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Greed is Subtle
The morning alarm woke up Ghen. With an annoyed sigh, he stretched out his arm and silenced the foul-sounding chirps. Slowly sitting up in bed, he let out a deep yawn and got to his feet. Running a couple of chitinous fingers along his antennae to stimulate them to life, he made his bed and then went to his closet. Today was a work day, so he needed his suit. Once the pants were on, he stretched out his wings so that he could button up the shirt, then relaxing them once all the buttons were secured. Dressing for the day was done, now for the morning meal. Entering his kitchen, he took out the chilled leftovers of the evening meal last night and popped it into the radiator, first defrosting and then slightly cooking it. During that process, he also fished out a ceramic cup and placed it in his brewer, serving himself some synthesized caffeine. His idle thought led him to being amused that, when eaten directly off a plant, it has a concentration that could kill him three times over. But after going through some refinement and roasting, all it does is make him hyper. Once the meal was put together, his plate of heated leftovers and a cup of almost-piping-hot cup of Xia's, he took his time to enjoy it. His communicator vibrated. When he looked, he found it was from his boss. "Hello?" Ghen answered. "Ghen, the meeting's been moved up to a few minutes from now." His boss, Xkik, announced. "Apparently higher up has something important they want to say. We have a terminal ready for you, I'll message the login details." "Wha-, what's so important?" Ghen asked in bewilderment. "Did a water line rupture or something?" "No, nothing like that." Xkik replied with a slight chuckle. "It's actually about the rumors we've been hearing. That human corporation wanting to acquire us? That's what they're talking about." Ghen could feel everything inside his thorax drop to the floor. "That must mean it's true then, right? Did we get sold off by the Queen to this company then?" "Show up to the meeting and you'll get your answer." Xkik said simply. When he finished, Ghen got the notification on his communicator. There's the login details, allowing him to remotely attend the meeting. "They're about to start, hurry up." Once Xkik disconnected, Ghen worked fast to login and set up the remote viewing. Once everything was done, his screen started transmitting the meeting room. It was already packed. And off by the main board, he saw his answer. There was a human, resting against the wall on his two legs. Standing right in the center of everyone's view was the coordinator, Tizx, watching the clock periodically. As soon as the meeting's start time was reached, the coordinator began. "Alright everyone. I realize that this was rather short notice, so I want to say how appreciative I am that you made it. Now then, let's just get right to it. For some time now, many of you have been hearing rumors that a human corporation has been interested in us. Why? We never really knew. We're just an organization responsible for finding, extracting and providing water to the colony here all under the direction of the Queen herself. Well, as of now, I have the answer for you. Why don't I let Ryan say that?" Stepping back, Tizx motioned for the human, Ryan, to take over. With a nod, Ryan practically bounced over and then took the position. "Good morning to you all. I hope my Zazk is passable, heh. Anyways, the answer to those rumors, is yes. Terran Galactic Company is indeed interested in you all. Which now leads to me. I'm here to announce that, effective yesterday evening, this water company is now a subsidiary of Terran Galactic Company, under the name of Zilia Water Delivery." Many other sub-coordinators broke into hushed conversation, no doubt speaking their thoughts with each other about this move. Ghen could only wonder if this was even a good thing. What will the humans do? Will he still have his job? Will he have to learn how to deal with the ruthless humans? "Now, I am well aware this is quite the...uh, change." Ryan continued. "That's why I'm happy to inform you that, no, nothing negative or detrimental will happen to you. You just have new people to answer to. Operations will continue as normal, everybody here will still keep their jobs. The only real change any of you will personally experience is that Coordinator Tizx here will now report to someone else. On behalf of the Terran Galactic Company, we are extremely excited and are looking forward to working with you all. Thank you for your time." A week later. At least Ryan wasn't lying. After the initial shock wore off, things went back as they normally did. There were no terminations, no reductions in annual pay or anything. Nothing really changed. At least until this new meeting was called. Ghen was at the worksite this time, so he took his seat and watched as, once again, Ryan led the meeting. "Hello again, everyone!" He said cheerfully, his Zazk noticeably improved. "I hope I didn't end up looking like a liar, right? Everything's still normal, all that?" All the zazk in the room confirmed, providing comments to their pleasant surprise as well as lingering thoughts. "Awesome! Awesome." Ryan said jubilantly, his fleshy mouth revealing his bone-white teeth. "Now then, you're probably wondering why I'm here again, right? Well, I got another fantastic piece of news for you all! Two, actually. I'll start with the first: Zilia Water Delivery has just completed its IPO. The company is now publicly traded!" Ghen and the others voiced their confusion, having no idea what in the name of the Queen Ryan was talking about. What was Ryan talking about? What's an IPO? And why exactly is being publicly traded such a significant thing? "Oh, you guys don't know any of that?" Ryan asked in surprised confusion. After everybody confirmed, he let out a quick huff as he began his explanation. "Well, to begin, IPO is short for Initial Public Offering. Basically what that means is that, before today, Zilia was privately held. Only certain individuals could buy and sell shares here. But now that we're public? Literally anyone can buy and sell shares in the company, hence us being publicly traded." "Uh, what's a share?" Ghen asked, still completely lost. "Oh, boy..." Ryan muttered under his breath before returning to his peppy image. "To simply put it, a share is short for having a share of ownership in a company. When you buy a share, you're buying a piece of ownership, and when you sell, you're selling that amount." "So wait...if someone buys a share, they're a co-owner then?" One of the other team coordinators asked. "If they get enough, yeah." Ryan nodded. "You need a lot though, and that really depends on the company. If I had to give an answer though? I'd say usually you need to have a lot more shares than a lot of people combined to be officially a co-owner, but we call that being a majority shareholder." "And how do we do that?" Ghen asked, now growing curious but still not understanding why such a concept exists. "Simple. Buy shares." Ryan said simply. "And that leads into the second piece of awesome news. Zilia's corporate has a product in mind, a premium-package of water delivery. Instead of the usual water that you pump out, filter and ensure its potable before delivery, with the premium package, not only will you get that, but you'll also get all of the required nutrients and vitamins the zazk body requires! And they feel you guys have the best expertise and understanding to pull it off! So, here's what we're offering as a good-faith bonus: A 25% increase to your annual salary as well as being given stock options." Ghen wasn't sure about the second part, but the salary definitely got his attention, as well as everyone else's. Although his job was considered to have a good pay, Ghen isn't going to say no to a higher salary. In fact, he's been focusing his work on getting a promotion so he can come home with even more credits in pocket. "What do you mean by stock options?" Ghen asked after some time. Ryan let out that smile again, the one that revealed his teeth. "If you choose to transfer over to the new group, you'll be provided 50,000 shares in Zilia itself. Why's that awesome? Let me walk you through it. Right now, our last closing price per share was 3.02 credits. And if you have 50,000 shares during that time, you're sitting on 151,000 credits, if you cash it out immediately." "And why shouldn't we?" One of the coordinators demanded in an ambiguous tone. "Because the price per share changes a lot." Ryan explained promptly. "When we got done with the IPO? It closed at 2.73 a share. Right now? My money's on the closing price being 2.99 a share. However, we are extremely confident in this premium package being successful. If it does? Well, my bet is that the share price will skyrocket to 3.12 a share. If you hold those shares and the price gets to what my bet was? You'll instead get 156,000 credits. Just by holding onto them, you just made an additional 5,000 credits!" "And what if we have more shares?" Ghen questioned, now getting excited at the prospect of free money. "Even more money!" Ryan laughed a bit. "And don't forget about dividends, but that's for another time. The premium group is gearing up right now, we just need the workforce. If any of you wants in, I'll be back tomorrow with all the forms needed to make it official. Take the day and tonight to think it over, yeah?" Everything else melted into a blur. Ghen was practically on autopilot that whole day. Was this the secret to the humans' incredibly massive economy? How so many of them have amassed so much money out of nowhere? All you had to do was just buy this share out of a company and you get more money without even working? As soon as he got home, Ghen knew what he was going to do during the night. After feverishly looking through the galnet, now having the human race connected to it, he looked and gathered up as many books that were translated into zazk as he could find, all talking about the human economic system. The last time he undertook such an intensive study was during his primary education phase. And during his search, he even found forums on the galnet that were completely dedicated to the human's economy. All of them talking about strategies on what company, or stock, to pick. How to analyze a company's performance to determine if it was worth the money, or it had potential to grow over time. And that was when he discovered the humans found another method to the extremely simple buying and selling process. There were humans and some other immigrated aliens who made five times what Ghen could receive over a simple month just by watching the share prices during trading hours, and then buying and selling them at the proper times. Ghen's mind was just absolutely flabbergasted. He thought it was just some strange concept only aliens could make, but no, not with the humans. They've practically made their economy into an art or a science. No, not even their economy. Everything. If humans can see a way to make money off of it, they'll do it. And if there isn't, they'll look for a way. Healthcare was monetized. Galnet services, transportation, shopping at the store, they even made all of their utilities into profit-oriented companies. And it was there that Ghen paused, the realization slamming into him. Everything was monetized. Which means, if you don't have the money for it, you're not getting it. Right? Are the humans truly that ruthless? So obsessed with making money? To the point that they're willing to deprive their own people of the absolute necessities if it's a source of credits? Ghen let out a scoff. There's no way. Nobody is that cruel and callous. He's never been to the United Nations. He can't rely on what a bunch of random people on the galnet says. He decided that from here on out, he'll only go as far as saying that humans are a little obsessed with credits, nothing more. ... There he was. Ryan, sitting in the office provided to him. And there was a rather large line leading to him. Looks like word got around. Although, the line wasn't as large as he expected it to be. Maybe the others thought it was just a ruse? That there's no such thing as making free money by spending it on such a made-up concept? Ghen only knows that, if it is a ruse, it's an extremely elaborate one, where all of the humans are in on it. And he believes that's just extremely ridiculous. At the end, if he's unsure, he'll just take the transfer for the very real increase in his very real salary. And although he spent a very good chunk of the night reading up on how humans do things, he's still going to play it smart. He'll leave his 50,000 shares alone and see where it goes from there. "Good morning sir." Ryan greeted warmly once Ghen took his seat. "Now, name please?" "Ghen." He answered, barely keeping his nerves down. "Alright...and what's your position at this location?" Ryan questioned after scribbling on his form. "I monitor the pumping stations near the extraction sites." Ghen explained, staying on point. "To be more specific, I check to see if they're in need of maintenance, as well as reading the flow rate that's determined by the calculators installed there. If there's too little for what's needed, I pump out more. And if there's too much, I pull it back a little." "Nice...and how long have you been doing it for?" Ryan complimented with a nod. "As of tomorrow, ten years." Ghen replied, voice quickly changing to minor awe once he realized that fact. "Excellent. Do you have anyone in mind you'd like to replace you here?" Ryan questioned after another scribble. "If you don't have anyone, you're free to say so." Ghen took a moment to think it over. A bunch of names went through his mind, but one stuck with him. "Tilik. He's just been accepted here, but he's learned quickly. Very attentive and he always catches something subtle. I think he'll do really well in my position, even better actually." "Tilik, really?" Ryan questioned with a little shock, going through his completed forms. Ghen felt a short sense of panic in him. Did something happen, or was Tilik actually transferring? His answer didn't take long to reveal itself. "Right, Tilik was actually one of the first people to want to transfer here. He's actually requested to be part of the testing teams specifically. Do you have a second choice?" "Um...no, actually." Ghen replied, feeling a little ashamed. "Tilik was my only choice, to be honest." "Hey, don't worry." Ryan said assuringly with his hands raised. "Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, there's just nobody up to snuff, right? 'Kay, so, last question. Is there anything specific you'd like to do when given the transfer?" "If you need someone monitoring new pumps, I'd be happy to do that." Ghen stated. "So basically same job but with better payoff, am I right?" Ryan grinned. "I hear you. Sometimes, we're just not paid enough for what we're doing. I know I think that sometimes. Uh, our secret, yeah?" "Yeah, our secret." Ghen nodded, thinking it'd be better to have friendly relations with the human, just in case. "Awesome. Back on topic, that's it." Ryan announced, placing the form on his pile. "We'll give you a call when you're accepted." "Oh, uh, that's it?" Ghen questioned with a shrug in shocked surprise. "What, expecting a question like, why do you want to transfer?" Ryan chuckled a bit as he leaned in his seat. "You can bullshit all you want, but we both know the answer. Sweet money and stock options. Not saying that's a bad answer of course, just that it's pretty obvious." "I suppose it is." Ghen commented, realizing the point. "Also, you mentioned this...dividend? Is that for Zilia shares?" Ryan laughed a little bit before nodding. "Yep, announced before I came here. About 0.43 per share. Want to know why that's awesome? Instead of waiting for the proper price to cash out your shares, now? The company pays you for each share you hold." "A...Are you serious?" Ghen demanded, flabbergasted. Ryan nodded with his now-trademark grin. "Dead serious. If you get the transfer, and get those 50,000 shares? A little head math...right, if you hold onto those, in addition to your salary, you'll now annually be paid 21,500 credits, if you keep it at 50,000 shares. Only you can decide to sell or buy shares." Ghen just stood there silent and motionless, no idea of whether to believe it or not, to which Ryan just laughed. Once he walked out of the room, he managed to snap back to reality. Again, just focus on the very real pay-raise. He'll deal with the other parts later. After he returned to his spot, he spotted Tizx approaching by his desk. The coordinator seems to be as casual as always. "I saw you in that line a bit ago, Ghen." He said as he leaned on the desk. "Guess you're really taking that human's word?" "I mean, I don't know about all this share business or what not." Ghen began with a shrug, his tone sounding a little defensive. "But I mean, having a bigger salary? Course I'm going for it when I can. And if all this magic credits turn out to be real? You realize we can live like the royal servants, right? Get the best cars, the nicest food and all that?" "I'd be very careful, Ghen." Tizx warned in a sudden shift in tone. "Don't trust those humans. The way they just...obsess over money? Come up with more and more insane ways of getting credits? I don't know, it just makes my wings twitch." "You think this is a bad idea?" Ghen asked with a little surprise at the change-in-demeanor. "I think you should be careful, with the humans, and with what you're saying." Tizx replied, straightening his posture. "I wouldn't put it past those Earthmen to backstab you if it gets them a few more credits. And we all know how the royal servants get if any of us lowly commoners start thinking we can break into their circle." "I hear you, I'll be on my guard, promise." Ghen stated with a nod. With a confirming nod of his own, Tizx returned back to his duty, walking past Ghen's desk. Several weeks later. Everything became so much better. Ghen got the transfer. He didn't need to relocate to a new residence either. And after he was walked through into learning how to manage his stock account, and seeing that new form of payment in his hands, he already felt as though he made the best decision. But it was only when he decided to take those shares more seriously that he became privy to what he was given. After receiving the dividend payment, and actually seeing it was real, valid credits after transferring it to his main bank account, all he could describe was the most powerful high he ever felt. While his first thoughts were to buy himself a royalty-class car, some nicer furnishings for his home, or even a better home entirely, he ended up going the smarter route. After going back to his stock account, he discovered that Zilia's shares rose to about 3.22 credits in price. Knowing that this was the easiest money he could ever make, he took all of his dividend earnings and bought more shares in Zilia, bringing him to owning 56,891. And from his new regional coordinator, a human named Dylan, tomorrow is the grand release of the premium package. For just a monthly rate of 14.99 credits, the tap water will now include a sizeable portion of all nutrients and vitamins required in the zazk physiology. Still, Ghen has to admit. He's not entirely sure why anybody would want such a thing, if they'd even go for it. But, as long as he's practically swimming in easy credits, he won't pay much attention to it. And just like when he was intensively studying the basics of how the human economy worked, he barely got any sleep. His mind was constantly thinking about the things he would buy. Or rather, what other stocks to put his credits into. Even now he can still hardly believe it. Just spend your money on some, make-believe thing and, if you wait long enough and picked the right stock, you'll get more than you spent back? His mind even wandered onto what human colonies, or even their homeworld, Earth, was like. If everybody was making so much money, what kind of things would they offer? What kind of ridiculous service or product or item can you get? He's even debating on joining some forum and just asking around. Explain how he's new to how humans do things and was wondering what he should expect if he's successful. By the time he felt like he can go to sleep, the binary-stars of the system were rising from the horizon. After getting out of his bed and changing to clean clothes, his mind returned onto what-ifs. What if he bought better clothes? He's had his eye on that human brand of luxury clothes, Tessuti di Venezia, that's been all the rage amongst the royal servants. Or maybe he can go on vacation and just check out Earth for real? It was a short ride to his workplace from his home. After getting stuff his stuff and preparing to walk through the doors, he heard the roar of a car grow louder. When he looked, he saw the sleekest and quite possibly the coolest looking car he's ever seen. Each time the engine revved it would startle him, both from how harsh it sounded as well as just how intense it sounded. And after it parked, he saw the doors pop out and then slide along the body back. And there, he saw Tilik, the seat literally turning and extending out a bit before he got off. As soon as he saw Ghen staring, he struck a rather prideful pose after putting on his lab coat and then sauntered over to Ghen. "What do you think?" Tilik said, without any doubt inviting praise or compliments. "D...Did you actually buy that?" Ghen asked, unable to tear his eyes away from the car. "You're Queens-damn right I did!" Tilik laughed happily. "Thing takes off like a starship, has temperature-controlled seating, all-in-one center console, barely any bouncing on rough roads. Hoof, best decision I've ever made!" "How much did that thing cost?" Ghen asked after letting out an incredulous laugh. "Five million credits." Tilik replied, earning an absolutely shocked stare from Ghen. "And thanks to the incredible salary I have, in addition to all these shares and dividends, I'll pay back the credits I borrowed in no time!" Ghen needed a few moments before he could speak again. "All I've been doing is buying more shares." Tilik laughed and then patted the now-envious monitor's back. "Smart man. I got a little carried away, yeah, but not anymore. Any spending credits I got, going right back to investing. That's what it's called right, investing?" "Yeah, it is." Ghen nodded, feeling a fire light up in his thorax. "And also? Today's the day that the premium water thing is being released. Here's hoping it starts out well, right?" "Oh it will, trust me." Tilik chuckled as they both began making their way inside the workplace. "Lots of research, lots of study. By the Queen, so much of it...it'll make your head spin." And after hearing that, Ghen had a moment of realization. "Hey, Tilik? How did you get such a nice position anyways? Weren't you just studying under me before the humans came along?" Tilik let out a sigh after opening the door. "I'll be honest, I never wanted your job. Not because it's boring or terrible, just...I didn't suffer so many sleepless nights in the science academy just to be a glorified button pusher. This is what I've always wanted. Doing science, solving problems rather than just applying the solution, you know?" "Wait, you got an academic certificate?" Ghen questioned, completely floored. "How did you end up beneath me then? I should've been answering to you!" "Simple." Tilik gave a heavier sigh. "A royal servant was asking for the same job I was. Take a guess at who got it." "Ouch. Good thing the humans came along when they did, yeah?" Ghen was taken aback. He never heard anything about a servant taking a job at his place. "Looks like you're proving yourself to be well suited." "By the Queen, of course I am." Tilik nodded. "Like I said, I nearly broke my wings through so many nights, got certified top of my class, all just to get pushed to the dirt because someone who was born into a particular family wanted the same thing I did? I know I'm smarter than any of those empty-skull servants back in the Center. I know that, whatever, uh...corporate? Yeah, whatever corporate wants out of science, I will xeek give it to them." "Well, let me know how things go in the lab." Ghen said, admiring his drive as they neared the main office floor. "Because this is where the button pusher needs to go." Tilik let out a laugh as he nodded. "Hey, how about we meet up at Queen's Fine Eatery tonight. I'll pay, yeah?" Ghen, at first, wanted to admonish him for choosing such an outrageously expensive place to go. But he quickly realized that, he truly is good for it, thanks to the humans. "Well, hey, if you're paying for it." ... It was a fantastic opening. After being told what news sites to keep in mind for stocks, he first heard it from Dylan, and then got more detail on Business Today. There was such a massive demand right from the start that Zilia needs to increase extraction just to meet it. But what really got his attention was the effect it had. Zilia Water Delivery's share price just blasted off. After seemingly holding steady at about 3.15, by the time he got home and logged onto his account, it already reached 7.04 a share. The calculator on his account told him that he got a value-gain of 54.26%. Never in his entire life had he felt such...joy. With all of the shares he currently has? He's sitting at 400,512.64 credits. He knows that it is woefully pathetic compared to what the royal servants have just in their pockets, but the fact that he has such money, just by owning some intangible concept? Why even work at Zilia? Why doesn't he just sit at home, figure out what companies to invest in and make his money that way? What's even the point in working a real job, getting a pathetic pay when you can just take the money you have, determine where to spend it, and get triple back? All just sitting on your wings at home, researching? He was so wrapped up in his excited high that he completely forgot he was going to meet Tilik at Queen's. After quickly and haphazardly putting on his nicer clothes, he got to the place only a few minutes late. Tilik was there by the guide, no doubt having been waiting for him. As soon as he strode up, Tilik's wings stiffned out some. No doubt he must've seen the numbers as well. "I can see your wings, Ghen." Tilik began with an excited chuckle. "Made some serious credits?" Ghen let out an incredulous scoff, struggling to find the words for a moment. "Incredible. All I'm going to say." "Likewise." Tilik chortled some before nodding to the table guide. "All here. Table please?" "Right this way, sir." The guide said politely. It was a short walk, travelling between round tables. The vast majority were populated by zazk, but Ghen was surprised at seeing a few humans here as well. No doubt corporate workers checking out the local food. He did spot them having bowls filled with some kind of mass. Some were brown, others white with what looks to be black specks on them. They arrived at their table. A rather nice one, affording a view out the windows into the busy colony streets. Once Tilik and Ghen settled in, the guide handed out the menus. "May I suggest our rather popular option for tonight?" The guide began. "Human ice-cream. Ingredients sourced from Earth itself. Very cold, but incredibly sweet, and coming in many flavors. The most popular amongst us is called vanilla-bean. The vanilla itself soaks in the cream for much of the process, and then the innards sprinkled on top of it near the end. Rumor has it that the Queen herself has demanded personal shipments of such a treat straight from the home of vanilla, an island on Earth named Madagascar." Ghen didn't even spare a single thought. "Vanilla bean ice cream then, please." "Same." Tilik seconded when the guide glanced to him. With a slight bow, the guide proceeded to ferry their orders to the kitchen. Thankfully it was just a short wait before the guide returned, carrying a large plate containing bowls of ice cream. Ghen could feel the saliva on his mandibles as the bowl was placed before them. He could just feel the cold air around that glistening mass of sugary goodness. The white snow decorated with the black dots of vanilla bean. Once the guide left them, Tilik and Ghen both dived in at the same time. As soon as the ice cream entered his mouth, touched his tongue, he exploded in incomprehensible bliss. The sweetness, the smooth and creamy mass, even the taste of vanilla he wasn't sure about was just absolutely delightful. It was so overwhelming that his entire body limped, slumping in his seat as he was forced to ride on the surging tide of joy and happiness sweeping over him. Tilik was no different. He too was taken completely by the effects of the ice cream, his wings fluttering some against the seat. Ghen could hear some noise. It was the humans they passed by. They were chuckling, grinning, and glancing over at them discreetly. Unlike the two zazk, the humans seemingly just enjoyed the ice cream as if it was just another nice dessert to them. Or perhaps they couldn't allow themselves to succumb to the high? And as soon as the wave of indescribable bliss and happiness subsided, Ghen knew. He just knew. This was the life. He wanted this. The ice cream was just the beginning. So many things denied because he didn't have the credits, or worse, not the blood. Because he was just a drone in the great Collective, even if he had the credits, he wasn't allowed because of what caste he was born in. That fire that sparked in him when he saw Tilik's new car? It exploded into a raging firestorm. And when looking into Tilik's eyes, Ghen could see the same. He was on the same page as Ghen was. Both of them were sold. They have the credits. And the humans? If you can pay for it, they'll never discriminate. All they cared about is if you have the money. And by the Queen, Ghen and Tilik will endeavor to amass as much credits as physically possible. The rest of the night faded into a blur. A blur that evokes only one thing. Bliss. It was only when he walked through the door of his pathetic hut that Ghen's mind snapped back to focus. His mandibles felt sticky. And he felt a weight in his stomach. How much ice cream did he eat? Whatever it was, he ate such volume that the lower-section of his throax extended and rounded out, visible even under his shirt. He felt something odd in his pocket. It was a receipt. 43,000 credits for ten bowls of vanilla bean ice cream. Was that ten bowls for both of them? Or individually? Ghen didn't care. He's good for it. Returning back to his calculator, he acted upon the decision that he had made at that eatery. He's acquiring as many books about investing and stock trading as he could find, frequent and study all the discussions and arguments presented by other like-minded individuals such as he, all to ensure he can live the good life. And he had a very good feeling Tilik was doing the exact same thing. Well, first, the gurgling in his stomach, as well as the feeling of something rising demanded his attention. Looks like he'll need to take the night off to let his stomach get back to normal. Three Years Later. Ghen looked out beyond the horizon, seeing the colony that he grew up in. On the far side was where his old house was. With only a simple robe on, made from the finest silk from Earth's nation-state of China, he relaxed in his seat. It was a long road. Stockpiling credits from pre-existing investments and from subsequent pays, he and Tilik made it. From having only half a million in assets and cash, now transformed to over eight-hundred million. And now, his call contracts on American Interstellar? They've just announced a breakthrough in their next generation of warp drives, reducing the speed coefficient even further, resulting in far faster travel. And with that, their stock price climbed sharply. Another hundred million credits in the bank. Soon, very soon, he and Tilik are about to become the galaxy's first zazk billionares. But that's not enough. There are many humans who are billionares. Only those he can count on one hand are considered trillionares. He's going to break into that circle. He and Tilik. Looking beyond the colony, he saw the abandoned building of the workplace he transferred to when the humans arrived. Turns out, the reason for such a high demand was that the humans also slipped in sugar to the tap water. As soon as that broke, many influential royal servants demanded investigations and outright banning of Terran Galactic Company's influence over the former government division. Zilia's stock price plummeted. But thanks to an advance tip from his human coordinator, Dylan, he and Tilik made a put contract. And that's where they struck gold, as the human saying goes. Dylan warned that if they were citizens of the United Nations, they'd be investigated and convicted for insider trading. But, since they weren't, and the Collective were only just introduced to capitalism, there's no risk at all. Now the colony is going through a withdrawal phase, Zilia has been dissolved and reformed back as a government division and are currently at work re-establishing the standard, plain water delivery. "Well, shit." Tilik muttered as he walked up to Ghen's side, taking well to human speech. "Looks like you win. American Interstellar's announcement really was a good thing. There goes a million credits. Ah well, the Royal Shipyards will make it back for me soon." "Oh? Did they just go corporate?" Ghen asked curiously, glancing to Tilik. "Hell yeah they did." Tilik chuckled, sitting down. "Queen and her retard servants fought it hard, but Royal Shipyards is now officially a human-style corporation. And, to a surprise to all the xenophobes in the galaxy, they're already being offered contracts for ship production. That'll raise the stock price pretty good." "What's that human word...?" Ghen muttered, already having a reply in mind. "Dick? Yeah, calls or suck my dick, Tilik." Tilik roared in laughter. "Already made them. Forty credits a share by this day next month." "I have half a mind to go thirty." Ghen chuckled. "Either way, until then, I heard from Dylan that he knows a guy who knows several prime human women who happen to be into zazk." "You're interested in women?" Tilik said as his wings fluttered. "With how often you tell me to suck you off, I'd have thought differently." "Oh, I always thought it was you who was into men." Ghen responded dryly. "Just wanted to be a good friend, you know? Considering how you never seem to make it past, Hey sweet thing, I'm rich you know." "Oh, go fuck yourself." Tilik countered with a little laugh. After he stopped, wings stiffened, he looked to Ghen. "So, know any royal servants we can put the squeeze on for more revenue streams?" "I got just the one." Ghen nodded, sitting up. "Fzik. He's been fighting to control the ice cream trade. Worried it's a corrupting influence. Got done talking with the human CEO of Nestle earlier. If we clear the way, he'll know how to squeeze a little more gains in stock price when he makes the announcement." Tilik's wings stiffened even more, signaling his approval. "Alright, time to throw some credits around, yeah?" AN: Sorry for the period of no updates. College is starting up, lots of stuff to clear and work out. Not sure why but I just got a bug up my butt about incorporating money and the stock market into a short. Here it is. Sorry if it seems abrupt, character limit fast approaching. Let me know how you guys think about it!
I was trying to figure out whether I'm Transgender or NB, and I came out too early. It's destroying my relationship.
Update: We are separating for an indefinite period of time. This was just a catalyst for other issues, mainly her overwhelming anxiety and depression, and our mutual codependency. I'm in a crisis, and I need to write this. Questions at bottom. I'm AMAB, and started experimenting with transgender thoughts around age 14. I mostly forgot about how serious it was until recently, about 14 years later. In that time, I've come to understand transitioning and transgender people much better, and it hit me hard because for the first time it seemed like a real option. I'm at an age and point in life where I'm doubting everything about myself, and feel like I'm close to "locking in" a future. I need to know what to do with these feelings. So I started questioning. Saw a therapist, shaved my beard and legs, and played around with the idea. Had to see if it felt right. Started training my voice to see if I could. Need to know if I'll pass. If I wouldn't pass, what's the point? I hate my body, I hate the way I look and talk, is that dysphoria? Or is that just my depression? How much of this is anxiety and how much is dysphoria? I am motivated to take care of myself for the first time possibly ever, and I hit the gym and diet. I'm down 10 lbs. After a couple times seeing my therapist, she says some things that didn't really stick with me until later. First, she suggests that being trans isn't necessarily the only thing that these feelings indicate, that being non-binary is also on the table. At this point, I'm not sure and I continue to wallow in questioning anxiety and panic. Fast forward a few weeks, and I can't take it anymore. My girlfriend of 5 years can tell something is going on with me, but she doesn't know what. I am stressed beyond belief and it's leaking out. So we get coffee and I come out with it, hoping that she's understanding enough to support me through the process. I drop some lines that I think extra fucked me over: I said that based off some kind of imaginary "checklist" I meet like 90% of the criteria for trans. Even worse, I explain how I'm worried about the clock running out on a viable passing transition and I could regret it 10 years from now. I'm still questioning, but I've heard that cis people don't think about it like this at all. It starts supportive and confused, but the focus turns instead to how she's going to "lose" me. Uhoh. She cannot see herself attracted to women and knows it won't work. This is going to be a breakup. She's already having a difficult, stressful time in life prior to this, and losing one of her biggest supporters is too much. She lives with her parents, and when we separate for the night they see her devastated. I learn a couple days later they already didn't like me and while they don't know exactly what we talked about, they don't want her to see me again. I get to dwell on all this with little sleep for about 24 hours. Panic attack for most of it. However when I calm down, I start to consider some things my therapist said to help me figure out what I want. They're simple, but they're questions I don't often ask myself:
What do youwantin your future?
Would transitioning make you significantly happier than not transitioning?
What about yourself, right now, feels wrong?
Things finally start to click. Perhaps the shock of all this got me into a more constructive mindset. Being male means nothing to me other than a series of assigned privileges. I don't like the male body aesthetic, but that doesn't mean I'm not male. I may not adhere to stereotypes, but even at my girliest I wasn't wanting to feminize much. Being female wouldn't change most of the faults I find with myself, or drastically change the way I want to socialize. It's just extra work and stress for little payoff. Being a better and more complete me doesn't have to include changing everything about me. I imagined myself as an old father with my wife and child. I said it's something I wanted but I never really put myself in the role. I realized the thing I needed was just a goal. The best thing about leading up to transition was the drive to finally start taking care of myself, but transition doesn't need to be the motivator. I can just do it for myself, with what I've been given. And that would be enough. I think I can be happy knowing I'm somewhere on the NB spectrum, maybe opening myself up to things I'd write off due to repression. Maybe I'll pierce my ears or something, dye my hair, get creative. I'll grow out my hair anyway, cause why not. Okay questions
How will I know if I'm coming to a NB conclusion to repress further transition? It's an anxiety thing but I have a hard time trusting my own judgment. How can I know that I won't change my mind later? I love my girlfriend more than I love myself and while I don't feel it now, future me could regret my actions now.
Can I even be Non-Binary if I'm presenting as my AGAB? For me this feels more like an internal acceptance thing than a presentation thing, but it almost feels like stolen valor or something.
How the hell do I start repairing my relationship? She's still super confused and hesitant to talk to me, but after some loooong texting sessions it sounds like a non-binary partner is not out of the question for her. I don't know how I'm going to face her parents, they think I'm basically a deadbeat and no good for her at this point.
Thanks for listening. Update: We are separating for an indefinite period of time. This was just a catalyst for other issues, mainly her overwhelming anxiety and depression, and our mutual codependency. ADDITION: I want to make clear that my experience does not reflect on the experience of anyone else, and if I end up not being trans it does not mean your feelings aren't valid. I suppose we can only decide for ourselves.
Let's talk about SciTE4AutoHotkey, what Groggy is up to, why he's currently groggy and why that's the reason for the update. Here's a thread for info, comments, and suggestions. (PS - Happy Friday, everyone!)
Hey guys. I'm pretty excited about getting to post this. Warning: Wall of text incoming. This is like an account of all the stuff that's happened. Don't worry, to prevent total boredom, I've added pictures and gifs. Like a picture book. Anyway, I've had this big bout of insomnia lately. Like 1-3 hours of sleep a day. Less than 20 hours in a week. It SUCKS! Maybe it's because my my laptop is inoperable due to fan failure. I had to order a new one because the original died and we all know shipping time is brutal from China. I'm mentioning that so I can mention this. Me getting 1-3 hours of sleep a night = Hella free time. Hella free time + my main machine being down = X Solve for X. X = I needed a project. Of my options on "Things to do", SciTE4AutoHotkey was something that had been on there a while, piqued my interest, was something I could start from scratch, could be done on a sub-par laptop, and it seemed beneficial to not just me but everyone. So, I picked it up like a pair of scissors and ran with it. Some of you may have seen my comment the other day. Twas not a bluff or an attempt at getting free uppies. A couple days before that post, I had already started (and have been actively) rewriting the entire ahk.api and ahk.keyword.properties files from scratch. I'm also worried about the fact that it has been like 1/2 a decade since someone has updated these files. I finished rewriting and "carding" every command, built-in function, and built-in variable a couple nights ago. Since then I've (mostly?) finished getting all the "other keywords" listed (What a pain in the ass. Even at this point I know I've missed some stuff. There are just so many options, subcommands, sub-subcommands, properties, methods, options...you guys are smart. You get what the hell I'm going on about.) Last night I started getting into the guts of the program, commenting out the AHK files, reading up on .api files, reading about SciTE's options, etc... More SciTE info for those interested. So, what changes have you made to the API? The following numbers are rough but accurate. Items refers to commands, built-in variables, built-in functions, flow controls statements, and other keywords. "Other keywords" refers to language verbs, options, subcommands, subcommand options, etc... Example:
and not in is between extends this on off alwayson alwaysoff toggle ...
Registry words/values, sound options, sysget/winget/process options, etc... are all "other keywords":
REG_SZ REG_BINARY HKLM HKU PCSPEAKER SYNTH Monitor ID PID ...
You get the idea. The Old API has about 1093 items. Of those 1093 items, only 123 have any type of additional info bundled with them. 970 are cardless/infoless. The ones that do have info provided have only the most basic of information and options with no info about anything else. At the time of this posting, the new API I've written has 1383 items. Up 290 items from the old API. (I can guarantee this will go up before beta release.) Of those 1383 lines, 738 of those items (almost every single command, built-in function, variable, and flow control statement) has a card. Up 615 from the old API's basic info. Of the 645 of those items that don't have cards, most lack one, because they're either "other keywords" or are options|subcommands that are covered on a main command's/function's card. Why even bother adding all those extra words to the API? It seems like a lot of crappy work for no payoff. A few reasons.
It causes those commands to show up in the word list.
It makes typing things easier to type. Example: Typing REG_ shows all the Registry stuff in the word list. Pick the one you want and hit enter.
Having all the different keywords listed allows them to receive syntax highlighting. This can be used like a form of visual validation while coding.
* Lots of padding from formatting and cheat sheets. What exactly are these "CARD" things? Cards are what I'm calling extended tooltips. For example, with the old SciTE4AHK, if you type #KeyHistory you'd see this. With the new version, you'd see this. (That's one of the lesser detailed cards). Why bother making cards? Well, I get sick and tired of wasting time alt+tabbing back and forth from SciTE to the docs just to get small pieces of info. It seems like this wastes a lot of time. Does this function return a 1 or a 0? Or an empty string? Does it return a word? If yes, what word? What does that word mean? What's the subcommand for this command? Does the subcommand have different syntax?? What are that subcommand's options? What's the option for removing duplicates when using the sort command? What about that option that lets you sort by numbers even if they're inside of a string? Does this command's field use traditional or expression format? Does this command set an errorlevel? Have you the Format() command?! Do you see what I mean? Time wasted because we need some tiny bit of NECESSARY info to make everything work. I thought "Why the hell not just update the tooltips to have all the info right there?" Why not make SciTE4AHK better by making its calltips more robust and more like a quick reference guide?" It sounded good to me so...I did it. How do these cards look? Currently, each card is set with its full syntax (multiple lines if the command warrants it) followed by its use and whatever extra info goes with it. I've tried to keep these cards small and compact but still pack in as much info as possible. Commands with multiple subcommands have all subcommands listed at the bottom and each subcommand should have its own card with its own options. The goal is not to cover the entire documentation of each command on each card, but to streamline the important info, the options, get return/errorlevel info, etc. To the newer users out there, you should always read a command's/function's documentation before using it. Don't go off just the card/calltip. Some commands have tons of info that I could never fit onto 1 card. You might miss an option you need or you might misunderstand a command's usage/output/etc... Though I don't think this will be likely because the cards are pretty straight forward. Here's the general layout/legend for the current card setup. This lists the majority of LABELS: I use with the cards. No one card will ever have all these.
Command, Value|Subcommand, [OptionalParams, Select|One|Option] NOTES: Item refers to any command, built-in function/variable, or keyword. Parameters separated by | pipes indicate "select one of these". Items inside  brackets are considered optional. TAGS: USE: What a command/function is used for. VALUE: Variable/text/number. Used as input/output for commands. SUBCOMMAND: List of subcommands for the current command. Most subcommands have their own card and own options. DEPRECATED: A command is phased out and should no longer be used. Deprecated tags always come with a replacement tag. REPLACEMENT: Replacement commands/functions for deprecated items. REPLACEMENT: Use SubStr() instead. REMARK: Additional or beneficial information about an item. REMARK: Omitting WinTitle will default to LastFoundWindow. RETURN: The values a function can return and what they mean. RETURN: 1 = Key Down. 0 = Key Up. ERRORLEVEL: Possible ErrorLevel values and what they mean. ERRORLEVEL: 0 = Failure. 1 = Success. EX: Example of command/function use. Most items have these. Also shows return values and/or how the new data looks. R = Return value of command/function => vaobj after of command/function runs EX: arr =: [1, 2, 3] Arr.RemoveAt(2) ; R=2 ; arr => [1, 3] CHEAT: This item has additional data or info on a Cheat_Sheet_ card. These are used for reference charts, data tables, or other info that just can't fit onto 1 card and tend to be larger than normal.
About cheat sheets: This is a new category I've added. It's a bunch of cards that have the prefix Cheat_Sheet_ and can be called just like any other command or function. Type "cheat", select the one you want from the word list, hit enter to make the text appear (unfortunately, this is necessary) and then hit space. Like I mentioned before, have you seen the Format() function!? That thing is getting its own cheat sheet. Examples: Cheat_Sheet_HTML_Color_NamesCheat_Sheet_RegEx Deleting the word makes the tooltip go away. Ctrl+Backspace deletes a whole word instead of just 1 character. It makes things easy. Or just hit esc. If you're close to being done with the API (and subsequently the keywords file), what do you have left? I still have quite a bit left. Re-organize some of the content Homogenize card formatting (make sure every card follows the format that I've changed like 8 billion times since starting) Proofread EVERYTHING again to find errors, typos, etc... Quite a few cheat sheets to create/finish/prettify. Find a clean way to incorporate hotkey card changing/scrolling. Wanting to use mousewheel up/down and arrow up/down (or possibly ctrl+up/down for this). Get TillaGoTo to recognize functions correctly. Change the opening/closing behavior of calltips/cards and find a way to ensure that the wordlist comes up when it's supposed to. Add a new syntax category that acknowledges AHK's built-in properties and methods. Example: File object methods, file object properties, default object methods, exception object properties, etc.. I'm considering making a "lite" version of the API for those who want minimalistic calltips. 1-3 lines per card? Let me know if there's a want for this. Add a light/dark mode for the wordlist, calltips, and tillagoto. See if there's a possibility to add color support for wordlists/calltips in the themes/option. Looking at bundling Maestrith's GUI Creator with this instead of Smart GUI Creator. I feel Maestrith's GUI Creator is a much better GUI Creator. Or, should I leave Smart GUI Creator in along with it? Opinions? Also, I'm thinking about bundling this impressive message box creator called Magic Box to replace the older MsgBox Creator. It's a long list but I'm trying to knock stuff off it little by little. Here's hoping to have a working Beta available soon for you guys. Speaking of releasing a Beta... If you guys notice a typo, error, come up with a word(s) that should be added, or anything else, SPEAK UP AND LET ME KNOW. Worst case scenario: I disagree with you, I don't add it/change anything, and you're not out anything. Best case scenario: I agree, add it, and you+everyone else get the functionality you requested. Same goes with design ideas/suggestions. But, being honest, I don't have plans on doing tons of expansions to this program (I might not even be capable of it). Regardless, feedback is a great thing. Opinions on the name SciTE4AHK_GO? For GroggyOtter Edition. When the beta is released, I'll be making a new sticky post. If you'd like a tag notification, leave a comment below with "notify me" in it. I'll post edits if there's anything else worth mentioning/updates to give. Make sure you check back. Gonna go grab a burrito. <3 Edit: Still actively working on this. I've invested quite a bit of time into it and will probably be investing quite a bit more as the list of things I want to change/add is growing. Also, my fan finally came. Didn't work. Wrong brand. Wrong amperage... The moral of the story is don't order things from China. Edit 10Oct2018: For those checking back, I'm still going at this full bore. I had to, unfortunately, rewrite my rewritten API. I did a really REALLY dumb thing. During a simple RegEx search/replace during a formatting thing I was doing, I managed to not click the "in selection" box. It wiped out everything after a comma... All the items and their formatting were saved, but a lot of sentences became 1/2 sentences, commands had all parameters wiped, examples were blanked, etc. :( "Why didn't you just ctrl+z?" Because I didn't know about it until way WAY after. "Why didn't you restore a backup?" The last one I had was pre-finish, let alone pre-formatting changes I had started to do. So, yeah, moral of the story is back your shit up (frequently) and don't make formatting changes to a master document... On a positive note, I've gotten EVERYTHING redone except for commands H-Z (so like 90% of all lexems in the lexer). As a bonus, the rewrite (I don't like saying rewrite. It's more like re-transcribe and re-format...) allowed me to restructure everything and made the whole process go much faster and smoother. It took probably less than 1/2 the time to do it the second time around. :) I've also added quite a bit to the "things I'd like to change/implement" list. Not going to post it because I don't know what I want to keep and not keep and don't want to get hopes up. But I will mention one thing I came up with that I really liked and want to run with. I came up with this option. No name yet but I'm thinking SynGUIs or SynStrings. Anyway, the current idea is based on a .syn hotstring. It checks the command/function just typed, looks it up, and then loads a small GUI with that command/function and all its parameters preloaded with defaults (maybe add an option to save user preferred command defaults?). The first design was to use all edit boxes but then I decided to use param appropriate controls. If there are only 3 options, add a dropdown with the 3 options. If there are multiple options, add some checkboxes. Tab navigation. Escape to close. Enter (or click OK button) to insert command where it just was. AKA mouseless navigation. Also, I'd like to implement some kind of error checking. I'm hoping something like this will result in faster code creation with fewer errors. I've already started working on this as a "take a break from writing and formatting the API". So, that's the update. I hope to have a working beta for you guys sooner than later. Just know that I'm actively working on this every day during my free time. :) Edit 18Oct2018: I've pretty much written an entire AHK v1.1 Lexicon from the online docs. From that I've made an updated/revised ahk.api rewrite. Admittedly, I think the calltips are a bit large and I need to consider trimming them down or possibly just making a "lite" version with more minimalisitic calltips. I've created some more Cheat_Sheets. Yay! I'm currently working on updating the syntax file with the new categories I've made. This will expand what gets highlighted and allows for more color options. I've started updating TillaGoto. All the regexs for labels, hotstrings, and functions have been rewritten. Yes functions now show up! Overhauling the GUI and adding some new features. A new sort feature has been added to sort the results in the lsit box by 1) The order it was found 2) ascending order or 3) descending order. Can be seen in the screenshot below. The original colors were really bright, especially against my happy hacker theme. Screenshot of original TillaGoto. I decided to add a "dark mode". Updated TillaGoto in dark mode with the same file. Dark mode can be accessed from the new system tray icon. If anyone wants to design a neat new icon, feel free to post them. I'll let you know if I want to use it. I want to add classes to the detection list and possibly class method detection. I also want to add a tab system that will allow users to sort results by specific type. So there would be an All tab, a Function tab, a Label tab, etc... That's not everything, but it's a good chunk. With the lexicon rewrite (which I will be posting, too) and api being done, I'll be able to really focus on the changes and updates I wanted to make. Cheers.
Chapter 1; Triple Kill The Younger than Death quietly drifted on the far side of the local moon, hidden in its shadow from the sensor array this local species had somehow managed to establish in their near orbit. Socan was staring down at an enforcer drone arguing that the diminutive specimen that lay dead at his examination table between them was indeed a male. The enforcer had seen another of the specimens kill its captain with a handheld kinetic weapon. The death of the captain at the hands of the enemy for the binary-brained-made-to-order-soldier was probably hard to imagine. To then suggest the possibility that the captain’s executioner was a possibly even weaker female of a species that was half its size caused a few subroutines to turn as the primal-rage inhibitors kept the synthoid mind from imploding. The thought of ending his brother with a short trip to the air lock had crossed Socan’s mind after he had the chance to total his recent losses. The incompetence of this monument to a waste of credits that stood confused before him made him want to extend the same offer to the remaining enforcers. Still staring in disbelief at the drone, Socan now regretted going overboard when selecting all those options for its behavioral makeup. Opting for overtly aggressive and violent psychological samples from 30 different species as the base psychological template for his squad of drones was now looking like not such a good of an idea. He should have stuck to his original plan. The O-2 deprivation field he created seemed to do the trick just well enough. Once incapacitated he could have beamed the specimens back up and been heading back to the slavers. But instead he listened to his brother and bit off more than he could chew. The chances of a pre-contact non galactic species having advanced communications technology was a dream, he should not have let greed get the better of him. The payoff from discovering a new warrior class species alone was immeasurable. He could claim slaver rights under the federation contingency and retire fat on his own moon. Instead his ideas of riches were now replaced by the reality of losing 50 million credits worth of synthoids. All thanks to his brother. After some convincing Socan was able to get the synthoid idiot to separate the odd gendered soldier from the rest just in case this new specimen was capable of swarming. The last thing that Socan wanted was an incident like the one he heard took the lives of an entire crew not too many rotations ago. From what he remembered a few scavengers had gathered the credits to loan a heavy Nada-an cruiser from a thrill ride attraction in some Orion tourist trap. They had gathered word of a possible swarm world that had been the cause of the loss of a few ships in their sector. They took off for the coordinates and captured themselves a few drones from the first wreckage they came from. They must have thought they were smart by moving quickly and high-tailing it out of there. They forgot about biology and nature and all and soon had a cargo room full of drones. The hull burst at its seams. The crew wasn’t recovered until a few multi-global-corps gathered the swarming rouge hive in a radiation sweep that sterilized everything. The wreckage was said to have looked like a piece of natural art, bulging at all the seams but holding the relative shape of a ship. Socan looked down at the table; the thought of being compressed to death by a swarm of brown-pink squishy things sickened Socan. He looked at the enforcer drone as it looked at the pile of equipment that was at the feet of the specimen. Socan realized that thanks to him the stupid thing probably had some pathological obsession with war trophies. Not wanting to piss it off or break the drone again he told it to take whatever it wants and go separate the specimens. The drone took a curved black shape from the top of the pile and slid it within the wraps of armor that covered its lower torso. Socan kept an eye on it and maintained it as he watched it walk out of his examination room. Reaching out for a blade to cut open his new test subject he was sharply interrupted by an odd sound coming from a far more annoying voice. “Hu-mahn- ss” Carzan sharply stated from the entrance the drone had just passed through. It was his brother. He placed the blade down next to the pink thing fearing what he would do with it if his brother continued to speak. “They call themselves hu-mahn- ss,” Carzan continued, not noticing the blade. “They seem to be a primitive tribal warring species. Well, they are, they took out 3 of our drones within the span of 3 micro cycles.” He added. Socan shot his brother a glare that stated the obvious to him. He knew very well that they were his drones and that he alone had paid for them in full. “How much did we lose” Carzan Followed up in a less confident voice. “I, lost 50 million. You owe me 25.” Socan finally spoke. “Well you’ll like this.” Carzan tried with a lighter tone. “The O-2 negation field you erected seems to have knocked them out pretty good but no permanent damage; we still have a chance at showing them off in the fights, and after killing 50 million credits worth of galactic technology they may still stand a chance at making us some money.” Not trusting his brother Socan asked to see the footage. “Here,” Carzan said as he began loading the video on the display at the far wall of the room. “I was able to recover it from the dead drones. It’s quite impressive. This dead one on the table decapitated the lead in a pair of scouts as they rounded a corridor within the perimeter of their base.” Socan and Crazan walked from the examination table and and over to the observation screen at the far wall. The video showed a ballet of synthetic gore. The swing of the simple knife wielded by both hands of the small warrior came down with a swift motion followed by the the head of the enforcer dangling and hinging by a few inches of silver synthetic flesh, had the blade been longer it would have been a clean cut. The enforcer fell to the ground with the small warrior just barely landing on its corpse before the second enforcer kicked the diminutive hu-mahn-ss warrior across to a pile of crates dealing what looked like a killing blow. Socan didn’t like seeing how the mission had become a disaster and shot his brother a sharp uncomfortable look. “You’ll like this next part too.” Crazan quickly muttered trying to keep his brother under calm. A loud crack came off screen but close, followed by the collapse of the second enforcer. “Was that their kinetic weapon?” Socans attention bled through his sharp response. “Yes, a shoulder one I think, it’s a lot louder than the last one” Carzan said as he pointed to another section in the display, “We captured a few of both, after we transported their bodies to the holding cells; I’ve placed them in the armory so we can test them later.” The screen now showed the third enforcer that they lost entering a room with what look like an array a of computation stations. “I started this video a bit early” Carzan began, “you’ll hear the crack of the first weapon then you’ll see the one that takes out the last enforcer. We also brought onboard a few of those computation stations. They do seem to be a bit advanced when it comes to communications technology and encryption, but I haven’t had the chance to take anything apart. The rumors that we were hearing might be true.” Socans outlook on the mission was beginning to change. The screen showed the enforcer passing the threshold of the door looking at a startled lone hu-mahn-ss half way across the other end of the room. A loud muffled crack could be heard. Then the lone human in the vision of the enforcer reached for a small weapon at its hip and pointed in one swift motion directly at the enforcer; a loud crack was followed by a flash and the vitals on the screen going blank. “And after that is when your O-2 field took them out.” Carzan added. The conversation stirred the thoughts of Rambah. The sounds of recorded gunshots however brought him to his senses. He tried to think of what happened before he ended up here. He was in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan at Patrol Base Sparta, he couldn’t forget that. He had been returning from rec with a few of his new Marine buddies who were going o take over PBS for the next 18 months. Then he remembered… he remembered rounding a corner and beheading a pale, almost gray, and bald/naked Taliban that had rounded a corner with a strange but menacing looking weapon. Beyond that Rambah only remember waking up to this ceiling. Being only sure that lying still had kept him alive until now and for all else unsure of his situation he proceeded with caution and slowly opened his right eye to try to get a sight of the source of sound and voices. He could tell that the voices were distant and facing away from him. And he could tell that the language was not one he was familiar with, but seeing 7 foot tall naked slender crimson lizards was not what he was prepared to see. Knowing for sure now that he was not going to have a chance in hell in understating what they were talking about he began to look for a weapon. His equipment had been stripped, but placed at his feet. He couldn’t see his kukri but there was a silver metallic blade at his side, something that looked like surgical equipment. Forgoing his pants he grabbed the sturdy looking alien blade that was carelessly left beside him and rose from the table. He knew surprise was his best friend in a time like this. With a final tightening of the grip on his new blade the Gurkha got to work. My first attempt at sharing anything. I know my grammar is pretty shit, just wanted to get an idea out.
Part 2: A Second Helping Further Reflections On the AIR/CIA Assessment on Remote Viewing by "Mr. X" (Paul Smith)
Part 2: A Second Helping Further Reflections On the AICIA Assessment on Remote Viewing by "Mr. X" (Paul Smith) This series was written by someone intimately familiar with the various incarnations of our government's remote viewing efforts. His identity is known to Ingo as well as to me. He has stated that he will be revealing himself in the very near future, and uses the nom de plume of "Mr. X" for good (but temporary) reasons. ........ THOMAS BURGIN In Part 1 of this review I discussed some of the highlights of the AICIA report that was responsible for the demise of the STAR GATE remote viewing program. I focused primarily on the operations half of the unit. As promised, Part 2 will concentrate on the research portion of the program. As Part 1 explained, two experienced scientists were retained to do the evaluation: Dr. Jessica Utts, a nationally-known expert on statistical analysis and supporter of parapsychology research, and Dr. Ray Hyman, a professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon, and among the most widely-known skeptics of parapsychology. Utts and Hyman were to conduct a thorough review of "all laboratory experiments and meta-analytic reviews conducted as part of the research program," which amounted to about 80 reports, a number of which summarized several experiments each (p. E-2). The scientists would be assisted by a couple of AIR associates, an additional statistics consultant, and AIR's president, Dr. David Goslin. All experiments available for review were conducted over an approximate ten-year period by Dr. Ed May, who had assumed responsibility for the experimental side of the remote viewing program at SRI-International in the mid-1980's after the departure of Dr. Hal Puthoff, who had lead the program since it's founding in 1971. In the early '90s, May and his experiments moved to Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). On the surface, AIR's review of the research program is a more credible effort than was its evaluation of the operational unit. The review process was to all appearances well documented, the rationales employed seemed well thought out, and a seemingly equitable point/counterpoint format between pro-psi Utts and anti-psi Hyman adopted in an attempt to bring consensus to the differing conclusions arrived at by the two primary evaluators. However, the evaluation turned out to be nothing so much as a comedy of errors, with both sides--AIR and the STAR GATE researchers--in starring roles. To best sort out this muddled situation, we will explore the shortcomings of the research effort first, to provide a context in which to understand where AIR failed in its evaluation. The Research Program Dr. Ed May and I are on the same side on this issue, so it's not overly pleasant to have to criticize the SAIC research. Nonetheless, there are things that must be brought out to understand what really happened during the AIR review. I will begin with a brief summary of the ten experiments ultimately examined by AIR reviewers. Fortunately, Dr. Utts provided summaries in her portion of the AIR report. In the interest of space I have condensed these summaries still further, but retain the essentials: qwerty's note: Due to my inability to recreate the coming table within Reddit's formating set-up, I will write it out a little differently.
Purpose: Two-fold: (a) determine if a "sender" (i.e., someone at the site) was necessary to help the viewer access the target or if the viewer could obtain information merely by being focused on the site through a coordinate or other mechanism; (b) Determine whether "static" targets- -i.e., the photos--would be easier or harder to perceive than "dynamic" targets--i.e., short video clips. Target: Photos from the pages of National Geographic sealed in envelopes; alternatively, short video clips.
Purpose: Discover if viewers can correctly determine computer-generated "binary targets"--"Is it one or is it zero?" "Is it yes or is it no?" If so, this might lead to answering questions such as, "Is there a bomb in this building or not?" Target: A computer-driven random number generator.
Purpose: Using a magnetoencephalograph (MEG), attempt to detect anomalous brain signals of remote viewers. Target: A flashing light observed by a "sender."
Purpose: Determine if remote viewing can be used in an information-sending capacity. Target: Specially designed or chosen targets with distinct characteristics. Presence or absence of each characteristic represented either a "1" or a "0." If a characteristic was perceived and reported by the viewer, a "1" was recorded; if the characteristic was not perceived to be present, a "0" was recorded. Binary numbers could thus be constructed by tabulating presence or absence of target characteristics. If successful, information could be "sent" in a manner roughly analogous to Morse code.
Purpose: Test three novices to see if they could remote view. Target: National Geographic photos placed on a table in another room.
Purpose: Could lucid dreaming be used as a tool to enhance remote-viewing? Target: National Geographic photos contained in opaque envelopes placed next to the bed where person was attempting to achieve a "lucid dreaming" state.
Purpose: Determine if a person becomes "physiologically aware" of being watched, even though he/she is not consciously aware of being watched. Target: The subject him/ herself. He/she is seated in a room with a video camera aimed at him/her. Galvanic skin response was then measured to determined if it increased during periods of observation.
Purpose: Using an electroencephalograph (EEG), attempt to identify interruptions in alpha brain- waves when a remote viewing target is flashed on a computer screen in another room.
Purpose: Determine if viewers could describe a target briefly displayed on a computer monitor. This is the remote viewing portion of Experiment 8. Target: Target (not further described in the report, but perhaps the aforementioned video clips) was displayed briefly on a computer CRT in another room.
Purpose: An improved version of Experiment 1. An equal number of static and dynamic targets were employed, no "senders" were used, and all attempts were done at SAIC in California, instead of from the participants homes, as was the case with Target: Selections from a pool of various photos and video clips. [Summaries were excerpted from pp. 3-33 to 3-41 of the AIR report.] As listed in the AIR report, the three assigned missions of the STAR GATEaffiliated research program were to: (1) Demonstrate through scientific experiment the existence of the remote viewing phenomenon; (2) Determine the cause and effect mechanism through which the phenomenon functions; and (3) Explore methods and techniques to enhance the operational effectiveness of the phenomenon [p. 2-1]. These goals, incidentally, were essentially unchanged from the days of the GRILL FLAME effort, as enumerated in a report I recently saw dating from 1977. Let us evaluate these experiments in terms of the three stated missions of the research effort--in effect, the intended purpose for which research money had originally been appropriated. Mission 1: Demonstrate Existence of the Remote Viewing Phenomenon As designed, seven of the SAIC experiments would provide useful support to the existence of the remote viewing phenomenon, and one would have been of marginal value. Two would not have given useful support in demonstrating the RV phenomenon. Experiment 3 (which was unsuccessful because of faulty experiment construction) might have been of marginal value but would not in itself have provided unambiguous support for the existence of RV. Had this experiment been a success, any anomalous brain signals detected might still have been the artifact of some other common element in the viewers' experiences, backgrounds, or training. However, isolating and identifying the signal might ultimately have led to useful information which could potentially provide later support to the existence of RV. Experiment 2, which focused on computer-generated "binary" targets, might demonstrate a paranormal effect, but not in the sense of classic remote viewing. The experiment's results may actually display some sort of "dowsing" effect (though some would argue that RV and dowsing are but different sides to the same coin), or perhaps even a psychokinetic (PK) effect, since it would be difficult to determine if the viewer were merely anticipating the correct answer, or in some way influencing the number generation process. Experiment 7 could be useful in demonstrating the existence of some sort of paranormal linking effect between observed and observer. But the experiment would not have been useful in supporting the existence of remote viewing. No useable information could be transferred across space and/or time using the demonstrated effect. Mission 2: Determine Cause and Effect Relationship None of the SAIC experiments, even when successful, would have provided any substantial answers to the cause-and-effect relationship for the remote viewing phenomenon. Only Experiments 3 and 8 would have provided even marginal information bearing on cause-and-effect, and they would have merely demonstrated an anomalous effect without identifying a causal linkage. Mission 3: Develop More Effective RV Operations Methods Because of their design, seven of the SAIC experiments could have provided no benefit whatsoever in developing new or better operational methods or techniques. Experiment 2 showed potential, were it to lead to a reliable "yes/no" selection technique. However, the experiment only involved trying to "second-guess" a machine. A real-world binary problem, such as, "Is Gen. Dozier in Italy?" or "Will Hezbollah attack the Statue of Liberty tomorrow?" involves much different selection mechanisms than tapping a computer key, is of much different psychic texture than "0"s and "1"s, and has far greater ultimate consequences--and therefore dramatically greater emotional loading in the viewing process--than do yes-or-no type questions on a computer. Experiment 4, an attempt to use RV to transmit coded information by identifying specific characteristics of a target, uses remote viewing not as an intelligence collection tool, but as a communications method. This would by definition be of no use for operational RV; however, if such a communications ability could be reliably developed, it would have great utilitarian value--to include undetectable transmission of intelligence from a denied area. As explored in Experiment 6, lucid dreaming might possibly provide added value to the remote viewing process (though I personally have my doubts). Therefore, this experiment at least had the potential to benefit operational remote viewing. When we tabulate the results, this is what we find:
1 - Proof of phenomenon
2 - Determine cause/effect
3 - Operations enhancement
By far the majority of the ten experiments focus on proving the existence of the phenomenon--the first mission. The other two missions were essentially ignored. In fact, one experiment-- determining whether someone is physiologically aware of being watched--is interesting from a parapsychology standpoint, but has almost nothing to do with remote viewing (one individual prominent in RV research did suggest that the experiment might be a preliminary step toward determining if one could be aware of being targeted by a remote viewer). Another three experiments-- numbers 2, 3, and 4--are only indirectly related to RV, particularly RV as an intelligence collection tool. The research program's first error was fundamental--it failed to evenly address all aspects of this three-fold mission, concentrating instead almost exclusively on the first of the specified goals. This would have been forgivable, had the program indeed successfully proved beyond any doubt the existence of remote viewing as a paranormal phenomenon. However, as demonstrated by Ray Hyman's conclusion that something was happening, but it was too early to assume it was psi [pp. 3-75, 3-76], this goal eluded the program. To be fair, this effect was certainly amplified by AIR efforts (discussed below) to "stack the deck" against STAR GATE. Nonetheless, the whole research emphasis was generally out of sync with the stated purpose of the STAR GATE effort. Perhaps the rationale was something like this: "Until we can prove the existence of the phenomenon, there's no point in trying to establish the cause-and-effect; and if these first two questions aren't answered, it seems pointless as well to bother much about how to enhance the operational effectiveness of something we haven't proved to exist, nor know how it works." At any rate, the bulk of the experiments focused on trying to convincingly demonstrate an effect, and few went beyond that decidedly preliminary step. While statistically, at least, some remarkable effects were demonstrated, both Utts, the supporter, and Hyman, the skeptic agree that nothing irrefutably conclusive was proven. Utts believed that the effects nonetheless demonstrated the strong possibility of a psi-based effect. Hyman and the AIR researchers concluded there was not enough evidence to say even that. Would the results have been better had May concentrated more on true RV experiments, and tried more concertedly to address the other two missions? The answer to this is a qualified yes. Notably, the experiments more closely approaching a classical remote-viewing model were the most successful, with Experiment 10 producing quite impressive results. Those which departed most from the model tended to be the least conclusive. Additionally, had more experiments been designed to enhance operational methods or develop new techniques, they would in and of themselves have provided additional proof for existence of the phenomenon. If RV technique gets good enough to work nearly every time, producing solid information under a variety of conditions, the phenomenon is essentially proved-- accomplishing two of the research missions for the price of one. (As they say, nothing succeeds like success.) Cause-and-effect research would, however, have been less productive. Of course, if in some brilliant moment of discovery a verifiable causal relationship were found and demonstrated, the skeptics would have to retreat. But such an event is highly unlikely. Thus far, there is not even a worthwhile hypothesis as to what the phenomenon is in terms of the "physical" world--if it even has such a connection (though there are one or two interesting ideas waiting in the wings to emerge). We do have a pretty good idea what the basic nature of remote viewing is NOT: It is unlikely to be electro-magnetic in any sense, as demonstrated by the successful remote viewings done in electromagnetically shielded Faraday cages, or those which are precognitive or retrocognitive, seemingly in violation of the accepted laws of physics which radio waves or other electromagnetic phenomena obey. Since we have no other good candidate to account for information transmission of the nature and quality good remote viewing produces, we are pretty much left in the dark as to where to start. It makes far more sense to work on practical applications and leave the fundamental underpinnings for those with more time, money, and no need to answer to a house full of skeptics. Regrettably, the wavering focus of the SAIC effort was inadequate for fair assessment of remote viewing in its own right. I should point out here that the experimental focus was not entirely up to Dr. May and his team. Representatives for a contracting agency write the statement of work and draft the contract that specifies what will be done in the course of the research. A review of the DIA contracts shows that much of the work performed at SAIC was indeed specified by the DIA representative. Still, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes give-and-take before the formal document is drafted, and the government representative must rely heavily on the expertise and advice of the contractor in the process of deciding what can or should be done in the course of the contract. Further, there is an added degree of flexibility built into the contract to allow researchers to explore promising directions that may not necessarily have been foreseen during the original contracting process. This flexibility is necessary and desireable to allow examination of serendipitous discoveries or unforseen effects, but it is also a point vulnerable to exploitation by researchers with their own agendas to pursue. Ultimately, both parties share responsibility for the direction a research program takes, right or wrong. As an additional consideration, the SAIC work was a follow- on to previous research done via a still-classified connection with an agency which mandated more generalized research. Remote viewing was only one of several phenomena to be explored. PK, for example, was always of interest in prior research programs and, as the random number generation experiment shows, some vestiges of interest may have remained in the SAIC experiments. This interest in general parapsychology seems to have bled over into the DIA/SAIC remote viewing research. May's broader-ranging experimental focus did produce some interesting and perhaps even ultimately useful research. Unfortunately, there was not a more rigorous attempt made to route the SAIC research further away from this general focus and concentrate more intently on what should have been STAR GATE's RV-centered research agenda. Ultimately, the overlyeclectic approach increased vulnerability to pointed criticism which Ray Hyman and AIR were only too eager to provide. In fact Dr. Hyman does give lip service to Ed May's difficulties in not being "free to run the program to maximize scientific payoff," because May was required to "do experiments and add variables to suit the desires of his sponsors," resulting in "an attempt to explore too many questions with too few resources. . . The scientific inquiry was spread too thin." (3- 46) Of course, as just mentioned, there was much room for negotiation in the contracting process, and May could certainly have argued for a more narrow focus. The evidence suggests it was more the other way around. In fact, several people in a position to know have suggested that Dr. May saw the RV research contracts as an opportunity to explore some of his own parapsychological interests at the same time as pursuing the official purposes for which the research was contracted. However that may be, Hyman's gratuitous comments are no exoneration in this matter. If Hyman recognized the eclectic nature of the research AIR was to evaluate, he is certainly well- qualified enough as a scientist to realize that the limited numbers of experiments were inadequate to answer the question EITHER WAY as to whether or not remote viewing had any efficacy as an intelligence collection tool. That Hyman persisted (as discussed below) in pretending that they did seems intellectually dishonest. Protocols The bias in favor of wider parapsychology research was not the only problem with the SAIC experiments, however. Curiously, May and his colleagues seem to have followed rather anachronistic procedures in conducting even the experiments which were more purely remote viewing in character. My first quarrel is with the target pool. Remote viewing, both experimentally and operationally, has been pursued for more than two decades. While a lot has been learned, some of the most valuable data--that accumulated by the operational RV unit in its various incarnations--has hardly been considered in the research process. The operational data set includes brilliant successes that point to improved ways of doing things, as well as ignominious failures which can be just as instructive. There was a fair amount of well-structured experimentation at Ft. Meade in targeting and cuing methods, RV data documentation and analysis, accessing target details, and so forth. Unfortunately, the operations activity was kept mostly separate from the research program until after the 1992 transition to STAR GATE, and even then the connection existed primarily to provide subjects for some of the SAIC experiments. The vast database from the Ft. Meade unit of thousands of documented sessions-- both training and operational--remains largely un-mined. One pronounced difference between RV targeting in the SAIC research effort and that in operations was that operations focused on "live" targets, while the SAIC experiments used two- dimensional images, both static photographs (pictures gleaned from the pages of National Geographic) and short, live-action video clips. The thinking at SRI was that the video clips might provide increased "change" values, adding variety to the target material, perhaps making it easier for viewers to detect and report. Similarly, photos were selected that displayed significant "change in entropy"--that is, contrast and variety in shapes and in color and value patterns that again theoretically would make detection and reporting easier. In comparison, daily operational remote viewing missions at Ft. Meade accessed targets in real time "on the ground" (or water, or whatever), not in a photograph. What photos that were provided were not used as targets, but only for later feedback or to guide analysts. There was plenty of evidence that the operational viewers were indeed accessing the sites themselves and not merely the feedback folders (in operations, feedback was usually pretty lean and sporadic anyway). When a viewer accurately describes several significant structural or functional details that are completely lacking from feedback packages yet which are later confirmed to be at the site, it becomes obvious very quickly that "real" remote viewing is occurring. This literally happened scores, even hundreds of times. However, at Ft. Meade there was some experimentation with photos as actual targets. This was conducted both as an in-house training exercise, and at one or two other times as part of one of the rare instances when the operations unit was asked to participate long-distance in an SRI experimental series during the mid-to-late '80s. Across the board operational viewer results dropped off when targeted against "static" photographic targets. At the time, video clips were not avalable as an option (or so I presume, as participating viewer received only terse feedback), so I can render no judgement as to whether they would have been more effective. Indeed, to a remote viewer accustomed to accessing actual sites in fourdimensional space, a static photograph is not a representation of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor or Mount Pinatubo during an eruption. It is in reality only a colored piece of paper in a manila envelope. It's not surprising that results from operational viewers suffer when targeted under such circumstances. To be sure, an experienced viewer CAN access a photograph-- the positive results of several of the SAIC's experimental RV sessions demonstrate this. But if the focus had been on "real"-- and therefore naturally dynamic--sites as opposed to two- dimensional representations, May and his colleagues might not have had to bother about testing the use of "dynamic" moving images (the videos) to provide greater change and variety to improve remote viewer detection; or about mapping the "change in entropy" of the static images to enhance researchers' ability to decode viewer results, as was done for these experiments. Perhaps there were experimental control reasons why such a fixed target pool was desired. In my mind, however, the drawbacks far outweigh the possible benefits. Another troublesome aspect of at least one of the SAIC experiments was the apparent need to experiment further with "senders"--individuals sent to the target site to act as a "beacon" or a "transmitter" for the remote viewer. Indeed, one of the stated purposes of the experiment was to determine if a "sender" was necessary. Senders and beacons were used in the early SRI experiments, and continued to be used for beginner trainees at Ft. Meade, simply as a way of providing a connection with the site that the novice viewer could easily grasp. Both at SRI and Ft. Meade, however, the need for senders in advanced remote viewings was surpassed long ago. The introduction of coordinates as a targeting mechanism, and later (to avoid any hint of contamination) encrypted coordinates, made senders/beacons obsolete. No degradation in response quality resulted, and in fact, accuracy seemed even to be enhanced. The encrypted coordinates provided the added benefit of defusing one of the most popular (if improbable) criticisms of coordinate-cued RV--that some viewer might just "memorize" what was at the end of all the geographic coordinates in the world, and cheat. The need for beacon or sender was already discounted by the late '70s and early '80s, and was certainly well established at the time Ed May took over as primary researcher. Though the sendebeacon personnel were dispensed with later in the SAIC ten-experiment sequence, it was puzzling why the researchers felt the need to thus "reinvent the wheel" at the start. In the end, the main problem with the SAIC experiments was not that they were particularly poor experiments, but that they should have been better. More importantly, the experiments could--and really should--have focused more particularly on remote viewing, guided by the three missions that Congress had decreed when earmarking funds for the program. As it was, the primary consequence of the SAIC program was to provide a very tempting strawman for the AIR bull (at the behest of the CIA) to gore and trample, hoodwinking the general public into believing that AIR had a live matador at its mercy. In reality, the matador wasn't even in town. But now, after I have spent several pages "blaming the victim," it's time to turn my attention to the perpetrator. (To Be Concluded) Copyright 1996, Paul Smith All Reddit-based formatting done by u/qwertyqyle
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