Gravity’s Rainbow group read / Sections 26-29 / Week 8
Gravity’s rainbow sections 26-29 summary Hello there, here is my humble contribution to this great reading group. Thanks to everyone involved and especially to bloomsdayclock for overseeing the logistics involved in this hefty operation. I am a tad late because I had to fill in for somebody at work yesterday. Furthermore, any mistakes made I will blame on the fact that my laptop broke down and I have written this thing on my phone. My plan of attack is very simple. I will summarize the sections in a - I hope - lucid manner and make some simple observations about the text as we go along. Here and there I will point to some passages that I think are beautiful, astute or important; simple enough right? I don’t think it will be as a complex or exhaustive exegesis as my worthy predecessors have provided, but I do hope it will provide enough fuel for the discussion below. Let’s get into it! SECTION 26 (part 5 of part 2) We are nearing march 23d 1945 as “Wernher von Braun, [...] prepares to celebrate his 33rd birthday”. We have just been provided with some of the yuckiest scenes in the book so our lord and saviour, Pynchon, moves away from the morbid proclivities of the White Visitation and provides us with some more comically induced and lighthearted scenes, before we get into THE ZONE. Slothrop has become more aware of the plot that has been created to his detriment. Therefore we are provided with the first of the proverbs for paranoids: “You may never get to touch the master, but you can tickle his creatures.” Through some paranormal activity he has been conversing with, or receiving necessary information from, Roland Feldspath about systems of control, and whatnot before he goes to Germany. Feldspath reminisces on a periodical, “Paranoid Systems of History”, in Germany which asserted that the hyperinflation was purposefully created to show the failures of the adherents of the Cybernetic Tradition. This is bolstered with some ruminations on the nature of entropy (not explicity) and the problem of Maxwell’s demon. This is to provide for the fact that the way of thinking of the rocket’s was reduced to a too simplistic notion by the scientists that created them. These scientists would only realize in death the mistakes they made. A foreshadowing (sorta) of Slothrop’s own rite of passage through this book. (I think it is clear I’m having some trouble with going over this bit; if anyone feels inclined to feel in the gaps and maybe explain Maxwell’s demon in layman’s terms, that would be much appreciated.) We are now (really) back at the casino, where slothrop stumbles into Hilary Bounce (from Shell) - who is going to learn him about propulsion. There are some things Slothrop needs to learn before he goes into the zone, among them are: the mechanics of propulsion; dialects like plattdeutsch (which just means something like ‘normal’ German - as opposed to ‘proper’ German); and also English English. Slothrop is thinking about and discussing with Bounce the curious nature and endeavors of Shell on both sides of the war. We are hit with the second proverb: “The innocence of the creatures is in inverse proportion to the immorality of the master”. Bounce shrugs Slothrop suspicions off by saying: “It’s only a “wild coincidence,” slothrop’”. As part of Pointsman’s experiment Slothrop is learning about rockets via German blueprints. In such a blueprint a rather out of the ordinary insulation device catches his eye: Imipolex G. Rather than just plain out asking for more information, slothrop is a bit more slick. He gets one of his ladyfriends (Michele) to seduce bounce, so he can have Bounce’s teletype to ask about Imipolex G. This succeeds, Slothrop goes down to the same party where Bounce and Michele went to - and will read the info later. SECTION 27 (Part 6 of 2) This party is hosted by Raoul de la perlimpinpin who has been keeping this party going for a long while. Tonight instead of the usual spiking of the punch, the Hollandaise sauce has been flavored with some grass. Due to this people are asleep on the floor, and whoever is awake is eating everything they can get their hands onto. Slothrop receives “a kraft-paper envelope” to hold onto from swanky Blodget Waxwing - forgerist and arms dealer - to keep safe from Tamara(or Italo?). This he does for good reason as Tamara, for reasons très convoluté, shows up at the party in a Sherman Tank. Slothrop - in true hero fashion - saves the day. He receives a zoot suit and a nice keychain from Waxwing as was promised early. I think this is a prime example of Pynchon’s visual (comedic) imagery! We get some more of this in the next sections (in the Raketwerke). I have read somewhere that this type of scene taps into cinema of this era, yet should not be viewed as Pynchon lauding popular movies, but it more so being a comment on this type of popular entertainment being not so necessarily good for our original thought. (It also exerts a certain amount of control by Them on Us, I guess?) Whilst this may be the case I think Pynchon also does it because he has a lot of fun doing this! It also shows how writers can use popular cinema to their advantage, by borrowing ‘cliché’ images and making them your own. Of further interest is the fact that the loud noise did not cause an erection for Slothrop. Is this simply due to it being a tank and not a rocket? Or “because nobody was looking”, tapping into how an experiment can change when there is an observer vs. no observer? Furthermore, Waxwing says the tank scene did happen, but the scene with the octopus did not. This is because the octopus was planned? And therefore ‘artificial’? But the tank scene ‘natural’ and therefore ‘real’? SECTION 28 (1) part 7 of part 2 Slothrop is reading about Imipolex G and we get some information on this plastic, but als on the scientific history of plastics in general and this one in particular. Of importance is the fact that: “Chemists were no longer to be at the mercy of Nature.” One of these chemists is Laslo Jamf who created Imipolex G for IG Farben ( IG = Interessegemeimschaft = syndicate/ cartel and farben = dyes) . Jamf was originally working Psychochemie AG (previously known as the Grossli Chemical corporation). Grössli was a spinoff from the Sandoz corporation. When the Germans (under the cover of IG Chemie) did business in Switzerland they bought a large chunk of Grössli stock the company was named Psychochemie AG. So both IG Farben and Psychochemie got access to the patent for Imipolex AG. Shell oil has info on Imipolex because of an agreement with Imperial chemicals (which is also partly owned by IG Farben) which stipulates they can sell it in the commonwealth. Psychochemie AG is still alive and kicking in their “old adress in the Schokoladestrasse in that Zürich, Switzerland.” Furthermore, the rockets that are falling on top of London “with the help of a transmitter on the roof of the headquarters of Dutch Shell”, share an “uncanny resemblance to one developed by British Shell at around the same time”. This information is being gathered by Mr. Duncan Sandys at the Shell mex house. A lovely bit of shady corporate dealings fuelled by malice and greed. On the shell mex house, Slothrop stages a hypothetical raid with Waxwing. Wherein they find no signs of Evil but only “a rather dull room”. This prompts a rumination on Duncan Sandy’s role in this supposed plot who is just “a name only a function”, it is unclear where the plot ends and begins: this is due to Them who have made the organization charts (so what is the use in even asking this kind of question. Which leads into the third proverb (and my favorite): “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.” During slothrop’s rereading of the blue parts list which made him aware of imipolex G in the first place he finds a very special type of rocket: “‘S-Gerät, 11/000000.’” This is unusual because there he has come across an I- or J-Gerät but no S-. Furthermore he has not seen a rocket with so many zeroes before. In the Casino Restaurant slothrop finds out (through a newspaper) about the death of his old pal Tantivy Mucker-Mafick. It is unclear whether this happened, if it happened who did it and why. What is clear is that Slothrop is getting increasingly paranoid. He goes to Nice and tries to shake his tail by giving Claude the assistant chef his clothes and stealing a citroen with the keys in it (we find out later that They were still onto him in Nice though, but it’s a nice try!). Slothrop enters a hotel and on the top floor meets a mysterious “old motherly femme de chambre” (chamber maid). He shows her Waxwing’s card and she points him upstairs, where, there is a “kind of penthouse in the middle” here he finds three boys and girls smoking a thin cigarette of ambigious odor (might it be a cigarette dipped in acid? or is it just weed?). He shows them Waxwing’s card; he is not there, but Slothrop will get an id card the day after and a place to sleep. After a rather unpleasant night of sleep filled with visits by various ghosts of the past: Murray Smile, Jenny, Katje and Tantivy. He is woken up by the noise of some American MPs and for the first time feels the threat their voices might hold for any non-American. His papers are brought up to his room. His new guise is Ian Scufflin, English war correspondent (hey that English English you have been learning might do you some good after all). With these new papers he’s off to Zurich! SECTION 28 (2) Part 7 of part 2 After a long train ride he arrives in Zurich. During this ride he noticed the following in the landscape: “The war has been reconfiguring time and space into its own image. The track runs in different networks now. What appears to be destruction is really the shaping of railroad space to other purposes, intentions he can only riding through it for the first time begin to feel the leading edges of…” This is an important description of what the war has been doing and how it will affect the zone later on. He checks into Hotel Nimbus and later makes its way to find the local Waxwing representative: a russian named Semyavin. They talk about information being/ becoming the currency of the world. “Is it any wonder the world’s gone insane with information come to be the only real medium of exchange?” (In the previous discussions Pynchon’s prescience has been a talking point; I find it to be especially strong in this small conversation between Slothrop and semyavin.) Semyavin provides Slothrop with three Zurich cafés that somebody with an interest in industrial espionage should check out. He begins loitering at these places, but is having trouble with sorting the corporate spies from the LOONIES ON LEAVE (from their “fancy asylums”). He is accosted by a chorus of crazies and their keepers. In their song there is talk of entropy management, perpetual motion which has to do with Maxwell’s demon as well. This ties into the help Slothrop has been getting while giving nothing. Not realizing that he, himself is the information by which he is ‘paying’ for the help he’s been getting - as is similar to the way the problem of Maxwell’s demon was solved. Furthermore there is this line where Slothrop is having trouble “telling Nuts from Keepers”. Which to me feels to be about a lot of things amongst which, the question of: who is in control vs. who is being controlled? And also about the maybe-not-so-rigid-difference between a nutcase and a genius. Which ties into Slothrop’s paranoia. Because in everyday use paranoia is seeing a connection between things that are not there, yet in this book it does not seem to be that negative (as Slothrop’s paranoia is by no means uncalled for). So are scientists who have their moment of eureka not paranoid crazies who are right and vice versa? Is a paranoid anything less than a genius who has not been able to prove the connection he sees? Or maybe I’m reading into these lines a bit much… Carrying on! After the crazies have left him alone and some time flies by, Slothrop is chomping down on a bratwurst in Stragelli (one of the three cafés) and meets Mario Schweitar. Schweitar is from Sandoz a member of the swiss chemical cartel from the early 20’s remember? Which evolved into Psychochemie Ag (the German cover company). Slothrop sez: “I’d like anything they got on L. Jamf, a-and on that Imipolex G.’” Slothrop hears that getting this information will be difficult and also that Jamf is dead. For the info he wants, slothrop will need to raise 500 swiss Francs. Semyavin advises him to pawn his zoot. He is not too keen on parting with it. Later he sees a car who is, ostensibly, checking him out, so we receive proverb 4: “You hide they seek”. In another attempt of hiding from them he calls his to his hotel from a restaurant asking: “‘can you possibly tell me if the British chap who’s been waiting in the foyer is still there, know…”’, this backfires, as a variety of people were watching him: they know know he knows. As he’s killing time in the famous Cafe Odeon, he meets Fransisco Squalidozzi. They get friendly and Squalidozzi starts telling him about his heist of a German submarine and of his “plan to seek political asylum in Germany, as soon as the War’s over there…”, Slothrop does not get it as Germany’s a “mess”, Squalidozzi enlightens Slothrop with his perfectly logical reasoning. There is talk of the centralization of Argentina. The need to reign from Buenos Aires (entropy, control all that stuff). There is talk of Labyrinths. Labyrinths and Argentina? Ah there he is: “look at Borges.” Slothrop calls this centralizing progress. Squalidozzi waves slothrops (conservative Western) ideas away for mild insanity instead of rudeness. Squalidozzi further states that the war is changing something inherently: this gives him hope and is why he plans to settle there. There are swiss people who want to assist squalidozzi in his anarchism-in-exile, he needs to get a message to Geneva. Slothrop can help him for some money. Anon, he flies there in a “battered DC-3”. He delivers the message with slickness that would make James Bond jealous. He goes back to Zurich by train, but gets off at a stop earlier at Schlieren in an attempt to lose his tail (which was succesful?). The next day he meets Schweitar to give him half his money in advance. They agree to close the deal (for info on Jamf and Imipolex G) in the mountains by Jamf’s grave. Slothrop is unable to find Squalidozzi though - so he can’t deliver his message to him… Slothrop goes camping by Jamf’s grave and we get treated to this wonderful description of Zurich: “The city below him, bathed now in a partial light is a necropolis of church spires and weathercocks, white castle-keep towers, broad buildings with mansard roofs and windows glimmering by thousands. This forenoon the mountains are as translucent as ice. The lake is mirror-smooth but mountains and houses reflected down there remain strangely blurred with edges fine and combed as raind: a dream of Atlantis, of the Suggenthal. Toy villages, desolate city of painted alabaster…” Schweitar’s delivery boy comes along and gives him the goods. And we switch to Pointsman. See you again in the zone Slothrop! SECTION 29 part 8 of part 2 The white visitation has a small gathering at Whitsun by the sea. We find out they're in a bit of a crisis. They have lost Slothrop in Zurich or at least the secret service did. We recap to a duo called harvey speed and floyd perdoo who were/are investigating Slothrop’s sexual endeavors in London. They don’t do much though aside from eating and bickering with each other. Pointsman is wondering when he is going to see it. He is worrying about data sets and of what can be perceived as truth/ trustworthy (evidentially vs. clinically). Slothrop being missing also causes worries at the Shell mex house, because Slothrop knows about some sensitive rocket stuff. Hehas information that Russians and Americans would be keen to have. Pointsman is also worrying about his team. So he organized a party to up the atmosphere a bit. Pointsman, Mexico, Jessica, Dennis Joint and Katje are present. Mexico is having trouble with Jessica. Dennis Joint is eyeballing Katje who does not seem interested and Pointsman is losing his mind (what a fun get-together!). We also find out that Pirate Prentice has been asking about Katje at PISCES’ new brand office… for reasons unclear (for love or something else?). Pointsman starts up a conversation with Mexico that seems odd even for his standard. Then we find out in accordance with Murphy’s law or Gödels Theorem that there are actual Schwarzkommando’s in Germany (the hereros who will be explained thoroughly in the next sections). We go back to Pointsman losing control the party, the situation, his work, of Katje and of himself. And on this lovely note we end this section and part 2 of Gravity’s Rainbow!
lake tahoe areas takeaways - please help me fill in the gaps
I drove around Lake Tahoe today, trying to get familiar with the different areas. These are my takeaways. Please correct me where I'm wrong or otherwise help me fill in the gaps;:
Heavenly Village and casino area - generally middle class families and unestablished people a la Sherman Oaks (LA neighborhood) although some upper middle class people here and there who generally blend in.
Incline Village - highly affluent. I was super impressed by Pinion Dr. Every house looked like $10M+. The town center was cute and the people there seemed nice/pleasant. Parts of Incline Village are exclusive ie you have to show a neighborhood card in order to access their beach.
Northstar - Solidly affluent. The Ritz Carlton is there and looks like a rich people club. I wouldn't be surprised if this RC requires you to be a hotel guest in order to eat/drink at their restaurant and bar (this is generally not required at fancy hotels)
Cave Rock Beach - Generally middle class, some with money. I saw a guy get into a Mercedes AMG bi-turbo when I was leaving.
Kings Beach - Generally middle to upper middle class. Downtown has plenty of stores. Would be a good choice for a lot of people. Most people would probably not feel alienated.
A day or two ago, I posted here if I can get a list of all types of classification of key, value is OSM. I was referred to : https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Map_Features. Which was helpful because it was legit and contained all the information I needed. But as it is way too big. It was hard for me handle. So I wrote a python script and made it easy. Source code is available under MIT license in GitHub : https://github.com/maifeeulasad/OSM-feature-extract-python. Anyone fell free to contribute and find out issues in the project. Thanks everyone, specially to u/pietervdvn and u/maxerickson. Here is the result, the latest version of the result can be found in readme in GitHub. I will be trying to host these data as much as possible. Anyone interested can contact with me. For API call this : API features
Health for Life (Crismon) - Mesa, AZ (MPX-Owned) 9949 E Apache Trail, Mesa, AZ 85207 (OpenedApril 6, 2018)
Health for Life (East) - Mesa, AZ (MPX-Owned) 7343 S 89th Pl, Mesa, AZ 85212
Health for Life (North) - Mesa, AZ (MPX-Owned) 5550 E McDowell Rd, Mesa, AZ 85215
The Holistic Center AZ - Phoeniz, AZ (MPX-Owned) 21035 N Cave Creek Rd C-5, Phoenix, AZ 85024
Catalina Hills Care - Tucson, AZ 12152 N Rancho Vistoso Blvd, Oro Valley, AZ 85755
Green Hills Patient Center - Show Low, AZ 3191 S White Mountain Rd, Show Low, AZ 85901
High Desert Healing - Lake Havasu, AZ 1691 Industrial Blvd, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403
Kompo - Taylor, AZ 600 Centennial Blvd, Snowflake, AZ 85937
Leaf Life - Casa Grande, AZ 1860 N Salk Dr B1, Casa Grande, AZ 85122
Metro Meds - Phoenix, AZ 10040 N Metro Pkwy W, Phoenix, AZ 85051
OASIS - Chandler, AZ 26427 S Arizona Ave #8223, Chandler, AZ 85248
The Good Dispensary - Mesa, AZ 1842 W Broadway Rd, Mesa, AZ 85202
The Mint Dispensary - Tempe, AZ 5210 S Priest Dr, Tempe, AZ 85283
The Prime Leaf - Tucson, AZ 4220 E Speedway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85712
Uncle Herbs Dispensary - Payson, AZ 200 N Tonto St, Payson, AZ 85541
Urban Greenhouse - Phoenix, AZ 2630 W Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85017
Yavapai Herbal Services - Cottonwood, AZ 675 E State Route 89A Cottonwood, AZ 86326
Botanica - Tucson, AZ 6205 N Travel Center Drive Tucson, AZ 85741
Relocated Production Facility: North Mesa, AZ Annual Capacity *Phase One - 150,000 grams of MPX-branded products (Currently in Operation) *Phase Two - 400,000+ grams (Scheduled for completion in calendar Q3 2018) *Phase Three - 800,000+ grams (Schedule for completion in calendar Q4 2018) New production facility will increase production capacity 2-4x: 11:31 , 25:11
“This acquisition represents a solid addition to our industry and presence in Arizona, a State that offers MPX one of the best-regulated, yet industry-supportive markets in the country,” said W. Scott Boyes, MPX’s Chairman, President and CEO. “The entities being acquired have recorded trailing 12-month revenues of US$15 million and EBITDA of approximately US$3.5 million and its results will be immediately accretive to MPX earnings. Furthermore, the acquired companies are well-managed and will allow both parties to share best practises and benefit from the ability to share purchase economies. With the pending opening of our Apache Junction dispensary, the addition of the Holistic Center, will bring the number of dispensaries managed by MPX in the greater Phoenix market to four, will more than double our cultivation capacity and will materially complement our management team in the State. Adding to our critical mass of operations, this acquisition will add to MPX’s ability to benefit from purchasing economies, spread the administrative overhead costs over a larger revenue base and provide cash flows to support additional growth.”
Beth Stavola, COO and President of MPX’s U.S. operations, adds “With our fourth dispensary opening soon in the Apache Junction suburb and our expanded concentrate production facilities coming on-stream this month, we expect to see our Arizona revenues continue to expand over the next several fiscal quarters. The Arizona program is well-regulated by AZDHS, the patient count continues to grow, the supply and cost of flower and trim for re-sale and concentrate production is excellent and, while the Phoenix area market is increasingly competitive, retail prices and margins remain attractive. This is a great state for MPX to conduct business in.”
TORONTO, April 09, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- MPX Bioceutical Corporation (“MPX” or the “Company”) (CSE:MPX) (OTC:MPXEF) is pleased to announce that the official opening of the its newest “Health for Life” medical marijuana dispensary in the Metropolitan Phoenix area, located at the junction of E. Main and Crimson in the suburb of Apache Junction. This brings the number of dispensaries under MPX management in Arizona’s Sun Valley to four. The Crimson dispensary will meet the needs of patients in this comparatively underserviced southeast quadrant of the region by making available the full spectrum of MPX concentrates, an extensive variety of cannabis flower, and a broad selection of 3rd party, processed cannabis-infused edibles. The Company also announces that it has relocated the processing and production of MPX concentrates to a new location in North Mesa. Phase one of the build-out at this facility, now in operation, will immediately double the current production capacity of MPX-branded products in Arizona to approximately 150,000 grams annually. The second phase scheduled for completion early in calendar Q3 will increase potential production to over 400,000 grams per year and the final phase expected in calendar Q4 will result in annualized capacity increasing to a total in excess of 800,000 grams annually with a wholesale value (at current prices) of approximately US$18 million.
The company, which is building a facility to grow and process marijuana for medicine, sold 51 percent of its real estate and management companies to The Canadian Bioceutical Corp., for $5.1 million. The agreement was announced Tuesday. The company is in the process of building a 50,000-square-foot facility on Innovation Way, next door to Amazon and Mass Biologics, the medical research and testing facility run by the University of Massachusetts.
TORONTO, Ontario, June 15, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Canadian Bioceutical Corporation (the “Company” or “BCC”) (CSE:BCC) (OTC:CBICF) today announced that further to its press release of April 4, 2017, the Company, through its wholly-owned subsidiary CGX Life Sciences, Inc. (CGX), has completed the acquisition of a 51% interest in IMT, LLC and Fall River Developments, LLC (“FRD”), Massachusetts registered companies active in the cannabis space.
The marijuana industry has become a popular spot for Fall River. According to MPX Bioceutical Corp, construction of a 40,000 square foot marijuana cultivation/processing facility on Innovation Way in Fall River, Massachusetts is targeted to be complete in the summer of this year with cultivation beginning in the third quarter of 2018. Cannatech Medicinals, who is owned by MPX Bioceutical Corp, has been working on the facility next to Amazon. They have also commenced construction on the first of three dispensaries in Massachusetts, including one at 160 Hartwell Street in Fall River near the Applebee’s restaurant. The Hartwell Street location will get their supply from the Innovation Way facility.
CannaTech Medicinals; Hope, Heal, Health; and Northeast Alternatives will all be in the running for licenses to grow and sell marijuana for the recreational market. Recreational sales are scheduled to start July 1. CannaTech Medicinals is building a 50,000-square-foot growing facility and processing laboratory in the biopark on Innovation Way. It is also building a dispensary off Hartwell Street.
Under "RMD information", the current status of all registered marijuana dispensaries and applicants through April 27 2018 - Entries #35-37 - Cannatech Medicinals, Inc.:
*- Only two of three have "Proposed Dispensary Locations" (Fall River, Attleboro) *- No siting profile has been submitted for the third dispensary yet, invited to submit on December 12, 2017 (same date as Attleboro)
I'm guessing that they will be selling MPX concentrates through these dispensaries as they have done in Arizona and Nevada once their production facility is operational. I'll wait for the press release and theMelting Point Extracts site to update before factoring that into their footprint.
MPX Bioceutical Corporation (the “Company” or “MPX”) (CSE:MPX) (OTC:MPXEF) today announced that the Company, through its indirect wholly-owned subsidiary, S8 Management, LLC (“S8 Management”), is entering into a management agreement (the “Management Agreement”) with LMS Wellness, Benefit LLC (“LMS”) which will result in MPX building and managing a full service medical cannabis dispensary in the White Marsh suburb of Baltimore, Maryland.
Photo caption: A medical marijuana company has signed a lease for the space at 4909 Fairmont Ave., next to the mural. A medical marijuana dispensary is coming to a long-dormant space on Fairmont Avenue in downtown Bethesda. Rich Greenberg, of Greenhill Capital, which owns the building, said Budding Rose LLC signed the lease for the roughly 1,900-square-foot space about six months ago. He said work is ongoing to fit out the interior to meet the dispensary’s needs, and he wasn’t sure when the shop would be ready to open.
The management agreements with Budding Rose and Rosebud will result in MPX subsidiaries now operating three medical cannabis enterprises in the State of Maryland. The first management agreement with LMS Wellness, Benefit LLC was announced on December 12, 2017. Rosebud is one of only 14 licenses issued to process cannabis derivatives in the State of Maryland. The facility is completely built-out and when fully operational will be capable of producing 825,000 grams of MPX-branded cannabis concentrates per annum. Budding Rose will operate a dispensary in a high-traffic area of downtown Bethesda, Maryland, in close proximity to the Walter Reed Military Medical Center and National Institutes of Health. Bethesda, Maryland is located within the Capital Beltway and is one of the wealthiest communities in the Capital Region. The dispensary is currently under construction and is expected to be operational in late February of this year.
GreenMart will operate a dispensary, under the “Health for Life” brand, in a high-traffic area of Baltimore, Maryland, situated off of North Point Road in the community of Colgate. The location is conveniently located near Interstate Routes 695, 95 and US Route 40 and a 15-minute drive from Baltimore’s Inner Harbour, Canton Waterfront, Federal Hill, and Fells Point. Within 2 miles of the location sits Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, a teaching hospital within the world renowned John Hopkins Health System. GreenMart has been welcomed and supported by the community leaders of Colgate. The dispensary is currently under construction and is expected to be operational in April 2018 of this year.
First chapter here: https://www.reddit.com/HFY/comments/cbg4gs/damage_control_chapter_1/ So, this one's going to be a deep cut. If you haven't read the novels I've done before, this story throws you in at the deep end, and it spoils at least one major plot point from the 6th novel, Skin Hunger, as well as several other major plot points from other novels. If you want to catch up with that stuff, https://hellskitchensink.com/ check it out here. If you'd just like to jump into things, this is what matters: There are Atlanteans, an apparently fish-like race who have recently revealed themselves to humans, who have a population of approximately 50,000 and who are on the verge of extinction, and who were recently partially responsible for a near-catastrophe involving a war between a psychotic god of dreams and a primordial entity of stasis, and are trying to make amends. There is supernatural craziness. There is a top secret branch of the US Military- or possibly intelligence services, or maybe even just running loose- referred to as the Esoteric Forces of the United States. There's a lot of damage to control. ----
Chapter 3: Hel
USEF Report Dagon, section C (Culture), Paragraph 5-11, Rank HEL-6 Almost all of the 'threat' posed by the Atlanteans is, fundamentally, cultural. It is also largely unintentional. While the Atlantean capacity to develop gods is formidable compared to individual humans, their population is .001% that of humanity, and their rate of population increase is hovering at just shy of 0%. They cannot meaningfully invade us, and they sacrificed the element of surprise that could- conceivably- have let them conquer us. They are not a threat directly, and any genocidal actions on our part would not change that- The damage the Atlanteans can do has already been done. Obviously, the reverse is not true. The Atlanteans are a very small, discreet, and largely insular minority. These have historically been poorly treated in America, and literally every other nation. While legislation has been passed to recognize them as a protected minority, the current administration has shown a certain disregard. The survival of the Atlantean culture is threatened in a number of ways, not least the possibility of a repeat of the Neanderthal extinction. There is substantial evidence that humans and Neanderthals crossbred. This no doubt contributed to the gradual extinction of the Neanderthal. The possibility that someday the only sign remaining of the Atlanteans will be a certain cast of the eyes, a certain hair color, or a few dozen introns on the end of a DNA strand, is disconcertingly likely. Back to the issue of culture. Atlantean culture is broadly monarchic. Because of its small population and strained resources, collectivism has been endemic. These traits are likely to fade, but because of the long lifespans and conservative attitudes of older Atlanteans, this fading is likely to take place over decades, or even centuries. Many younger Atlanteans have begun to emigrate, many of them to other countries. This is a pain in the ass for security purposes, as almost all Atlanteans have access to information that is destabilizing, but the most we can hope to do is mitigate cultural harm by encouraging their integration. Large Atlantean populations- a thousand or more- have settled in the mouth of the Amazon River, the Thames, on the eastern shores of Puerto Rico, on the coast of New Orleans, and off the shore of Kyushu. Smaller populations- a hundred or more- have taken up shelter off Australia by Rottnest Island, the Vietnam coast near Hai Phong, in the Mozambique Channel by Madagascar, south of the Canary Islands, the Strait of Gibraltar, Copenhagen's bays, in the Baltic Sea, the Caspian Sea, and a sizable population in Lake Erie, right by Buffalo. The largest political push that the Atlanteans have been showing is for renewable energy sources and less water pollution. The Atlantean Queen, Ku-kaili-moku-polemo, has made a dramatic push for intervention in the Pacific Trash Gyre. There have notably been no Atlantean populations settled in India or China, possibly a commentary on the state of their ecological systems and water pollution; Unfortunately, this has also been a cause for increased tensions between the two nascent superpowers and the USA. More domestically, Atlanteans have managed to tap into the 'Crystal Spires and Togas' new age movement. While not fitting the classical Greek image of Atlanteans, their spirituality has attracted adherents to a number of small schools of meditation. While these might be uncharitably referred to as cults, the Atlantean attitude towards divinity and free will has largely kept them on the 'church' side of the divide. While the media has questioned the wisdom of Atlantean teachings being spread in the wake of the near-catastrophe last September, the EFUS attitude has been that creating a home-grown population of human divingeneers is worth the relatively small risk; We can't get this genie back in the bottle, but we can ask it for a few wishes. Chief Researcher Cherry H. Verne The helicopter was a misery. Loud, suspended above the ground, uncomfortably exposed. The jet, on the other hand, was a wonder. It moved through the air with only the most modest occasional turbulence, high above the clouds. I stared out of one of the windows, my breath caught in my throat as I watched the clouds drift far below, like sand dunes deep beneath the sea. Even the fastest currents of Atlantis had been limited compared to this speed. Atlantis had been small, and centralized. The humans lived across the vast and desiccated skin of their world, and sometimes they had to get from place to place quickly. Without the advantages of being able to leap between worlds with the intercedence of their gods, they came to novel solutions. It was not as convenient, but it wound up pushing them to greater heights. We travelled at speeds where the air itself became a kind of fluid, thick and turbulent, full of currents and doldrums. It was glorious. "Fucking son of a bitch," growled Miller. "The news got out. The Exquisition and the Peers are sending a delegation to join us. Using the goddamn Concorde. They'll be there before we will." His eyes flickered over to Smith, narrowing. "I know you like to think of us as having our lips fastened thoroughly to the royal teat, you metallic fuck, but I loathe those imperialist assholes. Not least because we both know they will demand the death of the Archmage. I didn't leak word, and nobody I told would. On the other hand..." Her eyes drifted over to Pagan. The Major sat on the far side of the aisle in the small craft, silently listening to the conversation. "The official policy of the Mexican Government is that any supernatural being found to be contravening the law in aid of organized crime, or taking the life of a human, is to be executed." The unspoken subtext in that statement was clear to everyone. The Mexican authorities would not want anyone to find out about any deals they cut. They would have good reason to keep the mission a secret. So, had someone betrayed one another? Or was the presence of an Archmage just that difficult to hide? How on earth had everything devolved so quickly? Miller groaned. "It gets worse. Chatter suggests that the Tongxinheli and the Indian Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation have learned about this, too. They're likely to get involved." "And they are hardly known for throwing away a useful resource," said Smith, teeth gritted. "Fucking arrogant pricks. What are they thinking?" "That the United States is unlikely to go to war over a man who, according to official statements, doesn't actually exist. They'll be out of their environment, though. They won't have access to heavy equipment- I don't care how secret the supernatural is, East Asian ordinance going off on U.S. soil is going to go over like a lead balloon. Their supernatural advantage will be..." He chewed the words for a moment, frowning. "Harder to judge. Both are capable of substantial, if inconsistent, supernatural power multipliers." "I am sorry," I said, finally pressured by sheer curiosity. "But- these groups-" "The Tonxinheli is a grab bag of mainland hick priests, Hong Kong triads, Tibetan monks working under duress, and Mongolian shamans, all being pressured- financially, diplomatically, or personally- by the Chinese government. The Ministry..." His face darkened. "They feed people to monsters," said Smith. "Usually poor, or undesirable." "No actual evidence of that," grumbled Miller, but not very loudly. "They've got some nasty alliances in the supernatural world. Blood's a lot closer to the skin, down there. Her Majesty's Most Loyal Exquisition is British. They mostly deal with faeries, because the fuckers are thick as flies over there, but we usually have close relations with them. The Peers started as an old knightly order descending from Charlemagne, and rose to prominence after World War 2 turned the Franco-German border into the largest source of Undead ever. There are rumors of a 'Bloody War' that they were involved in before that, but mostly, they're a bunch of overly religious technology-obsessed freaks." "You are playing an incredibly brave card there, metal-boy," said Smith, an eyebrow raised. "I did this to myself because I was suffering from severe PTSD, quadrapalegia, and had been manipulated by a psychotic monster. They did it because they thought pacts were unholy." He looked out the window, his brow wrinkled. "This is bad. This is fucked up on a scale that defies simple Murphy's Law. Everything's coming together too quickly." He shook his head. "Hope we're not putting our foot in another hornet's nest." I tried to think of something comforting to say, some way to encourage my superior officer. None were obvious to me. I settled for patting his shoulder companionably. "What is our plan, Sergeant?" "Twofold. We need to strike fast and hard when we get in, which means dividing." He gritted his teeth. "I hate to do this to you, not least because I want you close by where you can watch for ambushes, but I need you to check out the hotel. See what you can find out there. Any chance you can track down what supernaturals were in there?" "I can promise nothing, but if anyone can..." "Good." Miller nodded to the two foreign officials and the four men who had stayed silent in the back of the plane, dressed in heavy black fatigues, masks covering their faces, heavy weapons sleeved over their shoulders. The men were anonymous, but I could read them beneath those masks. Pulses of belief both strong and weak- One nostalgia, one fear, one anger, one loathing like I'd never seen, one joy and innocence, one ambivalent melancholy. I could see such things in the unguarded, and often, those who wore masks left their souls very bare indeed. "What will you be doing, Sergeant, if I may ask?" "The mission profile says that our man was bilking a local casino, the Treasure Chest, using... Well, they weren't entirely clear, but he'd won enough money to be odd. There's a possibility he may be going for one last big score there. Major Pagan, Jissika Smith, and I will be keeping an eye there. Privates, you'll be keeping an eye on the local traffic and making sure he doesn't rabbit without us knowing about it. If we don't find him in the next few hours, it's going to be damned near impossible to figure out where he goes. And if he goes to ground..." He didn't have to finish the statement. This was a man who could afford to spend decades in hiding. The plane landed in New Orleans, where we were studiously ignored by the locals. On the streets, I drew more than a few surprised glances as I walked, and even the occasional venomous look. There were a handful of Atlanteans in the city, but I did not keep my eye out for them. I slipped through the crowd without notice or care, making my way towards the hotel where the scene had been found. The police had not yet been notified. The scene of the crime was untouched. As I entered, I was struck by several things. The lack of blood, for one thing. The fact that, aside from the now-clearly-severed arm, there was no sign of the men supposedly murdered in this room. The lingering aroma of divinity. And finally, a slender, hard-knuckled fist. I awoke, in a large metallic room. A slender young man who nonetheless had wrinkles around the corners of his eyes from too much smiling was studying me. "Are you alright?" he asked, softly, in heavily accented English. "Sorry about the blow. Are you well?" Had I been a person entirely unlike myself, I might have responded violently. Sent current surging through the metal walls, fried every other person within, fought and struggled. Instead, I nodded. "You didn't strike anything particularly vital. Blow to the head, but I do not feel murky, or concussed." I studied him for a moment. He was slender, not very old, and his head was shaved bare. His warm brown eyes twinkled, and he wore a loose saffron robe. He had hit me at least as hard as Miller could, and he blazed with oddly tinted belief. Practically a furnace. The others... Three of them were humans. One of them was tall, broad-shouldered, a pair of black sunglasses over his eyes, dressed in a white business suit. A gun sat in a holster under one armpit, and a leather bag under the other. The second was dressed like a tourist, a colorful T-shirt, shorts, and sandals. He sat with the same ramrod stiffness I had seen in Pagan. The third had his hair up in a bright white turban, wrapped elegantly, with an impressive mane of black hair surrounding his face on all sides. I knew something of the significance of the garment to certain religions, but I did not recognize this specific variant off hand. This man was- I studied my memories- Latino, or Indian, judging by his features. The others were East Asian, I thought. Chinese, I decided, from the context of who was expected to get involved. The last person in the truck was not human in the least. Nearly seven feet tall, skin black not like a human's but like a burn victim's. Wiry but with muscles like coconuts stuffed into a stocking, her proportions were almost comical, massive tusks forcing her mouth open, growing in place of her canines. A long, red tongue hung out of her mouth, dripping reddish saliva onto the floor almost constantly. "" said the man in the tourist's clothing, "" He was speaking Mandarin Chinese. I had taken the time to learn Mandarin. The tonal nature of the language was unusual, but I had mastered it quickly. "You are safe," said the young man who had hit me. "What are you?" I asked, frowning as I studied him. That belief- Was it belief? Or divinity? He did not feel like a god, but he was not entirely human, either. I had read files about the human phenomenon of 'Heroes'- those who were, in a sense, gods made out of still-living humans. Was this what they looked like? "A humble monk," he said, bowing his head once. "" said the man who I now strongly suspected was the leader of this small group. "Does he speak English?" I asked, feigning lack of knowledge. Their assumptions were a useful tool. "He understands it," said the monk, giving me a warm smile. "I am more proficient, so he asks me to translate his words, so they are not misinterpreted. We are aware that the Atlanteans have made many agreements with the Americans. You more than many. We wish to offer you an alternative." "" "You have a choice in the matter, of course. We do not intend to abduct you. But if you should wish to explore your options, to experience what another government may be willing to offer, you can." He was elaborate. Eloquent. Trying to confuse his compatriots, whose English was not as good. I wondered about the wisdom of sending only one man who understood English so well. "Monk," said the man in the white business suit and the sunglasses, and his English sounded like he'd spent his entire life in the south, "don't go scarin' the lady by acting all vague and odd." He stepped forward, and settled down on his heels, coming level with me, eye to eye. "The monk's in this job because the government leans on his people, because that's the only way he'll work. The Political Officer there is here to make sure that he doesn't go AWOL. But I'm here because the PRC pays damn well. What you're looking for, what you want, they can provide. You just have to be willing to work together with them." "" asked the black-skinned creature, in some ancient and esoteric dialect of Hindi. "" murmured the man in the turban, in the same near-forgotten language. "" Alright, perhaps I cheat a bit in learning languages. Being able to read the soul of a man makes understanding them much easier when they speak. It was not the kind of talent I would ever broadcast. People were far more honest if they believed you could not understand them. I would hate to take that comfort from them. "What do you want from me?" I asked, allowing a tiny hint of the trepidation and fear I felt ease into my words. "" said the man in charge. "" "Nothing serious. We were alerted by contacts in the US government of a..." The man with the sunglasses paused, and frowned at the monk. "Bodhisattva?" asked the monk, amusement flickering in his eyes. "Of a very potent being," said the man in the sunglasses, forehead wrinkled in an obvious glare at the monk. "Since your people ain't been interested in joining the PRC, they've been... understandably tense. We find out about something that could give the Americans a greater advantage. Understandably, we want to avoid that." He smiled. "And if we can persuade you to give us a greater advantage, as well..." "I... I'm not sure. If I were to betray them- There could be repercussions. Strikes against my people." "" said the man in charge. "" "We just need a distraction. A chance to help this guy- Victim of at least a couple of genocides- escape from the governments that perpetuated those genocides." The man in the glasses smiled. "You know about the Westerners’ history. We never did anything like that." I did not correct him. "How will I contact you?" "Don't worry about that. We will know." The man in sunglasses winked as he patted me companionably on the shoulder. "Magic." I did not detect magic. I did detect the faint spark of electricity in the tiny thing he'd planted on my shoulder. It had sunk into the slick material of the raincoat. "" asked the political officer. The man in sunglasses smiled. "Consider it. Whatever you're looking for, we can certainly offer it." "I'll think about it," I said, letting the nervousness flow through my words. Disguising the planning, the certainty, that hid beneath. I would not switch sides. There were a thousand reasons, but they all condensed down to one. The game of sides was just that: A game. It was a distraction, and in the face of annihilation, a lethal one. These humans were positioning themselves to have the strongest position on the chessboard after it had been set on fire. The most logical solution to this was to destroy them, utterly, giving them no choice but to throw their efforts behind the EFUS. It was my side- By chance, but that was reason enough. As they stopped the truck- We had apparently been in the back of an 18-wheeler- and allowed me to return to the city, I strategized internally. If I simply alerted Miller or destroyed the scrying device, it would scare them off. Let the prey know that they had been scented. But if they committed themselves to the conflict, they would be forced to see it through. I studied the bug, and my brows knit. It was delicate, finer than an eyelash. That such a small, inconsequential thing could be used to track me, to transmit sound, was... impressive. Also annoying. I would have to avoid discharge. There was no question that something so delicate would be destroyed by the shocks I could produce. The phone in my pocket rang. I took it out, fumbling with the interface. The phone was a phenomenal device, though a strange one. An invisible network of oracles, allowing people across the world to speak, find information, plan things. I had seen the way humans cared for theirs, placed so much belief and thought into them. The only thing that kept them from awakening was that they were fragile, and not built to last. That was a terrible crime, to me and my people. To make a tool that was disposable. To create a tool that was never meant to be more. You built to last, because that was how you made a tool truly great, growing more potent with the years. This... I tried to think of the words to describe it. Child soldiers. Cancer-ridden fetuses. A thousand dark images. Then I hit the 'answer' button, because it had been ringing for nearly half a minute while I stared blankly. "Yes?" "Yeagerta! It's nearly sunset, I've called you three times, what's the news?" I shook my head. Strategy. "I was-" I let the silence hang for just a moment, as though I was planning to tell Miller. Showing the foreign agents what they expected, a self-interested person who thought themselves loyal, who had to talk themselves into betrayal. "Distraction. It took longer than I thought to sniff out the crime scene. I'm on my way now, and I've got bad news." "Shit. How bad?" "Your men might not be dead. They might just be hostages." "Aaaaah, double-shit! We tracked him down to the Treasure Chest Casino, but... Well, things are a little bit fraught here. Get here as quick as you can, I could use a voice of reason, or alternatively, another pair of fists." "Yes, Sergeant." I made my way to the address, up the stairs into a cheap motel, and into a doorway. I knocked twice, and the door opened. Major Pagan had a large machete in one hand, standing halfway out of her chair. She settled as she recognized me, and the ivory-handled machete disappeared like smoke in the wind. Jissika Smith had been holding a slender bone needle, carved in scrimshaw. The other three members of the room were somewhat less calm. The man and the woman in elegant evening dress were in a pact, I could tell- And the woman was visibly not human, her skin the color of silver, tall, thin, elfin, almost as tall as me. She stood with her long, delicate hands folded in front of her, the man with a drink in hand, the scent of sharp alcohol filling the air. The last... Well, I couldn't guess at their gender... was actually quite like Miller. The lines of electricity were not as all-encompassing as in him, but still encompassed the limbs, and significant portions of the torso. They sat at the corner, a weapon still drawn. I didn't recognize it, precisely, but it hummed softly, and clearly had a right side and a wrong side. The wrong side was aimed at me. "Fuck's sake, Anseis, you crazy bitch, she's more human than you or I am." The weapon was slowly raised towards the ceiling. The woman, superficially, did not look particularly odd. She was delicately built, slender, with skin as pale as milk, and rich golden hair, blue eyes piercing and cold. She was androgynous to the point that Miller's description of her was the only reason I could settle on 'female', and the long leather jacket she wore seemed wholly inappropriate for the hot, muggy environs. "You were studying the crime scene. Any sign of their assailants?" "Four demons. The archmage himself was not there. All of the demons left substantial traces of power. I'd say centuries old, at least, maybe more. I don't know what they were exactly, but..." "Four?" said the British man, an eyebrow raised. "You could distinguish them? Hell's bells, the man has four pacts?" "I suspect so," said Miller. "The mechanics aren't well-known, but being able to make and raise your own supernatural flying monkeys is probably going to make it simpler. So, one big, fat target, and at least four unknown bogies." He looked up. "I bet you've got a solution in place already." "The Heinlein is within firing distance, isn't it?" said Anseis. "An obvious solution suggests itself. Archmage or not..." "I'll accept any solutions that don't involve firing a weapon of mass destruction at a riverboat full of American citizens," said Miller. "I'd suggest coming up behind him and slitting his throat," said the British man, a slender stiletto appearing in his hand as quickly as Pagan's machete had disappeared from hers. "But if he were that easy to take down, I suspect someone already would have." "Three teams," said Miller. "One team evacuates the ship. That's Jissika, Punk Barnes, and Lady Featherbottom. One team confronts him- That's you and me, Anseis, we've got the best chance at surprising him or being able to take whatever he's got waiting for him. If there are any civilians hurt as collateral damage, I'm ripping you limb from limb. Then the last team- Major, and Yeagerta- You commandeer the ship. Once it's empty, you take control, move us away from the docks and out into open water." "He may be able to escape the ship regardless," said Anseis, her eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Yes. But he'll also be where a round from the Heinlein won't kill anyone I care about." This brought a smile to Anseis' lips, though not to her eyes. It was interesting, the way time skipped. It could move at a snail's pace as adrenaline and fear and violence made the brain rush, made it record every moment in brutal slow motion in the vain hope that it could make the right decisions. It could speed by like a shark through a current when nothing was happening and too much awareness would drive you mad with boredom. I observed the way the time passed, fast as lightning, until the moment when Pagan pushed open the door. "Department of Homeland Security," I said, holding up a forgery so good that the government didn't realize it was a forgery. "We've got reports of a lone wolf terrorist on the ship. You need to evacuate immediately while we get the situation under control." The men in the boat’s wheelhouse didn't argue. They looked happy enough for the unexpected vacation, if slightly worried about their prospects for employment tomorrow. Pagan checked the ship's controls, while I watched the screens. The British man and his fairy lady, along with Jissika, guiding the last of the passengers off of the ship. Unmooring it. The people on the ship were slowly streaming off, Miller and Anseis pushing through them, watching the crowd. "So," said Pagan, conversationally. "You joined the EFUS. Why?" "Chance," I said, checking for any sign of our target. "That doesn't seem like a very good reason," said Pagan, an eyebrow lifted. "It's why every patriot does what they do." “Really?” She smiled. “But you were not an American. You had a choice. You came into this world, and you chose them.” “Geographical convenience. And… I suppose… a lingering debt.” I smiled half-heartedly. “It was an American who saved our queen, and another American who offered us shelter. I am confident that any country would have done the same.” “Optimist,” she said, and there was a wry smile on her face. I realized I was seeing her amused. And there, in the main casino floor, in front of an unfamiliar but colorful table, a very short Native American man stood with a grin, one leg crossed in front of the other, leaning back against the table, cornered by Anseis and Sergeant Miller. He was dressed in an extremely fine black suit. I flicked a switch, and sound came through from a black grill beneath the screen. The man- I had to assume the Archmage- was speaking. "-already in place, ready to carry out simultaneous strikes throughout Washington D.C. You're already too late to stop me. I might remember it under torture, if you want to try." "My heart weeps," said Aneis. "I invite you to tell us, or I will shoot you-" It was amazing how quickly things went wrong. The entire ship lurched, throwing the three agents on the ship's edge onto the dock, tearing it free of its burdens. On screen, Aneis let out a single sharp scream of rage as something huge and sharp-toothed latched onto her leg, and then she was gone, water gushing up through the jagged hole in the floor. Miller was wrestling with a small, slender girl, built like a waif, who was also apparently overpowering him in a bear-hug, while a big man with bizarrely long and well-groomed facial hair, sticking out like whiskers, lunged at him from the side. The Archmage laughed, and was gone like a shot, running for the deck. "Things are going downhill," I said. "I'm going to go stop him from getting away." "Hey, if you run off with him and the US starts fielding a bunch of Archmages, I'm going to gut you," Pagan said, her voice calm and matter-of-fact even as I set out onto the deck. The short man was glaring down at the water, his arms crossed. "You are under arrest," I said. "I don't think I am," he responded, and I blinked. "I'm sorry to hear that. Would you rather be dead? Several of us want you dead." I studied him quietly. Were those listening to me already moving in? Had they taken the bait yet? If I could capture him... "You know, what I don't get is, you Atlanteans were being wiped out by humans. That's why you left, right? Ever since you came back, I've been turning it over and over in my head. Why would you come back? Why would you side with the people who genocided you before?" I blinked. "Because times change." "Really?" He grunted. "Give me another ten thousand years to think about it, maybe I'd be ready to make peace too. But I'm not quite there yet." He judged the water again. "I really am much faster than you in the water," I said. "Even if your abomination tries to stop me, I am definitely going to kill it, and catch you." "My! You're very certain about that." He looked over his shoulder at me, and grinned. "I've been doing this for a very long time." "So have I. Why?" "Why what? There are a lot of answers." "Why did you leave the spider there? She didn't have orders, or training. She was just an abandoned thing." "She was a tool," said the man, still distracted. "A thing to be used, and disposed of. That's what they all are." "Demons?" "People." He looked up, and his grin was wide and a little bit frightening. "Oh, those two bought the 'I'm fighting for my poor benighted people' thing, but fuck my people. Fuck them all. They thought that they knew what I was. Words like Yeahnáglóshii, Skinwalker... They thought they knew what I was. They thought it was simple. That I was neglecting my duty, that I was a monster, a freak, because I didn't believe that a simple accident of birth meant that the tribe was owed my power." He looked up at me, his head tilted. "God, all of this is going right over your head, isn't it? You're like me. A freak of nature. And because you're guilty about it, you'll spend your life trying to make up for the gift you were given." "It is funny," I said, though it was about as far from funny as it could be. "I never even considered that. I was always grateful that I could do something, anything, to help the people I loved. And while I hate demons, I could never imagine treating a tool so carelessly." I tilted my head. "Why do you do all of this?" He grinned. "Why not?" It was about the least heartening answer I could have gotten. “Are there really demons set to terrorize Washington?” “Yeah. They’re called Senators. I was just fucking with those two, seeing how they’d react under stress. It’s always interesting, isn’t it? Being above them all. Watching them play their games, and knowing that you’re playing a far more interesting game.” "Get down on the ground." "You know, I'd fight you, but-" He winced. "Looks like three of the four demons I spent centuries cultivating, strengthening, have just died. That's a blow." He shrugged. "I can always make more, though." He turned towards me, grinning. "I can still take you on with just one." "I'd like to see that." He straightened his shoulders, and grinned cheerfully, lifting one arm theatrically, his sleeve slipping down to the shoulder, exposing the bronzed, wrinkled skin. "Nothing up my sleeve, and presto change-o!" He blurred. I was already in motion as he jumped into the air, and I felt him slip through my fingers. Conservation of mass and energy did extremely strange things as he rocketed up nearly twenty feet in the shape of a small, very fluffy white bunny. A massive owl swept down out of the darkness, its divine energy muted so that I hadn't noticed it above me, and then was gone again, winging towards the swamps along the river with the archmage. I brushed my arms as I stood up, annoyed that I hadn't caught him, but watching. The ship was already shifting to follow him at a fast clip, and there was only so long a bird like that could fly. Sergeant Miller stepped onto the ship's deck, looking well-worn. He was missing an arm, and I stared for a moment. "Sergeant, are you okay?" "Fine, fine," he said, absently, glaring around the deck. "Tell me he didn't get away while I was putting down that fucking goonch." "What? Oh, no. We are in pursuit." I looked forward, narrowing my eyes. "Swamp village. Old, looks abandoned. We're maybe five or six miles away from it, going at ten knots." "Yeah?" said the sergeant, and he frowned. "Oddly detailed." "Just keeping my eye out, Miller," I said, and hoped he understood what I was saying. "Couldn't taze him?" "Not at the moment, Miller." "Huh." He nodded, his eyes on me for a very long moment. I hated the games. USEF Report Pallas, Appendix B (Known Accomplices), Paragraphs 69-76 Rank HEL-8 Not all of Athena's contacts and accomplices are as celebrated as the Cat of Paris. She is, after all, the Patron of Heroes, and this sometimes involves choosing people who no one would ever take for exceptional. Atina LeRoux is on the lowest end of these. Middle-class family, relatively unremarkable childhood marked only by a brief hours-long visit to a mental institution after she told a classmate she wanted to kill herself in high school, and three years of homeschooling from the age of eleven to fourteen that apparently permanently warped her social development. She took the LSATs twice, scored surprisingly well the second time, went to a mediocre law school, barely avoided failing out, passed the Bar, and then drifted. Her life up to this point has been marked by a distinct lack of focus or achievement. She's never done anything worth noting in the mundane sphere. She worked part-time legal work, keeping her head above water in New York City, until she moved upstate and tried starting her own practice, apparently resigned to the fact that she would spend the rest of her life in the same state of mediocrity. When the Jiang-shi known as Li Fang Fen (See USEF Report Hsien-Ko H1 and remind me to smack whatever moron convinced me that was an appropriate code-name) walked into her office seeking defense on a murder charge, it should have been a short path to an early grave or making a pact. Humans who discover the supernatural inevitably drift towards one of these two. Atina's only apparent talent is for paranoia. She has, in fact, managed to survive at least a handful of assassination attempts from supernatural creatures she has pissed off royally. Mostly by becoming a hermit. 90% of her socialization is with supernatural creatures at this point, with her only known pure-human contacts being her family, and some fry cook she's in an apparently unpredictable relationship with. This is all in keeping with Pallas Athena's strategies. In chess terms, Atina is a pawn. She's capable of very little, but is also generally below notice. The chances that she will figure prominently into one of Athena's schemes is extremely low, but the whole thing about pawns is that they take you by surprise, at an angle. Her resources are largely a surprising number of favors and control she's acquired in Binghamton, but she's still yet to put it to any particular use. As in the rest of her life, Atina LeRoux seems largely at loose ends. Aside from her connections with Jack Knife (See USEF Report Ripper FJ-5) and the Camazotz Jenny Nishi (See USEF Report Sparkly Vampires FJ-4), she has no notable power. One lingering concern remains: The Fishbelly incident. We still don't know what exactly happened in there, and no one in Binghamton is talking about it. The working theory is that Athena intervened directly, as she's occasionally wont to do. This in spite of the complete lack of any evidence of her presence. The mummy we interrogated after the fact claimed it was the work of a dragon, apparently traumatized by the encounter and prone to confabulation. We've combed the city from top to bottom, and there's no sign of anything that could be called a dragon. Every supernatural creature we interrogate about dragons gives the same answer: They’re extinct. I’m inclined to chalk it up to trauma. For now, I'd suggest stepping down surveillance to an occasional check-in. Given her position, means, and inclinations, Atina Leroux is a minor player. Chief Researcher Cherry H. Verne
A lot is going on in Tahoe during the summer, so here’s a continuously updated listing of events happening around the lake! Feel free to comment below with any updates, I will periodically edit the post with new events that folks send me. See revision notes at the bottom of this post. Things not included: shows that happen every week all year around (like the Improv at Harvey’s or the Magic Fusion at The Loft), free weekly shows at venues like the CBC and Alibi Truckee (check their event calendars for those!), and children’s camps/classes. I reserve the right to not include every event folks send; a truly comprehensive list would quickly become useless with too many items on it, so I will be a little selective.
Reno Philharmonic: Remember When Rock Was Young - The Elton John Tribute
The Infamous Stringdusters
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
Harvey’s Outdoor Arena
Crystal Bay Club
Harvey’s Outdoor Arena
Sierra Nevada Ballet: A Midsummer Night’s Dream – The Ballet
Harvey’s Outdoor Arena
Harvey’s Outdoor Arena
Bikes & Brews
Kirkwood Mountain Resort
Reno Jazz Orchestra: New Orleans, A Night in the Big Easy
ZoSo “The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience”
Crystal Bay Club
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Reno Philharmonic: Bravo on The Beach: Best of Broadway
Florence and the Machine
Harvey’s Outdoor Arena
“Brews, Jazz and Funk Pre Party” ft. The Floozies w/ Big Sam’s Funky Nation
Crystal Bay Club
Harvey’s Outdoor Arena
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Brews, Jazz and Funk Fest
Bloody Mary Competition
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Amy Schumer & Friends
Harvey’s Outdoor Arena
Super Diamond: The Neil Diamond Tribute
Steve Miller Band and Peter Frampton
Harvey’s Outdoor Arena
Petty Theft “Tribute to Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers”
Crystal Bay Club
Charlie Puth with Hailee Steinfeld
Harvey’s Outdoor Arena
BB King’s Blues Band
Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers: A Powerhouse Sax and Detroit Funk/Rock Concert
Nahko and Medicine for the People w/ Xiuhtezcatl
Crystal Bay Club
Evening with Donny & Marie
Harvey’s Outdoor Arena
Scorpions and Queensrÿche
Harvey’s Outdoor Arena
Reno Jazz Orchestra: An Evening with Tierney Sutton
Alpen Wine Fest
Dave Matthews Band
Harvey’s Outdoor Arena
Guitar Strings vs. Chicken Wings
Crystal Bay Club
Thunder from Down Under
2018-05-16 - Added Concerts at Commons Beach, Omg Fun Run!, Florence and the Machine, Tahoe City Oktoberfest, and League to Save Lake Tahoe (Keep Tahoe Blue) community events. Modified some of the column names and link formatting.
The 1970 Disappearance of Donna Lass: Was the Zodiac Killer Responsible? (New "Trail Went Cold" Minisode)
On September 6, 1970, 25-year old Donna Lass mysteriously vanished while working her shift as a nurse at the Sahara Tahoe Hotel-Casino in South Lake Tahoe, California. Donna’s last entry in her log book at her workstation was written at 1:45 AM, but the entry was unsigned and appeared to be unfinished. Her last sentence ended with the words “complains of” before the pen trailed down the page, which seemed to imply that Donna was interrupted in the middle of writing. Later that same day, Donna’s boss and landlord both received separate phone calls from an unidentified man who claimed that is she was going to be out of town because of a family emergency. Donna’s boss decided to call Donna’s mother in South Dakota and learned there was no family emergency. After Donna was reported missing, her car was found parked at her apartment complex in Stateline, Nevada. She had actually just moved into her new apartment the very same day she went to go work her last shift. On March 22, 1971, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Paul Avery received a cryptic postcard with a collage pasted on the back. It featured an advertisement for Forest Pines condominiums in Lake Tahoe with an artist’s rendering of a small village of condos near a snow-covered wooded area. There were some cut-out phrases from newspapers and magazines pasted across the ad, and these phrases included “Sierra Club”, “around in the snow”, “peek through the pines”, “pass Lake Tahoe areas” and “sought victim 12”. A hole was also punched over some pine trees located in the upper right hand corner of the ad. The postcard was postmarked “Zodiac” and featured the trademark circle cross symbol which he liked to attach to his correspondence. The specific area pictured in the ad turned out to be the Boise Cascade condominium complex in Incline Village, Nevada, which is located on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. The authorities conducted a search of this area, but found nothing. The implication seemed to be that the Zodiac killer sent the postcard and was taking credit for Donna Lass’ disappearance. The postcard would be the last correspondence from the Zodiac for nearly three years, though Donna’s sister would receive a cryptic Christmas card in 1974, which featured a picture of trees covered in snow and was signed “Best Wishes, St. Donna & Guardian of the Pines”. There is no direct evidence to tie Donna Lass to the Zodiac killer, but it’s worth noting that before she moved to Lake Tahoe, Donna worked at the Letterman Army Medical Center in the Presidio of San Francisco, only a few blocks away from where the Zodiac murdered his last confirmed victim, Paul Stine, in October 1969. An investigator named Harvey Hines has always believed the Zodiac was a career criminal named Lawrence Kane, who lived in close proximity to the Stine murder. What’s particularly interesting is that Kane and Lass both moved from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe around the same time period and Kane also worked at the Sahara Hotel-Casino, selling real estate out of an office located right down the hall from Donna’s workstation. But even if Kane abducted and murdered her, opinions are still mixed about whether he was actually the Zodiac, as the circumstances behind Lass’ disappearance do not seem to fit the Zodiac’s M.O.. I analyze this disappearance in the latest minisode of my podcast, “The Trail Went Cold": http://trailwentcold.the-back-row.com/2016/10/19/the-trail-went-cold-minisode-4-donna-lass/ Sources: http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/l/lass_donna.html http://www.zodiacciphers.com/lake-tahoe-disappearance.html http://www.zodiacciphers.com/zodiac-news/category/donna-lass http://lasvegassun.com/news/2000/nov/15/was-tahoe-disappearance-linked-to-zodiac-kille https://books.google.ca/books?id=EdBQ9jvHU80C&pg=PA224&lpg=PA224&dq=donna+lass+%22complains+of%22&source=bl&ots=Ey7Ofqg5pu&sig=4VVRfusjUpGwmkH6oG_wSdzCbrI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj58sb_9-bPAhVCNj4KHaa-B_oQ6AEIRDAH#v=onepage&q=donna%20lass%20%22complains%20of%22&f=false
By Thomas Mann Translation by H. T. Lowe-Porter THE FIGHT BETWEEN JAPPE AND DO ESCOBAR I WAS very much taken aback when Johnny Bishop told me that Jappe and Do Escobar were going to fight each other and that we must go and watch them do it. It was in the summer holidays at Travemünde, on a sultry day was a slight land breeze and a flat sea ever so far away across the sands. We had been some three-quarters of an hour in the water and were lying on the hard sand under the props of the bathing- cabins——we two and Jürgen Brattström the shipowner's son. Johnny and Brattström were lying on their backs entirely naked; I felt more comfortable with my towel wrapped round my hips. Brattström asked me why I did it and I could not think of any sensible answer; so Johnny said with his winning smile that I was probably too big now to lie naked. I really was larger and more developed than Johnny and Brattström; also a little older, about thirteen; so I accepted Johnny's explanation in silence, although with a certain feeling of mortification. For in Johnny Bishop's presence you actually felt rather out of it if you were any less small, fine, and physically childlike than he, who was all these things in such a very high degree. He knew how to look up at you with his pretty, friendly blue eyes, which had a certain mock- ing smile in them too, with an expression that said: "What a great, gawky thing you are, to be sure!" The ideal of manliness and long trousers had no validity in his presence——and that at a time, not long after the war, when strength, courage, and every hardy virtue stood very high among us youth and all sorts of conduct were banned as effeminate. But Johnny, as a foreigner—or half- foreigner——was exempt from this atmosphere. He was a little like a woman who preserves her youth and looks down on other women who are less successful at the feat. Besides he was far and away the best-dressed boy in town, distinctly aristocratic and elegant in his real English sailor suit with the linen collar, sailor's knot, laces, a silver whistle in his pocket, and an anchor on the sleeve that narrowed round his wrists. Anyone else would have been laughed at for that sort of thing——it would have been jeered at as "girls' clothes." But he wore them with such a disarming and confident air that he never suffered in the least. He looked rather like a thin little cupid as he lay there, with his pretty, soft blond curls and his arms up over the narrow English head that rested on the sand. His father had been a German busi- ness man who had been naturalized in England and died some years since. His mother was English by blood, a long-featured lady with quiet, gentle ways, who had settled in our town with her two children, Johnny and a mischievous little girl just as pretty as he. She still wore black for her husband, and she was probably honouring his last wishes when she brought the children to grow up in Germany. Obviously they were in easy circum- stances. She owned a spacious house outside the city and a villa at the sea and from time to time she travelled with Johnny and Sissie to more distant resorts. She did not move in society, although it would have been open to her. Whether on account of her mourn- ing or perhaps because the horizon of our best families was too narrow for her, she herself led a retired life, but she managed that her children should have social intercourse. She incited other children to play with them and sent them to dancing and to deport- ment lessons, thus quietly arranging that Johnny and Sissie should associate exclusively with the children of well-to-do families—— of course not in pursuance of any well-defined principle, but just as a matter of course. Mrs. Bishop contributed, remotely, to my own education: it was from her I learned that to be well thought of by others no more is needed than to think well of yourself. Though deprived of its male head the little family showed none of the marks of neglect or disruption which often in such cases make people fight shy. Without further family connection, with- out title, tradition, influence, or public office, and living a life apart, Mrs. Bishop by no means lacked social security or preten- sions. She was definitely accepted at her own valuation and the friendship of her children was much sought after by their young contemporaries. As for Jürgen Brattström, I may say in passing that his father had made his own money, achieved public office, and built for himself and his family the red sandstone house on the Burgfeld, next to Mrs. Bishop's. And that lady had quietly accepted his son as Johnny's playmate and let the two go to school together. Jürgen was a decent, phlegmatic, short-legged lad without any prominent characteristics. He had begun to do a little private business in licorice sticks. As I said, I was extremely shocked when Johnny told me about the impending meeting between Jappe and Do Escobar which was to take place at twelve o'clock that day on the Leuch- tenfeld. It was dead earnest——might have a serious outcome, for Jappe and Do Escobar were both stout and reckless fellows and had strong feelings about knightly honour. The issue might well be frightful. In my memory they still seem as tall and manly as they did then, though they could not have been more than fifteen at the time. Jappe came from the middle class of the city; he was not much looked after at home, he was already almost his own master, a combination of loafer and man-about-town. Do Escobar was an exotic and bohemian foreigner, who did not even come regularly to school but only attended lectures now and then——an irregular but paradisial existence! He lived en pension with some middle-class people and rejoiced in complete independence. Both were people who went late to bed, visited public-houses, strolled of evenings in the Broad Street, followed girls about, performed crazy "stunts"——in short, were regular blades. Although they did not live in the Kurhotel at Travemünde——where they would scarcely have been acceptable——but somewhere in the village, they frequented the Kurhaus and garden and were at home there as cosmopolitans. In the evening, especially on a Sunday, when I has long since been in my bed in one of the chalets and gone off to sleep to the pleasant sound of the Kurhaus band, they, and other members of the young generation——as I was aware——still sauntered up and down in the stream of tourists and guests, loitered in front of the long awning of the café, and sought and found grown-up entertainment. And here they had come to blows, good- ness knows how and why. It is possible that they had only brushed against each other in passing and in the sensitiveness of their knightly honour had made a fighting matter of the en- counter. Johnny, who of course had been long since in bed too and was instructed only by hearsay in what happened, expressed himself in his pleasant, slightly husky childish voice, that the quarrel was probably about some "gal"——an easy assumption, considering Jappe's and Do Escobar's precocity and boldness. In short, they had made no scene among the guests, but in few and biting words agreed upon hour and place and witnesses for the satisfaction of their honour. The next day, at twelve, rendezvous at such and such a spot on the Leuchtenfeld. Good evening.—— Ballet-master Knaak from Hamburg, master of ceremonies and leader of the Kurhaus cotillions, had been on the scene and prom- ised his presence at the appointed hour and place. Johnny rejoiced wholeheartedly in the fray——I think that neither he nor Brattström would have shared my apprehensions. Johnny repeatedly assured me, forming the r far forward on his palate, with his pretty enunciation, that they were both "in dead eahnest" and certainly meant business. Complacently and with a rather ironic objectivity he weighed the chances of victory for each. They were both frightfully strong, he grinned; both of them great fighters——it would be fun to have it settled which of them was the greater. Jappe, Johnny thought, had a broad chest and capital arm and leg muscles, he could tell that from seeing him swimming. But Do Escobar was uncommonly wiry and savage—— hard to tell beforehand who would get the upper hand. It was strange to hear Johnny discourse so sovereignly upon Jappe's and Do Escobar's qualifications, looking at his childish arms, which could never have given or warded off a blow. As for me, I was indeed far from absenting myself from the spectacle. That would have been absurd and moreover the proceedings had a great fasci- nation for me. Of course I must go, I must see it all, now that I knew about it. I felt a certain sense of duty, along with other and conflicting emotions: a great shyness and shame, all unwarlike as I was, and not at all minded to trust myself upon the scene of manly exploits. I had a nervous dread of the shock which the sight of a duel à outrance, a fight for life and death, as it were, would give me. I was cowardly enough to ask myself whether, once on the field, I might not be caught up in the struggle and have to expose my own person to a proof of valour which I knew in my inmost heart I was far from being able or willing to give. On the other hand I kept putting myself in Jappe's and Do Esco- bar's place and feeling consuming sensations which I assumed to be what they were feeling. I visualized the scene of the insult and the challenge, summoned my sense of good form and with Jappe and Do Escobar resisted the impulse to fall to there and then. I experienced the agony of an overwrought passion for justice, the flaring, shattering hatred, the attacks of raving impatience for revenge, in which they must have passed the night. Arrived at the last ditch, lost to all sense of fear, I fought myself blind and bloody with an adversary just as inhuman, drove my fist into his hated jaw with all the strength of my being, so that all his teeth were broken, received in exchange a brutal kick in the stomach and went under in a sea of blood. After which I woke in my bed with ice-bags, quieted nerves, and a chorus of mild reproaches from my family. In short, when it was half past twelve and we got up to dress I was half worn out with my apprehensions. In the cabin and afterwards when we were dressed and went outdoors, my heart throbbed exactly as though it was I myself who was to fight with Jappe or Do Escobar, in public and with all the rigours of the game. I still remember how we took the narrow wooden bridge which ran diagonally up from the beach to the cabins. Of course we jumped, in order to make it sway as much as possible, so that we bounced as though on a spring-board. But once below we did not follow the board walk which led along the beach past the tents and the basket chairs; but held inland in the general direction of the Kurhaus but rather more leftwards. The sun brooded over the dunes and sucked a dry, hot odour from the sparse and withered vegetation, the reeds and thistles that stuck into our leg. There was no sound but the ceaseless humming of the blue-bottle flies which hung apparently motionless in the heavy warmth, sud- denly to shift to another spot and begin afresh their sharp, mo- notonous whine. The cooling effect of the bath was long since spent. Brattström and I kept lifting our hats, he his Swedish sailor cap with the oilcloth visor, I my round Heligoland woollen bon- net——the so-called tam-o'-shanter——to wipe our brows. Johnny suffered little from heat, thanks to his slightness and also because his clothing was more elegantly adapted than ours to the summer day. In his light and comfortable sailor suit of striped washing material which left bare his throat and legs, the blue, short- ribboned cap with English lettering on his pretty little head, the long slender feet in fine, almost heelless white leather shoes, he walked with mounting strides and somewhat bent knees between Brattström and me and sang with his charming accent "Little Fisher Maiden"——a ditty which was then the rage. He sang it with some vulgar variation in the words, such as boys like to in- vent. Curiously enough, in all his childishness he knew a good deal about various matters and was not at all too prudish to take them in his mouth. But always he would make a sanctimonious little face and say: "Fie! Who would sing such dirty songs?"—— as though Brattström and I had been the ones to make indecent advances to the little fisher maiden. I did not feel at all like singing, we were too near the fatal spot. The prickly grass of the dunes had changed to the sand and sea moss of a barren meadow; this was the Leuchtenfeld, so called after the yellow lighthouse towering up in the far distance. We soon found ourselves at our goal. It was a warm, peaceful spot, where almost nobody ever came: protected from view by scrubby willow trees. On the free space among the bushes a crowd of youths lay or sat in a circle. They were almost all older than we and from various strata of society. We seemed to be the last spectators to arrive. Everybody was waiting for Knaak the dancing-master, who was needed in the capacity of neutral and umpire. Both Jappe and Do Escobar were there——I saw them at once. They were sitting far apart in the circle and pretending not to see each other. We greeted a few acquaintances with silent nods and squatted in our turn on the sun- warmed ground. Some of the group were smoking. Both Jappe and Do Escobar held cigarettes in the corners of their mouths. Each kept one eye shut against the smoke and I instantly felt and knew that they were aware how grand it was to sit there and smoke before entering the ring. They were both dressed in grown-up clothes, but Do Escobar's were more gentlemanly that Jappe's. He wore yellowed shoes with pointed toes, a light-grey summer suit, a rose- coloured shirt with cuffs, a coloured silk cravat, and a round, nar- row-brimmed straw hat sitting far back on his head, so that his mop of shining black hair showed on one side beneath it, in a big hummock. He kept raising his right hand to shake back the silver bangle he wore under his cuff. Jappe's appearance was distinctly less pretentious. His legs were encased in tight trousers of a lighter colour than his coat and waistcoat and fastened with straps under his waxed black boots. A checked cap covered his curly blond hair; in contrast to Do Escobar's jaunty headgear he wore it pulled down over his forehead. He sat with his arms clasped round one knee; you could see that he had on loose cuffs over his shirt-sleeves, also that his finger-nails were either cut too short or else that he indulged in the vice of biting them. Despite the smoking and the assumed nonchalance, the whole circle was serious and silent, restraint was in the air. The only one to make head against it was Do Escobar, who talked without stopping to his neighbours, in a loud, strained voice, rolling his r's and blow- ing smoke out of his nose. I was rather put off by his volubility; it inclined me, despite the bitten finger-nails, to side with Jappe, who at most addressed a word or two over his shoulder to his neighbour and for the rest gazed in apparent composure at the smoke of his cigarette. Then came Herr Knaak——I can still see him, in his blue striped flannel morning suit, coming with winged tread from the direc- tion of the Kurhaus and lifting his hat as he paused outside the circle. That he wanted to come I do not believe; I am convinced rather that he had made a virtue of necessity when he honoured the fight with his presence. And the necessity, the compulsion, was due to his equivocal position in the eyes of the martially- and mascu- linely-minded youth. Dark-skinned and comely, plump, particu- larly in the region of the hips, he gave us dancing and deportment lessons in the wintertime——private, family lessons as well as pub- lic classes in the Casino; and in the summer he acted as bathing- master and social manager at Travemünde. He rocked on his hips and weaved in his walk, turning out his toes very much and setting them first on the ground as he stepped. His eye had a vain ex- pression, his speech was pleasant but affected, and his way of entering a room as though it were a stage, his extraordinary and fastidious mannerisms charmed all the female sex, while the mascu- line world, and especially critical youth, viewed him with sus- picion. I have often pondered over the position of François Knaak in life and always have I found it strange and fantastic. He was of humble origins, his parents were poor, and his taste for the social graces left him as it were hanging in the air——not a member of society, yet paid by it as a guardian and instructor of its con- ventions. Jappe and Do Escobar were his pupils too; not in pri- vate lessons, like Johnny, Brattström, and me, but in the public classes in the Casino. It was in these that Herr Knaak's character and position were most sharply criticized. We of the private classes were less austere. A fellow who taught you the proper de- portment towards little girls, who was thrillingly reported to wear a corset, who picked up the edge of his frock-coat with his finger- tips, curtsied, cut capers, leaped suddenly into the air, where he twirled his toes before he came down again——what sort of chap was he, after all? These were the suspicions harboured by militant youth on the score of Herr Knaak's character and mode of life, and his exaggerated airs did nothing to allay them. Of course, he was a grown-up man (he was even, comically enough, said to have a wife and children in Hamburg); and his advantage in years and the fact that he was never seen except officially and in the dance-hall, prevented him from being convicted and unmasked. Could he do gymnastics? Had he ever been able to? Had he courage? Had he parts? In short, could one accept him as an equal? He was never in a position to display the soldier char- acteristics which might have balanced his salon arts and made him a decent chap. So there were youths who made no bones of call- ing him straight out a coward and a jackanapes. All this he knew and therefore he was here today to manifest his interest in a good stand-up fight and to put himself on terms with the young, though in his official position he should not have countenanced such goings-on. I am convinced, however, that he was not comfortable ——he knew he was treading on thin ice. Some of the audience looked coldly at him and he himself gazed uneasily round to see if anybody was coming. He politely excused his late arrival, saying that he had been kept by a consultation with the management of the Kurhaus about the next Sunday's ball. "Are the combatants present?" he next inquired in official tones. "Then we can begin." Leaning on his stick with his feet crossed he gnawed his soft brown mous- tache with his under lip and made owl eyes to look like a con- noisseur. Jappe and Do Escobar stood up, threw away their cigarettes, and began to prepare for the fray. Do Escobar did it in a hurry, with impressive speed. He threw hat, coat, and waistcoat on the ground, unfastened tie, collar, and braces and added them to the pile. He even drew his rose-coloured shirt out of his trousers, pulled his arms briskly out of the sleeves, and stood up in a red and white striped undershirt which exposed the larger part of his yellow arms, already covered with a thick black fell. "At you service, sir," he said, with a rolling r, stepping into the middle of the ring, expanding his chest and throwing back his shoulders. He still wore the silver bangle. Jappe was not ready yet. He turned his head, elevated his brows, and looked at Do Escobar's feet a moment with narrowed eyes——as much as to say: "Wait a bit——I'll get there too, even if I don't swagger so much." He was broader in the shoulder; but as he took his place beside Do Escobar he seemed nowhere near so fit or athletic. His legs in the tight strapped boots inclined to be knock-kneed and his fit-out was not impressive——grey braces over a yellowed white shirt with loose buttoned sleeves. By con- trast Do Escbar's striped tricot and the black hair on his arms looked uncommonly grim and businesslike. Both were pale but it showed more in Jappe as he was otherwise blond and red-cheeked, with jolly, not-too-refined features including a rather turned-up nose with a saddle of freckles. Do Escobar's nose was short, straight, and drooping and there was a downy black growth on his full upper lip. They stood with hanging arms almost breast to breast, and looked at one another darkly and haughtily in the region of the stomach. They obviously did not know how to begin——and how well I could understand that! A night and half a day had inter- vened since the unpleasantness. They had wanted to fly at each other's throats and had only been held in check by the rules of the game. But they had had time to cool off. To do to order, as it were, before an audience, by appointment, in cold blood, what they had wanted to do yesterday when the fit was on them——it was not the same thing at all. After all, they were not gladiators. They were civilized young men. And in possession of one's senses one has a certain reluctance to smash a sound human body with one's fists. So I thought, and so, very likely, it was. But something had to be done, that honour might be satisfied, so each began to work the other up by hitting him contemptu- ously with the finger-tips on the breast, as though that would be enough to finish him off. And, indeed, Jappe's face began to be distorted with anger—but just at that moment Do Escobar broke off the skirmish. "Pardon," said he, taking two steps backwards and turning aside. He had to tighten the buckle at the back of his trousers, for he was narrow-hipped and in the absence of braces they had begun to slip. He took his position again almost at once, throwing out his chest and saying something in guttural and rattling Spanish, probably to the effect that he was again at Jappe's service. It was clear that he was inordinately vain. The skirmishing with shoulders and buffeting with palms began again. Then unexpectedly there ensued a blind and raging hand- to-hand scuffle with the fists, which lasted three seconds and broke off without notice. "Now they are warming up," said Johnny, sitting next to me with a dry grass in his mouth. "I'll wager Jappe beats him. Look how he keeps squinting over at us——Jappe keeps his mind on his job. Will you bet he won't give him a good hiding?" They had now recoiled and stood, fists on hips, their chests heaving. Both had doubtless taken some punishment, for they both looked angry, sticking out their lips furiously as much as to say: "What do you mean by hurting me like that?" Jappe was red- eyed and Do Escobar showed his white teeth as they fell to again. They were hitting out now with all their strength on shoulders, forearms, and breasts by turns and in quick succession. "That's nothing," Johnny said, with his charming accent. "They won't get anywhere that way, either of them. They must go at it under the chin, with an uppercut to the jaw. That does it." But mean- while Do Escobar had caught both Jappe's arms with his left arm, pressed them as in a vise against his chest, and with his right went on pummelling Jappe's flanks. There was great excitement. "No clinching!" several voices cried out, and people jumped up. Herr Knaak hastened between the combatants, in horror. "You are holding him fast, my dear friend. That is against all the rules." He separated them and again instructed Do Escobar in the regulations. Then he withdrew once more outside the ring. Jappe was obviously in a fury. He was quite white, rubbing his side and looking at Do Escobar with a slow nod that boded no good. When the next round began, his face looked so grim that everybody expected him to deliver a decisive blow. And actually as soon as contact had been renewed Jappe carried out a coup——he practised a feint which he had probably planned beforehand. A thrust with his left caused Do Escobar to protect his head; but as he did so Jappe's right hit him so hard in the stomach that he crumpled forwards and his face took on the colour of yellow wax. "That went home," said Johnny. "That's where it hurts. Maybe now he will pull himself together and take things seri- ously, so as to pay it back." But the blow to the stomach had been too telling, Do Escobar's nerve was visibly shaken. It was clear he could not even clench his fists properly, and his eyes took on a glazed look. However, finding his muscles thus affected, his vanity counselled him to play the agile southron, dancing round the German bear and rendering him desperate by his own dex- terity. He took tiny steps and made all sorts of useless passes, moving round Jappe in little circles and trying to assume an arro- gant smile——which in his reduced condition struck me as really heroic. But it did not upset Jappe at all——he simply turned round on his heel and got in many a good blow with his right while with his left he warded off Do Escobar's feeble attack. But what sealed Do Escobar's fate was that his trousers kept slipping. His tricot shirt even came outside and rucked up, showing a little strip of his bare yellow skin——some of the audience sniggered. But why had he taken off his braces? He would have done better to leave æsthetic considerations on one side. For now his trousers bothered him, they had bothered him during the whole fight. He kept wanting to pull them up and stuff in his shirt, for however much he was punished he could bear it better than the thought that he might be cutting a ridiculous figure. In the end he was fighting with one hand while with the other he tried to put him- self to rights; and thus Jappe was able to land such a blow on his nose that to this day I do not understand why it was not broken. But the blood poured out, and Do Escobar turned and went apart from Jappe, trying with his right hand to stop the bleeding and with his left making an eloquent gesture behind him as he went. Jappe stood there with his knock-kneed legs spread out and waited for Do Escobar to come back. But Do Escobar was finished with the business. If I interpret him aright he was the more civilized of the two and felt that it was high time to call a halt: Jappe would beyond doubt have fought on with his nose bleed- ing; but almost as certainly Do Escobar would equally have re- fused to go on, and he did so with even more conviction in that it was himself that bled. They had made the claret run out of his nose——in his view things should never have been allowed to go so far, devil take it! The blood ran between his fingers onto his clothes, it soiled his light trousers and dripped on his yellow shoes. It was beastly and nothing but beastly——and under such circum- stances he declined to take part in more fighting. It would be inhuman. And his attitude was accepted by the majority of the spec- tators. Herr Knaak came into the ring and declared that the fight was over. Both sides had behaved with distinction. You could see how relieved he felt that the affair had gone off so smoothly. "But neither of them was brought to a fall," said Johnny, surprised and disappointed. However, even Jappe was quite satis- fied to consider the affair as settled. Drawing a long breath he went to fetch his clothes. Everybody generally accepted Herr Knaak's delicate fiction that the issue was a draw. Jappe was con- gratulated, but only surreptitiously; on the other hand some peo- ple lent Do Escobar their handkerchiefs, as his own was soon drenched. And now the cry was for more. Let two other fellows fight. That was the sense of the meeting; Jappe's and Do Escobar's business had taken so little time, hardly ten minutes; since they were all there and it was still quite early something more ought to come. Another pair must enter the arena——whoever wanted to show that he deserved being called a lad of parts. Nobody offered. But why at this summons did my heart begin to beat like a little drum? What I had feared had come to pass: the challenge had become general. Why did I feel as though I had all the time been awaiting this very moment with shivers of delicious anticipation and now when it had come why was I plunged into a whirl of conflicting emotions? I looked at Johnny. Perfectly calm and detached he sat beside me, turned his straw about in his mouth and looked about the ring with a frankly curious air, to see whether a couple of stout chaps would not be found to let their noses be broken for his amusement. Why was it that I had to feel personally challenged to conquer my nervous timidity, to make an unnatural effort and draw all eyes upon my- self by heroically stepping into the ring? In an access of self- consciousness mingled with vanity I was about to raise my hand and offer myself for combat when somewhere in the circle the shout arose: "Herr Knaak ought to fight!" All eyes fastened themselves upon Herr Knaak. I have said that he was walking upon slippery ice in exposing himself to the dan- ger of such a test of his kidney. But he simply answered: "No, thanks, very much——I had enough beatings when I was young." He was safe. He had slipped like an eel out of the trap. How astute of him, to bring in his superiority in years, to imply that at our age he would not have avoided an honourable fight——and that without boasting at all, even making his own words carry irre- sistible conviction by admitting with a disarming laugh at himself that he too had taken beatings in his time. They let him alone. They perceived that it was hard, if not impossible, to bring him to book. "Then somebody must wrestle!" was the next cry. This sug- gestion was not taken up either; but in the midst of the discussion over it (and I shall never forget the painful impression it made) Do Escobar said in his hoarse Spanish voice from behind his gory handkerchief: "Wrestling is for cowards. Only Germans wrestle." It was an unheard of piece of tactlessness, coming from him, and got its reward at once in the capital retort made by Herr Knaak: "Possible," said he. "But it looks as though the Germans know how to give pretty good beatings sometimes too!" He was rewarded by shouts of approving laughter; his whole position was improved, and Do Escobar definitely put down for the day. But it was the general opinion that wrestling was a good deal of a bore, and so various athletic feats were resorted to instead: leap-frog, standing on one's head, handsprings and so on, to fill in the time. "Come on, let's go," said Johnny to Brattström and me, and got up. That was Johnny Bishop for you. He had come to see something real, with the possibility of a bloody issue. But the thing had petered out and so he left. He gave me my first impression of the peculiar superiority of the English character, which later on I came so greatly to admire. 1911
From Thomas Mann: Stories of Three Decades, Translated from the German by H. T. Lowe-Porter. Copyright, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1935, 1936, by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. The Modern Library edition, Random House, Inc. pp. 328—339. https://old.reddit.com/leeharveyoswald
Hey guys, I had a bunch of neat little ideas for silly side quests that I hadn't completely fleshed out, so I'm putting them together here in hopes that maybe some of you guys like them. Some of these are longer than others. Yunarei & Ryul The quest begins when the party comes upon a small town stuck in the doldrums. The inhabitants don't seem to be very happy and everyone is struggling monetarily. Investigation reveals that a lich in the area is routinely raiding this village for souls and gold. It is recommended to use this quest on a party underleveled to defeat a lich, as this dissuades them from running straight to the lich's stronghold and from just trying to kill her. Though the villagers want the party to take care of the lich, none are willing to stake the few coin they have for a reward. All except for one: Ryul. Ryul is rather young elven man who, if the party hears of before meeting, will hear nothing but bad things about. Ryul is seen by the villagers as a lovestruck dolt at best, and a cultist in the making at worst. Upon meeting Ryul, he will offer his entire life's savings to the party (adjust based on party level.) for them to escort him to the lich's castle. He is head over heels in love with this lich who goes by the name Yunarei. He fell in love from the moment she raided the village for the first time and he saw her "otherworldly splendor." He wants to meet her properly in the hopes that maybe, just maybe she will reciprocate his feelings. He is fully aware that she is an evil lich who is most likely to kill him for trespassing, but he will insist that he would rather die than live on without even trying. If the party accepts his quest, he will lead them to Yunarei's stronghold which is guarded by gargoyles and lesser undead. Ryul has the stats of a commoner with a few exceptions. He has ten hit points and follows player rules upon hitting zero hp. He is proficient in stealth, and can remain completely hidden from enemies so long as he doesn't do anything on his turn. He can however, cast Spare the Dying as a reaction. If he does this, he will blow his cover and can be targeted by enemies for the rest of the combat. If Ryul dies, the quest ends in failure unless an ally can bring him back to life, to which he will quip that he is "even more like Yunarei now!" His corpse, if unrevived, will have the gold reward he offered the party. They can choose whether to leave or not. Yunarei is in her throne reading a book, and has the same stats as a a standard lich. If the party can reach Yunarei's throneroom with Ryul still alive, then Ryul will immediately blow the party's cover and run towards her, before kneeling. She will prepare a Cone of Cold spell, and shout "Who dares enter my keep?!" Ryul will then confess the Yunarei that he came all this way to profess his undying love to her. He does not care what happens to him now, he is simply happy he got to confess his feelings, and if she decides to take his soul and uses it to extend her life, then he will gladly accept his fate. Yunarei will then lower her spell, so long as the party does not seem to be hostile and proclaim, through a flustered voice, that it would be a waste to throw away such a loyal follower. A DC20 Insight check will let anyone know that she is being somewhat dishonest, and a DC25 Insight check will decipher that she is embarrassed, and does indeed reciprocate. Ryul will not attempt an Insight check. She will then thank the party and ask if there is any way she can repay the favor. She can provide them with a magic item if requested, a large sum of gold, or is even willing to leave the villagers alone. If asked what she will do then, she will state that she will simply turn her attention to an evil city instead, even though it is farther. Ryul will pay as promised, and stay at the stronghold for the night. Ryul will from then on make frequent visits to the stronghold, protected by the undead and gargoyles residing there. The undead and gargoyles will also no longer be hostile to the party, even if the party attacks them. Yunarei can also reach out to the party again at a later time using the Animal Messenger spell on a crow. The crow will find the party and carry a roll of papyrus on its back with a letter enclosed. "Greetings, travellers. I have a quest for you, if you'd be so inclined to help. I will reward you handsomely. Return to my keep if you are interested. Signed, Yunarei." If the party returns, Yunarei will begin by threatening the party to not speak a word of this quest to Ryul. If the party becomes hostile in return, she will quickly apologize and state that these new emotions she feels are clouding her judgement. She will admit that she has feelings for Ryul, who has been visiting her keep quite often. She wants to become "closer" to him, but admits that her skeletal body makes something as simple as kissing impossible. She then points the party to a nearby cave which supposedly houses a Ring of Alter Self, which would allow her to return to her original tiefling body with ease. If asked on why she or her minions don't do it, she will state that her minions can't as whatever is in there is strong enough to make sure they don't come back, and she doesn't go herself as she doesn't want Ryul to suspect something. The cave does hold the Ring, and some other solitary dangerous creature, perhaps a dragon. The choice is yours. Upon completing the quest, Yunarei will transform and thank the party with a reward of their choice. Yunarei will become eternally greatful to the party and may come to help them in times of dire need. (Final showdown with the BBEG?) and she is extremely protective of Ryul. Ryul is true neutral and Yunarei is lawful evil. Qormalsh Qormalsh is a beholder, albiet an unusual one. Most beholders have no qualms with doing whatever it takes to soothe their paranoia because they are evil. Qormalsh however, is a Lawful Netural beholder who does not believe itself to be the greatest being in existence, nor does it think that other beings should be subject to its will. However, the natural paranoia it suffers from as a beholder forces it to commit evil acts and slaughter surrounding townsfolk. The party can happen upon a destroyed village and a sole survivor who crawls towards them in agony. His dying words will inform the party that there is a Beholder base nearby, and that it came and just slaughtered everybody. Upon reaching Qormalsh, it will attack the party on sight and say things like "I'm sorry you have to die! Stay still, this doesn't have to hurt! I'll give you a proper burial, I promise!" in Undercommon and Deep Speech. Qormalsh is haunted by its paranoia, and is even sleep deprived as it fears spawning another beholder. A DC15 Insight check will tell a character that it truly has no interest in harming them, but it is simply truly terrified of them. If a character casts Calm Emotions or a similar spell on Qormalsh, they will automatically succeed so long as Qormalsh is not facing the caster, and Qormalsh will freeze in astonishment and state "So this... is what a quiet mind feels like." It will then become grateful to the caster and regard them as its lifesaver. It will beg the caster to teach them that spell and will do whatever they desire in return. Teaching Qormalsh the spell will take a day, and from then on Qormalsh will remain reclusive, but not so paranoid as to slaughter innocent people. Qormalsh may use Animal Messenger to call the party back to its base, and from then on it will offer them a quest similar to the one Yunarei offers, though this quest is to retrieve a Crown of Calm Emotions, which it will slide onto one of its tentacles if retrieved. Zaroman Zaroman is a devil who operates a casino called the Scorching Soul Casino on the first layer of Baator. Zaroman will open up portals to The Nine Hells in the Material Plane to send mortals there. He then has his devil underlings lead this mortals to the Casino, where they must play a game in order to return home. While his methods of getting players is underhanded, on the table he is honest through and through. He will make the players bet their souls in exchange for returning home. The soul of one player is worth sending the entire party back home. One player's soul is also worth getting back all lost player souls. If a player loses after betting souls, Zaroman will laugh and lift up a contract. The soul will then be ripped from the player and sucked into the contract. If a player wins back a lost soul, the contract will combust and the soul will fly back into the player's body. Player's fall unconscious upon losing their soul, and awaken immediately when it is returned. The games he plays are one on one, and can be any card game played with a traditional 52 card deck. If your players are uninterested, he can also suggest gladiatorial combat. Players can cheat with a Sleight of Hand check, but it will be contested by Zaroman's active Perception checks which have a +9. If Zaroman detects cheating, he will lift the contract and the player will instantly lose, having their soul sucked into the contract. Zaroman himself will never cheat. Zaroman is antagonistic and, while boastful of himself, will not insult the skills of his opponent, even complimenting them and admitting "You almost had me." if they lose. It is suggested that you really try to win the first match. If you are using the card game method, this is obviously going to be difficult as it is your honest card playing skills against a player's, but if you consider yourself to be good at these than do not hold back against the first player to face Zaroman with souls on the line. Players can bet the souls of other players, but they must consent to having their soul bet. If a player's soul is left behind, the character dies. While Zaroman will only accept souls as wagers, the players can ask for other things such as gold and Zaroman will not only accept, but be pleasantly surprised and praise the player. If the players manage to escape, Zaroman will always be cheerful and thank the players for the game. There is one exception however. If the players get gold or items from Zaroman, don't leave any souls behind, and leave to the Material Plane, Zaroman will lose his temper and strike the table, breaking it, ordering another devil to "Get these little shits out of my casino!" Zaroman will always return the players exactly from where they initially were sucked into Baator. While always respectful to mortals, Zaroman treats other fiends like they are less than the dirt he walks on. Zaroman is lawful evil, and inspired by Daniel J. D'arby.
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