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/qst/ - Quests

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Prove you don't need luck

You play as Delilah, an unfortunate young girl going through tough times.

=Links and Information=


Thanks to an anon, here is the pastebin of just the text. With threads purposely being misarchived, this should be available and accessible instead:
Melancholic Quest Collection 1 (1-4): http://pastebin.com/hTK0fQmd
Melancholic Quest Collection 2: http://pastebin.com/cX4HC6Q9
Melancholic Quest Collection 3: http://pastebin.com/sTuR8xJv
Melancholic Quest Collection 4: http://pastebin.com/RPwa7nEt
Melancholic Quest Collection 5: http://pastebin.com/DJ71TtFc
Melancholic Quest Collection 6: http://pastebin.com/xxCdZfx6
Melancholic Quest Collection 7: http://pastebin.com/7skcyeX0
Thread 29 (Misarchived as Gorgon Child) http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/700562/

Twitter; @Cowboy_Sue
Discord; https://discord.gg/8CCdcQ3 <--updated to be working
Last thread:

>After settling the dispute, Mariano asks for Brandi to stay at the compound for her own safety
>She's allowed to walk around on her own now
>Crockett got drunk off his ass and Delilah took the chance to steal ??? copies of notes from his office
>She has yet to go through these yet
>Camilla brought up how Lawrence seems to be a little more testy lately, Delilah decided to talk about it before they go to bed
“Me and Camilla were talking on the drive back, just a little bit.”

It might be dark, but you’re more than able to fill in the gaps you can’t see. On his back, Lawrence has his eyes opened and looking up at the ceiling above. Being in the crook of his arm, you are able to move in closer to see the shapes of his face, the hard lines of his nose and the curve of his neck.

“She was asking me if you were feeling alright,” you try to speak like it’s not too important, just a casual talk you two had. “All she wanted to know is if um, if you might have been feeling a little bit moody. All she asked is if I noticed anything, that’s all.”

At least you can tell for sure that Lawrence is listening. Even if you couldn’t see the shine from his gritting teeth, there’s no way to ignore the hand next to you clenching up. The actions don’t deter you at all, and you instead push yourself up to look down at him instead.

“Don’t worry, I told her you were the same old same old. And that’s all true, I promise!” Your hair dangles around your face, close to brushing against his face in the times you speak too excitedly. “I told her how nice you’ve always been, and how you don’t snap at me or anything like that.”

His head starts to turn away and you pull him back by the chin, making sure his attention is kept where it needs to be right now. “And I was even nice enough to leave out all those times when you act like a big bully. I know you’re just playing and I forgive all those times.”

You smile hangs there as you wait, trying to anticipating him to do something that will make you feel better about bringing this up. The more time passes without a response the more you feel awful, making you sit back from him.

“I didn’t bring this up cause I wanted to make you feel bad,” you try to assure him. “I think she’s having a harder time getting used to talking with you. It’s just different than what she’s used to, that’s all. It took me a little bit to get used to it too and I’m sure you had to be super patient with me. Try not to get too frustrated with everyone, and I’ll do my best to help you too.”

Lawrence’s other hand come to cover his face and between the gleam of his gritting teeth you can pick out the sounds of a hoarse, half-whispered swear. He reminds you too much of the times you had cried and hid your face in shame and you move from his arm. You do the embracing instead, trying to act like the strong and steady rock that you want to be for Lawrence.

“Everyone’s been working super hard, everyone’s on edge. You’re not the one who’s drunk and asleep on the couch right now, so that’s pretty good I think.” One of your hands run over the fringe of his cowlick and over the rest of his hair, brushing back any of the strands that might have fell out of place. “But I’ll stand by you no matter what anyone thinks. Keep being there for me and I’ll keep being there for you, okay?”
You’re not expecting any sort of answer, you’re just trying to say whatever to make him feel even a little bit better. Until you nod off, you continue whispering promises to always be there, how things will be better for the two of you, and that one day you won’t have to be afraid of anyone anymore.

Early morning you wake up alone, though you vaguely remember when Lawrence left bed and promised you to be back tonight. You braved the cold and left bed, determined to read through the papers you stole from Crockett’s office. Everywhere is the same old empty and quiet and you can only guess who is here or what they’re doing.

With no breakfast waiting on the stove or in the fridge you wonder if Camilla is even here. Even if she had simply been too busy to prepare anything that’s fine with you, the kitchen can be your headquarters for now. The room felt brighter than the others, and less like some sort of dungeon room.

Soon you have the coffee maker filled with water and a vague idea of what you’re doing as as, you hope, the brewing starts. And while you know everything that goes into an omelette, what little skill you have in flipping one is even rustier than you remember.

With one burnt, floor kissed attempt hastily hidden in the trash, you’re determined to get the next one right. As you try to slide the spatula just right under the second try, the door behind you opens.

“Oh hey, I didn’t know you were a little cook too!”

You look to see Brandi already over your shoulder, smiling as she looks down at the pan. She quickly eyes the coffee maker and goes to pull out the pot, confused when she pulls it out, “Hey, ya know the water goes into the reservoir part in the back of the machine, right?”

“...Oh!” You gasp upon remembering your dumb mistake and look down at the stove again with your ears burning. “I d-did, I swear! I haven’t drank coffee for long…”

“Don’t worry about it,” she snickers, pouring the water where it belongs. “Better than me when I was your age. I remembered why you couldn’t put Jiffy-Pop in a microwave a minute too late. So, you makin’ breakfast for me too?”

Brandi has moved over to the table, where you had left the folder you brought in. The first few and last pages inside are of different doodles you had whipped up to hide the actual contents inside. Even then, you jump when her hand reaches for it.

“What’s this? Did whatshisface leave this behind in the drunk tank?”

“That’s m-mine!” You turn to see that brandi is already looking at the first page.
“Hey, this is pretty cute!” She turns the folder around, showing the crude scribble of a house you’d put down. “This some kinda, whatsitcalled, cottage you been to before?”

“I um, I th-think I saw it in a magazine or something…” you walk over to her, trying to prepare yourself for snatching it away.

“Looks pretty cute. Oh, it’s a log cabin right? Yeah, I can see where you even draw the rings of the logs here, what kinda flowers were you drawing for these parts down here?”

“I don’t know yet-”

“It’s really cute still, this somewhere you wanna live?” Brandi’s smile grows when she sees how red your face is. “That’s sweet, this somewhere you wanna live with your boyfriend? Aha, did you draw any pictures of him?”

When she starts to flip to the next page you jump forward, grabbing her wrist and shaking your head. “Please don’t! I’m so embarrassed, p-please…”

Brandi looks at you in surprise, not wasting a moment to close the folder and hand it back. You hold it close to your chest and turn away, taking deep breaths as you attempt to cool down now.

From behind she pipes up, “I didn’t mean to get you upset like that, swear. I’ve just been sorta stuck without a lotta people to talk to or to pass the time, you’re actually one of the only people I’ve seen since they gave me permission to walk around. Well, ‘cept for that cop that couldn’t hold his booze.”

You look back down at the papers you hold. Brandi hasn’t seen anyone else around either and you’re pretty sure she likes you enough. There might be stuff in Crockett’s notes that you don’t understand, or it might help to have a second pair of eyes to look with.

Ask Brandi for help reading the notes you stole or keep it a secret?
No harm probably, it's not like she's shifty or anything.
Hmmm. I'm not sure.
We aren't sure exactly what's gonna be in there so I'm not sure if we can trust anyone with what might be in there.
I say try to read it on our own first before seeking help.

Also it's good to see you back Sue.
How have you been?
Calmer than before but still embarrassed, you turn back to the table and Brandi.

“There’s actually more than just s-stupid drawings in here,” you quietly admit. “There’s some uh, pages that I borrowed in there too.”

Brandi looks at you with sparked intrigue now, unable to keep herself from grinning. “Borrowed huh? And who are you ‘borrowing’ from?”

“From Mr. Crockett’s office…” you keep an eye on the door as you say, “I grabbed them last night.”

That only seems to delight her further, “While he was stuck on the couch?” When you nod Brandi gives a short round of applause, nodding in approval. “Nicely done, but what were you poking your nose around for?”

Her question leaves a heavy weight on your chest, “It’s a long story.”

“And I’ve got nowhere to be,” she responds. “I’ve got bits and pieces about what’s going on, mighta found out more if I coulda talked to Mariano for longer-- anyways, I could fill in the gaps myself but it might be easier if I was just filled in.”

It feels strange to suddenly start showing the secrets you were careful to hide, but it’s better than you overlooking something important. “Okay,” you nod slowly and look back at the stove, “but only if you can help me with breakfast too.”

“I’m not amazing, but I’ll give ya a hand.” Brandi stands with a wince, her foot in pain as she has to put weight on it. But you try not to think about that day, or how terrifying Camilla had looked while shooting her.

Now holding your precious information close to your chest, you stand by Brandi to watch as she picks up the skillet. After complimenting you on how good the egg mixture looks, she amazes you by flicking her wrist and folding the omelette without touching it.

“Get talking, and I’ll show ya how to do that too,” Brandi promises as the newly, and mostly decent looking breakfast slides onto a plate. As she prepares for the next round of eggs Brandi remains quiet and patient, giving you plenty of room to start.
“There’s a very, very awful m-...man that’s after me,” your hands tighten around the folder. “And the reason everyone is here is cause of me. They’re trying to keep me safe, and I have no idea how.”

“Cause they don’t think you can handle it?”

You nod, “But sometimes it feels worse not knowing what’s going on. I know people have gotten hurt for me.” Looking up from your hands and up at Brandi you confess, “I think there’s people dying for m-....for me too…”

Saying it aloud sent a cold chill down your back, freezing you from the tips of your fingers and toes. Only your eyes burned hot and you were given plenty of time to pull yourself together again, Brandi giving you a comforting pat on the back as when your breathing had to calm down.

“I’ve um,” you sniffle against your sleeve while trying to continue again. After giving you one last encouraging smile Brandi returns looking at the stove again, acting like nothing happened. “I’ve just been doing my best to find out what’s going on by myself. But I’m scared if someone figures out I’m snooping around, then they’ll keep even more away from me. Like if Crockett ever figured out that I took stuff--”

“He’d lock you up like a princess in a tower.” At your stunned silence, Brandi quickly looks over and clarifies, “Not like, actually lock ya up. I was just tryna sound poetic, don’t mind me.”

You’re not sure how far off that might actually be, and the idea of being locked away in one room again shakes you to the core.

“I really can’t let any of them know I’ve been doing this.”

“You aren’t gonna get yourself hurt doing that, are ya? I don’t have to worry about ya sneaking off somewhere dangerous, do I?”

“No,” you shake your head.

“Then my lips are sealed,” Brandi draws a line over her lips, “I won’t be ratting ya out.”


“But you think hiding it like that is a smart idea? Maybe no one else woulda been this rude, but I was thiiis close to flipping through that thing,” she warns.

“No one usually pays that much attention. As long as I’m here and safe, that’s all they care about.” You bite your lip in regret, “I didn’t mean to sound ungrateful for that, I’m just-”

Brandi laughs, “I get it kid, you’re fine.”

You nod, trying not to feel too flustered. “I wanted to read in here, at least for a bit. This room feels less um, scary and stuff.”

“Hey I don’t mind, long as you don’t mind me working out some crosswords,” she grins at you. “To be honest I never liked doing those damn things, but I’ve been so bored outta my mind that I’m just dying to get started on one.”
A few minutes later you have a half empty plate on one side, a cup of coffee you’re doing your absolute best to drink, and a racing heart. With the first page of notes on hidden on your lap, you have no idea what to expect to read. It might be a whole lot of nothing or it might make you sick to your stomach and there’s only one way to find out. With one last look at Brandi, who sits across the table chowing down with a pencil in one hand and her book laid out, you’re sure she’s paying some attention to you still.

That’s fine, you figure, it’ll just make it easier to ask for help. And with nothing else but your own nerves in the way, you start reading.

It’s a good bit to read, and as tempting as it is to skim over the tiny text you don’t. A few of the pages manage to catch your attention, and you write down everything that you think is relevant in your little notebook.

One of the first things that caught your eye was a hastily made photocopy of someone’s handwriting. A closer look revealed that these were pieces stitched together from a palm sized notebook, the writing itself tiny and cramped like it had been done out of secret.

It took a bit to figure out that it was a back and forth conversation between two people, and you had to ask Brandi for help in figuring out some of the jargon and codes they used, but you’re confident that you understand the conversation they had.

From the sounds of it, someone at the police station was curious about your ‘missing’ status. Never did it mention your name, but it was fairly easy for you to figure out who they were talking about when the apartment fire was mentioned. The person questioning your status didn’t sound like anyone you knew, but rather a concerned officer.

How come we’ve got half the records saying she’s missing and half are marked deceased?

Didn’t the results for the remains come back? Didn’t they find out the dental records not match up? Hell, I’m even getting rumors from someone in forensics saying her teeth were smashed in!

I am getting angry! Are you saying we’re so incompetent that we can’t keep our own records straight? This isn’t just some misfiling here and there! If this girl is still alive, we can’t have shit saying she’s deceased and give up looking for her!
Though you have no idea who this person is, there’s comfort in knowing that a stranger has your well being in mind. Their superior though, his part of the conversation keeps the nice feelings at bay.

If you’re so worried about it then just mark them all as deceased and save us from your bellyaching. We’ve had our hands full here, you sure as hell know that.

It’s not my damn job to look over every little piece of paper that goes through our office. But if it’s going to bother you so damn badly then I’ll handle this myself, how’s that?

If it’ll get your panties outta a twist then I’ll just fuckin’ tell ya. The girl is dead, and that’s that. Any other girl tryna come up and claim to be her is probably just itching for her poor granny’s inheritance. That woman don’t help neither, no matter how many times we’ve said ‘your granddaughter is gone’ she still insists on hanging those damn flyers around town…

Listen pal it’s no business of mine who goes up putting ‘missing’ ads. Maybe that old woman has her little church group helping her, but it’s out of our hands now. Don’t go concerning yourself with people putting up posters for an impossible cause.

This is the last damn time I’m saying it, that girl is dead and anyone else trying to say otherwise is a liar or crazy and the same damn thing goes for anyone claiming to be her.

“Oh my god…” you mumble after mostly processing what you had just read, “I think I’m like, legally dead.”

The next piece of information that stood out was a familiar name. It took a bit to remember ‘Ross Sutton’, but you’ve seen his handwriting before. When you had discovered his journal tucked away beneath Crockett’s seat, you remember that the man had been tailing after that horrible monster and came up missing afterward.

Rather than his own writing, however, you were faced with receipts of his request to a police station. All you can see are the times and dates that they came in at and when he requested specific people by, after you asked Brandi what they meant, their badge number. The requests came in slow, with days in between him. But as more time passed without him, presumably, not getting any answers the requests came more frequent. It got to the point where there had been several in one day, and like his journal entries, they come to an immediate stop in October. You don’t need anyone to explain why, and you carefully tucked away the paper.
The only other bit of information you learned is that, apparently, there is a girl named Tracy Thompson who looks similar to you. It had been a copy of what looked like a school record, just barebone information about the girl. She was about a year older than you, also blonde and from the list of extracurricular included, seems to really like outdoor sports. Other than apparently knowing that her house and the school she attends is in town, thanks to Brandi clarifying that the streets listed were about middle class neighborhoods, there’s not a lot to go on. There’s no notice about her being missing or worse, and the information looks to have been faxed over within the last two weeks.

“I hope you’re in school at least,” you frown upon looking at the clock. If she was lucky enough, then she’d be sitting in a classroom right now trying not to yawn and ready to go home already.

“All done?” Brandi asks when you let the folder fall back onto the table.

“For now I think.” Your fingers rub at your temple, everything in your head feeling like a jumbled mess despite not learning too much more than before. “This stuff is kind of hard to get through.”

“I bet so. Don’t push yourself too hard though, ‘kay?” The pencil in Brandi’s fingers dances and spins as she talks, “The way you’re rubbing your head like that reminds me of Grant. He’d be sitting there, trying to say how it helped him think.”

The pencil stops as Brandi looks off a bit as she talks, her other hand coming to brush over her stomach. “Course, if it was anything that took any real noggin’ joggin’ then he’d just go and do it the ‘easy’ way instead. God, I’ve had to clean up so many of his messes and I sure as hell hope this little guy don’t get their papa’s short fuse. But the baby will come out as they’re supposed to, whichever one of us they end up being more like is fine with me.”
You brave the coffee that’s no longer too hot for your already burnt tongue, drinking through the bitterness as she talks. When Camilla and Dr. Rizzo had attempted to buy a black market heart for your grandmother, the money that had been carefully kept away turned out to be counterfeit. And of course, now you know that Grant had gone absolutely crazy on the scene because he wanted to save his adoptive father, but despite the promises from Mariano and Brandy you can’t imagine that man being someone with any kind of friends or girlfriends.

But now it makes you wonder if someone like that really does have good days. And then you have to wonder if Lawrence is like that. You know that he had problems with his anger long before he met you. While they were never at or even really around you, the aftermath of his moments were usually obvious.

You’d been hoping that he was getting better being around you though, that somehow you’d been helping him in that regard. But as much as you’d like to say that it was some misunderstandings, Camilla’s words about Lawrence come back. Maybe he is scarier to others, or maybe you’re just used to it now--

You quickly get rid of any idea that you’re ‘just used to it’. He’s a good man, and you know it. If he’s having a short temper with other people though, that might be a problem if it gets worse for the people around you.

Would it be good to ask her on advice for dealing with boyfriends like grant? Or if you want to try asking what Mariano had told her over the phone when she was ‘freed’, you wonder if she would tell you anything new.

Do you want to talk with Brandi about anything before you go?
Sometimes you have to be happy just to be alive, but raising some kittens help
>If you want to try asking what Mariano had told her over the phone when she was ‘freed’, you wonder if she would tell you anything new.

That souns like a plan.

Well, kittens are definitely nice
>If you want to try asking what Mariano had told her over the phone
sounds like a plan

Indeed they are.
“Um…” you cough a bit to try and grab her attention before squeaking out, “M-Ms. Brandi?”

“Oh gawd,” she flinches with a sour look before laughing. “When you say it like that, I feel like a Sunday school teacher.”

Before you can apologize she motions at you to continue talking as she gets herself under control again.

“I’m not trying to be rude and push myself into your business or anything like that, but you said you talked to Mariano over the phone?”

“Managed a few minutes with the old man, but nobody was too keen on letting me talk for long.” The pencil begins to tap against the table as she sighs, “Don’t worry, I get it. But that don’t mean it was easy to hang up.”

Swallowing back the rising guilt you ask, “Do you have to stay here cause you guys got involved with us?”

“Yes-” Brandi thinks about the answer for a bit and, unsatisfied with it, shakes her head. “Not entirely really. Someone like Mariano, who has been living the underground lifestyle for this long, has dug himself a hole way deeper than you could ever put him in. There’s a reason he went into hiding way before you were born.”

“Cause he was involved in crime.” You blurted that out far more harshly than you meant to, but Brandi keeps a sad, grim smile on her face as she nods.

“Yeah, but even if he didn’t have to worry about the law catching up with him. Mariano made more than enough enemies to keep him on his toes until they follow him to the grave--” Immediately she regrets her choice in words and Brandi covers her own mouth, shocked at what she said. “Christ, that was fuckin’ morbid to say. That’s just how it is though, won’t stop following him until he’s gone. Either ya gotta throw someone under the bus or they’ll throw you down there instead, y’know? Course the poor man has enough grudges against him just cause some guy didn’t like the way he looked at them.”

Despite how frail he might have looked confined to a wheelchair and hooked up to oxygen, you somehow can imagine Mariano holding up a gun just fine. He stood right next to your grandfather just fine in that photo after all, and your certain Mariano had the same kind of gun as your grandfather did somewhere off camera.

“But that still means it’s my fault that you’re stuck here instead of going home.”

An uneasy grimace comes across Brandi’s face, “Don’t be blaming yourself. Only reason we could get in this position in the first place is by doing the kinda work we do. No one with a nice and proper 9 to 5 would have to worry about getting blackmailed. Course it doesn’t help that Grant has to go and run his fuckin’ mouth all the time and draw attention -- fuckin’g trouble to himself. But at least I know he’s hiding out with the few friends he’s got right now, after seeing our house was torn to shreds though.”
Once she says that all you can think about is walking into your grandmother’s home in town. How every photo of you was stolen, how they couldn’t even leave the grainy photo booth reel you had taken with Lawrence days prior. All of those snapshots of precious memories, stolen away by someone who doesn’t even deserve to look at them.

If there had been something in your hands it certainly would have snapped as you thought about it. Instead, your fingernails dig into the back of your other hand as you hold them together, “Do you know who did that?”

“They made it loud and clear,” she gives you an ambivalent stare, the woman not used to seeing you so serious, “I knew that creep was trying to contact Mariano a couple weeks back but I had no idea at the time. I don’t think the old man really did either, but he didn’t want a damn thing to do with him. Always heard the greasiest fuckin’ rumors about that Bowers guy, pretty sure he’s been throwing his money around underground way before he ever got into the whole medical shit.”

Your hands behind to curl into tight fists on top of the table, “What do you think they would have done if you guys had been there?”

“God, I don’t even wanna imagine that,” Brandi’s mouth twists into a grimace, “But they’d probably try to shake us for any little bit of info we know about ya. I know Grant might be an asshole idiot a lot of the times but he’s not completely heartless. Even if our little deal at the parking garage went to shit, he wouldn’t sell ya out to someone like that. Wish I could say that for everyone though, and that scumbag isn’t afraid of looking for the skeleton’s in Mariano’s closet and-- jeez kid, you look like you’re about to pass out. Maybe we should stop.”

“I’m fine!” The words rushed out all at once and you only just now realize how deep your fingernails have dug into your palms. You reach for the mug instead, gripping the ceramic in your hands tightly as you drink more of the bitter coffee.

“I shoulda paid more attention. Hell, I shoulda known this would upset you, I’m so sorry Del.”
You work on getting breathing back down to a normal pace when you set the mug back down to the table again, only a dark condensed puddle remaining at the bottom now. “No, I h-have to get used to it,” you try to ignore how the pounding in your chest and head are painfully out of sync, “I can’t let h-him scare me like this.”

“That takes some guts.” The smile on her face is unsettled and forced, and whether she meant to or not Brandi makes you shift focus from the subject, at least for now. “But really, I don’t need ya passing out on me. I don’t think I could carry ya back over to bed on my own, and I really don’t want to go up to the drunk tank and try to explain what happened. To be honest, I’m just waiting for him to come through those doors and scold me for being around ya again.”
“Has he done that already?” You try to force back the last bit of coffee left, shuddering at the extra sharp, dark taste that waited for you at the bottom.

“Technically it was a warning,” a smirk comes across Brandi’s face as she taps the eraser against her chin, “He thinks I’d be a bad influence for ya and he sure as hell didn’t want me talking about any of this shit.”

Shuddering away the last of the unpleasant taste you look up at her, “But you did it anyways, is it weird to say ‘thank you’ for that?”

“I’m just glad to have someone to talk to sometimes. Just don’t go mentioning what our conversations are about.” With a snicker she adds, “Might be careful about mentioning that boyfriend of yours around him too. Ace, that’s his name yeah? He looks exactly like the type of dad who’d chase off your guy friends with a shotgun.”

Looking off to the side you mumble, “He’s not my dad…”

“I know that, didn’t mean to disrespect ya or anything. The way I’ve heard him talk about ya though, guess it just made me forget for a bit. Speaking of,” she points the eraser at you, “Think he’s okay right now? Didn’t expect him to get shitfaced like that.”

“I haven’t seen him since I woke up or anything.”

“I’m pretty sure he’s the only other one here right now. Haven’t seen that big quiet guy, haven’t seen the doc or his nurse either.” With a huff she says, “Did you see how bad he was last night?”

“I help got him to the couch.”
“Of course you did!” she says with a short laugh. “And he thinks I’m the bad influence. Don’t know how he managed to drag himself off into one of those other hallways-”

“Probably went to his office, that’s where he’s usually at.”

With a gasp more akin to someone hearing juicy gossip, Brandi leans in to ask, “Oh no, you don’t think he’s in there tryin’ to cure himself with a little hair of dog back there, do you?”

“I don’t think so,” you shake your head. “This place is huge and weird but I’m pretty sure there’s no dog here, I’d know by now.”

While desperately trying to hold back giggles, Brandi feverishly shakes her head. “Pfft no no, there’s not actually a dog involved. Just means getting a little sauced up so you can deal with the hell that’s the hangover later.”

Suddenly, all those times your mother had mentioned the phrase make far more sense and you feel stupid for having assumed she was sneaking off to pet the neighbors dog.

“Oh um, I’m not sure. I’ve only known him a little while and I’ve never seen him like this before… y-you don’t think he’d be in there getting drunk again, do you?”

“You’d have a better guess than me. If you’re comfortable with it, maybe you should just pop in to check on him? I’d rather us not be stuck here with someone about to give themselves alcohol poisoning.”

You’d think Crockett would have the sense to start sobering up, but you can’t really say that you know the man that well. If he gets anything like last night again, you might have more than a handful to deal with again.

But this might also be a good chance to ask Brandi for more information. She knows a good bit about Mariano, and maybe you can poke her for more details about him and the life around your grandfather that you were never supposed to know.

Exploring around the compound a bit might be a good idea too. It’s hard to walk around and not imagine a whole huge series of tunnels running under your feet, a thought that is both exciting and scary. Besides, you still have that trap door with the busted lock to get open and a crowbar that should help get the job done.

What do you want to do now?
sorry about the worse than usual wait, I was out of town but didn't have access to a computer like I usually do when I go

It's fine family, keeping us updated is all we can ask for.
“I think he’ll be fine,” you respond. “Doctor Rizzo scolded him enough last night. Maybe if i don’t see him around by the afternoon I can go bother him.”

“If you feel that’s best,” nods Brandi, “I can’t say I’d be much help to anyone, but if you really need someone then I don’t mind ya stopping by. That study I’m sleeping in isn’t half bad, at least when I’m not being kept prisoner in there. I’m not supposed to lock the door now, but try to at least give me a warning knock before coming in, ‘kay?”

You wonder if there’s anything left to find in your grandfather’s study, but for now you have somewhere else to search. Brandi leaves after you promise that washing the dishes alone will be fine, as you figure her standing so long on a still healing foot isn’t too good.

It’s lonely when she leaves, the silence that follows when you leave the kitchen manages to make the hairs on your neck rise. The emptiness in the hallways is what allows you to sneak around in the first place, but as you walk out of your bedroom with the crowbar borrowed from the garage, you’re expecting someone to pop out and catch you red handed at any moment.

But you see no one, hear no one, and find no one when you reach the designated room. Your hand shakes some when you use your secret key to get the door open, and it doesn’t stop when you’re hidden away in the room either. There’s the door in the floor you still have to force open, and you don’t really have a great idea on how to do this.

Once more, praying that it works, you attempt to tug it open. The smashed in lock keeps it in place, the metal bits so close to breaking free. All it would take is a little bit of muscle or, in the absence of that, the crowbar and some luck.

“Okay,” you pant after giving up using just your hands. Taking the heavy crowbar at hand, you stand next to the trapdoor, your adversary at the moment. “Pretend to be Indiana Jones, this would be easy peasy for an adventurer. Not like there would be any snakes in there anyways… there better not be.”

While you high doubt a swarm of snakes or frogs or lizards could live down there for so long, that still leaves you with little idea of what to expect. Maybe another entrance to the outside will be all you find, though you’d hope this one would be tall enough to allow Lawrence through. It might be fun to show him what you found, and maybe he’d be impressed by what you’ve done while stuck here.

The moment you start to wedge the metal between the door and concrete, a rather ear piercing creak follows with the old wood splintering. You hold your breath, expecting Crockett to bust in at any moment. The cold, dead walls look to serve their purpose to you and you decide not to back away.
Trying not to stop at every little snap and groan, you push the metal as far in as you can. It slowly begins to strain as you pull back on the crowbar. It starts to give, but the noise grows in volume as it does. Between trying to ease it out longer and just using brute force to get it all at once, you choose the later.

Two or three heavy stomps on the bar and the trapdoor cracks open, thudding back down into the frame as wood and rusted metal falls below. After waiting many, many more minutes than you needed to, it didn’t seem to be enough to get any attention.

“You’re so strong Indy…” you whisper in attempts to calm your nerves, “Now just get down there, find the treasure and get out. Watch out for booby traps!”

You pause from pulling up the door, wondering if there might really be any sort of traps. It should have been something you should have worried about a while ago, but so far you’ve been lucky in that regard.

With maybe a foolish rush of courage you pull open the newly loosened door. Freezing air and dust come rushing out, chilling you right down to the bone. Somehow it feels colder than anywhere else in the place, but you wonder if that’s just because it’s so deep and dark below.

“There won’t be anything looking back at me, there won’t be anything looking back at me--” you repeat to yourself as you fumble with the flashlight. The bright ray has to travel past the thick, musty dust that rides heavily in the air. It almost looks like ash or snowflakes, but what the particles settle on further down catches your attention instead.

A metal ladder connects to the floor right under the entrance, and after several intensive tests to ensure you won’t collapse right down to the bottom, you begin to climb down.
While the chilling metal does rough up your hands uncomfortably, the ladder does seem to extend further down than the other you had found before. It almost feels like a full story down below by the time your feet find solid ground and you waste no time checking the surroundings.

The freezing air envelopes you all around, making your fingers burn with numbness even more. You bring a sleeved hand up to your mouth to try and filter through the hanging dust, squinting past it as the light shines around. The space down here is bigger than the room above, looking to be at least doubled in size if not more. A couple of lamps affixed to the wall give you hope in brightening up the place but that idea is quickly dashed upon finding that they need fuel to run.

Perhaps for the best, the only other thing down there are the stack of pallets, about fifteen of them lines up neatly and packed tightly with smaller packages. Smaller, you think, until you get a closer look. Twice as big as a phone book and certainly heavily than one, it seems that the pallets are only filled with these tightly bound squares.

A thin layer of dust covers the tops, not that clearing it away gives you any better answers. Layers and layers of tape bind together the even thicker layers of plastic wrap, taking more than just your nails to pull off. A knife would be able to tear through it easily enough though, and then you could find out just what could be inside.

All you can tell is that whatever is inside the package isn’t solid and, when you can sniff past the dust, a sweetish smell wafts through.

Take the package back up with you to investigate?
>sweetish smell
>very cold room
Well I guess we've come too far to turn back now.
Let's investigate.
What's the worst that can happen, rolling boulders?
There’s no used in leaving it behind when you’ve already worked so hard just to get down here in the first place. You keep the selected bundle with you, trying to ignore its weight as you look around the rest of the room. The wall furthest from the ladder looks different from the rest, most of its texture somehow being rougher than the rest. A thick line that reminds you of a seam manages to stick out even more from the rest, making you wonder if there’s something sealed behind it.

“They’d need someway to get all of these in here,” you say while looking back up at the ladder. Easy enough to climb down that, but this is the kind of stuff that looks like it would have been brought in with a truck. You have to wonder why someone would get rid of their one exit that would make removing this stuff easier, but you can only hope to uncover so much.

“Careful Indy,” you pay the bag in your arms, stepping back from the wall to give it one final look over with the flashlight, “it might open a portal to hell if you’re not careful.”

While you were joking about the last line, not knowing for sure what might sit behind the sealed off passage puts you on edge. All that’s left is for you to climb back up the ladder with your new discovery, a task that you weren’t really looking forward to at all.

As you pin the flashlight beneath your chin and slide the square bag into your shirt for easier carrying, the one other object in the room catches your eyes.

A furled up paper lays a bit of way behind the ladder, simply looking like it had fallen out while someone was climbing up. It’s brittle and stiff, refusing to unfurl too far without cracking. You try to read the handwriting inside but come to discover that the handwriting is bad, you just can’t read what it says cause it’s written in Italian. You’re certain that’s what it is anyways, the only thing you can be sure of understanding correctly is the ‘25’ written near the beginning.

You add this delicate paper to your pocket, hoping that you won’t discover it in broken little pieces by the time you get back to the top.
After hyping yourself up for the challenge and taking several pauses along the way, you manage to pull yourself up the ladder and out from the room below. It almost feels warm when your feet find the floor again and you can just see where the dust has caked itself to your clothes.

But you manage to bring up your little discovery prize and the note, so patting off dust clouds from yourself doesn’t feel bad at all.

While it is tempting to go check out your loot in Lawrence’s room you instead take it to your own, figuring out a way you can hide it quickly if needed before trying to dig inside.

With the pocketknife in hand you try to figure out if there’s anywhere specific you should be trying to open this from, but no obvious signs makes you choose a spot instead.

Sitting it upright on the dresser you start to cut a small hole into the corner of the bag, reminding you of opening a bag of sugar in the kitchen.

A look inside only makes you that image linger. Tightly packed white powder waits inside, the sweet smell definitely coming from the content. It looks softer than sugar and you can almost swear it looks whiter. You give it short, light touches just to make sure whatever it is won’t burn you.

It doesn’t, but you only let your hand sift through a shallow swipe at the top. You don’t recognize what this is at all and a closer look at what sticks to your fingertips doesn’t clarify anything. As silly as it is to do, you allow the smallest amount from your hand to your tongue, toying with the idea that it would really just be a bunch of sugar.

The bitter taste you spit out right away tells you that it certainly isn’t anything you should eat and you go to wash your mouth out in the bathroom sink. A tiny, concentrated numbness in the spot your finger touched your tongue ebbs away as the cold water swashes around your mouth and back into the sink.

While spooked, you don’t feel sick from the incident. For a moment though, you swear that you had that special tingle spread in the back of your head. It’s gone before you can be sure it was really even there to begin with, but what feels like the afterglow of the bubbling, lively energy that feeling usually brings with it.

You now have the mysterious bag of white powder and a very, very old note in your room. Between Camilla and Rizzo you know that there are at least some people here who should be able to read what it says, if they’d tell you in the first place. Brandi’s family was from Italy too, and you wonder if she might be able to translate it too. As for the powder, you suspect that at least someone here would be able to tell what it is, if not everyone but yourself.

Do you want to ask for help figuring out the letter, powder or both? Or do you want to try and figure it out yourself?
Let's...let's try to figure this out on our own.
Let's try to figure out both ourselves for now.
We should probably seal the package tight again though. If it's lasted since grandpa was around, it's probably only because it's been stored like that.
Surely you can figure this out on your own, right? It’s not as if you don’t have enough time to do the research after all.

As tempting as it is to just shove the strange package away, you realize that they must have been wrapped up tight like this for a reason. With a roll of tape you attempt to close off the hole you made, trying not to sneeze at the powder that dusts the air as you do. After that it gets shoved away in a dresser drawer, hidden stealthy by the folded pants around it.

The note you give one more look over, trying to see if there’s anything else you can recognize. While there might be a word here or there you can understand it doesn’t give you any further context and sure doesn’t tell you what the ‘25’ is for. For now you assume it’s not a date, though you can’t cross out that possibility either. The only thing new you learn from the read over is the signature at the bottom.


The delicate paper gets put somewhere safe, where you shouldn’t have to worry about it breaking apart.

It’s difficult to process how you should start this next step in your little investigation. Where are you even supposed to start? It’s not like a plant or animal you could just search for in a book and you start to fear that it might be some unknown substance that has never been written down.

That fear dissipates soon enough, the more you think about it the more familiar the stuff seems. Not being able to put your finger on where you might have even seen this kind of stuff before bothers you a bit more than it should, but you let that flame your desire to find out.

Of course, you’re limited on what you have available here. There are books here, from the older ones your grandmother would have read back in the day to the ones brought in to you occasionally, but you can’t just expect to stumble upon the answer in them.

While trying to think, your eye catches sight of the white still stuck to your sleeve. You give it a quick sniff, catching a quick catch of the sweetness before ensuring no more of it is stuck to you.

The brainstorming resumes with you on the couch, book open in your lap to pretend you haven’t been sneaking around. You thought about combing through everything that you could get your hands on, reading through every word in hopes of coming across the answer. But you can think smarter than that, of course you can. After all, you’re certain that you could get the answer out of someone here. You just can’t let them know that you’ve got whatever it may be in your hands or worse, discover and take away your key around this place. No more access to tunnel leading outside and no more looking for more secrets around this place. You shudder out the thoughts of being locked inside a bedroom again.
Between your thinking and thumbing the rounded out corners of the pages the doorknob to the garage begins to move and you hold your breath in anticipation. You know better than to have too much hope for Lawrence to be the one walking in, but it’s not too disappointing to see Palmer come through either. In fact, it’s welcoming when you spot the bag in her hand with your new round of borrowed books and movies.

“Oh, you’ve already got your eyes on these don’t you?” Palmer comes straight over to you to relieve herself of the bag, able to use her now free hands to adjust the loose hairs of her ponytail. “I’ll grab whatever ones you’re done with. And I guess you can take out any of those you wouldn’t like, there’s kind of a variety in there.”

“These are all hers?” you ask upon pulling out a dark colored VHS, a creepy green glow coming from the egg in the middle and the title ‘Alien’ behind it. It’s not something you’d imagine someone your age wanting to watch, though maybe if Lawrence wanted to…

“No, some of these were my brother’s- her father,” Palmer says with a grim smile. “She still watches some of those, so maybe you’ll like them too.”

From the way she spoke of the man, you can’t help but gingerly place the tape back in with the rest. An idea sparks in your head and you try to speak nonchalant, “I don’t mind movies like that but sometimes they’re hard to follow…”

“Oh?” She nods, “Ah well, I guess that makes sense. Sometimes it’s hard to remember you’re only fourteen.”

It’s hard to resist the urge to thank her for not thinking of you as younger like Crockett does and you instead focus on the plan.

“Well I can understand most of the stuff going on,” you try to hide a nervous smile as you keep trying not to seem so obvious, “but sometimes there’s stuff they bring up that I don’t understand and that’s annoying.”

“Well shoot, I hope you aren’t peeved at me for bringing those kind of movies with.”

“No they’re fine otherwise,” you start to heat up as you dance closer and closer to what you really want to ask, “I just wish I could ask questions for that kind of stuff.”
“Well I don’t see why not.” Palmer holds up a separate paper sack she had brought in, splotches of grease saturating through the bottom and sides. “But you’re going to have to follow me to the kitchen for any of that. Ace called me down here about, oh four or five hours ago asking me to bring him something for the little teensy hangover he has. Now I was going to bring it while it was warm, promise. But despite having me on cut hours for ‘recovery time’ they still manage to call me in at obnoxious times.”

You jump to follow Palmer, still doing your best to not be too eager about watching her shove the whole bag into the microwave as is and nuke the greasy meal. Nodding at her apparent hard work spinning on the plate inside she finds a spot against the counter to lean against.

“So, what are the questions you have for the great Arlene Palmer,” she flourishes her hands out, “I can answer most things so long as they are related to a movie and you don’t go tattling on me to Ace.”

“Ok- wait, why would I tattle? I mean, why would that be tattling?”

“I’m sure you’ve noticed,” she gives you a sad smile, “but he’s in uh, well super protective mode for you. Which I get, I really do. I’m pretty sure he was this close to suggesting I only bring you stuff like Mr. Rodgers. Which you know, good show and all but I figured you’d want something a bit more exciting to watch while you’re cooped up here.”

You nod, “Thanks for bringing what you do. And if you don’t mind me asking now, there was this one movie that um, there was some stuff they had that had and I still don’t know what it is.”

“Gotta be a little more descriptive than that,” she laughs, “What movie?”

“I um, I d-don’t remember…” you give your own nervous laugh “I don’t know if it wasn’t that good or if just watched a bunch that day. But they uh, they had this uh…”

Your teeth grind against one another as you try to even think about how something like that would be in a movie. But you remember that this place was a place where gangsters came through and you just go with that the best you can.

“I don’t really remember that well now, hah. But it was um, they had this white p-powder?” you look for any expression on Palmer’s face that would tell you that you should stop, but she just looks at you in waiting. “One of the um, b-bad guys in the movie was carrying this uh, wrapped up block. And when it...when it got ripped open there was this white dust that fell out but I don’t know if they ever said what it was.”

With a snap of her fingers Palmer answers, “Coke.”

“Coke? But not like the drink…” With the name to it, you can remember fragments of scenes you’d seen passing through channels on the television where someone might have mentioned that. It still feels like you had seen it elsewhere before and you trying to think even harder about where.
“Not the drink no, it’s something I’ve dealt with on the job enough.” She checks the door then looks back at you, drawing a line in the air with her finger, “Now if anyone asks, I’m explaining this danger to you as an officer of the law. But that kind of coke is a drug, costs a whole lot for a little bit. You might see someone in a movie have white lines of something on a table or wherever, and you know the worst part of it?”

You slowly shake your head, but somehow it feels like you do know.

“Sometimes they got a rolled up dollar bill or a straw, or I guess you can get right up in there yourself-” Palmer taps the side of her nose, “but they go and snort that stuff, isn’t it crazy?”

Suddenly the image of your father leaning up from his desk with a dusted nose comes back and you give a sad and quiet, “Yeah, it is.”

While you get over the thought Palmer pulls out the steaming bag, dropping it almost immediately onto the counter from the heat. “Sheesh, that guy better appreciate me coming all the way out here to do this for him. Working off my debt I guess, one small favor at a time.”

You’re sure she’s mentioned something about a ‘debt’ before and something to do with Crockett, though it feels strange for friends to owe each other like that.

>You’ve gotten your answer for what’s stored beneath the floor at least. While you two are here alone, is there anything else you want to ask or talk to Palmer about? Or do you want to stay on your best behavior until Lawrence comes back tonight?

different location and not sober enough to do my trip without messing up but trust me guys it's me, you can tell by how it took me to update :,^)
Talk to her about the job some more.
Just her day to day as a cop, things she deals with, crazy stories.
“What’s your job like? If you don’t mind anyways,” you watch as Palmer bounces from the coffee pot to the cupboards next, “I haven’t really gotten to talk with a cop like this before.”

“It gets stressful often,” she answers without skipping a beat. “Sometimes you get a couple of easy shifts in a row, never around holidays of course. You really get to know specific sections of the city that you get assigned too, but I’ve been sent damn near everywhere at this point.”

“I know it’s not really polite to ask this, but what’s it like out there?” To encourage her to stay a bit longer to talk you grab your own mug after her, offering to stand and drink with her. “Do you have any really crazy stories out there?”

She gives a smirk, pouring out a drink for you and herself. “Oh sure, I’ve got enough. Some of it sad, some of it just absolutely bizarre. You’re bound to see that sort of thing in this line of work, but I swear I’ve seen more of it in the past few years…”

“I can believe that.” You pass the sugar that Palmer points to, watching her pour a white stream of it in.

“Little pick me up,” she explains after catching you watching the excessive amount fall inside. Over the sound of her spoon tapping back and forth between the inside of the mug, Palmer takes her time to ind a starting point. “About a year back, I got called to settle a dispute at a grocery store. Turns out a customer walked in thinking it was okay to walk around with a snake around their neck, one of those sort of guys. But somehow he lost track of the damn thing and it was loose in the store. Took us a few hours of checking every vent and crawl space to find it, and the owner was sobbing his eyes out talking like it was his kid that we were looking for.”

You try to imagine how it would feel to be poking around hoping to see a snake looking back, “Oh jeez, that sounds really bad."
“Hell, I’d take that over a lot of bullshit we have to deal with.” The steam from the drink wafts around her face after the first sip and the officer stops to add a touch more sugar, “Sometimes you have to deal with some really dumb shit, like drunk assholes at bars. To be honest though, I prefer those to a lot of other stuff too. I really hate being called down to deal with a person locked behind a door or some sort.”

You grip the warm mug and bring it close, “Does that happen a lot?”

“Maybe more than you think.” Palmer stares down into the cup now, “When it’s just some teenager or adult throwing a tantrum it’s not so bad. But there are times when you get the door open after the person on the other side has stopped responding and you find out it’s too late.”

“What does that mean?” Your question must have been too blunt from the way Palmer recoils at it and you utter a quick apology.

“How will you know if you don’t ask?” she tries to give you a sympathetic smile, “We get a good amount of those calls because the person on the other side is overdosing or on the verge of suicide or both. I’ve gotten through a few times, but I wish I could say it was a 100% success rate.”

“Is that the worst of it?’ you ask sadly and she shakes her head.

“No, I’ve been called down to help with some really twisted shit.”

“So there’s a lot more bad stuff out there,” your mouth twists up with the words.

“I wish I could say it was different,” Palmer speaks almost like it’s an apology, “Though I bet you’ll be able to avoid most of it like everyone else again. Between the two of us, hopefully I’ll be the only one who has to shoulder that kind of weight again.”

You nod even if that doesn’t quite feel like the appropriate response. “It’s a dangerous job for you, isn’t it?”

“Oh sure at times it can be…” Palmer looks ready to speak again but stops herself each time, a strange smile tugging at the corner of her mouth when she finally sets her mug down. “I’ve had my fair share of catching wayward punches to the face, a couple that were actually aiming for me too. Can you believe I was in the hospital a few months ago from a gunshot wound?”

Your eyes open wide, “What happened?”
“Something that got way more complicated than it should have,” she gives a short shy. Her hand motions over part of her side and stomach as she talks, “I let my guard down while approaching a door. Hell, I got lucky that it went through all that wood first, took out some of the oomf, still hurt like hell though. I’m still technically recovering from it, though I’m on the easier part of that journey now.”

“Oh my god…” your eyes jump from where she had motioned at the previous wound and back up to her face, “What happened then, did you catch the guy?”

Palmer gives a bit of a sad smile. “He’s six feet under now, so we don’t have to worry about a guy like that hurting anyone else ever again.”

The venom beneath her words makes it sound like there’s more anger behind them than what she’s told you so far and you can’t help but prod.

“What happened? Was he like a burglar or something?”

“Worse than that--” she starts to explain, only to stop when the kitchen door swings open. You turn to find Crockett standing at the door way, hs eyes glaring at Palmer and a twitch below his moustache.

“Oh, nice of you to join us,” Palmer greets him just the same, “I’ve got your breakfast right here, but I’m not sure if it’s really going to hit the spot now-”

“Do you really think you should be telling Delilah stories like that?” he snaps the words out like Palmer hadn’t been talking at all.

“Oh so you were listening?” she raises an eyebrow at him, “Well then you should know that I was keeping all the really juicy details to myself, sorry kid.”

“She’s got more than enough to worry about, there’s no need to go and make her more scared than she needs to be!”

“I’m not scared by them-” you try to explain by Crockett seems to be ignoring you as he walks up, only for you to notice that he’s trying to put himself between you and Palmer. There’s a heavy, stale odor of alcohol still on his hands and clothes and his hair remains disheveled, though he speaks far too clearly to be drunk right now.
“Do you think it’s good to be discussing your little accident anyways?” he snaps at her again, “What happened to not talking about it?”

Pamer rolls her eyes at the scolding, “I didn’t even show her the scar! And besides, she was asking me for stories anyways, the girl needs something interesting while she’s stuck here.”

“That doesn’t mean you gotta tell her about this stuff--!” You swear you can start to see Crockett’s teeth start to bare more and more between his words.

>You wonder if it would be worth trying to put your foot down and reminding Crockett you aren’t just some little baby that he has to shelter from every little thing
>Or you wonder if you should play referee and help defuse the argument like nice, calm adults
>Or maybe they just need to work it out between themselves you think, and maybe then you should stay quiet
>What do you do as Crockett and Palmer argue?
>You wonder if it would be worth trying to put your foot down and reminding Crockett you aren’t just some little baby that he has to shelter from every little thing
It would be worth it.
Don't be too bratty about it, just remind him we know exactly what type of situation we're in and we are as worried as we can be.
A simple story isn't gonna do any more harm than what's already been done.

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