World Cup 2022: A Way-Too-Early Look at the Betting Odds
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Memorial Tournament Preview Blog
Since Riggs, Trent, and Frankie have turned their golf positions at Barstool into less blogging and more playing with themselves and selling $50 cases of soda, I decided to take a dull, butter knife stab at a preview blog for this weekend’s Memorial Tournament. Last Week Real quick let’s talk about how much we should all hate the PGA after Sunday’s off-air debacle, and then about some questionable feature groups this week. For weather reasons on Sunday, the Workday final round tee times were moved up so players could finish before incoming storms. Great, that all makes sense. But somehow the PGA was not able to broadcast the round on TV, and when they did have to kill the live broadcast, they didn’t even mention where to go watch the rest of the tournament. THERE ARE NO OTHER FUCKING SPORTS ON, WHAT COULD CBS HAVE MADE PRIORITY OVER THIS FINAL ROUND? No seriously, someone please tell me because I would love to know what aired on CBS from 11 am to 3 pm instead of live sports. Can we also talk about how terrible the Thursday/Friday coverage is every weekend on all networks? You usually get 2-4 featured groups you can stream online from 9-3 (even these groups you often need NBC Sports Gold to watch), and then get maybe 3 hours of full coverage in a TV broadcast. There is legitimately a channel called the Golf Channel, who are airing a shitty preview/talk show while you are missing coverage. Here’s a fucking mad idea - put live golf on the golf channel before the major networks get prime coverage. Then we got a look yesterday at the featured groups for the Memorial. How do you fuck this up? If you are younger than 70 and even sporadically watch golf, you could do this job better than whoever does it for the PGA. Here’s the formula: Brooks Koepka makes a joke about Bryson Dechambeau using steroids one week ago = you put them in the same group. Golf has so little drama because all these guys are friends and making millions of dollars even when they aren’t winning. Fans need these storylines/rivalries to be buffed up, not ignored because they might hurt Bryson's feelings. This Week As far as a course preview, we get a strange twist this week with the players coming back to Muirfield, who just hosted the Workday Charity Tournament. I’ve been watching golf for a long ass time and cannot remember the last time this happened, but it’s not a major headline at all so maybe this does happen on occasion. Either way the setup this weekend will look different than last weekend, with much faster greens, thicker rough, and some changes in tee box locations. I think we see some youngeinexperienced players struggle with the change in green speeds, especially since they just played these same greens and they were rolling like carpet (stimpmeter will go from 11 to 13.5). My gut tells me the winner is either a veteran or someone who didn’t play here last week. This would rule out guys like Hovland, Burns, Merritt, Niemann, etc. Finally, we have to mention that Eldrick Tiger Woods returns to the field this week. I’m looking at his +2000 odds and hate the value because we have no idea where his game is at right now. That being said, Tiger has won the Memorial five times and placed T9 last year, and T23 the year before. I will root for Tiger to win every tournament he enters, but I won’t look at a future for him at these low odds, and for his first post-break golf since The Match. Now let’s go over wagers this weekend and what you should look for. I am usually not a fan of betting on outright winners, before any golf has been played. The odds always look so good but you will rarely have a profitable year trying to bet winners every week. That being said, here are some of the best value picks IMO.
This man is -69 (nice) in his 4 tournaments since the resumption of the season, with final results of 3rd, 8th, 6th, and 1st. Not only is he launching drives 10% further than the field consistently, but his confidence is sky high and that mental edge goes a long way. Bryson also won here 2 years and 40 pounds ago, so he does like this course. But let’s not forget what a whiny bitch he is. Give me odds on if he will punch a cameraman this week and I would hammer yes.
Rory McIlroy/Justin Thomas +950
Rory holds the current #1 world golf ranking, and JT holds the current #1 FedEx cup ranking. Neither golfer has won since returning from quarantine, however they each grabbed a trophy or two early in the season (pre-pandemic). Both have seen some inconsistencies in the past month, with over par rounds or missed cuts, but undeniably still playing great golf. You might want to think about JT’s state of mind after blowing a lead and then a playoff last weekend, but I still like him to show up and be in the mix.
DJ recently daddy-dicked Brendan Todd in the final round of the Travelers, starting his final round 2 shots behind and leaving with a 1 shot victory (6 shots ahead of Todd). He might win, he might not, either way he’s going home to Paulina Gretzky and a Johnny Depp style lunch spread.
I’m going to choose to ignore Brooks’ round one 74 at the Workday this weekend, followed up by a missed cut. His previous two tournaments he posted 8 consecutive rounds under par, and a Sunday 65 to place 7th at the RBC Heritage. That being said, in my brief research it looks like his best finish at the Memorial was T31 in 2017, so maybe he hates this course. But Petty King’s hate for everyone besides himself is a great motivator. Can’t wait until we get a “suck on that Faldo” on a hot mic.
My guy Collin is less than a year removed from his amateur status, and has now made 24/25 cuts to start his career. Three weeks ago he lipped out a 3 footer to lose in a playoff, had a rough 2 weeks at the RBC and Travelers, but then he came right back and won in a playoff this past weekend. This dude is a sniper from the fairway, but can he stay straight off the tee and hole some putts? 2 playoffs in his last 4 tournaments would indicate yes.
Cantlay/Matsuyama/Rose/Kuchar +1250 to +6500
All four of these guys have won the Memorial in the past, with Cantlay at the best odds trying to repeat his title from 2019. I sneaky love Justin Rose here who has been playing great golf, and reminds me of a slightly less hate-able version of Adam Scott. Always fun to root for Kuch daddy as well, but his association with Sketchers is unforgivable.
Hovland/Simpson/Schauffele/Berger +2000 to +3000
Three young studs who have won or come close to winning this season, and a veteran who has been playing lights out golf (Webby). I would not be surprised to see a slow start for Hovland after two disappointing Sundays in a row, but he is too good not to make a push if he makes the cut. Schauffele actually scares me, he is definitely the odds on favorite to be a serial killer after his PGA career (eh maybe Mickelson). But that focus and weird fatheson relationship has been working for him, and he’s sitting just a few spots outside the FedEx cup top 10 and playing great golf. Meanwhile Webby is sitting at #2 in the FedEx cup rankings with a win at the RBC Heritage and a top 10 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Side note, why is there a “t” in mortgage? Fuck that word.
My pick: once again reiterating I will likely not bet on a Sunday winner before Thursday starts, but if I was I would put my money on Justin Rose +4500 or Xander Schauffele +2500. Thursday Matchups Easily the best way to bet on golf, and in my experience the most profitable. Here are a few picks I’ll be making before Thursday. Currently I am 4-2 betting matchups (last 4 PGA events) and I’ll track my picks moving forward. If I get to Jack Mac or Reags level of bad betting, I promise I’ll retire and not pretend I know what I’m talking about. I’m only going to pick matchups in the featured groups for Thursday. Nothing worse than betting on someone like Marc Leishman, and having to refresh the golf cast simulator thing instead of watching live play. Dechambeau (-115) over Thomas (-105): everything is so planned out and calculated with Bryson, and his sit-out at the Workday feels like a part of his plan. Fucking hate rooting for this kid, but I see him coming in fresh against JT who blew an enormous lead last weekend. D. Johnson (even) over Morikawa (-120): my favorite first round matchup bet. It seems counter-intuitive going against the guy who won at this course a few days ago, but don’t forget the major change this week will be how the greens roll. And Morikawa is 150th on tour in strokes gained with the putter. Lock it in. Take a flier - round 1 leader I don’t think I’ve ever bet this prop but I’ve also never written a golf blog before so let’s take a shot here. I’ll put a half unit on it as well: Rickie Fowler +4000 Rick's finishes at the Memorial the past 3 years: T14, T8, solo 2nd. In 2017 when he placed 2nd, he shot an opening round 66. I also feel like I see him in the mix a lot in early rounds, but can’t quite put together those low weekend rounds. That’s all I’ve got. Sorry it’s not funny but it’s better content than we’ve gotten out of Foreplay. Let’s make some money and blow off work Thursday and Friday.
A look at the harem of Jabba the Hutt-from the eyes of many of its inhabitants. Mefora Arless Her eyes straining from the transition out of the blaze of her homeworld's sun into the darkened room, Mefora struggled to see even a foot in front of her. A loud clang, followed by the beep of a lockpad, told her that she was sealed inside the cell. The floor beneath her bare feet (she had lost her shoes when the mansion was raided) felt smooth and cool. A scent of flowers, fruit, and something she could not quite place filled the warm air, and a whirring (if invisible) fan sent tendrils of it washing over her, the scent swirling around her and enticing her forward. Stumbling blindly ahead, she made solid contact with a wall, made not of stone but of some thick, draped cloth. Following the lines of the drapery, her hand ran over a switch, and she froze. A voice hailed her from the darkness. “Go ahead, press it. We could all use a little light, you know." It was a friendly voice, with a hint of mischief about it. Still, there didn't seem to be anything wrong with turning on the lights. She took a deep breath and flicked the switch upwards. Mercifully, the lights did not snap on all at once-her retinas would have disintegrated from strain. A series of glow panels slowly lit up, and then some sky-lights opened, showing her a scene that she wouldn't believe existed even in the luxuries of her plush mansion, let alone on this city-world. What she had thought a cell was actually a massive room, with a floor of white marble, only the edge of which was visible under the thick rugs that lay on it. Piles of cushions were scattered about, and low, broad silk couches lined the walls and edged the ten large pools that were cut into the floor. A light steam rose from them and rolled along the floor, swirling around any solids it encountered. the walls, as she had discovered, were made of a thick, soft fabric, which hung in billows from golden cords and marble pillars, or else long silver rods between the columns. Bowls of exotic fruits and wine stood on holders throughout the place, and the exotic scent was revealed to be from the many braziers that puffed sedately from discreet alcoves. Trays of perfumes or makeup lay next to each couch, apparently at the disposal of their occupants-and it was the occupants that drew her attention the most. Fully two dozen extremely pretty girls lounged on the rooms luxurious furnishings, or in the pools, or even on the thick carpeting. To a one, they seemed at once expectant, but also entirely at ease-one had not even stopped shaving. Most were sipping sedately at goblets of fine gold or crystal. One couch in particular drew her eye. A sea of billowy blue silk, the four girls on it somehow seemed superior to the rest, and even while she waited one got up and walked gracefully over. She was extremely beautiful, with rich brown hair and a perfectly sized chest. "Welcome," the girl intoned, a grin threatening to break through to her face, "to our world." A flick of a wrist summoned one of her couchmates. "Jess, show her around and prepare her, please. The rest of you," she admonished, a smile now well in evidence, "Quit staring, its rude." The girl named Jess replied, "Of course, Your Highness," and bowed deeply. 'Her Highness' patted Jess on the back as she left, sliding down into the pool nearest her couch. she had not even bothered to undress-then again, Mefora realized, she didn't have to. Save for the collar necklace she wore about her neck, she had nothing to take off. A look around showed this to be the case with much of the room-except for the collars (apparently a popular decoration) few wore anything at all, none anything substantial. A tug snapped her back to herself. Jess (herself dressed in little more than a panty) drew her away to a door behind some of the curtain walls. "C'mon, you need a makeover," Jess told Mefora. "You mean I'm going to have to dress like that?" she asked incredulously. "You call this dressed?" giggled Jess. "That's my point. Do I have to?" Jess sighed. It was like this with every new girl. "You'll get used to it." Mefora shrugged. After all, everyone else had. Going through the door, they walked down a short tunnel and found themselves in a small, well appointed greenroom. A shower stall of fine crystal and gold trimming stood in one corner, and most of the remainder of the space was filled with an ordinary looking makeup counter. Mefora was struck by how unused everything looked. "It's everlasting," Jess explained patiently, when Mefora commented on this. "The stuff never comes off, and so we never use it, except for new girls. That other bunch in the main room is just for fun." With a quick, skilled hand, she began to apply it. As she finished, Mefora snuck a peek at the mirror and gasped-the girl there looked nothing like the Morwillian noblewoman that had entered the harem. That girl was an Empress, a queen, and, somehow, a whore. Her dirty blond hair was now the color of auburn, her cheeks slightly flushed, her lips a deep, sensuous cherry color that perfectly matched her nails. "Now for this," said Jess, as she gently pinched Mefora on the shoulder. "Into the shower, girl." She laughed playfully. Still unsure of herself, Mefora undressed (Jess covered her eyes) and got in, turning on a flood of warm water and rose petal scent. Jess gave her a minute, and then called through the door, "Ok, olive will be fine." "What?" asked Mefora "Here, I'll show you." With that, she opened the door and climbed in. "Hey!" exclaimed Mefora, startled. "What're you in here for?" "It'll just be a minute," Jess promised. Turning off the water, she began to work a measure of liquid from a pink bottle over Mefora's skin-all of her skin. Mefora couldn't help but balk as Jess' hands slid along and around her breasts. "Is that necessary?" she asked, as Jess finished her bosom and began to work down towards her abdomen. The older girl was quite focused on her task, and seemed to be taking a great deal of care to make sure that she got the dye to cover Mefora's entire person. Her answer was a bit more clipped than usual. "Yes. And, by the way, if you could give me a hand-" she indicated the bottle-"this would be a lot faster." "Is it really that important?" "You bet. It would look terrible if we were all different colors, right? The High Exalted One needs to look good in every way-and that means that we need to look good. C'mon, hurry up." At Jess' urgings, Mefora took a little of the stuff and gingerly began to rub it onto the folds around her entrance. Jess herself had moved on to her back, and the sense of her finger tips sent goosebumps rippling down Meforah's spine time and again. She noticed and paused, whispering in Mefora's ear, "Hey! Loosen up, girl! It'll only be a minute more." Meforah could swear that she felt Jess kiss her as she said that. It wouldn't have been out of place. After the last of the dye was applied to the space between her toes, Jess helped Mefora out of the shower. Both girls' clothes had been whisked away, as had the makeup, leaving the mirror sitting alone on the washstand. Jess pointed her to it and flicked on the bulbs that surrounded the glass. Mefora gasped. Her skin, formerly pale from the weak, cold sun of her home planet, had deepened to a rich olive tone, complimenting the auburn mane that had somehow appeared out of her former brown locks. Cherry-red lips, dark eye-liner, and just a touch of blush completed the ensemble, all making for a girl that any Princeling would be ready to kill for. There was one thing missing, though. "Jess, what am I going to have to wear?" she asked. Despite the manner that they had conducted themselves with in the shower, Mefora liked her modesty, and the thought of wearing what some of those girls had been was more than a little sickening. Jess just laughed. "Here you go," she giggled, and pulled out a panel from the wall. It was hung with a number of different costumes, none of them remotely solid. Jess moved around to the other side of the rack and began to flick through them. Before long, she had made her decision. "This one," she muttered with conviction, and brought it over. It was a rich turquoise, and had been fashioned to look like seaweed, with curling tendrils that flashed with silver highlights when it moved. "Just in from Mon Calamari. It's supposed to be form fitting." said Jess as she pushed the shapeless mass into Mefora’s arms. Surprisingly, it felt not like seaweed but like smooth, light cloth. Mefora looked at it in surprise. "It feels a bit-" she broke off. The strands had come to life, and now twisted themselves around her, forming a comfortable and very revealing one-piece costume. She noted with relief that they had thought to cover her breasts (sort of) and the small triangle between her legs (less so). While this was happening, Jess had snapped open a drawer in the washstand and pulled out a pair of small, emerald-set earrings, a sheaf of gold thread, and an anklet. The jewelry, Jess explained would not come off until it was told, and the costume would work in the same way. "And those are for?" Mefora asked. The thread still sat on top of the washstand, untouched. "Oh, right," cried Jess. "I forgot. Her Highness would have been furious." Pulling the threads loose a few at a time, she began to weave them into Mefora's hair, skilled fingers flitting back and forth. In a few minutes, the thread was gone. "Right, now that'll be permanent, just like this," Jess said, holding up a metal collar. To Mefora's horror, it was irremovably affixed around her neck. "Jess, do I really need to wear that?" Mefora asked. Jess smiled. "Of course, it's the most important part! Don't worry, you'll soon treasure it," Jess answered. At least it seemed comfortable, and it's silver color matched her outfit. Jess beckoned her out of the makeup room. "Come on, I'll show you around." she invited. Moving self-consciously, Mefora went with her. This time, they did not re-enter the harem, but instead took a lift up to a floor that seemed to be entirely made of luxury bedrooms, each one seeming a mini-harem of it's own. Jess kept up a running commentary. "These are the private rooms, of course, for the important or experienced slaves. You may notice the name plates on the doors." Looking around, Mefora noticed seven bedrooms. Three on each side, and one at the end of the hall. That one had a golden name plate with Amanda engraved on it. One of the others had Jess. "Now, if we go down one floor-" they did-"we find the 'night rooms'. Part of our job is to chat up the people in court, and this is where we sleep if we are successful." "You mean that-" Mefora spluttered, horrified. "Yes. Get used to it-you really don't want to be the least bedded when inspection time comes." They entered the lift again. It stopped on a floor with dozens of closed, though probably comfortable, bed rooms. "These are where we sleep when we are not successful." The lift went down again. "We don't really have enough rooms for everyone, so either double up or sleep in-" Jess stepped out of the lift and flung the door at the end of the hall open. "-here!" They were back in the harem. Stepping out of the lift and opening the door, a chorus of cheering and congratulations greeted their arrival. "Good one, Jess!" "You've still got it!" "Her Highness will be astounded-forget The High Exalted One!" One girl in a pink and purple costume strode over and threw her arms about Jess. "It's beautiful!" she exclaimed, and kissed Jess full on the mouth. Jess responded with equal passion. Mefora goggled for a moment, and ten slipped away from the small crowd to wander among the harem's luxuries. Finding an unoccupied corner of a pool, she slid in, a sigh of pleasure escaping her as the heated water enveloped her with a cloud of honey scent. Reaching behind her, she pulled a large globular fruit from a bowl and began to peel it. the Rind came away in a cloud of lemon-scented musk. "Wise decision," said someone. Mefora looked up to see a lithe blueish Twi'lek behind her, sliding out of the nets that made up her costume. She cast them aside and dropped naked into the pool beside Mefora, twitching her lekku with enjoyment. A small tinkling filled the air-the lekku-tips had been pierced and hung with small bells. The human girl tugged away the last chunk of rind, pulling out the seed-pod with it and spraying a fine mist of juice into the air. Carefully separating a chunk of it, she popped it into her mouth, relishing in the explosion of sweetness on her tongue. "You'll need some relaxation. Everyone does after her intro." The Twi'lek stretched out on the bench beside her, modelling bare, sensual curves to the fullest extent. One taloned hand dipped into the water and came up holding something. "Yours?" "Oh, NO!" cried Mefora, dropping the fruit by the side of the pool. the limp mass in the alien's hand was her costume, now ruined. She grabbed it away, horrified-for no reason, as it turned out. The minute it touched her, the strands flew to life, wrapping about her limbs as if they had never come off. To make sure, she tugged on one. It unraveled, and the whole lot was set by the poolside. Reclaiming her snack, Mefora turned to the Twi'lek. "What were you saying?" "Everyone needs to settle in a bit. I only got here a few weeks ago myself, but it's not hard to get used to if you go with the flow," She pulled a handful of grapes from the bowl. "So, did they tell you about the games yet?" "What games?" "Oh, we have some friendly competitions now and then." She put an emphasis on the word friendly that made Mefora slightly suspicious, but she didn't say anything, just popped down the rest of the fruit. "By the way, I'm Yifa'toar. You?" The Twi'lek broke off, looking inquiringly at Mefora. "Mefora Arless. So-what goes on around here?" she asked. Yifa's answer was cut short by an explosion of cheering at the other end of the pool. "Come on," she said, "Race you there." The two girls took off, and swam rapidly to the far edge. A sort of contest had broken out amongst a dozen or so of the girls. standing around one of the couches, a massive scarlet one, two girls at a time would pull each other down onto it and try to keep a liplock for as long as possible without coming up for air. Yifa and Mefora looked on in growing fascination as they watched some pairs go for nearly a minute wrapped up in each other. Mefora was shocked at how easily the girls here kissed other females, and with how much passion they did so with-thoughts that were unpleasantly interrupted by a strange sensation that suddenly flowed up her body. She wanted to do it too. With a start, she realized that Yifa had looped a braintail around her shoulders and was slowly rubbing her thigh. By way of response, she slid a hand along the Twi'leks back, a row of goosebumps exploding in its wake. Yifa turned and gave her a look that set off a storm inside Mefora's stomach, and before she knew it they had clambered out of the pool to join those milling about near the couch. In short order, the two of them were standing right at the edge of the 'playing area', and cheering with everyone else. A hand pressed into the small of her back, and Yifa whispered to her, "Come on, it's our turn!" They collapsed into the silken dunes, hugging each other tightly. Mefora pulled a sheet away from her face-and Yifa lunged forward from behind it. Their lips met, and she lost the ability to think of anything but the full form of the Twi'lek pressing into her stomach. sliding her tongue out, she met Yifa's halfway, the two doing a slow, delightful dance. It was an age before she remembered to breathe, and they broke apart, rolling off to the ecstatic squeals of the onlookers. Mefora, however, heard nothing but the thudding of her own heart. That was far too enjoyable for what it was. "That was amazing!" "A minute and a half!" "Best time all day!" "We won!" Yifa told her. "I shouldn't have liked that. I've never liked that. But I did. Why?" Mefora asked. Yifa grabbed her hand. "Come, I'll explain to you about your new life," she said. In one of the empty rooms upstairs, the two girls settled into a hot tub and Yifa started to talk. It was the same speech she herself had received upon her "initiation". "In this place, we don't conform to traditional standards. This is a life concerned with pleasure, the High Exalted One's first, ours next. It doesn’t matter what we do-as long as someone enjoys it," she paused, "Thusly, you will instinctively enjoy whatever you do, whether or not you think you should. Its complicated but, well, you'll learn." "I hope I do soon," grumbled Mefora, "That felt too weird." "Well, then.." said Yifa, and suddenly caught her up in a hug, pressing them hard together. Her hands slid along Mefora's back, and the costume dropped away, joining the Twi'lek's on the bottom of the pool. Their lips met, and then Mefora slid a hand downward along Yifa's stomach, feeling her full form. Yifa clamped one hand across the back of Mefora's head, the other across her backside, and they both dissolved in bliss. After an hour of amazing pleasure, Mefora and Yifa finally relaxed. Mefora, however, still had some questions. "Look, Yifa, no one's really told me what my purpose is here. I don't know where I am, I don't know how long I'll be here, and I don't know who this High Exalted One is." Yifa stared at her. "How do you not know who your new master is? Didn't you see the massive palace on your way in? How many people do you think it could be?" "I don't know. I'm a Morwillian noblewoman who's only told about what happens on my planet. I don't know what goes on elsewhere, though there are some strange rumors of late." "And what are these rumors?" Yifa asked. Mefora shrugged. "Just that the Empire has fallen and a new one has taken its place, nothing credible really," she said. Yifa leaned in. "And who rules this Empire?" Yifa questioned. "I don't know, my homeworld is very isolationist, but the rumors say he controls most of the galaxy, and that he's legally restarted the practice of slavery," Mefora answered. Yifa grinned. "Yes he has. We're living proof of it!" Mefora paled. "Jess said that, but I didn't want to believe it. Why? What did I do wrong?" she asked. Yifa shook her head. "It's not what you did wrong, it's what you did right. Your new master has judged you of high enough beauty and character to be his slave girl," she explained. "So who is your master?" Mefora asked impatiently. Yifa grinned. "Our master is the emperor himself, the ruler of the galaxy," she revealed. Mefora was stunned. "Why would someone like that be interested in me? For that matter, how did I even end up here?" Mefora cried. "You were probably captured during the scouting of your homeworld. It wasn't part of the last empire, so our master hasn't taken it yet. As for why he's interested in you, well.." Yifa said, stroking Mefora's breasts, "That should be obvious." Mefora didn't know how to react. She had never liked her planet or her family, but she doubted her new occupation would be better. She sighed, "So, Yifa, what is your..." Yifa shook her head.... "Our master like. What kind of man is he?" Mefora asked. "Well, Mefora, our master isn't a man, or a human, for that matter," Yifa said. Mefora was relieved. "So that means I won't have to spend the night with him," she breathed, but Yifa immediately contradicted her. "No, you will still have to pleasure him," she explained. Melina paled. "What species is he?" she asked, nervous. "Mefora, our master is...." Yifa didn't finish. "Who?" Mefora begged impatiently. "I can't say his name. I'm not worthy," Yifa said. "Just say it!" Mefora yelled. "Well, it is for the good of The High Exalted One, I guess I can spell it," Yifa offered. "J-A-B-B-A," Yifa began, saying one letter at a time, "T-H-E H-U-T-T," she finished. "What! I'm enslaved to a Hutt?" Mefora cried. "Well, obviously, as they're the only ones who can have slaves in the new galactic order," Yifa explained. "Listen Yifa, I'm an aristocrat, not a slave. Jabba can't just take me like this. Surely someone on my planet will come looking for me," Mefora protested. Yifa shook her head. "No, in fact, he's allowed to take any girl he wants, regardless of her status. As for someone coming for you, I doubt it. Your planet has been untouched so far, but I bet it's being captured right now," at Mefora's look of horror, Yifa quickly added, "But few innocents die during the Hutt invasions. Our mater just wants the entire galaxy to experience the prosperity his empire brings." "No! Yifa, I've seen a Hutt before when one visited my planet, they're the most vile things in the galaxy! I can't be enslaved by one!" Mefora protested. Yifa shook her head again. "Well, you are. Trust me, acceptance is always the first step in realizing your place." Mefora stared, this girl was nuts. "My..my place. What the hell are you talking about!" she demanded. "Well, what you will be for the rest of your life. You see...you are now a pleasure slave to The High Exalted One, who will serve him in any way he desires. You belong to The High Exalted One now," Yifa explained. Mefora could not accept this. "No, I will not stay here! Why did this happen to me? All I've done is good throughout my life and now I'm a slave to a disgusting Hutt. Why?" she begged. "No, Mefora. You've got this all wrong, you're a lucky girl. I know it's hard to believe, but being a slave here is an incredible experience. You've seen the harem, you know how well we are treated here," Yifa began, but Mefora interrupted her, "Yes, I believe that, though I don't know why. But Jabba is still a Hutt, a disgusting, evil, Hutt!" she said. "No, Mefora. You look upon our master as something to be reviled, but you couldn't be more wrong. Being a Hutt doesn't make him evil, it makes him a superior being. Hutts are far superior to any other species, and our master is the greatest of them all. You should be honored to serve him. He treats us very kindly, and in return we give him our loyalty," Yifa explained. Mefora started to protest, but Yifa cut her off. "I know what you're thinking, but pleasuring him isn't something to dread. after one night with him, you'll be praying every night that you are offered the chance to serve him alongside our Queen." When Mefora did not respond, Yifa continued, "I know it's hard to accept, but you'll enjoy this life. You've seen our amazing harem, you know how happy your sisters are. There are no drawbacks to this life!" Mefora finally replied, "Yes there is. Even if Jabba, the harem, and sex here are as wonderful as you say, there is still the loss of freedom, the loss to do as you please," Mefora countered. Yifa laughed. It wasn't a cold, sadistic laugh, but a sweet, amused laugh. "The thing about freedom? No one here misses it. Neither will you. You know the big harem door, that leads to the rest of the palace?" Yifa questioned. Mefora nodded. "Well, it's not locked. You know why? Because no one here wants to leave. There are twenty five girls here, and none of them prefer freedom to this. How can you refute that. You have been given the chance to be one of us and live a happy, care-free life. Embrace it!" Mefora considered this. Two dozen girls lived here, and all of them were happy. was it really possible? To give up her stressful life as am aristocrat and embrace a life of pleasure. Could she really become a slave. A happy, willing, slave; and enter a life of pleasure? If what Yifa said was true, it seemed to be an attractive way of living. Yifa seemed to read her mind. "Yes. Join us. Accept your master's protection from a cold, hard galaxy. You know this is where you belong," Yifa said. Yifa began to lean forward. Her eyes were closed and her lips were pursed for a kiss. Mefora knew that, somehow, accepting that kiss would seal the deal. She would be accepting her life as a slave and embracing her passions, which had been repressed for twenty-two years during her life as an aristocrat. Time seem to slow as Mefora pursed her own lips and began to lean forward as well. How she wanted that kiss! Wanted to release her passions! They were interrupted by the door being pushed open. An entirely naked girl strode in, and beckoned them out of the pool. "Come on down, and quick. We are having a meeting," she said, then spun on her heel and strode out. Yifa scowled, but led Mefora out of the room and into the lift. She pushed the '1' button and the lift went down. As they came out of the lift, they were quickly drawn into a conference. The girl in the pick and purple costume who had kissed Jess earlier was addressing all the other girls. "Her Highness’s birthday is tomorrow, so we need to think of something to celebr-" and the wall disappeared. Mefora never saw what happened next; a bolt of blue energy surrounded her and drew her towards the hole. The wall had not really disappeared though, as much as was vaporized. A single starship hovered in its place, sucking the new girl in like a snack. As she disappeared inside, a man slowly strode out of it and leapt the two feet to the floor. He was wearing a suit of armor, like none of them had seen, and spoke in a low growl. "Tell your master he owes me something," he ordered, and returned to his ship. The thing's engines glowed, and it streaked up and away. One girl spoke. "Boba Fett!," she sounded shocked, and, as Yifa turned to her, fainted. Yifa'toar It had been three days since the disastrous strike on the harem. While the wall had been rebuilt and the general spirit of things restored, the slaves had been seeing more and more problems around the palace. One of the pools had simply evaporated one night, leaving an empty hollow in the floor. The water had been replaced, but it was still unnerving. The delivery of fresh fruits had been late. The court itself was uneasy, as if danger lurked everywhere. Of course, the biggest clue was the harem queen herself: she had come sobbing into the room one afternoon, long before the High Exalted One normally released her, and was finally convinced to tell the rest what had happened. In short, distraught bursts, she had revealed that the High Exalted One had forbade her to pleasure him, for fear of injuring her out of anger. The reactions amongst the girls had varied. Some sat as if expecting to be shot at any moment. Others went about with a forced air of cheer. Still others, such as Yifa, were simply too shocked to do much. Lying in one of the harem pools, she simply kept seeing the scene over and over, watching her friend disappear in a beam of blue light. So entranced was she by the memory that she didn't even notice her queen coming before she called out, "Girls! Listen up!" Looking around, she spotted Leia, who seemed quite happy about something. As her subjects gathered around her, she began to explain. "I have just been with the High Exalted One," she said, with obvious delight, "And he has asked us to help catch the usurper that attacked us and took one of our sisters. We are to spread word of much reward amongst the court and listen for any rumors we may, in addition to our duties. Are there any questions?" No one raised their hand, and after a minute, the queen said, "Excellent. Lets' practice, then. We want to be in top form tonight." The court reopened in grand style, with food, drinks, and spice in abundance, and some of the best routines that the girls had ever put on drawing wave after wave of applause. The musicians were likewise startling, and Jabba was quickly surrounded by many admiring courtiers. Inquiries about the closures were laughed away. Everything was fine, they were told. Yifa, though not dancing, did her best with the role she had been given. Clad in a shimmering, skin-tight layer of silvery cloth, she cozied her way around the visitors, keeping her ears open for any hint of the bounty hunter. However, her efforts were fruitless-the man had proven as elusive to the rest of the galaxy as he had to Jabba's hired army, and no one had seen him for months. This distressed Yifa greatly. She wanted her friend back. She was cozying up to a big, male Twi'lek, one of the mercenaries, when a shout of "SCILENCE!!" boomed from the throne. A tall being with six arms stepped to the center of the floor, and bowed low. "Mighty One, I have brought you the head of your enemy," it said, and unfolded one of its hands. The helmet it had been holding clattered to the floor, prompting shocked gasps from the girls. They had all seen it before. Jabba chuckled loudly, and then waved off his henchmen. "Put it there," he ordered, pointing next to the plinth that had held Han Solo. The two guards bent for the helmet-and were suddenly blown back from it. Of it's own accord, the thing rose from the floor, and began to speak in a measured tone. "Hello, partner," it began, filling the title with scorn. "You still owe me. The harem was only the beginning. If I do not receive payment, more will follow. For instance..." a light on the visor flashed. Below the floor, the rancor's gate slid open and the beast fell out, sporting a massive black eye and clearly stunned. "And one more thing-if this had been a thermal detonator, you would be-" and at that point, one of the guards recovered enough to blast the thing out of the air. The entire world of the harem had been thrown into disarray. The girls had been told to avoid the main floor, the queen had adopted a distant, uninterested air toward everything, and the whole place seemed far too tense to be good. As such the day of the canyon races, unenclosed, massive pod races, couldn't seem to come soon enough. Beginning on the fiftieth level of the palace, racers would maneuver the twenty-kilometer course through the city’s mountains and valleys of Nal Hutta at breathtaking speeds, drawing thousands of spectators, millions of credits in bets, and the very finest the racing world had to offer. Naturally, of course, Jabba would preside over all of this, and so his entire retinue of slaves accompanied him to the palace balcony when the day came. The girls had worked out a new routine to be performed before the races, and every slave was excited for the spectacular event. Walking toward the balcony, Yifa guessed what this was all about. Their dance would be a statement to the rest of the galaxy: We are enslaved by Jabba and love it. We are happy to serve him. He is an excellent master and an excellent emperor. Yifa didn't care though. What was the harm in sending an underlying statement if it was completely true? As they emerged onto the platform, a quarter of a kilometer around, a roar of cheering greeted them. This was good. It signaled that the galaxy was beginning to accept the Hutt practice of owning slaves. and a spectacular light show began, provided by the force fields surrounding the big ferrocrete slab. Huge floating stands had been set up all around the massive palace. It was beyond anything Yifa had ever imagined. The dance kicked off, and as expected, the girls were in top form. Every eye in the enormous crowd followed each move as it grew wilder and more suggestive, culminating in the Queen's solo performance, which had the crowd on its feet in the first five seconds. She danced around, beautiful, graceful, and intense. As she finished, Jabba called for silence, and his girls retreated to the throne. "Let the race..." he began. Engines flashed to life. Pit crews raced for cover. "BEGIN!" Jabba gestured. Yifa watched as the twenty-odd racers shot off-except one. One single pod caught an unstart, and, with a wild twist, came in at the bottom of the stands, aiming for the repulsor-lift generators. It never arrived. In a blaze of laser fire, the pod disintegrated, and a small starship dropped down in front of the palace balcony. Its hatch opened, and two figures walked out-and, apparently, through the shields. The voice from the helmet boomed out. "In regard, Partner, for this mornings readjustment of assets, I have something to return to you." Yifa looked away from the starship. The two figures were from the harem. One was a girl she had known in passing, called Mara. The other... "Mefora! You're BACK!" she cried as the girls reached the throne. A massive group hug followed, and the race was totally forgotten. Len Marela How the harem entertains itself-and others. It was well after practice time, and so the girls were lounging in hot baths or on the couches, soaking up the harems luxury. They had finished entertaining the afternoon court, and now were enjoying each others' company in the usual manner. Len in particular was having fun. She had never been very good at the tickle game, but joined in with a will, generally to shriek with laughter as soon as her opponent reached her bare (then again, all of her was, for the most part) stomach. Due to her less-than-agile- build, she had never been much of a dancer (by the harem standard), but was easily the one of the most experienced pleasure slaves there. As she pulled away from yet another loss, gasping for air, Len rolled onto the floor and saw a pair of feet dressed in silk slippers coming towards the couch. Standing, she caught sight of Amanda, the harem mistress, with a bemused look on her face. She watched for a moment, and then clapped for attention, bringing the game to a (sort of) halt. "Girls, we need to prepare for a rather special event," she began. "There is going to be a rather large convention of the more important beings in various fields in this Palace in a few months. It is indescribably important that we be ready to help our master make the best possible impression. He stands to lose or gain quite a bit here, so no slacking, from anyone." The harem quickly became a bustle of activity, but Len, being a pleasurer and not a dancer, mainly just sat by the side, until a tap on her head made her turn. Her friend, a young girl called Tina around the harem, was standing there. The two were easily the best pleasure pair in the palace, next to Leia and Amanda, and possibly Jess and Lyn Me, but Len and Tina were actually best friends, not just lovers. Besides, the other pairs were generally reserved for the Hutts, and never had visitors come to them. "Want to 'practice'?" grinned Tina, pulling off her skimpy bikini. Len shot a smile back at her, and then tore her costume away and dragged her onto the futon. The two quickly spiraled into sensual bliss, and only dragged themselves apart to head to the pool. They had about five minutes of fun, and then were called out for a sort of roll call that took place before each performance. The girls would be told by their Queen who was to do what, and for how long. "Her Royal Highness!" the mistress, Amanda, called. The milling slaves immediately knelt, and Leia entered, dressed in her new silver, gem studded costume, which covered rather a lot less than it might have. The bottom half had been reduced to little more than a single triangle of silver with a massive ruby set in it, and the top was a thin band of twisting silver wire, supporting two elegant silver blossoms that had been festooned with rubies of their own. It was worth more than most beings had ever seen. She looked at the girls for a moment, and then began to speak. "Most of you already know your jobs, so this won't take too long. However, one more thing has just come up-the High Exalted One will be touring some of his holdings soon. as I and some others will be going with him-" she said this with obvious pride-"Amanda will be in charge for a week or so. Now, as for tonight, there is one small change from normal. Third and fourth shift dancers, you will be switching routines. I have decided it will look better on everyone," she gestured at the studio end, indicating that the two shifts in question should make sure they knew their new assignments. They did, of course-but practice never hurt anyone. "You will practice your new routines now," Amanda ordered, "Anything less than perfection will be met with consequences." Amanda then shook her head, as if to clear it. A weird look had appeared in her eyes, then it disappeared. "Right, you heard her," said Leia, though she eyed Amanda wearily. This wasn't like her. Len went over to watch the dancers practice. Throughout the whole erotic routine, Amanda stalked the edges of the mats. Every once and a while she would harshly criticize a dancer, with a weird look in her eyes. Amanda constantly shook her head, as if to clear it. Len wondered-she had been like this briefly after the horrid kidnaping, but that had passed-right? Tina slid down onto her futon. "I'm beat. Want to go for a swim?" Len shook her head. "Tina, what's wrong with the Mistress?" "What? the way she's acting? Nerves," the other slave explained. As she talked, she slowly slid Len's bra up. Len flopped down against her, saying, "If so, I hope it's over soon. It's annoying," Tina slowly began to lick the now-exposed nipple, but paused to say, "Me too," before returning to her task. Len cupped a hand behind her head, and then slid the other between her legs, feeling the warmth there. She dug her fingers in lightly, noticing how Tina jerked when she did, and transferred her mouth to the other side of Lens chest. "OH!!" Len squealed. Tina had hit some sort of sweet spot, and was flicking at it again and again. By total reflex, Len balled her hands-and in doing so brought Tina over her brink, with Len following a second later. By the time the pair had resurfaced, they had to leave for court. In the throne room, the pleasure slaves were quickly 'deployed' throughout the side areas and bars, while the dancers had a final warm-up in a green room behind the throne. Len, working the right-hand side as usual, scored quickly-a large, muscular Corellian was standing there, and took an immediate interest. She was quite on her game, and soon had the man fetching her drinks for the evening-one of the perks of a pleasurer, but then, the dancers rarely seemed to need them. Before long, they retreated to a night room, and fell into the fullest joys of love before dropping into a warm, deep sleep. Len, at least, was satisfied-this was her job, after all, and she was happy to see it well done. She woke early the next morning, and left through the hidden door to the harem, her catch still asleep behind her. She slid into one of the pools, tossing her costume aside, and then slowly began to snack on some of the fruit in a nearby bowl, marveling at how quiet everything was, even though she could already hear some people moving about upstairs. Waiting for some of them to appear, she lay back, watching the fog that sometimes came into the harem from somewhere.
The year is 2017. Top scientists have finally cracked the ability to stop ageing, and the world rejoices. The discovery prompts an immediate FIFA investigation into exactly what this means for world football from now on. How will the careers come and go when every team can just preserve their best stars? How will the next Messi break through? The Qatar FA suggest restricting it to only Qatari players, a motion that's only narrowly defeated. In unrelated news, a bunch of mysterious Qatari bank accounts are seized the day before the vote. Eventually, a compromise is decided upon between. Only those players who’ve proven themselves to be in it for the sport, and their team, can use it. The players who have stuck with their team through thick and thin, who’ve turned down bigger money offers to stay where they are. One-Club Men. However, should their loyalty ever waiver, and they choose to leave, those players will lose their right to an everlasting career, and have to face the advance years once again. Who will remain loyal the longest? Who will ride out the lowest of lows to stay at their lifelong club? Unfortunately for those of you hoping I’ve found a secret miracle, that’s just the best nonsense I could come up with to frame this scenario. In less dramatic terms, using FM 2017, I'm going to select 50 one-club men from the top 5 leagues and de-age them to around 22. Every 5 years I'll de-age them down to 22 again, unless they abandon their loyalty. I'll also be adjusting everyone's contract to expire in 2020 to make it equal, and undoing international retirements where necessary. Nothing overly complicated, but I’m expecting this one to run a long long time if I’m going to have everyone leave, so I’m good with it not being too complicated. Redditsidenote!It'smeagain.Somemayremembermyexperimentsfromagesago.I'mbackandwritingagain,butasyoucanprobablytell,withanewnameandwebsite.Ifyouwanttoseethispostwithmuchbetterformatting,alltheimages,andeveryone'sprofileattheend,goheretoreaditinfull:linkYoucanstayhereifyoupreferthough! So who actually qualifies for this? I've restricted it to players from the Top 5 leagues of England, Italy, Spain, Germany and France, and only included those that have been at their clubs the longest. As well as the genuine candidates like Messi and Totti, loaned out players like Lahm qualify, as do those like Iniesta who haven't left in FM 2017, and even those that have left in-game, but are known for their careers at one club. Buffon is a good example of the latter. I've included a link to an image with all 5 players here: link With all this loyalty around, I wanted to mix it up a bit by adding in one final player. Someone completely opposite to everyone picked so far, the anti-one-club man, the journeyman of all journeymen. And after some research, I came up with the perfect candidate. Sebastián Abreu, a man who in his career has played at an impressive 29 different teams in 11 different countries, setting a Guinness world record along the way. Abreu will receive the same treatment as the loyal players, except it won’t stop when he moves team. I want him to move around more, spread his wings, see how many teams he can collect over an illustrious career. That’s enough explaining for now. Should be pretty clear what’s going on, just a bunch of footballers never getting old. Time to get things rolling and see who eliminates themselves. Who can stick it out the longest, who will become THE one-club man?
With our younger one club men unleashed on the world, many of them attract instant attention from new clubs. For a while it stays quiet and looks like the first transfer window may pass without incident. Only a few loans crop up... until Javi López because the first man to fall. With Espanyol not meeting his standards, he makes a £2.4M trip down the coast to join Valencia. He proves to be the only summer casualty by the time the window slams shut. January brings the winter window, and the Premier League clubs start to sniff around, ready to throw bags of cash at unsuspecting players. It doesn’t take long before the next two players are reeled in by money and lose their eternal youth. First Marcel Schmelzer in a £20.5M move to Liverpool, followed by Bruno joining moneybags Man City. By the end of the window, Nacho also heads to the north of England, joining rivals Man United. I’m not sure if any of them have realised how damn cold it is up there. That window swiftly ends, settling the bottom 4 finishers in the competition. Returning to the world of actual football results briefly, and there aren’t many shocks to be seen. Man City finish 6th, Everton get relegated and Borussia Mönchengladbach reach the Champions League Semi-Finals. A few players see their team relegated, as Werder Bremen, Caen and Freiburg go down, so there could be a few casualties once that disappointment has set in. But all in all, the footballing world has coped just fine. Loyal Players Remaining: 46 Abreu Club Count: 23 clubs in 10 countries Odd Winners: None
With everyone’s transfer budgets warmed up, it doesn’t take long for the action to get back underway. The previous season has barely finished before Chris Solly trades in his morals for a Premier League move to Norwich. Sergio Álvarez joins him in England, making the slightly odd move to Bournemouth before a big £52M move sees Koke trade loyalty for a big move to Man City. That’s the most surprising move so far, as I expected many of the players at top clubs to stick around. The final two transfers of the window take us to sunny Spain, where both Xabi Prieto and Mario become massive glory hunters, trading in their life long clubs for Atletico Madrid and Barcelona respectively. Javi López, having left Espanyol to join Valencia last year, immediately realises his mistake and rejoins Espanyol. It’s too little too late though, his status as a one-club man is already ruined. The winter window comes and goes without even a hint of action, so things may already be starting to quieten down. Over in Brazil, Sebastián Abreu has his contract with Bangu come to an end after a good season but fails to attract any new suitors before the European season ends. Around the world, things keep ticking on relatively normally. Watford take a surprising FA Cup win despite finishing rock bottom of the league, meaning they’ll have European nights alongside their Championship campaign. The loyalty of Seube, Höfler and Bargfrede is rewarded, as Caen, Bremen and Freiburg are immediately promoted back to the top tier. Las Palmas head in the opposite direction, which causes David García to hand in an immediate transfer request. The Spaniard could very well be the next player to go. Loyal Players Remaining: 41 Abreu Club Count: 23 clubs in 10 countries Odd Winners: Watford (FA Cup)
My suggestion that things may be quietening down is immediately disproved by the biggest move so far. Bayern Munich legend Philipp Lahm makes a huge £82M transfer to Manchester City, throwing away all he’d built up at Bayern so far. But it doesn't end there, as 2 more huge transfers are finalised right after. First Claudio Marchisio drops Juventus, clearly not happy with them losing the title to AC Milan, and moves to Real Madrid. Then Daniele De Rossi trades in Roma for Barcelona. Whilst both have moved in real life, I didn’t expect either to fall so early in this, being icons at such huge clubs. A little later, David García makes his predicted move away from relegated Las Palmas, opting to stay in Spain with Osasuna. And then on the final day of the window, one last move. David Zurutuza decides the Premier League is more to his taste and joins Noble at West Ham. Javi López continues his tour of Spain, realising rejoining Espanyol doesn’t earn him back everlasting youth, and so heads to Sevilla instead. Currently, he’s moved around more than the specific journeyman player I chose to actually move around. Talking of, Abreu does find a new contract, heading back to Uruguay to join River Plate Montevideo. The winter transfer window is again mostly quiet, with very little potential action. There are still some transfers though, as Robin Knoche becomes the 15th person out, heading to Borussia Dortmund. Then a legend moves on, as Iker Casillas decides that barely getting any game time behind Keylor Navas isn’t worth it, and so joins Monaco for a mere £11M. I guess you can't escape the real world after all. The summer of 2018 means a World Cup, a tournament which regularly creates bizarre results in Football Manager. This year is no exception, as the likes of Italy, Belgium and Argentina fall in the group stages, before South Korea beat both Germany and France in the knockouts. The final between Brazil and Croatia proves 100% less heartbreaking than the real 2018 final for the Croatians, as they become champions of the world. In domestic football, Man United take all the English trophies on offer in a Quadruple, whilst Freiburg find themselves relegated yet again, as do Montpellier. Loyal Players Remaining: 34 Abreu Club Count: 24 clubs in 10 countries Odd Winners: Croatia (World Cup)
Another season, another transfer window, another set of swirling rumours around our one-club men. Borussia Dortmund manage to steal away another of our competitors from a German rival, taking Timo Horn early in the window. Having been relegated yet again last season, Nicolas Höfler decides enough is enough and leaves Freiburg for Hertha Berlin. Over in Italy, and Chievo Legend Sergio Pellissier finally caves, leaving his relegation-threatened lifelong team for European battlers Fiorentina. But that's all the entertainment I can offer, no big signings this time around I’m afraid. Let's go see what Javi López is up to instead. His merry-go-round of clubs continues yet again, moving over to Deportivo de La Coruña in the latest of his ever-decreasing value of transfers. January retains its typical bleak and dull atmosphere, with no sign of action whatsoever until the final day of the window. Hugo Mallo decides to try and add to his trophy cabinet and heads to Man United. Not the worst career move to throw away eternal life for considering their dominance right now. And with his departure, the total number of players that we've lost hits a nice round 20. In the Premier League, Man United claim their 4th title in a row, exerting total dominance over everyone. But where one dominance rises, another falls, with Dortmund claiming the Bundesliga to knock Bayern off their perch. The shock of the season comes in the Coupe de France, where 3rd tier LB Châteauroux knock out Lyon, Auxerre and PSG before falling to Caen in the semi-finals. With Monaco having fallen to 4th tier SA Spinalien, Caen beat an easier opposition of RC Lens in the final, leading to Seube lifting the teams first-ever Coupe de France. Not bad for a player I expected to never lift a trophy. On a less joyous note, Höfler having left relegated Freiburg, sees his new team Hertha relegated immediately too. It seems there is no escaping the 2. Bundesliga! On the record front, Gianluigi Buffon sets a huge benchmark, breaking the 200 cap mark for Italy. With no-one else close to him, he’ll stay the leader for a long time. Messi also breaks a boundary, climbing through 400 league goals during his career at Barcelona. Like Buffon, he’s way clear of any competitor, and unless a miracle happens that sees him abandon Barcelona, I can’t see anyone catching him soon. Loyal Players Remaining: 30 Abreu Club Count: 24 clubs in 10 countries Odd Winners: Caen (Coupe de France)
2020 arrives, and with it, two important points arrive too. Firstly, everyone gets de-aged for the first time in this experiment. The 20 that have left get to watch from a distance thinking about what could have been. Second, the initial contracts are set to expire, so anyone that hasn’t re-signed will out the door. Which is exactly what happens to Víctor Valdés. Having barely appeared for Barcelona since his return, he leaves the club on a free and heads to the southern French coast to join Marseille. A day later and someone else leaves France, as Romain Danzé who decides one de-ageing is enough and moves to Schalke. Tony Hibbert also struggled for games at Everton despite his new youthful look, and so he walks out the door. He opts for Aston Villa, who to my great surprise have sunk to a mid-table League 1 team. Feeling left out, Spain joins in, with Oier Sanjurjo departing Osasuna and moving to Villarreal. The window is then capped by a bizarre final free transfer. Despite appearing regularly, Xavi isn’t offered a new contract by Barcelona. Man City can’t quite believe their luck and snap up the Spanish wizard a few days before the window shuts. Winter brings with it just one transfer in its usual action-heavy way. Roberto Torres leaves Osasuna, making a £35.5M switch to Atletico. I’m not sure whether Atletico thought they were getting a different de-aged Torres because that can only be described as an overpayment. Either way, that means we've now lost over half the competitors. Euro 2020 passes, and Croatia prove their World Cup victory was no fluke, becoming both champions of the World, and champions of Europe. On the Continental front, things have been fairly predictable so far, at least until this years Europa League. Hoffenheim escape a tough group and go all the way to win the entire thing. Not bad for a team that barely qualified in the first place. Oh, and Messi wins a little thing called the Ballon d’Or for the 10th time. I think he’s only just getting started. Loyal Players Remaining: 24 Abreu Club Count: 24 clubs in 10 countries Odd Winners: Hoffenheim (Europa League)
The 21/22 season begins with two transfers on the first day. Loïc Perrin makes his way to the Premier League to join Leicester. But that's a minor splash compared to the other move, as after 768 appearances and 302 goals, Francesco Totti leaves Roma. It seems wrong to see it, but he’ll now be wearing a Man United kit. Dortmund continue their run of stealing loyalty, this time bringing Tony Jantschke into the fold. Another contract is run to the end, forcing Álex Bergantiños out of Deportivo without much choice, before being picked up by Cagliari. Mikel González opts to end his time at Real Sociedad, joining Pellissier over at Fiorentina. And as August comes to a close, it looks like Totti may be the only big departure. That is until Gianluigi Buffon decides to call time on his Juventus career. It’s an odd move, with the legend going sorta sideways from a regular starting Juventus spot to Bayern Munich. But there’s no going back now, as his 636 league appearance career with the Italians comes to a close. Two legends down in one window. No season is complete without a single winter signing to warrant an entire separate paragraph, and this season is no different. Sergi Roberto moves away from Barcelona, in a £24M move to French giants PSG. A good way to guarantee yourself plenty of titles I guess. Abreu also makes a winter move, adding Guarani in the Brasilian second tier to his collection. Roberto’s decision proves to be a good one, as PSG go on to claim their 10th one in a row. Not many surprises elsewhere, although Real Oviedo get close to pulling off a shock in the Copa del Rey. The second tier team beat Osasuna, Barcelona and Sevilla on the way to the final, but ultimately Real Madrid prove a step too far. Elsewhere everything is won by a team you’d probably expect. Exciting stuff. Loyal Players Remaining: 17 Abreu Club Count: 25 clubs in 10 countries Odd Winners: None
With the pool of players rapidly decreasing, very few of the crew are even wanted by other clubs anymore. Perhaps deterred by their steadfast loyalty? A few moves do still happen though, so we’re not dead yet. Firstly Anthony Lopes gets fed up of PSG dominating his league and moves to AC Milan for a better shot at a trophy. It’s not long before that story is forgotten, as the biggest transfer fee in the competition so far is dropped. Andrés Iniesta is stolen away from Barcelona, in a huge £86M move to Man United. The midfield maestro fell 2 appearances short of 600 league games for Barcelona, but with his new £300K per-week contract it’s not hard to guess why. That proves to be all the action for the summer window, with no-one willing to top that huge move. After half a season of hearing their noisy neighbours gloating about their star signing, Man City snap. And if there’s one thing City are good at, it’s splashing the cash. In probably the easiest negotiation over fee Barcelona has ever had, Sergio Busquets makes a £95M move to the sky blues. Yeh, that’ll show United. Once again no-one wants to get in the middle of the awkward Manchester squabble, and the winter transfer closes with a whimper. The second World Cup of this experiment comes and goes. This time all the giants make it safely through the Group Stages, but it’s Africa that really excels. Morocco make the knockouts, Egypt battle through to the Quarter Finals, but Nigeria come out best. They beat South Korea and Argentina before falling valiantly to France in the Semi-Finals. A 1-0 victory of Italy does see them finish in an impressive 3rd place, becoming the first African team to finish in the top 3 of the World Cup. France win the title on penalties after a deceivingly action-filled 0-0 draw with Spain. The domestic scene follows that with a similar lack of real shocks. In the Carabao Cup, Bournemouth beat Arsenal, Chelsea and Man United on the way to lifting the trophy. But it’s the lesser Cup, so outside of Bournemouth no-one really cares. PSG finally have their grip on the Ligue 1 broken, as Casillas leads Monaco to a fantastic title. Otherwise, all the league titles and cups fall to teams you’d expect them too. Another thrilling year. Loyal Players Remaining: 14 Abreu Club Count: 25 clubs in 10 countries Odd Winners: Bournemouth (Carabao Cup)
Literally nothing happens. Thomas Kessler decides that no team can ignore his existence for 20 seasons in a row and get away with it, leaving Köln to join Trabzonspor. So as I said, literally nothing happens. Even Javi López moving to yet another club would be more interesting than that. The same applies to the footballing season. Asides from Casillas captaining Monaco to a Champions League title, or Atletico winning the title again, exactly 10 years after their last win, everything is frustratingly normal. And even those two events are hardly shocks. Before I start to lose hope, there are a few interesting moves over the last few years from the losing group that are worth highlighting. First season mover Bruno didn’t make the impact he hoped and found himself moving to the lovely Stoke. Robin Knoche barely received any playtime at Dortmund and found himself cast out to Dinamo Zagreb. Even in League 1, Tony Hibbert could barely get any game time at Villa and so moved on the Scunthorpe in League 2. But the winner of the oddest move has to be Zurutuza, who somehow manage to pull off a move to Liverpool after West Ham found themselves relegated, only make a few disappointing performances, before being released on a free to join Al-Arabi in Qatar. Not quite the career he was anticipating when joining the Premier League I bet. Loyal Players Remaining: 13 Abreu Club Count: 25 clubs in 10 countries Odd Winners: None
The summer transfer window arrives for another season, and with it finally comes a huge deal! Javi López has found yet another club! Hooray! As for actual competitors, absolutely no movement whatsoever. Even from Abreu, who’s been at Guarani for 2.5 years now. Manceau, Lewington and Seube complain to their managers about playing time or relegation, but none of them actually make a move anywhere. So our final 13 will add another 5 years onto their career length. There are some fun statistics from our 51 worth mentioning at this point. Buffon leads the way with both total league appearances (935) and international caps (259). His caps are at a point where they’re too high for the game to display, as the value is stored as an unsigned 8-bit integer, and so has rolled over to just show 3. Most appearances for a single club goes to Dean Lewington however, who thanks to being a regular sits at 857 league appearances for the MK Dons (or 889 if you include Wimbledon). In the goals department, the winner is obvious. With almost 500 league goals, 100 international goals and 14 Ballon d’Or awards, Messi sits on top of everyone. On the international scene, he’s run close by Müller and the fast-approaching Kane, but for league goals, it’s not even close. 2024 brings with it a Euro tournament, which doesn’t provide much in the way of surprises, but brings with it some exciting high scoring matches. All ending in a 4-3 victory for a Thomas Müller led Germany over neighbours Netherlands. Which I’m sure went down very well. The domestic scene decides to spring a few shocks though. In Serie A, Roma claim an impressive title thanks to main striker Iheanacho, their first since 2001. The German and French cups provide surprise winners, in the form of Hertha Berlin and Dijon. Both cap an impressive run by beating their respective league winners, Bayern and Monaco. Even the continental tournaments turn up too. First Monaco cement their place as a top power in football by winning their second Champions League in a row. That coming a week after the best win there could possibly be. Tottenham win the Europa League! Screw the other stuff, that last part is all I need! Loyal Players Remaining: 13 Abreu Club Count: 25 clubs in 10 countries Odd Winners: Dijon (Coupe de France), Hertha Berlin (DFB Pokal)
At this point though it’s fair to say that the competition results are more interesting than the movements of the players. Which is the perfect signal that things need to speed up a little bit. So from now on, updates will be every 5 years, which lines up perfectly with player age resets, letting us see who has made it to the next checkpoint.
Another round of de-ageing hits, and you’d think that would incite some interest in our final 13. Instead, it’s a ghost town. We do have an immediate dropout though, as Nicolas Seube finally gets fed up with his lack of playtime at Caen and heads for Panionios in Greece. A year later the situation is repeated. I’m not entirely sure what his unhappiness was about, but Iker Muniain decides he’s had enough of Athletic Club and moves to Hamburger SV. At least he left on exactly 100 goals for Athletic though, a nice round number. With 11 left, a standoff to reach the top 10 ensues. For 3 years no-one budges in their show of loyalty, until in 2029… Dean Lewington leaves for Derby County on a free. It’s a huge move, with Lewington becoming the first man to break through 1000 league appearances for a single club before leaving. But he’s moved on now, and it won’t be long before that record is broken. That move means we’re left with our final 10 contestants. Terry, Iraola, Messi, Susaeta, Noble, Jourdren, Müller, Kane, Manceau and Bargfrede have secured a top 10 spot, and now all that’s left to do is fight it out for number 1. Over in Brazil, our anti-one-club man continues his journey, although it remains in Brazil for the moment. Only 2 clubs are added to his count, with a long stay at Atletico Goianiense followed by a £2M move to top tier Coritiba. I’m kind of hoping he starts to make enough waves in the Brazilian league to move to Europe and add some new countries to his history. Those that fell before the first de-ageing are retiring, finishing off their magnificent, or in some cases very un-magnificent, careers (as losers). Javi López finishes his fine anti-loyalty tour around Spain with 7 transfers to his name. Schmelzer, Nacho, Solly, Álvarez, Koke, Mario, Prieto, Marchisio, De Rossi, David García, Zurutuza, Knoche, Höfler, Pellissier, Mallo, Horn and Hibbert end their careers. Many, such as Nacho, Horn and De Rossi stay just as committed to their new clubs as they did their old, finishing out their careers after just a single transfer. Of the pensioners, Sergio Pellissier manages to rack up the most career league appearances and goals, at 894 and 246, although that’s largely thanks to a huge head start. De Rossi dominates on the international scene, earning a whopping 197 caps over his 30-year career. Naturally, all those records will be blown out the water once the next group start retiring, but it’s nice to have some benchmarks. Around the world, plenty has gone on worth hearing about. The Netherlands claim their first-ever World Cup win, beating Brazil in the final, whilst in the Euro’s Germany win their second tournament in a row. The Gold Cup throws up a few interesting results too, as first, the Mexico B team win it, with their A team tied up in the Confederations Cup. Then 4 years later Canada take the title, only the second time in their history. Over in Italy, Lazio find themselves relegated as the league starts to shake itself up a bit. But other than that, domestic football remains relatively unspectacular. Oh except… TOTTENHAM WINNING THE LEAGUE. Didn’t even have to reset it and we won it before Arsenal did. North London is very much Lilywhite now, suck it Gooners! Loyal Players Remaining: 10 Abreu Club Count: 27 clubs in 10 countries Odd Winners: Tottenham (Premier League)
Another 5 years pass and to start with it looks like the top 10 are going to hold firm. Eventually though, the temptation of money proves too much for one man. That man is Geoffrey Jourdren who trades in his starting slot at Montpellier for a cosy backup contract at PSG. Then comes… dead silence. Not even a rumour, or an unhappy player. No-one even hints at leaving for the next 4 years, which means we end the period with nine players on the books. The real waiting game has begun. Even our journeyman Abreu is moving in a very slow way, as a five year Coritiba stint finishes with a free transfer to Red Bull Brasil. I think my hopes for a European move have died. At least there are a lot of retirements to run through. Bruno, Lahm, Casillas, Valdés, Danzé, Oier, Xavi, Torres, Perrin, Jantschke, Bergantiños, González, Roberto, Iniesta and Busquets hang up their playing boots. That does leave us without some noted legends, with Lahm, Casillas, Iniesta and Busquets reaching 200 caps for their country. You’d think Spain would have won more with that golden generation. Casillas and Xavi also both hit 1000 league appearances thanks to a strong head start before the experiment. But it’s Andrés Iniesta who is the most loyal of the bunch, racking up nearly 600 appearances for his original club before departing. Five years leaves plenty of time for interesting results once again. England take a World Cup win, which is always a sign of the apocalypse, only made more bizarre by Scotland making the semi-finals in the same competition. Portugal take the other title in that period, whilst the Euros also see a surprise winner in Switzerland. France provides the biggest shock at club level, as Lille come from nowhere to win Ligue 1, and then immediately revert back to mid-table once again. Otherwise, the time belongs to Manchester City. The oil bar… sky blues take 4 out of 5 titles in both the Premier League and Champions League, with all that cash flinging finally paying off. Loyal Players Remaining: 9 Abreu Club Count: 28 clubs in 10 countries Odd Winners: England (World Cup), Lille (Ligue 1)
With just nine players left, once again we get a transfer fairly early on in the period. Early as in the first transfer window, which makes me wonder why they waited so long. Anyway, Mark Noble has had his patience tested by West Ham’s yoyoing between the Premier League and Championship a bit too much and finally caves. He makes a £20M move to Burnley, who… are doing the exact same thing. Not sure that was the brightest idea. Like the previous 5 years though, one transfer is all we get. None of the others move, despite some pretty heavy unhappiness from Bargfrede and Manceau. Abreu keeps up his trail, running out his contract with Red Bull Brasil and opting for Chapecoense to reach 29 clubs in his career. With very few moving recently, that also means less and less are retiring, as just 7 ex-competitors leave the game. Totti, Buffon, Lopes, Kessler, Seube, Muniain and Lewington call time on their football life. The fact they all stuck with it for so long means there’s so impressive stats between them. Totti racked up 1154 league appearances, with 768 at Roma. Dean Lewington, after leaving MK Dons with 1003 appearances finished with a total of 1287. Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon finished with a whopping 1307 league appearances, but perhaps more impressively, 334 international caps. But the single most surprising statistic goes to Thomas Kessler. Despite barely playing in Germany he manages to notch a grand total of 7 goals after his move to Turkey. Maybe if he’d been a striker he’d have actually played at Koln. Oh and Seube ends his career Greek. Because why not. As per every time, a quick look around the world’s results is needed. Spain win back the World Cup titles, whilst Italy take a Euro win. Argentina, Mexico and Australia claim all their continents international trophies in the window, so no massive surprises there. The domestic world isn’t exactly littered with shocks either. Brescia win a Coppa Italia, and Nîmes Olympique grab 4 top 5 finishes in a row in France, but there’s not really much to shout about. I think it’s best to just get on with the next de-ageing. Loyal Players Remaining: 8 Abreu Club Count: 29 clubs in 10 countries Odd Winners: Brescia (Coppa Italia)
Down to 8 now, so it’s getting tougher. And a lot slower, so slow in fact that not a single transfer in our group happens in five years. For a moment I was excited to see Manceau at Recreativo de Huelva, but that was just a loan. So I was back to being crushed. On the plus side, Abreu makes some huge steps. He adds not just 1, but 2 new countries to his history! The first is Portugal, in a huge step up to join Braga. As usual, it’s just until his contract ends, before he moves on to Frankfurt in the Bundesliga. He’s hardly setting Europe alight but I don’t care, he’s actually moving! There’s only one retiree to talk about too, as pretty much everyone has already gone. Geoffrey Jourdren finishes up with 925 total league appearances. It probably could have been a bit more, if he’d not spent 10 years of his career being a backup at PSG and Bayern. On a far more interesting note, Terry breaks through 1500 career league appearances. Kane also hits 256 international goals, which results in the number resetting to 0 just like caps. So the game has him on 96 caps with 11 goals, when the actual numbers are a stunning 352 caps with 267 goals. Having seen my disappointment last time around, the world decides to liven things up. Denmark become both Champions of the World and Champions of Europe in 2042 and 2040, although they lose the European title to Germany 4 years later. At the continental level, the Champions League stays on track, but the Europa League brings some bizarre winners into the mix. Nîmes Olympique, Real Sociedad, Leicester and Bristol City all win a trophy. It seems Mark Noble finally made a right move transferring to Bristol City, as the club is now a strong top 6 Premier League side. Manceau wins a Coupe de France at Angers, but it’s still Nîmes making waves, forming a big three with PSG and Monaco. It may not be long before either Nîmes or Bristol City win their league, which is not something I expected to be saying. Loyal Players Remaining: 8 Abreu Club Count: 31 clubs in 12 countries Odd Winners: Nîmes Olympique/Bristol City (Europa League), Angers (Coupe de France)
2045 kicks off and once again Manceau deceives me. This time it’s a loan spell in Denmark with Brøndby that had me thinking he was gone. Well you know what they say, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice… I’m probably gonna fall for it. It looks like there’s going to be no moves whatsoever once again, until June 2047 arrives and I notice a contract is set to expire. Imagine my shock when Lionel Messi is not offered a contract by Barcelona and is let go. It’s made doubly worse by the fact that of all teams to pick him up, it's Atletico Madrid. Apparently, 37 Ballon d’Or awards aren’t good enough for Barcelona anymore. I don’t even care that nothing else happens. That’s enough to stun me. Over in the retirement home, Mark Noble moves into a room. After an up and down career, the Englishman did manage some silverware with Bristol City and ended his career with 1317 league appearances. He even earned not just 1, but 90 England caps across his 44-year career. Around the world, interesting results are still cropping up. England grab their third World Cup win beating Colombia, whilst Honduras win their first-ever Gold Cup. Much to my bitter disappointment, Arsenal win 4 of the 5 Champions Leagues on offer, as well as 3 Premier League titles. Chelsea have a period of bottom 10 finishes which deeply upsets Terry, whilst over in France, Chamois Niortais begin to try and join the top 3. Don’t worry I’ve never heard of them either. Loyal Players Remaining: 7 Abreu Club Count: 32 clubs in 12 countries Odd Winners: Honduras (Gold Cup)
With the world still reeling at the fact the Messi has moved from Barcelona, everyone kinda forgets to make any moves. In fact, Messi is the first person to move yet again, leaving Atletico in a very cheap 34.5M move to Man City. Which is more in line with where I originally expected him to go. Abreu finishes one contract, at Hapoel Be’er Sheva, and moves onto the next, but it’s with Monterrey so doesn’t count. Sebastian, it has to be new clubs. John Terry is starting to get frustrated with a Chelsea team that has really fallen from grace. The Londoners barely survive relegation in 2052/53, so Terry may be the next to go. Or maybe I know nothing and it’s completely random. No-one retires this year, so let’s take a brief look at some statistics of our remaining 7 + Messi. All our players have now reached 1000 appearances, with Bargfrede in last at 1173. Messi has crossed 1000 league goals, now a full 300 clear of the chasing pack of Abreu and Kane. On the international level, Thomas Müller becomes the first player to need a rollover of caps twice, moving on to a massive 524 international caps. But it’s Kane who still leads the international goal stat, nearly breaking 350, a full 50 ahead of the German. Müller does, however, grab a World Cup win for Germany so I’m sure he won’t be too upset. At least until they’re deposed by Holland 4 years later. On the continental level, Bristol City win another Europa League title beating previous champions Espanyol. Middlesbrough also nearly earn a trophy, having joined Bristol as a top 6 team. But the winner of the biggest shock, although I did say this might happen, goes to Chamois Niortais, who topple the dominance of PSG and Monaco to capture a miraculous Ligue 1 title in the last season of the period. Loyal Players Remaining: 7 Abreu Club Count: 32 clubs in 12 countries Odd Winners: Chamois Niortais (Ligue 1), Bristol City/Espanyol (Europa League)
The summer window of 2055 opens and as I warned may happen, there’s an almost immediate transfer. Fed up with Chelsea’s mediocre finishes, John Terry decides to move on. Unfortunately for Chelsea fans, Arsenal is his next club, which I’m sure will cause a few shudders. A year later and another move comes around, once again due to unhappiness over the club’s performance. Surprisingly it's Thomas Müller,who's annoyed by the fact that Bayern haven’t won a Bundesliga title since 2048, and so runs down his contract. Leverkusen almost earn his signature, but eventually its the glory of PSG that proves too much to resist. But we’re not done there! Another player runs down their contract, opting to move to Vitoria de Setubal in Portugal. Vincent Manceau finally makes a real move rather than constantly faking me out. So with another 3 players down, we’re left with our final 4. The race for the top 3 is hotting up now! We do have a retirement this time thanks to the transfer window livening up. The world's best-ever player, Lionel Messi, retires from football. He ends up on a total of 1858 league appearances, scoring a massive 1068 goals in this time. 1430 appearances and 895 goals of those belonging to his 45-year career at Barcelona. On the international scene, he earned an impressive 505 caps and 276 goals. But it’s the awards where he shines. 279 individual awards, 82 team titles, 22 league titles, 6 Champions League titles, 45 Ballon d’Or awards. What makes it even crazier is 41 of those Ballon d’Or awards were in a row, as he earned every single one from 2015 to 2056. I don’t think I’ll see another player like that crop up in any save, truly the world’s best player. Looking out on the world, I can say that it’s a Chamois Niortais player that breaks Messi’s streak, as the French team claim another two Ligue 1 titles. It’s hard to say they’re a “surprise winner” at this point. Bristol City finally make the full step up to join the big guns, winning 3 Carabao Cups, 1 FA Cup, 2 Premier League titles and even a Champions League trophy. If any Bristol City fans want this save to give themselves hope over the future, I can send it over. Internationally it's the era of Portugal, as they claim both the Euro and World Cup trophies. Loyal Players Remaining: 4 Abreu Club Count: 32 clubs in 12 countries Odd Winners: Bristol City (Premier League/Champions League), Lyon (Relegation)
With so few players left, now is probably a good time to speed it up once again. The final four will be tough to budge, so how about we move to 10-year intervals to try and cut down on dead years. And I'll be moving to the comments, because I've hit reddits character limit.
I had more than enough time to regret my decision of forcing a visit to the 'farms'. When I first saw the vehicle that would take us there I even suspected some sort of foul play on Ziv's part. Maybe my 'thoroughness' had rankled her more than she let on, and she had decided to expedite whatever plans they certainly had for getting rid of me for good. Because that thing, that incredibly noisy flying contraption made out of spinning blades and bare metal that the Cienalorians called a 'rotocopter' looked more like a deathly trap than any sort of civilized means of transportation. I bet nobody would bat an eye at the Tribunal Ship if they found my broken dead body in a wreck somewhere, littered among the hundred pieces of the machine. It would almost be the expected result of flying around in something like that. It had been Ziv's enthusiasm that had convinced me to go ahead, oddly enough, because she had eagerly climbed aboard and spent the entire trip to the prison camps looking out her tinted window at the arid landscape with childlike glee. Or what I imagined childlike glee would look like on a human-sized desert lizard, at any rate. It had eased my suspicions a notch. Either her acting was just that stellar, or the vehicle was safe enough that she didn't worry. There was the third possibility that she was some sort of alien version of a reckless daredevil, but I tried to put that idea out of my mind. Still, I was almost glad when we finally landed and I could step out of the contraption and onto firm terrain, even if that meant having to brave again Cienalori's hostile atmosphere and its murderous sun. I had seen the pictures in the case files, of course, but the farms were more impressive in person than I had imagined. The hangar sized buildings towered over us, and their striking white presence contrasted with the absolute nothingness that surrounded us. With the barren plains that extended as far as the eye could see. I followed my chaperone into the closest hangar, the door a camouflaged opening I would have never found on my own, its size minuscule in contrast with the colossal structure itself. We entered, and passed through a couple of security checks manned by alien guards. I paused. Chief Prosecutor Olva had taken pictures of the inside during her own visit, so I knew what I was supposed to find. Rows upon rows of minuscule prison cells, stacked on top of each other. Squalid living conditions, darkness and pestilence. Hundreds of political prisoners ambling around in a daze brought by the lack of food and rest, some already dead in their cells, covered in insects. I had been bracing myself just for that. So I felt shocked when that wasn't what I found. The inside of the hangar was a... a garden, would be the best way to describe it. A tropical garden. Massively tall trees rose all the way to the top of the building, far above our heads, their thin branches sporting long purple leaves. The outer walls were covered in a thick foliage of vines and creepers that bore some sort of deep blue fruits. All of it bathed in the sunlight coming from the open skylights. It was humid. So humid that I could feel droplets of water start to condense on my skin, that I could simply turn off my respiratory humidifier for the first time since I had stepped out of the shuttle. And here and there, an army of Cienalorians -third class, judging by their garments- worked hard, trimming vines with nasty looking shears, plucking fruits into baskets that hung from a complicated structure of crossing rails that covered the entire... well, the entire 'farm'. Because that was what this looked like. A farm. Ziv walked past me, seeing as I had paused in shock, my mouth agape. She walked up to the closest basket, grabbed one of the smooth spherical fruits and took a bite. She turned and smiled at me with that shit-eating grin of hers, her pointed teeth covered in blue fluid. Then, she threw me the fruit. I reacted fast enough to catch it mid-air, barely managing to prevent it from hitting the ground. "The executioner should try it," she said. "It is fresh produce." I looked at the half eaten fruit, considering it for a moment while the juice ran down my fingers. Ziv had already taken away a large chunk of it with her single bite. Yeah, eating some sort of random alien food wasn't that smart. Not that I couldn't, just like most humans I had received my genetic enhancement therapy back when I was a toddler, so I could easily digest all but the most extreme foods in the known ecosystems. And my vaccine-cocktail should be more than enough to take care of any nasty parasites or viruses. The only question was... well, whether or not it was laced with some sort of poison. I glanced at the alien. She was looking at me with some sort of curiously mischievous expression, as if this was just her poking my ribs for a reaction. It reminded me of our little staring contest the day before. I shrugged, and took a bite. I had expected a sweet flavor but the fruit was... sort of bitter. Not too bad, actually. At least it was refreshing, the watery juice softening my throat. I finished eating it under Ziv's unblinking gaze, then turned to speak to her. "Okay," I said. "That's one. Let's go to the next hangar, I wish to visit them all." She seemed put off by that. "The executioner must not know there are fifty hangars," she said. "Certainly she wouldn't want to spend here all day, no?" I shrugged. "We better get started then." Because I had figured their trick. They couldn't have converted the prison building from Olva's pictures into an authentic farm in the short two weeks since her visit, which meant Ziv here was trying to dupe me. Chances were, only some of all the hangar buildings in the entire compound would host prison cells. The rest, like the one we were at right now, would be there to put any investigation off the scent. Plausible deniability and all that. But as the day progressed and my search refused to yield results, I started to grow frustrated. Building after building I only found more greenhouses, plantations, trees and vines, food storage coolers, water purifiers and solar generators. The closest to a prison I had seen were the workers' barracks and their communal rooms filled with rows of crude bunk beds. But I supposed their conditions wouldn't be that different from what former third class citizens had to endure anywhere else on the planet. Maybe even at my own guest residence. So hours later, by the time we entered the last hangar and I saw it simply contained water tanks and fertilizer depots I turned to face Ziv, my face flush with repressed anger. "So where are they?" I asked. "The prisoners. I know this is listed as an internment facility." "They are everywhere," she replied in a terse tone, pointing at the nearest worker. It seemed like the day's exhaustion was taking a toll on her composure too. "That's what I've been trying to tell the executioner. All day." That made some sort of sense, at least. I had assumed these were paid workers -third class citizens-, but maybe I had been wrong and they were prisoners. Justice knew they all looked the same. "So you're using forced labor, uh?" I said, my voice taking a stern tone. "Chief Prosecutor Olva was right, you do have prison camps!" "Prison camps?" she replied, her eyes narrowing. "And that gives the executioner an excuse to judge us?! The humans have prison moons!" "That's not-!" "This is what makes them so despicable!" She seemed to be on a tirade now, all politeness lost. Her clawed hands gesticulating in angry, dangerous clipped motions. "All this pretense at being righteous. All these procedures and waste of time! When in truth they are not different from the Phagocyte Swarm. Conquering worlds! Enslaving species!" I snorted in a most undignified way, starting to lose my cool as well. "Would you rather have a Phagocyte Hive in orbit, Ziv? Because that could be helped." She advanced towards me, her jaw clenched, her teeth vicious. "At least they are honest with themselves." "Honesty?!" I shook my head, then opened my noteglass to Olva's hellish pictures and turned it to show the alien, protocols be damned. "You want honesty? So what about this?" She reeled at the image, taking a step back, her eyes wide open in surprise. Then she squinted, tilting her head and looking closer at the noteglass with her slit eyes. "Those aren't real," she said after a few seconds. That... was not the reaction I had expected. "What?" "One more human fabrication, no?" her words seethed with venom. I took a deep breath. Right. It was a secret extermination camp, so it wasn't surprising they would have kept even Ziv in the dark. Of course she would instinctively reject the evidence when presented. "I can assure you Ziv, they are real. These pictures were taken by former Chief Prosecutor Olva Yang during her own visit here, a few weeks ago. I don't know how they did to hide the evidence this fast, but-" "Lies," she hissed. "I was there. I escorted the dead executioner to this farm, just like I'm escorting the new one. She lied, that's why we had to-" she cut herself, then took a bite at the air in between us in some sort of alien gesture I didn't recognize. "All these human lies and fabrications!" My mouth went dry. It didn't make sense, of course. Ziv was either wrong or outright lying. Or maybe, maybe she was a better actress than I had given her credit for. A Chief Prosecutor of the Human Judiciary lying? Forging evidence? It was ludicrous. It was impossible. And yet... Shit. I didn't know. The way the Cienalorian had described us humans was ridiculous, and nothing I hadn't heard before. The same propaganda and slander that condemned tyrant species always liked to put forward, trying to badmouth us in an effort to cover for their own sins. The very concept that the Human Judiciary was some sort of expansionist empire, conquering star systems left and right was so outlandish it didn't even bear consideration. But I knew well that not every single human was a paragon of virtue, didn't I? Still, Olva Yang wasn't... hadn't been just any human. She had been an authority unto herself, so the idea that she had been... what? Fabricating evidence? No. It couldn't be. And yet... I shook my head. I needed to think about this, and I just couldn't do it in the middle of this farm, my body exhausted and sweating. "Let's head back to the residence. I've got enough of this," I said to my chaperone, who was watching me now with a curious expression. She gave me a nod, then raised her arm up to her face and spoke a few alien words into the communications device strapped to her wrist. "We will need to wait," she said. "The rotocopter's engine has overheated, and must be cooled before it can take flight." "To the hells with that thing! Let's just use a damn car." I pretended not to notice her crestfallen expression.
By the time I reached the cozy, comfortable chambers of my suite room at the residence my body was begging for a release. I had never been of an athletic constitution, and had only visited the gymnasium aboard the Tribunal Ship on a couple of occasions -and only because my crush at the time liked to exercise there. The day excursion, coupled with the lack of sleep ever since that fateful session at the Central Courtroom had left me more exhausted than I had realized. But I simply couldn't go to sleep yet. Not only because I knew I would just trash around if I tried to sleep now, but also because of that sense of ingrained professionalism screaming in my head that I had to figure out what was going on. That I had to fix this. So I walked up to the boiler of strange design on the little counter next to the main door, and after some tries managed to get it working and heating some water. Then I rummaged through the suitcase containing my personal travel items and produced a little bag of Aarcaxian brown tea. Five minutes later, I plopped down on the chair behind the limestone desk of my temporary office, a steaming mug in my hand. I opened my noteglass on the desk's cold surface, and set to work. I started by gathering all the documents the former Chief Prosecutor had redacted for the case and placing them on the left area of the holo-screen; then I connected the noteglass to my own office at the Tribunal Ship and asked its computers to send me all the requisition forms and other bureaucratic minutiae that I knew I had mindlessly processed over my last days up there. Those I placed on the right side. Then, I started connecting the dots. Tracing back each piece of documentation in the case to the trail of notes, invoices and official records that each and every movement of an Agent of the Judiciary on an alien planet always generated. With all that, I started to reconstruct Olva Yang's schedule over the weeks prior to her murder, methodically noting each day, hour and activity in the spreadsheet that floated at the center of my workspace. Now, this is what I was good at. Seeing the patterns, looking at the details. A desk covered in documents, a cup of tea, and me simply doing the work. Line by line and paragraph by paragraph. Marking words, making notes, looking through the office's archives. It reminded me of a time when I was younger, pulling all-nighters to study and prepare for the upcoming public examinations. Dreaming of receiving the acceptance letter, the coveted token that would allow me to join a Tribunal Ship. To become a small part of the greatest force for good that existed in the cosmos. And little by little, the yarn started to unravel: here was Olva's first arrival to Cienalori; there was Ziv's profile, vetted long before being accepted as a chaperone; here was a visit to the planetary congress; there a conversation with the Third Class citizens representative. And little by little, a picture started emerging: here was a single two hours short visit to the farm; there a claim of having visited three times, backed by... nothing. Here a picture of emaciated prisoners; there... nothing. I sighed and closed my eyes, resting my head on my hands. I rubbed my forehead with my fingers. She had lied. It was inescapable. Impossible to consider, and yet the only truth. Olva Yang had tried to build a false case, forging evidence in the process. It was not only a crime, but somehow even more of a heresy than the Cienalorian's own sin of murdering a human prosecutor. It was much more an insult. A gob of spit dripping down the face of Lady Justice. I clenched my jaw, my teeth hurting. If it was true -and it was, I had to remind myself- Olva Yang had deserved much worse than a geodesic. She had deserved much worse than dying drowning in her own blood, torn to pieces by the sharp finger claws of a Cienalorian. She had deserved- "Fuck!" I said, leaving the chair. I started pacing around the room and trying to cool myself down. Trying not to think of the betrayal. The monstrous, impossible betrayal. "Fuck!" I repeated, louder this time. I needed air. I needed, something. Anything. I walked up to the tinted glass door behind the desk, fought a bit with the odd handle until I figured out how it worked, then opened it. I burst out to the terrace and was greeted by the now familiar blinding glare and wall of boiling hot air to the face. It didn't matter. It still helped me center myself. And if anything, it was more tolerable now that the sun was finally setting down. The sky starting to gain a deep, hazy orange tone. I noticed there was a thin vertical column of white smoke floating in the distance, splitting the landscape in two. It rose from the land beyond the furthest city buildings, curving slowly to become horizontal far above the sparse clouds. Uh... some sort of rocket, perhaps? I ignored it, I had more important things in my mind. Such as: what to do about my revelation. I needed to tell someone else, of course. The question was: who? Protocols said I should report it to my boss, who technically still was Roman Kaul. But if Olva had been corrupt, then I couldn't trust that he wouldn't- Wait. Was this why he'd been that cold towards me back on the ship? Did he know? Did he anticipate me finding out about it? Yeah, I couldn't be sure, but trusting Kaul didn't feel like the best idea. But who else if not him? Maybe I could send a message to the Defender's Office, they were supposed to... well, defend the Cienalorians after all. Or maybe I could cut straight through the red tape and send a direct message to High Justice Tudenis. I was the Prosecutor after all, so my communications to him wouldn't be filtered out now. And I knew I could trust him, because if I couldn't... well, then what was the point, really. I was thinking about all that when I heard it. An approaching, annoying chopping sound breaking over the soft traffic noises of the city. I glanced to my right and saw the black silhouette of the rotocopter, skimming over the top of the city houses on its way back to the residence compound. Strangely, I saw the two missiles on top the compound's air defense turret weren't looking at the sky anymore. Someone was rotating them now, aiming them at... The world filled with noise as one the missiles leaped out of the turret, flying like a demon towards the approaching rotocopter and leaving a trail of fire and smoke in its wake. It covered the distance faster than I could understand what was happening. I felt the heat of the explosion that followed on my exposed skin, its shockwave arriving a fraction of a second later and rattling my bones, shattering the tinted glass of the door behind me. Pieces of scorched metal rained on the streets, fragments of the still spinning blades crashing against the domed ceilings of the houses below. I took a step back, crunching shards of glass under my foot. And... I had been supposed to be on that flight, hadn't I? If I had decided to wait, rather than take a car back. I gulped and looked at the other missile remaining on the tower, fully expecting it to turn towards the terrace I was on, towards the building itself, but it seemed they hadn't noticed their mistake yet: That I hadn’t been on the flying vehicle. That I was still alive. And with a disturbing sense of foreboding, I turned, whirling around in search of that distant thin vertical column of smoke I had seen earlier. That... rocket. They wouldn't have dared, would they? Nobody would ever cross that line. Right? I found it fast enough, and my eyes followed its path, curving upwards towards the horizon. Towards the... The Tribunal Ship. They had dared. Somehow, I had missed the flash. The detonation itself. But the effects were clear. The ship had survived, of course. A Tribunal Ship was not an easy target to bring down to its knees. The golden wedge was still there, but there was an enormous dark gash on its side. A bleeding black wound, spilling a cloud of gas and enormous fragments of debris and metal, entire chunks of the city-sized spacecraft that were slowly drifting away from the ship and falling to the surface of the planet, leaving faint trails of fire as they crossed and burned in the atmosphere. It was crazy. It was pure madness. Not since the Third Jurisdictional War, more than two centuries ago, had a species gone so far as to attack a Tribunal Ship of the Human Judiciary. And even then they had only done so as part of the wider uprising of a coalition of worlds. For the Cienalorians to do this on their own, it was... it was suicide. The retribution alone... Oh, shit. I had to get off this planet. I ran back inside, put on my jacket and grabbed my noteglass. I had enough presence of mind as to save all the documents I'd been working with before into a data package, write a two sentences long explanatory note, and send the entire thing to High Justice Tudenis. That way at least I could be reasonably sure there would be some sort of investigation into Olva's antics, whatever happened to me. I was about to contact Taddeo to set up a rendezvous point with the shuttle when I heard the commotion. People shouting, screams, and the reverberating detonations of fire weapons being discharged, all echoing through the corridors and rooms beyond my chambers' closed door. I stopped on my tracks. Yeah, the door was a no-go. But maybe I could try climbing down the terrace or something? I started to turn, but before I could have tried anything the door to my suite opened and Ziv walked into the room. She had a slight limp, and her fancy armor-like garments were crumpled, stained and covered in dirt. She held a boxy projectile gun aimed straight at my head. The claws in her left hand were drenched in blood, red droplets dripping to the floor. Three more armed Cienalorians soon followed her, bursting into my chambers and covering the corners and blind spots with cool, military efficiency. "The executioner will get ready," she said, her tone displaying none of the annoying smirks from before, just anger now. "She will come with us."
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[Fantasy World Epsilon 30-10] - 4.1 The Morning After
Start|Previous|Next Keya awoke still in her seat. Brilliant light streamed in through the windows, and the idyllic greens, oranges, and blues of the landscape below resembled a bejewelled rug below the transparent floor. Keya gasped again recalling where she was. The fantasy continues. “Morning, Goldilocks!” Jon sat cross-legged upon the circular window cradling a large bowl of porridge. He spoke between mouthfuls. “I’ll serve ya some mielie pap now-now. How d’you sleep?” He ate from a flawlessly formed glass bowl: not a single bubble or crack in its lustre. The container held a creamy white mush, perhaps like flour but with a rougher grain. It steamed succulent and buttery sweet in the cabin. “Huh?” Her mind was not yet wholly present. “Yeah, aeroplane seats: not ideal. Took the liberty of reclining it, removed your boots, and gave you that blanket. I considered moving you to your bed, but that’d be kinda weird. I ain’t your daddy, and here was safe enough.” That explained some discontinuities, but she was far from trusting all her senses just yet. “Death or dream? Death or dream?” She mumbled to herself still half-conscious, her eyes drifting across the land below. “What was that?” “I am contemplating my reality, Master.” “First thing in the morning? As good a time as any I s'pose. Got you presents!” He scooped another mouthful and gestured to items with his silver spoon. The man insisted it was just steel that did not rust. Whether that was more or less valuable than silver, she was unsure. Strewn on the deck between them were three bundles. Keya fumbled with the seat belt and eventually extricated herself. She had no idea how to right the chair vertically so instead moved to an adjacent seat. Shaking herself, she tried to compose her mind. Thoughts and visions from the night before had stirred up many things within her. Even now she felt the once tranquil steam of her mind was muddled. Her thinking felt murky as if the silt had yet to resettle. Sleep had made her thoughts a degree more limpid, so she pushed on to articulate concerns she wished to air. Opening her mouth, she stopped. The elevation was wrong. Jon looked for all the world like a child staring up at his mother, as she recounted a fireside tale. Even supplication and deference toward this man was a daily struggle! She slid from her seat into a formal kneel. At the very least his casual demeanour indicated his station if elevation could not. “Master, there is something I must clarify. Next to your sagacity, I may seem foolish, but I suppose that hardly matters. You let me into your home, provide food, clothes, and lodging, and now this. Whatever these gifts are, I am sure they are priceless treasures that I could never hope to repay. Already, I am indebted beyond comprehension.” Stopping to form the question better, she gazed upon the miracle of flight before her eyes. “What am I to you?” “You’re…” Shovelling another spoonful, he pensively chewed. “This treatment you give a stranger… I am but a simple village maid. Either I am to be your indentured servant or concubine, which is it?” “Fuuck, those are my options?” “I am serious, Kel-sun! Debts must be paid, that is the law of the land. I am a penniless peasant. I cannot hope to repay the wealth you have bestowed upon me. These clothes and boots alone are worth a year’s wages, so I must know! What is the price?” Master furrowed his brow; it appeared he grasped the gravity of her quandary. “I see your issue: The golden rule—reciprocity. You fear you're making a bargain you are not aware of. I get it.” “Yes, I wish to know the full extent of the payment you will demand from me. However horrid a price, I might still pay it. The unimaginable wonders I have been privy to thus far, I—many would pay with blood, gold, and their lives just to behold a faction of it.” She found his sea-blue eyes and burrowed her stare into them. “What is the price? What is your price?” “Jesus! It’s like nine a.m., and we’re already talking about fucking sex-slaves. You don’t let up, do you!” He broke her stare and rocked back another spoonful in his mouth. “Fine, let’s talk shop.” His expression went hard. “My world has stringent rules against slavery of any kind. We abolished it a few hundred years ago. If you wanna talk taboo, that’s very fucking taboo. All people have inalienable rights, and that definitely extends to you. Meaning our world grants each person privileges from birth that no government, kingdom, or court of law can strip them of. Are you with me so far?” It sounded impossible to believe. “If I catch your meaning, slavery is unlawful in your land?” Keya said. “Yeah, pretty much. So point one, you ain’t paying with your body or your life. In fact, access to clean drinking water, food, electricity, sanitation, Internet, and shelter are all human rights. I’m not treating you special. If a guest came over to stay at my house, I would give them the same. Be they kings, paupers, or prisoners. “You have no point of reference for the world I come from so you’d probably think it unbelievable.” She vigorously nodded. “You see these things around you and think: ‘This is amazing. I am blessed.’ I see all the things your world lacks compared to mine and think: ‘This is tragic.’ I am not here to give you a life of comfortable servitude. I am the vanguard and emissary of the greater universe. The endgame here involves elevating your entire world, every man, woman, and child, maybe even goblin, to this!” Arms outstretched, he swept across everything around them. “That is a foolish errand! They will knife you in your sleep and steal it before you can give it away.” “Don’t you worry. We know our darker natures well. History has countless wars and tragedies to draw wisdom from. Frankly, we're better at being bad than you; it just doesn’t pay in the long run. Much in the same way being good all the time doesn’t pay either.” He gazed out the windows beyond her. “Now you know some of the ‘why.’ The ‘how’ will become more evident in time, or more correctly ‘if.’ “That’s where you and I come in. You see the gates to my world are sealed shut. I step through to judge the lay of the land, and if your world is deemed amenable, then the doors are opened, and we establish treaties and trade. If not…” He made a thumbs down gesture, spoon still in hand, “condemnation. Your world is sealed off, maybe for a long time, maybe forever. “So what does all of this mean to you? Well, your riches are meaningless to us, there are entire worlds we could mine bare of gold, silver and a myriad of other metals you’ve never even heard of. We have whole planets dedicated to agriculture and husbandry. Your kingdoms are trivial, their armies insignificant. We want what is irreplaceable, and what do you think that is?” “If you speak truly, then I cannot even begin to imagine.” This new side to Master was terrifying; there was an abyssal depth in his eyes. Such a massive empire beggared belief. “How much do you think a single map of your planet would go for?” Twirling a finger. “Kingdoms would…” And then the pieces started to fall in place. “Ja, a king’s ransom, right? Who do you suppose helped me put our current map into perspective only yesterday?” “A minuscule contribution!” “An irreplaceable one. I could’ve mapped for months before I knew where I was. Next, how much do you think a bestiary of local fauna and flora would go for? How about knowledge of dragons? What about culture and history? Data, knowledge, and understanding: non-fungible resources.” He enumerated on his fingers. “Anyone could have given you this information!” “No, not just anyone. What we need, what I needed, was someone. And that someone is you! The one who chose the red pill, the one who survived goblins, direwolves and the death of their only family. Someone who stepped forth through a strange gateway with a strange man. We have a saying perhaps you know it: ‘Knowledge is power,’ and as such it’s valuable. “The truth is Keya you don’t owe me anything, and you never will. Save for the burdens and debts you choose; you are free. If anything I may owe you. But if you care about debt…” He levelled his eyes at her “…you owe it to this world so that other young boys and girls might eventually see the wonders you have. That is your burden should you choose to shoulder it, or cast it aside.” He looked down at his bowl. “Damn it, the porridge is cold, one sec I’ll go microwave it.” She stopped him before he made it through the silver ring. “Do you swear upon the Gods this is true?” “I don’t believe in any gods, so take it for what it’s worth, but yes I swear it’s the truth. On my honour, I swear you will be adequately compensated for your work. You are a diver like me now; we are equal. Oh, and have this…” He walked back, pulling a small polished card from his pocket. “You are officially recognised as a citizen of the 37-72 branch and are granted the formal title of Diver in Training.” She saw the same little painting of her in one corner and various numbers and words on the rest of the polished card, including her full name. She was born on the full moon of Yen in late spring, so the birth date was indiscernable, but she had the measure of it. “You would grant me citizenship already!” “Of course, but this also serves as proof. Look, here’s mine.” He withdrew his card of identic artifice, more worn with time. “Your rights under the multiverse constitution are assured.” Keya slowly found her seat as Jon attended to his errand. She beheld the card and the promise it stood for, contemplating all their deliberations. Perhaps a lie, but it was a weak one. Something easy to test, and hadn’t Master told never to trust completely. To always doubt and take knowledge as provisional. So she would do just that. If she were a kept woman rather than his equal, and free, then he would be unwilling to grant specific requests. There was unlikely to be any decadence beyond his grasp, and she was, after all, an unsophisticated village girl. Such demands would tell her little of the man. No, what he would not do, or would not risk is take her to where he might be powerless, and she could leave of her own accord. With that in mind, she formed a plan. On his return, she felt far greater certitude and began her gambit. He resumed his cross-legged seating on the floor, the ‘gifts’ still untouched. “So, can I start prezzie time now?” “Master, I have a request?” She knelt before him again. “Shoot.” He shovelled more porridge. “I assume from your tone, that is an affirmative?” Nonchalant nods returned. “I would implore you to take me to my homeland and the city of Elgelica. It is across the Elgen Channel; I assume in this flying ship such a voyage is easily chartable?” “Awesome, a destination. We’ve been idling around since lift-off, with you asleep n’ all. You identified it on the map yesterday, right? Elves in London! That’ll be a sight. Evy, set our course for place-marker Elgelica, full speed ahead.” “Destination set to Elgelica. ETA 3 hours 20 minutes” Came the familiar impassive female voice from the ship. “You were waiting for me to set our bearing? Wait? Did the elemental just say three hours!” “Uh, which question you want answered first?” Jon was scrapping his bowl clean, the clink of his silverware rang about the cabin. “That is unthinkably fast, even on horseback!” “It will be instant when we have a rift set up there. Still, I get your drift. Flight is super convenient, even slow flight like this.” And he has the gall to call it slow! The barrels attached to the outside made more noise. They pointed lengthwise rather than up compared to the previous eve. Outside, the hull was also unmistakably pale blue, instead of black or white. Jon continued. “No mountains, rivers or forests in the way, you can just make a bee-line,” he paused. “Ya know, I never understood that phrase, bees don’t fly straight.” “Why is the ship a different colour every time I look? Gods, am I crazed?” “Hmm, about that, we’re 6k up but still pretty easy to see given our size. So, the ship’s surface is covered with a thin film of e-ink. It does black, white, and blue plus every shade in between. If you’re looking you might find us, but the sky is big and who looks up much anyway. Tinted windows take care of cabin light at night. As I said, this thing mitigates a lot of risks. Worth every gram of gold I paid. Well, it’s almost paid.” Keya asked. “So to be clear, I am in an invisible, flying ship, moving as the crow flies, faster than the wind, toward Elgelica. Furthermore, we will reach my ancestral home before lunch?” Master looked at his wrist, glinting with a bejewelled bracelet she had not seen before. “A little after lunch.” Well, it appeared her tests would proceed more rapidly than anticipated. No matter, if this ship indeed flew and she wasn’t confounded by magic then stepping foot in Elgelica would put many uncertainties to rest. “Very well, Master, show me what gifts you’ve brought.” “We’ve been over this ‘Master’ thing, haven’t we?” He placed his bowl on a seat and mercifully found one himself. “I shall call you what I like in private company, ‘Master’.” This too was a test. “Savage!” Rang Lee’s voice in the ship. “Lee, you keep this quiet you hear me!” “Oh, my lips are sealed ‘Master’!” His cackle bellowed, before abruptly being cut short. “You see. This is why we can’t have nice things. Your loudspeaker privileges are revoked!” “Shall that be a problem, Master?” Jon focused back on her. “Fuck, fine, call me what you like. But if we’re incognito planet-side, then I’ll be depending on your subtlety. Is that fair?” “Quite.” “Okie dokie,” He rubbed his hands together “Prezzie time!” Reaching for the first package, it, like all the bundles, was wrapped in a thin translucent sack. A fabric she recalled first seeing in the larder, one of the multitudinous things she had never seen before meeting him. Doubtless, there would be endless more. It shimmered and crinkled in her hand, both flimsy to handle but hard to tear. “Open it,” said Master. She found the opening and pulled the bundle out. They were multiple sets of identical grey and black clothing to be sure, but the shape of two rounded cups on each set left little to the imagination. “Oh, Master, it appears a concubine was not far off the mark!” Did he wish she dance for him in these? Though she had to admit they did look as though they could be quite comfortable. “Please for the love of all that is good and holy do not use ‘master’ and ‘concubine’ in the same goddamn sentence. They’re sports bras with matching underwear. Evy got your size with the medical body scans. Had I known you’d pull this sex-slave crap with me; I might’ve let you go rough rider for a while longer.” He glanced down and shook his head. “To be clear, you wear this UNDER your clothes, and if you decide to dance half-naked outside your room, it’s totally on you. Also please give me fair warning so I can GTFO.” “Is that an invitation?” The gift was somewhat puzzling and did not strengthen his case, and yet he had proceeded regardless. “Consent works both ways, Ms Ces. You ask for my permission, and I’ll ask for yours. But walk round base in your birthday suit, and I’m not shielding my eyes. FYI aside from the ears, there’s nothing I haven’t seen. Gesturing with the spoon. Plus, I’ll bet you dance like a turkey.” “A turkey?” Keya asked. “A big chicken.” “You horrible man!” “Uh-uh, just try them on, show me nothing, and thank me later. Honestly, it’s like no good deed goes unpunished with you. Not another peep and tell me when you want to order more; then I’ll know I’ve won.” Keya smiled mischievously but refrained from teasing him more. Clothes were clothes after all, and with all the fabrics she had felt thus far she was quite curious. “Well then thank you, Master, for your… thoughtful gift. What else do you have for me?” “Thank fuck that’s over, here.” He unceremoniously pulled an item from a bigger sack. Though the colours and materials were unique, the shape was unmistakable. She eagerly stood to receive it. “This is a bow!” “Yeah, a recurve bow to be precise. Give it a pull; let’s see if the draw strength is alright.” Pulling the string, she found it to be a little stiff, but she would grow into it. “Remarkable Master! It is just right I think, and the workmanship, as with all your wares, is sublime.” She had seen many things new, but having a tool she understood from his world truly helped her grasp the height of their technical prowess. Her old longbow quailed compared to this. It’s smooth contours perfectly matched her grip, and an unmistakable notch belied where the arrow would rest. A smile of rising excitement revealed her desire to test it as soon as she could. “You can give it a spin on the test range later, along with…” He pulled another thing from the large sack. “…this.” She felt her eyes widen and almost dropped the first prize. Doubtless, the order was intentional. Had he not shown the recurve bow first, she might not have realised what it was. “It is also a bow, yes?” “Very good, it’s a modern bow from my world. Recurves you might see here and there in your world; of course, our material science and fabrication is more advanced. But this is a compound bow; your world has likely never seen anything like it!” Before her eyes was a matte black frame of exquisite intricacy. It floated in her hands lighter than any wood, with crisscrossing beams and cross-woven gut in ways that were not readily apparent. She felt herself almost unconsciously clasping the handle nestled in her left palm. The other bow was lain on a nearby seat practically forgotten. Pulling the string, it strained at first before slackening substantially at an extremely long full draw. She found herself appreciating the completely unobstructed path and placement for the arrow; the shaft would not wobble and flex in flight. Her eyes naturally sighted through a circular instrument with oddly luminous pins, sophisticated yet elegant. Any elf would intuitively understand the perfected craft of this bow. In the Fair Folk’s hands, with their eyes, this artefact would make every shot flawless. She almost forgot she was still drawing back. At a whim, she extended her earth sense through it. More intricately bound and fastened parts than even sight could not manage, revealed themselves to her. “This… is art,” came her breathless response. “That good, huh?” “You don’t understand, Master. To elves, a gifted bow is a right of passage, usually from elder to child—a propitious and sacred event. Ralfen and I, however, shared no such illusions about our lot. My parents gone, no heirlooms or artisans were awaiting to gift me my first hunting bow. We bought it from a peddler passing by the village. It cost many pelts, and I cherished its gnarled and twisted form like a newborn child. You have given me not one but two priceless artefact bows from your world! “There are once again, no words, no words to express my gratitude. Thank you, thank you, a thousand ‘thank yous’.” With the Compound bow at her side, she half knelt. Supplicated before him in a chamber above the world, she thanked him again in Elven. “I hope to one day earn the honour you have bestowed upon me this hour. I make this pledge to the gods, in this sacred ship above the clouds. Master Jonathan Kelly of the Honourable Order of the Divers, I Keya Ces of no house nor family pledge my allegiance to you. May honour bind us, and may I be your bow.” She did not look up, and she dared not move. This covenant was both a test for him and an avowal of heartfelt gratitude from her. The pledge required his honour after all. Moments passed by and then Jon audibly exhaled. “Okay Keya, if that’s what you want then I accept your pledge." She raised her head and smiled. "I like the honour part it sounds reciprocal. Bound by honour then. You are my bow, and I am your…,” patting the spoon on his forehead, “gonna have to figure that one out. Anyway, it’s not like its legally binding or anything; you're still free to do as you choose.” “Thank you, Master, I will bear that in mind.” She stood smiling. “Now, you mentioned a shooting range…” Previous|Next
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This scene was difficult for me. I leave it to the reader to decide how well it was handled. Obviously, there is a clash of ethics here, Kay is from a world prior to universal suffrage. The duties and ethics between commoners and nobility conflict with Jon's modern liberal values. Lords do not simply endow commoners with riches in exchange for nothing. Subjects serve their lords, and in return, their needs are provided for. Reeling from techo-culture shock, Kay is attempting to classify what kind of subject she is, in terms she understands. The master-apprentice artisan dynamic would root the relationship in purely transactional bounds. Given the wealth disparity, what debt she must be incurring naturally concerns her. After Jon's flat denial of such an arrangement, Kay is left reaching for anything familiar upon which root her experience. Enter the bows, a cultural icon of her people, containing archetypal significance. They even give her a technological benchmark. Lords do not arm commoners, so squire or apprentice knight it is. As such, she takes an oath, framing her and his duties in terms she understands for the moment. Citizenship was also a big hint for her, but cards can be faked, getting a weapon cements the deal—the right to bear compound arms and all that. Amazon | Patreon | Cover I'm a Brave Creator too. An easy decentralised ad revenue based way to support me, costing you nothing and fully integrated into Reddit. If you have the Brave Browser just click the triangular BAT icon labelled 'Tip' below.
World Cup 2022: A Way-Too-Early Look at the Betting Odds: Which teams should you bet on to win the 2022 World Cup? Read it now on numberFire, your #1 source for data-driven sports analysis and Find historical sports betting odds archived and compared in the Archived Results at Odds Portal. Proceed to content World Cup U20: World Cup U17: Friendly International: Club Friendly: Arab Club Champions Cup: Arab Cup of Nations: Exhibition Latvia Sky Tennis Men: ITF W15 Liepaja Women: ITF W15 Liepaja Women Doubles: WTA Jurmala: WTA World Cup Betting Odds. View all available outright and match odds, plus get news, tips, free bets and money-back offers. All you need to bet. Sports betting sites create betting odds by performing risk assessment and calculating the probability of each outcome. The betting odds then change in the build-up to the game as various people Arsenal have one more chance to secure European football next season as they take on Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday (kick-off 5.30pm). We assess the potential line-ups and
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