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Once a year, this subreddit hosts a survey in order to get to know the community a little bit and in order to answer questions that are frequently asked here. Earlier this summer, several thousand of you participated in the 2020 Subreddit Demographic Survey. Only those participants who meet our wiki definition of being childfree's results were recorded and analysed. Of these people, multiple areas of your life were reviewed. They are separated as follows:
Career and Finances
Religion and Spirituality
Sexual and Romantic Life
Childhood and Family Life
State of the Subreddit
Our sample is redditors who saw that we had a survey currently active and were willing to complete the survey. A stickied post was used to advertise the survey to members.
The raw data may be found via this link. 7305 people participated in the survey from July 2020 to October 2020. People who did not meet our wiki definition of being childfree were excluded from the survey. The results of 5134 responders, or 70.29% of those surveyed, were collated and analysed below. Percentages are derived from the respondents per question.
18 or younger
19 to 24
25 to 29
30 to 34
35 to 39
40 to 44
45 to 49
50 to 54
55 to 59
60 to 64
65 to 69
70 to 74
82.25% of the sub is under the age of 35.
Gender and Gender Identity
Because the list contains over 120 countries, we'll show the top 20 countries:
Country of birth
90.08% of the participants were born in these countries. These participants would describe their current city, town or neighborhood as:
The top 10 industries our participants are working in are:
Education - Teaching
Admin & Clerical
Restaurant - Food Service
Note that "other", "I'm a student", "currently unemployed" and "I'm out of the work force for health or other reasons" have been disregarded for this part of the evaluation. Out of the 3729 participants active in the workforce, the majority (1824 or 48.91%) work between 40-50 hours per week with 997 or 26.74% working 30-40 hours weekly. 6.62% work 50 hours or more per week, and 17.73% less than 30 hours. 513 or 10.13% are engaged in managerial responsibilities (ranging from Jr. to Sr. Management). On a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), the overwhelming majority (3340 or 70%) indicated that career plays a very important role in their lives, attributing a score of 7 and higher. 1065 participants decided not to disclose their income brackets. The remaining 4,849 are distributed as follows:
$0 to $14,999
$15,000 to $29,999
$30,000 to $59,999
$60,000 to $89,999
$90,000 to $119,999
$120,000 to $149,999
$150,000 to $179,999
$180,000 to $209,999
$210,000 to $239,999
$240,000 to $269,999
$270,000 to $299,999
$300,000 or more
87.85% earn under $90,000 USD a year. 65.82% of our childfree participants do not have a concrete retirement plan (savings, living will).
Religion and Spirituality
Faith Originally Raised In
There were more than 50 options of faith, so we aimed to show the top 10 most chosen beliefs.
None (≠ Atheism. Literally, no notion of spirituality or religion in the upbringing)
This top 10 amounts to 95.01% of the total participants.
There were more than 50 options of faith, so we aimed to show the top 10 most chosen beliefs:
None (≠ Atheism. Literally, no notion of spirituality or religion currently)
This top 10 amounts to 94.65% of the participants.
Level of Current Religious Practice
Wholly seculanon religious
Identify with religion, but don't practice strictly
Lapsed/not serious/in name only
Observant at home only
Observant at home. Church/Temple/Mosque/etc. attendance
Strictly observant, Church/Temple/Mosque/etc. attendance, religious practice/prayeworship impacting daily life
Single and dating around, but not looking for anything serious
Single and dating around, looking for something serious
Single and not looking
Is your partner childfree? If your partner wants children and/or has children of their own and/or are unsure about their position, please consider them "not childfree" for this question.
I don't have a partner
I have more than one partner and none are childfree
I have more than one partner and some are childfree
I have more than one partner and they are all childfree
Dating a Single Parent
Would the childfree participants be willing to date a single parent?
No, I'm not interested in single parents and their ties to parenting life
Yes, but only if it's a short term arrangement of some sort
Yes, whether for long term or short term, but with some conditions (must not have child custody, no kid talk, etc.), as long as I like them and long as we're compatible
Yes, whether for long term or short term, with no conditions, as long as I like them and as long as we are compatible
Childhood and Family Life
On a scale from 1 (very unhappy) to 10 (very happy), how would you rate your childhood? Figure 3 Of the 5125 childfree people who responded to the question, 67.06% have a pet or are heavily involved in the care of someone else's pet.
No, I am not sterilised and, for medical, practical or other reasons, I do not need to be
No. However, I've been approved for the procedure and I'm waiting for the date to arrive
No. I am not sterilised and don't want to be
No. I want to be sterilised but I have started looking for a doctorequested the procedure
No. I want to be sterilised but I haven't started looking for a doctorequested the procedure yet
Yes. I am sterilised
Age when starting doctor shopping or addressing issue with doctor. Percentages exclude those who do not want to be sterilised and who have not discussed sterilisation with their doctor.
18 or younger
19 to 24
25 to 29
30 to 34
35 to 39
40 to 44
45 to 49
50 to 54
55 or older
Age at the time of sterilisation. Percentages exclude those who have not and do not want to be sterilised.
18 or younger
19 to 24
25 to 29
30 to 34
35 to 39
40 to 44
45 to 49
50 to 54
55 or older
Elapsed time between requesting procedure and undergoing procedure. Percentages exclude those who have not and do not want to be sterilised.
Less than 3 months
Between 3 and 6 months
Between 6 and 9 months
Between 9 and 12 months
Between 12 and 18 months
Between 18 and 24 months
Between 24 and 30 months
Between 30 and 36 months
Between 3 and 5 years
Between 5 and 7 years
More than 7 years
How many doctors refused at first, before finding one who would accept?
None. The first doctor I asked said yes
One. The second doctor I asked said yes
Two. The third doctor I asked said yes
Three. The fourth doctor I asked said yes
Four. The fifth doctor I asked said yes
Five. The sixth doctor I asked said yes
Six. The seventh doctor I asked said yes
Seven. The eighth doctor I asked said yes
Eight. The ninth doctor I asked said yes
I asked more than 10 doctors before finding one who said yes
Primary Reason to Not Have Children
Aversion towards children ("I don't like children")
Current state of the world
Environmental (including overpopulation)
Eugenics ("I have 'bad genes'")
I already raised somebody else who isn't my child
Lack of interest towards parenthood ("I don't want to raise children")
Maybe interested for parenthood, but not suited for parenthood
Medical ("I have a condition that makes conceiving/bearing/birthing children difficult, dangerous or lethal")
Philosophical / Moral (e.g. antinatalism)
Tokophobia (aversion/fear of pregnancy and/or chidlbirth)
95.50% of childfree people are pro-choice, however only 55.93% of childfree people support financial abortion.
I'm a student and my future job/career will heavily makes me interact with children on a daily basis
I'm retired, but I used to have a job that heavily makes me interact with children on a daily basis
I'm unemployed, but I used to have a job that heavily makes me interact with children on a daily basis
No, I do not have a job that makes me heavily interact with children on a daily basis
Yes, I do have a job that heavily makes me interact with children on a daily basis
This section solely existed to sift the childfree from the fencesitters and the non childfree in order to get answers only from the childfree. Childfree, as it is defined in the subreddit, is "I do not have children nor want to have them in any capacity (biological, adopted, fostered, step- or other) at any point in the future." 70.29% of participants actually identify as childfree, slightly up from the 2019 survey, where 68.5% of participants identified as childfree. This is suprising in reflection of the overall reputation of the subreddit across reddit, where the subreddit is often described as an "echo chamber".
The demographics remain largely consistent with the 2019 survey. However, the 2019 survey collected demographic responses from all participants in the survey, removing those who did not identify as childfree when querying subreddit specific questions, while the 2020 survey only collected responses from people who identified as childfree. This must be considered when comparing results. 82.25% of the participants are under 35, compared with 85% of the subreddit in the 2019 survey. A slight downward trend is noted compared over the last two years suggesting the userbase may be getting older on average. 73.04% of the subreddit identify as female, compared with 71.54% in the 2019 survey. Again, when compared with the 2019 survey, this suggests a slight increase in the number of members who identify as female. This is in contrast to the overall membership of Reddit, estimated at 74% male according to Reddit's Wikipedia page [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reddit#Users_and_moderators]. The ratio of members who identify as heterosexual remained consistent, from 54.89% in the 2019 survey to 55.20% in the 2020 survey. Ethnicity wise, 77% of members identified as primarily Caucasian, consistent with the 2019 results. While the ethnicities noted to be missing in the 2019 survey have been included in the 2020 survey, some users noted the difficulty of responding when fitting multiple ethnicities, and this will be addressed in the 2021 survey.
As it did in the 2019 survey, this section highlights the stereotype of childfree people as being well educated. 2.64% of participants did not complete high school, which is a slight decrease from the 2019 survey, where 4% of participants did not graduate high school. However, 6.02% of participants are under 18, compared with 8.22% in the 2019 survey. 55% of participants have a bachelors degree or higher, while an additional 23% have completed "some college or university". At the 2020 survey, the highest percentage of responses under the: What is your degree/major? question fell under "I don't have a degree or a major" (20.12%). Arts and Humanities, and Computer Science have overtaken Health Sciences and Engineering as the two most popular majors. However, the list of majors was pared down to general fields of study rather than highly specific degree majors to account for the significant diversity in majors studied by the childfree community, which may account for the different results.
Career and Finances
The highest percentage of participants at 21.61% listed themselves as trained professionals. One of the stereotypes of the childfree is of wealth. However this is not demonstrated in the survey results. 70.95% of participants earn under $60,000 USD per annum, while 87.85% earn under $90,000 per annum. 21.37% are earning under $15,000 per annum. 1065 participants, or 21.10% chose not to disclose this information. It is possible that this may have skewed the results if a significant proportion of these people were our high income earners, but impossible to explore. A majority of our participants work between 30 and 50 hours per week (75.65%) which is slightly increased from the 2019 survey, where 71.2% of participants worked between 30 and 50 hours per week.
The location responses are largely similar to the 2019 survey with a majority of participants living in a suburban and urban area. 86.24% of participants in the 2020 survey live in urban and suburban regions, with 86.7% of participants living in urban and suburban regions in the 2019 survey. There is likely a multifactorial reason for this, encompassing the younger, educated skew of participants and the easier access to universities and employment, and the fact that a majority of the population worldwide localises to urban centres. There may be an element of increased progressive social viewpoints and identities in urban regions, however this would need to be explored further from a sociological perspective to draw any definitive conclusions. A majority of our participants (57.47%) were born in the USA. The United Kingdom (7.6%), Canada (7.17%), Australia (3.58%) and Germany (2.17%) encompass the next 4 most popular responses. This is largely consistent with the responses in the 2019 survey.
Religion and Spirituality
For the 2020 survey Christianity (the most popular result in 2019) was split into it's major denominations, Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, among others. This appears to be a linguistic/location difference that caused a lot of confusion among some participants. However, Catholicism at 30.76% remained the most popular choice for the religion participants were raised in. However, of our participant's current faith, Aetheism at 36.23% was the most popular choice. A majority of 78.02% listed their current religion as Aetheist, no religious or spiritual beliefs, or Agnostic. A majority of participants (61%) rated religion as "not at all influential" to the childfree choice. This is consistent with the 2019 survey where 62.8% rated religion as "not at all influential". Despite the high percentage of participants who identify as aetheist or agnostic, this does not appear to be related to or have an impact on the childfree choice.
Romantic and Sexual Life
60.19% of our participants are in a relationship at the time of the survey. This is consistent with the 2019 survey, where 60.7% of our participants were in a relationship. A notable proportion of our participants are listed as single and not looking (25.81%) which is consistent with the 2019 survey. Considering the frequent posts seeking dating advice as a childfree person, it is surprising that such a high proportion of the participants are not actively seeking out a relationship. Unsurprisingly 90.13% of our participants would not consider dating someone with children. 84% of participants with partners of some kind have at least one childfree partner. This is consistent with the often irreconcilable element of one party desiring children and the other wishing to abstain from having children.
Childhood and Family Life
Overall, the participants skew towards a happier childhood.
While just under half of our participants wish to be sterilised, 45.21%, only 12.2% have been successful in achieving sterilisation. This is likely due to overarching resistance from the medical profession however other factors such as the logistical elements of surgery and the cost may also contribute. There is a slight increase from the percentage of participants sterilised in the 2019 survey (11.7%). 29.33% of participants do not wish to be or need to be sterilised suggesting a partial element of satisfaction from temporary birth control methods or non-necessity of contraception due to their current lifestyle practices. Participants who indicated that they do not wish to be sterilised or haven't achieved sterilisation were excluded from the percentages where necessary in this section. Of the participants who did achieve sterilisation, a majority began the search between 19 and 29, with the highest proportion being in the 19-24 age group (35.85%) This is a marked increase from the 2019 survey where 27.3% of people who started the search were between 19-24. This may be due to increased education about permanent contraception or possibly due to an increase in instability around world events. The majority of participants who sought out and were successful at achieving sterilisation, were however in the 25-29 age group (37.9%). This is consistent with the 2019 survey results. The time taken between seeking out sterilisation and achieving it continues to increase, with only 50.46% of participants achieving sterilisation in under 3 months. This is a decline from the number of participants who achieved sterilisation in 3 months in the 2019 survey (58.5%). A potential cause of this decrease is to Covid-19 shutdowns in the medical industry leading to an increase in procedure wait times. The proportion of participants who have had one or more doctors refuse to perform the procedure has stayed consistent between the two surveys.
The main reasons for people choosing the childfree lifestyle are a lack of interest towards parenthood and an aversion towards children which is consistent with the 2019 survey. Of the people surveyed 67.06% are pet owners or involved in a pet's care, suggesting that this lack of interest towards parenthood does not necessarily mean a lack of interest in all forms of caretaking. The community skews towards a dislike of children overall which correlates well with the 87.81% of users choosing "no, I do not have, did not use to have and will not have a job that makes me heavily interact with children on a daily basis" in answer to, "do you have a job that heavily makes you interact with children on a daily basis?". This is an increase from the 2019 survey. A vast majority of the subreddit identifes as pro-choice (95.5%), a slight increase from the 2019 results. This is likely due to a high level of concern about bodily autonomy and forced birth/parenthood. However only 55.93% support financial abortion, aka for the non-pregnant person in a relationship to sever all financial and parental ties with a child. This is a marked decrease from the 2019 results, where 70% of participants supported financial abortion. Most of our users realised that did not want children young. 58.72% of participants knew they did not want children by the age of 18, with 95.37% of users realising this by age 30. This correlates well with the age distribution of participants. Despite this early realisation of our childfree stance, 80.59% of participants have been "bingoed" at some stage in their lives.
Participants who identify as childfree were asked about their interaction with and preferences with regards to the subreddit at large. Participants who do not meet our definition of being childfree were excluded from these questions. By and large our participants were lurkers (72.32%). Our participants were divided on their favourite flairs with 38.92% selecting "I have no favourite". The next most favourite flair was "Rant", at 16.35%. Our participants were similarly divided on their least favourite flair, with 63.40% selecting "I have no least favourite". In light of these results the flairs on offer will remain as they have been through 2019. With regards to "lecturing" posts, this is defined as a post which seeks to re-educate the childfree on the practices, attitudes and values of the community, particularly with regards to attitudes towards parenting and children, whether at home or in the community. A commonly used descriptor is "tone policing". A small minority of the survey participants (3.36%) selected "yes" to allowing all lectures, however 33.54% responded "yes" to allowing polite, respectful lectures only. In addition, 45.10% of participants indicated that they were not sure if lectures should be allowed. Due to the ambiguity of responses, lectures will continue to be not allowed and removed. Many of our participants (36.87%) support the use of terms such as breeder, mombie/moo, daddict/duh on the subreddit, with a further 32.63% supporting use of these terms in context of bad parents only. This is a slight drop from the 2019 survey. In response to this use of the above and similar terms to describe parents remains permitted on this subreddit. However, we encourage users to keep the use of these terms to bad parents only. 44.33% of users support the use of terms to describe children such as crotchfruit on the subreddit, a drop from 55.3% last year. A further 25.80% of users supporting the use of this and similar terms in context of bad children only, an increase from 17.42% last year. In response to this use of the above and similar terms to describe children remains permitted on this subreddit. 69.17% of participants answered yes to allowing parents to post, provided they stay respectful. In response to this, parent posts will continue to be allowed on the subreddit. As for regret posts, which were to be revisited in this year's survey, only 9.5% of participants regarded them as their least favourite post. As such they will continue to stay allowed. 64% of participants support under 18's who are childfree participating in the subreddit with a further 19.59% allowing under 18's to post dependent on context. Therefore we will continue to allow under 18's that stay within the overall Reddit age requirement. There was divide among participants as to whether "newbie" questions should be removed. An even spread was noted among participants who selected remove and those who selected to leave them as is. We have therefore decided to leave them as is. 73.80% of users selected "yes, in their own post, with their own "Leisure" flair" to the question, "Should posts about pets, travel, jetskis, etc be allowed on the sub?" Therefore we will continue to allow these posts provided they are appropriately flaired.
Thank you to our participants who contributed to the survey. This has been an unusual and difficult year for many people. Stay safe, and stay childfree.
*These are preliminary Patch Notes and changes may still happen until the launch of Title Update 10.
New Season – Keener’s Legacy
A new season is almost upon us! Starting on June 23rd, Keener’s Legacy offers 12 weeks of in-game activities and unique rewards. Season 2 brings a new Seasonal Manhunt, new Leagues, a new Global event and new unique rewards, as well as an Apparel Event.
New Manhunt tasking you to take on 5 rogue agents over a 12-week period starting June 23rd. Bring down all five to unlock the new Healing Trap skill variant.
New Global Event Hollywood
New Apparel Event Phoenix Down
New Leagues Termite, Luna, Huntsman and Titan.
2 new Exotics
1 new Gear Set
2 new Named Weapons
2 new Named Gear
1 new Brand Set
Participating in the activities above will earn players Season experience contributing to their Season level.
Playing Conflict will contribute XP by gaining Conflict Levels beyond 30.
Playing in the Dark Zone will contribute XP by gaining DZ Levels beyond 30.
New Raid - Operation Iron Horse
The True Sons have taken over a Foundry to develop new weapons and threaten to destroy everything the Division has worked for.
New bosses, puzzles and rewards!
Level 40 version available on June 30th, followed the next week by the level 30 version.
Discovery mode will become available at a later date.
2 new Exotics
2 new Gear Sets
New cosmetic rewards
Further details will become available closer to the raid’s release in late June.
Balance and Bug Fixes
Title Update 10 is bringing our first large balance pass following the release of Warlords of New York. Beyond the addition of new content, the update focuses on three main aspects mainly game health through bug fixes and balancing, generosity by increasing your chances to receive a high-quality item as loot and increasing overall player power. Scroll down for a full list of bug fixes, balancing changes and gameplay tweaks.
Missing Localized Audio
We wanted to inform you about an issue with localized audio that will be present when we launch Title Update 10 and Season 2. While the team was able to work from home to get this update ready, with your help testing the content on the PTS, we unfortunately were not able to record all localized audio content for TU10. With everything going on in the world, our top priority is the well-being of our teams, including our voice actors. Of course, we will start working on recording the missing audio with our partners when it is safe to do so and, in some cases, we were able to get things started already. Adding the localized files to the game as soon as we can in one of our next updates is an absolute priority for the team. This only affects Seasonal content. Operation Iron Horse audio is fully localized. If you are currently playing with a non-English client, you don’t have to change anything going into Title Update 10. When localized audio is missing you will just hear the English audio instead. Subtitles have been localized and can be activated in the ingame options. As work continues, we will update you on the progress of the integration here on the forums and on State of the Game. Thank you and stay safe!
SRS Sniper Rifle: Mantis
Your scoped view displays additional information about enemies not targeting you
Your scoped view highlights enemy weakpoints
Headshot and weak point damage against enemies not targeting you amplified by 50%
Headshot kills reset the cooldown of the Decoy skill. This bonus will wait until the Decoy goes on cooldown if currently active
Status effects also apply a damage over time debuff for 10s
Total damage dealt is equal to 50% of your concussion grenade damage and increased by your status effect attributes
Double Barrel Rifle: The Ravenous (Operation Iron Horse)
On trigger-pull, fire both barrels at once
When fired from the right shoulder, hits add offensive primers, and defensive primers when fired from the left shoulder
Hits from one shoulder will detonate all of the opposite shoulder's primers when present
When detonated or affected enemy is killed, each offensive primer deals 100% weapon damage, while each defensive primer grants +4% bonus armor and +10% amplified damage to armor plates for 5s
Primer effectiveness is doubled at 10 stacks
Magnum Pistol: Regulus (Operation Iron Horse)
Headshot kills create a 5m explosion, dealing 400% weapon damage and applying bleed to all enemies hit.
High accuracy and base damage
New Gear Sets
Eclipse Protocol (Season 2)
Core: Skill Tier (Yellow)
2: +15% Status Effects
3: +15% Skill Haste and +30% Hazard Protection
4: "Indirect Transmission" Your status effects now spread on kill to all enemies within 15m and refresh 50% of the duration.
Chest talent: "Proliferation" Increases Indirect Transmission range from 15m to 20m and refresh percentage from 50% to 75%
Backpack talent: "Symptom Aggravator" Amplifies all damage you deal to status affected targets by 15%
Foundry Bulwark (Operation Iron Horse)
Core: Armor (Blue)
2: +10% Armor
3: +3% Armor Regeneration
4: "Makeshift Repairs" Whenever you or your shield take damage, 20% of that amount is repaired to both over 15s
Chest talent: "Process Refinery" Increases Makeshift Repairs from 20% to 30% over 15s
Backpack talent: "Improved Materials" Increases Makeshift Repairs speed from 15s to 10s
Future Initiative (Operation Iron Horse)
Core: Skill Tier (Yellow)
2: +30% Repair Skills
3: +30% Skill Duration and +15% Skill Haste
4: "Ground Control" Increases you and your allies' total weapon and skill damage by 15% when at full armor
When you repair an ally, you and all allies within 5m of you are also repaired for 60% of that amount
Chest talent: "Tactical Superiority" Increases Ground Control damage bonus from +15% to +25%
Backpack talent: "Advanced Combat Tactics" Increases Ground Control proximity repair from 60% to 120%
New Gear Brand
Walker, Harris & Co.
Core: Weapon Damage (Red)
1: +5.0% Weapon Damage
2: +5.0% Damage to Armor
3: +5.0% Damage to Health
New Named Weapons
Mechanical Animal (SIG 556) with Future Perfection
Weapon kills grant +1 skill tier for 19s. Stacks up to 3 times.
Weapon kills at skill tier 6 grant overcharge for 15s.
Overcharge Cooldown: 90s
Harmony (Resolute MK47) with Perfectly In Sync
Hitting an enemy grants +20% skill damage for 5s.
Using a skill or damaging an enemy with a skill grants +20% weapon damage for 5s.
Damage increases are doubled while both buffs are active at the same time.
New Named Gear
Matador (Walker, Harris & Co. backpack) with Perfect Adrenaline Rush
When you are within 10m of an enemy, gain 23% bonus armor for 5s. Stacks up to 3 times.
Chainkiller (Walker, Harris & Co. chest) with Perfect Headhunter. After killing an enemy with a headshot, your next weapon hit within 30s deals 150% of that killing blow’s damage in addition to it.
Damage is capped to 800% of your weapon damage. This is raised to 1250% if your headshot damage is greater than 150%.
New Skill Variant
The Repair Trap deploys a line of small devices capable of repairing friendlies in their proximity.
Note: The Repair Trap will not be available in-game until the Seasonal prime target unlocks in August.
Weapon Talent: Future Perfect
Weapon kills grant +1 skill tier for 15s. Stacks up to 3 times.
Weapon kills at skill tier 6 grant overcharge for 15s.
Overcharge Cooldown: 90s
Weapon Talent: In Sync
Hitting an enemy grants +15% skill damage for 5s.
Using a skill or damaging an enemy with a skill grants +15% weapon damage for 5s.
Damage increases are doubled while both buffs are active at the same time.
Backpack Talent: Adrenaline Rush
When you are within 10m of an enemy, gain 20% bonus armor for 5s. Stacks up to 3 times.
Chest Talent: Headhunter
After killing an enemy with a headshot, your next weapon hit within 30s deals 125% of that killing blow’s damage in addition to it.
Damage is capped to 800% of your weapon damage. This is raised to 1250% if your headshot damage is greater than 150%.
Reduced how many elites will spawn in the following mission:
Manning National Zoo
Coney Island Ballpark
Coney Island Amusement Park
Camp White Oak
Space Administration HQ
Federal Emergency Bunker
Added all new season 2 weapons/gear to general loot pools
Updated item power distribution to have a better spread between minimum and maximum for all difficulties
Increased minimum rolled item power for Field Proficiency/DZ caches, Clan caches and Season caches.
Regular loot from loot containers in Missions now scale with mission difficulty
Targeted loot from loot containers in Missions now scales with mission difficulty
Loot containers part of living world activities now scale with global difficulty
Increased targeted loot drop chances for all mission and Control Point difficulties
Added new season 2 brand to targeted loot rotation
Warlords of New York brands can now also show up as targeted loot in DC, including Dark Zones
Increased named item drop chance in regular Dark Zone loot
Increased named item drop chance in targeted loot everywhere
Added Warlords of New York/Season 1 Exotics (excluding The Bighorn) to targeted loot
Added Warlords of New York/Season 1 Exotics (excluding The Bighorn) to general Exotic loot pools (Heroic/Legendary/Raid/Exotic Cache)
Coyote's Mask drop from Coyote no longer has a minimum season level requirement
Removed regular weapon/gear loot containers not scaling with difficulty from Control Points
Increased the amount of scaling loot from the big Control Point reward container
Increased NPC loot drop chance for Veterans and Elites on Legendary difficulty
Crafting will now guarantee a higher minimum item power, resulting in higher overall stat rolls. An increased maximum item power also allows for better crafted items than before. The added weighting between the minimum and maximum power results in a more balanced average outcome for crafted and reconfigured items
Removed final World Tier 5 crafting bench upgrade, as its power increase is now redundant
Added Named Items to both Open World and Dark Zone vendors
Increased prices for Named Items
Increased item power for all vendors
Vendors no longer sell Superior quality items at maximum level
Added Field Proficiency cache to SHD level-up after reaching the maximum season level
Increased crafting material rewards for spending SHD level points in the Scavenging category
Added Season/SHD experience gain on Conflict level-up
Rogue Agent Encounters
Every Rogue Agent killed will now drop loot
Rogue Agent encounters no longer occur during time trials
Control Point Officers
Players revived by a Control Point Officer will now have 80% of their armor restored (Previously 0%)
Reduced the likelihood of Control Point Officers being downed in combat
Bounties acquired by speaking to characters in the open world will always be set to the difficulty at time of acquisition or higher.
This affects the Snitch and civilians rescued during the Public Execution or Rescue Living World Activities.
Scheduled bounties, such as daily and clan bounties, are unaffected.
Developer comment: Bounties acquired in the open world should always provide challenge and loot appropriate to the world they were acquired in. Upping your global difficulty now has the added benefit of improving all bounties you acquire within it.
New Season Pass Holder Project Slot.
Season Pass holders now have access to an exclusive daily mission which provides a large bonus to XP.
Weekly SHD Requisition Project Slot
Endgame players at World Tier 5 and Level 40 now have a weekly supplies donation project which rewards them with an exotic cache. (For World Tier 5 players, this replaces the previous daily SHD Requisition project.)
Legendary Mission Project
After TU10, completing any legendary mission will grant you the Weekly Legendary Mission project slot.
Completing the designated legendary mission will reward you with an exotic cache.
Developer comment: With the addition of "re-rolls" to exotics available through crafting, we created the new Weekly projects to provide a reliable supply of exotic components or exotic items.
Incoming Repairs no longer increases the amount of armor repaired by armor kits, talents or gear set effects.
Developer comment: Incoming Repairs was always meant to be the defensive attribute equivalent to Repair Skills, so that players could further enhance the amount of healing they receive from their skills, or the group's healer. Unfortunately, the underlying code prevented us from differentiating between alternate sources of armor repair, such as those from talents and gear sets like Foundry Bulwark, or Firewall's unique armor kit effect. We wanted to address this during the development of Warlords of New York, but chose to post-pone the fix in order to deal with higher priority issues at the time. We underestimated the extent to which this attribute would affect the new Warlords meta, and failed to predict the severity of degenerate gameplay it would cause when combined with certain talents or gear sets. It's important to stress that this is not a PvP-only issue, or an instance of the PvP environment affecting PvE balance. Incoming Repairs was compromising both aspects of the game, and needed to be addressed, especially considering this update coincides with the release of a new raid. Not addressing the issue would mean forcing ourselves to balance all existing and future gear and talents around the knowledge that players could potentially (read: very likely) double the amount of repairs they receive, which stifles creativity and effectively limits player choice.
1% Weapon Handling now gives 1% Weapon Accuracy, Stability, Reload Speed, and Swap Speed, up from 0.25%.
Reduced the maximum amount of Weapon Handling rolled on gear by 6%, to a maximum of 8% at level 40.
Developer comment: In the current meta, Weapon Handling on gear is considered a dead stat with no significant benefit. In TU10, equipping a piece of gear with +8% Weapon Handling will now give you:
+8% Swap Speed
+8% Reload Speed
This should hopefully make Weapon Handling a strong complimentary attribute for players looking to increase their overall accuracy/stability (bloom + recoil) and/or reload/swap speed. Making the % amount of Weapon Accuracy/Stability/Swap Speed/Reload Speed gained from Weapon Handling 1:1 will also remove another element of arcane knowledge from the game and reduce the need for additional mental math when determining whether the bonus is an upgrade or not.
Leadership: Bonus Armor increased to 15% from 12%
Spike: Skill Damage Duration increased to 15s from 8s
Reformation: Skill Repair Duration increased to 15s from 8s
Creeping Death: No Longer goes on cooldown if there are no valid nearby enemies to apply a status effect to. Status effects applied now properly copy the source status effect’s damage and duration.
Global Damage Modifiers
Reduced all PvP weapon damage by -20%
Additional Damage Modifiers
Increased MMR PvP weapon damage by 12.5%
Reduced Assault Rifle PvP weapon damage by -15%
Reduced Shotgun PvP damage by -12.5%
Reduced SMG PvP damage by -10%
Reduced Pistol PvP damage by -10%
Reduced Rifle PvP damage by -5%
_Developer comment: With TU10, there have been significant buffs made to the base damage of assault rifles, SMGs, and shotguns in particular. In order to prevent those weapons from becoming overly powerful in PvP, we’ve had to lower their PvP damage modifiers to compensate. Note: Assault rifles are still tuned to be 10% stronger than normal in PvP in order to compensate for their innate Damage to Health bonus being less useful against other players when compared to other weapon archetypes._
Specific Damage Modifiers
Increased Double Barrel Shotgun PvP damage by 16.6%
Reduced Pestilence PvP damage by -10%
Reduced Classic M1A damage by -5%
Merciless/Ruthless: “Binary Trigger” amplified weapon damage and explosion damage reduced by -50% in PvP
Dodge City Gunslinger’s Holster: “Quick Draw” damage bonus gained per stack in PvP lowered from +2% to +1%
Stacks gained per second in PvP now match the PvE value (0.5s to 0.3s)
No longer automatically applies burn status effect to the nearest enemy in range.
Now requires maintaining range and LOS (line-of-sight) for 3 seconds between the holster bearer and nearest enemy before applying the burn status effect.
Added visual UI feedback to reveal the radius of effect in PvP and an indicator for LOS between the holster bearer and nearest enemy.
Developer comment: This should help address the lack of contextual feedback in PvP, and add a much needed window of opportunity for counterplay, or potential to avoid the incoming effect entirely.
* Pestilence * Plague of the Outcast damage-over-time effect no longer triggers True Patriot’s white debuff armor repair effect. (PvP and PvE)
Developer comment: While we like to embrace emergent or unintended mechanics when the end result is unique and fun gameplay, True Patriot’s white debuff explicitly states it requires shooting the debuffed target in order to receive the armor repair effect. Pestilence’s DoT managed to bypass this restriction, making it and True Patriot (especially when combined with Incoming Repairs) scale to disproportionate levels of power when used together.
Gear Set Modifiers
Reduced the range at which marked targets can damage each other when critically hit to 15m (PvP only).
Added visual UI feedback when in range of another marked target.
Efficient: Reduced specialization armor kit bonus from 100% to 50%
Versatile: Reduced the amplified weapon damage bonus for SMGs and shotguns from 35% to 25%
Vanguard: Reduced the duration of shield invulnerability from 5s to 2s
Note: UI will still show the old duration, but will be fixed in a later update.
Specialization Modifiers * Firewall * Extracellular Matrix Mesh armor kit regen strength reduced by -50%, from 200% to 150%
Pulse now correctly reveals and highlights all players in the DZ, not just hostiles/rogues
Increased Striker Drone damage by 30%
Increased Assault Turret damage by 55%
Reduced Firestarter Chem Launcher PvP damage by -20%
Reduced Bleed damage from Stinger Hive, Mortar Turret and Explosive Seeker Mine by 75%
Increased Stinger Hive damage by 20%, scaling up to 55% at skill tier 6
Developer commentary: We want dedicated skill builds to have multiple, powerful defensive tools for area denial/control. However, the strength of bleed effects meant being hit by just 1 stinger drone, mortar, or seeker mine was nearly a death sentence for most builds. The stinger hive should now better punish players who remain within its area of effect, rather than needing to rely entirely on the excessive damage of a single bleed DoT, while allowing the hive’s drone damage to scale higher for dedicated skill builds.
AK-M – 15.8% damage increase
F2000 – 14.3% damage increase
Military AK-M – 13.2% damage increase
Black Market AK-M – 13.2% damage increase
FAL – 12.0% damage increase
FAL SA-58 – 12.0% damage increase
FAL SA-58 Para – 12.0% damage increase
SOCOM Mk 16 – 11.4% damage increase
Tactical Mk 16 – 11.4% damage increase
Mk 16 – 11.4% damage increase
AUG A3-CQC – 11.2% damage increase
Honey Badger – 10.9% damage increase
FAMAS 2010 – 10.6% damage increase
ACR – 9.7% damage increase
ACR-E – 9.7% damage increase
Military G36 – 9.5% damage increase
G36 C – 9.5% damage increase
G36 Enhanced – 9.5% damage increase
Carbine 7 – 8.7 % damage increase
Military P416 – 7.4% damage increase
Custom P416 G3 - 7.4% damage increase
Police M4 – 6.8% damage increase
CTAR 21 – 8.6% damage increase
Classic M60 – 12.5% damage increase
Classic RPK-74 – 12.4% damage increase
Military RPK-74 M – 12.4% damage increase
Black Market RPK-74 E – 12.4% damage increase
Military M60 E4 – 9.2% damage increase
Black Market M60 E6 – 9.2% damage increase
Military L86 LSW – 8.5% damage increase
Custom L86 A2 – 8.5% damage increase
IWI NEGEV – 2.6% damage increase
Stoner LMG – 2.0% damage increase
M249 B – No changes
Tactical M249 Para – No changes
Military MK46 – No changes
MG5 – No changes
Infantry MG5 – 3.2% damage decrease
Model 700 – 14.9% damage increase
Hunting M44 – 13.5% damage increase
Classic M44 Carbine – 12.5% damage increase
G28 – 11.4% damage increase
SOCOM Mk20 SSR – 9.3% damage increase
SR-1 - 8.6% damage increase
Custom M44 – 8.1% damage increase
M700 Tactical – 8.1% damage increase
M700 Carbon – 8.1% damage increase
Covert SRS – 6.0% damage increase
SRS A1 – 6.0% damage increase
Surplus SVD – 2.9% damage decrease
Paratrooper SVD – 2.9% damage decrease
UIC15 MOD – 21.6% damage increase
1886 – 21.3% damage increase
LVOA-C – 12.1% damage increase
M1A CQB – 10.7% damage increase
Lightweight M4 – 10.5% damage increase
G 716 CQB – 8.7% damage increase
SIG 716 – 6.7% damage increase
ACR SS – 3.7% damage increase
SOCOM M1A – No changes
M16A2 – No changes
USC .45 ACP - 2.8% damage decrease
Urban MDR – 5.5% damage decrease
Military Mk17 – 11.8% damage decrease
Police Mk17 - 11.8% damage decrease
Classic M1A - 12.6% damage decrease
Tommy Gun – 38.8% damage increase
PP-19 – 29.6% damage increase
Enhanced PP-19 – 29.6% damage increase
MP7 – 27.5% damage increase
MPX – 17.7% damage increase
M1928 – 20.0% damage increase
P90 – 15.6% damage increase
Converted SMG-9 – 15.8% damage increase
Black Market T821 – 15.4% damage increase
Police T821 – 15.4% damage increase
Vector SBR .45 ACP – 14.7% damage increase
CMMG Banshee – 12.5% damage increase
Police UMP-45 – 12.0% damage increase
Tactical UMP-45 – 12.0% damage increase
AUG A3 Para XS – 11.8% damage increase
Enhanced AUG A3P – 11.8 % damage increase
Tactical AUG A3P – 11.8% damage increase
Converted SMG-9 A2 – 11.6% damage increase
MP5A2 – 10.0% damage increase
MP5-N – 10.0% damage increase
MP5 ST – 10.0% damage increase
Tactical Vector SBR 9mm – 5.9% damage increase
M870 Express – 23.3% damage increase
Military M870 – 23.3% damage increase
Custom M870 MCS – 23.3% damage increase
Super 90 – 23.2% damage increase
Marine Super 90 – 23.2% damage increase
Tactical Super 90 SBS – 23.2% damage increase
SASG-12 – 21.3% damage increase
Tactical SASG-12 K – 21.3% damage increase
Black Market SASG-12 S – 21.3% damage increase
SPAS-12 – 18.6% damage increase
KSG Shotgun – 9.0% damage increase
Double Barrel Sawed Off Shotgun – Optimal Range reduced to 8m from 11m
586 Magnum – 68.8% damage increase
Police 686 Magnum – 68.8% damage increase
Maxim 9 - 23.5% damage increase
D50 – 17.5% damage increase
First Wave PF45 – 13.5% damage increase
Custom PF45 – 9.7% damage increase
Military M9 – 8.7% damage increase
93R - 7.7% damage increase
Snubnosed Diceros – 6.5% damage increase
Officer's M9 A1 – 6.3% damage increase
Diceros – 5.9% damage increase
M45A1 – 9.5% damage decrease
Tactical M1911 – 9.5% damage decrease
M1911 – 7.3% damage decrease
Developer comment: Along with the buffs to weapon damage, TU10's significant buff to weapon handling meant some exotic weapon mods no longer made sense or resulted in over tuned performance that no longer fit with the original design. We also took this opportunity to make improvements to underperforming exotic
Damage increased by +11.2%
Increased optimal range from 27m to 40m
Optics mod bonus increased from +0% to +30% Headshot Damage
Magazine mod bonus changed from +7% Headshot Damage to +10% Reload Speed
Added functionality that provides additional headshot damage, full talent is now:
When scoped, switches to semi-automatic fire mode, dealing 450% weapon damage with each shot.
(New) Headshots grant +2% headshot damage. Stacks up to 50 times. Resets to 0 at full stacks.
Damage increased by +7.8%
Underbarrel mod bonus changed from +10% Stability to +10% Weapon Handling
Damage increased by +32.8%
Optics mod bonus changed from +15% Accuracy to +15% Critical Hit Chance
Muzzle mod bonus changed from +5% Critical Hit Chance to +20% Accuracy
Underbarrel mod bonus changed from +10% Critical Hit Chance to +10% Stability
Optimal range increased by 33.3%, from 15m to 20m
Long range effectiveness increased by 19%, from 42m to 50m
Added functionality that retains your current buffs to the next combat encounter when combat ends, full talent is now:
Hitting 30 headshots grant +20% critical hit chance and +50% critical hit damage for 45s.
Hitting 75 body-shots grant +90% weapon damage for 45s.
Hitting 30 leg-shots grant +150% reload speed for 45s.
(New) Buffs refresh when out of combat.
Damage increased by +2.6%
Damage increased by +11.1%
Optics mod bonus increased from +35% to +45% Headshot Damage
Underbarrel mod bonus reduced from +15% to +5% Weapon Handling
Optics mod bonus changed from +5% Critical Hit Chance to +5% Headshot Damage
Muzzle mod bonus changed from +15% Stability to +5% Critical Hit Chance
Magazine mod bonus changed from +15% Reload Speed to +15% Weapon Handling
Added functionality to provide extra damage if you're trying to keep stacks, full talent is now:
(New) Hits grant +2% weapon damage. Stacks up to 30.
Headshots consume all stacks, repairing your shield for 3% per stack.
No longer highlights enemy weakpoints when aiming.
Damage increased by +12.5%
Muzzle mod bonus reduced from +20% to +10% Stability
Underbarrel mod bonus reduced from +20% to +10% Weapon Handling
Magazine mod bonus reduced from +15% to +10% Reload Speed
Added functionality to provide extra non-explosive damage as well, full talent is now:
This weapon fires on trigger pull and release.
If both bullets hit the same enemy, gain a stack.
(New) At 7 stacks, shooting an enemy deals 500% amplified damage and creates a 7m explosion dealing 500% weapon damage, consuming the stacks.
Developer Comment: Merciless was previously balanced for its very unwieldy handling and compensated with very high burst damage. With access to much higher accuracy and stability, Binary Trigger’s explosion strength has been toned down.
Damage increased by +7.7%
Text updated to clarify a new target isn’t marked until after the 5s buff.
Damage increased by +11.0%
Damage increased by +18.9%
Optics mod bonus increased from +5% to +10% Critical Hit Chance
Muzzle mod bonus changed from +5% Critical Hit Chance to +5% Critical Hit Damage
Underbarrel mod changed from +5% Critical Hit Damage to +500% Melee Damage
Breathe Free: Lowered the amount of maximum stacks from 40 to 32, and increased the damage amplification per stack from 60% to 75%
Damage increased by +16.7%
Optics mod bonus increased from +5% to +15% Critical Hit Chance
Muzzle mod bonus changed from +10% Critical Hit Chance to +5% Critical Hit Damage
Underbarrel mod bonus reduced from +15% to +10% Weapon Handling
Magazine mod bonus changed from +10% Reload Speed to +10 Rounds
Magazine base capacity reduced from 60 to 50
Muzzle mod bonus changed from +10% Stability to +10% Accuracy
Underbarrel mod bonus changed from +10% Weapon Handling to +10% Stability
NinjaBike Messenger Kneepads
Added functionality to add bonus armor, full talent is now:
(New) Performing a cover to cover or vaulting reloads your drawn weapon and grants +25% bonus armor for 5s.
Dodge City Gunslinger Holster
Added functionality that makes your hit do headshot damage, full talent is now:
While your pistol is holstered, gain a stacking buff every 0.3s, up to 100. When you swap to it, your first shot consumes the buff and deals +10% damage per stack.
(New) This deals headshot damage to anywhere you hit.
Changed functionality to no longer grant group/raid-wide overcharge unless you are skill tier 6
Added functionality to provide hive skill haste, full talent is now:
(New) Grants +15% Hive skill haste per skill tier.
(Changed) Detonating a hive refreshes your skill cooldowns and grants overcharge for 15s.If at Skill Tier 6, this effect also applies to all allies.
Allies receiving this effect are unable to benefit from it again for 120s.
Added functionality to continue to provide damage bonus move for a short duration, full talent is now:
Cannot be staggered by explosions.
Increases total weapon damage by 3% each second you are not moving. Stacks up to 10 until you start moving.
(New) All stacks lost 10s after moving.
Gear Set Changes
Feedback Loop no longer fully refreshes the cooldown of a skill, but instead reduces it by up to 30s
Hollow-Point Ammo is no longer dropped on kill, and instead automatically added to your active weapon when killing status afflicted enemies
Backpack Talent (New)
Increases the duration of your bleed status effects by 50% and all bleed damage done by 100%
Increased 3-piece Reload Speed bonus from +20% to +30%
Tip of the Spear
Main Talent (PVE)
Aggressive Recon's weapon damage buff is now gained when dealing specialization weapon damage, instead of on specialization weapon kill
Main Talent (PVP)
Aggressive Recon's weapon damage buff is now gained when dealing grenade damage, instead of on grenade kill
Backpack Talent (New)
Increases specialization weapon damage by 20%, and doubles the amount of specialization ammo generated by Aggressive Recon
Aces and Eights
"Poker Face" backpack talent is now a baseline effect:
Flip an additional card on headshots
Backpack Talent (New)
“Ace in the Sleeve”
Amplifies 1 extra shot when revealing your hand
3-piece Headshot Damage bonus is now additive, rather than multiplicative
Increased 3-piece Headshot Damage bonus from +20% to +30%
Now repairs 20% of your armor in addition to granting 50% bonus armor
Increases total weapon damage by 1% per 5% bonus armor gained, up to 20%
Reduced the number of stacks lost on missed shots from 3 to 2
No longer reduces number of stacks lost on missed shots
(New) Increases total weapon damage gained per stack of Striker's Gamble from 0.5% to 0.65%.
Damage transfers on the initial bullet that marks a new target
Increased 3-piece Repair Skills bonus from +15% to +30%
Brand Set ChangesAlps Summit Armament
Increased 1-piece Repair Skills bonus from +15% to +20%
Increased 2-piece Repair Skills bonus from +15% to +20%
Richter & Kaiser
Increased 3-piece Repair Skills bonus from +15% to +20%
Incoming Repairs brand set bonus increased from +15% to +20%
Increased 1-piece Headshot Damage bonus from +10% to +15%
Increased 2-piece Headshot Damage bonus from +10% to +15%
Grupo Sombra S.A
Increased 3-piece Headshot Damage bonus from +10% to +15%
Increased 2-piece Accuracy bonus from +10% to +20%
Douglas & Harding
Increased 2-piece Stability bonus from +10% to +20%
Increased 3-piece Accuracy bonus from +10% to +20%
Fenris Group AB
Increased 2-piece Reload Speed bonus from +10% to +20%
Increased 3-piece Stability bonus from +10% to +20%
Gunner specialization's Emplacement talent Weapon Handling bonus reduced from +15% to +10%
Note: The UI will incorrectly say it still adds +15% Weapon Handling. This will be fixed in a future update.
Stinger Hive, Mortar Turret, and Explosive Seeker Mine now display its Bleed Damage and Duration
Cluster Seeker Mine targeting accuracy improved
Developer comment: The Cluster Seeker Mine is not intended to be as accurate as the Explosive variant. Once it is a certain distance from its target it locks the location it is aiming for and continues towards that regardless of where its original target agent has since moved to. This "bullcharge" behavior reflects the mini-mines' less advanced technology and balances the skill mod's effectiveness. This said, we have noticed that the Cluster Seeker's accuracy has been a source of frustration so we've shortened the distance until it activates its "bullcharge" and adjusted when it decides to explode. These adjustments should make the Cluster Seeker feel more accurate, but these are measured steps as we do not want the skill to return to its OP TU7-state.
Stinger Hive base damage reduced -20%
Stinger Hive damage bonus per skill tier increased from +10% to +20%
Developer comment: In order to make investing in skill tiers have a greater impact on the Stinger Hive's damage, we slightly reduced base drone damage, while doubling the amount of damage gained with each skill tier. These changes will result in a net buff for dedicated skill builds, with a 10% increase in Stinger Hive drone damage at skill tier 6.
Restorer hive gains +5% drone flight speed per skill tier
Developer comment: Increases to the Restorer Hive's radius had the unfortunate effect of increasing the time it took for repair drones to reach their target the further they were from the hive. Increasing drone flight speed with each skill tier should help offset that somewhat counter-intuitive behavior when taking advantage of the increased area of effect, and make the Restorer Hive a more reliable tool for healers.
Riot Foam Chem Launcher ensnare duration bonus per skill tier reduced from +20% to +10%
Reinforcer Chem Launcher: UI has been updated to clarify that the initial heal only affects allies and not the Skill user. The functionality has not changed.
Blinder Firefly blind duration bonus per skill tier reduced from +20% to +10%
Blinder Firefly base blind duration reduced from 6s to 5s
Banshee Pulse cooldown increased from 20s to 30s
Banshee Pulse base confuse duration reduced from 5s to 4s
Jammer Pulse base disrupt duration reduced from 4s to 3s
Shock Trap base shock duration reduced from 5s to 3s (PvP duration remains unchanged)
Shock Trap base radius increased from 2m to 2.5m
When the active duration ends, its cooldown is refunded an equal number of seconds that it was active.
OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – ESCAPE FROM STALAG SULTANATE, Part 1
That reminds me of a story. “HELLFIRE AND DALMATIANS!” I shouted to no one in particular. “What’s the problem, dear?” Esme asks in that way she has of telling me to calm down without having to say it directly. “This bloody fucking country. A day late and several dollars short.” I fume. “Can’t get a new liquor license because of the bloody COVID. Can’t go to a hotel bar and have a snort because of the bloody COVID. Can’t even slip across the border to Dubai and soak up some room service and buckets of complimentary cocktails because of the bloody COVID.” Yes, the Sultanate of Oman, in its infinitesimal wisdom, has traditionally followed other GCC countries by at least three months in making any sort of proclamations regarding this latest bugaboo: the hideous, deadly, itchy, loathsome, and possibly serially bent, noxious, pandemical COVID-19; aka, this pandemic’s entry for flu. Their response is one of immense knee-jerk without first having thought of the consequences. “Bloody lockdown, 2100 to 0700. What is this, the whole fucking country’s been bad and now being sent to bed without any supper?” I wondered aloud. “Idiot benchodes.” Even Esme couldn’t come up with a rejoinder to that. “Plus they close all the bars. And all the hotels. And the fucking bottle shops. It’s not enough that these fucking Muppets jack the ‘sin tax’ on booze and cigars by 100%, now they’re not even legally available.” I swore. Of course, once you’ve spent even a small portion of the time that I have in the Middle East, you have your connections. Your system. Your access to the seedy underbelly of any society; the venerable Black Market. Jesus Q. Christ on toast with baked beans, fried tomatoes, black pudding, and mushrooms, I could get most anything in the Middle East, be it legal, shady, or just plain illegal. However, before you all recoil in horror that the venerable Dr. Rocknocker dabbles in the prohibited, just remember: the ends always dojustify the means. “I'm telling you, Esme dear; this Gulf story is getting too complicated. The weasels have started closing in.” I complain to Es as she hands me a fresh drink. “Do you think…?” Esme asks expectantly. Esme is more than ready to go. I’ve used this place as a base of operations for years whilst I wear out the Omani legal system suing those asswipes that think just because they’re local and I’m a kafir, they’re immune to the law. I’ve spent a long, profitable and time-consuming period of the last few years proving them wrong. But, time was marching onwards. I agreed with Esme, we’ve milked this particular cash cow dry. It was time to hitch up our bootstraps, call it a day, and get the hell out of Dodge. But not before I took care of a few loose ends. Now, the country had recently lost its venerable Sultan, who croaked back in January of this year. Sultan Qaboos was a good egg, friend to expat and local alike. Did a shitload of good for this benighted Middle East sandpit. Dragged it kicking and screaming out of the 12th century into, well, not exactly the 21st, but a whole hell of a lot closer. He realized that he needed revolutionary, not evolutionary change in the country. By revolutionary, he needed American, British, Canadian, and the like Western Expats here to do the heavy thinking and lifting and Eastern Expats like Indians, Bangladeshis and Nepalese to do all the scut work. Yeah, I know. That sounds racist as fuck, but sometimes that’s the way the ball bounced. Simple evolution of society where Omanis graduated the local equivalent of grade school, through high school, into University, and finally into Entry level jobs in the oil and gas industry wasn’t going to cut it. Took too long and the country needed a serious cash flow now. So, that’s what he did. And it worked a treat. Then he died. And his chosen took over. Except his chosen was pretty much antithetical to everything the previous and very revered and successful, Sultan wanted. Soon, there are 100% ‘sin taxes’ aimed directly at the western expats. Tourists included. Then there’s quotas and ‘Letters of No Objection’, which are impossible to get so that the Eastern Expats can’t switch jobs. Then, there are Sultanic proclamations of new taxes on tourists, new taxes on fast food, new taxes on this, that and the other. Then there’s, in his own words, “Oman is for Omanis”, blatantly ridiculous and xenophobic Omanization, and the general swipe at all expats. “GET OUT.” This was the clear message of the new sultan. He wanted to take over and possibly nationalize all the oil workings in the country. Ask Venezuela, Iran, and Myanmar how well that worked out for them. Then he wants all expats out on their asses. He wants Omanis to take over all the jobs, even though they’re nowhere near educated nor experienced enough for the positions. Then take up the massive GDP slack in lower oil production and oil prices with tourism. Given everything else, that last line should be enough to get him off the throne. He’s fucking nuts if he thinks people are going to want to cruise or overland anywhere near a place where foreigners are seen only as a cash supply, are despised, and would welcome these all new 100% tax levies. Be that as it may, Esme and I decided that we have had enough of 135O F summer temperatures, virtual house arrest under the guise of a COVID lockdown, and idiots who were the only ones stupid or twisted enough not to vamoose when the great, big bloody letters were clearly written on the wall. But, there was the physical act of getting out of the country. Now, I had plenty of strings which I could pull, but I decided I’d start low and save those until we really needed them. So low, in fact, we went to the US Embassy in Muscat. “How low can you go?” reverberated through my head. What a haven of sad-sacks, flubadubs, and third rate hobbyists. Was either Esme or I surprised that when we finally secured an invitation to the embassy, that required a bit of string-pulling with the ex-Ambassador to Oman, now in Kabul; that besides the peach-fuzz faced Marine guarding the place, we were the only Americans in the joint? “This is American soil!” I laughed, as I pulled out a huge Cuban cigar and was immediately told to extinguish it. “We’re as American as apple pie and napalm! We file our fucking 1040s every April; I pay my fucking long-distance taxes and demand US assistance to vacate this gloomy place of sandy, sweaty, sultry Sturm und Drang!” “Shut up, Rock”, Esme chided me, “They don’t understand English. Much less, the florid English the way you trowel it on.” “Fuckbuckets”, I remonstrated. “Here I had memorized the whole Patrick Henry speech he made to the Second Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775, at St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia. Troglodytes. No admiration for the classics.” “Rock, dear?” Esme noted, “It’s almost 1100 hours. Best to get to our appointment.” True, our appointment was slated for 1100 hours. But around here, anything starting within three hours of the stated time was considered close enough. We dragged ourselves, none too cheerfully, to the waiting room. Once we pried open the door, there was the usual “If you hear a high pitched wail, hit the deck” signs, and other things one could do while kissing one’s ass goodbye if there was a terrorist attack, we had a whole new slew of bullshit with which to deal. “Social distancing. 6 feet. Or if you’re from Baja Canada, 1 cow’s length.” “Must wear a mask. Bandanna, bandoliers, and large-caliber weapons or sombrero optional.” “No sitting. Faux Naugahyde seats are too difficult to sterilize. You must stand at attention, do not talk amongst yourselves, and remain patient until your number is called.” “Well, fuck!”, I snorted quietly, as I raised my first secret flask in rapt attention to our old glory of red, white, and blue. “Good thing they didn’t say nothin’ about getting a load on. If I’m going to be treated like cattle, I’m going to at least have something to chew on in the process.” “Oh, lord”, Esme grumbled, “You didn’t bring that Japanese Rye Whiskey with you, did you?” “ルハイム”, I said, which is Japanese for “L’chaim”! “Oh, hell”, Esme grinned as she borrowed my flask, “This is going to be a long day.” I began to protest but remembered that I was wearing my Agency-issued field vest. I must have had at least 5 or 6 more flasks lurking around in those pockets somewhere. Funny aside: they don’t bother with my going through an X-ray machine nor do they confiscate my phone, radio, knives, nor other field equipment when I go to the US Embassy. It took them almost two solid hours last time, and by the time they got to my Brunton Compass, emergency flasks, a few spare blasting cap boosters, and saw the label sewn into the back of my vest, they decided they’d just send Rack and Ruin some evil Emails and let me pass unmolested. “I’ll drink to that”, I say as I raise a flask as the locals raise an eyebrow. “Courtesy of Atheists International. We’re here for your children…” The collective gasps and growls indicate they weren’t happy with me or my betrothed. “Don’t care, Buckwheat”, I smiled, “Never did, never will. We’re out of here for good. You can curse my name all you want then. But, then again, why you standing in the American Embassy trying to get a visa to visit the land of the great evil empire?” All the locals and most of the Eastern Expats crowded into a corner as far away from us as they physically could. “BOO!” I snickered over a shot of Wild Turkey 101 Rye. “Now serving number 58! Number 58!” came the call over the tannoy. “Look at that”, I remarked to Es as I stashed both our flasks, “It’s only 12:35. Record time.” We both shimmy into the glass-fronted and presumably bullet- but not C-4 resistant- glass. We pick up the telephones there and acknowledge that we are who we said we were. The East Indian fella, one Harsh Talavalakar, behind the multiple layers of glass asked us why we were here. “Didn’t you read the appointment card?” I asked, “We’re here to have Uncle Sam get us passage out of this sordid and sultry place.” “You are American citizens?” he asked, vacantly. “That’s what it says on appointment cards and these here blue passports,” I replied. “Well, how was I to know?” he scoffed, returning to his half-consumed powdered sugar doughnut. “Maybe read the appointment card and see that we are US Citizens here on the behest of Ambassador Bethesda Orun?” I replied. “Like I have time to read everything that comes across my desk”, he scoffed again. I tapped on the glass to make certain I had his full attention. “Look here, Herr Harsh. I’m not sure how you got this job at the American Consulate but want to be very clear with you. My wife and I are residents of this place for the last 20 years. We’re American citizens of very high standing and have more high powered connections than an Arduino in a nuclear power station. We have direct connections with Langley, Virginia and if you want to retain your cushy job, you’ll put down that fucking doughnut and pay very rapt attention to the two Americans standing here who are getting more and more irritated with some Indian benchode that doesn’t think he has to really do his job. You savvy? You diggin’ me, Beaumont” I guess the benchode got his attention. The two scowls he received from Esme and myself sort of cemented the idea that we’re not too pleased and not with to be trifled. “Yes, sir?” he said, “And ma’am”, as Harsh quickly corrected himself as the doughnut disappeared. “We want out. Gone. Vamoose. Outta here. AMF. You got me?” he nods behind the shatterprone glass. “Now I know the borders are sealed and the airport’s closed, but fuck that. We want out and we want gone for good. I can’t make that much simpler or clearer. Get after it, son.” I said, as seriously as I could. “Well, sir”, he began, “ The airport’s closed…” “Are you deaf or born stupid and been losing ground ever since?” I asked, rhetorically. “I know that. We all know that. My HAT knows that. So, what devious little plan does the US Embassy have in store in just such an unsavory situation?” “Well”, he chokes a bit, “There’s this unofficial lottery where America citizens are issued random numbers and if their number comes up, there are seats made available on special clandestine charter flights.” Considering that Es and I are some of the last American citizens left in the country, I thought our chances might be pretty good. “OK”, I said, “Let us have two of your finest numbers.” “Yes, sir”, he said, “That will be US$500 total.” “Excuse me?” I said. “Oh, yes”, he smirked, “US$250 per number. Chances are you’ll never be called, but with these numbers, at least you stand a chance.” “OK”, I said, “Forget the numbers. I want your name and operating number. I’ve got a report to file that’s due in Virginia before breakfast.” “Oh, sir”, he smirked more, “I cannot release that information. Thanking you. Now be having a good day.” And he slammed the supposedly bulletproof shield between himself and Es and me. “Bulletproof? Maybe. Nitro proof? No fucking way.” I groused as I fished out a couple of blasting cap superfast boosters. “Calm down, dear”, Esme smiled to me as we walked out, “When he wasn’t looking, I took his picture, got his operating number, and full name. In fact, I think I got some information on where he lives…” In the cab on the way back to our villa, I reviewed and confirmed Es’s subterfuge. Flasks number 6 and 8 needed serious replenishment by the time we arrived home. “That’s fucking right, Ruin.” I yelled over the phone, “We need extraction. And now. Along with our personal effects and a few hundredweight of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ boxes of stuff we need to be transported.” “Well, Rock”, Agent Ruin replied, “That’s a tall order. Usually, extraction is for one person and the stuff they’re wearing. Tell you what. Let Rack and I work on it for a week or so. We’ll arrange transport of your personal effects, then we’ll see about getting you and Esme to Dubai. At least there, you can order a plane. Hell, knowing you, you’ll get Tony Stark to fly in and provide door to door service. Sit tight. We’ll be back in touch.” “Good!” I say as I slam the phone down. With these newfangled cellphone telephone instruments, they lack the same sort of satisfying “KER FUCKING CLANG” the old landlines used to have. “Es!”, I yelled, “Start packing. We’re due out of here within a week.” That meant we needed to do some packing triage: • Things going home with us. • Things being shipped. • Things being sold. • Things being left behind. • Things no one was about to get their furry little mitts on. “Oh, fuck!”, I startled. I had just remembered the John Wick-ian stash of various explosives, and adjunct materials I had buried in the basement. Obviously, I couldn’t take it home with me, I couldn’t sell it, and I sure as festering frothing fuck wasn’t going to leave it here. I needed to call one of my more shifty and swarthy friends and arrange for passage out to the deep, dark desert. Around the area where the new sultan had opened a couple of brand new landfills. Looks like I was going to expand them a few meters once we disposed of the few hundred kilos of accumulation I attained over the last few years. See, I’m a packrat. I never leave nor toss anything that might be convenient. Might have a benefit. Might prove to be useful sometime down the line. So, I’ve accumulated a bit of kit. Like…well…a few hundred sticks of Du Pont 60% Extra Fast Dynamite. A couple dozen spools of Z-4 Primacord, in various degrees of fullness. A shitload of C-4; enough bricks for a Floydian wall. A couple, well, a dozen, well, two dozen cases of binary liquid explosives. Hey, this stuff is hard to come by… Continuing, several thousand blasting caps and superfast flash blasting cap boosters. Some mercury fulminate. Some nitrogen triiodide. A couple tens of pounds of PETN. An equal amount of RDX. A few Erlenmeyer flasks full of shit even I’m not certain of what it is… Oh. And a few kilos of freshly decanted, raw nitroglycerin; packed in sturdy wooden boxes lined with new fuzzy lamb’s wool. Not that much. Just 10 or 12 kilos. Yeah. I can’t leave that here. Even a small accident with this stuff would lay waste to not only our villa; but my landlord’s villa with whom we share a common wall. Besides, as Omanis go, my landlord was the only dishdasha dressed denizen for which I had any respect or admiration. He was a good guy. I needed to return his villa at least in some semblance of what I received when we first rented from him. So, I had to dispose of many, many billions of kilojoules of potential energy. I needed to do this out in a distant and far away from prying ears and eyes regions and I needed a truck to haul this stuff out to the range. To be continued…
Space-time rippled as the Horns of Glory snapped into real space. The normally smooth transition from FTL subspace travel back to the laws of relativity was instead dangerously jarring, as the inertial dampeners struggled to hold the innards of the massive warship in their proper places. After straining mightily for the briefest of moments, they failed, throwing Admiral Halon Va and the rest of his bridge crew violently into their restraining harnesses. The ship shuddered under the immense stress, then settled, drifting silently through space on minimal power. “Tactical, get me a status report for the fleet on screen now. I want updates the instant ships jump in.” The Admiral’s voice was still firm and authoritative; it was taking every last shred of resolve he had to keep it that way. “Lieutenant Roshin, put a detail together and work with medical. I’m sure that re-entry caused more than a few extra injuries. Get as many of the crew patched up and ready for emergency action as fast as you can. I want a full casualty report as soon as possible. And if you find Science Officer Lentith and he’s still alive, send him to the bridge immediately.” Admiral Va settled back into his command chair, drawing creaking sounds from the over-stressed frame as it absorbed the weight of his massive form. The bridge was completely silent now, the command crew entirely focused on the tasks at hand. Or they were too afraid to say anything; Va couldn’t be sure. He was thankful for their silence, though. He didn’t have any answers for them about his failure. Keying in a few commands on the command panel at his station, the damage report for his ship popped up, the bridge lights flickering from the extra power draw. The Horns of Glory floated before him in hologram form. Long and slender, the ship was over two kilometers from bow to stern. At least, it had been a few hours ago. The forward 20 percent of the holographic ship was flashing red, indicating heavy damage. This was inaccurate, however, as the forward 20 percent of the ship simply wasn’t there anymore. The graceful lines and carefully crafted angles of the ship's armor were an unrecognizable slagged mess, and deep gouges had been cut into the inner decks all over the ship. Whole sections were missing amidships, two of the main reactors were offline, all the primary weapon batteries had been completely destroyed, and most of the critical systems were barely functioning. It was a miracle that she had survived the jump. That morning, Horns of Glory had been the greatest feat of Arien’Ra engineering, and it was now a barely functioning hulk. And it had all happened under my command, thought Va. He had no time to wallow in his failures, however, as at that moment tactical finally reconnected to the fleet command systems. The hologram of Horns of Glory quickly scaled down, appearing as a small, flashing, red point of light floating in loose formation with several other points of light. Most of them were flashing red as well. A constant stream of data and various reports scrolled down the right side of the hologram, listing in no uncertain terms the doom that Va had subjected his command to. If Va had thought that the bridge was quiet before, it was nothing compared to the complete stillness that now settled over them. No one so much as moved a muscle, as they all sat in stunned silence, reading the reports. Occasionally, the hologram would flash, and a new point of light would join the formation, adding more data to the pile spelling out their damnation. After 30 ticks, new points of light had stopped appearing. Admiral Halon Va had lost over 60 percent of his fleet, and not a single other dreadnaught had survived the slaughter. His defeat was total, and the Federation navy was crippled. Science Officer Beredarin Lentith had been the first member of his family not to enroll in command school in eight generations. They had been some of the finest members of the fleet the Vorqual race had ever contributed to the Federation. His brothers and sisters had all enrolled, which meant that as far as he was concerned, his family had more than fulfilled their duty to the Federation. Military life wasn’t for him, anyway; he wanted to explore. The Federation had been around for over 3000 years, and there were still vast swathes of the galaxy that they knew nothing about. They were still encountering new species every few hundred or so years, and there was nothing he wouldn’t give to find the next one. That had been the dream that directed him away from the military and into academia. The odds of actually finding a new race were so small, though. There were still at least 200,000,000 unexplored systems in the galaxy. There just wasn’t time to visit them all... He snapped out of his reverie as he stepped over the body, or rather, what was left of the body, of a Zelnassi marine. Most of it was just a green stain on the corridor wall at this point, though there had been enough of the chitinous armored torso to partially obstruct his path. The young lieutenant quickly continued on towards the bridge. If he was being honest with himself, becoming an expert on the area of unexplored space directly between the Federation and it’s largest military rival wasn’t the smartest of ideas. Between his family reputation and his unique knowledge base, he was just asking to get pressed into service. Which was exactly what had happened immediately upon the recent outbreak of hostilities. And now here he was stepping over corpses, marveling at the fact that he had somehow survived this long. He still couldn’t believe the insanity of the Dominion forces. Boarding an enemy ship MID-COMBAT. It was like something out of a youngling’s tale from before space travel. It was pure madness, but there were the bodies to prove that it had happened. He gingerly stepped around the remains of yet another Zelnassi. The signs of battle continued all the way to the bridge, where he found security forces still holding quickly fortified positions around the bridge entrance. There were more Zelnassi bodies at their feet. Berendarin shuddered. He had been closer to death than he thought. He quickly pushed those thoughts out of his mind. He could only imagine why he was needed on the bridge so urgently. The door slid open, and Lentith walked into a completely silent room. Admiral Va was slouched at his command station, his enormous arm propped up on the chair arm and supporting his massive, horned head. Lentith didn’t even know that Arien’Ra COULD slouch. Nevermind that the fastidious Admiral could or would ever do such a thing. Maybe things were somehow worse than he thought. No one seemed to notice him enter, so he announced himself to the Admiral. Though he didn’t shout, his voice echoed in the deathly silent room, startling most of the bridge command. Two of the other Vorqual officers swore, and the tiny Jezren manning the com station let out a high pitched sound somewhere between a squeak and chirp. Berendarin would have found it quite funny if the situation wasn’t so dire. Admiral Va immediately snapped back to being the hulk of muscle and horn that imposed his will on a room just by being in it. His booming voice only added to his authority. “Science Officer Lentith. I’m glad to see you’re still alive. Are you seriously injured?” Berendarin had almost forgotten that he had walked the entire way to the bridge holding a bandage to his head just above his left eye. The drop out of subspace hadn’t been kind to him. He pulled the bandage away, revealing a dark orange stain on the bandage and a crack in the bone plate above his eye. “I’m fine, sir, just one of the outer plates, and the bleeding has already stopped.” “Good. Commander Vortith is currently overseeing the emergency repairs. Take his seat. You are going to help me find a way back home.” “Sir? I’m sorry I don’t understand. Why don’t we just go back the way we came?” “That’s not possible. Most of our supply ships and tenders were destroyed when that third wave of Dominion ships hit our flank. Almost all of our pre-prepared fuel reserves are gone. On top of that, some of our ships are so damaged that they don’t have another long jump in them. And if we run into any enemy ships, the whole rest of the fleet is done for. We barely qualify as a fighting force in the state we’re in.” “Is it really that bad?” “It’s worse, but we don’t have time to get into the details. You’re the expert on this section of the galaxy. I need you to find the fleet a hiding hole. Somewhere away from the known jump routes through the Spur. Any system where we can use the few miners we have left to scavenge up some fuel, and get some critical repairs done while we’re at it. And from there either wait for reinforcements or get ourselves patched up enough to limp home. Wherever it is, it needs to be close. I’m not leaving any ships behind because they can’t make the jump.” “Oh. Just that?” The lieutenant knew that Arien’Ra were strict herbivores, but with the look that the Admiral shot him, he couldn’t help but think about the fact that his head would easily fit into that giant, molar filled mouth. “And away from any known pirate hideaways. Like I said, our fleet can’t take any more fighting. And find it quickly. It won’t be long before the Dominion fleet locates us.” “I. Uh. Sure. I’ll see what I can find.” Berendarin shrank into the commander’s chair next to the enormous Arien’Ra, desperately wishing he had been more professional. If he had acted like a proper soldier, it might soften the blow of telling the Admiral that what he wanted was next to impossible. If he had a few weeks, he might be able to find something. So much of the Spur was still un-surveyed. The odds of there being anything useful to the Admiral in the databases was absurdly low, and there was even less of a chance he’d be able to find it in time for the information to matter. He began pouring through his notes anyway. It was better than waiting around to die, which, if the situation was as dire as the Admiral made it sound, was the only other option. He spent the next hour lost in his notes, finding nothing, while the bridge crew went about piecing the ship and the fleet back together. The young scientist had all but given up on the Admiral’s impossible request when a raucous cheer went up from everyone on the command deck. “Sir,” The coms officer called out, “The Consul’s Pride just dropped out of subspace and is hailing us, sir. The main communication screen lit up, and Berendarin Lentith looked to see the face of his oldest sister on screen, strapped into the captain’s chair of her dreadnaught. He let out a sigh of relief; Baraquen was his favorite sibling. Her uniform was drenched in a deep orange blood stain at the shoulder, and she was covered in what looked like flecks of green gore from a Xelnassi. The artificial gravity was clearly malfunctioning, as the captain’s restraining harness was the only thing keeping her from floating around her bridge. But the bone plates of her jaw were turned as always into her calm, self assured smile “My apologies for the delay in joining you, Admiral Va. We had some… guests shut down our drive mid jump. We had to deal with them before we rejoined the fleet. I assume there is a plan to get us back to federation space?” “It’s good to see you in one piece, Captain Lentith,” the Admiral responded. He was barely able to keep the relief from his voice. “And there is indeed a plan.” Berendarin returned to his research as the two ranking officers in the fleet went over the details of their current predicament. He was glad his sister had survived, and not just because they were close. It would have been a terrible blow to the whole family to have lost not only their future matriarch, but the ship she commanded as well. A member of his family had been commanding that dreadnaught uninterrupted for the last 5 generations. Military service had never appealed to Berendarin, but his family history was certainly still important. And then the solution to the current problem hit him like a driver round. He let out a gasp and tore into his notes with a fervor. Both Admiral Va and his sister’s projection turned to look at him, but he didn’t notice. After a few seconds of curious silence from the rest of the onlookers, Berendarin practically jumped out of his seat. “Admiral, I think I’ve got something that will work.” The young Lieutenant punched a few commands into his datapad, and a set of stellar coordinates popped up on the navigation terminal. “It’s a main sequence star, about 500 light years from us, fairly close to the edge of the Spur. It’s not anywhere near any established jump routes. The Consul’s Pride made me think of it.” He nodded towards his sister’s face on the ship's screen. “Our great, great grandsire took the Consul’s Pride through the system on her shakedown run a little over 300 cycles ago. Chased a band of Qorthi slavers out of the system. The outer four planets are all gas giants. If we can’t find Helium 3 there, I don’t know where else we should look.” On screen, Captain Lentith looked impressed, but Admiral Va clearly didn’t seem too sure. “We’re supposed to be going away from Dominion forces, not into them. What were the Qorthi doing there?” “There are also four rocky inner worlds in the system, Sir, according to reports from the encounter. Apparently, the third planet is a Class 7 Deathworld, and the Qorthi were running some experiments on the primitive lifeforms there. They were caught completely by surprise by the Consul’s Pride, and it was the first time that she fired her weapons in anger. I can’t find any reports of Dominion ships in that section of the Spur since.” There was a long pause before Va responded. “Good work, Lieutenant. I knew my trust in you wasn’t misplaced.” Admiral Va replied, before turning to the rest of the bridge and booming “Coms! Tactical! Get those coordinates to every ship in the fleet. I want every ship we have left formed up and ready to jump as soon as possible. Any captain who feels that his drives can’t make the jump is to focus all repair efforts on getting their drives functioning immediately. I will transfer repair crews from less damaged ships to more damaged ships if that means we jump even a tick earlier. Get to it everyone. I’m not losing any more of my fleet today.” The four revolution long jump to Science Officer Lentith’s newfound sanctuary had done wonders for Halon Va’s mental state. The initial shock of his fleet's terrible defeat had worn off, and he had been able to focus on what came next. Repair crews were able to stabilize most of his ship's core systems, and he was no longer worried about the life support systems cutting out and killing the rest of his crew. There had also been time for him to visit with the wounded. To thank them for their sacrifices. He had expected it to be an act of contrition, maybe even a chance to start begging for forgiveness. But there had been no anger in his crew, and no blame hung on his horns. Most had just been relieved that he had survived, and had expressed as much. He would be forever grateful to them for that. Most importantly, the four revolutions in hyperspace had given the admiral time to really think about what had gone wrong in the nebula. He had barely rested in the preceding four revolutions, spending every scrap of spare time in his office, pouring over records from the battle. That’s where he found himself now, tucked behind his massive ceramic and titanium alloy desk of Tellarim design. It had been custom made for him upon his promotion to this command, a gift from the high admirals and the council. It was the only luxury that Va allowed in his office. The rest of Va’s space he kept strictly utilitarian. There were no trophies adorning his walls, as was customary for other members of his species. The plain bulkheads of his office were instead lined entirely with screens, and each of them were now filled with footage and reports from the battle, running on loop. Va soaked it all in. The more he watched, the more a singular conclusion crystallized in his mind. He had done everything right; he was sure of that now. 1000 years of doctrine and theory for fighting the Dominion had gone into his preparation for that battle, and he had followed it to the letter. And he had been winning. Then that attack on his flank by the Zelnassi had blown all of that out of the airlock. Something significant had changed in the way the Dominion fought... Commander Vortith’s voice rang out over the com system. ”Admiral Va, we’ll be transitioning back to real space in moments.” “Thank you. I’ll be there shortly. And get Science Officer Lentith to the bridge. I want him nearby just in case. He’s the only one who has any idea of where we are.” The Admiral pulled himself from his desk. He would have to leave the rest of his analysis for later. There was just enough time for him to reach the bridge and settle into his command chair before the Horns of Glory snapped back to real space. This time, the inertial dampeners held. “Tactical, status report.” “All ships accounted for, Admiral. Though the Consul’s Pride, several cruisers, and three of our escorts are all reporting massive failures in their Drive Cores. They won’t be jumping anywhere anytime soon.” “Wonderful.” Va wasn’t sure if he meant that sarcastically or not. “Get scans up and running and deploy the pickets that aren’t crippled in a standard scouting formation. How close are we to the nearest gas giant?” “We’re approximately half a light tick from the system’s innermost gas giant, sir.” “Excellent. Deploy the rest of the fleet. Put us in a high orbit around the planet in a defensive formation, and get our miners working immediately. Once our orbit is stable, I want every hand, paw and hoof in the fleet working on repairs.” “Yes sir.” Admiral Va settled into his command chair for a long shift. It would be a drawn out, boring process to refuel the ships. With his fleet limping along, and only two functioning miners, it would take far longer than it should. After all the chaos of the last few revolutions, boring would be a welcome change of pace. Va started to relax, sinking into his chair’s acceleration padding. His fleet and his crews were finally safe. The first priority would be to get one of the subspace beacons repaired and to get word back to the Federation that the fleet still existed. And hopefully call for aid. He was sure to be stripped of his rank as soon as contact was made, but hopefully he would avoid a Tribunal. That was an unpleasant prospect… “Sir, we have unidentified ship signatures appearing from around the planet we’re approaching.” Va had never heard panic in the voice of his young sensors officer before, but it was certainly there now. Va understood the sentiment, though. He found it difficult to keep the panic from his own voice as he started issuing orders “Bring the fleet up to combat status immediately. How many ships are there?” “I’m showing 35 individual signatures. All approaching us at combat speed and still accelerating. At current speeds, they will intercept us in just over 30 ticks, sir.” “I want details as soon as you have them, Lieutenant. Size, make, estimated firepower. Who they are. And keep scanning the system. Find out where they came from.” The panic had partially subsided for Va. 35 unknowns was not too terrible a threat. He still had almost 240 warships under his command. Still, if there was a way to avoid combat, he had to try. His fleet couldn’t suffer any more losses. “Coms, any attempt by these unknown ships to contact us?” “I”m not sure, sir,” the diminutive Jezren at the coms replied. “There’s nothing on standard communications channels. The ships are transmitting something, but I can’t figure out what it is.” “Admiral,” the Lieutenant at the sensors station called out. “I think I might have an idea of where these ships came from. Preliminary scans show there is extensive urbanization on the third and fourth planets, as well as what appear to be habitation sized artificial satellites around the second and sixth planets. One of the moons of the gas giant we’re approaching shows signs of habitation as well. All of them are emitting significant signal pollution. This system clearly already belongs to someone, and they’re broadcasting everywhere.” Halon Va, High Admiral of the Combined Federation Fleets, turned, slowly and with as much composure as he could muster, to face the young science officer seated to his left. Berendarin sat, mouth agape, staring transfixed at the sensor readouts in front of him. Va had never seen a Vorqual more confused in his life. “I want answers, Officer Lentith.” “I… I don’t.. This doesn’t make any sense,” the young science officer stammered. “There shouldn’t be anything here.” “Admiral,” The comms officer cut in, “The signal that we’re picking up from the unknown ships is definitely some kind of communication. I managed to put together audio from it.” “Play it,” commanded Va. A series of short, guttural, and completely unintelligible sounds came over the speakers in reply. There was a short pause before the sounds repeated themselves again. “Coms, what was that?” “No idea, sir, but it’s being transmitted on loop. If it is intended as a communication, our translators have no idea what to do with it.” “Admiral.” The voice came from Va’s left, and was barely audible. Va turned yet again to look at the young science officer. His gaze was locked on the tactical readout, and there something in his eyes that Va couldn’t recognize. A mixture of pure terror and something else. Was it wonder? The young Vorqual’s voice was still barely above a whisper when he continued to address the admiral: “I think we should run the transmission through First Contact Protocols.” Captain Benjamin Alvarez-León slammed against his restraining harness as the USCS Aurora started it’s decel burn. He had pushed the engines on the outdated cruiser to their limits, and the ship groaned in protest as it started counteracting his rather zealous acceleration orders. He hoped that his mad scramble with his small squadron of outdated ships had been an overreaction. The alternative was something he’d rather not think about. All Ben had was the reserves; the rest of the fleet was on maneuvers at Sirius. The Admiralty had wanted to test the new, fully modernized fleet’s maneuvering abilities in the gravwell of a binary system. And, in their infinite wisdom, they decided they needed ALL of the new fleet assets, leaving nothing in Sol except for the handful of cruisers and escorts that couldn’t match the capabilities of the modern ships. A handful of cruisers and escorts that were now hurtling towards more than 200 unknown contacts. It was the unknown part of all of this that was unnerving Ben. There were no familiar energy signatures. No familiar scan data. No IFF. No signals coming off the contacts of any kind for that matter. Two of the contacts were too big to even be ships. If it wasn’t for the fact that they were moving towards Jupiter in formation, Ben wouldn’t even think they WERE ships. “So what do you think, Alexi?” Ben asked, turning towards his second in command. “You and the rest of the bridge crew are always making inane bets. Have you whipped up an over-under for what we’re throwing ourselves at yet?” “Haven’t had time,” came the quick reply from Ben’s right. The short, stocky man from Vladivostok was missing his trademark joviality. “Though, my money is on them being Ithacan, sir.” Ben bristled at Alexi calling him sir. They’d been friends for twenty years, damnit, and had been practically joined at the hip since going through the Academy together. Outranking him still felt a little off. Now was hardly the time to worry about formalities, though. “What makes you think they're from Ithaca?” “It’s the only thing that makes sense. The locals have been getting increasingly radical, and Ithaca is the only sector where reports of piracy have been increasing.” “Yeah, I could see a rebellion coming from Ithaca,” Ben added slowly, turning over that scenario in his head. “But there’s no way they could swing something of this magnitude. There aren’t even any shipyards in the sector. And even if there were, there’s no way they could keep the construction of over two hundred ships a secret.” Alexi could only offer him a shrug in response. It was at that moment that the coms station informed him there was a transmission incoming from the unidentified ships. Ben instructed the ensign to play it, and the bridge was suddenly filled with a stream of grotesque bleating noises and strange grunts, with the occasional recognizable syllable interspersed throughout the transmission. Ben thought he picked out ‘dentify’ from the mess, but he wasn’t sure. There was a long moment of silence on the bridge. “What the hell was that?” When no one had any answers for him, Ben tapped his command console and recorded a new message to broadcast. “This is Captain Alvarez of the USCS Aurora. Unidentified ships, please clarify. Your transmission is badly garbled. We did not receive your identification. You are still trespassing in Commonwealth space and are on an unauthorized course towards Jupiter. Begin decelerating immediately and re-identify yourselves.” He wouldn’t admit it to the crew, but Ben was profoundly unsettled. Something was deeply, deeply wrong about this whole situation. Not only was he vastly outnumbered by these things, but they were unwilling to communicate properly. He was almost believing this whole thing was some kind of bizarre prank. “How much longer before we can get a decent visual on these things? “Any moment now, sir.” A new transmission arrived just then, and Ben had it played back immediately. This time, instead of almost bovine bleats and grunts, the sounds coming over the speakers were mostly intelligible. Or, they would have been, if any of the syllables were in the right order. It was almost like a toddler was rattling off all of his new favorite sounds, spitting them out in a random order and not knowing how they went together. There were still a few heavy grunts sprinkled in, just for good measure. Before Ben could process this new joke of a transmission, the contacts finally started slowing. In a matter of moments, the strange wall of contacts was hanging lazily in Jupiter’s orbit, barely moving fast enough to keep their orbit from decaying. They were still in perfect formation. “Huh. Well, I guess that’s something.” With nothing to do but sit back and wait as his ship closed the distance, Ben tried to relax and began running over all of the possibilities in his mind of what the new contacts could be. He came up with nothing. Well, nothing feasible, anyway. He took a series of long, calming breaths, trying to clear his mind and focus. This was no time for his imagination to be running wild. But he couldn’t shake the feeling that logic was failing him. Something was off. Something… “Captain, bringing visual of the unknown contacts up on screen now.” Ben actually felt his jaw drop. Every contact on his display was clearly a ship. Most were long and spindly, wrapped in layers of some kind of highly reflective armor; a fleet of crystalline arrows hanging in the darkness. The two largest contacts, which Ben had just moments ago thought were too big to be ships, were large enough on the screen for him to clearly see details. In addition to their immense size and strange armor, both ships were dotted with what were clearly weapons platforms, though what kind, Ben couldn’t tell. Noticeably, almost all of the ships on his screen were heavily damaged. Chunks were missing from some ships, and most had deep lines gouged into their hulls. Any form of decorative paint or markings had been burned away. Something had put these ships through absolute hell. But still, the damage could not take away entirely from the elegance of the ship’s designs. They were graceful and sleek, completely different from anything Ben had ever seen before. It was all so different. So strange. So very, very… Alien. Despite every effort he had made to avoid the word, it finally forced itself to form inside Ben’s mind, and forced him to acknowledge the reality that legitimate, extra-Solar life was hanging in the darkness in front of him. It forced him to acknowledge the screams he had been suppressing in the back of his mind. The screams of his imagination crying out in glorious triumph over reality. And with those screams came a deluge of accompanying thoughts and emotions. He was a child again, staring up at the stars above Armstrong and wondering what else, and who else, was out there. He was a teen again, signing his name to the Academy enrollment paperwork, determined to get out there between the stars and see the galaxy himself. He was a young officer again, screaming and pleading with the Admiralty to at least consider a modern First Contact scenario. He was sitting in his command chair now, hurtling towards honest-to-god aliens, all of his dreams made manifest in an instant. He was overwhelmed. He was terrified. And he had never imagined that he could feel such elation. It was the young warrant officer at the coms that snapped Ben out of his reverie. “Sir, the contacts are hailing us on all standard channels, requesting a video feed.” She sounded very, very nervous. Ben immediately stood up, straightening his uniform as best he could. “If they’re anything less than genocidal monsters, I’m going to offer them aid and repairs. As long as they’re peaceful, there’s no reason not to extend them the full hospitality of humanity.” “Ben,” Alexi asked, clearly choosing his words carefully, “Are you sure that’s the… Wisest course of action? How will the Admiralty respond to Goddamned alien ships docking at Hephaestus?” “Alexi, in the 250 years the Commonwealth has existed, the First Contact protocols haven’t been updated since the charter was signed. No one has cared. This has been nothing but a fantasy for most people. I am NOT letting this opportunity get away. Every child that has ever looked up at the stars and wondered finally got an answer, and I will not waste this moment. We’re making friends, the Admiralty and the government be damned.” “You do realize you’re potentially deciding the fate of our entire species on a whim, right?” “Is there someone else you’d prefer to have making this call?” Alexi, apparently deciding that there was not, stood up and straightened his uniform, standing next to his friend as he ordered the connection of the video feed. The channel connected, and the human bridge crew found themselves looking at the bridge of a ship crewed by not one, but three alien races. The largest alien in the center of the screen opened its mouth to speak. This time, instead of bleats and grunts, a choppy, mechanical voice that didn’t sync up to the alien at all proclaimed from the bridge speakers in broken, stuttering English: “I. Am Admiral. Halon. Va. Of the Federation of. Sentient Races. Greetings and. Welcome. To the. Galaxy.” Ben couldn’t suppress his smile. “On behalf of the United Solar Commonwealth, and all of Humanity, greetings, and welcome to Sol. Your ships look like they’ve had a bad time on your way here. If there’s any way we could aid with your repairs, we’d be happy to help.” Slave 782 slammed his right appendage onto the control console hard enough to rupture his outer membrane and smear ichor over the panel. It had been four days since the battle in the nebula, and with the latest round of reports, he finally had to admit that the rest of the Federation fleet had escaped him. It was a minor frustration, all things considered, but the escape prevented this from being a total victory. Still, he had proven his worth to his owners in this battle, and his experiments with the Zelnassi had paid dividends beyond his wildest imagination. He had earned a command today, and with every success in that command, his ability to bargain for his people's freedom only increased. For what he would be asking, it might take the total defeat of the Federation to earn that kind of leverage. Also frustrating, but not a task that he couldn’t handle. It would be a long war, he was sure, but like his owners, he was patient. He would earn his freedom, even if it meant reducing the entire Federation to glass. Author Wiki Series Wiki NEXT
Wall Street Week Ahead for the trading week beginning June 29th, 2020
Good Saturday afternoon to all of you here on StockMarket. I hope everyone on this sub made out pretty nicely in the market this past week, and is ready for the new trading week ahead. Here is everything you need to know to get you ready for the trading week beginning June 29th, 2020.
Fragile economic recovery faces first big test with June jobs report in the week ahead - (Source)
The second half of 2020 is nearly here, and now it’s up to the economy to prove that the stock market was right about a sharp comeback in growth. The first big test will be the June jobs report, out on Thursday instead of its usual Friday release due to the July 4 holiday. According to Refinitiv, economists expect 3 million jobs were created, after May’s surprise gain of 2.5 million payrolls beat forecasts by a whopping 10 million jobs. “If it’s stronger, it will suggest that the improvement is quicker, and that’s kind of what we saw in May with better retail sales, confidence was coming back a little and auto sales were better,” said Kevin Cummins, chief U.S. economist at NatWest Markets. The second quarter winds down in the week ahead as investors are hopeful about the recovery but warily eyeing rising cases of Covid-19 in a number of states. Stocks were lower for the week, as markets reacted to rising cases in Texas, Florida and other states. Investors worry about the threat to the economic rebound as those states move to curb some activities. The S&P 500 is up more than 16% so far for the second quarter, and it is down nearly 7% for the year. Friday’s losses wiped out the last of the index’s June gains. “I think the stock market is looking beyond the valley. It is expecting a V-shaped economic recovery and a solid 2021 earnings picture,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA. He expects large-cap company earnings to be up 30% next year, and small-cap profits to bounce back by 140%. “I think the second half needs to be a ‘show me’ period, proving that our optimism was justified, and we’ll need to see continued improvement in the economic data, and I think we need to see upward revisions to earnings estimates,” Stovall said. Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab, said she expects the recovery will not be as smooth as some expect, particularly considering the resurgence of virus outbreaks in sunbelt states and California. “Now as I watch what’s happening I think it’s more likely to be rolling Ws,” rather than a V, she said. “It’s not just predicated on a second wave. I’m not sure we ever exited the first wave.” Even without actual state shutdowns, the virus could slow economic activity. “That doesn’t mean businesses won’t shut themselves down, or consumers won’t back down more,” she said.
In the second half of the year, the market should turn its attention to the election, but Sonders does not expect much reaction to it until after Labor Day. RealClearPolitics average of polls shows Democrat Joe Biden leading President Donald Trump by 10 percentage points, and the odds of a Democratic sweep have been rising. Biden has said he would raise corporate taxes, and some strategists say a sweep would be bad for business, due to increased regulation and higher taxes. Trump is expected to continue using tariffs, which unsettles the market, though both candidates are expected to take a tough stance on China. “If it looks like the Senate stays Republican than there’s less to worry about in terms of policy changes,” Sonders said. “I don’t think it’s ever as binary as some people think.” Stovall said a quick study shows that in the four presidential election years back to 1960, where the first quarter was negative, and the second quarter positive, stocks made gains in the second half. Those were 1960 when John Kennedy took office, 1968, when Richard Nixon won; 1980 when Ronald Reagan’s was elected to his first term; and 1992, the first win by Bill Clinton. Coincidentally, in all of those years, the opposing party gained control of the White House.
The stocks market’s strong second-quarter showing came after the Fed and Congress moved quickly to inject the economy with trillions in stimulus. That unlocked credit markets and triggered a stampede by companies to restructure or issue debt. About $2 trillion in fiscal spending was aimed at consumers and businesses, who were in sudden need of cash after the abrupt shutdown of the economy. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin both testify before the House Financial Services Committee Tuesday on the response to the virus. That will be important as markets look ahead to another fiscal package from Congress this summer, which is expected to provide aid to states and local governments; extend some enhanced benefits for unemployment, and provide more support for businesses. “So much of it is still so fluid. There are a bunch of fiscal items that are rolling off. There’s talk about another fiscal stimulus payment like they did last time with a $1,200 check,” said Cummins. Strategists expect Congress to bicker about the size and content of the stimulus package but ultimately come to an agreement before enhanced unemployment benefits run out at the end of July. Cummins said state budgets begin a new year July 1, and states with a critical need for funds may have to start letting workers go, as they cut expenses. The Trump administration has indicated the jobs report Thursday could help shape the fiscal package, depending on what it shows. The federal supplement to state unemployment benefits has been $600 a week, but there is opposition to extending that, and strategists expect it to be at least cut in half. The unemployment rate is expected to fall to 12.2% from 13.3% in May. Cummins said he had expected 7.2 million jobs, well above the consensus, and an unemployment rate of 11.8%. As of last week, nearly 20 million people were collecting state unemployment benefits, and millions more were collecting under a federal pandemic aid program. “The magnitude here and whether it’s 3 million or 7 million is kind of hard to handicap to begin with,” Cummins said. Economists have preferred to look at unemployment claims as a better real time read of employment, but they now say those numbers could be impacted by slow reporting or double filing. “There’s no clarity on how you define the unemployed in the Covid 19 environment,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank. “If there’s 30 million people receiving insurance, unemployment should be above 20%.
This past week saw the following moves in the S&P:
The economy is moving in the right direction, as many economic data points are coming in substantially better than what the economists expected. From May job gains coming in more than 10 million higher than expected and retail sales soaring a record 18%, how quickly the economy is bouncing back has surprised nearly everyone. “As good as the recent economic data has been, we want to make it clear, it could still take years for the economy to fully come back,” explained LPL Financial Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “Think of it like building a house. You get all the big stuff done early, then some of the small things take so much longer to finish; I’m looking at you crown molding.” Here’s the hard truth; it might take years for all of the jobs that were lost to fully recover. In fact, during the 10 recessions since 1950, it took an average of 30 months for lost jobs to finally come back. As the LPL Chart of the Day shows, recoveries have taken much longer lately. In fact, it took four years for the jobs lost during the tech bubble recession of the early 2000s to come back and more than six years for all the jobs lost to come back after the Great Recession. Given many more jobs were lost during this recession, it could takes many years before all of them indeed come back.
The economy is going the right direction, and if there is no major second wave outbreak it could surprise to the upside. Importantly, this economic recovery will still be a long and bumpy road.
Nasdaq - Russell Spread Pulling the Rubber Band Tight
The Nasdaq has been outperforming every other US-based equity index over the last year, and nowhere has the disparity been wider than with small caps. The chart below compares the performance of the Nasdaq and Russell 2000 over the last 12 months. While the performance disparity is wide now, through last summer, the two indices were tracking each other nearly step for step. Then last fall, the Nasdaq started to steadily pull ahead before really separating itself in the bounce off the March lows. Just to illustrate how wide the gap between the two indices has become, over the last six months, the Nasdaq is up 11.9% compared to a decline of 15.8% for the Russell 2000. That's wide!
In order to put the recent performance disparity between the two indices into perspective, the chart below shows the rolling six-month performance spread between the two indices going back to 1980. With a current spread of 27.7 percentage points, the gap between the two indices hasn't been this wide since the days of the dot-com boom. Back in February 2000, the spread between the two indices widened out to more than 50 percentage points. Not only was that period extreme, but ten months before that extreme reading, the spread also widened out to more than 51 percentage points. The current spread is wide, but with two separate periods in 1999 and 2000 where the performance gap between the two indices was nearly double the current level, that was a period where the Nasdaq REALLY outperformed small caps.
To illustrate the magnitude of the Nasdaq's outperformance over the Russell 2000 from late 1998 through early 2000, the chart below shows the performance of the two indices beginning in October 1998. From that point right on through March of 2000 when the Nasdaq peaked, the Nasdaq rallied more than 200% compared to the Russell 2000 which was up a relatively meager 64%. In any other environment, a 64% gain in less than a year and a half would be excellent, but when it was under the shadow of the surging Nasdaq, it seemed like a pittance.
The US equity market made its most recent peak on June 8th. From the March 23rd low through June 8th, the average stock in the large-cap Russell 1,000 was up more than 65%! Since June 8th, the average stock in the index is down more than 11%. Below we have broken the index into deciles (10 groups of 100 stocks each) based on simple share price as of June 8th. Decile 1 (marked "Highest" in the chart) contains the 10% of stocks with the highest share prices. Decile 10 (marked "Lowest" in the chart) contains the 10% of stocks with the lowest share prices. As shown, the highest priced decile of stocks are down an average of just 4.8% since June 8th, while the lowest priced decile of stocks are down an average of 21.5%. It's pretty remarkable how performance gets weaker and weaker the lower the share price gets.
It's hard to believe that sentiment can change so fast in the market that one day investors and traders are bidding up stocks to record highs, but then the next day sell them so much that it takes the market down over 2%. That's exactly what happened not only in the last two days but also two weeks ago. While the 5% pullback from a record high back on June 10th took the Nasdaq back below its February high, this time around, the Nasdaq has been able to hold above those February highs.
In the entire history of the Nasdaq, there have only been 12 periods prior to this week where the Nasdaq closed at an all-time high on one day but dropped more than 2% the next day. Those occurrences are highlighted in the table below along with the index's performance over the following week, month, three months, six months, and one year. We have also highlighted each occurrence that followed a prior one by less than three months in gray. What immediately stands out in the table is how much gray shading there is. In other words, these types of events tend to happen in bunches, and if you count the original occurrence in each of the bunches, the only two occurrences that didn't come within three months of another occurrence (either before or after) were July 1986 and May 2017. In terms of market performance following prior occurrences, the Nasdaq's average and median returns were generally below average, but there is a pretty big caveat. While the average one-year performance was a gain of 1.0% and a decline of 23.6% on a median basis, the six occurrences that came between December 1999 and March 2000 all essentially cover the same period (which was very bad) and skew the results. Likewise, the three occurrences in the two-month stretch from late November 1998 through January 1999 where the Nasdaq saw strong gains also involves a degree of double-counting. As a result of these performances at either end of the extreme, it's hard to draw any trends from the prior occurrences except to say that they are typically followed by big moves in either direction. The only time the Nasdaq wasn't either 20% higher or lower one year later was in 1986.
In the mid-1980s the market began to evolve into a tech-driven market and the market’s focus in early summer shifted to the outlook for second quarter earnings of technology companies. Over the last three trading days of June and the first nine trading days in July, NASDAQ typically enjoys a rally. This 12-day run has been up 27 of the past 35 years with an average historical gain of 2.5%. This year the rally may have begun a day early, today and could last until on or around July 14. After the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, NASDAQ’s mid-year rally had a spotty track record from 2002 until 2009 with three appearances and five no-shows in those years. However, it has been quite solid over the last ten years, up nine times with a single mild 0.1% loss in 2015. Last year, NASDAQ advanced a solid 4.6% during the 12-day span.
Tech Historically Leads Market Higher Until Q3 of Election Years
As of yesterday’s close DJIA was down 8.8% year-to-date. S&P 500 was down 3.5% and NASDAQ was up 12.1%. Compared to the typical election year, DJIA and S&P 500 are below historical average performance while NASDAQ is above average. However this year has not been a typical election year. Due to the covid-19, the market suffered the damage of the shortest bear market on record and a new bull market all before the first half of the year has come to an end. In the surrounding Seasonal Patten Charts of DJIA, S&P 500 and NASDAQ, we compare 2020 (as of yesterday’s close) to All Years and Election Years. This year’s performance has been plotted on the right vertical axis in each chart. This year certainly has been unlike any other however some notable observations can be made. For DJIA and S&P 500, January, February and approximately half of March have historically been weak, on average, in election years. This year the bear market ended on March 23. Following those past weak starts, DJIA and S&P 500 historically enjoyed strength lasting into September before experiencing any significant pullback followed by a nice yearend rally. NASDAQ’s election year pattern differs somewhat with six fewer years of data, but it does hint to a possible late Q3 peak.
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Micron Technology, Inc. $48.49
Micron Technology, Inc. (MU) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:00 PM ET on Monday, June 29, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.71 per share on revenue of $5.27 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.70 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 71% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for earnings of $0.40 to $0.70 per share. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 29.00% with revenue increasing by 10.07%. Short interest has increased by 7.6% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 8.0% from its open following the earnings release to be 0.9% below its 200 day moving average of $48.94. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Thursday, June 11, 2020 there was some notable buying of 46,037 contracts of the $60.00 call expiring on Friday, July 17, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 4.6% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 8.4% move in recent quarters.
General Mills, Inc. (GIS) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.04 per share on revenue of $4.89 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.10 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 69% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 25.30% with revenue increasing by 17.50%. Short interest has decreased by 9.4% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 2.7% from its open following the earnings release to be 7.8% above its 200 day moving average of $54.91. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, June 24, 2020 there was some notable buying of 8,573 contracts of the $60.00 call expiring on Friday, July 17, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 6.6% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 3.0% move in recent quarters.
FedEx Corp. (FDX) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:00 PM ET on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.42 per share on revenue of $16.31 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.65 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 61% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 71.66% with revenue decreasing by 8.41%. Short interest has increased by 10.4% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 43.9% from its open following the earnings release to be 7.6% below its 200 day moving average of $140.75. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Thursday, June 25, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,768 contracts of the $145.00 call expiring on Thursday, July 2, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 4.6% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 7.7% move in recent quarters.
Conagra Brands, Inc. (CAG) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:30 AM ET on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.66 per share on revenue of $3.24 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.69 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 66% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 83.33% with revenue increasing by 23.99%. Short interest has decreased by 38.3% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 6.3% from its open following the earnings release to be 6.4% above its 200 day moving average of $30.68. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Thursday, June 11, 2020 there was some notable buying of 3,239 contracts of the $29.00 put expiring on Thursday, July 2, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 4.7% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 10.8% move in recent quarters.
Constellation Brands, Inc. (STZ) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:30 AM ET on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.91 per share on revenue of $1.97 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $2.12 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 53% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 13.57% with revenue decreasing by 13.69%. Short interest has increased by 20.8% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 25.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 5.2% below its 200 day moving average of $178.34. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Tuesday, June 9, 2020 there was some notable buying of 888 contracts of the $195.00 call expiring on Friday, October 16, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 3.1% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 5.7% move in recent quarters.
Capri Holdings Limited (CPRI) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 6:30 AM ET on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.32 per share on revenue of $1.18 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.34 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 39% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for earnings of $0.68 to $0.73 per share. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 49.21% with revenue decreasing by 12.20%. Short interest has increased by 35.1% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 56.7% from its open following the earnings release to be 44.0% below its 200 day moving average of $25.67. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Thursday, June 4, 2020 there was some notable buying of 11,042 contracts of the $17.50 put expiring on Friday, August 21, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 10.8% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 6.7% move in recent quarters.
X Financial (XYF) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 5:00 PM ET on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.09 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 25% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 55.00% with revenue increasing by 763.52%. Short interest has increased by 1.0% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 1.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 37.7% below its 200 day moving average of $1.47. Overall earnings estimates have been unchanged since the company's last earnings release. The stock has averaged a 4.9% move on earnings in recent quarters.
Acuity Brands, Inc. (AYI) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 8:40 AM ET on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.14 per share on revenue of $809.25 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.09 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 42% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 51.90% with revenue decreasing by 14.60%. Short interest has increased by 48.5% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 2.4% from its open following the earnings release to be 23.4% below its 200 day moving average of $110.25. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. Option traders are pricing in a 9.2% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 8.2% move in recent quarters.
Methode Electronics, Inc. (MEI) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.77 per share on revenue of $211.39 million. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 45% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 24.19% with revenue decreasing by 20.53%. Short interest has increased by 6.2% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 1.7% from its open following the earnings release to be 9.0% below its 200 day moving average of $32.97. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. Option traders are pricing in a 18.4% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 8.1% move in recent quarters.
UniFirst Corporation (UNF) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 8:00 AM ET on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.17 per share on revenue of $378.28 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.25 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 44% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 52.44% with revenue decreasing by 16.63%. Short interest has decreased by 2.7% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 14.1% from its open following the earnings release to be 8.4% below its 200 day moving average of $186.14. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. The stock has averaged a 7.0% move on earnings in recent quarters.
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