This thread is permanently archived
(Setting) The Lock and Barrel

| >In a tucked away corner of old city from which the rest of GCity grew and consumed, there is an old bar. It's decorated with non-functional firearms of various eras. The dance floor lacks the holographic magic of it more modern competitors. The bar is a scuffed and scratched oak; oak-colored patches of WoodMend(tm) concealing old bullet holes. Despite the age and its obscurity, the bar is still populated. It's drinks and food still being ordered by those who dwell in the shadows; even after all these years. Though the place has seen some action care of more modern woes of the city, the bar continues and its patrons persist.

| >Two figures approach the entrance of the bar, one slightly ahead of the other. The first marches angrily through the doorway, not bothering to hold the door for the second-- who hobbles in clumsily after the first, managing to catch one of their feet in the door.
"Ow!! Damnit, could you just slow down for one second?!"
>The first stops and turns on their heel, nearly causing a collision involving the two of them.
"I didn't say you >>>had to come with me!"

| >>549555
>A young man in a blue trenchcoat who was drinking a Sugar Rush looks at them with the commotion, and then turns back to his drink, seemingly uninterested.

| >>549555
>The pair of new patrons consist of a tall, thin man wearing an exoskeleton from the waist down and a walking boot placed very haphazardly on his left foot,
and a shorter, rather androgynous looking woman. The woman raises herself onto her toes a bit to get up in her partner's face; she lowers her voice and speaks to him through gritted teeth to try and keep her tone level:
"Next time try not to break a foot if you're going to have to come running after me for something."

| (don't know why part of that ended up as white text-- my bad!)

| >>549557
>The seated man sighs, standing up and now showing his tall, if slightly chubby frame, a deck on his deck. He takes his drink and disappears into one of the private rooms in the back. In fact the one all the way on the left.

| >The sudden departure of the patron in the trench catches the eye of the man in the exoskeleton, and as he watches the decker make his way towards the back of the bar, he places his hands on the woman's shoulders in an attempt to settle her down.
"Hey. I think that's..."
>The woman jumps a bit as her partner does this, and it's just enough to shift her attention from him to the man drifting out of the room with his Sugar Rush in hand.

| >>549565
>The pair begin to wander over to the room the man disappeared into; both stop in front of the door and exchange glances before the woman gives it a quick rap with her knuckles.


>Neither of them have any idea what to say. The man in the exoskeleton looks around at the bar interior as they wait briefly for a response, and smiles despite the tension in the air between them.

"I like this aesthetic."

"Walker, shut up."

| >>549567
>The door opens slightly
"Close it on the way in."
>The man says

| >>549569
>The two trade apprehensive looks again before the woman opens the door further, motioning for her partner to go ahead of her.

"After you."

>"Walker" frowns slightly and raises an eyebrow at her, but proceeds nonetheless. The woman follows closely behind, and as instructed closes the door behind them. She sighs nervously before turning around, unsure of the sight that will greet her.
>Bullet holes in the counter, huh... That's not an aesthetic; he's just a moron.

| >>549571
>The decker greets the two of you from the rounded booth, tapping away in his deck as you enter.
"These booths are good for these kind of meetings, no communication can get in or out so it's as private as it gets, though I've always suspected the owners here can always here since they're in the info business. Anyways, why not have a seat and introduce yourselves."

| >>549574
>The decker's new guests take their seats, and in doing so it's noted that the woman is making sure that "Walker" is sitting closest to the door. Both of them look across the table at their host. The man starts to speak first,

"Nice to meet you, I'm R--"

>and is promptly interrupted by the woman. She jerks a thumb towards her partner, then points to herself.

"Dr. Walker; Aikawa. I assume you're CN."

>"Walker" appears mildly irritated with Aikawa, but doesn't stop her.

| >>549582
"Yup, in the flesh. Clearly you want to skip past the semantics so let's get down to it then shall we?"
>He takes his Sugar Rush and gulps down the rest of the glass
"Okay, I guess first thing first is to get your account of things and then see how it matches with the footage I uh 'procured'."

| >>549585
>Aikawa nods in agreement, then folds her arms across her chest.


>She leans back into the booth seat and closes her eyes, trying to dredge up as many memories as possible to form a (hopefully) coherent account of what happened. "Walker" takes advantage of her momentary pause, and leans forward to shake CN's hand.

"I'm >>>Roy. Ei's not one for pleasantries; I apologize."

>He gives a rather embarrassed grin.

| >>549654
>He shakes his hand
"Nice to meet you, it's fine though, don't worry. Though I hope you two can at least stay civil with each other, it's going to be trickier to figure things out with both of you at each other throats."

| >>549659
>Aikawa cracks open her left eye to glare at Roy, who thinks over his wording carefully before answering CN.

"I can't speak for us both, but I can guarantee I'll make a concerted effort to cooperate with you and her."

>The eye returns to being closed, and Aikawa snorts derisively at Roy's very polite response.

"You guys done getting acquainted? Think I've put together enough to start going over this."

>Roy sighs quietly. Would it kill her to sound a little grateful?

| >>549661
>He looks over to Aikawa
"Alright, what happened that day, from the start."

| >>549664
>Aikawa opens her eyes and crosses one of her legs over her lap, thinking.
"Okay, so... I came into the bar not doing so great... Had some water, felt a little better for a bit... got a drink, which came with a headache... then, Walker started blowing up my phone."
>Roy flinches, and his frown deepens. This is where the road divides.
"He kept texting me; I told him I was busy and couldn't talk. He insisted, so we started a comm. Until then, my cyberbrain was "on silent."

| >>549679
"Mmm... can I see the texts? And on silent?"

| >>549682
"Technical term is 'autistic mode'. Nothing comes in, nothing gets out. Zero contact with external networks."

>Aikawa somewhat reluctantly surrenders her phone. There have been no other texts between her and Roy since that evening. Roy, interestingly, is listed as "weird beatles fanatic" in her phone.

"Do you need mine for comparison?"

>Roy starts to withdraw his phone from his pocket.

| >>549692
"Sure. Sorry go on."
>He seemingly continues to listen to her story as he examines both of your phones.

| >>549694
>Roy places his phone on the table next to Aikawa's. Apparently neither of them have the other's real name in their phones-- in place of Aikawa's name appears the nickname "Polythene Pam." The conversations match. Aikawa continues to tell her tale.

"He didn't open with the news about the break-in. Actually, don't really remember what he said first. I was trying to carry on a conversation with a friend at the bar while we were talking over commlink."

| >Aikawa closes her eyes and rubs the bridge of her nose, trying hard to remember exactly what came next.

"Headache got worse; I was fed up and was gonna disconnect when he said he just got home and found the door unlocked, one of the windows broken... I panicked. He said it might be someone I knew, since they went through my stuff almost exclusively... didn't think to ask why he suggested that."

>She tucks her chin into her chest and grimaces, doubting the quality of her recall.

| >>549708
"Who was the friend? What do they look like too?"
"Did Roy mention anything in particular that was misplaced or stolen?"

| >>549718
"Her name is Oenone. She's a lilim. Has bright white plating, a number on the back of her neck--"

>Aikawa points to the back of her own, where instead of numbers there are dataports.

"-- she's... n-now kind of... big in the chest--"

>Aikawa starts to turn red as she describes Oenone's most recent upgrade.

"-- and she likes to change her hair color a lot. Like, right in front of you."

>She hopes that's specific enough.

| >>549737
"That should be fine, I've talked to them before on the board. So what happened next?"
>CN making notes on his deck, trying to compile the info best he can.

| >>549718
>Roy looks uncomfortable and like he wants to interject, but stays silent as Aikawa thinks aloud at what "he" said to her.

"... I have an electric bass and a small drum kit. I think he said the case was open and one of the toms looked like someone had stuck their fist through it."

>She pales visibly and takes a deep breath, closing her eyes again. Recounting this part of the night is unpleasant.

| >>549742 >>549740
"Oh, and that someone took the top cymbal off the hi-hat. That's right."

>She nods, apparently satisfied with her summary of what "Roy" said to her.

"Mind went kind of blank at that point, he said some things I didn't hear, I disconnected. My headache got real bad... I decided to look for a terminal I could jack into to check for any sort of security info."

| >>549746
"Emily pointed me towards one in the back and... I dove. It didn't pan out. Someone changed my key and the terminal was so ancient that there was no way for me to give some kind of second auth."

>She bites her lip, frustrated. This is the part of the story that makes her feel sick. Her hand closes tightly around the hem of her jacket, and she looks down at the table in front of her.

"Things get really hazy here."

| >>549752
>CN gently puts a hand on her shoulder
"We can take a second for you to catch your breath. Want me to get you water or something?"

| >>549752
>Roy also notices Aikawa getting progressively more tense and turns toward her, concerned.

"Yeah, Ei... do you need a minute...?"

>He can't help but feel responsible for her current state. Perhaps because he is, in part. Aikawa shakes her head emphatically, choosing to keep the ball rolling.

"N-no, I just want to get this over with. Just... I'm not sure how clear the rest of this will be."

| >>549754
"It doesn't matter. Any tiny detail could end up being a key clue. So just say what you can manage to remember."

| >>549758
>Aikawa swallows hard and nods, steeling herself before pressing forward. The hand that's clenched around the fabric of her jacket trembles.

"I-I was crying..."

>Roy's brow furrows. It takes a lot for Aikawa to admit she freaked so hard about something that she burst into tears.

"Thought my nose was running like a faucet, but... it was bleeding. It was bleeding, but... there was no blood."

| >>549761
"Mmm... is that all you remember?"

| >>549763
>She shakes her head again, her face flushing.

"No, no, there's more... Oenone was the one who told me it was bleeding. I just couldn't tell it was blood. I could see my hands were wet, but... not bloody. But if I looked out of the corner of my eye or at it just for a second, I could see it? It was... like it was trying to catch up and turn clear. I don't know if I'm making sense."

| >>549767
"No I follow you. To you, it looked clear except in your peripherals. Like water instead red like blood."

| >>549768
>She nods, and looks relieved that she and CN are on the same page about her explanation.

"Right. Oenone and some other guy at the bar were trying to figure out what the issue was... my headache got so bad that my vision started to go blurry. I was breathing real hard and my chest hurt. Like my heart was slamming around inside it."

>Roy gasps as it dawns on him why Aikawa knocked back two doses of nitro that evening.

"Hypertensive crisis?! You could have stroked out!!"

| >>549772
>Aikawa is startled as Roy loudly interjects-- her surprise quickly turns to anger once she processes what he said.

"That's why I used the damned nitro!! Will you fucking let this go already?! I knew what I was doing!!"

>Roy finds himself getting close to losing his temper with his roommate. Every time she does something stupid, he has to be the one to dig her out of it.

"Apparently not! People who know what they're doing don't end up nearly >>>dead!!"

| >>549775
>CN loudly clears his throat
"That's enough. You can both have your lovers quarrel later. For now, we should focus on the task at hand. We are all here to help out sort the sequence of events, not judge them."

| >>549780
>Both Roy and Aikawa immediately fall silent as CN rightfully commands them to cut the shit. Aikawa looks absolutely mortified; Roy seems as if he's trying to suppress the beginnings of a grimace.

"W-we're not lov--!!"

>Roy holds up a hand, prompting Aikawa to shut up. He sighs, exasperated.

"We get that a lot. It bothers her more than it does me. He's teasing, Ei. Keep going."

>Aikawa manages to re-center herself enough to continue her story.

| "I felt like my heart or my head would explode, so... I did the first thing I could think of that might get my pressure down since I thought it was way, way up. I asked for nitroglycerin. I got it."

>She shoots Roy a dirty look.

"I wanted it down fast, so... I did something a little stupid and took 2 at once. I remember feeling better for all of 10 seconds, and then... blacking out. Blacking out and waking up in a hospital bed."

| >>549791
"And from there your memory is back to normal?"

| >>549794

| >>549794
>Roy decides to contribute to the conversation with what he thinks may be a helpful piece of information.

"When I first visited her, she had some device plugged into her ports that was supposed to isolate her from any other networks, I think? It didn't belong to the hospital."

| >>549810
"Did either of you asked if it was there when it was admitted? Where is it now?"

| >>549819
>Aikawa shakes her head without hesitation while Roy drums his fingers on the table, mulling something over. He turns to look at Ei for a moment, shrugs, and starts to pull something out of his breast pocket. Aikawa is puzzled by this and sits up in order to get a good look at whatever it is Roy has with him.

"I don't know if it's still there now, and I didn't ask, but... luckily there are people more detail oriented than me writing our admission notes."

| >Roy lays a few pieces of paper in front of CN.

"We make note of whatever belongings a person has on them when they show up. I think it's on here."

>The papers in question are Aikawa's admission report. She realizes this after a few seconds and attempts to snatch them from their place in front of the decker.

"This isn't yours to release!!"

>Roy throws his arm out in front of Ei to prevent her from doing so.

"You said you'd do whatever his help entails, Ei. He needs info."

| >>549823
>CN lets Aikawa snatch the papers away from them
"Look I don't care about your 3 sizes or whatever, but I'm not going to force you to give me the papers... besides I can always just hack the hospital later to get them anyways."

| >>549824
>Roy and Aikawa look up at CN in shock, apparently having forgotten who exactly it is they're dealing with and where his moral compass lies. Aikawa groans, and puts the papers back down. Her shoulders sag as she admits defeat.

"Look, I have nothing to hide. It's just the principle."

>Roy points to the documents on the table, hoping to appease her a bit. This is like pulling teeth.

"It's just the A&P and belongings list. Nothing else is there, I promise."

| >>549830
"Jeez you dont have to look at me like that... it's not like I constantly hack hospital records for fun or something."
>He picks up the paper
"Now let's set what our mystery device is..."

| >>549831
>The box is listed under the belongings section as follows:

>"Unmarked piece of equipment with attached sim jack. Presumably operated by large red switch on top. Per EMT report, provided by bartender at The Midnight Drifter bar, who had connected it to the patient prior to EMS arrival. Owner of device stated 'it's isolating her from any form of network and running a diagnostic.' Present on admission. Device disconnected and sent to hospital storage."

| >>549832
"Huh, looks like the bartender put it on you. Curiouser by the minute, too bad it's in storage so I cant easily check the diagnostics on it. Hmm..."
>He looks over to Aikawa, specifically at her neck
"Mind if I jack inside you?"

| >>549835
>Aikawa's mouth falls open a little. There are a lot of liberties being taken, here. She expends a significant amount of energy trying to make her response sound like she isn't completely flipping out.

" >>>What ... purpose... would that serve, exactly?"

>Although it sounds like she doesn't relish the idea of doing this, Aikawa removes the dummy barrier she keeps on her person from her pocket, and clicks it into place over her ports.

| >Roy looks on, perplexed. Should he let CN do this? He wonders if Aikawa brought him with her because she was expecting some sort of invasive process to be involved in figuring out what the fresh hell is going on here.

| >>549837
"Well given that the device the bartender put on you also has diagnostic capabilities, they must have suspected that there might have been an issue with your cyberbrain. Since I cant really check that from here the next best thing is checking your brain. Given how you were also having a headache and going color blind, I wouldnt say theres no evidence to not explore this theory. I know I'm asking a lot here so you dont have to. Perhaps you prefer to go over the security footage I found first?"

| >>549840
>Aikawa rests her elbows on the table in front of her and laces her fingers together, thinking. CN gives a very good rationale for his suggestion that they link up. Unexpectedly, she turns her head and looks to Roy for his opinion:

"Would you cut into somebody based solely on the report >>>I give you about them? Or would you wanna see them with your own eyes first?"

| >Roy can't make heads or tails of what his roommate just asked him. Is this a genuine question about trust, or is she just trying to make some weird analogy? He sighs and guesses at what she means.

"Let's have a look at the footage first, please."

>Aikawa voices no objections, and turns back to look at CN.

| >>549843
>CN types for a minute to bring up the video footage, forwarding a bit until Aikawa just comes into the bar.
"Ah here we are."
>He turns the deck around for them to see the feed and then hits play on the recording

| >>549845
>Both Aikawa and Roy watch intently-- Aikawa trying to gather lost memories or reassemble broken ones, and Roy looking for physical truth. As the video progresses to where the events of the night intensify, Roy starts holding his breath without noticing. Out of the corner of her eye Aikawa notices him turning red and goes to thump him on the back to snap him out of it, but before she makes contact he gasps on his own as he watches her crumple to the ground on the screen.

| >>549855
"It seems to follow your account... for the most part."

| >>549859
>Roy pulls his eyes away from the screen and looks at CN, confused.

"'For the most part?'"

| >>549863
"I mean the part about her blurry details. Either way I dont think Aikawas account is crazy. Though that just leave the question of why this all occured."

| >>549865
>Roy shifts in his seat and side-eyes Aikawa, the only person in the room who knows at least part of the answer to this question. She remains silent for a few more moments, her eyes fixated on the screen. As she finishes watching, she reaches towards the back of her neck and pulls one of her QRS cables through the empty port in the dummy barrier. Without looking up, she offers it to CN.

"Here. Do it."

| >>549870
>He carefully takes the wire
"Thank you. Dont worry I dont have my own datajack so you dont have to worry about any weirdly intimate probing."
>He plugs the wire into the deck and begins checking the state of her brain

| >>549874
>Aikawa winces as CN connects the cable to his deck. Roy watches carefully, a little unclear as to what is happening. Sure, he has his own ports, but he barely uses them-- and he certainly wouldn't let anyone else mess with them.

"Anything interesting?"

>Aikawa stares on ahead, not blinking. Roy decides to make some suggestions based on the experience Aikawa described earlier:

"Check occipital lobe and the hindbrain?"

| >>549876
>Aikawa glances sideways and her eye's meet Roy's. She raises her eyebrows questioningly.

"Wanna help him out a bit more? Can't just talk shop to people and expect them to get it."

>Roy lets out kind of a muted "ahhh" as he searches for more specific terms.

"... Primary visual cortex and brainstem."

>Aikawa returns to staring dead ahead.


| >>549877
"Yes, yes. I'm no doctor but I'm well read enough to know basic anatomy. I'm also checking the temporal lobe."
>He responds as he continues typing, continuing diagnostics on her brain.

| >>549878
>One step ahead of the game. Roy had been contemplating adding to his original statement about where he wanted CN to look, but it looks like the decker beat the good doctor to it.

"What are you looking for, exactly?"

>Roy is aware that one can run a diagnostic on someone else's cyberbrain by jacking into it, but he's never seen it done, nor has he done it. Accessing someone in the ER is suicide-- pick the wrong patient, and you'll end up in the next trauma bay.

| >>549879
"Any signs that her augs were tampered with. It's abnormal for her augs to just malfunction by themselves, especially so many at once, either way it should leave a clue if the culprit didnt have time to cover their tracks."

| >>549883
>An unrecognized individual is shown to have accessed both Aikawa's temporal lobes and her visual cortex on the night of the incident. The only details available about each access are the times they happened, and the fact that permission was given before they took place. All other normally associated info is missing. Roy is shown as having made contact immediately prior to this.

| >>549923
"Yup, according to this, both her temporal and occipital lobes were messed with around the time, and got permission to do so. It doesnt say who but it says you had access right before Roy."
>CN starts checking for any tampering in memories while he talks

| >>549929
>It's Roy's turn to look horrified now, and Aikawa breaks her uncanny forward stare to whip around and look at CN first, and then her roommate.

"I w-what?!"

"What the fuck?!"

>Roy seems distressed and very bewildered by what the data is showing. He shakes his head, and holds his hands out in front of him in a gesture that says "what do you mean?"

"I don't understand... I never spoke to her. I attempted to comm her, but I wasn't successful..."

| >>549932
"Hey, I'm just saying what it says here. You can look at the words themselves if you don't believe me. Either way, it's kind of obvious someone is trying to hurt Aikawa, and is trying to pin it on Roy."

| >>549935
>Roy is very quiet while he processes this turn of events, struggling to come up with some possible explanation for why he's shown as having contacted Aikawa that day. This is hindered by the fact that Roy is nothing close to a decker and barely has any idea of how this all works. He voices his thoughts anyway.

"Could someone... have 'piggybacked' off of my call? Maybe I connected for a split second and wasn't aware and they kind of... swooped in?"

| >>549938
"Possible, maybe if it's a super AI or something. That seems unlikely though, even someone with a datajack would have trouble working in those time constraints. That also leaves the question who could or would want to do this."
>He looks over to Aikawa
"Any ideas?"

| >>549946
>Aikawa fidgets uncomfortably in her seat. It was inevitable that this line of questioning would be reached.

"... I mean... I'm sure there's a lot of people I've pissed off in my life..."

>She chooses to remain evasive, much to Roy's disappointment. He decides to push her a little further.

"Enough to have them try to kill you? Whoever this was knew what they were doing. Somebody who just wanted to give you a good scare wouldn't have gone this far... right?"

| >>549994
>CN sighs, unplugging the cable from his deck
"Roy, go get a drink."
>He nonchalantly does a lazy wave towards the door.

| >>549999
>Roy inhales deeply and bites his tongue, grimacing. He complies and limps out of the room, intending to grab his roommate a drink rather than himself. Don't want to have two broken feet. Aikawa takes her QRS cable from CN and lets it slowly retract into the back of her neck. She eyes him nervously, feeling as if she's about to be put in the hot seat.

| >>550020
>CN waits for the door to close before exhaling loudly again, placing his deck on the empty booth space next to him.
"Okay, I understand if these people are dangerous, then you're reluctant to reveal who they are, but you're just putting yourself in more potential danger that way. I don't know if it's just cause you don't want Roy to know or get involved, but can you please tell me? We have obviously determined someone messed with you, but now we need leads, and that's only going to come from you."
>His tone is far from harsh, it's almost even gentle or understanding.

| >>550023
>Aikawa hunches over and hangs her head, masking her face in shadow. The words come slowly, as if she's afraid saying them will somehow summon the offending party to their booth.

"I... blew the whistle on someone at my old job... and kind of ruined their career. I fucked someone over so >>>I wouldn't get fucked over."

>She shakes her head and wrings her hands, clearly feeling guilty.

| >>550052
>Theres a *very* pregnant pause
"I see... well who are they? Would they have the know how to mess with your cyberbrain or access someone who can?"

| >>550056
>Aikawa feels her mouth getting dry and her mind going blank. She fumbles with the zipper of her jacket, squeezing the metal tab between her fingers.

"They, uh..."

>She looks about the room as if trying to find a way to escape.

"They, um... they did my augs. Installed 'em. My hands, my eyes."

>She slides up one of her sleeves to look at her forearm.

| >>550066
"What was their name?"
>CN asks simply

| >>550068
>She looks up at CN, determined to spit out an answer. She hasn't spoken this name in a number of years, thinking she might end up taking it with her to the grave.

"Shears. Doctor W. Shears."

>She rakes a trembling hand through her hair.

"That was his name when I worked with him. He said he had a few different ones he worked under before. Never learned what the 'W' stood for."

| >>550078
"Well it's a pretty unique last name at least... what did he look like when you knew him?"

| >>550085
>Aikawa searches the deep recesses of her memory for this one. They say the brain doesn't forget faces it's already seen, but sometimes if you try hard enough...

"He was pretty heavily augmented, but... a lot of it you couldn't see. Like, expensive, nice stuff. You could tell when you'd watch him move. It looked a little too smooth."

>She realizes CN is driving at things that would make him easy to identify, and tries to think of traits not easily altered.

| >>550090
"For someone with such pricey augs, though, he looked like garbage. Really sunken face, always pale. Looked like he never slept. Sickly looking, like he let everything but his augs deteriorate. In his 40's, but looked about 70."

>She racks her brain for anything else about him that stood out. Her expression becomes one of disgust.

"God, he had some bad teeth. Bad teeth and a busted lip that he just couldn't manage to hide with facial hair."

| >>550091
>He makes some notes on his deck as she talks
"Okay, one last thing... what exactly did you do to him?"

| >>550092
>Aikawa looks as though she's suddenly had the wind knocked out of her, and looks at CN with sort of a hollow stare.

"You go right for the jugular, huh..."

>She sighs, and a few times it looks like she's going to start saying something but instead remains silent.

"I stabbed him in the back to save my own ass."

>Aikawa looks at the door, hoping Roy will come back so she doesn't have to keep talking about this.

"But that's not a good enough answer for you, right?"

| >>550102
"Considering I knew that already, no. Getting into his head is important, so sorry but I need the full story."

| "He was diverting stuff for use in the black clinic he'd moonlight in. I found out by accident, and instead of just turning a blind eye to it like I should have... I decided to get in on it."

>She groans quietly, making a harsh noise in the back of her throat.

"I was having fun, even."

>She places a hand over her eyes, massaging her temple with her thumb.

"Then I got careless and I slipped up. Maybe on purpose. I don't know."

| >>550112
"How so?"

| >>550113
"The ways he went about stealing shit started to get real contrived and just... cruel. People who really needed this tech to live were being lied to. "

>She bites her lip.

"A kid. A fucking kid, who got mangled in an MVA that >>>I brought in. Told the family that we were going to make him all better; fix his smashed up head with a shunt that would never malfunction, make him breathe on his own again with a shiny new version of the ancient diaphragmatic pacer..."

| >Aikawa starts to get a little heated as she continues.

"He wanted me to swap everything out in the OR, during the surgical time out. All the documents stating what was going into the kid were altered to fit his scheme of grafting substandard drek to his bones and muscles. He was the head of the department. No one questioned him. I was supposed to pose as an unassuming scrub tech, set up for the procedure, take note of everyone who went in and out..."

| >She leans forward and rests her elbows on her knees, her face in her palms. Her speech becomes muffled but is still audible.

"I fucked up a couple times scrubbing in. Someone noticed; I was so distracted that I didn't. It really spiraled from there. More people kept noticing more mistakes."

>She begins to count on her fingers:

"Practicing outside my license, violation of patient rights, fraud..."

| "I got threatened with all of that simply for pretending to be a tech. They wanted to know why I was in the OR instead of doing my >>>real job in the ED. I couldn't afford to lose my license at that point, and tattling seemed like the only way out, so... I reported him to the board, and got off with a suspension."

>She rubs the back of her neck. This is exhausting.

"Thought he was doing time. Didn't stay in Niihama long enough to make sure of that."

| >>550129
"Mmm... well helping him wasn't the best idea but you did good ratting him out, despite your motives. Either way, I think you're being too hard on yourself."

| >>550134
>Before meeting with CN, Aikawa had the tiniest sliver of hope that confessing this all to someone and just getting it all off her chest would leave her with some feeling of relief. Instead, it feels like someone has grabbed hold of her insides and started twisting. This whole situation now seems much, much more real.

"Wish I was the kind of person who'd have just done it for the kid."

| >There's a soft knock at the door. Aikawa gives CN a kind of pleading look. She lowers her voice to be barely above a whisper.

"Is... this something he should know about?"

>It seems like she genuinely doesn't know how to answer this herself. She searches his face for anything that could give her an easy answer.

| >>550139
>CN simply just stares back at her with a neutral expression
"I won't tell him for now if you don't want me to but I can't give you an easy answer to this. This is something you two need to solve amongst yourselves."

| >>550142
>The knocking happens again, though this time it's louder and the sound comes from a lot lower on the door. It seems as though whoever's outside is trying to knock with one of their feet. Aikawa looks a little frantic, shifting her gaze back and forth between CN and the door.

"... Just don't mention the 'having fun' part of what I told you, or stuff the kid. Keep it real simple."

>She gestures towards the doorknob as if asking whether or not she can open the door.

| >>550145
"Right, right."
>He gestures towards the door
"That would be less suspicious than not telling him anything anyways."

| >>550146
>Aikawa nods and turns the knob, swinging the door inward just as the visitor's foot connects with the wood. The person knocking is Roy, who wobbles to the point of almost falling over as Aikawa upsets his balance.

"Got your drinks!"

>He has a Sugar Rush in one hand, and the bar's budget approximation of a whiskey ginger in the other. He makes a few halting steps back towards his seat, and gives CN the Sugar Rush. The other drink is set in front of Aikawa.

| >Roy sits and surveys and tries to gauge the atmosphere of the room. It's definitely changed while he was absent. Aikawa looks like she's seen a ghost, and doesn't seem to want to make eye contact with him. He decides to talk with CN instead.

"I thought you could use a refill. Did you two make any progress?"

| (need to proofread my posts more, take the "and surveys" out of my last one)

| >>550238
"Uh... does this have Karmotrine in it?"
>He sips it to test for alcohol
"Well anyways... the biggest culprit is Dr. Shears."

| >>550245

>Roy looks to Aikawa for an answer that she's reluctant to provide. It's becoming increasingly clear that she has never spoken to Roy about even the tip of this iceberg. He cocks his head, confused.

"We don't know a Dr. Shears. Neo San-Fran has a bi-monthly meeting of all the surgical subspecialties, and I've never seen that name on the sign-in record."

>He points at CN's glass.

"It does have karmotrine in it. Is that alright?"

| >>550247
"Well I usually don't like to drink while working but its fine."
>He puts the glass down
"Okay long story short, he basically ran a black market clinic and stole equipment from your place to supply it. Aikawa eventually got roped into it until she ratted him out. He's also the one that installed Aikawa's augs so he both has the motive and the know how."

| >>550256
>Roy raises a hand as if attempting to take the glass back.

"If you'd prefer I swap it out, I don't mind. I should have asked first; my apologies-- it's not like I could drink while on the job, either."

>He chuckles to himself, probably the only person in the room to find this very obvious statement funny. He listens to CN's explanation, and when he finishes Roy looks even more lost.

"'Our' place? Ei, when was this? When you worked for Niihama EMS?"

| >>550280
"Oh I assumed you worked together back then as well. Well this was before you moved here in any case."

| "Also it's fine, one drink won't kill me, long as you didnt over do the karmotrine."

| >>550282
>Aikawa nods, idly swirling her drink around in her glass. Roy answers CN's question for her.

"We didn't start working together until we moved to GC. Aikawa worked out of a medical transportation agency before she started this kind of tech/paramedic gig, and that was at NC Gen. I worked in a smaller hospital, and when we met she had just gotten her paramedic cert."

>He turns to Aikawa.

"Was this before or after we met each other?"

>She mumbles an answer.


| >>550294
>She takes a sip of her drink, and looks down at it, surprised-- apparently she what she got wasn't what she was expecting.

"And, it was my tech cert, not my para one."

>Roy shrugs, and turns to CN.

"What should we do about this? Pissing off someone who implanted or supplied your augments is probably not a great idea..."

>Aikawa begins to go red in the face, either from the karmo or humiliation. Maybe both.

| >>550326
"Mmm... to be honest, this is a pretty sticky situation. If he can access and mess with your augs wirelessly that's some serious trouble that can't be stopped without finding him directly. For now though I can probably mod your phone to have better protection, also it goes without saying you shouldnt connect any other your augs with any matrix network. -CN

| >>550329
>Both Roy and Aikawa nod emphatically. They're willing to do whatever it takes to have this not happen again. Aikawa has a question, though:

"My phone? Wasn't I hacked through my commlink? Might be difficult to mod; it's implanted... Should I just go silent until this is over?"

>Roy begins drumming his fingers on the table again. Something's still not right.

"Ei... Why did you look so frantic when you came into the bar that night?"

| >>550344
"Oh right, well if its implanted it's best to just turn it off as well. I'll still mod your phone as a precaution though, in case Shears gets any ideas."
>He looks over to Roy
"That's actually a good question."

| >>550344
"Oh right, well if its implanted it's best to just turn it off as well. I'll still mod your phone as a precaution though, in case Shears gets any ideas."
>He looks over to Roy
"That's actually a good question."

| >>550349
>Aikawa, not expecting to be put on the spot again, struggles to come up with an explanation for her actions that doesn't sound stupid.

"... I was running on 4 hours of sleep over the span of a day and a half. Was kind of nodding off when I thought I had heard his voice for some reason, and just got the fuck out. My shift was over, anyway."

>She murmurs to herself.

"I've just had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach for a while."

| >>550355
"You heard Shears voice *before* getting to the bar?"

| "...oh for FUCK'S SAKE!"
>Coda's frustrated cry can be heard even with the closed doors of the bar. She shoves the door open with rather more force than is necessary, storming up to an empty table, taking a seat and slumping over onto the tabletop with a loud groan.

>Her companion gives her a pat on the back before heading up to the counter and taking a seat there.

"...could I..." >Oenone pauses, debating her order...
"...I think I'll take a Piano Woman tonight, please."

| >>550370
>A Piano Woman slides down the table

| >>550356
"I >>>thought I heard him,"

>Aikawa corrects CN, secretly hoping that she had really just freaked because her mind was playing tricks on her.

"I was out of it. Probably half dreaming at that point. It was a knee jerk reaction and I was already on edge."

>She folds her arms across her chest and starts bouncing one of her legs, clearly unhappy with what this line of questioning could be implying.

| >>550410

>Oenone catches the Piano Woman, watching Aikawa and CN. A small part of her wants to say hi, but Hester would give her a wicked dressing-down if she did. Thus, she sticks to watching, humming a little tune as she does.

| >>550434
"Are you absolutely sure?"
>CN presses
"Cause this could mean Shears may have had other avenues than your commlink to mess with your augs."

| >>550440
>Aikawa *wants* to be absolutely sure. Is there any way to actually verify this, though? Memory and the senses have been proven to be unreliable before.

"Like what?"

>She regrets asking the moment the words leave her mouth. This is visible on her face. Roy listens quietly, not wanting to interrupt and accidentally set his roommate off.

| >>550444
"Well for instance he could had directly jacked into your augs like I did. If he could mess with your memories then it's possible he could had done it so you don't remember it."

| >>550446
>Aikawa looks a little stunned upon hearing CN mention wiped or false memories. She mentally retraces her steps that day as accurately as possible.

"... I really think it was just me imagining things. Someone else using the same phrasing and inflections he'd use or something, and my mind ran with it."

>She brings her hand to the side of her head, weaving her fingers through her hair. She closes her eyes as if trying to shut out everything around her.

| >>550448
"Alright... I'll trust your judgement. For now I'll mod your phone real fast as a precaution until we can track him down."

| >>550450
"Go for it."

>Aikawa takes a very large sip of her drink a little too fast, and chokes as the taste of what's supposed to be whiskey hits the back of her tongue. As she splutters, Roy reaches over to pat her back. He hopes this'll offer her her a little comfort, or at least get her to stop coughing so hard. After a few seconds, Aikawa manages to clear her throat. Roy then turns to CN.

"What can I do about this?"

| >>550459
>Aikawa bristles at this and decides that she should be the one to answer Roy's question rather than CN.

"Nothing, Roy. It isn't your problem. You don't need to get involved."

| >>550459
>CN plugs Aikawa's phone into the deck as he takes off the back cover, responding to Roy as he works
"Keep a look out for Shears, it's obvious he isnt pull any punches if he find out Aikawa is still alive."
>He grabs a pair of twizzlers and gently removes a small chip from the circuits of the phone, and just nonchalantly tosses it aside.

| >>550459
>CN plugs Aikawa's phone into the deck as he takes off the back cover, responding to Roy as he works
"Keep a look out for Shears, it's obvious he isnt pull any punches if he find out Aikawa is still alive."
>He grabs a pair of twizzlers and gently removes a small chip from the circuits of the phone, and just nonchalantly tosses it aside.

| >>550468
>Roy taps Aikawa on the shoulder.

"I assume >>>you're going to tell me what I'm supposed to be looking out for?"

>She shrugs his arm off her back and glares at him.

"Look, I know this was really hard for you--"

>Something CN said makes his thought process grind to a halt. "If he find's out Aikawa's still alive"... The words make him feel like the bottom just dropped out of his stomach.

"Wait, you... you think he really-- he really >>>did intend to kill her?!"

| >Roy makes as if he's going to jump to his feet, but because of how rapid and unexpected this movement is, his exoskeleton very badly interprets what he's about to do and sends one of his knees into the underside of the booth table.


>The impact is enough to rattle the glasses on the table, and Aikawa practically dives across the booth to stop CN's Sugar Rush from being upturned and spilling all over his deck.

| >>550471
>He quickly lifts up his deck and her phone
"Well you heard Aikawa herself earlier right? She felt like she was going to have a stroke."

| >>550471
>This all results in Aikawa's drink being gracefully dumped all over her lap. The ice sphere that was floating so nicely in her whiskey ginger a few seconds ago bounces off her seat and onto the floor. Miraculously, it doesn't shatter-- instead it rolls slowly away from the table until it hits the door with a quiet "thunk." Roy's response is interrupted by Aikawa practically shrieking:

"I'm gonna have one fucking >>>NOW if you don't get that thing fixed!!"

| >>550475
"Relax, unless you enjoyed having a chip in your phone that track all of your phone usage, you didnt need that."
>CN muses
"Besides I have replacement parts in my bag."

| >>550476
>Aikawa stops, realizing that CN thinks she's having a conniption over her phone getting wet. Gradually her posture changes from "vaguely threatening" to "a little dead inside." Out of embarrassment, she feels obligated to explain:

"No... I... meant >>>his exoskeleton."

>She edges past Roy and opens the door of the room just enough to let herself out.

"Christ... I'm gonna fucking... go try to dry myself off..."

| >>550478
>Aikawa stomps off towards wherever the bathroom is, and Roy very gingerly shuts the door after her. He turns to CN with an uncomfortable grin, rubbing his now (probably) bruised patella.

"Was she... >>>that tense when you two were talking?"

| >>550480
"Mmm... sort of, talking about the whole thing was hard on her."

| >Oenone heads over to the door and picks up the ice sphere, walking over to Roy and co. to hand it back.

"Um... This is yours, right...?"

| >>550484
>Roy looks down at the table, feeling a bit guilty. As much as he tries to empathize as his roommate, he's simply unable to fathom what she's dealing with-- after all, nobody's ever wanted him dead before. He thinks, anyway.

"I bet it was. I appreciate you helping us-- helping >>>her out like this."

>Somehow he manages to hear Oenone's voice through the door, and cracks it open a bit to find out just what it is that's "theirs."

| >The Lilim, trying on a pastel pink hair/electric blue eyes combo today, holds out the ice sphere.

"I just saw it come from where you guys were, so I figured..."

| >>550488
>Roy is confused as he's greeted by Oenone's hand holding the sphere in his face. His gaze slowly moves up to meet hers, and he stares blankly for a second before figuring out why he's being presented with a neat chunk of ice.

"Oh. Oh!! Yes, that's-- that's ours, excuse me--"

>He retrieves Aikawa's glass from the floor with some difficulty-- it had rolled under her seat-- and holds it out for Oenone to deposit the sphere into.

"Thanks! Sorry about that."

| >>550492

"Please, don't apologize! You haven't caused me any more trouble than, um, than she has..." >She gestures to Coda, who seems to have fallen asleep. From this angle it's possible to see... A pink circular saw blade sticking out of her left shoulder under the cape, which itself has a number of holes and coins embedded in it.

"It's, uh... Been a weird night."

| >>550490
"It's... it's no big deal."
>He coughs awkwardly going back to his work

| >>550494
>Roy follows the line of Oenone's gesture to Coda, whom.... he thinks he might recognize? The cape certainly looks familiar, but the saw jutting out of her scapula does not. He declines commenting on this for the moment, and returns his focus to Oenone.

"For you too, huh?"

>He places the glass carefully back on the table, and extends his hand.

"I'm Roy. Pleasure to meet you. Is your friend alright?"

| >>550496
>Roy doesn't understand why CN is downplaying what is/hopefully will be a lifesaving intervention the decker is implementing for his roommate. No, it's not a big deal-- it's a huge deal. He resolves to come up with a thoughtful way to thank CN for his efforts. He deserves at least that much. Roy looks over his shoulder at CN--

"I think you're selling yourself short. Take credit where credit is due."

| >>550505
"Right... well thank me when this Shears guy isn't a problem anymore."
>He finishes modding the phone and closes the back cover on it again

| >>550509
"Sounds like a plan."

>Before Roy can turn back around to speak to Oenone again, his phone goes off. He tries to grab it off the table a few times and misses, then finally manages to land his hand on it and slide it over to himself. He looks at the caller ID and groans to himself.

"Sorry, this is only going to take a second..."

>After apologizing to both CN and Oenone for the interruption, he picks up and starts talking to the mystery caller.

| >>550549
"Hello, this is Roy..."

>He points himself towards the inner portion of the booth, and tries to keep his voice down to avoid being disruptive.

"A consult...? I'm sorry, but who keeps telling you guys I'm on call when I'm not? I'm out right now."

>His eyebrows raise in response to whatever the person on the other end just said.

"That's messy. Is she a pending transfer? If she is, put the foam in her. Actually... just put it in; it doesn't matter if she's a transfer."

| >>550552
"Foam, LR, and blood products wherever she's closest to. Get maybe 5 units ready. Who's covering for me tonight that isn't telling you guys this stuff??"

>His eyes narrow.


>Roy sighs heavily.

"No, no, it's fine... I'm scheduled to do a procedure on Wednesday, I'll talk to him then. Yeah. Okay, bye."

>For a minute there, it looked like Roy's patience was about to run dry...

| >>550554
"Everything alright there?"
>CN asks

| >>550555
>Roy hits the "end call" button and tries to put his phone in his breast pocket, which is much too small to hold it. He keeps trying anyway.

"Another hospital called ours about a critical patient with a gunshot wound to the stomach. They're unsure if they'll handle it there, or stabilize her and then send her to us."

>Roy finally gives up and puts the phone in another pocket.

"It's fine, though. Max is a jerk, but he knows what he's doing."

| >>550558
"Um... if you say so. How long have you known this Max guy?"

| >>550567
>Roy thinks for a moment.

"Hmm... I >>>think Max was here before I came to GC, so I've known him since I started at NSFMC. He doesn't specialize in trauma surgery, but he's experienced enough to do a good job patching someone up."

>He rubs the back of his neck and blushes, embarrassed about something.

"I'm on modified duty since I broke my foot, so I'm limited to doing procedures where I can sit right now. It's... kind of boring."

| >>550569
"Did you do trauma for the excitement then?"

| >>550572
>Roy realizes how his prior statement might have made him sound, and backpedals a little.

"I mean, I'm not an adrenaline junkie or anything like that. I just like to be busy. Sure, it can be exciting, but it's also really stressful at times."

>He sighs, frustrated.

"I'm just not the kind of person who enjoys sitting at a console pulling levers to remove someone's gallbladder while they lay on the opposite side of the operating theatre. Stuff like that is... formulaic?"

| >Roy spots Aikawa walking back from the bathroom in a huff, and is about to wave at her when she does a rapid 180 and heads right back whence she came. That's weird. He wonders what's up. He glances at Oenone for a second, but there's not enough info for the dots to connect-- he chalks it up to Ei being in a foul mood.

| >>550580
>CN shakes his head
"I'll go give her the phone, I'll be right back."
>He stands up with his stuff, squeezing through the doorway to presumably follow Aikawa

| >>550582
>Roy watches as CN leaves the booth, and nods.

"Oh, sure! She may have just forgotten something in the restroom-- I'm sure she'll be happy to see the phone's alright, though."

>Roy figures that it's probably best to let CN do whatever he's going to do at this point in the game.

| >>550498

"Oh, yeah, Coda's a tough nut to crack. We're trying to chase down the owner of that saw, though- All we have to go off of is a name: Shul Shagana. And her weird hairstyle, but... That's not much of a lead in Glitch." >Oenone doesn't seem to notice Aikawa's approach or departure- but she does notice Roy moving to wave at her and turns her head in that general direction for a moment.

"...um, what's going on..?"

| >>550592
"Well, I'm glad she's resilient. It's probably a good thing you're here to look after her for a bit, too. What... earned her that blade in her shoulder, exactly? If that's not prying for me to ask, of course."

>Roy gestures towards where CN is heading, hot on Aikawa's heels.

"Oh, my roommate went to the restroom for a bit after she spilled her drink on herself. I think she forgot something in there; she turned around about as soon as she came out."

>He shrugs.

| >>550596

"Well, she was out in the Flooded, and stepped into a fight between Shul Shagana and this one coin-throwing girl that's been sighted recently, and apparently both Shul Shagana and coin girl mistook her for each other? I can understand Shul Shagana making that mistake, but coin girl... I mean, Shul Shagana has these huge... Twintails, kind of? It's hard to explain."

>She sighs, turning in the direction indicated and staring at the departing CN.

| >>550600
>Hard to explain seems like an understatement, but Roy does his best to follow along anyway.

"Why did your friend intervene? It must have been quite a scuffle for everyone to confuse one other like that... You look like you made out okay, though!"

>He smiles, and notices her watching the decker in the trench. He explains:

"Oh, he's giving Ei her phone back. He fixed it for her."

| >Meanwhile, Aikawa hears CN's footsteps behind her and turns around to see who it is that's following her back towards the restroom.

"What, did you spill your drink on yourself, too? Or is this a classic case of 'girls always go to the bathroom in pairs'? Sorry, don't have anything you can borrow to powder your nose with."

>Not that she thinks that's really the case. She walks backwards a bit until she's leaning against the wall immediately adjacent to the bathroom door.

| >>550615

>Coda spots this and completely misinterprets the situation. She slowly gets to her feet, approaching Aikawa and CN. While she does this, she takes hold of the saw in her shoulder, should she need to use it as a weapon.

"Hey, what's going on over there?"

>Coda's voice alerts Oenone, and she gets ready to move, in case her impulsive friend needs to be held back.

| >>550619
>Aikawa jerks her head in the direction of whomever just called across the bar to her and CN. She gives a thumbs up and shouts back:

"We're fine! Just two gals being pals over here!!"

>She turns back to CN and smirks, but this quickly disappears from her face as she catches sight of Oenone again.

"What's up? More burning questions you need answered...?"

>She seems to be trying to channel her usual dry sense of humor, but her heart just isn't in it. Her words fall flat.

| >>550625
>CN simply presents her fixed phone to her
"An act will only mentally drain you more you know. You need to learn when to take a moment to yourself."

| >>550625

"I'm pretty sure that's not a girl, though!" >Coda gestures to CN, the motion allowing Oenone to walk up and grab the injured Lilim's wrist.

"Please calm down, we don't wanna-" >She pauses, blinking.
"...Oh, hi Aikawa! I'd shake your hand, but, y'know..." >She shakes Coda's hand.

| >>550627
"... Thanks. I know."

>Aikawa takes the phone and tucks it into her pocket. CN tells it like it is-- she's very mentally and emotionally fatigued; try as she might to mask it, it's starting to catch up with her. Her weary expression lifts for a split second as she registers Oenone saying her name.

"S-shake my hand, huh? Are we meeting for the first time again every time you change your hair?"

>Her smile looks a little broken.

"Like the pink."

| >>550630
"I'm just returning her phone to her, relax."
>CN looks at the two newcomers
"You certainly seem popular Aikawa."

| >>550633

"It's not that, it's just... I dunno, you don't really look like a hugging kind of person. Also, thanks! Being Monochrome Girl got kind of tiring." >She sticks her tongue out in a playful manner, letting go of Coda's hand as the blue-haired Lilim lowers it.

"Anyway, I'm glad to see you're okay! That was... A pretty nasty chain of events..."

| >>550636

"I have no idea who the hell this is, guy." >Coda seems a little agitated- but then again there IS a giant circle saw sticking out of her shoulder.

"Oenone seems ta differ, though."

| >>550642
"Oh so *this* is Oenone. Talk about a small world then."

| >>550636
"Seems to be that way lately; it'd be nicer if it was intentional and not accidental."

>She shakes her head, sighing.

"M--... M-monochr--...?!"

>Aikawa feels her ears start to burn as her face goes scarlet. She grits her teeth, very embarrassed.

"I-i'm... I'm gonna kill him...!"

>This is growled very, very quietly under her breath. She glares at Roy, and her stare seems as if it could burn holes in her (totally oblivious) roommate.

| >>550651

>Oenone's cheery smile vanishes almost instantly, and she brings a hand to her ear.

"U-Um... Are you okay...? You're not sick or something...?"

| >>550641
>She takes a deep breath, trying to shake off the incandescent rage that was just sparked inside of her. Whatever. His nickname for Oenone is even stupider.

>She loses all the color she just took on at the mention of the night that started this whole thing.

"I'm fine... glad to be be here. I'm..."

>Without thinking she steps forward and draws the lilim into a tight hug.

"I'm so sorry you had to see that. I'm so sorry."

>She shakes her head against Oenone's shoulder.

| >>550656
>Roy has only just taken notice of all of the activity going on near the bathroom, and watches the proceedings with a look of concern on his face. As he sees Aikawa embrace Oenone, he puts two and two together:

"Oh! It's >>>Lucy!"

>He exclaims this quietly to himself, striking his fist against the open palm of his other hand as he makes the connection.

| >>550656

"!!!" >The hug is surprising, but Oenone quickly gets over it, reciprocating the gesture.
"Erm... Sorry, I've... Not really changed since last time, I was hoping to show you Hester's surprise, but-" >She sighs.

"Anyway, it's perfectly fine! Please don't apologize, I-"

>Roy's voice reaches her, and she pauses.

"L... Lucy?"

| >>550664
>A week or so in isolation at a hospital will make you starved for contact in any capacity. Aikawa notices Oenone startle a bit as she wraps her arms around her, and feels a little ashamed for selfishly continuing the hug even after the lilim responds in kind. She's just glad to see a friendly face again.

>At the mention of 'Hester's surprise' Aikawa pulls away, looking at Oenone quizzically.

"'But'...? Why are >>>you sorry? I'm sure this stuff takes time."

| >>550664
>Aikawa also hears Roy talking to himself, and once Oenone reiterates what he said she wishes that the floor would open underneath her and swallow her up... Primarily because Roy's nickname for Oenone is based on a description Aikawa herself gave of her friend.

"I-ignore him, he's an idiot who just thinks he's really clever. He does this for everybody he gets to know or hears a lot about."

>Whoops. Maybe that last part shouldn't have slipped out.

| >>550674
"I-I just mentioned once that you could change the color of your irises and... he ran with it..."

>She hangs her head as Roy is heard singing to himself softly in the booth. She's really starting to regret having him tag along.

"... girl with kaleidoscope eyeeees..."

">>>Walker! Trying to have a conversation over here; can it!"

>The singing simply changes to humming.

| >>550674 >>550675

"Hey now, it's not that bad- I actually like it!" >She beams, cycling her eyes once through the colors of the rainbow in response to Roy's singing.

"I've been thinking about the name we'd register my new place to, actually...!"

| >>550678
"Don't let him hear you say that, I'll never hear the end of it..."

>Secretly Aikawa is relieved and even a little bit amused. Oh, well. As long as her own nickname doesn't get leaked, that's all that matters. Roy still won't tell her why he picked the one he did, but based on context it likely wasn't meant to be flattering like Oenone's is...

"New place...? Oh, that's right! So you're going ahead with that, huh?"

| >>550650
>Aikawa turns to CN, not wanting to be rude. She introduces her friend to the decker:

"S-sorry, yes-- this is Oenone. Guess you could call this a fateful meeting... or something."

>She isn't sure if CN is going to sit Oenone down and review the events of that one night in the bar with her. She hopes that if that's his plan, he gathers more information than he shares-- though Aikawa doesn't feel like there's much that she or Roy haven't covered at this point.

| >>550703
"Nice to meet you Oenone, I think we've talked on the board before."
>CN greets them, speaking as nonchalant as he did when he first talked with Aikawa.

| >Roy, who has been mostly keeping to himself for Aikawa's sake, decides to wander out of the booth and join the party. He'd like to say hi to Coda, and also to meet this Oenone that he's heard so much about from Ei-- she seems to think pretty highly of her. As he gets up to leave, the knee that was smashed into the underside of the table buckles a little, and he almost falls into the door. Said knee is also on the same side as the broken foot. How lucky!


| >>550714
>Aikawa notices Roy struggling to get out of the booth and almost taking a bite out of the door. When he manages to right himself and continues to stumble towards the group, she tries to wave him off and get him to sit back down. This, of course, is futile-- and of course she already knows that but tries anyway.

"R-roy--! No, no, you don't have to come over here when you're walking like that--"

| >>550706

"I think I recognize your handle, yeah. Nice to meet you!" >Oenone offers CN her hand while Coda follows Aikawa to help Roy out.

"Did Aikawa tell you anything about me...?" >The pink-haired bot tilts her head, placing a finger to her bottom lip.

| >>550809
"Mmm... just that you helped her out the other day at the bar, also your penchant for changing your hair color a lot."

| >>550809 >>550803
"Relax, Ei, I'm fi--"

>Roy teeters as the knee gives out again, and Aikawa rushes forward to catch him before he falls on it. She ends up with her elbows locked under his armpits; Roy leaning into her precariously with his head resting over her shoulder. There is a pause, and Roy says something almost inaudible into Aikawa's right ear that causes her to push him up and off of her immediately, red-cheeked and fuming.

| >>550817
"Are you okay there?"
>CN asks
"I didnt think that your knee was that bad"

| >>550817
>Once he's standing at full height, the difference in stature between Roy and his roommate is very noticeable. He's got a little more than half a foot on Aikawa, which makes her ability to prop him up kind of impressive. Roy gives a little wave to Coda.

"Hi, Coda! Long time no see-- where's your friend in the cloak?"

>He nods his head towards her shoulder.

"Everything okay?"

| >>550819
>Roy grins, embarrassed, and rubs the back of his head.

"Ah, at this point it's not just the knee... it's the whole leg. The foot's out of commission, too."

>He wiggles the foot in the walking boot a little.

"Not like this leg or the other one were that great to begin with, though. Ei's right, I do need to get this thing fixed..."

>He taps the left hip joint of his exoskeleton.

| >>550826

"Forget fixed, ya gotta get that thing >>>replaced. As for Maria, she's got a different escort this time around. Just as well, she seems to attract attention from the likes of Shul Shagana."

| >>550826
"Can you even afford to get a whole exo replaced..."

| >>550827
"Hey, if you know a place that sells them-- and sells them basically new, not 'refurbished'-- I'll be over there in two shakes of a lambs tail."

"Working as a surgeon leaves me with a bit more than enough to just pay the bills. Plus, Ei and I live pretty modestly, all things considered. Does a simple lower body exo really run for that much nowadays, though?"

| >>550827
>There's a beat as Roy turns over what Coda just said in his head.

"Wait... you said 'Maria.' Didn't you say you went to >>>see a Maria that night? You didn't mention anything about bringing her along with you!"

>He chuckles. This is getting interesting!

"What's with the chip on her shoulder this Shul has against you two?"

>Roy doesn't realize his phrasing might be a little tasteless, considering the piece of medal that's still sticking out of Coda.

| >(*metal, thanks autocorrect)

| >>550834
"Oh yea... guess you'll be fine. Guess I'm just used to look at it from my uh... self employed paycheck."

| >>550839
>Roy waves his hands in front of him a little, worries he's been misconstrued or has inadvertently come off as boasting.

"Oh, no-- when I said 'a bit' I >>>meant 'a bit'. Still digging away at that med school debt, but hopefully I'll be done with that in a few more years. I pick up a lot of shifts."

| >>550842
"Well don't push yourself either. I'm sure you got a strenuous schedule but you need to take breaks too."
>Given the heavy set bags under CN's eyes, he should be taking some of his own advice.

| >>550827 >>550834
>Aikawa looks on as Roy chats with Coda and CN. Earlier, the injured lilim had made a pointed statement about how she had no clue who Aikawa was-- the reverse of this statement also applies. How does Roy know her? It's not like he gets out all that much... former patient? Seems like someone who's predisposed to ending up in the ER if you take into account the saw blade in her shoulder.

| >>550836

"Well, surprise, that wasn't a groupie- It was the girl herself!" >Coda chuckles.

"As for Shul Shagana... I don't think she specifically has something against me, it's just that I've never encountered her in a setting where anyone could actually recognize anyone so she might have thought I was a foe." >Coda shrugs, gripping the saw blade in preparation to rip it off.

| >>550844

>Oenone steps up and pokes Aikawa's cheek.

| >>550843
>Roy looks down at his injured foot again.

"I guess you could say this gave me the opportunity to take a little time off... but as soon as it heals enough for me to really stand on it, I'm hosed. My hands are apparently going to be full with precepting a new member of our surgical team."

>Roy sighs heavily, and Aikawa seems surprised-- she hadn't heard him mention anything about a new orientee recently.

| >>550878
>Roy grins and puts his hands in his pockets, relaxing his posture a little. He teases Coda a bit:

"It sounds like you need to find a location with better lighting before you pick a fight with her again. Either that, or you could her and coin girl some glasses."

| >"Don't think she had any real control over that, jackass," Aikawa thinks to herself. Her seething over whatever Roy whispered to her ends abruptly as Oenone's fingertip smushes into her cheek, and she finds herself beginning to smile.

"... Can I help you?"

| >>550881
"Sounds theres no dull moment for anyone in GC it seems..."
>CN shrugs
"I certainly can't wait for some peace and quiet for a change."

| >>550887
"Somehow, I doubt you'll want that change to last very long."

>Roy gives what could be read as a knowing smile, under the impression that CN may be a fellow workaholic.

>Meanwhile, Aikawa screams internally as she watches Roy's expression change from one of understanding to one of subtle amusement. He's coming up with another stupid nickname, and she's going to hear all about it on the way home. She hates that she knows this. She doesn't even like this goddamn band.

| >>550889
>CNs face gets uncharacteristically serious
"No. If it meant I had to deal with less corporate drek who think they could get away with all sorts of violations of humanity, then I would rather not work another day in my life."

| >>550889
>The smile starts to level out a little. Missed the mark there, Roy! Understanding is in principle based on wishful thinking-- and fittingly Roy seems to have somehow forgotten the nature of CN's work while looking to connect.

"... Ah... that makes sense, yes."

>He nods, and an awkward pause follows.

"Why... no, >>>how do you keep doing this? What makes you keep going? Working with all of these exploited people... how do you find it in you not to feel hopeless?"

| >>550893
"Mainly the fact that if I don't I know someone else won't. Sure there will always be people fighting and catching the bad guys, like the Justice Wadrobe, but not so many people around who can dig up the dirt and connect people."

| >>550895
>Roy makes a quiet hum in agreement. Apparently there are still some genuinely good people in the world... even if said people have little to no qualms about hacking into a hospital's database.

"It takes a lot more effort and care to go below the surface like that. I'm sure your... 'clients' really appreciate you helping them pick up the pieces."

>Roy's tone rises at the end of the word 'clients', as if he's not sure what to call the people CN helps out.

"We do."

| >>550879
>Roy looks to his side and sees Oenone "beeping" Aikawa's cheek. He smiles widely. This is really something-- Ei would ordinarily never tolerate this sort of thing. Or, maybe it's just that she wouldn't tolerate it from him... In any case, Oenone seems to have lengthened Aikawa's short fuse a bit.

"Hey, that's my roommate you're poking! Careful, she might bite."

>He laughs to himself. Aikawa doesn't seem to find this particularly funny.

"So, you're Oenone?"

| >>550897
"I don't really have many clients, at least I dont get payed from people who I help out. I usually just work other job for income."

| >>550901
"... When do you have time to work paying jobs, then? From what I've seen on the boards, you're constantly lending hands, like some kind of..."

>Roy looks upward at a nonspecific part of the ceiling and circles one of his hands around a bit, trying to produce a fitting end to his statement.

"Some kind of..."

>He scratches his head. Finally, it comes to him:

"Some kind of... really, really helpful octopus."

>It's 100% unclear as to whether he's joking or being serious.

| >>550940
>CN just squints his eyes and stares at you
"That was a really shitty analogy but... I usually just do it at night, or the team I'm apart of helps out."

| >>550899

"Yup, that's me- and no, I'm pretty sure she won't." >Oenone pokes Aikawa's cheek again, to prove her point, then pokes her own cheek. And the ice-white metal... Yields to her touch, her finger leaving a little indent just like it would on actual flesh.

| >>551012
>Roy shrugs good naturedly in response to CN's blunt but truthful criticism.

"Ahh, I won't dispute that... lit & comp was never my strongsuit. That's why I ended up cutting people open for a living, instead."

>He grins wryly.

"You got the point, though. I'm glad to hear you have a few other people helping you distribute the burden more evenly."

>They call him 'geekboy' on the net... Does this mean his team is the 'geeksquad'?

| >>551045
"I can tell you don't spend a lot of time reading rumors on the Matrix, my team ends up being a hot topic on occasion... for better or worse."
>He sighs again

| >>551037
>Roy stifles a laugh as he watches Aikawa turn her head into the poke to playfully shake Oenone's finger off. Aikawa's eyes widen in surprise as lilim's plating reacts to pressure in a way she hadn't expected, and Roy gathers that perhaps she wants to give it a try, too.

"It's nice to finally put a face to a name! Ei's told me a lot about you."

>He nods, beaming.

| >>551047
"You'd be right, there... Rumors, huh? Like what, exactly? Are you talking about some of those weird 'red text posts' I've stumbled upon a couple of times?"

>He resolves to ask his roommate to get him up to speed a bit more on current events and gossip within the Matrix-- if anything, it'll give him some more stuff to talk with his patients about... Those that are conscious enough to talk, anyway.

| >>551051

"Oh, she has?" >Oenone raises her brow, tilting her head slightly.

"Good things, I hope?"
>Her cheeks are totally exposed, if Aikawa wants to try giving them a poke...

| >>551061
>Roy chuckles, still grinning widely.

"Always. You're probably one of the first friends she's made over here in GC!"

>While Oenone is preoccupied with talking to Roy, Aikawa stealthily inches her index finger closer and closer to Oenone's cheek, until...


>She laughs quietly, and Roy can't help but join in. Aikawa then turns her head to look at him, raising an eyebrow.

"I'm right here, y'know. You can stop talking like I'm not."

| >>551075
"Well, you seemed like you were on a mission, and I didn't want to distract you..."

>Aikawa sighs, and rolls her eyes at Roy. She remembers that there was something she wanted to ask her friend about goings on that were mentioned earlier:

"When's the housewarming party? Need help getting moved in? I got a week coming up with not much to do..."

>Roy isn't sure it's the best idea for Aikawa to leave home with no knowledge of Dr. Shears' whereabouts, but he stays silent.

| >>551081
"If there's a party to be had, apparently Ei can provide musical entertainment--"

>Roy puts his hand on one of Aikawa's shoulders and shakes her back and forth gently. Aikawa looks back up at him, surprised and a little flustered.


>Roy cocks his head, shrugs and turns up his other palm as if to say "remember what you said earlier"?

"I didn't know you had a kit. I knew you had the bass, but..."

| >>551140
>Aikawa mumbles to herself, looking down at her feet.

"I don't play the kit when you're home. It's loud, and you seem to like the cajon better anyway."

>Roy smiles gently.

"Only because I think you look cool sitting on it. You don't really seem to think about what you're doing when you are."

>Aikawa has no idea what to say, and instead feels herself going red. She wishes she didn't always blush at the drop of a dime like this.

| >>551059
"A little bit of that, a little bit of exposed corporate paydata, a mix of interacting with vigilantes like the Justice Wadrobe."

| >>551148
>Roy then proceeds to ruin everything he just said with his next statement:

"The bass, though-- that's another story. I know you >>>think you look real slick when you're playing it, but your posture is awful. You either look like a T-rex with a bad hunchback, or you're standing stock still like you're afraid one will see you."

>Roy mimics the way Aikawa stands while playing her bass to a T, while Aikawa feels her head spinning from the complete 180 that just happened.

| >>551151
"You wouldn't consider what you're doing to be vigilantism?"

>Roy's tone is not sarcastic or critical-- if anything he sounds very honest.

| >>551202
"I suppose so, very little what I do is on legal grounds after all. So I guess in the end what ultimately decides how bad I am is my own morals."

| >>551203
"Those are relative to a degree, though. I'd love for them to be universal, but sadly that isn't the case. That's how things in general got to this point in GC; why you have work and so much of it..."

| >>551210
"Tell me about it, but I do my best to stay in legality more often than not. I dont even have a gun, unlike 90% of the population it seems..."

| >>551217
"Wait, is gun ownership >>>that common here? It wasn't anything close to that in Niihama. Are they easy to get a hold of, or something?"

>Roy looks worried. He hadn't realized that this could be yet another venue through which harm could easily come to his roommate-- a very fast, very terrifying, and almost certainly lethal one. As a part of her paramedic training Ei is capable of restraining or subduing an attacker, but not much else beyond that.

| >>551222

>Oenone politely refrains from bringing up her gun collection, instead opting to talk about the housewarming party.

"...the party's in... Four days! It'd be a nice chance for you to meet Wren and the others, too.*

| >>551229
>Unlike Roy, the thought of Dr. Shears putting holes in her has already crossed Aikawa's mind-- multiple times, in fact. The more Roy gets caught up in this, the worse she feels. It's likely a good thing Oenone didn't get anything slip about her smart pistols.

"I-if you'll have me, I'd love to be there. Musical accompaniment or not."

>She points her thumb towards Roy and rolls her eyes.

| >>551222
"I mean I dont know the actual statistic but it feels like I get one pointed at me almost everyday."

| >>551233
>Roy feels the hair rise on the back of his neck and his hands go numb. No, no, no... But maybe he's not here in GC? If he messed with her augs wirelessly, he could still be in Niihama... As Roy mentally grasps at straws, Aikawa senses his growing distress and gently touches his forearm. He glances down to see her looking... way more composed than he'd expect. He's not sure whether he should find this comforting or not.

| >>551236
>Externally it appears Aikawa is either unphased or hasn't been listening to the conversation between Roy and CN, but internally she's rapidly heading back to being emotionally in shambles. She feels her stomach starting to turn a little and her head getting light.

>Bend your knees, Aikawa. Just a little longer and you can go back to trying to put this out of your mind, good idea or not.

| >>551236 >>551240
>CN loudly claps his hands to get their attentions
"Hey, don't forget, I'm a decker. I intentionally get into dangerous situation with people with guns. Ther kind that know how to get them easily."

| >>551257
>Upon hearing this, Roy breathes a quiet sigh of relief and Aikawa (who was starting to turn a bit green) seems a bit more stable. Roy still wants to make sure all of their bases are covered, though-- he intends to follow all of CN's instructions on how to keep Ei safe and out of trouble, but wants to make sure the decker has everything necessary to continue his investigation.

"CN, is there anything else you need from us tonight? Or, do we just... bide our time now?"

| >>551274
"Mmm... not much to do for now I'm afraid but wait. I'll post online in some places for some info, see what I can dig up, do my own search as well for some black market clinics in town, see if I luck out. Once I find something I'll call Aikawa to let her know."

| >>551305
"Okay. I'm assuming we should let you know if anything else comes up? Hopefully nothing does, but..."

| >As Roy and CN review their 'next steps,' Aikawa starts getting the feeling that the night is drawing to a close. She offers her hand to Oenone to shake (despite the little fuss she made about this earlier), a weary but genuine grin on her face.

"Four days? Wouldn't miss it-- be there hell or high water. See you then, Oenone... "

| >>551306
"Yea just contact me if anything. I'm sure a quick message on the board will usually ping me pretty fast but I also put my number on Aikawas phone in case of an emergency."

| >>551308
>Roy nods, and extends his hand so he can shake CN's.

"Will do. If you or your team ever find yourselves in any trouble... you know, as a result of that 'people pointing guns at you' thing... head to NSFMC. Ask for 'Dr. Walker'-- everything will get taken care of."

>He gives kind of a lopsided grin, and sighs.

"There's a reason my coworkers are calling me all the time, after all. It's because I answer. You do enough favors, and people will bend over backwards for you."

| >>551309
>CN meets his hand and shakes it
"Oh don't worry if I didn't have those kinds of favor, I don't think any of my team or myself would have made it until now. I'll be sure to contact you if I ever run into trouble."

Total number of posts: 250, last modified on: Mon Jan 1 00:00:00 1555369579

This thread is permanently archived