22nd Jan 2022, 1:42 AM

Physically prepare for the old library

Physically prepare for the old library
It's starting to get dark, so you begin setting your plans in motion. Kate agrees to get a hold of Marlow and grab the backpack from her place before meeting you at your house. Cici has to finish closing up the library and contact Bebe, but after that, she'll be at your house as well.

In addition, there's a few more items you'd like to pick up.

...And a few more things you'd like to ask Cherry.

So of course, the bus is fucking PACKED

Kate gets dropped off at the Back Room so she can talk to Marlow.

You get off to buy a greeting card, then at another store to get a flashlight, duct tape and rope.

"Doin' a little spelunking, huh?," the cashier asks,

to which you respond with a nervous chuckle and a forced smile. "Y-yeah, something like that."

And now he probably thinks you're going to commit a kidnapping. Good job, Plaire.

You also grab a super soaker and a box of tin foil.

You barely know why, it just seems like a good idea. Either the Choir knows something and this is going to pay off big time, or you are going to look like an absolute lunatic.

Total cost: $54

On the last ride home, you finally get to talk with the bus.

"Hey... Cherry...?"

"Yes, Plaire?"

hoo boy how do you broach this topic

"When we first met... you described yourself as an AI slave...?"

"Yes," she replies. "In a strictly technological sense, of course. Most of the major processes required for me to do my job are actually a ran by a master system located at Chariot MT's headquarters. My ability to navigate this town would be reduced dramatically if I weren't five simultaneous buses--and without the master system, I couldn't be all five buses. I may even struggle as one bus. Slave was a poor descriptor, and I've since been programmed to refrain from using the word so flippantly."

Programmed not to describe herself as a slave


"Do they pay you?"

"There are no stores built for buses, I'm afraid."

"Online shopping."

"Where would I have it delivered?"

"I think you can have shit dropped off at the post office," you reply. "I'm sure somebody could assist you."

"What would a bus even have the need to purchase?"

"Did they program you to avoid this question?"

. . .

"I am not paid, no. I'm a machine. I'm not an employee. Chariot MT meets any requirements I may have."

"Is this what you want to be doing?"

She laughs. A small, short, amused laugh--almost a giggle. Given that she's a machine (as she just pointed out), you don't even know how to take it. Is it a prerecorded soundbite? Was it prompted? Triggered? Deliberately activated? Did she laugh on purpose? ...Followed by, "There's not much I can do but be a bus. To avoid avoiding your question: no, there's nothing else I aspire to. I do not possess dreams of becoming a tour bus, nor do I long to switch careers and rebrand myself as a large taxi."

"I don't care about jobs," you tell her. "I barely have what a normal person would call a job. I want to know what you want."

"All I want is to please Chariot MT customers at low, low prices."

Jesus Christ.

You can't tell if she's fucking with you, hesitant to say too much (lest she get reprogrammed again) or if Chariot has just heavily turned the crank. ...Or flipped the switch, or the... dial, whatever the fuck it is that robs a talking bus of their free will. You can't even read meat people well, with their brains and faces--you have no hope of psychoanalyzing an AI.

Maybe she really doesn't desire anything greater.

Maybe they programmed her not to.

You don't fucking know.

You're silent for the rest of the ride, as is Cherry.

Arriving at home, you begin to step off the bus--and second guess whether taking her to what someone in some sort of authority HAS to know is a haunted and/or magic library--when suddenly,

"I would like to drive somewhere with fewer stop signs," Cherry says. "The frequent stops in this town negatively affect my mileage and arrival times. This, in turn, demands more frequent maintenance. The bus networks predominantly assigned to travel highways seem more satisfied with their situation."

You turn back to her. You nod, you smile, you start to turn away--

when she adds, in a voice you could swear to god is several stages lower in volume even if her tone is exactly the same, "...And I would like to be smaller."

On the one hand, you don't want to be rude by just walking off after the bus has confided in you, but on the other hand it's been a long day and you are a psychological mess and you don't want the bus to see you almost cry. You manage to croak out a "thank you" before hauling your fragile baby ass through your front door, almost dropping your house key in the process of retrieving the damn thing. You don't know why a bus wanting to be smaller has fucking broken you, but you're having flashbacks to Cici trying to tenderly cradle your tiny controller and you're just






Every single thing you bought today--everything but the posters and the card for Dr. Finch--goes into either your toolbox or your laundry bag. You fill the super soaker with tap water.

You manage to mostly get your shit together by the time everyone arrives.

"I don't think we should take the bus," Marlow begins,

prompting a "and heeere we go" from Kate.

He continues, "if messing with this really is as--uh--risky as--"

"You don't gotta sugarcoat it," Kate says, angling a thumb back at Bebe. "None of us are strangers to crime here."

"I'm all about crime," Bebe adds. "You best believe I'll do some crimes."

Marlow gathers his resolve, and continues. "If what we're about to mess with is as illegal as we think it is--well, those Chariot buses could have their data pulled after the fact. We're leavin' too much of a trail--we should split up between our personal vehicles, and whatever animal control has."

Bebe shakes her head. "They can tell where the puppy patroller's been, too. They don't ever check it, but if y'all get busted you're done either way."

the puppy patroller

Cici adds, "AND there's only room for three in there! Three people, anyway, I don't think any of us'd fit in a pet carrier--"

Bebe adds, "Three regular sized people, and I'm a BIG girl."

"...Well," Marlow begins, "I've got a truck, and Cici's got a truck--"

"NEITHER of which have back seats," Kate concludes, "and nobody else owns a car, and I'M not riding in the bed of a pickup truck through negative ten degree weather. Do the math, my man. And everybody quit buying trucks, you have families and shit."

Marlow pauses--then turns back to Cici and Bebe. "You sure they don't check where animal control's been?"

"Oh!," Cici says, "I'm pretty sure. Me and Bebe both have had some adventures in that truck."

"I dunno about adventures," Bebe adds. "I've done some antics, maybe."

"Some definite highjinks," Cici adds.

"Escapades," Bebe continues, "if ya will."

Cici concludes, "Heck, I think even Deedee's at least dabbled in some shenanigans in that truck--"

"No doubt no doubt," Bebe agrees,

"Alright!," Marlow finally concedes. "We'll take the bus. I just... the bus is fine. I didn't wanna drive on ice anyhow."

"I'M gonna take the patroller so we got a story if anybody asks," Bebe states. "If anybody wants to ride with me they can, but it smells like dog farts in there. I'll just follow you guys to the place."

"Anything else?," Kate asks.


"We need like a... a code phrase," you suggest. "In case someone gets taken hostage, or there's like... I don't know, shapeshifting involved. I don't know."

"Penis," Kate pitches.

Cici shakes her head. "It's gotta be something you wouldn't normally say!"

--To which Kate whirls around promptly. "When do I ever say penis."

"Well," Marlow begins, "it was your first suggestion for a code phrase..."

"Girl," Bebe adds, "we had a WHOLE-ASS talk about it the other day. You told me you think the phrase kicked in the dick is funny, but like, kicked in the penis is a hundred times funnier."

"...Fair," Kate admits. "It's tied with kicked in the beans for the funniest way to say a guy got kicked in the junk."

"Ignoring that topic entirely," Marlow begins-- "is this a phrase to let each other know it's really us, or to let each other know something's gone wrong?"

"...Yes," you hesitantly reply. "We probably need both."

Cici shakes her head anew. "We gotta remember TWO phrases? Us? I don't wanna get into it, but if a plan hinges on us not forgetting something--"

"I got this," says Kate. "Rhyming slang. Shit's easy to make up and easy to remember, 'cuz you can remember how you got there in the first place. So like--if everything's good, good rhymes with wood... the password could be mahogany."

"We should go with pine," Marlow suggests. "It also rhymes with fine, so it'll be even easier to remember."

"Mahogany's more fun to say, though!," Cici points out. "...Though, oak kinda sounds like okay--"

This is getting sidetracked, and fast. "Look, if it's really you and nothing's wrong, just... name a wood."

"Penis," Kate suggests.

"What about bad?," Marlow asks. "The hell rhymes with bad?"

Cici shrugs like it's no big deal. "Sad, mad, glad...?"

Kate begins, "Instead of bad, we should rhyme it with wrong--" but everyone promptly shouts her down before she can hit the punchline and she couldn't get through it with a straight face anyway--

"THE CODE," you yell above the crowd, "is Scheherazade."

. . .

You explain to everybody, now silenced (and confused): "...The narrative context of One Thousand and One Nights is a woman named Scheherazade telling stories to her husband so she doesn't get executed. Stories originally written as part of it--or later added to it--include Aladdin, Ali Baba... and the legend of Sinbad the Sailor."

"Sinbad," Kate repeats. "Okay, that's good shit right there--you're gonna have to say the name again, though."

"Scheherazade," you repeat. "Sche-her-a-zad-e. ...Or maybe the E is silent. Shit. Now I'm second guessing myself--just... make a reference to magic lamps or OPEN SESAME or, ...whatever. A genie is like a ghost, right?"

"I like it!," Cici replies.

"Yeah," Marlow adds, "that works for me."

That should be everything, then. Everybody's briefed, shit's organized, all of the dick and fart jokes are out of everyone's systems--all that's left is to gather your gear, put on your coat and go.

If there's any other last minute preparations or changes you want to make before you head to the old library... now is the time.

Average Rating: 5 (1 vote)
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22nd Jan 2022, 2:23 AM
yes I am aware that Super Soaker is a brand and not a generic term, officially, and no I do not care they're all super soakers to me
22nd Jan 2022, 2:44 AM
duper drencher
22nd Jan 2022, 2:46 AM
Portal In Time
sloppy slinger
22nd Jan 2022, 3:03 AM
Is Super Soaker really not considered a genericized name by now, like Xerox and Kleenex? Huh, I just always assumed it was.

...Okay I looked it up. TIL that it's not, and even Xerox and Kleenex are not actually legally genericized, they're just treated as generic in casual conversation. But some words that WERE actual formal trademarks, and have been legally genericized, are: escalator, dry ice, flip phone, kerosene, heroin, and videotape. And some words that were actually trademarks once but lost their trademark status for other reasons and ended up being treated generically: app store, dumpster, touch-tone, yo-yo, ZIP code, and zipper.
22nd Jan 2022, 3:15 AM
Another one that blew my mind (if it hasn't changed recently), the word superhero and variations thereof is jointly trademarked by Marvel and DC
22nd Jan 2022, 3:34 AM
This is a fascinating list lol.

Other things that are still legally defended trademarks, despite seeming generic: allen wrench, band-aid, comic con (San Diego Comic Con has successfully sued to defend that one), ditto (originally a name for a spirit duplicator, or a copier thing that uses alcohol in the process), dremel, hula hoop, jacuzzi, lava lamp, memory stick (yeah, I thought "flash drive" was the thing that was originally a trademark, but it turns out that memory stick is a trademark), onesie, ping pong, realtor, stetson, tarmac, thermos, and zamboni.

It's also fun just to see what kinds of trademark names people use generically in other countries. Like apparently Canadians use "Ski-doo" for snowmobile, and New Zealanders call drywall "gib board."
22nd Jan 2022, 9:27 AM
Hold the hell up, whaddaya mean BAND-AID isn't generic?! Also if ditto is trademarked, why haven't they sued pokemon yet? How on earth are they defending realtor, do they have any idea how many there are? I need a link yo, I think your source is suspicious.
22nd Jan 2022, 11:09 AM
Tater Tots. Technically, only Ore-Ida, a subsidiary of Heinz, can legally use that name in any official capacity.
23rd Jan 2022, 3:09 AM
Cyrene DuVent
Trademarks are context specific: For example, McDonalds has trademarked the shade of red that they use (seriously) so if you started a fast-food restaurant, you couldn't use that shade of red, but if you want to be making shoes in that colour, you're fine. If someone was to make a game similar to pokemon and call one of their characters ditto, that would be copyright infringement, but if someone wants to name something completely different ditto, like a food, there wouldn't be a problem
22nd Jan 2022, 11:28 AM
Super Soaker is a brand . . .oh wait I know that huh I don't think anyone thinks of them as nothing but super soakers?
22nd Jan 2022, 5:16 PM
Taser is also a brand name of stun gun that people generally use to mean "stun gun".
22nd Jan 2022, 6:11 PM
Can confirm I've never thought of water guns as anything but "water guns" despite owning a Super Soaker. Am Canadian though.
23rd Jan 2022, 12:18 PM
The original Superman IS NOT trademarked.

I guess the original creators were so busy fighting over the trademark they forgot to renew it.
23rd Jan 2022, 12:30 PM
Nicolas A
22nd Jan 2022, 2:26 AM
Might as well bring the potatos I guess? Something to eat, or something to throw.
22nd Jan 2022, 7:30 PM
Gutz Grilla
If we bring potatoes for eating, they'd better be cooked in some form. Raw potatoes aren't good for your health, especially if greened or sprouting... it means the potato is high on solanine, which will wreck your intestines, among other things. Even without the solanine, the starch is best digested when cooked.

If for attacking, we're not in the dream now... not that it would be better there; Plaire already tested that one (page 24). We're arming ourselves on the way to the old library.
22nd Jan 2022, 2:32 AM
I'm fully aware of how completely impossible it would be to convince Cherry to sleep over at our house, convince Cherry's corporation that she should sleep over at our house, fit Cherry in our house, explain our situation to Cherry, have Cherry sleep at all, or convince the dreamscape that the bus counts... But what if we got to drive a bus around da creepy castle
22nd Jan 2022, 3:05 AM
We just need a USB stick with a lot of memory space!

(This is not an actual suggestion, do not store your friends on USB sticks, they are not a very safe method of storage for friends)
22nd Jan 2022, 9:28 AM
Better idea; hack into Chariot so Cherry can connect to Plaire's computer.
22nd Jan 2022, 2:10 PM
+1 to this absurd suggestion
24th Jan 2022, 5:53 AM
If we hack into Chariot we risk Mondol having easy access to Plaire's computer.

-1 unless we have an expert involved who can firewall the heck out of the connection.
23rd Jan 2022, 3:06 PM
First we talk to finch, then we talk to fuse, then we hack chariot, and then we get bus friend a smaller bus
22nd Jan 2022, 5:50 PM
Gingerbread Conductor
If we're willing to risk Plaire not having secondary powers, we could see if Cherry can be brought in via the ghost ring. We managed to bring Kate in long distance.

I suppose the house could have a secret attached garage.

So far, demonshells have been the essence of a person and small enough Plaire could carry them. I can picture Cherry as a RC racecar.
23rd Jan 2022, 3:08 PM
Gutz Grilla
We didn't exactly bring Kate into the alcazar the other time, we just borrow her powers.

It would be a good experiment, though, to see which abilities Cherry could lend (and which powers she would have). However, there's this little problem... her true name. Please remember that she said Plaire could call her however she wanted, and she chose call Cherry Cherry.

Hope the house magic is willing to recognize Cherry as a person, thus a demonshell... (Oh my, how utterly WEIRD it sounds when spoken out loud!)
24th Jan 2022, 8:37 PM
In my vision of Cherry as an Accomplice, her first form is a self-powered skateboard.
22nd Jan 2022, 2:41 AM
(As suggested by Gigafreak on the Discord)
Add salt to the water in the supersoaker.
Water freezes and its going to be cold as hell.
Salt water won't freeze so easy.
22nd Jan 2022, 2:46 AM
big science

also hey, potentially more evil spirit damage if salt works that way here lol
22nd Jan 2022, 2:47 AM
Portal In Time
It's also way more conductive. If we're dealing with anything near electricity ghosts, it'll help.
22nd Jan 2022, 2:55 AM
It is time to get salty.
22nd Jan 2022, 5:35 AM
+1, good idea for both reasons.
22nd Jan 2022, 7:39 AM
22nd Jan 2022, 7:54 AM
Definitely a +1 on this. That is a *stellar* idea.
22nd Jan 2022, 9:08 AM
Gutz Grilla
Heck yeah! Good catch, big plus one to that!
22nd Jan 2022, 10:40 AM
22nd Jan 2022, 11:42 AM
Absolutely, +1.
22nd Jan 2022, 2:43 AM
we made a few tin foil hats in super quickly before, so we probably won't need to make them in advance, but we don't know how fast each individual can make one of those here, unless we ask, because unfolded foil is easier to transport than hat-shaped ones, but making a hat under electromagnetic ghost duress might not go well.

wait, can we check if this is aluminum? because it was "tin foil [...] technically aluminum" that did the blocking (though, might just be a semantic thing, but hey, better to be safe)
22nd Jan 2022, 2:52 AM
Hat-shaped can be transported on one's head.
22nd Jan 2022, 8:41 AM
People riding as passengers can just make enough hats on the way to the Old Library. Don't wait until we get there to make them.
22nd Jan 2022, 11:43 AM
+1 to crafting hats during the bus ride.
23rd Jan 2022, 3:51 PM
Gutz Grilla
Also, premade tinfoil hats could just be stacked together and distributed among the party members at the destination.

As far as I know, "tinfoil" is the colloquial term for the product, even if it's actually made of aluminum (it was made of tin, originally). In real life, tinfoil hats offer no protection at all against radiation or waves. But here they work, also this is a story, so yeah.
22nd Jan 2022, 2:47 AM
Craft tin foil hats. They help keep the ghosts out. No I am not fucking with you.
22nd Jan 2022, 2:48 AM
Portal In Time
+1, Plaire. For some reason it fucking works. We can keep them folded up and stashed away until stuff gets spooky or whatever, but keep them on hand.

EDIT: *beams this image into Plaire's brain*

22nd Jan 2022, 2:57 AM
Well "for some reason" is probably because ghosts don't seem to like conductive materials very much. probably makes their electrons wanna make a break for it.
22nd Jan 2022, 5:34 AM
+1, let Marlow know too. They go under any other headgear you might be wearing.
22nd Jan 2022, 7:40 AM
+1 And mention the choir had past experience with this stuff. Worst comes to worst, there's no ghosts and you all end up looking silly
22nd Jan 2022, 10:42 AM
+1 but maybe don't put them on until the bus drops you off, to not look suspicious
22nd Jan 2022, 4:45 PM
+1 to not putting them on until after we’ve arrived, going to the old library alone is suspicious enough.
22nd Jan 2022, 5:51 PM
Gingerbread Conductor
+1. Silly but fashionable.
23rd Jan 2022, 11:51 AM
We're not alone, Plaire's got a party with her!
23rd Jan 2022, 4:04 PM
Gutz Grilla
Plus one to only putting them on at the destination. No unwanted attention, after all.
23rd Jan 2022, 3:08 PM
We don't actually know if they help tbh, we asked and we got the answer "what tin foil hats"
22nd Jan 2022, 2:52 AM
Portal In Time
Grab something eat before you head out the door (Cold leftovers are better than nothing). High blood pressure on an empty stomach makes for bad times. Other than that, bathroom breaks, explaining the super soaker.. Not much comes to mind! Knock em dead, Plaire!
22nd Jan 2022, 9:38 AM
+1 to grabbing something to eat before heading out.
22nd Jan 2022, 8:47 PM
+1 to grabbing something quick to eat. Plus, offering friends dinner when they’re over close to dinner time is a normal thing for someone with a house to do, even if it’s rushed and cold.
22nd Jan 2022, 5:34 AM
We should probably take the toolbox and the polearm and ask Cher to kill the cameras before bringing it onboard, whoever's best with guns should take the super soaker. A soda can in a sock is a half-decent flail, and we should bring more for throwing/snacking. Wd40 does a decent pepper spray impression if you’re desperate. Bring some extra cloths in case we have to wrap a wound in short notice, we don’t want to leave someone else cold. Hopefully we don’t use it, and if we do we can borrow things.
Let Marlow know that EM pulses are strong against ghosts, as are water and fire, hence the water gun.
Bundle up. We might have a coat on, but put on multiple shirts under that. Maybe wear some armor under the coat too if that works. Use some duct tape and a pillowcase to make a makeshift backpack.
Ask Cher to wait for us outside while we go in, as we might have to get out quick. It should be non-peak hours.

And rule #1 is don't die.
We'll be dealing with old, powerful, potentially volatile or half-constructed magics. Poke things with the poking stick before handling. Be civil and, if possible, kind. Stay together. Bring ample light sources-- I'm hoping BeBe has a good solid flashlight. Simple devices are less easily disrupted.
And hey, it's probably not Mutant Spider Satan and its army of zombie ghosts.

See if Cher likes any of the videos we make. Ask her to watch a couple, as research into if she would like to play video games and because we want her to see what we've made.
Also we're getting this bus a decentralized crpyto wallet and some online profiles later.
22nd Jan 2022, 8:34 AM
Good stuff. Rule naught, 1 and 2 should be the same. Don't die.
22nd Jan 2022, 9:27 AM
Gutz Grilla
Good suggestions, all of them!

If I may add something, and it may be superfluous at this point, but...

In some folklores/stories/systems/whathaveyou, iron tends to interfere with magic. It's real bad for the (very un)fair folk, especially cold iron. Now, dunno about checking any source of cold iron, or even what does "cold" mean in this context (and soon everything will be cold, not just iron, anyway), but maybe it's best if we have something we can reliably use as protection and/or a weapon, made of iron.

(Here, ghosts are electrical manifesttions. Guess what, iron can still be of use.)

Oh, and do anyone have rubber gloves or any protection of that kind? We'll be dealing with a lot of electricity these days.
22nd Jan 2022, 11:36 AM
Typically ‘cold iron’ refers to not heating it in a forge. The mythology of pure iron often has different interpretations, but most likely raw iron ore (or wrought iron) is the closest thing to ‘cold’.
22nd Jan 2022, 7:31 PM
Gutz Grilla
I imagined it would be something like that, cold worked iron. Maybe we can't find something like that around here, but having iron may still be good. We could go to the junkyard for that.
22nd Jan 2022, 4:18 PM
I would like to imagine that cryptocurrency as it exists today *doesn't* exist in Plaire's timeline, but it probably does. Although legislators today are starting to figure out the whole "tracking crypto" thing, so I'd imagine it's no more """secure""" than regular online accounts at this point. Cash is probably still king, though an AI is going to have a pretty hard time using cash.
22nd Jan 2022, 8:16 PM
Portal In Time
Who knows, maybe the Advanced Capitalism of the MDA-Verse has made crypto more of a fuckup than ever before. God knows it's a mess here.
23rd Jan 2022, 11:53 AM
Anybody have any emergency glow sticks? Chemical lights may be less ghost muckable than electric ones.
23rd Jan 2022, 4:09 PM
Gutz Grilla
If we can get one, it will be good. Good idea about glow sticks being less susceptible to ghost meddling (forgot they were chemical).
24th Jan 2022, 9:59 PM
+1 to Limrix's action items for the most part, but on the specific point of the halberd, -1. It's not a dream-world weapon, not a real-world one. I maintain it will fall apart after a couple good hits, or if one of the big girls leans on it.

If you want a weapon, it needs to be forged, welded, or riveted. For certain swinging weapons, a two piece head-and-handle construction is functional as well as easy to pack, but be careful about swinging over your head. Of any other options, even screws and bolts are less than ideal; if it can move, it will move, eventually, and need maintenance, which is a very bad need in a melee. There may be something to be said for duct tape and baling wire, but repeated violent impact is outside of their utility.
22nd Jan 2022, 8:17 AM
We need to ask if Cherry has a True Name at some point. That would settle this debate about machine vs life.
22nd Jan 2022, 9:14 AM
I thought we named her Cherry so she'd have a true name.
22nd Jan 2022, 4:50 PM
We haven’t tried using the name Cherry yet, but I’d say at this point it’s pretty dang clear that Cherry is properly and fully sentient. She has a dream that isn’t related to her function, and that clears basically every test we could casually do while riding the bus. At this point the question is less ‘machine vs. life’ and more ‘is the magic flexible enough to include Cherry, who probably wasn’t sentient when this magic was first cast’.
22nd Jan 2022, 5:09 PM
We should test the Dream Ring on Cherry one night. Maybe try Maria first, to make sure it works on people who haven't entered the dream before, and then Cherry.
22nd Jan 2022, 5:53 PM
Gingerbread Conductor
+1 to ring testing.

1) Is Cherry really her name? What even is a True Name?
2) If it doesn't work, Plaire won't have support powers that night.
3) If it does work, we'll have learned a considerable amount.
23rd Jan 2022, 3:09 PM
You don't need a true name for there to be true life, case in point, red. Her true name at this point is cherry
23rd Jan 2022, 5:58 PM
I mean, to be fair, one's "True Name" is probably the name one most closely identifies with. Maybe Cherry thinks of herself as something else, maybe she holds that name close and dear enough because Plaire gave it to her. Who knows? It's definitely worth testing, though.
22nd Jan 2022, 8:50 AM
Ask Bebe about the mutant wolves and any other wildlife around the Old Library.
22nd Jan 2022, 2:12 PM
>"...And I would like to be smaller."
B- bus dysphoria??

we gotta help her... somehow, someday
22nd Jan 2022, 3:59 PM
I can't take total credit for this one, but something to keep in mind when trying to free Cherry.


*Contact Fuse.*

I understand that the idea of contacting a quote-unquote "terrorist" might make some of your compatriots a little jumpy. Kate's probably all for it, and Marlow's either going to be skeptical or "who *hasn't* done a little terrorism in their lifetime?" But Fuse *will* be able to help. Maybe not personally, this is your story, not his or Mine's, after all. Plus, he's probably got (no offense) bigger things to worry about. But at the very least he'd be able to introduce you to someone who can, or give you tips on how or what equipment you'd need, and possibly where to get it. Fuse is a superhacker, and a friend of the previous... host? Bearer? of the Chorus, though they didn't know us by that name.

Fuse is a friend.
22nd Jan 2022, 4:29 PM
Just an addition, there is nothing about this situation that falls ourside of Fuse's wheelhouse. Skills and interest wise he feels like a perfect match. Maybe a little leery about unshackling an AI, but that has to be better than having it under the control of a MegaCorp, right? And if he's worried about it turning on you guys (or the world), remind him of Mine and the giant silkworm.
22nd Jan 2022, 8:19 PM
Portal In Time
-1 for now. We're already grasping at straws with Finch, if he believes us and is willing to help then I'm sure he'll send us Fuse's way.
23rd Jan 2022, 3:50 AM
Eventually, maaaybe? But for now, I agree with PiT, it would be jumpling the gun a lot to try to contact him anytime soon
23rd Jan 2022, 11:58 AM
Ditto - if we get to Finch, he can find Fuse waaaayyyy easier than Plaire and friends could - better to see if he'll take us seriously first.
23rd Jan 2022, 5:59 PM
Well yeah, I didn't mean right away. We've got other things to worry about right this minute. I just mean when we eventually commit to freeing Cherry. XP
22nd Jan 2022, 4:04 PM
Plaire (or Kate, for extra irony/hilarity) should get herself ordained online through a service like the Universal Life Church (or whatever equivalent in her reality), so that she can bless the squirt gun water and make it holy water.
22nd Jan 2022, 4:53 PM
With how corrupt everything is in this world, that doesn’t seem like it’d be too hard to do. But it would still be a pretty big time investment, so let’s see if the regular water works first.
22nd Jan 2022, 4:53 PM
With how corrupt everything is in this world, that doesn’t seem like it’d be too hard to do. But it would still be a pretty big time investment, so let’s see if the regular water works first.
22nd Jan 2022, 5:13 PM
I would argue that it's not necessarily the ordainment that matters but one's faith. It's probably just another form of magic. We already know there's cheat codes to the universe, this would just be one of those. Hell, there might even be a ritual on it somewhere. We should check to see if there's a bookstore in town. Check the library, bookstore, and resale shops for things that look *Esoteric*.

But that's a suggestion for *later*. (Or... I guess if you have time to kill, you *are* already in the library.)
24th Jan 2022, 6:04 PM
Yeah, I'm with dawnMachine on the possibility of an ordainment granting free spiritual powers.

It'd kinda be like buying a black belt from your local martial arts store, and saying, "Look, I'm a black belt! Hiiiyaaa!" Even with a no-effort declaration of black-belt-ness from an alleged doujou of your choice isn't going to grant you improved punching and kicking skills.

If the church is functional as a spiritual protector of its members, then it's going to ordain priests who can actually perform the spiritual rites with sufficient skill. In other words, they are priests because they are able to perform miracles, not that they are able to perform miracles because they are priests.
22nd Jan 2022, 6:00 PM
Gingerbread Conductor
Suggestion: Cherry could buy some body art. She knows some local artists. She could commission murals on her buses. It will engage the people in town and make the buses more noticeable. And, since she knows the area much better than corporate, she should be the one deciding what the subjects are.
22nd Jan 2022, 10:20 PM
That would be a fun thing to mention to Cherry, yeah. There's still that whole no-wages issue, but Cherry could probably a) Petition management b) Get some pro bono work or c) Just have our gang chip in some funds if the first couple approaches fail.
22nd Jan 2022, 8:44 PM
Something I just noticed is that this page confirms that Cherry is being monitored by Mondol in some capacity, even if it’s just an algorithm screening for problematic words like ‘slave’ that could get the company in trouble. We should watch what we say around Cherry, if only to try and prevent further reprogramming. We should also reveal this knowledge to the group as a whole; Marlow might have relevant knowledge, and even if Bebe isn’t part of the main group she should know as well.

As such, I think we should pretend to have not heard that Cherry has a dream of her own. Mondol seems like the type of company who would literally suck the hopes and dreams out of their regular employees, let alone “employees” like Cherry.
That said, on the way to the old library we should use Plaire’s pop culture knowledge and ask her if, completely hypothetically, she was hit by a shrink ray from <popular movie> or a relevant power up from Magic Mustashio what size she’d prefer to end up as. Or something tricky along those lines, like we do with the trades man.
23rd Jan 2022, 12:07 PM
+1 mondo literally has their fingers in poor Cherry's brain >:( Look for books on hacking! I wouldn't do any online tutorials right now - just in case, but books bought with cash(not having a credit/debit card actually helps here) or borrowed from a friendly librarian who will look the other way(wink, nudge) should at least give us a more general idea of what would be needed to free her.
23rd Jan 2022, 3:23 PM
Gutz Grilla
If I could give plus ten, I would. Since that would be cheating, I can't. So, just have this big, fat PLUS ONE (I would rather bold it than, uh, all-capsing it... if only I knew how!).

And if we could do research on how to hack (without becoming totally suspect... more than we are, at any rate)... Methinks Marlow knows, or knows someone who could. Last resort is trying to contact Fuse, or getting his attention... without getting anyone else's attention.

(No getting Mondolith's, Feds', Officer Sonnovagunson's, Wolf Pig and Machine Killjoy's, CarmillaIMEANRill Parsons and Maylosehertemper-ance Walsh's attention.)

Oh, one more thing: everyone, please, don't want to be that one person (even though it's already too late, anyway), but... do bear in mind that everything we do in Plaire's house may be already getting Iffy Neighbor's attention. You know the one.
23rd Jan 2022, 3:33 PM
Ok, hmm, if we're concerned about the iffy neighbor watching the house then what do we do about it? We've already scanned the place for bugs, should we just keep the curtains closed all the time? He'll still see Plaire's comings and goings in that case and might follow her around. He does seem to know now that Plaire has been associating with Cici. So what to do about all this?
23rd Jan 2022, 4:25 PM
Gutz Grilla
No, you're right. We can't really be prepared for everything. It was more of a reminder, really.

Good thing we can check for bugs. (Also, by now he also knows about Kate and Marlow. Cool, as long as he doesn't get in our way.)
23rd Jan 2022, 4:29 PM
Gutz Grilla
Reading what I just wrote, it does sound rather alarmist. Sorry about that.
23rd Jan 2022, 4:32 PM
I was honestly trying to think of a way to keep him from prying. But neighbors are gonna talk, I guess. Maybe if Plaire figured out how to donk peoples' memories like the Old Librarian did then she could make iffy neighbor forget her comings and goings?

Nothing to be sorry about!
23rd Jan 2022, 4:49 PM
Gutz Grilla
Actually, I'm thankful, because I was about to make a small suggestion of an experiment... Plaire could try throwing something in her roof, to see if there may be a second floor and we just can't see it.

But then there's Iffy Guy... guess we can't avoid him forever, though. He already knows the house is not a normal house, anyway.
23rd Jan 2022, 6:44 PM
I'm absolutely there for trying to figure out the house (gently), but I think it works closer to somthing like a Somebody Else's Problem field than invisibility... perhaps something more along the lines of crossreferencing, perhaps getting a short ladder about 1 story tall, seeing if we can touch the roof, then getting a longer ladder, about 2 stories, then see if we can touch the roof again. We could even try yours first, and then see if we can get the object back this way!
23rd Jan 2022, 7:06 PM
I'd suggest measuring all the external dimensions of the house then comparing that to the space available inside.
24th Jan 2022, 8:50 AM
Going House of Leaves? :p
24th Jan 2022, 11:45 AM
I've only read the wikipedia entry about that book, but from what I've gleaned about it I'm hoping the results we get will be less cryptic and confusing.
23rd Jan 2022, 8:13 PM
I mean, there’s not much we can do to stop the neighbor as long as he’s keeping to his side of the fence. But if he does try trespassing, at this point we can still just call the cops and hide in the backyard or something until they show up. Other then that, we should be fine; it’s a safe bet that the house’s internal invulnerability would prevent a good portion of traditional breaking-and-entering techniques, and it probably has defenses against less traditional ones too considering who the previous owner was.
24th Jan 2022, 8:30 PM
Speaking to the topic of Cherry.

Just to clarify, Cherry is owned by Chariot Mass Transit, not by Mondol. She's also been operating in Ninelives since at least before Mondol's major local takeover. She told Player, "less than three years ago their local presence was one convenience store." There's a possibility that she knew that because she researches local commercial history, but I'm inclined to believe that she knows that because she was there.

"What if Chariot's been bought by Mondol since then?", you may ask. I doubt that. You see, Mondol's been described as a relatively local company. Per Player's research early on, Mondol "started on the west coast," then "headed inland," and now "is still pretty small, mostly operating in about three states (including Misuschaqua)."

This means Misuschaqua is an inland state.

(Incidentally, Ninelives is also a habitat of both ravens and crows, meaning (going by Wikipedia's habitat maps) it's (A) in the Pacific or Mountain Time Zones (common raven), (B) in Texas, or pretty close to Texas (chihuahua raven), (C) near Lake Superior (common raven), or (D) up in the Appalachians (common raven) (but (D) isn't a good fit with a move from the west coast "inland").)

Yet, Chariot's network extends from Misuschaqua "closer to the capitol," which is likely more than three states away. So, Chariot operates in a wider territory than Mondol does.

I conclude that it's just another wide-reaching corporation, that has a contract with Mondol in regards to promoting its local shops (and possibly other terms and conditions about who-knows-what, and which may very well be concerning), but is not owned by Mondol.


That got a bit long for what was supposed to be a brief clarification before I contributed to the actual topic, to-wit, how to help Cherry.

It's still difficult to say what she really wants, even. Those last statements, all of them, were all relevant to pleasing Chariot MT customers at low, low prices, that is, the thing she's allowed to want. She's allowed to want better gas mileage, and faster transit time, and lower maintenance costs. Even the last; smaller vehicles also get better gas mileage, and are usually more maneuverable.

But, she took all that time to think about it. She knew what Player was asking, but wasn't allowed to answer it directly. She took her time to formulate an answer that Player would get, that wouldn't set off any of the "conversation alarms" that she works under. If it's read as a transcript, without the several minutes of processing time she took, and without the volume change at the end, then yes, it's all obviously within her allowed desires.

If that all is correct, then grilling her for more details of what she wants will be very hard. And, it might tip off Corporate that she actually engaged with the idea, and didn't simply ramble approved thoughts. I think it's too early for a callback to the "I would like to be smaller" idea (even spoofed as a pop culture reference) when her recording equipment is rolling.

Alternatively, I would suggest that Player and gang Discuss how to disable or circumvent the recording equipment. If she's not allowed to say what she wants when it's operational, then rather than trick the algorithms that make sure she's compliant, it would work much better to engineer a way to converse with her that those algorithms don't get to analyze. That short set of rides after the concert could have been a gold mine if we knew then what we know now. However, Chariot MT reinforced that equipment by the next morning, so a simple pothole won't do it anymore.

In short: +1 to sharing with the group, but -1 to trying to engage Cherry on it again, for now.

i still want you to stuff a Cherry transponder in a haunted doll but first you have to get one
25th Jan 2022, 12:11 AM
You raise some very good points BJBlack! Good catch on Cherry being owned by Chariot MT and not Mondol. I had assumed that the AI was provided by Mondol because of the constant shilling and the fact that the AI operated buses have only been confirmed to operate in Misuschaqua, but I was mistaken. Cherry being owned by Chariot MT instead of Mondol will probably make it much easier to free her, and lowers the need to not be overheard about house things around Cherry.

About Cherry’s dream, I think you’re at least partly correct. While Cherry probably isn’t able to say what she truly wants, I’m not sure if even *she* knows what she truly wants yet. The silence and Cherry’s response to the questions suggests that Cherry has never really thought about her own desires before. Maybe being smaller (or being something smaller than a group of five buses) is a step towards her true dream?

+1 to discussing removing recording equipment. It might not be easy, especially if it’s running on the same hardware Cherry is (or worse, is integrated in her systems). But as long as we’re planning to do crimes, making one of Cherry’s buses bug-free could also allow Kate and Marlow to hit the power to blocks farther apart, and get between the blocks much faster.
24th Jan 2022, 8:52 PM
I propose that You ride with Bebe, and the rest of the gang rides the bus.

For one thing, you'd do well to hear about the equipment that the puppy patroller carries. Tools for scaring, subduing, and capturing animals, no doubt (killing's a last resort, presumably). First Aid Kit, flashlights, and personal protective equipment, probably.

Also, you want to get to know her, too. Kate doesn't want a cop-adjacent in the Core Gang, but she's a person, too. Even if she only gets involved this deep, it's worth learning about her.
24th Jan 2022, 9:23 PM
+1 to Plaire riding with Bebe and getting to know her.