Binary Options Review 2019 // SCAM or not? ++ [ Trading ...

Seekers Beyond the Shroud -- Review and Thoughts

Seekers Beyond the Shroud is a Solo modern day occult RPG, written by Alex T. for Blackoath Entertainment. I first stumbled upon it on Kickstarter in October of 2019, and immediately backed it. There are few deliberately designed Solo RPG's, and its promise of solo rules, robust system, and setting was irresistible. I received my print copy this summer, but haven't had a chance until recently to play it. Now that I have, I wanted to do a quick review of the game, based on both my reading of it as well as the couple of sessions I've been able to play. While most of the review will be discussing the book itself, I'll include some notes on my play experience in spoilers.
Layout and Design
The book itself is solid. The cover image is cool and evocative--and the art in general is very well done. I only backed at the softcover level, but it's a solid and well designed layout. Actually, better than some of the recent games I've bought from more established companies.
Setting
It's modern day London. Your character has gone through some traumatic and horrifying experience that awakened them to the greater supernatural world. After much searching, you have come to the Omphalos, a secret town populated by mystics, monsters, and other...things. There, you begin your journey of both personal enlightenment and personal power.
Character Creation
Seekers uses the 6 classic attributes--Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, and Charisma, with Will replacing Wisdom. The scale is from 1-20, with all starting at 10. You then get an additional 20 points to further customize your character.
I ended up putting my points into Dexterity, Will, Intelligence, and Charisma. I figured Will and Intelligence are key to any aspiring wizard, and--desiring to do something different than a rogue bad ass--I was hoping that Dexterity and Charisma would give me options to solve issues with something other than direct violence. This would become an issue later on.
Next, you have "Secondary Attributes"--Hit Points (Con x10) or Sanity (Int x10) and the like. Then, you have Skills. They're pretty much what you would expect, a mix of combat and non-combat. You have 250 points to spend on the skills, but are limited to no more than 50 in any skill at creation. Some skills have a base value derived from your attributes (for example, One-Handed Melee starts with a value equal to your Str+Dex, while Persuade starts with a value equal to your Charisma X2), while other skills--the mystical ones--begin at 0 and can only be increased through gameplay. If you use a skill 5 times, you can make a Skill-Up roll. If you roll above the current value (i.e.: fail), you add 1 point to the skill.
Given that I had a decent Dex, my combat skills were decent to begin with. I wanted to play an "ordinary joe" kind of character, so I spend my points on skills like Technology, Linguistics, and Persuade. I finally caved to my min/maxing tendencies though, and ended up boosting Parry and Sneak as high as I could, with a smattering of points in other combat skills. I had quite a few in the mid-40's, so my "mild mannered accountant" was surprisingly dangerous. Or so I thought.
Backgrounds
After the basics are done, you roll a d10 for your Background. Each provides and in-depth backstory for your character, and details the traumatic and often horrific moment that set you on the path of magic. Each also provides various penalties and bonuses that further modify your character.
I rolled the "Near Death Experience"--my PC was a workaholic who almost dies of a heart attack. While "dead," he encounter a horrific spirit that he just barely managed to evade. Upon waking, he through aside his career and sought out some explanation for what he had seen. He has a bonus to Psychic Combat--which is used in the Astral Plane--but a penalty to his Constitution and Charisma. I had left my Con at 10, so it dropped to 9, and my Hit Points also dropped from 100 to 90. I wasn't worried though, as I had intended to be more sneaky and charming than tough.
He said foreshadowingly.
Combat
Combat is relatively simple. As you approach a foe, you make an Initiative roll on a d20. Each foe has a static Initiative value; if you beat it, you go first and if not, then they do. If you beat them on the first turn, you have a chance to surprise or avoid them entirely. All combat rolls are done by the player. If an enemy attacks, you need to make a defensive roll (Parry, Dodge, or Find Cover) to avoid their attack, and you make your offensive roll (like One Handed Melee) to hit them. Certain foes are Veterans, and apply penalties to these rolls. Different types of weapons do different amounts of damage--like 2d10+10 for a pistol. In the intro adventure, the PC gains a "talent" that grants them a flat +25 to their damage from then on. Most foes have roughly 100-130 Hit Points, so even with the player bonus, it can take quite a few rounds to get through even minor enemies.
The Mystical World
The next few sections are some of the most interesting, describing the Astral World, Magic, Summoning and Binding Spirits, and the like. I haven't had a chance to really dig into this aspect of the game, however.
The Omphalos and Scenarios
The core of the game is the Omphalos, a hub of trade, commerce, knowledge and intrigue. Here the PC can buy and sell gear, learn new knowledge, encounter the strange denizens of this world, and get missions for various factions. There are four listed in the book, each with their own agendas and philosophy. Each has constant need for "foot soldiers" to do various unsavory tasks for them, and as you gain Favor with each, they provide various bonuses and spells and other benefits.
>! So, I finished the intro scenario, had some knowledge of the greater world, and had been introduced to the Omphalos. Time for the first "real" adventure! First, I roll on the Emphalos Daily Event table and got "quiet day"--things are calm today, and prices are low. I have only a few obols (the currency of the magical realm), so any discount is nice. Then I roll for Encounters, and get "pickpocket." There's no roll to avoid this, so my PC loses 100 obols. This is more than I have, so I am no broke. Desperate for work, I see who is hiring. There are 4 factions, and each might have a represented in town that day, based on a roll of 7+ on a D10. I roll for each, and only one is present, the Causa Scientiae a particularly rational and Order focused faction. I then roll for the Scenario--I get "recover." One of their artifacts has fallen into mortal hands and is in a museum. They want me to recover it for them. Given the setup, there will only be mortal guards--which is nice--and they don't want me to kill anyone. In fact, each guard I kill will cost me the possible Favor reward with the faction. Works for me--I don't want to kill anyone either.!<
I could refuse job, but risk losing Favor with them. Given that they are the only ones hiring today, I'm loathe to refuse. Plus the job seems up my alley--no magics needed (and I have none), and I should avoid all combat. Since other types of mission are "kill everything on site" or "kill everything and cast a really tough ritual" I figure I'm unlikely to get a better mission.
Next I go to the scenario design. There are a number of possible locations, and each has a unique setup, Events, and Discoveries. This is probably my favorite part of the game. I roll some dice, get a list of rooms and locations, and then create a simple map for my explorations. I know given the setup that the artifact in question will be discovered in the 16th room. But, a roleplayer is gonna roleplay, so I decide my PC will make a beeline for the Archives, assuming that the object surely must be there. And, if not, it will have the necessary paperwork showing where the object is.
Each room has unique odds for three different types of encounters--Enemies, Events, and Discoveries. I begin at the Entrance, and have no enemies but an Event reveals Drug Fueled Goons--apparently the guards here are all high as hell, and have a bonus of 20 to their Hit Points, but a -10 to combat. So, tougher to kill, but easier to hit and avoid.
The next room I enter is the Lobby, and there's a guard present. The guard rules state that they will attack on site. I could use an alternate rule that lets you talk past human-type foes but, well, I am breaking in and they are all drugged the hell up, so I stick with the basic rules. Still, I try to avoid them but fail in my starting initiative roll. The battle begins, and the dice are on my side. It's a running gun battle, but I'm able to kill the guard. When he's wounded, he calls for backup, and the dice gods are still smiling at me, and I make it through that battle without any injuries. I'm upset at my failure to avoid combat--and losing Favor with my client--but after some nasty battles in the intro adventure, I start to think I'm getting things sorted out.
I continue exploring and even manage to successfully sneak past a guard. As I'm exploring one of the administration offices, I run into another one. This time I can't avoid him, and another fight ensues. This time, the dice don't roll so well. He quickly gets the better of me, and I end up taking a lot damage. And with only 90 Hit Points, it's far more than I'm comfortable with. I decide to run.
To run away, you need to roll a D20 and, like initiative, and beat their Dexterity but even still they get a free attack on you. Not that it matters, as I fail to disengage. After two rounds spent trying to run away, my PC is shot dead on some secretaries desk and my game came to a close.
Concluding Thoughts
Seekers Beyond the Shroud is a very interesting game. Obviously, a ton of thought, love, and work has been poured into this game. And there is a lot I love about it--the world, the discussions on magic and spirits, the mission setup system--all top notch. But, there are some things that didn't quite work for me.
I'll probably give the game another shot. But, instead of playing an average guy awakening to a wider world, I'll probably go with a more "badass" character and hope he can survive the first few missions. In Seekers, knowing ancient languages is nice, but real mages know how to use a Glock.
TLDR
Seekers Beyond the Shroud is an interesting Solo RPG of modern occult shenanigans. it has a lot of very interesting and fun mechanics to bring the game to life, but suffers from some bad editing (make sure you play through the intro scenario or you WILL miss a key "PC Bonus") and an unforgiving system. Still, worth checking out for any Solo gamer interested in more contemporary game.
submitted by Talmor to Solo_Roleplaying [link] [comments]

The internals of Android APK build process - Article

The internals of Android APK build process - Article

Table of Contents

  • CPU Architecture and the need for Virtual Machine
  • Understanding the Java Virtual Machine
  • Compiling the Source Code
  • Android Virtual Machine
  • Compilation Process to .dex
  • ART over Dalvik
  • Understanding each part of the build process.
  • Source Code
  • Resource Files
  • AIDL Files
  • Library Modules
  • AAR Libraries
  • JAR Libraries
  • Android Asset Packaging Tool
  • resources.arsc
  • D8 and R8
  • Dex and Multidex
  • Signing the APK
  • References
Understanding the flow of the Android APK build process, the execution environment, and code compilation blog post aims to be the starting point for developers to get familiar with the build process of Android APK.

CPU Architecture and the need for Virtual Machine

Unveiled in 2007, Android has undergone lots of changes related to its build process, the execution environment, and performance improvements.
There are many fascinating characteristics in Android and one of them is different CPU architectures like ARM64 and x86
It is not realistic to compile code that supports each and every architecture. This is where Java Virtual Machine is used.
https://preview.redd.it/91nrrk3twxk51.png?width=1280&format=png&auto=webp&s=a95b8cf916f000e94c6493a5780d9244e8d27517

Understanding the Java Virtual Machine

JVM is a virtual machine that enables a computer to run applications that are compiled to Java bytecode. It basically helps us in converting the compiled java code to machine code.
By using the JVM, the issue of dealing with different types of CPU architecture is resolved.
JVM provides portability and it also allows Java code to be executed in a virtual environment rather than directly on the underlying hardware.
But JVM is designed for systems with huge storages and power, whereas Android has comparatively low memory and battery capacity.
For this reason, Google has adopted an Android JVM called Dalvik.

https://preview.redd.it/up2os7juwxk51.png?width=1280&format=png&auto=webp&s=2a290bdc9be86fb08d67228c730329130da3bc63

Compiling the Source Code

Our Java source code for the Android app is compiled into a .class file bytecode by the javac compiler and executed on the JVM.
For Kotlin source code, when targeting JVM, Kotlin produces Java-compatible bytecode, thanks to kotlinc compiler.
To understand bytecode, it is a form of instruction set designed for efficient execution by a software interpreter.
Whereas Java bytecode is the instruction set of the Java virtual machine.

https://preview.redd.it/w2uzoicwwxk51.png?width=1280&format=png&auto=webp&s=b122e0781bf9e9ba236d34a87a636c9218f7ea35

Android Virtual Machine

Each Android app runs on its own virtual machine. From version 1.0 to 4.4, it was 'Dalvik'. In Android 4.4, along with Dalvik, Google experimentally introduced a new Android Runtime called 'ART'.
Android users had the option to choose either Dalvik or ART runtime in Android 4.4.
The .class files generated contains the JVM Java bytecodes.
But Android has its own optimized bytecode format called Dalvik from version 1.0 to 4.4. Dalvik bytecodes, like JVM bytecodes, are machine-code instructions for a processor.

https://preview.redd.it/sqychk81xxk51.png?width=217&format=png&auto=webp&s=49445fa42e4aa6f4008114a822f364580649fcdf

Compilation Process to .dex

The compilation process converts the .class files and .jar libraries into a single classes.dex file containing Dalvik byte-codes. This is possible with the dx command.
The dx command turns all of the .class and .jar files together into a single classes.dex file is written in Dalvik bytecode format.
To note, dex means Dalvik Executable.
https://preview.redd.it/g4z3tb95xxk51.jpg?width=831&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=1cdbaacaf10cc529cccca2ba016583596781ee88

ART over Dalvik

Since Android 4.4, Android migrated to ART, the Android runtime from Dalvik. This execution environment executes .dex as well.
The benefit of ART over Dalvik is that the app runs and launches faster on ART, this is because DEX bytecode has been translated into machine code during installation, no extra time is needed to compile it during the runtime.
ART and Dalvik are compatible runtimes running Dex bytecode, so apps developed for Dalvik should work when running with ART.
The JIT based compilation in the previously used Dalvik has disadvantages of poor battery life, application lag, and performance.
This is the reason Google created Android Runtime(ART).
ART is based on Ahead - Of - Time (AOT) based compilation process where compilation happens before application starts.
In ART, the compilation process happens during the app installation process itself. Even though this leads to higher app installation time, it reduces app lag, increases battery usage efficiency, etc.
Even though dalvik was replaced as the default runtime, dalvik bytecode format is still in use (.dex)
In Android version 7.0, JIT came back. The hybrid environment combining features from both a JIT compiler and ART was introduced.
The bytecode execution environment of Android is important as it is involved in the application startup and installation process.
https://preview.redd.it/qh9bxsplzxk51.png?width=1280&format=png&auto=webp&s=bc40ba6c69cec2110b7d695fe23df094bf5aea6c

Understanding each part of the process.


https://preview.redd.it/obelgd7axxk51.png?width=950&format=png&auto=webp&s=299abcf4798ad4d2de93f4eb18b9d9e70dd54297

Source Code

Source code is the Java and Kotlin files in the src folder.

Resource Files

The resource files are the ones in the res folder.

AIDL Files

Android Interface Definition Language (AIDL) allows you to define the programming interface for client and service to communicate using IPC.
IPC is interprocess communication.
AIDL can be used between any process in Android.

Library Modules

Library module contains Java or Kotlin classes, Android components, and resources though assets are not supported.
The code and resources of the library project are compiled and packaged together with the application.
Therefore a library module can be considered to be a compile-time artifact.

AAR Libraries

Android library compiles into an Android Archive (AAR) file that you can use as a dependency for an Android app module.
AAR files can contain Android resources and a manifest file, which allows you to bundle in shared resources like layouts and drawables in addition to Java or Kotlin classes and methods.

JAR Libraries

JAR is a Java library and unlike AAR it cannot contain Android resources and manifests.

Android Asset Packaging Tool

Android Asset Packaging Tool (aapt2) compiles the AndroidManifest and resource files into a single APK.
At this point, it is divided into two steps, compiling and linking. It improves performance, since if only one file changes, you only need to recompile that one file and link all the intermediate files with the 'link' command.
AAPT2 supports the compilation of all Android resource types, such as drawables and XML files.
When you invoke AAPT2 for compilation, you should pass a single resource file as an input per invocation.
AAPT2 then parses the file and generates an intermediate binary file with a .flat extension.
The link phase merges all the intermediate files generated in the compile phase and outputs one .apk file. You can also generate R.java and proguard-rules at this time.

resources.arsc

The output .apk file does not include the DEX file, so the DEX file is not included, and since it is not signed, it is an APK that cannot be executed.
This APK contains the AndroidManifest, binary XML files, and resources.arsc.
This resource.arsc contains all meta-information about a resource, such as an index of all resources in the package.
It is a binary file, and the APK that can be actually executed, and the APK that you often build and execute are uncompressed and can be used simply by expanding it in memory.
The R.java that is output with the APK is assigned a unique ID, which allows the Java code to use the resource during compilation.
arsc is the index of the resource used when executing the application.

https://preview.redd.it/hmmlfwhdxxk51.png?width=1280&format=png&auto=webp&s=b2fe2b6ad998594a5364bb6af6b5cbd880a2452c

D8 and R8

Starting from android studio 3.1 onwards, D8 was made the default compiler.
D8 produces smaller dex files with better performance when compared with the old dx.
R8 is used to compile the code. R8 is an optimized version of D8.
D8 plays the role of dexer that converts class files into DEX files and the role of desugar that converts Java 8 functions into bytecode that can be executed by Android.
R8 further optimizes the dex bytecode. R8 provides features like optimization, obfuscation, remove unused classes.
Obfuscation reduces the size of your app by shortening the names of classes, methods, and fields.
Obfuscation has other benefits to prevent easy reverse engineering, but the goal is to reduce size.
Optimization reduces the DEX file size by rewriting unnecessary parts and inlining.
By doing Desugaring we can use the convenient language features of Java 8 in older devices.
https://preview.redd.it/so424bxwxxk51.png?width=1280&format=png&auto=webp&s=0ad2df5bd194ec770d453f620aae9556e14ed017

Dex and Multidex

R8 outputs one DEX file called classes.dex.
If you are using Multidex, that is not the case, but multiple DEX files will appear, but for the time being, classes.dex will be created.
If the number of application methods exceeds 65,536 including the referenced library, a build error will occur.
The method ID range is 0 to 0xFFFF.
In other words, you can only refer to 65,536, or 0 to 65,535 in terms of serial numbers.
This was the cause of the build error that occurred above 64K.
In order to avoid this, it is useful to review the dependency of the application and use R8 to remove unused code or use Multidex.

https://preview.redd.it/kjyychmzxxk51.png?width=1261&format=png&auto=webp&s=18bea3bf9f7920a4701c2db9714dc53ae6cc5f82

Signing the APK

All APKs require a digital signature before they can be installed or updated on your device.
For Debug builds, Android Studio automatically signs the app using the debug certificate generated by the Android SDK tools when we run.
A debug Keystore and a debug certificate is automatically created.
For release builds, you need a Keystore and upload the key to build a signed app. You can either make an APK file with apkbuilder and finally optimize with zipalign on cmd or have Android Studio handle it for you with the 'Generated Signed Apk option'.

https://preview.redd.it/10m8rjl0yxk51.png?width=1468&format=png&auto=webp&s=078c4ab3f41c7d08e7c2280555ef2038cc04c5b0

References

https://developer.android.com/studio/build
https://github.com/dogriffiths/HeadFirstAndroid/wiki/How-Android-Apps-are-Built-and-Run
https://logmi.jp/tech/articles/322851
https://android-developers.googleblog.com/2017/08/next-generation-dex-compiler-now-in.html
https://speakerdeck.com/devpicon/uncovering-the-magic-behind-android-builds-droidfestival-2018
by androiddevnotes on GitHub
🐣
submitted by jiayounokim to androiddev [link] [comments]

[OWL WATCH] AMA's SUMMARY

Disclaimer: This is my arbitrary summary for myself, so there could be some misunderstandings.
If you want the full picture, I recommend reading the full thread.
But, for a guy who just settles with 'less than perfect' summary, why not sharing my own?


Billy-IF
All the key research questions in coordicide have been answered. The challenges lying are implementing and testing our solution. We are implementing our solution into the Pollen Testnet and typing it up into our research specifications**(the specifications, while not complete, will hopefully be made publicly available soon).**
**After these tasks are done, our solution will go through a rigorous testing phase.**During this time, we will collect performance data, look for attack vectors, and tune the parameters.

domsch
the only way for IOTA and crypto-currencies in general to be adopted is via clear and strong regulatory guidelines and frameworks.
We often have the situation where a company reaches out to us and wants to use the IOTA token, but they are simply not able to due to uncertainties in regards to taxes, accounting, legal and regulatory questions.
The EU is taking a great stance with their new proposal (called MICA) to provide exactly this type of regulatory clarity and guidance we need. So we are very happy about that and see this as a great development for the adoption of IOTA.
We are very active in INATBA (in fact Julie is still on the board), are in the Executive Committee of the Digital Chamber of Commerce (https://digitalchamber.org) and are actively working with other regulatory bodies around the world. I think that especially in 2021, we will be much more pro-active with our outreach and efforts to push for more regulatory guidance (for the IOTA Token, for Tokenization, Smart Contracts, etc.). We are already talking with companies to start case studies around what it means to use the IOTA token - so that will be exciting.

domsch
actual product development, will really help us to convince regulators and lawmakers of what IOTA is intended for and where its potential lies.

DavidSonstebo
We are actively participating in regulatory matters via entities such as INATBA, as well as with local regulators in individual countries to help shape regulations to favor the adoption of crypto.
once the use cases can display real-world value, then deployments will happen regardless.

serguei_popov
"The multiverse" is quite an ingenious and promising idea that has many components. Actually, quite some of those are being incorporated to the Coordicide already now. The most "controversial" part, though, is the pure on-Tangle voting -- Hans thinks it should work fine while I think that it can be attacked

Billy-IF
Several of our modules have been devloped jointly with researchers in academia. For example, our rate control module is being developed jointly with professor Robert Shorten **and his team at Imperial College. Moreover,**our team has published several papers in peer reviewed journals and conference proceedings,
We are also making sure the entire protocol is audited. First, we have a grant given to Professor Mauro Conti specifcally to vet our solution.
you may hear an announcement regarding a similar grant to a second university.Second, eventually will offer bug bounties on our testnet. Lastly, we will hire some firm to audit our software and our protocol.

domsch
I would say that the entire enterprise and also the broader crypto-community is certainly actively following our developments around Coordicide**.**
Once that is removed, and with the introduction of Tokenization and Smart Contracts as Layer 2 solutions, there is no reason not to switch to IOTA.
there are probably even more who will reach out once we've achieved our objective of being production ready.

serguei_popov
Our objective is to have Honey ready within the first half of 2021.
we are very confident that Coordicide will happen in time.

Billy-IF
For Chrysalis, we will implement a deposit system. In order for an address to receive dust (which will be explicitly defined as any output with value less than a certain threshold), that address must already have a minimum balance (either 1 MIota or 1 KIota). The total ordering in conflict white flag makes this solution incredibly easy to implement.
this solution in the Coordicide needs alterations, because of the lack of total ordering.

HusQy_IOTA
Sharding is part of IOTA 3.0 and currently still in research.
there are of course some hard questions that need to be answered but we are pretty confident that these questions can and will be answered.

Billy-IF
**Having these layers helps keep the protocol modular and organized.****Indeed,****it is important to be able to track dependencies between the modules, particularly for standardization purposes.As your question suggests, a key component of standardization is the ability to update the standard(no living protocol is completely static).**Standardization will be accompanied by a versioning system, which tracks backwards compatibility.

Billy-IF
Well, let me try to clear these things up.
-The congestion control mechanisms are indifferent to the types of messages in the tangle. Thus non-value transactions (data messages) will be processed in the same way as value transactions (value messages). Thus, in times of congestion, a node will require mana in order to issue either of them.
-You will not need mana to simply “set up a node” and monitor the tangle.
However, in order to send transactions (or issue any messages) you will need mana in times of congestion.

IF_Dave
**The next big one is next month:**Odyssey Momentum; This is a huge multi-day DLT focussed hackathon with a lot of teams and big companies/governments involved working on solutions for the future. The IOTA Foundation is a Ecosystem member of Odyssey and we will be virtually present during the hackathon to help and guide teams working with IOTA.

Billy-IF
Coordicide will not fail. We are working very carefully to make sure that coordicide is a success, and we will not launch Iota 2.0 until it has gone through the proper testing.

domsch
Everyone internally and also our partners are very confident in the path that we've defined. Failure is not an option for us :)

HusQy_IOTA
We will most probably see a slight delay and see Nectar early 2021 instead.

DavidSonstebo
No, IF is not running out of money, this narrative has been repeated for 3 years now, yet we're still operating. Of course, bear markets impact our theoretical runway, but The IOTA Foundation is hard at work at diversifying revenue streams so that we become less and less dependent on the token holdings.

IF_Dave
We are constantly working on getting more exchanges to list IOTA, we however do not pay for listings
Some exchanges require a standard signature scheme
with the introduction of ed25519 in Chrysalis phase 2 that will be introduced and no longer be a restriction.

HusQy_IOTA
Being feeless is one of the most important aspects here since a new technology usually only gets adopted if it is either better or easier to use than existing solutions.
if it enables new use cases that would be completely impossible with the existing infrastructure. That is the single biggest reason why I think that IOTA will prevail.
An example for such a "new" use case is the Kupcrush use case presented by Terry

domsch
there are so many amazing use cases enabled with IOTA
I would say that****the most specific use cases which gets me really excited is conditional access control based on IOTA payments - in particular for the sharing economy.
IOTA Access + IOTA tokens really enable so many exciting new possibilities.

Billy-IF
In fact, with coordicide research coming to an end, we have already started to look into sharding**.**Indeed, sharding will provide the scalability needed to handle the demands of an IoT enabled world.

Billy-IF
We have designed Iota 2.0 to not have large concentrations of power. Unlike PoS systems, Iota will not be a block chain and thus will not be limited by a leader election process.
in a DAG, people can information in parallel, and so nodes with small amounts of mana can create messages at the same time with large mana holders.

Billy-IF
**In any DLT, "voting" needs a sybil protection system, and thus "voting power" is linked to some scarce resource.****Typically the allocation of any resource follows some sort of Zipf distribution, meaning that some people will have a lot, and others not.**The best we can do is to make sure that the little guys get their fair share of voting power.

HusQy_IOTA
With Chrysalis and coordicide we are finally moving to being production ready which will most probably also lead to a bigger market share as partners will start to use the technology which will increase the demand for tokens.

HusQy_IOTA
Privacy features are currently not being researched and it might be hard to support that on layer1 but privacy features could definitely be implemented as a 2nd layer solution

domsch
We focus on making the base layer of IOTA (namely transactional settlement) as secure and fast as possible. Many of the greater extensions to this core functionality are built on layer 2 (we already have Streams, Access, Identity and now also Smart Contracts)

HusQy_IOTA
There are discussions about increasing the supply to be able to still have micro transactions if the token would i.e. cost a few hundred dollars per MIOTA but we have not made a final decision, yet.

IF_Dave
We think we have a edge over other technology especially when it comes to fee-less transactions allowing a lot of use-cases that would otherwise be impractical or impossible.Adoption is not a given but a useful technology will be utilized with the right functionality,

DavidSonstebo
**why we have such a widespread strategy of driving IOTA, not only its development but in industry, academia, regulatory circles, raising awareness, funding ecosystem efforts etc.**I am confident in the position we are in right now.
There is a clear demand for financial disruption, data security, and automation.
someone has to assemble a killer application that meets the demand; IF is pushing for this with partners

Billy-IF
Our goal is to have at least 1000 TPS.

Billy-IF
Personally, I think our congestion control algorithm is our greatest innovation.
our algorithm can be used in any adversarial setting requiring fairness and consistency. Keep an eye out for a blog post that I am writing about it.

HusQy_IOTA
about proof of inclusion?
I have started implementing a proof of concept locally and the required data structures and payload types are already done but we won't be able to integrate this into goshimmer until we are done with the current refactoring of the code.

Jakub_Cech
**Many of the changes that are part of the Chrysalis would have made it and will make it into Coordicide.**Like the atomic transactions with binary layout. The approach we took was actually opposite - as in, what are the improvements we can already make in the current network without having to wait for Coordicide, and at the same time without disrupting or delaying Coordicide?

Billy-IF
All the key research questions in coordicide have been answered.
in reality, the biggest research challenges are behind us.

Jakub_Cech
When Chrysalis part 2 will be live?
We are still aiming for 2020****as still reflected at roadmap.iota.org. **We want to have a testnet where everyone can test things like the new APIs on, and some initial implementations of specific client libraries****to work with.**This will also allow us to test the node (both Hornet and Bee) implementations more in the wild.
The new wallet will also be tested on that testnet.
The whole testing phase will be a big endeavor, and, at the same time, we will also start auditing many of the implementations,

Billy-IF
We are in contact currently with OMG, and they are advising us on how to draft our specifications in order to ease the standardization process. Coordicide, or Iota 2.0, actually provides us a chance to start off with a clean state, since we are building it from the ground up with standardization in mind.

IF_Dave
The focus at this point is delivering Chrysalis and Coordicide. DeFi could possibly be done with Smart contracts at a given moment but it's not a focus point at this stage.

domsch
about price?
We are quite frankly not worried about that. Knowing everything that we have in the pipeline, our ecosystem and how everything around IOTA will mature over the next few months, I am sure that the entire crypto ecosystem will wake up to IOTA and its potential. **Many participants in the market still have outdated information from 2017 about us, so there is certainly some education to do.**But with Chrysalis and the Coordicide progress, all of that will change.

domsch
At the core of it, the IOTA Foundation is a leader in trust protocols and digital infrastructure.We will always remain a R&D organization at our core, as there is a lot more development we can lead when it comes to make our society and economy more fair, trustless and autonomous.
I certainly see us evolving into a broader think-tank and expert group to advise governments and large corporations on their strategies - in particular around data, identity and IoT.

HusQy_IOTA
barely any cryptocurrency gets used in the real world.
IOTA will soon start to actually be used in real world products and it is likely that this will also have an impact on the price (but I can't really give any details just yet).

domsch
ISCP (IOTA Smart Contract Protocol) is based on cryptographic consensus via BLS threshold signatures. That means a certain pre-defined amount of key holders have to come together to alter the state of the contract****or to send funds around. **If majority of the nodes are offline, the threshold will not be reached and the contract cannot be executed anymore.**There are various ways in how we are looking at this right now on how to make SC recovery and easy transitions possible.
**The beauty of ISCP is that we have a validator set which you can define (can be 3 or it can be 100+), and via an open selection process we can really ensure that the network will be fully decentralized and permissionless.Every smart contract committee (which will be its own network of course) is leveraging the IOTA ledger for security and to make it fully auditable and tamper-proof.**Which means that if a committee acts wrong, we have cryptographic proof of it and can take certain actions.
This makes our approach to smart contracts very elegant, secure and scalable.

Billy-IF
No, we will not standardize Iota 1.5. Yes, we do hope that standardization will help adoption by making it easier for corporates to learn our tech.

serguei_popov
In general, I also have to add that I'm really impressed by the force of our research department, and I think we have the necessary abilities to handle all future challenges that we might be facing.

Billy-IF
In coordicide, i.e. Iota 2.0, yes all nodes have to process all transactions and must receive all data. Our next major project is sharding, i.e. Iota 3.0 which will remove this requirement, and increase scalability.
FPC begins to be vulnerable to attack if the attacker has 30%-40% of the active consensus mana.

HusQy_IOTA
There is no doubt about coordicide working as envisioned.

HusQy_IOTA
When will companies fully implement iota tech?
Soon(TM) :P

Billy-IF
Well first, we are going to make sure that we dont need a plan B :) Second, our plans for the actual deployment are still under discussion. Lastly, we will make sure there is some sort of fail safe, e.g. turning the coordinator back on, or something like that.

Billy-IF
All the key research questions in coordicide have been answered, and each module is designed.

Billy-IF
What will be standardized is the behavior of the modules, particularly their interactions with other nodes and wallets. Implementation details will not be standardized. The standardization will allow anyone to build a node that can run on the IOTA 2.0 network.

DavidSonstebo
Tangle EE has its own Slack (private) and calls, so the lack of activity can probably be explained in that fashion. Coordicide will have an impact on all of IOTA :) There's certainly a lot of entities awaiting it, but most will start building already with Chrysalis v2, since it solves most pain points.

Billy-IF
If there are no conflicts, a message will be confirmed if it receives some approvals. We estimate that this should happen within 10-20 seconds.
To resolve a conflict, FPC will typically take another 4 minutes, according to our simulator. Since conflicts will not affect honest users, most transactions will have very short confirmation times.

Billy-IF
a colored coin supply cannot exceed that of all Iota. You could effectively mint a colored coin supply using a smart contract, although there would be performance downsides. There are no plans to increase the supply. The convergence to binary will not affect the supply nor anyone's balances.

HusQy_IOTA
Both, Radix and Avalanche have some similarities to IOTA:
- Avalanche has a similar voting scheme and also uses a DAG
- Radix uses a sharding approach that is similar to IOTAs "fluid sharding"
I don't really consider them to compete with our vision since both projects still rely on fees to make the network work.
Centralized solution can however never be feeless and being feeless is not just a "nice feature" but absolutely crucial for DLT to succeed in the real world.
Having fees makes things a lot easier and Coordicide would already be "done" if we could just use fees but I really believe that it is worth "going the extra mile" and build a system that is able to be better than existing tech.
submitted by btlkhs to Iota [link] [comments]

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submitted by jhondaski5444 to u/jhondaski5444 [link] [comments]

11-04 23:47 - 'DON'T USE THIS' (self.linux) by /u/CreeperTyE removed from /r/linux within 6-16min

'''
This is for cyberpatriots, pls don't use this.
#!/bin/bash
# CyberPatriot Ubuntu (Trusty Tahr) Script v0.3.5
# Root is required to run this script, but chmod should not be used on script or run as root.
# User running script must be in group 'sudo'.
#
# Not everything is covered in this script. Please make sure to review checklist and the Securing Debian Manual.
# This script is only meant to be used for whichever team Keita Susuki is on.
# CHANGES: sed is now more often used to find and replace instead of append to config files
function main {
kernel_info=$(uname -a)
time=$(date)
display_info=$(whoami)
sshd="/etc/ssh/sshd_config"
apache_s="/etc/apache2/apache2.conf"
vsftpd_s="/etc/vsftpd.conf"
echo "---------------------------------------------------------"
echo "Script version: v0.3.5"
echo "Current User: $display_info"
echo "Team: Binary Bros"
echo "Current Time: $time"
echo "Kernel info: $kernel_info"
echo "Now, what can I do for you today?"
echo "---------------------------------------------------------"
echo -en '\n'
read -p "Press ENTER to continue."
echo -en '\n'
echo "WARNING: IF YOU HAVE NEGLECTED TO COMPLETE THE FORENSICS QUESTIONS, IMMEDIATELY CTRL+C THIS SCRIPT."
echo "HAVE YOU COMPLETED ALL THE FORENSICS QUESTIONS? [Y/N]"
read -r forensic_questions
if [[ $forensic_questions == "y" || $forensic_questions == "Y" ]]; then
clear
echo "Good. Now let's start working."
elif [[ $forensic_questions == "n" || $forensic_questions == "N" ]]; then
echo "Finish the forensics questions and come back."
exit
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
echo "Before using apt, we need to check to see if sources.list hasn't been tampered with."
echo "Redirecting you to /etc/apt/sources.list in 5 seconds..."
sleep 5
sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list
echo "Securing /run/shm."
echo "r-- is dangerous, only on servers if there is no reason for /run/shm."
echo "Read only /run/shm can cause many programs to break. Be cautious."
echo -en '\n'
echo "Options:"
echo "Mount /run/shm r-- (read-only) [r]"
echo "Mount /run/shm rw- (read-write) [w]"
echo "Skip this method. [x]"
read -r shared_memory
if [[ $shared_memory == "r" || $shared_memory == "R" ]]; then
echo "none /run/shm tmpfs defaults,ro 0 0" | sudo tee -a /etc/fstab
echo "Done. Restart box after script has run its course."
elif [[ $shared_memory == "w" || $shared_memory == "w" ]]; then
echo "none /run/shm tmpfs rw,noexec,nosuid,nodev 0 0" | sudo tee -a /etc/fstab
echo "Done. Restart box after script has run its course."
elif [[ $shared_memory == "x" || $shared_memory == "X" ]]; then
echo "Understood. Check UnsafeDefaults page on Ubuntu's website."
fi
echo -en '\n'
echo "Next, we will check hosts file. Make sure nothing looks amiss (default config)."
echo "Redirecting you to hosts file in 5 seconds..."
sleep 5
sudo gedit /etc/hosts
echo -en '\n'
echo "See if nameserver is unfamiliar, if it is, change to google public (8.8.8.8)."
echo "Redirecting you in 3 seconds..."
sudo gedit /etc/resolv.conf
echo -en '\n'
echo "I will now install packages necessary for the security of the system."
echo -en '\n'
sudo apt-get -y -qq install rkhunter clamav clamtk gufw ufw libpam-cracklib vim nmap sysv-rc-conf bum unattended-upgrades logcheck lynis members auditd chkrootkit fail2ban
echo -en '\n'
echo "Configuring automatic upgrades.."
sudo dpkg-reconfigure --priority=low unattended-upgrades
echo "Would you like to manually use gufw or have the script automatically use ufw and close off ports?"
echo -en '\n'
echo "Options:"
echo "g: gufw"
echo "a: auto ufw"
echo "ga: ufw then manual gufw"
read -r firewall_config
if [[ $firewall_config == "g" || $firewall_config == "G" ]]; then
echo "Opening gufw in 5 seconds..."
sleep 5
sudo gufw
elif [[ $firewall_config == "a" || $firewall_config == "A" ]]; then
sudo ufw enable
sudo ufw deny 23
sudo ufw deny 2049
sudo ufw deny 515
sudo ufw deny 111
sudo ufw deny 9051
sudo ufw deny 31337
sudo ufw status
echo "Automatic configuration of firewall completed. I recommend that you look over this again."
sleep 10
elif [[ $firewall_config == "ga" || $firewall_config == "GA" ]]; then
sudo ufw enable
sudo ufw deny 23
sudo ufw deny 2049
sudo ufw deny 515
sudo ufw deny 111
sudo ufw deny 9051
sudo ufw deny 31337
sudo gufw
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
clear
echo -en '\n'
echo "Running nmap on 127.0.0.1 to display open ports..." # nmap isn't considered a "hacking tool"
echo "Would you also like to save output to nmap_output.txt [y/n]?"
echo -en '\n'
read -r nmap_input
if [[ $nmap_input == "y" || $nmap_input == "Y" ]]; then
echo "Sending output to nmap_output.txt.."
touch nmap_output.txt
echo "Running nmap on localhost again so you can see the output."
nmap -sV 127.0.0.1 > nmap_output.txt
sleep 10
echo -en '\n'
elif [[ $nmap_input == "n" || $nmap_input == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood. Running nmap on localhost.."
nmap -sV 127.0.0.1
sleep 10
echo -en '\n'
else
echo "Error: bad input."
echo -en '\n'
fi
echo "Now please disable unneeded processes keeping ports open."
sleep 5
sudo sysv-rc-conf # preferred tool for this
echo -en '\n'
echo "Please make sure there is nothing besides exit 0 and some comments."
sleep 5
sudo vim /etc/rc.local
echo -en '\n'
echo "Checking for sshd_config file"
if [ -f "$sshd" ]; then
echo "sshd is present on this system."
echo "Is sshd a critical service on this machine? [y/n]"
echo "note: selecting N will remove sshd from this system. Proceed with caution."
read -r sshd_critical
if [[ $sshd_critical == "y" || $sshd_critical == "Y" ]]; then
sshd_secure_config
elif [[ $sshd_critical == "n" || $sshd_critical == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood, moving on."
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
echo -en '\n'
echo "Would you like to restart sshd? [y/n]"
read -r sshd_restart_uinput
if [[ $sshd_restart_uinput == "Y" || $sshd_restart_uinput == "y" ]]; then # may take points and then give back
echo "Restarting sshd..."
sudo service sshd restart
elif [[ $sshd_restart_uinput == "n" || $sshd_restart_uinput == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood. Remember that changes will not happen until sshd is restarted."
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
fi
clear
echo -en '\n'
echo "Disabling guest user and turning off autologin. Editing /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf"
echo "Checklist reference: GENERAL/8 Alpha, Bravo"
echo "Remember to restart lightdm or restart box later on."
echo "I will direct you there in 5 seconds."
sleep 5
sudo vim /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf
echo -en '\n'
printf "Now, would you like for me to add some better settings for /etc/sysctl.conf? [y\n]"
read -r secure_sysctl
if [[ $secure_sysctl == "y" || $secure_sysctl == "Y" ]]; then
sysctl_secure_config
elif [[ $secure_sysctl == "n" || $secure_sysctl == "N" ]]; then
echo -en '\n'
echo "Understood, I recommend you do this manually however."
else
echo -en '\n'
echo "Error: bad input"
fi
echo -en '\n'
echo "Lock the root account? [y/n]"
read -r disable_root
echo -en '\n'
if [[ $disable_root == "y" || $disable_root == "Y" ]]; then
sudo passwd -l root
echo "Root account locked."
elif [[ $disable_root == "n" || $disable_root == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood, manually lock please."
else
echo "Bad input."
fi
clear
echo -en '\n'
echo "Limit access to su to all users but the ones in group wheel? [y/n]"
echo -en '\n'
read -r lim_su
if [[ $lim_su == "y" || $lim_su == "Y" ]]; then
sudo chown [link]1 /bin/su sudo
chmod 04750 /bin/su
echo "Done."
elif [[ $lim_su == "n" || $lim_su == "N" ]]; then
echo "Remember to manually limit access to su! All it takes is a single uncomment..."
else
echo "Bad input."
fi
clear
if [[ -f "$apache_s" ]]; then
echo "Is apache2 supposed to be installed on this system? [y/n]"
echo "If you choose N then you will subsequently uninstall apache2. Be careful."
read -r apache2_que
if [[ $apache2_que == "y" || $apache2_que == "Y" ]]; then
echo "Understood, moving on to securing apache2."
apache2_secure
elif [[ $apache2_que == "n" || $apache2_que == "N" ]]; then
echo "Uninstalling apache2..."
sudo service apache2 stop
sudo apt-get purge apache2
else
echo "Bad input."
fi
else
echo "Apache2 is not installed, moving on."
fi
if [[ -f "$vsftpd_s" ]]; then
echo "vsftpd configuration file detected."
echo "Is vsftpd a critical service on this machine? [y/n]"
echo "If you choose N then you will subsequently uninstall vsftpd. Be careful."
read -r vsftpd_choice
if [[ $vsftpd_choice == "y" || $vsftpd_choice == "Y" ]]; then
echo "Understood, moving on to securing vsftpd."
vsftpd_secure
elif [[ $vsftpd_choice == "n" || $vsftpd_choice == "N" ]]; then
sudo service vsftpd stop
sudo apt-get purge vsftpd
else
echo "Bad input."
fi
else
echo "vsftpd is not installed on this machine, moving on."
fi
clear
echo "Check apparmor? [y/n]"
read -r apparmor_check
if [[ $apparmor_check == "y" || $apparmor_check == "Y" ]]; then
apparmor_fix
elif [[ $apparmor_check == "n" || $apparmor_check == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood, moving on."
echo -en '\n'
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
echo -en '\n'
echo "Deny su to non admins? [y/n]"
echo -en '\n'
read -r deny_su
if [[ $deny_su == "y" || $deny_su == "Y" ]]; then
sudo dpkg-statoverride --update --add root sudo 4750 /bin/su
echo "Done."
elif [[ $deny_su == "n" || $deny_su == "N" ]]; then
sudo "Understood, moving on."
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
echo -en '\n'
echo "Secure home directory? [y/n]"
echo "NOTE: potentially dangerous."
echo -en '\n'
read -r home_secure
if [[ $home_secure == "y" || $home_secure == "Y" ]]; then
echo "What is your username?"
echo "I need it so I can chmod 0700 your home directory."
read -r username_uinput
sudo chmod 0700 /home/"$username_uinput"
echo "Thanks!."
elif [[ $home_secure == "n" || $home_secure == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood, moving on."
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
clear
echo -en '\n'
echo "Prevent IP spoofing? [y/n]"
echo "(/etc/host.conf)"
read -r ip_spoof
echo -en '\n'
if [[ $ip_spoof == "y" || $ip_spoof == "Y" ]]; then
echo "order bind,hosts" | sudo tee -a /etc/host.conf
echo "nospoof on" | sudo tee -a /etc/host.conf
echo "IP spoofing disabled."
elif [[ $ip_spoof == "n" || $ip_spoof == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood, skipping disabling ip spoofing."
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
echo "Would you like to edit /etc/pam.d? [y/n]"
read -r pam_secure
if [[ $pam_secure == "y" || $pam_secure == "Y" ]]; then
echo "Use subroutine pam_secure? [y/n]"
read -r choose_pam_secure
if [[ $choose_pam_secure == "y" || $choose_pam_secure == "Y" ]]; then
pam_secure
elif [[ $choose_pam_secure == "n" || $choose_pam_secure == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood, moving on."
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
echo "Redirecting you to /etc/pam.d/common-password. Use checklist."
echo "Checklist reference: GENERAL/10 ALPHA"
echo -en '\n'
sleep 5
sudo vim /etc/pam.d/common-password
echo -en '\n'
echo "Redirecting you to /etc/pam.d/common-auth. Use checklist."
echo "Checklist reference: GENERAL/10 BRAVO"
sleep 5
sudo vim /etc/pam.d/common-auth
echo -en '\n'
echo "Redirecting you to /etc/login.defs. Use checklist."
echo "Checklist reference: GENERAL/10 CHARLIE"
sleep 5
sudo vim /etc/login.defs
elif [[ $pam_secure == "n" || $pam_secure == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood, will skip securing pam.d. Make sure to use the checklist and do so manually."
else
echo "Sorry, bad input."
fi
clear
echo -en '\n'
echo "Would you like to delete media files? [y/n]"
echo "Warning: Feature untested due to obvious reasons."
echo -en '\n'
read -r media_input
if [[ $media_input == "y" || $media_input == "Y" ]]; then
sudo find / -name '*.mp3' -type f -delete
sudo find / -name '*.mov' -type f -delete
sudo find / -name '*.mp4' -type f -delete
sudo find / -name '*.avi' -type f -delete
sudo find / -name '*.mpg' -type f -delete
sudo find / -name '*.mpeg' -type f -delete
sudo find / -name '*.flac' -type f -delete
sudo find / -name '*.m4a' -type f -delete
sudo find / -name '*.flv' -type f -delete
sudo find / -name '*.ogg' -type f -delete
sudo find /home -name '*.gif' -type f -delete
sudo find /home -name '*.png' -type f -delete
sudo find /home -name '*.jpg' -type f -delete
sudo find /home -name '*.jpeg' -type f -delete
elif [[ $media_input == "n" || $media_input == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood, manually search and destroy media files."
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
echo -en '\n'
clear
echo "Would you like to install updates? [y/n]"
read -r update_input
if [[ $update_input == "y" || $update_input == "Y" ]]; then
sudo apt-get -qq -y update
sudo apt-get -qq -y upgrade
sudo apt-get -qq -y dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get -qq -y autoremove
elif [[ $update_input == "n" || $update_input == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood, moving on."
echo -en '\n'
else
echo "Error: bad input."
echo -en '\n'
fi
sudo freshclam
clear
echo "Run chkrootkit and rkhunter? [y/n]"
read -r rootkit_chk
if [[ $rootkit_chk == "y" || $rootkit_chk == "Y" ]]; then
touch rkhunter_output.txt
echo "Rkhunter output file created as rkhunter_output.txt."
touch chkrootkit_output.txt
echo "chkrootkit output file created as chkrootkit_output.txt."
sudo chkrootkit | tee chkrootkit_output.txt
sudo rkhunter -c | tee rkhunter_output.txt
elif [[ $rootkit_chk == "n" || $rootkit_chk == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood, moving on."
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
sudo clamscan -r /
clear
echo -en '\n'
sleep 5
touch lynis_output.txt
echo "Lynis output file created as lynis_output.txt."
sudo lynis -c | tee lynis_output.txt
echo "Enable apparmor? [y/n]"
read -r apparmor_enabling
if [[ $apparmor_enabling == "y" || $apparmor_enabling == "Y" ]]; then
sudo perl -pi -e 's,GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="(.*)"$,GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="$1 apparmor=1 security=apparmor",' /etc/default/grub
sudo update-grub
elif [[ $apparmor_enabling == "n" || $apparmor_enabling == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood, you should enable it however."
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
echo "The script has run it's course."
echo "Remember to manually check config files and finish any changes."
echo -en '\n'
echo "--------------------------------------------------------"
echo "INFORMATION"
echo "--------------------------------------------------------"
echo "Current User: $display_info"
echo "Current Time: $time"
echo "Kernel info: $kernel_info"
echo "--------------------------------------------------------"
echo -en '\n'
read -p "Press ENTER to reboot the system."
sudo reboot
}
function apache2_secure {
sudo apt-get -y install libapache2-modsecurity
sudo apt-get -y install libapache2-modevasive
sudo sed -i 's/^#?ServerSignature .*/ServerSignature Off/g' /etc/apache2/conf-enabled/security.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?ServerTokens .*/ServerTokens Off/g' /etc/apache2/conf-enabled/security.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?Options .*/Options None/g' /etc/apache2/apache2.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?AllowOverride .*/AllowOverride None/g' /etc/apache2/apache2.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?Require*/Require all granted/g' /etc/apache2/apache2.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?LimitRequestBody*/LimitRequestBody 204800/g' /etc/apache2/apache2.conf
echo "" | sudo tee -a /etc/apache2/apache2.conf
echo "Order deny, allow" | sudo tee -a /etc/apache2/apache2.conf
echo "Deny from all" | sudo tee -a /etc/apache2/apache2.conf
echo "Check if mod_security module is running..."
echo "
" | sudo tee -a /etc/apache2/apache2.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?Timeout*/Timeout 15/g' /etc/apache2/apache2.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?LimitXMLRequestBody*/LimitXMLRequestBody 204800/' /etc/apache2/apache2.conf
sudo apachectl -M | grep --color security
echo "Is mod_security on? It should say security2_module somewhere."
read -r security_a2_on
if [[ $security_a2_on == "y" || $security_a2_on == "Y" ]]; then
echo "Good. I will move on."
elif [[ $security_a2_on == "n" || $security_a2_on == "N" ]]; then
sudo mv /etc/modsecurity/modsecurity.conf-recommended /etc/modsecurity/modsecurity.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?SecRuleEngine .*/SecRuleEngine On/g' /etc/modsecurity/modsecurity.conf
sudo service apache2 restart
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
return 1
}
function pam_secure {
sudo sed -i 's/^#?PASS_MAX_DAYS .*/PASS_MAX_DAYS 90/g' /etc/login.defs
sudo sed -i 's/^#?PASS_MIN_DAYS .*/PASS_MIN_DAYS 7/g' /etc/login.defs
sudo sed -i 's/^#?PASS_WARN_AGE .*/PASS_WARN_AGE 7/g' /etc/login.defs
echo "Setup failed login attempts in /etc/pam.d/common-auth and add some config changes? [y/n]"
read -r fail_pamd_ca
if [[ $fail_pamd_ca == "y" || $fail_pamd_ca == "Y" ]]; then
echo "auth optional pam_tally.so deny=5 unlock_time=900 onerr=fail audit even_deny_root_account silent" | sudo tee -a /etc/pam.d/common-auth
sudo sed -i 's/^#?pam_unix.so .*/password [success=1 default=ignore] pam_unix.so obscure use_authtok try_first_pass sha512
remember=10 minlen=8 difok=5/g' /etc/pam.d/common-password
elif [[ $fail_pamd_ca == "n" || $fail_pamd_ca == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood, moving on."
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
echo "Create brutally paranoid configuration for /etc/pam.d/other? [y/n]"
echo "NOTE: IF PAM FILES ARE DELETED ACCIDENTALLY, SYSTEM FAILURE MAY OCCUR."
read -r other_paranoid
if [[ $other_paranoid == "y" || $other_paranoid == "Y" ]]; then
echo "auth required pam_deny.so" | sudo tee -a /etc/pam.d/other
echo "auth required pam_warn.so" | sudo tee -a /etc/pam.d/other
echo "account required pam_deny.so" | sudo tee -a /etc/pam.d/other
echo "account required pam_warn.so" | sudo tee -a /etc/pam.d/other
echo "password required pam_deny.so" | sudo tee -a /etc/pam.d/other
echo "password required pam_warn.so" | sudo tee -a /etc/pam.d/other
echo "session required pam_deny.so" | sudo tee -a /etc/pam.d/other
echo "session required pam_warn.so" | sudo tee -a /etc/pam.d/other
elif [[ $other_paranoid == "n" || $other_paranoid == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood, moving on."
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
return 1
}
function vsftpd_secure {
sudo sed -i 's/^anonymous_enable=.*/anonymous_enable=NO/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
echo "Anonymous FTP login disabled."
sudo sed -i 's/^chroot_local_user=.*/chroot_local_user=YES/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
echo "Local users restricted to their home directories."
echo "Create SSL/TLS certificate and private key for vsftpd server? [y/n]"
read -r ssl_vsftpd
if [[ $ssl_vsftpd == "y" || $ssl_vsftpd == "Y" ]]; then
sudo openssl req -x509 -days 365 -newkey [link]2 -nodes -keyout /etc/vsftpd.pem -out /etc/vsftpd.pem
echo "Created."
echo "Making config changes..."
sudo sed -i 's/^#?ssl_enable=.*/ssl_enable=YES/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf #enable tls/ssl
echo "SSL enabled."
sudo sed -i 's/^#?allow_anon_ssl=.*/allow_anon_ssl=NO/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?force_local_data_ssl=.*/force_local_data_ssl=YES/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?force_local_logins_ssl=.*/force_local_logins_ssl=YES/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?ssl_tlsv1=.*/ssl_tlsv1=YES/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?ssl_sslv2=.*/ssl_sslv2=NO/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?ssl_sslv3=.*/ssl_sslv3=NO/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?require_ssl_reuse=.*/require_ssl_reuse=NO/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?ssl_ciphers=.*/ssl_ciphers=HIGH/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?rsa_cert_file=.*/rsa_cert_file=/etc/vsftpd.pem/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?rsa_private_key_file=.*/rsa_private_key_file=/etc/vsftpd.pem/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?pasv_max_port=.*/pasv_max_port=65535/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?pasv_min_port=.*/pasv_min_port=64000/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?local_max_rate=.*/local_max_rate=30000/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?idle_session_timeout=.*/idle_session_timeout=120/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?max_per_ip=.*/max_per_ip=15/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?xferlog_enable=.*/xferlog_enable=YES/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?xferlog_std_format=.*/xferlog_std_format=NO/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?xferlog_file=.*/xferlog_file=/valog/vsftpd.log/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
echo "Log file set at /valog/vsftpd.log"
sudo sed -i 's/^#?log_ftp_protocol=.*/log_ftp_protocol=YES/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
sudo sed -i 's/^#?debug_ssl=.*/debug_ssl=YES/g' /etc/vsftpd.conf
echo "Configuration changes complete. Check /etc/vsftpd.conf later to see if they have all been done."
echo -en '\n'
echo "[link]3 "
echo -en '\n'
echo "Adding firewall exceptions.."
sudo ufw allow 20
sudo ufw allow 21
sudo ufw allow 64000:65535/tcp
sudo iptables -I INPUT -p tcp --dport 64000:65535 -j ACCEPT
elif [[ $ssl_vsftpd == "n" || $ssl_vsftpd == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood. However, this is recommended."
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
echo "Restart vsftpd? [y/n]"
read -r vsftpd_restart
if [[ $vsftpd_restart == "y" || $vsftpd_restart == "Y" ]]; then
sudo service vsftpd restart
elif [[ $vsftpd_restart == "n" || $vsftpd_restart == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood, moving on."
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
return 1
}
function apparmor_fix {
if [ -f /ussbin/apparmor_status ]; then
echo "Apparmor already installed."
else
echo "Apparmor not installed, installing."
sudo apt-get install -y -qq apparmor apparmor-profiles apparmor-utils
echo "Apparmor will be enabled at the end of the script."
fi
return 1
}
function sshd_secure_config {
sudo sed -i 's/^#?PermitRootLogin .*/PermitRootLogin no/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
return 1
sudo sed -i 's/^#?PermitEmptyPasswords .*/PermitEmptyPasswords no/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
sudo sed -i 's/^#?Port .*/Port 2223/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
sudo sed -i 's/^#?X11Forwarding .*/X11Forwarding no/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
sudo ufw allow 2223
sudo sed -i 's/^#?Protocol .*/Protocol 2/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
sudo sed -i 's/^#?PrintLastLog .*/PrintLastLog no/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
sudo sed -i 's/^#?IgnoreRhosts .*/IgnoreRhosts yes/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
sudo sed -i 's/^#?RhostsAuthentication .*/RhostsAuthentication no/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
sudo sed -i 's/^#?RSAAuthentication .*/RSAAuthentication yes/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
sudo sed -i 's/^#?HostbasedAuthentication .*/HostbasedAuthentication no/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
sudo sed -i 's/^#?LoginGraceTime .*/LoginGraceTime 60/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
sudo sed -i 's/^#?MaxStartups .*/MaxStartups 4/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
echo "Automatic configuration complete."
sudo sed -i 's/^#?LogLevel .*/LogLevel VERBOSE/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
echo "ClientAliveInterval 300" | sudo tee -a /etc/ssh/sshd_config
echo "ClientAliveCountMax 0" | sudo tee -a /etc/ssh/sshd_config
sudo sed -i 's/^#?StrictModes .*/StrictModes yes/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
clear
echo "Use iptables to try to prevent bruteforcing? [y/n]"
read -r iptable_ssh
if [[ $iptable_ssh == "y" || $iptable_ssh == "Y" ]]; then
iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 2223 -m state --state NEW -m recent --set --name ssh --rsource
iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 2223 -m state --state NEW -m recent ! --rcheck --seconds 60 --hitcount 4 --name ssh --rsource -j ACCEPT
echo "Done."
elif [[ $iptable_ssh == "n" || $iptable_ssh == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood, moving on."
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
echo "Use public/private keys for authentication instead of passwords? [y/n]"
read -r auth_private
if [[ $auth_private == "y" || $auth_private == "Y" ]]; then
sudo ssh-keygen -t rsa
clear
sudo chmod 700 ~/.ssh
sudo chmod 600 ~/.ssh/id_rsa
cat id_rsa.pub >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
sudo chmod 600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
restorecon -Rv ~/.ssh
sudo sed -i 's/^#?PasswordAuthentication .*/PasswordAuthentication no/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
elif [[ $auth_private == "n" || $auth_private == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood, moving on."
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
return 1
}
function sysctl_secure_config {
echo "kernel.sysrq = 0" | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf
echo "net.ipv4.conf.all.accept_source_route = 0" | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf
echo "net.ipv4.conf.all.accept_redirects = 0" | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf
echo "net.ipv4.conf.all.rp_filter = 1" | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf
echo "net.ipv4.conf.all.log_martians = 1" | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf
echo "net.ipv4.icmp_ignore_bogus_error_responses = 1" | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf
echo "net.ipv4.icmp_echo_ignore_all = 1" | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf
echo "net.ipv4.icmp_echo_ignore_broadcasts = 1" | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf
echo "net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies=1" | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf
clear
echo -en '\n'
echo "Disable IPv6? [y/n]"
echo -en '\n'
read -r ipv6_disable
if [[ $ipv6_disable == "y" || $ipv6_disable == "Y" ]]; then
echo "net.ipv6.conf.all.disable_ipv6 = 1" | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf
echo "net.ipv6.conf.default.disable_ipv6 = 1" | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf
echo "net.ipv6.conf.lo.disable_ipv6 = 1" | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf
echo "IPv6 disabled."
elif [[ $ipv6_disable == "n" || $ipv6_disable == "N" ]]; then
echo "Understood, skipping disabling IPv6."
else
echo "Error: bad input."
fi
return 1
}
if [ "$(id -u)" != "0" ]; then
echo "Please run this script as root. I promise I won't dd /dev/urandom into /dev/sda..."
exit
else
main
fi
'''
DON'T USE THIS
Go1dfish undelete link
unreddit undelete link
Author: CreeperTyE
1: root:admin 2: rsa:2048 3: *modulo.co*/*e*u*e-ftp*s*rvi*e-v*ftp*-linux*ht*l
Unknown links are censored to prevent spreading illicit content.
submitted by removalbot to removalbot [link] [comments]

MAME 0.222

MAME 0.222

MAME 0.222, the product of our May/June development cycle, is ready today, and it’s a very exciting release. There are lots of bug fixes, including some long-standing issues with classics like Bosconian and Gaplus, and missing pan/zoom effects in games on Seta hardware. Two more Nintendo LCD games are supported: the Panorama Screen version of Popeye, and the two-player Donkey Kong 3 Micro Vs. System. New versions of supported games include a review copy of DonPachi that allows the game to be paused for photography, and a version of the adult Qix game Gals Panic for the Taiwanese market.
Other advancements on the arcade side include audio circuitry emulation for 280-ZZZAP, and protection microcontroller emulation for Kick and Run and Captain Silver.
The GRiD Compass series were possibly the first rugged computers in the clamshell form factor, possibly best known for their use on NASA space shuttle missions in the 1980s. The initial model, the Compass 1101, is now usable in MAME. There are lots of improvements to the Tandy Color Computer drivers in this release, with better cartridge support being a theme. Acorn BBC series drivers now support Solidisk file system ROMs. Writing to IMD floppy images (popular for CP/M computers) is now supported, and a critical bug affecting writes to HFE disk images has been fixed. Software list additions include a collection of CDs for the SGI MIPS workstations.
There are several updates to Apple II emulation this month, including support for several accelerators, a new IWM floppy controller core, and support for using two memory cards simultaneously on the CFFA2. As usual, we’ve added the latest original software dumps and clean cracks to the software lists, including lots of educational titles.
Finally, the memory system has been optimised, yielding performance improvements in all emulated systems, you no longer need to avoid non-ASCII characters in paths when using the chdman tool, and jedutil supports more devices.
There were too many HyperScan RFID cards added to the software list to itemise them all here. You can read about all the updates in the whatsnew.txt file, or get the source and 64-bit Windows binary packages from the download page.

MAME Testers Bugs Fixed

New working machines

New working clones

Machines promoted to working

Clones promoted to working

New machines marked as NOT_WORKING

New clones marked as NOT_WORKING

New working software list additions

Software list items promoted to working

New NOT_WORKING software list additions

submitted by cuavas to emulation [link] [comments]

Raven Reviews: IxSHE Tell Part 1, The Mechanics of a Book.

TL;DR I review the novel without talking about the plot.
A FRIENDLY DISAGREEMENT
Recently I had a discussion with a stranger on a forum who was adamantly apposed to what he called "Harem Games" and novels that featured harem elements. To recount the whole conversation would take pages and wouldn't be entirely relevant to this review but i'd like to summarize two key points he expressed to me that informed his opinion. The first is that Japanese society, and even American society, is not supportive of a man having multiple partners. While I was able to get him to admit that recent years have seen a rise in polyamory in the United States he remained adamant that any form of harem was unrealistic for the culture. Secondly, he expressed an opinion that mechanically and from a game design perspective harem routs were a "copout" because they are very rarely the true route or most naturally feeling resolution to a story and only exist for people who quote "Feel bad for the girls they rejected even though most of the time that would be better for them and they're okay with it!" He would go on to say that Japanese views on romance are incompatible with harems because of their focus on "firsts" and "being someones only" but being someone who is not native Japanese myself and has only experienced their culture through works like the subject of this review I can't say I'm able to talk about that point much. I feel like VNs portray an idealized version of Japanese culture just like American media does and just like I wouldn't say someone who was seen every episode of any three american sitcoms knows American culture I would not say I know Japanese culture from reading VNs.
Out of respect for his privacy I'm not going to name him here but if by some chance you're reading this stranger I spoke to this review will serve as my response to the summery of your points. While I know you're aware I disagree with you, I want to provide a better example then simply listing novels I though were good as I did in our original discussion. As I am well aware however that providing my response like this, if it were to miraculously reach you, is somewhat unfair since you have no good platform to respond with outside of a comment below please feel free to DM me and I will gladly respond. This review will be addressed to a wider audience obviously but I think it will be easy to tell what parts I have drawn from the information you gave me.
"BEST HAIR" CHOICE STRUCTURE
IxSHE Tell is a recently translated romantic comedy about P-kun (Ninomiya Hajime) and his difficult choice between five girls who confess to him one after the other. That plot synopsis may have drawn up some negative connotations for you but I encourage you to judge this story on its own merits because I was also skeptical but pleasantly surprised with the quality of the work presented. The novel is split in three parts. A lengthy prologue that takes somewhere between an hour and two hours to read. A common route of about fifteen hours, and then individual romance paths for each heroine that are about three hours long apiece. This clocks the total novel read time at about thirty hours but I would imagine a fast reader could finish it in twenty if they choose to. My personal time to completion is skewed slightly longer as I'm a masochist who wouldn't feel satisfied without being certain I've seen every possible line of dialog but I can't imagine this novel taking more the forty or forty five hours for the slowest reader. While their are a number of gimmicks in this novel I will discuss below without the H-patch the game makes the bold choice to provide the player with only a single meaningful choice and thereby creates a unique atmosphere I can't say I've ever experienced before.
Anyone who has read more then one or two visual novels will know that commonly the narrative choices are less then open to a reader pursuing more then one heroine. I hesitate to say common structure punishes readers for choosing options favorable to more then one romance route but it certainly discourages it. To explain what I mean lets take a look at a few examples. Muv-Luv, specifically Muv-Luv Extra, has a difficult to unlock "Bad" ending where if the reader favors a specific heroine but fails to choose her options in one of a few specific scenes the game ends abruptly without satisfyingly concluding. Their is also a second "Bad" end which occurs only if the player makes two specific choices, both of which are little more then rejections of the branch path to romance routes. Effectively, failure to fully pursue one of the game's heroines results in the game ending in its second act, but paradoxically while the game has two dozen or so choices any combination of those options will result in a romance route and "good" end so long as the reader chooses the appropriate option at one of the deciding points. IMHHW by contrast has a failure route you can only trigger by selecting one specific option in one specific scene that is obviously the wrong choice and then locks you into a route shortly after. I actually think one of the most enjoyable jokes I can find in a VN is finding the path that lets you spend the least amount of time with a heroine but still puts you on her romance path, then watching as P-kun trips over himself to explain how he fell in love with her instead of the girl he spent most of the last week with. Unfortunately though I can rarely do this without failing out before the final act because of this exact type of choice structure.
Some novels are more subtle about this lack of choice. Katawa Shoujo comes to mind as even at its worse you do have SOME free will to jump ship to a different heroine mid act but the binary choice between Lilly and Shizune never sat well with me and Emi being a one choice lock is just disappointing. While not every novel is blatant enough to go the Muv-Luv route and literally name the heroines in the choices so its impossible to miss who you're siding with its a rare treat to find a novel that doesn't spell out which options are the "right" ones to some degree. This brings me back to IxST because the design choice to make only one choice truly relevant, which I would call a weakness in any other novel, but replacing "Best Hair" choices with a gold star reward system opens the narrative and allows for a more natural and less pressured experience.
REAL CHOICE
This section might not be entirely 100% necessary but I wanted to break down exactly why I think the mechanics of this VN are so revolutionary and vastly superior to the rest of the genre. Honestly, while I know it wouldn't fit every novel I think future VNs would benefit greatly from this example. So the common route in IxST is divided into 5 subsections the novel labels as "days" but are probably better thought of as plot beats. Each subsection allows the reader to assign up to ten "hearts" in any combination to the five girls pursuing P-kun and with one major exception allows this to happen at any time. In the words of the games tutorial paraphrased, if a girl does something you like you can reward her with a heart. You're under no obligation to hand out hearts and can ignore the system all together if you choose but regardless at the end of each plot event you are prompted to select a girl for an extra scene and are then moved to the next plot beat with a new allotment of hearts. At the end of the last subsection if you overwhelmingly favored one girl with hearts over the others P-kun falls for that girl and you have the option to accept her confession. But even at this point you have the option to change your mind and pick another girl who will give you one final pitch about why you should choose them before giving you yet ANOTHER chance to back out and commit to the girl you favored.
Maybe the weight of how much this changes the feel of reading a VN isn't clear so lets do a comparison. Muv-Luv Extra isn't a great novel, certainly not terrible but it's about as average as I could hope to find. Their is no other single VN to me that is as aggressively 5/10 as Muv-Luv Extra. Placing it beside IxST both games have a prologue introducing their respective flavors of P-kun and follow it with an intro movie. I know i'm vastly oversimplifying things as the prologues to these two stories are nothing alike but mechanically they have no difference so the important part is that when the common route starts the reader is mentally in the same place. In IxST the player is almost immediately presented with all the choice mechanic they will be interacting with for the next three or so hours of the novel in the form of the heart system. Muv-Luv by contrast spends its opening to the common route with one of the five heroins and less then half an hour into the experience presents the first choice which is a binary question of if you enjoyed yourself with her. Unless you are brand new to visual novels you will know immediately that Muv-Luv's choice should give you pause because without even letting you meet four of the five romance options you are already having to make a choice that you have no way of knowing the significance of. While not all novels do this it's not uncommon for a visual novel to soft lock out of a route when you don't get every choice for a heroine correct and so this small moment to a first time reader can feel needlessly stressful because choosing one option may lock you on one path for the narrative and the other may permanently lock you out of it without telling you either result for HOURS.
In roughly the same time a reader will make their way through IxST's first section of common route to the extra scene choice that same reader in Muv-Luv will likely have to make two additional choices if not more all of which are binary "Best Hair" choices encouraging the reader to pursue one of the five heroines hours before the common route ends. This almost makes the choices irrelevant as the reader is primed to select whichever option continues the path their on and discourages them from picking the option they would prefer over the option that is more likely to result in a "good" end. Now to be fair IxST does not communicate to the reader that who they pick for the extra scene is not a soft lock but even if we assume the reader is ignoring the hearts and has already selected which romance route they want to shoot for the hearts system tutorial screen and the extra scene tutorial are definitely geared toward the opposite priming. Every girl is available to be chosen no mater how few hearts you gave her and this ties neatly into the games presentation. The cross view system that temporarily takes away the hearts counters and allows the reader to experience short scenes with each girl further primes the reader to the idea that no matter their choice at this stage the narrative will continue without soft locking. To summarize Muv-Luv and its traditional use of choices makes its narrative feel like the choices exist as a quiz of "what would this girl like me to do?" IxST and its heart system feel like you are organically favoring the girl or girls you enjoy and presents everyone with an equal chance for you to grow attached to them.
THE PROBLEM WITH COMMON ROUTES
I have another review in the works explaining why I dislike the presentation of most common routes using IMHHW as an example but I'll summarize my points here so I can explain how much better IxST is at getting a reader to seriously consider all the heroines as potential options then a traditional visual novel. Everyone knows their are certain types of characters that feature heavily in visual novels and to an extent has their preferences. Class Representatives, lolis, little sisters etc are all common starting points for heroines. I personally tend to dislike Tsunderes and have a preference for childhood friends but that's just me. Common routes ideally should follow four basic rules but often fail to uphold them.
1.) The common route should introduce but NOT develop characters only important in one or two romance routes and should involve background characters as much as possible while developing the heroines.
2.) The common route should develop each heroine equally and if possible should provide them with as close to equal screen time as feasible.
3.) The common route should have a reason for existing outside of developing characters and this reason should not be resolved before the romance routes begin unless those routes have their own conflict.
4.) The common route should have just as many CGs as the individual romance routes if not more and showcase each heroine evenly in them.
I came up with these rules because the entire reason a common route exists is to allow the reader to familiarize themselves with the world and characters and specifically the heroines. If it fails to accomplish that then what was the point of having it? IMHHW happens to fail at ALL of these rules but that's a topic for another day. Let me know in the comments if you're interested in that review and I'll push it up the list. However before I explain why IxST does so well by following these guidelines let me explain my reasoning for each.
Rule one recognizes that visual novels need characters other then the protagonist and heroines to feel believable, otherwise the world feels empty and flat. These characters come in three flavors. Background, Side, and Spriteless. Background characters are things like the protagonists best friend or their teacher, definitely important people with a role in the narrative but not romance options. Ideally background characters should be introduced in the prologue to establish their personality and due to their development typically remaining static involved as much as possible with the character in the common route so that by the time the romance routes are reached they can serve their narrative purpose without taking away from the heroine. We should know everything important about them before the half way mark so they can be used and referenced easily as needed. A perfect example is Mikoto in Muv-Luv Extra, who is introduced about a quarter of the way through the game and has basically finished his development by the half way point. Side characters are the opposite, and should be developed in romance routes after being introduced in the common route. A good example here is if a heroine has a little sister, although not every little sister character is like this in general this example works. Ideally, the reader should know the heroine has a little sister and be introduced to her sprite but this is only to allow her to be expanded on in the romance route later so that each run of the game feels unique. Just like in real life growing closer to people means your circle of friends shifts and its more interesting to a reader to have to work to know every character in the game then to always have that information from the beginning. The last category of Spriteless are small time or single use characters that well, don't have a sprite. I might come back in a future review and talk about this group but they don't bear much relevance to the current topic so I'm going to move on.
The second rule is pretty self explanatory but to be thorough one of the greatest sins a common route can commit is focusing on one character over the others. Yes, I am aware that some novels have "true" ends that are meant to advance a larger story. Yes, I am also aware that in real life it is very unlikely people you only see at school or work or whatever will have an equal amount of exposure to you as people you've been friends with for years or who you have class with. None of those things matter in a novel. The author has the ability to portray each character evenly even if the protagonist does not have an even amount of interaction with each character. The thing about real life and realism is that life is often incredibly boring. I have yet to see a novel that forced me to sit through every class period the protagonist experienced, because that would be excruciating. I also don't have to wait six hours for the protagonist to wake up after going to sleep nor witness every bite of breakfast every day. This isn't a question of what is realistic this is a question of allowing the reader to get a decent understanding of the characters. This doesn't always mean they are given literally to the second the same amount of dialogue and screen time, but a good common route will let each heroine have an equal time to shine without favoring any of them.
The third rule is the one I most often see broken and as such has become my personal most important of the four. I am far more willing to forgive a novel that can follow this rule, even if it isn't for every run, then i am a novel that can not. I have no problems with slice of life narratives. It can sometimes be incredibly cathartic to just drop into the shoes of someone else and pretend to be them for a day. But stories do not exist without conflict and no, choosing which girl you like is not sufficient conflict for the story unless the protagonist is just as concerned about it as you are. Ideally, a novel's conflict should involve all the characters though that's rather difficult so settling for just the protagonist and heroins is fine. The conflict should also have enough leeway to be solved in multiple ways so that each heroines route can provide their own solution. How a heroine uniquely resolves conflict or avoids it is a huge opportunity to squander by ignoring the inclusion of a story.
The fourth rule is most concerned with creating a balanced feeling to the novel and has less to do with the common route specifically then it does with the novel as a whole but I tend to include it here because well, it just makes since. Obviously the romance routes are going to have a higher density of CGs then the common route. If you include extra scenes and optional scenes as part of a heroine's run rather then common route content that rule is doubly true. However this doesn't mean that the common route is totally devoid of CGs because that is obviously not the case. Most VNs use the prologue as an excuse to give each heroine an opening CG but the common route is where the majority of group shots and for lack of a better term "casual" scenes allow the artists to showcase each heroine outside of their static sprites. If you've read the other rules explanations you may have noticed that I haven't elaborated on the notion that the common route's main goal is to make the heroine's interesting to the reader and I've saved that point for this moment because outside of their sprites, which are a vital part of a heroine's ability to express themselves, CGs are the most important facet to letting these characters "breath." If you've ever listened to the dialogue in a visual novel without looking at the screen (Admittedly you'd have to know at least a bit of Japanese to do this but lets just assume you have the bare minimum understanding of what the characters are saying.) its actually really hard to distinguish each heroine's personality purely off the words they say. Maybe we don't often think about it but this genre is not just tied to its visual element it is at this point utterly undivorcable from it because it has come to rely on tropes and ideas that repeat themselves so often they tend to blur. How many visual novels have heroines that are constantly getting "shy" or "flustered?" How many use the same literal words like Segoi, Baka, Hentii, to describe things? Language is both endlessly expressive and limiting and even the best VNs, perhaps ESPECIALLY the best, would make TERRIBLE novels if they were printed as is in the form of a paperback. The entire reason for CGs even existing is to play off established tropes and the story to give the reader a snapshot of why the moment they are currently reading is significant and unique, and in a romance novel that more often then not translates to why the heroine is significant and unique. Neglecting this visual element therefore is a huge disservice to the the reader.
MERGING THE IDEAS
Having said all that IxST uses its unique choice system to facilitate a change in the reader's approach to reading and thus makes itself vastly more enjoyable. This novel could have so easily been nothing more then a self insert fantasy about being pursued by multiple women but because it encourages you to engage with every line of dialogue and spread your focus between all of the characters the story feels fresh and different. The last major choice mechanic I have to mention in IxST, the cross view system, is the epitome of this because while I do have problems with some of the scenes I'll talk about in part 2 of this review the fact it's the only time you can't access the hearts menu was a stroke of genius.
Cross view occurrences are once per subsection of the common route and present you with six to nine short scenes involving characters not in P-kun's immediate vicinity talking about or thinking about him. Their is always one scene for each of the heroines but most of the background characters get one each go around as well as usually a scene from the perspective of a random nameless classmate. These scenes are 100% optional but choosing not to read them is a real disservice because letting yourself get into the mindset of the heroins and characters really fleshes out their actions and puts context to the events that happen toward the end of each subsection. I think you'd really miss out if you skipped them. What elevates them for me though is the fact that since you can't access the hearts menu you're forced to think about the scenes for a longer period of time before immediately rewarding the heroines with a heart. By the time you get the menu back you may feel compelled to hand out two or three of your ten points and that choice is a really good moment to sit and consider how you actually feel about each of the characters. If you haven't been interested in one of the girls but their inner thoughts persuaded you they mean well or vise versa then these moments of returned choice can really shake up who you favor for the eventual act three. It feels like i'm praising this game for taking away my options during these sections, because I am, but that's only because you have such freedom everywhere else you become hyper aware and observant when it's scaled back.
Going back to the common route rules above this altered mindset falls perfectly in line with fulfilling those goals. Because the reader also cross views background characters to get their perspective they get to relegate development in the main story away from interactions with the protagonist and still fulfill the requirement they be showcased. Because each heroine always has a cross fade section each of them gets a roughly equal amount of time to win over a reader and because they have this extra time they can have more interesting personal conflicts that carry over to their romance routes while the main plot focuses on P-kun's struggles.
A RESPONSE TO A DIFFERENT POINT
I want to wrap up this first part of my review by addressing why I think "harem" games are uniquely suited to have better, more developed experiences then equal surface quality novels. IxST would not have worked as a story if the protagonist had been the one to confess to the heroines. I don't mean it would have just been different I mean the structure of this game and what made it so interesting and special would have been worthless if that one detail were changed. The choice system of IxST only works because all options are treated equally and never pull the reader too far in one direction. The mindset of someone who is balancing a relationship with five people is fundamentally different from pursuing one out of five. I can't make it any clearer then that, reading this VN is just fundamentally different because the atmosphere is different.
Am I saying ALL harem games are like this? Absolutely not. Especially those that have the harem route as an option but clearly do not focus on it or worse work like Harem Party where harem means nothing more then the Echii scenes keep changing girls. But I am saying its easier to break out of the mindset visual novels often fall into where you can only pursue one girl at a time and regardless of what the context of the situation is you should always pick the option that girl will like or be punished for it. The quote that really stuck with me from my conversation referenced in the intro above was "I can never get invested in the characters because they treat everyone the same."
I didn't say it at the time but isn't that a good thing? Do you WANT the characters to be inherently unequal? Everyone has their kinks and this is a kinky kinky genre you're allowed to pick favorites based upon what you like but doesn't it stand to reason that if you're reading a novel and one character is favored over another that the person who likes that unfavored character is going to wish they had been treated more equally? That's to say nothing about the fact that every novel is someones first and if a brand new VN reader gets hold of this story don't you want them to have a fair representation of the different character types? Isn't the entire point of having options to be able to explore them unbiased? If you really wanted to pursue just one type of character then their are dozens of novels with only one heroine, admittedly far less then their are with several choices but it's not like they don't exist! Now if the novel is poorly written and the characters have to all share two or three personality traits then yeah fine you have a point there but that's not the harems fault that's just a bad novel in general.
I can't say I'm a "fan" of harem VNs, I think I own maybe five total that could even plausibly count out of a sizable collection but I can't deny that problems I constantly complain about in other VNs are at worse absent in the sub-genre and at worst have active solutions like in IxST that I feel NEED to be praised. I don't feel comfortable writing off these stories because "One man can't possibly satisfy five girls." His words not mine.
WHY I CHOOSE TO SPLIT THIS REVIEW
Well for starters i'm already going far over what I think is reasonable for a single post and haven't even TOUCHED on the actual game's story but more importantly I think my opinion on the VN itself and the mechanics of the game are two separate things. I'll be clear and say I do like IxST, in fact it might crack my top 15, but I have a lot more to say about its narrative then I do about this topic so I decided it would be best to segregate the two ideas. Next week I'll be posting my views on the story, characters, music, art, and my overall opinion with a few extras thrown in. I expect it will end up being even longer then part 1 so be prepared for that I guess. I'm interested to see which of these two parts do better overall so if you liked what you read consider showing some support. I'll consider your updoot to be a substitute for a heart. This is my fourth review in this series so I'm still full of ideas but if these longer reviews do well I might consider moving to a slower release schedule to be sure I can be more detailed. Let me know what you think and if you agree with my points or the stranger I argued against. Stay well everyone!
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[The Scuu Paradox] - Chapter 18

At the Beginning
Previously on The Scuu Paradox…
  The smell of burning wood was all I could focus on. The fires had long died out, making it difficult to see in the darkness; despite all other modifications, Kridib’s eyes weren’t able to see overly well in the dark. Every five minutes, Radiance would send an infrared scan of the colony to help him and his team with their advancement. Despite all that help and the four missile strikes, progress was minimal. Of the forty-seven people sent to the planet, eleven had been killed and five more severely wounded, rendering them useless in battle. From what I could see, Rigel’s forces had clustered in specific points of the colony, giving up the rest: a sensible strategy that had allowed them to ambush three of our teams while suffering negligible losses themselves. As things stood, the enemy forces had positioned themselves in two areas of the colony. Both spots encircled a specific building—mine and the captain’s locations—making further missile strikes impossible.
  Update? Kridib asked me through the mind link.
  Nothing, I replied. Rigel had left shortly after our last chat, taking the third-contact rods with him. Since then, I had remained safely isolated in the room and completely alone. Half of them have probably gone to sleep.
  Tell me if anything changes. Kribib looked up. A dozen sats were visible in the night sky. We’ll be making another go soon.
  I don’t think that’s a good idea.
  So far, Kridib had made four attempts to reach me, all of them unsuccessful. His approach, though chaotic at best, had managed to keep him alive. There had been a close call during which his left arm had been grazed by a bullet, though that time the man hadn’t frozen.
  Everyone has to sleep, Kridib said, heading back into one of the buildings that had been transformed into a ground base of operations. I’ll go first.
  Must I wake you? I asked.
  No. With that, the link was severed.
  To a degree, I was thankful, though not too much. Forcing whatever strength I had, I moved my head to look around the room as much as I was able. Nothing had changed in the last four hours, but at least it let me do something. The last time I felt remotely similar was when I’d had my sensor systems knocked out, though even then I was able to use my shuttle AIs to paint me a picture. Here, I was completely helpless and, to a vast degree, blind.
  “Do I get any water?” I asked as loudly as my lungs would let me.
  There was no reason to expect an answer. Even if anyone was awake on the lower floors, they would be on lookout duty. Saying it out loud, though, made me feel better for some reason. To my surprise, the door to the room opened.
  “Thought you were above those things.” Rigel walked in slowly. Even with my lack of focus, I could see that he had changed clothes. The colours were dark enough to be considered a uniform, although I couldn’t make out any other details. “You can’t swallow, remember?”
  “My mouth feels dry,” I explained.
  “Too bad.” Despite my poor vision, I could hear him smile as he said that.
  Walking slowly, he made his way to the stool near me and sat down. From this distance, I could see him taking something from his front pocket. In the dim light, it was impossible to tell what exactly.
  “Still having problems focusing?” Rigel asked.
  “Yes.” There was no point in lying.
  “Pity. Agora works well on organic tissue. Not on techno-mongrels,” he added with a laugh. “If you weren’t one, you’d be dead. There’s a win for you.”
  And you’re not making any sense, I thought.
  “Nice murder troops you got out there. Quick and efficient. A few years ago, the locals would’ve had fun pulling their wings off. Time leaves its mark.” Rigel flicked the object. It let out a peculiar metallic sound. “No action, no combat sims, just the local pests that roam the planet. Those were brought here too, did you know?”
  “I heard about it.”
  “Another brilliant idea from the bureaucracy. Create a full ecosystem. Plants, critters, predators... all must be present and carefully maintained. We tried killing them off once. Those were the days. Three colonies setting out, killing everything in sight until the orbital station stopped sending food.” There was a slight pause. “And you know the best part?” Rigel leaned towards me. “None of that happened.”
  If I could have pulled back, I would have. There was no way of knowing if these were insane rantings or if he was referring to a dark op coverup. Considering he was from the Salvage Authorities, either was possible, and both options were equally undesirable.
  “I went through your data, Elcy.” Rigel rubbed his hands. “You know things you shouldn’t.”
  “Because of my past, I’ve been placed on special assignments,” I said. Technically it was true, though we both knew it didn’t explain away the inconsistencies.
  “You knew about the third-contact artifacts before. You’ve operated them before.” He moved his hand closer to my face. I felt a cold metallic surface touch my cheek. “You’re searching for something. Something that you’re not supposed to find.” He moved the object away from my face. “Here’s my offer. You answer some of my questions, and I’ll answer some of yours.”
  “That’s one way to get court-martialed.” Not to mention there was no guarantee my self-destruct chip wouldn’t go off at any point.
  “Please don’t give me the line that the fleet is going through all that trouble just to rescue you. If you were that valuable, you’d never have been sent to this hell in the first place.” Rigel stood up. “What are the odds of the fleet extracting you in one piece? Two percent?”
  “Point-seven-three-nine,” I corrected. Frankly, I was surprised they were going through all the trouble. “Give or take.”
  “Less than one percent,” Rigel snorted. “It’s your call. You have three hours to make it. Before I leave you, here’s a freebie. This planet, it isn’t some randomly colonized world in ‘unexplored space.’ We’re in the buffer zone—the border between the Scuu and human space. Think about that.” He made his way to the door. Reaching it, he stopped and turned around. “Oh, and we’re constantly being monitored.”
 
  Gamma-Ligata, Cassandrian Front—615.11 A.E. (Age of Expansion)
    The third wave of shuttles approached my forward left hangar one by one. The instant they came within three hundred meters, I was handed over direct control of the AIs. As with the previous batches, the first thing I did was to have a set of isolated subroutines flash the memory and purge the entire operating system. That done, I sent out a mini-sat to latch onto and assume control of the shuttles. It was a slow and tedious process, but necessary considering the circumstances.
  “How are things?” Wilco asked from the bridge. Augustus had gathered most of his officers to a private meeting in his quarters, leaving Wilco in command. This wasn’t the first time it had happened, but each time it did, it felt strange.
  “Everything’s going as planned,” I said, as the first shuttle went under my control.
  A quick internal scan revealed that there were sixty-two people aboard, all cuffed and tagged. All of them were tagged as infected, and, to my surprise, none of them were sedated. The instructions were to take them in and monitor their actions at all times, and only to engage if they threatened the ship. Normally, I’d be confident that Augustus knew what was going on. With everything we’d gone through since I’d joined the front, I didn’t think there was anything in the galaxy that could surprise him. I was wrong.
  Finishing my internal check of the shuttle, I directed it to the outer hangar doors and had it dock. The passengers—all of their identities classified—waited till I covered the walls with disembark notifications, then stood up and quietly proceeded to get off, in orderly fashion. I could tell by Wilco’s expression that he found it unnerving.
  “A thousand and eighty-two passengers on board,” I said on the bridge and in the captain’s quarters. The moment the last person set foot in the hangar, I would eject the shuttle from my hangar-bay, self-destruct it, and proceed with the next.
  Delegating the task to my isolated subroutines, I reviewed the instructions I had received. The proper ident protocols and authorisations had been used, ensuring that I would do as instructed without asking questions. An emergency transmission from an unidentifiable ship had led me here. I knew nothing about the ship’s name or specifics, and I wasn’t allowed to get close enough to get a visual. The only things I was allowed to see were its shuttles and mass. Everything else was open to interpretation.
  “Have any of them said anything?” Wilco asked.
  “No.” I displayed images of the hangar bay and the corresponding corridors surrounding it. As part of my instructions, the entire section was sealed off and quarantined. “They’re eating.” They also appeared to be healthy, although the instructions stressed no one was to come into contact with them under any circumstances. “I’ve received no indication of how long we’re to keep them. Did the captain get an indication?”
  “No,” Wilco said in his usual somber voice. “Is everything sealed off?”
  “Yes.” I rechecked. “No way in or out without captain’s approval.”
  “Set a buffer zone.” The man went on. “No one goes in or out without my permission.”
  “If you say so.” It wasn’t difficult. The area in question had been made empty to accommodate the quarantined arrivals, though it seemed a bit too much. “Want me to put sentinels?”
  “No. We don’t have to hurt anyone, just hold them.” He slinked down in his chair. “They’re the Med boys’ toys. We don’t get to play with them.”
  Med boys… Only Wilco referred to the Medical Core in such fashion. As most organisations, they were part of the fleet, yet their specific area of expertise gave them as much authority as the Salvage Authorities and the BICEFI combined. As a ship, I knew fairly little about them: they had the power to impose quarantines and cordon off entire planets if they wished. They were also the only organisation with the power to hold an active captain in check. Possibly, that was the reason Augustus didn’t get along with any of his medical officers. According to the public files, the Med Core had created the inner-body nanites and were instrumental in getting humans into space. There were also whispers that they were involved in creating the first ship-cores, although I found that unlikely. Even so, they had more authority than anyone aboard. Even on the front, we had no option but to obey.
  “It won’t be practical heading into war with them,” I said as the second shuttle entered the hangar bay.
  “Not our call. We’re to hold them until a Med ship picks them up,” Wilco sighed. “And monitor everything they do.”
  “How is that different from anyone else aboard?” I ventured a chuckle.
  “You don’t need to know,” the lieutenant said darkly.
  Another thing about Wilco was that he had the uncanny ability to make any topic of conversation dark. I ran a few simulations testing various responses, then decided not to respond further. In the best-case scenario, there was a twenty-seven percent chance he found my reaction funny.
  “Elcy.” Augustus granted me sensor access to the captain’s quarters. “What’s the ETA on the cattle?”
  “The passengers will be all aboard in seven minutes, captain.” A decade of attempts to mellow his behaviour had brought me no results. “Five, if you need me off in a rush.”
  “Get it done in five,” he barked. “We’ve got new orders. We’re joining a purge fleet. Go on yellow. Get the grunts prepped.”
  “Aye, sir.” I issued the order to everyone aboard. Seconds later, ground troop officers and sergeants were shouting their troops into order. “What about the passengers, sir? Won’t combat expose them to unnecessary danger?”
  “There’s no unnecessary danger,” Augustus barked again. The rest of the command staff had already started leaving the room. Their expressions ranged from mild annoyance to disapproval. Whatever discussions had taken place, they must have been unpleasant and one-sided. “Monitor them at all times and don’t interact until I say so.”
  “Understood.”
  It sounded like another escort mission, and I didn’t like escort missions. Normally, it would just be troop detachments or—if we were very unlucky—some mid-level bureaucrat or admiral’s aid sent to do a front-line inspection. Transporting quarantined personnel wasn’t in my usual purview, although if it had been, I’d never know.
  “What’s the course of treatment they must undergo?” I asked.
  “No treatment,” Augustus grumbled. “That’s for the Meds to figure out.”
  “All passengers are tagged as infected. Regulations require we provide immediate medical attention.” I felt my words sound hollow. If Augustus had the authority to provide such, he would have told me already. The only thing I was left was to go through the motions, expecting to receive the obvious denial.
  “Just monitor them, Elcy! That’s what we’ve been told. And whatever happens, don’t interfere.”
 
  Just monitor them.
  I had spent three months and thirty-nine hours monitoring the passengers onboard. Through battles and repairs, every single action had been carefully observed, recorded, and stored on external data storage. For the most part, nothing happened. The people would live boring, perfectly organised lives, almost as if they knew they were being watched. There were no scuffles, few arguments, and only one incident resulting in injuries when a Cassandrian fighter managed to slip through my external defences and fire a salvo at the hangar bay. Their health condition also seemed no different than when they had come aboard. I had dedicated a dozen subroutines to collect any potential symptoms in an effort to determine the type of disease they had, but had come to no conclusion. Then, one day, they were all gone. I had no memory of the Medical ship that had taken them, or where that had happened. The only thing I was certain about was the time—precisely two thousand, one hundred and ninety-nine hours since the last of them had come aboard. Everything else remained restricted.
  Looks like there’s always someone monitoring someone, Sev. If Rigel was to be believed someone was monitoring the planet. The question was who.
  Seconds turned to minutes, then hours. Hundreds of times, I considered looking into my restricted memories for information regarding the third-contact artifacts or the events in gamma-Ligata, and each time I found a reason not to. As Rigel had said, the chance of me getting off the planet alive was less than one percent, but the knowledge of the existence of the possibility kept me acting. And then there was Rigel’s offer…
  Rad, are you monitoring me? I asked, attempting to latch on to any open communication protocols. A connection was established, but instead of linking to Radiance, I found myself connecting back to Kridib’s mind. On cue, an info burst from Radiance followed, giving the latest scan. This time, I could see the location of our forces. The total number had increased to seventy-four, Kridib included. Nearly eight percent were gathered close to the captain’s expected location. Kridib and five more were closer to me.
  Get ready, Kridib said. Moments later, bursts of gunfire echoed in the distance; they were going for the captain first.
  The mission had begun. From here on, I could see several potential outcomes. In all of them, there was a high probability that Rigel attempted to make a deal.
  When I was a ship, Augustus had taught me one key thing when it came to missions: regardless of the depth of predictions and the computing power at their disposal, humans always boiled down a situation to a simple binary choice. Rigel wanted something from me and had invested too much to let his chance slip. Before the outcome of Kridib’s rescue mission, Rigel would come here to get an answer to his proposal. All I had to do was wait.
  As I lay, I watched Kridib run through the darkness towards my location. Unlike before, he was wearing night vision goggles, letting him make out his surroundings better.
  No thermal? I asked as Kridib made his way through the streets. The smell of burned vegetation could still be felt.
  That’s what you’re for.
  Not a reply to be thrilled about, but one to be expected. Cross-referencing Radiance’s latest scan, I started analysing every frame of Kridib’s stream. The first few minutes passed without incident. Judging by the intensified background gunfire, the locals were more focused on keeping Renaan isolated than stopping Kridib. Twenty-eight seconds, later the first shot sounded.
  Sniper! I shouted straight in Kridib’s mind.
  “Cover fire!” he shouted, rushing for cover.
  Watch out for a cross, I warned.
  The shooting intensified. Based on the area scan, the group was a few hundred meters away. One strong push and they’d be here. That said, I knew that the building was guarded by more than seven people. If I were in Rigel’s place, I would have dedicated at least three dozen.
  Concentrated fire focused on the second floor of a building, blowing off the entire wall. There was a brief scream before a rocket flew into the spot, hollowing the entire structure with a blast.
  Heavy weapons? I asked Kridib. I didn’t think Radiance’s captain would resort to such firepower, considering third-contact artifacts were involved; one direct hit, and the entire colony might well end up a smouldering crater, not to mention the potential communication repercussions. Maybe there was truth in Rigel’s statement that Flight Commander Nitel was getting desperate.
  As I was following Kridib’s advancement outside, the door opened once more—as predicted, Rigel had returned. He was wearing the same set of clothes as three hours ago. I found it puzzling that I couldn’t spot any semblance of a weapon on him.
  “Your masters have gotten desperate,” the man said in suspiciously calm fashion. “Looks like they’ve sent everything they had to get Renaan.” He walked up to me, then leaned over. “And just a handful to get you.”
  “Are they winning?” I tried to smile.
  “Beats me.” Rigel didn’t seem bothered. “You thought about my offer?”
  “I did. And I don’t think accepting would be a good deal. If I wait for them to rescue the captain, your bargaining power ends.”
  “Oh?” The man chuckled.
  “There’s nothing else the fleet would be willing to trade.” Except potentially the pyramid artifact. Even then, I didn’t see them sacrificing the Gregorius. “Once the captain boards a shuttle, it’s over.”
  A person of Kridib’s squad fell as they were approaching my building. I heard the unmistakable sound of bullets piercing armor, then silence. That was the thing about sound suppressors: one could get killed, and there still wouldn’t be any sound of one hitting the ground. I wanted to turn around and see what had happened, potentially to help. There was a seven-point-three chance that the wound wasn’t fatal. Kridib kept on moving forwards. That’s what made him a ground trooper… it also caused me pain.
  “What if I kill Renaan?” Rigel mused. “I won’t lose much. Everyone down here’s dead anyway. Someone in the fleet has gone through a lot of shit to get Renaan back. They’d lose a hell of a lot more.”
  “What if they save the captain?” I countered. “Either way, we’ll soon find out, and you’ll have no offer.”
  “Quantum paradox logic?” Rigel sounded surprised. “Strange hearing that from you, missy. I’ll have to skim your file once I’m out of here.” He paused for a moment, then dragged the nearby stool over—making a deliberate sound—and sat down. “Truth is, once the moment ends, we both lose our chance. Are you okay with that?”
  Why are you so confident? I wondered. Even if I were to agree, he wouldn’t be able to get much from me in the next ten minutes, even less if Kridib managed to reach my room. His squad had already made its way to the building proper, facing less than expected resistance. From what I was able to see, there were two snipers left on the upper floors and two machine-gunners on the first. All auxiliary positions on the nearby buildings seemed to have dealt with, although there was no sign of Ogum.
  “You’ve dealt with Salvage before, I can tell,” Rigel pressed on. “You won’t get another chance like this.”
  The old man’s with me in the basement, I told Kridib. No guards in the room. He’s ex-Salvage Authorities. Take him, and the mission is over. Saying that hurt slightly. Despite being the enemy, and a threat to the war effort, he remained human.
  “Then I guess I’ll never know.” As I spoke, I saw Kridib charge at the building. As before, there was nothing fancy about it, just determination and insanity. Several bullets flew so close to him I could hear them, but this time none of them hit. “Your bargaining window is over. No deal.”
  Kridib emptied his sidearm at the door in front of him, then rushed in. I could see no guards inside, just a set of hastily built staircases. Whatever the original purpose of the building was, it had been transformed into a field center at some point—likely during a previous escape attempt. Probably a group similar to ours had made it their temporary base, then left it as it was once they had completed their mission. No wonder Rigel had had me transported there. Kridib didn’t waste time making parallels, instead drawing his second sidearm and rushing down.
  At least two floors down, I said. I’m not hearing any of the gunfire.
  Is he armed? Kridib asked.
  Unsure. Not that I can tell. There are artifacts, though.
  “Such a teacher’s pet.” Rigel sighed after a long silence. “In the end, you’re nothing but a ship.” He stood up.
  He’s standing directly from the door, I said to Kridib. Seven degrees from center. Small frame, average height.
  Kridib fired three shots. Three bullets drilled through the alloy surface. Half a second later, Kridib followed kicking the door in.
  “Just one small thing.” Rigel took a tube-shaped object from his vest pocket.
  Meanwhile, I was staring at an empty room from Kridib’s eyes. It was at least three times smaller than the one I was in, bare and completely deserted. There was no Rigel, no me, no equipment, just a single metallic cube the size of my fingernail placed neatly on the floor.
  “Renaan was never the target.” The old man bent down and injected something in my neck. A new cascade of connection requests followed. “You are.”
—-
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