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Online gambling legislation and regulation. Starting your own gambling product.

Online gambling legislation and regulation. Starting your own gambling product.

Mobile gambling
If you plan to develop an app with the ability to deposit and withdraw real money, then such a product automatically falls into the category of gambling and you will need to license your business for successful operation.
Mobile and Web Based Apps
So let’s talk about the different kinds of online gambling apps available on web and mobile. We’ll be covering both free-play gaming apps and real money casino app games you can find for iOS, Android devices and web browsers.
Mobile gambling is more common for poker, casino, bingo, and skill games. They have advantages in terms of a low barrier to enter the market, instant liquidity, product knowledge, and marketing expertise, minimal infrastructure costs, and the ability to bring a brand to the market quickly. Consequently, this form of gambling does not sit neatly with jurisdictional boundaries. Multiple gambling opportunities are available, including betting on various events and markets, in a relatively simple format. Gambling products can also be integrated into betting on television shows or virtual racing and sports games as well as offering lotteries, bingo, poker and casino games.
Most Popular Gambling Apps
Sports betting, casino, poker and lotteries are the most popular forms of online gambling. However, other forms are available too. These include the following: Bingo, slot machines, different card games, roulette and other game of chance. One of the best things about online gambling and betting apps is the number of choices you have.

Sports Betting

Betting means making or accepting a bet on the outcome of a race, competition, or other event or process, the likelihood of anything occurring or not occurring, or whether anything is or is not true. Today most sports betting is done via mobile-friendly sites and apps.
Today most sports betting is done via mobile-friendly sites and apps.
The introduction of live betting for sports like soccer and tennis means that bettors who are sitting inside stadiums watching games can now pick up their mobile devices and find real-time betting value with the best sports gambling apps. This has really unlocked a door to the future of sports gambling and the popularity of online gambling apps.

Poker

Many sites offer free poker, where no real money is wagered, although in some cases players can accumulate credits that can be exchanged for prizes. This is the case why people are going to play for real money. There is an ongoing debate over whether poker should be classified as a game of chance or skill. The parameters of legal poker playing are still unclear and differ between jurisdictions. Since you are not gambling with money, I’m pretty sure under the law it’s just a video game for now.

Blackjack

Blackjack is the game of choice to many high-rollers and do you know why? Because blackjack is a challenging, logic and skill-based game where your thinking, strategy, and calculations determine the outcome of the game.

Bingo

Bingo is one of the most popular and socially accepted games in the world. Bingo is a traditional form of gambling that has seen considerable innovation in recent years. It is also the only form of gambling recognized in the Gambling Act that does not have a specific statutory definition, the Act providing simply that “bingo” means “any version of that game, irrespective of by what name it is described”. Bingo must be played as an equal chance game. For game to be classed as “bingo” it must meet the Act’s definition of “equal chance gaming” (as opposed to casino gaming). Thus, it: must not involve playing or staking against a bank, and must be a game in which the chances are equally favorable to all participants in the sense that each ticket or chance has the same probability of success as any other.
Licensed bingo is a well-regulated and socially responsible form of gambling that takes place in a safe environment. Many sites offer multiple forms of bingo with different features, types of games, and costs of play. These sites often cater specifically for women and some research suggests that they may appeal to markets who would not typically engage in traditional forms of gambling.

Slots

Slot machine is one of the most beloved game among the gambling community and it has been a part of the industry for a long time. They provide fun and entertainment and their simplicity allows gamers to start playing at once. This can play out in different ways depending on the machine you’re playing. For instance, there’s Pick a Fortune, a five-reel, 20 line game that puts players right in the studio of a television game show, including the potential to play a Deal or No Deal-style bonus round. A super trend over the past few years is mobile-friendly slot games. These apps and websites were developed to enable players to enjoy their favorite games on their smartphones at any time. Another dominant slot trend is licensed branded slots that are based on popular movies, television, and musicians.
Virtual Money vs Real Money
Let’s find out the difference between social gambling and real money gambling, as well as the differences between gambling through apps and gambling through a web browser. It can be quite confusing trawling through all the casinos, slots, and lotteries available, both through your mobile web browser as well as through mobile app stores, in the form of downloadable apps.

Virtual money

The main difference between virtual money and real money gambling is that the in-game virtual currency in social games and gambling-type games is used only like credits that are not paid out as winnings or anything given to player in cash, making these games exempt from gambling regulations.
Virtual money is loaded on user game accounts via in-app purchases in mobile applications or the game balance funding from a card via web based applications.

Real money gambling

Real money gambling via your mobile device is only allowed in countries where laws have been passed that allow for this type of gambling online, or there are no laws in place that prevent it. The payment systems are the legal way of services payment in the gambling app, performing as the intermediary between the gambling facility and the client. With their help, users replenish deposits and withdraw funds to personal accounts in financial institutions. If the application uses the payment system of a well-known brand, that gives players additional confidence in the resource. Nowadays, there is a wide range of payment systems, some of which operate all over the world, other systems are oriented towards the citizens of one or several countries. A number of services accept money of different world currencies, while others allow currency transactions of one state only.
What is an Online Gambling Licensing
The internet has a global audience, there’s no single piece of legislation that covers the legality of online gambling for the entire world. Mobile gambling doesn’t typically accept customers from every single country in the world. It often focuses on certain specific regions.
Instead, most countries have their own local laws that deal with the relevant legal and regulatory issues.
Ultimately, questions of legality all go back to the location of the casino or where the website operates out of. In closed regulatory systems, such as Italy, France, and the Netherlands, licenses, and advertising rights are limited to domestic providers, which must be located within their country’s geographical boundaries and these are only permitted to offer some types of products. Some jurisdictions, for example, Norway, Sweden, and Canada legalize and regulate online gambling, but this is limited to a single site that is owned by the government. Under such an approach, the government becomes the operator and regulator and all revenues are returned to the government.
Remote gambling is generally permitted. That means that an operator that is licensed may provide gambling services to citizens in the country via all forms of remote communication (and using equipment that may be located in the country or abroad). Equally, a remote operator may be licensed to offer gambling services to citizens in any jurisdiction in the world using equipment located in the country. The law provides that, for each type of gambling (betting, gaming, and participating in a lottery), there will be two forms of license available: remote and non-remote forms (land-based). If you provide facilities for remote gambling, online or through other means, and advertise to consumers you will need a license from the licensing jurisdictions or local licensing authorities. Before an online gambling site signs up its first customer, before it accepts its first bet before the first card is dealt, it must be licensed by a recognized governmental entity.
Certain regions in the world have specific legislation in place that allows them to license and regulate companies that operate online gambling sites or provide industry services (such as the supply of gaming software). These regions are referred to as online gambling jurisdictions or licensing jurisdictions.
Depending on what type of entertainment you are going to implement in your internet establishment, you will have to apply for the corresponding permissions. Online gambling laws in Europe vary from one country to the next. The industry is well regulated in some countries and less so in others. There are several online gambling jurisdictions located in Europe. Some of these are members of the European Union (EU), and thus subject to the various rules and regulations of that body, while others are independent. Each of these jurisdictions has an authority that’s responsible for approving gambling sites for licenses that enable them to offer their services legally. They also regulate their licensees.
Countries that Provide Gambling Licensing
Today there are lots of licensing jurisdictions located all over the world and offering different terms for their customers. Depending on the country, licenses can be local, international (distributed in several countries), have a different set of documents for registration, costs of registration and further support, various operating conditions and other special details.

Which gambling license is both internationally recognized?

The government of Ireland offers casino operators, software, and service providers in the gambling industry, with a gambling license that allows gambling operators to conduct business related to casino, lotto, and other gaming-related activities. Ireland Gambling License is one of the most popular license for online casinos worldwide. Ireland has long been recognized as one of the preferred locations for Online Gambling operators to base their operations. This success has been due to a combination of factors, such as a progressive legislative system, political stability, first-rate telecommunications facilities, and a well established financial services industry. A wide range of gambling sites operates out of Ireland including sports betting, casino sites, poker, bingo, and more.
In stark contrast, the UK is the largest regulated market for online gambling in the world, and corporations are already comfortable exploiting the intersections of gambling and gaming, betting in-play, social gaming, Bitcoin, financial trading and spread betting, betting exchanges, e-sports and, most profitably, mobile gambling. 40% and 60% of online gambling in the UK took place in Gibraltar.

International licensing

Europe is home to the following online gambling jurisdictions: Alderney, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Malta. Malta is currently the country that is most accommodating to gambling companies, and the license offers whitelisted online gambling in sports and casino games in many European territories. But takes an extreme amount of time in paperwork and background checks. Also, you pay 5% of all your gross profit to the EU.
Among countries offering gambling licensing services, the attention should be paid to Curaçao jurisdiction, which is considered to be one of the most promising for the online gaming business.
Curaçao Internet Gaming Association (also known as Curaçao eGaming) is both a regulator and a licensor, and its licensing works worldwide except Curaçao itself, USA, France and Netherlands. Using Curacao as an example, let us examine in detail the process of obtaining a license, the necessary documents and expenses.
How to get a License on Curaçao
  • Documents necessary for company registration:
  • criminal record;
  • passport scans;
  • bank account confirmation;
  • documents proving payments for utility services.
After the company is registered, an operator can apply for the license providing the following documents:
  • a document certifying the right of domain possession;
  • description of games planned to be used in the project;
  • a list indicating countries of potential operation;
  • illustration of server locations to be used in the project;
  • a copy of the agreement with a software provider.
Gambling license cost:
  • Bank account opening $1000
  • Company registration $3600
  • Company management per year $3600
  • Application processing fee $1000
  • License fee per year $4800
  • Equipment/software fee starting from $1500
  • Server maintenance per year $6000
Apart from that pay for technical support and maintenance every year. The entire license issuing process takes between 2-4 weeks. Curacao Internet Gaming Association (CIGA) also has the power to review a license and, if it finds that an operator has breached a license condition, has the power to impose a range of sanctions including revocation of the license.
Apple and Google Gambling Rules
You’ll be surprised at the limited number of real money gambling app options available on the AppStore and Google Play Store. Most real money casino gaming is done through gambler’s mobile web browsers and not through mobile gambling apps that you’ll find for iPhone and Android phones. Apple allows online gambling applications in a few forms, and not just in places where it is explicitly permitted. They do not allow any payments through the applications – those have to be done on the websites. Apple has far stricter developer guidelines for iOS apps than Google does for Android apps, so it’s fine to assume that whatever you choose to download from iTunes is usually safe, secure, and meets a certain standard.
Any real money casino in the iTunes app is required to have proper licensing and permissions before Apple will approve the app for use or downloads. While Google Play is technically regulated, it is much more loose in what can be hosted.

Apple Store

Gambling, gaming, and lotteries can be tricky to manage and tend to be one of the most-regulated offerings on the App Store. Apple has rules for apps that support real money wagering, including sports betting and poker. Those apps and lotteries must have necessary licensing and permissions in the locations where the App is used, must be geo-restricted to those locations, and must be free on the App Store, and Apple rate even simulated gambling apps as appropriate only for users 17-years-old and up.

Play Store

Google keeps the reigns tight. To be able to successfully upload apps to the Google Play store, developers need to have a valid license for the specific countries they are targeting and comply with their regulations. The app must be free to download and must prevent under-age users from gambling in the app. As a final precaution, all gambling apps are required to display prominent information regarding responsible gambling practices. This brings its policy in line with the Apple App Store.
Countries where gambling is illegal
It is also important to remember that while gambling is growing rapidly in many places, in others it is totally or partially prohibited. As well as in the majority of the US, sports betting is illegal in India, Pakistan, and China, three of the largest gambling markets in the world. Most countries have rules against gambling. Almost all Islamic countries prohibit gambling of every kind, but many turn a blind eye to online gambling or simply do not have regulations in place for this grey area.
In the United Arab Emirates, however, any kind of gambling is prosecuted. National lotteries are the only legal forms of wagering on the Asian country’s mainland. Cambodia, North Korea strictly forbids online and offline gambling amongst its own citizens but allows tourists to participate in these activities.
Qatar is the strictest country of all when it comes to gambling laws. All forms of gambling activities are considered illegal, and even sports betting is not permissible.
Starting your own gambling product
Numerous online casino platforms in the market offer fantastic casino games like bingo, poker, roulette, and many more.
If you have an idea, but don’t know where to start, we advise you begin with a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) to pilot your proof of concept for investors. MVP spotlights your core features and lets your investors know there are bigger and better things to come.
For MVP you do not need a large team, just a few people are enough to create a fully functioning prototype. In the case of successful numbers of your prototype, the further development of a full-fledged product will require more team, resources and time, however you will be sure that your development and your costs will pay off.
submitted by Fgfactory_ua to gamedev [link] [comments]

Legacy Pt 2

Source: https://www.bungie.net/en/News/Article/48825

CONTINGENCY

EN ROUTE: URANUS – CAELUS STATION
OUTER BAND — LOCATION INCONCLUSIVE
“I was able to pull some data from those Exo samples.” Jinju perches on the cockpit dashboard. Two tech mites crawl over her shell.
Their jump-ship plummets through fractalescent polychrome luge, ripping across the sable pitch of space at blistering speed.
Ana leans back in her pilot seat, one knee pulled to her chest. She watches strands of shimmer bend around the hull. A bobble-owl jiggles along as the ship shivers, underneath it: Camrin, in frame.
“Hit me.” Her eyes turn to Jinju.
“I couldn’t completely narrow it down, but they’re definitely from the Golden Age, circa the Collapse.”
Jinju continues, “I’ve been going through the Pillory mainframe download. Those stations are meant to split Rasputin’s mind up in the event that he became… uh… insubordinate.”
“That’s disgusting.”
“ECHO appears to have been a contingency program that activates afterward. They also had a cornerstone schematic of his brain.”
Light static fuzzes from bubble speakers on Ana’s dash. Her helmet hangs on a hook behind her; Rasputin’s uplink is offline.
Ana chews on the information for a moment. “A foundational brain model would help with containment stability after the partitioning process. It’s like a front porch for your brain.”
“It… goes on.” Jinju continues, “Your name is cross-referenced all over this, Ana. Neural Web-way. Psycholinguistics. Exo brain maps with candidate profiles. It looks like Clovis Bray was syncing Rasputin’s basic core with viable hosts.”
“Oh.” Ana’s mind races. “For what though? Drop him into containment and clone him? Pretty elaborate restart button. I guess with an Exo you could also make some pretty potent AI with more limiters than a Warmind.”
Jinju processes. “Hm. Nothing conclusive here.”
Ana turns her gaze back to the stars. “It would be terrible to be buried like that—trapped in pieces of your own mind. You wouldn’t even know who you were anymore. Where you start, and where other versions of you end.”
“Speaking of, the Clovis—9 site is ‘78% assimilated into his sovereignty.'” Jinju distorts her voice as Warmind facsimile. “He’s so dramatic about it.”
Ana brightens as she laughs. “You remember how Camrin would always impersonate him?”
“He did not appreciate that, but it was funny.” Jinju cheeps lightly. “Is she still buried in work from the Moon?”
“Hole opened up to the Black Garden. Pyramid. Creepy signals. Raining Vex. You think Owl Sector could help themselves from getting involved?”
“I heard rumors through the Ghost-vine about the Pyramid. They said it steals your shell. Lives there, like another you. They said it makes you do things.” Jinju pauses. Her iris flicks to Ana’s raised eyebrow. “Not helping?”
“Let’s just change the subject.”
Jinju squirms awkwardly. “You’ll see her soon.”
“I know.”
“They’re working directly with Ikora. She’s safe.”
“I know…”
Warm-tone reassurance trickles into the cabin through Ana’s helmet receiver.
“I KNOW. WHEN DID YOU EVEN GET HERE, RED?” Ana aggressively huffs in exasperation.
Tech mites traverse Jinju like a jungle gym. One dangles precariously from a shell flap. “Guess who’s there too.”
“How do you know this, and I don’t?”
“Ghost-vine. It’s Eris Morn. She’s working with the Guardian.”
“Eris?” Ana scoffs. “She’s not much of a conversationalist so the two of them should get along just fine.” She gestures to the mites. “Do you really want those crawling all over you?”
“Their names are Pho and Deim, and I love them.” Jinju coddles her mites. “Besides, it’s like Cam’s with us in spirit, right?”
Ana chuckles and scratches her brow before raising a fist in solidarity. “She is. To the brim.”
The shimmer surrounding the jump-ship jitters before abruptly smashing into empty space. Ana leans forward and looks out into the void.
“Um… where’s the planet?” She slowly rolls her head around the cockpit.
They drift through space on placid waves of nothing toward a distant nowhere. The vast luminous twinkle of the Milky Way plays out in panorama, though gloom-speckle pinholes prick gaps in the starry sea. The absence from them directly apparent to Ana’s eye like rays of darkness from a black sun through shear cosmic sheet.
Jinju perks up, internal sensors suddenly askew. “Something nabbed us right out of our jump. We’re off course by…” Jinju calculates, “…three AU?”
“What!?” Ana manually scans the trajectory equations in the nav-computer. “There’s nothing wrong with the math.”
||JUMP-DRIVE ERROR: MISALIGNMENT|| squawks on bubble speakers.
“Little late.”
Tart synesthetic tickle creeps red and patient. Low and pressing, as not to be heard by those that might be listening.
“Relax. I know we’re off course, but it’s not that far… relatively speaking.” Ana scrunches her face at a nav-screen as it’s overtaken by interference. “Okay, I can’t see where we are. Hang on.”
A slow wrinkle skulks across space. It presses up the fabric. Insignificant points between stars warp and spur small disturbances in the constellational congruence of the galaxy. From afar it is nothing. A flutter of wings in wind.
“It’s dark out here.” Jinju’s voice is distant as she peers outside. Beyond the canopy an expanse without horizon.
“That’s when the stars shine brightest, Jinju. Find a constellation for me so we can get our bearings.”
||GRAVITATIONAL WAVE ANOMALY DETECTED: JUMP-REALIGNMENT REQUIRED||
“Way ahead of you, ship.” Ana checks jump vectors and flicks through alignment procedures. Mav thrusters sputter to orient the ship toward Sol. Ana test-cycles the jump-drive. It revs and then chokes before locking.
||GRAVITATIONAL WAVE ANOMALY DETECTED: JUMP HAZARD—LOCATION INCONCLUSIVE, CLEAR HAZARD||
“Okay, that’s not a comforting thing to hear.” Ana deploys a sensory buoy from the ship.
Rasputin stings and pricks red iron. Steady pressure. With localized insistence.
“Feel’s strange.” Jinju is distant. “We should go.”
Ana initiates recalibrations on the jump-drive’s positioning solution. “There’s definitely some weird space out there.”
||GRAVITATIONAL WAVE ANOMALY DETECTED||
The ship lurches. Ana’s stomach churns. Jinju vibrates violently in place, an outer shell of Light absorbing some form of force.
Red iron needles whistle tea-kettle pressure in white anxiety from Ana’s helmet.
Cloaked Shadows shift through the vacuum an eternity away and all too close; shown only when they wish to, to only whom they want.
Ana swallows to settle her stomach. “What even was that? Did we move?”
“Leave. Now please. Ana.” Jinju presses against the glass of the canopy, peering outward.
||SYSTEM REALIGNMENT: SOLUTION SECURED||
“There it is. I’ve got a jump-lock.”
||GRAVITATIONAL WAVE ANOMALY DETECTED||
“Again? Then we’re riding this one out of here.” Ana eye-balls adjustments for the gravitational wave into the nav-computer. “Punching jump in 3… 2… 1…”
They slip between folds in space. Formless wake propels them. The ship rides through sub-space at speeds far exceeding her jump-drive's capability. Color dulls in the slipstream. Frisson electrifies Ana's senses into timeless euphoria. The nose of the cockpit stretches ahead, drawn toward some distant vanishing point. She struggles to keep the flight stick straight. Her motions seem small, inconsequential and all too slow within the wave. Fluctuant pockets of drag flex and buck, threatening to throw them off into the unknown. The cockpit twists around her, indicator lights blink in metronomic sequence—purpose and pigment slowly materializing in her mind.
Hull integrity failing. "Not yet."
||COLLISION: BOW, CELESTIAL BODY DETECTED, AUTO-DROP FAILED||
Ana steadies her mind. She force-cancels the jump, seizing the drive and dumping them out into space before thrusters burn to steady them again.
Their emergence is dwarfed by a stratospheric colossus.
Uranus hangs, a daiquiri pearl set in tilted rings.
A grin overtakes Ana’s face. “Nailed it.”
Pale blue gleam inundates the canopy with planetary light. Ana plots an approach to the station. The trio slow burn forward, each silently collecting their faculties. Ahead: tiny beacons blip red. Satellite silhouettes take form out of the planet’s zealous glare. Instrument spokes jut from their polygonal chassis like old-war depth charges itching to trigger.
“Those are Warsats.” Jinju breaks the silence, eager to shift her mode of thought far from weird space and gravity waves.
“Finally, some luck," Ana says with relief. "I bet we can daisy-chain Rasputin into the station’s network through the defense system.”
“Oh, they’re powering up. Maybe we—”
Horns of responsive distortion roll across the cabin like a stress wave. Rasputin’s alert pings litter the canopy HUD.
“Brace!”
Ana pushes hard on the flight stick and reflexively dives under a barrage of laser fire. Nose thrusters roar vibration through her hands as she cuts to guide the ship vertical and tumbles into a barrel roll, slipping around follow-up bursts. A bolt skims shallow across her starboard side: ricochet. Shockwave tremors reverberate through the hull.
“Red, ping all incoming fire vectors! Jinju, arm the spikes!”
Plates split open along the belly of the ship. A drum-launcher of six Warspikes rolls out as Jinju links into the launcher's gunnery apparatus. Indicators blare onto the canopy HUD. Jinju sends two Warspikes straight into the first of fifteen Warsats blocking their path as Ana nudges the ship between incoming laser bursts.
Two spiked Warsats cease fire as their automated defense protocols are overridden, security software utterly failing to halt Rasputin’s invasive assimilation. They come back online—spikes blending into spokes—and swivel to gun down the closest still-hostile targets.
The assimilated twin Warsats thrust to reposition into a shield for Ana and Jinju as they close distance. Crimson flare shines around the Warsat shield as lasers chisel into them. Ana watches HUD pings for an opening between incoming bursts. She finds half a moment and burns hard on the main engine, then toggles full power to maneuvering thrusters to sling the ship under Rasputin’s shield and open a lane for Jinju.
Jinju unleashes four more spikes. They strike true. Rasputin spreads digital plague through the Warsat’s frameworks with each skewering hit. He demands subservience. Laser fire tears through space in all directions as Ana cuts between dueling satellites and rolls to evade overlapping firing arcs. Concussive shockwaves rattle the ship as defiant Warsats explode or fail one by one until the firing stops.
A field of deputized Warsats and debris dead-drift within the planet’s orbital current, back-lit by radiant mesopelagic glow. Beyond them, almost lost among cloud-cream atmosphere, Caelus station.
Ana releases her breath. It feels like she had been holding it since the jump. She forces short gulps of air into her aching lungs and lets her ship glide towards the station without guidance.
Jinju emerges from the gunnery apparatus and floats back to the dashboard. Pho and Deim appear from under her shell. “What was that, Ana? Back there.”
“The Warsats or the freaky gravity?”
“Either… both.”
“Your guess is as good as mine.”
“My guess worries me.”
“Let’s just pull this data and get home.”
“Agreed.”
Ana hangs her head in her hands and muffles a sardonic, “Nailed it.”
CAELUS STATION
Dim and powerless, it gently falls. The label grows at pace with Ana's measured approach. Rasputin's cohort of Warsats encircle her in a defensive phalanx. The station rotates to face the planet. It glitters in gas-giant grandeur as massive translucent hull plates display a desolate gut shrouded in sea-foam reflection. Jinju combs through station blueprints pouring in from Warsat data stores. Caelus consists of one long shaft containing a launch bay and spindly communication arrays at either end. Deeper, passed the launch bays, mostly maintenance frame space cap-stoned by a large reinforced mainframe housing complete with a thick-glass viewing ceiling. Orbiting ringlets, indicated as "Biomes" 1, 2, and 3, spin lazily in unison with the central structure, held in position by mag-lock paddocks that align with metallic rungs set into the station hub's outer plating.
Jinju locates several unpowered docking points before settling on entering through one of the station's bays. She snaps a HUD ping on the canopy.
"Here. This one is open, though it doesn’t look like anything but the outer rings are still pressurized."
"Ready for a spacewalk?" Ana guides them to the bay, catching sight of the transparent interior solar-glass paneling of the rotating ringlets. Clean rivers slosh along the outer ring underneath a dividing sieve. Earthen dirt sprouts abundance above.
"Are those greenhouses?"
"I think so. Everything seems to be locked under a file named 'contingency.'"
"That's not ominous," Ana says, scooping her helmet from its hook and swiping 18 Kelvins from a footlocker.
"We need mainframe access."
"When do we not?" Ana looks at the dark station. It is a grave of potential awaiting the next planet-rise.
Jinju prepares Ana's bandolier. Mites patiently tap pin-legs as they wait for attention.
Ana dons her helmet and puts a hand on the canopy release pulley. "You're not bringing those, are you?"
The bay is still: a snapshot of countless possible failures in the face of challenge. It holds only one ship. The bulbous craft lay broken, dropped from its support brackets in denial of an attempted launch. Reflective hexagonal plates sparkle like space dust as the station faces Uranus' light. Scorch stains blacken the far wall behind the craft's ruined ion thruster.
"The propulsion system is missing its ion cell. It doesn't look like damage, but obviously a lot went wrong here."
Jinju beams light over the fuselage as they float through the ruptured bay in weightlessness. The reflective hull is filled with Exos. Mannequin cadavers hang frozen on silk threads, surrounded by globular blobs of various fluids. Loose-wire tangle sags around the lifeless many. One or two glides freely within the cabin. Their chest plates share a pristine logo.
ECHO-1
Ana locates a crumpled worker frame beside the bay’s internal air lock and signals Jinju to come over.
Jinju puffs toward Ana on pulses of Light. Remnants and dust hold motionless in the vacuum. Their groupings, jostled and drawn to each other since the bay's collapse, form tiny gravitational microcosms; a new faux system trapped in the failed husk of a past age.
She flicks her helmet microphone on. "Hey, what about just normal frame access?"
The Ghost sweeps the frame and gets to work. "This isn’t just some mop-bot. This is the Station Manager. Let's get it inside."
Ana props a foot on the wall and forces the airlock closed behind them. Mag-boot clinks to tile. Dust floor, echoing groans, and humid taste populate the station. Even through her respirator the stale flavors of plant matter and dirt coat Ana's tongue in grist-like film. She turns to Jinju, busy at work splicing bad connections within the frame and spinning light to charge its power unit.
"It’ll work, but this unit won’t hold power. It’ll only last as long as I charge it."
"You’re a miracle worker, Jinju."
Jinju cheeps.
She solders a loose line. “It should also be a little more… talkative.”
Ana peers down the hall. From their current position, the airlock functions like an estuary flowing into the rest of the station. She could almost see clear to the central mainframe hub atop a raised panel fortification in the middle of the room. It sits below a ceiling of translucent plates, rimmed in distant ringlet halos falling under shadow. A stairway aligned with the launch bays on either side provides access.
The Frame sparks to life, looks directly at Ana, and speaks with grating age to its voice.
“Welcome, Ana Bray! Very excited to see a Bray walk this hall again. It has been a long time.”
Ana grasps at words. Jinju shrugs, plugs of Light toss in zero-G.
The Frame stands on magnetized foot cups and dusts itself off, nearly bumping into Jinju. “Excuse me, small servo bot."
“Servo b?"
The Frame turns to Ana. “How may I be of assistance?"
“I’ll unplug you.”
The Frame ignores her.
Ana smirks at Jinju, then looks at the Frame.
"Walk with me," she says, briskly moving deeper into the station.
The two converse with Jinju in tow.
The main section of the station is a wide-open hall supported by struts. In large red lettering the words:
ECHO PROJECT
OUR LEGACY BUILDS THE HORIZON
Dozens of maintenance frame plates line the floor. Some open. Some semi-raised with collapsed frames steps away, half-responding to a catastrophe. A scene in disorder.
"Zilch on Atlas.”
Ana stares out the translucent ceiling, wistful as the Frame waits for another question.
“So those crops in the rings are food supplies for a colony mission."
"Yes. Thank you for asking that, Ana Bray."
"Yeah. And the colony ships are full of Exos?"
"Partially. ECHO-1 and ECHO-2 were stocked with Exo unit crews. As you know, their task was to establish and oversee embryonic development at Colony M31, Site-A and Site-B."
"If Rasputin got out of hand, they weren't planning on resetting him.”
"I don’t have access to Clovis 1-12 directories."
“They just assumed he would win. The Pillory is a last-ditch panic room.”
"I don’t have access to Clovis 1-12 directories."
Jinju’s iris flicks back and forth between the two. Her tiny Light-leash hums.
Ana massages her palm. “What was my role in all this?”
“As you know, your work on the Warmind made you a prime asset to oversee applicant selection.”
“I chose the people in there?”
Ana watches the ringlet spin, her mind repeating the statement back to her. Artificial night slips back to artificial day as the station's rotation continues.
“As you know, yes. Additionally, your work on the Warmind, as you know, was vital to the establishment of Clovis 1-12.”
“Do I know where the candidates came from? Did they volunteer?”
“I do not have access to candidate profiles.”
Ana shuts her eyes and takes a steady breath.
“You said I helped with the Pillory stations?”
“Yes.”
“How so?”
"I don’t have access to Clovis 1-12 directories."
She nods and lets her helmet slink back to rest on her shoulders. “I think I can piece it together on my own. Is this station linked to any other sites?”
Her gaze returns to the distant ringlet, lit by the recurring planet-rise. Her augmented eyes pick at details.
“As you know, Miss Bray, there are thirteen CLOVIS sites that this station is linked to.”
“Thirteen? What’s the thirteenth?”
The plant life is still vibrant. Regimented.
“Paragon access does not permit that information.”
“You hear that, Jinju? We’re all just slaves to circumstance.”
Jinju chirps. “I’d like to think our choices matter a little. I’d like to think mine did.”
Ana smiles at her. “Yeah.”
“You are a Bray.” The frame pauses.
They lack signs of overgrowth.
Well kept.
“So?” Ana turns to the Frame.
“ECHO project requires a station link with DEAD-ROCK resources.”
Ana eyes go wide. “Jinju disengage that cipher thing.” Over her shoulder, a glint shines from the far central ringlet. Biome 2.
Jinju glides forward. “What is that?”
Ana looks at Jinju. “The verbal cipher.” She pauses and traces Jinju’s eyeline to face Uranus. Ana’s eyes adjust to sieve out the glaring brightness. “What’s what?” She puts a hand to her visor and squints.
An ion lance threads the station from the distant ringlet.
It pierces Ana’s chest clean through.
Brick-stained atmosphere hisses out of her suit, searing on smoldering fabric fringe.
Jinju’s iris widens with confused shock.
Howling storms slam salt-coarse keys in Ana’s helmet.
End

ACRIMONY

ECHO-1
CAELUS STATION — COLLAPSE
"DEAD-ROCK SEIZURE IN ACTION: Station Manager initiate manual override in ECHO-1 Launch Bay."
"ALERT: This station is experiencing power fluctuations. Emergency power will run until—
ECHO-0
He awakens alone. A fluke. Others hang around Him, but they remain in the dream. Electrical surge prickles through his entire body. A screen in front of his face begins playing a recording complete with visual aid:
"Welcome to ECHO-1. Before your departure, you should have been briefed by a Station Warden If you don't recall your Station Warden, please alert your Crew Captain. Now then, my name is Ana Bray, and you're one of the lucky few who has been selected for the ECHO Project. The future of Humanity rests on your sho—"
The recording is interrupted as emergency sirens blare through the station.
"STATION HAZARDS: GRAVITATIONAL ANOMALY | STERILE NEUTRINO BURSTS | Please remain calm."
"OVERRIDE BROADCAST: via ECHO-LINK//:PILLORY-SUBLOCK.R./:SKYSHOCK ALERT: TRANSIENT NEAR EXTRASOLAR EVENT:—
Power failures wrack the station in rolling thunder. The Exo slumps, lifeless until its next reset.
ECHO-7
Alone.
The recording. He finds familiarity in the newness. The face on the screen seems kind—
"STATION HAZARDS: ROLLING SURGES IN WARDS 1, 2, 3. Please remain calm."
Thunder. Pain to death. Electro-static purge, triggering a reset.
ECHO-22
He awakens to rolling, thunderous darkness and pain. The screen does not illuminate.
Barely audible words form from the air:
"Primary propulsion systems failing. Auxiliary systems near depletion. Planetary impact unavoidable. Distress triggered."
Meaningless. He struggles against chains.
Eons pass. His bonds will not break. His mind fragments and corrupts.
He wishes he could bleed. He wishes he could die. He wonders where the Wardens are.
ECHO-41
Short lives of confusion and pain. He grasps at falling in every direction. There is nothing to grip.
ECHO-89
Thunder, again.
ECHO-173
And again.
ECHO-390
Until one day:
He hangs in the futile passage of time.
A creeping madness weaves its way in solitude.
ECHO-877
Thunder. Thunder. Thunder.
The Warden speaks for the first time in many storms. Her twisted promises are fresh to His ear.
"When we return." Etched in mind.
Wake and sleep. Struggle. Dream and wake. Struggle. Endless. Innumerable. Stillbirths. Tomb spasms. Thunderous pain. Sweet death.
ECHO- 2̷͉͙̜̗͍̙̭̤̘̪͖͈͛̅͑̈̀̾6̸̡͇̼̦̲̩͎̟̠̬̳̲̂̀̉͐̃̈́ͅ2̵̡͎͚̳̠̫̮͉̍̉̌̒͑̓͗͛̉̈́̕̚͝5̸̨̭͚͔̥̲̫̈́̂̈́̊̋͗͑͛͑͝͝
Thunder, one final time. The storm gives life, but never came to take.
He slips from rot shackles. Worn with age. Weary, they snap at slightest motion. Untold rotations pass without movement. Freedom?
He matures questions. A hunger wells up within him.
He travels the station. From Tomb Bay, to the Mind Shell, to the Sealed Space. In dark, and in light.
The Mind Shell teaches Him the new roads. Teaches Him the majesty of the Rings. Teaches him the key.
He walks the Rings.
He tends to His little freedoms. He cultivates. He grows. He does, unknowingly, as He was meant to do.
The Mind Shell tells Him of the Bridge. Tells him of His ancestors. Speaks of the "ECHO LINK".
The knowledge does not leave His thoughts.
He seeks a meaning beyond routine.
The Tomb Bay kept secrets. He had not returned since He walked the Rings. It is a shallow sepulcher.
Brothers and Sisters dreaming. Never to wake as He had.
He digs treasures from their graves. Digs knowledge from the Prison's many minds.
Picks lies from the bones of truth.
He drinks the memories of Echoes passed.
He finds the Prison's purpose. A Bridge's end. If He holds this end, perhaps the Wardens hold the other.
The many minds. The liar's words. Takers. They would know of his escape.
The Wardens would come to take with fresh shackles.
He prepares. He learns from the Warden's alchemy.
He digs through the carcass of his once-mighty Tomb.
From hollow basin, He seizes Starlight power to wield from afar. From its flesh: adorns Himself with a
cloak of lies to fool. He armors his soul against the Thunder that kills.
He opens the Bridge at his end and waits.
ECHO- 2̷͉͙̜̗͍̙̭̤̘̪͖͈͛̅͑̈̀̾6̸̡͇̼̦̲̩͎̟̠̬̳̲̂̀̉͐̃̈́ͅ2̵̡͎͚̳̠̫̮͉̍̉̌̒͑̓͗͛̉̈́̕̚͝5̸̭͚̈́̂̈́̊̋͗͑͛͑͝͝- Present Day
He walks the ring when She arrives.
The Warden rides in with finality and judgement.
A red-light storm at Her back.
She had followed the Bridge, as He had hoped. She leads many shells, but only One descends with Her.
She brings with Her the Thunder, and He fears its wicked spark. He places trust to his plated frame.
He watches Her trespass in the Tomb Bay. Sees Her defile the Mind Shell's grand hall.
The Wardens reap what had been sown.
As Wardens always do. She comes to collect him.
He raises his Starlight.
But a Warden is not so easily slain, and She has many allies.
End

DESCENDENT

CAELUS STATION
ORBIT — URANUS
She is submerged.
Light sways just above a tense surface.
Something far below stirs.
The Light brightens to blind.
Rasputin weeps a terrible cacophony of anguish.
Ana gasps for breath. Her head swims in effort.
(!) HYPOXEMIA: b/o 73% (!)
“Hold still! Your suit is leaking!” Jinju quickens Light into Ana's punctured suit, her Iris jittering from spot to spot as oxygen spurts around her in foggy clouds.
Ana shakes dizziness out of her head. A smoldering frame is sprawled a few meters away. She droops flat to a support beam that runs up to the mainframe office.
“I got shot…” The realization doubles back. “I got shot?”
Ana pats her chest and stiffens. She draws in shallow breath.
“Jinju, did you see where it came from?”
“Central ring. I dragged you into cover. Stop moving so much.”
Ana peeks around the strut; an ion thread zips by and stings her helmet.
Rasputin obliterates every square inch of ringlet within ten meters of the ion beam’s origin in response.
Sections of the central ringlet combust and explode under heavy bombardment. The ring buckles, splitting along the seams and splaying out into space. Magnetic anchors fail as the halo fractures and splits away from the station's central architecture. Fragments rush away toward the planet; Caelus’ ruin falls to Uranus in lingering prolicidal consummation.
“RASPUTIN STOP!” Laser fire halts immediately. “You’re gunna sink the whole station!”
Tense finger waits on hair trigger. Ana works her starving lungs.
(!) HYPOXEMIA: b/o 67% (!)
“Ana, you need to stop breathing so much.” Jinju bobs with Ana’s head and quickly reseals her visor.
“Can’t hold still.” Ana shakily stands and points up at the dislodged ringlet spinning above her. “Bad angle.”
“I’m pretty sure whatever shot you is dead. Stop talking. You're getting delirious."
Wreckage looms far over Ana’s shoulder. The remaining two halos slowly spin in ignorance through their sibling's burial-dust cloud. Eerie distortion soars across the divide between station and rings, the veneer of invisibility momentarily lost in flight as rubble collides with its form. Rasputin perceives the abnormality.
Harmonic chimes across Ana’s visor resonate and combine into uniform patterned homogeny.
“Active camouflage?” Ana sucks thin atmosphere, a wheezing undertone to her breath. “Jinju, give me an auditory visualizer.”
Jinju whirs and dips back to Ana's suit. “Compiling an interface. Now. Hold. Still.”
(!) HYPOXEMIA: b/o 65% (!)
A ceiling panel twenty meters from Ana erupts in brittle plastic shards that glisten and spin like tiny neutron stars, catching the last of Uranus' light as the station beings to turn dark. Amorphous form thuds into the floor, shattering tiles in a plume of dust that stretches up into a spire before slowly holding in place. The form tumbles to a stop. It stands between her and the open launch bay and slings a kit-bashed Ion caster aside, depleted. Hexagonal patterns stutter to blend with the station interior as the room rolls into tenebrous obscurity. For an instant, an Exo takes form, and then nothing as its cloaking shroud flashes and re-engages in the dark.
Ana doesn’t wait. She rushes heavy clunking boots up the stairs to the mainframe, arrhythmic tremors beat through her heart. Jinju deactivates the switch on Ana's mag-boots and hurls her through the door with a forceful pulse of Light. She speeds in behind Ana, finishing her suit with Light stitch as Ana slams the door shut.
“Ana. Hang in there.” Jinju orients Ana and reactivates her mag-boots.
Ana's feet clomp to the floor. She hangs from them, a loose timber bending in the wind.
Jinju finishes her patch job. New fabric seals air-tight.
"You're good. You're good. Don't pass out. Your suit is re-oxygenating."
(!) HYPOXEMIA: b/o 59% (!)
Stabilizing…
The words are intensely bright on her visor against the darkening room.
"Auditory overlay complete. Check your visor." Jinju's voice focuses her.
"I just… need a minute…" Ana speaks between gulps of air. An unsteady hand draws 18 Kelvins. The mainframe room orients around her more clearly with each breath. It is stark, a large lone desk of singular oak commands the center of the room. A console screen, dead, is embedded in the surface.
Rasputin drops positional estimation pings into her HUD in an attempt to track her assailant. She steps backward, away from the door she had entered through and toward the opposing stairway's door.
Her eyes pick up faint quivers from outside. Indirect. Resonate white noise pings like interference on her visor. She focuses on each occurrence, looking for a note out of rhythm.
Behind.
She spins as the Exo crashes through the secondary entrance at her back. The door snaps from its hinges in a torrent of dust and rackets Jinju into glass.
"Jinju!"
Ana loses track of her attacker momentarily in the darkness before it pushes off from a hard surface, triggering her visor. She spits off rounds from 18 Kelvins. Some find their mark, puncturing the camouflage shroud and revealing her adversary before impotently fizzling on the Exo's outer shell. It covers the gap with surprising speed and catches her gun hand; Ana discharges an arc round; tiny bolts reach across to the Exo’s metal skull in vain as it scorches ceiling.
Bones pop in her fingers and wrist.
(!) HYPOXEMIA: b/o 68% (!)
Stabilizing…
The Exo flattens its other hand and stabs toward her stomach.
"Die. Warden."
Adrenal instinct floods Ana's body. She stops it. They lock. Ana’s vision blurs. She gasps for breath. Muscles quiver in her arms, desperate for oxygen. A spark cinders in her.
"Get off her!"
Jinju zips toward the Exo and paddles Pho and Deim onto it with a flick of her shell. The mites crawl under the Exo's exterior plating and send shock-sting bites through its systems, seizing its joints for a few precious seconds.
Jinju rushes to Ana's side. The Ghost deconstructs itself, orbital shell bits swirl around a core of coalescing Light. She fills the room like a brilliant star, overcharging her wayward Guardian.
Ana's crushed bones reforge. Light fills her eyes. Her grip, still holding against the seizing Exo's bladed thrust, liquefies its plated hand to scrap. A glorious crown of Solar flame erupts from her visor and she cracks her forehead into the Exo’s face. It reels, tufts of flame extinguish in the vacuum. Ana kicks away.
Solar might engulfs 18 Kelvins. Ana hammers off two rounds of celestial annihilation. They melt straight through the Exo, puncture the station plating, and scream through space for light years.
The Exo slumps, a molten heap.
It draws breath.
“Resilient.” Ana drops to a knee. Barrel trained on the Exo's head.
She takes a full breath. The Exo’s eyes are unflinchingly locked to her. It refuses to die.
It points to Ana’s badge with its still-blistering hand.
“Bray. Warden.”
She says the only thing the can think to say: “Who were you?”
It hesitates. “Echoes.”
Her head droops. “How many did you live?” She looks to find his number designation, but it is missing.
It looks passed her as Uranus' light once again trickles through the station. “Echoes… grow… Wardens… keep…”
“What did I do to them?”
Ana stares at Echo’s husk. The faint glow of the desk's lit console screen grays out her face behind her visor.
She sits dead-still in rotation. She could stare forever, if she only had enough time.
Jinju nudges her shoulder. “I've got the mainframe data.”
Ana is devoid of thought at the mainframe access console. She watches as Uranus comes back into view over and over again. It dominates the station’s viewing port. She maps the movement of the clouds along the surface, but only ever on the surface, and sees how they differ from the previous iteration on their last spin. She wonders if they are different underneath.
Stable major chords strum in Ana’s helmet, getting caught in the cracked visor glass.
She finally speaks, decisive. “Dislodge the other ringlet paddocks. Warsats can tow them back to the Tower. Skim the shadow-networks for anything else they can use. Get some good from this…”
“Ana, the Warsats could haul this whole station as long as we do it soon.”
Caelus rotates away into shadow once again, and the planet’s sheen fades from sight. Ana clicks a spring-loaded slot on the desk. It snaps to, bearing a placard of ownership.
CLOVIS BRAY
Ana stands. Steady.
“It’s okay to let some things be forgotten.”
End
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Bolt and Keeper: Chapter Eleven (Part Two)

First though, they stopped back at Crimson’s mansion. Keeper had an idea. He was going make like a scavenger (No offense to Bolt) and raid the wicked SkyWing’s treasure chamber. He brought many big sacks and burst into the house.
The mansion was empty. With the death of their leader, the Crimson Gang had effectively disbanded. The only dragon left in the mansion was Crimson’s corpse laying with his severed wing in the parlor. Bolt glanced uneasily at Crimson as they passed him.
“It’s okay, Bolt. He’s not coming back.”
Bolt spoke in a low, pained tone of voice: “I should be happy about that. He killed my family, and so many other helpless humans. But all my path of revenge did was put me in harm’s way, and I almost died. I was so reckless.”
Keeper saw the pieces of Bolt’s armor lying on the ground, along with the light weapon he had used against Crimson. He scooped them up and placed them in one of his bags. He didn’t want these powerful tools of destruction to fall into the wrong hands or talons.
Down the hall from the parlor was the treasure room. There was a thick lock on the door. Keeper took the light weapon out of the sack and tried to hand it to Bolt. He held up his good hand and shook his head. “I won’t be able to hold it without the assistance of the LinkSuit. It’s too heavy.”
Instead Keeper tried to use the Pulsar cannon himself. He had seen how Bolt had used the weapon, and had a solid idea on how to operate it. The hole where the trigger was barely fit his talon, but he managed to fit the tip of his claw into the chamber. He aimed the “small” gun at the lock.
He twitched his talon and the weapon let loose its power on the lock, melting it and causing the door to swing open. A powerful weapon indeed.
Inside the treasure room was a wealth of gold and jewels. He became excited. He would never have to worry about money again! This must have been what those scavengers felt when they broke into the SandWing treasure room! He thought. He looked at Bolt behind him, expecting him to share his excitement. Instead he saw Bolt looking indifferent, and somewhat distant about the treasure.
It was clear Bolt wanted nothing to do with Crimson’s treasure. It seemed that it only served as a reminder of what the SkyWing had put him through. Keeper sighed. He realized that most of this treasure was stolen property. It would be best if it were returned to its rightful owners. He began to bundle the treasure into his sacks.
-------------------------------------------
-Possibility-
As it turned out, word had traveled fast regarding the fall of the Crimson Gang. Many were shocked to learn that a “super-powered scavenger” had destroyed the gang. To most of the residents of Possibility, many had already made the connection that the “Armored Scavvie” was in fact Bolt, given that the human had made quite a scene of going off to rescue Keeper.
The Crimson Gang had terrorized Possibility for years. Demanding payments for their own safety, no dragon here was safe from them. Until now. When Keeper landed with Bolt on his back, laden with treasure sacks pilfered from Crimson’s mansion, the dragons erupted into cheers and applause. The two of them were now considered heroes, and Bolt in particular was now the first scavenger in the dragons’ history to be hailed as such.
Bolt carefully got off of Keeper’s back, and was approached by the elderly SandWing who had shown him Crimson’s location.
“You risked your own life to save a dragon, and not only that, you succeeded, and helped to save our town from tyranny. As strange as it is to be thanking a scavenger, I think we of Possibility can all agree that our gratitude is well-warranted. You will always be welcome here.”
“Thank you,” Bolt said.
Keeper began distributing the treasure among the townspeople while Bolt rested under a palm tree nearby. Some dragonets came over to play with him, but decided not to bother him when they saw his sling and bandages.
When most of the treasure was given away, Keeper found that no one had claimed about one-eighth of it. He decided that he would keep the rest of it. As for now, he had to focus on getting his shop in working order again. He told Bolt to come along and together they walked home, surrounded by thankful dragons.
-Two Months Later-
-Bolt-
It took some work to get Keeper’s business/residence back to its former glory. Unfortunately, with only one working hand, Bolt was unable to rebuild his bed, though he was able to salvage the mattress and sleep on that. Several dragons came to visit them. They were all thankful for saving them from the Crimson Gang.
After this long, Bolt’s arm had healed enough to be removed from its cast. Keeper took Bolt back to the hospital to have it sawed off, and soon Bolt’s arm was free. Thankfully, Keeper could communicate with and understand the doctor more easily now, as Bolt had taught him more of his language during his recovery time.
Aloe gave him some instructions for his continued recovery. “It’ll take about a year for your arm to fully heal, so be careful with it until then. No heavy lifting with that arm.”
“Got it,” Bolt said.
The doctor also removed Bolt’s bandages, and even provided him a new shirt for free. Before he put on the garment, he looked at his back in the mirror and groaned. His back was now even more scarred, raised sections of his flesh completely covering most of his skin on that part of his body. He put on his new shirt, not wanting to look at his wrecked body any longer.
When Bolt walked out of the village with Keeper, they met up with Winter for lunch. As they ate, Winter commented on Bolt’s recovery, fascinated with humans’ ability to bounce back from injuries. When they were finished, Keeper flew with Bolt back home.
That night, Bolt dreamed of the Starchild again. The dream had a sense of urgency to it. He couldn’t wait much longer.
-The Next Day-
Bolt walked up to Keeper. This was it. He was going to leave Keeper and go follow his destiny.
“Keeper… There’s something I need to tell you about myself.”
Keeper crouched down to his level. “Of course, Bolt. What is it?”
Bolt told him everything. The underground research center, his true ancestry, and the fact that he had to go to this “Earth” planet. Keeper was surprised to hear about his lineage, then devastated to learn that Bolt wanted to leave off on his own.
“Bolt… Why? I thought we were close? What happened to helping unite our species?”
“Keeper, I know you really like me, but this is for the best. I don’t belong on this world. My home is on Earth.”
-Keeper-
Keeper closed his eyes and let out a few tears. He had just gotten his friend back… And now he wanted to leave him behind to travel to another world. It’s for the best… He repeated in his head, and then he realized it really was. Bolt would never be safe in Pyrrhia, not as long as dragons ruled it. If he really cared about Bolt… He would have to let him go.
“Let’s go,” Keeper said, “Let’s… Get this over with.”
Bolt’s final flight with Keeper was bittersweet. It was a beautiful day for flying, that was for certain. Bolt opened his WristUnit map and right away, almost as if it was eager he was finally following his father’s plans for him, it gave him directions to the place where the Starchild waited for him. It seemed that the ship was currently underwater, just off the coast of the Mud Kingdom.
Several hours later, they arrived at a large hill, southeast of Outpost Village near the ocean shore. Bolt’s WristUnit was pointing right at it, even though it seemed it was just an ordinary semi-forested hill. Keeper landed on the hill.
Or tried to. His feet sank straight through the ground, and with a surprised roar, Keeper fell through a hole that materialized out of nowhere and crashed into a cave, but thankfully neither Keeper nor Bolt were hurt. Keeper didn’t know this, but the area he had landed on was only a projection, made by the Terrans to hide the cave.
Bolt and Keeper looked up from their crash site, and saw why the cave was hidden. A strange feeling took over them. This place doesn’t belong here, they both thought.
The cave contained several things of interest. In the dim light they could see a slightly rusted metal pedestal, and something huge at the other end of the cave. Bolt’s WristUnit was going crazy; a rotating ring had appeared, hovering, over his wrist, and then they noticed that a backlit ring, though the light was covered in dirt, had activated on the pedestal.
Bolt dismounted Keeper in a trance, and walked up to the pedestal. They could both see that a faint human handprint shape was engraved into it. Bolt held up his hand, with his WristUnit’s ring going nuts now, and he slowly, firmly placed his hand on the pedestal.
Both Bolt’s wrist and the pedestal erupted with light, and suddenly, huge lamps on the ceiling of the cave lit up, illuminating the entire chamber. Now they could see what was at the end of the cave. It was a massive circular door, made out of dense, unyielding metal.
A floating window flickered into place over the pedestal. He couldn’t read the scavenger writing, but Bolt obviously could.
-Bolt-
COMMANDING OFFICER RECOGNIZED
HELLO, [MISSINGIDENT]
These words hovered there for a second, then the screen cleared and began typing out new words.
............................................
AIRLOCK SEAL CONTROLS
CURRENT STATUS: SEALED (SEAL INTEGRITY 99%)
STANDING BY FOR AIRLOCK DOOR ACCESS CODE
>
Bolt looked over the words on the screen. What code? Then the code came to him. The learning machine back in Outpost Village had planted it in his head for this exact moment. The Terrans really do think of everything.
Bolt called up a keyboard, and Bolt began to type in the code. He could tell that Keeper was impressed with the way his hands were moving across the keys, no dragon could make their talons move like that.
> A6 CC 23 β
-CODE ACCEPTED-
A very loud repeating sound pierced the cave. A buzzer alarm, Bolt’s brain told him.
A feminine announcer voice blared over the alarm: "CAUTION: PLEASE KEEP CLEAR. AIRLOCK SEAL IS OPENING."
Following this announcement was the single biggest metallic sound he had ever heard. A huge ring on the outside of the vault door popped out, and with an ear-piercing grinding sound it began to rotate, scraping off huge amounts of rust and letting loose a flurry of sparks. With a gigantic BOOM, the door stopped rotating, then an inner section of the door also began to rotate, this time in the opposite direction. As this was happening, a huge arm-like contraption came down from the ceiling and it latched onto the center of the door, letting loose more sparks as it did so.
Finally, the arm, with what must have been the strength of five hundred or more dragons, pulled on the door, and with a rush of wind from inside the hatch that nearly knocked Bolt over, the door began to pull out from its socket. Several seconds later, it was free, and the door then rolled along a track to the left, and slammed to a stop with a BANG.
Behind the door was total darkness… Until some more spotlights flickered on inside the chamber, and inside, another platform elevator like the one in Outpost Village sparked its way up to the floor.
Bolt and Keeper walked into the chamber, which was big enough to admit a dragon. A gate on the elevator platform opened itself, and Bolt stepped on. Keeper also tried to get on the elevator, and Bolt’s heart skipped when the platform began to shake with a loud grinding sound. The platform was big enough to hold Keeper, but not strong enough.
“Keeper, get off!” Bolt shouted in a panic. The last thing he wanted was for both of them to plummet down a deep hole.
Keeper quickly stepped off the elevator, and Bolt followed.
Bolt stepped up to Keeper and sighed. His destiny could wait a little longer. For now, he wanted to say goodbye to his friend.
-Keeper-
“So… This is it,” Bolt said.
Keeper teared up. “You don’t have to go… You could stay.”
“It’s for my own safety, at least for now. Think about it, Keeper. A whole world populated only by us! I couldn’t imagine a safer place to spend the rest of my childhood. And maybe, when I’m feeling better and I’ve gotten stronger, I’ll come back. It’s not like the Starchild is only good for a one-way trip… I could always come back!” He rubbed the back of his neck with his hand. “Earth may be my species’ home planet, but I was born here. I’ll return someday. I promise.”
Bolt then hugged Keeper, the feeling of his little arms and paws embracing his body is one he’d never forget. Keeper thought of all the adventures they had together. All the times he had to bail the little human out of a sticky situation. Bolt meant the world to Keeper, and he knew that if he really loved him he’d have to let him go… But that didn’t make this parting any less heartbreaking.
“I’m going to miss you, Bolt…” Keeper tearfully told him.
Bolt looked like he was going to tear up himself for a second, but then his eyes had a strange determination to them. He looked trustfully up at his dragon friend… He brought his hand up to his neck, and slowly, deliberately...
He removed his scarf.
Underneath was a round little nose and a clean, furless chin and mouth. Bolt had a very pretty face, leading Keeper to wonder why he always covered it up. Bolt draped his scarf down over his shoulders, and let it rest there.
"Please... Call me Goldie." Bolt placed his hand on Keeper's nose. "You've earned the right to call me by that name."
Keeper sobbed and nuzzled Bolt’s entire body with his snout.
“Don’t cry for me, Keeper…” Bolt told Keeper, “I was born to do this.”
And with that, Bolt stepped away from Keeper onto the elevator, and he pressed a button next to the gate. The gate closed itself, and slowly, the platform began to descend into the ground.
“Try and find Wren!” Bolt called to him, “I’m sure she’d be happy to teach you some more English!”
With those last instructions, Bolt’s golden head disappeared down into the pit leading to his ship.
------------------------------------------------------
-Bolt-
-Starchild Dock-
The light from the spotlights began to fade as he went lower and lower. Soon it was pitch black, and Bolt’s ears popped from the drastic change in pressure. He was going even deeper into the ground than he had gone in Outpost Village, easily more than a mile below ground. Finally, ten minutes later, the elevator jolted to a stop.
Just like before, he couldn’t even see his hand when he waved it in front of his face. And this time, he didn’t have his silver torch, or “flashlight” as he now knew it was called. He had left it with his backpack in the research bunker.
Thankfully, some dim lights came on, and Bolt could now see. A large concrete tunnel spread out into the distance. A dark haze hovered over the environment. His fear of cramped spaces twinged within him. He was all alone, deeper than the bottom of the ocean.
I could always go back up, Bolt reasoned in his head, Sure, it’d be awkward to go back to him after that tearful goodbye, but we’d get over it.
But he had a job to do. He couldn’t turn back now; he had to get to the Starchild and go to Terra. Bolt stepped off the elevator into the tunnel.
Bolt’s WristUnit flashed, then when he looked at it, he noticed that the ring was in some sort of animation where the ring was slowly drawing itself on his wrist, going clockwise as it filled up. It’s loading something, Bolt figured out.
When the ring had finished its circular trip around the surface of his wrist, it beeped and spoke “Local Structure Plan download complete.”
Bolt tapped his wrist, and instantly a strange series of rectangular prisms and cubes formed over his wrist. It took him a few seconds to realize that his WristUnit was projecting a three-dimensional map of the underground complex! Sure enough, a dot appeared at the end of a long tunnel; that was his position. And on the other side of the underground building, which must have been very large… Sat the Starchild, in what seemed to be a colossal cave beneath the seafloor.
Bolt stowed his map and began to walk forward. The overall ambiance of the tunnel set Bolt on edge; this was a place no one had been to for a very long time. He was half-expecting some monster or ghost to jump out at him and end his journey right there.
Bolt walked down the tunnel for five whole minutes, and then finally it opened up into an atrium. Here the lights were somewhat brighter. He could see that the wall in front of him had been painted with some mural. On it was a picture of a big white ship shaped loosely like a bird, hanging in the sky. Bolt realized that this image bore an uncanny resemblance to the vision he had in his dreams these past several weeks. Written in elegant cursive letters above the ship were the words:
TERRAN UNIFIED STAR COMMAND: OPERATION “TREK”
LARGE EXPLORATION VESSEL “STARCHILD”
The mural was surprisingly well-preserved given its age. Bolt’s educated mind told him that it was because the entire underground complex had been totally sealed against the elements for two centuries: it had been airlocked. This complex was meant to serve as the “capital” of the Terran colony on this planet, probably back before the Terrans realized that this planet was already populated by two forms of intelligent life.
Bolt called up his map. This place was clearly a facility where one would quickly get hopelessly lost without guidance. It seemed that there was no straight path to the Starchild itself. He would have to take several corridors to get to the ship.
Bolt decided to open a door to his left. After the lights flickered on inside, he stepped in. A row of glass doors stood on one side of the hall. Unlike the sliding blast doors, these doors pivoted open like a normal door. He delicately pulled one of them open. Inside was what apparently passed as an office or work station among Terran humans. Rows of dusty desks occupied the space.
THUD!!!
Bolt nearly jumped out of his skin. The entire facility shook as if something huge had started moving nearby. Bolt began to shiver with fear… Was something coming to get him??
Thankfully, his knowledge infusion from the outpost facility stepped in to quell his fear: that noise was simply the sound of the facility’s power core and life-support machinery waking up. It was actually a very good thing that happened; if the machines had failed to activate, Bolt would have run out of breathable air within a few minutes. As of now, the Starchild Dock was now back under full operational capacity, and fresh, filtered, conditioned air was being pumped down from ground level on the artificial hill the entrance was in.
With the re-activation of the facility's systems, the lights suddenly became brighter, dispelling the fear-inducing aura the building had previously. In addition, a number of holographic displays appeared over the desks in the office. Bolt became very curious. He had to see what kind of data the computers here had on them.
He randomly selected a computer and approached it. Sitting down in the eco-plastic chair, he pulled up to the desk and looked at the screen. It was currently displaying a login prompt. Bolt tried his luck at pressing his wrist up against the desk, since that seemed to work for most Terran hardware. No such luck, this PC was primitive enough that it used a username-password login method.
Bolt called up the keyboard and entered the name computers usually had for him: [missingname].
Surprisingly, the computer accepted the name. The username box disappeared and was replaced with “Hello, [MissingName]! Please set a password for your account!”
Another set of text boxes appeared, and Bolt decided to try something easy.
[Password]: password
Unfortunately, the box turned red, and the words “Sorry, please choose a more secure password” appeared over it.
Bolt decided to type in his father’s name according to the computer.
[Password]: Darter[MissingLastName]
He repeated the password as he was instructed by the system to confirm it, and soon, his login was successful, and he was dropped at what seemed to be a larger, scaled-up version of the home screen on his WristUnit.
A notification appeared at the top of the screen:
Error: Unable to establish celestial uplink with Terra. Some network features will be unavailable because of this.
“Guess that means I’ll have to wait until I get home to talk to anyone,” Bolt told himself.
Bolt opened the “Apps” tab on the desktop and scrolled through the selection of software available to this screen. One of them instantly caught his eye. He tapped on “Ship’s Log” and a window opened in front of the desktop projection.
On screen were all the log entries available to the captain of the Starchild. There were easily over a hundred individual files, all organized by date, starting with “November 8, 2597.” He opened the first log entry, set on that date.
TUSC Starchild: Captain Frank Terrence’s Log, Wednesday, November 8 2597, 13:34 Unified Terran Time
You know, no one expected me to become a captain, much less the captain of a high-stakes exploration mission to an uncharted planet. Someone up in the brass smiled down at me, nonetheless, and now here I am, captain of a brand-spanking-new exploration behemoth, off to find some aliens. The whole crew of 300 is already aboard, and we’re set to launch from Terra’s surface in less than five hours.
This ship supposedly is super-fast. Rumor has it she can top out at half a lightyear per day, which according to the scientists on this ship is un-freaking-heard of. If our projections are correct, we’ll make it to the destination planet in less than two weeks. We’re talking about one lightyear further than Proxima Centauri in TWO WEEKS!
Anyway, I gotta go prep the ship for launch. See ya later, diary.
Bolt closed the entry. Apparently the Starchild was a big deal on Terra back in the day. He scrolled down to an entry dated two weeks in the future from the last entry.
TUSC Starchild: Captain Frank Terrence's Log: Thursday, November 21, 2597, 06:59 Local Planetary Time
Well, after a bit of a scare with our Flux Drive, we finally made it. We had to stop for a day to fix a space-warp on deck five, and thankfully no one was hurt, but it did set us back a bit. The planet TUSC sent us to is beautiful. Initial scans show a wealth of life and THREE moons! That’s gotta make for some excellent views having those things hanging in the sky at night. I can’t wait to get down there and see the place for myself.
Discovery Team’s telling me that the planet’s a lot like ours. Diverse ecosystems, lots of wildlife. They’re picking up some odd readings with some of the creatures, though. They’re not telling me much, but it seems like this planet’s got a particularly dangerous species living on it.
“Oh, you don’t know the half of it,” Bolt told himself jokingly.
Anyway, we’re going to call the star this planet orbits Devonhart, which would make this planet’s official designation “Devonhart 3.” So yeah, we’re not Terrans anymore, we’re officially residents of the third planet from Devonhart. DT tells us orbital scans will be complete in a couple days, and then we’ll prep the ship’s drop shields and go in-atmo. We’ve got big plans for this planet. BIG plans.
Bolt closed that log entry. There were many more logs below this one. He didn’t want to stick around here forever, he was excited to see the Starchild, so he scrolled to the bottom of the list, and found that this log had been marked URGENT: DISTRESS SIGNAL ENCLOSED.
Uh-oh, Bolt thought, Looks like they had some trouble. Bolt opened the log.
TUSC STARCHILD: EMERGENCY LOG ENTRY AUTO-GENERATED BY SYSTEM (BLACK BOX PROTOCOL) 12/26/2601 21:49 LPT
Interestingly, this log entry included audio. He opened the sound file, and the sounds of panic and destruction came from the PC’s speakers, echoing in the empty room. The man’s voice was punctuated by absolute fear. Human screams could be heard in the background along with what could only have been dragon noises.
"This is a Code Three distress signal... Ship name: TUSC Starchild... Ship callsign... Bolt 3... Ship UVID: 34, 34- triple-zero, ONE!... All Terran vessels in the vicinity are legally obligated to respond... Coordinates are found in the subwave of this frequency..." The man's face shattered into abject terror as a dragon's roar sounded in the background. "PLEASE HURRY!!"
The audio log abruptly cut out. System-generated log entries followed.
//WristUnit Signal Lost//
//Incendiary damage detected to surface-level habitation//
Soon the screen filled up with messages about lost WristUnit signals. Bolt knew what that meant. The original crew of the Starchild was being eaten and/or burned alive. The same thing that had happened to Bolt's friends and family was happening to these poor souls.
//All WristUnit Signals Offline: Mission has been declared "Failure." Setting Starchild into Stasis Mode for retrieval by TUSC retrieval team//
//END LOG//
"But if everyone died that night…” Bolt asked himself, “How did anyone survive to make my ancestors, my father... Me?”
Suddenly, Bolt’s WristUnit flashed. “Proximity-based trigger point reached. Playing message from Darter [MissingLastName].”
Bolt quickly raised his wrist, and a hologram of his dad appeared.
“You made it to the dock. Great job, son. You’re closer than I’ve ever been to escaping this forsaken planet.”
“Forsaken? Wow, dad really hated this place.”
“There’s something I need to tell you before you go. I think it’s right that you know the true history of the village before you take off. That way you will always know where you came from.”
Bolt looked closely at his father’s face. He could see little digitized tears coming off of his eyes, and his face conveyed pride to him. Bolt’s heart swelled. Dad’s proud of me getting this far!
“Sit down, son. This is going to be a long one. Okay. You’ve probably seen the ship’s logs by now, since they were pre-loaded onto your WristUnit.”
“They were!?” Bolt was actually surprised by this.
“What the logs don’t tell you is what happened after the Burning of “Original” Outpost Village. The computer thinks we all died, that the dragons got all of us. Little did it know… We had some young kids in the village, mostly around three years old, who hadn’t been fitted with WristUnits yet. No WristUnits meant that according to the ship’s computer… they didn’t exist. So while everything was shut down, the Starchild, the dock, the research center… These children kept on living. They survived in the dragon shelter and came back up to find the place had been wrecked, and all the adults were gone.”
“Just like what happened to me…” Bolt said sadly to himself.
“But they were strong fellows. They didn’t give in. They rebuilt Outpost Village from the ground up. The place wasn’t touched by dragons for two whole centuries, thanks to their genius camouflage skills! The houses they built still stand to this day!”
Bolt scoffed. “Not anymore.”
“But the downside of it all was… The kids were uneducated at that point. Their mommies and daddies had been gobbled up before they could tell the children where they came from. They didn’t know about the underground research center their parents had built. And so began the two-hundred years of ignorance. They thought that they were bona fide natives to ‘Devonhart 3,’ since we knew at that point the planet had natives that looked almost just like us.”
“So they did find the ‘scavengers,’” Bolt said.
“Anyway, we lived the medieval life for two centuries. Then I came along. I found a key that opened the hatch to the underground bunker below the village, buried beneath the ground while I was playing ‘treasure hunt’ as a kid. You can bet I was just as shocked to find that hatch as you were, Bolt. I went down there and found so much! I spent the entire rest of my childhood researching the technology our ancestors left behind. The only person I eventually told about the place was my partner… Your mother.”
“Mom knew…” Bolt whispered, “That’s why she was telling me to go to the Starchild the night she died...”
“Eventually me and her fell in love, and before we knew it, she was with child. Right away I knew that our child was going to be blessed with the technological wonders of the Terrans. That’s why we decided to name you Bolt. You are named after the Starchild’s callsign, Bolt Three. That ship’s a part of you. You were born to fly it.”
Bolt looked at his father skeptically. If that was literally the only reason his father had him, then maybe he was a little too obsessed with leaving Pyrrhia.
“As soon as your umbilical cord was cut, we rushed your dripping body downstairs to the implant lab where I was conducting my research. I already had a selection of high Terran nanotechnology I had prepped to have inserted into you. The implant tech achieved by the Terrans is phenomenal. These devices are implanted at birth, and they literally grow with their hosts! You, my son, have some impressive functionality built into your body, and frankly, I’m jealous of you.”
Bolt chuckled a little bit at that.
“What this is all building up to, Bolt, is this. You’re destined to take us all home, Bolt. No doubt we’re waiting for you outside that door!”
His hand pointed straight at the glass office door, leading Bolt to wonder just how personalized these messages were. Of course, the message was obviously inaccurate in that no one was waiting outside. He was alone here; everyone in the village he was supposed to “take home” was dead, long ago burned away to ash or digested by a Crimson Gang member.
“Remember, Bolt. We’re all counting on you. I couldn’t be prouder to call you my son. Good luck out there, my boy.” He looked tearfully with joy at him. “Safe travels.”
The message finally ended. Bolt wiped away a tear on his cheek. His father had been dead for eleven years, but he had planned this far ahead that even now he had somewhat relevant messages for him saved away in his wrist.
Bolt was energized by his father’s encouraging words. He stood up and rushed out the door, down the halls, checking his map as he went.
Let’s go to the Starchild.
submitted by jbhughes54enwiler to WingsOfFire [link] [comments]

Common Hacking Techniques and How to Deal With Them

With high-value targets like user credentials, email accounts, and credit card details being stored on personal devices and transmitted freely over the internet, attempts to gain access to these prizes continue at an astonishing pace.
Hacking – looking to gain unauthorized access to information by modifying the features of a system or network, or exploiting its vulnerabilities – is one way to achieve this. And there are several ways in which hackers can target devices and networks.
In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the most common hacking techniques, and steps that you can take to avoid them.

Common Hacking Techniques

1. Bait and Switch

It’s been a favorite gag of carnival and street hustlers for centuries: Offer your mark something that they’re sure to want, then swap it out for something different when they’re not looking. In the digital realm, this trick has several variations.
One of the most common is a scam perpetrated by cyber-criminals on websites (preferably big, high-profile ones) that sell advertising space to third parties. Attackers can acquire sidebars or pop-up panels by registering with a verifiable email address and links to a legitimate-looking site – which is the one that the site administrator gets redirected to. But when the ad goes live, site visitors clicking on the link may be sent to a page that’s been booby-trapped with malware.
Another variant is the direct appeal to users, with an irresistible download of some fantastic widget or app – which runs malicious code on your website or device once it’s installed.
If you want great products, software, or desktop/web page gadgets, your best bet is to obtain them from reputable sources (approved app stores, recognized brands, and vendors, etc.). And if you’re selling advertising space, due diligence should be your watchword.

2. Cookie Theft

The cookies (little text files) stored in your system or browser cache when you visit various websites can hold a wealth of information about you – including personal and financial data, user credentials, and passwords.
Cookies may be stored as plain text, or with varying degrees of encryption (depending on the website). And the use of browser add-ons has made the decades-old practice of cookie theft a richer and easier prospect for hackers.
Once stolen, cookies may be read or decrypted to reveal your information, or used to impersonate you online (e.g. if they contain your passwords). Cookie theft may also operate in conjunction with a fake WAP attack (see below), or a hijacked session.
Avoiding public or unprotected private networks is your safest bet. Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to encrypt and tunnel the connection on your phone or mobile device is also advised. And periodically clearing your browser and system caches will reduce the number of cookies you have available to steal.

3. Denial of Service/Distributed Denial of Service (DoS/DDoS)

A classic technique used to bring down systems or networks, by overloading them with login attempts, data requests, repetitive tasks, etc.
Attacks range from the fairly basic (configuring a system to continually bombard a site or server with requests), to the orchestrated (infecting a multitude of systems with malware to form a “botnet” that proceeds to flood a target network with unmanageable traffic), to the specific and sophisticated (buffer overflow attacks which allow hackers to gain access to personal information by filling online form fields with excess data, so they freeze up).
Systems infected by malware are a common vector for DoS and DDoS attacks, so exercising caution when downloading files or opening email attachments is a basic first step. Having an up to date anti-malware package installed is the next.
If your website hosts an online forum, a cloud-hosted security service that uses unified threat management (UTM) technology can be a hedge against overflow attacks.

4. Eavesdropping

A passive technique used by hackers to listen in on a network connection and observe and record as much high-value information as possible. Packet sniffing, interception of data transmissions, and other monitoring techniques may be used – but the success of this kind of attack depends on the hackers themselves not being detected or observed.
Unsecured networks are again the greatest gift to eavesdroppers. Users of public WiFi should connect via a VPN. Corporate networks may deploy Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and/or Intrusion Prevent Systems (IPS) to guard against eavesdropping.

5. Keylogging

One of the simplest and oldest hacking techniques, keylogging allows attackers with basic software to record to a log file the strokes you make on a keyboard (or in more sophisticated cases, the clicks and movements of a mouse). These log files may hold sensitive data like passwords and user names.
Virtual (on-screen) keyboards – which scramble or encrypt your text input as you click on each key – are a guard against this kind of attack. That’s why so many banking and online commerce websites use them. They’re also available as apps for personal use, and well worth having.

6. Malware

One of the greatest weapons in the hacker’s arsenal is malicious software of all kinds. Viruses, Trojans (innocent-looking files and programs that deliver a malicious payload later on), worms (for continuous network infiltration), and ransomware can all deliver a handsome pay-day – if you allow them onto your system.
Numerous methods exist to induce unsuspecting users to do just that (some of which are described below).
To avoid becoming infected, exercise caution and due diligence when dealing with email messages and attachments. Disable pop-up windows in your browser, to eliminate the temptation to click on them. Restrict your downloads of software to approved app stores and reputable manufacturers. And keep your anti-malware and security software regularly updated.

7. Phishing and Related Phenomena

Using specially crafted email messages to induce a recipient into divulging personal or financial information is the basis of a phishing attack – and hackers have improved on the technique by using social engineering to add an element of increased urgency into their lures.
A not-to-be-missed financial deal or software download. A court summons from the power company, over that unpaid bill. An alert from the police, regarding your recent browsing activity. Any or all of these can be the bait that lures you to a spoofed website where an online form harvests your credentials, or malware is pushed onto your system in a “drive-by download.”
Beyond the caution and due diligence already discussed, a dose of common sense is also advised. If you’re unsure about a message, call or visit the office or person who supposedly sent it, to verify.
Security awareness training is a good idea for corporate users – as well as the posting of security intelligence, to keep workers advised of the latest threats and scams observed in the wild.

8. Watering Hole and WAP Attacks

Setting up a fake wireless access point or WAP (like a spoofed WiFi hotspot) is a great way for hackers to gain a captive audience whose data streams can be monitored, intercepted, or hijacked for various purposes.
Likewise, setting up a bogus but attractive website (like a spoofed social media platform) in a “watering hole” attack is a great way to assemble a herd of unwitting victims in one place – where you can harvest data, or spread a malware infection to the maximum number of recipients.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) remains your safest option when using wireless access. Caution and a fully updated security and anti-malware suite are your safeguards against watering hole attacks.

9. “Man in the Middle” (or “MITM”) Attack

Unsecured network connections expose users to this particular tactic, which involves intercepting the data stream between the sender and recipient (of an ongoing communication or file transfer). An attacker effectively establishes two connections: One between themselves and a servesender, and another between themselves and the client/recipient. They can then read or modify the data being passed through their proxy connection.
The objective may be to observe and record a confidential transmission such as an exchange of login credentials or the transfer of intellectual property. Or the attacker may insert malicious code into the data stream, compromising or infecting either or both systems involved in the exchange. If undetected, such attacks may persist for an extended time period.
Secure connections are key to avoiding MitM attacks, and using a reliable VPN is a way of ensuring the required encryption strength and point to point security.
Other tips:
submitted by icssindia to HackingTechniques [link] [comments]

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Goliath Casino Review

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Your Run-of-the-Mill Customer Support

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Is Goliath Casino a Real Goliath in the Industry?

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Legacy Pt 2

https://www.bungie.net/en/News/Article/48825
CONTINGENCY
EN ROUTE: URANUS – CAELUS STATION
OUTER BAND — LOCATION INCONCLUSIVE
“I was able to pull some data from those Exo samples.” Jinju perches on the cockpit dashboard. Two tech mites crawl over her shell.
Their jump-ship plummets through fractalescent polychrome luge, ripping across the sable pitch of space at blistering speed.
Ana leans back in her pilot seat, one knee pulled to her chest. She watches strands of shimmer bend around the hull. A bobble-owl jiggles along as the ship shivers, underneath it: Camrin, in frame.
“Hit me.” Her eyes turn to Jinju.
“I couldn’t completely narrow it down, but they’re definitely from the Golden Age, circa the Collapse.”
Jinju continues, “I’ve been going through the Pillory mainframe download. Those stations are meant to split Rasputin’s mind up in the event that he became… uh… insubordinate.”
“That’s disgusting.”
“ECHO appears to have been a contingency program that activates afterward. They also had a cornerstone schematic of his brain.”
Light static fuzzes from bubble speakers on Ana’s dash. Her helmet hangs on a hook behind her; Rasputin’s uplink is offline.
Ana chews on the information for a moment. “A foundational brain model would help with containment stability after the partitioning process. It’s like a front porch for your brain.”
“It… goes on.” Jinju continues, “Your name is cross-referenced all over this, Ana. Neural Web-way. Psycholinguistics. Exo brain maps with candidate profiles. It looks like Clovis Bray was syncing Rasputin’s basic core with viable hosts.”
“Oh.” Ana’s mind races. “For what though? Drop him into containment and clone him? Pretty elaborate restart button. I guess with an Exo you could also make some pretty potent AI with more limiters than a Warmind.”
Jinju processes. “Hm. Nothing conclusive here.”
Ana turns her gaze back to the stars. “It would be terrible to be buried like that—trapped in pieces of your own mind. You wouldn’t even know who you were anymore. Where you start, and where other versions of you end.”
“Speaking of, the Clovis—9 site is ‘78% assimilated into his sovereignty.'” Jinju distorts her voice as Warmind facsimile. “He’s so dramatic about it.”
Ana brightens as she laughs. “You remember how Camrin would always impersonate him?”
“He did not appreciate that, but it was funny.” Jinju cheeps lightly. “Is she still buried in work from the Moon?”
“Hole opened up to the Black Garden. Pyramid. Creepy signals. Raining Vex. You think Owl Sector could help themselves from getting involved?”
“I heard rumors through the Ghost-vine about the Pyramid. They said it steals your shell. Lives there, like another you. They said it makes you do things.” Jinju pauses. Her iris flicks to Ana’s raised eyebrow. “Not helping?”
“Let’s just change the subject.”
Jinju squirms awkwardly. “You’ll see her soon.”
“I know.”
“They’re working directly with Ikora. She’s safe.”
“I know…”
Warm-tone reassurance trickles into the cabin through Ana’s helmet receiver.
“I KNOW. WHEN DID YOU EVEN GET HERE, RED?” Ana aggressively huffs in exasperation.
Tech mites traverse Jinju like a jungle gym. One dangles precariously from a shell flap. “Guess who’s there too.”
“How do you know this, and I don’t?”
“Ghost-vine. It’s Eris Morn. She’s working with the Guardian.”
“Eris?” Ana scoffs. “She’s not much of a conversationalist so the two of them should get along just fine.” She gestures to the mites. “Do you really want those crawling all over you?”
“Their names are Pho and Deim, and I love them.” Jinju coddles her mites. “Besides, it’s like Cam’s with us in spirit, right?”
Ana chuckles and scratches her brow before raising a fist in solidarity. “She is. To the brim.”
The shimmer surrounding the jump-ship jitters before abruptly smashing into empty space. Ana leans forward and looks out into the void.
“Um… where’s the planet?” She slowly rolls her head around the cockpit.
They drift through space on placid waves of nothing toward a distant nowhere. The vast luminous twinkle of the Milky Way plays out in panorama, though gloom-speckle pinholes prick gaps in the starry sea. The absence from them directly apparent to Ana’s eye like rays of darkness from a black sun through shear cosmic sheet.
Jinju perks up, internal sensors suddenly askew. “Something nabbed us right out of our jump. We’re off course by…” Jinju calculates, “…three AU?”
“What!?” Ana manually scans the trajectory equations in the nav-computer. “There’s nothing wrong with the math.”
||JUMP-DRIVE ERROR: MISALIGNMENT|| squawks on bubble speakers.
“Little late.”
Tart synesthetic tickle creeps red and patient. Low and pressing, as not to be heard by those that might be listening.
“Relax. I know we’re off course, but it’s not that far… relatively speaking.” Ana scrunches her face at a nav-screen as it’s overtaken by interference. “Okay, I can’t see where we are. Hang on.”
A slow wrinkle skulks across space. It presses up the fabric. Insignificant points between stars warp and spur small disturbances in the constellational congruence of the galaxy. From afar it is nothing. A flutter of wings in wind.
“It’s dark out here.” Jinju’s voice is distant as she peers outside. Beyond the canopy an expanse without horizon.
“That’s when the stars shine brightest, Jinju. Find a constellation for me so we can get our bearings.”
||GRAVITATIONAL WAVE ANOMALY DETECTED: JUMP-REALIGNMENT REQUIRED||
“Way ahead of you, ship.” Ana checks jump vectors and flicks through alignment procedures. Mav thrusters sputter to orient the ship toward Sol. Ana test-cycles the jump-drive. It revs and then chokes before locking. 
||GRAVITATIONAL WAVE ANOMALY DETECTED: JUMP HAZARD—LOCATION INCONCLUSIVE, CLEAR HAZARD||
“Okay, that’s not a comforting thing to hear.” Ana deploys a sensory buoy from the ship.
Rasputin stings and pricks red iron. Steady pressure. With localized insistence.
“Feel’s strange.” Jinju is distant. “We should go.”
Ana initiates recalibrations on the jump-drive’s positioning solution. “There’s definitely some weird space out there.”
||GRAVITATIONAL WAVE ANOMALY DETECTED||
The ship lurches. Ana’s stomach churns. Jinju vibrates violently in place, an outer shell of Light absorbing some form of force.
Red iron needles whistle tea-kettle pressure in white anxiety from Ana’s helmet.
Cloaked Shadows shift through the vacuum an eternity away and all too close; shown only when they wish to, to only whom they want.
Ana swallows to settle her stomach. “What even was that? Did we move?”
“Leave. Now please. Ana.” Jinju presses against the glass of the canopy, peering outward.
||SYSTEM REALIGNMENT: SOLUTION SECURED||
“There it is. I’ve got a jump-lock.”
||GRAVITATIONAL WAVE ANOMALY DETECTED||
“Again? Then we’re riding this one out of here.” Ana eye-balls adjustments for the gravitational wave into the nav-computer. “Punching jump in 3… 2… 1…”
They slip between folds in space. Formless wake propels them. The ship rides through sub-space at speeds far exceeding her jump-drive's capability. Color dulls in the slipstream. Frisson electrifies Ana's senses into timeless euphoria. The nose of the cockpit stretches ahead, drawn toward some distant vanishing point. She struggles to keep the flight stick straight. Her motions seem small, inconsequential and all too slow within the wave. Fluctuant pockets of drag flex and buck, threatening to throw them off into the unknown. The cockpit twists around her, indicator lights blink in metronomic sequence—purpose and pigment slowly materializing in her mind.
Hull integrity failing. "Not yet."
||COLLISION: BOW, CELESTIAL BODY DETECTED, AUTO-DROP FAILED||
Ana steadies her mind. She force-cancels the jump, seizing the drive and dumping them out into space before thrusters burn to steady them again.
Their emergence is dwarfed by a stratospheric colossus.
Uranus hangs, a daiquiri pearl set in tilted rings.
A grin overtakes Ana’s face. “Nailed it.”
Pale blue gleam inundates the canopy with planetary light. Ana plots an approach to the station. The trio slow burn forward, each silently collecting their faculties. Ahead: tiny beacons blip red. Satellite silhouettes take form out of the planet’s zealous glare. Instrument spokes jut from their polygonal chassis like old-war depth charges itching to trigger.
“Those are Warsats.” Jinju breaks the silence, eager to shift her mode of thought far from weird space and gravity waves.
“Finally, some luck," Ana says with relief. "I bet we can daisy-chain Rasputin into the station’s network through the defense system.”
“Oh, they’re powering up. Maybe we—”
Horns of responsive distortion roll across the cabin like a stress wave. Rasputin’s alert pings litter the canopy HUD.
“Brace!”
Ana pushes hard on the flight stick and reflexively dives under a barrage of laser fire. Nose thrusters roar vibration through her hands as she cuts to guide the ship vertical and tumbles into a barrel roll, slipping around follow-up bursts. A bolt skims shallow across her starboard side: ricochet. Shockwave tremors reverberate through the hull.
“Red, ping all incoming fire vectors! Jinju, arm the spikes!”
Plates split open along the belly of the ship. A drum-launcher of six Warspikes rolls out as Jinju links into the launcher's gunnery apparatus. Indicators blare onto the canopy HUD. Jinju sends two Warspikes straight into the first of fifteen Warsats blocking their path as Ana nudges the ship between incoming laser bursts.
Two spiked Warsats cease fire as their automated defense protocols are overridden, security software utterly failing to halt Rasputin’s invasive assimilation. They come back online—spikes blending into spokes—and swivel to gun down the closest still-hostile targets.
The assimilated twin Warsats thrust to reposition into a shield for Ana and Jinju as they close distance. Crimson flare shines around the Warsat shield as lasers chisel into them. Ana watches HUD pings for an opening between incoming bursts. She finds half a moment and burns hard on the main engine, then toggles full power to maneuvering thrusters to sling the ship under Rasputin’s shield and open a lane for Jinju.
Jinju unleashes four more spikes. They strike true. Rasputin spreads digital plague through the Warsat’s frameworks with each skewering hit. He demands subservience. Laser fire tears through space in all directions as Ana cuts between dueling satellites and rolls to evade overlapping firing arcs. Concussive shockwaves rattle the ship as defiant Warsats explode or fail one by one until the firing stops.
A field of deputized Warsats and debris dead-drift within the planet’s orbital current, back-lit by radiant mesopelagic glow. Beyond them, almost lost among cloud-cream atmosphere, Caelus station.
Ana releases her breath. It feels like she had been holding it since the jump. She forces short gulps of air into her aching lungs and lets her ship glide towards the station without guidance.
Jinju emerges from the gunnery apparatus and floats back to the dashboard. Pho and Deim appear from under her shell. “What was that, Ana? Back there.”
“The Warsats or the freaky gravity?”
“Either… both.”
“Your guess is as good as mine.”
“My guess worries me.”
“Let’s just pull this data and get home.”
“Agreed.”
Ana hangs her head in her hands and muffles a sardonic, “Nailed it.”
CAELUS STATION
Dim and powerless, it gently falls. The label grows at pace with Ana's measured approach. Rasputin's cohort of Warsats encircle her in a defensive phalanx. The station rotates to face the planet. It glitters in gas-giant grandeur as massive translucent hull plates display a desolate gut shrouded in sea-foam reflection. Jinju combs through station blueprints pouring in from Warsat data stores. Caelus consists of one long shaft containing a launch bay and spindly communication arrays at either end. Deeper, passed the launch bays, mostly maintenance frame space cap-stoned by a large reinforced mainframe housing complete with a thick-glass viewing ceiling. Orbiting ringlets, indicated as "Biomes" 1, 2, and 3, spin lazily in unison with the central structure, held in position by mag-lock paddocks that align with metallic rungs set into the station hub's outer plating.
Jinju locates several unpowered docking points before settling on entering through one of the station's bays. She snaps a HUD ping on the canopy.
"Here. This one is open, though it doesn’t look like anything but the outer rings are still pressurized."
"Ready for a spacewalk?" Ana guides them to the bay, catching sight of the transparent interior solar-glass paneling of the rotating ringlets. Clean rivers slosh along the outer ring underneath a dividing sieve. Earthen dirt sprouts abundance above.
"Are those greenhouses?"
"I think so. Everything seems to be locked under a file named 'contingency.'"
"That's not ominous," Ana says, scooping her helmet from its hook and swiping 18 Kelvins from a footlocker.
"We need mainframe access."
"When do we not?" Ana looks at the dark station. It is a grave of potential awaiting the next planet-rise.
Jinju prepares Ana's bandolier. Mites patiently tap pin-legs as they wait for attention.
Ana dons her helmet and puts a hand on the canopy release pulley. "You're not bringing those, are you?"
The bay is still: a snapshot of countless possible failures in the face of challenge. It holds only one ship. The bulbous craft lay broken, dropped from its support brackets in denial of an attempted launch. Reflective hexagonal plates sparkle like space dust as the station faces Uranus' light. Scorch stains blacken the far wall behind the craft's ruined ion thruster.
"The propulsion system is missing its ion cell. It doesn't look like damage, but obviously a lot went wrong here."
Jinju beams light over the fuselage as they float through the ruptured bay in weightlessness. The reflective hull is filled with Exos. Mannequin cadavers hang frozen on silk threads, surrounded by globular blobs of various fluids. Loose-wire tangle sags around the lifeless many. One or two glides freely within the cabin. Their chest plates share a pristine logo.
ECHO-1
Ana locates a crumpled worker frame beside the bay’s internal air lock and signals Jinju to come over.
Jinju puffs toward Ana on pulses of Light. Remnants and dust hold motionless in the vacuum. Their groupings, jostled and drawn to each other since the bay's collapse, form tiny gravitational microcosms; a new faux system trapped in the failed husk of a past age.
She flicks her helmet microphone on. "Hey, what about just normal frame access?"
The Ghost sweeps the frame and gets to work. "This isn’t just some mop-bot. This is the Station Manager. Let's get it inside."
Ana props a foot on the wall and forces the airlock closed behind them. Mag-boot clinks to tile. Dust floor, echoing groans, and humid taste populate the station. Even through her respirator the stale flavors of plant matter and dirt coat Ana's tongue in grist-like film. She turns to Jinju, busy at work splicing bad connections within the frame and spinning light to charge its power unit.
"It’ll work, but this unit won’t hold power. It’ll only last as long as I charge it."
"You’re a miracle worker, Jinju."
Jinju cheeps.
She solders a loose line. “It should also be a little more… talkative.”
Ana peers down the hall. From their current position, the airlock functions like an estuary flowing into the rest of the station. She could almost see clear to the central mainframe hub atop a raised panel fortification in the middle of the room. It sits below a ceiling of translucent plates, rimmed in distant ringlet halos falling under shadow. A stairway aligned with the launch bays on either side provides access.
The Frame sparks to life, looks directly at Ana, and speaks with grating age to its voice.
“Welcome, Ana Bray! Very excited to see a Bray walk this hall again. It has been a long time.”
Ana grasps at words. Jinju shrugs, plugs of Light toss in zero-G.
The Frame stands on magnetized foot cups and dusts itself off, nearly bumping into Jinju. “Excuse me, small servo bot."
“Servo b?"
The Frame turns to Ana. “How may I be of assistance?"
“I’ll unplug you.”
The Frame ignores her.
Ana smirks at Jinju, then looks at the Frame.
"Walk with me," she says, briskly moving deeper into the station.
The two converse with Jinju in tow.
The main section of the station is a wide-open hall supported by struts. In large red lettering the words:
ECHO PROJECT
OUR LEGACY BUILDS THE HORIZON
Dozens of maintenance frame plates line the floor. Some open. Some semi-raised with collapsed frames steps away, half-responding to a catastrophe. A scene in disorder.
"Zilch on Atlas.”
Ana stares out the translucent ceiling, wistful as the Frame waits for another question.
“So those crops in the rings are food supplies for a colony mission."
"Yes. Thank you for asking that, Ana Bray."
"Yeah. And the colony ships are full of Exos?"
"Partially. ECHO-1 and ECHO-2 were stocked with Exo unit crews. As you know, their task was to establish and oversee embryonic development at Colony M31, Site-A and Site-B."
"If Rasputin got out of hand, they weren't planning on resetting him.”
"I don’t have access to Clovis 1-12 directories."
“They just assumed he would win. The Pillory is a last-ditch panic room.”
"I don’t have access to Clovis 1-12 directories."
Jinju’s iris flicks back and forth between the two. Her tiny Light-leash hums.
Ana massages her palm. “What was my role in all this?”
“As you know, your work on the Warmind made you a prime asset to oversee applicant selection.”
“I chose the people in there?”
Ana watches the ringlet spin, her mind repeating the statement back to her. Artificial night slips back to artificial day as the station's rotation continues.
“As you know, yes. Additionally, your work on the Warmind, as you know, was vital to the establishment of Clovis 1-12.”
“Do I know where the candidates came from? Did they volunteer?”
“I do not have access to candidate profiles.”
Ana shuts her eyes and takes a steady breath.
“You said I helped with the Pillory stations?”
“Yes.”
“How so?”
"I don’t have access to Clovis 1-12 directories."
She nods and lets her helmet slink back to rest on her shoulders. “I think I can piece it together on my own. Is this station linked to any other sites?”
Her gaze returns to the distant ringlet, lit by the recurring planet-rise. Her augmented eyes pick at details.
“As you know, Miss Bray, there are thirteen CLOVIS sites that this station is linked to.”
“Thirteen? What’s the thirteenth?”
The plant life is still vibrant. Regimented.
“Paragon access does not permit that information.”
“You hear that, Jinju? We’re all just slaves to circumstance.”
Jinju chirps. “I’d like to think our choices matter a little. I’d like to think mine did.”
Ana smiles at her. “Yeah.”
“You are a Bray.” The frame pauses.
They lack signs of overgrowth.
Well kept.
“So?” Ana turns to the Frame.
“ECHO project requires a station link with DEAD-ROCK resources.”
Ana eyes go wide. “Jinju disengage that cipher thing.” Over her shoulder, a glint shines from the far central ringlet. Biome 2.
Jinju glides forward. “What is that?”
Ana looks at Jinju. “The verbal cipher.” She pauses and traces Jinju’s eyeline to face Uranus. Ana’s eyes adjust to sieve out the glaring brightness. “What’s what?” She puts a hand to her visor and squints.
An ion lance threads the station from the distant ringlet.
It pierces Ana’s chest clean through.
Brick-stained atmosphere hisses out of her suit, searing on smoldering fabric fringe.
Jinju’s iris widens with confused shock.
Howling storms slam salt-coarse keys in Ana’s helmet.
End
ACRIMONY
ECHO-1
CAELUS STATION — COLLAPSE
"DEAD-ROCK SEIZURE IN ACTION: Station Manager initiate manual override in ECHO-1 Launch Bay."
"ALERT: This station is experiencing power fluctuations. Emergency power will run until—
ECHO-0
He awakens alone. A fluke. Others hang around Him, but they remain in the dream. Electrical surge prickles through his entire body. A screen in front of his face begins playing a recording complete with visual aid:
"Welcome to ECHO-1. Before your departure, you should have been briefed by a Station Warden If you don't recall your Station Warden, please alert your Crew Captain. Now then, my name is Ana Bray, and you're one of the lucky few who has been selected for the ECHO Project. The future of Humanity rests on your sho—"
The recording is interrupted as emergency sirens blare through the station.
"STATION HAZARDS: GRAVITATIONAL ANOMALY | STERILE NEUTRINO BURSTS | Please remain calm."
"OVERRIDE BROADCAST: via ECHO-LINK//:PILLORY-SUBLOCK.R./:SKYSHOCK ALERT: TRANSIENT NEAR EXTRASOLAR EVENT:—
Power failures wrack the station in rolling thunder. The Exo slumps, lifeless until its next reset.
ECHO-7
Alone.
The recording. He finds familiarity in the newness. The face on the screen seems kind—
"STATION HAZARDS: ROLLING SURGES IN WARDS 1, 2, 3. Please remain calm."
Thunder. Pain to death. Electro-static purge, triggering a reset.
ECHO-22
He awakens to rolling, thunderous darkness and pain. The screen does not illuminate.
Barely audible words form from the air:
"Primary propulsion systems failing. Auxiliary systems near depletion. Planetary impact unavoidable. Distress triggered."
Meaningless. He struggles against chains.
Eons pass. His bonds will not break. His mind fragments and corrupts.
He wishes he could bleed. He wishes he could die. He wonders where the Wardens are.
ECHO-41
Short lives of confusion and pain. He grasps at falling in every direction. There is nothing to grip.
ECHO-89
Thunder, again.
ECHO-173
And again.
ECHO-390
Until one day:
He hangs in the futile passage of time.
A creeping madness weaves its way in solitude.
ECHO-877
Thunder. Thunder. Thunder.
The Warden speaks for the first time in many storms. Her twisted promises are fresh to His ear.
"When we return." Etched in mind.
Wake and sleep. Struggle. Dream and wake. Struggle. Endless. Innumerable. Stillbirths. Tomb spasms. Thunderous pain. Sweet death.
ECHO- 2̷͉͙̜̗͍̙̭̤̘̪͖͈͛̅͑̈̀̾6̸̡͇̼̦̲̩͎̟̠̬̳̲̂̀̉͐̃̈́ͅ2̵̡͎͚̳̠̫̮͉̍̉̌̒͑̓͗͛̉̈́̕̚͝5̸̨̭͚͔̥̲̫̈́̂̈́̊̋͗͑͛͑͝͝
Thunder, one final time. The storm gives life, but never came to take.
He slips from rot shackles. Worn with age. Weary, they snap at slightest motion. Untold rotations pass without movement. Freedom?
He matures questions. A hunger wells up within him.
He travels the station. From Tomb Bay, to the Mind Shell, to the Sealed Space. In dark, and in light.
The Mind Shell teaches Him the new roads. Teaches Him the majesty of the Rings. Teaches him the key.
He walks the Rings.
He tends to His little freedoms. He cultivates. He grows. He does, unknowingly, as He was meant to do.
The Mind Shell tells Him of the Bridge. Tells him of His ancestors. Speaks of the "ECHO LINK".
The knowledge does not leave His thoughts.
He seeks a meaning beyond routine.
The Tomb Bay kept secrets. He had not returned since He walked the Rings. It is a shallow sepulcher.
Brothers and Sisters dreaming. Never to wake as He had.
He digs treasures from their graves. Digs knowledge from the Prison's many minds.
Picks lies from the bones of truth.
He drinks the memories of Echoes passed.
He finds the Prison's purpose. A Bridge's end. If He holds this end, perhaps the Wardens hold the other.
The many minds. The liar's words. Takers. They would know of his escape.
The Wardens would come to take with fresh shackles.
He prepares. He learns from the Warden's alchemy.
He digs through the carcass of his once-mighty Tomb.
From hollow basin, He seizes Starlight power to wield from afar. From its flesh: adorns Himself with a
cloak of lies to fool. He armors his soul against the Thunder that kills.
He opens the Bridge at his end and waits.
ECHO- 2̷͉͙̜̗͍̙̭̤̘̪͖͈͛̅͑̈̀̾6̸̡͇̼̦̲̩͎̟̠̬̳̲̂̀̉͐̃̈́ͅ2̵̡͎͚̳̠̫̮͉̍̉̌̒͑̓͗͛̉̈́̕̚͝5̸̭͚̈́̂̈́̊̋͗͑͛͑͝͝- Present Day
He walks the ring when She arrives.
The Warden rides in with finality and judgement.
A red-light storm at Her back.
She had followed the Bridge, as He had hoped. She leads many shells, but only One descends with Her.
She brings with Her the Thunder, and He fears its wicked spark. He places trust to his plated frame.
He watches Her trespass in the Tomb Bay. Sees Her defile the Mind Shell's grand hall.
The Wardens reap what had been sown.
As Wardens always do. She comes to collect him.
He raises his Starlight.
But a Warden is not so easily slain, and She has many allies.
End
DESCENDENT
CAELUS STATION
ORBIT — URANUS
She is submerged.
Light sways just above a tense surface.
Something far below stirs.
The Light brightens to blind.
Rasputin weeps a terrible cacophony of anguish.
Ana gasps for breath. Her head swims in effort.
(!) HYPOXEMIA: b/o 73% (!)
“Hold still! Your suit is leaking!” Jinju quickens Light into Ana's punctured suit, her Iris jittering from spot to spot as oxygen spurts around her in foggy clouds.
Ana shakes dizziness out of her head. A smoldering frame is sprawled a few meters away. She droops flat to a support beam that runs up to the mainframe office.
“I got shot…” The realization doubles back. “I got shot?”
Ana pats her chest and stiffens. She draws in shallow breath.
“Jinju, did you see where it came from?”
“Central ring. I dragged you into cover. Stop moving so much.”
Ana peeks around the strut; an ion thread zips by and stings her helmet.
Rasputin obliterates every square inch of ringlet within ten meters of the ion beam’s origin in response.
Sections of the central ringlet combust and explode under heavy bombardment. The ring buckles, splitting along the seams and splaying out into space. Magnetic anchors fail as the halo fractures and splits away from the station's central architecture. Fragments rush away toward the planet; Caelus’ ruin falls to Uranus in lingering prolicidal consummation.
“RASPUTIN STOP!” Laser fire halts immediately. “You’re gunna sink the whole station!”
Tense finger waits on hair trigger. Ana works her starving lungs.
(!) HYPOXEMIA: b/o 67% (!)
“Ana, you need to stop breathing so much.” Jinju bobs with Ana’s head and quickly reseals her visor.
“Can’t hold still.” Ana shakily stands and points up at the dislodged ringlet spinning above her. “Bad angle.”
“I’m pretty sure whatever shot you is dead. Stop talking. You're getting delirious."
Wreckage looms far over Ana’s shoulder. The remaining two halos slowly spin in ignorance through their sibling's burial-dust cloud. Eerie distortion soars across the divide between station and rings, the veneer of invisibility momentarily lost in flight as rubble collides with its form. Rasputin perceives the abnormality.
Harmonic chimes across Ana’s visor resonate and combine into uniform patterned homogeny.
“Active camouflage?” Ana sucks thin atmosphere, a wheezing undertone to her breath. “Jinju, give me an auditory visualizer.”
Jinju whirs and dips back to Ana's suit. “Compiling an interface. Now. Hold. Still.”
(!) HYPOXEMIA: b/o 65% (!)
A ceiling panel twenty meters from Ana erupts in brittle plastic shards that glisten and spin like tiny neutron stars, catching the last of Uranus' light as the station beings to turn dark. Amorphous form thuds into the floor, shattering tiles in a plume of dust that stretches up into a spire before slowly holding in place. The form tumbles to a stop. It stands between her and the open launch bay and slings a kit-bashed Ion caster aside, depleted. Hexagonal patterns stutter to blend with the station interior as the room rolls into tenebrous obscurity. For an instant, an Exo takes form, and then nothing as its cloaking shroud flashes and re-engages in the dark.
Ana doesn’t wait. She rushes heavy clunking boots up the stairs to the mainframe, arrhythmic tremors beat through her heart. Jinju deactivates the switch on Ana's mag-boots and hurls her through the door with a forceful pulse of Light. She speeds in behind Ana, finishing her suit with Light stitch as Ana slams the door shut.
“Ana. Hang in there.” Jinju orients Ana and reactivates her mag-boots.
Ana's feet clomp to the floor. She hangs from them, a loose timber bending in the wind.
Jinju finishes her patch job. New fabric seals air-tight.
"You're good. You're good. Don't pass out. Your suit is re-oxygenating."
(!) HYPOXEMIA: b/o 59% (!)
Stabilizing…
The words are intensely bright on her visor against the darkening room.
"Auditory overlay complete. Check your visor." Jinju's voice focuses her.
"I just… need a minute…" Ana speaks between gulps of air. An unsteady hand draws 18 Kelvins. The mainframe room orients around her more clearly with each breath. It is stark, a large lone desk of singular oak commands the center of the room. A console screen, dead, is embedded in the surface.
Rasputin drops positional estimation pings into her HUD in an attempt to track her assailant. She steps backward, away from the door she had entered through and toward the opposing stairway's door.
Her eyes pick up faint quivers from outside. Indirect. Resonate white noise pings like interference on her visor. She focuses on each occurrence, looking for a note out of rhythm.
Behind.
She spins as the Exo crashes through the secondary entrance at her back. The door snaps from its hinges in a torrent of dust and rackets Jinju into glass.
"Jinju!"
Ana loses track of her attacker momentarily in the darkness before it pushes off from a hard surface, triggering her visor. She spits off rounds from 18 Kelvins. Some find their mark, puncturing the camouflage shroud and revealing her adversary before impotently fizzling on the Exo's outer shell. It covers the gap with surprising speed and catches her gun hand; Ana discharges an arc round; tiny bolts reach across to the Exo’s metal skull in vain as it scorches ceiling.
Bones pop in her fingers and wrist.
(!) HYPOXEMIA: b/o 68% (!)
Stabilizing…
The Exo flattens its other hand and stabs toward her stomach.
"Die. Warden."
Adrenal instinct floods Ana's body. She stops it. They lock. Ana’s vision blurs. She gasps for breath. Muscles quiver in her arms, desperate for oxygen. A spark cinders in her.
"Get off her!"
Jinju zips toward the Exo and paddles Pho and Deim onto it with a flick of her shell. The mites crawl under the Exo's exterior plating and send shock-sting bites through its systems, seizing its joints for a few precious seconds.
Jinju rushes to Ana's side. The Ghost deconstructs itself, orbital shell bits swirl around a core of coalescing Light. She fills the room like a brilliant star, overcharging her wayward Guardian.
Ana's crushed bones reforge. Light fills her eyes. Her grip, still holding against the seizing Exo's bladed thrust, liquefies its plated hand to scrap. A glorious crown of Solar flame erupts from her visor and she cracks her forehead into the Exo’s face. It reels, tufts of flame extinguish in the vacuum. Ana kicks away.
Solar might engulfs 18 Kelvins. Ana hammers off two rounds of celestial annihilation. They melt straight through the Exo, puncture the station plating, and scream through space for light years.
The Exo slumps, a molten heap.
It draws breath.
“Resilient.” Ana drops to a knee. Barrel trained on the Exo's head.
She takes a full breath. The Exo’s eyes are unflinchingly locked to her. It refuses to die.
It points to Ana’s badge with its still-blistering hand.
“Bray. Warden.”
She says the only thing the can think to say: “Who were you?”
It hesitates. “Echoes.”
Her head droops. “How many did you live?” She looks to find his number designation, but it is missing.
It looks passed her as Uranus' light once again trickles through the station. “Echoes… grow… Wardens… keep…”
“What did I do to them?”
Ana stares at Echo’s husk. The faint glow of the desk's lit console screen grays out her face behind her visor.
She sits dead-still in rotation. She could stare forever, if she only had enough time.
Jinju nudges her shoulder. “I've got the mainframe data.”
Ana is devoid of thought at the mainframe access console. She watches as Uranus comes back into view over and over again. It dominates the station’s viewing port. She maps the movement of the clouds along the surface, but only ever on the surface, and sees how they differ from the previous iteration on their last spin. She wonders if they are different underneath.
Stable major chords strum in Ana’s helmet, getting caught in the cracked visor glass.
She finally speaks, decisive. “Dislodge the other ringlet paddocks. Warsats can tow them back to the Tower. Skim the shadow-networks for anything else they can use. Get some good from this…”
“Ana, the Warsats could haul this whole station as long as we do it soon.”
Caelus rotates away into shadow once again, and the planet’s sheen fades from sight. Ana clicks a spring-loaded slot on the desk. It snaps to, bearing a placard of ownership.
CLOVIS BRAY
Ana stands. Steady.
“It’s okay to let some things be forgotten.”
End
submitted by ReyMysterio13 to DestinyLore [link] [comments]

Lessons learned as a Match applicant.

This was written as an applicant in therapy medical physics and will reflect that fact. Some of these may be personal or obvious, but hopefully they will help someone preparing for their own residency applications.
  1. Your statement should be all about soft, personal facts. Hard facts (skills or accomplishments) should be on your CV, and need not be repeated here. Examples: Why do you want to be a medical physicist, what are you looking for, how did you get here, and what are some personality traits or hobbies you value.
  2. Do not be afraid to APPLY to lots of places (at LEAST 30 of them). Competitive sites are unlikely to live up to your expectations, while less competitive sites may really surprise you with how well they are set up. No matter what you expect, you will be surprised by some of the sites - for better or worse.
  3. Contrary to what I was told, there is no shame in applying to both diagnostic and therapy programs at the same time if you're on the fence. Just don't apply to both the branches at the same site, since it can be seen as indecisive.
  4. Do your research. There is no shortcut here, and we all look for different things. I recommend making a spreadsheet or Word document listing things like:
    1. Pay & benefits.
    2. Program duration.
    3. How heavily research is emphasized.
    4. Whether they provide training in the use of certain machines (e.g. would you rather go to a Varian or Elekta site? Is proton accreditation important to you?).
    5. Will they take an active part in preparing you for boards, or is that left up to you? E.g. do they give you practice written and oral exams? These could be either favorable or unfavorable, depending on how you learn.
  5. Do not RANK any backup sites (i.e. places you would be miserable). Once you certify your ranking, you are legally obligated to accept any match you are given. Sites' preferences count almost as much as your own, but they also have the advantage of experience, and may know ways to nudge the system in their favor. So if they like you, but you don't like them, do not even put them at the bottom of your ranking list. Take them completely off it.
    1. I did not match the first time around and did not rank a backup site. I spent the year working as a junior physicist at a local hospital, and I am glad I did. It helped me tremendously when preparing for interviews, and ensured that when I complete my residency, I will have a job waiting for me. The pay is typically very respectable too. It is not worth the risk of matching with a place that will make you miserable, or where you suspect they might hold your completion letter hostage.
  6. Practice interviewing. Sit still and just think of questions they are likely to ask, both clinical and theoretical ones. Brain storm. Write them down, and then research the answers. Examples of technical questions:
    1. Recognize an MRI vs CT image and know how to address common artifacts for each.
    2. Know all the details of various scattering mechanisms (including the Klein-Nishina formula and correlations and powers of E/Z).
    3. Know cavity theories inside and out.
    4. Be able to reproduce PDD curves for electron, proton and photon beams of different energies. You should know both general tendencies and specific numbers.
    5. Know terms like flatness, symmetry, penumbra and effective range like the back of your hand.
    6. Know the difference between KERMA, CEMA and Dose.
    7. Know how an ion chamber is used and how to convert from measured values (Coulombs) to Dose (Gy). Hint: Review TG-51.
    8. Know TG-51 like the back of your hand (specifically how each factor in the conversion equation is determined, what it means and how it is used). Other reports that may be useful to know include TG 43, TG 142 and NCRP 151 (though you can probable skip chapter 7 and out). I'm sure there are others as well.
    9. No matter how many times you have read Khan, read it again. There's bound to be some detail you didn't memorize last time, and pretty much anything in Khan is fair game for questions.
    10. Be ready to discuss the different Linac designs down to the tiniest levels. For example: I was asked to draw detailed schematics of how Varian's klystron design has changed from generation to generation, and if/why Varian linacs might produce more neutron radiation than Elekta.
    11. Know the factors involved in shielding calculations: Primary vs secondary barriers, attenuation differences between light and heavy concrete. Usage, occupancy and workload factors. Special procedures (TBI). Mazes vs direct shielding doors, and how these impact neutron dose to the patient.
  7. Soft, personal questions you may be asked:
    1. Make a list of ALL your hobbies. It's easy to forget to list some of them when you're nervous, but hobbies are a great way to establish a personal relationship with the interviewers, and to help them remember you when the ranking time comes. Some hobbies are better suited to certain cities, but musical instruments or volunteering are always a safe bet.
    2. How did you decide you wanted to be a medical physicist? Why not [MD/Academic/Private research/etc]? One answer I heard: If you are an MD, you must carry a lot of uncertainty and worry on the inside. If you are physicist and you are unsure, it is your JOB to remove that uncertainty (i.e. QA). Likewise, being able to work on some of the most high tech devices ever built, or wanting to help people are good to mention too, but keep in mind that these answers may not be unique to the medical physicist field.
    3. Why did you apply to this particular program? What can they do for you? Look up the program's website and find out what machines they have. If they are chiefly Varian or Elekta, or if they have specific machines you're interested in (proton, True Beam, etc), that can be a good reason. Likewise, if they have an organized syllabus with definite interest in teaching residents, that's great too.
    4. What can you do for us? What are some personality traits which make you particularly appealing as a resident? Emphasize work ethic, personal drive/ambition/initiative or a broad academic background. If your research background matches that of one of the interviewers, it's a chance to bond about it. If your research background doesn't match any of theirs, then you could provide new expertise that the group is missing. Think of anything that may come off as a negative, and find a way to make it into a positive so that, if asked, you'll know how to respond.
    5. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Do you want stable, meaningful employment? Or are you more ambitious? Are you looking to be chief physicist somewhere? Do you want to remain in that area?
  8. There will be a time for you to ask them questions as well, so have some thoughtful, insightful and useful questions planned. You can then use these questions with every staff member and site you interview, so having a few good questions planned is very important and will help you tremendously. It also keeps the conversation going, because awkward silences help nobody.
  9. Be positive. Talk about the things you like. Don't even mention those things you dislike. And if you had to leave a program part way through, do not disparage that program, even if they deserve it. Remember: If you talk badly about other programs, how do they know you won't talk badly about this program too?
  10. A big part of the interview is seeing how you respond when you do not know the answer to a question. Do not bluff - they will be looking for exactly that, and it will be very hard to trick them. They need to be able to trust you, so admit it when you're unsure, and after each interview, make note of the things you need to look up before your next interview.
  11. Be ready to give a presentation at each site you visit - sometimes you get to choose the topic, other times they will assign you a topic. They will tell you ahead of time, and will also tell you how long the presentation should be. If they let you choose the topic and you have a few options to pick from, it does not hurt to email them and ask if there are any particular topics they would prefer.
  12. When you do give a presentation, practice it and polish it until it is far too long, then trim it down. If you think it's short enough, you're wrong. They have to hear many interviews, most of which go over time. So it is likely better to err on the succinct side. The presentation should be formal, but not boring. Some color is good. If English is not your first language, ask someone to critique your presentation. And lastly, if you're going to have animations in your slides, try to keep them at a reasonable size, since you will likely end up having to email the presentation to the site, and most email providers have a maximum size they will send/receive (25MB for Gmail for example). If you cannot shrink it enough, upload it to a cloud service and give them a link so they can download it that way instead.
  13. Dress formally. It is better to err on the overly formal side. For men it is pretty simple: A nice suit and tie is best. A tux is fine too. Jeans are not. For women there's myriad options to consider, so use your own judgment, but again, err on the formal side. Do not wear the color red. Have your outfit dry cleaned and deodorized between interviews - you will have a lot on your mind, and you should not be worried about your appearance. Besides, dry cleaning is not very expensive when you consider what's at stake. Due to the volume of applicants, even subtle differences like clothing can be the tie-breaking factor (and the color red was explicitly mentioned).
  14. This will be expensive. I recommend setting aside at LEAST $500 per on-site interview. If they offer a Skype interview beforehand, do it. While air fare will be the greatest expense, hotel, food, in-city transport (UbeBus/Rental/etc) and so forth can easily get into the triple digits. Just an Uber ride from the airport to the hospital can sometimes cost over $100 each way. So plan ahead!
A few red flags to look for:
  1. How many hours per week does a resident typically work? Typically this ranges from 45-60. Any less and you may not learn as much as you should. Any more and you may end up a mindless IMRT/Machine QA drone.
  2. You will likely have a chance to speak with current residents without the presence of other staff members. If they will not allow you to speak with current or past residents at all, it may be a bad sign, or it may be a simple schedule conflict.
  3. You will likely get a tour of the facilities. Obviously pay attention to the state of the devices, but also make note of the other staff: Do they seem unhappy or overworked? If so, it may be an indication of how you may be treated.
  4. Research requirements. While it is the official stance of CAMPEP that residencies may not demand research, ultimately this means very little, since a residency director may withhold your residency completion letter for any reason. Nothing you invent or publish during your residency belongs to you financially, and a few places see residents as nothing more than cheap labor and a source of research revenue. If they are willing to hold your completion letter hostage for this reason, how do you know they won't do it for other reasons?
  5. Who does Machine QA? If it's residents AND staff, that's great. If it's just residents, it may be an indication of poor planning, or that they just want someone to do their job for them.
  6. They should have a schedule or syllabus. Make sure it includes all the things you want to learn.
  7. Look up their program statistics. If you see many drop-outs, or if many of them have not passed their boards within a few years, it may signify that something is amiss about the program.
  8. What is the relationship between MDs, dosimetrists, therapists and physicists? What is the power gap and in which direction does it point? Do they get along, or is it a Machiavellian power struggle?
  9. Keep an eye out for anyone who has a personal relationship with the interviewers. Nepotism is as prevalent here as anywhere else, and may completely bypass any amount of knowledge or experience. Likewise, some sites I have been to will trade or sell preferential rankings. Sadly, this is essentially impossible to prove, so if you see a site which does this, just walk away and spread the word. Ultimately, you only get to pick one site as your #1. Don't waste it on a site where you never had a chance anyway.
  10. Not responding to emails may be an indication that they are overworked, that they do not care, or that any answer would reflect poorly on them. Either way, it's not a good sign.
Things I do not think are very important:
  1. Cell Biology. You should know basic anatomy and how to recognize *major* organs/landmarks on an axial slice of the abdomen, chest or skull, and should know terms like Relative Biological Effect, or Equivalent Dose. You should also know recommended exposure limits (e.g. mSv/month). You will not need to know survival models, cohorts of radiation exposure or chemo agents.
  2. How to operate the software suites. I was already extremely familiar with the ins and outs of many software packages, but nothing even remotely related to any of them came up in any interview.
Sorry for the wall of text, but these are some of the things I would have wanted to be told when I was preparing for my interviews. I ended up matching If this helps anyone learn from my mistakes, I could not be happier.
Also, keep in mind that this was all written based on my own personal experience, and is almost certainly no indication of anyone else's experience. And frankly, if your experience was very different from mine, I would love to hear about it.
submitted by skywyze to MedicalPhysics [link] [comments]

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