeric
• Ginger
• Garam masala (Cumin, Coriander, Green and Black Cardamom, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Bay leaves, Peppercorns, Fennel, Mace, and dried Chilies.)
They went to the co-op, bought buckets of the individual spices and played the rest of the day at getting to that one perfect combination for our resting porker.
I don’t remember the exact breakdown of the proportion of the spices, but whatever it was, it tasted brilliant. Now we had about 8 or 9 pounds of the stuff. We were ready to go.
Prof. Pinkus was set on the cooking rack, belly open and down. He was doused internally once again liberally with cheap Indian Napoleon brandy and secured to the rack atop all the garlic, celeriac root, boudin, and small new potatoes.
He was tied in place with heavy organic hemp twine and had his mouth propped open to facilitate circulation of the pit’s heat and convection. He looked very Pink Floydian. One almost expected him to take flight.
The exterior of the porker was treated to a nice rubdown. I swear I saw him smile once or twice when Honey Bee insisted on a sensual massage to make the resultant meat that much more tender. Olive oil infused with lime oil and garlic after a thorough wash with more brandy. Followed by a liberal rubbing of dry rub.
Finally, ready to go, we tented the porker loosely with industrial-strength silver aluminum foil. The frame with its cargo was lowered and locked into place for at least 24 hours. Probably closer to 36, as we’re going ‘low and slow’.
We take turns, between hands of poker, cribbage, and Schafskopf, as well as numerous G&Ts, Yorshs, and vodka and lime drink cocktails, to check on our prized porker. We kept the temperature right at 2050 F as best we could.
The voluminous smoke coming off the barbeque pit was our one concern. It packed an amazing aroma and filtered around the whole compound, dragging in expectant pikers, leeches, and other forms of human ectoparasites.
We told them we were smoking a whole camel, Texas-style, a la filét de hump, and wouldn’t be ready for another couple of days; so piss off. That seemed to get rid of all but the most insistent. We finally got rid of him by using a leaf blower and directing a stream of high-velocity roast-pork laden smoke his direction each time we had to add more fuel to the fire.
Time marched on and the time finally came: the deep internal ham’s temperature hit 180 degrees F.
Prof. Pinkus was ready to make his debut. But first, we needed to get him out of the barbeque pit and over to Vonn’s garage to rest a while.
More futzing, more aluminum foil, and more beers later, Prof. Pinkus, in all his delectable roasted glory was cooling out from atop a pair of sawhorses. Of course, he had to rest after his ordeal, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t manage a few samples.
He was done to a turn. It was incredible. Crispy-crunchy-crackly over lean, moist and insanely flavorful meat. Not bad for a bunch of bumbling international mugs on their first Middle Eastern pig-roast pit-roast endeavor.
Everyone made up their own version of sauce for sandwiches and dipping. We decided that we’d never all agree on one sauce, and 4 or 5 on one porker would be just too damn many.
So, please yourself. Just do it, yourself.
Behind closed doors, Liam and I were once again elected to reduce Prof. Pinkus to primary parts. We were hopefully disguising the fact that here sits 185 pounds of delectable roast pork in a very Muslim country on one of their highest holy days.
So it was a bit unnerving when Sheik Gungan showed up and asked: “What was that wonderful aroma?”
We said smoked beef…lamb…camel…turducken…Tyrannosaur… anything other than what it really was.
He asked for a sample.
What could we do? We couldn’t well refuse now, could we?
We gave him some of the best bits to try.
“Lovely, gents, just lovely. Next time, for reference, more garam masala, and a little more rosemary. I find it really brings out the subtle flavors of pork.” He smiled, wiping his pork-sticky fingers on my HGGTG towel.
“You old fraud”, we all smiled at once.
“What?”, he shied, raising his eyebrows, “It’s for scientific evaluation purposes. It’s therefore allowed. Now, do you have any cold beer, gin-n-tonics, or vodka and lime, which I’m hearing is very nice together, that I might also scientifically sample?” he smiled toothily through his long white beard.
We had made another powerful friend. Although it cost us one smoked Boston Butt, actually off the shoulder, that’s butcher’s for you, and a half a liter of homemade Texas-style barbeque sauce and another of Esme’s homemade fennel and caraway-infused coleslaw.
Everyone on the cul-de-sac now had a freezer full of pit-roasted pork. The Brits got their sausage once Vonn and Liam figured out how to use the Osterizer® Stuffing Horn. That was almost as much fun as doing the pit-barbeque. Never leave to Brits what Baja Canadians can better do.
We distributed the bacon and hams, and the rest divided whatever was left. Which was a lot of pit-roasted pig pieces and parts.
The bones made their way into gaily wrapped gifts and were posted anonymously to Mr. Guano Insano. We hoped he appreciated all our effort.
I used Esme’s great-grandmother’s old German recipe for Headcheese. Basically, boiled smoked pork head meat in aspic jelly. With dill pickles. And pickled eggs. With special spices.
Well, I don’t give a shit. We like it.
Anyways, summer slowly slid south and the temperatures during the day got slightly more tolerable. Liam and I decided to forego his boat for a while, as launching and recollecting required us to put Liam’s boat in the water HERE and recover the boat THERE. It was trucked, via road, from the recovery place to the launch place.
Why? Damnifweknow.
It only cost something like US$5 to ship the boat back to the launch area and they actually did a good job hosing and steam cleaning the boat before parking it back in its rental dry dock. These were still the early days before gas was king in Qutur, so things were still ridiculously cheap. There were exactly 3 high rise hotels back then, as compared to the insane silhouette presented by Duhu’s current evening sun.
I had flown over some likely looking flats that might hold snook, grouper, and tarpon on my last flight back from the rig. I translated that onto whatever road maps we could find here, as most everything was a state secret, ground verification was a must.
Liam and I tossed a couple of surf rods, a cooler full of beer and some bait into the back of his new diesel Mitsobitchy Prago™, and we were off to the north of town, the least developed chunk of Duhu real estate to date.
We drove down a rip-rap road that was more just a pile of random rocks trucked into the bay area and dumped into something that resembled a straight line.
I was less than confident that we weren’t going swimming today, but Liam relished every bounce, bolt and jolt. He confided in me that one of the big reasons he took the job here in the Middle East was that he’d never in a million years be able to afford a truck like this back in bonny Scotland™. He confided that he couldn’t have even afforded the fuel for this diesel-slurper back in the UK, it was that dear.
So, down the path we rebound. I was watching the water on both sides of the narrow groin, and saw it was getting deeper, but very slowly. I looked at my GPS and saw that we’d driven some 3.5 km out to sea at this point.
“Liam”, I said, “That’s a fuck of a long way to reverse.”
“Ah, Rock”, Liam assured me, “ No worries, Doctor. It’s all a loop. We can just drive our way out of any trouble.”
I remained unconvinced.
We came to a breach in the ‘jetty’. There was some heavy marine equipment mounted on barges. They were working a large cut, ostensibly for cargo ships to pass through. There was to be a swing-bridge built after they cleared the channel, but with all these loose rocks, it was putting paid to their scheme.
We parked and wandered over to who appeared to be the head guy.
“G’Day”, “Liam says, “What’ the big fucking holdup? We’ve got fish to catch, mate.”
Liam had previously spent a few years down in Australia as if it didn’t show.
“Oh, hello”, the natty clad black man said, “We’re having a bit of a time with loose rocks here. Supposed to be angular to lock in place, but by the time they get here from the quarry, they’re a sharp as bowling balls.”
I introduced myself and Liam as he was back in the boot snaking a beer. The black feller introduced himself as Zafir Djaballah, a civil engineer late from Algeria.
“So”, I said to Zafir, “If I’ve got this straight, you cut a channel and want to line it with rip rap. But the rocks won’t stay put. How deep are you cutting and what’s the size of the channel?”
“Oh, 35’ east-west, 15’ north-south. About 15 meters deep.” He relates.
“And the road metal? Where’s that from?” I ask.
“Arabia”, he tells us, “They quarry it there and transport it here. It’s costly, but that’s about the only option we have.”
Liam looks to Zafir. “Hey, Zafir?”, Liam asks, “Y’ken who this guy is?” as he points to me.
Zafir shakes his head “I just met Dr. Rock.”
“That’s not all who he is”, Liam smiles widely, “That, my friend, is the Motherfucking Pro from Dover! If he can’t fix your little problem, he can damn sure make it go away…”
Zafir looks to me as if to ask: “What the fuck, sir?”
“Well, Zafir, “ I say, “I’m a bit of a dab hand with explosives. This sounds like a really simple problem. Drill a grid of 2 meter centered holes, and prime them with a waterproof explosive. Detonate together electrically and there you go. Channel dug and already filled with angular limestone blocks. Easy-peasy.”
Zafir looks over the water and puzzles and puzzles.
“But sir’, he says, “Where would I find such explosives and such expertise?”
“Well…for starters”, I said, “You could ask me.”
He leads us over to a company trailer, where Liam and I drank beers, smoked cigars and told the superintendent of our plans. The Egyptian superintendent, Qaaid al-Zahra, later ‘Randy’ (Quaid?…never mind) scrutinized all our identification. He was actually very impressed when he came across my Blaster’s credentials.
“Doctor”, Qaaid said, “I do like your plan. The drilling is no problem, the problem is obtaining the explosives.”
“Look, Qaaid”, I said, “Leave that to me. You’re working for a government company, I’m working for a government company. What difference does it make? How long to drill the grid of holes Liam and I laid out?”
“Oh, probably about a week”, Qaaid said.
“OK, how about this?”, I said, “Liam and I will be back out here unless the weather’s being stupid and we’ll set and prime the charges? After which, we’ll make certain everything’s green and blow this little project for you?”
“If you can, Inshallah.”, Qaaid said.
“Even if we’re out of shallah”, I said back to Randy.
That Sunday, after Liam backed us down the 3.6 km or bouncy un-turn-around-able path he drove us out on, I ordered some Kinepax liquid binaries, as it came in easy-to-use 1-meter threaded lengths in various diameters. Qaaid was drilling 3.5” diameter holes, so the 3.00” nominal OD threaded length would be a breeze. I ordered a couple of spools of shock tube, comb connectors, deflectors, and tie-ins, and a 25 kilo box of ‘Elephant Shit’.
We make sure each hole was blown clean with a high-pressure water hose. Since the water here was only 8 meters deep, we could get by with regular lightweight skin diving gear. I could leave my wetsuit, diver’s helmet and all that heavy-duty ice-diving gear at home for this trip.
Liam and I would pre-form the charges, each exactly 6 meters in length, to match the depth of the drilled holes. Individual 1-meter units just screwed together, pin and box style, it was the utmost in simplicity. Rather like Seismogel™, but packed a considerably higher wallop. All told, we would be setting off some 36 nodal points, each 6 meters deep with 6 meters of binary which weighed 5.3 kg/meter.
Turn the crank and we’d be planting approximately 1,145 kilograms or 2,524 pounds of high-energy binary explosive.
Hmph. A new personal record.
Like Guinness even cared.
So, once we got the high sign from Randy that the shot holes had been drilled and cleaned, the next part of the project was up to us.
We were both PADI-certified. Liam had done some oilfield related diving in the North Sea some years ago. I was a veteran of the Ice Wars from the days of Future Passed back in Baja Canada.
The waters here were calm, gin-clear, and warm.
The dives here weren’t work, this was a paid vacation.
I had liberated a trailer for all our pyrotechnics and Liam was elected to use his Prago as the tow vehicle. We bounded our way out to the Liam’s Pass, as we had dubbed it, with a work trailer containing some 2,750 pounds of high powered, binary explosives bouncing behind. I also had all my explosives paraphernalia there as well: new waterproof galvanometer, which in and of itself, is rather the achievement. Pliers, spare batteries, couple pair of blaster’s tools, the usual.
Lia and I had our dive gear in the back of his Prago.
A couple of single tanks, backpacks, regulators, hoses, and a few belts full of divers weights.
These must have been of Islamic origin as they are specifically prohibited by the Bible. Deuteronomy 25:13, “Thou shalt not have on thy belt divers weights, a great and a small.” And Proverbs 20:23, “Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good.
Why there should be proscriptions against SCUBA gear in ancient, desert-dwelling, shepherding Iron Age writings is what keeps Biblical Scholars up at night.
Although I agree, a false balance underwater keeps your Swimmer’s Ear from healing up.
At the pass, we park and call over for a half-dozen ‘helpers’. They were nominal employees of the company, but more indentured servants. Today, they were going to earn their water wings. We had a couple of large pneumatic rafts that we’d use to transport he charges to their final water resting site but damned if Liam and I are going to swim laps every time we needed to set a new charge.
So, indoctrination and Explosives For Dummies.
Safety first, second and last.
Who here can swim?
You guys can stay. OK, the rest of you blokes, bugger off.
Here’s the deal, Sparky. There are 36 lengths of Kinestix with primers already set. Those go last, as that’s where I tie in to detonate. The rest of the 1-meter long tubes are identical. Pin on one end, box on the other. Thread them together and use a single ‘O-ring’ between each. Snug them up good and tight, but don’t go too crazy. Those are binary liquids, and I’ll give them a good smack with a hammer before they go into the hole. I really only have to do the last one as once initiated, these liquids can mix in milliseconds, but I’m all for safety and doing things right the first time.
OK, so, one raft will carry the 36 initiators, that is, the last bits to go. The other rafts will carry the 5-meter long strings of connected explosives. Liam and I will be down on bottom and you guys just stay up on surface, dog paddling or treading water, but slowly feeding the lengths of tubing down to us. When you reach an end, pop on one of the other lengths, the one with the primer.
To be continued.
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