28th Jan 2020, 8:53 PM
Try to track down Kate

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Try to track down Kate
"Okay," you sigh with a tired smile, "if Biblical shit starts showing up, we'll talk about it. We're just testing how the house works. ...Speaking of," you realize in the moment that Cici may want some kind of prep time, "stuff you have on you at the time goes into the dream with you. I'm uh... still kinda figuring out how it works, but I know whatever's in your pockets definitely shows up in the dream."

"Huh. Okay," responds Cici with a thoughtful nod. "I'm sure I got some things worth bringing."

"Oh, and uh--" you take a moment trying to find the best way to phrase it, but eventually settle on... just saying it. "...I don't have any furniture. Like, I have one small bed."

"How big's your couch?," Cici asks.

You just... stare at her, blankly, until she gets it.

"...Oh."

"Yeaaah." You grimace a little. "But seriously."

Cici nods again. "I'll bring a sleeping bag, then."

"Also--" while you're just throwing out whatever pops into your head-- "...Do you know where Kate lives?"

"Oh, I have no clue," Cici replies. "You don't have her number...?"

You grimace again, harder. "I don't have a phone."

"Dang, Plaire!"

"I know!" You throw your head back, giving maximum grimace. "I knooow I'm poooor I'm working on it."

Cici shakes her head, grinning as she pulls out her own phone and begins to dial someone. After a few moments of waiting with the phone to her ear, Cici cancels the call. "Well I thought Bebe might know, but she's not pickin' up. She's at work, I guess I can't be mad. Hmm."

"The bus might know," you state aloud, mostly for yourself.

"That bus seems to know a lot," replies Cici.

"...Yeah." The bus does know a lot. You're still... not entirely finished unpacking just how much the bus does and does not know.

You realize that you're still grimacing. Just a little.

You take a moment to breathe out, relax your face, and collect your thoughts.

"Okay," you begin. "You know where I live, right?"

"Yup!," Cici confirms. "That's one of the first things you told me."

You nod. "Alright. I'll see you tonight, then. I'm gonna go... uh... try to find Kate."

"Seeya later, then!" Cici waves as you turn and begin to leave.

About halfway out the door, though, Cici speaks up again. "Hey, uh--"

You lean back into view.

Cici stares at you for a second, her expression tightening up a bit. After a brief silence, she shakes her head. "Nevermind, I'll figure it out. Seeya tonight!"


You wait for a little while at the bus stop.





An older man is also riding the bus, but he has a set of earphones in and attached to his phone--likely listening to music or a podcast or something.

Still, you keep your voice down. "Hey, uh... bus...?"

"Yes?"

"Do you know where Kate lives...?"

"I do have an address listed," the bus replies, "though it may not be current."

You vaguely recall Kate alluding to her living situation, and it did sound... uh... different. You don't think you caught the specifics amidst all the talk of espionage, political intrigue and vampire hunting, though.

Wait.

"...Is it the same address as her mom's?"

"It is," the bus confirms.

Kate sort of danced around whether or not she still lives there, but she definitely (kind of?) implied it. ...But also, it's been confirmed that Kate's mom is really bad at not talking about Kate to total strangers. Either Kate lives there, or you can definitely find out where Kate lives there.

You give a small nod. "Okay, yeah. I'll give it a shot."

It's a longer ride than usual. The bus stops once--to let the older guy off at his stop--but otherwise, Kate's listed address is just... kind of out there, in a very different part of town from your house and the library and Maria's.

You see a lot of empty houses.

Shuttered businesses.

Empty lots.

The roads get a bit rougher.

Whole mini-malls, entirely abandoned.

You see fewer and fewer people walking the sidewalks, and fewer and fewer cars.

Well, fewer functioning cars.

"Are... are we headed north?" You remember it being brought up--that the north end of town was dangerous.

"East, actually. I'm unable to travel this far into the north side of town for safety reasons."

...So the north side is worse?

You do see signs of life--random houses here and there look occupied, at least, albeit not in anything resembling good condition--but this end of town is otherwise a wasteland. Signs are unreadable, pavement is wrecked, and you see more stray dogs than human beings. It's a far cry from what you've seen prior of Ninelives, which was... quaint, a little old fashioned, but definitely not falling apart like this.

"Did... did Mondol do this?," you finally ask.

"Do what?" is the bus' reply.

"This part of town looks like a fucking bomb hit it." You continue staring out the window. "Like... the population decline. All the stores closing down. Whatever's going on with the taxes for it to look like this."

"Ah." The bus takes a moment. "...Data suggests that this began long before MondolGroup was founded. Their presence has, admittedly, accelerated the decline."

"...The decline of what?" Like, there's nothing here left to decline, unless Mondol's planning to incinerate the remains.

The small screen closest to you lights up. The bus shows you a graphical display of the data in four layers: the town's rough geographical layout, a map of the population density as of each year's census, a vague layout of commercial presence from year to year, and a breakdown of known, registered construction work.

As the years tick by in seconds, you watch as every data set but the geographical boundary... shrinks. The north and east empty out, with the north disappearing faster; by the end, the town (as it pertains to literally everything but geography) is less than half its original size. The south and west ends are beginning to fray as well, and a lot of the numbers just... thin, throughout. In all the ways that matter Ninelives has been getting progressively smaller; it's hard to tell whether the people are leaving because of the lack of repairs, or if the town just gave up on repairs as everyone left. It all happens pretty much hand-in-hand.

You try to pinpoint where your house is, but the geographical layout is... not helpful for that kind of thing. It's mostly just a big blob with various shapes in it. You still get the basic idea, though, and you're pretty sure your home is in one of the "juicier" parts of town, even if only on the edge of it.

"What the fuck," you silently mouth.

The bus continues still, beyond even what you thought at first to be the edge of Ninelives. You see zero houses for at least a few minutes, occupied or otherwise--just hills, rocks, and some struggling trees.

It's only after the bus clears a particularly large hill and turns a corner--onto a road that doesn't even look finished--that you see a few random houses, and a handful more in the distance with vast space between them. You're not sure where the actual border of Ninelives sits, but you're pretty sure most of those houses are outside it.

You also see a bus stop.

"This is as far as I can take you," the bus says, confirming that you have officially arrived in the sticks and/or the middle of Absolutely Nowhere.

The bus gives you instructions on where to go next--

which would not be the longest walk you've ever taken, but it would be the first walk you've taken past two fields and a bait shop and nothing else.

She says you're looking for a red house, but you cannot see it from here

not past the huge hills and the tall grass filling most of the distance between things that aren't empty fields.

A fucking bait shop? Who even--

Deep breath.

You need to contact Kate.

Kate might still be at work.

She might not even be home yet and then you're just... stuck talking to her mom.

Kate might not want you to meet her mom.

Kate does not get to dictate who meets her mom

Kate's mom might not even be home, you don't know.

You also don't know what's in all that grass

but now you're just trying to talk yourself into hyperfixating on what kind of fucked up, mutated wildlife could be hiding unseen on the way there as a way to talk yourself out of stepping off the bus and wandering down a weird old country road by yourself, past a store that sells exclusively to people that have lived very different lives than you, to maybe maybe not meet the mother of someone you met yesterday


"...Is everything alright, Plaire?"

You realize that the bus has stopped, but you have yet to move from your seat.

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28th Jan 2020, 9:17 PM
Morgenstern
updates are gonna be hit or miss for a while as I am in the process of moving
28th Jan 2020, 9:41 PM
Take as much time as you need!
29th Jan 2020, 12:14 AM
Frission
Ooof. Hope things get better soon MM :<
29th Jan 2020, 12:47 AM
So long as you got a health inspector/medium to case the place your moving to you're doing 100% better than This scenario. Good luck, label all boxes, and lift lightly.
30th Jan 2020, 9:36 AM
Don't worry, take your time!
28th Jan 2020, 9:32 PM
Confirm we are alright, just processing the difference between this part of town and where we were before.
Maybe also ask the bus if this area is *safe* to be around.
If it is, let's go.
If it isn't... Maybe let's go, but back the way we came.
29th Jan 2020, 7:22 PM
Hari_Seldon
+1 ask if it is safe if so go and if not and as you suggested in the Discord ask the bus to leave a message for Kate
30th Jan 2020, 9:40 AM
This sound like the ideal thing to do. Also, leaving a message for Kate is a good idea.
28th Jan 2020, 9:34 PM
Wow, okay, Kate makes this trip everyday so it *should* be safe enough to walk. Even if its just her mom being home, its likely we'll get some chatter from her regardless so let's just go.
28th Jan 2020, 9:55 PM
Fishbulb
Kate may also have a mode of transportation like a bike or something to make the trip faster.
28th Jan 2020, 11:19 PM
and lets not forget rep. she could just be one a "don't touch" list
28th Jan 2020, 9:40 PM
Yeah, let's confirm with the bus that the area is actually safe to walk through before we leave. However, honestly? It's probably actually safer to wander around here than it is further into the city...

Alternatively, we could go to the Back Room and try to get in touch with Kate later. Someone there might know how to get in touch with her. It just depends on what the Bus's answer is re:safety.

Also, uh... in light of realizing how much the Bus keeps tabs on people, let's ask the bus to let us know if anyone asks about *us.*
28th Jan 2020, 10:20 PM
Snervalton
+1 to asking if anybody's asking about us
29th Jan 2020, 1:18 AM
Obviously there's Captemon in the tall grass.
29th Jan 2020, 3:45 AM
Snervalton
Honestly, it seems like a waste of time for Plaire to go knocking at one of these houses when she has no idea whether any one will be home or not. It's unlikely that Kate will be home, seeing as she had to go to work and it has been less than the length of an average shift since we last saw her. We have no good reason to want to talk to Kate's mother right now. Therefore, I vote that Plaire stay on the bus and go to the Back Room instead.
29th Jan 2020, 8:10 AM
Hari_Seldon
If we run into Kate's mom I think the best introduction we could have is say we went to one of her concerts then say we want to know her phone number so we don't have to look for posters next time. Her mom might get suspicious if we ask for Kate's secret home address. We could use Cici's phone to call Kate then.
29th Jan 2020, 9:56 PM
Snervalton
Kate's mom might not know about or approve of Kate's activities of last night, seeing as they brought the law down on her. Kate might not want her mom to know about such things. I honestly don't know how we would open a conversation with Kate's mom.
29th Jan 2020, 9:14 AM
Krylo
Guys, we have every reason to go see Kate's mom and these worries we're having aren't real. They're part of Plaire's mental illness, which is part of why we need to find Kate.

Living with untreated mental illness is fucking awful and our only option to get treatment right now is Kate's dealer. We already know her pills work for Plaire, which is, basically, a miracle. Finding the right drug at the right dosage for this kind of thing is incredibly difficult, even if we could afford a doctor.

And that's not even counting the fact that Plaire needs friends. She needs people who accept her. She's never really had that, and the one person she thought accepted her didn't come with even though she was supposed to.

She needs Kate even more than she needs treatment.

Plus people live here. This place is rural-ish and weird, sure, but it's broad daylight and there are people running shops out here.

We can ask if it's safe, sure, but we already know it's safer than the north side of town and we can't let any hint of danger become an excuse for putting this off, possibly forever. Fears of mutated raccoons will turn into fears of seeing Kate again, eventually, because that's how anxiety works. We have to fight against it if we're going to survive.

Also, Kate lives in a tree house behind her mom's house. If her mom isn't home just look for that.
29th Jan 2020, 12:28 PM
Hari_Seldon
+1 I just don't know how to ask Kate's mom about getting some Brainsate from Kate. Her mom could be cool with it and empathize that Plaire also has anxiety or Kate's mom could react badly.
4th Feb 2020, 7:16 AM
YetAnother
+1

We're Kate's recent acquaintance. We wanted to pay her a visit. We don't have a phone to call ahead, so sorry for being unannounced.

Don't even have to lie to talk this out.
29th Jan 2020, 1:54 PM
Mochi
this is a stupid idea. we're going to walk miles down an abandoned road alone with no phone, and without anyone other than a bus (a bus that is a bus and is not capable of going to our friends and getting help should we need it) knowing where we are? this is stupid and dangerous and we should stay on the bus and go back to town. this was a stupid idea.
29th Jan 2020, 6:42 PM
Hari_Seldon
+1 we should ask the bus is this really safe. If not, nope out of there and ask the bus to tell Kate to meet Plaire at Plaire's house for a chat and maybe getting her phone number.

If we have time go to the back room but save enough money to pay Kate for Brainsate pills
29th Jan 2020, 4:04 PM
pkrankow
Nope. Nope! NOPE!

We are not walking past the bait shop and several fields. It might be only a mile or two, but no. Safe area or not, no.

Ask the bus if it can deliver a short message to Kate. Tell Kate to contact us via Cici or visit tonight. The message will be less important tomorrow, but should be relayed anyways.

Choices:

Take us to Backroom.

Or

Take us to Maria's to see how she is. Moral support.
29th Jan 2020, 4:17 PM
DO IT! JUST DO IT!!!
30th Jan 2020, 1:40 AM
31st Jan 2020, 5:12 AM
Morgenstern
moving sucks, it's gonna be a little longer

I am still counting votes though
31st Jan 2020, 4:44 PM
Hopefully your new place won't try to kill you in your dreams...
Hang in there.
7th Feb 2020, 6:35 PM
Morgenstern
just to update, I almost have a whole computer setup again and will hopefully be back in business after this weekend
8th Feb 2020, 7:16 AM
Would just like to reiterate again thanks for keeping us updated.
31st Jan 2020, 5:59 PM
Let's _not_ visit Kate's mum, the backroom is a better idea. It's stalkerish and wouldn't play nice. "Yeah, I met your mom already, you know, the one you don't exactly approve of. How did I know where to find her? I used the AI of the bus, it was super helpful in tracking her down. I thought you mom might then help me figure out how to find you. Which is … even more stalking, now that I think about it."
2nd Feb 2020, 11:47 PM
Hari_Seldon
If we do go to the back room let's buy a MASAMOON (TYPEMOON?) Fate game and hope our leftover change is enough for a few doses of Brainsate from Kate.
8th Feb 2020, 3:52 PM
Hari_Seldon
Plaire should read the town brochure when she has time.
9th Feb 2020, 8:48 AM