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Subject: "Correspondence II: 2390-2399 (v2)"     Previous Topic | Next Topic
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Mar-23-10, 08:30 PM (EDT)
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"Correspondence II: 2390-2399 (v2)"
 
   LAST EDITED ON Mar-30-10 AT 01:22 PM (EDT)
 
[Oops, I just realized I left out an important bit near the end. --G.]


2390

From: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!hq.wdf.mil.zc>
Subject: ... whoo. okay.
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Thu Sep 20 2390 03:38:12 -0000 (GST)

That was, bar none, no question, without any fragment of a doubt, the. weirdest. week of my life. Period.

I'm not sure how I can even start to explain what just happened. Remember a few years ago when you said you didn't think there were gods, but you'd been wrong before? Well, have I got a story for you.

[...]

So yeah, uh, interesting week. Hung out with a lot of old friends... most of whom are dead. Picked up a fancy new peripheral for my omni-tool. Got the girl, killed the baddies, saved the entire universe. Oh, and now I get to do all that work I did restarting the WDF? Again. Only probably more so.

I need a vacation.

S'agapo,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: ... whoo. okay.
To: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Date: Thu Sep 20 2390 13:31:56 -0000 (GST)

Dear Benjamin,

Strangely, this is not the first time you've told me something that no reasonable person would ever believe. And it's not the first time I've believed you. I'm not sure what that says about either of us. If you don't mind, though, I think I'll keep it to myself. Many of my people would be very disappointed to learn that the afterlife is a cold and snowy place populated by Vikings. For that matter, I would be too if I had previously believed there was one in the first place.

Why do you have to duplicate the effort of restarting the Wedge Defense Force? I'm unclear on how that follows from helping to avert the prophesied end of the universe. I can't believe I just seriously typed that.

Love,
- Tali

From: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!hq.wdf.mil.zc>
Subject: Re: ... whoo. okay.
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Fri Sep 21 2390 00:32:14 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

I don't have to duplicate it exactly, not in the sense of starting another space navy or anything. Well, not at first. That may come later, if... maybe I should start at the beginning.

What I have in mind is a completely different kind of agency. I'm only in the very, very early stages of developing the concept, but I see it as a kind of international police organization. And as to how it connects with the Ragnarök, well... a few of us were in a conference room after all the craziness was over with, trying to get a handle on the long-range implications, and Skuld said, "This was only the warning tone."

[...]

This is probably going to be even more complicated than setting the WDF back up was, now that I think about it, but I'm committed now. And anyway, the galaxy needs it, or it soon will. At least I'm only doing half of it. Zoner's got the other half. Supposedly. I haven't actually seen him since he wandered off with Eris. Hopefully he remembers that he said he was going to take care of the diplomatic part... although now that I think about it, that sort of fills me with fear.

Apropos of nothing, I should introduce you to Skuld. I think you'd like each other. She's a very technical girl.

Myen syeni sooyom,
--G.


2391

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: it's a very small population explosion
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Wed Jun 26 2391 00:47:17 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

Today I've spent the day handling some of the fallout from last fall's Interesting Week. For the most part this has involved making repeated round trips between New Avalon and Nekomikoka. In absolute terms I think I've covered something on the order of 2,500 light years today, which may explain why I'm exhausted even though I haven't actually done anything at either end but stand around being in people's way.

The upshot of it all, though, is that I have not one, but two sons to report. And yes, I did send you holos this time; they're under separate cover because I'm too tired to work this fershluginer attachment widget properly.

The first one you see there is Corwin, he's Skuld's son, which I guess means he was technically there for the Battle of Asgard. Do not give me that look. It was literally the day before the end of the world. This is especially traumatic if you happen to be the personification of the future. And the second one's Leonard - obviously he's Kei's - who was born about an hour later.

You want to talk about ready-made peer groups, there's a whole raft of these kids being born right around now, to those of us who were there at the Ragnarök. They're all going to hit the New Avalon public school system together in five years.

I think the school district's going to need a bigger boat. :)

Aishiteru,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: it's a very small population explosion
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Wed Jun 26 2391 08:53:29 -0000 (GST)

Dear Benjamin,

I wasn't giving you any look. I am now, but I wasn't at the time. At the time, if I had been inclined to give such a look to anyone, it would've been Skuld.

They're handsome boys. I know you think all infants look alike, but trust me, they are. And they both have your eyes. I can easily envision both, in 15 or 20 years' time, as serious breakers of hearts.

And I think you're right about the school district. If you make your donation now, they can probably complete the new building by the time it's needed.

Love,
- Tali

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: News from the Rayya
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Thu Nov 14 2391 10:22:39 -0000 (GST)

Dear Benjamin,

Rael has just informed us that he and his wife will be blessed with a child, if all goes according to expectations, sometime early next summer. I'm still not sure how I feel about the prospect of being a grandmother, but Vedik is ecstatic, and I'm certainly not upset, just... it feels a little strange.

I only wish Vedik's father had lived to see this day; Arnim worked so hard for so long on the Acclimation Project, in hopes of giving the generation after Rael's a hope of living free on Halo. Although he and Rael would probably just have gotten into an argument about it if he were here. Rael doesn't approve of the Acclimation Project. Over the last few years, he's settled firmly into the "Rannoch or nothing" camp. It's the one serious bone of contention between us.

Rael's also been promoted to second officer of the Rayya. He told me about that first, actually. I wonder about his priorities sometimes.

Love,
- Tali


2392

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: fascinating discovery
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Tue May 26 2392 21:19:22 -0000 (GST)

Did you ever have one of those days when you discovered something you thought was tremendously exciting on its own merits, but you knew was going to cause you a huge amount of tsuris when everybody else found out about it? Well, that's my day today.

Meet 2401 Penitent Tangent. He calls himself the Monitor of Installation 05, i.e., Halo. I'm not sure which is going to make more noise in the Conclave, the fact that we discovered an ancient AI construct, or the implication that there are, or have been, at least four more Halos. (And no, I don't know why penitent or tangent. Something lost in translation, perhaps.)

Tangent appears to be the same sort of device as the ones we found incomplete versions of on a defunct assembly line a few years ago. He says they're less advanced models than he is, not intended to be self-aware, and that he's the only proper AI on the ring. His job, as he describes it, is... well, basically just to make sure the automatic systems keep working. Which they do so well that he claims he's been in sleep mode since around 47,000 BSC. The other ones are just mobile terminals for him.

What's really amazing, though, is that Tangent himself is not the most fantastic discovery we've made this expedition. What Tangent showed us when we reactivated him is. He directed us to another of those outcrop/buildings, in a sector we hadn't explored yet. It's a facility he calls the Cartographer, and you can guess from that what it does.

We had to run around, shut down its security, and then run around again to get into the place, but it was worth it. The Cartographer contains a complete map of Halo, not just the surface but the substructure, with detailed explanations for what everything is and does. It'll take us years just to sift through all the information that's here, but in one day we've taken an enormous leap toward understanding what Halo really is.

Tangent himself is not that much help, sad to say. He says he's programmed to monitor Halo, not explain it, and that if I am truly the Reclaimer - whatever that means - I'll be able to work it out for myself.

The good news is that, whatever he's here to monitor, he doesn't object to our presence. It doesn't appear to matter to him at all that we're here, or that we may establish permanent settlements on the surface at some point. If anything, he seems pleased to have the company.

The Conclave is just going to love this.

Love,
- Tali

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: Re: fascinating discovery
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Wed May 27 2392 00:23:12 -0000 (GST)

Wow. 50,000 years old and it still works. Whatever civilization built that knew what they were doing. I wonder who it could've been? I mean, 50,000 years, that's way too long ago to have been Mandalor or Atlantis, or even the Padishah Empire. That's serious previous-epoch territory. Pyramids of Mars old. Earth still had a twin on the opposite side of the Sun back then. Do keep me posted on what you learn from the Cartographer, would you? It's a lot more interesting than the niceties of interstellar diplomacy.

Ah, I shouldn't bitch. Zoner's really come through, which I wasn't sure was a given when he went off on the whole "avatar of chaos" thing after the Ragnarök. The Babylon Foundation is perking away and between me, him, and Jer Feeple, we've just about got the International Police Accords knocked into a shape that reasonable nations might actually want to sign.

Mind you, I'm not entirely sure that this "Earth Alliance" that replaced Olympus once GENOM withdrew from Earth is going to be a reasonable nation - the charter they're debating for the Psi Corps rather argues against - but it's early days yet. They may calm down some once the memories of the Corporate Occupation have had a chance to fade a little.

Now all we need to do is find a place to put Babylon Station. Zoner thinks a big building in New Avalon would be fine, but I'm convinced that it should be somewhere less obviously aligned, not to mention more convenient for the delegates from, well, pretty much anywhere other than Zeta Cygni. We've got a short list. Once we have the site nailed down, I'm going to make sure whatever contractor we hire (yeah, three guesses who that's gonna be, I mean we're not going to cheat on the bid process, but) is aware that the Quarian Union is a good place to start if you're looking to hire experienced space hab technicians. And the Freespacer Home Fleet. Think they'll be able to work together? :)

Minä armastan sindai,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!cq923.rayya.navy.qu>
Subject: Well, the day has come.
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Sat Jun 20 2392 03:35:34 -0000 (GST)

Dear Benjamin,

I can no longer deny the inevitable. On this day, I must bow my head before the gods and acknowledge the pitiless truth:

I am a grandmother.

Rael's wife Zira'Vel gave birth to a daughter about an hour ago, in a cleanroom here in the Rayya's sickbay, with her friend Shala'Raan in attendance. I had to stay outside - Shala synchronized her biosuit with Zira's two weeks ago so that they would both be over the acclimation sickness in plenty of time. This shows considerable foresight on Zira's part. She knows her husband well enough to know that he wouldn't attend himself.

I am slightly furious with my son, but I suppose I have myself to blame. I suspect his tendency to focus on his duties to the exclusion of all else is a behavior he learned from me when he was small. I have to be honest with myself and admit that I was probably not the most enthusiastic parent the first few years of his life. But that does not excuse his refusal to go on the sick list for the birth of his child! That's something he should have done for Zira, if nothing else.

I'm sorry. This is supposed to be a moment of joy, not an excuse for an old woman to grumble about her pigheaded son. And however annoyed I am with her father, Rael and Zira's daughter is definitely a little spark of joy. Zira insists she looks like me. I think that might be stretching the point, but I do have to admit she's a little charmer. I suspect the magic will be lost on you, but I've sent along a picture anyway.

In case you're wondering why I haven't told you her name, it's because she doesn't have one yet. Zira decided to wait until Rael could participate in at least that much of the process, presumably because she didn't wish to force her daughter to go through life dragging the name "My Father is a Big Fat Idiot'Zorah" behind her.

Love,
- Tali

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: Re: Well, the day has come.
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Sat Jun 20 2392 10:02:39 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

Awww, it's a portable bio-isolation unit! Oh, no, wait, there's more than one image in this encode. Here we go... Oh! Aw, she's precious. Come on, I'm not completely indifferent to these matters, particularly not now that I've got three of my own. Though I have to admit, on a baby those ears look pretty funny.

I don't blame you for being annoyed with Rael. I'm not entirely clear on how these things work, socially speaking, among quarians, but I know that if I'd tried to skip out on, oh, let's say Leonard's birth, with the excuse that it was a work day, his mother would have skinned me and used me to cover the couch. On the other hand, I didn't have to prepare two weeks in advance - but then it's not as if Rael didn't have any advance notice. Little thing like your wife being pregnant? At least among humans, that becomes sort of obvious some time before game day.

But I did tell you years ago the kid needs a hobby.

I don't think you get to play the "I was a bad parent" card here, either. You were coming off a major disappointment your first few years back on the Flotilla. Maybe you should've waited a while longer before starting a family, I dunno, I wasn't there. But all things considered, you did all right. Remember, I spent 18 months with at least one eye him while he was working for me over in the Yard. He gets fixated on work, sure, and he's got no sense of humor, but in many other respects it's obvious he was raised right. You can't give Vedik all the credit for that.

No, I think you're just going to have to bite the bullet and accept the fact that, although a fine and upstanding officer and a highly proficient spacer, your son is a little bit of a dick. It happens.

Anyway, from what I've heard about Zira, I imagine he's going to hear all about it very soon, if he hasn't already. Maybe there'll be a useful lesson in there for next time.

And, while I'm refuting your assertions with cold, hard facts, let me just point out that you're not old either.

Ia tebe kohaiu,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: Well, the day has come.
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Sat Jun 20 2392 21:12:03 -0000 (GST)

Dear Benjamin,

I believe that sincerely was your best attempt at being reassuring. That's slightly depressing. You're probably right, though. I know Mordin agrees with you.

You're definitely right about Zira. When Rael came off-duty at 0930 and finally showed up in sickbay, she wouldn't even let him enter Recovery Decon until he apologized at the window, not just to her, but to their daughter as well. On his knees. It was most impressive and satisfying. Shala'Raan and I didn't even have to do anything but stand there and radiate nonverbal disapproval.

Perhaps in an effort to appease us, Rael suggested that they name her after me. I think Zira was leaning toward naming her after Shala, but she chipped in that she thought it was a great idea, so Tali'Zorah she is, and may Keelah have mercy on her soul. So now, in addition to resigning myself to being a grandmother, I'll have to put up with being called "Tali the Elder".

And there is nothing wrong with her ears, thank you.

Sadly, there won't be a next time for Rael to apply any lessons learned from this one. He and Zira have already given their second child allowance to another couple aboard their ship who wish to have a third. This is not an uncommon practice - Vedik and I did it as well - but it's a bit sad, inasmuch as it means little Tali's the end of the line for this branch of clan Zorah. But she's healthy and strong, and at the end of the watch, that's what's important.

Oh, and don't think I've forgotten what day it is in all the excitement. If nothing else, Zira's timing is good; I'll never forget my namesake's birthday. And happy birthday to you, too.

Love,
- Tali

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: Re: Well, the day has come.
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Sun Jun 21 2392 00:10:53 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

Thanks. My best birthday present this year is knowing your tribe has increased. Keelah se'lai.

And, for the record, you're the sexiest grandmother in the fleet. Ask anyone. Except Mordin. He clearly doesn't get that kind of thing. But I definitely still would. You know, if we weren't both married and didn't live a million-zillion miles apart.

Nakupenda,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: Well, the day has come.
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Sun Jun 21 2392 00:26:27 -0000 (GST)

Your being married didn't stop you and Skuld...

- Tali

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: Re: Well, the day has come.
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Sun Jun 21 2392 00:37:19 -0000 (GST)

Ah, God, I do miss that arch little look I know you were giving me when you said that.

Anyway, I might be the kind of guy who goes to another tent on the night before the end of the world (at his wife's instruction, I must remind you), but I'm not the kind of guy who'd steal another man's wife. Well, not a man I liked, anyway. I mean, if Vedik were a total creep who clearly didn't deserve you, that'd be one thing.

Phew. This is veering toward the sort of territory that could get somebody blackmailed someday. We'd better quit while we're ahead.

Zala kutaar,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: Well, the day has come.
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Sun Jun 21 2392 00:42:31 -0000 (GST)

Pah. Blackmail works only on people who have something to hide.

Good night, Benjamin.

Love,
- Tali


2393

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: So much for THAT...
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Mon Mar 8 2393 11:14:52 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

I expect you've seen it on the newswire by now, but in case you haven't, our first attempt at building Babylon Station ended in a complete shambles today. Somebody rammed a bulk freighter into the superstructure, blew their reactor, and smashed it all to hell. It's a complete loss, it'll be quicker and cheaper to just scrap it all and start over. Luckily, the crews were able to evacuate, so the only people who got killed were whoever was flying the freighter. We don't know who it was yet, but we'll find out.

Well, we knew this project wasn't going to be popular in some circles. Guess we'll have to beef up security on the site and try it again.

Sigh.

Na kirinla gaguidou,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: So much for THAT...
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Mon Mar 8 2393 12:23:49 -0000 (GST)

Oh my. Your father must be heartbroken. I hope he wasn't hurt.

- Tali

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: Re: So much for THAT...
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Mon Mar 8 2393 12:48:12 -0000 (GST)

No, he's fine. He was the last one out of the project office, but we made sure there was good shielding at that end of the complex. They were never in any real danger. And he saved all the diagrams, so we won't have too much of a delay getting started again. I yelled at him a little for that - I mean, the place is coming down around your ears, the hull breach alarm's going off, screw the documents, right? But he's not a lifelong spacer like us; he's spent most of his career building stuff on the ground. He doesn't have those instincts.

And I don't know if I'd say he's heartbroken. "Royally pissed off" would be more the phrase I would reach for. He hates people breaking stuff he built by accident, let alone on purpose. And the one thing we absolutely know right now is that this was on purpose. That ship was fully under control until the moment of impact, and that reactor cookoff was not crash-induced. These assholes deliberately rammed the station and set off their self-destruct.

There's a special spit in Hell for people like that to roast on. I know, I've seen it.

--G.

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: Prepare yourself...
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Tue Jun 29 2393 14:32:19 -0000 (GST)

... for now you face...

... the Spawn of MegaZone.

Behold the terror, all... hang on, I have it written down here, you see, I am learning... seven point two five Standard pounds of it. (You can calculate her length yourself with the handy scale guide I included in the holo!) Sylvie Anri Daniels, future scourge of the cosmos. Look at those evil little eyes, those snarling lips, those chubby fists already prepared to punch the galaxy in the middle of its face.

No, okay, I admit, she's adorable. But then, with Yuri's genes in there she'd be hard-pressed not to be, even if she did end up with her old man's nose.

Kei's figuring on providing her with a playmate in a couple of months. After that I think I'm calling a halt to this whole parent business. Four is quite enough, thank you very much. I do not have a Rameses the Great complex.

... Say, there's an idea. If you don't want to be called "Tali the Elder" - and who could blame you - see if you can get people to start calling you "Tali the Great". I mean, you did discover Halo. More or less. And the Cartographer. And Tangent. And Mordin, whom I truly believe should be declared a national treasure by the quarian government. And... well, you're just generally great.

Rad te imam,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: Prepare yourself...
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Tue Jun 29 2393 15:32:49 -0000 (GST)

You are not exactly an unbiased witness, but thank you.

Please pass my congratulations on to Zoner and Yuri. And possibly my condolences to Yuri, who now presumably has to raise a child with Zoner alongside her trying to help. As your friend Dr. Duke says, I think I am getting the Fear.

Love,
- Tali

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: Hold on, I didn't order twins.
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Sun Aug 22 2393 19:39:12 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

Remember a couple of months ago when I said I was done fathering children at four? As it turns out, that was predicated on a false assumption, that being that Kei was only working on one.

So here we have Priscilla (named after Priss from New Japan, of whom you've heard - Kei's idea) and Gai (pronounced "Guy"; Kei swears it's someone she knew at work around the time I was with Priss and it's not just that she wasn't expecting him and didn't have a name prepared). We were thinking of middle-naming them after you and Vedik, but we thought we should check with you first. This is going to seem weird, but Priss's eyes kind of remind me of yours. No, look at the picture before you decide I'm crazy. They're blue and not reflective, but they're so pale that in some lights they look silver.

Okay. Five. I can handle five. But this is absolutely it, at least until this batch is grown up and out of the house.

Help.

T'aimi,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: Hold on, I didn't order twins.
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Sun Aug 22 2393 20:22:20 -0000 (GST)

You'll get no sympathy from me, space hero. It's not as if you played no part in any of it. :)

They're beautiful. (And you're right about Priscilla's eyes, how odd. That will get some lucky boy or girl's attention in a few years.) Vedik and I would be deeply honored to have them bear our names.

Love,
- Tali


2394

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: unexpected loose ends
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Wed Mar 16 2394 00:27:33 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

Sometimes I hate living in the future.

By that I mainly mean that life was a lot simpler when it wasn't possible for people to build elaborate cybernetic traps that take more than a hundred years to fire, then leave them lying around the galaxy for me to trip over them all unsuspecting. Especially assassin androids. I hate assassin androids for a bunch of reasons. Chief among them the fact that they give all the other androids a bad name. It's difficult maintaining public credibility as a robot-rights advocate when killer robots keep attacking you in shopping malls.

This particular one annoyed me even more because she had a copy of Largo in her head. Dammit, call me demanding, but when I kill a man I expect his ass to stay dead.

Still, all's well that ends well. I managed to subdue her (killer she-robot with Largo's matrix in her. that boy had issues) and Larry yanked the Largo chip. She's going to spend a little time with us while she tries to figure out who the hell she is without Largo timesharing her neural net.

Makes me wonder, though, how many other contingency parts of Götterdämmerung are still out there somewhere, hanging fire because Largo was a sloppy programmer. Makes my head hurt.

On the plus side, Thursday is Kate's birthday. I can't believe she's five already. Five and sharp as a tack, though I'm a little worried. She still has the stutter I told you about, and it's not responding to therapy at all. It's weird, too, because talking to me or Marty Rose, she doesn't stutter at all, but anybody else? It's not too bad with her mother, or Eiko, or Zoner and Yuri, but with strangers she can barely talk at all. The doctors are completely baffled, even Rocky Stone hasn't got a clue what's causing it - there's no physical reason for it as far as he can tell. But something has to be causing it, and it's going to make life hard for her when she starts school this fall. Kei thinks maybe we ought to home school her, but I don't know... if it's a social anxiety thing, she's never going to get over it unless she's more broadly socialized.

This parenting stuff is hard.

Saranghe,
--G.


2395

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: That was refreshing...
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Sat Aug 19 2395 10:12:47 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

Just got home from Ishiyama, where - as usual - what was intended to be a simple social call turned into a wild and crazy adventure. I have to feel for General Yanagi, I really do. Of all the times to try and spring his coup, he does it while Kei and I are visiting the Hanagumi. Poor bastard.

Despite the unexpected need to fight off half the Imperial Army from the front lawn of the Emperor's summer palace - or, hell, maybe because of it - it was good times. Kei and the girls got on really well (arguably, slightly too well), and we found out that Sakura has a daughter who's about Corwin and Len's age, so it's a fairly safe bet that that already dangerous peer group just acquired another aspiring galactic hero. Sumire had some problems, but we, er, sorted them out. And it was fun to fight alongside the Hanagumi again. Just like old times. I hadn't piloted a Kohbu in, hell, 40 years?

Inevitably, because of the timing - I'd left Ishiyama just before I got the invitation to that auction on Omega - I thought of you a lot. After what happened on Ishiyama, I felt... used up, emotionally. Burned out. Not only did I think I didn't care any more, I assumed I was no longer worth caring about, either. I think I wanted to be that cynical, that bitter, simply because giving a damn had gotten to the point where it hurt too much.

And then you came along.

Without you - without what we became to each other during our time in Goodyear - I don't think I'd have been able to accomplish what I did after my warp drive accident. My head wouldn't have been in anything like the right space for me to make a career for myself in Starfleet, to forge the friendships I had to have to make it work, or to command the loyalty of my crew that eventually saw me through on Salusia when we crossed back over. I wouldn't have been a good enough man to make any of that that happen, and I wouldn't have cared enough to bother trying anyway.

So when I tell you tayyôr qitæn, I mean it more literally than most. I think you really did save my soul. I'm incalculably lucky you came along when you did. I'm not sure I've ever told you all that in so many words, and after unexpectedly reconnecting with the part of my past that immediately preceded it, it's been very much on my mind.

I love you so much.

--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: That was refreshing...
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Sat Aug 19 2395 12:23:57 -0000 (GST)

... Wow. That was unexpected. Not unwelcome, mind you, but unexpected.

I'm flattered to think that I singlehandedly reversed the course of your life, but here's something you should consider: I didn't do it alone. You're the one who took the first step. If you had truly been as low as you thought, you would have walked away on Omega and left me to my fate. But you didn't. You risked confronting one of the most dangerous criminal organizations in the galaxy for the sake of a perfect stranger. No one incapable of caring would ever have done a thing like that.

If you hadn't, then I wouldn't be here now, and Rael and Tali'Zorah wouldn't exist at all. So, on the whole, I would say we're about even. And you know I love you too.

Well! That's knocked what I was going to write you about today quite out of my head. I had intended to write later this afternoon to tell you about the latest developments on the Halo front. There's good and bad news there, as is often the case. The good news is that the Conclave has finally gotten around to acknowledging that Tangent can help us and shouldn't be interfered with in his duties (not that they had much choice, given the Federation charter's language about pre-epochal relics).

The bad news is that the Acclimation Project isn't progressing as quickly as Mordin had hoped. A few volunteers from the experimental town at what used to be Goodyear (which, with typical imagination, the Conclave still calls "Test Settlement One", though the residents have taken to calling it "Soluston", much to Mordin's embarrassment) tried to go a month with their biosuits in open protocol (not taking them off, but disengaging most of the filters), and... it didn't go well. Mordin insists that he got a lot of useful data in the process, and nobody died, but it'll clearly be a long time before anyone can live in the open down there.

Still, we persevere. Science, Mordin reminds me, is a relentless lesson in the universe's indifference to our desires.

Speaking of science, did Kohran ever get her capital-wide messaging system working? When I was there, a year or so after you disappeared, she was making progress with the clockwork pigeon protocol, but the constant demon attacks were interfering with her testing schedule.

Once again I've typed something that shouldn't make any sense at all. They say the pilgrimage is supposed to broaden one's horizons, but I don't think the ancients had contact with your world in mind when they devised it.

But, as I've told you before, I wouldn't change a thing. Well, one thing. But, as we know, there's no point dwelling on that.

Love,
- Tali


2396

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: Oh, for God's sake.
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Mon Feb 5 2396 15:33:12 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

They've done it again. This time it was some sort of internal sabotage, we're still figuring out the details. It looks like somehow they managed to bypass the internal energy distribution systems' safeties and the damage control protocols and flash all the station's internal power lines to plasma. Basically, a very sophisticated form of good old-fashioned arson. The resulting overpressure blew bulkheads out all over the place and the heat warped major structural members throughout the spaceframe. The whole thing's a total loss, again.

Worse, this time people got killed. Not many, luckily. We think they were trying to take out the entire night shift crew, but they blew their timing and set it off during the changeover. Almost everybody was either off the station or near enough to an evacuation area. About two dozen people weren't so lucky, but if they'd gotten it right the total would've been more like 6,000. Not much consolation to those two dozen families, though.

I say "they", we don't really know it was the same people. Nobody's taken responsibility for this one yet.

Dad's all right, and it was just dumb luck this time. He was supposed to be aboard for the shift change, had some instructions he wanted to pass on to the night crew, but at the last minute he had to meet with a vendor rep and they insisted on having the meeting down on Bajor rather than on the station. The time difference between B2 and Jalanda City saved his life.

I am, as the noted Weekly World News political columnist Ed Anger used to say, pig-biting mad. If I wasn't so busy picking up the pieces, I'd go out and find the people responsible, and demonstrate my disapproval personally. As it is, Kei and Yuri are on it, so those people are probably even more screwed.

All I'm trying to do is save the universe here. Why do so many people feel the need to get all up in my grille about that?

J't'aquiers,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: Oh, for God's sake.
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Mon Feb 5 2396 17:12:48 -0000 (GST)

Dear Benjamin,

There's just no pleasing some people. If three decades as the unofficial chief representative of all the Halo research projects to the Conclave have taught me anything, it's that.

I'm glad your father is safe. Such narrow escapes were commonplace on the Flotilla when I was young; they've tapered off a great deal since we stopped roaming the cosmos and settled in Scandia, since even though we still live aboard our ships, we aren't subjecting them to the stresses of constant interstellar travel any longer.

Also, I think you'll find it's "all up in my grill". No e.

Love,
- Tali

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: Re: Oh, for God's sake.
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Mon Feb 5 2396 20:13:42 -0000 (GST)

Really? I always assumed it was a metaphorical reference to the shiny bit on the front of a car. Ah, well. Clearly I am not "down with the street".

Though I kind of have to wonder how it is that you are, given that you spend most of your time exploring an ancient space habitat and the rest living aboard a Star Destroyer.

Ez te hez dikim,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: Oh, for God's sake.
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Mon Feb 5 2396 22:35:23 -0000 (GST)

Just because we live on ships doesn't mean we don't have a youth culture. In fact, if anything, our adults are more thoroughly exposed to what our young people are up to because of the close living conditions on the Flotilla. Even I, a certified old person, understand the importance of being able to both pop and lock.

Love,
- Tali

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: Re: Oh, for God's sake.
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Mon Feb 5 2396 22:49:22 -0000 (GST)

Your kung fu is best.

Wo ai ni,
--G.


2397

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: Talk me out of this.
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Mon Sep 8 2397 16:32:12 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

If Ephrem Broadbank doesn't stop encouraging his daughter Liza to torment Kate at school, I swear to Christ I'm going to have him killed.

Obviously I need to be prevented from doing this. Kei is no bloody help at all in that department, as she wants me to have her do it.

Szeretlek,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: Talk me out of this.
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Mon Sep 8 2397 15:03:14 -0000 (GST)

Dear Benjamin,

Of course you shouldn't have him killed. Don't be preposterous. You're one of the good guys. Miranda said so, and Miranda is never wrong about these things. Except when she is, but let's not consider that.

Now, if you were to arrange matters so that he is very publicly, and totally deniably, humiliated - perhaps by being arrested in the city center for reckless driving - that might be all right, assuming you had the tools necessary to make something like that happen. Unfortunately, you do not, and so there the matter must rest.

Due to a system error, you may happen to find attached to this message a bit of omni-tool software that can remotely override the helm controls of certain models of aircar, including - by a strange coincidence - the SEAT Grandee del Vuelo. With this, a person possessing a quarian omni-tool and a criminal mind could get up to all sorts of mischief at the expense of certain corporate eminences who drive GdVs.

I hope I can trust you not to use this power for evil.

Love,
- Tali

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: Re: Talk me out of this.
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Mon Sep 8 2397 20:12:03 -0000 (GST)

That was richly satisfying. I love you.

--G.


2398

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: A breakthrough... maybe.
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Mon Apr 27 2398 14:32:48 -0000 (GST)

Dear Benjamin,

Good news to report on the Halo Acclimation Project. Mordin has had a test group living in Soluston under open protocol for the past three weeks, and both illness rates and severities are markedly reduced from the 2395 experiment. The statistics are still not comparable to the Flotilla, and the quality of life isn't acceptable for long-term settlement, but it's a major step forward. It shows that the treatment vectors he's been developing may be the right direction in which to proceed.

We're now seeking approval for a larger-scale test (we have hundreds of eager volunteers, but all sapient experimentation must be approved by the Conclave, nor would Mordin's ethics permit him to proceed otherwise). Depending on the data we get back from that, we may be able to determine definitively whether we're on the right track. If we are, it's all a question of refinement. If not, it's back to square one. Again.

Cross your fingers for us.

Love,
- Tali

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: Re: A breakthrough... maybe.
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Mon Apr 27 2398 16:02:20 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

That's terrifically encouraging news. I'm pulling for you.

I'd offer to throw the IPO's growing tech/sci resources behind you as well, if you want them, but frankly I think you've already got the best person in the galaxy on the job, so all we could provide is basic backchecking. Still, it's available if you want it.

Deu t'amu,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: krif'tet politicians
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Fri May 1 2398 16:12:32 -0000 (GST)

Dear Benjamin,

No joy with the Conclave. They want to proceed very cautiously after what happened during the 2395 test. We're only authorized to run further trials with different groups the same size as the one we just completed, one at a time, until we've accumulated enough of a statistical base that we can come closer to guaranteeing success in a large-scale test. Mordin and I tried to explain to them that that isn't the way science works, but they don't want to hear it. Unless we can promise them ahead of time how it will come out, they don't want to take any but the smallest steps at a time.

I suppose I can see their point, but it's frustrating. And disheartening for our volunteers. They want to go ahead. They're not worried about getting sick. Some of them wouldn't even mind dying if it got us somewhere. Obviously we don't want to risk that, but it shows how committed they are to creating a better life for their children or their children's children.

Sometimes I despair of the Conclave, I truly do. I suppose I should look at the positive side of it and say that at least they're letting us do this much. Without Mordin's relentlessly upbeat attitude, I'd have thrown up my hands a long time ago.

At least with Tangent's help we have a farm working. Its produce is only cleared for use in Soluston, as part of the experimental settlement project, but early test results show that what we're growing there is every bit as good as what comes off the Flotilla's ag-ships. I thought of you helping to plant the melon field in Goodyear...

Love,
- Tali

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: Babylon 3
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Fri Nov 13 2398 11:12:03 -0000 (GST)

Fucking batarians.

--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: Babylon 3
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Fri Nov 13 2398 11:30:21 -0000 (GST)

What?

Oh. I see. I'll... just be here if you want to talk later. You must be far too angry to carry on a conversation right now.

At least this time I know for certain that there's no way your father could have been involved, since he's here. Do you want me to tell him?

- Tali

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: Re: Babylon 3
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Fri Nov 13 2398 11:35:21 -0000 (GST)

Yes, please.

Can't believe this happened again. I was afraid something like it would, though. Knew right from the start what I needed to do and pretended it'd all be okay and I wouldn't have to go to the trouble.

IPO needs its own navy, which means I'm gonna have to set one up.

Again. Christ.

Sorry so terse. You're right, too pissed off to be civil right now. Might vidcom you later on, once I've calmed down. Screw the expense.

Mahal kita,
--G.


2399

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: A dangerous child.
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Sun Jun 20 2399 18:39:19 -0000 (GST)

Dear Benjamin,

Happy birthday to you.

I just got home from Tali'Zorah's birthday party, and I think it's now official: That child is dangerously clever. For her birthday, she asked me for the casing from one of the incomplete Monitors Mordin and I found years ago. I saw no harm in that. Unknown to me, she also asked Mordin for certain of the internal components and her mother for an energy cell, then spent the afternoon, after cake and ice cream, assembling them all into a working robot.

It can't do very much - it has no internal logic systems and simply operates as a remote sensing drone from her omni-tool - but that's not the point. The point is that she's seven years old and understood both how to maneuver the three of us into providing her with all the parts she would need for this project and how to assemble them into a working device. She's dubbed it "Chikktika vas Paus" (why vas Paus I have no idea, we don't even have a ship called the Paus in the Flotilla) and refuses to be parted from it.

Oh, and the part that glows blue on Tangent is pink.

Rael is annoyed, which is only going to make Tali'Zorah more adamant. He was recently promoted to first officer and is apparently concerned that her tinkering with Monitor parts will play poorly with the brass. Which, to be fair, it probably will, but so what? I do wish he could look beyond his precious career for a few minutes and just appreciate his daughter's genius.

I suspect he hoped for a son. Certainly he expects she'll be a soldier like him, which everyone else around her can see is patently absurd. She attends to her military studies diligently, because she's that kind of child, but her heart clearly belongs to engineering. Fortunately, Zira and I are here to offset his excessive zeal.

Love,
- Tali

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: Re: A dangerous child.
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Sun Jun 20 2399 19:21:39 -0000 (GST)

Ha! I love this kid and I've never even met her. She sounds like Mini-You.

I wish I'd had a robot friend at that age. It would have kept me out of so much trouble. And gotten me into so much other trouble, probably, but what the hell.

Also, wait, she's seven and Rael has her in military training?

Miluji tě,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: A dangerous child.
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Sun Jun 20 2399 20:03:34 -0000 (GST)

Yes, as a matter of fact, he does. She won't be allowed to start the really physically demanding training until she's old enough to have a proper biosuit - there are no cleanrooms large enough to hold facilities for that kind of thing - but he's had her studying small-unit tactics, military history, weapons technology, and such for more than a year, and she has a personal fitness regimen she does every morning. I don't object to that so much - a healthy body is important, especially when you're quarian - but I can't see how cramming the child's head full of the Battle of the Cron Drift at the age of six is in any way helpful.

As I said, her mother and I do what we can. Zira makes certain her other studies aren't neglected in favor of too much of what she calls Rael's "navy nonsense", and I ensure that she doesn't completely lack for opportunities to just be a child. We don't get many of those growing up on the Flotilla anyway, but no one can be serious all the time. Not without ending up like Rael, anyway.

Perhaps she needs a vacation. We don't receive our first permanent biosuits until adolescence, but they can be custom-made for smaller children. They don't last long because children grow so fast, but for a two- or three-week trip, they're perfectly adequate, and it's useful training for later in life. Rael would never countenance the cost of such an extravagance, but Vedik and I don't answer to him. If we want to take our granddaughter to visit friends in New Avalon at our own expense, I doubt he will stop us.

Love,
- Tali

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: Re: A dangerous child.
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Sun Jun 20 2399 21:17:54 -0000 (GST)

By all means, come ahead. We'd be absolutely delighted to have you. Tali'Zorah's in between the Ragnarök Wave and the twins in age, so she should fit right into the pack, and our schools here are on summer break for the next couple of months, so they won't be wandering off to school and leaving her all alone. I bet Corwin, in particular, will love her. He's a very technical boy.

Let me know the dates you plan to travel and I'll make arrangements on this end. As you may recall from when you and Vedik were here in '88, I've got a guest room with its own ensuite that can be cleanroom-ready in a matter of a few minutes, and we already know I can iso the kitchen with a little work. I just need to source some right-handed ingredients, which isn't hard in a city with a Turiantown. You can't bring the kid to New Avalon and take her home again without shyam in between!

Oo, this is exciting! Best birthday present I've had in years.

Men seni ynakshir,
--G.

From: "Tali'Zorah nar Rayya" <tali.zorah!rayya.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.zorah!cvp2402.rayya.navy.qu>
Subject: Thank you.
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Date: Mon Jul 12 2399 08:44:11 -0000 (GST)

Dear Mr. Hutchins,

Thank you and your family very much for your hospitality for the last two weeks. I had a wonderful time. New Avalon is a beautiful city. I especially enjoyed the Foundation Day fireworks. I hope to return on my pilgrimage.

Sincerely,
Tali'Zorah nar Rayya

P.S. Chikktika says thank you as well.

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!ipo.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!xerxes.hq.ipo.zc>
Subject: Re: Thank you.
To: <tali.zorah!rayya.navy.qu>
Date: Mon Jul 12 2399 09:45:12 -0000 (GST)

You're very welcome, Tali'Zorah. It was great having you here. You're both welcome to come back any time you want!

And you don't have to call me Mr. Hutchins. Ben is fine, or Benjamin, or Gryphon. Your father doesn't need to know. ;)

Yrs,
--G.

To be concluded in Correspondence III: 2400-2410


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                  RE: Correspondence II: 2390-2399 (v2) Bodhi Mar-29-10 29
   development trivia Gryphonadmin Mar-30-10 30
      RE: development trivia A Vile Gangster Mar-30-10 31
          RE: development trivia Gryphonadmin Mar-30-10 32
              RE: development trivia Arashi Mar-30-10 33
              RE: development trivia A Vile Gangster Mar-30-10 34
                  RE: development trivia Gryphonadmin Mar-30-10 35
                      RE: development trivia A Vile Gangster Mar-31-10 36
                          RE: development trivia Gryphonadmin Mar-31-10 37
                          RE: development trivia Mephronmoderator Mar-31-10 38
                              RE: development trivia The Traitor Mar-31-10 39
                                  RE: development trivia A Vile Gangster Mar-31-10 40


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