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> System Failure, New Orleans on super-steroids?
ShadowDragon8685
post Sep 4 2005, 12:44 PM
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Okay, I was shootin' the bull with Aku, thinking about the System Failure stuff - bear in mind, I don't have the book or pdf - and we were thinking.

It occurs to me that System Failure might be like New Orleans today, with less soldiers, MORE military hardware, and a whole hell of a lot more lawlessness.


Think about it. A complete system crash. Everybody's cut off from everybody. Only the people who have authentic RF radios can talk to each other, and only as long as their power will hold out. Lone Star basically evaporates, trying to protect it's own interests, some NAN nation, possibly Tir, possibly something else altogether decides to take advantage of the bedlam and stake their own claims on Seattle.

Shadowrunner activity jumps up to redlining beyond capacity, as the only security anyone can count on is the security they pay for in hard goods like guns, ammo, gems, metals, etcetera. Everyone takes advantage of the chaos to basically start a free-for-all in downtown, anyone who's ever been disgruntled with the government realizes that the G has been kicked firmly in the jewels by a troll PhsyAd, and if they want any of their own back, all they have to do is take a gun and go get it. Nobody'll be any of the wiser, all the fancy schmancy electronics and stuff that monitor crap is offline. The Shiawase Nuke goes offline and goes under terminal lockdown, barricading for a protacted siege, power outages hit, the Matrix is down, guess what... All those fancy security gear is so much junk.


It sounds like fun, dosen't it?
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Demonseed Elite
post Sep 4 2005, 01:47 PM
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The System Failure does create lawless zones like that, but it's not a complete global collapse. Some areas end up far worse than others. I definitely think some areas of Seattle would be a real mess.
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Synner
post Sep 4 2005, 01:58 PM
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There are a couple of sections in the Aftershocks chapter of the book which address this kind of collapse and its implications and possibilities. The section also addresses other direct fallout from the Crash and EMP strikes some of which is not readily obvious but hold great potential.
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ShadowDragon8685
post Sep 4 2005, 02:14 PM
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It's not a complete global collapse?

Darn. That would've been bitch'n.
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blakkie
post Sep 4 2005, 02:23 PM
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QUOTE (ShadowDragon8685)
It's not a complete global collapse?

Darn. That would've been bitch'n.

When you are already lying in the mud how much further can you fall? ;)
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Demonseed Elite
post Sep 4 2005, 02:27 PM
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QUOTE
It occurs to me that System Failure might be like New Orleans today, with less soldiers, MORE military hardware, and a whole hell of a lot more lawlessness.


I actually wrote a section of Shadows of Latin America that now really eeriely reminds me of the whole Katrina situation. Hopefully that sees the light of day soon.
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Snow_Fox
post Sep 4 2005, 03:12 PM
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I'm thinking kind of like Seattle in the Dark Angel TV show.
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Synner
post Sep 4 2005, 03:47 PM
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That reference is particularly appropriate in some sprawls following System Failure.
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SL James
post Sep 15 2005, 04:57 PM
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QUOTE (Demonseed Elite @ Sep 4 2005, 08:27 AM)
QUOTE
It occurs to me that System Failure might be like New Orleans today, with less soldiers, MORE military hardware, and a whole hell of a lot more lawlessness.


I actually wrote a section of Shadows of Latin America that now really eeriely reminds me of the whole Katrina situation. Hopefully that sees the light of day soon.

Another killer hurricane hit Central America?

Anyway, to suggest that I was disappointed with The Tree of Liberty, which is 90% of why I have the book in the first place, is a monumental understatement. I have been planning for something spectactularly brutal for several PCs for six months now, and in light of the circumstances I needed to write my magnum opus, so I picked what should have been an interesting story which was relegated to virtual obscurity. Oh, well, more creative license for me. This is particularly helpful because the story takes considerable liberties with how outclassed the Secret Service would have been in this story, but it makes for some fun reading (assuming you find it fun to shoot your favorite PC in the back of the head).


QUOTE
War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

-- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty.

Samantha sat on her bed, mindful of the pact she had made with the devil. She didn't have to make this deal, but there were other considerations � Considerations for whom she was dealing with, and whom she was responsible to, and for. The devil's intentions were pretty clear. They had been since the moment Emma showed up in the hotel after her rendezvous. It was a message. They could get to her, and they could get to the people she cared for. But they needed her. She was the only person with the access, knowledge, and abilities that they would need to breach Heaven. She was unwilling, but she had no choice. Instead, she performed what had been her greatest act of subterfuge to get them to accept that she instead did.

Dealing with the devil had proven to be beneficial. Her conflict with management had cleared up within an hour of the meeting. Four months of bitter conflict and acrimony over procedures and legal interpretations had ended with a half-hearted apology, and an upgrade to base her future pension upon. However, she would have to leave the Secret Service. Instead, she was being recalled into the Army, promoted to Colonel, and assigned to the Joint Task Force Seattle working for Maj. Gen. Colloton in the Military Intelligence staff. She would be coordinating intelligence and counter-surveillance operations for the increased activity that came with an election year. Election years were a massive pain in the ass for the agency, and that was exactly what the meeting was about. With Samantha in charge of the military's counter-surveillance support, Seattle would be well prepared.

Meanwhile, for most of the agents across the country, as well as the numerous other federal agents who were tasked for protection from the rest of the Department of Justice, this was the time to ramp up activity, deny all leave, and accept that for the next 10 months they'd be on constant high-alert. Right now they were focused on the primary season as it came to a close. Super Tuesday was in a week, and there would be no fewer than six candidate protection details, including those for POTUS and VPOTUS, plus the Cabinet-level officials who also received constant protection.

Standing up, Samantha had forgotten for a brief, peaceful moment, that she came into the room to change out of the green officer's BDUs she wore. She ran her left hand through her auburn-colored hair, grateful for the leniency afforded magically active personnel, including herself, in the Army. She was the rarest of the rare few adepts in the officer corps, one of only four social adepts in the entire federal government left, and the only one in the military. Her best friend for twenty years had left the government shortly after the summer of chaos to work for Knight Errant. Combined with the previous expulsion of Emma from the group, it was down to the four of them. Even with Emma still on the payroll, she wasn't going to be allowed back into the group without a massive penance to pay for her betrayal. Given the circumstances, the young woman hadn't learned from her past.

-----

Jay sat crouched in position, mentally visualizing the various data streams coming into his field of vision. He had become a superior operative in the last two years, especially after Everett. He realized that he had been lacking something, and it was in fact the decking and rigging capabilities that had come to make him a fearsome operative. He had learned from the best, and in turn had sworn to never betray them even in spite of his current occupation. He had even gone so far as to walk away from Knight Errant after recovering from Chico-Oroville. He didn't even register the emotional scarring which used to come from thinking about the sniper's bullet that nearly killed him. He double-crossed them, in the process earning the protection of a new sponsor.

The information from his drone network was coming at random intervals of very low-powered transmissions. He had picked up on EMCON tactics very quickly from the rigger. As it was, he was more concerned with cracking the Matrix security system in the PLTG. He still didn't understand why security rigger and decker protocols were different, but it made his work easier to deal with one thing at a time. The system cracked easily enough, and he had Superuser access to the entire system. Slaving the information feeds from the cameras and various sensors to a display grid which was automatically fed to his teammates, he stealthed his way through the system focusing on the next act: taking out a waiting security rigger.

Opening up access to the Closed Circuit Simsense system via his remote-controlled electronic warfare spider drone, the building's rigger didn't know what hit him. Jay pierced through the defenses, immersing himself into the sensations of CCSS protocols. In the simsense world, the space felt cramped and constrained as he and the security rigger occupied the same space at the same time. Jay felt the roof door opening, but he knew the rigger was blind with the cameras and sensors under his control. The space "flexed" as he felt the rigger try to forcefully expel him from the network. Jay focused his will and pushed back, unsure as to whether he could take the rigger. If everything went according to plan, he wouldn't have to. Cam would be in the rigger's booth soon enough, and offline shortly thereafter. But in the few seconds it took the elf to reach the rigger, the two riggers exerted sheer will over each other, coming to a draw more often than not as they both felt doors open and close, and movement through their hallways. The struggle felt like an eternity, but just as the rigger was refocused for a possible deathblow, he faded out of the system.

Jay's BattleTac, updated via his Matrixlink, blinked with a new text message: "Rigger neutralized." He flexed his senses, feeling out every part of the building at once. In the space of approximately thirty seconds his team had achieved total battlespace dominance. The building was theirs. As he covered his teammates, he relaxed a bit. His new employer demanded perfection, which he was glad to live with. He even found himself very comfortable with the one overriding rule he had to follow: No wetwork. He'd killed enough people for one lifetime; he could live with never having to do so again.

-----

Santiago sat in the cargo truck and waited. He was glad to be out of Seattle, away from the people and the bureaucrats that he was forced to deal with on a daily basis. Out there, there was no bureaucracy, and with his FBI badge and credentials he was one of the few people here who could even claim much of any legal authority. Out here, he was the Law. The man sitting next to him in the cargo van dealt with that on a daily basis. He was the Resident Agent for the Butte Reservation. It was one of the larger Anglo reservations in the NAN, and existed specifically to piss off, or on, as the case may be, the Sioux Nation. Ron was a large man. He had been in the military in one of the special operations units, some said Delta, but Santiago knew better than to ask. He was always heavily armed, and the two FBI agents sat in the truck waiting with their customized M-4 carbines sitting in their laps. Butte was a pretty lawless place. The only time Ron or his three field agents really interfered was for major incidents. In Ron's case, his work interfered with his real business--smuggling miltech hardware from the UCAS into the Sioux and the rest of the NAN. Ron's phone rang, and he answered it with his left hand, keeping his right hand on his gun. He spoke briefly, and then flipped the phone closed.

"They're here." Santiago's enhanced hearing picked up the turbine whine of a Banshee LAV approaching as Ron hung up, and he spotted the faint infrared signature of the stealthed-out LAV. A few seconds later, he picked up a second, and then a third.

"I know." He also knew a jammer "convoy" was unorthodox to say the least. It was more dangerous, and more expensive. However, this was a critical shipment. The LAVs appeared, growing from faint spots in the sky to the familiar shape of a smuggler's thunderbird. They landed about 50 meters away from the truck, kicking up dust in the parched earth where they were parked. The engines were cut, and Ron and Santiago stepped out of the truck, approaching the LAV. Santiago's night vision enhancements picked up little as the dust from the landing hung in the air around them. The two agents approached, carbines slung and at the ready as they approached.

The forward hatch of the first t-bird opened, and two people crawled out. They were also armed, and they approached the agents quickly. Both wore flight suits with helmets, and one also carried a small box Santiago could see as he approached. It was a credstick reader. The four individuals met 25 meters from their respective vehicles, and nodded to each other.

"Here," Ron said as he pulled out an ebony credstick from his shirt pocket. He handed it to the person with the credstick reader, who snatched it quickly and plugged the stick into the machine. It took a few seconds, and then the machine's exterior slid back a small port. Ron looked at the reader, and pressed his thumb against the machine. It was a thumbprint reader and DNA scanner. He pulled his hand back after the machine beeped in satisfaction. Seconds later, the person holding the machine removed the stick and handed it back to Ron. He slid it back into his pocket, everyone satisfied with the outcome. The person holding the machine put it up, and then removed their helmet. A petite blonde woman's face appeared from behind the black carapace of plastic and electronics.

"Your cargo's anxious," she said as she grabbed Ron. He let go of his weapon, and brought her closer to him, kissing her passionately.

"Well, then we should let them out."

"Indeed," she replied. She looked over at the other figure, and nodded. The cargo hatches for the three t-birds all opened simultaneously, and boots hit the ground as soon as the ramp was lowered all of the way. Santiago and the helmeted figure approached the LAVs while Ron picked up the woman and they both laughed as they walked back to the truck.

There were two dozen armed men in UCAS Army BDUs outside of the LAVs. They had begun to offload equipment, some of which were in pretty large boxes and crates. Santiago stood and watched, weapon at the ready, next to the figure. They said nothing to each other. All that could be heard was the sound of men giving orders to each other to grab crates or be careful. They were quick and efficient, and had offloaded the three t-birds in a few minutes. The twelve men then approached Santiago as the cargo ramps closed. They stood as a loose group. All of the men were older, well-muscled, many with beards or other facial hair. They looked battle-tested, because they were. All of them were men, and all of them were human, and most of them were Anglo. Santiago knew from Ron that all of them had seen combat in the Yucatan, in Bug City, and in the Arcology.

"You must be Santiago," one of the men said as he approached the agent. He extended his hand to Santiago, who responded to the man's steel vise grip with one of his own. "I'm Major Reilly, and these are my men. I've led all of them into combat in some of the worst hells imaginable. They are the finest men in the Army."

"Excellent. We're going to take you into town, and you can get practicing in the morning with the others."

-----

"Are you ever going to let me forget that you saved my ass in Seattle two years ago?" the large man asked his dinner companion. They sat in a very dark restaurant, in an ever-darker corner booth. The man was grey-haired and built like a fullback. His grey-green eyes pierced through the darkness, focusing on the throat of the man across from him. He sat, arms crossed, with a scowl on his face. David Moore was not a patient man, and not one to admit that he owed anyone anything. However, it was hard in this case because the man across from him saved him from a fate worse than death.

"Of course not. But this isn't about that. This is about the future. This is about one final mission for God and country," the handsome blonde elf said to his companion. He toyed with a half-full glass of Scotch that cost 100� a glass. He wore an obscenely expensive suit and a wry smirk, having been involved in political intrigue just as long as Moore had for his own agency. Both were private contractors now - officially.

"I don't want to have anything to do with them anymore," Moore replied. He'd had his fill of the UCAS after they tried to have the Russians disappear him in Lapland five years earlier. They didn't exactly do that, instead keeping him in a hellish gulag, forcing out his cyberware and mind raping him for the secrets his brain contained about UCAS espionage against Russia and Asian targets before he was "rescued" by a group of mercenaries and re-trained as a sleeper agent for two years. When he woke up in Buenos Aires, he found himself traveling halfway across the world before he ended up in Seattle dealing with the blonde elf, whose sick sense of humor included going by the code-name, "Reagan." When the UCAS again tried to disappear Moore in Seattle two years ago, he was saved at the last moment only by Reagan's actions.

"I meant our real country," Reagan said. Moore continued to sit silently. "Are you interested?"

"Yeah... Fuck, yeah," the large human said. If it meant fucking with the UCAS, he was all-in.

"Good. Meet me here tomorrow morning." The elf slid a piece of folded paper across the table to the human, who took it and pocketed the paper without looking at it. When he looked up, Reagan was gone. David Moore took a moment to focus himself, and then he ate the rest of his dinner in silence.

-----

The two women stared at each other, although an invisible third might almost assume it was some twisted mirror image. They were in a sparse bedroom decorated sparsely in all white. The woman standing was in a professional-looking Zo� business suit. She was a young woman, or at least looked that way, with dark red hair and fair skin with sharp features. The faces of the two women were virtually identical. Suddenly alert, the other woman sat up and stared at her own face at the foot of her bed.

"Why did you do it, Emma?" the woman in the suit asked. "Why did you do that to her?"

"I had to. I didn't have a choice, and they needed to prove that I wasn't capable of what she was."

"She made a deal,� the woman said through half-clenched teeth. Her fury was palpable as she crossed her arms. Her face and skin tone became distorted as she lost her concentration and focus. "A deal to protect herself, her daughter, from YOUR boss!" she yelled. "How could you put her in that situation?"

"I didn't put here there, Sonia. She was already in their crosshairs. I probably, no, I did... saved her life. She wouldn't have done it otherwise, and the general has too much to lose. She'd be killed for sure." Emma looked Sonia in the eyes, staring into the nearly black irises of the woman's natural eye color. Sonia had shifted her appearance back to her own, an older light-skinned Latina with her own sharp features, and far from the appearance of the woman in the bed.

"It was bad enough when she was doing it for Clark," Sonia said to herself.

"What are yo..." Emma began to say.

"Shut up!" Sonia yelled, interrupting the rest of the woman's sentence. "So ... now she's the general's pet expediter..." Emma said nothing. "Fine. We'll talk... later." With that, Sonia walked out of the room. Emma sighed, and placed her forehead in her left hand. This was supposed to get her back in, only now it made things so much worse. She pressed a button on the nightstand as she stood up, and the curtains opened, revealing a pre-dawn panorama of Washington from her apartment in Crystal City.

-----

"How's life been treating you?" Jay asked as he sat in Samantha's living room. He looked calm for the first time in years, for the first time since he left the Preston Detail.

"It's been better. Things have been very busy lately," she replied. It was a bright September day, and they hadn't even spoken to each other in sixth months. It was Labor Day weekend

"Really? I figured you'd be pushing papers for generals or something," he said.

"Yeah, but there's a lot of paper."

"You are so full of shit. You've never pushed paper in your life."

"What about you? How has rehab been going?"

"I finished months ago. I'm much better. Working for a new employer."

"Really? Anyone I know?"

"Yeah. I've got a couple teammates. One is a former Ghost. He's not as good as Connor, but then, who is, right?"

"True."

"What do you think of the election so far?"

"Well, it looks like there's going to be an imperial presidency, which is never good. I mean, you know how much respect I have for the current Administration, but they're going to be around for a while barring some massive scandal."

"Yeah, I don't know."

"I've never known you not to have an opinion on politics, Jay, or about them. You hate Daviar just as much as I do."

"I don't know. I guess I've had a change of heart, but I mean, what the hell were they supposed to do? A lot of this just fell into their laps."

"Sure... Who'd you say you worked for, again?"

"I didn't."

"No, I guess not."

"So, what's this about the military providing security assistance with the campaigns? Is there something going on?"

"No. You just know how it is with election years. It's just picking up the slack, especially since some of the additional security providers have just been busy with other things. Besides, given the circumstances in Seattle it's necessary to maintain communications with the military forces operating here."

"Right..." Jay started to feel uncomfortable. Why was she lying to him, and why was she so blatant about it?

-----

Samantha had been running around all day. The world had effectively come to an end about two hours after her head hit the pillow. She was going to have to be at SEACOM, but she had to take Lauren to her in-laws first. They were up and the whole neighborhood was armed to the teeth. The private security guards took ten minutes to let her into the gated community, and her in-laws even had security personnel on their property. She made her way through the city, which was easier because the streets and highways were deserted. Most the locals were still asleep, or others would be trapped in their buildings. The drive down I-5 was lonely, with the occasional Lone Star cruiser or Metroplex Guard MPUV driving down the street. Some places had already woken in Renton and Tacoma, and there were pillars of smoke rising in the distance. To make matters worse, it was still dark, and the weather had been frigid and rainy for days, but now it just seemed so much worse.

That was twenty-four hours earlier. Once the city woke up, all Hell broke loose. The city was under siege, the governor had declared a full-scale state of emergency and ordered up the Metroplex Guard. The skies were barren with the exception of a couple of Air Force jets circling over Downtown. For only the second time ever, every aircraft in the UCAS was grounded on orders of the FAA and the Corporate Court. Fort Lewis had gone to ThreatCon Delta - complete lockdown. However, Governor Lindstrom requested the assistance of the Army and JTF Seattle, and so they were providing some assistance to the denser population cores in controlling looting and gathering information while limiting access to returning personnel, such as Samantha. Meanwhile, Samantha had been tasked with the unenviable position of commanding the Task Force's special mission units and coordinating with other federal and corporate covert operations groups as well as shadowrunners to go after the virus' firmware "eggs" as General Colloton disappeared, recalled back to Washington. She knew why, but she didn't want to think about it. She hoped it wouldn't happen, especially now, but now was a prime strategic moment to pull it off without actually arousing mass suspicion.

It was 3 A.M. when she received the call from the SAIC. They were going to need every available resource. POTUS and VPOTUS had debated about the issue all night in-between containing the Crash. Someone had to go out there and put a positive face on the situation, and they still had an election to win in less than 48 hours. The Vice President was going to go on a massive cross-country 30 hour campaign tour starting in Seattle and moving her way east, around the great Lakes and up the Northeast. The campaign stop was now going to require a massive security presence and military support thanks to the breakdown of most critical infrastructure in the city. Samantha took this information in, and realized that she was now in charge of the security coordination with her CO absent and incommunicado, and the three brigadier generals busy elsewhere. The Acting Commander of JTF Seattle, Brig. Gen. Daniel Perez put her in command of the coordination and overall security support operation.

As she began to re-task units to Sea-Tac, Samantha received a short communiqu� from the command center from the General. It simply read, "Defend at all costs." She crumpled up the paper and stuffed it in her pocket before grabbing her sidearm. She flew to the airport with an Air Force Phoenix Raven team from McChord. The Ravens were the Air Force's most elite anti-terrorist force protection unit specializing in force protection for airfields and aircrews, and these soldiers were going to coordinate with the Ravens and Secret Service agents onboard Air Force Two. They took over the entire airport, and various campaign supporters were already showing up at the gates, and an area was cordoned off at the north end of the airport. The Vice President would make a speech just beyond the jumbo jet surrounded by a large security presence with as many guards that could be spared given the fact that civilization was collapsing around them. People were pissed. Soldiers were scared, anxious, angry, confused, and preoccupied by the visit. Some people understood, but a lot of the locals, the Lone Star cops and Metroplex Guardsmen were really pissed. With most of the federal agents and military personnel from the UCAS proper, they were more concerned about family and friends they hadn't heard from yet.

Samantha hadn't thought about her own family. He brother and his family lived in Boston, which was now even more dead that Seattle. She expected him to survive. He'd kill to protect his family until he made sure they were safe. That was because her parents had raised them to be tough and absolutely ruthless when it came to family. Their parents, Jesus, they were in a city which had already seen so much catastrophe in just the last decade that at this point even the crash of the Matrix wouldn't faze them. But it was while she paused to think about that when she heard a familiar voice in the large hangar doubling as the ground forces command center.

"Sam, Jesus, you're alive." It was Jamie. How'd he get in here, she thought.

"Jamie... What the Hell?" she replied. "Who are you here with?" It hit here as she turned to look at him. He wore a tactical combat vest and khaki cargo pants with a carbine slung across his chest. He wore an ID badge with the Draco Foundation logo on it with his face and name. He'd sold out to the enemy.

"I'm running a special security team on behalf of the DF and Knight. The Service was glad to have our help, especially since my team is led by a former Special Agent." As he spoke to her, Jay spotted a familiar face across the hangar wearing an FBI "shoot-me" jacket in the form of Special Agent Caldera. He was talking to a group of Army officers in BDUs, the familiar Special Forces logo and the Ranger tab on their left shoulders. They were heavily armed and quite fearsome in their appearance.

"Great. Let's go over your role with the others." The rain stopped, but the federal agents, corpsec, cops and soldiers all representing a dozen different entities were too busy to notice. Even DocWagon was on the scene with a HTR crew just in case. Every time the President or Vice President arrived anywhere, especially during a campaign and even more so in the middle of a global crisis, the whole world stopped around them. Police, rescue, medical, and control personnel were tasked to specific duties. Some people were removed from the area; others were coming in to support the massive logistical operation that accompanied them any time they left their offices in DeeCee. Most everyone thought this was a stupendously bad idea. The hundreds of personnel present and tasked with supporting the visit should have been helping to rescue people, quell crime and looting, and save lives. Instead they were protecting a campaign speech.

All of the personnel got the final warning as they had taken up positions across the airport and the tarmac. Jay's team and a unit commanded by Samantha took up positions so they would be on the opposite side of the aircraft as the Vice President. At 5:17 A.M. the large jumbo jet landed, and it rolled across the tarmac escorted by MPUVs. It was mostly visible by its taillights, as Samantha watched through the low light contact lenses that she had put in just before taking up her position. It was coming, she thought. She could feel it. Many of the people she had just met with would be dead, and she still didn't have a full idea of what was going to happen. As she listened to the radio traffic and the constant comm checks from everyone on the scene, they focused their gazes outward for external threats from outside of the airport. At this point, no one hid the fact that they were armed. They wanted everyone to know it. Above them, but below the cloud cover, two escort fighter jets circled overhead along with the jets that had been scrambled from McChord and from the USS Koontz.

Sam stood in the cold, carbine at the ready, and waited. It wasn't a matter of if, but when. Would it be as the plane rolled across the tarmac? Would they wait for her to get out? Would it be during the speech, or perhaps later if she walked the rope line before leaving for Milwaukee?

The plane came to a stop, and a staircase was moved to the forward hatch. There was a tent canopy set up in the event that it started to rain again, and to provide rear cover for the protectee while affording some measure of ballistic resistance. Inside the tent were a half-dozen Secret Service agents and the hardened podium that could stop anything short of a rocket.

Samantha's visual senses transitioned to the astral plane, and she looked out around her in a 360-degree field, noting the various spirit cover and three astrally projecting mages circling the area. The agents and the crowds were a mix of emotions and astral impressions, some magically active, some cybered, the vast majority were unmodified mundanes. It was like any other appearance, except that this was too perfect. The Vice President walked down the steps to cheers and applause from the crowd, as people yelled and whistled and cheered, many holding up large Haeffner/Daviar '64 and other campaign signs. She entered the tent surrounded by some of the best agents in the Service with over two hundred armed men and women plus a considerable drone and spirit contingent protecting the site, and the woman at the podium began to speak. She was remarkably charming for a mundane, although Samantha had her suspicions. A sufficiently advanced Initiate could easily mask her nature even to an Initiate like herself who did this for a living. She could see the Vice President from behind flanked by agents; more agents stationed along the crowd barriers facing out at the crowd and more watching behind them while Samantha assensed them all.

The Vice President spoke for twenty minutes, and that's when all Hell broke loose. Samantha was facing out at the edge of the tarmac to the east, away from the crowds. She continued to assense the area, and suddenly realized that she wasn't hearing chatter in her earpiece. And then there was a series of loud pops from all around them, as she saw auras at the far edge of the tarmac go down as well as the dull impressions of drones. The most obvious bangs were above her, and to the left as she realized the plane was being shot. Others had also noticed, but the comms were dead. People began shouting over the roar of the crowd, and two agents in her field of vision went down. She turned to see Jay grabbing her by the lapels of her jacket and throwing her to the ground with one hand behind one of the jet's large wheels. Her vision returned to the physical world as he let out a loud barrage of automatic gunfire, and several coke can-sized objects flew around him, and towards the edge of the tarmac at an impressive clip. Other agents began to fire in that direction as she saw gunfire rip through the ballistic fiber of the tent coming from the Vice President's left, and several agents went down while one, a large troll, physically slammed the VP into the podium, covering her with his body as several bullets tore through his grey jacket into his massive back.

Where are the mages, she thought as she saw the lead agent who always stood behind the VP and a dwarf next to him, each with single bullet holes clean through their heads. That, she thought about the dwarf, would be the mage.

She turned and saw the Army soldiers firing on the agents along the crowd barriers, and gunfire coming from the barrier, and she raised the carbine, letting loose a volley of suppressive fire in their direction, several rounds impacting on their milgrade armor. A blur rolled across her and Jay and an elf fired more accurate automatic fire at the soldiers, making several headshots as they leaned against the tires on the other side of the jet. Samantha looked to her left, and saw a Counter Assault Team and FedPol Emergency Response Team, the former in black milgrade armor and the latter in black Kevlar and fiberweave security armor firing their own weapons at the clearly more experience Special Forces soldiers who had flanked them from behind as well.

Goddammit, she thought, there were two A-Teams after them, plus snipers. She had to get to the protectee, and defied the gunfire to race underneath the jet's fuselage. Jay did a fast reload of his carbine and then spun around, firing a long burst of suppressive fire past the CAT and ERT personnel towards the two soldiers who had already dropped three ERT officers and two CAT agents to cover Samantha as she raced over to the tent. Jay felt something strike the back of his head as he turned to see the elf fall to the ground with a massive chunk of the right side of his head missing. Jay dove sideways to the other side of the jet's massive landing gear as a .50 caliber bullet tore a large hole through the landing great strut. The runner dropped the carbine and drew both of his pistols and slid down as the image feeds from his drones expanded in his field of vision as he saw a large drone. He jumped into the small drone, launching an onslaught of electronic interference as he brute-forced access to the drone, wresting control from its rigger. He jumped into the large combat UAV and tracked back to the fringes of the airport. He spotted three figures in a nearby building, identifying the large .50 caliber sniper rifles with the drone's millimeter wave sensors. He launched an anti-tank missile at the building, destroying a large section of the wall and scattering any sign of the three snipers.

Samantha jumped over the banister of the mobile staircase, and turned to see Santiago Caldera, gun drawn, fire one an agent as he reached the Vice President. The FBI agent began to pull the troll's body off of the VP, and reacted. She and Jay and Caldera went back a long way to the Yeats assassination investigation, and Caldera still had a massive grudge against the two former Secret Service agents. She wanted to cover him, but she realized that he was carrying a large chrome pistol and aiming it at the VP. She didn't hesitate. Their past wasn't an issue, but the fact that right now the only thing she could sense from him by his body language and movements was to kill her. Samantha raised the carbine, and fired a single round.

The back of Santiago's head exploded in a mass of blood and bone as the bullet struck him behind the left ear. He fell, and she dropped the carbine as the VP stood up, free of the burden of the troll's corpse on top of her. The elf turned, stunned, and looked at Samantha, who was on her feet and racing to the podium. Back on the tarmac, Jay put the UAV on autopilot and locked out the controls before returning to his natural vision. Covering Samantha's sprint across the tarmac, he fired each of his custom Sig Sauer P226 pistols with the precision that came from intense and constant training, as well as slight technological enhancements. He split his attention in each direction, taking care to aim for the faces or throats of the soldiers who fired on his best friend as quickly as his Smartlink cyberware could paint a reticule over the targets. He fired two shots in each direction, and then leaned to his left and fired two .357 SIG Ex-Explosive rounds into the faces of two soldiers who took knees to fire two heavy salvoes of suppressive fire at Samantha. The two men's heads recoiled as the explosive rounds penetrated their armored faceplates before collapsing onto the ground. In front of him he heard the loud cracks of the 7.62mm JAR rifles being fired, realizing that some of the Counter-Sniper Team was still alive when none of them shot him. He saw two soldiers take cover and return fire, and thanked God for small miracles that with a noticeable lack of magical activity, at least that meant one less threat to worry about.

"COME WITH ME," the adept yelled in her most commanding voice. Her ordered resounded with the force of will that made it seem like she channeled the voice of God, reaching even over the din of crowds which were yelling and screaming as they scattered in all directions. The elf looked Samantha in the eye as she yanked the woman from behind the podium as hard as she could by the hips, and turning away from the crowd in a protective embrace as she was struck in the back and left arm by something fast and hard. The two ceramic plates in her vest and jacket stopped the one to her back, and Samantha didn't even hesitate to think about the second shot as the adrenaline pushed her forward as she carried the Vice President off her feet to the stairs as two agents appeared in the doorway firing Uzis above the two women towards the terminal.

One of the small can-sized drones appeared next to her and sprayed thick charcoal-colored smoke in front of her and another behind her as they made their way up the stairs. She heard Jay shouting indistinctly as the tent was shredded by gunfire and two CAT agents made their way to the tent to cover Samantha when they were shot from below. Samantha kept running, taking the steps two or three at a time with the VP in her arms even though the elf was slightly taller than Samantha was. She heard the gunshots of what sounded like a .45 ACP and then nothing, and then... a loud crack and a sharp pain in her left thigh as one of the agents in the plane grabbed the VP while the other covered him with his Uzi. Samantha didn't let go, and the two women tumbled onto the carpeted floor of Air Force Two as the agent still firing his Uzi fell to the floor, followed by the agent who had pulled them inside. Samantha lay on top of the VP hearing the cracks after the fact, either in reality or in her mind, followed by a barrage of heavy gunfire from above the airplane and the roar of a small turbine engine as a Guardian VTOL UAV roared overhead towards the main terminal, followed by a large manifested fire elemental. There was silence for a second, and two Secret Service agents and an Air Force Raven rushed over, putting themselves in the doorway as physical obstructions as two grabbed the VP and pulled her out of the doorway. Samantha rolled across the floor against the armored fuselage as the agents closed the forward hatch. One closed, the world went completely silent, for a moment.

In the tent, Santiago Caldera had recovered from the shock of being shot in the head. The bullet only grazed his skull, and he managed to take out the two CAT agents before he found a foot in his face. He saw his assailant; it was Jay. Jay struck out again, but Santiago caught his foot and twisted the ankle, and the agent turned company man turned runner and back to company man hit the ground, only to bound off his palms and roll to a crouch with his Cougar in hand from its sheath on his ankle. He'd wanted to do this for a long time, and now he had his chance. The two men lunged at each other, and both grabbed each other in grappling holds, as Santiago locked Jay's arm to keep him from using the knife. He pushed his palm into Jay's chin, pressing his forearm into the runner's throat as Jay reached around and yanked Santiago's head back sharply, as both of them kneed each other in the abdomens simultaneously, knocking the wind out of both men as Jay's left arm became trapped under Santiago. Santiago was far stronger than Jay ever had been, and the pressure on his throat was immense as Jay twisted the knife sharply, cutting something and loosening the agent's grip on his knife hand. He brought the knife down above Santiago's armor vest under his left armpit, finding a spot right between the ribs. The agent yelled out and rolled to his left, and with a now-free arm Jay reached between Santiago's elbow and dropped his fist on the agent's face, loosening the pressure on his throat as Jay pulled out the knife and stabbed his arch-nemesis in the face through his nose. The diamond-coated tip pierced his skull, embedding itself in the tarmac itself. In the melee, Jay lost track of the large UAV, but he at least remained in control of a few of his own drones.

And then Jay felt a sharp stabbing pain, followed by a loud crack. He looked down, and felt the bullet lodged between his chest and his ceramic trauma plate. He'd been shot in the chest once before, by an Imperial Marine sniper at the Battle of Chico-Oroville Dam. The sniper's bullet missed his center of mass by a few centimeters, and instead left him with a sucking chest wound from where the bullet penetrated his armor and blew a hole through his left lung and out his back armor. In a fit of stupendous irony, he realized that this bullet hit the same spot from the opposite direction, as he turned to see a SF soldier standing above him from behind, and a young, redheaded woman in black milgrade armor behind him with a combat shotgun. The blast temporarily deafened Jay, but at least he would live, which was more than the soldier could say without his face. In those few fleeting seconds, everything was calm again. It was like being in the eye of a hurricane as Jay slumped onto his chest, trying to plug the hole in his back with his finger in hope that medics would arrive soon enough. The redheaded woman reached down to him, and grabbed him by the shoulders and propped him up against the podium, an act that would save his life again. At that moment, the world exploded just beyond them.

Back in the executive jumbo jet, an agent pulled Samantha to her feet, as was the Vice President. There were four agents in total, and as they raced to the aft hatch and the waiting Counter Assault Team that would escort them to safety, Samantha recognized one of the agents. He was a tall blonde elf with spiked hair, and her eidetic memory raced to recall his name as she remained with the group. He led the group aft as two agents in black armor raced into a hastily opened aft hatch, and then suddenly stopped midway through the plane's hallway. She recognized him. He was a former CIA officer she worked with years earlier. He was never a special agent with any agency. And he proved it by drawing his gun as he spun around, and firing one bullet into Daviar's torso, just beneath her center of mass. No one saw the first bullet hit, but as the VP fell backwards, Samantha did what every Secret Service agent for over one hundred and fifty years had signed up to do: She took the second bullet as she yanked the elf back and around like before, covering the protectee with her own body as two agents made themselves large targets and one reached for the gun. He was too late, and the second bullet exited before the agent got control of the gun, and one of the CAT agents fired two three-round bursts from his H&K MP-5 into the blonde elf's back as the three armor-clad figures moved so quickly they were practically on top of him before he hit the floor. The damage was done, not to Daviar, but to Samantha. As the two agents who'd made themselves human shields turned to check on their protectee, they noticed the dark crimson stain in the back of her hair, and one turned Samantha over as the other picked up the Vice President. When Samantha was laid on her back, the agents saw the extent of the damage. The bullet had completely missed their protectee, but it had exited out through Samantha left eye socket, which was now a bloody, pulpy mess. And then, like out on the tarmac, the world exploded.

Jay was so focused on his own wounds that he had forgotten about the combat drones. He was getting images from the three remaining microdrones that he had paid good money for, and one of them sent him back an image of a Wandjina drone screaming towards the jet, banking to the right as it fired on the CAT convoy at the back of the plane. Something wasn't right; it wasn't slowing down, he thought as he watched it in slow motion as the drone plowed into the SUV underneath the plane as it detonated. His feed went black as the drone, its missiles and armaments, and its jet fuel exploded in a massive explosion that pitched the massive, armored plane up in the rear as flames and shrapnel flew in through the aft hatch. Outside, shrapnel shred the remains of the tent as a half-meter long section of quarter panel from one of the SUVs flew through the tent and embedded itself in the podium behind Jay. The plane recoiled on its shocks, pitching forward. The forward landing gear couldn't take the stress after being compromised by a 20mm round, and the nose of the plane continued to dip, slamming onto the tarmac, followed by the rear of the plane, which landed on the burning wreckage of the SUVs below, creating a horrible groan as the metal frame and fuselage bent and twisted and sheared upon impact.

Inside the plane, everyone pitched forward down the hallway; everyone except the three CAT agents who seemed to flow with the shockwave and moved into action. Before the three remaining agents could do anything, two of the CAT agents shouldered their submachine guns and fired precise three-round burst into each of the three special agents, killing them all instantly. The three armored figures moved forward, and the lead figure reached out and grabbed the Vice President by the lapels of her suit jacket. She who collapsed into an unconscious slump as a wave of magic overcame her weakened state. She was still dazed and bleeding from the gunshot, and the one whose SMG was still slung across his or her chest removed a glove and placed a feminine hand over the gunshot wound as another figure stood over them. The third figure looked over the bodies, and realized as he scanned the scene in infrared that Samantha was still alive and breathing, albeit shallowly. He updated his BattleTac unit with this information as well as an image, and the figure standing over the VP turned. He recognized the woman.

Three years earlier, in the Kobe Terrace Park pagoda, Connor shared a short conversation with a strange federal agent over noodles. She was remarkable insofar as being unlike most of the government agents and officials he had encountered over the years, and he later discovered that she arrived in part to act as a covert Ms. Johnson for the UCAS government, especially for the Intelligence Community's operations in and around Seattle. They had even engaged in overlapping operations in his capacity as an expediter for the Tir government. But now it had come full circle, and he saw in his BattleTac-linked display an image of the same woman that he met in Kobe Terrace, suffering a life threatening and assuredly debilitating injury. He'd seen enough gunshot wounds in his time to recognize the severity of the wound, and made a split-second and completely gratuitous decision.

"Bella, do your work on this one, too. We're taking her with us," he said over the comm. The mage looked up and him, and moved forward as Connor headed back over to the Vice President. He picked her up and put her over his shoulder in a fireman's carry as he moved unnaturally quickly down the hallway back towards the fire. The third runner stood his ground, covering Connor with his shouldered H&K subgun before he got a single ping in his BattleTac display causing him to turn around.

"The brain injury's pretty bad, even with my magic. She's going to need some serious work, but she'll live," Bella said as she stood up. The third figure picked her up just like Connor did with the VP, and the two of them headed through the hallway into the fire and chaos below. That's when the second drone hit the midsection of the jumbo jet, sending fire and shrapnel down the hallway ahead of the massive shockwave. But by the time the first pieces of shrapnel reached the aft deck and hatch, the three runners and their "cargo" were gone. The explosion set of the remaining jet fuel in the wings and midline fuel tank, creating a second, larger explosion that engulfed a significant area around ground zero.

Down on the tarmac, Emma had grabbed Jay and carried him away from the tent and the podium as fast as she could help carry him. In the ten seconds it took from when she grabbed him to the second explosion they made it all the way to the media stands, which shielded them from the blast and debris of the second impact and resulting explosions, but it still struck them hard enough to lift them off of their feet and throw them into the outer fences which had been set up for crowd control and restricting access. Jay crawled up, grabbing onto chain links of the fence with one hand, and clutching his chest with the other as he frantically tried to suck in air as the woman kneeled next to him. He was leaking air into his chest, and the wound made the sickening wet sucking or flopping sound that accompanies a collapsed lung. She looked around, trying to wave down medical assistance, but everyone was so busy elsewhere and around the airplane wreckage. She didn't want to remove his armor because it was keeping the bullet from exiting his lung and chest completely, but his back wound needed to be attended to. He reached back trying to plug the entrance wound, and she moved her left hand over the wound, sticking her finger into the wound to prevent air from intruding into the lung while creating a small space to let the air in his chest cavity escape. He gulped a large breath of oxygen, wishing that his body realized that he didn't need that lung.

Beyond them, the world slowed down around the two of them as uniformed Lone Star and FedPol officers and Sea-Tac security forces, including the entire SWAT team descended on the scene from the outer fringes escorting airport firefighting trucks to put out the blaze while helicopters hovered low over the airport and circled around, possibly looking for remaining snipers. Emma focused on Jay, not knowing or thinking about the burning wreckage in the distance or the horrible mass of sirens around them.

"Keep... it... up," he gasped weakly. She screamed out for a medic as he sat up against the stand. He sat silently and made a mental prayer. It looked like he was out of any karmic favors. Meanwhile, the woman kept working the wound, hiding the utter shock she felt as she wondered for the first time, what have I done? She felt powerless even in light of her magical abilities, and cursed herself for not taking the minimal step of learning a simple healing spell as his head slumped down and he fell unconscious.
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SL James
post Sep 23 2005, 07:18 AM
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Wow. Dumpshock is speechless.
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Hoondatha
post Sep 23 2005, 12:27 PM
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No offense, but I don't have time to read something that long.
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Aku
post Sep 23 2005, 12:33 PM
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umm... yea.... thats too much to read seeing as how at a cursorary glance, i dont think it has anything to do with anything?
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SL James
post Sep 23 2005, 06:12 PM
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The point is that the book could have been better than it was.
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JongWK
post Sep 23 2005, 06:55 PM
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Don't have the time to read it, but I'd like to point out that...

James' fiction: 8720 words (J.S. Mill quote included, no Game Information)

Tree of Liberty: 2k (including Game Info)
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SL James
post Sep 23 2005, 10:42 PM
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The Word .doc is about 16 pages long, and it took me an afternoon to write. The five part story of which this is the end (save for an epilogue in progress) is 39 pages long and while written over the last six months, are the culmination of two years' worth of character creation from chargen to epilogue, and does not include the hundreds of notebook pages devoted to events which are referred to throughout and includes a whole separate cast of characters plus the development which came from playing them in SR games themselves.

Just writing the short epilogue, it should come as no surprise for those who have read that for the few characters who survived no good will ever come for them again.

I could cut it down to 2,000 words or fewer, and I could probably double it without much trouble, but the length is not as significant as is the fact that 2,000 words were devoted to this massive event, including Game Information. The word count is not as important to me as is the quality of the writing, which Tree of Liberty lacked.
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SL James
post Sep 24 2005, 10:09 PM
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I also find it strange that Loose Alliances was longer than System Failure. If it was even as long you could easily fit an extra 2,000, 4,000 or 6,000 words.
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Ancient History
post Sep 26 2005, 10:59 PM
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Point a fact, Jim, I don't see how your particular scribblings are an improvement o'er what you're bitching about.

[/edit]That bein' only my personal opinion, understand, and not to be confused with an overwhelming judgement by the majority against your literary efforts, mind ye.
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SL James
post Sep 27 2005, 09:10 AM
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That's swell.

See, you apparently missed the point completely. If I wanted to actually "compete" with Fanpro (which I most definitely do not) I'd actually bother to go through the official submission channels and maybe have it read after a couple of months of badgering Pistons only to just give up - like someone I know.
I know that there is no way I would ever get to write anything official for Fanpro or for Holostreets, so what the hell is the point of bothering to prove that I'm good enough? This isn't ego-stroking. I get mine stroked plenty already. It's not like I'm seeking your or anyone else's approval.

If I was trying to compare my own style and literary abilities to anyone who's written for Shadowrun in the last five or so years, I'd not have picked something I haven't even edited. To be more blunt, if I was even given a word count of less than 2,000 words to describe a massive international set of coups, I'd have turned them down after laughing in Rob's face, because it's ludicrous and it's a disservice to people who may actually give a damn. People like myself who have NPCs who would be directly affected because of things that happened to them two RL years ago.

The point was that I took the shit I was given and applied them in what is a wholly personal endeavor to make some sort of sense of the situation, because nearly every major NPC and my primary PC were tied into these plots and each other's lives for years. This was what I wrote down, something that can be fleshed out to double or triple its size. You can't think I find it impressive that the fiction in System Failure is 1,779 words because it's not like the fiction shows an economy of words. It's nothing but a tired story filled with tired cliche characters, tired plot elements. The book would have been better off without even mentioning it, but doing it half-assed is just pathetic.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that I find in any way good about The Tree of Liberty, but given the circumstances I thought I might show a bit about how some people have to deal with this nonsense. Even if I wanted to re-write Tree of Liberty, I wouldn't because, what difference does it make? The book's out. It was a pretty heavily rushed job, as evidenced by the obvious lack of editing, so what do you want from me? At least I've had people compliment me on the above piece. I have yet to read one good word about what's actually in the book, and to be perfectly honest, I'm far from shocked.

I just don't see why a published should bother if they're not going to take the time to ensure that what they put out for commercial consumption is done well, or at least even adequately. But, hey, I bought the piece of shit. I am responsible by accepting garbage through the continued purchase of new products when I should know better. I'm the biggest fucking retard here.

And don't you ever call me Jim again.
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Fortune
post Sep 27 2005, 10:04 AM
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*Refresh refresh refresh!*

You edited! :P
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Ancient History
post Sep 27 2005, 11:29 AM
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I'll never call you Jim again.

QUOTE
If I wanted to actually "compete" with Fanpro (which I most definitely do not) I'd actually bother to go through the official submission channels and maybe have it read after a couple of months of badgering Pistons only to just give up - like someone I know.
I know that there is no way I would ever get to write anything official for Fanpro or for Holostreets, so what the hell is the point of bothering to prove that I'm good enough?

Mope much? Give it a try some time and we'll compare notes.

QUOTE
I just don't see why a published should bother if they're not going to take the time to ensure that what they put out for commercial consumption is done well, or at least even adequately.

Tastes differ. Incessent bitching remains.
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JongWK
post Sep 27 2005, 02:28 PM
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I must say I'm impressed. This is the Nth thread James/Crimsondude hijacks, though this time he did use some thread necromancy. The "New Topic" button is your friend, carajo.
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Aku
post Sep 27 2005, 03:08 PM
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necromancy? nah, the post was less than a few weeks, thats all good...
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SL James
post Sep 30 2005, 06:11 PM
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Mope? No. Moping would require me to care.
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blakkie
post Sep 30 2005, 06:15 PM
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QUOTE (SL James)
Mope? No. Moping would require me to care.

Angst is a kind of caring, a mopy kind. :)
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