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Mercedes Testing Review/Season Preview - /r/Formula 1 Editorial Team

Words by christopherkj
Photos by DanielCoyle
Drivers: Lewis Hamilton (UK) and Valtteri Bottas (FIN)
Testing Review
Mercedes entered the 2020 preseason as the title favorites and the two Barcelona tests have only backed that perception up.
For starters, the team blitzed the track to set the outright fastest lap of the six days - Valtteri Bottas’ 1:15.732 was barely three tenths off his 2019 Spanish Grand Prix pole time, clearly showing Mercedes means business.
While evaluating team performance based on testing lap times isn’t reliable, lap counts are reliable data points we can use to infer how successfully a team is running their programme and how well-prepared they will be at Melbourne. On that front, Mercedes have dealt a strong blow to the competition, running entire race-distances more laps than some of their rivals. However strong the car they first brought to Catalunya may be, it will certainly only get stronger with the updates the team will certainly install in the car before the race weekend in Australia.
As if leading the pack on track wasn’t enough, Mercedes also shaded the rest of the teams in the press. Their novel Dual Axis Steering (DAS) system clearly demonstrates how the Brackley team is determined to improve despite their dominant recent past. By adjusting toe angles in motion, Mercedes may have an edge on the competition in car setup and tire management. Reminiscent of such eye-catching innovations as Brawn’s double-diffuser and McLaren’s F-duct,, DAS has everyone talking of Mercedes’ inevitability before the season has even begun.
The drivers can feel it, too. Although Lewis Hamilton did express concern over the reliability of the team’s engine, both he and Bottas have acknowledged that the car is a big step up from last year’s W10. With both drivers seemingly comfortable with their machines, the duo looks like a good bet to extract nothing but the absolute maximum from the W11.
Season Preview
If Mercedes’ terrific preseason showing is actually reflective of their true pace, the Silver Arrows may cruise to glory yet again. If Red Bull, Ferrari, or the pink W10 can hold them accountable, we will be in for a great title fight. Regardless of the specific outcome, here are just a few of the reasons why Mercedes is going to be the most exciting team to watch in 2020.
To begin with, an intra-team title fight is not off the cards. Bottas kicked off 2019 with a splash of energy unobserved in him before. Although it is true that his brilliance trailed off, and he was unable to consistently be that elusive Bottas 2.0, it is hard to deny that he has made a step up in qualifying and that he is sometimes able to decisively beat Hamilton (as in the Australian and Japanese GPs last year). Anyone who seriously believes the Finn doesn’t have the drive in him to win is kidding themselves - F1 drivers are notorious for their ambition and determination and Bottas is no exception. The real question is: how can he find the consistency required to beat the 6-time champ?
Speaking of questions, the big question in the Mercedes garage is driver line-up going forward, as both Hamilton and Bottas are scheduled to be free agents after 2020. As one of the most sought-after talents in the whole paddock, Hamilton probably has enough leverage to end up at almost anywhere he wants for any price he wants. A legacy role in Mercedes, a Schumacher-emulating transfer to Ferrari, or a mic-drop retirement are all options, but in the end it will come down to what Hamilton himself wants (which likely means staying at Mercedes and possibly winning a lot in the next few years). For Bottas, the calculus is more straightforward: he will seek to stay at a top-tier team. With the grid filled to the brim with talent and youth, Valtteri will once again have to put his foot to the pedal in order to put his pen to a good contract (George Russell clearly waiting in the wings for a chance to step up to Mercedes).
The German juggernaut has the opportunity to cement itself as the best team of all time this year. Whoever your allegiances lie with, you cannot deny that the team have come as close to perfection as is possible in this sport. With six straight double world championships already in the books, 2020 could see Mercedes be undefeated through the entirety of the first turbo-hybrid era. An achievement so incomprehensibly astonishing that every other era of domination would pale in comparison, propelling Mercedes to a realm of greatness once unimagined.
And the winter test is likely to have been a prelude of what lies ahead. Regardless of which way the pendulum swings for the team, we can rest assured - there will be plenty of spectacle coming our way from Mercedes in 2020.
Predictions
90% chance: Mercedes overtakes Ferrari in terms of front row lockouts (currently, the reds sit at the top of that table with 65 while the Silver Arrows are just one shy, at 64).
50% chance: The qualifying battle between Hamilton and Bottas is the closest it has ever been, but Bottas ultimately wins it.
10% chance: Toto Wolff steps down as Mercedes’ Team Principal, citing the desire to pursue other projects full-time and the fact that he has achieved just about all there is to in Formula 1.
submitted by F1-Editorial to formula1 [link] [comments]

Anti-Corruption & News - May/30/2019: Free medications for 200,000 additional people.... Cassations Court... Business law reforms... Government cuts itself... Exports up again... Tax waiver for >40bln new investments... Military service changes... Gambling stats... lots of other stories inside

Disclaimer: All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law, even if they may sound as being guilty. Currency in Armenian Drams unless specified otherwise.
Yesterday, Cassations court took the Kocharyan case paperwork back so it could make a copy. Today, a new Cassations judge has been appointed to hear the case in which the prosecutors are challenging the earlier verdict.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/162725
Artsakh war commando and politician Samvel Babayan claims that his political opponent (and Artsakh president candidate) Araik Harutyunyan's gangs opened fire towards his car near the Sevan-Martuni freeway. Babayan gave specific names and said the gangs are directly under the protection of Harutyunyan. Babayan has asked NSS to investigate. Babayan said these armed gangs are also active in Artsakh and spread terror among the population. Babayan threatened to act himself if nothing is done to stop them.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/162653
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The accused Araik Harutyunyan has denied the accusations. Called it a misinformation. Urged Babayan not to "blackmail" them. He said if there is a personal conflict between Babayan and other participants, the police should investigate to find out what happened.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/162679
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NSS chief Vanetsyan says the participants are known, and it's clear what happened. Says the incident did happen and it was a result of financial disputes between two groups of people.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/976663.html
The government held a session today.
They approved an amendment to the bankruptcy declaration laws. Justice Minister Zeynalyan says the change will also help to improve Armenia's rating in "Doing Business" index. Numerous transparency, efficiency and rights protections reforms are proposed. (still needs a Parliamentary approval)
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/976672.html
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Another reform was approved regarding Cadastre committee (property registrations).
Physically stamping the documents will no longer be necessary. This will improve electronic and paperless processing, and better integrate with other agencies' work. The property ownership certificates will change. (needs Parliamentary approval)
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/976693.html
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Pashinyan noted that this is the last time that 17 ministries are participating in a government session. Soon it will be cut due to the recently adopted law. 27 deputy Ministers and aides were laid off today. Some ministries will merge soon.
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Pashinyan noted that the industry and the economy as a whole are growing at a fast rate, but he was worried about the recent drop in exports in the first 3 months of 2019.
The latest numbers for April show the exports are up again, by 9.9%. The exports are up 14.7% compared to the same period of 2018. Aluminum giant Armenal exports rose 44%. Cigarette exports up 60%. Jewelery exports up 68%. Chocolate up 34%.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/162668 --- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/162746
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The government approved a plan to give 200,000 low income citizens free medications as part of a 1.1bln program. Two new health conditions were added to the list of treatments that are free. An earlier proposal gave these low income residents free healthcare. The new proposal ads free medications on top of the free healthcare.
610 additional ambulance workers will receive free healthcare. Thousands of medical field workers received one earlier, but these 610 were "left out".
Pashinyan asked the cabinet members to take steps to inform the citizens about these chages, about what medications they can get, what papers they need, because many times people aren't aware that they qualify for aid.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/976705.html - - https://armtimes.com/hy/article/162677 - - - https://armtimes.com/hy/article/162706 - - https://factor.am/155541.html
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A law was earlier approved to raise soldier salaries by as much as 20%. It goes into effect in 2 days, beginning June. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqaA-uCtUFM
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The government temporarily canceled taxes for GRANT company that produces high pressure canisters. 26.7bln ($55 million) in investments. 190 jobs with 250k avg salary.
Moeiff company also received the tax free status to invest 14.7bln ($30 million) in production of house appliances with non-corrosive metals. 100 new jobs with 130k salary.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/976703.html
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They temporarily canceled taxes for Avalanj company so it can import 1.8bln in tech to build greenhouses in Aragatsotn province. 60 additional jobs with 120k avg salary. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/162688
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The government issued a 8mln aid to the National Song and Dance Academy. It's tasked with researching and teaching traditional Armenian dances.
18mln was issued to the Union of Artists of Armenia. State Forest Monitoring Center received 21mln aid to pay its bills. 360mln for Penitentiary Medicine Center to provide Healthcare for inmates. 463mln to obtain vaccination materials for children and military-age young men. 6.5mln to subsidize the construction of water system is Sari Gyugh.
https://hetq.am/hy/article/104147 https://hetq.am/hy/article/104153 - - https://hetq.am/hy/article/104151 - - https://hetq.am/hy/article/104149 - - https://hetq.am/hy/article/104148 - - https://hetq.am/hy/article/104147 - - https://hetq.am/hy/article/104146
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They decided to issue funds to - within a month - repair the road that leads to the Sevan peninsula. It's a tourism spot and the season will begin soon. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/976690.html
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The government gave a 100mln worth land somewhere near Tsitsernakaberd to a company so it can build a large tech center. Upon completion, the company will donate one facility to the city.
400 jobs will be created during the 4 year construction, 300 of them permanent. 2,500 people can be hired later once the building is used for its purpose.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/976679.html
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Instead of the regular 2-year military service, soldiers can currently choose to enroll in various military programs. They can choose a 3-year program called Pativ Unem, which ties their service to education, and gives a list of benefits such a free Master degree education and more vacations. The government has proposed lowering this program's "minimal duration" to 2 years to make it more appealing.
http://panarmenian.net/m/arm/news/269367 -- https://razm.info/135922
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In another proposal, the maximum age limit for hired soldiers will be raised from 35 to 40 years old. If the contractor has skills that the army has a shortage of, the age limit will be 45. (all these are yet to be officially approved to become law)
If two brothers are recruited simultaneously and they want to serve in the same place, only one will participate in the lottery system that picks their location.
High ranking officers will also qualify to receive mortgage loan aid that is currently provided to regulars.
http://panarmenian.net/m/arm/news/269361
Parliament speaker QP Mirzoyan says the fact that 4 Constitutional Court judge nominees have been rejected by the Parliament so far, doesn't mean a disrespect towards the president, who appoints the candidacies. The process will continue until both institutions find a common ground.
Mirzoyan was asked to comment about some paintings in the Parliament hall that raised money spending questions. Says he didn't buy them, the Parliament has funds for it and it bought it. They bought it for a 75% discount directly from the painter.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/162715 --- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/162717
European Council sent its rule of law and human rights top delegation to Armenia. They met Justice minister Zeynalyan, offered to help Armenia with the judicial reforms. Delegation also included officials from Venice Commission and GRECO (anti-corruption institute).
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/976707.html
QP is currently trying to pass a law to limit the physical gambling locations (read yesterday edition). Here are some stats on how much the big gambling firms earned from the clients' betting losses in 2018: Toto Gaming 6.5bln, Vivaro 5.9bln, Goodwin 2.4bln, Adjarabet 0.02bln.
Combined, these bookmakers made 14.8bln after receiving 145bln in bets. Net profit of these firms was 6.6bln.
http://panarmenian.net/m/arm/news/269382
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Someone decided to troll the Parliament today. Someone in the chamber turned on a gambling ad during a session. Anti-gambling bill author Alen Simonyan asked them to knock it off.
https://youtu.be/r4g1kEcuMmc?t=6
Various unions of journalists released a joint statement condemning "threats and other pressures on journalists". They aren't happy that BHK chief Gagik Tsarukyan recently (allegedly) told a journalist that she is paid to negatively target him, and that the journalist will "pay for her actions".
Other listed examples were something that Roboserj 5Th Channel boss told CivilNet, a former MP told something to popular TV host Petros Ghazaryan, something that Supreme Court Council chairman told Azatutyun media.
They also urged their fellow journalists to be professional, have a sense of delicacy, follow journalistic ethics.
https://factor.am/155664.html
On June 1st, the children's protection day, people are planning to organize a march titled "Don't park on the sidewalk". They'll spread fliers and inform the drivers that parking their car on the sidewalk hinders a pedestrian's ability to push a stroller or a wheelchair, and they are forced to get on the dangerous road to bypass it.
http://panarmenian.net/m/arm/news/269380
Chessist Gabriel Sargsyan has won the Al-Batayih blitz competition held in UAE.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/976656.html
Artsakh army denies the Azeri report that Armenian snipers killed an Azeri soldier near Akna region.
It isn't uncommon for the Azerbaijan army to cover-up internal problems that led to a murder, by blaming the death on Armenians.
https://www.aysor.am/am/news/2019/05/30/%D5%BA%D5%A2/1569487
Europa League final game is over, but the drama surrounding Azerbaijan's policy and Mkhitaryan isn't.
On the match day, Baku residents got into a fight with Arsenal fans who were singing pro-Mkhitaryan songs.
A Russian sports journalist tried to "smuggle" Mkhitaryan jersey into the stadium, but was denied.
The stadiums weren't full because of ticket issues caused by Baku's remote location from Europe, inability to host many people simultaneously, not providing enough access to disabled people, expensive hotels and air fares. Thousands of seats were vacant. Both teams returned half of their tickets, which Baku then had to sell to the locals.
Some fans were complaining that the distance between the pitch and tribunes was too big.
Other complaints were about the main camera recording from a too far distance, lack of excitement in the tribunes due to many Arsenal fans not appearing for the game.
Chelsea 4:1 Arsenal. Mkhitaryan scored the only goal for Arsenal except he didn't.
https://rusarminfo.ru/2019/05/30/armyanskie-skandaly-draki-pustoj-stadion-chem-zavershilsya-final-v-baku/ - - - -
Pictures http://www.sportbible.com/football/news-thousands-of-empty-seats-in-baku-for-all-english-europa-league-final-20190529 - - - - - https://www.foxsports.com.au/football/thousands-of-empty-seats-in-arsenal-and-chelsea-ends-as-fans-struggle-to-get-to-baku-for-europa-league-final/news-story/68d267536fa0790533d32e690a798202 - - - - http://www.businessinsider.com/europa-league-final-empty-stadium-venue-2019-5 - - - https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-7084239/Cesc-Fabregas-criticises-decision-hold-Europa-League-final-Baku-thousands-seats.html
The Beatles' "Yesterday" has been picked by 24/7 Wall Street as the best song of all times.
Enjoy https://youtu.be/jzT2icR7WKk
Area near Hrazdan stadium and former president LTP was on fire today https://youtu.be/bRjw8aWBpi8?t=10
submitted by ar_david_hh to armenia [link] [comments]

[JVerse] The Rattlesnakes of Troop 53

A/N: A fun idea I randomly thought of recently. Thought I'd dump it on the page and see what people think. Title is tentative, and I am open to suggestions. Maybe.
Also, no, I didn't edit it at all. Fight me. ...or please tell me how to make it better lol
Should I take it further? [ERBH voice] YOU DECIDE!
The night before 13y2m AV
Armstrong Station, Cimbrean System
Scott Jones
"FAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLL IIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNN!" the Senior Patrol Leader bellowed out, his voice booming over the din of dozens of boys bustling around the rented-out hangar. Suddenly, they all quieted down and scrambled into formation in front of two flags and the SPL.
Scott gave a sidelong glance at the five boys lined up behind him. Aside from Timmy's ever-present fidgeting, they were all standing at attention and their uniforms weren't even that ruffled. Except one. "Psst! Sam! Tuck in your shirt!" he whispered. The thirteen-year-old hastily complied, looking much more presentable just as the final stragglers made it to the fall-in.
"Scouts!" The SPL began addressing the whole troop. "Thank you for an excellent first day at the station. I know this has been a stressful and expensive trip, and you all handled everything very smoothly. You make Troop 53 look good! Not too many announcements before we call it a night. First, make sure that you collect all your trash and put it in the black cans in the corner. We'll be policing the whole site tomorrow before we leave, and this space better be spotless: better than we found it. Second, once the doors are closed, nobody is allowed to go back out to the main station. You shouldn't be going anywhere that isn't this hangar or the bathroom down the hall. And don't forget the buddy system if you go there!"
"Finally, this is a public place, many of the ETs have sensitive ears, and sound travels through the thin metal walls. Please keep the noise down. I know some of you will be staying up late, but if I have to tell you to quiet down then your whole patrol will be cleaning the latrine every day of summer camp. Got it?" A few groans escaped the assembled boy scouts. "Good. Fall out."
Scott and the rest of his Rattlesnake patrol ambled out of formation and made their way back to their part of the hangar, a corner behind some ducting where they had set up their sleeping pads and sleeping bags. By the time Scott got to his place, Alex had already sat down, loosened his neckerchief, and started snacking on a bag of beef jerky he had conjured out of nowhere.
"Heck of a day, guys." said Scott. "Who'd have thought we'd get to go to space on a campout? And meet real life aliens?"
"ETs." Jeremiah blurted out, sheepishly looking up from the book he was reading. "Uh, I heard that some of them find 'aliens' offensive...."
"I'm just excited that I got these weird fruit from that one Gaoian merchant." Timmy prattled excitedly. "They taste just like giant SKITTLES!!" To emphasize his point, he took a positively enormous bite from the one in his hand.
"Timmy, how many of those did you buy?" asked Andrew, eyeing the four untouched fruit spilling out of Timmy's shopping bag.
"Six! I already ate one. I'm gonna eat them all tonight!"
"Yeah, no." Andrew looked at Scott. "We're taking those away from him. Right?"
Scott, unbuttoning his uniform shirt, paused for a moment. "Timmy, if you eat those, you're going to stay up all night, and then you're going to throw up a bunch."
Timmy whined at this. "Hand 'em over. I'll give them back to you tomorrow." Scott ordered him. Pouting, Timmy hesitated for a few moments before eventually pushing the bag across the floor to Scott, who shoved it into his backpack.
Alex, having separated from them after the fall-in, now walked over to the group and plopped down on his sleeping bag. "Where were you?" his twin brother Andrew asked.
"Chatting with the Dragons. Did you see the new patrol patches they got? James said they were made from the skin of a Vulza, some kind of xeno lizard that's the spitting image of a dragon, except, you know, real."
"No way, that's gotta be the ETs trying to mess with us." said Andrew, shaking his head in disbelief. "I bet it's those Corti dudes. They seem like they could do serious pranks with a totally straight face."
"Fine, don't believe me. It's not like the Dragons had anything else interesting to say...." Alex's tone implied that he had gotten his hands on some downright juicy gossip.
Scott's curiosity got the better of his discretion, and he switched out of his bossy Patrol Leader Mindset for a minute. "Spill it, man, we gotta know!"
"Well, you didn't hear this from me, but, hypothetically, I mean, there may be a Chehnash merchant a few hangars down from us that was acting awful suspicious earlier today... and it may or may not be common knowledge that they have a reputation for carrying interesting and unusual cargo..." Alex waggled his eyebrows and gave a little wink.
Andrew leaned over to Scott. "Dude, we are totally playing commando tonight. Wait for the younger scouts to fall asleep, break out our darkest clothes, and prepare for some mischief."
Scott gave him a conflicted look. "I'm totally down, but if we get in trouble... I'd be in serious hot water." he whispered.
"Come on, we'll just look around. Won't touch anything. Besides, we're big bad humans, ETs probably couldn't even catch us if we happen to be seen."
"Yeah, but station security is all human...." Scott cast a furtive glance at the rest of the boys in his patrol preparing for bed before continuing his hushed conversation in an even lower voice. "Fine. But we gotta be ultimate stealth, yeah? Getting caught here might be worse than getting caught by like, real police or something."
Andrew made a tiny fist pump before leaning over to inform his twin of the plan for the evening. Scott quietly folded his extra clothes and packed the essentials into his daypack, silently thanking his past self for having already taped over the safety-reflective panels in preparation past episodes of stealthy shenanigans. He wriggled down into his sleeping bag, and stared at the ceiling as he waited for the right time to sneak out, accompanied only by his thoughts and the quiet sounds of his patrol members breathing softly.
Suddenly, Alex shook him awake, taking care not to rustle up too much noise. Must have nodded off... Scott thought groggily for a moment. Alex put a finger over his lips and then gestured at the time displayed on the dim screen of his smartwatch: 00:30. Ah, guess he set a silent alarm.
Scott carefully slid up and out of his sleeping bag, doing his absolute best not to wake the younger scouts. Not only were they kind of annoying--like all elementary and middle school boys--having them tag along would also boost the chances of getting caught. Maybe they'd be cool by the time they turned 15, like the West twins. Maybe.
Stuffing the sleeping bag into his backpack, Scott was grateful he had opted for the slightly more expensive one, since it packed down so impossibly small while still being plenty warm. It had served him well for many chilly summer nights back in Iowa, and it had been exquisitely comfortable for the few hours he had slept on the station so far. The marketing for it had been really hyped up about how they used forcefield technology to make special nano-fibers and blah blah blah, but right now the biggest benefit was that it was quiet, rather than loud and crinkly like the trusty old nylon bag he used on colder campouts.
Once he had stowed all his gear in the bag, Scott donned his black fleece and dark green pants, put on his pack, and felt like a real commando humping some super classified military equipment through hostile enemy territory. Also, more importantly, in case they ended up hanging out somewhere for a while, he had a deck of playing cards and a stash of snacks.
Looking around, Andrew and Alex were both likewise kitted up and ready to go. Gesturing to the door, Scott took the lead. They practically tiptoed past the row of adults snoring on cots, and then took care not to slam the well-oiled door behind them as they crept out of the hangar and into the station hallway. Casting furtive glances both ways, they saw that the corridor was empty, the dimmed lighting denoting that it was supposed to be "night time" in the station's simulated day-night cycle. The three boys took a few silent strides across the polished metal floor and ducked behind a thick support column before daring to whisper.
"Alright, navigator," Scott gestured to Alex, "where is this Chehnasho of interest?"
"Hangar 13B. Should just be a little bit down the corridor, on the left side."
"Lead the way."
Sam Rockford
Sam was dreaming about trying to haggle with a Corti merchant that kept making puns, but he couldn't seem to decide on what he wanted to buy from him. He wanted to buy the forcefield knife, but when he looked down at the things the Rrrrtk merchant had on offer there were only blurry... somethings... that were rustling around.(Why was that noise so annoying?) When he tried to focus on the human shopkeeper in front of him (why was everything so fuzzy?), he heard footsteps in the back of his mind, rubber shoes softly padding away on a metal floor.
He rolled over, then woke up. Where was he again? Rubbing his eyes, he looked around the darkness. Oh yeah, campout. On Armstrong Station! He was in space! A good day. He was about to go back to sleep when he noticed that Scott, Andrew, and Alex were all gone.
Sitting up, Sam looked around. Even most of the three older boys' gear was gone! He saw a flash of light across the room as the door to the hallway opened briefly, then closed quietly. They must be going on an adventure without us!
Jumping out of his sleeping bag, he roused Timmy and Jeremiah. "Come on guys, let's go follow them!" he whispered.
"Where'd they... go?" Timmy asked, obviously fighting drowsiness and sporting some impressive bedhead sticking wildly out from his blond bowl cut.
"We shouldn't leave the hangar..." Jeremiah reminded them.
"It'll be an adventure, guys!" Sam was starting to get animated, but he (mostly) managed to keep his voice down. "They're always doing older scout stuff, but if we can follow them without being seen, I bet they'll be impressed..." the implied boost in popularity, and probably the allure of good old-fashioned mischief, was enough to get Timmy to commit.
The two boys set to packing up their things in a flurry of activity, shoving everything haphazardly into their respective backpacks. If the older boys were taking all their stuff, then they would too. At worst, they'd be the first patrol to be fully packed up and ready to leave in the morning. Maybe there'd be a prize for that...
Jeremiah had initially wanted to stay put, but, since he would have been totally alone after the other two left, he eventually relented and started packing up too, albeit with a little more care. "This is a bad idea, guys..." he muttered under his breath, partially to himself and partially to no-one in particular.
The three young scouts were all ready to go within scarcely a few minutes, and they snuck along the row of adults snoring away the night on their cots, barely daring to breathe. Sam knew his dad would have woken up if he were there on the trip, and he wasn't sure if any other dads had similar superpowers, so he led the other two boys in absolute silence. They slipped out the door, and looked both ways only to catch a flash of movement farther down the hall, as a figure in black and green turned a corner and entered another hangar.
Scott Jones
Things were going well. Alex had taken point and was leading them like a natural ninja, Andrew was moving with practically the same powerful grace that the #LeftBeef super-soldier had displayed in all the memes about escorting tiny Gaoians around super-dangerous Earth a few years ago, and there was no sign of station security so far. Scott glanced at the illuminated 13B printed on the wall as they stepped into the hangar and ducked behind some neatly-stacked shipping containers.
Alex put his finger to his lips, then pointed two fingers first at his eyes, then at the corner of the container. Scott and Andrew held still, keeping an eye out for anyone approaching from behind, while Alex leaned out and took a peek at what was going on in the middle of the hangar.
The muffled sound of containers being shifted around stopped for a moment, with only the high-pitched whine of a grav-sled continuing in the silence. Alex froze, and Scott could practically feel his heart beating in his throat. The three boys heard the harsh, clicking tones of a Chehnasho angrily speaking Domain, and mentally prepared themselves for the worst...
"If you don't have a permit, you can't be docked here! You have to pay the cargo fee!"
...before they realized that it wasn't directed at them. The Chehnasho spoke again, and the human (dock manager?) must have had a translator earpiece, because she responded with venom.
"Fine, I'm calling security and they're going to impound your ship. You're registered as a passenger vessel, so you can't take on cargo. You'll have to file the export tariff and declare all the..."
Scott was about to step up next to Alex and try to see just who they were eavesdropping on when he noticed movement in the corner of his eye. The door to the hangar opened just a crack, and then it swung open noiselessly as three breathless little scouts rushed into the hangar, crowding around Scott and Andrew.
"We found you!" Timmy whispered triumphantly and a bit too enthusiastically. Scott's eyes nearly bulged out of his head as he realized that (a) he and the West twins weren't as stealthy as they thought, (b) if they got caught then he personally was in the deepest trouble, and (c) station security was already on its way to this hangar, regardless of what they did. He was responsible for the patrol and they were about to get totally busted! He clamped a hand over Timmy's mouth, then glared at Jeremiah and Sam until they realized that any amount of noise was wholly unacceptable. Things were getting real now.
At this completely opportune moment, Alex leaned on the handle to the container they were hiding behind, turning to see the commotion behind him, and the door to the container swung open with a loud ka-thunk.
Shit.
The sounds of Chehnash boots stomping along the metal floors got closer and closer as Scott tried his best not to panic. Luckily, the door swung away from the corner they were hiding behind, so it gave them a little extra space to remain hidden. As the footsteps continued to near, it became clear that there was only one place left to hide: inside the container. All six scouts of the Rattlesnake Patrol jumped into action at the same instance, a half-dozen deathworlders displaying near-hive-minded unity of purpose as they slipped into the dark confines of the box, mere moments before it was unceremoniously slammed shut by Chehnash hands, all while the human dock manager was muttering something about cheap xeno shipping containers and faulty closure mechanisms. Inside, the box was unnervingly dark, so completely devoid of light that the boys could practically feel the shadows clinging to their skin.
The next two seconds were an eternity as the six boys held their breath. Just before they could breathe a collective sigh of relief, though, they felt the latch click again and the door swung back open.
Shit.
They all froze instinctually, hoping beyond hope that they might not be seen if they just didn't move. It seemed that God was smiling upon their shenanigans that day, because, miraculously, there was no sign of a chehnasho on the other side, just some kind of industrial drone coming along to grab a flimsy metal crate stacked next to the boys.
Andrew West
The six boys stayed put for a few minutes, continuing their attempt to be as unnoticeable as possible, until the drone came back to unload a second crate. Andrew grew restless at this, and resolved to be the decisive one. Somebody had to man up and see what was going on outside, and as a varsity soccer player he probably had the best chance of outrunning any pursuers.
With a deep breath, Andrew stepped out of the container and into the flickering lights of a dusty hangar, his whole body tensed up and ready to sprint out of there.
Must have gotten a bit disoriented in the dark. he thought to himself, ignoring the worried looks of his comrades behind him. I thought the exit was on the other side of the box...
He heard a soft thump, and whirled around, but didn't see any movement in the room beyond the industrial drone weaving its way between a maze of haphazardly arranged crates and shipping containers. The chehnasho and the dock manager must have cleared out? He eyed the rusty ship parked on the landing pad. Although the ET might have just gone into the ship.
"Coast is clear, let's get out of here before anyone comes back!" he hurriedly whispered to his friends. The other five scouts were apprehensive for just a moment before they all stepped out onto the worn metal floor of the hangar.
"That was entirely too much excitement for our little adventure." Andrew heard Scott mutter as they made a quick retreat to the exit. "Let's just get back to the troop and be done with this mess."
Andrew led the patrol to the exit, and pushed the door open while visibly starting at the unlubricated screech of its hinges. He held the door while the other scouts filed into the hallway, and then followed them out. When he got there, he found them all giving petrified stares toward the view out the window. I don't remember there being a window in this hallway...
"Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore..." said Jeremiah, pointing at the blue-violet gas giant filling the vista in front of them.
"That's definitely not Cimbrean."
submitted by nelsyv to HFY [link] [comments]

Anti-Corruption & News - May/29/2019: How bribery & corruption works in Armenian judicial system; judge hierarchy.... 8.7bln damages in the military... 826mln paid by car service license abusers so far.... Gambling restrictions.... Constitutional judge election... more stories inside

Disclaimer: All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law, even if they may sound as being guilty. Currency in Armenian Drams unless specified otherwise.
Flashback 2013: The Human Rights Ombudsman (HRO) published a research on how the corruption works in the judicial system. 120 experts, judges, lawyers, prosecutors participated in this report's creation. Many verdicts and expert opinion on court cases were examined.
There are several main ways the corruption works in the judicial.
A bribe is given to a regular judge. He only guarantees that his own verdict will be favorable. The citizen has to give more bribes to other judges if the verdict is challenged in other courts.
If the citizen gives a larger bribe, the Lower court judge may split the money with other judges to increase the changes that in the event of the verdict being challenged, it won't be overthrown. That bribe is between $500-$10,000 for Lower judges, 2k-15k for Higher court judges, 10k-50k for Cassations judges.
The citizen can lose both verdicts in Lower and Higher courts, but bribe the Cassations to overrule the loss. Citizen only pays the Cassations judge in this instance. (what a great deal 3-in-1 juicyyyyy)
This bribe is handled by a lawyers' office owned by a Cassations judge but registered under other peoples' names. The experts say there is no set amount for a particular type of verdict, it's negotiated.
The HRO report says there are many instances of Cassations judges being pressured by something called "judge zoning institute", developed within the Cassations system. In this system, some Cassations judges have judges from Lower courts under their control. These Lower judges inform their zone leader (Cassations judge) about an ongoing case, through personal meetings, phone calls, intermediary methods.
There are types of cases that mandate the Lower judge to first consult with Cassations judge before making a verdict. For example, cases that the public is interested in, defamation lawsuits (they don't want contradicting verdicts to grab media attention), felony cases in which the judge has to give a very mild verdict, cases involving large businesses (in this case the Cassations zone chief wants to be involved because they can potentially get big money from the business).
HRO report states that lawyers have witnessed many instances how Lower judges were waiting to meet their zone boss at Cassations court, with the case files in their hands. In some cases, Lower court's verdict is entirely written during these meetings at the Cassations court. There is a report by a lawyer stating that he was informed by a Lower judge that the Lower judge received a flash drive from a Cassations judge containing the pre-written verdict.
Sometimes the Lower and Cessation courts collude not in the final stages of a trial, but throughout the initial examination period. Sometimes the Lower judge will take a break during a court session, then contact the Cassations judge for "advice" before the case ends. One Lower judge admitted that he was told to do this numerous times during a trial.
There are 3 types of judges. The "favorite" judges who consult with Cassations judge before every single verdict; slightly more independent judges who only consult Cassations judges for cases that require them to cooperate (listed above); and honest "undesirable and unpredictable" judges who will not collude with Cassations judges. The latter ones are at the risk of being harassed and pressured.
It's not just the Lower court judges who bend over. Cassations judges themselves can be controlled by their chamber's president, who can write a specific verdict and hand it over to Cassations judges. The witness judges and lawyers who participated in this HRO report say that the Cassations judges, however, don't like being bent themselves. Many of them aren't happy about these letters from the Cassations higher-ups.
The report states that the collusion between Lower and Cassations courts results in high rates of Lower verdicts being upheld in Cassations.
Behind the pressure on the judges is the judicial council.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/162526
Cassations judge Grigoryan, who read the recent Kocharyan verdict before quickly sending all the paper files to Constitutional Court thus causing displeasure among anti-Rob side, has taken the original papers back to make a copy and send the copy back to Cassations in the event anti-Rob side needs it for a challenge.
https://www.azatutyun.am/a/29970249.html
2019Q1: Military prosecutors have uncovered 8.7bln in damages done to the state in 41 instances of illegal activities. 22 cases are treated as a felony. 8 have already been charged. Dozens of officials have received warnings. In 2018Q1 the busts totaled 203mln, or 42x less.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/162573
Update : Last year dozens of car servicing companies got caught with abusing licenses and underpaying fees. So far they have repaid 826mln. 15 criminal case are still active, 11 were cancelled after the companies compensated the damage.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/162559
Parliament will soon vote on a QP bill that gives physical sports gambling "bookmaker" locations 1.5 years to shut down, except those in recreational areas Tsakhkadzor, Sevan, Jermuk, Meghri (for Iranians maybe?). Gambling visitors in these 4 cities will be required to present an ID.
Automated gambling machined will be banned. Gambling ads served on dot am and dot hay domains will be prohibited. Easily accessible gambling machines will also be required to be removed from gas stations.
It's part of the new push against gambling addiction, which affects 66,000 people according to author Alen Simonyan. High ranking BHK and QP MPs have joined the proposal.
The ban will mostly affect Vivaro, Toto, Ajarabet, Eurofootball, GoodWin-Bet companies.
............
Gambling industry workers were protesting on front of the Parliament building today. They say online gambling will have unfair advantage. They closed Baghramyan street briefly before opening it at the request of the police. They sent a group to Parliament for negotiations (there have been numerous meetings with the industry representatives already). GoodWin-Bet bookmaker boss wants to meet speaker Ararat Mirzoyan.
Bill's author Alen Simonyan says the firm director's complain is mostly over the proposed ban on gambling kiosks in gas stations. This company currently has a monopoly in it, said Simonyan.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/162563 --- https://armenpress.am/arm/news/976521.html --- http://panarmenian.net/m/arm/news/269322
......................................
Informed Citizens organization chief Ionesyan noted that some pro-Kocharyan activists merged with the gambling worker crowd to agitate the situation.
The gambling workers are constructive and reasonable, while the pro-Kocharyan activists try to create a tension. The gambling workers have asked the police to remove the agitators from the scene, said Ionesyan.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/162570
Few years ago a police hostage takeover took place committed by Sasna Tsrer. 2 officers were murdered .10 Tsrer members are going through a trial. Those who are accused of shooting at the officers are still locked up, while other members were released for the pre-verdict period after receiving personal guarantees of some MPs.
During today's court hearing, the sister of one of the killed officers testified about how her brother died. She received a report about the brother being wounded. She went to hospital where the brother woke up after a long surgery and was able to speak briefly. The policeman told her that he was shot by a Sasna Tsrer member during the initial takeover, and wasn't initially allowed to leave. He was shown several photos of Tsrer members to identify the shooter. He gave a negative response to Pavlik and few others, stating they didn't shoot him. Armen Bilyan is charged with his murder. Bilyan's photo was not among those whom the victim identified as non-shooter.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/162565
....................................
The other dead policeman's father still insists that his son died from a bullet shot by other officers. Says he was also told by other at a hospital that the cops shot his son. The officer's wife (man's daughter in law) says Tsrer shot her husband.
https://factor.am/155213.html
The Parliament is holding a vote to elect a new Constitutional Court judge. Candidacy of 3 others have been rejected in the past year.
Various questions were asked to the candidate. A notable question: the candidate was asked by MPs to comment on Pashinyan's recent call to block the court building entrances. The candidate said he sees a legal problem with it because if he or someone else did it, they could be held responsible for it. However, he doesn't believe it was a toppling of the Constitutional Order (felony), as certain Roboserj circles suggested. He called that an "exaggeration".
In the end, the Parliament voted against the candidate. 55 NAY - 30 AYE. These votes are held with a secret ballot.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/162572 -- https://factor.am/155302.html ---- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/162624
Arsenal fans are singing about how Arsenal earlier defeated Qarabagh soccer club and will now bring the championship trophy to London.
Song: "We’ve been to Qarabag and everywhere Shagged brasses in Cologne And now we’re off to Baku to Bring Europa home".
During a training, Arsenal players danced Kochari in honor of Mkhitaryan.
https://www.lragir.am/2019/05/29/447113/
........................................
Arsenal fans are being harassed by the police in Baku. Yesterday, two fans were briefly stopped before being allowed to continue to walk. Today, a fan was stopped by the police and asked to lift up the Arsenal flag to check to see if the fan was wearing Mkhitaryan shirt.
British TV host Pierce Morgan: "Unbelievable. Every Arsenal fan should wear a Mkhitaryan shirt tonight & constantly chant his name. Don’t let these anti-Armenian racists win."
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/976583.html --- https://twitter.com/piersmorgan/status/1133658938724032512
German AfD party representatives went to Artsakh, met Parliament members. Artsakh congratulated the party with the recent successful elections in the European Parliament which gave the party more seats. The party reps spoke about helping Artsakh to have its voice heard in the European institutions.
The MPs laid laid flowers in Artsakh war memorial.
http://panarmenian.net/m/arm/news/269341
submitted by ar_david_hh to armenia [link] [comments]

グランドプリーallstars《オッフシソンHEROESedition》〘Part Eight〜wake up〙

〘PREVIOUS EPISODE〙

Lewis floated in a thick and incoherent liquid of memory and emotion. He couldn't see or hear but then he could. But not the strange viscous goo he seemed to be trapped in, only fragments of his life. Or at least he thought it was his life.
One minute he was blind. The next, standing on the podium at Abu Dhabi. Then blind, floating in the miasmatic goo, straining to hear Daniel and Max talk about potatoes. The next minute he's in a chateaux watching the snow fall and a woman undress next to a raging fire in the fireplace, the next on a beach in Cuba, children running around as he tried to find his bottle of water. There was no pattern or logic. Sometimes he saw weird shit he was sure never happened, like Rosberg winning the title in 2016, or aliens abducting him and replacing his brain with a frog. Sometimes he saw paintings, or heard a clip of music. Sometimes it was an episode of The Simpsons but only the 3rd act. But always bookended with what felt like years of waiting in the palpable eigengrau.
Sometimes they were events that felt real but didn't happen to him. He watched Nico resign from Mercedes, noticing the furrowed brow of Toto, and the understanding but resigned nod of Niki. He spent a week working on a trawler up in Alaska, trying to earn a bunch of cash before he got back to land so he could pay his alimony. Watched his father mortgage their house so he could become a racer. He watched himself throw a ball in a park as Roscoe. Lived through a plane crash, a family camping holiday in Wisconsin, climbed Kilimanjaro as Palmer, and walked on the moon 4 times.
Just an unending litany of thoughts and experiences, memories, loves, hates, and awkward moments, both his and others.
Then, suddenly, he found himself standing in the great cooldown room in the sky.
~~~
“And that concludes the preflight exterior checklist.” James wrapped up, putting his pen behind his ear.
They were standing on the runway of an airport that looked oddly familiar, under Racer X’s private jet.
“Does that mean we can fly now, or…” Racer X said, his booming alter ego voice magnificent to behold.
“Don't ask, just don't ask, he’ll explain the next checklist in full before doing it.” Replied Richard, fully aware of how long they were going to have to wait before James even started the plane so they could get going.
“Daniel Ricciardo is dying out there, in the snow, and you're letting him sit there, James, while you play around with your nice pen and your stupid metal clipboard. I hope you're happy.” Said Jeremy.
“Alright alright, I'll speed this up.” James said and looked down at his clipboard. “Right, preflight checklist #2: lavatory inspection.”
~~~
The storm had set in now, fully. Max and Daniel each had snagged dirt bikes from fallen cavalry and were riding around in tight circles trying to find any centurions that could be left. It was a confused mess, but they were fairly confident they'd won the battle. They'd heard the centurions retreat and some of the few remaining bikes ride back to the tower.
By now nobody could see very far and it was getting to the point where they needed to regroup and camp in or die of exposure.
Eventually, with some luck, Max and Daniel did find the others. Sainz was still in his wolf form and he and Bottas were talking quietly to one of the Grosjolyon guards. Daniel couldn't hear but it didn't look good.
One of the grosjolyon droids popped his head up from a hole in the ice.
“The camp is dug, sirs, it would be best if you came inside.”
They followed him down into the tunnel the droids'd carved out with their many claws, and found themselves in a large half dome of smooth ice large enough to comfortably stand in. The droids were unrolling bedrolls and lighting a fire.
“Oh, man, have you got any food?” Asked Daniel.
“I’m starving!” said Max.
Just then they both saw Hamilton laying under a blanket, a moist towel on his forehead.
“Is he- ...” Daniel started.
“...alive?” finished Max.
Bottas answered.
“Yes.” ...
“We think.” ...
“But it's not good.”
There was a long pause. Arnold, Max’s android manservant came bustling over, exuding just the right amount of camp to add personality to his appearance without being distracting or comical. He was a bit fey, but that was Arnold.
“Excuse me sirs, I do not mean to interrupt, but we are dealing with a magic much more powerful than any I or these droids have ever seen. We do not know what will happen to Lewis. We just have to wait.”
And with that he went back to preparing cucumber sandwiches.
~~~
The grid girls were clapping for him in the cooldown room. He could feel the sweat that only meant he'd won the race, but he didn't know where he was and didn't remember the race. But damn he felt good. He felt cool~
He was the winner! Again! It still blew his mind, every win, every achievement. It wouldn't be possible without so many others. He needed his team like he needed his circulatory system. Seriously, he mused about this. He thought about the fans and the people that kept coming to these things.
I mean they could just forget, get tired of it. Move on to something else. But they don't.
They loved the sport, and some of them loved him, and that made him feel satisfied more than anything he'd ever dreamed of.
...
But they didn't have any faces... The grid girls started to get hazy and weird. Pixelated. They stopped clapping and slowly melted into the floor where they remained puddles. Lewis walked around the room, cautiously. Afraid.
There was a piano in one corner for some reason. He felt drawn to it.
He started playing random things. Some of the songs he heard in the eigengrau. At one point he stopped and realized he was playing The Great Gig in the Sky. He started it from the beginning. A beautiful woman, her skin glittering unnaturally, with curly hair that went all over the place in languid luxurious loops appeared behind him, and began to sing. He played his heart out, and she sang along and as they did, he fell in love.
They finished the song.
Her face was glowing from the energy involved, tiny beads of sweat forming on her brow, that made her look alive. She was the most beautiful person Hamilton had ever seen.
“Who are you?” He asked, suddenly aware of the pressing silence and the obvious but intangible absence of the passage of time.
“I am the part of you that can do anything.” She said. “I am the part of you that strives to be better than before. I am the part of you that makes you get up in the morning and wreck yourself in the gym.”
She was walking around him now, circling around to stare him in the eye.
“I am the part of you that tells you your record breaking pole time isn't good enough. I am the part of you that tells you to get up when you're at your lowest. And right now you're lower than ever before. You're fucking dead.”
He looked back at her. “I was afraid of that.”
“Get. Up.”
~~~
The cavern opened up before them and swallowed up Stoffel's torchlight in the darkness.
They couldn't tell how big the place was but given the echoes and the distant dripping sounds they could tell it was massive.
“Which way now?” Asked Waffletron.
“I think it's this way.” Said Pascal, but he didn't sound sure. He had his goggles on though so at least he could use the drone for night vision.
“Let's go.” They crept into the cavern, meticulously making their way around rocks, pools of water, guano, and the occasional bone… which seemed to grow more frequent as they went. Pascal was sure this was the right way out, but more or less all he had was intuition and a small pinpoint of light in the distance he interpreted as an exit.
~~~
“Alright you impatient children we are ready to embark.” Came the announcement over the loudspeakers.
“Oh does he have to do that?” Said Clarkson, then yelling at the cockpit, “Get on with it!”
“Yes, let's embark on this perilous and heroic adventure!” said Racer X, his voice booming throughout the cabin.
“Yes, now who wants a pre takeoff cocktail, mind you it's James that's flying.”
“Oi, I heard that!” Said James over the tannoy.
“ME me me mememememe” said the thirsty orangutan.
Somebody wants pneumonia~” mumbled Richard, as he handed Jezza a Blue Flag (Romulan Ale, a shot of rum and lime juice).
“I don't drink!” said Racer X. “Where's the space weed?”
“Robert, that’s illega-” Jeremy started,
“Not in space, my friend!” Said Racer X, and slapped Jeremy painfully on the back. “Not in space!”
~~~
2 floors down in .04 seconds and Grignak was screaming.
10 floors down in .1 second and Grignak wasn't screaming. He was holding on for dear life.
20 floors down in .1 second he wasn't scared anymore. He was whooping and shouting.
“Go for it! Go, man, go!” he yelled, gripping at the pink fur of Ocon’s neck as he accelerated even now.
“Woooooooooo!!!!”
They whipped around and around, down, down, down faster than either of them could have imagined.
If Panthers could smile, Ocon would've been grinning at Grignak’s encouragement. He appreciated someone who could get lost in the thrill of speed and precision.
“Woooooooooo!” Grignak said again, holding on with only one hand now, the other pumping enthusiastically as they blasted down the stairwell, past a darkly lit room that flashed with strobes of terrifying electric light.
~
Inside the room the cyclopean Isofit doctors had felt the breeze and heard the fwoooooom of the air displaced by a panther and Isofit soldier blasting by at 400km/h, but they paid no attention.
“Cloning process complety.” Said one of the doctors.
“Release the clampings!” Said another.
“Yes, yes!” Said a third.
There was a loud, continuous noise as the gears cranked Håmîltöñ’s table upright, his obviously fake Lewis Hamilton face all rubbery and weird, a cheap mask, his hands and legs strapped down to immobilize him. He wore shitty plastic armor and a glossy black 1970s open face motorcycle helmet serving as a helm.
“Darth Hammer, can you hear me?” Said Perez, sidling into view from a shadow, his skull smiling a nightmare.
“When is winter break over? Is it soon?? When is Australia??” Asked Håmîltöñ.
“I’m afraid, in your anger, you made it 92 days.” Said Perez.
“I… I couldn't have… it was soon! I felt it!!!” Said Darth Hammer desperately. He concentrated all his might into escaping and venting his rage at how long it was until F1 started again. He breathed in, and shouted as he burst free from the restraints…
“NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”
~~~
Lewis stood up.
The beautiful lady looked at him, annoyed.
“That's not what I meant.” She said.
“I don't know what you want me to do!” He said, looking for something to do.
“Get. Up.”
~~~
“A dragon…!” Said Pascal breathlessly… whispering at the edge of being inaudible. Grabbing Stoffel by the arm and stopping dead in his tracks.
“There's gold, lots of gold,” he continued, “but fuck that, there's a dragon…” there was a pause as Pascal fiddled with the controller for the drone and dialed in, “he's blocking the exit, of course. He probably just spits the bones of his pray over here and comes and goes over there.”
Stoffel was terrified but resolute. “We’ll have to sneak past.” he said, brave as could be, pulling out his Glock.
~~~
Lewis had the King of Clubs, the Ace of Spades, the Jack and Queen of Clubs already on the table and now a 10 of clubs on the flop.
He bet it all.
Senna folded. Leonard Nimoy put down a 3 of a kind and smirked, but Lewis took the jackpot.
The others grimaced, or threw down their cards or swore, and Lewis laughed.
He looked down at his chips on the green velvet, and smiled. But when he looked up, the others had vanished.
Sad, old jazz started playing on the radio, and the lights went down until the only light in the room came from the lamp above the poker table.
That's when she came strutting in from the dark, to sit at the table across from him.
“Lewis. Get the fuck up.”
He stood up and lost his balance and fell into the goo… into the eigengrau. Into blindness and floating in the sticky physical manifestation on memory.
~~~
Niki lay in a medically induced coma on Driver of the Day’s medical Bay’s only bed. Machines bleeped and blooped as the sensors all over his body relayed data to monitors.
Christian was struck by how similar it was to reading data from the cars during a session.
“Looks like the pitwall,” he said, gesturing to the readouts.
“Mm” agreed Toto, too busy being his usual aggressively worried self to be amused by that was genuinely an interesting observation.
The awkwardness of the reply and silence that followed only made Christian more anxious to fill the silence.
“That man is amazing. He's truly one of God's own prototypes.”
“Yes, it's true,” said Toto in his delightful accent, aware suddenly of Christian’s unstated need for company and conversation.
“Is it true… how you found him?” Asked Christian, aware this was a bit too far, but he genuinely wanted to know.
Toto was feeling more fond of Christian. He wanted to be honest with him.
“When I came out of my room and went up the stairs, he had had his left leg gnawed off to the knee. He had crushed the monster’s skull in with a fire extinguisher and was cursing it out in both German and American colloqualisms, I can only assume he got from watching too much of Breaking Bad when I lent him the DVD box set, as he cleaned his, I’ll be honest, stump, out with fresh snowfall.”
“Jesus.” Said Christian.
They fell into a silence as they watched Niki lay there and the machines bleeped and blooped.
“I hope he pulls through.” Said Christian.
“This will not kill Niki.” Said Toto with utmost certainty.
Suddenly Zack popped in, respect for the injured and any sense of formality gone from him, replaced with fear and hurry.
“Guys you gotta come quick. This ain't good.”
~
The warning shots traced light across the sky as they flew over the Driver of the Day, bursting high above the deck, but still a clear show of force.
“Good, good.” Said Bernie as he stood on the deck of his aircraft carrier, the HMS Money, wearing a frilly purple bathrobe and aviator sunglasses temporarily on top of his head.
He took the binoculars away from his eyes and turned to the Captain as the aviators slipped back down onto his nose.
“Move to an intercept course.” He began to pace.
“Raise them, tell them to stand down and prepare to be boarded.”
He kept pacing.
“Tell them Bernie Ecclestone says hello.”
~
The cephalopod captain of the DotD was shouting in a mix of Scots and English about how they were all going to die and it wasn't his fault at Christian, Zack, and Toto. The words “immediate unconditional surrender” were used many, many times.
“Tell them we are prepared to surrender. Everyone arm yourselves and prepare for hostilities.” Said Toto, taking charge and loading a double barreled shotgun with thermite shells.
Just then the DotD was surrounded by small inflatable military watercraft manned by 3 or so paramilitary machine gunners each. They threw nerve gas canisters onto the deck and began to circle the craft and shoot their guns in the air, the muzzle flash dazzling against the spray of the water in the frigid sun.
The crew and passengers passed out. Christian hit his knee as he fell and the captain stubbed his tentacle. A crewman fell over board but he was a crustacean so he was fine. He floated to the bottom, woke up two weeks later in an octopus’s garden in the shade. He married the octopus and went on to found a chain of successful underwater pizza delivery restaurants.
~~~
Lewis sat on a comfortable chair in a well appointed, candle lit room in a luxurious martian employee owned and operated hotel overlooking Olympus Mons. A Butler stood next to him chuckling and pouring Champaign as a strange blue ghost of Valtteri sat in a wingback chair and regaled him with stories he couldn't understand because they were in Finnish.
The lady didn't bother with theatrics this time, she just showed up.
“Lewis. You fucking idiot get up!”
~~~
The dug camp had grown quiet. Dinner, potato stew, salmon, as many rolls as one could eat, and snow cones for desert that nobody ate, was long done. A Droid pushed the fire around and got another log in and then powered down.
Bottas was sitting next to Lewis, talking absolute nonsense in Finnish.
Max and Daniel had bribed a Droid for a bottle of Scotch.
“Come on, mate one more!” Said Daniel, and Max laughed uncontrollably, taking a swig from the bottle and handing it to Sainz, who finished it and threw the bottle behind him, howling.
Bottas looked up with a scowl but went back to his story with an smile against his will.
“Oh man, did you see how I got the bike?” enthoused max,
“Did I see it!? I copied it, but it didn't work. I jumped up, right, at the proper time to kick him off the bike and land in the seat like you did but I missed and got a decent face full of ice!”
Max lost it.
“Oh my god, you know? I got that move from GTA!!”
They both laughed hysterically.
“And fucking Carlos shredding those bastards!”
“It was much more crazy than it seemed,” said Sainz, “they had swords and knives. They cut me a few times, but we got em.”
“We got em!” Slurred Max and immediately passed out like a stone.
As the fire dwindled down, and their conversation, the snow continued to fall in unstoppable sheets of impenetrable white.
~~~
They'd passed the ground floor ages ago, but the stairs kept going.
Grignak continued his whooping and yelling and Ocon blasted down just as fast. It was getting darker, and warmer, but they kept going all the same, completely lost in speed madness.
“Woooooooooo!” Said Grignak again and his shouts echoed off to the floors above ground.
~
“So.” Said Vettel, peering out behind his sunglasses at Darth Håmmër. “You're the clone.”
“Uh… he's not quite. Um…” one of the sticky green surgeons began to say, his eyelid half down and his forehead sweaty…
Darth Håmmër just stared, his rubbery fake face sort of hanging there under his genuinely old looking open faced helmet.
“He only exists to kill.” Explained Perez.
“What kind of life is that?” Asked Kimi, entering the room, eating ice cream.
“It's not.” Said Perez. “Darth Håmmër exists to destroy the enemy. Isn't that right?”
“Where is Ocon?” Said Darth Håmmër in a deep robotic voice.
“You see?” Said Perez, a smirk playing over his skeletal face.
~~~
Christian had a massive headache. His knee hurt like crazy. His hands were tied and his mouth gagged. He couldn't see from the blindfold, but he could hear the footsteps coming down the stairwell.
“Wake them up.” A voice was saying. “I don't care how.”
There was more he couldn't hear. But he did understand the word “interrogations”.
~~~
“So you actually tore his heart out with your bare hands!?” Richard was asking, practically gushing his admiration over the umbrella in his drink.
“Oh yes,” said Racer X, completely impressive in every single way, “as they say, when in the temple of doom do what the evil cult does!”
And he laughed a hearty laugh.
“Anyway I liked that planet but their religion was bizarre, so I left. Had my next assignment. That one was boring, just an abandoned planet of wax droids locked in a never-ending war of good and evil.”
Jeremy and Richard both were lost in the tale.
That's when the alarms went off. Something exploded off to the right of the plane, shuddering the thing and knocking them all sideways.
~
Gunter, Maurizio, Claire, and Cyril stood at the back of the bridge. The captain and crew managed the nominal operation of the ship but they were concentrating on the aircraft. Gunter turned to a control panel and pressed a button and held it.
“Continue the flak cannons! Fire fire fire!”
Claire said crisply, almost regally “get them on the fucking radio.”
~
“Now listen here,” the voice was saying over the radio as Jezza, Hamster, Captain Slow, and Racer X listened on, “Land on the deck of the HMS Money or we will blow you out of the sky like the cowards you are.”
“Cowards!?” Said Racer X, incredulous.
“Just land the thing, James.” said Jeremy, almost calmly.
Another explosion right in front of them,
“For Christ's sake land it, man!” shouted Richard.
Racer X just braced, heroically.
~~~
“Stop, stop!” Said Fernando, panting. “Not all of us do triathlons, you know! I drive cars for a living!” He gave a grin and tried to catch his breath. He put his hands behind his head and paced.
Yenson laughed at this. He jogged in place a bit and stretched his legs.
Alonso took a potion of Stamina. He straightened up and gave a contented sigh.
“We’ve been running for ever right?” He said, as the first of their droid guards finally caught up to them, skittering and skuttering across the stones. “We’ve got to be close.”
“Yeah, it's right up here I think.” Yenson replied as he stuffed his face with a candy bar.
“Then let's walk that way. Let's get this over with.” Alonso said resolutely.
~
No more than 10 meters further they found the stairwell.
“I think this is it!” Said Yenson.
“Finally!” Fernando sighed.
And then they were both knocked to the ground by a flash of pink fur and a shout of “woooooooooo!!!”
~~
Stoffel dared not speak lest he woke the dragon. They were still in front of it. In order to get past it and out the cave exit, they had to walk right in front of its ancient, red, scaly face. It's head was the size of a Ford Transit van. It was sleeping, it's eyes closed in contentment as it slumbered peacefully on not just piles of gold but surrounded by a mountain of crowns, laurels, trinkets, cups, gems, and trophies. But they didn't know how long it would remain so.
There was a flapping sound behind them. Bats? Who knows. Still they crept along at a snail's pace beside the slumbering red dragon.
But the flapping came closer.
Stoffel still had his Glock but he didn't want to risk the noise. He readied it and kept moving as quietly as he could.
Pascal followed, his drone powered down and attached to his back like a backpack.
The flapping got closer.
They turned to see a Pterodactyl swoop down at them, it's shrieks filling the cave.
The dragon shifted slightly… it snorted out a burst of red flame, but kept snoring.
Stoffel, looked at Pascal, who looked just as scared. Pascal put down his goggles and threw the drone into the sky, it's engines firing up and propelling it at the dinosaur.
They ran for the cave exit as the drone shot 9mm bullets at a high rate and followed them out.
The Jaquesdactyl screamed, injured, and flew past them, out of the cave, and circled around, high in the snow filled sky.
~~~
Lewis was white water rafting when time froze.
The lady walked out again, this time from behind a tree.
“What are you doing?” She said.
Lewis just stared at her.
“Get up! Get up get up get up!” She said.
The water kept flowing around his kayak but he stayed still.
He stood up out of the frozen boat. He stepped into the flowing raging torrent of water and immediately slipped and fell. He was covered by angry water and flung about like a ragdoll. He lost consciousness.
~~~
Lewis opened his eyes.
“No fucking way…” said Bottas.
Lewis looked at him and smiled.
“Is there any water? I'm dying here.”

〘NEXT EPISODE〙

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