28th May 2020, 7:07 PM
Tell her about Franklin's game

 <<First     Latest>>   

Tell her about Franklin's game
"I make videos," you tell her, "about games. I just found out Franklin may have been a developer on an arcade game that seriously influenced the medium--it would be a huge deal if I could interview him about his experience."

Maria continues to eye you with some skepticism.

She's probably working through it. She knows you're broke; that fits extremely well with you being a professional content creator. Nothing you're saying is technically a lie, but it still kind of feels like one.

"I've been helping him build his own space garden," she finally relents. "I think he's been gathering parts from some of the abandoned buildings around town."

"Space garden...?"

Maria smiles a little, and nods to one of the various machines hooked into the walls of the grocery store. "As long as you have power, you can grow anything--anywhere, even in outer space. I use space gardens to supply the store, but what I really want to do is help everyone build them. We could have solved world hunger years ago if this technology could just spread faster."

Huh. So Franklin's probably trying to grow his own food.

She has a point about the obscurity of the tech; if it works like she's describing, that's kind of insane--and you've definitely never heard of it. It does look like that, though, on closer inspection; all of the machines are like... vats, or cases, housing various plants. Some of them are--as Maria mentioned--for supply; near the door, a device is growing carrots in real time, where everyone can see them. Deeper into the store, though, the space gardens are also used for decoration--growing flowers you're pretty sure aren't normal for this region.

All of the machines look like they're made from spare parts. If it's good enough for a grocery store, it isn't too outrageous to think Franklin could be building a few space gardens with whatever he can strip from the old sections of town. It explains why he's been seen at the junkyard so much, too.

That does raise another question, though.

"...Where's he planning to put his plants?," you ask. "You said space gardens need power, right?"

"Right," confirms Maria. "A whole lot of power. EMF induction batteries aren't enough. I've been working with car batteries, trying to make a portable version, but I'm not there yet. ...Neither is anyone else on the internet. So for now, you have to wire it straight to a power source." She adjusts her glasses, and scowls a little. "...Now that I am thinking about it, I don't know where he's planning to put his plants." The scowl deepens. "Franklin is homeless, but he is pretty wily. Maybe he knows where to get free power."

She says that, but her face does not appear convinced.


Cici and Kate return.

"Alright," Kate begins, "what actually happened?"

Maria looks to the broken window. "They threw a beer bottle, with a... you know, the--"

"A Molotov cocktail," says Maria's dad, who you had almost forgotten was standing there.

"Right!" confirms Maria. "They threw the cocktail first, it bounced off the glass. They broke the glass with a brick, and then followed up with another cocktail."

"The store reinforced its glass last year, after that third robbery," Kate helpfully states. "Not leading with the brick was a rookie mistake anyway."

"That's what I said!," Maria agrees with an enthusiastic point. "It was someone who is bad at this."

"The brick was new," her father adds. "It did not look like a used brick. And it was not from around here."

Wait, seriously? "They brought their own brick...?"

"So that shit was planned," Kate points out. "Nobody was incited to do jack."

But why bring a brick? A new brick? You can FIND a brick, like... anywhere. They're all over the place. They're bricks. It doesn't even need to be a brick; you can find all kinds of brick-like things to throw.

Someone who is bad at this. No, it's more than that--it's someone who doesn't get out to a part of town like this, maybe doesn't get out much at all. A kid or a teenager would know better. You know better. They'd have to be less likely to think about something like this than you are. Where would you even get a new brick? If it was from their house, it'd be an obvious way to connect them to the crime. Did they steal a brick? From the brick store?

"What kind of beer was it?," Cici suddenly asks.


There's a brief pause as everyone gives Cici a ... slightly confused look, but Maria answers. "It was Heisler beer...?"

"MondolMall sells that, AND has a home improvement store," Cici replies. "I bet the bricks they sell look just like that one, too."

"Cool," Kate remarks. "That makes it more obvious Mondol did it, AND makes it harder to prove--literally anyone could have bought that shit. Half the town shops at that stupid mall."

You examine the floor... but you can barely tell where the Molotov even landed. "What stopped the fire?"

Maria smirks. "I built the sprinkler system."

 <<First     Latest>>   

   

Rate this comic:

X X X X X
average rating: 5

28th May 2020, 7:17 PM
Complement her sprinkler system?
28th May 2020, 9:31 PM
28th May 2020, 10:47 PM
Anotherdamntimeclone
+1 and thank her for the help.
28th May 2020, 11:56 PM
+1 and ask about the sprinkler system
29th May 2020, 6:11 AM
+1 Great job ensuring the safety of your own store! More people should follow her example; If it don't work, and you're to poor to buy a new one, learn how to make your own!

Ooh! And ask her how to set up your own hydroponics system for at home! More vegetables for food would be great, and we can get parts when we next visit the junkyard! Not to mention that we can bring any of our good quality leftovers to Maria for her to sell in her store!
28th May 2020, 7:18 PM
Well let's compliment Maria's building skills, 'cause dang that's all impressive and good-working stuff. Seriously. Hats off to her.
28th May 2020, 7:35 PM
28th May 2020, 7:29 PM
Heheee.
Kinda would be neat to know Maria's thoughts on permaculture- although I don't know if Plaire would know enough about gardening and stuff to ask about something like that.
28th May 2020, 7:29 PM
Leafia_Barrett
Compliment the sprinkler system. And the work on the space gardens, and telling that corrupt cop to eat shit, and just... for being a generally really cool person who doesn't roll over in the face of a supercorporation. Maria is a good and I'm happy we met her.
28th May 2020, 7:36 PM
28th May 2020, 8:45 PM
5-5-13-6
If possible, have Plaire directly quote that last line, please.
28th May 2020, 11:25 PM
28th May 2020, 7:41 PM
pkrankow
Maria, are you sure being a grocer is the correct path in life with your mad building skills?
28th May 2020, 7:42 PM
BJBlack
I'd taken all the cases for hydroponics, but it's more advanced than that, it seems (plus I maybe didn't know what hydroponics really was). But "as long as you have power" has got to be an oversimplification. Plants need water, and nutrients, and light...

Holy crap. Stop me before I get too deep in analysis of the setting.
29th May 2020, 1:04 PM
Taenidia
I think she was talking about portability. Water and nutrient slurry is portable (or findable/buyable), batteries are harder (and more expensive).

(Crossing it with a greenhouse and using pre-existing sun would probably cut way down on electric costs. Could do the hydroponic circulation and sealed system otherwise, working with a lower electric demand? Does mean you get slower growth, it may have to be outside (where there's weather...), and only 1 layer per unit floor-space, though. Might also limit plant varieties to more weather-tolerant ones.)

Cheap-ass Plaire-achievable version right now is to stick some green onions in a vase by the windowsill. Maybe a potato, if it's already going green (note: Do Not Eat green potatoes). Incremental upgrade is to buy a hydroponics bottle, and add a few drops of plant nutrition.
28th May 2020, 7:46 PM
Hari_Seldon
I feel that not spilling everything to Maria is a good call, despite it not technically being a lie but still feeling like one, because we don't want to repeat our failure (not getting the previous house owners names list) with spilling everything to Rill Parsons. We could ask Franklin how much we can trust Maria and think about being honest with Maria in the future.

I think Maria would understand that it would be crazy to tell almost everyone we meet about our spooky house, even though Maria is a good person.

I hope Maria chooses plastic windows instead of armored glass. Armored glass tends to crack when you hit it, but plastic dents. Part of my Eagle Scout project was to build an information kiosk at the start of a park and we selected polycarbonate to cover the map and information display because it was the toughest against vandalism.

Ask Maria if she grows any genetically modified or pharmaceutical crops in the space gardens. Probably not, because in this dystopian "The States" GMOs probably have terminator seeds that are sterile (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_use_restriction_technology)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_crops

https://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/issues/311/ge-foods/pharmaceutical-crops

https://fas.org/biosecurity/education/dualuse-agriculture/2.-agricultural-biotechnology/prodigene-incident.html
28th May 2020, 9:02 PM
Limrix
Polycarb is great for strength but it scratches easily. That said, it might be worth it here.
28th May 2020, 7:53 PM
Ask her what she recommends for self defense around here. Plaire is new in town and it's feasible she wouldn't know AND it's relevant to the current discussion.

She may be able to give us useful ideas for things to bring into the dream if not to protect ourselves IRL.
29th May 2020, 1:30 PM
pkrankow
+1

She may point out Cici as a better resource... but physical size and strength comparisons are relevant.
28th May 2020, 8:06 PM
BJBlack
Alright, here's a first-approximation of what to look for in our criminal mastermind:

The young (college-aged, tops) child of someone very rich. It won't be someone with experience ordering goons around, or it would have been a goon who did it, and goons, for all their lack of morals, have some common sense, and this guy doesn't. He has, like

negative

common sense.

But then there's the question of targeting Kate. Mondol bigwigs trying to take Kate out makes sense, but this isn't a bigwig, this is a brat. How did some immature Richie Rich know about the concert (I doubt they posted a lot of flyers in his neighborhood), and why has Kate been singled out? They let Harv go with his drums, for crying out loud.

This is the biggest speculation, but my gut's telling me he (or she, whatever) developed a crush on Kate, approached her with all the subtlety of a gorilla (see: socially obtuse rich kid used to buying everything he wants), and got shot down. Cue revenge. As a bonus (as he imagined it), he would swoop in to "save" her from the evil police and get a second shot.

It's almost more pitiful than villainous.

But anyway, that's my guess. That last element is a bit of a long shot, but we can ask Kate.
29th May 2020, 1:17 PM
+1 to asking Kate about any ridiculously out-of-touch suitor she may have rejected in the last... year ?
That terrible plan probably took them a long time to come up with, sadly.
28th May 2020, 8:07 PM
Hari_Seldon
Ask Kate and Cici about how trustworthy Maria is and whether we should bring Maria in on our spooky house. If that is not enough, ask Franklin how trustworthy Maria is and decide then whether to tell Maria.
28th May 2020, 9:50 PM
28th May 2020, 8:45 PM
Huh, those space gardens wouldn't happen to be based on the cultivators we saw in the Mars bunker in BiM would they?
28th May 2020, 9:03 PM
Limrix
I think we should also mention that we just moved into town and live in the spooky house. We didn't really introduce ourselves last time. We can also ask Kate and Cici if they think we can be more open with Maria, though we might not want to have her father there.

Given that we also want to find stuff, I think we've got a good lead on finding Franklin as well.
28th May 2020, 9:06 PM
The mention of a device growing carrots, in real time and in plain sight amkes me think more of some kind of hacktivist designed, vegetable bio-printer. We're already quite aware meat printers are a thing.
That or some way to vastly accelerate the plant's growth. Both of which sound potentially dangerous, but let's not worry too much about that right now.
Besides, hydroponics wouldn't be that surprising or revolutionary.

But damn, Maria is a crafty one. And one more badass lady. She has enough to worry about as is, but should we find a clearer link between our stuff and Mondo in our searches, it'd be good to have her on our side.
Anyways, Mondol's behind the arson, surprising noone, and there's little to be done about it.
It's certainly an escalation, but short of reminding Maria to be careful... not a problem we can solve today.

Franklin's squatting somewhere, do we have a way to figure out where ? Someone who knows him well enough ? or we could try figuring out if BusAI (we need a better way to name them) takes him to some area often enough, especially while carrying scrap parts.

If not, back to our original plans. There's a chance we'll find him there anyway.

Edit : forgot to say, depending on how much getting started costs, growing food could help with our money issues. And considering Franklin's jury r8gging his own setup, it should be okay.
I don't think Plaire's necessarily all that manually tech oriented, but we have savvy friends now. I'm sure Maria'd be more than okay to help, and it'd be an occasion to get to know her.
28th May 2020, 11:28 PM
I suspect the space gardens are a direct reference to Blood is Mine. The BiM crew are the sort who would try to spread the info of how to make space gardens in an open-source way, and they DID encounter similar tech.
29th May 2020, 12:46 PM
Taenidia
Plant bio-printers are a real thing! And actually considerably easier to construct than organ-printers.

BioCurious is a bio-hackerspace that built their own plant-tissue 3D bioprinter. It's pretty neat, it uses some mix of callous cells, hormones, and a biodegradable gel for structure. I think they've used it to print fancy plant fabrics or something before.

https://biocurious.org/projects/

Getting plant "stem"-cells (actually called 'callous cells" in plants) to differentiate into different tissues by adding hormones is absurdly easy compared to the animal equivalent. The big differentiation question of "root, or stem?" is entirely handled by the auxin-vs-cytokinin ratio.
28th May 2020, 9:55 PM
Snervalton
So after we've shared as much or as little with Maria as we're going to, the next stop is the junkyard, right?
29th May 2020, 4:26 AM
YetAnother
Praise Maria's building skills. Joke about "royal descent" (Maria + Emperatriz, get it?)
29th May 2020, 2:05 PM
Meat. You need meat. The cheapest, but meat.
29th May 2020, 3:52 PM
Hari_Seldon
The cheapest meat is probably 3D printed or Petri dish grown meat. I like to call Petri dish grown meat "Cancer burgers" because Petri dish grown cells are "immortalized" which basically means they never stop growing (have no "Hayflick limit"). A famous immortalized cell line is HeLa cells. Literally cervical tumor cells. It is the oldest and most commonly used human cell line. It's safe, though, because it's cooked (killed) and even if it was raw it's probably safe because cancer spreading to other individuals has only happened once that I know of (and not in humans): Tasmanian devils (https://www.tcg.vet.cam.ac.uk/about/DFTD)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/HeLa

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/lab-grown-meat/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/lab-grown-meat-is-in-your-future-and-it-may-be-healthier-than-the-real-stuff/2016/05/02/aa893f34-e630-11e5-a6f3-21ccdbc5f74e_story.html
29th May 2020, 8:13 PM
Morgenstern
update might be tomorrow
29th May 2020, 8:29 PM
29th May 2020, 10:02 PM
Hari_Seldon
Take all the time you need I never mind it being late. I just hope it gets done in the end.