Coauthor - lady bird
Biography: look me in the face, hold my gaze and call me by your name ||-//
- 1Hour 53minutes
- Giorgi Tsereteli
- Directors=Levan Akin
- 4210 Votes
- rating=8,7 / 10 Stars
Raymond Bourque Appreciation Time When people are talking about the best players of the past 50 years... I firmly believe Bourque in the same tier as Howe, Gretzky, Orr, Lemieux -- even if he's behind those guys, he's absolutely in the same tier. I remember Bourque, yeah, One of the greats from back in the day. He was not one of the greats. He's the great that other and future greats should be compared to -- and in our lifetimes, I'm beyond certain that we're going to watch them all fall short. Maybe Bourque didn't change the way the game was played the way some of those guys did but... it's only because he didn't need to. He fit the way the game was played -- as if the game was made for him. He could beat people with physicality, he could beat people with finesse, and he did it at an unbelievably elite level, for 30 minutes a night, for 22 years. Uh, Bourque was good but not that good mate. Time for a refresher. Shall we? Strap in, this is a long one. Shots Most shots by a defenseman in a season during Bourque's career. During his career, Bourque held 8 of the top-9 slots. Expand that to until today and his seasons still place 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 12th, pretty much only falling due to two defensemen who spent time at forward. Compare that to most shots, by a forward during that time period -- there are 13 forwards in the top-20. Brett Hull is the closest comparable to "dominating his positon" and he falls clearly short. Bourque was consistently ahead of his peers, moreso than anyone else was ahead of theirs. He finished top-10 in the NHL (even among forwards! ) in shots in 13 - more than half - of his 22 seasons. Three times he led the league in shots (84, 87, 95). In 1985 he was 2nd to Gretzky, in 1988 he was 2nd to Lemieux, and in 1996 he was 2nd to Jagr. Most shots/game in a season by a defenseman, all-time Ray Bourque and Bobby Orr own 11 of the top 12 slots. Bourque shows up 8 times before anyone other than Orr shows up twice, and almost caught Orr for the record -- Orr's best season was 5. 43 shots/game; Bourque's was 5. 36. Raw shot totals by a defenseman in a season Bourque owns 8 of the top-17 seasons. If not for those two defensemen-playing-forward, he would own 8 of the top 15 seasons. His two best seasons were topped by Orr only twice. Most seasons with 250+ shots, forwards included Jagr/Gretzky did it 10 times each. Bourque? 14. He didn't "accidentally" set records like: Most career shots 360 consecutive games with a shot 19 shots in a single game Over the past 10 seasons, 3. 85 shots per game would comfortably put you 2nd in the entire league in shots per game -- forwards included. That was Bourque's career average. Only Ovechkin, Bure, Lemieux, and Dionne have averaged more shots/game throughout their career. Number of games a defenseman recorded 10+ shots? (only tracked since ~1979) A handful of defensemen have done it more than 4-5 times. Bourque did it 24 times. Who cares about shots, goals are what win games. Get on with it. You're right - forget all of that. Throw all of that evidence in the toilet. Flush twice. Goals Recently, Shea Weber reached 10+ goals for the 11th time in his career. A fantastic achievement; even HoF defensemen Pronger/Niedermayer managed that only 8 times apiece. The first time Bourque failed to reach double digit goals was his age-40 season. Most seasons with 10 + goals in NHL history (leaving for the WHA may hurt some players here) Bourque is 7th overall, doing it 21 times. There are only 6 defensemen in the top-100. (shoutout to Patrick Marleau, who moved Bourque to 8th two days ago, and surely would have tied Francis/Jagr if he didn't spent the 04-05 lockout helping his parents on their farm). Let's bump 10 to 15 for shits and giggles. Only five defensemen in NHL history have scored 15+ goals, 10+ times (Weber could be the 6th with 1 more 15+ goal season): Defenseman 15+ goals Coffey 10 MacInnis 11 Potvin 12 Housley 13 Bourque 18 Four of the greatest offensive defensemen ever did it 10/11/12/13 times.. and then there's Bourque with 18 seasons. He made the team as an 18 year old rookie and scored 17 goals. Then he scored 17 (or more) goals for 15 years in a row, followed by a 23 goal pace during the lockout-shortened '94 season. And then he scored 17+ in back to back years after that. I'm going to call that 18 consecutive years. That's incredible longevity and production for a forward. Bourque did it from the backend, and the best playmaker he had was... 4. 5 seasons of Adam Oates? Forwards with a similar number of career goals as Ray Bourque: Vincent Lecavalier, Jason Arnott, Tony Amonte, Joe Thornton, Patrick Elias, Marian Gaborik, John LeClair, Paul Kariya, Shane Doan, Markus Naslund Some defensemen bring value with lots of points, not just scoring like 20 goals. Okay, alright already. Forget it. Take all that evidence and shred it, then set the shreds on fire. Points Speaking of failing to reach double digit goals in his final season... Bourque still finished tied for 3rd in defensive scoring that year, behind only "HoF defensemen in their prime" - Brian Leetch and Nicklas Lidstrom. At age 40. It's always been a remarkable feat to consistently score more points than games played. There have been 30 players who have a point-per-game of >= 1. 0 in at least 10 seasons: 29 are in, or will be in, the Hall of Fame (sorry Pierre Turgeon, you totally deserve it) 28 are forwards (Coffey, Bourque) Only 3 of those forwards did it more than Bourque: Gretzky, Howe, Dionne. Bourque's consistent longevity and production, by that measure, was bested by only 3 forwards. I really feel like there should be, I don't know, maybe a dozen forwards?.. you find any defenseman on that list. 8 defensemen have ever cracked 1, 000 points. Eight. In history. Erik Karlsson has the next realistic chance at being the 9th 1000pt defenseman; he reached 600 points in the same game Marleau passed Bourque 2 days ago. Bourque has 1, 579. That puts Karlsson... just under 1, 000 points behind him. 8 defensemen in history have managed that in their career, and that's roughly how far Karlsson is behind right now. Karlsson turns 30 in 4 months. If Karlsson retires at age 39, averages a 60 point pace, and only misses ~12 games a year.. he might get 1, 000 career points. To catch Bourque, Karlsson would need to play another 12. 5 years (until he's 42) without missing a game, and average 79 points a season. Nobody is going to catch Bourque. He was a _defense_man, who cares about points. Okay! Good grief. Take all that evidence, tie a rock around it, and huck it down the Mariana Trench. Time on ice Sadly, the NHL didn't start officially tracking time on ice until the final few years of Bourque's career, but... Between ages 37 and 40, he was 2nd in ice time in the league, playing well over 26 minutes a night. His playoff ice time those 4 years - over 30 minutes a game. If that's slightly inflated by some OT games: it absolutely doesn't matter. Only 5 players saw more playoff ice time in that span and they all played in 13-20 more games. Throughout his 20s and early 30s? Who doubts Bourque was consistently eating over 30 minutes a night? Maybe even 35? Did he reach 40 minutes some games? Bourque turned 40 years old a couple months into the '00-'01 season. This is how Bob Hartley distributed his shorthanded icetime that year. Later on, in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Bourque played 29:35. There's been a lot of links so far... did you read that last one? "Based on his play, there is no reason why he should retire, " Avs defenseman Rob Blake said. "He was probably our dominant defenseman all playoffs long. " Spoiler, he did retire, because let's be reality - how can you possibly top this moment... Maybe he just took greedy long shifts. His coaches probably hated him. Let's pretend you're right. Take all that evidence to the Will It Blend? guy and have him go to town. Awards Hart Defensemen are just generally not considered for the Hart trophy. Lidstrom, Robinson, Chelios... Elite defensemen, household names in some parts... All finished top-5 in Hart voting just once ( 1 time! ) in their entire career. Pronger did win one, but he was never close - either before, or after. Paul Coffey and Dennis Potvin were top-5 in Hart voting twice. Bourque was top-5 in Hart voting on FIVE (5) occasions. He received at least some votes for the Hart trophy 12 times. He finished 2nd in Hart voting twice - once to Gretzky who won his 8th consecutive Hart in '87, and... The 1990 Hart trophy: Wayne Gretzky won the scoring title with 142 points. Mark Messier clobbered his career high of 111 points with 129 - with 57 points more than anyone on his team other than Kurri. Brett Hull scored 72 goals to win the goal scoring race by 10. Only Yzerman was within 17 goals. Bourque's statline? Totally nondescript. You could hardly pick it out of his career - 21 goals / 73 assists (maybe 10 assists more than usual). But the people voting knew. --- 1st 2nd 3rd Points Messier 29 24 10 227 Bourque 29 26 2 225 Hull 4 9 33 80 Gretzky 1 2 5 16 Bourque had the same number of 1st place votes. More 2nd place votes. But Messier had just enough 3rd place votes to steal it. All Star Bourque was a 1st/2nd team All Star for 17 consecutive years - as a rookie and then every year until he was 36... With another 2 selections later in his career for good measure. He was a 1st team All Star 13 times - holding the record over everyone. The three times that Bourque wasn't a 1st/2nd team allstar? Well, four defensemen a year earn those honors, and he finished 7th/6th/6th - just barely "out of the money". Norris While Bourque may have "only" won the Norris 5 times (lol? )... He was top-4 (yes, four) for 17 years to start his career, and he not once, in 22 years, was he worse than 7th. What other player can you say that about? In any sport? Perhaps a handful in history? The last 5 years, 7th in Norris voting: Josi (17-18, 18-19), Doughty (16-17), Hedman (15-16), Keith (14-15). That was a roughly comparable to Bourque, when Bourque was at the lowest point of his career. Age (at season end) Norris Placing 19 4th 20 4th 21 2nd 22 3rd 23 3rd 24 2nd 25 4th 26 1st 27 1st 28 4th 29 1st 30 1st 31 2nd 32 2nd 33 1st 34 3rd 35 2nd 36 7th 37 7th 38 3rd 39 7th 40 2nd A couple Norris races I want to point out: Age 27, his 1st Norris win. 52 of 54 1st place votes. Age 30, his 3rd Norris win. Paul Coffey scored 103 points to finish 9th in the league. Bourque still won the Norris unanimously - 63 of 63 first place votes. Age 36, his first finish outside the top-4. He missed 20 games. His team finished dead last and allowed 20 goals more than any other team. The Bruins were a tire fire. He still got some votes. A side note about trophies in general Imagine we're at the 2020 entry draft, and the teams drafting 1st through 5th all have a different player ranked 1st overall on their scouting report, but the same player ranked 2nd overall. Even though all 5 teams drafting completely agree on the 2nd best player in the draft? He's going 6th overall at best. It doesn't matter if everybody agrees you're the 2nd prettiest girl at the dance - it just takes 1 person to fuck everything up... or 5 people to fuck your chances up in separate years. 1982 Doug Wilson fucked up Bourque's first Norris. He scored 39 goals - not scoring more than 23 either before or after. Couldn't you have done that a different year, Doug? Bourque finished 2nd in voting. 1983 He came 3rd, but the race was very close between all 3: That year, Langway won his first Norris despite posting just 39 points. Often people wonder about that -- but even some people who watched 80s hockey and believe Langway fully deserved that Norris... You really had to see Langway in his prime. I have been unsuccessful at copying to Digital and uploading some of my Capitals games from that era. But Langway was a beast. lieve that Langway didn't deserve it the next year, nor did the 126 point season of Paul Coffey. It should have gone to Bourque. 1983-84 I believe Langway did not deserve it(Although he deserved to be a finalist). Runner up Coffey also did not deserve it. Bourque deserved it that year. A different person, later in that thread: Bourque might have been your best bet in '84 not Coffey despite popular opinion 1992 Brian Leetch fucked up a Norris for Bourque - setting a career high 102 points he would never come close to, before or after. Bourque came 2nd. 1996 Chelios fucked up another Norris for Bourque, winning despite Bourque having more 1st place votes. Here are a handful of elite defensemen, and how many times they were nominated for the Norris (finished top-3 in voting): Player Nominations Lidstrom 10 Chelios 6 Potvin 6 Coffey 6 MacInnis 6 Robinson 5 Langway 3 Leetch 3 Bourque 15 Honestly, Bourque's "Norris problem" was that he was too consistent. Yeah. That's a sentence. Too consistent. A Norris Problem. lol. If Bourque had 3-4 shittier seasons and 3-4 seasons like Doug Wilson's, or Brian Leetch's? If those guys didn't have the season they had, the year they had it? If Bourque didn't miss some games in any of the other 14 years he finished top-4? The narrow loss to Chelios? The win he 'may have' deserved against Langway/Coffey? If he had moved to a team with a Gretzky/Lemieux type player? If Hull doesn't steal enough 3rd place votes to give Messier the '90 Hart? There's an alternate universe where Bourque wins 10 or more Norris trophies and multiple Hart trophies, laughing all the way to the bank like a fox. Okay, I'm getting the picture, but lets be reality... if he was actually elite he would have dragged the Bruins further. Team Success While the Bruins didn't win the cup with Bourque... He was pretty much the only mainstay during the last 17 years of the Bruins record setting Playoff Appearance streak - and that streak certainly didn't end because of Bourque - as mentioned above, he got Norris attention that year. That awful '96 Bruins team - the only one that failed to make the playoffs with Bourque - had 10 defensemen appear in 27+ games, and Don Sweeney was the only d-man to dress for more than 62 games. Here's the team scoring leaders: Player Points Note Stumpel 76 One of two seasons he cracked 60 points. Oates 70 Finished 2nd on the team in scoring by 19 points despite being traded with more than 2 months left in the season Donato 51 Never again eclipsed 40 points or 16 goals; more than half his points included Oates and/or Bourque in the scoring play. Bourque 50 Tocchet 30 5th on the team in scoring, despite playing only 40 games - due to a shoulder injury, and then being traded along with Oates. DiMaio 28 His career high. He scored 3 shorthanded goals that year. Bourque assisted all 3. The only time Boston didn't make the playoffs was when they fielded... that. And Bourque was the only constant. When Boston did make the playoffs? Age Playoff Result Note 19 Lost 2nd round to the eventual champs (Islanders) 20 Lost 1st round to cup finalists (North Stars) 21 Lost 2nd round to Quebec in 7 games, 5 games decided by 1 goal 22 Lost 3rd round to the eventual champs (Islanders) 23 Lost 1st round 3-0 to Montreal, 2 games decided by 1 goal 24 Lost 1st round 3-2 to Montreal 25 Lost 1st round 3-0 to Montreal, 2 games decided by 1 goal 26 Lost 1st round 4-0 to Montreal, 2 games decided by 1 goal 27 Lost SCF to the champ Oilers, obviously... Compare these rosters! 28 Lost 2nd round 4-1 to Montreal, all 5 games decided by 1 goal 29 Lost SCF.. Oilers, again... 30 Lost 3rd round to the eventual champs (Penguins) 31 Lost 3rd round to the eventual champs (Penguins) 32 Lost 1st round a massive upset, though 3 games were decided in OT 33 Lost 2nd round 3 losses by a single goal (excluding empty netters) 34 Lost 1st round to the eventual champs (Devils) 35 Lost 1st round to cup finalists (Panthers} 36 Lost 1st round to cup finalists (Capitals), 2 losses in OT and another by 1 goal + empty netter 37 DNP 38 Lost 2nd round to cup finalists (Bruins), 2x 1-goal losses and another by 1 goal + empty netter --- Traded to Avalanche --- 39 Lost 3rd round to cup finalists (Stars), in 7 games, 3 losses by a single goal 40 Won Stanley Cup Bourque's teams surprisingly consistently lost: to the champs, or at least a team that reached the finals by a single game, and/or with many games decided by a single goal Sometimes you just don't get the bounces when you need them. The Bruins teams he played on were just not equipped to deal with the superteams of the day (NYI/EDM/PIT), and they didn't catch lightning in a bottle where everything went their way one particular year (CGY/MTL/NYR). The Bruins record with and without Bourque in the lineup (from the start of the 1979 season until March 6th, 2000): With: 770-546-202, 94 point pace, winning 50. 7% of games. Without: 57-52-22, 85 point pace, winning 43. 5% of games. Huh. So Bourque was pretty good I guess? Comparables Hockey-Reference tries to calculate a pool of the most comparable players based on " similarity scores ". tempts to find players whose careers were similar in terms of quality and shape. By shape,... things like: How many years did he play? How good were his best years compared to his worst years? Did he have a few great years and then several mediocre years, or did he have many good-but-not-great years? For example, Patrick Elias Comparables all have a "similarity score" of between 90 and 95 -- their career quality, duration, and arc was fairly close. Here is Bourque's: Only four ( 4! ) defensemen have a "similarity" score over 77. Even compared to elite Hall of Fame defensemen... Their careers almost universally "tapered off" earlier, and many of them much harder. Some of those guys were not super competitive at the end of their career - kept on to teach youngsters, to play out their contracts, as powerplay specialists or role players. Some of them continued to pile up offensive numbers but lost an edge defensively. Not Bourque. He was an absolute monster, from the start of his career and for 22 years to the very end. His "peak" seasons were crushing, His "great" seasons were comparable to many HoF'ers "peak" seasons, His "meh" seasons were still extremely comparable to elite defensemen just outside their prime. Using that measure (point shares) to approximate how much impact Bourque had... After all you've read, you shouldn't be surprised to find out Bourque is 2nd only to Gretzky. Not only are the two are pretty much neck and neck, but... gobs of elite players from history are way behind the two of them. Is that a perfect measure? No. But taken with the totality of information provided above? Even if you did shred/light/sink/flush all that evidence as requested? There's just too much of it. Bourque had the biggest career impact in defensive point shares. He shows up 7 times in the top-200 best defensive seasons - as compared to Lidstrom (5), Stevens (5), Robinson (7), Chelios (5), Savard (6)... He was top-4 in the league in defensive point shares 10 times. In his 2nd worst defensive season, at age 39, he was very roughly comparable to Alzner, Hainsey, Carlson, Muzzin, Stralman, Pietrangelo... His 2nd worst season, at age 39. Odds and Ends He won the "most accurate shooter" competition 8 times - including 5 years in a row from '97 to '01. Bourque started his career as 'injury prone'. He had three major fractures in two years: Ray Bourque suffered a fractured left [forearm] last week in a pickup softball game Bourque fractured his jaw in a fight at Detroit in November of 1980 actured his wrist during a check against Quebec defenseman Andre Dupont Bourque had every opportunity to make himself the highest paid defenseman and/or shop the market. Instead, he quietly and quickly resigned for salary amounts that even pissed off the NHLPA (who were trying to drive up wages) - he was only top-5 in salary one year in his career and regularly took home far less than he deserved. Bourque didn't take less money because he didn't care about money - he did file for arbitration in 1993. This is what the arbitrator had to say: A club's salary offer must properly recognize the players' capabilities and contributions. Bourque's achievements are "stunning". Every season he has been named to the All-Star Team and has been the winner or runner-up for the Norris Trophy as the game's best defenseman. Measured by the standards as agreed upon by the NHL and the NHLPA, including overall performance, number of games played, length of service, overall contribution to the club, and leadership and public appeal, Bourque simply is unmatched. Agreed... Something to keep in mind: The owners, certainly during the 80s, were (and some still are) actively fucking the players. They withheld all salary information, so as a player, you either had zero negotiating power, or you had to ask people their salary - which was much more frowned upon then. Bourque would go into negotiations having no idea what anyone else made. Ray Bourque said that in the past he and other players had tried to get salary information before negotiating and felt uncomfortable when doing so. "[having all salaries released] - it's good for the players, especially when it comes time to renegotiate, " he told the Montreal Gazette. "That way you know exactly how you fare with players at your level. It's a lot better than trying to go in and guess all the time. "You always felt uncomfortable going up to a guy and asking, 'Hey, how much are you making? ' This way all you have to do is peek at the list. " He wasn't trying to put the screws to his employer, he was awkwardly asking other players their salary.. I don't know Mr. Bourque, but... It sure sounds like he just wanted what was reasonably fair. Everybody has their own definition of "classy" but.. if that's not classy, then it's at least honorable. Another article from back in the day... Some players (eg., defenseman Raymond Bourque) have been criticized in the past because they did not test out the free-agent market and instead, out of loyalty to their teams, signed contracts for less money than they would have received if they had made themselves available to the highest bidder. Gripes.. with Bourque, obviously... but with what I expect someone to inevitably say: Well of course nobody will catch him in points, there were a bazillion goals in the 80s. Using League Averages (and no I didn't take an average of averages) the NHL saw teams average 3. 38 goals per game during Bourque's career. Since the '04-'05 lockout, the NHL has seen teams average 2. 85 goals per game -- the difference is under 20%. Okay? Now Karlsson only needs to average 79 points without missing a game until he's 40 to catch Bourque? Now Bourque drops from 11th to 17th in career points, still hundreds of points ahead of every defenseman except Coffey? So what. You still can't compare between eras even with adjusting. I don't think that era-adjusting is the be-all end-all. I haven't mentioned Harvey (7 Norris trophies in 8 years) or Shore (4 Harts) for that reason. That being said.. Award voting is among his peers, and he absolutely crushed that - in a manner that I sincerely doubt we'll ever see a defenseman replicate. Nobody in the NHL is even close to being consistently top-10 in Norris voting for a full decade. Time on ice is dictated by his coach and his capability, and has nothing to do with era. His team winning% fell by 7. 2% in the 1. 6 seasons worth of games he missed; that time on ice seems well-spent. His closest comparables had careers that overlapped his. He wasn't just compiling a fantastic career in a void - he was doing it while playing against all those guys. Fuck stats and numbers and all that stuff. Show me clips. I would love to, but Sadly.. The footage available online from that era is mostly garbage. There are some youtube compilations available that aren't hard to find if you're interested. The thing about highlight clips.. Yeah, Bourque had highlight plays, but... That wasn't what made Bourque great. The highlights were a cherry on top of the desert of Bourque's game; all the small things he did, and how consistently he did them, was the main course of the meal. In Summary... Ray Bourque's career was basically ~15 years of Norris-worthy play with 5-6 years of being "just" a clearly top-5 to top-10'ish defenseman. Please, the next time you see someone talking about the greatest defenseman ever... If someone rattles off the name Bourque like he was "just" one of those greats from the 80s/90s, politely remind them. Send them this link. Contact your local chapter of the Raymond Bourque Apprecation Club (if your area doesn't have one, start one). If someone forgets to mention Bourque while bringing up Lidstrom, Coffey, et al.. Please - head to the nearest market, find yourself the freshest fish you can (I personally recommend a trout) - and use it to slap them around a bit, because that's absurd. The next time you hear someone say "Gretzky/Lemieux/Howe/Orr type", consider adding Bourque to the list. If you somehow think he's not in a tier with those guys, then he must be _ all alone in your tier 2, because nobody else came close.
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[Previous] p | [First] f ----- Chapter 9 Art: Sybela Chapter 10: The Team ----- Seth and Keiko sat patiently through a tense, late lunch, constantly watching and waiting for Sybela or anyone else to provide a glimpse of what was going on out in the capital. Keiko was about to request that Seth contact the rabbit when an alert reached them both. The boys are going to be real damn surprised when they update theirs. Welcome to the team I guess, Sunburst;). Anyway, I haven't seen anything all day. Seth, if we're going to move I think we need to move now, make sure we're in position before things get hot. "Well that settles it, " Seth declared. He activated his lens and leaned closer to his terminal. "Argos, Talon, we're green. Sybela is sending you what she estimates are the best positions to observe and engage any anti-Sekhama activity. I'll be on-site soon. Seth out. " Keiko regarded him acutely, finding his face was already an impassive mask. She imagined he was focusing on the things he'd need to do to ensure he was the animal who killed and lived that night. The human stood and casually threw off the baggier shirt and pants he'd been wearing so he could equip his armor. Keiko whined appreciatively, garnering his attention. "If that was intentional, keep doing it, Seth. The sculptors don't really seem to have captured the glory of the human posterior in the flesh. Perhaps it's been too long since they had a living model. " He fixed her with an inscrutable look. "I have already received a death sentence for holding your hand so I suppose going further is technically an option. Are you feeling pent up, lady Keiko? " He asked with the barest hint of mischief in his tone. The wild dog held a hand dramatically over her heart as Seth strapped on his greaves and did up his boots before moving on to his chestplate. "That's not a question you ask a lady of quality, Seth. We do not get 'pent up'. " "How presumptuous of me. I beg your forgiveness, my lady, " he replied, strapping a belt diagonally across his chest and tightening it against his armor. She saw it contained a couple of magicite heat sinks, a grenade, and other tools of his trade. "I was unaware ladies of quality lusted for the bodies of mercenaries…in a not pent up way, of course. " "We lust for the bodies of the Sekhama, Seth, " Keiko said unabashedly as he checked and holstered his pistol before moving on to his knife and sword. The movements were methodical, practiced, as though he'd been through this routine hundreds of times. "My handmaidens never cease their adoration of Idris and the others. Some have given themselves to Sekhama in the harem; no strings attached, just to indulge. Others have fallen in love, " she said adoringly. "Hosting a single man in their chambers or in the harem again and again and again. I like those stories the most. They're always more intimate, more detailed…" Seth had finished arming himself during Keiko's reminiscence. He stood before her, armed and armored to the teeth save his mask. "You're nothing like I imagined you, Keiko, " he said, almost hungrily. His eyes were alive and danced against his stoic face. "You are so very wild, full of vigor. I'm surprised you didn't run off sooner. " "And you're nothing like I imagined you, Seth, " she whispered, not moving an inch as he stepped towards her and then again. He was close, very close, close enough that she couldn't even bring her arms up between them. "Please help my people, help them destroy the cancer that's killing my city. And then come back. " She watched as the corner of his lips hooked into the faintest of smiles. "Yeah, I can do that, " he replied softly but confidently, resting a hand on her shoulder. She cocked her head at him, her golden chains shifting slightly under her ear. "I'm already on death row, right? " Keiko's heart leapt into her throat and strangled her reply. Who was this compelling man before her? He certainly wasn't the human who had folded over in Sybela's presence, who had spoken so disparagingly of himself as unworthy of his ancestry. No, the human standing before her was something else entirely, a confident killer. My sword? For a moment Keiko was willing to believe that she might be able to have one of those stories her handmaidens wove for her with such reverence. "I daresay you are, mercenary. " "Then it can't get any worse, can it? " He asked coyly, his voice like sandstone as he brought his head lower and closer. She could feel his heat on her nose, could sense the light wind of his breathing. "No…" Keiko whispered, wondering if he was really about to do what she thought he was going to do, what she desperately wanted to do. "Then it's time to claim my reason, " Seth purred, reaching up and cupping her cheek as he pressed his lips against hers. They were chapped and rugged, but the muscle underneath was soft and gentle. Keiko barely had time to gasp and respond with her own before he moved away, leaving her heart pounding and her muzzle tingling. "I think I like that look as well, Keiko. " "Seth, " Keiko whispered, grabbing his armored hand with urgency. Their eyes searched one another. "Come back…the job isn't done yet. " The mercenary slowly lifted his mask to his face, fixing it in place and activating the program in their lenses. His terminal was already tuned to the correct, encrypted channels. She was going to witness their operation from the inside. He left her side and opened the door, casting one final glance behind him as he departed. It was something he'd never done before on an op. Seeing Keiko standing gracefully, draped in cloth and gold within his shrine was more than worth it. "I will. " ----- "Hey hey, look what the Captain dragged in! " A veteran Sekhama called, pointing to Spot as the young wild dog entered the palace armory. "Time to earn that badge, Spot! " Another called supportively, banging on his locker as the rest soon joined in, raising a cacophony of noise typical of a group of young men whose job it was to kill in the name of the crown. Spot replied to the attention with a brief wave, hustling to his locker to throw on his helmet and equip his sidearm. He'd already dressed himself in the rest of his urban combat gear, the ballistic and magicite resistant plating easily doubling his profile. The young Sekhama moved on to the rows of primary weapons and shields of various makes and sizes. He selected a non-elemental shotgun with a bayonet mount, receiving a handful of approving looks. Such makes and models were considered rare, but the old weapons based on older human technology could not be matched in terms of raw stopping power. "Going big, Spot? Your shoulder's gonna be aching tomorrow! " Another of his brothers called. Spot remained calm under his helmet, accepting of whatever his fellows decided to throw his way. It was all in fun, and if he survived he'd be on the other end the next time a greenhorn got his first sortie. He nodded to acknowledge them all before heading to the armory door. "Woah buddy, you psyched yourself out? " An imposing water buffalo asked, reaching out to grab him by the shoulder. "Transports are that way, kid. " "There's something I need to do in the infirmary, " Spot replied. "I won't miss the transport. " "See to it you don't, Spot, or Octavia's going to have your hide. " With that he was allowed to leave, his brothers in arms watching as he went. The locker room banter continued unabated. "Hey, isn't that whore in the infirmary, the one Oz is patching up? She's the only one, right? " "What do you think? Spot's got a taste for the underbelly? Kinky shit, man. Heard she's got no tail and crazy eyes. " "Didn't think he had it in him; kid might not be a total fish after all. " "He passed his sims, focus on yourself. " "Fuck you man, you know the sims ain't shit. " "Yeah, but if he's got some street pussy waiting for him…" "She's full tubes you dipshit, not that that would stop you. " "Just cause I killed more Trang'aul than you did-" "That only counts as one and you know it! " "Bullshit! " "Dude they shot each other, give it a rest. " "All of you best get your heads in the game. The Trang'aul were easy mode. " "Bro, the Oro ain't got shit on us. " "That assumes we get in there alive. " "Why the fuck are you such a downer? " "Cause cynical assholes like me tend to make it back alive. " ----- "Hey Eina, " Spot called softly, lifting his visor as he approached the bed. He could see more of her now. The breathing tube had been removed, as well as the coverings over her face and chest. Most of the tubes remained however, as well as the azure IV. The beeping of her heart monitor was the only other sound in the infirmary. "I just wanted you to know that Jace and Keiko are doing well. The handmaidens can barely keep themselves under control trying to baby them. Keiko acts like she's used to it but Jace is constantly gaping at 's cute, " Spot trailed off, finding it hard to keep looking at her unmoving form. "I'm going tonight, on my first op. I'm going to kill the bastards that did this to you, " he promised, reaching tentatively over the railing of the gurney and softly taking a couple of her fingers in his hand. He couldn't feel much through his gloves, they were limp. "I'm going to come back too for me, please? " Spot blinked rapidly and clenched his jaw, trying to keep himself under control as he laid her hand gently back on the bed. "Goodbye, Eina. Feel better, alright? " The young Sekhama turned away and headed back to the entrance, his boots falling heavily on the floor. He didn't notice as her head shifted slightly, blurry and weak eyes opening just enough to make out a spotted tail as the doors to the infirmary slid shut. "I thought I might find you here, " Octavia called, the armored lion resting against the wall as Spot entered the hallway. He saluted his superior. The lion had changed out of his ceremonial palace armor and into his street gear. With his tower shield he'd be as wide as the small alleys of the slums. "I was just heading to the transports now, sir. I'm sorry, sir. " "No need, but it's time. Get your head screwed on straight and clear your thoughts. Let's move, " Octavia ordered, walking them both to the armory and grabbing his custom heavy shield before leading the way to the elevator that would take them deep underground, far away from the prying eyes of the networks of Alhamkara. They exited into a well maintained cavern full of mostly transport vehicles, though a few also sported various mounted weapons. Spot and Idris boarded the second of two wheeled transports that would be ferrying the Sekhama through the earthen, underground tunnels to one of the military's airbases in the area. When Spot was seated Idris rapped heavily on the door separating them from the transport pilots, signaling the all clear to move out. "I hope you boys all remembered to take a piss. It's more than an hour to the airfield and we aren't making any stops. Take your helmets off, get some rest. Tonight's going to be a big one. " ----- "Let's see, so if I do this…" Keiko muttered to herself, playing around with both the program on her lens and Seth's terminal. He'd secured it well before leaving and she hadn't been able to poke around in anything private, but she had full access to much of the public, above ground network. The lights indicating the status of Seth's team remained three yellow and one green. Sybela was already in place wherever her 'den' was, while the men were moving into position around the Oro's main base of operations. Keiko eventually decided on network programming to pass the time, not wanting to distract anyone as they worked. It was easier than sitting alone in the silence and wondering if what she was doing was the right thing, if she really belonged there in that shrine instead of back home in the palace, where she would wish Idris and his men farewell and the blessings of humanity. She navigated first to the palace's public news program, where a well dressed tigress and rhinoceros were reporting on the aftermath of the Sekhama's raid on the Trang'aul. She watched the scrolling headlines at the bottom of the screen, unsurprised to see her own name there. Lady Keiko's whereabouts remain unknown despite law enforcement's best efforts. Any citizen with information regarding her disappearance is urged to contact the police or the palace authorities via- Keiko switched the channel, wondering what Idris would do with the knowledge she was alive once his raid was concluded, assuming it even happened. She stopped on a local news network, one from a city far outside the influence of the capital. A monsoon festival was being held in a town deep in the desert, a refuge for jerboas, springhares, hyraxes, and other smaller rodent species that tended to find the towering buildings and sprawling neighborhoods of the capital to be too large and stifling. Against a backdrop of dwellings carved into an enormous face of rock, lined with wires and lights, the populace celebrated the return of the rains. It brought a smile to Keiko's face knowing that elsewhere things were still alright, at least on the surface. A few more channels of pointless programming or advertisement landed Keiko on a cooking show, where an animated bat-eared fox was instructing viewers on how to create a stir fry of synth meat, vegetables, and noodles. Keiko sat back in Seth's chair and allowed herself to get absorbed in the program. It wasn't so much that she cared for synth meat, but the fox was entertaining to watch as she flitted around her kitchen, chopping and seasoning and sauteing with practiced ease. Keiko learned many things in the palace, history and politics, humanity and the uplift of her planet, language and the arts, literature and science, horticulture and the entertainment of foreign dignitaries. She even learned more than a few things her parents wouldn't have approved of from Idris, the Matriarch, and her handmaidens. Cooking, however, was never something she'd had the time or need to pick up. Watching the host deftly wield her knife and wok was intriguing, and Keiko had every reason to believe the 'old ways', cooking without the aid of automated equipment, were responsible for both the food she'd grown up on in the palace and the simple pleasure that was the ramen she'd enjoyed with Seth the other day. Before she knew it an hour had passed and the walls of the shrine had changed to reflect the subtle orange hues of early evening. Talon's indicator switched to green. "All set here. Thanks, buns! Think you can optimize a couple systems for them while you're at it? I'd like to keep my stellar reputation; these server floors always make perfect nests. Nice and cool, good sight lines, low foot traffic. I suppose sometimes I need to take out a wall but no big deal, right? Woah hey, what's the deal with this? Who's the new guy? Sunburst? What kind of pansy ass code is that? Damnit Seth, I thought you were done with this secret shit, " Talon's excitable voice came over the line. "Would you shut up, bird brain, " Sybela countered. "He and Argos are still moving. You talk too much, by the way. " "Wait, you're telling me you're not curious as to why the team of four is suddenly five? " "No, because I already know. Now do you wanna shut up and let me help you maintain your cover story, Mr. network technician? " "What?! " Talon squawked. "Yes or no, chicken legs?! " Keiko couldn't help a fit of giggles as Talon groaned in frustration. "Alright fine. This is fucking bullshit by the way. I'm in the Murukama industries building, server floor between fifty two and fifty three. " "Yeah I've got your trace, give me physical access, would you? I'm sure I can clean up a few drives or something, " Sybela muttered, her voice changing to one of a rabbit deep in concentration as opposed to bantering. "I should hope so. You're the one who knocked them out and got me 'hired' today. " Keiko could practically hear Sybela rolling her eyes over the line. "And if you would pipe down for two seconds I'd be done with we go. Tell them on the way out you optimized their internal traffic hub. They should see an increase in network efficiency somewhere in the low single digits. Honestly you should learn this yourself, Talon. It's really not that hard, " Sybela admonished. To Keiko's surprise the cassowary laughed. "And when you learn to nail a target at five hundred meters you can do this yourself, " he replied with no small measure of pride. "Your gun is bigger than my body, Talon. " "I had to reinforce my skeleton with titanium alloy so the recoil wouldn't shatter my shoulder. You just got a pretty new eye. And while we're on the subject, I'll have you know that my so called chicken legs have gutted men a lot tougher than you. " Keiko chose that moment to activate her own line, ensuring her voice was garbled. "You two should get a room when this is over. " ", " Sybela declined flatly. "Didn't know you were already on, Sunburst. How's things? " "Now that you and Talon are putting on your little show, a bit more lively. How can there be so many channels and almost nothing to watch? " "Problem as old as life itself, " Sybela chuckled. "Wait for it…" "Yo newbie, what's with the voice? Who the hell are you anyway? " "There it is, " Sybela chimed happily. Keiko imagined herself talking with some of the rank and file Sekhama, the gruff, fun loving boys in the palace employ. "An idealistic individual with deep pockets, I believe your friend described me as? I'm here to observe your performance and ensure my money is well spent. " The only sound from the line was the occasional burst of static. Sybela seemed content to let Talon stew in the hole he'd dug for himself. "Can't say I've ever seen an employer piggyback on an op like this before, " the sniper eventually replied, his voice more level and professional now. "Please don't censor yourself on my account, " Keiko replied. "The circles I frequent tend to be full of individuals who are cautious with their every word. Your, let's call it, is refreshing. You can say most whatever you'd like if you prove as competent as Seth assured me you are. " "You're my kind of woman, Sunburst, " Sybela declared. "I think you'll be satisfied with " Talon spluttered as the two females shared a chuckle. "Wait you'…that wasn't some cover or a joke? You're actually some rich chick with a fetish for dead mnyama? " "Never change, Talon. But keep it in your pants. I think Seth's already got it in for her, " Sybela encouraged deviously. "Yo man, this is seriously bullshit, " the sniper sighed. "Oh come on, Talon, let him have one. You know all he ever gets is the virtual crap, " Sybela opined. "Easy for you to say, buns, you already had your go with him, " Talon replied dejectedly. "Besides, there ain't that many cute fluffy chicks who " "Suddenly I feel like I shouldn't be here, " Keiko admitted, feeling a twinge of sympathy for the two male mercenaries who both found themselves limited in their amorous exploits by the peculiarities of their species. "If you are who I think you are, don't go anywhere. You're in the right place. I enjoy an employer who takes an active role in an operation, " came Argos' deep, smooth voice. "I'm in position guys. I've got a nice rooftop a couple blocks away. They have a garden up here with the solar arrays. It's peaceful, reminds me of home. And Talon, I keep telling you to just go for it, man. You've been to The Oasis and all the rest. Everyone's into something in this city. " "Easy for you to say, " Talon replied. "You're like some giant fluff magnet. " "What can I say? " Argos asked with a hint of levity. "I don't have the badge anymore but I've still got a Sekhama's body. That training routine gets beaten into you. " They all paused as Keiko let out an involuntary gasp. "You're ex-Sekhama? " She demanded. Acquiring that tidbit alone meant she probably knew exactly who Argos was. If not her, then Idris surely would know. The mercenary hummed. "I am. Me and the former captain didn't see eye to eye on certain things. That Octavia is much more my type, fights fire with fire. But what's done is done. I'm surprised at your reaction, if you don't mind my saying. Any chance the Sekhama's finally caved and begun hiring mercs? You don't seem to hate them. " Keiko's reply was stalled as Seth's light turned green and his voice joined in. "She's here to review us for the moment, Argos. Perhaps in the future the two of you can discuss Sekhama matters. Talon, Sybela, Argos, all green? " Affirmative replies came from their lines, drawing a contented sigh from Seth. "Very well. Now all there is to do is wait and hope the esteemed Idris Octavia will grace us with his presence this evening. Sybela, any word on air traffic? " "I'm trying, Seth, but you know as well as I do that even if they go aerial I might not know about it. A ton of that activity is still analog, clever bastards. " "The old ways are sometimes the best ways, " Argos echoed sagely. "Though I enjoy a magicite detonator just as much as the next guy. " "Yes Argos, we all know about your love for explosions. Shame you're such a damn softie otherwise, " Sybela teased. "My vows are more important to me than having a taste of jackrabbit, Sybela. Besides, I'd be putting Alex out of work, and I believe in supporting local economies. " Seth and Talon got in a good chuckle at Sybela's expense while the rabbit grumbled about noble cats and their wedding rings. Keiko had remained silent throughout, happy to sit back and understand the dynamics of the team of guns for hire she'd been dropped into. That was until Seth called her out. "So, Sunburst, care to keep us entertained while we wait? " The human asked expectantly, still channeling some of the bravado of the man that had kissed her earlier. "If you want entertainment you can look up some nude holos on the network, Seth. No one will even know behind that mask of yours, " she replied, causing Talon to whistle appreciatively. "But I suppose you and Argos don't have the luxury of climate control at the moment. Any requests, gentlemen? And for the moment I use that term loosely. " "Well Seth, I can't say I've been particularly bored since joining up with you. Never cease to surprise, " Argos said thoughtfully. "Now, much as I'm sure Talon and Sybela would enjoy the idea of nude holos, I find myself more interested in who or what you are, mysterious benefactor. " "Someone who detests the mnyama, " Keiko replied. "Anything more you may get a chance to learn in person, depending on what transpires tonight. I'm sure Talon will enjoy this immensely, but I'd prefer to get to know you instead. I've met Seth and Sybela, to an extent, but I'd like to understand the other half of the team I'" "Joined? Seth, is this just misplaced words or am I missing something? " Argos demanded curiously. "In any case, what a pleasing woman; 'entertaining' a man by asking him to talk about himself? I daresay I might even feel young again. " Keiko found herself smiling genuinely, drawn in by Argos' demeanor and tone. "Argos, let's just say that were it not for Sunburst, her influence, and certain risks that she chose to take, we would not be where we are at this moment, nor would the Sekhama be plotting against the Oro, " Seth clarified. "Damn, seriously? She's in that deep? " Talon chirped. He sounded impressed. "He's telling the truth, I was there when it went down, " Sybela added. "Seth, I assume that secondary spike is in place? " "It is, but you won't exactly be hidden when you access their networks, not with that kind of brute force. Try to wait until Octavia is banging on the door. " "I know how to do my job, Seth, " Sybela shot back testily. Keiko could practically envision the confident grin on the rabbit's face as she carried on. "Anyway, I think Sunburst makes a fair request. She knows about Seth and me already. Your turn boys. " “Nothing to know about me. I shoot and I kill, ” Talon replied with a sigh. “And then get shot down by women at the bar. ” “Talon, that sort of self-deprecation is more unattractive than any sort of weird human-avian hybrid junk you might have going on downstairs, ” Seth cut in, his tone indicating to Keiko that Talon’s pattern of behavior was well established. “Whatever man, that’s all I gotta say. My dick ain't any of your business. Long as I kill who she tells me to kill what does it matter? ” Talon’s perspective had Keiko frowning sadly, finding the excitable sniper much more attractive when he was conversing with other men. He was right though. It wasn't any of her business, and she didn’t press the matter. Argos took the silence as his green light. “You already know both of my most defining attributes I believe, Sunburst. I’m ex-Sekhama, a demolitions specialist. And as I mentioned to our unlucky in love sniper, I’m happily married with family. ” “That too normal for a mercenary if you don’t mind my saying, ” Keiko ventured. “I would agree were it not for the fact that those two aspects of my life came together in the worst possible way, ” Argos said sadly. Keiko tried to think back, back to when she was young. “The Yakami ward hostage situation…” she eventually whispered. Seth and Sybela both made unbelieving whistling noises. Argos growled. “You are very well you have a quick mind, Sunburst. Yes, they found my family and took them. The captain of the Sekhama at the time refused to act, so I went myself with every ounce of magicite I could carry. ” “A lot of people died, ” Keiko said quietly, remembering the reports of death tolls from collapsed buildings, detonations, and shrapnel. “And if I had had the support of my brothers and my captain it would have been us who died, not those innocents! " Argos insisted with righteous fury. "I did the best I could with what I had, which was a lot of explosives and a handful of bullets. I will go to hell for what I did. I’ll never know the gentle light of humanity when I pass on. But my children have a chance to die old now, and my wife still lives, ” he finished, his tone never wavering. Keiko remembered the broadcasts and palace reports clear as day. A couple dozen civilians and about a hundred mnyama had died at his hands, and somehow he’d saved his family in the midst of all the rubble and chaos. In no world were his actions justified from the perspective of the crown or its enforcers, but Keiko understood just how little such things might mean to a father. “I will never condone the murder of innocents, Argos, but the demons of hell will be most impressed by your abilities when you join them, ” Keiko eventually responded. He laughed back with a certain finality in his voice. “She must have known I’d come in my own ielded the little ones with her body when the roof caved in. It saved them from the shrapnel and magicka but she…wouldn’t you know it, talking with some disembodied voice about your paralyzed wife is a hell of a lot easier than doing so in person, isn't it? Back when she could walk she had a garden like this one, ” he concluded, sounding a bit choked up. “And you’re afraid of what girls will think of your penis?! ” Keiko suddenly shrieked, catching the entire squad off guard. Seth and Sybela began laughing hysterically while Argos hummed in thought. “She may have you there, Talon. But take it easy on him, Sunburst. I’m blessed with family, such as it is. I had my time. All suffering is relative. ” “You don’t have to justify anything, ” Sybela cut in affectionately. “Argos, you’ve said more than enough, it’s fine…you big, striped softie. ” “I know, Ears, and it’s not like I’m going to tell our newest friend where they are or what names they use or anything like that, ” Argos affirmed. “Hey, if I can’t find them anymore, she won’t be able to, ” Sybela declared confidently. “Thanks again for that, ” Argos offered emotionally. “Anytime, you big fuzzball. ” It was at that moment when everything clicked inside Keiko’s head. The name, the deed, the man. “To think you actually run around using your real name as your callsign. Well I suppose I can’t say I would expect anything less of Argos Entana, the most infamous name in the history of the Sekhama. Were it not for the crown’s price on your head and the weight of your sins…I might bow to you instead. There is that 'fetish' I have for dead mnyama to take into consideration, ” the princess said seductively, wondering how she sounded on the other end of the voice modulation. It wasn’t her intention to show romantic interest, but she couldn’t think of a better way to show her admiration. Entana was something of a forbidden hero among the Sekhama, and she suspected the sheer size of his mnyama body count, to say nothing of his successful rescue of his family, was the reason Idris Octavia had devoted only token resources to tracking him down once he’d fled underground, and the prior commander of the anti-terrorist force had resigned in shame. The loss of innocent life that day had been terrible, but Argos' argument regarding the urgency of action held water with the benefit of hindsight. The tiger faunum seemed to have gathered himself back together, returning Keiko's praise with a low chuckle. “I’ll settle for a cold beer once we’re done tonight. Seth, where in the name of humanity did you find someone so open-minded and familiar with the Sekhama who doesn't want to round us all up for prosecution? ” “Even I have my secrets, Argos, though nothing compared to yours. Let’s stay focused, the sun has already set, ” Seth advised. Keiko looked around her, only now noticing that the walls of the shrine had dimmed and begun to glow a dull reddish-orange. The conversation had indeed passed the time. “Let’s just hope Octavia actually shows, ” Talon quipped. “This floor isn’t exactly the most comfortable thing in the world. ” “I wouldn’t worry too much about him, ” Argos replied. “If I know Octavia at all, and I’d like to think I still do, he’ll be here tonight and we’ll have front row seats to a slaughter. ” “Alright, I take back what I said about you being a giant fuzzball, ” Sybela said with a shudder. “Could you maybe tone down the bloodlust just a bit? ” “If there’s anything in this world I love more than my wife and children, Sybela, it’s killing mnyama. Seth, you sure we can’t join in the fun? ” “Would you like to meet your maker in a hundred pieces at the end of Octavia’s sidearm? If so, be my guest, ” the human replied with little concern. “Don’t be alarmed, Sunburst, he enjoys getting paid and drinking too. He won't get himself killed. ” “Then ensure the Sekhama arrive safely tonight, ” Keiko ordered. “I can promise you a hell of a lot more than a beer. ” ----- [Previous] p | [First] f.
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Satan approached, with his court ranged behind him. Kali and Sebine followed a couple of paces behind him, and the Four Horsemen followed a short distance behind them. Good. I hoped the way that I had arranged our court suggested a united front instead of a dictator and their subjects. I have to admit, you guys, Satan was an impressive and terrifying sight. I struggled to keep an impassive face. He was tall, the tallest denizen of Hell that I had encountered, even taller than Lucifer. His skin was a brighter red than my friends’, and where theirs tended to deepen to a bruised purple in the folds and wrinkles, his was black. It was jarring. His eyes had no pupils that I could see, and were completely black. His horns were massive, and curled like the Enforcers, like a ram. His leathery head was bald, and slightly scaly. Flames occasionally danced along his horns. His chest was bare, and roped with thick muscle. I wondered if he had hooves. Given that he was wearing boots, I figured probably not. He grinned maliciously at me as he came to a stop. His mouth was lined with rows of razor sharp teeth. Shit. That little voice in the back of my head- you know the one, most people call it common sense- said to me, ‘well, you did your best. Good effort, now we need to get the fuck out of here. Come on, turn around and fly. You can do it. Let’s go. ’ As per usual, I ignored it. I took a step forward, smiled politely, and offered my hand to shake. Oh shit, what if he took it? Would it burn? I tensed myself, ready for anything, and said, “Pleasure to meet you, your Majesty. My name is Katie, and I am Lucifer’s Queen. ” Staring at me intently, he took my hand. Phew. Unpleasantly warm, but not burning. But then he did that annoying alpha male thing where he tried to crush my hand in his grasp. I maintained my polite smile, squeezed back hard, briefly, and pulled my hand quickly out of his grasp, being careful not to flex it and betray discomfort. He smiled sardonically, and said, “The pleasure is all mine, Human. I have to admit, I have been… dying… to meet you for quite some time now. I have watched the effect you seem to have on my nephew and my children, and it is quite fascinating. ” He tilted his head. “Tell me, was it blood magic, or sex? ” His voice was coarse, yet at the same time smooth. Like old cracked leather. It rolled across me like an avalanche carrying boulders in its wake. I heard Chris draw in a sharp breath. I ignored him and instead asked, “Your nephew? ” With a quizzical smile. “Lucifer. ” Satan enunciated clearly, and waited for my reaction. I narrowed my eyes, briefly, trying to process the implications of that statement. I decided that was a rabbit hole I didn’t have the time or mental capacity for. I shoved the panicked ideas down, and replied coolly, “Huh. No one told me you were God’s brother. ” Why had no one told me he was God’s brother?! I feel like that was probably crucial information. I made a mental note to kick everyone’s arse later. I was surprised to note that Kali and Sebine looked just as shocked as I felt. Satan seemed a little taken aback by my lack of reaction, but quickly recovered. “Mmm. ” He confirmed offhandedly. “Tell me, Human. I am very curious, and not much in this existence makes me curious. How did you ensnare these… lesser beings? Blood magic, surely? Perhaps a combination of blood and sex magic. It must have been quite… tiring… taking control of them all. ” He eyed me up and down, leering at me. I felt like I’d been rolled in dog shit. Ew. “That is not only my mother you are addressing, but your superior’s Queen. I suggest you treat her with respect. Your Majesty. ” I was so proud of Lucas’ nonchalant tone. Nice work, kid. Satan shifted his gaze to my son. “My grand- nephew. ” He said slowly. “How… interesting. Tell me, where is your father, boy? ” Lucas gazed at him steadily. “You may call me Prince Lucas, Great Uncle. ” Suddenly, Satan roared, and the flames on his horns leapt. Lucas grimaced, but managed to stop himself from flinching backwards. So proud. “Lucifer is busy. He was certain that Lucas and I could sort this out. So now that introductions have been made, your Majesty, perhaps we could get down to business. ” I interjected in a bored tone. “And what business would that be, Human? ” Satan sneered. I looked him square in the eye, and said confidently, “Why, your apology, of course. ” He blinked. “What? ” He demanded in a dangerous tone. “Your apology. ” I repeated it slowly. “That’s why we are here, after all. To hear your apology and relay it to my King. Also, you will stop referring to me as ‘Human. ’ Clearly, it is no longer correct. ” I snapped my wings open then closed again quickly. “What am I apologising for, Human? ” He said it softly, menacingly. I raised an eyebrow, and otherwise ignored him. He glared at me furiously. “ANSWER ME! ” His voice cracked like a whip with that same authority that I’d occasionally heard Lucifer and the others use. That I wielded now myself, I reminded myself sternly. He repeated himself, louder this time. The words stung like knives on my skin. I was aware of both Sera and Lucas bracing themselves harder with a small gasp on either side of me. I smiled the same small smile that usually made Lucifer glare at the ceiling in frustration with me. It worked. Satan didn’t seem to be one for ceiling staring, however. He roared at me, long and loud. Flames leapt in existence along his arms and shoulders. He peeled his lips back and showed me his rows and rows of teeth. I noticed his court take a cautious step backwards, before black spots started dancing in my vision. Refusing to give ground, I snapped my wings forward and around me, protecting my face. My court followed suit, Seth turning to one side to use his good wing, and Chris stepped behind Sera. It felt like my wings were being buffeted. Thankfully, they didn’t sting as my skin had done in response. My head throbbed, and my vision danced. My existence narrowed to one repeated thought: “Do not move. Do not move. ” I couldn’t tell you how long Satan roared for. Eventually though, my awareness increased outside of my own mind. My vision returned to normal, and while my head still ached a little bit, otherwise I felt normal. I gave myself an extra moment to compose my expression, then folded my wings back behind me with a snap, loud enough for my court to hear. Chris resumed his place at Sera’s side, Seth straightened, and everyone folded their wings back in unison, as if we’d rehearsed. I stared at Satan levelly. “If you are QUITE done bellowing like a wounded bull. ” I snipped testily, hands on hips. “Why did you not answer me? ” He still sounded angry, but as if he was trying hard to control himself. I counted that as a win. “Oh, were you talking to me? ” I feigned surprise, and raised my hands to my mouth briefly, before allowing them to drop back to my sides. “I’m sorry, it’s just you kept saying ‘Human’, and well, ” I glanced at my court with a slight giggle, “there’s no humans here! ” Sera’s lip twitched, and I had the impression that everyone was prepared to take cover again. Satan breathed hard, glaring at me. I met his gaze coolly. Suddenly he grinned viciously. “I shall call you whore then, since you are my nephew’s whore. ” My companions bristled, but held their places. I made a show of patting my pockets and looking around. Satan was nonplussed. Eventually, Sera asked, “May I be of assistance, my Queen? ” I don’t think the last part was emphasised for me. “Hmm? Oh, I was just looking for a pen and paper. Anyone have any? ” I looked around. I could tell my companions were confused, but went with my theatrics anyway. They all shook their heads silently, eyes sparkling with the effort of maintaining straight faces. I shrugged, and turned back to Satan. “I just wanted to make a note to tell Lucifer, and tell him he owes me” I smirked lasciviously at him, “a fuckton of cash. ” I looked around Lucas at Seth. “Should I claim interest as well? I’ve been gone for a while. ” “Absolutely, my Queen. And danger pay, I would expect. Some of the things you two got up to, phew. ” He kept staring straight ahead at Satan as he spoke. “Honestly, I don’t think anyone here is surprised that I fuck Lucifer. That’s not really news. Hang on, wait? Do you not fuck your Queen? Is that why she is so cranky? ” I tilted my head at him questioningly, and looked from him to Kali. Her face seethed with rage. How very satisfying. Lucas let out a tiny strangled noise beside me. Sorry, kid. Satan didn’t reply, just gaped at me. I didn’t give him time to recover. “If we are quite done with insults and theatrics. Yes, this is Lucifer’s son. Yes, I am his mother and Lucifer’s Queen. Yes, that does mean that we” (stage whisper) “ have sex. And as far as what binds everyone to me… Well, I never thought I’d ever quote My Little Pony to Satan himself, but it’s the magic of friendship. Arsehole. ” Kali’s grey eyes flashed, and Sebine looked about ready to attack. Satan glared at me. I continued. “Despite your appalling lack of courtesy, I will still allow you to present your apology to us. Go ahead. ” I smiled graciously. For a moment Satan continued to glare at me, then began to laugh uproariously. He clutched his sides, and doubled over. His court regarded him, confused. Finally he straightened, wiped his eyes and said, “Apology. That is funny. ” He gave another little chuckle, before becoming completely serious. “You have surprised me… ex human. So I will grant you this. You may relay my terms to Lucifer. Next meeting will be the last, however. And if he doesn’t show himself, then we go to war to extract our satisfaction. ” I looked at him quizzically. “For? ” The flames on his horns danced harder, but he kept himself under control. He spoke in clipped tones. “The kidnapping of my daughter, my 2IC, and her subsequent torture. ” I didn’t look at Sebine, but I noted in my periphery that she was smirking at Sera. I cocked my head at Satan. “That truly does sound awful, I’m terribly sorry that happened to her. Who was it? ” “What? ” He was incredulous. “Who kidnapped her? I agree, that was totally crossing a line. Tell me who it was, we will see to it that they are punished. And avoid any loss of life here, what do you say? ” He blinked at me, totally confused. “It… it was you. And my traitorous children there. ” He spat that last part with venom. “And I will not tolerate the insult of Lucifer’s entire court taking one of my own. ” I leaned around to him to look directly at Sebine. She glared back at me, a small smile playing on her face, and raised an eyebrow at me. “Sebine. ” I stretched the word out slowly, then wagged my finger at her. “Have you been telling lies, baby? ” She snarled, and ran towards me. Sera stepped in front of me, drawing her sword in one practiced motion. Satan roared at Sebine. Wow, really? His own daughter and he couldn’t even spare, like, real words? I felt deeply sorry for her for a moment. Then an image of Seth screaming on the ground as that bitch ground her feet into his broken wing flitted across my mind. Yeah, nah, I was good then. Sebine pulled herself up with an obvious effort, and stood panting beside Satan. Sera sheathed her sword and stepped back into her place at my side, gazing expressionlessly at the two of them. “What is she talking about, Sebine? ” Satan’s voice was cold. Sebine shrugged, and shot a poisonous glare at me. “Answer me. ” He roared at her, and she cowered. I smothered the small flicker of pity I felt for her. “Father… Your Majesty…” I watched in satisfaction as she floundered for words. She turned her head away from him for a moment, to smirk at me. When she turned back, a single tear rolled down her face. Oh, that bitch was good. “Sebastian held me, while Sera cut me, Father. ” Satan started to fume. Kali smiled coldly. It occurred to me that she knew the full story. It was angels who had taught humans to lie, after all. I started to laugh. I couldn’t help myself. Sera shifted nervously. I saw Satan draw a deep breath, and quickly raised my hand. “Sorry, sorry. ” I dragged myself under control. “It’s just that… Well my friends always told me how lying was such an unattractive habit, a dirty human thing I guess. Now here we are, and Satan’s Queen is lying through her teeth, and his 2IC is lying by omission. You guys, I should have stayed in practice. ” I glanced around at my companions. Sebastian gave me a brittle, ironic smile. “Tell him the whole, story, baby. ” I spat the words coldly at Sebine. She stalked towards me, and I stepped to meet her. “He knows! ” She hissed at me. Yeah, what does he know, you slimy little cow? I caught her eyes with my own. “Tell Satan the whole truth about what happened with us, baby. ” She bared her teeth at me. I took a massive gamble. I glared at her intensely, gathered my thoughts, and let my newfound power ring out through my voice. “TELL HIM THE TRUTH! ” My voice rolled across the landscape, and Satan’s court staggered in surprise. Sebine’s face turned as pale as Chris’ had been earlier. She looked into my eyes, terrified, as she spoke loudly and clearly. “I went with them of my own free will, father. I helped them. I… I deserved this, because I hurt Seth. Badly. ” She snarled at me as the power of my compulsion wore off. I smiled benevolently, and turned to Satan, with my hands spread. “The issue seems to be resolved, your Majesty. ” I spoke cheerfully. He ignored me. Here. ” She whimpered slightly as she went to him. When she reached him, he backhanded her across the face, hard. She flew backwards. No one moved to help her up. He looked into my eyes, hatred obvious in those deep black pools. “Your Majesty. ” He spat the words. “It seems my court has betrayed me. ” They all flinched behind him. “Please convey to Lucifer that this was all a misunderstanding. What is it humans say? No harm, no foul? ” I smiled warmly. “I’m sure that Lucifer will be glad to hear it. I certainly am. Just… one last thing, if you please, Your Majesty. ” He raised an eyebrow. “What? ” He snapped. I could hear Sera breathing harder beside me. I smiled warmly. “All I want is an apology. ” Everyone gasped. Lucas said quietly, “Mum…” in a warning tone. I held up my hand imperiously. “All I want, your Majesty, is an apology for our Second Lord. ” Satan flicked his eyes to Seth in confusion. “What do you want me to apologise to that traitorous dog for? ” He spoke derisively. “No! ” My voice snapped authoritatively. I was *this* close to losing my temper. I calmed myself with a struggle. “I would appreciate it, your Majesty, if you could extend my court the same courtesy we have yours. ” “ Your court? ” Shit. Had I said that? Bluff your way through, Katie. I stared at him levelly. Satan smirked at me, before saying, “Fine. What does your Second Lord require an apology from me for? ” I laughed gently. “Oh, no, your Majesty. Not from you. From her. ” I gestured nonchalantly at Sebine. Satan’s eyes widened in surprise, before he chuckled. “You’re impossible. You risk… everything… to try to extract an apology, for what? A little sibling tiff? Ridiculous. ” I cocked my head. “Respectfully, your Majesty, but no. I risk everything to ensure MY court receive the respect they are due. More importantly, I risk everything for my friends. I’m told that’s what makes me…. Remarkable. ” He nodded thoughtfully, giving me a measuring look. ” He snapped. She made her way over, clearly unwilling. “Yes? ” Her tone was sullen. Satan backhanded her again, never taking his eyes from mine. Fresh blood poured from her nose. She gasped, and tried again. “Yes, my Lord? ” “Better. Apologise to your brother. ” He barked at her. “Father! ” She squawked. “APOLOGISE! ” He roared. She stalked over to Seth, her eyes spitting fire. She stopped in front of him, so close that he had to bend his neck to look down at her shorter form. A small smile played on his lips. “I am sorry, brother dear. ” Her tone was anything but apologetic. He wrapped her in a bear hug, while she wriggled and squirmed, trying to get away. “Oh, thank you, thank you, sister dear! ” He exclaimed, holding her tight. He let her go and held her at arms’ length, then spoke coldly and expressionlessly. “I’ll think of you when I fly around in circles. ” He shoved her back towards Satan, who laughed savagely as she stumbled. “Are we done here? ” His tone suggested that we’d better be. I smiled warmly at him. “I believe so. ” He smiled coldly back at me, and gave me a sarcastic bow. “Oh, just one more thing. ” I said quickly. “Oh for fucks sake. ” Sera couldn’t control herself this time. Satan glanced at her, before asking in a flat tone, “What. ” I looked past him to Sebine’s disheleved form. “Baby? ” I called in a singsong voice. “Oh baby? ” She spun to face me, hatred etched in every line of her face. I didn’t give her a chance to speak. “If you decide to join us at the next Questioning, there’s a place for you at our Court. As my handmaid. ” Satan roared with laughter, and shook his finger at me, before turning and sweeping his court before him, back towards his army. I turned to my companions, and indicated that we should leave. I leapt into the air, and they all followed wordlessly. We touched down near my- OUR- army. Lucas put Seth down quickly, and exclaimed, “Ugh. I need a shower. You two are gross. ” He waved his finger and me and Seth. “’Danger pay. ’ For the last time, I don’t want to hear that stuff about my mum! ” Everyone laughed, and Lucas scowled around at us, before joining in. ”Uh, my Queen? ” Daniel diffidently asked for my attention. “Yes? ” I asked him with a smile. I stifled a yawn. Man, I was so tired. “Um, how did the talks go? ” “Oh! Of course! I’m sorry! ” I turned to face the army. “Attention please! ” They stood up straighter, talk quietened, and they looked at me. I felt a little lost for words, to be honest. That’s not like me. Huh. I rose a few feet into the air. I told myself it was so everyone could see me, not because I was sick of everyone down here towering over me, and I wanted the confidence boost from being taller for once. “Luciferians! ” I exclaimed. “First, I want to thank you all for your service to me” oops- “and our King. Your loyalty has not gone unnoticed. As for the talks with Satan, we were successful. There will be no war. ” Cheers erupted, and they started to chant, “Hail Queen Katie! ” I was overwhelmed. Suddenly it occurred to me that there were many demons before me, and logic would suggest that they had friends and family on Satan’s side. Civil war obviously had not been a popular option. I filed that information away for later. I held my hands up for silence. “We will wait here until they have disbanded, just to make certain. They arrived first, they should leave first, no? ” Murmurs and nods of assent. “I’ll leave you in Lord Chris’ capable hands, and take the remainder of the Court to relay the good news to our King. Thank you all again. ” Once again, the army cheered. Not gunna lie, it felt pretty good. I returned to the ground, and smiled at my friends. They looked at me thoughtfully. “You good with that, Chris? ” I asked, belatedly I guess. He rolled his eyes at me and nodded. “Shall we then, dear ones? ” Lucas picked up Seth again, and we all rose into the air and started winging our way back to Lucifer’s residence. As we landed outside, I rounded on my friends. “Now that we’re in private, WHY THE FUCK DID YOU NOT TELL ME THAT SATAN IS GOD’S BROTHER? ” The temper that I’d been working so hard to hold in spilled out, and I glared at everyone, hands on hips. “We, uh. ” Sera swallowed. “We didn’t know, your Majesty. ” I glared hard at her and stepped closer, saying quietly and dangerously, “I told you not to call me that in private. ” Seth stepped between us, and held my arm without looking at me. “That’s enough, you need a nap, you cranky little bitch. ” Sera’s eyes widened, and suddenly I was deeply ashamed of myself. How had I let things get to a point to where one of my oldest friends was afraid of my reactions? I felt tears sting my eyes. “Fuck you, Seth. ” My heart wasn’t in it. “Promises, promises. ” He quipped, and looked me in the eye. I burst into tears. Dammit. I sank to the ground, and let all the fears and frustrations of the past few days flow. Seth sat cross legged on the ground in front of me, and everyone else stood around awkwardly. I drew my knees up to my chest, wrapped my wings around myself, and cried and cried. “We might be here a while, guys. May as well get comfortable. ” Seth’s voice sounded like it came from far away. Eventually, I peeked out from between my wings, occasional sobs still wracking my body. “I’m sorry, you guys. I’m sorry. I never meant... ” I gulped. “I’m sorry. ” I closed my wings and cried a bit more. “Does she do this often? ” Sera sounded alarmed. Lucas answered, “Ah, no. But then again I’d never seen her lose her temper before Seth arrived. Or have a boyfriend. It’s ah… it’s all new territory for me. ” He finished wryly. “She’ll be fine. Just give her a minute. ” Seth said it gently. “Why is she crying? ” Sebastian sounded confused. “She got her way. ” Seth chuckled, before gently but forcefully pulling my wings apart and pulling me into his arms. I buried my head in his chest and cried harder. “I’m not sure you’ve noticed, but our Queen tends to get a bit… one track minded about, well, everything. Then, when she’s finished bulldozing her way through a situation, sometimes it occurs to her that perhaps she’s been… less than pleasant to live with along the way. ” “I’m a fucking bitch! ” I wailed. “Well that’s not news! ” Sebastian exclaimed. I couldn’t help but laugh through my tears, and managed to get myself under control. I pushed myself away from Seth and wiped my eyes. “Seriously guys, I’m sorry for how I behaved to you. ” I looked guiltily around at everyone. To my surprise, they smiled affectionately back at me, even Sebastian. It was him that answered me. “We should know by now that… Well, your methods are absolutely confusing to us, but you always get your way, and most of the times that coincides with what we want too. ” “Is that supposed to make me feel better? Because that sucked. ” I glared at him, then winked. “Come on. ” Lucas said, pulling me to my feet. “Let’s go see if… Dad is awake. I can’t wait to watch you tell him you seized control of his army. ” “You did what now? ” The sound of his voice, although alarmed, soothed a concern I hadn’t allowed myself to consider. The smell of hot cinnamon donuts and rain after a hot day filled my nostrils. I launched myself into his arms, then held him at arms’ length and examined him. He didn’t look great, but then again, he wasn’t dead, so I decided it was a win. I patted his face condescendingly. “Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it, Lucifer, my love. Everything is under control. I took control of your Court and your army and sorted everything out. I’m the Queen of all Hell now, so you can take up a hobby. Maybe knitting? ” His eyes grew progressively wider, and by the end of my statement he was spluttering and looking around wildly. And you know what? It’s good to be Queen, bitches!
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Watch and then we danced movie. I would marry this broad in a minute. And Then We Danced watch blog. Yeah? Can you turn down the music. What? Can you turn down the music! I'm trying to get some sleep here! Turn down the music? How's that! How's that. Is that much better? Turn down your damn music, or I'll come over there and turn it down myself! All right, sucker. You come down here, we can dance. Hello? Hello? Bitch! When I don't get enough sleep, I get irritable. And you don't want to make me - 'Calling VAGAN' Wait! Who are you? Just a bean trying to get some sleep. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! You came here just to make us turn off the music? If you were listening on the phone, I said I would come here to turn it off myself. What! Are you insane?! Do you know what you just got yourself into? Do you know who I am! Do you know who my uncle is?! Yes. I do. Detective Cromwell. Good morning. Yeah. Something tells me there's nothing good about this morning. What do we got here? Multiple gunshots were reported coming from this warehouse. I was the first one to answer the call. Multiple gunshots, huh. You do know whose warehouse this is. Yes, sir. Have you gone inside yet? No, sir. I wanted to wait for backup. Well. It's here. My God. What a massacre. There's got to be a dozen, at least a dozen dead beans here. I guess I don't need this anymore. These were all Cappuccino's beans. Mm-hmm. It must have been some kind of gang war. No. This is no gang war. Cappuccino's beans might be dumb, but they know how to use a gun. There would have been other dead beans here, not just them. This something else. One thing's for sure. We won't need that search warrant we were trying to get, huh. Heh. I could live with this. I found something here. 'This bullet casing is the property of Killer Bean' Killer Bean 'The bullet is meant for someone else' Hmm. What do you make of this? This guy's got balls. That's for sure. We got company! Let's go! Stop! Stop right there! This is the police! Hold it right there! Bad idea. Get out of the car! Get your hands where I can see them! Easy... Easy... Oh please, officer. Don't hurt me. Watch it. Vagan. I should have known I'd find you here, Detective Cromwell. What are you doing here, Vagan? Well, obviously something happened in my warehouse. I mean, can't a bean protect his own property anymore? Don't you mean, Cappuccino's property? You know, your obsession with Cappuccino has become quite amusing. Always trying to link everything back to Cappuccino. Why don't you tell it to the court. You're under arrest. Arrest? For what? A traffic violation? What about this? Looking for some action here? If I were looking for some action, you wouldn't be standing before me as you do right now. Yeah? That's cause I'd be shooting you with this! Are you kids done yet? I say we take him in and book him right now. You know my lawyers will have me out even before you get me to the police station. The time is not worth your effort, now is it Cromwell. Let him go. What?! I said let him go. Uh, my gun please. Nice... You know, Vagan, you're right. You're not worth my time. However, investigating the multiple homicides in your warehouse is. And whatever else we find in your warehouse, is just icing on the cake. You're free to go. And by the way, your car's parked illegally. You better get it out of here before we tow it. Oh, and Vagan. Here. It looks like I'm not the only one after your boss.... possible suspects. Rumors have surfaced saying that there is a vigilante bean in town... What the hell is going on out there?! Ah. Looks like I got someone's attention. Who's this? Great. Playtime's over. 'Encrypted Call' 'Decoding' 'Secure Connection' This is Killer Bean. Killer Bean. What the hell are you doing? You think this is a game? What were you thinking last night? I had a rough night last night. We know what kind of night you had. Might I remind you what your mission is. You were given specific orders to hunt down and eliminate the target. No one else! Drawing this kind of attention to yourself is dangerous for us, and especially for you. What's the big deal? I killed a bunch of gangsters. I'm sure the Beantown police are a lot happier without them. You didn't do anyone a favor with that mess you created last night. And you are not working for the Beantown police. You are working for us! I'll still get the job done. I'll get him. We're running out of time. He has to know you're coming by now. Remember who he is. I know what the mission is. Then stick to it! Don't be so reckless, Killer Bean. I'll call you when I got him! Reckless! Pff! Reckless my brown bean ass! 'Decoding' 'Secure Connection' Yes? Jet Bean, you have been activated for an urgent mission in Beantown. Beantown? I'm a long way from Beantown. It would be best to assign someone else. This mission is highly sensitive. You are the most capable for the job. It figures. Fine. I'll do it. Good. We'll contact you with the details as soon as you reach the shore. See you in Beantown. They better have some good food in Beantown. Wait. Are you leaving? Yes. How long will you go for? A long time. Oh... I have something I want to give to you. You shouldn't have. Here! It's the bill! You haven't paid in three months! I'm leaving now. I will pay when I get back. Hey! You get back here pay now! Tsingtao! Get out here! He say your food tastes like ass crack. What?! Make bean curd out of him! I said I'll pay when I get back! Oh. It's okay. It's on the house. You don't have to come back! Please! Looking at the figures from our previous fiscal year. Narcotic sales have dropped 57 percent. 57 percent! That's more than half! Now, compare this to the 300 percent growth from our weapons department. But you guys... You guys are not from my weapons department, are you. No... You guys are from my narcotics department, okay?! So what do I have to do, huh? How can I get through to you guys?! Dude. I have such a hangover. Yeah bean, that was a kick-ass party last night, right? Yeah. Too bad we didn't stay for the whole thing. I bet they had some fun. Woot! Woot! You see, it's easy when you think about it. Crime is on the rise, okay. So more guns sell, because criminals use guns. Hello!! They also use drugs! So more drugs should sell, right? What's the problem here? Now, you guys. Someone give me a reasonable explanation, okay? Why are narcotic sales performing so poorly? It's all those anti-drug commercials on TV. You never see any anti-gun commercials. It's not fair. It has become quite apparent to me, that some of you do not value your job. Now... That is quite odd, if you ask me. Especially in today's economy. But I am forced to say... It is time... To lay off! A few beans!! Ooohhh!!! Uh, wait. I have a question. Yes. Will I be eligible for unemployment? Hmm. Let me check with the finance department on that, okay? My social security number is... 3, 4, 6... Oh boy. Is my batting average going to go up after this. Ahem- Hang on, let me just finish this level. Cappuccino! Ah. I'm glad you're here. Maybe you can teach these beans something about business, since you've handled my weapons department so well. That bean is nothing but a kiss-ass brown-noser. What does he know that we don't know? But he's making millions of dollars selling weapons. If you ask me, He's doing something illegal. Oh, it's great to see you, Vagan. But you'll have to excuse me. I'm in an important meeting right now. This is more important. It's about the warehouse on Baker Street. Oh that. I know. You know? Yeah. My nephew was having a party of there last night, okay? No, it's not about the party. It is. There was a hit on the warehouse. Everyone is dead. Who did this. I have reason to believe that it was done by a bean named, Killer Bean. Killer Bean... One bean? This is no ordinary bean. I've heard of him before. I know what he can do. Who the hell is he? Who sent him? Is it the Colombians? Is it the French trying to roast me? It has to be one of your competitors. Who ever it is, I want you to find him. I want you to find him, and destroy him! Oh, believe me I will try. But first, we have Killer Bean to deal with. He's somewhere out there, and he's coming after you. All right. We need to consolidate all of our warehouses. There's too many targets for him to attack. Move all our inventory to the central warehouse on Main Street. I want you to protect that place. What about Killer Bean? What do you want me to do? Oh nothing. Just send him a box of chocolates, and tell him thanks for the memories. You idiot! What do you think you should do? Kill him. Any way you can, by any means. Put him in the ground! I'll need more beans. Professional beans. Put it on my credit card, okay. Just do it! Yes, sir. Make sure you find out who sent him. There will be hell to pay. Hello. Hey, Harry. It's Detective Cromwell. Hey, Cromwell. Hey did you get the package I sent you? Yeah, it's pretty wild stuff. Our crime lab is getting nowhere with this. What do you make of it? Well, the easy ones the tire tread sample. I tested the residue you sent, and the tires are made from silicon steel fiber alloy. It's only used on high-performance cars. It's not unique, but it's hard to come by. Hmm... What about the gold bullets? Now that. In my 15 years with Special Forces, I've never seen gold used in any weapon. But for practical purposes gold is a very soft metal. So the bullets expand and deform on high impact. They make little holes on the way in and big holes on the way out. And they are much harder to match the ballistic signatures. That makes them relatively untraceable. Yeah, that doesn't make sense if the bullet casings have his name on it. And he left those everywhere. Yeah, I don't get that. He must be one sick bean, like he wanted to be found out. Yeah, or he's bragging. Or just plain careless. This Killer Bean has to be working for someone to get that kind of financial backing. You think he's a gun for hire? Or he could be a vigilante. That's the word on the street. Either way, one thing's for sure. He has his eyes set on Cappuccino. Heh, well then you both have something in common. If that's true, I have a hunch where this Killer Bean will show up next. Hey, I gotta go. See you, Harry. Later. 'Suspected Cappuccino's Warehouses' Dramatic entrance... Dramatic entrance... Well, that pretty much frees up my day. Time for some breakfast. 'Shadow Bean, you are too late. ' Howdy. What will it be? Tequila and tonic. And, uh. Turn up the TV. Detective Cromwell, concerning possible suspects, rumors have surfaced that there is a vigilante bean in town, who is hunting down Cappuccino. There is no evidence for your vigilante theory. As far as I'm concerned, the suspect or suspects involved in these homicides are no friends of the police. We will do what is necessary to bring them to justice. Thank you. I don't think so. I'll have another. And you can turn that crap off now. What can I get you? I'll have what he's having. This is a rough part of town. Do you always sit with your back to the entrance? Doesn't matter who comes in. Isn't it against police regulation to be drinking during the day? I'm a detective. Our regulations are a little different. How'd you know I was with the police? You know, you're much uglier in person. My name is Detective Cromwell. And you are? Jack. Well, Jack... I guess you heard what happened this morning over at the warehouse on Baker Street. Yeah, I know about that. Really. Tell me what you know. Why don't we cut to the chase. Why don't you tell me what you know. Oh, I know a lot. I know the Baker Street warehouse is owned by Cappuccino. I know someone killed 12 beans in that warehouse last night. I know the killer drove a fancy car, and has fancy guns. I know that the warehouse across the street with the big hole in the window also belongs to Cappuccino. I see this fancy car parked in front, and well, you don't look like you walked here. So my guess is... This, belongs to you. Well it looks like you figured it all out. Good job. Another! It was easy. You were just reckless. The way I see it, you're the one who's being reckless. You come out here looking for me by yourself. You didn't bring anyone to back you up. That's reckless. Here's my backup. That's a nice gun. Wanna see mine! How can I see it, if you have it against the side of my head? Not bad. But mine's bigger. You do the math. Why are you after Cappuccino? That's for me to know, and you not to know. Well, I know I can't have a crazy vigilante running around shooting up beans. But you're no vigilante, are you. Seems like there are beans who've invested in you, And I'm sure they're not happy with the press you're getting. This is where I can help you. I don't need help. Well, you see. I'm bound by the law. I've been working this Cappuccino case for over three years. Every time we think we have something on him, his lawyers get in the way and get him out. I wish I was like you. I wish I could just walk up to him and shoot him. But I can't. It's too bad. Because I know where is central warehouse is. Not these abandoned warehouses, like that one out there. Why don't you pay him a visit? You got the wrong bean. I'm not just some hired gun. Who says I'm hiring you? You already have a boss, don't you? I bet he doesn't really like all that attention that you're getting from the media. I can make that go away. I control the evidence, and the evidence says it could've been some rival gang that killed all of Cappuccino's beans last night, or... It could be you. And I have a lot of evidence that says that. Are you going to take me in? I can take you down. I would enjoy that. Freeze! Get out of my bar you punks! I know how to use this! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Hold on! I'm a cop! Put down your gun! I don't trust any of you. You drop your guns, both of you! Sorry, grandpa. It doesn't work like that. Okay, okay. I'm going to slowly lower my gun, and I'm gonna go, alright? Alright? This will be real easy. See? This is easy. Remember what I said. We can help each other. Just help yourself out the door. This is for the drinks. Mine and his. Now, you mind if I go to the bathroom before I go? Be quick. Your life depends on it. So dramatic. Sorry. It was a double flusher. But you only flushed once. Hey... Don't I know you from somewhere? Who is Shadow Bean? You're in way over your head. Who is Shadow Bean?! You don't have to yell. I'm right next to you. Answer me! Are there two of you?! You're not going to shoot me if you need the answers. Besides, I can't answer you anyway. So... I'll have to do this instead! It's a good idea for you to stay down. We'll settle this later. You're not as dumb as you look. Harry. It's Cromwell. My hunch was right. Killer Bean hit Cappuccino's warehouse on the east side. In fact, he was still here when I got here. Whoa, how did that go? Not as well as I would have liked. Hey listen. I got some new info. I found a note in front of Cappuccino's warehouse. It said, Shadow Bean, you are too late. Does that mean anything to you? Harry? You still there? I didn't know they were still in operation. Who? The Shadow Beans. Harry, what's going on? They're highly trained operatives of an organization called the Shadow Agency. Shadow Agency? What are they, a government agency? Why haven't I heard of them? I think they were a private organization. There are some things the government does that are not meant to be known. Their collaboration with the Shadow Agency was one of them. When diplomatic and military tactics failed, our government hired the Shadow Agency to eliminate national security threats. It was more cost effective than training and maintaining our own elite assassins. And the Shadow Beans were better than anything we had. Great. But why here? What are the Shadow Beans doing in Beantown? And what could they possibly want with Cappuccino? I don't know. I thought the Shadow Agency was disbanded. I know our government stopped using them nearly a decade ago. I haven't heard of them since. So do you think this Killer Bean is a Shadow Bean operative? It sounds like he's certainly good enough to be. What do you think I should do is stop him? I don't even know if you can't stop him. But you can start by putting all your cops on double duty. Right... This is the place. Dramatic entrance. Bean, I hate this job. It's so freaking boring. All we do we sit around and drink beer. Are you kidding? This is my dream job! Hey! We're not supposed to be just sitting around drinking beer. Remember what Vagan said? He said we got to move all those crates by morning. If the cops find this stuff, we are screwed. Where are we supposed to move them? I don't know. I didn't really listen to that part. Hey, give me another beer. Oh here, have mine. I shouldn't drink anymore. *sniff* *cough* I have a really bad cold. All right! Wait... is this a low carb beer? Hey, speaking of beer... Did you beans hear what happened at the party last night? Some dude went in there, and killed everyone. He even killed Cappuccino's nephew. Geez... Who was this bean that killed everyone? Is he someone I should be worried about? Nah. He's probably just some crazed lunatic, running around with lots of guns. You know, that's the problem with this country. Too many crazed lunatics with guns. Isn't that right, baby? The lunatics aren't the problem. The real problem is the guns. What this country needs is some serious gun control. I mean, we need to take away all the guns. All of them! And just get rid of them! But not my gun. Ohhh! Ow! Bean, you dropped into the wrong place. Looks like what we got here is a standoff. Not really. Over there! Take cover! Call the boss! Get some help! Hello. Vagan! We're being attacked. I think it's Killer Bean! How do you know? Well... He's killing everyone! We're sending the mercenaries. Just hold tight. Keep firing! Don't let up! Grenade!! I can see we came to the right place. You made short work of these beans. Don't expect the same fight from us. My squad has been with me through hell. I hand selected them myself from the Academy ten years ago. All of them graduated with top honors. I led these beans through three tours of duty, accumulating a total of 15 Medals of Honor, 11 Purple Hearts. Sure, we lost a few good beans... But you should see what we did to the other bloke. Well, then we went into business for ourselves. Escort detail for high-level dignitaries, Hostage extraction, corporate assassinations, preemptive surgical strikes, Or just plain search and destroy. Heck, we even robbed a few federal banks with business with slow. So this little shindig we got here... Oh, it's nothing. It's just a walk in the park. Are you going to say something or what? Huh? Oh, I'm sorry. I must have totally zoned out on you. Whoa, my eyes are starting to water. Whoo! Sorry. Let's make one thing clear. Last night was a party. Tonight, I get to work! Decaffeinated. Oh well. It was worth a try. This is not a good idea. We should kill him now. Patience, Vagan. I need answers. I need answers from him. He's awake. So. This is the great Killer Bean. You attack my warehouses. You kill my beans. What do you want from me?! My guns would be nice. Better enjoy a while it lasts, tough guy. Tough words from a bean who is helpless. Ohhh... No, you did not! Okay. Maybe you did. What do you want, Killer Bean? Who are you working for? What. You expect me to just blurt it all out? My nephew was at the Baker Street warehouse when you attacked it, okay. I think you owe me an explanation. Your nephew? Hmm... Your nephew... He was such a good boy. He wanted to be a DJ as some big nightclub. I told him, someday I'll buy you your own my club. As long as you sell my drugs there. Eh, the profit sharing we never agreed on. But you know, he was such a sweet kid. Oh yeah. Yeah remember him. He was the one playing the music. He always loved his music. Well, he's dead now. Kill this bean. He's wasting my time. It's about time. How does it feel to be killed, by your own gun? Funny... I was about to ask you the same thing. Are we done playing games for today? Finally... Dispatch. This is Cromwell. Roger, Detective Cromwell. I need backup. I'm at 43rd and Main Street. Right away, sir. There's no rush. I got time. Cromwell out. How dare you! How dare you come onto my property, looking to kill me! Who do you think you are? Hate to burst your bubble, Cappuccino... but I'm not here to kill you. What? I'm here to kill him. You just got in my way. I don't understand. You want to kill him? Not me? What the hell is going on? Just shoot him already. It's complicated. Why don't you just beat it. I'm quite interested to knowing why. You wanna die to? Believe me, it's no trouble at all. Actually, uh... I think that my estimated taxes are due soon. I like to stay on top of that stuff. Good idea. Oh. By the way. Vagan? You're fired!! It's about time they sent someone with some talent after me. Nothing but the best for you, Dark Bean. I guess they finally learned it's gonna take the best. What the hell is going on? You were one of the Shadow Agency's top beans. I used to look up to you. Now I have to kill you. Why did you betray us, Dark Bean? I didn't betray anyone. The Shadow Agency betrayed me. What? You're the one who destroyed our database, and stole years of intelligence work. How could you do that? And how could you go from policing the world to running guns for this two-bit gangster? Why did you join the Shadow Agency, Killer Bean? To get rid of the trash in this world, one bullet at a time. Yeah, we all joined for the same reason. But when I joined the Shadow Agency 12 years ago, It was more clear cut. Our job was to neutralize threats, while the politicians were paralyzed in diplomatic bullshit. That's just the way I like it. Times have changed. The agency was always privately controlled, But originally we always worked with the government to protect our citizens. Then it all changed. I'm not sure what caused the shift but now, we're just guns for hire, providing services to the highest bidder. Anyone with the right amount of money can buy the talents of the Shadow Beans. On one mission, I was asked to protect some rich dictator. On another, I assassinated an opposing leader. It didn't matter what we did. The Shadow Agency always convinced us that what we did was for the right reasons. But before I left, they had me deliver weapons to the very group of beans I had spent several years trying to take down. That was it for me. Do you expect me to believe any of this? All I know is that you breached the agency's security, and stole years of intelligence work. I didn't steal anything. All the information I took was mine. I wasn't about to give up 12 years of sweat and blood. I needed it to continue my work. And exactly how does serving Cappuccino continue your work? Cappuccino is a major player in the weapons market. Posing as his lackey puts me on the inside. I can find out who wants what, who sells what, and where the big threats are. But unlike at the Shadow Agency, I can finally kill the beans who deserve to be killed. You got yourself a few more minutes of life with that story, Dark Bean. But you can't out talk my trigger finger. It doesn't matter if you believe me or not. This is probably your last mission. If I don't kill you, the Shadow Agency will. What the hell are you talking about? I'm one of their best Shadow Beans. Why would they want me dead? The Shadow Agency knows I could expose them. Any agent that comes in contact with me is compromised. And from what I've been hearing, You've been a liability to the agency since the day you started. Seeing the mess you made last night confirms that the Shadow Agency has a hard time controlling you. They must know you joined for the same reasons I did. They know it's only a matter of time before you find out the truth about them. And if they can't control you now, how will they control you when you do find out? It's smarter for them to diffuse you now, before you become a bigger problem. If they wanted me dead, then why even send me on this mission? You said it yourself. You're one of their best. They tried to kill me before. They sent Shadow Beans after me twice. They both failed. Think about it, Killer Bean. They want us both dead, and we're hard to kill. Regardless of the outcome of this mission, the agency gets what they want. Because one of us will be eliminated. No, no. You're lying. I'm not gonna believe you. I won't believe a word you say. I had to take the shot. I would have done more with my life than you ever will. Doesn't matter now. We're both dead beans. Where's my backup? 6 squad cars eta 3 minutes, 2 special assault units in 5. Get me more. How many, sir? Everyone. Yes? Yes, I am here. 'Deactivated' And who is the target? 'Deactivated' No. No problem at all. I've always wanted to meet him. I'll call you when the job is done. 'Secure Connection' Drop your guns! Put em down, now! It's not gonna end like this. Drop your guns! Whoa, whoa, whoa! Easy, hold your fire! Finally brought some backup, huh. Does this satisfy your ego? What do you want, Cromwell? Coming to see if I did your dirty work? He's right over there. Yeah, he's dead all right. But you didn't kill him. He did. What does it matter? You got the results you wanted. Now just step aside and let me by. Let you by? You're the key to this whole mess. If I let you go, I'll never find out about the Shadow Agency, or the Shadow Beans. I can't help you. Why not? You are Shadow Bean, aren't you? Not anymore. They're coming after you, aren't they. Don't shoot! Hold your fire! If you tell me what I need to know, I can protect you. I highly doubt that. I can at least give you a place to stay tonight. Let me help you, Killer Bean. There is nothing you can do that will help me. But I do need a quiet place to think. Not exactly what I had in mind, but this will do. Make yourself at home. This will keep you safe for the night. Hell, it'll probably keep us safe too. I don't plan on staying long. I'll be back in the morning. We have a lot to talk about. Who were these guys? I'd like to know where they get guns like this. Hey, don't touch that stuff. You know better than that. You're contaminating the evidence. I don't think we're going to have a shortage of evidence here. Whoa, hold it! This is a crime scene. No one is allowed on the premises. Nobody ordered no egg foo yung here. Where is Killer Bean? Killer Bean? We put his ass in the slammer. Who are you? Let me put it in a language you can understand. So sorry. No chow mein here. You deliver wrong place. Get your hands in the air! Put them up, now! Now put your hands on your head, drop to your knees. Commander. Thanks for your help. I'm turning in for the night. Right, sir. We'll be here when you get back. Excellent. What do we got here? Just some punk bean we caught assaulting an officer. Well he sure picked the wrong night to do that. Take him in. Hold it! Another move, and we drop you! Take him out! These are very nice guns. Are you sure you want to do that? You need them more than I do. So you're the bean they sent to kill me. Mmm hmm. Who are you? I am Jet Bean. Assassin from the East. I completed my mission. Why do they want me dead? They don't tell me why. And I don't ask. They decided to kill me the moment they sent me on this mission, didn't they. That's what Dark Bean told me. The agency knew that once I found out the truth about them, they couldn't trust me. They were right. Save your breath, Killer Bean. You're going to need it. Don't you know what the Shadow Agency is? Don't you realize how they're using us? I can see you've been brainwashed by Dark Bean. He was a fool. No one Shadow Bean can threaten the agency. But I'm no Shadow Bean. I certainly hope you trained harder than that. Well... At least you're in the fighting mood now. You have been a formidable opponent. I am sorry I have to end this game. You already tried that. It's over. Not for you. 'Secure Connection' Jet Bean, is your mission complete? Jet Bean is dead. I learned a lot about the Shadow Agency today. And it's not for me. I quit. Don't be rash. Think about what you are doing. Why don't you come in? We can talk things over. Oh, I'm coming in. But it won't be for talking. This will do. Original post: u/iamauser12.
Oren is. Well he is dead. Oren was a jerk! See All the people he the baker is a masochist for putting himself through all that. Even after Oren died. And then we danced watch free. (If you would like, please feel free to skim over the bolded part. This is background info on Graham and Swan Lake. ) The recently released art film for BTS' single "Black Swan, " begins with an abbreviated quote by the acclaimed modern dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, reading: "... a dancer dies twice---once when they stop this death is the more painful. " Graham speaks of a dancer's first death being the dancer's eventual physical decline in which they can no longer will their body to move the way it used to or the way a choreographed piece asks it to. Martha Graham is regarded as one of the most influential figures in modern dance in the 20th Century. The history of her dance company is detailed here on the company's website. Graham created the Graham Technique, which is characterized by sharp, angular and direct movements that was an antithesis to the smooth and fluid movements of ballet. The dance style is syncopated and marked by the contraction and subsequent release. In reimagining what the body could do within a choreographed piece, "Martha Graham and her Company have expanded contemporary dance’s vocabulary of movement and forever altered the scope of the art form by rooting works in contemporary social, political, psychological, and sexual contexts, deepening their impact and resonance.. " Graham has created 181 works in her long and prolific career and continues to inspire dancers and choreographers to this day. Bangtan has taken Graham's notion and superimposed it unto their own first death---the loss of passion to create music in which they can no longer will themselves to create music that moves themselves and their audience. In pairing the song "Black Swan" with the choreography of MN Dance Company, the lyrics reference Graham's sentiment while the dance reference the classic Swan Lake ballet to express the plight of an artist and the pain of losing passion for the center of one's existence: their art. We should begin by establishing the story of Swan Lake. The Swan Lake ballet in its entirety is summarized here by the Australian Ballet. The ballet is the tragic love story of Prince Siegfried who falls in love with Princess Odette, innocent and beautiful, who has been cursed by the evil von Rothbart to live her days as a swan. Despite this, the Prince and the Princess promise each other their love. But von Rothbart presents his daughter Odile, sensual and enticing, who resembles Odette to beguile the Prince to break his promise of love and devotion from Princess Odette. Bewitched, Siegfried breaks his vow of fidelity to Odette, cursing the Princess and her maidens to an eternity as swans. In despair, he drowns himself releasing her soul from the clutches of von Rothbart, despite remaining a swan for the rest of her days. The four act ballet is composed by Tchaikovsky and originally choreographed by Julius Reisinger. The more commonly recognized choreography adopted by most companies is of the revival of the ballet by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. In modern productions of the Swan Lake ballet, both roles of Odette and Odile are danced by the same dancer. This dichotomy of good and evil played by the same player is explored in the 2010 film Black Swan in which Portman's character vies for perfection to achieve both the innocence of the White Swan and the sensuality of the Black Swan. Portman's character eventually descends into madness and it seems by the end that the evil doppelganger that Portman competes with throughout the movie for the Black Swan role is really just herself. In beginning to write this analysis, I had originally thought to separate the lyrics and the visuals of the choreography. However, the lyrics on their own seem straight forward until they are paired with MN's choreography. The art film layers the original production of the song with a classical instrumental and the dance itself harkens back to the movements seen in the dance of the White and Black Swans in Swan Lake. The choreography begins with seven dancers, only one undressed while the others are in a uniform black. This can equally be interpreted as a single member of Bangtan beginning to feel the passion of his artform waning or BTS as a whole represented by the main dancer amongst ARMY, the dancers in black. The main dancer's arms move in an awkward and disjointed manner ( Art Film 0:40), evoking the growth and movement of wings. As his wings grow, the other dancers huddle together to support him and hold him close ( Art Film, 1:03). With the support of the others, the main dancers wings begin to move and retain the grace of flight. The movement of the arms are the same movements of the arms of the Black Swan (4:10) in Swan Lake. The wings are what make her a swan and in the case of the "Black Swan" art film, it represents the passion for music and the creation of music. In one interpretation, the main dancer is surrounded and supported by his members while in the other interpretation, BTS is being held by ARMY. (It is common for Bangtan to call ARMYs their wings that allow them to fly and achieve their goals. ) However, the support begins to feel like suffocation ( Art Film, 1:20) in which the movement of the wings now feel as if they are forced unto him by others. It is no longer from his own will and passion to move. As someone who creates her own art, this is a predicament artists of any medium face. We begin creating art out of genuine passion and love and we slowly develop a support system with their love and expectation for your craft. It feels freeing at first, but then it becomes a pressure that stifles creativity and makes the artist feel the loss of motivation to continue creating artwork, his first death. This pressure, the murder of the artist, is visualized in the choreography as the other dancers seemingly stomping on the body of the main dancer, fallen on the ground. ( Art Film, 1:38) Yet those same bodies pushing him down are the same bodies that lift him skyward, in an image that evokes the image of a casket carried onwards to its grave, tying the choreography to the notion of the death that comes with the loss of passion to create music: "If this can no longer resonate/No longer make my heart vibrate/Then like this may be how I die my first death... " The choreography continues with a push-pull between the main dancer and the ensemble. ( Art Film, 1:54). There is a duality in the meaning of these movements. On one hand, the pull of the ensemble could be the suffocation of the passion of the artist while on the other, it is their plea for that artist to move away from the first death. They know his purpose is coming from the very art that feels dead and suffocating to him. This battle continues well into the choreography and we can feel the dichotomy and duality of Odette and Odile in this. As in the manner that both Odette and Odile being danced by the same dancer and as in the film Black Swan, where the main character finds she is, in fact fighting herself, we too can see how both the killer and the healer are the same for Bangtan and their music. Their passion to create poignant and truthful music is what brought the masses to them. But at the same time, it is the same masses that love and support them that create a pressure to continue, which could very much be the killer that stifles their fire. The harsh vertical lights in the art film (2:07) look like a prison and the main dancer wants to be freed of it. But at the same time, it can be seen as the realm of safety and security as the ensemble urges him to stay, to remain alive in his art. He eventually overpowers the ensemble ( Art Film, 3:00) as they continue to pursue him. As he frees himself, the main dancer begins to run, arms akimbo, his wings frazzled and confused. He eventually finds himself either free yet alone, his wings trying to take flight ( Art Film, 3:34) yet failing to find the correct motion. He begins descending, searching for what is missing... As the ensemble returns, they right him from the upside down position he is ( Art Film, 4:15) as he again begins to push them away. He is trying to free himself, yet he is blind to the eventual death he has hearkened. He tries to forcefully use his wings to escape, unaware that the others are in support of him, visualized by all the dancers moving the same way ( Art Film, 4:46). Eventually, they return the position of support in the beginning of the dance ( Art Film, 1:03 vs 5:02) as the main dancer's wings begin to beat again, and this time in correct tempo. The lift that seemed like the carrying of the casket is actually the same hands that lift the Black Swan to freedom, where he is pushed upwards to the light, where his wings flourish and allow him to fly. The message of this dance is complex, as it shows that our angels and demons are our own selves. The things we love can easily turn into the things we hate. Yet, the only way out is to find that mirror image and to reconcile them. In the case of BTS, they spoke of nearly disbanding during their difficulties in 2018 as they began to rise to more prominence in the music industry. Yet, they stuck together and eventually found the place they needed to be. The same music and attention that stifled them, pushing them to their first death, which now seems almost like a suicide, were actually their healers. They had each other and ARMY and despite the difficulties, music was still the answer to heal them and ARMY was still there not to claw at them but instead, to be their wings. This is not to say that they lived happily ever after. This song acknowledges that their eventual first death will be most painful as Martha Graham stated. Because this first death is by their own hand, like the Black Swan film, and of the thing they love most, their music. There are many more layers to pursue and analyze, but I feel this is where I shall end. If you have your own interpretations, I would love to read them, too, as I am only one person and beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.
The boat ticket seller who sang this in Mamma Mia! Here we go again was absolutely a legend. And Then We Danced watch video. And then we danced watch online free. 0:04 Don't wanna be rude but he looks like a dog 😢. And Then We Danced watch online. Anime ღამეებს ვხედავ რამდენს. Ok so I’m a bisexual woman and I come from a supportive family (my parents were a bit put off when i came out, but they got over it and were very kind to any girlfriends they met). My sister “Lizzie” has only ever dated men and has never ever shown any interest in women, even saying once that the idea of going down on a woman grossed her when we were discussing our sex lives. The issue is Lizzie loves attention and loves to be special in any way she can. She hasn’t ever directly claimed to be lgbt but will often make comments that lead people to think she is ( ie “that actress is so hot” or “i’d let her fuck me” or referring to her former best female friend as her ex) and has a bunch of photos from pride on her instagram. None of these things would be a problem on their own, but all together it creates a feeling in our mutual friends that she’s bisexual/ interested in women. Whenever it comes up she always dances around directly saying that she’s not gay—like when one of our friends tried to set her up on a date with a woman and instead of saying “sorry no i’m straight” she said “sorry she’s not really my type”. This has always kind of irked me. It feels like she’s trying on my identity for fun, but whenever it’s too much she can just take it off. Like we have very conservative grandparents who do not approve of my sexuality at all and haven’t really spoken to me in years, but Lizzie still gets to talk to them on the phone every month and they write cute letters back and forth with pictures of her life and events attached. I told Lizzie that it bothered me and she told me i needed to relax and she was just living her life. I finally had enough when she posted a picture of her wearing rainbow eyeshadow with the caption “i’m here, i’m queer, so deal with it” which is a quote from a video we watched together a couple weeks ago. She put it in quotation marks, but everyone in the comments were congratulating her on being open about her sexuality, and she didn’t correct anyone. I got mad about it and commented “ Lizzie you aren’t gay. Stop pretending like marginalized groups are fun accessories for you to try on”. A few of her followers saw my comment and replied asking if Lizzie was really straight before she deleted the comment. Then she called me, irate, and said that it wasn’t fair for me to “shut her out” of lgbt culture just because she’s straight and that she’s just appreciating the community. Am i being too sensitive here? I don’t want to let my being bisexual cloud my judgement, and I probably shouldn’t have called her out publicly, but it bothered me so much that she was pretending to be gay just for fun when she didn’t have to go through any of the struggles that lgbt people actually gave. To be clear— there is no chance that Lizzie is secretly into women and hasn’t come out yet. She flat out told me she was straight and we discuss sex and relationships often and are close in that way. Edit: A lot of people seem to think that Lizzie is like 13. For clarity, I’m 19 and Lizzie is 23. Edit 2: I am totally positive that Lizzie is straight. 1) because she’s told me so several times and 2) because if she wasn’t and wanted to be thought of as bisexual or questioning, why wouldn’t she give that as justification or admit that when we were arguing after i commented on her post? There’s no reason for her to not tell me now if she’s going to post about it on her public instagram. Also those of you suggesting that i send the post to our grandparents— that’s despicable and i would never do something that malicious over something so petty, so i really hope y’all are joking.
I love Junsun Yoo. I have the biggest crush on him lol He is definitely my favorite choreographer of 1M.
And Then We Danced watch.
During most of the story our daughter was around 16-18 months old. Today she’s 20 months. She has been slow to start crawling and walking. I always thought this was a harmless quirk. She’s happy and bright and I just wasn’t worried about her. my wife was though. I encouraged her to be patient and let her progress on her own time. However, my mother in law kept bringing it up, saying things like “I heard a story about a girl that wouldn’t walk and her parents found out she was missing half of her brain! ” assuming worst case scenarios and making my wife more worried rather than less. Daughter was showing progress in her ability, just slowly. We were even having at-home therapy to help her learn to crawl and walk, which seemed to be helping. But my wife was still worried. Every time we finally made peace with it and were feeling good, her mom would cut in with her anxiety fuel. This really pissed me off, and there were times that I said harsh things like “Next time tell your mom to fuck off and mind her own business. ” Her input was not needed. Wife thinks we need to go to a neurologist to make sure there are no issues. I’m against it, saying I think it’s overkill and a waste of money at a time that we’re trying to pay down debt. Every time it came up we clashed on it, with me saying it’s unnecessary and her saying she cares about our daughter more than the money. My wife openly admits that she can be a hypochondriac, so I have this in mind. I felt a lot of this was coming from both her own and her mom’s anxiety, and I didn’t want to spend money to placate it; I felt that our daughter would be mobile in a few months and that it would take care of itself if given more time. Eventually my wife said she wanted to take our daughter in, JUST to get an opinion without any invasive tests. I still thought it would be a waste, and I let her know that, but I was OK with the compromise. The doc watched her play around, asked some questions, and did a reflex test (your standard “hammer on the knee”) and told my wife he wasn’t worried. Mother in law finally stops bringing it up. Daughter has now taken her first steps. We got a bill in the mail today, $900. I am livid. I slap the bill onto the counter and say “THIS. This is why I made it very clear that I thought the neurologist would be a waste. ” My wife responds, “you’re not the mom. You don’t have to deal with people judging you about this stuff and telling you that maybe your daughter has autism or palsy. ” So I said “tell them to FUCK OFF. And tell your mom to FUCK OFF TOO while you’re at it. ” I told her that I felt she hadn’t valued my opinion on this at all and that she had valued her mom’s more than mine. I then went downstairs to let off steam. We’re not a couple that holds grudges. We’ve come back together in the hour since and are laughing again, and I’m reading this post to her to make sure her perspective isn’t being neglected. But we’re both curious at this point: who’s the asshole? [EDIT FOR CLARIFICATION] Wow, I didn’t think I’d get this much engagement and people definitely have some opinions on this. Consensus seems to be that I’m the AH and I don’t feel a need to contest that. I’m convinced I was in this case. However there have been a whole bunch of responses where people have come to the conclusion that not only am I the AH, but that I’m also a “shitty husband” or that I don’t care about my family, by reading their own inaccurate info between the lines. So here are a few details that probably should have been in the OP. The neuro evaluation was not ordered by the pediatrician. When my wife asked if it could be neurological in nature, the doctor said he really didn’t think so, but that it “never hurts to be sure if you’re worried. ” The therapists we were already working with also did not think it was a neurological issue, saying that it would most likely be solved by helping her build confidence and strengthening her muscles. Other milestones were being hit and/or exceeded. There have been some responses assuming that during this time our daughter was basically acting like a vegetable and that I just didn’t give a fuck about it. This is really inaccurate. Fine motor skills were on track, she was happily babbling, singing and dancing, and she has always been ahead of the curve on social interaction and speech. Her otherwise happy, vibrant and active mannerisms were at the heart of why I wasn’t as concerned, and were also the reasons cited by the pediatrician, therapists, and eventually the neurologist for why they did not think her issue was a neurological one. Thanks everyone for the good responses. It seems the heart of my issue is my frustration with the MIL butting into and undermining our decision making process as a couple. Some changes are in order as I really need to get comfortable with taking these issues up with the MIL directly rather than letting frustrations build and then venting them to my wife.
Whenever i listen to this song, i picture myself wearing sunglasses, driving to the beach in a convertible on a nice warm spring day with my man. And then we danced watch full. თქვენ რომ პატრონი გყავდეტ მანდ არ იჯდებოდიტ,რათქმაუნდა ჩვენი ბრალი არ არის,ხოდა ეხლა რახანც თქვენ თქვით გადავაჯდებიტ ერთმანეთს და გავთავისუფლდებით, შენს დედას. ეს გინდა გახდეს ქართული კულტურა შეუპატრონო,ცამოეტრიეტ აქ და მიხედეთ საქართველოს რომელიც იღუპება, არა ხარ მსახიობი?თუ შეასრულე კარგად ესეიგი ტრაკს აცეკვებ ლამაზად,წადით თქვენი.