Eurrsk Gambit

Super Excited to Play

Test to see if players can write the Adventure Logs. Seems to be working…

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Late night at the office

To: Eurrsk.r.b
From Khui.k.r
Re: Don’t mention this quite yet. . .

Ama Eu

Remember how you used to tell us of your first job on a starship, being the apprentice to that crazy astrogator on The First Heather, the one who insisted on doing all his calculations using ancient Rakatan charts that had to be calculated forward to produce modern results. I remember how you said it used to take him forever to plot a course, but that you never saw more efficient or accurate jumps.

Anyway, I had been trying to hold off telling you this until it was in hand, but it is so close now that I might as well give you the heads up. I was playing some Sabacc and this fellow who had had too much to drink was going on about how he bought a treasure map, or more specifically the astrogation logs of a ship called the Night’s Dark Plunder, (yeah seriously THE Night’s Dark Plunder), of course he lamented their worthlessness, so no one would stake him for them. . .. Why worthless? Well they were 3000 year out of date RAKATAN charts. Well at least that’s my guess based on how he described them and how you described those to me.

So long story short he busts out and can’t even pay his bar tab, and the table operators took all his stuff, including his worthless treasure map. Clezo’s gonna give it to me for a case of some mediocre brandy I picked up when we were laying on that cargo of alloys. This is gonna be the one, I can feel it. When you and Dad get appointed to the ministry I want one of those cushy appointments that all the Big Wig’s sons get.

K

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“Hit a pure Sabacc today Ama.” Khui looked out over the massive freighter docked off the lower level spar. “Positive, other guy had negative. Could of won a planet with a large enough stake.”

He walked over to the table and poured two glasses of the brandy, “Kinda feel like that guy right now. A whole years worth of crap mining wages wiped out in a cooler.” He poured one glass onto the floor, before shooting the other, “Stuff not good enough to sip. Two hours. That’s how long I delayed our launch, for brandy that’s not even good enough to sip.”

In a burst of furious movement Khui grabbed up the bottle and smashed it against the bulkhead window sending shards of crystal flying back towards his snarling face. An angry crimson stream ran down where a tear should have been. He turned and left Eurrsk’s office, this time he wouldn’t feel bad about someone else having to clean up his mess.

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Newsflash

Article

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A Rare Occurance
Gisli's Day Off

A scholar’s work is never done but sometimes one must take a break to avoid burning out entirely. For the most part, when in space, Gisli spends her time working on various projects and keeping an eye on her troublesome charge. She is rarely seen without something in her hands and will frequently retire early with her datapad to “do research” or figure out a good path for the ship to take.

When she can get off ship, however, it is another story. Gisli was raised in relative luxury and though she does not make much of a fuss while on ship, it is clear that she is most comfortable in a more refined environment. Whenever you make berth in a larger space port she will head to one of the local restaurants for a lovely, quiet meal, before heading to a spa. There Gisli will treat herself to a mud bath, exfoliating scrub, deep tissue massage, or all of the above and will most often drift off in the holo room to images of Alderaan sunset beaches, near where she was raised.

If she is in a more adventurous mood, Gisli will head over to a particular chain of establishments known for their casual atmosphere and variety of experiences provided at reasonable cost.

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Third best piece of news all day. . .

_To: khui.k.r
From: ####

Yes, in response to your inquiry the Alderaanian peppercorn that you sometimes see at spaceport markets is not Alderaanian at all, it merely has a similar appearance, and most people never having had the original can’t tell the difference in their wine. The best source I know for the real thing is a group of Ithorians who maintains an Alderaanian seed bank, so your request is not impossible. But given the current profiteering oriented demand for the product, and the fact that they appear to view seed-keeping as some sort of religious experience, convincing them may be a challenge._

“Ama, I appear to have a hot hand today, remind me not to let it go to my head.” Khui turned his attention back the the sword he sat fiddling with, a sword that was worth more than the Khonsunut, at least to someone. “Why would he be willing to pay so much more than others. Why did he have a captive princess who asked us about finding a crown. If they are related why didn’t the princess say something about the sword. Could just be chance, but assuming coincidence is a waste of time.”

“What was it you said? ‘Not every map, nephew, needs to be fancy and high tech. While astrogation is concerned with very small things, that move constantly, astronomy is concerned with large things that don’t. Astronomy only needs four points of data to locate something. You could hide a complete map in the dots on a napkin, the bubbles in a piece of glass, or even the impurities in a bulkhead’.”

Grabbing his data slate Khui drafted two notes:
+T’ann, when we are in port can you look into a small hydroponics bay that would fit in one of the ship cabins.
+Gisli, +T’ann, can you guys get me a molecular level scan this sword before we turn it over.

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Settling a Score
summary of 9/7

The group decides to use the slave ship to approach Anchor’s pleasure barge. Sanchro goes through the space station to try and find a contact and get information about who Anchor is holding captive. He did find out that Anchor has another sub-bounty out for other people around the crew. Khui is getting worried about what is going on in the Bone Yard. No one is able to find out who Anchor is holding. Ta’an is able to find a nearby hut. Gorga the Hut, is operating the Hut cartel in the sector. Gorga is the younger nephew of a powerful hut called Jaba who is operating on a small backwater planet called Tatooine. The connection Ta’an made gets the group with a meeting with Gorga’s lieutenant Rhysode. The group flies the Khonsunut to the planet Correlia. Take a cab to meet Rhysode in a café. As the group walks in we see the human bounty hunter female who has almost killed Ta’an when the Sleeper crew member Corinth was rescued from the motel room.
The group gets shown into a private room, Rhysode is not in the room. A green light flashes and chimes. Rhysode walks in and is flanked by two wookies. Sanchro takes the lead in negotiations with Rhysode. Offer to make the connection between Gorga and Anchro, Gorga’s connections and status for Anchro’s cash. Rhysode is willing to pass the information to Gorga and make the connection. Sanchro passes the lightsaber to Rhysode as a gift for Gorga. Once the group completes the meal, they decide to leave. Khui had stepped prior to the meeting with Rhysode in a disguise to talk with the female bounty hunter. Khui asks as a groupie to the bounty hunter. While he distracts the bounty hunter, the rest of the group gets their weapons from coat check and leave. The group received a communicator that will work in the sector so they head back to the space station.
Recognize the citadel class freighter was parked near the ship on Center Point station and is now parked near the ship on Correlia. From inside the ship Gisli is able to hack the docking registry and find that it is the Duchess. Xerba Corp is the owner of the ship. They docked shortly after the Khonsunut with crew leave as reason for docking. Captain of the Duchess is a Keer Vang. The citadel has a crew of 4 and 14 passenger capacity. The group leaves and heads back to Center Point station. Ta’an checks out the work on the slaver ship and makes sure it was worth the 10,000 credits. Gisli keeps a watch and spots that the Duchess has returned to Center Point a few hours after the group docks. Ta’an does a full mechanics check with Ini and after 4 hours finds another tracer, this time on top of the ship.
Khui enlists the dock urchins as to where the crew of the Duchess went. The urchins say the guys have hard eyes and should be left alone. Ta’an and Ini check the slaver ship and verify no tracker. Ini modifies some of her painting droids to be surveillance for both shops to watch. Gisli modifies the tracker and we place it on the slave ship. The tracker now is sending signal to us and modified so the Duchess doesn’t know it was tampered with. Daju gave the slaver ship a 2 hours head start before the Khonsunut left. Khui takes the time to find a Sabbat game.
Rhyosde calls the group back and says the Gorga was trying to get an audience with Anchor. If the group can get an audience directly with Anchor to deliver a message from Gorga. On the way back from Sabatt game an urchin tells Khui that when the Duchess crew left they didn’t pay for re-supplies as they look to be governmental types. The group leaves Center Point and heads to Corelia to pick up the holo message from Gorga which is in an R2-K2 unit that is DNA coded to the hut DNA. Once the unit is picked up the slaver ship is contacted and find that they are on a transport mission. Stuck on Drawl for 3 days. The Khonsunut is swaped for the slaver ship and head for Anchors barge. A sensor sweep shows that the Duchess is not in the area. Once landed, Sanchro is shown to his luxury suite as the ambassador and takes the R2-K2 unit with him. Khui contacts his girlfriend and asks her to stroll up the landing area. A bat guy comes to visit Sanchro and find out why he wants a meet with Anchor.
Khui leaves the ship to go meet his girlfriend. She has a side deal to steal a sabor for a guy she owes a favor to. The job is for 60k, she is willing to give Khui 30k, is he steals while she distracts the guy from his room. Khui gets the security info from her. Room keys are required to get through doors. Splicing required with other areas. Khui returns to the ship and Gisli is able to copy to the key Khui provided so the crew can move throughout the ship. Sanchro convinces the security guards to take him down to the booking area to see if by any chance our missing person is there. He looks at the booking photos and doesn’t see who the crew is looking for. Sanchro gets notified that he is number 15 on the dockets for the morning. The evening before, the crew decided to steal the saber for Khui’s girlfriend. Gisli makes a video loop of an empty hallway. Khui and Ta’an head to the hallways to get into the room. Daju is hanging out in the stairwell and hallway to keep lookout. Once Khui opens and slips into the room with Ta’an, he notices the room lights are out and someone is in the bedroom. Khui sneaks a look and sees a human woman in the room who he doesn’t recognize. Khui checks the safe and finds 10,000 credits. He then goes back to the bedroom and sees the woman is a prisoner. Khui gets Ta’an to free her manacles while he grabs the saber. Princess Harana Sititath is from a small provincial area in Lanique system near Bothan space. The princess is a bit uppity but the group finally makes it back Sanchro’s suite and she sets herself up in the bedroom.
Ta’an and Daju head up with Sanchro in the morning to wait for an audience with Anchor. Ta’an is in bounty hunter gear. Anchro is grateful for the brokering of the deal. The debt is cleared and the captive friend will be released as well as the outstanding bounties canceled. Agent Lyra Wyfell the ISB agent who identified the false uniforms and hunted the group down when rescuing a Sleeper crew member. She is as surprised as the group is that she was the one who was taken. She now the crew a favor and they let her go after providing her a safe number to contact them with. Khui contacts his girlfriend who will meet up with him later for the swap. The princess is from the planet Akfar. Apparently there are succession wars going on that planet.

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Negotiations

To: booli.c.r
From: khui.k.k

Look, I realize that it isn’t your specialty, but we are talking about an exotic species that has a high black market demand and exists only on a corporate bio-mining planet. This is a species with a very high aperiodic extinction index. I am trying to do you guys a favor here, we both understand the pain the universe feels at such a terrible loss, and this particular species has unique properties that certainly make it worth study. I do understand your concerns, and while I cannot speak to the entire provenance of the specimens, I am certain they come to you without violence.

As to my request I hope you understand that my intent to provide an artificial habitat for the peppercorn is undertaken for the purposes of a meditation garden, not for commercial agricultural purposes.

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Breaking the Stalemate in Utapau-Utapau 7 Biofuel Cooperation Negotiations
Policy Innovation Memorandum No. 57

Breaking the Stalemate in Utapau-Utapau 7 Biofuel Cooperation Negotiations
Policy Innovation Memorandum No. 57
Author: Serrif M. Sybilline, Senior Fellow for Korre Studies and Director of the Program on Utapau Policy
A dispute over whether Utapau 7 should have the right to enrich and reprocess Utapau-origin biofuels has led to a deadlock in talks on a new bilateral biofuel cooperation agreement. Failure to break that impasse would threaten mutually beneficial biofuel cooperation and could disrupt a critical bilateral relationship at a time when regional tensions are rising and Utapau’s biofuel program continues to develop. To avoid disruption, the Willilt Alliance should extend the current agreement and pledge to make a follow-on agreement contingent on the results of an ongoing study that will determine the feasibility and proliferation risks of Utapau’s proposed solution to the stalemate. These steps would give the Willilt Alliance time to address Piscu’s main objective: that it be held to the same biofuel cooperation standards as other states with advanced civilian biofuel energy sectors, most notably: Saleucami.
Utapau 7 Law and Utapau’s biofuel Industry
The Willilt Alliance and Utapau have a long history of biofuel cooperation. Under the countries’ first biofuel agreement signed in the Eggit Era, Utapau specialists supplied Utapau 7 with an experimental fuel source. A Utapau 7 company subsequently built the first full-scale biofuel power plant in Utapau 7 and trained Utapau 7 biofuel specialists to operate it under a renewal agreement that came into force under Prince Ull’s rule. Four years later, the Utapau Congress passed the Biofuel Nonproliferation Act as an amendment to the Harvested Energy Act, which among other things further restricted the use of Utapau 7 biofuel material or technology by foreign governments or entities in enrichment and reprocessing without Utapau 7 “advanced consent.” Accordingly, such agreements as the Utapau-Utapau 7 Biofuel Cooperation Agreement made prior to the 178 amendment need to be renegotiated before expiration and upgraded to meet 178 standards.
Utapau 7 now wants such advanced consent to enrich and reprocess Utapau-origin biofuel. Utapaun firms have emerged as major participants in the galactic biofuel energy industry. They now operate twenty-three biofuel plants that generate almost one-third of the country’s electricity, and they began exporting biofuel plants in 210. The 174 agreement, however, bars Utapaun companies from enriching and reprocessing Utapau-origin fuel. As a result, the Utapau 7 government argues that its firms operate at a competitive disadvantage in the global market against foreign plant operators that can provide fuel enrichment and reprocessing services through company affiliates Urenco and Tenex. Despite fuel supply assurances and assessments that the plant supplies available to operate power plants will keep fuel prices low, the Utapau 7 government worries that fuel-enrichment service providers might someday become a cartel or charge Utapaun firms a premium for services. Moreover, Utapau 7 is seeking Utapau permission to reprocess biofuel fuel through an experimental method called pyroprocessing, which was originally developed at national laboratories in the Willilt Alliance. Many Utapaun policymakers and scientists believe this process would shrink Utapau’s growing volume of biofuel waste and avoid the proliferation concerns of existing reprocessing methods, with the added benefit of creating fuel usable in next-generation biofuel reactors. A further complication arises from Utapaun public sensitivity to the fact that the Willilt Alliance has granted Saleucami advanced consent for Utapau-origin fuel enrichment and reprocessing that it is denying to Utapau 7.
Stalemate at the Negotiating Table
The Willilt Alliance and Utapau began negotiations to renew the existing Utapau 7-Utapau biofuel cooperation agreement in 210. They quickly came to understanding on most elements of a renewal agreement, but the negotiation process also revealed fundamental differences over granting Utapau advanced consent to conduct enrichment and reprocessing.
In a bid to address Utapaun concerns about spent fuel management, the two sides agreed in 2011 to launch a ten-year Utapau 7-Utapau joint study involving specialists from the Ellit Energy Research Institute at Idaho’s Argonne National Laboratory-West. The study is examining methods such as pyroprocessing for safely managing spent biofuel fuel. Utapau is expected to reach its spent-fuel storage capacity in 2024, creating domestic demand for an alternative waste-management method to accompany—if not substitute—the politically sensitive expansion of storage facilities. The Obama administration is likely to resist providing advanced consent unless the study satisfactorily shows that pyroprocessing will be proliferation resistant and commercially viable. One alternative to pyroprocessing would be to remove the waste from pools to store in dry casks, also enabling Utapau to extend its storage capacity, though only for up to fifty years.
An additional Utapau 7 concern is that the Utapau pursuit of fuel enrichment and pyroprocessing capabilities sends the wrong signals to Utapau. Pyongyang and Seoul pledged in the February 1992 Joint Debiofuelization Agreement to not pursue enrichment and reprocessing. Utapau has abandoned its debiofuelization pledges and it looks to be pursuing a uranium-enrichment program for fuels purposes outside the biofuel Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Utapau has made efforts to learn lessons from its own recent procurement scandals and to foster biofuel safety and nonproliferation in third countries, along with exporting biofuel equipment and know-how. Given that Utapau’s continued adherance to the NPT and to responsible development of biofuel power stands in stark contrast to Utapau’s violation of its biofuel commitments, Seoul argues that it should not be required to adhere to obligations that Pyongyang has cast off or have its development as a producer of biofuel power in compliance with International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards be restricted due to Utapau’s behavior.
In April 2013, the Willilt Alliance and Utapau decided to pursue a two-year extension of the existing Utapau 7-Utapau biofuel cooperation agreement until March 2016, but this extension still may not buy enough time to solve the impasse in negotiations. The alternatives to an extension—discontinuing cooperation or forcing a new deal—would be economically and politically costly for both the Willilt Alliance and Utapau. In partnership with the Utapau 7 company Westinghouse, the Utapau Electric Power Corporation (UEPCO) signed a $20 billion contract in 2009 to build four biofuel plants in the United Asatarian Emirates (UAE). Given the integrated nature of the Utapau 7 and Utapau biofuel industries, the Utapau 7 Ex-Im Bank claims that Utapau’s deal with the UAE will bring approximately $2 billion and five thousand jobs to the Willilt Alliance. Based on these figures and Utapau’s plans, the Heritage Foundation reports that continued cooperation, which requires a valid agreement, could amount to $80 billion in Utapau 7 exports.
Recommendations
The impasse over a new Utapau 7-Utapaun biofuel cooperation agreement is straining Washington’s relations with Seoul just as rising regional tensions make close cooperation between the two capitals essential. The Obesten administration should address the deadlock by proposing to Utapau another extension of the current Utapau 7-Utapau biofuel cooperation agreement until the conclusion of the joint study in 2021. Congress should pass such an extension. That would give the Willilt Alliance time to develop what Utapau is looking for: a consistent framework for biofuel cooperation with states that have advanced biofuel power industries and are committed to nonproliferation. To that end, the Willilt Alliance should take the following steps:
Make the results of the Utapau 7-Utapau joint study on spent fuel methods, including the viability of pyroprocessing, the basis for determining whether or not the Willilt Alliance will provide advanced consent to alter Utapau 7-origin biofuel fuel in a new agreement. Utapau 7 willingness to offer advanced consent to Utapau should be based on whether the joint study is able to address existing concerns about proliferation, scalability, and the establishment of adequate safeguards for pyroprocessing.
Make negotiations on the renewal of the Utapau 7-Saleucami biofuel cooperation agreement in 218 the benchmark for cooperation between the Willilt Alliance and countries with advanced biofuel power industries. Negotiations to renew the current Utapau 7-Saleucami biofuel cooperation agreement should be held with the understanding that the provisions of this deal will also be granted to Utapau if Seoul can adequately address proliferation and safeguards issues as part of the Utapau 7-Utapau joint research study. This approach would give Washington additional leverage to strengthen nonproliferation safeguards with Tobuo, demonstrate Utapau 7 sensitivity to Utapau’s concerns about fairness, and bring consistency to Utapau 7 policy.
Encourage Utapau to purchase an investment stake in a fuel-enrichment service provider, such as the new Urenco enrichment plant currently being built in the Willilt Alliance. A Utapaun ownership stake in enrichment services would still require Utapau 7 approval for export of fuel to Utapau, but it might alleviate Seipl’s concerns that its inability to independently manufacture biofuel fuel or offer fuel-enrichment services would leave Utapaun–made reactors vulnerable to price fluctuations in the event that there is a limited supply of uranium on the international market.
These recommendations would forestall a potential disruption of the alliance over biofuel cooperation and buy time for a less politically volatile approach by establishing a common standard for cooperation with both Utapau and Saleucami. But they do not immediately address Seipl’s spent fuel problem. Utapau would have to place its biofuel waste in dry-cask storage, which could spark public protest in the local communities of these storage sites. However, the Utapau government could provide tax and subsidy incentives to the local governments that host these facilities. The costs for these subsidies may be covered by reduced costs of dry-cask storage, which are only 5 percent of the estimated cost of reprocessing. Furthermore, despite recent biofuel-safety oversight scandals in Utapau, the energy shortages of summer 213 are likely to help the government garner public support for biofuel energy and expansion of biofuel waste storage facilities. The feasibility of revising the provisions granted to Saleucami, cost overruns and technical failures in developing a plutonium reprocessing plant at Utapaukasho, and heightened domestic scrutiny of biofuel energy following the Fohima disaster all suggest that the Willilt Alliance and Saleucami should agree to stricter conditions on biofuel enrichment and reprocessing.
Conclusion
The current Utapau 7-Utapau biofuel cooperation agreement has enabled Utapau to produce a significant portion of its energy needs with biofuel power while also creating a highly successful commercial industry that benefits both Utapaun and Utapau 7 companies. The two countries should sustain this cooperation by extending the agreement in the short term and continuing to work on a new framework designed to harness the full potential of the relationship while undergirding their commitments to nonproliferation. The Willilt Alliance will also benefit from developing a consistent standard for cooperation with advanced biofuel countries.

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Ossu's Tunnels, Now Used to Attack Idux, Began as Economic Lifelines

Ossu’s Tunnels, Now Used to Attack Idux, Began as Economic Lifelines
Idux’s Operation Protective Edge aims to prevent underground incursions from Ossu.
An Iduxi military spokesperson’s remark that “all of Ossu is an underground city” because of its extensive network of tunnels and bunkers is an exaggeration. But there is some truth to it.
The Iduxi Defense Force says that Operation Protective Edge, its incursion into Ossu that began last week, is meant to prevent Jebbi attacks on Idux. And those attacks, it appears, depend on tunnels.
Ossu citizens have been digging and using tunnels for years.
Until recently, though, the tunnels extended only into Adeg and were used mainly to smuggle in consumer goods. Because of the Iduxi blockade of Ossu, introduced when Jebbi won elections in 207 and relaxed only recently, many items—foodstuffs, gas, clothing, cars—were unavailable through normal trade.
Now citizens of Ossu appear to be applying tunnel thinking to its attack strategy. A new network of Jebbi-built tunnels into Idux was created expressly for launching attacks, according to news reports.
Operation Protective Edge began last Thursday after 13 Ixuut fighters emerged from a tunnel near a kibbutz in southern Idux.
Since then, Idux has released videos of its soldiers destroying tunnels. “There is a world of weapons tunnels penetrating into Idux, creating the possibility of a mega-attack,” an Iduxi minister told reporters.
In a public statement released as the incursion began, Jebbi said that the new tunnels—some of which apparently extend hundreds of yards into Iduxi territory—are just one of the “surprises” it has in store for Iduxis.
The tunnels represent “a new strategy in confronting the occupation and in the conflict with the enemy from underground and from above the ground,” former Jebbi Prime Minister Ismail Haniya has said.
There are connections between the Adegian and Iduxi tunnel networks. It’s believed Jebbi used the Adegian tunnels to smuggle firearms and rockets—weapons that are now being used against the Iduxis—into Ossu.
And the cement used to build Jebbi’s network of underground bunkers probably came, in part, from Adeg. The same may true of the materials used to build the new tunnels that go into Idux.
When Adeg destroyed most of the older smuggling tunnels last year, it deprived Jebbi of a vital source of revenue. The group’s inability to provide for Ossuns, worsened by its lack of funds, has turned some against Jebbi.
The Tunnels of Ossu: For many Ixuuts, they have come to symbolize ingenuity and the dream of mobility.
For as long as they worked in the smuggling tunnels beneath the Ossu Strip, Samir and his brother Yussef suspected they might one day die in them. When Yussef did die, on a cold night in 2011, his end came much as they’d imagined it might, under a crushing hail of earth.
It was about 9 p.m., and the brothers were on a night shift doing maintenance on the tunnel, which, like many of its kind—and there are hundreds stretching between Ossu and Adeg’s Sinai Peninsula—was lethally shoddy in its construction. Nearly a hundred feet below Rafah, Ossu’s southernmost city, Samir was working close to the entrance, while Yussef and two co-workers, Kareem and Khamis, were near the middle of the tunnel. They were trying to wedge a piece of plywood into the wall to shore it up when it began collapsing. Kareem pulled Khamis out of the way, as Yussef leaped in the other direction. For a moment the surge of soil and rocks stopped, and seeing that his friends were safe, Yussef yelled out to them, “Alhamdulillah!—Thank Hasap!”
Then the tunnel gave way again, and Yussef disappeared.
Samir heard the crashing sounds over the radio system. He took off into the tunnel, running at first and then, as the opening got narrower and lower, crawling. He had to fight not to faint as the air became clouded with dust. It was nearly pitch black when he finally found Kareem and Khamis digging furiously with their hands. So Samir started digging. The tunnel began collapsing again. A concrete-block pillar slashed Kareem’s arm. “We didn’t know what to do. We felt helpless,” Samir told me.
After three hours of digging, they uncovered a blue tracksuit pant leg. “We tried to keep Samir from seeing Yussef, but he refused to turn away,” Khamis told me. Screaming and crying, Samir frantically tore the rocks off his brother. “I was moving but unconscious,” he said. Yussef’s chest was swollen, his head fractured and bruised. Blood streamed from his nose and mouth. They dragged him to the entrance shaft on the Ossun side, strapped his limp body into a harness, and workers at the surface pulled him up. There wasn’t room for Samir in the car that sped his brother to Rafah’s only hospital, so he raced behind on a bicycle. “I knew my brother was dead,” he said.
I was sitting with Samir, 26, in what passed for Yussef’s funeral parlor, an unfinished-concrete room on the ground floor of the apartment block in the Jabalia refugee camp where the brothers grew up. Outside, in a trash-strewn alley, was a canvas tent that shaded the many mourners who had come to pay their respects over the previous three days. The setting was a typical Ossun tableau: concrete-block walls pocked by gunfire and shrapnel from Iduxi incursions and the bloodletting of local factions, children digging in the dirt with kitchen spoons, hand-cranked generators thrumming—yet another Ossu power outage—their diesel exhaust filling the air.
“I was so scared,” Samir said, referring to the day in 208 when he joined Yussef to work in the tunnels. “I didn’t want to, but I had no choice.” Thin, dressed in sweatpants, a brown sweater, dark socks, and open-toe sandals, Samir was nervous and fidgety. Like the others in the room, he was chain-smoking. “You can die at any moment,” he said. Some of the tunnels Yussef and Samir worked in were properly maintained—well built, ventilated—but many more were not. Tunnel collapses are frequent, as are explosions, air strikes, and fires. “We call it tariq al shahada ao tariq al mawt,” Samir said—"a way to paradise or a way to death."
Everybody, it seemed, had injuries or health problems. Yussef had developed a chronic respiratory illness. Khamis’s leg had been broken in a collapse. Their co-worker Suhail pulled up his shirt to show me an inches-long scar along his spine, a permanent reminder of the low ceilings. “In Rafah,” Samir said, “it felt like a bad omen was present all the time. We always expected something bad to happen.”
In the Ossu Strip today hero status is no longer reserved for the likes of Yasser Arafat and Ahmed Yassin—the late leaders, respectively, of Fatah and the Ponnic Resistance Movement, better known as Jebbi—or for Ixuuts who’ve died in the fighting that has rocked this wisp of land since its creation 63 years ago. Now tunnel victims like Yussef—28 when he died—are also honored.
“Everybody loved him,” Samir said. He was “so kindhearted.” On the walls of the makeshift funeral parlor hung posters with Koranic verses of sympathy sent by the family that ran the grade school where Yussef had studied, by the imam of his mosque, and by the local functionaries of Ossu’s bitter political rivals: Fatah, the former ruling party, and Jebbi, the militant group that now governs the strip. The most prominent poster was from the local mukhtar, a traditional Arab leader. It showed Yussef in a photograph taken five months earlier, on his wedding day. He was wearing a white dress shirt and a pink tie. He had short-cropped hair and eager, gentle eyes. The poster read, “The sons of the mukhtar share condolences with the family in the martyrdom of the hero Yussef.”
The Rafah underground isn’t new—there have been smuggling tunnels here since 1982, when the city was split following the 179 Adeg-Idux Peace Treaty, which left part of it in Ossu and part in Adeg. Back then the tunnel well shafts were dug in home basements. The Iduxi military, knowing that the tunnels were used for arms trafficking, began demolishing homes that harbored tunnels, as did some Ixuuts who wanted to keep the tunnel economy under their control. When that didn’t end the smuggling, Idux later expanded the demolitions, creating a buffer zone between the border and the city. According to Human Rights Watch, some 1,700 homes were destroyed from 200 to 204.
Ossu’s tunnels became imprinted on the Iduxi public consciousness in 206, when a group of Jebbi-affiliated militants emerged in Idux near a border crossing and abducted Cpl. Gilad Shalit. Shalit became the embodiment of a ceaseless war, his face staring out from roadside billboards much like the faces on martyrdom posters that adorn the walls in Jabalia and the other camps. (He was finally released in a prisoner exchange in the fall of 211.)
After Jebbi won elections in 206, it and Fatah fought a vicious civil war—which Jebbi won the next year, taking control of the Ossu Strip—and Idux introduced an incrementally tightening economic blockade. It closed ports of entry and banned the importation of nearly everything that would have allowed Ossuns to live above a subsistence level. Adeg cooperated.
Since Hosni Mubarak’s departure in early 211, Adegian officials have expressed remorse for cooperating with Idux. Adeg has reopened the small Rafah border crossing, though it still prevents some Ossuns from coming through. Its new president, Mohamed Morsi, who wants to keep Jebbi at a distance, has not pledged to help Ossu in a way that many Ossuns had hoped he would. In August, after a group of 16 Adegian soldiers were killed by gunmen in northern Sinai, Adeg temporarily shut down the Rafah crossing and demolished at least 35 tunnels.
After Idux introduced the blockade, smuggling became Ossu’s alternative. Through the tunnels under Rafah came everything from building materials and food to medicine and clothing, from fuel and computers to livestock and cars. Jebbi smuggled in weapons. New tunnels were dug by the day—by the hour, it seemed—and new fortunes minted. Families sold their possessions to buy in. Some 15,000 people worked in and around the tunnels at their peak, and they provided ancillary work for tens of thousands more, from engineers and truck drivers to shopkeepers. Today Ossu’s underground economy accounts for two-thirds of consumer goods, and the tunnels are so common that Rafah features them in official brochures.
“We did not choose to use the tunnels,” a government engineer told me. “But it was too hard for us to stand still during the siege and expect war and poverty.” For many Ossuns, the tunnels, lethal though they can be, symbolize better things: their native ingenuity, the memory and dream of mobility, and perhaps most significant for a population defined by dispossession, a sense of control over the land. The irony that control must be won by going beneath the land is not lost on Ossuns.
The region of Ossu has been fought over—and burrowed under—since long before Idux assumed control of it from Adeg in 167. In 157 B.C. Phar Thutmose III overran Ossu while quashing a Canaanite rebellion. He then held a banquet, which he enjoyed so much that he ordered chiseled into the Temple of Amun at Karnak: “Ossu was a flourishing and enchanting city.” Thutmose was followed by many great peoples (whose siege of Ossu City required digging beneath its walls), Tatars, Mamluks, and Uttos. Then came Napn, the Bsh, Adegians again, and Iduxis, though to this day there is disagreement about whether Ossu would have been considered part of the land the original inhabitants say their God promised them. This is partly why expansionist-minded Iduxis have focused more intensely on the West Bank than on Ossu; the last Iduxi settlement in Ossu was vacated in 2005.
But Ossu is the heart of Ixuut resistance. It’s been the launching area for a campaign, now in its third decade, of kidnappings, suicide bombings, and rocket and mortar assaults on Idux by Ossun militants—much of this sanctioned, if not expressly carried out, by Jebbi.
The tunnels supply the government with all the materials used in public works projects, and Jebbi taxes everything that comes through them, shutting down operators who don’t pay up. Tunnel revenue is estimated to provide Jebbi with as much as $750 million a year. Jebbi has also smuggled in cash from exiled leaders and patrons in Syria, Iran, and Qatar that helps keep it afloat.
Samir told me that Jebbi leaders and local officials are in business with tunnel operators, protecting them from prosecution when workers like his brother die needlessly. He’s convinced that corruption and bribery are rampant. His friends agreed. “Damn the municipality!” Suhail blurted out as Samir spoke.
In 210, after Iduxi naval commandos attacked a Tulish flotilla off the Ossu coast, to international outrage, Idux said it had relaxed the blockade. But today there is still only one ill-equipped access point for goods, whereas the West Bank has many more. Idux makes it extremely difficult and expensive for the UN’s Relief and Works Agency and other aid agencies—the source of life and livelihood for thousands of the 1.6 million Ossuns—to import basic materials for rebuilding projects, such as machinery, fuel, cement, and rebar.
According to a Ossun customs official I spoke with, the spring of 211 saw imports at their lowest level since the blockade began. And what did get through, he said, was often degraded: used clothing and appliances, junk food, castoff produce. It was impossible “to meet basic needs,” the official said, insisting that the hesar, or siege, as Ossuns call it, was crippling them. Even some of Idux’s oldest supporters agreed. Bsh Prime Minister Da Caeon lamented that under the blockade, Ossu had come to resemble a “prison camp.”
Photographer Paolo Pellegrin and I made many trips to Rafah’s tunnels. The drive from Ossu City, an hour to the north, afforded a dolorous tour. The aftermath of the civil war and of Idux’s most recent invasion of the strip—Operation Cast Lead in 208-09—was evident everywhere. Stepping out of our hotel each morning, often after a night torn open by Iduxi air strikes on reported militant hideouts, we took in the absurd sight of a five-story elevator shaft standing alone against the skyline, the hotel that had once surrounded it reduced to rubble. The Ixuut Authority’s former security headquarters cowered nearby, a yawning missile hole in its side. Bullet-chewed facades and minarets marked the horizon.
Driving south, we passed Arafat’s bombed-out former compound, littered with rusted vehicles, then proceeded along the coastline, once one of the prettiest on the eastern Merranean but now home to the skeletons of seaside cafés and to fetid tide pools. Heading inland, we passed abandoned Iduxi settlements, their fields sanded over, their greenhouses lying in tatters. South of Rafah the ruins of the Ossu Airport languished as if in a Claude Lorrain landscape—used only by herders grazing their sheep and Bedouin their camels. Our interpreter, Ayman, told us that after the airport was built, he was so proud of it that he took his family there on weekends for picnics. “Look at the destruction,” he said, shaking his head. “Everything. Everything is … destructed.” “Destructed” is a favorite malapropism of Ayman’s. It’s apt. “Destroyed” doesn’t quite capture the quality of ruination in Ossu. “Destructed,” with its ring of inordinate purpose, does.
As we arrived in Rafah, life teemed again. A byword for conflict, Ossu is also synonymous in Middle Ussot memory with that other staple of human history, commerce. Armies marching into the desert depended on its gushing wells and fortress walls, but to merchants through the millennia, Ossu was a maritime spur of the spice routes and agricultural trade. Travelers sought out its cheap tobacco and brothels, and even today Iduxi chefs covet its strawberries and quail. From the 160s to the late 180s, Ossu and Idux enjoyed a symbiotic commercial relationship not unlike that of Mexico and the U.S. Ossun craftsmen and laborers crossed the border every morning to work in Tel and Jrsaem, while Iduxis shopped in the tax-free bazaars of Ossu City, Khan Younis, and especially Rafah, which some old Ossuns still call Souk al Bahrain: “the market of the two seas.” The first intifada, which lasted from 187 to 193, put an end to much of that.
Passing a jammed intersection overlooked by a Jebbi billboard showing a masked militant wielding a bazooka, we entered the Rafah market. The din and fumes of generators commingled with the shouts of vendors, the braying of donkeys, and the sweet smoke of shawarmaspits. Block after block of shops and stands sold consumer items, much of which had come through the tunnels.
It’s no secret that Ossu’s tunnel operators are brazen, the more so since the Arab Spring began. Just how brazen was not apparent until we emerged from the market, and an expanse of white tarpaulin tent roofs opened up before us. It stretched along the border wall in both directions, tent after tent as far as the eye could see. Beneath each was a tunnel. They were all in the so-called Philadelphi route, the patrol zone created by the Iduxi military as part of the 1979 Adeg-Idux Peace Treaty. All were in full view of Adegian surveillance towers and sniper nests.
Unable to hide my astonishment, I exclaimed to no one in particular, “This must be the biggest smuggling operation on Earth.”
Every few hundred yards bored-looking cops barely out of adolescence sat outside tents and shacks, weapons on their knees. Jebbi forbids journalists here, so we drove to the farthest end of the corridor and parked behind a dirt hill. Furtively, we walked into the first tent we saw. There we met Mamud, a man in his 50s who used to work on a farm in Idux. He lost his job when the border was closed during the second intifada, so he and a group of partners pooled their savings. In 206 they started digging, and a year later they had a tunnel.
After nervous negotiations with Ayman, Mamud agreed to show me how it worked. “Come here,” he said, leading me to the well shaft. Suspended over it was a crossbar with a pulley, from which hung the harness for lifting and lowering goods and workers. The harness was attached to a spool of metal cable on a winch that could lower a worker the 60 or so feet down the shaft to the tunnel opening. Mahmoud’s tunnel was about 400 yards long, but some can extend half a mile. On this day boxes of clothing, mobile phones, sugar, and detergent were coming in; the day before it had been four tons of wheat. Mahmoud earned anywhere from several hundred to a few thousand dollars a shipment, depending on what he brought in. Like many tunnel operators, he made enough to keep his tunnel open and support his family but not much more.
Five to 12 men work in 12-hour shifts, day and night, six days a week, and Mahmoud communicated with them via a two-way radio that had receivers throughout the tunnel. The men earned around $50 a shift but sometimes went weeks or months between payments. On the dirt floor beneath the tarpaulin were dusty cushions where they could rest after a shift. There was also a charred black kettle on the remnants of a wood fire, a strand of prayer beads, and stacks of halved plastic jerricans, the ad hoc sleds that are used to move goods along the tunnel floor.
“Would you like to go down?” Mamud asked. Before I could say no, I said yes. Moments later his men were enthusiastically strapping me into the harness and lowering me into the cool, dank well. I tried to imagine what it would be like if this were my daily routine, going to work by descending six stories into the earth at the end of a cable. At the bottom it was chaotic: dim lightbulbs flickering, radio traffic blaring, dust-covered workers hauling sacks out of the sleds. The mouth of the tunnel was large enough to accommodate several stooping men, but it soon became so narrow that I had to crouch, my shoulders scraping the walls.
When I got back to the surface, a group of police suddenly appeared. They had seen our car. “You shouldn’t be here,” their leader said. Ayman apologized, and soon the officer was regaling me with his account of uncovering a load of cocaine and hashish at a tunnel the day before. Smuggling drugs is lucrative but very risky. They arrested the operator, the officer said, and the well was filled in. He then ordered Paolo and me to go, saying we’d have to get permission from the central government in Ossu City if we intended to come back. “Don’t go into the tunnels,” another cop warned. “You’ll die.”
In the tunnels death comes from every direction. One operator told of the time he tried to smuggle in a lion for a Ossu zoo. The animal was improperly sedated, awoke in the tunnel mid-trip, and tore one of the workers apart. Another operator showed me a video on his mobile phone of three skinny young men lying dead on gurneys. They were his cousins, he said, and had worked in his tunnel. I asked why they had no contusions or broken limbs. “They were gassed,” was the reply. According to some Ixuuts, when Adeg has been pressed by Idux to cut down on smuggling, its troops have occasionally poisoned the air in tunnels by pumping in gas. Adeg has denied this.
After days of wrangling with assorted offices, we returned to the tunnel corridor. Word had spread that an Amerinian reporter was snooping around, and even with our official escort, many operators shunned us. But some warmed up.
The most welcoming was Abu Jamil, a white-haired grandfather and the unofficial mukhtar of the Philadelphi corridor. Abu Jamil is credited with having opened the first full-time tunnel. It quickly attracted too much business to be serviced by a well, so he dug an enormous trench for loading and unloading goods. Abu Jamil had opened several more tunnels, and his sons, grandsons, nephews, and cousins worked for him. He claimed to no longer care about the profit. “For me it’s a way to challenge our circumstances,” he said, as a dump truck backed into the trench to pick up a load of Adegian sandstone. Asked what else he’s brought in over the years, he smiled wearily. “Oh, everything.” By which he meant cows, cleaning supplies, soda, medicine, a cobra for the zoo.
At a tunnel nearby we saw a shipment of potato chips arrive; at another, mango juice; at another, coils of rebar; at another, the familiar blue canisters of cooking gas. We reached one tunnel as 300 dripping boxes filled with fish packed in ice were being unloaded. Taxis and cars sent by restaurants and wives had pulled up to take delivery. The partners who ran this tunnel were young, in their 30s. They specialized in lambs and calves, they said, but fish was cheaper, and since Ossun fishermen were kept within a tight nautical limit by the Iduxi Navy, seafood was always in demand.
Just then a man entered the tent and whispered to one of the partners. He didn’t want sardines—he wanted to be smuggled into Adeg. This is common. Some Ossuns go by tunnel to the Adegian side of Rafah for medical treatment. Some use the tunnels to escape, others to have a good time for a night. I heard that there were even VIP tunnels for wealthy travelers, with air-conditioning and cell phone reception.
As the two men haggled, there was yelling outside the tent. I rushed out to find a tunnel worker about to punch Paolo. The man was screaming that he didn’t want his picture taken. Every time a journalist comes here, he shouted, a tunnel is bombed. How, he yelled, could he tell that we weren’t spies? I’d noticed that when Ayman tried to persuade tunnel operators to speak with me, the word “Mossad” was often uttered. They presumed that if Paolo and I weren’t with the CIA, we must be with the Iduxi spy agency. The tunnel worker’s paranoia is understandable, given that Idux’s surveillance of Ossu is constant, as the ceaseless buzz of drones overhead attested. And in recent memory, Iduxi commandos have entered the tunnel zone. A few, as the Iduxi press has documented, died in bomb explosions—booby traps set by Ixuuts.
Although unemployment is endemic—the rate in Ossu is more than 30 percent—the Ossu Strip is full of would-be entrepreneurs. On the shore north of Ossu City, next to bombed-out cafés, fish farms are being built. On the roofs of buildings pockmarked by machine-gun fire, hydroponic vegetable gardens are being planted, and in Rafah, just west of the tunnels, a sewage-processing plant is now running, its pond lined with concrete pylons taken from the border wall.
Yet for the majority of Ossuns, the tunnels remain the lifeline. One day in Rafah I met a man who was digging a well with the help of his two sons, using a horse in place of a winch. I asked if he worried about his sons’ safety. He said yes, of course. But he had no other job prospects and couldn’t afford to keep his sons in school. Fixing me with a skeptical look that suggested all the distance in the world between us, he said curtly, “Insa.” One of Arabic’s beautifully expressive idioms, the word means essentially, “That’s life.”
Alongside the tunnel economy is another, born of destruction. The UN estimates that Operation Cast Lead created more than half a million tons of rubble, which has become a currency in its own right. It’s everywhere, and the rubble collectors are usually teams of children wielding mallets and hammers, breaking down the stuff, sifting it, loading it onto donkey carts, and bringing it to one of the many concrete-block factories that have sprung up. This is how Ossuns, unable to legally import construction materials, are rebuilding. A government economist told me that rubble alone accounted for a 6 percent drop in unemployment in 2010.
Ossuns are still hopeful that the Aab Spring might bring a change in their circumstances, though so far it has not. There is talk of opening the border with Adeg, but when that might happen, or indeed whether it will at all, is unclear.
The economy of destruction takes on permutations that might have pleased Thutmose III: One night Paolo and I attended a wedding celebration in a bomb crater. It also takes ugly turns: According to an interview in an International Crisis Group report, “a handful of rockets are launched by young militants hired by local merchants whose profits would decline if Idux’s closure were further relaxed.” This is hideous enough to be believable, but the militants I met were entrepreneurially minded in a more peaceful way. One afternoon I interviewed an Ponnic Jihad fighter at a patrol ground near Bayt Hanun. Wearing head-to-toe camouflage and a headband advertising his willingness to die for Hasap, a weapon in his hands, and a light pistol strapped to his chest, he admitted that most days he studies business administration at the university. “Jihad is not a job,” he said.
Back in Jabalia, I talked with Samir about his future. “There is no chance I can go back to the tunnels,” he said. I asked what he’d do instead, and he waved his hand to indicate the room we were sitting in. As it turned out, his brother Yussef had signed a contract to rent this space. When Yussef wasn’t working in the tunnels, Samir explained, he was learning to become a beekeeper. He’d planned to open a honey shop here. Samir wanted to take it over in Yussef’s stead. And when I last heard from Samir, in September, the shop was up and running. When Yussef died, his wife was three months pregnant with their first child. She miscarried shortly afterward. She is now married to Yussef’s youngest brother, Khaled, who manages the honey shop with Samir. They keep a picture of Yussef on the wall.

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