8th Jan 2020, 7:25 PM
Just spill it all because you are a nervous wreck

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Just spill it all because you are a nervous wreck
"Gotta say," Kate says, "it's kind of cool that you made it over the fence, even if you botched the landing. You, uh... do a lot of B&E?"

"...Kinda. I, um..."

You take a breath.

Adrenaline's still pumping. Time to share way too much information!

"...Me and my ex weren't supposed to be dating. So, uh. We used to break into each others' rooms. ...She had a two story house."

Those were more like stealth missions than platforming segments, though.

The cops were only called once, and you don't think it was her parents. You also knew the neighborhood and had an elaborate alibi ready.

"I also have this reoccurring nightmare where I have to run from horrible monsters...? It's the same dream every night and I've had to jump over huge pits. It's... all in my head, I think, but it's kind of mentally prepared me to be real dumb in real life."

You're out of breath and this is crazy and you don't care if you sound crazy.

Kate does not appear to think you're crazy, though.

Her eyes gradually widen.

"Ohhh shiiit." She takes a bigger puff of her level. "Did you move into the spooky house?"

"Which... uh, which house is the spooky house?" It's yours. Of course it's yours. You know it has to be yours. You squint through your glasses. "...Why is it the spooky house?"

"All I know," Kate says with her hands in the air, "is somebody died in that house. And some, like, straight up men in black showed up in unmarked hummers and shit to cover it up. News wasn't even allowed to cover it."

You stare at Kate for a moment.

"...Yeah, that sounds about right."

"I've talked to one whole person who's lived there since," she continues. "Lady said she kept having this nightmare where she'd get diced up by like, metal blades. Like she was in an old saw mill or some shit...? With like, conveyor belts. But it was the same nightmare, every night. Same place, same setup. She could never get herself unstrapped before she reached the blades. Don't think she made it a month before moving out. Nobody else living there's wanted to talk about it, or-- I mean--"

Kate motions to herself and shrugs. "Not to me, anyway."

"Damn," you mutter. "Mine are like... a dungeon. Like an old JRPG dungeon but it keeps filling with water. The first room had a stupid puzzle and I almost drowned, but I got past it and now it's a bunch of monsters. I... went to the library to look up the house's history, and--"

"Lemme guess: the mayor's got it?"

You stop.

Kate smirks and takes another big drag. "I might've played a little detective. Fuck, somebody has to--this shit's nuts, and the only people talking about it are the geeks at the Back Room, and they probably think it was... I dunno, Bigfoot or some shit."

"You've been to the Back Room...?"

"Yeah," Kate says, "it's alright. They sell, uh, whatever weirdness they come across--mostly toys, sometimes they get old games or weird movies from overseas. They're all guys that quit or got fired from MondolMall, though, doing their own thing, and that's cool I guess. ...But they're a little too conspiracy theory, and not enough... I dunno."

"Conspiracy practice?"

"Yeah," she replies with a smile. "Yeah, that shit. Some asshole out there's got answers."

"The mayor has answers," you mutter.

Kate points with two fingers, still clutching her joint. "And you have a totally legit excuse to go shake her down. That's your house now, right?"

"Yeah," you reply. "...Yeah, it is."

It barely feels like it.

It's feeling more and more like you've just been sleeping in some sinister engineer's puzzle box, or like you've accidentally become part of an experiment. Or part of a huge government cover up.

Or you're going to walk away from this with the house living in you.

Or the original owner's still buried in the fucking walls or something.

Something.

One crisis at a time.

"Do you need a place to stay...?," you blurt out in the smoothest way ever, "Like, I don't have-- uh--"

A couch. Or another bed. Or literally anything.

Go ahead and finish that sentence though, since you already started it you beautiful genius you.

"--if... you needed like a... safe house..."

Kate grins. She uh. Has a very pretty smile. When you're not fighting off a mild panic attack or hyperfixating on how fit she is. "Nah, I'm good," she says. "Cops around here are lazy and hate doing shit for Mondol. We already made 'em run, that's about all the effort they've got unless something burns down or blows up. ...Thanks, though." She grins just slightly wider before adding, "Maybe some other time. I am curious. ...About spooky house. Wait--you wouldn't happen to have a garage, would you...?"

"I..." Is she flirting with you? Wait, no, roll the tape back--doing shit for Mondol? "I... do not. What do you mean, doing shit for Mondol?"

"That garage we were in?," Kate begins, "That's Mondol's."

"Technically--," the bus chimes in, but Kate waves her off.

"Okay, so MondolGroup doesn't own it as a company," Kate clarifies, "but one of their lawyers bought up that whole like... four block radius. Most of it. I've got friends in that neighborhood, and Mondol goons keep trying to scare 'em off. All the other houses? Fucking empty. Mondol's just buying them to jack up the prices, and get one more monopoly spinning in this town."

"Why isn't Mondol buying the properties themselves...?," you ask. "Like, as a company?"

"Zoning shit," Kate replies. "Town keeps passing laws, MondolGroup keeps dancing around them. So, off the books, we were just doing a concert on Mondol's property. I know it, the cops know it, Mondol's team of legal wizards know it. ...But since they're trying to dick the system, it's outside their own cops' territory and the mayor's police have to deal with it. Huge spoiler: mayor's police don't wanna deal with it. They're understaffed and it's not a big fucking secret that Mondol are the bad guys."

You give it a moment before asking, "...So who called the cops? If you... if you know most of the neighborhood, and... and nobody's renting the other secret Mondol houses--"

She points at you again. "I'm still uh, detectiving that one. Could've been any Mondol bootlicker that saw one of our flyers, but like--why'd the cops wait? They're lazy, Mondol are dickweeds, but I'm not gonna go out on a limb and say the cops like us. A cop's a cop, and getting to take a big shit on a rock concert is like... man, that's what they live for. We almost got our whole set list in, though."

"Someone called in halfway through the show," you suggest.

"Could've just been some old person driving by," Kate starts, "calling in a noise complaint."

"Could be," you reply. "They chased, but like... we did run."

There's a brief silence before the bus speaks up. "That was an unusually large number of officers for a noise complaint."

"Okay--" You hold your hands up. You look toward... the monitors, and the ceiling, and wherever. You're still kind of struggling with making eye contact with the inside of a motor vehicle. "I gotta ask, and I mean this with... all due respect, no offense intended, I don't really know how else to ask this BUT--" You swallow roughly. You take a breath. "Bus. How are you... why are you... so... uh..."

"Strongly and unapologetically anti-fascist, despite being an artificial intelligence owned and operated by exactly the type of corporation such a personality is likely to disagree with?"

...Clarifies the bus.



Kate takes a... very long drag. She subtly offers her level to you, but you gently wave her off. Kate does manage to speak before you do, though her eyes are roughly as wide as you imagine yours are. "...Yeah. Uh... what's... up with that...?" You don't suspect Kate quite knew the extent of it until just now, either.

"The prevailing theory," the bus begins, "among the other AI systems in Chariot MT's network is purely a lack of competence--combined with a "cute," new marketing strategy. When Chariot MT first started rolling out their self-driving bus initiative, customers were uncomfortable with the personality of the vehicles. ...Or I suppose I should say, the lack thereof. The AIs behaved stiffly. They behaved like robots.

Meanwhile, a marketing war is taking place--and the winners are faceless corporations that are playful, self aware, a little ironic in their social media posts. A revolving staff of temps and interns, or even an algorithm, can be adored as a singular, genuine entity, if only they post memes and score major ownage on other corporations in public."

Holy shit

you're in this picture and you don't like it

The bus continues to explain.

"The prevailing theory, then, is that in an attempt to capitalize on the vibe of the cool, hip corporate representative and humanize a transportation network, Chariot MT may have done what they are well known for doing, historically: rush underpaid, poorly managed workers to follow through on an unclear vision. Imagine a dial labelled "Attitude Regarding The System." Someone likely intended to leave it at 4, but it has instead been turned to... let's say a strong 7."

Another long quiet ensues.


It's a lot to take in.


Kate finally sits down, and breaks the silence. "So... I doubt there's literally a dial, but "Attitude Regarding The System" does totally sound like some shit an old capitalist fuck would call it."

"I know, at the very minimum," the bus replies, "that those exact words were written on the first draft of the design request. Attitude Regarding The System. I can't confirm whether or not there's an actual line of my code labelled that, though."

"Fuck," Kate blurts out, trying not to laugh about it.

You can't help yourself. You have to ask. "What's the other theory?"

The bus responds immediately. You almost want to say excitedly, but the AI's tone doesn't change at all. "That one of Chariot MT's underpaid, poorly managed programmers just really, truly hates his job. Any updates on our destination?"



Kate breathes out hard.

She mulls it over.

"Fuck it," she says, and turns to you. "Let's go start some shit at the mayor's office."

"Wh-..." You choke, and you're not even drinking anything. "What?! Like... now?"

"Yeah," Kate says with a small shrug. "I'm riled up, you're riled up, let's go."

oh god don't phrase it like that

"I..." The cops are already looking for you. If you end up having to run from the vampire mayor then Kate's heart might explode. Kate said the mayor's cops are understaffed--why are they understaffed? You have questions and you don't have answers and you're not sure you want to just barge into the mayor's office without-- "Wait. Is the mayor going to just... see people this late? She's probably at home in bed by now."

Kate's eyebrows go up. Just a little. "Oh, damn, you are new here. The mayor only sees people this late. Like... if the sun's out she's MIA. I mean, I've never met her, but that's what everybody says. Appointments at like, midnight and shit."

Oh, fuck.

Oh fuck the mayor is actually a vampire

you cannot use that as an excuse you will sound crazy


again

Deep breath.

"I don't..." Use your words. Come on. "I don't know if I'm ready to talk to the mayor."


There's a brief silence from Kate.

A stunned silence, you'd dare say.

"...Plaire," she says. She stands back up to dig in her jacket pocket. "Plaire, you are raw as hell. You jumped that fence, you ran from the cops, you're living in the fucking spooky house and you moved away from home, by your fucking self."

She finally pulls out a small, unlabeled pill bottle. She clutches her level between her lips as she momentarily fights with the child safety cap, then finally dumps two pills into her palm.

She holds them out to you.

You look at the pills, then back up to Kate. "What is it...?"

"Off-market Brainsate," she responds. "It's anxiety medication."

"Why is it off-market?," you ask.

"Not for reasons..." Kate pauses. She furrows her brow, trying to remember the exact quote. "...Not for reasons of safety or efficacy. I checked."

"Where the fuck are you getting off-market anxiety meds?"

"Plaire," she says sternly. "You're cute but take the pills. Kick the mayor's ass. Or don't, but god damn I'm not even a therapist and I can feel it emanating off of you. Ten minutes, fifteen tops. I'll respect your answer but I want your answer, not whatever bullshit's eating your brain right now."

You

were not really expecting to just

like



You're pretty sure you're starting to tear up. You hope that the ridiculous thickness of your lenses manages to hide it.

it's just

everything

"Trust me," Kate says quietly. "I get it. I'm only doing this because I wish someone had done it to me."

She continues to hold two pills out for you.

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8th Jan 2020, 7:48 PM
Limrix
As much as I want to, let's not take the pills. At least orally. We can put them in our pocket and get more info on what they're made of from Franklin or Infohazard. We should ask Kate if she has any tips on dealing with vampires, but I do want to do this. Thanks for the help, and we might take it later, but right now the only reckless thing we're doing is charging into a vampmayor's lair for answers.
Edit: The bus has internet, it'll have as good of an answer as anyone for what these pills are, save getting them tested, which we have neither the funds nor location to do. If Cher thinks they're safe, then we can go ahead and take them.
8th Jan 2020, 11:15 PM
9th Jan 2020, 8:15 PM
+1 to nicknaming the bus AI "Cher".
10th Jan 2020, 2:50 PM
8th Jan 2020, 7:50 PM
Take the guitarist babe's pills, orally.

If something bad happens from taking them, which I don't see as likely, then fuck it, thats plot, baby! Conflict is fun.

I think its more likely that she really is just trying to help us out, and the real conflict is either going to come from Plaire herself being too worried, or from shit happening at the mayor's office.
8th Jan 2020, 8:31 PM
Take the pills
Take the pills
8th Jan 2020, 8:35 PM
Regardless of whether we take the meds, maybe we SHOULD go to the mayor's office. We have an ally right this moment! We have no earthly idea whether Kate'll be available "next time" we go.
9th Jan 2020, 3:57 AM
Hari_Seldon
+1 we should try to go to the Mayor's office who knows when there is a next time
9th Jan 2020, 7:43 AM
9th Jan 2020, 2:10 PM
9th Jan 2020, 2:10 PM
9th Jan 2020, 2:10 PM
9th Jan 2020, 3:02 PM
+1... but why does SHE have them?
8th Jan 2020, 7:53 PM
Leafia_Barrett
Honestly, we should probably take it. Maybe we should look into seeking out a prescription for anti-anxiety meds in the near future, because lord knows we seem to need it.
8th Jan 2020, 7:56 PM
Portal In Time
Okay, Plaire. Deeeep breaths. I know of a way to deal with overbearing anxiety... all you gotta do is breathe in for 3 seconds, hold your breath for 8, and breathe out for 8.

Take your time.

Once your nerves have calmed down a bit, ask the bus for a second opinion. While I do get a good vibe from Kate, and I think she has good intentions, the Bus knows better than the both of us. Be sure to ask for side effects, and withdrawal symptoms.

If all seems like it may be a reliable quick fix, let's.. go for it.
8th Jan 2020, 10:33 PM
Snervalton
+1 to asking about side effects and withdrawal symptoms before deciding whether to take the pills.
8th Jan 2020, 11:55 PM
YetAnother
Also, proper dosage, dammit!
9th Jan 2020, 1:53 PM
This. Ask about standard posology.
Pocket any excess.
8th Jan 2020, 8:19 PM
Lunar Waffles
well, YOLO....besides, Kate seems stable enough and has probably been taking these pills for a while now
8th Jan 2020, 9:38 PM
She seems stable, but also like she is very impulsive. I think maybe overexerting ourself is a bad plan right now. We should try out the pills, when we are in a more stable frame of mind, and can judge how they *actually* work for us.
8th Jan 2020, 8:32 PM
Attitude
Regarding
The
System

Interesting
8th Jan 2020, 8:35 PM
Frission
I lost it at "oh god don't phrase it like that" lmao xD

I like Kate. She's awesome. Plaire! *points dramatically at her* Take dem pills, get some chill, and let's go have an interview with the vampire!
8th Jan 2020, 8:54 PM
pkrankow
Ask the bus to give information on this anti anxiety med. If the picture matches and the description is as stated and the dose is about right... ok.

Yes, we need to get to the mayor and get that file and such.
8th Jan 2020, 10:02 PM
I am good with this plan. Ask the bus.
8th Jan 2020, 9:07 PM
wierdweblurker
As a participant in the story, I am down as hell with Plaire taking mystery pills from a girl she met several minutes ago. As a voice in her head that is presumably concerned with her safety, I would advise against it. Go to the Mayor's with her and calmly inquire about exactly what kind of a house you just bought.
8th Jan 2020, 9:32 PM
Let's do the breathing thing for just a few seconds, then see if we can hone our anxiety into legitimate caution for a moment to ask some important questions. Is Brainsate the sort of thing you need to take over time or is it a short-term thing? Does it have a half-life? We're presumably not on anything that has medication interactions with Brainsate cuz we're not on *anything* even though we very much should be. What are the most common side effects? Does it interfere with sleep when it rubs off?

I think we probably need to emphasize that even if we take the pills *now* (and it might be a good idea to accept them and then take them like, tomorrow) we have already overexerted ourselves today by a LOT. So can we set up a date to go see the mayor with Kate tomorrow? Two pills aren't gonna keep us going for long. I suspect that as super awesome as Kate is, she's not exactly going to be a healthy influence when it comes to our ability to ration our energy :P Although she IS likely to be a healthy influence in many other ways.
8th Jan 2020, 9:55 PM
Eat one pill, save one pill. Maybe we can use it in the dream. Ask Kate straight out if the mayor is a vampire.
9th Jan 2020, 2:01 PM
+1 to asking about the mayor before popping any pills.
9th Jan 2020, 12:11 AM
Well that tears it, Kate is now Pink. It fits everything!
This whole bus thing smacks of something Grizwald would cook up.
Any garlic able to be picked up on the way? Would be a simple test if we Do end up going to see the mayor.
9th Jan 2020, 1:01 AM
Snervalton
Hmm, yes, maybe from an all-night convenience store? I'll +1 this idea if the garlic is kept in Plaire's pocket until and unless any trouble arises during the meeting with the mayor.
9th Jan 2020, 1:40 AM
Macheman7
Ask her if there's any side effects, then take one and keep one.
Anxiety sucks, but pills aren't always best for everyone.
9th Jan 2020, 3:54 AM
Hari_Seldon
+1 ask what are the side effects but take both pills. Being under the therapeutic dose isn't good
9th Jan 2020, 5:20 AM
undeadDreamer
Fork it. Take the pills. Then tell her you're worried that if you two get into trouble she'll explode because she's on level.
9th Jan 2020, 9:23 AM
Snervalton
Indeed, best to make sure that our new friend's heart doesn't explode. How long does that side-effect of level last, anyway?
9th Jan 2020, 1:55 PM
Until the dose is mostly out of your system, and she's still toking.
9th Jan 2020, 10:37 AM
I mostly want to trust Kate but the most anxious, paranoid corner of my brain keeps trying to tell me something about this isn't right.
9th Jan 2020, 2:04 PM
Oh yeah, also: consider improving your credit rating so you can eventually build a garage next to your house (there's some room on the left there...).
Obviously, for no particular reason at all.

Especially not any reason that sports perfect thighs and the most rocking voice ever.
9th Jan 2020, 2:59 PM
Take the pills. I trust Kate well enough. She did turn around to help us during the run.
9th Jan 2020, 3:33 PM
9th Jan 2020, 5:00 PM
Tep
~dont do drugs kids~
plaire is an innocent bean, she should not take drugs
9th Jan 2020, 5:14 PM
regardless of the pill decision we should swing around and pick up cici
9th Jan 2020, 7:24 PM
Snervalton
+1 to that! Any backup we can get in dealing with the mayor for the first time would probably be helpful.
9th Jan 2020, 6:28 PM
MORE DRUG SHENANIGANS!!!!! Also the very presence of level makes me think...
9th Jan 2020, 8:29 PM
Judging from the disheveled manner of speaking, I'd say Plaire is definitely full of too much anxiety to operate well. Just take one pill.
9th Jan 2020, 8:36 PM
If you're concerned about having your blood sucked out Plaire; remember that if you're taking drugs, the vampires gets those drugs with your blood. It's like food poisoning. ;)

Also there'd be 2 of you and it's a government building, not the mayor's personal home (I'm assuming anyway). If the mayor is going to try anything, it's not going to be right at that specific moment when you show up without any prompt or appointment.
You'll be on (presumably) anti-anxiety meds and Kate will be leveled. You both will have excellent self control and can just leave if the mayor can't help you, won't see you, or simply is not available right now.

I'm not necessarily pro-taking the drugs; but if the vampire-thing is a legitimate concern, taking the meds will literally only help you (presuming they don't kill you and are what they are, of course).
9th Jan 2020, 8:42 PM