: Do you remember last week?
: Meh, bits and pieces. Why?
We were on our way to our first city council meeting. It had been a week and a half since we had found ourself in charge of this city after an alcohol-soaked poker game. The previous week had been...chaotic, to say the least. Mostly it had involved me wandering around the town while Deryl stayed in the city hall and went through various documents. I tried to stay away from him when he was doing that. Mostly because if I was around he would start talking to me about numbers and math.
I finally had a good idea what this town had, and the answer was "not much." What the town did have plenty of was...weirdness.
The city was laid out oddly. Almost in a perfect square. And the weirdest thing was that for the life of me I couldn't find the road that we came in on. Or any road out. But that couldn't be right. I mean, a town with no way in or out? This wasn't Silent Hill, for fuck's sake. I must just have missed it. It wouldn't be the first time I missed something obvious.
The other thing I noticed was that there seemed to be a lot of empty buildings around. Multi-story office buildings with boarded up windows dotted the town, and I had driven past entire blocks of abandoned houses. Obviously this town had already experienced a boom and bust.
The black/gray buildings are abandoned. Deryl will post a gameplay runthrough this weekend for the two or three people who never played this game before, but needless to say having a bunch of abandoned buildings in your town is not good.
Also of note was the two gas power plants on the end of town. It seemed odd that there were two, but Deryl had assured me from his examination of the records that two were indeed needed to supply the town with adequate power, small as it was. In fact, an upgrade would soon be required if the town was going to expand. This was something we would have to bring up with the city council.
Up on one of the hills overlooking the town to the north was the school. Since the town was pretty small, one building was adequate to house kindergarten through 12th grade students. There was plenty of space up there, and the Internet suggestions we had received pointed this area out as a good potential area for development. I filed this away for later. Maybe they would pay us before any serious business came up; then we could get my car back and skip town and be done with this madness.
The downtown region of Chatfield (I really hated that name). From my observations it appeared that there was more park space than there was commercial space being used. This boded quite well. A police station, a fire station, and a hospital were all there. A hospital in this small a town surprised me, but all indications were that it was fairly state-of-the-art. And the city hall, where we were now, was simply a nondescript-looking office building.
I realized that Deryl had kept talking while I had been thinking about the town.
: So, what did you put?
: What did I put for what?
: The new name. You gave the official town name change sheet to me earlier but I didn't get a chance to look at it before I faxed it to the council. What did you end up putting in for the town's new name?
: What? No, I sent it to you so that you would write in a new name. I'm the mayor, I can't be bothered with stuff like that. I was elected to lead, not to read...er, I mean write.
: You weren't elected at all! You won the town in a poker game you don't even remember!
: That's beside the point. And look, the name on City Hall has already been painted over. It's now the...City Name City Hall?
We found out later that when the council received the sheet, the top of the form was smudged because their fax machine was twenty years old. The place Deryl had been supposed to write the new name looked to them like the actual name that he wanted, and since it said New City Name:_____________ and the "name" part was smudged, they figured the name we wanted was City Name. In retrospect, it was completely ridiculous and retarded, and should have tipped me off to the insanity that would be awaiting me further down the road.
Anyway, we marched into the city hall, and were greeted by these losers: the City Name City Council. I couldn't remember any of their names, mostly because I didn't care to. I figured I would give them all nicknames along the way and remember them by that, just like I did with my siblings.
: The first guy I noticed was the Fire Chief. He was easy to spot since he was in uniform. I had already decided on his nickname. "Sparky."
: Next to him was a big man in a too-small suit. He had the look of someone who was once solid muscle, but was now just solid. He also was incredibly jittery, and the huge mug of coffee he held was sloshing all over the place.
: This woman creeped me out to no end. It was probably the fact that that big grin of hers never left her face for a second Also she never blinked. Turns out she is in charge of the cities' health care system. Wonderful. I really, really hope I never get sick.
: The only other woman on the City Name City Council (saying that never gets old) was the one I had met before. She had some vague job description that boiled down to her being in charge of what ordinances got enacted.
: This is the president of the school board. I was going to call him "Token" but if he ends up not having a sense of humor I don't want to be the first person ever to be simultaneously sued by the South Park guys and the NAACP. And, as it turned out, he was to be the least crazy person on the entire council.
: Our finance guy is also was incredibly creepy, but more in the "too-friendly uncle" way instead of the "hell-demon" way. Since he was also in charge of the cities loans, I wanted nothing to do with him.
: And this guy was in charge of the budget. He was utterly unremarkable. I might just call him "budget guy" from here on out.
: And finally, there was Jim. I never gave Jim a nickname, because I knew he would kill me if I did. Jim radiated pure, unadulterated fury. One only needed to look into his eyes to see that he hated everyone and everything. Jim is the head of the transit department in City Name. And Jim is why the transit budget never, ever gets cut.
These were the faces that greeted us that first council meeting. And, as apparently he did every meeting, Jim spoke first.
: HURRY THE FUCK UP, I WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE!
: Don't mind him, he's always like that.
: Ok then. Ahem. Members of the City Name City Council...
: Yes, about that. I have to say that we're not entirely thrilled with you suddenly changing the name of our fine town, and especially to something so...odd.
: Well, it's not my fault that the previous name sucked, alright? Now, I didn't want to be your mayor, but I am, and as such I intend to do...mayor stuff. For one thing, how the hell do you get out of this town? We need to get a connection going with the closest town...
: THERE'S NO FUCKING MONEY!
: Ok then. Um, well...
I had to think fast. Mayor stuff, they were expecting mayor stuff! What would a mayor do in a situation like this?
: Well, there was also an idea to zone for residential around the school...?
That was all it took. The council launched into a lengthy debate about this issue. I didn't really pay much attention, because it was really, really boring. Fortunately I had the foresight to bring my DS to the meeting, so I spent most of it trying to prove Maggie Byrd innocent. Deryl had slipped out a while ago, something about budget stuff and "not needing approval." After the meeting ended he presented me with this tax rate proposal.
Turns out we didn't need council approval to raise and lower taxes. Who knew?
The next day, I hitched a ride up to the school to check out the new zone.
I hadn't been up to the school before. All this road looked new, and I wondered why the road would have already been here if nobody was planning on building anything here. But I filed that oddity away to mull over another time. It would be but the first of such oddities I would need to "mull over."
Ok, Deryl will post a "how to play" update this weekend, and in that update we'll present some options for where we can go next! Here's a preview of things to come, though:
Sweet new digs.