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Amazing Race Route Concept #2

Warning: massive amount of text ahead. I created a mostly functional race route around the world (all loactions like buildings, businesses, landmarks, etc. are REAL locations and could theoretically actually work in the race). I tried to have a good variety in locations and types of challenges, but it's really hard! I find it a lot harder to complain about challenge design after making this. Even though this could technically happen there are probably some safety concerns in going to South Africa and Lesotho and it's probably not possible for the American Amazing Race to film in Cuba, but I decided to do it anyway. If you have any questions or feedback please let me know!

RACE #2
Leg 1 (USA - Japan)
Leg 2 (Japan - South Korea)
Leg 3 (South Korea - India)
Leg 4 (India - Oman)
Leg 5 (Oman)
Leg 6 (Oman - South Africa)
Leg 7 (South Africa - Lesotho)
Leg 8 (Lesotho - Greece)
Leg 9 (Greece)
Leg 10 (Greece - North Macedonia)
Leg 11 (North Macedonia - Cuba)
Leg 12 (Cuba - USA)

LEG 1
USA - Japan
Start at Cloud Gate, Chicago, Illinois
Run to clue at Millenium Monument
Clue #1
Make your way to the Gunma region of Japan, and travel to Sarugakyu Onsen. However, to get your tickets to Japan, you must make your way on foot through the busy streets of Chicago to Navy Pier, where flights will be given out according to the order of your arrival. Flights go to Tokyo, and you must make your own travel arrangements from there.
Flight 1 (5 teams): Chicago - Los Angeles - Tokyo, arrives 8:00 AM
Flight 2 (4 teams): Chicago - Tokyo, arrives 9:30 AM
Flight 3 (2 teams): Chicago - San Francisco - Tokyo, arrives 9:45 AM
Clue #2
Both team members must go into the hot springs and search it for the partly submerged cluebox to get your next clue.
Clue #3
Travel to Sarugakyo Bungy for your next clue.
Clue #4
Roadblock: Who’s ready to take a jump?
Bungy jump at the largest bungy jump in all of Japan at 62 meters, or over 200 feet! Once you’ve taken your leap of faith, you’ll receive your next clue.
Clue #5
Travel to Uenokunirokunomiya Haruna Shrine, Takasaki, for your next clue.
Clue #6
Create one string of paper cranes in Senbazuru. Senbazuru is the crafting of 1000 paper cranes for good luck. Following the demonstration, learn how to craft paper cranes. Once you have created forty of them and strung them together, deliver them to a Shinto priest at Akiba Shrine. He will give you your next clue.
Clue #7
Travel by train to Akihabara, Tokyo, and go to the top of the Tokyo Skytree to receive your next clue.
Clue #8
Roadblock: Who can ‘go’ kart? The teammate who did the first roadblock cannot do this one.
Travel to Akihabari Street Kart 1 and dress up in one of the many ridiculous costumes the company has to offer. Then, join a fifteen minute go-karting tour around the streets of this bustling region and look for three enormous signs in race colors with three different Japanese characters on them. If you can spot and write all three characters down correctly during the rush of Tokyo, you’ll receive your next clue. If you can’t get it right, you’ll have to join the next available tour.
Clue #9
Travel to Horin Park on foot to find the first pit stop! The last team to check in here may be eliminated.
Pit Stop, Leg 1
trip to Canada
last: eliminated

LEG 2
Japan - South Korea
Clue #1
Fly to Busan, South Korea! Upon arrival, make your way to Beomeo-sa for your next clue.
Fast Forward, Leg 2
Go to Songdo Beach and swim out into the ocean, locating the five whale statues in the water. At each statue, pick up marked letter tiles. Once you have all seven (two statues have two tiles), you can go back to the beach and unscramble the letters that spell out the name of a traditional South Korean delicacy that the other contestants eat at their first challenge. If you get the right word, you’ll be given a clue that takes you straight to the end of the leg.
Clue #2
Master the art of Korean meditation. If you can master all of the moves correctly, then your instructor will give over your next clue.
Clue #3
Head to Taejongdae for your next clue.
Clue #4
Roadblock: Who’s desperate to eat?
Take the marked path over one mile uphill to the marked food stand, and finish one serving of Soondae, a traditional South Korean delicacy that is made of pig intestines and pork blood. Once you have finished the food, you can run down to your partner and get your next clue.
Clue #5
Take the Songdo Marine Cable Car from Songnim Park to Amnam Park to receive your next clue.
Clue #6
Detour: Fish Identity or Fish Delivery
Fish Identity: Go to Jagalchi Fish Market and search for the marked stall. Once there, sort an enormous box of fish and organize them. Once the stall owner approves, put them up for stock in the stall to receive your next clue.
Fish Delivery: Go to Jacky’s Seafood and take three orders and three addresses that need to be delivered. Once you have delivered all the fish to all the correct addresses throughout the Gamcheon Culture Village, you will receive your next clue.
Clue #7
Make your way to the pit-stop at Haedong Yonggungsa. The last team to arrive may be eliminated.
Pit-Stop, Leg 2
-first: trip to Belize
-last: non-elimination

LEG 3
South Korea - India
Clue #1
Fly to Hyderabad, India, and go to the Charminar for your first clue.
Clue #2
Travel to Ramoji Film City Main Entrance to receive your next clue.
Speed Bump, Leg 3
Make your way to Saha’s Adventure Park and zorb down a steep hill. Once you’ve made it, you can continue racing.
Clue #3
Detour: Birdy Woods or Bollywood
Birdy Woods: Dressing up in clumsy bird costumes, search through Asia’s largest aviary for a cutout of the bird your partner is dressing up as. Once you’ve found the two cutouts, head to the Bonsai Garden. If you match the right bird, you’ll receive your next clue.
Bollywood: Head to Ramoji Movie Magic. Dressing up in traditional Indian outfits, memorize a short dance to the tune of some Bollywood music and perform it to the live audience and judges. If you meet their standards, you’ll receive your next clue.
Clue #4
Head to Nehru Zoological Park where your next clue will be waiting.
Clue #5
Take an amazing elephant ride! With both teammates on the elephant’s back guide it through a short course. If you can reach the end in under two minutes, you’ll receive your next clue.
Clue #6
Make your way to Bidar Fort by public transport for your next clue.
Clue #7
Roadblock: Who’s itching to get etching?
One team member must help in the process of the creation of bidriware. First, you must chisel one section in the piece of bidriware very precisely. Any error and you must restart. If given the clear, then you must then make their way inside Bidar Fort and collect a total of three baskets of soil for the artisans to use later in the process. Finally, you must use some of the soil you collected and coat a piece of bidriware in it. If every part of the challenge was done to the satisfaction of the artisans, you will receive your next clue.
Clue #8
Make your way to the Bahmani Tombs and the pit-stop! The last team to arrive will be eliminated.
Pit-Stop, Leg 3
-first: trip to Japan
-last: eliminated

LEG 4
India - Oman
Clue #1
Fly to Muscat, Oman! Once you have arrived, make your way to Al Alam Palace, where you will find marked cars waiting outside. Your clue will be waiting on the car.
Clue #2
Drive all the way to the Nizwa Souq in Nizwa, Oman, where you will find nine different tags, each releasing teams at different times the next morning, when you will be given your next clue.
Tag 1: departure at 7:00 AM
Tag 2: departure at 7:05 AM
Tag 3: departure at 7:10 AM
Tag 4: departure at 7:15 AM
Tag 5: departure at 7:20 AM
Tag 6: departure at 7:25 AM
Tags 7-9: departure at 7:30 AM
Clue #3
Detour: Selling Goats or Weighing Dates
Selling Goats: Navigate through the souq to the weekly goat market. You must select a seller and help them sell their goats. First, thoroughly clean five goats so they are ready for selling. Then, parade five goats around the “walking circle,” where potential buyers will inspect which goats to buy. You must finally buy a goat yourself, haggling for a price under 100 riyals, or 260 US dollars. Once you can purchase a goat, you will receive your next clue. Keep the goat for the next challenge.
Weighing Dates: Find the marked stall in the souq that is selling dates. Your goal is to weigh out 200 grams of Ajwa Dates, 175 grams of Barhi Dates, and 125 grams of Hayani Dates. To do this, you must travel across the market to a scale at a different date stall. If you can get the perfect amount of dates, you will receive your next clue. Keep the dates for the next challenge.
Clue #4
Travel on foot to the Contemporary Mosque with either your goat or dates and trade them with the man waiting out front for your next clue.
Clue #5
Make your way back to the souq, and head to Omani Craftsman's House where you will find your next clue.
Clue #6
Roadblock: Who can work and weave?
The teammate participating in this roadblock must help create a small basketwork bowl. After watching the example, you must use the provided materials to finish off the bowl. If it meets the requirement of the shop owner, you will receive your next clue.
Clue #7
Make your way to the pit-stop for this leg of the race, Nizwa Fort! The last team to arrive may be eliminated.
Pit-Stop, Leg 4
-first: continue racing
-last: continue racing

LEG 5
Oman
Clue #1
Drive yourself to Bimmah Sinkhole in Muscat, Oman! You will receive your next clue after having a cup of delicious locally-made coffee. Caution! Double U-Turn ahead!
Clue #2
Detour: Script Write or Shipwright
Script Write: Drive to Bait al Zubair and go into the Manuscript Room. Using a provided paper and translation guide, figure out what the marked manuscript says in English. If anything is wrong when submitting it, though, you must start completely over.
Shipwright: Drive to Oman Maritime Boatyard and find the marked boat. Oman Maritime has been reviving the craft of making the traditional wooden boats of Oman’s past, and you must help with the process. First, you must hand-sand a small section of the marked vessel. Then, you and your partner must work together to stitch coconut palm fiber through twenty holes, or eighty total stitches. Once you’re done, you’ll receive your next clue.
Clue #3
Make your way to Mutrah Souk for your next clue and the U-Turn board!
Clue #4
Search through the enormous market for one of three marked stalls. One you’ve found a stall, search through their wares for a trinket with a red/yellow flag on the bottom. Give the correct trinket to the shop owner, and they will hand you your next clue.
Clue #5
Drive yourself to Qurum Beach, where you will receive your next clue.
Clue #6
Roadblock: Who will pass the shells?
For this challenge, one team member must watch the demonstration of two fishermen playing a traditional Omani game, Al Hawalees. You must first create a “board” in the sand and collect the required amount of shells to play. You must then challenge a local fisherman. If you can win while following all of the rules correctly, you will receive your next clue.
Clue #7
Make your way to the pit-stop at Wadi Bani Khalid. The last team to check in will be eliminated.
Pit-Stop, Leg 5
-first: trip to Tanzania
-last: eliminated

LEG 6
Oman - South Africa
Clue #1
Fly out of Oman to Durban, South Africa, on one of two flights.
Flight 1 (2 teams): Muscat - Durban, arrives 7:30 AM
Flight 2 (6 teams): Muscat - Dar es Salaam - Durban, arrives 8:00 AM
Upon touching down, make your way to Moses Mabhida Stadium, where you will find your next clue.
Clue #2
Roadblock: Who will swing for the skies?
One team member must strap in and complete the Big Rush Big Swing, the largest swing in the world! Dive 263 feet down. Once you have finished the swing, you will receive a section and seat number. You will search the stands for your next clue.
Clue #3
Make your way to Umhlanga Lighthouse for your next clue.
Clue #4
Shake it up! In this challenge, you must create Lighthouse Bar’s famous “Umhlanga Schling.” Use the provided recipe to create fifteen drinks to perfection, and you will receive your next clue.
Clue #5
Head to Addington Beach and dig underneath one of the large sandcastles for your next clue.
Clue #6
Detour: Tree or Sea
Tree: For this detour, go to Durban Botanical Gardens. Use a provided golf cart to make your way to the famous Wood’s Cycad, a tree dating back to the age of dinosaurs. It has been cared for here since 1848. Once there, use one of the provided pieces to put together a large 3d puzzle of the tree. Once it has been approved, you will be handed your clue, and you can drive back to the front of the gardens and continue racing.
Sea: Go to uShaka Marine World and help out with some chores! First, help the kitchen staff and prepare 5 pounds of specially made vegetables for some of the aquarium’s fish. Second, travel around the park and take water samples from each of the specified exhibits. Finally, record blood test results taken during routine health check-ups. If you’ve completed all of the steps correctly, you will receive your next clue.
Clue #7
Head to the pit-stop at Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World! The last team to check in may be eliminated.
Pit-Stop, Leg 6
-first: 5k each
-last: eliminated

LEG 7
South Africa - Lesotho
Clue #1
Drive yourself through Qacha’s Nek and into Lesotho! Once in Lesotho, drive yourself to Maletsunyane Falls where you’ll find your next clue.
Fast Forward, Leg 7
By completing this fast forward, you will skip an overnight rest point and will be able to head directly to the pit-stop. Head to Sehlabathebe National Park. Once there, using the provided map and compass, ride by horseback to the nomadic tribal people’s current village. At the village, help cook pap-pap, a type of porridge common in Lesotho. The first team to complete the challenge will be able to head directly to the pit-stop.
Clue #2
Drive yourself to Seshoeshoe Decor and Fashion Designers in Maseru for your next clue.
Clue #3
Who can cut up a pattern?
One teammate will choose one of the complicated tribal Lesotho designs, and must find five pieces of fabric that match it perfectly. But be careful, the designs have miniscule differences between them. Once you’ve found all of your fabric, cut them at the directed places to receive your next clue.
Clue #4
Make your way to the Subeng River Dinosaur Footprints, where you will find seven tags, each releasing you at a time in the morning when you will receive your next clue.
Tags 1-2: departure at 7:00 AM
Tag 3: departure at 7:20 AM
Tag 4: departure at 7:40 AM
Tags 5-7: departure at 8:00 AM
Clue #5
Detour: Cave or Maze
Cave: For this challenge, go to Liphofung Cave. You must memorize all of the rock paintings in a specified section (15 paintings), and then run approximately a quarter-mile away and select the correct paper cutouts and put them in the right order as they were shown in the cave. When you have everything selected and ordered correctly, you’ll receive your next clue.
Maze: Make your way to the second largest dam in Africa, Katse Dam. Enter the first marked gallery and record the air temperature and the humidity. Use those observations to crack a complicated code, and enter the parallel gallery it directs you into. Be careful, it might be hard to find! If you enter the correct gallery, you will find a boat key, which you must give to the boatmaster. He will then give you a small ride around the reservoir and you’ll receive your next clue.
Clue #6
Drive yourself to Sani Stone Lodge for your next clue.
Clue #7
Help a local Basotho Shephard and their dogs move their sheep to a new grazing location. Don’t let the sheep get away! Once they’ve all been successfully moved, you’ll receive your next clue.
Clue #8
Make your way on foot to the pit-stop at Sani Top Chalet! The last team to check in may be eliminated!
Pit-Stop, Leg 7
-first: trip to Egypt
-last: non-elimination

LEG 8
Lesotho - Greece
Clue #1
Via Maseru International Airport, make your way to Athens, Greece, known to be the home of the first democracy! From there, make your way to the Theatre of Dionysus on The Acropolis, where you will take part in a U-Turn vote. The two teams with the most votes will be sentenced to an automatic U-Turn when they arrive at the detour. After the vote, teams will be given their next clue.
Clue #2
Fly to Chania, Greece on the island of Crete! Upon touching down, use the provided cars to make your way to the Agora and search for the marked stall.
Speed Bump, Leg 8
Together, team members must eat through a total of twelve Greek figs. Once all of the fruits have been stomached, that team can continue racing.
Clue #3
Detour: Traverse or Immerse
Traverse: Make your way to the Maritime Museum of Crete, and find the small yacht model outside the museum. Your goal is to remember as much as you can without writing it down, then make a half mile walk through the streets of Crete to the yacht harbor, where you must find a marked yacht and rearrange the items until it is just like it was in the model. Once the actual yacht matches the model, you’ll receive your next clue.
Immerse: Travel to Minoan’s World 3D Museum, and get treated to a five minute long “9D movie” on Cretan History which engages all of your senses. If you can answer all five questions correctly, you’ll receive your next clue. However, only two teams can participate in the show at once.
Clue #4
Drive to the Palace of Knossos for your next clue.
Clue #5
Use the provided map to navigate through the ruins, collecting puzzle pieces at each of the marked rooms. Once you have all ten bundles of pieces, head outside and recreate the large painting using the pieces you collected. Once it has been finished, you’ll receive your next clue.
Clue #6
Drive to Cretan Olive Oil Farm for your next clue.
Clue #7
Roadblock: Who is feeling oily?
In this challenge, one teammate will help in the process of creating olive oil. First, set up special tree-shaking equipment and a net, used to efficiently get olives out of the tree without bruising them. You will then sort the olives between bruised and fair. Finally, crush both bruised and fair olives with a traditional granite olive press. Once they have been successfully grinded into a paste, you’ll receive your next clue.
Clue #8
Find the pit-stop along the coast of the small village of Loutro back on the west side of Crete. You will soon discover, however, that the village is completely blocked off from the mainland by mountains, so you will have to find alternate transportation. Hurry, because the last team to arrive will be eliminated.
Pit-Stop, Leg 8
-first: trip to Austria
-last: eliminated

LEG 9
Greece
Clue #1
Fly back to the mainland in Thessaloniki! When you’ve arrived, search Aristotelous Square for your next clue.
Clue #2
Detour: Serve or Observe
Serve: For this detour head on foot to Bougatsa Giannis, a renowned restaurant in the Ladadika area. You must take the orders of twelve total people and retrieve the correct dishes for them from the kitchen. Each person also has a dessert, which must be retrieved from nearby pastry shop Trigona Elinidi. You may take notes, but if you mess up someone’s order, you must start it over again.
Observe: Go by taxi to the Thessaloniki Science Centre Technology Museum and make your way to the main planetarium. The night sky will be projected above, and will be moving around you at one hour of regular movement per second. Using the provided key, identify five Greek constellations first identified by Claudius Ptolemy- Orion, Ursa Major, Cassiopeia, Centaurus, and Perseus. Be careful, it might be dizzying! Once you’ve found all of the constellations, you’ll be rewarded with your next clue.
Clue #3
Find the Arch of Galerius for your next clue.
Clue #4 Use one of the marked cars to drive yourself for the rest of the leg. Go to the Thessaloniki Concert Hall for your next clue.
Clue #5
Roadblock: Who can blow a note and hold a tune?
Macedonian brass bands are extremely popular in the Macedonia region of Greece, so for this roadblock, learn how to play the trumpet, a popular instrument played in these bands. If you can play a few notes of the folk song with the band, you’ll get your next clue.
Clue #6
Drive to Dalamara Winery. Once there, follow the guide to the directed area, where you must load two empty kegs onto a horse drawn cart. Direct the horse approximately half a mile through the vineyard and return back to the kegs. You will continue to load and deliver a total of eight kegs to receive your next clue.
Clue #7
Drive to Ski Center Voras and take the lift to the top where Kajmakcalan, a chapel right on the border between Greece and North Macedonia is situated. The last team to arrive at this pit-stop may be eliminated.
Pit-Stop, Leg 9
-first: trip to Colombia
-last: eliminated

LEG 10
Greece - North Macedonia
Clue #1
Drive yourself across the border into North Macedonia to Popova Kula Winery! Once there, pull a tag that departs you at a certain time the next morning.
Tag 1: departure at 8:00 AM
Tag 2: departure at 8:10 AM
Tag 3: departure at 8:20 AM
Tags 4-5: departure at 8:30 AM
Clue #2
Roadblock: Who is a master chef?
The teammate doing this roadblock will use the provided recipe to cook the national dish of North Macedonia, Tavche Gravche, a special type of baked beans. If it is cooked to perfection, you’ll receive your next clue.
Clue #3
Drive yourself to the Millenium Cross in Skopje for your next clue.
Clue #4
Detour: Art Block or Charity Walk
Art Block: Drive to the Art Bridge, which is home to 29 statues of important Macedonian artists and musicians. Wandering on and around the bridge are 29 people dressed up as those artists and musicians. You must match nine total people to their statues. A maximum of three teams can complete this challenge.
Charity Walk: Drive to the Mother Teresa Memorial House and load a trolley cart with a marked group of items that will almost completely fill the trolley. On foot, travel to the SOS Children’s Village National Office where you are to deliver the items. If you do not choose this option, your items will still be donated after the leg.
Clue #5
Drive to the city of Struga, where the North Macedonian national anthem was created. Make your way to the Saint Archangel Michael Cave Church for your next clue.
Clue #6
Teammates must work together to memorize four total stanzas of the Macedonian national anthem- in Macedonian. If you can perform it with the orchestra without forgetting the lyrics, you’ll receive your clue to the next pit-stop.
Clue #7
Drive to the Monastery of St. Naum and the pit-stop! The last team to check in may be eliminated.
Pit-Stop, Leg 10
-first: trip to Indonesia
-last: eliminated

LEG 11
North Macedonia - Cuba
Clue #1
Make your way back to Skopje, then fly to Havana, Cuba, on two predetermined flights. Once there, go by taxi to Taller Calle 8, a car repair shop, where you will receive your next clue.
Flight 1 (2 teams): Skopje - Paris - Havana, arrives 6:30 AM
Flight 2 (2 teams): Skopje - London - Miami - Havana, arrives 7:10 AM
Clue #2
Roadblock: Who can fix it up?
The teammate doing this roadblock must follow the example to repair one of the classic Cuban cars. If it makes it past inspection, you’ll receive your next clue.
Clue #3
For the remainder of the leg, you’ll have to drive the car you just fixed. Head to Fusterlandia, where you’ll find your next clue.
Clue #4
Find where the attached image is in person throughout the folk neighborhood of Fusterlandia. If you can find where the image actually is and show the judge, you’ll receive your next clue.
Clue #5
Sell the Box or Find the Band
Sell the Box: Drive to Santa Maria del Mar Beach and sell the provided boxes of boxed rum, the “juice box for bug kids.” While never selling any box for under 25 Cuban Pesos, make 375 Cuban Pesos (around fifteen US dollars). Once you’ve made your sales, you’ll receive your next clue.
Find the Band: For this detour, drive to the Cuban Art Factory and observe the large, marked piece of sheet music in the first room. Going from room to room in the factory, try to find the band who is playing the music that was in the first room. You must make your guesses ten minutes apart, so be confident in your answers! Once you have chosen the right band, you’ll be rewarded with your next clue.
Clue #6
Drive to Vinales Valley Tobacco Field and search the marked area for your next clue.
Clue #7
Perfectly roll ten Cuban cigars, five per contestant. Watch the example closely, as any small mistake in rolling the tobacco leaf will cause the cigar to fail. Once all of the cigars have been perfectly rolled, you’ll receive your next clue.
Clue #8
Take a long drive to the eastern side of Cuba and the pit-stop at Ignacio Agramonte Park in Camaguey! The last team to check into the pit-stop will be eliminated.
Pit-Stop, Leg 11
-first: trip to Botswana
-last: eliminated

LEG 12
Cuba - USA
Clue #1
For the first part of this leg, you’ll be staying in Cuba! Drive yourself using the car you used in the last leg down Neptuno street in Havana, where you will find a guarapo stall with a flag.
Clue #2
Using the hand-press to crush sugarcane, make forty glasses of guarapo. Once all of the glasses have been successfully made, you’ll be handed your next clue.
Clue #3
Drive to the Tropicana Night Club for your next clue.
Clue #4
Roadblock: Who can make it and shake it?
For this challenge, one team member must follow the instructions of the costume designer to create a costume for one of the showgirls. If the costume is made correctly and given a pass, teams will be given their next clue.
Clue #5
Teams must drive to Aeropuerto de La Habana Ciudad Libertad, where you will embark on a charter flight to Key West, Florida, back in the United States. Once in Key West, teams must go to the southernmost point in the continental United States for their next clue.
Clue #6
Make your way to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, where you’ll find your next clue.
Clue #7
Roadblock: Who is a reader, a writer, and a decipherer?
Ernest Hemingway, known for books like The Old Man and the Sea, had a notoriously bad handwriting, with little regards to punctuation or accuracy. One team member must copy one of Hemingway’s notes perfectly, letter for letter, on the provided typewriter. If it was typed perfectly, you will be handed a decoder key which you can use to find the hidden message, which will reveal the location of your final challenge.
Answer: Smathers Beach
Clue #8
Now that you’ve made it to Smathers Beach, you’ll partake in a final challenge. Out in between the marked buoys are bundles of letter tiles. You must dive down to retrieve them and bring them back up to shore. Figure out what you’re supposed to spell out with them, and once you think you have the answer, hang the tiles in order on your clothesline. If you have the correct answer, you’ll be given the final clue.
Answer: United States, Japan, South Korea, India, Oman, South Africa, Lesotho, Greece, North Macedonia, Cuba, United States (teams must figure out that they have to spell out all of the countries they visited in order on the race)
Clue #9
Congratulations! Make your way to the final pit-stop at Fort Zachary Cruise Pier! Go, go, go, the first team to reach the pit-stop will win 1 MILLION dollars!
Pit-Stop, Leg 12
10 countries
4 continents
over 27,000 miles
first: 1 million dollars
submitted by theyummycookie to TheAmazingRace [link] [comments]

How to make Cyberpunk a better game than it already is

TLDR: Scroll to the end
What other people think we want
What we really want
submitted by makeUSAgreat to LowSodiumCyberpunk [link] [comments]

Comedy. Coming of age. : Young woman, early twenties -beautiful, heavier set, low in self-esteem- working as a waitress/mascot at a restaurant in Florida Keys?

Employers have her dress in a bulky crocodile or dragon costume making her even more of a klutz than usual (already naturally awkward, with poor eyesight) causing her to knock things over eventually leading to her accidentally burning down her place of employment. She attempts to find her power, started renting a charming little flat overlooking a tiny courtyard..A little mishap in her quest for self-empowerment, she gets a tattoo on her chest thinking the Chinese symbol she chose means..strength? dragon? beauty? (I don't remember) but really it meant something like extra hot sauce. There is an investigative journalist/reporter in the area for a story on a casino chain trying to buy off all the small businesses in this quaint town to open up their latest branch. Reporter's camera man's goes by pin cushion, his girlfriend's name is chipmunk..it was a funny book I had started years ago! Would love to finish. Very light read. For the life of me can't remember title, author, or main character's name.
submitted by alphayoyoalpha to whatsthatbook [link] [comments]

Proof that Dwight is the Scranton strangler

I have held the opinion that Dwight was the Scranton strangler for some time now, but I have never been able to convince anyone. Most people gravitate towards George Howard Skub, who is nothing but a copy cat. Or Toby, who is little more than an incompetent sad sack who couldn't crack the case, despite having an obsession with the scranton strangler, as well as detective work in general. Sorry Toby, but you worked 20 feet from the real Scranton strangler for years and still had no clue...
Anyways, these are some strong allegations, but I believe I can lay out enough definitive evidence that I can convince you, my jury, to convict Dwight K Schrute on multiple counts of murder in the first degree.
So let's begin the trial:
In the episode "Doomsday" Dwight is unwittingly helped by some of his coworkers to dig what he calls a "horse grave". But this doesn't make sense, we know from the episode "Niagra" that Dwight raises his horses for meat, turning them into hamburgers, and sliders. He wouldn't be burying them. So what was that "horse grave" really? Perhaps a place to dispose of one of his victims?
I think that's more likely considering in the episode "The Chump" we get this line from Dwight: "I don’t have $30,000 lying around. I have it buried very deeply, and I don’t want to dig past a certain someone to get it."
That is some interesting wording if you ask me. Go listen to how he says "certain someone" and notice that this isn't a normal grave, it's a "very deep" one... Now, if you're more clever then Toby you might have picked up on our second inconcistancy...
That's right. Dwight seems to imply he has some sort of issue digging up bodies. False. We know from the episode "Casino Night" that he has already dug up a body before. And that was just to get the Tux his grandfather was burried in. So why wouldn't he dig up a "certain someone" for a whopping $30,000? Because digging up this certain someone would risk his darkest secret coming out, and him spending the rest of his life in prison.
But what about George Howard Skub you ask? Nothing more than a copy cat. Dwight hints at as much in the episode "Viewing Party". Skub like many copy cats lives for the infamy. So when Toby threatened to take that away by suggesting his innocence, Skub strangles Toby. Out of both anger and fear.
So there's my case. I hope I have convinced you of Dwight's guilt. But before you deliberate I'll leave you with some more minor evidence.
-dwight strangles Kevin in the episode "New Leads"
-Dwight slaughters his chickens by strangling them. We learn this in the episode "costume contest" also in this episode Dwight dresses up as the scranton strangler as some sort of morbid joke with himself.
-there are literally dozen of references to dwight either strangling, or wanting to strangle people. I can't list them all, so I'll just leave the most damning one. In the episode "New boss" Dwight finds out there is no explicit rule against strangling at work. He get upset and remarks that he could have strangled so many people by now.
-in the episode "Doomsday's" the password to his Doomsday device is scrantonstrangler666.
-in the episode "Survivor Man" dwight shows his knowledge of body disposal with this line "First, I would remove your teeth and cut off your fingertips so you could not be identified"
-Finally, and probably most significantly GEORGE HOWARD SKUB is an anagram for DWIGHT IS THE STRANGLER.
...Ok, so that last one isn't true. But how cool would that have been?
Anyways what do you think, guilty or innocent? Seriously though, next time you watch the office, do it with this in mind and I swear it will be hard not to see Dwight as the strangler.
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lost story for /u/neolordie

thank you! this helps... seriously! it gives me some hope and feedback that i'm not completely nuts (if i'm asking the question, i'm probably safe... probably :), plus there's the off and odd chances that run wild sometimes.
i'm enjoying writing today, so please forgive me my liberties as i start to tell a story. some of it you inspired! i'm not done with it, but i enjoy it, and the act of writing is the ends and the means; this story is coming into existence because i am enjoying my play...
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// current tail. betwixt here and the footnotes seperator, there be unfinshed dragons. and that you heard the elevator version of that pitch waaay back, 5, maybe 6 years ago, before she was a notable cto giving a keynote address to a large and prestigious* ) vr gametech conference this one. ke back when there were 2 founders and a part time employee with a mohawk and studs in his head
run in to someone at a conference in a little out of the way bar where it's just a bit quieter and you can hear yourself think
 
├◉─◇───◇─ footnotes ──◇─◯◦─

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Dead Rising: Satire vs Parody

Fans of Resident Evil were more than happy to see Capcom come out with another zombie title that replaces tight hallways and puzzles with open-world exploration and a level-up system. The creation of Dead Rising, back in 2006, was a breath of fresh air that was surprisingly supposed to be a sequel to Shadow of Rome, which is a random gladiator game that pretty much nobody played but was something far ahead of its time. Fast forward about 10 years and 3 games later, and Dead Rising is as dead as the zombies that plague its mall, casinos, city, and mall again. Granted, the games changed from a Japanese studio to a Canadian studio after the first one was a smash hit and it was very visible that the second game was already of a different quality. However, once it hit 3, there was such a huge difference in the way the game functioned and played out, people outright refused to bother playing it(it didn’t help that it was an Xbox exclusive until the poorly optimized PC port came out).
When it comes down to the first installment being a goofy game that lets you dress as a little school girl and ride a tricycle while zombies are swatting at wasps and yellow raincoat cult members are blowing themselves up, it’s hard to imagine people complaining that the third and fourth game got too silly for their own good. What a lot of people don’t realize is how that is a legitimate concern from gamers, due to the situation that is what I like to call “invisible nuance”. This invisible nuance is where people are unable to understand how the games differ from 1 and 2 over to 3 and 4, and this is because 1 and 2 are satire, while 3 and 4 are parody. In fact, 4 is a parody of the entire series, making it a parody of a parody. With that slight nuance, the Canadian designers not only ruined the story for everyone, but they ruined any chance of a fifth game until Capcom gets so desperate they might as well summon up their own zombie horde to sit down and buy their games.
I understand that not many people understand the difference between parody and satire, and I am certain the developers didn’t either when they adopted the IP from the Japanese studio. This is why I believe that the second game was accidentally good, even though they still fumbled on things like making Chuck a really iffy kind of melee fighter at full level and how the game was starting to become a little bit too cartoony for its own good. To put it simply, satire is when a work of art is making fun a genre or work by being part of it. Parody is when a work of art is taking a genre or another work of art and is using it to make jokes that are unrelated to what it’s basing itself on. Satire uses humor to show flaws in human behavior or culture, while parody uses an established work of art to make a joke.
It’s very difficult to understand the difference, I know, but I think I’m able to make it simple to understand with a few examples. My favorite example is the difference between Scream and Scary Movie. Scream is satire, Scary Movie is a parody. Scream has a plot revolving around the tropes of slasher films, Scary Movie has a chick belittle her killer after she’s decapitated. Scream has the group follow clues from slasher movies to avoid being killed, Scary Movie has a dude cum so hard the girl on top of him is stuck to the ceiling.
If that doesn’t make the difference clear to you, then, I’m sorry, I fear you have the case of the brain worms.
The plot of Dead Rising is a satire of Resident Evil, mixed with a take on American consumerism. The entire reason the zombie outbreaks occur in the mall is because a terrorist group wanted to bring the problem a corporation invoked on their Latino town of Santa Cabeza, all because the company wanted to make more cows in order to feed Americans. It’s not that Americans are staring, but rather they are demanding, and the best place to see American demand back in 2006 was in a shopping mall on Black Friday. Shaun of the Dead did a similar satire moment where they showed shoppers at a store walking like zombies because that’s pretty much how they look, just switch the words “brains” with “bargains”. Surprisingly, the first game doesn’t have money as an issue, although it was great when the second game implemented it for its theme of corporate anti-culture and big pharma.
So far, we have two games that follow their themes very well and are applying them as a satire. The mall setting is a satire set up for consumerism, while the casino and wrestling ring strip in the second game is a satire set up for anti-culture turning people into greedy slobs that just want to watch blood matches and gamble. Even the main characters of Frank and Chuck work well as themes, with Frank being a journalist(he’s covered wars, you know) and Chuck being a motocross champion turned gladiator. Both of these cause their outbreaks for different reasons and both of these have a beautiful grip on what makes the psychopaths “psychopaths”.
Psychopaths are the result of someone going crazy due to the outbreak and because the designers needed a reason to have boss battles across the game’s 3-day span. Just having them there was satire since it’s kind of rare to see people going crazy in zombie movies (back then) and it was interesting to see how humans would turn on humans by having PTSD and a history of being oppressed or already psychotic. The idea of Frank covering wars and then coming home to deal with people having PTSD is a great theme, due to how war has to be glorified in the American news to keep the war effort going, and then the soldiers come home and reveal how terrible it actually was.
The first game even has a moment where a psychopath named Cliff goes crazy in a home repair store and after you defeat him, he gives a dramatic monologue about how he snapped the second he saw his granddaughter get eaten by zombies. It’s a heart-wrenching moment that is perfectly finished by Frank closing Cliff’s eyes with a hand and letting out a defeated sigh. Much like how it is in war, not every battle won is a victory. Then there are Psychopaths like Adam the clown who are memorable for the wonderful performance by the voice actor and how intense the battle is.
But no matter what Psychopath we deal with, they all follow a theme and an archetype. Adam is the Caino archetype clown, one who is miserable but desires others to laugh and enjoy themselves. This gets twisted into him tying people onto a thrill ride and juggling chainsaws for the sake of “amusement”. The grocery clerk, Steven Chapman, is the archetype of the perfect retail employee. His archetype is twisted into someone who shrieks at the top of his lungs for people to get out of his store and he sets up a shopping cart with pitchforks and blades on it. There’s even a cult leader in a movie theater to make reference to the “cult of personality” where people go to watch and indulge in pointless films to simply argue and create teams against each other about “what media is better than another” with none of them realizing that they are just blindly following propaganda that makes them feel good or powerful.
There’s a reason for these psychopaths to be there. They follow themes, they are archetypes, their actions relate to their themes, and even their settings fit their themes to create this deep experience that sticks with you, all while poking fun at the subject of consumerism. That is why people enjoy satire. The events are making fun of the major themes and subjects, all while being a part of those themes and subjects. The survivors are the same way, where you’re trying to save their lives and yet some of them worry more about food, when they are already fat, or they are found doing something they enjoyed in their normal life as if the zombie apocalypse is the perfect excuse to rush to escapism.
In the second game, they do the same thing with corporations and big pharma, and they use satire in a similar way but didn’t really tie their themes to either one. Instead, they tied their themes to job titles and employment. Ted Smith, the tiger tamer who looks like if Bobby Hill had a baby with a potato and fed it paint chips, becomes a Psychopath to treat the tiger he grew attached to. Antoine Thomas, the chef that is a bitch to kill, goes crazy trying to create the perfect dish with human flesh. Or is it zombie flesh?
Either way, once you meet the mailman with a shotgun who goes postal(yes, I went there, because the game went there), it’s easy to see that they are simply going crazy the same way the grocery clerk of the previous game went crazy. They had a job, they became that job, and they will die as that job. It’s kind of a way to talk about corporatism, but it’s also kind of not. This is why I think DR2 was starting to get messy with its themes and satire, because even though they were using satire to make fun of people who take their jobs too seriously, it’s not really part of the main theme, so it’s understandable why the Psychopaths are not as memorable. Strangely enough, the ones that are memorable are the ones who do fit the corporation theme, like the CURE terrorist who fights you with broken glass, and TK who serves as the main antagonist.
Zombrex, the entire reason the game happens, due to big pharma needing zombies to create queens, which allows them to make more zombrex, is the biggest aid in the main theme. Even if you kill TK, the outbreaks will continue, because they would need more zombrex, which requires more zombies, which then makes more people need more zombrex. I swear that theme was far too genius for its own good. Sadly, the only part of the gameplay that relates to it is going over to a pawn shop that is owned by a faceless entity to buy weapons and zombrex, and that’s about it. I guess you can count the “spend money to make money” mentality with gambling because the entire business practice is a gamble, but I’m not really sure if that’s intentional or if I’m just fishing for anything relevant.
To wrap up the satire segment, it’s kind of clear that the main idea behind the first 2 games, when it came to satire, was how the themes matched the events and the actions, as well as the humor. Anything goofy going on gameplay-wise is not part of the “world” that the story is setting up. You don’t craft weapons during a cutscene and it’s not like the game forces you to dress up like Megaman for a mission. Granted, there is the ability to be kidnapped by cultists in the first game and you wake up in a box in your underwear, but that’s still part of the gameplay, where it belongs.
Now… let’s talk about parody, and boy is this going to be a rant.
The third game is where everything goes downhill, story-wise. The idea of big pharma is gone, the idea of American consumerism is there accidentally, and the designers wanted to put a big emphasis on how combo weapons exist. You play as Nick Ramos, who is a mechanic and… that’s his entire character. While Frank was a big mouth pacifist who seeks the truth and Chuck was a hard-ass who wants safety for future generations, Nick is a clean slate who likes to scramble on the floor and awkwardly ask people why they’re killing people. Nick is no longer a character, but rather, a walking joke.
He’s nothing more than the voice of the director telling the audience what they should be thinking in order for their awkward scenes to work. His over the top expressions, as if he’s auditioning to play the dad from Son of the Mask, are what the director wants the player to do when a fat lady stabs a man with an oversized fork or when a MILF cop puts his hand on her fake tit. The idea isn’t that he’s a satire of the typical zombie hero, but rather a slapstick parody of what the player does during gameplay. It’s hard to imagine Nick being shocked at a few dead bodies, then quickly fly into action with a boxing glove that has an acetylene tank taped onto it. The amount of difference between cutscenes and gameplay is so extreme, we’re more inclined to skip Psychopath introductions because Nick doesn’t act like the character we’ve been playing as, but rather acts like a helpless survivor that wandered away from the safe house.
And before I go off on how the Psychopaths are like in the third game, I have to say that the idea of using the seven deadly sins was an okay idea. It’s not bad. I like themes that represent something. But what the hell does the seven deadly sins have to do with the theme of the story? I have to get into the main theme before I talk about the Psychopaths. While DR1 was about consumerism, and DR2 was about corporatism, DR3 flew way off-topic and decided to make a game about zombies discuss privacy and citizen rights.
Yeah… I’m not a genius when it comes down to zombie tropes, but what exactly does a Hispanic dude helping out a group who call themselves The Illegals have to do with the plot of a zombie outbreak? If anything, the plot is saying “these illegals are a risk because there are people who create outbreaks if they are not tracked” and then the gameplay says “you must save these people who risk more outbreaks because they want to do things their own way” with then the plot later going “hey, remember those illegals, you have to help them because this one chick is an illegal and she’s important for no real reason.”
Seriously, Annie, the major subplot out of like 5 different unrelated subplots, is Nick’s main objective in the beginning for no real reason. It’s never shown that they are dating, it’s never said she’s important to him, and it’s never said what Nick’s reason is other than “I have to find her”. This can only be concluded as a parody of how games give you missions for no reason. “Bring me 10 goat foreskins”. Why? I don’t know, but I’ll reward you with exp and gold.
These main characters have nothing to them except for Gary, who is a mobster who used to be a wrestler, which touches a fall from grace personality that makes him cocky in his ability but humble in his situation. Everyone else is no longer an archetype or even remotely relatable to a character we can point to any zombie media. Annie is a babydoll goth only by appearance, Rhonda is a pinup punk, Red is a beatnik. These aren’t personalities, they are costumes that follow a stereotype, and they didn’t even bother to include the stereotype. Instead, we get these empty husks that are ready to tell jokes instead of supporting the reason why they are there, to begin with.
Okay, I’ve delayed it long enough… It's time to talk about the Psychopaths.
We get seven major Psychopaths that fill out the seven sins: Lust is an S&M performer who you find in a porn shop, gluttony is a fat lady on a scooter you find in a buffet, greed is a surgeon who is collecting organs, sloth is a champagne socialist you find in his mansion, wrath is a zen monk in his garden, envy is a nerd on a yacht who tries to be like Nick, and pride is a female bodybuilder you find in a gym.
At first, from that alone, you can go “oh, that sounds good. The themes are in order, they don’t have much wrong with them, and they don’t conflict with their symbolism.”
That is because, on paper, they are almost flawless. But once executed and given dialogue, they are no longer satire. They become parodies of sins. The only ones that stay in their lane are the surgeon and the S&M gimp, and that’s because their personalities and roles are easy to make rather threatening and psychopathic. The rest of them become these over the top cartoon representations that fart a lot and make jokes like they’re Jim Carrey during the dream scene in Dumb and Dumber.
I swear, I’m not joking, two of them, sloth and gluttony, shit themselves when they die. Wrath, an old monk who’s gone mad and says “pretentious big brain Buddhist riddles” has his last word be “Seriously?!” after reminiscing about having a family. There’s nothing really about them that makes them sinners, other than how they set up jokes. Pride gets called “sir” by Nick, and it’s funny because she’s just a really buff chick with short hair, and Nick is supposed to be the player and Nick is a misgendering idiot. The rest of the Psychopaths, who are part of the main story, have very little to do with anything.
To put it plainly, the theme we’ve established with the concept of illegals and citizen rights and privacy, the only thing the main story Psychopaths relate to is that some of them are police officers and military officials. This is just a parody of the previous games, where they had two DHS agents try to find out what’s going on with you, and now the government is your biggest enemy because there is The Illegals organization and they are important and stuff. I don’t think I have to get into the subject of the illegal crisis the US has had since before Dead Rising was a thing, but, just so we’re clear, the bitten illegals are a parody of the immigration illegals.
They create an organization, they claim they just want to be safe and do things on their own, they want to stay off the grid, and then they have people like Red who go out of their way to destroy government property and we have people like Annie who has a father (Chuck Greene) who’s in charge of a mafia. I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a Spanish soap opera more than it sounds like a zombie game. Nothing about them is saying why they are illegal, or what the illegal status means to an outsider, or what the illegal status means to an insider. They say they are free and then they are held up in a shelter surrounded by zombies and they need Nick to save them.
Speaking of Nick, let’s talk about his tattoo.
Later on in the game, it’s revealed that Nick is part of an experiment where they had a bunch of children, who are immune to the virus but also carry it, go out into different places. The reason is kind of so that they can infect places, which is seen in an awful cutscene that is literally a museum of exposition, and it’s hinted that Nick or his friend Diego might have been the reason people were infected in their area, but it’s never really said. Instead, they drop that plot point and talk about how Nick is the cure.
So, the entire time we’re playing as Nick, we are shown that he’s useless in human interactions and is a weakling, but then now he’s the cure and the savior of the human race, as long as he can be taken away and studied. This is a parody of exactly what Frank West’s character went through in the first game, which was a hero’s journey.
You see, a hero’s journey, when applied with the Jungian form that Frank West had, is done right, you get a story that flows well and makes sense. Frank had the call of adventure towards the mall, he’s helped by the DHS agents, he gets mentors and helpers along the way, then he’s thrown into the abyss of the conspiracy, he changes from a journalist to a warrior of truth, he finds out he’s bitten and will soon turn, then he is granted the reward of finding a temporary cure with Isabella’s help. Near the end, he also encounters his shadow, who is a military commander. Frank is out to reveal the truth, while the military commander is out to conceal the truth. The battle challenges Frank’s beliefs of whether or not hiding such a big scoop is the right thing to do.
Nick’s journey is a parody of this, minus the shadow.
He starts off as useless, never really works for anything to happen, the entire story exists without him needing to be there, then near the end, they say “by the way, you’re important”, all for the story to say Nick is still not really that important and reveal that Isabella caused the outbreak so that Nick can reveal himself as someone who’s immune.
This isn’t a hero’s journey. It’s not even a journey. It’s a series of unfortunate events that reward Nick for absolutely no reason. He has to survive because he’s special, but he didn’t do anything to be special, other than magically be good at combining things, which… is something everyone else can do in this world. The best way I can say his character fits the theme is by saying “the cure to a bad situation is to have someone who can fix stuff”. Doesn’t that sound absolutely engaging?
Now, what about the fourth game? Is there anything else I really have to add to hammer in the idea that these two failures were accidental parodies? I guess I can say that the fourth game goes over consumerism, again, but leaves it at “hey, Christmas is a thing, right?” Nothing in the story really deals with the theme of consumerism because that game has the theme of freaking transhumanism. The main villain is a dude who’s a conscious zombie with robot armor and Frank West turns into a zombie, only to be turned back into a human. Frank turns into a rotting corpse… then he turns back into a fully functional human.
Trust me, that’s a parody. That’s just a joke with nothing funny attached to it, much like most of Frank’s dialogue in the fourth game. All he does is wisecracks and Uncharted-esque zingers. His personality is to wait for someone to give him material to make fun of and to have pointless arguments with Asian women. Even when I say the theme is about transhumanism, it really does just end at that. There are no more Psychopaths, they replaced them with maniacs. The maniacs are a parody of Psychopaths.
Characters like the Sadistic Claus and Captain Black Fridaybeard have nothing to do with the theme and they have nothing to do with reality. They are just there, wielding electric axes and ice swords because that’s how the designers wanted to reward the player for defeating an opponent that is easier than finding something to be disappointed within the game. Archetypes are more than just catchphrases, vernacular, and stereotypes. They have an actual purpose and theme that is carried out by their actions and desires because the most important part of an archetype is their specific desire.
When all the maniac simply desires is “kill everything” then they’re no different from a wandering zombie. They are reduced to a parody of what the psychopaths were. The story was reduced to a parody of the first game, with the theme even being parodied as “with consumerism, we can achieve transhumanism” as part of the plot. It’s basically saying, “you eat a lot and we end up with robo-zombies that talk.” Frank himself was reduced to a parody of Frank, with his charismatic journalistic archetype being replaced by Carrot Top and his bag o’ funny props.
At no point am I saying that parody is bad. To be honest, I love parody movies like Scary Movie, especially Scary Movie 2. However, when we want to make a game fun, and when it’s a game like Dead Rising, the jokes of said parody should make us actually laugh. It should try to make us amused, and that’s hard to do with a setting that’s also trying to take itself seriously at times. It’s like trying to enjoy a parody episode of Simpson’s Treehouse of Horrors and the entire time they play it off like it’s supposed to be serious. That serious tone is great for satire, but it’s just too out of place for parody.
Parody can exist within satire, but satire cannot exist within a parody. Satire relies on the themes of the subject to make the humor have its punch, while parody is simply a joke that uses a theme and subject as a platform to talk about something unrelated. I believe the designers who messed up on that little bit of nuance had the right intentions but didn’t have the right direction. If anything, nobody told them the first game was satire and the second game was kind of trying to copy the first game in approach and they lucked out by great observation. But the second they decided to try something else, they had no idea what the original plan was and went off into their presumed direction, parody.
It’s amazing how such a small mistake can cause such big problems, but let that be a lesson to you. The slightest misunderstanding you have of the art you try to mimic can cause the biggest differences in how people compare yours with the original source. There are things that stick with people and there are things that fall flat. The more you understand the established concepts that people enjoy, the better you’ll be able to please your audience and returning fans. If you don’t understand how the art was well received, and you go by “top trends of the previous year”, you’re going to make another Dead Rising 4.
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Love 365 Updates 2020/12/7 ~ 2020/12/13

All dates and times are in JST unless specified.

Released 12/7

Eden's Cage -Captivated by You- (Her Love in the Force - VIP Room Event ends 12/21) A Goto story with a movie, plus stories from Shinonome & Ishigami's perspective!
365 Scenes of Love Vol. 2 (VIP Room Event) ends today

Released 12/8

Mamoru: Our Pre-Nuptial Nightmare Part 2 (Kissed by the Baddest Bidder - Main Story) You're optimistic despite Mamoru's memory loss. However, your hopes are dashed when a woman named Setsuna appears, claiming to be Mamoru's fiancee. What is she trying to accomplish? Is Mamoru lying? When your twisted love triangle finally ends, the truth is revealed, and tears stream down your face.
One Night of Peace: Ishigami (Her Love in the Force - Special Story) Last Christmas, Ishigami had to work. This year, you should be able to enjoy it together! But then something unexpected happens and you end up making Ishigami wait around! When you eventually make it to join him, he has something wonderful waiting for you. "You think about what I want too much." What has been running through Ishigami's mind as he waits for you this winter night? Enjoy his perspective, too!
One Night of Peace: Soma (Her Love in the Force - Special Story) Soma's taking you to France for Christmas! You have to find a present, learn French, and buy some sexy lingerie! There's so much to do, but prep is half the fun! Once you get to Paris, you end up being taken away by the police?! "Seeing you smile is all I need." In a foreign country, you and Soma make some memories that will last a lifetime!
Classic Outfit Collection 2020 (VIP Room Event) ends today

Released 12/9

The Best of Friends Part 1: Kirisawa & Hanai & Tennoji (Metro PD Close to You - Special Story) The guys of 2nd Unit have been friends for nearly as long as they've worked together. They've been through it all, and know they can rely on one another in a pinch, whether that's at work or in your relationship. Now you can see their friendships from their perspectives!
The Best of Friends Part 2: Nomura & Yachigusa & Kyobashi (Metro PD Close to You - Special Story) Your relationship wouldn't be what it is today without the constant support of your unit. When danger strikes close to home though, it'll take the joint effort of your friends to solve the cases - which you'll be seeing from both their perspectives!
The Best of Friends Part 3: Asano & Kimura & Himuro (Metro PD Close to You - Special Story) Special Investigations 2nd Unit is a tight knit group that can always be counted on in a pinch. Despite having very different personalities, they don't mind helping out when there's trouble in paradise! In fact, being polar opposites comes in handy in matters of the heart. These are tales you can't afford to miss!
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Released 12/10

The Croc of Paradise saw it all! Yosuke the Mental Virgin (Kings of Paradise - Special Story) A voyeuristic cross-species love story from three unique perspectives, starring Pandora's top sex symbol and Taki's special lady: Sydney. One night, she's shocked to witness an intimate encounter between you and Yosuke. Find out what she makes of Yosuke's erotic antics and over-the-top affection.

Released 12/11

The story after you and Tengoku get together ~Sorry for being a virgin~ (Love's Hella Punk - VIP Room Event ends 12/25) This takes place after your happy ending. You can see everything a couple in love can go through right here. If you're not here to have your heart flutter and pound, then no looking for you!

Released 12/12

Dr. Santa: Ekuni & Takado (Romance MD: Always On Call - Special Story) This doctor will be your personal Santa for the day! Pair up with the guy of your choice and bring Christmas spirit throughout the hospital! Your night together with him won't end uneventfully.. Get ready to accept his sweet present to you!
To My Dear: A Merry Christmas (Era of Samurai Code of Love - VIP Room Event ends 12/26) [Revival] A Special Shinsengumi Christmas ♪ Snuggle up beside him on this snowy Christmas night ♡ A story of winter secrets

Released 12/13

Christmas Charity (Seduced in the Sleepless City - Special Story) It's Christmas Day, and you're at the casino to cover a charity event! You're navigating the party amongst a sea of press people when Yuzuki and Satsuki appear, dressed as Santa. A night with these high rollers promises twists and thrills. The best part? The boys may look dashing in suits, but tonight they show off the cutest costumes that you'll only see here!
Ravenous Amor (Seduced in the Sleepless City - VIP Room Event ends 12/27) [Revival] Surrender your body and soul to his love... ♡ Double feature of delectable stories with Ryoichi.
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Coastguard #9 - Those Whose Sins Mark Their Bodies

DCNext Proudly Presents…!

COASTGUARD

Issue #9: Those Whose Sins Mark Their Bodies

Written by Fortanono
Edited by dwright5252, AdamantAce
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≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈
Meet-and-greets were always Marc Silvera’s favorite part of the day. Back in his youth, he loved the thrill of heroism, the adrenaline that came with fighting against dangerous people and bringing them to justice. Now, it was much less about adrenaline as it was before; he got his enjoyment from knowing that he made others’ lives just a little bit safer, helping them sleep more easily. Luckily, Josiah Power’s booths in the Polynesia Resort’s cafeteria boiled that right down to a science.
Dan and Courtney would always get the most fans, considering that they ran their own media platforms at one point; Helga and Curtis would occasionally hang around his booth for the fans. Ray and Thunder each had their own devoted lines, with their fans from Tulsa and Metropolis often making pilgrimages to New Coast to visit them. The ceremonially empty booth to the left of Marc was there for Vibe, who had attracted a lot of people placing down flowers and mementos, paying their respects. It was still hard for Marc to believe that he was really gone.
Marc’s was always the shortest line. He knew why; for a long time, the second Commander Steel was a small-town urban legend whose existence was unconfirmed. The name was also associated with a military group that many disapproved of or outright loathed, Marc himself chief among them after all these years, who was a willing participant in it. Finally, there was the third reason: Commander Steel was not a welcoming figure to most. His helmet kept out any sign that he was even a human, which was no longer a valid assumption for superheroes. In a lot of ways, he understood why children would even be scared of him. He liked to pretend that this didn’t bother him, but he knew deep down that it did, just a little.
Even still, he did have several people who came over to meet him. A tall woman with red hair and excessive amounts of makeup walked up to him, her young son in tow. He couldn’t have been more than seven years old, Marc thought. He sat down on a wooden chair nearby and smiled behind his mask.
“Hello there,” Marc chuckled. “What’s your name, young man?”
“Collin,” he smiled, hiding his face in his hands, his dirty mop of red hair covering his eyes.
Marc laughed heartily, almost as if he were a mall Santa. He felt like the kids needed to know that he wasn’t as scary as he seemed behind the mask, and laughing was the best way of doing that. Collin couldn’t see how wide he was smiling behind the visage, the tear of joy running down one of his eyes. “Now Collin, why don’t you sit on my lap and we can take a picture together?”
“Yeah!” Collin said. “I love you, Commander Steel. I want to be a superhero like you when I grow up.”
“Oh, is that so?” Marc said joyfully, smiling as Collin climbed up into his lap. He hid a grimace; as much as he enjoyed the job, seeing someone so young determined to be someone who put their life on the line was very off-putting to him. The camera flashed, taking a picture of Collin with his hero, and Marc just let the moment rush over him.
“Remember to enjoy your stay at New Coast Polynesia Resort!” he called out behind them as they left the line. He always felt weird saying that, but Josiah told them to, and it wasn’t like he didn’t want them to have a fun vacation.
The next person moved forward in the line, a teenage boy wearing a camo button-down shirt. “Hey, Commander Steel,” he said gleefully. “You’re so awesome. It’s so cool that I get to meet you.”
Marc went through the rounds, but he wasn’t focused on the boy anymore. Instead, Marc stared transfixed as the next woman in line, a middle-aged Black woman with a short bob of shoulder-length grey hair, wearing a black dress with grey and blue accents. His stomach dropped as he finished up with the kid in camo, turning to the woman in front of him.
“Jenna,” he said, coming out as little more than a breath. He stood up from his chair. “Why are you here?”
“Trust me,” she said with her lips pursed. “I didn’t want to come just as much as you probably don’t want to see me. Something came up.”
Marc stared at her, not saying anything.
“Richards’ sentence is up,” Jenna muttered coldly. “I was hoping he’d changed, but he’s on a bus straight to New Coast. I just wanted to warn you and your team, knowing what he’s capable of.”
“Yes, of course,” Marc said as his former wife left the line. He turned to her and called out as she walked away. “Hey, hey, you have a fantastic rest of your life, whatever you’re doing.” She didn’t respond.
Marc turned to the next guest, his mind not fully there. As his experience with Jenna faded from his mind, he realized that something much worse was about to happen, and he had to warn the team about it.
≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈
“Okay,” Curtis said, his back against the wall of Room 103. The members of Coastguard were gathered in their costumes, having come back from the meet-and-greet minutes earlier. “A quick recap on the Phosphorus situation for Courtney: We’ve been able to take out some street-level guys who were peddling narcotics, but none of them claimed they had ever seen the man’s face. He apparently keeps very little company; only those he trusts ever see who he truly is.”
“By the way,” Anissa said, “Congrats to Courtney for the awesome work she’s done in Opal City! We’re starting to see headlines roll in, and it’s very impressive.” Immediately, everyone in the room around them began to clap and cheer, turning to Courtney who was sitting in her new red-and-green costume.
Courtney looked between her teammates and smiled. “Thanks guys,” she said. “It means a lot.” She turned to Curtis, her expression turning more serious. “Anything on ThirteenthFloor? That seemed like a really big deal when I left, but no mention of it so far.”
Curtis nodded. “Yeah, yeah, that’s a thing. Helga and I are working on reverse-engineering the tech in the buildings, but no results yet. Anyone else have pressing concerns?”
Helga raised her hand. “As you may recall,” she began, “Acrata managed to escape from New Coast after arrest. I recently received word that she may be returning to the city, planning something big. If you spot her, do not be light when apprehending her, and bring her to me as soon as you can.”
“Dammit,” Dan said. “I was hoping I’d never have to see her again. That fight kept me sore for days. We’ll be on the lookout if she returns.”
“Anything else?” Curtis asked.
Marc removed his mask and raised his hand slowly. “Yes,” he said meekly. “Unfortunately, there’s… someone else has shown up here. An old enemy. Curtis, bring up records for Mark Richards, also known as the Tattooed Man.”
Curtis turned to a nearby monitor and began searching the web. He pulled out a mugshot of a tall, bald man with a tattoo of a dragon coiled around the top of his head. On the side of one of his cheeks was another tattoo, a small piece that resembled a rose with a thorny stem. “This your guy?”
“Yes,” Marc said. He stood up and took a deep breath, addressing his teammates. “A long time ago, I lived in a small town in Maryland called Liberty Hill. Standard small-town fare; most of the criminals were just normal people who had a bad run. This man was different. He showed up, and within months he had killed any gang members who didn’t work for him. With every man he murdered, he got a new tattoo, and these weren’t ordinary tattoos. They gave him powers, and every time I fought him he had a new trick up his sleeve.”
He sighed and paused before continuing. “I became obsessed with him. It was unhealthy, and it cost me my marriage. Finally, 15 years ago, I caught him. He served his time, and now it seems like he’s come back for revenge. I'd like to humbly request your help in finding him and making sure he doesn't cause further harm. Mark Richards is incredibly dangerous, and we need to treat any encounter we have with him with utmost caution. He will kill us if we don’t.”
The room fell silent for a few seconds before Curtis broke the silence. “Okay,” he said. “The Tattooed Man, Public Enemy Number One. Don’t worry, Marc; we will make sure that we stop him before he can hurt us.”
≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈
Mark Richards knocked on the door of a townhouse in what looked like any other upscale neighborhood. This development was designed by one of Josiah Power’s friends, he had remembered, but it had never seen use as the designer’s company went down for fraud several months ago. Even though it looked like an ordinary housing development, a far cry from the tourist trap in New Coast’s city center, it was also the home of many of New Coast’s more sinister elements. With the development never having been in use, it was the perfect place for shadowy figures to hide in such a bright city.
The skull on Mark’s forearm sensed some sort of danger. Mark willed it to be quiet as a young woman, tall and lanky with blonde hair and blue accents, opened the door. She seemed to have a lot of tattoos herself. “Wow,” she said, staring at him up and down. “I’m going to need the name of your inker. That is some good art.”
“I’ve had a lot of inkers,” Mark chuckled. “My first tattoo was from a slave-driver in Moldora. The second one was from a serial killer. I tend to get them from the worst of the worst, and it pays off.”
“Ooh, nice,” she said. “I take it you’re here to see the big man? I’m sure he’ll be glad to see you. You should hope so, at least.”
Mark nodded. “I believe we already had an appointment scheduled.”
“You are correct,” she laughed. “He's been talking about you all day.”
Mark walked into the house and down the corridor to a room at the end. If an ordinary homeowner lived here, the room he entered would probably be furnished as a dining room, possibly as a playroom for their children. However, the New Coast crime lord that lived here had turned the room into a sort of makeshift casino; slot machines padded the sides of the walls while a poker table served as the room’s centerpiece.
In the far corner were two couches, on one of which sat the man Mark presumed to be Phosphorus. He looked young and arrogant at first glance, reminding Mark of a cocky kid who thought he could run a business back in Liberty Hill, but who would always fall to Mark in the end. The heart tattoo on the left side of Mark’s chest came from him; his sins were driven by his heart rather than his brain, and that’s why Mark had defeated him. It was a fitting tattoo to remember him by. The major difference between Phosphorus and that kid was abundantly clear, though. Phosphorus wore an unbuttoned white jacket with no shirt; across his chest and extending down his left arm, his skin glowed a brilliant red-orange. Underneath the glow, Mark could see his ribcage, lit up by the man’s special ability.
“Heh, on time I see,” Phosphorus chuckled. “I knew I could count on you.”
Mark took a seat on the couch across from the crime lord. “Of course,” he said. “This business is always about impressions, and I’ve come to know that that means dependability as well as fear. Meet your opponents first, before you destroy them. And I believe that in a couple of months, I may have to destroy you.
“So it’s true then,” Phosphorus said. “You’re gonna hang around a while? That’s unfortunate. Oh well.”
“Nice to meet you. I’d shake your hand, but I’ve been told that’s not really a good idea.” Mark stretched out on the couch, throwing his arms behind his back. “So you’re the Phosphorus, huh? I expected someone a little older to have been behind the work you’ve done. It’s impressive.”
“Call me Alec,” Phosphorus said. He paused for a second. “I’m old enough. Besides, I’ve got a damn good reason why I’m doing this. Pardon the wordplay, but it’s a fire in my heart, so to speak, y’know? A drive.”
Before Mark could respond, Alec’s breathing started tensing up. He turned his head to the doorway of the room. “Melanie! Food!” he shouted. The blonde woman from before quickly came over with a man in a suit, tied up and restrained. She dropped him at Alec’s feet before leaving, not saying a single word.
The man’s expression turned frantic. “No, wait, please. Do anything. Ta--take my kids, instead. My wife. I can help you!” He was quickly shut up by Alec’s searing-hot left hand on his mouth, as the man quickly vaporized into thin air. Only a skeleton remained of where he was once standing.
“Wow,” Mark said, shaking his head. “That is impressive, I have to say. Not exactly a good dude there, either. Guess you know how to pick ‘em.”
“Yeah,” Alec laughed. “I only eat the rich types, people who have no spine or soul. That, and people who disappoint me, of course.” Alec paused for a second. “You know, I never wanted to be a criminal. I started this because I had to; if I don’t feed, I’ll die, and feeding ain’t exactly something you want to do in the open. But now? I’d say it feels pretty good. Not perfect, y’know? But it’s getting there.”
Mark nodded. “I get it, I really do. You know, you and I have the same power, so to speak.”
Alec gave him a confused look.
Mark cleared his throat. “I was on deployment in Moldora several years ago. I was a young soldier, about your age, and I had just killed a few men for the first time. Every day, their voices screamed in my head. So we were taking down this horrible waste of a human being; he had enslaved thousands of men, women and children to work for the worst kind of people. And the night before the raid, I asked him how he did it. That man showed me the art of sin-grafting; for every sin he committed, he added just a bit more ink to his body. He kept the memories of those he killed in the tattoos. Well, I thought it was bullshit, but then he tattooed this dragon onto me.” He pointed at his first and favorite tattoo, the dragon that coiled around his bald head.
“From that day on, whenever I kill someone, I tattoo myself with something to remind me of them. And I always use this special ink, which gives the tattoo life. Power. Doesn’t make it right, but it makes it damn near worth it. Now you, you have to kill people to live. I dunno how you got into that predicament, but you realized the same thing I did. If you get power from your sins, then it’s more than worth committing them, don’tcha think?”
Alec’s expression soured. “I think you’re fucking wrong about me,” he said. He stood up, towering over Mark. The skull on his shoulder sensed that he was in an incredible amount of danger. Mark said nothing; he wanted to see where this would go.
“I’m not a monster,” Alec huffed. “I was a good kid who wanted to do the right thing, and this bitch made me into who I am now. And my father just lets her stay by his side. He doesn’t notice shit. He doesn’t realize who that woman is. And so I’m here to fucking destroy the city he’s created, to burn it down to the bedrock on which it stands.”
Mark raised an eyebrow. “Your father is Josiah Power? I see it. I think you’ll realize you’re a lot more like him than you imagine.”
Alec lunged at Mark, nearly putting a hand on him. Acting quickly, Mark summoned the dragon from the tattoo on his head. Immediately, the ink turned into a violet energy construct of a serpent, lunging forward at Alec and releasing a sonic blast. Alec flew across the room, landing among the slot machines on the other wall.
“See, you’ve got this terrifying power,” Mark chided. “But I got so many years on you it’s hard to imagine. That, Alec, is why I will take this city.”
Alec writhed in pain as Mark stood over him and left. This was not the pain he felt when he hadn’t fed in a while, nor was it the pain he felt from Mark knocking him into the wall. No, this was omnipresent, coating every nerve of his body like it did when he was hungry, but ten times stronger. He cried out, bringing himself to his feet and stumbling out the door of the room. He had someone he needed to see.
≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈
“Help,” Alec gulped, grabbing Helga’s wrist in the hallway of the New Coast Polynesia Resort. He was wearing gloves, of course; he couldn’t let anyone else know about his abilities. Nearly collapsing, Alec straightened himself using Helga’s body as a support.
“Alec,” Helga said, faking a smile. “You know, you are the last person I expected to see today. I have to say, I am very impressed with what you’ve managed to accomplish with your abilities. Seems like they’re treating you better than I had expected.” She paused for a second, looking around for bystanders. There were none. “Come into Room 104 with me, and we can talk. I don’t want to have to do to any others what I did to you.”
The two of them walked further down the hall, entering Helga’s personal lab as Helga closed the door behind him. It was just as pristine, Alec thought, as the one Helga had imprisoned him in, although it was considerably smaller. Alec had only seen the inside of this lab from the small glimpse he had gotten when he had asked Helga to help save the day. The worst mistake of his life, Alec thought. He cared about his father for one moment, wanted to help save his life, and it cost him gravely.
“I take it you have questions about your newfound powers?” Helga turned to the door and latched it shut. “Don’t worry; I’ve soundproofed the room much better since our last encounter. I could yell at the top of my lungs that you were Phosphorus, and Curtis in the next room wouldn’t do so much as to look up from his computer.”
Alec nodded. “You said that this power would kill me. Everything’s starting to hurt like a bitch; I fed on my way here and it didn’t help. I need answers.”
“Well,” Helga said, “I wish I could give you all the answers you need. Primer is a very imprecise science, and it reacts differently for every person that it works on. That being said, none of the powers triggered by your specific primer have killed anyone in less than 6 months. Trust me when I say I’ve done extensive research on this one.”
Alec winced. He imagined Helga Jace, the kind hearted TV personality dedicated to treating people with metahuman conditions, giving hundreds of people the same treatment he had. It made so little sense, but with what he had seen of Helga in the past few months, it still fit perfectly.
Helga continued as Alec sat himself down on a nearby hospital bed draped in thin paper. “That being said, any sort of pain you might experience is par for the course, and none of it is a sign of your impending death. Most of it will make you want to die, but you’ll be fine for several more months at least. Now, unfortunately, I still have work to do that my team can’t know about, so curing you would not benefit me. But so far, you’ve been exemplary in your discretion about these matters. Not to mention the immense distraction you’re providing for them; they barely have time to think about anything I’m doing.”
Alec nodded. He resisted attacking Helga outright, as he knew she was his only chance at salvation. That did not mean that he wasn’t ready to do so. Instead, he looked her in the eyes and weakly spoke. “Will this new pain go away?”
“Hard to tell. I could help run some tests, but as hard as it may seem to imagine, I don’t know everything about every power that comes my way. Most likely, though, there will be high points and low points, as there are with every disease. I can tell from your demeanor, for example, that you’re feeling significantly less pain than when you literally grabbed me, even if it doesn’t feel that way. By the way, don’t scare an old lady like that, especially with your specific ability.” Helga chuckled wildly. Alec felt sick to his stomach, even though these past few months had hardened him. This, he thought, was what true monsters looked like.
“Fine,” Alec said, standing up. “You know what? I don’t need any more help. I got money, I got power, I got ladies, and it’s all because of your experiment. When the power does start to kill me, I’ll be here. But until then, I’m not coming through this door again.”
Alec left Room 104 and began to leave the hotel. Helga was right; as he got up, the pain had begun to fade. After a few seconds, it had all but disappeared for the time being. He got to the lobby, where he immediately noticed a new complication. Josiah Power, his father, was standing over the desk, talking to the receptionist. Before he could turn the other way, he saw Alec standing there. He fell silent, his gaze softening.
“Alec,” he muttered, coming closer. “I thought… I thought you left the city.”
The rage that Alec felt that first night in the hotel began to bubble up again, but he kept it down. “Hey, Dad. Yeah, I was gone for a while, but I’m… I couldn’t leave.” He paused, considering his next words carefully. “I think I’m ready to talk to you again.”
“That’s fantastic,” Josiah smiled. “Take your time; you don’t owe me anything. But if you want, maybe we could get dinner sometime?”
Alec nodded. “I think I’d like that.” It was a lie, he told himself; he had to come up with something on the spot. But it worked in his favor; if he had a relationship with his father again, the betrayal would be much sweeter when he got to that point. He couldn’t wait to see Josiah’s face as he realized who he truly was. But that had to wait.
As he left the lobby, he smiled. The pain may come back, but those who deserved it would also feel his pain in due time.
≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈
”Alright,” Curtis said through his microphone. ”We’ve spotted the Tattooed Man in Kim’s area. Anyone currently in the field, converge on 44th Street and H. We need to take him down sooner than later.”
“Got it,” Ray said, hovering high above Josiah’s central shopping district in New Coast before taking off due west. Below him, Thunder, Blue Devil and Commander Steel patrolled the streets; each of them began to make their way to the location in question through a series of Dan’s portals. As he arrived on location, Ray began to take in the sites around him.
The area of the city that one of Josiah’s associates, Terrence Kim, developed felt much more like a normal city than a theme park. That said, it still felt like a theme park, if only because of how sleek and untouched the buildings were. Towering white-and-blue skyscrapers surrounded the wide streets of this area, with tropical foliage in planter boxes along the sidewalks. Palm trees dotted the curbsides, which featured parking spaces where the cars would face the curb. What took Ray by surprise the most, however, was how empty this part was. Not all of Kim’s territory was available to the public yet; only the bare minimum was completed.
Ray landed on the street as Dan, Anissa and Marc portalled in behind him. Several blocks ahead of them, the Tattooed Man was smoking a cigar. He quickly noticed them and put it out before turning to them.
The Tattooed Man let out a hearty chuckle as he took a few steps forward. “Well, well, well. You finally found me. Hey Marc, how’s the missus doing? You know, I could tell that she was stalking me when I got out. I served my time, why do I need to get harassed for what I’ve already done?”
“Seems like it was well worth it,” Commander Steel said. “Considering where you ended up, Mark, you can’t take the high ground here..”
“This small talk was never my favorite part. Let’s get this over with.” Two violet wings of energy sprouted from the Tattooed Man’s back, allowing him to tower over the other heroes. Ray immediately met him in the sky. From a sword tattoo on his left arm, he summoned a blade of energy that he immediately gripped with both hands before charging at Ray.
Ray dodged the Tattooed Man’s first attack, responding with a barrage of light blasts. From the ground, Commander Steel fired his own bolts of energy from the wrist-cannons Helga had designed for him. The sword dissolved and was replaced by a shield that grew from a small tattoo on the back of the criminal’s left hand. For several seconds, the Tattooed Man sustained the heroes’ continuous fire, but it was interrupted when the Blue Devil portalled onto the shield and began punching at it over and over again. The Tattooed Man dissolved the shield and dived out of the way, flying higher to avoid further attacks. Ray chased after him and Dan portalled himself back onto the ground.
“Now this, this is fun,” the villain chuckled to himself. “Marc, why couldn’t you learn to fly, or build some glider or something? Sky battles are awesome!” The dragon on the top of the Tattooed Man’s head came loose, chasing after Ray. He fired out a concentrated beam of light while flying away, but the dragon kept going. Before he could stop it, the dragon screamed, letting loose a powerful high-pitched sound, and Ray fell to the floor.
The Tattooed Man landed on the ground, his wings dissolving as he stood over the fallen hero. “Now this will be a fun one to ink. I wonder, how should I remember you by? I’d do a lightbulb, but I don’t think you’re that bright to begin with.”
A bolt of energy from Marc’s cannon stopped the villain from finishing Ray off, hitting his right shoulder and making him turn to the other heroes. Thunder leapt up onto the side of a nearby high-rise, tackling the criminal from behind as he was distracted. She began to force a pair of handcuffs onto him, but the Tattooed Man quickly summoned his wings again, knocking Thunder down as he turned to the skies.
The lightning tattoo on the villain’s right arm began to let out a violet glow. From the skies, he fired powerful beams of lightning. The first hit Anissa, knocking her down; the second and third were fired at Commander Steel. A metal shield expanded from the hero’s own right arm, protecting him. As the Tattooed Man flew down, a portal from the Blue Devil intercepted him and brought him face-to-face with the two heroes left standing.
The Tattooed Man readied another bolt, knocking Dan clean out. “Now,” he chided, “it’s just the two of us. Like old times, isn’t it?” He resummoned the sword and began exchanging blows with the soldier. Commander Steel quickly discharged another energy blast, which knocked the Tattooed Man a few steps backwards as he began to charge up another lightning bolt.
He stopped. The skull tattoo on his shoulder began to sense another presence nearby.
From above, another hero flew down, clad in a pristine silver costume with glowing accents. In the center was the letter “T” in a circle, clearly the symbol of the hero Mister Terrific. He glided on what looked like two green glowing disks that appeared to be made of pure energy. He looked down at some sort of holographic console emanating from his wrist. The Tattooed Man quickly recognized that this must be the Blue Devil’s associate, the one who once worked for Mister Terrific. The villain was used to recognizing Commander Steel’s body language, even behind that mask of his, and he knew that his enemy was just as surprised as he was.
The new hero’s drones quickly surrounded the Tattooed Man, opening fire with green laser-blasts all around him. The Tattooed Man couldn’t take it, and quickly fell unconscious himself.
”Hey,” Curtis said as he flew down. ”I noticed you needed help.”
≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈
“So, wait,” Ray began to say as the heroes converged in Room 103. Helga had just finished performing medical care on the three members of Coastguard who were knocked out during the battle, and they were now calling a meeting to discuss what had happened. “You’re--you’re a hero now? When?”
Curtis nodded. “Not always; I’ll be on comms for a lot of the time. But when you guys need it, Helga and I developed this suit. I’ll be calling myself the Technocrat.”
“Cool,” Ray said. He poked at the Technocrat suit, which was standing up in the corner of the room, connected to a charger.
“I’d have to disagree,” Anissa said. “Curtis, you’re incredibly important to us. We can’t risk something happening to you.”
Curtis nodded. “Well, unfortunately, it’s not really your choice. I’ll make extra sure to choose my battles; don’t worry. But it’s important to me that you are all safe. The Tattooed Man would’ve killed all of you if I hadn’t come out there. And with Courtney in Opal half the time and Cisco… you know… we need more hands on deck.”
“He would’ve killed you, too, if he had known you were coming,” Anissa remarked. “And now, everyone who comes to New Coast will know about you. Nothing’s changed; you just had the element of surprise this time.”
Dan, who was sitting in the corner, finally spoke up. “Look,” he said. “I get why you’re worried, Anissa, I really do. I’m worried, too; like, really terrified outta my mind that my friend’s gonna get hurt doing this. But if there’s someone who can pull off this stuff, it’s Curtis. I wouldn’t try and stop him, either; he’s a very stubborn man.”
“Alright,” Anissa huffed. “But I’m not gonna like it.”
“The only question,” Marc laughed, “is what flavor of ice cream he’s gonna be. I can’t think of any grey ice-creams.”
“That’s for Josiah to figure out,” Curtis smiled. “If I had to pick? Probably mint chocolate-chip. All of your weird fruit flavors are upsetting to the palate.”
Everyone laughed around them, except for Anissa. It still didn’t feel right for Curtis to be going out there, and she knew that feeling wouldn’t change. But they were right; she had to deal with it.
≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈
Mark Richards woke up. His surroundings didn’t feel familiar, but they clearly weren’t any sort of prison. The building he found himself in was some sort of makeshift cabin made of wood. He was tied to a wooden chair on a grass floor. He looked at the ceiling; above him, the panels of wood were ornately painted in patterns of green and silver.
“Where am I?” he asked, dazed.
A man walked over to him in a red-and-brown robe. Draped over him was a green cape decorated with one glowing red gemstone on it. The first thing Mark noticed about his face was his two piercing green eyes, which seemed to see into his soul.
“Greetings, Mark,” the man said. “I know you have many questions, but trust me when I say I am not an enemy.”
Mark chuckled dryly. “When I’m tied to a chair like this, that’s usually hard to imagine.”
“We both know that those bindings would not hold you if you did not want them to,” the man said in a monotone voice. “We simply had to restrain you, as you tended to flail around when unconscious.” He walked over to Mark and untied the knots that kept him tied to the chair. “My name is Samuel, and we have the same goals: to destroy Coastguard and to rule New Coast City. I am gathering people close to the Coastguard, people with vendettas against their members. You fit these criteria easily; another one of these people has already been clamoring to meet you.”
A tall, thin man with pale skin and dark hair walked over to him. He wore a suit and tie that had clearly been hastily put on. Mark stood up and shook his hand.
“Hi,” he smiled, speaking in a nasal voice. “Michael Clarion, occultist extraordinaire. Pleased to meet you. I also just got out of prison. Now, I have a lot of questions about your tattoos. They are mystical in origin, correct? I’m very interested to discuss the finer points of this with you.”
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