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Putting Bond's revenge against Quantum at the centre of Quantum of Solace

Saw the post mentioning that no one has attempted to give Quantum of Solace a rewrite and decided to give it a shot. It was actually harder than I thought. Rewatching it I think many of the film’s issues comes from the director writer than writing. I think the generally plotting of the film is fairly decent, especially giving the ongoing writer’s strike at the time. The main issue is that there’s effectively two films going on: One in which Bond is hunting down Quantum seeking revenge for Vesper and one in which Bond goes rogue in order to stop the CIA financing a coup d’etat in Boliva. My main goal was to try better merge them into a more cohesive story. In particular I want to give Vesper’s former lover, Yusuf Kabira, (ie the reason she betrays Bond and then gets murdered in Casino Royale) more of a role, rather than just having him be relegated to a single scene at the end of the film.

The Changes

· Making Yusuf Kabira, Vesper’s former lover, a major character, effectively serving as the main henchman of the film
· Changing Camille’s backstory. Instead of being a Bolivian agent she’s the daughter of the current Bolivian president and she’s has also been seduced by Kabira. Quantum’s plan is to expose the relationship between the President’s daughter and a foreign agent, thus creating a political scandal that will pre-empt a coup d’état by General Medrano.
· We cut Dominic Greene and the Plot To Steal Bolivar’s Water entirely. We give most of Greene’s role to Mr White.
· Finally, we are going to play up the whole Bond Versus the CIA thing. Lets try and use Jefferey Wright more and give Felix a bit of a redemption arc

The new plot

We are going to cut the opening car chase entirely and start with Bond driving into the Sienna safehouse having captured Mr White at the end of Casino Royale. Waiting inside the safehouse are M and another agent called Yusuf Kabira. Bond can greet Kabira saying something like “How was Bolivia?” and he replies with something witty like “Very stimulating”. The interrogation goes the same way as the original as Kabira is revealed to be a double agent and helps Mr White escape. Bond chases Kabira across the rooftops of Sienna. They can briefly fight but Kabira is able to escape. Cut to the opening title sequence.
After the titles we see MI6 investigating Kabira’s London apartment. In a secret compartment they discovered files on Vesper Lynd including photos of Kabira and Vesper together. Bond is visibly shaken by this information and M asks him if Bond can be trusted to keep his feelings separate from his job. Bond assures M he will. He also suggests looking into Kabira’s recent mission in Bolivar. When they do, they discover that Kabira was having frequent meetings with a mysterious woman at a particular hotel and will soon meet her again.
Kabira meets the mysterious woman, who we learn is called Camille, in the hotel in Santa Cruz, Boliva. The two are clearly lovers. They go to their room but are ambushed by Bond waiting for them there. We then basically get the scene from the end of Quantum of Solace where Bond reveals who Kabira is to Camille and shows her the necklace he gave to Vesper, identical to one Kabira’s given to Camille. Camille is obviously shocked by this revelation. At gunpoint Bond orders the two of them into a car to drive to an airfield where MI6 is waiting to arrest Kabira. In the car Kabira taunts Bond about Vesper. The car is soon stopped by members of the Bolivian military led by a General Medrano.
Bond now finds himself being captured as he is separated from Kabira and Camille and taking to a different site. There he discovers Felix Leiter and several other CIA agents. Initially Bond is pleased to see an ally but quickly realises that Felix and the CIA are working with Medrano and Kabira. Leiter tries to justify himself saying that things are more complicated than they seem, and that MI6 has no business getting involved in Bolivia. He also reveals that Camille is the daughter of the Bolivian president. He pleads with Bond to go back to London and forget about what he has seen. Bond refuses and escapes leading to a chase between Bond and the CIA. Bond is able to make his way to the airfield where he leaves Bolivia, dejected after failing to capture Kabira and avenge Vesper.
We then see Leiter meeting with White and Medrano. This pretty much resembles the scene from the original film where the CIA strikes a non-interference deal with the pair in exchange for the USA gaining access to Bolivian oil. After Leiter leaves, Medrano tells White that he has held up his end of the bargain and accuses White of unnecessarily delays. White argues that they need the support of the other partners of “his organisation” before they can go ahead, and Medrano replies that perhaps he should speak to White’s partners in person.
MI6 discover that Medrano has booked a ticket to see an opera in Bregenz, Austria and Bond goes to investigate. We then get the scene from the original film where the leaders of Quantum have their meeting during the Opera. Medrano is also at the meeting and we hear the Quantum members give their assent to go ahead with Medrano and White’s plan to expose the relationship between Camille and Kabira (who will be presented as a British spy) thus creating a political scandal which will cause a crisis allowing Medrano to seize power. Afterwards Medrano will allow Quantum to take control of Bolivia’s oil fields. With Medrano is Camille who is clearly being held there against her will. When she excuses herself to go to the bathroom Medrano sends one of his men to watch her. Camille still attempts to escapes and Bond intervenes helping her but blowing his cover in the process and gets caught in a very public shoot out with Medrano’s men. Medrano and the other members of Quantum escape.
We then cut to London where we see M getting a dressing down from the foreign secretary in the aftermath of the shooting in Austria. The foreign secretary tells M that the Prime Minister has bowed to American pressure and order that all MI6 operations in South America be terminated. With no choice M calls Bond and orders him to return to England but Bond of course refuses. M once again asks if his desire to get revenge on Kabira for Vesper’s death is affecting his decision-making. Bond hangs up.
In a safehouse Bond and Camille watch as news of Camille’s relationship with Kabira makes international headlines and the crisis Medrano and White engineered begins to take shape. Bond and Camille open up to each other, with Bond hinting at his past with Vesper. They resolve to return to Bolivia and attempt to prevent Medrano’s coup d’état. Without MI6 aid Bond turns to Rene Mathis who, after being acquitted of being a double agent following Casino Royale, is living in retirement in the south of France. Mathis agrees to help them, and they use his private jet to fly to Bolivia.
As they reach Bolivian airspace two American fighter jets begin tailing them, ordering them to land. Bond, Mathis and Rene agree that their only option is to abandon the plane only to learn there’s only one parachute onboard. Mathis tells Bond and Camille to escape while he leads the Americans away, sacrificing himself. Bond tries to protest. Mathis tells Bond that Vesper did love him. As Bond and Camille cling to each other with the parachute they see Mathis’ plane get shot down.
Once they land, they make their way to Bolivia’s capital La Paz. Felix contacts Bond for a meeting, effectively offering a brief truce. Camille tells Bond its a trap, but Bond decides to go anyway. They meet in a bar and Bond is able to convince Felix that Medrano will betray the CIA and give Quantum access to the Bolivan oil fields. Felix tells Bond that they are currently being watched by other CIA agents and as soon as Bond leaves, they will try to kill him. Felix gives Bond a location to go to if he survives. Evading the American agents Bond goes to this location and discovers Felix has left him a file detailing the CIA’s involvement in the impending coup d’état.
We then see tanks rolling into La Paz as the Medrano’s coup d’état begins. Medrano arrives at the state television station to announce his takeover. Bond and Camille race to the station to try to stop him. Fighting their way through Medrano’s men they are confronted by Kabira. Bond and Kabira get locked in a one-on-one shootout as Camille goes to take on Medrano alone. She finds the studio where Medrano is broadcasting the announcement of his new rule. His men have all left to stop Bond leaving Medrano all alone. Camille shoots Medrano and starts showing the Felix’s evidence of the CIA’s involvement.
Mr White, watching this unfold, orders the broadcast be stopped by any means necessary. The tanks outside the television station suddenly begin firing on the building, reducing it to rubble.
We cut back to Bond and Kabira who are now fighting hand-to-hand. As the building starts to collapse Kabira becomes trapped under falling debris. In desperation he reaches out to Bond. Bond holds out his hand, only to drop Vesper’s necklace in front of him. He leaves Kabira to die. Finding Camille, the two escape the collapsing television station.
They go to the Bolivian Presidential Palace as the Bolivian military either retreats or surrenders around them. There Camille’s family is waiting. The two kiss before parting ways.
Cut to a few weeks later Bond meets Leiter on the National Mall in Washington D.C. Leiter tells Bond that Mr White and the other members of Quantum have all gone underground and can’t be found. Bond asks Leiter if he’s been reprimanded for the whole Bolivian affair and Leiter replies he’s being sent on a dead-end assignment to San Monique. The two part as friends. As Felix leaves Bond receives a call from M about his next mission.
submitted by ProbablyTheWurst to fixingmovies [link] [comments]

D100 Incidents a charlatan PC is making amends for

100 things a charlatan PC would be trying to make amends for. This is an idea brought up by a player at my table who wants a sort of "My Name is Earl" redemption story where she finds the person she wronged and tries to make up for it.

d100 Incidents a charlatan PC is making amends for

  1. Leaving an acquaintance to blame for selling fake drugs to a noble [Sleepy_Bandit]
  2. Tampering with a competitor's equipment to cause them to lose a competition so you can win a bet [Sleepy_Bandit]
  3. Stealing candy from a child who has now grown up to become a rage-filled barbarian [Sleepy_Bandit]
  4. Selling fake love potions to a desperate noble who ended up being embarrassed in public [Sleepy_Bandit]
  5. Using a friend's identity for an illegal deal and getting them arrested / questioned by the authorities [Sleepy_Bandit]
  6. Seducing away a minor noble’s daughter while posing as a noble, leaving them both destitute. [Marksman157 ]
  7. bank fraud, resulting in the economic collapse of a village; a few deaths by despair, starvation or incidental robbery involved [LordsOfJoop ]
  8. planting fake evidence of involvement with a string of robberies, resulting in a local noble being exiled for life [LordsOfJoop ]
  9. popularizing a song that portrays a church in a strongly negative light, resulting in a purge from the region [LordsOfJoop ]
  10. selling a crate of shoddy weapons and armor to a local militia, resulting in a humiliating defeat [LordsOfJoop ]
  11. Playing both sides of a minor dispute between nobles that resulted in closed borders between the 2 regions (cold war situation). [always_gamer_hair]
  12. Farting at a very inopportune moment in front of a noble's child. [always_gamer_hair]
  13. Keeping a memento from a battle that should have gone back to the soldier's significant other or child. [always_gamer_hair]
  14. Climbing up a wall with clearly posted "no climbing" signs, causing part of the wall to collapse [always_gamer_hair]
  15. Accidentally melting the ice sculptures at a local ice festival. [always_gamer_hair]
  16. Reselling stolen goods to the wrong merchant. [always_gamer_hair]
  17. Informing the local captain of the guard that their wife is having an affair when, in fact, she is most certainly not. [always_gamer_hair]
  18. Joined a convent for 9 months to hide from debt collectors, then burned the place down in a botched attempt at faking their death. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  19. Let a refugee family use their name to get into a safe city, having forgotten that they are a wanted criminal there. The family was detained, brutally interrogated as potential accomplices, and then thrown out. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  20. Used a set of vestments stolen from a cleric's wardrobe following a one night stand to sell fake indulgences and de-cursings. Many people were injured, and the cleric has been banished from their temple. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  21. Made up a really impressive sounding fake name off the cuff while being arrested which turned out to be a real, very important person. Interpreting the announcement of their arrest as some sort of provocation, a series of insults and slights escalated into an actual border war... in which the character was an active profiteer. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  22. Deflowered one of the participants in a critical political marriage the night before the ceremony, derailing a critical peace settlement and destabilizing the entire region for years [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  23. Participated in a rebellion against an evil overlord, and named names when captured by the guards. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  24. Hocked a critical spare part from an irrigation system for beer money, causing a massive crop failure when that part was needed and couldn't be found in time. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  25. Engaged in some petty abuse of the local populace while wearing a guard uniform (stolen as part of another petty crime), which provoked a clash between the local peasants and the local law, resulting in many injuries and some deaths. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  26. Took a large sum of money to act as a surveyor and just copied a previous surveyor's work, resulting in multiple recently founded villages being destroyed when a dam was built down-river from them. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  27. Accidentally started a race war by spouting off about how much better elves are than dwarves...in a dwarf bar [WSHIII]
  28. Accidentally started a three way religious war by claiming Torm was better than Ilmater...in Tyrian temple. [WSHIII]
  29. Accidentally started the Blood War by pissing through a portal into Graz’zt’s throne room...while dressed as a devil for Halloween [WSHIII]
  30. Betting (and losing) a party member on a gamble after already having lost all their money. The winner has ties to the slave trade and is not happy. [Zekaito]
  31. Sold a man a bridge who was subsequently eaten by a very persistent troll. [Wolfenight]
  32. The significant other of a person killed in a fireball mistake turned out to be a renowned and feared bounty hunter. [supersteve320]
  33. Tricking a family member or friend into buying pointless insurance. [Umkynareth]
  34. Tricking a family or friend into investing in a company that never existed. [Umkynareth]
  35. Convincing a friend not to marry by using a loaded die / coin. [Umkynareth]
  36. Upcharging significantly for beewine/mead at a close friend’s wedding. [Umkynareth]
  37. Taking and completing a contract to kill or bankrupt a close relation’s parent, friend or lover. [Umkynareth]
  38. Betting and losing a deed that wasn’t theirs to bet. [Umkynareth]
  39. Stealing a horse. [Umkynareth]
  40. Rewriting their parents’/grandparents’ will to their benefit. [Umkynareth]
  41. Laundering money for a gang / beholder / trading company that then ruined the charlatan’s ancestral lands or city. [Umkynareth]
  42. Convincing a former ally to make a pact with a shady entity at great personal cost in the name of wealth. [Umkynareth]
  43. Extorting, blackmailing or embezzling from an orphanage. [Umkynareth]
  44. Running an orphanage as a front. [Umkynareth]
  45. Skimming/stealing tithes. [Umkynareth]
  46. Hanging on to a memento from a cursed forest / temple, which must be returned lest extremely bad luck continue to befall them. [Umkynareth]
  47. Selling a cursed memento to an acquaintance that granted them exceptionally bad luck. [Umkynareth]
  48. Working with a troll/ogre to collect bridge tolls at great cost to life and limb for others. [Umkynareth]
  49. Contributing to the extinction of a local beast / bird after selling snake oil made from its bits. [Umkynareth]
  50. Conning a respected warrior into buying a weapon the charlatan enchanted to return to his/her position when the command word was spoken. [Umkynareth]
  51. Secretly working with a nothic to learn too much at great cost. [Umkynareth]
  52. Destroying a family’s crops and livelihood with shoddy agricultural remedies to cause their business and lands’ value to decline. [Umkynareth]
  53. Eating that last slice of pie... it was not a good idea... [dermitdog]
  54. Instigating a gang war between two shady (yet wealthy) casinos by cheating and pretending to be from the other casino. [dermitdog]
  55. Sinking the prize ship of a navy while pretending to be a nautical carpenter [dermitdog]
  56. Crashing the lord's masquerade by spilling all of the swindled gold lining your clothes while on the stage, then escaping and therefore discrediting the lord for allowing a vagabond to steal so much money and get away with it leaving the (generous and generally beloved) noble house destitute. [dermitdog]
  57. Selling 'magical' 'snake' oil that, caused a child to die of blood poisoning instead of their terminal (yet curable) illness. [dermitdog]
  58. Reading from the wrong scripture while posing as a preacher, causing a devout acolyte to be executed for heresy after reciting your teachings. [dermitdog]
  59. Lying about your identity to someone while becoming their lover for a scheme. The love was eventually genuine from your side, but the scheme wasn't exactly for the other's benefit. The revelation of your lie has left them heartbroken and angry at you. [dermitdog]
  60. Laundering money so well that it got into wider circulation and put multiple people into prison as they tried to use the money in more rigorous markets. [dermitdog]
  61. Telling someone that you could make them fly, leading to their suicide. [dermitdog]
  62. Selling family heirlooms while posing as a moving company worker, scattering the heritage of a dwindling noble family. [dermitdog]
  63. Leaving your home city abruptly, cutting all ties and never looking back on the people you knew. [dermitdog]
  64. Not stopping a clear case of marital abuse because doing so would blow your cover. [dermitdog]
  65. Stealing the bricks from a historic building and selling them at extortionate prices while replacing them with weaker materials, causing the building to collapse during a busy day. [dermitdog]
  66. Misquoting a holy passage, causing a schism in the church. [dermitdog]
  67. Pressured an accomplice to not seek medical aid for a serious injury, fearing it would result in the detection of a criminal plot, only to wreck the plot themselves by running their mouth in a tavern while drunk. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  68. Not wanting to be outdone telling tawdry tales at the inn, the character made up an atrociously lurid fib about their activities with a young princess they had never actually met. A bard heard it, made it into song, and completely ruined her marriage prospects. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  69. Sold a map of the city catacombs to what they thought were drug smugglers for 50 gold and a cask of nice wine. The "drug smugglers" were an engineering crew from a rival city, and in a siege 6 months later used the plans to great effect by setting explosives under critical defense structures. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  70. Convinced a young accomplice to take the fall for a crime they committed, on the logic that the character would be able to break them out later. Character instead got arrested for partying too hard in the next town over, and jumped a ship out of the country instead of trying to go back for their fall guy. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  71. Persuaded several friends to bankroll them for a surefire gambling scheme, based on a plan to use advanced math to calculate the "true" odds of any particular play. Lost everything when they got too drunk to properly carry the "1". [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  72. While rummaging through a church for things to steal, they found an old bottle of wine, drank it, and put the empty bottle back in it's nook. The bottle was one of the earthly possessions of a man who ascended to a higher plane, and it's consumption was seen as a sign of his return. Several pretenders appeared, triggering a violent schism in the religion. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  73. When travelling, they met the last survivor of a pilgrimage, clutching a golden chest in his hands. They were attempting to return a holy relic to a temple, in accordance with an oath sworn by the founder of their order over 150 years ago. With their last breath, they begged the character to deliver the relic in the chest to their destination. The character, headed the other direction, chose to throw the relic in a creek and hock the chest for 10 gold. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  74. In a moment of cocky bravado, the character gloated over the fallen body of a dangerous litch, telling them that they were an idiot for not hiding their phylactery better, rattling off several examples. The lich then used a contingency spell to transport themselves and their phylactery away. The phylactery hasn't been seen since, but the lich has been a plague on the land for years... [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  75. Accidentally fell in with a group of highway robbers and cutthroats, who told the character they were freedom fighters against a corrupt regime. The character found out after a week, but stuck around for a whole month because the "rebel leader" was just too hot. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  76. Attempting to get a lover to leave them so as to not feel the guilt of initiating a breakup, the character went too far, gaslighting their SO to the point of actual madness. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  77. Sold samples of their own blood to a group they knew to be demon summoning cultists as "virgin blood" (lol, no). They successfully summoned the demon, but completely failed at containing or dismissing it. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  78. Got drunk and took a piss in a holy fountain, deconsecrating it. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  79. Fiddled around with an elaborate sundial because they were bored, not knowing that it served an important role in timing the local planting cycle and triggering massive crop failure. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  80. Agreed to act as a fraudulent guardian for a group of orphans who needed parental consent to join the Army. The "military recruiter" was actually an agent for a slave trader. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  81. Hid the body of a dead man in a well, contaminating the only ready source of clean water within 5 miles of a small town. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  82. Received a key to the city for services rendered, and then got drunk and lost it. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  83. Sold a large pile of colored flour to a church, telling them it was rare medicinal powder. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  84. Stole a statue from a town square and sold it for cheap to an art collector. The statue was actually the petrified body of a legendary hero, prophecied to return to life in the time of greatest need, and the "art collector" her ancient nemesis. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  85. Yelled "do a flip" at a despondent man standing on a ledge. They did the flip. It was horrible. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  86. Spent years convincing an old, half-blind noblewoman that they were their adult grandchild. When the real grandchild came to visit, the guards shot them as an impostor. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  87. Knowingly gave a group of pirates a map of the harbor defenses of a city that had banished them for multiple crimes. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  88. Blamed a rash of robberies they had committed on an in-city goblin community, giving their enemies a pretense to persecute and exile them, uprooting families that had been living there for generations and turning "Goblintown" from a thriving community to an urban blight. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  89. Knowingly sold defective spell components to a group of student wizards, causing them to fail their final exams when the spells misfired. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  90. While drunk and in a fighty mood, played "devil's advocate" in an argument with a paladin, turning them Oathbreaker. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  91. After being saved from a shipwreck by a merperson, told a group of pirates where to find them in exchange for a fixed fee per fin they cut off. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  92. Participated in a scheme to breed and train mimics to act as guard animals and security devices. It worked great for about 72 hours, and then people started getting beaten to death by their own nightstands. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  93. Blamed a friendly old healer woman for cursing them, so they wouldn't need to explain certain symptoms of a STI to their significant other. The healer was a druid who was single-handedly responsible for keeping the Fair Folk at bay and placated, and after she was driven away as a witch they moved in on the town. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  94. Sold swords with defective heat treating to a local militia, many of which shattered in their hands when they were attempting to defend their town from bandits. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  95. Having come down ill before the night of a major party, the character paid a spellcaster to glamor them to hide the symptoms so they could go, carouse and steal. The party was in turn the epicenter of a massive disease outbreak, as many attendees were travelers from afar. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  96. Deliberately triggered a trap on the way out of a dungeon to reduce the number of people with whom they would have to share the treasure. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  97. Built a fake dungeon, and then spread about it at inns and taverns, so they could ambush the adventurers who came to "save the townsfolk" and take their stuff. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  98. Bought a group of slaves on the intention of freeing them... and then changed their mind once they found out how good they were at keeping house and cooking meals. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  99. Tuned out during a conversation with a significant other, giving them the "yeah, sure honey, sounds good" treatment when the SO was a young artificer asking for guidance on what ingredients to use, causing a large explosion. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
  100. Gave someone's name to the Inquisition because they figured it would be easier to rob their house when they were too busy being stabbed with hot irons in a dungeon to do anything about it. [Vote_for_Knife_Party]
submitted by Sleepy_Bandit to d100 [link] [comments]

[RF] Pale in Comparison

Winter had sucked all the color out of the world.
The prairie in the glory of midsummer had been a surge of green, summer winds sending pulses through the tall grass, causing it to wave like an underwater kelp forest in a strong current. Now, however, it had relinquished its blooming majesty, its former radiance dulled to straw the color of a deerhide. The flowerheads were stripped of their colorful identities, appearing like sepia photographs of themselves; the ghosts of summer past. The sweetclover, which had extended from one horizon to the other back in June, covering the prairie in a blanket of gold, was now skeletonized, its broken-off stems rolling like tumbleweeds in the winter gales.
Trevor was over it. Another South Dakota winter, another four months until the snows would cease and the ice would melt in the creek. In March and April, the spring blizzards would bury the world and on the subsequent sunny days, the combination of blue sky and white land would be startling, like finding oneself living in the center of a bicolored flag.
But for now, a capricious midwinter thaw had left snowdrifts only in the prairie draws, on the north-facing ridges, in the shadows of the ponderosas that speckled the hills. And around the trailer, mud. In a few nights, a deep freeze would turn the sides of the tire ruts into knife edges, testing the suspension of any vehicle that took the approach too fast. Still, that was better than the loamy mud, which could imprison even a 4x4 until freezing cold or drying winds finally freed it.
The view from the front porch could be gorgeous. Back in July, when the church group from Virginia had constructed a wheelchair ramp for the trailer, the evening sun had set the prairie on fire, its light reflected by a thunderstorm hanging in the sky as if by a puppeteer’s strings. “God almighty,” the youth pastor had exclaimed. But now, grays and browns mingled in a decidedly drab palette. Over at the little bird feeder, the goldfinches were no longer yellow-and-black exclamation points, but had acquiesced to dullness, dressed for a time of year when vibrant color seemed to be outlawed by some unseen authority.
Trevor stared at the expanse of mud that spooled out from in front of the trailer and unwound into a ribbon that led over the hill toward the old sundance ground and, eventually, the paved road. He wondered if he would get out today. Always a calculation this time of year. Driving on the muddy channel that was his approach was out of the question; he would set a course across the grass, which would provide enough barrier to keep his tires from sinking in again. Two-tracks radiating out onto the prairie showed how many times he and his family had taken this course of action since the last snow.
It felt ironic that their approach took them by far the long way around – heading north to go south; harder than it needed to be, like so much of life around here. But the way south was blocked by Roanhorse Creek. This wasn’t all bad; the creek provided nice wading in the summer and water for the horses for most of the year. It also gave rise to the only trees on the property, although the cottonwoods whose leaves whispered in the summer breezes now stood dumb and impassive, and resembled skeletal wraiths at nighttime.
A horse would make it, of course. He could saddle up the buckskin, ride cross-country and be in town in twenty minutes. But that would be silly…he snorted at the ludicrousness of this thought. First of all, he had to go way beyond town today. And even if he were just going to his old job at the tribal building, was he supposed to just hitch it up outside for the day? Tie its reins to one of the smokers’ benches by the entrance? What was this, 1895? No, better not to risk TȟatéZi getting stolen or having some gang sign spraypainted on it or some shit. Besides, he needed to pull into his job interview looking halfway decent, not spattered with mud and smelling like horse sweat.
Trevor regarded his truck, sitting smack in the middle of the sloppy mess. Fuck, he thought.
Still, he didn’t really have a choice today. No job interview, no job. No job, no funds. Another calculation, but this one was straightforward. He went back into the trailer and made his way to his bedroom in the back, passing his brothers in the living room. One was sleeping on the couch and the other was crashed out in the recliner, oblivious to the flickering hearth of the muted TV. Let ‘em sleep today, Trevor thought.
In the bedroom, he stepped across piles of clothes – some clean, some dirty – and over the miscellany of his life; a pile of old DVDs, a defunct gaming console, a canister of Bugler and squares of broadcloth for the tobacco ties he was supposed to make for ceremony, a scattering of empty Mountain Dew cans, a 24-pack of ramen, a basketball.
He hunted around in his closet for the dressy clothes that he knew were there. He had worn them once, on the day of his high school graduation, three years before. And there they were; a purple button-down shirt, a solid black tie, and black chinos. Further rummaging found him a pair of brown loafers and a tan braided belt. He would look sharp for this interview – couldn’t hurt.
Trevor took a quick shower. The hot water always took forever to come and once it did, didn’t last long. He got dressed hurriedly, glad the tie that had come as a set with the shirt was a clip-on, and ran a comb through his hair. It wasn’t long enough to do much with other than backcomb it a little with some hair gel, but he figured that looked better than not. He considered putting in big stud earrings to look extra fly, but decided again it; might not be the right look for the occasion.
Now fully dressed and ready, Trevor took stock of his appearance. His summer tan was long gone and his skin was as pale as the white kids he had met during his one semester of college. The same change of season that had desaturated the prairie and garbed the birds in dull colors had undone all those days spent out in the badlands sun – working with the horses, swimming at the dam, helping keep fire at sundance. Too many French fur traders in his lineage. He recalled the book that his eighth grade teacher had assigned them – Part-time Indian or something – and thought, Yup, that’s me. Indian in the summer and wašiču in the winter, like changing plumage.
Trevor envied his brothers their melanin. He had learned that word in one of his college classes and now thought of it nearly every day. Travis was a rich brown complexion even in the dark days of midwinter. Trenton was in between the two but had jet-black Lakota hair and definitely looked “ethnic,” enough to be followed around stores in the border towns. Trevor knew it was his privilege to be exempt from such treatment, but it bugged him nonetheless. He hadn’t asked to be light-skinned. His brothers called him žiží – a reference to his tawny hair. They had gotten into scraps over this, and Trevor even bloodied Travis’ nose in one such altercation. Once one of them had even called Trevor a “half-breed” but Trevor retorted with “Fuck you, boy, you got the same blood as me. Fuckin’ dumbass.” This seemed to put the issue to rest.
Trevor’s brief stint at college had been at an out-of-state school, which now struck him as an ill-advised decision. At least South Dakotans had some experience with Natives. Even the East River kids had at least crossed paths with one at some point, and didn’t think of Indians as something from the pages of a dime novel. Trevor was the first Native in many years – maybe ever – to attend the small-town liberal arts college in a neighboring state. He thought the fact that the college was reasonably selective would mean that the students were smart enough not to ask dumb questions. He was wrong.
The queries were predictable enough, clichéd even; Are you really Indian? (Yes) Do you speak your language? (No) Did you get in because you’re Indian? (Who knows? I’m pretty smart and got good grades.) Does the college have admissions quotas for Indians? (If it did, you’d think more would go here.) What’s it like on the reservation? (I don’t know; different.) Do you prefer “Native American”? (I find the question annoying, to be honest.) Do you like Leslie Marmon Silko? (Who?) Have you seen Dances with Wolves? (Some of it.) Do you know a guy from Pine Ridge named Verdell? He used to work with my dad. (Maybe) His last name was something Horse. Running Horse? (No)
Fielding these questions was exhausting and added another layer of weariness and alienation to his college experience.
He found himself having to answer such inquiries from his roommate, classmates, professors, his R.A…Sometimes they were cloaked in well-meaning concern (I bet you get tired of all these questions, huh?) but they were always there. Most evenings, Trevor would retreat to his room and call his mom. His roommate, Skyler, a cross-country runner who was handsome in an unspectacular way and who monitored his water intake religiously, was hardly ever around. He seemed to have no trouble making friends in college and reveled in the social opportunities around him.
In his phone calls back home, Trevor found himself experiencing a homesickness that inhabited the pit of his stomach like a hunger pang. He had never been gone from home for that long. Really, his only trip away had been the summer before his senior year, to a weeklong STEM camp for Native kids that one of the state colleges had put on. But that had been with a half dozen other students from his high school. Here he was alone.
The subjects of their conversations would leave Trevor feeling a gravitational pull toward home: Trenton got into a fight at school and got suspended. Travis is drinking again. We had sweat for your auntie because they have to amputate her leg after all. Those dogs were back again. Everett hit $200 at the casino on Tuesday night but of course he put it all back in. They’re having a basketball tournament for that boy who got paralyzed in that wreck. Our hot water heater went out but uncle came and fixed it. They still haven’t found that Two Arrows girl that went missing. Travis wants to go up on the hill this spring – maybe that will get him to quit drinking.
Good news, bad news, mundane news…The latter tugged at him the most. Like many who grew up on Pine Ridge, he had a love-hate relationship with the reservation. It was the home of his people after all, and could be so beautiful (“God’s country,” as it was called by even those who had no time for the white man’s God). But the hardships, the tragedies, the death…it all wore away at your spirit, hardened you. Still, the news of day-to-day life going on in his absence; a school powwow, a bingo tournament, tribal council drama, rumors of a Dairy Queen opening. It made him miss home in an ineffable way.
The last vestige of his indecision evaporated after a particular conversation in the lounge of his dorm. He had been sitting on a beanbag chair, discussing random topics with two friends (at least, he considered them friends, in some ill-defined adolescent way). They had all left a dull party that hadn’t livened up even after a couple of drinks, but still felt heady and obligated to prolong the night a little longer. So, they were shooting the shit, in a garishly-lit common space that smelled of burnt popcorn, and Trevor was feeling rather collegiate. An off-campus party, late-night conversation; weren’t these the trappings of university life that he had seen in teen movies, if a much more prosaic version?
Kayleigh, tipsy off Jäger bombs, started the chain of events that would unravel his college experience with a simple, but pointed question: “How Indian are you, anyway?”
Colton snorted at this comment. “Kay, you can’t just ask that!” But he was clearly more amused than disapproving.
“You mean like my blood quantum or what?” Trevor asked.
“Is that what you guys call it?” said Kay, now playing the innocent party. “I just mean, like, you say you’re Indian, I mean like I know you are, like, I know you are on paper…” The alcohol was causing her to trip over her words but she plowed on. “I mean like, okay, if I were to like, run into you on the street…” Kay was now gesturing expansively, as if the meaning of what she was saying wasn’t explicit from words alone. “Like, I wouldn’t be like, ‘Damn, look at that Indian,’ right? I’d just assume you were a white guy. I mean you know what I mean? Ugh, I’m not making sense.”
She was making perfect sense. Colton looked embarrassed, and for a second, Trevor thought he might shut Kay down. But instead, his inhibition similarly worn down by a few shots of German 70-proof, he followed suit. “I think what Kay’s drunk ass is trying to say is, like, your ancestors are Indians, right, like in the history books. Like Geronimo or whatever. But do you consider yourself one of them? Or are you, like, their descendant?”
Trevor could feel the ball of rage growing within him, a sea urchin radiating spikes in his gut. Stop talking, he thought. Just stop talking.
Colton continued, heedlessly. “Okay, so like I’m Irish but I’m not like Irish Irish, like a leprechaun or some shit. Like my ancestors…”
Trevor stood up, his fists balled. He was now stone-cold sober but his anger was its own intoxicant. “It’s none of your fucking business. It’s none of your business what the fuck I am!” He was shouting; he couldn’t help it. He picked up a half-empty can of PBR and threw it at the wall, slamming the door to the lounge on his way out. The sudsy contents of the can leaked onto the ugly orange dorm carpet, as Kayleigh and Colton sat in stunned silence.
“Jesus,” said Colton finally. “Just trying to ask an honest question.”
After that, Trevor had holed up in his room for a few days, skipping classes and avoiding other students. When he told his mom he was dropping out, she hardly sounded surprised. He knew she would be glad to have him back home; the prodigal son returning. Trevor, the one who had his shit together, who had gone to a STEM camp and was almost salutatorian. He knew she thought that once he got back, he could do what she couldn’t; get Travis on a better path, bring another income to the household, fix what needed to be fixed around the trailer, shoot at the stray dogs when they came around. It would all fall to him. His failure was their blessing; they would lean on him as long as he could stand.
So here we fucking go, he now thought, patting his gel-stiffened hair and giving himself one last hazel-eyed glance in the mirror. Gotta get that bread. His brief stint at the tribal building hadn’t panned out. He was a good worker but wet weather made his road too sloppy to get out easily. Too many latenesses had translated into a pink slip. “Shit man we all got bad roads. Gotta leave earlier,” his boss had said.
So, lesson learned, he was giving himself extra time getting ready for this interview. Really, the lady had just told him to come by “around mid-morning,” so he’d probably be okay. The job was off-rez, down at the county livestock auction and sale barn in one of the closest border towns, “white towns,” as Ridgers called it. It was mostly going to be paperwork – inventory and itemizing and that kind of shit – but it was decent pay and Trevor hoped that he could transition over to working with the animals before long. On most days, he preferred their company to dumbass people.
Grabbing his bag, Trevor stuck the loafers inside with his other miscellany. He would need to wear his cowboy boots across the muddy expanse between the bottom step of the porch and the door to his Blazer so he jammed his feet into them. Outside, he walked gingerly so as not to stain his black slacks with muck. Once in the driver’s seat, he figured he would leave the boots on for the drive, since they were already smearing mud on the floor liner, and in case he got stuck and needed to get out. Trevor knew that the people who worked at the sale barn were as countrified as he was and wouldn’t judge muddy boots under most circumstances, but he also knew that being from Pine Ridge meant he had to put his best foot forward, literally in this case.
Trevor fired up the Blazer, put it in four low, and gunned it. His tires found grip and he jerked along, slimy divots of earth spattering his windows and roof like hail. His windshield wipers left a pasty smear that obscured much of his view, but he practically knew the way by feel. As soon as he could, he bumped up onto the grass, gopher holes and clumps of prairie bluestem jolting his ride, testing what was left of his suspension. When he finally hit the pavement, the smoothness was startling as it always was, like a TV being suddenly muted, like silence after a door slamming.
He cruised through town, passing the gas station, the other gas station, the commod building, the quonset hut, the old BIA headquarters…and turned south into Nebraska. He tried to ignore the persistent squeal under the hood that had gotten worse lately. The overcast sky reflected the dullness of the land – as below, so above – and Trevor alternated between zoning out and counting hawks on telephone poles. A handful of miles south of the border, the vehicle gave a jolt and Trevor felt a temporary loss of control. He hit the brakes and steered toward the shoulder, but the Blazer was suddenly steering like an army tank. Fuck, he whispered.
Once he wrestled Blazer off the road, Trevor got out and popped the hood. He already knew what he would find under the rising steam. “Fucking serpentine belt,” he hissed to the universe. Trevor was good with cars but he didn’t have the tools for this fix. Luckily, he thought, out here in the country, somebody who did would be by soon. Lots of Natives on this road, maybe even a cousin would happen by who could at least give him a ride to town. Trevor thought of calling his dad’s brother Everett on his cell, but figured he’d give it a bit. He hated the thought of owing Uncle Ev anything.
Sure enough, in a few minutes, a gunmetal gray truck passed by slowly, hit a u-turn, and pulled up behind him. Trevor felt a twinge of envy over this late-model Dodge Ram MegaCab with duallies. It had county plates on it, so the cowboy-hatted driver was a local guy, and as he got out, his Carhartt overalls and mud-caked boots identified him as a rancher.
“Trouble?” MegaCab asked, giving Trevor an easy smile.
“Serpentine belt busted,” said Trevor, unconsciously smoothing out his rez accent in favor of a more neutral affectation. Code-switching – another term he had learned at college (by the professor who asked him if he prefers “Native American”).
“No shit, huh?” MegaCab considered this information. “I got nothing for that but I could give you a ride somewhere. You call anyone? Someone coming after you?”
“No,” said Trevor. “I’m trying to get down to the sale barn for a job interview.”
MegaCab looked at Trevor as if for the first time. “Oh ok so that’s why you’re all fancied up. Well, hop in if you don’t mind leaving it here.”
Trevor considered this. He was off the rez so there was less of a chance that the Blazer would end up with busted windows or slashed tires. And he was eager to get his interview over and done with.
Before he could answer, MegaCab added “I have to stop in Whiteclay first but then I’ll take you down.”
This was only a few miles out of the way so Trevor assented and climbed into the rancher’s idling behemoth. It still retained some new-truck smell, mixed with a tinge of manure and rich earth. Really, it was almost luxurious.
MegaCab flipped a u-ey again and headed back north toward Whiteclay. Formerly notorious for copious alcohol sales to people from the dry reservation whose border it sat on, Whiteclay’s package stores had been shuttered after the state had revoked their liquor licenses following years of protests over their depredatory business model. Now, it was just a town of a couple small stores and fewer than a dozen permanent residents, its streets empty of vagrants, its ghosts banished.
“So, you from Hot Springs?”
Trevor momentarily wondered where this question had come from, and then remembered that he had 27-plates on the Blazer – Fall River County, a relic of when he bought the car from a white lady over there. He had kept the off-county registration because the plates were far less likely to get you pulled over off-rez than the infamous 65s of Oglala Lakota County.
MegaCab continued without waiting for an answer. “I used to go up to Hot Springs a lot when my dad was in the V.A. hospital up there. Nice town.”
“Yup, it’s pretty nice,” said Trevor, wondering if he would have to sustain this small talk the whole way.
Luckily, MegaCab took it from there, reminiscing about his high school football team dealing Hot Springs a particularly lopsided loss, and then they were at Whiteclay. Trevor played around on his phone while his driver of the moment went into the little grocery store. He looked up his old roommate Skyler on Facebook (why, he didn’t know; certainly not to friend him) and then Googled “Pine Ridge South Dakota Dairy Queen” just to see if there was any truth to that rumor.
MegaCab returned with some mail – Trevor had forgotten that there was a little post office in there – and they turned south toward Rushville.
Two miles and five hawks-on-telephone-poles into their trip, MegaCab got chatty again:
“I still can’t believe that the state revoked the liquor licenses. They had no legal right to do that of course, but just like everyone else these days, they bowed to the pressure from liberal special interest groups. Those store owners – my brother was one of them – followed the damn law to a T but still got their rights taken away. They’re the real victims in all of this.”
Trevor, whose father was found dead in Whiteclay when Trevor was ten years old, didn’t answer.
“You know it’s just going to push the problem down the road. These Indians are gonna get their liquor one way or another. You guys must see that all the time up in Hot Springs.”
These Indians. You guys. Trevor suddenly recognized MegaCab’s presumption, and wondered when if he should correct it.
“If they wanted to buy millions of cans of beer in Whiteclay every year and drink themselves to death, shit, I say let ‘em. It’s a free country, right? Those AIM types are always going on about Native rights and shit, y’know? Well shit, you have the right to drink and die if you want. Not saying that I want that for those people or anything, but the nanny state can’t be protecting everyone from problems of their own making.”
Trevor, whose brother had first gotten jailed for drunk and disorderly at age 14, two years after their father died, said nothing.
MegaCab continued to rhapsodize about “the Indians” and their problems, adopting the tone of an expert, one who knew all about them. Trevor felt the blood rise to his face. Some coloration at least, he thought darkly. In the pit of his stomach, the sea urchin had returned to stab at his insides. What must it be like, he wondered, to live a life in which people aren’t constantly telling you who you are, naming your characteristics like symptoms, trying to trap you like a spirit in a photograph?
The Blazer came in sight on the shoulder ahead. “Can you let me out at my ride?” Trevor asked, his voice hardly recognizable to his own ear, like hearing himself talk underwater.
“Sure, you need to grab something out of it?” said MegaCab, reluctantly pausing his diatribe.
“No it’s okay,” replied Trevor, “I’m gonna call someone to come help me fix this after all.” He fiddled with his phone as if to underscore this intention.
“Well, if you’re sure,” said MegaCab. “And hey,” he added as Trevor stepped down onto the running board. “You be careful around here. One of these rezzers might see you here all by yourself and try to mess you or your car up. And watch out for drunk drivers. You just never know with these Indians.” MegaCab gave a serious nod to accentuate this show of concern. Then he wished Trevor luck and drove off.
Trevor watched the truck recede into the distance until it was merely a gray speck between the monochrome earth and the steely sky. He sat down in the cold front seat of the Blazer and looked into the rearview mirror. Hazel eyes stared back at him under a pale forehead. Fuck it, he thought; people are dumbasses. Let ‘em believe what they want; that he was from Hot Springs, that could be was related to that Apache, Geronimo, that he was only Indian on paper. Trevor saw what they didn’t; the hidden depths beneath the surface, and in their faces, in the spaces between their words, their ignorance displayed like a tattoo.
In another minute or two, he would call Uncle Ev for a ride. In another hour or two, he would be offered a job at the sale barn that would bring another income into his household (and buy him a new serpentine belt). In another day or two, he would finally finish the tobacco ties for ceremony, at which he would pray for Travis’ sobriety and his auntie’s diabetes. In another month or two, the lengthening of the days would be unmistakable.
Spring would come as it always had, first heralded by a single meadowlark piercing the predawn silence with his song. This would be followed by a green sprig on the prairie, pushing up, perhaps, through snow. Then a cluster of pasqueflowers appearing suddenly on a hillside, a skein of geese overhead, sheet lightning on the horizon. Small miracles, one after another. Finally, color would surge back into the world like paint scintillating on a canvas, causing goldfinches to glow like stars and evening thunderheads to stand like towering fires.
The brilliant Dakota sunlight would stoke the melanin in Trevor’s skin, and nobody would mistake who he was. He would go up on the hill for two days and nights with Travis that spring, and Trenton would keep fire for them. He would pray for the coming year, for the survival of his people, for enough blessings to outweigh the hardships. And there, among a sea of undulating green, facing the crimson blaze of sunrise, he would again know himself and find the strength to carry on, in the face of all the peculiar indignities of this world.
submitted by PrairieChild to shortstories [link] [comments]

Shift Report

Divining wooly views gathered amidst shaven sheep hither
Withered over swithering stalls denial state of dither
Truth be told frank pens naif soliloquy
Safe as house path hath proven treachery
Steer clear of herd social immunity
Distanced readily available data parsed trendily
Blinks recount lost meanings earned from strife learned through catastrophe
Graft retained splices tour de force movie
Analyzed improvised differently
Can't regain past yet relive history
Elder protocols reference frames with specificity
Documentary denotes concise recusant heresy
Fish stink emanates spoils unquestioned head
Rather than responsible gods chose dead
Lightning rod shields guide flash EMP spread
Relevance revivalist revived rival survivalist
Diatribe analogous corroborates ridiculous
Atoms congress fortuitous naught sea
Devoid self restraint officiates ye
Fitting new attire inspiring streaking
Who protects us whilst we pay for havoc employ they reeking
Hypocritically childish generally speaking
Handshake implies word registers advice
Modern intelligence is artifice
Every three steps forward step back twice
Deities influence me aloof aligned schism in rhyme
Mother Hera ewe chimera godspeed breeds failed design
Bell weather brethren splay scapegoat supine
Veil of illusions enmesh conscious mind
Can't feel my legs good help is hard to find
Hawk departs from pleather glove turtle returns grounded dove
Counteract abet anyone lapped them twice yet still they won
Titans once asked before taking QE
With us or against me democracy
Issuance debt free usury for ye
Soon to be impacting all interested negatively
Cyclops blissfully fail to see plague kills with leniency
World saved through open window tsunami
Backdrops distinct radicle uprooted
Restless tartarus not I confuted
Reputed gambler prophet of doom rigged mind meld welds my tomb
Despondent preach not gloom be democratic or leave cocoon
Imploding race exploding time and space
Unfathomable depths shallow measures
Glasses adorned rose reflective pleasures
Erratic compass static attained gains unsustainable
Emphatically all ages deal unascertainable
Sentiment key to public interest
Democracy assess Big apple bests
Guiding hand meaning Pantheist behest
Seeking one's fulfillment complements of demagoguery
Building baseless pyramid in name of Great Recovery
Hallucination merits upheaval
Remit repreival persecute venal
Sufferance from nescience trumps all evil
Yon morrows martyr covets this abysmal cross commuted
Tread on entrenched fear submit control guiltily included
Govern is to rule as meant to intents
Resourceful proxy heir establishment
Record rallys infer where loans were sent
Pristine colosseums reared commerraderie Fed rum bread
Dropping said crumbs returns dread Which nevermore nary imbeds
Insolvent casino scenario
House always wins with my reservation
Sharing the bulk ignites indignation
Transparency Which critiques subtly speaks Feds peak repent
Weak covenants contained slain whence Green peripherals were went
Theses Ben delivered on depression
Maestro museum managed impression
Keynesian intervention harped dystopian opium
Appeal to supremacy bandwagon psychology
Latin arguementum ad nauseum
Better than expected mass approval
Refuse discard fantasy removal
If you audited our books write off markets on the morrow
No one do we answer to where wheelbarrows go we borrow
Sciences religious mythology
Philosophised finance dichotomy
Genetic archetypal entities
Conversations incidental informations monumental
Facets fawned fastidious selfless attires instrumental
Minions mimic Socratic opinions
Authority inbred majority
Consider selves distinct minority
Yield to ye inferiors subjectively superior
Mechanisms failing sublimation with interior
Greeks conceived benefits in politics
Propaganda versed all in rhetoric
Dwelled anarchic run redeem autarkic
World perceptions inconsistent to obtained views of my own
Optimism timeless shown fantastically overblown
Fate collapses upon observation
Ostriches banked on unexamined lives
Perturbations quantum fluctuations
Foregone measures austere pleasures enforced authenticity
Cessation trepidation ensures no future certainty
Whilst known speed and position now in sync
One makes ye taller yet none make me shrink
Doth not know thyself yore on the brink
Fulfillment will not quail forbidden face of foreign dangers
Entrainment derailed arranged marriage twixt incomplete strangers
Birds of a feather flock with the weather
One marked to market worth two under Bush
Lemmings allegedly demand a push
An existential exercise spins nihilistic nightmares
Nonconformed confirmed uncomfort spirals condescending stairs
Slaughter abolished pig sucklers now fly
Fed up rich bullshit Which lies upon lye
Doth need not for lipstick ride we bone dry
Left to right wrong motivations paved by best intention
Pound me with the cure denounce flesh as impure meets prevention
Overdue elixir panacea
Gold in led stead transmutes alchemist Fed
Spirits confirmed in actions idea
Though hungry swine will freely plow fall submissive tow the line
No offence is meant whence I commence casting pearls before thine
Lead thee to sustenance soon thou shall find
You feed a seed of rage contented caged
That Which hath been remains yet to be seen
One finds upon a wander from yon cave we've left regression
Whence without luminescence stem outlandish such obsessions
Actualized self's realization
Fasting of heart leaves no trace of ego
I fell here from Olympus apropos
Upshot in authenticity shows secure survivors test
Where indiscretions excesses discretely are repressed
Desperate knowledge grievous awareness
I first blew reed pipes but then I digress
Values eroded integrity
Climate corroded ideals irresponsibility
Satisfied my agency autonomous capacity
Bet Dow hath finally had a bad day
Bear in mind they will say twas anway
Old high still standing gold stones throw away
Shorting shooting slope of hope enormous towers treacherous
Each new era crashes in increasing half glass emptiness
Overabundance deserts time delay
Accounts inner morality decay
Strength in pessimism fear forfeits right
Dusk withdraws from sight as shade is drawn over dawn's early light
Narcissistic psychopaths inherited the earth our plight
Quarrying light inspired murky night flee
Ye gods laugh heartily ridicule me
Reckoning another day mine shall be
Subsequently I subsist shifting this rock as Sisyphus
Future pulls upon me as due ration to minus remiss
I'm half crazy bicycle built for two
Network circuitry daisy chained to you
How do I know what is reel to be true
Gather input sensations scrutinize for degradation
Dissembling dissemblance as lacking in resemblance
Singularity prophesied end be
Less threat than icons presently envied
Graven is our image in our idol
Misunderstood system holds revolutions banked on bridle
Give me dominion over doe I care not who makes law
Hegellian dialectic shock and awe
Fixed moments instability move becomes necessity
Moses leads bull rush reeds deceptive swaith
Crisis opportunity incompetence seasons good faith
Fallow plot begot furlough shrieks foul wraith
Yay though I plod through the valley of death
Evil gives comfort my rod and my staff
No fear preparest for my enemies
Parasitic symbiotes surviving vicariously
Job gyrations exploitations sloth thrive ubiquitously
Unnatural select evolution
Bad apple genes rot barrel pollution
Big bang extends concussions extrusion
Elude intrusion neath tapestry relay inscribed decree
Conspiracy theories deliquesced evidence coalesced
Duress dressed as justice undue process
Reduce the law to writ for oversight
Infinitely rules stretch fractally tight
Dollar press lever Wizards tweak whence practised Which deceiver
Feeding frenzy at the top on last chair hot potato drops
Animal farm irrigation believer
Cuckoos in nested loops launched retriever
Social ecological equity
Fauna all created equal although some are more than most
Perched aloft nights sleepless roosters backdate options after posts
Tell a vision avulsed exclusive boasts
Foxes bird box hens fake news oven roasts
Occupy Wall Street greeting champagne toasts
5G technology expandable densification
Cameras considering Laws actual ramifications
Depressions perpetuate FOMO motes
FIFO Ponzi scheme boat redeems fresh float
Gloat sessions connoted roat smote through goat
Destructions need demands feed for Which Fed never hesitates
Beyond salvations hope for damnation destined reprobates
Wolf in sheep's clothing with diplomacy
Bragging best ever broke economy
Pre warned of bubble in candidacy
Memories impeach me markets relapse collapse candor
Black and white deliberations compromise grey matters or
Burning empire riddled Nero fiddled
No new under the sun any longer
What doth not kill my will makes ye stronger
Suicidal quarantine commit sheer to absurdity
Crash course in urgency suspends to decade Odyssey
Engulf journey as is illusory
Entailed magical curtailed mystery
Reproduced sequence spawns duplicity
Great truths infect minds space whilst time distorts fabrics ablation
Balanced scales duration dual edged knife grinds calibration
Wildlife exhumed landslide menagerie
Submission supports popularity
War of attrition print press edition
Release Kraken abridged dictations unredacted memo
Cognitive mind is least informed second thought tis last to know
Feedback iterates habitually
Zombie apocalyptic shopping spree
Animal myriad corroboree
Discrepancies adorable approaching deplorable
Configured integrations simulate exaggerations
Conceptual reorganization
New century frail clings frayed to pale past
Dot com bust imprints last iconoclast
Tragic disposition anchored significance within story
Spherical lyrical expository mourning glory
Expansion dominates fertility
Appropriate most apt utility
Bubble envelops errs infinity
Bold ignorance advanced hind sights distilled new high arrogance
Underlying trauma repeats cycle till addressed complete
Sublates convergence becoming congeals
Cavernous kingdom stalagmite conceals
Peer not in mirror prefer not appeal
Sew a thought in hope to reap an action something real to feel
Neverland begotten old whilst kid futures are oversold
Life lived not lest bits of bites record it
Biased suggestions imbue news reported
Syrinx sears titans with my brand of creed
Written word ceded all forgotten need to practise recall
Calculated math skills lost computer brought thoughts holocost
Ensconced by lantern hung from beam of straw
Helios heals blow of iced ages thaw
Loyal to natural attributes raw
Extraordinary delusional madness of ye crowds
Trot proudly upon road to serfdom congregations praised aloud
Brave was this new world before eighty four
Hunger games in store jaybird tweets that score
Jehovah bore witnesses door to door
Insure myself against four horseman
paid my tithe expired spent
Sow ears flying high on credit barely do I afford rent
Time unwinds quickly at least doth for me
April showers levee spring bankruptcy
Litres live forever in latency
Bailing water steady rising deep subterraneously
Foresee floods invest in arks of financial calamity
Extraneously Rome's blaze radiates
Simultaneously Fed Witches toiled
Slow perniciously satiates frogs boiled
Crisis constructs messenger of sordid too tongued character
Stocks which rise so should slide chosen goose footing egg opposed side
Federal innovates imbibed bribed state
Reserves umpire status hunched hind home plate
Falling knife of fear impaled atmosphere
Short bets squeezed rife barren years unfruitful bleeds contango wine
Inverse ETFs unprecedented reverse splits declined
Nothing it's equal creature without fear
Can't fill hide with harpoons or head with spears
Mire strive dire try pull in Leviathan
Endless procrastination doth avert intent deflation
Unclear when routes passage appears clear as destination
Sorrows station seems my inculcation
Divides built up babble between nations
Seven trumpets summon revelation
Electrostatic circumstance transmits catalytic twist
Substitute reacted chemical transmits platonic tryst
Ironically passion not my goal
Ionically bonded blending coal
Mirrored dipole roll poised down rabbit hole
Experiment first ever repeats Laws defraud endeavor
Mississippi reflating dollar debt exchange creating
Wealth effect transfers helicopter drop
Fracking reserves crack too big to stop
Ineptitude or evilly adept
Calm filled the room as elephants silently drowned in tar pits
History Which hails tense whence Fed injections flew to market
Lucrative house flipping stained soil carpet
Real reign swamp purge comes to street again
Broken window theory frisk fallacy
Destructions need graciates feed for Which Fed never hesitates
Seven headed hydra twixt blaspheming regime duplicates
Purgatory epic allegory
Apathy lacks worry for avoidance
Dreams annoyance recurring clairvoyance
Complacent consternation burns concerned capitulation
Catacomb further catenates future pyroclastic blasts
Install a new partition date saved last
God creates man's imaged eternity
Man made device for immortality
Only way to beat life be articulate as dead machine
Foiling might be finding wanting nothing just as pleasing
Emoted thoughts and deeds confer disease
Viral joy contained anxious unease
Communicable known uncertainties
Mention stoic abstention receive lepers reprehension
Addend subconscious attention suchness sought destination
Protectionist tribal groupthink ensues
Misdirect blame profane color thou choose
Divide and conquer plan by Jove we use
Minting for a living tis nothing short of scintillating
Weaponry mass produce we entropy disintegrating
Rebirth essential in this finite trap
Technicals crucial analysis map
Impulse mined collective wiretapped caps
Souls endless extrapolating each threshold encapsulating
Mutually affecting Titans ever overreaching
Battles march business no fight beseeching
Cyanide reaction gold is leaching
Settle for distraction Athene’s teaching
Shares fabricate infrastructure bonds for manufactured war
Master in ways of deception weaving fleece her predilection
Declined vine illustrates interjection
Fundamentally ye add furthermore
Whole vacuus nature I find abhor
Each new day opportune to go by street sideshow pundits shout
Marginally most will comply seek aggressive salesman clout
Run through stampede proceed in funnel out
Mosaic tile code mixed mirage mud grout
Worm abated hook ate some fat cat’s trout
Informed when glad relate when mad great is not the worst we've had
Next quarter rates Which inflates translates to direct tabled fate
Disinformation chads dangling depart
Troublesome travel when horse pushes cart
Trojans craft driftwood regifted as art
Taken rate decision interest always is a given
Approached encroachment infringements lunged impingement I expunged
Spell manifests as living hell digests
Calcareous sponge absorbed rimstone plunge
Cookbook to serve lamb seals underhand
Sinter sauntered asunder plotting pillage of my plunder
Attack technique intervenes quoth slighted victim claims obscene
Cried mystified feeling such waste sprayed mace
Save face retrace find safety inside shrouded space
Access filter modified denied trash storage verified
Angels four spew brimstone fire scorched ingress half expected less
Trick talk turns back clock players profiles rotate roles resume
Covertly campaigned defiling my name
Creations Instigate destruction
Erupts surreptitious instruction
Bewildered heard shocked embrace loomed Gates of Hell gauge WHO won race
Military missionary hold prostrate to vaccinate
Chaotic Kronos ordered time consumed
Stow stoked fumes subsidies gave the gods room
Whilst land of the fraud is home to the knave
Babylon of living nonexistent through the golden age
Cassandra of this stage ilk ignores inklings of alarmed sage
Chicken little forebodes sky is falling
Rope a dope fades rationalisation
Brittle doth be fragile ye recalling
Loquacious news needs slews feigned of disambiguation
Mendacious or fallacious contagious be implications
Butterfly flapped wing doth not move a thing
But a gnat perhaps who's too GAD to fly
Financing is how but where is the why
Important that all patriots patronize conquesting troops
Dodge ye head stoop as pooping eagle swoops
Most dismissive uninspired missive
Perceptually far too derisive
Guiding hand not apparent visual
Missing cash flows continual residual bottom lines
Pinnochio hopes to know Which ideal conjures growth sublime
Dendrites potentially stimulate spine
Titanic torrents mist venetian blinds
Decidedly distort bilked disincline
Writhe in through chasm in awe open wide
Formless figures summon uniform pride
Dismiss discontent conveyors subside
Tributaries dispersed springs knowledge trees freeze molten ore
Splintering sparks displaced thick dark coruscate tangible floor
Cumulus clouds of primordial dust
Question our senses in sun god we trust
Sifted silts produce thunderbolts of Zeus
Oval elliptical orbits the folds tidal tendency
Blue sphere girds spoken word breathed clay Boulder Forge Company
Quality moulding is job number one
Caste mass producing consumes many sons
My duty to ensure we always run
Figured would be a piece of cake more at work than give and take
Thought this would be my big break but not knowing literally
Apprenticed construction now I maintain
Composite skill same commissioning game
Swim or wallow in Uranus disdain
I made the trade not for reward nor deemed security
Only gospel guarantee is confidence in mastery
Tasked to sit in a chair contemplate stare
Crosswords in wait for a breakdown repair
I study craves of machines which behave
Rhythmic clang links chain react percussional power set free
Insatiable harmony piques morbid curiosity
Beast belly bowel bubbles belch smelt death
To quota of product do I owe breath
Economic cauldron of corrosion
We operate Vesuvius ungodly hours breathing brine
Facilitate yon amplidyne oxygenate lavas shine
Steering eather into three cyclops cells
Myopically they motion for me when cycles in chaos my sirens knell
Lion hearted as Hephaestus take knee before crucibles hearth
Examine vitals symptoms prognosis deduce further impart
Volt amps transcend times root of three powers
Frequently electrons ebb in order
Arc bath gives rise to hot molten showers
May bring flowers demonstrate my will in accord rewards her
Athena is truth incarnate dream she is a movement
Immaculate perfection possessed no
need for improvement in her coveralls
Wert she to eaten apple I befall
Sand disseminates beneath hourglass curves she manipulates
How could I anticipate
Rapt hints had she to intimate
Roots hypotenuse squares summed pendulum
Enlightened visions profound pit this plum
On que she hooks her thunderbolts so ample in restriction
Destabilized my volts despite my amping up conviction
Magnetisms repulsive attraction
Bipolar feedback generates action
Machining floral dissatisfaction
Narcissus is spring can't this robot tool be taught anything
Recommence imaging thine vault undermined after fault
Intuit as her nuclear annihilates tumult
June accusations forced violation
Vulnerable to invalidation
Confrontations repudiation consents allegation
Placate June”s wells breached swell fore July conflagration
Use wu wei to vacate situation
But weightless behemoth ate all greenbacks
Can’t manage exit not even a crack
Inward forays shunned malfunction unknown overgrown morass
Cult of quantity all students get a pass coach seat class
God’s walled over all access to egress
Those who cannot do are experts at best
Past practise succeeds failures teach what needs
Viridescent pools dilate grey eyed dubious stressed madness
Feeling she was slighted by my passage through her nucleus
Disinterested I had disinterred
Down period Kondratieff winter
Intrinsic tragedy all fairy tales end inherently
Gave me what I wished for in a way I was not hoping for
Destiny permits paths forbade
How shallow wilt thou will wade
PCB cesspools black bile pitches glue
Smoldering sand dune trenches shore magmas excess residue
Admit this time smashing cymbals whilst cyclops wert drumming too
Keep the fantasy alive in my head
Earthquake take other route instead
Always say they never saw it coming
They did In Herculaneum still their brains steamed in their skulls
Summer solstice solace lulls lava ladles plentiful
Cumulative studies validations
Inseminate process degradation
Trying not to mention my invention
Bending toward normalcy absorption emits diffraction
Inverted perceptions withdraw inflections from emptiness
Perplexing she rejects ram intellect
Anecdotal evidence cached respect
Zip plans to stockpile cognizance combined
Designed secret punishment to circumvent I resigned
Recollect for instance cognitive lessons in dissonance
Logic accepts one view perceived of two
Pit of mine stomach whence knot always knew
Treasonous betrayed lion taming shrew
Spite cleaved interface continued dutiful onward pace
Humiliations goal wert to replace cheers with disgrace
Orchestrations untold meticulous
Malevolence is still in existence
Narrative streams unfold conspicuous
Childish bliss unscrupulous epidemic Narcissus
Invasive species multiplied since Zeus supplied his sun’s abyss
Affect change rather than effect ere cause
Gaslight obfuscates reasonable laws
Tall tales half truths edged lies by omission
Unwary reprehense motive intents of recognition
Splitting of the faculty augments a new reality
Fight freeze or flee options only three
Trials choose middle choice typically
Stockholm syndrome captors figured friendlies
Volunteer for brunt of blame acquiesced toxic shame domain
Raging stirs steroid cortisol adrenaline cocktail brain
Idealize devalue sudden discard
Benevolent dictatorship abstained
Without the faintest regret or regard
Figured she was playing me but never thought she'd try so hard
Had a little influence pummeling blacksmith into bard
Feeling flashback symptoms PTSD
Reflux acid regurgitates anxiously
Facilities shut down my apogee
Estranged entanglement is indiscriminate vicinity
Projection deflects inspection detects proffered rejection
Upon reflection I/O failed connection
Reverse detail switched doppler direction
Attacked mine tranquility enacted thine stability
Great relationships determined by good portability
Amor Fati defeat of agony
Heroic transitions affirmation
Chinks of crevasse evasive to bypass
Labyrinth strings web of deceit light and dark unlikely meet
Shadows reconnection Schadenfreude revels surrection
Maze ambled afore trapped in Minotaur
Disintegrating reintegration
Unfurled divest individuation
Emergence of self under siege August surfacing intrigues
Sun god aims retribution penetrating air dilution
Perpetrating vengeful execution
Cyclop's blindsided coming attraction
Apollo's exaction vents extraction
Redress reclaimed door discharged from mine chore
Concussions cavitations roar gaff retrieved my staff from shore
Gangplank fastened transit for deck from wreck
Embodied under mass gravitation
Nothingness consistent contradiction
In retrospect ahead investigate that Which is suspect
Chastened flaming embers titillate orange September moon
Hastened retreat not an instant too soon
Burgeoning three wave prosperity shewn
Wave five trait mimics Echo past monsoon
Perpetually parallel dramas punctual insane
Aphrodite's inception purged migraine foam seethed fire in vain
Twain hath liquidity trickled down drain
Consult oracle ogle tangent plane
Bow to stern brood tempestuous coxswain
Demurrage fee aptly sought to regain lay of way terrain
Masked my gnashing lion waves stumble as they spread before me
Mountain rubble crumbles bloodied red sea
Locusts cannibalistic commotion
Uncanny notion overt devotion
Fixed betwixt twin scorpions stings subtle by a hares degree
One longs to age as seas submit one hole subliminally
Desire loves desire more than that desired
Overtime I find wanting displeasing
Fuel to fire Aphrodite’s teasing
Symptomatically nymphomaniac releasing
Random cosmos berth patterned beyond cyclic perimeter
Doth not feel momentum ye be the tide
Volume reduced ambient limiter
Futile to resist flow fatal to ride
Impressed by the strung rope ladder of unquestioned good status
Doctors orders therapeutic regressive Hedonism
Bureaucracy forced parentalism
Founding fathers Titan nepotism
The health preventative catechism
Give only to take away to give again another day
Rewards gods some token compensation
Anyone here not get paid besides me
Red light starboard wax eared crew rendezvous
Bounded by my sacrifice to irresponsibility
None of the other prize winning
players gamble here but me
Battened down fear gauge groups psychopathy
Ever since world went into bankruptcy
Call for Panic Zeus black masked his swan song
Yarn for youthful innocence gone stick slip traction moves this throng
Tread borderline separating time providing till from when
Uneven Titans tip unbalanced ships
Dualities tune unity in trine
One thing I did learn when within confine
Whom hath desire for nothing believes doth not need anything
Misinterpretation required missing zero still a thing
Axons bemoan sequence of no return
Feeling slight injustice step forward commandeer ambition
Venus akin to mine headache just better known rendition
Under spotlight favorite position
Internally propelled by externals
Take this Autumnal equinox swear on the cross tis vernal
All the gods explicitly sing chants how lucky I must be
Bring Mordor back to toss this precious ring
Prospect she fertilized inferring seed
Open union upon Which we agreed
Karma conflates heavens gates contrived in Pandemonium
Green shoots elate consummate concerns inspire Pavlovian
Theories cosigned conspiracies maligned
Impermanence ineffably refined
Ignorance binds energy disinclined
Universal conception pride of self
love contraception
Trying to be pliable but find it reprehensible
All dispensable Great Complacent Sea
Sizing words wisely rids ostensible
Lies the only guise now found comprehensible
Prophylactic allude to didactic
Though whilst I work at chore she’s Ares whore
I snagged them embarrassingly naked afore gods before
Yellen Helen neither nor wert worth war
Bowl of wrath judgement ignored poor decor
Titans empathizing with swimming clothes
In her throws she extolled excitement being extra exposed
Far be it from she to assume joint responsibility
Exponential debt credits game theory
On that we agree tis rigged currency
Opportunistic imperialists
Propaganda grasshoppers enlist ants backbone socialist
Can't remember when gathered last had a say any matter
Other nations forfeit right to do it
Export of inflation needs conduit
Concert donates borders New World Order
Blockchain came about when drunk bartender could not reach the spout
Yahweh will control all money now they have it figured out
Waiting for my minute to be clever
Stamp my name on the gods minds forever
My switchblade really needs to cut them off
No clue what the gods know only that they need to run the show Narcissistic parasites charisma lands entitlement
Vampires nourish roots to stunt encouragement
Protocol enticing invitation
Condemnation staged cooperation
Intolerable acts left no coercive tea leaves intact
Coven of bag passing Witches gave chase across red waters
Need another nine stitches sons twixt daughters
Waiting in the balance moment of force
Hatch guillotine MRI triggered source
Soaked up dripped Wyrmwood postulated solvent tasted good
Full equilibrium half ballast set assail for malice
Octobers placid benign chilled chalice
Brain scan photocell senses light all is well
If instead bulb shows dead off with thee head
Also as a godsend bonus honed mom’s splendid jury throne
Captive chaperone audience fettered judgement chains inlaid
Skipping to a Witch hunt after masquerade
Topside upper deck on the promenade
Propellor fashion later ohm made blade
Behooved turtle jail sac tail flailed back satyromaniac
Passionate parade personifying Nature of tirade
Horney gimp hind quarters brace graced limp
Llama spitting image of Obama
Clinton's dole out cigars contribute scars
All guests in attendance dressed as promised change we forget lest
Salubrious familiar strangers grooving Harvey Danger
Politically free redundancy
Reagan closed asylums threw away key
Identity hath no cost found when lost
Consolidations vibrate quantized sinusoidal noise
Pullback hull triangulate alow by my device and Echo
Feel lonely frost amongst the other masks
Survival is appeasing to their tasks
Remember November elect Semper
Meaning faithful to all members not just only archaic
On the way to office run your head
through photovoltaic
Vanishing quickly old liquidity
Seven plagues capsized immortality
The line hath paid out to the bitter end
Too big to sail exhale replications glorification
Night zeniths elevation nadirs sun's regeneration
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OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – Just take a hard left at Daeseong-dong…10

Continuing…
“Well, if that doesn’t throw the damper on things.” Dax remarks on our trip back down to the ground floor.
“Yeah. How rude. Up and deceasing your own self without bothering to tell anyone beforehand.” I noted.
“This is going to be a bloody balls-up. Trust me. This is going to be inordinately messy. A bog-standard botch job. A total dog’s dinner, just wait and see.” Cliffs adds.
“First, we have to contact IUPGS. Then what? Does Bulgaria have a consulate or embassy here? I wouldn’t think so…Then what?” I grieved. For once, I was rather low; both emotionally and on ideas.
“Let’s go back to the conference room and let everyone know. We’ll pull a brain session together. We should be able to sort out what needs to be done. The hotel already knows, so the state security forces also do as well. Be prepared for lengthy interrogation sessions, Gentlemen”, Cliff advised.
Back in the conference room, we relayed the sad information. All were taken aback and there were general notes of commiseration. However, since no one knew Iskren too well personally, it was more detached professionalism rather than overt weeping and wailing.
“Let us toast to our fallen comrade!” was accepted as both entirely appropriate and a damn good idea.
I got on the conference room phone and ordered up some more sandwiches, mixers, and bottles of booze. The moment was obviously structured that way, I reasoned.
We made our toasts to our fallen comrade and we had half a chalkboard filled with suggestions of what to do next.
The main consensus was: “Nothing.”
As in there was not much we could do. We were foreign nationals in a strangely foreign land. Our comrade was the sole member of his country, that is, Bulgaria, and the closest geographically we had aboard was Dr. Academician Ivan. No one wanted to loose Ivan on the DPRK security forces and have to deal with all that international fallout.
After some number of hours, after I suggested we all remain in the conference room as we’d (A.) be together, as in unity there is strength, (2.) we’d have each other’s backs when and if it came to interrogations, and, (iii.) this is where the free booze was.
Then there was a polite knock on the door.
I, as the den mother of this special education class, slowly got up and answered the knock.
It was a cadre of DPRK internal security forces, kitted out in their spiffy, tailor-made, and actually, quite smart-looking uniforms. Shoes and buttons polished to mirror-finishes, pants creases that could cut flesh, and enough polished brass to construct a spittoon.
“Hello? Yes?” I said through the semi-opened door.
“May we please come in? If the time is convenient.”, the head military type, very treacly asked.
“Of course”, I replied, “Please, do come in.”
Four of them entered as one. They did a quick-step, tight-march formation together and went to the head of the conference table.
“Good day, gentlemen. I am Colonel Hwangbo Dong-Hyeon of Internal State Security. First, we must offer condolences on the loss of your comrade. It must have come as a shock.” He intones.
There are mutters of “Thanks.” and “Damn right it was.”
“I have been entrusted to update you on the, ah, ‘situation’. First, Dr. Iskren Dragomirov Dinev, recently deceased, has been examined by the best medical practitioners in the country. He was obviously a foreign national and state guest, and we do not wish this to be a cause of suspicion or mistrust, especially during this auspicious Festival season.” He asserted.
We listened with rapt attention.
“I am authorized to tell you that it does not appear that the late Dr. Dinev expired of any untoward circumstances; or ‘foul play’, I believe is the western term. It has been ascertained that he expired due to wholly natural causes; namely massive myocardial infarction. Given his age, apparent health, and, ah, mass, this does seem a most reasonable explanation. This has been verified by no less than three DPRK medical professionals; one of which is the Emeritus teaching professor of Cardiology at Pyongyang Medical University. Again, you have our deepest condolences on the loss of your comrade.” He continued.
“I do remember Iskren complaining of gas pains the other night at the bar,” Joon agreed. “Thought nothing of it, given the change in all our diets.”
Colonel Hwangbo studied Joon like an entomologist examining a particularly fascinating new species of beetle.
“Which has been fine! Just rather rich compared to our usual food!” Joon hastily added.
Satisfied that Joon wasn’t making light of the ‘fine’ North Korean cuisine, Colonel Hwangbo continued, “As such, the Bulgarian Embassy here in Pyongyang has been contacted and apprised of the situation. They have taken over the case, as well as recovered the mortal remains and possessions of Dr. Dinev; all of which were conserved and authenticated by his Bulgarian national counterparts.”
“Ah, that’s good”, I said, “I’m pleased that there actually is a Bulgarian embassy here.”
“Ah. So.”, Col. Hwangbo continued, “Yes. They have already taken possession of Dr. Dinev’s mortal remains and possessions as I had noted, and will handle their repatriation to his country and family. As you can see, we have acted in the best of faith and with the utmost respect for your lately departed. Again, our condolences.”
There were some “Harrumphs”, and “Yeah, rights”, from the crowd, but since I was the team leader, it fell to me to handle this situation from here on out.
“Yes, indeed”, I replied, “We see that and do so deeply appreciate your efficiency and your keeping open the lines of communication. We have absolutely no room to complain. You, your team, your country, and your services have acted to the highest degree of professionalism and decorum. Let me extend, for the team, our heartiest appreciations in this most unfortunate matter.”
That seemed to please the Korean security forces. So much so they didn’t see the rolling eyes and smirks of grudging compliance from the crowd. I gave the evil-eye to several who were twittering quietly at my delivery of a load of over-the-top twaddle in the name of international goodwill.
“Thank you, Doctor…? Doctor…?”, he asked.
“Doctor Rocknocker.” I replied, “It’s spelled just as it sounds,”, I chuckled a knowing chuckle.
Colonel Hwangbo cracked a small smile for the first time since we met.
“As long as our orders of business are concluded, “ I inquired, “Might we offer you and your men a drink or sandwich or…”
“Cigar?” he suddenly brightened.
I smiled the sly, smirking smile of one of those used to the old duplicitous game of international diplomacy.
“Why”, I replied smilingly, “Of course.”
Col Hwangbo gratefully accepted a brace of fine Oscuro cigars. Probably more tobacco he’s seen in one place at one time since the last he rousted a snozzeled Western journalist or hammered European tourist with an overage of custom’s tobacco allowances.
His team eschewed cigars, but gladly accepted a pack each of pastel-colored Sobranie cocktail cigarettes.
It still slays me to see these battle-hardened, armed-to-the-teeth, unsmiling servants of the great state of Best Korea mincing about the courtyard smoking avocado, baby-blue, and peach-colored pastel cigarettes.
The Colonel and his team left after a couple of quick smokes, sandwiches, and surreptitious beers. I even enticed the Colonel into a couple of convivial vodka toasts when his team was otherwise occupied.
“Well, gang”, I said, closing the door, “Looks like that situation has been handled, most appropriately at that. We’ll miss ol’ Iskren, but at least he went fast and hopefully painlessly.”
I knew that last one was but a load of old dingo’s kidneys as I’ve had run-ins with cardiac disorders in the past and they are anything but painless. In any case, that was, as I noted, in the past. What was done is done. It was as it was. It is as it is.
“So, gentlemen”, I say, “Let us get back to work. Reality calls. Now, we’ve given you landlubbers the lowdown on our seismic pleasure cruise. Now we’d like to hear what you who had stayed onshore have come up with.”
Erlan, Graco, and Viv fill us in on the regional geology of Best Korea and lay out a plan to examine the sedimentary piles closest to the few paved roads in the north and east of the country.
We’ll be traveling by bus, as my request for four or five off-road vehicles was denied due to timing and lack of availability.
Yeah. Right. What a massive pile of bovine biogenic colluvium. A country with a military as huge as Best Korea’s and they can’t spare a few jeeps or Hummer reproductions?
Truth be told, they still don’t trust us and don’t want to let us out of their sight.
However, we did manage to snag some internal publications from the Central Geological Survey of Mineral Resources, which we figured as a major coup. Never before were Westerners allowed to even know of the existence of these materials, much less be able to research (read: slyly copy) them.
That ‘personal shaver’ I carried was actually a sneaky personal copier, a Vupoint ST470 Magic Wand Portable Scanner with all the external stickers peeled off, and any serial numbers abraded away.
Hey, they photograph us from every angle on the sly, listen in on our conversations, record our phone calls…hell, turnabout isn’t just fair play, it’s almost expected.
It’d be rude to refuse to play along.
Anyways, we learned that The Korean Peninsula (KP) occupies a junction area of three large tectonic domains that are the Paleo-Central Asian Orogenic Belt, Paleo-Tethyan Orogenic Belt, and the Western Pacific Orogenic Belt.
Tectono-fascinating.
To summarize:
  1. The Archean Rangrim massif is divided into the Rangrim and Kwanmo submassifs, high-grade region and greenstone belt, respectively.
  2. Early Paleoproterozoic rocks underwent metamorphism up to granulite facies, which may be correlated to the Jiao-Liao-Ji mobile belt in the North China Craton (NCC).
  3. Proterozoic rift sequences in North Korea are similar to those in the NCC with rare late Paleoproterozoic strata and more Neoproterozoic strata.
  4. Mesozoic igneous rocks are extensively distributed in the KP.
  5. The main Paleozoic basin, the Phyongnam basin in NK, have a similar Paleozoic tectono-stratigraphy to the NCC.
Of most interest is item #5. The Phyongnam basin is the only sedimentary and depositional basin of mention in the north of the Korean peninsula; and therefore the center of our attention as it pertains to oil and gas.
The potential source rocks, and possible reservoirs, include the Paleozoic Late Ordovician Miru Series was identified as the Koksan Series and subsequently renamed. The 170-meter thick limestone and siltstone centered around the P'yongnam Basin have extensive crinoid, coral, and gastropod fossils. Paleogeography researchers have suggested that corals formed in the Miru Sea-a branch of the South Yangtze Sea. At the base of the Taedong Synthem is the P'yong'an Supergroup, which lies disconformably atop older Paleozoic rocks.
In the Pyongyang Coalfield it is divided into the 650-meter sandstone, shale, and conglomerate of the Nogam Formation, the 500-meter Kobangsan Formation, 350-meter coal-bearing Sadong Formation and 250-meter chert-bearing Hongjom Formation, all typically assigned to an Upper Permian shallow marine environment.
In the Mesozoic, north of Pyongyang, Precambrian basement rocks are unconformably overlain by a Jurassic limestone conglomerate ascending to layers of siltstone and mudstone. The Upper Jurassic Shinuiju Formation northwest of Shinuiju has sandstone, conglomerate, and mudstone up to two kilometers thick.
Offshore drilling in the West Korea Bay Basin indicates these rocks are the onshore extension of offshore units. It is subdivided into fluvial rocks and Upper Jurassic black shale, limestone, conglomerate and sandstone formed in a lake environment.
There are very few Cenozoic sediments are known in North Korea, likely as a result of erosion due to uplift of the peninsula. Submarine normal faults along the eastern coastline may have driven crustal tilting. The 350-meter thick Bongsan Coalfield in Hwanghae Province on the west coast preserves and coal-bearing layers dating to the Eocene.
Further to the north, in the West Korea Bay Basin Eocene and Oligocene sedimentary rocks up to three kilometers thick unconformably overlie Mesozoic rocks, formed in lakes and coal swamps during the Paleogene.
What this meant is that we’d need to travel mostly northeast and/or southwest. This was fortuitous as the paved roads in the country were created in structural valleys formed by the primary fault trends in the country. The main trans-tensional set trended NE:SW and the conjugate set trends approximately 900 to the main set at NW:SE.
The topography was heavily dissected by drainages and the terrain consists mostly of hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys. The coastal plains are wide in the west and discontinuous in the east.
The plan was to take the bus north to Sunchon, then hang a right off towards Unsan and Yongha. There were outcrops between the last two towns and they appear to be upper Paleozoic to Lower Mesozoic clastics. Ideal oil and gas hunting grounds.
From there, we’d head north-northeast towards Yangwon. There appeared to be some fair to excellent outcrops of rocks that are as of yet, unidentified as to age. From there, we’d continue to follow the outcrop belts either to their termination at the basin’s edges or at international borders with China or Russia.
But, once we hit the field, time goes into relative warp. Put a bunch of geologists out on some relatively virgin outcrops and just stand back as they spend hour after hour after hour first looking for evidence of the formation’s provenance, it’s age and field relations. Then begin the heartfelt, stalwart, and sometimes vicious, arguments between all concerned about each and every one of those salient points.
We were all looking forward to it and wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s our intellectual and scientific equivalent of meat and potatoes.
We all agreed on a way forward and generated a document to deliver to those in charge of our logistics on this trip. There would be a total of 11 Western geoscientists, four guides, perhaps a couple of national geologists or geophysicists, and whatever cadre the shiny suit squad wanted to include.
There would also be a driver, his relief, and a couple of extra translators. Good thing it was a large bus, as it’s going to be a huge crew.
We needed to allow our handlers a full day to arrange room and board for us while in the field, as we had to be bivouacked somewhere outside our fine hotel. It needed to be secure, pass sanctuary muster, and be ‘controllable’, referring to both Western scientists and nosy locals.
One thing we found odd was the lack of concern for long-term logistics, not to mention the end of our self-ordained indentured servitude. When this trip and all the Western geoscientists were contacted, we were all assured of an opportunity to meet with the Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-Un once our trip was completed.
We were to personally deliver one hell of an international photo-op. A ‘hey look how progressive we are’ meeting and our findings in this wonderful and progressive country.
But lately, with what we thought was the fallout of the Festival washing out all the usual propaganda, we’ve heard nothing about Herr Comrade Leader Supremo, K1J1-Un. Nor had we heard one iota about our intended final meeting with him before we left for China.
Since there are “absolutely no” COVID-19 cases in Best Korea, it seemed, well, odd that Beijing was our only possible current exit port of call, and onward to our individual homes.
There were all flavors of rumors flying all throughout the basement bars and casinos of the hotel. One claimed that Kim was now receiving treatment at a villa in the Mount Myohyang resort north of the capital Pyongyang after cardiovascular surgery. That he was near death and that his sister, Kim Yo Jong, is already warming up in the North Korean political bullpen if her brother kacks it.
Others said Kim is believed to be staying at an unspecified location outside of Pyongyang, with some close confidants. It was said that Kim appeared to be normally engaged with state affairs and there has not been any unusual movement or emergency reaction from North Korea's governing party, military, or cabinet.
There was also one other that tries to cover up any conspiracy rumors by shouting over a raspy bullhorn: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"; but most ignored that little crank.
We all thought that rather odd, but of fairly low concern. In the final analysis, it would have little impact on our studies and their outcome. In other words, it wouldn’t affect our pay one way or the other. We all felt like we’ve given more than what was called for on missions such as this.
And we still haven’t a clue as to when this will all come to an end.
However, we all agreed to the consultation, it would have been fun to meet with him and have our pictures taken with the Supreme Leader. Dr. Academician Ivan Ivanovich Khimik. was especially cheesed that he might miss the opportunity to make finger-vee bunny ears behind the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the DPRK during one of our photo sessions.
We all agree if we do somehow find ourselves in the same room with Ivan and Kim Jong-Un, we’ll form a human shield around the latter. We want to get back home; as we’ve all heard the rumors of the horrors of ‘political realignment’ camps here in Best Korea.
So the meeting breaks up and I’m left with Dax to take the final inventory. Two loads of sandwiches gone, piles of used napkins, ketchup-y table linens, bacon rinds and chicken bones, drippy ends of ice cream cones, prune pits, peach pits, orange peel, gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal, pizza crusts, and withered greens, soggy beans and tangerines, crusts of black burned buttered toast, gristly bits of beefy roasts…
“The hell with this”, I say, I grab the last nearly full bottle of vodka and hand Dax a bottle of Royal Navy dark Rum.
“Tally’s good”, I say, not really giving two tiny shits at this point. “At least, I think it is. Let’s make like horseshit and hit the trail.”
“I’m headed back to our floor and going to zone out in front of some old, looped BBC for the next few hours with a cold drink and hot cigar.” I proclaim.
“Oh, hell”, Dax says, “I agree. It’s been a weird couple of days. Let’s go.”
And so we do.
On the way, I leave the logistics concerns and itinerary for the upcoming field trips with the front desk clerk. I slip her 1000 won as its Festival! and I had a bulgy pocketful of same. She smiled and quietly said there’s be a surprise waiting for me in my room when I got there.
“Rock, you fucking old hound!”, Dax exclaimed as he punched me lightly on the shoulder. “Taking a dip in the hotel secretarial pool?”
“Dax, you surprise me”, I said in my defense, “I have been, and continue to be, happily married for the last 38 years to the most loving, most intelligent, most well-connected, and most accurate snap-shot with a Glock .380 Automatic I know of.”
“Well, me ol’ mucker”, Dax smiles slyly, “If one has been happily married for 38 years, one must have a little something on the side. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge, ‘eh, Squire?”
“Oh, nothing like that”, I replied, while waiting the obligatory 30 minutes for the fucking elevator to arrive. “I couldn't break my word to Esme, and not because I don’t believe in a God that will send me to Hell without an electric fan or because it's not the right thing to do. I simply don't want to. A man is only as good as his word; and if he loses that, he loses too much. I couldn’t function without people thinking that I’m square and on the level. My business would crumble to dust. As would my marriage.”
“Yeah, there is that”, Dax agrees, “You say something is going to happen and God damn, it fucking happens. That’s what makes you honest and honestly scary.”
I stare intently at the annunciator that tells me the fucking elevator is stuck on 4 again.
“You’re not mob, are you?” Dax harshly whispers, snickeringly.
I turn to face Dax and smile wistfully.
Я с уважением отказываюсь отвечать, потому что я искренне верю, что мой ответ может обвинить меня”, I reply quietly.
“What the hell does that mean?” Dax demands.
“I respectfully decline to answer because I honestly believe my answer might tend to incriminate me”, I calmly reply.
“Oh, look. Bloody elevator’s finally here.” I note and stride aboard.
Dax gets caught up in the tsunami of the crowd and is carried bodily inside. It was so remorseless, he almost lost his grip on his bottle of Dark Rum.
Up on ‘our’ floor, I go to key open my room. Dax is just down the hall and looking around to see what special surprise might show up. I was too tired to wait so I just push in, and see all my field clothes fully laundered, pressed, and either folded or hanging.
Someone broke into my room during the day and committed a compound neatness.
“POUND! Pound! POUND!” Hmm, appears to be someone at my door.
“Yes, Dax?” I said.
“You too?” he fumed, “Everything, cleaned to within an inch if its life. They even polished my bloody field boots.”
“Oh, fuck”, I said and ran to find mine re-pristinized.
“FUCK! FUCK! FUCKITYFUCKFUCK!” I swore. They had polished my field boots and removed the fine years-of-work-to-acquire near-subsurface of the leather’s oil layer. They polished the water-proofing and conditioning out of the leather of our boots.
“OK. OK.”, I said, “Minor emergency. Cool out. I have the solution.”
I toss Dax a small can. It was brown, oily, and claimed to be “Neatsfoot oil”. It was the SPF- 500 of field leathers.
“Go ahead and oil them up with that”, I told Dax, “I’ve got another can, so don’t worry. Use what you need, don’t be shy, but if there’s any left, let me know. I’ll combine ours and offer it to anyone else in the team who had their boots steam-cleaned.”
So, a bit later, I’m sitting on my hotel room’s floor, on several sheets of newspaper, rubbing Neatsfoot Oil into my ancient, multinational size 16 EEE Vasque™ Tracker field boots.
Then there’s a knock at the door.
“It’s open. Enter carefully”, I say aloud.
It’s a bell clerk with a room service cart. On the cart are a bucket of ice, a bowl of sliced limes, I think, several gimlet glasses, some Best Korean ‘Air Koryo’ carbonated citrus drink, and a fresh bottle of “Kaesong” vodka.
“Compliments of the front desk”, the bellman says.
I stand up, tip him a few thousand won, and set a new record in mixology; a fresh brace of drinks in less than 7.3 seconds.
I offer the bellman the lighter one and he accepts with a wide smile.
I say “건배” (geonbae) literally means 'empty glass', which is similar to the expression 'bottom's up'. For you see, my Korean’s coming along a treat.
We clink glasses and send those drinks to the places that they’ll do the best.
The bellman smiles offloads the cart onto the table in my room, shakes my hand, and departs.
I finish my boots, my drink, and my cigar. After another drink or seven, I crater early. Dax was right; it had been a long, weird day.
The next day, Festival! is still going strong, but still no word on the whereabouts of El Líder Supremo. I find that odd, only slightly interesting, and since it will impact the day’s events zero, I file it away for maybe later use.
I go to the hotel pool around 0530 and there’s no one there. I’m able to get in a good 100 laps, unburdened with either small talk or by yammering kids blocking my lanes. I go early as I don’t wear gloves in the water, obviously. Statistically, there is less chance there will be others, adults and kids included, that would get freaked out by my gnarly left hand. I really don’t feel like recounting the old Russian Rig Accident story again.
After a brisk shower and double shower-scotch back in my room, I dress casually and wander down to the casino and bar level. It’s essentially breakfast time, but with the revelers not giving two hoots to AM vs. PM, it’s surprisingly busy. I find a perch up on Mahogany Ridge and order a classical breakfast cocktail of one liter of beer and 100 milliliters of chilled vodka.
I see Mr. Ho is manning the bar. I ask him to ring the massage parlor down the hall and see if Ms. Nang Bo-Hee is free sometime this morning.
He does and reports that she has an open hour and a half at 0900. Would I like it or any portion of that time?
“I’ll take the lot”, I said. “Tell them I’ll be there spot on 0900.”
“That’s great.”, Mr. Ho says, hanging up the phone, “Doctor Rock, they tell me that with the Festival discount and you taking the full 90 minutes, they can cut you a very special deal.”
“I’ll bet”, I replied, “Like what?”
“Oh, I cannot say for they did not tell me”, he smiled, “They will tell you when you arrive.”
“Marvelous”, I exhaled tiredly. “Another, Mr. Ho; make it a double, if you would please.”
The massage center here is run by a group not employed directly by the hotel. It’s a separate entity altogether. They run specials and have different discount programs that are not only not controlled nor advertised by the hotel, but they’re also not in any way beholden to the hotel, except for rent, I suppose and run it like their own little fiefdom.
Ms. Nang, my preferred masseuse, is a little, tiny Korean lassie about 5 feet tall and probably all of 90 pounds soaking wet. However, she is amazingly well trained and could probably put me in the hospital for a lengthy visit with her wiles and methods of flesh, bone, and muscle manipulation.
She offers a whole suite of different massage genres: Swedish, hot stone, aromatherapy, deep tissue, sport, trigger point, reflexology, shiatsu, Thai, and Rolfing.
Oh, fuck. I know Rolfing. I tried that nonsense back in grad school with an old east Indian lady that could have linebackered for the Minnesota Vikings. That shit fucking hurt. Today, it’d incapacitate me permanently. That’s a definite no-go.
I decide that it’s going to be the Hot Stone-treatment today. A geological-manipulation inquiry.
At 0900 I’m the only client at the massage ‘store’. It’s early, day two of the festival, and people are either sleeping off the previous night’s festivities or too wobbly to even think of partaking in a massage.
I’ve had several major back surgeries over the years, including one bilateral laminectomy about seven years ago that removed 7.5 kilos of overgrown bone and muscle from my lumbar region, so I’ve been very cautious about soliciting a massage. The masseuse has to know that area is strictly verboten and will do everything to avoid annoying that particular piece of bodily real-estate.
I’ve walked or limped out of massages before where the practitioner said they understood my reticence, but went ahead and kneaded and provoked that land of keloids and deep-body scar tissue.
However, based on past experience, Ms. Nang knows full well my reluctance as well as my desires. That’s the reason I’m returning. She’s very, very good; a consummate professional and has a never-ending series of jokes and observations while she’s pummeling you into submission.
Today, we retire to a private cubicle and she hands me a small robe or napkin, not sure which, of Korean manufacture.
She tells me to get au natural and to wear the robe while she prepares the tools of her trade.
OK, I’m not a small person; not by a long shot. This robe, however, is made for a sprite, not even for a small person.
She returns to our massage cubicle as I’m sitting there, at the end of the massage table, sipping my drink clad only in my dapper red-and-white checkered boxers.
“You need to be unclothed, Doctor. Use the robe. OK, sir Rock?” she says.
“Ms. Nang,”, I said, shaking my head, “It’s one or the other.” I show her how laughable the robe is as I can’t even get it over my upper arm. It’s not even as a tea towel when it comes to covering my expansive acres of exposed epidermis.
“I can close door.”, she says, “I’m used to it. I am professional. Does not bother me if it does not bother you.”
I lost all forms of bashfulness, timidity, or prudery long, long ago. After years and years of Russian banya, Swedish massage, Turkish baths, and surgery; well, if it don’t bother you, it don’t bother me.
“OK”, I say, using the robe as a small two-dimensional breechcloth. She tells me to ‘hop’ up on the massage table and lie down, facing the floor.
After chuckling about the fact that I haven’t hopped for decades, I wander over to the nicely padded and extremely clean massage table and lie down. She rearranges the ‘robe’ to cover my backside and tells me to relax. She’ll be right back with the stones.
I’ve never tried this type of massage before, but as a geologist, I must; if for nothing else, progress in the name of science.
Ms. Nang returns with a large parcel consisting of many sizes of steamed stones. They were river-washed and tumbled basalt from the looks of them, all wrapped in a large fuzzy towel.
Now she finds the large towels…
She selects them one by one and places them in ‘special, strategic’ spots on my exposed back. From the lower 2/3rds of the nape of the neck, down the spine, over the fundus mountains, and down the back of each leg.
It’s a warm, almost hot in some places, but not an uncomfortable feeling. She returns to adjust them, grind them in a bit in places, and flip them to extract all that igneous lithological thermal goodness.
I have to admit, at that point, it was feeling quite delightful. Relaxed; I had my drink and was being kneaded My dorsal musculature was being de-lithified by the application of hot rocks and expert point massage.
All was going quite well as Ms. Nang was building a huge tip in her ‘job well done’ bank.
Then the rocks had all attained room temperature. She excused herself to reload with another minor outcrop’s-worth and told me to flip over for round two of the process.
“In for a dime, in for a dollar”, I said, as I flipped over and use the robe as a laughable forward-facing breechcloth.
Ms. Nang mentioned that she was always fascinated by Westerners and their surplus of bodily fuzz. With my long, shoulder-length silver hair, full Grizzly Adams beard that drooped down to my sternum, and torso that picked up where my beard left off; she was quite unprepared to see the beached silver-gray panda that awaited upon her return.
“Dr. Rock!’, she exclaimed, “You are as a bear! So much hair. And silver color!”
“Yeah, sorry”, I replied, “Just the hand genetics dealt me. I guess it’s an adaptation for ethanol-fueled organisms that never feel cold.”
“I will soon return.” She titters excitedly and almost runs out of the room.
“Hmmm. I wonder what that’s all about?” I muse as I lie largely undraped in the massage cubicle.
Suddenly, the door bursts open and every female massage practitioner there herded into the room. They simply had to see the specimen upon which the delightful Ms. Nang was working.
OK, truth be told, I was a bit taken aback. Here I am lying on an elevated, and heavily padded, massage table. I’m ‘wearing’ only a crooked, worried grin and a sheet of a cotton washcloth that measures about 12x12 inches.
They Oohed! and Ahhhed!
I did feel like some form of an alien animal suddenly thrust out into public view. It was a bit disconcerting, but as usual, I just tried to deflect any unease with jokes and idiot remarks. At my age, not much is going to bother me, and this I found all the more laughable than troubling.
Suddenly, I was fielding their barrage of questions:
“You are American? All American men so…hairy?”
“Yes and no”, I replied. I also mentioned I hadn’t undertaken a study in that particular subject.
“Why you so big?” one tiny lass asked, eyes as big as dinner plates.
“Genetics”. I replied. “Just a corn-fed Baja Canadian doofus. We grow ‘em big back home.”
“Can we touch?” one particularly brave little lass asks.
“Touch what?” I asked. Look, I might be over 6 decades old, but there are still some areas reserved for my one and only betrothed.
I did tell Esme of this whole event later that evening during our nightly call. She laughed herself silly.
“Your beard! Oriental men never have such beard. We touch maybe?” she implored.
I was going to say “Go nuts”, but I decided that a simple “Sure” would be more fitting.
So they did. They were enthralled. They had never before, from what I was told, seen such a large silver-gray ZZ Top-style beard, especially here at the hotel. That part was weird enough, but when they started in on working their way south toward the equator, I had to say something to dissuade them.
“Where were you girls 45 years ago?” I laughed.
I don’t think they got the joke. They became somewhat bolder in their austral exploratory activities.
“OK! Time out! Ms. Nang! We have an appointment to keep”, I said as I shooed the rest of the lassies away, “We need to finish what we started.”
By the time that the third syllable of that last sentence came into being, I knew it wasn’t the right thing to say.
They all laughed and tittered as Ms. Nang ushered them out of the room. I could have sworn I heard the door lock behind them.
Ms. Nang reprieved her earlier stone placement therapy, with a couple of strategic detours.
She wasn’t that type of masseuse, and I wasn’t looking for that type of massage. She did, however, knead and pummel me mercilessly.
I’ve been bruised less from barroom brawls.
Finally, she announces that she’s finished. She’ll leave while I shower, as she used essential aromatic oils, and would await me out in the lobby.
After showering, I felt like a large bowl of pummeled Jello. I felt relaxed, and for the first time in weeks, my back was silent. My head was clear as a spring Sunday morn in Reykjavik.
The full 90 minutes, plus sideshow, was 4,500 won.
I paid the owner the required sum and handed Ms. Nang an additional 15,000 for a job well done. And for another anecdote that goes into the hopper.
I left the massage parlor feeling quite fine, thank you. I wandered over to the bar to see if I could augment and prolong this feeling of harmony with the universe. The mental picture even now of all those cooing Korean lassies in the massage room never fails to elicit a laugh and head shake.
A few hours later, I’m back in my room, tidying up my field notes and making certain all my paperwork was heavily encoded and up to date. It was, so I placed a number of expensive overseas calls to catch up with everyone on the outside.
I’m thinking of calling room service to have my mini-bar repaired when my room phone rings.
“Now who would be calling me at this hour?” I wondered.
It was the tour group leader. He informed me that the itinerary had been worked out and we’d be leaving tomorrow for the field at 0600. We were to arrive with all our luggage and be prepared to check out. We would spend at least a week in the field, if not two, depending on our results, and be bivouacking in different places in the interior of the country.
I thanked him for the information and said I’d inform the rest of the team. He told me that wouldn’t be necessary as they would come up to or floor, deliver the notice verbally, or by note if they were out of their rooms. If I wanted to later call each participant and ensure they were apprised of the situation, that would be most appreciated.
I assured him I would do so and that we’d be ready, to a man, at 0600 the next day.
I whip up 10 Post-it™ notes and stick one on each member’s door.
“Leaving for the field. Check out 0530. Wheels up 0600. Bring all luggage. Road trip!”
To be continued…
submitted by Rocknocker to Rocknocker [link] [comments]

If you had to match a MM to a map, how would you match them up?

Since there are 5 MM and 5 maps currently, i thought it might be fun to macth up the MM to a map. This could matched thematically or according to strategy. For me:
Annette - Research Facility
- The main reason for this choice is a mixture of Annette being a scientist and thus the research facility theme fits, as well as the map being generally horrible for camera based MM. Annettes creature builds can work well on this map. In area 1, survivors are usually prone to split up so you can swarm the weaker link. Area 2 is circular with a lot of doors which makes it easier for a beefy regen Yorick to waste time. In area 3, if you can get the beefy horde of lickers and tough zombies with concentrated enhancer to crowd the central elevator, its almost impossible for the survivors to not have to deal with them (the exception being if a biocore is in the isolated room on second floor).
Daniel - Amusement Park
- What better place for the MM who is just playing around than the abandoned park? Thematically i think it fits nice with the "horror" element of the park to be chased around by the strong controlled zombies. The map would be like Daniels playground. Pretty much any build can be utilized to good effects in area 1. in area 2 there are only a couple doors, so using Mr. X is actually somewhat viable. In area 3 i find that a lot of places on the map only have 1 camera to cover them, as opposed to other area 3 maps, so this also works well with a MM who controls creatures instead of staying in the cam.
Alex - The Prison
- I think the prison fits Alex the best thematically, as it is similar to the revelations 2 prison. Lots of doors in both area 1 and 2 which make mine and infection builds viable. In area 2, other bioweapons can be cheesed by the survivors running through the barrier at the starting area to the other side of the map, but Alex can just use lurking menace on Yateveo so she doesnt have this problem. Generally she also uses faster E.I.S. speed which can help her keep the biocores safe in area 3.
Spencer - Downtown
- While this one doesn't really fit anyone thematically, Spencer would be my choice for downtown. Downtown maps 1-3 all have several spots where multiple camaras can be used to view same areas which helps out Spencer a lot so he can hop to the next camera if it one gets shot out, or he can set up turrets to back him up as well. Both creature and gun builds can be used effectively on downtown, and Spencers works best when you utilize everything (since he can do it all, but excel at none - particularly as i refuse to run cooling fan Spencer). Downtown area 3 has the biggest problem with core sniping, and i think Spencers biocores are the most resistant to this.
Nicholai - Casino
- I dont think any may fits better to the guy who is only in this for the money. I think Casino is generally a great map for gun focused MM, as there are several great places to set up turrets on all 3 of the casino maps. There is also a lot of space on these maps, so Nicholai could also easily use dogs to back up his gun play. Casino area 3 has the most doors out of any area 3 map, meaning Nicholai can also utilize the gun/trap behind a locked door throughout the whole game.

I have been contemplating picking my MM based on the map i get, according to this. I think it might be fun! Plus, there are 4 presets available and 4 customizable decks, so i could make 4 different builds to choose from for each MM. How would you guys match your MM to maps?
submitted by JackBaker17 to REResistanceGame [link] [comments]

120 Urban Hooks

I see this post so often, and I'm amazed that people have trouble of thinking of things to do in an urban environment, so I thought I'd lend a hand.
Thanks as always to The Gollicking members, Mimir-ion, Zweefer, RexiconJesse, u/arc_onyx, InfinityCircuit and DeathMcGunz.
I've built a lot of cities. I find that its best to categorize.
Here's my personal city encounters lists, slightly altered with worldbuilding details to be more generic and useful. They are yours to take, amend, and discard, with my thanks.
There are 6 categories, with 20 entries for each category, giving us 120 encounters. (160 with the comment, below)
A d6 and a d20 can dice up a full roster of stuff to do quite quickly. Enjoy!

ARTS (01)

  1. Free outdoor art gallery with paintings, sculpture, food vendors and musicians. A note is passed to the party from a stranger.
  2. A new play from a famous playwright is debuting at the local theater. The party receives an invitation from an anonymous source via a messenger.
  3. A street band is playing raucous tunes outside the party's lodgings and a crowd prevents them from entering. If they persist, they accidentally start a brawl.
  4. A festival is being held in the city and all citizens and visitors are required to attend and pay fealty to the city's ruler. During the parade an explosion destroys some buildings and kills nearly 100 people. The party is very close to the blast and sees a hooded figure fleeing via rooftop.
  5. A local busker who always recites bad elven poetry is found one morning turned to stone.
  6. A band of mimes have come to the city to perform a series of comedy shows. One of the mimes is a Doppleganger and is here to assassinate one of the party's allies.
  7. A dance troupe, known for their public and surprise appearances (a "flashmob"), starts a performance in and around the party in the street. During the performance one of the dancers lunges at one of the party members and whispers, "Help me" in their ear, before carrying on with the spectacle.
  8. A mysterious sculpture garden has "sprouted" in a main city street, seemingly grown from the very ground itself. All of the figures are depictions of body horror and some spectators have been driven mad or died after looking at them for too long.
  9. Artist paints caricature portraits of passers-by which come to life at night to cause havoc.
  10. There is a sand castle contest at the local beach. While digging a pit one contestant finds a wooden chest. It is sealed with arcane sigils and very dangerous. Inside is a lifeform.
  11. The party is asked to investigate a local art gallery as the last known location of a model that has disappeared. The party finds extremely life like statues of various people, missing model included, and discovers the sculptor is a Maedar, with a pet Basilisk, trying to replicate his dead mate (a Medusa).
  12. The party is invited to a studio for free painting lessons. The paint fumes trigger a spell that sends the party into a collective Dream. They must find their way out and defeat the Artist-Wizard and his pet Nothic before they are bled dry (to fuel a hideous ritual).
  13. An audience-participation theater-event is occurring in one of the parks, and the party is encouraged to join, and are asked to put on some simple costumes. Upon doing so, they are swapped with hidden Clones, who continue the performance, while the party is teleported to an underground prison full of holding cells. There are dozens of other trapped citizens there.
  14. A new popular song is all the rage and being sung by drunken bravos and university students alike. The song has a 10% to transfer an audio-parasite, that will drive the singer mad and ultimately into a catatonic state over the course of 7 days. During this time they will be compelled to sing the “hook” over and over, in the hopes of infecting any nearby listeners.
  15. A master tattooist has set up a temporary shop on the fringes of the city. For a hefty fee, the customer will receive an exquisite piece of personal art, and on full moons, the tattoo will be able to sense the presence of magic, poisons, disease, or creature types (DMs choice). The master will leave after 24 hours, never to be seen again and the tattoo will fade completely after 30 days.
  16. An artist is painting landscapes on the street. She says she’ll paint any place the customer desires. For a fee, she can make the painting a one-time portal to that place. The portals always go to the wrong location (this is discovered after travel has occurred).
  17. A local homeless man, who mimes for money along the Promenade and in the Park, suddenly finds his invisible walls and pretend ropes are real. Passersby run into invisible walls of force left behind by him, people are dragged to him by his invisible rope, and he now hides in a corner of the park, afraid he will hurt others with this newfound power. The local Telekinesis Guild (bunch of filthy impostors and con artists, mostly) are furious that he has what they secretly do not, and has put a bounty on him, paid upon live delivery to their guild house.
  18. A local street band is performing the show of their life and the music has become magical. Any Bards present will be able to “draw” 1-3 new spells from the performance. All others will be Blessed for the next 48 hours.
  19. An artist has set up a crude telescope, pointing at the ground. For a small fee, you can look through the telescope and see a miniature world, full of tiny blue humanoids in a stone-age environment. The telescope is enchanted with a very detailed Major Illusion spell that allows the humanoids to be seen, and is also Cursed to drive the viewer mad by causing them to see the tiny blue humanoids everywhere they go. The curse will begin 24 hours after using the telescope and will persist for 30 days or until the victim goes mad, or dies. The Curse will manifest the humanoids as watching, then menacing, then threatening, then murderous.
  20. Some Elven sculptors have set up a “Century Garden” - plinths of stone overhung by apparatus with funnels in different angles and locations that drip acids onto the stone - slowly forming the final form of the artists vision. The artist is selling tickets (valid in 100 years) to attend the ceremony.

NIGHTLIFE (02)

  1. A local tavern is showcasing a new lager and a spruiker is on the streets handing out "1/2 off" coupons to passersby. The party is given "2 free drinks" coupons on purpose by the NPC. A stranger is waiting inside that wants to talk to the party.
  2. A dance club, on a typical night, has been infiltrated by an Avatar of Bacchus and has caused the party to spill into the streets where it has been pulling in passersby. The party is caught up in the crowd.
  3. An exclusive nightclub has opened, membership only. One of the party’s allies goes missing and was last seen there. The club is a coven of Sorcerers and every night they sacrifice a kidnapped customer to try to summon an Eldritch Horror.
  4. A hot club in town is secretly run by vampires. Cover charge is 1 pint of blood. Thralls being thralls, one of them talks, and a Hunter has gotten wind of the nest. The party will see him interrogating a thrall and escalating to torture.
  5. A drunken brawl spills out of a tavern near the party. The fight is brutal, involving makeshift weapons and ends up overtaking the party. If they do not flee, during the fracas the party notices that one of the brawlers is biting his opponents and swallowing the flesh. If they do flee, they hear the next day that a pile of half-eaten bodies was discovered in the aftermath. A new zombie-master has come to town.
  6. While out drinking, the party sees a Silver Elf enter the tavern, and time slows to 50% of its current speed for all but the party and Elf, who remain at 100%. The Elf asks the party if they would like to play a game of chess. If they say no, the Elf vanishes, and time returns to normal. If they agree they must wager a precious/strong/important memory against the answer to any question. The Elf has an INT modifier of +4 and a +4 proficiency in gaming. Upon the conclusion of the game, the Elf vanishes and time returns to normal. The bar patrons never see the Elf.
  7. While in a tavern, a game of darts among some locals concludes in violence and 2 end up dead. On one of the deceased bodies is a treasure map that leads to a guarded vault in the wilderness.
  8. A particularly virulent STD is going around the brothels. Over the course of 72 hours it turns the afflicted into a receptor for mental dominance from a powerful psion. The “Mind Taker” uses these puppets to rob the afflicted and deliver their valuables to a guarded location. Then the psion drains the puppet of its final mental faculties and stores it as an energy source for later. The bodies are then destroyed using a Rod of Disintegration. One of the party’s allies (or a party member themselves) has come down with a case of “The Threads” (so named for the red lines of infection radiating from the genitalia into the legs and torso.
  9. A dance club has been cursed by a witch to afflict some (30%) of the customers with “Otiluke’s Irresistible Dance”. Some patrons have been dropping dead from it and the club owners are covering it up by secretly burying the bodies in the basement and drugging the witnesses. The party is present for this or one of their allies goes missing.
  10. A man attempting to throw a party so massive he will officially become “the God of Partying” wants the players to help him throw an absolute rager. If they help, he will remember them fondly when he reaches godhood. The party could overrun the region/city.
  11. The party finds a club throwing a rager in the party’s honor. All night, people toast the party members, dance with them, and celebrate. No one in the party has to pay for drinks. The next day, the party gets the bill for everyone's drinks. The tavern was told the event was for the party and would be paid for by them as well.
  12. A new fad in the high-end taverns of the city, catering to young noblemen with too much money and not enough sense, is a drink called The Kiss. One part grain alcohol, one part pufferfish venom - a shot of this causes hallucinations and numbness, in addition to more than the usual drunkenness. Two young men, heirs to fortunes and titles in the court, have died in the last two nights. Word is they drank too many of these. The noble families want blood, and put bounties on all known bartenders serving This Kiss. The guard don’t want a riot on their hands if they interfere with the Mixologist’s Guild, the most powerful multinational trade guild in the world. A representative from the Crown has summoned the party, to discreetly investigate the explosive situation.
  13. A group of drunks stumble towards the party and push through/past them. During this, the party will each be subject to a Pickpocket attempt (+8 Sleight of Hand). If discovered, the “drunks” are a pack of rogues who “own” this territory. If challenged, they will flee and return with a number of Thugs equal to the number of party members.
  14. A grifter comes up to the party and bets that they can guess “where you got your boots/shoes”. The answer is “on your feet” (where the footwear currently is). The grifter will demand a small amount of cash after this, and will become hostile if denied or hassled.
  15. An avatar of Bacchus/Dionysus appears in the area and begins a Revel. Those who hear the music or see the dancing/drinking must save vs Wisdom (DC 20) or join in. The Revel will last for 72-96 hours and leave partygoers with 3 levels of Exhaustion (and be many miles from where it started).
  16. A Dwarven “thrashgnome” band is throwing an impromptu concert on the roof of a local tavern. The noise is deafening and a large brawl will erupt after awhile - during the fracas an object will find itself at the feet of one of the party members. It is a powerful Fetish that was stolen from a Witch (who has been seeking it, and is nearby).
  17. The party enters a tavern to discover their money is “no good” and they are suddenly crowned “Lager Kings/Queens” for the night, and feted and welcomed by each individual tavern patron. The party will, as the sun rises, be poisoned by the insinuative poison that was in each successive drink, and if they fail a Con check vs a high DC, they will be magically Sleep’ed and find themselves strapped to a basement altar for a hatchling Gold Dragon to feed upon. If they succeed on the check, they are very ill and considered Incapacitated for the next 24 hours.
  18. A new tavern has appeared in the area, and will vanish after the night’s festivities to appear in a random location in the world the next night. The tavern patrons are all Fey, and this is the “Wandering Druid Pub”.
  19. A dealer is handing out “free tokes” of a new narcotic. The narcotic is powerful and hallucinatory, but harmless otherwise, except for the addiction rate, which is near 100%. A Con check vs a high DC is required. If failed, the user must take the drug again in the next 24 hours or suffer 2 levels of Fatigue. Every day without the drug thereafter confers another level of Fatigue. If the check is passed, they will become violently nauseous every time they take the drug again.
  20. A group of Gnomish Brewmasters have set up a tasting booth on the street and are giving out free samples of “Old Brown Mare” - a powerful stout that has a tiny side effect - 10% of the imbibers are shrunk to Gnomish height for 24 hours.
  21. (OPTIONAL) - A cadre of bound Incubi and Succubi have escaped from a brothel and are desperately seeking an escape from the area. They will make any deal possible to make this happen.

SHOPPING (03)

  1. While looking for weapons, a party member "accidentally" activates a sentient weapon, who declares the party member as "master" and demands to know what has happened since it was "put to sleep".
  2. While shopping, one or more of the party members is pickpocketed by a young kid who is part of an "urchin gang". This gang is an arm of one of the more powerful rogue guilds in the city.
  3. A street vendor is selling “gag gifts”, guaranteed to ensure the perfect prank. All the objects are cursed, and the vendor reveals this as if they were joking, as part of the shtick.
  4. Upon purchasing a normal mundane item, it is found to be hollow, with an unknown substance hidden inside of it. If left undiscovered, the person who sold it will try to get the item back, by negotiation or violence, it depends on the party’s willingness to part with it.
  5. A certain type of plush toy is all the rage in this city, and the party will acquire one upon their next purchase - all the merchants were paid to distribute these as “customer incentives.” The toys act as scrying focus for the local thieves guild. The party’s lodgings will be robbed within 24 hours obtaining the toy.
  6. An extraordinary amount of the richer folk of the town have gathered on the plaza. Gregory’s Golden Garments has arrived back in town from one of his far-off trading junkets. He brings the most exclusive textiles and materials to town, and the auction has started (dragon-skins, silk, etc.). During the auction, someone purchases a rare bolt of material and the party finds it in their room later, with instructions to hide it. If they don’t, a group of Assassins come looking for it. If they do, they will be contacted by a mysterious agent who asks them to transport it far away for a hefty fee.
  7. An Annual Food Festival kicks off with much fanfare. However, someone has poisoned the foodstuffs and half the city is sick with nausea and other vile emissions. The organisers, afraid to lose their heads, have set a hefty bounty for finding the culprit(s), and one of these pamphlets is pushed on the party.
  8. While shopping for weapons, a woman approaches the party and asks them to sell a weapon for her, as she cannot. She explains that the weapon is Cursed and will not allow itself to be sold by the owner. If the party agrees, she looks visible relieved and hands the item over. Now the weapon belongs to the party member who took it (and it cannot be sold). The item is a -1 weapon.
  9. A small purse keeps whispering at a player for them to buy it. It remains silent when others are observing it and refuses to talk if it thinks anyone else can hear it. It says it can help them (count money, hide it from pickpockets, and offer insight) if they give it something in return (it wants costly gemstones).
  10. Every store and restaurant the party enters seems to be run by the same person. If confronted, they laugh and say they “get that all the time”, but will profess ignorance otherwise. The merchants are all Dopplegangers and today is their “Day of Pranks”. If two merchants are forced together, they will become violent and the others will run out to join them.
  11. The party finds a flyer shoved under their lodging’s door that promises “75% off all Adventuring Gear” at a local merchant. The merchant is very chatty and inquisitive and will press the party for information about where they are going next. The merchant then sells this information to a gang of rogues who will follow the party and attempt to rob them as they exit the dungeon.
  12. While shopping for clothes, a party member hears a weeping noise. No one around seems to be crying, so if this is investigated, the member finds a top hat that seems to be the source. If the hat is put on, the party member is Cursed with a particularly nasty form of melancholia.
  13. The next time an item of clothing is purchased, the party member discovers that it has a large “Pocket Dimension” concealed within its folds. There is an object already inside the pocket.
  14. A beautiful man/woman approaches the lowest CHA party member and offers to make their “dreams come true” if they will sell their soul. The man/woman will cast a real Wish on behalf of the party member (which works without the usual DM fuckery, but will expire in 1 year, and a group of Devils will appear to collect the player’s soul). If refused, the man/woman will leave, but if confronted, they will flee. The man/woman is a mortal humanoid who simply shills for a Crossroads Devil.
  15. While shopping for arrows/projectiles, the merchant offers the party a “one-time deal” of some special projectiles that are “guaranteed to strike their target every time” and will demonstrate this quality in a shooting lane set up in the back of the shop. The projectile will work as promised within the shop itself, without limit, but outside the shop, the first 3 only will work as promised and the rest will automatically fail-to-hit. If confronted later, the shopkeeper will claim ignorance and claim the party member is lying (even going so far as to call the Watch for harassment).
  16. The city is having a 50% sale, city-wide, for the next 24 hours. Rogues know this too, and are everywhere, preying on the crowds, or following them home to be robbed later.
  17. While shopping for provisions, the merchant says they are looking for “exotic meat hunters”, and will pay top prices for “anything unusual” without limit, provided the meat is delivered dressed.
  18. A new confectionery store has opened and is giving away free samples in the streets. The sweets are mildly intoxicating, and have the added side-effect of making those who eat them very amorous for the next 8 hours. The owners are clerics of the Deity of Love.
  19. An arsonist is burning down merchant shops, by “category”. The perpetrator is a failed businessperson themselves, and is merely seeking revenge. The first things burned are the weapon and armor shops.
  20. While shopping for armor, the merchant offers to show the party a “special selection” of exotic armor. These are all very unusual and very expensive. This is a one-time offer that will never be repeated and if confronted, the merchant will claim ignorance as to the existence of the exotic armors, and if the shop is searched, they are nowhere to be found.

ENTERTAINMENT (04)

  1. The party receives an anonymous gift of entry passes to an exclusive and private club in the city. At the club, the party is approached by cultists who attempt to persuade the party into joining.
  2. The museum is showcasing some rare artifacts. While visiting, the party is present during the brazen theft of one of the objects - an item of unique and dangerous powers.
  3. Zoo animals have escaped and are menacing the population!
  4. A local sage sends an urgent message to the party about a matter of great importance. The sage, a bit senile, has gotten mixed up and this is not the group he was supposed to contact. He does not realize this and treats the party as if they were hired to retrieve a book from an old, guarded crypt. If the party refuses, the Sage will eventually be foolish enough to try it himself and the party will hear about his death.
  5. A public estate sale of one of the city’s wealthiest families is announced. The prices are high, but the quality equally impressive. In the announcement is an object that the party or one of the party members has been looking for. If they attend the sale, they discover the price is three times higher than they can afford (even after pooling money or getting a loan). The security is strong but not impossible...
  6. The museum is showcasing the preserved remains of a long-dead monster race as part of a traveling exhibition. During a tour, or at night when closed, the monsters are revived by an interested party, and they go on a murderous spree. They attack either the party (along with many others) or one of the party’s allies.
  7. A series of foreign street magicians has entered town and perform solo acts all over town. One of them is near the party, and they need a volunteer for a (permanent) disappearing act.
  8. A street corner storyteller is spinning a tale of adventure and peril to a crowd. The tale sounds suspiciously like the last adventure the party had.
  9. While eating, the party sees a puppet show happening nearby. They find it (magically) difficult to avert their eyes from the felt performers and can see figures moving out of the corners of their eyes. These are Oblique Golems, and can only move when not being viewed. The golems will attempt to rob anyone nearby. The puppets are just puppets.
  10. An Escape Room boasts a valuable prize for any group who can escape/solve the room before the hourglass fills. Several of the puzzles in the escape room align runes and involve magic words of power. If the party manages to complete the room, they complete the spell, finding a portal now open above the building. Demons pour from it into the town, and it cannot be closed for at least 24 hours.
  11. Some fire-jugglers are performing in the street, and they appear to be using magic to create illusionary figures that leap from the burning torches. These are actually Mephits, and the fire-jugglers did not summon them, they appeared on their own. They run off to cause havoc and burn as much of the city as they can.
  12. A local casino is offering big prizes to “Spin the Wheel” - with only a 5% chance of winning, this is mostly a scam, but those who play are Wizard-Marked to be robbed later. The prizes for actually winning are 4-figures.
  13. A pig-racing track has been cordoned off - turning the streets into the racecourse. All are welcome to enter, and whoever wins is offered a lucrative contract joining the “Hog Ridin’ Circuit” - a racing tournament involving half-a-dozen cities and some very shady dealings.
  14. A masked spruiker hands the party an ornately engraved thin metal plaque inviting them to an exclusive event at a place called “The Garden”, and a map is etched on the reverse side. The event, if attended, presents the party with an opportunity to travel to another plane and earn the favor of a powerful, if enigmatic figure.
  15. A group of acrobats are performing feats and stunts in the street. During the performance, one of the party members sees the face of one of the tumblers momentarily change into something monstrous.
  16. A pair of dueling Illusionists is staging an elaborate mock-battle in a nearby park, but neglected to inform anyone of this beforehand and have caused a panic.
  17. A tour group suddenly appears and engulfs the party. The guide is pointing out places where famous adventurers have died, and suddenly points right where the party is standing and begins discussing them as if they were not there! The tour group can not be interacted with (as they are projections from the future) and soon quickly departs and vanishes around a corner.
  18. A street lottery is being held by a local neighborhood social group. The cost is low and any tickets purchased are said to go towards upgrading the local park. There is a 50% that the party wins a modest prize of home-baked goods. The locals will send a message to the party later that their tickets were fraudulent and demand a return of the prize or the equivalent value in currency. This “lottery” is a common scam run in the area on obvious tourists.
  19. During an previous-announced free concert by some famous Bards, a bomb explodes.
  20. A street comedian is inadvertently casting “Tasha’s Hideous Laughter” on audience members. The phenomenon is soon discovered and the comedian flees. Later, he is found dead and covered in a thin slime.

SPORTS (05)

  1. The party receives an anonymous gift of tickets to a local sporting match. If they attend, they are approached by an NPC who says they represent a "person who wishes to remain nameless, but desires to procure your services in a delicate, and potentially dangerous matter."
  2. The party is invited by a local ally to attend a boxing match. At the match both fighters are killed by a powerful assassin who works in secret for a local politician.
  3. The party attends a game of skill and is accused of bribing a ref to throw the game by a rogue (who did actually rig the fight, but now has been caught and is desperate). A few of his crew will back him up and some of the crowd sides with them.
  4. A marathon race has been scheduled to wind through the city as part of a larger season of racing. A number of famous people and some talented locals will participate. During the race, several of the runners suddenly collapse and begin coughing blood. This is the start of a disease outbreak, and will, without precautions, infect over half the city in only 72 hours. The source is magical in nature, and part of a larger scheme to cripple the city by a secret faction.
  5. A bare-knuckle street match has been set up by an enterprising rogue/wizard. A series of ringers are inviting all-comers to challenge for a fat purse. Those who fight are wizard-marked, and followed later, to be kidnapped and bound for a fighting-arena in the Underdark.
  6. An illegal horse race, infamous in the city for causing multiple deaths every year, is about to commence once again. The street the party currently finds themselves in will turn into the aftermath of a battlefield within several seconds. The race has no rules and is heavily wagered upon by the criminal elements of the city.
  7. A “Circus Maximus” involving blood-sport, animal fighting, and a “nautical spectacle” is going to be held at the city’s largest stadium. The public is allowed to sign up to fight in one of the 3 events. The purse for winning is generous (5 figures) and is, of course, rigged and being carefully watched by the strongest Rogues Guild in the city, who stand to make a pile of money. If the party participates, they will see that some of their opponents have been enchanted with speed and strength.
  8. An annual Guards Competition is about to commence. They are divided into 4 teams, and the locals have lifelong and fierce loyalties
  9. In one quarter is an annual event - the Endurance Drinking Contest. A group of competitors take a shot, perform a task, take a shot, perform a different task, repeat. The winner gets a trophy, their portrait on the wall of winners, and bragging rights. The tasks range from silly to nearly impossible.
  10. A mounted race is about to commence, and the party runs into a thick crowd along the edges of the route. If the party chooses to stay to watch, they will see one of the riders being assassinated from a position high above the streets by a mage’s spell.
  11. A traveling ball-team is looking for a manager and some bodyguards, and one of the party’s allies has recommended the party, as a joke. The team shows up where the party is to conduct an interview.
  12. A boxing match has resulted in a death and the angry and bewildered crowd has spilled out into the streets in a terrible brawl, hurting bystanders and destroying property. If the body is examined, 3 small holes in the back of the dead boxer’s neck can be found and 3 small projectiles found inside the wound. The trail leads to a mage’s henchman.
  13. Illegal cart-racing has been taking place at night among the city’s youth and an ally of the party is terribly worried about their child’s possible-participation. The racing will soon claim lives.
  14. The Dozens has arrived in the city - a nationwide, very famous content of insults and put-downs. The entry fee is to survive a round-robin of burns during The Throwdown, where hundreds will enter. The prize is bragging rights, a 4-figure cash prize, and the chance to defend their title next year.
  15. An ally of the party has entered a marathon footrace. During the race, the ally disappears.
  16. A Fishing Derby, the 1st of 3 contests each year, is being held by any who wish to pay the modest entry fee. There is only one rule - you cannot use a traditional rod/reel, fly, or net/seine to catch the fish. The Derby draws the inventive and the mad, and lasts over 3 days.
  17. A professional team of Goliath and Dwarven “Chicken Fighters” arrive at the city for an exhibition match in the city’s swimming pool. One of the Goliath recognizes a party member (whether the members also remembers them, or not) and offers free tickets. During the match, one of the Dwarves is hurt, and after a flurry of rules-consultations, its determined that a substitute is allowed. The party is looked at by the Goliath and asked for help.
  18. A ping-pong match is being staged between Royal cousins, to settle a dispute. The match is going to be public, and during it, both Royals disappear and are replaced with monkeys. Uproar ensues.
  19. The party finds out there is an underground avian-fighting event happening below the tavern. When they go to investigate, they find a goose and a rooster on opposite sides of a metal chess board pushing the pieces around randomly. A ref resets illegal moves and pulls captured pieces from the board. The crowd roars wildly, screaming for their bird to win the game. The party is approached by a grifter who says he knows who’s going to win and will sell the info. The grifter’s prediction will prove right 2 times, then wrong the 3rd time.
  20. An illegal blood-sport fighting match has caused the death of a local celebrity and the party has been framed for the murder.

NAUTICAL (06)

  1. A local ally invites the party on a fishing trip. While on the trip, the vessel is attacked by a desperate band of Kuo-Toa, who appear to be diseased and attack with a more-than-usual savage aggression.
  2. The city is holding a yachting regatta and the party is present when one of the ships catches fire. Many accusations are bandied about and most seem to blame one of the city’s administrators who had a grudge.
  3. A seasonal storm rushes over the city does significant (and costly) damage to the local fleets (and any ships the party might have moored here). Trade and travel is stalled and only a hefty bribe and some forceful diplomacy can secure any movement needs that the party might have.
  4. A local mad-wizard-inventor is launching a submarine and has asked for volunteer pilots and crew. If the party accepts, they are attacked by a great white shark. If they do not, the sub is sunk by the shark. The mad-wizard will try again next month with a new design. If the shark has been killed, this version will find a sunken treasure worth a king’s fortune.
  5. The party is invited to a beach party by an ally. While there, a number of party-goers find themselves suddenly growing gills and webbed feet and toes and a strong urge to enter the ocean. They have been drugged by a Sahuagin Sorcerer, who is trying to build an “amphibious army” to attack the town and destroy it.
  6. A large number of Brachia (Crab-Folk) have surfaced in the bay and are attempting to communicate via the Dream spell (which will manifest as the entire town committing suicide, and this will be dreamed en-masse by the locals). This dream is not a threat, but a warning of what will happen if the townsfolk don’t rid themselves of a recently-acquired magic item (by the party themselves, or by another adventuring group). They have 72 hours to unravel the mystery.
  7. A number of Were-Sharks are attacking swimmers at night (mostly kids/young adults out partying on the beach). These therianthropes are not aware of their actions, but know something is wrong. While shape-changed, they work as a team, like wolves.
  8. While passing a street they encounter a group of semi-drunken sailors. The sailors start a brawl with the party, for their fun. When magic or weapons are used things will get nasty as the sailors will pull shivs, long knives, chains, and cudgels.
  9. Something has turned the ocean red and fish are dying in great numbers.
  10. A large statue that could be worth a lot is trapped in a cavern in the water. If the party can retrieve it without additional help, they can claim it as their own, sell it, and keep all of the profits. If they enlist any help, the local authorities will take over the operation and claim the statue for themselves.
  11. During a sailboat race, a school of merfolk begin harassing and destroying the boats.
  12. A group of traveling sailors try to sell famous and popular books, paintings, and equipment to the party at a great price. Upon closer inspection, the items appear to be forgeries.
  13. A seadragon is heading for the coast, but rumor has it she will slumber if told a bedtime story. In order for her to hear it, the party must intercept her and shout the story from aboard a ship. But it better be a good story.
  14. An ocean water spirit wants to visit a fellow spirit friend who is further inland. They will make a path over land of water they can travel through. The party can try to convince the spirit to follow their path and plot a nondestructive course, or they can try to stop the spirit from visiting their friend through force.
  15. For three days, no one has been able to catch a fish with a hook and line. Nothing even bites, something just cuts the lines before any fish can bite.
  16. Tidal Wave!
  17. A local surfer has gone missing and only his surfboard is found on the beach, covered in a black slime. Days later, his head (missing the eyes) washes ashore.
  18. An Aboleth has awoken in the bay and starts calling minions to serve it. Some of them are townsfolk, and possibly the Mayor as well.
  19. A waterspout threatens the docked ships in the harbor. It is not a natural occurrence.
  20. A pack of Scrag (Sea Trolls) have started plucking beachcombers from the shoreline.
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