Monday, February 13, 2012

Grist Town: Your gate. Your town. Your tawdry details.

By TalkLoud, FNF staff gossip columnist

Journalists on Patrol - Day in the Life of Avalon Ranger Pulpiteer
There are very few instances of pure, innocent joy in the life of a journalist. Of those precious few moments, having the opportunity to become an embedded reporter is only exceeded by hearing the phrase, “You no longer have to cover the Erlik’s Cutest Jungle Monster contest.” Yet that’s exactly what happened when I received notice that I was going to participate in an Avalon “walk along” with a true Avalon Ranger. The news was enough to penetrate even the deep haze of meds and stims required to keep the hallucinations caused by the venom of the Spined Horned Cat, second runner-up, at bay. How our Editor-in-Chief arranged this, we have no idea, but we speculate that it involved alcohol. To our delight and surprise, we were assigned to none other than Pulpiteer, the famed lawman of Middian. We arrived at Avalon headquarters bright and early on the day in question, long before the sun had even risen.

0600 - Arrive at Avalon’s Middian Headquarters, fresh coffee greets us. Best. Assignment. Ever.
0630 - No sign of Pulpiteer, J-Co attempts radio rousal to no satisfaction.
0704 - J-Co allows us to go with him to the barracks to check on Pulpiteer.
0712 - Maybe I shouldn’t have had that third cup of coffee.
0727 - J-Co informs us that Pulpiteer’s position as a holy man ensures him a private suite in the barracks. The cute lady Ranger giggles and tells us it’s called “Confession.”
0728 - Five different socks are hanging from the door handle; J-Co seems confused.
0729 - J-Co pops the door handle, revealing what can only be described as an abundance of exposed flesh and Grog.
0730 - Pulpiteer helps himself to a cigar while giving the Nogg’s Grog girls a sermon on Tane. Giggles seems starry eyed...I’m considered converting.
0800 - After waiting for Pulpiteer to shower and get ready, J-Co gives us the lowdown. A saboteur has infiltrated Nog’s Grog. The perpetrator is an expert at corporate espionage, codename: Candy Striper.
0958 - Pulpiteer has reviewed the case and informed FNF that Candy Striper is code for a “Booze Babe.”
1000 - Pulpiteer begins drawing pictures of what she might look like so “he’ll know who he’s up against.”
1030 - Drawing of her surfing through the web ways completed; there is something that might be a shark chasing her.
1044 - Drawing of the Candy Striper collecting church donations while wearing a bikini completed; sacks with credit symbols spotted in the drawing.
1104 - Drawing of the Candy Striper wrestling Pulpiteer in a vat of Nog’s Grog presented as a possible tactical plan to J-Co.
1105 - Pulpiteer handed ice by Giggles after being slapped.
1123 - We head to a club near the Nog’s Grog facility to see what shakes loose.
1131 - Several one credit bills shake loose; other things just shake.
1139 - Pulpiteer spends some time flashing some photos and seems to find someone willing to talk.
1144 - A Yazatas woman joins Pulpiteer at the table. and the man he first talked to leaves.
1147 - A large group of Aeshma come over to inquire as to why Pulpiteer is talking to the boss’s lady. The look on her face is one of fear. Pulpiteer takes offense.
1150 - The alley of the club might smell better than the inside, but that might be a result of the broken nose.
1151 - The woman rushes over to Pulpiteer and helps him to his feet, whispering fervently and sliding something into his pocket.
1200 - We have a nice lunch of nachos and a single pint of Grog.
1300 - We return to the case, looking up an elderly man named Tom Peterly.
1337 - Pulpiteer handles a group of dragon wolves with his side arm, shouting out a prayer we can’t quite print... He shows me a collar from one of the dragon wolves, claiming that he’s ruffled some feathers. The collar shows a gilded CH on it.
1422 - We arrive in a hovel just on the wrong side of Gate Town, where an old man smokes hand-rolled stinking cigarettes. He doesn’t look inclined to help us.
1427 - Tom and Pulpiteer glare at each other in silence, playing a game of Vajran Dominoes. Neither says a word.
1448 - The game ends, and I am not quite sure who the winner was. Pulpiteer shows the old man a crumpled picture he pulls out of his pocket. The old man’s lip trembles for a moment and begins to speak softly.
1515 - Pulpiteer makes us stop at the refugee camp nearby. The next three-quarters of an hour are filled with wisdom, booze, and discreetly taking care of minor injuries and diseases. I get this feeling this is a safety precaution on his part, but it’s speculation.
1600 - We head to a flop house on the edge of town, and find strange plants covering part of the wall. Everyone in the place seems as if they are on some high-grade Gymir Snow. We are directed to the owner, Paulie “Swank Creds” Stamos. Paulie is a Kshathran that used to be big in the sling race circuit and now fancies himself a real estate mogul, and usually has a cigar crammed in his ugly mug. A lot of these Stamos Estates residences are “creds by the hour” affairs, and this one certainly looks it.
1601 - Paulie is rubbing his paws together in a way that makes it clear he needs to be compensated for his time.
1602 - Pulpiteer tells Paulie he has a burning question for him.
1603 - The smell of burning circuits fills the room along with Paulie’s screams. The cigar is no longer in sight.
1604 - We head upstairs, carefully making our way over the spice heads in the stairwell. The smell of stale smoke, vomit and despair clings to my coat.
1605 - The room that we stand outside of has thick smoke pouring out from underneath the door, with an acrid smell that can only be Lethese Hang Stem, one of the most potent narcotics in the galaxy. Whoever is smoking it is sure to be a winner.
1606 - A confused moment follows where I am certain we have stumbled into a Nog’s Grog party, before I realize that all of the exposed flesh just reminds me of Confession.
1607 - The trio of Yazatas are obviously sisters, and are floating higher than a sling pod champion at the moment.
1608 - Pulpiteer shouts and shakes them sober. “Terrified awe” is probably the best way to describe the expression on the faces of the stem heads.
1626 - Pulpiteer spends a while talking to the young ladies, asking questions and throwing away all of their stash. He tells me that Avalon will be by later to pick them up and hold them until they dry out, where they will then learn the trade of justice.
1755 - We make our way to the remains of a Broken Sun brewery; Pulpiteer looks nervous.
1800 - Pulpiteer insists we stop and have a drink, in thanks to Tane.
1810 - We thank Tane some more.
1820 - We are very thankful for Tane
1830 - Wr aer sover ythaknfl for Taen
1900 - How weird are bats? They have really big ears! Their faces look like freaky smushed cat-squirrels.
1944 - Giggles is here for some reason. I think she wants to go to Confession.
1947 - Giggles attempts to bite Pulpiteer on the neck, and I can tell that he doesn’t like that and that it’s weird. I’m a journalist, we notice these things.
1950 - Pulpiteer assures me that the sharp teeth and foaming of the mouth are not, in fact, how Giggles gets down.
1953 - Giggles stumbles, slamming her head into a disused spout. She does not rise again.
2001 - More weird foaming mouth people show up. This makes me nervous, but Pulpiteer begins to loudly pray to Tane and opens up fire. He assures me that Tane values an accurate head shot. Who am I to argue with a man of the cloth?
2018 - Too many foamers, we have to retreat upstairs.
2032 - Hiding out in one of the disused offices as we catch our breath, Pulpiteer begins to look through the scattered paperwork, eventually sniffing a page and uttering a very intimate and unprintable tribute to Tane.
2159 - We make it to the roof after tangling with too many foamers. The desk, a nice Neith piece that would have fetched some major credits on the collectors market, was reduced to kindling as we tossed it into the remaining vats and set fire to the lot of stinking, and now highly flammable, rotgut.
2233 - Pulpiteer fends off the foamers as we make our way back to the club. I can tell Pulpiteer has it all figured out.
2234 - Pulpiteer spells it out for me. The Candy Striper is none other than Candice Hickory, a hot Yazatas and daughter of renowned scientist, Dr. Hickory. Candice, outraged at the accusations leveled against her father that nearly destroyed his career, sought to strike back at those that defamed him. Posing as a Booze Babe, an attractive person used as a salesperson, she managed to infiltrate Gail’s Ale and Nog’s Grog both. Working from the old Broken Sun brewery, she managed to cross-pollinate the zombie plant with hops, creating a deadly and delicious ale. Those who drink it turn into horrible zombies, controlled by Candice! He was led to this conclusion when he saw the name on the papers in the office, and smelled the paper...the same perfume was on it that he smelled on the woman at the club. She’d led us on a merry chase that continually ended in our almost being killed. The old man was a Candice’s old chemistry teacher - he never wanted her to come to harm. The woman at the club that sent us to him must have known that he would have told us that her relatives, all stem heads, lived close by. We would have no choice but to go there and follow up. The dragon wolves were to scare us away, but we kept at it. The girls, all on Candice’s payroll, told us about the brewery, and how the Candy Striper paid them to find it for her, and that’s all they knew. They will have undoubtedly escaped custody by now. She was hoping that the foamers would infect us, finish us off. She didn’t count on Pulpiteer and his special dispensation of justice. The only questions were, who was this girl, and where was Candice?
2302 - We are back at the club and you could tell that the woman is surprised to see us. Her face is whiter than a ghost wearing a wedding dress. Pulpiteer just says, “Hello, Janice.” She bolts for the door.
2303 - Pulpiteer sprints and grabs her before she can get away. Sobbing, she says over and over to get her away from her, that her sister would kill her for failing. Pulpiteer consoles her and gets the rest of the story. Janice is the twin of Candice, owner of the Serpent Hole lounge that we were in. Candice threatened to kill Janice if she didn’t help her; after all, weren’t they sisters? Didn’t they love their father? Candice got crazier and crazier, splitting her time between here and the Broken Sun brewery as she slowly began her work of gaining trust and infiltrating breweries. Pulpiteer is grim and makes me stay here with Janice as he heads back in.
2305 - I think that’s a chair that breaks the window. Aeshma One follows it.
2306 - Aeshma Two has a bad hair day, singed bald by something that’s left his chest on fire.
2307 - There was a fire fight.
2310 - Pulpiteer emerges, carrying a wounded but not dying Yazatas woman that can only be Candice. We head back to base to debrief J-Co.
2344 - Candice is arrested and held for trial. Nog’s Grog and Gail’s Ale begin cleaning out their stocks, each threatening to sue Candice for the lost profits.
2345 - J-Co asks Pulpiteer what do with Janice, who seems to be a stooge in all this. Janice smiles and asks to go to Confession for her part in all this. Pulpiteer, being a man of the cloth, obliges.
0000 - Best. Day. Ever.

If Avalon is reading this, please let us go with you again. Next time, we’ll take pictures...

An Intimate Interview with Naraka Councilwoman Nadia Solarii

Everyone has heard that age old axiom “Every end is a new beginning.” This is perhaps thrice true for Nadia Solarii. Instead of bemoaning her circumstances and focusing on what she had to give up when originally migrating to Naraka, she went on to lead the ultra successful Solarii Industries. Recently, Nadia was involved in a highly publicized battle for the position of Council CEO with Orpheon Industries. Thanks to influence and diligence from both her superstar daughter and her allies on Middian, Ms. Solarii pulled off a stunning election day coup and supplanted the long-standing Orpheon Industries candidate. This signaled not only the end of Ms. Solarii’s time as solely a businesswoman, but the end of the old government on Naraka. We were lucky enough to be fit into her extremely busy schedule during a recent jaunt to Middian.

FNF: Thanks for speaking with us today, Council CEO Solarii. We know your time is valuable and the FNF is renowned for its inability to scrounge up enough credits to afford to pay attention. We are working on a slush fund, but we are having a hard time getting it off of Gymir.

Solarii: *laughs* No problem. My daughter has informed me of your fair and balanced reporting, and I consider this an excellent opportunity to converse in a much less formal setting.

FNF: So, Councilwoman, can you tell us why you are on Middian today?

Solarii: I am here for the social event of the season, well, the month at least...on Middian. My daughter, a longtime supporter of matrimony and monogamous relationships, made certain that I was in attendance. Weddings are beautiful occasions, and we need more beautiful occasions in these troubled times, wouldn’t you agree?

FNF: As you say Councilwoman, we-

Solarii: In fact, we could use more of them, and my daughter agrees! It not only brightens spirits, but large events like this are excellent opportunities to stimulate myriad aspects of the economy. Tourism receives a major increase, as well as traditional luxury goods artisans. Every facet of the economy around the area of the event flourishes. Simply put, everything about them is good.

FNF: Interesting. Do you think that you will-

Solarii: You know my daughter, I am sure. She is an incredibly talented, beautiful and famous pit fighter. What you might not know is that she is officially accepting suitors! She’s told me all about her ideal man, and what better place than to share it than with the Fringe News Feed?

FNF: Well Councilwoman, we don’t normally-

Solarii: Excellent! I knew you’d agree wholeheartedly! As you are all undoubtedly aware from the Vids, my daughter is a divine creature with looks that could even make the most devout follower of Nidregg turn that spiral into a straight line, if you catch my drift. Not only that, but she’s a tough and independent creature that doesn’t need a man, but still deserves to be lucky in love. Did you know that I once caught her sneaking out of the house to make out with the son of a visiting Imperial noble? The look on that boy’s face when I told him I was going to tell his mother! As for my daughter, she turned redder than a lava lobster! She didn’t speak to me for a week! I think that’s when it started though, her secret love of men from the Imperium.

FNF: I am not sure that your daughter would want her-

Solarii: *laugh* Nonsense! She is just too shy to do this on her own! If you want to find your way into my daughter’s heart, here’s what you need to know. While she tried to hide it, she simply adores men with the classic Imperial look. The more midnight the black of your ankle length leather coat, the more commanding your authority, the tighter your buttons and pants, and the cleaner your cut, the more she will be romancing you in her mind. She wants her man to keep some mystery. If you want to catch her attention, you need to be willing not to share everything with her and keep her guessing. If you appear to be a puzzle she can’t solve, she won’t be able to put you out of her thoughts. Finally, it’s all about the voice for her. If you have a voice that might rattle a window pane, you will make her knees rattle. While this might seem like too much information, I feel that having the proper information is key to having success in finding a suitor that I can approve.

FNF: Ma’am, we don’t usually-

Solarii: Oh! I wouldn’t want to forget to give other necessary information to potential suitors. I found one of her diaries once where she discussed wanting three children. She’d like one daughter and a pair of well-behaved boys. If you have the means to possibly ensure this, I am positive it would win points. The diary also talks about when she was on a date and-

FNF: Looks like our time is up folks! The FNF would like to thank Council CEO Solarii for her time and insight into her busy life as a newly elected official. The FNF would like to remind certain parties that we should not be held responsible for the comments of our interviewees. In a non-related note, we would also like to thank Solarii Industries for their generous donations.

Gossip Scraps
  • Snickersnac might have a new father figure on the horizon. Empathic Cyborg Web Guide was seen cozying up to her mother during a recent Gate Town gathering. The question remains, will he ask her to call him daddy?
  • Pulpiteer officially confirmed that Widow Chic is no longer in fashion. In a fabulous faux pas, he was seen sporting a sparkly sport coat. Rumors seem to confirm that he caught no lady flies within his gussied up web. This proves once again that Imperial fashion changes faster than who is claiming to be the Emperor.
  • For the second gather in a row, a yeti was reported to be sighted near the Gate Town denizens. Have the gentle giants migrated here from Gymir, and if so, what do they know that we don’t?
  • In a scandal that shook the bedrock of Gate Town, it has been revealed that Jackson Howl is married! As a well-known scientist/fringe-core musician he was considered to be quite the catch and have a long string of meaningless encounters with groupies, as required by his label’s contract. Instead, his reappearance in the spotlight has him happily married. How long until the label drops his group?
  • The nuptials of the Sword-and-Wolf family went off without a hitch. By the accounts of the Raven family’s party planner, they received no less than three hundred doilies. Baron Sword-and-Wolf was heard to thank FNF for their gift recommendations. Congratulations Baron!
  • Someone has “planted their seed” with the Glow-Gun Gambler. Kills-With-Her-Mind is said to be “concerned”. Watch out, oglers!
  • Empathic Cyborg Web Guide and the Agent of the Tulku have been seen practicing a strange form of martial arts over the last few weeks. It involves recorded music and spinning upon the ground and using a combination of high energy and acrobatic moves. They are said to be competing over an unknown issue in a “breakdancing duel to the death” within the coming months. Butch Thompson and the STRIFE league are looking to obtain exclusive rights.
  • Stock in Insane Ideas, LLC. continues to plummet after CEO Silver Alloy’s latest venture of a blood based infrastructure was met with a chill reception.
  • We aren’t sure what Naughty Nerys is fully involved in, but it involved several fine specimens of Gate Town dressing up and practicing the art of seduction. Rumors of fake illicit corporations have sky rocketed in the following days.
  • Seeker is in the market for a big book, and throwing lessons. He is paying reasonable sums, but be sure to check that contract before you sign it.
  • Rumor has Doc Snail putting on her most festive jacket in order to garner some attention. With Sharkzor nowhere in sight, is she looking to put her healer’s hands on Displays-His-Abs?
  • With nuptuals in the air, it’s always a good opportunity to couple watch. A certain silicate playmate looked a little green around the gills and was smiling a little too widely to be entirely comfortable, while the Lotus and Coffin Stuffer seemed smug and cozy in their devoted union that need not be defined the words of man nor god.
  • When taking on a Shackler, gaudy things in ivory and gold, it is important to deploy the proper technique. For those looking for lessons, inquire with one Quiet Storm. He might not say much, but his slide kicks are the best this side of Dirty Doctors 5: Mud Medicine.
  • X, a certain saucy sprite, looked positively electric in a acid green and black dress. Knowing her uncanny affinity with machines, one has to wonder if the Box of Utmost Partyfication told his Maru friends about the outfit and that’s why they came to town. When it became clear they missed the dress, they couldn’t help but vent their frustration.
  • Talk Fast is in the market for some “confidential sources”. If you are a stoolie, rat, fink, squeeler, plant, informant or even a plain ol’ snitch, please inquire directly.