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Old 09-17-2014, 01:19 AM   #41
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Default Re: The Desert of Desolation?

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
I suspect satellite photos of the whole of Iraq have been examined carefully several times in the past few decades. Of course, the people doing that probably weren't interested in ancient cities, at least not publically.
Good point.

I don't actually have any idea how easy it is to spot 5,000+ years old ruins from aerial or satellite photographs. Would it necessarily be distinguishable from natural rock formations covered in sand?

In particular, I'm interested in something similar to the Wabar craters. Could evidence of a similar impact that occured more than three thousand and possibly more than five thousand years ago be entirely hidden from satellite and aerial photography, most analysis of which would have been concerned with entirely different things?
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Old 09-17-2014, 01:38 AM   #42
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Default Re: The Desert of Desolation?

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I don't actually have any idea how easy it is to spot 5,000+ years old ruins from aerial or satellite photographs. Would it necessarily be distinguishable from natural rock formations covered in sand?
Depends on the layout. From very little knowledge of aerial archaeology, rectangular or circular wall plans tend to stand out; buildings that were essentially modifications to natural formations might be far less conspicuous.
Quote:
In particular, I'm interested in something similar to the Wabar craters. Could evidence of a similar impact that occured more than three thousand and possibly more than five thousand years ago be entirely hidden from satellite and aerial photography, most analysis of which would have been concerned with entirely different things?
With enough sand drifted over it, certainly. But that would also make it undetectable at ground level, unless the sand has moved, naturally or artificially.
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Old 09-17-2014, 01:45 AM   #43
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Default Re: The Desert of Desolation?

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Depends on the layout. From very little knowledge of aerial archaeology, rectangular or circular wall plans tend to stand out; buildings that were essentially modifications to natural formations might be far less conspicuous.
And anything blasted into rubble ought to be hard to detect?

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With enough sand drifted over it, certainly. But that would also make it undetectable at ground level, unless the sand has moved, naturally or artificially.
Oh, there is not supposed to be anything visible until they start digging. Being able to talk to spirits who claim to be old enough to have inhabited the ruins really helps with archeology...
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Old 09-17-2014, 02:21 AM   #44
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Default Re: The Desert of Desolation?

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And anything blasted into rubble ought to be hard to detect?
Yes, although a lot of rubble would be interesting in itself, and might have aroused the interest of the people inspecting satellite imagery. If they though it was recent, they'd wonder what had been destroyed, and why.
Quote:
Oh, there is not supposed to be anything visible until they start digging. Being able to talk to spirits who claim to be old enough to have inhabited the ruins really helps with archeology...
OK, but you're going to want some earthmoving equipment for any deeply buried site.
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Old 09-17-2014, 09:49 AM   #45
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Default Re: The Desert of Desolation?

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Yes, although a lot of rubble would be interesting in itself, and might have aroused the interest of the people inspecting satellite imagery. If they though it was recent, they'd wonder what had been destroyed, and why.
Yes, but hopefully thousands of years of erosion, sand accumulation or whatever else the passage of time does in the Iraqi desert will serve to cloak anything visible to interested observers using technological means.

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OK, but you're going to want some earthmoving equipment for any deeply buried site.
Once any no-doubt-entirely-benevolent-agency had somehow checked the claims of any 'helpful' spirits and become convinced that a given location actually contained someting of value, it would become necessary to get in equipment to conduct a dig.

Of course, if a given spot had local mana that was +3 and up to +5 relative to the -10 of most of the world, that alone would make it valuable, even without setting up a dig there. No doubt any not-at-all-nefarious-organisation with paranormal interests in Iraq would have spent a lot of time in the last years just mapping out and trying to control several places of decent mana.

And if it happens that your controlled locations all have to do with your area of expertise, a certain period of time, a certain dead language, a certain group of spirits, you'd have to reach an accomodation of some sort if you found a need to carry out a ritual involving a spirit of a different era/ethnicity/language.

Locations are certainly 'flavoured' in their mana and a temple to an Elamite mother-goddess is certainly not going to be a favourable location for rituals involving spirits identifying with the Assyrian King of the Air Spirits, or vice versa for some location strongly associated with Pazuzu if what you desire is to call upon a snake spirit who speaks Hittite.
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Old 09-18-2014, 02:33 AM   #46
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Default A recap of the first session -Briefings

To keep interested forumites up to date, to enable them to make apt suggestions and for the perverse enjoyment of some of them, I shall attempt session recap.

The first playing session saw our heroes introduced. They met at the US Embassy compound in Baghdad, where they got a briefing from Ms. Alejandra Sofia Corazon, the State Department Program Managment and Operations Officer responsible for their part of the Police Development Program. They also got a briefing from the Assistant Regional Security Officer of the Diplomatic Security Service, Mr. Michael Lydon, who stressed that they would not be receiving DSS or Triple Canopy protection after their convoy had taken them to Nasiriyah, but would be protected by a security detail provided by the Dhi Qar command of the Iraqi Police Service.

Briefings

LG Frank Helmick to Col. Irmintraut
Col. Irmintraut had previously been briefed by Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick on how the contractor work for the Police Development Program was merely a cover for their presence in Nasiriyah and a way for Brigadier General Abdul Taweed al-Jabouri at the Iraqi Ministry of Interior to justify getting them access to the anomalous police records.

As contractors for the PDP, the characters would still have to turn in all reports and do the work, but should take care that the reports were boring enough for no one to actually notice them. As the PDP was notoriously ineffective, as it lacked much support from the locals and had extremely vague goals, it was unlikely that the State Department would notice that one of their teams was actually spending most of their time doing something entirely differerent.

No one other than BG al-Jabouri and those most trusted in his Middle Euphrates Province Security office at the Iraqi MoI and no one at all with the IPS in Dhi Qar are supposed to be aware that the PDP team has an intelligence remit. BG al-Jabouri has secretly arranged for potential emergency back-up in the form of several platoons from the 'Scorpion Brigades', the MoI Emergency Response Brigade, who are training less than two hours away from Nasiriyah with American SFs and a SIGINT team from US Army Military Intelligence Corps. In a case of utmost need, there is a Mi-17 helicopter available. This option is just to be used to extract the PDP team if things go badly wrong, however.

The prefered plan is to simply for the analysis of police records and comparison with what the characters can glean from interviewing the reporting officers to turn up enough evidence to determine that Major-General Sabah al-Fatlawi was not involved in any corrupt conspiracy of embezzlement or a murderous campaign to cover one up. Then whatever evidence they'd found could be shared with him and he could use his most trusted police units to arrest any individuals connected to the conspiracy.

BG Jerry Cannon to Lt. Jerome Book
Lt. Jerome Book had gotten his briefing from Brigadier General Jerry Cannon, a Sheriff in Michigan in civilian life and a fan of Book's forensics textbooks. BG Cannon shared with him his personal knowledge of MG Sabah al-Fatlawi and his reasons for believing that the apparent anomalies in the police records of the corruption investigations from Dhi Qar were the result of an Iranian-backed project to discredit MG al-Fatlawi.

It is certainly a verifiable fact that al-Fatlawi is hardly popular with Nasiriyah political elites connected to the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq (ISCI) or other pro-Iran Shia groups in the south of Iraq. In fact, his appointment as police chief was strongly opposed by what few spokesmen associated with the Mahdi Army can be found in Dhi Qar and very unpopular with politicians with Badrist militia connections.

During al-Fatlawi's tenure as IPS chief in Dhi Qar, the US position in the years 2008-2010 was that a measurable improvement in the quality of policing in Dhi Qar could be seen. Since March 2011, however, the security situation in Dhi Qar has apparently plummeted, along with most other metrics for governmental success there, though there is little evidence of insurgent or militia activity having increased there. Instead, it seems that the traditional crime rate has risen by more than an order of magnitude.

Major AnÝbal Garcia Lopez to SSG Akeem Nassir
SSG Nassir was told a disquieting story by his 1st SFOD-D commanding officer. Apparently, two of his acquintances, US Army enlisted men with SIGINT MOS-es who were on detached duty with United States Army Studies and Analysis Activity, had not, as Nassir believed, died in a car accident in Al-Anbar.

Instead, they had died while unofficially seconded to a team from the Iraqi Federal Intelligence and Investigative Agency, which was carrying out technical surveillance of Dhi Qar senior officials suspected of corruption. This team, specially chosen and supported in the most lavish fashion, had been dispatched when a previous four-man team from FIIA, sent to Dhi Qar to investigate the death of a MoI auditor, had simply stopped sending reports.

According to police reports from the Dhi Qar IPS, eleven people were killed and seventeen wounded when a gas leak caused an explosion in the Arido district of Nasiriyah. Among the dead were six men in a van outside the house. The surviving FIIA men and other Iraqi Federal Police there to provide security backed up that report.

All except one, that is, a Federal Police SWAT member who had a very different story. He told his Baghdad superiors that he was watching the van at the time of the fire and the fire did not start in any house. According to him, the fire started within the van itself, shortly after a FIIA technical surveillance expert returned to the van from having attached a spike microphone to the window fane of the mosque that they were surveilling. The surveillance expert was walking very oddly, like he was sick, when he got into the van.

According to the IFP man, the surveillance expert was hardly wearing enough clothing to conceal enough incendiary material to cause a fire like the one that broke out. Also, no one tried to get out of the van as it burned. Since at least thirty seconds passed from the time the surveillance expert entered it and until any sign of fire could be seen, and the van clearly shook during that time, the IFP witness believes that the FIIA team, and the two Americans, may have been killed prior to the fire being set.

The problem with this story is that seven other men from the FIIA or the IFP saw the van burn and all of them claim that there was a gas explosion in a nearby house and the van caught fire subsequent to that. They do acknolwedge that the van was located where it was because they were trying to collect electronic intercepts and voice data from the small Sunni mosque Salaam Sikr in the Arido district of Nasiriyah.

Because of the discrepancy in the stories, the Ministry of Interior has arrested the IFP man who tells a different story from everyone else. He is under suspicion of having somehow caused the gas leak or being in league with whoever may have done so. He's held in Baghdad, along with two security guard contractors from Triple Canopy, an Ugandan and a Kurd, who were involved in a somewhat mysterious US-connected shooting in Nasiriyah six weeks ago.

LG Sir Barnabas William Benjamin White-Spunner KCB, CBE to Taz Walker
In a fairly mysterious phone call, which Taz must take in a secure phone at his Reserve service barracks, the British Commander of the Field Army personally devotes fifteen minutes of his day to chat to Taz about the time they both served in Iraq. Taz did handle a potentially awkward situation in MNF-I South-East with a fair bit of delicacy, obtaining a confession just in time to prevent the press from charging in and making everyone uncomfortable, but apart from a short and grateful interview at the time, he does not remember ever speaking with Sir Barnabas before or since.

Sir Barnabas reveals that he has spoken with his predecessor as Commander, Land Army, Sir Graeme Lamb, about Taz and his qualities. Sir Graeme and Taz do have the sort of relationship which might have justified a call, though hardly on a secure line with an ADFIS-registered 4WD vehicle dispatched to fetch Taz to take it, as they know each other all the way back to when Taz was on detached service to the UK and Sir Graeme was a fairly junior Captain.

Apparently, Sir Barnabas wants Taz to pack up and go to Iraq. Officially, he'll be a contractor to the United States State Department Police Development Program, doing much the same work as he did during his last ADFIS stint in the country, training senior Iraqi policemen at how to run complicated investigations in a modern police force. Unofficially, he is supposed to find out what was behind a baffling series of reports from the local cops, the head of whom was being made to look exceedingly bad.

Which, as far as Taz could ascertain, made it a matter for senior generals to worry about, as Sir Barnabas apparently knew the man personally and liked him well enough. And some American generals were equally convinced that anything that looked like the Dhi Qar police chief was carrying out a massive program of murders to cover up equally massive corruption was most likely an Iranian-backed disinformation campaign.

But apparently Taz was being asked to go along for entirely different reasons. In between uncharacteristics hesitations and circumlocations by the articulate and urbane Sir Barnabas, Taz suddenly realised the meaning of all these references to his 'open-mindedness'. Sir Barnabas had some reason to believe that whatever was happening in Dhi Qar was something that most American counter-intelligence or Federal law-enforcement officers would dimiss out of hand. Sir Barnabas thought that something spooky was going on.
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Old 09-19-2014, 10:00 AM   #47
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Default Recap of the first session - You All Meet at a Bar (Sort Of)

After a series of briefings, both seperate and some where the team as a whole was gathered together, the PCs went to the cafeteria in the Embassy to get a late lunch / early dinner. The salad bar was fully stocked, which was a relief, but the news that no alcohol could be purchased there was greeted with dismay on the part of the players. Not because their characters had planned on washing their lunches down with vodka and beer, but because this meant that their PCs were not, in fact, all meeting in a bar.

Bravely powering through regardless, the different characters are characterised slightly through their lunch choices. Not that anyone notices what Sir Archibald Forsyth-Sykes or Jerome Book have. Probably something unobjectionable, sensible and unobtrusive. In any case, it doesn't come up. We'll assume that they had whatever lunch special was on.

The perky young operator who introduced himself simply as SSG Akeem Nassir of the US Army slightly clarifies this somewhat mysterious introduction as he immediately makes a beeline toward the food, exclaiming with a grin: 'Rangers lead the way!' He proceeds to load his plate with pretty much everything, from all the hot dishes of the day as well as the salad bar, easily enough food for two or more people, acting as blithely unconcerned about calories as only the young, active and perfectly healthy can be.

Taz Walker painstakingly puts together a healthy salad lunch; his wife's admonitions for a balanced diet and limited calories still fresh in his mind. His waistline suggests that once his guilt at having taken this job subsists, his prefered diet is somewhat fattier and higher in starch. Perhaps lacking a wife to admonish him, young Sammy Gupta Singh goes right for the fatty and starchy; entering another line to obtain a hamburger, fries and onion rings.

Colonel Irmintraut appears too busy talking loudly and self-importantly about such important subjects as report style and daily rapport sessions to grab a plate and put together a proper lunch; but he makes up for it by gobbling down a prodigious quantity of hard-boiled eggs at the salad bar as the others load their plates, and then wolfing down beef jerky he has in his pockets while they sit at table and talk.

There is a little chit-chat, but at this point, the players inquired whether there was some area where the characters could discuss their real, actual mission freely. They get the information that Col. Irmintraut got fancy digs with an actual living room, being so senior and important and all, so they can all meet up in his apartment and have a proper team meeting.

This meets with approval and the team schedules a meeting at eight o'clock PM there, which gives everyone time to take a nap, shower, call home, play Xbox or whatever else they want to do for two or three hours. Most of the PCs actually use the time to catch up on the briefing materials on the mission they got, some of which is new to them. That, or learn how to use the Criminal Intelligence program that they will supposedly be teaching to Iraqi police. Also, Taz Walker and Jerome Book find that the clothes they packed do not suffice for blustery Iraqi winter weather, especially since Dhi Qar has been having exceptionally dire weather this year, and they visit the PX store and get some better outfits for cold and windy nights.

The scheduled meeting turns out to revolve around planning. Colonel Irmintraut is tremendously stoked and enthusiastic about the mission. He appears to consider it impossible that not everyone shares his enthusiasm for working out clear protocols for every conceivable situation; as well as going over the form of the daily time use sheets, progress reports and other such entertaining pursuits.

One useful protocol is worked out. Or at least they try. The characters decide to call one another by name, omiting rank, so as not to give out too much information to outsiders. In any case, their ranks are all from different organisations and do not mean the same in context as they might mean in the home service of each character. Lieutenant Book of the Detroit Police Service is far more senior than a US Army Lieutenant, for example. In any case, four out of six people are there as civilians and as neither military or police rank really has any bearing on their status in the team, it seems inappropriate to use it.

Taz Walker suggests that they all use first names, but this proves problematic, in that Colonel Irmintraut is not comfortable with having subordinates address him as 'Joe'. The next suggestion, of using surnames, is politely rejected by Sir Archibald Forsyth-Sykes, who prefers to be called 'Sir Archibald'. Taz' suggestion of 'Baldy' is met with a slightly icier and even more polite: 'Thank you, I really do prefer Sir Archibald'. The eventual compromise is that they use either surnames or first names, according to individual preference.

Col. Irmintraut also makes a point of ordering Sir Archibald to carry his SIG-Sauer P229R on his person at all times once they reach Nasiriyah. He does this despite Sir Archibald's protestations that the weapon poses more of a danger to him than anything else, as he does not even know how to work the safety. Taz Walker makes a mental note to go over trigger discipline and basic firearms safety with Sir Archibald as soon as possible.

Sammy Gupta Singh responds to a question on the subject that he has also been provided with a firearm and knows how to safely handle it, as he has had three whole days of handgun instruction with the FBI. While he doesn't mention it, the odds are that he also went through at least a week of high-threat contractor training from the DSS before being assigned to the Police Development Program. Of course, that mostly teaches him to listen to his close-protection people and how to avoid foreseeable risks.

Col. Irmintraut appears quite prepared to extend the meeting until bed time, which in any case should be quite early, given the oh-dark-hundred departure time of the convoy that they will be driving with to Nasiriyah.* The other PCs are determined, however, that if they do not all meet in a bar, they will at least get to know one another at a bar. Col. Irmintraut is convinced to join this expedition by Taz's ingenious argument that they ought to start early to become acquinted with the local culture and language.

Since the general trend appears to be toward a bar, Sammy Gupta Singh succumbs to peer pressure and goes along. Sir Archibald, however, is less suspectible to pressure from the other characters, who after all do not have knighthoods and are thus not his peers. He plans to examine the computer equipment they have been given, with special emphasis on the financial analysis software. Then he may grab an early night.

The rest of the characters go out to find a bar in the Green Zone where they can conceivably meet someone other than American FSO, Triple Canopy security and US military personnel. They have high hopes of meeting locals and hearing useful rumours from them. The kind and thoughtful GM does not disabuse them of this notion by pointing out that the vast majority of locals do not drink and of those who do, most would not risk doing so in a bar near the US Embassy. The only Iraqis they will meet there will be those who work as interpreters for the Americans.

*Technically, the convoy goes through Tallil Air Base while the PCs turn toward Nasiriyah and are on their own after that. Well, they share security arrangements for their home with an Italian-owned (but registered in Iraq) company named Al-Amin LLC. and the Dhi Qar command of the IPS is responsible for providing them with protection if they feel it is necessary.
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:34 PM   #48
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Default Re: Recap of the first session - You All Meet at a Bar (Sort Of)

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They have high hopes of meeting locals and hearing useful rumours from them. The kind and thoughtful GM does not disabuse them of this notion by pointing out that the vast majority of locals do not drink and of those who do, most would not risk doing so in a bar near the US Embassy. The only Iraqis they will meet there will be those who work as interpreters for the Americans.
Hum, they are a little na´ve, aren't they? The best place to get rumours in a bar in Bagdad is likely to find the hotel where the foreign journalists drink. Of course, they may not be the right rumours...
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:47 PM   #49
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Default Re: Recap of the first session - You All Meet at a Bar (Sort Of)

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Hum, they are a little na´ve, aren't they? The best place to get rumours in a bar in Bagdad is likely to find the hotel where the foreign journalists drink. Of course, they may not be the right rumours...
As it happens, as will be revealed in the forthcoming recap, the characters eventually did decide to sit down at a table with a bunch of journalists, as well as two of their Iraqi guides/drivers/interpreters.

Extracting the right rumours is a job for the very high social engineering skills possessed by the veteran investigators on the team.
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Old 09-19-2014, 07:16 PM   #50
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Default Session 1 recap: Crouching Eagle, Hidden Lion finally gets to a bar

Before the intrepid PDP team left the grounds of the US Embassy, Col. Irmintraut was able to delight them with the fact that he had chosen an official code name for the unofficial intelligence mission which they were to carry out while covered under the State Department's Police Development Program.

"In honour of our British, nay, our Commonwealth allies, I have chosen the code name Operation Crouching Eagle, Hidden Lion." It is a testament to the Acting skill of everyone that no one reacts in any way to this pronouncement. Col. Irmintraut proceeds to save all files connected to the mission under this moniker on his secure ToughBook and then reluctantly agrees to accompany the team to a bar. "Immersive language and culture training; for those who have not operated in Iraq before. Keep your eyes and ears open. Watch the locals. Practice mimicking their accent and mannerisms, it will help put them at ease."

The Baghdad Country Club, the bar inside the Green Zone, has closed down by this time. There is a bar inside the US Embassy, the Baghdaddy, but it kind of defeats the purpose to go there to experience Iraqi night-life. Visiting Triple Canopy HQ to drink at their bar, the Gem, kind of has the same flaw. Good place to go for socialising with Ugandans, Peruvians and Americans, not so much for Iraqis.

There isn't time to go outside the Green Zone, given the bureaucratic headaches that could be caused by trying to go through IPS check-points at night. So the reluctant consensus is to see if they are serving alcohol at the Al-Rashid hotel. Which, indeed, it turns out that they are doing.

The other guests are overwhelmingly Western. Contractors, embassy staff, even the odd fit and crew-cut person who look suspiciously like an US soldier defying General Order #1, but who may instead be a security contractor. The music sounds Turkish, however, and the staff looks Iraqi. So do a few of the interpreters who sit at tables with their Western employers.

After taking a drink together and exchanging a few inconsequential chatty sentences, our team of intrepid heroes is ready for adventure. They do not see any locals to start a conversation with, however, which really puts a damper on things. Taz Walker is the first to suggest talking to journalists and he picks a fellow wearing a photographer's vest, because he looks Australian.

As it turns out, tall and lanky Joshua Martin is a freelance photographer from New Zealand, but Taz doesn't hold it against him. He says he loves Kiwis, orders a round for the table, whiskey and beer chaser, and then loudly and cheerfully signals for the rest of the PCs, as well as Sammy Gupta Singh, to move their table over to the journalists.

The other journalists are blond and dumpy Candace Phillips from USA Today, CNN producer Jonathan Maxwell, the rakishly ruffian-like Polish freelancer Wladimir Wojcich and the dark-haired and attractive freelancer Evelyn Weiss. The two interpreters are named Yusuf and Naji, but they don't speak much. Yusuf is older and appears to be concentrating very intently on his drink, but the younger and more fashionably-dressed Naji seems to be following the conversation carefully and occasionally grins when someone makes a joke.

With boozy bonhomie, Taz gets the journalists started talking about the state of Iraq, future prospects and security. Somehow, one of the journalists asks where they are going and Taz can trot out the PDP story in a way that doesn't really give up anything except that they are going to Dhi Qar, which immediately triggers stories about the deteriorating situation in al-Muthanna and Dhi Qar.

From several things he says, as well as how he carries himself, Taz guesses that Wladimir Wojcich might be ex-military and know how to handle himself in a fight. He's not making it obvious, but he's got a way of scanning the room unobstrusively and maintaining good situational awareness that suggests not just training, but experience in some sort of dangerous job. Telling silence at the most ill-informed speculation about the security situation, as well as two cynical and intelligent comments he delivers about the Syrian civil war, also lead Taz to label him 'military veteran'.

The fact that he's probably carrying a pistol at the small of his back, under the waistband of his jeans, lends credence to him being some sort of globe-trotting tough guy, too. It's also highly unusual for a journalist. The accent of his English sounds sort of like he learned to speak it from a native French-speaker and Taz idly wonders if he might be a former French Foreign Legion legionaire working as a war journalist because normal life is boring.

Jon Maxwell and Candy Phillips are there to cover the final stages of the US military presence in Iraq. Evelyn Weiss also plans to be there for the last stages of that, but in the meantime, she's planning to head to Syria and check out the clashes between Assad's troops and the increasingly strong rebels that are happening around Homs. The feeling that the PCs get is that she's got a fairly underdeveloped sense of danger, especially as her name suggest that she's Jewish.

Yusuf works for Maxwell and the CNN, but Naji is Weiss' fixer, driver and interpreter. He'll be going with her to Syria and so will Josh Martin, who figures he's going to get some exciting shots of combat. Josh freely admits to having no prospect of regular employment in the 'real world', as he only feels alive when he's drunk, ____ing or risking his life.

The journalists parrot some of the briefing materials that the PCs got, about the deteriorating security situation in Dhi Qar, mostly with less detail and some of them wrong. They do give useful context in the fact that al-Muthanna province is also suffering and they note that they've heard rumours that some new insurgent or militia groups are around in those Middle Euphrates provinces. When (gently) pressed for details, though, they don't seem to have any, just that when the security situation gets that much worse so quickly, the natural guess is that it some new armed group behind it.

While going for another round of drinks, Taz manages to whisper to Akeem Nassir, in an atrocious attempt at Arabic, that he should try to flirt with Weiss, see if she'll tell him anything interesting. Mostly, Taz is probably trying to vicariously hit on the cute brunette, but maybe he also wants to see if this young Army lad can handle a social encounter when he's meant to be undercover as an Iraqi interpreter.

Fortunately, Nassir doesn't fumble when called upon to speak less than perfect English* and the fact that he looks about twenty-two seems to flatter Evelyn Weiss to no end when she realises that he's hitting on her, as she's apparently in her early thirties. Naji doesn't seem too thrilled, but whether he's upset at the implicit protocol breach of an interpreter hitting on a Western reporter or he carries a torch for her himself is hard to tell.**

*Not that anyone in Detroit really speaks that.
**If Taz, seasoned observer as he is, had to guess, he'd place money on Naji being head-over-heels with his boss.
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