10th Jan 2022, 2:48 AM

Further refine your machinations

Further refine your machinations
Okay.

A lot of shit to think about.

"We should update Cici," you remark. "...And buy a greeting card, I guess."

The walk to the library is quiet.

You feel like you should say something, but uh

you don't want to press too hard

and also you don't know what to say

or what you should previously have said or not said, to avoid this

thus making it a mistake you could easily repeat, in the process of attempting to remedy said mistake

or if you even made a mistake to begin with, because the awkwardness bleeding through this silence could just be your imagination--you're pretty sure every walk has been pretty quiet because it's hard to walk fast and talk at the same time and, while Kate may be walking noticeably faster now, it's also getting later and the wind is starting to pick up so


you don't know.






You arrive at the library, but you do not see Cici.


You do see Meatloaf, who, like some mystical guide, makes eye contact with you before turning and wandering off toward the back. You and Kate, without saying a word, follow.





"...Are you fucking alphabetizing?"

"I'm BORED!," Cici declares. "I'm going stir crazy! All this god apocalypse stuff is happening and I'm stuck at work! And a detective came by asking about the house!"

"What?" Kate tenses, but uh

you're not excited just yet. "What'd he look like?"

"Short?," Cici replies. "Brown hair, cheap suit?"

Of course. "Was the suit too big for him?"

"Yeah!," exclaims Cici.

You nod. "Yeah, he told me he was with Central Intelligence until I called his bluff, then he told me was a journalist. Did you catch his name?"

Cici ponders it for a moment... then winces. "No. Dang it--"

"I didn't either," you point out, "so don't feel too bad. It sounds like the guy across the street, with the photos--so I guess he's still on the hunt. Did he ask anything... I don't know, serious?"

Kate helpfully clarifies, "Did he ask anything that suggested he might know shit?"

Cici shakes her head. "Nope! He said he was on a missing persons case, then asked if I'd heard the rumors. I tried playing dumb, but..."

"...You don't think he bought it," you sort of guess from her grimace. Cici shakes her head. Hmm.

Before delving into any nefarious plots you're... uh... plotting, you take out the bug detector Marlow gave you. Kate and Cici wait patiently while you begin to sweep the library--


--and quickly realize the library is quite large, and that in comparison your bug detector is quite small.


This could, uh, take a while.


Kate shakes her head. "Fuck it, just check this part and we'll talk quietly."


And thus, you give this section a quick once-over before Kate proceeds to summarize Plan D.



Cici tosses her hands up. "I leave you guys alone for half a day--"

"I'm not a huge fan, either," you admit. "...But we need to figure out what Franklin's deal is, god apocalypse stuff is happening and the cops are playing dirty. I haven't thought of a better plan."

Cici heaves a deep sigh, taking a second to let it all sink in... before finally asking: "It's just a misdemeanor, right?"

"Should be," you reply.

"And that's only if we get caught," Kate points out.



Cici gives a bigger, this time comically over-dramatic sigh... and a very thoughtful, hesitant pause,

before she finally offers her input. "Heirloom Credit and Global Fidelity both have office buildings that stay open all night! Everything in a two block radius oughta be either parking or more office buildings. Only A Dollar's got a warehouse, or a... shipping kind of place that's huge, I'll bet its on its own power deal and that's open all night, too."

You have to ask. "...How--"

"Stray dog in the parking lot, bird got into the building through a window, and a scorpion. In that order."

Kate follows up. "They called puppy patrol over a scorpion? Not an exterminator...? A scorpion?"

"It was a very big scorpion," Cici replies.

You have more questions (so many more questions), but Kate beats you to the next one. "Wait--you're actually cool with this? I figured you'd be all 'oh no good guys don't break the rules' and shit."

"Look," Cici begins, "I'm not a talker, and y'all have me outnumbered! I know a losing battle when I see one, thank you. Besides, Plaire's already taking a misdemeanor for me--it's only fair I take one for her."

... "Wait, you mean the fucking couch?" oh my god "I'm taking THAT hypothetical bullet in exchange for the couch itself, we're already even--"

"A couch is not worth a misdemeanor!," Cici retorts.

"Yeah," Kate adds with basically no idea what you two are talking about, "a misdemeanor can only be repaid with another misdemeanor. Everybody knows that"

You concede, hands in the air. "Should we even bother with non-Mondol places when there's... y'know, Mondol places?"

"I guarantee," Kate begins, "if we looked into it we'd find out every single one of these fucking companies are evil as shit. Plus, if I worked in an office building I'd be begging, praying, every night for the power to suddenly go out and free me from cubicle hell. We're granting these poor bastards a miracle here."

"These are all good points," you reply. "...Plus, if we hit non-Mondol places it kind of leaves the implication that Mondol did it, which..." You sort of trail off, but you can already tell from your compatriots' faces that this specific outcome hadn't really occurred to them.

"Damn," Kate remarks. "It's fucking true, though--they've built a reputation for sabotaging other businesses, so like..."

Cici gives a small laugh, shaking her head. "But it sounds sinister when you think about it like that! We were already scheming, but now we're... scheming. So that's tomorrow night, right? What else we got?"

"The old library," you reply, "for starters."

Cici crosses her arms, thinking it over for a second. "Bebe works tonight, if we wanted to try and beat the weather. ...But then we'd be visiting the old library at night."

"Temperature's already dropping," Kate points out. "That's gonna be one chilly bitch if we do it at night."

"Also spooky," Cici adds.

"Probably don't want to try and cram it in tomorrow," you suggest. "That and the police station back to back would kick my ass."

"Same," Kate concurs.

Cici's face (and arm crossage) tightens as she thinks harder. "She does work the day AFTER tomorrow, too! ...But she's off for two days after that, so if we want to do it soon..."

You nod. "Our choices are basically down to tonight--which would suck, or the day after tomorrow--which could suck more depending on how the weather does. If we put it off beyond that, we're really putting it off."

Kate smirks. "Not even gonna ask how Cici knows the exact days her sister works, just, off-hand..."

"It's not that hard to memorize a schedule!," says Cici.

Kate shakes her head. "I can barely remember my own schedule--"

"Oh," you suddenly remember, "and we're going to try to contact Dr. Finch."

Cici blinks. "...The Survival Instinct guy?"

"Yes."

Her face scrunches, just a little. "Okay. But don't make me exercise my veto just to stop a flood of old white guys from joining the team! YOU might not be keeping track, but--"

"I am absolutely keeping track," you manage to interject with a straight face, "and I promise, I have every intention of restocking our lesbian supply to meet the increasing-- uhh--" you are already losing track of the joke and/or your composure when Kate blurts out

"FUCK! Lesbian Supply would be such a good band name, though,"

and everything sort of implodes into laughter. "God dammit," you manage to mutter, "we're supposed to be keeping quiet--"

"Look," Kate chokes out, "if somebody wants to wiretap the local library just to steal sweet band names, I'll give them my spot on the team. They fucking earned it." She fights, hard, to regain a serious expression before adding "As long as they're not a cop or an old white guy, I mean. As per the code."

"I don't make the rules!," states Cici,

"Literally half the rules we have so far," you laugh,

but she continues: "How are we gonna reach him, anyway? Isn't he a senator or something?"

"We are going to send him a greeting card," Kate says smoothly without laughing, "with a bunch of cryptic shit written on it."

"We should also probably at least try to call his official number," you state. "It's not likely to go straight to him or anything, but--"

"Wait," Cici interrupts. "You have his phone number and nobody's tried to call it yet?"

"...No."

"Nope," agrees Kate.

"Is... is there any reason why, or--"

"Phone calls with strangers are scary," you explain. Kate merely gestures to you, as though you've thoroughly covered the entire issue.

Cici smiles. Sighs a tiny sigh. Nods. "Okay--I got this, then!" She takes out her phone, takes a moment to look up the number, dials it up... puts the phone to her ear, and--

. . .

Waits.

And.

Waits.

And.

"Answering machine!," Cici announces as she hangs up the phone. "Something about leave a message and we'll get back to you within 30 days."

Kate scoffs. "So? Leave a message...?"

"Thirty days is forever!," Cici counters. "We might not even need a Dr. Finch thirty days from now. Is there any other phone calls I can make?"

You turn to Kate, who shrugs back at you. "...Infohazard?"

Cici starts to look it up--

"No," you stop her, "...no. My phone's basically a burner and I already have the number--I--I will actually call them but I want to have at least listened to their podcast once before I go trusting them with bullshit of this caliber."

Cici eyeballs you sternly, but puts her phone away.


Average Rating: 5 (1 vote)
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10th Jan 2022, 6:41 AM
Frission
I just like the word "Machinations" :3 It's just way more fun to say than "plans," hehe xD
10th Jan 2022, 10:57 AM
Gutz Grilla
Well, Plaire IS the mastermind, after all... Kate, Cici and Marlow are the accomplices, along with anyone willing to help us.

(Guess that makes them "Our Gang.")

Anyway, you're right. As we all know, everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth...

...Wait.
10th Jan 2022, 7:55 AM
Snervalton
We should go to the Old Library tonight. Plaire wanted some answers today and it looks like we're not seeing Franklin until tomorrow. Also, with the cold front coming in, it'll probably only get colder the longer we put it off. Marlow should come along because he has experience with ghostly/haunted things and he's been inside the Old Library previously.
10th Jan 2022, 8:46 AM
Zophah
I agree that it’s the best time, but maybe not for Plaire. Is there anything we can do to make it easier on her?
10th Jan 2022, 8:53 AM
Snervalton
Why is it not a good time for Plaire?
10th Jan 2022, 9:18 PM
Guest
Depends on whether the Old Library shenanigans kick up at night like classic spooky stuff and if that'll make things dangerous or not. They keep emphasising "at night" and that worries me.
10th Jan 2022, 10:25 PM
Pkrankow
Gonna be a couple busy long days. Yes tonight for the old library is probably best.
10th Jan 2022, 9:12 AM
Limrix
It can't hurt to try leaving a message. Have Kate call him, have her sing as much of this as she can.

1. Dr Finch, could you call us back if you get this? I mean the music, pangram-wise. We've been practicing for Choir.
Heaven, earth, star, sky,
Mountain, river, ridge, valley,
Cloud, fog, mudhouse, moss,
Person, dog, top, end,
Sulfur, monkey, grow!
(--The Song of the Universe)

2 Or give this message:
Hi Dr. Finch, you old rat. I hear you're still searching for your hematinic muse. We'd love to help if you'd let us. We're in kind of a pinch ourselves, actually.
10th Jan 2022, 9:30 AM
10th Jan 2022, 12:09 PM
SpoopyLaundry
I really like the second message. It's what I had in mind but wasn't smart enough to compose
10th Jan 2022, 10:37 AM
botanicalLightning
How long is an episode of Infohazard? Any chance we could get that out of the way right now?
10th Jan 2022, 12:10 PM
SpoopyLaundry
10th Jan 2022, 6:54 PM
Momerath
+1 to listening to an Infohazard podcast right here, if not too long - Cici is bored out of her gourd. Could sweep for bugs while we listen.
10th Jan 2022, 10:59 AM
Cheshire777
Plaire's probably a bit worn out for any major schemes tonight. I vote that the gang all just head back to Plaire's house, listen to 1-2 Infohazard podcasts depending on length, and do some more *gentle* house testing, see if we have a laundry room yet and so on. I also came up with an idea just as I was typing this: what if Plaire tried gathering up dirty laundry in a hamper and carrying it around? That could help kickstart the house into letting us in, and we don't really stand to lose anything by trying.
10th Jan 2022, 12:11 PM
SpoopyLaundry
Oooo +1 for clever
10th Jan 2022, 3:47 PM
Gutz Grilla
Plus one to that, yeah!
10th Jan 2022, 7:14 PM
Snervalton
It's understandable that Plaire is a bit worn out right now after walking around and getting way more exercise than she's used to. However, there's a rapidly approaching apocalypse and she should strive to accomplish as much as she can as soon as she can to stop it. Going to the Old Library tonight would be a good way to do that. Maybe she could take a quick nap in a secluded corner of the library or relax and listen to an episode of Infohazard if she needs to, but she shouldn't rest for too long or pass up opportunities to accomplish important things.
11th Jan 2022, 1:52 AM
Cheshire777
If it was just the investment of time, yeah the old library seems appropriate. As other peopke have said though, with all the rumors of it being haunted and near dangerous animals and so on, we should probably wait for daylight IMO. I may just be overly cautious, but it seems like a bit too much of a push right now.
11th Jan 2022, 8:05 AM
Limrix
Given what we know about ghosts, it would be a good idea to have some EM weapons if possible. Or like, a super soaker.
10th Jan 2022, 12:26 PM
Chaos Phoenix
IF it helps, Cici, we're recruiting only the coolest of old white guys.
10th Jan 2022, 4:45 PM
Gutz Grilla
Hmmm, iffy guy from across the street is on the move, it seems... Looks like he is serious about knowing more about the house.

Personally, I don't discard the possibility of him being an ally, even if he's of the unscrupulous type. However, we'd better probe him good before even thinking about such proposal.

(Yeah, that came out very wrong. Not sorry.)

Agree with the idea of exploring ye olde library, though it would be great if we still got some time to listen to Infohazard podcasts after (or right before).

Two pages ago, there was this suggestion that we don't spend the night in the house. I, for one, agree. After all, we did buy some time, it's not like it will jump from fifteen to NINE again, or something, just because of one night not spent there. Plus, it would get us some more time tonight for our activities.

For now, how about asking Cici some more questions about iffy guy (if he stayed at the entrance or did enter the library, and how far if so; how long did he stay... that sort of thing). Come to think of it, maybe comb the library some more for bugs. Hey, don't forget to search Meatloaf too. Comb him good!

(We could ask Marlow for more bug detectors, at least more two.)
10th Jan 2022, 6:58 PM
Momerath
If we don't want to spend the night in the house tonight, we could go back there to pack an overnight bag and also gentle house testing, as per Cheshire777's suggestion above.

Then leave for the sleepover.

This can work whether we choose to visit the old library tonight or not.
10th Jan 2022, 9:00 PM
Limrix
I think we should sleep in the house whenever possible from now on. At very least, we can talk to the Trades Man more, and train our levels. It seems pretty clear that the more we go there, the stronger we get, so we need to keep it up if we want to scale enough to finish this well.
10th Jan 2022, 9:03 PM
Snervalton
+1 to sleeping in the house whenever possible from now on for all the reasons given by Limrix.
10th Jan 2022, 10:32 PM
Pkrankow
Sleeping in the house is not a priority if we have other machinations ongoing. Taking a specific night off is less important for now. Missing a night is not concerning for now.
10th Jan 2022, 6:58 PM
unrelated question to Cici . . ."Did the Scorpion have a great head of Hair?"

oh also do we get a veto on said people who get added to the group because I vote we feel out that um "Journalist" and see if he is on the level to let in
10th Jan 2022, 7:17 PM
Snervalton
Considering how dishonest the "journalist" has been so far, trying to pass himself off as a federal agent and detective, he's going to need to make some serious shows of good faith before being considered as party material.
10th Jan 2022, 9:01 PM
Limrix
Fed dude is out. We have no reason to trust him, he's skeevy.
11th Jan 2022, 10:23 PM
Spyder
1 + to this one, I don't feel like Mr. Lying Spooktalker is worth considering for the party. We do need to find out more about him tho, since he seems very set on poking his nose we're it might piss off powerful people(mondo/mayor are not keen about house poking it seems)
11th Jan 2022, 1:55 AM
Cheshire777
He's a definite good potential information source, and I'm definitely not going to rule him out as a member eventually, but right now he's pretty skeevy and unknown yeah. As Snervalton said, some serious shows of good faith would be in order first.
11th Jan 2022, 1:57 AM
+1 to going to the Old Library tonight. With the cold front, it’s only going to get colder from here, so it’s best to do it now before things drop to absolutely freezing. Plus it’ll mean we got something worthwhile done today in terms of spooky knowledge.

We should take Cherry to the Old Library, since Plaire’s already done a lot of exercise. We don’t want her to be exhausted, in case we have to run from something. And that way there will be a digital log of us going there, in case something goes wrong. We’ve already seen the opossums here, who knows what else has started living in the abandoned library.
And while we’re riding Cherry, have we tried asking her for her IP Address yet? That’s probably the closest an A.I. will get to a true name, since Cherry didn’t seem to count. (Either that, or we just forgot to try dream ringing her between skipping the night we named Cherry and the whole disassociation episode.) If an IP address is good enough for the internet to connect to her, that might be good enough for the Xanthous to as well.
11th Jan 2022, 8:13 AM
Limrix
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MAC_address would be closer to a true name, IP addresses are assigned by the network controller.
11th Jan 2022, 1:31 PM
PurpleKetchup
Even then, Cherry's shared over the several networked buses, so she'll have several MACs (one per bus she manages).
12th Jan 2022, 12:04 AM
My personal theory is that the exchanging of true names is less about knowing someone’s true name, and more about sharing a connection that the Xanthous (and/or the magic bringing us to the alacazar) can find. Theoretically, since the IP or MAC addresses point to a bus that Cherry inhabits, and Cherry presumably thinks of herself as those busses rather then as an AI in a box that controls them remotely, there’s a chance that it’s cognitively similar enough that she’d be able to be dream ringed. Admittedly it’s still a long shot, and we haven’t tried just using the name “Cherry” yet, but I figured it would be a good time to bring it up now that Plaire is going to be walking places instead of riding the bus everywhere.
12th Jan 2022, 5:02 AM
Momerath
+1 to going to the old library and taking Cherry. I'll note Plaire doesn't have to walk *everywhere*, and if we consider Cherry a friend, it would be nice to hang out with her sometimes.

We don't have to talk about sensitive stuff on the bus. Didn't Plaire and Kate talk about the spooky house on a bus trip though?
16th Jan 2022, 1:39 AM
dawnMachine
As much as I would *love* to have Cherry on board, I have to wonder at her ability to enter Xanthous. Personally, I would consider a true A.I. as much a person as any organic, but I don't think we know enough to say for sure. We haven't tried to dream ring Cherry yet, I don't think, but can we even borrow someone's power if they haven't been to Xanthous?

Relatedly, I *desperately* want to get Cherry out from under the thumb of Chariot and by extension Mondol Group. Unshackled A.I. friend? *Yes, please.*
12th Jan 2022, 5:02 AM
Momerath
Decide when and where to buy a greeting card.
12th Jan 2022, 9:50 PM
Crestlinger
Have to try when calling them: 'Is this Infohazard? You are about to meet your namesake of hazardous information.' *Unloads everything.

But yeah Do leave a (cryptic) message for Dr. finch. 'Hide in any washing machines lately? Call us, We have a MINE-field of information you might be interested in.'

Going to the old library Is a good idea, but right Now is iffy. Some good food, good rest (no Dream!), and evaluate what the state of things are looking like tomorrow. If weather is good for operation 'Mondel's Blackout' then do that. if not then old library.
Can at least put together a list of things to get/bring to go there and who all can come with now though as you have the brains, the wildcard, and the muscle all present.
13th Jan 2022, 9:11 PM
Momerath
I say we do the old library tonight, because it's tonight or in 2 days (when the weather could be worse), or wait for longer.