Thursday was payday! Woo! Oh, and we're not dead, it's just been... well, you know how it is. I think after so many nights of little sleep, everyone needed a couple days to do just that.

So, Thursday was actually spent doing a little research (into Pinstripe: a secretive mob boss, Big Tiny's boss; rumored to be part of the next patch release, which is new info), and looking into a way to travel to Albuquerque. Plane tickets are expensive, and by car, even ignoring wear-and-tear, would be something like $250 round trip, just for gas. There were a number of ways to finance the trip that came up, from stealing drugs from work, to acting as drug or money mules, to male prostitution, to assassins-for-hire, but the end result was taken care of by Charles, who called the local PD and asked for a wellness check for Tessa.

It took a bit for them to get back to us, but... Tessa was dead. She'd been dead for a couple days, too, which means she probably actually died, right when they were talking with her. I gotta say, I never even met her, but somehow, this makes everything seem... so much more real. I mean, BBEG showing up at my door and basically threatening me was one thing, but this? Somebody died. Somebody that talked to my friends, and died right then. A real person, not somebody on the news.

We cancelled the plans for a road trip. No point now, I guess.

Charles swung by the burned down house - I guess just making sure it was real, and looking for anyone that might be watching the place, but it was pretty abandoned. The house was burned down to nothing.

So, yeah. Thursday we planned, and then on that downer, everyone headed home to bed, not even logging into VR. We didn't do much Friday, either. Lots of gray, drizzly skies. I think it was getting to be too much, because suddenly, the whole road trip thing was back on - but this time to Boston, which is definitely closer. The guys packed into Kal's car, and I took my motorcycle, and we made it up to Boston by 10AM.

We took to real tour, which was (weirdly) still shown by the virtual assistant. I guess the offices have been empty from Covid, so there isn't as much to see. We toured around a bit, until we ran into a young woman - an engineer, named Eliza ("Like the AI!"). She was... super happy to show the place off. Like, when she got us our goody bags (real ones! With real food!), she made a point to mention that we could ask any Better Be employee to redeem them, and they could use their discretion to find us stuff. And of course, when we asked what she would choose, she was super stoked, and took us to her engineering lab. She handed out some old prototypes - cameras that could translate "real" images into "VR" images, like what they used on the VR version of this building, as well as some prototype VR scanners, to build stuff like NPCs or objects using real-life stuff. It was actually super cool!

All its missing is a virtual receptionist!

Charles asked about the Hag of Tortuga (I swear, he's obsessed): "Is that like somebody brain-scanned a person? Feels like... very personal..."

Eliza was quick to point out that, no, the Hag of Tortuga was not a real person, nor was she some super-sentient AI. She seems smart, because she's given a lot more processor space, and some access to real-life media, as well as character accounts. She can make some realistic prophesies based on real-world things, because she actually does know about them. He asked if there were any other similar characters, and Eliza listed a few off: "The Oracle" in Space Marines III, and "Stormcraft" in Freedom Force!.

She also mentioned that there's a Better Be office building found inside every game, even Midsommer Faire, and that she plays a character named "E.L.I.Z.A." in Freedom Force! (it stands for "Enhanced Living Intelligence Zeta Alpha"). Finally, it was time for us to go, and Eliza had to get back to work, so we headed out.

Honestly? I'm pretty glad we came. It's nice to get out of the house once in a while. It feels so... weird, out here in the real world. Like it's not actually real. There aren't any tourists; most of the buildings are closed up. There aren't even any cars on the streets. It feels like those post-apocalyptic movies, where all the people are dead or gone, and all that's left are empty streets. Creepy. But, not so creepy that I'm not glad we came.

Anyway, I just typed this up quickly as everyone was saying goodbye, so I better go catch up. There will probably be more later!