28th Jul 2020, 10:31 PM
Escape the mall

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Escape the mall
. . .

"By the time you walk out of a Mondol building, they know you better than you know you."

You decide not to contribute to MondolGroup's data on your spending habits. You grab your laundry box and you make your way back to the entrance of the mall.

On your way to the door, you spy the guard you spoke to earlier.

"Hey," you tell him offhandedly, "I tried your app, but it just kept redirecting me to a closed church."

"I'll submit a report. Thank you, Ms. Stevens."


"We hope you found what you were looking for here at MondolMall," he replies. "Sorry for any inconvenience."

Nope. Nopenope. No.

You. Fucking. Bail.

You hold onto your box like it's a shield. Your power walk is maximum.

You don't have to wait at the bus stop very long, which is good for everyone.

The bus greets you in her usual warm but... precise tone. "Where would you like to go next, Plaire?"

"AnywherethefuckbutMondol," you blurt out as you find your seat. "Flasks. Where can I buy a flask?" Crush Souls has a mechanically important flask. Also you need to do mana wine science. ...Also flasks are cool.


You make a very special Plaire noise, and the bus immediately switches gears (so to speak).

"According to their website, Furniture & Whatnot sells metal flasks."

"...So the Whatnot is flasks?"

"Furniture & Flasks would be tighter branding," replies the bus.

"Flasks & Furniture," you mutter. "They could specialize in bar-themed furniture, too, like stools and... glass racks. Dart boards. Things they have in bars."

"Pool tables," the bus suggests.

"Yeah!" Damn, if only you could get paid to have ideas. "Can you take me to Furniture & Whatnot?"

"Of course," says the bus.

You are driven across town to the local Furniture & Whatnot. Or at least, to the bus stop nearest to it. It's not a long walk, but you do have to pause before you exit the bus--

"Can you watch my laundry?"

"I can," the bus confirms.

"Thanks! I'll try to make it quick so you don't have to like... fight anybody off."

The store looks like it's seen better days. Aside from how heavily they're leaning on the Whatnot part (seriously, they could rename the store to As Seen On TV), a lot of the random knick-knacks, cutlery, hair care products and other assorted items are on clearance or heavily discounted.

Which is bad news for Furniture & Whatnot, but good news for you, a person who is broke.

"Hello. Hi," greets a young lady in a uniform polo. "Hi there. Can I help you?"

"I need a flask," you state.

"I..." she pauses. "Do not know where we keep those, but I can sure find out!"

You follow her for a little bit as she checks a computer toward the back of the store. Along the way, you pass another employee who is giving free samples of cookies; you nab a cookie.

Eventually, you both eat the cookie and find a metal flask. You also grab a laundry bag.

You inquire about getting your house key duplicated, but--

"Our key copier machine thing is down," says the employee.

Hmm. "When'll it be fixed...?"

The employee shrugs. "It's been months."

While in the line to check out, you also pick up a bag of candy.

You are left with almost no money.

You once more board the bus, who assures you that no one messed with your cardboard box full of laundry. You add your newly acquired loot to the box, minus several pieces of candy that mysteriously disappear while you decide what to do next.

It's about 4:52 pm.

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average rating: 5

28th Jul 2020, 10:45 PM
Oh. Mondol knows our name! We've never been to the mall itself, I don't think it's been mentioned, we haven't used their apps... but they know our name! FUN!
28th Jul 2020, 11:09 PM
Plaire's ID card is remotely scannable. It's how the bus knows to pick her up when she approaches a bus stop.
It's still bad that Mondol knows her name, but at least it's not surprising.
28th Jul 2020, 11:26 PM
Even if the ID card is scannable, why would that particular guard know her name? Some kind of super-tech glasses that show a GUI highlighting the names of people?

No, wait, he's not wearing glasses.

Straight implant into his eyeball? That's a big-ass investment for a lowly mall cop. Imagine what they outfit their soldiers with.

But then, Temperance held her own against maybe three mid- to high-level goons? She's even scarier than previously assessed.

Note to self: Don't get on the bad side of the Mayor's office.
29th Jul 2020, 1:14 AM
he would likely have like a tablet or something. would be useful in general. alerts of security problems, like fighters or power outages the like. and a corporation like that would likely try a monitor purchases strategy. and have the guards aware so they could like mention deals or other info on common buys
29th Jul 2020, 3:57 PM
Or an earpiece, feeding him the names of customers. Or.... other reasons.
28th Jul 2020, 10:47 PM
Let's check in with Kate, and try to find a place to spend the night. Crashing at Kate's would let us both catch up and not enter our dream dungeon. We should go home and have dinner before we meet our drug friend.

Edit: Also ask if Kate's mom has old school supplies we could borrow, like backpack, scissors, etc.
Maria could probably duplicate a key, though it might take a bit.
28th Jul 2020, 10:53 PM
+1. We can also ask where "the shittyplex" is.
28th Jul 2020, 11:04 PM
+1 to all of the above.
28th Jul 2020, 11:03 PM
+1, find out where drug friend is expecting us. Start looking up games that could give you better buffs in the dream world/considering an ideal inventory to bring with you. I like the long-sleeved shirt as a backpack idea but I think Kate would be willing to lend you her backpack. Ask if Kate would lend us the backpack
28th Jul 2020, 11:41 PM
+1 all of the above
28th Jul 2020, 11:39 PM
"Drug friend." Huh.

I guess we've all decided that Player is going to be dependent on drugs.

We all, except for me. -1.
28th Jul 2020, 11:53 PM
29th Jul 2020, 1:54 AM
I just spent a long time trying to be clever about it for a quick laugh. But, fuck it.

Without narrative hints to suggest these drugs are bad, comments against an anxious fictional character taking antianxiety meds because "drugs," comes off as regressive as hell and they do generally impede my enjoyment of things to have to read.

Therefore, I say +200 to all drugs forever. Let's take a Brainsate, smoke some cheap level with our friendly neighborhood pharmacist and think about all those neurotransmitters that just can't function or regulate because it would be immoral.

Which I said sarcastically. But honestly we could do with new friends for multiple reasons and maybe Plaire doesn't need to be running around all the time.
29th Jul 2020, 6:20 AM
I think people not wanting the drugs is because its coming from a shady drug dealer and we don't know here or what we are getting.
I don't think anyone was suggesting that people don't take their meds or that they shouldn't treat their conditions.
29th Jul 2020, 7:25 AM
No, nothing was said about the dealer being shady and it kinda was suggested that Plaire shouldn't be using Brainsate. A vague, overly-braod "drugs are bad" position was taken. However, to make any useful evaluation of the effects of a drug use on a person's life you have to look at that particular drug, its specific effects and what that will mean for that particular person's life. I would agree that Plaire should not get to the point where she's dependent on Brainsate to do anything social. That being said, there's a world of difference between popping the occasional anti-anxiety pill to handle a particularly difficult situation and an all-consuming heroine addiction.

I suffer from PTSD that leaves me with social anxiety similar to Plaire's and has changed the course of my entire life for the worse. However, anti-anxiety meds are in my opinion useless and harmful bunk that do not work as advertised and I've chosen not to use them to help me with my problems. At the same time, I think that people should make their own choices as to what the appropriate solutions to their own problems are and I don't pass judgment on them for the choices they make.
29th Jul 2020, 12:37 PM
Cookies are a hell of a drug :o Hee
8th Aug 2020, 10:58 AM
As someone who has to take the real world equivalent on a daily basis I have to say that I don't appreciate your time.
29th Jul 2020, 9:01 AM
Reminder: There have been "narrative hints" that these drugs could have negative effects. Back when Player first took two to confront the mayor, ( mda.thecomicseries.com/comics/44/ ) the bus told her about common side effects.

Good news on that front: so far, those side effects have not manifested to Player. So I'll concede that side effects don't appear to be a problem (yet?).

But Player also asked about withdrawal symptoms. The bus replied, "you shouldn't experience any noticeable withdrawal symptoms from a single dose."

That means this isn't one of those super-addictive drugs. But that means there can be withdrawal symptoms.

Sure, I'm anti-drug, broadly speaking, but I looked these terms up. Regarding drug withdrawal, "in order for the symptoms of withdrawal to occur, one must have first developed a form of drug dependence." So I looked up drug dependence, reading that it "results in withdrawal upon cessation of drug use."

Great, Wikipedia's definitions reinforce each other.

Anyway, this means that dependence can be a thing with Brainsate. Again from Wikipedia, "Dose, frequency, pharmacokinetics of a particular substance, route of administration, and time are critical factors for developing a drug dependence."

What's a safe dose for this drug? We don't know. Kate gave Player two pills that first time, but that could be one dose for Kate, which might not be wise for Player.

(Going to one pill at a time was probably a good idea, given all the unknowns.)

What's a safe frequency? We don't know.

Are there any safer routes of administration? We don't know.

How long can she take it? We don't know, beyond the fact that one (or two?) doses, one time only, would have been safe.

That frequency and time are listed separately means that they probably interact complexly, so (for instance) doubling the dose frequency might not halve the time it takes for dependency to set in. It could reduce it to one quarter of the previous time, or it could reduce it by one quarter of the previous time.

The bus also said that it was recommended to take Brainsate on a full stomach. This kind of implies that it's not really supposed to be used to suppress symptoms, since symptoms don't ask your stomach before manifesting. Maybe it's supposed to be a once-every-so-many-days/hours thing, to prevent symptoms.

Choosing to depend on the drug is an option. Then drug dependency is a risk. Then she needs to deal with those withdrawal symptoms if she ever wants to discontinue use. What are those symptoms? Is this risk worth it?

There are so many unanswered questions about the long-term implications of taking this drug that no person who claimed, "I need to start thinking about the long term," yesterday morning ( mda.thecomicseries.com/comics/94/ ) should even think about getting more before getting answers.

Look, maybe once we have answers, it will turn out that taking Brainsate regularly is a good idea. If the facts warrant it, I'll withdraw all objection. But I maintain that charging forward without facts is risky and irresponsible.
29th Jul 2020, 12:55 PM
Okay, now we're having a useful discussion of the specifics of a particular drug. +1 to getting more information about Brainsate before taking it regularly.
31st Jul 2020, 10:55 PM
For what it's worth I'm sorry that I overreacted. Expressing Things™ is not my forte.
6th Aug 2020, 9:26 PM
Hard agree to all of that. +1
2nd Aug 2020, 12:12 AM
I see we've wandered into slightly contentious territory. Personally, in these circumstances, I view Brainsate as a large heavy stick. We might become too dependent on it, and the drawbacks may outweigh the benefits. However, our major worry now is the hard deadline imposed by the house and the very dire penalties it could inflict.

Assuming the price for Brainsate is not too high:
+1 to acquiring Brainsate with conditions: Have it ready, but only use as a very limited last-resort resource.
28th Jul 2020, 10:49 PM
investigate the mystery of the disappearing candy!!!
29th Jul 2020, 1:54 AM
It's a secret to everybody.
28th Jul 2020, 10:53 PM
Hoooopefully Mondol only knows our name because we were carrying our bus pass-- since Mondol has a business partnership with Chariot MT, presumably they also share advertising data as an "authorized third party." Actually, that's something we can ask the Bus about-- they might be legally required to disclose who their authorized third parties are, *if* we ask, and just count on nobody ever asking (because seriously, nobody ever asks).
28th Jul 2020, 11:11 PM
+1 to asking the bus to disclose authorized third parties.
28th Jul 2020, 11:28 PM
Remember the bus knew Player's name without an introduction? She doesn't need to disclose anything, as long as Player carries that ID card.

But, no ID card, no bus rides.
1st Aug 2020, 11:56 PM
+1 to asking about "third parties", both to see if Mondol has its fingers here, and to see if there are any other groups we should be wary of.
28th Jul 2020, 11:01 PM
Hm. We should probably get something more filling than cookies and candy for supper, but I don't think we have the money to go out to eat. Maybe grab something back at our place? We need to drop the laundry off anyway.

Give Kate a call, see if she found pants and wants to meet up to talk about what happened in the dream?

The staff at Furniture & Whatnot seem friendly. We should keep the store in mind in case we need more furniture, or whatnot. Help out a local business that's not Mondol.

Also, since money is getting a little tight, we could consider asking around if anyone would happen to be hiring at the moment. It's a bit of a long shot, so we shouldn't devote *too* much time to it, but if we happen to be in somewhere we like it wouldn't hurt to ask. F&W probably can't support a new hire right now, but Maria might appreciate another pair of hands, possibly.
28th Jul 2020, 11:06 PM
Head home, call Kate, look up good games for the dungeon, see if you can get one that would also be a good game to make videos about. After this, cook dinner while brainstorming video ideas
28th Jul 2020, 11:41 PM
She still has Captemon, dream powers unknown.
29th Jul 2020, 1:45 AM
It's possible that Captemon is what gave Plaire the ability to bring a +1 into the Alcazar.
28th Jul 2020, 11:15 PM
When Plaire gets home she should harvest some backyard level to trade with Lagi.
28th Jul 2020, 11:19 PM
Portal In Time
Ooh, +1. Good bartering chip, even if it's low grade
29th Jul 2020, 1:47 AM
That is what I was thinking. We may even cut a deal where the drug dude gets the harvest of the level in return for a steady supply.
29th Jul 2020, 9:50 AM
Yeah Plaire doesn't seem to have enough money she needs to trade Level.
30th Jul 2020, 8:01 AM
We don't want to be trading drugs around Mondol. Cops already like giving us a hard time, and we don't need people on our case for having really bad level.
28th Jul 2020, 11:19 PM
Portal In Time
I think we should text Kate and ask her where the Shittyplex is as we drive home, then work to the best of our ability before the meetup at 7. Don't think we have enough money to buy anything, but we should at least make an appearance to talk prices.

After that, head to Kate's for the night?
1st Aug 2020, 11:53 PM
+1 To contacting Kate sooner rather than later. She introduced us, and should know the lingo for this particular deal.
28th Jul 2020, 11:20 PM
Good job pranking that security guard. That'll show him not to work for Mondol.

From the moment Mondol plucked him out of the vat they grew him in, he should have known better. And now that he's crossed you, he'll forever regret it.

Because you're a petty, resentful knee-biter.

Seriously though, I can't believe you did that.
29th Jul 2020, 12:05 AM
Enh, sometimes you gotta get the digs in where you can, even if all it gets you is a little release. I'm sure that we'll be able to do some more serious damage to Mondol before this story is through.
29th Jul 2020, 6:10 PM
Come to think of it, with the surveillance and all, it'll take their AI about twenty seconds to realize, "Hey, nobody actually installed MondolApp anywhere in her vicinity." Then they'll file your false complaint away for further reference.
28th Jul 2020, 11:59 PM
Google how to fix a key machine. (May have to call Furniture & Whatnot to find out the particular model). If it's not too tough, offer to fix it in exchange for, I dunno, a crapload of free keys. (Realistically, how many would we end up needing per night in the dungeon? Maybe negotiate for upwards of 20 -- that way, any we decide we don't need to bring with us into the dream we can hand off to Cici and Kate and anyone else we bring into our inner circle).
29th Jul 2020, 1:16 AM
Portal In Time
-1, We super don't have the skills OR tools required for that. I don't think Plaire would realistically want to poke around inside of a key copying machine just for the sake of money and a few free keys - The girl's got social anxiety in spades.
29th Jul 2020, 8:45 AM
-1 too much involved.

Now, buying a couple correct blank keys and a couple needle files and a small clamp, copying a key by hand is not hard...time consuming, but not hard.
30th Jul 2020, 8:02 AM
Maria can probably fix it, but we need to get to know her first.
30th Jul 2020, 10:33 AM
Enough grocery stores have a key machine. If we end up at Maria's we should definite ask about key copying.
29th Jul 2020, 12:05 AM
Okay, so I know this is late, but I've been busy and forgetful so late's better than never.

The difference, in my understanding based on what I know and which interpretation is being used here, between The Hanged Man and The Fool is that The Fool's choices are nearly limitless, unformed like a lump of raw clay. Where as, The Hanged Man's choices are fixed, limited, and they can't choose, like a clay vase that only needs a glaze before it's ready to be fired. But The Hanged Man can't choose between, say, a sturdy glaze that will help the vase withstand a lot abuse with minimal chipping but will muddy the colors and patterns a little, or a delicate clear glaze that will brighten and preserve the vase for years to come, but only if it's not damaged.

put a different way, they are both stuck at a cross roads in their paths, but The Fool has freedom to go anywhere on any path, but if they are not careful they will face many unknown perils, and The Hanged Man knows the three best routes to take and where they lead as well as the perils they may face, but can't choose between them. Do they take the quickest path with the most dangers to get to a large village? Or the longest, safest route to the big city? Or perhaps they go down the medium path to get to a small but prosperous port? That kind of thing.

It might also be worth noting that if we're not careful, Plaire could end up like Jevil, a fool driven mad from the truth not meant to be known. Too much freedom can be a problem.
29th Jul 2020, 1:49 AM
If we can somehow find the identity of the Hanged Man and use the dream ring for their power, we might be able to get the best of both tarots.
29th Jul 2020, 4:41 AM
Wait, almost 5PM and Kate didn't call back. That's not a normal hangover.
I'm getting a bit worried that using an accomplice's powers through the demonshell is draining them a lot.

Maybe we shouldn't rely on it too much until we know more.
29th Jul 2020, 8:52 AM
29th Jul 2020, 9:53 AM
Call Kate if we have to. We need to meet her to update her on the dream.
29th Jul 2020, 12:42 PM
+1 to calling Kate.
29th Jul 2020, 2:56 PM
Maybe a text, first
29th Jul 2020, 6:05 PM
Among the things to talk to Kate about (if her lack of returned call all day isn't an indication that something very bad is afoot) is whether it's weird for a security guard to address you by name before an introduction.

She'll be like, "Yup, first time it happened to me I had my hand on my knife 'til I was half a mile clear," or "Nope, they've singled you out; their kill squad is certainly just waiting for an opportunity to off you while dodging the consequences."

Anyway, another person's perspective is good, especially someone with Mondol experience.
29th Jul 2020, 9:34 AM
Try playing some random video game to get ready for night. Seriously though, find Franklin, he could be the hanged man
29th Jul 2020, 9:53 AM
+1 find Franklin we have QUESTIONS

+1 to also today talking to Kate to try to figure out how to stop Mondol trying to kill Maria's Grocery.

EDIT: we should only play games if we are not sleeping over at Kate's
29th Jul 2020, 4:38 PM
30th Jul 2020, 8:04 AM
I thought we weren't planning on doing the Alcazar tonight? We don't need to play games unless we're sleeping in our own house.
29th Jul 2020, 10:03 AM
I can't decide between Plaire sleeping over at Kate's to try to slow down the Alcazar death clock or trying to sleep over with Franklin at her house if Franklin is interested.

The crux is whether or not sleeping away from the house gives does not advance the Alcazar death clock. Would the neighbor gentleman know?

Also I vote if Plaire needs money she should work at Maria's. Good way to make a friend.

EDIT: I thought about this some more and I vote to sleep over at Kate's tonight. And find some way to keep in contact with Franklin so we don't waste a day trying to track him down again.
29th Jul 2020, 4:40 PM
actually, we should try getting a part time job there. maybe 2 hours daily?
29th Jul 2020, 12:38 PM
Uhhh... anyone noticing the big ol' dirt smudge to the lower right? That's new... o.o
29th Jul 2020, 12:55 PM
Do you mean this thing?:


That's been there a good long time. There's one in the top left, too.
1st Aug 2020, 9:52 PM
iunno it feels more prominent lately...
29th Jul 2020, 7:27 PM
What if Plaire filled her metal flask with water or alcohol and slept with it? Would the flask already have mana wine inside at the start of the dream? That could be really convenient.
29th Jul 2020, 7:46 PM
Only way to know for sure is to find out!
29th Jul 2020, 9:03 PM
Maybe we should ask Kate for some alcohol to put in our flask.
29th Jul 2020, 10:26 PM
29th Jul 2020, 8:43 PM
When we see Franklin we should ask him about our spooky house and mention he could crash at our place if he doesn't mind the Alcazar.
29th Jul 2020, 10:27 PM
That'd be interesting. How would a programmer who has designed dream-affecting games respond to a dream game? What kind of insights might he have?
30th Jul 2020, 12:13 AM
next update will probably be tomorrow but also pretty chunky
30th Jul 2020, 4:40 PM
Who would disagree with an 乇乂丅尺卂 丅卄工匚匚 update?
30th Jul 2020, 8:37 PM
realize that, in modern parlance, a flask is known as "ye olde waterbottle"
30th Jul 2020, 9:24 PM
Did she pay the mondolmachine with cash? Or with card? It’s also pssible that the washing machine was taking information from her clothes such as size, how much its been worn, stretching (cause of weightgain) and possibly her name if she wrote it on any of her wash. Taking this information so they can send better targeted ads at her. Also they are friendly with the bus company. It could have just taken a bit for the bus to send her name to the mondomall for them to know it. Because of course they would know who got off the bus at mondomall when.
30th Jul 2020, 10:05 PM
alright we're just gonna split the difference and say I'm taking this week off, because lmao this week

new page monday or I'm burning my house down
31st Jul 2020, 12:09 AM
Never bet against the house, it always wins.
31st Jul 2020, 7:13 AM
Take your time, we all understand life happens.
31st Jul 2020, 9:24 AM
It's okay, we all understand
1st Aug 2020, 9:53 PM
2nd Aug 2020, 11:53 AM
Good luck getting Photoshop to work!
31st Jul 2020, 11:05 AM
Take your time, it's a series worth waiting for. : )
31st Jul 2020, 4:11 PM
2nd Aug 2020, 9:12 AM
sort of just commenting so I don't get b o r e d with this ;)
2nd Aug 2020, 11:56 AM
If Franklin agrees to join Plaire's little conspiracy I think we should swing by Maria's and give her a chance to tell Franklin to not get mixed up in our mess (are Franklin and Maria friends?)? I don't think Maria would be mad that we didn't tell her ahead of time but she might be mad if we drag Franklin into our conspiracy while keeping her in the dark.

While we are there we could promise Maria to try to stop the vandals and ask if we could work at her store sometime to get some money since we are having trouble making internet videos.
2nd Aug 2020, 1:30 PM
ON HELL NO!! They knew our name! That's creepy as heck.
3rd Aug 2020, 10:42 PM
update: brain problems have been joined by computer problems, will be seeing a doctor wednesday

would like to have a page up before then but no guarantees, I'd rather it be late than fucked up and stained by migraine brain
4th Aug 2020, 12:00 AM
No pressure, just promise us not to set your house on fire.
4th Aug 2020, 10:10 AM
Hope you feel better!
9th Aug 2020, 3:35 AM
Take the time you need, and take good care of yourself. ^_^
15th Aug 2020, 7:31 AM
Oh oww, migraines, I feel you there :( *hug* hope normalcy comes soon.
5th Aug 2020, 12:45 PM
Another wish for your life situation improving! Fan of your work!
8th Aug 2020, 2:29 PM
Limrix recommended on the Discord to contact Infohazard when we go to Kate's to get help with the spooky house and Mondol. +1 to that especially asking Infohazard about how to stop Mondol. I'm not sure if it's Infohazard's job to help us with our spooky house (it's not a threat to the public?) but I'm sure Infohazard's job is to stop corporations like Mondol.
8th Aug 2020, 4:40 PM
Huh. That store clerk reminds of Ranse's brother...