The Let's Play Archive

Disco Elysium

by Arist

Part 29: 22:46-1:28: Karaoke For Spirits

Chapter 29: 22:46-01:28: Karaoke For Spirits

Content warning: Cuno’s back, folks

ARIST: [Easy: Success] Disco…

ARIST: [Easy: Success] Oh hey, Morell and Gary made it back.

ARIST: [Medium: Success] Okay, fine, we get it, talk to Lena.

KIM KITSURAGI: “I knew it…” you hear Kim say quietly to himself.
ESPRIT DE CORPS: [Medium: Success] I’m not surprised it’s already getting out of hand.

INTERFACING: [Easy: Success] The little silvery knob holding the tie together feels warm in your hand. It’s in the shape of an avian skull. With *eight* eyes.

LENA, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST’S WIFE: “Oh… you don’t want to hear about some old woman’s ramblings…”
MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “‘Ramblings’? Nonsense! Your description of the phasmid is the most precise I’ve ever heard!”
LENA, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST’S WIFE: “But darling, I didn’t even get the *size* of it right.”
MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “You were a *child*, my dear. Really, it’s extraordinary what you were able to describe. Now go on, tell our friend about it. He’s proven his interest in the field.”
KIM KITSURAGI: Reflexively, the lieutenant readies his familiar notebook.

LENA, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST’S WIFE: “Ah, I’m getting ahead of myself. I was five and a half. In Betancourt, in the suburbs. My grandmother had a summer home there.”

LENA, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST’S WIFE: “The strangest moment of my life: I looked up and one of the reeds *moved*. Not like a plant, but like a living thing—it stood up and looked at me. Its body unfolded like some antique toy… I’ve never seen anything like it.”

LENA, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST’S WIFE: “I tried, but I was only a child. There was mud and high water, I couldn’t see it anymore. I was just standing there, knee deep in mud, looking around me…”

LENA, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST’S WIFE: “I ran back home to my grandmother and asked her if *reeds* could *walk* and told her they were looking at me.” She chuckles. “Of course, she just laughed at me, but I knew what I’d seen… For years it was a story I told at parties, when I wanted to impress *boys*, that sort of thing.” She brushes her hair back. “Of course, most people just took it as a strange, amusing anecdote. So did I, honestly. But then I met Morell…”
MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “We were on a date, can you imagine? She tells me a story and it’s the most detailed report of the Insulindian phasmid I’ve ever heard. The sounds—she told me it hissed…”
SUGGESTION: [Medium: Success] So that’s how they met. This is *beyond* significant for them.
LENA, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST’S WIFE: “It did, yes—like reeds in a gust of wind.”
MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “…the way it moved, the colour, how some of its limbs were white like marble…” He breathes excitedly. “It matched *perfectly* with what I know from other accounts! It was amazing.”

ARIST: [Easy: Success] Hey! That’s rude!

MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “How could she? Who imagines this? She didn’t *know* about the phasmid. This is the main thing here, what makes it a confirmed sighting—she had no previous knowledge of the insect.”
LOGIC: [Medium: Success] So she couldn’t have made it up. Or imagined it.
LENA, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST’S WIFE: “That’s true, yes. I’m almost certain neither my mother nor my grandmother knew of it. It was only when I started telling my story as a teenager that boys would tell me: ‘Lena…’” She lowers her voice, imitating a boy.

KIM KITSURAGI: “I thought it was a wonderful story, ma’am.” He closes his notes and gives her a simple smile.

LENA, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST’S WIFE: “You’re welcome, sweetie. I do appreciate the chance to relive it, whenever I get one. It was just…” she sighs. “Such an impossibly sunshiny day. So warm.”

We put on the Eight-Eyed Teratorn Tie.

ARIST: [Challenging: Success] Part of you resists the urge to take off the Horrible Necktie, but let’s be real: it only ever gave you bad advice, and you never liked the way that thing looked at you.

MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “Hell no, I had no idea. And I’m still cross with him to be honest. It’s not like him. He’s got his quirks, but dishonesty—or disloyalty—are not one of them.”
GARY, THE CRYPTOFASCIST: “Thanks,” the man mutters in the distance. He doesn’t dare say more.

LENA, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST’S WIFE: “No locusts… but no phasmid, either…”
MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “That’s not *ideal*, but…”
LENA, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST’S WIFE: The old woman’s face lights up. “It just means the Insulindian phasmid is even more clever than we thought!”
RHETORIC: [Medium: Success] She’s engaging in a well-known self-deception called “motivated reasoning.” You should *correct* them.
KIM KITSURAGI: “Of course,” the detective whispers to himself. “More clever…”
SUGGESTION: [Medium: Success] You’re dealing with a subject near and dear to their hearts. It might behoove you to tread *lightly*.
MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “Yes! The *phantasmodea* picked off the locusts and escaped. This is good news! Though we’ll have to reconsider the design of the traps, make them *more* secure…”

MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: The cryptozoologist’s face flushes with indignation. “Of course we have!”
LENA, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST’S WIFE: “Wait, Morell…” the old woman raises a hand. “He may have a point. We have an obligation to rule out other hypotheses…”
MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: His face relaxes. “You’re right, dear. It’s a fair point. But what other explanation could there be?” He turns to you.

INLAND EMPIRE: [Easy: Success] Heartfelt gratitude—but does it feel like closure? What *really* happened?
KIM KITSURAGI: “Thank you, it’s an honour,” he says with a straight face, then turns to you. “We should probably return to our *main* investigation here. This has been refreshing, but…”

MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “A little ‘hooligan’? But what would a *child* want with bugs?”

ARIST: [Medium: Success] Is this dude *kidding*?

KIM KITSURAGI: “Delinquents—my favourite.” It doesn’t sound like it’s really his favourite.

GARY, THE CRYPTOFASCIST: The man turns to his companions. “Well, I see you’ve got all the help you need. I’ll see you tonight at my place—let’s play ‘Suzerainty’ —but no more field trips for me.”
LOGIC: [Easy: Success] After this is your last chance to talk to Gary.
LENA, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST’S WIFE: “Really, Gary?” The woman’s voice is a little shaky suddenly. “We’re *getting* somewhere here. I’d love to play Suzerainty, but…”
GARY, THE CRYPTOFASCIST: “Lena, I’m sorry, but you’re not *getting* anywhere, it was some kids. I know the little mutants around here—leave anything out in the open and they’ll steal it. Even if it’s bugs.” He looks at his tea. “Morell, it’s been fun, really. But I need a bath and I have deliveries to handle. When this tea is done, I gotta run.”
MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “No-no. No need to apologize, Gary. You’ve been more than helpful. We’ll have to take a rain check on that game of ‘Suzerainty’ today though—we’re gonna follow this through.”

MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: He eyes you skeptically. “All right—what cryptids, precisely? I usually discuss these things with *specialists*, so I don’t know what…”
RHETORIC: [Easy: Success] *…we would have to discuss?* he wants to say, but decides against it since you’ve offered to help.

MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “They’re not people, really—some argue that they’re not even animals, as they seem to have evolved directly from trees.” He says it in a self-explanatory, everyday manner.

ARIST: [Medium: Success] That sounds… dumb.

MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “Gary and I painted an entire grove’s worth of trees in slow-drying paint. It was a bright lavender colour. I was hoping one of the willow people would get paint on it and not be able to camouflage itself.”

MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “I chased it with a net—not very elegant, but you can’t be elegant in the field—and, well, it was faster than me!”
KIM KITSURAGI: “A lavender shadow…” He smirks.
MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “I know you think we were snacking on funny mushrooms. It’s easier to mock someone than to admit that the world might be more interesting than you’ve imagined. Furthermore,” he raises his finger. “I am not saying it was a *confirmed* sighting. I am painfully aware of what goes into verifying such things. There is a serious possibility that I saw a squirrel, or a trick of the light. I am my own harshest critic.”

ARIST: [Challenging: Success] That’s probably not true.

MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “Confirmed,” he replies quickly. “It’s 100% verified and meets all the standards of an authentic cryptid sighting.”
LENA, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST’S WIFE: The woman nods, thoughtfully, while her hands smooth over the plaid covering her knees.

MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “I see you’ve been talking about cryptids with Lena,” he smiles. “The kind green ape is one of her favourites.”
EMPATHY: [Medium: Success] A warm wave passes over him. Of course the *kind* green ape is her favourite, he thinks.
MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “We travelled to South Safre to look for it once. Gary and I got stuck in a rainstorm, though, and had to spend most of our time there in a little village. The search was fabulously unsuccessful—but the people were very nice. I’m glad they didn’t understand what Gary was saying about them…”
EMPATHY: [Medium: Success] He’s a good and loyal man despite his ramblings, the elderly cryptozoologist thinks to himself.

MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “*Formerly* the most dangerous, yes… But do you know the most dangerous *living* cryptid?”

MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “Oh, you’re just talking about *humans*. Well, yes, we are quite dangerous, but we’re hardly cryptids.” He corrects his hat and says—as if it’s the most sensible thing in the world…

ARIST: [Medium: Success] This fucking *rules*.

MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “You can’t! That’s what makes it so dreadful… and hard to identify.”

KIM KITSURAGI: “Of course you do.”
MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “The bodies found in the forest are just one piece of physical evidence. There’s more—sightings in Vaasa, reaching back *four centuries*. But, of course, nothing satiates the skepticism of…”
KIM KITSURAGI: “A *detective*.” He finishes the sentence for him, then his tone turns surprisingly mild. “Pardon me, I did not wish to seek conflict. It’s simply my training to question things.”

MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “I haven’t had a chance to travel to *Koko Nur*, no. And I likely never will. The Samarskilt desert region has been embroiled in a small civil war for the last eight years. I fear this mindless barbarism may have wiped out the elusive creature entirely. Sightings of *towering luminosities* have grown rare recently. While they once used to be constant…”
LOGIC: [Medium: Success] Yes. Sightings of *mirages* are constant. A mirage is a constant phenomenon that people have no time to *report* when a war is going on.

MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “Oh, everyone knows about that one, thanks to professor Mijanou being the talk of the town for a time…” He coughs in his fist.

MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “A flightless *cursor owl* found in the Semenine isles. Its long legs permit the Nnong Okk to run faster than any other avian, perhaps any other *animal*, who knows? When it’s not hunting its prey in this manner, the Okk hangs from tree branches, like a bat, waiting to dive on hapless prey below, on the jungle floor.”

MORELL, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: “No offense, officer, but I’m not much of a *pedagogue*—I don’t know what I would’ve done if Lena hadn’t persuaded me to go back to field research. You should ask her, if you want interesting stories. Me—I’m not a people’s person, unless you haven’t noticed. And I don’t make a good lecturer. My strength lies in field work and *persistence.*” He brushes an errant strand of hair from his eye.

ARIST: [Medium: Success] Oh, you *absolutely* noticed he wasn’t a people person.

COMPOSURE: [Challenging: Success] This is a gruff man who’s been ridiculed too many times to feel comfortable talking about what’s dearest to his hear. It’s in his shoulders, his face, his… everything.
LENA, THE CRYPTOZOOLOGIST’S WIFE: “Be friendly, dear,” the woman says. “The detective really likes these critters, we’ve talked about them in great *detail*.”

ARIST: [Easy: Success] Looks like you’ve exhausted this racist. Better find another.

GARTE, THE CAFETERIA MANAGER: “No, you *don’t*. It’s not happening.”
COMPOSURE: [Medium: Success] He tries not to look at you—it’s dangerous to *acknowledge* the karaoke man.

AUTHORITY: [Medium: Success] This is the look of a man who’s *defeated*. He knows he’s out of excuses.

PERCEPTION (HEARING): [Medium: Success] “I’m having it uninstalled,” he mumbles to himself.

ARIST: [Formidable: Success] When you look back over at Gary, Lena, and Morell, they’ve all left during your conversation with Garte. The Hardie boys have vacated their booth as well. Perhaps they overheard the word “karaoke” and decided to split…

ARIST: [Medium: Success] Hell yeah! Get up on that “stage”! Actually now that you’re up here, these lights are really bright. Bright and hot. Oh god, what are you doing?

SAVOIR FAIRE: [Easy: Success] You feel a little dizzy. A little *unsteady*, suddenly.

KARAOKE STAND: Immediately a loud feedback noise startles the room. You feel like an amateur. How are you supposed to hold the mic? Should you just *sing* into it? Where should you stand?

KARAOKE STAND: The bar is full and buzzing with chatter. No one is paying you any attention, but still you feel your knees turn to noodles. Okay, now a couple is looking at you! Even worse…

Smallest Church in Saint-Saëns (Watch this)

ARIST: [Easy: Success] The noise emanating from your throat more closely resembles a dying animal’s desperate cries than anything that could be called “singing”.

KARAOKE STAND: Your words echo in the karaoke mic. People talk in the distance. A couple tries not to look at you.

ARIST: [Legendary: Failure] Oh fuck, ghost!!!!!!
LOGIC: [Medium: Success] Settle down, he probably came back for his keys or something.

KARAOKE STAND: You hear—or *think* you hear—uncomfortable shifting around. A bit of laughter, maybe? No one’s saying anything.

GARTE, THE CAFETERIA MANAGER: “That’s it, I’m unplugging it.” He presses top on the tape carousel. You hear a little whine of feedback and then the mic dies in your hand.
INTERFACING: [Medium: Success] That’s it. You’re unpowered.

ESPRIT DE CORPS: [Easy: Success] I mean it, he thinks.

ARIST: [Challenging: Success] You and Kim… you’re connected through time and space, by an unbreakable bond of cop-hood.

Sweet, sounds dope.

ARIST: [Easy: Success] Go get the dirt on those locusts from Cuno.

CUNO: “No. Cuno doesn’t give a fuck about bugs.”
RHETORIC: [Medium: Success] So he knows locusts are bugs.
CUNOESSE: “Oh my god.” The little one seems distraught. “I told you that shit is lame!”
CUNO: “Shut up, C!”
CUNOESSE: “Now they’re gonna take you to lame-prison!”

CUNOESEE: “Deny everything, Cuno! You need to lawyer up!”

KIM KITSURAGI: “Well, detective, it appears you’ve solved the case…” The lieutenant looks around, writes something in his notebook, and turns to you…

KIM KITSURAGI: “If anything, the presence of the locusts points to the opposite—the phasmid did not take the bait from the traps. It was Cuno. The phasmid doesn’t exist…” He shrugs. “But what do I know?”

ARIST: [Medium: Success] Ignore Kim’s attempt to spoil the cryptid hunt and go talk to Cuno again.

CUNO: “Yeah,” he says slowly, meeting your gaze with sullen defiance. “Cuno took the bugs. So what?”

CUNO: “It’s not Bug Town, it’s the *City of Locusts*, he says, enunciating every syllable. “Locusts aren’t just bug-shit. They come out of the sky like a fucking shadow. Shit *descends*.”
CUNOESSE: “Stoooooop!” she wails from behind the fence, then buries her face in her hands.
CUNO: “You stop! It’s like they’re fucking *night*. Locust City, Night City, City of Rage…”

CUNOESSE: “Cuno, the pig wants to *help* you…” she moans. “That’s how lame it is. Please just don’t say you’re—“
CUNO: “An *artist*?” He pushes his chest out. “Maybe I *am* an artist? You hear that everyone, I’m a fucking *artist* now.”

CUNO: “Cuno made Cuno. Cuno says whatever the fuck he wants! There are no rules here, pig.” He steps closer… “I fucking say ‘I’ when I wanna and ‘Cuno’ when I wanna. Cuno’s free. Cuno’s free to fucking *die*, bitch.”

CUNOESSE: “OH MY GOD, CUNO! He’s gonna make you totally lame in, like, three seconds! Don’t let him, Cuno!”
CUNO: “Yo, fuck you, C. Cuno can be what Cuno wants to be. Cuno’s his own man, Cuno’s *free*!” He tears at the buttons of his shirt, trying to rip them open. They don’t give way. “Cuno made himself into Cuno. Cuno can make himself into *anything*. Cuno can make himself into a *pig* if he wants, Cuno can make himself into a f******t. Cuno doesn’t give a shit.”

Whatever word that is, it is too long to be the word I would assume it was.

CUNOESSE: “Don’t make yourself into a pig, Cuno. You’ll have to take me away…” A leaden silence fills the yard.
PERCEPTION (HEARING): [Medium: Success] In it, you hear snow melting, dripping from the eaves. Someone closing a window.

CUNOESSE: “I don’t believe you!” she disappears entirely behind the fence.
CUNO: For once, the boy is lost for words. He’s turned completely red now, with splotches of white beginning to appear across his face.
AUTHORITY: [Medium: Success] Use this momentary confusion to take *control* of the situation.

CUNO: “It doesn’t mean anything. It’s shit. Cuno just likes to focus. Cuno likes to concentrate on shit, build shit when he’s zipping hard. Fuck…” He turns his face up to the heavens.

CUNO: “Huh…” he mutters to himself.

CUNO: “Bitches think Cuno doesn’t *know* shit…” he says angrily. “The fuck outta here, Cuno’s tired of this shit.”
COMPOSURE: [Challenging: Success] As you leave, you notice his usual rooster-like swaying posture has changed, slowed down. Like clockwork unwinding.

ARIST: [Medium: Success] Don’t stop to think about the rift you just created between them. To the motor carriage!

ALICE: “I’m afraid they’re closed. It says here that the library is open from 10 AM to 6 PM.”

ARIST: [Easy: Success] Wait… that doesn’t match the hours on the library card! It said 9 to 18! Not that that would have helped you!

KIM KITSURAGI: “We should try again during business hours.”

ALICE: “One moment…” You can hear her shuffling through some papers.

KIM KITSURAGI: “We suspect he might have been inebriated when he fell—there were bottles all around him, and traces of vomit on his shirt.”

ALICE: “No field autopsy necessary…” she repeats.
PERCEPTION (HEARING): [Medium: Success] You can hear her quickly typing in the background.

ALICE: “I have assigned the case to lieutenant Kim Kitsuragi. Please follow up on this library lead to identify the man. We’ll send someone to take the body to the morgue.”

ARIST: [Easy: Success] Now, we head back west, near the Capeside Apartments, to see Joyce. We have garbage to scour and questions to ask!

JOYCE MESSIER: “Word has travelled, yes, but nothing of real substance has surfaced yet, I gather?” She smiles, then explains: “Wild Pines has eyes on the intersection—but not ears.”
VISUAL CALCULUS: [Medium: Success] One of the tall buildings overlooking the roundabout—it would give them a read on the entire quarter.

JOYCE MESSIER: “By love, you did!” She inspects the piece of blue plastic, her eyes scanning from left to right.
COMPOSURE: [Medium: Success] Fast, observantly. Like an electronic printer.
LOGIC: [Challenging: Success] She is memorizing your badge number.
JOYCE MESSIER: “She hands it back to you. “Pleased to meet you, Lieutenant double-yefreitor Du Bois. I am glad to see a man of high qualification—the situation is precarious.” Seaweed drips from the badge in your hand. It smells of fish. “What can I help you with, lieutenant-yefreitor?”
KIM KITSURAGI: “How about you share your information on the lynching—now that you’ve seen his badge.”
JOYCE MESSIER: “The goal posts have moved, lieutenant. In the absence of the badge I have informed my employer there will be a probe.”

ARIST: [Medium: Success] God, you’re just getting played by all sides in this, aren’t you?

JOYCE MESSIER: She shakes her head vigorously. “My plan is to share information. The only way to do that *now* is by telling my employers you’ve kept your end. Which I hope you will, because let me tell you: we are in *dire* waters.”
RHETORIC: [Medium: Success] Meaning: the information she has will raise the stakes in this game.

ARIST: [Easy: Success] All right. This is the real shit. Get to it.

JOYCE MESSIER: “On the other hand…” She turns north, to the bombed-out buildings lining the waterfront. “Maybe you’re right.”
EMPATHY: [Challenging: Success] No. The tiny apes are doing all they can to be better. It’s not their fault.

JOYCE MESSIER: “Those would be the communists. Generally speaking, 40 million people got shot in the head during the World Revolution. But the communists—they *all* got shot in the head.”
EMPATHY: [Medium: Success] She’s not gloating. It’s a relieved celebration.

KIM KITSURAGI: “It was a kerfuffle all right,” the lieutenant mumbles from behind his notes.

JOYCE MESSIER: “Oh, lots of people. Even the king got shot in the head, or thrown beneath a horse. Or drowned. Accounts differ. It was unceremonious.” She shakes her head. “Just as well—he wasn’t actually the king. Just the king’s nephew.”

JOYCE MESSIER: “I prefer the term *risk-averse*. King Guillaume was nobody’s fool—he could smell a PR disaster brewing. So he got out alive and his nephew Frissel got shot in his place…”

JOYCE MESSIER: “Liberals are usually middle class people, detective. Or the remaining gentry. The beneficiaries of the pre-revolutionary *arrangement*.

JOYCE MESSIER: “They didn’t *win* so much as survive. *We* were the last ones standing when the war ended—everyone else got shot in the head, remember?”

JOYCE MESSIER: “The Coalition of Nations. Graad, Mesque, Vesper, Messina, Oranje and Sur-La-Clef—the armed centre of the world. They landed here and ended the Revolution. It was the *moralist* thing to do.”

JOYCE MESSIER: “The moralists believe in keeping everything exactly the way it is. They believe in mineral rights—and not shooting people in the head… At least not in the same *manner and volume* as the others do. They are the long-standing provisional rulers of Revachol now—the Coalition Government. This is their Zone of Control. They embolden the RCM with crumbs of the same law they took. Technically speaking—*you* are a moralist.”

JOYCE MESSIER: “The Turn-of-the-Century Revolution?” She smiles, mischievously. “Don’t answer it—it’s a trick question.”

JOYCE MESSIER: “Why, you and I, officer—“ She spreads her arms, raincoat flapping in the wind. “Our lives in the Zone of Control.”

JOYCE MESSIER: “A city state divided into free market zones. Under the *everlasting* interregnum of the Coalition of Nations. And you, of course—the Citizens Militia.”
ESPRIT DE CORPS: [Medium: Success] The clatter of typewriter keys fills the main hall of a re-appropriated Silk Mill—Precinct 41. Chad Tillbrook presses ENTER. Outside: Officer *Elfboy* Willians slams the door of an armoured motor carriage…

JOYCE MESSIER: “Modernity. They developed the marvels of inter-isolary communication, telematic milieus, radiation, coloured plastics. Meanwhile, in Revachol West, the *aftermath* continues for the fifth decade.”

JOYCE MESSIER: “I’ve no right to be dissatisfied,” she shakes her head. “This shirt is Barbara Muskova. This raincoat is impervious to rain and is guaranteed for a hundred years, my daughters will wear it. No, it’s just…” She looks at the crumbling tenements, paint flecking from the stone…

JOYCE MESSIER: “Good question.” She cranes her neck: “What would *you* have done differently?”

ARIST: [Challenging: Success] Sometimes there’s only bad options.

JOYCE MESSIER: “Then you would have died, most likely. Not far from here—maybe even *right* here, during the Beachhead, defending the coast the day the Coalition took the city.”

SHIVERS: The wind stops, there is silence on the dark water of the Martinaise inlet…
PERCEPTION (HEARING): [Medium: Success] A dog barks, a gunshot echoes off the walls of some distant building.

JOYCE MESSIER: “They are what they are—who knows, an afterbloom may yet come… Anyway, enough sentimentality. Is there anything else you want to know?”

JOYCE MESSIER: “It’s a neurological disorder, caused by a lack of vitamin B in the brain. Symptoms include retrograde amnesia. It’s… quite serious—you should get yourself checked out.”
EMPATHY: [Medium: Success] She conveys it in short, cold bursts, trying not to invest too deeply in the condition of this doomed detective.

ESPRIT DE CORPS: To his left, his partner Emil Mollins whispers: “You heard what happened to Tequila Sunset? In Martinaise?” “Yes, he lost his mind,” Tillbrook answers, finger on the trigger. “Don’t worry, Emil…” He pulls on it slowly. Slowly now… “He’ll find it again.”

JOYCE MESSIER: “Nothing more nor less than the de facto law enforcement body of post-revolutionary Revachol, detective.”
KIM KITSURAGI: “Yes,” the lieutenant steps in to make a gesture encompassing you both: “*We* are the Revachol Citizens’ Militia.”

JOYCE MESSIER: “The RCM’s responsibilities are defined by the Emergency, Wayfarer, and Ailments Acts—three pieces of legislation keeping the city in a—let’s be honest—laissez-faire stasis to the benefit of foreign capital.”

JOYCE MESSIER: “There’s nothing *basic* about your role, detective. It’s true that the RCM keeps everything the way our seemingly *permanent* provisional rulers like it…” She leans in.

JOYCE MESSIER: “The post-revolutionary decade was a disaster for the Coalition Government. Revachol in the Twenties was hell, especially on the west side of the river: gang warfare, a botched privatization scheme, a nuclear pile meltdown… They called it the *International Zone*—because no nation wanted to claim responsibility. The RCM restored peace where the Coalition failed. A true-blue citizens’ initiative,” she smiles. “They will never forgive you.”
KIM KITSURAGI: “That’s *somewhat* of an exaggeration,” the lieutenant interjects. “In reality, ours is a mutually beneficial arrangement. Revacholians get to keep the peace in Revachol, and the Coalition doesn’t have to worry about it…” he coughs. “Anyway, sorry to intrude. Please continue.”

JOYCE MESSIER: “Hmh…” She hums.

JOYCE MESSIER: “I am the vilest of the vile,” she says with a sudden flash of teeth. “A traitor, a devourer of nations and infants… I am an Ultra.”

JOYCE MESSIER: “Yes,” she nods slowly. “I am the nether creature of the forbidden swamp. I pushed the king under a *shitwagon* and betrayed the Revolution. My kind surrendered the nation to financial colonists… I can see you thought we’d gone extinct. After all, no sane person identifies as an *ultraliberal* anymore. Not in broad daylight.” She looks into your eye. “You’re a man of the left, no? Tell me—now that I’ve *uncoiled* myself—are you repulsed?”
EMPATHY: [Easy: Success] In her green eyes you see a mixture of truth and self-satire. Decades of guilt *and* pride.
SUGGESTION: [Medium: Success] Forgive her.

JOYCE MESSIER: “I’m afraid you’ll find that *every* woman is a Devil Woman, detective. There are only *aesthetic* differences between one and the other. Honestly…” she paused. “I may have even *preferred* it, had the communards won. Who knows? They might really have built something better. But they didn’t, because they lost.”

JOYCE MESSIER: “With due respect to our overlords, the eternal *caretaker* government that keeps Martinaise a monument to the efficacy of its artillery…”
SHIVERS: [Medium: Success] While a gentle wind sweeps the streets in the rebuild East, light drizzle washing it clean, lights go up and motor carriages circulate the tracts…
JOYCE MESSIER: “I would not have relinquished sovereignty to the Coalition. Not here in Martinaise—and not in the Stella Maris or Delta beachheads either. If not for my own sake…”
COMPOSURE: She realizes her small, cold fists are clenched. She loosens them.
JOYCE MESSIER: “…the for my daughters’. We had an obligation to defend our sovereignty. We should have *burned* the whole isola down rather than let them have it.”

JOYCE MESSIER: “Yes, I suppose I am. But I wouldn’t be a patriot anywhere but here.”

JOYCE MESSIER: “Ah!” She spreads her arms almost as wide. “*This* is the pier of Rue de Saint-Ghislaine 33A, where the tenants have been kind enough to rent me a slot…”

JOYCE MESSIER: “A pre-revolutionary tenement. Old buildings are called *tenements*, you see, and new buildings *batiments*, after *les batiments noveau*. But 33A and 33B are not *noveau*, they’re old.” She looks up at the crumbling facade…

JOYCE MESSIER: “Mostly the urban middle class, I believe. This was once *primo* real estate. Before the cannons lopped four or five stories off…”

PERCEPTION (SIGHT): [Medium: Success] You could be wrong—but from here it appears as it she’s running the brush *across* her throat, in a sawing motion.

JOYCE MESSIER: “Yes—you and I belong to the supraculture. We’re common, the herd. The music on the radio, the food in the chain restaurant—those are all too *popular* for the girl in the old-lady rags.”

JOYCE MESSIER: “I can’t. That’s how simple it is. One may dye their hair green and wear their grandma’s coat all they want. Capital has the ability to subsume all critiques into itself. Even those who would *critique* capital end up *reinforcing* it instead…”

JOYCE MESSIER: “What world?” The fading pearls of her eyes look to the sea. “The only one, I suppose—the world of matter and its pale antipode…”

JOYCE MESSIER: “Great bodies of water, forest-covered surfaces… clusters of light where the cities lie. You’ve seen the montage, we all have—this world is enough,” she concludes.

JOYCE MESSIER: “Not in this case, no. That sounds more like something the Mesque petrofascists might say…” Her gaze wanders.
ENCYLCOPEDIA: [Medium: Success] The Confederate Republic of Mesque—the world’s largest state by territory—has fallen into an especially nihilistic strain of nationalism lately.

JOYCE MESSIER: “That’s looking less and less likely, detective. You wouldn’t know it from the tabloids, but the ORG nations have been launching weather balloons into the lower ionosphere since the thirties.”
ENCYCLOPEDIA: [Trivial: Success] ORG: Occident-Revachol-Graad.

JOYCE MESSIER: “Yes.” She pauses. “Pale covers 72 % of the surface. There are grey flares and prominences, even arcs above entire isolas… The images are blurry, but if there was a sphere in there it certainly looks like it fractured a long time ago.”

ARIST: [Medium: Success] You’ve stopped breathing at some point. Just… just relax. It’s all gonna be fine…

JOYCE MESSIER: “They say there is a rarefied envelope of matter surrounding the darkened disc of our planet. That is, if we are still living on a planet. Or, to speak more plainly, imagine vast swathes of land disrupted by nothingness. I am sorry, dear,” she looks around. “It must sound quite terrifying through the acute encephalopathy. Even scientific positivism isn’t entirely convinced about what we’re dealing with here…”

ARIST: [Easy: Success] It’s crazy. She’s crazy. Don’t listen to her, she’s clearly completely out of her fucking gourd.

JOYCE MESSIER: “You have mis-imagined it. I don’t have the power to convey to you the effect and geometry of the images that depict our world from below low orbit. It’s…”

SHIVERS: [Medium: Success] The cold seeps into you. The air is heavy with 80% humidity.
INLAND EMPIRE: [Easy: Success] Suddenly you’re conscious of yourself standing there, on… whatever this all is. Your arms hang down by your sides.

JOYCE MESSIER: “The pale is not, technically speaking, part of *reality*…”

AUTHORITY: [Medium: Success] His voice is low, but firm. All she can say is…

ARIST: [Easy: Success] No! Don’t let Kim stop this! Find out more, you have to find out more!

JOYCE MESSIER: “I don’t think your colleague would appreciate that—he has already been so patient with this whole… exercise.”

ARIST: [Medium: Success] Sorry Kim, but this is something we *have* to know.

Oh, come on!

ARIST: [Easy: Success] Left hanging on the mystery of the “pale,” your mind is reeling.