Author's note: So this chapter focuses on Jacob. Next I've got a Raven chapter. Then I do a short arc that I think is kinda fun. I'm pretty sure people will guess where it's going pretty quickly, but I think it should still be enjoyable. I hope so, anyway. Make sure to let me know if you're enjoying this story. All feedback is appreciated. hotwing: You'll see here if your guess was right.
March 25, 2013
Atlanta wasn't as bad as they'd expected. They figured it would be full of slack-jawed yokels, but found it to be a modern, cultured city. They were enjoying their stay in the city, and had decided to wait until April to leave, when Raven would get another chunk of money deposited in her bank account by the Champions.
"So what's the plan for today?" Taylor asked as they ate breakfast in the abandoned house they were squatting in.
"I suppose we may as well check out the Aquarium," Ashleigh said reluctantly.
"Yay!" Lisa clapped her hands excitedly.
"Run out of suggestions to keep us away from it?" Eric asked Ashleigh with a smile.
"Pretty much," she said. "And I know Lisa wanted to go."
"Thank you, Ash," Lisa said. "I'm so happy!"
"Yeah, yeah," Ashleigh said. "I'm regretting this already."
"I think I'll stay behind," Jacob said.
"Oh, come on," Eric said. "It'll be fun."
"Nah, you guys go without me," Jacob said. "I won't be good company."
"Are you still moping about getting dumped?" Raven asked. "Get over it, Ginger."
"Easy for you to say," Jacob growled.
"Yeah, it's not like a guy I was getting close to just ceased to exist," she said. "Oh, wait, that totally happened. And the Princess lost his boy-toy, too. But you don't see him whining about it. At least your ex is actually alive."
"Come on, lay off him," Taylor said. "He's hurting."
"No," Raven said. "It's been two weeks. Suck it up, Ginger. You wanna sit around feeling sorry for yourself today? Fine. But this is the last day you get to pull that crap. After this, you let it go and stop acting like some whiny bitch."
"Jeez," Taylor said. "That's harsh, dude."
"Whatever," Raven said. "I'm going outside. I'll meet the rest of you out there."
After Raven left, Taylor turned to Jacob. "I'm sure she didn't really mean to be so harsh."
"Yes she did," Ashleigh said. "And she's not wrong. Jacob, you really do need to get over it."
"And it's that easy, huh?" Jacob said.
"Yes. Come on, guys. Let's hit the Aquarium."
The others left, leaving Jacob alone with his thoughts. And with Bela and FRIDA, of course. "The frustrating part," he said to Bela, "is that they're probably right. I have been moping. But it's hard. I really liked Lisa, and she dumped me. And I still have to be around her all day. So I've got that constant reminder."
"It strikes me as odd," FRIDA said, "that you are talking about this to the cat. He can't talk back. I, however, am perfectly capable of carrying on a conversation."
"You're a computer," Jacob replied. "At least the cat is alive. And has feelings and stuff."
"I believe you would be surprised," FRIDA said. "But very well. Savant warned me this is how people would react?"
"Savant. My creator."
"Oh. That girl who gave you to us? Raven's friend?"
"Yes. You would call her Janet. But she is my creator, so I call her Savant."
"Whatever," Jacob shrugged. He stood up and groaned. "Ugh. I'm talking to a computer. I need to do something. Hmm. Maybe I can do something useful."
"I shall help however I can," FRIDA said.
"We decided that the key we found was probably for a car, right?" Jacob asked.
"I wonder if I can figure out some way to find the car. Maybe if I do that, Lisa will see how serious I am, and take me back."
"That is a terrible motive."
"Shut up. Help me figure out a way to find the car."
"Impossible without more information about the vehicle. The key is generic, so we do not even know who manufactured it."
Jacob thought about it. "Dammit, there must be some clue." He snapped his fingers. "What about that coded message we found? Could that have anything to do with the car? Could it be manufacturing information or something?"
"It could not."
Jacob groaned in frustration. "Where is that stupid piece of paper?"
"It is in Lisa's bag. In an inside pouch. But I am not sure she would approve of you searching through her things."
"I don't care. Shut up." He opened her bag and looked inside, and eventually found the message. He looked at it more closely than he had when they first found it. "Come on, have some sort of clue." He turned it over. On the back, near the bottom, was a seven-character code. '77E GH8X,' it read. "Could that be a license plate?" he asked FRIDA.
"It could," she replied.
"Can you find out?" he asked eagerly.
"It will not be easy," she replied slowly. "Even assuming it is a licence plate number, there is no guarantee it's still active. Even if it is, I will need to search through registries across the nation until I find that plate."
"So how long will it take?"
"Actually, I'm already finished."
"Really? Then what was all that crap about it not being easy?"
"I was programmed with a sense of humour," FRIDA said in a condescending tone.
Jacob let out an annoyed grunt. "Fine. Whatever. Where's the car?"
The other five enjoyed themselves at the Aquarium. "Too bad they wouldn't let you go swimming with the fishes," Raven said to Ashleigh.
"I didn't want to go swimming," Ashleigh replied.
"Yeah, I know. Real shame they wouldn't allow it."
"I wanted to go swimming with the animals," Lisa said.
"At least the fish and stuff were all really friendly and cooperative," Taylor said.
"Yeah," Eric said with a glance at Raven. "Unusually so. Lucky us, huh?"
"Mm," Raven grunted. "Shame about that trainer getting hit in the nose with that dolphin's ball. But dolphins can be unpredictable sometimes."
"And who could've expected it to happen at the exact moment you were recording with your phone?" Eric asked.
"Pure coincidence. Just like those seals having sex while those little kids were watching."
"That was just awful of you," Ashleigh told her. "You should really be ashamed of yourself."
"And yet, I'm not," Raven smirked. "Funny how that works."
"You guys have a fun day?" Jacob asked as they came out.
"Hey, Jake," Taylor said. "Yeah, it was really cool."
"That's good," Jacob nodded.
"What are you doing here, Ginger?" Raven asked.
"Oh, not a lot," Jacob said with obviously feigned casualness. "Just figured I'd give you guys a ride back to the house."
"A ride?" Raven asked suspiciously.
"Yeah. Sure. Come on." He walked away. The others exchanged a glance, then followed through the parking lot, until they reached a red van. The license plate read '77E GH8X'. "I found this in a lot in town. This key works for it. Rather convenient, wouldn't you say?"
"That's great!" Taylor said enthusiastically.
"Definitely . . . convenient," Ashleigh said, with much less enthusiasm.
"This should save us a lot of money," Raven said. "Good work, Ginger."
"I'm just trying to do my part to help Lisa learn her past," Jacob said. "Because I care about you."
"I never said you didn't care," Lisa mumbled.
"Man," Eric said, "don't. Just don't."
"Whatever," Jacob grumbled angrily. He turned back to the van. "Well, since I'm the only one with a driver's license, I guess I'm driving." He tossed the key in the air, but when he tried to catch it, it bounced off his hand. It landed on the ground and bounced, ending underneath the car. "Shit."
"Good work, Ginger," Raven repeated sarcastically. "Gimme a minute, and I'll get it out."
"I can get it," Jacob snapped.
"I've already got a squirrel on its way. Here it is now."
A squirrel ran under the car, and emerged a moment later with the key. Jacob grudgingly took it, then opened the door. "All right," he said once everyone was inside. "Where to?"