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warning: this project contains mentions, implications or depictions of: corporate and religious forms of manipulation and abuse. it has been placed in the 18+ forums to reflect the heavier subject matter. the content warnings may be subject to change, as the writing of this story is on-going.

Chapter One
So the Gauntlet had been shut down early. Some sort of legal suit, they didn’t know the details and they didn’t care to. Now what was Finnley to do? They had pinned their future on the perilous reality show; they were going to win their stardom or die trying. These were the only two possible outcomes they’d had in their mind for the past couple of months and now they were utterly adrift. 
It’s not fair, they thought, kicking a pebble out of the path of their suitcase’s wheels as they made their way down the sub-sidewalk lane for TCPs and away from Toon Hell studios. 
This was supposed to be my big break! People would finally start taking me seriously… I can’t go back home like this, they’ll all laugh at me. ‘The TCP who wants to be a movie star.’ Yeah, real funny guys! Their face scrunched up as if they were going to cry, as if they were capable of tears. I could’ve done it too! We got through our first challenge just fine, I’m sure I would’ve made it all the way to the end, and then- Then I would’ve been able to work with Dropdead! I’m just as capable as everyone else… It’s not fair. This refrain repeated over and over in their head as they continued their journey away from the metaphorical flaming ruins of their hopes and dreams.
Their brooding was interrupted by a tall, dark stranger. Literally so; they were a complex and the way they stood over Finnley left them silhouetted by the sun, making it hard for Finnley to perceive them as anything other than a vaguely karacel-shaped shadow. 
"Um, can I help you?" Finnley asked.

The karacel's mouth curled upwards into a smile. “Why yes, actually! You are Finnley, correct?” Finnley, slightly cowed, took a step back. They doubted they could get away if the stranger’s intent was actually bad, but that didn’t mean they wouldn’t try. 
“U-um, yes, that’s me.”
“Ah, good! Listen, I saw you on the Gauntlet and your talent stood out to me. I’m with PRN in Solitude...” the stranger began to introduce himself, listing a whole bunch of credentials which was all well and good, but it made it awfully hard for Finnley to catch his name. Still, he must have said it at some point, right? The stranger continued. “I want you to come work for us, if you’d be so willing. You’d have to come to Solitude for filming, but all your expenses would be fully paid.”
"What- what would you have me do?" Finnley tried to keep the excitement from their voice but it still shook, hard. It felt too good to be true.
"You would have your own short segment on a TV network in Solitude," the stranger replied. "Our network is very reputable." Finnley's head whirled. Their own segment? That was only a hop, skip, and a jump from having their own show. Their inevitable fame was right around the corner.
“Y-yes! Yes, thank you!” They weren’t sure what else to say. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity.” Was that alright? Come on, gotta make a good impression!
The stranger gave them a smile full of practiced warmth. "We're happy to have you on board." 
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Chapter Two

The TCP car was a normally sized train car, filled with miniature TCP-scale seats, luggage racks, and even dining tables stacked with TCP food. Since Finnley was on the small side, even for a TCP, they had to half slide half crawl into their seat. Once they were in it though, they found it quite comfortable with cool faux leather and plush cushioning underneath.

They looked out the window at the glittering neon cities for a bit, until they turned slowly but surely into drab swamp views. Then they turned on the TV screen embedded in the seat in front of them. The current channel showed a well-groomed Selected in a sparsely decorated but comfortable looking room. Finnley's eyespots were drawn to the shiny metal cuff-like bracelets that they wore around their wrists. The Selected was talking about what newcomers to Solitude should expect. Their speech started something like this:

"Welcome to Solitude, the greatest zone in Taverne. Whether you are fleeing the chaos of your previous zone or seeking a better life than what you had before, Solitude is the best place you can come to. Solitude has been rated the number one safest zone-"

Finnley began to tune them out, wondering if the TV screens had any less boring stations on them. As they leaned forward to see if there was any way to change the channel, they noticed a PRN logo in the lower right corner of the screen. It might not be... the most promising sign but Finnley was sure not all their shows were like this. After all, they had been recruited after the network had seen them on the Gauntlet! Surely they had seen their overwhelming star power and desire to entertain and understood that they were just what they needed to liven their network up.

Seven hours of game shows, talk shows, and reality TV later, the train pulled into the station with a whistle and a hiss of steam. Finnley stood up and stretched twice. They grabbed their luggage and went to the head of the car to meet up with their new manager, who'd introduced himself as Artisan, so they could disembark.

He waved at them as they approached. "Ready to go, champ?" he asked, beckoning them to follow. As they walked, he began to run over what to expect when they reached their destination. They would be staying in Pristine Recording Network's on-site housing, "for your convenience and ours." There they would get to know their director, set staff, and fellow show hosts. And in no time at all, they'd be on the airwaves and on their way to super stardom.

By that point, Artisan and Finnley had reached their cab. The seatbelt was obviously too big for Finnley, so Artisan just told the driver to drive extra carefully. Apparently the studios weren't very far from the station because just minutes later they pulled to a stop outside a large, blocky white building with imposing stairs leading to darkened double doors. They were here.
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