20th Sep 2022, 1:46 AM

Ask questions, eat pancakes

Ask questions, eat pancakes
Still tired.


Disoriented.


Kate... still wearing tinfoil hat. Why.

"I... need to eat."

"Brah." Lagi shrugs, glancing around. "I'll buy you breakfast." He slips a blank envelope out of his pocket and hands it to you. "We gotta talk shop," he says.



Thus, the bus is informed of your plans, and pancakes are had.

(Also the combining of tables in the back, because you're a big group with some big people)

The waiter takes your orders before giving you a wide berth, seeming to recognize full well the chaotic energy of all these disparate individuals stumbling into a Pancake Hut at 1:30 in the morning in the midst of a snowstorm. Kate remembering to take off her tinfoil hat shortly after walking in probably helps emphasize to the staff how little they want any of this.



It's mostly small talk about Pancake Hut's wacky menu until the food subsequently arrives. You don't know how cheesecake pancakes work but by god, you are going to find out.



"So what the fuck happened?," you ask over... yeah you guess this would be breakfast

It seems like as good a place as any to start.

"Well," Kate begins, "you passed the fuck out."

"And Kate said you were dead!," Cici huffs.

"I'm bad at finding a pulse, alright?!"

Marlow continues, "the girls loaded y'into the animal control truck with Bebe. Rest of us took the bus... then Kate and Cici started arguing."

"I wanted us to take you to a hospital," Cici states.

You shake your head, forcing a dry chuckle. "I wouldn't be able to afford a hospital."

"That's what I said!," Kate snaps back. "I was like we should just call Lagi--"

"Meanwhile," Bebe chimes in, "some wild shit was goin' on like eight blocks away? The lights were blinkin' on and off and stuff, I saw some like sparks and shit? I tried calling Cici and Kate, but I couldn't get a signal! It was coming towards us, so I flashed my headlights, flipped 'em on low and pulled off-- I'm thinking maybe I can outrun it or hide or some shit, right? Or maybe if we split up, we can buy some time for the others to form a plan. Or somethin'. I figure they GOTTA've seen me flashin' the headlights, right?"

"Nope!," replies Cici.

"We totally did not," Kate confirms.

"We looked back," Marlow continues, "and suddenly the truck was gone, and somethin' weird was headed right for us."



"And it... was...?" You ask, noticing the sudden hesitance.



Marlow is the first to reply. "Look, I'm not ashamed to say it. Cici yelled HIDE and we all dove under the seats. I am ashamed to say I think I pulled something on my way back out from under there, though..."

"We wouldn't have seen anything anyway," Kate points out. "It passed over us, or by us, and there was like... this blinding light, Cherry freaked out, and then it was gone."

Hm.

Hmmmmmmhmhmhm.

"Hol' up," Lagi interrupts. "Cherry?"

"The bus," you explain. "Buses. All the town buses."

"'Cuz, y'know," Kate adds, "Chariot."

"Ahh. Gotcha." He nods.

"Anyway," Kate concludes, "my money's on muthafuckin' aliens."

"Ghosts and aliens on the same night?," Marlow asks, fighting back a small laugh. "Surely not in this weather."

"Bebe eventually got through," Kate resumes, trying not to smile herself, "I called Lagi and we got it all sorted. Easy."

Lagi turns to you. "I gave you somethin' that'll keep you awake for a couple hours. You'll feel drowsy, but you won't pass out 'til it wears off. You will pass out again, though."

You nod. "It's close to my bedtime, anyway."

"I won't ask what else you took," he begins, "but if you didn't have anything else in your system--" you have to choke back a small laugh, because fuck, what else HAS been in your system besides Brainsate tonight? Phanton radiation? Otherworldly vibes? Maybe a little ghost frog in your throat? You almost passed out just channeling the Vibe Touch, you're not surprised it eventually followed with you actually passing out.

But he continues, just in case it really was NOTHING but the Brainsate, "--you might try different meds. Nothin' about you OR Brainsate, jus'--"

"Brains are weird," you concur with a nod.

"Yeah," he replies. "Truth."

You take a bite of your breakfast. "You said something about talking shop earlier...?"


Even in the process of eating them, the science behind cheesecake pancakes eludes you; however, you hope that whoever invented them is doing well, because MOTHER OF GOD it's like there's tiny cheesecakes in yo pancakes


"Your stuff," Lagi says quietly. "I passed it by six guys I know- weird cats, the whole pack. First five weren't about it. Said they wanted a juicier story, or better level. ...But that sixth dude. Brah. Homeboy took one hit and looked like he was getting a threesome for Christmas. Like he was halfway through scratchin' off the last box on a jackpot. I watched this guy turn into a kid again for like five whole-ass seconds."

Lagi leans across the table a bit.

He continues, a little quieter. "...I wanna know what he saw that the first five guys missed."

You squint. Kate beats you to the punch, though. "Why don't you ask the guy, then?"

"I did." Lagi leans back into his seat. "He doubled the offer instead of answering the question. I was either gonna take the money or blow it to maybe learn somethin' y'all already know. C'mon now. I did business."

"I... honestly don't know," you admit with some hesitance. You can't even begin to guess; if it was something really obvious (like the Casa de la Salamandra level lets you talk to dead loved ones or some shit) then the other potential buyers would have noticed, right...?

Kate backs you up. "Yeah, we uh... we haven't really smoked it ourselves? Like, I smoke level obviously but I haven't smoked the Salamander yet."

Cici nearly spits mid-drink.

"We are NOT calling it the Salamander," you protest.

Lagi shakes his head. "Nah, definitely not. ...S'too short. It's gotta be like Salamander Bomb or Orange Salamander. Lot of 'em are just named after whatever strains they used to make the hybrid." Why was that bolded...? He continues, "If we don't know where Salamander X came from, though, I guess that's off the table."

Kate guffaws. "Salamander X? That is WAY worse."

"Like as a placeholder," Lagi interjects quickly, "I'm not sayin' name it Salamander X. Salamander's kinda a mouthful anyway, ya mean?"

"When I was y'all's age," Marlow suddenly chimes in, "it was just level. I don't know when it started getting all these fancy names."

"Wait," Bebe joins in, "we talkin' about level? Like the drug?"

...Which prompts Kate to lose it.

"I tuned out!," Bebe squeaks. "Everyone was just sayin' stuff we already did and I stopped paying attention!"

Kate continues to laugh her ass off. "But now we're talkin' about smokin' so SHE'S BACK, BABY"



"Speaking of drugs," you begin, slowly,



"I... remembered one I wanted to ask about." Or the Choir did, you kind of lost track on that one. "Have you heard of a drug called cleantex...?"

"I don't think Cleantex is real," Kate remarks. "It's like those drugs that make you tell the truth--they're all over the place in movies and shit, but nothing really works like that in real life."

"Nah," Lagi replies. "Cleantex is real. You'd be lucky to get it outside a major city, though."

Bebe, curious, asks "Why's that?"

Lagi takes a drink. "They gotta make it in a lab. Like, it's a whole process. Cleantex is made by scientists and shit, and mostly sold to other scientists, and rich college kids, and big business guys. Too much cash tied up in it to shut it down, but gettin' that shit outta the city takes a straight up miracle. Nobody wants regular everyday peeps to get their hands on it."

...Now Cici's curious. "And why's THAT? What's Cleantex do?"

"Helps you remember things," Marlow says through a mouthful of pancakes.

"Helps you remember anything," Lagi confirms. "Every book you ever glanced at like you still holdin' it. Every embarrassing moment of your life like it's still going on. Everything you ever forgot or repressed, every moment and memory, clear as your brain can hope to get it. It can be the worst trip you ever have or it can turn you into a genius."

"And THAT's why they don't want us having it," Marlow grumbles. "Same reason the schools are underfunded and college is so damn expensive. People in charge want us to stay dumb."

Kate raises a brow. "But like... it doesn't make you smarter, right?"

"Smart is a conceptual trap," you mutter. "What IS smart? Cleantex doesn't teach you anything, but it lets you access all the information you ever failed to retain. It's retroactive photographic memory. That, and being able to vividly access old memories may allow for re-contextualization, making you better at utilizing the flood of knowledge you've always had but could never tap into."



After a long pause,

Lagi feels compelled to ask: "Whatcha need it for?"

"Potential business and/or therapeutic purposes," you reply before adding, "also ghost hunting."

Kate nods, and shrugs. "Which kinda IS her business, now. I guess? Why, you got a secret hookup or something?"

"Nah," responds Lagi, a little quieter. "Nothin' like that, but..."

Hell of a pause.

He finally spits it out. "...I might be workin' on something."

You blink. Stare. "Something like... cleantex...?"

"Yeah," he says, "but it's got a long way to go before it's that good. Or usable. The best version I've got's tailored to my brain chemistry, and the thought of testin' the earlier formulas on other people to try and generalize it... I dunno. Shit makes me nervous. I'll fuck around with my brain, but I ain't gonna ask anybody else to get on the table."

"But if somebody volunteered..." you begin,

"Even then," Lagi interjects, shaking his head. "Man. I've had some bad times testing that shit, and it could definitely get worse."

"But if somebody reaaally wanted to try it..." you attempt again,

but this time it's Cici who interjects. "Is that really a good idea with all of the um, OTHER stuff you've been up to...?"

"Yeah," Marlow concurs, "that sounds like a good way to fry your frontal lobe or somethin'."

"Nah, fuck that," Kate says. "I'm with Plaire. If the counterfeit cleantex works, it could seriously help with some shit. If she doesn't wanna do it, I will."

You really don't think you could put your mind at greater risk than it already is. You're fucking with dream magic that explodes people, so unless Lagitex (?) makes dream exploding more likely... honestly? How bad could it be...?

"I'll think about it," Lagi says, almost to himself.

"Well," you state, "I'm going to the restroom. Cici, if you could come with me in case I pass out or something--"

"Sure!"

The two of you take your leave to the Pancake Hut ladies' restroom.





Upon entering, you immediately turn to her. "So what else did you see?"

"W-what?"

You lean closer. "You either saw what was chasing the bus or you have an AMAZING story about how you managed to fit under one of those seats."

"...Okay," Cici concedes, "I yelled hide and then I couldn't hide. You got me! But the lights were really bright--!"

"Cici," you state firmly.

"You're not going to believe me," she replies, "and I'm going to sound really dumb!"

"Cici," you state even firmlier.

She sighs.


"...It looked like Mayor Parsons. And she wasn't really chasing the bus, she was just... jumping across the rooftops...? She was almost FLYING, and her arms looked like... weird... wings. Plaire, she was outrunning the bus!"

You squint.

Really mull it over.

"Did she have wings, or was it just like... dangly sleeves...?" You sort of motion under one of your arms in an attempt to help her visualize what you're talking about. Cici's face gradually lights up, her eyes widening. At least, you assume it's both eyes.

"Yeah!," she finally blurts out. "It could've just been fancy sleeves! That makes WAY more sense!"

"Good," you mutter. "Cool, cool, that means neither of us is crazy."

"Eh?"

You hazard a glance back at the stalls to make sure no one's listening in before you elaborate. "The Choir jumped bodies while I was unconscious. They tried to get into the mayor's head, but they bounced off because what the fuck and ended up in--"

You almost

don't say Temperance.

It derails your entire train of thought for a second, because you're not actually sure what name you were about to say instead. You caught yourself but sort of wish you hadn't, because... buh? What else would you call her...? The Choir, as far as you can tell, didn't catch any real names--is it possible they... osmosed it? Without realizing it? Are you almost subconsciously picking up things the CHOIR subconsciously picked up?

Does the Choir even have a subconscious, or like,

You grit your teeth and power through. "They ended up in Temperance. It's a long story but TL;DR she and the mayor put the Choir in a meat computer."

"Tee El Dee Are...? Wait," Cici interrupts, shaking her head, "why are we having this conversation in the bathroom?!"

You shrug. "I didn't know how deep into the pool you wanted to toss Bebe, and then there's Lagi."

"Right, right," replies Cici with a nod. "I don't really trust Lagi either."

"It's not that I don't trust him," you state plainly, "I don't not trust him but I don't... I just... yeah. You get it. I'll explain all the batshit details later for you and Kate and Marlow and the details ARE absolutely primo batshit but right now I'm starting to sweat about that hypothetical leftover data. The Choir made it out and I think they're back in my head but if anything was left on that computer--"

"The meat computer?"

"Yeah," you confirm with a stifled laugh, "the meat computer. The Choir might have left something behind and I don't know what or how much or if they really even left anything at all. I could ask Kate about this, but she's just gonna suggest we take it by force. I might talk her down to a stealth mission break-in type scenario, but the Choir knows waaay more about this shit than I do and even they were caught off guard by the kind of weirdness the mayor is packing. Plus, I'll be passing out--" you pretend to look at the watch you're not wearing, "...not soon-soon but soon. I need a non-confrontational answer and I need one, like, right now."

"Have you thought about just... calling the mayor...?"


. . .


. . .


She adds, in response to your silent stare, "y'know like on the phone?"







It's not a bad idea.

You take out your cell phone.

You look at it. Think about it.



You can imagine a solid handful of ways this could still go terribly wrong, but it's only a handful (in contrast to showing up in person fists a-flailin', for which the ways it can go terribly wrong are myriad and profound).

You're not sure what you could say that wouldn't reveal your connection to the Choir, but if anything's still lingering in the mayor's meat computer (would THAT be a good band name?) then you're going to be busted regardless.



On second thought, staring at your phone...



You're not sure what you should say period. Hello, I am one of the good guys please take my word for it? Yes I have a hivemind inside MY mind but it's cool and I would probably break down if I were left alone with my thoughts so they're kind of like a security blanket in my brain? The mayor's office doesn't even know the Choir is named the Choir as far as you're aware, so you don't even really know what tone you should be shooting for. Are you a mom apologizing for your kid's rowdy behavior, or are you trying to justify your concealed carry of a doomsday device? What does Parsons even think the Choir IS?

What IS the Choir, because even the Choir doesn't seem to know--

"Are you trying to call her with your mind?," Cici asks with a smile. "You've been staring at your phone for a minute now, Plaire!"

"IknowIknowIknow I'm thinking about it"


Average Rating: 5 (7 votes)
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Will Schrag | Snervalton | Skullrama | John Wood | Tom Axon | David J Wu | Sekwel | Mochi | arbit | Travis Whittaker | Avasraali | Nicolas Arboleya | Trent Brossman | Clotty Cola | TacticOwl | SomeRando | Cyrene DuVent | Swagner | thatbloodypaladin | Opunny | Kat Dixon | Harmony Petersen | ActionKermit



20th Sep 2022, 2:17 AM
Morgenstern
I was going to break up the almost 3k words with more visual stuff, but my mouse is jank, my computer's been a turd and I am going through some THANGS. And it's been weeks, so fuck it. Fuuuck iiiit.

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20th Sep 2022, 11:26 PM
Guest
Mood.

Thanks for the update.
20th Sep 2022, 2:27 AM
Swagner
Uh, we just established that the Mayor has some kind of wild super strength/speed on top of the crazy mind stuff, I say we don't go letting her know that we just tried to hijack her brain. At least until we know she won't just jump through the window of the pancake hut and kill all of us. We should probably just go home and sleep. Maybe some of the others can try that good kush in the meantime, or try to find the hidden rooms in the house.
20th Sep 2022, 2:35 AM
Xylas_Incarnum
Other than the Attic. We stay outta there if we find the entrance again. Pretty sure we're still not ready for whatever's up there yet.
20th Sep 2022, 3:38 AM
undeadDreamer
We didn't try to hijack it, at worst we tried to hitch a ride and spy on her.
Edit: Oh also we really should try to make peace with Parsons AT SOME POINT.
20th Sep 2022, 6:48 AM
Snervalton
+1 to Swagner's original post.
20th Sep 2022, 1:19 PM
We weren't trying to hijack it! Not *really*... >>;

+1 To a smoke-up at Plaire's, *and* try to find some of the hidden rooms. *Someone* saw something special about Salamander X, I say we try to find out what.
20th Sep 2022, 3:05 PM
Portal In Time
As much as I hate to say it, +1 to not calling the Mayor right now. Let's at least give them some time to settle down, and maybe ask Marlow about Lilins before showing our whole-ass hand to her. Especially when we're on borrowed time before passing out again.

As for The Good Kush, let's maybe Not add more to the chemical cocktail that is Plaire's brain right now? She's already on two separate things and could very well have her heart explode when she gets back to the Alcazar. +1 to exploring the house again before we go to bed, though - I think Kate had dibs for sleeping over this time around?
20th Sep 2022, 4:18 PM
I mean, obviously it would only be people who *wanted* to, and the original suggestion was for Plaire to nap/pass out and for the others to have some home-grown level.
20th Sep 2022, 2:34 AM
Xylas_Incarnum
I mean, we know what we're not.... most of what we're not. We've learned that we're not wholly immune to narrative causality and what we can touch can 100% touch us back if given the means to do so.

..... Which I already guessed but the others really felt the need to validate but since we're still alive all's good I suppose.
20th Sep 2022, 2:49 AM
Shiro_sama
Plaire, come on... do you really want to snitch the Choir to people who want it dissected or destroyed just because of curiosity? Please don't...
20th Sep 2022, 3:43 AM
undeadDreamer
To be fair they thought we were just some random invader. If we're in somebody's head against their will it's kind of a reasonable reaction.
20th Sep 2022, 3:51 AM
Shiro_sama
Perhaps, except that doesn't make them less pissed. Plenty of fuel to chase the lead if they get one, collateral damage be damned. So let's not have Plaire and Co take a hit for no reason
20th Sep 2022, 4:32 AM
PurpleKetchup
P&W only considered deleting us because of whatever past precedents they encountered.
We can be the first meta-consciousness construct they befriend.

Go boldly where no Choir has gone before! They're not green, but you won't hear me complaining about that.
20th Sep 2022, 4:59 AM
Shiro_sama
Can't magically make them forget all annoyance and suspicion, sadly. No befriending today...
20th Sep 2022, 8:20 AM
I though we were the only choir and everything else is either eldritch legion assholes or schizophrenic mutants?
20th Sep 2022, 9:50 PM
Cheshire777
We really have no idea how choirs work yet basically at all. We could be unique, or one of many, or an activated form of something ubiquitous, or just a different flavor of eldrich legion assholes, or I don't even know. 404 lore not found :p
20th Sep 2022, 3:38 AM
undeadDreamer
1.Was Temperance's name Liz or Voclain or anything like that?
2.I would not put the ability to grow wings past mayor Parsons with what we've seen.
3.Parsons might use power from a fragment of the first womb to create flesh if I had to guess. What you do with that information is up to you.

Tell Parsons that "some friends of mine wanted to apologize for bothering your secretary" and we can go from there. If she acts confused just mention Haunt Butterfly. Maybe tell her we used to be companions of the benevolent fragment of the first womb? She probably has the occult knowledge to recognize what that means.

(Side note: Aliens are real and Parsons being one would not surprise me.)
20th Sep 2022, 4:24 AM
PurpleKetchup
+1
Gotta start somewhere.
20th Sep 2022, 4:51 AM
Shiro_sama
-1, events that would lead to "friend of mine" being locked in the VM again and, very possibly, Plaire being interrogated too will likely not start anything other than thise whole adventure's doom
20th Sep 2022, 8:23 AM
aren't we screwed either way if no one goes to the Alcazar to defend the god thingy or you know Vainglory gets it or one of those notGods
20th Sep 2022, 1:20 PM
+1 to all of this.
20th Sep 2022, 10:13 PM
Portal In Time
Oooof. I'm really conflicted about contacting Parsons and Temperance, I still don't think we should do it. BUT, if there had to be a phone call, it would be like this. Maybe with less first womb talk, and more "We're repairing the wards on the Alcazar as we go along."
20th Sep 2022, 10:21 PM
Golden Astronaut
I think Plaire should just ask
"Why the hell were you jumping across rooftops?"
Start on a topic other than the recent mind jumping to see how they are feeling about everything.
20th Sep 2022, 3:42 AM
Macheman7
Fuck it.
I'm happy for an update, broken up visual stuff or no. It's a good one, anyway.

That said, Plaire, don't call the mayor!... You're just going to get Temperance's unanswered voicemail, if you even have SIGNAL in a snowstorm.
Go home. Or to one of your friend's homes.
20th Sep 2022, 3:51 AM
Shiro_sama
+1 to just rest for now
20th Sep 2022, 4:39 AM
PurpleKetchup
Leaving a message is fine. They're incredibly professional.
20th Sep 2022, 7:37 AM
20th Sep 2022, 4:57 AM
YetAnother
Okay, Plaire, focus. Write down what you were trying to say, look over it, then decide whether you want to call and say that.
20th Sep 2022, 5:02 AM
Shiro_sama
+1. Calm down, write down, rest, consider thrice. We're not in rush
20th Sep 2022, 6:46 AM
20th Sep 2022, 8:47 AM
Skullrama
Reasonable. No reason to call right the hell now even if we decide thats the thing to do.
20th Sep 2022, 9:01 AM
Gigafreak
It's a great way to sanity-check anything you would have said, before it tumbles out wrong! You can use the back of an envelo--

Hey wait we should probably peek inside the one Lagi gave us while we're in a bathroom, away from prying eyes
20th Sep 2022, 11:38 AM
+1 to both these Ideas
20th Sep 2022, 11:04 AM
20th Sep 2022, 1:19 PM
BJBlack
+1.

Aside from Plaire's present concern being, "I'm starting to sweat about that hypothetical leftover data," she's got more to talk about.

(Honestly, I'd tell her not to sweat it, but, well. She's acquired this much from our excursion in minutes. She might have the benefit of our good graces, but they had us for a half hour, plus unknown mystical abilities and devices. Leftover data may have occurred.)

Back in the card catalog room, she had a flashback wherein the mayor was mentioned. Apparently, Nat was involved enough with the mayor to update her (of something), then declare she'd have another chat. Also, Nat thinks her secretary's creepy. Anyway, consider asking them what happened to Nat and Lex.

She can also point out that Parson's flashy roof-traversal got caught by an eyewitness who happens to be a good friend.

Yeah, and make fun of her for sparkling in sunmoonlight.
20th Sep 2022, 1:21 PM
+1 to planning before a call, 100%
21st Sep 2022, 2:42 PM
Momerath
+1 to YetAnother's suggestions.
22nd Sep 2022, 8:14 PM
undeadDreamer
+1 Very good plan.
23rd Sep 2022, 2:28 AM
dusk_love
+1 to writing down what you want to say and thinking it over a bit, and to looking at the envelope
20th Sep 2022, 6:01 AM
Frission
Honestly pretty amazing that she knows everything we experienced, wonder if she kinda 'dreamed' it while we were out?
20th Sep 2022, 12:50 PM
PurpleKetchup
Osmotic groking be weird like that.
20th Sep 2022, 7:04 AM
Guest
Ok, let's try something to prepare you for this phone call. Let's pretend you have an appointment.
Close your eyes and try to pictures yourself going to see the mayor, sometime in the evening. Visualise the mayor office as you remember it, pillars, yellow floor with a square pattern, a framed picture on the wall. You have an appointment, so you go to the front desk to see the mayor's secretary, and you say "Hello Liz, I'm here to see the mayor."

Does it feel natural to you? Was it by any chance the name you almost said ?
If it is, don't call her that, I doubt she would like.
If it's not, well, don't call her that either, that would be weird (and it could still be her name I guess which would be weirder).
20th Sep 2022, 8:18 AM
. . .I though her name was Temperance? oh wait is this a gag on the whole osmosis thing?
20th Sep 2022, 9:36 PM
Cheshire777
We've been hypothesizing that Temperance is actually Elizabeth Voclan from BiM, or another clone in her series, or something like that.
20th Sep 2022, 7:40 AM
I thought we were a Anti-Doomsday Device?
20th Sep 2022, 12:54 PM
PurpleKetchup
From the outside we probably look like memetic brainhoppers, and from what we gathered a lot of those are not positive entities to hang around with.
We might have to defend Plaire and co. from them at one point, so having allies equipped to deal with them would be very helpful.
20th Sep 2022, 11:34 PM
Guest
Didn't Finch theorise something about the collective instinct or something? The Choir could be a manifestation of that sort of thing.
20th Sep 2022, 10:10 AM
Limrix
Or we could just not. ... Actually, what we could do is send some guest profiles over there, and have them delete any remaining traces and themselves off the computer. The guest profiles are basically nothing anyway, so those piloting them shouldn't take any damage.
20th Sep 2022, 1:13 PM
PurpleKetchup
-1 If they can track us, fine.
Contact will happen eventually (preferably after Plaire gets to explain our side of the adventure better).
Hiding our traces on their system probably falls into funny business territory, and makes us look more threatening.
20th Sep 2022, 10:59 AM
Gingerbread Conductor
Checking in. The sliver of myself that visits here is 100% intact. (I suppose it could have been copied or left an imprint, but that's the difference between the moth and the cocoon.)

+1 to various thoughts on EVENTUALLY getting in touch with the Mayor.
--Not now. Our Plaire is running on empty and should work through what she wants to say first. There are arguments for just charging up and setting the cards down, but they don't appeal to me.
--How much indirection do you want? How much vulnerability do she and the gang have?

**Marlow knows a lot of weird stuff. He should hear what Cici saw. Maybe he knows about such beings outside Wuxia movies. For that matter, some of the terms thrown around,"lilin sensors" for instance, may mean something to him.
20th Sep 2022, 11:15 AM
Snervalton
+1 to asking Marlow about weird stuff like what Cici saw and lilin sensors.
20th Sep 2022, 11:43 AM
+1 to gather info and avoid confrontation with the mayor.
it seems most fruitful at the moment.
20th Sep 2022, 1:29 PM
BJBlack
Just a reminder, Temperance had the line, "They [lilins] do behave more like light phantons than heavy phantons, if you understand correctly." Marlow's gave a little explanation of phantons a while back and used a phanton detector for much of this trip, so that might mean something to him.
20th Sep 2022, 9:37 PM
Cheshire777
+1 to asking Marlow.
20th Sep 2022, 11:06 AM
Compassion
Let's also see what Lagi gave us!
20th Sep 2022, 11:21 AM
"Dear Mayor, why are you so angery at the psychic equivalent of a pile of stuffed animals? Also the world's gonna end in like two weeks if we don't think of something so let's get on that" >_>
20th Sep 2022, 1:23 PM
I do think that letting the mayor know that we have kiiiind of a tight schedule would be good, when we do evetually contact her.
20th Sep 2022, 2:18 PM
Gingerbread Conductor
Disagree. I can't recall how we know the two week deadline, but if externally verifiable it may help a push for a short term alliance.
20th Sep 2022, 2:21 PM
Gingerbread Conductor
Apologies. I read a "not" in the dawnMachine's post that wasn't there. I do agree.
20th Sep 2022, 11:22 AM
Leah9572
I would advise against calling her now, while we're still tired and sleep-deprived and it's like 1 in the morning - if we do want to keep things secret, us being up now is a suspicious time. Maybe call her the next evening, after we've had a good night's sleep (whether inside of our house or not).
20th Sep 2022, 2:50 PM
Shiro_sama
suspicion about time is a good point, too easy for Parsons to add two and two
20th Sep 2022, 10:04 PM
22nd Sep 2022, 11:16 AM
+1 to calling her next evening. Sleep is important, especially if Parsons continues to act as she has before which will only make Plaire feel worse before bed. Dungeon therapy can only help so much.
20th Sep 2022, 12:13 PM
Foxoftheasterisk
I feel like if we call her it really really ought to be with a burner phone. Which means, not right now in the bathroom of the pancake hut.

Of course I guess we won't know if we can even afford a burner phone until we see what kind of money we got from the Salamander X sale, so let's check that first.
20th Sep 2022, 12:20 PM
Snervalton
+1 to checking money from Salamander X sale.
20th Sep 2022, 12:51 PM
BJBlack
Plaire: "I need a non-confrontational answer and I need one, like, right now."

Alright, Plaire. Make that call. You've got this.

And we've got your back.
20th Sep 2022, 12:53 PM
Snervalton
Also, what about the toilet? Did we get ourselves an artisanal toilet?
20th Sep 2022, 12:58 PM
PurpleKetchup
I suspect Kate panicking that Plaire was dead/dying pushed the luxury toilet out of the gang's mind.
It's not going anywhere, so it's just a matter of coming back when the ghost shenanigans are manageable. Just another thing to add to The List(tm).
20th Sep 2022, 1:05 PM
Snervalton
Yeah, probably. I was hoping to get everything we needed/wanted to do at the old library done all in one go, but oh well!
20th Sep 2022, 1:24 PM
+1 to asking about/going back for the toilet, lmao

Maybe not going back right this second, but we don't want the wound to get it, do we?
20th Sep 2022, 2:33 PM
Snervalton
Indeed we do not! Didn't occur to me that this was a time-sensitive thing.
20th Sep 2022, 4:22 PM
Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. The wound was pretty big, though, and our solution was slipshod at best.
20th Sep 2022, 9:40 PM
Cheshire777
+1. But yeah we could go back for it eventually anyway, unless the library explodes or is consumed entirely by the miasmic wound or dissolves due to the information rot or... y'know I'm gonna leave that train of thought alone.
20th Sep 2022, 11:37 PM
Guest
We did a sloppy job on the miasmatic wound intentionally, to see if anyone would mess with it. It's guaranteed we're going back, just no guarantees whether the toilet is still there or not.
20th Sep 2022, 1:52 PM
I'm going to be in the minority and say call Parsons, because I'm a goober who believes in the power of friendship diplomacy. With some caveats!

-Parsons has to apologize for withholding Plaire's paperwork
-Parsons has to apologize for vaguely threatening Kate's mom
-Plaire should maybe not mention hosting the Choir until Temperance has had a chance to cool off some
-If "Plaire = Choir host" does happen to come up, Plaire needs to emphasize that she's in control of herself, not us, and that she's not responsible for sending us off on our little Quantum Leap adventure into Temperance

I do agree it's a risky proposition, but Plaire knows what we know about the encounter, so if her first instinct is to cut through all the song and dance bullshit about how cagey Parsons and her are with each other and just be straight with her, then I support it.

Also, as others have said, check out the envelope. And I'll go further and suggest that maybe we should use this as an opportunity to bring Lagi into the Scooby Gang. Maybe we can help him develop Lagitex by Quantum Leaping into him (with his permission)? And I've proposed this two or three times now, but we should definitely show him our Bullshit Invisible Backyard and offer to let him use it as a cop-proof place of business.
20th Sep 2022, 2:02 PM
BJBlack
+1.

I'd nitpick the details, but overall, this is a pretty solid plan.
20th Sep 2022, 2:04 PM
PurpleKetchup
+1 for believing in friendship and diplomacy.
20th Sep 2022, 2:26 PM
Gingerbread Conductor
+1 Promising plan.

Weigh working in the possible deadline to our message.

+1 Lagi. He has promise. Is he down for the truly weird?

-1 Backyard market. How much traffic does our Plaire want? Plus, this would still have the police poking around in the area. And, the house is still re-establishing it's identity; this would murk things up.
20th Sep 2022, 3:54 PM
Snervalton
If we're going to have anything remotely resembling a fair and respectful working relationship with Parsons, never mind a friendship, then the Mayor has to not only do all the things Smileyfax laid out above but also actually hand over the documents related to the house. They are after all something that Plaire is 100% legally and ethically entitled to and a refusal to hand them over would represent a refusal to cooperate on the most basic level. We already tried approaching Parsons cautiously and respectfully on pages 45-47. The ball is in the mayor's court now to make a show of good faith, we shouldn't be seeking some kind of slave-dog relationship where we come crawling back to her no matter how she chooses to treat us. Diplomacy is a two-way street where everybody involved has to give a little.
20th Sep 2022, 7:05 PM
BJBlack
You keep saying that bit about entitlement.

"100%," consistently. "Legally," three times out of four (now, 4 of 5).

I've ignored it up to now, but let's hear your legal citations for that assertion.

I'll accept legislation, court rulings, regulations, or even executive orders. Be sure to cite whether they issue from the city, county, state, national, or international level.

In-universe, of course.



And on the practical level, the documents are hardly important anymore. Getting the ownership history was about learning about the former owners. Now that evidence strongly indicates that the noteworthy former owner was Nat AKA Vainglory AKA Player One, about the only thing to gain from the documents is the witch sisters' last name.

How is that going to help Plaire?
20th Sep 2022, 8:29 PM
Snervalton
Well, anybody in-universe with a library card is legally entitled to check those documents out of the library and I don't see why Parsons feels entitled to withhold them. But your demand for legal citations is dishonest because I explained very clearly why handing over the documents is important: it's about trust, mutual respect and a commitment to cooperation. If Parsons is committed to those things then she can just let Plaire look over the documents regardless of their legal status. We ought to be wary of anybody who withholds information from us without giving a good reason for doing so. If the flow of information in any future relationship with Parsons is just one-way in her direction then it's not a relationship of mutual benefit, Plaire is just being used. It's also disrespectful to just withhold that kind of publicly-available information from Plaire about her own house, doing so does not create a basis for an egalitarian relationship.

Also, the ownership history might not be what we assume it to be. It might be something different and important and it's best to check and find out. When Plaire went to check the documents out of the library on page 34 she said "I need to see if the library has records on my house. Like, who used to... own it. And all that." Cici refers to the documents not just as the ownership history but as the "house's file". So there could be more in there than just the ownership history. Like for example there might be the original blueprints or a floorplan, which would be very useful to have for a house that is hiding parts of itself from us.
20th Sep 2022, 11:49 PM
BJBlack
Are you now saying that, "anybody" (such as, for instance, Mayor Parsons?) "with a library card" (I wonder if the Mayor can get one?) "is

legally

entitled

to check those documents out?"




Okay, sure; I won't contest this particular legal entitlement. Let's agree. It's good. If all this time, you merely meant this, then I've been misreading you as asserting a right that was particular to Plaire (due to owning the house), and applicable to the documents when someone else has them checked out.

So — if library check-out works in-universe in the same way that library check-outs have worked for me — that means that Plaire can check out the documents... after Parsons returns them.

And Parsons isn't doing anything wrong in connection with this legal entitlement.



...



Ah, but it seems that demanding citations to back up this phrase is "dishonest," because you "explained very clearly" that the documents are important for other reasons.

why was it there in the first place if it wasn't important though

But I contested "100% legally entitled" in particular because I had an objection to that in particular. Sorry if you got the impression that I was saying, "Snervalton's entire post is invalid because of this one thing."



My other complaint was that your position may be placing undue emphasis on those documents. Maybe, as you speculate, there is more in there than I anticipate, but nevertheless, I'm of the opinion that getting hung up over this one item is tunnel vision. She'll earn trust and respect (and vice-versa) by sharing useful information and cooperating. Other useful information and cooperation is also deserving of consideration, even if this one were denied for a time.



That's all. I will refrain from criticizing the rest of your position at the moment.
21st Sep 2022, 7:57 PM
Snervalton
Well, I know that I got access to those kinds of documents when me and my brother bought our house here in Ontario. The author can make the law in this fictional world whatever he wants it to be, but why would any legal regime that covers property not grant homeowners access to publicly-held documents related to their property? That just wouldn't make any sense, so it's reasonable to believe that Plaire has a legal right to access those documents by virtue of owning her house. Obviously nobody can cite legal authorities for a fictional world for which they haven't been specified or written, that was never a reasonable expectation.

But let's assume for a moment that all rights to access the documents stem from having checked them out of the library, that Parsons is the only person who currently has any legal right to possess or view these documents. Just because she has a certain right doesn't make it ethical or reasonable for her to exercise it. Parsons could have let Plaire just look at the documents for a short while to get the information that she needed. Plaire came to the mayor cautiously and respectfully and told her that she was having serious problems with the house she'd just bought but the mayor arbitrarily refused to help her. She refused to grant her this very simple and easily-fulfilled request without giving any kind of reason for doing so. Somebody who refuses to help you out with a serious problem when they could easily do so is not a good candidate for an ally. If Parsons isn't willing to cooperate on something so simple it's unlikely she'd be willing to do bigger, more important things for Plaire. So I'm giving this issue exactly the weight that it's due.

And no, it's not a good idea to just let this refusal to divulge information slide. We've only ever asked Parsons for one thing and she's refused it for no good reason that she told to us. If an ally of ours is going to do something like that then they should tell us why. If we let Parsons get away with this then start helping and giving her information then that'll start the relationship off on unequal footing and allow Parsons to think we'll put up with that kind of treatment any time. Like I said before, we shouldn't be seeking to cultivate that kind of unequal relationship where we just accept however the mayor chooses to treat us.

And yes, it's dishonest to focus exclusively on legal entitlements and refrain from addressing the important interpersonal dynamics at play in this situation. This discussion thread began by proposing certain terms for our interactions with Parsons and if you don't engage with those concerns then you haven't engaged with what's being discussed here.
22nd Sep 2022, 7:12 PM
BJBlack
Yeah, the lack of access to public records is an issue, to say nothing of the security issue. If anybody gets to check out property files, a guy could just waltz in, check out some property or other, and come back in a week or so "finding" that the property belongs to him, or a close relative, or MondolGroup, or something. Forgery, obviously, but you could expect to see some of that when people can have unsupervised access to important records.

... That Mayor Parsons hasn't "found" any such thing in six months means she either takes her job as a public servant seriously with regards to public records, or the house wouldn't recognize forgery as legitimate. Probably both.

Maybe, in-universe, the back-justification of this system (or what portion of it that we've had the opportunity to observe) will look like, "Public records can only be checked out by public officials, in fulfillment of the duties of their office (and some official does need to update the records whenever the house changes hands). No check-outs otherwise, access needs to be supervised by a public servant (like Cici), etc."

Honestly though, the specifics aren't important, and neither are the downstream issues. Security and transparency of public records is a problem for people who have several days to waste getting the issue in front of a judge, arguing it in front of that judge, and then waiting weeks or months for a ruling.

Plus the loser appealing the judgement to higher courts, especially if we're in a goddamn hurry to save the world. Can't rush that shit.



Seamlessly seguing into the next topic, the above blurb that might wrap up the access and security issues is one speculation about the structure of the city government. Likewise, "to believe that Plaire has a legal right to access those documents by virtue of owning her house" (whatever specifics that entails), is necessarily another speculation.

You're free to speculate. Hell, I do it all the time. But up to now, you have presented it as, "Plaire is entitled to," consistently. Not, "I speculate that Plaire is entitled to," nor, "It's reasonable to believe that Plaire is entitled to."

Plaire is. You kept presenting it as a statement of fact. It's speculation, presented as fact.

If I were more like you, I might say that you — in presenting speculation as fact — were being...

Dishonest.

But I know you well enough. You weren't actually trying to mislead anybody. You just hadn't looked at these statements closely, and said to yourself, "This is a factual assertion. Is it factually accurate? Can I back this up with evidence?"

And that was the point I was getting at, when I demanded legal citations. Factual assertions need to be backed up with evidence.



I didn't contest it before, because I figured you'd examine it on your own eventually – but then, after over a year without using it, you just toss it out again.

I can't have that, obviously.



And no, it's not dishonest for me to break the rules you have in your head about what is and isn't on the table for discussion. I reject your authority on that just like on what words I can and can't use or what punctuation I can and can't use.
22nd Sep 2022, 8:01 PM
Snervalton
Yes indeed, nobody can make you address an issue when you don't want to...
20th Sep 2022, 2:49 PM
Shiro_sama
-1. Issue with such meticulous planning is that it goes ahead of time. I'd write it down for the future, in the event of us actually wanting to go diplomacy and friendship, but right now there is negative amount of base for that.
(Not counting the part of checking out the envelope, this one is not dangerous or energy-consuming)
20th Sep 2022, 4:25 PM
+1 to just about all of this. I think that waiting until we're not on the verge of passing out would be a good idea, though. Don't want Lagi's Wakey-Drug to wear off mid call.
21st Sep 2022, 4:02 AM
Another item to add to the list of "Things to talk about on the phone call if we end up making it", or else the next time we see Temperance: Maybe we ask her if the name Liz Voclain rings a bell, since (as discussed in the Discord) there's a chance she's secretly Temperance, and thus (unknowingly) had positive interactions with the Choir in the past. If true, then we can use that as a solid foot-in-the-door towards friendlier interactions.
22nd Sep 2022, 11:10 AM
+1 to the caveats if we do call Parsons. As Snervalton said, the ball is in Parson’s court here. She needs to make up for her own prior treatment to Plaire, and we can’t force her to do that. The only thing I’d add is not to go into more detail as to why Plaire isn’t responsible for what happened beyond “I passed out, and they jumped to someone else until I woke up again.” If Parsons tries to get more information or tries to use that against Plaire, then that’s being nosy on her part and indicates that she’s acting in bad faith. Plaire didn’t have to make contact after what happened at all, so she’d already be going above and beyond what would be expected of her here.
20th Sep 2022, 5:54 PM
BJBlack
Fun facts:

Cici, speaking of the mayor, back when we first met: "I never met her, though."

The mayor can't be recorded, according to Marlow (and earlier, Kate surreptitiously nabbed an audio recording that was useless), so no real chance Cici saw a picture or video.

Yet, Cici knew what she looked like.



Memory shenanigans again? Forcible on-sight recognition of her identity? Or did Plaire and Kate (and maybe others) describe Parsons's appearance in detail just that well?
20th Sep 2022, 7:11 PM
PurpleKetchup
Well, she ran for Mayor, right? I suppose she was on her campaign promotion material.
Or maybe an interview on TV (forced to be live, since recordings just don't work).
20th Sep 2022, 7:48 PM
Snervalton
There's an interesting question: Parsons can't be video recorded but can her voice and image be transmitted live? I mean, is it just that recording and storing of her image that is impossible or would the live TV cameras fail to pick her up in the first place?

Also, did her campaign material have no images of her at all or was it all artists' reproductions of her?
20th Sep 2022, 9:39 PM
PurpleKetchup
That could be a fun experiment tomorrow, Plaire could draw the mayor as best she can and see if it vanishes on its own.

Hmm.
Kate, Plaire and we remember talking to her, but the recording was only noise. City folks remember what she looks like, but she disables any picture-recording device around her.
It's not a full-blown obfuscation effect, but pretty close...
Ok, new idea: ask Cherry if she knows what the Mayor looks like. If she doesn't, the obfuscation doesn't apply to living beings. If she does, it doesn't apply to 'intelligent' beings.
20th Sep 2022, 9:44 PM
Cheshire777
There's a difference between meeting someone and even being in the same room but not talking. It seems reasonable that Cici would have at least seen the mayor before, whether in person or broadcasted live like PK and Snervalton said.
That said, keeping a weather eye out can't hurt.
20th Sep 2022, 11:39 PM
Guest
Isn't this a small town? Maybe they just did old-school campaigning. In person.
21st Sep 2022, 12:05 AM
BJBlack
Relevant to Parsons's campaign, Plaire researched it on Page 38. Highlights include, "Parsons did almost no campaigning whatsoever," and, "There's also no pictures of her online."

Admittedly, the research was online, and an in-person campaign wouldn't leave a big online trail.



I've also asked myself whether broadcasts are "recorded" and thus non-vampire-friendly, but I had to conclude that I didn't have enough information to say.
20th Sep 2022, 6:19 PM
Crestlinger
Petition to call this version of cleantex 'dirtytex.'

Can this place be our plan B meeting spot? Like if anyone of the group gets separated all are to meet here or leave a message here? Cause cheesecake pancakes!

Haunt Butterfly was likely very through when extracting us so there should not be anything left behind other than what was said, judging by that Noise 'Temperance' was experiencing at the end there.

Yeah too soon to call the Mayor yet. We Just got back 'home' and lots of other stuff going on. Plan it out. Now about Lagi's note....

No worries Morgenstern, we LIKE the almost 3k words. Lots to digest.
20th Sep 2022, 7:02 PM
Snervalton
+1 to making this place our plan B meeting spot.
20th Sep 2022, 11:40 PM
Guest
I dunno. Would Haunt Butterfly bother being thorough? It's a question of would they, not could they.
21st Sep 2022, 3:48 AM
Guest
I really like "Dirtytex", maybe a bit scary for a drug that mess with your memories but I doubt peoples who turn to homemade memory alteration drugs will care.
You could aussi call it "Lagitex", "Latex" for short.
20th Sep 2022, 9:12 PM
Moopamoop
So the mayor was really curious about what our (the Choir's) motivation was, and definitely didn't trust us. I don't know if there's much we can do to fix that, but things would honestly be easier on everyone here if all the cards were on the table (although with the methods the mayor has to obscure facts, it's hard to really verify that any of the cards she'd be playing would be, you know, honest). Maybe make it clear that we're willing to trade information in good faith, and that we'll do what we can to prove our information is valid as long as she also will.

And I guess, to let her know what our motive ultimately is.. We like you, Plaire. We think you're neat. We want you to be safe and happy, and ideally, we'd like that for as many people near you and in your world as possible as well. If we lead with that as our motive, maybe that could help to establish some sort of baseline of trust. That we are being as honest as possible and that that is our perspective that we are going to be operating from. From there, we can see what we can do with our knowledge and... possibly with our tenuous connections to some powerful players in the world to see what we can do for her and what she can do for you.
22nd Sep 2022, 6:23 PM
+1 to all of this, but especially the "we like you, Plaire" bit. You're genuinely a good person, Plaire. You're smart, insightful, funny, and just a delight to be around. We want nothing but the best for you and yours. <3
20th Sep 2022, 9:47 PM
Cheshire777
I just came up with another good potential option for who we could have picked to hijack (yeah a bit late I know). We still don't know who sent us those messages about the video games with all the 'The First Lie' bits layered in.

Unrelated, but are we still thinking that Plaire Stevens = Player 7? Just curious where that line of thought has gone with all the more recent information.
22nd Sep 2022, 8:34 PM
BJBlack
I don't recall if anybody has noted it yet, but Vainglory did say that a "half dozen" people came before Plaire.
21st Sep 2022, 2:25 AM
Make the call. You think they couldn't trace the library activity to us after Parsons was so close to the bus; after realizing one was amiss and just happening to appear there? The time for excessive caution was ages ago and it came and went the moment we stepped into the library.

Make the call. We might as well try to cement that we're not immediately hostile.
21st Sep 2022, 9:25 PM
Spyder
22nd Sep 2022, 8:17 PM
21st Sep 2022, 11:29 AM
Nicolas
MAKE THE CALL! ROLL THOSE DICE!
21st Sep 2022, 7:30 PM
21st Sep 2022, 9:23 PM
Spyder
No - don't call the mayor! Don't talk to her about us, she would have killed our connection with you with much less remorse then she would have had if she knew it was actually physically destroying us. Which is none. The woman is not something we can tangle with yet, and if she could pull us out of Temperance, she can pull us out of you, Plaire.
I don't think she needs consent or cooperation to do the "ritual" to lock us back up in the meat computer, and we can't count on Butterfly putting us back again
22nd Sep 2022, 3:45 AM
PurpleKetchup
-1
Objection! Overly pessimistic speculation.
22nd Sep 2022, 2:40 AM
DeVoid
Calling would probably not be a great idea. We likely wouldn't get much out of it a anyway. Not revealing the cards in your hand and all that.
22nd Sep 2022, 10:51 AM
Ah, a phone call. An introvert’s worst nightmare. If we’re going to call (and I don’t think that’s a good idea, for the record) then make sure to keep things vagueish until Parsons or Temperance go into more detail. We may have a burner phone, but they have a much better idea of how secure their phone line is than we do so follow their lead on details.

Other then that… I guess the best course of action would be to apologize that something related to the Spooky House accidentally got into their computers a little bit ago, and ask them if they’d be up for talking about it either over the phone or tomorrow night. It lets them know that we’re connected to you, but doesn’t give the wrong impression that we were intentionally sent by you.

We’ve already extended the hand of friendship and gotten it slapped away. The best we can do right now (and again, I’m against calling her about this at all) is offer an opportunity for her to extend her own hand of friendship. The ball is in her court to accept your offer, and it’s not on you to make friends with them. And the power is on your side over the phone; if she gets snippy or controlling, or anything that makes you uncomfortable or angry, then you can hang up on her immediately. You aren’t trapped, the way you were in Parson’s office. It is rude, but it’s much better than remaining on the phone as Parson’s tries to convince you to leave your house again.
22nd Sep 2022, 6:29 PM
It may be worth doing some experiments with regards to the Alcazar, actually, and we seem to be in an interesting position to do that tonight. I'd suggest waiting until Plaire conks out again before returning her home, to see if it's the act of falling asleep in the house that takes us to the Alcazar, of if simply *being* asleep when we enter would do it. This would somewhat necessitate a solo mission, though, unless there was a significantly deep sleeper in the group that would/could try it with her. (Who would be willing to risk a night outside the bubble, in case the drug-induced unconsciousness blocks Alcazar access entirely.) Also worth testing would be whether early removal from the house would prompt an evacuation of the Alcazar, or if Plaire and co. would get stuck. Kind of a terrifying thought, but better to know now than find out in the event someone decides to nab Plaire in her sleep.
22nd Sep 2022, 7:30 PM
Snervalton
+1 to the experiment but make sure all of Plaire's armor and equipment come with her. We bought a laundry bag a long while back for this purpose so she could sleep more comfortably without all the armor on. Put the stuff in the bag and put her arms around it when she's placed on the bed.
22nd Sep 2022, 8:12 PM
undeadDreamer
A lot of people are suggesting that you should under no circumstances do this thing. I think you should listen to us, weigh what we're saying, and then make sure you're listening to your OWN thoughts.