So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby asteconn » Sun Dec 10, 2017 8:42 pm

I like it! Carry on.

Needs some identifiers on whom is saying what on the dialogues though - had to read a couple of times to figure it out.

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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby SockFiddler » Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:47 pm

Spend 10 minutes in any bar on any port and you'll hear wing-weary jocks muse (with fake melancholy) over the things that keep them awake at night. They do this to justify the gleeful abandon with which they open fire, chase and kill anything that flashes up red on the KWS. They do this to demonstrate that they are not merely soulless killers. They do this to convince themselves that they are, in fact, part of The Solution.

Listen closer and you'll hear how they are haunted by questions of their defeated foes that have gone unanswered; what were their crimes? What did they look like? Did they have families? They have, after all, ended a life with incredible and sudden violence - isn't it just proper that they'd take a beat to acknowledge the human impact of that? It's all bullshit and bravado, of course, but - perhaps - there's a grain of truth to their drunken confessions (as they skim tens of credits off chips laden with millions, all earned from chasing bounties) made to each other over the only truly unifying force in the galaxy: booze.

I suffer from no such unanswered curiosity. When I fight I do something that no other Ship Fucker does. Even the A-Team are surprised at my need to scan every, single one of these space assholes and get as close to their deck as I can before they explode. I search for their faces; the look of shock and horror; I have learned their names and their systems of origin. I know whether they have family. And I sleep just fine.

That's more bullshit. Of course. My point is, these assholes (or their state-sanctioned murders) aren't what keeps me awake at night.

An oft-heard complaint about people who hunt people is that we're acting as judge, jury and executioner; that we can't possibly know everything before making the decision to lock onto target and squeeze the trigger. But that's crap that gets spread about to settle an uncomfortable truth between people who like to think the Galaxy runs smoothly under tidy authoritarian control and don't want to know exactly how the sausage gets made.

The truth is, people like me, we're just the axe. Someone else is swinging us, someone else has listened and decided and passed that judgment. Whether it's the Federation, the Alliance or the Empire, we're just the sharpened edge on that final swing of galactic justice. We didn't post these bounties any more than we attended their trials. But someone did, and I scan every single one of those motherfuckers before I open fire so that I know exactly who they are before getting close enough to be certain that they know they are taking their last, fucked up breath before they explode.

A space-murder (accidental or otherwise) will earn a bounty of, maybe, 6,000 credits. Some of these assholes have half-million credit bounties, and that's just the shit people know about and were able to make stick. If a murderer gets 6k, imagine what you have to do to earn a price worth 100 times that. Or, you know, just read their KWS - its interesting, horrifying stuff.

Trafficking children in Belugas for high-paying clients. Running drug-laced food for Kingpins to famine-struck systems. Smuggling banned weapons to the highest paying sides of a desperate civil war. Don't even start me on what they do to women (those pimps gotta get those kids from somewhere). No, it's fine for the majority of people to shut their eyes to both the fact that this shit happens and to the fact that all 3 super powers have created a "justice" system where they literally don't even have to sully themselves to clean their own mess up. But I'm not cool with these same people to then point their fingers at me and lump me in with these assholes.

For the record, though we dabble in crime and smuggling, we're most definitely on the good side of the Justice Line here. We're buzzing about in the Space between your happy lives, getting rid of the scum your own beloved overlords can't be arsed to protect you from. So the next time you're in that space bar, rolling your eyes at the stories of fake-horror and melancholy, bear that in mind, eh?

...which is exactly what I should write in my reply to Nari. But it's been three days since the communication came in, and I can still only manage to stare hopelessly at the words on the screen before curling up in my bunk and failing to sleep for 6 hours. Then it's hard, dirty liquor and flying around with my trusty KWS looking for some actual assholes to kill. Because - no matter what Nari might say - there are far worse people in the Galaxy than me, and she and her judgmental "I thought you'd be better than this" shit need to fuck off out of my head and let me sleep now.

As I finish recording my data-rant, almost doubled over in my seat with fury by the time I get to the end, I realise that Not-Dave is standing behind me. I drop the voice recorder and slump further across my legs, eager to avoid whatever sermon he is about to deliver. But, instead, he quietly walks close enough to me to place a hand gently on my shoulder, giving it a slow, long squeeze before silently padding away again. This small, unexpected gesture is too much for me, and I crumble into weeping that I've probably held back for too long. It's almost too much to consider that I haven't been completely abandoned yet.

Maybe I'll sleep again, after all.
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby *Al* » Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:35 pm

Sock's I have said it before and I say it again.
Kill them, kill them all!

Now rest up woman, more work to do....

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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby TorTorden » Mon Dec 11, 2017 4:38 pm

I'm building my chorus to sing me into Valhalla.
Currently 24 000 strong.

Aiming for 30k.
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby SockFiddler » Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:35 am

Tor was right: The Vulture is the bird for me. 19 million credits worth of "Fuck you" with a hair-trigger throttle and ludicrously over-sized guns. It is coloured bright pink and it is called "That's Not My Finger..."

I am in love.

Tor and I have accepted a multi-million credit contract to kill pirates belonging to a local outfit who have taken to harassing minsters at the local resource extraction site. This isn't an uncommon arrangement (see: rant on crime), and after buying the Vulture, I am down to my last 5 million - which is a strange thing to say given that it wasn't so long ago that I only had less than 1k, a crate of fake booze, the clothes I stood up in and a 'winder to my name. However, aside from the contract payout, there are also bounties to collect on these assholes, and Tor's view is that it presents us with an excellent opportunity to get me into the Vulture with my hardpoints (and guns) out. Ha ha.

The Vulture is nimble and super-responsive. It is designed to get up close and personal - exactly how I fly - but we've modified her thrusters and plant to give her a little more oomph. She easily breaks 400 when boosting and is a hyperactive, surprisingly light machine to fly.

We drop out of supercruise and approach the target area eyeing our scanners. All is quiet to start with, just a few miners in haulers and T9's, the occasional flash of a mining beam in among the rocks of the ring system we're currently browsing. Then, off to our right, weapons flash and a pirate vessel swings into view.

"Wanted Cutter, wing of 2, think he's with a Cobra. Scanning..."

Before Tor has finished speaking, we are both dropping to position around this pair. Tor's Lucy drifts gracefully down in front of the Cutter's nose while I hover over his back and target his power plant. His wingman - in a Cobra - buzzes past my nose, but I ignore him for now, waiting for Tor to open up his beam lasers. A split second later, and the Cutter is firing thrusters and swooping forward, weapons targeted on Tor whose shields don't even flicker under this assault. I squeeze my trigger and my heavy pulse's throb into life, repeatedly marking a specific spot on the cutter's spine, between its wings, as I match its speed and vector.

The wingman is smart enough to realise that, of the pair of us, Tor isn't the most immediate threat and spins round to make another approach at me. Tor growls at me over the coms to stay on target, and I boost forward just enough to let the Cobra soar over my head, missing me by metres. Below, the cutter's power plant starts to spark and fizz and, shortly after, its lights go out. We leave him there, helpless and waiting, while we circle about to deal with the Cobra.

Now out-matched by two foes, the Cobra seems less sure of itself and changes its swoop-dive-fire pattern. Now it tries to spin and wind between Tor's beams, pulling up hard to arch over the corvette's nose. But I am further off and can turn far faster than the Cobra - keeping him in view is easy work and we make short order of his shields. I glance at the KWS, make a mental note of the shit-tastic crimes this asshole has committed to earn a 130k bounty and pull my nose up into an intercept angle, spinning 180 degrees so that we will be canopy-to-canopy. The pilot doesn't seem to see me as my weapons tear away the rest of his hull; he is frantically pressing console buttons and hauling for all his worth on the stick.

When the Cobra is no more than a scattered patch of debris, I spin about to face the Cutter once more. This asshole has had more time to watch and contemplate, and he has a plan. He has retracted his hard points and his cockpit lights are flashing red: I guess he has initiated his self-destruct sequence and throw more power to my shields as I move in for the kill. He flicks me the bird as my pulse lasers rip through first his canopy and then his flight suit: I am not insulted by his gesture.

A python next, which Tor stays close to but lets me handle. I dance over its back, reeling away from it as it turns to try to get a weapons fix on me, its enormous railguns spinning pointlessly ahead. Its end is swift and, by the time it blooms into a flower of fire, the python hadn't hit me a single time.

We chase and scan and shoot for several hours more; occasionally I get my approach wrong and find myself in the direct line of fire, but my shields hold and the bird flies true; I trust that I am the fastest-turning vessel in the zone, and even if faced with another Vulture, I just need to spin my opponent around and into Tor's corvette weapon fire to regain the advantage.

Just as we are about to call a halt and restock, A 'conda jumps into range. Wanted, with a huge bounty, it immediately twists to face us, deploys 2 fighters and starts scanning us.

"Time to graduate," murmurs Tor, taking a couple of pot-shots at the conda's nose to focus its attention while I twist away to its flank and then drop and turn so I am staring up at its belly. But its pilot won't be so easily taken and responds by twisting his hull side-onto me, blocking my shot at his power plant. I re-angle but guess wrong about the conda's direction and find myself immediately in front of it.

The conda sears my hull with a few scorching shots, stripping half my shields away in just a couple of seconds. I boost up and over its nose, flipping my bird's nose over her ass and spinning her so that I am, once again, lying along the conda's back. Tor opens up Lucy's full range of artillery, missiles exploding along the conda's hull as the 'vette appears to balance and spin on the point of its nose with beautiful, graceful ease.

The fighters - two Taipans - spin and wheel around Tor's vessel, aiming at shield boosters in an effort to break through and then incapacitate him while their 'conda keeps Tor's attention at the front. There is a moment when it feels like the fight might be slipping away from us, but I twist away from my position over the 'conda's back and, with full throttle and boost, aim my nose at one of the Taipans. I hit the little ship at full-pelt, knocking it away, spinning helplessly into the black. I round on the other fighter, already turning to power back to its 'conda, and I pursue, finally taking it down as the 'conda twists out of Tor's line of fire to see where I've gone.

Now both Tor and I are targeting the conda's power plant which - with shield power diverted to the conda's full weapons array - is less protected than it should be and quickly succumbs to our fire. The giant machine is dead in the black, and we make short work of its hull as I position myself for one last glory-run, throwing full power to my shields and ramming the bastard in the face. He blooms around my nose, hull debris bouncing along my bird as I shoot through the fireball.

Tor's vette floats into view and we are face-to-face for a moment. He sends me a wave, I flash my lights in return. Then he says "Let's go home," before sending me the target cords for our local port. We have earned - with both our totals in bounties and pay-outs combined - more than 11 million credits. More importantly, I have killed 19 pirates, none of whom had a bounty less than 100k.

"You're welcome, solar system," I murmur as I request docking and make my approach. But as I touch down and disembark, I see Dawg and Al waiting in the space-hut by my landing pad.

"What's up, Gents?" I ask as I enter the hut, sealing the airlock behind me and removing my helmet; they are both looking terribly serious.

"Time for a road-trip, Socks," says Al in his gentle, thoughtful voice, "You're getting a bit serious out there."

"Dunno what you mean," I say, "I feel fine."

"That could be the problem," says Dawg. "You're normally gleeful; ecstatic; unbridled. You're never just fine."

I shrug and shake my head, suddenly uncomfortable with my crewmates. "I was concentrating, that's all. There was a lot of big shit out there today."

But the truth is, I wasn't having the most glorious time of my life out there, like I normally do, whooping and screaming, back-talking and calling out the targets. I was silent, focused and utterly unamused, and I realise (with an odd sinking feeling) that this has been the case since I got that fucking missive from Nari. And I am now suddenly resentful that anyone else has noticed this. I feel criticised and vulnerable; intruded upon, and I bite off a stilted "Fuck you, whatever," as I try to push past Al to get into the port-proper.

But Al moves his hand to my forearm and grips it tightly, and Dawg will not yield to let me pass by him. His tone belies his serious expression as he repeats Al's words, for his voice is warm and gentle, almost fatherly as he murmurs, "Let's go on a road trip, just us three. Let's take a break."

"What? Where to?" I recognise that the only course of action here is to yield and agree, but I am still trying to put up a fight. But I realise that it's not them I'm angry at; it's me. And suddenly I am tired. So, so tired and I need to stop and breathe and look around a bit: my body feels as heavy as on a 3G planet and my head and thoughts are suddenly clouded. So I nod and relax my stance and let them guide me to the hangar where they have been preparing for departure.

"Oh, you're fucking kidding me..." I murmur as I see the vessel I am to travel in, for it is Al's gloriously silly dolphin, "The Pearl Diver".

"Welcome aboard, Socks!" says Al proudly, indicating the open cabin door and gesturing me inside. "Dawg's taking his python, but I thought you'd appreciate traveling in style."

"Style? A dolphin?"

"Don't judge her yet..."

"Don't let Lori hear you."

"Make yourself at home, girl, and let's be off."

And thus began My Exciting and Recuperative Adventure With Dawg and Al.
"Drink fast, die young"
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby TCStall » Wed Dec 13, 2017 4:52 am

This is entertaining as hell.
Nice job.
Guess that's it.
o7

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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby SockFiddler » Wed Dec 13, 2017 5:44 am

Al is a softly-spoken fellow who seems to enjoy quietly bucking trends. I can't tell whether this is because he genuinely believes that everyone else is incorrect about something, or because he just wants to see if he can, but either way, if there's a different path to be trodden somewhere, you can bet Al's already halfway down it.

The dolphin that was seemingly purchased purely to annoy Lori has - somehow - been turned into a multi-million credit enterprise. It has been outfitted with sumptuous rooms, a galley (serving fresh, not reconstituted, food) and every possible luxury you can imagine. My room aboard The Pearl Diver is furnished with every item you'd expect to see in a Terrestrial hotel room, a fully-fitted self-cleaning bathroom, even soft, fluffy towels and a deep, cosy bathrobe. The decor is dark and muted, soft silks and velvets in forest green and deep, midnight blues and the entire room is designed to pull your focus to the window which takes up the whole wall.

The window can be used either as a giant viewscreen (which can show anything from old Earth movies to landscape scenes to brief educational courses on almost any subject), an info and communication panel or as a colour-augmented view of what's outside at that very moment. I spend a long time looking at Space through different lenses, playing around with non-visual light filters, "non-Doppler" viewers and eventually settle on a setting that gently brightens and augments the various cosmic wonders that stream past my "porthole".

Each night we are aboard, we are served an exquisite, freshly prepared (though I have no idea by whom) meal which is planned according to a broad theme and which can range from finger buffets to hours-long Romanesque feasts. Dawg frequently joins us for these meals, making no secret of his delight when "Spiced Stews and Sundries from the 20th Century" is the theme of the night.

The Pearl Diver also features a spa, a bar, a zero-grav workout room and an automated tailors which can produce bespoke clothing in any style and made from almost any fabric in a handful hours. I indulge myself in there a few times, making various experimental outfits that grow increasingly risquee, dabble in underwear for a while and even turn out a fairly decent approximation of Kharma's Shirt Against Humanity. Eventually I settle for a series of tight, soft leggings, vests and wraps which feel far more comfortable and appropriate in this curious environment than the coldly clinging flight-suit that is - after a few days - consigned to a pile on an arm chair.

After the first few days of solitude, where I emerge from my stateroom only to eat and swim in the spa (and fuck around with the clothes thing), I find I am slowly unwinding. It is becoming easier to deal with my thoughts - or to even have them - and I find I am increasingly curious about Al (and this ludicrous vessel) who, until now, has been mostly a quiet enigma, easily overshadowed by his teammates. Eventually, on an evening when I am particularly missing the Vulture, I do not return to my room after a meal (whose theme was Post-Earth First Settlement Classics from the 31st Century - each course inspired by a different system settled; each dish served with a little informative card about the recipe's history) but, instead, pad along the carpeted corridor to the flight deck, to where I find Al in a fully-reclining leather chair, cigar in one hand, can of beer in the other.

"Evening, Socks," he says quietly, his Old-London accent softer and more gentle than Karma's, "Was wondering when you'd make your way up here. Take a seat, fancy a drink? Here - get a blanket from the rack next to the door; sometimes gets chilly in here."

I shake my head - still needing a moment or two extra to process every new luxury aboard this ship - chuckle a little and grab a blue-and-red tartan blanket from the indicated rack. It is like the one my mother would wrap around me when I grew tired as a kid on the Tourist Trap runs. It is enormously comforting, smells vaguely of expensive, floral detergent, and I tug it around my shoulders before sliding into a large leather armchair opposite Al's.

"This vessel, Al... seriously, what the fuck?"

Al smiles, reaches for a beer, opens it, and passes it to me. I suck the small head of froth from the top while I wait for him to gather himself to answer.

"What you need to understand, Socks, is that there is more than one way to skin a cat. It strikes me that the rest of the A-Team work far too hard for their riches. Why go to all that bother when you can live like this and make a fortune with your feet up, beer in hand, belly full of good, good food?"

I ponder the point for a moment, a companionable silence settling between us as we sip our drinks and Al waits for me to reply. "Because," I finally offer, "This isn't interesting."

"Aah," replies Al, "Maybe not at the moment. But imagine some over-paying hoity-toity Federation Admiral loosening his tongue over a very long, drug-spiced meal after having every imaginable whim and fancy met, and things liven up a bit."

"That's what this is about? This whole ship?"

Al shrugs and sips his beer. "Nah," he finally murmurs, "This ship was to piss Lori off. Now I'm going to annoy him even more by turning a hefty profit in it. 2 VIPs at a time, Edge-of-the-Bubble cruises, several million credits each for a few days work. And then..." he smiles at me and raises his can in my direction - I reciprocate the gesture - before finishing, "Then it's a rather pleasant place to call home and spend time relaxing with the Team."

"Well, in that you're not wrong," I concede, as we fall quiet again and watch the stars pin-prick, bloom, grow and shoot past us as we travel.

"You're alright, Socks," he says eventually. It's a quietly-made observation yet it startles me a little.

"I'm not sure I am, Al," I reply.

"No more or less fucked up than the rest of us," he says, "You just haven't learned how to wear it yet, that's all." He turns to face me, the leather seat creaking as he shifts, "You've got to know what you're doing it for. When you've got that, you'll have cracked it."

I clear my throat as if to reply, but find I have no real response to this. I turn Al's words over in my mind a few times, as if gently probing something new and potentially threatening, and as I consider his words, images bloom like the stars around us - my parents, my Dad's shuttle, Nari - growing, becoming a blinding focal point and then shooting out of view. For a moment I feel utterly grief-stricken as my internal montage continues, but there is a truth to the observation that somehow tugs me through it to a point of clarity: All is not yet lost. The now-lost focal points of my life are not all there is to it; as with the stars that race past us as we travel, there will be new focal points, more bright moments that will bloom before me: Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong direction. Now my internal imagery is filled with the faces of my A-Team crewmates, of Not-Dave and other people I have met. They are still ahead of and around me, and my course, surely, lies in their direction?

I cannot communicate any of this to Al who sits, quietly sipping his beer, still watching me. I am surprised to realise there are tears rolling down my cheeks which I scrape away with shaking hands. Al nods and turns his gaze forwards while I pull myself up in the chair and clear my throat, regathering myself enough to ask, "So, anyway, where the fuck you two taking me?"

"That's an interesting question," replies Al. "It's Dawg's idea, really. I just fancied coming along."

I've heard about Dawg's previous expeditions - his ability to get lost in space, on planets, around suns, even in space port facilities and bars is legendary. The notion of being press-ganged into one makes me smile (and reassures me that my previous epiphany was, indeed, correct). "Where does he think he's going?" I ask.

"Commander Dudley Dawg thinks he knows where he can find Jameson's Ship."

"Fuck off... the Jameson?"

"Yep."

"John Jameson?"

"Yep."

"Vanished in action, saved us from the Thargoids, history lesson, legendary Jameson?"

"Yep."

"Well, shit..."

Al reaches for another beer, passing me one before opening his and saluting me, "Happy new beer, Socks."

"Happy new beer, Al," I murmur, raising my can before taking a swig. "How did Dawg come about this supposed location?"

"Intercepted some kind of hi-level data transfer somewhere. Didn't realise what it was until he went to sell it on and had a quick look at what it was before he named his price."

"Well, shit..." This, I think, is pretty cool. Al nods.

"How long til we get there?"

"Dawg reckons maybe three more days. Then we'll have to scan and run about on the surface a bit."

I nod, completely happy with the notion of three days of post-epiphany thinking in sumptuous surroundings. We lapse into comfortable silence after that, murmuring only to greet each new beer or request another one. Eventually, and for the first time in weeks, I feel actually sleepy. I finish my beer and carefully line it up with the other empty tins along Al's dash (5 in all) and rise to my feet.

"Thanks for this, Al."

"Any time, Socks. You off?"

"Yeah."

"Sleep well, mate."

"You know," I reply, "I think I just might."

Then, fuck me, I fall onto my ridiculous bed and fall asleep for a full 24 hours.
"Drink fast, die young"
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby Loriath » Wed Dec 13, 2017 11:30 am

SockFiddler wrote:The dolphin that was seemingly purchased purely to annoy Lori ...


Pegged. It truly does annoy me.

Dawg frequently joins us for these meals, making no secret of his delight when "Spiced Stews and Sundries from the 20th Century" is the theme of the night....


Pegged. But you left out the part of the flatulence and futtering on about how he over ate.

Al shrugs and sips his beer. "Nah," he finally murmurs, "This ship was to piss Lori off. Now I'm going to annoy him even more by turning a hefty profit in it.....


Pegged. I gave Al his Nickname just because of shit like this.

"No more or less fucked up than the rest of us," he says, "You just haven't learned how to wear it yet, that's all." He turns to face me, the leather seat creaking as he shifts, "You've got to know what you're doing it for. When you've got that, you'll have cracked it."


Pegged. I think Kharma, Dawg and I were ready to toss in the towel and quit ED until we discovered that being "Asshats in Space" together and doing what WE wanted to do instead of what the game wanted us to do was the key to the entire thing. The "How" and "With Whom" is more important than the "Why".

I've heard about Dawg's previous expeditions - his ability to get lost in space, on planets, around suns, even in space port facilities and bars is legendary. The notion of being press-ganged into one makes me smile (and reassures me that my previous epiphany was, indeed, correct).


Pegged. I am surprised he has not lost his own arse at this point. He has frequently wandered off to find a beer and dawg and upon returning to the headset, we discover he has forgotten to do one, the other, or more commonly, both.

"Happy new beer, Al," I murmur, raising my can before taking a swig.



Pegged. That traditional A-Team toast was coined early and is said often. Very often. I am not sure if it who it was that coined it, but I will take credit for it. I was probably drunk when I said it :P

You know guys, she knows too much about us. I am sure we are just a short time away from either the Expose in Galnet, the Blackmail from one of the Powers Spy Network, or that we have to admit that she is part of the team.

Personally I would prefer the Expose as it is always fun to read about how much we are having fun, and maybe fill in some blanks in our rather fuzzy drunken memories. However I do believe that we will have to publicly admit she is part of the team. The good news is that we can finally kick out some of the more absentee "WannaBe" members like JohnLuke & Xebeth.

:P
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby SockFiddler » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:59 pm

You're a funny bugger, Lori, but you're awesome.

And, yes, I'm absolutely one of the Team. Bad Fiction aside, I have more fun flying with you guys in this game than I think I've had playing any game.

But there's still the expose...
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby TorTorden » Wed Dec 13, 2017 1:04 pm

Bring on the expose.
I would happily pose for lewd photos if need be.

Straddling my beam lasers buck necked if need be.

PS.
to the potential spy networks.
There is little point in blackmailing a group who has no sense of shame.


Threaten those I consider my own and I will burn your nations to dust.
Saying nice things and plying with beer on the other hand and we might come to an arrangement if there are some dirty deeds that need doing.
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People call me Bob.

Rule 1: Pillage. Then burn.
Rule 2: No such thing as overkill, as long as there are reloads.


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