[Big Maul] Unwanted Silence (H 1.1, J 1.2, P 1.1)

edited April 2014 in Big Maul
Hottopic and Playboy:

It's been three days now since the last Breezestorm happened. That was one of the worst in memory, right? Howling cacophonous winds and screams from the outside, battering at windows and seeping through cracks. The muzak held it back in the core, but folks around the outer sections of the Big Maul had to wear buds and phones to keep the Dance at bay.

The Big Maul's muzak is playing this song:

Which is a good thing, since for a few minutes last night, the muzak... stopped. Nothing, nada. Luckily there was no Breeze outside, but that's no bueno.


Where is the central processing system that keeps the muzak playing? Have you played with this before? Who showed you how to make it work? Or did you just figure it out?

Playboy is here with you. She's watching over you, like some titanesque guard dog. Do you make conversation? You know why she's here, of course. Big Mac.

How long have you been working on this? Did you notice the break last night?

What worries you most about this breakage? You've been here before, has it ever happened before?


You woke up last night when the muzak died. Were you alone?

One of Big Mac's flunkies put you on this job - told you to make sure Hottopic doesn't mess around, fixes the muzak "quick-quick". What did they offer you that you just couldn't resist? And where did they find you this morning?

Is this something you're known for? Motivating people to doing "the right thing", aka what the guy paid you make them do?


  • edited April 2014
    I was with Geezer last night. He claims to be seventy something but his parts still work so sometimes I like to fuck him. And he never complains when I come around. Also, I like his "tree-house". It's this platform he's hung from the girders right under the skylights in front of Sears. And it makes sense that we'd wake up when the muzak stopped; there's a speaker right there next to his bed -- big black thing, the size of a midget in a box.

    Burrito King is the guy in the Maul with whom I trust my leather repair. He's part of Big Mac's gang. I guess he's a violent fucker, but what do I care -- he's an artist with his tools. Anyway, he came to me as I was climbing down to the Maul floor and told me if I did this thing; watch Hottopic fix the muzak, he'd get my boot fixed today instead of next week. I'm tired of going barefoot and anyway, any chance to watch Hottopic is nice -- I like the way she moves.

    I guess this is a thing. I mean, girl's gotta eat and so long as folks're feeding me to do stuff I sort of float around without raising a ruckus. If they stop, you can bet I'm still going to eat, it'll just involve taking food from people. But you know, you're implying that I'd have to lean on Hottopic for this and that's silly. I'm not going to hurt her; just look at that hair. And anyway, she likes fixing the machines, right?
  • So, I've been here in the old Mall Admin offices since about a hot minute after the Muzak died last night. I woke up like someone had just discharged a capacitor directly into my liver - when something important breaks around here, I tend to notice. I left GNC sleeping in the workshop and came straight up to the console.

    The last time this happened, I was really young. I snuck up here while Customer Service was taking a look at the unit and hid to watch him work. The Breeze was mostly quiet that time, too. Servo left to get some tools and I snuck up to take a closer look. It was... beautiful, somehow. I wanted to memorize the complex wires and the connections, like this box was holding the Maul together with these tiny threads of copper. I was just starting to sort of understand something that seemed important when Servo came back and decided to beat the shit out of me for messing around in his mud puddle. The Muzak started back up on its own that time, too, but weird shit kept happening for weeks. Once it got stuck in a loop on the same song for two fucking days.

    I've GOT to understand what went wrong last night. If we can lose our protection for an hour, we can lose it forever, and what a mess that would be.

    I've got no problem with Playboy being here, even if she looks like she wants to nibble on my hair. I'm maybe not so good at small talk, but I will start pointing out bits and bobs of tech that she may or may not give a shit about.

    "See this here? That's the cable that carries the signal out to the big relay in the Food Court. And this is the seepew... it's like the brain for the whole system."
  • "Wait. It has a brain?" I'm leaning in now, peering at the seepew. "So when it stops the muzak, is it just being balky?" There's this pause while Hottopic is probably trying to figure out what to say. "Do you give it treats?"
  • Hot's used to the kids in her workshop asking questions, and sometimes they're the right questions. She's used to flashes of insight when she handles things and pays attention from just the right "angle," but rarely thinks to invoke this purposefully.

    Impulsively, thoughtlessly, Hottopic gives Playboy a quick hug. "Playboy, you might just be a genius! I've spent so much time LOOKING at this, following the wires, memorizing it, but I never thought to just ask Muzak what it wants."

    Hottopic leans forward into the guts of the console and places a finger butterfly-light against the power transformer on the board containing the seepew. Her voice is husky, almost seductive, as she continues. "Muzak? Baby? This is Hottopic. You remember me, right? We've spent a lot of time together. Are you happy, baby? Do you need anything? What happened last night?"

    Things speak
  • (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 1, 1. Total: 4)
  • Jinkies.
  • edited April 2014

    You reach out to Muzak. Your touch is full of hope, seeking understanding. You're the first to do this. To ever try this. Who else even could?

    It fucking pounces on you. The Muzak Machine swallows you whole, Hottopic. This song blares in your ears, subsuming you, enveloping you, wearing away your skin until you bleed essence all around it, and it burns at you, scraping for your core, for more words, for talking. It wants your words, it will eat them all whole and gluttonously ask for seconds, thirds, minutes, hours.

    (Smothered Hope by Skinny Puppy)
    Withered rope you hang what's empty can't remain to put it simply
    In time cry the hollow words to sing with false disguise
    Smothered hope fly from sorrow for a new divine tomorrow

    I just don't want to know anymore

    Life shifts up and down
    Everybody knows it's wrong
    Life shifts up and down
    Everybody knows it's wrong
    Life shifts up and down
    Everybody knows it's wrong

    Why don't you care
    Life shifts up and down
    Now don't it seem unfair
    Life shifts up and down

    It's not in the rhyme or reason so it goes with every season
    Crawl to top fall through bottom first hand love is really rotten
    Slice of life find what's plenty inch towards a sanctuary
    Fight with me inside the womb
    I know everyone everybody knows it's me
    It's my voice my voice cries out obscenity
    Sightless I regard my past sometimes it should
    I just don't want to know anymore

    Life shifts up and down
    Everybody knows it's wrong
    Life shifts up and down
    Everybody knows it's wrong
    Life shifts up and down
    Everybody knows it's wrong

    Why don't you care
    Life shifts up and down

    Why don't you care
    Why why don't you care
    Smothered hope
    Why don't you care

    Smothered hope

    If the world is a hell what does it matter what happens in it

    Electric chair electric chair

    Hottopic starts talking to the machine, reaching for it. The moment she asks about last night, the second she touches it, she seizes. Like, full on, frothing at the mouth, shaking and unable to pull herself free of it like it's a live wire.

    Sweet N Sour told you about how his head was fucked up by a live wire once, didn't he? Bad shit, stay away from live wires! But Hottopic's hair, shit you not, it smells like it is being singed.

    What do you do?
  • edited April 2014
    Oh, that's easy. I grab her by the shoulders and I pull her off the machine. And I shout with that tone that means things are about to get bloody if someone doesn't back the fuck off. "Bad Muzak!"
  • Playboy:

    You yoink Hottopic off the Muzak and yell at the Muzak. It doesn't answer. Hottopic's head lolls back a bit and she's seeing stars, not quite back to terra firma. She looks like she might be coming back, maybe. Do you like girls, Playboy?


    The words are still thrumming into your mindspace, those words replaced some of yours. Some words you knew, ones at the periphery, archaic words, they're gone. Take 1-Harm AP for that experience.

    You're whole body feels like you stuck a finger in a light socket. Have you done that before?

    Oh hey, you know what? Muzak had one thing more. It knows who you love in the Maul, the one you fancy most. Who's that?

    If you don't know who that is, let me know when you "discover it".
  • Since she seems unstable, I've got one arm under Hottopic's arm and behind her back and I scoop her knees up with the other arm and take her out to the nearest fountain. Put her feet in the water and splash some in her face.

    Do I like girls? I mean, it's complicated. I don't exactly like anyone; people are inscrutable. Or maybe it's that I like everyone. Anyway, I don't parse gender difference very well, any associated norms and expectations people have typically go over my head. If I get someone's pants off, I'll play with whatever they've got down there.
  • Hottopic and Playboy, is there a doctor round here? What happens to sick and hurt folks?
  • Hottopic:

    You feel the cool water splash and it helps you come back. And your feet are wet, too. What kind of footwear do you have?
  • Hottopic:

    I almost forgot the Harm Move.
    (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 6, 4. Total: 11)
  • Hottopic:

    That's some Harm, yeah? I'm going to say that this experience has left you panicked. It's going to be some time before you'll want to deal with the muzak again. And when you do, you'll be Acting Under Fire.
  • Muzak? What... I thought... Can't remember my name for the moment, I'm not in the rhyme or reason... Everything is shifting, shifts up and down. Muzak. Why don't you care?

    I suck in a desperate, shuddering breath. My voice cries out obscenity. "Shitfuckpiss!" For a second I don't recognize Playboy and I try to pull away, which is when the pain kicks in. This is worse than the time I tried fixing that lava lamp thing while it was plugged in, for sure. Like hot water under the skin. Like an electric chair.

    I feel myself being lifted, remember who Playboy is just as she puts my feet in the fountain. I feel the wet thing... water... on my face. The "real world" is coming back to me, and I know I should be pissed that the rubber soled purple chukka boots I traded Burrito King for last week are soaked, but I'm not. I'm just...

    I remember, while Muzak had me, seeing DJ Francois in my mind's eye for just an instant. Spinning tunes, spinning himself, playing the bagpipes and the fiddle. He's magic, I think. Just... magic.

    My head clears, and through the ringing in my ears I hear the Muzak.

    (Lesley Gore - Sunshine, Lollipops And Rainbows)

    Underneath, though, is a constant fixed motif. If the world is a hell what does it matter what happens in it? If the world is a hell what does it matter what happens in it? If the world is a hell what does it matter what happens in it? Smothered hope.

  • What happens to sick and hurt folks?

    Uh, I don't know. I've never been sick, or I didn't notice if I was. Usually when I hurt people, they either run off or they die. I guess I saw one of Sweet n' Sour's gangers -- that short one, stitching up a machete wound once. I suppose there are people around who know a bit of first aid.
  • "Are you back, Hottopic? Muzak was bad."
  • "Yep, Playboy, Muzak was bad. Shit. Thanks for your help." My words sound right, I guess, but they fall flat in my own ears. I wonder if Playboy notices. My fingers are still twitching. I wonder if Playboy notices. What does it matter... It occurs to me that Playboy was probably here to make sure I didn't screw up and I screwed the fuck up. Wonder what that means to her. What does it matter...
  • "Can we fix it?"
  • What happens to sick and hurt folk?

    Mostly, they get better or they die. There are a few people that know some first aid, mostly cuts and such, but we don't have anyone particularly skilled. Hottopic keeps meaning to scrounge or build something like life support, but she hasn't managed to focus on it yet.
  • Hottopic and Playboy:

    As you're both in the fountain, trying to figure out what to do about the muzak, Jet Black comes strolling up. He looks, well, frenzied, tired and inspired. And now, seeing you two, maybe a little confused.

    What do you do?
  • edited April 2014
    I cock my head slightly, one eyebrow raised. "Uh, is it bath day already? You really oughta remember to invite me sometime." Then I notice Hot's fingers twitching and I remember the day Playboy carried Cache back inside from the breeze. I know Playboy pretty well, I can't imagine her doing anything to Hot, but she does have a violent side, and if Big Mac's involved... This could be anything I'm walking into.

    Read a charged sitch. +1 XP
  • (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 5, 3. Total: 9)

    - § -
  • What should I be on the lookout for?
  • Jet Black:

    Looks like they've only just gotten to this fountain, like maybe Playboy brought Hottopic here.

    As for what to look out for... well, something's wrong with Hottopic. You've never seen her like this. She just failed to fix something. And it hurt her.
  • edited April 2014
    Nobody's smiling. My face gets serious. Crouch down and look at Hot's face. I'm trying to avoid getting my boots in the water. Touch her chin and straighten her head upright. I speak gently, in ringing tones. "Hot, honey, it's me Jet. Look at me. Come on, who's your friend...?"

    Read a person. +1 XP
  • (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 4, 4. Total: 9)
  • Holding 1 question. Does she respond at all?
  • edited April 2014
    I totally put on the patently fake smile. "Yo. Jet. How's it hanging? What brings you to freaky bath-time?" I need someone competent to take care of me, it's clear, and Playboy may be strong, but competent isn't the first thought that comes to mind. As I twitch, I look up at Jet Black.

    "Hey, Jet... I'm pretty fucked up. Tried to talk to Muzak and she bitch slapped me. Help?" My eyes are wide, hopeful and trusting - or I think so. Smothered hope.

    I'm hoping that Jet will help Playboy take care of me. "Jet, help me..."

    manipulate someone +1 XP
  • (Rolled: 2d6. Rolls: 3, 5. Total: 8)
  • So, we crossed the streams there. Cool with however we want this to resolve.
  • edited April 2014
    [Still holding that question.]
  • Hey Hottopic, you got one success on that Manipulate on Jet Black. You can choose "the carrot or the stick". Either offer Jet an XP to do what you asked (carrot), or force him to Act Under Fire if he ignores your request (the stick). Which way do you choose?
  • Jet's already put the plan in motion. He gets the experience for sure. Hottopic's all carrot until the shit hits the fan.
  • edited April 2014
    [Righteo. I'll take the experience point.] +1 XP

    "Oh really, did she? Well she slapped me too." I lean conspiratorially close to Hot's face. "But I liked it." I wink at her, then shoot a sideways glance to Playboy. "Can you carry her to the theater? I bet Rache can brew something up to make her feel better."

    [Still holding that question.]
  • edited April 2014
    While I'm looking at Playboy, I'm gonna run through a quick mental list of everything I know that's been going on with her lately, and whatever physical cues I can get from her body language. I haven't seen her for at least four days and I'm trying to determine her current state.

    Everybody eats, even that guy +1 XP [levelup]
  • (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 5, 1. Total: 8)
  • How is she doing? What’s up with her?
  • I'm a little startled by how quickly Jet Black has moved into the situation and taken over. I'm half still waiting for Hottopic to answer my question and half trying to catch up with what's going on.

    But I eventually table the former and succeed at the latter, responding to Jet, "Sure."

    And I look to Hottopic for verification as I reach down to lift her into the air. "Shall we?"
  • Jet Black, you notice I'm barefoot, that's a little unusual. Otherwise, I think I seem normal.

    And sure there's nuance, but I have basically four states that you've seen: normal (which is weird and awkward), fucking, violent, and trying to mix (which is almost painfully awkward).

    There are also outbursts of talking to myself and answering in an unnerving raspy voice as if I'm someone else. That's rare and creepy and doesn't fit with the rest of the model.
  • edited April 2014
    I smile at Playboy, step back expectantly and gesture toward the theater with an exaggerated butler-bow. It rarely ever occurs to me that someone might not follow my suggestions.

    [Aside: Jet's a Maestro, which is a polite way of saying he's an egotist, a show-off, and a professional control freak. But he's motivated more by his concept of Art than by anything else, which keeps him from being a total asshole. That's probably a general impression that many people in the maul have. And his shows are insanely cool: even if they sometimes get a little hard to comprehend, there's always plenty of sex and violence. Here's the part Playboy may or may not realize, depending on how sharp she's feeling this morning: Jet does not plan on going back to the AMC without Hottopic, and he's sharp enough to know that Big Mac could be holding something over Playboy's head, so he's inserting himself into the situation.]
  • edited April 2014
    "Yeah, Playboy, heading to the AMC sounds like a plan." I look at Playboy as she picks me up again, remembering her succinct and devastating question from just a few minutes ago - Can we fix it? Seems like that question, terrifying as it is, is going to occupy a lot of my brain for the foreseeable future.

    I'm trying to figure Jet's angle. There's always an angle.

    "So, enough about me... Jet, what brings you to this little corner of the world? Just out on walkabout?"

    Read a person +1 XP
  • (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 2, 3. Total: 6)
  • Jet Black, do you want to help that roll by Hottopic?
  • So yeah, I'll carry Hottopic to AMC.
  • (Rolled: 2d6+3. Rolls: 1, 6. Total: 10)
  • Jet Black, how did you help Hottopic "read you" just now?

    Hottopic, it appears you succeeded (lucky you). Ask your one question from Read a Person.
  • edited April 2014
    How did I help? Oh, I'm already talking about the show; she can tell I'm on a creative roll and it's going to involve her services. I'm rather predictable in that regard, once an idea starts forming for a new show. As soon as she seems alright enough to converse, I start conversing.

    "Well, see, I'm doing a show about this guy, his name is Bob the Braker..."
  • Yeah, I get that Jet's jazzed about this new project, but there's something about the way he says "Bob the Braker..."

    "Jet, that's cool and all, but what are you really feeling?"
  • edited April 2014
    "I'm feeling inspired, Hot! I'm feeling like this Bob guy means something. To people. I feel like... Every buddy needs a hero." I'm explaining this badly. Her question has thrown me off. I flip my hair back and look her in the eyes. She deserves that. "I feel like..."

    The show is absolutely foremost in my mind, but I'm also feeling self-conscious because this idea is rather complex and not yet totally coherent. Hot's face looks flushed. Her eyes are watery. This may just be a side-effect of her recent electrocution but those eyes seem to be looking straight into me. They're pretty eyes, too. Not big eyes, not animated, not always rushing to tell you the news, but reserved eyes, thoughtful eyes, almost hiding, like two dark little birds in the bushes. If she closed her eyes I could kiss them and then maybe she'd just... understand me.

    I suddenly realize we're not alone. Playboy is right there, looking at me. "Let me start again," I say.

    Egh. I had intended to unveil the idea slowly, so as not to overwhelm them with too many concepts still half-baked. But as I begin talking about the show that's forming in my mind I get excited again, and begin adding layer upon layer of detail as we walk. At one point I realize that my antagonist is lacking a name, and think hard trying to come up with a good one quickly.

    I remember seeing an old poster that said "YES WE CAN!" It was red and white and blue - that means secretly it was like that lux civ flag that means FUCK YOU WE DO WHAT WE WANT - I love that flag - and there was a picture of a guy with big ears. Fuck, I wish I had taken it now. His name was... hmm. Osama or something like that. Sounded pretty evul.

    It takes a minute for me to work my way back to the main thread, but by the time we reach the AMC I've explained the basic plot of my new show "YES WE CAN!" - the epic story of Bob the B and his Kendo gang versus the evul projex of Doctor Osama. I describe the evul machine, how it has to have blinking lights and moving stuff, and I'm careful to explain that Bob and his gang won't really destroy it; we'll only pretend to destroy it and we'll blow up some smokebombs to make it look real. I'm gesticulating now, my long fingers and hands blithely indicating lights, dancers, drama, explosions... I can't really tell if she's seeing the power and passion I need in the staging of this climactic scene, so as we enter the lobby I belt out the chorus of the finale Franc and I have been throwing together, my body flexing in classic frontman poses:

    "Every thing goes up and down;
    Every buddy knows it's wrong;
    We must stop the evul plan;
    Can we brake it? Yes We Can!"

    I then start going on about how I'm still in an artistic dilemma over changing the original words, I mean come on, he is named Bob the BRAKER, after all, right? But I'm not sure. "What do you think sounds better?" I ask her and Playboy both, suddenly considering the value of pre-show marketing feedback. "Can we brake it?" Or "Can we fix it?"
  • Inside my hood, my eyes narrow and my pulse quickens. "Can we fix it?" I'm not really answering Jet Black, I'm sort of on my own now, "break it...fix it..." And then I'm back, paying attention again.

    "Maybe they're the same thing."
  • edited April 2014
    "How could they be the same thing? They're opposite things." I look quizzically at Playboy.

    Then it hits me. I snap my fingers. "Oh I see what you mean... very clever! They're opposite things to the characters inside the show, right? But to us up here in the audience..." I gesture in an inclusive circle, indicating all three of us and the entire theater, "They're two sides of the same thing."

    I imagine a tagteamed choral crescendo in which Osama's gang is singing "Can we fix it?" while Bob's gang is echoing back on counterbeats with "Can we brake it?"... This is shaping up rather nicely.

    - § -
  • edited April 2014
    Stage management goes over my head and Jet Black makes me uncomfortable. Having deposited Hottopic where she wants to be, I go.

    I'm going to go check on Muzak's.

    But first, it occurs to me that I don't know what I'm doing. I interrupt whatever's going on, "Hottopic, how should I talk to Muzak's seepew? She needs to know better than to do that to you again and also, she has to keep us safe."
  • Muzak's still there, the problem's still in the back of my head, still makes me want to curl up into a fucking ball and just cry my fucking eyes out.

    But, Jet's enthusiasm is contagious. As he starts explaining about Bob and his Kendo gang and how they go around fucking up evul Doctor Osama's evul projex, I start to snap out of it just a little more. I start seeing the Evul Machine in my head, how we could put it together so that it could really look like Bob the B blows it up. It'll have to be big, of course, with lots of lights, and I know one of Jet's people could help make it look Evul as hell.

    Then Can we break it? Can we fix it? and Maybe they're the same thing. and I struggle to find the words to say what I need to say. Struggle, and fail.

    We get to the AMC and Playboy asks How should I talk to Muzak's seepew? That I have words for, at least.

    "Playboy, please don't. I need to... think about Muzak for a little while before we do anything else."
  • "Jet, I really don't want to do this, but I think I should talk to Big Mac about Muzak before I start working on Doctor Osama's Evul Machine." It's pretty clear Hottopic would love to be talked out of this course of action.
  • edited April 2014

    You hear Playboy grumble in an odd, scratchy tone, "Can't fix it if aint broken. Pain is the sound of weakness leaving the body."
  • edited April 2014
    I give that look to Playboy again. Can't parse this one. Back to Hottopic.

    "Umm, well, you would need to talk with Boiardi about those lights, right? Because's he's..." I don't want her to leave, but I do have a lot of other things to take care of. "He's around here someplace."
  • I leave.
  • Where do you go, Playboy?
  • edited April 2014
    I call out after Playboy. She's going to speak to Big Mac herself, so I decide to appoint her emissary. I jog up to her hulking form. "Listen, sugar, if it's all the same to you... How's about if you just tell Mac everything's copathetic with the muzak and Hot will make sure everything stays that way. He doesn't understand electrics any better than you do. Or me either. Can you just... Try to make him feel at ease, huh? I'll consider it a personal favor."

    This is a manipulate move. My promise is owing her a favor. +1 XP
  • (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 1, 3. Total: 6)
  • edited April 2014
    Ohhh, fuck.
  • I'm heading to Muzak. I need to talk to it or fuck it or break it or...something.

    And now I'm looking down at Jet, trying to figure out what's being asked for.
  • edited April 2014
    I get the feeling I'm not connecting. I defer to Hot, gesturing in her direction with my thumb. "Playboy, she said she needed to think about Muzak for a little while. She said please? So don't talk to the seepew, don't do anything to the muzak. Just tell Mac she's thinking about it. Tell him everything will be fine."
  • edited April 2014
    Up til now I've just been parroting sentences with the word "muzak" in them, but putting this weird conversation together with Hot's words from when she was sitting in the fountain, it's starting to dawn on me that the muzak and Hot's accident are related. The accident must have coincided with that random burst of muzak that happened earlier.

    Oh and a mental note - somebody needs to find Mari. We need at least a few new dance moves for tonight, and she's my go-to choreographer.

    Shit, I have so much to do! I pat Playboy's shoulder a few times, smile, nod once, and head purposefully back to Hottopic, whom I take by the hand. My intention is to take her with me toward the back of the complex, where the crew's rooms are. "I have a google things to do before tonight's show," I tell her. "Walk and talk?"
  • I focus being steady on my feet and keeping my face cool. "Sure, Jet. But I'm going to need to deal with Mac before too long. Let's get started on the show."
  • "Tell Mac."

    As I walk away, I'm asking Hood, "What do you think the best way to keep Muzak happy is?"
  • edited April 2014
    The next few hours will be a blur of activity for me. The only thing that's gonna let me pull this show off so quickly is the fact that we're re-using bits of other pieces we've been working on for the last few weeks, repurposing them to fit my new lyrics. I have to get with all my cast and crew, make sure Rache (stage) and Mari (dancers) have their respective teams under control, finish up a couple more songs with Franc, rehearse a couple numbers with my leading man Fall, get Jackbird and Rache started on some big hammers and a few backdrops, do a rushed tech rehearsal, and then it's time for makeup & costumes just an hour before curtain. Somewhere in there I also have to get Hot to build the evul machine, for which she'll need the help of Boiardi, my lights and sound guy.

    Realizing that Hot's being pulled in two directions, I decide to start with the last thing first. I go retrieve the little plastic figure from Rache's room, and then I want to take Hot to see Boiardi. He's a heavyset Italian cisman with a big mustache, and he actually wears overalls all the time. And a cap. If I had any idea who Super Mario was, I'd call him Super Mario. His workroom is literally covered with wires, cables, electrical switches, doodads and gizmos, and lightbulbs of all shapes and sizes. It's amazing he can move around in there at all, but for such a big guy he's actually very nimble.

    My intention is to leave Hot in his hands for a while, so they can talk tech while I go find Mari.
  • edited April 2014
    (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 5, 5. Total: 11) xp+1
  • Hey Hottopic and Jet Black,

    Playboy starts talking as she walks away. She says in that weird gravelly voice of her she sometimes uses, "The Muzak wants to eat your words. Give it a mouth and it'll be happy. But it plays for keespies."
  • Playboy

    Please go here.
  • edited April 2014
    I'm thinking Playboy's parting utterance requires some sort of comment as I'm walking Hot toward Boiardi's room in the back of the theater, but I can't for the life of me think of what to say about it. Playboy used to give me the creeps, but ever since she brought Cache back inside I've had a sort of unspoken fondness for her. This doesn't mean that our conversations are effortless or anything; in fact she usually seems to feel as awkward as I do, and we talk past each other all the time. But I'm willing to overlook a whole lot of weirdness if I like someone. Just look at my friends.

    I openpalm-up with one hand, eyebrows raised to say "hellifIknow". Keep walking. I'm actually leading Hot by the hand (unless she resisted, in which case I'd stop immediately). There's all this shit to do.
  • edited April 2014
    I file Playboy's comment away to deal with later, when my head doesn't hurt so much. I can't physically stop her from going and the idea of going back to the offices where Muzak is gives me the cold sweats and a leaky bladder at the moment, so I'm going to pretend everything's cool and focus on the Evul Machine until I get my shit together.

    I've seen Boiardi before, and even worked with him on the flag thing, but it just now occurs to me that I've got a windup toy in my workshop that looks just like him! Through the haze, I make a mental note to find it when I head back to the shop.

    "So, Boio... I've got this idea. What if we built the Evul Machine in components on a multi-axis armature so that it can actually fly to pieces when Bob and his gang blow it the fuck up?"

    ...is what I wanted to say.

    "So, Boio... I've got this idea. What if we built the Evul Machine in... uh... pieces on a multi... on a bunch of like, arms, so that it can actually fly to pieces when Bob and his gang blow it the fuck up?"

    ...is what I say.
  • That's good enough for me. "Brilliant!" I say, showing twinkly fingers. "I knew I came to the right person!" Wink at Hot. Turn to Boio and indicate Hot with my eyes and a slight lowering of my head. That means she's the boss on this project, do what she says. Then I spin on a 2-inch oiled redwood heel, and leave the room. Tick one mark on my mental checklist.
  • Jet Black deposits you with Boio, Hottopic, then heads off with stuff to do.

    Boio peers and blinks at you a couple times before answering, like he's trying to imagine it. He smacks his lips a couple times, then asks, "Wouldn't that hurt the clients? Or... can you make it look blown up without, you know, blowing it up?" He scratches his dandruff-covered head, then ambles over to his workboard, which is a slat of plywood nailed at an angle onto some workhorses where he draws plans.

    "Show me." He says as he hands you the pen. He steps back to watch. Well, watch your ass, too. Does that bother you, Hottopic?
  • Jet Black, please go here.
  • Looking doesn't bother me for the most part. Beyond looking, well, it depends on the approach, right? I've got my stun gun (actually, it's a modified Hello Kitty "massage wand"), and I've used it when someone tried to force the issue, but in general I like fucking as much as the next gal, and more than some.

    I take the pen with some relief. Apparently I can't explain shit at the moment. I draw a quick sketch. First, a monolithic Machine, with a half-dozen quickly rendered figures in lab coats turning knobs and flipping switches. For the overall look, think the Machine from Metropolis, but with blinkenlights instead of rivets and steam.


    Then, on a second area of the paper, the machine is in jagged pieces, and I sketch in the curved lines of the armature that the pieces have traveled along. Without too much detail (it's not my thing), I indicate spots for pyro effects. I indicate the electrical connections we're going to need and jot a couple of parts lists. I'm clearly in the zone.

    "I guess we should go ahead and round up Rache and Jackbird, Boio. Plenty of work to do, right?"

    One problem. Those curving armatures are going to be tough, and I don't have the machine tools to make them. Unless someone comes up with an idea, we'll have to use straight lines, which would be much less realistic.
  • Boio chews on the inside of his cheek as he watches you, and your drawings. He peers for a moment, then says, "I say we back-burner the fucken arms and do what can be done. Then fake out the arms, and if we have time left before show, we circle back. No sense hitting that. Get me?"

    He blinks a couple times, then adds, "Looks much better than how Rache described it. What you did, I mean."
  • "I guess we can do it that way. I mean, make it work now, make it work better later, right? So, who and what do we need to get started on this?"

    I look back at the drawing, thinking about what Boiardi said about Rache. I wonder if she's gonna be pissed if he says it to her. I've never thought about Boio much before now, and I take a second to wonder about him.

    read a person +1 XP
  • (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 1, 3. Total: 5)
  • Hey Hottopic, you're here, chatting with Boiardi and all. Then, you try to see if you can figure him out. But man, you're clueless. He's just, you know, flesh and blood and all. Inscrutable.

    And for some reason, he reads you like a book. Cover to cover.

    "Hottopic, tell me this." Boiardi says, all slow and looking deep in your eyes. For some reason, you just want to open up to the guy, to be truthful and honest, even if it's not superfun or even wise. "What are you really feeling?"

    Then, he hits you with, "What do you intend to do about the Muzak really?"

    After all that, he winks and asks, "And ah... how could I get you to blow off this project and sneak off for a quickie? Or two?"
  • "Well, fuck, Boio, I'm feeling scared and bruised and fucking broken. Muzak reamed me out and I think it stole some of my words, as crazy as that seems."

    I think about the second question. "I think I gotta fix Muzak somehow, only now it's not an it, it's a she and she's awake and shit. I don't do people so good, Boio, and I think Muzak's people."

    The third one's easier. Right now I'm running in a million directions on two legs. "Truth? Promise it'll be quick and you'll make sure I finish. I could use some me time, if you know what I mean."
  • Boiardi walks over and puts a hand on your shoulder, "Kid, you're the first to figure out Muzak as well as you have. Maybe it's a bitch? Maybe you gotta let her bite ya before you can break her?" He squeezes your shoulder once, sort of affectionately.

    "You'll work it out, babe," he says, looking over you again, licking his lips. "I'll get you finished, sugar. Just you trust me on that." If you are truly amenable, he'll lead you down a ladder to his little bedroom under the stage, which is little more than a mattress surrounded by rows of old framed movie posters.
  • I'm amenable.

    I go down the ladder and watch while Boiardi strips off his overalls. I let him peel off my coveralls, being careful not to crush anything that's attached to them. I urge him on, enjoying the tickle of his mustache on my thighs, the feel of him, the lingering ionized smell of his hands as they move across my body. Once I blow my top, I'm compliant, complacent even, until he blows his. Then, for the first time, he rushes into my mind like a broken walkie-talkie.

    Savvyhead "special move"

    * What strong emotions has Boiardi recently experienced or been near?
    * Who "handled" Boiardi most recently before me?
    * What's wrong with Boiardi, and how might I fix it?
  • FYI, this is Boiardi:

    He's not too eager. Turns out, a guy working for a traveling brothel gets his share of turns in the sack, so he's not too bad.

    Boiardi most recently was near his brother, Raviolis, as he was suffering through exposure to The Breeze. Boiardi felt more than a little guilt at that, but the treatment just had to be done, you see?

    Before you? Esco. She just had to get enough favors to be the next diva, and well, Boiardi wasn't going to convince her a BJ for his favor would be useless. I mean, Jet decides how he decides, his own mad logic.

    Boiardi doesn't see anything wrong with him, per se. But his brother, you see. His brother is completely insane. And Boiardi just knows in his heart of hearts, that somehow The Breeze could be useful to cure him. Like how you give little doses of poison to someone to make them immune to the whole shebang. Or, you know inoculations and shit. He's read books.
  • edited April 2014
    Alright, Raviolis' insane and maybe I can do something about it, but I need to get to dealing with Muzak first. I clean up and climb up the ladder, then send one of Jet's flunkies to Godiva with a message to round up the troops. He'll know what to do with the sketch I made.

    I'm gonna bid a cordial adieux to Boiardi (this includes a sincere kiss on the cheek - more "thank you" than "I lurv you") and then head back to my workspace to "put together the elements we need."

    I rummage around for the electronics we're going to need for the set-piece and find most of them. (What's missing?) But then...

    I take that one cheerful robot toy off the wall and look it straight in the eye-like holes in its face-like head. I say out loud, directly into the toy robot's face, "So, what do I need to do?"
  • Sure, Hottopic, you can fix the Muzak no problem!


    First, you'll have to figure out how to help it communicate without killing you.
    It's going to mean exposing yourself (plus colleagues) to serious danger, since Muzak wants to eat your words.


    You can come up with some crap replacement, weak and unreliable, but
    That's going to take weeks of work, dozens of tries and fucktons of jingle.
  • edited April 2014
    For sure, it's the real fix - figure out how to help it communicate without killing me. From what I'm guessing, Playboy's already up there, fucking shit up. Ballpit and Godiva can take care of the basics for Jet's show...

    Here's the deal. In Savvyhead terms, Muzak's the guy I wished would ask me to the Geek Prom (or whatever the equivalent might be), and she just bitch-slapped me when I took the leap myself. I'm uncertain, uncomfortable, but... I can't just leave well enough alone.

    "Yo, GNC, hook up one of the walkies to the office intercom. I need to get Playboy in on this..."

    "Playboy, can you hear me? Listen... you're right. Give it a mouth, but you're not the mouth. I'm pretty sure I am. Just wait..."

    I look around. I grab my favorite robot. I'm ready to make the move.

    "Muzak. You're being bad. Listen... We depend on you, okay? Tell me what's wrong."

    per earlier, this is clearly "act under fire"
  • (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 1, 5. Total: 7)
  • ((oh, thank gods, it's at least a hit))
  • Hey Hottopic, things have changed a bit since you left Muzak. You may or may not want to revise things.

    When you enter the utility closet in the Admin Offices, you find Playboy, with her hands on the Muzak box. She's pulled the box up from its mooring and now has it on her lap. She's sitting on the floor, legs crossed, her head alert, but her eyes. Her eyes are black and smoky pools.

    When you come in and talk to her, she doesn't acknowledge you. When you talk to Muzak, call it bad, Playboy replies in that scratchy, odd voice of hers you've heard a couple times today.

    "Not bad. Not broken. Not bad."
  • edited April 2014
    Things have changed for sure. I look at Playboy, at her eyes, and feel that cold sweat on the back of my neck. Scared shitless, sure, but I stand my ground. I want to figure out what's going on here.

    read a sitch +1 XP
  • (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 5, 4. Total: 10)
  • * Is there an enemy here?

    * What should I be on the lookout for?

    * Who's in control here?
  • Oh Hottopic. there is always an enemy present. Muzak is your enemy. Playboy, by extension, also your enemy.

    You should be on the lookout for Muzak, which is controlling Playboy's mouth right now. Maybe it can affect her whole body, too? You've seen what Playboy is capable of, right?

    While Muzak is the one talking, Playboy's mask is in control of that. The mask, it's in control here. But it likes Muzak. It's undecided on you, Hottopic.
  • edited April 2014
    "Hey, Muzak... I've known you since I was just little, right? Maybe we never talked before, I'm sorry about that, if that's what you wanted. But I've sat here, listening, really listening. I know your lights blink green, 1-2-3-4-5, just before a new song starts playing. Muzak, I've known you. What do you need?"

    I pause slightly before continuing, because what I'm about to ask scares the shit out of me. "Muzak, what do you want?"

    manipulate Muzak +1 XP
  • Alright, Hottopic, I think you're using your history with it as leverage. Let's see you Manipulate Muzak to listen to you.

    Failure means it thinks you are lying. Pretending to be the one who it has felt but never seen or heard.

    This begins playing over the speakers:
  • (Rolled: 2d6. Rolls: 3, 4. Total: 7)
  • Playboy's expression doesn't change, maybe Muzak doesn't grasp that function yet? In that gravelly voice, she answers, "Words. Commmmmunication. Mouth."
  • Here's the thing.

    When Servo finally offed himself by being drunk and stupid and fucking around with a live wire, there was no one - no one - here that could step up and do what he did, right? No one but a young fem who barely had tits yet and had been watching him from hiding and taking his beatings and taking stuff apart and putting stuff together and picking through the litter of the outside bits of the Maul to find useful and shiny things. When Servo finally offed himself, it was just me, right? And for a year or so I fucked up and I fucked up, but I tried, didn't I? I learned. I learned to look at things just right and know how to fix them. I learned to take bits of one thing and bits of another thing and make a new thing that did what we needed it to. And after a while I stopped fucking up so much. And people - even Big-Fucking-Deal Mac - started counting on me when it really counted.

    And Muzak was a constant, and Playboy has for some strange reason been kind in her own way, and...

    I can give Muzak a mouth without giving her a person. And if I fuck it up, then I tried.

    "Playboy, Muzak... I'm going to my workshop, and I'm going to find what we need to give Muzak her own voice."

    I won't bother pulling Ball Pit and Godiva off Jet's show - GNC has the skills I need if I need backup, and too many hands is a recipe for confusion until I know what I'm doing.

    ((I'm aiming toward a workshop montage here. I'm willing to take whatever risks I need to with myself and GNC.))
Sign In or Register to comment.