Pyro is the Weakest Class in TF2

Pyro TF2Relatively speaking, Pyro has been the weakest class in Team Fortress 2 for a long time. Examining the items released for Pyro (as well as others), Pyro’s playstyles, and the role that the map and environment play points to the conclusion that Pyro ranks dead last. The lack of diversified playstyles offered to the Pyro class leaves it in a situation where a different class would oftentimes have a more impactful contribution to the team.

Let’s begin by taking a look at the items brought by recent updates, both for the Pyro and for the other classes. Updates have brought an overwhelming number of items that negate the potency of fire damage. Let’s take a look at the more notable examples:

  1. Scout, a class many consider to be countered by Pyro, received items like Bonk! Atomic Punch, Mad Milk, and to a lesser extent, the Pretty Boy’s Pocket Pistol. A Scout who engages a Pyro can just as quickly disengage and render themselves invincible with Bonk, or negate afterburn with Mad Milk. No laughing matter when you consider that full afterburn accounts for 60 damage (so long as it isn’t from a Degreaser).
  2. Spy already had the Dead Ringer when he received the Spy-cicle, becoming immune to fire damage for 1 second and afterburn damage for 10 seconds. Additionally, the subsequent Dead Ringer changes prevent the Spy from immediately catching fire, allowing for a greater chance of escape.
  3. Sniper received the Sydney Sleeper and Jarate, two items that nullify afterburn damage. To be perfectly honest, Snipers and Pyros will not be interacting most of the time, as a keen Sniper will spend most time at the backline where they are most effective. Pyros, on the other hand, must remain in the heat of battle to be effective.
  4. Demoman, another class some considered countered by the Pyro, got multiple secondary shields like the Chargin’ Targe, Splendid Screen, and Tide Turner that greatly decrease the amount of fire and afterburn damage taken.

The classes traditionally believed to be countered by Pyro (Scout, Spy, and perhaps Demoman) all received items that negate Pyro’s effectiveness in countering them. Too many pesky Spies backstabbing teammates and sapping sentry nests? Switch to Pyro to check for Spies, a definitive way to allow for counter-play. This is all tossed out of the window with the advent of the Spy-cicle and Dead Ringer. With these two items, Spy gets two powerful “Get Out of Jail Free” cards that nullify the way Pyro aims to counter Spies. The same is true for the other classes. The strategy for dealing with Scouts as Pyro is to typically light them on fire and allow afterburn to finish them off, but this is negated with Scout’s Mad Milk and Bonk. Demomen take greatly reduced fire and afterburn damage when equipped with a shield.

Now a look at the unique items released for Pyro. The primary weapons released for Pyro include the Backburner, Degreaser, and Phlogistinator. The secondary weapons released are the Flare Gun, Detonator, Manmelter, and Scorch Shot. Finally, the notable tertiary weapons released for Pyro include the Axtinguisher, Homewrecker, Powerjack, and Back Scratcher. For the purposes of this piece, items like the Reserve Shooter, Third Degree, or Panic Attack will not be considered.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “Ugh, another W+M1 Pyro.” Pyro’s playstyle, from the beginning, has been rather straightforward (pun intended). Ambush the enemy and allow the massive DPS from the flamethrower to kill your enemy, or allow the afterburn to finish them. If they’re alive and getting away, fire your secondary to secure the kill. If they’re up close, swing your melee weapon to finish them off. Where environment works as an advantage for the other 8 classes, Pyro lands in a unique position of having the environment works against it. Scouts can bob and weave around corners, Spies hide in nooks and crevices, Soldiers and Demomen use explosive jumps for greater mobility. Pyro, meanwhile, is pigeonholed into a role where the only successful playstyle relies on ambushing an enemy. A large and open map spells bad news for a Pyro. There are further hindrances presented by the environment as well. Pyro is hurt worst of all classes by the availability of health packs on a map. A class that relies on afterburn damage as a significant chunk of DPS is rendered negligible by the presence of a health pack. Add water into the equation and every primary weapon Pyro has now deals no damage whatsoever, not to mention being another source of alleviating afterburn. Sadly, however, this is not where the crux of the problem lies. The other classes received weapons that diversify their playstyle and capitalize on some weaknesses. The sluggish Heavy can equip the Gloves of Running Urgently in order to run faster at the price of being Marked for Death. The frail Spy can equip a Dead Ringer for greater survivability. Sniper, who excels in long-range fighting but is dismal at close-range, can equip the Jarate and Bushwacka for a powerful melee combo. Demoman practically got an entirely new archetype with the advent of the Demoknight gear. The classes received innovative new weapons that pushed their archetypes into different directions or created new ones. Pyro, however, was not so lucky. The only concessions for Pyro were the Flare Gun, Detonator, and Scorch Shot. But these three weapons do not prove effective enough to push the envelope further for Pyro. A Flare Gun shot alone is not enough to secure a kill on an enemy, rather, the enemy will simply run for a health pack until the Pyro can close the gap. The problem is that the role of the Pyro is one-dimensional and formulaic. The few primary ways a Pyro seeks to get kills today are:

  • A complete ambush or “W+M1” charge with a flamethrower (slightly gimmicky and predictable after a while).
  • An ignition, airblast, and Axtinguisher (formulaic and requires a tight space).
  • An ignition, airblast, and Flare Gun (same as the other two).

All of these methods require a smaller, tighter map where the Pyro can get close to an enemy. There is no deviating from this playstyle. There are little to no options presented to the Pyro that let the class make up for some of its weaknesses like the other classes have been granted. After a while, teams and individuals will recognize a wild Pyro running around and plan accordingly.

The items granted to the classes Pyro is supposed to counter serve to make the Pyro class weaker. The Spy-cicle, Mad Milk, and Chargin’ Targe are all noteworthy examples. Furthermore, future weapon changes will (tentatively) add afterburn reduction to multiple weapons. The environment serves as a source of woe for the Pyro as well. Large, open maps are not the type of place in which a Pyro shines. Abundant health packs and water greatly diminish a large source of damage in Pyro’s afterburn. Because Pyro thrives in close-quarters, the class has been pigeonholed into a one-dimensional guerilla who relies on formulaic ways to earn kills. Where other classes receive new items that open up playstyles, Pyro has received very little to change how the class is played. This leaves Pyro in a strange position with limited roles. Pyro is undoubtedly the best class for spy-checking, and the alt-fire airblast ability is strong for deflecting projectiles and ubers. Alternatively, one can play the role of a Pybro and equip the Homewrecker to further thwart the efforts of Spies. After that, though, you’re left with a spy-checking ambusher who is at the mercy of the distance between themselves and the enemy.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe Pyro is the weakest class but not by a large margin. I love playing Pyro and get a kick out of playing the class. These are just problems that I believe are inherent to the class and limit the creative space that Pyro can occupy.

Source used:

Virtues, Vices, and Deadly Sin in Middlemarch


The ability to assess one’s emotions as well as acknowledging another’s emotions is closely intertwined with one’s goodness. Those who have gone through profound or prolonged emotional suffering in Middlemarch tend be those who have changed, matured, and grown as individuals. By experiencing emotional suffering, those in Middlemarch begin to understand themselves and later begin to understand the feelings of others. Once they begin to understand others, they are faced with moral decisions that will guide their behavior. Characters like Dorothea Brooke and Caleb Garth, who have both experienced more adversity relative to the other dwellers of Middlemarch, steer away from harsh actions that may harm others. They exhibit goodness by applying their emotional intelligence and acting on the right and moral thing to do. Defining goodness is important in understanding how it interacts with emotions in the citizens of Middlemarch. Analyzing the tough moral circumstances that characters find themselves in and their subsequent behaviors will reveal what it means to do good in Middlemarch. Examining the emotional development of the more mature characters and contrasting it against the less mature characters will help explain why some characters do more good than others. By understanding how the characters feel pain, face adversity, and develop into moral individuals, we can grasp Eliot’s interpretation of what it means to do good in a community like Middlemarch through the scope of sympathy.

Goodness manifests itself in many interactions throughout Middlemarch. Throughout the novel, goodness can be understood as acting virtuously and avoiding sinful behaviors. Examples include Caleb Garth’s patient and forgiving response to Fred’s defaulting on his loan. Farebrother puts aside his desire to become engaged to Mary Garth and warns Fred to not fall back into his questionable behavior. Dorothea comes to terms with her mistaken supposition that Rosamond and Will are in love and lets Rosamond know that she doesn’t mind. Mrs. Bulstrode stays by her husband’s side throughout the controversy that surrounds them. There is a common aspect shared amongst all of these interactions, and it involves putting aside ones ego or acting with selflessness. Even though the failed loan puts his family in a dire financial situation, Caleb Garth does not berate Fred. Dorothea puts aside her love for Will and wishes Rosamond happiness in her assumed relationship with Will. These characters manage to keep themselves from reacting impulsively, and instead act in a virtuous manner that seems to renounce sin. It is no coincidence that a focal point of Dorothea’s character is spiritual idealism. This virtuous character is extended to all those in the novel that Eliot wants to mark as upstanding individuals. Dorothea chooses not to indulge in envy in her love of Will. Garth does not succumb to avarice that would lead him to rage at Fred. Similarly, Farebrother puts aside his pride in advising Fred, as does Mrs. Bulstrode in her solidarity for her husband.

An important distinction to draw between those who actively practice spreading good and those who do not; oftentimes characters are presented with doing what is easy and doing what is right. Those characters who have experienced suffering or adversity tend to do right, while those who have not matured past a certain point do what is easy. Actively doing good in Middlemarch is a laborious task that should not be undervalued when the majority of the community does what is easy. Those who typically do right in the novel experienced suffering earlier in their lives that furthered their development of an advanced moral compass. Caleb Garth, living in borderline poverty, understands the value of money, and also understands that happiness cannot be derived from it. Witnessing and experiencing difficult life situations allows one to develop sympathy to others who go through the same thing. Dorothea’s strife in her strained marriage allows her to sympathize with Rosamond. Cara Weber explains:

…the narrator’s comment that ordinariness (of suffering) tends to preclude sympathy challenges the reader to reconsider her response to commonplace   scenes of suffering, suggesting that these responses have something to teach us about ourselves and our relationships to others” (p. 494-5).

By reflecting on her marriage, Dorothea is able to sympathize and somehwat understand the struggle Rosamond is experiencing. Rosamond, on the other hand, does not understand the difference between what is right and what is easy prior to her dialogue with Dorothea. Throughout her life, Rosamond has never experienced profound or prolonged adversity. Though her family is not remarkably rich, their manufacturing business gave them a reliable source of respectable income. Because she was always given what she wanted, there were no opportunities for her to endure pain or suffering. Without this adversity, Rosamond never managed to get a grip of what it meant to sympathize or empathize with another. She was stuck in the sense of emotional development. Her growth was stunted by her privileged upbringing. Taught to be an obedient housewife at Mrs. Lemon’s school, Rosamond never had occasion to challenge her emotional beliefs, was stifled by an easy upbringing, and consequently never really developed a strong sense of sympathy. Rosamond experiences her first real emotional upheaval when Dorothea pays her a visit,

It was a newer crisis in Rosamond’s experience than even Dorothea could imagine: she was under the first great shock that had shattered her dream-world in which she had been easily confident of herself and critical of others; and this strange unexpected manifestation of feeling in a woman whom she had approached with a shrinking aversion and dread, as one who must necessarily have a jealous hatred towards her, made her soul totter all the more with a sense that she had been walking in an unknown world which had just broken in upon her (p. 796).

This paragraph is noteworthy in multiple ways. First, we are explicitly told that Rosamond finally has her first shocking emotional experience that breaks her down. Previously, Rosamond operated on a very egocentric plane, where she was “confident of herself” and “critical of others”. Her interactions with the other always went one way: its that she must be right and the other must have done something wrong. There is a great deal of psychosomatic imagery here as well. Rosamond has been shocked, her world having just broken in upon her. The delicate and delusional dream in which she previously inhabited has been shattered, providing her with a rude awakening that other people’s feelings, do in fact, matter. The motif of the deadly sins is also present in an exchange with Dorothea once again. Dorothea is once again the agent that diffuses and disables the inclination to act on sin in another being. Rosamond’s position in proximity to Dorothea “necessarily” requires that Dorothea bear jealous hatred toward Rosamond, but once again, Dorothea’s virtuous nature not only saves herself, but another in the process. It can be argued that Rosamond was operating under a pretense of pride in herself, where all the woes in her marriage were Lydgate’s fault. Following this intervention, however, we can see Rosamond begin to develop sympathy towards her husband. Dorothea’s manifested sympathy can be observed in this phrase she offers Rosamond, “Trouble is so hard to bear, is it not?— How can we live and think that any one has trouble—piercing trouble—and we could help them, and never try?” (p. 796). Dorothea’s advanced emotional development compensates for Rosamond’s lack of development. Dorothea takes Rosamond’s burdens upon herself in an act of emotional solidarity. It began, as Harriet Adams describes, “with a victory of knowledge over self” (p. 88).

“All this vivid sympathetic experience returned to her now as a power: it asserted itself as acquired knowledge asserts itself and will not let us see as we saw in the day of our ignorance” (p. 788).

Adams continues,

“In the hour of keenest personal agony she is able to—and does—push back the narrow circles of her own little sun and see by the larger light of others’ lives. In no abstract sense, she is fulfilling what she herself described to Will as the fundamental tenet of her faith: ‘That by desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don’t quite know what it is and cannot do what we would, we are part of the divine power against evil—widening the skirts of light and making the struggle with darkness narrower’ (p. 392)”.

This is what Dorothea’s goodness in Middlemarch looks like in its purest form.

Goodness in Middlemarch is constituted by the aversion from deadly sin and behaving in a sympathetic manner towards the other. By being urged to live virtuously, the characters in Middlemarch develop a moral compass that guide them to act in beneficent ways. Not all in Middlemarch are saved by the virtuous grace of Dorothea, however. If aversion from deadly sin constitutes morality and goodness in Middlemarch, then there were many in Middlemarch who ended up lost. Many submitted to the temptation to do what is easy rather than right. Bulstrode, for example, fell prey to his vice of wrath and allowed Raffles to die. Bulstrode bore little sympathy for Raffles and purposely called for alcohol to let him die. The deadly sin of gluttony, in the manner of overindulging in gambling, influenced Fred and made him squander the money he owed to Caleb Garth. By deviating towards the deadly sins that Dorothea is the antithesis of, the occupants of Middlemarch end up doing harm to others who live there.

Developing an emotional and sympathetic capacity allows various members of the Middlemarch community to do good. Not only that, but adhering to the principles of a virtuous lifestyle as demonstrated by Dorothea Brooke enables benevolent folks in the town to conquer the temptation to do what is easy and self-serving. By serving as the example to follow and antithesis to deadly sins, Dorothea served as an enabler in spreading goodness throughout the town. Sympathizing with the tribulations of ones neighbor reveals that one can do what is selfish and easy, or one can do what is difficult, necessary, and right. In this way, Eliot lays out her beliefs that sympathy is the best instrument to direct morality. Religion is not even necessary, so long as the benevolent individuals moral compass casts away the dark and leads the way towards the light.

Works Cited

Adams, Harriet Farwell. “Dorothea and ‘Miss Brooke’ in Middlemarch.” Nineteenth-           Century Fiction, vol. 39, no. 1, 1984, pp. 69–90.

Irwin, T. H. “Sympathy and the Basis of Morality”, in “A Companion to George Eliot”          2013, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Purdy, Dwight H. “‘The One Poor Word’ in ‘Middlemarch.’” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, vol. 44, no. 4, 2004, pp. 805–821.

Weber, Cara. “‘The Continuity of Married Companionship’: Marriage, Sympathy, and the            Self in Middlemarch.” Nineteenth-Century Literature, vol. 66, no. 4, 2012, pp.     494–530.

Air, Water, Fire, Woman; An Analysis on the Psychology of King Lear

King Lear

Throughout his reign, Lear has grown to harbor a distaste for women precipitated by his mental illness. This distaste is exacerbated into full blown misogyny by the women in his life and culminates in Lear’s speech in Act III Scene II. His comparison of his daughters to the wild elements, his relationship with the fool, and his alarming mental state illuminate his discontent with the female race. This discontent with women is greatly unfounded and highly sexist if compared to the actions of men, but such is life in Lear’s England. With this unfounded sexism, Shakespeare seems to make a larger argument about gender relations, primogeniture, and the unfair bias in the favor of men.

While meandering in the ensuing storm after being ejected by his daughter Goneril, Lear makes associations between the wild elements and his daughters. Lear addresses the natural elements, “Spit, fire! spout, rain! … I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness” (III.ii.13-15). Lear claims that he has never wronged the elements and is not resentful of the storm and the weather’s misconduct. Lear proceeds, “I never gave you kingdom, call’d you children, You owe me no subscription” (III.ii.16-17). Here the king continues by saying that he didn’t wrong his daughters either, yet he is at the mercy of their unkindness. Lear sets up a comparison between his daughters and the natural elements; both being wild and uncontrollable, pitting men at their mercy. Lear becomes so irate that he curses his “pernicious” (III.ii.21) daughters and beckons the elements to smite him and the mold that creates “ingrateful man” (III.ii.9). Lear feels as though his daughters are ungrateful and out of control, with nothing he can do to yield substantial results. However, the problem of nature versus nurture presents itself here. His daughters act only in the manner in which they were raised by their father. If this is the case, which is more than likely, Lear has no basis to complain, as this is a problem he himself has created. Lear is also very unreasonable in his expectations of his daughters. Lear believes that because he gave his daughters his lands, they are obligated to be obedient, or it is somehow implied. Lear expects that Goneril can house him and his accompanying half-army, comprising of 100 knights. Regan attempts to compromise with Lear and settle on 25 knights, but the king refuses to budge, and instead chooses to drive himself out into the storm. This is not an end result typical of a rational individual.

The unwillingness of Lear to compromise, his past behavior, and his manic episode in the storm reveal troubling aspects concerning his mental health. Lear asks that the storm, “singe his white head” (III.ii.6), which would symbolically represent the complete destruction of his sanity. He has run out of patience and begins to go into a mania cursing his daughters and calling out to Nature’s forces. Dr. Somasundaram Ottilingam of the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, in his article, diagnoses King Lear with, “brief reactive psychosis with a background of organic mental disorder accompanied by attacks of what could be described today as acute mania as demonstrated by his faulty judgment, disorientation and irrational behavior.” Even Lear’s fool, who, for the entirety of the play has been joking, laughing, and throwing around quips, urges that the king reason with his daughters and go inside. The fool, who establishes himself as a reasonably sane and wise character after he has thrown out all sorts of adages, reasons, “Here’s a night pities nether wise men nor fools” (III.ii.12). With his fool urging him to go make amends and avoid the storm, we sense that Lear’s sanity has gone awry. Lear’s opinion of his daughters is most likely a result of his mental illness and his psychosis may very well be the overall source of his misogyny.

The fool’s role also serves to highlight a very thought-provoking aspect of Lear’s character. Lear seems to not listen to anyone or consider any sort of advice, as seen in the case of the banished Kent. Lear establishes early that he cares only for what he wants to hear, giving lands to Goneril and Regan for kissing his feet, while honest Cordelia is sent off to France. He does not take flak from anyone, and yet he always bears an open ear to what his fool says. The fool spouts some very out-of-line comments towards the king, yet Lear takes it all in good stride and laughs along. If his daughters were to say something along the lines of the fool, Lear would undoubtedly fly into a rage as he is wont to do throughout the play. This sets up a juxtaposition of just what men and women are allowed to do in the presence of the king. What if Lear’s daughters had instead been sons? He would recognize that they had some sovereignty after giving them the lands. Clearly this is very little method in it if neither Kent nor his daughters can instill sense into Lear’s mind, but his fool can. He bears an endearing view of the fool, asking the fool if he is cold during the storm, and showing remorse when he claims his fool has been hanged. Lear likely views the fool as a proxy son, one that his wife could not bear him.

One final point of contention is Lear’s wife, who, aside from one brief and vague account, is never mentioned in the play. She never bore him any sons and consequently no real heirs to the kingdom of England. This supports the notion that Lear projects the character of a son upon the fool. Perhaps Lear’s distaste for women springs from the discontent that his wife never bore him sons, though this is nothing she could control. Lear’s psychosis would indicate that he would, in fact, become angry over something neither he nor anyone else has control over, like his wife bearing him no sons. We have returned full circle to the comparison between women and the elements. He cannot control the elements, nor can he control the outcome of the gender of the children his wife bears. Lear calls upon the elements to smite his white-haired head, just as he subconsciously believes his wife smote him with daughters and not sons.

Lear’s unrealistic expectations, brought upon by his mental illness, leave a sour taste in his mouth with regard to his outlook on the women in his life. He expects his daughters, who now hold sovereignty over his lands, to be ready to accommodate his every whim. When this is hardly the case, Lear degenerates into a psychotic mania and curses his daughters and asks the ensuing tempest to smite him. Compounded by the lack of male offspring, Lear’s distaste can be summed up as blatant misogyny. Lear’s relationship with the fool and his daughters reveals an unfair double standard in Lear’s England, one that questions gender roles and challenges the established norms.

Works Cited

Ottilingam, Somasundaram. “The Psychiatry of King Lear.” Indian Journal of Psychiatry. Medknow Publications. Web. 31 Jan. 2016.<;.

Truskinovsky, Alexander M. “Literary Psychiatric Observation and Diagnosis Through the Ages: King Lear Revisited.” Medscape. Web. 31 Jan. 2016. <;.

The Symbiosis of Tertius Lydgate and Middlemarch

Chapter 15 of George Eliot’s Middlemarch introduces us to Tertius Lydgate, his methodical rationality, and the dynamic relationship he has with the town of Middlemarch. His relationship with Middlemarch is a mutually symbiotic one, where Lydgate functions as an instrument that will bring change to Middlemarch. Lydgate’s interests fall in line with the town’s even though he embodies the opposite of what Middlemarch stands for. A closer look at Lydgate’s outlooks and experiences mark him to be the best candidate that the town can hope for. He is subjugated to the will of the town upon arrival yet still strives to do good by its inhabitants. Middlemarch seems like it is its own conscious entity that swallows its citizens up to later make use of them.

Middlemarch has an agenda to pursue and Lydgate is simply another tool that the town can utilize. Further analysis of the symbolism behind even the name of the town is striking. This is a community where conscious and unconscious norms dictate behavior. Every member of the town gravitates towards the center on any sort of political issue. Painstaking effort is taken in order to not step on any toes. Rather, members of the town gossip amongst and about one another. Life in Middlemarch goes on with or without any conscientious objector. In this way, we see the members of the town all come towards the middle, as the fringe (conceptually) is a dangerous place to exist. Whether it be on the fringes of wealth, as is the case of the Garths, of reputation, like Fred Vincy, or of mental soundness in Mr. Brooke, it will only give the people something to question the validity of those in the margin. The agenda of the town marches on with the aid of the likes of Bulstrode and Cadwallader. So the way things preside in the town of Middlemarch will stay the way they are, foregoing change for tradition and marginalizing those on the fringe. The town will continue to consume and use those that enter its realm.

Luckily, Lydgate’s interests coincide with those of Middlemarch. “He meant to be a unit who would make a certain amount of difference towards that spreading change which would one day tell appreciably upon the averages, and in the mean time have the pleasure of making an advantageous difference to the viscera of his own patients … He was ambitious of a wider effect: he was fired with the possibility that he might work out the proof of an anatomical conception and make a link in the chain of discovery” (p. 146). Lydgate intends to reform the medical field with his ambition while bringing aid to his patients. He intends to be a reformer who brings up the averages around him and elevate the field of medicine. Fundamentally, he stands for something completely opposite to the idea of Middlemarch. He will be the unit by which change is spread , the unit that is readily absorbed by Middlemarch, a community that will do everything to uphold the status quo. Before attempting to reform all of England, however, he takes Middlemarch as his first microcosm and practice ground: “Such was Lydgate’s plan of his future: to do good small work for Middlemarch, and great work for the world” (p. 149). Lydgate and Middlemarch become symbiotically joined, where Lydgate can begin his sweeping medicinal work and the town may begin to use him as a cog in their affairs. Just as Lydgate is one small unit, so will his part be in Middlemarch in the grand scheme of his field. Lydgate’s view of his profession is also a good mirror for his relationship to Middlemarch. “…and he carried to his studies in London, Edinburgh, and Paris, the conviction that the medical profession as it might be was the finest in the world … offering the most direct alliance between intellectual conquest and the social good” (p. 145). Lydgate figures that doing good for the community of Middlemarch goes hand in hand with his pursuit of knowledge. He and his profession find themselves in a direct alliance with the town of Middlemarch. Middlemarch is the forge in which Lydgate may temper his skills and in return, Middlemarch will use him to further their ends.

Lydgate’s outlook on life is mostly a scientific one that is reinforced in him after encountering difficult situations that involve deep emotions. Being an honorable physician isn’t enough for Lydgate, he seeks to add to the existing human knowledge in the field of medicine. “Lydgate was ambitious above all to contribute towards enlarging the scientific, rational basis of his profession” (p. 147). The “rational” aspect of his profession is of particular importance. Lydgate operates primarily as a rational and scientific human being, seeing the world as a series of predictable phenomenon that obey certain rules. This outlook upon life is only further reinforced when Lydgate happens upon his first “impetuous folly” (p. 150). Upon falling in love with Madame Laure, “He knew that this was like the sudden impulse of a madman—incongruous even with his habitual foibles” (p. 152). When Lydgate experiences love for the first time, his emotions are incongruous with his rational mindset and he finds himself in a state of cognitive dissonance. He offers himself no other explanation other than that he must be mad. Emotions have never factored themselves so heavily into Lydgate’s world. He is exposed for the first time to passionate feelings and doesn’t know how to play it, so he ends up going on instinct and acting impulsively. When he is rebuffed by Madame Laure, he defaults back to his rational and scientific self. “But he had more reason than ever for trusting his judgment, now that it was so experienced; and henceforth he would take a strictly scientific view of woman, entertaining no expectations but such as were justified beforehand” (p. 153). When taking upon as large a task as Lydgate wants to achieve, there is no time to be wasted playing folly with the opposite sex. He doubles down and resolves to rely further on his observations and judgements of women. He plays it safe by both not expecting anything of women and by assuring himself that his previous way of thinking was right all along. In this way, Lydgate also demonstrates some arrogance. On the inside, he considers his approach to life to be the best approach. “Our vanities differ as our noses do: all conceit is not the same conceit, but varies in correspondence with the minutiae of mental make in which one of us differs from another. Lydgate’s conceit was of the arrogant sort, never simpering, never impertinent, but massive in its claims and benevolently contemptuous” (p. 149). This passage humanizes Lydgate; he may appear pretentious or patronizing, but is human like everyone else and is prone to displaying his brand of conceit. Vanity in any form, like noses, are possessed by every human being. The small details are what differentiate our physiognomies as well as our vices. Lydgate is arrogant and contemptuous, but no less vain than any other resident of Middlemarch.

Upon arrival to Middlemarch, the towns inhabitants wonder what role Lydgate will play in their town. Its made clear from both Lydgate’s and Middlemarch’s point of view that Lydgate is to become the tool or instrument of Middlemarch. Lydgate is not a common sort of practitioner nor does he stand for the same ideals that the town does, and this presents a problem for the mechanical community of Middlemarch. “There was a general impression, however, that Lydgate was not altogether a common country doctor, and in Middlemarch at that time such an impression was significant of great things being expected from him” (p. 142). General impressions are the bread and butter of Middlemarch – the basis by which every inhabitant begins their gossip. The town, perhaps, didn’t even know yet that Lydgate was to change how things were done, yet both seemed to know that Lydgate was to be fashioned into an instrument of change. “Not only young virgins of that town, but gray-bearded men also, were often in haste to conjecture how a new acquaintance might be wrought into their purposes, contented with very vague knowledge as to the way in which life had been shaping him for that instrumentality” (p. 153-154). What a perfect and appropriate role for Lydgate to take – one of the instrument. What tool more precise, rational, and scientific as the instrument itself? Once again, the town seems to know that he is here to change something about their nature of living, but they could only draw vague conjectures. This passage is befitting of the relationship between Lydgate and Middlemarch and encapsulates how each views the other. Lydgate is to be the instrument of change for the inhabitants, while the town is left hastily wondering how it may bend its instrument to its purposes.

We are constantly seeing the binaries of Middlemarch interact, but if we peer closer, we notice that Lydgate himself operates in two different ways. Lydgate forewent his emotional self after a traumatic experience with his first love and became the calculating and methodical surgeon. This shouldn’t be viewed as a weakness of his, but instead a redeeming aspect that makes him the instrument that Middlemarch needs. “He had two selves within him apparently, and they must learn to accommodate each other and bear reciprocal impediments. Strange, that some of us, with quick alternate vision, see beyond our infatuations, and even while we rave on the heights, behold the wide plain where our persistent self pauses and awaits us.”

Works Cited

Eliot, George, and Rosemary Ashton. Middlemarch. New York: Penguin, 2006. Print.

Reinhardt Is A Problematic Unit Within Fire Emblem Heroes

Fire Emblem Heroes: Reinhardt

Fire Emblem Heroes came out on February 2nd and I have been an avid player since its release. Intelligent Systems has done a great job at fostering a healthy and entertaining environment in the game by introducing multiple features over time. Voting gauntlet wars, Grand Hero battles, introduction of Arena tiers, daily/weekly/monthly quests, special maps, and new Hero banners are all examples of features that keep players hooked on the game.

The game is not without fault, however. Fire Emblem Heroes is, after all, a gacha game. Gacha games revolve around obtaining units by spending finite in-game currency. Once you’re out of the in-game currency, you largely run out of ways to summon new units. The units you obtain are chosen purely through luck; some players will immediately obtain the best units right off the bat, some will go weeks without getting one. A “pity counter” monitors how long a player has gone without receiving an elite unit, and will up the probability that the player will receive one. However, this pity counter is reset every week or so and does not give players enough time to amass enough currency to pull for more units. Good and bad luck is rampant early on in the game, but equalizes as the game goes on.

Our concern rests on the balance of the units in the game. The characters in the game are categorized in some notable ways. Units either employ magical or physical damage and are arranged by three colors. For example, physical red units use swords, physical blues use spears, and physical greens use axes. Magic users simply wield “tomes” of the different colors. Furthermore, there are colorless units that use bows, daggers, and staffs. These units are also categorized by rarity, with 5-stars having superior stats and 1-stars being the weakest units. Finally, units are categorized by being either infantry, armored, flying, or cavalry. This is where the crux of our problem with Reinhardt lies.

The battle maps within Fire Emblem Heroes are 8 units tall by 6 units across. Infantry and flying units can move two spaces, forward or back, left or right. A diagonal is considered moving two spaces. Armored units can only move one unit, forward, back, left, or right. Further limitations exist in the form of forests, lava, oceans, mountains, or breakable terrain. Flyers are not limited by any terrain, while infantry and armored units are hindered by a movement penalty on forests and cannot travel onto the other previously mentioned tiles. Cavalry units have the ability to move 3 units but are unable to pass into forests like their armored and infantry counterparts are.

However, this is not as big a problem as it may seem. The battles in Fire Emblem Heroes gravitate around finding the perfect moment to strike, and a large part of finding the right moment is kiting the enemy team around the map. The player is in control of when and where they want to engage a fight so long as the enemy is far enough away. The burden of movement is placed upon the enemy AI who may theoretically never engage the player so long as the player kites the opponent around the map endlessly.

This is where the first problematic aspect of Reinhardt’s character emerges. Cavalry units have an innate advantage over other units by being able to travel 3 units as opposed to 2. As discussed earlier, terrain and obstacles are not a disadvantage to cavalry units because the player decides when and where to initiate fights because the enemy team is at the mercy of being kited around. Redditor “j3ffj3ff” explains:

“Inherently, they’re very very overpowered. They don’t have ‘one more movement’ than infantry, they have 50% more movement. They don’t have two more movement than armored units, they have 200% more movement. If Reinhardt runs up and kills an infantry, then gets pulled back or repositioned, he is out of reach for any other infantry.

It’s not like in the main series games where a cavalry has maybe three more movement than an armor (5 vs 8) or 1-2 more movement than an infantry. Those games have much larger maps and you can actually trap a cavalry unit by baiting carefully. Instead in FEH we’ve got a unit that can hit anything on nearly 1/3 of the map, at range, and support skills that will pull it out of danger afterwards. They are poorly balanced, but at least it looks like IS is trying to address the issue with better map design.”

Because the size of maps within Fire Emblem Heroes is 8 units by 6 units, Reinhardt has a clear advantage over all the other types of units.

“There are a bunch of cavalry units in the game!”, one might respond. This may be true, but there are a select few ranged cavalry units (with healers excluded from the discussion for the sake of argument). Having the ability to move (proportionally) much farther than other units and strike them is very powerful. For the most part, this advantage is reigned in by the developers by giving these ranged mages lowered stats. Cavalry mages consistently have around 10 attack power less than infantry mages. The power of mages in general is that they can attack an enemy from afar. Be it directly over land or separated by terrain. Attacking from afar is a direct advantage over attacking an adjacent target. A unit can stay closer to their team where they receive offensive and defensive enhancements as well as setting up more tactical positions.

This leaves us with Cecilia, Leo, Olwen, Ursula, and Reinhardt. Olwen and Reinhardt distinguish themselves from this pack because of one important thing: Dire Thunder. Dire Thunder is the weapon used by both that allows them to strike twice instead of once like other weapons. Speed as a stat is very important, but equipping Dire Thunder allows Olwen and Reinhardt to disregard their average Speed stats in order to strike twice. Other than Ursula, all of the cavalry mages have a Speed stat within the same ballpark, not deviating more than 2 or 3 from the others. While Reinhardt’s Attack stat is middling, being allowed to strike twice oftentimes guarantees that he will defeat an opposing unit. Then what about Olwen? To utilize the mobility of cavalry units most effectively, a player will most likely want to pick the most powerful unit. Powerful in the context of Fire Emblem Heroes is synonymous with the Attack stat. Ranged cavalry are typically weak when it comes to defending, and so are used in a way that utilizes their capability to strike quickly. In this regard, Reinhardt is superior to Olwen as a unit because his Attack stat is significantly higher than Olwen’s.

Reinhardt is often coupled with teammates that possess repositioning skills. This allows Reinhardt to charge in, KO an opponent, and then reposition to safety. For players who aim to get perfect (deathless) runs in the Arena, Reinhardt presents a constant concern.

Besides large sweeping changes to maps, movement, and game mechanics, the most direct way to address the problem of Reinhardt (and by extension, Olwen) would be to rework Dire Thunder. Dire Thunder operates similarly to Brave weapons that infantry receive that allows them to double-up on attacks. No infantry mage has such a mechanic built into a weapon that allows them to attack twice, much less other cavalry mages. It would seem that Dire Thunder needs to be addressed as a skill, perhaps removing the double-up feature. Perhaps lowering the user’s attack could be another alternative. Regardless, revisions need to be made if a balance is to be struck.

Being able to move 3 spaces, attack from a distance, attack twice on any unit, and potentially escape indicates a problematic design in Reinhardt’s character. Watching a character be wiped out by Reinhardt does not encourage interactive or tactical play, rather a frustrating game experience for those who come up against him.

Rolling Fog

I awoke in a cold sweat again. I lazily turned my head to check the clock. Three in the morning. It hadn’t even been an hour since the last time I woke up in the middle of the night. I looked around my room, eager to find something to fixate my vision upon that would then hopefully lead me back into slumber. I hadn’t been sleeping so good recently, having no work does that to me. I would pick up a construction or a painting job now and again, but nowadays there wasn’t much left to paint or construct that was nearby. Mainly, though, I subsisted on money I made through my private investigation. There are some real fat cats with pockets full of dough that’ll surprise you with how much they need to know something, and fast. Or there’s the grieving spouse that offers you all they can give when the authorities fail them. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy helping those who really need it, but I loved the cases with the fat cats far more, they were just harder to come by.

I tossed off my blanket to get up. I had a feeling that I wasn’t about to get a good night’s sleep. That was fine by me; I both appreciated and loved the charm that was brought upon by the veil of a pitch-black night. I threw on my sandals, and grabbed my tattered box of cigarettes along with a tarnished zippo lighter. I noticed Mako awaken to the sense that his master was up, but he promptly fell back to sleep. I stepped out into the crisp night air of San Francisco, sparked my lighter, and drew a deep breath of cigarette smoke. I wasn’t even into my second puff when I saw him.

He always came bearing gifts, whether it was a 6-pack of beer, a bottle of wine, or even the ribs that his father prepared. This time was a little different though. My buddy Hugo showed up to my door with some papers and a proposition. A Latino man of about 26 or 27 years (hell, I forget his age, I forget my own age sometimes), Hugo grew up in a rough neighborhood and had more street smarts than I would probably ever have. Him and I were roommates in a tumultuous year of college, where we subsequently became best of friends. Hugo then proceeded to take the blue after college and wound up in detection. This was a man I entrusted my life with, to the point where I didn’t even need to say it, and I know he thought the same. Hugo would throw me a bone sometimes with these investigations, referring those aforementioned fat cats and widowed spouses to me. Hugo was a great guy, and widely misunderstood. People were aware of his background, and accordingly treated him with some sort of discretion or reverence of his tough childhood. In reality, Hugo was just a thoughtful goofball who would prefer to spend all day writing poems than working at the precinct. I think it was this fact that he was in tune with his feelings that allowed him to empathize with myself and others so much; a reason I really appreciated the guy. After a long day of investigation, it was nice to hang out with someone who would throw you the questions. The man knew exactly when to talk, and when to be silent; he valued every word that came out of his mouth and wasted none.

“Hey there neighbor.” Hugo approached with his usual brand of pleasantries. “I knew you’d be awake, figured I’d stop by and give you a heads up.”

“How’d you know? It’s three in the morning, I wouldn’t put money on something like that.” I retorted. I was oddly curious as to why he’d show up to my home on just a hunch.

“Easy. You haven’t done any snooping lately, nor are you covered in paint like you usually would be.” Here I was thinking I was the P.I. “Anyways, it’s a lead on a case. Figured you’d want a reason to get outta the house and get back to snoopin’. Pretty ugly too, some couple found dead overdosed on drugs with a suspicion of foul play. We’re not sure though, because of the drugs. Think the file said heroine or some trippy shit like that.”

“Jeez,” I responded, “sounds rough. I’ll get to work first thing tomorrow.” This was exactly what I needed, a motivation to get my ass to bed and be prepared for the day ahead.

“Let me get a drag.” Hugo said. I passed him my cigarette. He inhaled, made a face as though he tasted something sour, then passed it back to me and looked up. We had a brief conversation about our lives before we naturally ran out of things to say. “All right then, I’ll catch you later. I need to catch some Zzz’s.” We exchanged a handshake, and with that, Hugo took his leave. I watched him make his way out of my driveway before tending to my own affairs. I took a final drag of my cigarette, flicked it out into the street, then retreated back into my home. Mako was sitting obediently by the door waiting for me, his golden fur glistening against the yellow motel light flooding in through my window. I closed the blinds.

I slowly strolled back into my bedroom and crashed onto my bed. God, I loved my bed. I’m not one who researches my purchases, so when I walked into the mattress store, I picked the first one that felt comfortable. I’m a man who enjoys quality things. So coupled with the 800-thread count Egyptian cotton linens I bought, my bed wasn’t just a platform, it was an experience, the portal to a realm of ethereal subconsciousness. I found that I dreamed about my cases quite often, and even found clues while sleeping that I normally may have missed. So whatever I could do to enhance my dreams, I did. I didn’t question it, because it worked. A common mantra I practiced since I was a kid: “If it works, don’t fix it.” Thoughts raced through my head as to where I would begin the case. Before I could delve very far, I was overcome by sleep. The fog outside my house had seemingly invaded my head and knocked me out.

I awoke the next morning and was greeted by the densest fog I had seen in years living in San Francisco. Looming thoughts that this was a foreshadowing to the case raced across my mind, but were quickly disbanded by my morning routine. I poured out some food for Mako before tending to myself. I poured some cereal into a bowl, the sound of it puncturing the silence enveloping my home. I was in the middle of making coffee when I stopped, abruptly. “I never eat cereal and drink coffee.” I thought to myself. This would not do. I had to get myself in the proper frame of mind before tackling this case.

I decided my first stop would be at the precinct to see if I could uncover some information from the police. Don’t get me wrong, I had earned the trust of the police during my times in investigation. They had not earned mine. Those assholes are ready to pounce on every unsuspecting kid smoking a joint on the corner. They make it seem like they’re your friend, they abuse your rights, ask you a bunch of questions until you’re thoroughly confused, and only then do they tell you, “You have the right to remain silent.” Sometimes they won’t even tell you that part, but they’ll get away with it, just because they are the system. How are the police going to police themselves? Simply put, they don’t. Hugo was the only decent cop I knew, and I know he felt like I did. There were some real jerks working there, but I largely stayed out of the way. Last thing I would want is the rage of the police on my hands, I have enough on my plate as it is.

I hopped out of my car after a short ride, and walked up the stairs. I entered through some regal double doors, examining the hallway on my way down to the coroner. I made it into the coroner’s, the characteristic pale white light flooding the room and still as bright as ever. “Looking for Linda Fernandez.” I told one of the two coroners who were usually there. This guy’s name was Anders, if I recall correctly. Never got to know them too well, they always just gave my info and I was on my way. I need more people like that in my life. Anders pulled Linda out and I made my assessments. “Drugs, right?” I asked Anders. “Yeah, methamphetamine was found in their bloodstream.” Great. In my experience, meth made people do some wacky things, this case was gonna be nice and turbulent. What caught me off guard was the phrase “their bloodstream”. Their bloodstream? Who are they? To my surprise, Anders then proceeded to roll another man out. “Who’s this?” I inquired. “Her druggie partner.” He informed me. “Her husband?” I asked. “Actually, no,” said Anders, “He’s back home, but we’ve had him under close supervision lately.” “What’s he said? How’s he feel? Does he know this guy?” Every answer I got prompted 3 more questions in my head. “He’s holding up, says he’s grief-stricken and claims he doesn’t know this guy.” Anders calmly responded. “Where is he?” said I. He was released from custody the day after this happened. “He’s back home now, 473 45th Avenue, in the Sunset.”

I inspected their bodies on my own. Some bruising around both their necks was odd. Usually I found it was one person choking the other, not both at the same time. Linda’s eyes were yellow, with dark bags underneath. This told me that this probably wasn’t her first time smoking meth. I looked at her hands. No wedding band. The alerts in my head were starting to go crazy at this point. I headed over to the evidence room to see what they had on file. Not much, Mrs. Fernandez’s wedding band, and a characteristic tin that was used to store the meth. The little bears on the tin made an impression on my mind, something that I remember to this day. Whatever the situation was, I needed to have a word with Mr. Fernandez. I headed back by the coroner’s room, “Hey, thanks.” I tipped my hat to Anders, appreciative of his no-nonsense and punctual attitude, and headed out.

Next stop was 473 45th Avenue. My favorite place in San Francisco, the Sunset district was largely a residential area with a very quaint and quiet vibe. 45th Avenue happened to be 2 blocks away from the beach. Cruising down the road, I checked the time. It was closing in around 1 o’clock, I figured this would be a perfectly acceptable time to drop by. I began formulating in my head the best way to answer any potential dodges of his, the best way to present a question where lying would be near impossible. I was halfway into this mode of thinking before I noticed I was already there. I parked in his driveway, and got out. Soon as I stepped out, I got an eerie feeling crawl down my spine. I considered carrying my piece into the home, but I disregarded the idea. I didn’t need Mr. Fernandez to see me, a private investigator, barge into his home with a gun and a ton of questions.

I knocked on the door before realizing there was a bell. When no one responded to my knocks, I rung the bell, though I had a feeling no one would come either way. I retreated down the stairs and decided to check out his house. Immediately I noticed his side gate was unlocked and open. I seized this luck in an instant. I made my way into his backyard, a cluttered mess of ceramic garden gnomes and half-kempt grass. There stairs in the backyard that led up to the house. “Mr. Fernandez!” I called, hoping for both a reply and no reply. When I got nothing, I decided to push my luck. I ascended the stairs and tried to pry my way inside his home, but my luck there had run out. I came back down the stairs, and noticed a grungy basement door whose hinges were broken. I made my way in, a stale and slightly rotten smell filling my lungs. Nothing out of the ordinary in here, just his water heater, pipes, and other assorted things one keeps in a basement. I then noticed a thin plywood door on the side of the basement. I pried it open, and was greeted with stairs that went up towards the house. I slowly and quietly made my way up towards the house, listening for any sort of sign that Fernandez was here. I carefully opened the door, and made my way into his home. I knew I probably head only precious moments in his house, as was usually the case, so I bolted towards his bedroom. I figured this was the best place to look for anything incriminating. Again, I slowly opened the door to his bedroom, and made my way in. I was examining his desk, when I found a pink slip in his first drawer. It appeared as though he had been laid off at his job at a factory downtown. Before I had a chance to inspect it closely, I seemingly heard a door close somewhere in the distance, so I bolted out of there. I took my leave in the same way I came, leaving every thing intact, and heading back out of the side gate. I figured I would wait in my car for a bit before Fernandez showed up.

I observed him come up to his driveway from the safety of my car. He carried with him a large brown paper bag, like the ones they use for groceries. I knew this neighborhood, though, and knew there were no grocery stores within walking distance. I presumed he had been to a corner liquor store, and that there was alcohol in the bag, not groceries. Though a man who just lost his wife (and job), could care less to differentiate between groceries and alcohol.

We locked eyes as I proceeded to get out of my car. “Mr. Fernandez, I’m with the precinct, I just wanted to ask you a few quick questions if you don’t mind.” I wasn’t with the precinct, nor would my questions be quick, but I had to butter him up just the right way to gain permission to interview him. I doubt he would let some random investigator interrogate him. “Let me see your badge then,” he responded. “I’m in plainclothes today, Mr. Fernandez, no badges, no gun, nothing. I believe, however, that you’ve spoken to my partner Hugo Luna?” His apprehension, though understandable, already set me onto some sort of guilt. It was natural to be defensive, but this always made me suspect something. “Uh, yeah, I have, but I’ve answered all of his questions, I don’t see how I can be of any more usefulness.” There was definitely something up with this guy. “It’ll be quite quick, I assure you,” I answered. I could see the cogs in his head turning, and eventually he beckoned me up the stairs with a confused look on his face, “Come on up then.”

We entered his home, a scene that I was already familiar with greeted me, little to Mr. Fernandez’s knowledge. I immediately cut to the chase. “How long had you been married to your wife, Mr. Fernandez?” I asked. “Year and a half,” he answered. Interesting, they hadn’t been together for very long. “Where did you meet? Where did you get married?” He responded, “I met her in Vegas a year and a half ago, and we ended up getting eloped there and then.” Not a good sign. You tended to hear about these Vegas marriages not working out very well. This one certainly didn’t. “How long did you and your wife live here? Did you move in together immediately?” Fernandez responded with, “Yeah, after I made a little cash in Vegas, we headed here and rented out this place.” I questioned him further, “Did you know the man she was found with?” I asked. “No, I’ve already told Mr. Luna all I know, why am I being asked again?” He responded. Uh-oh, his rope was getting short, I had to get in my last few questions. “What do you do for a living Mr. Fernandez? Where do you work?” He responded, “I work down at the steel plant in South San Francisco.” I answered him, “You work at the steel plant?” I stared intensely at him, almost indicating that I knew exactly that he didn’t work at the plant anymore. I remained silent, making sure he was the one to speak next. “Well, I worked there. I was laid off recently. Look, it’s a hard time for me right now, ok?” He attempted inconspicuously to slide his paper bag behind his back as he said this. “Are we finished here? I just want to relax.” I noticed at this point that his eyes were rather wide, his pupils dilated. Deciding not to push my luck, I responded, “Yes Mr. Fernandez, sorry for bothering you, and thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.” There was no response from Fernandez, he simply turned his back as I made my out of his house.

As I descended the stairs, multitudes of questions were still circling around in my head. When was he laid off from his job? How did a man with no income afford to pay his rent? Was he already slightly drunk when he arrived? Is that why his eyes were looking crazy? I had to find a way to get back into his house to dig around some more. I resolved to return that night in my car and wait until he left somewhere.

I returned home briefly, as the sun was setting, to say hello to Mako and give him some food and water. After this case, I’d spend more time with him; I hated leaving him all alone at home. I composed my thoughts on Fernandez and the case at hand. Why would Mrs. Fernandez feel the need to cheat on her husband? Well, their marriage clearly was somewhat superficial, it’s not as though they spent a great deal of time together before getting married. Why would her lover choke Mrs. Fernandez? Conversely, why would she choke her lover? Were they even lovers? People on drugs can be irrational, certainly, but I had never heard of anything like this before. If the chronicles of Walter White had taught me anything about meth, it wasn’t that couples choked each other out while high. I needed answers.

I gave Mako a gentle rub on the head, and proceeded to make my way out. This time, I ended up being sure to pack my strap. I ended up parking across the street from Fernandez’s house, with the prototypical hat and sunglasses on as to conceal me. Sometimes, it just felt fun to play the detective and adhering to these classical rules established by the past. There was a charm about the solitary stake-out, being locked both in your head as well as your subject’s. I was lucky this time, it was barely half an hour before Fernandez made his way out. He went in the same direction as he had arrived from last time, so I assumed he was headed back to the corner store. The nearest corner store was on 42nd Avenue, 3 blocks away. I knew my time was limited, so as soon as I thought he was far enough, I bolted out of my car. First, I tried the front door. Locked, no luck. I made my way to the familiar side-gate, but no luck again, it was also locked. No matter, I lodged myself between the opposing wall and the gate, and climbed over. I made for the same basement door as I had used previously. To my delight, it was still open, as was the door leading into his house. I made my way quickly back towards his bedroom, and tried to find the pink slip. I looked in the same drawer initially and found it, almost undisturbed from the last visit. I scanned it frantically and came upon a very compelling result. Fernandez had been laid off almost 3 weeks ago, and I knew rent was due every month. I knew from the police and my own observations that he wasn’t going to any sort of job, so where was his income coming from? How did he afford to live here, where rent was through the roof? I knew I was running out of time, so I made my way towards the basement once more. Then it caught my eye. Those cartoon bears. I froze in my tracks when I saw it. Nestled on a shelf between the door and his washing machine in the basement. The tin with the bears on it. I approached slowly, opened it, and saw exactly what I expected. Next to it was a sizably larger tin that I progressed to check. More meth than I had seen before met my eyes. Then it all clicked.

He paid for his rent by selling drugs. He and his wife probably met in Vegas where they eloped, and ended sharing a wild lifestyle together. She took a share of her own drugs in her tin and shared it with her lover. Fernandez must have found out, showed up, and strangled the both of them. A man who lost his job and the fidelity of his job, in a methamphetamine induced rage, was easily capable of strangling the two of them. Fernandez was a big guy, for me at least, and I was nearly six feet tall. Mrs. Fernandez, in comparison was about 5’4”, and her lover much shorter than Mr. Fernandez. I wondered where to go from here. I was headed out through the backyard when I was surprised by Fernandez. As though he knew exactly what I had found, he rushed me, tackled me to the ground, and took a blow at my head. He connected on his first strike, and damn, that son of a bitch hit hard. I struggled to throw him off of me, but I was largely unsuccessful. He landed a few more blows to my head, before I grabbed a rock off the ground and connected to his temple. I was starting to feel a bit woozy from taking three good shots to the head. Fernandez recoiled from taking the hit to the temple, but quickly composed himself and wrapped his hands around my throat. In the same manner he must have killed his wife, he began to squeeze the air out of me. I fought hard to throw him off, but gravity and his weight were against me. My vision was starting to blur and go hazy, before I realized that my dumb ass brought a gun with me. I reached for my piece, and clipped Fernandez in the bicep right before I completely ran out of air. He howled in pain before I popped him again in the leg. He got off of me, while I gulped down the cold San Francisco air. I knew time was limited, so I got ahold of myself as quickly as possible, stood up, and kicked Fernandez in the ribs. He fell over onto his side, beaten up, but very much alive. I frantically reached for my phone, and with shaking hands dialed Hugo and the police along with an ambulance. From here, I kept my eye on Fernandez before the authorities arrived.

I told Hugo and the rest of them exactly what had happened. The evidence I found, the connection to Mrs. Fernandez, and Fernandez’s attempts to choke me out. I remember everything about that night, considering I came close to death. Everything I said seemed to check out in the present, and within a few days, Fernandez’s confession came out. It was another case closed, though this one came a bit too close for comfort. My throat and black eye were healed within a week, and I received a nice comp from Hugo and the precinct. I spent the next days relaxing with Mako just as I had planned to do, waiting for the next case to come my way. After a while, I found a few jobs in painting and construction, but those came and went. Then some time passed, and I found myself waking up in a cold sweat.