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File 163054550438.png - (122.48KB , 1000x1000 , 495.png )
1009279 No. 1009279 ID: 5fc3a0

6 Months Later

33-67. The first of the preliminary polls came in, and people who want to stay in town outnumber us nearly an exact two to one.
Expand all images
>>
No. 1009280 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163054551878.png - (215.92KB , 1000x1000 , 496.png )
1009280

I got impatient. I should've spent a few years with Delli improving our reputation first, before making the proposal.

Now I've got just a year and a half to do a little political magic and turn a 33 into a 60.

And Phantom’s told us that if this vote loses, we’ve got to wait 30 years before a new vote! She's taking her negotiation chip in the form of a key and going to drag every inch out of it she can. I'm sure she's going to win as hard as possible too, and isn't resting easy even when on the winning side.

And Delli probably doesn't care as much as I do. I think he realizes how dumb it sounds to just throw out immortality. Now he's acting lazy as hell, the bastard. I think Soletta's been trying to get him to think twice about this, too, she's been passively making sure everyone knows what she thinks of removing the fog.

And it's not like I'm doing much better. I've been acting like a coward not making machines out of fear that it would get into the wrong hands, so I've had to stare at these dark ages of tech for ages. I bet I could find the key if I spent a few months making a non-tangible drone replicator!

I'm restless. Seeing the goal post get so close affected my judgement way more than I thought it would. It's been so long since I had something meaningful to lose, I've got that anxiety to deal with. If I die, a month is a lot to lose now. If Delli does something stupid, losing his power would be devastating.

30 years should be nothing for me, but now I want to walk over right now to punch Phantom right in her face and get that key. I might just do it, too, if she tells me to focus on shoring up our escape plan one more time while she makes sure we never escape to begin with.
>>
No. 1009281 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163054556105.png - (241.54KB , 1000x1000 , 497.png )
1009281

Damn. I miss the sun badly considering I don't have a single intact memory of it.
>>
No. 1009288 ID: d9495a

Welp you are not off to a great start but it is not that bad. You can always lewdly torture the key info out of Phantom after the vote.

Maybe go off to the hidden secret boss land and build your drones for later?
>>
No. 1009289 ID: 582604

What machines do you think you can make? Would they still work after the fog lifts? Maybe you can reinforce your army's strength with technology. Just normal kill-things-with-guns technology. Much harder to abuse that, right?
>>
No. 1009299 ID: 894419

I mean is 30 years really that long after the thousand you've suffered through? You can turn this around, no problem. Even if you can't, you have the rest of eternity and you only need to win once.
>>
No. 1009302 ID: 9ce839

I heard that fear is a great way to persuade someone, so here's an idea. Make some hi-tech machine that operates similarly to the snowglobe, even better if it looks like one. And then use it in a public experiment. In this experiment, you demonstrate (falsely or not) that the snowglobe degrades over time, and eventually annihilates, killing everyone that it was supposed to be protecting. In this way, you'd instill fear in the residents, making them think that this place could collapse at any time and that their notion of immortality is hopeful at best.
>>
No. 1009308 ID: ea37b4

>>1009281
You don’t need to convince 28% of the population. You need to convince the head honchos and opinion havers that they’re off on their marks about this. Every bigwig you turn is gonna create momentum for your side.

Not everyone’s gonna be as rigid in this as Phantom.
>>
No. 1009309 ID: ea37b4

>>1009302
A fake scenario isn’t gonna do much: Phantom will poke at it until she finds a hole, or something close enough. If we had for reals evidence, she’d just hand us the key, probably.
>>
No. 1009310 ID: d9495a

Wait can you make a machine that lets people see what the world was like before the barrier went up? Show them the sun and the stars and all the things they are missing inside this endless haze?

You might be the only one to remember any of it and showing the populace what they are missing might help the cause. They need to be motivated long term and that is not the easiest thing in the world.
>>
No. 1009311 ID: 094652

To say the least, you don't have a strong public motivation.

The bottom line is that the majority of the public does not want to die. You are basically offering to eliminate a perpetual monument evidencing their existence, butchering their family lines, and fill them to the ears with space cancer, "because it's too painful to exist".

Your strongest counter-argument is the current status quo. It simulates death. It mimics caste and totalitarianism. It's a mockery of paradise in the form of conditioned addiction to abuse. The point you're trying to make is that there's a 33% minority because the corruption in charge has beaten the lust for death into a people that can never die just to piss them off.

But most importantly, you want to open people up to free thinking. Optimally, your compromise would be to either expand the city limits, or leave the city free for re-entry at any time. As unrealistic as that sounds, you're literally immortal supervillains blowing up a city that doesn't die. Your mind isn't so much open as it is blown across the fog.
>>
No. 1009321 ID: 2f6ee3

What about a machine that lets you see what's outside the fog?
>>
No. 1009322 ID: b26fe6

What’s really motivating people: fear of death, or fear of the people who fear losing their position of power? You’re one of those people now, so start eliminating the competition. Whack some mid level managers and bring up the standard of living so people remember that A) their situation is terrible, and B) it can improve.
>>
No. 1009397 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163072704865.png - (203.50KB , 1000x1000 , 498.png )
1009397

Maybe I should knock out our current mid-level managers and put in cool people in response. It'll make us look good, it'll show that Delli and I know how to increase the standard of living, and all that.

Wait a second, no it won't! We already did that, and Soletta ended up as the mayor! And to make it worse, she's good! She's been taking care of the corrupted remnants left in the power vacuum that the old gang leader's left that Delli couldn't cover by himself. And now that things are getting better, she's getting all the credit for it! We played ourselves.

I'd have to concoct some good reason to depose Soletta and install someone else. Politics. I don't want to play it.

I'm no civil governor. I'm in a position where I can build things more safely now, so I should. With a year and a half, I can build... let's see...

Key finding drones? That would take a few months, but it's nice insurance.

Replicatable guns? Actually we're already doing that, those are easy.

A mock dimension that operates similar to this place to show how lame it is from the outset?... I don't remember working on this town, but I know it took me and many others millenia, using skills we acquired over many more millenia. I can't make even a shitty prototype on my own. I'd be constructing a lie, and people would know I'm just trying to make shit up.

That same thing applies to something that can see outside the fog. The snowglobe we're in is so beyond my skill level, trying to do anything with it would take a seriously long time, to the point I may as well just accept defeat now and work to another vote 30 years from now.

But then again... I could emulate what it looks like on the outside. I may not remember myself, but I remember the books we have about it, and I could replicate the pictures. A planetarium. I could make a planetarium! It just won't be the same, but maybe it'll show people how much they're missing.

Right, that's enough brooding in some ancient fog pocket.
>>
No. 1009398 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163072706518.png - (236.76KB , 1000x1000 , 499.png )
1009398

The jump into the fog deposited me far from Delli, but I can fly fast now. 6 months of steady chocolate and food supply without interruption has done wonders for my energy levels, I haven't been this strong in centuries. I find the goat lazing about.

"Get up, ya big idiot!"
>"You can't make me, dumbass! Where've you been?"
"Thinking! The polls suck, and we need to fix it."
>"Yeahhhh, but how?"
"I want to make Soletta stop campaigning to stay in town."
>"Does she?"
"Yeah! Everytime she says what we're doing, it's always preluded by crap like 'and here's a word from our tyrant leaders' or 'here's some weird ideas you might never have heard before'. She undermines us, Delli, it's infuriating!"
>"Wouldn't stopping her basically be censoring her?"
"Yeah! Except we have to make it look like we're not."

This is why I wouldn't make a good governor.

>"Soletta does a good job, I don't want to get rid of her."
"I knowwww, it's awful! I can't think of anyone who would agree with us but could do half the job of making the town a better place than Soletta."
>"Wouldn't you want to make the town a worse place?"
"Huh? Damn I know I play up being the villain sometimes, Delli, but I'm not evil!"
>"Sure, sure."

He's got that look. That thinking look.

"What's on your mind?"
>"Things are getting better. For me since I'm on top and that's cool and all, but if you look around, things are getting better for everyone. Soletta's got this weird air of being totally aloof and uncaring, but she's been getting the hang of fair treatment for everyone in town and just making it a better place to live. I don't even really feel like there's as much of a reason to leave, lately."
>>
No. 1009399 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163072708336.png - (198.43KB , 1000x1000 , 500.png )
1009399

I sit on Delli.

>"Oof, you're heavy!"
"No I'm not, you drama queen. Maybe I should've extracted and kept your memories, because you forgot how crappy things can get!"
>"I didn't forget, but lately I've been shown that things don't have to be that way!"

If Delli's not motivated to leave town, the public's motivation must be rock bottom.

"They won't last. Soletta's not the first."
>"How about we just enjoy ourselves while they're good then, and if you're right, we just wait for the re-vote 30 years from now if it's just going to go back to hell somehow?"
"... yeah, I guess so."
>"What's so different about the outside world anyway? Wouldn't it be the same thing?"
"The outside is a big place. If you don't like things? You can just leave. You just get up and walk, and there's no fog to dump you back in the heart of things. Here? There's no escape, really. Unless you're one of the few at the top who call the shots or know how to get to a floating island, you're always in town."
>"Wouldn't you just end up in another town where things might not be better?"
"No. Octillions of square miles, most of which are empty."
>"What is an octillion? That's not a real number."
"It is! That's part of the problem, people don't even know what words like 'octillion' or 'free' means!"

Delli sits up and pulls me down.
>>
No. 1009400 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163072709766.png - (178.11KB , 1000x1000 , 501.png )
1009400

>"Phantom actually told me why we were losing so bad."
"Because throwing away immortality sounds bad?"
>"Actually, no! Apparently, apathy. It's not that we wouldn't have support, it's that the people who support us are all checked out. Fog dwellers mostly, or just people who sit in basements. She says that if everyone voted, we'd probably outnumber her two to one instead."
"Don't you think it's a little weird that Phantom would offer advice?"
>"Nah, she's not our enemy, you know! I wonder if it's too late to make voting mandatory..."
"How're we going to make fog dwellers vote, Delli? Threaten to blow them up?!"
>"Pillet they already blow themselves up to go back into the fog, that's the whole point of fog dwelling. Your idea won't work."

Oh that's why he pulled me against him like this, so I couldn't punch him for turning this around on me like I'm the dumbass!

"Fuck it. I'm going to build a planetarium."
>"What for?"
"Stars are cool. Maybe people will see what they're missing if they understand how much of a prison cell this is compared to the universe."
>"Haha no offense but when you start talking about stars it's got the some vibe as some nerd talking about their favorite show."
"Yeah?! If a year and a half is too soon and I've got to wait 30 years, I'm going to do something cool for myself."
>"Good! I'm getting great at sensing energy too, so I'll start grabbing fog dwellers the instant they come back to life and yell at them to vote or something."
"Tell 'em to come to my planetarium in... 6 months? No. One year. I'll need one year."
>>
No. 1009401 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163072710855.png - (139.49KB , 1000x1000 , 502.png )
1009401

Delli puts his palm on my forehead.

>"Are you sick, Pillet? It sounds like you're giving up on winning this vote."
"Nah. I remembered that even if we won, it's going to take us about thirty years to get prepped to leave anyway. So let's start preparing, so when we win in thirty, we can leave fast. Plus, I bet people will be more willing to leave when we're ready to leave."
>"Thirty years? To build a military?"
"And a shield. If the fog dissipates and it turns out we were flung into open space or fell into a black hole, we have to be shielded. We've got to be totally self sufficient and guarded at least until we get our bearings. And if we still have space invaders out there, a shield would help with that, too, so we have a good home base to fight out of. Everyone needs to learn how to breathe in space, too."
>"Is there no air in outer space?"
"Come on down to the planetarium in a year where you can ask all the stupid questions you want!"
>"I'll make sure you have a captive audience for you to be a nerd at."
"Good! Except that reminds me, I can't just build a planetarium. I do need to start setting up our defenses."

We have people who know how to turn energy into air, so we can survive in space. I'll make sure most of the population can do it. We've got weapon productions we're ramping up, so that's covered too.

We need more farms. Some of my earliest memories I have had a founder or two allude to the possibility that food was a requirement, not a luxury. I'm not sure what they meant.

We'll also need a shield barrier. A spherical barrier formed just on the interior side of the town fog should work.

I should think of other defensive systems and set those in motion before putting my effort into my own planetarium.
>>
No. 1009405 ID: 10123b

>>1009401
Giant fucking laser beam turrets.
Scout drones that constantly patrol the perimeter.
Personal shields.
Fortifications at strategic points around the edge of the fog.
>>
No. 1009406 ID: c92a02

You could say that the vote's not over until every single person in the town census has voted, if there are records of how many people were in here to begin with. Then start dragging them to voting booths that say 'like this poll to instantly die'.
This town needs some big huge rocket engines for maneuverability. And some kind of soil retainer to prevent the main land from breaking up if you end up in space. Maybe some of the buildings can transform into a giant robot!
>>
No. 1009415 ID: 36784c

>>1009401
Hey Pillet, remember that one time that Delli said that he wanted to have kids with you? Ask him if he was serious about that or if he was just saying shit.

If he still wants that, then ask yourself if you’d be willing to start a family with him some day?

Anyways, back on topic…
>>1009405
These sound good.
>>
No. 1009423 ID: fa88b3

Is Delli not wearing anything?
Also voting for big lasers and fancy fortifications.
>>
No. 1009469 ID: 15a025

Kill two birds with one stone, weaponized farming tech.
>>
No. 1009502 ID: 9ce839

>I know it took me and many others millenia, using skills we acquired over many more millenia.
I thought that the town had to be created quickly as a response to an incoming invasion.
Altho it probably wouldn't be possible to make another dimension when already inside a pocket dimension.

How to get everyone to vote? That's simple. Just promise them free chocolate. Or whatever else they'd want, like your nudes.

Btw, how is the cultivation of power clusters going?
>>
No. 1009609 ID: d9495a

You should make the planetarium the center of the defense grid then. Build it to have a double purpose. It can show people what the real world was like for the next 30 years. And then when everyone is ready to leave it will be a familar place to control all the defenses and will be covered in sensors and telescopes so that it can be the recon command zone.

Also see if your boyfriend wants to have kids yet.
>>
No. 1009863 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163112947294.png - (235.49KB , 1000x1000 , 503.png )
1009863

"Better weapons..."
>"Hm?"
"Write it down, Delli! We have things to build. The town shield has to have pockets in it for extra things, like entrances and exits, and rocket engines."
>"Rocket engines. Are we going to be a ship?"
"We might be! And drones. A million drones. Once the fog is off, we'll launch them outward."

I look over and see him write down 'bunch of drones.'

"A million drones, Delli! Do I sound like I'm joking?"
>"You do!"
"I'm not! We need a bunch to scan in the town, around the town, and just launch a shitton outward if there's things around so we can get a fast map of the area. Add those commas! The shield should have basic fortifications too, including weapons. Not just miniguns and whatever, I'm talking big laser cannons. Like a couple miniature orbital cannons around the perimiter. And remember, we have to think in three dimensions, if there's threats out there they could come up from below. I want this place to be able to light up like a pyrotechnics show. I want weapons on the perimeter, in people's hands, on our farming equipment!"
>"Yeah you absolutely sound manic now."
"And you sound lazy! You aren't even doing the work, you just have to say the word and make it so."
>"Oh, yeah! I can just tell people to make a million drones, and they won't say no, huh?"
"That's the spirit. They'll think you're joking if you show up in nothing but boxers, so put on some pants first. How's the power cluster cultivation going?"
>"They're happening. We'll have some strong people by the time we leave, whenever."
"Good!"

... Is my jacket gone? Damn goat's flexing on me by ripping off my clothes so fast I don't even notice.
>>
No. 1009864 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163112948403.png - (220.04KB , 1000x1000 , 504.png )
1009864

I'm too excited to build stuff, so I get out of here before Delli gets too randy. Something I nearly forgot hits me, so I stop and turn my face around a hundred and forty degrees. He said it bothers him that I can do that, and he should know better than to show weakness to me!

"Oh and if you go hunting fog dwellers, promise them chocolate or something. Promise the whole town some chocolate if they vote!"
>"What if they don't want chocolate? What if they want your nudes?"
"Then give it to them!"
>"I was joking!"
"I'm not! That's weird motivation anyway, the only one who'd have to see me nude to vote would be you."
>"I'd ask if your offering, but your freaky neck is making me reconsider!"

The grin on my face spells out to him that he should expect nudes soon whether he asks for them or not.

"Speaking of you being a big hornball, were you serious about wanting kids?"
>"Uh... I mean, yeah, I sorta blurted that out, but..."
"You don't need to get all bashful on me. If you want kids, then that should be motivation to get out of here, because I'm not having any until we're out of town."
>>
No. 1009865 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163112950912.png - (187.29KB , 1000x1000 , 505.png )
1009865

I fly off, I've got planetariums on the mind still so I want to think of where to plant it. Somewhere high up, I think. I doesn't matter, but it should set the mood.

The planetarium itself isn't tough to build. I'll get help anyway, I think. Plus, if I build it up here on the orbital cannon, it's a good spot to double as a town defense control center. Even if that tacks on several years of building time, we need one anyway and it's not like I'm remaking the whole town and its millenia of production and...

Come to think of it - I don't remember anything before my first failed rebellion, but I still remember conversations. From what I remember of those, it took millenia to build the town, but also we built it quickly to avoid an oncoming invasion? That doesn't line up, and there weren't really any books on that topic. What a conundrum.

Maybe I'll learn the truth about that someday, but for now I call Phantom.

>"Phantom speaking. Is this Pillet?"
"Yeah! Hey, I'm going to build a planetarium. Do you have any books on the solar system?"
>"A plane... oh! Like a miniature model of the solar system that visualizes what everything looked like, like where the sun is in relation to the planets?"
"If I were talking to you in person I think I would kiss you for knowing what the hell a sun is."
>"... I'm glad we are not speaking in person."
"Hahaha I'm joking, can we meet up?"
>"Yes. Please come to my library, I actually have a book I wanted to show you about that exact topic."
"Whoa, really? On my way!"
>>
No. 1009866 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163112952595.png - (306.27KB , 1000x1000 , 506.png )
1009866

I grab some clothes on my way over. I've been working with Phantom occasionally, and she's started to trust me here, which is nice. The secretary leads me deep into this book dimension where Phantom's at. There's an absurd amount of books here, but there's also a whole lot of nothing. One of the rows I just passed is contains 40 straight feet of all civil law from 800 years ago.

Phantom is sitting at a table, so I join her. She's got a single book in the middle that she pushes to me.

>"Is there any way I can help build a planetarium? It is just that, right? It doesn't have an ulterior purpose?"
"It's half for me, half to show how awesome the outside world is to make people vote to leave."
>"That's..."

Phantom looks down and thinks.

>"That's completely respectable, as long as you don't lie about what things are like."
"No need to lie! Space is awesome."
>"It seems a little scary to me."
"Scary? I think you might have some weird ideas about what's scary."

She pushes the book in front of me.

>"This book only got catalogued a couple of months ago. It was written in an ancient language about 2.4 thousand years ago. We've largely translated it, but we wanted you to fact check it. I'd love to help build a planetarium, if you needed help. This just seems so abstract when we can't see what space is like, so it's a little hard to believe it's all truth. I truly thought everything in here was made up at first."
"I guess it would, but that's why I want to see it again."

I open the book.

A lot of preamble, the guy's basically doing an autobiography to sell his credentials, yadda yadda, there's the table of contents, and oh, good! He has a foldout map of the solar system.
>>
No. 1009867 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163112954145.png - (216.18KB , 1000x1000 , 507.png )
1009867

Let's see, there's the - that's not the sun. The 'center'? Wait, he's calling our planet the 'center'? And it's - oh, no. It's in the middle. All the orbits are squigly, this is -

Wait, 'gods' that drag the moon across the -

Why is the sun's orbit between 2 planets smack in the mid -

Why does it say Heaven up here?!

Hell?! The sun goes down to Hell?!
>>
No. 1009868 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163112955260.png - (315.19KB , 1200x1000 , 508.png )
1009868

>"What does it say?"
>>
No. 1009869 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163112956677.png - (318.61KB , 1200x1000 , 509.png )
1009869

>"Ahhh?!"
"GARBAGE."
>>
No. 1009871 ID: 465a14

Well better explain space properly to her then.
>>
No. 1009872 ID: d9495a

"Its some assholes fiction novel! All bullshit and creative fictional worldbuilding! Someone wrote a fantasy novel and because I am the only one who remembers anything people have the wrong idea about everything!

Man this just doubles down on the need for a real museum that shows actual stuff that existed. Who knows how many assumptions the populace has about things. We need to teach them the basics before anyone leaves to avoid disaster!
>>
No. 1009874 ID: 9a2966

Tell Phantom that it frustrates you how much has been lost to practically everyone but you, and the last thing you need is some clever past douche muddying the waters.

>Point into bin
That there was someone trying to reinvent a particular wheel called 'religion' based on probably old verbal tales and scarce memories, and it's basically social order make-believe in a can. Very little of it could - or should! - be read as true. More like a shadow of truth, if that.

Anyway, you're motivated now more than ever to explain some things about what's it like on the outside, because it's fucking bullshit that people don't know more about what it's really supposed to be like.
>>
No. 1009875 ID: a94c98

Please, Pillet, it might not be scientifically accurate but it's still an important part of history.

Hm. Speaking of science... how sure are you that all your energy conversion and absorption and such will still work if you leave? What if it's tied into the fog and so on? Like, you're pretty much a closed system, it looks like, but even assuming that there should be like some thermodynamics bullshit that means everything should be decaying into an even spread of heat energy that can't be reclaimed. Maybe the fog absorbs and repurposes energy that would normally be lost, somehow? You're talking about being in space maybe when you leave... what about maybe the rules of reality changing? Like, heck, how was that island you were sitting on floating there but still exerting gravity on you? You have to be absolutely certain you're not taking anything for granted that might go away.
>>
No. 1009876 ID: 6c227a

This book is TOO old. It's probably really valuable or something to a nerd like you, but it was written back when 'science' was just making up stories based on casual observation and things you wanted to be true. All smug logic and no testing or proof.
>>
No. 1009877 ID: 5232cd

That wasn't fiction. That was ancient history. A map of the solar system founded on the belief that the earth is at the center of the universe. Observed orbits appeared to wiggle due to this false belief. The heaven/hell thing is religion shoehorned into it.
Not exactly trash, since it's valuable in a historical context. Worse than useless outside of that context though.

The heaven/hell thing might be why Phantom thinks space is scary. You're going to have to ask for pen and paper so you can illustrate the true nature of space. First the solar system, then expand that concept to the concept of the galaxy, then the universe with millions of galaxies in it. Incredibly vast, so vast that we can't actually see all of it because light from the most distant galaxies hasn't reached us yet.
>>
No. 1009878 ID: 9a2966

Also, a sun? A REAL sun? It's fuck-off big giant ball of collected matter - largely gas - that got so big it lit itself on fire from its own weight - by initiating a process called nuclear fusion - and will burn for literally billions of years until it runs out of fuel and as a last hurrah it will explode and take most of what's around it with it.

That's what'll swallow us all in the end if we vote to stay in here forever, probably.

Anyway the heat and rays from that ball of fire is thrown through space and is known as sunlight, starlight, what-have-you (suns and stars are the same, although there are several types of stars/suns).

Without that sunlight people on planets - less-giant-but-still-giant-ball, collection of matter - some gas, some not - would be freezing popsicles, because atoms don't move without -- you know what, just gonna start with the solar system stuff. Basic physics can come after basic cosmology.
>>
No. 1009881 ID: 9a2966

>>1009877
>>1009877
The fact this was made and found inside the haze makes it something that was re-invented, not 'actual' history from the outside. There's no proper sun/solar system in here, after all! Probably someone with a fair bit of memory left - or a great imagination - came up with it.
>>
No. 1009885 ID: 9ce839

Something tells me that the mentioned credentials don't include an 'astrophysicist'. Tell the Phantom that you understand why she was scared of space as anyone would be when looking at such foolishness. Does she have any other books on the topic? Maybe you'll have to visit your memory database again...

Well, if the planetarium doesn't pan out, then maybe you could make some VR equipment so that people could at least explore the whole planet if they're not interested in the stars. Planets are pretty large things in their own right I think.
>>
No. 1009952 ID: b72032

Tell her that if this book is somehow pre-Haze, then it's also pre-science, written before people actually knew what's going on.
>>
No. 1009958 ID: 53560f

Demand several stacks of paper, a sox of pens, a proofreader and a publisher!
We will write the book containing the entire knowledge of space and our solar system ourselves just so people don’t accidentally believe what is probably ancient religious text.
Though maybe fish it out of the bin, dust it off and put it somewhere in the fiction isle so she doesn’t have a breakdown immediately.
>>
No. 1010269 ID: 15a025

Take the book back out of the trash and show Phantom the solar system fold out. Explain to her how what's there is very ancient history before science was really a thing.
>>
No. 1010574 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163165755922.png - (186.41KB , 1000x1000 , 510.png )
1010574

"I've got to explain some real space science to you!"
>".... I am so glad... that I didn't trust you with a book that I haven't digitized yet."
"I'll pull it out of the trash if you promise to put this in your fiction section. This shit is worse than false."

Phantom takes a deep breath. Then another. Now she's being dramatic. Then again, so am I.

>"Okay. Okay, I'm fine. Don't you ever do that. I don't care if it's false, it's historical."
"Yeah, right in that point in history halfway between haze creation and now, where people still remembered pre-haze things but nothing about how they worked, so they made stuff up. Heaven? Hell? Give me a break."
>"What? Heaven?"
"Did you translate it literally as 'upper haven'? That was just the religion of the millenium."
>"So... I'm sorry, that's a lot to take in, the language seemed literal. So that book was wrong, there isn't a star chariot that pulls the sun?"

I turn my face. I must not laugh at Phantom and her ignorance.

"No. Goodness, Phantom, no. Just regular gravity, which I'm pretty sure works different in here."
>"I'm almost relieved. The book said the sun was 50 million miles away, but it still appeared to be the size of a knuckle miles away that somehow looked like a couple of centimers wide at arm's length."
"That part's true."
>"Pillet, do you realize how big something would have to be, to appear like that?"
"2 million miles in diameter!"
>"You're serious?"
"Yeah!"
>"That's seriously scary. And it's a light source?"
"More than that! It's a big explosion from being so heavy with gas that it lit itself on fire! It's burn for millions of years and then - I don't know explode or something?"
>"An explosion that explodes when it stops exploding?"
"That does sound weird I admit. I'll have to think on that. But this is why I'm going to build a planetarium, because now that I'm done fighting gangs, I have time for this."
>"I'll help. Until you trash anything in here again, I'll help."
"Haha, thanks."

Maybe Phantom was right about not letting me in here right away, I can't help myself but clean up litter. For now I pull the book back out, show Phantom the solar system map, and start setting some things straight.
>>
No. 1010575 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163165757693.png - (155.58KB , 1000x1000 , 511.png )
1010575

The work on the planetarium begins! At least I have the luxury of planning now, so I lay down the basic ideas. I'm going to install VR booths too for people, but it'll have a traditional dome as well. And a good narrator! No one will want me to listen to it.

Maybe it's because I'm me, but now I'm getting a lot of help. Delli sends his resources, Phantom has her nerd team scour any historical documents for more stuff, and various organizations around town put in advice for how to run a facility like this. It's been a long time since I made a construction that wasn't purely for utility or combat. It's nice.

It takes a couple months, but we finally start fitting the top of the orbital cannon to house the plantarium slash microplanet defense systems. We have some placeholder domes to see what it'll look like in the end, but it'll be some time before we begin the real construction. But we're getting there! I'd be a damn liar if I said I wasn't excited.
>>
No. 1010576 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163165758423.png - (129.19KB , 1200x1200 , 512.png )
1010576

I sleep pretty well now, and I almost forget about the vote completely. I'm not too sore at myself for that.
>>
No. 1010577 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163165759202.png - (203.47KB , 1200x1200 , 513.png )
1010577

I'm woken up early as heck by a phone call. I don't know who's calling me this early, but it better be a good reason.

"Who's this?" My speech was definitely slurred, there, oh well. I'm still half asleep.
>"This is Pillet, right?"
>>
No. 1010578 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163165760598.png - (271.37KB , 1200x1200 , 514.png )
1010578

"Who's asking?"
>"That hardly matters right now. I'd like you to take a look at something to see if it's real."
"Better be good, it's 5 AM."

I'm sent an image.

It looks like an anti-erosion box that early civilizations used. There's some text, and he's sent me another image zoomed in on that text. Apparently this is some Phantom goon with no sense of time or consideration. They sound familiar, but I can't place my memories.

Hold on.

The text is in the earliest language I remember. Loosely translated, it reads 'External Memory of Pillet, Part 14 - Continued revelations of a traitor.'

I'm wide awake now. I refresh my memories of this language and read it again. Not just is this perfectly formed speech of the era, this is the chiselled handwriting of the founder who I vaguely remember being most involved in making me extract my memories.

>"Well?" The voice asks.
"Give me a minute." I snap. I review my memories, trying to find this voice.

Crook! That ex-ganglord, turned instantly into a bum by Delli.

I want my memories back unimaginably badly. And in spite of that, I hope that Crook is just making an elaborate hoax to try and scam me. For his sake, he'd better not be holding out on a piece of my life.
>>
No. 1010580 ID: 96c896

>>1010578
Several questions:
1, where did he find that?
2, what kind of reward does he want for finding it?
3, does he realize just how important this was? Not just for you, for everyone. He better not lose it before you come to claim it.

Yes, phrase number 2 specifically like that. Give him the opportunity to look like a good guy.
>>
No. 1010581 ID: d9495a

"Welp give me your pitch already."

Anyway to track this guy? Like shaking awake your superpowered boyfriend and having him assist?

As for the memories where would they even been located? If this is from one of the recent digs Phantom can point you in the direction of where her crews were digging. But could there be a recently discovered island out in the haze were the leader hid stuff that someone discovered? If this creep only has the one memory why was it found and not others?

Also what format is that memory? Easy to destroy? Could it be a trapped energy memory that would mess you up?
>>
No. 1010582 ID: 9ce839

Who was a traitor to whom depends on who you ask, but it seems somewhat suspicious that such a box would only be found now after all this time and after all the effort you made destroying the past. I'd also assume that your phone number isn't public knowledge, so whoever is calling is someone you know well.

Answer that you can't immediately rule it out as fake so if such a box can be obtained you'd be interested in it.
>>
No. 1010607 ID: 96243c

>>1010578
Maybe not give Crook any idea of precisely what he’s got and how badly you want it. He must have some clue, since he’s approaching you and all, but no need to make his grift easier.

«Sure looks like some still-functional early post-haze tech crap. Make Phantom an offer for it, she and her nerrrds are all over ‘historical’ artifacts like this. Even if they’re fulla shit.»

Prevailing upon Phantom’s curiosity might be easier than Crook’s greed.

«Anyway, haven’t seen or heard from you in a while, Crook. How’s the griftin’ life going?»
>>
No. 1010735 ID: 09fa80

Maybe we can get some help with this one? Whatever is in it comes secondary to the fact that it is rightfully ours.

Message Phantom and give her the rundown, offer to donate it to her library if she helps you retrieve it. After all, we can trust that she'll preserve it and it's contents.
We might even get her trust us a little more.
>>
No. 1010736 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163177000953.png - (204.21KB , 1000x1000 , 515.png )
1010736

I step out before Delli wakes up on me. I doubt he can help. He's got the power, but trying to get his help is like using the orbital beam-cannon to find a needle in a haystack.

"Okay, Crook, I won't bother asking how you got this number. Convince me this is real, starting with where you found this."
>"You must remember the old neon helix district."
"The place that was hollowed out centuries ago and everything of value was taken?"
>"Yes, so you also know my grandfather was one of the diggers, there. He found it and kept it for himself." Damn, that's believable. His grandfather was the worst kind of opportunistic treasure hunter. A successful opportunistic treasure hunter.
"Is that the only one you have?"
>"If I have others, I'm saving them for later."

I'm glad we're on the phone, because I'm a lot better at keeping my voice level than my face.

"That looks like some early tech. Make Phantom an offer, she's all over historical arti-"
>"Don't play stupid. I know what this thing says. You want it more than Phantom."
"Some old memory I probably remember anyway? By the way, it's been awhile. How's your grifting life been going?"
>"Cut the garbage. I know what this text says, I know you were forced to make your own memory backups, and I know you've been digging through garbage like a starving animal to find any scraps of memories. I know how important this is to you."
>>
No. 1010737 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163177005709.png - (133.41KB , 1000x1000 , 516.png )
1010737

I nearly crack a tooth. He could only know all this from shit I told Delli and Phantom. All of this easily could've slipped through down the line to someone in good with Crook!

This is why I don't like to share information, not even with Delli! Especially not with Delli! I have more enemies than friends, and knowledge about me gets used against me! Goddamnit, the founders encrypted everything they stored in the actual memory vault, why didn't they encrypt this one?

I don't have the techniques to track this object down. I can find Crook if he's stupid enough to be in town, but that memory could be stored in a fog pocket I don't know about.

The memory tank it's in looks real. Tough, but not unbreakable. It could just be a trap activated on trying to consume it, but the worst trap anyone can make here can't do anything worse than kill me.

The importance of this is lost on him. A memory that the founders forced me to removed could reveal things from before this town was made. I can't verify it for sure without being in front of it, but it's worth pursuing even if it's some bad trap or a fake.

>"Well?"
"I think it's weird that you're just bringing this thing up to me now, after how many centuries?"
>"This was always an ace in the hole against you, in case you ever managed to beat us down. Now I need power, and you have power. It's been several months. Delli should know how to make energy clusters with his own power, right?"
"That's the reward you want for it? Energy clusters?"
>"You think this is a reward? I'm selling this to you, and this is my price. I want sixty percent of Delli's power, plus sixty percent of the unclaimed power you have laying around in town. Don't scoff, think about it. You've always said you'll patiently try over and over to beat us down as long as it takes. And now you did it, and you can afford my price. All you have to do after that is beat us again, right? Over and over you'll try, as long as it takes. You'll have infinite chances. Now, this." He slaps some metal. "This is your only shot in history to get this memory. If you don't take it now, I'm not so sure you'll get another chance."

This bastard isn't funny pushing me. He doesn't know what he's dealing with. I know he hasn't consumed any of my memories. I know, because if he did, he wouldn't be talking to me like this. He'd be shutting his mouth, hiding in a hole, and praying to every god this town ever made up that I wouldn't find out he ate my memory. He'd pray, because he'd know what I can do in order to get them back from his head.

I'm going to lose my temper if this keeps up.
>>
No. 1010738 ID: 465a14

>>1010737
cool, murder time
>>
No. 1010739 ID: c92a02

Infinity is a long time to regret toying with me, Croc.
>>
No. 1010741 ID: 96c896

>>1010737
That's a shitty deal. Once he has sixty percent of Delli's power he can *kill* Delli and take the rest. ...Well, hold on. What if Delli gives you a big chunk of his power first? Crook can't possibly know exactly how much power Delli has, or how much you have. So if he gets less than the true amount, how would he know? Then you can protect Delli, and/or give him back some power once you're away from Crook. Also you can just use up most of the spare power clusters instead of giving them to him.
Alternatively... could you beat Delli if he was 60% weaker? Maybe you can just beat up Crook and take the power back once the deal is done and you have your memory.

Still, even if you're planning to stiff him on the deal or backstab him afterwards you need to string him along as if you're going to honor it.
Tell him you'll counter-offer twenty percent, and a truce. He's upset about you beating him down, so how about you don't do that anymore? There isn't even that much reason to now. Times have changed. Your methods have changed drastically even if your goals aren't that different, and he should change his methods too, if he knows what's good for him.
Some back and forth should follow, and I expect him to settle on 40% of Delli's power on top of whatever else you've got lying around. If he actually goes for the truce in exchange for a lower percentage, then maybe you can get out of this relatively unscathed.

On the other hand if you tell Delli about the deal he might just go aggro on them. That mostly worked last time?
>>
No. 1010750 ID: be4fd4

>>1010737
«In case you didn’t notice, I’m not actually in charge this time. I haven’t won yet, and despite that I’m closer than I ever was to -some- kind of resolution to this eternal haze we foisted on ourselves. Asking me to betray one of my better buds through this eternal hell and trash the progress for something that, yes, would help me gain a better understanding of my past, the outside, how this fucking place was made, if they’re the RIGHT memories, is...»

Just peter off, then say, sweetly:

«People get real awful if they don’t think there are any meaningful consequences to their shitty attitudes, Crook. Take CARE of that thing until you’re ready to give it up for a price I can swallow, or you’ll find out precisely how shitty I can get when I have LESS than nothing to lose. Hint: very.»

Sigh.

«Come down to the planetarium for salespitch #2. After it’s finished. I so seldom get to build shit. And you don’t know shit. So let’s both win for once.»

End the convo, don’t let him get a word in edgewise. If he trashes it he trashes it. If he uses it... well, keep an eye out for someone pulling advanced tech shenanigans.
>>
No. 1010760 ID: d9495a

Pillet you need to calm down a bit. You have survived for centuries without these memories and have had many long talks with Delli about learning to live with not knowing your past.

We can't give him power we don't have. Delli is not likely to react well if he finds out you are being blackmailed. Didn't he figure out how to completely destroy people in here who fucked with you long long ago?

Anyways my initial thought is bring this public. Post the picture of your memories and Crook's offer and put it up for a vote. Let the people know that Crook is holding everyones past for randsom for a shitty power play. That he is doing his best to ruin a good thing for everyone.

Sure it makes it more likely that people might eat some of your memories. But you can drag them back out of them right?
>>
No. 1010765 ID: 0681b7

"You don't know how those work. You're a desperate little worm, and I've got the power now. I've got enough memories to understand what you're dealing with, even when you don't. So cut the shit and make me an offer that isn't an invitation to bury you colon-deep in fog and leave you there until it's time to clear it.

You know, when your name is scrubbed clean. And I've gotten back what's mine.

Here's my offer: regular candy and a place on society's table when you show yourself.

It's more than you gave me.
>>
No. 1010777 ID: c0641b

>>1010737

Why not? Been a while since we really hit the pressure release, and if there's some loose ends dangling about, sounds like they need to get tied up nice and tight.

Preferably around Crook's throat.

(That, and even if it's just a lesser memory, it might well be exactly what we need to get everyone to realize the kind of purgatorial hellworld they've found themselves in.)
>>
No. 1010779 ID: a94c98

You've had that this whole time, Crook, and you've never used it before now? Not in all this time? Because I know for a fact there are times when you would have been desperate to be on my good side, back when people knew better how bad an idea it was to really fuck with me. Or to be on Delli's good side, through me, when people knew even better not to piss him off. Do you remember any of that, Crook? Do you remember how happy you should be that he's so easy-going these days? Even if you don't, there was a time you did, and if you had that under your ass back then you'd have thrown it at me begging for mercy. The only way that's not a fake is if you just found it, or re-found it, which is long odds and even then I'd say it's half chance it's a fake anyway and you've forgotten you had it made yourself.

You're not getting 60%, Crook, not only because I'm 95% sure you're selling me a fancy box but because you'll just use it to try get the rest. Give me a smaller number, and give me someone you'll split it with, and we'll pick out an intermediary to handle the trade, and then maybe I'll consider your trade. I'm not going to throw this town under your bus, and I've got plenty of confidence we'll manage to win this vote one day or another - I wouldn't want to take all this down unless I did win a vote for it. Which means the only thing at stake is one, my personal peace of mind, two your neck, and three the possibility that there's some crucial little detail in my stored memories that'll tell me something important about breaking the fog, the last one of which you should consider in advance of the possibility that some day you'll die with the rest of us and your last thoughts will be 'oh man I fucked myself and everyone I know because I wanted to feel like a big fish in our little pond again, if only my dick hadn't been so small and insecure'. And, oh yeah, for however long we will be staying in here? You'll be on my shit list. The special one. It'll be fun, Crook. Things to really be passionate about are the most valuable thing in here, and you're giving me a gift right now.
>>
No. 1010781 ID: 96c896

As an ultimate threat, you could describe what Delli did to the people that took that memory from you.
>>
No. 1010800 ID: d052fd

You're angry, and that's reasonable, but he's making you that way on purpose. Don't give him what he wants. Deep breaths, think this through logically.

The problem here is that Crook believes that this is a "stop at nothing" sort of bargaining chip for you. He's trying to get an unbalanced deal for it because of that. If you can disavow him of that notion, you can just turn it into business. He's a former mob boss, he should appreciate business. You should make it clear to Crook that you've already made your choice between your past and everyone's future, and you're not going to sacrifice the latter for the former. That doesn't mean you don't want both, but that's the problem with trying to bargain with someone who has a cause. You're not going to accept a deal that jeopardizes it.

It should just be game theory for him at that point. On one side of the chart, the cost is that he's on you and Delli's bad side for decades or more, and the reward is he gets to huff a low-rez replay of a memory that he can't even use (but don't even tell him that's a possibility, he may not know). That's already a bad deal for him. On the other side of the chart, the cost is that someone he dislikes gets something they want, and the reward is your gratitude, the current reigning demigod's gratitude, and...well, you're open to offers that further balance that equation in his favor, but the high bar there falls somewhere south of "enough superpowers to destroy you and your friends." He probably just wants the power to get back on top like he was before, so maybe play up offers that let him be in charge of something?
>>
No. 1010892 ID: 094652

All of this depends on the "Freedom of Truthful Speech" that the gangs are legitimizing their 'elected' reign on.

So ask if you can talk to Delli and your gang first. If he refuses, refuse back. Do not make decisions that betray your friends without free discussion and asking their permission first.
>>
No. 1010979 ID: 15a025

Tell him this is Deli's choice, not yours. Then tell what happened to the last person back then that messed with your memories.
>>
No. 1011674 ID: f57349

Share the photo as publicly as possible, captioned: "All-you-can-eat 30-year supply of chocolate available as reward for information leading to the retrieval of this item."
>>
No. 1011725 ID: fbd643

He thinks he has leverage, and critically, he things you have leverage when you don't. Soletta has political leverage, Delli has power leverage, you- have knowledge you can leverage, but you need to regain it. Fuck, you do need this, but Crook thinks you have leverage over Delli to make him pay the price he's asking for when you don't.

I think the best bet here is to vent a bit, say you need to talk with Delli first, make it sound like you're frustrated with your lack of control over the situation, then arrange a time to call again.

That'll give you time to plan. No one (besides Crook) wants to see Crook with all that power, to the point where you might even be able to get Phantom to help you with reclaiming your memories.
>>
No. 1011826 ID: 6c227a

You seem to think, like a lot of people, that I can't kill you in a way that matters. Which seems like a failure of critical thinking when you are presenting stolen memories as a bargaining chip. You KNOW that a mind can be taken from you, and the person you are will be gone.
>>
No. 1011849 ID: 9ce839

50%. The best you can offer is status quo.
>>
No. 1012371 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163337676515.png - (69.27KB , 1200x1200 , 517.png )
1012371

"Please hold."

I have to calm down, so I put him on mute. I'm going to do some overkill on Crook if I don't. I see the problem. This situation reminds me of what the founders did to me, but this isn't a founder's atrocities. This is Crook, who by comparison is a toddler waving a gun around. I can't be mad at ignorance when I've hidden so much knowledge.

I make some coffee to calm down.

I unmute the phone.
>>
No. 1012372 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163337678673.png - (144.96KB , 1000x1000 , 518.png )
1012372

"I'm back."
>"Don't mute me again."
"Don't try to do business at 5 am! I'm not going to jeopardize the town and backstab a buddy of mine for it. 60% is a joke, you'd just kill Delli for the rest. I'd consider 20% at the most, but speaking of Delli, it's not my power to give. I've given up on getting my older memories back already, and you know what Delli did to the last people who messed with my memories."
>"The founders, I know. Unlike them, I don't have so much to lose."

The naive little idiot. It was an empty threat, anyway. Delli only destroyed the founders by destroying their external memories, then repeatedly killed them until they lost all their internal memories too. Crook has no external memories, and Delli forgot how to repeatedly find someone after they resurrected. Even I'm not entirely sure how he did that.

Delli can't repeat it on Crook, but I can do nasty things to him. I could threaten him, now, but if he took them seriously he might do something stupid.

"20% won't be much at all. You all control the food, and the energy levels of those in power are continually rising. My alternative deal is a steady supply of energy clusters, paid out over...."
>"Hold it. It's 5 in the morning. If you want to do business, do it at business times! I'll be at the planetarium. Call me later unless you want to give me your number."
"I'll give you mine. Call me."

He recites it and hangs up without giving me more shit.
>>
No. 1012373 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163337679560.png - (152.70KB , 1000x1000 , 519.png )
1012373

I down the coffee. I must've woken Delli up, since I hear him rounding the corner, and I know he doesn't get out of bed before 6 AM unless someone throws him out.

>"Hey Pillet. What's going on?"
"Crook's got some ancient memory of mine. Now we're in negotiations, and he thinks it's cool to start them at 5 am.
>>
No. 1012374 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163337680317.png - (120.78KB , 1000x1000 , 520.png )
1012374

He grabs my coffee just so he can take a sip. A sip with his stupid face pointed right at me.

>"Why?"
"I know I just said it's 5 AM Delli but come on, ancient memory, could predate the town, it might have information!"
>"Well yeah duh come on, I meant why are you negotiating?"
"Because the bastard's asking too high of a price!"

Wait a second. Why am I negotiating? It must be my morning brain being slow, but I can force the information out of Crook if I wanted to. I just need to find him or someone who knows where he is.

>"Damn, girl." Another sip. "I didn't know you fought assholes like that for decades just so you could chat with them."
>>
No. 1012375 ID: df19cd

He's almost right. Right now, the most valuable thing he has is the very thing he's threatening to destroy. You need that info on it to deal with the outside world, right? You don't need it RIGHT NOW. And he has no incentive to destroy it, because then he'd really have nothing left. Let him keep it for later negotiations.
>>
No. 1012376 ID: 96c896

>>1012374
Because he's probably got someone standing next to it, threatening to destroy it if they get attacked? ...wait, would he do that? Hold it hostage? If he destroyed it, then that'd make you pissed enough at him to hunt him forever, so maybe he wouldn't do that. Maybe he's hoping if he hides successfully for long enough or endures interrogation after he's caught, you'll get antsy and buy it off him.

He didn't even threaten you or anything, tell you not to try to find him... we could just start looking for him immediately without fear of retaliation. Yeah. Stupid morning brain.

Why not see if Phantom's willing to help? Or the mayor? Try everybody; see how many big shots you can get on your side in this. The more manpower you have in the search, the better. You could put up a bounty too.
>>
No. 1012377 ID: e0aaa8

Yeah, but the next election is like, in a year or so, not decades. Time almost matters now.

I suppose we could always ask Phantom for help (have Delli do it heh). Since this is a matter that technically won't help you with the elections, I don't see why she would refuse.
>>
No. 1012378 ID: e7848c

>>1012374
Time doesn't change around here, but some people do.
>>
No. 1012379 ID: 35c334

"It's five am and I'm stressed out to begin with and it reminded me of some stuff that really fucking sucked in the past, so I got worked up. Delli you're my boyfriend make me feel better."
>>
No. 1012382 ID: 9a2966

Give Delli a look, and tell him decades schmeckades, try millenia. Sometimes you just want to half-ass it for an easy win.

Uh, might be why the fifth century went so bad, now that you think about it.

ANYWAY okay screw Crook, you got his number now, any chance Soletta or someone in city admin can triangulate a call without being found out instantly?

'course, you can also get some of your old gang out on the streets again, kicking Crook's old compadres in the teeth and asking them the tough questions like 'Where is Crook?' and 'What is two plus two and walks on three legs in the evening?'.

Frankly, you think Crook will be offended if you don't. Make some calls to get it started.
>>
No. 1012384 ID: c0641b

>>1012374

I'd be all "just for that you're coming with me," but in case this is the biggest, stupidest trap ever ... maybe not?

At least have him nearby just in case the planetarium needs to be Haze Town's newest smoking crater on sudden notice.
>>
No. 1012386 ID: d9495a

"The thought of getting even a tiny bit of old knowledge back had me worked up for a moment."

Go tickle the fuck out of that smug goat for doubting you.
>>
No. 1012451 ID: e2d9ea

If Crook doesn't actually have leverage, it sounds like you'd really be negotiating him out into the open.

In which case, the offer stops mattering. Helps that you're haggling him down, though. Makes things sound more sincere.
>>
No. 1012695 ID: 15a025

I guess Delli needs a reminder of how important those memories are to you.
>>
No. 1012881 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163417097648.png - (182.59KB , 1000x1000 , 521.png )
1012881

"Some people change when they're knocked down a peg. But maybe not, so maybe I'll get some help. That memory has old info, so I bet if you mention it to Phantom she'd help. Better than you anyway, who seems to have forgotten how important my memories are to me! Or I'll get Soletta to make a bounty to find Crook! 30 years chocolate supply!"
>"Like, all they can eat for 30 years?"
"Hell no that's too much. Crook's not going to destroy the memory, it's the most valuable thing he's got!"
>"Can we find his location if he called you?"
"How?"
>"I dunno, triangulation or something, someone owns the cell phone service right?"
"Yeah but Crook's not that stupid, there's easy ways around that. I'm going call up my old gang and start busting up some of Crook's old properties while I head to the planetarium. Be close by in case something stupid happens and we need a new town crater."
>"A crater on the orbital cannon?"
"Yeah, it's a big enough thing."
>"Aren't you a big girl who can handle herself? Is Crook going to turn you into a damsel in distress like Finnigan did?"
"Oh that's a low blow you ass!"
>"Why, is it true?"
"I want you to be involved you dork, I can handle Crook myself!"
>>
No. 1012882 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163417098896.png - (212.11KB , 1000x1000 , 522.png )
1012882

I poke at his ribs where I know the goat's ticklish.

"Hahah don't do that I could explode and then you'll die! You're just being a biffhaha!!"
>"As my boyfriend you're supposed to make me feel better and tickling you is good stress relief!"
"Ffffahhhah you're stressed 'cause you can't even beat Crook so you need me to be your knight in shining armor!"
>"You just want to go back to bed, lazy bastard!"
"It's still dark outside of course I do you stupid girlfriend!"
>>
No. 1012883 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163417099709.png - (162.87KB , 1000x1000 , 523.png )
1012883

He doesn't explode but he does have a surge in energy as he spins around me and gets my ribs. I don't make a peep.

>"I forgot. You're barely ticklish, because the universe is cold and unfair."
"Damn right."

I'll never tell him that I'm way more ticklish than him, I'm just way way better at hiding it. That is a truth he must never know.
>>
No. 1012884 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163417103144.png - (154.66KB , 1000x1000 , 524.png )
1012884

I drag his ass up to the planetarium with me, and we settle down on one of the hanging mezzanines. I get some work done since there's just no way I can sleep after this morning. Delli shows he can sleep anywhere on anything, and does so the second I send a message to Soletta and my gang to help me out later today. If I'm lucky, I won't need it.

Around 10 AM, I've calmed down enough to call Crook back via my laptop, using the number he gave me.

>"Hello, is this Pillet?" I get an answer fast from someone who isn't Crook.
"Who's this?"
>"My name is Trezil, I'll be talking on Crook's behalf."
"Huh, why?"
>"He's got a temper that he's been forced to admit shows its bad side when speaking to old adversaries like you, so he asked me to fill in. Since you called, I take it you're interested in speaking about your memory?"
"In person."
>"Ah - you want to speak in person?"
"That's right."
>"May I ask why?"

So I can force the location of Crook out of this minion, that's why!
>>
No. 1012885 ID: 465a14

>>1012884
So you can laugh at him for having a name that vaguely resembles lizard when spelled backwards.
>>
No. 1012886 ID: d9495a

"Because holding a ladies memories for randsom is a very personal sort of thing."
>>
No. 1012887 ID: 35c334

"People can abandon most everything about themselves if they really need to, except their face. I want to see who I'm dealing with, and be sure they're who I'm dealing with, not maybe someone's trick over a video. I'm going to have a hard time trusting anyone who might feel like they can safely cut and run without me being able to find them eventually."
>>
No. 1012888 ID: 96c896

>>1012884
There's a 90% probability that Crook is at the planetarium. That's where you said you'd be, and I bet he figures he has a chance of winning if he attacks by surprise.
They might be able to figure out where your laptop is by detecting its signal strength. It may normally be hard to locate someone hanging out in the orbital cannon due to how big it is, but if they have a signal to trace...

Anyway, tell them that it's easier to be polite in person, and you want to see the memory box with your own eyes besides. That could've been a photo from a long time ago and they lost it since.
>>
No. 1012899 ID: cb3781

"so he can't pawn these negotiations off on someone else, like you.

But seriously, he's asking for control of the city when he doesn't even vaguely understand what it is he found. For a good reason. No phone taps, no recordings. No trusting you not to do those things. This stays in person."
>>
No. 1012901 ID: c0641b

>>1012884

FistFace-to-face transactions are best when conducting exchanges of very personal requests, after all.
>>
No. 1012903 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163424328909.png - (235.65KB , 1000x1000 , 525.png )
1012903

"Because holding part of me ransom is a personal thing, that's why! I want to see who I'm dealing with, and not worry about phone or video tricks. Speaking of tricks, I want to see that box in person. It could be a convincing fake, or an old photo."
>"If you'd like, we can take additional photos using a variety of equipment and surround it with objects of your choice, within reason, as we take the photoes to make it implausible to doctor. But, there's no way Crook would allow you in its presence, for reasons I hope you understand."

As expected, but I brought it up just for the old trick of asking for something unreasonable to make a more reasonable request more likely to be accepted.

"Yeah, but those reasons don't apply to seeing you in person. You do get how personal this is, right? Face to face transactions are best for it, and we won't get far with me thinking this call is tapped or recorded."
>"If trust is the issue, then you're right. Usually, I would argue we meet at a neutral party, but I think we both want to speed things along, so I'll meet you at your planetarium location, if that's fine with you."
"I'll be in the orbital cannon's meeting room L-2."

That one has no reception, and I don't want to strip search the guy to make sure he's not bugged. He could be wired, but I can search him after the meeting if it comes to that.

I wonder if Crook and even Trezil are here in hiding. There's no way Crook thinks he could take me alone even with an ambush, but if his best underlings stayed loyal and as strong as they were before his death, then an ambush could get dicey.

No, I can't imagine him doing that. There's a few things he could gain from it, but it would all come at a steeper price than it's worth. Hell if they did kill me I'd be a martyr for a month. That's not at bad deal.

They wouldn't attack me now. Even if Crook had the maximum theoretical fighting power he could have, he couldn't make a dent in Delli even while Delli sleeps. So now I can think of if I even want to bring Delli with me to the meeting, and how to get his face off my tail.
>>
No. 1012904 ID: 465a14

>>1012903
Use your tail to drag him there. Bludgeon people with his body as needed.
>>
No. 1012905 ID: 53560f

You could just stick him in the sleeping closet with a note catching him up to current events. That way we can involve delli at a moment’s notice if we suddenly need him.
>>
No. 1012910 ID: 96c896

>>1012903
Leave him be, you can handle this yourself. Unless he wakes up anyway as you move your tail, then let him decide.
>>
No. 1012927 ID: f57349

Ask the blackmailers if they'd be willing to let you see the container tonight if you bring 60% of Delli's power and one or two of those miscellaneous unclaimed energy clusters along with you.
If they agree, bring 100% of Delli's power, still inside Delli, then seize the memory container by force and mock them for not being more specific.
If they refuse, point out that if they aren't willing to put the prize within your reach even when you're doing your best to promptly meet their ridiculous initial demands, you've got no reason to believe they're truly willing to hand it over at all.
>>
No. 1012933 ID: d9495a

Drag him along just like that.
>>
No. 1012937 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163433405191.png - (207.90KB , 1000x1000 , 526.png )
1012937

I focus some energy on my tail and grab Delli's face with it, so I can drag him off on it.

There's no way he hasn't woken up from that, he's just being stubborn about not doing anything.
>>
No. 1012938 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163433406212.png - (185.37KB , 1000x1000 , 527.png )
1012938

I don't need him for this and if he wants to pretend to be asleep, so be it. I stuff him in a closet and wait in the meeting room.

There's a knock on the door pretty quickly.

"Come in."
>"Hello." says the same voice from the call as he walks in. "I'm Trezil. It's nice to meet you." He holds out a phone. "I understand you don't want electronics or anything you can record, is there a good place I can store this?"
"Yeah there's a safe there just shove it in and close it. Hey, would you be willing to let me see the container if I brought along 60% of Delli's power?"
>"Uh... hm, no, I don't think it changes anything." He puts his phone away. "We don't need to be convinced that Delli has 60% of his power, so we don't need to see it in person unless a trade is made. It may be a lot of work to bridge the gap between what we want to get out of this in an agreeable fashion, so I hope we get along."
>>
No. 1012939 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163433407179.png - (257.37KB , 1000x1000 , 528.png )
1012939

Trezil walks up to me and extends his hand. A bare hand, inviting me to grab it.

It's an open secret that I can mess with memories, but I've heard no one openly discussing the idea that I can siphon the memories and experiences of the unwilling. They must think that if I could do that, I would've done so when fighting the ganglords.

But I didn't not because I couldn't, but because I, unlike the rest of this town, know what a war crime is. A lot of my knowledge of memory extraction involved hammering home the set of laws that governed extractors like me. I don't remember or never knew who made those laws, who enforced them, or how often they were even followed, but they exist and I have principles.

Crook's escalated into that territory. He's fair game for anything but Trezil is just a minion following orders. If I just read his memories and don't mess with anything from before this meeting, it only goes as far as an obscene invasion of privacy to see what he knows.
>>
No. 1012940 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163433408162.png - (187.68KB , 1000x1000 , 529.png )
1012940

I could skip all this negotiating, bounty work with Soletta, and ugly dealings with Crook.

All I need is firm physical contact and a willingness to toe the line of a half forgotten morality.
>>
No. 1012941 ID: 465a14

Do you think this one specific memory batch you're being offered is going to be the end of your goals? If not, avoid revealing an ace in the hole and escalating irreversibly.
>>
No. 1012942 ID: 96c896

Principles and ethics are important. Keep a firm grip upon them, do not waver, do not let temptation lead you astray.
That said, what are your principles regarding interrogation? You've got him where you want him, so let's start. I wonder if you can get him to willingly share his memories?

Take his hand, and squeeze it hard.
>>
No. 1012943 ID: b72032

Don't compromise your own principles on him. You're not even sure he knows, as it would make sense for Crook to send the one who knows the least as negotiator.
>>
No. 1012944 ID: dfbac0

Don't abandon your morality, it's not worth it to abandon a piece of yourself for a memory that could be unimportant, the only reason you got this far is because you didn't let any temptation stray you from your path, don't fuck everything up now.
We should make sure this man knows we're only suffering him, try to instill a feeling that they really don't have control over this and you're attending negotiations to humor them, it's not far from the truth anyways.
Could we otherwise trick this man into letting us see his memories? Since reading his memories if he's unwilling is towing the line then convincing him to let you view his memories even if by tricking him is still off from towing the line and doesn't mean you have to throw away your morals.
Not sure how to trick him into letting us see his memories but I'm just throwing the idea out there.
>>
No. 1012945 ID: d9495a

You are the memory extractor who will teach the next generation of memory extractors. One of the people in charge of rebuilding society from the ground up. If your morals get ruined then the future is bleak.

But for this? Yeah its worth toeing the line. But not crossing the line.

Just forget any embarrasing details you learn about his personal life. A quick memory poke of the last few days is all you should need.
>>
No. 1012948 ID: 1ed92d

>>1012940
Hm. Maybe Croc found a way to infiltrate your memories and it's a trap.

Or maybe it's just a dick move to mind-screw people. Just shake his hand cheerfully.
>>
No. 1012949 ID: 36784c

>>1012940
If it’s an open secret that you can mess with memories, then it’s a bit strange that Trezil would give you his bare hand. How confident are you that you’re the only extractor? Is it possible that Trezil is an extractor like you?

You said it yourself, your memories are kinda fuzzy, so you might not remember who other extractors are. It’s entirely possible that Trezil might try to mess with your memories if he is an extractor.
>>
No. 1012972 ID: f57349

Don't abuse a minion out of spiteful impatience. Save the big guns for someone who definitely knows the container's exact location.

Ask what their plan was if you had agreed immediately. Step-by-step, the whole hand-off process. There's probably going to be some flaw - a point where one party or the other could unilaterally betray the deal and be reasonably sure of seizing both prizes as a direct result - or at least something you could frame to seem like one. Critique that flaw and propose an alternative plan which is more secure against the specific problem you pointed out, but could be defeated by your unknown-to-the-public capability.

Is there some neutral third party who Crook would trust to serve as an escrow agent, and who you could plausibly claim to trust in that same capacity, but would actually be willing to mindrip over something as important as this? If not, find some pretext to push for a face-to-face meeting with the boss, possibly as part of handing them some smaller energy clusters - could say you want to see exactly who absorbs how much, make it seem like you're somehow trying to sow seeds of internal dissent in their organization. It'd be easy for them to believe you care more about that sort of thing than you actually do, since they probably assume anyone who claims not to care about power and loyalty is either foolish or lying.
>>
No. 1012987 ID: d33d02

If he's here, there's a good chance his own info is controlled. Not worth it, especially without a guarantee.

Shake hand, keep it above board for now. You can probably wrangle another hand shake at the end if we keep this amiable.

Get down to business.
>>
No. 1012993 ID: c0641b

>>1012940

Why not ask politely, under the guise of wishing to be certain, making it appear as though you still need consent? That way none are the wiser, and YOU get what you want out of this.
>>
No. 1012999 ID: 63bbc1

Go with your morals for now. Too much chance someone's betting on your going against them. You're closer to getting out than ever before, right? This is just the time when everyone who's been sitting quietly on something unexpected will be pulling them out. Besides, all you need is physical contact, right? You can easily contrive that again so long as he's here, if you change your mind.

You know, you could try winning this guy over. Getting your memories might be important for everyone's well-being and safety. Try get his opinion on all this, at least. Perhaps being cut off from observation gives him a chance as much as being protection for you.
>>
No. 1013036 ID: 15a025

Not sure it's worth the risk right now. What if he's able to tell you messed with or viewed his memories?
>>
No. 1013040 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163443791429.png - (185.08KB , 1000x1000 , 530.png )
1013040

>>
No. 1013041 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163443792235.png - (105.67KB , 1000x1000 , 531.png )
1013041

"We'll see if it's nice to meet you."
>"I'll do my best."

There's no guarantee he knows anything of value. Crook selected him, and might've controlled what he knows. Nor is there any guarantee that the memory tank contains much useful info. I won't toe the line for this or risk tipping my hand, not yet. I'll find Crook the normal way, then I can do whatever I want with him.

>How confident are you that you’re the only extractor?
Virtually 100%. My memories would've been wiped completely if the founders ever had another extractor around.

>Is it possible that Trezil is an extractor like you?
No. Even if he was, he's too weak. To extract an unwilling target, the extractor needs to exceed the energy level of the target. Enough excess to easily just forget about shaking hands and just tackle the other person. In other words, if Trezil could extract memories from me, I'm already screwed. The handshake just made it tempting.

"Let's say I agreed right away. How would the deal happen?"
>"Any energy clusters you give would be delivered normally. That should be easy. The part of the trade that needs careful detailing would be how we receive Delli's power. First of all, I'll remind you that 60% of power the power we requested was in reference to him at his most powerful, and we will be using energy measurement tools to make sure it's correct. Delli and Crook will meet together, by themselves, for the transfer. Extra details will be made to account for any gaps, to help make sure that we can trust in a successful deal."
"Neutral third party?"
>"If we can find one we can both trust."
"Right. First off, everyone knows by now that I can read and pull out memories, so this'll be faster if you let me see some of yours."
>"I'd prefer that we use words to communicate, if you'd please."
"You sure? I wouldn't read your whole life, just pick out the relevant bits."

He shakes his head. That's fine, I'm only being pushy to make it look like I need permission.
>>
No. 1013042 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163443793408.png - (154.21KB , 1000x1000 , 532.png )
1013042

"Fine, fine. I don't know how loyal you are to Crook, but what do you think about him holding my memories ransom? This is in everyone's interest."
>"Anyone can read your memories, right? You've said it's not a clear image if another person reads the memory, but it's enough to gather core details, isn't it?"
"Not necessarily."
>"I believe Crook thinks he can. To be honest, he's adamant we stay in town, anyway. I don't think he cares to help leave."
"I asked what you think."
>"I'm just Crook's assistant, I speak as best as I can for him. My own views just aren't that relevant. If I may, Crook's established what price he wants, but let me ask you what your starting position is. What is the most you would be willing to give up, to get these memories back?"
>>
No. 1013044 ID: 465a14

>>1013042
Pretty much nothing significant, all things considered. Everything important you have right now is definitely necessary for your current plans, including Delli's energy, while some unknown memories are very personally tempting but much lower priority.
>>
No. 1013045 ID: 15a025

Not much. While the memories are personally important, it's kinda lower down the pole compared to what we have. We pretty much need all we've got to work on our campaign out of here.
>>
No. 1013048 ID: dfbac0

We can offer bananas and a lower management position. Y'know, have Crook come in for an interview, hand us his resume and we can put him in a place that would fit him. A steady job for a steady income of bananas.
You'd also be willing to give up stress, punching bags are pretty good for that and Crook seems sturdy enough for the job.
>>
No. 1013050 ID: 96c896

>>1013042
He's asking what's the most you'd be willing to give up. That's not how haggling works though, so if he's trying to haggle he's already failed.
Tell him you're unwilling to give enough power to Crook that you and Delli won't be able to fight back against him. You will not, under any circumstances, allow Crook to take over the town. He is untrustworthy. I mean, so are you, but you don't have enough power to beat Delli, and Delli has proven himself to be working in the best interests of the town, now that he's embraced democracy.

The amount you're willing to give up for the memories is much much lower than that. You want them, you really do. They are yours by right, a piece of you, and you dearly wish to have them back, regardless of the contents. But you're not going to risk everything to get them. You don't even want to agree to give them any of Delli's power since he's not involved in the negotiations, and you won't betray him like that. You are willing to give up power clusters, and food, and maybe some other stuff like I don't know, a government position? Somewhere Crook can have some power but not enough to really screw everything up?
What does Crook really want? Why does he want power, what motivates him? Maybe we can give him what he really wants without giving him enough power to become a threat.

(But probably not. This negotiation is just a prelude to violence in the end, I still support hunting Crock down if we can't buy the memories for a reasonable price)
>>
No. 1013051 ID: 63bbc1

"Yeah that's not how haggling works? I tell you the most I'll give and then you won't settle for anything less. But I'll humor you in vague general terms. First of all, energy. I will not give Crook enough power to defeat Delli, end of, and that includes a big buffer. How much energy does he have stored away? How much do his minions have that they could give him? How much could he beg off people who want us out of the picture? I can't know, so I'm not betting. I need to be sure that even worst case, it'll still be comfortably impossible for him to take the rest of the energy by force. Any more than that and I might as well just hand over everything, and then the memory is no use to me. And, let me tell you, it's not going to be any use to Crook, except maybe if he doesn't like sleeping. So: other limits follow on from that. I'm not putting Crook in a position of authority high enough to gather that much energy. I'm not letting him handle information sensitive enough to put to use applying pressure to gather that much energy. I think you get the gist of my direction, here? Oh, and I'm not going to do anything that would be shitty to everyone, just as a general principle."

"And this is my maximum, just to remind you. You're going to have to make a lot of offers and give a lot of assurances and do a lot of sweet talking and give me a lot of proof before I even just upgrade my offer to Crook from 'I will not put you higher on my shit list today'. Let me be clear, I am not even convinced you really have my memory. Even if you're sure Crook himself believes it, I think it's decent chances it's a fake he forgot is a fake. Because I know how hard I looked for my memories, and I know that there's been times he'd have wanted something from me even harder than now."
>>
No. 1013052 ID: 53560f

“None, Delli’s power isn’t mine to barter with. The main problem with this whole deal is that you assume I own him and his power.
If we were negotiating for nearly anything else then we’d have something to work with.”
>>
No. 1013053 ID: f57349

I'd give up a lot to get any fragment of my memories, but fundamentally, Delli's power isn't mine to barter away. Not 60%, or 10%, or even 0.01%. Your boss wants another shot at being the biggest humanoid weapon in Haze Town? Come up with a plan for how he's going to rule the place that Delli personally considers acceptable, and some way to commit to that plan which superior individual force won't render irrelevant.
>>
No. 1013055 ID: 6c85cb

"How about a peace treaty? You guys have to spend the effort you do to hide because you just really don't have that many cards, and last time you had physical force you maintained an iron grip on the whole town for basically forever. Why in the hell would I make you a major power again?"
>>
No. 1013059 ID: c0641b

>>1013042

Considering that Crook is attempting to wrest a majority control of power and position himself as the new dominant player in what has been a long and tedious game of bullshit for far longer than was ever remotely reasonable?

I think that alone is answer enough. Things have been pretty good, with Delli. Maybe not to Crook's personal interests (or greed), but far better than the gang wars ever were.
>>
No. 1013064 ID: 5c87b4

He says that he's just an assistant, but I find that hard to believe. Everyone has something they want, an ambition.

Tell him that if he betrays Crook, then anything coming out of this deal goes to him instead of Crook. Something like that, choose better words.
>>
No. 1013117 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163460082378.png - (146.94KB , 1000x1000 , 533.png )
1013117

What kind of question is that? Is this really the best Crook could send?

"Not as much as you think. I'd like that memory back, but not enough to let Crook get a significant stake in the town's power capacity, and sure as hell not enough to give him a majority stake. And especially not when Delli's power isn't mine to barter."
>"It was your energy cluster that landed on him, wasn't it?"
"If we go with that, we should have this room packed from bottom to top with the people involved in making that power cluster."

I wonder if there's a reason they're trying to exclude Delli. He'd be more willing to negotiate with Crook than I'd be, so why aren't they trying to exclude me?

"What does Crook want, honestly?"
>"Power. Well, agency, in particular. He's always had a strong sense about how things should be, and thought he could do it better."
"All he's ever done better is run quality of life into the ground."
>"I think it was like that anyway. Still, that's why he's so keen on getting this power."
"This isn't the first time he's been keen on something, but you're telling me that he just now happens to have this ancient memory, and he's just now cashing in?"
>"The end of the town, at least as we know it, seems nigh. It might be now or never for him."
"It might be a complete fake. A desperate maneuver."

He shakes his head and pulls something out.

>"Before I left, he told me you might think that. He handed me the title plating, saying that it should help convince the legitimacy of this." It's the plate from the earlier picture, with the same text. At a closer look, it definitely appears to be the non-degrading material the memory bank would use for it.
>>
No. 1013118 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163460083778.png - (212.95KB , 1000x1000 , 534.png )
1013118

"You're Crook's special guy, huh, for him to go hand this to you himself to negotiate."
>"You flatter me, miss! Yes, some of our higher ups went their own separate ways. I might not have been his best, but I've been around a long time."

He does look familiar. I can't clearly remember him, but after all the years of fighting Crook, there must be a lot of his underlings I saw in passing. More importantly, he just admitted that he saw Crook in person with his own eyes. His own memory.

>"Since he trusts me so much with it, I should get us back on topic. So long as you want it, I'm sure we can find something agreeable. A conditional power, perhaps? I believe he wants power, but maybe if he's allowed to have power through Delli in some way. A governmential position or his own neck of the woods might go a long way to closing the gap between what we want. Trust is an issue for that, since if he doesn't have power, it could be taken away the moment you get the memory."
"You'll have to come up with a plan for how he'll rule any place in town that Delli personally considers acceptable."
>"I'm sure details can be arranged. If he gets that over time, and maybe a slow trickle of power, he'd agree to give the memory up. That will be tricky, I know, since we can only give the memory to you once, we can't trickle that to you like you could trickle power to Crook."
"Crook's only going to get enough power, at max, to be a suitably sturdy punching bag for me."
>"Considering your current power, that's not a bad start - I just won't tell him that in those words, if you don't mind."
"Haha, well I might use him as a punching bag. Not as part of the deal, but because he deserves it. If you really entertain that for him, it's a shame you're negotiating for him. You've got a lot less baggage with me than Crook's got."
>"Oh, no, no, I try to be more amenable than his forceful ways, but I appreciate all he's done for me. Everything he's done, I stand by. That'll be easier to tell everyone if Crook gets a position of political power, but without having any energy power. Are we onto something, Pillet? If you grant him a small part of town, let him prove he can runs things agreeably, and grant him more and more land until we reach an amount agreed upon at the start. Then he gives you the memory. Once he gives the memory up, he'd be completely at your mercy, so it's in his best interests to make you all believe that his leadership is beneficial. At which point, he gets his agency, and you get a good leader and your memory. It'll take time, but we do have time even if people vote to leave town, don't we? We would have to sort out the details like how much land Crook wants in the end, but those details will be worth sorting out if that idea sounds agreeable in theory for you. And Delli, too."
>>
No. 1013119 ID: 63bbc1

Hm. I wonder if this is all a different scheme than we think it is? Maybe all this deal thing is a ruse. Real enough for you to believe it, difficult enough to deal with for you to believe it, and emotional enough to fixate you on it, but then at some point it turns out it's all really just to distract you or get you somewhere so you can be captured or something? Everyone knows you're the driving force behind the end of town plan right now. Delli wouldn't turn against you but he could probably be lulled into complacency, accepting indefinite delays so long as everything seem not-shitty enough for everyone, until they come up with some way to handle him. Or they could have something that threatens you enough to be able to manipulate him, somehow - like he says, this is the time for someone to pull out anything they've been sitting on or been reluctant to use before.

Back to the deal, though. How about you suggest that if he's so trusted, maybe you trickle the power to him, and then he trickles it to Crook? I imagine it takes a certain buildup of power to be able to pass it on, so that would kind of put in a natural time delay. Actually, that gives me another idea. Divide the power. Give Crook a fraction of what he wants, and pick out a couple of other people who will receive the same amount. Put Crook in charge of them, so he has command of the whole amount of energy (which will still be a safe acceptable amount, let's be clear), but the others report to you on what he gets them to do and you can call them off if Crook pisses you off. But if you're unfair to Crook then those people can also refuse you. The trick would be picking people, of course, but you know a lot of people, don't you? It's not like there's a shortage of people who are looking for something to do, and some of them you must have some esteem and trust for. Let Crook pick some of them, but make it clear if any of them mysteriously lose their power and suddenly Crook has more, that'll blow the deal.
>>
No. 1013121 ID: 96c896

>>1013118
>Everything he's done, I stand by.
What do you know about Crook? What has he actually done? If you disagree with this assessment even if you try to look at it from his point of view, it might be helpful to get this guy to explain why he likes Crook.

>gradual expansion of land
Why gradual? There's no point. Just give him all the land at once and enough power to give you a bit of trouble but not Delli, get the memory, then if he pisses people off Delli can kick him out.

At least, that's the deal we're making. But tell him it'll take some time to get the power clusters, and you have to convince Soletta to hand over the land... Exaggerate a bit, so you have time to hunt down Crook.
>>
No. 1013122 ID: 5c87b4

Things would be simple if it was just power, but political power would complicate things. Crook prefers immortality, right? So giving him political power would effectively turn a 1v1 into 1v2 and winning the vote would become that much harder. Unless your memories included some miraculous revelation. Or if Crook somehow screwed up his rulership to the point of people giving up immortality out of spite.

It's a big gamble. But as things stand, without gambling, I don't think you'll win the vote so I guess I'd take it.
>>
No. 1013123 ID: d9495a

This sounds like a way to get some idiot to pay you to be a middle manager. Not a bad deal if its on the up and up.
>>
No. 1013126 ID: c0641b

>>1013118

Real question: did he or did he not take part in the vote for mayor, or whatever? At least I vaguely recall there being one, at some point. Maybe.

But that aside, why go through the steps at all? Let's just let him try out being part of that for a time. Rather than getting his own little fiefdom, he can be part of the city council and help out that way. Crook gets his wishes of being able to wield power and direct the city, and if he's good at it and a natural leader, he won't even have to "work up to it." Nor will he be vying for control against others and recreating the kind of gang skirmishes we ended.

Everyone wins, there's no energy contest, and we all go about our lives.
>>
No. 1013186 ID: fbd643

That seems agreeable, although I'm curious of Trezil's own motives. It almost seems like he's acting in Crook's interests but not his exact wants.

The main thing that stands out is what prevents either party from moving the goalposts as far as land given before the memories are handed over goes, with regard to a gradual giving of land.
>>
No. 1013187 ID: 96c896

Maybe you should ask him why he didn't ask for Delli to be involved in the negotiations.
>>
No. 1013214 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163469406675.png - (203.74KB , 1000x1000 , 535.png )
1013214

"Why gradual? We could just give Crook the land. He knows how to manage large areas, so he'll either fuck it up or he won't on his own."
>"If you bet that Crook might mess up, then wouldn't you prefer it be over a small area first?"
"How about a part of a city council?"
>"He'd much prefer full control over a small area than influence over a large one."
"Then we'll decide on land. Whether he gets it all right away or gradually gets it, we'll decide on how much he gets in advance before I get the memory tank."

Crook prefers immortality, so I can put him in an area of town that's predominately for it anyway. That way he won't change his demographic's votes around. I can work with that.

"Why do you like Crook so much?"
>"Me and my family were largely in shambles. Despite some of Crook's, well, actions that lead to his namesake, he looks after his own well. We got back on our feet. It was a long time ago, but I haven't forgotten."

That makes sense. He did the classic mob move of silently messing up inconvenient people's lives, then loudly giving cake or whatever to loyal people to make himself look good.

"For power, I'm willing to trickle it to him through others, like you. If Crook gets any appreciable power, then he has to devide it across his loyalists, and no one person can exceed a certain portion of it."
>"I would be willing to discuss details with that."
"Then we will, but Delli and Soletta are going to be involved. It's going to take some time to get energy clusters sorted out, land for Crook, and so on."
>"Yes, I'm going to have to convince Crook this is as good of a deal as he could possibly get, even if it's not what he wanted. We'll be in contact so that we can sort out the details with everyone."

I talk a little more about Trezil himself. His story about why he's so loyal to Crook seems to check out. He gives me the impression that he thinks Crook has a heart of gold in him somewhere. Apparently neither Crook nor Trezil have done anything in public since Delli took over, like what votes we've had.

That's about as long as I can stand negotiations for without good reason, so we wrap up our basic plan for what to discuss with the others, then shake on a deal that hasn't happened.

"By the way, why didn't you want to involve Delli in the negotiations?"
>"No offense, but we didn't think he'd take them nearly seriously enough."

Can't argue with that.
>>
No. 1013215 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163469407570.png - (177.94KB , 1000x1000 , 536.png )
1013215

Trezil wishes me a good day and walks out.

I wonder if he's as much of a novice as I think, because something's still weird. The idea that Crook and Trezil excluded Delli for not taking it seriously is well founded, but it also sounds like an excuse. Delli's gotten me to chill out in getting what I want. Including him would've helped them more than it would've helped me.

It's also odd of Crook to send Trezil, who's acting in Crook's interests instead of his wants.

Could it be a different scheme than I think it is? If so, I have no idea what else Crook could be after. The guy likes being on top of his own fiefdom. He's got a sense of retribution, but killing me for a month is all he can do, and he'll blow any deals if he does it.

What else could he do? Any techniques or technology that could've done more harm than that have long been lost, save for my own memory extraction. Unless Crook found something. But if so, either he miraculously came across ancient lost tech, or he's somehow kept something like that hidden. Either idea is implausible, and it all works off the assumption that Crook's got some nasty plan up his sleeve.
>>
No. 1013216 ID: 465a14

>>1013215
Delli is in cahoots and didn't want to risk exposing himself. Their secret plot is to give you a surprise birthday party.
>>
No. 1013217 ID: 96c896

Well, I can think of a few possibilities:
1, Delli is in on it, this is a test to see how far you're willing to go to get what you want.
2, Crook is scared that if Delli gets involved with negotiations he'll object to the demands and wreck him.
3, Trezil did something during the meeting that Delli would've spotted.

How likely is it that the memory cube contains a mindreading technique? Surface thoughts, not memories. If Crook could look at the contents, and get the gist of it, he could've taught the technique to Trezil, and he was sent to tell if you were going to pay up or not. Maybe skin contact is required or makes it much easier, thus the two handshakes?

Go check on Delli, ask him directly if this was a test. Then explain what happened and see if he has any ideas as to what is up.
If nothing interesting comes from that, just go ahead with the plan to hunt Crook down and take what's yours.
>>
No. 1013219 ID: d9495a

Bet he did something to you with his secret powers while you shook on it.
>>
No. 1013222 ID: 53560f

Well the deals haven’t fully gone through yet and there will be further negotiations also there’s no reason we can’t involve Delli in future ones to see if anything stands out as unusual.

As for Crook’s plan, what if crook isn’t the one orchestrating it? Though, speculating on nothing won’t get us very far right now so let’s just see if we can’t have people watching and spying on crook and his operations for now.
>>
No. 1013223 ID: 36784c

>>1013215
>Why no Delli?
While you were busy with Trezil, someone else talked with Delli to try and convince him without you interfering.
>>
No. 1013266 ID: c0641b

>>1013215

Easiest solution is that he, like apparently a sizable portion of the population, want things to "go back to the way they were," including having his own little realm to lord over.

And maybe that's just it. One last-ditch effort with the current powers threatening the status quo to try and get what he wants.
>>
No. 1013267 ID: 5c87b4

Maybe bringing you here was their plan. So they could attack some important place while you're doing nothing. Might want to get some cell phone signal to see if you got any missed calls.
>>
No. 1013268 ID: 9a2966

Remove your hand from your face and check it out. Probably just paranoia, but... why insist on a handshake, if it wasn't the memory thing?

Perhaps they looked at the memories and suspect you're still capable of memory manipulation? Or check if you even had it. Trezil could've been arguing in as good faith as he could, but Crook was counting on you doing some memory manipulation bull to reveal your hand.

Or they planted, like, spyware in your fur? Who knows!

>wotnext
At any rate, you can wonder until the Haze falls, but unless you have a non-warcrime way of verifying things you're stuck trying to work out this deal with Crook - or at least asking Delli and Soletta what they think about it. If they agree then it means Crook is gonna be back to moving and shaking, even if with limited influence and power. If he's actually playing the long game he'll probably act all nice and good too, polish his image, like. Sap whatever resources and support he can.

>Trezil's loyalty
Search your own memories. Was Crook the type who'd deliberately screw up areas in order to later share his largesse to generate loyal minions? Maybe with Phantom's obsessive overview of history, you could offer proof on this through a 'History of the Haze' educational program to go with your move on explaining what's outside this place - perfectly relevant to dig into given the upcoming vote, everyone needs context. Doesn't even have to be a hit job - if you can just show a correlation of Crook-like policies both making things shittier and taking advantage of it to garner support, and jog some memories among his remaining old guard, you might undermine his support.

Eh. Maybe suggest that Phantom and Soletta look into that. Sounds like nerd work.

Granted, here you could point out - without the Forces That Be suppressing you for once - 'well, this is how that bullshit worked out, over and over again, if you don't believe me, let's look into the facts'. Ideally, some of Phantom's bunch starts thinking too. If people actually get to see how Haze town can get stuck in some relatively meh patterns, support for your cause might increase a bit.

>An idea
Oh! Why don't you start leaving message signboards at the fog radius for people who come back to see and pick up? Could get some more people returning if they're given the impression something big's suddenly changed. The news of there being a vote on, for example, has to be pretty novel given the Haze's typical power structure. It has to be something catchy, something they see the moment they exit the fog, that attracts their attention.
>>
No. 1013275 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163477373741.png - (215.41KB , 1000x1000 , 537.png )
1013275

What if Crook's not behind this, and someone just has a good impression of him? It could be Delli himself, throwing me some surprise party! If not... well, I can't do anything about that other than wonder why they're posturing as Crook.

>How likely is it that the memory cube contains a mindreading technique?
If it's my memory, it's memory extractions techniques, including but not limited to surface mind reading. If Crook read it, it wouldn't help him much. It would be like becoming a nuclear engineer by looking at a few photos of a nuclear power plant. The only techniques Crook knows are things like somehow fucking up areas to get undying loyalty from people like Trezil.

I look over my hand and then my body to do a self scan and make sure nothing weird happened. He was right about one thing. Breaking out of the snowglobe is when people are going to bring out all the aces they had up their sleeves, so I shouldn't rule anything out. Nothing's odd, I should have sensed any technique used on me, and there's no way they got a physical bug on me without me noticing.

His insistence to shake my hand twice... come to think of it, he outright implied me he spoke to Crook in person. I wonder if he was testing to see if I could or would forcibly look through his memories.

I walk out to find Delli. My phone hasn't blown up, so nothing important's happened while my cell phone reception was fucked.

"There you are."
>"What's up?"
"Making sure no one approached you to strike deals and have you give away the whole town."
>"Do I look like someone who would give away the town, Pillet?"
"And your clothes."
>"Like I bother putting shirts on!"
"You're getting complacent! So smug that you don't even put on clothes in public! Anyway, negotiations went so weird I want to ask you if that was a test."
>"What?"
"Nevermind. There's going to be more talks and you're going to be included."

I give him the summary and he's got no better idea than what I've got.
>>
No. 1013276 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163477378707.png - (205.25KB , 1000x1000 , 538.png )
1013276

There's some other ideas I've got, but they're all nerd ideas I'll think about over time. I go back to messing with planetarium designs while Delli flies off to do fuckall. Things are thrown into Soletta's court for now, and it takes a few hours before she calls me up.

"Hey, Soletta."
>"Hi Pillet, how are you doing?"
"Good 'nuff, you heard about the negotiating, right?"
>"Yeah, Trezil got in contact, but that's for later, this is different. Do you remember how you said you wanted me to put a bounty on Crook's location? Another one of Crook's old crew called me up about that. Want me to patch him through?"
"Yeah."
>"You're alone, right? He said it's fine if you see him yourself, but doesn't want to be seen if you're in a coffee shop or something."
"Yeah I'm alone."

Soletta turns to the side to bring him in.

>"Hello, this is Pillet, right?"
"The one and only."
>"Right, I'm one of Crook's old followers, something Soletta can attest to." He looks like Paks, someone high enough on Crook's totem pole that I remember him. "I've been helping him keep an eye around town. I know how to get to his hideout."
>>
No. 1013278 ID: d9495a

Sounds good. If your info is solid you get a bounty after we prove it.

That being said I could use some info. Is your boss the type to go legit or is he a total con man?
>>
No. 1013279 ID: 465a14

>>1013276
'that's cool bye'

See if you can fluster him.
>>
No. 1013294 ID: 96c896

>>1013276
Good. Tell him he'll be rewarded, as promised. What's the details?
>>
No. 1013295 ID: f57349

"That sounds like a good start, but we're not just looking for the hideout in general, there's a specific unique item - it might be in a separate stash somewhere."
>>
No. 1013299 ID: 36784c

>>1013276
That's oddly convenient. Is the bounty really good enough for him to give away Crook's location?
>>
No. 1013338 ID: 9a2966

>Know how to find his hideout
Express some enthusiasm for this idea, mainly because it means Crook gets put on the back foot a bit. He would still have your memories hostage, though. He'd just be in a less ideal position, and you could restrict his movement, or him trying to take the thing and flee.

"I mean, fuck yes I am here and listening, but also why betray him now and whaddya want for it... Paks, right?

Then get down to brass tacks, because now you wanna figure out what's going on in Crook's ranks. And if you can afford the price this guy wants, for the small chance of an ambush attack or the relatively low degree of control it will give you over the situation. Maybe Delli could be quick and powerful enough to dart in and take the thing, but you doubt it'd be that easy.

"So did you finally realize what the thing Crook does best is, or do you just want a bigger slice of a pie I actually can't hand out, because it's not my pie, even though some people seem to think I'm the pie lady now, despite the pie doing its best to be Delli-Soletta-shaped and handing out fairly even pies to everyone, while I'm just here saying 'look, pie is all well and good but we kinda maybe should get on this fog thing and discover, like, that there's an actual universe out there and shit and that there's more to life than pie'."
>>
No. 1013341 ID: 5c87b4

There's no guarantee that the box is there but... if we can catch Crook alive (and prevent him from blowing himself up), then our problems would be solved, right?

Since Paks is giving you this info, ask him if what else he can tell you about Crook.
>>
No. 1013359 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163484259809.png - (204.23KB , 1000x1000 , 539.png )
1013359

Now this is convenient. Oddly convenient!

"That's cool. Also, that's one fast betrayal, Paks."
>"Oh, hey, you remember me. Anyway, the way I see it, one of Crook's upper line is going to crack and cash in. So it may as well be me."
"By the way, think Crook would ever go legit, or is he a con man to the core?"
>"Guess it depends on what 'legit' is, but it's not like he can't be honest if it helps him."

I'm surprised Crook's not making threats to get the bounty removed, but if he's deep in a fog pocket without a communication line, news may be slow to reach him.

I'll ask Paks more about Crook later, but his hideout's way more interesting to me.

"Alright. What's your price?"
>"Oh." Soletta jumps in. "I already offered him a power cluster at rating 300, but only if it leads to Crook or that thing you wanted."

That's pretty strong, but not unreasonable if his info's good. It's no threat to Delli, and could only be a threat to me if I got caught with my pants down. He'd might be Crook's most powerful officer if he got that.

"Oh, good. So if neither one is in the hideout, you get nothing."
>"I'm fine with that condition." Paks says. "I got the deal in writing from Soletta, and I'm positive either Crook or this mystery object is in that hideout. I met Crook there before, and I'm supposed to meet him there tomorrow. And I doubt he'd let any important objects get far from his sight, since he's got some understandable trust issues lately."
"And you have directions to his fog pocket?"
>"Eh... that's the tricky part. I don't know them or have them written down, but I have a ticket to it."
"A ticket?"
>>
No. 1013360 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163484261913.png - (223.95KB , 1000x1000 , 540.png )
1013360

>"That's what he calls... you know how you were teaching Phantom how to make energy bubbles that could automatically navigate someone to a fog pocket?

I open up my to-do list and put in a new entry for that, because I need to have a serious talk with Phantom and letting people like Crook get their hands on everything!

"Yeah, made 'em myself."
>"Yeah I don't know much about them, but Crook made some too. He delivered one to me a little while ago that I'm supposed to use tomorrow to meet up with him. If I don't see him tomorrow, I'd better have a good explanation why. Plus, he.... encrypted? He made it so people couldn't just read the energy from the bubble to copy its directions. I don't know how."

I'd have to look at the bubble to see what he means by that. There's several ways to hide the directions in these bubbles, some of which Crook could do, some of which he could not.

"So you're telling me that all you've got is a one way trip with a single bubble?"
>"You only need to get there once, right?"

Getting there once is good enough to learn where the hideout's at. Even if I couldn't get past whatever protections Crook slapped on his bubble, I can make a position recorder that makes a log of the directions it takes.

If it's a big enough bubble, then it could fit both me and Delli. On the other hand, sending in Delli is betting everything. Thinking that Crook has anything that could put a dent in Delli is the height of paranoia. But at the same time, that careless goat has way too much power on him to take even the most minuscule risk, and there's something fishy about all this.
>>
No. 1013361 ID: 465a14

yeah when proof of any sort of payoff has been scanty and people have been fishy let's just not. if a third thing about this pops up conveniently after this dude gets denied then it's probably time to go around asking Delli or Phantom or someone what's up.
>>
No. 1013362 ID: 96c896

Ah. Yeah, it's a trap. This is why they didn't ask for Delli to be involved, because the trap wouldn't work on him. I bet if you mind-read the first guy, you'd have gotten directions to wherever this guy is sending you. I'm guessing it's something that will keep you imprisoned, but not kill you, and then they'd use you as leverage to make Delli do what they want. Delli would have no way of knowing how to get to you, so...

Bring Delli.
>>
No. 1013363 ID: d9495a

Super suspect. If they suddenly have your old memory out of nowhere they might have found something else that gives them confidence to trap/confuse/whatever you. Heck Crook did say that this memory got found a long time ago and is now just being found? I think they found a lot more and the other stuff is what is giving them the confidence to try something.

Like encrypting the bubble suddenly? You just taught people that power and Crook learned it second hand. Unless he is a prodigy at that being able to encrypt energy seems rather advanced.

My suggestion is to send a team disguised as you and Delli with a position recorder on them. Then you and Delli follow that bubble throught the fog and watch to see what happens from stealth.
>>
No. 1013364 ID: f57349

Hand him a tracking device, tell him to go to the meeting as scheduled, act like nothing's wrong, and come back with as much information about the place's layout as reasonably obtainable.

If he reports back in before the third layer of bait arrives, confirm scouting report with memory-reading.
>>
No. 1013365 ID: 5c87b4

To begin with, it's weird that someone as unintelligent as Crook would be able to do something as advanced as visiting a fog bubble.

If Crook is in a bubble, then he could at any moment jump into the fog to escape any attacker. And when the fog would spit him out, he could then quickly use a ticket to another bubble. To prevent that, we'd need to know all the locations that Crook has tickets to, or catch him before he reaches them. Until we have that, there's no point in visiting such a hideout.
>>
No. 1013368 ID: 1ed92d

>>1013360
This entire situation has too many red flags.
>>
No. 1013402 ID: 7db01a

>>1013360
So what are the odds that Crook may have found and recruited someone who's just been farming in a fog pocket for a few millenia?
>>
No. 1013403 ID: 7db01a

>>1013360
So what are the odds that Crook may have found and recruited someone who's just been farming in a fog pocket for a few millenia?
>>
No. 1013404 ID: 96c896

>>1013364
Hold up, you gave me an idea.
Why don't we just read this guy's memories? He's trying to claim a bounty, so it's in his interest to give us solid confirmation that he's not lying, which means he can give permission.
No ethical dilemma involved!
>>
No. 1013425 ID: 53560f

Sounds like a job for a trusted yet expendable agent, who do we have on hand to walk into that blatant trap and hopefully return with their findings.
>>
No. 1013428 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163492612749.png - (126.38KB , 1000x1000 , 541.png )
1013428

There's so many red flags here that I'm tempted to just drop the whole thing and let Crook destroy the memory if he even has it. I could send in a small team, maybe somehow disguised as Delli and me. I've got plenty of expendable agents too, but if this trap is as bad as my paranoid mind says it could be then that won't sit right with me. I've got another idea.

"Mind if I read your memories?"
>"Whoa, uh.... yeah, I kinda do. I'm selling Crook out, but I don't want you seeing my whole life. I like my privacy."

As suspicious as that is, it's not that suspicious. I'd be wary of memory readers too. Giving me permission and having his memory check out would prove his innocence, but not letting me read his memory doesn't prove his guilt.

"Thought so. I tell you what. I'll give you a positional tracking device, first, and you take it into the fog."
>"That can't work through the fog, can it?"
"Sure, it just internally logs the position changes that you go through. We'll equip it with a wireless signal that broadcasts its location so that we can find it after you finish your trip."
>"How'll you track its signal when it's in the fog?"
"Think it through, man. It won't be in the fog. After you finish the trip into the pocket, you toss the tracker back out. It'll show back up in town where we can track it down."

He thinks for a second.

>"Yeah, I guess that's alright."

Of course it's alright. If this is legitimate then he's got no reason to decline, and if it's a trap then I'll get all the directions to the trap I need.
>>
No. 1013429 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163492613686.png - (170.50KB , 1000x1000 , 542.png )
1013429

"Good. Remember, it's has to lead somewhere good for you to get a reward."
>"Yeah yeah."
"Now tell me about your boss. I want stories. Anecdotes."
>"What for?"
"Cause you don't have anything better to do, Paks!"

He groans, but starts talking. Apparently Crook is still married with a wife he keeps away from all this, he likes card games, and he prefers baths over showers. It's all shallow stuff, but I'm reminded of his other characteristics. He's not a stupid guy. He's made a ton of clever plots that were laid out over months and years. He was patient.

So if this is a trap, he's being uncharacteristically impatient with sending me honey traps twice in a single day. Either there's a hidden factor behind the scenes, or he's failing to cope with being at rock bottom. Maybe someone else is influencing him. For all I know he found a person who's grown in strength by farming in a fog pocket for four thousand years, driven insane by living in a tiny pocket for that long! But that's not likely. Tools wouldn't last, they'd have to bring in water and fresh soil from town, and someone like that would've been detected by now.

>"Right then." says Paks. "As nice as our first real chat was, I do have things to do."
"Like what?"
>"Like my laundry. You've got my number, but anything else you need now?"
>>
No. 1013430 ID: 465a14

>>1013429
if there were just two dudes on the moon and one guy killed the other guy with a rock would that be fucked up or what
>>
No. 1013434 ID: d9495a

Why are you betraying Crook again?
>>
No. 1013435 ID: 9a2966

Mmm. Maybe this.

How does he actually feel about this fog going away vote thing? You've gotten some impressions from other gangs, from ordinary citizens, but not so many from the ex-and-current gang members who lost power and are trying to work on their recovery like he is.

If he hopes the vote doesn't go through that's perfectly fair, but you'd still like to know why, if so. Sooner or later, however far up one climbs and energy one gathers, someone else is gonna tear it all down. And sure, death ain't a thing 'round here, but plenty go and self-detonate in the fog eventually as time wears on. He's done it before - or had it done to him. Everyone has, except for the obvious exception, and even you (Pillet) got your memories wrecked in the process.

If he's doing this just to stay comfortable and in his zone for the duration, does he really think that's worth keeping on forever? As opposed to being the him that takes part in figuring out the state of things out there, in a different world, with different rules and risks.

Suggest he drop by the solarium once it's finished. There's so much more to what reality used to be and you think anyone could use the expanded perspective.
>>
No. 1013461 ID: 96c896

Ah, I think I know what's going on. Crook is trying to make you look bad! He's seen how you're acting now, working towards democracy and not forcing things. He wants you out of power, but a direct fight won't do anything, so he switched tacks to ruining your public image.

The guy he sent to you was trained to detect if you forced a memory read. The meeting is a trap but not one meant to kill or capture you, he's probably meeting a bunch of people from outside his gang for a supposed legitimate reason, and you're meant to bust in there and look like a thug in front of everyone. He either knew you'd set a bounty and made sure this disloyal guy found out, or arranged for you to find out even if you didn't set a bounty.

He's patient, and this is a long term strategy to gain political power rather than physical power.
>>
No. 1013465 ID: 5c87b4

Ask Paks if he prefers boxers or briefs.
>>
No. 1013495 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163503248503.png - (212.67KB , 1000x1000 , 543.png )
1013495

"Why're you betraying crook again?"
>"'Cause someone's going to cash in on the bounty, and it may as well be me?"

At least he can keep his story straight.

"Last question. How do you feel about lifting the fog?"
>"I don't have much left after Crook's fall, and I don't think he's making it back up. I haven't cared much about the fog since. Lift it or don't, I'm not sure how I'm voting yet. Alright, if that's it, I think I'm out of here."
"See you later, Paks. Stop by my planetarium sometime."

All I've got left are inane questions about moonmen and underwear, and I'll keep it to myself.

Maybe Crook's trying to make me out to be the bad guy? Eh, if he were a good guy, it'd work, but me going to his base and trashing it would earn me a medal before a public outcry.
>>
No. 1013496 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163503250288.png - (331.82KB , 1000x1000 , 544.png )
1013496

Before I know it, it's a new day! I didn't get any word from Soletta about last night, so plain negotiations for the memory tank are still on standby.

Late in the morning, the tracker I gave to Paks moves to the edge of town and disappears.

It stays missing for 37 minutes before returning to town. I find it laying in some old rubble in the deep undercity and do a quick scan to make sure nothing weird happened with it.
>>
No. 1013497 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163503251288.png - (190.58KB , 1000x1000 , 545.png )
1013497

The logs looks legitimate. Paks got pretty deep in the fog. All that's left is to decide how to investigate the spot he made it to. Now I can toy with the idea of sending in expendable agents, myself, Delli and so on.
>>
No. 1013500 ID: 465a14

>>1013497
Send Delli's dakimakura of yourself equipped with a recorder.
>>
No. 1013502 ID: d9495a

Go in alone and get royally messed up as is proper. Delli can retrive your ravaged body later.

Or just bring the whole gang.
>>
No. 1013505 ID: 96c896

>>1013497
Bring a team. You're leading it, Delli can come if he wants, bring a couple of strong individuals for backup and as witnesses, plus if something goes wrong they can dive into the fog and get reinforcements.
>>
No. 1013512 ID: 15a025

I feel like checking out his fog bubble here might be a bad idea. It'd suck if he knew we got in and decided to smash the memory container or something.

Maybe we could get some of phantom's people and disguise ourselves as a member with them. Say we're archeologists or something digging around the fog pockets.
>>
No. 1013530 ID: 5c87b4

I'm still against sending anyone for the previously mentioned (>>1013365) reasons.
>>
No. 1013531 ID: 9a2966

>>1013497
Is it just me or does that go out into the fog and then back into Haze Town? Or is it just the 3D projection thing and it's actually way behind over there.

>How to do it
Tier your approach, strongest to strong support to less strong. If they've really got an ambush waiting, there's a few things you can do to defuse any risks. Delli goes first, obvs, since he's just about unbeatable, super-fast and all that, and is the natural target of any trump cards.

Juiced up as he is he might be able to do something about any number of things at Crook's base - secure your memories from being asploded, sit on Crook and his minions' beaten-up asses until they choose to self-implode or throw themselves in the fog, or just act as a sneaky scout to see if he can spy on what Crook's got going (they probably have people stationed, but hey, who knows). Hm. You could give him super-strong cuffs to apply on people, maybe? Or a paintgun. Even if they jump into the fog they'd still be cuffed or paint'd, and would be more obvious to any witnesses, might be able to track them down later. Eh. Maybe those are stupid ideas.

Of course, if this is a trap, they'd better expect the strongest card, so Delli might be put in a spot trying to deal with whatever they've got going. So you and a couple of your strongest (or Phantom, if she wanna risk her bacon) can come in a minute or two afterwards in case Delli needs the backup - you're not going first because you ARE just about beatable right now, under the right circumstances, and if you get beaten that power goes to someone who might then try to beat Delli with it while you're gone, however low those odds still are.

Then a squad of more regular peeps come five minutes after that, just so we have someone who can deal with the aftermath, captives, sift through Crook's base if there is one, can go back to deliver messages, etc. Mind that Delli doesn't have to engage, but if he can secure the memories from Crook himself or force him to a stand-off with a worse negotiation position and try to capture-convince him not to self-destruct, that's certainly a few fine goals.

If he's on the losing end, he might destroy the memories. That's not fine per se, but you've resigned yourself the possibility. You've also considered what else you'd be willing to trade Crook for their safe retrieval.

There's also the possibility that Crook might try to do something in town while you and Delli are gone. Phantom, Soletta and your other allies will have to deal, but they're free to send someone to come fetch you should something obvious go down.
>>
No. 1013574 ID: c0641b

>>1013497

What about surveillance? Could you send a little energy blob through that path from range and use it for clairvoyance, basically scouting before you go in?
>>
No. 1013659 ID: d9495a

Is there any way he could trap you out there for a long time?
>>
No. 1013756 ID: e25532

>>1013497
Do you know anyone particularly sneaky and or could you just remote pilot a drone through the fog?
>>
No. 1014300 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163615239592.png - (223.87KB , 1000x1000 , 546.png )
1014300

I jot down the position log, save for the last big line that goes straight from the fog back into town. That's where he threw it into the fog. The data just counted the teleportation as movement, so it drew a straight line from its last known location to where it showed up in town.

This spot is going to get investigated. I call some people up, starting with Phantom.

>"Hello?"
"Hey, Phantom. It's me, Pillet. I'm staging an assault operation, I need some hands. Want in?"
>"No thanks, isn't Delli enough?"
"We're leaving town someday, we should have some real world practice with dealing with possible threats."

I mean what I say. Part of me wants to ignore this whole segment of fog and carry on elsewhere, but if I'm willing to leap into an unknown universe outside of town, who am I to get cold feet going into a fog pocket just because Crook might've laid a trap? There's a possibility he might be trying to trap me for a long period of time, but what tech could he possibly have for that? Not much.

>"That's a fair point, but I'm not a front line vanguard. I have lots of work to be done. If you need hands, I can ask some of my old guard if they want in."
"Yeah, send 'em."
>>
No. 1014301 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163615240512.png - (198.97KB , 1000x1000 , 547.png )
1014301

An hour from now on the dot is when I schedule the meeting. Soletta says she'll send some promising, discreet fighters my way. Delli's coming even if I have to drag him by the tail. I'm not waiting for anyone past the scheduled time. If they can't show up in an hour, I don't want them.

At the hour, it's Delli, me, a couple phantom masks or whatever they call themselves now, a few of my own rebels, and...

"Splice, didn't you retire or something?"
>"Retirement doesn't mean crawling in a hole never to be seen again, ya know. Soletta told me you wanted some help with something, didn't tell me what."
"How do you feel about Crook?"
>"Fuck 'im."
"Good enough for me. Alright enough chatter, everyone shut up and listen up. We've got a zone I want us to hit.'
>"What's the ru - "
"What part of shut up listen up don't you get, goat! Save your questions for the end. Now, we all know - "
>>
No. 1014302 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163615241984.png - (162.31KB , 1000x1000 , 548.png )
1014302

Now Finnigan interrupts me by walking in here.

>"The meeting's already started, frill boy!"
"Soletta told me you were organizing some force. I gotta see this."
>"You're late!"
>>
No. 1014303 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163615243320.png - (142.37KB , 1000x1000 , 549.png )
1014303

>"But you also kicked my ass awhile back, so I'll make an exception for being a good fighter. You're in. Now, business. We know that if the town votes to lift the fog, we're going to spend years prepping people to deal with unknown variables. I'm not waiting till then, I'm going to start training people now. Delli's not going to be a one man show out there. I'm treating this thing like a real world mission to get us started, and here's how it's going to go down. I'm patting everyone down. Any recording devices are going to be collected. After that, I'll brief you all on what's going down, then we're all leaving immediately. No one leaves my sight on the way there unless you have explicit permission. If you've got a problem with any of this so far, leave."

No one gets up.

>"Alright, pat downs begin now! Phones and stuff in this basket."

I grab all their shit, and call in a secretary to pull the basket back out and seal the room so no other latecomers come crashing the party.
>>
No. 1014304 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163615245211.png - (246.13KB , 1000x1000 , 550.png )
1014304

"Now listen up. Crook's got a fog pocket. He's also got a container I want. I don't know if he or his fog pocket is here, but one of his old guard said he had a meeting with him and sold me this location. Could be fake, could be a trap, Crook could be there or not, who knows. If I had years I'd try to figure out all of the fog pockets Crook knows about so that if he bails and escapes town I can hit every pocket at once, but I'm not spending years playing the slow game for this crap. Worst case, I lose a month. There's no way he could trap me out there for a long time."

I put a slide on the projector.

"Here's the plan, you guys can have input after I explain. We'll be heading towards the fog pocket, then stop a couple steps short of the destination. At that point, we enter in one group at a time. Group one is a life sized Pillet doll that Delli found. It's outfitted with recorders, cameras, et cetera. I'm going to pilot it in, take a quick look, and signal whether we continue or abort. If we continue, group two rushes in as fast as they can, which should be extremely fast since group two is comprised entirely of Delli. Delli, your priority is to grab any energy canisters you can detect, then capture Crook and try to knock him out or something if he starts the process to blow himself up. That should take about 3 seconds, then group three goes in. Which is me. Then I do a final signal to continue, abort, or stand by. Group four, which is everyone else, will either respectively enter the pocket, enter the fog to get out, or stand by. Any questions?"
>>
No. 1014305 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163615246263.png - (179.65KB , 1000x1000 , 551.png )
1014305

>"Yeah I've got one." Splice raises his hands like a schoolboy. "Did you say there was a life sized Pillet doll?"
"Yeah."

I pull it out from under the desk.

>"Right." Splice looks it over. "Why?"
"So it can get blown the fuck up in combat, I hope!"
>"Oooooo!" Delli slaps the table. "She jealous!"
>"No, I mean why does it exist? Delli, why the hell do you have a Pillet sex doll?" says Splice.
>>
No. 1014306 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163615247493.png - (228.87KB , 1000x1000 , 552.png )
1014306

Delli gets out of his chair to take the doll from me.

>"First off it's not a sex doll, I've only used it as a body... you know what nevermind."

He pops up the doll's collar to pull on a drawstring, then lets it go.

>"Let's blow up the town, everybody!"

And the chortling down the table has begun. Delli does it again.

>"I'm the one in charge of this anarchy!"
>"It's like a second Pillet!" Delli states. "How could I not buy it?!"
"Who did you buy it from?"
>"I'm not a snitch!"

I want to bitch about this briefing getting derailed, but I can't. I brought this on myself the second I brought in the doll.

"Any other questions?"
>"Yeah." Finnigan speaks up again. "What's the point of us coming if we're just going to be tag-alongs going in last? Hell you're going in ahead of us twice."
>>
No. 1014314 ID: d9495a

Actually make sure the doll is not some wierd spy tool someone tricked Delli into keeping around.

As for the crew they do have a good point. Holding them for mop up is not the best live combat training. It is training but we brought a team for a reason. To be at our side not treated like children in a classroom.
>>
No. 1014316 ID: 465a14

>>1014306
Sounds like your problem if you don't already have motivation to be here tbh
>>
No. 1014320 ID: 9a2966

>>1014306
Couple of reasons. Crook’s kept a few aces up his sleeve, you’re pretty dang sure, and he probably wouldn’t be trying to pull shit if he didn’t think he had a shot against Delli at all. This could all be a huge giant trap for that purpose. Guy’s been sitting on a very important ol’ artifact for who knows how long, so he could have some other bad old shit around. Even nasty conventional ones. If Delli gets in trouble that you can’t immediately bail him outta, fourth group’s needed right fucking quick as support.

Second, anyone gets wasted by cheap shots or well-prepped foul plays is gonna empower Crook or his guys. You’d prefer nobody counter-levelling the enemy, so to speak. Going in fourth, seconds after the first entries smush past initial defenses and gather intel, is preventative tactics against losses.

Which, you have to remind them, if this is an exercise in trying to emulate what’s it like outside: one doesn’t get to come back from a defeat. So losses, needlessly self-sacrificial gambits, utterly reckless plays, are all gonna get a frownie face on their mission grade card.

Still dissatisfied? Then make your case against the above, but be snappy.

Also, technically everyone’s going in first since y’all have access to the same feeds from Poison Pillet here.
>>
No. 1014324 ID: 96c896

>>1014306
Tell them you aren't going to engage the main forces of the enemy without them. You're going in ahead of them to secure the entry point, for their safety. If anyone else wants to do the breach with you, that's fine, it's just additional risk for them, and possibly a bit less risk for you if there's anyone there that can give you trouble.
>>
No. 1014329 ID: 769845

Check inside the doll's pants, you're the one who it'd be least weird for. Also make a note to get yourself a Delli doll if you haven't already. Anyway when you send that doll in you'd better make it look a bit more believable, first! You wouldn't realistically be grinning when you went in there. Try to make the fake look more real. Maybe think up some double fake decoy to go with it so that they won't think it's weird 'you' just went in as-is? If this is a trick they know you'd be paranoid of a trick so if the doll doesn't seem like it's taking enough precautions they'll smell a rat.
>>
No. 1014369 ID: b73e3a

Tell them that it's precisely because no one ever expects the fourth group. So whatever defensive measures exist would be used on the first three groups. Also, because they are strong and reliable, right? Every mission needs a solid backbone. Or something like that. It's highly likely that a situation will arise that will require several more hands.

You should get a doll just like that. Because every budding dictator needs to learn to live with themselves. And to make a goat jealous.
>>
No. 1014399 ID: 7ffb59

If you want this to be a team exercise, then you should ask for their input. See if they have any suggestions to improve your plan. One of them could come up with something you didn't think about.
>>
No. 1014416 ID: b85205

Quite frankly, you're not likely to be useful, because Delli.

But in the event you're needed, it'll be because the first three failed, and we're trusting you to either follow orders on the fly from previous groups that need manpower, or to problem solve for yourselves to save a thoroughly fucked operation.

We've got a trump card, and we're playing it for all it's worth, but Crook ruled this place before, and you don't get that and keep it without being clever.

We've got raw power now, but you guys ran against this guy before, so you're the contingency if raw power fails.
>>
No. 1014582 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163643710506.png - (199.37KB , 1000x1000 , 553.png )
1014582

>Make sure the doll isn't bugged
Done; I made sure of it while I was planning this along with working through other basic logistics.

"There's a good chance that we're walking into a trap, and Crook's gotten at least one piece of ancient tech. It's harmless, but if he has something else that can hurt Delli when he goes in, we need backup. I'll be dishing out some minor energy clusters for all of you just to even things up if things get that far, but they probably won't. We're all probably not going to do anything of value, because Delli. And as for this doll - "

I hold it up and tap its eye.

"This is just an overdeveloped drone with cameras. You can all watch its feed with me if you don't want to feel left out. Also, this is a training mission for going out of town. Treat death as permanent. And with that, I'm now I'm open to input! Anything to say about the plan?"

Splice raises his hand again.

>"Move me up to group 1. I want to go in first, and if they have anything that can fuck Delli up, I don't want him being the first real person going through since that no one's going to get fooled by that doll. It's making a weird smile and everything."
"Like I haven't smiled when kicking ass before! That's still noble of you, Splice. To be willing to die 'permanently' for Delli's sake."
>"If Crook has ancient tech, there's a chance that Crook could eliminate Delli and consume his energy, yeah?"
"Virtually zero."
>"Yeah, well, I want it to be literally zero. I don't want Crook getting that kind of power."
"You know what? You're right. You're bumped up. You can tag along behind Poison Pillet."
>"... Poison?"
"That's what I'm calling her now. It. I'm calling it Poison."

No one else has any modifications, so I go through with some of the details. Things like an arrangement of handsignals, colored energy flares, and so on. Everyone here is at least keen enough to have basic memorization down, so we'll be as ready as we get.

"Follow me. We're taking an underground section. You can all hide your own energy levels right? Do it on the way over. With any luck, people who can sense energy will just think Delli's fucking about as usual."

Delli's been getting impressively good at hiding his energy to the point that he appears way weaker than he is. Even then, he's got such power that his weaker sensable energy aura is still way stronger than anyone else in town.
>>
No. 1014584 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163643711240.png - (148.13KB , 1000x1000 , 554.png )
1014584

We travel to the edge of the town at the starting point while I pass out bubble tickets. Delli goes in first, and I pick up the rear just to make sure no one slips out for some reason. I doubt any of these guys are spies, but I can never be sure.
>>
No. 1014585 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163643712197.png - (396.23KB , 1228x1000 , 555.png )
1014585

The bubbles I made for this stop a couple steps short, just so we're not so obviously here in numbers.

I leave a couple floating lightbulbs so that these guys don't drift too far from the path and fall into the fog. Everyone's made it, at least.

"All ready?" I whisper, making the signal to confirm. Everyone's ready, though Splice... "You look a little anxious."
>"What, me? You're the one who's way more high strung than I thought you'd be."
"What're you talking about?"
>"When we fought, you were always smiling and cackling like you loved it. This feels different."
>"Yeah!" Nilestro, one of my own, stage whispers. "You've sounded weird for awhile. If this is what leaving the town's gonna be like, you sure you want it?"
"No, stay focused, this isn't the spot to start weird debates. Splice, if you're going in with Poison, then get in there, I'm sending her in."
>>
No. 1014586 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163643715987.png - (213.66KB , 1260x1000 , 556.png )
1014586

I puppeteer Poison into the pocket with Splice right behind.

That's a moderately sized island. There's some ruins on it that looked touched up enough to count as usable shelter. It even has a working fountain! And an antenna, apparently. A single antenna won't reach town, but if he had relay trail through the tunnel here, he could have direct contact with town after all. It would also be well hidden, because I didn't see a thing.

With my real body so far back, I can't sense energy off any people. But I do see five individuals, and in spite of how untrustworthy Paks was, Crook's there by the house!

One of his goons had his eye out, and spots Poison and Splice the moment we drifted in the pocket.
>>
No. 1014588 ID: 96c896

>>1014586
So far so good. Delli's up next.
>>
No. 1014602 ID: b73e3a

Carry on with the plan.
>>
No. 1014606 ID: 9a2966

Zoom around on the edge to look into the window of the buildings to gather more intel, make it seem like your priority is securing the package. Tell Slice to aim for the antenna - no getting word out fast. Keep half an eye on where Crook is headed and what his buddies are doing, while avoiding getting taken out immediately. Seem wary.

Can you verify that the Crook you see isn't a body double and that he hasn't had the same idea you have had?

Everyone else carry out the plan. Nothing's gone tits-up in an unanticipated way yet, so keep the schedule.
>>
No. 1014607 ID: 769845

That kinda looks like an 'I've been waiting for you' pose, doesn't it? I wouldn't go out yet if I were you. Or Delli. Make the doll look like it's calling more people forward and send some folks in, you need enough to lock down the people you see and maybe more, then look like the doll is commanding. Cause some confusion first so that the doll isn't looked at too closely when it moves in, and so you're not noticed when you arrive to start looking around. Don't mind the antenna, whatever message it can send someone can take just by jumping off into the fog. For all we know it might be set to activate something when it's disabled. Just make sure no-one's going to activate something. It doesn't look like there's cameras to feed your terrible betrayal to the public or anything, but there could be inside? You've got two buildings and a downstairs to search. Not sure what's up with that bare patch beside the pillar and the wall over there, maybe something buried there?

The container's definitely too big for someone to carry without being seen, right?
>>
No. 1014615 ID: d9495a

Why not make a attempt to do this the diplomatic way? Fly your puppet over to Crook and tell him you are here to politely request your memories.

As a fine upstanding citizen and future office holder in the new government he surly would not object to proving himself a trustworthy sort right?
>>
No. 1014620 ID: c0641b

>>1014586

What are the odds they're dumb enough to not realize this is a doll? Just imagine bluffing your way through this with that creepy thing.
>>
No. 1014640 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163650592881.png - (92.43KB , 1000x1000 , 557.png )
1014640

>Body double? Posing while waiting for you?
I'm already figuring Crook knew I was coming, but if that's a body double, it's way better than Poison.

I keep my hand up to signal the group to stand by, then speak to Splice.

"Let's circle around. Don't bother destroying that antenna yet." Turning an antenna off can send a message all on its own.

We fly around the island at a distance, just to see a few more tables and plants along the top side. A fly by isn't telling me what the buildings or half buried container are about. There's a few cameras, but I still wonder if anyone can tell the difference between me and Poison from this far back.

>"You two." Crook's managed to get a loudspeaker from the house while we flew around. "Land and explain what you're doing here."
"Who cares!" We land by the antenna, because there's no security cameras there and I want to see if Crook actually thinks it's me. I'm not banking on it, but it would be funny. "You know why I'm here! Where's the container?"
>"That depends. Where are my energy clusters or my positions of power?"
"Oh, right!"
>>
No. 1014641 ID: 5fc3a0
File 163650593504.png - (304.12KB , 1000x1000 , 558.png )
1014641

I signal in Delli.

>"I don't sense any canisters around!" Delli snags Crook before anyone else has the time to even face him.

My memory should have an energy signature, and Delli's gotten good at detection. I doubt the memory tank is here.
>>
No. 1014642 ID: d9495a

Welp time to let this play out nice and polite. Check to see if our paranoia was warranted or if Crooks play is just what it looks like.
>>
No. 1014645 ID: 769845

Or it was never anywhere to start with. It's still possible Crook's been faking. Even if you don't believe that, it might be a line to go with if you want to make yourself look a bit better? You wanted to confirm he had a real container at all before you made any sort of deal with someone like him? If you wanted to. Shut him off from talking bad about you, maybe hold the door open for his underlings to not think so bad of you as they might do otherwise. Bit hard to believe you would have gotten your hands on what you wanted by force and then paid just to be nice, I know, but you are dealing with a guy literally called Crook who was on a lot of people's bad sides.

Anyway, someone had to have come up with energy shielding some time, so it's not impossible it's still here. If you can contain the stuff at all you could theoretically contain it better, right? And this place is too nice not to have a good nosy about in. Two buildings, underground bunker, could be some cool stuff. Never know what other handy things Crook might have thought of keeping in his back pocket out here. Round up Crook's crew to sit in a circle all nice while you call more of your lot in for a search. Still don't come by yourself yet, in fact continue puppeting your doll around to look like you're searching. But first tell Delli to bring Crook out off the island and over the fog and hold him, immediately. This still could be a trap for Delli somehow.

Hm. Is it possible this island is actually still only a waypoint along to another island? That there's another trail going off further into the fog? That might explain why there's an antenna but you didn't see any relays. There might be somewhere else in range. You'd better make sure no-one's in there about to send off a message you wouldn't like.
>>
No. 1014652 ID: 292976

>>1014641
time to kidnap crook
>>
No. 1014654 ID: 96c896

>>1014641
Seems fine so far.
Squad 3 enter! That's you. Head down and tell everyone present to not make any sudden moves. Then signal squad 4 to come in, and restrain everyone. Then you get to search the place! ...oh I bet that antenna is there so that if shit goes tits up in here they'll alert another station somewhere deeper in the fog to go dark. Wherever it's pointing to is probably where the memory is. Might want to make investigating that building your first priority. Though... there's also a bunker, looks like?

This is a very interesting island! Phantom's archaeological team will be pleased.
>>
No. 1014658 ID: 9a2966

>No container sensed
Not guaranteed. Something hid that container from you for literally thousands of years' worth of searching (could've been obscurity of a pocket, but still...), so it could still be on the island. Definitely worth more than a cursory search.

>>1014641
Verify that there's no other surprises around. What is Crook holding? Might be a dead man's switch of sorts. Or a weapon? Delli should take care, but perhaps not instantly disarm him in case of the former, just lock his arm, prevent him from doing anything with it.

Tell Crook you're still negotiating, but his position has understandably shifted. He can consider himself under house arrest - you don't want him leaving your people's sight from here on until the container is secure. If he blows himself up, or starts making outlandish demands - beyond what was already on the negotiation table - you will make it a sidequest to punch him into insignificance.

If he complains about you securing his stuff here, tell him the number of bases and hidden getaways his people ruined for you and yours. The exact number. Unless he's got something here that's worth it to him to risk his trump card over, he'd better stow it - actually, heck, if there *is* something here that's worth that much, then why not negotiate over that as well. Maybe that'll get him closer to where he wants to be.

"End of the day, Crook, looks like you ain't got the leverage you thought. Yes, I want that container, and I want it bad. But it's not a 'keys to snowglobe', 'sell out my friends' or 'this will fix everything that's wrong with Haze Town' level of bad. Consider you ain't a gang boss no longer, just some fella wanting to stay top dog, and dang near everyone's questioning why the hell should you."

Address his gang members.

"Stick around. Y'all are getting flagged in town as Crook's peeps now, so maybe consider your futures as well."
>>
No. 1014662 ID: fef02c

If it's not here then we have no reason to be delicate.
Kill anyone not surrendering. Capture those that do, and ransack the place to figure out what is all for.
>>
No. 1014667 ID: 36784c

>>1014662
We can't exactly capture anyone, since they could just selfdestruct to kill themselves to avoid that. Sure, they'll spend time in the fog until they respawn, but it's better than being captured by us.
>>
No. 1014678 ID: fec07f

>>1014641
If we've actually got crook is this time we bust put the mind reading?
>>
No. 1014684 ID: b73e3a

That was easy. Too easy... but whatever.

Ask Crook if you're doing a good job in acting according to his plan.
>>
No. 1014696 ID: fb1eae

You are a proper politcal figure now so act like one! Crook gets treated politely and so do his men unless they act up.

Go slow and careful and don't back Crook all the way into a corner. If there are deadman's switches full of explosives on your memory jar pushing him to hard might be a bad idea.

"Crook I don't mind you making a play for some power and if you turn over a new leaf we will need lots of career gang leaders turned politian's. But I can't bargin with power or influence I don't have."

"If you hand over my memories and knowledge of where they were found you will get the best deal. A chance to go legit with the new system. Something similar to the deal we worked out actually. Or you can make this complicated and we will just have to see how it all plays out."
>>
No. 1015068 ID: 15a025

This could have all been a setup seeing how the canister doesn't seem to be here.

Call in Delli for now though, maybe he isn't close enough to sense it yet?
>>
No. 1022358 ID: 5fc3a0
File 164400306285.png - (271.16KB , 1000x1000 , 559.png )
1022358

This is too easy. Fighting gangs has been trivial lately, but I expected more out of Crook! It still makes me think this is a setup, but I'm not going to abort this operation because my enemy is acting incompetent.

This could just be a waypoint island, but that doesn't change the plan for now. I could negotiate with Crook like a real political figure, but the guy's toyed with warcrimes, using my memories as ransom!

"Pat him down, Delli!" I call out through Poison. He's holding a megaphone, but his thick clothes could hide a lot more. "Crook, we're taking you and your guys in. Don't blow yourself up or I'll punch you into insignificance!"
"Haha, really?" Delli asks, pulling a gun from Crook's clothes. "You packed heat, Crook? What did you think that was going to do?"
>>
No. 1022359 ID: 5fc3a0
File 164400309666.png - (274.87KB , 1000x1000 , 560.png )
1022359

"Come on." I tell everyone hanging back. "We're going in together. Finnigan, and you two with the masks, gather up Crook's crew and knock 'em out if they try blowing themselves up. Delli will handle Crook while I talk to them. The rest of you search the island with Splice."

I already didn't see anything with Poison on my flyby of the island and I don't see or sense anything new as I turn the bend with the others, so there's no point is beating around the bush. There's also no point in negotiating if I can read his memories and confirm the existence and location of the memory tank!

>Someone had to have come up with energy shielding some time, so it's not impossible it's still here.
It's virtually impossible. Blocking energy isn't something someone just comes up with and then does. It's closer to being on par with memory extraction than it is making vending machines or energy blasts.

But on reflection, this entire scenario has put me on edge. The one founder who could block energy, Aumstail, is the only one that could have possibly evaded Delli's rampage. She's the one who put me on the wheel and made me do what she wanted, meaning that for a time, *she* was the town's memory extractor. She could have done anything she wanted with that power, including making her own memory backups somewhere else without me remembering. I'm more tense now that I've remembered her, because she's one of the most dangerous ones to engage in combat with.

Delli just grabbed Crook's gun. Crook was going to use a gun, against us, whos energy shrugs off bullets without effort? And now that I'm thinking of Aumstail, the only person who could block that energy so well that even Delli might be affected?
>>
No. 1022360 ID: 5fc3a0
File 164400310784.png - (164.88KB , 1200x1200 , 561.png )
1022360

This lead has looked like an obvious trap from the start, but now I have a sinking feeling about this. Maybe it's nothing - it's just instincts; I can't place any of my memories that would yield useful information.

If my paranoia is justified then I'm nearly at the point of no return. I need to either trust my instincts and get Delli - and Splice I guess - off that island right now, or go in hard.
>>
No. 1022361 ID: e07ed2

>>1022360
trust to the power of friendship :) uwu

also possibly more importantly, delli's desire to bone you
>>
No. 1022368 ID: d9495a

Trust your instincts then. Worse case is you look a bit paranoid for no reason.

This feels like a trap for people who are way to used to energy combat and would falter if that power got distrupted and be easily taken out with guns. Then all that power could be harvested.
>>
No. 1022369 ID: c92a02

Better than being trapped here forever, right?
>>
No. 1022400 ID: 9a2966

Go hard. You either get to be paranoid and wrong and come off as a loon (and what else is new?), or paranoid and right and in a position to deal with a serious threat you hadn't even been appropriately aware of before.

One who could fuck with your memories again if you fuck up bad.

One who could initiate a sincere-seeming betrayal by extracting enough of a person's "loyalty" memories.

...

Go really hard.

Tell Delli to throw you the gun, KO the others (including Crook) and crack this island in half ASAP, at a distance - start with the bigger building. Then declare:

"Scenario 'Permadeath Aumstail!' is go! Remember what I told you!"

(The others won't know what Aumstail means, but they do know about you calling this training for a permadeath scenario. It also sounds appropriately ominous in a 'Wait, she expected this, remembers me and figured out how to kill me?' way, if Aumstail is actually here and observing.)

"Any dirty trick to stay out of harm and in the game, you better fucking pull it! Our powers might get blocked, so make your initial moves count! Stay alive, duck and cover, grab arms and ammo from Crook's downed!"

You could send Poison in a suicide bombing against one of the buildings, timed to hit just after Delli's first crack-attempt, just full bore 'knock a comet through a door/window/wall' type attack - something that will still keep going if your power suddenly fades, based on sheer velocity alone - and could take out any armed goons inside who are about to go outside. And make a breach you could exploit. If you feel confident you can keep it in the air, you could also keep it in reserve as a one-off suicide bomb where needed.

Be glad you brought a proper backup team - if numbers are going to matter here more so than usual you at least have more bodies than just you and Delli.

Reflect if Crook is actually in cahoots with who you think he is - or is using some trick of hers - you are going to make his day miserable if you make it through this and he's still KO'd and captive.

Assuming his memories weren't messed with. Fuck. You're going to have to deal with the assumption any number of people could be mindfuckled now. Better make this count - better see it through and figure what was up - or you're REALLY going to end up as a paranoid mess.

Take your own advice and take cover while the island is getting demolished, but make sure Delli does as well as needed - he's the king in this potential multidimensional chess gambit, and he might still be able to pull some moves thanks to being ridiculously OP, even against a power blocker... or else he'd have lost to Aumstail initially, way back when.

But, yeah, like... everyone else here better fucking take a bullet or several for him if need be.
>>
No. 1022401 ID: 9a2966

>>1022370
Probably because blowing yourself up requires using power and you can't do that if it's blocked.

In this scenario, one can probably 'get away' by leaping into the fog - but there might be tricks in place to prevent that as well. If we're really dealing with a memory-retaining last founder - or her legacy - pretty much anything goes.
>>
No. 1022404 ID: 96c896

>>1022360
Trust your instincts. It makes no sense for Crook to pull out a GUN against you. Assume everyone's shielding is compromised. You're enough to handle things from here on, I expect. Worst case scenario is you get captured again, and you can probably just blow yourself up to escape this time. Why didn't you do that before?

>>1022401
Er, right. Great, then... how do we even fight that?

Regardless, getting Delli out is the main concern here. If he gets killed and his energy stolen, then we are FUCKED.

Slicing the island apart to reveal whatever tricks they have up their sleeve is a good idea. We could also do a small experiment to confirm shields are compromised- a tiny amount of friendly fire. Something that wouldn't kill anybody, but would tell us if shields are down.

Our true objective is just to capture Crook though, so we can steal his memories. If Delli can take him while escaping, then everyone can just leave.
>>
No. 1022410 ID: 9a2966

>how do we even fight that?
The anti-power power likely requires focus and concentration to use, so KO or 'kill' them and the user probably can't do shit. They may even be unable to user their own powers offensively or defensively (although I wouldn't entirely discount it) when in use, so would rely on help or aid to see their ploys through.

Overwhelming force before they can bring their bull to bear might also be workable. At the very least it might take out whatever goonsquad was laying in wait - or parts of them, which will level the playing field. The fact Crook's people will probably be better armed for an ambush is pretty oof, which is why sudden overwhelming force is also a must.

He could have his own guys out here in the fog, waiting for a signal to get in there, all armed and ready.

Speaking of which, we can also presume - from the fact big-wig probably-has-more-power-than-his-crew Crook was sitting on a gun - that the anti-power power probably works on an area, or on everyone within a certain range. Otherwise he'd have stuck to his power powers, rather than pick up an actual literal antiquated tool of violence.
>>
No. 1022413 ID: 9a2966

>>1022410
Mind you, all of this is speculation and Pillet suggesting Aumstail was one of the most dangerous ones does make me nervous for what manner of danger we might be facing.

If there was a way to verify whether one's memories had been fuckled with, we could just pull Crook for a trip down memory lane and GTFO ASAP. But it might be giving up an opportunity to counter-ambush an ambush, if it can be managed.
>>
No. 1022510 ID: 15a025

I think we need to go in hard and all out here. If your paranoia is right, we need to snip Aumstail out of the picture while we can. Doesn't sound like someone we want running around free and out of our radar.
>>
No. 1022586 ID: 5fc3a0
File 164418155028.png - (350.42KB , 1563x1200 , 562.png )
1022586

Worst case, I come off as overly intense. Nothing new!

>Why didn't you blow yourself up when you were captured before?
There's multiple ways to blow myself up, but it all needs energy control that Aumstail can prevent. In other words, I couldn't, and if I get caught again, I can't. Same with anyone else. Even Delli! The more energy he has, the more he has to use to blow himself up.

The idiots gawk at my sudden urgency instead of leaping, but they start to follow when they see me unleash all the energy I can to fly at Crook! Delli might hesitate, too, but he's already on the island. I have to go in hard. I can not afford to let Aumstail test her power on Delli when it's just him, Splice, and a disconnected Poison.

"Permadeath scenario, go! Grab their guns and clear the island!" Those are all the words I can get out before I reach Crook.
>>
No. 1022587 ID: 5fc3a0
File 164418156103.png - (248.13KB , 1200x1200 , 563.png )
1022587

Got him! I just need a second. Not even a second, as I haven't let the millenia put a speck of rust on my memory extraction. I can't think any faster than normal, but absorbing a memory is nearly instant. Once absorbed, I can recall it as though I had experienced it in full. The split second I need is to find the appropriate memories, and compartmentalize them. I experience them as though I were Crook, and if I didn't compartmentalize them, I'd start taking on Crook's personality.

Like anyone in town who isn't me, Crook's head has the organization of a crumpled up cobweb. But that's fine, it's still nice and compact. I have to enter through his surface thoughts, and based on those thoughts, I can enter the relevant memories.

His thoughts are of Delli and me approaching, meaning I could get start getting memories he has of us two. He also has lingering thoughts about his gun, which he does think is important! He's more distraught about losing it than he let on, which is fueling my paranoia about the whole thing. He's also confused about me flying in... oh, he actually thought Poison was me?! I thought there was no way he'd get fooled by that! But that's why he was confused why something hadn't happened yet.

Normally I'd mull over which memories to dig into, but I'm wasting no time. Plus, every single one of his surface thoughts form a venn diagram, and there's a single memory where they all overlap. The choice is obvious.
>>
No. 1022588 ID: 5fc3a0
File 164418157437.png - (387.18KB , 1200x1200 , 564.png )
1022588

Memory Extraction - Crook [AB-12-a] - 25 hours prior

>"Do you understand the plan?"

All she's told me to do is be bait for Pillet, and she doesn't think I understand this basic plan?

"Are you absolutely certain she can't forcibly read my memories?"
>"We've gone over this so much, Crook. She told me herself that she cannot extract memories of those who refuse. I have the utmost confidence she was honest with me, as while I cannot extract memories myself, my methods of extracting the truth are well researched."
"How do you know she hasn't learned how to force people since then? That was thousands of years ago."
>"Aha, yes, your concerns are well placed. We cannot assume she hasn't learned how to force memories out, but if she has, it's clear she didn't use this ability in her more recent struggles against you. If she had, that fight would have lasted for months, not decades. But that's something we can't plan around. If we lure her into my energy blocking field, then her specialty won't be a danger."
"Our 'plan' is clumsy. Sending Trezil was a clumsy effort and it only made things awkward. All we're doing is throwing snare traps around and hoping she steps in one."
>"Yet you've agreed that this is the best we've got. As many uncontrolled variables as there are, doing something in the middle of town would be chaotic and foolish. I'm aware of the issues, but we must make haste. Each day I spend out of hiding is a day she could learn I'm involved, and if she learns this, you'll find that her tactics will become efficient and focused. Brutal, even. I just do not think you fully grasp how terrifying her specialty is. You are okay with killing Delli if necessary, yes?"
"If it has to be that way. I'll remind you that I'd rather have his power than lose it to the fog."
>"I'm aware. Take no risks in doing so, please. Pillet is the important one. If I activate my field, and she escapes after that, our interactions will be concluded. Now, help me calm my nerves, tell me the plan so I know you remember every detail."

There's nothing to do but wait, so I cover the details with her.

End of Memory
>>
No. 1022589 ID: 5fc3a0
File 164418160862.png - (247.60KB , 1200x1200 , 565.png )
1022589

Damn my instincts for being right, Aumstail is here! The conversation was the vivid part, and it took place on the inside of this very island. Crook's recital of the plan lets me remember its details through him, which I can recall as needed like any other memory. There were a lot of what-if scenarios that aren't relevant, like what happens if I don't show up or if I show up with an army.

Now that I've brought 8 people including me, I recall the plan. Aumstail is inside the island, holding an energy blocking field just large enough to cover the interior of the island. That way, her and at least 15 individuals armed with firearms cannot be sensed. She'll be monitoring the security cameras for my arrival. Once I land, she'll begin expanding her field to include the entire fog pocket. This takes three seconds, and I've already spent one extracting Crook's memory.

That slanted building further in on the island leads to the island's interior. In two seconds, right as the energy blocker engulfs us, several soldiers are going to rush out of that slanted building and start opening fire on everyone but me. That, and a fence is going to deploy to prevent us from just being able to jump off.

There's enough time to get another memory or two of Crook's, such as any remaining information about this island not covered by that one memory.

And then there's Delli. His energy won't disappear completely, but he won't be totally immune to bullets. Even if he can brute force some weak energy blasts and still is the strongest of my group of 8, his immediate safety is more important than mine. I have to consider spending the last two seconds I have to toss him off the island before the fence deploys.
>>
No. 1022593 ID: d9495a

Trust your Goat.

Right now you should be focused on continuing your momentum. Your crew will be following in hot in a moment and you need to find them cover and get them weapons.

Grab Delli in your other hand and continue your charge into one of the buildings. Blow it open so your crew can follow in as they land. Get Delli focusing on wiping out gun totting bad guys so he can throw guns to your crew.

You bellow out instructions based on your memory map.
>>
No. 1022605 ID: 9a2966

>Poison multitask
Launch the Poison Pillet straight down Aumstail's mouth through the doors of the slanted building at speed, timed just as they're supposed to be opening and the blocking field hits. Doesn't matter if it gets depowered - momentum'll take care of the rest, and without powers it should make for a painful mess.

Though it could pass along a message to Slice as it leaves. Like "Kill d cams." as it zips off. He's off on his own up there, might be able to pull some flanking moves and someone needs to be warned that the cameras will coordinate gungoon efforts. Losing eyes on the situation should also be cause for worry for Aumstail, especially if...

>2 second trial, 1 second solution
Turn to Delli - he's probably not going to let himself get thrown - and make yourself look WORRIED to rapidly impress him with the importance of your next word(s). Say something like "Instahole!" or "Tunnel now!" and point straight down.

Or extract a memory of the island's interior layout and point Delli so you can for sure blast a path to a section inside before the blocking field reaches. Bonus points if it's in the direction Aumstail is holing up in.

The hole he's blasting (IF he gets it in time) might meet the anti-power wave and get cancelled, but best case you have a hole to the interior of the island that you can follow and charge down, avoiding the goonsquads stationed to capture you and protect Aumstail (not to mention it'll lessen the effects of her cameras). Even in a more worse-case scenario you might still have a foxhole to jump into and snipe back from with Delli's power and Crook's gun.

Apply powered elbow to Crook's head in the last second before the wave reaches - and blasts to his other outside buddies (excepting our traitor). He's a liability once you no longer can extract memories.

Get some of your team to follow you if they got in intact and you have a hole to invade with. If the door got messed up by Poison Pillet, direct some there to grab guns - but don't linger, if you got a shock and awe entrance, use it before they can reposition.

>"as I cannot extract memories myself"
If she IS the only other memory extractor, she's been lying to Crook. But I don't think we have the time to convince him he's been pawn'd and then some. Though if we did... this situation would turn around real quick. His goons listen to him, not Aumstail, who sounds like she's been living deep in hiding from fear of all things you.

>Post-timetrial
Tell Delli as you're going down the hole (or lying in a foxhole, having dragged him down with you): "There's a founder. She's an energy blocker. That's how she survived you. She's also a memory extractor. That's how I forgot. Until now. Not good. But also good. If we can get her. And not be got."

Or something like that.
>>
No. 1022606 ID: 53560f

Considering that Aumstail knows you can read memories, I’m willing to bet at least part of the information she fed her underlings is false, as such, I’m hesitant to put all our eggs in one basket. Throw Delli of the Island while shouting whatever key info/instructions you can cram in the 2 seconds you have left and get to cover. Make sure to grab the gun from him too, he won’t need it but you will.
>>
No. 1022608 ID: 96c896

>>1022589
Toss Delli off the island. He can assault it from a distance and save everyone. Since you're excluded from the assault you can spend the next second finding out where Crook stashed your memory.
>>
No. 1022679 ID: 9a2966

>>1022608
Memory might be a lie to draw Pillet in. Even if it wasn't, Crook would probably not be the one sitting on that info: it'd be Aumstail.
>>
No. 1022785 ID: 2a1481

Can Crook FEEL his memories being read? You could possibly blast his skull in and pretend like that's what the head grab was for.
>>
No. 1023313 ID: 15a025

Yeet the poor goat boy off the island. We're going to be in worse danger if he ends up losing all his power, and even worse if it gets absorbed.
>>
No. 1023467 ID: b01382

>>1022589
My brain is too smooth for this quest. Ill continue to lurk and leave it to smarter people to make the decisions making.
All i know is that we have 1 gun. I dont know if becoming more powerful increase youre reflexes (Neo tier bullet dodging), but i wonder about these guns. Are they as strong as a normal gun but are 200x more effective againdt people, or do the bullets just react normally when hitting normal solid objects? I'm wonder this cuz whats stopping us from pick up chunks out the ground and using them as shields?

Idea:? If we can find cover away from all the incoming mooks and the 2 oe 1 seconds we have left, we can give Poison the gun to shoot at the mooks. Its not like a headshot would make the doll not continue to work.
>>
No. 1023504 ID: f57349

Maintain momentum, continue in a straight line off the edge of the island and into the fog, dragging Crook along with you. That gets you personally out of the trap and Crook back to territory where you can interrogate him at leisure, and you can still communicate with the rest of your team here through the telepresence robot. Quick enough, remaining enemy forces might not have gotten a good enough look for ID, and still think the decoy is the real you.
>>
No. 1023514 ID: 34dfce

>>1023504
This is the best course of action.
>>
No. 1023515 ID: 36784c

>>1022589
>Once I land, Aumstail will begin expanding her field to include the entire fog pocket.
>a fence is going to deploy to prevent us from just being able to jump off.
Getting Delli off the island and before the fence comes up would be best.

Because if he gets caught in the energy blocking field while being off the island, he’ll just fall into the fog and be sent back to town.
>>
No. 1023533 ID: 96c896

Maybe we can just cut to the chase and tell Delli to blow up the island?
>>
No. 1023536 ID: f04a82

Grab Delli, Fly off the island out of range of the energy dampening field, have Delli blow up the island.
>>
No. 1023569 ID: 96c896

Aw hell if we toss Delli away he won't be able to fight, because the ENTIRE fog bubble is going to be neutralized.
Well, do it anyway. We're heavily outnumbered and have almost no guns. Everyone that remains on the island will die, which means you cannot let Delli die.
Honestly, Pillet should probably evacuate with Delli.

I do have one idea for a plan that MIGHT work, though. Fire an energy blast to collapse the door they're planning on using. Then they can't get to you, and we can either work on breaking through the fence or using the one gun (and/or other guns we steal from the troops on the surface) to snipe them through the rubble.
If there's time to make a second attack I'd use it to eliminate more of the troops up here before they can draw guns.
>>
No. 1032572 ID: 96c896

Changing my vote to keeping Delli around. This is why:
if we collapse the stairs and eliminate all forces on the surface, that gives us time to fortify and prepare for the bigger fight to come. We can use Delli's small amount of remaining energy manipulation to use materials from the structures on the surface to create ballistic shields at the very least. It might even be possible to detach some cables and use the electricity as a weapon. Plus, Delli should be able to curve energy attacks around cover, even if they're weak.
>>
No. 1032577 ID: b01382

>>1032572
>>1032572
holy shit. Well hello to you from three months ago.
>>
No. 1032585 ID: b01382

I cant tell if this quest is on hiatus or its shelved food good. The story is pretty neat, but i still wondee if people can habe kids here. I never did see a child in the story.
>>
No. 1032849 ID: 41cf4d

Lagotrope tends to update their quests in spurts, usually with months of break between. You can add a suggestion to a thread without bumping it by typing 'sage' in the email field.
>>
No. 1032855 ID: b01382

>>1032849
I got nothing to add until the next update. I only caught up to the story a few months ago, and even then I don't have the motivation to add anything. Yet.
>>
No. 1054155 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167418830686.png - (222.11KB , 1200x1000 , 566.png )
1054155

"Delli flee!"
>"Wha-?"
>>
No. 1054156 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167418832570.png - (468.98KB , 1200x1200 , 567.png )
1054156

One hand takes his gun, the other tosses him off the island while the first drops the gun to throw an energy bomb into Crook's building. I also blow it up while I still can, and the windows are blown out.

Since I have some good control over Poison still, I throw her towards that far building's entrance to serve as a distraction. I bet it's going to open the second the barrier goes up.
>>
No. 1054157 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167418834343.png - (620.38KB , 1200x1200 , 568.png )
1054157

And I feel it. The air around me solidifies and my sense of energy and auras disappears. It's times like these I'm especially glad that I've got perfect control of my memories, because having all the memories of the last time I was subjected to this come flooding back into my mind would not help me with what I've got to do.

I've got other concerns too! There's another explosion that shakes the island while a giant circular fence swings up and cuts us off from just running off the island. Zero doubt it's electrified.

But Delli cleared the fence. He can even fly! Like I thought, Aumstail is either rusty, or she's simply never honed her craft! This feeling is still oppressive enough to keep him from blowing up the island. If my gut instinct is right, then he has just enough energy to fly around. Even if Aumstail's bubble doesn't extend out to him, any blast he sends inside will be like throwing a fireball into water.

"I'm falling!" One of Phantom's guys above me yells. Any fliers whos names aren't Delli are on their way to the ground.
I'm not waiting for them.
>>
No. 1054158 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167418836431.png - (577.87KB , 1200x1200 , 569.png )
1054158

"Act alive and take cover! Stay off the island Delli, I didn't throw you off for fun!" I yell back to everyone else and dive into Crook's building. My bomb was too quick and weak to kill people with as much energy as Crook's best. It didn't even blast open this door in the hall! But it's given off so much smoke that they're firing blindly in a panic.

Outside there's a couple other gunfights going on. The ground is rumbling concerningly, but one problem at a time!
>>
No. 1054159 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167418837324.png - (496.58KB , 1200x1200 , 570.png )
1054159

Judging by their aim, Crook brought them in for their loyalty, not their ability to fight in conventional combat. All they're doing is kneeling right out where I can shoot them. So I do! I don't know how much I need to conserve my ammo, but the faster I drop them the more ammo I get from them.
>>
No. 1054162 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167418846024.png - (335.58KB , 800x800 , 571.png )
1054162

"Splice, you okay?!" I yell out towards the radar building. There's more gunfire in there, and I can't pinpoint where the other gunfight is. I'd love to rush in to help him, but I think if any of the old ganglords know how to use a gun, it'd be Splice. He's not responding.

There goes Finnigan and one of Phantom's people dropping down in front of the fountain. I don't know where the other phantom or my two rebels are, but that must be them firing off more guns somewhere around the building where I can't see.

And finally, Poison, if I count her as her own unit. I've lost control of her, but like I thought, that slanted building's door opens up. She's on course and ragdolls through it. I'm pretty pleased to hear them get tricked and open fire on a puppet! I'm not pleased that it sounds like a half dozen heavy machine guns doing it. With any luck, she's our only casualty so far.

There's even more noise in there, too. It's some kind of engine, a -
>>
No. 1054163 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167418846743.png - (223.87KB , 800x800 , 572.png )
1054163

"Tank! We've got a tank!" The others have better have heard me yelling over the gunfire! It's dangerous, but it's not the kind of tank the founders would have access to. This is just a bog standard modern tank, easy to take care of if we remove any foot support coming up from behind it.
>>
No. 1054167 ID: 99f29a

Cool, fuck up the treads quick like.
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No. 1054197 ID: e7c7d3

Got any explosives to chuck at it?
>>
No. 1054198 ID: f8083d

Ideally we'd need some explosives and someone close enough to the slanted building to throw them.

Failing that, we need cover. Preferably some cover the tank gunner is not willing to shoot just to get at you.
>>
No. 1054200 ID: fa3034

Do you have anything to stop it where it's at right now? Clog the tunnel so it's support tropes can't flood out?
>>
No. 1054202 ID: 15c72a

>>1054163
Does your squad even know what a tank is...?
With that cannon, anything but the heaviest cover isn't going to last long. If you have to flank it to take it down, then some of your allies will have to distract it, or the other way around if you can communicate how they're going to destroy it. Whoever's doing the feint is going to need very solid cover. Maybe that building over there?

You're actually in a decent position to distract the tank, since you've cleared the ground floor. Encouraging it to fire upon the second floor means it won't hit the ground and the only shrapnel will come from the walls it hits. ...what happens if the cannon shoots the fence? Could you get it to blow a hole big enough to escape through?
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No. 1054203 ID: a8f755

How quickly can you take out it's treads? There's no clearance either side for people to get past if the tank is immobilised, and the chassis is currently tilted upwards so it can't bring it's gun to bear. If you can do it before it gets out of that crate or building it's in, I'd go for the treads.
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No. 1054205 ID: 30b9f6

Dead its tread.

Get someone to distract the tank while you do. Or distract the tank while someone else do.

Also: time to upgrade 'gun' to 'better guns'.

Actually, Delli's at the edge of the field and low on power and all but - and this is just a thought - could he retreat far enough away that he'd have the power to conjure up mass - like dirt, stones, spears - and then chuck that mass into the zone at full tilt? As long as it keeps velocity he could play long range sniper support. Or artillery, pending how hard he can chuck.
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No. 1054225 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167425292998.png - (278.36KB , 800x800 , 573.png )
1054225

>Does your squad even know what a tank is?
They do! Tanks and big guns are common for the gang's lower rank and file that aren't given food. The higher up the totem pole people got on the gang, the less familiar they get with conventional combat. They just blow it up, but they know what it is.

My rebellion was very familiar with tanks and how to take them out, but I got too high up the totem pole and didn't think I'd need explosives. If I can get close, I can jam a gun just right in a wheel and fuck it and its treads up, but I can't run that fast before it clears the tunnel, it can train its turret on me, its foot support has a clear shot on me, as does the tank gunner if it has one. It's going to be tricky.

Now if Delli knew how to conjure objects, he's got plenty of energy out there to do it! But he doesn't know how to do that. Although...

"Delli! Are you outside of the bubble?!"
>"Yep! It stops ju - "
"Crush your phone into a bullet!" He doesn't need to conjure anything, he's already got material!
>>
No. 1054226 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167425294210.png - (183.94KB , 800x800 , 574.png )
1054226

>"I have a better idea!"

Is he - He's taking off his shirt. I know him and I'm sure it's because unlike his phone, his shirt hasn't downloaded or taken a bunch of raunchy photos he's unwilling to part with.
>>
No. 1054227 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167425295460.png - (138.19KB , 1200x800 , 575.png )
1054227

That still should be about 100 grams, many times heavier than a bullet. So if he has good control over his energy and puts it into a smooth, compact pellet, then!
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No. 1054228 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167425301820.png - (503.20KB , 1200x1200 , 576.png )
1054228

"Nice shot!"

He remembered to hit the treads and everything. Now the tank is dead in the water and blocking the tunnel. The turret might be active, but Delli can handle it with, I don't know, his shorts. There's enough room for the people behind it to crawl over and out of it, but that's a heck of a lot more awkward than if they could walk out behind a moving tank.
>>
No. 1054229 ID: 99f29a

Move besides the tank. Range of motion isn't great and lets you surprise anyone coming up a bit.
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No. 1054236 ID: 53560f

So Delli’s shot hit the treads, which means the main gun is probably still active. However the tank is stopped right in the entrance and it doesn’t look like the foot troops behind it can get through without crawling on and around it.

Is it possible to start throwing things off the island for Delli to use as ammunition? Could just have him fire a few more shots down the bunker entrance if so. Otherwise just have him calling out anything important he sees that we might miss being on the ground.
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No. 1054255 ID: 15c72a

>>1054228
Good, you turned a huge problem into a tactical advantage. Time to clear the zone you occupy while avoiding the turret, and then use the blocked ramp as a killbox. I bet this nullzone doesn't last forever, so you just have to outlast the opponent.

Or you can see if Delli can break a hole in the fence?
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No. 1054257 ID: 15c72a

Aw hell there's a machinegunner behind the tank. Forget using the ramp as a killbox, he's using the tank as cover now. At least he can't easily move out of position, so you could... make a firebomb? Or a gas grenade? Surely there's some volatile ingredients in one of these buildings you can use to make something really unpleasant to throw at him.
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No. 1054282 ID: a512df

The easyist way to give delli bullets would be to just shoot him a bit.
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No. 1054302 ID: 1e4948

Shirtless Delli was not on today’s bingo card, but I am here for it.

>>1054282
Clever! Might be worth holding on to that surprise until more machine gunner goons expose themselves. Then hou can pick up more machine guns, too.

Or maybe it’s better just to pour on the advantage while you have allies that still need backup. Those guys are going to be YOUR backup when going into the interior of this trap, after all.
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No. 1054305 ID: df45e0

That is not a bad idea. If you could shoot at Delli for a bit he could catch the bullets and toss them back to take out anything in sight.

But you need that machine gun first so charge the position from your right going around wide by the building. Should keep you safe from turret fire unless the working tread can drag the tank out.
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No. 1054312 ID: 9285e5

you may as well check all the foot mobiles you've popped for extra rounds that you can try and throw off the island for deli to use.
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No. 1054341 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167434949973.png - (306.57KB , 800x800 , 577.png )
1054341

I'd keep moving to make myself a harder target, but there's no real reason. Aumstail wants to get me alive, so I'm certain the tank driver is receiving clear orders not to fire on my building. I still want to shut down the turret, especially in case it's working tread is able to pull itself out and clear to shoot the radar building.

"Turret!" I yell to Delli. He's flying farther than I can throw, so I give him ammunition by shooting at him. I don't think I even fire off my first bullet before he throws something else and takes out the turret. I can appreciate the haste.
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No. 1054342 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167434951152.png - (356.89KB , 1200x1200 , 578.png )
1054342

My bullets still get use. Delli can see things I can't. He disappears from my vision, probably to snipe other things.

>"You're clear, Niles!" Delli calls out a second later. Niles must have been in a gunfight in those ruins opposite the radar building. I've slowly got an idea of where people are at. I noticed Finnigan was behind the fountain taking cover.

I go grab the weapons off Crook's guys. Another pistol, a good rifle, and... two tazers. I bet they thought I was Delli or just forgot their orders, because I expect they were supposed to taze me, not shoot live bullets. I'll have to be careful; I can't just run at people thinking they don't have ways to take me down.

The ones in the interior are Aumtail's own. They're more likely to be careful not to kill me. If I rush outside, all the cameras will see me, too. All of this tells me that rushing out in the open to the tank isn't as dangerous as it would be for anyone else. I'll only be in danger once I get in a tazer's reach.

"Niles, cover me!" I have to scream over the firefight still going on in the radar building. I think a grenade just went off in there too. I'd like Delli's cover, too, but whatever's going on under the radar isn't something I want to deny from having Delli's support.
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No. 1054343 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167434952834.png - (341.62KB , 1200x1200 , 579.png )
1054343

I sprint to the tank to try to take out the machine gunner. I don't see him. Either he's gone to hiding underneath the tank, where it's overhanging the lip of the ramp, or he and anyone has fallen back. Falling back would make sense, but then again, having me alone right at the entryway must be tempting Aumstail into ordering them to try to rush and apprehend me.

Delli must be giving sniper support to the radar tower now, so I'll trust Splice and the others can take care of it. Once they've got it all cleared up, the island's topside will be ours. Aumstail won't be able to launch an effective offense, especially once Delli gets his hands on some boulders we toss over the fence. He'll be instant artillery. We'll have the option to destroy the fence and flee.

Fleeing is possible. Even if we couldn't take out the fence, we can still suicide ourselves away with bullets. The issue is that Aumstail and my memory she has is in there. To get to her and it, we'd have to launch our own offense through there. We'd be outnumbered and without Delli's overwatch. Even with Aumstail's memories of the layout and knowing what to look out for, I don't like our chances of a regular frontal attack, or what would happen to us failed and survived.

>"Radar's clear!" Delli shouts. "We've got some dead! I don't know where Crook is!"
>>
No. 1054344 ID: 99f29a

get to tunneling
>>
No. 1054349 ID: 8657cc

>>1054344
Could Delli degrade the isle with chucked matter to make a hole into the interior NOT covered by overwatch? Especially if you tear down the fence to better feed him mass.

You essentially have a siege situation here - and a siege weapon in Delli. It’s cray to run into a secure fixed underground bunker half-cocked, and Aumstail and her people can’t exactly leave or they’ll get Delli’d. It’s a stalemate you’ll have to resolve, but arguably it favors you since you can use Delli and send for backup - not just flee.

Sure, Aumstail could move around the isle to try to cover Delli better with the weakening field, maybe make him drop into the fog, or come up with another trick. Warn him to circle fast if he feels himself growing rapidly weaker. Or stronger, for that matter, might mean she’s trying to bail.

>Can’t find Crook
Ugh, consider the backup contingencies from his memories - were there secret exits all over the topside he could’ve slipped away in or something? You and yours should be wary of getting flanked - whatever aum’s victory condition is it involves capturing you!

At least you’ve taken out Crook’s crew - but there’s Aum and at least 15 of her elites down below - not counting whatever poor sap is in the tank - hey, that should be an elite, no? Can you grab and memory robble them for more details?

... just realized Aum is also right worried about Delli. Has to be. She tried to exclude him from this process from the start, that was on her prompting. She wanted Crook to be okay with straight killing him, despite the power loss. Whatever flaws Aum’s plan has, the goat is among them. Or perhaps she’s still traumatized by him eradicating all her old peers’ memories. Wonder if we could use that.

Maybe you can grab a radio (tank’s might work) and chat a bit for old times’ sakes. Aum still possesses your old memories. If she can give them to you, certain things might be negotiable. Like her surrender - as opposed to a whatever-it-takes hunt ending in her utter annihilation.

Might also want to clue your allies in on the current mindfuck. A fucking founder is here and tried to get the drop on you all.
>>
No. 1054353 ID: 15a025

Is it possible you have enough power to scrap pieces off that tank to have Delli use as material for more attacks?
>>
No. 1054354 ID: 15c72a

>>1054343
Stay out of rushing range until topside is clear. You'll want to stay out in the open to keep lookout, making sure there are others who can support you, but mainly you need to abuse your position as capture-only to maximum effect. Your squad needs to loot the place and come up with improvised fire/chem weapons to smoke out the opposition underground.
Honestly, they're probably going to bring guys with riot shields and stunguns to try to rush forwards and grab you, but so long as you can stay out of easy reach you can run away and lure the rushers into an ambush.

Another worry is they might have a second tunnel somewhere...
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No. 1054357 ID: a7a180

Can you free up reinforcements by intervening in their firefights? Maybe you can grab some piece off the tank to throw as a distraction inside the corridor.
>>
No. 1054372 ID: 53560f

First, do a headcount. We need to know how much manpower we have left.
Second, send someone back to town with a description of Aumstail so we can have our lackeys scour town in case she tries to escape into the fog, kill herself or if this is all a distraction for something else.
Third, don’t fight on their terms, set up a permanent base topside and wait them out. Let their trap become their cage.

Also Delli is a natural at this.
>>
No. 1054415 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167442844959.png - (591.02KB , 1200x1200 , 580.png )
1054415

The cameras have seen me walk up all alone up here, and it won't take more than a talented soldier and a bit of luck to get the drop on me, taze me, and drag me down there during a second in which Delli is looking away. I bet the tank has a radio inside it I could use to talk to Aumstail, but it also has a full tank crew I haven't seen step out of the tank. So I take a handful of loose screws, bolts and broken plates from the tank and back up. I'm not strong enough to break it up further.

The radar building is where I rush to instead. I find Splice, a phantom, several corpses and a bunch of damage. A bunch of those corpses are in riot gear, just like I was afraid of. With that, I pull out my phone and call up everyone into a group call. Splice and the nearby phantom decline the call since they're by me, and I notice a phone ringing from a corpse down the hall. Looks like it's the other phantom. Once Delli, Finnigan and Niles answer, I start speaking.

"This is Pillet. I'm with Splice. Niles! Cover that ramp! We're dealing with 15 or more elite units down there, and they could be equipped with full riot gear. You watch it too, Finnigan! Give them support, Delli, and watch their backs. There may be a secret entrance somewhere, and we don't know where Crook is."
>"I saw the bastard jump into the same building you went in. He must be hiding out in there." Finnigan answers.
"We'll have to clear it to be sure. Splice is here with me, with one of the phantoms. Looks like the other phantom's dead, but I don't see Tammamo, my other rebel. Anyone seen him?"
>"Yeah, he's one of yours alright." Splice says. "Dropped from the ceiling like he wanted to be badass and tackled an enemy. Got filled with holes of course, but he managed to unpin the dude's grenade without him noticing. Blew half of 'em away."
"Sounds like he's getting a raise. How many enemies in riot gear were here?"
>"Pretty sure five."
"That many?"
>"They all popped out of that cabinet. It's not a secret tunnel, they were just hiding in there from the start."
"Okay. That leaves who knows how many more underground. It can't be that many, otherwise we'd have gotten completely swarmed by now with sheer numbers. I bet there's at least two in that disabled tank still. Could be more."
>"Ya got something you want to explain to us, woman?" Finnigan asks.
"Yeah yeah, the reason you guys can't use energy is because of an old founder. Unless someone else figured out energy blocking or there was an old artificial blocker installed here, it's Aumstail." I know full well it's Aumstail, and there's likely at least 10 left excluding the 5 that were dropped. But as far as Aumstail knows, I can't read memories off the unwilling. This conversation is definitely heard, so I've got to act ignorant. If she learns I can extract memories from the unwilling, she's going to learn what kind of danger she's in. I don't want that. Not yet anyway.
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No. 1054416 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167442845725.png - (382.27KB , 1200x1200 , 581.png )
1054416

I walk over to some of the deceased rioters. Maybe some of it can fit me, but I definitely start looting the weapons. They're dead, alright. If they were alive, it wouldn't matter much. I don't need much energy to force the memories out of people, but I do need more than I have. Which is zero.

>"Splice - no, your arm's bad. Phantom - what do I call you?"
>"Fazzy."
>"Go toss crap over the fence for Delli. Delli, catch it down below and make sure no one's trying to fall through the bottom of the island to escape. Crush the debris into cannonballs so you can be our siege weapon. Splice, go watch the backs of the other two while Delli is playing catch. Once we're sure there's no secret tunnels, we can think about sending someone back to get backup."

Even if there's only ten people left in Aumstail's group, there's only 6 of us left in ours. Only 5 of which are on the island. We're still outnumbered 2 to 1. I didn't think I'd be sieging an island today, but here we are. It's not my favorite kind of operation. I grab a radio off one of Aumstail's rioteers, and walk out into the open to keep an eye on everyone's backs. Maybe we don't have to do this. I toss my tank debris over the fence for Delli to pick up, and speak into the transceiver.

"Aumstail, you old crone. Are you involved in this? You gave these guys transceivers, don't act like you can't hear me or talk back."

...

...

...

>"Hello, Pillet." And that would be Aumstail. "It's nice to see you again. I do mean it."
>>
No. 1054418 ID: 99f29a

So she can see you. Noted. Get to business.
>>
No. 1054437 ID: 15c72a

>>1054416
Ask what she wants. Why go through all this trouble to kidnap you? Didn't work out well for them last time.
>>
No. 1054446 ID: 9a2966

>Tammamo, a raise
Technically they get a medal posthumously, since everyone were to treat this like a permadeath scenario. It can be an extra nice medal, though. Made of chocolate.

>Cameras all over
Ah yes, enemy eyes and ears, and already you've told them you haven't sent for additional backup yet, oops. Tell your squad to start poking holes in any they see while they make a pass and . If Delli's not too distracted covering the entire island, he could probably do a little target practice too.

>Two guys hiding in the tank
Delli, cannonball please~

(make him do it during the radio chat to emphasize how few fucks left to give you have - and how the number of bodies between you and her are dropping)

>Radio chat by the fountain
Don't stay in the open too much and don't let them pin your location for long, in case they do have options or Aumstail drops her energy damper for a moment so someone else can blow a hole in the ground for them to stun you / snatch you through.

Also, get your team to take care of the Crook wildcard - he could snag a gun from the fallen and do something irrational, like kill you for revenge. Or just further reduce your numbers and embolden the guards below. Or warn Aumstail that you took his memories involuntarily. Which you don't want her to be aware of, as she'd be the PRIME justified memory theft target. Even if you actually get captured, you could get something out of her as long as you get in contact. And as long as Delli's powerful and knows he shouldn't be getting in range of her, you'll at least have hope... but nah, fuck it, you'll just not let it come to that. Ever again.

>Should keep a lid on the fact you can extract memories from the unwilling
Let out a long, pained sigh and thank her for verifying that your unreasonable paranoia was in fact the very most reasonable. You'll never doubt a millenia-old hunch ever again. (implying you weren't sure - and sticking pretty close to the truth, for that matter!)

>Nice to see you again, mean it
You guess it could be true, you're pretty much been the only other constant in this world. Must be 'nice' to have a point of reference, since she ran out of friends and colleagues a while ago. Weird how that happened! But 'nice' doesn't cut it when she's probably been working against you from the shadows since the old power structure crumbled. Her popping up like this, just when you and yours get a whiff of authority and the possibility to argue your way out of this place? Not exactly a coincidence, is it? She, like so many others, ain't so keen on you uncorking this bottle world.

>Threaten/extort her
Before she pitches anything, tell her that for what she did - for what she took - and what she apparently planned to do again! For the threat she represents. For being part of the group that made this stupid-ass place - and for not knowing better than to ever show herself to you again. For all that, and more:

She needs to give you something, fast. Funny business time is over. Delli will put a serving of cannonball through the nose of anyone coming topside to fuck about. Take too long and he'll start peppering holes through the island. Failing this - or if she kills herself or somehow blasts off into the fog without your say - that ends all thought of detente.

Instead, you'll be getting inventive.

(It's a vague enough empty threat, at least. YOUR and HER memories could be quite important to your goals of busting outta this damn self-made prison and surviving the fallout, so letting either of those be lost forever seems... well, it's probably survivable, so maybe the threat isn't quite empty. You've just so many better things to spend your time one these days than spending years hunting her down to eradicate her memories from the world. Or maybe you don't! Mmm. Yep, you might not be entirely objective here.)

>Aum's ransom
You want your memory repos - all of 'em, all she has here, at the very least, locations for others (she can haggle, but drive into her with tilted 'do not test me' attitude). That's what she will have to START OFF with for you to consider a reasonable, rational surrender for her. By which you mean: she gives you access to your power again to tear down this shit trap proper - and all you'll actually do is turn this crap little island of hers into a proper prison while you - and, sadly, other people - figure out what to do with the last fucking founder, holy fuck one's still around - the worst one!

You'll fully admit you're not objective in your deep-seated grudge against her and that it might be affecting your judgement. But, unlike many others, you remember a lot of what she did. And she did just try to pull this shit and you have no reason not to believe this was going to be Round 2 of What She Did Before. So again: she should start complying or else INVENTIVE
>>
No. 1054467 ID: 53560f

“And it’s great to know Delli gets to cross another founder off the list. Enough about my boyfriend’s old hobbies though, why did you wanna lure me here so badly? Could it be my winning personality and natural charisma?”
>>
No. 1054511 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167449666787.png - (389.06KB , 1200x1200 , 582.png )
1054511

"What a way to show it! Going through all this just to kidnap me."
>"You, and Delli."
"What for? Wanted to talk with our winning personalities? Seeking a repeat of what happened last time you captured me?"
>"Deary, please do not play. You two are working to expose ourselves to the unforgiving universe, and we will die. I was in a position to at least make an attempt to stop this. It's odd, really. I noticed you touched Crook, and only then threw Delli off. It's as though you learned what was coming at that instant."

Hmm. Is she on to me?

"Hey, it's been a long time, but I of all people would remember you. The one founder who could have possibly lived, and now an old memory resurfaces, I'm lured to a fog pocket this deep? Then I go grab Crook and notice he's got a gun! A gun! Until then I thought I was just being paranoid from all those mental scars you left me with."
>"I would happily take a mental scar or two in return for my standard of living, my colleagues, my livelihood."
"And someone like me to torment on the wheel, I bet!"
>"Pillet, please. You should at least remember I was acting under orders."
"And now?"
>"And it seems like you are."
"Huh?"
>"Oh, yes. You don't have this memory."
"I sure don't! I'm confused! How about you send it up to get me up to speed?"
>"Hmm... I think it's best if everyone else know its contents."
"Alright, that's enough yanking each other around, let's get to business! That's my memory and my memory alone to share. Hand it over, or my boyfriend's going to finish the job. Hang on just a second. Hey, Delli! There's guys in that tank, still! Take care of them!"

A chain of a dozen meteorites comes puncturing through the body of the tank. I wish I could do that.

The thought's occurred to me that if I had that power, I could launch an offensive. I could brute force enough energy through Aumstail's barrier to pull her memories out. All I'd need is physical contact. If I could get Delli to subtly pass it to me, I could slip up and let myself get captured, then all I'd need is physical contact... no, that's risky, and I've tried to angle to get Delli's power too frequently. He wouldn't agree. Even if I do think I'd pass the power back to him, now, watching him from down here. He's a natural at this, and his focus hasn't been slipping.

I lower the radio, keeping its outgoing audio off, and whisper to Finnigan then exclusively Delli's phone.

"Take another guy or two and clear out the house to find Crook. Kill him if you have to. Delli, stay attentive. Aumstail must have enough energy on her own to rip her way up here and yank me down by pure force. If she lets down her barrier, make sure to beat her to it."
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No. 1054512 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167449667996.png - (354.54KB , 1200x1200 , 583.png )
1054512

I take a walk around while Finnigan goes to gather who he wants. Any camera can see about where I'm at, but the more out in the open I am, the more Delli can cover me. Maybe Niles' position has another machine gun I can take. Once Crook is taken care of, I'll send someone to get backup.

>"If he begins digging through the island, I will destroy this memory and then myself."
"That'll give me a full month to get inventive on how all of us can hunt down the last and worst founder."
>"There's an easy joke about how that's you, but enough. I've got nothing left. I'm not interested in surrender. If you're interested in getting your memory back, bring Phantom here."
"Phantom?"
>"Yes. Phantom has shown herself to be a respectable third party to this. I'd like to bring her into this."
>>
No. 1054519 ID: c28082

>>1054512

What's the all too obvious catch?
>>
No. 1054520 ID: df45e0

How about I tell Delli to start tearing things up now? If you don't want to surrender or give me back my memories then we don't have anything to discuss honestly. And

Also you do still have something left you will want to protect. Your currently intact mind and soul. Unless you want Delli to grind that down and make sure you never come back like he did the others.

Honestly a polite return of my memories would get you a faster meeting with Phantom than this mess.
>>
No. 1054523 ID: 9a2966

>Last and worst founder
>Easy joke, it's you
Is the 'Oh, it turns out the true perp was an amoral amnesiac all along' sowing of discordian seeds what she's gonna be trying out or is she actually alluding to things that happened? Cuz' if so, even IF you were some kinda double agent at some point in time that motivation went with the memories. Your desire to bust outta this haze has been 100% homegrown 'tired of this shit' and you honestly can't believe she isn't at least a little tired of it either, seeing as she also remembers most of it.

Or has she been having such a jolly old time of it? Sure didn't sound like it just now.

>Orders
Speaking of orders - so she was under some, whoop dee doo! That's always a great defense, isn't it? Solid ploy, to admit you did a wrong, but hey, someone else told you to, so it's fine! Did she ever make a jot of difference for you when it mattered? Huh? No? If all she did was hunker down and keep aces up her sleeve for this very day, you don't find that particularly comforting!

>I have nothing left
Also a whooper. She has her memories! And your memories! And she's using them to blackmail you right this very moment and you'd be really upset if it wasn't so predictable that she was gonna! Anyway, if she really thought they mattered so much - if she was so concerned about you busting this place wide open - why didn't she just return them anonymously or some shit, so you could find out what made you all actually be so desperate as to hide in here in the first place and maybe - just maybe - think twice?

Or does she worry that your 'orders' or whatever will come back into sway when the memories do? That's... plausible, but not by much. Shit excuse. 3/10. She could've showed those memories to others already, but since you're not awash in people who distrust you - any more than normally that is - you can't say she has. Yet. But apparently that's coming out now!

>I won't surrender, bring Phantom
That's okay! You'll bring in others! You kind of have to! As much as you're ordering Delli around, he's the one with the actual power and there's other folks around who get to have opinions too. Like everyone, goddamnit! You have it on good authority that if half the people in this place weren't constantly offing themselves every time they spawned in order to escape ennui, apathy and bad breakups, you'd already have the key to get outta here!

It's a real shit system you built up, Aumstail! That we built up! Whatever!

>neutral
That said, Phantom ain't nowhere near a neutral party - not on her own. That gal's going to be drooling at the idea of talking to someone hailing from the very start of it all that isn't her longtime nemesis, and Aumstail could dangle any number of things in front of her to get her on her side and to her line of thinking. You'd still like to bring her in on this, of course - boy she'd hate being excluded! - but you don't think you can let Phantom do the negotiations here. She'd just be TOO sympathetic and interested in Aumstail - and if she'd probably admit it herself.

So you'll be there! And Soletta. And others. Heck, why not have a big old pow-wow by all the current movers and shakers? Aumstail can convince them all you're the one to blame for everything at the same time. Maybe make it a public spectacle, let everyone listen in, send questions, wonder what even the fuck, who is this coward creeping outta her hidey hole after all these years!

You're a shit public speaker, at least. Perhaps she'll grab some wins out there. That said, your general stance is going to be that they just build her a nice cell - you mean retirement home - and put her in a nice wheel - you mean rocking chair - where she can dodder on like the old fool she is and should be treated as.

... honestly, you think you've missed calling her mean things and railing at her. Is this familiar at all to her?
>>
No. 1054541 ID: 15c72a

Hold on, think about this for a second. If that memory really contains something regarding you having been given orders to, for instance, lift the fog, and it was revealed to the public (or even just Phantom), then that would completely sink any support you'd have from anyone. It would cast doubt on your motivations. Especially if the order is of the kind that can't be disobeyed.

Did any of the founders have that power? ...if it really is like that, then you're basically under mind control and you can't even trust your own mind. In which case, maybe you could expose it yourself.

>get Phantom here
How would we even do that? Delli is outside the fence so he could potentially return to base, but we absolutely need him here to maintain the stalemate. Do we still have a line of communication back to base? Or is it possible for Delli to break a hole in the fence at this point, to allow one of Phantom's troupe to go fetch her? ...oh at this point we could just pile up rubble to jump over it, can't we. Or collapse it with the weight. Running away is an option, I suppose? The implied threat is that she'll release the memory's contents if we run away now, but fetching Phantom would require at least one of your squad leaving so she must be willing to let that happen.

There's nothing stopping you from bringing reinforcements along with Phantom. Fully equipped reinforcements, with explosives, body armor, and heavy weapons. Enough for everyone here too. I'd say agree to bringing Phantom (and reinforcements). The reinforcements can stay outside the fence until negotiations break down, of course.
>>
No. 1054611 ID: 90c451

Do you really think Phantom would willingly walk into an active siege where her powers would be nullified? No third-party would ever do something so stupid
>>
No. 1054612 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167459278884.png - (355.42KB , 1200x1200 , 584.png )
1054612

"I could bring Phantom in, if I wanted, and if she wanted to walk into an active siege where her powers are nullified! But for argument's sake, let's pretend I agree. Tell me all about the all too obvious catch."
>"The catch? Do you not trust Phantom?"
"Haha, that girl's about as neutral as a cultist. She's a big nerd and will gush all over a founder that remembers stuff! Maybe you can bond over that and feel like you have something to live for! But let me tell you something, you already do have something like that. Your currently intact mind and soul."

I hear some commotion and gunshots in the house. Finnigan is yelling at Crook to give it up, while Splice and Phantom-lite take positions around the house. I take cover near Niles just in case Crook actually ends up getting the drop on those three. Once things aren't so hot, I'm going to send the injured Splice out to gather an army in case this somehow takes hours.

"Delli." I talk to him alone. "Throw some boulders straight down onto the fence in a few places. Get us an escape route."
>"Kay."

I see Delli throw a huge rock through the fence, blasting a hole through the chain link. It's not exactly what I ordered, but that works just fine. He flies around the outskirts of the sphere to catch it on the other side, since that's still faster than trying to fly in a straight line through Aumstail's barrier. Even while he skirting dangerously close to the fog, he's got a good sense about how close he can get to it without falling back into town.
>>
No. 1054613 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167459279869.png - (365.65KB , 1200x1200 , 585.png )
1054613

Aumstail keeps speaking.

>"And what use do I have my wellbeing? To see the last few months of the town, until the end? This town is what I lived for and you're about to kill it, so you may as well finish me."
"Don't be such a downer, damn. You can still enjoy an old retirement home in a rocking chair, old girl. Hey is this familiar? Us throwing barbs at one another?"
>"It doesn't matter. I'm disappointed, I honestly did not think requesting Phantom was that unreasonable a request."
"I'm her longtime nemesis, girl! As far as I can tell you're just going to pass your plans to Phantom! The only way you'll get to talk with Phantom is if you come up here with my memories, or come up here yourself while I bring out every powerful person in town to have a big meeting. Until you accept that... Hey, Delli! Get a big cannonball, fire into the island's center -!"
>"Wait! Hold on." Aumstail says. "First of all, Let me tell Crook to give it up. There's no reason for him to die here."
"You've got a few seconds."

A few seconds is what it takes.

>"I'm coming out!" Crook calls. Finnigan and the others to start moving to the other side of the house to converge on him.
"Cool. Want to send up the memory, next?"
>"I want to speak to Phantom."

Delli throws that boulder behind me to open an escape route behind my cover.

"Hey, Delli! That's enough fence holes, thanks. Send that boulder into the island's center mass! Splice, make sure Crook's tied up and all that, but I'm about have you jump through the fence and back to town so you can bring in an army."
>"Won't that take a couple hours?" asks Splice.
"Yep. And if this takes over two hours, then you can bet that in two hours I am going to have a big need for a big army!"
>>
No. 1054614 ID: 5fc3a0
File 167459281193.png - (127.94KB , 1200x1200 , 586.png )
1054614

Delli dips under the island to hit it on the underside.

Aumstail comes back on the comms.

>"Let this be your final warning, Pillet. I see that boulder. If it strikes the island, I'm destroying it. Just send for Phantom, please. It's all I'm asking."

Alright. Losing the memory would sting, but I've done fine without it. Plus, if it does have details that shine badly on me, and it gets out via a more reputable source than Aumstail, all that credibility I've worked on for myself will go right down the drain. My support would sink! Even Delli would start to doubt me again! Perhaps that's exactly what Aumstail is planning! Give the memory to Phantom, my nemesis, who has the credibility to expose me based on a memory she alone saw! But would Phantom really do that for Aumstail? When Phantom realized what Aumstail had done to me, she was disturbed by it. Perhaps Phantom won't be so quick to play Aumstail's game.

Yet on the other hand, maybe I can still pull this off. There must be some way I can intercept Aumstail! If I get that memory, I can understand what she meant by implying I was acting under orders. Was I altered? Mind controlled? Is it still active? No, I seriously doubt that, but without that memory I would never be able to confirm any of that. She could just be messing with my head. Aumstail could even be bluffing about destroying the memory. Maybe if Delli throws that boulder hard enough, she'll get knocked out in the blast. That would remove the barrier. Do I even know that Aumstail has the memory? I don't believe I managed to confirm that through Crook. This could all be a plan to stall for time! She could have set up all kinds of things in town during the near three hours we've been gone.
>>
No. 1054615 ID: 99f29a

Eh. You're asking a lot of people to put a lot of trust into you at a crucial time. It's worth giving someone else a little trust at least once even under circumstances like these.
>>
No. 1054620 ID: f8083d

Let's trust Phantom. Dialogue is her thing.
>>
No. 1054622 ID: 90c451

So... either we get a third party that could possibly have a bias and give you an advantage, or you destroy your only bargaining chip?
How does destroying your only bargaining chip help you? You aren't even selling us on it, just making vague statements in hopes that a random mystery would matter. Did you forget who we are?
>>
No. 1054623 ID: 90c451

>>1054620
While I don't support bringing in Phantom, if we do we can use it to stall and make a bigger and denser boulder, the harder we hit her, the better.
>>
No. 1054624 ID: 15c72a

>>1054614
Well, if you delay Delli a little bit, you can tell her to tell Crook to consent to a mind read so you can confirm the lost memory is real.

...is there some way Aumstail can fake the memory's contents when/if she shows Phantom?
>>
No. 1054639 ID: 9a2966

>Delli below
Suggest that Delli be at the side of the island rather than just below - if he's beneath then Aumstail could jump down and suppress his power and have them both fall into the fog.

>Crook surrenders
Goody. Tell them to bind him, gag him and bring him over. The uses of a captive Crook are many and varied. You could sit on him. Use him for cover against snipers. Resist the temptation to grab more of his memories in front of Aumstail so she starts doubting her earlier suspicions.

>Months?
Tell Delli to hold on a hair trigger. Then ask Aumstail why she's thinking she's only got 'months'. You lost that first election. There's time. You don't presume her intel is bad either - so was she thinking you'd get impatient and jump Phantom for the key or something? Because newsflash: you ain't.

You need time to prep, to teach people about what reality is like, back out there, so that everyone who cares - and to some extent those who don't - can be ready when the time comes. We're talking a few decades here at the very least - that's already something you agreed to with Phantom! You have a conservatory (and giant fuckoff lasers) to build now! And boy do some people need a shot or ten of that vitamin K-nowledge!

Aumstail knows how bad it still is, right? Phantom thought heaven and hell were real pieces of cosmology based on some crappy old religious book she found in a ruin! It's fucked up how much has been twisted and lost - common sense, context, everything - and you're not that much better off based on the few memories Aumstail left you. And here she is, sitting on all that old lore, hoarding it for a rainy day. Threatening to destroy some of it and herself.

Before she blows, she should consider this: if things go bad once you all get outta haze town, she will be as responsible for that as you. Twice over with this.

>Unreasonable request
Asking for Phantom is in itself not unreasonable but it sure as fuck ain't a neutral approach. Phantom's the last keyholder and the one insisting for her to mediate is a founder with full knowledge and unknown capacities for fuckery. So she'll have to forgive you for listening to your every hyped-up paranoid instinct at the moment - they appear, after all, to have been substantially correct just now. Not to mention, you made an offer for a full meeting of bigwigs of all stripes. Calling 'Phantom or bust' after that is... suspicious, is what it is.

>Town is what I lived for, if you kill it, kill me
The whole damn point of prepping to leave would be so that the town and its people gets to at least live past the transition - you aren't in this for a suicide, no matter what she may think. And turning over those memories - or at least allowing you to poke through hers and share them with others - could make an actual fucking difference.

Or is the only sort of difference she'd care to make the one where she props up powerhungry catspaws? If she had a power-blocking ability all along, why didn't she ever topple some of the derpier tyrants, rather than ~ hello Crook ~ support them because fuck Pillet, that's why.

>Random people questions for the founder
Say, I need a break, and since we're doing this stalemate, does anyone have any comments or pressing questions for the sole remaining founder of haze town with their mental state and memories arguably intact, before she offs herself and destroys a slice of my being just to be a sore butt?

Finnigan? Splice? Niles? - not you Crook - Fazzy? Delli? Anything goes.

Send Splice off for reinforcements after that. Tell him to tell Phantom everything and let her be the judge of whether she shows up or not, considering the inherent bias she'll have in this.
>>
No. 1054650 ID: df45e0

"Please? Now I know you are trying to lure Phantom here for some plot. No deal. I can't trust anything you say and this feels like delaying tactics so goodbye Aumstail. If you feel like surrendering come out with your hands up but if not say hello to the rock."
>>
No. 1054654 ID: 53560f

Have we noticed yet that we’re about to have a bunch of the major players from the town in a single well hidden location with a founder who’s exact capabilities and defences are unknown?

Speak with Delli, explain your thoughts on the situation and ask his opinions. Even if Aumstail is honest and we do get the memory we should trust Delli a little more to handle it, and it works better if you show him that you’re trusting him.
>>
No. 1054660 ID: 9285e5

First off, she's trying very hard to maintain control of the situation (ha!) and the conversation.

don't let her have either anymore. start pointing out the flaws in her assumptions because she's been out here under a rock while everyone else has been out doing things and improving things for thirty years from now, not a few months.
>>
No. 1054963 ID: 15a025

Entertain the thought for now.
Perhaps a middle ground could work. Phantom being with Aumstail in person is just flat out too risky. Is there a way a proxy could go down there with a phone and a private call between them be made? Phantom would still have to here be on the island though, but at least they'd be further away or out of direct contact.
>>
No. 1054964 ID: 7de295

Just call Phantom. If absolutely nothing else it buys you time, and this is a weird thing to be paranoid about.
>>
No. 1054981 ID: c28082

>>1054614

Have we even asked WHY Aumstail wants to talk to Phantom so bad? I mean, is that an unreasonable request to make?

Heck, just tell us why, and we could make a trade: a long talk with Phantom (provided she's willing) for the memory. We could even back off once we've got it in hand, so they can have their little talk or whatever.

Maybe they're just desperate.
>>
No. 1055004 ID: 9285e5

>>1054981
most likely a distraction or a vain attempt to take another of her enemies down with her.
>>
No. 1080343 ID: ce93a7
File 170441237850.png - (574.48KB , 1200x1200 , 587.png )
1080343

>Is there some way Aumstail can fake the memory's contents when/if she shows Phantom?
No way.

"Delli get back up here!"
>"Huh what?" He does so.
"Aumstail's bubble is centered around herself! All she has to do to get you in her bubble is run herself towards you, and she may have running space in there. You can force yourself to fly under your own weight, but if you're holding a five ton boulder over your head, what'll you think will happen from 6 feet above the fogline?"
>"Oh heck, you're right."

I don't know if Aumstail thought that up, but if she pulls it off and sends Delli back to town, this could turn from tactically favorable to having to consider retreating. She's sloppy and not built for operations like this, but she's cornered and must be frantically searching her sleeves for any last tricks.

"Oh and Delli, I'm considering bringing in Phantom like Aumstail is wanting. I'm leaning yes, you got any thoughts to weigh in on that?"
>"I dunno, I think that's a question for Phantom, maybe just tell her what's up and let her decide?"
"Yeah."

I walk by Crook and see to its he's bound and gagged. Is that anger? No, self reflection. Regret! He's thinking all this was a bad idea, I'm glad he can catch the obvious after all. He'd never admit it. I'm not going to give him shit now, because I've got plans for him later.

I'm not going to read his memories for this. Even if there's a chance he has tactical information for this situation, I can't read them inside the bubble. I'd have to bring him and me out, and the whole process would more likely tip Aumstail off that I can do that. Keeping her thinking I can't take memories without consent is too critical. I want her to make mistakes.
>>
No. 1080344 ID: ce93a7
File 170441239996.png - (441.18KB , 1200x1200 , 588.png )
1080344

"Hey, guys." I address the whole group. "We have Aumstail, one of the original founders on the line! Want to ask her any questions before you go?"
>"I don't have much interest in ancient history." Splice answers. "My arm hurts like a bitch. You wanted me to go jump out and get reinforcements, right?"
"And Phantom!"
>"Eh, you want to bring Phantom?"
"That's what I said!" I don't know if I'll have Phantom talk to Aumstail in person, but I can't think of any tricks that can be pulled off if Phantom just shows up to the island. "Oh and have Phantom bring me a pair of sunglasses! She knows the ones I like!"
>"Why, you wanna look cool standing around the island?"
"Damn right."
>"Yeah yeah alright. See ya."
"Anyone else want to ask Aumstail stuff?" I call out to the rest.
>"Ask her why the hell she thought it was a good idea to team up with Crook. I coulda laid a better trap than this crap." Finnigan says, watching back over Crook.
"You two would get along like sandpaper."

No one else asks anything. None of them know or care about history, huh. That leaves Me, Delli, Finnigan, Fazzy and Nilestro.

"Nevermind then." I turn the radio back on to speak to Aumstail and the rest.
>>
No. 1080345 ID: ce93a7
File 170441242027.png - (282.46KB , 1200x1200 , 589.png )
1080345

"Aumstail, you get that?"
>"Yeah." She's not even trying to hide where she can overhear us anymore. Or trying to control the conversation anymore, for that matter.
"It'll be a couple hours, so let's chat a little. Why're you acting like we're a few weeks away from lifting the fog? It's going to take us years to form the military, construction and preparation for our escape. Not to mention teaching people about basic concepts. Did you know Phantom thought heaven and hell were literal spaces in the cosmos?"
>"That's rather funny. We never got around to implementing much public education, really. And I can barely tell the difference between weeks and years, it was important to take my chance when I thought I had the pieces."
"I won't bother asking why you thought you had them now, because I'm hung up on how you sound like you were planning on teaching the public anything but how to be subservient peasants."
>"We were! The town was incomplete!"
"Oh?"
>"These fog pockets weren't supposed to be lumps in the fog behind space bending mazes. They were supposed to be libraries, other biomes, parks, you name it!"
"Yeah, what was stopping you?"
>"You did!"

I almost scoff, but that reminds me when Delli asked how I lost so many of my memories, and the answer was him.
>>
No. 1080346 ID: ce93a7
File 170441243799.png - (436.38KB , 1200x1200 , 590.png )
1080346

"Did I, really? I never did ask what was in those memories."
>"I can't confirm, since me consuming the memory would turn it into nothing but a distant memory of my own. So I had to ask you when you were on the wheel, and your powers of speech were... weak, but truthful. You babbled about infiltrating our ranks. You explained this memory was of you coming to sabotage us at the last minute! You were poison every step of the way, Pillet!"
Heh, and I named that doll of me Poison, too.
>"We entered the town before it was completed. The fog pockets are little more than placeholders, and there was supposed to be infrastructure that was outright magical. Instead we got something much more mundane, but while far more difficult we had the skills to complete the town from the inside. Skills including yours. We never fully trusted you, but memory extractors were extraordinarily rare, and ones willing to work with us exponentially so! So we accepted the risk. It could have been a paradise, if you were on our side, but no, you chose to continue to sabotage us for loyalties you never fully articulated. And we put the rebellion down, and were so close to putting you down too, to let you be a regular citizen of town and nothing more. Then that goat came and destroyed everything. Everything but you, the one thing that should not have ever been left to stand."
"Hey now, you basically succeeded in destroying me. My memories of all that are gone."
>"You maintained your ability to extract memories, and that's what was dangerous, not the rest of you. Your memories are destroyed, so why in the world are you still trying to lift the fog?"
"A 100% homegrown sense of being tired of this place. We gave ourselves forced immortality. Some like it, but many more need to get out of here."
>"It didn't have to be this way. But so it is."
"You never did make it clear why you want to talk to Phantom so bad."
>"She's a fine judge for one so young. She has a balanced viewpoint of the town as it currently stands, while old croneys like us have too many anchors in past times."
"Speak for yourself, you stagnant old woman, sitting under a rock while everyone else here has been fighting for the last thirty years to make things better!"
>"What? Better? Half of you up there were called 'gang lords' for goodness' sake!"
"I didn't say they were doing a good job!"
>"And you're trying to kill everyone, you harlot!"
"This isn't a suicide mission, we're now out there preparing for a proper escape!"
>"An escape from immortality! You'll be dead within the century! You're just committing mass suicide with a timer!"

I have a retort to that, but she'd have something in return, and we're getting nowhere except namecalling. She can have the last sentence.
>>
No. 1080347 ID: ce93a7
File 170441245999.png - (403.27KB , 1200x1200 , 591.png )
1080347

Time begins passing. There's a toolshed in the house that we find a few shovels and picks and things, and we use it to drop dirt over the edge. I remind Delli not to hold the boulder over his head. Once the break passes, and I feel like Niles' woeful attention span is wavering from the entryway, I put Fazzy on watch duty.

This is no time to let my guard down, and as each minute passes I'm getting antsier. I don't even know why. Up top I know I can get by without whatever's in that memory. But at my core, I want it badly. I don't know why, and I bet there's reasons that I simply don't remember. But, the events that made me who I am today still happened whether or not I remember them. I could only speculate, but a memory extractor who doesn't have their own memories lined up neatly from beginning to end must be like a house with only the scaffolding.

And now I'm so paranoid that I'm glaring at the grass under my shoes.
>>
No. 1080348 ID: ce93a7
File 170441247936.png - (234.51KB , 1200x1200 , 592.png )
1080348

I end up on the roof and put Niles on guard with me. And I wait, staying alert myself and make sure Delli's training on staying focused has been getting results. I'm happy to see it has. If he hadn't, then it's about now he'd probably be trying to go steal Phantom's key to go lift the fog just so he could die of boredom.

...

...

Time's up. Aumstail didn't pull any surprise tricks, and the reinforcements are here. I spot Phantom in the middle of a group of some trained units I recognize.
>>
No. 1080349 ID: ce93a7
File 170441249579.png - (229.96KB , 1200x1200 , 593.png )
1080349

And Phantom flies right into the bubble.

"Delli!"
>"Got her!" He tosses the boulder onto the island, which has gotten so massive that it makes the whole building rumble under me. Which is inconvenient but it seriously did not need to get that big, the others just threw dirt at Delli out of boredom.
>"Oh, yeah. Aumstail can block energy." Splice calls from behind.
>"What?!"
"Did you tell her anything at all, Splice?!"
>"Got her, didn't I?"
>"No I got her." Delli quips.
"Just bring her down here!"
>>
No. 1080350 ID: ce93a7
File 170441252160.png - (332.83KB , 1200x1200 , 594.png )
1080350

>"Alright, Pillet." Phantom says after she's dropped down by Delli. "Splice told me there's an old founder here who may or may not have a capsule with your memory in it, who wanted to speak with me?"
"Hi to you, too! That's right, but you don't have to. That said, I figure a history buff like you might love the opportunity to speak to someone like Aumstail."
>"This is the one who..."
"Can block people from blowing themselves up, yeah."
>"And used it to put you on some kind of torture wheel."
"That's the one."
>"And she wants to talk to me. Alone."
"I get you. Here." I pick up the radio I found. "Still alive, Aumstail? I'm passing the radio to Phantom."
>"Thank you, dear." Back to 'dear', huh.
>>
No. 1080351 ID: ce93a7
File 170441253855.png - (239.68KB , 1200x1200 , 595.png )
1080351

I pass the radio over and hear a murmur, before Phantom wanders off. And so the conversation starts, away from me, though I catch Phantom glancing over to me and Delli. A bunch of the military guys get brought up to speed and hover at the edge of the bubble. A few fly into it to land onto the island, and a couple are getting so strong that they're actually able to float down and control their descent, which is impressive. Half of them go to roll the boulder back off, which Delli catches after careful precaution.

Even if he did screw up and fell back to town though, there's enough power on my side that his presence is no longer all that critical.
>>
No. 1080352 ID: ce93a7
File 170441256441.png - (187.16KB , 1200x1200 , 596.png )
1080352

Phantom gives me another radio she brought. It's sending a tick every second.

>"I'm going inside. This radio can be used for communication, but it's ticking to confirm it's connected. If it stops, I want you to rescue me."
"Will do. Hey, did you get me a pair of sunglasses?"
>"No. Why would I?"
"Forget it."

The bubble stays up, and the minutes start dragging on again. At least these new guys are fresh and can hold attention better than Niles. Maybe I should've picked them over Niles, but he's too good to pass up when things go bad.
>>
No. 1080353 ID: ce93a7
File 170441257761.png - (355.34KB , 1200x1200 , 597.png )
1080353

After 15 minutes of incessant ticking, I'm either too worried or too riled up by hearing nothing but ticking to not call in. Phantom and Aumstail assure me that all I'm doing is interrupting them. Even if the radio was tampered with seamlessly, I don't think Aumstail has any skills or people who could mimic Phantom like that. Certainly not while Aumstails' bubble is up, so I put my paranoia to rest and wait. Phantom probably is just grilling Aumstail for a history lesson.

The minutes really are dragging here. Some of the newer guys are making conversation.

>"What'd you even pack in there, Niles?" One asks him.
>"A rocket launcher! I aaaalmost got to use it too!"
"Niles you little fuck, you shoulda said you had a backpack full of munitions?"
>"When do I not?"
>>
No. 1080354 ID: ce93a7
File 170441259343.png - (215.24KB , 1200x1200 , 598.png )
1080354

Oh, Phantom's out, holding Poison. She looks like a kid, haha.
>>
No. 1080355 ID: ce93a7
File 170441260355.png - (282.52KB , 1200x1200 , 599.png )
1080355

"What's the word, Phantom?"
>"We spoke. She alluded to many things without saying much of anything, but I got her to agree to lay out what she knows about life before the city. More importantly, she told me that I have no reason to fully believe much of anything she tells me, that it may just sound like she's trying to get me to throw my weight around to stop you from lifting the fog. So she offered me a memory of yours, an unfiltered, untouched memory of life before the city was made. That if I saw that, I would see what kind of person you are."
"Did she give it to you?"
>"I told her I'm retired. That I'm not a high ranking public figure anymore. I'm just a librarian and historian trying to make sense of everything."

She puts on a face and now she looks like a grumpy kid.

>"But then she laughed at me and said I'm the only one who thinks that. That I still have more weight and respect to the populace than any fallen leaders, wild memory extractors, or overpowered goat usurpers. So she insisted I take it and do what's right. I told her I'd consider it."

She produces the capsule from her purse. That's it.

>"As much as I'd love to see if you or Aumstail is truthful about any of this, as much as I want to see it with my own eyes, it's not mine. I know how I'd feel if I had a memory that someone else stole and absorbed. So I'm going to ask a question that, judging by your face, is rhetorical."
>>
No. 1080356 ID: ce93a7
File 170441261222.png - (310.85KB , 1200x1200 , 600.png )
1080356

>"Do you want your memory back?"

She can bet her ass I want my memory!... Or whoever's memory this is. After all that, this isn't even mine! Is it? I can't tell if it's someone else looking through me, or me through someone else. Neither one makes sense, and it doesn't explain why the memory looks so different.

It's just a memory through and through, so there's no way it'll be harmful to me no matter what it is. This thing raises a ton of questions, and that's all the more reason I've got to see it.
>>
No. 1080357 ID: 99f29a

Yeah sure.
>>
No. 1080358 ID: df45e0

Yeah go for it. But don't just scoop it up and eat it here. Get prepped on off hand chance it is trap or whatever. Spend a bit to make sure you are not in a spot things could get interrupted. And have someone watching you in-case the memory is evil/corrupting/some sort of mind controlling trap.
>>
No. 1080359 ID: eb0a9c

Tell her it looks like a hacked trap. Store that core for now.
>>
No. 1080363 ID: f14228

Hm. A nested memory - a hacked one, of someone being extracted or manipulated. And are you sure it won't change you? That Aumstail wouldn't have predicted this offering - or even suggested it as one last scheme to incapacitate you through a very special poison pill of her own?

The old founder's a scared old remnant, fearful of losing herself, while you've been a force pushing for change despite memory loss for, gosh, millenia now, and you've shown recent capacity to change yourself - she must have tried to prepare for you in so many ways. Paranoia suggests Aumstail would know that you might get offered this, so whatever memory's in here could be a trap or skewed in some direction or another - you at your lowest point, or your most stupidest, or in a complex situation that's easy to misinterpret poorly. It could be easy to cherry pick is your point, and you can state as much to Phantom.

Of course, the memories and determinations you've formed since losing your original context should have a certain heft and weight of their own, so your talk of this not changing you may have some merit.

But first, at least ask. Did Aumstail even say ANYTHING to Phantom at all about what lies outside this bubble? About the ancient past, other than 'Pillet fucked it all up' and 'definitely don't listen to Pillet, cuz immortality's cool'? Why couldn't the old founder just speak up and let people judge, and whatever memories of yours she has kept, like this, verify?

It's iffy that Aum can apparently pick out a specific memory of yours that'll convince someone that you need to be opposed, but won't or can't, like, even explain what it is supposed to be to the one absorbing it. Some warning would be nice? Your and Aumstail's memories of the ancient past are definitely cool and essential knowledge, but, like, the arguments for popping this dang bubble remain pretty tight as stands.

Consider that it might be worth it to stay unpredictable.

Ask Aumstail, frankly, over the radio whether this is some manner of dumb trap, because every instinct to the contrary you're considering suggesting Phantom feel free to have this slice of you. If Aumstail says it'll definitely be safe, tell Phantom she's welcome to it. If she still feels uncomfortable about absorbing it, you'll definitely take it off her hands, but... go. Here's her shot at looking back into the past, through whatever filter Aumstail put on it, whatever bad scene is going on. Did the founder give her instructions on how to absorb it?

Only one, though. Aumstail better cough up any others she kept intact and unabsorbed, or else you will be cross and go cry to Delli that the mean old woman bullied you again.

And if this is a really bad 'torture wheel' style memory or worse, you're the only one who could possibly extract it from Phantom as she's absorbing it, right?

Hm. ALso, is this possibly a trap to test if you still got memory extracting capabilities? Would a normal person be able to tell this is a trap just from having a look at it?
>>
No. 1080364 ID: f14228

Actually, on second thought, it feels like the dumbest thing is for any of the two parties Aumstail possibly wanted to absorb this thing to actually absorb this thing.

You could get a third trusted party involved. But who?
>>
No. 1080370 ID: 273c18

>>1080356
>the memory looks different, like it's yours but not yours at the same time
Wanna bet it's an alternate personality? Or you locked away part of your real self? ...or you were under some form of mind control and you accidentally broke free when you created that memory capsule?

Anyway, have a contingency plan in place. Tell Delli that if you start acting evil or something, he has permission to stop you by any means necessary.
The dampening field won't interfere, right? Might be best for you to absorb it here, so Delli has the most advantage possible.
>>
No. 1080377 ID: 273c18

...actually on second thought, this is absolutely a trap. Think about it, one of your goons said it was a shitty ambush. Bringing Phantom here accomplished basically nothing except to get you that memory without a fight, AND to warn Phantom that you'd behave badly after absorbing it. You're meant to absorb it while thinking that you've won.

It's tainted somehow. It has to be. You can tell it's not normal, and you are overconfident about how well you can handle "just a memory". That is information you are putting directly into your brain. How do you know it's going to stay a memory? Maybe it will force you to act out the memory in the present.

You had better either come up with a foolproof plan for dealing with the fallout, or not absorb it at all.
>>
No. 1080385 ID: 8f9bc4

Tell her yes, take it, then don't use it. Put it in your pocket or something. "Alright, pull out we're done here! See you in the city, Aumsfail. You get to vote too!"

You can absorb the memory later, in a private setting when you have Delli and chocolate close at hand.

On the other hand, Phantom is very, very fluffy, and if you absorb the memory now it's a good excuse to tackle hug her, sobbing into her warm, soft fur.
>>
No. 1080397 ID: 273c18

Oh, I've got an idea. Ask Phantom if she will let you read her memory of the meeting with Aumstail. Phantom isn't familiar with memory tech, but you are, so if you spot something through her eyes that's suspicious then you can confirm your fears. Also, it will confirm that Phantom is telling the truth (though I believe her already)
>>
No. 1080407 ID: debc82

>>1080356

If it's from BEFORE the town was made, then ... maybe it looks different simply because the you it came from is no longer the you that you are.

Makes a weird and scary bit of sense, if you assume that everything Aumstail told us is halfway true: pre-torture Pillet is probably very different from post-torture-lost-all-her-memories Pillet.

Which also means this might be Aumstail's last-ditch effort, knowing Phantom absolutely would not use the memory for herself, in the hopes that she can essentially disarm you by forcing you to remember and thus change your mind.

But somehow I doubt that last bit will matter, if you've already reached the same desire on your own without it.
>>
No. 1080448 ID: 82c0cd

>>1080356
Can you be certain it's only a memory?
>>
No. 1080451 ID: 53560f

You bet your ass I want it, but not right now. I wanna have it somewhere safe that i can really savour it and I’m not gonna feel safe until Aumstail is obliterated and I’m back in my house.
>>
No. 1080486 ID: ce93a7
File 170459038559.png - (250.49KB , 1200x1200 , 601.png )
1080486

I take a quick breath and clear my throat.

"Yeah sure, thanks."

Phantom gives me a look. I don't need memory powers to tell she's thinking to herself, "Don't say that so nonchalantly, I saw the face you made."

"But first, did Aumstail tell you anything about what lies outside our bubble?"
>"That her planet was 'cozy.' She dedicated herself to making this town. I believe her. She knows nothing about the invaders or why they came. Simply that one moment, a red alarm started blaring, and she and all the founders ran into the town before sealing it off. I could see she wanted to say more, but I don't think she struggled to remember much."
"Mmhm. You must be old enough to know that memories fade. I'd be surprised if anything she remembers is accurate. Hey, mind if I take a look at your memories just to see - "
>"I do mind. I have taken notes, so I'm not relying on my own memory."
"Okay then!" As touchy as ever.

I don't think I'll ask Aumstail if this is a dumb trap. If she's able to do the impossible and harm me through my own memory, she's too much of a genius to be affected by such a blunt question.

I turn to everyone.

"We're cleaning up! Keep an eye on Aumstail, but she doesn't need to be locked up. She can vote like everyone else. Gather anything else, keep me updated if there's anything important found down there."
>"What about Crook?" Delli asks over the radio.
"I was going to extract some memories of his and juggle them around to demonstrate why we don't cross certain lines, but I don't feel like it now. Hey, Phantom, no one but me should absorb this memory for a variety of reasons, but if you really wanted, I could absorb it while letting you safely get its contents at the same time. If you wanted to share first dibs."
>"Is it not personal?"
"Sure I guess, but it's me before my amnesia. I'm less secretive about that considering I was likely a whole other person, functionally."
>"... No. I'd like to see it if possible later, but you check it first. I'm going to focus on interrogating Aumstail first, maybe some of our artifacts will jog her memory."
"Alright, have fun."
>>
No. 1080487 ID: ce93a7
File 170459039517.png - (407.30KB , 1200x1200 , 602.png )
1080487

I leave the cleanup for the others, return to town with this memory, and get to studying. I want to go ahead and absorb it, but the thoughts that tell me this is some kind of trap haven't quit, so I spend a full day. This won't be done hastily.

By the time 24 hours have passed, I've barely slept. But I'm certain it's fine. Aumstail doesn't have the means to make a trap out of this. Even if she tried to make me lay a trap for myself while on the wheel, I'm not able to do that.

A day passes. I let myself calm down after seeing it just to be absolutely sure I'm not doing anything hasty. I've barely even slept. I'm still certain it's just a memory. The way memories are made is very strict, and any impurities are extremely obvious. After this level of scrutiny, there's just no way it's not a memory. So I'm going to absorb it now.

I'll keep some chocolate around in case it's a rough memory. Delli's here too, just in case. I've told him to watch out for any strangeness in my behavior after I absorb it out of excess caution, but after considering all the possible pitfalls, I'll go with it. Besides, even if not for my own sake, this likely contains pre-town memories. It's virtually the only real information we have on what's on the outside. It's worth the risk when the alternative is preparing for literally anything.
>>
No. 1080488 ID: ce93a7
File 170459040819.png - (804.99KB , 1200x1200 , 603.png )
1080488

I open it up and let it loose.
>>
No. 1080489 ID: ce93a7
File 170459046347.png - (877.41KB , 1200x1200 , 604.png )
1080489

>>
No. 1080490 ID: ce93a7
File 170459052137.png - (722.67KB , 1200x1200 , 605.png )
1080490

>>
No. 1080491 ID: ce93a7
File 170459055092.png - (379.40KB , 1200x1200 , 606.png )
1080491

Approximately 4,300 Years Ago

"Heavy Vault Scan-Tunnel 4 primed. Beginning scan on Memory Artificer Aelsaw."
>>
No. 1080492 ID: ce93a7
File 170459056137.png - (953.59KB , 1200x1000 , 607.png )
1080492

These scanner tunnels are certainly something. Layered kaleidoscopes turn on and make it blindingly hard to see. The only gaps in the lights are the lights I can't see. It must see every cell inside of me and every thread in my clothing. It scans every aspect of myself I know existed, and I expect some traits I never knew existed.
>>
No. 1080493 ID: ce93a7
File 170459057213.png - (48.58KB , 1200x1200 , 608.png )
1080493

It's a wonder of technology, but my eyes are glad when it dims down.

>"Scan complete. Final Authorizations Pending. High Admiral Shuzenza has granted access. Unlocking Heavy Vault 18. Go inside when you are ready, Aelsaw."
>>
No. 1080494 ID: ce93a7
File 170459058473.png - (38.17KB , 1200x1200 , 609.png )
1080494

After I do, the door shuts behind me. The only light in here is a small spot lamp illuminating a sheet of paper.

This is High Admiral Shuzenza. You have been with me on this ship for years now, checking and verifying our agents' memories both for accuracy and for loyalty. Now, the Phenocosm is calling on you for near unprecedented tasks for a memory artificer.
In case your current memories of our mission have been freshly wiped, we are stationed in outer orbit of the dead system the locals call Klivania. Our mission here is to find a renegade soul seer, Paporron, and bring him to justice for abandoning his post and attempting to build a subdimension centuries ago. We've found him on the solar system's namesake planet, Klivania.
We have gotten visuals on him, but the news is worse. If he was simply hiding, we would have sent a team to fetch him, and right now you'd be with us celebrating a mission well done instead of locked inside a heavy vault. Instead, we've found him with a brand new team of constructors building a new subdimension. The situation is distressing. This subdimension is somehow so far along that its basic operations are online, and we can no longer safely touch it. We do not know where on the planet it is, and so any direct planetary assault will give them time to seal themselves off. If this happens, it will be too late. The Phenocosm still has no way to permeate an active subdimension.
However, our agents report that Paporron and the other presently unknown constructors aren't just building some barely functional subdimension to hide in. They want to take the laws of physics and add a few addendums and appendixes. They'll be continuing work for years or decades to come.
The Phenocosm has decided we need to infiltrate them, but between Paporron learning from his mistakes and the other constructors not being clownish enough to bring their circus tent down on themselves, none of our agents have found a way into their ranks. At this stage, we are willing to resort to risking someone like yourself. I know you can manage. You see, many of their desired special functions require the abilities of a memory artificer.
Now I know, you artificers are kept under lock and key, so just having a memory artificer show up on their doorstep offering their services will raise a flag so red that we'd be able to see it from our ship.
But we have a way to bypass this. By this point, you've been told the basic mission. If you accept this mission, press the green button lit up to the side of this paper. The vault's chambers will open and you will be given the information you need. If you wish to decline, and there is no shame in doing so, press the red button, then we'll have you excise your memory of this letter."


Protocol must have made him write that last part. He knows what I'm going to do.
>>
No. 1080495 ID: ce93a7
File 170459060616.png - (139.51KB , 1200x1200 , 610.png )
1080495

I press the green button. Shutters all around me open up to reveal lit up panels and screens, almost blinding me for a moment. When my vision clears, I see....

Artificer Pillet? My sister's been missing for centuries. I don't think I'm going to like how she's key to all this.

.... Deceased? She's dead? .... oh. Three centuries ago, the same time that Shuzenza talked about - oh no, she tried working on the first subdimension with Paporron? So that's where she went. No, let me slow down and read all this together. There's an index for what I should know.

She worked on it off and on for over two millenia with Paporron. That's all the time I knew her for. It was off and on. Us artificers are always under heavy surveillance, and she must have worked hard just to hide in the shadows of the phenocosms for brief moments to do her work.

She was able to both extract her own memories and keep copies, so she remembered things the Phenocosm thought she didn't. Excising our own memories is a different process. We have machines and energy specialists verify the difference between an excised memory and a copied memory, but she managed to fool both of them. If she was ever caught, she would've been put on trial and, if found guilty, killed on the spot.

This is all secret. We were never told what happened to her. All of her things... apparently before she was killed, she was able to infiltrate the vaults keeping her memories and logs and destroy most of them. Everything that remains is now here, and I have to study it.
>>
No. 1080496 ID: ce93a7
File 170459061860.png - (34.62KB , 1200x1200 , 611.png )
1080496

Of course it stings to be reading the personal effects and memories of my colleague and sister in the artificer's society. I liked her, she was unusually energetic and full of personality. Usually such things die off in the process of becoming an artificer. I wonder, though, was it a facade to build rapport with us?

.... No. She doesn't have many memories intact, but the ones that do exist show that it was no act. She was like this with Paporron and everyone she worked with. Energetic and athletically fit, but with long bouts of brooding and scheming. She often seemed down, like she never really wanted to be a memory artificer, but she was one of the hardest studiers. She never spoke freely on that topic, anyway.

Only rarely did we see a happy Pillet where she had lighthearted romps, taking nothing seriously and not planning as well as she should. She always had trouble balancing herself. Exactly as I remember her, although... she seemed much happier working with Paporron. Or at least more energetic. That's sad to think about, and this information has led to more questions about her than I had beforehand.

But, that's all in the past. Now they want me to take the role of Pillet and reunite with Paporron. To him and all the other constructors, Pillet simply went missing.

There's a high ranking government official we've got on Klivania who's in contact with Paporron. He'll tell the soul seer that he's caught wind of Pillet, and that she - I - would like to meet him directly again.

There's much to glean here. I should be thorough, but the idea seems simple. I work with them as a memory artificer, but I figure out where they're working out of and what kind of forces and defenses they have, occasionally reporting back to Admiral Shuzenza.

I absorb it all into a memory shell and arrange it nicely with my other memories. Such organization is like writing things into a book and putting it onto a bookshelf. I tend to forget what I write down, but I know exactly where to look it up again. The vault's knowledge is now mine, and I ring up the security.

>"Vault Master speaking."
"This is Memory Artificer Aelsaw. I'm finished."
>"Understood. There is a message for you. It says to immediately report to fleshcrafter Ruflaka."
>>
No. 1080497 ID: ce93a7
File 170459063670.png - (58.06KB , 1200x1200 , 612.png )
1080497

I'm subjected to another full scan on my way out to make sure I'm not taking any physical items out of the vault. Once I'm cleared, I head to the fleshcrafter. I wonder if he knows who Pillet is? Memory artificers are not secret. It's the opposite. For one reason or another, all of us and our information is public. Our names, faces, and a vague idea of what we're capable of. One reason is that it's hard for us to run away when every stardock knows exactly who they're selling a spaceship to, even if they were the first one to learn of an attempted escape.

Although according to the public records, Pillet is still alive, simply missing, with a bounty for information leading to her discovery. It does make me wonder just what other inaccuracies are perpetuated on the public record of the 800 or so memory artificers in existence.

So I do wonder if Ruflaka here is internally speculating why in the world he's changing me to look like another memory artificer that's still on the books. He's a profession and doesn't ask questions, and I'm not so mean spirited as to test him. Although...

"You're a little thin and ragged looking for a fleshcrafter, aren't you?"
"Does a barber cut their own hair?"
"Mm. They don't? Oh, nevermind."

I get on the bed, he tosses a blanket over me, lights some strong incense, and starts his work.
>>
No. 1080498 ID: ce93a7
File 170459065785.png - (88.57KB , 1200x1200 , 613.png )
1080498

The procedure takes over a day. Not many fleshcrafters can work for a day straight, and fewer still could safely do this in such a short time even if they were able to maintain their top performance for that long. Shuzenza must have the best of the best on this flagship after all, but after hearing what our mission is, I expect nothing less.

He helps hold me up as I get used to walking in this body, and leads me to a mirror.

>"You are done."
"I feel like I could jump twenty feet in the air without using a blip of energy! She's so light."
>"Your body is made to set standards, which don't involve excessive feats of athleticism and durability. I suggest you not injure yourself before gaining your balance, so try and walk around the ship for awhile before trying such leaps."
"Should I call you directly if there's any health issues?"
>"There will be no health issues." My, he's a confident one. "Similarly, the body will behave per normal biological standards. If you get no exercise, it will weaken. If you overeat, you will get fat."
"Ah, even my eating habits must be public..."
>"I have no idea what you're talking about. There is a message for you. Report to Upper Admiral Shuzenza."
>>
No. 1080499 ID: ce93a7
File 170459067163.png - (138.89KB , 1200x1200 , 614.png )
1080499

I go to the admiral's office and wait. It's undecorated. Nothing but the default furnishings. All purple. Not a speck of dust or... anything. I wonder if it's been a full year since Shuzenza was ever even in this office.
>>
No. 1080500 ID: ce93a7
File 170459070901.png - (159.26KB , 1200x1200 , 615.png )
1080500

The door slides open.

"Hello, Upper Admiral Shuzenza.
>"Either a long lost traitor is back from the dead and in my office, or my dear Aelsaw has accepted."
"Did you expect your dear Aelsaw to decline?"
>"No, but it isn't too late to back out. Ruflaka can return you to your old body, you can excise your memory of today, and we can find an alternative. I say this, because I need you to know the danger you're in. The constructors are careful, and the longer they work, the more they'll keep a tight lid on everything. If your cover is blown, you will be surrounded by people who can make you destroy your own existence. It's the ultimate risk."
"You already know I do all I can that's asked of me."
>"Then promise me you will be as careful as you can."
"You're awfully soft for an upper admiral, Shuzenza."
>"Memory Artificer Aelsaw."
>>
No. 1080501 ID: ce93a7
File 170459075869.png - (152.08KB , 1200x1200 , 616.png )
1080501

>"You're darn right I'm going to be soft on my wife! Did you think I'd stop loving you just because you grew a traitor's disproportionately long neck?!"
"Awww of course not, but we're professionals! This behavior is to be kept behind.... ah, you did close the door, didn't you."
>"We hardly have the time to speak candidly. With the escalation this mission has experienced, I've been stuck on the bridge for weeks at a time, and you've been stuck in your study making sure our agents' reports match their memories! Now, since you accepted, we can send you down to meet Paporron at any time. Just tell us what you need and what questions you have."

Many questions! I barely know enough to even know what to ask. The life of a memory artificer is sheltered, so I'm told, with information highly controlled, especially with the Pillet crisis a mere few centures ago. My home planet, the Final Core as it's called for reasons I don't know about, even calls our headquarters the Princess Parapets due to how sheltered memory artificers are from the outside world, and vice versa.
>>
No. 1080502 ID: 99f29a

Aw, how mushy. Ask about the wacky numbers on his credit card.
>>
No. 1080504 ID: 273c18

Can you remember what a soul seer is?

Ask who else is in Paporron's group, and what they're capable of. Motivations, inner conflicts you can take advantage of, how you're going to report back.
>>
No. 1080511 ID: debc82

>>1080501

Your husband has amazing hair. Enjoy it for a bit longer.

Also, in the meanwhile, time to get as much additional information as we can. Gotta make sure this goes off without a hitch (since we need to be able to make it back, after all).
>>
No. 1080514 ID: b23ea2

I would assume someone who is taking Pillets place would get as much of Pillet's memories as possible

(also current pillet viewing this memory, did they forget color when making this subdimention or something?)
>>
No. 1080515 ID: 15a025

Do we know the motives they have for crafting this sub dimension? Anything about what it's capable of?

Also, embrace your loving husband in a hug. Who knows when we'll see each other again.
>>
No. 1080518 ID: 53560f

Ask for relevant details about klivania, Pillet and Paporron. Also fish for relevant bits about the Phenocosm.
>>
No. 1080524 ID: 73581e

Hug and hold that dear man. It might be your last time.

>questions
If the infiltration goes well, you’re to sabotage the sub-dimension and safely turn it off, yes? You’re not a dimensional expert - how is something like this achieved and what support will be waiting in the wings when you achieve it?

The specific mention of safety involving shutting down the due-dimension suggests there are unsafe ways this might get dealt with. Do you have a deadline before any such get applied, or are they simply too risky to try at all?

Related, do we know how time operates in the other dimension? Slower, faster?
>>
No. 1080525 ID: fa3034

So much for old memories getting hazy, this seems pretty damn clear. Ask about relevant skills and tactics should you need to get out of binds in there. Pillet is your cover, but you're going to need a believable web of supporting information and tricks to back it up.
>>
No. 1080526 ID: dbabb8

Huhhhh, this- recontextualises a lot of things. This is gonna be one heck of a thing to reintegrate once you've come out of this, Pillet- or rather, Aelsaw. Looks like a lot of things have been forgotten, or twisted, over time, including the motives behind your own goals.

As far as reliving this memory goes: What do we know about this sub-dimension that they're building?
>>
No. 1080528 ID: 8f9bc4

You know a lot about memories, but not a lot about dimensional physics. What happens when it's too late? It would mean disaster for yourself, but what is the danger of an active subdimension to the Phenocosm? What are the stakes here, if you fail?
>>
No. 1080880 ID: ce93a7
File 170511556540.png - (311.47KB , 1200x1200 , 617.png )
1080880

"Your hair is as soft as ever." I hug him. Even if I wasn't going into an unknown place, I don't know when I'll see him next.
>"I'm glad you recognize my efforts. But I am on the clock, here, so you'll have to enjoy my fluff while I carry you to the port to show you your new ship and radio. Tell me what else you need."
"My needs, hm...." I lean in and whisper into his ears. "Money."
>"Money? Haha, you must not have had your outer memories excised recently if you're aware of such extraneous concepts! That is just as well, the candid memories of agents we have on Klivania will do you well. But to answer your request, you will have a zipbox, which is a special sort of chip they use on Klivania to transfer money from a bank account to whatever you put a chip inside. They even use physical coins down there! You will receive a good purse for handling them."
"Good, good. You know, I've gotten as many memories of Pillet as we have, but it just isn't much. I could use some information and tricks to help back it up."
>"Very well, I will arrange for a few memories of on the job agent training. They'll show you the basics. Beyond that, you'll be going in as blind as we are. Paporron's team is a mystery. Even his message to Pillet was vague, but you can ask your first planetary contact about that. Thankfully, you are a memory artificer who's been missing for centuries, and have perfectly plausible reason to have had many of your memories wiped. He has no reason to assume you know what you once did."
"Is that truly the best I'll have? I received all we had on Pillet and her memories, and it was so scarce I would expect Paporron to be incredulous that I made it to him while remembering so little."
>"To be honest with you, I fully believe Pillet has more intact memories. I will be pressing the Phenocosm to supply more about Pillet, but it may be months before I can fill out that vault. I do agree you should have more. But for the time, we have ran this scenario through our encephalon matrix. It has great faith in your success. Remember, they must desperately want a memory artificer. They will take your word in good faith, and any excuses you may have, such as amnesia. If they weren't desperate, I doubt they would be letting you in in the first place."
"And if I fail? What are the consequences of if the active subdimension is sealed off for good?"
>"Who could say? When so many highly skilled, dangerous people of dubious goals are tucked away in a hole in the universe the Phenocosm has yet to find a way into, the potential ramifications are great."
>>
No. 1080881 ID: ce93a7
File 170511557549.png - (192.86KB , 1200x1200 , 618.png )
1080881

I at least know that Paporron had a soft spot for Pillet. In many ways, he was as sheltered as I am, as all soul seers and memory artificers are. The two schools are closely related, but also worlds apart in practice.

Soul seeing is the closest school I feel we have to outright magic. They do X to cause Y, and yet they have no idea what happens between. It's full of rituals, with soul seers running off gut feelings, superstitions and instinct. It is called soul seeing because they are incapable, I believe by design, of damaging a soul. They can see it, pass messages through it as I believe Paporron did some form of this to contact Pillet, hide a soul, bury it, keep it from the afterlife, but the soul itself cannot be harmed.

Artificing, on the other hand, is the full science of what makes a person a person, physically speaking. More terrifyingly, this makes our power over memories, and how the brain shapes itself around those memories, far more absolute. To destroy a person beyond their flesh is still only in the realm of memory artificers. This is why we are so closely guarded, monitored, and our energy levels are kept at an absolute minimum to avoid being able to brute force our way into anyone's head. To do so is sin of the highest order.

That is why I can only imagine there is more at stake than a simple hole in the universe to send someone like me, who has never known privacy, so quickly behind enemy lines.

"So we don't know anything about their group? Do we know anything about this sub-dimension they're building?"
>"They will have a spatial worker that bends physical space, a sealer to seal it off from the rest of the universe, most likely they'll have a fleshcrafter or two to grant themselves immortality of the flesh... not even I know what else is needed. The phenocosm has been attempting to stamp out that knowledge for as long as I can remember, and yet here we are. The details are things you will have to retrieve for us."
"Is that so? I know very little about the Phenocosm, by the way."
>"And I have little clearance and even less time to tell you all that I know, but at the broadest level, we are the rightful rulers of the universe. A lofty statement, I know! But it is true, and with it comes with a great many enemies. We do not judge their character. On the contrary, we appreciate their existence. For without ones like Paporron and his team, our blades would grow dull, and our laurels would wither, and I would be out of a job. It is with gratitude that we hunt them, and with honor we send them to the same afterlife our own citizens earn. And here is your ship, Memory Artificer... Pillet."
"A cargo ship?" It's towering over all of the phenocosm flying habitats like a rust heap.
>"Ha! No. This is how Klivanians build passenger ships."
"How spacious. Thank you, Upper Admiral Shuzenza. How will I report back?"
>"An instant transmission radio is left inside. The other things you requested are also inside. Now, go with my love."
"And be here with mine."
>>
No. 1080885 ID: ce93a7
File 170511569752.png - (70.43KB , 1200x1200 , 619.png )
1080885

It's not spacious at all. Is the hull 2 feet thick? It's not a combat ship, but it seems desperate to keep air in with material alone. Is there no energy seal? Do Klivanians not know how to breathe in space?

>"Hello, I'm your on-board pilot. There is a pending route charted for Klivania. Shall I begin navigation?"
"Please."

I get to studying. There is this 'zipbox' chip as well as a cell phone, with directions on how to use both.

As said, there's also a coin bank under the dashboard that can be exchanged for plenty of goods and services.
>>
No. 1080886 ID: ce93a7
File 170511575669.png - (256.87KB , 1200x1200 , 620.png )
1080886

As we take off and leave Shuzenza's flagship, the pilot tells me to review a package left for me. It contains that instant transmission radio, and directions for me to land on Klivania and speak with my first contact that will guide me to Paporron.

There are also a small handful of memories that have been prepared for me involving some agents running through the basics of spy work, such as code phrases. There are also some things like how to drive, first aid, and other useful bits. Just absorbing the memories isn't the same as personalized experience, but they do make for good training guides.

There are some more non critical documents, telling me about things like Klivanian busses and scooters. There's also some small notebooks that talk about the system and its geographical features, laws and traditions. I don't think I'm going to need to know much here; I'm not pretending to be a native.

It seems that Klivania is a lost solar system, likely inhabited by a rogue ark many thousands of years ago. That explains why its technology is so old. I'm told that my mission depends on not revealing any high tech items. It is unknown what the reaction would be on Klivania, but these documents tell me that most Klivanians are not even aware of the phenocosm's existence. To them, we're aliens. If they find abnormally high tech, the implications from their perspective may cause chaos. Worse still is that when word gets out, the subdimensional constructors will realize the phenocosm has discovered the planet, and that they are in grave danger.
>>
No. 1080887 ID: ce93a7
File 170511577254.png - (331.97KB , 1200x1200 , 621.png )
1080887

That's why this ship appears so low tech, as Klivanian ships aren't even capable of FTL. This ship has no anti-grav drives, energy sealants, non-heating thusters, food replicators... I'm glad it has an on board pilot, at least.

Klivania does scan for objects around planets, though, and that's why my pilot will warp an hour or two away from Klivania and travel the rest of the way using much more modest speeds.

The FTL drive installed is reported to be impossible to find using Klivanian scanners, and they aren't in the habit of invasive investigations. But should the FTL compartment be physically opened, apparently the drive is set to incinerate itself as to prevent its discovery.

The pamphlet continues talking about the system as a whole. Apparently there are only three present planets and a sun that has been dead for eons. The closest planet to the sun is Klivania itself. The middle planet is Doss. It contains signs that it used to be 4 different planets that all had overlapping orbits and crashed into one another, fusing into Doss. It's a resource rich planet that has no native atmosphere or natural habitable elements.

Finally, the outermost planet is Threeshell. Interestingly, evidence makes us think it used to orbit another star entirely, then was knocked off course for who knows how long before stabilizing around this sun. This might have something to do with how it used to be a gas giant, but is now a crystallized hunk of complex rock and ice that, though smaller in volume than Doss, is dense enough to make it the heaviest planet in this system.

And farther out from Threeshell is where Admiral Shuzenza and his two lower fleets have formed a cloudy shell around the Klivanian system. They are keeping themselves hidden with a mix of cloaking equipment and hiding behind the natural bits of space debris that slowly float around the outer regions of the solar system.

I can try my regular radio once I land. For now, I test my instant transmission radio instead, and make contact with Shuzenza's flagship, Heaven's Jurisdiction. Their communicators reply and confirm it works. Like the ship, this radio exterior is made to look like a regular Klivanian radio, but with a modification inside for instant transmission. This allows instantly being able to talk with anyone with an appropriate receiver anywhere within a solar system's range. And just like the ship, it will explode if its instant transmission module is tampered with. Its note tells me it's best not to open the radio if possible.

And finally, a cellphone, completely Klivanian. No Phenocosm tech here, just a plain talking device with the range of a single planet, infrastructure willing.
>>
No. 1080888 ID: ce93a7
File 170511578482.png - (755.82KB , 1200x1200 , 622.png )
1080888

After I warp and spend an hour reviewing these documents, I can see Klivania clearly. I review my orders for how to approach this. It's been awhile since I've seen another planet outwardly like this.

The planet is surrounded by a set of lamps that are set to rotate slightly faster than the planet itself. This keeps the planet lit up in a stereotypical day-night cycle, and although it supplies some heat as well, my pamphlet tells me that most of the planet's heat is from its slow burning core.

To the side of the planet Klivania, I think I'm seeing a star or two in the distance die down. There's a conspicuous black splotch where stars are missing. Remembering the pamphlet's descriptions of the system, that must be Klivania's cold, dead sun.

So far I've learned concerningly little about my mission or what I'm to do. I simply have to trust that our flagship's brain matrix is correct about me needing to know so little going in. Or perhaps this is a desperate measure, and my chances of success are actually low? If they force information out of me, it's best that I know as little as possible. But... no, it's not my place to second guess my superiors.
>>
No. 1080889 ID: ce93a7
File 170511579408.png - (436.59KB , 1200x1200 , 623.png )
1080889

I enter the atmosphere.

"Ellie to Space Port VSI, requesting space to land." A cover name just for the space port, apparently. I shouldn't be using the name Pillet so freely, even in such a backwater place.
>"VSI to Ellie, granted. Land on Bay 30."
"Landing on bay 30."

The ship lands using a mix of gimbal thrusters to slow its speeds down so that it uses a small stretch of runway. I guess without any wind dampeners, the gimbal thrusters just wouldn't be safe to use right next to the ground crew. I have to admit, it was still a very smooth landing.
>>
No. 1080890 ID: ce93a7
File 170511580487.png - (139.34KB , 1200x1200 , 624.png )
1080890

My instructions weren't long, and it just ends here telling me to make a phone call and introduce myself. I use my low tech cell phone and look through the contacts. I notice a lot are password protected, so I input that and see several additional contacts after a warning screen asks me to make sure no one can see my screen.

I find 'Spokesperson Varther' as directed, the elected official to speak for a large region of the planet. He'l be my primary contact outside of Paporron. He's the Phenocosm plant who rose through the ranks of Klivania. I call.

>"Who is speaking?"
"Memory Artificer Pillet."
>"Ahhh 'kay, about Paporron."
"Can you tell me about how exactly he sent a message to me?"
>"Oh, yeah, he had to do it through me because I supplied some materials for him. I don't really get how he did it, something about souls being everywhere and nowhere, and if you can tell a soul something, you can send it anywhere instantly.... the details are beyond me, all I know is it was like the metaphysical equivalent of Paporron dropping something off in a shady alleyway. Anyway, Paporron's accomplices are careful, but I pulled in a lot of favors to get you a direct route inside. You'll get a single chance to show up. Let's see, you'll want to arrive at an old trolley station at 2 PM on the dot, meeting a man named Hart... ah, here we go."

He reads off an address and a code phrase to make contact with Hart.

>"He'll take you the rest of the way. Don't ask questions, do as you're told. The messages I got made it sound like if you generate the slightest hiccup in the process, the whole thing will be called off. Could be total bullshit, I know how that goes. But it could be true. These guys are up to something above my paygrade, and I don't want to know about it. It sounds like the kind where people go in and never leave. But I've got more pullable strings, and I'll find an out for you. Could take weeks or months. If you need to get out sooner, you'll have to figure that out on your own."
"Okay, thank you."
>"If you've got questions, call me again."

I can't think of anything right now, so I hang up.
>>
No. 1080891 ID: ce93a7
File 170511582141.png - (74.01KB , 1200x1200 , 625.png )
1080891

I take my belongings and leave. No one seems to mind me, so I keep walking. The cell phone manual has directions on how to look up addresses, and it looks like there are bus lines that will bring me there. ETA 2.5 hours of travel, and it's in... over four hours.

It might not be as hard as I thought. There are signs everywhere. On Shuzenza's ship, everyone is expected to have the labyrinthian place memorized, I think intentionally in case it's ever boarded by an enemy.

This is the first time I haven't been under surveillance since... some time shortly after my birth, I think. It's kind of scary.

The idea that no one's watching me, or watching out for me. No one's telling me to keep my neck straight. Anything can happen. I wonder if Pillet felt this way, too? Although I don't think she was always a memory artificer, so she may have felt strange entering constant surveillance.

It seems like I have a couple of hours of spare time, and there's a lot of entertainment areas in this spaceport. Is that a casino? Gambling? That's illogical. A public library? For the public? Wait, that smell...

Oooh, a bakery? They just sell treats? No permits required? People just... buy them? It smells really good. I don't know if the trolley station at my destination will have such amenities. Perhaps I can kill some time here and see how people behave when they aren't watched by an ever vigilant encephalon matrix.
>>
No. 1080898 ID: d1bdfe

>>1080891
Baked goods sound good. But make sure not to go crazy over them. Much.

Maybe browse your phone for news too? People don’t always get knowledge beamed into their brains. Or you could check out that library, look at a history book or something. Curious about what the locals know about how their system and how it came to be.

Plenty of possible distractions. So many you should probably put a reminder timer on so you don’t miss the meet.

…maybe you COULD miss the meet on purpose. Get to experience this world a little more., build your Pillet personality. If they’re so desperate for you they won’t give up recruiting you immediately. And you have a possible excuse if you say you must’ve memory shaped so that the meet-up didn’t seem like a critical thing - for reasons you can’t recall.
>>
No. 1080900 ID: 273c18

>>1080881
>our energy levels are kept at an absolute minimum to avoid being able to brute force our way into anyone's head. To do so is sin of the highest order.
Oh dear! And present-day "Pillet" can do that now. ...and might be why she wanted power so much.

>Do Klivanians not know how to breathe in space?
Well, that's certainly an interesting concept. Breathing in vacuum.
...also boy is the tech level high out there. We've got catching up to do. Though, it might be a lost cause. Also, the existence of energy dampener specialists means there could be a bunch of them right outside the pocket dimension, which means it'll be very difficult to fight; especially since the tech level we have in here is inferior. We won't be able to bolster our forces that much with equipment unless it's a comparable tech level to what's out there. This is honestly the most valuable information yet. We have an actual TARGET for how strong we need to be to stand a fighting chance. Though, also, since "Pillet" was sent in as a spy, and was married to someone quite high rank, she might be able to negotiate a peaceful exodus as well.

>>1080891
Bakery is low risk, and you need to see how people behave around here so you can fit in. Get ye treats.
>>
No. 1080902 ID: 53560f

Make small talk with people while you’re lined up for baked treats and make sure to ask for recommendations.
>>
No. 1080907 ID: df45e0

Hmm sorta wondering if that Threeshell planet is part of the reason the rebels are doing this here. Wonder if it has any old secrets worth making this the location of a new sub-dimension?

Go get a snack at the bakery! What sort of permits would you normally need for this sort of thing? And why would a public library be odd?
>>
No. 1080909 ID: df45e0

Hmmm a thought for you. Pillet is dead correct? Or at least that is what is claimed. If she was killed was it by the government for her crimes when they found this mess? A secret trial perhaps?

If she is dead has she gone off to a "better" place or is she in a jar somewhere on the governments shelf? Maybe several jars if one is the soul and many others her hidden memory copies. The afterlife appears to be known and souls able to be quantified so... how sure are we she is off the playing field?
>>
No. 1080910 ID: d1bdfe

>>1080909
Bah. Can’t be thinking like that or before we know it we’ll be suspecting we ARE the real Pillet, thinking we’re Pillet’s sister, made this way because memory manipulators are too useful to kill and/or because we needed like, Inception levels of memory meddling tiers to get past the vetting process here - needing to actually be the real Pillet (cuz, say, soul stuff we don’t understand), but not have her loyalties.

Hm. We can manipulate our own memory right? Maybe having a low-level belief we actually are some version of Pillet would be useful for the cover. Since we possess some of her actual memories it wouldn’t even be altogether untrue, just a matter of bringing those personality traits more to the fore, and hide away the actual memories for a bit. Not something needed to commit to right away though.
>>
No. 1080917 ID: cbe5b1

>>1080910
We're going to have to do whatever we can to put this stuff to the test anyway, the moment memory manipulation existed and these memories got handed to us from someone else it became impossible to trust any of it.
>>
No. 1080920 ID: 8f9bc4

Ooh, a library? A bakery? Did Pillet like bakeries? She seems more the type who would like bars. Is there a bar? A place of ill-repute? Where you can purchase substances that fog your mind, and loosen your inhibitions?

Wait no I'm talking about the bakery again. What distinguishes a bar from a bakery?
>>
No. 1080923 ID: debc82

>>1080891

Baked goods best goods.

But heck, yes, let's spend a bit of time familiarizing ourselves. Don't want to seem like we've never been here before, after all!
>>
No. 1080926 ID: ce93a7
File 170518487461.png - (46.03KB , 1200x1200 , 626.png )
1080926

I'd better spend a little time familiarizing myself with the local culture, and the best way is to get some experience in a safe environment. I walk into the back of the line and wait.

I can see from my surroundings that making small talk is common here. Usually the only people who speak to me have clearance to do so, or because it's an emergency. For the same reasons, I don't talk to others unless I have reason to. But I am pretending to be a normal, everyday citizen.

"Hello!" I say to the man ahead of me, who turns around.
>"Hi, yeah?"
"Hello, I'm just saying hi. I'm - Ellie."
>"... Okay. I'm Buks. I'm married."
"I'm happy to hear that."
>"Not like it's that good of a marriage."
"Oh no, I'm sorry to hear that."
>"It's still a marriage, so I'm going to turn order my cinnamon rolls now."
"Alright!"

What an unusual conversation!
>>
No. 1080927 ID: ce93a7
File 170518489045.png - (36.92KB , 1200x1200 , 627.png )
1080927

I patiently wait for him to finish ordering and carefully watch him pay. It looks like he's using chips. Which is confusingly named. Chips are both coins as well as what the zipbox is. Klivania also can refer to the planet, the system, and I think even the star. It's truly a confusing, retro culture.

Buks gives me a strange look and quickly walks away, and that means I go up to the counter now.

"Hello!"
>"Hi, miss."
"...."
>"Can I get you something?"
"Yes! What do you recommend?"
>"I uh...." He looks at the food. "Don't... know. I haven't really had anything from here yet."
"What? I don't mean this poorly, but isn't it a bad sign that you won't even eat your own food?"
>"Well, it's not mine."
"Huh?"
>"Miss, I just make the - I mean, no. I don't make the food. I just sell the food. The menu's up there, if you want anything."

Hmmm. The first thing on the menu is usually the safest option on Heaven's Jurisdiction, so I'll go with that.

"One chocolate dough nut, please."
>"Alright. Just one?"
"Am I allowed to get more?"
>"I - think? Yes? I... hold on. Yes. I'm sorry, it's my first day. I wasn't ready for that question, you can get as many as you want."
"As many as I want?!"
>"... As long as you can afford it. And as long as we have it in stock. And, uh... no, I think that's it."
"I will take..." Hm, they don't look that big. "Eight donuts."
>"That will be... 48 chunks."
"... I'm sorry, I don't think I have chunks."
>"... ummmm. If you can't pay, thennnnn?"
"Do you accept chips? Or... wait, is it bits?" The taxi service used bits, not chips. Oh no, it's confusing!
>>
No. 1080928 ID: ce93a7
File 170518490433.png - (75.47KB , 1200x1200 , 628.png )
1080928

>"Ma'am." Ah, someone behind me is speaking.
"Hello, I'm speaking with the Melle, right now."
>"Chunks is just slang for chips. You got coins or a zipbox, right?"
"I sure do. What are bits, then?"
>"Some crap they use under Pirania, 4 bits is one chip or something like that, but if you have chips, just use those."
"I'm learning a lot, thank you."
>"Great, so please, go ahead. Pay. Most of us have places to be, girl."

Rudely spoken! So this is what it's like to be treated like an everybody. It certainly feels different having such vitriol thrown at me personally, rather than through a memory. Truly, the material universe can be an unforgiving place.

These coins are 20, these are 10... I'll just use 2 20's and a... no, let me fish out 8 1's. Ohh, Melle does have some efficiency to him, he's getting the dough nuts while I gather change.

>"Here you are."
"Thank you. Is... no, nevermind." Usually I have to give my seal for approved transactions, but I do not even have my stamp with me.
>"Oh um...." The Melle stops me after I take a single step away, and I can see the poor man in a hurry tilt his head back in pure frustration. I'm glad this isn't a violent culture, otherwise I'd be in trouble about now. "My name is Melle. I'm not 'The' Melle, this is a nametag, not a title."
"Oh! Sorry, Melle. You have a nice day, now."
>"Y-yeah, you too."
>>
No. 1080929 ID: ce93a7
File 170518491814.png - (82.74KB , 1200x1200 , 629.png )
1080929

I walk over to where I think I see the public dining area. I'm beginning to think I might not be good at this, so it's good that I used this experience to learn. Once again, I can only put my faith in the matrix and Shuzenza that I am able to succeed here. I'm certainly not not a natural at this.

On the bright side, there are enough memories from Pillet to get a grasp on her personality. Just reading them is little better than reading a detailed book, but if I internalize them, it's a different story. Molding them against myself, and myself to them, will make it more as though I lived them. It's still not quite the same, but it can be further helped if I also externalize my own memories. I won't lose them, but it will flip which memories shape me and my personality.

The process is close to perfect, but only close. It'll mess with who I am, and there are some things sacred that should not be so easily performed. To change a personality and who I am whenever it's convenient can potentially cheapen my sense of self. However, if destroying the subdimension is as important as I am being led to believe, then just as the fleshcrafter shaped my body to physically reflect Pillet, perhaps changing my brain to fit Pillet is worth it.

There's that bookstore again. I don't know if normal phenocosm citizens are allowed such things. Perhaps it doesn't matter for less controlled professions, but I am a memory artificer. All high skills like these are controlled, and 1 person may only know 1 protected skill. A fleshcrafter cannot learn space bending, a memory artificer cannot dabble in soul seeing, and so on. The information fed to us is highly controlled, and one cannot just enter a public vault of information and have free reign of the place. But this public bookstore? What combinations of valuable skills lay within that one can just learn on their free time? I think I will look through their window at their examples to find out.

'1001 Funny Jokes You Can Tell at the Dinner Table', 'The Doomed Expedition', and the sequel to the first, '1001 Funny Jokes You Can't Tell at the Dinner Table'...?

Wait, these are books for fun?! Such things exist? Oh, my donuts are getting cold, I will have to investigate that later.
>>
No. 1080930 ID: ce93a7
File 170518493979.png - (46.73KB , 1200x1200 , 630.png )
1080930

Ahh!

These are really good! It feels like they sacrificed all nutritional value for pure, dense sweetness. And what is this stuff at the top? Is that the chocolate modifier? It's cheating its way into tasting too good, and it's completely available to the public for what I think is an affordable price? Amazing.

I take another bite. I'm halfway through the first donut.

Pillet would've enjoyed these. I do wonder why the vault had so few of her memories. I know many of mine are locked away in a vault that no memory artificer can access. Reviewing what I recently learned, I can remember that she was intercepted during the attempted subdimension Paporron was involved in a few centuries ago. A speedy trial led to an immediate, quiet execution. I don't have her memories of this, and the vault's documents glazed over that process. That's likely because as far as my cover is concerned, this part never happened.

Despite the gaps in my knowledge regarding her death, I must believe she is dead. Her soul should be at rest by now in the afterlife, and I believe the phenocosm's soulseers can monitors specific souls in the afterlife. For a short while, Pillet was public enemy number 1, so I should imagine her soul is under considerable surveillance. And as Shuzenza said, our enemies enjoy the same afterlife we do. The phenocosm is not vindictive. There is no such place as hell.

... oh, no, Pillet! I just remembered! Her body!

I got 8 of these donuts thinking it was for me, Aelsaw. Pillet's body is so tiny and thin, I can feel that I'm going to be full after 3, maybe 4 donuts! Maybe I should sell some of these donuts back to Melle.
>>
No. 1080932 ID: 5ebd37

Hmm, Melle might find that rather rude. Better to hang onto them, maybe you can give them to your next contact as a gift.
>>
No. 1080933 ID: debc82

>>1080930

Nah, keep 'em for later. If you like them this much, they might make a nice gift for when we meet our contact!
>>
No. 1080945 ID: 273c18

>>1080930
Do you see anyone selling stuff to Melle? Don't blow your cover by acting weird enough to start people talking about you.
>>
No. 1080948 ID: 8f9bc4

There's a rich ancient tradition called "day old donuts." Just save the extras for later. No one will suspect a thing!

They would also make excellent gifts too, if you think Pillet was the generous type of personality.
>>
No. 1080949 ID: df45e0

So did the phenocosm make their own afterlife or are just able to peer into the one that exists naturally?

As for the extra donuts keep those carefully wrapped up for later. In general custom baked goods like that are probably not returnable unless defective.

If this sub dimension is such a big issue they might be expecting you to end up very close to Pillet to keep your cover. You can no doubt get by on excuses of lacking memories to hide from the phenocosm at first. But be prepared for deep cover especially if Pillet left a set of backup memories here.
>>
No. 1080964 ID: 15a025

Hold onto the extra doughnuts for now. They'll make a great gift to share with others you form companionship with later.
>>
No. 1080970 ID: b12e8c

Wait, if Pillet is dead and soulseers can keep tabs on souls, wouldn't the enemy know about it?
So either they actually put Pillet in stasis instead of killing her, or this mission is doomed from the start.
>>
No. 1080985 ID: 8f9bc4

>>1080970

The Phenocosm's soulseers have Pillet's soul imprisoned for all eternity, so any rogue soulseers wouldn't be able to find her flitting about the afterlife.
>>
No. 1081011 ID: 273c18

>>1080985
>imprisoned for all eternity
What makes you say that?
>>
No. 1081021 ID: 8f9bc4

>>1081011

Well I mean, the afterlife doesn't end, does it? Why would they release her spirit, if spirits like her are known to cause trouble?
>>
No. 1081033 ID: 19ea25

>>1081021
There's also the wording. "We send them to the same afterlife our citizens earn". They could be sending said souls to a specific one they made.
>>
No. 1081055 ID: b3eab7

You don't need to know to which afterlife the soul went to know something's amiss: You merely need to know it's crossed over and isn't in the world of the living anymore. And I was under the impression that's pretty knowable for soulseers.
>>
No. 1081057 ID: 273c18

>>1081021
???
Why would anyone care what a bodiless soul gets up to? And what gives you the impression that souls can be captured at all?
>>
No. 1081115 ID: 8f9bc4

>>1081057

Because... she could warn the soulseers working for the rebels, that Aelsaw is an impostor?
>>
No. 1081160 ID: 273c18

>>1081115
I suspect souls cannot interact with the physical world on their own, mostly because we haven't seen them doing that yet.
>>
No. 1081183 ID: ce93a7
File 170543913259.png - (57.73KB , 1200x1200 , 631.png )
1081183

>Did the phenocosm make their own afterlife or just able to peer into the one that exists naturally?
I have no idea!

>If Pillet is dead and soulseers can keep tabs on souls, wouldn't the enemy know about it?
I suppose that depends on if a soul seer can detect whether any specific soul in the universe has passed on. I don't know if they can. It would worry me greatly, but my mission was reviewed by both the phenocosm and our encephalon matrix. I trust that they would not make such a grave oversight with the knowledge they have.

I watch a few more people approach Melle. I don't see any signs that they're selling him anything, so perhaps I will not. I'm not certain why. In the phenocosm, we can sell food back and they put it through the biosplit -

Ah, yes, Klivania would not have this tech. I think I will spend these next few hours thinking hard about it. While I believe Shuzenza's words that I can use an excuse of amnesia to get far, I will have to work on my personality. Of course, if Pillet was alive and showed up, I can't imagine she would know how Klivanians do business. Still, my personality is simply a mismatch.
>>
No. 1081184 ID: ce93a7
File 170543918285.png - (108.63KB , 1200x1200 , 632.png )
1081184

I think on what she's said, and relive some memories a little closer as I slow down my eating.

"Try again! We can't afford mistakes on this, you gotta do it 100 times perfectly in practice before I let you try the real thing!" Pillet tells a hacker who biologically interfaces with common electronic devices.

There's a long memory of her training her artificing in a sensory deprivation chamber. I skim through the 2 day long memory, but there is no change, and nothing that hasn't been done by every artificer before.

"Hey, you! Did you just spit gum on the ground? Turn around, fucker!" Pillet's yelling at someone. He pulls out a knife, she pulls out a gun, and the memory fades. In heated moments like these, she is far less careful than I would have imagined.

Then there's a memory of just under an hour of Pillet in shock. I don't know what happened. She didn't think anything.

There's a short memory of her driving through a snowy planet without a speck of air pollution in the night sky, just to get away from things for awhile.

She seemed to have an eventful life outside of memory artificing. These memories are so scattered yet subtly impactful. It's like Pillet had her life flash before her eyes, and these are the memories that got bottled up, stowed away, and made their way to me. And for all I know, that's exactly what happened. It's merely a small hunch. It could just as well be that she or someone tried to destroy her memories, but it was not thorough and these are the ones that the phenocosm could restore.

No matter the specifics, I feel like if I internalized these memories too thoroughly, I would just become an echo of a dying woman's final thoughts.
>>
No. 1081185 ID: ce93a7
File 170543919830.png - (37.07KB , 1200x1200 , 633.png )
1081185

I return my focus to the present and - I've had 6 donuts?! I will cherish this memory as both a great food experience, as well as a grim reminder to the dangers of such indulgence. I fear this body will soon pay the price of so much sweetness.

Perhaps I will give a couple to Hart, or Paporron. Oh, two is too few, but... I shouldn't waste my funds by throwing them out.

These should last plenty of time, and my closer worries are how to go about going towards the meeting. Perhaps the bus? The taxis seem reliable, but expensive.

I have much to learn and have been given an inadequate amount of time to do so. I think I will freshen up in the washroom, although I hope it's cleaner than this area. The undersides of these tables are simply filthy.
>>
No. 1081186 ID: ce93a7
File 170543920676.png - (94.26KB , 1200x1200 , 634.png )
1081186

It is dirtier in here. It should be okay. While I dislike this area immensely, I have greater concerns than the smudges on the mirror and soap grit spotting the counter. The most effective way is simply to make new memories to acclimated myself. I get some odd looks from people who walk in, see me staring at myself in the mirror, then leave watching me still stare at myself. Pillet also would not mind them.

I am glad I have the raw memories of agents who dealt with basic travel and interactions on this planet. If not for that context, I would fear that these individuals in the bathroom think my behavior suspicious, and that they are leaving and reporting it to their local commander. Such is life in the phenocosm, but here the typical course of action is to avoid me and my business. This is good for me, although I do wonder if Klivanians are in it for themselves in life.

I should not think so poorly of them. They have been sometimes terse and crass in their speech, but even the person behind me in line offered helpful information, and I have seen not a single touch of violence since getting out of my ship despite so many people in this starport. They have been showing me much more good than bad, and no one is bothering my self reflection in the bathroom. Some hardly even look at me even on their way out. This girl behind me merely gives me side eyes as she walks by.
>>
No. 1081187 ID: ce93a7
File 170543921481.png - (27.30KB , 1200x1200 , 635.png )
1081187

... She left without washing her hands.
>>
No. 1081190 ID: df45e0

Bunch of savages for sure. Wash yours extra well... wait would Pillet have given her shit for that? Bet she would have it's not quite littering with gum but still...

How much money do you have on hand for taxi's and other expenses?
>>
No. 1081194 ID: b3eab7

She probably feared getting too close to you would result in worse trouble than dirty hands.
>>
No. 1081195 ID: debc82

>>1081187

Oh dang. Oh gross. That's the absolute worst.

She's totally going to touch things, too! Like the door or whatever (provided there was a door to enter/exit the washroom), which WE will have to touch, too ...!
>>
No. 1081198 ID: dbabb8

Ok, that is gross but you can deal with it. Wash your hands, then use your elbows for the door if it's a push, or grab the handle through your sleeve if it's a pull. Simple way to do it, there's no need to make a fuss about it.

Now, this is something you need to make a bit of a mantra. What you see here is normal, it may seem unusual to you, but your from a different context, it's normal to everyone else here, internalise that. If there is a public library, that is because it's normal. If people don't wash their hands, that is because a lack of consequences make it normalised even if it's gross.

Dampen your wonder and surprise and just accept things. The real Pillet would've experienced things like this before, she wouldn't be surprised, and you've got to catch up enough to her for you to plausibly be her.
>>
No. 1081202 ID: 273c18

Tell her to get back in here and wash her hands. That's something Pillet would do.
>>
No. 1081209 ID: d34a79

>>1081187
Because you were being a weirdo by standing in front of the sinks and staring at yourself. She was too freaked out by you to want to go near the sinks.
>>
No. 1081225 ID: a7a180

According to your memories of Pillet, you need to pull a knife on her for poor hygiene. For your cover.
>>
No. 1081226 ID: 8f9bc4

Oh noooo you've prevented her cleanliness!
>>
No. 1081238 ID: e83474

Wash your hands and make yourself scarce.
>>
No. 1081246 ID: ce93a7
File 170551149445.png - (63.30KB , 1200x1200 , 636.png )
1081246

I must treat things I see as normal. Unless it is obviously wrong, I will just have to not act with wonder and curiosity about every little thing. I know from personal experience that Pillet could roll with the punches, anyway.

... Could. She did get riled up over things like that bubble gum incident. If I'm to act like Pillet, then perhaps I should be more outspoken. I walk to the door and push it open with my elbow, and call out to that woman.

"Hey! Wash your hands!"

The woman looks at me, aghast. Some other people are staring, now. Oh no, Pillet's memory involved someone who pulled a knife, but I don't have a gun, and the woman is coming right at me. Pillet wouldn't shrink away defensively, but -

>"I forgot!"
>>
No. 1081247 ID: ce93a7
File 170551150315.png - (56.50KB , 1200x1200 , 637.png )
1081247

The girl rushes past me to furiously scrub her hands and avoids eye contact with me. I think that was still an improvement. It might not be perfect, but it's much more like Pillet than Aelsaw! The only flaw is that my heart is racing. And that she might have not washed her hands because of my suspicious behavior.

Pillet doesn't look that scary, does she? Even if I stared at the mirror for so long, right in the middle of the counter, possibly not blinking enough... in hindsight, perhaps I was too harsh on her even by Pillet's standards. Nonetheless, it was enlightening. I think that helped. Now I should move on.

It's time that I begin pondering my trip to the abandoned train trolley. I've got about 5,000 chips in pure coins, and about 20,000 available in my zipbox, and supposedly I can take out loans if I somehow need more than 25k.

Let's see... the first option is a series of busses and railways. It's admittedly complicated, but there will be no issue with my memory and accuracy in following its directions. It's very cheap, perhaps 200 chips total.

The taxi service will be very direct and easy. Converting their strange unit of taxi-money... 3700 chips? Wow, they are expensive. I could get 600 donuts with that kind of money.
>>
No. 1081248 ID: 9e2c52

Look up if the taxis have some sort of special feature or service that makes it worth that much extra.

If they don't, might be a good time to do the bus trip. It would also give you a chance to feel out a civilians around this planet and get a bit more Pillet practice.
>>
No. 1081251 ID: debc82

>>1081247

Donuts seem more economical than taxis. Let's take the not-taxi route.
>>
No. 1081263 ID: a7a180

I bet you could barter for a taxi ride for way less than 600 donuts.
>>
No. 1081264 ID: 8f9bc4

Pillet would not apologize for calling her out on such an affront to justice, but she might apologize for hogging the sink.
>>
No. 1081505 ID: 15a025

Take the busses and railways. It might be a bit more complicated to navigate the routes, but it'll give you more time and chances to observe and interact with others.
>>
No. 1081691 ID: ce93a7
File 170602993691.png - (78.37KB , 1200x1200 , 638.png )
1081691

I'll take the bus and rail system, as I could use the social practice and I don't think the taxi system accepts haggling. The route is clearly labeled, so I hop onto shuttle A-25 to get to the nearest bus stop, and take route P-99 until it drops me off at the train station. There's a couple others here, but one is talking and the other is napping, so I won't harass them with Pillet's unruly personality.

It's a clean shuttle at least, and I hope I can expect the rest of my trip to be so smooth.
>>
No. 1081692 ID: ce93a7
File 170602995223.png - (58.90KB , 1200x1200 , 639.png )
1081692

10:40 AM

Thankfully the Klivanian tradition of good signage continues. According to this display, there will be a bus here in about 5 minutes here to take me along a route called P-99.

I'll wait, and I notice how low energy everyone around me is. I hadn't noticed at all until I sense a strong spike in the building behind this bus stop. They are on about the 20th floor. Their power doesn't match the average soldier on our flagship, but it's enough to overshadow all of us low energy folks I can see down here. I am surprised there's such an uneven distribution curve.
>>
No. 1081693 ID: ce93a7
File 170602996112.png - (55.54KB , 1200x1200 , 640.png )
1081693

As I take a seat, I find a clue based on this box in the back of the enclosed bus stop.

It's crackling with energy rivalring that of the mystery person in the building. I can see that it is laden with traps to prevent those who would attempt to break into it and take its power. It's labelled as an... amnesty box?

Ah, it has further information. Klivanian law dictates that civilians are not to exceed a certain energy level, much like memory artificers. This is so that civilians can discard excess energy as to not run afoul from the law. I must presume that the energy is occasionally gathered and sent to the elite. The limit for a civilian is apparently an energy level of 200. I find out that my native power falls short of this legal amount at a healthy 160. I'm glad I have a buffer, as that food I ate might increase this by a few.
>>
No. 1081694 ID: ce93a7
File 170602998723.png - (53.90KB , 1200x1200 , 641.png )
1081694

With that oddity seen, I turn to speak with this other individual.

"Hello, m - there." Casual. Pillet doesn't call people 'miss' like that.
>"Ah, hello."
"I don't mean to pry, but you look a little down."
>"Oh, it's nothing."
"No one's down for nothing, do tell me about that, and your name! I'm Ellie."
>"And I am Nishyu. If you must know, my husband has passed."
"Oh!" Oh shoot what would Pillet say? She'd at least not be too coarse about it, right? Let's see... "Awful. Sorry to hear that, may he rest with you and may you both reunite when the time comes." No, still too formal, but Pillet would have some kind of wishes to give.
>"Ah, you didn't strike me as religious."
"Religious?"
>"Is there any belief in the afterlife without religion?"
"It's real, faith isn't required."
>"Mm, I don't know what your angle is, but I just don't have the energy these days, please."
"No angle, just killing time for the bus. In fact, I'd like to listen. If you have your husband on your mind, would you like to talk about him?"

She's oddly suspicious of me, but she opens up enough to miss one of her ears flopping over her shoulder. I learn much. The average Klivanian lifespan is a paltry century long, and so it is no small feat out that many of those decades were spent married to her husband, Goyl. It also seems like concepts like the afterlife has entered the realm of myth, and many people here believe that when they die, that is it, it is over.

Her husband lived a plain life, but Nishyu remembers their time too fondly for that to matter.

>"But that is enough of me. What of you?"
"Me? Oh, I'm new in town. I'm still getting the hang of busses, I've just got to get to my job."
>"Oh, where do you work?"
"At a..." Let me remember a job from one of the agent's memories.... ah. "A dry cleaner."
>"Hmm. There are so many of those around, you don't have to go far, do you? A young girl like you should keep those legs working. I sat around too much, and now I've got to take this old hunched back on the bus each day just to get to the store."
"You don't have family to help?"
>"An estranged son that joined the military. I do wish he'd reach out to let me make amends for my foolish statements, but that's a different story less fit for casual conversation. Do consider walking, young girl, if you'd take the advice of an old woman." Oh, I do feel oddly nice at being called young.
"Thanks, but I've got to report in too soon for walking. It's a decent 4 kilometers north, and I don't want to show up to my first day panting."
>"That far north? I certainly hope you're not travelling alone at night over there."
"Is it that bad over there?"
>"Oh, no, I don't mean to worry you. I just think our law enforcement does not do enough to prioritize the safety of the streets the further north you go."

I'm somewhat worried about this danger, but she speaks so plainly that it sounds like I, as a native, should be obviously aware of whatever dangers lurk in the streets up north. The mention of law enforcement seems odd for unspeakable dangers that crawl out of the shadows at night, but why would I have to worry about people breaking the law? Do they not practice safe driving? The possibilities are too many to ignore, so I contemplate how I will ask this woman about why I should be careful. In any case, Ellie is nothing more than a cover and I can't expect I will see this lady ever again, so perhaps I can act odd and ignorant again in front of her for the moment.

Before I think of how to frame my question, the schedule board gets my attention with a sharp ping, and I glance up to it.

Bus Route P-99 Cancelled

"Ah. My route is cancelled." That's a little concerning, but there's another bus coming in 10 minutes that serves an alternate route. It does appear that it will get me to my destination, but with only 20 minutes to spare.
>>
No. 1081696 ID: debc82

>>1081694

About how fast do you suppose yourself able to walk that 4km distance?

Considering the notice we received when we landed, having more than 20 minutes (in case of further unforeseen problems) might be advisable.
>>
No. 1081698 ID: 8f9bc4

Bus routes don't get cancelled without a very good reason. It's possible that there's something damaged, preventing the bus from travelling that route, which might mean that other bus routes that way might also be cancelled soon.

The law enforcement probably are allowed to maintain a higher energy level, so they must not only enforce the law, but also defend people who are disempowered, when they get attacked by said unspeakable dangers. A better title might be public defender. (Surely that won't lead to any confusion at all.)

Get angry at the schedule board, telling it loudly that you might have to leg it at this point. Then turn and ask the lady just how dangerous would that be? You've never been up north, so you don't know what to expect.
>>
No. 1081710 ID: df45e0

Lots of interesting info from that encounter. You would think that the afterlife being known would be bigger news. That being said this is a artificial planet around a old star so maybe they are just backwards enough to not have universal internet.

She is probably worried about hoodlums, rapists, thuggish individuals, roving packs of feral teenagers, serial killers and such. That or corrupt cops or gangs. When the lower class is restricted to such a low power level they are easy to abuse by anyone with a bit of authority and thus strength.

Hmm walk or bus that might not show up if the other one went down. I would walk it and just remember that Pillet is tough and not afraid to walk through bad parts of town.
>>
No. 1081826 ID: ce93a7
File 170620279904.png - (58.49KB , 1200x1200 , 642.png )
1081826

I could make that 4 kilometer run in maybe 5 to 10 minutes if I ran myself ragged and used my energy as well. I wonder if using energy is some kind of faux pas, I've seen virtually no one do it.

I stand and look at the board to make sure everything is as I now understand it. "It looks like I might have to run after all. I'm not afraid of bad parts of town, but what's so bad about it?"
>"Violent crime. Layabouts who don't want to earn an honest wage could try and mug you."
"Are there not laws against that?"

The second I say that, her face tells me I said something astonishingly naive. She walks up to me and fishes out some coins.

>"You're a kind girl. If you find yourself on the north side in the dark, please get yourself a reputable hotel and stay indoors."

I don't entirely understand, but I push the money back.

"No, I have money. I haven't even done anything kind!"
>"No one listens to an old woman's life story like you have."
"That's...." Depressing? Sad? She doesn't want my pity. "Unfortunate to hear."
>"Don't worry, you've lifted my spirits. My bus is coming soon. I hope to see you at this bus stop again, and most of all not see you on the news."
"Why would I be on the news?"
>"As a crime statistic, goodness, don't make me say it."

It can be difficult for souls to find their loved ones in the afterlife. The longer that time passes between each death, the more difficult it is. If Nishyu hangs on for too long due to Klivania's rampant ignorance, they may never reunite. Because of this, wishing an imminent yet peaceful death is a common sentiment of good will to ones in Nishya's situation.

I am thankful I have the presence of mind to not blurt this out at her, who lacks this context. This would ignore her wishes for reconciliation with her son, but I think I have spent long enough with Nishya.

"I think I'll just get up earlier next time and walk, so we may never see each other again. But I'll be fine, and hope you are too. Goodbye!" I get to running. I have never been late in my life, and I won't let a single setback like this ruin my perfect record. Pillet was also punctual, so I cannot use Pillet as an excuse!
>>
No. 1081827 ID: ce93a7
File 170620281106.png - (125.75KB , 1200x1200 , 643.png )
1081827

11:44 PM

Rail Route F-31 Delayed +10 minutes

Bus Route FN-B Delayed +40 minutes. Best Alternative Route: Bus Route LRP (cancelled) (

Taxi Service: Unavailable In This Area

Rail Car KO-39's last departure: 4 minutes ago. Next KO-39 service in: 21 hours and 8 minutes.

How does this society function?! Is that why the taxis are so expensive?! I don't know if Pillet's body can handle how much running I have to do!

Ah, this is a good sign. I'm getting riled up and fidgety, just like Pillet was. I will have to remember this moment well.

There are at least subterranean pedestrian tunnels with moving walkways that allow rapid movement, but they are spotty and do not always lead me in the right direction. Some of them also look rather shady, and in light of Nishya's worries, I steer clear of those.
>>
No. 1081828 ID: ce93a7
File 170620282478.png - (71.84KB , 1200x1200 , 644.png )
1081828

I find a useful bus to get on. It isn't much faster than me running, but I can't run the whole way. Somehow I'm still making okay time. Say what I will about Pillet, this girl could run! She might even go faster than the busses do. I thought the name bus stop was because people stopped to wait for them, but the busses themselves are designed to stop as well! It must be for people like Nishya who don't seem like they can move too quickly.

So many people here look tired and far too busy, like the mere act of travelling is a somber duty. I do not know what this society has done to make them act like this in such a situation. Perhaps I do not need to know; my business is with the constructors.

I decide not to speak with strangers now, and instead use this time to educate myself on the news, in regards to what Nishya was warning me about. Crime statistics, hm...

The population of this city is 4 million. 2,000 a year are killed by... other... citizens? Just, people?

There's other statistics like, mugging, assault, kidnapping... These numbers are even bigger than murder!

Forget questions about how this society functions. It is completely dysfunctional. I now understand why Nishya was so worried. While I think I am only now experiencing culture shock, the chances of me meeting an unfortunate fate in the next hour or two of travel is still low. Nishya seemed to indicate traveling alone made it worse, but moreso at night. I merely need to make it to the construction site, and I should hope that they are able to run a better civilization in which one does not have to worry about their own civilians murdering one another.

>"Attention passengers. This bus is being diverted to route E-12 after we stop at Sunspot Road. If you have to go past Sunspot Road, get off the bus and wait for the next one. One will show up in..... one will show up."

For goodness' sake.
>>
No. 1081830 ID: ce93a7
File 170620285394.png - (93.50KB , 1200x1200 , 645.png )
1081830

1:32 PM

I have to run the rest of the way! After reading the news, morbid thoughts have been left rattling inside of my head. The surroundings are doing little to help, what with these buildings and streets in various states of disrepair. Whoever is responsible should be ashamed, but I feel this is another naive thought that old, sheltered Aelsaw would think up.

The people here do pay more attention to me than I'd like as well. Unlike the south, there's many people here who just do not seem like they have places to be. I get called out to by people who clearly want to interact with me, but I do not think they just want to have smalltalk. A few outright solicit me for company and try to follow me.

I'd rather not have to find out how martially capable the local Klivanian riffraff are. I am highly trained in combat precisely because of my low energy levels. It is a last resort. I am unarmed, being outnumbered is always an issue, and I swear I sense a lot more people around here who are brushing at or past the legal energy limit.

I remain pleased at Pillet's natural mobility. By using bursts of energy and pacing myself, I am able to outrun anyone who seems like they might otherwise try to chase me.
>>
No. 1081831 ID: ce93a7
File 170620286141.png - (127.63KB , 1200x1200 , 646.png )
1081831

There, made it! 1:59 PM! I slow down to avoid any eyes and make my way into the abandoned trolley station, then rest. I don't see Hart yet.

I would not have let my guard around those donuts if I knew what was coming. They have attained incredible taste at the price of feeling unsuitable for digestion.

>"An urban ruins explorer?" I didn't sense that man behind me at all, but it must be Hart. That phrase is precisely the first part of the verbal handshake.
I'm still catching my breath, but I can give the reply. "It's nice to revisit, I... had a childhood here."

Oh, I feel faint. Pillet's biotype apparently does not have internal safeguards against overspending one's own energy. This may be a more dangerous vessel to operate than I'm used to. I do not want to faint here, but...
>>
No. 1081832 ID: ce93a7
File 170620287508.png - (74.09KB , 1200x1200 , 647.png )
1081832

Ah, I'm fine. I just needed a moment. Hart moves to a hole in the wall and looks around outside, then comes back and turns something on. A portable scanner, I think.

>"Are you hiding your energy levels?"
"No."
>"Good. Although your destination is outside of normal jurisdiction, we also enforce an energy limit of 200." He looks at my bag. "You also must leave behind all your material possessions. I can take them if you wish."
"All of them?"

He thinks for a moment, like I just jumped off the script he sounded like he was reading.

>"Yes, all of them. I've never brought a passenger back into town. If you think you're an exception, you can hide your belongings anywhere in this station for your return, but if you leave, I will also leave. Once you finish putting everything away, I will scan you with this wand, hand you your new clothes, and when you are ready to leave, hook you up to a drug dispenser."

New clothes? He must have been speaking precisely when he said 'all of my material possessions'.

"Can you elaborate on that last part? About the drugs?"
>"You must be at least vaguely aware of the sensitive nature of your destination. The drugs are one of many measures we take to prevent our keener passengers from being able to tell where they are going and where they end up. The exact effects vary depending on the scan results, but it is safe. I have never seen or heard of anyone having complications lasting longer than a day."
>>
No. 1081833 ID: e139aa

Well, so far so good. Might as well do what he says.
>>
No. 1081835 ID: debc82

>>1081832

Nothing serious, hopefully, as we've business to conduct once inside.

It would seem that this process is to handle navigation through the proto-fog, as I shall refer to it, before the town was fully sealed. That, or more likely, it's as simple as preventing someone from realizing WHERE it will be.

Also, we have to ask: are the busses ALWAYS this unreliable?
>>
No. 1081836 ID: df45e0

Sounds standard for this sort of cloak and dagger. Agree with him and don't worry about leaving your stuff for later. You just have some clothes some snacks and some cash right? If we need to leave or the mission goes oddly they are not something we should be worrying about much.

Vaguely wish we could leave the cash to Nishyu instead of just letting it rot though. Small kindnesses and all.
>>
No. 1081838 ID: 273c18

>>1081832
Sheesh, that's a bit extreme. Oh well.
Drop all your stuff. Refuse to strip naked.

Oh, don't waste the donuts. Eat them now.
>>
No. 1081842 ID: 8f9bc4

Nekkid time!

It's no big deal. He has cult robes or whatever they wear, so you'll blend in even more. The drug is... disturbing, but not unexpected. There are more efficient ways to dispose of you if they know you're a fake, so this is probably just some sort of narcotic agent and they don't suspect you. Or at least they don't suspect you enough to turn down a memory artificer.
>>
No. 1081984 ID: 15a025

Offer to share your donuts with him. While you could use the energy to build yourself back up, I don't think eating them all yourself is going to be a good idea. Especially if they're going to knock you out for a bit.
Also see if he or someone else can transfer your money, or at least some of it over to Nishyu. If they ask why, just say she helped get you here on time.
>>
No. 1084836 ID: ce93a7
File 170917141753.png - (64.49KB , 1200x1200 , 648.png )
1084836

"I have a couple of donuts in here, would you like one?"
>"No."
"Then I'll finish them. By the way, are the busses in this world always so unreliable?"
>"The ones you took, yes. They'll be more reliable at your destination."
"I see."

He's not one for conversation, so I surrender my bag. I'm concerned about the list of odd contacts I have on my phone, but it should be expected that Pillet would have odd acquaintances. I left my instant transmission radio on my ship, at least.

I think if I refuse to strip, I'll simply be left here. I'm more concerned about the drugs, so I get ready while he calls forward a very old fashioned trolley car. It rolls up as he scans me.

While Hart is coarse around the edges, he seems professional enough to calm some of my nerves.
>>
No. 1084837 ID: ce93a7
File 170917142503.png - (52.30KB , 1200x1200 , 649.png )
1084837

After I put on what feels like cultist's robes, I'm given a one size fits all glove. Hart connects to a bulky cuff that firmly locks around my wrist. It comes with a small display that's faced outwards so that Hart can read it rightside up.

>"This should go without saying, but tampering with this dispenser will be considered a hostile act. I'll lock the controls to prevent you from accidentally pressing buttons."
"Okay."

I'm brought on board, and the dispenser is hooked up to some computer in the driver's area, where Hart stands.

>"Hart here. 2:17 PM. Departing station AP-5."
>>
No. 1084838 ID: ce93a7
File 170917144540.png - (65.85KB , 1200x1200 , 650.png )
1084838

The dispenser and perhaps the scanner are reasonably high tech by Klivanian standards, but it is still the most crude method of information withholding I've ever experienced. Whenever I'm transferred to a discreet location, we have people to simply put me in stasis, knock me out, have sensory deprivation chambers with momentum cancellers...

These drugs don't knock me out, but it does get hard to think. The trolley is moving quickly and shakes along its track like it's trying to get as high as me. I start seeing things in the corners of my vision. The trolley starts feeling smooth. Overall, I do not appreciate having drugs in my system and could do without, but it is at least not physically or mentally unpleasant in the moment.

I think Hart snapped his fingers in front of me. I didn't reply. It was about 15 minutes ago and I just thought of it now. Yes, crude and barbaric as this method is, they are doing their job. I simply have no sense of where we are. I think I will take a nap.
>>
No. 1084839 ID: ce93a7
File 170917146736.png - (65.58KB , 1200x1200 , 651.png )
1084839

>>
No. 1084840 ID: ce93a7
File 170917148170.png - (360.95KB , 1200x1200 , 652.png )
1084840

Present Day

Ow. The memory got scrambled for a moment, there.

This memory was more engrossing than I thought. I'm not eating my words about it being safe, but it's way more engrossing than I thought. This memory felt more real than anything I've felt in here. It's more vivid and... consistent, for lack of a better word. We can see color in here, but it's like it's faked.

This subdimension might have more wrong with it than stagnation and unconditioned immortality.

I already have a lot to report, but I've only read part of the memory. There's a bit more in the first part, but a lot of it is made of segmented memories. Either Aelsaw's memories were messed with around here, or I screwed up extracting this part of the memory when I was on the wheel.

I lean back and stretch. The second my chair creaks, I hear a shuffling from behind me.

Delli nearly started eating my chocolate.
>>
No. 1084841 ID: 065ad8

That's not great, just the realistic possibility of one part being messed with casts doubts on the whole thing. You need a break, anyway. And chocolate.
>>
No. 1084842 ID: 99f29a

EAT IT FIRST
>>
No. 1084844 ID: df45e0

Well what do you think to the idea you might be your sister or not or whatever? Not like it really matters much being ancient history.

The memory seems solid enough but... I dunno a lot of things seem suspect. The government went to some pretty crazy length's to keep their elite power users in line. The level of memory editing they had you? do to yourself implies they could have been abusing you for eons without you realizing it. And the fact they would send one of their elite memory users (wife of a high muckity muck no less) on a dangerous possibly forever mission to check out this one random pocket dimension seems to imply that this place or the founders making it or something here was important enough to risk it.

Plus all that talk of the afterlife that Pillet was certain about but others were not? That seems suspicious. Wondering if Pillet was actually caught and executed or if her sister was sent in for other reasons or if any of what the government talked to her about was true?

The whole mission seem sloppy so remember the past you might have been getting lied to.
>>
No. 1084845 ID: d0cff5

Yeah, you need a break, and chocolate! Take your chocolate back from Delli. And also his clothes, in retaliation. Also because it's funny, and double also because you were just naked in your memories so it's the first thing that comes to mind.

TAKE THE CHOCOLATE.
>>
No. 1084847 ID: eb0a9c

Stick the chocolate between your boobs.
>>
No. 1084855 ID: 273c18

>>1084840
Alright, give him a summary of what you've found out so far, and reassure him that you're still the same person he's known since he wiped his memories, you haven't been faking it. Maybe there was some point in time when you knew him where you were faking it, but not now.
You might be married, or maybe you've been declared legally dead and your husband nullified the marriage. Either way it's not like you really know your husband... and... hmm, you might have backups of more memories outside. This is actually a more difficult situation than it appears. If you escaped, you'd get your non-Pillet memories back, and... wouldn't that mean you'd behave more like you did before? Wouldn't you go back to your husband?

Do you think your husband would be amenable to sharing you with Delli?
>>
No. 1084861 ID: 8f9bc4

Noooo the chocolate!

Anyway, the last thing you noticed was strange. Right before the memory glitched out, you suddenly weren't wearing the glove that was supposed to be drugging you. That seems... edited.

I'm not sure what Aumstail thought this memory was going to do to you. Make you want to leave more than ever? If for no other reason than something that (possibly you) someone did that fucked up this world so even the colors were messed up. Whatever they intended to achieve here, all they created was a miserable eternal prison. Your empire was pretty overbearing, but trapping everyone in this puzzle box isn't doing anything but helping the empire who its creators feared.
>>
No. 1084862 ID: 273c18

Oh right, and I think you can say for sure you know why Delli did a chain-suicide and basically erased his own memories. He was devastated that he fell in love with a spy, someone whose very identity, everything he knew about her, was a lie. He had to forget.
But that's not the case anymore. Maybe the real Pillet is dead, but you haven't been faking it with him since he erased his memories. Whoever you are, it's the real deal now.
>>
No. 1084886 ID: fa3034

He better share. Ask for a sittep. This memory is going to take some time to chew through.
>>
No. 1084888 ID: a7a180

My memories have told me it is very important that I must eat that chocolate. Don't question the memories Delli.
>>
No. 1084889 ID: b3eab7

To me, the most problematic thing about this memory is, there likely is a big space empire waiting just outside our pocket dimension to kill at best its founders, at worst everyone. That makes leaving the town a significantly less safe idea than we thought it was.
>>
No. 1084891 ID: 253138

What I don't get about the totally personally inexperienced Aelsaw being sent on a risky secret agent mission to bring Paporron to justice that could easily, and seemingly did, go wrong, is why they even chose to do it this way.

If the goal ultimately was to kill Paporron and secondarily his comrades, then if the risk of their existence outweighs the cost of collateral damage, there's plenty of ways they coulda destroyed everything in the star-system before anyone could react to it. I'm sure a seemingly ultra-tech civilization such as theirs has a few star-system obliterating weapons up their sleeves they coulda used one of here. One magnetic containment vessel holding a basketball sized sphere of antimatter opened up on the surface of Klivania would, at the speed of light, have reduced it and the rest of the star-system to a rapidly expanding cloud of high energy particles, for sure removing Paporron and all his collaborators in one move. And even if he or they were in the incomplete subdimension at the time, they'd be stuck there 'cause the way out is now in the void of space and there's for sure gonna be a empire fleet left behind in perpetuity to blow away anything that pops back out. No, they didn't do it this way 'cause they wanted more than just his death.

Best bet I can think of for them going this route is that they very, very badly wanted Paporron's memories; The memories of everyone he collaborated with, how he did it under the nose of the Phenocosm, and how he was building this subdimension. And they wanted it so badly they were willing to send Aelsaw on this mission and take the big risk of it going sideways, Paporron figuring out what's up, capturing her and holding out for as long as possible to finish what they can of the subdimension before the Phenocosm's forces figure that Aelsaw is MIA and move in. Or, if he figures they're gonna wipe the star-system to get him if Aelsaw misses a check-in, just escape into the incomplete subdimension immediately.

I just don't get why they seemingly didn't consider the possibility of the worst case scenario weighed against what they could gain from this mission: Aelsaw being turned by Paporron and helping him complete the subdimension. Were the odds of that so long it fell below level of consideration? Because that sounds like such a catastrophic failure that it'd have to be considered and contingencies formulated for it.

And what's the reason the Phenocosm is so intent on stopping Paporron, and anyone else, from creating a subdimension, with customized physics or not? If it was just a group of folk that just wanted to get away from the Phenocosm for the rest of eternity and have nothing to do with this universe any more, then that doesn't sound like a risk to the Phenocosm. Now, if it was a group that made a subdimension specifically to crank their power level up to the bazillions such they could pop back in to this universe and turn the Phenocosm to atoms with a flick of their pinkie finger, then the Phenocosm would have a big reason to fear that. But, if that was the case, then why doesn't the Phenocosm do the same thing to counter the possibility and cement their rule for the rest of time? So, if they don't do that, then perhaps there's a inherent risk to the universe from creating subdimensions? Hm, we don't know enough to say at this time.

>>1084847
If anything, that'd make Delli want to get the chocolate more... So definitely do that! I'm all for goat guy sticking his face down Pillet's cleavage to eat that chocolate. Or, if that's too far, just his hand.

>>1084861
>Right before the memory glitched out, you suddenly weren't wearing the glove that was supposed to be drugging you. That seems... edited.
The hose/cable attached to the glove is still present, so it's either a really sloppy memory edit or a art error.
>>
No. 1084893 ID: 8f9bc4

>>1084891

Hah, so maybe when past-Delli went ballistic and destroyed the vault of memories the elite members had hidden off in the fog, that actually made them completely safe from the Empire, since the memories the Empire coveted had been destroyed. But they'd never know it, since they lost those memories, too!

> The hose/cable attached to the glove is still present, so it's either a really sloppy memory edit or a art error.

Or Aelslaw was holding the tube in her other hand, and actively changing the memories of the mook driving her there, so he wouldn't notice the slight of hand. Which is something she "can't" do. That she totally can do now.
>>
No. 1084894 ID: 56db77

>>1084840
Side note away from all the relationship drama this memory has raised, if we're in this pocket dimension thingy does time pass in here at the same rate as out there? The answer to that may make breaking out a lot easier or aoy harder
>>
No. 1084915 ID: debc82

>>1084840

Time for some cooperative chocolate devouring while you engross your cute scamp of a boyfriend with cool tales of Future-Past-Pillet and how ridiculously chill (and nerdy) you were.

Also chocolate. Give it here.
>>
No. 1084997 ID: df45e0

>>1084893

You know the idea that Aelslaw might be acting things up for this memory is a possibility. The cute little harmless memory tech wandering around society not knowing about donuts could just be to make the story told by the memory more palatable. When secretly she is a scheming master manipulator angry at the empire for daring to touch her sister.

The memory tells us that the empire kept memory editors under lock and key but what if that is just what Aelslaw/Pillet wanted people to think?

A few clever ways to hide your own memories of doing it and a sneaky memory editor could be stealing every bit of high command data and making everyone think that the security measures in place were more than protection enough.

All it would have taken is a few early memory masters realizing the danger they were in back in the early days. Make your own flawed containment measures back in the day and made people think they were perfect and that high command had designed them.
>>
No. 1085172 ID: 15a025

Get the chocolate from Deli, you need it more than he does after all.
>>
No. 1085511 ID: ce93a7
File 170967610886.png - (296.23KB , 1200x1200 , 653.png )
1085511

"Turns out I'm a fake Pillet!"
>"Wow what."
"I might be impersonating the old, pre-town Pillet."
>"So uhh do I keep calling you Pillet?"
"I've been Pillet for a hell of a lot longer than your shifting, chocolate stealing ass has, so you'd better not think of me any differently!"
>"That's rude, I can't steal my own chocolate."

I tackle him.
>>
No. 1085512 ID: ce93a7
File 170967613199.png - (255.06KB , 1200x1200 , 654.png )
1085512

Delli's tiny hands can't hold onto the chocolate, so I snap most of it out of his grasp.

"Oh yeah try eating chocolate when your mouth is occupied!"

His energy surges, that cheating goat, and forces a kiss. I hide the chocolate in my top.
>>
No. 1085513 ID: ce93a7
File 170967614525.png - (235.32KB , 1200x1200 , 655.png )
1085513

...
>>
No. 1085514 ID: ce93a7
File 170967615816.png - (301.56KB , 1200x1200 , 656.png )
1085514

"Don't gnaw through my tanktop you dumbass!"
>"Ngahhhh!"
>>
No. 1085515 ID: ce93a7
File 170967617521.png - (367.52KB , 1200x1200 , 657.png )
1085515

Somehow we both share the chocolate and settle down.

"Did anything happen out here while I was reading this memory?"
>"Nope. So you were a spy after all?"
"I guess. I'm not done, but..."

I go on to share with him what I know.

>"Seems pretty clumsy of the phenocosm to send in old past you like that."
"Yeah, I'm thinking the same thing. You can't get a space empire going without bureacracy making things stupid, but I don't think the phenocosm would've hesitated to blow up the planet if that would've solved the subdimension issue. They were after more than just Paporron, after all. I'm holding my thoughts on that, 'cause while Aelsaw's mission sure seems clunky as hell, I get the impression that the memory's going to address that."

I leave out the chocolate donut, for now. The chocolate I just had was more fun with Delli, but taste wise... it's weak compared to the chocolate donut that Aelsaw had. It's all the more reason to escape. Delli and all the rest are going to have their minds blown when they see what real space is like.

.... Maybe their bodies blown up, too.

"More pressingly, there's probably a giant empire out waiting for us to reveal ourselves."
>"Yeah there's that. I dunno, I think if we revealed that, we'd actually have more votes to try it anyway."
"Why? It's not like the people who want to die for real can't just blow themselves up already."
>"I dunno, when I was on my suicide chain, I think I would've been pretty motivated at the idea of going out one last time in a blaze of glory rather than just blow myself up one last time."
"That's cause deep down, you're a weird combat goat! I doubt everyone feels that way."
>"I dunno, the town's always looked to violence to solve all its problems, hasn't it?"
"Mmm. Well, whatever, we can do some polling later. I'm just glad you're not upset I'm a spy after all."
>"Dunno why I would be, if it's true you lost your memories. I mean maybe you haven't and this has been the longest ruse you've ever done."
"Nah." That said I've kept secrets from him and everyone for a long time, so I've been paying the cost of trust since.

I think he might've been more upset about me being a spy in some transient lives of his long in the past, but his recent stretch of remaining in the fog was sparked by something much more mundane and only several years ago.

"Alright, I'm going back in before we speculate forever on things that the memory will cover."

On closer look, not just are there some fragmented chunks of memories coming up, but part 2 blends into part 1 rather than a clean divide... whatever, I'm taking a look anyway.
>>
No. 1085517 ID: ce93a7
File 170967623822.png - (82.08KB , 1200x1200 , 658.png )
1085517

>"It's really you! I've waited so long... wait... your soul is... different?" This is Paporron. He's not at all like the other soul seers I've seen. "You seem kinder."
"Hey now. What's that supposed to mean?"
>"Er, no - sorry! I'm supposed to be skeptical, but I'll have your back like you had mine so many times."
"... I'm sorry. I had to shed a lot of memories."
>"What? What are you talking about? You forgot our time together? Why?"
"The loyal soul seers were honing in on my soul. I had to split my own memories and throw them to the nebulas to hide my trail. I'm sorry, Paporron." I shake my head. I'm outright making things up. I have no idea if they could do such a thing. "The important memories were the most important ones to shed. But obviously I remembered how to catch your message."

I can tell he's buying it. Somehow, he's as naive as me.

>"I understand, and of course you would! You came here, so you remembered enough. You knew I'd keep looking for a subdimension, just like you. A safe one. It must be done correctly, and that's why your artificing must be involved! It'll be far too dangerous without you. After a
>>
No. 1085518 ID: ce93a7
File 170967625878.png - (537.51KB , 1200x1200 , 659.png )
1085518

It's all far more high tech than what I've seen above ground, though I have not yet gotten far from the terminal. That fog-like sphere must be it. We are far from the outer cities and buildings here, and civilians are out of sight. The entire place is paved over, and the lack of a single body aside from us gives it an eerie atmosphere, like a classic nightmare of everyone but oneself disappearing off the face of the planet.

Even if there were many workers around, I simply don't need to wonder why these important figures have come without protection. Their own power greatly exceeds everyone I could sense on Klivania's surface, combined. It is still not a concern for the phenocosm.

The drugs have yet to wear off, but I notice the sky is fake.

>"You may call me Shelshin. But first." He turns to face Paporron. "I want you to think very carefully about this. Don't just say she's Pillet because of what it would mean if she's not."
>"I believe it's her. It's really Pillet. Please come to trust her, I'm sure she'll do great work. Let's please introduce each other properly! Pillet, this is Shelshin, our space warper, and this is Aumstail, our energy blocker. You two, this is Pillet - "
>"A legendary rogue who did not even show up sober."
>"Sir. I had orders to prevent her mental faculties sensing our location." Hart explains.
>"I should have known." The displeasure on Shelshin's face is clear. "You'll take any excuse to experiment with your drugs, won't you?" He faces the shorter one.
>"Do you honestly think a blindfold and hood would stop an artifi
>>
No. 1085519 ID: ce93a7
File 170967626748.png - (99.15KB , 1200x1200 , 660.png )
1085519

uring us.

>"It'll burst." The shorter one, Aumstail, explains. "My skill will deny the universe the energy to do so. And now, I hope to see if you live up to how well Paporron has spoken of you."
"That good, huh?"
>"You do carry yourself with discipline, so it's a good first impression. Paporron insisted on bringing you on a long time ago, but there was no safe way to contact you or even know for sure if you were alive. We decided to pursue our project without you, even if it meant not having a memory artificer at all."
"Did he contact me unsafely?"
>"A decade ago he sounded unsure it would be safe, so we denied it. Since then he has thought it over and made safeguards against interception, and convinced us it was safe enough. He acted rather uppity about the idea of continuing without you or any artificer. And now you showed up. Let's hope it was as safe as he claims. In any case, it is safer in there than out here, so let's head inside. Safe or not, you are here, and with you our dreams may ju
>>
No. 1085520 ID: ce93a7
File 170967628677.png - (401.33KB , 1200x1200 , 661.png )
1085520

s Fisheye.

>"It's known as the Corporeality Condenser! It is my magnum opus, a fantastic bit of machinery that blends physics with restricted skills like yours! Not this thing right here, mind you, this is just a console. The real thing does not entirely occupy euclidean space, as it's not a machine in the conventional sense. It's more like the collection of changes to the laws of physics and other elements. By linking a soul to it, a few things can be done. For instance, it allows Aumstail to form a bubble around the subdimension simply by having her soul nearby without requiring her constant attention. Also, if you die, your soul is drawn in here instead of wherever you'd normally go. You remain dead for one month, not because it takes that long to reincarnate you in your own image, but because the restlessness of a soul generates the power needed for certain functions. A month long gap ensures enough souls in the fog without needing to keep too many people dead at once."
"People have to remain dead for it to work?"
>"Yes. Don't worry, some individuals actually like the experience, but for others, dying's simpl
>>
No. 1085521 ID: ce93a7
File 170967629810.png - (695.14KB , 1200x1200 , 662.png )
1085521

name seems foreign to you. They certainly don't tell you too much, do they?"

I wanted to make conversation with some of the workers, but they all feel so uncomfortable. I wonder if founders only talk to everyday workers when something's gone wrong. My 'bodyguards,' who I feel like are some kind of secretive security force pushed into a bodyguard role for the first time, are certainly not helping by giving everyone nasty looks everytime they glance at me.

>"Sorry, ma'am, I don't know much of anything. Even the name of the project's hidden to us."
"It must be hard to talk about."
>"We don't do much talking, our noses belong to the grindstone. When we do, we've just taken to calling the murky stuff fog, the subdimension as haze town, and the construction area as the canyon. It's a small world here, not much confusion happens by giving simple names."
"What about the top side?"
>"Top side? Ma'am, we know we're underground, but the surface may as well be a different planet. Most of us were born out over in that building there, it's a big hospital."
"Oh, are there no children born in the subdimension?"
>"Only just entering the test phase, I think. The founders, bless 'em, want to make sure it's safe for the new generation to grow up entirely inside without any weird effects. That'll happen in my lifetime, at least. I think it'll be fine. The inside gives us plenty of places to explore. New areas are generated every month. By the time I'm old, I believe it'll be a real paradise that'll feel just as tangible as out here. Until then, this outside area's just our worksite, and this monitoring station is my second home."
"Wow." The workers down here remind me of phenocosm work traits. I have not yet met half the founders; it seems like there are two different groups of founders. The subdimensional constructors that include me and those I've met, and the more mundane political leadership and general city architects and engineers. There's an excepti
>>
No. 1085522 ID: ce93a7
File 170967631089.png - (352.18KB , 1200x1200 , 663.png )
1085522

e scoots a little closer to where I stand. He is an affectionate sort.

>"The older you would have gotten into a big argument already about the community president's manipulation and micromanagement of everyone's lives! Which I admired about you, but now I'm just relieved you've been getting along so well with everyone."
"Maybe I'll bring that up later, but it's more important that the subdimension is completed correctly.
>"You got that right! So how are you going to spend your night off?"
"Let's order some pizza. Or is that too much of a weird, new-Pillet thing to do?
>"Heheh, no, that's an old Pillet thing too. She'd eat too much, then spend the whole night and a lot of the next day doing too much aerobic excercise to burn it all off."
"New Pillet is too mellow for that last part."
>"Haha. I want to catch up and get to know the new you. Can I spend the night?"
"Sure, I
>>
No. 1085523 ID: ce93a7
File 170967636202.png - (134.28KB , 1200x1200 , 664.png )
1085523

Someone left a written note.

It's blank.
>>
No. 1085524 ID: ce93a7
File 170967638358.png - (654.50KB , 1200x1200 , 665.png )
1085524

im.

"Hart? It's been awhile."
>"Yes. Contrary to my doubts, it seems like you'll be going back to the surface after all. More will explained, but part of the process of returning to the surface will invol
>>
No. 1085525 ID: ce93a7
File 170967643927.png - (122.60KB , 1200x1200 , 666.png )
1085525

I'm in a moving room with black walls. Once again I am drugged, though the concoction is different. A truth serum, blend Arvens-Katsch or similar, judging by the sensation that's quickly wearing off. It's a blend I am resistant to.

Hart places a small memory canister into a pneumatic tube and sends it off.

>"Are you feeling alright, Pillet?"
"I am. What's going on, Hart? Did I fall unconscious?" I can gather what happened, but I must act ignorant. "Oh, that's a memory capsule, am I...?"
>"You have been here for several weeks. The founders are pleased with your work thus far, but you will be returning to the surface for a time, contrary to my previous doubts. To make sure that the knowledge of what happens here stays here, you've excised your memories."
"I... suppose. Please bear with me, this is disorienting, even while sobering up. I feel that I just got here."
>"That is intended. You will receive your memories of this place again when you return. For now, you are to serve Spokesperson Varther for a small period of time."
"Alright."
>"Now, get ready for a scan."
>>
No. 1085526 ID: ce93a7
File 170967645885.png - (66.84KB , 1200x1200 , 667.png )
1085526

I am changed into a new set of more casual clothes, and the drug machine begins pumping me full of the very first mix. Just as this is a crude method of keeping my mind muddy, their methods of making sure I excised my own memories must have been crude.

Crude, but nevertheless largely effective. I could only preserve a handful of moments, and I just hope that this was truly the best I could have done. I know I received more crucial information; a couple of my intact memories almost touched on what felt like critical information. But knowing me, I erred on the side of caution. It would have been disasterous if they learned I was attempting to smuggle my memories to the surface. The more impactful the memory, the more likely I would have been caught.

The drugs soon take hold, and the world spins around me once more as I'm brought to... wait, the trolley has stopped. Hart is on the phone, and though the walls block most noise, I can tell the founders and a few others - maybe also founders I don't remember - are arguing loud enough to get through the walls.

This lasts for several minutes.

The call ends, and Hart speaks to me over the trolley's PA from all of 10 feet away.

>"There has been a change of plans. Your trip to the surface has been delayed for one month."

The trolley jolts into motion again, this time going back the way we came.
>>
No. 1085530 ID: 273c18

Some of these memories lost color... I'm guessing those are when you're inside the partially-built subdimension?

>>1085523
>written note
>blank
Contradiction! CONTRADICTION! That is a self-contradictory memory! Did the note wipe your memory of you reading it? Did you, after reading it, extract that memory and erase the note to hide its contents from yourself? Did you block the contents of the note upon realizing it was too important to preserve? Or did someone else somehow tamper with the memory?

(ah, these memories are fragmented because they're memories of memories that Pillet managed to preserve.)

>>1085526
Ask why? This seems weird, did something happen on the surface?
This is a dangerous situation for you. You might accidentally reveal you kept those memory fragments, so watch what you say.
>>
No. 1085533 ID: eb0a9c

"One month. Ha. I get it. Gotta test that somehow.
Come on, SHOOT ME IN THE FACE! IN THE FAAA-"
>>
No. 1085538 ID: a7a180

Hm, the fog machine is powered by ghosts. If a lot more people than expected are currently staying dead, I wonder where the spare power goes. Domain expansion? Into people like Delli?
>>
No. 1085546 ID: 395885

oh boy, fragmented, broken memories
The soul seer did not catch you? that is very, VERY strange, maybe you really are the real Pillet and you were caught and turned into your own sister
>>
No. 1085549 ID: 8f9bc4

Does that mean... the only way to destroy this place is to make sure everyone is alive and no one kills anyone ever, until the battery runs out? It would be like herding cats!

Interestingly, you don't remember the name of the one who created it, even though you remember Shelshin and Aumstail. Was his name too dangerous?

The Empire was right. Papporon was fucking thirsty for Pillet. He saw through you at a glance, but kept up the deception out of desperation to have his friend back with him again.

Anyway are you done with the memory? You might have remembered Delli, if that's the same goat man. Tell him he worked on a monitoring station and was born in a secret hospital deep underground. Just because it's cool, and real.

I suppose... that last memory was when they figured out you weren't really your sister? You hadn't even reached the surface though. If you went back down for a month, then when did they catch you betraying them to the Empire?
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No. 1085551 ID: 273c18

>>1085546
More like the soul seer didn't *want* to believe Pillet was an impostor, so they didn't.
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No. 1085574 ID: 56db77

>>1085520
Seems like if we want this place to collapse we simply need to prevent anyone from dying for a full month
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No. 1085576 ID: df45e0

Hmm this might be the event that gets everything locked up and the start of everyone being trapped inside and paranoid at each other.

Maybe they found some evidence of Pillet betrayal?

Or maybe they are getting news of some dangerous event that will delay leaving. Government actions outside etc.

Hart being nervous regardless is expected. Him not coming over to talk to you could be a sign of general worry or "Woops don't get to close to the possible double agent who might realize she is exposed and lash out and try to escape."

Any chance that last scan popped something suspicious? Either way the next months memories could start getting trickier.

The memories you got out have lots of clues but the big stuff to ponder thus far:

1. Corporeality Condenser. Is a big clue to know what the console looks like and that the rest of the machine is off somewhere else in conceptual space. The question to ask is about its feature "blends physics with restricted skills like yours" Is that usual in sub dimensions? Why would they want to blend memory manipulation into the fabric of Haze town? To allow them to manipulate residents memories without you around perhaps? And if it can take other powers like soul seer and energy dampeners? Getting the feeling that the higher ups in this project just want there own personal playground.

2. Sharp divide between the founders and the workers. Explains how everything fell apart so hard if the golden elite tried to play god and force that on the plebs.

3. Paporron for sure seemed to realize something was up. The question is was he naive or plotting? Either he was in love with Pillet hard and in denial or he was willing to overlook things to complete his goal. Do we know if he still exists? Or was he part of Delli's purge and is now someone totally new?

4. Founders have factions and Paporron is not totally in charge perhaps. Did you get anything solid from there loud conversation that could get through the wall?

5. Maybe meeting a Delli past version? Can people change race/shape/body over time due to deaths or haze? Would Delli always have been a goat or could he have been someone else long long ago? Same question for Paporron.

6. Might be a good idea to remember all the faces from this memory and see if they stay roughly the same and track down the old memory blanked out founders. Might be able to look through there heads and track down scraps?

7. Anything odd about the blank note memory? Like what if the note is blank but you kept memory because the note was not the important part of it? Where were you standing with note and was anything on back or around you or on you etc?
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No. 1085581 ID: debc82

>>1085526

Can we maybe skip the drugs this time? It's bad enough feeling hung-over one-way, but having to go under again is kind of a lot, coming off of the whole ... memory-thing.

Also, did they say why? Is something going on?
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No. 1085615 ID: ce93a7
File 170976917414.png - (82.25KB , 1200x1200 , 668.png )
1085615

[ I slow down and think about the memory for a second. That was disorienting, but the memories were alternating between her in the subdimension and her in real space for a moment.

I guess I technically never needed the keys! I just had to get everyone to stop killing each other and dying. In this town, where so many want to remain dead and the rest treat death as an inconvenience. Easy.

I replay the memory of the founders speaking through Hart's intercom, but I didn't catch much. Aelsaw's too drugged up, but I think they were just in an argument about what to do about her. Likewise, there's not much to gather about Aelsaw's memory of that blank written note. Too many possibilities of what it could be.

I'll try and deduce more answers after receiving all the information the memory offers. It's not done yet. Might make fun of Delli being on a monitor station, but I'd have to pretend that was him. It probably wasn't. Goat types aren't that rare. Heck, Aelsaw ran into one called Buks in line for donuts.

Wonder if I'll know what happened to Paporron. He's definitely as good as dead now, I know that much. Time to see if I can't find that out too, so back to the memory. ]

"That's... odd." I click my tongue, speaking feels weird. "Did something happen on the surface?"
>"No. This is an internal decision."
"A month, huh..." My mind catches up. "Can we leave the drugs out of this? Just shoot me in the face?"
>"No, that leaves a mess."

He moves to my drug dispenser and begins inputting code. ... Ah. Is there some kind of euthanasia in there? Of course there is, there's plenty of mixtures in there to create such a cocktail, one way or the other.

I feel my body feel funny. I see what they're doing. I can remember that I was told by that machine creator that I would reincarnate based on my soul's self image.

It only occurs to me as I am fading away that the only way to return as Pillet is to shape my self image to be that of her. However, the scraps of her memories I received are a speck of plankton in the sea of my, Aelsaw's, own memories. I would have to destroy so much of that ocean to convince myself that I am only that plankton. I would forget so much of Shuzenza and what made me, me.

I would destroy myself if it would save the mission, but I cannot. My condition is bad. They will see me for who I am, and...

"Hart, I feel myself fading. Is this really it? These are my last moments...?"
>"The subdimension will bring you back in a month."
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No. 1085616 ID: ce93a7
File 170976918487.png - (33.33KB , 1200x1200 , 669.png )
1085616

.... The drugs deny my first death to be coherently thoughtful, so I will die silently and thoughtlessly. I cannot remember why, but I know they cannot tell where I will reincarnate. I will have at least a few minutes... before...

I am thinking a lot during my first death, aren't
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No. 1085617 ID: ce93a7
File 170976919063.png