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Everyday Drabbles #868: Sting Operation

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The Elf sat at the back of the subway car, pretending to scroll through her phone. Next to her was a pair of nervous-looking Halflings. Opposite, a grumpy dwarf sat next to a dozing gym rat orc. None of them was her target.
She brought up the camera to take one of those self-photos mortals enjoyed and caught the Goblin leering at her in the screen’s reflection.
She winked at him and exited the train at the next stop. Her mark followed her up to the street, believing he was stealthy.
By morning, she’d bring down the whole kidnapping ring.

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Everyday Drabbles #867: The Tree of Life

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The “Tree of Life” was a mass of red tubing, glass, circuitry, and netting that stood at the center of the Colony Habitation Ring.
None of the residents knew what it did, but Management said it was a vital part of the Life Support System, a part of the computer that kept the compound running and safe. Every so often, a resident would be called to the Tree of Life and disappear.
When they tore it all down, the residents found the Tree of Life was empty, nothing more than another trick played by Management. That just made them angrier.

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Everyday Drabbles #866: The Moderator

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He sailed through the sky, gliding from building to building, leaving behind a trail of glittering exhaust from his jetpack assist. His helmet HUD could spot a criminal from twenty stories up.
Something was wrong with the city. That’s why he became a vigilante. It wasn’t enough to be law-abiding in a world sliding into chaos. He learned about the problems from the Vigil_NT app and knew he had to do something to help. He would bring order, both online and from the rooftops.
But he never expected the malware that took him down to come from inside his suit.

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Everyday Drabbles #865: The Launch Ramp

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They abandoned the launch ramp long ago. Everyone who could afford to abandon Earth for the Space Colonies left and pulled the ladder up behind them. The rich and powerful promised ‘Resettlement Initiatives’ and ‘Environmental Restoration Projects,’ all the while building sites like this one to get out and leave the rest of us to die.
I dig through the rusting rockets and leftover parts and wonder what they felt as they watched the dying world shrink to nothing on their monitors.
I set to work and wonder what they will say when all of us catch up to them.

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Hugh Likes Video Games: The Cult of the Lamb

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Cult of the Lamb
Developed by Massive Monster
Published by Devolver Digital
Played on Nintendo Swtich


The Skinny: This is one animal you don’t want to cross.

With the rise in popularity of roguelikes, horror games, and cute animal life sims, it was only a matter of time before a developer combined all three.
 Much like SNES classic Actraiser, Cult of the Lamb alternates between simulation and action gameplay and does an excellent job of using the two modes to create a satisfying gameplay loop. The player is thrust into the role of The Lamb, sacrificed by The Bishops of the Old Faith, four dark gods who rule over a sinister forest full of adorable cartoon animals, like a theocratic Animal Crossing. But death is only the beginning, as you are chosen by their imprisoned sibling, The One Who Waits, to build a cult, slay the four bishops, and free him.
Gameplay consists of two phases. In roguelike action sequences, players attack the lairs of the four bishops fighting enemies, rescuing prisoners, and gaining supplies. The rewards feed into a management sections, in which you grow your cult in order to use their faith to empower your supernatural abilities in combat. Players can also explore the world, completing side quests and playing mini-games.
 The gameplay loop is challenging and satisfying, as you must balance your follower’ needs and venture out in the dark to find your enemies. If you neglect one, the other will suffer. Players need to go out to gain gold and other supplies, but if you neglect your cult, they will abandon you and you won’t have the required population levels to unlock later areas or the upgrades needed for end-game challenges.
 The game’s art reminds me of ‘Happy Tree Friends,’ Taking a light, cartoonish style and mixing it with some seriously messed up stuff. The cartoony nature sands the edges off of some of the more despicable actions you are able to take as cult leader. The game gives you a lot of options. Will you sacrifice your followers for a quicker boost in power or nurture them in order to gain more resources? It’s all fun and games until you summon that tentacle from the farthest planes of reality to crush their little bones.
Combat is challenging and intuitive and will be familiar to anyone who has played games like Hades or The Binding of Isaac.
While both parts of the game are fun and feed into each other well, both feel a little shallower than if the game were more tightly focused.
Cult of the Lamb is available for Steam along with major console eShops.

Everyday Drabbles #864: Black Friday

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Once a year, the merchant visited the town. She brought strange goods from far-off lands, exotic spices, and treasures beyond compare. She would sit in the town square with her wonderous stock arranged around her and wait for someone to come and make a deal.
When the townsfolk saw her coming, they closed their curtains and locked their doors. Everyone knew the cost of her mysterious and enticing wares.
But every year, she would strike a bargain. There would be a rebellious teenager or a traveler who dismissed the townfolks’ warnings as superstition. The merchant always got what she wanted.

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Everyday Drabbles #863: The Message

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He had only a few moments to send a message into the past. He couldn’t survive the trip through the wormhole, and he didn’t know that anyone would be on the other side to receive what he sent through, but he had one chance to send a short message, for good or ill.
He thought about the impact his message could have. What tragic events could he prevent, and how could he steer the course of history?
He considered his own life and what he would change. In the end, he only sent two words through the portal.
“THANK YOU.”

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Everyday Drabbles #862: The Remembrance

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It hadn’t stopped snowing in over a year. The village had managed to survive growing potatoes under lamps in dirt-floored basements.
When she couldn’t grow a flower for her mother’s grave, she decided to build one. Electronics were the one thing they had in abundance, so she strung one together from LEDs and a little battery. She placed the electric flower on her mother’s grave and switched it on. It blazed red and orange in the night. Soon, others followed her example.
It had been a year since they’d seen the sky, but the churchyard became a sea of stars.

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Everyday Drabbles #861: Kardashev

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When humanity came to survey their planet, the visitors did not deem them an advanced civilization.
Where, the humans asked, were their great cities? Why did they not harvest the full capacity of their planet’s energy production? Why did they not use all the energy produced by their sun? Why did they not colonize their neighboring planets and stars?
The humans judged them as a level zero civilization, unworthy of diplomacy. It suited them fine, as they found the Earthlings distasteful.
It was not that their civilization did not consume, but they had learned what it meant to be satisfied.

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Everyday Drabbles #860: Makeup Tutorial

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The girl was crying in the bathroom when I came in.
“Whatever he did, he ain’t worth it, honey.”
She straightened and composed herself. “It isn’t like that,” the girl said.
“Of course not.” I pulled a wipe from my purse. “Let’s fix your makeup.” When I pulled out the switchblade, she gasped.
“Sometimes a sharp line is best for mascara,” I said. I pressed the flat of the blade against my cheek and used the spine as a straight edge. I set it down on the counter.
I guess I forgot to ask for the knife back. Oh well.\

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