Moving In Slow Motion: 49.4% Complete

After buying a new laptop and paying that laptop off, I am back to pursuing my top priority, Project Buy A House.  As I go forward, I have a better idea of how much money I need to save for a downpayment after talking to a banker.
No, wait, the guy I talked to is not a crook!  The banker I talked to works for a credit union, which means he is somewhat more trustworthy.  At least I think he's more trustworthy.  At the very least, the credit union I talked with is not projecting a sense of being run by slimeballs.  However, since I do have a better idea as to how much money I need to save for a downpayment, I now know that amount is bigger than it was when I first started saving.
Yeah, I know, it's frustrating, but it was frustrating before, and now it's just a slightly increased amount of frustration.  But eventually this will pay off, right?  Right?  RIGHT?!?  Sigh.  Okay, let's do this.
Another payday has come around, and it's time to see just what I could buy with my money if I was not spending it on Project Buy A House.  After seeing my paycheck and taking out things like rent, insurance, and other incidentials, I have exactly $287.71 to not spend on myself.  Let's see what I am not buying.
My car, which I paid off as a part of Project Buy A House, has an all black leather interior.  Cars with all black leather interior tend to become very ward during the Summer months.  This is something I should have thought of in advance, but I don't think about the consequences of my long term plans before I make them.  Another example of this is Project Buy A House.
The Boston Red Sox sell a car sunshade that can help prevent your car from becoming very very very very hot during the Summer months.  Sure this is something that I should have bought in the Spring before the heat started, but shut up.  The Boston Red Sox Car Sun Shade costs $21.99, leaving me with $265.72 for me to not spend on myself.  Sigh.
UFC 164 is this weekend.  You can buy and watch this event online and legally for $54.99.  This leaves me with $210.73 for me to not spend on myself.  Sigh.
Since I do have a big fucking SUV, I need a GPS system to have in my big fucking SUV in order to pull off the entire "I'm a motherfucking doucebag with money, fuck you" aesthetic.  Since I am also tying to pull off this aesthetic on a budget, I need to incorporate things that I already own, like my iPhone.  What I need to do this is an iPhone 5 car mount, as well as a long lightening cable for my iPhone.  Since Apple doesn't sell long lightening cables, I need to buy a short lightening cable plus a USB extension cable.  Altogether, this entire package costs $37.72.  That leaves me $173.01 for me to not spend on myself.  Sigh.
Franz Ferdinand recently released a new CD called "Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action".  This CD is getting generally good reviews, and Franz Ferdinand is one of those bands I really got into during my lengthy college experience.  Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action is currently on sale for $9.99.  This leaves me $163.02 for me to not spend on myself.  Sigh.
There is also a new album coming out from Jack Johnson.  I haven't seen any reviews for it or heard any singles, but I fucking love this guy's music.  Currently you can get Form Here To Now To You for $11.88.  That leaves me $151.14 for me to not spend on myself.  Sigh.
Saint Row IV recently came out, and people have been raving about it since it came out.  I would have bought it when it came out, but Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  Saints Row IV is currently selling for $59.99.  That leaves me $91.15 for me to not spend on myself.  Sigh.
Let's end things with a list of books for me to not buy for myself that I totally would if not for Project Buy A House.  March Book 1, which is the first part of a series of graphic novels about John Lewis and his life and role in the civil right movement, is currently selling for $11.46.  Crazy Love is a book that takes an inside look at abusive relationships, how those relationships develop, and why people stay in those abusive relationships.  As powerful as Leslie Morgan Steiner's TED talk was, this book appears to be even more powerful.  Crazy Love is currently selling for $12.00.  Some Ginger is selling another book for $4.88.  Hubris by David Corn and Michael Isikoff, which details the manipulating of intelligence leading up to the Iraq War and serves as a cautionary tale for conflicts going forward, is currently selling for $11.45.  Tao Lin's Taipei, a book which was mentioned in the recent Rolling Stone article about him, is currently selling for $11.36.  Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, the final book from the unfortunately deceased David Raikoff, is currently selling for $20.05.

That leaves me with $19.95 for me to not spend on myself, which seems like just the right place to stop.  Sure I could go on, but my appetite for masochism has it's limit, and I have reached it.  Join me in two weeks when another payday will come and, because I've already paid my rent, I will have more money for me to not spend on myself in the pursuit of Project Buy A House.

"Quotes" About Boll

On Wednesday, August 28th, well known film director Uwe Boll launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his upcoming film, Postal 2.  The response to this Kickstarter campaign among video game fans was virulent, viscous, undeniably hostile, and, to be honest, banal.
Due to fact that this response was so lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring, I sought out comments from outside fans of video games.
Prominent movie critic Jeff Vice, pictured above on the left, said of this move, "It's good to see that this alleged director is no longer able to get funding for his half-baked, half-assed projects.  Now, if only he would do us all the favor of GOING THE FUCK AWAY!"
When reached for comment, Utah Senator and Tea Party leader Mike Lee said "What does this have to do with the defunding of Obamacare?"
Fred Willard is quoted as saying, "As long as I can masturbate to it in the theater, I'm fine."
James Franco is quoted as saying, "As long as I can masturbate to it in the theater, I'm fine."
Roger Ebert could not be reach for comment due to death.
During an appearance at a nightclub in Toledo, Ohio, Amanda Bynes was quoted saying of the Kickstarter campaign, "LOOK AT ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
As of this writing, current ESPN personality Keith Olbermann is quoted as saying, "What's a Uwe Boll?  Now, look at this picture of a sunset I took."
Bill O'Reilly, in response to the Uwe Boll story, is quoted as saying words that, as a liberal, I could honestly give a shit about.
As of this writing, radio personality Rush Limbaugh is quoted as saying, "Where the fuck are my pills!"
Finally, UFC fighter Chael Sonnen gave the following quote:

"This is an example of the free market at work.  Kickstarter is allowing more and more small business people to step outside of the typical corporate model and into the true marketplace of ideas.  I look forward to Mr. Boll's future endeavors, as well as the endeavors of other enterprising entrepreneurs.  Also, if you see Wanderlei Silva, tell him that I am going to fuck him up."

TMI About Hentai

On Tuesday afternoon, posted a story about data released by well known porn site Pornhub.  The article detailed information about keyword searches and which keywords are most popular in different states.  This information, which does not contain any actual pornography but does include information about pornography, can be found at this link.  Like many people would when presented with information like this, I looked up what the popular keywords were in my state.  Most people would find such information salacious.  I did not have this reaction to such information.
I live in Utah.  According to the information released by Pornhub, the three most popular keywords in the state of Utah were compilation, teen, and hentai.  The first two terms did not arouse any interest in me.  It makes sense to me that compilations of different pornographic videos would be popular, as well as video involving either teens or people who resemble teens.  The third term is what brought up memories for me: hentai.  These memories were not brought up because of anything positive.  Much to the contrary.
The disappearance of Susan Powell is a case that I followed closely given that Susan disappeared from a neighborhood near where I live.  Also there were frequent updates given by the various television news stations out here in the weeks, months, and, unfortunately, years since this mother of two disappeared.  These updates became only more tragic after the deaths of Susan's two sons at the hands of their father.  As a part of the investigation into Susan's disappearance, the West Valley City Police Department seized and searched the computers of Susan's husband, Josh.  The following is a quote from a ABC4News article, detailing some of the kind of pornography found on these computers:

"The images included characters from The Simpsons, The Flintstones, Jungle Book, Superman, The Rugrats, Cat Woman and Spongebob - just to name a few. The characters were shown in sexual activities like sodomy, fisting, incest and group sex. Many of the images depicted adult on children sex acts. Dr. Manley called Josh's possession and approval of the images "concerning.""

The reaction I have to finding out the popularity of hentai in my state is based on my general negative feeling about Josh Powell, as well as the negative connection I have to him and the kind of pornography he is alleged to have consumed.  I'm not saying that all people who consume this hentai are people like Josh Powell.  I'm just saying what I know about the Susan Powell case paints my reaction to pornography of this kind and the people who consume it.  Finding out this information about the people who consume pornography in Utah makes me wonder: Are the people in Utah who view this kind of pornography merely curious about what the news articles is referring to, or are the people in Utah who view this kind of pornography sincerely interested in seeing the kind of taboo laden images depicted in such material?

Final Fantasy XIV Orr What?

Over the past weekend, gamers across the world celebrated the revival of Final Fantasy XIV with praise on Twitter, live streams on differing internet video sites, and long gaming sessions, the volume of which caused sustained connections problems in certain areas of the world.  Long promised and much hyped, Final Fantasy XIV seems to finally be having the deep impact on the world that Square Enix banked on.  However, the impact this game is having may not be what Square Enix intended.
In an interview with the Playstation Blog, Final Fantasy XIV's Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida made several claims about the game as it goes forward.  One of the more significant claims was this one about upcoming updates to the game:

"We’re planning on doing a major update every three months once the game has been released, and continuously adding large-scale content. Ongoing support for the game will be included in the monthly subscription."

This comment has been met with skepticism given the prolonged delays in this game's development and release.  This comment also appears to have motivated a change to the way that a certain politician is approaching a city's revival.
On July 18, the largest municipal bankruptcy occurred when the city of Detriot filed for bankruptcy citing sustained population loss, significant entitlement liabilities, and the continued effects of the Great Recession.  This filing has caused more national attention to be paid to Detroit's Emergency Manager, Kevyn Orr.  Specifically people have looked into the effectiveness of other Emergency Managers in Michigan, how exactly Mr. Orr was chosen for this position, and the general displeasure the people of Michigan have toward Emergency Managers.  This displeasure among the people of Michigan lead to a referendum doing away with the position of Emergency Manager, a referendum that was ultimately overruled by the Michigan Legislature.
Rather than changing his approach to his official duties or the way he interacts with the citizens of Detroit, Kevyn Orr, pictured above, seemed to have dug himself in, insisting in public statement that the bankruptcy, rather than being due to anything he did, was caused by a feeling of entitlement in the city of Detroit.  In a interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Orr said "Detroit has been the center of more change in the 20th century than I dare say virtually any other city, but that wealth allowed us to have a covenant [that held] if you had an eighth grade education, you'll get 30 years of a good job and a pension and great health care, but you don't have to worry about what's going to come."  This, and other statements, has caused the former bankruptcy attorney to be slapped with the name "Motown's benevolent dictator".  However, Kevin Orr's approach to the public seems to have changed within the last twenty-four hours.
The Detroit Emergency Manager's Office released a statement that is significantly cheerier and optimistic that statements seen in the past.  Buried in this statement is the following line:

"We’re planning on doing a major update to the city every three months, and continuously adding large-scale content. Ongoing support for the city will be included in the all new monthly newspaper to be put out by this office, to be called The Patch."

Based on this line's close resemblance to one of the lines from the Playstation Blog's interview with Naoki Yoshida, either someone in the Detroit Emergency Manager's Office is pulling a prank, or Kevyn Orr has finally seen the good in working with the public that he will need in order to turn Detroit around.  Given the response to this statement on Twitter, the public seems to believe it to be a joke.  We will continue to follow this story as it updates.

Murder By Selfridge

On Monday, April 29th 2013, a tragedy happened in the small town of Saratoga Springs, Utah.  On that night, a young life was cut short when twenty-nine year old Anna Faustin, pictured above, was shot in the head with a twenty-two caliber rifle.  It became apparent almost immediately that the person responsible for this senseless act was Miss Faustin's long time boyfriend, thirty year old Jay Hamilton, pictured below.
Forensic experts with the Saratoga Springs Police were able to piece together a lot of the details about this case in a quick manner.  Quickly the Utah County District Attorney's Office knew who did the crime, with what weapons, and how those weapons were utilized in the crime.  However, there was one question that was left unanswered in this case: Why?  Why would a young man with a promising future murder the woman he most cared for in a manner that left no doubt of his guilt?  It now appears that prosecutors have an answer to that question.
On Monday, August 26th, Utah County District Attorney Jeff Buhman, pictured above, filed papers relating to the case against Jay Hamilton in preparation for a preliminary hearing, to be held on September 5th.  Buried in those documents is a statement from psychiatrist Dr. Maurice Chavez.  In that statement, Dr. Chavez puts forth the theory that Mr. Hamilton's actions may be driven by depictions seen in an episode of the PBS series Masterpiece Classic on Sunday, March 31st.  March 31st is the day that Mr. Selfridge premiered in America.
Mr. Selfridge is a British period television drama series about Harry Gordon Selfridge and his London department store Selfridge & Co.  Mr. Selfridge stars Jeremy Piven as the title character, as well as Frances, O'Connor, Tom Goodman-Hill, and Zoe Tapper.  Mr. Selfridge does not include heavy depictions of violence, but rather contains many depictions of a London department store in the early 1900's.
The court filings submitted on Monday do not go into detail as to how exactly Dr. Chavez ties together the crime and the British period drama.  Calls to Dr. Chavez's office looking for a statement went unanswered, as well as calls to the Utah County District Attorney.  We did get a statement from the star of Mr. Selfridge.  Through his agent, Jeremy Piven is quoted as saying, "This is an outrageous claim to make.  What's next, a claim that this murder was committed because of Grand Theft Auto?"

Whatever Beacons The Hawk Physical Release

Eleven years after the events of Consequences Of Mayorust, The Hawk finds himself dealing with many of the same issues that many of us deal with: A less than satisfying job, co-workers of variant annoyance, and a romantic life is unhealthy at best. Thrust into all this is Madison Medina, a well meaning woman who's adversarial relationship with The Hawk morphs into a kind of friendship. Madison, in addition to learning more about herself and her abilities, help to reveal deeper problems inside the organization both she and The Hawk work for. Whatever Beacons The Hawk

Whatever Beacons The Hawk is now out in physical form.  You can buy it here.  Or, you can download the PDF for free right here.  This way you can print yourself off copy of Whatever Beacons The Hawk for the low low price of nothing, or figure out how to put it on your personal digital book reading device for the low low price of also nothing.  Isn't nothing awesome?

Disappointed Sigh

So today was disappointing.  Remember when I said that I had to buy a new laptop?  I didn't do that because I wanted to.  I bought a new laptop because my old laptop broke.
A week before Christmas in 2008, my old laptop broke.  My old HP laptop broke in a way that rendered it inoperable.  Since I had been hearing their commercials for years, and heard glowing testimonials about their service, I went to PC Laptops.  PC Laptops is not a generic name for a computer store.  PC Laptops is a Utah based computer manufacturer/seller that offers, among other things, kick-ass laptops with a lifetime service guarantee.  In my hour of need, I went to PC Laptops looking to get my old broken HP laptop fixed.  My old broken HP laptop was broken in a way that they could not fix, but I was offered a deal on a new laptop, a deal I took them up on.
I took them up on their deal and for just over four and a half years I had a laptop that served me well.  Extremely well.  My PC Laptops laptop served me far better than my old broken HP laptop did, and better than I reasonably expected from a laptop computer.  Since three to five years is the expected lifespan of most laptops, I'd say that I was making out pretty well.  However, on July 25th, something happened.
I turned on my PC Laptops laptop one morning and the screen was dim.  Very dim.  I won't utilize an analogy to a Hollywood actor in order to describe the dimness, instead I will describe it literally.  Imagine the screen you are looking at right now.  Now imagine what that screen would look like if it was fully operational but had no backlight to it.  That is how my PC Laptop laptop looked.  I could still utilize the laptop's HDMI port to connect the laptop to another monitor, so the problem wasn't with the video card, the problem was with the screen.
But, no worries.  I had a lifetime service guarantee!  That means if I have a problem with my computer, someone who actually knows things about computers can figure out what's wrong and fix it.  YAY!  So I called down to one of the several local PC Laptops locations, got confirmation that was I thought was a problem was a problem, and made arrangements to get my PC Laptops laptop fixed.
Three weeks went by.  I occasionally got updates about the techs at PC Laptops thinking one thing was the problem, finding out it wasn't, then trying something else.  But still, I patiently waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Well, not completely patiently.  After all, I did buy a new laptop.  After three weeks of waiting, today I got an update.
The problem wasn't with the screen itself, or with something called a "Backlight Invertor", which is what illuminates the screen of the laptop.  The problem has to do with a faulty cable that connects the screen to the rest of the laptop.  You would think that a faulty cable would be a simple fix, just switch the cable.  However, since my PC Laptop laptop is just over four and a half years old, the techs at PC Laptops do not have any of the necessary cables in stock.
I'm not crafting this blog post to complain about PC Laptops.  In fact, I think they did good by me.  The amount of time and effort the techs put into fixing my PC Laptops laptop is something you would not expect from people doing it for free.  I was even offered a substantial trade-in toward another PC Laptops computer, which I would have taken advantage of if not for Project Buy A House.  And it's not like my PC Laptops laptop doesn't work entirely, like my old broken HP laptop did, it's just the screen that doesn't work.  It's just disappointing.  It's not that I wasn't thinking about getting a new laptop, it's just that I wasn't planning to do so untill after I accomplished Project Buy A House.  Now, after all of this, my goals have been pushed back a bit, and I have a PC Laptops laptop that I cannot use in the way that I did before.  Still, I do plan on going to PC Laptops when I accomplish Project Buy A House and get around to accomplishing Project World Dominating OmniPC.  Untill then, a boy can dream.

Volume 11: Epilogue

I first heard of the situation going on in Dolore on the morning of Friday, October 28th, 2011.  The reporter Hato Shurtleff refers to in his entry on that date was me, Vince Fielding.  It took the weekend for me to verify with my sources some of the details contained in the story.  I broke the story on Monday, October 31st on the website for the Velas Broadcast News Service.
Within hours of the story breaking the known details of the situation going on in Dolore were being spread worldwide.  Between television, radio, social media, internet, literally every modern form of media, as well as several ancient forms of media, this story reached people on every point on the globe.
Like with most things, it took politicians in Velas three weeks to acknowledge the story.  The politicians made statements, passed resolutions, condemned, promised, decried, did everything short of actually doing something.  Then the politicians did something truly aggravating.  The politicians in the Velasian Senate tried to deal with the situation going on in Dolore diplomatically.
Ambassadors were sent, special envoys were sent, celebrities were sent, artists were sent, businessmen were sent, all sorts of people who could do absolutely nothing were sent to Dolore.  All of those people who could do absolutely nothing did absolutely nothing besides get their picture taken, pictures purporting to do something when it did absolutely nothing.  Meanwhile a resolution was brought up in the general assembly of the International League.  A toothless ineffective resolution in a toothless ineffective organization, a resolution that was quickly vetoed by nations who hold the most sway in an organization with no sway in this world.
Then other things happened, things that drew attention away from the situation going on in Dolore.  The media blitz about this story died down, social media buzz started to taper off, and the politicians who gave the appearance that they gave a damn about the situation going on in Dolore stopped giving that appearance.  As far as I can tell, the situation going on in Dolore didn't stop, but the coverage of that situation did.
This is why Hato, Rinoa, and I have compiled this book.  It is our hope that this book will spark interest in the situation going on in Dolore once again.  Hopefully this will happen.  Hopefully.
Vince Fielding, reporter VBNS

Volume 11: Part 5- Amcan: Friday, October 28th, 3:36 A.M.

Part Five

Friday, October 28th, 3:36 A.M.
It was after midnight when the locomotive arrived at the train station in Amcan.  The train station we encountered appeared to be just as desolate as the one we departed from, which in the middle of the night can be quite unnerving.  Ushtar brought the locomotive to a slow stop.  The sound of the train shutting down seemed to echo throughout the entire station.  I could hear the soft impact of our shoes on the pavement bounce around all the little crevices in that station.  Rinoa was beginning to tighten her grip on my arm when, from behind a corner, a man in a green uniform appeared.
"Hello."  That word is the single most terrifying greeting I've ever experienced.  "Can I ask you what you're doing here at this time of night," the man in the green uniform said as the three of us continued to catch our breath.
Addressing the uniformed man, I said, "We're here from Dolore.  We just came in that train back there."
The man in the green uniform looked at the locomotive sitting just behind us.  "You mean that one with all the bullet holes in it?"
Rinoa, still holding onto my arm, said, "Yeah."
The man in the green uniform looked at the locomotive again.  "What happened to the windows on that thing?"
This is when Captain Ushtar Alie started acting like the solder he is.  Ushtar stepped forward, stood at attention in front of the man in the green uniform, and saluted him.  "Sir, Captain Ushtar Alie of the Vierdestad Opfer Military, stationed out of Vierdestad, Dolore."
There was a weird look on the man in the green uniform's face as he gave a weak salute and responded.  "Um, Howard Barratt, Amcan Transit Patrol.  Why are you being so formal toward me?"
Ushtar continued in his formality.  "Sir, we request you take us to a high ranking police or military officer to discuss the situation currently going on in Dolore."
Howard seemed more confused by this than by Ushtar's formality.  "What's the situation going on in Dolore?"
Rinoa was seemingly offended by Howard's question.  "You don't know what's going on in Dolore?"
Howard maintained his confused look.  "I haven't heard anything come out of Dolore since mid-September.  I don’t think anyone has.  Why?  What's going on?"
The confusion I saw on Howard's face caused me to tell his what was going on his a very blunt manner.  "The verbrechers have turned against the opfers.  In cities across Dolore, organized groups of verbrechers have taken up arms against the opfers.  They are killing us.  They are killing us all."
The confusion on Howard's face was replaced with complete horror.  "Oh God.  Come with me.  If that shit is happening again, we need to act fast."
We all climbed into Howard's car and got to a police station for the Amcan Police Department as fast as Howard's car could take us.  The police officers recognized Ushtar's military uniform and quickly went about getting the officials Ushtar wanted to talk to.  They also got us some coffee and something to nibble on.  Rinoa's eyes light up when she saw the box of doughnuts the offered us.
Ushtar's in a meeting now with an official with the Velasian Army, as well as the Amcan chief of police.  Rinoa and I are sitting in a waiting room just outside the office where the meeting is taking place.  This time waiting doesn't frustrate me as much as it did before.  I think that's mostly because Rinoa's sleeping on my shoulder.
There's a guy here hounding some of the officers looking for information about an assault case.  I heard him say he's from the Velas Broadcast News Service.  I'm going to go talk to him as soon as I'm done with this entry.  Rinoa might be woken up when I get up.  I think she'll understand.
Hato Shurtleff

Volume 11: Part 4- Vierdestad: Thursday, October 27th, 7:04 P.M. (Part 4)

Thursday, October 27th, 7:04 P.M.  (Part 4)

Many situations hold the possibility of being great for driving.  A scenic highway, a long flat straightaway, a snowy mountain pass, or a crowded city street, among others.  All that is necessary in order for that situation to be great for driving is the right automobile.  For a scenic highway, a velvety smooth luxury automobile is preferred.  For a long flat straightaway, a high powered sports car is preferred.  For a snowy mountain pass, a big beefy sports utility vehicle is preferred.  For a crowded city street, clearly an armored military vehicle is preferred, because, in a vehicle like that, you can run on, over, and through all the obstacles in front of you.  Needless to say, I had fun driving in between The Redford and the train station.  Ushtar kept on telling me not to run into things on purpose.  I ignored him.  Rinoa looked like she was enjoying the ride, except when I took a corner sharply and she whacked her head on the inside of the vehicle.  I feel sorry about that.  Slightly.
The train station was deserted when we got to it.  Much more so than normal.  I brought the armored military vehicle to a stop just inside the main platform, which was practically the first time I had touched the brakes on that vehicle.  Ushtar was much more aware of the layout of the train station than Rinoa and I, so he lead us over to where the locomotive was sitting.  Rather than the stereotypical old style locomotive you see in Westerns and in train museums, the locomotive sitting in the station was a modern style one with large windows on the front.  Ushtar told us to uncouple the rest of the cars from the locomotive while he got it started.  He assumed this would be a difficult task for us.  It wasn't.  Flip a switch, move a lever aside, and it was done.  Of course, I haven't told Ushtar it was that easy.  If he reads this, he's gonna be pissed.
The armed groups of verbrechers didn't notice us in the train station, or anything at all in the train station, untill the locomotive started moving.  It started slowly at first, but once the locomotive started picking up steam and started making noise, it caught the attention of verbrechers.  This is when they turned their guns on us again.  Ushtar, Rinoa, and I huddled down out of sight but they shot at us anyway.  The front windows got shot out quickly, followed by the little window on the door we used to enter the locomotive.  Glass showered down on us, adding to the debris in my at this point not flowing headwound.  Rinoa seemed particularly unnerved by this, closing her eyes and covering her ears as the verbrechers continued to hit the locomotive.  Ushtar would get up every so often to check the gauges or something.  I just sat there, next to Rinoa with my arm around her, in an odd state of calm.  I wasn't calm because the situation was calm.  I was calm because I knew that Rinoa ad I were going someplace safe.
Once the locomotive started pulling away from the city, the shooting started to let up.  After a moment of calm, Rinoa removed her hands from her ears and opened her eyes.  She looked around for a moment, then looked at me.  "Are we out of Vierdestad?"
I stood up and stuck my head out the window.  Smoke from the many fires buring in Vierdestad combined into a black plume which got smaller as we raced away from it.  "Yeah.  We are out of Vierdestad."
"Where are we going?"
Rinoa asking me this question sincerely puzzled me.  "You didn't know where we were going?"
"No.  I mean you said Velas but you didn't say where in Velas we are going."
"Why didn't you ask?"
"You said you needed me to trust you, so I did."
Rinoa trusts me.  Rinoa, a woman I love, who also loves me, trusts me.  This is something that I held up as a dream, a dream I didn't realistically think would happen.  While I was trying to hold back tears, Ushtar entered the conversation to say, "We're on our way to Amcan."
Rinoa looked at Ushtar and asked, "How long untill we get there?"
Ushtar, looking over the dials and gauges of the train, pulled out his phone and opened up the map program.  This is when I learned that Ushtar's phone had a map program on it.  He fiddled around with it for a while, then said, "About seven hours.  We probably won't reach Amcan untill after nightfall."
The smile that came to Rinoa's face when she heard that was simply beautiful.  It warmed my heart to see it.  The three of us talked for a while before Rinoa put her head down to sleep.  I'm watching her as I type this.  Watching her like this is how my day began.  I thought it might end like this, obviously not under these circumstances.  The wind is blowing through the cabin of the locomotive, causing Rinoa's hair to move like a branch on a tree with many leaves.  I am memorized by this woman and I hope that is always the case.
Goodnight my ebony queen.
Hato Shurtleff

Volume 11: Part 4- Vierdestad: Thursday, October 27th, 7:04 P.M. (Part 3)

Thursday, October 27th, 7:04 P.M.  (Part 3)

Last night, when Ushtar, Grace, Rinoa, and I had lunch and conversation, the are we were sitting in was marvelous.  The location had beautiful architecture, full leafy trees, well manicured shrubbery, recreations of classical sculpture, and an absolutely serene atmosphere.  That doesn't exist anymore.  The architecture, once beautiful, now lies in pieces strewn about the general area.  The leafy trees have been knocked down and trampled underfoot.  The blood of the dead feed the now disheveled shrubbery.  Water flowed, instead of into the ponds and other specified receptacles, into the street where it collected the dirt and the grime typical of city streets as well as the blood of the dead as it made its way to the stormdrain.  The formerly serene place had been obliterated by the advancing verbrecher forces, leaving many, many dead in their wake.
The obliteration of this serenity served to help me in getting to The Redford, as unfortunate as that might be.  The dead, the many unfortunate dead opfers, served as cover for me as I made my way through the more open areas of Vierdestad.  Whenever verbrechers, armed and bloodthirsty, would come near, I would imitate the dead.  My open and trickling headwound helped with this illusion.  It's not good to say that a situation this bad thing helped me, whether that help was a large amount or even the tiniest little bit, but that's what happened.
After slowly inching my way through the Vierdestad city streets, I finally got to the loading area in the rear of The Redford.  It was dark, mostly due to power being cut to the building.  There was nobody in this area, so I quickly made my way through the loading dock, into the restaurant area, up to the door leading to the lobby.  Slowly, I opened the door, efforting not to make a sound as I did so.  When I opened the door a crack and peered into the lobby of the hotel I did see someone.  Two verbrechers holding high powered assault rifled looking very menacing.  They were standing at the entrance to The Redford looking out.  Always looking out.  In fact, during the time it took me to walk across the lobby over to the flight of stairs, without making a sound, they never once looked into the lobby.  Verbrechers are stupid.
I didn't want to make a sound as I climbed the stairs up to the floor where I knew Rinoa was.  That turned out to be a good strategy because that place echoed and amplified every sound that entered it.  As I walked down the hallway toward the hotel room, I noticed that it looked like  every door in the hallway had been kicked in, including the door I was looking for.
I slowly approached the room Rinoa and I shared, afraid of what I would find inside.  When I looked inside I didn't see Rinoa.  Except for the door, the room looked perfectly in place.  The bed was made, my clothes were where I had left them, Rinoa's skirt and shoes carefully laid out on the table, nothing looked wrong, except for the fact that Rinoa wasn't there.  I was in a panic.  In my panic I yelled out for the woman I love.
"Rinoa!  Rinoa!  Rinoa!"
A still small voice called out to me, saying, "Will you shut the fuck up?  They'll hear you."
I looked around for the source of the voice.  I saw a hand emerging from under the bed waving me to crawl underneath.  Underneath the bed, among the dust, random bits of trash, and an appalling amount of empty condom wrappers, was Rinoa.   Lying prone on the concrete carpet next to her, I said, "Are you okay?"
"Yes, now shut up.  They might come back."
Rinoa didn't answer my question.  The sound of bootsteps echoing up the stairs did.  Closer and closer they came untill I could hear them in the hallway.  Soon these bootsteps were accompanied by voices.
"I thought we cleared this floor out."
"We did."
"Then what was that voice?"
"What voice?  I didn't hear anything."
"Were you listening for anything or just thinking about pussy?"
In the doorway I saw two sets of boots stop, point toward the room, then continued traveling down the hall.
"What the fuck do you think?"
"I think if you didn't think about pussy, you wouldn't think."
"You say that like it's a bad thing.  The male mind thinks about sex one every six minutes.  I'm just above average.  Furthermore..."
The men continued with their sexist conversation as they continued walking down the hallway.  Once their voices were out of earshot, I tried talking to Rinoa again in hushed tones.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah.  Are you?"
"Yeah.  How long have you been under this bed?"
"I don't know.  I don't have a watch on.  They started kicking in doors not long after you called.  I've been down here a while.  What took you so long?"
"I had to slowly crawl along the streets in order not to get spotted.  That's why I smell like blood and death."
"Yeah, that's what that smell is."
The voices from the hallway started getting louder so we shut up.
"I swear I heard something."
"You were just hearing things."
"No, I wasn't.  I swear I heard someone yelling up here."
"It was probably just the sound of the explosions coming in through a window or something."
"Yeah, I guess."
"You know what you need?  Pussy."
"Yeah, I guess.  I think I'll go down and fuck one of those freton bitches we've taken prisoner."
"Yuk!  That's like fucking garbage."
"True.  Also, like garbage, you can burn a freton when you're done with it."
The men continued laughing as their voices again faded away along down the hall.  Only when their voices were too soft to hear did I feel comfortable enough to speak.
"Okay.  Let's go."  I started to crawl out from under the bed when Rinoa grabbed my arm to stop me.
"Wait.  What if they come back?"
I turned toward Rinoa and looked her in her beautiful eyes.  "They're not going to get you.  I will not allow that to happen.  We're going to Velas and we're doing it together.  But, if we're going to do this, I need you to trust me."
I could see the confidence beginning to build on Rinoa's face.  "Okay.  I trust you."
I took Rinoa's hand and said, "Good.  Now, let's go."
We emerged from under the bed and ran down the hall away from the elevators and the stairs I had climbed earlier.  My assumption that there would be a flight of stairs to be used in case of a fire was proved correct.  This flight of stairs also echoed and amplified every noise that entered it.  If Rinoa had been wearing her heels when we left, we would have been toast.
At the bottom of the evacuation stairs was a door leading to a hallway.  At one end of the hallway was a door.  At the other end of the hallway was the main lobby of The Redford.  Not knowing where the door would lead us, I chose to head toward the lobby.  The darkness of the hallway coupled with the darkness of Rinoa and I's skin gave us plenty of cover.
When we got to the lobby, the two verbrechers who were guarding the door were nowhere in sight.  Rinoa wanted to run for the restaurant but I, thinking that the two might go back to their post, wanted to wait.  After a couple of minutes of waiting, Rinoa ran for the door to the restaurant.  She wasn't spotted.  I cautiously followed after her, looking out for the guards along the way.  They weren't there and Rinoa took that as a license that we were home free.
Rinoa ran through the restaurant toward the loading area.  When she got there she stopped cold and took cover behind a wall.  When I joined her, I saw why Rinoa had stopped cold.  The guards, the two verbrechers holding high powered assault rifles I had seen earlier, were standing in the loading area facing outward.  If they had been facing inward, we would be dead.  As we stood behind the wall, we listened to them and learned why they were facing outward.
"How come we have to do this out here?  Why can't we do this out front?"
"Other than we'd be doing it in front of everyone?"
"There are corpses out front, dead verbrechers as well as fretons.  Major Nicholas made it clear to us that we are not to piss on the dead."
"What do you mean why?"
"Why can't we piss on the dead?  Not that I think fretons are worthy of dignity, but we fuck their corpses.  What's the differences between defiling them one way and defiling them another way?"
"Major Nicholas said urinating on people is a form of torture and torture is more effective on the living because they can then go tell others of the horrors of their torture.  When we fuck we're just satisfying a biological need."
"But we're not torturing someone right now.  We're pissing because we have to piss."
"Look, the Major said don't piss on corpuses.  That's the order and that's where it stops for me.  Hey, what's that?"
"Oh, that looks like one of those armored military vehicles."
"Huh.  I guess the base must have fallen.  I wonder what they're doing here?"
"And why they're coming so fast."
There was a large crash after both of the guards yelled shit.  Silence followed this, a silence broken by a horn blaring and a man yelling.  "Hato!  Rinoa!  Hato!"  Rinoa and I poked our heads out to see what was going on.  In the loading dock sat a large armored military vehicle with Ushtar sitting in the front seat blowing the horn and yelling out the window.  "There you are!  I thought I was going to have to come in there to get you."
Rinoa ran across to the armored vehicle first.  When I got in, Ushtar told me to take the wheel while he took the giant gun on top of the vehicle.  Ushtar had a lot of faith in me to drive that vehicle, especially since most of my driving experience involves a video game.

Volume 11: Part 4- Vierdestad: Thursday, October 27th, 7:04 P.M. (Part 2)

Thursday, October 27th, 7:04 P.M.  (Part 2)

When I was in junior high, my Dad started to train me on an obstacle course set up at a park at the Opfer Cultural Center, a setup which is, no doubt, destroyed by now.  Dad started me off slowly at first, but eventually pushed me to go over this obstacle course in a full sprint.  Training on that course helped me to get to Grace's boutique.  The difference between my training and the sprint along the route to Grace's boutique was, instead of avoiding steel bars and kids with sticky hands, I was avoiding the dead.  Ushtar also avoided the dead in a swift manner, but he was a couple of steps behind me.
I turned the corner to a straight shot to Grace's boutique.  When I sat the storefront I saw a man, a verbrecher, drop a backpack in front of the mannequin wearing the hot lacy combination.  The mannequin is no longer there.  The backpack is no longer there.  The storefront is no longer there.  The store is no longer there.  I turned the corner in time to see the backpack be placed in front of Grace's boutique.  Ushtar turned the corner in time to see the backpack explode.
Ushtar's reaction to the explosion was understandable.  Ushtar forgot the environment he was in.  He forgot about the verbrechers, the guns, and the intent of the verbrechers carrying the guns.  In that moment Ushtar sprinted in the direction of the explosion to look for his love.  Only through the power of love and the grace of God does this result in something good.  In this case, Ushtar's thoughtless expression of his love resulted in him not getting shot.  I didn't get shot either, but I was much more deliberate about making sure that didn't happen.
When I got to him, Ushtar was frantically digging through the rubble that now fills Stilen's Silkenries.  Watching this from a distance, I felt I was watching a tragedy in process.  This tragedy reached its climax when Ushtar found Grace.  Grace was dead.  The explosion had killed Grace.  Ushtar was holding his dead lover.  When I saw this I saw a vision of myself holding Rinoa.  I saw this and I saw afraid.  This frightful vision was broken by a ringing phone.
I dashed over to the register, picked up the phone, and listened.  "Hello?  Grace?  Are you there?"  The sound of Rinoa's voice was a tremendous relief to me.
"Where's Grace?  Is she all right?"
"Where are you?"
"I'm at The Redford.  I haven’t left the room.  Are you all right?"
"Yes.  Are you safe?"
"I think so?"
"Good.  We're coming to get you."
"Yeah.  Ushtar and I are coming to get you.  We need to leave, now."
"Okay.  I love you, Hato."
"I love you too.  We're leaving, now."
Hearing Rinoa's sweet voice made me take my focus off Ushtar.  When I again focused on Ushtar I didn't like what I saw.  His face was a mix of overwhelming sadness and white hot rage.  I also saw Ushtar's gun positioned against his right temple.
With tears streaming down his face, Ushtar said, "Grace, I'm coming."
Across the store I ran, throwing myself at Ushtar before he could take his shot.  As I tried to wrestle the gun away from Ushtar, I tried to reason with him.  "Ushtar, you don't want to do this."
"Bullshit I don't."
"Give me the gun!"
"No.  I don't want to live without Grace."
As a last resort, I kicked Ushtar in the balls, allowing me the opportunity to tear the gun away from him.  As he was on the floor in pain, tears still flowing from his eyes, I began yelling at Ushtar.  "Don't you see man?  This is what the verbrechers want.  They want to torture us.  They want to slaughter us.  They want us dead, and if we're causing ourselves pain, if we're killing ourselves, all the better for them."
"They killed my wife.  We were going to have a life together, with children and a house with little daisies out front.  I've lost it now.  You don't know what that's like."
"You're right, I don't.  You may never have that for yourself, but you can prevent that from being taken away from someone else.  Ushtar, we have to get to Velas.  We have to tell the world what's going on here.  We have to do it."  As tears began to trickle down my face, I said, "Please.  I can't do this alone.  We have to do it.  For the sake of us, all of the opfers in Dolore, we have to get to Velas to tell the world what is going on here."
Ushtar wiped the tears from his eyes, took a couple of deep breaths, then looked at his fallen love.  I know that such a scene may happen to me in my life, but I hope that it's not for a very long time.  The gunfire from outside served as a way to break this scene.  "Okay, let’s get this done.  How do you propose we do this?"
I pulled back out my Hipster and started searching for routes we could take.  "I don't see any back alleys we could take to The Redford, and the train station is surrounded by busy streets.  If we had a car, this would be a lot easier."
"What about a big armored vehicle?"
"Yeah, but who has access to those?"
"I do.  The Vierdestad Opfer Military does.  There’s a whole fleet of them back at the base."
"Wouldn't that be the first thing anyone would go and hide in during a firefight?"
"Sure, if they could get into them.  However, the keys to the vehicles are in a safe with a biometric lock on it.  Only Captains and the Commander can open that safe."
"Captains like you?"
I looked at the map for The Redford.  It took me a second, but then I got an idea.  "There's a loading area in the back of The Redford.  If you can get there, I can get there with Rinoa."
"What makes you think they wouldn't blow The Redford up the same way they blew up this building?"
"I just talked to Rinoa.  She's at The Redford.  She's safe.  I'm going on blind faith that she still is."
Ushtar nodded his head and said, "Okay.  I'll go get the vehicle and meet you there."  Ushtar then started to go back to the base.  He was a couple of steps away from leaving Grace's boutique before he stopped and turned back toward me.  "Could you give me my gun?"
I was still holding the gun.  I had never held a gun before.  It felt odd to me to hold something that could easily kill someone.  Despite the oddness I felt, I hesitated in giving the gun back to Ushtar because I knew what he had just wanted to do with it.  The hesitation was only for a moment.  After that moment, I knew that I had faith in Ushtar, that he was going to go to the base and bring an armored vehicle to The Redford.  I had faith that Ushtar was not going to kill himself.  So I handed the gun to Ushtar.
"Thank you," Ushtar said to me as he ran out of the destroyed boutique, going back along the route we took toward the military base.