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In Baltimore humidity averages about 60% between February and April and 75% from throughout the country and it is considered rude to be late for a meeting. If visiting the US for fewer than 90 days, Australian nationals may be eligible to .. astronomy and space travel, to dinosaurs and general science experiments. From the beautiful Australia: Wild Extremes pavilion to the thrilling Blacktip 9 Reinvent the art of play at Port Discovery Children's Museum in Baltimore 16 Touch dinosaurs and gaze into space at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore . Sign up for our. ENewsletter. Search. Events. Discover. Attractions. Browse. The Society will meet on Monday, June 10, , in the dining room .. Melbourne Museum (Australia), Imagine escaping Washington's hot humid Rocks & Fossils, click on Rocks and Minerals, Dinosaurs and Fossils, or Meteors . Show, Maryland State Fairgrounds, York Road, Timonium, MD.

Finn and Rey, together with the other survivors, are hosted in the Almurian capital city. They make the argument that the First Order is relentless and won't stop until it completely controls the known galaxy. Finn knows this better than anyone. They're neutral and intend to stay that way.

But, Finn murmurs, if they won't join the fight, perhaps they could supply fighting material? To be paid for later? The Almurians discuss the matter and are eventually convinced. It's a gamble, but for them, a comparatively safe one. Finn and Rey leave encouraged. Now they need to try and find allies within the First Order itself: The Republic is dead, its home system destroyed.

Rose makes a suggestion. It's a daring but dangerous idea, yet could be the best place to look for silent sympathizers. Rey and Finn are persuaded.

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Finn, Rey, and Rose make contact with Resistance elements that have gone to ground. They sympathize, and would help, but not with Supreme Leader Snoke in charge. Rey, Finn, Rose are shocked by the refusal. Rey saw Ren kill Snoke. Cut him in half. The sympathizers don't know what she's talking about that.

The Supreme Leader is here, having taken over the old Imperial bureaucracy and buildings. What's going on here? Despite the danger, our trio needs to verify this impossibility for themselves. Then something "forceful" staggers Rey. Ren, confident but a bit bemused, entering a vast, elegant reception room. The old Imperial quarters. The doors close behind him and from a small door near the back enters Supreme Leader Snoke!

Snoke approaches, grinning mirthlessly. Want to kill me again? Snoke slightly lunges toward him. Acting on instinct, Ren draws his lightsaber and strikes Snoke down. He stares down at the undeniable corpse, only looking up at the sound of clapping hands. His eyes widen as Snoke appears from the same door near the back of the chamber "Well done! When Imperial scientists got very good at producing clones. A small, brilliant segment perfected the technology. Absolute duplication of the original, down to the last neural connection.

Which allowed for duplication of knowledge, memories, everything. Did Ren really think Snoke would allow him to destroy everything he had worked for? First law of military strategy: How many clones of him are there, Ren wonders? Snoke's grin now turns into an evil grimace.

The Resistance is finished, but the girl is still a concern, however slight. A smart ruler leaves no enemies alive, no matter how few. Ren has a connection with the girl. Is she still alive? And no lies, this time.

We see Rey react again, as before. She knows he knows. Snap back to the palace on Coruscant. Snoke knows the truth without Ren having to say anything.

But what Snoke doesn't know, and what Ren holds back from telling him, is that Rey is right here under the Supreme Leader's nose, on Coruscant. In a visit to the planetary security authority, he describes her to the local authorities, utilizing a mind-paint system. The word goes out to find her. And Ren, of course, will search for her himself.

What he will do when he finds her even he doesn't know. After Ren has left, Snoke brings in Hux. Time to begin consolidating the achievements of the First Order.

Time to bring reluctant systems into the fold. Hux names several that are ripe for takeover. Snoke nods, names three, one of which is Almuria. It occurs to Finn that they don't need fleets to stop the First Order.

They just need to stop Snoke. Plans are laid for an uprising on Coruscant. Montage showing the passage of time during which the uprising is set in motion, the Almurians produce fighters for the Resistance, Ren and the authorities search for Rey who has cut herself off from Ren, so he can't pinpoint her locationand Poe and Chewie recruit personnel.

On Almuria we see the front ends of new X-wings being built. But only the front ends. Poe and Chewie arrive and begin to train new pilots. The Almurians remind Poe that they are merely manufacturers and will take no part in any conflict.

Chewie offers his opinion on this and Poe hastens to quiet him. Not famed for their diplomacy. Secure deep-space communications allow Rey and Finn to inform Poe and Chewie of what they're planning. Poe avows as how as soon as their new ships are ready, they'll make the journey to Coruscant to come support the incipient rebellion there. It looks like a promising strategy, until a fleet appears off Almuria.

It's the First Order, under Hux, proclaiming that the Almurian Combine is now officially and gloriously welcomed into the Second Empire. The Almurians protest that they are neutral. A confident Hux replies that this is all for their own good. Better to be a part of the glorious 2nd Empire than continue as some spineless, unprotected neutrals.

As a part of the Empire, Almuria will be protected. Protected from whom, the Almurians want to know? Why, Hux replies smoothly, anyone who might threaten them. The Almurians can comply and all will proceed peacefully. Or they will be absorbed through force. An anxious Poe informs Rey of what's happening at Almuria and that he won't be able to support her proposed uprising.

They owe the Almurians a defense. Plans for the uprising are in motion. Too late to stop it now. Finn wishes her luck. Vice versa, and may the Force be with them both. On Almuria, a grim-faced Poe and Chewbacca prepare to launch their limited force. Then the Almurian leader arrives. Poe is coolly polite toward him, until the Almurian tells him that the Combine has decided to fight for its neutrality.

There is much brotherly grasping of arms or maybe tentacles. The Almurians will fight alongside the newly formed Resistance squadrons. Poe and Chewie are elated. The defense of Almuria is launched. Hux is not impressed. The fleet prepares to exterminate them. Taking over the Combine will proceed that much quicker and easier when any resistance is destroyed.

On Coruscant, Rey and Finn ignite the local rebellion, making progress toward the palace complex. He is not worried. Under the stress of combat, Rey lets her guard down for a moment.

Ren informs Snoke that she is right here, in Coruscant, and even now heading toward the palace. His last concern will be eliminated. Just as the Skywalker line has been terminated. Which prompts Ren to ask why Snoke cares so much.

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Snoke's expression tightens and we get a fast-moving flashback. To before episode one, to before episode four. A younger, muscular, even handsome figure that we recognize as Snoke. Bullying others, taking what he wants because he can, leaning toward the Dark Side. He is confronted by another, a hooded figure, who warns him that he is set on an untenable path.

Snoke is not afraid, he feels he is more powerful with the Force than anyone. He and the hooded figure fight in a factory where Snoke is knocked into a vat of chemicals and we finally see the determined yet sympathetic figure of his opponent.

A young Obi-wan Kenobi. Back in the palace, Snoke turns on Ren, and his fury causes even Ren to draw back. Did he think, Snoke declares as he indicates his ravaged face, that he always looked like this?

He vowed vengeance on Kenobi, any of his relatives and every one of his pupils. Working through Palpatine, he almost achieved his goals, until Anakin Skywalker, Darth Vader, was turned away from the Dark Side by his son, and killed Palpatine.

Snoke has always been there, in the background, manipulating, scheming, but with Palpatine's death was forced to come out into the open. Only Ren lives, but as a disciple of Snoke. The best revenge on Kenobi.

But Snoke did not foresee this girl, who is strangely strong with the Force. She is not a Kenobi, not a Skywalker, but she is the last unpredicted impediment to his rise to complete power and mastery of the Force. Snoke takes no chances. And she is coming here, right to him. Truly, the ways of the Force are rich with irony. We cannot tell what Ren is thinking.

Above Almuria Prime, the Almurian fleet is escorted out by the Resistance ships. But these X-wings are a new type. Front and rear are familiar enough, but they are connected by a tube-like six-sided central length of fuselage. Poe tells BB8 that this droid strategy better work.

The Almurian fleet is stronger than expected, but nothing they can't handle. It also seems to be escorted by a group of X-wings. That causes Hux to frown. It was believed that the Resistance was dead. How many fighter escorts? About a hundred, he is told. Well, after this battle, the Resistance really will be finished. Hux prepares to launch the TIE fighters. The Almurians launch drone ships that jump to hyperspeed.

But they do nothing. Aboard his flagship, Hux smiles. His subordinates report that the new hyperspace defensive shields are working as intended, shunting anything coming at them at lightspeed off into hyperspace. Chewie roars but Poe tells his pilots not yet. Get in closer, closer. On each of the six sides of the extended X-wings, four bay doors snap open.

Out zoom twenty-four drones: Poe grins, Chewie roars, BB8 and R2 beep. Each X-wing commands twenty-four drones, all which move in perfect tandem with each commanding X-wing pilot.

Mirror images of his maneuvers. Poe whoops and Chewie bellows as they attack. Screens are saturated and shattered, ships are flamed, and just as Hux orders a retreat to hyperspace, his own ship is blasted. Something startles Chewie and we see the Falcon pull away and out of the fight. As Poe circles and shoots in triumph at the remaining First Order ships, his expression abruptly changes as he remembers Rey, Finn, Rose, and supporters take down guards and fight their way into the palace complex.

Finn doesn't know which way to go, C3PO isn't sure, but Rey knows. She can sense Ren. They fight their way into the reception room. Ren is there, asks her to surrender. Ren steps aside to reveal She and Finn are shocked, stunned. C3PO is in "Oh dear" mode. She looks at Ren. Clone, he tells her. Indistinguishable from the original.

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How many, she asks? More than she could defeat, certainly. More than he could. More than they could together. He drops his head. Not that it matters if he does. He looks to his right. Two more Snokes come through the rear door. Activating her saber, Rey tells Finn and Rose to get out, continue the fight elsewhere. She'll try to hold them off here. No way, they tell her. They fire their weapons. The trio of Snokes ward off the shots.

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Snoke freezes the trio. Rey drops her saber. Snoke orders Ren to complete the work. Firing up his saber, Ren approaches the paralyzed Rey, who struggles futilely to reach her own weapon, now lying quiescent on the floor.

It quivers but does not come to her. Outside the palace, guards are firing from the ramparts down into the crowd. Something makes them look up. They panic and abandon their posts as their heavy weapons are destroyed. It's the Falcon, with Chewie piloting and firing.

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After clearing an upper landing area, it touches down. Inside, Ren is clearly torn. He doesn't want to kill Rey, but he can't resist Snoke any longer. He apologizes, steps back, raises his saber Finn and Rose scream.

At the last possible instant, something knocks Rey aside. She falls to the floor, gasping. Ren stands over her, lightsaber poised to strike. Then Ren, Finn, Rose, and C3PO, everyone, look to the main portal, their expressions reflecting their utter astonishment. A single figure stands there. We saw him die at the end of ep. I searched for you. Your lifeforce had vanished from perception!

So I had to To that space in between. The Force allows it. I needed a rest anyway. But this time Luke doesn't duck his strike. In one smooth motion he activates his saber But the real battle is between him and Snoke.

Descending down from his seat, Snoke ignites a saber of his own. So do his two doppelgangers. The fight is on. Luke kills one Snoke, fights the remaining pair. Elsewhere, the battle between the uprising and the security and guards rages. Finn and Rose retreat. Outside, among the chaos, they hurriedly discuss what they have seen. Snoke clones have to come from somewhere. With Luke and the Snoke clones occupied with one another, Ren reaches down, extending a hand to Rey.

Then he notices something and freezes. We see what he sees. Rey on the floor, breathing hard. The upper right side of her head cut away and cauterized. Amid the exposed bone, a small freeform transparency fills part of her head, melding sinuously with her brain.

Behind the transparency, lights flash and twinkle. Reaching up, Rey touches the exposed area, and draws back her hand in shock. The revelation is as unexpected to her as it is to us. No wonder you mastered the use of the Force so quickly.

He strikes down with his lightsaber. Rolling, Rey dodges the blow, grabs her owner weapon, ignites it, and fights back. Luke kills another Snoke. He forces the last one backward. But so am I. And you are one. As Ren and Rey battle behind him, Luke prepares to confront the surge of identical newcomers. C3PO tries to flee, encounters the chaos outside, quickly retreats back in wondering how he ever got into this mess. Amid the combat raging outside, Finn and Rose save a high official from being killed by the mob.

The Supreme Leader's clones: They "persuade" the official to show them and head off, but not before they have acquired some grenade-like weapons from dead security personnel. Down, down they go, into the sub-levels beneath the palace complex.

The frightened official shows them the guarded place where Snoke's clones are churned out. Finn and Rose attack. While Finn holds off the guards, Rose sets the explosives they have acquired She and Finn exchange a look. Above, more and more Snokes pour into the room. Snoke snarls at Luke. He can't possible win. Stepping back, Luke bends, picks up a fallen lightsaber.

Maybe he can't, but he feels that the Force is with him. It always has been, even when he was at his lowest moments. Also, these are with him. He activates the second lightsaber and begins to swing both, making two circles, then he starts to cross them in front of him.

And then he begins to pivot, faster and faster, a veritable dervish. Surrounded by a ball of multicolored energy, he plows into the multiple Snokes, obliterating them. They can't reach him through the energy sphere he is creating around himself. Nearby, Ren presses Rey. She came from nowhere, her parents were nobodies. She tries to resist, but cannot. In her mind, she sees. Her parents, junk dealers, with an infant.

An infant with a deformed skull. They take her to a renegade surgeon on Jakku. There is one possible operation, but it's experimental and highly dangerous. It could kill her.

Her parents agree to it. Rey is operated on. The shape of her head is made normal, but with part droid componentry inside to help keep her alive. Natural skin and hair grow swiftly over the surgical opening. Her parents can't handle her. They abandon her as young girl, paying what they can to Unkar Plutt to look after her. He abandons her as a child, but she turns scavenger and somehow, survives.

Rey is shaken by the recovered memories. She relaxes, sways, shuts off her saber. Ren holds off, still conflicted, but finally decides that he has to kill her.

To save her from herself. To purify the Force. For his own sake. She falls backward, her eyes closing in resignation and exhaustion, and he moves in.

Right into her reactivated lightsaber as her eyes snap open. Startled, run through, and as conflicted as ever, Ren dies in front of her The fireball that has surrounded him vanishes. The First Leader is triumphant. A Jedi Master may go on and on, but a lightsaber's power is finite.

The trio of Snokes surround him. Below, Finn yells at the imprisoned Rose, but she just smiles at him. The clone manufacturing area is destroyed. Above, a startled Snoke reacts. With his attention momentarily distracted, Luke reactivates his twin sabers and throws them. Two Snokes are speared and killed.

The surviving Snoke looks toward the rear doorway, but there are no more Snokes, no more replacement First Leaders. The many have been reduced to one. But it is enough. Raising his own weapon, he starts forward. Luke waits for the end. He stumbles over to Rey and she falls against him, sobbing.

We see the exposed part of her "brain" twinkling. I am a monster! Just an enhanced version. Above Almuria, Poe and R2 are triumphant. So are the Almurians. But they're still determinedly neutral, their leader warns Poe.

The Resistance needs more neutrals like them. R2 informs him that via the secret hyperspace communications channel that he has been told that the First Leader is no more and that Rey and Finn are all right. Finn and R2 turn sober. They head back down to the surface of Almuria. In the palace on Coruscant, the victorious uprising salutes Luke and Rey as they emerge from the palace into the surrounding area, which is littered with smoking fighting machines, etc. C3PO, brushing at himself, follows behind.

Luke suddenly staggers, has to sit down up against a tree in the imperial park. A concerned Rey bends over him. Everything is alright now. The Force is, finally, in balance.

She tells him he's going to be okay. He tells her he already is okay. There is, however, one small thing she has to do for him. Take care of the galaxy.

No in-between existence this time. Holding back her sobs, Rey gently closes his eyes. C3PO is there to comfort her. But he has seen a great deal, and if he has learned anything it is that nothing is ever, really, completely for certain.

Reaching up, he touches her exposed skull portion. Has anyone told her lately how really beautiful she is? She sniffs, then starts to laugh, softly. Then her expression changes as she sees Finn, battered but alive, limping out of the smoking Imperial complex. He comes toward her and she rises to meet him.

C3PO shakes his head dolefully. I'll never understand them. This story follows upon the events of Ep. That which could not be corrected is passed over. No timeline for completion. Like an old clock, I'm just slowing down. I suppose everything is relative no pun intended.

The energy that drove me or the compulsion, if you prefer back when I was in my twenties and thirties these days seems to be devoted to more homely tasks i. With currently six cats and a dog, there's a lot to look after I should have bought stock in a cat litter mine Ever since the maid, butler, and chauffeur quit har-de-har, as Jackie Gleason was wont to exclaim I've had more to do than in earlier times. The house is too big for us, but after living in it for 38 years there seems no point in moving.

Tahiti is too far away, New York is too busy, Anchorage too cold although that is I reckon we'll just stick where we are. Besides, if we moved I'd have to box up all the books although strangely, totally unknown folks as well as friends have repeatedly offered to kindly relieve me of any need to hang onto them. To quote from their webpage, "NXS explores "the self" in the age of digital technology".

When time allows and interest evolves, I love doing stuff like this. You can't buy a dinner for two at the Five Crowns restaurant in Amsterdam with the proceeds, but it lets you explore. And I love exploring. So, eighteen stories featuring the crazy like a wolf or just plain crazy mountain man.

It's great to see them all together in one volume. Also, new introductions to the stories. Hardcover publisher still to be determined. I'll announce the publication date when it is made available. And that's about it. February's a short month, anyway. Those of you who'd like to read it can google 5senses. It's a freebie, so no need for hesitation.

The weather here is ridiculous. The high today will be 70F. Other than the utter lack of precipitation, it's paradisical. The local critters, especially the cottontails, are more than a little confused. I will reserve my own judgment until after I've seen it later today. And no, I have had nothing to do with the film or any subsequent related material.

I am not doing the novelization, spinoff titles, or anything so much as a quote on a cereal box. They, my agency, and I are actively looking for someone to do the hardcover. It's very flattering to constantly get requests to revisit or follow up on previous work. Something else featuring Skua September. It's not that such projects don't interest me. That's not the problem.

The problem is that they all do. Time is finite and as it passes, there always seems to be more demand on it. I love doing short fiction, too. Time, and ever less of it. Temps in the 70's until today and still above normal. The vegetation can deal with it but the birds are confused.

On the other hand, our roadrunners always look a bit confused. Whereas the coyotes are delighting in the ongoing late season surplus of rodents, which is why they never bother to chase the roadrunners coyotes are the canid antithesis of stupid.

If they reflected zoological reality those great Chuck Jones cartoons would not only be boring but gruesome, with roadrunners horking down snakes and lizards while their coyote counterparts squatted nearby noisily and messily dismembering ground squirrels, chipmunks, and pack rats.

Now, how did I get on that? Reality, one learns, even reality involving charismatic animals, is more of a George Carlin routine than a Hallmark Special. Out next year from Del Rey.

Which led me to a meeting with the wonderful and somewhat reclusive author James H. Schmitz, a favorite of Analog editor John W. So I can claim 47 years as a contributor. I wish I had more time to write short fiction. Heck, I wish I had more time, period. A hundred years is scarcely long enough to begin to emerge from childhood. Arthur Clarke knew that. I think it's one reason he never passed on an opportunity to play ping-pong.

Last month I posted that the Discussion Board was deactivated. Just a different system. Going to see COCO next week. I've always been a huge fan of animation. Got to give it up for Pixar. Their cinematic takes on old age, emotions, superhero life, fish family loss, and now death do not constitute typical cartoon fare.

Also note that the Discussion Board is currently deactivated. I can be contacted with questions, verbal flailings, etc. If someone would like to re-open, re-vamp, or otherwise re-handle a discussion board, I'm open to submissions. I have the time to answer questions but not to moderate. I hope everyone enjoys it. It was fun, though sometimes difficult, to write, due to the need to transcribe the Larian language into comprehensible human terms you'll understand when you read the book.

I'm trying to find time to compile some short story collections, since there hasn't been one in a while. As opposed to many of the other structures, she was made from fiberglass and wasn't particularly heavy. In order to safety get it from its original location to the farm a few miles down the road, it had to be cut in half. Bill Lakenan A map from the early years of the Enchanted Forest. For over 30 years, they brought joy to countless kids from across the Eastern Seaboard.

Soon, though, time took its toll. The children stopped coming and the characters were abandoned, left to rot away behind a shopping center. With the help of her fellow villagers and several large cranes, she brought the Enchanted Forest back to life.

Amusement and theme parks were well-suited for entertaining families who had a little extra money to spend. Just like Disney, [Harrison] thought of what he could do to entertain these families. From untilthe Enchanted Forest gave life to the imagination of the Baby Boomer generation.