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[US Promotion] I would like to celebrate Thanksgiving by gifting you all books!
UPDATE: More books added by siffis and West1234567890 further down If are late coming across this post then do not worry you can still message me your email for a book. To celebrate my day off today and Thanksgiving tomorrow I would like to gift my audiobooks. In order to recieve a free audiobook gift just message me any title (below) along with your email address. If you have not recieved a gift before then you will get the audiobook for free. More details here and here. I am in the US market (but I hear from Canada and UK that it still works). Books crossed out are not available. TITLE - AUTHOR (Ordered by author)
21 Days of Meditation - Aaptiv
5K Training - Aaptiv
What Happens Next? Conversations from MARS - Adam Savage
You Ought to Know Adam Wade - Adam Wade
The Fall of Carthage: The Punic Wars 265-146BC - Adrian Goldsworthy
Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky
Andrea Vernon and the Corporation for UltraHuman Protection - Alexander C. Kane
The Ten Thousand Doors of January - Alix E. Harrow
The Story of Dr. Seuss: Theodore, Ted, Geisel Who? The Story of How Dr. Seuss Grew. - Amba Brown
You Have Arrived at Your Destination: Forward - Amor Towles
A Massacre in Mexico: The True Story Behind the Missing 43 Students - Anabel Hernandez , John Washington - translator
How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps - Andrew Rowe
Randomize: Forward - Andy Weir
Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook - Anthony Bourdain
Chaos Monkeys - Revised Edition: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley - Antonio Garcia Martinez
Goodnight Smartphone - Arianna Huffington
Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle , Stephen Fry - introductions
Viva Durant and the Secret of the Silver Buttons - Ashli St. Armant
The Home Front: Life in America During World War II - Dan Gediman , Martha C. Little
Cut and Run: A Light-Hearted Dark Comedy - Ben Acker , Ben Blacker
A Grown-Up Guide to Dinosaurs: An Audible Original - Ben Garrod
The Tao of Pooh - Benjamin Hoff
Finding Tess: A Mother’s Search for Answers in a Dopesick America - Beth Macy
Bill Bryson's Appliance of Science - Bill Bryson
The Lost Continent: Travels In Small Town America - Bill Bryson
Billy Kelly: This Is a Family Show! - Billy Kelly
The History of Ancient Egypt - Bob Brier]
Rage - Bob Woodward
Starsight - Brandon Sanderson
Skyward - Brandon Sanderson
Beezer - Brandon T. Snider
The Book on Rental Property Investing: How to Create Wealth and Passive Income Through Smart Buy & Hold Real Estate Investing - Brandon Turner
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are - Brené Brown
Algorithms to Live The Computer Science of Human Decisions - Brian Christian , Tom Griffiths
That Hideous Strength: Ransom Trilogy, Book 3 - C.S. Lewis
Perelandra: Ransom Trilogy, Book 2 - C.S. Lewis
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage - Carl Sagan
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark - Carl Sagan
Life Ever After - Carla Grauls
Everything is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity - Carlo Rovelli , Simon Carnell - translator , Erica Segre - translator
How to Build Meaningful Relationships Through Conversation - Carol Ann Lloyd]
El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America - Carrie Gibson
The Flying Flamingo Sisters - Carrie Seim
Press Pause: A Young Person's Guide to Managing Life's Challenges - Catherine Singer
Cesar Millan's Guide to Bringing Home a Shelter Dog - Cesar Millan
Cesar Millan's Guide to Audiobooks for Dogs - Cesar Millan
The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder - Charles Graeber
Second Skin: Audible Original Novella - Christian White
Eldest: The Inheritance Cycle, Book 2 - Christopher Paolini
The Space Race: An Audible Original - Colin Brake , Patrick Chapman , Richard Hollingham , Richard Kurti , Sue Nelson , Helen Quigley , Andrew Mark Sewell
Bluebird Memories: A Journey Through Lyrics & Life - Common , Awoye Timpo , NSangou Njikam
Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther - Craig Pittman
The Dead Drink First - Dale Maharidge
House of Teeth - Dan Jolley
Dan Rather: Stories of a Lifetime - Dan Rather
How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States - Daniel Immerwahr
The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition - Daniel N. Robinson]
My Lost Family: An Audible Original - Danny Ben-Moshe , Dasha Lisitsina
Body of Proof: An Audible Original - Darrell Brown , Sophie Ellis
Sum: Tales from the Afterlives - David Eagleman
Exploring Metaphysics - David K. Johnson]
Alone with the Stars - David R. Gillham
The Pragmatic Programmer: 20th Anniversary Edition, 2nd Edition: Your Journey to Mastery - David Thomas , Andrew Hunt
The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II - Denise Kiernan
Heaven's River: Bobiverse, Book 4 - Dennis E. Taylor
All These Worlds: Bobiverse, Book 3 - Dennis E. Taylor
For We Are Many: Bobiverse, Book 2 - Dennis E. Taylor
We Are Legion (We Are Bob): Bobiverse, Book 1 - Dennis E. Taylor
Metro 2033 - Dmitry Glukhovsky
The Theory of Everything: The Quest to Explain All Reality - Don Lincoln]
Mostly Harmless - Douglas Adams
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Book 2 - Douglas Adams
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish - Douglas Adams
Life, the Universe, and Everything: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Book 3 - Douglas Adams
The Case of the Damaged Detective: 5-Minute Sherlock, Book 1 - Drew Hayes
Forging Hephaestus: Villains' Code Series, Book 1 - Drew Hayes
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life - Ed Yong
Mythology - Edith Hamilton
Musashi - Eiji Yoshikawa , Charles S. Terry - translator
Hunting LeRoux: The Inside Story of the DEA Takedown of a Criminal Genius and His Empire - Elaine Shannon
The Science of Sci-Fi: From Warp Speed to Interstellar Travel - Erin Macdonald]
Junkyard Cats: Shining Smith, Book 1 - Faith Hunter
The Golden Orchard - Flora Ahn
The 3-Day Effect - Florence Williams
Catch Me If You Can - Frank W. Abagnale , Stan Redding
The Panama Papers: How the World's Rich and Powerful Hide Their Money - Frederik Obermaier , Bastian Obermayer
The American Civil War - Gary W. Gallagher]
Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond - Gene Kranz
The Creative Thinker's Toolkit - Gerard Puccio]
Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ - Giulia Enders
Burr: A Novel (Narratives of Empire, Book 1) - Gore Vidal
The Getaway - Greer Hendricks , Sarah Pekkanen
The Minuteman - Greg Donahue
Failure Is an Option: An Attempted Memoir - H. Jon Benjamin
The Beautiful Brain: An Audible Original - Hana Walker-Brown
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor: A Novel - Hank Green
Bella Bella - Harvey Fierstein
The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country - Helen Russell
The Iliad: A New Translation by Caroline Alexander - Homer , Caroline Alexander - translator
H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Omnibus Collection, Volume I: 1917-1926 - Howard Phillips Lovecraft , Finn J.D. John
Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga - Hunter S. Thompson
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S. Thompson
Casino Royale: James Bond, Book 1 - Ian Fleming
I, Robot - Isaac Asimov
Malcolm and Me - Ishmael Reed
Peter Pan: An Audible Original Drama - J. M. Barrie
Tell Me Lies - J. P. Pomare
The Return of the King: Book Three in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy - J. R. R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring: Book One in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - J. R. R. Tolkien
The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien
The Children of Hurin - J. R. R. Tolkien
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Book 2 - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Book 1 - J.K. Rowling
The Tales of Beedle the Bard - J.K. Rowling
The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over - Jack Schafer PhD , Ph.D. Marvin Karlins Ph.D.
Midnight Son - James Dommek Jr. , Josephine Holtzman , Isaac Kestenbaum
The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey - James Lecesne
Break Shot: My First 21 Years: James Taylor - James Taylor
Forget Nothing - Jason Anspach , Michelle C. Meyers
The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America's Enemies - Jason Fagone
Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn
1066: The Year That Changed Everything - Jennifer Paxton]
Flux - Jeremy Robinson
Space Force - Jeremy Robinson
Infinite - Jeremy Robinson
When You Finish Saving the World - Jesse Eisenberg
The Mystwick School of Musicraft - Jessica Khoury
Call Me God: The Untold Story of the DC Sniper Investigation - Jim Clemente , Tim Clemente , Peter McDonnell
The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack - Jim Dutcher , Jamie Dutcher , James Manfull - contributor , Marc Bekoff - foreword PhD
Escape from Virtual Island: An Audio Comedy - John Lutz
The Men Who Stare at Goats - Jon Ronson
So You've Been Publicly Shamed - Jon Ronson
Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie - Jon Ronson
438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea - Jonathan Franklin
Carmilla - Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
Stuff You Should Know: An Incomplete Compendium of Mostly Interesting Things - Josh Clark , Chuck Bryant
Vroom Vroom - Josh Koenigsberg
King of Sting: The Story of Australian Conman Peter Foster: An Audible Original - Justin Armsden , Bronwen Reid , Hamish Macdonald
American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer - Kai Bird , Martin J. Sherwin
You Can Thank Me Later: A Novella - Kelly Harms
The Vikings - Kenneth W. Harl]
Building a Better Vocabulary - Kevin Flanigan]
More Bedtime Stories for Cynics - Kirsten Kearse , Gretchen Enders , Aparna Nancherla , Cirocco Dunlap , Dave Hill
The Math of Life and Death - Kit Yates
Oz. The Complete Collection - L. Frank Baum
A Murder of Manatees: The Further Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent - Larry Correia
The Half-Life of Marie Curie - Lauren Gunderson
Interview with the Robot - Lee Bacon
The Messengers - Lindsay Joelle
African-American Athletes Who Made History - Louis Moore]
The Real Sherlock: An Audible Original - Lucinda Hawksley
The Devil's Highway: A True Story - Luis Alberto Urrea
It Burns: The Scandal-Plagued Race to Breed the World’s Hottest Chilli, An Audible Original - Marc Fennell
Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla: Biography of a Genius - Marc J. Seifer
The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition - Margaret Atwood , Valerie Martin - essay
Buried Deep - Margot Hunt
Black Hawk Down - Mark Bowden
How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It - Mark Cuban
Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
Tinaca Jones - Matt Boren
Phreaks - Matthew Derby
Pont Neuf - Max Byrd
Find Another Dream - Maysoon Zayid
One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War - Michael Dobbs
The Entrepreneur's Toolkit - Michael Goldsby]
The Fifth Risk - Michael Lewis
Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il - Michael Malice
Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World - Michael Pollan
I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer - Michelle McNamara
Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 - Michio Kaku
The New One: Painfully True Stories from a Reluctant Dad - Mike Birbiglia , J. Hope Stein
Even Tree Nymphs Get the Blues - Molly Harper
Motivational Runs: 3 audio-guided run stories and 6 audio-guided Olympic Interval runs - MoveWith
Half Marathon Training Part 2: To the Finish Line: 6 week training plan with 22 audio-guided runs - MoveWith
Half Marathon Training Part 1: Build Up Your Pace + Endurance: 6 week training plan with 22 audio-guided runs - MoveWith
Emergency Skin: Forward - N. K. Jemisin
Silverswift - Natalie Lloyd
The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail - but Some Don't - Nate Silver
Good Omens - Neil Gaiman , Terry Pratchett
Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society - Nicholas A. Christakis
American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road - Nick Bilton
Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies - Nick Bostrom
Based on a True Story: A Memoir - Norm Macdonald
Leven Thumps and the Eyes of the Want: Leven Thumps, #3 - Obert Skye
Leven Thumps and the Wrath of Ezra: Leven Thumps, #4 - Obert Skye
Leven Thumps and the Ruins of Alder: Leven Thumps, #5 - Obert Skye
Adulthood Rites: Xenogenesis, Book 2 - Octavia E. Butler
Dawn: Xenogenesis, Book 1 - Octavia E. Butler
Wild Seed - Octavia E. Butler
Kindred - Octavia E. Butler
The Life and Times of Prince Albert - Patrick Allitt]
The Name of the Wind: Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 1 - Patrick Rothfuss
Thinking about Cybersecurity: From Cyber Crime to Cyber Warfare - Paul Rosenzweig]
Into the Water: A Novel - Paula Hawkins
The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions - Peter Brannen
Terminus - Peter Clines
The Fold - Peter Clines
14 - Peter Clines
Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness - Peter Godfrey-Smith
Norco '80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History - Peter Houlahan
Harry Potter: A History of Magic: An Audio Documentary - Pottermore Publishing , Ben Davies
How the Stock Market Works - Ramon P. DeGennaro]
How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems - Randall Munroe
The October Country - Ray Bradbury
The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins
The Making of the Atomic Bomb: 25th Anniversary Edition - Richard Rhodes
The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World - Robert Garland]
Treasure Island: An Audible Original Drama - Robert Louis Stevenson , Marty Ross - adaptation
Swan Song - Robert R. McCammon
The Mueller Report: The Findings of the Special Counsel Investigation - Robert S. Mueller III , Special Counsel's Office U.S. Department of Justice
Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators - Ronan Farrow
Once More upon a Time: A Novella - Roshani Chokshi
Bind, Torture, Kill: The Inside Story of BTK, the Serial Killer Next Door - Roy Wenzl , Tim Potter , L. Kelly , Hurst Laviana
Elizabeth II: Life of a Monarch: An Audible Original - Ruth Cowen
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements - Sam Kean
Bad Luck Charlie: The Dragon Mage, Book 1 - Scott Baron
Rivals! Frenemies Who Changed the World - Scott McCormick
Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are - Seth Stephens-Davidowitz , Steven Pinker - foreword
Sea Wall / A Life - Simon Stephens , Nick Payne
Carnival Row: Tangle in the Dark - Stephanie K. Smith
D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of WW II - Stephen E. Ambrose
The Stand - Stephen King
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World - Steve Brusatte
Foreverywhere - Steve Burns , Steven Drozd , Gabe Soria
The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake - Steven Novella , Bob Novella - contributor , Cara Santa Maria - contributor , Jay Novella - contributor , Evan Bernstein - contributor
Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills - Steven Novella]
The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in "Healthy" Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain - Steven R. Gundry MD
My Dad the Spy - Stewart Copeland
The Age of Living Machines: How the Convergence of Biology and Engineering Will Build the Next Technology Revolution - Susan Hockfield
Guards! Guards! - Terry Pratchett
History's Great Military Blunders and the Lessons They Teach - The Great Courses , Gregory S. Aldrete
Great Mythologies of the World - The Great Courses , Grant L. Voth , Julius H. Bailey , Kathryn McClymond , Robert André LaFleur
This American Life - This American Life
Writing Creative Nonfiction - Tilar J J. Mazzeo]
The Man Who Knew the Way to the Moon - Todd Zwillich
The Hunt for Red October: A Jack Ryan Novel - Tom Clancy
The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts - Tom Farley , Tanner Colby
A Crazy Inheritance: Ghostsitter 1 - Tommy Krappweis
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood - Trevor Noah
Thicker than Water - Tyler Shultz
The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World - and Globalization Began - Valerie Hansen
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders - Vincent Bugliosi , Curt Gentry
SmartLess - Will Arnett Jason Bateman Sean Hayes
Climbing with Mollie - William Finnegan
Alien III: An Audible Original Drama - William Gibson
Gump & Co. - Winston Groom
Life of Pi - Yann Martel
siffis has generously offered to include his collection. If you like any of the books below then message directly.
World War Z: The Complete Edition - Max Brooks
Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
Ready Player Two - Ernest Cline
Halo: Shadows of Reach - Troy Denning
The Sandman - Neil Gaiman
The Ickabog - J.K. Rowling
The Last Tribe - Brad Manuel
Halo Grassland - Karen Traviss
Halo: Mortal Dictata - Karen Traviss
Halo: The Thursday War - Karen Traviss
Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman
Firefly: Big Damn Hero - Jame Lovegrove
After it Happened - Devron C Ford
Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds - Gwenda Bond
Blade Runner - Phillip K Dick
Hell Divers 1
Hell Divers 2: Ghosts
God of War - J.M. Barlog
The Time of Contempt - Andrzej Sapkowski
Blood of Elves - Andrzej Sapkowski
Solar Storms - Nicholas Sansbury
Planetside - Michael Mammay
Season of Storms - Andrzej Sapkowski
Dark Operator - Doc Spears
How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps - Andrew Rowe
Warning: massive amount of text ahead. I created a mostly functional race route around the world (all loactions like buildings, businesses, landmarks, etc. are REAL locations and could theoretically actually work in the race). I tried to have a good variety in locations and types of challenges, but it's really hard! I find it a lot harder to complain about challenge design after making this. Even though this could technically happen there are probably some safety concerns in going to South Africa and Lesotho and it's probably not possible for the American Amazing Race to film in Cuba, but I decided to do it anyway. If you have any questions or feedback please let me know! RACE #2 Leg 1 (USA - Japan) Leg 2 (Japan - South Korea) Leg 3 (South Korea - India) Leg 4 (India - Oman) Leg 5 (Oman) Leg 6 (Oman - South Africa) Leg 7 (South Africa - Lesotho) Leg 8 (Lesotho - Greece) Leg 9 (Greece) Leg 10 (Greece - North Macedonia) Leg 11 (North Macedonia - Cuba) Leg 12 (Cuba - USA) LEG 1 USA - Japan Start at Cloud Gate, Chicago, Illinois Run to clue at Millenium Monument Clue #1 Make your way to the Gunma region of Japan, and travel to Sarugakyu Onsen. However, to get your tickets to Japan, you must make your way on foot through the busy streets of Chicago to Navy Pier, where flights will be given out according to the order of your arrival. Flights go to Tokyo, and you must make your own travel arrangements from there. Flight 1 (5 teams): Chicago - Los Angeles - Tokyo, arrives 8:00 AM Flight 2 (4 teams): Chicago - Tokyo, arrives 9:30 AM Flight 3 (2 teams): Chicago - San Francisco - Tokyo, arrives 9:45 AM Clue #2 Both team members must go into the hot springs and search it for the partly submerged cluebox to get your next clue. Clue #3 Travel to Sarugakyo Bungy for your next clue. Clue #4 Roadblock: Who’s ready to take a jump? Bungy jump at the largest bungy jump in all of Japan at 62 meters, or over 200 feet! Once you’ve taken your leap of faith, you’ll receive your next clue. Clue #5 Travel to Uenokunirokunomiya Haruna Shrine, Takasaki, for your next clue. Clue #6 Create one string of paper cranes in Senbazuru. Senbazuru is the crafting of 1000 paper cranes for good luck. Following the demonstration, learn how to craft paper cranes. Once you have created forty of them and strung them together, deliver them to a Shinto priest at Akiba Shrine. He will give you your next clue. Clue #7 Travel by train to Akihabara, Tokyo, and go to the top of the Tokyo Skytree to receive your next clue. Clue #8 Roadblock: Who can ‘go’ kart? The teammate who did the first roadblock cannot do this one. Travel to Akihabari Street Kart 1 and dress up in one of the many ridiculous costumes the company has to offer. Then, join a fifteen minute go-karting tour around the streets of this bustling region and look for three enormous signs in race colors with three different Japanese characters on them. If you can spot and write all three characters down correctly during the rush of Tokyo, you’ll receive your next clue. If you can’t get it right, you’ll have to join the next available tour. Clue #9 Travel to Horin Park on foot to find the first pit stop! The last team to check in here may be eliminated. Pit Stop, Leg 1 trip to Canada last: eliminated LEG 2 Japan - South Korea Clue #1 Fly to Busan, South Korea! Upon arrival, make your way to Beomeo-sa for your next clue. Fast Forward, Leg 2 Go to Songdo Beach and swim out into the ocean, locating the five whale statues in the water. At each statue, pick up marked letter tiles. Once you have all seven (two statues have two tiles), you can go back to the beach and unscramble the letters that spell out the name of a traditional South Korean delicacy that the other contestants eat at their first challenge. If you get the right word, you’ll be given a clue that takes you straight to the end of the leg. Clue #2 Master the art of Korean meditation. If you can master all of the moves correctly, then your instructor will give over your next clue. Clue #3 Head to Taejongdae for your next clue. Clue #4 Roadblock: Who’s desperate to eat? Take the marked path over one mile uphill to the marked food stand, and finish one serving of Soondae, a traditional South Korean delicacy that is made of pig intestines and pork blood. Once you have finished the food, you can run down to your partner and get your next clue. Clue #5 Take the Songdo Marine Cable Car from Songnim Park to Amnam Park to receive your next clue. Clue #6 Detour: Fish Identity or Fish Delivery Fish Identity: Go to Jagalchi Fish Market and search for the marked stall. Once there, sort an enormous box of fish and organize them. Once the stall owner approves, put them up for stock in the stall to receive your next clue. Fish Delivery: Go to Jacky’s Seafood and take three orders and three addresses that need to be delivered. Once you have delivered all the fish to all the correct addresses throughout the Gamcheon Culture Village, you will receive your next clue. Clue #7 Make your way to the pit-stop at Haedong Yonggungsa. The last team to arrive may be eliminated. Pit-Stop, Leg 2 -first: trip to Belize -last: non-elimination LEG 3 South Korea - India Clue #1 Fly to Hyderabad, India, and go to the Charminar for your first clue. Clue #2 Travel to Ramoji Film City Main Entrance to receive your next clue. Speed Bump, Leg 3 Make your way to Saha’s Adventure Park and zorb down a steep hill. Once you’ve made it, you can continue racing. Clue #3 Detour: Birdy Woods or Bollywood Birdy Woods: Dressing up in clumsy bird costumes, search through Asia’s largest aviary for a cutout of the bird your partner is dressing up as. Once you’ve found the two cutouts, head to the Bonsai Garden. If you match the right bird, you’ll receive your next clue. Bollywood: Head to Ramoji Movie Magic. Dressing up in traditional Indian outfits, memorize a short dance to the tune of some Bollywood music and perform it to the live audience and judges. If you meet their standards, you’ll receive your next clue. Clue #4 Head to Nehru Zoological Park where your next clue will be waiting. Clue #5 Take an amazing elephant ride! With both teammates on the elephant’s back guide it through a short course. If you can reach the end in under two minutes, you’ll receive your next clue. Clue #6 Make your way to Bidar Fort by public transport for your next clue. Clue #7 Roadblock: Who’s itching to get etching? One team member must help in the process of the creation of bidriware. First, you must chisel one section in the piece of bidriware very precisely. Any error and you must restart. If given the clear, then you must then make their way inside Bidar Fort and collect a total of three baskets of soil for the artisans to use later in the process. Finally, you must use some of the soil you collected and coat a piece of bidriware in it. If every part of the challenge was done to the satisfaction of the artisans, you will receive your next clue. Clue #8 Make your way to the Bahmani Tombs and the pit-stop! The last team to arrive will be eliminated. Pit-Stop, Leg 3 -first: trip to Japan -last: eliminated LEG 4 India - Oman Clue #1 Fly to Muscat, Oman! Once you have arrived, make your way to Al Alam Palace, where you will find marked cars waiting outside. Your clue will be waiting on the car. Clue #2 Drive all the way to the Nizwa Souq in Nizwa, Oman, where you will find nine different tags, each releasing teams at different times the next morning, when you will be given your next clue. Tag 1: departure at 7:00 AM Tag 2: departure at 7:05 AM Tag 3: departure at 7:10 AM Tag 4: departure at 7:15 AM Tag 5: departure at 7:20 AM Tag 6: departure at 7:25 AM Tags 7-9: departure at 7:30 AM Clue #3 Detour: Selling Goats or Weighing Dates Selling Goats: Navigate through the souq to the weekly goat market. You must select a seller and help them sell their goats. First, thoroughly clean five goats so they are ready for selling. Then, parade five goats around the “walking circle,” where potential buyers will inspect which goats to buy. You must finally buy a goat yourself, haggling for a price under 100 riyals, or 260 US dollars. Once you can purchase a goat, you will receive your next clue. Keep the goat for the next challenge. Weighing Dates: Find the marked stall in the souq that is selling dates. Your goal is to weigh out 200 grams of Ajwa Dates, 175 grams of Barhi Dates, and 125 grams of Hayani Dates. To do this, you must travel across the market to a scale at a different date stall. If you can get the perfect amount of dates, you will receive your next clue. Keep the dates for the next challenge. Clue #4 Travel on foot to the Contemporary Mosque with either your goat or dates and trade them with the man waiting out front for your next clue. Clue #5 Make your way back to the souq, and head to Omani Craftsman's House where you will find your next clue. Clue #6 Roadblock: Who can work and weave? The teammate participating in this roadblock must help create a small basketwork bowl. After watching the example, you must use the provided materials to finish off the bowl. If it meets the requirement of the shop owner, you will receive your next clue. Clue #7 Make your way to the pit-stop for this leg of the race, Nizwa Fort! The last team to arrive may be eliminated. Pit-Stop, Leg 4 -first: continue racing -last: continue racing LEG 5 Oman Clue #1 Drive yourself to Bimmah Sinkhole in Muscat, Oman! You will receive your next clue after having a cup of delicious locally-made coffee. Caution! Double U-Turn ahead! Clue #2 Detour: Script Write or Shipwright Script Write: Drive to Bait al Zubair and go into the Manuscript Room. Using a provided paper and translation guide, figure out what the marked manuscript says in English. If anything is wrong when submitting it, though, you must start completely over. Shipwright: Drive to Oman Maritime Boatyard and find the marked boat. Oman Maritime has been reviving the craft of making the traditional wooden boats of Oman’s past, and you must help with the process. First, you must hand-sand a small section of the marked vessel. Then, you and your partner must work together to stitch coconut palm fiber through twenty holes, or eighty total stitches. Once you’re done, you’ll receive your next clue. Clue #3 Make your way to Mutrah Souk for your next clue and the U-Turn board! Clue #4 Search through the enormous market for one of three marked stalls. One you’ve found a stall, search through their wares for a trinket with a red/yellow flag on the bottom. Give the correct trinket to the shop owner, and they will hand you your next clue. Clue #5 Drive yourself to Qurum Beach, where you will receive your next clue. Clue #6 Roadblock: Who will pass the shells? For this challenge, one team member must watch the demonstration of two fishermen playing a traditional Omani game, Al Hawalees. You must first create a “board” in the sand and collect the required amount of shells to play. You must then challenge a local fisherman. If you can win while following all of the rules correctly, you will receive your next clue. Clue #7 Make your way to the pit-stop at Wadi Bani Khalid. The last team to check in will be eliminated. Pit-Stop, Leg 5 -first: trip to Tanzania -last: eliminated LEG 6 Oman - South Africa Clue #1 Fly out of Oman to Durban, South Africa, on one of two flights. Flight 1 (2 teams): Muscat - Durban, arrives 7:30 AM Flight 2 (6 teams): Muscat - Dar es Salaam - Durban, arrives 8:00 AM Upon touching down, make your way to Moses Mabhida Stadium, where you will find your next clue. Clue #2 Roadblock: Who will swing for the skies? One team member must strap in and complete the Big Rush Big Swing, the largest swing in the world! Dive 263 feet down. Once you have finished the swing, you will receive a section and seat number. You will search the stands for your next clue. Clue #3 Make your way to Umhlanga Lighthouse for your next clue. Clue #4 Shake it up! In this challenge, you must create Lighthouse Bar’s famous “Umhlanga Schling.” Use the provided recipe to create fifteen drinks to perfection, and you will receive your next clue. Clue #5 Head to Addington Beach and dig underneath one of the large sandcastles for your next clue. Clue #6 Detour: Tree or Sea Tree: For this detour, go to Durban Botanical Gardens. Use a provided golf cart to make your way to the famous Wood’s Cycad, a tree dating back to the age of dinosaurs. It has been cared for here since 1848. Once there, use one of the provided pieces to put together a large 3d puzzle of the tree. Once it has been approved, you will be handed your clue, and you can drive back to the front of the gardens and continue racing. Sea: Go to uShaka Marine World and help out with some chores! First, help the kitchen staff and prepare 5 pounds of specially made vegetables for some of the aquarium’s fish. Second, travel around the park and take water samples from each of the specified exhibits. Finally, record blood test results taken during routine health check-ups. If you’ve completed all of the steps correctly, you will receive your next clue. Clue #7 Head to the pit-stop at Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World! The last team to check in may be eliminated. Pit-Stop, Leg 6 -first: 5k each -last: eliminated LEG 7 South Africa - Lesotho Clue #1 Drive yourself through Qacha’s Nek and into Lesotho! Once in Lesotho, drive yourself to Maletsunyane Falls where you’ll find your next clue. Fast Forward, Leg 7 By completing this fast forward, you will skip an overnight rest point and will be able to head directly to the pit-stop. Head to Sehlabathebe National Park. Once there, using the provided map and compass, ride by horseback to the nomadic tribal people’s current village. At the village, help cook pap-pap, a type of porridge common in Lesotho. The first team to complete the challenge will be able to head directly to the pit-stop. Clue #2 Drive yourself to Seshoeshoe Decor and Fashion Designers in Maseru for your next clue. Clue #3 Who can cut up a pattern? One teammate will choose one of the complicated tribal Lesotho designs, and must find five pieces of fabric that match it perfectly. But be careful, the designs have miniscule differences between them. Once you’ve found all of your fabric, cut them at the directed places to receive your next clue. Clue #4 Make your way to the Subeng River Dinosaur Footprints, where you will find seven tags, each releasing you at a time in the morning when you will receive your next clue. Tags 1-2: departure at 7:00 AM Tag 3: departure at 7:20 AM Tag 4: departure at 7:40 AM Tags 5-7: departure at 8:00 AM Clue #5 Detour: Cave or Maze Cave: For this challenge, go to Liphofung Cave. You must memorize all of the rock paintings in a specified section (15 paintings), and then run approximately a quarter-mile away and select the correct paper cutouts and put them in the right order as they were shown in the cave. When you have everything selected and ordered correctly, you’ll receive your next clue. Maze: Make your way to the second largest dam in Africa, Katse Dam. Enter the first marked gallery and record the air temperature and the humidity. Use those observations to crack a complicated code, and enter the parallel gallery it directs you into. Be careful, it might be hard to find! If you enter the correct gallery, you will find a boat key, which you must give to the boatmaster. He will then give you a small ride around the reservoir and you’ll receive your next clue. Clue #6 Drive yourself to Sani Stone Lodge for your next clue. Clue #7 Help a local Basotho Shephard and their dogs move their sheep to a new grazing location. Don’t let the sheep get away! Once they’ve all been successfully moved, you’ll receive your next clue. Clue #8 Make your way on foot to the pit-stop at Sani Top Chalet! The last team to check in may be eliminated! Pit-Stop, Leg 7 -first: trip to Egypt -last: non-elimination LEG 8 Lesotho - Greece Clue #1 Via Maseru International Airport, make your way to Athens, Greece, known to be the home of the first democracy! From there, make your way to the Theatre of Dionysus on The Acropolis, where you will take part in a U-Turn vote. The two teams with the most votes will be sentenced to an automatic U-Turn when they arrive at the detour. After the vote, teams will be given their next clue. Clue #2 Fly to Chania, Greece on the island of Crete! Upon touching down, use the provided cars to make your way to the Agora and search for the marked stall. Speed Bump, Leg 8 Together, team members must eat through a total of twelve Greek figs. Once all of the fruits have been stomached, that team can continue racing. Clue #3 Detour: Traverse or Immerse Traverse: Make your way to the Maritime Museum of Crete, and find the small yacht model outside the museum. Your goal is to remember as much as you can without writing it down, then make a half mile walk through the streets of Crete to the yacht harbor, where you must find a marked yacht and rearrange the items until it is just like it was in the model. Once the actual yacht matches the model, you’ll receive your next clue. Immerse: Travel to Minoan’s World 3D Museum, and get treated to a five minute long “9D movie” on Cretan History which engages all of your senses. If you can answer all five questions correctly, you’ll receive your next clue. However, only two teams can participate in the show at once. Clue #4 Drive to the Palace of Knossos for your next clue. Clue #5 Use the provided map to navigate through the ruins, collecting puzzle pieces at each of the marked rooms. Once you have all ten bundles of pieces, head outside and recreate the large painting using the pieces you collected. Once it has been finished, you’ll receive your next clue. Clue #6 Drive to Cretan Olive Oil Farm for your next clue. Clue #7 Roadblock: Who is feeling oily? In this challenge, one teammate will help in the process of creating olive oil. First, set up special tree-shaking equipment and a net, used to efficiently get olives out of the tree without bruising them. You will then sort the olives between bruised and fair. Finally, crush both bruised and fair olives with a traditional granite olive press. Once they have been successfully grinded into a paste, you’ll receive your next clue. Clue #8 Find the pit-stop along the coast of the small village of Loutro back on the west side of Crete. You will soon discover, however, that the village is completely blocked off from the mainland by mountains, so you will have to find alternate transportation. Hurry, because the last team to arrive will be eliminated. Pit-Stop, Leg 8 -first: trip to Austria -last: eliminated LEG 9 Greece Clue #1 Fly back to the mainland in Thessaloniki! When you’ve arrived, search Aristotelous Square for your next clue. Clue #2 Detour: Serve or Observe Serve: For this detour head on foot to Bougatsa Giannis, a renowned restaurant in the Ladadika area. You must take the orders of twelve total people and retrieve the correct dishes for them from the kitchen. Each person also has a dessert, which must be retrieved from nearby pastry shop Trigona Elinidi. You may take notes, but if you mess up someone’s order, you must start it over again. Observe: Go by taxi to the Thessaloniki Science Centre Technology Museum and make your way to the main planetarium. The night sky will be projected above, and will be moving around you at one hour of regular movement per second. Using the provided key, identify five Greek constellations first identified by Claudius Ptolemy- Orion, Ursa Major, Cassiopeia, Centaurus, and Perseus. Be careful, it might be dizzying! Once you’ve found all of the constellations, you’ll be rewarded with your next clue. Clue #3 Find the Arch of Galerius for your next clue. Clue #4 Use one of the marked cars to drive yourself for the rest of the leg. Go to the Thessaloniki Concert Hall for your next clue. Clue #5 Roadblock: Who can blow a note and hold a tune? Macedonian brass bands are extremely popular in the Macedonia region of Greece, so for this roadblock, learn how to play the trumpet, a popular instrument played in these bands. If you can play a few notes of the folk song with the band, you’ll get your next clue. Clue #6 Drive to Dalamara Winery. Once there, follow the guide to the directed area, where you must load two empty kegs onto a horse drawn cart. Direct the horse approximately half a mile through the vineyard and return back to the kegs. You will continue to load and deliver a total of eight kegs to receive your next clue. Clue #7 Drive to Ski Center Voras and take the lift to the top where Kajmakcalan, a chapel right on the border between Greece and North Macedonia is situated. The last team to arrive at this pit-stop may be eliminated. Pit-Stop, Leg 9 -first: trip to Colombia -last: eliminated LEG 10 Greece - North Macedonia Clue #1 Drive yourself across the border into North Macedonia to Popova Kula Winery! Once there, pull a tag that departs you at a certain time the next morning. Tag 1: departure at 8:00 AM Tag 2: departure at 8:10 AM Tag 3: departure at 8:20 AM Tags 4-5: departure at 8:30 AM Clue #2 Roadblock: Who is a master chef? The teammate doing this roadblock will use the provided recipe to cook the national dish of North Macedonia, Tavche Gravche, a special type of baked beans. If it is cooked to perfection, you’ll receive your next clue. Clue #3 Drive yourself to the Millenium Cross in Skopje for your next clue. Clue #4 Detour: Art Block or Charity Walk Art Block: Drive to the Art Bridge, which is home to 29 statues of important Macedonian artists and musicians. Wandering on and around the bridge are 29 people dressed up as those artists and musicians. You must match nine total people to their statues. A maximum of three teams can complete this challenge. Charity Walk: Drive to the Mother Teresa Memorial House and load a trolley cart with a marked group of items that will almost completely fill the trolley. On foot, travel to the SOS Children’s Village National Office where you are to deliver the items. If you do not choose this option, your items will still be donated after the leg. Clue #5 Drive to the city of Struga, where the North Macedonian national anthem was created. Make your way to the Saint Archangel Michael Cave Church for your next clue. Clue #6 Teammates must work together to memorize four total stanzas of the Macedonian national anthem- in Macedonian. If you can perform it with the orchestra without forgetting the lyrics, you’ll receive your clue to the next pit-stop. Clue #7 Drive to the Monastery of St. Naum and the pit-stop! The last team to check in may be eliminated. Pit-Stop, Leg 10 -first: trip to Indonesia -last: eliminated LEG 11 North Macedonia - Cuba Clue #1 Make your way back to Skopje, then fly to Havana, Cuba, on two predetermined flights. Once there, go by taxi to Taller Calle 8, a car repair shop, where you will receive your next clue. Flight 1 (2 teams): Skopje - Paris - Havana, arrives 6:30 AM Flight 2 (2 teams): Skopje - London - Miami - Havana, arrives 7:10 AM Clue #2 Roadblock: Who can fix it up? The teammate doing this roadblock must follow the example to repair one of the classic Cuban cars. If it makes it past inspection, you’ll receive your next clue. Clue #3 For the remainder of the leg, you’ll have to drive the car you just fixed. Head to Fusterlandia, where you’ll find your next clue. Clue #4 Find where the attached image is in person throughout the folk neighborhood of Fusterlandia. If you can find where the image actually is and show the judge, you’ll receive your next clue. Clue #5 Sell the Box or Find the Band Sell the Box: Drive to Santa Maria del Mar Beach and sell the provided boxes of boxed rum, the “juice box for bug kids.” While never selling any box for under 25 Cuban Pesos, make 375 Cuban Pesos (around fifteen US dollars). Once you’ve made your sales, you’ll receive your next clue. Find the Band: For this detour, drive to the Cuban Art Factory and observe the large, marked piece of sheet music in the first room. Going from room to room in the factory, try to find the band who is playing the music that was in the first room. You must make your guesses ten minutes apart, so be confident in your answers! Once you have chosen the right band, you’ll be rewarded with your next clue. Clue #6 Drive to Vinales Valley Tobacco Field and search the marked area for your next clue. Clue #7 Perfectly roll ten Cuban cigars, five per contestant. Watch the example closely, as any small mistake in rolling the tobacco leaf will cause the cigar to fail. Once all of the cigars have been perfectly rolled, you’ll receive your next clue. Clue #8 Take a long drive to the eastern side of Cuba and the pit-stop at Ignacio Agramonte Park in Camaguey! The last team to check into the pit-stop will be eliminated. Pit-Stop, Leg 11 -first: trip to Botswana -last: eliminated LEG 12 Cuba - USA Clue #1 For the first part of this leg, you’ll be staying in Cuba! Drive yourself using the car you used in the last leg down Neptuno street in Havana, where you will find a guarapo stall with a flag. Clue #2 Using the hand-press to crush sugarcane, make forty glasses of guarapo. Once all of the glasses have been successfully made, you’ll be handed your next clue. Clue #3 Drive to the Tropicana Night Club for your next clue. Clue #4 Roadblock: Who can make it and shake it? For this challenge, one team member must follow the instructions of the costume designer to create a costume for one of the showgirls. If the costume is made correctly and given a pass, teams will be given their next clue. Clue #5 Teams must drive to Aeropuerto de La Habana Ciudad Libertad, where you will embark on a charter flight to Key West, Florida, back in the United States. Once in Key West, teams must go to the southernmost point in the continental United States for their next clue. Clue #6 Make your way to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, where you’ll find your next clue. Clue #7 Roadblock: Who is a reader, a writer, and a decipherer? Ernest Hemingway, known for books like The Old Man and the Sea, had a notoriously bad handwriting, with little regards to punctuation or accuracy. One team member must copy one of Hemingway’s notes perfectly, letter for letter, on the provided typewriter. If it was typed perfectly, you will be handed a decoder key which you can use to find the hidden message, which will reveal the location of your final challenge. Answer: Smathers Beach Clue #8 Now that you’ve made it to Smathers Beach, you’ll partake in a final challenge. Out in between the marked buoys are bundles of letter tiles. You must dive down to retrieve them and bring them back up to shore. Figure out what you’re supposed to spell out with them, and once you think you have the answer, hang the tiles in order on your clothesline. If you have the correct answer, you’ll be given the final clue. Answer: United States, Japan, South Korea, India, Oman, South Africa, Lesotho, Greece, North Macedonia, Cuba, United States (teams must figure out that they have to spell out all of the countries they visited in order on the race) Clue #9 Congratulations! Make your way to the final pit-stop at Fort Zachary Cruise Pier! Go, go, go, the first team to reach the pit-stop will win 1 MILLION dollars! Pit-Stop, Leg 12 10 countries 4 continents over 27,000 miles first: 1 million dollars
thank you! this helps... seriously! it gives me some hope and feedback that i'm not completely nuts (if i'm asking the question, i'm probably safe... probably :), plus there's the off and odd chances that run wild sometimes. i'm enjoying writing today, so please forgive me my liberties as i start to tell a story. some of it you inspired! i'm not done with it, but i enjoy it, and the act of writing is the ends and the means; this story is coming into existence because i am enjoying my play... ├◉─◇───◇──◇─◯◦─
you end up at this year's oddlyreal conference/festival thingy, which just announced its 10,000th physically present (at least cranially) biological entity, ”a new record” the announcement continues in a somehow perceptibly excited low and relaxed androgynous voice. despite yourself, you are grudgingly impressed with the oddly tasteful decor and some subdued, relaxing minor key japanese string thing... the word kuto or koto flashes in your head as remembrance. usually these conference/shindig things are visually loud enough for chinese new year and audibly worse than the morning after the taco and chili competition endemic at a government-in-exile rally in a certain ex-president's last remaining casino.
in a word, elegant. in another two: oddly (you sense a theme here) relaxed. like you imagine miami in the '80s, during sunset over the ocean... minus the grime and old people driving on the median. you hear some obvious digitally created lo-fi sounds. 8-bit? looking in the distance, you see a sign with an arrow pointing down and to the left: ”arcade”. mystery solved! your stomach involuntarily receives a flutter of excitement and anticipation; underneath the larger letters reads ”5 tokens $1, 11 tokens $2, 42 tokens $5”. a long, straight haired androgynous couple, one dyed black and the other bleached white lets out a simultaneous laugh in the distance; you hear ”ski-ball!” as the pair run underneath the sign and disappear. this might actually be fun!
you checked in with only one minor incident: your reserved room wasn't ready yet. before you could say that you didn't mind waiting (an excuse for the arcade... not that you needed one) the concierge asks if you will accept a complimentarily room upgrade to one with a deluxe balcony, japanese bath, and view of the night sky over the ocean (really the gulf) facing west. you thank your lucky stars that that light pollution law passed a few years ago. everyone thought it was too odd and unimportant to pass at the time, and nobody thought it would pass, but it did... without riders, without debate, unanimous. first the house, then the senate an hour later, and the president shocked everyone by signing it at the stroke of midnight on the winter solstice. now you can see your lucky stars... from within a city, of all things. energy use went down because of it, and so did pollution. unexpectedly, cities became quieter at night, and there were less therapy visits for generalized anxiety disorder. book and app sales about astronomy and astrology were trending, and in general, people seem more chill, more relaxed, more focused. it was not uncommon to see your neighbor on a lawn chair on their roof watching the sun set after work.
this night sky was gorgeous! how did so many generations give it up? and for what? crappy 7/11 and motel-6 neon lowglow? lame. the evening sky over the gulf is even more spectacular than you remember, and you pause in your unpacking and settling into your room to watch for a few minutes more.
the keynote speach is listed as a costume formal: tux, gown, dress uniform, and/or come-as-you-are, shoes optional event: another oddly satisfying and kind of exciting contradiction. so the choice is yours: do you pick the expertly tailored black and white tux you had taken in a bit last week? or a below-the-knee black and white gown your partner insisted you pack... just in case. it would be an an oddity for you to wear a gown to anything, you laugh. oddity. this place must be infectious! what the heck, gown it is! luckily its easy to put on and more far more androgynous than expected. it's very nearly like wearing a lightweigh black and grey kilt, like at the highland games. you look over your balcony and see a contingent in formal black-and-white star-trek looking body suit type unforms pause and bow to a group in what appears to be tuxedo labcoats with tails. looking in the mirror, you don't look half bad!
you have a few good drinks in you, or was that a good few? the air is pleasantly neutral, sometimes just a bit warm, at others a slight chill. the ocean makes the air noticably humid with a slght salt tang, but it's the perfect temperature for it. the slight breeze feels good on your legs, and the white, nearly glowing sand covering the outdoor conference room's floor is pleasing between your toes. your shoes are probably gone with the glass from the previous manhattan... you didn't like those shoes anyway. good riddance!
the keynote was actually pretty good! a little bit dull as you knew all the stuff the keynote speaker was talking about, and she seemed a tiny bit bored herself, like she's given the pitch eleventy-one times already... come to think of it, as she's a founder and cto of a company doing the kind of thing this conference is about, you realize she probably has. her wild perple hair... you've seen it before. the next sip of your drink brings back the memory of its namesake city, and an elevator.
you were on your way up to the 58th floor for an interview†, and (yes, the memory is clear now) this nervous seemingly little girl with purple hair and an actual physical portfolio case (black and leather looking and nearly as large as her) rode the lift with you, although you notice she's not as young as she appears: she's just short. you notice that the only other floor selected is 103. and you notice that she is staring at you now, probably because (you realize belatedly) you've been staring at her for at least a dozen floors.
"interview? your first big one?" she asks.
"um... somthing like that," you manage to mumble
"it's dangerous to go alone! take this." as she is saying this (sounds familiar), she's expertly juggling her purse, the comically oversized portfolio case, and something aroud by her left hand. (you feel she just quoted something important, but can't place it)
as the bell for your floor dings and the doors open, she tucks something warm and maybe metal? into your hand and says "quick! put it in your pocket for luck! look at it later or you'll be late. give it back to me someday!"
you nearly fumble putting the whatever-it-is into your pocket as the lift doors are closing. the last you see is a smile as you hear a fading "don't panic!"
// current tail. betwixt here and the footnotes seperator, there be unfinshed dragons. and that you heard the elevator version of that pitch waaay back, 5, maybe 6 years ago, before she was a notable cto giving a keynote address to a large and prestigious* ) vr gametech conference this one. ke back when there were 2 founders and a part time employee with a mohawk and studs in his head run in to someone at a conference in a little out of the way bar where it's just a bit quieter and you can hear yourself think
├◉─◇───◇─ footnotes ──◇─◯◦─
you feel the word 'pretentious' slip past your right eyeball and invade your frontal lobe. it breaks into the stream of your thoughts, despite your conscious and diligent efforts to be less cynical... aaannnnndddd theoretically happier, because you are sort of reading ”the tao of pooh”, based on the footnote of some really weird lady's post on reddit a handful of years ago, and this whole thing about being an uncarved block kind of made sense, but was frustratingly both seductively elusive and easy to be cynical about at the same time.
you got the job! you were very nervous at first, but you felt the thing the purple haired girlprincesswoman gave you in the elevator. every time you started squirming‡ because of a question asked (c'mon, "where do you see this company in 5 years?" how the hell are you supposed to answer to that?), you got stabbed on the top of your thigh, right in the rectus femoris, by something in your pocket. this sensation was nearly like getting an injection, and you found it distracting enough you couldn't quite focus on the more inane questions (squirm - stab, repeat) and just said what was on your mind. apparently it, whatever 'it' was, was working, as the facial hair on the man bobbed slightly out of sync with his nods. the woman next to him was quiet and very tomboy-ish; if the peter pan played by maud adams on broadway had a kid with the tinkerbell from hook (1992 julia roberts, not the awful 2024 remake with a cg remade kardashian- glack) and they were raised climbing trees in pixi skorts decorated with pink skulls... but decided to put on an immaculately tailored gray zoot suit made just for her by the costume designers of the matrix... (1999, not the 2023 reboot)
anyway, the tomboy (maud, she introduced herself as later, and she said she liked her name and never changed it) seemed to enjoy your answers, and cut... ned? hagbard?... off in the middle of some convoluted thing he must have proudly dredged from the bowels of the earliest internet archives; rumores and tall tales of ''questions" steve jobs asked potential apple employees like jony ive to tourture them where the scars wouldn't show.
at a glace from maud, "hagbard, pollice verso, commodus? tick-tock! tick tock!"
hagbard locked eyes with you, straightened his posture, and the facial hair grinned a few milliseconds before he did. without looking away he extended his arm like a roman emperor, made a fist, and gave maud the thumbs up. he turned on his heel, his beard followed a tad later, and out the door he went.
"so.... would it sound weird if i asked about what you have in your pocket?" // better phrasing. possible lotr gollum reference.
it's a bad habit you have that is more common than you realized back when you were asked increasingly awkward questions by that guy... what was his name at the time? ted? ned? hagbard? he has changed it at least 3 times since you've been working there and got to known him a bit. at least he got rid of that ridiculous face eating victorian english thing he called mutton chops!
Original Viera Voice 7: With the release of Shadowbringer came a new race, Viera. As with many other races players can choose one set among a certain amount of voice sets when they create/fantasia their characters. Viera Voice 7 as of 5.0 is like this https://youtu.be/Lo2XtnYpnIg , but since 5.1 it has been changed completely. The old sounds were bugged and appeared to be that of an old woman having an orgasm.
Pixel Dodge: This is how most MMOs work, that our character's model is actually "compressed" in one single point/pixel. Not "compressed" in the literal meaning, "compressed" as in "only that single pixel matters when considering hitboxes". This is very relevant in dodging AOE, sometimes you can see parts of your body being inside the telegraphed marker, but you don't get hit. As long as that single point is out of the danger zones, you will be fine.
Clip onto Cliffhanger: Cliffhanger is a GATE in the Gold Saucer, in the Round Square, that requires you to do a mini jump puzzle to get to the top of the mountain. When the GATE pops, you would need to talk to the NPC and get teleported to the startpoint. The thing is, you can actually get on top of the mountain whenever you want, without having to initialise the GATE or even have the GATE present. From here https://imgur.com/a/ldTj0Ls, you can actually jump to here https://imgur.com/a/JlOVSa4. You might not get it on the first try but if you keep trying and jumping, you'll eventually get it.
Edda's Ghost: Edda is a character in the Tam-tara Deepcroft Hard questline. The story is tragic and gruesome. You can find a full summary of the story of said questline here https://www.reddit.com/ffxiv/comments/2a9wji/tamtara_lore_welcome_to_creepsville_spoilers_all/ When you complete Tam-tara Hard, there is a 1%(?) 0.1%(?) (I don't remember the actual probability, I just know that it is small) chance that Edda will spawn (for you only) in one of the main three cities. This is a known feature. The myth is that some players claimed that they saw Edda's ghost without completing the Tam-tara Hard questline. Edda also appears in Palace of The Dead as a boss once you reach a certain floor.
Gold Saucer visible: The Gold Saucer is visible in the background of Southern Thanalan, like the way Idyllshire is visible from Hinterlands and Eulmore is visible from Kholusia.
Comfort Misery: The debuff status "Misery" can actually be cleansed using /comfort on the affected target. It first appeared in the LV50 dungeon The Lost City of Amdapor. There are gremlin mobs in said dungeon that cast "Foul Mouth" it will apply a "Misery" debuff on you. It cannot be cleansed with Esuna, but it can be cleansed with /comfort. This is a known feature. It DOES NOT work on yourselves though, it has to be from another player so if you wanna test it make sure to have at least 2 people.
Retainers in Overworld: Retainers can actually be seen in the overworld, gathering resources. Like Edda, they also have a chance of appearing. They appear as untargettable NPCs, like the other untargettable NPCs you can see in many other places. This is a known feature.
GM Jail: It is a place where you get pulled in by a GM. Apparently it is actually not instanced, and most of your actions are disabled, including teleport and return. The only thing that appears on your screen is the chatbox. This effectively serves as an in-game jail, where players who committed misconducts are pulled in there and get a warning/a strike/a temporary ban/a perma ban from a GM. When you are released, you will not be released to where you got pulled from, you will be released to the aetheryte that you set as your return point (so probably Limsa).
Crystarium 2005 Tech Demo: The original video itself is from 2005, but this video from 2007 pretty much sums it up https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgtZvn5c4e4 It is a Tech Demo from two thousand and five, fifteen years ago that depicts a city with a striking resemblance to the Crystarium.
Cloud Strife Dialogue: It is an easter-egg in game that you can find under System > Character Configuration > Log Window Settings > General then click on one of the 4 Log Filters. It looks like this https://imgur.com/a/Se7IiHB. Each line in each tab of the filters has its own Cloud line.
Open air wedding chapel: Wedding, referred to in-game as "Eternal Bond" or simply "EB", is a ceremony between two players where they get "married". The ceremony is in the Ivory Chapel in East Shroud, many of you might already be very familiar with it. The wedding concept in FF14 however started with an open-air wedding style instead of indoor, unfortunately I can't seem to find the reference picture.
Hidden Gilgamesh in OST: Way back in 2.3/2.4 there was one of the many FFXIV OST albums was released for purchase. One of the tweet from the FF14 twitter after the release of said album was this https://imgur.com/a/PdnnUF8 it referred to a locked file within the album that contains the track "Battle of the Big Bridge". The password to unlock said file is "gilgamesh".
Back masking in Tam-tara Hard theme: Backmasking is a recording technique in which a sound or message is recorded backward onto a track that is meant to be played forward. Backmasking is a deliberate process, whereas a message found through phonetic reversal may be unintentional. This is probably related to Edda and her creepy questline.
Housing Void: There is a glitch in FFXIV where you can go out of bound in a house. With a certain specific set up, consisting of Troupe Stages and certain beds, you can see what it's like "outside" of a house. It's a square box with non-smooth texture within a completely dark background, if you fall into it you'll fall forever.
Meol is just bread: Meol is the food given by Vauthry to the poor people living in Kholusia. It is actually made of sin eaters, so if one eats that, one to an extent "is" a sin eater. Vauthry has the ability to control sin eaters, that's why he does that. This is probably a meme related to this, in line with the saying "x did nothing wrong".
Dun Scaith Ultima: The 24 man raid Dun Scaith, when first released, had a completely different third boss, the Succubus. After a certain FanFest (I forgot which FanFest) where players who attended got to do a fight with the Proto Ultima, they decided to change Dun Scaith's third boss to Proto Ultima. There is actually still a way for you to fight the original third boss, the Succubus, whereas ALL 24 players in that instance must not have accepted the Proto Ultima questline. As long as ONE of the 24 players in Dun Scaith has accepted the Proto Ultima questline, you will get Proto Ultima as the third boss.
0:00 Titan clear: Titan is one of the more notorious primals in FFXIV. This is probably a meme referring to a bug/glitch that would give you an instant win over one of the Titan fights.
King Moogle self-kill: Thornmarch and Thornmarch EX, are primal fights released in 2.2, so like... 6 years ago. In the Extreme version you would fight King Moogle and his 8 lackeys. Unlike most other fights, this one does not have a hard enrage. You are supposed to reduce the lackeys' HP to very low, but not zero, then kill one, the king would then refill all of the lackeys' HP to full at the cost of his own HP. You can only do this twice before the "enrage". Basically you damage the main boss by damaging the adds. If you just kill one lackey for example, the main boss would only lose a little of his HP, compared to a big chunk if you have all 8 at very low HP then kill one. After the second time of doing that, King Moogle will cast his Enrage, dealing a fix amount of... 30000 damage. The cast is super long, like 15-20 seconds. In 2.2, that is more than enough to kill everyone. But in 5.2 where everyone has 120k HP and the tanks have like 170k HP, if you do this fight unsync, no one would do it the legit way. They would just quickly kill 2 lackeys, then the main boss because unlike other hard enrages where it just outright kills you regardless of how much HP you have, this fight's enrage is fixed at... 30k damage per cast. Non healers can survive 5-8 casts, healer can survive infinite casts, so there is no point of doing this the correct way when unsync.
Urth's Fount (Extreme): This is a primal fight release in 2.5, where you fight Odin. This fight does not actually have an Extreme version, only a normal version. This is one of the few primal fights to not have an Extreme version. Urth's Fount Extreme is probably a meme related to this.
Koji Fox Vocals: Koji Fox is the lead of the English localisation team for FFXIV. He is famous for the plethora of pop culture references within the game, and also a lot of sexual innuendos. He is also a member of the FFXIV band along with Soken and other members, where he actually is the lead vocal. Some of the in-game OSTs are actually Koji's singing, namely "Locus" (Seeking the peace of reason, Sheep in a peaceless season...)
Warrior of Light is a primal: This is theorised long before, where... we the WOL, is a primal.
Y'shtola aethersight is killing her: After using her kaboom ultimate to escape in the conclusion of 2.5, she got lost in the Lifestream and became blind. She is now "seeing" with aethersight instead of her eyes, and it is theorised that if she keeps on doing this she will die.
Zenos died in Ala Mhigo: Zeno died in the conclusion of 4.0 after we fought him, he then body hopped to a resistance soldier then later body hopped back to his actual body, thanks to the artificial echo. This is a meme related to that.
Crowd Noise Lalafell: If you go to a crowded city and turn off all the sound excepts for the "Ambient Sound", you will hear a lot of chatters with occasion laughter and shouting. The lalafell noise definitely replays over and over along with the "UGHHH" sound right after. This is automatic and is part of the game even if no players are actually emoting. It's specifically Lalafell /happy voice 1.
Chocobo Summoning in House: A Chocobo as a mount and a choboco as a companion, under normal circumstances cannot be summoned in a house. There is probably a glitch that allows it, but I don't know about said glitch. It might also just be a meme.
Note: From this point onward (the third row), there appears to be less and less known features and more memes.
Desynthing Minion: Minion cannot be desynthesized. There might be a glitch that allows it, but I don't know about it. This is probably a meme.
Nanamo really died: Nanamo got "poisoned" in 2.5, we all thought she died back then but it turned out that she is still alive. It might be theorised that the current Nanamo we see is not real and the actual Nanamo actually died. This one is in the same line as the Zenos one. This one probably might just be a meme.
Miqo'te hidden human ear: Miqo'te have cat ears on top of their head instead of on the side. Probably just a meme.
Totorak Hard mode theme: Many of the old dungeons get a Hard mode version in later patches. Totorak is considered by many players to be long and tedious, especially if you get it in a leveling roulette. There is no Totorak Hard dungeon in the game, so this is probably a meme related to that.
Fattest Cat: Fat Cat is a minion. Fatter Cat is a mount. "Fattest Cat" is an easter egg found in the second boss of the LV70 dungeon "The Drowned City of Skalla", released in 4.1. You can see it here https://youtu.be/d6bUC9_Vy6M?t=132 This is actually an old FFXIV standard of naming skills, and some of it are still present to this day (Straight Shot -> Straighter Shot for example). Fattest Cat is probably a meme referring to that.
Midgardsormr blood in Mor Dhona: It is said that the blood of said dragon can be seen in Mor Dhona, but I think this is probably just a meme.
West Shroud: La Noscea has both Western La Noscea nad Eastern La Noscea, Thanalan has both Western Thanalan and Eastern Thanalan. The Black Shroud used to have both West Shroud and East Shroud in 1.x, West Shroud got removed in 2.0. Many players want the zone back.
A8S Temporal Loop: In A8S (The raid "The Burden of the Son" released in 3.2) if you ignore the mechanics for the 4 robots, it’s normally a party wipe. If you do it unsync, the wipe is actually possible to survive, but it’ll reset the fight to the beginning by respawning the first enemy robot if it detects any surviving players. The 3.x raid series/The Alexandre raid series also featured some time traveling elements, most notably in A12/A12S, where there is a mechanic that makes us go back in time to save ourselves in A11/A11S. The fights A11/A11S themselves have some foreshadowing to this too. This is probably a meme related to that.
Thancred still possessed: Thancred was possessed by Lahabrea back in ARR. He is now not possessed anymore so this is probably a meme saying that he is still possessed.
Lyhe Ghiah Door pattern: When doing treasure maps, sometimes you come across a portal that leads you to an instanced "dungeon". Within this place after you clear each floor you will get rewarded with gil and items, and the further you go, the more gil and the more valued items you would get, up to the very last floor. However between each floor you must choose between 2 to 3 doors. Choose right and you proceed to the next floor, choose wrong and you get booted out. The door choosing doesn't actually matter, it's just there for show, you have a set probability of success/failure regardless of which door you've chosen. Some people claimed that they can get the "correct" door every time by examining the patterns on the doors.
Estinien bathing scene: Apparently Estinien was wearing his blood-covered armour for like half of Heavensward, meaning he didn't take a bath for that much time periods. This is probably a meme related to that.
Zenos Sahagin theory: The MSQ part in 2.3, we came across a Sahagin Chef that can hop bodies with the help of the echoes. Zenos also did the same thing. This is probably a meme related to this.
Crystal Tower upside down: I don't actually know anything about this one but I guess it has something to do with the Mor Dhona's Crystal Tower and the Crystarium's Crystal Tower having different visuals.
Gold Saucer Ambient sound: If you teleport to the Gold Saucer and turn off all the sound except for the ambient sound, what you hear can be quite eerie/creepy, ironic to a supposed jovial-casino-themed establishment.
Hunger Bar: Hunger Bar is a reference to Minecraft where players have a bar displayed as drumsticks which regulates the player's certain abilities. In FFXIV we can have a meal, but we are not required to have a meal to function properly. This is a meme related to that.
Mahjong Fifth player: Mahjong is a 4-player game that was added in 4.4. So first I read this comment https://old.reddit.com/ffxiv/comments/hs0fi5/the_iceberg_of_final_fantasy_14_secrets_and/fy8292l/ but coincidentally, I am actually a semi-pro Mahjong player IRL. I have actually reached the highest rank (10th Dan) 8 months ago in November 2019, and I currently am the first and only 10th Dan player in FFXIV. I also have a really high rating. https://imgur.com/a/DTe2bNo This one I can personally confirm that there is no such thing as Gonma or 5th Mahjong player or any additional Mahjong questline in FFXIV. This is an obvious meme.
Unique Scylla Robe: The "Scylla's Robe of Casting" and "Scylla's Robe of Healing" are drops from the 24-man raid Syrcus Tower. Their similarity in visual between the 2 robes are probably what made this meme.
Reflection Texture: Mirrors exist in the FFXIV universe. Some housing items are actually mirrors, like this makeup set https://imgur.com/a/6l2BVWT, but as you can see it is always deliberately covered, because reflection texture in game would probably be too much, hence this meme.
Exarch clone: Probably a meme related to the many Crystal Exarch clones running amok, and one we've seen in the 2019 Halloween event.
Dress up Flash game on Mog station: Probably a meme related to Fantasia.
Triple Triad empty card: A glitch occurred in a Triple Triad game in which you have an empty card. There was actually a thread and a video about this glitch, but I cannot find it right now. I will update this post when I find it.
Note: Most of the terms in the bottom row are memes.
Dialectics of the Baldesion Arsenal: Baldesion Arsenal or simply BA, is a 54-man dungeon released in 4.55 with the latest installment of Eureka, Hydatos. Eureka itself is kinda like a totally different world compared to the rest of the game (both literally and metaphorically). When Eureka was in its prime, instances were often full, and if you zoned in a Eureka instance you would find things on /shout chat like: "Is Louhi up?", "LFG NM prep", "lfg train", "Please rez at (x;y)". BA probably has the same kind of abbreviations referring to strategies, probably even more obscure that led to the birth of this meme.
Stone Sea Sky Numerology: Stone Sea Sky or simply SSS is a featured first released in 3.0, which "mimics" certain fights (often Extreme Primal and High-End Savage Raids), in the form of a dummy with a set amount of HP. This amount changes depending on which job you are. It is supposed to be a personal DPS check to see whether you have the DPS to clear the encounter, it might or might not be accurate. This is a meme related to that.
Thancred Infertile: Probably a meme related to Thancred's inability of having children.
Black Parse: Parsing is the act of using ACT (heh) or Advanced Combat Tracker, a 3rd party tool to calculate one's DPS. A parse can also be called a "log", and said log can be uploaded to a website called "FFlogs", which ranks players based on those logs. Each fight and job has their own percentile of DPS, and each percentile tier has a colour associated with it, with 0-25 being grey, 26-49 being green, 50-74 being blue, 75-94 being purple, 95-99 being orange and 100 being gold, hence terms like "Grey parse", "Orange parse". There is no percentile that has the colour black, so this is a meme related to that.
Lord of Verminion Tournament: Lord of Verminion is a mini game added way back in 3.1, you can go to the Gold Saucer upper floor and play with another player. It's basically a MOBA where you control your minions to defeat your opponent's. The game is actually quite fun, I enjoy it from time to time, but there are not many people playing it. There is also a bi-weekly tournament of this game, but the number of participants can be so low that you might see the same names on the leaderboard every time.
PoTD RNG sampling uses number stations: PoTD or Palace of the Dead is a rogue-like randomised dungeon where you must kill monsters on a floor to proceed to the next floor. The layout of each floor is completely random. A numbers station is a shortwave radio station characterized by broadcasts of formatted numbers, which are believed to be addressed to intelligence officers operating in foreign countries. An obvious meme.
Roulette Synchronicity: If you queue for a Duty Roulette, you cannot get a dungeon that has the ilevel surpassing your current ilevel. Many players abused this to get the dungeons they desire, preferably a quick and easy one.
Guildhest parallel universe: Guildhests are... instanced duties like other instanced duties in the game, but less prominent. Some are actually required to progress with the MSQ, but there were no new Guildhests since 2.0. Probably a meme related to that.
Simultaneous Aurum Vale: Aurum Vale is a LV47 dungeon and is notorious because of the jump in difficulty compared to many preceding dungeons. Players suddenly kinda have to know what they are doing and play at least moderately decently, and a small mistake can easily lead to a wipe. Many players express grudge against this particular dungeon. This is probably a meme related to that.
Thank you all if I use any of the threads that you started. Edit 1: Thank you very much for the medal! Edit 2: I was able to clarify a few terms and make some adjustments thanks to the people commenting below.
Mary’s cup became full as the waiter poured the substance. The wine smelled of grapes and memories, strong, intoxicating, yet a substance that would soon disappear. Across the table sat her boyfriend, a cool man. She couldn’t exactly call him cold, but cool. His short black hair shined from a slight greasing, his green eyes hidden by the dim lights of the restaurant. His eyes traced her face for a reason she didn’t fully understand. He wanted her mouth, slightly aroused, she sensed. Around them, people chatted politely, minding their manners. The noise echoed in a unison, one and yet apart. The wood beneath her feet vibrated to the motion of others. Servers came to the beck and call of their guests. People wore designer clothing of all colors, not gaudy, suited for the evening in the respectable atmosphere. Perhaps they demanded respect, Mary thought to herself. She pulled a long strand of blonde hair rudely behind her ear. “So, Alex? Are you going to be coming to dinner on Thursday night with my parents?” “I have prior engagements,” he replied. The tone of his voice stood aloft, distant with his mind distracted by work, by rituals. The white shirt he wore reflected the light and neglected the stains. “It would mean a lot to me if you could cancel those plans,” Mary said. Alex ignored her. Mary hated Alex sometimes. He was always about himself, never caring about her needs and wants. Her gown annoyed her, and she shifted in the seat, not sure of how to respond. “May I ask, are you ready for the check?” The waiter asked, a tall man much like a tree in a hidden forest. “Yes, please.” Annoyed, frustrated, and angry Mary marched into the parking lot with the will of a private ready for battle. The slick black car came to life as Alex hit the button. The rain saturated outside smelled seductively of flowers and paradise. Somewhere, Mary couldn’t find. “I’m sick of it, Alex!” “You’re sick of what, Mary? You’re so emotional.” He opened her car door. “I can do that myself.” “I’m sure you could,” Alex replied. His eyes traced her legs and projected an air of forgiveness. A flower is designed by nature to look beautiful. “It’s always all about you!” “Not again, Mary.” His tone became hostile and dominating. “What? You don’t want to listen to me?” “I can hear you as clear as day,” Alex responded. The moon peeked out of the clouds. Mary turned her attention the homeless man on the street. The world is so cruel, she thought. A few weeks passed, and Mary’s depression grew into a monster consuming her. The nights rattled with words she didn’t want to hear, the light rose and fell from the sky, not caring about taking its time, and the cat wouldn’t stop meowing. That damn cat, Mary thought. I fed him already. The droll drum of life pulled at her. She tried to open a book but lacked the appetite to read it. Some romance. Something she didn’t have. Something more. Love needs to be nurtured, she told herself. Love needs to be whole. I need love in my life. She left her house and went outside to her car. The green paint reflected the strong glare of the sun. By that time, it was almost noon. A breeze blew through the area, a few misfits left their high trees destined to dry up and little wherever they went. Mary stopped at a little diner on the outskirts of the city, the area humble and modest, boasting only about the fried chicken on the menu. “What can I get you?” The server asked. “I’d like a salad with extra tomatoes,” she replied. “Comin’ right up!” The crisp lettuce and crunchy croutons rolled around her mouth, satisfying her hunger. Around her sat the regulars. She knew them well, as she stopped in this small place often. Bob, an old man with a white beard eyed her from across the room. He turned away, and Mary couldn’t see the expression on his face but could smell the musk of his body a mile away. It interested her senses, not repulsing them. Mark came out of the kitchen. “Hey, Mary,” Mark said in an enthusiastic tone. “What’s in the head?” “The usual, boring life, boyfriend problems, and school.” “Problems are easy to solve when one wants a solution.” “Not for me.” “Sometimes, the simplest solution is the best. Ever heard of Occam’s razor?” he returned. “Then again, “Eyes can only see what he [or she] is seeking.” “What?” “Oh, ignore me. I’m a philosophy junkie, remember?” “Yeah, yeah.” “I love knowledge. The end justifies the means.” “If you say so.” “Well, I have to get back to work. We all know only fools get philosophy degrees. Socrates died just the same.” His red hair shifted as he pushed the plastic door open and went back to frying that good old chicken. I don’t understand him, Mary said to herself. Mary drove to the park. The nice afternoon inspired her feelings, and she let her mind wander in fantasy. The words made no sense to her, the feelings did. A homeless man woke up from the adjacent park bench and came over to her. “Do you got change?” The asked. Pulled from her thoughts, Mary was slightly surprised. “Um, yeah, sure.” The man moaned in pain. “Are you okay, sir?” Mary asked. “I’ve got them years on me. They tattle on old bones. You don’t happen to have a cigarette, do you?” “No, no, I don’t smoke.” “You’ll live longer.” Mary didn’t know what to say. She felt so much sympathy for this man. He seemed so kind and gentle. What had he done to deserve such a fate? “I’ll tell how I feel,” the man said. He grunted a little more. “I grew up in there Mississippi. My mom did the best she could in rags, and my dad had a love of them women, the kind who like shiny things. One night, we went to the casino for a good meal, as dad had promised my mother. We ate it up good then couldn’t pay. So we got ourselves banned from the place. I’ve rambled around the gutters ever since cause my momma left pa, and I’ve seen all sorts of fools and wise men. When they’re in that environment, you can’t tell them apart. I’m trying to get me, my woman back. She has a habit and had been on the streets again. I tell her it over and over, it ain’t gonna heal nothing. Stones are graves, too” “I’m so sorry to hear that.” “What did you ever do?” “Nothing.” “Well, then, I best be on my way. Thanks for the cash. It’s not enough for a woman, but I can get some of that fine whiskey.” A duck followed by spring’s ducklings made their way to the small lake. What a cute sight, she told herself. They know just what to do. Mary walked across the park to the zin garden. Many of the blossoms reached toward the sun, full of the light’s radiance. The plants were strong and green. The dirt stayed humble. Some people have rotten luck. They try and try but don’t get anywhere. What a wicked world. “Do you know what time it is?” A man asked her. She turned around and saw him dressed in comfortable attire, a jogging suit with a coffee stain. The sight relaxed her. “It’s two.” “Thanks, my name is Roger. What is yours?” “I’m Mary,” she replied. “Would you like to walk around the pond with me? I know they call it a lake, but it isn’t.” He smelled like a man’s sweat, inspiring. “Sure.” “So, what’s your story?” He asked. “I don’t have a story,” she replied. ‘Everyone has a story…” “I guess. I had a normal childhood, lots of friends and parties, but I felt and still feel empty somehow like I’m missing something.” “Love.” “Yes, love.” Mary’s cheeks flushed at the thought. The emotion possessed her. “It’s definitely a strong emotion. I like strong emotions.” “Why?” “Because they’re wild and free, but they don’t beat the grave.” “Ah, yes, we have but a short time on Earth,” Mary replied. She knew Roger could see her flush. For some reason, she liked that. They went around the lake and then parted ways. He slipped her a piece of paper with his number on it. She shoved it into her pocket quickly. When she arrived to her car, she sighed. Later that night, she toyed with the phone. She didn’t want to call him too quickly, didn’t want to appear too desperate. Her cat annoyed her again. “Buttercup, shut up!” She yelled. The cat turned around and showed Mary her butt. Love is an emotion! Love is a great thing! What is the purpose of life but to love? A few days passed, and she became bold enough to dial Roger’s number. “Hello,” he responded. “Yes, hi, I had a great time with you at the park.” “I had a great time with you, too. I don’t want to be too quick, but would you like to come over to my apartment? I’ll text you the address. I have a few friends over.” “I’d love to!” Mary grabbed the expensive purse that Alex bought for her from Italy. The leather still appeared brand new, like desire. The apartment’s crumbled exterior fell beyond humble, but Mary didn’t care. An urge drove her, compelled her to move forward. “It’s great to see you. This is John, Randy, and Bill.” The men wore greasy t-shirts. They held glasses of whiskey and Bill had a joint. So different, Mary thought. The five sat down on the smelly sofa. “Would you like a blunt?” Roger asked Mary. “Um, I don’t do drugs.” “You have to try them if you’ve never done them. We have to broaden our experience, man. I’ll get you something to drink, too, to loosen you up.” “Thanks,” Mary said. The liquor burned as it went down her throat. The weed relaxed her muscles and her mind. She felt open to the world and it closed on hers. Her mind became fuzzy like fizz. Soon, she felt hands on her. In a surprise, she pulled away, but her body lacked strength. Roger went inside her. His face kept pulsing and lights changed colors around his body. She laughed and felt a rush of sensation. “I’m so stoned. This is so cool,” she told him. He carried on, happier than ever. They both were. There. Together. Forever.
Written by Fortanono Edited by dwright5252, AdamantAce << Previous | Next >> ≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈ 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. ≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈ “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.”
I almost posted this whole thing in the thread about "controversial star wars opinions" but realized I was basically story boarding a new version of the last two episodes. So as not to take away from that much funnier and lighter thread - I've copied my thoughts over to here, for your judgement. (Bonus Points: My controversial opinion is that Ben Solo is strong enough to force heal Rey without dying) Some things I'd like to throw out first: The sequels we got were fine, they didn't have all the magic of the first 6 episodes for me, but they had some good high moments. This might be the totally wrong sub for this - if it is tell me and I'll just go ahead and delete it. That being said, I think there was a possibility for a better story, and I'd like y'alls judgement on my take. So here we go: TLDR: Scrap a lot of 9, a little of 8, better and more solid closure on the whole 9 movies. If I was omnipotent I'd go back and do the following: Episode 7: The Force Awakens - Unsurprisingly this movie gets a pass - it has so much set up potential and the only things I'd change would be nitpicky details. Episode 8: The Last Jedi - Scrap the casino plot from episode 8, give Finn and Rose something meaningful to do, that somehow revealed the Palpatine twist, they head for the ruins of the Death Star on the moon of Endor. The ruins here are unstable and guarded by First Order Troops. They sneak in and here they find reference to the old cloning station on Kamino, now abandoned with hundreds of discarded and dead Sheev's inside as well as mentally busted and horribly aged clones from the clone wars, yes you'd lose the marketing twist but the story would be better. There should be notes and information found that shows the clones of Sheev were all failures because for some reason, none of them could use The Force. They were just as evil and ruthless, but without being able to use the Force the original Sheev couldn't pass into the new body for fear of losing his power. All this can be verbally exposited but have Finn reading a screen and basically have an "Oh shit you need to read this" moment, but right as he says it the ruins start to crumble some more, they make it out but stumble into First Order soldiers whom they fight off. They flee, back to the small ship they were on and return to the resistance fleet. For added character development for Finn, let him have a realization that although being ripped away from his family to become a storm trooper was bad, he feels even worse for the clones, who were just created out of war, for war and would die in war. The Rey and Kylo scene should still take place and Kylo should still kill Snoke, and still be anger fueled at seeing his old Master when Luke projects himself there for the duel, but Luke needs to say something to shake him, he needs to do a bit more verbal arguing back and forth (a la duel of the fates) and where Anakin didn't listen, Kylo does. At first it seems Luke might be getting through to him, so he lets his guard down, but he says something about Han and Ben loses it again, slices through Luke revealing the projection. Rey still gets everyone out on the Falcon. On the Falcon, Finn and Rose reveal to the crew what they found about Kamino, and Finn explains that the information he found says the Sith were building a new Clone Army called "The Final Order" on their secret base - location, unknown. Just before the final credits, Kylo is staring at the shattered remains of his helmet onboard his ship, "Very good my new apprentice" says the voice of Palpatine which the camera pans up to reveal came from a hologram "Snoke was merely a tool, a means to an end, and weak. But you are clearly strong and capable, like your Grand Father, Lord Vader." Kylo looks up at the hologram and we cut to black. Credits Roll. Episode 9 - Rise of The Jedi Open it with our main crew of Poe Finn and Rose landing the Falcon on the abandoned cloning station of Kamino, Rey is noticeably absent, the crew on Kamino search for data about the "The Final Order" and they also uncover that that Palpatine finally made a Clone of himself capable of using the force and that he had planned to use it to cheat death. After this discovery they fight off mad clones who still think they're in the war. Next we see Rey, on the island with the first temple, she's communing with Luke, who's teaching her, we get a short montage with other Jedi: Yoda, Anakin and Windu all show up in one moments with Rey trying to help her train. She feels more and more frustrated as certain parts of the force feel difficult for her. She snaps and gets mad, walking off to meditate alone. We see her meditating, a robed figure comes up behind and Rey says something to the effect of "not now Master Luke, blah blah..." And we hear the voice of Kenobi "is that any way to greet your grandfather?" - we learn the backstory that Obi-Wan and Satine did in fact have a child, whom Obi-Wan hid away, he wasn't force sensitive but he still sadly gave him away to protect him, knowing Vader would hunt him regardless. When Obi-Wan's son had a child who was force sensitive from a young age, he did the same, abandoning his child on a far away planet with the hopes of hiding her from the dark side. Obi-Wan trains her in more powerful force techniques, with Yoda assisting, commenting on how it reminded them of Dagobah. Rey realizes Luke isn't there and asks where he is. The Crew on Kamino end up finding data saying that they were shipping tons of cloning equipment to Exegol but no one knows where this supposed planet is. As they find this data and finish fending off the clones, Finn has a moment where he accidentally uses The Force to save Rose from a falling piece of debris. They end up having to fight off hundreds of clones, and Finn again notes how he's happy to at least be a real person instead of a soul-less clone, Poe and Rose confront him and ask him if just used the force. Meanwhile, Kylo is summoned to Exegol, Palpatine calls him weak, and full of doubt, but by killing the Last Jedi he would become more powerful than his Grandfather could ever dream. Hearing even from Palpatine that he's weak shake Kylo, he begins to lash out. He returns to his ship, ready to start hunting Rey, and in his chamber a force conversation takes place between the two, a duel on the Island Temple/Kylo's Ship (like they did in the actual movie, showing the force bond between the two) they fight until Kylo realizes where she is and Luke breaks the duel. Kylo realized where she was and sends the order to go to the island and his ship heads off. In his chambers, Luke appears to Kylo, and when Kylo swipes at him with a lightsaber, it passes through him. Dejected, he switches off the blade. Luke proceeds to apologize to Kylo - explain that he was wrong and that he let fear turn him into something he wasn't proud of. Kylo starts to break down - he went to Palpatine in hopes that Palpatine would make him strong in the ways Snoke couldn't. Luke explains that the compassion and regret he's feeling don't make him a weak sith, they make him a powerful Jedi. After some arguing and heart to heart about his Father, Ben "kills" Kylo Ren by destroying the horrible lightsaber he'd been using and smashing the Kyber Crystal under his foot. Palpatine immediately senses this disturbance and sends and order to Hux to have Ben Solo killed. Ben sends a quick emergency message to Rey and takes his fighter where he crashes on a frozen Hoth and hides in the destroyed rebel base. Rey receives the message from while scanning for communications from the Falcon and with Obi-Wan and Yoda's approval, she heads out in her X wing to rescue Ben. The Crew of Poe, Finn and Rose return to the Resistance and inform Leia of the new information they've uncovered about the Final order, Exegol and the possibility of a returned Emperor, the Resistance puts out the word and sends messengers to the corners of the galaxy. Leia also begins coughing up some blood and collapses. The medics say she never fully recovered from being blasted into space. She's put on bedrest and command of the Resistance falls to Finn and Poe. Rey lands on Hoth, and finds a nearly frozen Ben, hidden away in an old Rebel base fixing his fighter, he barely got the shields running and he knows Hux is coming for him. Luke and Obi-Wan appear to the pair, both explaining and apologizing for past mistakes, and pressing on them that its up to the two of them to make things right. Luke shows them where he stashed lightsaber components and Kyber crystals, for the first time in the whole series we see two Jedi construct their light sabers, Rey wants to create a green blade but with assistance from Obi-Wan creates the signature yellow blade, which Obi-Wan informs her is quite rare, meanwhile Ben, with guidance from Luke creates a classic blue. The two finish their blades right as Hux's star destroyer comes out of lightspeed. The pair hop into their fighters and after a chase around Hoth's deserted battlefields with tie fighters the two manage to launch into hyperspace. Rey contacts Poe, and they meet up at the Resistance base. Chewie wants to shoot Ben, but Rey vouches for him and he gets to reunite with his mother one last time before she passes. Chewie sees this and makes a promise to Leia to forgive Ben. Just as Finn and Poe inform the crew that they've got messengers in the corners of the galaxy looking for fighters and Ben explains that he knows where the emperor is and how to get there, Hux tracks Ben's fighter to the base and sends troops to capture or kill them. Big ground battle, pilots in the air, Poe and Finn take to the sky in a fighter, the resistance has to evac, Chewie sacrifices himself to save the group, taking Ben's fighter, arming the torpedoes and flying directly into one of the star destroyer's engines, causing it to crash into another destroyer and temporarily Rey and Ben fight off storm troopers and help with the evac, hoping aboard the Falcon and with Rey doing some fancy flying, Ben turrets down some tie fighters before the group departs. The regroup with the fleet on the cloud city of bespin, Lando Calrissian has gotten together an armada of resistance and rebel solider and pilots and they're going to take the fight to the Emperor himself. They load up and Ben shows them how to navigate the treacherous path to Exegol. Similar final battle, especially up in the air combat. On the ground things go slightly differently, the Knights of Ren try to stop Ben and Rey but they fight their way to his throne. As their fighting, Luke appears before the Emperor and start talking to him, going back and forth about how the Jedi are strong and the dark side is a path of fear and cowardice. As the argument starts to grow heated, Rey and Ben burst in, fighting the Emperor and his guards together. While they're distracted with the guards, the emperor uses lightning to temporarily paralyze the resistance fleet with his lightning. Finally Rey and Ben defeat the guards only for The Emperor to turn his lightning on them. He calls Ben weak and Rey no better than an exile, like their Grandfathers. The two are barely holding the lightning back with their lightsabers. As the Emperor is zapping them he begs them to turn on each other and the winner can be his apprentice. We see the two lock eye contact and their resolve is temporarily in question. As they lock eyes we hear a voice "Oh, I don't think so" and Obi-wan fades into view, "you may have turned us against each other" says Anakin also fading into view, "but they're stronger than you will ever become" Luke says. "old and frail, you have become, the end of the sith, this shall be" Yoda adds in. Slowly more and more fallen Jedi fade in as force ghosts. The Emperor retorts with "Once I kill you both and drain your power, I will be the most powerful sith in the galaxy" Mace Windu replies "Not yet". The Force Ghost Jedi all reach out their hands, lending Ben and Rey their strength, and they are able to turn his lightning back on him and with the help of the past Jedi channeling their strength through them they cut the Emperor off from the force. As this is happening we see the Star Destroyers beginning to crash to the ground, the planet starts to destabilize as explosions rock its surface, the Falcon swings in and picks up a battered Rey and Ben, and the group flees the planet. Cut to Rey and Ben, on a new planet, its the capital of the New Galactic Republic, they're exiting an award ceremony, together, talking about the future of the Jedi and what they want to teach them, Finn Poe and Rose show up, they all make a big show of addressing Poe as General, Finn wants to study at the new Jedi academy since he's discovered to be force sensitive. They finish walking and talking and arrive at the temple, nearly completely constructed. They walk inside and at the entrance are statues of the old Jedi, Anakin, Luke, Obi-Wan and Yoda followed by other such as Windu, Ashoka, and more. At the base of Luke's statue, encased behind glass in front of it, Luke's broken light saber. Poe and Rose go off to attend to some other matter, Rey and Ben walk inside, Finn following behind after saying good bye to Rose. Rey and Ben stand at the front of a small meditation room there are a number of young men and women as well as children, in Padawan robes, Finn enters in his own Padawan robes. Rey recites the same speech Luke gave her on how to reach out and feel the force, Ben and her exchange a look. He explains to the pupils how they're the future of the Jedi, and how the galaxy needs them now more than ever, to help guide the Republic towards a better future. Cut to black. Obviously these aren't quite complete, and it's little more than a storyboarded-fanfic, but since the other post here inspired me to write this, I thought I'd share it with you all. Feel free to tell me its good, bad, ugly, or anything in between. May the Force be with you all.
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