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  1. Imperial Office of Internal Affairs - Media Corps in the stately name of Emperor Letum the Eighth Sovereign of the New Pacific Order proudly presents Pacific News Network International # 22: Get to Know Them! An Introduction to Pacifica's Government Preface “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.” (Ronald Reagan) It is always nice to know a little bit more about your fellow nation rulers, be it that you are among those looking to shake their hands and strike a new friendship, or among the ones wishing to shake their necks and strike a new casualty for your National Cemetery Wonder. Whatever the reasons you have to add info about the New Pacific Order head honchos to your intel file, we bring you a brief introduction to each and every one of them! Enjoy! By Elegarth, NPO Media Corps Coordinator, who may soon find himself unemployed. [hr] LETUM, EIGHTH EMPEROR OF THE NEW PACIFIC ORDER One of the oldest nations in the game, Letum was originally the leader of GATO at the height of that alliance's rivalry with the Order, and he holds the honor of being the only member of Pacifican Government to have declared war on the Order. After his failed attempts at taking down the NPO from the outside, he joined the Order to much suspicion in 2007. His writing skills, previously used to whip up GATO into an anti-NPO frenzy, allowed him to succeed as a scribe within the Order, and his honeyed words eventually led him into the Pacific Bank, where he launched his career. After several years of service and climbing through the ranks of the Economics Affairs department, he eventually became Econ IO by virtue of being the only one left to lead it (other possible choices having mysteriously been sidelined throughout the years). Quite why the Pacifican leadership of the day thought it wise to give a Greek total control of the Order's finances is not known, but Letum soon expanded on a massive program of government investment in wonders and pushing the slot efficiency of lower tier nations to feed more tech into his upper-tier crony buddies. The Economics department also saw a large expansion in government personnel and usage of automated Google doc spreadsheets under him, but despite that, many of his analysts kept complaining that he was giving them too much work to do, especially with slot auditing, and that they were visiting "the Dungeon" more frequently than usual. After a few years of "managing" economics, he was reassigned to a short stint in IA to help fix a leadership vacuum in that department before becoming Imperial Regent near the end of the Disorder War and helping to negotiate a humiliating Peace Treaty for the Order. With Emperor Farrin retiring a few months after the war, there was nobody left to challenge Letum as he assumed absolute power in the very Order he once fought to destroy. Appointing his former Patron in Econ, Frawley, to serve as his Regent and Pit Bull, he soon launched a rapid reversal of the Order's FA policy, approaching alliances with which the Order held historic differences and establishing radical new ties to allies which enabled the alliance to have a pivotal and victorious role in the Doom War. Now, this perfidious Greek is seeking to further his old Econ crony network by bringing ever more alliances into the glory of service to the great AI master that is the [redacted] economic transaction market. [hr] FRAWLEY, REGENT OF THE NEW PACIFIC ORDER One of the oldest members of active Imperial Command, Frawley’s lack of a real life allowed him join the Order with some friends in 2006, where he quickly started a career as Pacifica’s ladies’ man. Eventually he was dragged into the War Aid department by Sweetmojofugginj (a forgotten glory from the Order’s past), where he excelled at handling aid during the first great war. This service and the mysterious disappearance of other banking leaders led to Frawley being promoted to Imperial Officer of Economic Affairs for the first time in February 2007. During his first term as an Imperial Officer, Frawley helped build up the Pacifican banking system as an important institution within the alliance. By the middle of 2009, copious consumption of booze forced Frawley to go into rehab and retire as Imperial Officer, taking five years of paid leave in the Pacific Bank's luxurious retirement home, where he was surrounded day and night by humble servants that made him grind his teeth in boredom. So, he once again sought some action and came back to the service of the Order as IO of Economics in May 2014, where he used his funds wisely to be upgraded to the position of Regent of the Order a few days later. During both his time as IO of Economics and as Regent, he has promoted efficiency and improved communications throughout the alliance. [hr] ORION, SHADOW EMPEROR OF THE NEW PACIFIC ORDER The mysterious and shadowy entity known as Orion formally joined the Order in [redacted], but rumors about his existence had been flowing through the darker corridors of Pacifica’s barracks for years. Said to be a digital hive-mind incarnation of former Pacifica soldiers fallen in the line of duty, Orion’s love for World Domination, unsatisfying hunger for tech, and surprisingly eidetic memory allowed him to quickly rise through the secret stairs of Imperial Command. Loaded with the mixed brain patterns of all former emperors, Frawley’s megalomaniacal tendencies, and Lord of Darkness’s love for efficient behavior, Orion’s use of the strings that control Pacifica have allowed him to extend his tendrils in all manners of Pacifica’s life; from deciding what the Imperial Cafeteria will make for breakfast on a lazy Saturday morning to subliminally controlling the thoughts of anyone reading the Pacific News Network, Orion’s desire for control and power know no limits. [hr] EMPEROR ICE, IMPERIAL OFFICER OF ECONOMIC AFFAIRS Emperor Ice joined the New Pacific Order in 2007, after he and two other friends failed at taking over the Cyberverse with the threat of a three-man, all-powerful AA. At the beginning of his time as a Pacifican, he fought hard for the Order, and he has accumulated almost 10 million casualties, 127th in the world. He eventually decided to get a real job and joined the Economic Affairs department in 2013, where he was hired as an entry level analyst. During his time as a Pacifican, he also tried to become an important part of the diplomatic machine of the Order twice, both times failing due to naps during the initiation programs. Due to his enduring love of spreadsheets, data, and beatings, he eventually moved up through the ranks of Econ. Due to a suspicious lack of alternative candidates, he was promoted to Imperial Officer of Economic Affairs in July 2014, where he ensures the chains of his fellow economists are not released for more than 15 minutes a day. During his tenure, Emperor Ice has become the master of slot efficiency and has worked to develop systems that will allow Pacifica to grow significantly over the coming years. [hr] LORD OF DARKNESS, IMPERIAL OFFICER OF MILITARY AFFAIRS Having joined CN in December 2008, Lord of Darkness (LoD) joined the New Pacific Order one month later, after spending several days trying find an alliance he felt he could fit into and be a good asset for. In the Order, LoD quickly became a tag hoarder, acquiring jobs in almost every single department of the alliance, but avidly avoiding a job in the Pacific Bank (as he does likes to shower). However, of all of them, it was his performance in Military Command, Intel, the Imperial Academy, and the Praetorian Guard that caught the eyes of most people, especially Gandroff, then-Imperial Officer and Poodle Menace of the Order. He was also considered an "awesome" addition to the Military staff. During his tenure as department head of the Praetorian Guard, LoD was able to reform its operations in order to increase efficiency and reduce the complexity of the tasks performed, and he was known for his fierce hunting of ghosts, traitors and proponents of hugging and huggling in Francograd public spaces. This eventually merited him the position of Imperial Officer of Military Affairs, where he implemented this same principle of efficiency and simplicity to ensure Pacifica's war machine stays well prepared and ready to take on any enemies. His early involvement with [redacted] for this purpose has left him with more time to perform his extra duties as admin of the forums and to tend his unicorn collection. [hr] NECOHO, IMPERIAL OFFICER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS Necoho joined the New Pacific Order in 2009 after a long career in The Order of Righteous Nations. He had served in several senior government positions in TORN. Necoho began his Pacifican career in the Diplomatic Corps, as an Imperial Ambassador. In his early career he joined and rose to leadership positions in several departments, including the Academy, Military Intelligence, and the Praetorian Guard. Necoho was also elected twice to service on the Council of Pacifica. Foreign Affairs, though, was to be the most significant part of his service to the Order. Necoho steadily rose through the ranks of the Diplomatic Corps from Special Envoy to Imperial Legate until his appointment by Emperor Farrin as Imperial Officer of Foreign Affairs on February 4th, 2014. During his time as FA IO, he has been a major force in rebuilding and strengthening the Order’s foreign policy. Throughout his career in Foreign Affairs he has pushed for improved relations on the Red sphere and developed relationships with new alliances in Cyber Nations. He is worshiped and adored in the Diplomatic Corps for the vast amount of booze he is able to consume and his dedication to the drunken arts. Necoho has shown himself to be a dedicated Pacifican and a skilled diplomat on behalf of the Order. [hr] SCOURGE, IMPERIAL OFFICER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS Scourge, otherwise known as "The Emperor's Wrath," bears a distinction almost unique among Imperial Officers of having held no major leadership roles outside of his chosen field. After joining at the end of July, 2013, Scourge entered into a turbulent Diplomatic Corps, in which Legate after Legate resigned over the War of the Orders. Finally raised to the post of Diplomatic Special Envoy in early 2014, Scourge rapidly made a name for himself as a leader beyond what was needed and found himself as Legate by the middle of the year. During this tenure, Scourge reorganized the flagging Diplomatic Corps and set about motivating the staff into a period of expansion and building of relations. Scourge was the first Imperial Officer appointed to serve in a three-part team covering one area in several years at the time of his promotion in October 2014, mere months after becoming Legate. Thrust into the post in the lead-up to the Doom War, Scourge proved a dynamic leader, transitioning smoothly onto the world stage and helping push through several treaties. Within a month and a half of his appointment, four of the Order's treaties had Scourge's signature on them, and others followed in the postwar period. He remains an extremely popular IO within Pacifica, though as a proponent of the Order's infamous "drunken diplomacy," he is known to occasionally be found on IRC making strange comments. Please give Scourge alcohol if you see him; Necoho has been drinking his share. [hr] DRCOOL, IMPERIAL OFFICER OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS Drcool joined Pacifica on April 16th, 2008, and is a life-long Pacifican. His career in the Order began as a recruiter in 2009. He shortly thereafter added jobs in the Praetorian Guard and Military Intelligence to his workload. Over time, Drcool built up a reputation for himself as a proficient worker and in late 2009 he was selected by his comrades as a member of the Council of Pacifica. He would go onto serve five terms as a Councilor, showing a strong dedication to the internal affairs of the alliance. After Council was dissolved in 2010, Drcool was elected as the first Chief of Public Services, which he served as for nine months. After nine months as CoPS, Drcool went on to serve as Chief of Recruitment, taking over the reigns of the department that started his career. After a little over a year in this position, Drcool took a break from CN, but in 2014 he returned to activity to once again help out Internal Affairs. Thanks to his work as an IA advisor and previous experience, he was appointed as Chief of Recruitment, where he served for four months until his appointment as Imperial Officer of Internal Affairs in October of 2014. During his time as Imperial Officer, Drcool has worked to improve efficiency, boost activity, and add to his department kill count. [hr] BILROW, IMPERIAL COUNSELOR Loved and hated each by many CN players, though we sincerely hope Pacificans are skewed toward the former, Bilrow is generally recognized as a legend of yesteryear, though he is still active today. After initially serving as a member and leader of the Grand Global Alliance until 2008, Bilrow joined the Order in March of that year. Like many of his predecessors, he dabbled in recruitment, procuring, mentoring, military intelligence, diplomacy, and the former Pacific Council, gaining a wealth of experience in most of the Order's key departments before rising to leadership. He led Military Intelligence as its Intelligence Director and created the Unimatrix System. Thanks to the initiative he showed from the moment he set foot on Pacifican soil, building on vast former experience, Bilrow was named the Imperial Officer of Internal Affairs in May 2010. Bilrow considers his crowning achievement crushing council beneath his feet and destroying its entire existence. Soon after, he was named a Hero of the Order for his services, making him the only active recipient of that award. Bilrow has long been regarded as one of Pacifica's most entertaining IRC participants, a moniker that is not easily earned. After the sorrow the Order faced when he retired in May 2011, Bilrow came back to CN and the Order three years later in May 2014. He was quickly appointed as an Imperial Counselor and wasted no time getting back to business as he helped form the new Pacific University by that July. Lately, he has been seen advising with the development of new tools. Often going by the IRC name Worlib, he remains a key member of the Order and is normally listed in the top 3 of everyone's favorite Pacificans, and Top 1 of everyone's favorite GGA leaders! [hr] JESSE END, IMPERIAL COUNSELOR Jesse End came to Pacifica in 2007, and before long Military Affairs snatched him up. He rose through the ranks quickly, setting himself apart from the rest even among the densely populated Pacifica of 2008. He worked tirelessly as a member of both Battalion Command and the Praetorian Guard, where he faced his first real test as its leader in the immediate aftermath of Vox Populi's infiltration of the Order. His time as part of the Guard ended around the time of the Karma War, which Jesse spent as Pacifica's Military Colonel. During the massive restructuring of the Order required after the Karma War, Jesse was appointed Imperial Officer of Military Affairs, an unenviable task given the outcome of that war and how much rubble needed to be cleaned off the barracks. After the grueling war against Doomhouse, Jesse took a well-deserved break from imperial office, lasting nearly a year. He resurfaced as Imperial Counselor in mid-2012... but something was different. He served a second stint in mid-2013 as Imperial Officer of Military Affairs, but he has spent much of the last three years as Imperial Counselor, hidden away in a massive server room emblazoned with "Keep Out" signs. His work remained largely a mystery until the arrival of the shadowy [redacted], which is now known to be Jesse's creation. Jesse's military background may be responsible for [redacted]'s great hunger for tech... [hr] This edition of the PNN has been brought to you by the Imperial Office of Internal Affairs and the Media Corps of the New Pacific Order. Produced by Elegarth, Hakora Kiyanto and Applesauce59 for the PNN.
  2. Imperial Office of Internal Affairs - Media Department in the stately name of Emperor Letum the Eighth Sovereign of the New Pacific Order proudly presents Pacific News Network International # 21: Tales from the Pacifican Crypt In This Edition: • Preface • Death from Darkness • Night of the Living Hugglers • The Pacifican Tale of the Body Snatchers • All Hope Was Lost: The Truth of Letum's Dungeon [hr] Preface “Fear is contagious. You can catch it. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to say that they're scared for the fear to become real.” (Neil Gaiman) From the darkest corners of our collective imaginarium, monsters of legend, horrors from forgotten times, and the long-stretching arms of the unknown reach out to freeze our hearts and our souls. A small creak in the middle of the night. The wind howling, mourning the past. Fear, and the tales of horror that accompany it, are part of our lives. And we in Pacifica are not free of them. Because the brave are not those who don't fear, but those who fear and face those fears, rising victorious and... forever scarred. The NPO Media Corps bring you on this day of terrors, the Tales from the Pacifican Crypt. By The NPO Media Team, Proudly part of the Pacific News Network [hr] Disclaimer: Some of these texts may include gore and references not apt for the sensitive or easily impressionable. We advise caution when reading these stories if you think you may find them repulsive or uncomfortable. [hr] The cries got louder in the air as I went out there, as a dare, the foggy forest was so dark, my scuttling, it left a mark. Closer, closer I got to the shouts, Why did they sound like pouts? I saw the blood up ahead And then the man that was dead. He wore the flag of the NPO, His name was ‘Elegarth’ as tattooed on his throat, The blood was spreading, I kept on treading. I stumbled over the man And felt the smack of a pan My vision blurred and I fumbled, Dropping to the ground in a tumble. I woke up Gagged, Helpless, Dragged. My body was covered in red The same red from the dead As I was dragged from my home And into the unknown. The first stab came in my gut The next in the butt. I screamed in pain As I was being slain. The man stood tall and proud, Enough killing for a crowd, His name was Operative, And he was very proud. By writinglegend48, Proudly part of the Pacific News Network [hr] The first few reports on Radio Free Pacifica explained that a group of foreign terrorists were attacking a MilCom Security Complex in Francograd’s Koona sector. For any Pacifican with as many years here as I have, this should have been just a laughing matter: attacking the bunker where our best soldiers and military minds are was madness. I laughed, indeed. “Idiots,” I thought to myself, and then moved on to think of other, more important matters. I drove my car towards the Financial Sector, perhaps a little amazed at the lack of jams near Franco Square, but at least I was going to be able to arrive on time to my office in the Pacific Bank Vault. I should have noticed the line of aid requesters was shorter than usual, but since Skynet had kicked in, we’ve improved our work so much, that I felt glad for it. “A milestone,” I said to myself. My secretary brought me coffee; she realized I had woken up early. She also went ahead and canceled all my meetings for the day, which allowed me to schedule an important conference I had pending with some of the bank’s economic consultants. About an hour later, Millionario and I were in one of the secure underground rooms, watching hours of anime some important reports from the Tech teams. Little did we know, outside, chaos was the norm. We eventually completed our business at around 2100 hours. As Milli was a retired IO, he has a room in the Retirement Wing. I still had to drive home, so we bid each other farewell, and I departed. The Bank halls were empty, the usually pleasant music stopped for some reason. Papers were all over some of the offices, but after years of Hippie work, you get used to it. Should I have noticed the breaking news flashing on the screens of the lobby? I don’t know anymore… It was all crazy. The sirens and the screams took me by surprise as I stepped outside. “What the hell is going on?” I asked aloud. I was alone, anyway. The streets surrounding us were deserted. I walked toward the parking lot and a few yards away I noticed the smoke rising from a crashed chopper. I certainly had to have been very stoned not to notice that when I was downstairs with Milli. I ran back to the vault. Something awful was going on, and I was sobering up, completely surprised, and alone. As I half walked / half jogged up the hill, I saw them for the first time. What seems to be former members of the Pacifican Army, slowly dragging their feet towards me, towards the Vault’s entrance… A group of about thirty to fifty, their uniforms ragged and tainted with something that looked red, like blood. For a second, I was not aware of myself, and I just stared at them, horror thumping through each nerve and blood cell. Pink-blushed skin covered their bodies. Their serene stern faces had changed into some sort of permanently exaggerated joyous visages. An intense smell of concentrated cotton-candy filled my lungs and made my stomach churn; it was all I could do not to vomit then and there. Strips of their skins were coming off, leaving chickenpox marks on their bodies. On a closer look, they were heart shaped scars. I was petrified. A monstrous huggler What happened next marked itself forever on my mind. Perhaps for having tuned in to the news, or the radio, or just because he saw what was happening outside, Millionario was running out of the Vault as the monsters converged on him. “Run, Elegarth! Save yourself!” His desperate yell brought me back to my senses, and my body found itself. My first reaction was to lurch forward, towards my friend and mentor. But it was too late… As I stood there deciding what to do, two of these… creatures got to him, the first one embracing him from his back, the second one toppling them both over. A swarm of them was soon all around where Milli had been. I started to back out, slowly. Their guttural voices made noises I couldn’t recognize at first. Then they started to step back and I saw Milli. My Milli. Or well, what he was before. His face had started to redden. His clothes were partially torn apart. I froze again, as he threw his arms towards me. For a second, I focused on him, his mouth grunting a word. One I have had so much fun with before, one that entertained me and many others in several meetings. One that MilCom so often reminded us to stop using. “Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuggleee”. Red candy-chew fell from his mouth, staining his clothes. “Huuuuggleeee” he said again. He was gone. These monsters, these… hugglers… had got him. He had turned into one of them. A swarm of hugglers That was all I needed to see. I ran and ran, trying to search for empty streets. From the body of a former PG I was able to pick up some weapons and a Kevlar vest. I moved on and found some other stranded survivors. I’ve been hiding in this facility for the last 30 minutes, while some Alpha Recruits scout the building. The radio stopped transmitting around midnight. We can still hear the screams blocks away. As I write this, I just can hope someone out there is holding on. I don’t have faith that MilCom made it, it seems it all started there. Perhaps Jgolla had finally succumbed to the huggling madness? Could it have been a new weapon to be used against our enemies? I have no clue. Dawn should be here soon. This night of madness and hugglers will soon be over. I just hope we can live through to see a new dawn tomorrow... By Media Corps, Proudly part of the Pacific News Network [hr] Frank Heller was his name. When he woke up, earlier than normal, he felt a cold sensation spreading from his toes into the rest of his body. Autumn had just started to dig deeper into Francograd’s weather, temperatures were lowering rapidly and afternoons were cloudy and moody. He just assumed he might be catching a cold and made sure to take an extra Vitamin C pill during his breakfast. Since it was early, anyway, he decided to walk along Cortath Avenue, down to his office in the Administrative Building of the Internal Affairs District. The morning was brisk, as he expected, and hence he was not concerned about the cold sensation moving up his shins. He thought he was going to need to hit the Hospital later that evening if things continued like that, but for now it could be ignored. His morning was a little agitated, and hence he ignored the advancing coldness until noon, when he went down to grab lunch. He had agreed to meet with the media guys in the Cafeteria, but as soon as he stood up, he realized something was awfully wrong. His left leg was covered in cold sweat, and a numbing sensation ran all the way from the tip of his toe to his right hip. He sat down again quickly, as he was starting to feel dizzy. His left leg was feeling similar to the right up to the knee, and neither of them was totally obeying his commands. He tried to wiggle his toes, to no avail, and each movement he attempted took him a moment and focus. He urgently needed help, quickly dialed for a cab and made the tortuous and hard walk to the lobby. As he arrived in the Urgency Wing, he noticed a group of Praetorians standing guard near the gates. While it was not unusual to see Praetorians all around Pacifica’s Capital City, it was strange to see them specifically there. He asked himself if perhaps a high ranking officer was having a procedure, and if that would impact his needs. His knee was already aching badly and the cold sensation was spreading further. From there, it all went nuts. More Praetorians were inside, standing guard here and there or running alongside medics and nurses all over the place. He approached one of the triage windows, and as soon as he explained what was happening to him, he felt there was much more to it all. He barely noticed the horror-stricken face of the triage doctor, focusing on the Praetorian next to him, who was, surprisingly, grabbing him by the arm and politely asking to be followed. He was quickly placed in a wheel chair, and he felt quite grateful for it, since his right leg was already uncontrollable – he was not able to induce a single movement from it – and his left was almost gone too. Curiously, anyway, he started to worry about a strange secondary feeling that its leg was getting a mind of his own, a will separated from his. Praetorians quickly ushered him into a closed dark observation unit. Doctors and officers wearing bio-protective suits were coming in from the other end, but he had little time to worry as he was gently injected with something that made him go quickly numb and drowsy. “It will all be okay, Comrade” said a man in a brilliant red suit. He could not answer: his muscles were too numb to obey him. The next few hours were more of a nightmare than anything else. He could hear pieces of conversation going here and there, and he could feel that things were not improving. The numbing sensation quickly reached his chest, and he knew – even through the drug he had been given – that he was no longer in control of his lower body. Someone else was. His blood-shoot eyes were the only proof of the horrors going in inside his mind. A nurse, noticing them, injected something else into the serum. “It will be alright” she told him, and walked away. A few hours later, he was moved to a different unit. Several other people, all seeming to be immobilized as he was, were all around him. “This is an attack, Emperor Letum” said one of the highest ranked officers, sitting in a nearby desk. “Not a virus, not bacterial, not prionic either. We have no clue what is going on… We are under siege”. He could hardly believe it, but the second will inside of him, now grabbing his mind from the inside of his own skull, grinned. ………………………… The Pacific News Network reported the Imperial Crisis Research Team had concluded it had all been a result of nerve gas released in Francograd by unknown terrorist forces. They could also confirm that out of the 113 affected Pacificans, 6 had succumbed to the attack, while all 107 others had survived and were already discharged in healthy physical and emotional condition. “We will find these terrorists and destroy them. May Admin have mercy of their souls, because we shall have none,” said the Emperor in his Crisis Speech to the Body Republic. He was wearing a wise smile and a ready attitude when he signed the discharge papers. Warm feelings crossed his body as he walked out, wearing a new elegant suit someone gave him earlier. When? It didn't matter. He took the first bus he saw and got off a few stops later, still smiling. He bought a cup of coffee at a stall and walked a few more blocks, toward a black door leading to the large, well-lit cellar previously agreed on. There were about seventy others already here. More would come later. “Phase one is done,” said a tall man standing in front of the others. He recognized Imperial Officer Brennan. Surprising; they never expected to be able to get hold of an Imperial Officer. “Pacificans do not suspect a thing… and now Phase Two of Project DARPHA shall start”. Everyone applauded. It was a joyous day for the forces of the Body Snatching Coalition. If anyone had looked more closely at Frank Heller’s eyes, they would have seen the last shining spot of his soul dying out in a scream of ultimate utter horror, his body finally stolen forever. By Media Corps, Proudly part of the Pacific News Network [hr] I knew, since I made that speech in Franco Square, that I was putting myself in danger. Speaking ill of the Emperor of the New Pacific Order is not often something done by the coward or the weak of will, hence I had no real fears. What could he do? Arrest me? My evidence was strong, and it was clear to me that Pacifica required to know the truth. I went home late, using the metro. Walking in public is the safest thing a man in danger can do: it is hard to disappear when everyone can see you – and recognize you. Something kept nagging at the edge of my conscious thoughts. Had I forgotten something? Had my article, “The secret behind Pacifica’s Dungeon Master,” skipped something obvious and transparent? My research had been thorough. Perhaps it was just myself being overcritical of my own work and discoveries. Or perhaps I was allowing my paranoia to ride my emotions without any control. Clearly, it was time to go to bed. I turned on my alarm system, and the red word “ARMED” showing in the display gave me the peace I needed to fall fast asleep. When I heard the first noise, a muted, deep “boom” on the door, I wondered if he had sent in the Praetorian Guard or the Pacifican Army. He was surely going to parade me on the PNN with a made-up charge. When they were inside, I started to realize that my alarm should have gone off way before they were so close, their heat signature picked up by the thermal sensors. When they finally broke into my room – about 10 seconds later – I started to realize something may be going wrong. I couldn't recognize their uniforms. In the few seconds before they covered my head with a black fabric bag, I just was able to see their black cargo pants and dark blue jackets. Their faces were all covered in dark blue masks, without many features. There were no insignias of any sort, or any kind of external identification. But the stench emanating from them quickly made me gag. It was like smelling a butcher after a day’s worth of work. Their cold hands quickly dragged me out. I was unceremoniously thrown into the back of a van. I was surprised at how much they were able to communicate among themselves, as they made no sound. I supposed they were using some form of sign language or highly advanced intercom devices. Some gossips around the Tech District had mentioned a project to develop mind-to-mind intercoms. Perhaps that was far more advanced than “a project”. We drove for about 30 minutes before I was pulled out. Driving time and the late hour of the night made me calculate we were either in the outskirts of the city or just in the middle, in the Imperial Sector. Surely, even Letum was not ruthless enough to try to execute me in the dark. The PR issue after that would be almost unmanageable. Not even LoD’s ACE (Awesome Counterterrorism Experts), nor Frawley’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs would be able to handle such a scandal easily, or without consequence. I was able to notice a splashing sound ahead of me, and soon after I was being driven through an area of flooded floors. Someone near a lake? Were they going to drown me? A smell of rotting garbage and swamped plants made me quickly think of sewers. The trip wasn’t long. About 10 minutes later, I was ushered into some sort of waiting place and made to sit, and I was able to hear the loud noise of a metal-rigged door closing behind me. What was it that my mind kept nagging me about? I had no time for going through the hoops and loops of my paranoid, worried, and currently quite busy mind. What was it that couldn't let me focus on more important matters? I tried to push that away from my head, as I also tried to move myself into an upright position and realized, suddenly and surprisingly, that I was no longer handcuffed. My wrists were still throbbing, but I had not noticed when the restraints were taken off me. I stood up and quickly removed the bag limiting my sight. The blinding white light in the room hit me like staring at the sun in the middle of summer at noon. I rubbed my eyes carefully while I let my body lean slightly against the near wall. When I was finally able to open my eyes, I was first surprised at not being in a cell, and then at the room itself: completely white, lights pouring from every corner, with a built in bench. Behind me, the metal door. In front of me, a white, simple, elegant one, with a sign that said “Please come in.” I hadn't come this far being a coward, or fearing what could be awaiting me. I rubbed my wrists; the pain from the cuffs was slowly fading away, and I felt a little dizzy. I grabbed the knob of the white door and easily turned it. It wasn't locked. There wasn't any impediment for me to move on. I stepped in, and my mind was trying to catch up quickly. The next room was… bizarre. The concrete, unpainted walls were decorated with several gruesome pictures of tortured people. Any kind of pain machines ever invented were pictured there. And a jolly loud voice I couldn't recognize resounded all around me. “Welcome,” it said. “Please step through this room, and move on. You can't go back, and you should not try it. You know well why you are here, and you may guess at what expects you. But you were able to discover a dark hidden truth. And here is your reward.” There were no speakers anywhere, and the sound seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. “You are, however, not the first… And probably won't be the last… Our Master awaits you”. A black door I hadn't noticed before opened up silently and by its own, a few steps away from me, leading into a dark room. A strong and somewhat familiar smell was coming through the door, but I didn't recognize it at first. The next room was dark and silent. I stepped in carefully, and the door closed behind me, by its own will again. “Stop,” said a gentle voice coming from the corner of the new room. In the darkness, someone came to me and whispered in my ear. “I can see everything in this darkness, please don't try anything”. I asked the voice where I was, but I received no reply. “Please allow me” said the voice again, as hands I could not see started to unbutton my shirt. I asked her – did it sound female? – to stop. “Do not worry yet,” said the voice, again, “I'll be gentle, and you're safe here.” I allowed her (him?) to continue. (S)he removed my shirt and t-shirt, and after leading me to sit, removed my trousers. Quickly, he, or she, brought me another set of clothes, soft smooth clothes, and simple by the feel of it. The place where I was sitting was also soft and comfortable. But the smell that was coming from everywhere was starting to annoy me. “I’ll turn on the lights now” he said… she said… I realized I had not yet been able to make up the gender of whoever was tending to me. It was almost an androgynous voice. Sometimes softer, sometime lighter. “Drink up,” he – or she – said. I was given a cup and I drank whatever it was. I assumed this was it, poison. Perhaps slow poison, allowing Him to come and gloat at my last few moments. My head started to feel both dizzy but clearer at the same time. And the smell… The lights flashed on suddenly. By one of the two doors on the room, I saw my interlocutor: the most alien, beautifully alien, creature I've seen, not totally male, not totally female, impossible creature of paper white skin, with no hair, totally naked. Her feet were covered in a red liquid. I finally recognized the stench drowning my senses: it was blood. And there it was, in the center of the room, a pool made of it, the surface slowly waving. Realization fell on me, and I was able to distinguish the red stain in the glass cup I held in my hands. It was blood. I had been given blood to drink. Disgusted, I stood up. But I hesitated for a second, as I realized something was stirring inside me. My horror was being drowned by a feeling of comfortable numbness. The blood I drank, now in my system, must have carried a drug. I was being… anesthetized against what was about to come. A hand took the cup from my own, and only then I noticed the chair I was sitting on, filling the wall. It was made out of bodies. Living bodies flesh-crafted into sitting positions, their legs and arms bent in impossible ways, their heads nowhere to be seen. Terror and fascination were fighting in my head, while my memories of something forgotten kept pushing their way in. “Dungeon Master of the Order” was his title. This was surely it. How stupid of me: dungeon masters need, obviously, secret dungeons. And I was starting to realize how far down the rabbit hole had I gone by then. “My name is Zanthosa,” said the creature – boy or girl – and pointed up to the ceiling. The drug on the blood kept my horror at bay, my humanity slowly dripping away. “We shall sing of your bravery,” said several dislodged heads, strangely calm, their eyes closed, their skins pale, their necks melting into the wall, veins flowing through the wall from the flesh-benches. “We shall sing of your delusions too.” I started to back away. Zanthosa grabbed me and ushered me through a hallway. “He is waiting for you behind the chorus hall. Just go through, and don't allow the walls to bite you. Take the cup, and if you feel your sanity slip away, drink from the fountains”. My swiftly numbing mind tried to convince me to defend myself or run away, but common sense told me it was already too late, and I might as well continue on, facing my fate with some sort of dignity. My bare feet felt the warm throbbing floor of the hall as I walked through it, and slowly took notice of the walls and ceilings, all crafted of the most horrendous mix of muscle tendrils, skin like parchment, and veins, thick like fingers, pulsing, moving. The chorus began to sing. Several thousand voices perfectly synchronized coming from the walls. The veins unraveled themselves and I could see the flesh walls covered in mouths and eyes. The eyes, blinking, alert and alive. The mouths wailing their chants hypnotically, voices of men and women, children and elders mixed up perfectly. Some of them stopped singing and slightly extended from the walls, trying to kiss, to bite, to lick me. I told myself I should just keep walking, when I also noticed full faces were part of the walls, some of them horror-stricken, some of them calm, some even grinning malevolently at me. The sound started to die out, as I moved up the hall into a gallery. The walls, ceiling, floor, and even the columns were all made of flesh, and in the gallery, whole bodies had been sculpted into pillars, stretched from floor to ceiling, bent around cores made of bones, their feet and hands melting away into the mass that formed the rest. “This is the Gallery of Screams” said Zanthosa, who had caught up with me suddenly. She casually walked between two of the pillars and let her hands slightly brush them. The agonizing screech coming from each of them was enough to make me long for some of the numbing drug in the blood fountains running at the edge of the walls. I fell to the ground, disgusted by it all. Another pair of hands helped me up. “Allow us to guide you” said a voice. Zanthosa was behind me. She, or he, was also in front of me. “We are Zanthosa”, one of them said. The one that had stepped through the pillars melted away into the flesh, a pool of blood slowly absorbed by the visceral construct I was standing in. “We are part of the Master”. I was up again. A Dungeon full of horrors surrounding me. A living dungeon. A nightmare. “Clear a path” ordered Zanthosa. The pillars twitched and moved, their cries and laments echoing all around me, revealing a road made of white lustrous bone. She pointed forward, and I started walking again, finally defeated. A few yards into the gallery, and pillars were no longer the main population. Veins and tendons heaved themselves from the unbroken carpet of raw meat, sprouting leaves and petals. Stubs of muscle opened into blood-red caps. The flesh was changing, becoming something else. At the end of the garden there was an altar, the only part of the whole feverish place not made out of flesh. In it, lying unconscious, his arms extending and dissolving into a mass of veins connected to the Flesh Cathedral, was Emperor Letum. And beside him was a lump of flesh forming into the shape of Emperor Letum. Blood transforming into skin, hundreds of mouths covering his arms and torso. “You are finally here,” said a hundred voices at the same time. I fall to my knees and hands, my senses feeling the twitching floor's excitement and anticipation. “Poor Letum” he said. “So long ago, I took over him and his position. The always willing Letum, heart of this Flesh Dungeon. You were all such fools. The secret of the dungeon master is that he was subject to my will long ago, little journalist.” The demon that took over Letum laughed as he dissolved himself into a pond of blood, re-absorbed into the monstrous building. All the walls and blood-plants, the screaming faces and the singing mouths, the pillars and the dislodged-heads screamed with his voice. “I'll absorb Pacifica, and then, I'll absorb the world”. I tried running, and then I laughed. I felt his mind overcome mine, and his veins connecting to mine. The blood I had consumed made its way out of my body, crawling through my flesh, like little worms making their way out, while tendrils made their way in. I just wanted the truth… And now here I was, slowly absorbed into the Flesh Cathedral, Letum's Dungeon, himself the first victim of forces darker and older than humanity itself. All hope was lost. By Media Corps, Proudly part of the Pacific News Network [hr] The Pacific Press, Halloween 2014 Edition Ends Here Stay tuned for more surprises!
  3. A [url="http://www.reddit.com/r/news/comments/ohfei/carlsbad_police_seek_help_with_missing_teen/"]reddit post[/url]was made here. If anyone here reddits please upvote to the front page.
  4. [quote name='Jaiar' timestamp='1322284013' post='2851670'] This announcement of support is disappointing. I would hate to fight against Pacifica, but this direction it is taking is wrong. Good luck on this horrible road you are taking. It will only bring you failure and destruction. [/quote] cool story bro
  5. [quote name='Rongue' date='06 July 2010 - 08:34 PM' timestamp='1278466458' post='2361912'] Addition to post @DRCOOL: Cow Moo or whatever the name is makes it sound differently. Way to be up to date. Noz goz getz edumacated!!! Also it don't matter how long ago it was or if you still do it or not because it was just dumb. Destorying someone's nation over a flag made of pixels? Honestly if you are trying to win a record for dumbest reason to declare war you almost take the cake but still fail to do so. [/quote] You are so cool. And no, that was an old policy that is no longer instated.
  6. [quote name='Rongue' date='02 July 2010 - 10:05 AM' timestamp='1278083101' post='2357693'] A note to all new nations that are join NPO. If you are joining them then custom flag #3 is thier flag. If you were gong to join them but decided not to then change your flag to anything but custom #3, because they will go to war over that flag as bad as that sounds. Overall NPO is a good but sometimes a interwebz serious alliance when it comes to flags. So I have a certain flag as my nation flag. Naw I kindof like some of NPO. ( Like 1 member ) To thier credit they are a big and well known alliance... thats all. Sorry after the whole flag thing I lost respect for you. Maybe you should earn it back by not being immature kids that go to war over a flag? [/quote] Way to be up to date and smart. We don't go to war over wearing our flag any more. Way to be educated
  7. Bilrow of course. He makes me cry myself to sleep everynight.
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