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An Anniversary and the Resistance {TG to join}

Where nations come together and discuss matters of varying degrees of importance. [In character]
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Zwangzug
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An Anniversary and the Resistance {TG to join}

Postby Zwangzug » Wed Oct 19, 2016 11:13 pm

(OOC: Telegram me if you want to have an observer participate in the thread, or "helping" either the spies or the resistance; priority will be given to those I've RPed with in the past or those from my region, but others are welcome too.)

October 19, 2016

Since re-emerging from its hiatus, Zwangzug's political and social institutions had been clicking along with more or less internal cohesion. It was still considered a highly democratic country, where intelligent citizens flourished and the environment was guarded. The government continued to provide a safety net for those who needed one, while maintaining transit lines to link the population together. A diversity of religious beliefs were expressed, and the book publishing industry gave voice to all kinds of opinions. While the country's connections to other cultural institutions had not been as reliable as they were in the past, the more isolationist age still allowed for a consistent association football league to thrive at home and abroad, with the Bassabook Old Boys runners-up in a recent Champions' Cup. A semblance of a national team had even coalesced in time to compete in--and win!--the Eagles' Cup quasi-invitational. Plus, with the recent resettling in the region of Forest, there was a hope that the country might have a place to stick around on a map with some like-minded neighbors for a while, setting aside the fact that its new western neighbors seemed to have faded away. It only begged one question.

What did you get the country that had everything for its tenth birthday?

A clever but dismissive takedown of the decimal system, praising instead either your favorite binary replacement or sighing about the impossibility of dating anything because of the nuances of time dilation? Traditional, if a little cynical.

A new flag? They already had one, after the hiatus.

A big old mountain? It had been done, thanks to some intriguing quid pro quo involving the national anthem of Caracasus.

An elaborate state dinner with diplomats from all over? Too formal.

A new anthem? Too high-commitment, see above standards.

Re-emergence into some of the aforementioned cultural hubs? Likewise.

A sentient robot who could plan their economy for them? This...had been attempted, and while more freedom seemed to be the reaction, Sal 9000 was still left to talk to itself every once in a while.

A reclassification into being considered "moderately economically free" by the World Assembly? It sounded like a joke. But after months and years of social democracy, international observers were finally willing to admit that some kind of economic miracle had taken place in recent times, and the experimentation was continuing to bear fruit. Not always ripe fruit, but fruit nonetheless. That very day, Zwangzug had been labeled a "New York Times Democracy." Perhaps it was just an aberration, but perhaps it was a sign of things to come.

And as for the ceremonies, Zwangzug had settled for a festive celebration in its capital, with subsidiary parties taking place across the country. That hadn't prevented various foreign dignitaries--and indignitaries--from showing up without invitation and just mingling in, but generally the mood was more "stately" than "national," as befitted the disunified peoples.

Since the grey times, every city had its own strange twist on the country's ancient tradition of "friendly competition," and delegates from plenty of them had been invited to show off their newly-discovered traditions. The Not-Particularly-Ancient-But-Highly-Honorable-Guild of Pyrotechnicians in Trink had been left in charge of the evening fireworks display, and rushed to put on a suitably stunning if not particularly patriotic performance, with colors blazing across the night skies and low-flying sparks causing spectators to ooh and ahh as they sailed precariously close to important government offices.

Maybe a little too close...

Seven members of Parliament watched in fear and excitement from their seats on the stage, huddled together as the light show continued on without interruption. Unbeknownst to the crowd around them, another divide had ruptured even the members of Parliament itself, a fission in the city that was just as insidious as LibCon versus ProgTrad ideologies, CCfoG devotees and LCAS hymnsingers, Ephesian FC partisans and fans of reasonable footballing formations. It was as consummate an insider/outsider divide as politics had witnessed, and in Zwischen, it went deep.

Faith in government had been one feature that had not quite been restored to its original highs after the return, not in the capital anyway. Oh, it was unlikely to think that they were able to keep a crackdown on anything too incriminating--the freedom of information requests hadn't turned up anything that bad, and guilt would out--but all the same, there were tricklings of doubt, that all was not quite as it seemed. With a few high-profile celebrities joining the quest for information, and willing to resort to increasingly risky protest behavior to obtain it, it seemed like the disaffected might have a case.

But perhaps they might have created their own worst enemies, as there were rumors that the government really had increased its "intelligence" capacities. Weren't those censuses awfully privacy-invading? And wasn't it Zwangzugian authority that had given other countries the moral justification to do the same? Maybe those friendly "bureau of information" technocrats weren't as benign as they seeemd.

The stakes--seven individuals stood grappling with the country's future. Siri Prasert, Eleazar Tolbert, Tara Matchesla, Pramoda Misra, Janice McFly, Isaac Salmier, and Virginia Tosla. Seven districts. Seven parties, and an independent. Four recruited dissidents, each in contact with their own cell but not knowing each others' identities. Three hardline loyalists, aware of each other.

One way or another, it would be an anniversary of historic proportions.
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
WARNING: by construing meaning from this sequence of symbols, you have given implicit consent to the theory that words have noncircular semantic value and can be used to encode information about an external universe. Proceed with caution.

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Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Sun Nov 13, 2016 8:57 pm

They called it The Lens, and weren't sure why.

It was a neighborhood in Zwischen, and it had a wonderful broomball tradition, and a not-so-wonderful kebab tradition. And like just about every neighborhood in Zwischen, it had train stations. Plenty of them.

And like some neighborhoods, it had train stations that had been closed, but not destroyed yet. This one happened to be underground in the literal sense, a subway station on an abandoned branch periwinkle line (you needed a lot of colors to keep up with the size of Zwangzug's metropoli). The parliamentarians had just walked on by the detour, looking to be on government business, and no one had paid them much mind.

And then there they were, at what had once been a sandwich stop to tide over hungry commuters. A subway station in a subway station, an underground in an underground. Far out of sight and earshot.

Eleazar Tolbert stepped out of the room, walking into the abandoned hallways and fiddling with a red phone, which gave off a distinct "if you need help, call..." variety. He weighed it as if listening for a dial tone, tested it in his hands, then set it back down, approvingly. By the time he got back into the sandwich joint, there was no more space at the booth except to the right of Janice McFly, who had taken the seat facing out towards the empty station.

"What did you do to the phone?" asked Isaac Salmier, skeptically.

"Hotline, isn't it?" Eleazar smiled. "Hacked it."

"Hotline where?" Siri Prasert asked.

Virginia Tosla rolled her eyes. "Don't let him start about the trains."

But it was too late; Eleazar gave a beatific grin and uttered a single name. "Javi."

"Come again?" asked Tara Matchesla.

"Yeah," said Pramoda Misra, who was seated to Janice's left. "This oughta be good."

"Well," said Eleazar. "As some of you may know, the republic of the Shell Shock Troop Clan is a fragile state which had a remarkable transition to democracy some time ago."

"Oh let me guess," said Pramoda, "they probably like sports."

"Sport," Eleazar conceded, "singular."

"And it's not cricket?"

"Probably not in either sense."

"And that's why I've never heard of them."

"Right. So, they technically returned from their isolationist phase around the same time we did, but establishing diplomatic relations with them wasn't super high on most of our Parliament's agenda. Seeing as how we had our hometowns and our constituents to care for. And seeing as how we--the resistance--became aware of the corruption in the government sooner than most, and had to do something about that."

Nods.

"We are all resistance, right? No government infiltrators among us?"

"Of course not!" Siri blurted indignantly.

"Wouldn't dream of it," said Pramoda.

"Good," said Eleazar. "I, on the other hand, appreciate the importance of transportation links with the Supercentro for our, uh, cultural vitality. So I took it upon myself to stay in contact with them as they rebuilt their 'Grisolon depot' that wasn't in Grisolon."

"This is just about you and your thing for trains," Virginia scoffed ominously, "which is why you're making us meet down here."

"Which is how," said Eleazar, "I got into contact with Javi. He knows about real rebellion, the kind they had to fight back in the day."

"Didn't that wind up not turning the tide after all?" Isaac asked. "I heard they only won on kind of some fluky stuff."

"Looong story," said Tara.

"He's a big deal in the resistance," Eleazar went on, "the other cells. I told him he should call us if he has any suggestions--even if we can't trust each other, necessarily, we can defer to an expert?"

"Sure," said Siri. "If such a person even exists."

The phone rang.

"Well," said Isaac.

"Janice, want to get that?" Eleazar asked.

Pramoda glared at him.

"She is the closest."

"Go for it, Janice," said Virginia, and Tara nodded along. Janice scurried up and answered the phone.

"Hello?" she said, heart pounding.

"Hello," said the voice on the other end of the line. His English was clear, but his accent bore the lilt of a native hispanohablante. Janice couldn't narrow down the specifics. "Is this the ghost station?"

"I guess it is," she said.

"Very good. And you are the leader?"

"Not forever," she said.

"But you will lead this mission."

"I hope so. First among equals."

"Then this is what you must do. Find someone you trust enough, and give them the veto stamp. Tell them I have given you this power."

"Trust enough?" Janice blurted.

The line went dead.

She paced back to the table. "Okay. First order of business, did anyone bring supplies for these missions?"

"Oh, sure," said Tara, hoisting a briefcase from under the table, "got a bunch of stuff right here. What do you need?"

"Javi--I mean, the voice--said something about a veto stamp?"

"Let me see." Tara opened up the briefcase and began rummaging through.

"What's that?" asked Isaac, leaning over her shoulder.

"My journal, don't touch."

"You're taking notes on us?"

"Sure."

"To take back to the government, maybe?"

"What! Of course not," said Tara. "I just like keeping a journal. Had a great one when I did the transmedia game in Inver last year."

"I hope you're taking this somewhat more seriously than a game," snapped Pramoda.

"Come on, have you ever known a dedicated rebel to use words like 'transmedia'?" asked Isaac. "Give me a break."

Tara passed a stamp to Janice. "Here you go."

"Right," said Janice. "Now who can I trust with this."

"Pick me!" said Isaac. "You know I'm a libertarian, I don't believe in voting for anything!"

"Pick me," said Tara, "it's my stamp."

"Pick me," said Eleazar, "I know how to work with Javi."

"I think I'll give this to Virginia," said Janice. "She's at least not asking for it."

Isaac sighed. "You owe me one."

Round one: Leader Janice McFly gives "No Confidence" to Virginia Tosla
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
WARNING: by construing meaning from this sequence of symbols, you have given implicit consent to the theory that words have noncircular semantic value and can be used to encode information about an external universe. Proceed with caution.

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Founded: Oct 19, 2006
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:16 pm

"Okay," said Janice. "So how about it?"

"How about what?" asked Eleazar.

"How about I take Isaac? I owe him one."

"If you're really who you say you are you don't owe anyone anything," said Siri. "Trust yourself. And maybe not even that all the way."

"I'm who I say I am," said Janice, a little short, "and I don't know anything. So I don't have any better ideas."

"Well, I'm in favor," said Isaac.

"Typical," said Pramoda. "It's the first round, nobody has any information."

"The spies do," said Janice.

"Like I said. Maybe there's nobody, and we're all getting worked up for nothing."

"Sorry," said Tara, "before I can lend you my totally blind and ignorant support, what even is this mission about?"

"I thought you came prepared?" Virginia raised her eyebrows.

Eleazar raised a warning hand. "You know that eyesore mansion Samuel Dada has built? Not too far from where the Amber meets the Mauve."

"Ugh, that," Janice shuddered. "Insult to decency, is what that is."

"May I remind you," Isaac said icily, "that this is a free country, and that freedom is exactly what we are trying to defend."

"Expression is the highest freedom," said Eleazar, "which is why plenty of avant-garde artists will be gawking at it, and which is why plenty of them should be gawking at it, say, after it's been covered in graffitied blue fists." No one needed that explained; it was the sigil of the reellion. "And maybe a few pamphlets scattered about with an explanation or two of our cause. Tastefully illustrated, of course. That viral image of Composite Minister Wainwright in his, ah, anniversary garb..."

"That's not even him," said Siri.

"What would you know about what influential politicians look like without--" Pramoda began. Siri, who was sitting on his left, kicked him under the table.

"I mean," she went on, "why bother spreading fake images? It only makes people more cynical. We want idealists on our side."

"We have to destroy people's faith in the government before they're ready to commit to something greater," said Virginia. "Right now they're too afraid. But break their spirits first, then show them a better way..."

"I guess," said Janice.

"Look, it's only the first mission, and we just need us two," said Isaac. "There'll be time later to do the tricky stuff. Right?"

"Assuming you don't screw it up," said Tara.

"Well, thanks for that trust."

"I think I'm ready to call the vote," said Janice. "All in favor? One...two...three?"

And every hand was raised.

"Told you," said Pramoda. "It's the first round, what could happen."

"Famous last words," said Tara.

"Wait," said Siri. "Virginia, do you want to use your veto stamp?"

"What, this thing?" Virginia toyed with it. "Pramoda's right, it's just the first round. Save it for a rainy day."

Isaac broke into a smile. "All right," he said. "Hope you're good at spray-paint."

Round one, attempt one: Leader Janice McFly proposes Janice McFly, Isaac Salmier. All in favor (none opposed)
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
WARNING: by construing meaning from this sequence of symbols, you have given implicit consent to the theory that words have noncircular semantic value and can be used to encode information about an external universe. Proceed with caution.

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Zwangzug
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Founded: Oct 19, 2006
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Wed Nov 16, 2016 12:16 am

Janice biked her way through the streets near Samuel Dada's garish monstrosity by night.

"You came on that?" Isaac asked, yanking his backpack off. He'd walked from the Mauve line.

"Sure. What's it to you?"

"People can see you."

"Oh, like you think the government's spying on us already, huh? Like they'd be able to get some kind of, I don't know what."

"There could be drones?" he shrugged.

"The trains aren't super-private either, you know."

"Whatever." He yanked his backpack off. "Let's get to work."

After a few rounds she had to admit that he actually did have a flair for art, certainly more than her very crude fists managed. "Eh," he gave a modest shrug, "this is nothing, you should see my scarves."

"Your scarves?"

"It's November, it should be cold enough for scarf weather. This isn't right."

"Do you blame the government for that, too?"

"Ah, not just them--let's see here--" he gave an appraising glance at her latest effort. "Not bad."

"Not bad?"

"It fits the--" he gestured. "Ambiance."

"Ambiance. Right."

"Of whatever this place is."

--

Night thickened. The wind picked up. It was still not cold enough for scarves. Soon, it became too dark to see if the other side of the house was actually getting painted or not.

"I think the moon is supposed to be pretty close tonight."

"Is that, like, some sort of symbolic representation of somebody's butt? Or the astronomical object moon."

"The astronomical object moon."

--

"It's kind of not fair to Dada that his house is just getting messed up in all this."

"Well you know what they say, the burger-enjoyers must be overthrown before the proletariat can rise up."

"That is not what they say."

--

"Did you bring your pamphlets?"

"Sure. Rushed through them on the latest draft of my favorite free word processor. You?"

"Of course. Remembered to download the images onto a personal account?"

"Yes, but it's not the government I'm afraid of..."

"Oh? That's commendable."

"No, it's just that I'm not on super great terms with my ex."

"...oh."

"The gray times didn't help let's put it that way."

"Sorry to hear it."

"This is more important."

"You're not wrong."

--

"You know, do you have any idea why we're still doing this manually instead of, like, posting pictures on Blatter?"

"I don't know. Maybe people are desensitized to that kind of thing."

"I guess."

--

And they took their leave by darkness.

But soon after, the pamphlets scattered and caught the attention of the Zwischen New Courier, and people thronged to visit the house.

Caught with his pants down, the headlines read. Can a lame duck who can't even keep dissident graffiti under control be trusted with the country?

No crossbows had been fired, no baseball bats raised. But in the battle for eyeballs, to say nothing of hearts and minds, it seemed as if the resistance had scored its first victory.

Mission one: Janice McFly, Isaac Salmier
Success, Success
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
WARNING: by construing meaning from this sequence of symbols, you have given implicit consent to the theory that words have noncircular semantic value and can be used to encode information about an external universe. Proceed with caution.

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Zwangzug
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Founded: Oct 19, 2006
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Sun Nov 20, 2016 5:06 pm

The rebellious septet reconvened in the vacant sandwich joint. "Well done!" Siri grinned. "My constituents back home even tried e-mailing me some of those pamphlets."

"Are they in it for the literary value?" asked Tara.

"The half of them that admit to reading Descriptive are," said Siri. "We might want to branch out next time."

"Everyone knows what a fist is when they see it," Eleazar pointed out.

"What's 'next time' gonna consist of anyway?" Isaac asked.

"Something we might need a little more coding skills for," said Pramoda. "We need three people to take down SAL 9000."

"Oh please," said Virginia. "The government tried switching to a slightly-more free market system some time ago. They even got the tax rate below 100%!"

"That better not be a rounding error," Isaac groused.

"Still progress!" said Siri.

"Whatever," said Pramoda. "The point is, the artificial intelligences looming over us are a symbol of government overreach. Even if they've dialed back their scope, they can't be trusted to make their decisions."

"And humans are better?" Janice asked.

"Individuals? No. A collective, talking things over, making decisions as a group, working for the common good? Yes, they are. Cells like us might have to be the model for the new, communal, order to follow."

"Very deep," said Eleazar.

"Anyway," said Pramoda, "I'll be proposing a team."

The phone rang.

"Wanna grab that?" Janice asked.

"Sure!" Pramoda said, clambering out of his chair and pacing over to the hotline.

"Hello," said the quiet voice on the other end. "Congratulations on your first success."

"Thank you," said Pramoda. "I mean, it wasn't me who was on the team, you know, but--"

"No matter. All may share in the pride, yes?"

"Indeed. But if we fail..."

"All will take the blame. Which is why you may need some more help."

"I'm yours to command."

"Choose someone you wish to--empower. Then have them walk the tracks with their neighbor."

"What? The tracks?"

"The old lines hold power, and while I do not put much stock in polygraphs, some of the biometric procedures are--forceful."

"Huh?"

"You will understand." The speaker hung up.

"Superstitious kook," Pramoda muttered, pacing back.

"What was that about?" Isaac asked, as Pramoda took his seat.

"Beats me," Pramoda said. "He said I have to choose someone--someone else? And then they'd go and walk on the abandoned tracks with their neighbor, and that would...do something...biometric?"

Tara's eyes widened. "The Voight-Kampff algorithm."

"Oh, no no no," said Siri, "if this is the kind of revolution that requires math, I'm out."

"Not that kind. It's supposed to be a way of detecting--impostors. Liars."

"Some kind of lie detector quackery? I don't know if I buy into all this empathy stuff," said Janice. "Do we have to read each other's faces now?"

"Neither did Javi," muttered Pramoda.

"No," said Tara, "it's mediated by dormant electric fields or something."

"If it's all a bunch of pseudoscience, what do we have to lose?" asked Eleazar.

"Pick me!" said Siri. "So I can vouch for you."

"Pick me," said Virginia. "I can check on Isaac and make sure the first mission was really legitimate, that spies weren't hiding."

"Likewise for me and Janice," said Eleazar.

Pramoda looked around. "Well," he said, "the first mission did pass. Odds are, those are people slightly more trustworthy, right?"

"Hey don't look at me," said Siri, "I just said I don't do none of that math stuff."

"I'd be happy to grant you whatever power you like, oh successful leader," he said, with a glance at Janice. "Check on Eleazar and his trains, or vouch for me before I pick the team and find out that I am, in fact, a loyal rebel. But I don't really believe that you'll be able to get a vibe from the results one way or the other."

"Any nonexistent power is still safer in my hands than these august representatives', right?" Janice teased.

"Of course," Pramoda laughed. "Go for it."

"So you'll be the next leader," she said, "and there's no chance of it circling back to Eleazar before curfew."

"Curfew?" Isaac echoed. "Man, are these government guys cramping our style."

Janice nodded at Pramoda. "Come with me."

They walked out of the store, down the poorly-lit hall and out to the platform, past the yellow warning barriers and then clambered down onto the abandoned rail lines. For a time they walked in silence, the metal below binding them together or perhaps sundering them apart, trust and doubt surging along the spur branch where once untold numbers of citizens had zoomed through darkness...

What happened out on the tracks perhaps cannot be spoken of. Enough to know that they journeyed, and listened to echoes and clanks and rustles where not even animals found shelter, and came back changed.

And when Janice emerged back into the half-light of the cohort, she said, "Don't trust Pramoda; he's a spy."

Round two: Leader Pramoda Misra gives "Overheard Conversation" to Janice McFly, who uses it on him
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
WARNING: by construing meaning from this sequence of symbols, you have given implicit consent to the theory that words have noncircular semantic value and can be used to encode information about an external universe. Proceed with caution.

User avatar
Zwangzug
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Posts: 4928
Founded: Oct 19, 2006
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Wed Nov 23, 2016 11:08 pm

"What," said Isaac.

"That's impossible," said Pramoda. "Janice is a spy! Trying to set me up. She hid on the first round."

"I'm telling you," said Janice, "the tracks don't lie, I know what I saw."

"Oh, I trust the procedure," said Tara. "At least one of them has to be a spy."

"What do you mean at least?" Virginia asked.

"Think about it if they're both spies," said Tara. "They set it up so we have to take sides. Then one or the other sneaks onto the mission, it's great."

"If Pramoda is a spy, why would he give Janice that much power?" asked Siri. "He'd know she could catch him."

"The Dada house mission did pass," Eleazar pointed out. "Is Janice a good enough liar to pit herself up against Isaac?"

"Apparently so," Pramoda said, "since you're all hearing her out now!"

"Well, it's your turn," said Isaac. "Want to pick a team?"

"Yes, I do," said Pramoda. "Knowing Janice is a spy...I sort of don't think Isaac is. I don't think she'd bring her co-conspirator along and risk them both exposing themselves. And I guess I'll go with Siri."

"How come Siri?" Tara asked.

"She seems to trust me."

"That's not a good reason."

"Well, if I pick someone who doesn't trust me, I doubt I'm going to get a whole lot of support."

"I guess."

"Do I have to explain why this is a bad team?" Janice rolled her eyes.

"I think we know where you stand, thanks," Virginia said.

"So can we vote, in that case?" Pramoda asked.

"You're the leader," said Eleazar.

"Okay," Pramoda said. "Isaac, Siri, and me. All in favor? One, two, three?"

Pramoda raised his own hand, to no one's surprise, and Siri raised hers. But nobody else had come forward in favor of the team.

"Really?" Pramoda asked. "You all trust Janice because she doodled some graffiti?"

"I haven't made up my mind yet," Tara said.

"Well, don't let her sucker you."

"No," said Siri, "this is good. See, if the spies had infiltrated this team, don't you think we would have seen someone else come out in favor of it by now? We're right to be cautious. I think I'm going to propose the same thing."

"That's heartening!" Pramoda said.

"Indeed. I'd suggest that if you were on the fence about it, you use these results to foster a change of heart."

"Good point," said Eleazar.

"Unless anyone else has anything to add, I think I'll call the vote," Siri said. "One, two, three?"

Her appeal had an effect, if not quite the desired one. While she and Pramoda were again in favor, this time, Eleazar had also raised his hand in support. Yet Isaac continued to hold out.

"Seriously?" Pramoda glared. "Do you just trust Janice more than me, or do you think we're in league together?"

"I trust Janice more than you," Isaac said frankly. "I think if she were a spy, she'd have sabotaged the Dada mission and blamed it on me. Do I look incredibly trustworthy to you?"

"Sure you do. I mean, I just chose you for the team!" Siri sighed. "Besides, we all know you have a track record of standing up to big government and stuff."

"All right," said Tara, "my turn."

"Great," said Janice. "Can I suggest making progress and taking Pramoda off the team because he is definitely, 100%, a spy?"

"Oh sure," said Tara, "yeah, definitely."

"Excellent. Now, as the next step, you should put me on the team, because I am incontrovertibly loyal."

Tara scrunched her nose. "I don't think that follows."

"It absolutely follows--"

"No, you're thinking of the converse."

"Don't make me singlehandedly Lilliputian Freedom Fighters this," Siri sighed, "I don't do math great."

"I'm telling you, I think they want to divide us," said Tara, "and we can't fall for it. So that leaves...I don't know. Isaac, I guess, but he won't vote for me. And Eleazar voted up that last team...maybe he's with them? I'll take Virginia and Siri."

"Who says I won't vote for you?" Isaac protested.

"You think Janice is trustworthy, yes?"

"Of course."

"So if I left her off the team, I'm not sure I'd get your vote, even if I picked you."

"Slow down," said Eleazar. "If you pick a team including Isaac, but not Janice, why can't he just decide 'this is good enough and Janice is probably the fourth loyalist,' and vote for it?"

"He probably can, he just seems too stubborn to go through with it."

"And that's not even what she's doing," said Isaac. "She's leaving us both off. So if this team is to stand a chance, since I know that I'm legitimate, that would make Janice a spy. I don't believe that, so I have to vote against."

"You should really consider it, though," Pramoda suggested.

"At least I see where you're coming from," Isaac said. "You're the one she accused! Tara's just overthinking things."

"Am not," said Tara. "If this is all the thanks I get, I'll go ahead and call the vote then."

"Sure," said Virginia.

"One, two, three..."

This time it was exactly the members of the team who voted in favor; Tara, Virginia, and Siri were all in support, but nobody else was willing to take the leap.

"Siri, what's your deal?" Janice asked. "First you wanted Pramoda and Isaac, now you're willing to go on a mission with these two? Who do you think the spies are?"

"It's getting late, I just want to guarantee that I go at all," she said.

"There is the curfew, yes," said Tara. "We should all probably vote up Isaac's team."

"I love dictatorship, said no one ever," said Isaac. "That's great, but why?"

"Because of Virginia's veto stamp," said Eleazar. "For every mission, we have five attempts to vote on something and get out of the train station. If we wait too long, the government will probably be able to track us here."

"Okay," said Siri, "but this is only the fourth try."

"Oh," Tara said. "If we vote this down, and then no matter what we vote through next round--if Virginia's a spy, she could just veto it."

"It's fine, though," said Virginia, "because I'm not a spy."

"I believe you! But we should probably just get in the habit of unanimously approving things."

"Cool," said Isaac. "Okay, so I choose Janice. And then...I guess I'm also gonna pick Siri."

"Siri?" Janice blurted.

"Sure. You think Pramoda's a spy, right?"

"I don't just think so, I know it!"

"Okay. But then look at this, Pramoda and Siri are all buddy-buddy, picking each other for teams, voting each other's teams up, getting all excited to go on missions."

"Mmhmm," said Janice. "And this is supposed to make me feel better about Siri?"

"It is, actually. Because if they were both spies, I don't know if they would want to risk both hacking into each other's code. Or maybe they'd just assume the other one would do it, if they were on the team."

"If you say so," Janice shrugged.

"Well, I do say so," said Isaac, "and guess what, you all should vote for my team, because you don't really get a choice."

"He has a point," said Eleazar.

"Cool. On three. One, two, three, everybody go!"

Sure enough, the entire cell raised their hands in support.

"So, Virginia, are we good to go?" Isaac asked.

"If I use the stamp, then I get to choose the team for the next round?" she asked.

"Yeah. And we'd all have vote it through, because of curfew."

She hesitated. "I do lean towards trusting you both. The first mission succeeded. Sometimes the easiest explanation is the correct one. But that doesn't mean I can trust Siri, and I think that's a stretch. So I will use my stamp." She handed the token back to Tara, who stowed it in her briefcase. "And I'll add myself to the first team instead of Siri."

"You're letting Janice take advantage of you," Pramoda groaned.

"Guess we'll find out," said Virginia. "Calling the vote in one, two, three..."

And once again, the result was decisive and unanimous.

"Cool," said Isaac. "Hope your hacking coding is better than your secret coding, cause I don't think we've been exploiting this double agent name thing to its full advantage."

Round two, attempt one: Leader Pramoda Misra proposes Pramoda Misra, Isaac Salmier, Siri Prasert. Two in favor (Pramoda Misra, Siri Prasert), five opposed.

Round two, attempt two: Leader Siri Prasert proposes Siri Prasert, Pramoda Misra, Isaac Salmier. Three in favor (Pramoda Misra, Siri Prasert, Eleazar Tolbert), four opposed.

Round two, attempt three: Leader Tara Matchesla proposes Tara Matchesla, Virginia Tosla, Siri Prasert. Three in favor (Tara Matchesla, Virginia Tosla, Siri Prasert), four opposed.

Round two, attempt four: Leader Isaac Salmier proposes Isaac Salmier, Janice McFly, Siri Prasert. All in favor, none opposed.

Virginia Tosla plays No Confidence.

Round two, attempt five: Leader Virginia Tosla proposes Virginia Tosla, Janice McFly, Isaac Salmier. All in favor, none opposed.
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
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Zwangzug
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Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Fri Nov 25, 2016 11:32 am

Code: Select all
So this is it, huh? Operation PEMDAS is go.

PEMDAS?

Please Excuse My Dear AI, Sal 9000.

I wasn't aware we needed to come up with catchy codenames.

Well, unlike you two goofballs, I'm sticking to the mission at hand.

Unlike Siri, I thought I could get away with math puns.

Do either of you actually know how to write this software?

I got an techy intern from one of my old campaigns to work on it, she needed something to do after Rakesh kind of handled the whole...elections...thing.

Yeah I got a bike friend who's good with computer things. Hopefully he's not, like, an active secessionist or whatever.

Great.

What, can you?

I mean it's basically just capitalism stuff, right? How hard can it be?

Is anyone recording who's making what edits? The simultaneity seems a little overwhelming.

What kind of surveillance freak are you? No, at this speed the keystrokes all get blurred in together.

So if this fails...

It won't fail.

There won't be any way to distinguish us.

Quit the attitude.

So what do we want it to do? Not boot at all, or revitalize the market?

We don't want to shake up the market too much, remember, too many jolts too quickly will rock people's confidence and erode the safety net.

And like we said, it's not really the AIs that are running the system these days.

Instead try to hijack output displays so that it redirects into something favorable to our cause, or at the very least, not the state regime.

"Question. Unite. Rebel. Defy." ?

Is that an acronym or something?

No.

Only I saw the QU...

No I just thought that was like the natural sequence of events.

I like it.

And...uploading!


The following morning:

Code: Select all
Good morning, citizens! The Ministry of Finance wishes you a fair and prosperous day. Today's approximate gross domestic product is ₵1,498,990,644,896,670.


Mission two: Virginia Tosla, Janice McFly, Isaac Salmier
Success, Success, Fail
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
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Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:01 pm

It was a much more downcast group who gathered in the train station. Eleazar refused to make eye contact with those who had returned from the mission, instead deciding that an out-of-date map brochure looked like a great thing to stare into. (He had unfolded it and then found it completely impossible to refold again, the map being just too complicated already, and settled for making vaguely origami-esque shapes in the corners.)

Siri, for her part, was in full-blown recriminations mode, staring at the participants as if boring down on them would surely yield insights. "C'mon, Isaac!" she pleaded. "It was definitely you, wasn't it?"

"It was Janice," Pramoda raged, "like I tried to tell you before, but no, we had to vote this through because of stupid curfew."

"The simplest explanation would be that it was Virginia, wouldn't it?" Tara pointed out. "Start with two loyalists, they succeed. Add a spy, she sabotages it."

"That would be simple," Eleazar admitted, not looking up from the intersection near the ZS^3.

"Well, what do the people on the team think?" Siri asked. "They should know more than we do."

"Except that one of them is a spy," said Eleazar, "so that doesn't really help. Maybe two, if they got lucky..."

The phone rang.

"Seriously?" Pramoda asked. "Now?"

"What's the problem?" Virginia asked. "Now's when we need help, isn't it? Now that we're in trouble."

"We got help," he said, "and it didn't do us any good, did it? People trusted Janice anyway!"

"Eleazar needs to take that," said Siri, "so that I can confiscate his stupid map." She crumpled it into a ball and tossed it into the recycling bin across the room on one bounce. Reluctantly, Eleazar hauled himself over to the hotline.

"You are the representative from Ilinge," said Pramoda.

"Yeah," said Siri, "and?"

"If you think the map of Zwischen is bad, how do you ever deal with casework back home? Tourists get lost in that kitschy figure-eight of yours all the time, and don't tell me the locals don't."

"We've moved into whatever century it is we're in and have electronic ones. I thought an LC like you would appreciate saving trees."

"Touche," Pramoda admitted.

"Now, if we have to import some fabric to handle all the souvenir t-shirts, that probably boosts the economy too."

"A fair trade we can all get behind," Isaac grinned.

Eleazar paced over to the phone. "Hola," he murmured. "¿Qué tal? Lo siento que--"

"No need," the voice at the other end interrupted.

"I know of the failure of the last mission. And the others here do not seem to appreciate the achievements of 'Grisolon' as I do; I'm not sure which setback may be more harmful, in the long run."

"Do not put too much trust in my guidance. Every weapon is--how do you say--double-barreled?"

"Double-edged. Swords. You're thinking of pistols."

"They are faster than your way."

"They're probably illegal here, too."

"That's never stopped you, has it?"

"Not yet."

"Good. Then here is your next step. Go to and look for someone you wish, for whatever reason, to vote aye or nay, before the rest of you. Give this person the conch shell, and they will make the opinions of the others, for better or for worse."

"What conch shell?"

The line went silent.

Eleazar trooped back to the assembled group. "Any news from the other end?" Tara asked. "I don't suppose they've figured out who sabotaged the mission."

He shook his head glumly. "I don't suppose you have a conch shell in that briefcase of yours?"

"Oh yeah," she said, "we had to collect clues for this one thing I was doing last year. Good times. Almost got a nautilus but I got beaten to it by a bunch of crazy bikers."

"I resemble that remark," Isaac sighed.

Tara produced a conch, unceremoniously giving it to Eleazar.

"It's beautiful," he said. "I wonder if it's from Grisolon."

"Isn't Grisolon, like, not on the ocean?" Janice said.

"Actual Grisolon, I mean. Not the depot."

"Please don't get him started," said Siri.

"So this," Eleazar said, "I'm supposed to give to someone, and then they'll vote on teams aye or nay, before the rest of us."

"Pick me!" Isaac said.

"Why do you want it?" Eleazar asked.

"Cuz?" Isaac said. "It sounds good. More stuff."

"I don't really think this is something I should be giving to someone who I trust. The rest of us all get to vote at the same time. Whoever I give this to...we get the benefit of seeing how they vote, before we decide. It's us who benefit from it, not them. So if I trust you, maybe I don't want you to have it."

"But do you trust me?"

"Not directly," Eleazar admitted. "Or at least, not based on anything specific that you've done. I sort of like the theory someone said before. The simplest explanation would be that Virginia sabotaged the second mission, and it was good before."

"Now I'm 'someone'?" Tara laughed.

"Well, that might be a little too pat. But I still think we'd all benefit from seeing what Virginia likes." He handed Virginia the conch.

"I'll do what I can," she said. "Only one thing. If I blow into this, I get the feeling we're not gonna stay undercover real well."

Round three: Leader Eleazar Tolbert gives "Opinion Maker" to Virginia Tosla
Last edited by Zwangzug on Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
WARNING: by construing meaning from this sequence of symbols, you have given implicit consent to the theory that words have noncircular semantic value and can be used to encode information about an external universe. Proceed with caution.

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Zwangzug
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Founded: Oct 19, 2006
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:32 pm

"All right, Eleazar," said Janice, "your team."

"As we were saying before," said Siri, "who do you think sabotaged that team? You who were on it. Did you see anything weird in the hacking? Code you didn't recognize?"

"I think Isaac is probably trustworthy," Janice said. "He could have framed me on the first mission, and ddn't when he had the chance. So I think Virginia is probably the spy."

"I don't know," said Isaac. "Pramoda accuses you too? Maybe he was right all along, and you're the spy."

"That could be," said Virginia. "But you're all giving Isaac a lot of trust, here."

"If Isaac's a spy," said Eleazar, "who does it even make sense for him to be in league with?"

"Pramoda, maybe?" Tara suggested. "And...Siri?"

"Okay," said Eleazar. "We're overthinking this."

"Overthinking what?" Virginia asked. "What's even our mission?"

"Oh yeah!" Pramoda grinned. "That thing."

"We need to cause a train shutdown," Eleazar said. "Build a barricade, wall the subways in, grind the system to a halt."

"Well, perfect!" said Tara. "We're right here, aren't we?"

"Wait, wait," said Siri. "Eleazar asking us to stop going on about trains? Count me in."

Eleazar rolled his eyes. "You know what I mean. The government controls the transit, controls the movement of people. We need to make a show of force here to make the city recognize us."

"I meant it! Put me on your team."

"All right, all right. Me, you, and...Isaac."

"How come Isaac?"

"Like I said. I think Virginia is the most suspicious from that last team--that's why I gave her the conch--but I'm not sure between Pramoda and Janice, either."

"I guess," Siri shrugged.

"I thought you didn't trust me!" Isaac said.

"I don't," she said. "But I know I'm loyal, yeah? And Eleazar's willing to take a chance on me. That has to count for something."

He squinted. "'Something' doesn't go that far."

"I'd rather have him out there trying to block up those trains."

"Are we ready?" Eleazar asked.

"I don't like this," said Tara. "This whole theory, Virginia being the weak link and everything, was my idea. But you won't pick me?"

"I said, I'm not committed to that," said Eleazar. "I don't even know if I trust Janice or not, yet! You sound desperate."

"She kind of does," Isaac said. "I think I could give this a try."

"All right," said Eleazar. "Virginia, you have the conch. What say you?"

Virginia hesitated. "I don't like this. You're all giving Isaac too much credit for the first mission. Nay."

"If she's against it, then I'm for it all the more," said Eleazar. "The rest of you, all in favor?"

He raised his hand, as did Isaac and Siri. The others remained opposed.

"No one wants to take the leap?" Eleazar rolled his eyes.

"It's fine," said Siri. "There's no veto stamp to rush curfew, we'll get later proposals."

"Not if the spies send something terrible first!" he seethed.

"Spies won't send anything terrible," said Isaac, "we're on this. Janice, over to you."

"Okay," said Janice. "Pramoda's a spy. I know that. And last time, he and Siri were all about going with each other on the team. He picked her, it got rejected, she picked..."

"It was the same thing!" said Tara.

"Exactly," said Janice. "He acted like he trusted her. And she must have trusted him."

"So what," said Tara. "You think she was in league with him or something?"

"No way. I think she's legitimate--if she were a spy too, they might not want to risk picking each other. Too much risk something could go wrong. So she's in."

"And me too, yeah? Pramoda picked me also," said Isaac.

"I thought you said you trusted him!" Janice railed.

Isaac shrugged. "I just wanna go build some barricades."

Janice rolled her eyes. "I'm picking Tara. You want it too much."

"Wait, why Tara?" Eleazar asked. "She'll get the last pick anyway. She has no incentive to vote for anything sooner."

"If I find a team I can trust, I'll vote for something," Tara said. "Believe it or not, I have no desire to listen to you argue about conches when I could be home with my son, or literally anywhere else."

"Touche," said Siri.

"Well, I'm against it for obvious reasons," said Pramoda. "But if the rest of you need convincing, just look at how Janice has been trying to run the show. Sneak onto the first team to build trust; cast doubt on me so you'd stop listening to me; then sabotage the SAL 9000 effort. Why, she even got to distribute the veto stamp! It got wasted last time, and we were stuck with a formality. That can't just be Virginia's fault."

"Virginia and Janice together?" Tara blinked. "Does that even make sense? Why would a spy have given the stamp to someone trustworthy?"

"Please don't let her get the chance to sabotage another mission."

Janice rolled his eyes. "Anything else?"

"Nah," said Siri. "Take it away, Virginia."

"I'm not going to get a chance to propose anything tonight, am I?" Virginia said.

"No," Tara said. "It can't go past me."

"And people don't seem to trust me, for whatever reason. If I don't get a shot...I think this is the team I'd like to see. I'm in favor."

"Seriously?" Pramoda said. "I get not trusting me, but you can't hold out for anything you're on?"

"Shut up," said Janice, "calling the vote. Who's in favor?"

She raised her hand, but was met with only skeptical eyes darting back and forth.

"Seriously?" she blurted. "No one?"

"You saw the team I'm cool with," said Siri. "Eleazar and Isaac. I don't think we're all trustworthy."

"I don't know," said Tara. "I was willing to give you a chance--I didn't think it was you with Virginia, anyway. Not at first. But then when she voted it up, I thought maybe she was trying to rush something through. Before it could get to me. Or telling the other spies, this was their time to vote it up. So I voted down, I wanted to be cautious."

"I'd offer you my justifications," said Pramoda, "but--"

"Skip it," said Janice.

"This is why we have the conch," said Eleazar. "So that we can see what other people like, and if we don't trust them, we don't vote for the team. You already know what I preferred, anyway."

"I'd rather have been on it," said Isaac.

"Well, my turn!" Pramoda grinned. "So Janice failed that last mission; that means one and likely both of that last team are loyal. Since Virginia doesn't seem to believe in us, I'll take Isaac. And...Tara's been thinking things through, in her own way. I like the fact that she's trying to figure things out, I think she's probably honest. Only the spies know everything."

"You're more sure about me than Virginia?" Tara asked. "I mean, I'm flattered."

"I don't think Virginia trusts me, so I'm not sure it'll matter either way. This at least stands a chance of getting through, curfew or no curfew."

"Huh. Is there anyone else willing to vote for this?"

Eleazar sized her up. "I like some of your ideas, but I think you're overthinking this. I'd rather see Janice than Pramoda, I think. And of course, I'd rather be on the team."

"You had your chance."

"You're switching everything up so much," said Siri. "If Janice is a spy, don't you just want to swap yourself in for her?"

"I could," said Pramoda. "And then if people vote it down, what do we learn? We should send this because it's the team I believe in, but if you're not willing to do that, at least give Tara more information to work with before it comes around to her again."

"So here's some information, you're switching everything up too much."

"Great. Anything else before Virginia's shell game?"

"We should vote for this," Isaac said, "LibCons have their faults, but for all their spending problems they do know a lot about overdoing it on transportation."

"Are you just that desperate to go on teams?" Janice sighed. "Come on."

"I don't think so," Virginia said. "That does sound a little...opportunistic. I'm against."

"Okay," said Eleazar. "And everyone else?"

"On three," said Pramoda. "One, two..."

This time, it was again those on the team in favor and those off against, still shy of a majority.

"Good news, on the other hand," said Isaac, "these teams have been so different, there has to be something between the next couple of us that someone likes. Right?"

"For sure, that's how it goes," said Siri. "Anyway, I'm going to send Eleazar's team again. Me, him, and Isaac."

"Janice, you should vote this up," Eleazar said. "It's this, or Tara's team, and we'll have no choice before curfew."

"Hey, there's always a choice," said Pramoda, "we can choose to reject whatever Tara comes up with and let the regime wall us in or whatever. I bet they're real good at barricades too."

"You know what he means," Siri said. "Only the people on this team liked it--there wasn't anybody else who pushed for it, not like Virginia before. I think that makes it a good sign."

"No it doesn't!" Janice protested. "Only the people on the team Pramoda just suggested liked that one. That doesn't mean that it's good, does it? Don't say you trust him now."

Siri closed her eyes for a minute, then focused them on Janice. "You're right. Isaac was on both, and he just likes voting for stuff this round."

"Why the change of the heart, Isaac?" Virginia asked. "Last round you were more cautious."

"I can only control what I do," Isaac shrugged. "And I guess I'm not as good at judging your expressions as I thought. At least if I can guarantee I'm on it, it's better than nothing, the way people are starting to doubt me."

"All the same," said Siri, "I might as well pick Janice--I don't know if I believe the turnaround."

"No, I think Isaac is safe enough," said Eleazar.

"Safe enough? You trust that?"

"Sure. You don't?"

Siri shrugged. "He looks nervous. Like he has something to hide."

"No I don't!" Isaac protested.

"Well, Janice, what do you think of this team?" Eleazar asked.

"I'd rather be on it," Janice said.

"Now you sound as bad as Isaac!" Siri rolled her eyes. "It's this or Tara's team, or curfew."

"Tara, would you pick me?"

"Why should I tell you?" Tara asked.

"Because you sound suspicious if you don't."

"Whatever," Tara said, "I sound suspicious if I do, I can't win."

"So we won't let it get to you," Siri said. "Me, Eleazar, and Janice. That's what it'll be. Virginia?"

"Not gonna happen."

"Stop being so blase about this," Eleazar said. "A vote against Siri's proposal is effectively a vote for Tara's, at least defend your convictions if you're making them."

"Whatever," said Siri. "The rest of you, in three, two..."

And yet again, it was those on the team who raised their hands in favor; Siri, Eleazar, and newly-selected Janice, with the others staring into silence.

"Okay. Fine, fine," said Siri. "Tara, don't blow it."

"Thanks for your vote of confidence," Tara said. "Great. So, I do think that Janice is a spy, which makes Pramoda loyal. And from the last team...well, both Isaac and Virginia are voting up lots of stuff, Isaac kind of consistently, and Virginia stuck her neck out, with that team I was on before."

"You voted that team down," Pramoda pointed out.

"I know," said Tara. "I think she was wrong, but she was willing to take the risk. She didn't care if it made her look suspicious. So I'll give her a try."

"No way!" Eleazar protested. "She's the most suspicious-looking person here! I gave her the conch myself."

"That's just your opinion. You trust Janice. I don't."

"I thought you said this was the simplest thing."

"The simplest thing isn't always right. I saw the later votes, and things changed."

"Then you're going to blow another mission," Janice said.

"You don't think I could be disloyal? I think you already know I'm telling the truth."

"Stick with me," Pramoda said. "I won't let you down."

"Does Virginia still have to vote first?" Tara asked.

"Might as well," Eleazar said. "Although I don't trust her at all."

"This isn't what I would have gone with," Virginia said, "but we don't have a choice. I'm in favor, and we all should be too."

"Great," said Tara. "The rest of you, ready?"

There was unanimous approval, of course, and Tara nodded. It was time to redefine "train to nowhere."

Round three, attempt one: Leader Eleazar Tolbert proposes Eleazar Tolbert, Siri Prasert, Isaac Salmier. Three in favor (Eleazar Tolbert, Siri Prasert, Isaac Salmier), four opposed.

Round three, attempt two: Leader Janice McFly proposes Janice McFly, Siri Prasert, Tara Matchesla. Three in favor (Janice McFly, Siri Prasert, Virginia Tosla), four opposed.

Round three, attempt three: Leader Pramoda Misra proposes Pramoda Misra, Isaac Salmier, Tara Matchesla. Three in favor (Pramoda Misra, Isaac Salmier, Tara Matchesla), four opposed.

Round three, attempt four: Leader Siri Prasert proposes Siri Prasert, Eleazar Tolbert, Janice McFly. Three in favor (Siri Prasert, Eleazar Tolbert, Janice McFly), four opposed.

Round three, attempt five: Leader Tara Matchesla proposes Tara Matchesla, Pramoda Misra, Virginia Tosla. All in favor, none opposed.
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
WARNING: by construing meaning from this sequence of symbols, you have given implicit consent to the theory that words have noncircular semantic value and can be used to encode information about an external universe. Proceed with caution.

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Zwangzug
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Posts: 4928
Founded: Oct 19, 2006
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:25 pm

The grandiosely-named Republican Station had been built after the Consolidation, in the country's new capital. From there, an InterCity Express rider could travel directly from Zwischen to Logrove, or to Canbix or Nuel or Bassabook. Or even, were they ready to risk the boos and jeers from people still a little bitter about where the borders of Egalia District had been drawn, take ICE 1 to Keppal City.

And then keep going, along the connecting lines that formed ICE*. Once you were already in the bitter center, you might as well journey on to the FTC, to ride among the figure eight that Siri knew so well. And then on to Spenson, to soar among Isaac's rockets. And from there, continue to Inver, to the city council where Tara had once fought for revolution.

The ICE* bound all their homes together. And it was in Republican Station where it all began.

It was in Republican Station where the rocks moved in.

Little pebbles, enormous boulders, one by one they fell from the ceiling, slowly fencing off the platform where the train was due to make its next departure. This was no easy feat, seeing as how Zwangzug's operant stations really couldn't take much of a slowdown at night, but at least the bigger trains were not quite as frequent, and regularly scheduled. There was just enough time for three shadowy figures to hover in the rafters, whispering as they continued their excavations in reverse.

"So how's Rakesh, then?" Pramoda chipperly asked.

"Eh?" Tara said.

"You know, Rakesh. Virginia's Rakesh."

"Oh, he's as well as can be expected," Virginia said. "You know, I keep wondering whether I should introduce him to one of the cells. I know he would never betray us--I'd trust him with my life--but I don't quite know if he has the exact...temperament for our sort of work."

"Temperament how?" Tara asked, dropping a large gray mass.

"He's more of a 'check the latest poll numbers' fellow, 'can we practice debate topics X Y and Z,' 'whose candidates should we be picking up in the instant runoffs' type of guy. The little details. He's going to miss the whole...bureaucracy of it all when the revolution comes."

"Sacrifices have to be made," said Tara.

"I always liked him," Pramoda sighed. "Well, give him my best. And, er, I don't suppose..."

"What?" Virginia said.

"I would hate to assume, you know. Diversity and whatnot."

"Whatnot?" Tara echoed.

"But, it does get rather lonely without someone to share one's, er, special interests with, and Swati was never the sort..."

"Is this some kind of Namirite heritage thing?" Virginia asked.

"Oh, heritage schmeritage," he said, "I just really want someone to talk cricket with."

"You know what, I'm not sure. It's never really come up. But I'll ask."

"If this goes wrong you can go seek exile in Yafor 2," Tara muttered, "I'm sure they'll take you in."

"Is that even possible, metaphysically speaking?" Virginia asked.

"Well, hopefully we won't have to find out," said Pramoda, launching another fusillade of rocks into place.

The Zwischen New Courier
Government initiative involves pretentious art, probably some math or stuff

Overnight, a beautifully-formed stone arch sprung up over the ICE* tracks, presumably to see off travellers heading west to Keppal [City -ed]. "Yeah, it felt pretty cool to ride under that...thing," said vacationgoer Ellen McGobel. "Whatever it was."

Other travellers agreed that it was probably "the government deciding to spend money on culture or something," and that "that was the kind of thing that they would do." Department of Transportation officials have not yet made an official unveiling of the avant-garde sculpture, but most passers-by agree that "it looks kinda nice."

The fact that it manages to stay up under its own power and hasn't crushed any passing trains is attributed to "math, or some stuff," according to professor Peter Wexler-Langley of Heisenberg University in Arlington, who added that "it was probably a catenary curve or some kind of junk like that." At press time, the Department of Finance has not provided updated statistics on the size of our information technology sector, but who even knows with these people.

Mission three: Tara Matchesla, Pramoda Misra, Virginia Tosla
Success, Success, Fail
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
WARNING: by construing meaning from this sequence of symbols, you have given implicit consent to the theory that words have noncircular semantic value and can be used to encode information about an external universe. Proceed with caution.

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Zwangzug
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Founded: Oct 19, 2006
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Sun Jan 15, 2017 1:44 am

Slumping in the seat, Isaac glared at the previous mission participants. "Seriously," he said. "How hard is it to build a pile of rocks."

"Actually it's really hard," Tara blurted. "You have to get up there without being seen, which, they're running trains all night. Then get back down, which, I'm not saying I had a problem with it, but if you're not used to climbing--"

"Skip it," Isaac hissed, "it was a rhetorical question."

"Sorry."

"What are you apologizing for? Did you fail the mission?"

"Of course not! What do you take me for?"

"Whatever," said Eleazar. "What's the next task?"

"Should be really easy," said Isaac. "And low-tech. Chopping down some power lines to cause an outage."

"You mean like that Uncarg incident?" Janice rolled her eyes. "I thought we were supposed to be encouraging secessionist-type stuff."

"Not like that. You know, like, dismantling government control of...stuff."

"We already got rid of public radio, what more can these people want."

"These people?" Virginia echoed. "See, now it sounds like you're the spy."

"I'm just saying, I don't think this is going to attack the government specifically. Depending on where you go..."

"Over by the AM radio station, maybe? Bunch of useless signals over there," Isaac suggested. "Without an active baseball team."

"And that achieves what?"

"Chaos. Publicity. It's a start. We've got our backs to the wall now, we have to do something big."

"Quite," said Pramoda. "Big how, exactly?"

"So we need four of us," said Isaac. "But there's duplication among the power lines; if there's one attempt at sabotage, it'll still go through, just with some delays. Nothing the bureaucracy can't patch. The spies would need two of their number to undermine our efforts."

"Okay," said Siri. "So we find three people we trust. Better to get all four and be ready for the next round, though."

"Sounds so easy." Isaac rolled his eyes. "But now that you mention it--"

The phone rang.

"So any idea how we're going to deal with that guy once, you know, the power goes out?"

"I believe telegrams are the traditional method," Eleazar said.

"Great. Super efficient. Also won't clue the government into us at all."

"You want to get that?" Tara asked.

"I'd love to," Isaac sighed, shuffling along as if trying to get the worst over with. "Rebel cell here, this is--I don't know why we don't have secret codenames, come to think of it."

"Get your own," said the other voice, "I'm confident that you're a creative person."

"Well, thanks for the trust. We could use some more of that going around here."

"Trust is to be valued. So too is true knowledge."

"Got some going cheap?"

"It is not yours to possess, but to bestow."

"Sounds like you're trying to trick me into the raw end of a bargain. I won't fall for it."

"Go see whether there is a pair of binoculars in your group's possession, and give that away to someone you would make farsighted."

"Like, seeing the future? That kind of vision?"

"Watching the present unfold. One among you may watch another's movements as you carry out whatever task it is you are called to do. See what transpires, for good or ill."

"Okay. That sounds...helpful?"

A click of farewell was his response.

Isaac paced back to the group. "I almost hate to ask, but, Tara? Or it doesn't have to be Tara, maybe somebody else came prepared today, so, you know, whoever. Does somebody have binoculars?"

"I do!" Tara grinned, reaching down for her ever-present suitcase and pulling a pair out. (Virginia was still in possession of the conch, although she had not brought it to Republican Station.) "Will this work?"

"That almost looks useful," Pramoda said. "Is it to keep the watch? Warn us if someone's coming?"

"I don't think so," said Isaac. "I think I...give it to someone, and then they can watch someone else on the mission. See whether that person sabotages or not, maybe!"

"Well, great!" Tara grinned. "Then they can figure out who a spy is!"

"Oh?" Pramoda said. "That would be nice."

"That would be nice," said Siri, "if it was any use at all. Any spy so brazen to sabotage on this mission would know that they had someone else waiting to cut the backup lines, correct? Otherwise they'd just help out like the rest of us."

"Yes..." said Isaac.

"So what good is knowing whether someone sabotages? The spies have already scuttled two of our plans; ruin this or the next and our cause is as good as dead. It doesn't do us any good to know who's firing the fatal crossbow."

"Then that whole call was a waste?"

"I'm sure it would have been useful earlier," Eleazar pointed out.

Isaac gave a bitter laugh. "Whatever. Keep your stupid binoculars."

Round four: Leader Isaac Salmier gives "Keeping A Close Eye On You" to Tara Matchesla
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
WARNING: by construing meaning from this sequence of symbols, you have given implicit consent to the theory that words have noncircular semantic value and can be used to encode information about an external universe. Proceed with caution.

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Zwangzug
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Founded: Oct 19, 2006
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Sun Jan 15, 2017 4:31 pm

"Okay," said Isaac, "forget the binoculars, we don't need them. We can do this the hard way. Starting from the beginning. What do we know?"

"At least one of Janice and Pramoda is a spy," said Siri.

"At least one? You think they've been playing the long game?"

"I actually don't. They really do seem to be at each other's throats, I don't think that's fake animosity. But I don't see how we can rule it out. If Janice sabotaged the PEMDAS mission, Pramoda messed up the trains..."

"Then who would be the last spy?"

"I'm not a spy. It would probably be Eleazar, then."

"Yeah, him and his informant 'friend' on the phone! Pretending to be helpful and then giving us these useless binoculars. That would be like him."

"Okay. Well, I don't think that's what happened, I still think Janice might be trustworthy..."

"What?"

"She didn't fail the first time, did she?"

"You keep saying that, I'm not sure it means anything."

"Or are you saying that because you're a spy who hid?"

"Of course not. But...how exactly did the accusation happen?"

"Well, first they went into the tunnel, and it was all dramatic and stuff, and then Janice accused Pramoda of espionage."

"No, no," said Isaac irritably. "Before that."

"Well," said Siri, "Janice said she wanted to carry out the whole absurd algorithm thing on Pramoda. She picked him to investigate."

"And before that," Isaac said. "He granted her the power, with the understanding it could only be used on a neighbor."

"Huh. Which meant--he would have known she would either check him..."

"Or Eleazar the train kook. If he's a spy, would he risk letting a loyalist expose him? Particularly if he's in league with Eleazar? That's unthinkable. So I think he's the honest one, and she's a spy."

"Maybe," Siri said dubiously. "Then...Virginia would probably be a true rebel, too? From that second team?"

"And Tara would be the spy from the last one. Yeah, Eleazar and Tara! That explains why she carries all this useless junk around, for Eleazar's friend to hand out, and Janice to frame Pramoda with! And what has this conch ever gotten us?"

"I don't know," said Siri. "Some of this could have been pretty powerful at the right times. I'm frustrated too, but I'm not going to let that distract me from the obvious theories."

"So, 'Tara brings a lot of junk to the meetings that's never actually proven anything' isn't an obvious theory?"

"That's not what I--"

"Whatever. You know who I'm the most confident is telling the truth right now?"

Silence greeted him. "I don't," Virginia finally replied, "but if you want me to influence your decision I can probably speak up first--"

"It's Siri," he interrupted, "because she's the only one talking to me. Did nobody think to chime in, or can you not keep up with us?"

"Well," said Tara, "it's kind of futile to weigh in when you spend all your time insulting my preparation."

"Of course," Isaac sighed. "But honestly, does anyone think either of us are spies at this point? Siri and I, I mean. Because we're the ones trying to figure this out and move the cause forward."

"Anything's possible."

"Really not helping."

"I'd like to trust you," Eleazar said, "but you underestimate Javi at your peril."

"Yeah, yeah, so I didn't actually care about your opinion anyway. Siri--do you really think that Janice and Pramoda are actually at odds?"

"I do. I sort of think Janice is telling the truth, even if you don't, but I'm much more confident that one of them is."

"Okay," Isaac said. "Okay. So here's the plan. Siri and I are going on the mission, no question about that. And then, I'm taking both Pramoda and Janice."

"What?" everyone blurted, Pramoda and Janice not least among them.

"We can have one spy, right? Siri seems to think there's only one spy. If she's fooled me--I don't think I can find a better team, anyway, not that will get votes. So if and when this succeeds, the rest of you will know that Siri and I have to be telling the truth."

"This is ridiculous," Eleazar scoffed. "What has Siri done?"

"Actually try to decipher things. And like I said, I don't really want your help. But I will need four votes. Pramoda, Janice...are you in?"

"The spy might not go along with it," said Siri. "We might have to get someone off the team to vote it up."

"I like your style," said Pramoda. "I'll vote it up."

"Me too," said Janice. "I think that's a good plan."

"See what I mean?" said Isaac. "She just went along with something Pramoda voiced his opinion for. If she really knew he was a spy, shouldn't she be against? This is too easy."

"It's not binding," Siri pointed out. "If this gets voted down, we'll be able to try again."

Isaac glanced around the table. "Yeah, but you won't get to send it. We'll have to trust someone else."

"Seeing the votes will help."

"I guess so. Okay, yeah. This team."

"You sure this is what you want?" Virginia said. "No, this is too easy. I'm against."

"That's binding," said Siri.

"And she was my best guess for the fourth upvote, with Pramoda," Isaac scowled. "Oh well. In three, two..."

Isaac, Siri, Pramoda, and Janice all raised their hands. A critical bluff called, or a successful gambit? The city above them waited to see.

Round four, attempt one: Leader Isaac Salmier proposes Isaac Salmier, Siri Prasert, Janice McFly, Pramoda Misra. Four in favor (Isaac Salmier, Siri Prasert, Janice McFly, Pramoda Misra), three opposed.
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
WARNING: by construing meaning from this sequence of symbols, you have given implicit consent to the theory that words have noncircular semantic value and can be used to encode information about an external universe. Proceed with caution.

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Zwangzug
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Founded: Oct 19, 2006
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Mon Jan 16, 2017 7:06 pm

"Isn't this probably going to get us electrocuted?" Janice asked.

"Some loss that would be," Pramoda said.

"Maybe there's, like a single station we just go in and flip a switch or something," Siri ventured.

"That seems a lot of work for four of us," Isaac pointed out.

"Okay," said Siri. "We're supposed to wear these bird gloves that another cell dropped off."

"Bird gloves?" Pramoda echoed.

"Yeah. They make you...not get electrocuted. Like a bird doesn't, you know, when it sits on a wire."

"This is sounding more and more implausible every minute," Janice groused.

"Look," Pramoda said, "if you have a colleague here who's going to sabotage this whole thing, can you just tell us and get it over with? So I don't have to waste my time, it's getting kind of cold already."

"Oh yeah!" Isaac said. "Speaking of your obvious sabotage, Janice, you're supposed to stand right here so Tara can get a good view with her binoculars."

"Did we not just establish that those don't matter anyway?" Pramoda said.

"We did. But she insists on using them anyway, just on principle."

"On the plus side, if Janice does sell us out, everything will still be all lit up for Tara to get a really clear view of her betrayal," Pramoda noted.

"Thanks for your...optimism...I guess," said Siri.

"Right," said Isaac. "Janice is here. Pramoda, you go way across the street, and please try not to kill her with that axe thing even if you do have alleged proof she's a spy. Siri, down by those subway stairs, maybe, and I'll head for by that tree."

"Who do you think you are?" said Siri.

"Well, technically, I am the leader of this mission."

"Says who?" Pramoda called, but he crossed the street anyway.

"Technically, says the deterministic arrangement of the table." Isaac reached into his glove. Solidarity! Except in matters where deterministic arrangement is concerned, our cell has embraced aleatoric glories by now. We hope that does not lead to a schism in the cause. "Uh, that's totally a reason for you to respect me and everything."

"Timber!" yelled Siri, a few minutes later.

"What about it?" Pramoda asked.

"I mean, get out of the way."

"Oh."

"Let him get crushed," Janice said, "it would be no loss."

"Does it matter if it's not a tree, though?" Isaac said.

"It's made of wood, isn't it?" Siri said. "Same difference. If not more dangerous cause of electricity and stuff."

"'Timber' isn't a warning for our transient human lives, it's a signal of outcry at the loss of life for the aged trees!" Pramoda, ever the LibCon, protested. "These poles are already dead, there's nothing more we can do to them."

"Seriously, how does anyone think this guy is not a spy," said Janice.

"She kind of has a point," Siri pointed out, "if he keeps griping he might give our position away."

"Okay, we'll try something else," said Isaac. "How's 'incoming'?"

"What?" Janice said.

"Think fast!"

"What?"

"Faster!"

Janice dodged.

You are nowhere in particular, and everywhere at once. You are among the snow angels in Twineur. You are by the lake in Forbridge, building new robots, if only for the beleaguered Department of Finance. You are in the FTC, on the west side at Bryce College, studying law, on the east side, savoring pizza.

You are in despair and do not know how long the pain, physical, mental, will endure. You do not know what you will have to sacrifice of yourself to find a way out. You do not know if you are following the right path, if you can make it last, if you even want to, if you can succeed.

The Zebras have been gone for years; you do not know when or if they will return, or if anything could ever be the same again.

Yet somehow a voice sounds from deep within you, that every curse can be broken.

You are listening to WTB, AM 1450 in Zwischen. The static surges again, your hand on the radio, your body the tuner.

And then it doesn’t.

And then the world goes silent.

Tara Matchesla uses "Keeping A Close Eye On You" on Janice McFly
Mission four: Isaac Salmier, Siri Prasert, Janice McFly, Pramoda Misra
Success, Success, Success, Success
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
WARNING: by construing meaning from this sequence of symbols, you have given implicit consent to the theory that words have noncircular semantic value and can be used to encode information about an external universe. Proceed with caution.

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Zwangzug
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Posts: 4928
Founded: Oct 19, 2006
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Tue Jan 17, 2017 11:49 pm

Despite the fact that power was restored relatively quickly, the mood in the restaurant was buoyant. "Told you!" Isaac beamed. "Way to go, Siri."

"Thank you for trusting me," she said. "Let's bring this home."

"All right," said Tara. "What's our last mission?"

"We," said Virginia, "are going to blow up the Ziggurat."

"We're what?" said Janice.

"This is the symbol of the government's power, our history--such as it is--the bureaucracy--everything," said Eleazar. "This is what it all comes down to. We need the people to respect what we can do; we need to strike at the heart."

"We don't even debate there anymore!" said Tara. "How about we do something that would actually make Parliament shut down! Now that would threaten the government."

"It's not just about the state," said Pramoda. "Sometimes, even in Zwangzug, it's about the nation too. Like we've said all along--we have to destroy before we can rebuild, and the stakes won't ever be higher."

"There could be innocent tourists in there!" Janice said. "This is his trap. He's trying to make us lose face."

"So we do it on level eight. Or seven," said Isaac.

"And then how do we get out?" Tara asked.

"Do it on a time delay," Siri said. "We'll make it work."

"Are you all experts in building bombs now?"

"I thought you had all the materials in that briefcase of yours. Shouldn't you have something useful--if we can trust you?"

"It's fine," said Isaac. "Siri's from the east side, I'm sure she knows lots of people who can help."

"Seriously? You prove my name, and this is what I get?"

"Look," said Isaac, "we'll--Siri and I--will figure out who we can trust later, and that will be the team. But before we do that; is everyone agreed that they are willing to do this? No matter the cost. Because if not, you can just leave now."

Tara squirmed. Virginia stiffened her gaze. Janice gulped. Pramoda tensed. Eleazar raised his eyes as if beyond the rafters, which wasn't that impressive, since beyond the rafters was still about street level.

No one spoke.

"Then that's it," said Isaac. "So, here's what I think."

The phone sounded one last time.

"...I think Virginia should get that," he clumsily redirected.

"My pleasure," she sighed. "At least if I'm passing it out I won't get stuck with something useless again."

"That veto stamp feels dangerous," said Tara. "Especially now. Siri's the last chance before curfew, right? Isaac can't lead again...if the spies stop her, what chance do we have?"

Virginia walked over and reached for the hotline with cold hands. "Hello?" she said. "See, we can turn it around."

"Very good," said the other voice. "You see, you should not lose heart."

"And if we win?"

"What?"

"What happens then? If--if the resistance pulls it off?"

"Oh, the usual."

"What's the usual?"

"Change your country's name? Incorporate colonies on new terms? Reclassify yourself to celebrate your new and wonderful freedoms? Then drift into irrelevance, cease to exist for a few years, don't find it worth the time to reemerge, and get spoken for via proxy."

"That's the usual?"

"Of course not. There is no usual. It's different for everyone."

"I'm sorry."

"The past is not yours to change. And aren't you supposed to not enjoy dwelling on guilt, anyway?"

"No stereotyping, now."

"It's the future you need to make. So go make one."

"Thank you. Yes. That's the plan."

"Oh." A laugh. "I suppose I could help you with that..."

"Anything would be appreciated."

"Still the tracks hold light and darkness. Choose another person to walk them."

"With their neighbor?"

"Not necessarily."

"Then who?"

"You're fighting for freedom, aren't you? Let it be their choice, theirs freely."

Virginia hesitated, looking back at the assembled group. "Is anything really free down here?"

"You tell me."

"Thank you. I--I'll do my best."

Silence, once more.

"Well?" Siri pressed when Virginia returned to the group.

"Don't get your hopes up," Isaac sighed, side-eying Tara and her briefcase.

"No, it's, it's good news, I think," said Virginia. "I get to choose someone, and they have to go walk the tracks with someone else, whoever they want. It'll reveal their allegiance."

"Knowing who someone is does us no good if nobody else believes you," said Janice.

Isaac paused. "But it's different now. Whoever you choose--bring me! Or Siri. You'll know we're not lying about what we see in there."

"Yeah," said Virginia. "I can't pick myself, can I? And prove to you that I'm telling the truth?"

"What did he say?" Eleazar said.

"I...I don't think so, no."

"Pick me!" Janice said. "Please, shut Pramoda up."

"But I want to clear my name," said Virginia. "Okay, so it's one of them two, Pramoda and Janice. And then--Tara and Eleazar have to be the other two spies! Tara was on the third mission, it's just a question of whether Pramoda was with her."

"Well, that's from your perspective," said Siri. "Maybe Tara's resistance. Maybe Eleazar's resistance, and then there were definitely two spies at the train station, and it's just a question of if there were three."

"Even without knowing what I know, do you really think Eleazar could possibly be resistance at this point?" Virginia blurted.

"It's not that likely," Isaac admitted. "Two or three spies? That's way too complicated."

"You can't just insult the hot line and say that's all Eleazar's fault," said Siri. "This is a powerful opportunity you have, and whoever it is you're talking to, Javi or whatever his real name is, deserves some thanks."

"Fine. Fine!" said Virginia. "If that's how it is, I'll prove it to you right now. Eleazar, you go walk the tracks, and if a train hits you so much the better."

"With whoever you choose," said Isaac. "So long as it's Siri or me."

Eleazar nodded at him. "So be it."

That time it took only moments, the algorithm swift and decisive, winnowing down realities from lies to truth. The afterimages of forgotten trains still surged between them, the power still raw under their feet, but in the end Isaac's mind was already dreaming two steps ahead of the silent tunnel and one step beyond the moment where they stood, already trying to weight the believable from the merely feasible--and Eleazar, ultimately, offered no resistance.

"Like we said," Isaac called, making his way back. "He's a spy."

Round five: Virginia Tosla gives "Open Up" to Eleazar Tolbert, who uses it on Isaac Salmier
Last edited by Zwangzug on Tue Jan 17, 2017 11:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
WARNING: by construing meaning from this sequence of symbols, you have given implicit consent to the theory that words have noncircular semantic value and can be used to encode information about an external universe. Proceed with caution.

User avatar
Zwangzug
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Posts: 4928
Founded: Oct 19, 2006
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Wed Jan 18, 2017 11:14 pm

"I'm afraid so," said Eleazar.

"I knew it," said Isaac. "Nobody who goes on about the train systems of the Shell Shock Troop Clan for so long can possibly be trustworthy--and that wasn't an invitation to continue," he added, seeing Eleazar open his mouth.

"But what else am I going to talk about?"

"Nothing," said Virginia, "resign yourself to your fate."

"No," said Siri, "but this narrows things down by a lot. So one of Pramoda or Janice is a spy, and one of Virginia or Tara."

"Pramoda's the spy," said Janice. "And--Virginia is too, nobody else could have sabotaged the PEMDAS mission."

"If we trust you," said Isaac.

"If Janice is a spy, Pramoda is honest," said Siri. "And we still need to pick between Virginia and Tara."

"Hello?" Virginia said. "I am the leader here."

"No sense in rushing it," Siri said. "Wait until we have something that everyone agrees on, and then we'll send it whenever we send it. We can wait till my turn if we have to."

"All right," said Isaac. "So--if Virginia's a spy, she's been on a team with both Pramoda and Janice. Either way, that would have been a team with two spies."

"Huh," said Tara. "But they only made it look like one sabotage. How did they do it?"

"I don't know," said Siri. "Why don't you tell us?"

"Well, I have no idea. I was on the mission with her and Pramoda, I didn't see anything at the time that looked like them telling each other what to do. But I can't say for sure."

"Who do you trust more, Pramoda or Janice?" Isaac asked.

"I'm not sure; for a while I didn't trust Janice, but I'd need to reconsider everything."

"Well, now would be a great time!" Siri snapped.

"You have to be loyal, I know it!" Janice said. "Please trust me. I know who all the spies are now."

"Siri," said Isaac. "What if Virginia is telling the truth?"

"Then--Janice is a spy, and Tara is too?"

"Then everything makes sense. One spy on the PEMDAS mission, one on the train mission. Like I was saying."

Siri nodded slowly. "If by 'everything' you mean the missions and the sabotages."

"Well? What else is there?"

"The hotlines? Tara's briefcase?"

"Now you're as bad as Eleazar."

"This could end everything. I'm not committing to everything before we review all the evidence we have."

Isaac sighed. "Eleazar, have you by any chance been tapping the phones? Could you replay these conversations?"

"I could tell you some things about tappers," Eleazar smiled.

"No, we can do this from memory," Tara said. "Virginia's been getting a lot of junk. Who gave her the veto stamp?"

"That was me," said Janice.

"See," said Siri. "That was a good tool. If Janice is a spy with Tara, it would have made more sense for her to give it to Tara, rather than give a loyalist power."

"And Virginia used it, to do what?" Pramoda said. "Make herself dictator before curfew? Anyone could do that, I don't think we can read anything into that either way."

"Okay," said Siri. "Then the whole walk-the-tracks thing went down."

"We've been through this," said Isaac. "But now we know Eleazar is a spy. If Pramoda is a spy, he was giving loyalist Janice a 100% chance to catch a spy in himself or Eleazar. There's almost no way a spy would take that risk."

"Of course he would!" Janice yelled. "I know all the spies now, and you're still not hearing me out!"

"I see your point," said Siri. "That's pretty compelling."

"Then Eleazar, the spy, gave me the conch shell," said Virginia. "He kept saying it should go to someone untrustworthy."

"Did she ever use it for anything interesting?" Pramoda said. "I'm not sure it made much of a difference."

"Yeah," said Tara. "She voted up someone's team, even though she wasn't on it. At first I was really nervous, thought she was a spy rushing to get a bad team through. So I voted down. Then later I figured it made her look brave, willing to take risks. I guess I should have stuck with my gut."

"Who was on that?" Isaac asked.

"Me, I think?"

"That might have been Janice's team," said Pramoda.

"Virginia and Janice together? Yeah, it could be. Hmm."

"All right," said Siri. "Then came the binoculars, which we won't speak of again to preserve the vestiges of Isaac's sanity."

"Too late," said Isaac."

"And finally, Virginia got Eleazar to reveal himself."

"If she were a spy," said Isaac, "she could have just forced one of us to go walk the tracks. Then someone would have learned that we were telling the truth--nothing they didn't already know. So she helped the cause."

"Okay," said Siri. "I guess we'll never be able to know for sure, but I think I'm coming around. Between everything--Virginia and Pramoda as spies is hard to fathom."

"Pramoda, do you trust Virginia?" Isaac asked. "I know technically she could still be a spy..."

"Technically, blah blah," Pramoda said. "She helped unmask Eleazar, he's been trying to frame her, she didn't pick a double-spy team. Yes, I trust her."

"Then I'm ready when you are."

Siri nodded. "Let's do it."

"I'll propose the only team that makes sense," said Virginia, "and using the conch, I'll vote it up."

"Please don't do this," said Janice. "We have time, we can talk it over."

"Pramoda, if you're legit, you're falling into a trap," said Tara. "Hold on."

"On three," said Virginia. "One, two, three..."

The rest of the team raised their hands. Tara and Janice kept theirs lowered in anguish; so, too, did Eleazar, expressionless.

"That's good, right?" Siri nodded at him.

Eleazar shrugged. "I'm a creature of habit."

"Don't read anything into what he does," said Isaac. "No going back now."

Round five, attempt one: Leader Virginia Tosla proposes Virginia Tosla, Pramoda Misra, Isaac Salmier, Siri Prasert. Four in favor (Virginia Tosla, Pramoda Misra, Isaac Salmier, Siri Prasert), three opposed.
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...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
WARNING: by construing meaning from this sequence of symbols, you have given implicit consent to the theory that words have noncircular semantic value and can be used to encode information about an external universe. Proceed with caution.

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Zwangzug
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Founded: Oct 19, 2006
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:23 pm

North of the Ziggurat the crowds bustled as if it was just another day, a few diehard Zebras fans in their shirts and a decent number of football fans wearing a rainbow of jerseys. There was, of course, Vanderpent 3 and Keane-Liuprand 8. And Eskridge 14 and Gerland 7. And Guaman 17 and Ilsinha 17. And Yakoleva 23 and Olsen 10, fading into the crowd...

Inside, beyond huddled crowds eager to catch a glimpse of culture, a golden haddock glimmered against black walls. A faded, half-forgotten plaque marked the building as 47th on a onetime effort of World Heritage treasures. "Does that foundation even exist anymore?" Siri mused. "Like, when we blow this up are they gonna be on our case?"

"They're gonna be the least of our problems," said Pramoda.

They took the elevator to level seven. Literally. As Virginia pointed out, they were never going to get a better chance to be government officials in disfavor. "Department of the military," Siri scoffed, "pfft."

"Here?" Virginia asked.

"Keep going, if you don't mind," Isaac said. "Outside, I thought I saw something. I wanted to check."

Virginia shrugged. "Fine with me."

So they climbed the stairs until they reached the eighth level, where light streamed through the transparent walls. "The ceiling isn't completely see-through," Isaac pointed. "There's a little platform, on top."

"You're right," Siri peered up. "What is it?"

"I have no idea, nothing substantial. Bunch of wires, maybe. Almost..."

"What?" Pramoda asked.

"Like it could have been a radio antenna. But there's nothing there."

"Whatever," said Virginia. "Are we doing this or what?"

"The time for 'what' was long ago," said Siri.

"Okay," said Virginia. She set a small, vaguely prismoidal device in the center of the room. "Everyone brought the right kind of rope and match, yeah?"

"Yup," Pramoda said.

"Great. So, we each tie one end to one of the sides of the box. Then we coil the rope in a spiral around the room to give it as long as possible to burn. Light the other end, and run for the door."

"Are you sure this is how bombs work?" Siri asked.

"Totally," said Virginia.

"And it needs all four of us here," Pramoda asked, "why?"

"Don't want the wrong wires being detonated too soon or anything," Virginia pointed out. "Bureaucratic safety regulations apply everywhere. Failsafes and all."

"If you say so."

"Awesome," said Isaac.

Ropes were fastened. Elaborate loops were looped.

A labyrinthine path was traced on the floor, circles within a square.

Shivering, Siri lit her fuse.

Glancing one more time towards the city below, Isaac lit his as well.

Pramoda and Virginia yanked on their ropes, which pulled free from the fake knots they'd left behind. Immediately, they turned their attention to constructing real ones--binding their stunned colleagues before they could make a break for it.

Siri's jaw dropped. "Both of you?"
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
WARNING: by construing meaning from this sequence of symbols, you have given implicit consent to the theory that words have noncircular semantic value and can be used to encode information about an external universe. Proceed with caution.

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Zwangzug
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Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Fri Jan 20, 2017 8:59 pm

"Not too bad, huh?" Pramoda smirked.

"But...how?" Isaac gawked. "Who sabotaged the train station?"

"That would be me," said Virginia.

"And you just went along with it?" Siri asked.

Pramoda nodded. "It was Eleazar's work, really. He kept complaining about how Virginia was so untrustworthy, she was obviously a spy. So I figured that meant he wanted her to carry it out."

"If you'd guessed wrong you could have done our work for us!"

Pramoda shrugged. "Virginia took the real risk. The team she voted up for with the conch--"

"That was Janice's," said Siri. "That was right, we could have gone with it again and it would have been enough for us. Then why would you ever take that chance? You almost doomed your own cause?"

"I could tell Tara was scared," Virginia said. "She was overthinking everything, and with my support, she would talk herself out of it. It was a calculated risk."

"Scared the heck out of Eleazar, though," said Pramoda. "He wanted to do it by the book, kept talking about how simple it could have been after the first round."

"And that," said Isaac. "Why would you pick Janice to reveal yourself to?"

"I figured I could be just as loud as her. If not in the moment, then down the line. You wouldn't put much stock in a success early on, even though a sabotage would only create what you got anyway--two people arguing against each other. And look what happened--you talked yourself into the obvious, but wrong, answer."

"Look at yourselves, monologuing on the top stories of tall buildings," Siri rolled her eyes. "Is this starting to sound a little derivatively Candelariasian to anybody?"

"Don't be stupid, we're not in Kura-Pelland," said Virginia.

"What," said Pramoda.

"But seriously," said Isaac, "what are you going to do with us? You can't just kill us. I mean, technically, you could, I guess, if you like brought a crossbow or something--"

"Don't give them ideas," Siri said.

"Right. But, this is still Zwangzug. As, um, repressive and anti-freedom-of-information as your regime is, and as much as you cover up, the sudden unexplained deaths or even disappearances of two fellow parliamentarians on your watch would be abnormal even for us. The people will respond in kind. Unless you really want to answer for that, I suggest you let us go."

"If nothing else," said Pramoda, "they've proven their mettle. Maybe it's time we let them in on some real state secrets. What do you say?"

"What?" said Virginia. "These people? Are you crazy?"

"I think once they see it our way, they'll be, shall we way, amenable to a change of heart."

"I'll never betray the resistance!" Siri laughed.

"Don't consider it a threat," said Pramoda. "Think of it as a...job offer."

"There's nothing you can hold over us," said Isaac, "so don't bother."

"Really?" Pramoda asked. "Not even information? Haven't you ever wondered how the Lens got its name?"

The north wall shattered.
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
WARNING: by construing meaning from this sequence of symbols, you have given implicit consent to the theory that words have noncircular semantic value and can be used to encode information about an external universe. Proceed with caution.

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Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Sat Jan 21, 2017 3:31 pm

Two of the pedestrians in football jerseys from outside stood proudly on the eighth floor. It was hard to tell who was more surprised.

"What are you doing here?" Siri asked.

"It looked like you were a little bit tied up," said the one in the Guaman 17 replica. "We thought we'd help out."

The other parliamentarians, if it were possible, looked even more stunned. Siri blinked.

"We kind of took the long way," he went on, "but sacrifices must be made, you know, and he's been to Wayr Stadium a couple times, so, I guess that counts as altitude training."

"Sorry," Siri finally said, looking at the others' faces, "Do you know this guy?"

"That's right," Isaac said, "she wouldn't know. That--that has to be Javi. The voice from the hotline, anyway. If that's even your real name."

"Of course it is," Javi said. "Who were you expecting?"

"I don't know," Isaac admitted. "So it's all true? You're just some random guy from the Shell Shock Troop Clan who sympathized with our movement and got to clandestinely help us out?"

"Sure," said Javi.

"But some of it was so useless! The binoculars never--"

"We kind of have bigger problems right now," Siri cut him off. "Can you help us?"

"No need to get involved," Virginia rebutted. "Everything's under control."

"Yeah," said the one in the #14 shirt, "I can tell by the way the fuses are getting ominously closer to that bomb you have over there."

This time it was Isaac's turn to turn in wonder at his voice. "But that makes you...Percy from Spenson? You're a legend!"

Percy blushed. "I see your friends are not football fans."

"I'm not a football fan," Isaac scoffed. "I'm just from Stoal District."

"Autographs later, guys," Siri said.

"Right," said Javi, dashing across to where she was still tied up. He began loosening the knots, and she quickly rushed to take over.

"Hang on," Percy nodded at the bomb, "priorities, here?"

"That won't go off," Virginia began, "see, it needs--"

Pramoda elbowed her.

Percy knelt down and began finicking with it, while Javi stepped over to help Isaac free. A frustrated Virginia moved to attempt to restrain Siri again.

Siri, displaying some prowess that would come as a total deus ex machina if it hadn't been established along with a bunch of the other random backstory details in the parliamentary elections thread, unleashed an amazing martial arts move that sent Virginia sprawling across the room, which had, of course, been blown open by the others' arrival. She clung to the edge, dangling between the broken window and the dark levels below.

"Hi," said Percy, prodding at the bomb, heedless of the fire tracing its path around him, "A little help would be nice here."

Javi gritted his teeth. "I'm sure it would be."

He strode past Percy, across the room, to where a petrified and extremely confused Virginia was battered by the winter blasts. "Is this the part where you say something nonsensical about all the great astronomy you've witnessed over the years?" she muttered, as he extended a strong hand. "Because if I have to live in your gibberish debt, I might as well just drop."

"What? No. Back before our uprising we could barely see any of the constellations, anyway. Just smog."

"Huh. I'll allow it," she said, clambering in. "Then what's this about?"

He hesitated, as they knelt on the floor. "Your country isn't perfect. None of them are. That's why I fought to make it better. But what you have here, what you're trying to become--it's not worth becoming a killer over. If we could pull it off, more or less, so can you."

Virginia snorted. "Tell that to the rebels."

"I'm not helping you for your own sake. I'm just trying to save the resistance from itself."

"If you value our enemies over the mission," hissed Percy, drawing a crossbow, "then the resistance has no time for you."

"This is our mission," Isaac said, "not yours. So if you'd just clear out and let us, uh, get back to it..."

For a brief moment, Percy looked down at the bomb, stricken. The fuses reached the center, fizzled out, did nothing.

"Get back," Javi whispered, and Virginia bolted to the side.

Then spite took over again, Percy fired, and Javi toppled down one level after the next, into the sidewalk below.
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
WARNING: by construing meaning from this sequence of symbols, you have given implicit consent to the theory that words have noncircular semantic value and can be used to encode information about an external universe. Proceed with caution.

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Zwangzug
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Founded: Oct 19, 2006
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Sun Jan 22, 2017 3:58 pm

On the sidewalk below, the increasingly confused crowd, jerseyed and otherwise, confirmed what those frozen in shock would soon when it was less crowded and inconvenient to do; namely, that Javi was actually dead. Not "fallen from heights occupied by a sketchy government but disappeared under mysterious circumstances with intent to lead into a sequel hook," but, "completely deceased." His wasn't that kind of arc, alas.

On the eighth floor above, Virginia, Pramoda, Isaac and Siri, and Percy, once they'd had time to recover from their remarkable survival, their numerical disadvantage, the shock of the situation, and getting their bearings back, in that order, suddenly realized that getting the bomb under control before anyone else did would probably be a good thing to do. They dove for it, and while Isaac and Siri were perhaps a hint more athletic or faster than the spies, nobody could catch Percy even with a split-second head start caused by not having a crossbow to consider dropping, seeing Pramoda oncoming, and tucking it under his arm instead.

"You understand that that got sabotaged, right?" Virginia said. "It's not going to work."

"If it's not going to work," he said, "then why are you so desperate to keep it from me?"

Pramoda squinted down. "On second thought, maybe we should just leave." He turned and ran towards the stairs.

"You said it wasn't going to be that big," said Siri, "it wouldn't kill anyone..."

"Was that the spies talking?" Isaac rolled his eyes. "You can't trust them."

They ran for the stairs; Percy, held up by the device he was toying with, by then a step or two behind. By the time they got back to level seven, spy and rebel alike, he was at the top of the stairway and had closed the door behind him to the remaining windows overlooking the cold city.

Another turn in his hands, another spark--

--and suddenly a bright blue flash rose up from the box, surrounding Percy, and when the others could bear to look past the fading light, the stairwell was empty.
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
WARNING: by construing meaning from this sequence of symbols, you have given implicit consent to the theory that words have noncircular semantic value and can be used to encode information about an external universe. Proceed with caution.

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Zwangzug
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Founded: Oct 19, 2006
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Mon Jan 23, 2017 10:46 am

They waited, of all places, in the old Parliamentary chambers. It wasn't, Pramoda pointed out, like anyone was about to use it for anything, and if anyone wanted to interrupt them they could pull rank. If anyone wanted to pull rank on them, well, Pramoda and Virginia could probably come up with some kind of justification.

"Okay," said Isaac. "An explanation. Can we have one?"

"Javi gave his life for what he believed in," said Virginia. "There are worse deaths."

"Uh-huh," said Siri. "And Percy?"

"He was fighting for what he believed in," said Pramoda, "in his way."

"Yeah, yeah," said Isaac, "but like, where is he."

"Where," said Virginia, "isn't the question."

"Is this a guessing game? When we come up with the question, will you answer it?"

"Would you believe me if I told you that we truthfully, honestly, did not expect that to happen?" Pramoda asked.

Siri paused. "No."

"Is that a no, we've lost all credibility because of the whole espionage problem? Or just a no, that particular question is straining your trust?"

"Both."

"We really did intend to sabotage it for the purposes of...you know. Sabotage," said Virginia. "Hence the whole..."

"Spying thing," said Isaac.

"Right."

"But you haven't denied knowing what happened," Siri pointed out.

"He did something to the bomb that we didn't expect," said Pramoda.

"But you didn't expect the bomb to go off in the first place."

"True."

"We're going to need a new window," said Virginia, before they could continue.

"Ephesian's going to need a new manager," Isaac sighed. "Has anybody talked to Boris?"

"Boris? The representative from Twineur?"

"Why not him? He likes football, and it's better than hanging around Parliament, on current form."

"This is ridiculous," said Pramoda. "Look, you've seen too much."

"We clearly have not seen or heard enough!" said Isaac.

"Exactly."

"Those mean...the opposite of the same thing." Virginia explained.

"I'm saying I still think we should bring them into the fold. Once they've seen the necessity of what we do, they'll come around."

"We told you, we won't change our minds," said Siri.

"Well, look at Javi. I don't think he ever intended to stop working for freedom; there were just...exigencies. Before you betray our sacrifice, at least give us a chance to tell our side of the story."

"And if we don't turn?" Siri challenged.

"We can discuss that later. But I think you'll want to reconsider."

"A chance to speak?" Isaac narrowed his eyes, calculating. "I think everyone deserves that."

"Fine," said Siri. "You're the leader."

"Pramoda's the leader. I'm just trying to sway your opinion."

"All right," said Pramoda. "Welcome to Project Zeitnot."

Enormous thanks to Northern Sunrise Islands for coordinating plot events. This couldn't have happened without you, or at least, not quite the same way.

The Zebras just might gallop again someday...
Factbook
IRC humor, (self-referential)
My issues
...using the lens of athletics to illustrate national culture, provide humor, interweave international affairs, and even incorporate mathematical theory...
WARNING: by construing meaning from this sequence of symbols, you have given implicit consent to the theory that words have noncircular semantic value and can be used to encode information about an external universe. Proceed with caution.


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