Other [Fanfic] Diaries of a Joja Corp Franchisee

Discussion in 'Fan Works' started by ShneekeyTheLost, Jul 24, 2016.

  1. ShneekeyTheLost

    ShneekeyTheLost Master Astronaut

    This is an expansion of a little short I did earlier, expanding and fleshing it out into a proper novel. Constructive criticism is welcomed and encouraged.


    Looking back on my previous career, I can see that I was making some of the fundamental mistakes that most people do. I was unhappy in my job, a cubicle jockey as customer support for Joja Corp. I told myself 'but at least it is a job. That's better than a lot of people have today, right?' And so instead of trying to rock the boat, I went along in my miserable subsistence-level life. No friends, no love interests, no real chance for promotion. A dead-end job at age twenty-something, destined for a life of misery and stress, with a likely early end due to heart attack from all the greasy fast food and stress.

    Two synergistic things happened which changed all that. Well, three really, but two external things happened. First, the entire customer support division was being outsourced to India, and they gave everyone a pink slip and unemployment forms to fill out. However, that wasn't going to cut it. I was living paycheck to paycheck as it was, with the reduced amount I would get from Unemployment, I simply wasn't going to last the month.

    The second thing was a package I had received. My grandfather had passed away some time ago. His attorney reached out to me at virtually the same time I had become unemployed. He told me that in grandfather's last will and testament, I was to be deeded a farm on which Grandfather lived. Father wasn't interested in the farm life, and I don't think they really talked all that much. However, I was still a minor at the time. So, according to the will, there was to be a delay before I was to inherit the property. And that delay has now expired. So, congratulations, you are the proud owner of one dilapidated farm which hasn't been a residence for several years and has since been overgrown.

    If I wasn't at the end of my rope, I'd have probably sold it for a quick bit of cash, and probably spent through it in short order. In fact, I'd have probably still gone for the quick cash and tried to live off of it while I tried to find another dead-end job, if it wasn't for a... well, I don't know. I guess you could call it an epiphany. A moment of clarity, perhaps. Did I really want to go from dead-end job to dead-end job? Did I really want to be That Guy? You know, the one who doesn't have any friends, women find creepy, and you wonder when the last time he bathed? Because that's right where I was headed, if I kept doing the same thing. After all, wasn't insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

    No. I didn't want to be the little guy anymore. I wanted to be the one on top for once. I wanted to be The Guy. The one on top. The head honcho. As long as I worked for someone else, then someone else was making money off of me. I wanted to turn the tables on that equation.

    So, I made a few calls. First, I called up Joja Corp again, and asked about their franchise licensing. It was something that had been popularized while working there. You often saw posters about raising out of your cubicle to become a franchisee. However, the costs were too high for any cubicle jockey like me to ever have a chance. But, now I had something to leverage. I had Real Estate, and I had an unemployment check owed to me for a few years. And I was willing to make a deal.

    In lieu of my unemployment checks owed to me by virtue of the terms of my unemployment, I would receive a JojaCorp Franchise. Instead of having to purchase a shop, I could become a supplier instead, and use my new farm to grow crops to sell. I'll be honest, the contract was less like a franchisee and more like an indentured servant, where I had to make so much for them within a given time frame, or I would default. The catch was that if I defaulted, they got to keep the farm. Fine. If I screwed up that badly, that was going to be the least of my worries.

    My next call was to my grandfather's attorney, accepting the offer and taking the free ticket to Stardew Valley. I picked up a few books on entrepreneurship as well. And a few books on agricultural engineering.
    The apartment was rented, the furniture came with the apartment, so packing was easy. Just the clothes on my back, really. Gave the landlord a bit of a surprise, actually. He was demanding to know when I was going to pay the rent. I told him instead that I was breaking the lease and walking away. There was a bit of money I got from the inheritance, enough to pay off the rent and the fee for early exit anyway. And with that, all my loose ends were all tidied up, and I caught my bus to my new life.

    Good thing I didn't have a clue about how much work that first year was going to be, or I'd have never had the courage to make that step. But, as it turned out, getting let go was the best thing that could've ever happened to me.

    I've decided to release my memoirs as a novelization to encourage others in my position to think outside the box, to show them how I became a success, and be an inspiration. If even one person picks up my book and it helps him change his life for the better, it will have been worth it.


    Spring 1st, year 1

    Was met at the bus stop by the Mayor of this little hamlet, and a lady by the name of Robin, who is apparently the town's handyman... er... handylady. Blatant plug is blatant, but hey, she's got a point. This shack hasn't been lived in for several years... and it really kinda shows. Fortunately, the TV is new, but Yoba alone knows how well the wiring in this place is. Fortunately, some tools have been left to me, or I'd have been well and truly up a creek. Some parsnip seeds as well. Showed me the shipping bin, ran by Joja Corp, to send my produce to whatever central processing plant needs it, I suppose.

    With sleeves rolled up, I broke out my pickaxe, axe, and scythe to clear away an area for immediate growing. Then with my trusty hoe, proceeded to till a couple of 4 x 4 squares, and part of a third. By Yoba, my back is already killing me and it isn't even noon yet. Head out to Pierre's and pick up more parsnip seeds. In for a penny, in for a pound. It's not like this five hundred is going to do me any good otherwise. While at the store, I meet Gus, the owner of the local bar, and Marnie, the local livestock expert. Seeds in tow, I return to my farm, and finish planting. Somehow. Oh man, my arms feel like rubber, and I've got blisters on my blisters. So, having accomplished that, I decide to head into town. Crossed paths with Demetrius, who said that his daughter was looking forward to meeting me. Which is... not something I would object to, but a rather surprising thing for a father to say to a young man who just came to town.

    Crossing a bridge, trying to find said daughter, I instead run into the daughter of Pierre, by the name of Abigail. A bit of a 'goth chick', and not particularly emotionally mature, she's still perfectly legal age, and hey... it's been a while since a gal my age was interested in talking to me. So we stopped for a bit of conversation. Sadly, it was a bit one-dimensional, and sounded like something a teen some five or ten years her junior might be complaining about. Her father is too overprotective, nobody understands her. Oh my goth, I'm so depeshe'd. Apparently her and a couple of guys are considering starting a band, with her as the singer. Reading between the lines, it's pretty clear she's kind of sort of got a thing for one of 'em, who apparently has a sideline online business.

    Found the correct daughter in the park outside of the pub. Maru, by name, who was apparently quite happy to see a new face. I'm fairly certain that, judging from her appearance, Demetrius is most certainly not her biological father. However, I suppose it would be... impolite... to mention that. I may be relatively clueless, but I'm not a jackass. Sitting with her was a quiet and shy woman about the same age by the name of Penny. Apparently the two are good friends. Maru, like her stepfather, is extremely interested in the sciences and higher education. Penny, apparently, is the tutor for the two children in town, Jas and Vincent. Both ladies are very nice looking, single, and of legal age. Well, so much for not being able to find someone to talk to out in the sticks. Now all I need to do is not trip over my own tongue or open mouth and insert foot. With my past track record... Yoba help me.

    Went to the bar. It was relatively quiet. The smith, Clint, was nursing a pint, and a crush on the barkeep's assistant, Emily. Emily seems to be into the new age stuff and fashion design. Well, she's still a nice looking lady. And, apparently, also single. Interesting. At the end of the bar was Penny's mother, Pam. Although it wasn't really all that late, it was clear that she'd had more than her share, and was at least two sheets to the wind with the third being hoisted rapidly. And suddenly, much about Penny's shy and retreating nature become apparent.

    There was also a fellow by the name of Shane. He apparently is the nephew of the livestock lady, and works at the local JoJa Store. And equally apparently hates his job with about as much a burning passion as I did. Yes, he's kind of a jerk. But that much, at least, I can entirely understand and empathize with. Leaving him to drown his sorrows, I head back home and hit the sack a bit early. After all, dawn comes even earlier 'round these parts. And I'm going to have a lot to do tomorrow.

    What have I gotten myself into?

    Spring 2nd, year 1

    You know the old saw about 'the cure for being sore is more of what made you sore'? I'd like to take that witty fellow out behind the woodshed for about ten or twenty minutes. Good lord. I've got aches in places I didn't even KNOW I had. However, crops don't water themselves, so either go out and water them or give up. It was about fifteen minutes I spent debating those two options before dragging myself out of bed, which wasn't a particularly comfortable one.

    Watered the crops, chopped down another tree that was in the way of my expansion, and made a storage bin for myself. Then I checked the mailbox, and discovered I already had mail! More specifically, the local fisherman, Willy, was wanting me to come on down to his port and learn the respectable art of fishing. Well, my whole body feels like I'd been shoved in a tumble-dryer with a bunch of rocks and spun for an hour or three, but why not? He shows me the ropes and gives me his old rod. I catch a few fish, then call it a day.

    On the way to Willy, I met the two youngest members of this little community, Jas and Vincent, while they were on their way to class. Neither seemed particularly thrilled by it, but neither were they trying to ditch, so there's that. Their reception was not very friendly, but that's probably actually a very good thing considering I'm a complete stranger who just moved into town.

    Did a bit of beachcombing and came up with a Cockle and a Mussel. Afraid that I might find Molly Malone next, I decided to depart. Curious about the tutoring, I headed off in the direction of the library/museum and met Gunther. He pissed and moaned about being a museum with no exhibits, and offered rewards if I would be so kind as to donate things. We'll see.

    Checked out the bar again. No new faces. Pam was holding up the bar, Clint was nursing a beer while not-very-covertly casting calf-eyes at Emily. She seemed to be the only one who didn't notice. I don't know if she's oblivious, or politely not noticing. Or maybe just too shy to show, I don't know. Never have claimed to be an expert on women, and I just showed up here. Shane was drowning his troubles in a bottle again. Well, everyone handles stress differently, I suppose. Not like I have any right to tell him what to do.

    On my way back, I met Holly. And all things considered, I'd just as soon have not. I mean, sure, she's got a figure that would get second and third glances just about anywhere, but good lord what a self-obsessed woman. The quintessential valley-girl wannabe. Fashion this, fashion that. She apparently has a thing for the local football player. Go figure, the preppy chick has the hots for the jock. Our conversation was mercifully brief, and I escaped on a polite note. Oh well, I suppose it would be too much to ask for to have all the single ladies both attractive and fun to be around. After all, there's still Abigail, who at least isn't so self-centered even if she could do with some growing up to match her age, Maru, when you can pry her away from her experiments, and Penny, if you can coax her out of her shell.

    On that unpleasant note, I decided it would be a good time to catch some rack time.



    Spring 3rd, first year

    Praise Yoba for the rain! Yanno, I used to be all pissed and miserable when it rained. Now, I just walked out into my field, looked up, and let the rain pour down my body. There was something cathartic about it. Plus it meant that I didn't need to spend the next hour watering crops. There was an primal feeling of... freedom, I suppose. I started spontaneously laughing for the first time in who knows how long. Or maybe I was just light-headed and tripping on exhaustion. Either way. So, to celebrate, I broke out my fishing rod. Cleared out a path going south to the river, and started fishing. Caught a few Chub. They're apparently quite common in these waters, and don't put up much of a fight. Also caught a couple of Shad. They're apparently less common, possibly only showing when it rains. Next cast, something darn near tore the pole clean out of my hands, then nearly pulled me in! I fought that fish for at least a half an hour before it spit out the hook and took off. Shrugging, I dropped the line back in, and damn if it wasn't that same damn fish! FINALLY pulled it in to see the biggest damn catfish I'd ever seen. Then I heard clapping from behind me, and I turned to find that I had an audience. Leah, the owner of the cottage I was fishing in front of, had stepped out and saw my battle with the catfish. And with that, a conversation was struck. She is an artist who works in various mediums. She had moved out here to follow her dream. Gee, that's something I sure can relate to. Also apparently fleeing a rather bad relationship with some micro-managing jerk. Hey, if it got me in close quarters with a very attractive woman, in the rain no less, I'd be willing to malign the honor of any poor shmuck who wasn't around at the time, so jerk he must be. She invited me to walk with her to the pub and share a salad. Unfortunately, I had to politely decline. Right now, I barely had two cents to rub together, much less enough money for a salad. Rather regretfully taking my leave, I went back and started filling out my farming area, clearing out four 4x4 squares with a line of regular dirt between them before going to bed. All that fish brought in nearly a thousand! Maybe tomorrow I'll buy her a salad and we can continue our conversation where it left off.

    Spring 4th, first year

    The TV show said that wild onions were in season and could be found across the river. So, after watering my crops, I hiked on over... and not a single blessed one to be found! I even checked down by the sewer grate, and nothing! Well, that's what you get for believing what you see on TV, I guess. However, I did see some wormy patches in the dirt, and ended up pulling up a chewing stick, then over at the beach while searching for shellfish, a fossilized palm leaf. Gunther paid out 250 for the donation, which was more than I'd have gotten for selling the fool things, so score! Maybe I ought to do some more donations and see what I can get from him next. Back to the farmstead, I continued clearing out some trees and rocks. I mostly left oak trees alone, and focused on bringing down pine and maple trees. I had an idea that oak resin would be really useful to me in the future. I just needed to figure out how to tap it properly. One of the rocks had a geode in it. Maybe I'll talk to the smith about that tomorrow.

    Yanno, this life isn't too bad. I've got several attractive ladies my age who are willing to chat with me and not give me those pained looks (except Haley, but the feeling's mutual), the community as a whole is willing to accept me as a decent person pretty much sight unseen, and I've got a lot of growth potential here. Sure, the work is hard, I think I've still got blisters the size of flapjacks, and so far the only direction the money has been going is right into the ground, but it's MY money from MY business. Never been a part of a community before, in the big city. It's... nice. I need to figure out what to do for people to pay them back. Maybe I can help pay for some repairs around town once I get established. We'll see.

    Spring 5th, first year

    Marnie showed up on my doorstep with a stray dog and wanted to know if I wanted to adopt him. Sure, why not? After all, it's just me on the farm. It'll be fun. And maybe he'll chase off the squirrels. She asked, point blank, whatcha gonna call him? So, on the spot, I blurted out the first thing that came to mind: Buddy. Okay, so it's not very imaginative, but it's the best I could come up with on a two second notice. He seems to like it, though, so that's all good.

    Got a letter from Willy informing me that he's got a new rod that can have actual bait attached. Sounds interesting, but right now, I've got bigger fish to fry. Maybe later when I've got the spare cash. The next letter was from JoJaCorp. That caused a pause for a moment. I still owe on the franchising license, after all. Surely they don't want me paying it back already, do they? But no, it's just to inform everyone that the path to the mines has been cleared. Well, as much fun as spelunking without a light sounds, I've got better things to do. My turnips are fully grown! Well, most of them. Looks like the crows already got to a couple. Damn bloody pests. Wonder if I can get a shotgun from anyone around here.

    Harvesting was a painstaking process, but with turnips in hand, I went to go sell my produce and get the next batch. This time, I went for potatoes. They're a solidly reliable cash crop. Maybe not the best bang for your buck, but not bad. I ended up with enough to cover all four of my 4x4 plots with 'taters. Lots of things you can do with 'em... boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew...

    While heading in, I saw a posting from Clint, who was my next stop, requesting green algae. Well, I drop my line in the nearby river, pick up some algae, and head off to Clint's with geode and algae in tow. There was some not-very-valuable gem inside, so I donated it to the museum.

    On my way back, I saw this person in a cart being hauled by a pig. And he was selling the single most expensive salmonberry I had ever seen, at 500g. Ummm... I'll pass. He was also selling a 'rare seed'. Not sure if serious or trolling. Either way, I can't afford it now since i just sunk my entire profit into another crop, so I head back to the shack and catch some sleep.



    Spring 6th, year 1

    So, after reading a few of those agricultural engineering manuals, I was able to cobble together a scarecrow capable of keeping those dang birds off of my lawn... er... crops. There's a conveniently located place in the middle of the four plots to put it so that it covers the whole area. Not a shotgun, but it is at least effective.

    Spent some time chopping down trees. Man, that's some exhausting work, but it needs to get done. I'm going to need a lot of wood and sap going forward, and this is going to give it to me. Also, these trees are in the way. Maybe I can set up a tree farm somewhere else on this plot of overgrown land. Found another geode while breaking rocks (and my back). Turns out it had some copper ore inside. Not too shabby, and a reminder that I can upgrade my tools. I'm going to eventually want to upgrade them all, but the watering can is probably going to come first, with the hoe and pickaxe not too far behind. But that's gonna take a lot of copper. So put that on the back-burner for now. I bet that mine has some ore, but right now, I'm plum tuckered out.

    Spring 7th, year 1

    New episode of that cooking show. Learned how to make Stir Fry. Nice. it would be even better if I actually had a kitchen to cook in. I suppose one of these days I'm going to have to talk to Robin about that. Went into town after watering my crops, and ran into the mayor over by the community center. He called it an eyesore, I can only agree. Heck, I thought the shack I was living in was run-down, but this takes the cake. He also mentioned that if anyone else got a Joja Membership, that he'd just go ahead and sell it off. Honestly? I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. I mean, come on. This place? It is falling apart. Worse, it's rat infested. And like the guy says... it's not like anyone ever uses it anymore. Maybe selling this place off would be the best thing that could ever happen to the town. On the one hand, monetary boost to the town. On the other hand... no more rat infested building. I'm seeing a win/win here.

    After that happened, I continued up north. Ran into an old fellow by the name of Linus. Umm... right. So, there's hobos even in small towns like this? Poor guy. But hey, if that's how he wants to live, I'm not going to judge him for his lifestyle. Well, more than I already have, I guess.

    Found an old geezer in the mines. Gave me a sword and said that if I prove myself, he'll 'consider' letting me join his secret clubhouse or whatever. Geez, is there a sign that says 'no girls allowed' or something? What is this, third grade?

    Slimes are like dwarves: short, caustic, and very dangerous over short distances, but not too intelligent. Dealing with them was not a problem. Found a Topaz and an Amethyst. While valuable, I will probably donate them as well. Also found plenty of copper ore. Hit level 5 and found an elevator. Apparently, the elevator can't go down until you manually reach a level to 'call' it. Odd.

    Quite a profitable run for my first time in the mines. Decided to call it a night, though.

    First week review

    Well, let's see. I don't have two cents to rub together, I've got debt coming out of my eyeballs, I feel like someone tossed me in a dryer with a bunch of rocks and set it to tumble for an hour or four, then went at me with a red-hot poker. I've done more physical labor in one week than I probably have done in total in my preceding life. And I don't have a damn thing to show for it but a slightly less trashed postage stamp sized plot of chewed up dirt with some plants stuck in it. I'd give up, but I'm too damn stubborn to quit now. When determination, drive, hope, and vision fail to motivate, at least I can count on being able to push through on sheer, mean, cussed, stubbornness.



    Spring 8th, year 1

    Praise Yoba for the Rain! No, seriously, this means I don't have to spend most of my time and energy watering crops, so I can really hit the mines. Too bad I don't have the cash or resources to get my watering can upgraded. Oh well. Clint stopped by this morning to give me blueprints for a forge. It's gonna take up most of my copper ore to make, but it will be an investment which will pay significant dividends. Besides, I can always get more. And now I can make copper ingots with which to supply Clint for upgrading tools with. Building the tools to make the tools to get things done. Ugh. Well, I suppose it's a start. Once again, I find myself with things I need to spend cash on, and no cash on hand to spend. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Good grief.

    Got a letter from the 'wizard' wanting to talk to me about the 'rat' I saw in the community center yesterday. I swear, if he calls me Harry and tries to tell me that I'm a wizard, I'm gonna clean his clock. Eh, might as well see what the old fraud wants. It should be good for a laugh, at least.

    First, he tried to impress me with a 'conjured' rat. False floor, little bit of glow-in-the-dark dye or just sprinkled on with a darklight concealed in the rafters, most likely. After all, it's his place, no telling what he's got rigged. Then he does his 'disappearing' act, which again, is probably a trapdoor in the floor with a crawlspace to outside. He walks back in the door, which confirms my suspicion, and proceeds to 'explain' what he probably planted in the run down building in the first place to 'prove' his mystical... mysticalness. Or whatever. Then he wants me to drink that foul concoction he 'coincidentally' had on the boil in his cauldron so I could 'read the messages from the spirits'. Uh huh. Coincidence. Sure.

    I'm not sure what was in that thing, other than dirty gym socks and tree fungus. Maybe some peyote too, come to think of it. Hell, anyone would be reading 'spirit writing' after taking a swig of that. Right next to the pink elephants and good old King George. No way in hell am I ever going to let him convince me to eat or drink ANYTHING he's had any part of. Damn hippie freak.

    Went back to town and had Clint crack open those geodes I found yesterday. A few minerals, nothing valuable. Went to the Museum to donate them. Penny was sitting outside, alone, watching the rain, with an almost peaceful expression on her face. I wonder if it was the same expression I had on my face last time it rained... nah, can't be. Completely absurd. Rather than disturbing her peace, I went in and donated the bits of stone. Gunther was excited about it. Bla, bla bla this, such and so that. Must've been a professor somewhere before he ran this place. He gave me some cauliflower seeds. Since it was early enough in the season, this was worth way more to me since I could put them in the ground immediately and be able to harvest them before the end of the season. Score!

    Came back out, there was Penny again. Then she turned her head and looked at me, and smiled. Something did a belly-flop in my stomach. Personally, I'm blaming it on that foul concoction, and hoped I wouldn't heave it up all over her shoes. That would be... less than suave. Then there was that awkward silence that drags on too long but for some reason pins you in place. You know the one. Finally, I cleared my throat.

    "Umm... hi there." I murmured.

    "Oh. Hi." was her quiet response.

    "I... umm... don't wanna bug you while you're getting some time to yourself. Uh... see ya around?"

    "Oh, um... okay." She spoke in such a soft voice, almost like she was afraid I was going to hit her. The only one it made me want to hit was her mother. I swear, if that redneck drunk is physically abusive, she's gonna find out what it's like in return, so help me Yoba! Of course, that's not precisely the sort of thing one spouts off in such company, so I remained silent, and fled the scene in ignominy. Some days, it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.

    Went back to the farmstead. Too late to go caving, so started working out my anger and frustration on some trees. It wasn't until I got out this journal that the question of why I was so pissed hit me. Eh, no one deserves to be bullied. Been on the receiving end of it too much. Too tired to think, maybe I'll sleep on it.




    Spring 9th, year 1

    Scarecrow seems to be working to deter those feathered felons. Robin sent a letter apologizing for her blunt, if honest, comments concerning the house. Of course, it was immediately followed by an advertisement for her services, which includes installing a kitchen. She's got a point that this place is pretty run down, but I have more immediate costs to deal with. A few of those wild seeds I planted were parsnips, because they just came up. Put some more parsnip seeds in their place. Spent the rest of the day clearing out more space. Chopping down trees, breaking rocks, mowing the lawn. Not much, though, not used to this kind of work, so it really wears me out soon.

    Spent the evening with my books, studying. I need to figure out how to make tappers, maybe preserves jars and brewing kegs too. I've been doing some research with the materials that JojaCorp provides their franchisees, and the price points on processed goods are way better than raw produce. Kegs will need a lot of oak resin, so I'll try to not cut many of those down as I clear the area. Also going to need a lot of clay. Finding clay is also a back-breaking process, so yea. Should be worth it in the long run, though.

    Spring 10th, year 1

    Cooking show was a rerun. Bummer. Watered crops, cleared out more trees and rocks. Got a more clear pack heading south to the forest. There's only so much hacking away I can do, though. An active lifestyle I have not led. Leaves me more time for planning. I need to have a game plan, or I'm never going to hit my goals. So, for spring, cutting down trees, hitting the mines, and planting as many potatoes as I can without passing out. By summer, make it blueberries, and if I can get some preserves jars, it will really help. Also wanting tappers down sooner rather than later, but that's going to require a lot of copper, which I still need to use to upgrade my tools with. Jeez... if I wanted to spend my life constantly short on critical resources, I could've stayed back in the city. Oh well, nothing for it now.

    Spring 11th, year 1

    Robin sent another unsolicited advertisement in the mail for wells. Not relevant to my interests, between the small pond and the larger one, my water needs are pretty much set. The next letter is ALSO from Robin, this time asking me to go find her axe. Ugh. Potatoes came in. Got another bundle of seeds to replace them, but didn't really expand much. It's as tiring as it is already, I don't need to push myself any harder than I have to. Which kind of sucks, but I need to pace myself. There's some kind of 'egg festival' later this week, maybe there's going to be something to spend cash on there.

    It's a good feeling. I've got money in my pocket that isn't immediately being spent. Less than two weeks, and I see a profit, cash in hand. Granted, I've got tons of expenses coming up, but... it's a tangible reminder of why I am doing what I am doing. Showing up in town with practically the clothes on my back, and in less than two weeks, I've got at least something to show for it. Not too shabby.

    Went looking for onions again. Didn't find any, but did find that axe. Returned it to Robin for a decent finder's fee.

    Tried doing some more caving, but had to turn back before I got much of anywhere. The farce on TV would've probably said 'the spirits are displeased'. Psssh, right. Like spirits have anything to do with luck.

    Spring 12th, year 1

    So, got a message from JoJaCorp Franchise team. Apparently, there's been a shortage of raw goods, so they are increasing the prices they pay by 10%. Nice. Also a notice that tomorrow is the festival. It'll be nice, I guess. I've been kind of a shut-in lately on the farm, working myself to the bone. I need to remind myself, there's attractive single woman available to talk to who are actually interested in talking to me. Except Haley, but screw her.

    Abigail is cute, but hasn't really grown up. She keeps acting like a high school kid. Not bad, I guess, if you want a waifu, or a quick piece. But in this town? Yea, there's no way to dump someone and get out of the scene, because the whole community is almost insanely closely-tied. Besides, I still have to buy my seeds from her father. Besides, there's some kinds of stupid I don't need to be.

    Leah is also easy on the eyes, and quite a bit more mature and responsible. She's at least got her own cabin to herself, so should anything develop, we'd at least have a modicum of privacy. Quintessential starving artist, she's always foraging the forest for edibles. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. After all, once I'm wealthy, that's going to be a point in my favor that Elliot can't match. Unlike the romantic poet, I plan on having running water and central heating and air in my home, plus enough cash to casually take a flight out to Paris for dinner, should the mood strike. Money might not be everything, but it sure as hell beats not having any.

    Maru is perhaps the least beautiful of the lot, although that's not saying much considering even she is quite striking. Probably the most intelligent of the ladies available, but practically married to her inventions. I'd have to dress up like a test tube to be able to catch her attention. Besides, she seems to have a thing for the local doctor. To the point of playing 'nurse' for him, despite not actually having an LPN license. Granted, if there was anyone in town other than the doc to treat an injury, it would probably be her, but still.

    Penny... is okay. I guess. Maybe.

    That cart vendor was back. Good lord, he's got a unique perspective on the cost of things. Had another 'rare seed' for sale. While I can afford it, I will hold off for now. After all, I have other things to spend money on than what probably will end up being weeds or something.



    Spring 13, year 1

    Watered crops, changed into my good pair of denim and homespun (yanno, the ones that don't have holes and cowflop stains), and went to go see what this egg festival was about.

    Right off the bat, I check what is for sale, and find strawberry seeds! Well, I may not have a LOT of money, but I can buy some. I'll get two harvests out of 'em if I plant 'em before I get home. First harvest pays for itself, second harvest is pure profit.

    You can see the little cliques by who is standing around whom. For example, Haley and Alex. Haley is whining about wanting the flower dance or something. Ugh, a dance. Yoba help me. The odds of getting me to get out in a crowd and dance is roughly the odds of the heat death of hell occurring within the next solar cycle. Fortunately, it appears to be later in the month. So, bullet dodged.

    Pam has already tried to spike the punch. Really ought to... well, not really my place, I suppose. Penny and Maru chatting over by Maru's family. Robin, in her own 'subtle' way (as subtle as a brick upside the head), inviting me to join them for a bit. She seems to be the sort of lady who adopts everything. Stray cats, stray orphans, stray husbands... fortunately, she seems to be happily married so I don't think her overtures are more than polite country manners. After all, that kind of stuff doesn't actually happen. Leah and Elliot are quietly chatting together about artsy stuff.

    Abigail, Sam, and Sebastian are hanging out. Abigail seems to be really excited about the egg hunt. Wait... isn't the egg hunt for, like, little kids? Really? Talking to the mayor reveals that since there's really only two kids around, participation is a more general thing. And he takes my inquiry as interest to join and puts my name down.

    Seriously?

    Eh, why not?

    I don't really put much effort into the search. After all, since it means so much to Abigail, letting her win is no skin off of my nose. It's not like I was really all that interested in participating anyway, and it seems to make her happy. I guess she has a bit of a competitive nature about her.

    Tried making my way discreetly back to the farmstead to put these strawberry seeds in the ground when I ended up getting hijacked by Robin again. Quite the friendly lady, I suppose. Practically dragged me back to her family and Penny to talk. It was no surprise to me why Penny spent more time with Maru's family. Robin, for all her extroverted manner, really is a kind person. Granted, Demetrius is a bit of a Poindexter, but I suppose I shouldn't be throwing any stones from that glass house. I do rather feel like a fifth wheel, though. Kinda awkward. I mean, I'm grateful to Robin for going out of her way to share family time, but... it's not my family, yanno? Is she trying to throw me at her daughter? I mean, I can kinda understand. If anyone needed to take a break and loosen up, it's Maru. Demetrius, however, keeps giving me that look. You know the one. That's my daughter, don't even think about it. Sheesh, talk about mixed signals there. One parent all but shoving me at her daughter, the other with the classic overprotective daddy vibe. I look over at Penny to see how she is faring with this.

    She seems to be amused by my discomfiture, or perhaps it is more along the lines of misery loves company. Either way, she's apparently been watching my expressions while I've been fending off this twiddledee and twiddledum exchange. Then she gives me that shy, soft smile. Not laughing at me, but actually smiling. At me. Okay, so it's not much, but it is there. She's got a nice smile, maybe it's the way her eyes light up, like throwing open the shutters on a window...

    "...So, what do you think, hmmm?" asks Robin, clearly directed at me.

    Cue the record scratch. "Ummm..." there you go, ladies and gentlemen. The most interesting man in the universe, who gives James Bond lessons in suavery, demonstrating blinding intelligence and witty charm in one gutteral utterance. Yup, that's a real way to win a lady's affection. Neanderthalic semi-linguistic utterances. Boy howdy.

    "Tomatoes. Fruit or vegetable?"

    Reaching into my memories for an appropriate response, I come up with an old D&D saw "Intelligence is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing that it should not appear in a fruit salad."

    That got a chuckle from everyone around the table. Apparently the topic at hand had been that Daddy Dour had, in fact, added tomatoes to a fruit salad. So, already distrusting of me because I am a single male his daughter's age, now I have actively humiliated him in public with his entire family. Yep, there's that charisma and charm at work. I'm sure I will win him over to my side aaaany day now.

    I now realize that the sun is setting, and the party seems to be winding down, so I excuse myself and make my way back to the farmstead. I do manage to get the seeds planted and watered before going to bed.


    Spring 18th, year 1

    Past couple of days since the festival have been more of the same, so not much need to make any entries. Clearing out space on my farm, sweating up a storm, getting blisters in places I wish I never knew could GET blisters, that sort of thing. I've now got five copper bars from a mine dive. Salmonberries came in. These nearly worthless berries are, in fact, quite tasty. Instead of selling them for the few farthings they'd fetch, I'll just eat them instead.

    Potatoes came in yesterday. Of course, Pierre's was closed, so I can't go buy more seeds until today. Mind you, I don't blame him for having a day off (although I will have to state for the record that I haven't had one since coming here), since he's a little ma and pa store, he can't afford to hire someone to run it on Wednesdays. So, went in today to pick up my next set of seeds.

    Well, no sooner to I enter, than Morris, the local Joja Store Manager, comes in, waving a bunch of 50% discount coupons. Now, not to sound a bit disingenuous, but that's something of a misnomer. You see, the prices at Joja are about 25% higher than Pierre's when it comes to seeds, so that coupon really isn't as nice as people would like to believe. It's a classic sales gambit, and a frequently successful one. I was reading about it in my entrepreneur's books in my copious spare time while barely able to move from the soreness. I will admit it was more than a bit tacky to walk in to your direct competitor's store and offer them. Well, I'll be honest, it's rude as all heck. But then, Morris is more of a small-picture fellow who doesn't understand why what he is doing here is a long-term risk and bad idea. I mean, if he keeps pulling crap like this, he's going to end up pissing off not just Pierre, but the whole dang town. And when that happens, and you get boycotted, you're done for in a community this small. Penny wise and pound foolish. Anyway, no surprise that Pam jumps all over the offer, she's barely educated enough to read the signs much less realize when she's being played.

    Pierre looks kind of bummed out about it. He knows he can't drop his prices that low. I explain to him about the concept of a 'loss leader' and the 'phantom sale gambit' and tell him that his customers will be right back in here tomorrow. And in the meantime, I've got a large order to place, if you don't mind.

    Got a whole pile of potato seeds and picked up a backpack as well with the profits I showed. Not too shabby. Put seeds in the ground. I also made up a bunch of fertilizer using the sap that I've been getting from the trees, maybe that'll help my profit margin. Weatherman said it is going to rain tomorrow, so after I got done with the potatoes, I ran over to Clint's to upgrade the watering can. Sadly, he closed about ten minutes before I could make it. Bummed at the missed opportunity, I went beachcombing for clay and called it a day.

    Spring 19th, year 1

    Yep, it rained. Spent part of the day chopping down trees, then spent the rest of the day studying. I really need to learn how to make tree tappers if I am going to get my kegs made in time for summer and fall. I'm poised to really explode my profit margin, but I need to get my foundation set up first or I am going to fall on my face. And I really can't afford that, I've got too much riding on this.

    So, let's plan this out, shall we?

    Summer: Get as many blueberry seeds as possible. Don't need to worry about fertilizer, since it only works on about a third of them for some reason. DO want to start making sprinklers, if I can afford the gold. I won't be able to get down in the mines deep enough for gold until probably fall. Preserves Jars take up a BUNCH of coal. May have to purchase some from Clint, but that's going to get expensive in very short order. Will have to figure out a way to get a solid coal supply going if possible. Also Kegs, which needs the Oak Resin, as well as both copper and iron and some clay as well. Process all we can, sell the rest, use profits to expand. While it is possible for me to probably pay off licensing fees by the end of summer, it realistically won't happen until fall. Which works, since the bill is due at the end of winter.

    Fall: Cranberries. Actually, that should probably be Cranberries! All the cranberries. Should easily be able to afford licensing fees by end of fall. If I can get the Greenhouse going, and find a supplier of starfruit, that might be a really good supplemental form of income. Particularly turned into wine.

    Winter: If I can get that dilapidated greenhouse repaired, can continue growing something over the winter.

    Of course, if something better comes along, that's going to be subject to change. Never get so married to your plans that you pass up an opportunity to improve.


    Spring 23rd, year 1
    Spent the past couple of days caving. Got down low enough that I discovered an underground lake. If I was an expert angler, that might possibly interest me. As it is... the fact that it doesn't have anything wanting to eat me is a good thing.

    Also found a small ring that emits light. Not huge, but it's a big help in the darker parts of this mine, which I start hitting next. I'm going to delve deeply into (and the first person who pops of with a 'that's what she said' joke is going to get a pickaxe to the face) the mines. I'm going to need iron and gold to get where I need to go, and I'm going to need both coal and iron in bulk to accomplish what I need. Which is only found here.

    Came back to find that hobo guy digging through people's trash. Ugh, really? I mean... it's bad enough you do the whole 'wild guy' thing, complete with utter lack of hygiene, but you really gotta do this stereotype too? Seriously? Then again, kinda pity the guy if he calls what is in the trash bins 'good food'. Anyway, told Linus that even if I don't judge him (much), he should probably not be digging around in other people's trash bins. For reals. Let Gus be the bleeding heart to feed the old guy.

    Spring 24th, year 1

    Potatoes came in today. Pretty good haul, too. Too bad the whole town's going to be at that dance, so there's no one to trade with now that I've got some cash. Then again, probably just as well. I don't have enough time to plant any more potatoes before summer comes in, so I'll probably save what I've got for the beginning of Summer and those blueberries I'll need. Went to the beach for foraging and digging for clay, then headed off to the dance to see what all the hubbub was all about.

    The dance gave me a chance to observe the villagers socializing, which provided me some insight as to the social workings of the community. Haley and Alex were paired up, no surprise there. She was the 'spring queen' with a coronet of flowers, and taking center stage. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Not very impressive to be named 'spring queen' when no one else was interested in the title to begin with.

    Leah was paired with Elliot. I'll have to admit, she does look pretty darn good in that dress. Maybe I should take the time to get to know her better. After all, I could support her artistic habits once the income starts rolling in, which is more than Elliot could say. Poets may have honeyed tongues, but that won't pay the bills. And if there's anything more starving than an artist, it's a poet.

    Abigail and Sebastian were dancing together, although they both look like they'd rather be just about anywhere else. Eh, she may act immature, but she is very distinctly legally adult. And hey, there's something to be said about having a waifu. At least she won't be giving up any dreams, since she really doesn't have any to begin with other than 'get out of dad's house', which I'm pretty sure is gonna happen if my suit flourishes. She looks better in her goth outfit than that white frilly dress, though.

    Maru and Harvey are paired up, although Maru seems more pleased about this than the doc. He's got two left feet, it seems, and is as physically awkward as he is socially awkward. She's never going to get him to be forward enough to ask her out, and she's not going to get the courage to ask him out. So unless one or the other of them figures out how to pull their head out of their respective scientific putterings, that's a romance that is D.O.A. I'd be tempted to sweep her off her feet, she doesn't look bad after all, but that would mean interacting in some way with her father, which is something I would have a preference for only slightly higher than, say, chewing ground glass or excreting pinecones.

    Penny seems to be stuck with Sam, and doesn't appear to be too happy about it either. Then again, as shy as she is, maybe she just doesn't want to be dancing period. But I swear, if he starts getting handsey with her, I'm gonna have a bunch of fertilizer for my summer farm plot. The only thing worse than a bully is one of those damn smug jerks who won't take no for an answer. And unlike Alex, Sam's not so big a jock that I wouldn't be able to get my licks in, especially these days. After swinging that axe or pick all day long, my swing's gotten pretty darn good.

    Clint sat off to one side, his gaze never leaving Emily, who seems to be mostly bored. I swear, if there was anyone I'd want to give a swift kick in the rear to, it would be to get Clint to get off his keister and go ask her out already. Then again, either Emily is so completely oblivious that they wouldn't be able to communicate effectively for a relationship to flourish, or is deliberately not noticing so as not to hurt his feelings that she doesn't reciprocate, so maybe it would be better if he kept worshiping from afar, either way.

    Me? I stuck myself deep in the middle of the crowd so as to remain as indiscernible as possible. Last thing I want is to get hauled up there to dance.

    There was a 'Rarecrow' for sale, but I'll pass. I'm going to need that money for blueberries. Maybe next time.



    Spring 25th, year 1

    Praise Yoba for the rain! Demetrius showed up. At first I thought he was going to warn me off of her daughter, but then started asking if I would let him set up an experiment, either fruit bats or mushrooms, in that cave on my property. Well, I have no plans for the cave, and I might get something for nothing... sure, why not? Since I'm not all that fond of bats, particularly not after that last trip into the mines, I picked mushrooms. My second and final crop of strawberries came in. Not too shabby, although it is a shame there won't be enough time for a third harvest. I have an idea for what to do for Summer, but I'm going to need to prepare properly for it. I turned in some more things for the museum and as a reward, got a Starfruit seed that can be planted in the summer. Nice! I can't even buy those at Pierre's OR from JoJa Corp, and I've heard they are quite valuable.

    Went to Clint to go break some geodes, then to the museum to drop off the findings. Penny was there again, sitting under the overhang outside, watching the rain. She seemed... at peace. I suppose it beats the heck out of being in that trailer all day. I do feel bad for her. I mean, it's not like her mother does anything but sit around the house and get drunk, so she's basically keeping up the whole place by herself. My little shack is bad enough to maintain, I'd hate to think how hard it would be with also having to pick up after a redneck slob. She noticed I was giving her distance and gave me an inviting smile, at least i think it was inviting. I mean, if she didn't want me to come over, she wouldn't have smiled, right? Then there was that awkward moment again where mouth refused to function. Finally, out of desperation, I reached into my pack and pulled out... a dandelion. Crap. What's she going to think if I get her that? Well, too late to back up now, just roll with it.

    "Uhh... here. You looked a bit lonely. I.. umm... I mean, yanno... it's not much...." And again, ladies and gentlemen, we have an exemplary demonstration of suavery at its suaveriest. Not.

    It was like I had just offered her a diamond or something. Her eyes lit up, her mouth opened slightly in surprise. Then, without warning, gave me a hug. So of course, I returned the hug. Yea. It was, yanno, just a hug. That's all. Nothin' special whatsoever. Clearly.

    She thanked me for the gift, I mumbled something about it not being a problem, and I fled the scene.

    Did some more mining after. Got down to level 40. Sure is cold down here. Found a slingshot. Most useless thing ever, no wonder it was abandoned down here.

    Spring 26th, year 1.

    Looks like my farm is going to be featured in the Stardew Valley Tribunal. Neat. Well, I had nothing left to water, so I started getting to work on preparing for summer. Cracked open a geode, then asked Clint to upgrade my Hoe. I'm gonna need it for the next growing season. I also need quite a bit of iron, gold, and refined quartz. Lots and lots of coal, too. It's time to start using modern technology to water my plants for me, which means sprinklers! Also, plants themselves are okay, I guess, but we really need to break out into making preserves or wine if we really want to push our cash flow to the max. Preserves jars need a ton of coal, kegs need oak resin and clay. Of the two, preserves jars are easier to get hold of at the moment, but that's going to change soon. Now that I am down in the icy areas of the mines, I can find iron ore.

    I also REALLY need to get my pick upgraded, but right now, the hoe is more important because it needs to be done by the first of Summer. However, I won't have gold for quite some time. So some will need to be purchased from Clint.

    In the meantime, I'm going to mark out the area I'll be growing in for summer. First, I take a square of 9 x 9 and break it up into nine distinct 3 x 3 plots. The center plot is going to be the scarecrow, with paving stones around it. The other eight will be a circle of tilled dirt with a paving stone in the middle. That paving stone is where my sprinkler is going to go. Then I expand outward one 3 x 3 section from each of the four center pieces and repeat the process for an additional four 3 x 3 plots of eight tilled dirt around a paving stone. This gives me twelve plots to grow on, which is going to be pretty good. I doubt I'll be able to afford all the gold for all of those yet, but I should at least get a few started, and as I progress, I'll be able to do more. Fortunately, all that clearing I've been doing this season is paying off, this area is already mostly clear, finishing touches are relatively straightforward.



    Spring 27th

    Went back down into the mines. Got the iron, just need the gold now for the sprinkler system. Met up with Penny again. She's really easy to overlook, yanno? Heard a couple of muttered comments behind people's backs about 'trailer trash'. That might fit her mom, but not her. She's actively trying to better herself. Gave her a leek I found. Her face really lit up. Is she so bad off that getting a wild vegetable is a favor? Or is it perhaps the thought that counts, that she appreciates that I at least thought enough of her to go out of my way to get something, anything, for her? I dunno. She's a nice, quiet, shy, cute woman. I mean... Haley is beautiful and all, but she's way too aware of it, the old saying about poison in pretty packages comes rather firmly to mind. Maru is very intelligent and cute, but she's always working on this or that project, and really, she's making moon-eyes at her boss. Leah is a nice girl, and quite attractive, but... well, she's an artist, and like most artists, she's always looking at a dream no one else can see... when she's not looking at Elliot, that is. But Penny seems to be the odd one out. It's a shame, really.

    Spring 28th

    Rained. Finished outlining my blueberry plot as per plans detailed previously. Let's do this.

    Summer 1st

    Oh my aching... everywhere. Eighty blueberries down in the ground, and boy are my arms tired. Also eight hops, the nine melons and the starfruit I got from the museum. I would've had more, but I spent too much money on gold for sprinklers, and even then, I could only afford like two or three sprinkler's worth. Which... really sucks. Hops are going into kegs for pale ale while I get blueberries going to fund my preserves jar habit. Eight coal a jar is also going to really suck. However, temporary setback is temporary. I can roll with this, I just need to be more creative. And more diving in the mines. Later. Not tonight. Tonight I sleep.

    Summer 3rd.

    Been doing some mining. Hit level 50. These soot sprites are so cute, I almost feel sorry for mercilessly slaughtering them for the coal. Almost. It does make me feel like spouting some cheesy stereotypical villain line, or maybe growing out a mustache to twirl. Actually, that might not be a bad idea anyway.

    I desperately need to upgrade my pickaxe, though. Going has gone to a snail's pace because the rocks are so hard. I just don't have the energy. The slimes are getting pretty dangerous as well. The green slimes were no problem, these blue slimes are significantly more dangerous. Particularly when you are trying to fend off bats. Good thing I found that steel sword, or I'd be in a lot worse shape than I currently am. As it is, progress is slow.

    Summer 7th

    Oh my aching back. I swear, those mines will be the end of me one of these days. But I've got my pick upgraded. Finally. Penny seems to like Sweat Peas pretty well. We still haven't been able to talk much, but I suppose there's not really a whole lot to say. It sure beats someone who talks your head off and chatters on like a magpie.

    I really do need to get out more often and socialize. I know that. But I'm also needing gold for sprinklers, and I've got a huge farm that is only partially sprinkler-fed. It's frequently well past dark by the time I climb out of the mines, and everyone's long since gone to bed. Maybe once I get this project done, I can think of something to do. I dunno. Socializing really isn't my thing, yanno? I had maybe one or two casual friends back in the city, and that was it. Of course, some people are easier to get to talk to than others. I think I've seen Robin's son maybe once since I got here, and Leah always seems to be elsewhere. Eh. I've got plenty of time for that after I become rich and famous.



    Summer 8th
    Went into town. Ran into Penny helping the gumpy old geezer in the wheelchair get his mail, and he gripes at her for it. Needless to say, I took her side.

    Got down pretty deep in the mines. Found a ring with magnetic properties. Not sure how it attracts nonferrous items like wood, but I'm not complaining. I'm sure science has an answer somewhere. Maybe it has something to do with Higgs- Bosun. Not sure how those skeletal figures are self-mobile, but they are sure a pain in the kiester. Soot sprites do not bring coal in sufficient quantities, not by a long road. But I also don't have enough money to purchase it in the quantity I need. This is... disturbing.

    Summer 11th

    LUAU! Are ya lookin' for a hunk of juicy... no. Just... no. Figured I should be there. They put me on the spot and asked me to toss something in the pot. Of course, my crops won't come in until tomorrow, what am I supposed to do, go hop in a police box and harvest tomorrow's crops yesterday? Sheesh. So I tossed in a grape I happened to find while walking in. People were like 'meh, it's okay, I guess', and looked at ME like it was all my fault or something. Sheesh, no pressure, right? Or maybe pickin' on the new guy or something.

    Summer 12th

    Hops have finally matured. Will expect to get a harvest each day for the rest of the season. This'll produce quite a bit of pale ale. Once I figure out how to make kegs. It's harder than it looks.

    Summer 13th

    Melons came in today. Might've been a better hit at the Luau a couple days ago. Yanno, if they'd held off or something. Alas, there were no missing melons that were plucked before their after to save me from social awkwardness. Actually, probably a good thing, those statues are creepy.

    Summer 14th

    BLUEBERRIES! My first crop. One of several. However, I only have four preserves jars. I'm gonna need a LOT more. Also going to have to sell off most of these, just to make ends meet in the short term. Hate doing it, like eating your seed corn, but them's the breaks. Next harvest should see quite a bit more done with them. And hey, a cool 20k in the pocket never hurt anybody.

    The rain was a thundering deluge, but I managed to get to Clint's to upgrade my pick. Bout dang time. This'll make my caving much easier. Ran into Penny sitting under the overhang at the museum again. Sat down next to her. Didn't say anything, didn't need to. Somehow, her hand and mine managed to get tangled up. Not too sure how it happened, but didn't want to be all awkward and yank back or something. So yea. That was a thing that happened. Yanno somethin', though? She's got a point. The rain is nice when you're out in it, but not, like, out in it. Also, white cotton blouse plus drenching rain. All I'm gonna say.

    Summer 16th

    Mines went from real cold to real hot. Finally found some gold ore. Now I'm going to be able to really start cranking out the sprinklers. Finally. Which means less work every morning. Which means more time for the mines. Now I just need tons of copper and iron. Also, I thought blue slimes were bad, those red and pink ones are murder. Not getting enough coal, either. This resource shortage problem is sadly familiar, but at least I've got actual cash in my pocket. Not much, after investing, but some. It's progress. Of a sort.




    Summer 17th, year 1

    Wow, it's sure dangerous down in the mines. Found me a new sword, though. This one with an obsidian blade. Works pretty well. These things down here still hurt like heck, though. After finding the new elevator level, I rode up to the cavernous areas where copper is plentiful. Gonna need a *LOT* of it.

    Summer 18th, year 1

    And here's where my master plan begins. Mwhahah... ahem, sorry. Don't know what came over me there. I don't usually do the villain laugh. Honest. Anyway, called up Joja Corporate Office, and bounced an idea off of them. Basically, if I can pay off my licensing fees early, I can switch from being a franchisee to being a subsidary. In other words, instead of being a JojaCorp business, I'll be my own business that happens to be affiliated with and subordinate to JojaCorp. The reasons they liked this were many. First off, as a supposedly independent company, Joja gets to brag about how supportive of small business they are. After all, they're supporting MY business, aren't they? Second, my business here is very 'green', so this is an opportunity to crow about environmentalism. Third, I will be making handmade artisanal products, which is a far cry from the generic corn syrup and MSG laden products they normally offer, bringing in a different class of clientèle. Oh, and let's not forget profits, while we're discussing the high points. I'll be doing all the processing on my side, meaning that is processing they don't have to do. Sure, they're going to pay me more per product, but not needing a factory to process it means lower overhead and ultimately savings all 'round.

    And I'm going to screw over Morris to do it. Here's how:

    I'm going to make him an offer. He's been wanting to do this whole 'community outreach' project for a while. His promotion hinges on it, in fact. So, I offer to fund the whole dang project in exchange for having those funds count against my licensing fees I still owe Joja. I'm pretty sure Morris will have to go talk to HIS boss to get the okay for that, but I'm also pretty sure he'll be salivating so hard that he'll exert all of his resources and favors to see it happens. And when it does... I'm the one that is going to be featured in the newsletter, not him. And his promotion will end up... getting lost in the paperwork somewhere. And won't that be a treat? But then, that's what you get for being a greedy short-sighted local management type. Of course, the fellows up in Corporate are more visionary, but they're seeing a win/win deal here from their perspective. Which it is. And when I kick the traces and go independent, I'll still be using them as my distributor, so they aren't going to get screwed, per se, since they'll still be making their money one way or another.

    And best of all... the whole town will benefit. All those community outreach projects that need to get done? Get done. The town gets a serious cash injection from the purchase of that community center that literally no one has gone into since I got here and is nothing more than a rat infested public hazard. Morris gets screwed over, which'll make the whole town cheer. And everybody lives happily ever after.

    I just need one more harvest to put my plan into action.

    Summer 21st

    Got all my sprinklers for this season down, but I'll need more for next season. Right now, I've got 80 blueberry bushes. Next season, I'm going to double that, 160 cranberry bushes. Which will need a few more sprinklers. However, I've got most of what I need already, so it won't be long now. Got a dozen or so kegs up and running, processing the hops first.

    Going to need to be careful on finances. It's gonna cost me 40k for all those cranberry seeds. Can't splurge on screwing over Morris until I'm sure I can cover that on top of the other expenses. May have to wait until fall to set him up for the fall. It'll still be worth it. And Corporate is going to be thrilled that I paid them back early. They're still not expecting to see anything until spring of next year.



    Summer 24th
    Spent the past few days doing the usual. Mining for copper, making sprinklers, finally upgrading my axe. That kind of thing. I was exploring options for growing in the spare slots, and discovered Poppies. While they do have a rather unsavory reputation for some of their uses, they are not, by themselves, immoral. Also, apparently Penny likes them. They don't sell very well, sadly, probably due to aforementioned stigma, so I might as well keep 'em to give to her. Yanno. I guess. I mean, it's not like they're worth selling or anything, better than throwing them away.

    I had [several lines of scribbles where things were penned in and scribbled out and penned in again] umm... remembered that I had borrowed a book from Penny and was returning it. And figured I'd bring her a flower by way of thanks. Unfortunately... things did not turn out so well. The trailer was a complete mess when I came in, and Penny desperately trying to clean it up. So, of course, I decided to lend a hand and pitched in. Then her mother comes in. I don't know if she was drunk (at 9 AM? Maybe that should be 'still drunk'. I hope...) or hung over, but either way, she was as ornery as a grizzly bear with hemorrhoids trying to pass pinecones. What I will say is this... Pam is a verbally abusive redneck. I don't know if she would have become physically abusive if I hadn't been there and cleared my throat at an opportune time, but I'm just as glad she didn't. I doubt I'd have been able to keep my temper if she had. And, unlike her, I've got a sword, and I've got plenty of practice down in the mines.

    Yanno, it's a crime what Pam puts her daughter through. Actually, I mean that literally with the whole verbal abuse thing, but more generally. She treats that girl like a slave. I'm not surprised she hangs out with Maru as much as she does. And Maru is to intelligent to not see what is going on here, either. I don't know why an intervention hasn't been staged yet, but I'm about to do something about it myself. In a non-lethal manner, of course. I may be upset, but I'm not going down that road. Except in self-defense or defense of another. Like Penny. But she'd have to go after Penny with like a frying pan or something for that to happen.

    Summer 25th
    Got an apology letter from Penny.

    Okay, calmed down a bit. Seriously, she's apologizing for her mother being a... hemorrhoidal grizzly bear passing pinecones? Seriously? Insert profanity here. No, really, I'm educated enough that I do not typically need to resort to profanity. If you wish to curse and swear, don't despair, use some flair. Be creative with your words and enjoy the whole affair. But this? Just... no. There are no words virulent enough.

    To distract myself, I went chopping trees and worked out my aggression clear-cutting a swath on my farm. Made a decent amount of progress. Maybe I'm actually starting to get a hang of this rural life. Also, did some math. A Preserves Jar requires 50 wood, 40 stone, and 8 coal. Now, wood costs 10 each, stone 40 each, and coal 8 each. So if I have to purchase everything, it's like 2k for each preserves jar. Which it may come to, eventually. But for now, I have the wood and stone, so I just need to plunk down for the coal, which makes each jar around 750 each, which is more reasonable.

    Been making a bunch of kegs, and I think I finally got the hang of it. I'm not a professional cooper or anything, but it works, and that's the important part. I've got several oak trees with taps down to produce the oak resin I will need. It's not in any particular tearing hurry, but it's at least steady. Copper and Iron I can mine for, and I've got a decent reserve of clay. I don't have enough, but it's a beginning. Also going to plot out where my tree farm is going to be. And, of course, Fall is right around the corner. That's gonna be a busy day for me. My back is already griping, and it hasn't even happened yet.



    Summer 28th, year 1

    Spent the last few days clear-cutting and preparing for the fall and making preservation jars and kegs. Going to need a LOT more of those. There's some town celebration of some glowing jellyfish. Eh, as long as they don't want me to pet one or something, I'm okay with going. I like jellyfish just fine... pickled and on a plate. Or maybe in some nature documentary. Somewhere located far, far away from me. Paralytic toxin in water you can drown in... yea, that's a winning combination right there. Of course, since it is late evening, I still get a chance to get a full day's work in.

    Everyone gathered by the beach. They had put a plank across the broken bridge so you could get to the tidal pool, but it was strictly temporary. Which reminds me, I need to repair that one of these days.

    Chatted with everyone. Typical responses are typical. Ran into Penny. She seemed rather excited. We found a secluded place to watch the jellyfish. They were... umm... quite nice. Very... er... glow-ey. I guess we found a couple of things to do as well. I'll admit, she's a nice gal. It's surprising, considering what her mother is like. Then again, I suppose it's a perfect example of a negative example teaching an important lesson. Maybe that's why she's a teetotaler, because her mom is such a lush. I certainly don't mind. I mean, sure, if your plan is to liquor up the girl to get busy with her, that's not gonna fly. But that's not really my thing. In the first place, there's this thing called 'responsibility'. Also this thing called 'STD's' and 'pregnancy'. Also, my personal philosophy: don't stick it in crazy. And if they are willing to be willing after a few bottles... that's kind of a warning sign.

    I found out from Maru that Penny's birthday is Tuesday.

    Eventually, it got late, and I had a lot of work in the morning, so we called it a night.

    Fall 1st, year 1

    Planted 160 cranberries and two rare seeds. Crashing now, fill in later.

    Fall 2nd, year 1

    Penny's birthday is today. So I figured... why not? Give her a flower for her birthday. Well, came in and she was cooking and invited me to sample. Well... why not? Bottom's Up!

    You know that cooking show? Yea, maybe she could stand to watch it a few times. But it's not like I'm gonna say that to Penny. So yea, complemented her food. She seemed really happy about it. Gave her the flower for her birthday. She... umm... gave me a kiss on the cheek. It was... yanno... a peck on the cheek. Not like we were sucking face or anything. Spent some time hanging out. Then her mom got back, and... well, let's just say that kind of killed any non-existent mood which may or may not have had a chance of being... mood-ish. Moody? Nah, that's for emos. Anyway. Went back to my farm to reorganize kegs into a more rational layout.



    Fall 7th, year 1

    Spent the past week clearing out the farm. I've got plenty planned for next year. Various fruit trees, oak tree farm, this is all gonna need some space. Did find a huge red mushroom. Left it alone, maybe I can get more to grow. Mushrooms on tap, maybe? Wouldn't be the worst thing to have happen.

    Been building kegs and preserves jars. Still don't have enough, but there's only so many I can make at a time. However, I have a plan. If I run berries through a seed maker, I get like two or three seeds, but each seed is worth almost as much as the berries themselves. So I figure it might be an alternative, moreso because it won't take much to run it. Unlike making fermented beverages, running seeds through a seed maker is a very rapid process. Might be worth testing, anyway.

    Fall 8th, year 1

    HOLY FRIJOLES! 350 cranberries out of 160 bushes. So many berries. So tired.

    Fall 9th, year 1

    Well, that was a cool 60k, and that's before the jars and kegs are done. The seed maker is definitely a profit multiplier.

    Ran into Penny and the kids. Permitted myself to get drafted as a 'guest speaker'. After, Penny and I had a nice chat. It was... nice. Kind of odd, the topic turned to families. Not sure if I should be picking up some kind of secret code in that, or if a cigar is just a cigar. But she seemed happy enough, so I'm willing to shrug it off until evidence is provided one way or the other.

    Tomorrow, I talk to Morris. I've got all the money I need now. It's time to kick this into high gear. Cue the climactic music.



    Fall 10th, year 1

    I'm about right there with the Kool-Aid man... OH YEA! Here's about how it went down:

    Went to the Joja Mart. He had that look. You know, the 'sleezy used car salesman' expression. The one that makes you feel like you need to wipe the sleeze off afterwards? Yea, that one. And he starts up with his shpeal.

    "Well, if it isn't the new farmer. You know, I've got a special deal right now. For a single initial investment in a lifetime membership, you get a permanent discount on all Joja Mart prices. That is, of course, in addition to and on top of any sales or coupons we might offer. This bad boy can pay itself off before you know it. So, shall I put you down for one?"

    "Actually, Morris, I've got an even better idea for you. I hear you're trying to get this 'community outreach program' up and running, but having a shortage of funds, right?"

    He was clearly taken aback that I was not immediately refusing or accepting his offer. Off his script, he stammered. "I... er... yes, actually. Ummm... may I ask why you have taken an interest?"

    "Simple. You see, I'm already a Joja Franchisee, so I am by no means against JojaCorp. And I want to help you out, and also help myself out in the process. You see, I've got enough cash on hand, right now, to fund your entire project." And with that, I drop a bag on the counter, which makes a very satisfying sound of lots of chinking of coins, which draws his attention like a dieter seeing an all-you-can-eat dessert buffet. "So, what I want is this: I fund you, in entirety, including purchasing the membership. In exchange, I want the money to count against my franchising fees. Win/win. You get your project, I get my franchise paid off. Whaddya say?"

    Not taking his eyes off of the bag of money, he manages to utter "I... ummm... I'm going to have to get permission from Corporate before I can agree to those terms and conditions, but... er... lemme give someone a call. You wait right here, won't be but about five minutes." And with that, and barely restrained glee, he heads to his office. A few minutes later, and he emerges with a big ol' grin. You'd have thought he had a gal back there under his desk or somethin'. "Would you like to step into my office while we draw up the contract?"

    Score.

    The rest was mere formalities. A brief conference call with Corporate to make sure all the I's were dotted and T's were crossed. Signatures all over the place. And it was done. I handed over the cash, which he treated like a teen with his... ahem... 'article' magazines. I got my membership card, and I left him in his office to his own devices. And hey, whatever he does in his closed room is... really none of my business.

    Elated with my success, I swing on by Pierre's. He had mentioned that he is now stocking bouquets, and I figured I could get one for Penny. It's not like I can't afford it. Maybe give her the good news while I'm at it.



    Fall 11th, year 1

    Preserves came in. Really need to get more jars, but they're quite the popular hit. Penny found me, rather than the reverse, and she wasn't particularly happy either. The expression was like I had just kicked a puppy, that cross between hurt and angry and confused.

    "I thought you cared about this town." the accusation was in a sharp tone of voice, and the glower was fierce

    "Of course I do."

    "Then how could you go over to that slick bastard Morris's side?" Clearly, Penny had several reasons to be upset with Morris

    "Now, who ever said that?" There was a lilting tone to my voice, the verbal equivalent of a smirk. I think I know where this is going.

    "Well, this morning, Morris threw your membership in Lewis's face, and Lewis just... caved. Sold the old community center right then and there. You could see tears in his eyes as he did it, too."

    "Ahh. And I bet Morris was bragging about his community outreach project too, wasn't he?"

    "Well, yea. Crowing about it somethin' fierce. Lemme guess, you had something to do with that too."

    "Can we continue this conversation on my farm? There's some things I'd like to discuss with you in a less public venue."

    "You did, didn't you! Why should I go over to your corporate shill farm?"

    "Because Morris's interpretation of what is happening is... about as accurate as your mother's when she's drunk. He's drunk on power, and it is going to bite him in the ass. However, I would prefer he not realize this until it is too late. So, the question is... do you trust me? Or do you wish to never speak to me again?"

    "I... I..." her glower was fierce "Fine, let's go. This I've got to hear."

    As we head back to the farm, we pass through the cranberry bushes, ripening another crop of berries. "Look around, Penny. What do you see?"

    "Umm... cranberries?"

    "Are there any machines spewing smogulous smoke or schloppity schlop?"

    "Uhh... no."

    "Precisely. When I came here, I did so as a Joja Corp franchisee. In layman's terms, I put my farm up as collateral on a loan, and in exchange, the corporation helped me get a start, hooking me up with distribution and purchasing my products at a good rate. It was the only way I could get a start from where I came from."

    "And just where was that?"

    "Much like Shane, I suppose, only I worked in a customer support call center. You know, that 1-800 number on that bulletin board 'for concerns or compliments'? Yea, that was me. I got to listen to people whine, moan, and complain all day long. Then the position got outsourced overseas. I didn't have two cents to rub together. I wouldn't have even made it here if it wasn't for the deal I made. I'd never have... well... I'd have never met you."

    "I'm paying off my franchisee fees so they can't repo the farm and I will, again, own it outright. And, bluntly, I'm taking advantage of Morris's greed to do it."

    "Wait... what?"

    "Morris is a short-sighted local management type. I've seen all together too many of that sort. Only, for once, he wasn't my boss. I know how he operates. He's looking for his big promotion. Which he thinks he is going to get. Only I've been in contact with Corporate on my own, and what will happen is something slightly different, which will benefit not only the town, but Joja Corporation as a whole."

    "And how's that? Morris has already bulldozed the old community center and put up a great huge warehouse."

    "Penny, Lewis showed me was was in there. Trust me, that building was a hazard waiting to happen. Rotting support beams, rats infesting the place and making nests... and once rats nest, they start running around all over town. Tearing that dilapidated danger down is the best thing that has happened to this town in years. And yes, Morris put my warehouse in its place."

    "Wait... your warehouse?"

    "Yep. He doesn't know it yet, of course, or he wouldn't be so damn smug, but every last dime I put into his community outreach program is going to retire my entire debt to JojaCorp. So not only do I not owe them anymore, I'm going to be my own company now, as a subsidiary of Joja. A green-friendly, completely organic, using a sustainable business model. These are big buzz words to corporations, especially to one with as bad a rep as Joja.

    "This cranberry field? It's a start. Over there, where I just got done clearing? That's going to be my tree farm. Renewable resources, Penny. Working with nature instead of against it. And over on the other side of that pond? That's where the fruit trees are going. This farm plot is going to stay right where it is, just about as passive as it is going to be. And that building over there? That's going to be the greenhouse. Morris is going to have his guys over tomorrow to put it into ship-shape. Those rows of kegs? Are going to be expanding. And those rows of preservative jars too. I will be producing organic 'yuppie treats'. Wines, fine very expensive wines, not that cheap rotgut your mother guzzles, the kind people pay thousands per bottle for. Preserves, too. The phrase is 'hand-made organic artisanal comestibles'. And JojaCorp is not only funding it, they're going to be my distributor. My profit margin here is huge. I'll be making money hand over fist. I'll be dragging Joja into a more economically friendly business model whether they like it or not, and Morris will end up getting screwed out of his promotion because of all the costs involved in retiring my debt that he took over.

    "And let's look at what it is going to do for the town. JojaCorp is here already. This is not a change in the status quo. What this is going to keep from happening is for JojaCorp to get any more fingers in any pies around here, because they'll be too busy with me. This will keep Morris from profiting off of everyone else. Pierre's will not be closing. The whole town just got a huge influx of money from the sale of that decrepit old building, and will be getting more on the taxes I pay. And my business is going to put Pelican Town on the map in a big way. You'll have bus-loads of snobs coming to check out the winery and eat cheese and sip wine and pay a fortune to do so and to be able to brag about it to their snobbish friends. Tourists. Who will be far more interested in shopping at a 'quaint little place' like Pierre's than at a Joja Store which can be found on any corner. The governor will be more impressed by this than by any soup made at a Luau, I assure you.

    "When I first came here, this place was a plot of wild unclaimed land that hasn't seen a crop in years. When I pass away, it is going to be one of the most profitable farms in the world. A legacy to pass on to future generations. That's what I'm doing Penny. I'm already indecently wealthy by any individual standard. If I want to be honest, I'm already a millionaire if you take into consideration non-liquid assets. If I was just looking out for myself, I wouldn't have needed to have done this. But I grew up poor, about like you did, and I'm not going to inflict what we had to go through on any kids I might have. I'm going to make sure I can give them the kind of life I never had. That's why I'm doing this."

    Penny was stunned. "I... I never... that is... I didn't know..."

    "You never knew... because I never told you. And I... don't feel particularly good about that. However, I absolutely cannot let this get back to Morris before everything is done, because there still might be a chance he can get out of it. I am in a very delicate position right now. In a week, Corporate is going to drop the bomb on him. And when that happens, I can 'go public', so to speak. But since you trusted me and gave me a chance to hear me out, I'm trusting you, telling you this, explaining it to you. If you wanted, you could ruin me right now, by going to Morris with this information. All the work I've done, my grandfather's farm... gone overnight. I won't ask you not to, because I have no right to ask you what to do. I will simply trust you to do what you think is best for yourself and for the town. If you truly think what I am doing is going to hurt the town... now's your chance to shut me down cold."

    "So you mean... this whole time you've been here... this has been your plan?"

    "Pretty much. I... umm... I kept a journal, if you want to read it. Yanno, if ya want to."

    "You... you'd let me read your journal?"

    "Well, I trust you. So yea. I guess. Oh, there was something else I'd like to show you while you're here."

    "Oh, umm... what?"

    Doubtlessly someone romantic would have pulled out the bouquet with a flourish. I managed to avoid tripping myself. Graceful I am not. It didn't seem much the worse for wear, though. "I know you like flowers, so... here."

    Her response was positive, nonverbal, and none of anyone else's damn business.



    Fall 16th, year 1

    Something kinda odd. The rare seeds sprouted into Gem Berries this morning. Don't know how that happened, they were still far from maturing yesterday. Also, a couple of the cranberry bushes nearby suddenly sprouted fruit at the same time. Doubtless the old hoax would have some silly excuse about 'fairies' or some nonsense. Personally, I care less how it happened than the fact that it did happen. Despite being a very sweet fruit, it doesn't look like I can turn it into preserves or wine, so I suppose it's just going to get sold as-is. Still not a bad haul, but could have been better.

    The bus got fixed. Pam, of all people, is driving it. Seriously? I mean... really? We're going to give the alcoholic the keys to the bus. Is that really what we're doing here?

    Fall 17th

    Fall festival. They were asking me to do a Garange Display or something. Yea... not really my style. Too much like bragging to me. So I just purchased some points. The wheel of fortune guy has a magnet behind the display which affects the odds, smart money on green. Got enough to get me everything I needed, including a nice hat, and left.



    Fall 18th, year 1

    Got a letter from Morris, he'd gotten a response from Corporate, and is inviting everyone. Will I attend? Of course! I wouldn't miss this for the world. But first, a few stops...

    Knocking on the door of Penny's home, my smirk was showing by the time she answered. "What's with that look? You look like the cat that stole the cream."

    "You know that thing we talked about earlier?"

    "Yea?"

    "It's getting announced. Wanna see the expression on Morris's face?"

    "Oh. Oh, yes. This, I have to see."

    "Might want to hunt down the mayor while you're at it. I think he's going to want to witness this as well."

    "You know, I do believe you are right." With a quick peck on the cheek, she skipped off to go tell Lewis, while I went over to the warehouse.

    All of the local Joja employees were already gathered. Shane had that eternally suffering look on his face, but slightly less disgruntled than normal. I guess getting out of a few hours of work qualifies as a bright spot for him. Morris has that smug look on his face. The envelope is still sealed, he still doesn't know. Oh, this is going to be good.

    "Ahem." Morris clears his throat to get everyone's attention. I fade to the back of the gathering, where I found Penny and Lewis. My hand found hers, and we shared a knowing smile. "Today marks a significant event in our fair city. We've reached a milestone by completing the Community Outreach Program to beautify the local area, with the help of a few local donations, of course." He didn't even mention me by name. Clearly, I wasn't the only one who was planning on hogging credit. "As a result, we're being mentioned in the JojaNews broadsheet, and we were sent an early copy. Let's see what it has to say!" With a dramatic motion, he tore open the envelope, shook out the newsletter, and began reading

    "It is always a pleasure to see our local offices go above and beyond the call of duty and exceed anyone's wildest expectations and set an example by which others can follow. And never before have we had such a shining example as our location in Pelican town." He paused a moment to bask in his ego, then continued reading. "This is truly a success story that every employee of JojaCorp can take example from. As everyone already knows, JojaCorp has been offering Franchise opportunities to any employee with enough gumption to go out and make a change for themselves and their community. Today, we recognize the accomplishments of one such go-getter and his success story..." Morris's voice began to peter out, with a note of confusion, but then gamely continued on. "When we outsourced our support systems, many simply found jobs elsewhere within the company, with assistance from Human Resources of course. Others simply left Joja entirely to seek employment elsewhere. One man, however, decided that he didn't want to settle for just another job. He took advantage of our employee to franchisee program. And today, we're pleased to announce that in less than a year, he has paid off his franchisee fees in total, and has become a fully fledged subsidiary of Joja! And so, with heartfelt applause, we welcome Shneekey's as the newest member of our corporate family." Now Morris was glaring at me. With a similarly smug look, I walk up to him and take the broadsheet to continue reading. Shane went from 'eternally suffering' to 'holy crap, is this for real?' to 'the boss just looks like he bit into a raw lemon, this is gonna be good!'.

    "Thank you, Morris. I'll continue from here." I look over the crowd, whose attitude had somewhat changed, and whose attendance had grown exponentially. Practically everyone in town was present now.

    "Shneekey's is a completely green and organic producer of artisanal treats. Due to the lack of preservatives, the offerings will change with the season, but will always be including fine wines and preservatives. Always 100% organic and hand-made, Shneekey's is leading the way to a greener future for JojaCorp, who has always strived to be a good corporate citizen and help small businesses like this become established and thrive. With help from JojaCorp, Shneekey's has won the 'biggest growth quarter' for Q3 award. In addition, The Pelican Town Community Outreach Program, the testing bed for countless other community beautification and outreach programs, has been a resounding success! With help from Joja, the humble city of Pelican Town is once again connected by mass transit, a few old buildings have been rebuilt, and thousands have been poured back into the local community from JojaCorp's Corporate Citizen fund."

    "The founder of Shneekey's started off much as any of our employees. Today, he owns his own wildly successful business which has been growing exponentially over the past two quarters. So you see, anyone can succeed, and Joja can help them get there. We always have room for upward mobility for anyone willing to reach out and grab it by the horns. We'd love to award him with Franchisee of the Year, however he doesn't actually qualify, because he was a Franchisee for less than a year."

    "With the resounding success of their green and organic business model, Joja is expanding into a leaner, meaner, greener business model. You can expect to see Shneekey's fine artisanal comestibles, and other organic offerings from our many other subsidiaries, at a JojaMart near you."

    "If you are an employee tired of your work-a-day world and wanting to move up, see your local Human Resources representative about Franchise opportunities today, and our next feature could be about YOU!"

    I look back up to the crowd "When I first came to Pelican Town, I didn't really know what to expect. I was practically a stranger, my parents went off to the big town to get away from the small city life well before I was born, and only a few of you ever really knew my grandfather. And yet, I was welcomed from day one like I was part of a family. Today, I'm returning the favor. I'm going to put Pelican Town on the map. Shneekey's is already being advertised under JojaCorp's green ad campaign, you can probably see the commercials after the evening news tonight. But I won't be betraying the values that built this town in the first place. I won't be polluting up the place. My business is, and will always remain, a completely green and organic business. Seeds purchased from local establishments like Pierre's," I nod to said local business owner, who nods back "no artificial ingredients or harsh fertilizers. My grandfather had a farm, I'm going to make that farm into all that it could be. I'm going to be setting up a 'quaint local winery', the kind that rich people visit as a tourist trap, with their big wallets. I'm going to be bringing in money to the town without paving it to the ground. The kind that gets the attention of the Governor. We won't lose that small town model, but we will lose that small town poverty. Now, local artisans will have a chance to sell their wares not just to local people, but to people from all over the country. Maybe we can even set up a tour to hit all the bright spots and make sure that all of our artisans are featured. Whadday say, Lewis?"

    "I'd say that sounds like a grand idea. When Morris came to me with your membership card, I thought... well, nevermind that. But I'm glad to have been proven wrong. You've got your heart in the right place, and a good head on your shoulders."

    With that, the gathering mostly broke up, and I headed back to the farm. And found Penny there.

    "Uhh, hi there."

    "Um, hi. I just wanted to, yanno, congratulate you and stuff. Oh, since the bus got fixed, mom has had something to take her mind off of everything, so she's been drinking less, since she actually has something to do in the morning now, she can't afford too bad a hangover. And she can't drive if she does the 'hair of the dog' thing. She's not sober, but... it's a start. And she's been less... umm... well, you know."

    Remembering the shouting match Pam had when she saw me pitching in to help clean, I just nod "Yea. Not so loud."

    "Yea. So, umm... thanks. For not being a greedy corporate jerk." She leans in and gives me a hug

    "Thanks for believing that I'm not a greedy corporate jerk." My arms just kinda naturally wrap around her and hold her close. It was... nice. Very nice. Not necessarily, yanno, but nice. We spent the rest of the day on the farm hanging out, and watched the sunset together. Then I walked her home, and went back. Somehow, the farm seemed... emptier... without her. Weird.



    Fall 24th, year 1

    Well, this past week or so has been rather lively. While processing my cranberries through the seed maker, I came across a rather unusual seed. Took it to Gunther for examination, and he said it appeared to be some kind of fruit seed that hasn't been seen in ages, but it appeared to be viable. So, planted it in the greenhouse, just to see what it will do.

    Hit the bottom of the mines. Found a 'skull key' and some odd note left by a Mr. Qi challenging me to find where it fit. Uh huh. Pull the other one, it plays 'my country 'tis of thee'.

    Hired Robin to upgrade the house. Been subsisting too much lately, I need a real kitchen.

    Fall 28th, year 1

    Raining today. Heard rumors about some old mariner who shows up when it is raining, so went out to the tidal pools to check it out. Turns out they were right. He sold me a seashell necklace. At this point, money isn't really something I have to worry about, but maybe Penny will like it.

    Winter 1st, year 1

    Got a letter from Lewis explaining about that necklace I picked up yesterday. So... basically an engagement ring. Good to know. Glad I didn't give it to Penny yet, that would've been sit-com level embarrassing.

    Also got a note from Penny asking me to meet her in the bath house after dark. Oooo-kay. Sure, why not? Did some mining, seems like I'm always needing Copper, Iron, and Coal. Came back up, went to the bath house.

    And there was Penny. In a very cute, and very revealing, blue two-piece that nearly qualifies as a bikini if it wasn't an off-the-shoulder top. And what happened next? Well, suffice to say, we got a chance to have a very meaningful conversation on the topic of relationships. She made it perfectly clear that my intentions were, in fact, quite welcome. And as for myself? Well, I may or may not have admitted some things too. What, precisely, that might have been is between me and her. And the rest of what happened? Extra-special none of anybody's damn business.

    Winter 2nd, year 1

    Praise Yoba for the dawn! I swear, today is just amazing. The sky is amazing. The bracing wind is amazing. The light snowfall dusting everything is like something out of a damn storybook. I swear, I didn't know life until I came out here. People kept giving me this odd, knowing smirking look, but I didn't mind. Maru, in particular, nearly blew her nose out trying to contain all the smug when she saw me for some reason or another. But that's fine too. After all, it's a wonderful day. Yanno, something my old man told me once just came back to me. "Ya wanna know what love is, son? It's simple. It's not 'can I live with her', it's 'can I live without her'. When that answer is 'no', that's love". Dunno why that suddenly popped into my head this morning. Oh well.



    Winter 3rd, year 1

    Ahem, pardon that last entry.

    Anyway, I suspect I am the target of a rather elaborate prank. Went to go explore the bus hall a bit. Found a battery station with a bad battery, which was causing the darkness. Tossed in a pack, and got a note from a Mr Qi telling me to go put a rainbow shell in a bin over in the train station. Sure, why not, I'm heading that way anyway to go into the mines. Do that, get a note to put ten beets in the mayor's fridge. Wut. At this point, I'm fairly sure that this 'Mr Qi' is, in fact, the mayor playing an elaborate joke on me. But what the heck, I need to get off the ol' farmstead for a bit anyway. Go to the oasis shop, pick up some beet seeds, plant in the greenhouse. Not like I've got anything but a single seed in there anyway. Actually, should probably get on that. Got some leftover cranberry seeds I can plant.

    Winter 5th, year 1

    Got a couple of irridium bars worth of ore from the skull cave. Nasty place, that. Made a couple of iridium sprinklers to put in the greenhouse. Need a few more and I'll be set. Planted some cranberries, some beets, and some starfruit. My lonely ancient sapling is still growing. Wonder how long it will take.

    I was staring at that necklace I picked up off of the old man, that ancient mariner. It's odd, I haven't seen him around since. Not entirely sure how he got there either. The necklace is equally strange. At first, it seems a simple conch shell. But as you look at it deeper, you notice the fine filigree work, actual gemstones where one would expect salt crusting, and the entire thing is made out of some substance that is as thin as porcelain, with that same vaguely translucent property, but far more durable. Just taking into consideration the stones and artwork involved, it was a steal at the price I paid for it. Part of me wanted to see how much I could get by reselling it, but I really didn't have the heart to actually go through with it.

    And that got me thinking about Penny. Knowing what I know now, I can't possibly give it to her. I mean, it would be cruel to give her basically an engagement ring and not follow through, right? I mean, sure, if I want to leave a legacy, that means I'm going to need to find a woman, get married, do the whole kids thing, to pass it on to. And I meant it when I told Penny that, this is my goal. But I couldn't do that to her. I mean, I may be rich, but I'm not that egotistical. I know I'm no prize.

    The question isn't 'can you live with her', the question is 'can you go through the rest of your life without her being a part of it'. That's one I was still wrestling over when there was a knock on my door. Penny had come over to share with me a new dish, or rather I was to be her test subject for a new dish. However, I had inadvertently kept the necklace in hand when I went to answer the door.

    The moment she laid eyes on it, I was doomed. I knew I was. There was absolutely no way out of this, no pretending it wasn't there. So... I winged it. With my typical suavery and eloquence.

    "I... uhhh...." There, see what I mean? James Bond himself couldn't have been more suave.

    "I... is that...?" She seemed equally eloquent herself. I can't really blame her.

    "I... umm... yea. I think. I mean, I got it from some old sailor guy. Looked pretty."

    "You do know what that represents, don't you?" Her voice was breathless, her eyes a mixture of fear and... something else.

    "Ummm, I think Lewis sent me a letter about it. Basically, umm... yea." Well, no backing out now. It's not like I'm going to give it to anyone else around here. With a deep breath to calm myself, which was amazingly and wildly unsuccessful, I opened my mouth and inserted foot "Yanno, it's silly. Everyone married just says 'you'll know when'. I thought it was complete and utter foolishness." Umm... gee, that ground sure is... umm... dirt and stuff... "But... I mean... you've always been there for me. You trust me when just about anyone else would've just screwed me over. You're a good friend, a beautiful woman, and... well... I got it with you in mind, before I knew what it meant. I've spent a few days thinking about it after I found out what it meant. There's no one else here for me, Penny, so there's really no reason not to. Will you... umm..." at that point, my nervous blathering ran out of steam and I just held it up for her.

    She didn't say a word at first. You know that phrase 'time stood still'? Yea, I'd like to find the guy who came up with that idea and choke the life out of him. I swear I could hear each and every heartbeat thudding as time seemed to come to a total and complete halt. Then she smiled. That smile. You know the one. Not even Elliot could describe that smile. Words have not been invented which could come close. And she reached out, took the necklace, and put it on. Her response from thereafter, while nonverbal, was a quite... umm... enthusiastic acceptance.

    We never did get around to trying that dish.



    Winter 8th, year 1

    Past few days have moved in a blur. I have a sneaking suspicion that I have that silly stupid grin on my face. I also don't care in the least. Wedding was today. Went off without a hitch. Well, except us getting hitched, of course. Lewis pontificated a bit, I wasn't really paying attention.

    There was also some winter festival being held today. I don't know if they changed the date to make it a wedding celebration, or it just ended up on that day. Ether way, we made a polite entrance, talked to a few people, got the well-wishing out of the way, and retired early. I don't think anyone minded. And really, can ya blame us?

    Winter 9th, year 1

    Yanno... I could really get used to this whole 'married life' thing. I really must say, I'm doing really well for myself. Money coming in hand over fist, beautiful woman who loves me for a wife. Yea, that word, wife. That stupid ass grin is back, isn't it? And not even the most fundamental conservative twit can say a damn thing about us anymore. It's not only permitted, it's encouraged. Granted, her mom gave pro forma threats about treating her right, but I suspect it was largely for her benefit rather than mine. I may have to do something about her living quarters at some point. Maybe get Robin to build her a real house so she doesn't have to live in that trailer. But under no circumstances is she EVER going to move in with us. Penny and I both agree on this topic.

    So, beets came in, I delivered them to Lewis's fridge. There was a note. In his fridge. Directing me to give 'a dragon his last meal'. Ooookay, now this is getting creepy. Well, there's a big fossil that looks like a dragon. Last meal... maybe that essence those things down in the frozen levels has? So, got a ride from Pam out to the desert. And yea, a note saying to check my woodpile. Okay, NOW this is starting to creep me out. Go back to my woodpile, and there's a club card there.

    Apparently, behind the oasis store, there's a casino run by this Mr. Qi. I politely advised him that if he's ever found on my property again, his body will be found there the following morning. The primary game in the casino is a variant on blackjack. I really have no interest in gambling, house always wins in the end.

    Winter 18th, year 1

    Settling into a comfortable routine with the missus. Yea, that still gives me the most ridiculous grin on my face. I know I look like a complete and utter moron, I just don't give a fig. Yanno, I never thought, when I first moved here, that I'd ever be saying anything like that. I was going to become financially stable so I would never have to work one of those damn dead-end minimum wage jobs ever again. This was not part of the plan. SO not complaining, though. Anyway, nice routine. Since it is winter, not a whole lot of cropping to do, the stuff in the greenhouse mostly tends to itself. Producing steady quantity of barrels and preserves jars to continue increasing my production output. Then I call it a day when Penny gets done tutoring the kids. As far as what happens next? Well, newlyweds, you figure it out. If you're still lost, it's really not my place to educate you on that topic, ask your parents.

    That ancient seed finally matured. Looks like some kind of stalky vine thing with large, succulent fruit. And the taste... oh my. It's like an explosion of sweet flavor in my mouth. This... this is it. This is going to be the cash crop to end all cash crops. So, the rest of the fruit went into the seed maker (tempting as it would be to finish eating it). We're going to make this an exponentially growing business. As I get more of these, I will slowly be phasing out the starfruit and cranberries until the entire greenhouse is nothing but these things, and a few sprinklers dotted around.

    Winter 22nd, year 1

    So, after a full season needed to grow, the plant then produces fruit roughly every week. Good to know. This should significantly increase the rate of expansion.

    Not going to ignore the plot I still have outside. When spring comes, I'll be making Rhubarb my cash crop of the season. Might get more money out of strawberries, but I don't happen to have any strawberry seeds on hand, and Rhubarb preserves are a great cash crop, marketed as a great pie filling. Might pick some up for next year if they are selling them again at the egg festival.

    I can get in two crops of Rhubarb before the end of the season. Should net me just under a quarter million for the season, on top of everything else. Summer is going to be profitable as hell, though. Starfruit Wine is ludicrously profitable. I'll have to run the numbers and see if I want to do starfruit wine or blueberry preserves. Will need a hell of a lot more preserves jars for doing the blueberries, but that's just a cash investment at this point. Maybe some Hops as well, Pale Ale is also a real cash cow. Fall is going to be more cranberries. This is, of course, in addition to, rather than instead of, the ancient fruit in the greenhouse.

    Might also look into a Barn for raising cows. While not particularly profitable, cheese is a very welcome gift among the vast majority of the community, and of course, the social elite who will be visiting my quaint little organic winery will want cheese to go with their wine, so why not keep it in house? Plus it is a very energizing food for those times when I go caving. It may, in fact, be the first major farm expense that is not expected to return significant profits in cash, but it will pay out dividends in other ways that can be equally valuable.




    Winter 28th, Year 1: Year-end Review


    Picked up a few fruit trees, some peach trees and some pomegranate. Won't do me any good to pick up any spring-fruiting trees at this point. Laid out some pathways and delineated some areas, including the tree farm and the brewery area.

    As the song goes, life's been good to me so far. I have a wonderful, beautiful wife who loves me almost as much as I love her. I have a successful and wildly growing business. Those ancient fruits are going to be growing money on... well... on vines, actually. I'll have enough kegs to keep up with them, it's like they were made for brewing. As soon as one batch is done, the next is ripe and ready to go in. The preserves jars will go do whatever seasonal goes in the ol' farm plot outside and whatever fruit trees I have going for that particular season. Cows are going to take a bit longer, I honestly don't expect much in the way of financial returns on them, however I should see dividends being paid out in non-liquid means. Having cheese made on-site is a huge tourist thing for wineries. The kids can even go in and pet the cows if they like, petting zoo style. Penny is a capable assistant, smart enough to understand the books. She's taking a couple of accounting courses by correspondence and will be a full partner in the business.

    Found an odd egg out in the mountains. Gunther said it might well be viable. If it's as profitable as the LAST thing I dug up, that's got to be my next task, getting a coop with an incubator set up. I can only wait to see what hatches!

    I'll be sending care packages and gifts to the local residents, giving a little back to the community that backed me when the rest of the world tried to bend me over without lube.

    From here on, it'll probably be more of the same, so I'm going to cut my little journal here. Who knows, maybe someone will find it an interesting read.
     
      Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
    • Minimanta

      Minimanta Spaceman Spiff

      Ohh, a Joja route fanfic? Sounds interesting!

      Already read the short version, but I'll definitely be following the full on fanfic of it :)
       
      • Risukage

        Risukage Giant Laser Beams

        Well, this is another new take on the SDV universe. Interesting concept, good prose... Congrats, mate, you've got another reader. :)
         
        • CjBeats

          CjBeats Pangalactic Porcupine

          I read the short version, and I really enjoyed it and hoped that you would kinda make a story out of it. It's a nice little twist that not a lot of people do in SDV fanfics. Actually I don't know if anyone has. I'm very excited to see what you do, and I'm excited to see where this story goes.
           
          • ShneekeyTheLost

            ShneekeyTheLost Master Astronaut

            While at first, journals may seem to be daily, you will eventually see gaps as I get in a 'more of the same' groove where nothing of particular note happens, which become more frequent as I become more established.

            Spring 1st, year 1

            Was met at the bus stop by the Mayor of this little hamlet, and a lady by the name of Robin, who is apparently the town's handyman... er... handylady. Blatant plug is blatant, but hey, she's got a point. This shack hasn't been lived in for several years... and it really kinda shows. Fortunately, the TV is new, but Yoba alone knows how well the wiring in this place is. Fortunately, some tools have been left to me, or I'd have been well and truly up a creek. Some parsnip seeds as well. Showed me the shipping bin, ran by Joja Corp, to send my produce to whatever central processing plant needs it, I suppose.

            With sleeves rolled up, I broke out my pickaxe, axe, and scythe to clear away an area for immediate growing. Then with my trusty hoe, proceeded to till a couple of 4 x 4 squares, and part of a third. By Yoba, my back is already killing me and it isn't even noon yet. Head out to Pierre's and pick up more parsnip seeds. In for a penny, in for a pound. It's not like this five hundred is going to do me any good otherwise. While at the store, I meet Gus, the owner of the local bar, and Marnie, the local livestock expert. Seeds in tow, I return to my farm, and finish planting. Somehow. Oh man, my arms feel like rubber, and I've got blisters on my blisters. So, having accomplished that, I decide to head into town. Crossed paths with Demetrius, who said that his daughter was looking forward to meeting me. Which is... not something I would object to, but a rather surprising thing for a father to say to a young man who just came to town.

            Crossing a bridge, trying to find said daughter, I instead run into the daughter of Pierre, by the name of Abigail. A bit of a 'goth chick', and not particularly emotionally mature, she's still perfectly legal age, and hey... it's been a while since a gal my age was interested in talking to me. So we stopped for a bit of conversation. Sadly, it was a bit one-dimensional, and sounded like something a teen some five or ten years her junior might be complaining about. Her father is too overprotective, nobody understands her. Oh my goth, I'm so depeshe'd. Apparently her and a couple of guys are considering starting a band, with her as the singer. Reading between the lines, it's pretty clear she's kind of sort of got a thing for one of 'em, who apparently has a sideline online business.

            Found the correct daughter in the park outside of the pub. Maru, by name, who was apparently quite happy to see a new face. I'm fairly certain that, judging from her appearance, Demetrius is most certainly not her biological father. However, I suppose it would be... impolite... to mention that. I may be relatively clueless, but I'm not a jackass. Sitting with her was a quiet and shy woman about the same age by the name of Penny. Apparently the two are good friends. Maru, like her stepfather, is extremely interested in the sciences and higher education. Penny, apparently, is the tutor for the two children in town, Jas and Vincent. Both ladies are very nice looking, single, and of legal age. Well, so much for not being able to find someone to talk to out in the sticks. Now all I need to do is not trip over my own tongue or open mouth and insert foot. With my past track record... Yoba help me.

            Went to the bar. It was relatively quiet. The smith, Clint, was nursing a pint, and a crush on the barkeep's assistant, Emily. Emily seems to be into the new age stuff and fashion design. Well, she's still a nice looking lady. And, apparently, also single. Interesting. At the end of the bar was Penny's mother, Pam. Although it wasn't really all that late, it was clear that she'd had more than her share, and was at least two sheets to the wind with the third being hoisted rapidly. And suddenly, much about Penny's shy and retreating nature become apparent.

            There was also a fellow by the name of Shane. He apparently is the nephew of the livestock lady, and works at the local JoJa Store. And equally apparently hates his job with about as much a burning passion as I did. Yes, he's kind of a jerk. But that much, at least, I can entirely understand and empathize with. Leaving him to drown his sorrows, I head back home and hit the sack a bit early. After all, dawn comes even earlier 'round these parts. And I'm going to have a lot to do tomorrow.

            What have I gotten myself into?

            Spring 2nd, year 1

            You know the old saw about 'the cure for being sore is more of what made you sore'? I'd like to take that witty fellow out behind the woodshed for about ten or twenty minutes. Good lord. I've got aches in places I didn't even KNOW I had. However, crops don't water themselves, so either go out and water them or give up. It was about fifteen minutes I spent debating those two options before dragging myself out of bed, which wasn't a particularly comfortable one.

            Watered the crops, chopped down another tree that was in the way of my expansion, and made a storage bin for myself. Then I checked the mailbox, and discovered I already had mail! More specifically, the local fisherman, Willy, was wanting me to come on down to his port and learn the respectable art of fishing. Well, my whole body feels like I'd been shoved in a tumble-dryer with a bunch of rocks and spun for an hour or three, but why not? He shows me the ropes and gives me his old rod. I catch a few fish, then call it a day.

            On the way to Willy, I met the two youngest members of this little community, Jas and Vincent, while they were on their way to class. Neither seemed particularly thrilled by it, but neither were they trying to ditch, so there's that. Their reception was not very friendly, but that's probably actually a very good thing considering I'm a complete stranger who just moved into town.

            Did a bit of beachcombing and came up with a Cockle and a Mussel. Afraid that I might find Molly Malone next, I decided to depart. Curious about the tutoring, I headed off in the direction of the library/museum and met Gunther. He pissed and moaned about being a museum with no exhibits, and offered rewards if I would be so kind as to donate things. We'll see.

            Checked out the bar again. No new faces. Pam was holding up the bar, Clint was nursing a beer while not-very-covertly casting calf-eyes at Emily. She seemed to be the only one who didn't notice. I don't know if she's oblivious, or politely not noticing. Or maybe just too shy to show, I don't know. Never have claimed to be an expert on women, and I just showed up here. Shane was drowning his troubles in a bottle again. Well, everyone handles stress differently, I suppose. Not like I have any right to tell him what to do.

            On my way back, I met Holly. And all things considered, I'd just as soon have not. I mean, sure, she's got a figure that would get second and third glances just about anywhere, but good lord what a self-obsessed woman. The quintessential valley-girl wannabe. Fashion this, fashion that. She apparently has a thing for the local football player. Go figure, the preppy chick has the hots for the jock. Our conversation was mercifully brief, and I escaped on a polite note. Oh well, I suppose it would be too much to ask for to have all the single ladies both attractive and fun to be around. After all, there's still Abigail, who at least isn't so self-centered even if she could do with some growing up to match her age, Maru, when you can pry her away from her experiments, and Penny, if you can coax her out of her shell.

            On that unpleasant note, I decided it would be a good time to catch some rack time.
             
            • Gabaw

              Gabaw Scruffy Nerf-Herder

              You got on this pretty quick and I'm glad you did. This s**t's hilarious :rofl: This guy's a riot and I love every second :confirm: also +1 for "depeshe'd".
               
              • Risukage

                Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                Your cheeky snarkiness and apathetic cynicism make me smile. Ah, it's like my post-college years all over again. :)
                 
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                • ShneekeyTheLost

                  ShneekeyTheLost Master Astronaut

                  Spring 3rd, first year

                  Praise Yoba for the rain! Yanno, I used to be all pissed and miserable when it rained. Now, I just walked out into my field, looked up, and let the rain pour down my body. There was something cathartic about it. Plus it meant that I didn't need to spend the next hour watering crops. There was an primal feeling of... freedom, I suppose. I started spontaneously laughing for the first time in who knows how long. Or maybe I was just light-headed and tripping on exhaustion. Either way. So, to celebrate, I broke out my fishing rod. Cleared out a path going south to the river, and started fishing. Caught a few Chub. They're apparently quite common in these waters, and don't put up much of a fight. Also caught a couple of Shad. They're apparently less common, possibly only showing when it rains. Next cast, something darn near tore the pole clean out of my hands, then nearly pulled me in! I fought that fish for at least a half an hour before it spit out the hook and took off. Shrugging, I dropped the line back in, and damn if it wasn't that same damn fish! FINALLY pulled it in to see the biggest damn catfish I'd ever seen. Then I heard clapping from behind me, and I turned to find that I had an audience. Leah, the owner of the cottage I was fishing in front of, had stepped out and saw my battle with the catfish. And with that, a conversation was struck. She is an artist who works in various mediums. She had moved out here to follow her dream. Gee, that's something I sure can relate to. Also apparently fleeing a rather bad relationship with some micro-managing jerk. Hey, if it got me in close quarters with a very attractive woman, in the rain no less, I'd be willing to malign the honor of any poor shmuck who wasn't around at the time, so jerk he must be. She invited me to walk with her to the pub and share a salad. Unfortunately, I had to politely decline. Right now, I barely had two cents to rub together, much less enough money for a salad. Rather regretfully taking my leave, I went back and started filling out my farming area, clearing out four 4x4 squares with a line of regular dirt between them before going to bed. All that fish brought in nearly a thousand! Maybe tomorrow I'll buy her a salad and we can continue our conversation where it left off.

                  Spring 4th, first year

                  The TV show said that wild onions were in season and could be found across the river. So, after watering my crops, I hiked on over... and not a single blessed one to be found! I even checked down by the sewer grate, and nothing! Well, that's what you get for believing what you see on TV, I guess. However, I did see some wormy patches in the dirt, and ended up pulling up a chewing stick, then over at the beach while searching for shellfish, a fossilized palm leaf. Gunther paid out 250 for the donation, which was more than I'd have gotten for selling the fool things, so score! Maybe I ought to do some more donations and see what I can get from him next. Back to the farmstead, I continued clearing out some trees and rocks. I mostly left oak trees alone, and focused on bringing down pine and maple trees. I had an idea that oak resin would be really useful to me in the future. I just needed to figure out how to tap it properly. One of the rocks had a geode in it. Maybe I'll talk to the smith about that tomorrow.

                  Yanno, this life isn't too bad. I've got several attractive ladies my age who are willing to chat with me and not give me those pained looks (except Haley, but the feeling's mutual), the community as a whole is willing to accept me as a decent person pretty much sight unseen, and I've got a lot of growth potential here. Sure, the work is hard, I think I've still got blisters the size of flapjacks, and so far the only direction the money has been going is right into the ground, but it's MY money from MY business. Never been a part of a community before, in the big city. It's... nice. I need to figure out what to do for people to pay them back. Maybe I can help pay for some repairs around town once I get established. We'll see.

                  Spring 5th, first year

                  Marnie showed up on my doorstep with a stray dog and wanted to know if I wanted to adopt him. Sure, why not? After all, it's just me on the farm. It'll be fun. And maybe he'll chase off the squirrels. She asked, point blank, whatcha gonna call him? So, on the spot, I blurted out the first thing that came to mind: Buddy. Okay, so it's not very imaginative, but it's the best I could come up with on a two second notice. He seems to like it, though, so that's all good.

                  Got a letter from Willy informing me that he's got a new rod that can have actual bait attached. Sounds interesting, but right now, I've got bigger fish to fry. Maybe later when I've got the spare cash. The next letter was from JoJaCorp. That caused a pause for a moment. I still owe on the franchising license, after all. Surely they don't want me paying it back already, do they? But no, it's just to inform everyone that the path to the mines has been cleared. Well, as much fun as spelunking without a light sounds, I've got better things to do. My turnips are fully grown! Well, most of them. Looks like the crows already got to a couple. Damn bloody pests. Wonder if I can get a shotgun from anyone around here.

                  Harvesting was a painstaking process, but with turnips in hand, I went to go sell my produce and get the next batch. This time, I went for potatoes. They're a solidly reliable cash crop. Maybe not the best bang for your buck, but not bad. I ended up with enough to cover all four of my 4x4 plots with 'taters. Lots of things you can do with 'em... boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew...

                  While heading in, I saw a posting from Clint, who was my next stop, requesting green algae. Well, I drop my line in the nearby river, pick up some algae, and head off to Clint's with geode and algae in tow. There was some not-very-valuable gem inside, so I donated it to the museum.

                  On my way back, I saw this person in a cart being hauled by a pig. And he was selling the single most expensive salmonberry I had ever seen, at 500g. Ummm... I'll pass. He was also selling a 'rare seed'. Not sure if serious or trolling. Either way, I can't afford it now since i just sunk my entire profit into another crop, so I head back to the shack and catch some sleep.
                   
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                  • Alkanthe

                    Alkanthe Supernova

                    I love the story so far! It's certainly a different tone than most fics I see around here. The main character is a snarky trashcan, but in the best way. He's right... but I wanna smack him.
                     
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                    • ShneekeyTheLost

                      ShneekeyTheLost Master Astronaut

                      Spring 6th, year 1

                      So, after reading a few of those agricultural engineering manuals, I was able to cobble together a scarecrow capable of keeping those dang birds off of my lawn... er... crops. There's a conveniently located place in the middle of the four plots to put it so that it covers the whole area. Not a shotgun, but it is at least effective.

                      Spent some time chopping down trees. Man, that's some exhausting work, but it needs to get done. I'm going to need a lot of wood and sap going forward, and this is going to give it to me. Also, these trees are in the way. Maybe I can set up a tree farm somewhere else on this plot of overgrown land. Found another geode while breaking rocks (and my back). Turns out it had some copper ore inside. Not too shabby, and a reminder that I can upgrade my tools. I'm going to eventually want to upgrade them all, but the watering can is probably going to come first, with the hoe and pickaxe not too far behind. But that's gonna take a lot of copper. So put that on the back-burner for now. I bet that mine has some ore, but right now, I'm plum tuckered out.

                      Spring 7th, year 1

                      New episode of that cooking show. Learned how to make Stir Fry. Nice. it would be even better if I actually had a kitchen to cook in. I suppose one of these days I'm going to have to talk to Robin about that. Went into town after watering my crops, and ran into the mayor over by the community center. He called it an eyesore, I can only agree. Heck, I thought the shack I was living in was run-down, but this takes the cake. He also mentioned that if anyone else got a Joja Membership, that he'd just go ahead and sell it off. Honestly? I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. I mean, come on. This place? It is falling apart. Worse, it's rat infested. And like the guy says... it's not like anyone ever uses it anymore. Maybe selling this place off would be the best thing that could ever happen to the town. On the one hand, monetary boost to the town. On the other hand... no more rat infested building. I'm seeing a win/win here.

                      After that happened, I continued up north. Ran into an old fellow by the name of Linus. Umm... right. So, there's hobos even in small towns like this? Poor guy. But hey, if that's how he wants to live, I'm not going to judge him for his lifestyle. Well, more than I already have, I guess.

                      Found an old geezer in the mines. Gave me a sword and said that if I prove myself, he'll 'consider' letting me join his secret clubhouse or whatever. Geez, is there a sign that says 'no girls allowed' or something? What is this, third grade?

                      Slimes are like dwarves: short, caustic, and very dangerous over short distances, but not too intelligent. Dealing with them was not a problem. Found a Topaz and an Amethyst. While valuable, I will probably donate them as well. Also found plenty of copper ore. Hit level 5 and found an elevator. Apparently, the elevator can't go down until you manually reach a level to 'call' it. Odd.

                      Quite a profitable run for my first time in the mines. Decided to call it a night, though.
                       
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                      • Gabaw

                        Gabaw Scruffy Nerf-Herder

                        Gotta admit it's a convincing enterprise :rofl: So long as excessive compassion is kept to a minimum :p
                         
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                        • ShneekeyTheLost

                          ShneekeyTheLost Master Astronaut

                          First week review

                          Well, let's see. I don't have two cents to rub together, I've got debt coming out of my eyeballs, I feel like someone tossed me in a dryer with a bunch of rocks and set it to tumble for an hour or four, then went at me with a red-hot poker. I've done more physical labor in one week than I probably have done in total in my preceding life. And I don't have a damn thing to show for it but a slightly less trashed postage stamp sized plot of chewed up dirt with some plants stuck in it. I'd give up, but I'm too damn stubborn to quit now. When determination, drive, hope, and vision fail to motivate, at least I can count on being able to push through on sheer, mean, cussed, stubbornness.

                          Spring 8th, year 1

                          Praise Yoba for the Rain! No, seriously, this means I don't have to spend most of my time and energy watering crops, so I can really hit the mines. Too bad I don't have the cash or resources to get my watering can upgraded. Oh well. Clint stopped by this morning to give me blueprints for a forge. It's gonna take up most of my copper ore to make, but it will be an investment which will pay significant dividends. Besides, I can always get more. And now I can make copper ingots with which to supply Clint for upgrading tools with. Building the tools to make the tools to get things done. Ugh. Well, I suppose it's a start. Once again, I find myself with things I need to spend cash on, and no cash on hand to spend. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Good grief.

                          Got a letter from the 'wizard' wanting to talk to me about the 'rat' I saw in the community center yesterday. I swear, if he calls me Harry and tries to tell me that I'm a wizard, I'm gonna clean his clock. Eh, might as well see what the old fraud wants. It should be good for a laugh, at least.

                          First, he tried to impress me with a 'conjured' rat. False floor, little bit of glow-in-the-dark dye or just sprinkled on with a darklight concealed in the rafters, most likely. After all, it's his place, no telling what he's got rigged. Then he does his 'disappearing' act, which again, is probably a trapdoor in the floor with a crawlspace to outside. He walks back in the door, which confirms my suspicion, and proceeds to 'explain' what he probably planted in the run down building in the first place to 'prove' his mystical... mysticalness. Or whatever. Then he wants me to drink that foul concoction he 'coincidentally' had on the boil in his cauldron so I could 'read the messages from the spirits'. Uh huh. Coincidence. Sure.

                          I'm not sure what was in that thing, other than dirty gym socks and tree fungus. Maybe some peyote too, come to think of it. Hell, anyone would be reading 'spirit writing' after taking a swig of that. Right next to the pink elephants and good old King George. No way in hell am I ever going to let him convince me to eat or drink ANYTHING he's had any part of. Damn hippie freak.

                          Went back to town and had Clint crack open those geodes I found yesterday. A few minerals, nothing valuable. Went to the Museum to donate them. Penny was sitting outside, alone, watching the rain, with an almost peaceful expression on her face. I wonder if it was the same expression I had on my face last time it rained... nah, can't be. Completely absurd. Rather than disturbing her peace, I went in and donated the bits of stone. Gunther was excited about it. Bla, bla bla this, such and so that. Must've been a professor somewhere before he ran this place. He gave me some cauliflower seeds. Since it was early enough in the season, this was worth way more to me since I could put them in the ground immediately and be able to harvest them before the end of the season. Score!

                          Came back out, there was Penny again. Then she turned her head and looked at me, and smiled. Something did a belly-flop in my stomach. Personally, I'm blaming it on that foul concoction, and hoped I wouldn't heave it up all over her shoes. That would be... less than suave. Then there was that awkward silence that drags on too long but for some reason pins you in place. You know the one. Finally, I cleared my throat.

                          "Umm... hi there." I murmured.

                          "Oh. Hi." was her quiet response.

                          "I... umm... don't wanna bug you while you're getting some time to yourself. Uh... see ya around?"

                          "Oh, um... okay." She spoke in such a soft voice, almost like she was afraid I was going to hit her. The only one it made me want to hit was her mother. I swear, if that redneck drunk is physically abusive, she's gonna find out what it's like in return, so help me Yoba! Of course, that's not precisely the sort of thing one spouts off in such company, so I remained silent, and fled the scene in ignominy. Some days, it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.

                          Went back to the farmstead. Too late to go caving, so started working out my anger and frustration on some trees. It wasn't until I got out this journal that the question of why I was so pissed hit me. Eh, no one deserves to be bullied. Been on the receiving end of it too much. Too tired to think, maybe I'll sleep on it.
                           
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                          • Risukage

                            Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                            Cor, you write faster than I do. Good, 'cause I wanna see more of this. :3
                             
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                            • ShneekeyTheLost

                              ShneekeyTheLost Master Astronaut

                              Aw, thanks! :)

                              Also, cleaned up the OP. I figure I'll keep sliding chapters in the OP when I post them so none of the chapters gets lost in the commentary.

                              Yea, he's a jerk. But he's a jerk that does actually have a heart down in there. Buried REAL deep. Wonder if it'll grow three sizes some day. Bah, humbug. Stuff and nonsense, I say!

                              I can definitively state he will NEVER lose his snark and his dry, sarcastic wit, no matter what happens.
                               
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                              • LilyGVenema

                                LilyGVenema Void-Bound Voyager

                              • ShneekeyTheLost

                                ShneekeyTheLost Master Astronaut

                                Spring 9th, year 1

                                Scarecrow seems to be working to deter those feathered felons. Robin sent a letter apologizing for her blunt, if honest, comments concerning the house. Of course, it was immediately followed by an advertisement for her services, which includes installing a kitchen. She's got a point that this place is pretty run down, but I have more immediate costs to deal with. A few of those wild seeds I planted were parsnips, because they just came up. Put some more parsnip seeds in their place. Spent the rest of the day clearing out more space. Chopping down trees, breaking rocks, mowing the lawn. Not much, though, not used to this kind of work, so it really wears me out soon.

                                Spent the evening with my books, studying. I need to figure out how to make tappers, maybe preserves jars and brewing kegs too. I've been doing some research with the materials that JojaCorp provides their franchisees, and the price points on processed goods are way better than raw produce. Kegs will need a lot of oak resin, so I'll try to not cut many of those down as I clear the area. Also going to need a lot of clay. Finding clay is also a back-breaking process, so yea. Should be worth it in the long run, though.

                                Spring 10th, year 1

                                Cooking show was a rerun. Bummer. Watered crops, cleared out more trees and rocks. Got a more clear pack heading south to the forest. There's only so much hacking away I can do, though. An active lifestyle I have not led. Leaves me more time for planning. I need to have a game plan, or I'm never going to hit my goals. So, for spring, cutting down trees, hitting the mines, and planting as many potatoes as I can without passing out. By summer, make it blueberries, and if I can get some preserves jars, it will really help. Also wanting tappers down sooner rather than later, but that's going to require a lot of copper, which I still need to use to upgrade my tools with. Jeez... if I wanted to spend my life constantly short on critical resources, I could've stayed back in the city. Oh well, nothing for it now.

                                Spring 11th, year 1

                                Robin sent another unsolicited advertisement in the mail for wells. Not relevant to my interests, between the small pond and the larger one, my water needs are pretty much set. The next letter is ALSO from Robin, this time asking me to go find her axe. Ugh. Potatoes came in. Got another bundle of seeds to replace them, but didn't really expand much. It's as tiring as it is already, I don't need to push myself any harder than I have to. Which kind of sucks, but I need to pace myself. There's some kind of 'egg festival' later this week, maybe there's going to be something to spend cash on there.

                                It's a good feeling. I've got money in my pocket that isn't immediately being spent. Less than two weeks, and I see a profit, cash in hand. Granted, I've got tons of expenses coming up, but... it's a tangible reminder of why I am doing what I am doing. Showing up in town with practically the clothes on my back, and in less than two weeks, I've got at least something to show for it. Not too shabby.

                                Went looking for onions again. Didn't find any, but did find that axe. Returned it to Robin for a decent finder's fee.

                                Tried doing some more caving, but had to turn back before I got much of anywhere. The farce on TV would've probably said 'the spirits are displeased'. Psssh, right. Like spirits have anything to do with luck.

                                Spring 12th, year 1

                                So, got a message from JoJaCorp Franchise team. Apparently, there's been a shortage of raw goods, so they are increasing the prices they pay by 10%. Nice. Also a notice that tomorrow is the festival. It'll be nice, I guess. I've been kind of a shut-in lately on the farm, working myself to the bone. I need to remind myself, there's attractive single woman available to talk to who are actually interested in talking to me. Except Haley, but screw her.

                                Abigail is cute, but hasn't really grown up. She keeps acting like a high school kid. Not bad, I guess, if you want a waifu, or a quick piece. But in this town? Yea, there's no way to dump someone and get out of the scene, because the whole community is almost insanely closely-tied. Besides, I still have to buy my seeds from her father. Besides, there's some kinds of stupid I don't need to be.

                                Leah is also easy on the eyes, and quite a bit more mature and responsible. She's at least got her own cabin to herself, so should anything develop, we'd at least have a modicum of privacy. Quintessential starving artist, she's always foraging the forest for edibles. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. After all, once I'm wealthy, that's going to be a point in my favor that Elliot can't match. Unlike the romantic poet, I plan on having running water and central heating and air in my home, plus enough cash to casually take a flight out to Paris for dinner, should the mood strike. Money might not be everything, but it sure as hell beats not having any.

                                Maru is perhaps the least beautiful of the lot, although that's not saying much considering even she is quite striking. Probably the most intelligent of the ladies available, but practically married to her inventions. I'd have to dress up like a test tube to be able to catch her attention. Besides, she seems to have a thing for the local doctor. To the point of playing 'nurse' for him, despite not actually having an LPN license. Granted, if there was anyone in town other than the doc to treat an injury, it would probably be her, but still.

                                Penny... is okay. I guess. Maybe.

                                That cart vendor was back. Good lord, he's got a unique perspective on the cost of things. Had another 'rare seed' for sale. While I can afford it, I will hold off for now. After all, I have other things to spend money on than what probably will end up being weeds or something.
                                 
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                                • Risukage

                                  Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                                  Haha, nobody meets his stringent criteria? Ah well, other fish in the Gem Sea, at least when 1.1 comes out. :p

                                  ...Okay, just ONE more fish...
                                   
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                                  • Alkanthe

                                    Alkanthe Supernova

                                    ...for him, that is. And for me, I guess.
                                     
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                                    • ShneekeyTheLost

                                      ShneekeyTheLost Master Astronaut

                                      Oh sure, because he's really going to admit, even to himself, that he's interested in someone? Keep reading, he'll eventually get hit with a clue-by-four. Eventually.

                                      Oh wait, you have read everything so far. Whelp, I guess that means I need to do more writing. *cracks knuckles*
                                       
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                                      • Risukage

                                        Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                                        <caddyshack>Well? We're waiting...</caddyshack>

                                        :p
                                         
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