Saturday, November 11, 2017

Trash Bash

This weekend's plans got kinda messed up, so I dug into a box of "bits" and managed this.

I bought Oingo Boingo's anthology as a download years ago, and these CDs served me well, but they've died of abuse.  I overlapped them, traced the "half moon" with a sharpie, and they Terrain Gawdz smiled, because I managed to cut the CD with a pair of 30 year old Fiskars without breaking anything (much).

I built up the "shore" with hot melt and grabbed some stones from near my house to somewhat hide the seam.  A small, irregularly cut piece of cardstock is glued over the center hole of the uncut CD.

After all the hot melt "shoreline" was cooled, I spray primered the discs, glued the rocks on and smeared some black craft paint in the "water" area.


I enjoy using the sponge painting "faux finish" technique used by interior decorators when I paint stone; this time I tried it with dark blue and turquoise paints.  Since most of my modeling stuff is currently in storage, I improvised a sponge by rolling up a piece of paper towel.



It worked well enough.


Here I've just sloppily slapped some green paint to tell me where to glue flock.


While slapping on the green paint, I impulsively decided the larger rocks needed to have a spring bubbling up from between them.  Maybe the Fountain of Youth, or more likely, a Xanth Love Spring.  Anyway, the rocks were making the piece too heavy for the CDs, so I broke a piece of bark off a tree in the yard, and what came off was big enough to break into two pieces.  I prefer using tree bark instead of real rocks.  Better texture and immeasurably lighter.

I bought those aquarium plants for 88 cents at Walmart a zillion years ago and decided to finally justify the purchase.


Once the bark was glued in place, I squirted a bunch of hot melt into the gap formed by the stones and bark, and teased it a little into ripples.


Oops.  I should've painted the stones first, but hot melt usually dries with a milky color and I planned on painting the "water" anyway.


The stones got a "wash" of black craft paint thinned a lot with water, then some quickie drybrushing with a pale gray.  The hot melt "waterfall" got a little bit of a dark blue wash - dark blue paint thinned more than ink.  I tried to lightly brush some white "foam" onto the water, but the blue wash wasn't yet dry and I got this "Bob Ross Happy Accident".  Another happy accident was that the bark I "harvested" had some tiny bits of lichen on it, so I picked them out with some bright green paint.


Here's where I managed to wait for the paint to dry before adding white highlights.



I cut the bottoms off the plants so they'd appear to be partially submerged, but were still too tall for my liking and I ended up cutting groups of "branches" off and gluing those as smaller plants.


Here's some of the plants glued in place with some green paint on the lower halves to hide the plastic shine, and a half-assed, still wet flocking job I'll finish tomorrow after the PVA dries.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

New France Episode 2: The Journey Begins

Episode 1

Quebec City, 22 September 1638

"Steer to the beach near that rock.  Let's not try the docks in this little canoe."

Adele jabbed her oar into the water as mute agreement to Olivia's decision.  Thank goodness the trip was downstream; it had still taken nearly two weeks.


Being early in the morning, few people were out, but one voice called, "Who are you there?"

"I'm Capitaine Olivia Pierre of the Regiment de Carignan-Salière and my Serjeant Adele Miroir.  I have business at Chateau St Louis.  Who are you?"

"Pte Gabriel Fournier, mon Capitaine.  I'm the morning watch.  Mon Lieutenant-General should be at breakfast shortly, you may wish to stop for a meal at La Licorne Obscène, an inn near Le Chateau."

At that advice, Olivia and Adele exchanged a glance, thanked Gabriel and headed toward Le Chateau. 


Walking along the muddy street, the two young soldiers discovered that La Licorne Obscène was just next door to the regimental headquarters, and were about to enter when a group stepped out of the inn's door.  "Good morning soldiers... oho!  You two look unfamiliar!  Perhaps you'd like some hospitality?"

Before the two stood what appeared to be a Dutch merchant, attended by three French... ladies, rather under-dressed for the morning air.

"You don't look like an innkeeper", replied Adele to the short, stout foreigner.

"I'm no innkeeper!  I'm a provider of hospitality", came a disdainful retort.  "Perhaps you'd do better in my employ than wandering lost in the woods.  At least then you'd get a regular, proper bath."

Olivia snapped a cautioning arm to bar Adele from beating the dwarf to death, but the dwarf had ideas of his own, producing a small pistol and quickly firing.  He was no marksman and the shot was of no danger to anyone nearby.  Having had quite enough of this nonsense, Olivia drew her sabre and stepped toward the dwarf.  Seeing the dawn sun glinting on the blade's keen edge, the offending Dutchman and his entourage made an expeditious retreat.

Approaching footsteps as Olivia sheathed her sabre resolved into Gabriel Fournier, charging at the double.  Seeing only the young officers, he slowed and asked, "Who fired that shot?  Are you trying to bring the Governor's wrath down upon yourselves?"

Adele replied sharply, "Who let dwarves into Quebec, especially one who can't properly shoot?"

Gabriel laughed and offered to guide the two to the commander, since he needed to report the shot.


As the three soldiers entered the command offices of Le Chateau, a gruff voice called out, "Gabriel, please tell me I needn't report a death to the Governor first thing this morning ".

"Non, money Leiutenant-Generale, only that Totsten ought be hanged ", was  Private Fournier's reply as the three entered.

"Oho!  You've found wandering troops"

"Yes, mon General.  This is Capitaine Olivia Pierre and Serjeant Adele Dupree, just arrived from Fort Frontenac".

Leiutenant-Generale Berthier hesitated while accepting Olivia's orders, "Her Highness?  His Excellency?"

Olivia replied calmly, "They were unharmed and comfortable when I left them, mon Generale".

Berthier grunted softly while reading Olivia's papers and suddenly raised his head with a grin, "Oho!  You're a fortunate one to be sailing south while we wade through those cursed English goblins!"  Cocking an eyebrow, the Lieutenant-General glanced at Gabriel Fournier, "I suppose you've already volunteered your services, eh?"

"Volunteered, mon General?"

Olivia broke in, "I haven't told anyone yet, sir".

The General barked an order, "Fournier, fetch Etienne Rambault and be quick about it!".  After Gabriel had departed, Berthier addressed Olivia, "You're a young one to be on such a mission of exploration".

Adele spoke for the first time, "mon Generale, if I may be so bold..."

Berthier gestured that Adele should speak.

"mon Generale... Olivia -  mon Capitaine, won her commission by saving all of Fort Frontenac from a Salem Witch.  Shot her dead at sixty paces just before the witch could cast a spell upon the two of us".

"Oho!   You indeed have the reflexes and initiative of a fine officer!  How do you find Fournier, Capitaine?"

Without hesitation, Olivia replied, "A sensible young soldier with a level head", only a moment before Gabriel reentered the room followed shortly by another young private.  Gabriel could scarcely form the words, "Private Fournier..." when Berthier cut him off.  "Fournier, Rambault, pack your uniforms and equipment for sea travel, you've been transferred to the regiment's newest company...  La Compagnie du Bane de la Sorcière, as commanded by Capitaine Pierre".

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Games are for fun

Tuesday, April 11th, I made a United Airlines airliner this during lunch and posted the photo.

That isn't what I wanted.  Nearly a year ago, I had inspiration for a mashup game.  Snakes on a Plane, but with a fantastical setting like Soul Plane, all wrapped up in the spirit of one of my all-time favorites, Airplane.

Tonight, I made it happen.







Now, to write the scenario.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Space Fighters!

Fredonia System, Groucho Sector

Intel sources indicate a high potential for military aggression by the Hishen into the sector, and long range sensors have detected FTL entry of several craft to the system.  Due to sunspot activity, sensors are currently unable to identify the craft, so Freedonian PDF has ordered a flight of Bee class light fighters to identify the craft, with a flight of Sabre class bombers on station for a strike mission.

Pre-mission intel was good, but current sunspot activity (I rolled a cosmic storm) is preventing the use of sensors.  Another pre-mission surprise was the unfortunate roll that the flights will be facing Unexpected Resistance, doubling the number of Possible Enemy Forces.  Since this becomes six PEFs, I placed one in each of the six possible sectors.

Turn 1:  Fredonia 3 / PEF 6.
I rolled a die and the fighters enter the table from sector 3.  I chose to have them enter on afterburner to get things rockin'.  The PEF A resolved as, "Just a case of nerves" and is removed.

Turn 2:  Fredonia 6 / PEF 1.
PEF B moves away from and to the starboard of Bee Flight.
PEF C does the same.
PEF D moves toward Bee flight, but turns out to be nothing.  This raises the Enemy Investment Level to 5.
PEF E moves toward Bee flight, but is still outside visual range.

PEF F remains stationary.

Turn 3: Fredonia 2 / PEF 5
Bee flight heads towards PEF E on afterburner and reaches visual range.  PEF E resolves as two Vulture fighters moving towards PEF F.  Bee flight notifies Sabre flight, who enters the board in the randomly determined sector 3.  Because he's on afterburners (and the White Knight attribute) Bee flight leader holds fire for now.

Turn 4: Fredonia 5 / Hishen 3
PEF B moves 8" toward Bee flight, ending just outside visual range.
PEF C remains stationary.
PEF F moves 8" away from Bee flight.
Vulture Flight:  My dice love a good story just as much as they hate me.  Since Bee flight was outside Vulture flight's forward arc, I rolled on PEF movement to see where they'd go.  Being what they are, my dice rolled, "move 8 inche directly towards the enemy".  Since 8 is faster than a Vulture's maximum speed, I rolled to determine Vulture flight's current speed and I rolled a "1".  So the Vultures accelerated at their maximum to engage Bee flight.

As a result of the In-Sight test, both ships of Vulture flight fire.  Vulture Leader's first rocket struck the canopy of Bee Leader's cockpit; stunning Bee Leader.  The second rocket hit Bee Leader's IFF transponder, putting him at risk of being targeted by friendly pilots.  Vulture Leader missed with his mass drivers.  Vulture 2 hit with one rocket on Bee Leader's cockpit, wounding Bee Leader.  Fiinally Vulture 2 hit Bee Leader with one mass driver, which once again struck the disabled IFF transponder.  This second hit on the same area means the ship was destroyed.  Being stunned by the rocket fire, Bee Leader was unable to eject.

Seeing Bee Leader take multiple hits, Bee 2 jerked his ship to starboard and punched afterburners, as randomly determined by the Leader Down test plus a little die roll to see by how much he'd change heading.  My dice decided that Bee 2 would head straight toward PEF C, which naturally resolved into a flight of Reaver medium fighters, and Bee 2 ended within Reaver flight's visual detection range and arc.

Both ships of Reaver flight reacted to Bee 2 with the Dead Man's Turn, including a crash stop, which meant Bee 2 was dead ahead only 2" from Reaver flight.  Only the randomly determined facing or Reaver flight away from Bee 2 kept him alive.

Turn 4:  Fredonia 3 / Hishen 6
Bee 2 bugged out on afterburner, leaving Sabre flight alone with four Hishen fighters.  With the last report from Bee 2 being that Bee Leader was dead and the remaining light fighter was disengaging from disastrous odds, Saber flight chose to live to fight another day.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bar, Grill & Employment Agency

The Yellow Crescent Inn, Weaselton, Kingdom of Possiltum, Klah.

Striding purposefully through the doorway, C'nutsakh approached the innkeeper, who was absentmindedly cleaning flagons, "I'd like to hire some Dwarven warriors."

"You're a dwarven warrior, bub."

"I know that.  I want to hire some more."

"You don't know any?  'Cause if you do, there's a shortage and I can find work for them in a jiffy."

"Wait a minute!  You're the placement agency, and you're asking me to find you warriors?"

"Dwarven warriors, sure.  They're worth a premium.  Not like Timmy-the-Window-Licker over there...  HEY!  QUIT LICKING THE DAGGONE WINDOWS!"

Surveying the room, C'nutsakh saw the serving wench scurrying around an exotic entertainer to deliver fresh flagons to two experienced looking... individuals conversing with one another.  He deflated a bit at seeing the group at the front table.  Beard up, chest out, he approached the two conversing at the back table.

HeroQuest figures by Milton-Bradley; Innkeeper, Serving Wench and Bonzo by Reaper Miniatures; Belly Dancer by Flying Frog Games, Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner by Warren Zevon.
"Good day gentlemen, I have a proposition for you."

The white-faced one mutely peered at him from over his flagon while the other poured mead down his neck hole.  

Finally, the evil clown spoke, "Boy, you only got your name two sessions ago.  We're retired."

C'nutsakh didn't know what manner of strange, metal item the silent one held, but when he pulled back a small handle that slammed forward with a menacing CLICK, he realized:

  1. The item is a weapon.
  2. The weapon is far more deadly than any he'd ever heard of, less seen.
  3. These... gentlemen were best left to conduct their business in privacy.
With resignation, C'nutsakh turned toward the group at the front table, and discovered two of the three gazing at him in the same way a fourth-grader does when he knows the answer: Pick Me!  Pick Me!  Regrettably, but unexpectedly, the third appeared to be licking the window.

Without hope for an affirmative answer, the dwarf asked as he approached, "Do any of you have a name?"

The Warrior was still oblivious to anything in the room while Elf and Wizard immediately began examining the floor.

"Wizard is a title", was the barely audible reply.

"Have you at least quested yet?"

"If getting here from across town counts, then yes, and it should."

"Alright, I'm C'nutsakh and you're hired, on condition that you keep the window licker from doing any too stupid.  I know you can't completely prevent his stupidity, but I expect you do keep an eye on him at all times.  Let's go."

As the dwarf led his new grunts, the innkeeper called out, "Hey Dwarf, got any Gold Talos?"

"My name is C'nutsakh!  You'd best remember that, and yes I have... one or two."

"I've got just the thing you need.  A Healer."

This occurred to C'nut as a darn good idea.  "Half a Talos!"

"Two Gold Talos.  This fellow will keep your knuckleheads alive and in the fight."

"One Talos."

"I'll meet you in the middle, two Talos."

"Hey! That's not the middle!"

"The middle of the room", said the innkeeper with an unusual brown-robed man behind him.

"Where's the healer?"

"He's the healer.  Best kind of healer available.  A Florist Friar.  Just be sure to keep him away from sheep.  Only Ewe can Prevent Florist Friars."





Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Name Quest

So yesterday, I played my first game of Warrior Heroes - Legends, and managed to write up a story in the same day.  Today, I played a follow-up, an this is the write-up.  This is the first time in over fifteen years that I played games on consecutive days!  Winning!

"Damn!", C'nutsakh swore when he turned the corner.


Elf quickly pushed his way forward, "I had better be getting my name!... What in the Nine Hells is that?"

As Barbarian stared in mute incomprehension, Wizard softly spoke, "They know we've been here.  That means there'll be at least one PEF.  If we break that Majick® seal, we'll have an immediate encounter with the Big Bad."



"Well, time to kick the doors and steal the whores!", exclaimed C'nutsakh as he pulled open the first door near the Majick®  barrier.  Inside, an orc was tutoring a goblin on the finer points of "interviewing a detainee".



"Say my name, Byotch!" shouted Wizard as the crackling energy of a Damage spell shot forth from his staff, striking the orc dead on the spot.  Seeing his comrade slain in an instant by arcane energies, the goblin did something goblinish.  He ran out the back door.




Right into The Crypt of Not Exactly Unmentionable, but We Prefer Not Bringing it up in Polite Company.



Elf raced into the in shouting, "Skeletons!  Hold my Beer!"

Barbarian rushed forward alongside the pointy-eared adventurer, curses on his face and a snarl in his mouth.  Or something like that.  Doesn't actually matter, because as he raised his massive sword to cleave his undead foe, the mummy grabbed his Fabio-Like mane of flowing hair and smashed his head against the crypt in the center of the room.  Interesting how even though barbarians don't display any use of their brains, removing them does indeed result in immediate death.

Elf slashed his rapier across the nearest skeleton, which fell in a heap.  Unfortunately, as is all too often the case, the owner of this dungeon had stocked more than one skeleton.  Can't blame the dungeon owner, skeletons are just so reasonably priced when purchased in bulk.  The massive scythe wielded by the "Buy-One-Get-One" skeleton instantly decapitated the rather less economic Elf.

C'nutsakh simply swore under his breath as he approached the desiccated scion of unlife and the two became locked in combat.  In a moment of genuine usefulness, Wizard successfully Dazzled the goblin before it could escape again.


As is so often the case with the undead, the mummy stood motionless long enough for what passes for the hero of this story to act with inspiration.  C'nut noticed that the struggle of combat had caused the mummy's bandage to become unfastened in one location; with his free hand, the Redheaded-Son-of-a-Dwarf snatched the loose wrapping and pulled as fiercely as he could, simultaneously pulling the monster off balance and unraveling the wrappings.  As the dried husk leaned off-balance against the sarcophagus, C'nutsakh cleaved his axe down into the animated corpse, sending it back to the silence of death.

Whether Wizard was inspired by C'nut's victory, or he just saw the goblin as "easy pickings", the spellcaster strode toward the stunned goblin in order to strike his staff across the small, green humanoid.

and missed.  


Which isn't all that surprising now, is it?  Spending all that time indoors studying Majick® instead of going outside and playing some sports doesn't help an adventurer in a combat situation, does it?

On the other hand, the goblin had been quite the Qwik player during his time at Evil Preparatory School, and he used his still-respectable reflexes to swing his sword in an upward blocking motion, and Wizard obliged the greenskin by stabbing his left biceps onto the point of the defending blade, at which point, he fainted at the sight of his own blood.



For a few moments, the battles was silenced, replaced only by the labored breathing of the two survivors.  The goblin peered through eyes stinging with fear-laden sweat at the stoic Dwarf surveying the carnage.  In reaction to the colossal display of ineptitude, C'nutsakh lowered his head in a facepalm, and in that moment the goblin made and acted on a desperate, life-or-death decision.  Screeching like The Wicked Witch of the West, he leapt up on the sarcophagus and launched himself toward C'nutsakh like a Winged Monkey on crystal meth.

C'nutsakh didn't have time to think, much less speak or step aside, so he held his arms up in front of himself.  He still had his axe firmly in his grip; the goblin's trajectory sped the poor SOB face first onto the blade.

"When I get back to town, I'm hiring Dwarves only".



Thursday, March 23, 2017

Into the Dungeon...

In 1992, I picked up a copy of HeroQuest at Service Merchandise while shopping for my soon-to-be daughter's crib, and found this to be excellent bait for Valpurgius, Viper and a few others to come by my house while I waited on Milady Awaiting labor.  Shortly after Daughter v2.0® was born, I spotted the expansions at Toys-R-Us, and snagged one.  If I knew then what we all know now, I would've bought every box on the shelf, but that's a different story.  

Back in 2013, I backed Dwarven Forge's first Kickstarter and bought the original Dwarvenite Dungeon set X3, unpainted.  Last November, I painted it.  Also in 2013, I bought Warrior Heroes: Legends.


This week, I'm putting together units for some skirmish warfare, and to demonstrate that rules written for use with any miniatures are typically both easier to play and have more equitable outcomes (primarily due to a complete lack of Codex Creep), I dug out my old Fimir from that game and expansion.  Last night, I saw a post from the Two Hour Wargames forum from a youngster asking how to play an RPG using THW.


This afternoon, for the first time ever, I not only used the dungeon tiles in a game, I also played Warrior Heroes: Legends.  Modified.  Okay, Heavily Modified.  I drew out some tiny tiles and printed each on business cards, each corresponding to a portion of HeroQuest's first quest and shuffled the Gargoyle's room (WHL: Big Bad) into the bottom five cards.  Shockingly, I began to play immediately.


Hey, four years is actually fairly quick for me to get around to doing something.


I present:




Down the stairs they crept, ever deeper into the cool, damp, foreboding darkness.  

They knew Zargon knew they were coming.  


They knew Zargon knew they knew Zargon knew they knew...


Still, incomprehensibly they came...



A traditional start - our heroes at the bottom of the stairs.
Barbarian:  "When do I hit something?"


Wizard: "Good grief, this place could use some Febreeze"

Elf: "That's not the dungeon, it's Barbarian"

Barbarian: "Hey, it's part of my 'own particular idiom'"

Elf: "Whatever.  Dwarf, are you gonna open the door or what?"

Dwarf: "Quitcher Bitchin', Tree Humper" - CLICK

And before them was a dark hallway...



Barbarian:  "When do I hit something?"

Wizard:  "Will you quit with that already?  I told you, you'd get to hit stuff real soon"

Elf:  "Why are we here again?"

Dwarf: "Seriously?  You can't remember that?  You've been hitting the ritual whacky weed again, haven't ya?"

Elf:  "Nah, though that seems like a good idea.  I was trying to give the author a slick way to describe the goal of our quest, rather than simple narration."

Wizard: "Thank you, Elf.  Dwarf, we're here on a Name Quest.  Once we complete a quest, we'll get names instead of these stupid generic titles."

Dwarf:  "Bullshit.  My name's  CENSORED 

Elf:  "Hah!  You dumbass!"

Wizard:  "Shut up, you two and open that door on the left."




As Dwarf stealthily opened the door, Barbarian charged past him, yelling incomprehensibly.  Inside, two Orcs suddenly had their DNA sequencing research interrupted.  Barbarian charged to the closest orc, raised his sword over his head for a mighty killing blow...

... and the orc kicked him in the 'family jewels', bringing Barbarian to his knees, whereon his head smashed against the corner of a lab table, knocking himself unconscious.

Elf remarked, "this is off to a typical start" as he and Dwarf each dashed into the room towards the two startled scientists.  Wizard shrugged and took a tentative step into the room, looked down at Barbarian and quietly backed out into the hallway.




Elf slashed at the second orc; the two locked blades.  Dwarf calmly strode to the first orc, gestured down at the Barbarian and said, "The way you took down that chump was a smooth move."  The instant the orc looked down, Dwarf smashed his target's head with an axe, knocking him to the floor.





Dwarf leapt upon the chest of the fallen orc and spun around.  Covering his foe's face with his cloak, the unleashed a truly horrific "Dutch Oven"; the unfortunate researcher asphyxiated inside the noxious makeshift execution chamber.  The second orc was aghast as such a vile act; Having had more exposure to the stout, beer-swilling Dwarf than he'd ever wanted, Elf wasn't distracted and took advantage of his foe's distraction by stabbing his sword through the humanoid's windpipe.

Considering the stench spreading through the lab, it was most certainly a mercy killing.

Hearing the brawl quiet to only Elf's vomiting, Wizard re-entered the room and announced, "Good work.  Let's see if they have any treasure, and get the meat mountain back up to town."




Elf:  "Wow, thanks a pantload for all that help, chickenshit."

Wizard:  "I was covering your backs!"

Dwarf: "Chickenshit"

One orc had 3 Gold Talos, the other had a food item and a scroll.  Wizard immediately shouted, "Dibs on the scroll!" and snatched it.  

Elf protested, "that's total BS!  You ran away!"

Once again, Wizard insisted, "I was covering your backs" and headed towards the stairs.

Elf and Dwarf exchanged looks, sighed and began dragging Barbarian towards the stairs.

Elf:  "Do you suppose banging his head on all those steps is going to matter?"

Dwarf:  "I've never heard about that being in the rules, so probably not.  Besides, who cares?"

Epilogue

Dragging the unconscious warrior down the dirt path into Weaselton, a voice cried out:

A Voice:  "K'nutsakh!  You made it back!"

Dwarf:  "Keep it down, will ya?"

Elf and Wizard:  "K'nutsakh?"

Dwarf:  "Yeah.  That's my name.  Gotta problem with that?"

Elf turned to A Voice and said, "Say my name!"

A Voice:  "Whaddaya talking about?  You didn't earn a name, dumbass.  And before you even ask, don't", while pointing at Wizard.

Elf:  This totally blows!

Episode 2

Sunday, February 26, 2017

I Was in Search of a Story, and for My Sins, They Gave Me One

After only four or five years and two versions, I finally got around to playing 5150: Urban Renewal.  The following is true in the sense that I fudged no dice rolls...

Lunchtime, New Hope City Pub & Rec district.
"Hey Jerry, do you suppose Mercury Jones is her real name?"

Jerry replied while staring at traffic out the front of the news van, "It doesn't make any difference, Pavel.  She's a hotshot lawyer with big-time connections; she can call herself the Queen of Sheba for all anybody cares.  All that matters is whether her information is real.  The bar should be up on the next corner."


"Relax Jerry, I've been there before", said Pavel as he parked the Galactic News Service mobile broadcast van in front of The Drunken Clam.  As he turned off the vehicle, a sleek, black sports car turned through the intersection and parked across the street.  As Jerry Rivers, the ace GNS investigative reporter, and Pavel Datsyuk, his broadcast engineer, walked toward the building entrance, a well-dressed woman and a large man emerged from the vehicle and began walking towards the same destination.


Jerry lead Pavel into the bar as two uniformed NHCPD officers, Reed and Malloy, were settling their bill with The Samurai.  Pavel greeted the warrior / bartender / chef / optometerist loudly, "Hey John!  How's it going?"

To Jerry, the Samurai's response sounded like a Razorback Growler gargling razor blades, but Pavel seemed to understand, or at least fake it well.  "John says today's special is Ameglion Major Cow, but it's frozen, not fresh", as he led Jerry to a table near the back.


 A moment later, the same woman and man Jerry had seen outside entered the restaurant.  After a quick scan of the dining area revealed only Jerry and Pavel, the large man's grim expression broke into a broad grin, "Johnny!  My man!  What it is!"

The Samurai's reply sounded something like a cheerfully drunken wombat happily fighting a garbage disposal as he set four Pilsner glasses of Golden Monkey on Jerry and Pavel's table, while the newcomers approached.  Jerry began to remark that nobody had ordered the drinks when both Pavel and the large man each raised a glass, turned to the Samurai, shouted, "Sun Wukong!" in unison and took deep drinks of the dark, amber beer


The woman smiled warmly to Jerry and said, "I'm Mercury Jones and this is my associate John Slade.  You look older in holo-cast", as she seated herself while the others followed suit.


Jerry took a drink and looked into Mercury's eye, "So, what's this story you want me to look into?"

"What do you know about Prosperity Corporation and Green?"

"Enough franchises have opened up here in NHC that they opened a processing facility.  So what?"

"Do you know the ingredients?"

"I don't cover business or science human interest stories, why don't you -

Mercury cut Jerry off mid-sentence, "That's what they want you to think.  Haven't you wondered why that new facility is so secretive about their raw materials and waste?  Has anybody at all noticed that the Black Jack abductions began right when Prosperity opened their facility?

"