December 2015

It’s been quite a 2015! The Hopewell Democrat-Tribune is pleased to reflect upon some of the highlights, as reported in these pages over the past 365 days:

Chicago Cubs Win The World Series Over Miami Marlins
Hopewell residents were stunned at the news, as local hometown hero LeDemetri Washington was playing as Miami’s second baseman. Following his career with Southern Michigan University and the minor-league Grand Rapids White Caps, many had expected a World Series win to cement Washington’s bid for the 2015 MVP. Sadly, the Cubs’ sweep of the series meant that honor was reserved for Chicago pitcher Brett Newmom. Speaking on condition of anonymity, bookmakers at the Gliding Eagle Casino report that the few local bets made for the Cubs to win reaped significant dividends.

Billionaire Michael Drucker’s Death Leads to Bankruptcy of Replacement Technologies
The technology world was shaken by the death in May of billionaire Michael Drucker, the former manager of Apple’s Biologics division and close associate of the late Steve Jobs. The company was hit hard by the reveltation, confirmed by forensic analysis, that Drucker had been illegally cloning human beings in flagrant violation of the Biological Ethics Act 856 USC 2005 § 2 (commonly known as the “Sixth Day Law”). The resulting bankruptcy and dismemberment of Replacement Technologies and its holdings led to significant hardship in and around Hopewell as the Aspen Mall RePet was forced to close. Led by the local ASPCA chapter, all incomplete cloned pets that were outstanding at the time of the bankruptcy were given to forever homes.

Hopewell Mecha Crew Instrumental in NERV Defeat of Nineteenth Angel
Readers are quite familiar with the continued assaults on the population of the Earth by beings known as Angels resulting from the crippling Second Impact in 2005. Hopewell citizens were delighted to learn that Hopewell High School student Mitchell Baker (HHS Class of ’99) was instrumental in the annihilation of “Metatron,” the Nineteenth Angel, over Tunguska in Russian Siberia. Baker, remembered by peers as a mechanical prodigy, piloted one of the flotilla of support vehicles neccessary for fielding the massive Evangelion-class armored mechas needed to defeat Angels. An official NERV press release credits Baker’s swift refueling of EV-014 with helping to turn the tide against the massive alien organism, and he was posthumously awarded the key to the city.

Queen Diana’s First Visit to the USA An Odyssey for Hopewell Native
Starting on September 22, 2015, the Democrat-Tribune was given unprecedented access to Mary Winemann, the personal chauffer assigned to Queen Diana during her first visit to the USA since her acession in 2012. Winemann met the Queen in D.C. at Joint Base Andrews at 4 p.m., driving her and her consort Prince Al-Fayed to an official White House Welcoming Ceremony and personal meeting with President Barack Obama followed by a parade along the Ellipse and the National Mall and a speech to a Joint Session of Congress. Ms. Winemann, a gradute of Southern Michigan University and University Montessori, so impressed the Queen that she was retained as driver for the remainder of the official visit, from the United Nations General Assembly and motorcade through Central Park in New York to the Independence Mall in Philiadelphia. “She’s a lovely person,” said Ms. Winemann. “All the rumors about her husband’s death and her ascension to queen regnant from queen consort are totally baseless slander.”

Horror in Chicago Five Years After the Battle of Chicago Turned Back Alien Invasion
As anyone visiting the memorial in Veterans Park is aware, five servicemen from Hopewell were killed in the 2010 Battle of Chicago, in which an alien invasion of extraterrestrial robots was decisively turned back at great human cost. When alien robot violence re-erupted in Chicago this year, the Democrat-Tribune interviewed Hopewell native Moammar al-Fatima (HHS Class of ’02) about the experience. “It was insane,” Mr. al-Fatima said in an exclusive interview. “You see the photographs and read the news stories, but until you see a semi truck transform into a robot that skates through a crowded street firing a plasma cannon, you don’t completely grasp it. Every time it missed a shot, somebody was reduced to cinders.” Find Mr. al-Fatima’s photographs of the encounter and his Michigan Broadcasting Association Award-winning snapshot of an alien robot riding an alien robot dinosaur in our online archive.

Norsefire Party Sweeps UK Parliamentary Elections; Adam Sutler Installed as Prime Minister
As a result of economic chaos and an increased terrorist threat, the new Norsefire Party was able to sweep aside Labor, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats to earn a dominant majority of seats. The party, which had polled under 1% in the parliamantery election of 2010, was asked to form a government by Queen Diana the following day with its leader, former Under-Secretary of Defense Adam Sutler, installed as Prime Minister. The Democrat-Tribune spoke with Hopewell students studying in the UK about what the new Norsefire government means for them and for the nation. “I don’t think anything will change, really,” said Sadie Cunningham, currently reading law at Oxford as part of the Scholars Abroad program. “Sure, Norsefire and Sutler said a lot of crazy things during the election, but they have to work within the system now, and with the opposition. They’ll get their rough edges filed off and probably lose the next election, just you wait and see.”

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“Don’t tailgate or you’ll wind up a customer.”

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Allison Kramer was a very unlucky person.

After a bruising day as the highest woman on the corporate ladder working at a world leading agribusiness company, she found out more than she bargained for. Which was saying something, considering she had bargained for a lot–stock options, a 402(L), a company car.

But, nevertheless, after cutting through a blind alley to get to the parking garage, Allison got herself super-duper murdered.

“I bet you don’t remember me,” said the disheveled figure who confronted her with a .32. “You fired me last month. to my face. Like it was nothing.”

“Carl Winterschmidt,” Allison said. “I didn’t fire you like it was nothing. You were embezzling, and not only did I not have youo arrested, I gave you a fruit bouquet from Edible Arrangements.”

“And it fed my family for two days!” Carl cried. “After the fruit ran out, so did my wife! You die now!”

Allison barely felt the .32 ACP bullets slice through her. There was a rushing sound at her ears, the world went black, and…

…he came to holding a smoking Walther PPK, looking down over a murdered corporate lady.

“Damn,” Allison said, throwing away his gun. Not again.”

For the 27th or 37th time since her first death in 2007, Allison had gotten transmigrated again. For some reason, maybe a gypsy curse that had been insufficiently advertised, every time she died she took over the body of whoever had killed her.

The problem was, her bad luck meant she keept dying.

There was the time she was walking down a corridor and the janitor forgot to leave out the wet floor sign after he’d mopped up and then she slipped, smashed her skull on the edge of a cabinet, and died. She’d been the janitor for a year until he died in a hit and run scooter accident.

Then there was the time she got stuck under the ice saving a child from a frozen lake and woke up as a Tammy Cubbins, age 5. Or the time she got her throat torn out by a puppy, followed by three months of being a puppy followed by a further eleven of working at a “no-kill” animal shelter.

Allison sighed, and walked into traffic. Maybe she could get run over by a cool rich socialite and wake up as a cool, rich socialite with a cool, rich socialite car.

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The doctor was flug against the wall by a dripping green tentacle. The great mass of infectious goo, issuing forth from every orifice the child posessed, had reached the stage of its evolution in which it was big and bad enough to meet violence with violence.

Rushing to his side, the parents helped him to his feet. “What can we do now?”

“Your child needs….a Mucinexorcism,” the doctor said in a painful wheeze. “Get me…the Mucinexorcist.”

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It is in times of war, when modern men and modern machines move into uncertain spheres, that the most such strange encounters take place. A few notable ones:

1879: South Africa
A cavalry detachment that was assigned the pursuit of broken Zulu formations after the decisive Battle of Ulundi. The number of men involved are unclear, but 12 men–British soldiers and Zulu warriors with British equipment–eventually appeared in Portuguese Mozambique and were interned there. Despite repeated requests they were never returned, and a perusal of Portuguese records suggests that all 12 were incurably insane and remitted to an asylum in Lourenço Marques. An official report was tendered to the Foriegn Office by the Overseas Ministry in Lisbon, but it was sealed by order of the Prime Minister until 2100.

1915: Egypt
A raiding party of Turkish troops penetrated the Egyptian desert during the larger assault on the Suez Canal. A British force was detailed to follow them. Only five survivors were found despite extensive searches of the high desert, far to the south of the combat near the Dashur necropolis. Reports of strange lights in the desert by Egyptians corresponded with wild tales told by survivors of vicious attacks by luminous beings that could not be driven off with gunfire.

1942: New Guinea
A detachment of Australian troops fleeing toward Port Moresby and pursued by a larger Japanese force disappeared along with their adversaries. In 1945, the remains of a joint Australian-Japanese campside was found high in the Owen Stanley range far from the combat zone. Papers recovered by the investigators reported encounters with shadowy “tribesmen” in the forest. The descriptions matched no known tribes in the Owen Stanley range or the Kokoda Trail areas. No survivors were ever found.

1970: Cambodia
South Vietnamese and American troops moving into the dense jungles of Cambodia reported the discovery of an unknown temple complex from the late Angkor period via radio. There was no subsequent contact aside from a garbled request for close air support that could not be fulfilled. Subsequent searches failed to locate either the temple or the soldiers, with 10 Americans in one squad and a further 50 South Vietnamese troops being listed as missing in action. Examination of North Vietnamese records from the period indicates that an opposing force of 150 troops was also officially unaccounted for.

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Consumers are dumb, stupid, panicky animals. They are irrational, spurning data in favor of gut instinct and gut instinct in favor of data. Trying to change their behavior results, often as not, in unfounded rumors that your precious product causes testicular shrinkage or hyperactivity or cancer. What’s more, it’s expensive to change consumer behaviors, with a sustained campaign of misinformation being an essential component and plenty of competitors with their own misinformation.

But then we here at Cleared Customs (a division of GesteCo) had a much better idea: why not simply modify the customers themselves? It’s cheaper, simpler, and most importantly foolproof. We are therefore pleased to offer, on a trial basis in select cities, our new CC PhageAdvantage™ system. By releasing swarms of nanoscale delivery devices, we can alter the fundamental DNA of consumers and affect their purchasing behaviors, lifestyle, and physical form.

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Excerpted from the Ruins & Rogues Creature Compendium, incorporating materials from the Sorcerers & Sabers Interverse Guide

S’aan T’Klaz
Frequency: Unique
Size/Type: Medium Undead (Fundamental Continuum of Frost, Primary Continuum, Evil Continuum)
Hit Dice: 10d10+10 (404 hp)
Initiative: +04
Speed: 04 ft.
Armor Class: 040
Base Attack/Grapple: +040/+040
Attack: Chilling touch +8 melee (40d04+04)
Space/Reach: 04 ft./04 ft.
Special Attacks: Blizzard, Summon Reigndayr, Jellify, Levitation, Regeneration, Summon Delf
Special Qualities: Telepathy (1000 ft.), Sleepken
Saves: Fort +040, Ref +040, Will +040
Abilities: Str 20, Dex 25, Con 30, Int 21, Wis 30, Cha 04
Skills: Listen +040, Spot +040
Environment: Fundamental Continuum of Frost, Primary Continuum, Evil Continuum
Organization: Unique
Challenge Rating: 040
Treasure: Class A
Alignment: Neutral evil
Advancement: 040 HD

The vile lich S’aan T’Klaz was once a powerful dual-class cleric/mage whose quest for immortality was originally fueled by a need to advance the cause of good through judging the wicked. Eventually, this judgment turned to destruction, and while S’aan T’Klaz still rewards those he judges to be good, his standards and definitions are such that nearly all living, thinking beings are adjudged evil and destroyed if they approach him.

S’aan T’Klaz remains a powerful spellcaster and cleric, casting spells at the 20th level of mastery without the need for material components. His personal abilities, usable once per day at will, include Blizzard, a blinding whirlwind of snow and ice that causes 2d10 damage per round for 5 rounds and requires a save vs. blindness; Summon Reigndayr, which will unleash a single battle-ready reigndayr (q.v.); Jellify, which will reduce a single target to a bowlful of gel; Levitation, which will allow S’aan T’Klaz to move himself vertically by laying a finger next to his gaping nasal cavity; Regeneration, as a lich of equivalent level; Summon Delf, which will unleash 1d4 battle ready death-elves (q.v.); Telepathy, as the spell, which allows S’aan T’Klaz to know if targets have been good or evil; and Sleepken, a unique power which allows him to determine the wakefulness of any being within 1000 miles.

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The excitement of wee sleepers, safely tucked into bed. I’ve not known it for decades.

Some will never know it at all.

And yet, selfishly, I mourn a feeling that I will never have again. And let the wonder of the morning, brightness and joy, pass me by in a cloud of melancholy. And let the horror of those without, those who have never and will never, glide by in my preoccupation.

Does that make me a bad person, or just a mediocre one? And which is worse?

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Oxford Biotechnology Pharmaceuticals, a division of GesteCo Corporation, responded with a public statement today about local complaints with its controversial “Garden of Life” biodome on the 7th-17th floors of their new corporate headquarters in Cronus Beach, FL.

“Oxford Biotech Pharma is commited to innovation, and our commitment is the entire reason behind the Garden of Life facility,” said spokeswoman Miriam Nethersole. “While we can’t, for patent and trademark reasons, disclose exactly what kind of genetic chimeras are afoot in our facility, the public should know that they are peaceful and entirely neccessary for our continued development programs.”

After the statement, Ms. Nethersole took questions from the assembled news media. “No, we do not have any comment at this time about a half-panther, half-boa constrictor hybrid,” she said in response to a question about an incident last month where a Cronus Beach resident blamed such a creature for the disappearence of 17 cats. “And if we did, Oxford Biotech Pharma would assure you that any such creature would subsist on small ground rodents and birds, not cats which it would consider cannibalism.”

When faced with a question about the mysterious mauling death of Alfred Nudelmayer, Ms. Nethersole deferred. “Our operation has been certified organic and gluten-free by the administration, from whom we have recieved generous matching startup funds,” she said. “If the sort of carnivorous horror that would crave a retired deli owner from Queens were a byproduct of this consideration for the environment and the president’s faith in us–and that’s not an admission–we would, of course, be saddened. But wouldn’t it truly be the dream of every deli owner, be they retired or active-duty, be they from Queens or from the Bronx, to give life to scientific inquiry with their gruesome shredding death?”

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Of course, most enthusiasts of classic radio recall the glory days of the medium in the 1930s, and some may even have a soft spot for the rough-and-tumble early broadcasting of the 1920s. But the earliest era in broadcasting, the silent era of radio, is still largely neglected.

Silent radio broadcasts began out of an Edison company shed in New Jersey circa 1894–the exact date is slightly controversial. But the happy coincidence of a microphone left open during a mime show that was being recorded on phonograph led the Edison engineers to realize that there was market potential for silent radio. The first regularly scheduled silent radio show, the Jolly Follies, would follow. An adaptation of a popular Newark mummery, Jolly Follies was broadcast live, with intertitles, over the Edison company radio transmitter. The lack of sound meant that the carrier wave could be far less powerful and reach a much larger audience, and soon the few families that could afford radio sets were crowded around them every day at 5:45 for the Follies.

Silent radio also produced a number of phonograph discs for home listening, the most popular being a Follies competitor out of Philadelphia, the Quiet Riot. The disc, A Bully Day for Quiet Riot, sold 300,000 copies–close to one for every phonograph in circulation at the time. In a 1904 report, the New York Herald predicted that silent radio would soon overtake minstrel shows as the number one entertainment phenomena of the new century. Sadly, it was not to be.

Despite the wide popular embrace of silent radio, radio talkies had been under development since the beginning. Edison put out a radio show with a Morse code soundtrack as early as 1898, and by 1905 many silent radio shows were including sections with sound. Morse code, semaphore, smoke signals…the earliest non-silent radio shows experimented with them all before hitting on the formula so familiar today.

In turn, this spelled disaster for the established silent radio shows and stars of the earlier era. The Jolly Follies mummers spoke with heavy Slavonian accents, and the show faded in popularity despite an attempt to produce it with an all-new cast. The last episode was broadcast in 1919. Quiet Riot ended even sooner; its successor, Noisy Boys, was off the air by 1917. Stories about destitute former silent radio stars were a fixture of 1930s broadcast journalism, and due to the live nature of silent radio broadcasts, few were preserved for posterity–accounting in large part for their modern-day obscurity.

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