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The Call from the Deep

I held up my boarding pass and walked through the gate. My wife, Harper, was right ahead of me, and we both were so loaded with bags and suitcases that we could barely fit between the doorways. Our 10th anniversary was in a couple of days. We both had come into agreement that there was no better way to celebrate than to go on an all-expense-paid cruise to Hawaii.
As we made it up to the deck, we marveled at all the entertainment. There was a band playing to greet us. Pools, water slides, mini-golf, a drive-in sized screen that was displaying boarding information, bars, and restaurants, and that was just what we could see while walking in! This was definitely the right choice for our anniversary vacation. I couldn’t wait to get these bags unloaded and start to enjoy ourselves.
We went into the doors that led to the cabins. There was another beautiful bar down below us. There was a sports bar to the left showing the games on different screens and a small library to our right. Before we made it to the cabins, there was a coffee bar that served specialty coffees and desserts. If religion has it right, I hope that heaven is something like this. You couldn’t walk through a door anywhere without finding something exciting.
Once we made it to our cabin, we dropped all our bags and looked at each other with stars in our eyes. I pulled my wife close for a kiss and then kept my arms around her. I asked eagerly about how we should begin.
“Well, what should we do first? The casino? The arcade?”
She smirked before replying.
“Such a man, don’t forget about the fine dining at 6, followed by the show at the Theatre.”
I drew back and acted faux offended.
“Are you insinuating that I have no culture? I made our reservations before we even boarded, don’t worry. Dinner isn’t for a long time though, how about we go get some of those tacos and a coffee to get ourselves going.”
“Now you’re speaking my language.” She replied with a grin.
“Let’s unpack later. I am starving, and I think that coffee bar right there makes caramel macchiatos.”
Her eyes lit up yet again as I grabbed her hand, and we rushed towards the door. The coffee bar did have macchiatos, which I got with an extra shot of espresso. She ordered a frozen drink that was more sweetness than coffee, and we made our way back onto the deck where the tacos awaited.
The weather was beautiful. It was Fall time, and the sun was just warm enough to be inviting, accompanied by the blissful breeze that blew along the top of the deck. As we drew near to Tito’s Taco Shop, we heard the captain coming through the loudspeakers announcing takeoff. He reminded us about the mandatory safety meeting in a couple of hours and then wished us to have a great time aboard the ship.
It was still strange to be in large groups of people without wearing a mask. The pandemic was finally eradicated once the vaccines were distributed. The cruise and tourism industries were hit hard, as were many others. It seemed that people were at last willing to come back out again, and there was no shortage of cruise-goers ready for a trip to the islands.
I had my phone out and was looking up things to do in Honolulu for the days that we were in port. Scuba diving was a must. I had heard that sometimes you could see sharks or even hold an octopus on your hand if you got lucky enough. I wanted to do some hiking near the volcanoes if we had time. All the spam was going to be strange, but as much as they cook with it, I bet they were able to make it taste like a delicacy.
They were in the process of building a new aquarium. It looked like it was going to be a huge one. Sadly, it did not look like it would be done in time for us to check it out. The black sands beach looked incredible, though. Instead of sand, it said that the whole beach was covered in smooth black lava rocks. We would definitely have to make a stop there.
“Ethan! Do you want salsa on your tacos? Chicken or steak?”
I put my phone away and looked at the meats before responding and did so to the guy who was making them as he finished up my wife’s two glorious looking tacos.
“I’ll take one of both with some of that green salsa. Thank you!”
All the free tacos that you could eat, why couldn’t life always be like that?
“Let’s sit over there by the side, so we can watch the takeoff,” Harper said, before taking a big sip of her frozen coffee.
We took a seat and took in the last sight of land that we would see for about 4 days. Once we arrived, we would tour the different islands, stopping at each port and having a day to explore. There were some people on land waving towards the ship. We joined many others who were near the side waving back. I couldn’t help but feel bad for all of those poor people stuck on the land.
“Bon Voyage to us, I guess.”
I held up my coffee for a cheers, and Harper returned the gesture. Her face was glowing. I couldn’t remember seeing her so happy since the day of our wedding.
“This is really going to be a nice break from reality.” She said as she picked up her taco to take her first bite.
“Yeah, it will. Nothing like this in the world.”
We took our time, enjoying each bite as our view of the coastline became a thing of the past. When we were finished, we looked into each other’s eyes. I reached across the table to hold her hand. She sounded a bit anxious as she spoke.
“It is a lot to take in, isn’t it? There is so much to do that I’m afraid of missing out on something. Where should we go first?”
I squeezed her hand and spoke in a reassuring tone.
“We have plenty of time to take it all in. Let’s just make sure to relax and do whatever makes us happy. It will all work itself out.”
Once we had our fill of gazing into the ocean, we decided that we would head back to the room and get unpacked, while we waited for the safety orientation. The time flew by, and before we knew it, they were calling our section over the loudspeaker.
We arrived with all the other passengers and waited for a moment until the crew member made it so we could begin. They gave us the spiel about the life jackets. They explained how the evacuation process works in case of a problem and let us hear a sample of the siren that would be played if there was an emergency.
I was zoning out and staring out of the window. We were near the bottom of the ship, and you could see the water moving beside us. It put me in a bit of a trance, and I kind of lost myself in it for a moment. I was snapped out of it when I saw something I couldn’t quite comprehend.
It happened pretty fast, and most of the people were looking at the crew member as he spoke. I could have been mistaking, but It looked like a giant tentacle had moved by the window and curled out of sight.
I looked around to see if anyone else had seen what I thought I just saw. There was a teenaged boy who looked excited and shocked. He was tugging at his father’s sleeve and explaining something to him. He seemed to brush him off and looked frustrated at the interruption. Everyone else was paying attention to the speech and had apparently not seen a thing.
Harper noticed how shaken I was and asked me quietly if everything was alright. I shook it off and said I would tell her about it later. We sat through the rest of the orientation. Nothing else went by the window, other than the waves being made by the ship.
As we arrived back on the deck, we were grabbing a drink from the tiki-themed bar. Harper chose one of those blue drinks with the little umbrella on top. After what I had seen, I opted for a straight glass of their best scotch. I had explained my story to her, and she was busy trying to figure out what it could have been that I saw.
“So, you’re sure it was all the way up by the window? Even at that lower level, that must be pretty high up from the water. Maybe it was something that crawled up the side, and it just seemed like it was larger because of forced-perspective?”
I took a big sip of my scotch and shook my head in confusion.
“Yeah, I mean, maybe. I really don’t know.”
She looked as if a light bulb went off in her head, and she shot back a smart remark.
“You’ve been reading a bunch of that H. P. Lovecraft stuff again, haven’t you? I’m sure it wasn’t Cthulhu if that’s what you are thinking.”
I laughed and felt my tension release.
“No, it’s not that. I just thought it was weird, that’s all. Enough about that, let’s figure out what we’re going to do until the formal dinner and play tonight.”
She responded with a grin.
“I seem to remember someone mentioning the arcade and the casino.”
I must have looked like a kid on Christmas morning because she burst out laughing. We finished our drinks and made our way past the large screen that was now cycling through reminders of all the different events that you could attend. Night club, comedy club, it seemed like there was no end to the number of things you could do on this ship.
We walked through the casino that was already bustling with cruise-goers. It looked like a good time. They even had versions of those toy cranes that were set up to pick up huge wads of cash. That might be the next stop, but I had my eyes set on the zombie shooter game with two green guns. The arcade was right past the casino and was full of all kinds of games to keep us entertained.
Not as many people were eager to jump straight for the arcade apparently. Harper and I had the whole place to ourselves. I went to the coin machine to get out some tokens. There was a door that read “Staff Only” right by the machine. I heard a loud slamming noise that caught my attention, even over the music that was playing in the arcade. I leaned in a little and heard a heated conversation on the other side.
“This is so fucked up. I can’t believe that they got loose. They need to tell all of the people!”
“Can you imagine the chaos that would cause? I get where you are coming from, trust me. It’s better this way, though.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right… People would be going crazy.”
The door opened, and I jumped as I was still leaning in to eavesdrop. This must have been apparent to the two kids who walked out because they looked a bit frightened and then hurried right past me. I grabbed the tokens out of the machine and walked over to the machine where my wife was waiting.
“You look like you just saw a ghost or something. Don’t tell me some fish people are walking around on board now.”
I couldn’t even fake a laugh or smile. I explained what I had just heard as I put the coins into the machine and started up the game. She did not seem concerned about the new development.
“They could have been talking about a mechanical issue or something. Try not to worry too much. We deserve to have the time of our lives on this trip. I don’t want you to start to obsess on this and lose sight of why we are here.”
I shrugged at this and answered in a resigned tone.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Worrying isn’t going to fix anything anyway. Could you please start taking out some of these zombies, though? I’m carrying the whole game over here. You have a power-up to use, hit the red button.”
She smacked me with the gun for talking trash, but the mood felt much lighter after that. Before long, we grew tired of the arcade and decided to play a few games at the casino. I have never been the best card player, and she was no better than me. This being the case, we opted for the giant money claw machine.
I swear that both of us grabbed a stack a handful of times each. The claw would never hold its grip, though. Feeling more than a little bit scammed, we decided to blow a bit of time at the slots until we had to go get ready for dinner. As soon as we sat down, the person who went on the money claw right behind us exclaimed loudly as the machine lit up and started to make a loud ringing noise. I looked over to Harper and gestured towards him.
“That seems about right, huh? We pump fifty dollars into that thing, and he walks away with a jackpot after one.”
“Such is life.” She responded as she pumped some tokens into the slot machine.
I couldn’t help but hear two guys on some machines behind us, as they were beginning to get a bit rowdy with each other.
“You tryin’ to say I don’t know what I saw man?”
His friend responded quickly.
“No, no, no, man. I’m not trying to say you’re seeing things or whatever else. I’m just saying that it’s crazy. There is no way it can be right!”
After this, the first man shot up out of his seat, knocking over his stool as he did. This caused quite the scene, and many people were starting to gaze in the direction now.
“Yeah, that’s alright. You think whatever the hell you want. I’m gonna go find someone to talk to about it right now!”
He stormed off, leaving his friend looking a bit shell-shocked and embarrassed. Harper looked toward me, and as if reading her mind, I pushed my seat back away from the machine.
“Yeah, let’s get out of here. We need to get ready for dinner.”
She raised her eyebrows in surprise at what we had just witnessed and responded.
“Sounds good to me. I haven’t won anything anyway. Let’s go.”
I looked back towards the guy’s friend, who he left standing there. After considering it for a moment, I leaned in towards my wife.
“You go ahead, I’ll catch up with you in just a second.”
She looked a bit frustrated but did not fight it.
“Hurry up, I want to make sure we get a good seat. It’s going to take us a while to get ready.”
She kissed me on the cheek and took off towards the deck, which led over towards the cabins. I walked up towards the man who was about to walk off before I caught his attention.
“Excuse me, sir? I overheard you and your friend. What was it that he thinks he saw?”
He looked at me warily. It was clear that he really didn’t want to discuss the matter.
“Look, he’s usually not like that, you know? I don’t know what’s gotten into him, honestly.”
I shook my head. He obviously didn’t understand why I was asking.
“No, I saw something strange as well. I’m not trying to say your friend is going crazy at all. I was just wondering what it is that he was saying he saw.”
This seemed to unnerve him more than help calm his nerves. He looked around to make sure nobody was listening in.
“Man, he was saying that he saw a giant fucking octopus, bro. Like, 30 feet long or so is how he was describing it. It’s ridiculous, there is no way they would allow something like that on one of these ships.”
My heart dropped all the way to my feet. I covered my mouth, and I think he could tell by my reaction that what he said had rocked me to the core. I stammered and managed a weak reply as horror rushed through my body.
“I..I… On the boat??”
He nodded and looked at me with the same type of concern he had been showing to his friend. My face must have been as white as a sheet at this point.
I took off out of the door, in a huge rush to catch up with Harper. I was looking around in a panic, my heart racing and ready to beat right out of my chest. I was about to just take off to the room when I heard Harper’s voice.
“Ethan! Over here, I grabbed some hot tea.”
I saw her over by the edge of the deck, waving me over. I ran up to her and could hardly focus.
“I thought you needed something to help you relax, and it looks like I was right. What are you freaking out about right now?”
I tried to collect my thoughts and was going to respond when she pointed behind me and cut me off.
“Hey, isn’t that the guy that was just going nuts in the casino?”
I turned around, and the man was being dragged towards a door that was marked “Employees Only”. Two larger deckhands were pulling him that way, each with a tight grip on one of his arms. He was fighting hard to try and break their hold and calling out for help. As they made it through the door with the man, I grabbed Harper by the shoulders and looked into her eyes.
“We have to go. Let’s get to the room, I don’t want to explain out here.”
She nodded, and we made our way towards the cabins. Once we were in our own cabin, she put down the hot teas on our dresser and walked right up to me with an exasperated look on her face.
“Babe, what in the heck is going on right now? This isn’t about the freaking tentacle that you saw out the window, is it?”
I looked shiftily around the room and towards our view of the ocean.
“Yes… I mean, no… Well, not really, anyway.”
“You have got to calm down. Just take a deep breath and explain.”
I did as she suggested and took a long deep breath to collect my thoughts. I told her about what the guy’s friend had said back at the casino. She made the connection between this and the man being dragged off the deck against his will. I also explained what I heard from the crew members when we were at the arcade. I could tell she was beginning to take what I was saying seriously.
I looked off into a corner as I made a connection. It seemed like a bit of a stretch to me, but it was the only thing I could think of. I know that she wouldn’t judge me at this point if it sounded a bit outlandish. After thinking it over for a moment, I decided to tell her what I was thinking.
“When I was looking for things to do in Honolulu earlier, there was an advertisement for a new aquarium that was coming soon. One of the main attractions was that they were going to have a bunch of Giant Pacific Octopi.
I didn’t think about it until now, but what if that is what is on this ship? Let me google it really quick, I had never heard of that type of octopus, so I didn’t think much of it.”
I got the search pulled up and nodded in a cold understanding before continuing.
“This is exactly what that guy was describing. I don’t know why they would use a cruise ship to deliver something like that. It’s the only thing that makes any sense right now, though.”
Harper was looking at the google search thoughtfully and responded.
“I mean, I guess that these were two of the hardest-hit economies during the pandemic, tourism, and cruise ships. It makes some kind of twisted sense that they would come together to try and help each other out. Octopi are known to be very mischievous, even when they aren’t the size of a freaking semi-trailer.”
She made a good point. Nothing had really made sense for a few years now with how crazy the world had been. This made as much sense as anything else when it was put into perspective. I just shook my head in amazement and looked towards her.
“Well, what do we do from here?”
“I know this is crazy, but I’m sure they will have a handle on those things. They would not have arranged to have them on board and not prepared for the possibility that they could escape.
I say we get ready and go to dinner as we had planned. We don’t want to spend our whole 10th-anniversary cruise holed-up in the cabin. Even if all this crazy guesswork is correct, and that is what the guy from the casino saw, I’m sure that they have everything under control.”
I pressed my fingers against my eyes and tried to wrap my mind around everything. I may have been scared out of my mind, but she was right. Our best bet was to hope that it was all under control and at least try to enjoy our time on the ship. This was not going to happen again anytime soon, if ever.
“Yeah. Let’s do that, I agree. Let’s just get dressed and try to have a good time. I’m sure if it was too bad, everyone would be on lockdown or something.”
She brightened up a bit with my saying this. We both went into our luggage and began to start the process of getting changed into our formal dining attire. Before long, I was tying the knot in my tie, and she was putting the final touches on her hair. I walked up behind her in the mirror and held her by the shoulders.
“You look incredible. Let’s go and have the time of our lives.”
She gave me a big smile, and I pulled her in for a kiss. I backed up and held out my arm towards her. As she grabbed onto it, we made our way for the door.
The formal dining room was the most luxurious area on the ship by far. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling. There were large wine racks along many of the walls, and the entire dining room was walled in by the most beautiful windows that I had ever seen. There was an ornate window on the ceiling as well. It was just beginning to get dark, and I was sure that soon we would be able to see the stars all across the sky.
The waiter walked up and asked what we would like to drink. He was dressed in a black vest with a bow tie and a white shirt. I told him that we would take a bottle of wine that he recommended. I also asked him to give me a recommendation for my meal. Once Harper heard his suggestion of parmesan encrusted lamb with asparagus, she decided that she would follow suit.
He brought out some bread with olive oil as a complimentary appetizer to go with our wine. As he poured our first glasses and set the bottle down, I grabbed my glass of wine and held it up toward my beautiful wife. She looked every bit as lovely as the day of our wedding, and I was flooded with a flurry of emotions as I said my toast.
“Here is to 10 amazing years. Every one of them has been an adventure, and I look forward to every year that I’ll be lucky enough to spend with you as we continue that adventure.”
She smiled and blushed ever so slightly as she reached her glass to clink off of mine. We both took a sip, and she responded in a relieved manner.
“That’s the spirit, it is starting to actually feel like a relaxing vacation.”
“Hey, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? It’s so nice to have a break from work, housework, and all the monotony of the day-to-day. We make a pretty good team through all of that drudgery, though. Don’t you think?”
Suddenly, I saw the smile get wiped from her face. The look that crept onto her face was one of sheer terror. Her glass of wine had been in her hand. When her face went from delight to horror, she tossed it on the ground with a crash. A scream came from deep within her, which was blood-curdling and intimated that absolute ruin was imminent.
I turned toward the spot that she was staring at. I understood all at once the doom that awaited all of us in the dining room. A giant octopus came crashing through the windows near the entrance where we all had arrived, knocking over the many racks of wine as it came and turning the floor as red as blood. Seemingly at the same time, another came from the side closest to the ocean and blocked the only other way out of the dining room into the kitchen.
I grabbed Harper’s arm, and we ran toward the corner as far from the beasts as we could manage. It was pandemonium as the whole dining room erupted into turmoil. I flipped a circle table up against the corner so that Harper and I could try to hide behind it for protection.
I saw one man who ran as fast as he could towards a small opening next to the octopus, who was blocking the main entrance. The creature reached a giant tentacle out for him and pulled him into his beak. There were shrieking howls of pain, unlike anything I have ever heard as blood sprayed out from underneath.
A couple of people were able to dart around as the octopus was distracted. Another unfortunate lady was grabbed by one of the spare tentacles, though. He squeezed her around the throat, and we had to watch as her face turned purple. Eventually, the life was squeezed right from her body.
I held Harper tight as she was sobbing like mad and unable to stop her body from shaking. We saw an opening. The one by the front entrance went toward a group of people on the opposite side of the room. As soon as it did, we bolted for the door. As we drew near, another octopus came crashing through the window on the ceiling, crushing a few unfortunate souls as it joined in the massacre. We kept running until we were well onto the deck.
The chaos did not stop in the dining room. People were running like mad all over the deck. I didn’t know where we would be safe, but I thought that maybe we could lock ourselves in our cabin until we could be rescued from this madness. It was a nice thought, but as we went for the doors, another one of those damn things came down to block our way.
We ran for the area in front of the drive-in style screen where Re-Animator was playing. A man was gibbering to himself in a wild manner and hiding behind a chair. As we drew near, I noticed a tear in the screen as another one came through and snatched the man up as he yelled out for help.
Our options for safety were becoming extremely limited. We ran for the bar where we jumped over the top and hid with a large group of people, peaking over to watch it all unfold. That was when we saw what I knew would be the end of us all. There was an army of them descending upon us. I held Harper tight as we waited on the inevitable.
I watched as a family of three were huddling together in the middle of the deck. They were almost surrounded, but the father pushed the mother and child toward an opening so that they could make it to safety with the rest of us. He let out a guttural cry as they ripped him to shreds. His little girl cried in a high-pitched squeal reaching for him until the mother grabbed her and ran towards us.
The mother was getting close when one of the monstrous creatures came hurtling behind her. As she noticed, she reached out with her daughter. I leaned out over the bar and grabbed onto her as the octopus reached the mother and held her tightly. I was pulling my hardest as the mother was holding on tight, and I hoped that they both might be saved.
I was punching and pulling at the tentacles and doing my best to cause him to let the mother go. She released her daughter, and the others brought her down behind the bar. I wouldn’t let go of her mother’s arms as she cried out in distress.
That was when I heard it. It was the deepest and most powerful sound that I have ever heard. It shook the ship violently. The bottles of liquor and glasses were falling all around us. It was hard to describe the immense strength and power that the sound exhibited all around us. When the sound came, though, something strange began to happen.
The octopus that held the child’s mother released her, and we pulled her behind the bar with us quickly. She fell to her daughter and clutched her tightly as they wept in each other’s arms. All of the creatures began to release the people that they were attacking. They were moving in unison towards the edges of the ship. They crawled over the side, and one by one, they made their way into the ocean.
Once all the monsters had left the ship, the people made their way slowly to the side to see what was happening. For some reason, they were all leaving. As quickly as they had descended upon us, they left us. It appeared to be almost in a synchronized manner. They all were swimming in the same direction, and we watched in disbelief. Nobody aboard this ship would ever be the same if they made it out alive, but many of us were saved by what could only be described as a call. A call that came from something massive, much larger than the creatures that had plagued us. It was a call that came from deep within the ocean and was more monstrous than anything that we could have ever imagined.
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City In Black chapter 3: Old Flame

City In Black chapter 3: Old Flame
I needed to step out for a while. Most of what happened after the match was a blur. Medical staff left me alone after they found out I only had minor wounds and instead focused on the more grievously injured. I doubted there were many survivors. I really hoped Hank was okay. I had no idea how that man could fight through those injuries. After I got out of the arena, I was hounded by rabid fans riding the high of the carnage. They still cheered me on even after the event, which had forced me to seek isolation outside along the shaded side of the warehouse. I needed time to think. I leaned back and gazed at the bustle of The Second’s Reverse Floor far above. At all of the lights flickering and drifting about. I could see the elevator I took down from here.
Tonight was filled with too many emotions. Both good and bad. The rush of authentic combat was something I haven't experienced in a long time, and never at the stakes I’d just endured. I knew being a Freelancer was dangerous, that’s why my parents spent a fortune on my augs in the first place, but I wondered if every job I’d end up doing would be this dangerous. Christ, this wasn’t even part of my current job, this was just me trying to find a setup! I was beginning to wonder if I was competent enough to be a Freelancer. The convoy heist was tomorrow. I spent all this time and I didn’t have any preparations done. Hell, I came here to find a Valkyrie and I might’ve ended up killing her or permanently damaging her in the process. She was my only lead. I might’ve really fucked this up.
I couldn’t afford to doubt myself though. Not after the money my parents sunk into me. Not after the eight years of arduous training I sunk into myself. Not after I sacrificed almost everything I held dear in life, including my body, so I could pursue this dream. I wanted this so bad, and I finally got it. This is where I wanted to be, so the only way I’d give up is if I went irreparably broke or died.
And with how much tiff I made in that match alone, I doubted it would be because of the former. With how things have been going tonight, however, the latter was seeming increasingly likely.
It felt amazing to be back in the ring again. The nostalgia was overbearing and I had to admit that the raving fans were an ego booster, even if I wasn’t in the mood to interact with them. Everything has felt so liquid and unsure since I stopped fighting here years ago. I was happier back then, it was all so clear. Win the next fight and be with my friends. Now for almost a decade I’ve been pursuing something I wasn’t sure would even work out. God I hoped things would fall into place.
The thrill from this return wasn’t worth it. I wish I could’ve left this part of my life in the past. Seeing what it was now, seeing who someone I once called family has turned into was like a perversion of my memories. It turned what was once bittersweet into heartbreak. I’m pretty sure Uncle G hates me, and now I hate him back. He wouldn’t put me through what he did if he still cared about me.
I let out a frustrated growl and looked down. I could see the drying blood still coating my foot and I remembered the man whose life I took. It was so violent and excessive and unnecessary yet it’s something I did. Something I did confidently. The scariest thing was how little it was bothering me. I’d anticipated having to do this one day. Freelancers are paid killers, and he was only the first of many if this played out right. Still, I thought it’d be harder to cope with. Maybe I was just a sociopathic bitch.
“Nala!” My name drew my attention to the corner I was hiding around. Aubrey peeked over, making sure I was here. Her tired face lit up upon seeing me. “Ah! I saw you hide over here, but I thought you needed some space.” Her face softened. “You seemed really off after the fight. Do you need more time to yourself?”
“Nah,” I shook my head. My thoughts weren’t good and I knew being alone wasn’t the best for me right now. “Some company sounds nice actually,” I told her, shifting my gaze back towards the sky.
“Ah,” she began, sliding up next to me and leaning against the wall too. I could feel her eyes on me. “What happened? I thought you didn’t want to fight?”
“I didn’t,” I confessed with a growl. “But I came here for the Valkyrie, and Big G was only gonna let me see her if I fought. I didn’t expect things to go the way they did though.”
“I was worried something like this would happen,” Aubrey admitted sympathetically. “G has been through a lot since you left. You’re not the only one who…” she stopped herself for a second but still continued. “Everything has worn on him. Nala, he’s not a good man anymore.”
“Yeah, I picked up on that,” I sneered before turning my head back to her. “You hear anything about how the Valkyrie and Hank are doing?”
Surprisingly, Aubrey snickered. “Oh I’m sure Hank’s fine. He’s been through much worse and recovered.” I raised a brow. The man was stabbed in the head and impaled. How much worse can you get? Then I remembered the cyborgs that got popped by the Valkyrie. I guess that’s worse. You can’t recover from that.
“As for the Valkyrie, I’m not sure. How hard did you hit her?”
“Hard,” I grimaced. The magical harpy didn’t give me much choice. “But that first uppercut she took would’ve ruined somebody unaugmented and she still got up from it. Either she has some dermal implants or Valkyries are naturally tougher, but I’m no expert. I’m hoping she pulls through.”
“Why’re you after her anyway? Is it a contract?”
I laughed. “Nah, actually. Can you believe it’s not? I heard she’s after the same target I am, and I need help.”
“So you’re going to ask the person you just kicked the shit out of for help?” she cringed.
“That’s the plan.”
“I hope there’s a plan B.”
The two of us went back inside to pull up a pair of stools at one of the food stalls and catch up some more. Well more Aubrey gushing about my fight. And I didn’t eat. My mind was too conflicted and filled with gory images. Hell, and despite a trip to the bathroom to try to clean up, I know I had some giblets stuck to me somewhere. Food was the last thing I wanted. I could sure use a drink though. And a long shower. But I’d have to wait awhile for that second one.
In the midst of our conversation, somebody tapped my shoulder and a soft voice caught my attention.
“Excuse me, ma’am?” Ma’am? I wasn’t nearly old enough for that shit. I turned, stunned to see the forest green hair and tattoos of the Valkyrie. She seemed off compared to when I’d seen her in the pit. Her hair was no longer flowing and her brown eyes were soft and gentle. Her tattoo like runes were a dull white instead of shining. She still wore the tank from the match, but had on a transparent jacket over it. About every second, a wave of bright color would wash over the piece of clothing, cycling through a selection of hues. Instead of normal leggings, now she wore a set of tight leather pants with combat boots. She also applied black lipstick and eyeliner. A bandage was wrapped around the top of her head, a little red seeping through. I couldn’t believe she was alright let alone up and moving already. What struck me most about her appearance, however, wasn’t the makeover or the fact that she wasn’t glowing. It was that she looked so meek. I noticed she was smaller than me in the fight, but now she just looked so… fragile.
“You’re up,” I forced out through my astonishment.
“Yeah, I heal very quickly,” she stated matter of factly in her quiet tone. “May I take a seat with you?”
“Sure?” I gestured to the empty stool to my left. She smiled politely and hopped onto the seat before getting the vendor’s attention to order. I gave Aubrey a glance and she just shot back a shrug, looking just as lost as I was.
Focusing back onto the Valkyrie, I noticed a small black battery on her back with a bunch of warnings of voltage and acid around the device. It was embedded in the jacket and was what the colored light spread from.
“I like your style,” I tried to break the ice once she finished ordering.
“Thanks! You look really nice yourself,” she returned with a sincere smile. “I love the hair.”
I was blown away. Not only that she was up and walking, but she was not at all what I expected. I must’ve sounded awkward as hell to her as I struggled to really take hold of the situation.
“I’m sorry,” I explained. “I’m just-”
“Surprised to see me kicking?” she interjected. “Yeah, I’m lucky. Even with my healing factor you really gave my noggin a good whollup,” she ended with a giggle. “That’s part of why I’m here, actually. I could tell you were holding back. I wanted to thank you for going easy on me even though I was trying really hard to kill you.” That last part really didn’t sound right in her tiny voice. “It’s not everyday I find somebody who can beat me, but you saw right through my limitations. I need to be more careful for people like you.”
“I wouldn’t say I went easy on you,” I confessed. “It was a struggle to stay ahead of you. But still I wasn’t trying to kill you. You’re…” I trailed off, picking my words carefully.
“I get it,” she assured with a wave of her hand. “I’m a rarity. Half the people in Titan think I’m a precious gem that should be protected. The other half wants to kill me simply for the status of being able to kill a Valkyrie.” She spoke so casually, like that wasn’t a huge deal.
“I meant I didn’t spare you for totally selfless reasons, if I’m being honest,” I explained. “Not that I wanted to kill you in the first place. I was coerced into that fight, and didn’t know what I was getting into.” I shook my head and continued. “Anyway, I need your help.”
“Oh?” she tilted her head in curiosity. “With what?”
“There’s a Daitech convoy moving through the lower floors sometime tomorrow hauling important cargo. A prisoner. I heard you were after it.”
“Oh...” she looked like she was thinking for a second. “Hm, if it was anyone else, I’d tell them I don’t know what they’re talking about. But after seeing you in action, bringing you along might not be a bad idea.” It sounded more like she was thinking out loud to herself. “I’ve been wanting to find more people to hit it with anyways, but I’ve been hesitant to ask anyone.”
“Social anxiety?” Aubrey offered jokingly.
“No,” she turned back to us. “I’m not sure who wants to murder me or not. Like I said, it seems like half the people out here want to end me.”
“Sheesh,” Aubrey cringed. “I know The Second isn’t the safest place, but I don’t think it’s that bad.”
“Not for you maybe,” she sighed. The vendor returned with the Valkyrie’s drink and she took a sip. I noticed his eyes lingering on her with a nervous expression. “It’s quite tiring. Strawberry Thunder had the perfect chance to kill me, however, and didn’t take it. I suppose I can trust you. And you seem quite skilled. I’m sure you’d be useful in pulling this off.”
“Please, call me Plan B if you’re going to call me anything,” I directed. “Strawberry Thunder is an old name I’d prefer to leave behind me. Plan B is my Freelancer alias.”
“Of course. You’re a Freelancer,” the Valkyrie chuckled and shook her head. “I’ve thought about getting into the profession. Call me Syra,” she introduced with a nod. Oh yeah, I remembered Big G calling her that in the match.
“Why’d you go with Plan B as an alias?” I heard Aubrey query.
“Freelancers usually work in teams,” I told her the spiel I’d heard over and over during training. “Whether temporary or permanent. Tackling a contract alone is often suicide. You have to find someone to cover your weaknesses. Most ops are done with stealth and subtlety, but I’ve never been so good at that. I’m good at rushing in and doing damage, so when stealth goes out the window, I’m Plan B.”
“So I can assume information gathering isn’t within your skill set?” Syra teased.
“That’s why I’m here,” I told her. “I heard you might have some information on the target. The fact that you can blow shit up with your mind is just a bonus.”
“You’re in luck, I know some, yes,” Syra established. “What do you know?”
“Only that it’s a Daitech convoy going through The Third tomorrow. I don’t know exactly where or when it’s supposed to be moving or anything else for that matter.”
“Well some new things I can tell you is that the convoy begins its journey at 17:00 starting from the Lyndon Rail Yard and is scheduled to arrive at the Lenore Raven Sky Port at 18:20. I’ve already scouted all possible routes and the only one fast enough to line up with that time frame has two points of interest that we could use. A small overpass over the highway, or the construction site of a casino along the side of the highway.
“The overpass I feel is more risky because of the lack of cover and obvious point of attack, but the casino has its own slew of issues to bypass. The most pressing one being the crew stationed there. I doubt they’d let two civilians just stroll onto their site with intentions of starting a firefight with a Corp.”
I blinked, trying to take that all in. “Wow you really did your homework.”
“It pays to be prepared,” she held her head up proudly and smiled before that pride turned into embarrassment. “Although I have no information on the vehicles or numbers we’re dealing with. And I feel we’d be going in woefully under gunned.”
“Maybe I can help out with that last bit,” I offered. I’d already pulled one burned bridge out of the ashes, albeit in a much worse state than when it was left in the fire. What was the harm in dredging another one from its wreckage?
“Aubrey.” The stocky woman looked at me, gulping down some noodles from her bowl. “Where can I find the Street Breed these days?”
The old factory was massive, and very much still functional. I stood across the barren street of the multistory, rectangular structure. Large pyres of smoke shot out from stacks of obelisks lining the roof above. The building was lined with windows emitting dull light and, in the silence of the night, you could hear the hum of multiple air conditioning units that were latched onto the place. The Breed must be doing very well for themselves if this was their base of operations.
I felt bad leaving Aubrey again. Only because I felt like she thought I was never going to return to the Underdown now that my business there was finished. It wasn’t finished. I wasn’t going to let Big G get off scot free. I was going to watch that place burn. It was no place of happiness to me anymore. I’d be back soon.
For now though, Syra had followed my bike in an unassuming grey sedan. Something she said she stole from someone on The First to keep a low profile. She promised they deserved it. The car contrasted greatly from my vibrant, bulky motorcycle and considering what she was, that was for the best. If news of her existence wasn’t well known before, her appearance at a fighting arena would cause Titan to explode with rumors. Blending in was the best idea.
The Valkyrie stood beside me, gazing at the factory as well. Her jacket changed its sheen from its previous see through form to a solid, glossy black, making it look like vinyl. She wore a pair of leather gloves to cover what little runes ran along her hands and zipped up, popping her collar to try to hide the markings on her neck and chest. I suggested she get a scarf to mask herself further. She took it into consideration but we didn’t have time to shop for accessories. Well, at least, not those kinds.
“The people here are trustworthy?” Syra asked, uncertainty in her gentle voice.
“I’m not sure after seeing Big G again,” I admitted. “But we need guns and gear, and these are the only contacts I know that can provide us with both.” I stepped forward waving for her to follow. We reached a reinforced door along the side of the place and I gave it a hardy knock. The metal on metal echoed loudly through the emptiness of the outside.
“Are you certain somebody will be here this late?” Syra’s eyes flicked around.
“They wouldn’t leave their assets unguarded. They’ll have somebody here at night.”
Right on cue, a small slit in the door about eye height slid open to reveal a blue, skeptical gaze from the other side.
“What do you want?” An unfamiliar voice interrogated curtly.
“We’re here to see Pup,” I informed him and the eyes grew more narrow.
“You groupies or something?” He didn’t wait for us to answer. “He ain’t here, he’s at home sleepin.”
“We aren’t groupies,” I growled, annoyed. “I’m an old friend of his. I need to speak with him. It’s important.” The man on the other side sized me up, still unsure.
“Old friend, huh? Give me a sec.” The slit closed and once again we were bathed in silence.
After only a moment the slit reopened and this time the blue eyes were replaced with what looked like two grey plates. There was a gasp from the other side of the door and the slit closed once more before the door swung open.
On the other side was an older man, looking dazed. He wore a leather jacket that covered most of his upper body, but his lower half had grey cargo shorts that showed off primitive, heavy set prosthetic legs that released steam around his joints. His head was adorned with spiky grey hair that extended into a pointy beard. A black bandanna with a circuit design wrapped around his forehead and his eyes were covered with a pair of metal plates. They somehow exaggerated his astounded expression.
“Nala?” He croaked out finally.
“Hey, Rot,” I returned with an awkward smile. “I’m back.”
My world was engulfed in the second hug of the night. A warm embrace that I couldn't help but return. I couldn’t have found someone better right off the bat. Rot was the biggest sweetheart back in the day. A little vulgar and cocky, but at the same time courteous and kind. He was one of mine and Pup’s biggest supporters when we got involved and probably one of the main reasons I was able to get so close to the MC.
After a good few seconds, Rot finally pulled away laughing in embarrassment.
“Sorry,” he apologized, “I just wasn’t expecting you to… well still be alive!”
“Well I’m here,” I announced, still feeling weird. I didn’t think I’d see him again.
“Come in! Come in!” the old biker stepped further in and waved for us to follow. We obliged. “Either of you want a beer?” he called out to me and Syra as he noticed her. He walked around the corner, ducking into another room. “Man I thought this would be a boring shift…” I could hear him murmur to himself as he went.
“Yeah!” I shouted after him.
“None for me, thank you,” Syra told him nervously at the same time I spoke.
To our side sat a young man in similar biker clothes, with short black hair and a septum ring. He eyed us suspiciously without a word. I did my best to ignore him for the small moment we had to deal with his stare, but I saw Syra sneer back at him, challenging him. The man didn’t seem to care.
Rot came back with two cans of Sierra Sunrise. My favorite brand! I couldn’t believe he remembered! He handed both of us a can, Syra looking almost offended. I eagerly opened mine up and took a sip while Syra looked at hers like it was a wounded puppy.
“So I bet you’re wanting to talk to Pup, eh?” Rot asked with a smile. “The boss’ll be thrilled to see you!” I felt a pit grow in my stomach and I took a deep gulp of my drink. I wasn’t so sure. Rot had always been an optimist, but I doubted Pup wouldn’t feel any resentment towards me after I ditched everyone. I know it must’ve hurt him more than anyone else. That was my biggest regret about what I did.
“Yeah, I bet,” I beamed back at him, masking my worry as best as I could.
“Yo, Rot, who’re these bimbos?” the young dude to our side snarled. Rot’s expression did a 180 and slowly adjusted his gaze to the guy with the attitude.
“I get why you’re distrustful, prospect, but this is the boss’s ex old lady, and a good friend of the club. So show some fucking respect.”
“If she’s Pup’s ex then I don’t see why she’s important enough to let her inside when we’re on alert,” the prospect shot back without skipping a beat.
“Hey, Nala’s done more for the Street Breed than you can fuckin imagine! She was practically one of us at one point!”
“Then where’s she been while we’ve been dealing with the Corps and The Pack?” It didn’t hit me until now just how tired they both looked. It helped explain why the prospect was so irritated. Rot’s cheerful attitude hid most of his exhaustion, but he didn’t carry himself the way he had before. He always had a pep to his step, but now he moved sluggishly and had a slight hunch. Of course, that could’ve just been him getting older, but I think there’s more to it.
“That’s a good question actually,” Rot turned back to me. “Though it could do with a little less sass. Where have you been? Does it have to do with that new steel you’re packin? Don’t think I didn’t notice that.”
“I’ve been training,” I told him honestly. “I’m a Freelancer now.”
“You let a Freelancer in here!?” The prospect rose, fury in his eyes. “I don’t care what kind of connection to us she had before, who knows who she could be working for!!”
“Gecko, calm down!” Rot snapped back. “You really don’t understand what’s happening here.”
“I understand you’re too trusting, old man!” And with the flip of a switch, the prospect, Gecko’s face went white. “Oh shit.”
Rot, to his credit, remained neutral towards the younger man’s outburst. Yet as he stepped closer to Gecko, the prospect trembled.
“Look, Rot, I’m just wor-” he was cut off by Rot’s fist barreling into his face. The one swift punch was all that was needed to knock the prospect back in his chair, out like a light.
Rot shook his hand and flexed his fingers like he wasn’t expecting himself to hit Gecko that hard.
“Sorry about that,” Rot apologized. “Normally I wouldn’t resort to something like that so quickly, but it’s been a long few days and I really didn’t feel like dealing with his shit.”
“I’m not going to complain about talking without him,” Syra assured, still staring the unconscious man down.
“Yeah he seemed like an asshole,” I added.
“He’s just on edge,” Rot defended the prospect. “Like I said, it’s been a long few days. Anyway, you’re a Freelancer now! Wow! Given our trade, I’m guessing you’re here on business then?”
“Yeah,” I admitted, still feeling that pit in my stomach. “But I do want to see how Pup is doing.”
“I bet you do,” Rot chuckled. “He’s at home getting some rest, but I don’t think he’ll be upset at me for waking him when he finds out you’re here.” He pulled out a phone before adding. “Then we can talk business.”
Time went by agonizingly slow since Rot made the call to Pup. The old biker didn’t mention why Pup needed to rush over here, but he’d made it clear that it was good news. The three of us sat in a lounge area, Rot standing behind a bar and me sitting on a stool. Syra sat a little ways away tucking herself into the corner of a couch, shifting uncomfortably. She seemed paranoid.
Meanwhile, I was filled with dread. The closer it got to me seeing Pup again, the more scared I got. I loved Pup once. I might still, but I don’t know the person he was now. I used to be closer to him than anyone else I’ve ever known. And then I left. I left when he needed me the most. After Zephos arrested half the Street Breed and his dad, who was the leader of the club, Bison, got a life sentence. Pup had to take the reins and lead the struggling club at only twenty three, and I vanished without a word.
God, he’ll be furious at me. Will he hate me? Does he even want to see me again? I wish Rot told him about me over the phone so I could hear it from Rot instead of seeing it on Pup’s face when he gets here. What would he even think about my new body? Would he be disgusted? I tried to drown my thoughts out in whiskey and conversation with Rot, but it wasn’t working.
“So who’s your friend?” Rot asked in a friendly tone, gesturing toward the Valkyrie.
“That’s Syra,” I told him. “She’s not a Freelancer, but she’s skilled and helping me with my current contract.”
“Like hired help or something?”
“Not really.” That never occurred to me until now. “Hey, Syra?” I grabbed her attention. “Why are you after the convoy anyway?”
“Oh,” she began. “I need to talk to the prisoner.”
“That’s… vague. You’re not gonna kill them are you?” She gave me an earnest laugh, letting her loosen up for just a second.
“No, no. I assure you I won’t harm them. They were subdued while investigating Daitech and I believe they found out information I want.”
“Well okay then, as long as I can safely deliver them after.” I turned back to Rot who’s expression had turned dire.
“Daitech, huh?” His tone was more serious than I ever heard before. “So this involves them,”
“Uh, yeah. Is that a problem?”
“Considering they’re breathing down our necks right now, it seems pretty fuckin suspicious that a Freelancer shows up talking about knocking over a convoy of theirs.” Oh no, not this shit again.
“Oh my god, please, Rot,” I groaned, really not wanting to go down this road for a second time tonight. “Big G already mistook me for Corp and tried to kill me. I’m really not in the mood.”
“You’ve been to the Underdown? Why did he think you were Corp?” Rot interrogated accusingly. Oh shit, I fucked up.
“Because,” I sighed in resignation and waved to Syra, who looked up nervously. “I was looking for her.”
“Why’d he think the Corp wanted her?”
The Valkyrie and I locked eyes. She looked doubtful, but I gave her a nod. I could tell she still didn’t like it, but she reached back for the small battery on her back and clicked a button. The black, glossy material faded into its transparent form.
I could see Rot’s brow raise when he caught sight of her runes, astounded.
“Is she legit or are those only tattoos?”
Without the need to coax her, Syra’s eyes began to glow like they did when I was in the pit with her. Her runes illuminated in a color matching her glare while her green hair flowed and sparked with energy.
“H-holy shit…” Rot stammered. Once she decided the biker had his fill, Syra’s light simmered and her hair settled. She reached back to turn her jacket to its dark sheen once more.
“You realize,” Rot struggled, still clearly taken aback, “Almost all of the Valkyries are under Corporate control.”
“I’m not,” Syra took her turn to argue. “I went to Big G to earn some cash for supplies in this heist. Cage fighting sounded like easy money with my abilities. He promised me a fair sum if I just appeared in a surprise match to boost the Underdown’s reputation. He didn’t want me to stick around after that since he knew the Corp would come looking for me.” Her eyes were no longer anxious. Instead her anxiety was replaced with determination. “I can promise you, sir, I don’t serve anyone but myself, and my goals will harm no one but the Corps themselves.”
The look in her eyes would’ve been enough for me. There was something about the Valkyrie that struck me. Looking at her now almost made me think we were back at the Underdown, slugging it out again. I could tell Rot was still reluctant, however, but he relented.
“Fine,” he concluded. “I really want to believe you. So I’ll believe you. I hope I’m not killing this club by doing this.”
“Rot,” I promised, taking his organic hand in my cold, steel one. “I swear this’ll be fine.”
The next few minutes were spent with small talk. The cheerful energy Rot displayed before we mentioned Daitech was gone though. And it only further served the growing worry inside me. Each second that ticked by brought me closer and closer to Pup.
Then the door opened.
“Rot, why is Gecko pa-” his eyes met mine and I could see those beautiful blue orbs light up. He looked so different. So much older. His short, black hair was messy and faded. I could see wiring and neural implants that weren’t there before. He had the new addition of gauges and wiring going down his shallow cheek down from his eye to his chin, telling me he had some sort of optical augment. He had a short, unkempt beard that I’m pretty sure he had because he didn’t find the time to shave. And much like Rot and Gecko, he looked so tired. Dark creases rested below his eyes, and his eyes themselves were those of somebody that had seen too much. Yet he still held himself tall and confidently.
I noticed he wore a messy flannel underneath the same jacket he had years ago. A jacket that had gotten many new additions much like the man who wore it. It was reinforced with armor. I could see the shapes of the plates beneath the old leather. More plates lined the arms and wiring ran down beneath the armpit and up to a small flashlight mounted on his shoulder. My gaze traveled down, seeing worn jeans and black combat boots with a long holster on his side. The wood grip of an old lever action rested within.
He looked ready for action. I wondered if it was because of Daitech or if he was always this armed and armored now.
I don’t know how long we just stared at each other like that, it felt like eons, but in reality it was probably just for a second. Eventually, Pup broke the silence, his wide eyes settling into a more neutral, tired look.
“Nala?” his voice was more gravelly than I remembered. “If I knew you showed up I would’ve cleaned myself up a little.”
Jokes were a good sign right? I could feel my heart pounding.
“Yeah, you look like shit,” I replied with a playful laugh. Fuck! The first thing I tell him after all this time is that he looks awful! But he gave me a small smile. It faded back to an indifferent stare.
“So, what do you want?” His voice was monotone and uncaring. I felt that anxiety creeping through me, causing me to stammer.
“I-I’m a Freelancer,” I told him in a shaky voice, taken aback by his tone.
“We need guns and armor,” Syra interjected for me, looking at me mildly confused. She didn’t understand my situation.
“They’re tipping a Daitech convoy tomorrow,” Rot added. “And don’t worry, I’ve talked to them already, they’re clean.”
“Yeah, what they said,” I finished, embarrassed. Pup stared at no one in particular for a moment, thinking.
“I’m gonna guess you need some higher level gear then,” Pup pondered, pulling a pack of cigarettes from his jacket pocket along with a lighter and lighting one up. When’d he start smoking? “How much money do you two got?”
“Between the two of us,” Syra answered, “we have a fair bit of tiff.”
“Well you’re in luck then,” Pup took a huff of his stick and blew out a puff of smoke. “We got our hands on a fresh shipment of valuable Daitech loot.” He seemed so business. I noticed he didn’t put his eyes on me since the initial shock of seeing me.
“If you’ll follow me,” he began walking towards another door, gesturing for us to come with him. Syra and I both rose, but Rot stayed behind at the bar, looking sympathetic.
We stepped through the door and into a much wider area. Conveyors and machines of all kinds surrounded us, all of which were currently on, filling the air with sounds of manufacturing. Catwalks were sprawled out above, all barren and connecting to various rooms on a second floor. I would’ve been more curious about it all if my mind wasn’t so caught up on Pup. I could see the man in front of me dropping embers from his cig, using the concrete below our feet as an ashtray.
From behind, I could see the patches on his back. The sharp stylization of Street Breed labeling the jacket along with the MC’s logo of the side profile of a brown wolf head snarling and an automatic rifle crossing behind it. I couldn’t help but give a little smirk seeing he was still shorter than me. It wasn’t very surprising, not many people were taller than me, but I found it amusing. He was larger than Syra, at least.
We stepped into an office that’d been converted to an armory. Pup unlocked the door and I could see the walls were lined with racks of guns of all shapes and sizes. Some were so large they looked like they were meant to be mounted on vehicles. Along the wall adjacent to the entrance hung a half dozen uniform outfits. They were all dull grey, heavy industrial looking coats padded out with thick steel armor. Matching pants hung beside each and even armored boots sat below every outfit. Gas masks were displayed above every one as well. A rifle that was partially dismantled laid across an old desk with various tools scattered about underneath a lit lamp.
“Shit,” Pup began, looking over the parts of the weapon. “Looks like Roo’s been playing with the goods.” It was clear he was thinking out loud and wasn’t directed to us. “Anyway, this is all our high end equipment courtesy of Daitech. If you’re planning on going stealthy, you might want to get a couple sets of these.”
He pointed towards the armored suits. “These are Daitech Covert Heavy Miner Combat Rigs. They’re meant for combat inside industrial and mining areas. Been seeing a lot of these being moved around for some reason. They’d still be very effective in the city, and would keep you masked. The armor covers most of your body, the masks themselves have tinted visors, and they have a setting to dull your colors so you don’t have to worry about your hair. They’re a thousand tiff per set. As for weapons, take a look around and see if something strikes you.”
He was so straightforward with his selling points, and still refused to look directly at me. With an internal sigh, I instead focused on the selection around me. I liked the .45 I kept on my hip, but no doubt this heist called for something with more kick. Convoy usually meant armored vehicles and lots of guards. I wanted something big, and thankfully size and power wasn’t a hindrance to me anymore. My augmented limbs, enhanced muscles, and reinforced bones meant I was several times stronger than any all organic human.
My eyes settled on a long, boxy rifle. It looked to be a long ranged weapon if the scope told me anything. The rounds it used must’ve been gigantic with its thick clip size and it sported a vertical hand grip for stability. It was also painted a soft, dark blue which I thought looked nice.
I hefted it off the wall and turned to Pup, who for the first time since he walked into the lounge, looked me in the eyes. “How much for this?”
“Ah, the Daitech .50 cal marksman rifle. Semi auto featuring an adjustable zoom scope, vertical grip, and laser sight. That’d run you about fifteen hundred.” I was really happy I got that extra spending cash from the Underdown. “You sure you want that?” Pup asked, still masking any emotions towards me. “Nobody here has the augs to properly use that thing. Think you can handle it?”
“Trust me, it won’t be a problem.”
I sat in the lounge with Pup. I told him I wanted to talk. Syra had already left with a newly purchased AR as well as her armor. She told me she had a safe place to hide out until tomorrow and we made plans to meet up at the east elevator to the Third at noon. Now I stood at the bar with my freshly bought rifle leaning against the counter beside me. A case filled with my armor and a dozen clips for my rifle, running me fifty tiff each rested to my other side. Big G more than paid for the gear for this heist. At least something good came out of the Underdown mess.
“So,” Pup began after pouring us both a shot of whiskey from the other side of the counter. “I don’t think this talk will go how you’d hoped.”
“That’s fine,” I told him, taking the shot and downing it. The burn helped me a little. “I wasn’t hoping for much anyway.” We both stood in silence for a little bit while we tried to articulate our feelings.
“This was a really bad time,” the biker started finally. “For you to show up I mean. Daitech has been on our asses, we’re all worn out and on edge. A Freelancer showing up on our doorstep doesn’t help. The others will likely be pissed once they find out, and it’ll just add to their stress when they find out it was you.”
“I’m sorry,” I gave him. “I didn’t know. I didn’t have anyone else to turn to with this kind of deal.” There was another bout of silence. “That’s not all I’m sorry for. I know I fucked you over and-”
“Save it,” Pup snapped back. I flinched at the response. I think he was harsher than he meant to be, because once he saw my reaction he softened and gave me an apologetic look. “You hurt me a lot. More than I could ever say.” He poured another shot and twirled it in his hand for a moment, searching for the right words. “It’s nice to see you’re okay after so long. I worried about you so much. But, Nala,” he looked into my bright green eyes, “I don’t love you anymore.” I knew that’d be the case, but it still stung to hear those words. I clenched my hand so hard the shot glass in my grasp cracked and I let my gaze drift down to it. “And, frankly, I don’t think you’d love who I am now. I don’t know what’s gone on with you in the past eight years and, honestly, I’m not sure I wanna know.”
“I…” I fished for words. I don’t know what I was expecting. Nothing good. But even knowing that, hearing what he was saying was no less difficult. It felt like all of my nervousness that’d been piled up since I got here exploded in a nauseating wave of depression. It was like my chest wanted to cave in on itself and I couldn’t think of what I wanted to say.
“Got nothing then?” Pup asked, disappointed. I drew a blank, all I could focus on was the emotions washing over me. “Alright,” the biker leader walked around the counter. “I’m going back to bed.”
As he reached the door, however, he turned around. I gave him a side glance as I propped up my forehead with my palm.
“Just because I don’t love you like I did, doesn’t mean I don’t still care about you.” He opened the door but didn’t leave yet. “I know somebody else that’ll want a stake in your op. I’ll give him a call and give you a little more backup. And once all this shit’s blown over…” He paused tentatively. “Come by again. Maybe we could start over as friends... Get some sleep, Nala.”
Then he left.
submitted by SubjectSigma77 to Cyberpunk [link] [comments]

[Let's Build] d100 Strange Shops

Maybe magical, extraplanar, or just unusual. Comment and I'll add yours to the list :)

  1. Imp Imporium - This store is small and boxy, and entirely made of redwood. A tall devil stands behind the counter wearing a suit and tie, and imps are chained to the walls. He offers you the services of one of his imps for a small price- the rights to the imp's memories of what they did when you're done. He requires a much larger material collateral for if you don't return the imp or it dies/is irreparably maimed in your service.
  2. Coagulation Station - A seemingly normal (if ugly) old woman runs this roadside popup store. It is nothing more than a cart with a sign next to it reading "Coagulation Station" painted roughly in red over a lime background. She offers healing supplies, potions, and rations in return for a small vial of your blood. (Feel free to come up with consequences for buying from her, such as her being a hag or using it for a strange ritual, etc.)
  3. Elemental Extras - An air, earth, fire and water elemental stand in the four corners of this (entirely brick) shop. Unfortunately, the "shopkeepers" only speak primordial, so good luck if you don't. They each offer to put special elemental effects on whatever you own, such as a fire effect on your sword, an ice effect on your armor to freeze whatever hits you, or an earth effect on an arrow to have surrounding dirt swallow whoever it hits. Everything here is understandably very expensive.
  4. Vraug aks stor - A very tall, older orc hero enthusiastically tries to sell his weapons in this shop in order to retire. They're hung up on the walls, all showing varying signs of use. Some appear to be magical. Vraug also tries to tell his customers stories about each weapon before they buy (and especially before they ask.) The weapon most prominently displayed is a +4 Great Axe, with obsidian blades, a dragon-scale tip on the end and golden threads running down the handle. There are a few chinks in it, and the tip somehow has a dent in it, but the damage only seems to add to the charm. He charges an extraordinary price for this axe.
  5. Angel Bazaar - Apparently recently the churches haven't been generating enough coin to keep the local deity fiscally afloat, and some angels have taken it upon themselves to raise that extra money. Some are selling more regular items for cheaper prices, such as healing items, some are selling more extravagant magical items, and even others are offering "miracles." They're all set up in a series of stands in a small square that you swear wasn't here before.
  6. Betsie's Black Cauldron- everything is black, especially Betsie. From black oak ethanol to black licorice she has ingredients and potions unique to her gimmick. u/LateLolth96
  7. The Fleeting Flyer's Fast Findings- if the item floats, flies, or is otherwise airborne this shop might have it. Limited time only and has (randomized) a rare three uncommons and six commons but the more you travel the more likely you are to come across it because it's on a one man spell jammer with two carnival cars behind it. u/LateLolth96
  8. The Kyuss Kasino- a worm themed casino where the main attraction is the purple tunnel which is a purple worm in a metal harness designed to prevent it from moving and to keep its mouth open. The wager, and incidentally, the show is if you can make it out the other end alive you [win]. There are scrying orbs that display a live feed of the current "adventurer" in the worm for 5 silver lasting 30 min before the next five silver (no refunds). Quest hook? u/LateLolth96
  9. Djinni Gin Jamboree- a once a month festival celebrating a moon cycle of the dm's choosing. Marids sell their distilled saliva as well as various forms of never-before-seen-by-man fish dishes, and water elementals play live music which more or less sounds like the rhythmic gurgling of a muddy brook. u/LateLolth96
  10. The Crossroads Corridor - An invite only shop, given to adventures who have a number of their own magical items. When the invitation is slid under any closed doorway, said doorway will become the doorway to the shop. Operated by The Masked Man, it is a magical item shop that trades magical items for magical items of similar value. Leaving will exit out the door you originally put the invitation under. u/Hacknslaasher
  11. Bottom's Bottomless Meatpies - It's cheap, delicious (although a bit gamey and hard to chew) and the servings are enormous. The shop is run by an old goblin with an enormous smile, his name is Toothy Bottom, less so because of his bum, and more so because of a secret that he isn't telling any one, the secret that has made his Meatpie-shop the most well visited in the entire area, at least by those not able to afford fine dining in the upper districts.For you see, underneath this humble shopped, staffed every hour of every day with more goblins than you can count on one hand, or two hands if you have taken ABM (Advanced Barbarian Maths), lies a large, cavernous mining operation.You enter it through a set of large trap-doors found in the cold-store basement where you find the literal wheelbarrows of meat that allow every customer to order however much meat they want in (or on) their pies, as long as the Goblins can lift it up to the counter (the largest order so far was, according to the Goblins managing the front of the house, "the weight of a small baby wrapped in a nasty hunting dog." they have made no comment as to how they know that specific measurement).Once you are through the trap-doors, you'll find a rail-system rivaling that of the largest Dwarven mines, with rail-master goblins timing and directing all the in- and out- going traffic, and every cart that comes in is absolutely and utterly loaded with meat, which is then loaded on wheelbarrows and carted up through the trapdoor.If you were to follow the rails as deep as they go, through all of the winding tunnels, across chasms, past various cave-dwelling monsters that try to snack on the meat or goblins or, well, you, then you'll eventually find yourself at the namesake of mr. Toothy Bottom.A large, mass of rock-hard skin, covered in spines and horns and other sharp shapes, it has been split open, and the dark flesh underneath is mined ceaselessly by a small army of Goblins. They aren't violent, in fact, they are quite cowardly, but they are as professional as any Goblin can be, and they are also fighting a continuous fight against the flesh with their pickaxes.For you see, the open wound is constantly trying to close itself, regenerating at a blinding speed that the Goblins have learned to keep up with after opening the wound large enough to allow for their massive excavation progress.This may be the toothy bottom of the pits and chasms.But it is also a small area of the sleeping Tarrasque, regenerating fast enough that it does not notice the harm being done to it, and with a large enough Goblin Workforce to drive the economy of what is, essentially, a small Goblin Kingdom in these tunnels, complete with blacksmiths making new Meat-axes and monster-hide-leathercrafters making workboots and pants for the Goblins working down in that caustic blood.And let's not forget, that the entire lower class of the city has eaten Tarrasque meat at least once, some of them for years.But it's only two silver pieces for as much pie as you want (or can carry), so who cares to ask where it's all coming from? u/Neknoh
  12. Sarah’s sewing shop, “World class Seamstress.” - She means world class! She can repair even magical fabric to like new condition. Everything she makes alterations to gives them a +1 to charisma for 24hrs or until dirtied. Bonus returns after being thoroughly washed and dried (some items are dry clean only)She’s also a dry cleaners. u/rab-byte
  13. The Philosopher’s Time Shop - Sundials, watches, windup clocks, candle clocks, hourglasses the size of mites up to the size of your average goliath, the Philosopher has a range to suit almost any buyer in need of a way to measure time. Be careful, the hours you spend there fly away like seconds! u/ElZoof
  14. Oakshot Saddliery - Gwinnett Oakshot caters to a select clientele, those looking for clothes, armour, weapons and equipment specifically designed to suit those who spend at least part of their days in a different body shape. Minor magic at most, it’s mostly just very well designed to suit your Druid on the go or werebeing out for a night on the town. u/ElZoof
  15. Jasper, Goldhand, Bloodstrangler and Smith - What does “‘til death us do part” mean if your wife is now a lich? Does a lifetime guarantee still stand if the object in question broke before the manufacturers were born? What exactly is an annuity? The firm of JGB&S is on hand to assist with non-devilish contracts of any kind. u/ElZoof
  16. Morogh's "Pet's" - This pet shelter is run by an older halfling named Morogh. He's kindhearted and only wants the best for his little animal companions he sells. From apes over hawks to wolfs, he just has every animal companion you could think of, but his store also has a back area. Not everyone is welcomed there as he also sells abandoned monster hatchlings, like griffons, owlbears, pseudodragons and even a red dragon wyrmling. Those monsters are all tamed so no danger there, Morogh just wants to know his customers better before trying to sell one of his more 'exotic' assets.The adventurers maybe can persuade him or do a favor for him (possible quest), like acquiring some exotic food for the more demanding beasts and monsters he houses. After this Morogh decides to sell them one of his monsters as a companion. u/Th3Banzaii
  17. Plane Ole' Butcher - A butcher shop that sells meat from an unknown plane of origin. One day a small portal opened up from the ground and strange-smelling exotic meats have been extruding from the portal. A shop was built around the portal which has been active and pumping for 50 years. People come to see the wonder firsthand but they stay for the dirt-cheap meats. The meats are char-grilled and heavily spiced to soften the meat's naturally pungent flavor. u/HeyShipmate
  18. Looters Late Return (aka LooLaRe)- A seedy smelling store run by an androgynous goblin who wears overly fancy clothes. This goblin sells in bulk only, and at discounted prices. The catch is that if you make a purchase, you must sign a contract guaranteeing repeated weekly purchases. Your bulk discount increases the more product you are able to move, but if you are unable to maintain your weekly purchases, the goblin’s secret network of enforcers comes for it’s dues. Or your life. u/pikkl_rikk
  19. Sandman Fisheries - This tightly packed stall smells or marine air and salty nets. It has all the sea can offer to the gourmet with a striking emphasis on huge fish: tuna, spadefish, and the occasional gargantuan squid. The product is impeccably fresh. Always. Sandman (a desert dweller and camel race aficionado) doesn't seem to understand what you're asking about the supply chain and how come his shop ever exists at hundred of miles from the nearest sea! u/Banuken
  20. T'zargo's fine wares - This shop can be mysteriously seen in any plane, but always appears as an identical modern convenience store looking building. Inside is a tabaxi named T'zargo, always advertising his "fine wares at reasonable prices." He sells extremely rare and powerful items for millions of gold, along with random everyday items. Some of these rare items include an axe once wielded by Baphomet, and draws from a deck of many things. His mundane items he always pulls out of a box on his counter, and they include a full rowboat and 30 chairs. u/Kellen1013
  21. The Magic Commoner - A basic magic item shop owned by a young elf wizard named Tavon Ilidan. He sells all sorts of magical things from armor to weapons and rings an such.The thing about his shop even though on the outside it looked like a regular building despite being one solid color; purple, orange, green ect. But when you walk inside it's much larger than its outward appearance.The shop also travels via a magical door. Tavon has a set of different keys he keeps with him representing the different cities of the land/world. He first closes the front door, locks it, then unlocks it with a new city key and when he opens it, it opens to the new city.Tavon's appearance reflects on which city he is in and what color his shop is. If is shop is blue his robes are blue as well. Tavon also has a secret. Even though he looks like a young elf he is actually an ancient gold dragon that simply likes to travel and meet new people without the stigma of being a dragon. He likes to play tricks on people and test them to see if they are worthy of specific items in his shop, (IE a wand of fireballs he made himself.) u/nota_person
  22. Mallard Maladies - A veterinary clinic for ducks. The shop keeper is an old blind man who refuses to heal non duck creatures, but can be tricked into healing non ducks with a high enough deception ability. Despite the name, the clinic services male and female ducks. u/El_Jewbacabra
  23. The Exploding Wand Shop- A shop that is characterized by an explosion that lifts the roof of the building off the walls and expelled black smoke every few hours - followed by the owner shouting from inside "I'M FINE, EVERYTHING'S OKAY!"The owner is a young Eladrin Artificer named Seyf Melorathian who experiments on new wands and other magical wonders. His face is a black charcoal from the soot of the explosions but otherwise would be a light brown. He has a pair of glasses that protects his eyes from being covered in soot. He has blond hair and wears a Smith's apron. He sells common rarity wands, up to rare rarity wonderous items, and has been working on an experimental wand of fireballs. You can only purchase an experimental wand if you do a material gathering quest for him.If you buy one of his wand of fireballs (2000gp and a waiver signed to not sue) there's a 10% chance that when used the wand will cast a second fireball centered on you during the spell.He also offers enchanting services at various speeds depending on the rarity of the requested enchantment. He will also willingly take on apprentices or teach enchantment to anyone. u/xBramStokerx
  24. Fishman’s Man Fry – A Triton, named Vamras Vogalath, with broken Common serves delectable seafood dishes. If asked about the name, he explains that it is food FOR men, not for fishes.Side note- this is shop is not anywhere near any large body of water. Nobody in town is sure exactly where the fish come from. u/Unprincipled
  25. Shwarma Tent - delicious herb infused fried flatbread with cured meats and shredded carrot and cucumber. The tent has small tripod tables and stools of worn wood. Patrons carve their names and other messages into the tabletops. Among the mundane names can be found the names of previous characters and NPCs that the party met, BBEGs they defeated, dated long ago, the current ruler of the land and the name of an old lover with a heart around it, Ash Ketchum, Drizzt, The Doctor, and the original Avengers. Searching carefully can also reveal a cryptic message to the party, seemingly carved years prior, but naming the PCs. u/bluecor
  26. Threads of Fate - three old sisters weave spidersilk and mundane silk into beautiful garments with embroidery that sometimes changes its image. For instance, a nightrobe has the moon and a starry sky embroidered, and the moon changes its phase with the real moon. On another, a dragon slowly chases its own tail, with its wingtips pointing to the time, as a clock. Yet another displays an hourglass which constantly drains, and runs out when the wearer dies. Other images might show great moving battles, gently waving flags that slowly fade and dilapidate as the empire becomes more corrupt, or ruins that become progressively overgrown with vines. The theme of the garments deal with the passage of time and the inevitable end of life. u/bluecor
  27. Salty's - the owner Saltamancia sells salt of differing coarseness and colors, and is an expert on which textures best compliment which purposes, from baking fine rolls to soaking one's feet after a days march. He has certain rare salts from distant lands with rare properties. For abjuring circles, he has a blessed salt that cannot be dispersed by gusts of wind. For healing, he has a fine blue salt that, when mixed with honey and packed into a wound, prevents infection and scarring. Another salt taken with hot peppermint tea can remove an additional level of exhaustion with a rest. True to his name, Saltamancia is old and curmudgeonly u/bluecor
  28. Bestboots - Bestboots sells custom footwear of exceeding quality, made from rare materials. The footwear can be light for nimble moves or heavy for kicking doors. With the right materials (possibly a quest) minor advantages can be built into the footwear. For example, a sole of felted yeti hair can give normal traction on ice, and a sole of gummed soapwood sap can allow the wearer to ignore a casting of grease underfoot. u/bluecor
  29. Hap's Microbrews - Hap claims to have perfected the means of beer portability, in that his brews are bottled and sealed under pressure in containers of lightweight spun cellulose which dont shatter when dropped. Opening his bottled beer releases a small localized burst of cold, chilling the beer just shy of freezing. The locals generally ignore his cart and "ice cold beer" sign, as ales are meant to be drunk at room temperature so that they don't unsettle the stomach. A discouraged Hap sits by his cart of beer bemoaning his own foolishness at sinking his fortune into such a folly. u/bluecor
  30. Indelible - this quiet dusty alcove sells the magical inks, parchment, paper, vellum, papyrus, and delicate quills needed to prepare arcane and divine scrolls. Also sketch artistry, heraldry, and calligraphy supplies. Blank spellbooks, charcoal, pastels, and a few unique items are sold. Glowing chalk leaves marks that remain luminous for several hours. A special lightly waxed paper is waterproof and can be written on underwater with a special pencil. A waterproof scrollcase holds six tightly rolled papers in individual tubes, designed so you can immediately draw out the scroll you desire without searching through a sheaf of papers. The proprietor Abagnale is a gifted forger, and can make needed documents for the right fee, but only those skilled in thieve's cant would be able to recognize this based on a small glyph carved above the lintel. u/bluecor
  31. The Magical Arts - this is a totally mundane shop which sells shaved and marked decks of cards, scarves for pulling from your sleeves, salted nuts cans that shoot a confetti burst when opened, squirting lapel flowers, palm buzzers, chewing gum that turns your teeth black, whoopie cushions, and stink spray. The guy working there isn't the owner, but is happy to teach you how to use his goods. While distracting you with a card trick, he will also attempt to shortchange you or pickpocket something (minus 4 to notice his ledgerdemain). If caught, he will only say "check your pocket" and there you will find the item you thought he pickpocketed. "Its all part of the trick, man," he will say, as he pulls a coin from your ear. u/bluecor
  32. The Bee's Knees - honey from different types of flowers with exceptional flavors. Meads of each type are also sold, as well as bee pollen and honey candies. A honey from frostclover will quickly dispell a hangover. Phasebee royal jelly can allow an additional use of misty step for a character with that feature, but the cost is exorbitant. The affogatto with honeycomb, coffee, and ice cream is delicious, and gives the benefits of a short rest when consumed in the shop over the course of an hour. u/bluecor
  33. Wacky Backy - Mr. C. Marin runs this fine tobacconist. House blends of pipe and cigarette tobacco can have classic Gandolf effects: controllable luminous smoke rings of various colors, and custom flavors and scents. The halfling weed is also sold. A self-lighting pipe is available, as well as a "peace pipe," which is a heavy iron pipe useable as a club (but you can also smoke out of it). Mr. Marin can craft custom peace pipes of nearly any light weapon. u/bluecor
  34. Wild Bill's Skins - Bill buys and sells tanned and untanned hides of all types. All. Types. Bill can craft armor and other leather goods from nearly any type of hide. Custom saddles can be made for any beast. A saddle on display is embossed "ride me hard and put me away wet." It isn't for sale, and it looks like it would fit Bill. He can craft a skin-tight custom leather armor that is concealable under clothing, but the customer must go into the back of the shop for a very long and invasive fitting. Rumor has it that some customers never emerge. u/bluecor
  35. Yellow Dancer - This is a musical instrument store run by a purple-haired elf named Lancer who was a freedom fighter in the past. His sister, Yellow Dancer herself, a famous concert performer who is a recognized star, is sometimes there in his place. Instruments of high quality and beginner pieces are sold. On commission, Lancer can craft an instrument which contains a secret sheath for a hidden weapon or wand. Also sold is "the Axe," a battleaxe/guitar combo, with a magical property of sound amplification that allows it to be heard in the largest venue, and allows for unique distortion effects. At DM Option, the Axe can also be used for ranged sonic attacks, mimicking the effects of Eldritch Blast. u/bluecor
  36. The Titty Twister: an adult entertainment venue, mostly for merchants and caravan guards. A goblin barker in a tophat and coattails out front gives a spirited pitch about the feminine wonders to be found within. Inside is a seedy establishment styled to look like an ancient temple. Billiards and darts games line the walls, and a poker game is playing out at a table near the center. Its a rough crowd, and fights that break out are settled with the loser being dragged away by the bouncers and the winner buying a round for the house. Beautiful dancers take turns on stage and mingle with clients between songs. Private shows are available. During the day the massive door is barred and the place is eerily silent, but from dusk til dawn raucous action is there for the taking. Locals stay well clear and pray for protection if they must pass near this den of sin. u/bluecor
  37. The Campus Martius: This strange storefront is a place for games of strategy, including draughts and card games, as well as sandtable war strategy matches involving miniature army figurines, played out with dice and measuring sticks. Arguments over rules are common, and are arbitrated by a robed and wigged judge on a low dias at one end, who often consults an enormous tome of rules which only he is allowed to read from. 1sp per game, per player, but by convention, the loser pays the fees of his opponents. A sweet green drink called mountain brew is popular here. It enhances focus, adding +1 to concentration saves for an hour, but leaves one tired, -1 to all saves for an hour thereafter. u/bluecor
  38. Millenium Sustainable Armory: run by an elvish druid, Millenium sells "murder free" armor made from silk, giant leaves, sustainably harvested ironwood and similar materials. The armor otherwise has the properties of normal light and medium armors, but contains no leather, bone, or metal. Cost is about double. Heavy armor is not available. The leaves making up the armor do not wilt or turn brown. u/bluecor
  39. The Meat Market: run by a shadowy figure in torn robes, this odd shop gives permanent magical effects in exchange for body parts. The more important the organ or body part, the better the effect. The effect goes to whoever the part comes from, so don’t get greedy! Wonder where the parts are going... u/CephaloPawd
  40. Fernado's Fish Frenzy - in a village where magic and fishing collide, you might run into a man who can be at multiple places at a time, Fernado. He is a mystical fisherman who sets up booths in town squares, where the fish fight to the death in gladiator-style combat. The loser, is placed on his selling slab and the victor becomes larger in size. He has a 'leaderboard' that updates magically after every battle, accounting for all of the places Fernado is at in your world. u/BEZERK0xD
  41. A rickety old shop plastered with the title of some famous adventuring party / adventurer on it. The entire shop is run by a near delusional fan of the party/individual, and sells merchandise about them, as well as weirdly specific information that you aren't sure how they know. (If your party is famous enough, the store might be dedicated to them) u/bladeraptor3
submitted by vastowen to d100 [link] [comments]


"This is getting kinda depressing," Monokuma comments with a groan from his throne. "You're getting nowhere! If you're gonna lose the trial, at least do it in style..." He shakes a fist at the remaining students.
"Oh, but maybe..." He puhuhus some. "This could be an opportunity! Why don't we make a little game out of it? Trust me, it'll be worth your while..."
The Palace Class Trial: RESUME

Truth Bullets:



submitted by cha-chingis_khan to DanganFrontier [link] [comments]

[Coffee Shop Review] Single V Coffee Burnaby

Rating 8.7/10
5232 Irmin St
Mon - Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat - Sun: 10am-6pm
Note: If you want to see all the pictures, maps and whatever else you can read the sexier version of this here:
Single V Coffee
I'll be honest, I don’t really know what South Burnaby is. I once made the mistake of going to Metrotown only to find it’s the Canadian equivalent of a Vegas Casino – once you’re in there’s no bloody way out of the place. I’m pretty sure it’s the bastard love child of an MC Escher painting and the 1980’s movie Labyrinth. RIP Bowie. After several minutes in the fetal position, I ended up having to ask a grown up to help find an exit, lest I burst into tears.
I honestly don’t know how you Burnabarbarians tolerate that place.
So when I heard there was a new coffee shop that had opened even more south of there I may or may not have not spent some more time in the fetal position.
Good news though, I braved the nightmare that is rush hour Kingsway, to visit Single V Coffee; Burnaby’s incredible new coffee shop.
Single V Coffee are the only coffee shop in BC that exclusively serves Cat and Cloud coffee, all the way from California. (Side note, Cat and Cloud are currently being sued by Catterpiller diggers, in the stupidest lawsuit of the century). They’re almost certainly going to catch some flak from not choosing a local roaster, but I’ll leave that aside and tell you about the taste instead.
Price – $5
Beans – Cat and Cloud “The Answer”
The beans are the standard espresso roast from Cat and Cloud, highlighting some caramel notes. A teeny tiny bit of fruit from the Yirgacheffe beans in the blend added a lighter taste. The whole thing was a delicious caramel and honey, smooth and silky experience. Outstanding.
Price – $5
Beans – Cat and Cloud “The Answer”
Here we go!! This was getting much more towards my end of the strength spectrum as the rich espresso flavours really shone through the milk with this drink. Complex honeycomb and caramel notes with a chocolate finish, this was definitely my kind of cappuccino. They serve it latte-style with expertly steamed milk.
Pour Over
Price- $5
Beans – Cat and Cloud Keyna
Cat and Cloud have a focus on more accessible coffee, so this came in at about a medium roast level rather than a high acid fruity light roast. That being said, even when this was piping hot, it was really juicy and fruity. As it cooled it mellowed out in a big way, allowing the more toasty flavours to come out. I’d say this is a bang on example of a mid-range coffee that will please those that like the lighter stuff all the way to those that are graduating from the chain coffee style dark roasts. It’s going to be perfect for the demographic in the area.
In addition to the above, you can also get assorted teas as well as buy bags of beans to take home.
Single V is focused mainly on coffee, so whilst their food items are fairly limited, they were really tasty.
Roast Beef Sandwich
Price – $7
OK, OK I know this doesn’t look especially fancy, but let me tell you, this was quite simply a truly outstanding example of a simple beef sandwich. Supremely tender meat, rich melted swiss cheese and Japanese mayo, wrapped in light fluffy bread in a triple layer stack. The pictures don’t do the taste justice, just trust uncle Vancouver Coffee Snob, you should give this a try!
Cranberry Scone
Price – $3
I took this one home, slathered it in salty butter and it was a delight. Soft and crumbly but very buttery (even without the pound of butter I added). The cranberries were tart and balanced out the sweetness.
White walls, natural wood and leather adorn this place. Not leather in that kind of way you kinky bugger, weathered brown leather seats and stools. The fixings added a retro feel to the place, mixed with modern aesthetics. It’s a really nice, relaxing place to sit and hang out, with some chilled beats playing (seriously you need to go listen to music from Super Duper, it’s, well, super duper).
You know by now that I love a good communal table and Single V Coffee had one right in the middle of the shop. In addition, there were some tables and sofa seating scattered around. The communal table had a wireless phone charging point, which was a nice touch. I’d expect the seating to increase in the future as they inevitably get more and more popular. I’ve seen it a million times – ‘less is more’ gets superseded by demand. It’s a great problem to have and I’m sure it’ll happen soon!
The single bathroom at Single V Coffee is clean, spacious and nicely designed. The mirror is an especially interesting part of the room, as it’s pretty bloody fancy!
I’m torn – on one hand, it’s South Burnaby and it scares me. On the other hand, it’s got heaps of parking, all free, a bunch of buses that stop by and a Skytrain station (Royal Oak) about a 5 min walk away.
I was fortunate enough to get talking to the owner, Jason, and his brother, Ben. They were both extremely friendly, letting me go behind the bar to take all sorts of close up photos. They know their products inside out and are very passionate about coffee. I felt fully at home despite the fact I was almost certainly annoying them with my incessant questions about coffee!
Look, I know I was pretty tame in this review but I was worried about being sarcastic to people from South Burnaby. Honestly, they scare me a little. This is because I’m a soft Brit and people from that part of town are considerably tougher than my doughy exterior. Hopefully, they’ll become less terrifying of a horde, now that they have Single V Coffee in their hood.
In this snobs opinion, Single V is one of the most exciting coffee shops for a huge distance so they can’t be anything other than successful. It’s exciting to see Gastown quality shops appearing in such distant lands to my house, as it only strengthens the overall coffee scene. OK enough reading, get out there and at least try their sandwiches!
submitted by VancouverCoffeeSnob to vancouver [link] [comments]

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure OC Tournament #4: R3M13 - Yuigahama Kaito and Noriko Yabuuchi vs. ???

The results are in for Match 11. The winner is…
Flint Howlett, with a score of 85 to Tunde Ó Santos’s 61!
Category Winner Point Totals Comments
Popularity Flint Howlett 25-15 Despite taking an early lead and keeping it close for most of the match, Tunde was passed by Flint, who was able to hold onto his lead 7-4.
Quality Flint Howlett 30-23 Reasoning
JoJolity Flint Howlett 30-23 Reasoning
Although we gave a full result drop and epilogue for Matches 10 and 11 a few days ago, we’re reposting the results here for posterity. Things may have gotten a little strange with our schedule, but at the time of posting, there are a few hours left of voting for a match that is XPLICITly one of the craziest the tournament has ever seen.
Scenario - Somewhere in California:
After their gauntlet in Brazil, Gioia Arancini and Nico Wolfram had resolved to keep in touch as each of them found leads on what Pão de Queijo had told them about the Black Beetles and XPLICIT. Gioia had relayed what Sofia had learned from Ronald Fogerty about the Black Beetles’ boss, but the biggest piece of information the two teams had shared since then came after Demis Roussos and Hadrian Moore had successfully raided the Black Beetles headquarters, encountering that very boss’s Stand itself.
In the vault, the two had found a dossier on the production of XPLICIT, revealing a connection between Wilkinson’s use of consultants from Lyte, Ltd. and the first recorded appearances of the drug. All of this Gioia relayed to her team, all of whom she’d become much closer to after these experiences, especially a fateful trip to a Washington, DC museum with Schioppo following a successful go-kart race.
It seemed Ric Hawks was somewhat less thrilled by his time with the team, given his determined efforts to look into things on his own, barely consulting with his teammates. To him, the way to get information on Lyte was through their financials, particularly their increasingly shifty CFO. Stefan Pilatti, the one Ric could never quite shake since they’d failed to stop a jailbreak in San Diego, had a simpler idea one day on the bus, born largely out of exasperation:
“Why don’t we just shoot ‘em?”
‘Corazon’ rolled her eyes at this, thinking over everything they’d learned, still maybe a bit jittery from her experience in New Mexico and feeling ever so slightly guilty over how far she’d gone against Buggy Baxter, what with Connor’s report back from the casino. “Too many loose ends, and we don’t want anyone innocent caught up in the crossfire.”
“Yeah, but there’s so much to go over,” Schioppo added. “How are we going to actually get through tracking everything down, especially with Clyde busy with his new hunting business?”
The heretofore silent bus driver was thinking. Noriko Yabuuchi, sugar and ice to Kris and all ice, no fire to Schioppo, was warming up to both, though she wouldn’t admit it, and to the rest of the tea. To even her own surprise, she wanted to help. And she resolved to do so, the best way she knew how, using her own unique skillset.
“Okay, gang, let’s split up and search for clues.”
The Civil Disobedients sat around their bar, the atmosphere of a tense quality. Spirits had certainly been higher in the group’s time together, but things weren’t terribly dreary at the moment, Lyra thought quietly to herself, stirring a frosty glass of grape juice. Even though Prince Johnny’s last excursion hadn’t ended well by any stretch of the imagination: the Civil Disobedients hadn’t heard hide nor hair of him since, they had no idea where he might have been, but Lyra simply hoped he was safe.
Fighter Jet was his usual sunny self, trying to keep spirits up by cracking jokes and recounting their better times, but Kaito wasn’t having any of it, sullen as he stared into an empty glass, contemplating his team, himself. Then Fighter Jet said something—Kaito didn’t quite remember what—but he snapped back. “Maybe we’d have more people after Tags right now if people hadn’t been dicking around during the first round!”
He shot a withering glare at Lyra, who shrunk back on her stool, looking off to the side. “I’m sorry— about me and Djimon, I really could have done better, I, ah… um…”
Kaito continued to lambast her, squeezing his glass tighter, his knuckles turning white. “Maybe we should’ve just sent you out alone, Lyra, then maybe we would’ve seen better results fro—“
Down the bar, Baroness smashed down an empty mug, shards of glass dancing on the bar for a brief moment, before they fell dead on the countertop, the floor, even on Baroness. “KAITO.” She snapped, face red with anger. “Shut the fuck up, okay?! If you’re such hot shit, then where’s all the Tags you’ve collected recently, huh? —What’s that? You don’t have any? Why’s that unsurprising to me?!”
The silence that befell the group was deafening. His face hot with embarrassment, Kaito simply rose from his seat and walked towards the door, leaving the rest of his team behind. Unbeknownst to the rest of his team, Kaito’s face was contorted into a grimace. Every footfall seemed to take forever, despite his quick pace. Was the door always this far away? Even Fighter Jet had quieted, watching the door shut after him.
“Ah… um, Baroness…” Lyra begun, fidgeting with her fingers. “I appreciate you standing up for me, but some of that stuff went a bit too far, don’t you think? It was uncalled for…”
Baroness brushed the few shards of glass off of her pants, a twinge of regret filling her as she cleared her throat, now dry.
Another report successfully filed, finances adjusted, errors corrected, everything under his control as perfect as it could be, as there was little satisfaction as good as a job well done at the end of the day, no matter the nature of the work he was getting done.
Click, click, click…
The man finished what tea was left in his mug, idly clicking his treasured pen, before he tucked it away in the breast pocket of his suit, rising from his executive style chair, high backed and comfortable. He stretched for a moment, before he grabbed his briefcase, striding to the break room to clean and put away the mug. There was something sterile about the environment. Something falsely homey. After he dried out the mug, he set it back into the cupboard, and rubbed his eyes from underneath his glasses. The room wasn’t creepy or unnerving, but after a week, it came to be a bit much for the man’s more subdued tastes.
He made his way through the main working floor, something of a maze of frosted glass and cubicles filled with personal objects. He kept a firm grip on the handle of his briefcase, the occasional employee in the hall seemed to shrink and scurry away, as if to not incur his ire—not that he had much to give at the moment. He did, however, spot a figure dozing at one of the cubicles, black roots beginning to set back into his dyed blonde hair, and his hawaiian shirt slightly crumpled. He supposed it was casual Friday.
With a sigh that was… sympathetic? He walks over, giving a sharp knock on the wall of the cubicle to get his attention. The young man instantly starts awake, wheeling around in his chair, face gaunt with embarrassment. “Muh— Muh— Mister Alcove! I’m sorry, I! Uh— I was—“
Maui Jim stuttered through some vague explanations, quickly snatching two empty Red Bull cans and crumpling them up, throwing them into the trash can beneath his desk. Tom simply stood there, letting him finish whatever he was attempting to say. A glance at his monitor showed that he was on track, even with his noticeably heavy workload.
“I intend to go home now, Maui Jim,” he said calmly once the young man had finished stammering, cheeks bright red. “How much longer do you have?”
“M-Me? I was— Uh I was gonna stay and, I’m super behind, and, uh…”
“Hm. Carry on, then. You’ve got quite a bit of important work to do, and I don’t mean to interrupt. But do clean up your workspace.”
Tom left it at that, turning to walk towards the elevator as Maui stammered his belated apology, hastily clearing up his supplies as the CFO stepped into the elevator, thankfully empty, heading down to the ground floor where he would be able to leave.
“Thanks, Ric, thanks, Corazon…” Murmured Noriko as she taped a small copy of a map onto her dashboard, marked with pen and highlighter to indicate the most probable path their wanted man would take. She could practically hear the voices of her teammates:
*”We went through what we could find out about his schedule, he always stops at this grocery store after he leaves work on Fridays. No idea why, but he does.”
“Uh,” Corazon had interjected. “Maybe just maybe because he’s a normal person who wants to stock up on some essentials before the weekend, duh.”
”...What was I thinking. Fuck.” Kaito walked down the sidewalk, away from the bar he had been inside mere moments before. Did he even actually like any of them? Why did he bother to stick around? He gave a pebble a forceful kick, and watched it skitter across the sidewalk and into a row of bushes. Baroness was nothing but a bossy know-it-all. He could hardly stand her and her holier-than-thou attitude. And Djimon. Why had they let a child into the Civil Disobedients, again? Maybe the whole group would’ve been more success if Lyra wasn’t always so out to lunch. Prince Johnny was a horny creep, and probably a liar, and Fighter Jet… He… Couldn’t think of anything bad about Fighter Jet…
Noriko’s bus was empty, an unusual occurrence, and Noriko was largely left alone with her thoughts. Union Jack sticker. Navy car with Union Jack sticker. Looking for the Navy Car with a Union Jack sticker. That was him… she had to find him… She was one intersection away from the grocery store, and she rolled to a stop as the traffic lights overhead turned red. She reached to turn on the fan at the front of the bus, basking in the gusts of cool air. This wouldn’t be so hard. She’d track him down and ask some questions, right?
Knock, knock, knock
Kaito rapped his knuckles on the bus door’s glass pane, his posture shrunken, shoulders drawn inward, head tilted down. Noriko, operating on muscle memory, flicked the lever to open the door at the sound. Her eyes shot open, and she turned, staring face to face with Kaito. She hadn’t meant to open the door!
Kaito’s eyes widened. He recognized this girl… she was the one he fought in Venice! He stammered, backing up a bit.
“Oh, it’s you, I, um…”
Her eyes narrowed. She recognized him as well. But Kaito could tell from the look on her face, the way she surveyed her surroundings… there was a look of ‘Intent’ on her face. She was here for a reason...
Out of the corner of her eye, Noriko caught sight of a dark-coloured car pulling out of the parking lot. She turned to confirm, and as she made out the Union Jack sticker on the window, she turned back to Kaito, her expression one of stern urgency. “Get on.”
Kaito, still somewhat hesitant, nonetheless complied, boarding the bus and hopping in the seat. The door quickly shut behind him, and the overhead light flicked to green as Noriko peeled off after her target.
The end of the work week had finally arrived, many an office worker rejoicing their two days of freedom, quickly punching out and scurrying home. For one man in particular, the weekend was a time of great joy, as it meant for two precious days he was able to see his teenage son, Timothy. The man had settled into a routine he thought was just right; leave work, pick up groceries for the weekend, visit his ex-wife’s house to pick up Tim, then make his way home for dinner (catching up on the details of his son’s week he had missed between phone calls), eventually followed by a movie with popcorn.
For Thomas Alcove, this was (mostly) perfect.
He was on his way to pick up Tim at this very moment, groceries nestled snugly in the backseat, everything he’d need for a weekend. A dozen eggs, 2% milk, rye bread, green onions, the bags of candy in their bold packaging that Tim had found a distinct fondness for, Earl Gray, Chamomile… the list could go on. The bags rustled quietly as Tom turned a corner, his vehicle roomy, yet modest, painted a dark navy, a Union Jack sticker sitting proudly on the bottom corner of the rear window. There was the usual rush hour traffic that he sat through with a level head, beginning to clear the further from downtown he drove, save for a bus that seemed to follow him. He shifted his gaze from the rearview mirror and back to the road, adjusting his glasses. The notion that he was being tailed was nonsense.
Or so he thought.
Kaito rested against the back of the bus seat, hardly the most comfortable, but eons better than being out, alone with his thoughts.
“What’s your name?” Noriko asked from the front, looking back at Kaito through the bus’ rear view window with a quizzical glance, her expression having softened somewhat.
“I’m Kaito. Yuigahama Kaito.”
Noriko’s expression brightened, and she slipped back into her mother tongue. “どの県で育ちましたか?” She asked, looking eagerly back through the mirror. Kaito, however, blinked, leaning forward and cupping a hand to his ear.
“どの県で育ちましたか?” She repeated, her smile weakening somewhat.
“Is that, uh… I don’t speak Japanese, I moved away before I had a chance to learn anything…” he responded meekly, feeling somewhat awkward for having crushed her visible enthusiasm.
Noriko frowned in deep displeasure. She went out of her way to try and connect with somebody who shared her heritage, only to get nothing in return. He didn’t even speak a word of Japanese? Pathetic.
The bus fell back into silence. A silence Kaito was all too familiar with, a silence steeped and fermented in disappointment, tainted like a corked wine. He silently cursed to himself; how did he even mess basic conversation up?
Noriko’s eyes focused on the road, and on their target ahead of them. Kaito focused forward as well, though his eyes darted between the road or Noriko. He wanted to try again… he didn’t want things to be awkward.
He rubbed the back of his neck, easing back into conversation. “So, err… What are we doing, anyway? I just kind of got on without explanation…”
Noriko glanced over at Kaito, before quickly focusing back on the road. “Chasing the Navy car with the Union Jack… You can help me, we need information.”
Kaito nodded. This could be the opportunity he needed… he wasn’t about to pass up a chance to prove himself. “How’re we going to do it?”
“We follow him, we corner him, we make him talk,” Noriko said simply, eyes still on the road.
“Yeah, sure, alright,” Kaito said, slumping back in his seat.
The ride was silent for a while once more, and this time it was Noriko who chose to break it. “Why were you out?”
Kaito sighed and gritted his teeth before speaking. “My team’s all a bunch of bullshit. We haven’t heard from Michelle or Djimon in months, Lyra’s a goddamn space cadet, and I don’t even know if Prince Johnny’s even fucking alive!” Kaito’s voice caught. “And Tom… Tom abandoned me.”
Noriko thought back to earlier in her investigation, the Fairy Fellers all crowding the bus, chattering and joking. It could be annoying sometimes, but… With Connor currently checking on his family and Ric always checking out of team conversation, she’d already started to feel a hole on the bus. Hearing about Kaito’s situation, with half the team completely missing in action, especially the man who’d been with him in Venice…
“I’m sorry about him,” Noriko said. “You were a real pain to fight in Venice.”
“Yeah… Sorry about that.” Kaito recognized a compliment when he heard it, and grinned up at his former opponent and newfound ally. “Let’s kick this rich guy’s butt. Wait, uh… what’s his name again?”
“Alcove,” Noriko replied. “Tom Alcove.”
Kaito blinked, and his grin widened. This was about to be cathartic.
Up a hill that led to a scenic cliffside view, the bus pulled over into the lane beside him, accelerating slowly, as if trying to catch up with him. Tom narrowed his eyes, letting his foot off the gas to let the bus pass, but much to his horror, it didn’t. There was a rumbling as amber liquid poured from the bus, coalescing beneath it, bubbling and burbling until—
The scent of whiskey filled the air as the fermented liquor exploded, launching the bus a great length and high above, As it soared over his own vehicle, plumes of bubbles streamed out of opened windows, deftly floating ahead and laying out into carpet on the road ahead of him. Indeed, the bus made a miraculously safe landing, skidding out slightly with the popping of bubbles and the hiss of hydraulics.
Tom, meanwhile, slammed on his brakes, wheels screeching at the sudden deceleration. That was more than just horrid driving. That was intentional, the work of an enemy Stand user... Tom narrowed his eyes, trying to make out the driver as he gripped his steering wheel tightly. The bus was long enough to block off every single lane, rendering him unable to get around… to get to Tim.
His anger was hidden behind tired eyes, and he stepped out of his car, the smell of whiskey filling his nostrils. He called loudly to the driver, who would easily be able to hear him. “What on Earth are you thinking?! I have places to be!”
He opened his mouth to say more, but the bus doors swung open, and Noriko and Kaito stepped outside to confront him, the former holding a dossier that she read clearly from. “Thomas Alcove, CFO of Lyte LTD,” she began, eyes flickering between the man and the file. “May I ask you some questions about XPLICIT?”
Tom’s brow furrowed, his fists curling slightly. This was hardly good. “No.” He responded sharply, pulling his pen from his breast pocket and beginning to click it absentmindedly. “You may not. I don’t have the time.”
“Well then.” Kaito interjected, lowering his stance to one of more aggression. “I’m sure we can make time, or, at the very least, make you talk.” Noriko nodded in agreement, and Tom squared his shoulders, prepared for combat as he spun his pen through his fingers. He was off the clock: he had no interest in dealing with work issues.
”Unless you go quietly, it’ll be the last thing you brats will do.”
Location: A beach-side highway somewhere in California.
The road is 10 meters wide with a dropoff to the shore to the south and a hill to the north, similar to the picture. The players and boss start 15 meters away from each other on the right side of the road facing each other. Both sides have their respective vehicles a meter behind them, however they cannot be driven at the time.
The sea is 10 meters south of the road; there is a speed limit sign 7.5 meters between the players and the boss on the north side of the road; and there are two overpass signs, one 15 meters behind both sides. There is a guard rail on the south side like the picture shows, the stakes are wooden and the bar is made of coated metal.
The bus has normal bus driving equipment and maintenance gear: a spare tire, medical kit, fire extinguisher, and other essentials. Additionally, the bus happens to have fiberglass paneling on the sides and most of the back, in areas that buses would normally have it, although with effort it can be torn off. For some reason, the bus also has a coffin on board.
Goal: RETIRE your opponents!
Additional Information: Note for the players, that camping or running away too far will be detrimental given that you are giving the boss a chance to book it.
Boss Information:
Name: Thomas Alcove
Age: 42
Gender: Male
Species: Human
Occupation: CFO of Lyte, Tom Alcove, Former Investor for Section 80.
Personality: Tom, put bluntly, is quite the stick in the mud. The straightlaced square so involved in his work you’re left wondering if he has any hobbies, any joys in life aside from a job well done, and giving subordinates the side eye when his tea’s not done quite right. He comes across as hard-to-impress, but above all, detached, keeping things and people alike at an arm's-length distance, with the sole exception of his son, Timothy.
This detached, slightly bitter, slightly prickish attitude displayed by Tom is the perfect repellent for most of his co-workers, and he couldn’t be happier, generally preferring solitude, or at the very least, not being pestered. Most of these negative traits are a built-up exterior to hide a rather polite, mild, and sensibly kind interior, hidden chiefly due to past experiences, and the desire to not be taken advantage of by more cruel players in the industry.
When alone, or at his home, these crueller qualities are shed entirely. First and foremost, Tom is a father, there to guide, correct, and love. He has a matching sense of humour, often unable to stave off the urge to tell a groan-worthy joke to his son. He has hobbies like early morning jogs, and collecting limited edition coins. He finds great fun in browsing through truly atrocious cookbooks from a bygone era, playing old rock records, and arranging tea paraphernalia.
Physical Description: One look at Tom, and you can tell he’s a busy man, work not a source of income, but a way of life. He’s light skinned, with prominent cheekbones, a rather sharp nose, lips that usually speak of his annoyance, and vibrant blue eyes that are shadowed by dark rings beneath them. His hair is dark brown, and styled upwards in a double helix, ending in points that are reminiscent of devil horns. There’s a thick gray streak that runs through his hair, other strands by his scalp slowly showing the same colour.
He’s very tall, standing at 6’4, but also very lithe, with broad shoulders, and proper posture. There are thin, silvery glasses perched upon his nose, and he wears formal clothing in dark colours- blues, greys and blacks. His outfit usually consists of a dress shirt and a blue ascot beneath a crisply dry-cleaned waistcoat. He wears plain dress slacks, held up by blue suspenders, and matching his waistcoat. His shoes are dressy, without much beyond that. The real eyecatcher to his outfit is his jacket; a dark coloured throw-over with a collar and material resembling a suit jacket, although it is much longer, with coattails that reach his ankles. On the right sleeve is text that reads “SECTION 80”, and on either elbow are patches that resemble subtraction signs. The back of said jacket has quite some flair, a sliver chain on the small of its back, held in place by multiplication signs, The lapel and bottoms of the jacket are made of a polished metal.
Art of Tom and his Stand by our own Judge Dimi!
Equipment:Various keys on a small keyring, a smartphone, a wallet made of fine leather, containing cards, cash, coins, and small photos of him and Tim doing various activities together, his silver wristwatch, and a second blue ascot.
Strength: 2 - Tom possesses average strength for a man of his size and age, nothing much of note here.
Agility: 4 - Having an aversion to most sports, and finding activities such as weightlifting quite dull, whilst still wanting to remain active and healthy, Tom took up running over a decade ago, and it has paid dividends to this day.
Endurance: 2 - Tom also possesses average endurance.
Office Aerobics: 4 - Long limbs often come with visuals of manoeuvring around in a gangly, awkward, manner. Not so for Tom, however, who’s litheness and agility allow him to make his way around the battlefield in unconventional ways with ease. Low gravity, underwater, or up in the air? He’s got it on lock.
Penmanship: 2 - When working closely with a single pen for years and years, one truly comes to know its strengths; writing with a steady hand, where the laser pointer will fall, and how to write up a damn clean signature.
STAND NAME: 「Money Trees」
Stand Type: Bound/Humanoid
Stand Appearance: When in its pen form, 「Money Trees」 appears as a simple silver-black pen with three colors: red, blue, and black.
When in its humanoid form, it looks like a small, black, limbless robot with a round, featureless head, save for some wide, flat bolts screwed into either side of its head, and a glowing white line that goes straight down the middle of its face, flanked by two circle eyes in the same colour, bisected vertically by a line. 「Money Trees」’s head leads into a thin, sleek neck, and a triangular torso. From its shoulders protrude two small brick magnets, and from its shoulder sockets, two horseshoe magnets. It lacks arms, but has hands with disc magnets on the back. There’s also a disc magnet beneath 「Money Trees」’ torso, a horseshoe magnet immediately beneath it, and two brick magnets on either side of the horseshoe magnet. It hovers in midair, a visible magnetic field pulsing from the different magnets on its body. 「Money Trees」 is also seen carrying or otherwise levitating a very large brick magnet with incredible ease.
Stand Ability: Pen Form - The pen acts as a laser pointer; when Tom points it at a metal object, he can envelop it in a spherical, faintly glowing magnetic field, one side is red for N charge, the other blue for S charge. Additionally, he can set metals as ‘null’, unable to be affected by 「Money Trees」’s magnetism.
If he draws a loop with the pointer, upon its completion, a magnetic field will be created within that boundary, the field’s glow indicating its charge. Tom can click the pen to freely change the orientation of any object/fields in range, as well as turning the magnetism “on, off, and null”.
These magnetic fields affect all metals, regardless of their innate ferromagnetism, or in layman's terms, even metals that are not normally able to be magnetised.
Humanoid Form - While free from the pen, 「Money Trees」 can create, reshape, and telekinetically move a peculiar metal—also known as Money, which is very similar to silver—within range that’s larger than a quarter. It can also predefine the magnetic field of Money as it’s being created.
Power: C - The magnetic pull (and thus push for similarly charged objects) is at C POW, as is the Stand’s physical force. The size of a magnetic field/affected object has no effect on the power of the magnetic pull; a large and a small loop will both create a single force vector of C POW. Additionally, while ordinary metal affected by the magnetic force cannot harm Stands, Money can, as can anything of 「Money Trees」’s creation.
Speed: A - Although larger quantities of Money are harder to move due to their weight, 「Money Trees」 can move incredibly and ‘metalbend’ quickly. Similarly, application and adjustments of its magnetism abilities occur at incredible speeds, much faster than Tom’s clicking may imply.
Durability: E - 「Money Trees」 in both forms is incredibly fragile. However, while the pen does not transfer damage, it takes 5 seconds to regenerate if destroyed and all magnetic fields created will be dispelled. Similarly, although Money can affect Stands, it is also incredibly fragile. However, the more of it is accumulated, the harder it becomes to break.
Range: C - While 「Money Trees」 is bound to E Range of Tom, its ability range is 20 meters. If Tom leaves the range of a magnetized object or a field, he can no longer change its magnetism, but the effect remains.
Precision: A - Not only is Tom incredibly adept at using the Pen form, 「Money Trees」 is incredibly precise with its movement, senses, and ability usage, having the ability to freely remold Money into any shape. Moreover, Tom can choose whether or not to be affected by 「Money Trees」’s ability.
Stand Oddities: 「Money Trees」’s pen form functions as a perfectly good pen, with unlimited amounts of red, blue, black ink.
Team Combatant JoJolity
Civil Disobedients Yuigahama Kaito “What you owe me… can never be payed back with money!” Baroness, Tom, and now another goddamn Tom. You've had the hell beaten out of you so far, and you’re the only one who seems to think you’re worth anything. Now it's time to prove everyone else wrong. Prove your worth, and be inventive and showy as possible with your and Noriko's Stand while you beat this enemy into the ground!
Fairy Fellers Noriko Yabuuchi “Think about it. There’s gasoline in bikes.” But you don’t care about bikes when you have your bus right there. You may not be able to get away with driving it against this opponent, but you can still make use of it! Use the bus and anything in it in interesting and creative ways in the match!
Lyte Ltd. Tom Alcove “You can find iron anywhere in this world. Of course, it's in sand, as well as spring water and plants. Large amounts of iron can be found in vegetables like spinach and meats like liver...” While you’re certainly able to make your own [Money], you’re just as capable of punishing these punks by creative use of what’s already there. Use the metal in the surroundings in your strategy, and make it count in taking down these upstarts!
Link to the Official Player Spreadsheet
Link to R3 Match Schedule
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submitted by Logic_Sandwich to StardustCrusaders [link] [comments]

[Let's Build] businesses and trades in a frontier outpost or settlement

NOTE: We are out of room. Post continues here:
Some people are attracted to the frontier of civilization for the adventure. Others might be drawn there for a host of reasons; looking to make coin in a new market, keeping ahead of the law, spreading their faith, bringing order and strengthening the borders of their homeland, or perhaps a noble house has too many scions and hopes that one late-born member might make good with his share of the family coffers.
Let’s build a list of NPCs with businesses and trades in a frontier outpost or settlement.
I’m about to introduce simplified kingdom building mechanics to my Pathfinder Campaign. Basically, it allows your adventurers to govern and grow the settlement they are based in. So I’m looking to make a list of businesses and trades that might be compelled to put stakes down in a frontier outpost with colorful NPCs that might provide plothooks and role-play opportunities.
In my campaign the adventurers are getting a charter from the local military to rebuild a settlement in an abandoned town they have just cleared out of undead and bandits (nominally). It will begin as a outpost to the guard, but can be reoccupied by the former residents, serve as homes for new wonderers, refugees and eager enterprisers. It’s a location that can attract low-fantasy motifs of traditional trades but also allows for interlopers from the feywilds and other planes. So businesses could range from the mundane, such as tanneries or grain mills to the exotic and arcane like a drug den but where the intoxicants are dreamscapes from the feywilds.
Interested in storyhooks and interesting npcs. If you are familiar with any kingdom building mechanics feel free to drop in any additional info that might help GMs—building stats, building costs, settlement effects. Just descs are fine too.
Edit: Feel free to suggest similar businesses already on the list if you have a different spin on it. A little competition is healthy.
d100 Name Desciption
1 Bottlejaw’s Barbershop (and Dentistry) The spinning helix of the barber pole atop the shingle of criss-crossing razors and shears placemarks Bottlejaws Barbershop. Edmund Bottlejaw, an always-smiling halfling whose pleasant demeanor might be a professional front has a ramshackle building with very expensive touches. Perhaps the centerpiece is a shiny leather-upholstered hydraulic chair that adjusts not just for the variety of heights of his customers, but also comes with restraints when his work involves the occasional tooth extraction. Busts of humanoids showcase different styling and services, including a dwarf sporting beard-wigs intricately plaited and an orc with a hairpiece dramatically adorned and dyed. He is assisted by a silent and brooding young aasimar, Rajar, who mainly sweeps and appears to be able to provide the muscle.
2 Erastil’s Blessings: Seed bank and lending Library An elderly human and a baby-nursing half-elf woman came into town on an elk-drawn tarp-covered carriage. Most of their belongings were stacks and stacks of practical books, almanacs, manuals, plants guides and many copies of Parables of Erastil, the holy text of the elder god for a traditional way of life. Molthuse and Nirmal are a fount of practical knowledge. They set up quiet places to read and reference their library in a simple wooden structure, allowing visitors to copy information on paper available for purchase. Nirmal is also in charge of a thriving garden, often pressing cuttings and seedling to visitors. Near the entrance of the library, stands pots of seedballs for sale, seeds of useful plantlife and nutrient packed in mud.
3 The Central Prospect A small shed with a stable door, operated by Able, an elderly dwarven fellow with a bald head and long grey scraggley beard. The "store" provides basic tools for prospecting, crow bars, shovels, pick axes, gold pans, etc. Able also has well documented maps of the area showing points of interest.
4 Riverbottom Candleshop Wendy Riverbottom was one of the first inhabitants of area, in fact only the oldest explorers can even remember her moving in. One question always comes up when they see her shop, “Why a Chandler in the middle of nowhere?” to which she gleefully replies that everyone enjoys the light aroma of a candle or a well-crafted bar of soap. She’s open to share her history about the world but strictly adamant against anyone going downstairs to the workshop and seeing the crafting process.
5 The Loose Stool A tavern run by a dwarf named Kirgan. The interior looks nearly as rundown as the exterior of the building. Creaky floors, tables with uneven legs, and to top it off, the bar top is only 3 feet high to cater to Kirgan's shortness. He is old, even for a dwarf, sporting long gray unkempt hair. He is rather grumpy, always having something to complain about. Don't you dare ask him about the scar on the side of his face or you'll regret it. All that aside he sells great ale by the barrel to travelers interested in taking the party to go
6 Aegert’s Breads The small cart parked in the center of the settlement has become a familiar sight to the residents. The cart serves as the shop for Joarr Aegert, the resident half-orc baker, to sell his breads. While his rolls and loaves are nothing fancy, they are tasty and filling. Joarr is saving up to buy a small home so that his wife and children can come join him. He misses them dearly, and they him.
7 Illia's Rug Shack The hunch-backed, plump-faced woman who runs this decrepit store out of what was once a large tool shed doesn't have a set price on a single one out of the dozens of crude rugs she sells out of the dusty shack, but despite her condescending demeanor she is usually willing to let potential customers haggle for them. Illia is almost never seen outside of her store and nobody is quite sure how she gets her rugs. Secretly, Illia is a hag who uses the store as a front for her child peddling business. If you go to the back door at night and knock in a specific pattern, then mention her secret passcode: "worm food," she will sell you any of the children she keeps locked in the back bound and gagged, for the right price. Illia has an orc bodyguard who can usually be seen standing outside the front of the store smoking a pipe.
8 Pete’s Pelts Pete mostly mumbles, but he is an excellent hunter. Pete sells pelts and dried animal meat. He also sells assorted hunting supplies. He has a small shack he lives in. His furs and other wears are hanging in a barn just outside guarded by his old dog, Grungy . Pete is also a master fletcher and will build specialty arrows for you for the right price.
9 Mat’s Maps A man named Mathew who sells maps next to his twin brother.
10 Map’s Mats A man named Mapthew who sells mats and rugs next to his twin brother.
11 Coinz4Shineez A small stall operated by a group of Goblins. They exchange gems, gold, anything of value for coins. They offer a favourable rate, but will not haggle. Loot is placed on a set of scales, and the appropriate coins appear in a small chest. The loot then goes in the chest and disappears. They are underwritten by a noble wizard in the capital.
12 B'Rody's General Store This recently widowed Dragonborn has packed up her wagon caravan in the South and set up shop in the North where her remaining family can be found. She's made her fortune dealing in exotic goods and just wants a bit of peace and quiet. Caution: She is known to breath fire at shoplifters. (pro. Bah' Rudy)
13 M'uhctek's Market Ash M'uhctek, a half-elf moon druid and initiate wizard that leans heavily towards the teachings of Solonor Thelandira, owns the largest produce stall in town. Carries a bit of everything in his wagon and loves to trade. He struck a deal with the local council for a farm and the large swath of forest behind it to remain untouched. In return he uses Plant Growth to bolster harvests in the province. Oddly enough he does this in every town he visits and has set up quite a few franchises and private wildlife preserves.
14 Black Books: Bernard Black is the owner of this small, dusty and very disorganized book shop. He is a disheveled misanthrope, cynical alcoholic, and a proud chain smoker. He has a strong disdain for people and avoids interaction with his few customers as much as possible. On occasions where he is forced into interaction with customers his response is snarky and mocking. The shop has an incredible collection of books, but almost all of them are in terrible condition — Bernard has read them all.
15 Laif and Kheem's Frontier Furnishing Laif is a viking as he is pictured in books and on the embossments of viking shields. His majestic beard is always waxed and his posture is proud and loyal to the gods of order and justice. Kheem is a mounted archer as is portrayed by legends and frightened battle reports of the tribes of the tundra. His beard is like that of a mighty dragon and his shoulders are guarded by the heads of beasts whom he hath' slain.The two are united only by honor and their great adventure, of which they are the only survivors. Having done their share, they traded in the one or other limb for experience and settled to construct the settlements of your oncoming NPCs. (They are actually still pretty badass, but Laif can't speak common!)
16 Ar-Og's very good tools Ar-Og is a troll or possibly orc, or a half-breed of some sort. We don't know. His temper is as slow as dripping tar, and nothing seems to get him into anything related to the bloodrush of those whom he possibly is related to. Except if you question the quality of his tools. Which, as he proclaims, are very good.If you need a hammer, or perhaps a bizarre axe to chop trees which grow in nooks of some stone canyon, just barely out of reach from a regular axe, he is your man! Or possibly troll.
17 Questionable Ehrnard's Questionable Products! Look, there's nobody for miles - the last shepherd you saw was literally just an unsupervised dog. Really, that there's any store at all is a small miracle. Thinking anything about the economics of running this store would have clued you in on the questionable nature of its owner and products. But what you see is what you get and some of the products don't seem terrible. Plus, it's not like you can be picky, just watch your pack while you're inside.
18 Infernal Delights Diner This seemingly quaint diner has a charming and flirty red teifling cook by the name of Pot and a demure and empathetic server ‎aasimar‎ by the name of Cake. These two are always playfully arguing with one another and always seem to know just a bit more than they should about their customers. They are in fact an angel and a devil who have abandoned their posts and now reward or punish customers in mysteriously karmic ways. Locals don't know exactly what goes on in the dinner but they know its a good way to test whether visitors are trouble makers or future friends so often will send any new visitors to the dinner.
19 Gregarious Gnome Gebby's Quality Used Golems! Gebby is a fast talking, slick haired, and sharply dressed salesman with a bevy of used golems of all types. He provides them to rent or own but if you to fail return the golem in time he will charge a generous interest rate and if it comes back too damaged? Well you break it you buy it! The golems are useful for protecting the town and building houses and Gebby makes a good deal of coin providing their services but he might be willing to give a discount if you can help repair some of his damaged golems or help retrieve a late payment or two.
20 Keara's Bar & Barbershop Keara Blackblade is a retired dwarf soldier who has opened up her dream business. She serves fine drink and will trim your hair and beard into fine styles. She loves her job and she assures you she cuts hair best when drunk. Her husband Nug Blackblade a cigar chomping grump runs the bar while she cuts hair and is less pleased about the work than his wife if only because his supply of drink is constantly running low.
21 The Spit A tavern housed in a small two storey building. The tables are placed around the walls, and a staircase rises to the next floor at the back of the room. In the centre of the room is a fire pit, with meat of unknown varieties cooking on spits over the flames. The proprieter is a friendly Orc-ish fellow (he's part Orc, so he's Orc-ish) by the name of Grub. The upper floor is a mezzanine that circles the inside of the building. There is a hole in the centre of the roof that the smoke billows from. In bad weather, Grub will hoist a canvas sheet over the outside of the hole, filling the building with smoke.
22 Watery Fowls A tavern on the main trade road with a short-tempered and incompetent Elven owner Basil, his wife Sybil, a Dwarven chef called Munnuel, and an Aasimar receptionist called Polly. Basil is spectacularly racist, and tries to micromanage everything, to hilarious consequence.
23 Poe and Shaun's Potion Shop There they were, two Halflings with a dream. They wanted a store where they could test their experimental potions and make a little money on the side. Their potion shop is covered in bottles, hanging down so people must brush them aside to even make their way to the counter. A constant bubbling and hissing from mixtures can be heard throughout. Poe handles the social interactions while Shaun can be found in the back, wearing thick goggles and testing out their experiments. Sure they have some of the boring regular potions one might find at any store, but where's the fun in that when you could have a gander at Potion Experiment #626?
24 Prickly's Fortunes Within a large cactus resides an equally prickly dryad. This sarcastic and snarky dryad is willing to trade fortunes and, for major deeds, resurrections in exchange for environmental activities. She is tuned to the frontier and can sense any potential threat to the wilderness of these lands and request a task capable of her visitors, so a farmer will get their fortunes told by planting some bushes but an adventurer? Well, she will likely expect more.
25 Hunters and Slayers Triplet Catfolk Rangers running a beast and monster slaying company. Prrrr favors monstrosities, Grrrr favors beasts, and Hsss favors staying at the office selling the hides, meat, teeth, and other goods his siblings harvest from their hunts. They are always willing to share the profits for an especially dangerous hunt.
26 Grilled Bears A wilderness survival store with a focus on the essentials like rope, knives, tinderboxes, etc. They sell a proprietary magical canteen that refills to full whenever it is emptied. Sadly, the contents only refills with water, and it always tastes like urine. The owner, known as BG, has a habit of overstating his knowledge and lies constantly about his past in the elite guard.
27 Meer Ray A kind Tabaxi fellow offering lessons in surviving the wilderness. Starting with the basics of building a fire and making camp, patrons can progress to more advanced skills like tracking, hunting and herbalism. Ray also has a selection of survival tools available, but they tend to be more advanced than his competitor GB's wares.
28 Rocky Rambler's Rolling Canyons! "Hi, I'm Rocky Rambler! Have you recently moved onto a new property in a sparse frontier and need to remodel your landscape? Then boy, do I have the product for you! Get new Landscape Rolls TM! Ever bought rolls of sod? The cheap dead grass rolled up in bundles? Well now you can buy rolls of just about anything! Want a green meadow filled with blooming wildflowers? Slap it down, roll it out! Want bumpy landscape with rocks and cactus? Unroll it like a rug! Or even a babbling brook for relaxing white noise? They may leak, but they're loaded with fish! You want a heavenly cloudscape? Well, it'll likely float off once you lay it down, but we've got 7 left over from a refunded order! For the next week and a half, buy any two landscapes and get a roll of Clouds absolutely FREE (with purchase of any two outdoor landscapes, offer invalid with wooden floor rolls and interiors, limit one cloud roll per person per day, offer not valid on Thursdays, taxes and fees may apply, offer not valid to Cloud Giants, Cloud Dragons, or Air Elementals. No Refunds, all sales are final). So Come on down to Rocky Rambler's Rolling Canyons! Located adjacent to Rocky Rambler's Animal in a Bottle Warehouse and Enchanted Boot Emporium!"
29 Cold River Shipping Company Running up in the northern frontier near the Frozen Pines, the Company consists of a fleet of canoes, rafts, and barges along the rivers. Mainly shipping smaller goods or individuals across the rivers and streams, it is a loose outfit put together by four half-orc brothers with native help. They plan to gather enough funds to buy a ship good for breaking ice flows and make their business legitimate.
30 The Silver Sledge This mining corporation was formed earlier on during the beginning of the frontier by a prominent dwarf miner, Fuaser Robishau. Earning his fortune early on through a large silver payload, which he and his family defended savagely, he has now sponsored several other mines under his new corporation. He mainly favors fellow dwarves who come to work for him, setting them up as work crew bosses and foremen. He does not mind the cheating of common workers, but any who undercut him, even fellow dwarves, are often found outside of town with a pickaxe lodged in their skull.
31 Hedge Mage Headquarters The frontier proved a great opportunity for up and coming wizards wishing to establish a name for themselves after completing their apprenticeships. Founded by the gnome Fullbery "School Marm" Washup, the headquarters functions as a secondary academy, lodging, and work area, but also as contact for services requiring magic. While the work is not nearly as precise or as epic as from master wizards, it provides affordable and regular services.
32 The Stoor "Come on up, don't be shy. Sure it's not much but—oh pardon me, let me pull that carpet back down o'er the box, er, shop here. But we got just what you need this far out. What things? Oh you know, lots of things. Many things. I keep them tucked behind this box for safety is all. It's one of them bags o' holdin'... but a box. Oh these? These rocks? Oh these are, uh, rocks... the finest rocks in the land. No better rocks out there, I got 'em all righ' here. And I spent a fair bit o' time searching for them, no need to thank me. Now are you buyin' a rock or not?"
33 Graves Lost & Found An unusual partnership with an greedy female Ratfolk Ranger named Rugel and a noble female Centaur Cleric name Clover. The two seek out the frontier for unmarked graves of fallen travelers. Clover performs rights upon the corpse, speak with dead to find out who they are, burns the body, and recovers the ashes. Rugel tracks the bodies down, steals anything of value off the body, investigates for any clues regarding the identity of the person, and gets info when Clover speaks with dead about any other treasures the dead may know of. They are hired to find the graves of lost travelers and return the ashes or they will try to return the ashes if they get the name of the family of the perished traveler. They also have a shed of unidentified ashes they hold on to. The information they get from the dead can also be purchased from this odd pair.
34 Belix's Obelisks and Menhir Workshop and Delivery Belix appears to be human in most respects, if one of prodigious dimensions. What might give an observer pause is his incredible strength, evident as he works his trade, literally carving out a natural wall-face to produce oblong menhirs that tower over most people and easily hefting the pure rock sculptures as if it were no heavier than a sack of feathers. It is rumored that the menhirs might be the source of his strength, but none of his customers appear any more vital. However no one can deny the charm of his simple but impressive handiwork, the Founders Stone a simple giant obelisk that towers in the town square, being an excellent example. He is always working on a few extra obelisks and menhirs just in case despite the limited market, but in his many hours of downtime he hunts boars, with one or two always on a spit roast at his quarry. He’ll accept coin, but some have discovered he will barter nearly any task or item for a potion, any potion. He appears to be looking a particular potion, but he’s willing to try any in his maniacal quest.
35 The Outlook A small tavern with a few spare rooms for any travelers making their way through. It's a nice place to stop at if you need to rest up and take stock before heading out. The main draw though are the scouts that like to hang around and guide any newcomers. There's a bit of competition among the scouts as business isn't exactly thriving this far out. The unspoken agreement among them is they each have a specialized area of what they know and they stick with it. Know ahead of time where you're going if you want a guide from here or else there's sure to be a bar fight among the guides. As troublesome as it sounds, these guides are certainly experts of their area.
36 Eastwood's Stables This gruff cowboy is a literal cow-boy. A Minotaur that gave up the life of a bounty hunter to raise and sell horses to those in need. A loner who prefers the company of horses he known to be fair if rude. One would be wise not to cross Eastwood, he is as dangerous as he looks.
37 Ranch and Menagerie Grove This Druid Grove is home to a Druid Collective that both protects and sells the creatures kept within the grove. They provide some of the animals within the grove for hunting or labor, for a price, as long as excessive damage is not done to the frontier. They have also been know to go out to hunt down poachers that threaten the wildlife of the frontier. They are willing to provide services if one brings them rare beasts of the frontier to be protected within the grove.
38 Big Dog's Casino Run by Big Dog, an awakened bulldog, this high-end casino is where those who have earned their riches in the frontier can socialize and gamble in safety and fun. Big Dog is a mysterious dog seeming to have lived through several major events in history and is far more clever than he appears at first glance. He has somehow convinced a cyclops, Snake Eye, to man the door and a pair of bugbear brothers, Blackjack and Roulette, acting as muscle within the casino itself. His employees are remarkably loyal and protective of Big Dog, which is good because he has far more enemies than any dog should.
39 The Holy Church An aged Cleric Elf runs a church of the town known only as Father and rumored to have come from the Fey realm. A child that was possessed by a demon was visited by the Father and it is said that when he walked into the room the Demon-possessed child went silent, then screamed, and the demon banished itself. The grounds of the church is truly hollowed ground as one can feel the divine energy radiating from it to the point that it glows ever so slightly at night.
40 The Public Library Run by a Kitsune Bard Loremaster, named Shu, and her adopted daughter, a Changeling, named Frell. These two shapshifters gather knowledge from the frontier and record them into the books of the library, making magical copies to send to other libraries around the world. They are willing to pay for any unique knowledge you may offer and the library is free to use for anybody though there is a donation box. Usually only one will be in the library as the other would be searching the frontier for unique plants, creatures, or lore to add to their books.
41 Normal Carpentry This place is completely normal. It does carpentry. There is no sinister basement. There is no evil cult. Its just a normal carpentry shop. We are not aberrations.
42 Under Well Shop A well has appeared though its waters seem toxic and its seems a shop is attached to it underground. It's keeper, a cloaked in Drow, possess goods only found within the underdark. The shop owner will tell you a creature is within the waters of the well polluting it and it needs to be slain to purify the water.
43 Lake Town A nearby lake has had a settlement of aquatic races move in. A gillman named Ted runs the trading post between the town and the lake. He holds a bevy of goods created and harvested by the citizens of the lake.
44 Tim Tim Tom's Cobbler Store Tim Tim Tom is a true master cobbler. A halfling who makes the highest quality shoes in the frontier, perhaps the world. His shoes are incredibly comfortable and near indestructible as his skill is so polished it seems divinely touched. Nearly everybody in town has a custom pair make for them despite the incredible prices he charges as he is willing to take payments over the course of years for permanent residents. But if adventures want a pair of his shoes you will need to gather some of his rare material.
45 Jackdaw's Discount Weapons Jackdaw is a weaponsmith who gets about half of his stock from adventurers passing through with weapons they looted off of fallen foes. As a result, much of his loot is eclectic and unique in its style and material.
46 Fangjaw's Proteccy Clothez A lizardfolk armorer who doesn't speak great common, but makes damn good armor, whether it be metal or hide. He moved out here because in the bigger cities, his accent proved more of a deterrent than out here.
47 Athena's Aegis A female former gladiator who specializes in making magical protective shields. Especially those that can be thrown into the enemies' faces. (Captain America style)
48 Lone Star Courier A courier service that gives zero regard for the safety of their deliverymen and as a result, will rarely refuse a contract. However, they are also always looking for new couriers.
49 Goldie's Bank and Storage Services: This bank (one of many) is run by gold tinted Kobolds serving a particularly organized and neurotic Gold Dragon, Goldie, who uses the holdings as their hoard. The bank holds onto goods and money allowing it to accrue interest as long as the holder checks in once a year. If the holder does not show during a year the treasure is held but no interest is gained. Treasure can be retrieved if proof of ownership or holder returns and a holding fee is paid. If the holder is found dead and the initial insurance is not paid the treasure becomes the property of the bank. The bank will often set up bounties to determine if the holders are alive or dead and request proof of either. Killing a holder during a bounty mission has serious consequences and those who kill holders or those who have not paid off their loans have especially high bounties put up by the bank.
50 Gible Gom's Circus A strange circus that seems to pop in and out of existence within the town. Run primarily by Goblins and Hobgoblins they put on exciting acrobatic and athletic feats, enchanting performances, and spectacular magical tricks. The people are a bit wary but those who go seem to truly enjoy the show and miraculously the only money lost is that willingly spent. Some very angry looking elves from the Fey have been seen staring at the circus but they vanish before anybody gets close. Gible, the circus master Hobgoblin, seems nervous and is seeking help regarding the elves.
51 Helding’s Hardware Helding's Hardware is a small tool shop run by the owner and sole employee Javis Helding. The store is a small but well-kept building situated between two larger buildings on either side, making the clay brick shop appear even smaller. Multiple racks line the walls and form aisles in an orderly fashion, each one holding his collection of a certain tool. Hammers, shovels, saws. Javis almost always has something that fits the bill, and if he doesn’t, he’ll make sure the blacksmith starts working on something that does. Javis himself is a burly halfling, an uncommon combination of words that nonetheless describes the 4-foot high bundle of good humor and masculinity. Nothing matters more to him than his tiny shop and the people he meets there. Those that know him know that when they walk through his door, they will get the best help he can provide.
52 Fettlepox's Studio Mauxi Fettlepox is a lanky figure who while known to be temperamental exercises the best manners. His business is not so much a storefront as a narrow alcove where he stacks the canvases he paints. On the sidewalk he places a few easels displaying of his most recent work—typically a maelstrom of frenzied brushstrokes that coalesce to an enthralling simulacrum of his subject. When the easels change, it is a minor event, with even critics pausing to update their opinions. It has become a habit to drop a coin in a tin bowl beneath the work, the clinking announcing each viewer. There’s often an unsettling quality to the work even as they are undeniably captivating, much like the man himself. His ethnicity, heck, even his race, is difficult to place—human might be the best guess going by his ears and dun pigmentation. But there’s something other about him. There’s some talk that he might seal a part of his subject’s soul in his paintings—that’s surely hogwash… But why can’t he never be found in his room at the tavern he rents out? And how does outdrink the stoutest dwarf with none the worse for wear?
53 Cold Justice Law House Judge Jaws, a lizardfolk Inquisitor, judges the criminal of the frontier with his lawmen. Deputy Chill a Water Suli and Sheriff Scorch a Fire Suli. Chill is a Ranger and Scorch is a Monk. Chill finds and Scorch runs down and beats them senseless. Recently they found a bandit camp and need some help taking them down.
54 Frenti Chartered Architect & Assoc. In a display of her skills, the entrance to Aleski Frenti’s offices are accessible via a mechanical contraption she calls “the elevator.” A balcony encircles her office allowing visitors to circumambulate and observe the vista of the growing outpost. The office itself is busy with workspaces covered with blueprints and designs. Tableaus with maps and plans can be wheeled around the space; a number of draftstables have active building designs underway; and a giant table allows for papers to be spread widely with many half-drunk cups of a some brown syrupy liquid scatter upon it, sometimes apparently serving as paperweights. A narrow winding staircase apparently leads to Aleski’s quarters. She is often found bent over a blueprint, scribbling notes with her sleeves folded to her elbows. Her assistant, a young gnome, Jerfery often follows behind her collecting the scraps of paper in her wake. While she is retained by the Council, she can be hired by private individuals either to design or consult.
55 Cool Winds' ButcheAnita's Fight Club An androgynous undine named Jacky (isn’t too hung up on pronouns) and a half-orc who goes by Anita run the cold store and butchery. Jacky is undoubtedly the face of the establishment, and apparently responsible for the cool temperature generally and the arctic chill in the meat room. Jacky does the more traditional butchery, trapping game, quartering and dressing carcasses, and preparing and preserving meats. They have become a regular supplier to a few homes and businesses but they will handle meats on request. Anita is reticent and gruff. However, she hosts a “secret” fight club after hours once a week in the meat room with Jacky’s reluctant consent. Victors, and scrappy losers, even, can expect eye contact, discounts and even a smile from Anita. The fraternity of brawlers is becoming a real thing in the outpost.
56 Sir Calleb Dallas's Home for Orphans and Wayward Children Sir Calleb Dallas, a human, was from a high ranking noble family who tried to become more selfless and charitable by opening an Orphanage in the frontier. Unfortunately his noble upbringing has left him ill-suited to frontier life and dealing with rambunctious children. To make matters worse his family has cut off funding to his orphanage! This desperate situation has caused the eldest and most dedicated orphan, Red an 60 year old Elf (technically still a child), to run off into the frontier for some treasure to save the orphanage. If you can go find and rescue Red, Calleb is willing to give up a treasured family heirloom as a reward.
57 Expose Inc. Expose Inc. is a trio of mystery-solving reporters. The blond male trap master Aasimar named Ascot is the leader of the group. The clumsy attractive redhead half-elf sorceress in purple robes is named Dnger Pronee is the interviewer, and the female bespectacled gnome loremaster, Jinkies, is the head researcher and writer. A monster is scaring off the new owners of the Belfast Manor, will you help them capture the creature and get the story?
58 Fey Pharmaceutical Delights A skinny cowardly Drow Fey Druid in a green shirt wearing a brown mushroom hat, named Norville, runs a shop with drugs of various effects from both the Fey realm and the Underdark. His best friend is an awoken equally cowardly talking dog, named Dooby. Both act as if effected by their product but they are in truth just silly and simple. Will trade product for delicious food. They will give the very best of their product if you get the legendary God Dog Biscuits for them to snack on.
59 Markus the Canoe-Maker Markus… he doesn’t make canoes. It’s a just a moniker that stuck for the meticulous way he hollows out the corpses of the departed that no one claims, making careful anatomist sketches and inks. Otherwise, he provides sombre, brief, professional funeral services, minus the homilies, demonstrating a savant-level knowledge of faiths and cultures. Those services go a long way to balance out the gaunt, sallow wizard’s macabre pursuits—that and his restraint in raising the dead. In fact, he’s probably the best person around for an exorcism or discreet consultation about the ol’ family ghost. Perhaps unsurprisingly he’s quite the expert in pathology, either coming to unerring conclusions or withholding his judgment. When in doubt, he will simply cast speak to the dead, a task that the local law have been known to require.
60 Quality Custom Magic Jewelry This ant colony is a hive mind that burst out of the ground and created a house sized ant hill. No one is sure how they came to be or where they come from but they seem friendly enough. To create the jewelry a person must sacrifice an item of great sentimental importance to the customer, high quality gems, precious metals or rare bones, a cup of the customer's tears, a pint of customer's blood, and 25 pounds of sugar and/or sweets. The ants will take the items and work for 2 weeks to create unique magical jewelry usable only by the customer or their heirs with abilities that match the customer's personality. They can only make one such item for each person though they can still make high quality normal jewelry if the raw material and 10 pounds of sugar and/or sweets is provided. If the ants see you as receptive they may ask for help in stopping their former master from finding and enslaving it. Their former master is a wizard that has changed himself permanently into an ant monster that can control ants psychically.
61 Lydia’s Arbor The dryad Lydia welcomes all visitors to her small arbor, maintaining a staff of workers to harvest the fruit trees she nurtures. Parents have learned that they can safely keep their children in her care. Adventurers short on coin might spend a night under the canopy of her orchards. In exchange of a favor, she might even woodshape an enchanted object. She is well-versed in the medicinal properties of her plants. That a dryad would choose to make a home in a frontier town would rightly surprise a visitor. Much like others of her kind, Lydia began her life with an aversion to civilization. It was only when her grove was met with destruction, not by the woodmen that were pushing back the forest, but by an enormous wildfire that her destiny was altered. Lydia melded herself to her oak tree, resigned to her fate when a druid compelled her to withdraw. The human druid took her back to a hamlet and kept her alive. Though weak, she wandered the hamlet drawn to its oldest tree, amazed at the care the inhabitants took to that tree in particular. She swallowed her bitterness at how this tree could survive amidst humanity who destroyed so much of nature and communed with the elder tree. That experience changed her. The druid led her back to the tree that she had bonded with. There a sapling had sprung where the giant oak once stood. She carefully uprooted the sapling and set out to find another frontier town where she could set her roots, and possibly proselytize a green way forward.
62 Fritz's Magic School Wagon This small yellow wagon is larger on the inside and can house an entire class of students. It can also transform, shrink, grow, and travel between the planes. The teacher is a powerful human fey sorceress. With her iguana familiar and class in tow they take the wagon on magical educational trips. She is looking for some chaperones to help her on her next grand trip to hell!
63 The Doll Maker This quaint little shop is surprisingly dark. Inside are countless dolls and stuffed animals of very high quality though some look off-putting and creepy. The shop owner is a vampire named Dex who who drinks from a heart of never ending blood. He really loves his dolls. Dex has a private collection of old, possibly haunted, dolls. If you promise to care for them, Dex will give you one of his special custom-made dolls or stuffed animals. They are very special dolls.
From the beautiful minds of u/no4u, u/generic_brand_cola, u/IAMA_llAMA_AMA, u/ASzinhaz, u/Kardinalin, u/Table_Bang, u/Papenhausen, u/generic_brand_cola, u/Hwga_lurker_tw, u/Woopdeedo, u/Ytumith, u/ceilius, u/FadoraNinja, u/WitchDearbhail, u/Patchwork18, u/SquiddneyD, u/GhastlyKing, u/ThePragmaticPimp
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