28th Feb 2020, 5:47 PM
Ask about Thale, and phones

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Ask about Thale, and phones
The Thale incident.

You've definitely heard that mentioned before.

"What's the Thale incident?," you finally ask.

"Hooo boy," Marlow begins. "Where do I start?"

Afu smiles. "It's like, the biggest thing to happen that nobody heard about."

Marlow nods. "Most of the anti-corporate fervor you're seeing in politics lately was sparked by the Thale situation. A whole lot of the seedy shit being done by the rich got exposed over the course of like, a month."

"Have you ever seen a survival video?," Afu asks you.

You shake your head.

Marlow takes a deep breath. "So. Rich people are monsters."

You nod. "Yeah, I've picked up that much."

Marlow nods in return. "The elites used to play this game--"

"They still do," Afu chuckles. "Survival videos are still huge, bro."

Marlow sighs, but continues. "So the elites play this game where they'll kidnap a migrant worker or a vagrant or someone else that nobody will miss, trap them in a mansion or a warehouse with a bunch of cameras and a well armed killer... and then they sell the footage on the black market. This was confined to like... the upper echelons of the wealthy and sick, blank tapes with billion dollar price tags. Torture porn for rich sadists, basically. Slasher films, but for real."

"Damn," you blurt out. "That's pretty fucked up."

"Oh, it gets worse," Marlow says. "It always gets worse. When one guy with a chainsaw chasing an innocent girl around wasn't exciting enough, they started mixing up the formula. Wild animals. Death traps. Kidnapping a bunch of people and forcing them to kill each other."

"That's when the videos started making their way to the deep web," Afu adds, "and showing up on torrent sites. It didn't really blow up until the hospital video, though."

Marlow shakes his head, visibly pausing. "The hospital video was... it was something else. Artificially engineered predators. Like, straight up living, breathing monsters, made of bioprinted human parts, were set loose on the building. While it was still being used."

"Like, meat sacks crawling around with half-finished brains and stuff," Afu adds.

"It was grotesque," Marlow confirms. "And it was a very real slaughter. Skeptics spent months trying to debunk the hospital video, even after the body count was confirmed as legit. Only a handful of people made it out of that hospital alive."

"One of which was Doctor Leo Finch," adds Afu.

Wait, seriously?

"Oh, yeah," Marlow says with a finger point, "the whole thing's so bizarre I sometimes forget Dr. Finch was part of it. Yeah, before he became a big deal he was in the hospital video."

"The guy hasn't aged a day, either," Afu chuckles. "Anyway, the highlights from the hospital's surveillance that day were edited down, released online, and went hella viral. Or... y'know, as viral as raw video of real people dying can get."

"The feds got a hold of the tape," Marlow continues, "opened an investigation into the sources, and... well, they stirred up a hornet's nest. Turns out a bunch of people were involved in getting that hospital video made--and covering it up. I mean, it was an entire hospital full of people, and they weren't the only victims. Anyway, all the companies and shell corporations and random rich assholes tied to the hospital thing were also dealing in illegal weaponry, human trafficking, live human experiments INCLUDING splicing human DNA with extraterrestrial DNA, mind control drugs, like a hundred cybercrimes and a couple thousand different flavors of tax fraud. All of that came to light because of that one video leaking."

"But who or what is Thale?," you ask.

"Thale Energy's where it all boiled over," Marlow states. "Police, federal officials, and a number of third parties that had been screwed over by the corporations all basically got into a gang war with the corporations, their crooked cops, their mercenaries and all their lab grown bioweapons. Ninety percent of the footage was un-airable. Aside from how bloody and violent it was, I don't think most of the public could handle it. I'm talking, like, building-sized skinless monstrosities growing and spreading like giant cancers, ripping each other apart, shooting lightning out of dozens of giant eyes. Blood everywhere. It's complete bedlam. It's like watching the apocalypse happen."

"Total chaos," Afu confirms. "It's hard to watch."

"So Thale was just..." This is a lot to process. "The name of the building where it went down?"

"I mean, Thale Energy was probably named after somebody," Marlow replies. "Some rich, dead asshole, I imagine. I don't even know how involved Thale Energy the company was with all that, I just know they're long gone now. I don't know if everything that went down had a single perpetrator behind it at all--it was more like... this is just what capitalism does. People with that kind of money and authority, with no checks or oversight... they become detached. They get isolated and go off the deep end, and there's no one to tell them no when they decide to do something incredibly fucked up. All those awful things the Thale incident revealed... that stuff is going on everywhere, and that there wasn't one, solitary human being behind it just highlighted how it's a symptom of the disease. This isn't about bad actors or the wrong people becoming billionaires... it's a power no one should have. It puts humans in a position above being human."

Afu nods. "It's real hard to even become a billionaire without... like... running sweat shops or dealing in blood diamonds or whatever, anyway. Like. Bro. You don't keep your hands clean and make that kind of money."

"Even if the details of the Thale incident are still kinda blurry," Marlow continues, "--Like, one of the companies may have been funding a cult, the feds might have okay'd the use of combat androids, that all depends on who you ask--but the general tone of it all stuck. People are less willing to put up with corporate malevolence now. CEOs are getting exposed, monopolies are getting busted, and way more weird shit is coming to light."

Afu adds, "AND we got Infohazard, my favorite podcast out of it."

"I do feel like it went downhill after that one host got arrested the second time," comments Marlow.

"The first time was amazing, though!" Afu turns to you. "So, Grizwald--one of the old hosts of the podcast--he finally got busted 'cuz he and the other host were always breaking into labs and offices and revealing what corporations were doing, but then he kept broadcasting from police custody. Even the other host, Lydia, she was like "how are you doing this" and all Grizwald would say was--"

"I'm that. damn. good," chuckles Marlow.

Afu grins wide and continues. "When the cops finally made it so he couldn't do the podcast from his cell, he just... fucking escaped. Showed up at the studio like it was no big deal. Like. Bro."

"When they finally caught Grizwald the second time, Lydia moved onto other things," Marlow explains. "She still guest-hosts the show sometimes, but it's not the same. They've got some new guy handling it by himself."

"Sometimes Grizwald still calls in," Afu chuckles. "The police have caught him like five times, he just keeps breaking back out."

"Anyway," Marlow concludes, "the Thale thing went down... three years ago?"

"Yeah," Afu confirms, "it had to be about three years ago."

"It's subtly affected the whole country since then," continues Marlow. "Thale is why you're seeing places like Deepfish Eatery and Hasty Entertainment going under. Foulness had been happening for years or even decades behind the scenes, but people are speaking out and fighting back now. We've seen how bad it can get, and even if not everybody's seen the Thale footage..."

"Or that hospital video," says Afu with a small shudder.

"...The collective unconscious picks up all that," states Marlow. "It was bad enough only a few people needed to see it, and the rest of mankind can feel it."



Hmm.



It's a pretty crazy story, but also...

"...So Leopold Finch was seriously involved?" Dr. Finch is a world renown scientist and--maybe more famously--a very aggressive political activist. It's weird to think he fought his way out of a snuff film.

It does explain why he hates capitalism so much.

"Oh yeah," Marlow replies. "If it wasn't for him we wouldn't have a clue what those companies were doing. The rich have access to technology and data and resources we can only dream of--all the insane bioweapons and test tube monsters that showed up for the Thale Energy bust would have looked like an act of God if Leopold Finch hadn't broke it all down in his memoirs. ...Memoirs that almost started a civil war in the scientific community, for the record. The man's either a genius or a total nutcase."

"It can be both," Afu says. "I hope he or his husband run for president."

Marlow chuckles. "Leopold Finch is more likely to burn the office down and start a socialist regime on the ashes. I'm not judging, mind, it can't be any worse. ...Caius Finch as president could work. I'd pay to see it, at least."

The more you think about it

you've seen footage from protests and courtroom recordings where Dr. Finch's husband, who is genetically engineered and huge, was barely enough to keep Leopold from physically brawling lawyers and congressmen.

He is very scrappy for a scientist.

Leo Finch having survived some insane billionaire's deathtrap video explains a lot.




A completely unrelated thought occurs to you.

"Do either of you know where I could get... like... a cheap burner phone...?"

"Does it need to be aerodynamic?," Afu asks with a grin. "I can get you a phone. You're coming back tomorrow, right?"

"Yeah," you say with a nod. "How much do you want for the phone...?"

Afu shakes his head. "Bro. I have so many phones. I'll bring you one tomorrow."

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28th Feb 2020, 6:59 PM
Leafia_Barrett
Can we, like... keep these guys on speed dial? It seems like they are our brand of geek, and lord knows we need at least one other person like that in our lives, preferably a couple of them.
28th Feb 2020, 7:08 PM
Xylas_Incarnum
+1, though given how Afu is going to just up and give us a burner the next time we meet them being on speed dial is probably a given. Confirmation wouldn't hurt any though.
28th Feb 2020, 7:28 PM
28th Feb 2020, 7:43 PM
29th Feb 2020, 6:03 AM
28th Feb 2020, 7:06 PM
Xylas_Incarnum
and now it's not metagaming to look up Infohazard anymore so let's go do that after... what were we doing again? going to see Kate at work or sommat? Eitherway something to do once we get home.
28th Feb 2020, 7:14 PM
Might as well ask for any Infohazard episode recommendations before we leave, if we are.
28th Feb 2020, 7:52 PM
28th Feb 2020, 8:07 PM
28th Feb 2020, 9:12 PM
28th Feb 2020, 7:14 PM
All of the above, and also ask about Finch's memoir. He lived through a lot of spooky stuff -- maybe we can use it as a "How Not to Die" guide (e.g. if you get impaled by a hospital monster, have a blood goddess on hand to help you out)?
28th Feb 2020, 7:29 PM
I don't think we can get one of those("Blood goddess") on short notice
28th Feb 2020, 7:46 PM
Right, that's why we should find out where we can get one *now* so that we don't have to do it all at the last minute when we *do* get stabbed.
28th Feb 2020, 7:57 PM
Sadly lacking in blood goddesses yes, but the memoir may well help!

I'm assuming he'd publish it under a pay-what-you-want model, too, so it shouldn't be too expensive or even cost anything to get a pdf.
28th Feb 2020, 7:28 PM
This chapter is so much fan service and i have problem with absolutely none of it, I'm over the moon right now.
28th Feb 2020, 8:38 PM
29th Feb 2020, 7:11 AM
2nd Mar 2020, 12:21 PM
Agreed. This is glorious.
28th Feb 2020, 8:06 PM
undeadDreamer
Afu is a bro. Tell him as much and thank him.
28th Feb 2020, 9:13 PM
29th Feb 2020, 6:06 AM
28th Feb 2020, 8:09 PM
Snervalton
Could "the first lie" have something to do with all the cover-ups by the rich and powerful that are mentioned in this update? Or would it be something more personal to Plaire?
28th Feb 2020, 9:14 PM
Limrix
I still think it's most likely to be "Thou shall surely not die" with relation to the dream dungeon.
28th Feb 2020, 9:24 PM
Hari_Seldon
WARNING BLOOD IS MINE SPOILERS:

BIM's supernatural entities were not Christian, so if The First Lie is related to them it could mean anything I don't know enough to narrow it down.
29th Feb 2020, 2:33 AM
The First Lie, if it’s that personal, might well be “I have a right to know.”
29th Feb 2020, 3:04 AM
Eheh, the first lie in this universe was about being a "vent hermit" - BIM, page 27.
28th Feb 2020, 8:16 PM
These folks are awesome. Let’s make a commitment to keep them updated on our progress in the Spooky House. And maybe ask if there’s anything we can do to help them out (that isn’t like money or sexual favors or... well okay most things we can’t help with actually) because allies are good to have and alliances should go both ways. I imagine they’ll be most interested in just learning more about our house though!
28th Feb 2020, 8:29 PM
MMMMMM YESSS! MY SUSPICIONS WERE CORRECT! THIS IS ALL ONE WORLD! What else could be brought up about all that crap that happened.
28th Feb 2020, 9:22 PM
Limrix
This was great. Afu was great. Grizwald was great. +1 to everyone. Maybe we can look for burnthecity online later.
28th Feb 2020, 9:45 PM
AgentKuga
i a m s o h a p p y r i g h t n o w
29th Feb 2020, 12:39 AM
Frission
Yeeeee ^_^ The thought of Caius barely being able to hold The Finch back fills me with unbridled glee. xD
29th Feb 2020, 12:57 AM
President Caius Finch does have a nice ring to it.
29th Feb 2020, 6:23 AM
"Kidnapping a bunch of people and forcing them to kill each other."

I can't believe Dangan Ronpa and 999 are canon to this universe.

Also +1ing telling the two of them they've been genuinely super great and helpful
29th Feb 2020, 3:38 PM
Morgenstern was not kidding about this update and it was totally worth the delay!

In the interest of keeping our brain from exploding due to exposition, I think we should bid adieu and address other matters. There's still trying to find Kate and we still need to play a video game before the end of the day.

Also we need to do something about our perpetual poverty. No ideas in mind we can do today, just a consideration.
29th Feb 2020, 4:56 PM
Snervalton
There could be time yet today for Plaire to make another video to make more money.
Edit for stuff I just thought of: Is there a way for Plaire to expand her viewing audience or do something else that will increase the amount of money she makes per video?
1st Mar 2020, 3:33 PM
pkrankow
I was hoping the Plair-Cici gameplay could be publishable.
29th Feb 2020, 4:31 PM
Yay for afterstory. *cheers
Lol yes to aerodynamic phones. Even better if there are any boomerang ones about or an old indestructible Nokia that would sooner dent a steel wall than suffer damage.
An easy way to bring down Mondol as whole if ever required would be to find actual proof or alllude to them being part of this same corrupted rich group in as public a setting as possible.
29th Feb 2020, 6:42 PM
Hari_Seldon
Plaire should ask Afu to give her a phone that is NOT MONDOL or anyone that would spy on her (remember Mondol doing that to Cici at her apartment?). So basically a NOT MONDOL burner flip phone or an iPhone smartphone (Apple is famous for not letting apps spy on Apple customers).
29th Feb 2020, 8:11 PM
Snervalton
Beggars can't be choosers but yeah, that'd be a good idea.
29th Feb 2020, 6:47 PM
Hari_Seldon
Don't forget to ask The Back Room people about how to cure Cici of her possible sleeper agent trigger that is seeing magic. And how to not trigger it in the first place.
29th Feb 2020, 8:11 PM
1st Mar 2020, 7:07 AM
YetAnother
Use that brochure that we still didn't manage to read on Marlow to get his opinion on the bullshit percentage.
1st Mar 2020, 7:51 AM
Snervalton
+1
Edit: Marlow seems to have a very well-developed bullshit-detector, something that could prove to be very useful in the future.
1st Mar 2020, 3:31 PM
1st Mar 2020, 6:09 PM
I both do and do not want to suggest Plaire trying to get a hold of Dr. Leo Finch. If she did it would almost certainly lead to more spoilers about BiM for new readers who happen to find MDA first.

I suppose even if we do *try* to contact him, Morgenstern can just prevent it behind the scenes (having the e-mail get intercepted and deleted, say), depending on how much he wants to reveal about BiM.
2nd Mar 2020, 6:16 AM
pkrankow
A political figure replying to a constituent is usually in the form of a letter. I think it would take more than a little effort to get any further response. Even a phone call in reply would be unexpected unless this went overtly like BiM with the bloodsport.