Part 3: Three Phone Calls
: The screen fades as Cathryn awkwardly stands near the stairs. Come to think of it, I don't remember her having any stair walking animations. Hmm...
: The cash is stashed.
: Bernie... ?
: Bernie... !
(from the red couch upstairs): Isn't there... !
: Not on the ceiling. He's not Macavity.
: Yeah, just quick... bank business.
: Well, then you could have come with us.
: So? What did he say? What's the job? There is a job, isn't there?
: London Modern. A portrait of Churchill. Two million as down-payment.
: Two million pounds? He'll give us that much for THAT painting? Pah! He must be crazy.
: That he is.
: He wants it this week. Can we manage that?
: Why? What's happened? When did you see him last?
: Err, yeah well, I was at his place last week. He seemed somehow... unhinged
: Oh dear. Then I'll go and see how he is later on.
: Alright then. I'd better get to work on the computer...
: I'm back in control. There are no new items to check out and no new messages.
: We have to leave Bernard to his drinking/gambling/Belgian Mining. We can, however, pester Mike some more.
: Hey Mike.
: Can you sort that out straight away?
: Sure... Just a second. Have a look for the USB stick please.
: USB stick. OK. Just a moment.
: What about the stick?
: OK, OK...
: See you later.
: After saying goodbye we look at the left desk and...
: Hey Mike.
: Here it is.
: Wait a minute, yeah... ?
: Oh, shit.
Welcome to the game's fake PC interface. The graphs on the left scroll to imitate activity, although the core temperature is stuck.
LaserDial is a "laser unit configurator", LeetRoute is a "hacking tool", ThunderBolt is a "mail client" and IceBear is a "Ryzoom Browser". It has to be IceBear, not WetPussy, or GroundHog.
That's Mike's mailbox. It's empty.
This is the browser we'll occasionally use to search for stuff. Let's inquire about "house of tales".
"Some firewood is harvested in woodlots". Yeah, sounds like their careers after this game. The way this search works is simple. All plot-relevant inputs produce one proper link, while all other words get a selection of pseudo-random articles. Take "dongs" for example.
"dongs: This has brought about newer programming". An unexpected insight into this game's development.
Anyway, fucking around with random words for too long is one of the several things that make 15 Days crash. Actually "somethingawful" has made 15 Days crash. However I have a save just before using the computer, so you can suggest more words to look up.
"churchill" is the key word at this point. "As safeguards, all pellet stoves" looks intriguing, but we need the first, non-random, item.
Informative. Now for the Ryzoom Art Library link.
There we have it, the only portrait of Churchill in existence. Do we download it? No, we hit the "Shut down computer" star button in the bottom left corner.
: OK. I've got it.
: Wow, that was quick. Great
: Not sure why but the game started occasionally forgetting periods at the ends of sentences.
: I'll go to McBride's place now. You look for the plans of the building in the meantime. And see if you can find out any more about this Odila guy. By the way, the rubbish needs taking out as well. And we're out of toiler paper!
: Great! Anything else? What about Bernard, is he gonna do anything?
: Good question. So far Bernard's role in the whole thing has been getting an email from Odila.
: Why don't you ask him?
: See you later guys.
: Cathryn, any comments on the chair?
: Tourist rubbish. And not at all cheap!
: Robert! It's me!
: She does repeat the line.
: No, he's a 15 Days character.
: Cathryn! It's nice that you came over...
: What's wrong with you? You're really pale.
: Melancholic music kicks in here almost entirely drowning out parts of the dialogue.
: Have you been ill? You should have told me! I could have cooked for you.
: No, no, I'm fine. I'm just not sleeping very well.
: You worry too much. You didn't call on my birthday either.
: Wednesday. The 1st of July. My birthday.
: This is the point I decided the scene goes into a video bonus.
: Or at least in this studio.
: Don't be so sure, Cathryn.
: I haven't got anything for you.
: Yeah, you have. We've got a job. You've got a week to do the copy. Can you manage it?
: A week? I hope it's a least something a bit challenging...
: I wouldn't get too excited. I've got it with me, wait. This projector still work?
: If it doesn't, give it a bang - I don't know why...
: We can check out the studio, starting with the oil painting.
: A Michelangelo.
: No, it's a McBride. The chair has some "books with paint flecks".
: Oh dear. They're all long overdue.
: Small pot plants?
: Everything's falling apart... He really isn't doing too good.
: Painting utensils?
: What a mess.
: You know, it's like whoever wrote the item comments had no idea what they would look like beyond a general concept: "some books", "mess", "a photo". Anyway, there's one more item.
: Robert's projector. He uses it to project the original - for the preliminary drawing...
: It's time for the first use of an inventory item in 15 Days. So far we haven't used the map once. Why is it easier to access?
: Mike's USB stick. The picture data for Robert is already on it.
: Can you do that in a week?
: Hmm. Who the hell wants this amateur crap?
: Some insane collector. I was a bit surprised myself. He sent along a rather mysterious middleman.
: I could paint that blindfolded. Any old street painter can do this inane portrait realism.
: But not to such a standard that it's good enough for a museum. Only you can do that.
: You could say that. He'll give us 5 million.
: Five million pounds for this... What's happened to the art market?
: It certainly hasn't become more rational. All the better for us.
: Cathryn removes the USB stick with the painting's jpeg downloaded off Usenet, surely fit to make a perfect copy.
: We can chat with Robert now. Well, we have to.
: Robert... ?
: You really aren't looking good. Come on, tell me. What's wrong?
: Hmm, what's wrong? I told you, I'm not sleeping well.
: Are you... depressed? Alone? Lonely?
: Hungry? Thirsty? Horny?
: No. More the opposite. Listen Cathryn. I'm going to tell you something, but you mustn't make fun of me, you hear?
: I promise.
: There's someone here.
: What? What do you mean? Who is it?
: Not now. Not when I'm here. There's someone here in my studio. I can see it in little details.
: It's probably the orchestra.
: Come on... that's nonsense... who'd break into your studio? Is anything missing?
: No. Nothing. But I can feel it. Someone comes in when I'm not here - When I come back, a cloth is lying a millimetre to the left or a book is open at another page, or a canvas is leaning at a slightly different angle against the wall.
: No. Rubbish. You're imagining it.
: You see, you're making fun of me! You think I'm mad, right?
: That... no, no, not at all. It's terrible if you're scared. I only... I only wanted to reassure you. you're probably mistaken - that's what I wanted to say.
: Our little chat is not over. For the first time in the game it's branching. Let's start with
: Shall we get you anything? Do you need paints - or canvas?
: I've still got the key for the faculty. I'll have a look in the storeroom later.
: Does anybody not chronically steal shit in this game?
: Hmm. We'd better buy that stuff. They'll realise if something goes missing. The new chancellor has got every single pencil itemised.
: Not in the storeroom. I spoke to Dawson and Trevor. They don't touch the storeroom. Thy say that the old stuff before 2005 is worthless. It doesn't even exist according to the new inventory. They'll be throwing it all out.
: Throwing it away? Everything? The paintings from past students? You're not serious!
: Shall I have a look to see if there are still some of your works in there?
: The picture of my father... perhaps that's still lying around...
: You want that back?
: He called today.
: Gosh. And? What did he say?
: I didn't pick up. He said - he said "all the best for your birthday"...
: Mmm... That's more that I said... Are you going to call back?
: Music! Anyway, let's ask about the painting.
: Where's the painting of Jessica? It was always back there in the corner.
: I... burned it.
: You did what?!
: Her eyes changed over the years. She looked at me like a stranger.
: But... it was just a picture.
: Exactly. That's why I burned it. I don't need that stare. I want to keep Jessica in my memories, just like I knew her.
: Robert. That painting looked like at always did.
: That's what I saw in her eyes. And that's what I didn't want to see any more. The painting didn't become alien to me. I became alien to the painting.
: I'm worried about you. Won't you come round for dinner tonight?
: Don't worry. I've got soup from yesterday.
: And some jam to-morrow.
: You can't live on that.
: But you can't die from it either. I'll be fine.
: Listen, I've gotta go. You really won't come over for some dinner?
: I'd rather do some work.
: OK. Then... take care, alright? Look after yourself. I'll be in touch.
: And she bites his neck, or pecks him on the cheek, or sniffs his ear. Can't tell with these models.
Here's the first time I need to use the map.
I click to go in and start another cutscene.
: Yes. But he isn't well.
: I told you. He's slowly reaching that age...
: You should know.
: He burned the painting of Jessica.
: Was Jessica his dog? Seriously, the only thing we know about "her" is that "she" had "eyes".
: He says he's changed. He can't stand seeing the picture anymore. He also thinks he's being followed. He said that when he's not there, people go snooping around in his studio.
: Why do I, the player, have to be present for this recap?
: Heck. So he really has changed. He's gone all paranoid, then? Or could there be some truth in it? Has he got any evidence?
: He said he KNOWS that it's true. He can see it in certain details.
: Hmm. Well, that doesn't sound good at all. If he's right we've got a serious problem.
: We've got a problem, Mike, because he's UNWELL. He's our friend. We've got to help him.
: OK, OK, but how? I've never been particularly pally with him. You're his favourite. Tell us what we can do for the old boy and we'll do it.
: I'll do it.
: That's nice of you.
: Take the rubbish out with you, OK?
: Weren't YOU gonna do that?
: Hey, I had things to do! The London Museum plan? Forgotten already?
: And? Have you got it?
: Ha! What do YOU think? Of course - NOT! But I know where we can get it. The building was designed by the architects Wilbur & Thompson. I've already been on their server.
: But Mike is full of shit, because Tate Modern was redesigned from the Bankside Power Station by Herzog & de Meuron.
: OK. The we'll go to the museum tomorrow and gave a look around.
: Suddenly, a scene transition.
: Oh. Chief. Hey Chief, how's it going? Sorry, I, I... I didn't see it was you. What can I do for you?
: Jack. How long have you been working for us?
: Oh, come on Chief. I'm sorry! I! My phone's ringing all day... I just wanted to... errm.
: How long.
: More music.
: And do you want to continue working for us?
: Yes Chief.
: Then don't hang-up again before I tell you to.
: No Chief.
: Blink animations are rare in 15 Days. It seems, they had to be explicitly set in the dialogue scripting, so characters don't blink outside of conversations. The same applies to eye movement, but it's worse as it's not used in 99% of the scenes.
: You read the files, travel to London, have a look at this thing and then write a report. Immediately. Questions?
: No Chief.
: Then fine. Now you may hang-up.
: Thanks Chief.
: Another room to examine. Don't worry, the game will stop giving us optional hotspots long before it ends.
: My badge.
: Fancy. Cigarettes?
: I've given up giving it up.
: There's mail on the desk too.
: I urgently ought to sort my mail out.
: Jack, would you describe your lighter as "My lighter"?
: Susan's father gave it to me as a wedding present. And then after the divorce, he wanted it back. The old tight ass.
: Not more family stories! What about the PC?
: Frazier's old computer. Hah, the Chief loves me.
: Is he a tight ass?
The new icon for RegPol, "registration number search", can't be used. We need the mail.
: Back in the room all of the the numerous piles of files produce the same comment.
: I've been hoping for years that this place would burn down...
: Maybe the beer cans are preventing that?
: And I just love headaches.
: And I click on the bag with clothing.
: My apartment.
: The dried up plant? Your garden?
: Hah, I said that they oughta put cacti in the offices.
: The map won't be of much help. Nothing in 15 Days happens in Washington. Not in this sense at least.
: Checking out the inventory I see the phone lets me... call some guy's tamagotchi?
Let's examine stuff first.
: My work phone.
: Hey... that's my passport. Here in the case is a another special little tool. My bump key. Very useful. Works rather faster than a search warrant.
: "a another" is a sub typo.
: You can open almost any lock with a bump key.
: Time to make a phone call.
: Jack Stern, International Police Washington. Hi Jordan! So, how's the weather over there?
: It's raining. Do you know how late it is here Mr. Stern?
: Yeah of course! I'm not disturbing you am I?
: I assume you're calling about the Henston case. Your boss gave me advance warning.
: Exactly. I know. It's a real whodunit! We'd like to get an idea of this this at first hand.
: Our whole department has been working non stop for the past 48 hours. I'm on my way home. I've just come from the pathologist.
: OK. I'll keep it short. I plan to fly out today. I'd be there tomorrow morning. Does that suit you?
: Not particularly. But it can be organised.
: And... can you arrange a set of wheels for me?
: What to you have in mind?
: A van would be good. One of those surveillance vans.
: That's do-able. Any particular features or fittings?
: If you had a sleeping bag... ?
: And... perhaps a steering wheel on the right side... ?
: British sense of humour, huh? Very good... So, I'm flying to London Cental and then I'll come out to you.
: No one will be able to pick you up. We'll park your van in the airport car park and leave the key for you at the check-in. I'll send you an e-mail with a password soon. You have my mobile number just in case.
: Then good night. See you tomorrow.
: Let's use the door
: What now? Oh, right, another phone call...
: Jacks Stern, International Police Washington. I have a business account with you.
: Yes, Mr. Stern, I've found you. What can I do for you?
: I need a seat on the next plane to London.
: That would be the direct flight at 2:30pm Sir. Business class?
: Definitely and give me a seat next to the aisle. And a parachute.
: Aisle seat Sir. I've made a note of that. That will be 2,500 dollars. Where should I send your E-Ticket?
: Send it to my e-mail address.
: The ticket's on its way. Please be at the check-in in Terminal 2 no later that 2pm. United Airways wishes you a pleasant flight.
: Packing means yanking the ticket from the printer.
: And so in this update we delivered one USB stick and booked one flight in painful detail. Joy. Next time we'll see more adventures of an American in Britain in a game from a German studio.
Jack won't be as awesome as this.
P.S. For bonus clips today there is the first stage of meeting Robert, and the Transatlantic call featuring close up shots of dead soulless faces.