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Stokes's Bristol Nightclub incident in detail (From: The Comeback Summer by Geoff Lemon)
IF YOU’RE LOOKING for a place where misadventure could begin, you can’t go past Mbargo. The nightclub’s streetfront is painted a purple so bright you’ll see it in your dreams. Strings of giant sequins shimmer in the breeze. Its phonically inventive name is spelt in silver letters that climb its three-storey terrace facade. Inside are strips of burning neon, a few booths, floorboards so marinated in drink that they have an ingredients list. Bristol is a student city on England’s south coast crowded with music and nightlife and street art. This is Banksy’s home town, and the tourism board suggests in rather strong terms that ‘you would be a fool not to see his amazing work firsthand’. The same organisation describes Mbargo as ‘intimate’, which is fair for a place where you can catch an STI standing up. Students cram into its modest dimensions while people with names like DJ Klaud battle for billing with £1.50 drink deals over seven sloppy nights a week. To get a sense of the story about to come, consider that it’s the kind of place open until two o’clock on a Monday morning, and that at two o’clock on a Monday morning, Ben Stokes still thought it had closed too early. The Ashes of 2017–18 had disciplinary bookends. It was after that series that Australia’s two leaders went off the rails in South Africa. It was a few weeks before that Ashes tour that England’s biggest star windmilled his way into his own disaster. In the early hours of 25 September 2017, Stokes and teammate Alex Hales were barred from re-entering Mbargo after a night out on the piss. A Sunday thrashing of an abject West Indies in an ignored series at the fag-end of the season apparently required ample celebration. After arguing with the bouncer and hanging about at the door for a while, they wandered off to find a casino in the hope of more drinking. They’d barely made it around the corner before getting in the middle of a conflict between four locals. As is said on the internet, it escalated quickly. The 26 September reporting was bloodless. Withholding names, police stated that a man ‘was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm’ while another went to hospital with facial injuries. England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss separately confirmed that Stokes was the arrestee, adding that he had been released without charge and that Hales had gamely offered to ‘help police with their enquiries’. Administrators had a good chance of hiding behind that investigation, and the next day Stokes was named in the upcoming Ashes squad as expected. But that night the video emerged. Bristol student Max Wilson had shot it on his phone, then offered it to The Sun. What he thought was playing hardball was actually lowball: his opening price of £3000 was snapped up by a tabloid that would have paid ten times that. The Sun went on to make a mint by syndicating the rights worldwide. From a window above the fray, the vision showed six men on the street below performing the muddled choreography of a melee. One was right at the centre of it. One was waving a bottle, one dipped in and out, one tried to calm it. Two others floated around the edges. The central figure was unmistakable: red hair burning even in the streetlight as he launched into a series of blows against two of the men, falling to grapple with them on the ground, then following both across the street, swinging punches the whole way. Hales trailed behind, repeatedly and impotently shouting ‘Stokes! Stop! Stokes! Enough!’ The ECB could fudge issues that existed only in thickets of legalese, but not those captured in moving colour. Stokes was stood down from the next West Indies match, then suspended indefinitely. It emerged that he had broken his hand during the fight, something he’d done twice before while punching objects in dressing rooms. The response in Australia was fierce: Stokes was a thug, a lowlife, a selection that would disgrace England. It was not entirely coincidental that a ban for England’s best player would be handy for the Aussie team, but there was also a cultural split. In England, plenty of people still minimise pub fights as lads letting off steam. In Australia, heavy media coverage as a succession of young men were killed had inverted that tolerance. The discourse now saw any punch as potentially deadly and accordingly reckless. This was more poignant in a cricket context given that David Hookes, the dashing Test batsman and state coach, was killed in 2004 by a pub bouncer’s fist. The PR situation was bad for Stokes as details emerged of the injuries to the men he’d hit, and that one was a young war veteran and father. Stokes wasn’t officially removed from the Ashes squad through October but stayed behind when his teammates left, hoping for police to dismiss the matter in time for a late dash to Australia. His annual contract was renewed on the due date in case that came to pass. Then 29 October brought a twist in the tale. ‘Ben Stokes praised by gay couple after defending them from homophobic thugs,’ ran the headline. Kai Barry and Billy O’Connell had emerged. Not entirely out of nowhere: while Stokes had made no public comment, this story in his defence had initially been leaked to TV host Piers Morgan after the fight, as soon as the video appeared. Police body-camera footage played in court would later show that Stokes had given the same story to the arresting officer on the night. But no-one knew the identities of the fifth and sixth men in the video, and police appeals had turned up nothing. It was The Sun again with the breakthrough. Kai and Billy were perfect for a readership not keen on nuance. ‘We couldn’t believe it when we found out they were famous cricketers. I just thought Ben and Alex were quite hot, fit guys,’ said Kai, who was memorably described as a ‘former House of Fraser sales assistant’. The paper had the pair do a full photo shoot: layering the fake tan, showing off chest waxes, mixing Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton into a range of outfits. Their best shot had them standing back to back, heads turned to the camera, in a mirror-image Zoolander moment. Suddenly The Sun was the England team’s best friend. ‘Their claims could lead to the all-rounder being cleared over the punch-up and freed to play in the First Test in Australia next month,’ it gushed, then gave a tasting platter of quotes: ‘We were so grateful to Ben for stepping in to help. He was a real hero.’ ‘If Ben hadn’t intervened it could have been a lot worse for us.’ ‘We could’ve been in real trouble. Ben was a real gentleman.’ Would it be known forever as Kai and Billy’s Ashes? No. While the Bristol boys provided spin for Stokes’ reputation they didn’t influence the police. With charges still pending there was little choice – not given Strauss had previously sacked Kevin Pietersen for being annoying. Stokes remained suspended through the Ashes and a one-day series in Australia, and lost the vice-captaincy. It was January 2018 before the Crown Prosecution Service laid a charge. That charge surprisingly came in as affray, a crime that can carry prison time but is classified as ‘a breach of the peace as a result of disorderly conduct’. The men he had punched, Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, faced the same count, charged as equal participants in a fight rather than Stokes being charged with assaulting them. Alex Hales was not charged, despite being seen in the video to aim several kicks when Ryan Ali was lying on the ground. Given the underwhelming standing of the offence, Stokes was cleared by the ECB to tour New Zealand, and kept playing until his trial in August 2018, which he missed a Test to attend. None of the three defendants would be convicted. The reasoning behind the charges was never released and was attributed vaguely to ‘CPS lawyers’. The service gave the case to Alison Morgan, a prosecutor of a class known as Treasury Counsel who usually handle serious criminal matters. Morgan had a scheduling clash and never ended up court for the case, but in 2018 and 2019 she would go on to win damages and admissions of libel from The Daily Mail, The Times and The Daily Telegraph variously for incorrectly reporting that she had been responsible for the inadequate and inconsistent charging decisions. Morgan’s successor on the case was Nicholas Corsellis QC, who on the first day of trial was permitted by the CPS to request two assault charges be added against Stokes. ‘Upon further review,’ claimed a CPS statement, ‘we considered that additional assault charges would also be appropriate.’ This was patent nonsense from the service that eight months earlier had chosen the lesser charge. Any lawyer knows that no judge will allow new charges once a trial has begun, because the defence hasn’t had time to prepare. But such a request could deflect criticism of the prosecution service by technically making the judge the one who disallows the charge. Working through the story from the trial and the tape is complicated. You had a Ryan and a Ryan, a Hale and a Hales, a Billy and a Barry and a Ben. You had several versions of events as to who knew whom, who was drinking with whom, who had insulted whom and who had merely engaged in ‘banter’, a word that in modern Britain has to do an unconscionable amount of lifting. The reporting had constantly mixed up the Ryans as to who had which injury, who was in hospital, who had played which part in the fight, and whose mum had which stern words to say about it. Let’s agree that from now Ryan Ali is Ryan One, the firefighter who ended up with a fractured eye socket and a cracked tooth. Ryan Two can be Ryan Hale, the soldier who scored concussion and facial lacerations. Mr Barry and Mr O’Connell are best known per The Sun as Kai and Billy. In scorecard parlance we’ll leave the cricketers as Stokes and Hales. Amid the confusion, Stokes and his lawyers built his case in a straightforward way. The UK legal definition of affray is ‘if a person threatens or uses unlawful violence or force towards another person, which causes another person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their safety’. That means it doesn’t account for violence that harms a target, but violence that might frighten a theoretical bystander. The wiggle room for Stokes was with ‘unlawful’, because the charge excuses violence in defending oneself or others. This interpretation hinged on the beginning of the video, where Ryan One waves a beer bottle about and takes a swing at Kai. The version from Stokes was that he was minding his own business walking down the street when he heard homophobic abuse. He intervened verbally and was threatened verbally by Ryan One – something that Ryan One denied but that couldn’t be proved or disproved. In fear for his safety Stokes had to nullify that threat by bashing Ryan One before it went the other way. He registered Ryan Two in his peripheral vision as another possible threat, and again had only one recourse. Stokes also had to convince the jury to disregard testimony from Mbargo’s bouncer that he had been looking for a fight. A solid lump of a man, Andrew Cunningham had not enjoyed his patron’s attempts to get back into the club after the bouncer declined an offer of a bribe. ‘He got a bit verbally abusive towards myself. He mentioned my gold teeth and he said I looked like a cunt and I replied, “Thank you very much.” He just looked at me and told me my tattoos were shit and to look at my job.’ Cunningham described these words as coming in ‘a spiteful tone, quite an angry tone’, and said that Stokes still seemed angry as he walked away. These were details the doorman had nothing to gain by inventing, but each of them Stokes denied. By his own accounting he had drunk a beer at the game and three pints at his hotel, then ‘potentially had some Jägerbombs’ along with half a dozen vodkas at the club. He insisted that after all of this he was not drunk. If I may take a moment here to call upon the wisdom of experience – a person who cannot definitively say whether they have had any Jägerbombs has definitely had some Jägerbombs. A Jägerbomb is an experience that does not pass one by. Further to that, a person who says they have ‘potentially’ done something has definitely done that thing and doesn’t want to admit it. A person who has had between 15 and 24 standard drinks in one evening is shitfaced. A person who tries to bribe a bouncer £300 – three hundred quid! – to get into Mbargo – Mbargo! – is beyond shitfaced. If Stokes admitted that he was drunk then the prosecution could say he was out of control. He claimed clear recall of assessing a threat, feeling fear and deciding to protect himself with force. He confidently denied details from the bouncer’s testimony, like using the word ‘cunt’ or mentioning gold teeth. Yet on other details he claimed a ‘significant memory blackout’. He didn’t remember the punch that saw Ryan One taken away by ambulance. He didn’t remember what the Ryans had said to Kai and Billy, only that those words were homophobic. With no head injury, as one of the few people who hadn’t been hit, he had supposedly suffered this memory loss despite being sober. The version from Kai and Billy was compatible but vague: they had been walking along, they ‘heard … shouts’ of abuse from an unspecified source, then Stokes ‘stepped in’ and thus they avoided possible harm. They claimed to have been bought a drink by Stokes at Mbargo, although CCTV showed them meeting outside. The overall implication from both accounts was that the cricketers had been pals with Kai and Billy, while the Ryans as per The Sun’s headline were a roving band of thugs. The reality though is that the Ryans were the ones hanging out with Kai and Billy at Mbargo. Police discussed CCTV from inside the club in questioning and at trial. On that footage the four Bristolians bought drinks for one another, danced together, and Kai was noted to have variously touched Ryan Two’s crotch and Ryan One’s buttock. Ryan One told police that all of this was taken lightheartedly and wasn’t a problem. Indeed, when the Ryans called it a night the other two left with them. This much is clear from footage out the front of Mbargo, which shows Kai and Billy exit the club and start talking with a subdued Hales and a demonstrative Stokes, who are stuck outside. The vision was played in court to determine whether Stokes was antagonistic towards Kai and Billy, as he appears to impersonate them and to throw a lit cigarette their way. More interesting is that after a few minutes the Ryans emerge, and all six actors in the fight video briefly form a prequel in the one frame. Ryan Two pats Billy on the chest in friendly fashion with his right hand before clapping him on the back with his left. He moves past and does the same to Kai before leaving the shot. Ryan One stops to speak to Kai. They lean in for a moment, talking, then Kai turns and they walk out of frame together. Billy hangs around for a few seconds at the door and then looks after them and races to catch up. Stokes and Hales remain outside the club to remonstrate further with the bouncers. Whatever discord develops around the corner is between four men who left amicably together minutes earlier. There’s no way to know what caused that friction. If Ryan One did use homophobic slurs, he might have been drunkenly obnoxious for no reason. He might have had an insecure macho response to some extra flirtation. He might have thought unkindness was funny – ‘banter’ once again. Or he might have said something that was misunderstood, as both Ryans insisted in court that they had not used nor had the impulse to use any abusive language. What clearly didn’t happen was an attack by bigots on random passers-by. This kind of crime is regular enough that an audience understands the horror of it, and this is what was evoked by the public accounts of Stokes, Billy and Kai. All we know is that there was some verbal dispute among the Bristol locals, and that Stokes came along behind them and put himself in the middle of it. Ryan One responded to the interference aggressively and away they went. There are plenty of reasons to look sideways at the idea that Stokes was a saviour. Foremost, neither Kai nor Billy was called upon as witnesses in court. You’d think it would be ideal to have Stokes’ story backed up by those who benefited from his selflessness. But his defence team had developed the impression that the pair had shown a changeable recall of events amid a hard-partying lifestyle, and would be dismantled by the prosecution on the stand. That raises the question of whether The Sun coached their quotes for the 2017 interview. Despite missing court, Kai and Billy clearly enjoyed the attention. In 2018 after the trial they did a follow-up spread in the same paper about how poor Ben had been mistreated. They got a television spot on Good Morning Britain and glowed about his heroism. In 2019 The Sun wheeled them out once more to say that Stokes should get a knighthood. In 2017 they had ‘never watched cricket’ but by 2019 were supposedly volunteering sentences like, ‘He saved us, now he’s saved the Ashes.’ Whether they were paid for these appearances is not known, but the chance to be famous for a day can be lure enough. If you find this cynical, consider that on the night in question, the Bristol boys were so deeply moved and thankful for Ben’s intervention that they left him to be arrested and never attempted to find out who he was. Seconds after the video ended, an off-duty policeman reached the scene. You might think that someone grateful to a saviour would speak on his behalf. Instead, said Kai, ‘it all got a bit scary so we walked off. It was too much for me and we went to Quigley’s takeaway for chicken burgers and cheesy chips.’ They didn’t give their hero a thought for over a month while police issued multiple appeals for witnesses. As for Stokes, he told his arresting officer that ‘his friends’ had been attacked. After three minutes of chat outside a nightclub, these friends were so dear to him that he has never contacted them again: not after the newspaper piece, not after the verdict. He didn’t want to see how they were or thank them for their support. He didn’t mention them by name in his solicitor’s statement after the trial. The Stokes defence rested on Ryan One’s bottle, which he had carried out of Mbargo to finish a beer, not to use in a Sharks versus Jets amateur production. But once he turned it over to hold it by the neck it became a weapon. Intent and interpretation can change the material nature of things. Part of Stokes’ justification in court was that the bottle implied that the two Ryans might have ‘other weapons’ hidden away. You can understand how a jury could decide that created doubt. Not being convicted, though, doesn’t give the contents of the video a big green tick. It does not, as his lawyer claimed, vindicate Stokes. Looking in detail, Ryan One is belligerent but his movements telegraph a bluff. Hales is the person he’s gesturing at, but they’re several metres apart when Ryan One cocks his arm ostentatiously, showing off the bottle rather than bracing to swing. He skips forward but Hales skips back and Ryan One doesn’t follow. Kai stretches out an arm to impede Ryan One, who has a drunken stumble, nearly eats pavement, then staggers towards Kai and hits him in the back. That hand is still holding the bottle, but his strike is a side-arm cuff on a soft part of the body. It’s all pretty tame. This is where Stokes gets involved. Having moved across to protect Hales, he now takes three large steps to run around Kai and booms his first punch at Ryan One. They fall to the ground and the bottle clinks away. Stokes gets to his feet to punch down at the fallen man, while Hales arrives to kick him ineffectively then runs off across the street for some unknown reason. Ice-cream van? Stokes is soon back in the grapple having his shirt pulled up to show off his Durham tan. Ryan Two steps in for the first time to pull Stokes away, prompting a couple more random punches at this new target, then Stokes trips backwards over Ryan One and sprawls in the street. Hales chooses this moment to return and aim some solid kicks at the head of the man on the ground. Nothing so far is a triumph of moral philosophy or the pugilistic arts. But if it all stopped here, perhaps you could say it was somewhere approaching fair. Ryan One has behaved like a turnip and it’s not an entirely unjust world that would give him a whack across the chops. The antagonists have disentangled, Stokes has some distance, it’s time to dust off and go home. Ryan Two steps forward for this purpose with his palm raised in conciliatory style and says, ‘Settle down, stop.’ So Stokes punches him. It’s roughly his fifth punch overall, and he really winds up into this one. He misses so hard that he stumbles away into the shadows of the shop awnings along the road. Hales starts shouting for him to stop. Ryan Two backs into the street, still holding his palm up. Stokes closes on him from about five metres away, six large steps, to where Ryan Two is standing on his own. Stokes pushes him a couple of times, as Ryan Two keeps trying to placate him and saying ‘Stop.’ Stokes throws his sixth punch, largely missing as his target ducks. Ryan Two keeps pulling away and reversing, into the middle of the street now. Stokes follows him, grabbing his sleeve to drag him back. By this point Ryan One has found his feet and walked around behind his friend. Both of them are in the same line of sight for Stokes, and both are backing away. Stokes aims his seventh and his eighth punches, which Ryan Two tries to deflect, as Hales walks up behind Stokes to grab him. Stokes yanks away from his friend and switches to Ryan One instead, taking seven paces to grab him before throwing his ninth punch of the night. He grabs again; Ryan One blocks that arm and pushes himself back away from Stokes. Ryan Two again intercedes, putting himself between the two with his palms up and his arm extended. Stokes throws his tenth punch, a right-hander at the face of Ryan Two, then shoves him backwards. Ryan Two backs away once more, four paces. Stokes follows, steadies, lines up, then launches his strongest punch yet, his eleventh, a proper right hook from a solid base, one that cracks across the man’s head and gives him concussion. Ryan Two ends up flat on his back in the middle of the street, his hands still outstretched for a moment in useless protest until they twitch and drop to the blacktop. Stokes isn’t done. He once more shoves away the restraining Hales and follows Ryan One, who keeps backing away saying, ‘Alright, alright, alright.’ Five more paces from Stokes before another blow at the man’s head. Kai and Billy are now standing over the poleaxed Ryan Two. The video ends, but seconds later Stokes will punch Ryan One hard enough to knock him out too, before off-duty cop Andrew Spure arrives on the scene to bring down the curtain. When the body-camera footage kicks in some minutes later, Stokes is in handcuffs but Ryan One is still laid out in the street. Ryan Two has regained consciousness, folded his shirt under his friend’s head and is asking police for an ambulance. ‘At this point, I felt vulnerable and frightened. I was concerned for myself and others.’ This was how Stokes described that sequence to the court. An elite athlete with years of gym work and training to snap a bat through the line of a ball with astounding power and precision, swinging fists as hard as he can at men with none of those advantages. Punching so hard that he breaks his hand, and repeatedly shoving away a friend so he can punch some more. Frightened and threatened by two targets shouting ‘Get back!’ and ‘Stop!’ The off-duty officer testified that Stokes ‘seemed to be the main aggressor or was progressing forward trying to get to’ Ryan One, who was ‘trying to back away or get away from the situation’. The student who filmed the video can be heard on the tape at one stage exclaiming ‘Fuck!’ and testified that it was because ‘I felt a little bit sorry about the lad that had been punched and it looked like he had his hands up’. That tallied with the prosecutor’s depiction of ‘a sustained episode of significant violence that left onlookers shocked at what was taking place’. The defendant stuck to his strategy. ‘No, my sole focus was to protect myself.’ All up, in the 33 seconds of footage after he falls over, Stokes takes 35 steps forward to keep hitting two men who keep trying to get away. Not once is he hit back. After the verdict, Stokes’ solicitor positioned him as the victim. It had been ‘an eleven-month ordeal for Ben … The jury’s decision fairly reflects the truth of what happened that night … He was minding his own business … It was only when others came under threat that Ben became physically engaged. The steps that he took were solely aimed at ensuring the safety of himself and the others present …’ The statement was impossibly self-righteous and self-absorbed. If there was anyone to feel sorry for it was Ryan Hale, the second of our two Ryans. He’s the one who emerged from the club with a friendly arm around the shoulder for Kai and Billy. He’s the one who interposed himself to end the fight, then kept putting himself back in the firing line, trying to calm an intimidating stranger while dodging blows. For his show of restraint he got laid out regardless, concussed in the street, then was issued a criminal charge equal to that of the man who hit him, and described in national media as a violent bigot in an untested story to support that man’s defence. Lawyers for Ryan Two made a more convincing post-trial statement, noting that Kai and Billy, ‘neither of whom were relied upon by the prosecution or the defence team for Mr Stokes, have taken the opportunity to speak with various media outlets about the alleged homophobic abuse that they received in the early hours of September 25. Mr Hale has passionately denied this allegation throughout the course of this case,’ it continued. ‘It is upsetting to Mr Hale that although he was acquitted, the accusation that he was the author of such abuse remains. Both Mr Hale and Mr Ali were knocked unconscious by Mr Stokes, and although Mr Stokes has been acquitted of an affray, Mr Hale struggles with the reasons why the Crown Prosecution Service did not treat him as a victim of an unlawful assault.’Good question. Avon and Somerset police were the investigating force, and they were frustrated by the decision. Ryan Two was filmed clearly not hurting anyone, but police were instructed by the CPS to proceed with a charge. Hales (the cricketer) was filmed fighting but ‘a decision was made at a senior level of the CPS’ not to proceed. Police expected Stokes to be charged with assault but the CPS declined. It doesn’t take a wild cynic to think that placing the same lukewarm charge on three men for vastly divergent behaviour might ensure that none would be convicted, even as the trial would maintain the pretence that a defendant of influential standing had not been given a free pass. A couple of years down the line, the original interview with Kai and Billy has disappeared. All traces have been scrubbed from The Sun website, its social media history, and even from the Wayback Machine internet archive. Given its headline of ‘homophobic thugs’ and text that names Ryan Two but not Ryan One, the libel liability isn’t hard to spot. Later interviews with Kai and Billy take the passive voice – they ‘suffered homophobic slurs outside a Bristol nightclub’. The article that was once claimed to exonerate brave Ben Stokes now links only to a missing content page, with a picture of a dropped ice-cream cone and the phrase ‘legal removal’ inserted into the web URL. In terms of consequences, Stokes missed one tour. When he resumed his career in January 2018, the Australians hadn’t yet ruined theirs. Their year-long bans looked much more stringent. But the Stokes case dragged on in other ways. With no criminal liability, the Australians confessed promptly enough for the sporting world to give them the full length of the lash. Their situation was ugly but there was closure. Stokes got stuck in legal stasis, unable to be fully backed or condemned. Instead his issue was always present, a browser full of open tabs that the ECB swore they would read any day now. Through 2018 Stokes was back but he wasn’t back, in the sunglasses and finger-guns sense. In his return one-day series he nearly cost England a match with 39 from 73 balls in Wellington. His first Test hit was a duck as England got rolled in Auckland for 58. At Trent Bridge while Stokes was injured, England posted a world record 481 against Australia. With Stokes three weeks later at the same ground they made 268. He crawled to 50 from 103, the second-slowest any Englishman had reached that milestone in 20 years. That span covered Alastair Cook’s whole career. It was apologetic batting, acting out responsibility via the scorecard. Stokes was creeping back into the team like he’d been kicked out in a blazing row and was hoping to tip-toe to the sofa. It was December 2018 before the ECB disciplinary committee ruled on him and Hales. In a ‘remarkable coincidence’, wrote Simon Heffer in The Telegraph, ‘the punishment both players faced in terms of bans from playing at international level was covered by the amount of games they had already missed when dropped by England’s selectors, in the furore that followed the incident’. The verdict compounded the omissions around the case by not addressing the violence at its heart. Nor did Stokes, apologising only ‘to my team-mates, coaches and support staff’, and then ‘to England supporters and to the public for bringing the game into disrepute’. The implicit next step was to rebuild that reputation. It might have been easier had his court defence not meant that he wasn’t game to admit any fault at all. It might have been easier if he or his advisers had been willing to change tack once the trial was done. Imagine a world where Stokes had stood outside court and apologised for overreacting, for the injuries he’d caused, and for the time and energy he had sucked out of other people’s lives. That would have been a show of responsibility beyond a scorecard. When the time came around to assess forgiveness, it might have meant forgiveness was deserved.
Howdy there partners, and welcome to the Wasteland’s finest rodeo! Down here in Texas and good old Oklahoma, things work differently from the rest of the Wasteland. Oh yes, you see here we’re a fine folk, a refined folk, the kind of people who greet you with smiles and a face-full of buckshot if you even think about whipping out your tire iron. Yes, life here is simple, rustic, and downright apocalyptic... The region in all its glory! That’s right Wastelanders, it’s time for another exciting dev diary! Today, we’re focusing on just some of the map changes and additions brought to you by the team. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll reveal more about the factions you see before you, more of our other map changes, and give you some tasty insight into the way things work past the Legion’s border.To begin with though, why don’t we delve deep into the twisted guts of the map itself, and pull back the veil on this beautiful view you’d love to call home. Aren't provinces beautiful? Every map expansion begins here, the province map. For this update, a big focus for me was returning to my roots when it came to province design. More small, organic provinces, built up into many states that a great number of nations can occupy. The new playable region brought forth in 3.0 feels as dense and lively as the West Coast, without having nearly as many provinces dotted along its shoreline. There’s a vast variety of terrain in 3.0, from jungle, to marsh, to plains, urban, and deserts. 3.0 feels and plays like a small microcosm of the larger map, an area rich with lore from a game many people don’t even know about.Before we talk about that, though, let’s take a look at the states. Dare you count all these states? If you took the arduous time to count all of that before reading, let’s see if you were right! That’s 96 new states. Oh yes my friends, that’s right, your faithful friend here didn’t stutter now, did I? We’ve got 96 new states for you to control, conquer, and explore in 3.0: and they’re full of interesting characters.Why don’t we get on to that, actually? In 3.0, we’re representing the lore of the often hated and forgotten Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, as well as it’s cancelled sequel; Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2. Many of you may have never heard about these games, let alone played the first, so it’s time for a little history lesson. After the defeat of Unity, the super mutant army of the Master fractured into many pieces. Two leaders arose from the ashes, and they led large hordes of mutants out of California to greener pastures for plunder and glory. The important one is Attis, who led his new troops to Texas, in an attempt to uncover the secrets of FEV. A brotherhood detachment had already left to face off against the first mutant general, and with Attis’ departure, another group inside the Western Brotherhood wanted to chase them down. The Council of Elders said no, fearing another disaster like that which had happened to the first group, but ultimately a splinter faction formed. It was led by none other than High Elder Rhombus, and he led a group of scribes and paladins to chase down the largest super mutant army in the West, forming what would later be known as the “Texas Expedition.”Settling into the heartland of Texas, this new offshoot developed themselves, recruiting from the local population. They ran them through a training course utilising hologram technology, turning them into initiates. One of these initiates became the protagonist of Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, and went on a large journey, tracking Attis all the way to his target destination: the Secret Vault. The Secret Vault was the holy grail for Attis, a place where the secrets of FEV were laid bare, and the secret headquarters of Vault-Tec. Built under the nose of the US, it was the control centre of all Vault-Tec infrastructure, designed to facilitate what Vault-Tec promised thousands of Americans: a safe life underground. The Vault was equipped with state of the art facilities to conduct unethical experiments, and was staffed by unique robots unlike anything the player had ever seen before, or since. Attis would eventually turn himself into a true abomination, an amalgamation of flesh and FEV, taking after the Master’s image in a final face-off against the protagonist. Thus ended Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 1. We must now go more than a hundred years into the future, a mere decade before OWB starts. The Brotherhood have consolidated their power, but outside threats are pressuring their organisation. Attis Army has split into two halves, led by two mutants respectively. Shale, a die-hard mutant supremacist who wants to reform the Army, and Keats; a super mutant who wishes to create a place in which super mutants and humans live and work together in harmony, free from oppression. But underneath the surface, a great plot is brewing. Reese, a former member of the Cyphers, a group who despise technology in all its forms, has acquired a broken GECK. This GECK has the ability to mutate anything it touches, twisting the world around it into a mockery of life itself. It is the Corrupted GECK, and Reese has big plans for it. He seeks to destroy the Texan Brotherhood, and plunge the region into chaos. The protagonist of the cancelled Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2 went across Texas, on the hunt for many things, but eventually Reese himself. They entered Lone Star, where they found evidence of his tampering, and scouts of the Legion. They travelled throughout Brotherhood territory, watching as the group was set upon by numerous raider gangs, all coordinated and persuaded by Reese. They visited Austin, where the tensions between the two super mutant factions was growing. Originally, Keats would always die. You could choose between Shale or Keats, but ultimately, he was always assassinated during a speech. But we decided that was boring. Scarlet (our protagonist of choice) saved Keat’s life, becoming bros for life in the process, and Shale was exiled from Austin alongside his goons. They then travelled, finally, to The Corpse. Within the ruins of a sunken Corpus Christi, Reese’s lair waited in the harbour, and there a final battle ensued. Everything up until now, barring Keat’s survival, is canon. Now, let’s jump into the juicy OWB fanon. Ultimately winning the fight, Scarlet took his GECK and hauled it across Texas, travelling a great distance to a remote location, far from large and established communities. She put the GECK down in what was to be its final resting place, and became its guardian and protector. Over the decade, its influence spread, creating a beautiful but deadly blood red canopy of mutant fauna, a place the natives of Texas refer to as Eden. Any and all who enter the twisted jungle without permission wind up dead, victim to the protagonist’s legendary assassination skills. So, there’s your juicy jet high of lore. Now, how about we get onto the region as a whole in OWB’s 2275? Many nations in Texas and Oklahoma, such as Carbon, Los, Shale's Army, Unity of Austin, Lonestar, the Texan Brotherhood, and others are all based in Fallout lore. Since we’re here, let’s go over them all in some more detail. Pecos: a collection of settler communities from Mexico, who primarily trade with the RRG and Las Granjas. Having struggled to maintain their independence over the last few decades, recent events have continued to destabilise their peaceful towns. Los: The Church of the Lost has recovered since the fall of the Secret Vault and the death of their old leader Blake. These survivors from Necropolis hope to live out the remainder of their days seeking nirvana within the hallowed streets of Los. Carthage: a civilised raider nation built over the ruins of Carthage, a town built atop a gigantic and largely untapped natural gas reserve. They use flame to do everything, from powering their cities to cooking their enemies alive. Carbon: The town of Carbon has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. Recently the town is on an upswing - yet there are some that worry that the raiders that once destroyed their small town may come back again. The Pursuant: a vicious hunting lodge of civilised raiders who hunt the greatest monsters the wasteland has to offer, from terrifying, legendary Deathclaws, Horrifying Mirelurk Queens, and the most exclusive game of all: man. Traders must constantly be aware, as they are always on the hunt. Unity of Austin: led by Keats, the ever charismatic super mutant politician and every man, the Unity of Austin is a staunch ally of the Brotherhood, seeking to create a Wasteland in which mutants and humans live side by side through mutual cooperation. Houston Rockets: the remnants of NASA and Houston’s entertainment industry made a deal. One side made money off of sports, and the other side used the profits to launch rockets into orbit. The Patrolmen: a group of “protectors” who patrol the I-10 religiously, fighting off raiders and outside threats, while exploiting the communities who exist under their thumb. Bayou Motors: a trader nation that specialises in, produces, and sells boats and shipping equipment to most of the Gulf. Gatormaws: a group of violent tribal communities who’ve made the Bayou their home, and make use of their extensive expertise to raid traders who sail along the Red River. Desperados: a ghoul cartel who split off the Sinaloa after a brutal coup, they’ve taken up shop in Shreveport, demanding “protection fees” from passing traders, lest they die to “local raiders.” Assassin City Rollergirls: a raider gang steeped in roller derby culture, they skate around the urban sprawl in atomic skates, cleaving heads and splitting Brotherhood power armour like tin cans. Tubeheads: a cult of raiders and engineers led by the charismatic Mr. Entertainment, the Wasteland’s only late-night variety show host. Cooking segments, raider gladiatorial combat, special guest interviews, all from the pleasure of your own home: courtesy of the Tubehead’s mandatory TV and satellite installation package. The Last Lodge: a nation of peaceful settlers, draped in masonic imagery, with an outward focus and an emphasis on community. Scrappers Compact: an alliance of territorial but loyal junkyard settlers, who make a living out of scavenging and selling valuable scrap to the outside world. Shale’s Army: a warband of first generation super mutants exclusively, led by Shale, one of Attis’s fiercest commanders. Their hatred for all non super mutants is readily apparent, and they make a living out of claiming the lives of their neighbours, ultimately aiming to rebuild Unity from the ground up. The Chained Choir: a nation of former inmates; ghouls who were subjected to testing by the US army, for research into the potential psionic implementations of FEV. The Last Patrol: a regiment of national guard who were directly exposed to a nuclear blast, and now patrol the region around their compound, fiercely protecting the rights and liberties of the communities under their charge. The Texan Arms Association: a coalition of arms barons and factories in the northern Rio Grande who never fully assimilated. Motivated by dreams of liberty and greed, they sell weapons to anyone, and have continued to destabilise the RRG’s politics since its inception. 3.0 will see the TAA exist on game start, and their association’s bid for independence may be welcomed by some of its neighbours who see it little more than prey. Painted Rock: a group of noble tribal warriors, unwavering combatants who test their young among jagged rocks, and prove their worth against the Wasteland’s toughest foes. Cypher Warband: a clan of luddites who hold a deep hatred for the old world, and in particular, the Brotherhood of Steel’s core doctrines. They’ve been fierce opponents for decades, but during the events of the cancelled Brotherhood of Steel 2, they disowned their most extreme member—Reese—who left in an attempt to destroy their archenemy once and for all. Lubbock: a settler community of ghouls and humans, attempting to work together despite their differences. Supported by the Lubbock Expedition, a military effort by Lone Star to secure the highways across Lubbock’s territory, securing their border and reaping the economic benefits of the partnership. The Ironmongers: a group of mutants who’ve taken over former TAA factories, regularly plundering their gunsmith neighbours. Unlike many other mutants, they construct massive vehicles of brutal machinery, backed up by giant guns and the strength of iron. They’re feared by many, and their iconic “Battlewagons” bring terror and destruction in their wake. Eden: lead by Scarlet, a protagonist from the protagonist of the cancelled game "Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2", who dragged Reese’s GECK from The Corpse to a remote location, to contain the spread of its taint from the outside world, and all who would covet its ruinous strength. Lone Star: the largest trade hub in Texas, all traders pass along its roads and through the gates of its capital city. Its emphasis on sustainable partnerships, justice, and profit have made it a veritable Wasteland boomtown. Texan Brotherhood: a brotherhood outfit who’s roots stemmed from a desire to crush Attis once and for all, in 2275 the Brotherhood look entirely different to their counterparts out west. Civilised, peaceful, just: they seek moral victories over material, a direction some among their ranks find fault with. The First People: the combined nations of the Choctaw, Cherokee, and Chickasaw-Muscogee Coalition have banded together in an alliance, protecting one-another from outside threats and developing their communities in a Wasteland sorely lacking hope. Many of them emerged from vaults, and they rebuilt the casinos, infrastructure, and social venues that made their little corner of Oklahoma the darling it was. In 2275, beyond New Vegas, the Big Spend is the premiere destination for tourists, traders, and soldiers looking to experience the best service in the Wasteland. Live music, tasty food, refreshing drinks, and refurbished hotels continue to entice visitors year after year. In the words of everyone’s favourite doctor, “Well, that’s all she wrote.” Our dev diary has wrapped up, and boy, what a diary it was! What did you think? Are you excited for what you’ve seen of 3.0? Got any thoughts, comments, or suggestions to share? Let us know in the comments below, or on our Discord! Mapping is a labour of love, and I love doing it. Take care during this difficult time for all of us, and stay safe and healthy!
As things settled, it was hard to tell if it was a fight that had occurred or purposeful demolition. In the middle of it all, sitting atop of one of the only remaining operational washers near the back, Byte had helped himself to a bag of SunChips from the destroyed snack machine as he waited for the load of linens to finish it’s final spin. Thanks to a last-second LOAD, he looked just about no worse for wear, standing out like a sore thumb amongst the carnage. He took the few minutes of relative silence to reflect, his gaze passing over his unconscious opponent laying face-down on the damp floor. “Boy, that escalated quickly.” His token stream-of-consciousness mumbling coming through even with a mouth full of chips, “I guess it really does kill some people to be patient. I wonder how much it’ll be to fix this place? Fira better be damn happy for all this, maybe I should ask for a raise. Are there any sodas layin’ around-” Just as the Mandible hopped down to his feet to look for a beverage, the front door of the laundromat swung open, causing Byte to duck down out of reaction. He was expecting company, but had hoped to be long gone before they showed. An amazingly tall suit-vested man stands in the door frame with a look of shock and wonder on his face, tattoos of ‘shading’ adorning his shaved head to make it seem oddly angular. He lets out a long whistle as he strolls in, surveying the damage. “Sweet mother of FUCK, what happened in here?!” Byte knew how bad this all looked, knowing he’d need some kind of cover if he had hopes of fooling the Syndicate capo, so without hesitation deftly smashes his own hand with his hammer. The pain was tremendous, but he manages to keep the screams internal as he bolts up from his spot. “Kilroy! Thank god you’re here!” Byte lied, holding his now broken hand weakly as he puts on an air of hopeless panic. “You shoulda seen this lady! She was flying all over the place, smashing into walls like some kinda monster! Completely tore up the place!” Kilroy hurried his pace at the sign of a survivor, moving to get in close. “...you’re from that restaurant, right? The one that stiffed the elders? The hell are you doing here?” The tall man nearly trips on the unconscious body of Marlin, only further adding to his confusion. “Our machine is shot at the restaurant, I came here to clean some stuff.” Byte motions to the active machine with his broken hand, inciting a wince that he exaggerates for effect. “Then that... Monster came in and just started destroying the place! I dunno how she was putting these holes in the walls, it was insane!” Kilroy stooped over the chain-bound woman’s unconscious form, nudging her head lightly with a finger before shaking his head. He crouches down for a closer look, mumbling under his breath, “Wonder what these chains do…” Byte’s eyes shoot wide, managing to keep his thoughts internal for a change. When Kilroy dropped into Elephant Bones the other week, he made no hint toward being a stand user himself, even saying that the Syndicate is actively hunting them down. Byte had even successfully SAVEd a copy of the capo to see what he had on him; did he deliberately let Byte do so? Just what the hell is the Syndicate about? “So you took her down by yourself?” The question snapped Byte out of the parade of questions in his head, meeting Kilroys glance with his own. Suddenly Byte had a very strong feeling that he shouldn’t stick around any longer, and moved to go retrieve his wash which had thankfully just ended. “Uhh, yeah! I got lucky with a swing of the hammer, caught her as she was spinning around…” Byte’s mind raced for an exit as he pulled the damp linens free, every minute he hung around here was endangering everyone back at the base. ”Listen, did you need me for anything, or can I head back? Fira needs these ASAP and I’m already running behind, she can be a real nightmare when she’s pissed.” Kilroy laughed, his disposition seeming oddly bright. “I know exactly what you mean, I kinda wanna clear out before the boss gets here myself.” Byte gulped. “Shouldn’t you at least dry those things? Maybe get that hand looked at?” They both glanced over at the destroyed rows of dryers, to Byte’s relief, not a single one seemed to be in working order. “Nah, we got first aid back at the gym. And I think our dryer still works.” Bundling up the linens back into their garbage bag, Byte heads for the door. “Good luck with all this, and uhh, hope we can see you back at-” “One more question, if you don’t mind.” Byte froze as he reached the door at Kilroy’s suddenly raised voice, the guy was pretty unstable when he paid them a visit, too. “Did you happen to see the Archbishop during the fight? Big guy in blue robes, probably handing out change.” Oh god, a witness. Byte shook his head. “He left before she came in. Went that way.” He pointed down the street, still inching out of the building. Kilroy seemed relieved, waving at the Mandible as he returned to surveying the scene. Byte immediately broke into a speed-walk, heading down the street and away from danger, cursing his luck at rock paper scissors the entire way. People continue to fight for petty reasons, in this match and the recently-concluded one, but when this goes up, there is still yet a day yet to vote in a match of performers and their supporters spreading a message of love. Scenario: Outside The Devil Blue, Waterfront District, 11:46 AM The past few weeks had been odd for the staff over at the Elephant Bones and Duke’s Gym. Ever since Shelldrake’s encounter against that ice-flinging man over at the Los Fortuna Airport, they’d found themselves in more and more conflicts against other stand users, and had heard about many more taking place in various parts of the city. The knowledge of these encounters, and the realization that the rest of the staff could very well end up in more of these very soon made a certain sense of unease hang over the restaurant. The utter chaos that surrounded it every day didn’t change, but it peered through in those rare moments of quiet, as much as some of them liked to ignore and forget it. It was for that reason that Tiger “Glitch” Ricky made her way over to The Devil Blue, despite the high end resort’s “vibes” being as far away from the Elephant Bones’ as possible. The moment London overheard something about a supposed underground doctor working from the confines of the resort and notified the rest of the team, Glitch bolted outside the restaurant and made her way over to it as quickly as possible. As entertaining as it was, the whole “taking Shelldrake to the vet to heal his broken wing” debacle made the team realize the necessity of alternative treatments for stand related injuries. Glitch knew that the treatment would likely be incredibly expensive and far out of her or her teammates’ paychecks, but keeping it in mind for any emergencies could certainly help in the future, right? And worst case scenario, if she found nothing, at least she’d be able to help herself to some delicious grub! Then again, she had no idea where to find this supposed clinic. Glitch leaned down on her cane, summoning Vida Loca and looking at the area around her. She was in the middle of a large plaza, The Devil Blue’s entrance in front of her. Behind her was the ferry station which she’d just arrived from, and to her sides were many stores and restaurants selling a variety of goods. Glitch kept these spots in mind for the near future, thinking about the delicious food they contained and making sure to figure out how to get her hands on some of it. Truthfully, Glitch didn’t have much of an idea of what the hell she was planning on doing, but that didn’t matter, because she never did. She hopped around the plaza and the surrounding alleyways, keeping an ear out for the rustling of food packages amidst the sea of noises while exploring them, “helping herself to” (stealing) a few packets of chips for herself along the way. After enough skittering around, she made her way through an alleyway, Vida Loca alongside her, the gargantuan cat squeezing tight to fit, and blocking the path through. They were near an odd building - though it was an “information center” for the nearby nature reserves in the archipelago, it seemed unreasonably large to be solely for such a thing. “Umm… Excuse me, miss!” An upbeat man’s voice could be heard coming from in front of Vida Loca, the stand separating between him and Glitch. “I’m trying to pass here, and your stand is in the way! It’s important, you know - I’ve gotta meet with Hull! Oh, wait, you probably don’t know who he is, right? He’s… uh... The own- wait no, I should stop before I accidentally reveal something too confidential, haha-” Before the man could finish his rambling, Glitch started climbing onto Vida Loca’s back, peering at the man from above. From what she could make out, the man was blond and of average height. Vida Loca’s face, meanwhile, was squeezed into the nearby wall and facing the direction opposite him, so tapping into its senses wasn’t much of an option. “Hmmmmrgh...” Glitch let out an odd noise, legs wiggling and moving about as she climbed up more and more, until she found herself sitting on the stand. She then tried to climb on top of it in an attempt at looming over the man, before nearly slipping off, frantically struggling before using some vibrations to stop her in place and sitting down. She looked over at the man’s blurred face, making out a wide grin, which she responded to in kind. “Hehe,” maybe this man had information that would be useful for her. “See, I’m looking for an underground clinic for stand users or something like that. Should be around here, but I can’t find it! I’ve been looking for so long that I managed to snatch three packets of crisps already!” as if to accentuate the number, she put her arm forwards and raised three fingers “And crisps are great! But I want to find this clinic as well!” Glitch raised her arms into the air in exasperation. “Now, if you tell me where the clinic is, or help me find it in some other way, I’ll get Vida Loca to let you pass! Does that sound good?” There was a slight pause as the man tilted his head, before breaking out into laughter. “Hahaha! Wow, that’s one hell of a deal! About the clinic, I’m afraid to say that you’re gonna have to wait a bit more! See, it’s actually right here,” he says, pointing at a nearby, unassuming door “and I help run it, but we’re closed for the next hour! Me and Peres have some work to do and meetings to attend, so you’ve gotta wait! Don’t worry though, I’ll make it up to you - I’ll let your crisp stealing slide for now, haha!” Another fit of laughter. Glitch’s expression shifted into a pout. So she was stuck here for another hour? Bleh! Seeing her expression, the man chuckled again “What’s the problem? I’m sure you’ll find something fun to do here for an hour, you know. Well, it probably won’t all be very legal, and the guards here might try to kick you out, but that’s not something I gotta deal with so I don’t really care, haha!” With that final sentence, the man crouched forwards and deftly ducked under Vida Loca’s body and between its tall legs, passing through. “See ya!” Turning around, he waved to Glitch with a smile and walked back into the crowds of the plaza. “Plrrrgh…..” Glitch grumbled to herself, thinking about what she could do for the hour. She did overhear some of the resortgoers over in the plaza talking about going to the pool, so that could be fun. Sure, she was almost 100% sure that she wasn’t allowed in there, but what was the harm in sneaking in, eh? She hopped off of Vida Loca, and with a pep in her step, began making her way over to one of the resort’s pools. The ferry to the Devil Blue, Waterfront District, roughly 11:30 AM. Laverne Cassiel wasn’t one to show it well, but they were definitely feeling slightly on edge here, and internally, criticising such an attitude. You can’t be on edge when you’re going to a luxury resort… You’re supposed to be at your best of moods when you go to do something nice, something extravagant… People will know that something is off, something is the matter. Though troubled, it was not on their face nearly as much as they’d thought, however; it wasn’t so much that people were avoiding them based on a bad mood, so much as one did not talk to strangers on a ferry so much as they spoke to strangers on a bus, but also multiplying that by the disconnect of opulence towards those ‘not worth’ associating with. “You hear about the prices on Niters? I’ve been absolutely dying to give these a try, demand is higher than ever, and the supply just… Tanks? What’s with that?” A random guy, hipster-looking, foodie, maybe, was complaining to a similarly bougie-looking friend, shaking his head. The other man nodded, groaning. “I hear you, I hear you so hard… I wasn’t going to eat the stuff, seafood is against my diet, but I was going to prepare such wonderful pictures of a Niter Blowfish Tartare for my food blog… I’d already put down my deposit, contacted a local photographer and everything! I’ll have to get into their kitchens and find some, no matter the price, or my clout is ruined.” Laverne had seen pictures of the stuff, and frankly, that guy was a moron if he thought it possible to make those things even remotely photogenic, even if he was probably making the right call not wanting to put it in his mouth; if Laverne ever had the opportunity, they would sure as hell wait for the other guy to take a bite. Had they heard it right, though? They were harder to find now or something? Of course it made sense for the Devil Blue to get them in lighter capacity, if anyone in the area was, but what could be causing the shortage, so soon after they seemed to be becoming more common than ever? There was apparently an incident of sorts here not a few days ago, though people were keeping shush on just what the hell was going on because of that. Honestly, Laverne didn’t actually care all that much. Their assessment was that it related to whatever in the area would sometimes cause people to ‘disappear’, and whatever that was was probably injured or forced to retreat now (not dead… If it was dead, the supply would stop entirely, which was not the case) and ODIN was trying to keep the news quiet. Least the news made it a lot more comfortable for them to travel by ferry for what they really cared about that day: this Devil Blue resort apparently had a clinic which serviced the Stand-using underground. Doubtless, in times of growing strife like these, a place like that would be an informational hotbed, tactically vital to get in good with. Though even the decision to investigate that today had been an improvised one, determined on the spot to be a sound tactical decision for one tipping point of a reason: they were being followed, and needed to get the hell away from that. Roughly an hour ago - Sound’s Garden, near Heartache Casino For the past several days, the members of Red Carpet Renaissance had all a strange feeling about them. While always it seemed there were eyes upon them in Los Fortuna, for some reason, it had been different in recent days. There was a particular sense to everyone that there was someone, specifically following them, and nobody knew who it could be, or why. Laverne, though they had yet to report this, had a feeling about where it came from, correlating when it started: it began the day after Kimijo Kaneko went to investigate that damn baseball game. Sure, some people on that chat program were doing their moral grandstanding about what happened there, pretending they’re better than that, that her opponent being a good man makes any of what she did different from every damn fight every damn day in this city, but all of them, it seemed, were at least for the moment wise enough not to put their money where their mouth is and actually follow up on it, and if they had, they’d probably be in some nightmare backroom right now. This feeling, it was different, as if someone had started to take the entire team more seriously… Which, itself, meant a lot to unpack. They had actually been trying to follow a sheepish event manager’s association with the owner of the casino that day, see if they couldn’t find something worth blackmailing him over and making him feel ‘indebted’ to them, but that case hadn’t been going smoothly as it could, and as they combed over the area, that is when they saw ‘them.’ A thin figure clad head-to-toe in black, jacket zipped up with a fuzzy-looking trim, biker gear, with orange underneath, and a distinct-looking helmet that looked like something out of a science-fiction film, mouthpiece something like a helmet of armor, visor black, lines and circles along the surface. The morning light reflected off of the visor hard enough to make Laverne squint. This person sat upon a sleek-looking sports bike, revving it at them. When Laverne looked their way, the figure seemed to drive away, but kept showing up throughout the area, and more and more, Laverne got the distinct feeling this person was exactly the bad news they were waiting for… They had to lose them. So naturally, Laverne did just that, utilizing their Stand in a diversionary effort that seemed to successfully draw the figure away, and figuring that an offshore hotel was just the place to lose a biker for a little while. Besides that, within a few minutes of their reflection, the ferry wasn’t a minute away from reaching port at the Devil Blue. They could focus on this now, and not that bastard. “H-hey, check this out! Someone’s driving on the water!” The hipsters were speaking to one another, one handing the other a set of binoculars to look out on the waters due North of them, towards the mainland. The other, then, remarked in alarm. “Oh, my god! Is that the Black Angel, here? Oh, ooh, what a sight, what a sight!!” “It definitely is, look at that!” “Lemme see,” Laverne said, speaking up now before going ahead and seizing, with little resistance, the binoculars still around the first guy’s neck, going wide-eyed at what appeared on the other end. The damn motorcycle was uneasily yet consistently making its way along the water, tires spinning as it raced forward against the momentum of the waves. The rider was the same, and what Laverne had read as a trim of fuzz around the upper torso of their jacket, now, flying just behind them as they advanced like a pair of short wings. Shit, seriously? Fucking hell, of course it’s a Stand or a Stand User or something. Would Laverne have to fight on the way to this place..? Wait, no, never mind. As they looked around, they saw the ferryman overhear just that, muttering into a radio too far, too quietly, to hear them, but close enough to see that the words ‘angel’ were being mouthed on their lips. Ah, the island was close at hand, certainly closer to arrive at than this ‘Black Angel’ was fast, and some strong-looking people were coalescing around the ferry docks. Keeping it cool, as the boat found its way to a stop, Laverne walked away, the sounds in the fading distance of a woman saying, “did you forget already? You’re not welcome on this island. Set so much as a wheel on the pavement before this resort you approach, and you know what comes next.” Though the future was uncertain on whether or not they would cross paths again, for the rest of their time on the island, that was the last Laverne Cassiel saw of the Black Angel. Preliminary research made security seem lax here (they don’t deal with VALKYRIE at all, which is… Rare, for a high-profile private business like this), but it seemed they were just holding out for the important things… They couldn’t help but crack a private grin at how this poor bastard had followed them all this way, only to get turned away near instantly. Haha! Victory: Laverne. Serves you right for wasting my morning! Now, onto making use of this new place..! They soon, like Glitch, learned that this ‘Peres’ was out, that they couldn’t get into the clinic without either breaking and entering (not that they were morally above it, but it wasn’t necessary) or waiting for that point… Well, they’d come to a resort island, and knew for the time being that they were completely safe, so why not try to live a little to kill time? A pool within The Devil Blue, Waterfront district 12:02 PM Upon sneaking her way over a fence and into the resort’s pool, Glitch found herself with a severe case of choice paralysis. She stood out like a sore thumb, sprawled out on a lounger, ear perched out, picking up on and discerning between the wide variety of going-ons at the pool with a mischievous grin on her face the whole time. She could start off by taking a plunge, or perhaps use Vida Loca to get someone else to take one, or maybe go on a trip to the bar for a snack, or do one of the million other ideas that popped into her head! “Heheh- oh!” before she could get too comfortable, she heard something very interesting - the sound of someone jumping over the fence, just like she had previously done. “Hmmm….” summoning Vida Loca for a better look, she saw Laverne, catching the investigator right in the middle of a decidedly illegal act. Not that Glitch cared, or even knew much about this odd person, but her interest had certainly been piqued. Just as Glitch had taken notice of Laverne, so did they take notice of her, or more precisely, of Vida Loca’s massive form, staring right at them. With a quick shuffle they attempted to get out of the stand’s sight, preferring to avoid any unnecessary encounters with other stand users in what was supposed to be their way of killing time. However, Glitch wasn’t going to let them get away, and Laverne quickly found her right on their trail, wanting something to do with them. Instead of running away and possibly drawing more attention to themselves, Laverne opted to wait for Glitch to arrive. And arrive she did, hopping towards Laverne and stopping in front of them, leaning in to get a close look at them and letting out an curious “Hmmrgh...” , which Laverne responded to by leaning back and putting a distance between them and this nuisance. “Do you want something, miss...?” they asked, faking confusion. With any luck, this person will leave them alone and they’ll be able to go on with their day. “Glitch! I couldn’t help but overhear you jumping over the fence to get in, so I decided to go over and greet you! I did the same thing, you see, hehe...” She said, giggling to herself. Laverne looked back at them, a straight face hiding their annoyance at Glitch’s harassment. “And I’m Laverne. I do believe that it’s best to keep a low profile in these situations, so it’s best for us to stay away from each other. If we make a scene and are caught, we’ll be kicked out of here, and I’m sure you’d rather-” “Boooooooooooooring!” Glitch interrupted Laverne with a loud shout, attracting the attention of some of the resortgoers, who’d begun murmuring between themselves. Laverne knew they needed to get away from this person if they wanted to stay in the resort. “Hmm. Feel free to do whatever you want, Glitch, but I’m just here to relax, so I’ll be keeping a low profile. Here, take this and go find something fun to do.” Laverne said, taking a ten dollar bill out of their wallet and tossing it in the air, leaving Glitch to chase after it while they slunk away. Glitch, on her end, was quite pleased by the bribe, and immediately found herself spending it all on snacks which she quickly gobbled up. With the bribe money and snacks gone, she once again found herself thinking of what to do, keeping an ear out for interesting occurrences. A little boy slipping into the pool, an arguing couple, Laverne talking with a staff member about something… She decided to focus on the latter, and managed to pick up on their conversation. Laverne was mentioning some sort of nuisance that had snuck into the pool, a short woman who was currently in the- wait. They were talking about HER, weren’t they?! They were trying to get her kicked out! Gasping out loud at the sheer audacity, Glitch was utterly shocked! This person, whom she had seen as a kind benefactor who had given her spending money, a comrade who had snuck into the resort just like she had, was trying to get her kicked out! “Hrrrggh…” She growled in annoyance. Laverne had just made this personal! They were trying to get her kicked out? Nonsense! She’d get them kicked out instead! Laverne, meanwhile, hadn’t been successful in getting the staff to escort Glitch out of the premises. Something about them not having “sufficient evidence”, apparently. They turned over to look at her, only to realize that she had caught onto their attempts, as evidenced by her angry expression and the fact that her stand was out, staring at them as well. She pointed over to Laverne menacingly, her body language practically screaming ‘I’ll get you kicked out instead, just you wait!’. “Tch,” This wasn’t perfect, but no matter. Laverne looked around the pool area, taking everything in. The positions of the employees, the items in the area, and the resortgoers… All predictable. The one anomaly was her, Glitch. She seemed so odd, with her utterly simple desires and her desire to one-up them. Laverne was an expert of deduction, but their expertise was completely unnecessary when it came to trying to tell what this woman was thinking. She wanted to challenge Laverne? So be it. They were sure they weren’t going to lose. OPEN THE GAME! (credit to magistelles for the image!) Location:A fenced-off area with two pools, one regular (20x48) pool and one diving pool (20x20, very deep), one of many such areas within The Devil Blue. The whole area is 80 meters long and 44 meters wide, each tile being 4x4 meters. The light grey areas on the map are the walkways, and the light green ones are grassy areas on the side of the pool. The dark grey paths going over the pool are bridges, tall enough that they can be passed under. The purple rectangles indicate the positions of the diving boards, one being 1 meter tall, one being 5 meters tall, the final being 10 meters tall. The brown tiles represent the bar area. All across the pool’s perimeter on the walkways, there are many lounging chairs for relaxation and umbrellas for shade, with resortgoers occupying many of them. A few are situated on the grass as well. Some of the resortgoers have left their bags on the loungers, containing a variety of different items that one might take to the pool, alongside cash and their room keycards. There’s also the bar area, serving basic food and drinks to whomever may need it, provided they have the cash for it. Goal: Get the employees in The Devil Blue to kick your opponent out! If you act overly suspicious, the resort employees will ask you for your room keycard and attempt to investigate you. While the employees won’t bother you unless you bother them first, they’ve got a few rules they expect you to keep:
You must have a keycard to be within the pool
Don’t bother or attack the other resortgoers and ruin their stay
Don’t carry any dangerous objects within the pool area
Don’t destroy any resort property
If the employees spot you breaking any of the rules, or are given evidence of you doing so, they will begin questioning you and ask for your room keycard. If one is shown to them, they will let you off with a warning, and if one isn’t, they will kick you out. After you’re let off with a warning, you will be kicked out if you’re reported and approached an additional time. Additional Information: Resortgoers can be found all around the area, with 222 physicals and a 3 in “dear god just let me calm down in peace”. Unless you’re really annoying them, they’ll try to ignore you and go on with their lives, and if you do annoy them enough, they’ll complain about you to the employees. The employees are situated mostly around the bar area and around the gates, but are also dotted around the perimeter of the pool, overlooking the goings-on of it, though they’re situated sparsely enough that there’s substantial “deadzones” that their sight doesn’t ordinarily cover. They have 222 stats, and a 4 in collective memory - they communicate with each other efficiently, remember your faces and which keycard you supposedly have, and will call you out if they spot you breaking any of the rules multiple times. Any stand users that are currently within the area, if there even are any, don’t seem to really care about you letting your stands out and won’t pay it any mind. However, if any resortgoer is injured in a severe capacity due to your stands for a reason that can’t be explained away as anything else, the pool will be closed and you will lose the match.
“My tail is second only to my face! I want to rub it on my teeth and then lick it back all pretty!” Though Laverne has interrupted your plans somewhat, the reason you came to the pool in the first place was to have fun, and you’re not gonna let that change! Make sure to have as much fun as possible while trying to get Laverne kicked out!
“Look! My right hand! It turned back into wood again! It’s not gonna turn back into a hand anymore! This is bad, Toshizaku!” As opposed to Glitch, you’re not the type to be so blatant about your actions and attempts at kicking Glitch out. Remain subtle throughout your strategy, make sure that your clay statues aren’t exposed for what they truly are in front of the bystanders!
Sleeping in a fountain, waking up in a French Orphanage, and $20 jack and cokes.
I've been meaning to put this out there for the public to read but also in a safe space. I feel like this is where I can do it. Also, I go by an alias on this app so I feel better about that. The background to this story is that myself(18 yrs old) and my pal, we'll call him Wilkins(18 yrs old) were about to embark on a journey last june 26th that we will never forget(or remember). We signed up to be on this school trip to go to the South of France and Spain. Our HS let out June 8th so we got in about 2 weeks of partying before the trip. I got arrested at the casino about a week before the trip and about 5 days before the trip my buddy, when realizing that the chaperones were teachers(1 was strict, 1 couldn't give 2 shits about what we were gonna do), wanted a refund for the whole trip. Wilkins was offered a 30$ refund on a 5,000$ trip. Wilkins declined. So the day before, I realize just how far the flight to london is from the east coast of the US. Now I was not a big bar guy and never have been. They scare the shit out of me and I tend to end up in bad situations off them, but I thought it would be good for me to get a lot because of the 2 week long trip and seemingly endless flights that we would be taking. I called this guy who I somehow got the # from, and bought 20 2 mg's. At least that's what I thought they were. The day of leaving for the trip: We arrive at our city's international airport, meet up with the group we would be travelling with. I knew everybody but really only had Wilkins and my cousin who we will just call cousin and a few girls that were cool. About an hour before the flight, wilkins and I take a half each(18 left). The flight to London is 12 hours we figure out once we go through security, so we take another half. Other kids are taking ambiens, valiums, whatever would make them sleep. Wilkins and I swapped people's tickets so we could sit next to each other and we ended up getting the middle section and I was on the aisle with wilkins in the middle and a random dude on the other aisle. 30 minutes after taking off, beverages began to be served and we both agreed to down 3 mixies and pass out. I drank mine, felt tired. Wilkins drank his, felt tired. I drank my second and felt tired and Wilkins drank his second and felt tired. After badgering the flight attendent for a third drink in 20 minutes, she obliged and gave us 2 final mixies to cap our limit within the first hour of the 12 hour flight. I drank mine and the bar had kicked in at this point and I was shot. I blacked out and don't remember much except that my buddy spilled his 3rd drink on the guy next to him before he could have even a sip of it. He found that to be fine and just asked the flight attendent for 1 more drink. He didn't tell her he spilled it, ever. She said he was cut off, and you do not want to tell wilkins he is cut off, especially of a bar. So after watching the flight attendent go to the back of the plane in her little workspace, he proceeded to drag my barred ass to the back of the plane to hound these attendends for another drink. I guess at this point I realized I could use another one to fall asleep. We get to the back of the plane and he is screaming, telling the attendents he needs his screwdriver asap and I get in on the badgering. We are told the flight will be turned around if we don't calm down and we are ushered to our seats. We then put our heads back and woke up with 10 mins until London. The bars worked. After landing in London, wilkins has been told that he was put on the british airways "list", and that they will be watching him closely. What does that mean for us? Oh lets just go to a bar in heathrow international, take another half bar each(17 left) and black out even before the flight. The flight from Heathrow to nice france was only 2 and a half hours and I don't remember getting on the flight, only that i had a full row to my self and that I sprawled and slept for the whole duration. My buddy did the same except when we were in landing mode, he wouldn't wake up(this is just what I was told from other kids on trip). The attendent had to pull him up and in the process, hit him in the face with his own Ipad. This caused quite the stir between wilkins and her and wilkins wanted some type of refund for being hurt on the plane. Instead, he got moved from british airway's "list" to the "blacklist" which we had no idea entailed for him. You might be wandering how the 2 teacher chaperones were reacting to this. The cool one was laughing but still had a worreid face and just told us to calm down in airports. The other one was appalled. She saw us badger flight attendents, almost miss the flight from london to france, and had to deal with wilkins being put on the blacklist. But anyways, thats just day 1 of (i think 3?). We arrive in nice at around 3pm and I will try to explain just how crazy the next 3 days are. We take a bus a couple hours a way to stay in a hotel on the beach. Me and wilkins are both 18 and that allows us to drink whatever we want there. Each night, we had a group meal at the hotel and that entailed no drinking whatsoever. But there was a hotel bar so thats exactly where wilkins and I went before the dinner. I also forgot to mention that we took a bar each before dinner. (15 left). I don't remember much from the rest of the night but apparently I blacked out at the bar after too many tequila shots, Wilkins was stumbling around the hotel and found me and woke me up and we proceeded to drink even more. We took another half stick each(14 left) and found ourselves the next morning waking up in one of the rooms that 2 girls were staying in. We woke up at around 6am with beer all over the bed and bottles on the bed and no memory of the night before. I proceed to my room and get some more sleep and Idk what wilkins does but we eventually reconvene at 9am to get on the bus because we had a musuem seeing tour all day. There was no time for wilkins and I to think about the previous night, only thinking about how we could get through the 2 hour bus ride to the musuem(famous musuem in nice forget what its called). The only way was to take another FULL stick each.(12 left). We wake up to my cousin telling us we need to get off the bus because we have arrived. The whole group(ourselves included), walk up to the musuem which is beautiful and everything but we weren't built for it. We just wanted to drink and so we go to the restaurant in the side of the musuem and plop ourselves down. Wilkins and I just ask for a jack and coke. We are brought out 2 glasses with 2 cans of coke and 2 little things of jack daniels. We drink 2 each as we got another round after quickly drinking just the tiny bottle of jack. Our bill is brought out and reads 80$. I say there is no way as we only got 4 jack and cokes. The french waiter who speaks little english just keeps pointing to the price of the jack and coke. I was barred at this point(basically the whole trip) and just couldn't understand the prices. Wilkins goes to get his wallet out from beneath him and somehow it hits him at this point to realize he doesn't have his wallet. He also doesn't have his phone. And it finally hits him what he did the previous night while I was passed out in that girls bed. He took one of the girls on the trip and fucked her on the beach. Or on the ferris wheel. Or both. I had no idea and he barely remembered but he came to the conclusion that his phone was on the ferris wheel and wouldnt be found and that his wallet was back at the hotel. Well anyways, I pay and the next part of this story is somewhat foggy for some reason. But we paid a guy in a golf cart 30 euros to drive us to a good local bar near the water. He drives 5 minutes down the hill and we end up at what to have been the biggest dark alcoholic bar in the south of france. Wilkins and I didn't care though because the prices looked cheap. We asked the bartender to make us his favorite drink and he proceeds to serve us what I believed to be straight limocello on ice. We must've had 4 maybe 5 even though the drink was just disgusting and took another half stick while we were at it(11 left). These bars were hitting and we just weren't realizing it. After about an hour in the bar we start to walk up the hill to go back to the musuem and we get a call from the strict teacher saying where are you, we are worried sick and that you need to get here asap. Idk what happened next but we get up the bus with everybody waiting and the strict teacher pulls us to the side and tell us we are on strike 2. Neither of us remember what strike 1 was but we pile back into the bus to go to a little town to get lunch. Wilkins and I are told we have to eat lunch with the teachers as our punishment for going away from the group to drink. This lunch is also foggy but I believe we ate pizza while overlooking the ocean. Wish I would've remembered it a little more. The whole lunch, wilkins and I are shaking because we haven't had a drink in an hour. We are asked why we are shaking, and I believe one of us literally said, "Because we haven't had a drink in an hour". God, we actually belonged with the dark alcoholics in that bar. The cool teacher pulls us aside and gives us the run down. We are drinking too much. Being obnoxious. Being late to the bus. Leaving the group. Acting weird. Basically, we are just being described as bartardos. We promise to be better. Our final stop for the day is at antother musuem. I don't remember the mini stops in between but I do have a picture of me and wilkins during the mini stop. If you want to see it, lmk. It's a keeper and apparently at one of the mini stops I bought 3 packs of cigs. Cool. We get to the next musuem and its one of those musuems with statues and sacred this and sacred that. Not a good place for wilkins and I when we just started to become extremely tired. Funny how that works. We both just became zombies at the same time. I took my resting place to the room of the jesus christ statue. I kid you not, I woke up about an hour later at the feet of this jesus christ statue with the strict teacher asking me about the paintings(she apparently loved paintings) in the room. I took her spanish 4, so my barred ass tells her how I loved the miro painting over there. I just pointed to a general direction. I then went to a bench in the lobby of the musuem and passed out again. During this whole time, wilkins was attempting to find a nice little niche to fall asleep. Well out of all the places, wilkins decided that the sacred fountain was the place to go to. Outside. In the middle of everything. He stumbles onto territory that is marked as sacred and falls alseep I believe with his legs in the fountain. I still havent heard what happened or from any witnesses so I'll just let myself believe he wasn't fully in the fountain. He has told me from his very foggy memory that when he woke up, he was surprised that he was still in the same spot and when he stood up, he saw the people all surounding the tape that said, "No entering". The security guards couldn't even get him because the land was sacred. You weren't suppose to walk on it. Wilkins, in his usual manner, just casually walks off and past everybody with the guards too astonished to even get him I guess. He finds me alseep on the bench(which I have a photo of if you want to see it) and we argue over who gets to sleep on the bench. The next memory I have is us back at the hotel prepping for the dinner for that night. There was a solid 2-3 hours in between that I dont remember. Wilkins doesn't either. There is about an hour and a half before the 8pm dinner so wilkins and I decide to chill out and have some drinks while the rest of the group went to secretly buy handles of vodka to keep in their rooms. We go to take another bar and I count them. Only 10 left, so I guess we must have taken a half each during those 2-3 hours. Doesn matter, we decide to take 1 each. (8 left). We have now successfully taken 6 bars each in about 2 days. I guess that does not sound like a lot but when you are spreading them out and drinking on them the whole day, they hit you constantly. We go to the hotel bar, slam some drinks and proceed to walk over to the dinner we were having that day. When we arrive at dinner, we sit down and I begin to murmur to the girl next to me(the same one that wilkins had out at 3am the night before) about how I wanted to give a toast to the strict teacher to try and gain back some credit. What I told this girl must have been good because next thing you know Iḿ standing up giving a toast to this teacher. Do I remember what I said? Nope. Was I slurring my speech? Yes.(from what I was told). Wilkins clapped for me, so did a few others. God I was so barred out that I just don´t realize how I came to the point of giving a fucking toast. Dinner finishes up and wilkins and I scurry to my room to grab another full stick. Each. (6 left). These things were suppose to be for flights only and here we are just gobbling all of them in 2 days. I did not care. I lived for the moment. After this, we go to the bar down the street and drink as much as we can. Keep in mind im paying for wilkins this whole time as he did not find his wallet at the hotel. So no wallet. No phone, which I dont know if I mentioned but he left his phone on the ferris wheel he believes. After getting hammered, its about 10pm and we go to the hotel, go to the bar, have 1 shot and then our downfall begins. Wilkins decides that his wallet was stolen by one of the hotel room cleaners. He goes to the receptionist at the front desk and drags me along with him. We are hammered. We are barred out. We are mad. wilkins takes my wallet and points at it and points at the girl and does this over and over again. She speaks no english and is getting very scared. Turns out, she thought we were trying to offer her money for sex. And it turns out she was the hotel ownerś daughter. And she was 15. Great. After no success, we go upstairs to my room and take a half bar each. (5 left). We fall asleep pretty quickly at around 11pm. I do not know what happened in the next hour and a half but I was woken up at 12:30am by the 2 teachers telling me I was flying home the next morning and with a string of texts from my parents on how they cant believe I was offering underage girls money for sex, abusing any drug I could get my hand on, and begging anybody for any drugs they had. Then the hotel owner busts into our room. Im so caught off guard and so barred out that I just sit there with drool coming out of mouth while I watch wilkins scream at the strict teacher telling her she is a cunt and everything. After about 20 mins, I finally realize I got kicked off the trip, or the idea actually hit my head finally. I then burst into arguments with everybody. Wilkins and I tell the hotel owner to check the security footage as we were not soliciting his daughter, we call the strict teacher many different things and we attempt to argue our case. There was so much confusion that night and I truly do not remember a lot but wilkins and I went to sleep that night thinking we were getting on a bus the next day going to a musuem with the group. When we woke up and got dressed and tried to get on the bus, we were told we couldn go because we were flying back home today. What? What the fuck do you mean? WE had completely forgotten the night before, at least I did. And I couldn even argue with the strict teacher because she took off on the bus. The cool teacher told us there was nothing she could do because it wasnt her trip. She said she wouldnt have kicked us off but strict teacher just wasnt having it. She told us to get ready to leave for the airport in an hour. We got ready in 10 mins, we went to the bar and had some final stellas. I got hammered actually because I remember the whole taxi ride feeling like I was going to throw up. I have pictures of the drinks during the morning. We get to the airport and the teacher tells us sorry and we tell her its okay and that she is the best teacher and she asks if we can make it on the plane ok and if we need her. We tell her no. Brutal mistake. We had 5 bars left. We had around 3 hours until the plane was taking off. There was a bar upstairs. Thats all we needed. We took 2 bars each(1 left) and it didnt really matter because I was still feeling barred out from the previous 2 days. We go and get hammered at the bar and became full retards. We are at Nice International airport just absoutely fucked out of our minds having to board a plane in an hour. That is when the fateful idea hits wilkins. Ḧe decides he is going to fake an acl injury and get wheelchaired into first class. I did not realize his full intentions until he literally dropped down next to where you get scanned for your boarding pass and started screaming. He was screaming torn acl and I was not going to be left behind so I decided that I would drop down and scream broken back. Miracously, we got put in wheelchairs and our barred out asses got wheelchaired onto the plane in first class. Unreal. We fell asleep within minutes of being on the plane and about 30 minutes later, we were woken up with 3 french police officers standing over top of us. Youŕe fucking kidding. We are told that the captain wont fly with us on his plane because he feels we are an endangerment. We completely forget that we are suppose to have serious injuries so when we stand up perfectly, we are bombarded by questions with wilkins response being, ẅho the fuck told you I had a torn acl. Good god. We are constantly asking why we got taken off and how we are going to get refunded. These french cops did not care for us at all and I eventually got so frustrated i started repeatedly asking them how we were going to get home. I started filming because they werent answering and thats when hell broke loose. I was tackled, phone cracked and the home button broke. both of us get taken to the french jail on the other end of the airport and placed in a cell together. They take all my belongings and the only thing wilkins had was his suticase and ipad. After about an hour, they take me out of the cell and tell me to sit on the chair and not talk. They leave wilkins in the cell. It smelled like piss and a hole to shit in. Great stuff. Happy it was wilkins in there and not me. I got slammed by an officer for badgering him to let me use my phone to call my parents and finally after 10 hours of being in french jail, they tell me somebody is here to take me to a place. What the fuck does that even mean? So in comes this random woman and tells me shes taking me to a place. Again, what fucking place and why is wilkins not allowed to come with me. Wilkins is awake at this point and hes banging on the cell and im looking at him like am I ever going to see you again. She takes me away and wilkins is left with just his suticase (his ipad was apparently left at security so it was never seen again.) I get in the car with this woman and she takes me to this compound. The gates are lifted and we drive in. You wouldn believe where I fucking was. A god damn french orphanage. These kids were straight from the streets and maybe 1 in every 100 spoke english. They take me inside and I tell my story to the head people(through a translator). The orphanage owner then comes out and yells ¨First AMERICAN EVER!!!!¨. You just cant make this shit up. I was the first american to ever be inside that french orphanage. I told them how A. I need to find a way to contact my friend. B. Telling them my parents are buying a flight home for me ASAP(you cant leave the orphanage unless you have a boarding pass to another country). and C. where the fuck was I sleeping that night. After dealing with my parents and wilkins parents who were worried sick, I go to the front door of the orphanage and just try to pray to god that wilkins ends up here. What do you know? Out of nowhere, Wilkins walks to the front door. His shirt is ripped. He has his suitcase. He is sweating more than anybody I have ever seen. When he is finally let in after I tell them he is the friend and he is the one who is with me, there is nothing we can. We just stare at each other and I give him a big hug. I was in shock. He tells me how he walked from the aiport and asked the first reasonable looking person he saw where he could stay for free for the night. They told him the name of the place and through trial and error, he walked 2 hours at night in the south of france and somehow found the orphanage. Again, you cant make this shit up. After buying our tickets home, we are taken to our room. This room had one bed and was about 7 feet by 8 feet and had a toilet that you literally had to stand in the room to piss into because you couldnt fit in the bathroom. I then find out I dont have my laptop and that my phone is malfunctioning. My parents and his paernts are both texting me telling us how we need to wake up for our flights tomorow.(we had different flights) If we miss it, we would be fucked. Wilkins and I fall asleep at 2am with my feet in his face and his feet in mine and we sleep through my alarm but manage to wake up about an hour before wilkins. We rush downstairs and try to call an uber, no luck. We pay some random taxi the rest of the euros I had to drive us to the airport. We get there 30 mins before take off and 5 hours before my flight. Wilkins asks for the last bar. I tell him he is out of his mind, its mine. He panics and frantically runs to security and thats the last I see of him until 3 days later back at his house. I manage to get on my flight and take the bar with a few drinks in me. I gotta say, Scandavian airlines is the nicest airline i have ever been on. I woke up with 20 minutes to my destination. Nice. Thatś basically it. The only legal consequences to come out of this were being banned from british airways and being temporarily banned from France. It took me a while to write this but I seriously had fun doing it. Itś funny to think of the situations we got ourseleves in but we are lucky to say we made it through. https://reddit.com/link/f7urio/video/ld6prrdg74j41/player https://preview.redd.it/mishouav54j41.jpg?width=1242&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=ab5055e237070f93d8d775eb59dca876100a4a83 https://preview.redd.it/6kni9mlr54j41.png?width=739&format=png&auto=webp&s=d56c9f56764c9473d332dae3177259a0835e69f9 https://preview.redd.it/tsdap6il54j41.jpg?width=1242&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=5c4a52a3d17bbd25305086223bf9ba483e321e2d https://preview.redd.it/ci5lum9y04j41.png?width=828&format=png&auto=webp&s=2e84bdf725b5b0511e85eb8aae564fd4f17869dc
UPVOTE THIS POST SO IT DOES NOT GET BURIED ... *** FOLLOW ME TO GET MORE INFORMATION IN THE FUTURE. UPDATED WITH TRACKLIST AND RADIO STATIONS here is my ID badge that i use to get in and out of work. ( Name and picture is blurred for my protection.) date 2019-2020. https://imgur.com/a/eenWmAR Everyone has been waiting, a credible leak for Grand Theft Auto 6. I will not be stating my name or anything, this is a personal throwaway account, But I do work at Rockstar Games. This next addition to the title will be keeping the tradition of roman numerals, ( GTA VI ) but I will often refer to it as GTA 6, to make things easier. be sure to read everything, as I have taken the risk and time to leak a lot of vital information.
IF YOU DO NOT WANT A SPOILER ON THE MAIN PLOT OR FEATURES OF GTA VI, DO NOT READ THIS POST *
First off I’d like to state that all previous leaks about GTA 6 is a hoax. All of the leaks regarding GTA 6 taking place in any other area than Vice City, is a hoax. I will be breaking down the characters, storyline, and more. Grand Theft Auto VI is designed to be the most developed video game in history, and redefine open sand box games, letting the player fully immerse in the world and storyline. In Grand Theft Auto 6 the game will take place in Vice City, but the previous storyline leaks etc, is all fake. The plot is completely different,. The game will host 3 protagonists, one being a middle aged white man named Johnathon Brooks, but is often referred to as John. John is going thru a mid-life crisis, and lives on the returning area called Starfish Island. John essentially is a life long career criminal, and exposes the player to a new crime element, fraud. John was born in Carcer City, and moved to Vice City at age 17, after running away from his foster parents, not much is known about his previous life before then, except he was in a very poor family. John got into the fraud game in the early 2000’s, and he is 38 in game. he earned his money thru many fraudulent activities like credit card fraud, bank fraud, and did a few small bank jobs, and laundered his money with his own car wash business. He lives in a $1.8m mansion that he bought with his illicit gains, and the FIB are on to him. He borrows money from the local gang in Little Haiti, where fraud is very prevalent, and he starts getting back into his older habits to pay off the gang. The FIB notices this, and he ends up doing dirty work for the FIB, in order to keep his freedom. The second character is Samuel “Shotta” Stevens, who is a member of the Haitian gang. He is a black, Haitian based character with more character development, than Franklin from GTA 5. He is 26 in game. The game also focuses more on crime, and the gang element. The player will experience the brutal reality of the gang life in Vice City, in the slums of Little Haiti, from loan sharking and repossessing the unreliable clients, to brokering the sales, that being kilos of cocaine, for the South American Cartel. Samuel lives in a Section 8 apartment, in the Little Haiti Neighborhood with his grandmother, Amy. Samuel just wants to move out of the hood, but loves the gang lifestyle, and this gets him caughtup in the FIB drama with John. The FIB cuts him a deal also, if he can snitch out his gang, which the player can choose to cooperate, or refuse. This will change the storyline of Samuel dramatically. If you choose Option A: Snitch on the gang, You will snitch on the gang and work with John, who will show you the ropes of Fraud, and you both will defraud the bank of Schlongberg Sachs, commit multiple heists, and become a protege of John. Or of course you can choose, Option B: Refuse. Refusing will make Samuel a target of the FIB, and this causes him to gain more respect from his gang. The respect system from San Andreas is back, but new and improved. Samuel will expand his gang operations from Little Haiti, all the way to the Vice Keys, and beyond. The Third Character is a man named Xavier Gonzalez. Xavier is a latino man born in Vice City, he is 40 years old, and a cocaine kingpin. He lives in Downtown Vice City in his lavish $1.5m penthouse. Xavier is friends with John from the beginning of the story. Xavier is apart of the story no matter what option you choose, providing cocaine to John to sell, OR, Providing cocaine to both John AND Samuel, to sell together, and to strengthen the gangs funds. The gang system is similar to Red Dead Redemption 2’s system, and also has elements of GTA San Andreas. Xavier is also tied in directly to the nightclub business as well, having stakes in the returning Malibu Club, now run by the Jimenez Family, a latino Mafia, who has ties directly to the South American Cartel. Each Character has a different personality and lifestyle, and will be a exceptional experience for the player. Former characters from past GTA’s will be making appearances. Luis WILL be returning, being a manager of the Malibu Club, Stranger and Freaks missions are returning with a more in depth story for every one of them, and Michael De Santa and his wife, Amanda, will be returning also, living in a beach house, although their children will not make any appearances. The both do not play a VITAL part in the storyline, but will have stranger and freaks missions for any character, with all different outcomes. For example, passing by the state penitentiary, you may just recognize Lamar Davis, in a bluish grey jumpsuit, embellished with a pair of handcuffs wrapped around his wrists, demanding for a ride. The map of GTA VI, will be bigger than GTA V and RDR2 combined, having several counties, having Vice City, based on Miami, the Vice Keys, based on the Florida Keys, The Everglades, based on the swampy Everglades in Florida. The game will also feature Orlando, which is named Corlado, and Tampa, named as Gulf Shore City, but downsized a bit. The game will feature sprawling countryside outside of Vice City and Corlado, with countryside towns, named Canisville, Centura, and Sentinel Point, along with towns along the Vice Keys. There is an Air Force Base, based of off Eglin Air Force Base, named Fort Sentinel. The Ocean is the Atlantic Ocean, with more shipwrecks to discover, plants and animals, and more. The game itself has as many animals as RDR2, and the player can hunt if they choose, although this is just a more of a minigame. Vigilante Missions will be back, along with Taxi Missions. Character Customization will be better, from the belt on your waist, to the socks on your feet. Choose to your liking of luxury watches, rings, chains, earrings, featuring plain jane, to diamonds and rubies, emeralds, and more. Belts can be worn along with hightops, to lowtops and boots, and dress shoes. Pantlegs can be tucked into the footwear you choose, if the option is available. Tattoos will be back, along with hair customization. John is white so he can tan, or be sunburned, and the core system from RDR 2 is back aswell. Tattoos will feature opacity and can also fade over time. You will be able to adjust the size of the tattoo. It will be able to be placed on over 10 different area of the body depending the size. Since the core system is back, you will have to also bathe, to stay clean, otherwise you may notice changes in your cores. You will have to eat to replenish cores, so you can cook in your safehouse, or go eat out in a restaurant, whether it be fast food or upscale. All characters can have relationships with women, similar to GTA 4 and GTA San Andreas. You will be able to buy extra safehouses around the map, and the amount of vehicles will be the same amount that are in GTA Online, and more. Every vehicle will be returning, and first person mode will be more enhanced, with more realistic vehicle interiors to immerse the player into every aspect of the game. South America will not be apart of the game, only Vice City and surrounding Areas. Skills from GTA V is also being integrated back, along with exercising, to boost strength. Agility is a new added skill, and Strength will affect how hard you punch, kick, or melee in general. Special Abilities so far, will not be coming back. This may be tweaked before release, but if they return, it will not be a major part of the game. Car Customization is more advanced, different leather trims can be changed colors, along with wood trims and marble trims. You can add satellite radio, which lets you listen to radio stations in Los Santos, and Liberty City, but so far there is only two stations from each of those cities. You can also listen to all the radio stations across the counties. Neon is back, new spoilers and liveries as well, Along with different colors of tint. Subwoofers will be a standard upgrade as well. Los Santos Customs is gone, and Pay and Spray is back, along with Viceland Kustomz, and Sentinel Bike Shop. You can also modify certain parts at the car dealerships. The drug dealing system from GTA: China Town Wars is also returning, but a bit revamped. This is where the post office system comes in, from RDR2. Pounds of Marijuana sourced from Los Santos delivered by mail, to a post office near you. From weed to tabs of LSD, all the way to meth, heroin, and cocaine, you can reap major profits. Casinos will be returning as well, one being a resort, others being small-time casinos. You will be able to rent a room in the casino and resort. The casino is named as the Malibu Casino and Resort. Gunplay is improved with new realistic sounds. Interiors are just as detailed as GTA V or RDR2, if not more, I’d say. The insurance system from GTA Online will be integrated into GTA VI’s story mode, so losing a vehicle will not happen. There is an abundance of new and old activities, that being over 50 strangers and freaks missions, drug supplying, or drug running, similar to GTA TBOGT’s drug missions. You can hunt, as stated before, but is more of a minigame than a money maker. You can fish as well, as fishing is a very popular sport, in modern day Florida. There will be four strip clubs scattered around the map, one of them named Vanilla Unicorn South East, which is owned by Trevor Phillips, who is planned to make a cameo, only to be featured in a cutscene so far. Nightclubs as I stated before, will be a thing. There will be 3 nightclubs, where you can take part in a few activities, like dancing, where you can meet your date in game, or drinking and smoking. Expect SOLOMUN, and BLACK MADONNA to return. You will see in game appearances of them DJing in the nightclubs. No other DJ’s will return. Bounty hunting will not be a thing, but dirty work for the FIB throughout the story will be similar. Pool and bowling is returning, along with player skills, exercise and working out also is a thing, as stated above earlier. Convenience stores and gas stations will feature many products you can purchase. Snacks, that being Phat chips, (different flavors yield more health and core restoration) candy bars, ( EgoChaser, Meteorite, Zebra Bar, and more) drinks, (E Cola, Sprunk,) Alcohol, (Pisswasser, Champagne, Logger) Redwood cigarettes, and cigars. The stores will be setup similar to RDR2’s store system. You can rob the stores, and also start a protection racket, and extort them. Pharmacys will be in the game, to purchase portable med kits, or you can rob the pharmacy for drugs and money. The way you eat can also affect your character’s health, and weight. Similar to GTA San Andreas’s system. Merryweather will return, but won’t have the same presence as it did in GTA V. Merryweather ends up not being able to operate on U.S. soil, and goes out of business as a hit is put on Don Percival, by one of the returning characters from GTA V. An advanced parkour system is integrated as well, similar to GTA IV’s. Gun stores will be prevalent as this is based off of Florida. The homeless man who found the diamonds, from GTA TBOGT will also make an appearance as a gun store owner, as he has proceeded to purchase and start a gun shop in the area of South Vice Beach. The black market for weapons is featured in this game as well, similar to fences in RDR2. You can also craft bombs/projectiles if you have learned to. Realism is a goal of this game, without being too overwhelming. Guns and weapons will need to be cleaned. If you shoot a gun, you will smell of gun powder, this may be noticed by civilians or police officers, and they will make comments about it. If you have not bathed, you may just get absurd insults slurred at you. If you have blood stained on you, and you smell of blood, people may give you weird looks, or may just make a call to the local Law Enforcement. As for those who DM me or ask about Strangers and Freaks, or mysteries and riddles, the paranormal world will be featured in GTA VI. You may encounter serial killers, or creepy sightings in dreary areas. Strangers and freaks will all have its own unique storyline. The weather system is IMPROVED SIGNIFICANTLY aswell. Hurricanes do take place, but only during certain parts of the storyline, and floods may occur in marshland areas and anywhere away from mainland. Melee Combat system is based off of strength, and Agility, which is a new skill, as stated above, and is improved heavily. Hand combat is influenced by strength and agility. Based on how hard you hit the opponent, you may bruise them, and bruise yourself. The chainsaw is returning as well. The limbs and gore is back from RDR2 Dialogue System from GTA San Andreas and RDR2 is back, and improved, with different responses every time. GPS and Navigation System will be improved, showing the quickest routes, from alleyways to the freeway. Every street will have a name, and the GPS voice from GTA IV is returning as well, get ready to hear “Turn Left in 500 yards, Bing Bong.” Planes will have autopilot, and you can fly to each city with plane tickets, or on your own. Driving mechanics will be similar to GTA IV’s, but combined with the smoothness of GTA V’s mechanics. Damage to the vehicle will be more detailed then ever, featuring airbag damage as well. EVERY Vehicle will have its own selected weight, and handling, to improve the player’s experience. Six star wanted level is back, with FIB being the 6th star. There is multiple law enforcement agencies. VCPD, GSCPD, CPD, SPPD, Highway Patrol, FIB, IAA, Viceland State Patrol, as well as the NOOSE. You will not be shot by cops for just staring at them. Being arrested results in you serving time, similar to RDR 1’s Jail time mechanic, showing you all of your charges while you sit in a cell. The first time you get arrested it will show your character being booked, and you will have to take a mugshot and be fingerprinted. Depending on the county or city you’ve been arrested in, you will be known to local law enforcement and even law abiding citizens, depending on how severe your charges are. Random events are more realistic than ever. depending on the wanted level you’ve attained, there is a system similar to the bounty system of RDR2. The more crimes you’ve commited that have gained attention of law enforcement, you have a chance of getting your hotel room getting kicked in by noose, your safe house getting staked out by undercover FIB, even being pulled over if you have commited a number of crimes in the same vehicle. You may witness muggings, or even be mugged yourself. You will encounter situations with homeless people to the rich and famous, with all different outcomes. Real Estate as stated before, will be available to all three characters. Businesses will be available, illicit and legal, from businesses to launder cash for the gang, to illicit businesses like credit fraud rings, to counterfeit cash. Safe houses will be available as well. A penthouse in Corlado, a modern mansion on Starfish Island, a beach house on Ocean Beach, a small quaint house in Canisville, a traditional house in Gulf Shore City, a vacation-style home in the Vice Keys, to small apartments in small towns like Centura or Sentinel Point. Each character will be able to purchase any of these properties, but it will be tied to just the one character that purchased it. Hotels and Motels will also be available to rent rooms and bathe in, one being the Gulf Shore motel, a dingy motel room for cheap, perfect for someone wanting a cheap stay. The Malibu Casino and Resort near Vice Beach, a 5 star luxury stay, with a two-story penthouse with a jacuzzi the player can bathe in, with views of Vice Beach, and the nearby Ocean Beach. There is 4 hotels and 2 motels scattered across the map, each with unique interiors and different amenities. Purchasing vehicles you can enter a dealership, or purchase online and have it delivered to a garage. Pegasus Concierge is returning. Certain stolen vehicles will have trackers, and will not be able to be modified, same as GTA V. The stock market is also returning, BAWSAQ and VLSM ( Vice Land Stock Market ) and can reap heavy profits as well. Time goes by: This game is set in 2017-2019. Times will change thruout, buildings will be completed as they were in RDR2, radio stations will not play all of the music in the tracklist at first. Instead it will play newer music thruout the storyline. You will still hear older and newer songs too after completion. Character customization is not just clothing, tattoos, jewelry and hair customization. You can also purchase 3 different phone models. an iFruit phone, based on the iPhone Xr, a Badger phone, or a Whiz Wireless. You will also be able to purchase ringtones, as you were able to do in GTA IV. You can also purchase an iFruit watch, based on the apple watch, which you can take calls on, if you change your settings.
As stated before, first person will be more immersive than ever, when you use your cell phone you will have the option to do this in first person, similar to the handheld catalogue in RDR2.
Depending on how rough you play, clothing can wear and tear. Examples: jumping out of a moving vehicle, falling off/on rocks, tripping on certain props. As stated above, NPC’s will notice the clothing you wear, the way you look or smell, the car you drive, and the jewelry you wear, and will make comments on it. Crouching will be back, the same as RDR2, and the cover system is nearly the exact same cover system as RDR2.
Characters and their person vehicles: Xavier’s color is red in the character switch menu, Samuel’s is blue, as that is his gang color, John’s is a dark green.
Xavier drives a newer, updated Albany Alpha as his main personal vehicle, and also owns an Enus Windsor Drop.
Samuel drives the new Gauntlet Hellfire, which is only $87,000.00 in game.
John drives a Ubermacht Revolter, non-weaponized as his main vehicle, and also owns an Ubermacht Sentinel. These are the personal vehicles you start with, on all three characters.
ALSO Expect a Special Edition, AND Collector’s Edition, similar to RDR2. The game is set in the summer of 2017 to 2019 as the storyline proceeds. This game WILL BE PS5 Exclusive, for the first month. The in-game experience is like no other, PS5 also has a new controller design as well. It is projected to not release until later 2020, AFTER holiday season BUT MAY BE DELAYED. I have broken down the storyline, key elements of the game, and if anyone has anymore questions I will be happy to answer. I know so much about this game as I’ve been working on it since the start, and I’m not afraid to get in trouble, as this is a throwaway. I will not be responding to negative comments, claiming this is fake, because I will not waste my time with non-believers, only true questions. all content is confirmed unless it has been mentioned by me to not be officially confirmed already, and anything may be scrapped before release as cut content, but is unlikely *PLEASE UPVOTE. I do not want my effort and the risks I am taking to go to waste. I want this to not get buried. * if you have questions or WANT MORE? (screenshots or photos as proof, radio stations, confirmed tracklists or more) Send Me A Chat. You may see songs from previous games, as Rockstar may have the licenses still, or has renewed them. CONFIRMED SONGS, AND RADIO STATIONS. Satellite Radio: Liberty City Beat 102.7- Hosted By DJ Whoo Kid Beat 102.7 Logo- https://imgur.com/a/To0Wi8c
Daddy Yankee, Pitbull, Lil Jon, Noriega, DJ Buddha, Gasolina
Alex Sensation, Gente De Zona, La Mala Y La Buena
Los Del Río, La Macarena
Interesante Musica Radio ( modern and old spanish music ) Hosted By Selená Martinez * Los Hermanos Rosario, La Dueña Del Swing * los reyes del merengue, El Baile del Beeper - Versión Merengue * Celia Cruz, La Vida Es Un Carnaval * INDIA, Marc Anthony, Vivir Lo Nuestro * Felipe Muñiz, Marc Anthony, Deje de Amar * Ivy Queen, Dime * Monchy and Alexandra, Alexandra Musica de Clásico FM ( Salsa ) Hosted By Pedro Simmóns
CTR Corlado Talk Radio -host, Lazlow - Fernando Martinez Viceland News Network VLNN VLNN Logo- https://imgur.com/a/yaBucdY Host- Vanessa Hopkins, Weazel News. - Updates on weather and Weazel News Ignore this below. Legal Disclaimer: This post is not affiliated with Rockstar Games or Take-Two Interactive, or its subsidiaries, In any way, shape or form, and should be taken as satirical. Ignore this below. Legal Disclaimer: This post is not affiliated with Rockstar Games or Take-Two Interactive, or its subsidiaries, In any way, shape or form, and should be taken as satirical. Along with the No phone, No photos policy, It will be very difficult to get OFFICIAL screenshots. Here is a official, accurate sketch of the GTA VI Minimap and cores design https://imgur.com/a/ghyoRb4 Here is the sketch of the mini map on computer. https://imgur.com/a/D0Qj0EP I will be uploading more sketches soon. FOLLOW ME FOR MORE INFORMATION COMING SOON Here’s my Rockstar badge / ID. it is dirty, apologies. The rockstar logo, imprinted on the card itself, along with my photo, blurred out, my name below it, and the expiration date, years 2019-2020. this is only an ID to get into the building. since i have released a bit of proof, stop spreading misinformation https://imgur.com/a/eenWmAR You can still trust my leak, but here is a legal disclaimer so I cannot be targeted. Ignore this below. -legal disclaimer. this is fictional and not proven, this post is not associated with taketwo or rockstar games in any way, shape, or form.
Album of the Year 2019 #26: Men I Trust - Oncle Jazz
Hello everyone and welcome back to Album of the Year 2019, the yearly series where the users of indieheads talk their favorite albums of the year. Up today, simonthedlgger goes in-depth on the massive Oncle Jazz from Men I Trust. Artist:Men I Trust Album:Oncle Jazz https://preview.redd.it/8af3n1rzi0741.jpg?width=1200&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=6e1d4a18f7bb2aa4c7332be7e2042a41af87aa34 Listen: Bandcamp Spotify Youtube Apple Music Interlude I can’t believe the odds. It’s December 26th, my favorite holiday not named Halloween. A day of leftovers and familial decompression. Outside, the year is ending. Pine trees, some still webbed with lights, lay on sidewalks. Historically, December 26th is grey and cloudless. Cold, but not necessarily wintry. A void of a day, ideal for lounging and reflection. “Have a lay in,” says the universe. On December 26, it is constantly evening. And now, there is a playful bounce of synth, murmuring bass like a bear waking from a long nap ... a swell of brightness: “You’re listening to Oncle Jazz .” Allow yourself, listener, for seventy ephemeral, December 26th minutes, to be swept away in jazzy philosopop fantasy. All smiles, slide across the kitchen floor in your brand new socks, treat yo self to a warm beverage and snacks, nest in bed as opening titles fade like a path into the deep forest. I can only suggest you take that path. We’re about to Oncle Jazz. Background Men I Trust are a three piece indie pop band from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The band was established by producemulti-instrumentalist Dragos Chiriac and bassist Jessy Caron in 2014. The pair released their self-titled debut that year, followed by Headroom in 2015, both of which featured numerous guest vocalists. After guitarist Emma Proulx became the permanent singer of Men I Trust, the band put out a series of successful singles from 2016 through early this year. After a few delays, Men I Trust released their third full length album and first as a trio on September 13, 2019. Review bysimonthedlgger
Men I Trust Radio
It’s easy to view Men I Trust as more “chill but danceable” Spotify recommendation-core. The formula is simple enough: breathy vocals over sustained synth, walking bass with jazz and/or R&B flavour, restrained rhythm section. Elevator music, if the elevator were taking you up to a Blockbusters/indie bookstore combo in the heart of Bushwick. Except, this is not our stop. Ours is an elevator ascending the Ivory Tower, granting us view of all Fantasia. Our elevator alights the lobby of the Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino, where Men I Trust and The Martini Police tradeoff headlining gigs. On closer inspection, Men I Trust’s music is neither simple nor restrained (though, production is artfully subdued throughout). It’s not even very relaxing, only enough to lull you into a vantage from which you feel comfortable enough to see yourself—perhaps for the first time—as something small within something very large, and to realize that largeness is contained within an even larger space, and so on until the mystery swallows you. (That is not to say Men I Trust do not have their utterly charming moments, i.e. the deliriously joyous sing-along opening of “Days go by and I still don't know how and why I still make my way without you, without you.”) On Oncle Jazz, Men I Trust plays timewarped pocket groove music, pulling together elements of modern pop, softrock, plenty of jazz (on show in their latest instrumental single, “Alright,”), and of course assorted lofi/synth/indie/sweet dreams pop, to make something distinctive, comforting but unnameable. Several interludes further expand the scope of the Oncle Jazz structure, from the absurd funk of “Slap Pie” to the smoking “Fiero GT," lest we forget the balletic mystery of closer “Poplar Tree," which would sound fitting over melancholy credits to a Miyazaki film. There’s a votive quality to the loop-like nature of the band’s arrangements, cycling frames that range in form from waves of Sega ambience to controlled yet driving beats which draw equally on the electronic and organic. So much happens within the confinements of these loops, yet every moment remains isolated, carefully placed. The songs sound like secrets, but not puzzles for the sake of puzzles: there is an answer to every riddle, a worthwhile conclusion. “We like to use a lot of repetitive movements in melodies and chord progressions to give the songs a prayer-like rhythm,” Dragos told Crack Magazine, describing the band’s desire to draw listeners deeper into their sonic narratives. The recurring musical movements are complemented by an economy of words the band often discusses:
“I will ... find the way in which I can concentrate [a thought’s] meaning, saying the most with the least words. It’s Bernstein’s idea of poetry and it’s also a necessary constraint inherent to the song genre,” Dragos told me. “Sometimes, these ideas end in Men I Trust songs.”
The band takes this minimalist approach to either ends of the spectrum, always leaving room for the listener to process and derive meaning. Compare the simplicity of “All Night” (“You wrap my feet in coloured blankets, so I stay here all night. You keep the one with many moons and stars, it’s always for my shoulders,”) to the stark poetry of “I Hope to be Around” (“I dream of my future, remote from time bounds, becoming myself without any end.”)
The clarity with which Men I Trust operates is evidenced not only in the deliberate arrangements and concise lyricism of Oncle Jazz, but the actual conception of the record. Initially delaying the album after touring prevented the trio from finishing, then calling an audible the night before Oncle Jazz was scheduled for upload to major streaming services, there is never a sense of hurry when discussing Men I Trust. Rather, tranquil precision. Achieving the ideal mix played a large part in the album’s prolonged incubation, with eight singles being remixed for their place among the 24 track album (several considerably so). The songs settle softly in the mix, warm pop rhythms bouncing off watery jazz. “I don’t think loud songs will give the best listening experience in years to come,” Chiriac told Billboard. I agree: Oncle Jazz invites you to absolutely bump the volume, clarifying the perfectly shaped bass tones and depth of reverb, the myriad details, without going deaf (fun fact, I did a write up on Angel Olsen’s All Mirrors for popheads, and the mixes on these two albums could not be further apart). On “Seven,” you can hear prospective lovers whispering across a dying campfire. The rustic “Pines” paints an immense but lonely landscape (“She moves like wind by deserted pines who stand tall, unstirred,”). After completing touring obligations, the band returned to Oncle Jazz. “When we spend too much time on the road, we miss being able to settle, to write and record without disturbance,” Dragos says over email. “Listening to a finished song, or album, is the most fun part of recording.” Recording for Oncle Jazz took place in the green quiet of rural Quebec, which no doubt influenced the hushed mix (they’ve described the album as consisting of all “winter songs,” which isn’t a bad description by any means, but the undeniable warmth of Oncle Jazz makes one wonder what a summery MIT album sounds like). “It put us in a really different creative mood ... there’s nothing to do outside of the house except for walking and thinking about music,” Proulx said (Billboard). Indeed, the band have frequently described how their music focuses on the ways individuals play a small role within the macroscopic natural world; this sense of humble realization is all over the record. When further pressed, the band typically says songs are simply about friends. The interplay of the cosmic and intimate is one of several unifying threads that elevate Oncle Jazz from a standard LP release to a greater musical movement. For, Oncle Jazz is its own radio station; at one point on the album, Emma clues the listener in: “You’re listening to Radio Men I Trust,” and I can’t help but responding, “Yes, I sure am,” every time. It’s a station wound in the layered textures of the Arturia Mellotron and Yamaha DX7; though, as with any decent station, there are a bevy of unexpected gifts.
My friend, you know, you had your time awhile..but I'm willing to give you mine.
Late in the Oncle Jazz sequencing comes “Something In Water” like a plaintive siren out of the mists, “In this land with no sea, hoping time forgot me, 'cause I don’t need your love, only your full weight on me.” Guitars take the forefront, a rarity on Oncle Jazz, especially the submerged acoustics and posthardcore/proggy chorus lead that surprises at 2:22. “Dorian” consists of brilliant world building by the Zora River, recalling dreams of C.R.E.A.M. and nights spent shooting the shit with friends outside the corner store. You’ve heard the chorus melody a million times since you were young, but, no, it’s a melody only Proulx could deliver, her voice resembling bells and woodwinds more than vocals. “Found Me” sounds like Nirvana. “Say Can You Hear” has that new wave drive. The groove of “Air” is otherworldly. A mildly brooding verse spills into the euphoric hook: “So I thought you could come over mine...some time. Our loneliness now gone.” As with many Men I Trust songs, “Air” does not fade out, but dances away.
My friend, you have a vivid quill.
Despite the inescapably dreamy qualities of Men I Trust’s oeuvre, there’s a decidedly grounded sense to their work, a desire for clarity -- the contrast brings yet another level to the listening experience, lyricism weaving between daydreaming and existential doubt. “I Hope To Be Around” plays with Platonist-Socratic concepts (“I hope to be around the day we grasp in truth the nature of mind befriending time, in truth,”), though the breadth of lyricism and philosophical ideology (J.S. Mill to Goethe) makes it clear all members contribute to the writing process, questioning many aspects of self-significance and morality. “For me, these contradictions make for a weird literary genre, at once positing the insignificance of humans and the god-like invulnerability of men and women of good. It’s horrifying and reassuring (the power of truth), sublime (greater than ourselves), and f---g funny,” I’m told. “It’s like watching a horror comedy. It’s a mix of emotions cancelling each other and it leaves me feeling like a blindfolded fool, puzzled with a donkey tail in his hand.” Read through a few Men I Trust songs, and at least one line will leave you handling a donkey tail of your own. Of course, all Men I Trust lyrics are refracted through Proulx’s mesmerizing vocals. A French speaker, she has described the English language as another instrument (I challenged myself not to use the word ‘ethereal’ in describing her voice. Or ‘gossamer.’ Or ‘gauzy,’ ‘gracile,’ or even ‘as a light rain.’ So, I will not.). Her instrument contains multitudes.
Men I Trust Lives
It’s a bit mystifying to reconcile the immaculate production behind Oncle Jazz and the band’s relentless, globe-spanning touring schedule, delays or not. Men I Trust’s fully realized sound on Oncle Jazz translates beautifully to the stage. “When we spend too much time working on recordings, especially on a long double album, we look forward to getting outside and touring,” they tell me. For Men I Trust, both playing live and recording are exciting paths to becoming better musicians, a thrilling prospect for fans. “The end results of both are especially rewarding.” Shortly before finishing this write up, I saw the band play a double header at Boston’s Royale and the Sinclair in Cambridge. Men I Trust played as a five piece, yet remained committed to the halcyon aesthetic: a t-shirt remained over the snare for the duration of the set, cymbals were chained, Emma’s vocals were so quiet you couldn’t hear her speak between songs -- even the roaring denouement of a guitar solo that closes “Seven” managed to melt faces without piercing ears. No, Men I Trust does not make simple, chill out music. They make music difficult to fully grasp, no matter how welcoming the sound, how natural the fit. Now, our time is at an end. Favorite Lyrics
I don't want to feel a world against our love. I don't want to grow old, a lone broken heart.
I'm happy my home found me, by which force I do not know. I found my home and it grows by me in beauty.
In a midway I stand where many stood only to come home again. Walking through these streets I know too well but my thoughts stray away.. I dream of my future, remote from time bounds, becoming myself without any end.
"I Hope To Be Around"
My friend, you have a vivid quill, a gift you need to use to feel alive. Those hands look like crooked roots. Pour them the right stuff and feel alive.
Do you prefer the single or album versions of songs such as “Seven” and “I Hope To Be Around”? Please elaborate :)
What do you think a “summer” Men I Trust album would sound like, and more generally, what aspects of their sound would you like to see expanded on moving forward?
What other fully independent bands should Indieheads be listening to in 2020?
Thank you to simonthedlgger for their sprawling write-up! Tune back tomorrow as NMHipsterTrash is scheduled to talk Surf Curse's Heaven Surrounds You. In the meantime, discuss today's album and its write-up in the comments below!
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