speed equipment

Improv D&D

So every now and then my group does an improv d&d night. No one prepares anything and the night tends to go something like this:

1. Start character sheet by filling out Name, Class, Race and Basic Stats (STR, DEX, CON etc) using basic build (18,16,12,10,10,8) then pass the character sheet to your left.

2. Fill out skill mods by basic stats and choose 4 to train (+5). Add in Armour, Speed, HP, initiative & equipment. Pass sheet to your left.

3. Fill out personality traits, 2 feats, 3 at-will powers, 1 daily.

3b. OPTIONAL draw your character.

4. Now shuffle the character sheets together and pick the first DM. Hand out the character sheets at random.

5. Play for 20 minutes with the first DM, then all roles go to your right. So the person to the right is now DM and the characters all shift around.

6. Continue until everyone is too tired from laughing.

We tend to think that the sillier the better for this but it’s best when you can manage to bring in elements from all the DMs before you.

I’ve found it’s one of the easiest and most fun ways to get players who are scared to start DMing into trying whole DM God-complex thing.

6

kids + water + camera gets a taste of suho’s wrath

vimeo

The flat top of South Africa’s Table Mountain produces a very interesting version of a marine layer/lenticular cloud nicknamed the “Table Cloth”. Take a look.

Time-lapse video featuring Table Mountain in Cape-Town, South Africa.

The mountain has a level plateau approximately 3km from side to side. Elevation is roughly 3,563ft above sea level.

The flat top of the mountain is often covered by orographic clouds, formed when a south-easterly wind is directed up the mountain’s slopes into colder air, where the moisture condenses to form the so-called “table cloth” of cloud.

Keep reading

2

Ford Unleashes Line-Lock on Mustang EcoBoost

More rubber meets the road later this year when Ford expands the availability of electronic line-lock on 2018 Mustang. The track-exclusive feature – previously available only on V8-powered Mustang GT – will be standard on all pony cars, including those equipped with 2.3-liter EcoBoost engines. Available with the 10-speed SelectShift automatic or 6-speed manual transmission.

On models equipped with an available 12-inch digital instrument display, drivers will see a video-game-like animation of a spinning alloy wheel kicking up a cloud of smoke to indicate when the electronic line-lock feature is activated.

Electronic line-lock is traditionally used by drag racers ahead of the starting line to heat up the tire rubber for improved traction when the start light goes green. The feature leverages state-of-the-art software technology that also allows amateur race car drivers, particularly those competing in bracket racing, to achieve more consistent performance times.

Using steering wheel-mounted thumb switches, a driver toggles through a menu on the instrument cluster to activate electronic line-lock. Once engaged, the system builds pressure on the front brake calipers. Another button press holds the pressure for up to 15 seconds, allowing the driver to hit the throttle and spin the rear wheels while the car stays in place.

camd18  asked:

Hey guys, I found your blog and love what you're doing!!! I'm super interested in challenging your gym leaders but I've never played Pokemon for the IVs and such I think I need to level some more before I challenge you guys but if you could give me some more information about what exactly I have to do that'd be awesome. Thanks guys

Hi! Thank you for showing interest in the Poke-League~ We’re happy to offer you, and anyone else, the information needed to begin understanding and battling on a competitive level. Below is some streamlined information with links to more in-depth explanations on the various points of competitive battling. We hope this information helps you and others to better understand what it means to raise competitive Pokemon and we look forward to your future challenger applications!

What is competitive Pokemon battling, and how does it differ from what I’ve been doing all this time?

Competitive Pokemon battling refers to the combined knowledge of Base Stats, IV Breeding, Natures, Abilities, EV Training, Competitive Movesets, and Synergy that are applied when battling against other players in official tournaments, or leagues such as this.

It’s different from what is known as “metagame” battling (Metagame referring to challenges faced by the player through the game’s AI, not Player vs Player interaction) in the way that, unlike competitive battling, you only really need high-level Pokemon and a bunch of powerful moves to win.

Leveling does not matter in a competitive battle setting UNLESS you are playing Flat-Rules or No Restrictions. The game automatically bumps up your Pokemon to Lv.50 or scales them back to Lv.50 when battling against another player in a setting that is not Flat-Rules (Which allows Pokemon under, but not above, Lv.50) or No Restrictions (Which uses whatever levels your Pokemon are at). Flat Rules can be used by Gym Leaders and Elite Four of the Poke-League, but No Restrictions is never used. As such, it is recommended that all of your Pokemon are at or above Lv.50.

What are Base Stats?

Base Stats are what tell you a Pokemon’s most useful function in battle. Their values can range from 1 to 255 and give you a strong idea of how that Pokemon should be utilized. Base stats cannot be changed and are the same across all Pokemon of the same species. That means that no matter how many Umbreon you have, they will all inevitably have higher Defense and Sp. Defense than Attack and Sp. Attack.

Base stats are not, however, the end-all for a Pokemon’s potential. IVs, EVs, and Nature all also have a role to play.

Serebii offers a full breakdown of each individual Pokemon’s Base Stats on their PokeDex pages.

What is IV Breeding, and why is it important?

IV Breeding is a process to ensure your Pokemon hatch from their Eggs with the perfect IVs. What are IVs? Well, IV stands for Individual Value, and it refers to a randomly generated number between 0 and 31 that is applied to all your Pokemon’s stats when you either A) Receive an Egg from the Daycare Man/Lad, B) catch a wild Pokemon, or C) Receive a Pokemon as a gift (Via NPC or other means, like the Beldum at Steven’s House).

IVs are important because those random values are precious points that are added to your Pokemon’s stats as they level up. You won’t notice a big difference in-game unless your Pokemon is at Lv.50 or Lv.100, which is why they matter for competitive battling. Those 31 points can make or break a Pokemon and, in turn, make or break your chances of winning.

Example: You and your opponent both send out Salamence. Your Salamence moves first and uses Dragon Claw on the opposing Salamence, reducing it to half health. Your opponent’s Salamence also uses Dragon Claw, but KO’s your Salamence. Now, the reason for this is likely that your own Salamence had lower Defense and HP IVs while the opposing Salamence likely had higher Defense, HP, and Attack IVs.

To determine a Pokemon’s IVs, you can check with the Ace Trainer NPC in the Pokemon Center at the Battle Resort in ORAS or, alternatively, the Ace Trainer NPC in Kiloude City’s Pokemon Center in XY. Here is a link to help decipher the NPC’s messages about your Pokemon’s stats.

Breeding IVs can be a rather lengthy process without the right tools. IVs are passed on to the child Pokemon from their parent Pokemon at random. Normally, only 3 IVs are passed on from the parents while the others are randomly generated. Having one of the parent Pokemon hold a Destiny Knot ensures that 5 IVs are passed down instead of three. Having one of the parent Pokemon hold a “Power” item (Power Anklet/Bracer/Lens/etc) will ensure that that specific stat’s IV is passed down from the parent to the child, but is still only one of 5 IVs passed down if used in tandem with the Destiny Knot.

Here is a link to a comprehensive IV breeding guide to help you get started.

What are Natures and why do they matter?

Natures have been in Pokemon since Gen 3 and are an indicator of how your Pokemon’s stats will grow. There are 25 different Natures with five (Hardy, Quirky, Serious, Bashful, and Docile) that have no effect on your Pokemon’s stats. The other 20 increase one stat by 10% while decreasing another by 10%. One may think that neutral natures are the way to go, as they don’t lower your stats, but they also don’t raise them - and a lot of Pokemon have one stat that can do with a bit of loss.

Example: You’re wanting to breed a Scyther that will specializes in physical attacks when it evolves into Scizor, since its Sp. Attack is terrible. With that in mind, it’s logical to allow its Sp. Attack stat, which it won’t be using anyway, to be decreased even further by trying to breed an Adamant (Atk+, Sp.Atk-) or Jolly (Speed+, Sp.Atk-) natured Scyther.

There are no natures that influence HP. HP is determined purely by IVs and the amount of EVs invested into it.

Breeding natures is easy as long as you have an Everstone. Simply give the stone to the parent Pokemon whose nature you wish to pass on to the child and the child will have that nature, 100% guaranteed.

Here is a link with a table detailing all 25 natures and their respective buffs/debuffs.

Are Abilities really worth looking into?

The answer is yes. A Pokemon’s Ability can make it an integral part of your Pokemon team, or dead weight. A lot of Pokemon have abilities that don’t particularly shine, but even then it’s still best to be pragmatic and choose the one which will benefit your team the most.

Hidden Abilities were introduced in Gen 5 and provide a lot of Pokemon with much more useful abilities than they can get naturally. Hidden Abilities are fairly easy to come by in ORAS and XY through use of the Friend Safari, Hordes, and DexNav chaining.

It’s even possible to breed Pokemon with their Hidden Abilities! In ORAS and XY, if the mother Pokemon has her Hidden Ability, there is an 80% chance it will be passed on to the child. If the father has it, you can still luck out and get a child with its Hidden Ability 20% of the time.

Here is list of all Pokemon whose Hidden Abilities are legitimately obtainable in ORAS/XY.

What are EVs and how do I EV Train my Pokemon?

EV stands for Effort Value. EVs are what have the biggest impact on a Pokemon’s stats. You’ve been unknowingly raising your Pokemon’s EVs as you played through the main story of the game without even knowing it! That’s because, every Pokemon you defeat or capture gives a certain amount of EVs to your own Pokemon.

A Pokemon can have a total of 510 EVs across all six stats with each individual stat capping at 252. The reason is that EVs are divided by 4 before being calculated into stat points. That means that a Pokemon with 252 Attack EVs will be 63 points higher in Attack than a Pokemon with 0 Attack EVs, at Lv.100.

All Pokemon can yield 1, 2, or 3 EVs upon defeat/capture. Now, that may seem like a very meager amount (And it is) but there are various methods to speed up the EV training process.

Vitamins can be used to increase a Pokemon’s EVs by 10 in any one stat. However, Vitamins can no longer be used when a stat has reached 100 EVs or higher. The amount of EVs given by Vitamins cannot be manipulated.

PokeRus, the elusive “virus” that infects Pokemon, doubles the amount of EVs the Pokemon receives from defeating/capturing Pokemon and continues to work even after the condition has passed. This means the Pokemon would receive 2, 4, or 6 EVs rather than 1, 2, or 3.

The Macho Brace also doubles a Pokemon’s EVs and stacks with the PokeRus. By itself, the Macho Brace helps yield the same EVs as the PokeRus, but together, you can get 4, 8, or 12 EVs per Pokemon.

The Power items also effect EVs. Each one promotes the growth of a certain stat at the cost of the Pokemon being slower in battle while the item is equipped. These items add +4 to their respective stats regardless of the EVs the Pokemon received in battle. These items also stack with PokeRus, meaning you would gain +8 EVs rather than +4.

Example: Your Pokemon defeats a wild Zigzagoon (Which yields 1 Speed EV) while equipped with the Power Bracer (Which gives +4 Attack EVs), This means your Pokemon gained not only 1 Speed EV, but also 4 Attack EVs!

Horde Battles are a way of gathering EVs faster by defeating 5 Pokemon at a time rather than 1. Having a Pokemon with Sweet Scent helps as the move always results in a Horde Battle in ORAS and XY when used in the field.

Super-Training is also an option and provides you with a visible guide to your Pokemon’s EVs. It’s fairly self-explanatory so I won’t go in-depth here. However, do know that regardless of whether you use the Super Training function, it will still show you whatever EVs the Pokemon in your party have accrued.

The Exp. Share also shares EVs. Keep this in mind when EV Training as it could ruin other Pokemon in your party. Or, it can be utilized to speed up the process with Pokemon who you want to have similar EV distributions.

If you make a mistake or simply have a beloved Pokemon whose EVs need to be redone, you have three options: A) Berries. There are six berries (Pomeg, Kelpsy, Qualot, Hondew, Grepa, and Tamato) that lower your Pokemon’s EVs by 10 when consumed. Each affects a different stat and will stop working if your Pokemon is at max Happiness (As they also increase Happiness) B) Reset Bags. These are obtained randomly via Super Training and, when used, completely reset your Pokemon’s EVs. C) This option is only available in XY. If you have a Kee Berry and a Maranga Berry, you can take them to the Juice Shoppe in Lumiose City to create the Perilous Soup, which functions like a Reset Bag and completely resets your Pokemon’s EVs.

The way your Pokemon’s EVs are distributed are called EV Spreads and you should put a lot of thought into this when raising your Pokemon. Smogon is a decent resource for determining how a Pokemon’s EVs should be distributed for a particular set. Do not consider their spreads to be concrete by any means. Instead, use them as guidelines for building your own spreads.

Here is a comprehensive guide on EVs with information on optimum Hordes and how to best utilize PokeRus, the Macho Brace and Power Items.

What is considered a “competitive” moveset? Why can’t I use attacks I like?

Well, you can. But chances are, you’ll lose. A competitive moveset is four moves chosen for a Pokemon that will ensure it is as versatile as possible and benefit your team.

Running Fire Blast, Flamethrower, Strength and Fly on a Charizard is not going to get you very far at all. However, Dragon Dance, Dragon Claw, Fire Punch and Roost (For a Charizard whose purpose is to Mega Evolve into CharizardX) allows for much more versatility.

Generally, you want your Pokemon to be able to hit as many different types as it can for at least neutral damage. For that reason, having two damaging moves of the same type is pretty redundant (There are some exceptions).

However, you also need to look at non-damaging moves that can improve your Pokemon’s effectiveness in battle. Take that CharizardX set-up, for example. Dragon Dance increases CharizardX’s already great Attack even further and bumps up its Speed to allow it to outspeed your opponent and possibly KO before they can get a move in. Roost provides it with the ability to heal and therefore last much longer in battle.

Things like Base Power and Accuracy also need to be considered when building a moveset. Zap Cannon, though powerful, is a terrible competitive move since it only hits 50% of the time, and who wants to rely on that when they’re down to their last Pokemon? Moves with less than Base 60 Attack Power aren’t even worth considering in most cases (The exception being Abilities that enhance their power like Technician, Aerialate, Refrigerate and Pixelate).

What is Synergy?

Synergy is your team’s ability to mesh and function as a unit in battle rather than as individuals. Now, this is important in building a competitive team because just throwing a team consisting solely of Pokemon that all function the same (Physical attacks, tanks, healers, etc.) isn’t going to get you any wins.

This page gets really in-depth into what it means to build a competitive team and I highly recommend reading through all of its Table of Contents as it covers all the previous topics I’ve explained and then some.

Closing

I hope this has helped you and whoever else has read this answer to better understand the components of competitive battling~ Feel free to leave us any further questions and we’ll be sure to answer as soon as possible!

- Elite Four Hiram

UNSC BATTLEGROUP ENDYMION

Light after darkness.

Battlegroup Endymion is a UNSC expeditionary rapid response strike group operating since November 2556. It is one of a new generation of small and nimble battlegroups designed in response to the changed military-political landscape of the post-Covenant War era, with a focus on a capability to respond to a wide variety of threats with a high speed and efficiency. Equipped with current-generation slipspace drives and   Shaw-Fujikawa ‘ansible’ communicators, expeditionary battlegroups such as Endymion are expected to be able to respond to threats within their assigned operational volume in a matter of days if not hours, a vast improvement over the weeks or months such a response would have taken during the Covenant War or the Insurrection.

Comprising the Autumn-class cruiser UNSC Endymion, two frigates and a prowler, the primary focus of Endymion is on speed and maneuverability, both of which are greatly valued in post-war UNSC doctrine. The group is not well equipped for carrying out extended campaigns or large-scale space engagements, but the need for such is rare in the post-war era; typically, rapid response groups such as Endymion are the first significant force to arrive at the site of a crisis, with follow-up actions such as reinforcements being assessed accordingly. Most of Endymion’s operations consist of low-key deployments against various pirates and raiders along with the odd escort mission, though the group has partaken in a handful of larger campaigns. Endymion’s sister ship, the Hyperion’s Thunder, leads a similar strike group, Battlegroup Hyperion.

The Endymion’s pair of frigate escorts are differently optimized for their assigned tasks, as well as a prowler for reconnaissance and support. Additional ships may augment the battlegroup on specific missions. The frigates, designated Spear 1 and Spear 2, may “ride shotgun” on the Endymion’s exterior hardpoints during sublight cruising acceleration or in slipspace travel. Troops can transfer between the ships accordingly (e.g. if Spear 1 is deployed in advance of the rest of the group, which is occasionally the case).

Battlegroup Endymion’s mission volume mainly encompasses the region known as the Theian Crescent, located within FLEETCOM Sector 6 and portions of Sectors 5 and 7, with the group’s main base of operations being at Neos Atlantis in the Alcides system. The volume is an astropolitically volatile region, intersecting a Joint Occupation Zone, a number of abandoned, neutral or lawless systems, a handful of surviving Outer Colonies as well as a growing number of newly-founded colonies in the Hades Gulf, an on-average 150-light-year gap of largely un-colonized space between the hazy borders of the human sphere and what used to be the Covenant Empire.[1] The corresponding region of ex-Covenant space – known as the Siakar Expanse – has since become home to a variety of emerging polities both civilian and military. Some of these post-Covenant factions are eager to expand their interests out to the former “no man’s land” and the human colonies beyond, the fringes of the former Covenant having suddenly found themselves in an advantageous position practically bumping into another interstellar polity. This offers many opportunities for trade and even diplomatic alliances, which many autonomy-seeking human colonies as well as corporations near the Gulf have been eager to reciprocate. Meanwhile, warlords operating in the region (including vassals of larger groups such as Jul 'Mdama’s self-styled Covenant) seek to put a dent to the budding atmosphere of hope and prosperity. The trade flowing along the Gulf as well as the various new colony worlds and supply stations also continue to attract various raiders, pirates and other delinquents to the region, meaning Battlegroup Endymion has their hands full. On some occasions, Endymion’s operations even bridge over to ex-Covenant space proper, often assisting the UNSC’s allies there.

As part of the UEG’s pact with the Arbiter’s Swords of Sanghelios, Endymion occasionally carries out joint operations with members of the Arbiter’s coalition – on some cases the Swords of Sanghelios proper, but more often the SoS’ colonial allies, mainly a group known as the Chikri-Merkaa Conflux, or simply the Conflux. The Conflux is a post-Covenant[2] alliance based out in the far reaches of their colonial empire, and is one of several SoS subgroups that the UNSC often interacts with.[3] Primarily a civilian government, the Conflux maintains a small but well-trained and -equipped military, designed for speed and flexibility – which makes them ideal partners for Endymion’s mission – at least as 'ideal’ as a post-Covenant group can be.

Composition

FLEET ELEMENTS

  • UNSC Endymion (C-771), Autumn-class heavy cruiser. Battlegroup command vessel. Constructed at Neos Atlantis’ Tethys Shipyards and commissioned in 2556. Maintains a flight of Longswords as well as a Broadsword squadron along with various support and auxiliary sub-vessels.
  • UNSC Fourth Horseman (FFG-417) / Spear 1, Strident-class heavy frigate. Tip of the spear; specializes in fast attack and space combat. Maintains only a nominal troop complement by default, though forces can be transferred aboard if need be. The Fourth Horseman is the second frigate to be hold the title of Spear 1, following the loss of the original (UNSC Elan Light) in mid-2557.
  • UNSC Ahab (FFG-223) / Spear 2, Charon-class light frigate [midlife-refit for current-gen specs]. Primary troop landing ship and secondary escort combatant vessel. In time, the Ahab may be replaced by a new type of warship along with other aging spaceframes, though until then midlife upgrades can extend their viable frontline operational life for at least ten to twenty years, barring major technological leaps.
  • UNSC With Subtlety and Nuance (PRO-49811), Eclipse-class prowler. Reconnaissance and electronic warfare support craft.

TROOP COMPLEMENT

Overall, Battlegroup Endmyion’s troop contingents are designed for speed and mobility, and tend toward specialization.

  • 191st Battalion, UNSC Marine Corps
  • NAVSPECWAR Group ONE – Expeditionary Force Theta
    • 71st Shock Troops Battalion
    • Fireteam HALBERD [Spartan-III]
    • Headhunter Team DAGGER [Spartan-III]
    • Naval Special Warfare Strike Teams [3]

ONI

Battlegroup Endymion maintains a small handful of ONI liaisons, in addition to the crew of the With Subtlety and Nuance, who are, as Prowler Corps personnel, formally under Section II’s payroll albeit heavily integrated with Battlegroup Endymion’s conventional Fleet chain of command.

Endymion Science

While primarily a military operation, Endymion maintains a small scientific complement with various xenosciences specialists [including ex-Covenant consultant(s)] for unexpected findings requiring immediate attention. The Endymion additionally houses the “science pod” UNSC Clarke Was Right (AGR-784), a Sagan-class scientific support vessel. The class was essentially built on the spaceframe of a Hadrian-class command shuttle refitted for research purposes after the Hadrian-class was replaced in mainline service.

Aside from ferrying science personnel and equipment to groundside research sites, the Clarke Was Right is primarily used to conduct research into potentially dangerous Forerunner artifacts off-ship without endangering the core battlegroup let alone the flagship. When the Clarke houses Forerunner artifacts, it always maintains an exclusion zone preferably in excess of a light-second to the main vessels of the battlegroup and uses ultra-secure point-to-point communication protocols, with the artifacts themselves handled in sealed Faraday enclosures. However, in situ research on the ground with all the appropriate countermeasures is preferred whenever it is feasible, as allowing Forerunner technology to come into contact with a UNSC vessel in the first place is deemed highly risky.

Transient/unofficial elements

During joint operations, Battlegroup Endymion is frequently supported by vessels from the Chikri-Merkaa Conflux, typically light capital ships such as corvettes, frigates or destroyers. On some occasions where mission parameters have demanded especially close cooperation, Endymion has maintained an embarked Conflux combat team, drawn from volunteers in the alien alliance’s special force group known as the Foremost Legion. While the team’s presence is above all a diplomatic gesture to better acclimatize the two sides to cooperation, initial results in unit integration and joint operations have shown promise, though doctrinal differences and misunderstandings continue to cause confusion.

FOOTNOTES

[1] The Hades Gulf

The Hades Gulf is hardly the only point where the human and Covenant spheres of influence nearly bump into one another; due to the 3-D nature of space and the extent of the Covenant’s empire, their territories (depending on the definition) partially surround human space on several sides. Still, crossing distances of fewer than at least 500 light-years are uncommon, and the Gulf is of significant political, economic and strategic interest due to the relatively small distance in between the two civilizations’ territories. The Gulf was originally discovered during the Covenant War based on AI-processed data on outlying Covenant colonies by means of siphoning Covenant data systems, deep-space probes, as well as outlying super-telescopes. At the time, it was flagged as one of two primary viable avenues for retaliatory strikes into Covenant territory (i.e. ones that did not rely on Covenant slipspace transit), which eventually came to pass with the notorious Operation: SUNSPEAR in late 2552. In the post-war years, the region is proving promising as a channel for interaction of a more positive nature: in 2557, the new Gulfstream Trade Route was opened, connecting the human Outer Colonies in the Theian Crescent and the Covenant’s Siakar Expanse. Though essentially a formality (unsanctioned traffic and trade had flowed along the gulf for some time then), the opening of the route held major symbolic repercussions to both sides – who did their best to ignore the fact the route was set up partly using infrastructure originally established by the Covenant for their invasion fleets.

The name of the Hades Gulf was coined by military strategists during the war. In the post-war era, several less grim names have been suggested for the region, particularly by corporations operating in the region seeking to make it more attractive for prospective colonists or other corporate interests, though none have caught on.

[2] Term usage

Though the UNSC often refers to its allies as “the Sangheili” in informal (and sometimes formal) documentation, this is more often than not inaccurate; while some polities make a point about being exclusively “Sangheili”, most groups styled as such typically harbor large numbers of the other former client species, not in the least the Swords of Sanghelios proper. In the Conflux’s case, the majority (if a small one) of the population are actually Kig-Yar, with the Sangheili and Unggoy as a close second. This is a natural consequence of the Covenant’s integrated nature, whereby large numbers of the various client species existed in a complex net of interdependence for thousands of years; in the few years since the Covenant’s collapse, economic and logistical realities have simply made it impractical, if not impossible, for the vast majority of the former members of the Covenant to auto-segregate into their own polities defined strictly by species. That said, various groups have responded to the collapse of the Covenant and thus its formal caste system differently; some, such as Jul 'Mdama, seek to maintain the old ways of hierarchical oppression, while others, such as the Swords and the Conflux, make a point about offering (at least in theory) the former “lower” species similar rights as the former ruling classes, both for the sake of utility as well as presenting themselves as attractive options for the “lesser” species in the new landscape of competition that now exists in the Covenant’s ashes. In any case, the terms “ex-Covenant” or “post-Covenant” are used here in lieu of the more common “Sangheili” for reasons of accuracy.

[3] The Chikri-Merkaa Conflux

Military strategists initially had difficulty conceptualizing the scale and scope of the Swords of Sanghelios, as well as the sheer extent of the Sangheili/Covenant colonial empires. While still under active investigation, ONI estimations speak of thousands of developed worlds and at least an equal number of various outposts or unrecorded settlements. Tracing Sangheili and Kig-Yar colonial growth in particular has proven difficult even to the Swords themselves due to the species’ preference for distributed governing systems, the stochastic interplay of their hundreds of independent colonial growth vectors, as well as the age of their starfaring civilization(s).

A common misconception is that the Swords of Sanghelios are culturally, aesthetically or governmentally monolithic; rather, what are known as the “Swords” in common discourse is in fact a large (and at times loose) coalition of numerous polities. More specifically, while the Swords of Sanghelios proper are active in the Sangheili core worlds, including Sanghelios and several dozen major core colonies (most of them founded pre-Covenant), they maintain a large number of alliances to dozens of lesser interstellar polities further out across ex-Covenant space. These colonial factions do not always subscribe to the letter of the SoS’ doctrine and frequently maintain their own names, cultures, and aesthetics, but are by and large allies to the greater coalition of those sympathetic to Vadam.

The Chikri-Merkaa Conflux, often referred to simply as the Conflux, is one such polity. A natural post-war outgrowth of an already existing trade alliance between Kig-Yar and Sangheili clans in the region of space known as the Chikri-Merkaa Strand in the Siakar Expanse, the Conflux is a small player in the grand scheme of things, but they do seek to expand their influence in their home region of space. On a general policy level, their differences to the Swords of Sanghelios proper are mostly cultural and aesthetic in nature, with only minor policy differences; all the Arbiter is concerned about, however, are common allies and enemies. Groups such as the Conflux do not necessarily contribute much to the war in the Sangheili core worlds, but they do serve the Arbiter’s interests across the ex-Covenant colonies, something that is particularly valuable near the expansion spheres of humanity or the various Covenant Fringe species.

7

The New Audi RS Q3 Performance

Joining RS 6 and RS 7 performance variants in the new wave of models positioned above ‘standard’ RS equivalents, the Audi RS Q3 performance uses an increased 362 horsepower output to deliver even more exceptional acceleration on the ascent to an elevated 167mph top speed, and features equipment enhancements which also distance it visually from its namesake.

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On Bubble Tops | The 1953 Jaguar Jabbeke

1953 Jaguar XK120 SE Jabbeke Special | Jaguar C-Type Special Equipment | Jaguar XK120 C Competition | OTS Roadster | Open Two Seater | Racing Sports Car Modified | Chassis No 660986 | 3.4L XK Straight 6 190 hp | Top Speed 276 kph 174 mph

The 1953 Jaguar Jabbeke | One-off specially modified to capture the Land Speed Record at Jabbeke, Belgium | Covered Headlights, Underbody Cover, Tweaked Engine and the Bubble Top enabled the XK120 to hit over 276 kph 174 mph and claim the World Record for the Flying Mile

To this day, the XK120 Jabbeke is the only Jaguar to hold a World Speed Record

Originally purchased in 1938 as a transportation car, this roadster was eventually used by its owner Vic Edelbrock as a test bed for his growing speed equipment company.  Voted as one of the 75 Most Significant ‘32 Fords of all time, this car is as famous a hot rod as there is.  Grand National Roadster Show, Pomona, CA.

8

Macro butterflies 

Artist Linden Gledhill using macro photographer captures the petal-like structures that make up butterflies wings. As a trained biochemist, he’s able to use advanced microscopes and high-speed equipment to zoom in on these unseen details.