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Gravity's Rainbow Reading Group | Sections 66-69 | Week 20
Alright, home stretch foax. This section's a beast. Hang in there and keep sharing your insights! All together now... Section 66 "You will want cause and effect. All right." (663) What an opening - it's almost confrontational, mocking our need for clear narrative structure and causality. We discover that Thanatz was tossed overboard in the same storm that sent Slothrop off the Anubis and off on his adventure with Frau Gnahb. Thanatz is rescued by someone even stranger - an unnamed Polish undertaker (think on the etymology of that word) who happens to be a lightening aficionado. I'll stop here and comment that, earlier, when Slothrop fell into the water before and after getting on the Anubis, it brought to mind the river Styx in Hades - another underworld. It washes clean one's identity and memory. Makes you forget who you are. And there's traditionally a ferryman, Charon, to help people cross it. Can't help but think that's who saved Thanatz here, carrying him from the land of the dead to the land of the unliving, the preterite detritus of WWII. (An aside: Speaking of Styx, has anyone listened to Mr. Roboto recently? That song has some Gravity's Rainbow vibes.) Our undertaker here is inspired by the Franklin myth and is trying to get struck by lightening in order to experience that "singular point, [that] discontinuity in the curve of life" (664) passing from a rate of change of positive infinity to one of negative infinity in the blink of an eye. Seems there's something of a conspiracy among those who have been through this point of infinite inflection - a secret society of lightening heads who are aware not of another reality but of a new layer of reality laid on top of our own. Insight into a higher level of reality, of hidden systems. We get an example of the content of the lightning-aficionado's publication A Nickel Saved and it's supposedly full of coded messages for Those Who Know, each part being a veiled reference to other topics that contain the true meaning, requiring a true paranoid's ability to see (make?) connections. For example, there are repeated mentions of April, Easter, and Spring - the season of rebirth. To an Amperage Contest and lightbulbs failing - Byron the Bulb's attempts to strike back, perchance? A screen-door salesman - what is a screen door except a permeable interface? But our undertaker isn't interested in secret knowledge - he just wants to be a better businessman - and he deposits Thanatz on the shore and rows back off into the storm. Here, Thanatz meets a group of 175s - men formerly imprisoned in the Dora camp for being gay - who have formed their own solitary community in this isolated section of northern Germany. I suspect some of this imagery may initially shock readers - concentration camp victims who want to return to their prison? Who set up their own 175-Stadt to recreate the conditions of their imprisonment? But think about it - just last section, we saw Katje, someone who's been used and abused by those in power, balk at the thought of being truly free because she had become dependent on systems of control. She had integrated those control systems as part of her identity, her sense of self. "She needs the whip," Blicero wrote of her (662). Just like Katje, these men became so conditioned to depend on a system of total control and rigid social hierarchies that they don't know how to function without it. Their 175-Stadt doesn't seem like such a ridiculously dark, inappropriate caricature now, does it? Because isn't that a central point of this book - that everyone has been conditioned to need control, to need Their System, to not know how to function without it? Slothrop was our perfect everyman from within this system, and look at what it took for him to actually be free (and even then, the ideal of America still has a colonial outpost in his head). But in their 175-Stadt, these men at least control their system of control. They built it, they staff every level of it, and it's entirely under their control. An isolated state, separate from the broader System. But is there a ruler in this system, a king? No, simply the figment of Blicero. His name, his specter, looming over everything. A system of control with no real king? We've seen that before. Not only that, but this micro-society is not based strictly on the SS command from Dora, but what the prisoners inferred about the rocket command structure in the Mittelwerke. So even their "recreation" of their imprisonment is an approximation of a different system. I'd also stop here to comment that, is this imagery really as ridiculous/insane as it first appears? I'd say no, since the queeS&M community absolutely took inspiration from Nazi uniforms as symbols of dominance and control, repurposing it into fetishwear. But then, as in this 175-Stadt, the control is by choice, as is the submission. As we've seen elsewhere in this book (Blicero's Oven-State), turning submission into a fetish can be a form of rebellion, since it subverts Their means of control (fear of pain) and turns it into a source of pleasure. Is it truly control if you're choosing it? Enjoying it? No one said this book asks easy questions of its readers... Thanatz keeps looking for answers, and gets swept up amidst the vast swarms of preterite Displaced Persons being shifted across the zone. What's concerning is that these supposedly-free, albeit displaced, people, are shuffled without purpose across the Zone, with minimal food, water, or medicine, being "herded into wire enclosure[s]" and shipped around in freight cars, "deloused, poked, palpated, named, numbered, consigned, invoiced, misrouted, detained, ignored" (669). It's almost impossible to miss the painful similarity here to the treatment of Jews and other victims of the Holocaust. Only here the mistreatment isn't out of some pathological hatred, simply a system without a place for so many people, and without the committed resources to actually, effectively help them. The thought is unsettling, since we like to imagine that only Naziesque hatred could prompt such brutal mistreatment, not apathy. Finally, he's rescued by the Schwarzkommando thanks to his knowledge of Blicero and the firing of Rocket 00000. Here, we learn a bit more about what happened that day. Looking into Blicero's eyes, he saw windmills reflected, though none were in the area. Another four-way mandala, like we saw last week with Slothrop. Thanatz isn't in great mental shape by this point, and he's beginning to equate Gottfried and Bianca both as his children. Why? Because he felt some sense of responsibility to them? Because he failed them? Either way, the Schwarzkommando learn all they need from him about that fateful noon on the Heath, though we do not. The section ends with a simple touch of hands between Enzian and Christian, a moment of connection, of trust. Section 67 Man, how do I even start summarizing this complete doozy of a section? As Weissenburger writes, "In this episode the narration begins to fragment." (344) Ya don't say... Well, here goes. We being one serious trip of a section with Slothrop, as part of a rather unimpressive team of quasi-superheros (the "Floundering Four") fighting against evil ol' Broderick Slothrop amidst the factory-state (a Metropolis-like iteration of the Rocket-State with movable buildings?!). Broderick, in the role of comic book supervillain, keeps trying to off Slothrop, but our hero has a lucky streak just wide enough to keep him alive. Right off the bat, we see another image of the chessboard - the whole factory-state is laid out in a grid, and it's all A Game of Chess, as der Springer already informed us, and our movements are limited. Crucially, "Your objective is not the King - there is no King - but momentary targets such as the Radiant Hour." (674) How can you win at chess when there's no King? How can the land be restored and the cycle renewed if there's no King to die and be replaced? Slothrop is joined by a truly slipshod lot: Myrtle Miraculous, the only one who seems to have actual powers; Maximilian, a suave Black club manager who can flow with all natural rhythms and thus able to navigate any scenario with ease, and Marcel, a mechanical chess player (an embodiment of the Mechanical Turk, but crucially, one without the hidden human operator. No hidden Grandmaster lurking inside Marcel here - nope, this android's the real deal. This section includes one of my favorite quotes from the book: "Decisions are never really made - at best they manager to emerge, from a chaos of peeves, whims, hallucinations and all-round assholery." (676) I can think of several times where I've been able to relate to that scenario all too well. Their chances for success and failure are equal, but these opposing odds don't cancel each other out - instead, the two opposing forces just create a "loud dissonance". The crew undertake some truly hallucinatory adventures through the Racketen-Stadt which I will not attempt to summarize, as that would be an exercise in futility. But we are treated to flashes of Slothrop, "Broderick and Nalline's shadow-child, their unconfessed, their monster son," (677) getting locked in an icebox, piloting a mobile building through the grid-streets of the factory-state like a giant chess piece. One line really jumps out at me, here, that I think is important: "Their struggle is not the only, or even the ultimate one. Indeed, not only are there many other struggles, but there are also spectators, watching, as spectators will do, hundreds of thousands of them." (679) Makes me think of the "glozing neuters," mentioned earlier - of the masses of people who are just trying to live their lives, neither part of any conspiracy nor actively aware of being subject to one. Must be nice. At the same time, the idea of other, simultaneous struggles, is noteworthy - it brings to mind the concept of intersectionality, and how people realizing their unique, individual struggles share common sources, and common traits, which they can work together to fight. We end this sub-section in an arena for these exact masses, where our heroes are on a stakeout, with Slothrop in full drag waiting in the Transvestites' Toilet for a message. You may be wondering about the multiple instances of cross-dressing, in various iterations, throughout the book. Slothrop in drag and Blicero in a wig and merkin come to mind. One aspect, I'd say, is that it reflects a blending of two (as far as society is generally concerned) binary opposites. A crossing-over, a transgression against the status quo and an option other than 1 or 0. Eliot, in his Notes on The Waste Land, wrote,
"Tiresias, although a mere spectator and not indeed a 'character', is yet the most important personage in the poem, uniting all the rest. Just as the one-eyed merchant, seller of currants, melts into the Phoenician Sailor, and the latter is not wholly distinct from Ferdinand Prince of Naples, so all the women are one woman, and the two sexes meet in Tiresias. What Tiresias sees, in fact, is the substance of the poem." (Emphasis mine).
Cue Crutchfield the Westwardman's world of only one of everything. Likewise, the women in Gravity's Rainbow often blend together, share traits or imagery. So do the men. The joining of the two sexes in Blicero, as well as Slothrop here at the end, is significant. The Low-Frequency Listeners The introduction here of the character of Rohr, the Keeper of the Antenna, specifically as a Jehovah's witness, was odd. It's such a specific subsect of Christianity. Then we see - he heard a man on the radio, dying, asking for a priest. Rohr says, "Should I have got on and told him about priests? Would he've found any comfort in that?" (682). In what? I had to look it up, but when I did, it clicked - Jehovah's witnesses apparently do not have priests, because they are all ordained. There is no separate priest caste in their church, and thus no Preterite/Elect division. In this section, we also learn that the Nuremberg trials are getting underway. Mom Slothrop's Letter to Ambassador Kennedy You start to feel even more sorry for Slothrop as you realize just how terrible his parents apparently were. His mom cares enough to at least write another letter asking Ambassador Kennedy as to what the hell happened to their son, but her letter quickly devolves into drunken ramblings complaining about striking workers and managing to make an innuendo about Jack Kennedy while also dismissing her love of her sons. Oof. Maybe Otto was right with his conspiracy of mothers... On the Phrase "Ass-Backwards" An entertaining linguistic debate between Säure and Slothrop on American idioms, specifically ones involving a reversal, as in the case of "ass-backwards". The section then slips into a story of Säure, in his youth, breaking into the home of a young woman, Minnie, who is unable to hear or pronounce umlauted letters, and thus manages to shout the word "helicopter" rather than "cute robber" well before the vehicle was ever invented. Her cry is heard by none other than a young aerodynamics student. The word is taken as a prophesy and a warning of the helicopter's symbol of the police state, with armed officers hanging out the sides, aiming down at their targets. My Doper's Cadenza It begins with a serenade from Bodine, and then an exploration of the tenement building "Der Platz" that is home to numerous drug addicts, dope peddlers, and general ne'er-do-wells. They are building an anti-police moat around the building, entirely underground so as to avoid detection, saving breaking through the street for the end. Shit 'n' Shinola Another idiomatic diversion for Säure. A beautiful line is tucked away in here - "from outside, the Hall is golden, the white gold precisely of one lily-of-the-valley petal in 4 o'clock sunlight, serene, at the top of an artificially-graded hill." (687) This building, the Schein-Aula (Seeming-Hall), suggests "persistence, through returns of spring, hopes for love, melting snow and ice, academic Sunday tranquillities, smells of grass just crushed or cut or later turning to hay..." (688) Yet again, imagery of spring, of a return to life from the dead season of winter, of the cycle. We return to the Roseland Ballroom, where shit 'n' Shinola do actually come together. "Shit, now, is the color white folks are afraid of. Shit is the presence of death, not some abstract-arty character with a scythe but the stiff and rotting corpse itself inside the whiteman's warm and private own asshole, which is getting pretty intimate. That's what that white toilet's for.... that white porcelain's the very emblem of Odorless and Official Death." (688) Here Pynchon cuts straight to the point - the almost pathological fear of death and its connections to fears of blackness, excrement. Shit, Death, and the Word. Edwin Treacle hit on this back on p. 276 when he tried to show his colleagues at the White Visitation "that their feelings about blackness were tied to feelings about shit, and feelings about shit to feelings about putrefaction and death." The cycle of life is too organic, too messy. Better to replace carbon with silicon, to hide shit with porcelain, to treat people with dark skin as "other" or sub-human to avoid acknowledging that their non-European, communal ways of life were, in fact, totally natural. An Incident in the Transvestites' Toilet Not King Kong, but a small, costumed ape comes up to Slothrop, who's wearing a Fay Wray dress while waiting in the bathroom for a still-unspecified message. We get a Miltonic blank-verse poem (thanks, Weissenburger!) about the movie King Kong, written in the voice of Anne Darrow (Fay Wray's character). It's honestly quite good - I love the line "in your own stone living space" - the internal rhyme there sounds really nice, and I like the riff on living stone / Livingston, both of which have popped up previously. In the poem, Darrow talks about when she was tied up, hung by the natives as an offering to "the night's one Shape to come" (689), echoing both Greta Erdman's scene in Alpdrücken and the Hanged Man card of the Tarot (willing sacrifice, sacrifice that prompts a return, a renewal of the cycle). Darrow says she prayed, "not for Jack," her suave costar, but for her director Carl Denham, "only him, with gun and camera... making the unreal reel / By shooting at it, one way or the other-" (689). Throughout GR, we've seen a film motif, and this really brings it home. The analogy of a gun to a camera, both of which make the unreal real (a camera creates films that interpret real life - the "unreal reel", a gun makes death, which we've blocked away and tried to avoid, real and inescapable). The director is in control of the movie, the actors, the story, of how it works and what is told. Darrow ends by asking Carl to "show me the key light, whisper me a line..." - a key light is used in cinema and photography to not just shed light on the subject, but to do so in a way that provides form and dimension to the subject and the scene. So Darrow is asking for the director to literally give her form and definition, to tell her what to say next. This ape, though, isn't so Romantic as ol' Kong though, and is much more direct. It hands Slothrop an anarchist's bomb straight out of the comics pages, and takes off. Slothrop freezes and is saved by a helpful transvestite who takes the bomb and flushes it down the toilet. But it explodes anyway, sending geysers of water up out of all the toilets. A Voice comes out of he Loudspeaker informing everyone that it was, in fact, a sodium bomb that explodes upon contact with water. Tellls everyone to get the "dangerous maniac" who threw it. That was supposed to be Slothrop, but he was saved by his indecision and the kindness of a stranger, who is now set upon by the other occupants of the toilet. A Moment of Fun with Takeshi and Ichizo, the Komical Kamikazes We now jump to a pair of comically-mismatched Kamikaze pilots stationed on a remote island well away from any conflict. One flies a Zero, the other flies an "Ohka device" which is basically a rocket-bomb with a pilot's seat. They get moonshine from their radarman, Kenosho, who mocks them daily for the lack of opportunities to fly to their deaths and who comes up with haikus that, while in the right format, really miss the heart of what a haiku is supposed to be. Streets Back to Slothrop, now, and a catalogue of the streets he's traveled down and what he's seen. We get a meditation on the absurdity of army chaplains, who worked for the Army and "stood up and talked to the men who were going to die about God, death, nothingness, redemption, salvation." (693) And it does seem a bit absurd when you consider that the Army that employs the chaplains is the same entity sending the men off to die. We see a bus driver (perchance our maniac bus driver from earlier?) driving through town in the night, his passengers looking out the windows, their faces "drowned-man green, insomniac, tobacco-starved, scared, not of tomorrow, not yet, but of this pause in their night-passage, of how easy it will be to lose, and how much it will hurt..." (693) Going back to the Waste Land, the phrase "I do not find / The Hanged Man. Fear death by water." is symbolic of a death without return (drowning) contrasted to the sacrifice/return symbolized by The Hanged Man. These poor passengers, it seems, aren't to expect any return. Slothrop also, at this point, learns of the bombing of Hiroshima from a discarded Army newspaper, the photo of the atomic blast placed in poor taste next to an image of a pin-up girl. The bomb's mushroom cloud is compared to the Cross, to a capital-T Tree. But which tree? Is this a meditation on the deadly, unforgettable knowledge of how to split the atom, or of the tree of life, with the citizens of Hiroshima as a sacrifice made... but to what? I'm honestly not sure. Would love your thoughts. Listening to the Toilet As others have noted, this book in many ways is about the drug counterculture and hippie movement of the 60s/early 70s. This is the most overt in this section, in which we learn that listening for the cessation of the flow of water to the toilet in the pipes is a cue that a police raid is imminent - shutting off the water being a way to prevent the flushing of illicit substances. But it takes a special ear to hear the cessation of a subtle, pervasive white noise. What if the sun, in fact, massive furnace that it is, emits a constant, low-level roar that is so incessant we don't even hear it? What if eddies in the current of the Soniferous Aether cause rare spots of true quiet, where the noise is no longer transmitted and anyone in that spot can hear their own heartbeat it's so quiet? Interestingly, there are "quiet rooms" designed to absorb nearly all sound, used for precise sound calibration. I remember reading that most people can't sit in one of those rooms for more than 30 minutes or so because it's literally so quiet that you can hear the blood flowing through your veins, and people have even reported auditory hallucinations as a result. But why this digression? Maybe because we need to be asking what other white noise is out there that we've become completely deaf to? I think Roger and Jessica found a pocket of this quiet, early in the book, where the "noise" of modern society and all its associated obligations was muted by the War. Witty Repartee A return to our Komical Kamikazes, and a meditation on the ubiquity of the Hotchkiss machine gun across nations, independent of alliances. We get an image of a false King - an inbred idiot lying naked in a dumpster, attracting the attention of potential revolutionaries. But they can't decide if he's "a diversionary nuisance planted here by the Management, or whether he's real Decadent Aristocracy to be held for real ransom" (698). While the would-be revolutionaries are debating in the alley, sentries with the aforementioned Hotchkiss guns take positions on the rooftops, aiming down... Heart-to-Heart, Man-to-Man A dialogue here between Slothrop and ol' Broderick, with dear old dad interrogating his wayward son about a modern electric drug. Slothrop reassures him that he'd never shoot raw electricity - no, they dope themselves with waves. Major pre-Cyberpunk vibes here, with Broderick warning "Suppose someday you just plug in and go away and never come back?" to which Tyrone replies, "What do you think every electrofreak dreams about? .... Maybe there is a Machine to take us away, take us completely, suck us out through the electrodes out of the skull 'n' into the Machine and live there forever.... We can live forever, in a clean, honest, purified Electroworld-" (699). Matrix, anyone? Not to mention the waves of radio, TV, etc. and the simple, episodic, controlled reality they offer. Pleasantville also comes to mind, with all its commentary on the shows of the era. Some Characteristics of Imipolex G We learn that Imipolex G is the first erectile plastic, stiffening in response to certain electronic stimuli. The potential of a layer of controlling wires just under the outer layer of Imipolex, making it a second skin - a synthetic interface. Alternately, there's the potential to control it via a projection of "an electronic 'image; analogous to a motion picture." (700) My gods, I made it through this section... Section 68 Tchitcherine now, dealing with a spook, Nikolai Ripov, from the Commissariat for Intelligence Activities. His pal Džabajev has run off with "two local derelicts" (700) and is impersonating Frank Sinatra and wooing the ladies of the Zone. We get the line, "While nobles are crying in their nights' chains, the squires sing. The terrible politics of the Grail can never touch them. Song is the magic cape." (701) - Seems another example of folks recognizing the game, the Grail quest, for what it was and checking out - deciding not to play and just enjoy themselves while the Elect lose sleep over the endless searching. Ripov explains to Tchitcherine how "the basic problem... has always been getting other people to die for you." (701) Religion used to serve as an effective control for that reason - death isn't quite as scary if you think you're going to heaven. But modern society has moved on, and needs more secular sources of control, like a commitment to "History" as if you're part of some great narrative, sacrificing yourself for some imagined end-goal of what society is "supposed" to be. Seems Tchitcherine was doping on Oneirine theophosphate. Wimpe, his dealer, argues that a man is "only real at the points of decision. The time between doesn't matter." (702) Points man again - the moment of decision, of choice, that splits the future in two. Points of control. Contrast that to:
"Datta: what have we given? / My friend, blood shaking my heart / The awful daring of a moment’s surrender / Which an age of prudence can never retract / By this, and this only, we have existed." (The Waste Land, Part V: What the Thunder Said - emphasis mine).
Both are arguing that it's these key moments, irreversible junctures in our lives that make us real. Not what comes next, not what people say about us, just our moments. Integrate those moments, run them fast enough (say 24 frames per second) and you might even approximate something close to a person... We learn that Oneirine apparently leads to "the dullest hallucinations known to psychopharmacology" (703) - hauntings of the mundane, the almost-normal. Tchitcherine's Haunting Tchitcherine hallucinates that Ripov is interrogating him, and he becomes fixated on the question of whether or not he was supposed to die. Seems like part of him wants to believe in life after death, in some hope for meaning, which goes against the Soviet doctrine and thus isn't exactly endearing him to those above him. Thankfully this is just an Oneirine haunting, except... wait, it's too real - no subtle violations of reality. He tries to escape, but is outnumbered. But no execution for him here - just a reassignment to Central Asia. A cold and operational death. Section 69
"The dearest nation of all is one that will survive no longer than you and I, a common movement at the mercy of death and time: the ad hoc adventure." - Resolutions of the Gross Suckling Conference (706)
In other words, they seek a nation that does not function independently of its citizens - one that is not some separate identity with a quasi-personhood (much like how corporations are legally "people"). Rather, a nation that is inextricably linked to the people and that will die when they do. No immortality, no denial of the cycle or death. But poor Roger's still dealing with Jessica, and now with Jeremy, too, who he's at least amicable with. But he's struggling with their acceptance of the System, their embracing of it. Jeremy's all about reassembling the rockets and firing them, asking "What else does one do with a rocket?" (note how disassembling it or at least not using the weapon isn't even an option...). Jeremy's even so kind as to invite Roger to a fancy dinner with a bunch of corporate bigwigs, including folks from Krupp, ICI, and GE, and hosted by one Stefan Utgarthaloki, whose name should be a giant red-flag that something's amiss with this shindig. Roger picks Seaman Bodine as his date, the two having struck up a rather theatrical friendship, dress in their absurdist best (Bodine in the mother of all zoot suits), and join the party. We get some insight here into the nature of rebellions, and the danger of them not only fizzling out or failing, but of being co-opted as a tool to "help legitimize Them" (713). Of either dying or "living on as Their pet" - it brings to mind the corporate branding of "rebelliousness" as cool, as "a phase" that it's normal to go through and eventually grow up from. Treating the idealism of youth, the desire to make the world better and to fight against the problems of the system before you become numb to them, as a normal phase of life is such an effective way to neutralize it culturally. How many people have heard the phrase "you get conservative [i.e. more resistant to change] as you get older"? How many of us have seen youth-led movements being dismissed as examples of immaturity, for example? Between that and companies stamping their logo on it (hello, Hot Topic), it's a way to change the cultural narrative around any movement against the status quo to one that's dismissive, just accepting enough to let people burn off their energy and eventually fall into line. Because how else can you continue to live a decent life in a society that refuses to change? You either go build a shack in the woods somewhere, die, or acclimate to the system and just focus on being comfortable yourself, not constantly fighting for change. It's a depressing thought, and I'm sure Pynchon saw a lot of that attitude in the 60s. I have to wonder - do non-industrialized societies have "teenage rebellion" as a normal part of life? Is that a part of human nature, like we tend to think, or is it an explicit reaction to reaching maturity in a system that is anti-human and anti-nature? Anyway, back to the dinner party - between the depressing, anti-social music (kazoos?!) and the lavish dinner, things seem fine, but there's a plot against the Roger and Bodine. Fortunately a journalist, Constance, tips off Bodine that they might just be the main course of this feast, so Bodine cues Roger to begin the evening show - an absurd gross-out session that they planned in advance with the aid of now-deceased Pudding communicating via medium Carroll Eventyr. The pair recite an increasingly disgusting list of alliterative dishes, triggering "well-bred gagging" and guests to flee, though a few find it all quite entertaining. But it's enough to break up the dinner party and allow our heroes to flee. Note: If you made it this far, actually read all this,thank you. Bloom warned me this was a longer section, and boy, he wasn't kidding. I think this is longer than some college essays I wrote... Damn fun, though, and I hope you've found my thoughts informative, interesting, useful, or if nothing else, sufficiently diversionary for a spell. I truly look forward to seeing what you other fine foax have to say on these labrynthine sections. Questions
In the lightning-aficionado's "A Nickel Saved" excerpt, are there any other references or hidden ideas you can find? I have to think there are.
What is the meaning of the windmill reflected in Blicero's eyes? How do you interpret the imagery in this scene in general?
175-Stadt. Oven-State. Hund-Stadt. Rocket-State. Factory-State. We've seen numerous examples of specialized micro-states across the Zone, experiments in different forms of society. What are your thoughts on these? Are they hints at ways to find alternate societies, or manifestations of humanity's tendency to divide by category and put of fences?
In the "Shit 'n' Shinola" subsection, Pynchon connects Jack Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Tyrone Slothrop. What do you make of this intersection?
In "Streets," the bombing of Hiroshima is presented as being similar to the Cross, "it is also, perhaps, a Tree..." - the capitalized "Tree" here could be the tree of knowledge, the tree of life, the tree from which the Hanged Man dangles, or perhaps something else. What's your interpretation of this imagery?
In Section 69, we see references to the Albatross, famous symbol from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It's presented that Slothrop is the (now-plucked) albatross, but it's not clear who killed this bird, or who's wearing it around their neck. They? Any ideas?
This post draws on my personal experiences and challenges over the past term at school, which I entered with hardly any knowledge of DSA (data structures and algorithms) and problem-solving strategies. As a self-taught programmer, I was a lot more familiar and comfortable with general programming, such as object-oriented programming, than with the problem-solving skills required in DSA questions. This post reflects my journey throughout the term and the resources I turned to in order to quickly improve for my coding interview. Here're some common questions and answers What's the interview process like at a tech company? Good question. It's actually pretty different from most other companies.
(What It's Like To Interview For A Coding Job
First time interviewing for a tech job? Not sure what to expect? This article is for you.
Here are the usual steps:
First, you’ll do a non-technical phone screen.
Then, you’ll do one or a few technical phone interviews.
Finally, the last step is an onsite interview.
Some companies also throw in a take-home code test—sometimes before the technical phone interviews, sometimes after. Let’s walk through each of these steps.
The non-technical phone screen
This first step is a quick call with a recruiter—usually just 10–20 minutes. It's very casual. Don’t expect technical questions. The recruiter probably won’t be a programmer. The main goal is to gather info about your job search. Stuff like:
Your timeline. Do you need to sign an offer in the next week? Or are you trying to start your new job in three months?
What’s most important to you in your next job. Great team? Flexible hours? Interesting technical challenges? Room to grow into a more senior role?
What stuff you’re most interested in working on. Front end? Back end? Machine learning?
Be honest about all this stuff—that’ll make it easier for the recruiter to get you what you want. One exception to that rule: If the recruiter asks you about your salary expectations on this call, best not to answer. Just say you’d rather talk about compensation after figuring out if you and the company are a good fit. This’ll put you in a better negotiating position later on.
The technical phone interview(s)
The next step is usually one or more hour-long technical phone interviews. Your interviewer will call you on the phone or tell you to join them on Skype or Google Hangouts. Make sure you can take the interview in a quiet place with a great internet connection. Consider grabbing a set of headphones with a good microphone or a bluetooth earpiece. Always test your hardware beforehand! The interviewer will want to watch you code in real time. Usually that means using a web-based code editor like Coderpad or collabedit. Run some practice problems in these tools ahead of time, to get used to them. Some companies will just ask you to share your screen through Google Hangouts or Skype. Turn off notifications on your computer before you get started—especially if you’re sharing your screen! Technical phone interviews usually have three parts:
Beginning chitchat (5–10 minutes)
Technical challenges (30–50 minutes)
Your turn to ask questions (5–10 minutes)
The beginning chitchat is half just to help your relax, and half actually part of the interview. The interviewer might ask some open-ended questions like:
Tell me about yourself.
Tell me about something you’ve built that you’re particularly proud of.
I see this project listed on your resume—tell me more about that.
You should be able to talk at length about the major projects listed on your resume. What went well? What didn’t? How would you do things differently now? Then come the technical challenges—the real meet of the interview. You’ll spend most of the interview on this. You might get one long question, or several shorter ones. What kind of questions can you expect? It depends. Startups tend to ask questions aimed towards building or debugging code. (“Write a function that takes two rectangles and figures out if they overlap.”). They’ll care more about progress than perfection. Larger companies will want to test your general know-how of data structures and algorithms (“Write a function that checks if a binary tree is ‘balanced’ in O(n)O(n) ↴ time.”). They’ll care more about how you solve and optimize a problem. With these types of questions, the most important thing is to be communicating with your interviewer throughout. You'll want to "think out loud" as you work through the problem. For more info, check out our more detailed step-by-step tips for coding interviews. If the role requires specific languages or frameworks, some companies will ask trivia-like questions (“In Python, what’s the ‘global interpreter lock’?”). After the technical questions, your interviewer will open the floor for you to askthemquestions. Take some time before the interview to comb through the company’s website. Think of a few specific questions about the company or the role. This can really make you stand out. When you’re done, they should give you a timeframe on when you’ll hear about next steps. If all went well, you’ll either get asked to do another phone interview, or you’ll be invited to their offices for an onsite.
The onsite interview
An onsite interview happens in person, at the company’s office. If you’re not local, it’s common for companies to pay for a flight and hotel room for you. The onsite usually consists of 2–6 individual, one-on-one technical interviews (usually in a small conference room). Each interview will be about an hour and have the same basic form as a phone screen—technical questions, bookended by some chitchat at the beginning and a chance for you to ask questions at the end. The major difference between onsite technical interviews and phone interviews though: you’ll be coding on a whiteboard. This is awkward at first. No autocomplete, no debugging tools, no delete button…ugh. The good news is, after some practice you get used to it. Before your onsite, practice writing code on a whiteboard (in a pinch, a pencil and paper are fine). Some tips:
Start in the top-most left corner of the whiteboard. This gives you the most room. You’ll need more space than you think.
Leave a blank line between each line as you write your code. Makes it much easier to add things in later.
Take an extra second to decide on your variable names. Don’t rush this part. It might seem like a waste of time, but using more descriptive variable names ultimately saves you time because it makes you less likely to get confused as you write the rest of your code.
If a technical phone interview is a sprint, an onsite is a marathon. The day can get really long. Best to keep it open—don’t make other plans for the afternoon or evening. When things go well, you’ wrap-up by chatting with the CEO or some other director. This is half an interview, half the company trying to impress you. They may invite you to get drinks with the team after hours. All told, a long day of onsite interviews could look something like this:
10am-12pm: two back-to-back technical interviews, each about an hour.
12pm-1pm: one or several engineers will take you to lunch, perhaps in the company’s fancy office cafeteria.
1pm-4pm: three back-to-back technical interviews, each about an hour.
4pm-5pm: interview with the CEO or some sort of director.
Code tests aren’t ubiquitous, but they seem to be gaining in popularity. They’re far more common at startups, or places where your ability to deliver right away is more important than your ability to grow. You’ll receive a description of an app or service, a rough time constraint for writing your code, and a deadline for when to turn it in. The deadline is usually negotiable. Here's an example problem: Write a basic “To-Do” app. Unit test the core functionality. As a bonus, add a “reminders” feature. Try to spend no more than 8 hours on it, and send in what you have by Friday with a small write-up. Take a crack at the “bonus” features if they include any. At the very least, write up how you would implement it. If they’re hiring for people with knowledge of a particular framework, they might tell you what tech to use. Otherwise, it’ll be up to you. Use what you’re most comfortable with. You want this code to show you at your best. Some places will offer to pay you for your time. It's rare, but some places will even invite you to work with them in their office for a few days, as a "trial.") Do I need to know this "big O" stuff? Big O notation is the language we use for talking about the efficiency of data structures and algorithms. Will it come up in your interviews? Well, it depends. There are different types of interviews. There’s the classic algorithmic coding interview, sometimes called the “Google-style whiteboard interview.” It’s focused on data structures and algorithms (queues and stacks, binary search, etc). That’s what our full course prepares you for. It's how the big players interview. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, LinkedIn, etc. For startups and smaller shops, it’s a mixed bag. Most will ask at least a few algorithmic questions. But they might also include some role-specific stuff, like Java questions or SQL questions for a backend web engineer. They’ll be especially interested in your ability to ship code without much direction. You might end up doing a code test or pair-programming exercise instead of a whiteboarding session. To make sure you study for the right stuff, you should ask your recruiter what to expect. Send an email with a question like, “Is this interview going to cover data structures and algorithms? Or will it be more focused around coding in X language.” They’ll be happy to tell you. If you've never learned about data structures and algorithms, or you're feeling a little rusty, check out our Intuitive Guide to Data Structures and Algorithms. Which programming language should I use? Companies usually let you choose, in which case you should use your most comfortable language. If you know a bunch of languages, prefer one that lets you express more with fewer characters and fewer lines of code, like Python or Ruby. It keeps your whiteboard cleaner. Try to stick with the same language for the whole interview, but sometimes you might want to switch languages for a question. E.g., processing a file line by line will be far easier in Python than in C++. Sometimes, though, your interviewer will do this thing where they have a pet question that’s, for example, C-specific. If you list C on your resume, they’ll ask it. So keep that in mind! If you’re not confident with a language, make that clear on your resume. Put your less-strong languages under a header like ‘Working Knowledge.’ What should I wear? A good rule of thumb is to dress a tiny step above what people normally wear to the office. For most west coast tech companies, the standard digs are just jeans and a t-shirt. Ask your recruiter what the office is like if you’re worried about being too casual. Should I send a thank-you note? Thank-you notes are nice, but they aren’t really expected. Be casual if you send one. No need for a hand-calligraphed note on fancy stationery. Opt for a short email to your recruiter or the hiring manager. Thank them for helping you through the process, and ask them to relay your thanks to your interviewers. 1) Coding Interview Tips How to get better at technical interviews without practicing Chitchat like a pro. Before diving into code, most interviewers like to chitchat about your background. They're looking for:
Metacognition about coding. Do you think about how to code well?
Ownership/leadership. Do you see your work through to completion? Do you fix things that aren't quite right, even if you don't have to?
Communication. Would chatting with you about a technical problem be useful or painful?
You should have at least one:
example of an interesting technical problem you solved
example of an interpersonal conflict you overcame
example of leadership or ownership
story about what you should have done differently in a past project
piece of trivia about your favorite language, and something you do and don't like about said language
question about the company's product/business
question about the company's engineering strategy (testing, Scrum, etc)
Nerd out about stuff. Show you're proud of what you've done, you're amped about what they're doing, and you have opinions about languages and workflows. Communicate. Once you get into the coding questions, communication is key. A candidate who needed some help along the way but communicated clearly can be even better than a candidate who breezed through the question. Understand what kind of problem it is. There are two types of problems:
Coding. The interviewer wants to see you write clean, efficient code for a problem.
"I have to at least look at all of the items, so I can't do better than O(n)O(n)."
"The brute force approach is to test all possibilities, which is O(n^2)O(n2)."
"The answer will contain n^2n2 items, so I must at least spend that amount of time."
Get your thoughts down. It's easy to trip over yourself. Focus on getting your thoughts down first and worry about the details at the end. Call a helper function and keep moving. If you can't immediately think of how to implement some part of your algorithm, big or small, just skip over it. Write a call to a reasonably-named helper function, say "this will do X" and keep going. If the helper function is trivial, you might even get away with never implementing it. Don't worry about syntax. Just breeze through it. Revert to English if you have to. Just say you'll get back to it. Leave yourself plenty of room. You may need to add code or notes in between lines later. Start at the top of the board and leave a blank line between each line. Save off-by-one checking for the end. Don't worry about whether your for loop should have "<<" or "<=<=." Write a checkmark to remind yourself to check it at the end. Just get the general algorithm down. Use descriptive variable names. This will take time, but it will prevent you from losing track of what your code is doing. Use names_to_phone_numbers instead of nums. Imply the type in the name. Functions returning booleans should start with "is_*". Vars that hold a list should end with "s." Choose standards that make sense to you and stick with them. Clean up when you're done. Walk through your solution by hand, out loud, with an example input. Actually write down what values the variables hold as the program is running—you don't win any brownie points for doing it in your head. This'll help you find bugs and clear up confusion your interviewer might have about what you're doing. Look for off-by-one errors. Should your for loop use a "<=<=" instead of a "<<"? Test edge cases. These might include empty sets, single-item sets, or negative numbers. Bonus: mention unit tests! Don't be boring. Some interviewers won't care about these cleanup steps. If you're unsure, say something like, "Then I'd usually check the code against some edge cases—should we do that next?" Practice. In the end, there's no substitute for running practice questions. Actually write code with pen and paper. Be honest with yourself. It'll probably feel awkward at first. Good. You want to get over that awkwardness now so you're not fumbling when it's time for the real interview. 2) Tricks For Getting Unstuck During a Coding Interview Getting stuck during a coding interview is rough. If you weren’t in an interview, you might take a break or ask Google for help. But the clock is ticking, and you don’t have Google. You just have an empty whiteboard, a smelly marker, and an interviewer who’s looking at you expectantly. And all you can think about is how stuck you are. You need a lifeline for these moments—like a little box that says “In Case of Emergency, Break Glass.” Inside that glass box? A list of tricks for getting unstuck. Here’s that list of tricks. When you’re stuck on getting started 1) Write a sample input on the whiteboard and turn it into the correct output "by hand." Notice the process you use. Look for patterns, and think about how to implement your process in code. Trying to reverse a string? Write “hello” on the board. Reverse it “by hand”—draw arrows from each character’s current position to its desired position. Notice the pattern: it looks like we’re swapping pairs of characters, starting from the outside and moving in. Now we’re halfway to an algorithm. 2) Solve a simpler version of the problem. Remove or simplify one of the requirements of the problem. Once you have a solution, see if you can adapt that approach for the original question. Trying to find the k-largest element in a set? Walk through finding the largest element, then the second largest, then the third largest. Generalizing from there to find the k-largest isn’t so bad. 3) Start with an inefficient solution. Even if it feels stupidly inefficient, it’s often helpful to start with something that’ll return the right answer. From there, you just have to optimize your solution. Explain to your interviewer that this is only your first idea, and that you suspect there are faster solutions. Suppose you were given two lists of sorted numbers and asked to find the median of both lists combined. It’s messy, but you could simply:
Concatenate the arrays together into a new array.
Sort the new array.
Return the value at the middle index.
Notice that you could’ve also arrived at this algorithm by using trick (2): Solve a simpler version of the problem. “How would I find the median of one sorted list of numbers? Just grab the item at the middle index. Now, can I adapt that approach for getting the median of two sorted lists?” When you’re stuck on finding optimizations 1) Look for repeat work. If your current solution goes through the same data multiple times, you’re doing unnecessary repeat work. See if you can save time by looking through the data just once. Say that inside one of your loops, there’s a brute-force operation to find an element in an array. You’re repeatedly looking through items that you don’t have to. Instead, you could convert the array to a lookup table to dramatically improve your runtime. 2) Look for hints in the specifics of the problem. Is the input array sorted? Is the binary tree balanced? Details like this can carry huge hints about the solution. If it didn’t matter, your interviewer wouldn’t have brought it up. It’s a strong sign that the best solution to the problem exploits it. Suppose you’re asked to find the first occurrence of a number in a sorted array. The fact that the array is sorted is a strong hint—take advantage of that fact by using a binary search. Sometimes interviewers leave the question deliberately vague because they want you to ask questions to unearth these important tidbits of context. So ask some questions at the beginning of the problem. 3) Throw somedata structuresat the problem. Can you save time by using the fast lookups of a hash table? Can you express the relationships between data points as a graph? Look at the requirements of the problem and ask yourself if there’s a data structure that has those properties. 4) Establish bounds on space and runtime. Think out loud about the parameters of the problem. Try to get a sense for how fast your algorithm could possibly be:
“I have to at least look at all the items, so I can’t do better than O(n)O(n) ↴ time”.
“The brute force approach is to test all possibilities, which is O(n^2)O(n2) time. So the question is whether or not I can beat that time.”
“The answer will contain n^2n2 items, so I must at least spend that amount of time.”
When All Else Fails 1) Make it clear where you are. State what you know, what you’re trying to do, and highlight the gap between the two. The clearer you are in expressing exactly where you’re stuck, the easier it is for your interviewer to help you. 2) Pay attention to your interviewer. If she asks a question about something you just said, there’s probably a hint buried in there. Don’t worry about losing your train of thought—drop what you’re doing and dig into her question. Relax. You’resupposedto get stuck. Interviewers choose hard problems on purpose. They want to see how you poke at a problem you don’t immediately know how to solve. Seriously. If you don’t get stuck and just breeze through the problem, your interviewer’s evaluation might just say “Didn’t get a good read on candidate’s problem-solving process—maybe she’d already seen this interview question before?” On the other hand, if you do get stuck, use one of these tricks to get unstuck, and communicate clearly with your interviewer throughout...that’s how you get an evaluation like, “Great problem-solving skills. Hire.” 3) Fixing Impostor Syndrome in Coding Interviews “It's a fluke that I got this job interview...” “I studied for weeks, but I’m still not prepared...” “I’m not actually good at this. They’re going to see right through me...” If any of these thoughts resonate with you, you're not alone. They are so common they have a name: impostor syndrome. It’s that feeling like you’re on the verge of being exposed for what you really are—an impostor. A fraud. Impostor syndrome is like kryptonite to coding interviews. It makes you give up and go silent. You might stop asking clarifying questions because you’re afraid they’ll sound too basic. Or you might neglect to think out loud at the whiteboard, fearing you’ll say something wrong and sound incompetent. You know you should speak up, but the fear of looking like an impostor makes that really, really hard. Here’s the good news: you’renotan impostor. You just feel like an impostor because of some common cognitive biases about learning and knowledge. Once you understand these cognitive biases—where they come from and how they work—you can slowly fix them. You can quiet your worries about being an impostor and keep those negative thoughts from affecting your interviews.
Everything you could know
Here’s how impostor syndrome works. Software engineering is a massive field. There’s a huge universe of things you could know. Huge. In comparison to the vast world of things you could know, the stuff you actually know is just a tiny sliver: That’s the first problem. It feels like you don’t really know that much, because you only know a tiny sliver of all the stuff there is to know.
The expanding universe
It gets worse: counterintuitively, as you learn more, your sliver of knowledge feels like it'sshrinking. That's because you brush up against more and more things you don’t know yet. Whole disciplines like machine learning, theory of computation, and embedded systems. Things you can't just pick up in an afternoon. Heavy bodies of knowledge that take months to understand. So the universe of things you could know seems to keep expanding faster and faster—much faster than your tiny sliver of knowledge is growing. It feels like you'll never be able to keep up.
What everyone else knows
Here's another common cognitive bias: we assume that because something is easy for us, it must be easy for everyone else. So when we look at our own skills, we assume they're not unique. But when we look at other people's skills, we notice the skills they have that we don't have. The result? We think everyone’s knowledge is a superset of our own: This makes us feel like everyone else is ahead of us. Like we're always a step behind. But the truth is more like this: There's a whole area of stuff you know that neither Aysha nor Bruno knows. An area you're probably blind to, because you're so focused on the stuff you don't know. We’ve all had flashes of realizing this. For me, it was seeing the back end code wizard on my team—the one that always made me feel like an impostor—spend an hour trying to center an image on a webpage.
It's a problem of focus
Focusing on what you don't know causes you to underestimate what you do know. And that's what causes impostor syndrome. By looking at the vast (and expanding) universe of things you could know, you feel like you hardly know anything. And by looking at what Aysha and Bruno know that you don't know, you feel like you're a step behind. And interviews make you really focus on what you don't know. You focus on what could go wrong. The knowledge gaps your interviewers might find. The questions you might not know how to answer. But remember: Just because Aysha and Bruno know some things you don't know, doesn't mean you don't also know things Aysha and Bruno don't know. And more importantly, everyone's body of knowledge is just a teeny-tiny sliver of everything they could learn. We all have gaps in our knowledge. We all have interview questions we won't be able to answer. You're not a step behind. You just have a lot of stuff you don't know yet. Just like everyone else. 4) The 24 Hours Before Your Interview
Feeling anxious? That’s normal. Your body is telling you you’re about to do something that matters.
The twenty-four hours before your onsite are about finding ways to maximize your performance. Ideally, you wanna be having one of those days, where elegant code flows effortlessly from your fingertips, and bugs dare not speak your name for fear you'll squash them. You need to get your mind and body in The Zone™ before you interview, and we've got some simple suggestions to help. 5) Why You're Hitting Dead Ends In Whiteboard Interviews
The coding interview is like a maze
Listening vs. holding your train of thought
Finally! After a while of shooting in the dark and frantically fiddling with sample inputs on the whiteboard, you've came up with an algorithm for solving the coding question your interviewer gave you. Whew. Such a relief to have a clear path forward. To not be flailing anymore. Now you're cruising, getting ready to code up your solution. When suddenly, your interviewer throws you a curve ball. "What if we thought of the problem this way?" You feel a tension we've all felt during the coding interview: "Try to listen to what they're saying...but don't lose your train of thought...ugh, I can't do both!" This is a make-or-break moment in the coding interview. And so many people get it wrong. Most candidates end up only half understanding what their interviewer is saying. Because they're only half listening. Because they're desperately clinging to their train of thought. And it's easy to see why. For many of us, completely losing track of what we're doing is one of our biggest coding interview fears. So we devote half of our mental energy to clinging to our train of thought. To understand why that's so wrong, we need to understand the difference between what we see during the coding interview and what our interviewer sees.
The programming interview maze
Working on a coding interview question is like walking through a giant maze. You don't know anything about the shape of the maze until you start wandering around it. You might know vaguely where the solution is, but you don't know how to get there. As you wander through the maze, you might find a promising path (an approach, a way to break down the problem). You might follow that path for a bit. Suddenly, your interviewer suggests a different path: But from what you can see so far of the maze, your approach has already gotten you halfway there! Losing your place on your current path would mean a huge step backwards. Or so it seems. That's why people hold onto their train of thought instead of listening to their interviewer. Because from what they can see, it looks like they're getting somewhere! But here's the thing: your interviewer knows the whole maze. They've asked this question 100 times. I'm not exaggerating: if you interview candidates for a year, you can easily end up asking the same question over 100 times. So if your interviewer is suggesting a certain path, you can bet it leads to an answer. And your seemingly great path? There's probably a dead end just ahead that you haven't seen yet: Or it could just be a much longer route to a solution than you think it is. That actually happens pretty often—there's an answer there, but it's more complicated than you think.
Hitting a dead end is okay. Failing to listen is not.
Your interviewer probably won't fault you for going down the wrong path at first. They've seen really smart engineers do the same thing. They understand it's because you only have a partial view of the maze. They might have let you go down the wrong path for a bit to see if you could keep your thinking organized without help. But now they want to rush you through the part where you discover the dead end and double back. Not because they don't believe you can manage it yourself. But because they want to make sure you have enough time to finish the question. But here's something they will fault you for: failing to listen to them. Nobody wants to work with an engineer who doesn't listen. So when you find yourself in that crucial coding interview moment, when you're torn between holding your train of thought and considering the idea your interviewer is suggesting...remember this: Listening to your interviewer is themostimportant thing. Take what they're saying and run with it. Think of the next steps that follow from what they're saying. Even if it means completely leaving behind the path you were on. Trust the route your interviewer is pointing you down. Because they can see the whole maze. 6)How To Get The Most Out Of Your Coding Interview Practice Sessions When you start practicing for coding interviews, there’s a lot to cover. You’ll naturally wanna brush up on technical questions. But how you practice those questions will make a big difference in how well you’re prepared. Here’re a few tips to make sure you get the most out of your practice sessions. Track your weak spots One of the hardest parts of practicing is knowing what to practice. Tracking what you struggle with helps answer that question. So grab a fresh notebook. After each question, look back and ask yourself, “What did I get wrong about this problem at first?” Take the time to write down one or two things you got stuck on, and what helped you figure them out. Compare these notes to our tips for getting unstuck. After each full practice session, read through your entire running list. Read it at the beginning of each practice session too. This’ll add a nice layer of rigor to your practice, so you’re really internalizing the lessons you’re learning. Use an actual whiteboard Coding on a whiteboard is awkward at first. You have to write out every single character, and you can’t easily insert or delete blocks of code. Use your practice sessions to iron out that awkwardness. Run a few problems on a piece of paper or, if you can, a real whiteboard. A few helpful tips for handwriting code:
Start in the top-left corner. You want all the room you can get.
Leave blank space between each line of code. This makes it much easier to add things later.
Slow down. Take an extra second to think of descriptive variable names. You might be tempted to move faster by using short variable names, but that actually ends up costing more time. It’ll make your code harder to debug!
Set a timer Get a feel for the time pressure of an actual interview. You should be able to finish a problem in 30–45 minutes, including debugging your code at the end. If you’re just starting out and the timer adds too much stress, put this technique on the shelf. Add it in later as you start to get more comfortable with solving problems. Think out loud Like writing code on a whiteboard, this is an acquired skill. It feels awkward at first. But your interviewer will expect you to think out loud during the interview, so you gotta power through that awkwardness. A good trick to get used to talking out loud: Grab a buddy. Another engineer would be great, but you can also do this with a non-technical friend. Have your buddy sit in while you talk through a problem. Better yet—try loading up one of our questions on an iPad and giving that to your buddy to use as a script! Set aside a specific time of day to practice. Give yourself an hour each day to practice. Commit to practicing around the same time, like after you eat dinner. This helps you form a stickier habit of practicing. Prefer small, daily doses of practice to doing big cram sessions every once in a while. Distributing your practice sessions helps you learn more with less time and effort in the long run. part -2 will be upcoming in another post !
Off Base Once in awhile, when the stars align, you are allowed off base in AIT. Since I was a barracks rat, this prohibition on fun didn’t really affect me all too much. Fort Gordon, for those of you blessed enough not to know the area, really offers only three venues for soldiers – the mall, the tattoo shop, and the bar. There are eateries on base - a Waffle House, Popeye’s and a Taco Bell, but they usually involves people who outrank you. I am an E1, everyone outranks me, no thanks. The mall is where you go to see Privates in the wild. If you’re ever around an AIT base, you’ll know it in a heartbeat. Go to a mall on a Friday around 6.30 and sit down in the food court. About five minutes in, you’ll see what you swear is a community college brochure come to life. You’ll get a black guy in a Bulls jersey joking with a white guy in cowboy boots, with an Asian guy in a button-up right behind. There are no “work-friends” anymore. Training is temporary, and time out is oh-so limited, so friends are your fellow soldiers, period. One thing the commercials get right is the diversity in the Army. One way diversity shows up is how everyone dresses. Everyone’s got their own style, and when you’re “back on the block” you usually hang out with people with the same clothing style. Thing about the Army is, you have no idea what people wear other than the uniform. I honestly forgot jeans were a thing until after Basic. As such, you make friends without knowledge of their style - almost like we’re human beings. Normally, if you approach me in a Tap Out shirt, cargo shorts, a backwards hat, flip flops and some sort of ill-fitting costume jewelry, I might avoid you. I’m sorry. Likewise, if you are just vehemently anti-flannel, we might have to be in different social circles – it is what it is. No love lost. So, the Augusta Mall, about ten minutes by taxi out of the gate, was where these packs of wild enlisted would roam - always in threes. Now, this mall had the typical amenities - a Gamestop, clothes and sporting goods stores, a food court and around seven Lids stores. Seven. One style I inexplicably picked up in the South was wearing those flat-billed hats - truly one of my biggest regrets in life. To be fair, I shaved my head every two weeks, so stupid hats made me look a bit less like a skinhead. The real problem arose when I maintained this haircut after getting home, because I’m a cheap bastard. It wasn’t until a woman pulled her child out of an aisle I was shopping in I that I connected the dots - shaved head, blue eyes, leather jacket, motorcycle hel- … ohhhhhhh shit. Nobody ever told me either, they had me looking like the Nazi Youth for a solid year. Anyway, that’s the mall. However, the Augusta Mall, like all shopping centers around military bases - cater to stupid eighteen year olds with lots of cash. Now, everyone loves payday. For most of the world, it’s the time you can pay off enough of the bills to keep the lights on and buy yourself a celebratory Happy Meal. For soldiers, all Hell breaks loose. Now, we’ve established my conservative tendencies, but most of the armed forces does not agree with my frugality. We live on the “edge,” and most motherfuckers spend their paychecks on weekends and lady friends – I can’t blame them, honestly - nothing beats some good ol’ fashioned,booze-fueled, consensual sex. I understand it now, I didn’t then. Now, as an E1, you're looking at maybe $600 a paycheck on the first and fifteenth. This is big money for a guy whose only previous job experience involved directing parking every summer at county fairs. One thing about my upbringing, is that I’ve never been “rich.” Of course, I always had food to eat, and a roof over my head, but that’s because my parents worked multiple jobs, and undeniably busted ass for us kids to get where we got. Being raised in this environment though, meant that you’d grow up to be frugal motherfucker – which I am to this day. I spent about 15 dollars a week during training, and came home with 10 g’s. Some guys were broke by day three. Why? Because we’re fucking kids, that’s why. I had a roomie buy a 600 dollar knife, multiple times. Privates were buying cars, and jewelry, and whatever the fuck else teenagers buy. Meanwhile, I was shaving my head every two weeks to save the seven dollars from the barber. My biggest purchase? Skyrim, the day it came out, and I was entirely too stressed over the purchase … with thousands in the bank. There’s a reason you find a lot of homeless vets - there’s not a ton of fiscal training, and the only repercussion for spending all your cash in Active Duty is not being able to go out anymore - rent and food is paid for. Anyways, at least partly responsible for this financial shitbaggery are the predatory merchants everywhere around bases. The worst are car dealerships - offering you automatic loans solely for being in the military. The problem that many of my fellow soldiers discovered is that while twenty bucks a month for an iPad may seem like a good idea, the final price was somewhere around 2500 bucks - the Mustang everyone somehow buys winds up being in the 60’s. Plus, attractive chicks aggressively try to sell you jewelry “for your girl back home.” Even outside of the PX, there’s a couple guys trying to sell you a fucking claymore sword with your “family crest” on it for about a thousand dollars. A claymore, for those of you who haven’t seen Braveheart, is a 5-6’ two-handed sword. Where they thought we’d be stashing these massive melee weapons I don’t know. One kid actually bought one, and when he tried to bring it up into the barracks, he was sent directly to the post office to send it home. If they don’t let us keep Swiss Army knives in our rooms, I don’t know how he thought they’d let this William Wallace monstrosity through the doors. Whatever, this was shopping, one of the three venues. The next hotspot was the tattoo parlor - there are more tattoo shops around an Army base than Starbucks in Orange County. Trust me on this. There’s a few ways to tell someone’s in the military when they’re outside of uniform. If they are really playing up the “Army” aspect at a bar, you’ll probably catch some dog tags around their neck – you’ve found yourself a Private. Just as obvious, for males, is the haircut. Again, if they seem to be surrounded by people with similar haircuts, but in vastly different clothing styles, you might have a winner. If you’re in California and hear a country drawl, there you go. When that fails, check for that tattoo. Tattooing is almost synonymous with enlisted soldiers. It’s a rite of passage. Having one bad tattoo, bringing home a “4,” waking up hungover and missing pants – everyone’s got a story. I, of course, wanted to be no different. As soon as you graduate Basic, you have a honeymoon period with the Army. You’re a “real soldier” now, part of the team – completely unjaded. 18 year olds also find themselves with some real dough for the first time in a while. What does unbridled patriotism, a heightened sense of toughness and a couple thousand dollars equal? A tattoo. A terrible, terrible tattoo. For a lot of reasons, the Army is like high school. The jocks (infantry) look down on the junior varsity (other combat arms) who finally look at everyone else like they’re the founding members of the Scrabble Club. As the founding member of my high school’s Scrabble club, it was offensive, but entirely deserved. Another high school attitude in the military is that being too “in to” something is lame. Unlike that kid who only watched anime and ran through the halls with his wheelie backpack, you gotta blend in. The problem is, is that tattoos are supposedly a permanent art form. The thing is, when you were drunk on “hooah,” all these privates went out and got the American flags, the Iwo Jima picture, maybe an eagle. Now, there are tons of excellently done patriotic tattoos. However, some are essentially the “tribal tattoos” of the Army. “One shot, one kill” for example. You’ve got “Death before Dishonor.” One poor kid got the whole soldier’s creed on his ribs. But none hold a battery-operated church candle to one proud private. Down his arm, from shoulder to elbow was “Hooah!” in Army script. I’m sure he regrets that now. Be smart about your ink everybody. So, about four or five times over the months of AIT I’d go with a buddy while they got tattoos. Of course, I was pretty uncomfortable in the tattoo parlor we frequented - the dude at the front literally had flames tatt’d from his eyebrows to the back of his head, with spacers in his nose. You weren’t finding the social upper crust in downtown Augusta, that’s for sure. Anyways, some guys get tattoos as often as people go to the movies - with the same amount of forethought. “Wanna see a movie?” “Yeah!” “Wanna get tatted?” “Sure!” So I had my sleeve-length tattoos all drawn out - yeah, sleeves. Plus I had all the upper arm and chest tatts I drew on myself once in Sharpie - It took a week to wash off, and I had to be careful no one saw me in the shower, because that’s how you get nicknames. At the end of the day, I ended up bitching out, which I’m glad I did, or else I’d be explaining a few lewd tattoos to a grandkid a few years down the line. The third venue that we trainees frequented was the bars. I never went - I hadn’t so much as sipped a beer until my first time home on leave. However, it was always evident who went out during the recall formation. Every weekend night, there would be an accountability formation held at 11 PM, and you had to have your ass back there. Warning - here comes a rant. We weren’t allowed weekend passes like other companies, couldn’t buy a vehicle like other companies, and couldn’t live off post like other companies - despite these privileges being authorized by the Post Commander. Now, I have yet to be disparaging about any officers, because that’s not how I do things. Thing is though, in training companies, officers are attached there temporarily - so they don’t really give a shit about their soldiers since they are already on their way out the door. The problem with this is that officers will arbitrarily restrict soldiers’ activities in order to make themselves look good. It was constantly brought up that our company had no drug, alcohol or violence issues in something like 500 days - a battalion record for which the CO, not the soldiers, got the recognition. While the CO got another bullet point on the performance review, all 300 soldiers slowly went stir-crazy at our confinement. My battle buddies from other companies were having hotel parties,or driving home for the weekend. while we stood in the cold for role to be called. Rant over, but it was some real horseshit. To all future leaders, look out for your soldiers, and your soldiers will look out for you. We’re not stupid, we know when you’re playing games. Anyways, because soldiers drink like … soldiers, half the company was blitzed out of their minds at recall. I normally had no issue with this - do what you do. The issue came about when drunk people, as drunk people do, decided to run their mouths at inopportune times. Before you were allowed to head inside the barracks, an alphabetical roster had to be read through and then your ID had to be checked at the door. The poor bastards at the end of the roster knew their time wasn’t coming for a while, and so would chatter and yell through the whole thing. Some duty sergeants - pissed that they didn’t get to be buzzed on a fine Friday evening, would stop role entirely until the commotion died down - it didn’t. They’d yell “Abner” or “Alvarez” and the peanut gallery would scream “AWOL!” or “He’s dead!”and laugh and laugh. By the third or fourth name, the especially ornery NCO’s would put everyone in the front-leaning rest until it was over. All in all, weekend bed check normally took an hour at the earliest, up to two at the worst. So, I’m “M,” middle of the pack regardless. I’d go inside, brush my teeth, and watch a little TV in my room, then rack out. The inebriated folks would run through the hallway screaming, or kicking in doors, or lighting shit on fire until the duty NCO came upstairs, yelled, and sent everyone to bed. This was life for nine months. My weekends usually went a bit differently than the drinkers. Now, I’ve since had my “drink, get into shenanigans and generally live an entirely unsustainable lifestyle” phase. Hell, I lived in a frat house. I’m 23, and if I make it to 30, it is a gift from God. Anyways, my AIT Fridays, in contrast, were some depressing shit. There’s no food allowed in the barracks – none. Seriously, Sergeants would open ceiling tiles and flip lockers to find some Poptarts (Hint - hide them under layers of civilian clothes or in ziploc bags in the latrine ceiling.) Fortunately, about a hundred yards away from our barracks was the “IET” Initial Entry … something, essentially a rec room with a pool table, a couple tv’s, a coffee shop and a mini Domino’s Pizza inside. I was a regular, because NCO’s weren’t allowed in - not that they’d want to be in there anyway. I had a very rigid weekend schedule. Fridays, we got off at five, so I went to chow with buddies, returned to watch How I Met Your Mother until 8, then off to the IET to buy cheesy bread and a Sprite. Return by nine, watch a movie until recall, then sleep. Everyone else got their drink on while I patiently waited for Ted and Robin to hook up. I finished that show four times - this was before the horseshit final season. It was one of the only shows on my hard drive. Saturday and Sunday I’d form up at nine, and get that beautiful breakfast chow, Now, it’s a proven fact that breakfast food is the best food. If Ron Swanson says it, you live it. Breakfast is the best part of the Army - by far. Maybe it’s just so we don’t have even more reason to kill ourselves, but, again, Army food isn’t bad. Seriously. So, every day we’re not in the field you get some powdered eggs, some bacon or sausage, and biscuits or something - they even had some fancy parfaits if you were feeling especially dainty. Bomb-dig spread there, Army. Plus, I’d fill a couple cups with ice, then throw the coffee on, mix in some chocolate milk - boom. You’d think I was Bobby Flay for thinking of making iced coffee. There was no rational reason for missing breakfast chow. Plus, you knew that PT is over for the day, and that makes the occasional pancake so much better. After lunch, it was either the mall or the px, be back by dinner, watch a movie, then get to recall. I was a real party fucking animal. This would go on for months. Nine sad, long, unchanging months. I stopped going on Facebook because people back home having fun made me sad. Not quite sad enough to kill myself though, that would be another guy. The Classroom When we weren’t busy raking lines in dirt, eating breakfast, or killing ourselves, we went to class. This was the entire point of being at Gordon - learning our specific job. Really it’s where we spent months in a windowless room with computers, only to venture outside to step inside bigger computers with satellite dishes. Before you ask, there was no internet on the computers, and we could not have our phones on us from 7 AM until 5 PM. For the thousands of hours I spent in Sierra training, I have almost nothing funny to contribute - it was by far the most brain-numbingly boring activity I think one can complete. They spent a week teaching us binary, for really no fucking reason. It took me about a month of class before I asked when we’d learn about the drones my recruiter had promised me, and the instructors laughed their asses off. It was then that reality sank in - I was in for a rough year. My job, as a 25Sierra, is essentially being the Army’s wifi - I turn on my equipment, hit a few buttons, and blam, I’m done. Really, the training could have been thoroughly completed in two weeks. The shit we were trained on - for months - isn’t even in use anymore. I got to my unit after training and they said they hadn’t used the equipment I’d been trained on for over a decade. Half our training was on “satellite theory” - as if we fucking needed to know about geosynchronous orbits and signal polarity to make the antenna autotrack. I got so bored I created a lavish beach scene out of router connections and modems on the training module - I spent three whole days on it - until I was discovered and smoked accordingly. They were even less impressed when I made the giant robot attacking it the next day. I’m hoping it’s still lurking in some database somewhere in the schoolhouse - I put a lot of work into it. I think the most important lesson learned in the schoolhouse was the danger of wearing civilian clothes, as an instructor, to the schoolhouse. We had one instructor, who thought he was the House, MD of satellite communications. He was always yelling, and tried his damndest to ensure that we, the peasants, feared him. He was moderately successful with his ruse until he showed up on his day off, and we lost all respect for this dude. There he stood, with some Beatles glasses, a billowing Red Wings jersey, baggy cargo pants, and TOE SHOES. Yeah, those goofy fucking toe shoes! Man, it was tough to listen to the guy after that. Note to all you future leaders out there - stay in uniform. I'm not sure how it worked in other training schools, but in AIT, when we got to class, we had to form up and sing the "Army Song," “The Signal Corps March,” and recite the "Soldier's Creed." Every day. This daily routine is performed by a soldier pulled - at random - from the formation. Now, this was before my vocal smart-ass phase, so I was not on the leadership’s radar. (Instructors at the schoolhouse are different from those who are responsible for you at the barracks. Think of your grumpy landlord versus an equally alcoholic professor.) So, since I was Non-Descript White Private #6, I blended in. I hadn't said a word to any of the instructors outside my classroom, so they didn't know how my voice sounded. This went on until the last fucking day, seriously the last fucking day of class. Out of the blue, I get called up to sing it out. However, the end was in sight - I could see the light. So, I thought, fuck it. Now, due to my complete lack of athletic ability, general intelligence, or prowess with the ladies, I've had to develop a special set of skills. While rescuing chicks on boats and karate-chopping Albanians would be my number one choice, I had to settle for the fact that I can make a lot of different "voices" - my favorite being a pretty good imitation of the old-school Batman narrator. So I take my place at the head of the formation, and I belt out the "Soldier's Creed" in the voice, straight-faced. The soldiers in formation started laughing, but the leadership didn't really respond - maybe this kid is just fucking retarded. I get through all the songs n' such, and it comes time to march us in for another riveting day of bullshit. When you march in a formation ("File from the left, column left!") the first soldier in each line yells something to their line (either "stand fast" or "forward") What these cheeky bastards did was copy my voice as best they could. Not cool guys. And at that moment of realization, the head instructor sprinted over, nose to my cheek, and screamed "What the FUCK do you think you're doing, Private?!" Well, for one, he was the guy walking and talking on his phone in front of everyone’s formation during the Creed. One, walking and talking on a phone isn’t allowed - and this is the fucker that would yell about regulations and stray boot laces. Two, it’s definitely disrespectful to mosey around in front of any formation, anywhere, and it was just the tip of of this guy’s sheer patronizing asshaterry iceberg. I was having none of it. So, with a rogue wave of self-righteous indignation, I screamed back - "I’m using my COMMAND VOICE, Sergeant!" So, he lost his fucking mind, sending everyone scurrying into the building, while screaming at me. He attempted to give me an “Article 15” (an Army punishment that can strip pay and rank - a big deal.) Luckily, my First Sergeant was having none of it and it didn't go through (since apparently Schoolhouse Sergeant didn’t have the authority give me one.) He asked me to demonstrate the voice, which I did, and he thought it was hilarious. Top, if you’re out there reading, thanks for looking out. I’m actually scared to mention you by name, but I hope you’ll find out somehow. Anyway I was now authorized to use my narrator voice when the new Privates were getting in trouble. "Loook ouuuut Privates! Platoon Sergeant's coming! “Meeeaaanwhile, in the hallway!" Plus, the next time we saw Instructor Asshat on a company run, our 1SG made him do push-ups while we jogged in place. A little extreme, but hey, Army is Army. Sometimes I get in trouble even when I don’t open my mouth. Like I said, the Army is super uptight with all the PC stuff. The problem is, is that most current leadership is from the “old Army,” where every non-alcoholic is a “faggot,” and a woman’s worth is based solely on the shapeliness of her ass. So, to compensate, some of the old timers have swung hard to the opposite side of the spectrum. Only some though, the rest go even harder to compensate. Another fun Army rule, is that you can never have your hands in your pockets. Need to grab your keys? Your hand better hurry the fuck up. No dilly-dallying in there either. Is that a limp wrist? Police yourself, Soldier. Anyways, so without pockets, you really do have a limited option for idle hand placement. Usually, you default to “at-ease,” but once in awhile you switch it up. My personal favorite is the “John Wayne.” The JW involves you hooking your thumbs through the belt above your pelvis – it’s comfy and natural, whatever. This pose was completely unacceptable to one random sergeant, as I was once “verbally counseled” for sexual misconduct. The reason? “I was bringing attention to my genitals.” I think the real problem was that a certain staff sergeant’s genitals weren’t getting any attention. Another constant in the Army is good ol’ AR 670-1. This Army regulation dictates all appearances you as a soldier are authorized to have. On and off duty. This includes haircuts, length of fingernails, and the acceptable state of repair of one’s blue jeans (seriously.) Some make sense - dudes can never have earings, you dirty hippies. Some make less sense - no super cool mohawks allowed. Some make no sense - you can not have any object on your dog tag chain unless it is religious. This is a problem, because we need to have our locker keys on us at all times, including in our decidedly haphazardly pocketed PT shorts. Now, the drill sergeants in Basic, being the pragmatic DGAF individuals that they are, instructed us to attach our keys to our dog tags. But oh no, in AIT we had to abide by garrison rules - which means no keys allowed. However, leading a successful insurrection, I drew a cross on my key, thus making it the sigil o’ Christianity. The instructors were less than impressed with my manipulation of the system. This is about the extent of my raging against the machine, but it was a sweet campaign that the bards will sing of for centuries. Slumber Parties with Spiderman Very, very few times in life, being inept can work out in your favor. I cannot make a bed to military standards. I can’t fucking do it. Really, I’m sorry. In Basic, I slept underneath my bed as much as possible. It got to the point in AIT, that I had my room flipped so often for having incorrect hospital corners, they got tired of trashing it, and authorized my ass to get civilian sheets. Now, choosing your own sheets in the real world might not seem like a big thing, but when you’ve been forced to sleep on top of an itchy, wool blanket from World War 2 for 25 weeks, your own comforter is a great thing. Being the immature assholes we are, soldiers never get your typical, adult sheets. Oh, no, we were men in twin sized beds that would never be seen by a woman. So, we got ridiculous. We had guys with Dora the Explorer, Transformers, and Thomas the Tank Engine – I decided on Spider Man. Yes, I would return from a full day and collapse on my crisp, blue, Spiderman sheets. It was truly a great time to be alive. We did have a particular NCO who had one strict rule when it came to our rooms - only one. Because of the longevity of our training, soldiers were able to get to know their NCO’s real well – almost developing a clearly hierarchical, but still sometimes amiable, verbally abusive step-parent relationship. Now, I sure as shit did not, which is for damn sure. They didn’t learn my name in 9 months, and I’m totally cool with that. Sure, a couple knew my face, but also thought my name was “Private.” It worked just fine for me. One of the things about working alongside these fine non-commissioned officers, is you realize that they too, are almost humans. One’s from Texas, one enjoys LARPing, one is a female – real deep shit. One such quirk we realized is that a certain SSG Bueller HATED Pokémon. Absolutely hated anything pocket monster related. Any such contraband would be tossed out of a window. Why? Well, dear reader, poor SSG Bueller had spent 18 months in Iraq in the most hipster way possible – he got there before it was cool. This meant that there were no significant bases, no infrastructure, no massive tents to go watch Shania Twain on her golden guitar. No, this meant, the only thing you could entertain yourself with when not getting shot at was whatever you carried with you. For some soldiers, they carried sketchpads, journals, or letters from back home – real Band of Brothers-type shit. But SSG B was having none of that. Oh no, SSG B had a motherfucking Game Boy, with motherfucking Pokémon Gold. The problem was … that was all he had. I don’t know how to tell you guys this, but a handheld game meant for twelve year olds can be completed pretty succinctly in twenty or so hours – more if you were that one asshole who actually tried to catch them all. Thing is, poor B had this game – and only this game – for a year and a half. Yeah, 500’ish days of a game meant for Japanese schoolchildren. Needless to say, when he got back home, SSG hated anything and everything Pokémon. This was in fact, his only rule implemented, and I quote, “No Pokémon shit.” That’s it. Of course, as the giggling manchildren we were, we thought this request was hilarious. We didn’t take into account that maybe a grizzled veteran wouldn’t like to be reminded of one of his many tours every fucking day while sloughing through another equally-as-shitty Georgia day. No, we wanted to be cute. And so we did - Pokemon sheets, Pokemon dolls, people would even mail him Pokemon dolls after they’d left and we’d laugh and laugh while he died a little bit inside every time. Sorry, SSG B. Hope you catch ‘em all someday. Newbies I have a particularly long MOS, so I was in AIT for around eight, nine months. The thing with training companies, is that there's an influx of new soldiers as soon as an old class graduates. Of course, as soon as I get to the party, it's decided to funnel all the newbies to other companies. This means that there becomes slowly less and less soldiers in my company. This sucks. Why? Well, reader, there's a thing in the Army called "fire guard." This is usually a two, four, or six hour shift of you wrestling errant flames. (Not really, you sit at a desk, and try not to sleep.) The problem is, is that this duty is bequeathed by alphabetical roster. Month by month it got smaller and smaller - by the end, we went from 300 soldiers to 50, split between the day, night, and swing shift. This meant guard duty every night, and cleaning the barracks was a bitch and a half. Luckily, two days before my class shipped home, we got fresh meat. You forget how lost in the sauce you are getting to AIT fresh out of Basic. Where you had every second of every day planned, there was now a bit of leeway. So, like the good soldiers we were, we fucked with them. Another bullshit fact in training is the "bed check." This entails grown-ass men waiting outside their doors at 9PM in order to ask permission to go to sleep. If the duty sergeant starts at the other end of the building, you're fucked. However, the new bloods don't know this - they just see "Bed check 2100 (9pm) for all new soldiers." At 8.55, all of us older cats start freaking out around the privates. "Guys! What the fuck are you doing?! It's almost bed check! You better get down there ASAP!" They freak out and start hauling for the duty desk until we stop them. "C'mon guys, it's bed check! You have to get your mattress cleared your first night in the barracks. Hurry!" So these poor kids all grab their mattresses and one of them even managed to get it out a door by the time sergeant got upstairs. "What the fu- what is this happy horse shit!? Who the fuck are you?! He pops his head in the room to see the new guys confusedly grasping at their twin-sizes “Wait, there's more?! Goddammit!" Anyway, these guys spilled in right before we left on our final AIT FTX. This FTX was to be a five day long FOB (Forward Operating Base) scenario - like” little Iraq.” For the first time, we were mixed with soldiers who weren’t satellite peeps. I thought we were idiots, but apparently, we’re the fucking cream of the crop in the commo community. Some of the people assigned with us were Limas - the guys who essentially just plug shit in. They were at Gordon all of six weeks, and were bitching about how long they were there. These guys were the GED fuckers I thought I’d left behind in Basic. Now, I mean no offense to the Limas of the world, as it isn’t a fair representation of all y’all, but the kids we were stuck with were some real goobers. Anyway, the cadre at the FOB took their job entirely too seriously - trying to be drill sergeants when they weren’t. I guess it made sense for the guys who have only been out of Basic for a month, but for those of us who’d been at Gordon a while, we were thoroughly unimpressed. They screamed and yelled and dumped our shit on the ground, and divided us all into different musty tents. The week comprised of marching around, playing Army, and getting “bombed” every couple hours. Being bombed meant that a siren would play in the middle of the camp, flashbangs would get thrown, and we’d all hustle out to squeeze into some bunkers - simple enough. At night, because some people decided to change clothes for some reason, the only required equipment was your helmet, body armor, and weapon - too easy. Because I am a dirty nasty, I didn’t change for the entirety of the op, because it usually paid off. There were no ladies to impress, so who cared that I smelled like a JV locker room. One night, a buddy and I were coming off guard duty at 2 in the morning, after an exciting “attack” (us two gate guards shooting blanks at bored instructors being “OpFor.”) We hadn’t been fake bombed all night, so I knew for a fact that we were going to be hit soon. I walked into the tent, stripped off my armor, helmet, and blouse (for a pillow) and laid there. My buddy laughed at me for never taking off my boots. Five minutes later, we get “hit.” This was towards the end of the exercise, so they threw tons of shit at us. Explosions and sirens everywhere. I laughed the whole way to the shoddy pallet stack that was our “bunker.” Within two minutes, the rest of the twelve man tent has slid in, in various forms of dress, but with the three required pieces. At least, we thought we had everyone. Private fucking Snarf, a Lima who would lose Trivial Pursuit against a bag of potatoes, was nowhere to be found. An instructor stuck his head in - “You guys up?” (meaning “is everyone accounted for, and uninjured.”) We just stared at him until somebody nodded. He left to check on everyone else. At this point, everyone around the FOB is done hustling and bustling, the siren has stopped, and Snarf still didn’t show up. Then, in the distance, we hear … slapping? But it was getting closer to us. Closer. ...Closer. The dude closest to the bunker entrance stuck his head out, and just whispered “Oh, Goddamnit.” In slides Snarf, wearing just PT shorts, a helmet, and ... flip flops. Nothing else. “Did I miss it?” Ten minutes after the “raid,” the entirety of our bunker stood at attention while Snarf did some push-ups. Whatever, it didn’t matter, because graduation was a couple days away. There was, however, a bullshit scavenger hunt type check list before you were allowed to leave Gordon - including another CIF turn in and even making sure you didn’t have any outstanding fines at the library. Ha - library. I had been in maybe twice, and only then because it was the only spot with wifi. You’d think the Army’s communications headquarters would have some wifi, but you’d be wrong. Our company had three computers with internet in the day room, for three hundred of us. Yeah, welcome to the Army, asshole. Graduation AIT graduation is a lot less pomp and circumstance, and more just an annoyance to everyone. No one really gives a shit, but this is the Army, damnit, so we’re gonna play some brass instruments and put on fancy clothes. The fancy clothes, or dress blue’s, had to have our new ranks sewn on, be pressed and perfect to the centimeter - there were inspections. About two months before, a large group of us E-1s were promoted to E2. Does this change anything? Not really - you are still called “private” and are treated no differently than you were before. However, in AIT, it was a big fucking deal. The rank structure in initial training is so fucked. PFC’s actually commanded respect, and junior privates had to listen. Specialists were just untouchable. In reality, being E1-E4 doesn’t change jack shit - everyone’s mopping the same bathrooms together. This being the case, getting promoted was just the tits. Now, we, as E2’s, got to look down on the peasants that were the E1’s - I think it’s literally the least amount of power that can go to one’s head. We’d call them “fuzzies.” Because E1 has no official rank designator, the velcro patch on their chest would be left blank, or fuzzy. It’s jarring to see one now, It’s been a solid year since I saw a buck private. Anyways, we got the stupid “mosquito wings” sewed on our blue’s for graduation. The ceremony itself was pretty straight forward - you walk across the stage into a spotlight, say your name, MOS, and where you’re headed (I was tempted to say “Fort Couch,” but I didn’t want to push my luck.) Of course, for the slower soldiers, this became a herculean task. Three things guys, three. Plus people got confused on exactly where to stand, so bewildered NCO’s literally ran masking tape arrows across the stage. We had to practice five times. Anyway, so the day before shipping out of Gordon, we had the graduation. There was really only twenty family members who showed up - half of us were flying home the next day anyways. I’m not going to lie, I was excited to march over to the graduation venue that morning. We passed by the chow hall, in our blues, which told all the other companies waiting for grits that we were done. Fuck y’all, we’re out (except for the one poor bastard who got stationed right back in Fort Gordon.) So, we have the ceremony - and yes, people still fucked it up. Afterwards we headed back to the barracks and some people went out to go party for the last time. I did not, because tomorrow was the flight home. So, of course, I spent the night packing, right? Wrong. We had an exit locker inspection to keep us from maybe having a smooth exit the next day. Ship day was nuts. Breakfast, and then we lucky reservists had a brief with the National Guard liaison on what to expect back home, and who to report to as soon as we got there. Blurbity blah blah. The Active Duty members of our class had an additional two weeks of instruction ahead of them. We were not subtle with our smugness. Our Gordon departure times were kept a secret until we got back to the barracks - where we discovered that nine of us had to be on the road in twenty minutes. We had 1200 seconds to pack everything we owned, throw away the rest, and say goodbye to the people we’ve spent 80 hours a week with for almost a year. The bitch of the bunch is you are only authorized two army green duffels for travel - one of which is completely filled with your uniforms, boots, and the like, the second which is also about half full of armyness. Most my clothes, a couple boots, my beloved Spiderman blankets, and a sweet lcd monitor I found in the hallway all got the boot. I gave the monitor to some new Privates, which now that I think about it, is the opposite of hazing. Anyway, the good part is that there wasn’t any time to say a long, awkward goodbye to anyone. Just a quick handshake and a nod with about ten people, then we piled into the van. On the final check-out, my platoon sergeant didn’t even know who I was, despite me seeing him every morning for forever. Whatever, I really didn’t give a shit about him, just my buddies - it was a bittersweet morning. I’ve only seen three guys since - one in Kansas, and two in California, out of the 300 I started with. CONTINUED IN PART SIX
Miranda Lawson: The Slave Goddess of Raduza The Supreme Hutt Lord
Prologue In the year 2148, explorers on Mars discovered the remains of an ancient spacefaring civilization. In the decades that followed, these mysterious artifacts revealed startling new technologies, enabling travel to the furthest stars. The basis for this incredible technology was a force that controlled the very fabric of space and time. They called it the greatest discovery in human history. The civilizations of the galaxy call it... Mass Effect. By activating installations called mass relays, starships could bypass the natural speed limit of the speed of light. However, once opened, these gateways can not be closed by any means known to man. Because of this, newly discovered relays are considered extremely dangerous as no one knows who or what could be on the other side... The Door Miranda sauntered slowly down the aisle of ship operators as the her Cerberus cruiser drifted near the dark mass relay. As she passed by, she could feel the gaze of male and female comptrollers alike, reflected in their displays. It was a tedious and thankless job, made only slightly more bearable by the eye candy that was Miranda Lawson. Genetically engineered to be perfect, her body was as much a testament to her genes as it was to a strict regimen of daily physical training. Her formfitting jumpsuit affirmed that the goods themselves would be better than advertised. Her slim and toned waste and abs lay beneath supple breasts that bounced ever so slightly with a delicious ripeness. Her incredible legs were crowned with buttocks so perfect, that the crew consider her "Ass Effect" to be to be a greater act of engineering than the Mass Effect fields. However, the softness of her curves belied a hardness of will. Miranda was as unrelenting as she was beautiful. Her zeal for her work, and the intensity of her expectations forced everyone around her to be on edge. And she liked it that way. No one in recent memory could remember a friendly word spoken to her or from her. She was all business all the time. So solid was her wall of professionalism, that there were rumors that she was still a virgin, as no man was brave enough to touch her (though many imagined it in their bunks at night). In a way it was these assets that made her such a perfect fit for Cerberus, a radical pro-human organization. In the decades since the Mass Effect discovery, humans had come into contact with countless alien species, the militaristic turians, the cunning salarians, and the fearsome krogans to name a few. But it was the seductive Asari that really concerned Cerberus. An all female race consisting of nothing but gorgeous women, ready to unzip their space suits and drop their panties for anything at all, whether it had a cock or a slit. To Cerberus, this presented an incredible threat to humanity, as the children of these unions were all Asari. Using their wiles, looks, constant horniness, and endurance for endless sex, the Asari held the potential to breed humanity into extinction. For Cerberus and its leader the Illusive Man, Miranda was humanity's answer. A human sex goddess that that could raise every human penis in the room at just a hint of cleavage or a glimpse of a thigh. She was prefect for leading human teams into alien space with out fear of them being distracted by blue bimbos hungry for human man meat. And as this mission was taking place deep in Asari space, it was a worthwhile precaution. The Illusive Man had a tip that a dark Mass Relay was somewhere in the area. Lost in a supernova, the unopened gate had been dubbed the Tau-Tau-9 Relay. Even more interesting, the tipster had provided an ancient Asari artifact suggesting that there was an enemy on the other side, one that had tried to enslave the Asari thousands of earth years in the past. How the Asari had trapped this enemy behind the gate was unknown, and their continued existence was doubtful. Regardless, the illusive man wanted a covert research team to open the relay and scour the destination system for weapons from the enemy that might be used against the lovely alien race. All they had to do was open the door. Miranda stopped at the forward viewing window. Cocking her hips, she extended her hand and created a small biotic pulse. At other strategic points over the ship a score of biotic were summoning similar space distortions. The comptrollers behind her stared openly now - and almost of third of them (mostly women) weren't even looking at her derrière, but instead were marveling at the warp of energy swirling around her hand. Working in tandem, she and the other biotics used a combination of singularities, warps, and element zero to ignite the relay. Her crew was only slightly surprised at the ease with which the process was done, with Miranda, even the most complicated of projects was reduced to child's play. In a rare moment of boasting, one helmswoman swore that Lawson had claimed that given enough time and resources she could even bring a man back from the dead. Breathing slightly harder with exertion, Miranda turned and faced her crew. The rise and fall of her bosom caused twenty three unseen pillars to raise in her honor, and seven sets of Sirta's Secret panties to become damp. Though the effort showed in the bobbing of her breasts, it could not be heard in her voice. "Prepare the ship. We proceed immediately. Activate stealth mode." In minutes the Cerberus cruiser was gone, already lightyears away, blasting Miranda and her crew towards the unknown. The Cerberus commander felt the slightest thrill at this adventure. For the first time in weeks she allowed herself a moment to enjoy the feeling, and smiled with inner pleasure. She would succeed on this mission, and save humanity from the sluts that threatened their survival. The Past and Tau-Tau-9 The ship stopped with jolt in front of a large brown planet. On first glance it seemed to be a dead world. Vast deserts spanned its ocean-less surface. Country sized sand-hurricanes ripped across the wastes, and an absence of artificial satellites or space stations made it seem unlikely that this would be the home of a spacefaring species. However, after scanning the binary star system for other planets and finding nothing, the crew reexamined the planet and discovered that this was indeed a world that supported life. Though barren around the equator, lights could be seen at the poles. Ordering the crew to land at the southern pole, Miranda went to the ship's docking bay to stock up on Warp Ammunition. Along the way she peeked in at the port storage hold, pushing a lever to open a thin window. The illuminated curvaceous forms of ten Asari hung suspended in glass stasis pods. The ruins of the eleventh and twelfth pods lay at the far left side of the room from Miranda's perspective. The sight of the pods always sparked a memory in Miranda and she frowned as she craned her neck to see further into the room. The Illusive Man had wanted the expedition to be "prepared" with proof to provide to the enemies of the Asari of their common goals. He had not been forthcoming about exactly what sort of creatures these "enemies" of the Asari were, though Miranda suspected he knew more than he was telling. It was almost a given with the Illusive Man. Before embarking, Miranda and her team raided the transport vessel of an Asari Consort, capturing the beautiful Asari Matron and eleven of her acolytes to serve as the necessary proof, and killing the remaining crew. After inspecting the captured Asari personally, the Illusive Man entrusted Miranda with a datapad to be delivered directly to the hands of one of the leaders of this mysterious race, and wished her luck. Things should have been simple after that. Of course they weren't. Apparently an Asari princess had survived the initial Cerberus raid on the Consort's ship and had stowed away on board the cruiser. Daughter of an incredibly important Matriarch and a powerful biotic, they had found her with stolen Cerberus weapons, attempting to open the stasis pods. In the resulting gun battle, three of her agents had died, and two stasis pods had been damaged, rendering the Asari inside permanently frozen. Making matters worse, a clerical error in the logs had mislabelled all of the Asari as being Consorts, meaning that there was a chance that the real Consort may have been one of the two they lost. Miranda had not been pleased. For hours afterward, she tortured the Asari princess with her biotics, leaving her chained to strut, a trembling mess of blue flesh clothed in tattered battle armor. During the torture she had learned everything about the princess, and informed her that she would be the first piece to be given to the ancient force. "Liaraaa..." Miranda called out, her husky Australian voice taking on a sing-song cadence. "We're almost there." A rattle of chains told her that her prisoner, Liara T'soni was sitting against the wall, hidden from Miranda's view. "Don't worry, love. You'll be out of here soon, and on to finer things as our new friends plumb you for information. We may be down one Asari now, but your pedigree still sweetens the pot I must--!" The ship was rocked by a sudden force. Alarms began to sound over the ship and a tinny voice came over the ship's intercom. "Paging agent Lawson! Agent Lawson to the bridge!" "Shit..." Miranda muttered under her breath. "What on earth? I'll be back for you later you little bitch." She ran all the way to bridge, causing men she passed to gape openly as the false gravity did magnificent things to her breasts with each stride. Always thinking with their cocks... She growled internally. She burst through the door to the bridge and bellowed, "What is going on here? We've got stealth protocols in place! Get those alarms offline!" "Ma'am," a smartly dressed, former alliance marine saluted her, his eyes barely dropping to her breasts for an instant before returning to just over her shoulder, in the middle distance. "I believe it is too late for that." He gestured out the front window. Two massive, clunky-looking starships had extended rust covered grappler arms to completely envelop her cruiser. "They hailed us with audio only feeds. We haven't been able to recognize their language, but we have our linguists working on breaking it down." Miranda scowled. So much for making an entrance from a position of power. "Any chance we could break free?" The ex-Marine grimaced. "Not without sustaining major hull damage, and possibly cutting the ship in half. Those are some heavy duty grapplers." He punched a few buttons at his console. "It looks like they're taking us down." Biting her lip she ran through options in her head. The opportunity to stealthily observe and learn the language and culture had been shot. The opportunity to make a grand appearance to the highest leader of the planet was gone. She only had a few cards left... "I want the Asari captives out of stasis, and in biotic dampening chains. That goes double for the T'soni slut. Prepare an advance group. We're going to present a noble landing party for our hosts, and try to stumble our way back onto the proper foot. You," she pointed at a burly, thuggish woman. "See that Liara is outfitted in one of their more whorish costumes. And feel free to subtract what you need for it to be truly shameful. Since we can't understand them yet we've got to send a message that we are dominant over the blue-bimbos so we can enter into negotiations." With that she turned on her heel and walked directly to the armory. The Enemy of My Enemy is My... The ships docked roughly in an unkempt hangar attached to a massive stone palace. Miranda, decked out in formfitting battle armor had assembled a squad of thirty of her best shots into a tight formation around the Asari. She herself, led the way, and as soon as the final links were in place, she signaled to open the blast door. Row upon row of pig-like humanoids stood to greet them, hefty battle axes held tightly in well muscled arms. Apart from a few grunts and snuffles none of them moved. Miranda stepped forward. "My name is Miranda Lawson. I represent humanity and the great operation known as Cerberus. We come in peace, bearing gifts for your leaders. Who is in command here?" For a few moments no one moved. Then an incredibly deep booming voice carried out from a loudspeaker. "GIMBE WAN SLEE OH NIGH. COM WEKEE OHMESA." From the back of the crowd came the soft patter of unsteady footsteps. A wobbly looking robot appeared through the ranks, stopping near the front of the line of pig-men. "Be welcome visitors. It has been many years since our last contact with the rest of the galaxy. Please come with me. My master would like to speak with you." At these words the pigmen parted, creating a corridor up to the stone palace. Miranda nodded, then gestured at the army surrounding them. "First please, tell us, what is this mighty race you serve? Galactic records have forgotten this people." The robot shook its head. "These are the Gamoreans. However, they are not the race that I serve, they are just one of several cadet races that serve my master." "And what people does your master belong to?" "The mighty Hutt clan." At this Liara T'soni let out a gasp of horror, and began to struggle feebly against her bonds. Miranda nodded to one of her men, and he promptly struck the young Asari with the butt of his rifle. The group walked up the steps and through an enormously thick metal gate and into the damp and dimly lit place. Gamoreans stood at attention everywhere, eying the small band of humans with dim wariness. Miranda could tell from her dealings with the Vorcha and Krogans that this was an alien culture brought up for violence and physical strength, valuing little of intelligence. Could this be the result of taking a race that was diverse galacticly and forcing it to life on one planet for generations? Could they be stunted evolutionarily because of it? Could she use this in some way? Would this Hutt be equally stupid? For some reason that would be a disappointment to Miranda, she had been hoping for a race of cunning strategists that could tip the advantage to the humans. But at least they seem to command a formidable military race that Cerberus could put to use, a little non-human muscle to sacrifice for the goals of humanity would still be an asset in the scheme of things. At last they came to a wider audience chamber and were hit by a terrible odor. Sitting high on a pillar eating what appeared to be frogs out of an aquarium, sat the source of the stench. It was a sluglike creature with a torso barely resembling the most morbidly obese human imaginable. Its head was massive, and its eyes were a wicked orange, and slitted like a cats. These eyes widened on the group and stayed fixed on them, never wavering as the beast continued to eat. The robot wobbled its way over beside be beast and bowed, awkwardly, beginning to babble softly to it in that strange language. Well it looks like that's our new ally... Thought Miranda. Certainly doesn't look very mighty to me... After listening to the droid drone on for a few seconds, the Hutt roared and smacked the robot across the chest causing it to stumble. It then gestured at the Cerberus agents and Asari captives and boomed out a command. The robot turned to the group. "My master wishes your leader to step forward and tell him the reason for your appearance. Where have you come from? What news do you bring from the galaxy?" Taking a deep breath, and trying to ignore the stench, Miranda stepped forward. As she did so she felt the Hutt's eyes focus on her and his pupils dilated, taking in her every movement. She steeled herself as she saw the creature lick its lips, wondering in some remote part of her mind which appetite her appearance was wetting. "My name is Miranda. I represent the humans of earth. We have heard stories about how your people were trapped behind this Mass Relays by the Asari generations ago. Our people, too, are threatened by the Asari whores. They seek to dilute our population, snaring humans with their wiles to use as breeding stock. And yet they feared you. They feared the might of the Hutt clan so much that they locked you away. It is time that we unite together to cast off the chains of your imprisonment, and beat back these Asari aggressors! Here I have a message from our leader, the nameless Illusive Man." At this she took out the datapad and using her omnitool, began to load the message. After a moment of buffering, a flickering image of the Illusive Man appeared before the crowd. As he began to speak, Miranda was not surprised to learn that he knew more than he had told. "Greetings, mighty Hutt. I am known as the Illusive Man. My agents have contacted you with a message of peace and a promise of conquest. Contained within this datapad are records that should have you up to strategic intelligence levels on the rest of the galaxy. My associates will help you access this information and help you decide how best to mark your reemergence onto the galactic battlefield. I have also included a gift. Eleven Asari concubines, and a fully established Asari consort to serve in your harems as you see fit. Please enjoy these gifts. I look forward to working with you soon." As the hologram flicker out, and the robot finished its translation, the Hutt laughed and licked its grotesque lips, booming out a reply. "My master is please to learn of the Asari's continued survival." The droid relayed. "The bloodlines of the enslaved ones we were able to take into captivity have degraded severely." The Hutt jerked on a chain in his hands, and a beautiful blue woman with long tentacles growing out of her head emerged from the shadows next to the throne. The chain connected to a thick collar around her neck, the only ornament on her otherwise nude body. Slime caked her turquoise skin, hinting at the horrors this poor woman had endured. The robot continued, "We've even stopped calling these partial bloods Asari, and have come up with a new species name for them - Twi'Lek. Their biotic powers are nearly nonexistent but..." The droid faltered before continuing. "Their prowess at tending to Hutt... scepters... has only improved. My master looks forward to breaking in each of these concubines, and assures his new friends in Cerberus that they will bear him many Hutt children." Miranda was stunned. "Wait... How is that possible? Asari only give birth to other Asari..." The Hutt laughed again, leering a Miranda with obvious lust. The droid began to explain, "Think of it this way, the Asari are universal receivers. Anything can mate with them, and they will give birth to more of themselves - occasionally birthing Ardat-Yakshi. Hutts are basically the opposite. They are like universal donors. They can impregnate a female version of anything, with the mates primarily giving birth to more Hutts, but about 1/10th of the time either breeding a hybrid or a full version of whatever they were mating with. That is why the Asari feared them so - their entire population was ripe for the breeding by the Hutts. For some reason they did not find this agreeable..." The Twi'lek began whimpering as her hideous master threw a pudgy hand around her back, pulling her close and fondling her breasts. His eyes only flickered from Miranda to the horrified group of Asari and back to Miranda. Her heart beating faster at this statement, Miranda decided it was time to make her exit. "I am glad to know that their bodies will be put to good use. Now, it has been a long journey and I have much to discuss with the Illusive Man regarding this meeting. My men should have finished setting up communication--" The Hutt boomed an interruption, absently squeezing the breasts of the Twi'lek woman, causing her to squeal and he bellowed a reply punctuated with greasy lip licking. The droid translated, "My master says that that is unlikely. Communication to space from the planet-side is extremely difficult.. The intense magnetic field surrounding this planet blocks off nearly all forms of communication... Only the Master's personal antennae is powerful enough." Feeling the need to leave, Miranda began to channel her internal ice queen. "Excellent. I shall compose the message on my ship and shall send it to you shortly to relay on to the Cerberus station. I will send you the proper channels." With that she turned on her heel and began walking towards the door. She could feel the eyes of the Hutt following her every step and fought to keep herself from quickening her pace. The Hutt began to speak again. As he did two of the pig-like Gamoreans flanked her. "Your leader mentioned a gift of twelve Asari concubines... I count only eleven. In order for a deal to be struck I require you to join these sluts as a member of my harem." At this Miranda stopped. Goosebumps rising on her latex enclosed legs. From the crowd of Asari, she saw the eyes of Liara light up in a sort of sadistic pleasure. Taking a deep breath, she turned and faced the Hutt. "My lord, I am a Cerberus battle commander, and representative of the Illusive Man. Surely we can find another..." The hutt merely glared at her and licked his lips, one hand decending to grope the crotch of the Twi'lek slave as the other continued to mash her breasts. Miranda swallowed. "These terms are not acceptable to us. I will speak with the Illusive man and we will--" The Hutt began to murmur, and the droid spoke, "My master has declared that you will join his harem, bargain or not. Furthermore your fire has sparked a great desire within him. He will enjoy your body this very night. Be honored, for you will be the first of your species be graced with our Master's seed, and if you're lucky, perhaps you will even bear him children." With that, the droid nodded to the Gamoreans approaching her. Having enough, Miranda summons her biotic powers and hurls these unsuspecting grunts across the room. Summoning a singularity she holds it aloft, small rocks and particles begin to orbit her. "If you think I'll allow that tub of grease to touch me, you've got another thing coming. We humans aren't like these Asari whores, we're warriors and will--" And for the third time Miranda was interrupted, this time by a stunning blast from an enemy blaster. As her eyes blurred the last thing she remembered seeing was her escort putting up a valiant fight, against overwhelming forces, the Asari attempting equally futile biotic attacks, Liara, breasts fully exposed, being hauled away by grunting gamoreans, all while the great Hutt continued to assault the Twi'lek as tears slowly ran down her beautiful face to mingle with the slime of the Hutt. Observations of a Scientist/Slave Girl The gamoreans' hands were not too gentle as they dragged Liara from the hall. Caught between two enormous brutes, she had no hope of escape and her struggles were aimed more at preserving her battered outfit than anything else. That Cerberus bitch had forced her to wear an outfit that would be seen as provocative even in the seedy bowels of Chora's Den. The normal outfit consisted of what amounted to bikini bottoms with a form fitting bustier, but the Cerberus agents had subtracted from the outfit to the point where the bottoms were nothing more than a tattered thong and bustier was missing all the supporting pieces, causing her neckline to plunge to incredible lows without her assistance. She was astounded by the feudal culture that the Hutts seemed to have maintained for all their years in exile. Ruling through wealth and military might, it seemed that they not been overthrown by their underlings as had been the hope. Ornate reliefs and tapestries lined the hallways, depicting scenes ranging from Hutts commanding large armies to purely pornographic illustrations of Asari and Twi'leks lost in (what Liara assumed was unwanted) orgasmic bliss. After descending several staircases, the gamoreans unlocked a large, heavy wooded door and shoved Liara inside. Propelled by the force of the shoves, she stumbles and falls into a pool of water, relaxing slave girls squealing and diving out of the way. Floating in the water, Liara wished that she wouldn't have to return to the surface, that she could just stay under the quiet waters forever and leave the nightmare behind. She longed for days long gone, days of vying with Ashley Williams in a sexual arms race for the affections of commander Shepard... Her reflection was interrupted as more of the asari were hurled into the pool, and slowly she emerged from the water, droplets beating off her naked skin as her skin prickled and nipples hardened in the cold air. Dozens of Twi'leks lounged around an enormous room covered in warm pools and giant pillows. They were engaged in all sorts of leisurely activities, from playing board games, to reading scrolls, and a few even seemed to be making love in the corner. Many were pregnant, their stomachs bulging with what would likely be Hutt spawn, though at the rate the groups in the corner were going at each other, there was a good chance that a fair number of those babies were sired by fellow slaves. Stepping out of the pool she was approached by a red twi'lek wearing an outfit make of tiny chains that linked together, barely covering her body. Liara was surprised, the red pigmentation of her species had died out millenia ago, and taking a second look around she saw skin tones of green, white, purples, pink, and orange accompanying the traditional blue. The scientist in her thrilled at the chance to study the genes of these near-asari, a once in a lifetime chance to read from the genetic history books of her people. The woman in her raged at the high price of this knowledge, her freedom and her body. The red twi'lek held out a hand to pull Liara out of the tub. "Greetings sister, my name is Fayla. We've all heard stories of our asari precursors, stories passed down from mother to daughter for generations. I can show you the dressing room if you want to change out of those rags. And maybe you can tell me more about our sisters on the outside?" Liara smiled at the friendly gesture, and stepped out of the pool. "Sounds great, I'd love to hear more about your people... and their troubles." Using a biotic field she collected all the water off of her body and psychically deposited it back in the pool. Fayla's eyes widened, "So it's true! The stories mention a great force running through the bodies of our grandmothers' grandmothers. Can you teach us to use this power?" Liara looked around as women around the harem began echoing their interest, gathering around the asari handmaidens. She smiled. Perhaps the situation wasn’t as hopeless as she had feared…
This Life hits and the crowd pops and looks around at each entrance available. After the line “The crows fly straight” hits, Dutch walks down through the crowd, wearing his custom cut as he makes his way down, high fiving fans before striking a pose to the delight of the crowd. Paisner: Ladies and gentlemen, surprisingly, your number 1 contender for the WiR World Championship Mark Dutch is coming down. Woodbridge: The Dutch has not had the best track record these last two weeks, losing to Eric Appelbaum and Santiago Martinez two weeks ago and Felix Garcia last week. To be completely honest, I don't get why Moxie agrees to Dutch being the number 1 contender. Dutch walks past the home plate and slides into the ring, a microphone in hand already as he shoots the Dutch Finger Bang into the crowd, a smile on his face. Paisner: Two losses yet still very happy. Woodbridge: He’s the number 1 contender. Ofcourse he would be happy. The music cuts out and Dutch is left in the ring and looks on. Dutch: Thank you. Dutch bows down in front of the ring as the crowd claps, always appreciating a thank you from anyone. He leans back up and speaks. Dutch: Thank you all for the amazing times I’ve had in WiR, the amazing time I have on a daily basis and the amazing times we are going to share in the future. Dutch smiles, the crowd clapping in appreciating of Dutch’s complimenting and, what some consider, asskissing. Dutch: With all of you, I have shared many amazing memories and the best one has yet to come. I understand the feelings between me and Dragon are equal and people have their favorites, but I still want to thank you for wanting to see both of us in the ring one more time for the biggest prize in the company at stake. I know I haven’t shown my best wrestling skills these last couple of weeks but I'm going to improve these next weeks. Some may call me controversial, some of the acts i’ll do will be considered as such, but I hope you will all support me in these amazing times I get to have in the future once more. Dutch looks on at the crowd, waving a little as some fans clap still for Dutch. Dutch: But I have some things I want to say face to face, man to man to Dragon, so Dragon, get out here and meet me here. I’ve talked shit last week, it’s your turn now as well. HELL-O)))-WEEN as the hulking brute makes his way to the ring. Mic in one hand, and the world championship belt on his neck, he walks slowly towards Dutch. Halfway, he grabs the title from his hands and places it right on top of home plate before staring at his man and getting into the ring, showing he wants to face Dutch man to man, not champion to challenger. Dragon: Dutch, you wanna say something to me, face to face, I got no problem with that. So spit it out. Dutch looks at Dragon, holding his microphone tightly as he steps around a bit, walking side to side in the ring while his eyes remain focused on Dragon. Dutch: First off, and I don't think I’ve said it yet, congratulations on winning your title. You won it fair and square… But I do not believe you won it on Brodie’s best day, no matter what he said. Dragon: And why is that? Dutch: I’ve seen Brodie in the ring. Never faced him one-on-one, but seen him often enough. You went face to face with him on a House Party where you both ran out of the airing time. That’s an impressive feat, but he showed why he is a true champion. Dragon: I also beat him two weeks later when we got more time on our hands. I showed why I should be champion because I had 10 more minutes of strength, power, and wrestling capability than him on his “second best day”. Dutch: How about this? We forget about the past, you keep your mind off Brodie and now focus on me. I know I brought it up, but it’s time we move on. Dragon: You brought me out here because of the past, and now you just want to shrug it off? Why on earth should I focus on you if you can’t focus on why I’m here? Dutch smirks, looking back at Dragon. Dutch: I’ve spent many words talking about you already in front of one of our loveliest crowds. It’s time you talk and tell me why I shouldn’t be facing you, Dragon. Dragon: What have you done to entertain the idea of a title shot? I got mine because I fought harder than seemingly everyone in WiR, while you…? Dutch: While I hit roadblock after roadblock after roadblock. I know what you're getting at. The reason I should get title shot because the shot at the title I should get is long overdue, Dragon. Dragon: ...What? That’s not a reason, that’s just sour grapes. I’m not Moxie. The crowd looks on, anxiously waiting who will be the first to drop a pipebomb from here to Tokyo on one another. Dutch: You're not Moxie, I know. Moxie can actually pull off a dress. The crowd chuckles lightly, Dragon not amused by the comment it appears. Dragon: Right, if all you have is cheap pops and jokes, I’ll be on my way now. Dutch: Please, everyone makes cheap pops. The reason I stand here, challenging you is because the fans want to see two men clashing who’ve clashed before and now see the man who lost holding a title. I'm acting silly to entertain each person in the crowd, while bringing a strong message to you. Dragon, let me get to the point. You have something I want and I'm going to take it from you fair and square for the fans who believe in me and have supported me along the way as I got good and the less supportive who have doubted me. Dragon: There’s just one problem with that. Through your entire career, fair and square hsn’t really been an option for Mark Dutch. Now, I know that I can’t speak against it myself, but for a good protion of your time here, you’ve been… The crowd is at a hush wondering what Dragon is about to say. Dragon: A piece of shit. Crowd: WHAT?! The crowd is at a mix of cheers and boos over what he said, as Dutch stares coldly at him. Dutch: While I have been a piece of shit, I stand here now as a man of the people. Crowd: WHAT?! Dutch: A subject to the people’s kingdom. Crowd: WHAT?! Dutch: A wrestler for the ticket buying men and women who wish to see a good wrestling match. Crowd: WHAT?! Dutch: Okay, that’s enough, haha! The crowd chuckles along the way as Dragon continues his speaking. Dragon: What people? These people have never seen you step foot in SoCal outside of Reseda. And as far as I’m concerned, you’ve done nothing to earn that monkier, or the 1004 others. You see, that might be why they keep saying what. One Guy in the Audience: THANKS! Dragon: No prob. Now sit down and stop being a smark. Guy: Sorry! Dutch: While I’ve been that cunt as you said, I am now a different man and stand here, not just for them to show how good I actually am, but for myself to show I hang with guys like you. Guys and gals in the back who are considered top tier talent. This isn't just for them, it’s so I can say that I am a deserving champion, or a respectful number 2. Dragon: You have yet to show even the slightest bit of remorse over what you’ve done in the past. And as much as the boys in the back, yeah congrats, you can hang...but can you hang with me? Right now? You see, there in lies the real meat of the matter, and while you keep tip toeing through it, I just want the answer. The crowd waits in anticipation for what Dutch is going to say, hanging on his lip like a woman with a lippiercing too big for her lips to hold. Dragon: Yes...or No? Dutch: Yes. The things I did in the past will need more time to heal, but all in due time. Dragon: I refuse to believe you are. Because the last time you were in a sitution like this, you choked at the idea of beating the all mighty power of...Sonny Goddamn Carson. Dutch: Well, proof to me you are better than me and more deserving of that title, Dragon, if that even is your real name.. Dragon: It’s Andrew Garcia. Dutch: Yeah, you’re right. Sorry, heat of the moment. Dragon: You see, you would know if you looked at the tiny print on my giant belt. Dutch: And that’s what you’ll be. A tiny print in the history of that title once I have you in the crippler crossface and all you’ll do is tap.. tap.. tap. Dragon: Actually, I think I’ll be on the very first page. Not only because I’m the first and only Triple Crown Champ. Not only because I am the most decorated wrestler in WiR history, but because I can handle anything the place bring to me with a simple big boot. Like I said before, you can’t even beat my smaller form, what can you do at my final form? Dutch: Take that title from you and become the second and most memorable triple crown champ in the history of this company. Dragon: Because all you can be is #2 while I’m here. Dutch tenses up, looking on at Dragon while his posturenchanges. His grip becomes more firm, the look in his eyes change and the man that used to be Mark Dutch shows his ugly head once more. Dutch: The number 2 according to you will soon enough stand over you, title in hand and made sure your retirement will be soon enough. In fact, you’ll see him hold the title perhaps today. Dutch glances over to the first base where the WiR title lays in all its glory before he looks back at Dragon, a disgusted look on his face like he’s ready to spit on Dragon. Dragon: You keep saying that, but you can’t even give me a reason to give a fuck. Don’t you get it, I’m up here, you’re down there. And instead of working yourself to the top, you’re just working yourself. You don’t give a damn about these people, you don’t give a damn about this belt. The only thing you care about is Mark Dutch. And believe me, no one here wants to look up to Mark Dutch. The crowd acts shocked as Dragon tells Dutch he isn't better than him and Dutch and Dragon look at each other. Both men take a step back from each other and both turn around to leave the ring, before Dutch and Dragon strike at each other at the same time! Paisner: HERE WE GO! DUTCH AND DRAGON GOING AT IT! Dragon and Dutch continue to strike, Dutch mainly targeting the upperbody of Dragon while Dragon attacks Dutch’s head. Both men go at it with each punch growing stronger as the crowd explodes in cheers. Woodbridge: These men can't be stopped it seems! Dragon makes use of his size and begins to push Dutch into the corner, giving him limited movement to attack back but Dutch keeps punching, Dragon now moving down and using his shoulders to push him into the turnbuckle, meanwhile Dutch using now his elbows to blast Dragon over his back! Crowd: DRAGON’S GONNA KILL YOU! BIG FUCKING DUTCHMAN! DRAGON’S GONNA KILL YOU! BIG FUCKING DUTCHMAN! Dutch begins to realise that his elbows barely have any effect and now begins to try to knee Dragon in the face. Once he connects a few times Dragon lets go and gets back up as Dutch pushes Dragon back to the delight of half of the crowd. Woodbridge: DUTCH SHOWING MORE HEART NOW THAN A PATIENT IN A OPEN HEART SURGERY! Paisner: BUT DRAGON ISN'T BACKING DOWN FROM THE FIGHT EITHER! Dutch pushes Dragon back and headbutts Dragon before landing a strong kick by Dragon’s kidneys and Dutch gets on top, now striking Dragon’s face as Dragon defends himself. Dutch and Dragon roll over and now Dragon is the one blasting Dutch in the face. Voice: STOP IT! STOP IT! Moxie Moon walks out from the curtain, demanding both men to stop but they don't and instead keep on brawling, Moxie Moon getting more furious every time a punch lands before she turns around and signals to the back and many referees walk out, from Tai Ni Wong, Harry Undersach and Ivan Itchicock to any other WiR referee and they run over and slide in the riny to seperate both men, but they can’t as Dragon uses his size to stay on top. Harry and Ivan get w good grip and pull Dragon off Dutch and Dutch uses it to get to a squatting position and jump back on top of Dragon, laying in punch after punch and Dragon striking back and defending himself. Crowd: KEEP FIGHTING! FIGHT FOREVER! KEEP FIGHTING! Moxie gets more frustrated and signals once more before Kaitlyn, Alice, Jimmy Chonga, Kyle Scott, Tyler Dylan, Robert Warlock, Appelbaum, Alex Silva and many more rush from the back, sprinting over to the ring and all slide in to pull Dutch now off Dragon. Dutch flings his arms around and kicks his legs to try to have all let go if him but they won’t budge as they are wrestlers, not referees. Kaitlyn, Silva and Warlock keep Dragon down as the rest holds back Dutch. 2 men and a lady aren’t enough to keep down Dragon and he gets up quickly and jumps in on the pile, reaching Dutch and the brawling continues, Dragon getting a couple of punches in as the rest hold back Dutch before the group splits and the rest hold back Dragon, pushing him into the opposite corner as the other half keeps back Dutch, Chonga Jr. right in front of Dutch who has a nasty looking busted lip. Paisner: THEY FINALLY GOT THESE SAVAGES UNDER CONTROL! Woodbridge: But what’s the fun in that? Dutch keeps trying to flail around to let go but Chonga Jr, Eric Appelbaum, Tyler Dylanand Brendan Byrne, who are in front, aren’t budging. Dutch looks at Chonga and stares at him. Dutch: Sorry for this. Please forgive me. Chonga: Sorry for what? Immediately, Dutch headbutts Chonga and Chonga loses his grip on Dutch’s right arm and now Dutch begins to push people away, finding an opening and going through it. Felix sees Dutch escaping and warns the others so they turn around as well. With their backs turned, Dragon uses this to his advantage and leaps into the swarm of people. Pulling people left, right and center to get back at his man. He’s gets half way to Dutch before the first chunk of people start grabbing his arms from behind, weighing his onslaught down. Felix stands between him and Dutch, looking eye to eye with his brother as almost everybody is now trying their damndest to hold on to the brute. Felix: Andrew, I need you to calm down for a minute. I just need you to think about this like you usually do. This is madness, you two can’t just fi- Felix turns around and gets a hard right to the face. He stops dead in his tracks before falling backwards to the ground. Dutch, now a bit more free, shoves his way past the others holding him back. He lunges towards Dragon, still looking down at his KO’d brother, befofre looking back up at Dutch. He takes a few quick punches from him before a few of the locker room goes back to keeping him away, Dragon’s nose now bleeding as well as Dutch’s busted lip. Both men are screaming their worst at each other, as Dutch gets pushed back to the corner. Dutch looks at the knocked out Felix and yells at him. Dutch: HEAT OF THE MOMENT, FELIX! SORRY! Moxie Moon is on the ramp and she looks back, El Hijo Del Sloth now crawling from the back, ready to save the day as well. El Hijo: iiiiiiiiimmmmmmm………...hhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrreeeeeee……………..ttttttttooooooooooooo…………………….hhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllppppppppp……………… El Hijo Del Sloth begins to crawl down towards the ring as fast as he could while Dragon and Dutch are held back into the corners by each half of the ring, Felix now slowly getting by and seating up slowly in the ring. He looks over to Dragon, holding one hand on his head as Moxie screams from down the entranceway. Moxie: GET ANDREW OUT OF THE RING RIGHT NOW! I SAID RIGHT NOW! DO IT! Dragon: FUCK YOU, MOXIE! I’LL STAB MAXIMO! Dragon yells profanities at Moxie, but Dragon can’t do anything about half of the lockerroom pulling him out of the ring. Warlock gets down out at the ring to grab ahold of Dragon’s legs and Adrian Hale goes down to bring Dragon down as well to get him out. It takes Adrian Hale, Robert Warlock, Charlie Krieger, Joey McCarthy, Jack Flash, Kyle Scott and Logan Lee to get Dragon out of the ring, meanwhile Eric Appelbaum, Tyler Dylan, Maverick, Alex Silva, Chonga Jr. and Jack Anchor to keep Dutch at bay against the turnbuckle, Felix now slowly getting to his feet. Dragon is pulled and escorted out among the side of the ring where El Hijo Del Sloth welcomes them, now assisting in escorting Dragon, Dragon meanwhile still focussed on Dutch and screaming death sentences at Dutch as well. Paisner: THIS IS FINALLY OVER! THESE MEN WANT EACH OTHER DEAD! Woodbridge: Thank God! Someone’s gonna get hurt and Felix is already hurt. I can’t wait until both men get to fight each other a- WAIT! WHAT IS HAPPENING?! Dutch gets a leg free and kicks Kaitlyn in the shin before tackling Eric Appelbaum with one foot, getting himself slowly free as he brings a few to the ground. Dutch then climbs up onto the turnbuckle and stands there for half a second before shooting a Dutch finger bang and dives off the turnbuckle into the pile of people and onto Dragon, the entire group going down, including El Hijo Del Sloth El Hijo: FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCC Before El Hijo can finish his sentence, he is down amongst the rest and Dutch gets off of them all quickly and takes a few steps onto the entrancway again, Dragon now getting up as well slowly after the dive but the group that held back Mark Dutch is now getting out of the ring. Dragon steps over the pile of people and wants to chase Dutch, but the group now gets ahold of Dragon and keeps him back, Dutch meanwhile taking steps back from the scene with a grin on his face. He passes Moxie, who he looks at before smirking at her. Dutch: Cleanup on isle 3. Sorry for the mess, Moxie. Dutch, almost instantly, leans and kisses Moxie on the cheek before she moves away in shock from what Dutch did, Dutch now taking more steps back and still facing Dragon, who is held back and is screaming at Dutch. Dragon: I’M GONNA FUCKING BEAT YOU COME PPV TIME! YOU HEAR ME?! Dutch takes more steps back and shoots one last Dutch Fingerbang before yelling back. Dutch: NOT AS CHAMPION, YOU WON’T! As Dutch says so, he realises something. He turns around and sees the WiR World Championship laying there and picks it up. He looks at it and Dragon is livid, trying to scratch and claw to it while the rest of the lockerroom keep him back, now the people Dutch dived onto as well being back up and holding Dragon back. Dutch looks at the title before shaking his hand in front of his face and lifting up the championship. Dragon: THAT’S MY TITLE! HE’S TAKING MY TITLE! Paisner: HE’S TAKING HIS TITLE! DUTCH IS TAKING HIS TITLE! Woodbridge: ERR TERKIN IR TIIRTLERRR! Dutch waves goodbye at Dragon before walking off, putting the WiR World Championship over his shoulder and walking to the back, Dragon continuing to be livid and held back by the rest. He looks back at Felix who is now standing up and looks shocked at Dragon as well. COMMERCIAL Javier: Ladies and gentlemen... Crowd: YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYY! Javier: The following contest is scheduled for one fall! Crowd: ONE FAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! Javier: And it is your main event of the evening! Your referee for this contest, Mr. Ivan Itchicock! The crowd loudly react as Illidance's Neon Rebels can be heard coming out of from the field's shitty PA. Javier: Introducing first! Appelbaum comes out from the left dugout and slowly walks to the ring. He makes his way towards the ring carrying his tournament trophy. Javier: From Silicon Valley, weighing in at 220 pounds, the winner of the Kyūkyoku No Unmei No Kyūkyoku No Taiketsu tournament, 'Binary' ERIC APPELBAUM! Crowd: BOOOOOOOOOO! Woodbridge: I think we can all agree that Eric Appelbaum is currently one of the strongest names in Wrestling is Reddit. A man who's in a streak right now: six consecutive wins, three of them in the same night. Two weeks ago he defeated the Independent Champion and the number one contender for the World Championship. And yet… he is one ugly motherfucker, is he not? Appelbaum hands his trophy to the timekeeper and climbs up to the apron, stepping in between the ropes. He moves to the lower right corner, staring right at the right dugout. Paisner: I’ll plead the 5th on that one. It was two weeks ago, I said that Eric had a lot of momentum coming from his surprising win in the MechaKaiju Tournament. Now, I can assure you that I don't think anyone can stop Appelbaum's moment any time soon, though I'm sure his opponent tonight is going to try to. Appelbaum's theme is interrupted by Rise from the Ashes, by STRIA, as Robert Warlock comes out and the crowd can instantly be heard. Javier: And his opponent! From Kansas City, Kansas. Weighing in at 234 pounds… “The Rising Phoenix” ROBERT WARLOCK!! Crowd: YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYY! Paisner: And there he is, ladies and gentlemen, a man who's a former World Champion, a former Tag Team Champion, and one of the smartest wrestling minds out there, Robert Warlock. Woodbridge: I think you were a bit unfair to Warlock earlier. Even though the Warlords failed to get back their tag titles, this man right here has the skills, and he just defeated Hwo Rang last week in a great showing. You said that Eric seems unstoppable, but I'm telling you, if someone can defeat Eric Appelbaum, Warlock might easily be your guy. Warlock makes his way to the ring and he starts high fiving people in the crowd along the way. The Rising Phoenix hops to the apron, puts his hands in the air, climbs to the top turnbuckle and puts his hands in the air, with a W-esque finger sign. Paisner: These two men will be facing off tonight in what will definitely be one of the most exciting matches in recent times. Appelbaum. Warlock. Who's going to win? He jumps into the ring and moves to his corner, while Javier steps out of the ring and Itchicock asks for the bell. DING DING DING!!! Warlock and Appelbaum start circling each other, Appelbaum tries going forward, but Warlock uses his superior speed to dodge him and to create some space between them. Appelbaum drops down looking for a takedown, but Warlock jumps over him. Warlock goes for a kick, but Appelbaum rolls out of it and stands up. Woodbridge: Both men testing the waters here in our Main Event. A win here could propel either man into title contention. Whether it be for the Independent Championship or an actual earned shot at the World Title. The two men move to the center of the ring, getting closer and closer to each other. They lock into a collar and elbow tie-up, with Warlock trying to use his size advantage to move Appelbaum to the ropes. Robert grabs Eric's arm looking to whip him to the other side, but his intentions are denied after Appelbaum reverses the whip and brings Warlock down with a side headlock takedown. Eric puts some pressure on Warlock's head by firmly wrenching in the hold, Warlock tries to roll out, but Appelbaum keeps applying it. Warlock tries to get back to a standing base by bringing himself to his knees. Appelbaum puts his legs around Warlock's legs looking for a way to restrain him, but Warlock puts his hands on the mat, jumps back and gracefully gets out of the hold. Appelbaum gets up and charges at Warlock looking for a clothesline, but Warlock rolls just under him and takes him down with a headscissors. Paisner: Warlock flexing not only his strength but speed advantage as well. Woodbridge: But Appelbaum is crafty. Ring awareness and intelligence cannot be valued enough, Pais. Warlock stands up and goes for a dropkick, but Appelbaum gets out of the way and grabs Warlock's leg, sending him face first to the canvas. Appelbaum grabs Warlock's left leg and starts stomping it, but Warlock turns his back and hits Eric with a boot to the face. Robert gets back up and the two face in the middle of the ring once again. Woodbridge: They… Maurice rang the bell right? Paisner: Seriously. Fucking hit each other! The pair circle each other in the ring, closing the gap and tying up with another collar-and-elbow tie up. The two men jockey for position, but Appelbaum gets the edge this time as he rolls out of the hold, putting Warlock in an arm wrench. Appelbaum uses this leverage to force Warlock to the ropes, and he continues the assault by hitting the former World Champion with some elbows to the back and a hard knee to the gut, driving Warlock down to one knee. Paisner: Appelbaum hits the ropes and kicks Warlock’s leg out of his leg! Warlock writhes on the mat in pain, clutching at his knee while Appelbaum cracks his neck. Appelbaum pulls Warlock up and drapes him up against the ropes, unleashing a wicked knife edge chop. Crowd: WOO! Appelbaum licks his hand and prepares for another chop, but this time Warlock ducks underneath and lights up Appelbaum’s chest with a chop of his own. Crowd: WOOOOOO!! Warlock hits the ropes on the opposite side for momentum only to get rocked with a shoot straight arm potato shot to the face. Crowd: BOOOOOOOOO!!! Paisner: Fuck me. Appelbaum lit Warlock up with that shot. Woodbridge: Keep it safe… Appelbaum shakes his hand around after his straight arm cross as Itchicock reprimands him for the totally uncool potato. Paisner: That punch may have done more damage to Eric’s hand than Warlock’s skull. Itchicock goes to check on Warlock, but Appelbaum shoves him away and starts hammering on the back of Warlock’s head with forearm shots. Warlock tries to fight back with a shot to the gut, but Appelbaum retorts with a fat hammer fist to the top of the noggin’. Appelbaum drags Warlock over to the corner and slams his face into the turnbuckle followed by a stiff uppercut. Satisfied, Appelbaum jogs across the ring to the opposite turnbuckle. He gives Warlock the old Dutch Fingerbang before charging. Paisner: Super Kick from Warlock! Crowd: YAAAAAAY!! Warlock collapses to the mat as Appelbaum resets his jaw in one of the corners. Warlock nips up and shakes his fists for the crowd. He charges at Appelbaum still recovering the corner and hits a stiff running shoulder thrust to the gut before stepping out onto the ring apron. Appelbaum stumbles out of the corner and Warlock hits him with a beautiful springboard bulldog. Paisner: And Appelbaum taking a powder to the outside! Woodbridge: That big brain of Appelbaum being put to use. Conserving that energy he would’ve spent likely kicking out of that vicious bulldog. Warlock spies Appelbaum taking a little stroll around the ring. He hits the ropes, cartwheels and back flips over the top rope, connecting with a moonsault to the outside. Crowd: YAAAAAY!!! LET’S GO WARLOCK!! clap clap clapclapclap Warlock pounds on the ring apron in unison as the crowd rallies behind him. He peels Appelbaum off the grass and rolls him into the ring. Paisner: Quick cover here by Warlock! 1… 2… Appelbaum kicks out! Warlock watches from one knee behind Appelbaum, as he stumbles to a standing position. Warlock surges from behind attempting an inverted exploder suplex, but as soon as he grabs a hold of Appelbaum’s leg, the “Binary” schizo slams an elbow into the back of his head. Warlock stumbles back into the corner and Appelbaum comes charging in for a splash into the corner, but Warlock pirouehttes out of the way. Appelbaum manages to pump his brakes, not hitting the turnbuckle too hard. But as soon as he turns around Warlock is there to greet him with an open handed slap to the ear that echoes throughout the ballpark. Crowd: WHOOOOOAAAA!! Paisner: Yeeouch… right in the fucking ear. I had a cousin go deaf from a Nerf Dart rupturing his ear drum I can only imagine what an open palm slap to the side of one’s head may feel like. Woodbridge: Appelbaum was due a receipt after that potato shot earlier. Warlock whips Appelbaum across the ring into the opposite turnbuckle. Warlock follows in close with a running attack, but Appelbaum tips up over the back of Warlock and hits a wicked backstabber. Warlock flops around on the mat, eventually ending up on his knees clutching at his spasming, injured back. Paisner: Warlock is in a tremendous amount of pain, Appelbaum hits the ropes… “Payload” (Savate) Kick right in the back. Appelbaum with the pin! 1… 2… Warlock gets the shoulder up! Crowd: YAAAAAY!! Appelbaum slaps the mat in frustration and questions Itchicock on his arithmetic. Appelbaum pulls Warlock to his feet and sets him up for a powerbomb. Paisner: “Logic Bomb” attempt from Appelbaum – NO! Warlock sandbags him! Appelbaum tries again! He still can’t get Warlock up! OH NO! In frustration, Appelbaum pulls back from his powerbomb attempt and just starts destroying Warlock’s face with a series of stiff kneelifts to the face. Crowd: BOOOOOO!! Woodbridge: Could this be “Binary”? Paisner: Who the fuck knows how that shit works. Appelbaum pulls Warlock back for that “Logic Bomb” – Crowd: YAAAAAAYY!! Paisner: Hurricanrana Reversal by Warlock! Warlock gets up on one knee just as Appelbaum gets to his feet a bit perplexed as to what just occurred. Appelbaum runs in for a spear attempt, but Warlock rocks the hacker with a pinpoint leaping knee to the face that stands Appelbaum straight up, practically knocked out on his feet. Warlock spies his dazed opponent in the center of the ring and runs to the ropes. He springboard off the second rope looking for a Disaster Kick but Appelbaum spears him out of mid air! Woodbridge: Eric Appelbuam has gone “Spear Phishing”!! Paisner: Appelbaum with the lateral press for the win! 1… 2… 3 – NO! Warlock kicks out! Crowd: YAAAAAY!! Appelbaum throws a tantrum on the mat before finally beginning to settle. Meanwhile, Warlock rolls onto his belly and begins inching his way to the ropes trying to find refuge. Appelbaum gets to his knees and takes a moment to watch Warlock desperately pull himself back up to his feet with the help of the turnbuckle. Eric then charges Warlock and rocks him back into the turnbuckle with a running forearm, followed by a series of elbow shots. Appelbaum takes a couple steps back and this time attempts a roaring elbow only for Warlock to come right back at potato him with a straight right cross of his own. Crowd: YAAAAAY!! Woodbridge: Nevermind! THAT was the receipt! Appelbaum stumbles back and comes right back with an overhead right of his own that knocks Warlock back into the turnbuckle. Crowd: BOOOOOO!! Warlock fires back with a jumping forearm smash to Appelbaum. Crowd: YAAAAY!! Appelbaum retorts with a stiff knife edge chop. Crowd: WOO!! Warlock stumbles back and roars, firing back with knife edge chop of his own. Crowd: WOOOOOO!! And another! Crowd: WOOOOOO!! And another! Crowd: WOOOOO!! Followed by a flurry of chops that sends Appelbaum reeling. Crowd: WOO! WOO! WOO! WOO! YAAAAAYY!!! Appelbaum crumples down to the mat, his chest one giant red blistering welt. Warlock sizes Appelbaum up for a Shining Wizard. The former World and Tag Team Champ rockets forward but Appelbaum snaps to his feet almost impossibly fast and clips Warlock with a vicious spinning back fist. Crowd: BOOOOOO!! Paisner: Null Pointer Exception! Appelbaum wags his finger “No” to the crowd. He pulls the stunned Robert Warlock in for a powerbomb position. Woodbridge: Appelbaum looking to put Warlock away and continue the winning streak-- Paisner: “Logic Bomb” – NO! Warlock manages to wiggle out of the powerbomb attempt and slide down the back of Appelbaum. Appelbaum spins around to meet his opponent and gets a roundhouse kick to the side of the head, dropping him to his knees. Warlock hits the ropes and comes right back with a Shining Wizard. Crowd: YAAAAAAY!! Paisner: Warlock hooks the leg! 1…. 2…. 3 – NO! Appelbaum gets the shoulder up! Crowd: AWWWW!! Warlock wastes no time after the kick out. He rolls Appelbaum back onto his back and hits a standing shooting star press. He gets to his feet, the babyface fire flowing through him. He hops out on the ring apron and wiggles for a moment like a cat about to pounce on their pray. Crowd: OOOOOO- Paisner: Springboard 450 Splash! NO! Appelbaum gets the knees up! Crowd: NOOOOO!! Paisner: Appelbaum transitions into a Small Package! Itchicock makes the pin! 1… 2… 3! NO! Warlock kicks out! Crowd: YAAAAAAY!! Woodbridge: Hot damn these boys are laying it all out on the line tonight! Appelbaum backs into one of the corners, observing Warlock gasping for air on the mat, wondering how in the hell he managed to kick out of that small package off the 450 reversal. Appelbaum starts seething, he slowly crawls over to Warlock, spit dribbling from his mouth in frustration as he seeks to put an end to his opponent. He pulls Warlock up by the hair— Crowd: YAAAAAY!! Paisner:CURSE BREAKER! CURSE BREAKER! Robert Warlock’s got that Hell’s Gate submission locked in! Appelbaum roars in pain as he desperately searches for the nearest ropes, but Warlock expertly keeps cinching the hold in even tighter with every desperate lunge made by Appelbaum. Woodbridge: Appelbaum has no where to go! The streak may be over! Crowd: TAP BITCH TAP! TAP BITCH TAP! Itchicock gets right in real close to Appelbaum to see if he wants to quit. The hacker, unable to get to the ropes, tries to lift Warlock off the mat but can’t get enough leverage. Woodbridge: Appelbaum now trying to roll Warlock over into a pinning predicament to try and get him to release the hold. 1… 2… Paisner: Warlock rolls his shoulder off the mat! The Curse Breaker still locked in! Appelbaum is going to tap! Crowd: YAAAAAAY!! Woodbridge: WE GOT A FAN CHARGING THE RING! A man in a black hoodie hops the barrier and slingshots himself up to the top rope, perching up there for just a moment before coming crashing down on both men with a cruel looking top rope cannonball senton. Crowd: OHHHHH!! Paisner: Itchicock signaling for the bell! Get that crazy fan out of the ring! DING DING DING The fan starts viciously stomping on both Appelbaum and Warlock on the mat. Ivan Itchicock grabs the man about the waist trying to pull him away, but the man snatches the WiR Junior Junior Official around the neck and buries the top of his head into the mat with a nasty headlock driver. Woodbridge: We need security down here or else—god damn it. The fan pops back up to his knees and his hood flies back revealing the one and only… SANTIAGO MARTINEZ . He looks disgusted to even be in the same ring as both Warlock and Appelbaum. Crowd: BOOOOO!!!!!!! Paisner: Son of a bitch!! Appelbaum crawls up to his knees and looks up at Santiago only to receive a buzzsaw kick to the side of the head that drops him to the mat. Woodbridge: Damn. Simple. But effective. Paisner: Yeah. Real simple after your target has just spent 10 + minutes in a grueling back and forth affair. Real impressive, Mark. Woodbridge: Dude, I was just sayin’ … ah shit. Santiago unzips his hoodie to reveal the WiR Independent Championship strapped around his waist. Meanwhile, Robert Warlock crawls towards the ropes with one arm. Paisner: Warlock’s elbow may have been hyperextended from that cannonball senton by Martinez. Woodbridge: He definitely wasn’t expecting to have over 200 pounds come crashing down awkwardly on top of him forcing his arm to bend at a near impossible angle. Oh God, Santiago is taking off the belt! Santiago unclips the belt from around his waist and clobbers Robert Warlock over the back of the head with it. Santiago looks over the fallen Warlock with absolutely no remorse as he rears back with his Independent Title and begins whipping Warlock’s back with it, tearing at the flesh. Crowd: BOOOOOO!! Paisner: And Martinez is taking it to Appelbaum! Martinez begins to whip Appelbaum’s back as well, slicing at his flesh with the golden notches of his Independent Title. Crowd: BOOOOOOO!! Paisner: Somebody get that fucking asshole out of the ring! House Party ends with WiR Independent Champion Santiago Martinez standing tall above a fall Robert Warlock and Eric Appelbaum. He raises his Independent Title high in the air, its white strap and golden eagle plate stained crimson from the blood of his victims. END OF STREAM
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