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Lost in the Sauce: Trump, Cruz, and Gohmert team up to incite election-related violence

Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater… or a global health crisis.
Housekeeping:

Election shenanigans

I put the latest info on Trump's phone call to Raffensperger in this comment.
According to experts, Trump’s conduct has potential criminal exposure:
A federal statute makes it a crime when one “knowingly and willfully … attempts to deprive or defraud the residents of a State of a fair and impartially conducted election process, by … the procurement, casting, or tabulation of ballots that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held.”
A Georgia statute similarly provides that a “person commits the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the first degree when, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony under this article, he or she solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage in such conduct.”
…The hard part for prosecutors would be proving Trump’s state of mind, because the statutes require proof of knowledge and intent. Prosecutors would have to show that Trump knew that Biden fairly won the election, and Trump was asking for Georgia officials to commit election fraud. And it’s not clear prosecutors could make that case.
At least 12 Republican senators plan to challenge Biden’s Electoral College win on Jan. 6, when Congress is set to officially count the votes. The effort is being led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and includes Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), as well as new Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.). Separately, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) is pursuing a similar plan.
"Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states. Once completed, individual states would evaluate the Commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed," the senators said in a joint statement. “Accordingly, we intend to vote on Jan. 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’ (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed."
Their plan is not going to succeed in preventing Biden from taking office, as majorities in both the House and the Senate would need to support a challenge against a state’s electoral votes. For an objection to be made, at least one member of both the House and Senate would need to submit it in writing. Then, the House and Senate separately convene to consider the issue. Debate is limited to two hours for each objection. After debate concludes, the House and Senate vote to uphold the objection and throw out the state’s votes. If the majority of the House AND the majority of the Senate does not uphold the objection, the state’s electoral votes are counted as cast.
  • Vice President Mike Pence’s role is simply to preside over the joint session, opening and presenting the certifications from each state. In his absence, the Senate pro-tempore Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) will lead the session. At the end of the process, the presiding officer announces who has won the majority of votes for president and vice president.
The most immediate danger from Trump and Cruz’s doomed election gambit is rightwing terrorism and general violence: Trump, in particular, is inciting his supporters to swarm D.C. on Jan. 6. “JANUARY SIXTH, SEE YOU IN DC!” Trump tweeted last week. Four rightwing rallies are scheduled, including one headlined by George Papadopoulos and Roger Stone.
The Proud Boys and other extremists are planning to attend the rallies and may set up an “armed encampment” on the National Mall, according to the Washington Post. On social media platform Parler, the leader of the Proud Boys said that members will be there “incognito” and may “dress in all black” to impersonate leftwing protestors.
Enrique Tarrio: "The ProudBoys will turn out in record numbers on Jan 6th but this time with a twist...We will not be wearing our traditional Black and Yellow. We will be incognito and we will spread across downtown DC in smaller teams."
Rep. Louie Gohmert has more explicitly tried to incite violence, saying the failure of his legal challenge to the election means “you gotta go the streets and be as violent as Antifa and BLM.” (clip)
  • At the same time, pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood suggested that Pence could “face execution by firing squad” for “treason” if he doesn’t go along with the attempt to subvert the election.

Obstructing the transition

Biden’s transition director has accused the Office of Management and Budget of stonewalling the incoming administration’s team. OMB Director Russ Vought is not allowing key staff to meet with the transition team to help prepare the president-elect’s first annual spending plan, a move that could delay major proposals. Vought pushed back on the charges, saying that his agency needs to focus on finalizing the Trump administration’s regulations before the president leaves office.
“OMB leadership’s refusal to fully cooperate impairs our ability to identify opportunities to maximize the relief going out to Americans during the pandemic, and it leaves us in the dark as it relates to Covid-related expenditures and critical gaps,” [Biden transition Exec. Dir. Yohannes] Abraham said.
Earlier last week, Biden himself said Trump officials are not cooperating with his team, singling out the Defense Department for obstructing information on crucial national security issues. “Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility,” Biden said. The Defense Dept. finally scheduled meetings with the incoming team this week, after not briefing the transition for weeks.
  • The timing of the resumption in meetings is notable because it comes after the one year anniversary of the U.S. assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3. NATO officials are reportedly worried about the lack of coordination from the Trump administration: "We need the incoming Biden administration to be fully briefed and ready to deal with these very dangerous issues facing NATO's security."

Sabotaging the Biden Administration

U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack is taking steps to keep control of Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia during the Biden administration. As chairman of the boards of Radio Free Europe and Asia, Pack and his fellow members have added binding contractual agreements that will make it impossible to remove him or other pro-Trump allies from the board in the next two years.
In other words, although President-elect Joe Biden has already signaled he intends to replace Pack as CEO of the parent agency soon after taking office in January, Pack would maintain a significant degree of control over the networks.
The State Department is likely to designate Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism “as an 11th hour effort to create hurdles for the incoming Biden administration.” The label, which requires the approval of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, would undo a major accomplishment of the Obama administration. To take Cuba back off the list, the Biden team would need to conduct a formal review, a process that might take several months.
Such a designation would impose restrictions on US foreign assistance, a ban on defense exports and sales, certain controls over exports and various financial restrictions. It would also result in penalization against any persons and countries engaging in certain trade activities with Cuba.
The Trump administration has been rushing to finalize a myriad of rules before Biden’s inauguration. Since Election Day, the Trump administration has issued about three to four times as many new regulations as it did during other periods of Trump’s presidency. Rules that haven’t been finalized or taken effect can be suspended by an incoming president, which Biden has said he intends to do. By contrast, rules that are finalized can take months, or even years, to undo.
“As a general rule, it takes at least as much process to undo or modify a rule as it does to put the rule in place,” said Jonathan H. Adler, a professor and an administrative law expert at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. “The Trump administration is magnifying that challenge for the Biden administration.”
Trump loyalists are urging the president to stymie Biden’s efforts to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal. Sens. Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham are working to get the agreements submitted to the Senate for ratification, requiring a two-thirds vote, with the goal of failure. While such an outcome wouldn’t prevent Biden from rejoining the accords, Cruz and Graham hope it would make their resurrection more problematic.
A vote against them would signal GOP opposition to the world and, they hope, undermine any unilateral action by Biden to rejoin the agreements. One senior congressional aide told RCP that sending them to die in the Senate “would be the final nail in the coffin.”
Further reading: “Biden To Be Saddled With Trump’s Payroll Tax Deferral Mess,” Forbes.
Further reading: Biden will inherit a backlog of tens of thousands of visa requests from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — and a bureaucratic tangle that refugee advocates say President Trump ignored or made worse.

Trump money and properties

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is employing forensic accounting specialists to examine Trump’s finances and business operations. Vance is looking “for anomalies among a variety of property deals” and trying to determine “whether the president’s company manipulated the value of certain assets to obtain favorable interest rates and tax breaks”.
The analysts hired by Vance probably have already reviewed various bank and mortgage records obtained from Trump’s company as part of the ongoing grand jury investigation, and they could be called on to testify about their findings should the district attorney eventually bring criminal charges
In yet another shady business deal connected to Trump, the United States sold the ambassador’s residence in Israel for more than $67 million. The person who bought the residence is none other than Trump mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. The property only became available due to Trump's controversial decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to contested Jerusalem. Furthermore, State Dept. representatives reportedly lied to Congress about the sale, perhaps to hide that Adelson purposefully overbid.
For now, there is no alternative residence for the ambassador, David Friedman, Trump’s former lawyer, who currently uses a suite at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel or rooms at the former Jerusalem Consulate General when he spends nights in Jerusalem… As a result, the United States appears likely to end up leasing the residence it has owned since 1964 from the GOP-affiliated casino mogul.
“It is very strange that we are now paying Sheldon Adelson,” a congressional aide told The Daily Beast. “It is not above board. We have a number of questions. Did they get two independent appraisals? Was it a sweetheart deal? Was Adelson the highest donor? Was there a reason to sell it now?”
Trump’s businesses have taken in $10.5 million of donor money over the course of his presidency. $8.5 million came from the Trump campaign and related entities that Trump controls directly; $2 million came from other Republican candidates and committees. The biggest beneficiary was Trump’s NYC hotel, taking in $3,039,979 over the four years of his presidency, with $891,003 of that in just the final four months of the campaign.
Trump’s DC hotel is ramping up room prices and requiring a two-night minimum stay for two key events this month, as the president tries to squeeze more profit out of his office. On Jan. 6, when Congress is set to formally count the votes cast by the Electoral College, room rates are listed at over eight times the price of surrounding dates. Trump is encouraging his supporters to attend a protest of Biden’s win on the 6th. A room during the inauguration costs five times the normal rate, at $2,225 per night.
Trump’s Turnberry Resort in Scotland posted a £2.3 million ($3.1 million) loss in 2019, marking the sixth year in a row it has failed to turn a profit under his ownership. Since Trump took over the historic property in 2014, its losses now total nearly £45 million ($61.5 million).
The fact Turnberry remains in the red comes in spite of significant tranches of payments it has received from the US government during Mr Trump’s single term in office… the US Secret Service spent nearly £25,000 to accommodate its agents at the resort during business trips by Mr Trump’s son, Eric, an executive vice-president of the family firm. Since Mr Trump’s election, the property has received close to £300,000 from the Secret Service, US State Department, and US Defence Department
A Florida state lawmaker is calling for Mar-a-Lago to be penalized - and possibly shut down - for flouting coronavirus restrictions during a New Years Eve party. While Trump and the first lady did not attend, son Don Jr., attorney Rudy Giuliani, Rep. Matt Gaetz, and Fox News personality Jeanine Piro were captured on video among the maskless crowd. Guests paid as much as $1,000 for access to the ballroom to be entertained by Vanilla Ice.
State Rep. Omari Hardy: “My constituents are not snowbirds like @DonaldJTrumpJr & @kimguilfoyle. My constituents live here. This is their home, and they're going to have to deal w/ the consequences of a potential super-spreader party at Mar-a-Lago long after Junior & wife leave here on their private jet.”
Are you ready for a Donald J. Trump Airport? According to the Daily Beast, Trump has been asking aides about the process of naming airports after former U.S. presidents.
Further reading: “Jared Kushner’s family real estate business wants to raise at least $100 million in capital through Israel’s bond market… Kushner has helped spearhead a series of moves that have been applauded by the conservative pro-Israel community, including moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and recognizing Israeli sovereignty in disputed areas such as the Golan Heights. Kushner also has close ties to Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Miscellaneous

The Census Bureau missed it’s end-of-year deadline to produce numbers that determine representation in Congress and the Electoral College for the next decade. The agency is working toward Jan. 9 as an internal target date for completing the current stage of processing records. "If we miss Jan. 9, it's hard to envision that we would get apportionment done before inauguration," a Census employee told NPR.
The final timing of the 2020 census results' release could undermine President Trump's efforts to make an unprecedented change to who is counted in key census numbers before leaving office… If the first census results are not ready until after Trump's term ends on Jan. 20, it would be President-elect Joe Biden, not Trump, who would get control of the numbers, which are ultimately handed off to Congress for certification.
submitted by rusticgorilla to Keep_Track [link] [comments]

Palm Beach Post update on that story about Epstein, Trump, Russian money men & overpriced Florida real estate.

Cerabino: A new twist in the old saga of that Palm Beach mansion Trump made a killing off of

Frank Cerabino, Palm Beach Post Published 5:47 p.m. ET Sep. 11, 2020 | Updated 6:17 p.m. ET Sep. 12, 2020
We missed a good naming opportunity.
The folks in Palm Beach like to name their houses. A showy name is easier to remember than the address, I guess.
I say “house,” but what I mean in this particular case is a Palm Beach residence with 492 feet of oceanfront property, a 48-car garage, 18 bedrooms, 22 bathrooms, a ballroom, an art gallery, two guest houses, and 36-foot-tall ceilings in some places.
When the estate at 515 N. County Road was owned by nursing-home magnate Abe Gosman he named it “Maison de l'Amitié,” which translates to “House of Friendship.”
More: Trump’s former estate: The story behind the $95-million mansion tear-down
Bankruptcy forced Gosman to liquidate, and the two potential buyers were well-known Palm Beach party chums: Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump.
Trump paid $41.3 million for the property in 2005, outbidding Epstein, who would go on to become Palm Beach’s world-renowned serial rapist of underage teenage girls.
If Epstein had been successful in buying the estate, “House of Friendship” would have been an outrageously inappropriate name.
Decency would dictate a name change to something more fitting: Something like Palacio Pedophilia, or Salon d’Sleazebaggio.
But that’s not the missed naming opportunity I’m writing about.
When Trump bought the humongous, empty estate, he didn’t hang onto it for very long.
He sold it three years later to a trust controlled by Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, who consolidated his wealth during the chaotic post-Soviet era by getting a controlling share of Russia's biggest fertilizer company.
Rybolovlev had a fortune in Russian flight capital which he used to buy fine art, a European soccer club, an $88 million apartment in Manhattan and a $20 million home in Hawaii.
So, at the time, it seemed like Rybolovlev was just buying himself a winter home in South Florida. The Palm Beach real estate transaction came at a particularly good time for the cash-strapped Trump.
James J. Henry, an investigative economist and fellow with Columbia University's Center on Sustainable Investment, put it this way:
"The nine-lived Trump, in particular, had just suffered a string of six successive bankruptcies," Henry wrote in The American Interest. "So the massive illicit outflows from Russia and oil-rich FSU (Former Soviet Union) members like Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan from the mid-1990s provided precisely the kind of undiscriminating investors that he needed.
"These outflows arrived at just the right time to fund several of Trump’s post-2000 high-risk real estate and casino ventures – most of which failed.”
Rybolovlev paid $95 million for the estate that Trump bought three years earlier for $41.3 million. That’s quite a mark-up, and more than $30 million higher than the property’s appraised value.
It was the same year that Donald Trump Jr. told investors “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” And the year that Trump was facing another bankruptcy.
Trump Entertainment Resorts, which operated three Atlantic City casinos, had amassed $1.74 billion in debts when it failed to make a $53.1 million bond interest payment in December 2008. Two months later it sought Chapter 11 protection.
The $53.7 million markup of the Palm Beach property was strange, but maybe for billionaires like Rybolovlev, it was chump change for a piece of property he fell in love with.
Except for this: Rybolovlev never moved into his Palm Beach estate, and nobody can say for sure that he even visited the property during the time he owned it.
After eight years of vacancy, the mansion and its out-buildings were leveled and the property was subdivided into three smaller lots and sold by the company Rybolovlev controlled.
There is no more “Maison de l'Amitié.”
But there is some new context to this strange sale. It comes from Trump’s former fixer, lawyer and confidante, Michael Cohen, who had turned against his former boss after being the fall guy for Trump’s illegal $130,000 hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels a month before the 2016 election.
Cohen wrote in his newly released book, “Disloyal: A Memoir”, that Rybolovlev wasn’t the real buyer of the Palm Beach estate.
“The Russians bought the house from Trump for $95 million in 2008, an inflated price paid on the eve of the real estate collapse and global financial crisis, at the time the largest price ever paid for a private residence in the United States,” Cohen wrote in Chapter 12 of his book.
“Trump told me that the price hadn’t really been an issue. He explained that the Russians weren’t really spending their own money when they made their excessive purchases of European soccer teams and super yachts and Central Park South penthouses,” Cohen wrote. “The oligarchs could enjoy the assets, but always and forever at the pleasure of Vladimir Putin, the new tsar, and displeasing him meant risking their fortunes but also their lives.”
Cohen wrote: “‘The oligarchs are just fronts for Putin,’ Trump told me. ‘He puts them into wealth to invest his money. That’s all they are doing – investing Putin’s money.’”
“Trump was convinced the real buyer of Maison de l’Amitie was Vladimir Putin,” Cohen wrote.
It’s too bad we didn’t know at the time.
We could have given the Palm Beach estate a much more suitable name, such as Maison de l’Murderer, Casa Kompromat, or Shady Acres.
[email protected]
@ FranklyFlorida
https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/news/columns/2020/09/11/michael-cohens-take-trumps-sale-palm-beach-estate-russian/3468953001/
submitted by lvcv2020 to Epstein [link] [comments]

This is the real reason President Trump doesn't show up on Epstein's flight logs.

This is the real reason President Trump doesn't show up on Epstein's flight logs.

N757AF landing at Princess Juliana International Airport St Martin Mar 22, 2014 https://www.jetphotos.com/photo/7791890

VP-BDJ landing at San Juan Luis Munoz Marin Int'l Airport Puerto Rico Mar 09, 2010 https://www.jetphotos.com/photo/6811120

VP-BDJ landing at San Juan Luis Munoz Marin Int'l Airport Puerto Rico Feb 15, 2008 https://www.jetphotos.com/photo/6180436
Trump famously owned a Boeing 727, suspiciously it was registered with a Bermunda registrations VP-BDJ Trump 727 VP-BDJ
Trump then purchased a Boeing 757, this one on US registration N757AF. Which we know has had online tracking blocked before. Trump 757 N575AF

Both aircraft have been spotted in the Caribbean many times by amateur plane spotters. And yes, you may ask, did Trump have properties in the Caribbean? He did, which makes the Trump - Epstein connection even more suspicious. Take a look inside Trump’s Caribbean estate and Donald Trump Joins Raffles Hotels in the Development of Canouan Island

So why would Trump have to travel on Epstein's plane, to Epstein's island? When all along Trump was flying to the Caribbean on a regular basis, landing in Puerto Rico and St Martin just 50 miles from Epstein's island.


That makes 3 locations that Trump and Epstein had properties with in a short trip of each other:
  1. Manhattan
  2. Palm Beach
  3. Caribbean Islands
Jeffrey Epstein’s Notorious Mansions In New York And Palm Beach List For Combined $110 Million

Keep in mind, Epstein and Maxwell are believed to have been recruiting at Trump's Mar-A-Lago property in Palm Beach.
How one Epstein victim was said to be recruited from Mar-a-Lago, and all the other connections between the accused sex trafficker and Trump's Palm Beach resort


So we have 3 properties near each other.
We have statements Epstein and Maxwell used Trump's Mar-A-Lago for sex trafficking.
How many more connections do we need?

Oh, there's more!? There were also the times we know Trump and Epstein did fly together!
And we know Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell flew with Trump on Trump's plane.
“Never be late for someone else’s plane,” Trump says, his facial expression showing a mixture of annoyance and bemusement. The offending party is stuck in Friday rush-house traffic. “C’mon, Jeffrey, where are you?” Trump says. He’s talking about Jeffrey Epstein, another wealthy and well-known man who is traveling with Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of the late media baron Robert Maxwell. The couple finally arrives, Epstein wearing an orange sweatshirt and jeans and Maxwell sporting sunglasses and fashionably tight pants. Trump brightens and gently chides them, forgiving their tardiness.
According to Corcoran, Epstein and Maxwell arrived with another passenger not mentioned in the piece. “They did board with a young woman of indeterminate age. I wouldn’t be able to tell if she was 15 or 20. She was quite dressed up and quite made up, so it was hard to tell,” Corcoran said over the weekend. “At the time I didn’t even know who Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell were, so when they got on I thought, Maybe they’re married and that’s their niece.”
Remembering the Time Jeffrey Epstein Rode on Donald Trump’s Plane

Epstein, who was accused with sex-trafficking underage girls, flew from New York to Palm Beach, Florida in 2000 on Trump's plane, according to an unearthed article from a now defunct golf magazine.
Along for the ride was his then-girlfriend and close associate Ghislaine Maxwell, who has herself been accused of grooming underage girls for sex with Epstein.
Now in a bombshell claim, the journalist who wrote the original article has revealed there was also an 'underage-looking' girl with Epstein and Maxwell aboard the jet.
Veteran reporter Michael Corcoran said he traveled with Trump in March 2000 to write an in-depth profile about the then-business mogul, who was also an avid golfer, for Maximum Golf magazine.
The now 54-year-old says he vividly remembers Epstein, Maxwell and a young girl turning up to board the Boeing 727 at New York's LaGuardia airport because Trump was mad that they were running late and screamed at them when they arrived.
EXCLUSIVE: 'She was made up to look older, she was uncomfortable.' Jeffrey Epstein took 'young girl' on Donald Trump's plane, possibly sex-trafficking teen across state lines right under the now president's nose, claims journalist

Then there is the time we know Trump flew on Epstein's Gulfstream II, not the Lolita Express but another jet in Epstein's fleet.
Newly unsealed flight logs show that President Donald Trump flew on Jeffrey Epstein's private jet in 1997, along with the billionaire couple Glenn and Eva Dubin.
A handwritten entry in the flight logs shows a trip that Trump and the Dubins took from the Palm Beach International Airport to the Newark Liberty International Airport
The other named passengers, besides Trump and the Dubins, are Jeffrey Epstein ("JE"), Ghislaine Maxwell ("GM"), Mark Epstein, and someone identified as "Didler" or "Didier." The date of flight is listed as January 5, 1997. The log lists the model of the plane as a Gulfstream II, under the tail number N908JE
Unsealed flight logs show that Trump was on Epstein's private jet in 1997


Then we have Mark Espstein saying Trump flew on Jeffrey Esptein's planes numerous times.
For the better part of two decades starting in the late 1980s, Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump swam in the same social pool. They were neighbors in Florida. They jetted from LaGuardia to Palm Beach together. They partied at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and dined at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion.
Trump flew at least once, in the late 1990s or 2000, on Epstein’s private plane from Florida to New York, according to Epstein’s brother, Mark, who described the flight in a 2009 deposition.
In an interview last week with The Post, Mark Epstein said Trump flew on the plane “numerous times” but said he was only present for one flight.
“They were good friends,” Mark Epstein said. “I know [Trump] is trying to distance himself, but they were.” He added that Trump used to comp Epstein’s mother and aunt at one of Trump’s Atlantic City casino hotels. When a Post reporter sought further details, Mark Epstein hung up.
Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein partied together. Then an oceanfront Palm Beach mansion came between them.
Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein partied together. Then an oceanfront Palm Beach mansion came between them


So why would Trump have to travel on Epstein's plane, to Epstein's island.
When all along Trump was flying to the Caribbean on a regular basis, landing in Puerto Rico and St Martin just 50 miles from Epstein's island.
When all along Trump and Epstein had properties near each other in Manhattan and Palm Beach.
When all along they actually WERE flying together.
How many more connections do we need?
submitted by rovnrev to conspiracy [link] [comments]

Coastguard #9 - Those Whose Sins Mark Their Bodies

DCNext Proudly Presents…!

COASTGUARD

Issue #9: Those Whose Sins Mark Their Bodies

Written by Fortanono
Edited by dwright5252, AdamantAce
<< Previous | Next >>
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Meet-and-greets were always Marc Silvera’s favorite part of the day. Back in his youth, he loved the thrill of heroism, the adrenaline that came with fighting against dangerous people and bringing them to justice. Now, it was much less about adrenaline as it was before; he got his enjoyment from knowing that he made others’ lives just a little bit safer, helping them sleep more easily. Luckily, Josiah Power’s booths in the Polynesia Resort’s cafeteria boiled that right down to a science.
Dan and Courtney would always get the most fans, considering that they ran their own media platforms at one point; Helga and Curtis would occasionally hang around his booth for the fans. Ray and Thunder each had their own devoted lines, with their fans from Tulsa and Metropolis often making pilgrimages to New Coast to visit them. The ceremonially empty booth to the left of Marc was there for Vibe, who had attracted a lot of people placing down flowers and mementos, paying their respects. It was still hard for Marc to believe that he was really gone.
Marc’s was always the shortest line. He knew why; for a long time, the second Commander Steel was a small-town urban legend whose existence was unconfirmed. The name was also associated with a military group that many disapproved of or outright loathed, Marc himself chief among them after all these years, who was a willing participant in it. Finally, there was the third reason: Commander Steel was not a welcoming figure to most. His helmet kept out any sign that he was even a human, which was no longer a valid assumption for superheroes. In a lot of ways, he understood why children would even be scared of him. He liked to pretend that this didn’t bother him, but he knew deep down that it did, just a little.
Even still, he did have several people who came over to meet him. A tall woman with red hair and excessive amounts of makeup walked up to him, her young son in tow. He couldn’t have been more than seven years old, Marc thought. He sat down on a wooden chair nearby and smiled behind his mask.
“Hello there,” Marc chuckled. “What’s your name, young man?”
“Collin,” he smiled, hiding his face in his hands, his dirty mop of red hair covering his eyes.
Marc laughed heartily, almost as if he were a mall Santa. He felt like the kids needed to know that he wasn’t as scary as he seemed behind the mask, and laughing was the best way of doing that. Collin couldn’t see how wide he was smiling behind the visage, the tear of joy running down one of his eyes. “Now Collin, why don’t you sit on my lap and we can take a picture together?”
“Yeah!” Collin said. “I love you, Commander Steel. I want to be a superhero like you when I grow up.”
“Oh, is that so?” Marc said joyfully, smiling as Collin climbed up into his lap. He hid a grimace; as much as he enjoyed the job, seeing someone so young determined to be someone who put their life on the line was very off-putting to him. The camera flashed, taking a picture of Collin with his hero, and Marc just let the moment rush over him.
“Remember to enjoy your stay at New Coast Polynesia Resort!” he called out behind them as they left the line. He always felt weird saying that, but Josiah told them to, and it wasn’t like he didn’t want them to have a fun vacation.
The next person moved forward in the line, a teenage boy wearing a camo button-down shirt. “Hey, Commander Steel,” he said gleefully. “You’re so awesome. It’s so cool that I get to meet you.”
Marc went through the rounds, but he wasn’t focused on the boy anymore. Instead, Marc stared transfixed as the next woman in line, a middle-aged Black woman with a short bob of shoulder-length grey hair, wearing a black dress with grey and blue accents. His stomach dropped as he finished up with the kid in camo, turning to the woman in front of him.
“Jenna,” he said, coming out as little more than a breath. He stood up from his chair. “Why are you here?”
“Trust me,” she said with her lips pursed. “I didn’t want to come just as much as you probably don’t want to see me. Something came up.”
Marc stared at her, not saying anything.
“Richards’ sentence is up,” Jenna muttered coldly. “I was hoping he’d changed, but he’s on a bus straight to New Coast. I just wanted to warn you and your team, knowing what he’s capable of.”
“Yes, of course,” Marc said as his former wife left the line. He turned to her and called out as she walked away. “Hey, hey, you have a fantastic rest of your life, whatever you’re doing.” She didn’t respond.
Marc turned to the next guest, his mind not fully there. As his experience with Jenna faded from his mind, he realized that something much worse was about to happen, and he had to warn the team about it.
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“Okay,” Curtis said, his back against the wall of Room 103. The members of Coastguard were gathered in their costumes, having come back from the meet-and-greet minutes earlier. “A quick recap on the Phosphorus situation for Courtney: We’ve been able to take out some street-level guys who were peddling narcotics, but none of them claimed they had ever seen the man’s face. He apparently keeps very little company; only those he trusts ever see who he truly is.”
“By the way,” Anissa said, “Congrats to Courtney for the awesome work she’s done in Opal City! We’re starting to see headlines roll in, and it’s very impressive.” Immediately, everyone in the room around them began to clap and cheer, turning to Courtney who was sitting in her new red-and-green costume.
Courtney looked between her teammates and smiled. “Thanks guys,” she said. “It means a lot.” She turned to Curtis, her expression turning more serious. “Anything on ThirteenthFloor? That seemed like a really big deal when I left, but no mention of it so far.”
Curtis nodded. “Yeah, yeah, that’s a thing. Helga and I are working on reverse-engineering the tech in the buildings, but no results yet. Anyone else have pressing concerns?”
Helga raised her hand. “As you may recall,” she began, “Acrata managed to escape from New Coast after arrest. I recently received word that she may be returning to the city, planning something big. If you spot her, do not be light when apprehending her, and bring her to me as soon as you can.”
“Dammit,” Dan said. “I was hoping I’d never have to see her again. That fight kept me sore for days. We’ll be on the lookout if she returns.”
“Anything else?” Curtis asked.
Marc removed his mask and raised his hand slowly. “Yes,” he said meekly. “Unfortunately, there’s… someone else has shown up here. An old enemy. Curtis, bring up records for Mark Richards, also known as the Tattooed Man.”
Curtis turned to a nearby monitor and began searching the web. He pulled out a mugshot of a tall, bald man with a tattoo of a dragon coiled around the top of his head. On the side of one of his cheeks was another tattoo, a small piece that resembled a rose with a thorny stem. “This your guy?”
“Yes,” Marc said. He stood up and took a deep breath, addressing his teammates. “A long time ago, I lived in a small town in Maryland called Liberty Hill. Standard small-town fare; most of the criminals were just normal people who had a bad run. This man was different. He showed up, and within months he had killed any gang members who didn’t work for him. With every man he murdered, he got a new tattoo, and these weren’t ordinary tattoos. They gave him powers, and every time I fought him he had a new trick up his sleeve.”
He sighed and paused before continuing. “I became obsessed with him. It was unhealthy, and it cost me my marriage. Finally, 15 years ago, I caught him. He served his time, and now it seems like he’s come back for revenge. I'd like to humbly request your help in finding him and making sure he doesn't cause further harm. Mark Richards is incredibly dangerous, and we need to treat any encounter we have with him with utmost caution. He will kill us if we don’t.”
The room fell silent for a few seconds before Curtis broke the silence. “Okay,” he said. “The Tattooed Man, Public Enemy Number One. Don’t worry, Marc; we will make sure that we stop him before he can hurt us.”
≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈
Mark Richards knocked on the door of a townhouse in what looked like any other upscale neighborhood. This development was designed by one of Josiah Power’s friends, he had remembered, but it had never seen use as the designer’s company went down for fraud several months ago. Even though it looked like an ordinary housing development, a far cry from the tourist trap in New Coast’s city center, it was also the home of many of New Coast’s more sinister elements. With the development never having been in use, it was the perfect place for shadowy figures to hide in such a bright city.
The skull on Mark’s forearm sensed some sort of danger. Mark willed it to be quiet as a young woman, tall and lanky with blonde hair and blue accents, opened the door. She seemed to have a lot of tattoos herself. “Wow,” she said, staring at him up and down. “I’m going to need the name of your inker. That is some good art.”
“I’ve had a lot of inkers,” Mark chuckled. “My first tattoo was from a slave-driver in Moldora. The second one was from a serial killer. I tend to get them from the worst of the worst, and it pays off.”
“Ooh, nice,” she said. “I take it you’re here to see the big man? I’m sure he’ll be glad to see you. You should hope so, at least.”
Mark nodded. “I believe we already had an appointment scheduled.”
“You are correct,” she laughed. “He's been talking about you all day.”
Mark walked into the house and down the corridor to a room at the end. If an ordinary homeowner lived here, the room he entered would probably be furnished as a dining room, possibly as a playroom for their children. However, the New Coast crime lord that lived here had turned the room into a sort of makeshift casino; slot machines padded the sides of the walls while a poker table served as the room’s centerpiece.
In the far corner were two couches, on one of which sat the man Mark presumed to be Phosphorus. He looked young and arrogant at first glance, reminding Mark of a cocky kid who thought he could run a business back in Liberty Hill, but who would always fall to Mark in the end. The heart tattoo on the left side of Mark’s chest came from him; his sins were driven by his heart rather than his brain, and that’s why Mark had defeated him. It was a fitting tattoo to remember him by. The major difference between Phosphorus and that kid was abundantly clear, though. Phosphorus wore an unbuttoned white jacket with no shirt; across his chest and extending down his left arm, his skin glowed a brilliant red-orange. Underneath the glow, Mark could see his ribcage, lit up by the man’s special ability.
“Heh, on time I see,” Phosphorus chuckled. “I knew I could count on you.”
Mark took a seat on the couch across from the crime lord. “Of course,” he said. “This business is always about impressions, and I’ve come to know that that means dependability as well as fear. Meet your opponents first, before you destroy them. And I believe that in a couple of months, I may have to destroy you.
“So it’s true then,” Phosphorus said. “You’re gonna hang around a while? That’s unfortunate. Oh well.”
“Nice to meet you. I’d shake your hand, but I’ve been told that’s not really a good idea.” Mark stretched out on the couch, throwing his arms behind his back. “So you’re the Phosphorus, huh? I expected someone a little older to have been behind the work you’ve done. It’s impressive.”
“Call me Alec,” Phosphorus said. He paused for a second. “I’m old enough. Besides, I’ve got a damn good reason why I’m doing this. Pardon the wordplay, but it’s a fire in my heart, so to speak, y’know? A drive.”
Before Mark could respond, Alec’s breathing started tensing up. He turned his head to the doorway of the room. “Melanie! Food!” he shouted. The blonde woman from before quickly came over with a man in a suit, tied up and restrained. She dropped him at Alec’s feet before leaving, not saying a single word.
The man’s expression turned frantic. “No, wait, please. Do anything. Ta--take my kids, instead. My wife. I can help you!” He was quickly shut up by Alec’s searing-hot left hand on his mouth, as the man quickly vaporized into thin air. Only a skeleton remained of where he was once standing.
“Wow,” Mark said, shaking his head. “That is impressive, I have to say. Not exactly a good dude there, either. Guess you know how to pick ‘em.”
“Yeah,” Alec laughed. “I only eat the rich types, people who have no spine or soul. That, and people who disappoint me, of course.” Alec paused for a second. “You know, I never wanted to be a criminal. I started this because I had to; if I don’t feed, I’ll die, and feeding ain’t exactly something you want to do in the open. But now? I’d say it feels pretty good. Not perfect, y’know? But it’s getting there.”
Mark nodded. “I get it, I really do. You know, you and I have the same power, so to speak.”
Alec gave him a confused look.
Mark cleared his throat. “I was on deployment in Moldora several years ago. I was a young soldier, about your age, and I had just killed a few men for the first time. Every day, their voices screamed in my head. So we were taking down this horrible waste of a human being; he had enslaved thousands of men, women and children to work for the worst kind of people. And the night before the raid, I asked him how he did it. That man showed me the art of sin-grafting; for every sin he committed, he added just a bit more ink to his body. He kept the memories of those he killed in the tattoos. Well, I thought it was bullshit, but then he tattooed this dragon onto me.” He pointed at his first and favorite tattoo, the dragon that coiled around his bald head.
“From that day on, whenever I kill someone, I tattoo myself with something to remind me of them. And I always use this special ink, which gives the tattoo life. Power. Doesn’t make it right, but it makes it damn near worth it. Now you, you have to kill people to live. I dunno how you got into that predicament, but you realized the same thing I did. If you get power from your sins, then it’s more than worth committing them, don’tcha think?”
Alec’s expression soured. “I think you’re fucking wrong about me,” he said. He stood up, towering over Mark. The skull on his shoulder sensed that he was in an incredible amount of danger. Mark said nothing; he wanted to see where this would go.
“I’m not a monster,” Alec huffed. “I was a good kid who wanted to do the right thing, and this bitch made me into who I am now. And my father just lets her stay by his side. He doesn’t notice shit. He doesn’t realize who that woman is. And so I’m here to fucking destroy the city he’s created, to burn it down to the bedrock on which it stands.”
Mark raised an eyebrow. “Your father is Josiah Power? I see it. I think you’ll realize you’re a lot more like him than you imagine.”
Alec lunged at Mark, nearly putting a hand on him. Acting quickly, Mark summoned the dragon from the tattoo on his head. Immediately, the ink turned into a violet energy construct of a serpent, lunging forward at Alec and releasing a sonic blast. Alec flew across the room, landing among the slot machines on the other wall.
“See, you’ve got this terrifying power,” Mark chided. “But I got so many years on you it’s hard to imagine. That, Alec, is why I will take this city.”
Alec writhed in pain as Mark stood over him and left. This was not the pain he felt when he hadn’t fed in a while, nor was it the pain he felt from Mark knocking him into the wall. No, this was omnipresent, coating every nerve of his body like it did when he was hungry, but ten times stronger. He cried out, bringing himself to his feet and stumbling out the door of the room. He had someone he needed to see.
≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈
“Help,” Alec gulped, grabbing Helga’s wrist in the hallway of the New Coast Polynesia Resort. He was wearing gloves, of course; he couldn’t let anyone else know about his abilities. Nearly collapsing, Alec straightened himself using Helga’s body as a support.
“Alec,” Helga said, faking a smile. “You know, you are the last person I expected to see today. I have to say, I am very impressed with what you’ve managed to accomplish with your abilities. Seems like they’re treating you better than I had expected.” She paused for a second, looking around for bystanders. There were none. “Come into Room 104 with me, and we can talk. I don’t want to have to do to any others what I did to you.”
The two of them walked further down the hall, entering Helga’s personal lab as Helga closed the door behind him. It was just as pristine, Alec thought, as the one Helga had imprisoned him in, although it was considerably smaller. Alec had only seen the inside of this lab from the small glimpse he had gotten when he had asked Helga to help save the day. The worst mistake of his life, Alec thought. He cared about his father for one moment, wanted to help save his life, and it cost him gravely.
“I take it you have questions about your newfound powers?” Helga turned to the door and latched it shut. “Don’t worry; I’ve soundproofed the room much better since our last encounter. I could yell at the top of my lungs that you were Phosphorus, and Curtis in the next room wouldn’t do so much as to look up from his computer.”
Alec nodded. “You said that this power would kill me. Everything’s starting to hurt like a bitch; I fed on my way here and it didn’t help. I need answers.”
“Well,” Helga said, “I wish I could give you all the answers you need. Primer is a very imprecise science, and it reacts differently for every person that it works on. That being said, none of the powers triggered by your specific primer have killed anyone in less than 6 months. Trust me when I say I’ve done extensive research on this one.”
Alec winced. He imagined Helga Jace, the kind hearted TV personality dedicated to treating people with metahuman conditions, giving hundreds of people the same treatment he had. It made so little sense, but with what he had seen of Helga in the past few months, it still fit perfectly.
Helga continued as Alec sat himself down on a nearby hospital bed draped in thin paper. “That being said, any sort of pain you might experience is par for the course, and none of it is a sign of your impending death. Most of it will make you want to die, but you’ll be fine for several more months at least. Now, unfortunately, I still have work to do that my team can’t know about, so curing you would not benefit me. But so far, you’ve been exemplary in your discretion about these matters. Not to mention the immense distraction you’re providing for them; they barely have time to think about anything I’m doing.”
Alec nodded. He resisted attacking Helga outright, as he knew she was his only chance at salvation. That did not mean that he wasn’t ready to do so. Instead, he looked her in the eyes and weakly spoke. “Will this new pain go away?”
“Hard to tell. I could help run some tests, but as hard as it may seem to imagine, I don’t know everything about every power that comes my way. Most likely, though, there will be high points and low points, as there are with every disease. I can tell from your demeanor, for example, that you’re feeling significantly less pain than when you literally grabbed me, even if it doesn’t feel that way. By the way, don’t scare an old lady like that, especially with your specific ability.” Helga chuckled wildly. Alec felt sick to his stomach, even though these past few months had hardened him. This, he thought, was what true monsters looked like.
“Fine,” Alec said, standing up. “You know what? I don’t need any more help. I got money, I got power, I got ladies, and it’s all because of your experiment. When the power does start to kill me, I’ll be here. But until then, I’m not coming through this door again.”
Alec left Room 104 and began to leave the hotel. Helga was right; as he got up, the pain had begun to fade. After a few seconds, it had all but disappeared for the time being. He got to the lobby, where he immediately noticed a new complication. Josiah Power, his father, was standing over the desk, talking to the receptionist. Before he could turn the other way, he saw Alec standing there. He fell silent, his gaze softening.
“Alec,” he muttered, coming closer. “I thought… I thought you left the city.”
The rage that Alec felt that first night in the hotel began to bubble up again, but he kept it down. “Hey, Dad. Yeah, I was gone for a while, but I’m… I couldn’t leave.” He paused, considering his next words carefully. “I think I’m ready to talk to you again.”
“That’s fantastic,” Josiah smiled. “Take your time; you don’t owe me anything. But if you want, maybe we could get dinner sometime?”
Alec nodded. “I think I’d like that.” It was a lie, he told himself; he had to come up with something on the spot. But it worked in his favor; if he had a relationship with his father again, the betrayal would be much sweeter when he got to that point. He couldn’t wait to see Josiah’s face as he realized who he truly was. But that had to wait.
As he left the lobby, he smiled. The pain may come back, but those who deserved it would also feel his pain in due time.
≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈
”Alright,” Curtis said through his microphone. ”We’ve spotted the Tattooed Man in Kim’s area. Anyone currently in the field, converge on 44th Street and H. We need to take him down sooner than later.”
“Got it,” Ray said, hovering high above Josiah’s central shopping district in New Coast before taking off due west. Below him, Thunder, Blue Devil and Commander Steel patrolled the streets; each of them began to make their way to the location in question through a series of Dan’s portals. As he arrived on location, Ray began to take in the sites around him.
The area of the city that one of Josiah’s associates, Terrence Kim, developed felt much more like a normal city than a theme park. That said, it still felt like a theme park, if only because of how sleek and untouched the buildings were. Towering white-and-blue skyscrapers surrounded the wide streets of this area, with tropical foliage in planter boxes along the sidewalks. Palm trees dotted the curbsides, which featured parking spaces where the cars would face the curb. What took Ray by surprise the most, however, was how empty this part was. Not all of Kim’s territory was available to the public yet; only the bare minimum was completed.
Ray landed on the street as Dan, Anissa and Marc portalled in behind him. Several blocks ahead of them, the Tattooed Man was smoking a cigar. He quickly noticed them and put it out before turning to them.
The Tattooed Man let out a hearty chuckle as he took a few steps forward. “Well, well, well. You finally found me. Hey Marc, how’s the missus doing? You know, I could tell that she was stalking me when I got out. I served my time, why do I need to get harassed for what I’ve already done?”
“Seems like it was well worth it,” Commander Steel said. “Considering where you ended up, Mark, you can’t take the high ground here..”
“This small talk was never my favorite part. Let’s get this over with.” Two violet wings of energy sprouted from the Tattooed Man’s back, allowing him to tower over the other heroes. Ray immediately met him in the sky. From a sword tattoo on his left arm, he summoned a blade of energy that he immediately gripped with both hands before charging at Ray.
Ray dodged the Tattooed Man’s first attack, responding with a barrage of light blasts. From the ground, Commander Steel fired his own bolts of energy from the wrist-cannons Helga had designed for him. The sword dissolved and was replaced by a shield that grew from a small tattoo on the back of the criminal’s left hand. For several seconds, the Tattooed Man sustained the heroes’ continuous fire, but it was interrupted when the Blue Devil portalled onto the shield and began punching at it over and over again. The Tattooed Man dissolved the shield and dived out of the way, flying higher to avoid further attacks. Ray chased after him and Dan portalled himself back onto the ground.
“Now this, this is fun,” the villain chuckled to himself. “Marc, why couldn’t you learn to fly, or build some glider or something? Sky battles are awesome!” The dragon on the top of the Tattooed Man’s head came loose, chasing after Ray. He fired out a concentrated beam of light while flying away, but the dragon kept going. Before he could stop it, the dragon screamed, letting loose a powerful high-pitched sound, and Ray fell to the floor.
The Tattooed Man landed on the ground, his wings dissolving as he stood over the fallen hero. “Now this will be a fun one to ink. I wonder, how should I remember you by? I’d do a lightbulb, but I don’t think you’re that bright to begin with.”
A bolt of energy from Marc’s cannon stopped the villain from finishing Ray off, hitting his right shoulder and making him turn to the other heroes. Thunder leapt up onto the side of a nearby high-rise, tackling the criminal from behind as he was distracted. She began to force a pair of handcuffs onto him, but the Tattooed Man quickly summoned his wings again, knocking Thunder down as he turned to the skies.
The lightning tattoo on the villain’s right arm began to let out a violet glow. From the skies, he fired powerful beams of lightning. The first hit Anissa, knocking her down; the second and third were fired at Commander Steel. A metal shield expanded from the hero’s own right arm, protecting him. As the Tattooed Man flew down, a portal from the Blue Devil intercepted him and brought him face-to-face with the two heroes left standing.
The Tattooed Man readied another bolt, knocking Dan clean out. “Now,” he chided, “it’s just the two of us. Like old times, isn’t it?” He resummoned the sword and began exchanging blows with the soldier. Commander Steel quickly discharged another energy blast, which knocked the Tattooed Man a few steps backwards as he began to charge up another lightning bolt.
He stopped. The skull tattoo on his shoulder began to sense another presence nearby.
From above, another hero flew down, clad in a pristine silver costume with glowing accents. In the center was the letter “T” in a circle, clearly the symbol of the hero Mister Terrific. He glided on what looked like two green glowing disks that appeared to be made of pure energy. He looked down at some sort of holographic console emanating from his wrist. The Tattooed Man quickly recognized that this must be the Blue Devil’s associate, the one who once worked for Mister Terrific. The villain was used to recognizing Commander Steel’s body language, even behind that mask of his, and he knew that his enemy was just as surprised as he was.
The new hero’s drones quickly surrounded the Tattooed Man, opening fire with green laser-blasts all around him. The Tattooed Man couldn’t take it, and quickly fell unconscious himself.
”Hey,” Curtis said as he flew down. ”I noticed you needed help.”
≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈
“So, wait,” Ray began to say as the heroes converged in Room 103. Helga had just finished performing medical care on the three members of Coastguard who were knocked out during the battle, and they were now calling a meeting to discuss what had happened. “You’re--you’re a hero now? When?”
Curtis nodded. “Not always; I’ll be on comms for a lot of the time. But when you guys need it, Helga and I developed this suit. I’ll be calling myself the Technocrat.”
“Cool,” Ray said. He poked at the Technocrat suit, which was standing up in the corner of the room, connected to a charger.
“I’d have to disagree,” Anissa said. “Curtis, you’re incredibly important to us. We can’t risk something happening to you.”
Curtis nodded. “Well, unfortunately, it’s not really your choice. I’ll make extra sure to choose my battles; don’t worry. But it’s important to me that you are all safe. The Tattooed Man would’ve killed all of you if I hadn’t come out there. And with Courtney in Opal half the time and Cisco… you know… we need more hands on deck.”
“He would’ve killed you, too, if he had known you were coming,” Anissa remarked. “And now, everyone who comes to New Coast will know about you. Nothing’s changed; you just had the element of surprise this time.”
Dan, who was sitting in the corner, finally spoke up. “Look,” he said. “I get why you’re worried, Anissa, I really do. I’m worried, too; like, really terrified outta my mind that my friend’s gonna get hurt doing this. But if there’s someone who can pull off this stuff, it’s Curtis. I wouldn’t try and stop him, either; he’s a very stubborn man.”
“Alright,” Anissa huffed. “But I’m not gonna like it.”
“The only question,” Marc laughed, “is what flavor of ice cream he’s gonna be. I can’t think of any grey ice-creams.”
“That’s for Josiah to figure out,” Curtis smiled. “If I had to pick? Probably mint chocolate-chip. All of your weird fruit flavors are upsetting to the palate.”
Everyone laughed around them, except for Anissa. It still didn’t feel right for Curtis to be going out there, and she knew that feeling wouldn’t change. But they were right; she had to deal with it.
≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈
Mark Richards woke up. His surroundings didn’t feel familiar, but they clearly weren’t any sort of prison. The building he found himself in was some sort of makeshift cabin made of wood. He was tied to a wooden chair on a grass floor. He looked at the ceiling; above him, the panels of wood were ornately painted in patterns of green and silver.
“Where am I?” he asked, dazed.
A man walked over to him in a red-and-brown robe. Draped over him was a green cape decorated with one glowing red gemstone on it. The first thing Mark noticed about his face was his two piercing green eyes, which seemed to see into his soul.
“Greetings, Mark,” the man said. “I know you have many questions, but trust me when I say I am not an enemy.”
Mark chuckled dryly. “When I’m tied to a chair like this, that’s usually hard to imagine.”
“We both know that those bindings would not hold you if you did not want them to,” the man said in a monotone voice. “We simply had to restrain you, as you tended to flail around when unconscious.” He walked over to Mark and untied the knots that kept him tied to the chair. “My name is Samuel, and we have the same goals: to destroy Coastguard and to rule New Coast City. I am gathering people close to the Coastguard, people with vendettas against their members. You fit these criteria easily; another one of these people has already been clamoring to meet you.”
A tall, thin man with pale skin and dark hair walked over to him. He wore a suit and tie that had clearly been hastily put on. Mark stood up and shook his hand.
“Hi,” he smiled, speaking in a nasal voice. “Michael Clarion, occultist extraordinaire. Pleased to meet you. I also just got out of prison. Now, I have a lot of questions about your tattoos. They are mystical in origin, correct? I’m very interested to discuss the finer points of this with you.”
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A not-so-brief rundown of letters J-L of Jeffrey Epstein's 'Little Black Book'

Below is a rundown of letters J-L of Epstein's contacts. Last year, I wrote about letters A-C. You can check that out here (https://www.reddit.com/conspiracy/comments/cpis3n/a_brief_rundown_of_the_first_ten_pages_of_jeffrey/).
I also wrote about letters D-F on July 5, 2020. You can check that out here (https://www.reddit.com/conspiracy/comments/hlrba8/a_notsobrief_rundown_of_letters_df_in_jeffrey/).
I posted letters G-I on July 13, 2020. You can check that out here (https://www.reddit.com/conspiracy/comments/hqko0y/a_notsobrief_rundown_of_letters_gi_in_jeffrey/). There are some misspelled names. Epstein entered their names like this.
I have bolded some of the more interesting connections and information, but there could be much more that I overlooked. I hope something here strikes an interest in someone and maybe we can get more investigations out of this. Please, if you know anything more about any of these people than what is presented here, post below. I am working off of the unredacted black book found here: https://www.coreysdigs.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Jeffrey-Epsteins-Little-Black-Book-unredacted.pdf
J-L
Jackson, Michael (Samuel Gen): Yes, this is a reference to MJ the singer. However, the numbers listed are not MJ’s. They belong to Samuel Gen, a lawyer for a financial advisor (Jerry Seinfeld’s brother-in-law) who worked for MJ for a while. This one was a reach for Epstein.
Jacobson, Julian: Likely a reference to a Managing Director at several London-based investment firms.
Jagger, Mick: World-famous lead singer of the Rolling Stones. Has been seen in photographs with Ghislaine Maxwell. Actress Rae Dawn Chong claims she slept with Jagger when she was 15 years old.
Jagger, Hatti: Former fashion director for Vogue, Harper’s, and Tatler. Also works as a celebrity stylist and at fashion shows.
jake: Not enough info.
Jameel, Mohammed: Saudi Arabian businessman. CEO of Abdul Latif Jameel, a collective of family-owned businesses that specialize in transportation, investing, and real estate. Royal pervert Prince Andrew infamously partied on Jameel’s yacht during the 2011 London riots (source: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/prince-andrew-frolicks-on-yacht-with-mystery-147496).
James, Susie: Founder and owner of 123 Send Ltd, a company that provides payment terminals.
Janklow, Linda: Literary agent and wife of Mort Janklow, the primary owner of Janklow & Nesbit Associates, the largest literary agency in the world. Attended a party hosted by Sony Pictures with Epstein, although they are not pictured together (source: https://www.patrickmcmullan.com/search/?event=5b3ef4fb9f92906676446c21). In 2007, Ghislaine Maxwell threw an exclusive party (80 carefully selected guests) at her NYC townhouse to celebrate the opening of a new shop by designer Allegra Hicks (granddaughter-in-law of Earl Mountbatten, who you can read more about in my G-I Epstein thread under India Hicks’s name). One of the eighty guests was Julie Landlow, daughter of Linda and Mort.
Jarecki, Nancy & Andrew: Andrew is a filmmaker, co-founder of Moviefone, and was a producer on Catfish, the documentary that launched the popular MTV show. Andrew’s family was reportedly friends with Jeffrey Epstein. There is an EXCELLENT thread on the connections between the Jarecki family (especially Andrew and Nick’s father, Henry) and Epstein here (source: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1200044576947556352.html). Quick summary: Henry was born in Nazi Germany; flew on the Lolita Express; is an expert in psychotropic drugs; owns two islands in the British Virgin Islands; founded the first youth center in the British Virgin Islands; lived 2 miles from Epstein in NYC; owns and donates to many sketchy foundations, schools, and organizations; has donated at least $1 million to leftist organizations). Andrew’s wife Nancy created bettybeauty, a company that specializes in hair dye for your nether regions (not kidding).
Jarecki, Nick: The movie director brother of Andrew and son of Henry Jarecki (see link under Andrew & Nancy Jarecki for more info). Reportedly dated Courtney Love (also in Epstein’s ‘Black Book’) in 2015. Photographed with Ghislaine Maxwell at a Gucci party (source: https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/ghislaine-maxwell-and-nick-jarecki-attend-gucci-hosts-a-news-photo/591605562).
Jason (canada): Not enough info. Could be artist Jason Wasserman based out of Canada. The second number listed traces back to Station 16 Gallery in Montreal.
Javier: Javier Banon is former Co-head of Merchant Banking at Lehman Brothers and current Founding Partner of Trilantic Europe.
Jeffries, Tim: Ownedirector of Hamiltons Gallery in London. Best known for dating models Elle Macpherson, Claudia Schiffer, Kylie Minogue and Sophie Dahl (also in Epstein’s ‘Black Book’). Jefferies has attended fundraisers for ARK Academy and the NSPCC. He truly cares about children.
Johnson, Richard & Nadine: Nadine is a millionaire public relations guru. Nadine is a good friend of Ghislaine Maxwell’s. Some clients of Nadine Johnson include spirit cooking extraordinaire Marina Abramovic and hotelier Andre Balazs, good friend of Ghislaine. Richard is one of the most well-known gossip columnists and was the editor of Page Six for twenty-five years. There is a great thread detailing the Johnsons’ ties to the Clintons, Balazs, and others here (source: https://threader.app/thread/1162148078981394432). Basically, Richard Johnson is friendly with the Clintons and, as Page Six Editor, purposely did not report or downplayed stories on the Clintons and Nadine’s clients. He also took bribes. Considering Nadine is a good friend of Ghislaine, it would not be a stretch to assume that Richard could have buried stories on Maxwell and Epstein. I could spend 10 pages on the shady connections these two have.
Johnson, Lucy: Not enough info.
Jones, Ann & Mick: Mick is the guitarist of Foreigner, an immensely popular rock band in the ‘70s and ‘80s. His wife, Ann, is a jewelry designer, and friend of Ghislaine. Ann Jones was photographed at a party with Ghislaine and Donald Trump in 1997 (source: https://www.the-sun.com/news/85818/epstein-madam-ghislaine-maxwell-milked-billionaire-dad-and-threw-lavish-parties-with-beautiful-women/)
Josephson, Barry & Jackie: Barry is a producer and the former President of Production for Columbia Pictures. Jackie is his ex-wife and also a producer.
Karella, Kalliope: Wife of Prince Pierre d’Arenberg. Kalliope is a good friend of Ghislaine Maxwell.
Kastner, Ron: No info found.
Katz, Anton & Robin Plant: Anton is CEO and co-founder of Talos Trading, which specializes in cryptocurrency. Anton and Robin are friends of and have been photographed with Ghislaine (source: https://www.patrickmcmullan.com/search/?person=5b3ef50c9f929066764df255).
Katzeneilenbogen, Mark: Long-time investment banker who used to be based out of South Africa.
Keeling, Sarah: There is a Sarah Keeling in London who is a former British government official with 20 years of experience in national security and intelligence experience, however, the phone number listed has a 410 area code, which leads back to eastern Maryland. Inconclusive.
Kegan, Rory: A nightclub designer and creator. Co-founder of the exclusive, celebrity-filled London nightclub, Chinawhite. Prince Andrew (source: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9818190/prince-andrew-pictures-cast-doubt-epstein-sex-slave/) and Prince Albert of Monaco are regulars. Chelsea Clinton has been there, as well (source: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/bright-night-for-china-white-6299739.html). Other patrons include: Prince Andrew, Kate Middleton, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, and more.
Keidan, Amanda: Owner of Keidan Jewelry.
Keidan, Jon: An entertainment executive-turned-venture capitalist. As an entertainment exec, Keidan worked with John Legend, Dave Matthews Band, and Nappy Roots. Keidan serves on the Council of Foreign Relations, a powerful group that some believe determines foreign policy. Former and current members include former presidents, current and former politicians, business magnates, and celebrities (https://www.cfr.org/membership/roster).
Keller, Georgie: Interior designer.
Kellette Frayse, Caroline: Fashion editor at Vogue and Tatler (both magazines constantly come up in Epstein’s contacts). Former girlfriend of Imran Khan, whose name has come up frequently. Passed away in 2014. Her husband, Jean-Marc Fraysse, is a French investment banker.
Kelmenson, Leo-Arthur & Gayl: Leo was an advertising and marketing guru who has been credited with saving Chrysler. Friend and advisor to Lee Iacocca, former President of Chrysler. He worked as Special Project Officer for the U.S. Department of State under President John F. Kennedy and AG Robert F. Kennedy. He had tons of connections. His former maid accused him of sexual harassment in 2010 (source: https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/maid-harassment-suit-claims-ad-exec-leo-arthur-kelmenson-madman-pervy-mad-men-wannabe-article-1.156915). Kelmenson died less than two months after the story came out.
Kennedy Cuomo, Andrew & Kerry: Andrew is the current governor of New York. It’s no secret that Cuomo is willing to look the other way on sexual deviancy as long as he receives a payoff. Cuomo halted a probe into the handling of Harvey Weinstein’s case in New York after receiving $25,000 from Weinstein’s law firm (source: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/bjbqg4/andrew-cuomo-received-dollar25000-donation-from-harvey-weinsteins-law-firm). Andrew’s brother, CNN Host Chris Cuomo famously told viewers “not to get caught up in the intrigue of who Epstein’s friends are” (source: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/07/11/cnn_cuomo_lets_not_get_caught_up_in_the_intrigue_of_who_was_friends_with_jeffrey_epstein.html). Perhaps, he was covering for his brother. Kerry Kennedy is Cuomo’s ex-wife of fifteen years, the daughter of RFK, and a close friend of Ghislaine Maxwell. Supposedly, Kennedy provided Ghislaine with informal illegal advice (source: https://www.splicetoday.com/politics-and-media/the-nth-word-and-m-theory).
Kennedy Jr. Ted: Son of Ted Kennedy and nephew of JFK and RFK. Ted Jr. dabbled in politics and currently works as a lawyer. His father, Ted, was a notorious sexual abuser (allegedly).
Kennedy, Bobby & Mary: Bobby is the son of RFK and nephew of JFK. Bobby is a known drug abuser and philanderer. Bobby kept a sex journal detailing his conquests while he was married (source: https://nypost.com/2013/09/08/rfk-jr-s-sex-diary-of-adultery/). His ex-wife, Mary, committed “suicide” two years after their divorce. Before committing suicide, Mary told a friend that she “feared for her life” and Bobby told her that she “would be better off dead” (source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3231043/How-serial-cheater-Bobby-Kennedy-Jr-strutted-family-home-exposing-private-parts-demanded-m-nage-trois-wife-Mary-went-public-Cheryl-Hines-telling-Mary-things-easier-killed-herself.html).
Kennedy, Ethel: Widow of RFK Sr. and mother of eleven, including Bobby Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, and Joseph Kennedy II.
Kennedy, Jo: Joseph Kennedy II is the son of RFK Sr. and Ethel. Served in the House of Representatives from 1987-1999. In 1973, Joseph was convicted of negligent driving after paralyzing a young woman. He was fined $100.
Kennedy, Senator Edward: Brother of JFK and RFK, Ted Kennedy served as U.S. Senator of Massachusetts for 47 years. Besides politics, Ted is best known for the Chappaquiddick incident in which a young female speechwriter for RFK drowned to death when he lost control of his vehicle while driving across a bridge. He was charged with leaving the scene of an incident and given a two month suspended sentence. Ted was also notorious for his extramarital affairs. Senator Kennedy once hosted a party at his house attended by Bill Clinton and Lynn Forester de Rothschild. Rothschild wrote a letter to Clinton afterwards in which she mentions that they spoke about Epstein (source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7283825/Jeffrey-Epstein-injured-jail-cell-following-possible-suicide-assault.html). It is unclear what was said or what Rothschild’s connection could possibly be.
Kersner, Sol: South African accountant and hotel and casino magnate who died of cancer in 2020. Kerzner was a close friend of Donald Trump. They even worked together to create The Palm, a man-made island off the coast of Dubai (source: https://www.ft.com/content/46393280-d9f9-11da-b7de-0000779e2340). Kerzner was also close friends with Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York (https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/sarah-ferguson-the-duchess-of-york-sol-kerzner-chairman-and-news-photo/83768272), Naomi Campbell (https://www.gettyimages.ca/detail/news-photo/naomi-campbell-and-sol-kerzner-pose-backstage-during-the-news-photo/82869744), and Bill Clinton (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8144647/As-Sol-Kerzner-dies-aged-84-RICHARD-KAY-looks-riotously-louche-life.html). Kerzner was very good friends with Nelson Mandela and built his casino resorts with Gerard Inzerillo, who you can read about in my G-I ‘Black Book’ thread.
Khayat, Antoine, Jana, & George: Jana is an heiress and businesswoman. Jana is the niece of Galen Weston, a close friend of Prince Charles. George is her brother and CEO of Associated British Foods. Jana’s husband, Antoine, is a former banker and currently runs their vineyard.
Kidd, Jemma: Kidd is a British makeup artist, fashion model, and aristocrat. Married to Arthur Wellesley, Earl of Mornington, the son of the Duke and Duchess of Wellington, making her a Countess. Kidd is an interesting figure with elite connections. From 2005-2012, Ghislaine Maxwell served as Director of Jemma Kidd Make-Up Limited, a U.K. makeup company, which was founded by Kidd. Not only did Ghislaine serve as Director, but she was also a shareholder, along with the Rothschild family (source: https://nationalpost.com/news/world/in-hiding-for-years-epstein-accomplice-ghislaine-maxwell-spotted-in-l-a-burger-shop). If you click around the PDFs on this website (https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/05340072/filing-history), you can see everything. The 16 JUN 2006 PDF on page 3 shows you a list of Officers and shareholders of the company. Jemma Kidd has also attended charity events for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) (https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-beckham-nspcc-party-jemma-kidd-106882170.html). Her sister, Jodie, is also a huge supportefundraiser of the NSPCC, as well as the Help a London Child and Monsoon Accessorize Trust charities, both of which help out disadvantaged children (source: https://www.looktothestars.org/celebrity/jodie-kidd).
King, Abby: No info found.
Kirwin Taylor, Charlie & Helen: Charles is an investment banker. He was former CEO of Credit Suisse in Switzerland, an investment firm which shows up a few times through Epstein’s contacts. His wife, Helen, is a journalist.
Kirwin Taylor, Peter: British financier. Was a member of the Pilgrims Society (https://isgp-studies.com/pilgrims-society-membership-list), a group that has included the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, and other elites amongst its ranks.
Kissinger, Dr. Henry A: Former U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under Nixon. Kissinger has long been accused of committing war crimes (ex: carpet bombing Cambodia, installing fascist governments in Chile and Argentina, genocide, extending our stay in Vietnam, etc) yet somehow managed to win a Nobel Peace Prize in 1973. Kissinger once said, “Military men are dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy.” Kissinger served with Epstein on the Trilateral Commission. Kissinger has also been a member of the Bilderberg Group, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Aspen Institute, and Bohemian Grove. Long thought to be an advocate for a globalist New World Order, Kissinger is a scumbag of the highest order. His connections with Gates, the Clintons, Bush Sr. and Jr., the Rockefellers, and the Rothschilds are well-documented. If anyone here has ever done any research regarding the NWO, you have undoubtedly seen Kissinger’s name several times.
Klee, Rupert & Charlotte de: Rupert is a Director with Oakridge Group, a property development and investment company. His wife, Charlotte, is the producer of the religious plays at Wintershall.
Klesch, Johnathan: Former Director of Klesch Trading, which specializes in industrial commodities. It has offices in Russia, Malta, Surrey, and in London, down the block from Buckingham Palace.
Koch, David: Co-founder of Koch Industries, a diversified manufacturing conglomerate. Koch Industries has stolen oil from Indian reservations, committed hundreds of polluting, labor, and workplace safety violations. When he ran on the Libertarian ticket as the vice presidential nominee in 1980, Koch aimed to abolish Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare benefits, and minimum wage. Koch and Epstein were friends. Epstein even attended a party at Koch’s Southampton home (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7270735/Jeffrey-Epstein-Trumps-closest-advisers-Wilbur-Ross-Rudy-Giuliani-Steve-Mnunchin.html). Koch has also been photographed with Ghislaine Maxwell (https://www.reddit.com/KochWatch/comments/dcjth3/david_koch_ghislaine_maxwell_getty_images/). Thankfully, Koch died last year.
Kohl, Astrid: A businesswoman involved in pharmaceuticals. Married to Prince Alexander of Liechtenstein. Daughter-in-law of Prince Philipp of Liechtenstein. Niece of former German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl.
Kotic, Boby: CEO of Activision Blizzard, a video game holding company. Used to run several electronic companies. From 2003-2008, he was a director at Yahoo! In 2012, he became a non-executive director of Coca-Cola.
Kotze, Alex Von: British businessman involved in the tech industry.
Kravetz, Anna: Not much info found. Has a degree in finance from Wharton School and used to live on Park Avenue in NYC.
Krooth, Caryn: A successful real estate agent based out of Los Angeles
Kudrow, Alistar: No info found.
Lal, Dalamal: Director of Akron Corp. & Akron (Nig.) Ltd., a food and beverage import company based out of Nigeria.
Lalaunis, Demetra: Daughter of Ilias Lalaounis, a pioneer in Greek jewelry and a world renowned goldsmith.
Lambert, Christopher: Well-known actor.
Lambert, David: Former partner, managing director, and VP at Goldman Sachs.
Lambert, Edward: Lampert is a billionaire hedge fund manager and former CEO of Sears. Lampert graduated from Yale University in 1984 where he was a member of Skull and Bones. Rumored pedophile David Geffen gave Lampert $200 million to invest in 1992, when Lampert was just 29 years old. Lampert made Geffen $1 billion.
Lambos Duff & John: Karen “Duff” Duffy is an actress, model, and TV personality. She has had memorable roles as the love interest in “Blank Check” and as JP Shay in “Dumb and Dumber.” Duffy has battled with sarcoidosis, a deadly central nervous system disease, since the mid-’90s. She credits Harvey Weinstein with saving her life (https://nypost.com/2000/10/03/coping-with-class-this-model-patient-suffers-in-style/). John is a former banker with Morgan Stanley and current President of GCA-US, an investment banking company.
Lang, Caroline: An art expert and Chairman at Sotheby’s Switzerland.
Lange, Dieter: Former Partner at WilliamHare, an international law firm with offices in London, Berlin, the U.S., Beijing, and Brussels. Passed away in 2010.
Larsen Janet: The only one I can find is a Business Psychologist based out of London.
Laurie, Jonathan: Founder and CEO of Cheyne Capital Management, an alternate investment fund firm.
Lavlada, Laura D.B. de: Laura Diez Barroso is a Mexican businesswoman. She sold her stock in Televisa for $726 million in 1993. Since then, she has been the head of several other companies.
Lawford Christopher & Jean: Christopher was an actor and relative of the Kennedys. His uncles were JFK, RFK, and Ted Kennedy. Many of his relatives appear in Epstein’s ‘Black Book’. His first wife, Jeannie, was an ad-sales associate for New York Magazine.
Lawton Paul: Two British businessmen with the same name come up. Both have extensive resumes. Could be either one.
Lazar, Christopher & Marie: Christophe seems to be a realtor in Paris, but I am not completely sure.
Le Bon, Simon & Jasmine: Simon is the lead singer of Duran Duran. His wife, Yasmin, is/was a fashion model. Yasmin is represented by Models1 in London. Models1 also represents Epstein and Ghislaine’s friend, Naomi Campbell. Le Bon has been accused of sexual assault in the past (https://www.freep.com/story/news/2018/07/12/simon-le-bons-accuser-sex-assault-claim-speaks-out-awful/777106002/).
Le Fur, Jean-Yves: French businessman and magazine creator. He was once Princess Stephanie of Monaco’s ex-fiance. More notably, Le Fur was the one who discovered supermodel Karen Mulder (his girlfriend at the time) on the floor after she attempted suciide. Mulder blew the lid off the rampant rape and sexual abuse that she and her modeling colleagues had suffered at the hands of businessmen, royalty, celebrities, and government officials. She was even the protege of Epstein collaborator (allegedly), Jean Luc Brunel (https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/article238351108.html).
Le Marg Willie: No info found.
Lea, Piers: CEO of Learning Technologies Group, a workplace digital learning company.
Leeds, Jeffrey: Co-founder and Managing Partner of Leeds Equity. One of Leeds Equity’s partner companies is Endeavor Schools, which runs private preschools, primary schools, and secondary schools in Florida and 11 other states (https://www.leedsequity.com/news/articles/leeds-equity-partners-completes-investment-in-endeavor-schools). They are also partners with Fusion Educational Group (now Fusion Academy), which runs a chain of private secondary schools (https://www.leedsequity.com/news/articles/leeds-equity-partners-completes-investment-in-fusion-education-group). Former teacher Kris White, now the head of Fusion Academy in Palo Alto, allegedly told a student that he was in love with her and wrote her a note saying he was “obsessed” with her. (https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/07/12/teachers-named-in-presentation-high-sex-investigation-kept-working-as-bay-area-educators-for-years/). This story was just published on July 12, 2020. Hypothetically, if one wanted to procure underage children, it would certainly help if the head of the school was on board and possibly a pedophile himself. According to this former teacher at Fusion Academy, “many students struggle with learning differences, behavioral issues, and/or addictions” (https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Employee-Review-Fusion-Academy-RVW21260629.htm). In other words, the downtrodden and vulnerable. Fusion Academy refers to itself as a non-traditional school that focuses on individual students. Seems like a great opportunity. Leeds was also good friends with Epstein (https://nymag.com/nymetro/news/people/n_7912/) and has close ties to Colin Powell and Rudy Giuliani (https://nypost.com/2016/09/14/colin-powell-wont-vote-for-her-because-of-bill-clinton/).
Lefcourt, Jerry: Famous lawyer who defended Epstein in 2007. That same year, Epstein donated $250,000 to the Washington-based Foundation for Criminal Justice, where Lefcourt was a board member.
Lester, Dominick: Founder and owner of MortgageFlex Systems, a mortgage lending company.
Levine, Phillip: Ex-Miami Beach mayor and close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton. He claims that he doesn’t know how Epstein got his contact information… all 13 phone numbers, including those of his driver and housekeepers (https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/ex-miami-beach-mayor-philip-levine-listed-13-times-in-jeffrey-epsteins-black-book-11242116)!
Liman, Doug: Popular Hollywood director and producer. He directed Swingers, The Bourne Identity, and a couple of Tom Cruise movies.
Lindeman-Barnet, Sloan & Roger: Sloan has been a New York Times bestseller and an on-air and print reporter for NBC, ABC, and Reuters. Sloan and Roger also sit on the board of the Spence School in New York City, a private K-12 all-girls school (https://www.spenceschool.org/2017---news-detail?pk=999120). Her husband, Roger, is the founder of beauty.com and Chairman and CEO of Shaklee, a highly successful nutrition company. Donald Trump, Melania Trump, and Ghislaine Maxwell all attended the publication party for Sloan’s book in 2008 (https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/ghislaine-maxwell-anton-katz-and-robin-katz-attend-sloan-news-photo/619921016 ; https://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/news-photo/donald-trump-melania-trump-sloan-barnett-and-roger-barnett-news-photo/619921180).Other guests included Steve Mnuchin, Epstein and Maxwell chum Carol Mack, and a bunch of others also featured in Epstein’s ‘Black Book’ (Colin Cowie, Anton and Robin Katz, and Vittorio Assaf).
Lindemann, Adam & Elizabeth: Adam is a billionaire investor and art gallery owner. Brother of Sloan (mentioned just above). Elizabeth is his ex-wife. She is often photographed with many other people mentioned in Epstein’s ‘Black Book.’
Lindemann, George(Sr.) & Freida: Now-deceased billionaire father of Sloan and Adam. George was the CEO and Chairman of Southern Union, a pipeline company and served as Vice President of the Metropolitan Opera Association of NYC. His wife, Frayda, is the President and CEO of the Metropolitan Opera.
Lindsay, Alex & Jaclyn: Alex is a war documentary maker who rents out his loft at the address Epstein has listed (https://www.independent.co.uk/property/house-and-home/property/spheres-of-influence-72014.html).
Lindsey, Ludovic: Racecar driver.
Lindsley, Blake: Actress who was in two movies directed by Doug Liman (also in Epstein’s book) - “Swingers” and “Getting In.”
Linley, David: Princess Margaret’s son, Queen Elizabeth II’s nephew, and first cousin of Prince Charles and Prince Andrew. Linley is a furniture maker and the 2nd Earl of Snowdon. He used to be the Chairman of Christie’s auction house in the UK.
Liogos, Babis: No info found, but one of the numbers traces back to Thylan Associates, a real estate and investment firm.
Lister, Paul: Likely the director of legal services and company secretary for Associated British Foods, or it could be a conservationist. Not sure which.
Livanos, Arriette: I believe this Arietta Livanos, wife of Greek shipping magnate, Stavros Livanos. Arietta passed away in 1986.
Lo Cascio, Robert: Founder and CEO of LivePerson, a tech company that develops conversational commerce. LoCascio was photographed with Ghislaine at an after party in 2012 (https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/ghislaine-maxwell-and-robert-locascio-attend-osklen-spring-news-photo/1169681572).
Loeb, Alex: Alexandra is the daughter of John Loeb, former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark under Reagan and former Delegate to the United Nations. John Loeb was also a special advisor to Nelson Rockefeller. Alexandra is also a descendant of the Lehman family (Lehman Brothers). Alexandra graduated from Spence Day School for Girls (mentioned earlier under Sloan and Roger Lindemann-Barnett).
Lonsdale, Richard: British investment banker.
Lorenzoti, Eva Vivre: Founder of luxury online retailer, Vivre.com and is a TV spokesperson/personality. Good friend of Ghislaine Maxwell. Maxwell and a couple of Rockefellers were guests at her house for a dinner party in 2010 (https://hauteliving.com/2010/11/doris-world-eva-lorenzottis-dinner-party/105102/).
Lorimer, John & Lottie: John works as a private investor and as a realtor. His wife, Lottie, is an interior designer.
Louthan Guy J: Prolific British film producer and former boyfriend of actress Liz Hurley (also in Epstein’s book).
Love, Courtney: Famous drug addict, musician, and actress who likely killed her husband, Kurt Cobain. Courtney famously claimed that Prince Andrew showed up to her house late one night in 2000 looking for sex. She has since retracted this claim. The entries under Love’s name all say ‘Dana’ next to them. This is Courtney’s ex-boyfriend, Dana Giacchetto. Giacchetto was considered to be the “stockbroker to the stars” and was friends with JFK Jr, Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, and many others. He ripped his clients off of millions. Even more telling, Giacchetto was involved in a sex abuse case against X-Men director Bryan Singer (https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/news/leonardo-dicaprios-convicted-ex-money-manager-denies-bryan-050000120.html). He died in 2016 after he partied too hard and overdosed (https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/dana-giacchetto-dead-stockbroker-stars-902383).
Lowell, Ivana: Guinness heiress who wrote about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse while she worked at Miramax in her book back in 2010 (https://www.irishcentral.com/culture/entertainment/guinness-heiress-spoke-out-about-predator-harvey-weinstein-7-years-ago). She also dated Harvey’s younger brother, Bob.
Loyd Mark: No info found.
Lucas, Colin: The godfather of Boris Johnson, England’s current Prime Minister. Lucas is a British historian and university administrator. Served as Vice Chancellor of Oxford University from 1997-2004.
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JoJo's Bizarre Adventure OC Tournament #5: Round 1 Match 14 Raymond Vs Cy

The results are in for Match 12.
“Well, now, that was a treat, wasn’t it? Alright, everyone, get ready for the main event! Bursting into the lane, ready for her adoring fans, give it up loud and clear for… TD/MD!”
The crowd went wild, then, as the star emerged, wearing a brightly-shining silver top dotted in acciaccatura symbols, blue shorts and long silver and black socks on her right and left legs accentuating the graceful form of TD/MD. Her eyes, already discolored so drastically from one another, were accentuated with asymmetric eyeshadow, gray and blue, blue dots of makeup underneath the latter left eye, and as she emerged, her left hand, clad in a blue glove with a black line through its center, stretched towards the crowd, her right in a silvery glistening glove moving towards the black headphones around her neck, blue acciaccatura symbols on either outside as other musical symbols, smaller, less prominent, dotted the rest of the thing. There was an obvious extravagance in the outfit made more impressive by its components being relatively simple: a t-shirt, shorts, socks, shoes, and gloves, really.
“Whoa, talk about a tough act to follow… And that’s coming from me!” Metra Doria laughed lightly, having emerged to an immensely lively, astonished, applauding audience, applauding the avant-garde show which had led up to her. “Sound’s Garden, am I right? The people this place attracts are some of the most interesting performers I have ever known, and what we all just witnessed, I think, is a perfect preamble, a summation of everything we should aspire to be, of the power to move hearts and souls that music can have! I seriously feel like I need to give the best damn concert of my life now just to be worthy of headlining here… And of course, I can’t play everything alone. Before we start, let’s hear it for my backing band!”
“My bassist, Stella Starlight, my drummer, Scott Sundquist, annnnd…” Melodically, that ‘and’ trailed until one of the stagehands from before, clad now in a totally new outfit, emerged. “Luna, on the synth!” With the band introduced to cheers, TD/MD, then, sat before a piano which the rest of the stagehands had moved onstage while the crowd’s eyes were on the star, and a cloud of smoke in their path. “So, Los Fortuna, are! You! Ready?!”
The first of many songs that night began.
In the chaos of these two disparate teams, both quite surprised by the realization of who they would be sharing their stages with, their independent plans, nonetheless, blended together seamlessly to tell classical comedies of ancient kings and heroes, of fighting and rejecting a tragic end, a bizarre prog rock gymnastic live weapons show tale of the human spirit at its finest.
It was often that, thanks to the mishaps of the manager Thutmose, the acts before TD/MD went down in memetic legend, the stuff people spoke about often both on social media and in shady, smoky backrooms. Usually, however, they were spoken of as disasters saved by her star performance, to the point where some wondered if it was on purpose to hype her up more at some poor bastard’s extent.
That night, however, a certain performance pierced the hearts of the crowd and brought about complete adoration, even matching the attention of the headliner. As her own show, grand, perfect, putting a tear in the eye of the man who sat beside Tigran Sins in a special box, drew to a close, and the crowd called for an encore, TD/MD spoke into the microphone. “Alright, Los Fortuna, I think I definitely have time for one more song, but… I haven’t forgotten who you were all cheering for earlier. In the time it’s taken, we’ve already seen to it… I’m going to welcome some people back on the stage to join me for this!” Directing her hand stage left, she declared, “‘Nureyev,’ Admiral Pineapples ‘Orpheus,’ ‘Hades,’ and all the best stagehands in the world, get back up here, the whole of you! Let’s close the night off in the best way possible!”
The winner is Everyone, with a score of 79!
Category Winner Point Totals Comments
Popularity Masters of Funky Action 16-14 There were a record number of tie votes this match, but in the end, just barely, MFA pulled ahead in popularity by a singular vote.
Quality Judecca Highrollers 27-29 Reasoning
JoJolity Tie 27-27 Reasoning
Conduct Tie 10-10
After the show, Metra asked the quartet to wait for her outside her green room so they might speak in private as she dressed back down into more casual getup, the four of them and manager Thutmose conversing outside all throughout.
“That was legendary,” Rudolf said first, “feel like we really moved hearts out here tonight!”
“Even if only for a little while…” Admiral Pineapples agreed, looking over the Highrollers. “It was very nice to work with you, even under such strange circumstances.”
“Tens of thousands… It’s still surreal,” Alexis added, “they were cheering for us almost as hard as they were for TD/MD… And I heard they usually end up laughing off the act right before the big headliner?”
Cybil simply allowed a smug smile. “I was advocating for you, Alexis, so of course I knew you would defeat such superstitions…” And then, she offered the manager a frown. “Mr. Thutmose. I hope now you’ve learned a lesson about fooling around with people. It is only because we were so amazing that you still have your job right now.”
“How humble…” Thutmose answered, chuckling nervously and running his hands through his hair. “Yeah, yeah, I’ll go straight now… I didn’t realize how much this was upsetting Metra, either-”
“Thutmose, my boy,” a self-important voice said, announcing his presence an instant before his garish demeanor could assault the eyes of the hangers-around. Tigran Sins, in his gold-yellow checkered suit, approached, that muscular brunette right hand of his, Fox, close by, a sort of warmth on his still quite intimidating face, “you really do know how to pick ‘em. Miss Antoine, Mr. Pavlova, Admiral, and Alexis, you were… I must say, almost sort of in the league of our star.”
“Not even close, really,” Fox answered, stepping forward then, a massive bouquet in his hands, a vinyl tucked neatly under his arm, “anyway, Thutmose, let us through. We need to speak with her now… That show was her greatest yet, and she needs to hear it personally from-”
“TD/MD isn’t seeing anyone else tonight,” Thutmose answered, the young man standing firmer now, though all four of his companions noticed that he seemed to be shaking. “She’s exhausted after her show, and already needs to make time for others…” He moved to yoink the flowers out of his hands. “I’ll give these to her on your behalf, though, and tell her who it’s from… But she won’t be seeing you.”
Like that, the warm demeanor on the intimidating-looking man’s face grew tenser again, and even Tigran seemed to grow frustrated as well, answering next, “are you certain she can’t make time? Fox really needs to speak with her in person.”
“Hey, hey, you heard the twink,” Rudolf interjected, stepping in now (“Twink..?” “Yep!”), raising a bathrobe-covered arm, “let’s keep things excellent here and not freak the poor lady out. I hear she’s got a perfect pitch, ya know, so she’s gonna hear it if we’re ruinin’ her night!”
Fox folded his arms, Tigran himself looking contemplative, almost stressed, before his accompaniment turned away, seemingly aware of the numbers on the meek man’s side. “Next time, then.”
The pair left, and like that, Thutmose nearly collapsed into the wall, exhaling. “I just defied Tigran to his face… Hhehhhh…” He shook his head. “She should be ready by now. I’m gonna go burn these flowers… Maybe start online shopping for walking sticks, ‘cuz I feel like my kneecaps are gonna notice this…”
A voice called from the inside, seemingly concurring with the manager’s point. “Coast clear? Alright, come in!”
The four entered, seeing Metra sitting there casually in a black hoodie, more fit for the cool evening, with blue sweatpants covered in silver spirals, relaxing into her chair and nursing a bottle of some sports drink with the label peeled away idly. “You four have all shown me pretty definitely what you stand for tonight… You’re cool. I think I can trust you. Have a seat, alright? Let’s hang out, chat a bit. I don’t think I need to tell you there’s a lot in Sound’s Garden that needs talking-about.”
For interested parties, as of this going up, there is still a day left to vote in a match between masters of lawful bastard and chaotic bastard energies, both vying to get the other thrown out of a resort.
Scenario:
A former speakeasy in Hotel Delmano - North Island, Downtown Los Fortuna. Late morning
The Baker Street Rat Pack had a good few ideas to advance forward juggling in their heads, now that the city’s issues were rapidly beginning to juggle themselves more and more.
North Island PD was still more aggressive under the galvanizing rhetoric of Council Chairman March, none of which seemed to be stopping the serial killer who ran rampant in the region, the districts west of the Wormwood seemed a hotbed of wars between gangs, unions, and the bulk of ODIN’s security forces, and that wasn’t even getting into issues which the BSRP had no relation to, but were indeed aware of.
The matter most currently relevant to Cy Syntheta, however, was listening to the concerns and fleeting research of Peter “Treagon” Bequasimodo.
“I just don’t get it,” Peter said to them, looking fleetingly at his laptop. “I can’t use my Stand to get out of the city, and now I try to use it to look into this ‘Institute’ here, and can't get into there either. It’s like… They have some sort of Stand User Firewall, in simple, un-hacker terms.”
Cy had been sitting and chatting with the self-styled treasonous vegan, having been of the mind of late to actually do something useful, and remembering the hacktivist had been hot on somebody, something or another’s trail. “So you have a clue as to what that ‘from the Institute, Oh No,’ thing meant?”
“Better than a clue,” Peter answered, “turns out it literally wasn’t even a riddle. Just a straightforward signoff.” Like that, he stylishly spun his laptop around on a nearby surface, stopping it as the screen faced Cy. “Look for yourself.”
“This is…” Cy was catching on quickly. “The ‘University Board’ of Midnight Sun? Hell, I knew they were kind of a big deal, but looking over these names back and forth…”
“Yep,” Peter answered, “and these are the basics I could dig up on most of them… This No guy, though, other than existing? Practically a ghost. Apparently sometimes doesn’t even show for meetings in person.”
“And we have definite signs this guy knows about people’s Stand abilities, and hangs out with that ‘Golden Sins’ guy you punched out? ‘Parapsychological Research,’ too… Sounds like Stands without outright saying Stands.”
“Think I might have to go physical again,” Peter answered, “if an agent of Neoliberal Academia is on us, we gotta know their intention. With those types you never know if they’re with you or gonna sell you out. Think I was gonna start by checking out some Institute libraries.”
“Wait,” Cy answered in turn, “you say they know about you and you’ve been trying to break in already… Then it might be too much heat on you to storm the castle. Let me take care of it.”
“Oh, man, really? That’s super cool of you, Cy. If you find anything, I owe you one.”
“Don’t think of it like I’m being nice to you for its own sake,” the assassin answered, “this is something that affects me, too, especially if we screw it up, and a physical infiltration is the kind of thing I’m more suited for than you… Though I will remember what you just offered.”
Midnight Sun University Town - A Street Decked out for Pride
Raymond “Ray” Delwyn Shimizu, meanwhile, had discovered similar information to Cy under what can be called vastly different circumstances: rather than suspicious, experience and perspective had taught him to have a cautiously optimistic approach to the clear power over the Metropolitan area the University Board held.
To the Speedwagon Foundation, this Parapsychological Research Facility has always been an enigma, since it’s always been a risk to send many operatives to Los Fortuna, but I have a ‘feeling…’ A ‘feeling’ that tells me they are not going to be so dissimilar to us. I can’t help but wonder, then, like how my team is dealing with Cairo now, if SKADE can’t have its ‘talents’ assisted by some University grants and allianceship as well… Our ‘contact’ within ODIN didn’t have a bad word to say about them, so it likely won’t cause trouble with them, either.
But first, Raymond knew, he could not simply walk blindly into such an alliance, much like his team had needed first to figure this Cairo out a bit more before adding their resources to their mission. A place worth starting to do such homework, then, would be in the records of their little research institute.
As he walked along, Raymond soon passed by a frankly adorable-looking building, a sign out front of the place reading in bubbly letters: ‘CaraMel’s Confection & Bakery’
To that end, then, he thought, oh, tempting… Maybe I’ll stop by on the way back from the library, bring donuts or weird candies or something back to the gang. I have to imagine they’re delicious… Peering through the window, he saw the place absolutely bustling, loaded with the kind of crowd that speaks to waiting nearly an hour in line, and more going in. Urgh, and maybe there’ll be less of a line by then.
After thinking that to himself, then, Raymond continued onwards, still making sure to eye every little oddity and incongruity of the area he could. Peaceful as the college town largely seemed, strange phenomena that could only amount to Stand usage also felt especially concentrated, even compared to the rest of this city.
I’ve heard rumors of all number of notorious members of the Stand underworld in the region, and I’m sure I’m not the only one out here seeking this library out… or the one with the worst of intentions for it.
Midnight Sun Parapsychological Institute Research Library - 1F Lobby
Much to Raymond’s surprise, the place seemed… A pretty ordinary research library, all things considered. He hadn’t gotten terribly far in yet, of course, but then again, he didn’t really know what he was expecting.
A receptionist with braided dark-red hair, round, spiraling glasses, and a blue vest over a short-sleeved black button-up sat at the front desk, guarding his way from a pair of doors behind him. Off to one side, gated from entry, sat a stairwell, visibly enticing, yet with a sign before it very overtly communicating: NO PUBLIC ENTRANCE.
Ah, well, he could at least get an idea by looking around what sort of face they were willing to show anyone who entered.
“Erm… S-sir?” The young woman at the entrance asked, seeming intimidated by his tall form. “Did you need to find something in particular? I’m, uh, I mean we… We’re not, uh.” She blinked. “What did you want again?”
The sight practically made Ray roll his eyes, but he was able to let through a straightforward, “I didn’t say, actually…” Crap, he hadn’t thought this far, either. Of course a place like this would want to know why people were looking into it. Still, though, Ray was nothing if not smooth and even-faced, and in the span of the time between that ‘actually’ and opening his mouth again, he had thought convincingly of what wasn’t a lie, but didn’t actually say much of anything either. “I want to look into some cases this Institute has worked for this city. This is a pretty big place, and I know it’s a storied institution, so I thought I should get acquainted with some of them.”
“R-right! Of course! So nothing in particular? Okay, cool..! I’m, uh… P-please, don’t hesitate at all if you need me…” The young woman pressed a button by her desk, and the doors clicked, unlocking from this side. As Ray began towards it, though, he was interrupted. “Oh, and one more thing!”
He could practically see the ‘menacings’ emanating off of her, those adorable glasses practically shining as she spoke more clearly now. “There are two types of research library… Ones which only allow ‘reference,’ and ones which allow ‘lending’ to guests. We’re not a lending library, so don’t let us catch you taking anything out of here… Do you understand me, sir?”
“…crystal clear.” This girl is a Stand User… For a moment, I almost let it slip my mind where I am.
“Great!” She said, back to her somewhat nervous, bubbly demeanor. “Oh, and, uh… Don’t make too much noise either, ‘kay? I won’t be able to tell, because these walls are soundproofed, but we can’t be held accountable for what happens if you get other library patrons angry..!”
There, she sounded more honest, even a touch exasperated to Raymond, as if exactly that had happened too many times to count, and she was resigned to it happening again. “I understand.”
Curious as he stepped in, Raymond tested the door… Seemed it did, at least, open from the inside, so no fire hazard or Stand trap there even if it was locked externally. The library interior was hardly bustling, per se, but there were, regardless, a few faces about, all of whom struck Raymond as people it might or might not be a worthwhile idea to fuck with, including but not limited to a tall, balding, androgynous figure with an eyepatch over their forehead, a very average-looking young woman in a purple beret, a red-clad teenager in an aviator hat with a feather plume, round glasses, and long facial features, a tall twentysomething in too many coats with hair like a palm tree, a balding, dark-haired, bespectacled, bearded figure in a stupid black cap and loosely-worn red tie with simultaneously an utterly unhinged and utterly vacant look in his eye, and a blond, stubbly-haired twenty-something six-foot-something in sunglasses and a vest with shoulder sections that wriggled down his arms.
Raymond thought little of the colorful characters around as he went to start picking out some reference material to sit at a desk with, but as he did, he happened to glance across the aisle, seeing there someone who he definitely knew was probably trouble: a short-haired, taller-than-him, androgynous blond with chin-length, face-covering bangs, which had an almost plastic sheen to them. They wore a form-fitting crop-top, shoulder-length cloak, jorts, leggings, and an armful of plastic bands.
No way… I’ve heard of this person before! The foundation says that Cy Syntheta is a ruthless sellsword who’ll work any job. What could a person like that want in a place like this? Who are you doing research for? I smell trouble here… I’m going to need to apprehend them, dead or alive, before someone gets seriously hurt. I must say, as a swordsman myself, though, I’m almost excited… Almost.
Cy Syntheta, minutes ago, had received a similar spiel for a similar non-explanation of their intentions, though theirs even vaguer, given the fact that the assassin was entering fully prepared to find information which led them to view the Institute as some sort of enemy. Their hunt for information about the hotel they occupied had led to a fascinatingly thorough history of its paranormal and criminal oddities, but nothing which referenced any of them.
Nothing written about Heartache Casino where you’d expect, except a very brief mention of an assault from an ancient king when they tried to display some kind of ancient slab in the early 2010s… Nothing about us, either, when we know they definitely have something on us. Ugh. Is that on the more confidential floors..? Maybe I do need to start figuring out how to break in… And then, a moment later, their head perked up with a realization. There’s eyes on me… Someone is watching me right now, and close.
Their head, then, darted across the aisles, and directly across from them stood a tall, broad-looking figure glancing their way with a clear, sneering suspicion. Everything about this guy screamed ‘fed,’ or at least something adjacent.
Looks like my reputation has caught up to me again… Well, that’s just great. I’m gonna need to take this guy out then… How annoying. Hopefully, all these other guys stay out of it so I can get back to what I was doing.
OPEN THE-
Shhh!
Open the game…
Location: A public floor of the Midnight Sun Parapsychological Research Institute Library. The area here is 32 by 32 meters with each tile being 2 by 2 meters. Players are represented by their tokens with Raymond on the center left and Cy on the center right.
The purple rectangles are bookshelves that are each around 2 meters tall. The brown rectangles are desks complete with chairs and lighting. The green circle is the help and resources desk. The plus signs are computer desks and the cone shapes on the bottom sides of the map are printers.
Goal: RETIRE your opponent!
Additional Information: They’re minding their own business, but the Institute Library is sparsely populated with a number of Stand Users among the general civilians. If you make too much noise or actively try to involve them in your fight, they’ll kick your ass, and you will be RETIRED. If you try to trick them into thinking your opponent is antagonizing them by using your own abilities to somehow try to make them look bad, they’ll kick your ass, and you will be RETIRED.
On the other hand, though, as long as you’re not actively aiming for them, even the non-stand users in this area are pretty savvy people to be actively researching here in the middle of a fight; chumps, cowards, and charlatans will have already fled before they’re in any danger, leaving only people who know the score. They can generally reliably avoid being hurt, and as long as you aren’t too loud, will not under any circumstances besides aforementioned loss conditions use their various Stands to kick your ass.
Team Combatant JoJolity
Baker Street Rat Pack Cy Syntheta “My name is ‘Kira Yoshikage.’ I can’t remember when or how I died… but one thing I can say is I feel certain I will not go to Heaven.” This parapsychological research library has some truly morbid, fascinating stories from which to draw inspiration. Take creative inspiration from paranormal knowledge in the basis and techniques of your strategy!
Sharp Lookers Raymond “Ray” Delwyn Shimizu “I saw a book, seemingly unpopular, titled ‘The Elephant Who Lost His Nose.’ I thought to myself… Now why in the world would he lose his nose?” You’ve found your way to an absolutely fascinating source of unusual parapsychological knowledge, and as an agent of SKADE and of the Foundation alike, you aren’t going to take this opportunity for granted. Take creative inspiration from paranormal knowledge in the basis and techniques of your strategy!
Link to the Official Player Spreadsheet
Link to Match Schedule
As always, if you would like to interact with the tournament community and be among the first to get updates for the tournament, please feel free to PM a member of our Judge staff for an invite to our Official Discord Server!
submitted by Dungeon_Dice to StardustCrusaders [link] [comments]

City In Black chapter 3: Old Flame

City In Black chapter 3: Old Flame
https://preview.redd.it/45esqgm958m51.jpg?width=1472&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=236dff49ac0543be19d931a5ca08f4777c542599
I needed to step out for a while. Most of what happened after the match was a blur. Medical staff left me alone after they found out I only had minor wounds and instead focused on the more grievously injured. I doubted there were many survivors. I really hoped Hank was okay. I had no idea how that man could fight through those injuries. After I got out of the arena, I was hounded by rabid fans riding the high of the carnage. They still cheered me on even after the event, which had forced me to seek isolation outside along the shaded side of the warehouse. I needed time to think. I leaned back and gazed at the bustle of The Second’s Reverse Floor far above. At all of the lights flickering and drifting about. I could see the elevator I took down from here.
Tonight was filled with too many emotions. Both good and bad. The rush of authentic combat was something I haven't experienced in a long time, and never at the stakes I’d just endured. I knew being a Freelancer was dangerous, that’s why my parents spent a fortune on my augs in the first place, but I wondered if every job I’d end up doing would be this dangerous. Christ, this wasn’t even part of my current job, this was just me trying to find a setup! I was beginning to wonder if I was competent enough to be a Freelancer. The convoy heist was tomorrow. I spent all this time and I didn’t have any preparations done. Hell, I came here to find a Valkyrie and I might’ve ended up killing her or permanently damaging her in the process. She was my only lead. I might’ve really fucked this up.
I couldn’t afford to doubt myself though. Not after the money my parents sunk into me. Not after the eight years of arduous training I sunk into myself. Not after I sacrificed almost everything I held dear in life, including my body, so I could pursue this dream. I wanted this so bad, and I finally got it. This is where I wanted to be, so the only way I’d give up is if I went irreparably broke or died.
And with how much tiff I made in that match alone, I doubted it would be because of the former. With how things have been going tonight, however, the latter was seeming increasingly likely.
It felt amazing to be back in the ring again. The nostalgia was overbearing and I had to admit that the raving fans were an ego booster, even if I wasn’t in the mood to interact with them. Everything has felt so liquid and unsure since I stopped fighting here years ago. I was happier back then, it was all so clear. Win the next fight and be with my friends. Now for almost a decade I’ve been pursuing something I wasn’t sure would even work out. God I hoped things would fall into place.
The thrill from this return wasn’t worth it. I wish I could’ve left this part of my life in the past. Seeing what it was now, seeing who someone I once called family has turned into was like a perversion of my memories. It turned what was once bittersweet into heartbreak. I’m pretty sure Uncle G hates me, and now I hate him back. He wouldn’t put me through what he did if he still cared about me.
I let out a frustrated growl and looked down. I could see the drying blood still coating my foot and I remembered the man whose life I took. It was so violent and excessive and unnecessary yet it’s something I did. Something I did confidently. The scariest thing was how little it was bothering me. I’d anticipated having to do this one day. Freelancers are paid killers, and he was only the first of many if this played out right. Still, I thought it’d be harder to cope with. Maybe I was just a sociopathic bitch.
“Nala!” My name drew my attention to the corner I was hiding around. Aubrey peeked over, making sure I was here. Her tired face lit up upon seeing me. “Ah! I saw you hide over here, but I thought you needed some space.” Her face softened. “You seemed really off after the fight. Do you need more time to yourself?”
“Nah,” I shook my head. My thoughts weren’t good and I knew being alone wasn’t the best for me right now. “Some company sounds nice actually,” I told her, shifting my gaze back towards the sky.
“Ah,” she began, sliding up next to me and leaning against the wall too. I could feel her eyes on me. “What happened? I thought you didn’t want to fight?”
“I didn’t,” I confessed with a growl. “But I came here for the Valkyrie, and Big G was only gonna let me see her if I fought. I didn’t expect things to go the way they did though.”
“I was worried something like this would happen,” Aubrey admitted sympathetically. “G has been through a lot since you left. You’re not the only one who…” she stopped herself for a second but still continued. “Everything has worn on him. Nala, he’s not a good man anymore.”
“Yeah, I picked up on that,” I sneered before turning my head back to her. “You hear anything about how the Valkyrie and Hank are doing?”
Surprisingly, Aubrey snickered. “Oh I’m sure Hank’s fine. He’s been through much worse and recovered.” I raised a brow. The man was stabbed in the head and impaled. How much worse can you get? Then I remembered the cyborgs that got popped by the Valkyrie. I guess that’s worse. You can’t recover from that.
“As for the Valkyrie, I’m not sure. How hard did you hit her?”
“Hard,” I grimaced. The magical harpy didn’t give me much choice. “But that first uppercut she took would’ve ruined somebody unaugmented and she still got up from it. Either she has some dermal implants or Valkyries are naturally tougher, but I’m no expert. I’m hoping she pulls through.”
“Why’re you after her anyway? Is it a contract?”
I laughed. “Nah, actually. Can you believe it’s not? I heard she’s after the same target I am, and I need help.”
“So you’re going to ask the person you just kicked the shit out of for help?” she cringed.
“That’s the plan.”
“I hope there’s a plan B.”
***
The two of us went back inside to pull up a pair of stools at one of the food stalls and catch up some more. Well more Aubrey gushing about my fight. And I didn’t eat. My mind was too conflicted and filled with gory images. Hell, and despite a trip to the bathroom to try to clean up, I know I had some giblets stuck to me somewhere. Food was the last thing I wanted. I could sure use a drink though. And a long shower. But I’d have to wait awhile for that second one.
In the midst of our conversation, somebody tapped my shoulder and a soft voice caught my attention.
“Excuse me, ma’am?” Ma’am? I wasn’t nearly old enough for that shit. I turned, stunned to see the forest green hair and tattoos of the Valkyrie. She seemed off compared to when I’d seen her in the pit. Her hair was no longer flowing and her brown eyes were soft and gentle. Her tattoo like runes were a dull white instead of shining. She still wore the tank from the match, but had on a transparent jacket over it. About every second, a wave of bright color would wash over the piece of clothing, cycling through a selection of hues. Instead of normal leggings, now she wore a set of tight leather pants with combat boots. She also applied black lipstick and eyeliner. A bandage was wrapped around the top of her head, a little red seeping through. I couldn’t believe she was alright let alone up and moving already. What struck me most about her appearance, however, wasn’t the makeover or the fact that she wasn’t glowing. It was that she looked so meek. I noticed she was smaller than me in the fight, but now she just looked so… fragile.
“You’re up,” I forced out through my astonishment.
“Yeah, I heal very quickly,” she stated matter of factly in her quiet tone. “May I take a seat with you?”
“Sure?” I gestured to the empty stool to my left. She smiled politely and hopped onto the seat before getting the vendor’s attention to order. I gave Aubrey a glance and she just shot back a shrug, looking just as lost as I was.
Focusing back onto the Valkyrie, I noticed a small black battery on her back with a bunch of warnings of voltage and acid around the device. It was embedded in the jacket and was what the colored light spread from.
“I like your style,” I tried to break the ice once she finished ordering.
“Thanks! You look really nice yourself,” she returned with a sincere smile. “I love the hair.”
I was blown away. Not only that she was up and walking, but she was not at all what I expected. I must’ve sounded awkward as hell to her as I struggled to really take hold of the situation.
“I’m sorry,” I explained. “I’m just-”
“Surprised to see me kicking?” she interjected. “Yeah, I’m lucky. Even with my healing factor you really gave my noggin a good whollup,” she ended with a giggle. “That’s part of why I’m here, actually. I could tell you were holding back. I wanted to thank you for going easy on me even though I was trying really hard to kill you.” That last part really didn’t sound right in her tiny voice. “It’s not everyday I find somebody who can beat me, but you saw right through my limitations. I need to be more careful for people like you.”
“I wouldn’t say I went easy on you,” I confessed. “It was a struggle to stay ahead of you. But still I wasn’t trying to kill you. You’re…” I trailed off, picking my words carefully.
“I get it,” she assured with a wave of her hand. “I’m a rarity. Half the people in Titan think I’m a precious gem that should be protected. The other half wants to kill me simply for the status of being able to kill a Valkyrie.” She spoke so casually, like that wasn’t a huge deal.
“I meant I didn’t spare you for totally selfless reasons, if I’m being honest,” I explained. “Not that I wanted to kill you in the first place. I was coerced into that fight, and didn’t know what I was getting into.” I shook my head and continued. “Anyway, I need your help.”
“Oh?” she tilted her head in curiosity. “With what?”
“There’s a Daitech convoy moving through the lower floors sometime tomorrow hauling important cargo. A prisoner. I heard you were after it.”
“Oh...” she looked like she was thinking for a second. “Hm, if it was anyone else, I’d tell them I don’t know what they’re talking about. But after seeing you in action, bringing you along might not be a bad idea.” It sounded more like she was thinking out loud to herself. “I’ve been wanting to find more people to hit it with anyways, but I’ve been hesitant to ask anyone.”
“Social anxiety?” Aubrey offered jokingly.
“No,” she turned back to us. “I’m not sure who wants to murder me or not. Like I said, it seems like half the people out here want to end me.”
“Sheesh,” Aubrey cringed. “I know The Second isn’t the safest place, but I don’t think it’s that bad.”
“Not for you maybe,” she sighed. The vendor returned with the Valkyrie’s drink and she took a sip. I noticed his eyes lingering on her with a nervous expression. “It’s quite tiring. Strawberry Thunder had the perfect chance to kill me, however, and didn’t take it. I suppose I can trust you. And you seem quite skilled. I’m sure you’d be useful in pulling this off.”
“Please, call me Plan B if you’re going to call me anything,” I directed. “Strawberry Thunder is an old name I’d prefer to leave behind me. Plan B is my Freelancer alias.”
“Of course. You’re a Freelancer,” the Valkyrie chuckled and shook her head. “I’ve thought about getting into the profession. Call me Syra,” she introduced with a nod. Oh yeah, I remembered Big G calling her that in the match.
“Why’d you go with Plan B as an alias?” I heard Aubrey query.
“Freelancers usually work in teams,” I told her the spiel I’d heard over and over during training. “Whether temporary or permanent. Tackling a contract alone is often suicide. You have to find someone to cover your weaknesses. Most ops are done with stealth and subtlety, but I’ve never been so good at that. I’m good at rushing in and doing damage, so when stealth goes out the window, I’m Plan B.”
“So I can assume information gathering isn’t within your skill set?” Syra teased.
“That’s why I’m here,” I told her. “I heard you might have some information on the target. The fact that you can blow shit up with your mind is just a bonus.”
“You’re in luck, I know some, yes,” Syra established. “What do you know?”
“Only that it’s a Daitech convoy going through The Third tomorrow. I don’t know exactly where or when it’s supposed to be moving or anything else for that matter.”
“Well some new things I can tell you is that the convoy begins its journey at 17:00 starting from the Lyndon Rail Yard and is scheduled to arrive at the Lenore Raven Sky Port at 18:20. I’ve already scouted all possible routes and the only one fast enough to line up with that time frame has two points of interest that we could use. A small overpass over the highway, or the construction site of a casino along the side of the highway.
“The overpass I feel is more risky because of the lack of cover and obvious point of attack, but the casino has its own slew of issues to bypass. The most pressing one being the crew stationed there. I doubt they’d let two civilians just stroll onto their site with intentions of starting a firefight with a Corp.”
I blinked, trying to take that all in. “Wow you really did your homework.”
“It pays to be prepared,” she held her head up proudly and smiled before that pride turned into embarrassment. “Although I have no information on the vehicles or numbers we’re dealing with. And I feel we’d be going in woefully under gunned.”
“Maybe I can help out with that last bit,” I offered. I’d already pulled one burned bridge out of the ashes, albeit in a much worse state than when it was left in the fire. What was the harm in dredging another one from its wreckage?
“Aubrey.” The stocky woman looked at me, gulping down some noodles from her bowl. “Where can I find the Street Breed these days?”
***
The old factory was massive, and very much still functional. I stood across the barren street of the multistory, rectangular structure. Large pyres of smoke shot out from stacks of obelisks lining the roof above. The building was lined with windows emitting dull light and, in the silence of the night, you could hear the hum of multiple air conditioning units that were latched onto the place. The Breed must be doing very well for themselves if this was their base of operations.
I felt bad leaving Aubrey again. Only because I felt like she thought I was never going to return to the Underdown now that my business there was finished. It wasn’t finished. I wasn’t going to let Big G get off scot free. I was going to watch that place burn. It was no place of happiness to me anymore. I’d be back soon.
For now though, Syra had followed my bike in an unassuming grey sedan. Something she said she stole from someone on The First to keep a low profile. She promised they deserved it. The car contrasted greatly from my vibrant, bulky motorcycle and considering what she was, that was for the best. If news of her existence wasn’t well known before, her appearance at a fighting arena would cause Titan to explode with rumors. Blending in was the best idea.
The Valkyrie stood beside me, gazing at the factory as well. Her jacket changed its sheen from its previous see through form to a solid, glossy black, making it look like vinyl. She wore a pair of leather gloves to cover what little runes ran along her hands and zipped up, popping her collar to try to hide the markings on her neck and chest. I suggested she get a scarf to mask herself further. She took it into consideration but we didn’t have time to shop for accessories. Well, at least, not those kinds.
“The people here are trustworthy?” Syra asked, uncertainty in her gentle voice.
“I’m not sure after seeing Big G again,” I admitted. “But we need guns and gear, and these are the only contacts I know that can provide us with both.” I stepped forward waving for her to follow. We reached a reinforced door along the side of the place and I gave it a hardy knock. The metal on metal echoed loudly through the emptiness of the outside.
“Are you certain somebody will be here this late?” Syra’s eyes flicked around.
“They wouldn’t leave their assets unguarded. They’ll have somebody here at night.”
Right on cue, a small slit in the door about eye height slid open to reveal a blue, skeptical gaze from the other side.
“What do you want?” An unfamiliar voice interrogated curtly.
“We’re here to see Pup,” I informed him and the eyes grew more narrow.
“You groupies or something?” He didn’t wait for us to answer. “He ain’t here, he’s at home sleepin.”
“We aren’t groupies,” I growled, annoyed. “I’m an old friend of his. I need to speak with him. It’s important.” The man on the other side sized me up, still unsure.
“Old friend, huh? Give me a sec.” The slit closed and once again we were bathed in silence.
After only a moment the slit reopened and this time the blue eyes were replaced with what looked like two grey plates. There was a gasp from the other side of the door and the slit closed once more before the door swung open.
On the other side was an older man, looking dazed. He wore a leather jacket that covered most of his upper body, but his lower half had grey cargo shorts that showed off primitive, heavy set prosthetic legs that released steam around his joints. His head was adorned with spiky grey hair that extended into a pointy beard. A black bandanna with a circuit design wrapped around his forehead and his eyes were covered with a pair of metal plates. They somehow exaggerated his astounded expression.
“Nala?” He croaked out finally.
“Hey, Rot,” I returned with an awkward smile. “I’m back.”
My world was engulfed in the second hug of the night. A warm embrace that I couldn't help but return. I couldn’t have found someone better right off the bat. Rot was the biggest sweetheart back in the day. A little vulgar and cocky, but at the same time courteous and kind. He was one of mine and Pup’s biggest supporters when we got involved and probably one of the main reasons I was able to get so close to the MC.
After a good few seconds, Rot finally pulled away laughing in embarrassment.
“Sorry,” he apologized, “I just wasn’t expecting you to… well still be alive!”
“Well I’m here,” I announced, still feeling weird. I didn’t think I’d see him again.
“Come in! Come in!” the old biker stepped further in and waved for us to follow. We obliged. “Either of you want a beer?” he called out to me and Syra as he noticed her. He walked around the corner, ducking into another room. “Man I thought this would be a boring shift…” I could hear him murmur to himself as he went.
“Yeah!” I shouted after him.
“None for me, thank you,” Syra told him nervously at the same time I spoke.
To our side sat a young man in similar biker clothes, with short black hair and a septum ring. He eyed us suspiciously without a word. I did my best to ignore him for the small moment we had to deal with his stare, but I saw Syra sneer back at him, challenging him. The man didn’t seem to care.
Rot came back with two cans of Sierra Sunrise. My favorite brand! I couldn’t believe he remembered! He handed both of us a can, Syra looking almost offended. I eagerly opened mine up and took a sip while Syra looked at hers like it was a wounded puppy.
“So I bet you’re wanting to talk to Pup, eh?” Rot asked with a smile. “The boss’ll be thrilled to see you!” I felt a pit grow in my stomach and I took a deep gulp of my drink. I wasn’t so sure. Rot had always been an optimist, but I doubted Pup wouldn’t feel any resentment towards me after I ditched everyone. I know it must’ve hurt him more than anyone else. That was my biggest regret about what I did.
“Yeah, I bet,” I beamed back at him, masking my worry as best as I could.
“Yo, Rot, who’re these bimbos?” the young dude to our side snarled. Rot’s expression did a 180 and slowly adjusted his gaze to the guy with the attitude.
“I get why you’re distrustful, prospect, but this is the boss’s ex old lady, and a good friend of the club. So show some fucking respect.”
“If she’s Pup’s ex then I don’t see why she’s important enough to let her inside when we’re on alert,” the prospect shot back without skipping a beat.
“Hey, Nala’s done more for the Street Breed than you can fuckin imagine! She was practically one of us at one point!”
“Then where’s she been while we’ve been dealing with the Corps and The Pack?” It didn’t hit me until now just how tired they both looked. It helped explain why the prospect was so irritated. Rot’s cheerful attitude hid most of his exhaustion, but he didn’t carry himself the way he had before. He always had a pep to his step, but now he moved sluggishly and had a slight hunch. Of course, that could’ve just been him getting older, but I think there’s more to it.
“That’s a good question actually,” Rot turned back to me. “Though it could do with a little less sass. Where have you been? Does it have to do with that new steel you’re packin? Don’t think I didn’t notice that.”
“I’ve been training,” I told him honestly. “I’m a Freelancer now.”
“You let a Freelancer in here!?” The prospect rose, fury in his eyes. “I don’t care what kind of connection to us she had before, who knows who she could be working for!!”
“Gecko, calm down!” Rot snapped back. “You really don’t understand what’s happening here.”
“I understand you’re too trusting, old man!” And with the flip of a switch, the prospect, Gecko’s face went white. “Oh shit.”
Rot, to his credit, remained neutral towards the younger man’s outburst. Yet as he stepped closer to Gecko, the prospect trembled.
“Look, Rot, I’m just wor-” he was cut off by Rot’s fist barreling into his face. The one swift punch was all that was needed to knock the prospect back in his chair, out like a light.
Rot shook his hand and flexed his fingers like he wasn’t expecting himself to hit Gecko that hard.
“Sorry about that,” Rot apologized. “Normally I wouldn’t resort to something like that so quickly, but it’s been a long few days and I really didn’t feel like dealing with his shit.”
“I’m not going to complain about talking without him,” Syra assured, still staring the unconscious man down.
“Yeah he seemed like an asshole,” I added.
“He’s just on edge,” Rot defended the prospect. “Like I said, it’s been a long few days. Anyway, you’re a Freelancer now! Wow! Given our trade, I’m guessing you’re here on business then?”
“Yeah,” I admitted, still feeling that pit in my stomach. “But I do want to see how Pup is doing.”
“I bet you do,” Rot chuckled. “He’s at home getting some rest, but I don’t think he’ll be upset at me for waking him when he finds out you’re here.” He pulled out a phone before adding. “Then we can talk business.”
***
Time went by agonizingly slow since Rot made the call to Pup. The old biker didn’t mention why Pup needed to rush over here, but he’d made it clear that it was good news. The three of us sat in a lounge area, Rot standing behind a bar and me sitting on a stool. Syra sat a little ways away tucking herself into the corner of a couch, shifting uncomfortably. She seemed paranoid.
Meanwhile, I was filled with dread. The closer it got to me seeing Pup again, the more scared I got. I loved Pup once. I might still, but I don’t know the person he was now. I used to be closer to him than anyone else I’ve ever known. And then I left. I left when he needed me the most. After Zephos arrested half the Street Breed and his dad, who was the leader of the club, Bison, got a life sentence. Pup had to take the reins and lead the struggling club at only twenty three, and I vanished without a word.
God, he’ll be furious at me. Will he hate me? Does he even want to see me again? I wish Rot told him about me over the phone so I could hear it from Rot instead of seeing it on Pup’s face when he gets here. What would he even think about my new body? Would he be disgusted? I tried to drown my thoughts out in whiskey and conversation with Rot, but it wasn’t working.
“So who’s your friend?” Rot asked in a friendly tone, gesturing toward the Valkyrie.
“That’s Syra,” I told him. “She’s not a Freelancer, but she’s skilled and helping me with my current contract.”
“Like hired help or something?”
“Not really.” That never occurred to me until now. “Hey, Syra?” I grabbed her attention. “Why are you after the convoy anyway?”
“Oh,” she began. “I need to talk to the prisoner.”
“That’s… vague. You’re not gonna kill them are you?” She gave me an earnest laugh, letting her loosen up for just a second.
“No, no. I assure you I won’t harm them. They were subdued while investigating Daitech and I believe they found out information I want.”
“Well okay then, as long as I can safely deliver them after.” I turned back to Rot who’s expression had turned dire.
“Daitech, huh?” His tone was more serious than I ever heard before. “So this involves them,”
“Uh, yeah. Is that a problem?”
“Considering they’re breathing down our necks right now, it seems pretty fuckin suspicious that a Freelancer shows up talking about knocking over a convoy of theirs.” Oh no, not this shit again.
“Oh my god, please, Rot,” I groaned, really not wanting to go down this road for a second time tonight. “Big G already mistook me for Corp and tried to kill me. I’m really not in the mood.”
“You’ve been to the Underdown? Why did he think you were Corp?” Rot interrogated accusingly. Oh shit, I fucked up.
“Because,” I sighed in resignation and waved to Syra, who looked up nervously. “I was looking for her.”
“Why’d he think the Corp wanted her?”
The Valkyrie and I locked eyes. She looked doubtful, but I gave her a nod. I could tell she still didn’t like it, but she reached back for the small battery on her back and clicked a button. The black, glossy material faded into its transparent form.
I could see Rot’s brow raise when he caught sight of her runes, astounded.
“Is she legit or are those only tattoos?”
Without the need to coax her, Syra’s eyes began to glow like they did when I was in the pit with her. Her runes illuminated in a color matching her glare while her green hair flowed and sparked with energy.
“H-holy shit…” Rot stammered. Once she decided the biker had his fill, Syra’s light simmered and her hair settled. She reached back to turn her jacket to its dark sheen once more.
“You realize,” Rot struggled, still clearly taken aback, “Almost all of the Valkyries are under Corporate control.”
“I’m not,” Syra took her turn to argue. “I went to Big G to earn some cash for supplies in this heist. Cage fighting sounded like easy money with my abilities. He promised me a fair sum if I just appeared in a surprise match to boost the Underdown’s reputation. He didn’t want me to stick around after that since he knew the Corp would come looking for me.” Her eyes were no longer anxious. Instead her anxiety was replaced with determination. “I can promise you, sir, I don’t serve anyone but myself, and my goals will harm no one but the Corps themselves.”
The look in her eyes would’ve been enough for me. There was something about the Valkyrie that struck me. Looking at her now almost made me think we were back at the Underdown, slugging it out again. I could tell Rot was still reluctant, however, but he relented.
“Fine,” he concluded. “I really want to believe you. So I’ll believe you. I hope I’m not killing this club by doing this.”
“Rot,” I promised, taking his organic hand in my cold, steel one. “I swear this’ll be fine.”
***
The next few minutes were spent with small talk. The cheerful energy Rot displayed before we mentioned Daitech was gone though. And it only further served the growing worry inside me. Each second that ticked by brought me closer and closer to Pup.
Then the door opened.
“Rot, why is Gecko pa-” his eyes met mine and I could see those beautiful blue orbs light up. He looked so different. So much older. His short, black hair was messy and faded. I could see wiring and neural implants that weren’t there before. He had the new addition of gauges and wiring going down his shallow cheek down from his eye to his chin, telling me he had some sort of optical augment. He had a short, unkempt beard that I’m pretty sure he had because he didn’t find the time to shave. And much like Rot and Gecko, he looked so tired. Dark creases rested below his eyes, and his eyes themselves were those of somebody that had seen too much. Yet he still held himself tall and confidently.
I noticed he wore a messy flannel underneath the same jacket he had years ago. A jacket that had gotten many new additions much like the man who wore it. It was reinforced with armor. I could see the shapes of the plates beneath the old leather. More plates lined the arms and wiring ran down beneath the armpit and up to a small flashlight mounted on his shoulder. My gaze traveled down, seeing worn jeans and black combat boots with a long holster on his side. The wood grip of an old lever action rested within.
He looked ready for action. I wondered if it was because of Daitech or if he was always this armed and armored now.
I don’t know how long we just stared at each other like that, it felt like eons, but in reality it was probably just for a second. Eventually, Pup broke the silence, his wide eyes settling into a more neutral, tired look.
“Nala?” his voice was more gravelly than I remembered. “If I knew you showed up I would’ve cleaned myself up a little.”
Jokes were a good sign right? I could feel my heart pounding.
“Yeah, you look like shit,” I replied with a playful laugh. Fuck! The first thing I tell him after all this time is that he looks awful! But he gave me a small smile. It faded back to an indifferent stare.
“So, what do you want?” His voice was monotone and uncaring. I felt that anxiety creeping through me, causing me to stammer.
“I-I’m a Freelancer,” I told him in a shaky voice, taken aback by his tone.
“We need guns and armor,” Syra interjected for me, looking at me mildly confused. She didn’t understand my situation.
“They’re tipping a Daitech convoy tomorrow,” Rot added. “And don’t worry, I’ve talked to them already, they’re clean.”
“Yeah, what they said,” I finished, embarrassed. Pup stared at no one in particular for a moment, thinking.
“I’m gonna guess you need some higher level gear then,” Pup pondered, pulling a pack of cigarettes from his jacket pocket along with a lighter and lighting one up. When’d he start smoking? “How much money do you two got?”
“Between the two of us,” Syra answered, “we have a fair bit of tiff.”
“Well you’re in luck then,” Pup took a huff of his stick and blew out a puff of smoke. “We got our hands on a fresh shipment of valuable Daitech loot.” He seemed so business. I noticed he didn’t put his eyes on me since the initial shock of seeing me.
“If you’ll follow me,” he began walking towards another door, gesturing for us to come with him. Syra and I both rose, but Rot stayed behind at the bar, looking sympathetic.
We stepped through the door and into a much wider area. Conveyors and machines of all kinds surrounded us, all of which were currently on, filling the air with sounds of manufacturing. Catwalks were sprawled out above, all barren and connecting to various rooms on a second floor. I would’ve been more curious about it all if my mind wasn’t so caught up on Pup. I could see the man in front of me dropping embers from his cig, using the concrete below our feet as an ashtray.
From behind, I could see the patches on his back. The sharp stylization of Street Breed labeling the jacket along with the MC’s logo of the side profile of a brown wolf head snarling and an automatic rifle crossing behind it. I couldn’t help but give a little smirk seeing he was still shorter than me. It wasn’t very surprising, not many people were taller than me, but I found it amusing. He was larger than Syra, at least.
We stepped into an office that’d been converted to an armory. Pup unlocked the door and I could see the walls were lined with racks of guns of all shapes and sizes. Some were so large they looked like they were meant to be mounted on vehicles. Along the wall adjacent to the entrance hung a half dozen uniform outfits. They were all dull grey, heavy industrial looking coats padded out with thick steel armor. Matching pants hung beside each and even armored boots sat below every outfit. Gas masks were displayed above every one as well. A rifle that was partially dismantled laid across an old desk with various tools scattered about underneath a lit lamp.
“Shit,” Pup began, looking over the parts of the weapon. “Looks like Roo’s been playing with the goods.” It was clear he was thinking out loud and wasn’t directed to us. “Anyway, this is all our high end equipment courtesy of Daitech. If you’re planning on going stealthy, you might want to get a couple sets of these.”
He pointed towards the armored suits. “These are Daitech Covert Heavy Miner Combat Rigs. They’re meant for combat inside industrial and mining areas. Been seeing a lot of these being moved around for some reason. They’d still be very effective in the city, and would keep you masked. The armor covers most of your body, the masks themselves have tinted visors, and they have a setting to dull your colors so you don’t have to worry about your hair. They’re a thousand tiff per set. As for weapons, take a look around and see if something strikes you.”
He was so straightforward with his selling points, and still refused to look directly at me. With an internal sigh, I instead focused on the selection around me. I liked the .45 I kept on my hip, but no doubt this heist called for something with more kick. Convoy usually meant armored vehicles and lots of guards. I wanted something big, and thankfully size and power wasn’t a hindrance to me anymore. My augmented limbs, enhanced muscles, and reinforced bones meant I was several times stronger than any all organic human.
My eyes settled on a long, boxy rifle. It looked to be a long ranged weapon if the scope told me anything. The rounds it used must’ve been gigantic with its thick clip size and it sported a vertical hand grip for stability. It was also painted a soft, dark blue which I thought looked nice.
I hefted it off the wall and turned to Pup, who for the first time since he walked into the lounge, looked me in the eyes. “How much for this?”
“Ah, the Daitech .50 cal marksman rifle. Semi auto featuring an adjustable zoom scope, vertical grip, and laser sight. That’d run you about fifteen hundred.” I was really happy I got that extra spending cash from the Underdown. “You sure you want that?” Pup asked, still masking any emotions towards me. “Nobody here has the augs to properly use that thing. Think you can handle it?”
“Trust me, it won’t be a problem.”
***
I sat in the lounge with Pup. I told him I wanted to talk. Syra had already left with a newly purchased AR as well as her armor. She told me she had a safe place to hide out until tomorrow and we made plans to meet up at the east elevator to the Third at noon. Now I stood at the bar with my freshly bought rifle leaning against the counter beside me. A case filled with my armor and a dozen clips for my rifle, running me fifty tiff each rested to my other side. Big G more than paid for the gear for this heist. At least something good came out of the Underdown mess.
“So,” Pup began after pouring us both a shot of whiskey from the other side of the counter. “I don’t think this talk will go how you’d hoped.”
“That’s fine,” I told him, taking the shot and downing it. The burn helped me a little. “I wasn’t hoping for much anyway.” We both stood in silence for a little bit while we tried to articulate our feelings.
“This was a really bad time,” the biker started finally. “For you to show up I mean. Daitech has been on our asses, we’re all worn out and on edge. A Freelancer showing up on our doorstep doesn’t help. The others will likely be pissed once they find out, and it’ll just add to their stress when they find out it was you.”
“I’m sorry,” I gave him. “I didn’t know. I didn’t have anyone else to turn to with this kind of deal.” There was another bout of silence. “That’s not all I’m sorry for. I know I fucked you over and-”
“Save it,” Pup snapped back. I flinched at the response. I think he was harsher than he meant to be, because once he saw my reaction he softened and gave me an apologetic look. “You hurt me a lot. More than I could ever say.” He poured another shot and twirled it in his hand for a moment, searching for the right words. “It’s nice to see you’re okay after so long. I worried about you so much. But, Nala,” he looked into my bright green eyes, “I don’t love you anymore.” I knew that’d be the case, but it still stung to hear those words. I clenched my hand so hard the shot glass in my grasp cracked and I let my gaze drift down to it. “And, frankly, I don’t think you’d love who I am now. I don’t know what’s gone on with you in the past eight years and, honestly, I’m not sure I wanna know.”
“I…” I fished for words. I don’t know what I was expecting. Nothing good. But even knowing that, hearing what he was saying was no less difficult. It felt like all of my nervousness that’d been piled up since I got here exploded in a nauseating wave of depression. It was like my chest wanted to cave in on itself and I couldn’t think of what I wanted to say.
“Got nothing then?” Pup asked, disappointed. I drew a blank, all I could focus on was the emotions washing over me. “Alright,” the biker leader walked around the counter. “I’m going back to bed.”
As he reached the door, however, he turned around. I gave him a side glance as I propped up my forehead with my palm.
“Just because I don’t love you like I did, doesn’t mean I don’t still care about you.” He opened the door but didn’t leave yet. “I know somebody else that’ll want a stake in your op. I’ll give him a call and give you a little more backup. And once all this shit’s blown over…” He paused tentatively. “Come by again. Maybe we could start over as friends... Get some sleep, Nala.”
Then he left.
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