Friday, December 19, 2008

Enemies and Lovers, both hurt.

I’m glad Kain didn’t ask any questions about where I was going. His discretion is one of the only things that make him bearable at times.

Well I guess that’s unfair but I don’t feel like being fair: some Barnaby-dung eating fool shot me today.

I just don’t get it! We came into this oasis tower unannounced, we found a quiet card game to pass time and wouldn’t you know it, someone calls us out by name and threatens us. It’s just getting real old! I wish they were more original, actually I wish I was less sloppy but maybe we could make a pact to be both:

‘To all polar intelligence agencies, would-bea ssassins, corporate spies and Keff sympathizers: please collectively endeavour not to piss me off with your threats, and I will promise for my part to try and make it as hard as possible to give you the opportunity.’

There, that should work: a silent promise to the sands. The problem is I keep messing up, making mistakes faster than I can learn from them. Apropos, I'm in the bazaar staking out that hotel, I don’t think I'm in much danger of being found; hiding my face with my scarf, wearing desert clothing and sipping root tea like half a dozen other quiet patrons in this stall. She doesn’t see me or she makes a convincing act of ignoring me when she emerges with her small companion. She does look around quickly. I guess nothing looks out of the ordinary because she moves on.

She showed up out of the desert blue today, at the exact same time as that anonymous and now-deceased assailant. Coincidence? I don’t know, it does seem a little too convenient. Am I being cautious or paranoid? Too damned much time with Kain, or too much time in the mid-day sun, same difference.

I drop a coin for the tea and move to follow them. I keep a good distance, I can see her clearly enough, I feel I could find her with my eyes shut. Great, now I’m getting romantic, am I tracking this woman because I’m suspicious or am I stalking her because I’m desperate?

Too many questions with ambiguous answers. I am traveling through a universe of gray where no clean lines exist. She has doubled back, is she lost or checking for a tail? I duck into an open door and make it up to the roof in under 30 seconds. I pull out my scope and pick her up almost immediately.

When we spoke a few hours ago I was un-composed. I was still angry. I asked her to partner-up on the Duelist Casino deal while belying my apprehensions, making it clear I didn’t trust her and yet...

I’m back on street level, she almost gave me the slip a block back, she’s good. That's hardly surprising. She’ll be an invaluable asset. I change my cloak over, rearranged my scarf into a turban and put on goggles, just a Badlander mixed-in with the others.

I trust her, I always have though I don’t want her to know that just yet, she might see that my fears are personal rather than professional. I walked out on her, I walked out on her and her daughter for this mission and I am all torn up inside. I miss her but we can’t be together, not right now and maybe not ever, I’m afraid I’ll lose her so I may as well just keep her at arms length. Wait, am I commenting on how I'm tracking her or how I’m involved with her?

Julie and Lita eventually made their way to a Longrunner and they rolled out of Kolmar Station without incident. I did my due diligence, the local water feeder said they had all come in together that same morning. He remembered Julie, how could he not? The fuel log I hacked on a nearby station pump confirmed the story.

I never really doubted her. I don’t have enough doubt to go around. I barely have enough to keep up with my own insecurities. I guess that makes me a trusting person. Trusting people get shot. Now I just sound like Sam.

Now that she’s gone I hope I’ll be able to concentrate. There’s work to be done. Someone is looking for us and I want to find them first so I can take out a healthy mix of misplaced and justified aggression on them. Introspection sucks.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Weapons and Equipment Guide - Revised 2

As most of you know now, work has begun on a consolidated Weapons and Equipment guide. With my recent purchase of 3G3, we can reverese engineer all of the weapons from the DP9 Equipment Guide, as well as assorted other sources.

I've asked some of you to help me prepare text for transfer to the new Big Guns Book.

Last night, Josh, Matt, and I kicked around a few ideas. We want to shake up the axis of individual weapons characteristics by the use of perks/flaws (like the rest of the game). To this end, we brainstormed a few different characteristics, and I have included what I remember below, as well as a few new ones. Please append your ideas as comments...I will update the main post as we go.

I don't think there will be a hard "cost" associated with these characteristics. We will have to eyeball it! :)

Rounds fired are more stable at long range. Reduce the penalties for long and extreme range by 1.

May be fired with either hand

Ammo Hungry:
Burst fire consumes twice the usual amount of ammo.

Either the Small Arms or Heavy Weapons skill may be used to fire this weapon.

The proportions/layout of this weapon make it difficult to manage, especially when time is of the essence. Drop 1 dice on combat sense rolls when this weapon is equipped.

This weapons vents high temperature gasses (and potentially flames) to the rear, discouraging firing from indoors or enclosed vehicles.

Battle Rifle:
This weapon is designed for the rigours of close and brutal combat. May be used as a melee weapon (club: 5+AD) with no risk of damage.

Bayonet Lug:
A bayonet may be fitted to this weapon, allowing (AD+damage) Melee attacks to be made. Shooting attacks at ranges over Point blank are at -1.

Beaten Area:
This weapon lays down a prodigious amount of fire. When suppressed by this weapon, targets suffer a -1 penalty to their actions.

Belt fed:
This rapid-fire weapon is fed by a belt of ammunition. Feeding and operating the weapon alone is difficult. Attacks are at -1 die when operating without a loader (unless pintle mounted).

This weapon is designed to be quickly disassembled and reassembled. A successful Small Arms roll allows assembly or disassembly in 1 round. (Anyone caught making "No Disassemble!" jokes will be drawn and quartered)

Burst only
This weapon has no single fire mode.

Catastrophic Misfire:
Botches when firing this weapon provoke a catastrophic reaction; the shell cooks off in the chamber, the receiver ejects the clip, or something similar. GMs should be imaginative.

Special care has been taken to make this weapon harder to detect when tucked away. +1 to either Camouflage or Sleight of Hand to conceal this weapon.

Difficult to Modify: This weapon is a high-quality, overengineered piece of... equipment. Parts are difficult to come by, tolerances are very tight, and moving parts are difficult to make sense of or access at all. Just cleaning this weapon requires a PhD. All rolls to repair or modify the weapon are at -2.

Easy to Modify: This weapon was designed with the maintenance needs of the combat soldier and field technician in mind. It is easy to make modifications with nearly any available part, easy to maintain and all rolls to repair or modify this weapon are made at +2.

This weapon is not meant to be used more than a few times, according to the rating. Reduce the Rating each time the weapon is used. Negative Ratings apply to attack rolls.

Prone to damage from impacts, dropping, explosions. This weapon will not function after being used as a melee weapon.

A STR equivalent to the rating is necessary to operate this weapon without penalty. Apply a penalty of the Heavy rating minus the user's STR to all physical skills (including Dodge, and the skill governing firing this weapon).

Heavy Recoil:
The weapon bucks like a mule, making subsequent shots less accurate. Taking more than one shot in a round incurs an additional -1 penalty on the second, -2 on the third and so on.

Hostile Environment Protection: This weapon is designed to be used and abused in the environment listed (terrain type). HEP: Jungle weapons can be exposed to humidity and water, HEP: Desert weapons are reliable in sandstorms, HEP: Cold weapons don't freeze up. A weapon lacking this perk can be used in a hostile environment, but not without great care, intense maintenance or the risk of major malfunction.

Some flaw in the barrel design or inherent limitation makes long range shooting more difficult. Increase the penalties at long and extreme range by 1.

Jam Prone:
Sustained fire radically increases the probability of a jam. Botches occur on any pair of ones, rather than a roll of all ones.

Large Signature, AKA: Loud and Proud:
This is the kind of gun that draws unwanted attention when fired. It's either inordinately loud, has a large, noticeable muzzle flash, generates lots of smoke, dust, heat, or any combination of factors that provide for +2 to Notice checks for those trying to locate the shooter at Short and Medium ranges, and +1 to Notice checks at Long and Extreme ranges.

Made in Timmins:
This weapon was either assembled by retarded blind chimpanzees or made by the lowest bidder--in Timmins. Either way, a botch renders the weapon inoperable. A full stripping and reconditiong of the weapon will restore it to operational status...maybe. (In non-Heavy Gear games, this is called 'Problem Prone')

Magazine Capacity (Low):
Less than standard.

Magazine Capacity (High):
More than standard.

Modular System:
Using a combination of parts, this weapon can be converted to a weapon of a similar type, i.e., pistols could fire different ammo, rifles could be converted down to carbines or up to LMGs, etc.

This weapon requires a tripod or pintle mount to operate.

No Sight Rail:
This weapon cannot mount any sighting devices.

Quick Change Barrel
Only a real consideration in protracted firefights, this MG can have its barrel swapped out (to compensate for overheating) as a single action by a trained loader on his action, allowing near continuous fire for prolonged periods. A single user must cease fire for one round to perofrm this operation.

Rifle Grenadier:
This weapon will accept rifle grenades.

Slow fire:
May only fire once per turn. (Bolt action rifles have this trait)

Slow Reload:
Requires 2 actions to reload, rather than one.

This rifle is designed for precision shooting. When used with the Marksmanship skill, the weapon receives a +1 bonus to called shots.

This weapon features a built-in, purpose made sound suppression system. Alternatively, this weapon is designed with special operations/suppression in mind, and can be fitted with a specially made suppressor which acts as though it was integral to the weapon. Either way, double the number of rounds that may be fired before suppression is negated.

No Underbarrel Mount:
No auxiliary grenade launcher or other large underbarrel device may be attached.

Unsafe Trigger
This weapon,either due to a poor safety or a hair trigger, is prone to fire at inopportune times, like while inside a bouncing armored vehicle or during a tense stand-off.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

As close to Tarantino as I want to get.

TN1919 Autumn:

FADE IN: A well lit office interior. There are people milling about, doing whatever office workers do on a daily basis. This office, however, is the provisional city hall of New Baja, buried deep underground in a submerged MacAllen cave. There is no ambient light, and there is an oppressive feeling in the air. There are secretaries sitting at a central desk/counter area, wearing headsets and working at computer terminals. A security guard in grey coveralls and a pistol at his belt stands lazily nearby. The entirety of New Baja has been put on full alert and lockdown, but he doesn't expect any problems here.

CUT TO: An elevator door. There's a sense of impending crisis. The elevator stops with a soft ring tone, and the doors open slowly. Two determined faces greet us: the Gunfighter, and the Doctor. They quickly step out of the elevator car and into the hubub of the city hall office, doing their best to cut through the foot traffic whilst blending in to the best of their abilities. In the elevator, a grey coverall-wearing guard is slumped in the corner, blood trickling down his nose.

CUT TO: The Doctor's fist, sporting slightly bloodied brass knuckles. From just under his knuckles, you can see a couple of people reacting to the sight of the guard in the elevator. Or maybe they recognize the Doctor and the Gunslinger. They're not new to Baja, after all. The security guard hasn't clued in.

CUT TO: The Gunslinger and the Doctor approaching the central desk/counter. They give the receptionist a withering look.

The Doctor: Excuse me, which way to Mayor Dunn's office?

Receptionist (A little stunned): Er...may I ask who is...

The Doctor (only slightly annoyed): Doctor Chambers, of the New Baja Development Company.

Receptionist (relieved): Oh, yes, down the hall, make a left, all the way to the end. Who is this? (He has noticed the Gunslinger, who, as always, is not operating as though he's completely present and accounted for)

The Doctor (feigning ennui): My bodyguard.

The pair walk off quickly as a cry comes out from near the elevator. The security guard does his job and jogs over to the car, just as the Doctor and the Gunslinger round the corner and quicken their pace. They get down to the end of the hallway. There is a solid-looking door with a simple plaque attached to it at about eye level: MAYOR L. DUNN. The pair take a breath and then open the door.

CUT TO: The office of New Baja mayor Lloyd Dunn. There are three people in this spartan, utilitarian office with a thick glass window on one side (no real view, as it's too dark in the MacAllen cave). In the center of the room is a large conference desk. There is a trideo projector in the middle of the desk, currently shut off, and a couple of chairs for guests of the mayor in front of it. The ceiling is roughly 2.2m tall, and the concrete walls are thick, as is the floor. At the desk sits Lloyd Dunn, a tired-looking, greying man whose face reflects the plight of all of New Baja: compromises to maintain as much independence as possible. No one understands Dunn anymore, a hero of the anti-CEF resistance during the occupation of Baja. He still believes in doing the best for New Baja's citizens, but he has comprimised himself into a corner: the SRID have their hooks in him, the MILICIA do their best to control the city, and while he and the rest of the New Bajans have retreated into their underwater, underground refuge, Dunn knows that it's only a matter of time before New Baja must capitulate. He's desperate, he's cornered, and two of his old nemeses, The Doctor and The Gunslinger, have just walked into the room. Dunn is flanked by two bodyguards. They've just been warned of the pair's arrival.

Dunn (unreadable): Gentleman, what can I do for you.

The Doctor (equally unreadable. The Gunslinger has his eye on the two bodyguards, his hands ready to go for his guns. The two bodyguards are nervous. They're competent, but the Gunslinger's reputation has preceded him): Lloyd. Good to see you. I have something for you. I'm willing to trade it in order to get me and my associates out of New Baja.

Dunn: You have something for me?

The Doctor (removing a datadisk from his duster, places it on the desk and pushes it towards Dunn with a single finger): Plans for a next-generation submarine gear.

Dunn: Is that so? And why would you think I'd help you, Doctor?

The Doctor: Because if we make your life easier, then you can make our lives easier.

Dunn (unreadable, pauses. Then after a moment, he grins): Well Doctor, it's about to get a whole lot easier for you.

CUT TO: The door to the office opens. Four guards in grey coveralls armed with meaty submachineguns are about to pour in.

CUT TO: The Gunslinger's gone for his twin 11mm magnum revolvers.

CUT TO: The Doctor has gone for his heavy pistol.

CUT TO: The two bodyguards have gone for their pistols.

CUT TO: Dunn has gone for his pistol.

The ensuing firefight is brutal, short and chaotic. The Doctor's loud pistol fires, and one of the new arrivals spins towards the corner, shot through the shoulder. The Gunslinger's pistols fire, and one of the bodyguards falls backwards, dead, blood spattering the wall behind him. The other bullet grazes Lloyd Dunn's shoulder. The other bodyguard puts a few rounds into the Gunslinger, but his duster and his flak suit prevent major injury. He remains standing. Dunn fires as he recovers from the attack. The bodyguards rush the room, and open fire with submachineguns at close range. Fortunately, the action is too close, the noise and the flashes too blinding, for any accurate fire. One of the guards begins wrestling with the Gunslinger. The other two take positions in the corners of the room, unsure as to how to proceed. The Doctor rounds the table and is about to shoot Lloyd Dunn when one of the bodyguards sprays the corner down with fire. The Doctor slumps to the ground, badly wounded. Dunn has been hit too, and his shot accidentally hits the bodyguard who just shot him, rather than the Doctor. Meanwhile, the Gunslinger struggles against the guard, and finally breaks free of his grapple. The Doctor and Dunn fumble for their pistols, struggling and grappling, slipping in blood, both wheezing and wincing from their wounds. The Doctor is out of bullets: the heavy pistol does not have a large magazine. Lloyd smirks, aims, and then is shot by the Gunslinger, whose revolvers deal out hot lead death. The remaining guards go down in a flurry of gunfire. The Gunslinger fires at Dunn's sprawled body. Then he walks over to the Doctor, who is barely conscious, and failing to staunch the blood pouring from his body. The Gunslinger helps the Doctor up and they make their way out of the office, leaving a haze of smoke, blood and a ringing echo of gunfire left in the room...

30 Autumn, TN1919

Dear Sir,

We have received your manuscript, and we must reject it. Not only is some of the content (allegations of SRID involvement in New Baja indeed!) verging on the seditious, but we here at Republican Films also strive for realistic depictions of violence in all our work. You might be better served sending this manuscript to a particularly wealthy and bloodthirsty nobleman in the Eastern Sun Emirates.

Good day,

J. Y. Jungers
Submissions editor-in-chief
Republican Films.

Somewhere else:

"I found the tape. It looks like it's been hacked already."

"That's fine. Who's on it?"

"The businessman and the gunhand."


"No, but he can't be too far. At least he's back on our radar."

"He's in New Baja. He's still off our radar."

"Yeah, but he and his crew will have to come up for air eventually. Keep your eyes open. We need to know how he found out about Mishka."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Game Thug's Bookshelf - Update

Want List

Thursday, November 27, 2008


All the caravan trucks have been updated. More equipment/caravan updates to come.


"Cawfee flavour is reminiscent of a mixture of dark cocoa and finely ground, strong, black coffee woth just an hint of cinnamon."

So, I'm back on the hunt for a cawfee recipe. I've sampled a few from the internet (see below), and I'm interested in feedback from you guys. I have some criteria for the recipe:

1. The overriding principle is ease of creation.

2. It must be brewable at home with common coffee equipment. Recipes requiring an espresso machine are fine, but percolated or pressed coffees are preferred.

3. The coffee should be the base, not the flavour. So various roasts/varieties of bean are acceptable, but falvoured are not. Grind may be specified, but remember #1.

4. It should have 5 or fewer ingredients.

Sample Recipes:

Half black, strong, nearly corrosive italian coffee (you know, that thing that seem petroleum [sic])
Half water diluted bitter-dark cocoa (two full teaspoon in half tableglass of water)
A sprinkle of cinnamom (the water soluble type, if not available, a sprinkle of powdered cinnamom should work equally well)

Mix hot, stir until well blended, adjust with sugar and enjoy! (great even without sugar)
Sure is Weird but Tasty!

A very dark roast columbian arabica, served with a Cinnamon stick would achieve the desired flavour.

I work at a starbucks and made that once, except my recipe called for :
French pressed italian roast
Break up some see's dark chocholate into it
Added some of the moch and a few pumps of the cinnamon

Monday, November 24, 2008


The following has been ordered from NK:

Product Title: A.S.T. Leaguebook #2 - Humanist Alliance

Condition: NM
Quantity: 1
Price Each: $7.20

Product Title: A.S.T. Leaguebook #3 - Mekong Dominion
Condition: NM
Quantity: 1
Price Each: $4.50

Friday, November 21, 2008

Beginnings of the means to an end

Kain, Sam, Gade and Tom sat by the truck in the desert night. The last days’ events had left them exhausted, wounded and thoughtful. Beneath the stars in the Badlands, the four sat quietly, some smoking, all drinking, when Tom spoke:

"We’ve set out to build an information network right? A means to obtain information critical to the continued independence of the Badlands."

"I think some additional information would be critical to our survival as well Doctor," responded Kain. He cringed with pain as he shifted in the sand, his fresh wounds helping to illustrate his point.

"The Polars will want to stop us inasmuch as we are successful in slowing the advance of their influence and mitigating their rampages in the Badlands," continued Tom, undeterred in his deductive monologue. An astute observer might have noted that Dr. Tomohiro Chambers was a Polar from the Mekong Dominion, but people change.

"Say what Doc?" was Sam's laconic response, eyes half closed as he cleaned his revolvers with painstaking precision.

"Oh, is that what we’ve been doing, Doc?" chuckled Gade.

"So far we’ve been working on legitimate enterprises which will help promote interdependence and alliances in the Badlands," Tom was still undeterred.

"We have also been making some high profile contacts. This is good, because as I see it, this limits the Polars' ability to come after us overtly and just quash us with brute military power. So that leaves them covert responses. It follows that since we are seeking intelligence, they would use like-agencies against us. They have networks already established, assets and hand-picked agents trained from in-house military resources. We can’t compete with them on any of those levels."

"I don’t disagree with any particular point of your pessimism Tom, but what’s the point?" asked Kain, his curiosity somewhat piqued by the Doctor’s abrupt ponderings.

"I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the fact that we are setting out to build an information network but we can’t fight the existing ones in play."

"What ARE you going on about Doc?" Sam drawled again.

"We’re too late in the game, the stakes are too high and our pool of cash can’t keep up with the antes," replied Tom to Sam, hoping a gambling analogy would help interest the gunslinger in the issue.

"That’s usually when it get interesting," Gade was always enlivened by talk of bad odds, but he continued on a more earnest tone, "so what do we do next?"

Kain’s eyes came a bit more alive, despite his grievous wounds. He had asked Tom that very question a few weeks before, when they had left Kayr-ad Din: what do do next?

"I found myself thinking about the type of people we need, their qualifications, but mostly about their qualities. If we had limitless cash, we could just hire agents, but they would only be loyal to the money we give them. We could never trust them and we could never afford to pay them in such a manner as to make them tamper proof to the other sides.

We need people we can trust, people who believe in the ideals we are fighting for. In order to have a reliable network, we need to build individual bonds of trust with each piece of the puzzle. People like that don’t show up out of nowhere, we have to go find them and then, we need them to come to us," Tom sermonized.

"Oh well if it's that simple...they just come to us. What? Here? In the desert, they just walk out of the desert and..." Sam’s tone was hard to read. There was a bit of scornful incredulity there, perhaps masking real curiosity, but there was something else present when he trailed off.

"There’s the thing," Tom continued, his words emanating from behind a cloud of cigar smoke, "we need people who want to help us because they know they are helping themselves. We simply provide them with the means to do what they already aspire to do."

"So how do we meet these people?" Gade interjected.

"In practical terms in comes down to changing our approach. So far we’ve been doing macroscopic stuff, setting up systems and connections, a framework to operate within. We need to switch to a microscopic approach. We need to get out there and just help people, face to face."

Tom stopped. He wanted see if that had an impact. No jibes followed, no snide remarks. Tom Looked around and saw for the first time that Kain was quite attentive, Gade receptive, but what impressed Tom was in Sam’s eyes: this had always been the core motivation for him and the Doc was finally putting aside scheming and plotting and money making to get right down to it.

Tom leaned in closer, conspiratorially, like he was about to share a secret:

"We want this network to help the Badlands. Well let’s start right now and get out there. Rovers, corrupt local officials, abusive crime syndicates, hell even child pornographers! We just go out there and take care of them, wherever we go, there is some way in which we can use our skills to make things better. Bit by bit, as we go, as we help people we meet those that want to help themselves."

"Those are the people that will join us. Whether we inspire them or just provide them with the outlet they needed," Kain’s words flowed naturally into Tom’s train of thought. It was so clear. So transparent was this simple conclusion that Kain could not believe that it was ever a mystery.

"The only way we're gonna find the right kind of people is by goin' out into the Badlands and meeting them," said Gade, realising that the simplicity of the statement contained the seeds of all their ambitions.

"We help them, they help us help them some more," threw in the Doc, no longer just philosophising on the matter but starting to feel the energy of the moment, of the shared resolve.

“By building a network of people with whom we have direct bonds of trust and honour, no Polar agency will stand a chance," Kain’s subversive mind fought to disapprove of the conclusion even as he said it but he found he couldn't.

"Bonds of patriotism not mercantilism," Tom said with a grin, realising all the implicit irony of the statement but hopeful just the same, "look at your Baker Street Irregulators, Helena Hitachi, Dr. Milton, The Araman, Bill the Brick, the Imashen-"

"There's no shortage of pain and suffering out there," Sam’s even voice broke through with gravity, but it changed in mid-sentence, belying something else, "that we can help stop."

"It’s a self-fulfilling argument: we achieve our goal of helping the Badlands by helping the Badlands achieve its goals," Tom wrapped it up neatly, laying back on his elbow, content with the summary of this debate. He took a long drag off his cigar and looking out into the sands.

They sat there at last, quiet again, some smoking, all drinking. Suddenly the stars in the sky seemed brighter and the road ahead clearer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Metaskill: Martial Arts

Prerequisites: Hand to Hand 2; Melee 2

Various styles of Martial Arts are practiced on Terra Nova. For game purposes, the varying techniques are represented by the development of the following skills. In addition,
the martial artist may add his or her Martial Arts skill level to both AD and UD ratings.

Martial Arts can only be used in close combat, that is, any attack/defense roll that would employ Melee or Hand to Hand combat. As well, certain Martial Arts maneuvers can be used in conjunction with the Archery skill and Thrown Weapon skill (for martial arts thrown weapons like knives and shuriken).

Martial Arts Maneuvers:

Level 1:

Combo/Combo Breaking (AGI, opposed)
Threshold: MoS 2
This operates exactly like the Combo ability for Heavy Gear Dueling. An opposed martial arts roll is made, and if successful the attacker may execute two attacks against the defender with no action penalty. All other actions during the round are penalized by -1.

Zen Mastery (PSY, non-opposed)
Threshold: No MoS required
This ability serves much the same function as Duelist’s Luck does in Heavy Gear Dueling. Once a round, the martial artist may re-roll a combat skill (dodge, attack, parry, thrown weapon), using Martial Arts +PSY instead of the usual skill. This ability can (and should!) be used to re-roll fumbles. The Zen Mastery Maneuver may be used to evade bullets from firearms so long as the shooter is less than 10 meters from the martial artist no dodging sniper bullets, sorry).

Level 2:

Armour Piercing/Disabling (CRE, opposed)
Threshold: MoS 2
Allows the attacker to halve the defender’s AR for melee and long ranged (thrown weapon or archery) attacks. Hand to hand attackers cannot halve a defender’s AR. However against an unarmoured or partially armoured opponent, the Martial Artist can perform a Disabling attack. This attack (performed with the HTH or skill) will do no damage, but leaves an opponent immobilized and incapacitated (conscious or not, left up to the attacker) for a number of rounds equal to twice the MOS of the Martial Arts check (so, a minimum of four rounds). The disabling attack requires level 3 and is also CRE-based. Both Armour Piercing and Disabling attacks count as one ability. A fumble means that the attack misses.

Called Shot (AGI
, opposed)
Threshold: MoS 2
Allows the attacker to place an attack anywhere on an opponent’s body. Alternately, this skill can be used to disarm an opponent, break a weapon, etc. A fumble means the attack misses.

Level 3:

Endurance (WIL, non-opposed)
Threshold: 3+ wound effects
The martial artist can withstand great pain and fatigue by making a skill roll vs. a target number of 3, including any penalties from wounds (thus a martial artist with a deep wound would need to make a roll of 6). Success indicates that the character can mitigate as many wound or fatigue penalties as he has martial arts skill levels. i.e. a level 2 Martial Artist with a deep wound who succeeded in rolling a 6 or more would be able to ignore the deep wound (since it has a -2 penalty, the Martial Arts skill of 2 covers this. The same martial artist with 2 deep wounds, who succeeded in rolling an 8 or more, would be able to only reduce the penalty from -4 to -2.) A fumble forces a HEA check to retain consciousness.

Level 4:

Armoured Skin (FIT, non-opposed)
Threshold: Special
The martial artist can boost his Stamina by 10 for every level of point of MOS over 5 (That is, +5/+10/+20 to Flesh/Deep/Death thresholds). This lasts until the martial artist’s next use of the Martial Arts skill in a fight, or until the GM says it’s no longer in effect (for those times when one wants to walk over hot coals, say). A fumble here is relatively safe.

Metaskill: Heavy Gear Dueling

Prerequisites: Gunnery: Heavy Gear 2; Pilot: Heavy Gear 2

Heavy Gear Dueling is the skill employed by the most elite Heavy Gear warriors to get that extra bit of performance from their machines. Representing a combination of trained skill, natural ability, and the intuition developed through experience, Duelists enjoy a significant advantage over other pilots.

All Opposed Dueling macromoves are only possible at close combat ranges or within the short range band of the weapon(s) being used. The attribute in parentheses is the recommended governing attribute for the roll. Heavy Gear Dueling is considered a CRE skill for the purposes of skill level advancement.

Non-Opposed Dueling Macromoves may be attempted at any time, regardless of target presence.

Duelling Maneuvers:

Level 1:

Combo (CRE, opposed)
Threshold: MOS 2
The most basic macro. Allows you to close with an opponent and at that very short range, take two actions (usually, two attacks). Whether you succeed or fail, -1 to all subsequent Piloting and Duelling rolls for the rest of the turn. The opposed action is called Combo Break, and is a separate specialty from Combo. Failure means loss of action. Fumble means any additional actions that round lost.

Duelist's Luck (CRE, non-opposed)
Threshold: No MOS required.
The duelist can make a last-second creative adjustment to an attack, defense, or piloting roll made at short range. Re-roll the last attack, defense, or piloting roll, replacing either AGI or PER with CRE, instead. The new roll stands, even if it's worse or a fumble.

Level 2:

Area Effect (AGI, opposed)
Threshold: MOS special
Requires a weapon with at least ROF +1. For every 2 ROF points spent, receive a +1 to your roll. The duelist burst fires the weapon so effectively that the effect is the same as if he had used a weapon with the Area of Effect quality. MOS 1 = AE0 attack at half damage. MOS 2 = AE0 attack. MOS 3 or more = AE1 attack. Failure means normal, non area effect attack. Fumble means attack misses.

Armor Piercing Attack (CRE, opposed)
Threshold: MOS 2 required.
The duelist closes so near to his opponent that he can fire between armor plates or otherwise find a weak spot in his opponent's defenses. If the weapon being used is already armor piercing, the target defends any damage at one quarter normal armor. Failure means normal, non armor piercing attack. Fumble means attack misses.

Called Shot (PER, opposed)
Threshold: MOS 1 required.
The duelist can attack and hit any of the five standard vehicle locations: Crew, Maneuver, Structure, Fire Control, or Auxiliaries. A random roll is still needed to determine how bad the hit is. Failure means normal, non called shot attack. Fumble means attack misses.

Push the Envelope (KNO, non-opposed)
Threshold: 5
Usable only at Combat Speed. The duelist can eke a bit more power out of his vehicle's engine at combat speed. For each MOS, +1 MP may be spent during the current round. The vehicle cannot exceed its normal Top Speed. Any MPs not spent are lost. Failure means normal Combat Speed. Fumble means the vehicle shifts to Top Speed, costing one action, and possible engine damage at GM's discretion.

Level 3:

Augment Agility (WIL, non-opposed)
Threshold: 7
The duelist concentrates on piloting his vehicle to the exclusion of all other actions. Any MOS gives the Gear an additional +1 MAN until the next activation. Only defensive and piloting rolls may be made while performing this macromove. This macromove cannot be combined with evasive maneuvers. Failure means loss of actions for the current round. Fumble means -1 MAN penalty to any defensive or piloting roll until the next activation.

Redline the Engine (CRE, non-opposed)
Threshold: 7
Usable only at Top Speed. The duelist can push his vehicle's engine for a bit more than it's capable of. For each MOS, +1 MP may be spent during the current round to Top Speed only. Combat Speed is unaffected. Any MPs not spent are lost. Failure means engine damage, reduces Top Speed by -1 MP per MOF. Fumble destroys the engine.

Metaskill: Gunslinging

Prerequisites: Small Arms 2; Specialization - Pistols

Throughout the Badlands, and occasionally in the Poles, remours are heard about talented and deadly gunfighters. Lightning-fast on the draw and capable of astounding feats of accuracy, these Gunslingers turn sidearms into battle weapons. Offensive Gunslinging maneuvers may only be employed with Pistol type weapons, usually in single-fire mode. Revolvers are overwhelmingly the preferred choice of the reputation-conscious. The Sniping metaskill is not compatible with Gunslinging. Gunslinging may be attempted at all ranges, not just short or point-blank. Range modifiers always apply to attack rolls.

Gunslinging Maneuvers:

Level 1:

Called Shot (AGI, opposed)
Threshold: MoS 2
Operates exactly like the Martial Arts ability (opposed roll, MOS 2 to work), and is useful for shooting very small things without much effort. Fumble means the attack misses.

Gunslinger’s Gambit (PSY, non-opposed)
Threshold: None
This skill is analogous to Duelist’s Luck and Zen Mastery. It allows the gunfighter the chance to reroll a combat roll (dodge, attacks), including fumbles (an important feature) once per combat round. This includes attacks from firearms. The Gunslinger may only use this maneuver in context when he could use any other Gunslinging maneuver: in pistol/revolver combat.

Level 2:

Armour Piercing (PER, opposed)
Threshold: MoS 2
At short and medium ranges with an MOS of 2 (from an opposed roll), the gunslinger can halve the armour of a target. Fumbles mean that the attack misses.

Area Effect (AGI
, opposed)
Threshold: MOS special
Requires a weapon with at least ROF +1. For every 2 ROF points spent, receive a +1 to your roll. The gunfighter burst fires the weapon so effectively that the effect is the same as if he had used a weapon with the Area of Effect quality. MOS 1 = AE0 attack at half damage. MOS 2 = AE0 attack. MOS 3 or more = AE1 attack. Failure means normal, non area effect attack. Fumble means attack misses.

Level 3:

Shot on the Run (AGI, non-opposed)

Threshold: 6, special
The gunslinger reduces the effects of his own movement for the next attack. Each point of MoS reduces movement penalties by 1. This includes normal movement modifiers, but also stuff like shooting from a melee, from horseback/vehicles.

Level 4:

Trick Shot (CRE
, non-opposed)
Threshold: 7, special
Success enables the Gunslinger to can manage shots without having a clear line of sight to the target, either firing without looking, or using ricochets and such. The damage modifier from ricochet attacks is reduced by one half.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Baja Prison Blues

Outside the UnderHang:

Sheldon Crawford tugged at his collar. His tie, as usual, felt too tight, the collar too stiff. He stood outside Ali Hassan's latest establishment, the UnderHang, and swallowed hard. He hated wearing his suit and he hated being a cop.

Sheldon though tback to the days during the War, during the occupation of Baja by the CEF. Back then, he gladly performed all sorts of dirty tricks to tail a CEF informant. Then there were the smuggling operations, the surveillance shifts and the occasional kidnapping. All for Baja. Those skills transferred well to the Regulators, where he and Lenny Green spent most of their time as the closest thing Kain Delacroix had to beat cops.

It wasn't just that Shelly Crawford was a bad choice for cop. He hated interacting with the public. Arrests, investigations, canvassing, press conferences... Shelly Crawford hd no taste for it. But Lenny needed a guy on the street that he could trust, and Shelly was the only Bajan Regulator that stuck around after Delacroix left.

And now Delacroix, and Tarmalin, Chambers and Vonyran were all back and in the lobby of the UnderHang. He looked behind him at hissix-man security detail and let out a private sigh. Mayor Dunn had insisted on the full spectacle: the men were heavily armed and armoured. Nearby, a sniper had set up, rifle bipod resting across the hood of a police car. Two armoured jeeps sporting machineguns were covering the hotel entrances. To top it off, a Pit Bull police heavy gear was idling at the ready, around the corner.

Sheldon moved forward. His men followed. He got the handcuffs ready and cleared his throat. As he entered the hotel, he knew tha tthese arrests were going to be more than painful. Sheldon Crawford hated being a cop.

Inside the New Baja MILICIA Garrison and NB Police holding facility:

"Well, that went better than expected," Julie spat as she and Lenny Green leaned up against the wall just outside the interrogation room holding Kain, Sam, Tom and Gade.

"Your sarcasm is duly noted," Green retorted. The New Baja chief of police scowled, "that could have gone worse. Kain could have jumped me."

"They all look more hard done by than before. Sam seems positively haunted," Julie nodded quietly, and then chuckled, "Tom looks well, even if he's feeling extra-indignant."

"Can you blame him?" Lenny turned and looked the attractive young woman in the eye. Green was feeling his age in years, "Dunn's little maneuvers have put us all on edge. Whatever Hassan is doing, the Doc doesn't like it, and I don't like it either."

Julie nodded, "Hassan and Dunn are both working for the AST now. When's the next election again?"

"Five cycles," the older man turned and grabbed the doorknob, "you ready to come clean to them in less than ten minutes? We've got to do this right, otherwise Dunn will be holding all the cards."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Shotgun Blues

The high pitched grating noise sounding from The Cave irritated everyone withing earshot; only Carmichael, however, was ornery enough to stomp over and confront Kain about it.

"Just what is that damn racket?"

The sound stopped as Kain looked up at Carmichael. "Eh? What?" He held a hacksaw in his right hand. The left grasped the benchvise.

Carmichael stepped further into the shop. "Is that a...shotgun?"

Kain nodded. "Yep." He turned back to his work, the rasping of the hacksaw climbing higher in pitch as Kain shortened the length of his stroke. Moments later, the long, doubled barrel of the weapon dropped to the floor with a clang.


Kain was returning to his bunk to get a change of clothing. After filing the ends of the new weapon he was covered in fine metallic dust.

The interloping object was immediately apparent as he entered his small room. A box lay on his bed, which he approached with an equal mix of curiosity and caution. A cursory look didn’t arouse additional apprehension so he opened the simple cardboard package to find a sawed-off shotgun wrapped in a pink medical tubing giving the effect of a bow. Attached to was note which Kain recognized as being in the Doctor’s hand.

- You had but to ask my friend -

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Baja / New Baja

Baja, TN1918, just one cycle after the Treaty of Westphalia.

A single temporary rail line, set down during the Terranovan assault on the Spaceport, is the only link to the rest of Terranova. You step off the the train. It's a ghost town. The jewel of the Badlands is in ruins. The oasis towers, the downtown core, the spaceport--everything is ruined. There are marauders--rovers gone completely over the edge. Scavengers picking at the remains of the dead city. Shell-shocked survivors now feral and crawling through the sewers at night. And of course, the Spaceport, guarded by a single MILICIA compagnie forbidden by treaty from exploring the wreckage for CEF war prizes.

And of course, the Southern Republic has decided that whatever's left of Baja could be rebuilt--as an AST Protectorate.

In the middle of this charred hulk of a city is New Baja Town, a tiny community of survivors, eking out a life.

They need help.

Khayr-ad Din

Friday, October 31, 2008

29 October 2008 Betrayed in principal

Lenny Green, Chief of New Baja police, got up and left the room accompanied by Julie Pajhola. Flanking them as they left were the last four remaining guards in full riot gear.

“Why the hell do you want a place here?” Tom asked Kain after the cadre had left.

“To have a stake in things that are changing. You didn’t know DeValmont Doctor, she was a pistol, if her sister is anything like her and becomes major, New Baja may have someone sufficiently independent to keep the AST at bay, and that pleases me.”

Chambers just sat there slowly shaking his head. He was well past the point of negotiation or strategy. He looked over at Sam, the only person more annoyed than him in the room. Sam was making up a list in his head, a list of people to kill. Chambers wasn’t that far gone, he was still capable of reasonable thinking and he was putting that to use trying to come up with the best tactical way out of this mess. No, nowhere near as far gone as Sam yet, but not nearly as far along as Kain, Chambers wasn’t getting over this travesty just yet.

As for Gade, well, who the hell cared what Gade was going through! Tom was able to see that Hassan kidnapping charge that Green used to pull them off the streets was trumped up, Green had told them as much, but Gade didn’t give Tom and Kain the benefit of reasoning it out for themselves. He withheld information and in light of this and his other recent weaknesses, Tom was watching the scales of trust tip against the gear duelist.

“Is it OK if I kill Miss Julie?”

The cold delivery, the innocent tone of the question was enough to shock Tom out of his fitful reverie. Tom didn’t know how to answer right away. Alright, so Sam was really pissed-off and trying to occupy his mind but to ask that about the woman that Tom loved? As much as the question was revolting in its sincerity, Tom was more disgusted but the hesitation it elicited in him. He had to think about it and it was making him physically ill.

Tom chalked it up to anger and a sense of betrayal. He hadn’t been this incensed since Kain pulled the little disappearing act before entering Kayr-ad Din and left him holding the bag. At first Tom couldn’t see why he was so mad, the two situations were so completely different, but as he applies reason to the wound like a balm, he soothed himself into a frame of mind allowing for better insight.

Upon some reflection, he saw obvious parallels between the two instances. In both cases he was caught off guard and unprepared for the emotional weight of the situation. To Tom, information was something inherently desired, not only a means to an end but an end unto itself. He needed to know, he reacted badly to the unforeseen and his inability to prepare and anticipate was a personal failure driving him to doubt and self deprecation. Tom knew he was mad at himself for not seeing this coming. ‘This was supposed to be a holiday’ Kain’s words echoed in his mind and Tom knew that he had left his guard down.

A luxury he could ill afford and he as paying the price. And like a vicious slap to the face he knew why he had been blind.

“No Sam, you can’t kill her, she’s going to run the casino, Besides, you can’t kill anyone yet, were negotiating.”

Kain’s even response was meant to cool heads, he was taking this in stride after all. But Tom was still queasy. He could rationalize the situation and see his own overreaction, his own failure and push past that, but there was true, deep and affecting betrayal. Miss Julie has ensnared him, had not trusted him, she had delivered him to the witless Green and his amateurish plan. She sent them right to Hassan’s place; no wonder the cops were there before they even had time to check in. She had personally betrayed him, he tried to see her point of view, tried to mitigate the situation with hypotheticals involving pressure and outside dangers he was ignorant of but it was all for not. She had betrayed him. If she had needed him, he would have moved the Pacifica range to come to her aid. But she didn’t call on him, he fell into her web and she delivered him to Green as a convenient tool to get whatever they needed done.

“The difference between you and me Kain is that you left here disillusioned and disenfranchised by New Baja, I left with my illusions intact and now... You expected this from them, I know, but I didn’t. I never expected her,them to do this to me.”

Cold flame licked at every word as they poured from Tom like the tongue of an acetylene torch. Only no one was burnt or cut by his words save Tom himself. In fact he could see relief in Kain’s eyes. Yes, something had changed, Kain must have been apprehensive about latent loyalties but Tom was in the same boat as him now and that just garnered more of the southerner’s elusive trust.

“I guess you know what it feels like now.” Kain said, as if he need to.

“I’m serious I’m going to kill people.” Sam continued on his quiet and repetitive tirade.

‘Yeah’ thought Tom, that might feel good just about now. “Kain, get them back in here so we can settle this and get the hell out of this hole”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cost/Benefit Analysis

"Okay, everyone, listen up."

Kain stood on the wide rear bumper of Uptown, looking down on the assembled crew. Konnor and the Cardanos stood off to one side, and Jarlson and a handful of his mercs sat amongst the Dak Paracommandos, who had been demonstrating their technique using the "airplane hand" technique embraced universally across humanity. The merry-making in the wake of the Green Gang's defeat had continued for a number of days now. Not that work wasn't being done; in fact, efficiency was being maintained, according to the work orders Avatanya was returning to him. Rather, the pressure of being in constant readiness for the past season had finally been released, and the caravaners were eager to live life a little looser than before. Watches, of course, were still being kept, and Kain and Kelly had a good patrol schedule worked out. Just in case.

"I have a few announcements.

First, in consultation with Doctor Chambers, it has been agreed that Tessa Lin and Karin Hassan have more than proven their worth to this caravan. I am satisfied with their marksmanship--I think them unlikely to shoot any of us 'by mistake'--and their overall commitment and level of skill now entitles them to full share status as members of this caravan!"

Both girls were clearly surprised by the announcement. Their reaction wavered for a moment between eye-rolling and delighted whoops before setting in as wide, delighted smiles. Kain gave them a nod.

"Second, as far as caravaning goes, we haven't done much of that. I hope you haven't become too comfortable here in Trash Town, because it is finally time to roll out. Our official departure date is 6 Autumn, 1919. This means that, if there are any essential luxuries you can't face returning to the Badlands without, you should get them soon!

To assist you, my third announcement is...a cash bonus.

Every single damned one of you has again demonstrated that a finer crew could not be found. You are the toughest, most determined, orneriest, professional, completely insane band of raggedy-assed rolling merchant/fighters in the Badlands! You deserve to get paid! I'd be afraid not to! Ellen will cash you out, or let you reinvest according to the usual terms.

Lastly, and this is an announcement I regret to make, the Doc and I and a handful of others have to take a quick detour. We'll be leaving the caravan in the capable hands of Avatanya and linking back up with you later. I know I can count on you all.

So, charge your glasses...and let's have a toast to the [insert cool name...The Guild? The Awesomesauce?] caravan!"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tigger and Green

At the Battle of Baja, TN1917...

"Sergeant," Captain Bell saluted and then nodded. It was early morning, and B-Company's commander had actually managed a two-hour sleep. It was a well-earned luxury out in the hills surrounding the CEF-held city of Baja. The Bad Boys of B-Company would be going into the thick of it today, having spent the last two days hiking in their gears, getting into position to flank a major CEF outpost.

"Good morning Cap'n," the young mechanic replied quietly. He had slept an hour. Tigger had needed some major work. But the mechanic was certain he had done his job right.

Tigger was the Sabertooth Heavy Gear that Bell drove. A command variant of the Tiger heavy trooper gear, Tigger was fast, lethal and well-protected. Extra armour around the cockpit was standard for the Sabertooth. That was good, since Captain Bell led from the front. His only request was that his gear be tended to with extra care.

"Rough night Sergeant?" Bell looked positively radiant compared to the scruffy mechanic. Neither man had shaved or bathed in over three weeks, "I suppose you'll be able to get your rest soon enough. Let's see what Tigger says."

"You betcha, Captain," replied the mechanic. He had already started up the gear's APU and was running one last diagnostic. He scratched his chin, tugging at the whiskers there. He'd have to shave, despite the sand and the fatigue. Didn't Vasquez have a solar powered trimmer?

Bell climbed into Tigger's cockpit and fired up the engines. He plugged into the communications system.

"She's purring like a kitten. Good job, sergeant."

"Thank you sir. It was nothing."

"That's probably a lie. There's something waiting for you at the PX after you get a bit of shut-eye," Bell's voice was even, but he certainly appreciated how much work went into getting a gear that had been through three weeks of cross-country travel ready for a crucial assault. Other gear engines were starting up in the distance, "gotta get moving Sergeant. See you on the flip side."

"Sir, I still don't know what that means."

"That's alright Sergeant," Bell chuckled as Tigger began loping towards the rally point, "neither do I!"

The mechanic watched as the Sabertooth half-skated and half-prowled around a bend. Tigger had been doing that before he had been assigned to the gear. He shook his head. No one could explain why the neural net insisted on that sloppy start, and only after maintenance work had been done. Captain Bell insisted that at all other times Tigger responded with 'great bounce.'

"Hey Sergeant, where's my gear?"

"Oh, hi Lieutenant Green," the mechanic turned to see the sneering face of the company's XO, "she's right over here." The Mauler Bear, an anti-GREL machine loaned to the Bull Dogs for the assault, was under a camouflage tarp.

"You got her ready?" Green sneered, "I've got lots of work to do today."

"Everything checks out sir. Good hunting."

Green Anton nodded.

Friday, October 24, 2008

All we ever do is talk: Part 3

Ellen was busy at work. Between the tournament, the Badlands Caravan Guild and the new confounded Casino idea, she was swamped in paper work. She heard the office door chime and looked up as Konnor came striding in. He flashed her his patented smile and a wave of his hand. But before she had time to speak Tom was out from his office and by her side. She frowned. She never got to have any fun.

"Konnor!" the Doc began, "good timing! Come on in. Ellen drop whatever you’re doing."

'Sure,' Ellen thought, standing while managing to stifle a sigh, 'it's just your work anyway.'

She and Konnor entered the Doctor's office. It was a little less sparse now that a number of trinkets and ornaments from various sponsors adorned the shelves and walls. Bill Pearce was sitting in a chair opposite Tom's desk. Ellen sat on the couch with Konnor and took out her electronic note pad and stylus. Tom pulled his chair from around the desk and scooted up close to them next to Bill. Before speaking he surveyed the faces around him.

"I’m leaving town for a while and I need you all to hold the fort," Doc Chambers began, "Bill, the caravan is pulling out of Khayr-ad Din by week's end. Right now it’s our second best recruiting tool and I need you to keep doing what you've been doing until we pulled into this trash heap. Talk to caravaners, homesteaders and clans and get them onboard. You guys will be moving a bit. Ben and Avatanya will be in charge of destinations, but wherever you go, you are the diplomatic corps. Keep the message alive in my absence Bill." Tom slapped Bill on the back. The young man and the Doc had gotten pretty close since Bill had been shot. Ellen swallowed hard and kept taking notes.

"Which brings us to our number one publicity device," Tom turned to Konnor who had the good sense to realize that the Doc was talking about him, "I would just like to congratulate you, Konnor, on another great score yesterday in the dueling tournament. You are doing wonders for the BCG. Why, Ellen can barely keep up with the applications and the ballots for the Neil Motor Works prize."

Ellen smirked. She was keeping up just fine. The Doc continued:

"I need you to do me a favour Konnor. Whatever happens in the tournament, I need you to represent the BCG next week when we draw the winner for the Longrunner. I spoke with the NMW rep and some of the Spider's people, and we're all doing a hoopla just before the end of this series. Will you do it?”

Konnor shifted a bit in the Barnaby-leather couch. "Uh Doc, I can do the thing, that’s no big deal, but I got a question: if the caravan is moving out, um, well I hate to seem ungrateful but..."

Tom waived him off and stopped him from stammering.

"I’m sorry Konnor, I’m going about this all backwards. First things last and all. I’ve just finish a lease deal with the Spider’s midget today: we have a place for you and the Cardanos to set up shop to continue working on your gear. Trust me, you’ll find it a bit roomier than sharing the Cave with Gade and Carmichael. In fact, you will be kind of christening it." Doc Chambers smiled at Konnor's confused look. It wasn't that Konnor was stupid. It was just that he had other things on his mind nearly all the time. All the logistics that the Doc was so good at didn't come easily to Konnor at all. But that's what Hector Cardano and his son Leon were for.

"You see, this is a gear bay capable of housing a score of gears, it will be the base of our duelist-themed casino. The high rollers'll come to gamble where the Duelists work on their gears and carouse. It’s actually just outside my window here, right next to this tower."

Tom was up now and pointing out of the office window. Konnor just smiled.

"Doc, you guys are too nice. And just think, if I hadn't scrounged up Gade's big ol' revolver like that out in the Maze, we'd have never met." Konnor chuckled as he followed Tom's finger to a little patch of free space in the Core, "alright, sure, me and Hector and Leon...we can handle that sort of thing."

Tom sat back down and looked smug. He turned his attention to Ellen and some of his joviality waned. She was sitting crossed legged, her arms crossed, with an accusing brow raised right at Tom. He cleared his throat and tried to regain a cool disposition.

"Ellen, I need..."

"Save it Doctor Chambers," Ellen used Tom's full title to denote just how nonplussed she was. "I’m not going to stay here alone while you take Sam to run off somewhere and the Caravan leaves town. What am I supposed to do in Khayr-ad Din alone? I didn’t sign up for this."

"Ellen, please." Bill and Konnor did their best to admire the scenery.

"No." Ellen had learned much from the other strong female caravan members.

"But Ellen, no one else-" the Doc began.

"Take as much crap from you," she interjected, "I know" pause, "I told you before, I don’t work for you."

"Ellen," the Doc knew that he wasn't going to get any help from Bill.

"Save it, I’m sorry," she said flatly, "I don’t want to make a scene Doctor."

"Guys, will you step outside just a minute?" Tom breathed out slowly, "Konnor stick around. I want to show the place."

Bill and Konnor left the room with obvious relief and closed the office door behind them. Ellen sat resolute, her position was the same, her body language was unmistakable.

"Actually, Ellen," Tom began, "you work for the caravan and the lines are pretty blurred where that ends and where the Guild begins. We all have our roles, for some of us like Jo and Pete that means taking bullets. I can’t do much more for them, but they are staying here in town under medical supervision and that means someone has to stay here with them. I am taking Sam on a little trip to try and see what I can do to shake him out of the funk that has lingered over him since we got here. I am also going to go and take care of a personal matter and try and make up for a very big mistake I made at the expense of the woman I hope will forgive me and spend the rest of her days with me. But the larger picture is that the Guild needs to be stable here for a while and the Casino is still in its fledgling phase. I need you to do your part and allow me to do mine. I need you to stay here with the wounded and maintaining this base of the organization that Bill is going out there to help build. Will you do that for the caravan if not for me?"

Ellen didn’t make eye contact with Doctor Chambers. The edge in his voice, the switch from his exited cheery disposition to the stern paternal figure that chastised her sense of devotion made her shy away from his eyes. She thought he was being selfish at first, but it was about duty. It was always about duty. He was doing his and she had to do hers. She simply nodded, and he didn’t say anything as he left.

All we ever do is talk: Part 2

Kain sat on the sandy desert soil. The sky was dark, save where stars twinkled and the points on the horizon where Khayr-ad Din shone brightly and the caravan compound eeked out a faint glow. He breathed deeply, slowing his heart rate. He tried to feel the earth beneath him and the energy which traveled from the core of the world to the point in his center. He could hear Koldur’s voice clearly in his head:

"Feel the strength from the sands fill you. Become that strength."

As his senses expanded in the martial art-induced meditative state, he was aware of the approach of two men long before he could hear the soft sound of sand shifting under feet. He opened his eyes, un-alarmed as he knew who to expect. Tom dropped down in front of him, a smile barely discernible on his face in the dark. As he sat, from behind the doctor, appeared Ben. Taking a cue from his guide he sat next to Tom facing Kain.

"Thanks for coming out Ben," Kain began, "the Doc and I wanted a bit of privacy to discuss things."

"And here I thought you were going to whack me," came Ben’s soft reply.

"Benjamin, if I killed you, I would be depriving myself of the pleasure of watching you suffer through each day knowing I am right and you are wrong."

"About what Kain?"

"Uh, everything? I thought that would be obvious by now."

"Kain what you consider to be self-evident is the product of your own delusional narcissism, not reason. As such, only you can perceive this constructed world in which you claim to be right." Ben's retort had a hint of pontification in it.

Tom interjected before Kain could reply: "Gentlemen, I am not a sufficient audience for you both to begin yet another ideological demolition derby."

"Very well Doctor, we’ll come to the point. Ben, Tom and I are going away for a short while."

"We’re taking Sam and Gade with us to." Tom threw in. Kain continued.

"Avatanya will be running the day-to-day operations of the caravan while we are gone; you guys are hitting the road again. I need you to look into the names on that list while you are out there."

Ben nodded sagely; there was gravity in Kain’s voice as he mentioned the list.

"Ok, is that it?" said Ben.

Kain just looked at him through the dark before Tom spoke up.

"Yeah, that’s it. You and Avatanya work out the route together. We already told her to defer to you on all questions of navigation and scheduling. You should also know that Bill will be speaking to you to know where the caravan is going."

"When are we moving?" Ben asked.

"Just as soon as we hand over the Sedated Six to the Marshall after tomorrow," said Kain, who paused before adding, "I don’t need to tell you just what-"

"No Kain, if there is someone you don’t have to have to explain anything to, it’s me," Ben cut in quickly.

It was only when Tom felt the mandatory ominous silence between the two old "friends" had made a sufficiently dramatic mark on everyone present, that he finally spoke. "Gentlemen, I think we could all use a drink."

All we ever do is talk: Part 1

“Kain, I need to get back to New Baja.” Doc Chambers started without preamble. He and Delacroix had been sitting in lawn chairs observing an impromptu ball game that had sucked in a dozen members of the caravan crew. In spite of urging by Karin and Tessa, the newly-dubbed R/C twins, Kain and Tom were quite content to sit it out and play the role of referee on an occasional call.

It was the day following the assault on the Green compound and spirits were running both high and liberally depending on the sport. At the moment, the two spectators were imbibing their spirits along with ice and a tropical Southern fruit juice.

“You know part of why I have to go," the Doc continued, "and you could guess at the rest. I need to talk to Dunn face-to-face and settle some accounts. I also need to talk to Julie.”

“About the casino?” Kain asked before taking a long draft of his beverage. The Doc gave him a non-committal look and Kain just smiled. “Ok, I can’t begrudge you your taste Tom, she is quite the woman.”

Tom smiled somewhat sheepishly from behind his glass, drips of condensation beading down. The moment came and went as a furrow creased his brow.

“I want to take Sam with me, keep him busy you know; maybe a change of scenery will do him some good. Come to think of it, I might suggest that even Gade might want to come?” Tom had fixed his gaze on Natty by this point. The young woman was running to catch a long ball, hands extended.

Kain just looked at his partner for a moment and then let it pass. “Hell doctor, I think I could use a vacation too. Let’s go get out of the sun in New Baja”

Thursday, October 23, 2008

23 October 2008 Flying yellow death from above.

Ms. Elira Nandy
Suite 302, Colbrook way.
Badlands Quarter, Peace River.

Fall 5, TN 1919

Dear Mother,

Though I will always be your son, I write you now as a man. Today I stand a little taller, a little prouder. I know that I am more than what I was before and for the first time I don’t know my limits.

Like many great men and woman of our generation, I have now been tempered in the fires of pitched battle. I experience my own personal Baja yesterday.

I told you about the troubles we’ve had, attacked on end by rovers and rogue gears; well it has all been orchestrated by a disaffected tyrant by the name of Green Anton. This puke has been after us since we got to town and it wasn’t plain bullying, he was out for blood.

Well yesterday we showed him. I am man enough to admit I had some reservations when Kain Delacroix, our leader, picked me to join the assault team, but you should have heard the speech. It wasn’t for me, it was for everyone else. He told them all he had faith in me, that I was going to make them proud.

We were a special infiltration unit, part of a greater all-out assault on Green by a mixed force of paraglider commandos, mercenary gear units and infantry. Green was held up in a fire base, confident in his bastion. We had to go in and root the coward out.

We entered through a secret tunnel but soon were in danger of being uncovered and the whole plan would have fallen apart. It was all up to me to save the entire attack. Kain and I heard an approaching sentry drone, as the others pulled back he and I deftly climbed to the ceiling and held in silent wait for our prey. Kain dropped behind it to attach the fiber optic wire, while I managed, still clinging from the rafters, to pull the fastest hack ever and deactivate the drone while it was still moving. It was brilliant. Ever the quiet professionals, there was no time for self congratulation, we pushed on.

We entered the base in the gear and tank motor pool bays and split up. The Doc and his team stayed there to cover our retreat and disable as many gears as possible so they would be combat ineffective. Me and my team moved deeper into the heart of the base, straight to the command center to deal the critical blow.

This is when things got hairy Mom, this is where the men are separated from the boys and techno geeks from the warriors. The Paraglider commandos delivered their attack. Muffled whoomfs alerted us to their job well done. Then we took it up a notch: Mortar fire. Our support was pelting our enemy with mortar fire and finally the most brilliant bit of unconventional weaponry since the wooden horse, we flew in a tanker truck and dropped it on them like a giant incendiary bomb.

Using the main assault as a distraction we assaulted the command tower and surgically overtook their security room. Inevitably though, our luck ran out and we started meeting real resistance. Sam got pinned down in the cross-fire, but he was a constant hail of silent death from his pistols. I had taken up a strategic position out of fire, Kain was trying to get to a vantage position. Avatanya, who is mentally ill, blew up a perfectly good wall instead of using the doors to try and get around behind the enemy. A lot of grenades went off all over. I saw my life pass before my eyes and then Josephina was hit. Time slowed down but before I knew it, it was all over. Apparently Sam had used a large explosive called a satchel charge. It was a pitched battle. I saw Kain kill a man with the butt of his rifle. Blood lust can affect some of us like that in battle.

Meanwhile the Doc and team B came under fire and pulled back, they managed to skirt around the attacking force and come back up behind them, that’s called outflanking. A strategic mistake pitted them against 4 gears. Under normal circumstances they should have been finished, but Gade made a suicidal attack with another satchel charge to save his comrades. You know, I’ve heard about heroics, but when you get down to it, you just do what you gotta do to save the comrade next to you. I get that now. The Doc jumped into a gear and took out another opponent and Gade, still recklessly fighting against the laws of probabilities took on a rather large gear, a modern day David and Goliath.

I moved to the communication room and broke through the jamming so our main force could advance. We used remote guided axel-born explosive devices. That’s guerrilla warfare talk for car bombs with R/C. They were so demoralized when we started dropping big yellow dump truck of death from the sky on their heads! That is when they gave up.

Gade caught Green trying to escape in a gear and that is pretty much it. Today is another day, the beginning of the rest of my life. I know its hard to understand, I didn’t understand until I went through it, but there is a powerful bond that binds us together. I know I am now more than just part of the team, more than just their resident genius, I am now a brother.

I love you Mother.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Preparations 2

"Alright, try it now!" Natalia called into the comm, a little frustrated.

There was a moment's hesitation and then a loud whoosh came from the Spitting Cobra's two rocket packs. They were firing in unison. This made Natalia very happy.

"Excellent!" Ari replied through the comm, "great work Natty."

"Thank you Mendelbaum," Natty smiled tightly to herself. The Spit's fire control system was rather cantankerous, and it took her a few hours to get the two rocket packs to talk to each other through the gear's neural net. Still, she noted that Kain would no longer be pestering her about linking the two rocket packs. That was something.

"Alright, I'm ready to try the designator," Sam's voice was eager in the Iguana.

"Copy that," Avatanya and Josephina were ready with the first guided shell for the caravan's heavy mortar, captured long ago in the final battle with the New Baja Gang.

"Oh man, it feels weird using this mortar," Sam rambled a bit. It was true. The two heavy mortars of the New Baja Gang had caused much havoc for the Regulators back in Baja. This would be the first time the weapon would be fired since its capture. "Target designated. Fire when ready."

Josephina and Avatanya nodded to each other, gently lifting the large shell into the breech of the mortar. Most mortars were fed from the muzzle, but this weapon was so large that it had a breech. Lifting a 45kg shell over your shoulders was deemed impractical by the Paxton team that designed the mortar so long ago. The two women backed away from the mortar and hid behind a low wall. The shell had been modified to hold a guidance chip and deploy fins for terminal guidance. Tampering with artillery was never a good idea. Josephina held the remote trigger.


The mortar kicked down with a loud thump.

"Hey, guys, any day now. This is getting ... whoah." Sam stopped talking when the round impacted with a loud explosion.

"Well?" Avatanya asked.



"What was I aiming for again?" Sam asked, "because, it's not here. Neither is the shack that used to be next to it. The designator works."


Kain looked at his visitors with the skeptical look fathers tended to reserve for their children's more peculiar requests.

"Aww..." Tessa and Karin whined in unison, "but everyone else is busy! It's so boring! C'mon Kain, we can help!"

"I just think it's better if you stayed here with Peter, Ellen and the Imashen, just in case we need to get moving quickly," he replied.

"But...but..." Karin recovered first, "but we're better at it than anyone else in the whole caravan!"

That elicited a raised eyebrow from Kain, "really now?"

Both teenagers nodded solemnly.

Kain hit a button and spoke into a mic, "hey, Gade, what's the range on those R/C units you're putting into the trucks?"

There was a pause for a moment. Kain kept his eyes on the datapad he had been looking over until Gade replied.

"About 2km, give or take."

"And how many trucks do we have?"

"Three ramp trucks, and..." Gade paused as he checked with the rest of the crew working on the trucks, "a half dozen flyers."

"Thanks Gade. Your pilots should be there in about five minutes," Kain flipped the comm off and turned to the two girls, "under no circumstances are you to talk to any of the mercs unless there's an emergency. Once all the trucks are deployed, you are to take a jeep back to the caravan and wait with Ellen. If your position comes under fire, keep your heads down, crawl back to the jeep, and meet Ellen at the caravan. Wear medium flak. Take your sidearms. Do not use them unless you absolutely have to. Are we clear?"

"Crystal!" replied Tessa sharply. Karin nodded.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

No Stealth Suit Required

The Core tower radiated heat in the noonday sun. The central oasis tower rose up from the trash of Khayr-ad Din and anyone willing to suffer Helios' harsh rays was treated to a spectacular view of the ramshackle trash city from up on the observation deck. Sergeant Eric Grossman, formerly of Les Parachutistes Infanterie Maritimes 21ere Regiment, was braving the heat, gazing out onto the city below him.

"You know," Grossman talked to himself, a habit he picked up during the war, "we need a name. And we need a way into that base."

The paraglider assault was a key component of this scheme Kain and Doc Chambers cooked up. Grossman was being paid well, and that meant that his end of the bargain had to be upheld. The lack of a team name was also a problem. It bothered him that the six of them couldn't come up with a name. Especially since this would be their first airborne strike since the war. It wouldn't be right to go into battle without a unit name. He leaned back against the bench and squinted up into the sky.

"Wow, it's hot. What do they say? 'Mad Dawgs and Norlights go out into the noonday sun.'" Grossman chuckled. He supposed that made him a Norlight then. Before the war, the idea would have been insulting. Now it just made him laugh. He watched the daks circle high in the sky; the ambient temperature meant that the large flying lizards didn't have to flap their leathery wings - there were plenty of thermals to keep them afloat.

Grossman smiled. He just solved both his problems. He just had to get inside before his brain baked in this heat.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Slow down.
Breath, breath, breath.
Concentrate on the breath and slow everything down.
In, out, inhale, exhale.
Slower, slower, slower.
Focus and…squeeze.

Careful not to move, not to tense up, the action is over but it is one in a continuous flow.
I adjust my sights, I look closely, inspect the target area and see the contact.


Still breathing, I focus on the breath, on the action as a transient moment through which intent travels on the way to purpose. It is both its own end and a means to another end, like each breath it serves its purpose but is part of breathing which itself is just another part of a greater whole. A fractal image of cause and effect.

Inhale, exhale. In, out. The bolt slides in driving the 10 mm bullet into the breach and out as it slips back to locked position for firing. Smooth as breath, I do not falter, I do not strain, I focus on the target. Focus. Concentrate. Inhale. Squeeze. Exhale.


Slowly each movement flows like a concerto, each action a note, a singular perfection in harmony to create perfection in unison. Concentrate, breath, cut. Slowly end the incision in a flowing arc upwards. Keep the pressure constant, you are the scalpel, its part of you and through it you express action drawn from the inner intent. Move slowly. Move ever so slowly.


Precision is a form of prayer, a meditation which allows the soul and the body to communicate through the act of concentration. Focusing though the sights of a rifle or on the line of a scalpel is one and the same. Center on the intent, on the action, not the circumstance. This is how you get through murdering your enemy from 400 meters or a dear friend from 4 mm.

Breath, breath, slow down and concentrate.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Preparations 1

"Alright people, listen up," Kelly's sous-sergeant voice rang out in the open space between all the Longrunner trucks, "we've got a full week ahead of us," she looked around at the assembled caravan crew, her gray-eyed gaze settling on each of them for a moment: just long enough to leave an impression. It was a talent well-honed on this crew.

"A really tough, long week. I'll read out the roster assignments and you'll get to work ASAP."

Everyone fidgeted. Ari scratched himself and grunted.

"Brom, you're on trucks. Same goes for Trishaw," everyone knew Kelly meant business when she addressed the crew by their last names. It meant that she alphabetized and categorized the list on the datapad she now held in her hand, "Imashen, you'll be helping them."

"Knox, get your medical supplies in order. You'll be liasing with Jarlson's people to establish a casualty collection point."

"Mendelbaum, you'll be prepping gears. I don't know how many of ours will be involved, but you had best get them all stocked, fueled and ready to roll."

Kelly looked down at her datapad and nodded, "Meredine, you'll be doing some optimizing on the Spit. Link the rocket packs. Then see if you can't scrounge us up a Target Designator for the Iggy."

Natty nodded, taking down notes on her own electronic notebook.

"Trishaw, once you and Brom are done trucks, go help Mendelbaum."

Then Kelly took a deep breath and read off her list: "Cantor, Dragushan, Meredine, Nandy, Pearce, you'll be doing small unit infiltration techniques and some range time with me," she looked at Prabal Nandy while tried not to sneer, "joy."

"You've got your chores. Meet me back here in ten minutes for some calisthenics," Kelly LeBeaux frowned. Everyone departed.

Everyone but Prabal Nandy.

"Er, excuse me, Kelly," he began, nervously looking over his shoulder as he approached her, "I think you made a mistake."

"Oh?" that statement brought an eyebrow up. Kelly was already checking another list on her datapad, and hadn't yet looked up at Prabal.

"Yeah, want me to do infiltration tactics and ... calisthenics? Range time? With you guys?" Prabal didn't know if he should be terrified, indignant or possibly flattered.

"No," Kelly began, still looking down at her work, "I don't want you anywhere near a firing range, Nandy. But Delacroix thinks that you might be useful on this job, so if he decides to take you along, I figure you had better not get me killed," Kelly's angry eyes were leveled at Prabal.

"..." the hapless computer hacker was in over his head.

"What the fuck do you want, Nandy?"

"Do I get to carry a shotgun? I think I'd like a shotgun." Prabal was in over his head, but he didn't know it yet.

"Oh fuck me," Kelly growled. Then she stomped off.


The plan called for a small fleet of trucks to be loaded with explosives. It made perfect sense to her. There was some hair-brained plan to use trucks with ramps built over top of them as a way of driving trucks over the walls too, but that didn't concern her.

No, Avatanya Brom's only job was to rig trucks to explode. It was strange, she thought, that she had never actually done this before. The last time she drove a truck like this, someone else had rigged the charges. They didn't go off, thus sparing her life as she collided with a CEF convoy truck during the Battle of Baja.

She chuckled as she worked on the detonator of the first truck that was delivered to her. The irony of the situation was not lost on her. She thought back to Emil Brahms, the other Regulator with any real demolitions experience. When he heard Avatanya's story, he nodded sagely, and then calmly explained why the charges had failed to fire.

"I should have cold-cocked him right there," she mumbled to herself. Instead, Avatanya had listened intently: professional interest. It was entirely rational to know why she had lived. It meant that if it were to come to suicide trucks again, there'd be no misfires. Entirely rational, back then, in the aftermath of the War.

"I've gone soft," Avatanya shook her head ruefully.

"Yeah, I bet you have," a gruff male voice replied.

A scowl already formed across her face, "Carmichael, didn't expect you to be here yet," she said without looking up from her work.

Carmichael leaned on his cane, looking over the collection of trucks small and large. He grunted and wordlessly walked over to a lawn chair near one of the trucks. There was a little twinkle in his eye as he considered making trouble with Avatanya. But there was real work to be done. He took out a small portable computer and double-checked the designs he had drawn up. Ramps on the backs of trucks. He shook his head and smiled. This was his sort of plan.

Friday, October 10, 2008

09 October 2008 Showdown

"I tell you, I've never seen anything quite like it." Malone spoke earnestly; his wide-eyed expression communicating more fully the incredulity he felt.

"We came out of the meeting with them, and the saloon was deserted. I mean empty. Not closed. Cleared out in a hurry, food-still-on-the-stove, drinks-in-glasses-on-the-tables empty. Bushwhacked. Delacroix and his crew, they seemed to know what was up immediately. All he says is, 'You didn't leave a guard outside? Us neither. Oh well.' That's what he said. 'Oh well.' Like, 'I left the fan on. Oh well.' Or, 'Left the lights in the car on. Oh well.' And then it got crazier.

"Two of 'em, the doctor fellow and the dirty one with the huge knife, they went to check out the back. I swear on the grave of my mother, all we heard was shootin', yellin', the crash of bodies, and explosions-- What? Yes, explosions, as in multiples thereof. We heard that stuff, saw some smoke, and then they came back, covered in blood, blackened by smoke, and, may the Prophet strike me down if I lie, literally peppered with shrapnel. Sticking out of their armour, all over 'em.

"And if that...if that weren't enough, while that was happenin' out back, in front, that crazy sumbitch with the revolvers, he's outside facing off against four of them. I couldn't hear much of what they were saying, but what I did hear din't make no sense. Tarmalin, that's his name. He's talkin' and talkin', and suddenly there's a shot. I didn't know at the time, but Tarmalin shot their leader, Bill West, a cold hombre if I ever met one, square in the face from all the way across the road. I didn't get close enough to tell, but I think Delacroix said he shot West through the mouth. Blew the back of his head out. There were some other shots, and then Delacroix charged out, hefted an LMG out of their truck, and opened up. He cut one of them off at the legs. You remember Sonnegan? Like that. Stitched across the knees. Tarmalin killed another, while under fire from Green's sniper, and then Delacroix fed a couple of bursts up onto the roof and it was over. Four of them, totally bushwhacked, and they took out all 7 of Green's top men.

"With no casualties. Tarmalin took one in the shoulder, but otherwise they were untouched.

"When Chambers first sketched in his crackpot ideas, and Delacroix started going on about paragliders, I thougt their whole portion of this op was gonna be a wash. Cracker-jack nutjobs don't belong in the field with senseible folks. But after watching this...being there...well, it puts a bit of a different perspective on it.

"I guess what I mean is, there is no doubt that these guys are crazy. But hell, crazy like a fox."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

02 October 2008 Medical Log

Dr T. Chambers
TN 1919, S35

(Sigh)Attack on caravan compound by mortar fire, two wounded one fatality. KIA: Pankat, Loran, 22…just 22 cycles. Fatal trauma from propelled secondary explosive materials. Probable cause of death was blood loss from multiple points of entry, notably, right carotid artery. He didn’t suffer. At least, that’s what I told his sister. Patient: Lin, Tessa, 18 cycles…Some minor lacerations and haematomas, minor displacement of the femoral, braced with splint and topical dermal trauma treated with standard sealant. She’ll be fine, maybe a bit freaked, but she’s from Baja, she’ll be fine. Patient: Smit, Peter, 52 cycles. Peter took major shrapnel wounds, perforation of the kidney, left lung which subsequently collapsed broken humerus, dislocated right shoulder with possible rotator cuff lateral tear, Right tibia compound open fracture with associated nervous and veinous damage. I’ve splinted the fractures, Knox and I managed to inflate the lung and derma-staple the affected internal organs. I started him up on an IV of anticoagulants to prevent clotting...goddamit it was close! I am so out of practice…Personal note: start working on your damned field surgery skills again doctor.

Additional. Medical File update for patient Salome. Tendon and ligament damage to right hand. Complete loss of use, given the extent of the trauma, conventional plastic reattachment will be futile, full re-growth candidate. Though I hope no one bothers with the bitch.

Medical File update for patient Voneran, Gade. Open subfile on ICD-10 code F19. Found stimulants in his bunk confirming suspicion I’ve had for some time now. He has displayed a psychotic break characterised by anhedonia and severe apathy. Possible atypical personality defect or traumatic relapse. Personal note: Kain thinks he’s feeling displaced guilt, which seems like a pretty good assessment, not suprisingly though, he does have the insight in to the mind of a sociopath. I guess I do have to beef up my psychiatry after all.

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