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Angélica Gorodischer - Three Stories [Translated by Lorraine Elena Roses and Marian Womack]
The Resurrection of the Flesh [Tr by Roses]
These first two tales published in Secret Weavers: Stories of the Fantastic by Women Writers of Argentina and Chile, edited by Marjorie Agosin (White Pine Press, 1992):
She was thirty-two, her name was Aurelia, and she had been married eleven years. One Saturday afternoon, she looked through the kitchen window at the garden and saw the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Men of the world, those four horsemen of the Apocalypse. And good-looking. The first from the left was riding a sorrel horse with a dark mane. He was wearing white breeches, black boots, a crimson jacket, and a yellow fez with black pompoms. The second one had a sleeveless tunic overlaid with gold and violet and was barefoot. He was riding on the back of a plump dolphin. The third one had a respectable, black beard, trimmed at right angles. He had donned a gray Prince of Wales suit, white shirt, blue tie and carried a black leather portfolio. He was seated on a folding chair belted to the back of white-haired dromedary. The fourth one made Aurelia smile and realize that they were smiling at her. He was riding a black and gold Harley-Davidson 1200 and was wearing a white helmet and dark goggles and had long, straight, blond hair flying in the wind behind him. The four were riding in the garden without moving from the spot. They rode and smiled at her and she watched them through the kitchen window. In that manner, she finished washing the two teacups, took off her apron, arranged her hair and went to the living room. "I saw the four horsemen of the Apocalypse in the garden," she told her husband. "I'll bet," he said without raising his eyes from his paper. "What are you reading?" Aurelia asked. "Hmmm?" "I said they were given a crown and a sword and a balance and power." "Oh, right," said her husband. And after that a week went by as all weeks do--very slowly at first and very quickly toward the end--and on Sunday morning, while she made the coffee, she again saw the four horsemen of the Apocalypse in the garden, but when she went back to the bedroom she didn't say anything to her husband. The third time she saw them, one Wednesday, alone, in the afternoon, she stood looking at them for a half hour and finally, since she had always wanted to fly in a yellow and red dirigible; and since she had dreamed about being an opera singer, an emperor's lover, a co-pilot to Icarus; since she would have liked to scale black cliffs, laugh at cannibals, traverse the jungles on elephants with purple trappings, seize with her hands the diamonds that lay hidden in mines, preside in the nude over a parade of nocturnal monsters, live under water, domesticate spiders, torture the powerful of the earth, rob trains in the tunnels of the Alps, set palaces on fire, lie in the dark with beggars, climb on the bridges of all the ships in the world; finally--since it was sadly sterile to be a rational and healthy adult--finally, that Wednesday afternoon alone, she put on the long dress she had worn at the last New Year's party given by the company where her husband was assistant sales manager and went out to the garden. The four horsemen of the Apocalypse called her, the blond one on the Harley-Davidson gave her his hand and helped her up onto the seat behind him, and there they went, all five, raging into the storm and singing. Two days later her husband gave in to family pressure and reported the disappearance of his wife. "Moral: madness is a flower aflame," said the narrator. Or in other words, it's impossible to inflame the dead, cold, viscous, useless, and sinful ashes of common sense.
The Perfect Married Woman
If you meet her on the street, cross quickly to the other side and quicken your pace. She’s a dangerous lady. She’s about forty or forty-five, has one married daughter and a son working in San Nicolas; her husband’s a sheet-metal worker. She rises very early, sweeps the sidewalk, sees her husband off, cleans, does the wash, shops, cooks. After lunch she watches television, sews or knits, irons twice a week, and at night goes to bed late. On Saturdays she does a general cleaning and washes windows and waxes the floors. On Sunday mornings she washes the clothes her son brings home—his name is Nestor Eduardo—she kneads dough for noodles or ravioli, and in the afternoon either her sister-inlaw comes to visit or she goes to her daughter’s house. It’s been a long time since she’s been to the movies, but she reads TV Guide and the police report in the newspaper. Her eyes are dark and her hands are rough and her hair is starting to go gray. She catches cold frequently and keeps a photo album in a dresser drawer along with a black crepe dress with lace collar and cuffs. Her mother never hit her. But when she was six, she got a spanking for coloring on a door, and she had to wash it off with a wet rag. While she was doing it, she thought about doors, all doors, and decided that they were very dumb because they always led to the same places. And the one she was cleaning was definitely the dumbest of all, the one that led to her parents’ bedroom. She opened the door and then it didn’t go to her parents’ bedroom but to the Gobi desert. She wasn’t surprised that she knew it was the Gobi desert even though they hadn’t even taught her in school where Mongolia was and neither she nor her mother nor her grandmother had ever heard of Nan Shan or Khangai Nuru. She stepped through the door, bent over to scratch the yellowish grit and saw that there was no one, nothing, and the hot wind tousled her hair, so she went back through the open door, closed it and kept on cleaning. And when she finished, her mother grumbled a little more and told her to wash the rag and take the broom to sweep up that sand and clean her shoes. That day she modified her hasty judgment about doors, though not completely, at least not until she understood what was going on. What had been going on all her life and up until today was that from time to time doors behaved satisfactorily, though in general they were still acting dumb and leading to dining rooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, bedrooms and offices even in the best of circumstances. But two months after the desert, for example, the door that every day led to the bath opened onto the workshop of a bearded man dressed in a long uniform, pointed shoes, and a cap that tilted on one side of his head. The old man’s back was turned as he took something out of a highboy with many small drawers behind a very strange, large wooden machine with a giant steering wheel and screw, in the midst of cold air and an acrid smell. When he turned around and saw her he began to shout at her in a language she didn’t understand. She stuck out her tongue, dashed out the door, closed it, opened it again, went into the bathroom and washed her hands for lunch. Again, after lunch, many years later, she opened the door of her room and walked into a battlefield. She dipped her hands in the blood of the wounded and dead and pulled from the neck of a cadaver a crucifix that she wore for a long time under high-necked blouses or dresses without plunging necklines. She now keeps it in a tin box underneath the nightgowns with a brooch, a pair of earrings and a broken wristwatch that used to belong to her mother-in-law. In the same way, involuntarily and by chance, she visited three monasteries, seven libraries, and the highest mountains in the world, and who knows how many theaters, cathedrals, jungles, refrigeration plants, dens of vice, universities, brothels, forests, stores, submarines, hotels, trenches, islands, factories, palaces, hovels, towers and hell. She’s lost count and doesn’t care; any door could lead anywhere and that has the same value as the thickness of the ravioli dough, her mother’s death, and the life crises that she sees on TV and reads about in TV Guide. Not long ago she took her daughter to the doctor, and seeing the closed door of a bathroom in the clinic, she smiled. She wasn’t sure because she can never be sure, but she got up and went to the bathroom. However, it was a bathroom; at least there was a nude man in a bathtub full of water. It was all very large, with a high ceiling, marble floor and decorations hanging from the closed windows. The man seemed to be asleep in his white bathtub, short but deep, and she saw a razor on a wrought iron table with feet decorated with iron flowers and leaves and ending in lion’s paws, a razor, a mirror, a curling iron, towels, a box of talcum powder and an earthen bowl with water. She approached on tiptoe, retrieved the razor, tiptoed over to the sleeping man in the tub and beheaded him. She threw the razor on the floor and rinsed her hands in the lukewarm bathtub water. She turned around when she reached the clinic corridor and spied a girl going into the bathroom through the other door. Her daughter looked at her. “That was quick.” “The toilet was broken,” she answered. A few days afterward, she beheaded another man in a blue tent at night. That man and a woman were sleeping mostly uncovered by the blankets of a low, king-size bed, and the wind beat around the tent and slanted the flames of the oil lamps. Beyond it there would be another camp, soldiers, animals, sweat, manure, orders and weapons. But inside there was a sword by the leather and metal uniforms, and with it she cut off the head of the bearded man. The woman stirred and opened her eyes as she went out the door on her way back to the patio that she had been mopping. On Monday and Thursday afternoons, when she irons shirt collars, she thinks of the slit necks and the blood, and she waits. If it’s summer she goes out to sweep a little after putting away the clothing and until her husband arrives. If it’s windy she sits in the kitchen and knits. But she doesn’t always find sleeping men or staring cadavers. One rainy morning, when she was twenty, she was at a prison, and she made fun of the chained prisoners; one night when the kids were kids and were all living at home, she saw in a square a disheveled woman looking at a gun but not daring to take it out of her open purse. She walked up to her, put the gun in the woman’s hand and stayed there until a car parked at the corner, until the woman saw a man in gray get out and look for his keys in his pocket, until the woman aimed and fired. And another night while she was doing her sixth grade geography homework, she went to look for crayons in her room and stood next to a man who was crying on a balcony. The balcony was so high, so far above the street, that she had an urge to push him to hear the thud down below, but she remembered the orographic map of South America and was about to leave. Anyhow, since the man hadn’t seen her, she did push him and saw him disappear and ran to color in the map so she didn’t hear the thud, only the scream. And in an empty theater, she made a fire underneath the velvet curtain; in a riot she opened the cover to a basement hatchway; in a house, sitting on top of a desk, she shredded a two-thousand-page manuscript; in a clearing of a forest she buried the weapons of the sleeping men; in a river she opened the floodgates of a dike. Her daughter’s name is Laura Inés, her son has a fiancée in San Nicolás and he’s promised to bring her over on Sunday so she and her husband can meet her. She has to remind herself to ask her sister-in-law for the recipe for orange cake, and Friday on TV is the first episode of a new soap opera. Again, she runs the iron over the front of the shirt and remembers the other side of the doors that are always carefully closed in her house, that other side where the things that happen are much less abominable than the ones we experience on this side, as you can easily understand.
The Unmistakable Smell of Wood Violets [Tr by Womack]
Translated for the first time in Ann and Jeff Vandermeer's Big Book of Science Fiction (Vintage, 2016):
The news spread fast. It would be correct to say that the news moved like a flaming trail of gunpowder, if it weren't for the fact that at this point in our civilization gunpowder was archaeology, ashes in time, the stuff of legend, nothingness. However, it was because of the magic of our new civilization that the news was known all over the world, practically instantaneously. "Oooh!" the tsarina said. You have to take into account that Her Gracious and Most Illustrious Virgin Majesty Ekaterina V, Empress of Holy Russia, had been carefully educated in the proper decorum befitting the throne, which meant that she would never have even raised an eyebrow or curved the corner of her lip, far less would she have made an interjection of that rude and vulgar kind. But not only did she say "Oooh!," she also got up and walked through the room until she reached the glass doors of the great balcony. She stopped there. Down below, covered by snow, Saint Leninburg was indifferent and unchanged, the city's eyes squinting under the weight of winter. At the palace, ministers and advisers were excited, on edge. "And where is this place?" the tsarina asked. And that is what happened in Russia, which is such a distant and atypical country. In the central states of the continent, there was real commotion. In Bolivia, in Paraguay, in Madagascar, in all the great powers, and in the countries that aspired to be great powers, such as High Peru, Iceland, or Morocco, hasty conversations took place at the highest possible level with knitted brows and hired experts. The strongest currencies became unstable: the guarani rose, the Bolivian peso went down half a point, the crown was discreetly removed from the exchange rates for two long hours, long queues formed in front of the exchanges in front of all the great capitals of the world. President Morillo spoke from the Oruro Palace and used the opportunity to make a concealed warning (some would call it a threat) to the two Peruvian republics and the Minas Gerais secessionist area. Morillo had handed over the presidency of Minas to his nephew, Pepe Morillo, who had proved to be a wet blanket whom everybody could manipulate, and now Morillo bitterly regretted his decision. Morocco and Iceland did little more than give their diplomats a gentle nudge in the ribs, anything to shake them into action, as they imagined them all to be sipping grenadine and mango juice in the deep south while servants in shiny black uniforms stood over them with fans. The picturesque note came from the Independent States of North America. It could not have been otherwise. Nobody knew that all the states were now once again under the control of a single president, but that's how it was: some guy called Jack Jackson-Franklin, who had been a bit-part actor in videos, and who, aged eighty-seven, had discovered his extremely patriotic vocation of statesman. Aided by his singular and inexplicable charisma, and by his suspect family tree, according to which he was the descendent of two presidents who had ruled over the states during their glory days, he had managed to unify, at least for now, the seventy-nine northern states. Anyway, Mr. Jackson-Franklin said to the world that the Independent States would not permit such a thing to take place. No more, just that they would not permit such a thing to take place. The world laughed uproariously at this. Over there, in the Saint Leninburg palace, ministers cleared their throats, advisers swallowed saliva, trying to find out if, by bobbing their Adam's apples up and down enough, they might be able to loosen their stiff official shirts. "Ahem. Ahem. It's in the south. A long way to the south. In the west, Your Majesty." "It is. Humph. Ahem. It is, Your Majesty, a tiny country in a tiny territory." "It says that it is in Argentina," the tsarina said, still staring through the window but without paying any attention to the night as it fell over the snow-covered roofs and the frozen shores of the Baltic. "Ah, yes, that's right, that's right, Your Majesty, a pocket republic." Sergei Vasilievich Kustkarov, some kind of councilor and, what is more, an educated and sensible man, broke into the conversation. "Several, Your Majesty, it is several." And at last the tsarina turned around. Who cared a fig for the Baltic night, the snow-covered rooftops, the roofs themselves, and the city of which they were a part? Heavy silk crackled, starched petticoats, lace. "Several of what, Councilor Kustkarov, several of what? Don't come to me with your ambiguities." "I must say, Your Majesty, I had not the slightest intention--" "Several of what?" The tsarina looked directly at him, her lips held tightly together, her hands moving unceasingly, and Kustkarov panicked, as well he might. "Rep-rep-republics, Your Majesty," he blurted out. "Several of them. Apparently, a long time ago, a very long time, it used to be a single territory, and now it is several, several republics, but their inhabitants, the people who live in all of them, all of the republics, are called, they call themselves, the people, that is, Argentinians." The tsarina turned her gaze away. Kustkarov felt so relieved that he was encouraged to carry on speaking: "There are seven of them, Your Majesty: Rosario, Entre dos Rios, Ladocta, Ona, Riachuelo, Yujujuy, and Labodegga." The tsarina sat down. "We must do something," she said. Silence. Outside it was not snowing, but inside it appeared to be. The tsarina looked at the transport minister. "This enters into your portfolio," she said. Kustkarov sat down, magnificently. How lucky he was to be a councilor, a councilor with no specific duties. The transport minister, on the other hand, turned pale. "I think, Your Majesty...," he dared to say. "Don't think! Do something!" "Yes, Your Majesty," the minister said, and, bowing, started to make his way to the door. "Where do you think you're going?" the tsarina said, without moving her mouth or twitching an eyelid. "I'm just, I'm going, I'm just going to see what can be done, Your Majesty." There's nothing that can be done, Sergei Vasilievich thought in delight, nothing. He realized that he was not upset, but instead he felt happy. And on top of everything else a woman, he thought. Kustkarov was married to Irina Waldoska-Urtiansk, a real beauty, perhaps the most beautiful woman in all of Holy Russia. Perhaps he was being cuckolded; it would have been all too easy for him to find that out, but he did not want to. His thoughts turned in a circle: and on top of everything else a woman. He looked at the tsarina and was struck, not for the first time, by her beauty. She was not so beautiful as Irina, but she was magnificent. In Rosario it was not snowing, not because it was summer, although it was, but because it never snowed in Rosario. And there weren't any palm trees: the Moroccans would have been extremely disappointed had they known, but their diplomats said nothing about the Rosario flora in their reports, partly because the flora of Rosario was now practically nonexistent, and partly because diplomats are supposed to be above that kind of thing. Everyone who was not a diplomat, that is to say, everyone, the population of the entire republic that in the last ten years had multiplied vertiginously and had now reached almost two hundred thousand souls, was euphoric, happy, triumphant. They surrounded her house, watched over her as she slept, left expensive imported fruits outside her door, followed her down the street. Some potentate allowed her the use of a Ford 99, which was one of the five cars in the whole country, and a madman who lived in the Espinillos cemetery hauled water all the way up from the Pará lagoon and grew a flower for her which he then gave her. "How nice," she said, then went on, dreamily, "Will there be flowers where I'm going?" They assured her that there would be. She trained every day. As they did not know exactly what it was she had to do to train herself, she got up at dawn, ran around the Independence crater, skipped, did some gymnastic exercises, ate little, learned how to hold her breath, and spent hours and hours sitting or curled into strange positions. She also danced the waltz. She was almost positive that the waltz was not likely to come in handy, but she enjoyed it very much. Meanwhile, farther away, the trail of gunpowder had become a barrel of dynamite, although dynamite was also a legendary substance and didn't exist. The infoscreens in every country, whether poor or rich, central or peripheral, developed or not, blazed forth with extremely large headlines suggesting dates, inventing biographical details, trying to hide, without much success, their envy and confusion. No one was fooled: "We have been wretchedly beaten," the citizens of Bolivia said. "Who would have thought it," pondered the man on the Reykjavík omnibus. The former transport minister of Holy Russia was off breaking stones in Siberia. Councilor Sergei Vasilievich Kustkarov was sleeping with the tsarina, but that was only a piece of low, yet spicy, gossip that has nothing to do with this story. "We will not allow this to happen!" Mr. Jackson-Franklin blustered, tugging nervously at his hairpiece. "It is our own glorious history that has set aside for us this brilliant destiny! It is we, we and not this despicable banana republic, who are marked for this glory!" Mr. Jackson-Franklin also did not know that there were no palm trees or bananas in Rosario, but this was due not to a lack of reports from his diplomats but rather a lack of diplomats. Diplomats are a luxury that a poor country cannot afford, and so poor countries often go to great pains to take offense and recall all the knights commanders and lawyers and doctors and even eventually the generals working overseas, in order to save money on rent and electricity and gas and salaries, not to mention the cost of the banquets and all the money in brown paper envelopes. But the headlines kept on appearing on the infoscreens: "Argentinian Astronaut Claims She Will Reach Edge of Universe," "Sources Claim Ship Is Spaceworthy in Spite of or Because of Centuries-Long Interment," "Science or Catastrophe?," "Astronaut Not a Woman but a Transsexual" (this in the Imperialskaya Gazeta, the most puritan of the infoscreens, even more so than the Papal Piccolo Osservatore Lombardo), "Ship Launches," "First Intergalactic Journey in Centuries," "We Will Not Allow This to Happen!" (Portland Times). She was dancing the waltz. She woke up with her heart thumping, tried out various practical hairstyles, ran, skipped, drank only filtered water, ate only olives, avoided spies and journalists, went to see the ship every day, just to touch it. The mechanics all adored her. "It'll work, they'll see, it'll work," the chief engineer said defiantly. Nobody contradicted him. No one dared say that it wouldn't. It would make it, of course it would make it. Not without going through many incredible adventures on its lengthy journey. Lengthy? No one knew who Langevin was anymore, so no one was shocked to discover that his theory contradicted itself, ended up biting its own tail, and that however long the journey took, the observers would only perceive it as having lasted minutes. Someone called Cervantes, a very famous personage back in the early years of human civilization--it was still debated whether he had been a physicist, a poet, or a musician--had suggested a similar theory in one of his lost works. One autumn dawn the ship took off from the Independence crater, the most deserted part of the whole desert republic of Rosario, at five forty-five in the morning. The exact time is recorded because the inhabitants of the country had all pitched in together to buy a clock, which they thought the occasion deserved (there was one other clock, in the Enclosed Convent of the Servants of Santa Rita de Casino, but because the convent was home to an enclosed order nothing ever went in or out of it, no news, no requests, no answers, no nothing). Unfortunately, they had not had enough money. But then someone had had the brilliant idea which had brought in the money they needed, and Rosario had hired out its army for parades in friendly countries: there weren't that many of them and the ones there were weren't very rich, but they managed to get the cash together. Anyone who was inspired by patriotism and by the proximity of glory had to see those dashing officers, those disciplined soldiers dressed in gold and crimson, protected by shining breastplates, capped off with plumed helmets, their catapults and pouches of stones at their waists, goose-stepping through the capital of Entre Dos Rios or the Padrone Giol vineyards in Labodegga, at the foot of the majestic Andes. The ship blasted off. It got lost against the sky. Before the inhabitants of Rosario, their hearts in their throats and their eyes clouded by emotion, had time to catch their breath, a little dot appeared up there, getting bigger and bigger, and it was the ship coming back down. It landed at 06:11 on the same morning of that same autumn day. The clock that recorded this is preserved in the Rosario Historical Museum. It no longer works, but anyone can go and see it in its display cabinet in Room A of the Museum. In Room B, in another display case, is the so-called Carballensis Indentic Axe, the fatal tool that cut down all the vegetation of Rosario and turned the whole country into a featureless plain. Good and evil, side by side, shoulder to shoulder. Twenty-six minutes on Earth, many years on board the ship. Obviously, she did not have a watch or a calendar with her: the republic of Rosario would not have been able to afford either of them. But it was many years, she knew that much. Leaving the galaxy was a piece of cake. You can do it in a couple of jumps, everyone knows that, following the instructions that Albert Einsteinstein, the multifaceted violin virtuoso, director of sci-fi movies, and student of space-time, gave us a few hundred years back. But the ship did not set sail to the very center of the universe, as its predecessors had done in the great era of colonization and discovery; no, the ship went right to the edge of the universe. Everyone also knows that there is nothing in the universe, not even the universe itself, which does not grow weaker as you reach its edge. From pancakes to arteries, via love, rubbers, photographs, revenge, bridal gowns, and power. Everything tends to imperceptible changes at the beginning, rapid change afterward; everything at the edge is softer and more blurred, as the threads start to fray from the center to the outskirts. In the time it took her to take a couple of breaths, a breath and a half, over the course of many years, she passed through habitable and uninhabitable places, worlds which had once been classified as existent, worlds which did not appear and had never appeared and probably would never appear in any cartographical survey. Planets of exiles, singing sands, minutes and seconds in tatters, whirlpools of nothingness, space junk, and that's without even mentioning those beings and things, all of which stood completely outside any possibility of description, so much so that we tend not to perceive them when we look at them; all of this, and shock, and fear more than anything else, and loneliness. The hair grew gray at her temples, her flesh lost its firmness, wrinkles appeared around her eyes and her mouth, her knees and ankles started to act up, she slept less than before and had to half close her eyes and lean backward in order to make out the numbers on the consoles. And she was so tired that it was almost unbearable. She did not waltz any longer: she put an old tape into an old machine and listened and moved her gray head in time with the orchestra. She reached the edge of the universe. Here was where everything came to an end, so completely that even her tiredness disappeared and she felt once again as full of enthusiasm as she had when she was younger. There were hints, of course: salt storms, apparitions, little brushstrokes of white against the black of space, large gaps made of sound, echoes of long-dead voices that had died giving sinister orders, ash, drums; but when she reached the edge itself, these indications gave way to space signage: "End," "You Are Reaching the Universe Limits," "The Cosmos General Insurance Company, YOUR Company, Says: GO NO FURTHER," "End of Protected Cosmonaut Space," etc., as well as the scarlet polygon that the OMUU had adopted to use as a sign for that's it, abandon all hope, the end. All right, so she was here. The next thing to do was go back. But the idea of going back never occurred to her. Women are capricious creatures, just like little boys: as soon as they get what they want, then they want something else. She carried on. There was a violent judder as she crossed the limit. Then there was silence, peace, calm. All very alarming, to tell the truth. The needles did not move, the lights did not flash, the ventilation system did not hiss, her alveoli did not vibrate, her chair did not swivel, the screens were blank. She got up, went to the portholes, looked out, saw nothing. It was logical enough: "Of course," she said to herself, "when the universe comes to an end, then there's nothing." She looked out through the portholes a little more, just in case. She still could see nothing, but she had an idea. "But I'm here," she said. "Me and the ship." She put on a space suit and walked out into the nothing. When the ship landed in the Independence crater in the republic of Rosario, twenty-six minutes after it had taken off, when the hatch opened and she appeared on the ramp, the spirit of Paul Langevin flew over the crater, laughing fit to burst. The only people who heard him were the madman who had grown the flower for her in the Espinillos cemetery and a woman who was to die that day. No one else had ears or fingers or tongue or feet, far less did they have eyes to see him. It was the same woman who had left, the very same, and this calmed the crowds down at the same time as it disappointed them, all the inhabitants of the country, the diplomats, the spies, and the journalists. It was only when she came down the gangplank and they came closer to her that they saw the network of fine wrinkles around her eyes. All other signs of her old age had vanished, and had she wished, she could have waltzed tirelessly, for days and nights on end, from dusk till dawn till dusk. The journalists all leaned forward; the diplomats made signals, which they thought were subtle and unseen, to the bearers of their sedan chairs to be ready to take them back to their residences as soon as they had heard what she had to say; the spies took photographs with the little cameras hidden away in their shirt buttons or their wisdom teeth; all the old people put their hands together; the men raised their fists to their heart; the little boys pranced; the young girls smiled. And then she told them what she had seen: "I took off my suit and my helmet," she said, "and walked along the invisible avenues that smelled of violets." She did not know that the whole world was waiting to hear what she said; that Ekaterina V had made Sergei Vasilievich get up at five o'clock in the morning so that he could accompany her to the grand salon and wait there for the news; that one of the seventy-nine Northern States had declared its independence because the president had not stopped anything from happening or obtained any glory, and this had lit the spark of rebellion in the other seventy-eight states, and this had made Mr. Jackson-Franklin leave the White House without his wig, in pajamas, freezing and furious; that Bolivia, Paraguay, and Iceland had allowed the two Peruvian republics to join their new alliance and defense treaty set up against a possible attack from space; that the high command of the Paraguayan aeronautical engineers had promised to build a ship that could travel beyond the limits of the universe, always assuming that they could be granted legal immunity and a higher budget, a declaration that made the guarani fall back the two points that it had recently risen and then another one as well; that Don Schicchino Giol, the new padrone of the Republic of Labodegga at the foot of the majestic Andes had been woken from his most recent drinking bout to be told that he had now to sign a declaration of war against the Republic of Rosario, now that they knew the strength of the enemy's forces. "Eh? What? Hunh?" Don Schicchino said. "I saw the nothingness of everything," she said, "and it was all infused with the unmistakable smell of wood violets. The nothingness of the world is like the inside of a stomach throbbing above your head. The nothingness of people is like the back of a painting, black, with glasses and wires that release dreams of order and imperfect destinies. The nothingness of creatures with leathery wings is a crack in the air and the rustle of tiny feet. The nothingness of history is the massacre of the innocents. The nothingness of words, which is a throat and a hand that break whatever they touch on perforated paper; the nothingness of music, which is music. The nothingness of precincts, of crystal glasses, of seams, of hair, of liquids, of lights, of keys, of food." When she had finished her list, the potentate who owned the Ford 99 said that he would give it to her, and that in the afternoon he would send one of his servants with a liter of naphtha so that she could take the car out for a spin. "Thank you," she said. "You are very generous." The madman went away, looking up to the skies; who knows what he was searching for. The woman who was going to die that day asked herself what she should eat on Sunday, when her sons and their wives came to lunch. The president of the Republic of Rosario gave a speech. And everything in the world carried on the same, apart from the fact that Ekaterina V named Kustkarov her interior minister, which terrified the poor man but which was welcomed with open arms by Irina as an opportunity for her to refresh her wardrobe and her stock of lovers. And Jack Jackson-Franklin sold his memoirs to one of Paraguay's more sophisticated magazines for a stellar amount of money, which allowed him to retire to live in Imerina. And six spaceships from six major world powers set off to the edges of the universe and were never seen again. She married a good man who had a house with a balcony, a white bicycle, and a radio which, on clear days, could pick up the radio plays that LLL1 Radio Magnum transmitted from Entre Dos Rios, and she waltzed in white satin shoes. The day that her first son was born a very pale green shoot grew out of the ground on the banks of the great lagoon.
This is a compilation of all the posts by user ar_david_hh who summarises anti-Corruption news of the day along with other interesting news in one comment. It is linked from the sidebar->Interesting Threads->Anti-corruption. The list is ordered by date, newest first. Date format: D/M/YYYY. All credit goes to the sub's hero ar_david_hh Previous compilation threads: Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 Azerbaijan attacked Artsakh on 27 September 2020, making the war to be the main topic, the updates since this date are to be found in the daily Megathreads pinned at the top of the sub for now.
To Smedley's replacement: stop cowering behind doku's skirt. Front-up, if there's any reasoning in favour of DBG for the Planetside franchise to think about trusting DBG
Context: d0ku's comments &thread, Daybreak's latest round oftrustannhilation:) It's beyond pathetic that Daybreak's CEO is cowering behind a playerstudio contributor's skirt, a CEO with the computational capacity of a mind whose sheer intellectual output possibly earned well in excess of $1 Million from bonuses annually during H1Z1:KotK's reign (for those that don't know, CEO bonuses are a thing in game companies see p.36 for extreme EA examples from 2016-18). CEO's don't do any noticeable labour measured in Joules/s, so it's all computational. Meanwhile, even an AAA artist like doku who additionally contributes to playerstudio likely working at nights on a favourite game, could well intellectually output 10-50x less than a CEO depending on bonuses. Pathetic. To make matters worse, poor d0ku is subjected to the indignity of having his NSO character he put his heart and soul into for the NS faction to be animated as a casino table host. While d0ku may not have thought of it when he handed over rights to Daybreak, it's still going to hurt. If Arena stays around, every-time someone makes a video about gambling it will feature the NSO character. He doesn't deserve that. Smedley fronted-up and didn't cower behind anyone's skirt on monetisation, trust, and underwriting the team's plans for accountability (a, b, c).
Please have faith that although we absolutely have a responsibility to deliver revenue, our biggest responsibility is to the players for that revenue in the first place.
Smedley didn't hide behind the creative director who didn't need to offer a 'defense or explanation' of why implants were in the game, as that was monetisation. The CEO needs to front-up. Not 1 hour before the launch of a game, but better late than never. Not Andy, or Nick (Producers), or lead designers (as Daybreak won't pay a creative directors wages). The person at the very top of influence, Smedley's replacement.
Every weekday evening at around 9pm, in the Daily Mail’s headquarters in Kensington, west London, the slightly stooping, six-foot three-inch figure of Paul Dacre emerges into the main open-plan office where editors, sub-editors and designers are in the final stages of preparing pages for the next day’s paper. The atmosphere changes instantly; everyone becomes tense, as though waiting for a thunderstorm. Dacre begins with a low growl, like an angry tiger. His voice rises as several pages are denounced, along with those responsible. Imprecations reverberate across the office, sometimes punctuated by the strangely anomalous command to a senior colleague, “Don’t resist me, darling.” Pages must be replaced or redesigned, their order changed, headlines altered. New pictures are required with new captions. Dacre waves his long arms, hammers the air with his hands, shouts even louder and, if particularly agitated, scratches himself. Nobody tries to argue. For all the fear and exasperation – “He never thinks of logistics and he has no idea of what’s an unreasonable request,” says one former sub-editor – there is also admiration. Dacre, Fleet Street’s best-paid editor, who earned almost £1.8m in 2012, has been in charge of the Mail since 1992 and, by general consent, is the most successful editor of his generation. The paper sells an average of 1.5 million copies on weekdays, 2.4 million on Saturdays. Only the Sun sells more but, on Saturdays, the Mail has just moved ahead. Its 4.3 million daily readers include more from the top three social classes (A, B and C1) than the Times, Guardian, Independent and Financial Times combined. Its long-standing middle-market rival, the Daily Express, slightly ahead when Dacre took over, now sells less than a third as many copies. Under Dacre, the Mail has won Newspaper of the Year six times in the annual British Press Awards – twice as many prizes as any other paper. If anything, its authority and clout have grown in the past two years as Rupert Murdoch’s Sun has struggled with the fallout from the hacking scandal. Politicians no longer fear Murdoch as they once did. They still fear Dacre. The opposition from Murdoch’s papers to the government’s proposals that a royal charter should regulate the press is muted. Dacre’s Mail is loud and clear about the threat to “our free press”. Summoned twice before the Leveson inquiry – the second time because he had accused the actor Hugh Grant of lying in his evidence – he didn’t give an inch. Everyone who has ever worked for Dacre, who has just passed his 65th birthday, praises his almost uncanny instinct for the issues and stories that will hold the attention of “Middle England”. No other editor so deftly balances the mix of subjects and moods that holds readers’ attention: serious and frivolous, celebrities and ordinary people, urban, suburban and rural, some stories provoking anger, others tears. No other editor chooses, with such unerring and lethal precision, the issues, often half forgotten, that will create panic and fear among politicians. “He’s the most consummate newspaperman I’ve ever met,” says Charles Burgess, a former features editor who also occupied high-level roles at the Guardian and Independent. “He balances the flow of each day’s paper in his head.” “He articulates the dreams, fears and hopes of socially insecure members of the suburban middle class,” says Peter Oborne, the Mail’s former political columnist now at the Daily Telegraph. “It’s a daily performance of genius.” But Murdoch’s decline leaves the Mail under more scrutiny than ever. Is Dacre at last running out of road? Rumours circulate in the national newspaper industry that members of the Rothermere family, owners of the Daily Mail, are increasingly nervous of the controversy that Dacre stirs up, notably this year with its attack on Ralph Miliband, father of the Labour leader, as “the man who hated Britain”. More than any other editor since Kelvin MacKenzie ruled at the Sun – and, among other outrages, alleged that drunkenness among Liverpool football fans led to the Hillsborough disaster of 1989 – Dacre attracts visceral loathing. His enemies see the Mail, to quote the Huffington Post writer and NS columnist Mehdi Hasan (who was duly monstered in the Mail’s pages), as “immigrant-bashing, woman-hating, Muslim-smearing, NHS-undermining, gay-baiting”. The loathing is returned, with interest. In Dacre’s mind, the country is run, in effect, by affluent metropolitan liberals who dominate Whitehall, the leadership of the main political parties, the universities, the BBC and most public-sector professions. As he once said, “. . . no day is too busy or too short not to find time to tweak the noses of the liberalocracy”. The Mail, in his view, speaks for ordinary people, working hard and struggling with their bills, conventional in their views, ambitious for their children, loyal to their country, proud of owning their home, determined to stand on their own feet. These people, Dacre believes, are not given a fair hearing in the national media and the Mail alone fights for them. It is incomprehensible to him – a gross category error – that critics should be obsessed by the Mail’s power and influence when the BBC, funded by a compulsory poll tax, dominates the news market. It uses this position, he argues, to push a dogmatically liberal agenda, hidden behind supposed neutrality. Scarcely an issue of the Mail passes without a snipe and sometimes a full barrage in the news pages, leaders or signed opinion columns at BBC “bias”. To its critics, however, the Mail is as biased as it’s possible to be, and none too fussy about the facts. In the files of the Press Complaints Commission, you will find records of 687 complaints against the Mail which led either to a PCC adjudication or to a resolution negotiated, at least partially, after the PCC’s intervention. The number far exceeds that for any other British newspaper: the files show 394 complaints against the Sun, 221 against the Daily Telegraph, 115 against the Guardian. The complaints will serve as a charge sheet against the Mail and its editor. This year, the Mail reported that disabled people are exempt from the bedroom tax; that asylum-seekers had “targeted” Scotland; that disabled babies were being euthanised under the Liverpool Care Pathway; that a Kenyan asylum-seeker had committed murders in his home country; that 878,000 recipients of Employment Support Allowance had stopped claiming “rather than face a fresh medical”; that a Portsmouth primary school had denied pupils water on the hottest day of the year because it was Ramadan; that wolves would soon return to Britain; that nearly half the electricity produced by windfarms was discarded. All these reports were false. Mail executives argue that it gets more complaints than its rivals because it reaches more readers (particularly online, where the paper’s stories are repeated and others originate), prints more pages and tackles more serious and politically challenging issues. They point out that only six complaints were upheld after going through all the PCC’s stages and that the Sun and Telegraph, despite fewer complaints, had more upheld. But the PCC list, though it contains some of the Mail’s favourite targets such as asylum-seekers and “scroungers”, merely scratches the surface. Other complainants turned to the law. In the past ten years, the Mail has reported that the dean of RAF College Cranwell showed undue favouritism to Muslim students (false); the film producer Steve Bing hired a private investigator to destroy the reputation of his former lover Liz Hurley (false); the actress Sharon Stone left her four-year-old child alone in a car while she dined at a restaurant (false); the actor Rowan Atkinson needed five weeks’ treatment at a clinic for depression (false); a Tamil refugee, on hunger strike in Parliament Square, was secretly eating McDonald’s burgers (false); the actor Kate Winslet lied over her exercise regime (false); the singer Elton John ordered guests at his Aids charity ball to speak to him only if spoken to (false); Amama Mbabazi, the prime minister of Uganda, benefited personally from the theft of £10m in foreign aid (false). In all these cases, the Mail paid damages. Then there are the subjects that the Mail and other right-wing papers will never drop. One is the EU, which, the Mail reported last year, proposed to ban books such as Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series that portray “traditional” families. Another is local authorities, forever plotting to expel Christmas from public life and replace it with the secular festival of Winterval. It does not matter how often these reports are denied and their flimsy provenance exposed; the Mail keeps on running them and its columnists cite them as though they were accepted wisdom. The paper gets away with publishing libels and falsehoods and with invasions of privacy because the penalties are insignificant. Often the victims can’t afford to sue and, if they can, the Mail group, with £282m annual profits even in these straitened times, can live with the costs. The PCC, even when its rules allow it to admit a complaint, has no powers to impose fines or to stipulate the prominence of corrections. Besides, many victims don’t pursue complaints because they fear the stress of going to war with a powerful newspaper. They included the late writer Siân Busby who, the paper wrote in 2008, had received “the all-clear from lung cancer” after “a gruelling year”. In fact, the diagnosis had come less than six months earlier and she hadn’t received the “all-clear”. More important, as her husband, the BBC journalist Robert Peston, explained in the James Cameron Memorial Lecture in November this year, she wanted to keep the news out of the public domain to protect her children. “The Mail got away with it,” Peston said. “As it often does.” (The Mail, in a statement after the lecture, said the information had been obtained from Busby herself and that the reporter had identified himself as a Mail writer.) In his 2008 book Flat Earth News, the Guardian journalist Nick Davies compared the paper to a footballer who, to protect his goal, will deliberately bring down an opponent. “Brilliant and corrupt,” Davies wrote, “the Daily Mail is the professional foul of contemporary Fleet Street.” Even a list of official complaints and court cases doesn’t quite capture why the Mail attracts such fear and loathing. It has a unique capacity for targeting individuals and twisting the knife day after day, without necessarily lapsing into inaccuracies that could lead either to libel writs or censure by the PCC. For instance, as publication of the Leveson report on press regulation approached, the Mail devoted 12 pages of one issue – and several more pages of subsequent issues – to an “exposure” of Sir David Bell, a name then almost entirely unknown even to well-informed members of the public. A Leveson assessor and former Financial Times chairman, Bell was allegedly at the centre of a “quasi-masonic” network of “elitist liberals”, bent on gagging the press and preventing freedom of expression. This network, based on the “leadership” training organisation Common Purpose, had spawned the Media Standards Trust, of which Bell was a co-founder, which in turn had spawned the lobby group Hacked Off, an important influence on Leveson. To the Mail, this was a perfect illustration of how well-connected liberals, through networks of apparently innocuous organisations, conspire to undermine national traditions and values. The paper also targets groups, often the weak and vulnerable. The Federation of Poles in Great Britain complained to the PCC that the Mail ran 80 headlines between 2006 and 2008 linking Poles to problems in the NHS and schools, unemployment among Britons, drug smuggling, rape and so on. Most of the stories, as the federation acknowledged, were newsworthy and largely accurate. The objection was to the way they were presented and to the drip, drip effect of continually highlighting the Polish connection so that, as the federation’s spokesman put it, the average reader’s heart “skips a beat . . . with either indignation or alarm”. The PCC eventually brokered a settlement that led to publication of a letter from the federation. ￼ Yet there is something magnificent about the Mail’s confidence and single-mindedness. Other papers, trimming to focus groups, muffle their message, but the Mail projects its world-view relentlessly, with supreme technical skill, from almost every page. It is a paper led by its opinions, not by news. It is not noted for big exclusives, nor even for rapid reaction. “We were often known as the day-late paper,” a former reporter recalls. “Dacre wouldn’t really be interested in a story until he’d seen it somewhere else. We would sometimes give our exclusives to other journalists. Dacre surveys all the other papers, selects the right lines for the next day and follows them.” Although Dacre has little enthusiasm for new technology – he still doesn’t have a computer on his desk – his paper is perfectly primed for the age of instant 24-hour news, when the challenge is not so much to find and report news as to select, interpret and elaborate on it. Long before other papers recognised the merits of a features-led or views-led approach, the Mail under Dacre was doing it. The Mail gives its readers a sense of belonging in an increasingly complex and unsettling world. Part of the trick is to make the world seem more threatening than it is: crime is rising, migrants flooding the country, benefit scroungers swindling the taxpayer, standards of education falling, wind turbines taking over the countryside. Almost anything you eat or drink could give you cancer. Above all, the family – “the greatest institution on God’s green earth”, Dacre told a writer for the New Yorker last year – is under continuous assault. The Mail assures readers they are not alone in their anxieties about this changing world. It is a paper to be read, not on trains or buses or in offices, but in the peace and quiet of your home, preferably with an old-fashioned coal fire blazing in the hearth. “Readers like certainty,” says a former Mail reporter. “Newspapers that have a wavering grip on their ideology are the ones that struggle. The Mail is like Coke. It’s consistent, reliable. Dacre is one of the best brand managers in the business. He lives the brand.” Dacre lives mostly in the shadows. His two appearances before the Leveson inquiry gave the wider public a rare glimpse; apart from Desert Island Discs in 2004, he never appears on television or speaks on radio. If the Mail needs to defend itself (and it deigns to do so only in the most desperate circumstances), the job is assigned to an underling. Requests for on-the-record interviews are invariably refused, as they were for this article. A rare exception was made for the British Journalism Review, whose then editor, Bill Hagerty (a former editor of the People), interviewed Dacre in the tenth year of his editorship. There was also that audience with the New Yorker last year. Public lectures are equally unusual for him, though he gave the Cudlipp Lecture (in memory of Hugh Cudlipp, a Daily Mirror editor who was an early hero of his) in 2007, and addressed the Society of Editors in 2008. Even former staff members mostly prefer not to be quoted when talking about Dacre. If they agree to be quoted, they wish the quotations to be checked with them before publication. BBC Radio 4 used actors for several contributions to a recent profile. The journalists’ fear is not only that they may be cut off from future employment or freelance work – “The Mail pays far better than anybody else and you don’t want to jeopardise the £2,000 cheque that might drop through the letter box,” said one writer – but also that the Mail may hit back. These concerns are shared by many politicians, who are equally reluctant to be quoted. Dacre has few social graces and even less small talk. His body language is awkward, his manner prickly. He seldom smiles and, according to one ex-columnist, “He doesn’t laugh, he just says, ‘That’s a funny remark.’” He treats women with old-fashioned courtliness, opening doors and helping them with coats, but is otherwise uncomfortable with them, perhaps because he was one of five brothers, went to an all-male school and has no daughters. He speaks gruffly, with a slight north London accent and an even fainter trace of his father’s native Yorkshire. He sometimes buries his rather florid face deep in his hands, as though exasperated with the world’s inability to share his simple, common-sense values. He became notorious for the ripeness of his language – so frequent was his use of the C-word, almost entirely directed at men, that his staff referred to “the vagina monologues” – but when Charles Burgess told him women didn’t like hearing it he was profusely apologetic. On Desert Island Discs, he confessed to shouting at staff. “Shouting creates energy,” he said. “Energy creates great headlines.” He still shouts, but in recent years, as an insider reported, “He’s no longer the expletive volcano he once was; his barbs these days tend to concern the brainpower of his target and their supposed laziness.” He owns three properties: a home with a mile-long drive in West Sussex (known to Mail staff as Dacre Towers), a more modest weekday residence in the central London district of Belgravia and a seven-bedroom house in Scotland with a 17,000-acre shooting estate. He is a member of the Garrick Club, and sometimes takes columnists to lunch at Mark’s Club in Mayfair, which one recipient of his hospitality described as “very decorous, the sort of place you could have gone to in the 19th century”. He sent both of his sons to Eton. There are no stories of past or present indiscretions involving women, alcohol or drugs. Jon Holmes, a contemporary at Leeds University who is now a sports agent, recalls him as “a very cold fish; he never, ever, seemed to go out in a group for a drink or a meal or anything”. A former Mail reporter says: “We’d all be in the Harrow [a Fleet Street pub, heavily frequented by Mail journalists], and he would come in, buy a half-pint, take it to the opposite end of the bar, drink alone, and leave without speaking.” He has an apparently stable and successful marriage to a woman he met at university, which has lasted 37 years. He frequently attends Church of England services, but is not a believer. He likes and sometimes goes out to rugby union matches, the opera and theatre – the last partly because his wife, Kathleen Dacre, is a professor of theatre studies and partly because he has a son who is a successful director and producer with surprisingly avant-garde leanings. Asked what television he watched, he once mentioned Midsomer Murders and nothing else. He mostly eschews the trappings and opportunities of wealth and power. It is impossible to imagine him as a member of the Chipping Norton set or anything like it. He rarely dines or lunches with the powerful or fashionable, nor does he attend glitzy parties and social events. Frequently, he lunches in his office on meat and two veg. Sometimes he will lunch with politicians, but he has little respect or liking for them as a class and thinks it wise to keep his distance; Oborne recalls how, one evening, he ignored at least five increasingly urgent requests to take a call from a senior Tory minister. He declines nearly all invitations to sit on committees; his chairmanship of an official inquiry into the “30-year rule” (under which Whitehall records were kept secret for three decades) was unusual. “Editorship is not for him a route to something else,” says a former employee.
Dacre was born and spent much of his childhood in Enfield, an unremarkable middle-class suburb of north London whose inhabitants, he told the New Yorker, “were frugal, reticent, utterly self-reliant and immensely aspirational . . . suspicious of progressive values, vulgarity of any kind, self-indulgence, pretentiousness and people who know best”. Though his parents divorced late in life, his family was then (at least in his eyes) stable, happy and secure. But the more important clue to him and his relationship with the Mail’s Middle England readership is the Sunday Express of the 1950s and 1960s under the editorship of John Gordon and then John Junor. “That paper,” Dacre told the Society of Editors, “was my journalistic primer . . . [It] was warm, aspirational, unashamedly traditional, dedicated to decency, middlebrow, beautifully written and subbed, accessible, and, above all, utterly relevant to the lives of its readers.” Talking to Hagerty, he described Junor’s Sunday Express as “one of the great papers of all time”. After leaving school in Yorkshire at 16, his father, Peter Dacre, joined the Sunday Express at 21 and stayed there for the rest of his working life – mainly as a show-business writer but also, for short periods, as New York correspondent and foreign editor. Each Sunday that week’s paper was discussed and analysed over the Dacre family dinner table. It was then in its heyday, selling five million copies a week, and it didn’t go into severe decline (it now sells under 440,000) until the 1980s. It was a formulaic paper, which placed the same types of stories and features in exactly the same spots week after week. As Roy Greenslade observes in Press Gang, his post-1944 history of national newspapers, it was “virtually devoid of genuine news”; what it presented as news stories were really quirky mini-features, starting, as Greenslade put it, “with lengthy scene-setting descriptions or homilies”. Its staple subjects were animals, motor cars and wartime heroes. Its biggest target was “filth”, in the theatre, the cinema, books, magazines and TV programmes. It particularly deplored any assault on the delicate sensibilities of children. Dacre’s father criticised the BBC in 1965 for the unsuitable content of its Sunday teatime serials. Lorna Doone, he wrote, ended “gruesomely”, with a man drowning in a bog, and in the first episode of a spy serial the actors used such expressions as “damn”, “hell” and “silly bitch” at a time supposedly reserved for “family viewing”. “Have the men responsible for these programmes,” asked the elder Dacre, “forgotten that there can be no family without children? What kind of men are they? Do they have families of their own?” Another piece denounced the BBC’s Sunday evening play for “an overdose of twisted social conscience”. The young Dacre was hooked by newspapers. He only ever wanted to be a journalist and he always had his eyes on editing: “I’m a good writer, but not a great writer,” he told Hagerty. As a child in New York, during his father’s posting there, he would wake to the clattering of the ticker-tape telex machine outside his bedroom. In school holidays, he worked as a messenger for Junor’s Sunday Express and then spent a gap year before university as a trainee on the Daily Express. At the fee-charging University College School in Hampstead, north London, he edited the school magazine, and once ran, he told the Society of Editors, “a ponderous, prolix and achingly dull” special issue about the evangelist Billy Graham. It “went down like a sodden hot cross bus”, teaching him the essential lesson, which the Mail remembers every day on every page, that the worst sin in journalism is to be boring. To his disappointment, his application to Oxford University failed. He went instead to Leeds, where he read English and edited Union News, taking it sharply downmarket from, in his own description, “a product that looked like the then Times on Prozac” to one that ran “Leeds Lovelies” on page three. It won an award for student newspaper of the year. The paper supported a sit-in (led by the union president, Jack Straw, later a Labour cabinet minister), interviewed a student about “the delights of getting stoned”, wrote sympathetically about gay people, immigrants and homeless families, and called on students to help in “breaking down the barriers between the coloured and white communities of this town”. At the time, he subsequently claimed, he was left-wing, though Jon Holmes, who worked on Dacre’s Union News, says: “I never heard him express a political view except in favour of planned economies for third-world, though not first-world, countries.” His left-wing period, as he calls it, continued until the Daily Express, which he joined as soon as he left Leeds, sent him to America in 1976. He stayed there for six years, latterly working for the Mail. “America,” Dacre told Hagerty, “taught me the power of the free market . . . to improve the lives of the vast majority of ordinary people.” The Mail brought him back to London in the early 1980s and made him news editor. According to various accounts, he would “rampage through the newsroom with arms flailing like a windmill”, shouting “Go, paras, go” as he despatched reporters on stories. He climbed the hierarchy until in 1991 he became the editor of the London Evening Standard, then owned, like the Mail, by the Rothermeres’ Associated Newspapers. Circulation rose by 25 per cent in 16 months and Rupert Murdoch sounded him out about the Times editorship. To stop him leaving, the Mail editor David English resigned his chair, recommended that Dacre should replace him, and moved “upstairs” as editor-in-chief, another title that Dacre eventually inherited after English died in 1998. Dacre’s editorship has been more successful than his mentor’s but most staff do not love him as they did English. English, though capable of great coldness to those who fell into disfavour and no less likely to fly off the handle, had charm and charisma. “He would be delighted when you rang,” a former foreign correspondent says, “and he’d want to gossip and know about everything that was going on. Sometimes we’d talk for an hour. But Paul doesn’t give good phone.” He will invite writers into his office, push a glass of champagne into their hands and start saying their latest story is rubbish even as he does so. “And you hardly got time to finish the bloody drink,” a former reporter complains. A former executive says: “His track record for creating columnists is nil. He buys them up from elsewhere. He doesn’t home-grow talent because he doesn’t nurture and praise it. That’s where he’s unlike English.” Dacre is a passionate and emotional man. Though the story that he sometimes sheds tears as he dictates leaders is probably apocryphal, nobody who has worked with him doubts that he is sincere in the views he and the Mail express. “He’s not an editor who wakes up in the morning and wonders what he should be thinking today,” says Simon Heffer, a Mail columnist. Another columnist, Amanda Platell, a former editor of the Sunday Mirror and press secretary to William Hague during his leadership of the Conservative Party, says: “When I was an editor, I had to second-guess my readership because they weren’t my natural constituency. Paul never has to do that.” But while his views are mostly right-wing, he is not a reliable ally for the Conservative Party, or for anyone else. This aspect of his way of working is little understood. More than most editors, it can be said of him that he is in nobody’s pocket, not even his proprietor’s. He inherited from English a paper that was slavishly pro-Tory (“David was always in and out of No 10,” said a long-serving Mail editor), firmly pro-Europe and read mainly by people in London and the south-east. Dacre changed the politics of the paper and the demographics of its audience. Today, it is resolutely – some would say hysterically – Eurosceptic and a far higher proportion of its readership is from Scotland and the English north and midlands. The Mail has ceased to take its line from Tory headquarters or to act as a mouthpiece for Conservative leaders. Indeed, every Tory leader since Margaret Thatcher has fallen short of Dacre’s exacting standards. That applies particularly to John Major and David Cameron. According to a former columnist, Dacre regards the latter as “brash, shallow, unthinking and self-advancing” and he takes an equally jaundiced view of Boris Johnson. Twice he backed Kenneth Clarke for the party leadership, despite Clarke’s enthusiasm for the EU. Clarke is a model for the politicians Dacre generally favours even if he disagrees with most of what they say: earthy, authentic, unpretentious, consistent in their values. Jack Straw and David Blunkett – both, like Clarke, from humble backgrounds – are other examples. For a time, Dacre took a relatively kindly view of Tony Blair, having been impressed by the future prime minister’s “tough on crime” approach as shadow home secretary. But he was always suspicious of Blair’s socially liberal views on marriage, gays and drugs and he told Hagerty that once Labour attained power, he saw the new government as “manipulative, dictatorial and slightly corrupt”. He wished, he added, that Blair had “done as much for the family as he’s done for gay rights”. Gordon Brown, however, was smiled upon as no other politician had ever been. The two men developed a strange friendship, involving meals together and walks in the park, which one Mail columnist described to me as “the attraction of the two weirdest boys in the playground”. Brown, Dacre told Hagerty, was “touched by the mantle of greatness . . . he is a genuinely good man . . . a compassionate man . . . an original thinker . . . of enormous willpower and courage”. At a Savoy Hotel event to celebrate Dacre’s first ten years as editor, Brown was almost equally effusive, describing the Mail editor as showing “great personal warmth and kindness . . . as well as great journalistic skill”. “We tried to tell Dacre,” says a former Mail political reporter, “that Brown was not a very good chancellor and the economy would implode eventually. But frankly, Dacre has poor political judgement. They were united by a mutual hatred of Blair. Both are social conservatives; they’re both suspicious of foreigners; they both have a kind of Presbyterian morality. Dacre would say that Brown believes in work. It’s typical of him that he seizes on a single word as the key to his understanding of someone else.” It is inconceivable that the Mail would ever back a party other than the Conservatives in a general election, but Dacre’s support can be cool, as it was in 1997 and 2010. Although he described himself to Hagerty as “a Thatcherite politically” and though self-made entrepreneurs are among the few people who can expect favourable coverage in the Mail, Dacre is, to most neoliberals, a tepid and inconsistent supporter of free enterprise. Nor is he a neocon. The Mail opposed overseas military interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria. It has denounced Guantanamo Bay, extraordinary rendition and torture. It may be hard on immigrants and benefit scroungers, but it is often equally hard on the rich and famous, pursuing overpaid bosses of public-service utilities to their luxurious homes, exposing “depravity” among the well-heeled and high-born, and rarely treating TV and film celebrities with the deference that is the staple fare of other tabloids. Many Mail campaigns have centred on liberal or environmental causes: lead in petrol, plastic bags, secret justice, the extradition to the United States of the hacker Gary McKinnon, and so on. For a time, the Mail furiously campaigned to stop Labour deporting failed (black) asylum-seekers to Zimbabwe, even though, almost simultaneously, it was berating ministers for allowing too many illegal immigrants to stay. Other campaigns, such as those against internet porn and super-casinos (both of which influenced government action), though reflecting the Mail’s conservative social agenda, highlighted issues that concern many on the left. Dacre’s most celebrated campaign, which even some of his enemies regard as his finest hour, was to bring the killers of Stephen Lawrence to justice. In 1997, over the five photographs of those he believed were responsible, he ran the headline “MURDERERS” and, beneath it, asserted: “The Mail accuses these men of killing. If we are wrong, let them sue us”. It was hugely courageous, but did it exonerate the Mail from accusations of racism? Critics point out that the paper rarely features black people except as criminals, though this is not exceptional for the nationals. The “soft” features on women, fashion, style and health are illustrated almost entirely by white faces and bodies.
Dacre’s somewhat belated support for the Lawrence campaign was prompted by a personal connection: Neville Lawrence, Stephen’s father, had worked as a decorator on Dacre’s London house of the time, in Islington. The Mail’s campaign, critics argue, was based on substituting one frame of prejudice for another. Young Stephen eschewed gangs and drugs, did his homework and wanted to go to university. His parents were married, aspirational and home-owning. In everything except skin colour, the Lawrence family represented Middle England, while his white alleged killers were low-class yobs who threatened the safety of all respectable folk. In that, as in much else, Dacre’s Mail recalls 1950s Britain, which rather patronisingly welcomed migrants from Asia and the Caribbean as long as they behaved as though they and their ancestors were English. “If you’re in twinset and pearls, your colour is irrelevant,” says a former Mail journalist. “And Dacre’s attitude to gays changed when he realised it’s possible to be an extremely boring gay person.” The Mail’s attitudes to drugs are also redolent of the 1950s. Writing about the disgraced Co-operative Bank chairman Paul Flowers, Stephen Glover – the Mail columnist whose views, according to insiders, track Dacre’s most closely – criticised commentators who “concentrated on his financial unsuitability”, placing “relatively little emphasis” on his “moral turpitude”. Most of all, the Mail seems determined to uphold the 1950s ideal of womanhood: the stay-at-home mother who dedicates herself to homemaking and prepares a cooked dinner for her husband on his return home every night. That, the paper’s defenders say, is something of a caricature of the Mail’s position. It objects not so much to working mothers as to middle-class feminists who insist that women can “have it all”. English aimed at turning the Mail into “the women’s paper”, and succeeded: it became the only national newspaper where women accounted for more than half the readership. That remains true, and yet Dacre sometimes seems determined to drive them away. The paper subjects women’s bodies, clothes and deportment to relentless and detailed scrutiny, and often finds them wanting, particularly in the thigh and bottom department. It gives prominent coverage to research that warns of the negative effects of working mothers on children’s lives. The Mail’s poster girl is Liz Jones, the columnist and fashion editor celebrated for her self-hatred and misery. “She has so much,” says another Mail journalist, “lots of money, expensive houses, the newest clothes. But she’s never had a child, she hasn’t kept hold of a man, and she’s unhappy. The message is: it’s what happens to you, girls, if you pursue worldly success. You can succeed but, oh boy, you will suffer for it.” The Mail’s punishing hours, requiring news and features executives to stay at the office until late into the evening (not uncommon in national newspapers), and its largely unsympathetic attitude to part-time employment make it an unfriendly environment for working mothers. When Dacre took over at the Mail, he immediately appointed a female deputy, which, said another woman who then had a senior role in the group, “was quite a statement”. But the paper now has few women in its most senior positions, other than the editor of Femail (though sometimes even that post is occupied by a man), and few staff have young children. Yet in some respects, the Mail, even though it does not recognise the National Union of Journalists, is a good employer. Unlike the Mirror, it is not under a company ruled by accountants who single-mindedly seek “efficiencies”. Unlike the Times and the Sun, it does not have a proprietor who touts his papers’ support to the highest bidder. Unlike the Guardian and Independent, it is not beset by financial problems. The proprietor, Viscount (Jonathan) Rothermere, whose great-grandfather Harold Harmsworth founded the paper with his brother Alfred in 1896, allows his editors wide freedom, as did his father, Vere Rothermere, who appointed Dacre. The Mail, alone among national newspapers, has had no significant rounds of editorial redundancies in recent years and its staffing levels (it employs about 400 journalists) are comparable to what they were a decade ago. Dacre’s paper is his sole domain; MailOnline is run separately (though Dacre, as editor-in-chief, has oversight) and although the website carries all daily and Sunday paper stories, much of its content is self-generated and the editorial flavour is distinct. Dacre demands, and mostly gets, a generous budget, paying high salaries for established editorial staff and columnists and high fees for freelance contributors. Journalists are driven hard but, at senior levels in particular, they rarely leave, not least because Dacre is as loyal to them as they mostly are to him. Outright sackings are rare and nearly always accompanied by large payoffs. Those who do leave often reach the top elsewhere. The current editors of both Telegraph papers – Tony Gallagher at the daily and Ian MacGregor at the Sunday – are former Mail executives. Despite more than two decades at the helm, Dacre shows few signs of slowing down. After heart trouble some years ago – which caused an absence of several months from the office – his holidays, which he usually takes in the British Virgin Islands, have become slightly longer and more frequent. But he still routinely puts in 14-hour days. Nevertheless, speculation about his future has grown among journalists on the Mail and other papers. At the end of November, Dacre sold his last remaining shares in the Daily Mail and General Trust, the Mail’s parent company, for £347,564; he disposed of the majority in 2012. His latest contract, signed on his 65th birthday, is for one year only. Geordie Greig, the 53-year-old editor of the Mail on Sunday, is widely regarded as the most likely successor, though Martin Clarke, the abrasive publisher of the phenomenally successful MailOnline, now the most visited newspaper website in the world, is also tipped and Jon Steafel, Dacre’s deputy, is favoured by most staff. The surprising announcement in November that Richard Kay, the paper’s diarist and a long-standing friend of Dacre’s, is to leave his position looks like another straw in the wind, particularly given that his almost certain replacement is Sebastian Shakespeare, previously the diary editor at the London Evening Standard, where Greig was editor before he moved to the Mail on Sunday. Fleet Street rumour has it that Kay is being moved because he upset friends of Lady Rothermere, the proprietor’s wife, and that she is also behind the abrupt departure of the columnist Melanie Phillips, apparently on the grounds that her style – particularly during a June appearance on BBC1’s Question Time – is too shrill. Lady Rothermere, it is said, is desperately keen to oust Dacre in favour of Greig. Senior Mail sources pooh-pooh such tales, but they stop short of outright denials that Dacre is nearing the end of his days on the paper.
This is a compilation of all the posts by user ar_david_hh who summarises anti-Corruption news of the day along with other interesting news in one comment. It is linked from the sidebar->Interesting Threads->Anti-corruption. The list is ordered by date, newest first. Date format: D/M/YYYY. All credit goes to the sub's hero ar_david_hh Previous compilation threads: Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 UPDATED DAILY
Somewhere in the skies… Osakabehime: …… ……. (Ma-chan and their buddies are in a team against me!) (And they’ve got a real [Letter of Challenge], for a Swimsuit Swordmaster battle…!) (Oh, but Ma-chan. Sorry to say, but right now, this princess has power identical to Master Li Shuwen in his heyday!) (Fufufu…while you may not be a Swordmaster in honest, using my katana temporarily should make for a nice story later!) (Right now, I’m so totally strong that that great King was able to appoint me as a Swimsuit Swordmaster) (That obligation makes everything else trivial…and losing is completely out of the question for me!) (Let the match begin, Ma-chan!) Katsushika Hokusai: (Ueehh…I don’t take well to planes. If I fell out now, I’d very well die…)
[ (Disconcerting face) You okay?] / [What was that?] Option 1:
Katsushika Hokusai: Ee!? O-oh…I-I’m fine! Katsushika Hokusai could jump out of a plane once or twice and be just fine!
Katsushika Hokusai: L-lemme…borrow this for a sec. Miyamoto Iori: Aww. Oei-chan is tugging on Master’s sleeve. Getting all worked up is a good sign though, a really good one…! Osakabehime: (Aw, nice. This nobleness will defs inspire some manuscripts) Anne: My my, what is it, Okki? You look zoned out. Osakabehime: Agh. Urg. It’s nothing, nothing. Eli Mark II: Please prepare for battle, and do not lose yourself in some delusion, Osakabehime. Osakabehime: (…Fine, fine. I’ll focus on this battle, and not my manuscripts or whatever!) Helena: Okay everyone! The Zone’s all setup, so now’s the time to drop!
A buzzer goes off, starting the game.
Blackbeard: Okay, Let’s Dive! Dive! Diiiiiivvveeee!!! Oh, you’re here too, Master? This is still a battle though, so you’re gettin’ no special treatment from me!
Blackbeard: …Oh. Master’s been turned into equipment? Just some luggage? Anne: Equipment…? Mhm, interesting. Hmm… (Licks her lips) Helena: Alrighty everyone, let’s drop here! With Mahatma guiding you, there’s nothing to fear! Katsushika Hokusai: C-cheeky girl! Who said I was afraid? R-right, Mastah!?
[This terror is the norm for me] / [This feels like reyshifting…] Option 1:
Katsushika Hokusai: Wha-, t-the norm?
Mash: Yeah. It’s just like being transferred through the air like a reyshift does.
Katsushika Hokusai: O-oh, okay. Then it’ll should be no problem to go together---
[M’kay, let’s go]
Katsushika Hokusai: Huh, nay, wait a moment, I’m still mentally prepa-
Helena: Everyone accounted for? Miyamoto Iori: Yep, Miyamoto Mus…Iori! Landed perfectly fine! Mash: Mash Kyrielight, together with Master, has landed successfully and unharmed. Fou: Foufo-u! Mash: Fou-san, were you in my backpack this whole time!? Do you actually like being crammed in tight places, like coffins…?
[Master’s over here] / [Oei-san successfully landed too!]
Katsushika Hokusai: Hm, huh? Its already done? Weren’t we supposed to fly? …A-ahem. Katsushika Ōi, landin’ successful! What, these ain’t tears or nothin’! Helena: Hooray! Thank you, Mahatma! Miyamoto Iori: Mu…enemies are already upon us. We can take ‘em if its just one team. Let’s clean them up, then get outta here!
--------------------------------------------------------------- You fight off the first team you encounter, which is composed of Diarmuid, Fergus, Fran, and Medb.
Fran: Bea-ten! Medb: So humiliating! Fergus: I may have lost, but I still have my manly pride! Diarmuid: Ah, honestly. I have no regrets, because I got to fight with my full strength!
The four of them collapse.
Katsushika Hokusai: Whew. They seemed easy for some reason. Don’tcha feel like that didn’t take much effort? Helena: Maybe it was just a bad matchup. Let’s look for more skillful opponents next! Miyamoto Iori: A win’s a win. We’ll fight however many teams we need to so we can finally face team HIMEJI! Oei-chan, ready to keep goin’? Katsushika Hokusai: Q-quite! No matter who they may be, I’ll deal with ‘em swifly! Miyamoto Iori: Okay, the Zone is gonna keep shrinking, so it’s gonna be too dangerous to stay here. Mash: Chances for close combat are high, so I’d like to move towards a place with more cover than not. Miyamoto Iori: Agreed. Let’s detour away from the desert, and move towards the village area from this jungle. Katsushika Hokusai: Y-yes, alrighty, I shall lead the way. Everyone, f-follow me!
She runs off. [Orei-san, that way leads to the desert---!]
Miyamoto Iori: Welp, there she goes again. But I do love the pep in her step! Anyways, let’s go after her before she reaches the desert!
Meanwhile, in the city area…
Osakabehime: Aw baby, 3 teams at once! This’ll give me some great commends later! Anne: With our responsibility as the unwavering, champion team, they should know better than to bother us all at once like this. Eli Mark 2: There is no getting around it. That same point makes it logical to attack us like this. More importantly, Osakabehime. You appear to be in peak performance today, did something stir you up? Blackbeard: Gozaru, gozaru, I’m Orochi, gozaru~♪ That charge attack before is nothin’ less of the typical tactics that Okki likes to use. Osakabehime: Oh, is it? Oh man, you’re makin’ me get all worked up… Blackbeard: Nah, it’s fine to be a lil’ reckless! Besides, we got our two pronged secret weapon. The Salty SUSHI. Osakabehime: Fufufu, that’s right… It might be a bit of a loophole in the rules, but it’ll give us a certain win! It was actually really easy to convince them to do it, even though they’re different from the norm. Were they really born among the harsh seas (over there)? Blackbeard: HA HA HA. You betcha. Anne: My my, it seems about time to slim down the team count. Me and her are going to go survey the areas. Osakabehime: Where? Anne: Hmm…Mk II said that Master and the others were around there somewhere, right? Eli Mark II: …Affirmative. When I had last sighted them, they were holding their own against an opposing team in the jungle. Since a majority of their team is better in close combat, they will chose not to go towards the desert…or so I believe. They are likely moving towards the village from the scary jungle. Anne: Oho, the village…well, I guess I’ll be going to take a look-see there then. Osakabehime: Huh? A look-see…do you really have to, now? With this shrinking pattern, we should go and assemble at the stronghold like usual, so we can get a better vantage point to sho— Anne: I have Independent Action, so when push comes to shove, just give me a holler. I’m~headin’~out~♪
Anne runs towards the jungle.
Osakabehime: S--------uper fast!? Who, what, where?! What in the, who the, how the!? Blackbeard: …Master…is equipment…in the village… Eliminate all of them...then nobody in the way... There’s no way…No, no no. Ms. Anne’s only a temporary Servant. It’s not like she could just change like a text format, and go from being an animal in fights to an animal in another way… WAIT, CRAP!! That pirate chick combo would totally pull out lock, stock, and barrel to trample all life in their way to be with Master! Osakabehime: Huh? Who? What? Where? When? Blackbeard: Eli Mark II! We’ll stay on standby here, but you gotta hurry and perform an emergency retrieval of Ms. Anne! Eli Mark II: …Understood. This important situation has put me at wits end as well. Vernier, starting up. Flight, ready..JETS, GO!
Mecha Eli takes to the skies!
Osakabehime: Hold on, Blackbeard---!? I-is everything okay? Aren’t they leaving the two of us at a serious disadvantage!? Blackbeard: Bein’ at a disadvantage is fine for this, ya hear---! Crap, it hurts how Ms. Anne’s an Archer with that skill! She just had go get that swimsuit to show off her boing-boings! Well, no, I’m still glad she got that! Okki. Us two are fine. It’s those two that’re in trouble! They’ll be astoundingly! Robbed away! If they’re with Master! There’s a good chance that those pirate chicks are running right into a trap! Osakabehime: GHWHAT!?
Back in the jungle…
[I am equipment. Equipment is me. Equipment is all.] / [I’m good at giving tactics, y’know…] You flashback to when we formed our battle plan in the hotel.
Fūma Kotarō: ---To conclude my findings, Team HIMEJI are cheaters.
[…Figures.] / [Cheaters!?] Option 1:
Mash: Senpai, you guessed that already? You nod. Fūma Kotarō: Considering their team members, it’d be weird of them not too.
Fūma Kotarō: Yes. They are definitely cheaters.
Katsushika Hokusai: What’s this all about? They’d gotta be utter boors to cheat, yeah!? Fūma Kotarō: Strictly speaking, they may not be. Although they’re technically scraping the rules to do this, I insist that they’re committing foul play. Mash: How do you mean? Fūma Kotarō: Please observe this video I recorded. Siegfried-dono, if you would be so kind as to explain. Seigfried: Understood. I shall explain using my overflowing intellect.
His glasses spark! [Overflowing intellect!] / [Did you glasses just twinkle!?] Option 1:
Siegfried: They are replicas of Sigurd-dono’s. Sigh…while I wish not to say so, mine are ultimately just imitations. Miyamoto Iori: Th-those glasses! That person looks sooooooooooooo cool with them! Such beauty (a beautiful man) & tenacity (a beautiful man)! I’ll definitely ask him to fight with me just once! ***
[Cut that out]
Miyamoto Iori: Tch.
Siegfried: Should you inquire towards any glasses wearing Servants, they’ll all say that they’ve done it once or twice before. Mash: Realy!? Then I can probably do it too!
An image of Fionn floats over Mash.
Fionn Mac Cumhaill: Sparkle…just like how I sparkle… Just like how I sparkle…!
The image fades.
Katsushika Hokusai: Who was that?
[Just a hallucination] / [Was that Fionn Mac Cumhaill real just now?] Branch merge:
Siegfried: Here we go. I’m starting the tape.
On the video, we see some mooks in a section of the jungle area filled with bamboo.
Gang Member: Huff, huff, huff. I-I finally caught up with ya’. It sure took some time…! Heheheh, but the payouts gonna be worth it. Anne: Kyaa, doon’t. (Monotone). What am I going to do now. Aah. Gang Member: What indeed, missy--- Hihihi, just keep actin’ all innocent! Samurai: Kukuku…I know what.
The two of them pull out the the Kiara themed “SFW Doujin” from Summerfes last year.
Samurai: I’ve got this dreamlike book with me, “The Bible of Shingon Tachikawa School”! And we’re gonna make you read it to us! Anne: Eat Dirt Samurai: Obviously you must take it seriously, and read the lines all lovey dovey like! Anne: (Lovey dovey? How should I do that) Nameless Undead: Ooh, I want you to read it in a big sister style. To be a bit specific, read it like you’re explaining it to an average salaryman, who has to keep up a rigorous, draining lifestyle day in and day out… Like how there’s a high schooler in their apartment complex living next to them (who strangely lives alone) and they say to the salaryman, “Salaryman, you’re so unhappy. I dunno why you don’t just have kids.” Which makes the salary man open a can of beer and grumble while the chill touches his hands, and then the salaryman objects by saying “Please don’t treat me like a kid”, then laughs with a fufufu, but then the high schooler leans in close with a charm they can’t possibly have and goes, “You want me to treat you like an adult?” please whisper it to us just like if you would please and thank you! Gang Member: That, wow, that was a lot. Samurai: I’m so sorry. Please forget all that.
Mary slides in!
Mary: Gimme a break! Obviously she wouldn’t read this junk to you idiots! Three Men: Wha!?
Mary slices at the three men!
Anne: Uhh, here we go…”That’s right. I said I’ll join you in the temple.” Mary: Stop. Please. Gang Member: W-wait…doesn’t your team…have one too many…? Mary: Me and Anne Bonney are a package set. We’re two people as one Servant. So there~. Gang Member & Samurai: T-that’s cheati---
The two of them fall, defeated.
Nameless Undead: …your femininity…it feels like an intimate older sister that I had from a long time ago so maybe you ca-
They fall, defeated.
Mary: That’s the last of ‘em! What was that crap about an older sister…? I sure ain’t one, especially not to you!
The undead rises with the last of its strength…
Nameless Undead: (Lmao) Mary: I’m gonna blast you straight to hell!
Mary shoots and clobbers the undead into submission, and the video ends.
Siegfried: …And so, their additional member counts as cheating. Mash: ……… Fūma Kotarō: ……… Miyamoto Iori: ……… Katsushika Hokusai: ……… Gordolf: I want to believe that was just a nightmare.
[What an low cheat…] / [Just who was that Nameless Undead?] Option 1:
Mash: Yes. But it’s true that Anne-san and Mary-san are a two in one Servant. How eliminating one takes care of the other too might come in handy though… We might be able to use their own preparations against them.
Mash: Senpai, Senpai. You should focus on what’s important right now… Siegfried: I also feel that we should shelf that mystery for now. Yes, we need to be serious about this…!
Fūma Kotarō: Anyways, we should focus on Mary Read first. Conversely, if we can take out one of them, there’s reason to believe the other would go as well. I think that we could take advantage of this loophole, since this would still take them out in the end. Siegfried: Yes, this Anne Bonny pair is like their trump card. Once we deal with them, then our chances will broaden to take out Osakabehime. Maybe she can be lured in with someone… Katsushika Hokusai: Ye be sayin’ ye want to go fishin’ for her. Fūma Kotarō: Yes. We just need to decide what “bait” would work. Mash: Treasure might work. Ann-san and Mary-san are both famous pirates, after all. Miyamoto Iori: Hmm…that’s true. But wouldn’t it feel really fake to find treasure just laying around in the middle of a fight like this? Mash: You’re right… Katsushika Hokusai: Ye gotta lessen yer horizons. Siegfried: Let’s see, those two like: treasure, alcohol, making a scene, and… Fūma Kotarō: Oh, that… Miyamoto Iori: Yep, yep…
All three of them stare at you. [You don’t mean…]
The Three of Them: …… …That’ll work! Mash: Yes, it will! NOT! Katsushika Hokusai: Nn?? Have ye found the bait? N-nay, ye don’t mean…
We move back to now, a moment before we flashed back.
Miyamoto Iori: …Alright, let’s do it like we planned. Mash: But, will you really be okay? Master…
[I’ll…probably be fine] / [Please gather my bones later]
Option 1: Miyamoto Iori: Yep, just trust us, Master! Option 2: Miyamoto Iori: They’ll be fine, they’ll be fine. Bones and flesh will be leftover!
Our flashback flashback is interrupted by Mary finding us.
Mary: …H-huh? Master! What’re you doin’ here?
[I got lost…]
Mary: Well, guess I gotta help you then. Oh, but didn’t you come here with others, Master? …Huh, you’re just equipment now? I see. I’m the same way… I feel you. While I’m part of Anne, but I’m obviously also yours, Master. …and…seeing you alone like this…as something to be used… Hmm…
She gets closer.
Mary: Hmm, hmhm.
Anne: Nice, found you---! Mary: WAH, ANNE! Anne: C’mon, get away from them for a sec. Mary: This isn’t what we planned. Aren’t you supposed to just babysit Okki, Anne? Anne: Heehee! I heard Master was in the village, so I utilized my Independent Action. Mary: Jeez, fine then. Guess us three. Will have to go. Together. Anne: Yep ♪ Just. Us. Three <3 Master. Master, you’re just equipment, right?
[Well, you could say that]
Anne: Yep, if you’re equipment, then we’ll have to handle you with care! Ah. I mean, we can’t just handle you roughly. We gotta be delicate--- Mary: We’ll have to keep you close. Anne: Close enough to rub against. Mary: Not like normal either. Anne: Reeeaallly pushed up to us <3 Mary: Just close your eyes for us, Master <3
Girls: Ah! ! !
They cancel their embrace as Miyamoto appears!
Miyamoto Iori: Good job! A little slower, and you would’ve been done already! Helena: This won’t go quite as we planned it would, but the both of you should still be fine to handle! Anne: Kyaaa! I got trickedddd! Mary: I knew I felt something off about this! Anne: Mary, did you just forget that the moment you found Master!? Mary: We’ll handle that like pirates later! Right now, we gotta take care of these guys ourselves! Miyamoto Iori: Fufuuu, you got a buddy, but there’s still 4 of us. Mary: Don’t rub it in…! Miyamoto Iori: I won’t overlook you, even if you utter some useless drivel in a cowardly position! Helena: Strange. I feel like I’m a villain for some reason. Hm? Mash, Orei-chan, is something bothering you? Mash (Blushing): S-sorry! Watching over this scene with her heart racing a little, I’m Mash Kyrielight! More importantly, I’m the one who’ll be going home with Master today! Katsushika Hokusai (Blushing): Err, ehh… Y-ye were gonna…just do that, in the open… I-I can’t even think a’ doin’ that… Anne: Aww, cute. Mary: Anyways, Master, wanna pick up where we left off? Katsushika Hokusai: B-but… Miyamoto Iori: ……Okay! Let’s just brush off this nasty feeling in the air and wipe the floor with these chicks! Anne & Mary: We’ll settle things with violence---!
--------------------------------------------------------------- You fight off Summer Anne & Bonny!
Anne: Annnhe <3 Mary: …Did you just do a pun with a moan…? Whatever, this is as far…as I go, too…blagh.
The pirates fall to the ground. [Are you two okay?] / [Well, we won…] Option 1:
Anne: Oh, yeah. We’re still all riled up. <3 But it’s too bad we lost now. You could’ve left here as an adult.
Katsushika Hokusai: Wow, this foreign woman sure was raised right to get so big.
She smacks up Anne.
Anne: Touching them comes with a price y’know~…Hrrg. Katsushika Hokusai: Lay still for a moment. I needa sketch you out while you’re like this.
Eli Mark II: I heard the announcement. Anne and Mary have been defeated.
[You can fly?]
Eli Mark II: I can do this and that. I am innately equipped with such Skills to do so. My Noble Phantasm was in fact summoned forth at the sea for a greater purpose. Summer Jeanne (memory): Yay! Now the dolphins can fully enjoy this world too! Reece (Her dolphin): Ee-ee, eek, ee, ee, eeek, ee! (Translation: I have no comments towards that gruesome device.)
Mash: B-back to the matter at hand… Eli Mark II: I will be retreating from here in a moment. I will be waiting for you at the Chosen Battlegrounds. Siegfried: You don't plan to fight, now that your trump card is gone? Eli Mark II: Hmph. You believe that was our only trump card? Your glasses must be rose tinted.
Mecha Eli takes to the sky after giving Siegfried a burn debuff.
Siegfried: My glasses…they aren’t…they are not…!
[I didn’t think he could be shocked!]
Miyamoto Iori: Hohum, so they have another trump card… Any ideas, you guys? Siegfried: ……… Yes --- it’s just as I suspected. (Extremely pensive expression) Katsushika Hokusai: Huh? Mash: …Yes, it hast to be that scary thing. The finale from that Halloween Trilogy, etched into the minds of Chaldeans---, that final, legendary fight against---!
[That idiotic giant robot…!] Meanwhile, in front of the Čachtice Pyramid Himeji Castle, Osakabe waits with the giant…
Osakabehime: That’s right, my ultimate, secret weapon is none other than Giant Mecha Eli-chan…! ……Yeah.
The Himeji castle was only a memory of Osakabe, who's still in the city.
Osakabehime: SO WHERE'S IT AT! Eli Mark II: …Well, hm. It would be impossible to bring it here, but that does not mean I do not have my cheat code for it. Osakabehime: Cheat code? Eli Mark II: Yes, I mean---
We cut back to our group.
Siegfried: Even for this Las Vegas Singularity, it’d be difficult to have that. But…perhaps they have some sort of skill to utilize it to a certain degree? Mash: Oh…like how they can fire missiles out of nowhere… Katsushika Hokusai: Missairu? How?
[It’s one of the mysteries of the world]
Katsushika Hokusai: Ah… Wow Mastah, how nonchalant! But Katsushika Ōi can handle a missairu or two, because I got Hokusai-sama’s super cuttin’ ability! Miyamoto Iori: Yeah, yeah! I’d say that being able to cut missles and bullets is one of the first steps of a swordsman! When I get the chance, aside from slicing at enemies, I spit or blow sand in their face to catch ‘em off guard! Siegfried: So long as their missles aren’t A rank of higher, we should be fine. But I have a rising suspicion that they’re going to be like that now. Katsushika Hokusai: …Aye, I see. It’d be a problem for any swordsman… ‘Ey, Mastah, ye think that Nihon’s greatest swordsman here can handle it?
[O-rei-san can totally handle it]
Katsushika Hokusai: …Ehehe, yer right! I’d be glad to give ye my autograph in advance, Mastah! Siegfried: I’ve just received a report that the remaining teams have been taken out by Osakabehime’s. …I want to believe that this amazing feat wasn’t thanks to a trump card… But no, we shouldn’t rush in unprepared for such. I’ll prove to her that these glasses aren’t rose tinted at all…! Fou: Fou…
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