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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 )

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 )

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

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

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 )

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 )

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 )

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 )

>"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 )

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

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

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…
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 )

"Better weapons..."
"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."

... 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 )

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 )

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 )

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."

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 )

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 )

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

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

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 )

"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?"
>"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 )

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 )

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 )

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 )

"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

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

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 )

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 )

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.

"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

cool, murder time
No. 1010739 ID: c92a02

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

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

«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.»


«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


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 )

"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 )

"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 )

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 )

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

"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

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

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


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 )

"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?"
>"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 )

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 )

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 )

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

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

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


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 )

"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

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

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 )

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 )

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
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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 )

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

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

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


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

"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 )

"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

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

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


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 )

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 )

"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

>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


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 )

"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 )

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

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

>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


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!

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 )

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."
"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 )

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?"
>"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

'that's cool bye'

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

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

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 )

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 )

>"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

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

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

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

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 )

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 )

"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

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 )

"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 )

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 )

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

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

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

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


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

Do you know anyone particularly sneaky and or could you just remote pilot a drone through the fog?
No. 1014300 ID: 5fc3a0
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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.

"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
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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
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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 )

>"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 )

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

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
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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

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

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

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
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>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
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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
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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
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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

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


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 )

>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
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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

time to kidnap crook
No. 1014654 ID: 96c896

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.

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

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

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?

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