(setting) O-kitsune courier and chop shop

| > Nestled in among the other warehouses of the Motor District lay this little slice of gold. The big shipping door that was closed was wide open, showing off the crates and tools inside. Two brightly colored motorcycles were nestled inside, as well as a few desks and workshops, all haphazardly arranged.

> A sign above the opening held the name of Fox's courier service, along with a stylized Inari-okami. The chop shop half seemed to be a last second addition, spray painted on.

| > Inside, a large man could be seen inspecting engine parts of some kind, but only a seasoned mechanic would know what exactly it was. He's engaging in conversation with whoever else is in the shop with him. Both are in grease-stained overalls, yet he's the only one over the frame of a motorcycle. The other person is welding something together, a helmet obscuring their face. Whatever it is they're talking about, both seem very animated in their talk, with many hands being flung up

| > A lone, professional looking desk sat way from them, adorned with a sign in Japanese reading "Out on deliveries"

> The two people left inside seemed to be in the midst of an argument now.

"Look, I get that mounting armor plating means that you have to save weight in other areas, but that doesn't mean skimping on style!" says the masked person.

"That's always been you, wanting to make a grand entrance and leaving a lasting impression. You gotta grow outta that" said the other

| >Caju approaches the chop shop on foot, hands inside the pockets of her sukajan. She wouldn't normally be visiting the competition, but sometimes you've got to reach out.

>She turns the name over in her head: Mugello, Mugello, Mugello... Yeah, that sounds about right. Once she's at the doors, the green-haired Cat Boomer hesitates so her little sister can catch up, then steps right in.

| >>633354

> The two figures don't yet seem to notice that they have company. They're still arguing about aesthetics, it seems.

"Pete, it's all about the first meeting. Remember when I gave the Cormorant a new paint job?" asked the masked figure

"I just remember having to re-do it myself, dummy. I have a style too, y'know? Oh, hello there."

> The man named Pete waves at the people standing outside. The other person seems too busy on whatever they're doing to pay attention.



| >Impulse tried to approach the Courier service part, but upon finding that the desks are empty, he instead went up to the pair.
>He said.
"Is Fox here? I need him to deliver something for me."

| >>634291

> Dusty perks up at the mention of Fox and turns around, tossing her welding mask and scowling. She sets down whatever she happened to be working on and walks towards Pete and Impulse, scratching at her head with grease-stained hands.

"You're looking for Kitty? He's not here. He went out on his usual delivery runs and said he wouldn't be back til later tonight."

> Pete chuckles at the name Dusty bestowed on her friend. 'Kitty' seemed too funny to be cruel

| >>634311
"Well, that's unfortunate."
>Impulse said.
"Can I leave this with you?"
>He asked, taking out a package, and a note with an address on it.

| >>634396

> Dusty looks around at the shop. The two people at the entrance still hadn't said anything, nor had the people Pete said would help out with the job shown up yet either. She takes the package and shakes it, as if to try and figure out what is inside

"Well, we're still waiting on a group of wannabe deckers. If they don't show up, I'll deliver the damn thing myself with Pete"

"I guess I'm in this now. I'll take your new ride for a spin," replies Pete, nodding sagely

| >>633426

"Yo." >Caju approaches Pete, Janeiro hot on her heels.

"You guys got any..." >She pauses, remembering the name- like she hasn't been thinking about it for the past while.
"...Mugello parts? Those cars have been showing up at my shop with alarming frequency, and I don't have the parts for them..."

| >>635051

> Pete blinks a bit, as if trying to think. He looks over at Dusty who’s now set the box down, unable to figure out what it is.

“Dusty, do you have any parts for cars?”

> Dusty gives him a strange look, of which Pete knows exactly what she means by, followed by a flip of her hand

“She doesn’t got them pre-fabricated. But give her measurements and she can build just about anything so long as she got the material”

| >Impulse walks over to the desk with the "out on deliveries" sign.
"I'll just leave this here then."
>He said, putting the stuffs on the desk.

| >A tall and somewhat lanky man walks into the shop, a mask with an etched inverted triangle covering the entirety of his visage.
>Apart from his height and odd choice of atire, nothing about him stands out, almost as if something was preventing your brain from being concerned with his features
>He walks in large strides and arrives at the counter, politely waiting his turn to speak with Dusty

| >>635305

> Dusty nods, scratching her head some more.

"I'll pass on your message to Fox. He'll call you back or something.


> She turns to face the new person who came in. Pete is still with the others, so it's up to her.

"Who the hell are you? You look like some of the spooks back near San Fran."

> Dusty takes a more defensive stance, squaring herself up and standing as tall as she can. Even if it was only 5 feet tops, she still held an aura of strength around her

| >>635368
>The man raises his hands in a display of innocence

"Now, now, please don't get so violent, treat me as you would any other customer that comes here"

>He steps forward, dropping his hands down and instead pulling out a sealed envelope from his cargo pant's pocket

"I heard you had someone quite efficient here, and so I braved coming into town, it's been painful, but I know it will be worth it"

| >>635463

> Dusty takes the envelope and also gives it a shake, still hoping to uncover what it could be. This doesn’t exactly work either, so she just frowns and stares at it before looking back at the man

“Then you need Fox, too. Sadly, he’s out on deliveries. Unless you just want to leave this on his desk for when he gets back.”

> Dusty gives a shrug and pushes the envelope back at the man.

| >>635060

>Caju exhales.
"It was worth a try at least. You guys mind if we hang out here for a bit? Getting here was a bit of a walk and we'd like to rest some before we go."

| >>635757
"Well, that sounds like a reasonable offer"

>The man gets a piece of paper and a pen from his pockets and writes on it before passing it over, the paper reads "FOR ROY WALKER, FROM THE DEMIURGE"

"Leave this to your courrier"

| >>635836

> Pete chuckles and unfolds two chairs from a nearby, opened crate, setting them near the motorcycle frame he looks to be working on

"Feel free. I think there might be some drinks hidden somewhere around here. Between me and the little lady, we can also make the parts for you. It's not like she got better to do anywho. What're your names? People called me Pistol Pete back in the day. Y'all can call me that too"

| >>635850

> Dusty takes the paper and reads it. None of the names look familiar at all to her, and Pete isn't one to know either. She eyes the man suspiciously, pocketing the note

"Hey, this isn't anything illegal, right? Fox has a strict policy against that kind of stuff. If it is, then I could do it myself, but it'll cost you."

| >>635883
>The man chuckles

"Don't worry, it's a simple recipe I wanted the man to try out, I just happen to be against going too far into town, you never know these days as they say"

| >>635934

> Dusty nods, takes the envelope and throws it at Fox's desk. Despite her not looking, she manages to land it on the desk. Looks like she's pretty good with her aim.

"Well, then I guess it'll be on you if it turns out it's not. And his too. Whatever. Smoke?"

> Dusty fishes in a pocket for a pack of cigarettes and pulls one out with her teeth before placing the box in front of the man.

| >>635963
>The man politely declines with a raised hand

"No, smoking is bad for health after-all. plus most of the people I know hate the smell. I'm thankful for the offer though, Dusty. But I suppose I should go now that my business is over."

>He goes for the door with a wave... you never did tell him your name

| >>636020

> she shrugs and lights her cigarette while stowing her pack away. She takes a drag in and exhales it out as she speaks

“Well, sure. Suit yourself. Glad at least you know of me and my exploits before being told. Fox will ring you with details and shit like that.”

> she waves him away, taking the moment to walk over to Pistol Pete. She’s not sure about what’s going on, so she instinctively wraps herself around his left arm, taking care not to burn him with her cigarette

| > A purple-haired lady enters the chop shop, for what it is worth, the uniform she dons are of another settlement — with the chocolate accentuated with white, and a skirt that fills almost the entire length of her short legs.

"—I-is this it?"

> The name tag pinned to the left of her chest reads, "I am [Lucetta]!", quickly removing the need for self introduction. She peeks inside awkwardly, turning her head around to see the place.

| > The first thing anyone would notice from her isn't all of those descriptions. It's the huge rig that she wears on top of her head. A head-mounted display, with an appearance similar to a VR unit. It obscures the top of her face, with small cameras for eyes.

| >>635873

"Pistol Pete, huh?" >The green-haired Cat Boomer nods.
"Nice meetin' ya. I'm Caju, and this--" >She indicates her red-haired companion.
"--is my baby sister Janeiro."

| >>636139

> Pete adjusts his weight to make sure Dusty is more comfortable. They look like an odd pair, given the large height difference between them. Despite this, they look comfortable near each other.

"This is Dusty. Her's are the skilled hands that built those two motorcycles and is fixing mine up."

> He gives motions at the frame on the floor and notices the new person who just arrived. He nudges Dusty slightly.

"Oh, hey! Come on over here," says Dusty, motioning her over

| >>636175
> The small and slender figure approaches Dusty. Now that she is closer, the details on her are better drawn. The unit mounted on her head captures a big proportion up top, one can only wonder how heavy it is.

"H-hi. Do you… know where I can deliver this?"

> One of her hand lifts up to show the small package she has been carrying this whole time. A box, no bigger than seven inch, with an address taped messily over them.

| >>636187

> Dusty unlinks from Pete in a fluid movement. As she does this, she manages to slip her cigarette in between Pete's fingers, yet he doesn't mind. She looks at the package and then at the weird rig on the girl's head.

"Well, I'll give this to Fox too. I dunno where that kid went off to. But beyond that..."

> She takes the moment to examine the crazy rig on the girl's head

"What's up with that set up? I've never seen nothing like that"

| >>636214
> The address written on the package points to Chapel-3, with 'Kazuki Nakamura' as its recipient. Below that, 'From: Uni' is written.

| "Huh…? I… I don't know either."

> The unit has no indication that it is being powered externally, suggesting an internal battery. Despite being bulky in the front, only a single cable juts out — and it's a single charging cable.

"I presume it was installed before I awoke."

> She taps her face, or more accurately, the unit itself — as her fingers were interrupted three inches before they reach her face.

| >>636218

> Dusty looks over it all, as if trying to imagine what it must look like inside. She gives it a few taps and taps the cable a little bit. She's very into examining it

"Now this kind of set up would be nice for a helmet design, but it's not sleek enough. Also, I have no idea how it even slips on or off. And how would it work internally too... do you want to stay and maybe I get try getting that off your head to give it a closer peek under its casing?"

| >>636236
> If her eyes were to be seen, they would lit up in joy instantly. She puts a smile though, and that's all there is for her expression.

"I shall accept your offer then! I-if, if it's not too much to ask."

> The unit's material is mostly plastic, but it's unknown what it hosts inside. The cable tugs slightly into a component inside, it's not loose but it may be able to be pulled and torn apart easily.

| >>636240

"Wiz! Please have a seat then!"

> Dusty runs and grabs a chair, unfolding it in one motion and slamming it down in front of Lucetta

"I'll just have to grab some stuff real quick, give me a second"

> She walks over to the bench she was at and grabs various tools and her own motorcycle helmet. She makes her way back, setting down the things behind the chair

"I promise I'll do my best to not accidentally hurt you"

| >>636317
> She takes the chair as soon as it was offered. While she somewhat struggles with coordination, presumably due to the small field of view, she still manages to sit with proper posture — straightened, and refined.

"Today is… very strange for me."

> She chats while she waits for Dusty to dismantle the unit.

"I was woken to the sound of utensils, then I realised I was in a cafe, you see. I-I don't remember being there at all."

| >>636324
> Dusty gets to work, a set of flat steels in one hand and her other holding the helmet steady. She gently slides one after another until she finds the exact clearance she has to work with before she might hit skin

"That sounds like a very bad situation. Are you well? Do you need protection or something? Don't you work at the Anne?"

> As Dusty asks, she pockets her feeler gauges and starts going over the the helmet with a pen light, looking for a entry point to start

| >>636327
> The unit is made of three separate housing. Left, right, and front each — they're glued tightly, and there isn't any screws to let loose of them.

"I shall assure you, I will maintain my own safety."

> She says, but throws a light pause hearing the name 'Anne'.

"Anne? I… don't think that is the name of the publication I work at."

| >>636328
> Dusty pauses as she curses the fact there's no seams to exploit... yet.

"I thought I saw you at the Caramel Anne? I guess maybe it was the nametag or something. Give me one second, okay?"

> She runs off and comes back with a dremel and a small box along with it. She attaches a wire brush and gets to work finding where the seams were again.

"You'll hear a spinning thing, don't worry. I'm a professional"

| >>636330
"Huh… I don't ever recall meeting you in person before. I'm sorry. I'm usually very good at remembering. I don't know any place named Caramel Anne either."

> Despite saying this, she is wearing the uniform of said settlement. Her voice colours the confusion she has at the moment.

"And… I trust you with this device, Miss…"

> She fishes for a name, clearly not recognising Dusty still.

| >>636336

> Dusty carefully goes about brushing the first seam she finds. She hopes to get enough material off to at least know what she's having to deal with underneath. She takes pause at her name being unknown, especially after someone else did without having met before.

"It's uh... you can just call me Dusty. Try not to move right now, or else I might nail the old man in the face with this tool.:

> She snickers under her breath. 'Old man,' meaning Pete, in this case.

| >>636339
> The seams easily show what's underneath. Directly, a few circuit boards seem to be visible. Taking a dremmel here may damage something, if this to go by.

"Dusty. A strange name. Peculiar, even."

> She tries to control her breath to prevent herself from moving too much, calming herself in the process.

"I am Uni. It is my name, and what the people call me."

> In a calm voice she introduces herself as… not what the name tag says?

| >>636341
“Ah fuck. That’s a nonstarter. I need a new plan...”

> Dusty murmurs to herself as she turns off the dremel. That tech doesn’t look ramshackle like her own, so this has to be professionally made or something

“Between you and me, Dusty is just what everyone has called me since I was 13. But it’s what I chose to go by at the end. How did this set up even get on your dome? It’s sealed up nicely.”

> Dusty speaks normally now, even pulling at the charging cord again

| >>636540
> She initially wanted to perform a head shake, but remembering Dusty's warning earlier, stopped before she could finish.

"I don't know! I… must have gotten it before I woke up. Or someone did it for me. I-I don't remember…"

> Dusty can hear the sound of a loose charge controller board inside as she tugs on the cord. It's not obvious at first, but it does resonate within the unit's hollowness.

| >>636554

> Dusty pulls on the cable some more, trying to wiggle a feeler gauge in the slot to see the amount of 'play' she has to try and access a break in the helmet this way. Can't be anything important near... whatever this is connected to, right?"

"Well, that just gives me more of an incentive to get this off then, other than my own want to deconstruct this to see if it'll help my own HUD"

> Once she finds the right sizing, she attempts to widen the hold for the wire.

| >>636598
> Several millimetres, however as it was widened, a cracking sound can be heard and a seam forms with little resistance. The cable immediately comes loose, and with it are the charge controller, connected by a simple solder.

"I-I'll be indebted. I am neither fond of nor in favour of having a machine of this size installed on me."

| >>636599
"Okay, now I'm getting somewhere. Uhh... this might be a little late of a question, but is this thing like, keeping you alive or something? I probably should have asked that at the beginning."

> Dusty quits her pulling and pulls out a penlight to do her best to see inside the helmet to find something to maybe get it off more easily. If she was an actual electrical engineer, maybe she would know a little more. But she's not one to give up so easily

| >>636602
> It seems that the areas near the the charging cable are locked by plastic tabs. They aren't glued, which means a pulling should do a decent trick at uncovering it.

"I'm a fully breathing person! The last moment I can remember, I'm capable of living without a machine such as this."

> She says, somewhat proudly.

| >>636608
> Dusty grabs the wire with her off hand and holds Uni's head steady with her dominant. She gets herself ready.

"Well, that is highly reassuring, but maybe I should..."

> She loosens herself up and decides that maybe yanking on something that could be connected to a battery of sorts actually ISN'T a good idea. She repositions herself in front of the girl and does some frontal examination

"Hmm... What is it that you see right now? Check your peripheral vision, girl"

| >>636681
"I see you, and… a few of the things there."

> She points relative to the edges of her vision, but it was much shorter than anticipated.

"Everything is dim. Is it… are the lightbulbs off?"

| >>636685
> Dusty taps at what look like camera lenses to her. These got to be connected to something, right? The whole unit doesn't look like it's hardwired to her skull, but also it probably won't come off that easily, right?

"The lights aren't on really, but we're getting light from the outside. I think this thing might not be working properly then. Let me just..."

> She grabs the headset-looking device and pulls up, as if trying to brute force it off.

| >>636688
"Ow, not the eyes!"

> She flinches when her 'eyes' are tapped, but she didn't realise that no damage was done. No lens scratch that easily.

> As Dusty pulls up the device, it… easily removed itself? Several of its lock comes loose, releasing air as it does. However, with the removal of the device, Uni suddenly stayed quiet after sighing -- as if released a last breath.

> She still breathes. Slowly.

| >>636691
> Dusty definitely pulled up with too much force. The fact it easily removed itself meant that she got thrown off balance by her own force. She stumbles back, holding onto it so as not to break it.

"Oh. Well. What the fuck. I guess I'll have to patch these holes. I think I have some resin or something... but that's later. How the hell does this even function?

> She turns it over in her hands, all before remembering what she forgot

"Oh! Gods! Are you well? Did it hurt?"

| >>636698
> Once released from the grasp of the machine, Lucetta/Uni's face shows clearly. Strands of her hair falls down, giving the impression of a sleeping beauty.

> Her breaths are still controlled and steady, signifying the little damage Dusty's action has done to her.

| >>636700

"Oh... I guess... that's that. Better make sure she's at least somewhere safe. I'll be back, Pete"

> Dusty sets the helmet down on her workbench and goes back to pick the girl up. She doesn't have to strain herself much to carry her over to Dusty's room. It looks fairly plain, with some locked chests. Dusty sets down Uni on her bed and makes sure the helmet on her desk is keeping an eye on her. She also double checks to make sure the feed is live before returning

| >>636703
> There is no feed being displayed. In fact, the camera has no displays that it can ever show to its user. It has no means of output, save for a single metallic plate that rests in the very centre of the unit -- which anyone can doubt to be some means of input or output.

| >>636707

> Dusty checks her phone, only to see no feed from her helmet's red-eye cam. Guess she forgot to charge it. Look back at the VR headset-thing, it also had no way to display a feed. She figured that putting it on might be a shot, but that'll be a last ditch effort to figure it out.

"Hey sweetie, put all my appointments on hold. Thanks!"

> She calls this out to Pete, who chuckles at her antics. Dusty gets to work trying to find a new way into the set from the 'inside'

| >>636968
> Analysing the device further, aside from the charging port that peeks out, it has very little interface to go through. Although, after being removed from its wearer, Dusty will be able to notice a single, secure DIP switch at the area that interlocks with the occipital region.

> The switch has a word 'RELEASE' laid on top of it, and it is secured with a single screw.

| >>636969


> Dusty eyes it around, hoping to find something else to maybe help her. A release switch on the INSIDE wouldn't be much help, right? She knew not to trust hitting that just yet without knowing what it could do. Her mind instantly leapt to the false starter on her bike.

"I wish i knew what I was really doing right about now. Couldn't hurt to try it, I guess."

> She pulls a screwdriver out and hits the switch, getting ready to throw the helmet if needed

| >>636972
> After turning the switch, the metal plate inside the unit, placed exactly where the crown of the head would be, pushes itself downwards. Through the release of its static pressure, the plate drops down, and what's shown in its place is a chipset of some kind.

> The chip is in dull silver, not at all shining at the moment. On its surface, the word 'UN-001' is grafted with clear precision.

| >>636976
"Oh fuck"

> Dusty has now realized that she's a little in over her head and quickly gets to patching the helmet back to its former state before she attempted to pry it open. Putting it on now seemed like a worse idea than before. She gets it back all fixed up and sets it back down. For extra protection, she even throws a rag over the cameras. Smooth. She pokes her head through her door to deliver the news.

"Hey uh, It's back in one piece. It's waiting there for you, Uni"

| >>636981
> The sleeping beauty has long awakened. She is still in a state of daze, and is currently looking at her hands in a very bewildered manner. She closes each digits one by one, then simultaneously.

> Her eyes met Dusty as soon as she finishes her sentence.

"Where am I?"

| >>636983
>Oh, right. Dusty better do that explanation in a way that doesn't make her look like a total creep

"Um... you're in the corner of the warehouse I call my bedroom. You fell asleep after I took that helmet looking thing off your head. I can't figure out how it works so I stopped before I might have broken it for real. Do you need water or anything?"

> She spoke softer than normal, hoping not to worry who she assumed was a young girl

| >>637095
> She gave a blank and empty stare after hearing the explanation. Her eyes wander through the room, not stopping at any particular interest -- they then drop low, keeping her attention back to her arms.

"These are… my hands."

> She squints at them and began moving them. Swoosh. Swish.

"Ray, can you pass me the overwriter again? I'll retry one more time."

> The way she said the sentence is flat, lifeless. It's almost like she is repeating it, or has been repeating it.

| >>637102

> Dusty blinks a few times and comes in the room fully. She looks more confused than anything.

"Dude, my name is Dusty. I don't know any Rays who live in the Motor. Or anywhere, for that matter. Are you concussed or something? Is that what the helmet's for?

> How she conflated those two different things to be related is anyone's guess. But she was concerned, even if it was more for her own safety

| >>637111
> It seems clear now that she is not even listening to Dusty -- or rather, it's more the case of her still stuck in some hallucination, entrapping even her senses in her own world.

"I'll leave the cafe to you."

> She says again in a deadpan voice, before trying to reach into a nonexistent object besides her. This sends her into a panic -- and ultimately, wakes her of the dream world.

"Wh—Wha?! Where is—?!"

> There's life in her voice now. More so than before.

| >>637112

> Dusty expression changes yet again to something more flat, as if she's seen this exact thing before and has dealt with it in the past.

"Oh. You're sleeptalking and shit. Gods, Pete would pull that too. Let me just give you the important stuff: You wanted a delivery, I pulled your helmet off and you fell asleep. That's basically what happened, in case you forgot or something."

> She rubbed one of her temples with grease-stained hands, leaving a black mark on her face

| >>637113
"Sorry. That wasn't me--"

> She jumps from the bed, only to slip and fall. None of her legs are even coordinating properly when she executed the plan. A loud thud is made afterwards, not surprising anyone.

"--I don't expect to be here. And I don't expect to be doing any deliveries. Have you made sure it's not a bomb—?"

| >>637114

"It wasn't you and you think it could be a bomb, eh? Well, I think I have something for that. Give me a second..."

> She walks over to one of the locked chests and opens it, pulling out a pink shotgun and a few shotgun shells. She calmly loads as she explains her plan

"See, that was what I thought too, and now I really don't want that thing to go off in the event that it is. So you better tell me what's going on before I hand it back to you as scrap metal"

| >>637115
> Lucetta did not expect the shotgun. Not in pink. Not in form. Not in reality. Her eyes opens wider now.

"It's an—!"

> She bit her tongue in panic, making a relatively loud 'Ouch!' as soon as it happened.

"It's… it's a… memory overwriter unit."

> Her voice tones down, both in volume and in vigor. The moment she reaches the word 'memory overwriter', she lowers her head, as if hiding her shame -- or other emotions she prefer not to show at the moment.

| >>637116
> Dusty gives a sigh of relief and uncaps the shotgun, shaking out the shells she loaded into her offhand. She pockets them and tosses the shotgun back into the still open chest.

"Thank GODS because I really did not want to try and shoot at something to make it stop exploding again. It's already stressful enough to deal with them. I'll just erm... get the thing back to you. I fixed the holes I made in it too."

> She quickly grabs the headset and tosses it back to Uni

| >>637117
> The toss admirably made to be a difficult catch as she was unable to properly handle her hand-eye coordination. While she didn't drop it, it had her sliding on the floor to prevent it from hammering itself to the floor.

> She didn't check its condition nor the holes Dusty made. She only gave it a depressed look, then hugs the machine with her.

"I'm sorry."

> It's unknown whom she is speaking to, but the voice was muffled under her hug.

| >>637118

> Dusty scratches her head, confused at the whole situation. She figures the girl should have picked herself back up by now, so she walks over and extends her arm to help

“It’s fine, you’re fine. Need an arm up? You can like, get your bearings here if you want”

> Dusty spoke as if she knew the situation that Uni was in, even if she probably didn’t exactly know.”

| >>637307
> She peeked up, finding the arm Dusty offered. Her eyes are close to being puffy, with drops of tears starting to well.

> She didn't say a word. Her lips quiver at this, the moment she accepted Dusty's help.

| >>637318
> Dusty grabs her arm and gives a nice tug, launching the girl up and into her chest. Dusty wasn't expecting to use so much strength, so she braces Uni with her free hand to help her stay standing up.

"You good? Like I said, you can stay in my room if you need to, okay? We got the big guy out there in case we need him too. Are you going to be okay?"

> As she talks, Dusty slowly eases her back to sitting on her bed. Such a far cry from her usual, standoffish self

| >>637347
> She accepts the embrace easily. Her legs wobble, almost making her fall. The nary strength left on her limbs has long since succumbed to the sensation of atrophy.

"I'm sorry!"

> She says again. It's clear that those weren't words of apology. She repeats it over and over again as tears drip down and her milky white cheeks become endowed with bright, meek peach.

> Moments later, she has become too weak to react to anything. Her malnutrition and insomnia is apparent now.

| >>637356

> Dusty helps the girl sit down more comfortably on the bed and gives another sigh. How did this happen to be her afternoon? What could she give to help out. She knew that looks had to at least be partially from hunger. She digs around her stuff and finds a spare CalorieMate and a can of Hassy and hands them over

“It’s not much but here’s this? I’ve been in the whole ‘vagrant looking for food for days on end’ so don’t worry about it.”

| >>637459
> The sight of food would have made one happy, but she puts a hand, rejecting them.

"Where am I? What was she doing taking me here?"

> She appraises the room, then Dusty herself. Somehow, meeting Dusty made her eyes widen, but they retracted to a tired position once she realises who Dusty is.

| >>637461
> Dusty pushes back, keeping her eyes steady just like Pete taught her.

"You're in my room of the Chop Shop, which is also where me and Fox live. You look like you haven't eaten in at least a day. Eat the caloriemate, it will help take some of the edge off."

> Some of the mellowness in her voice had faded, but it was apparent it was more out of genuine concern and not something harsh or cruel

| >>637464
"I haven't?"

> The sentence Dusty said only confirmed one thing for her: she has no recollection over the past few days. This, this surprised her -- enough for her to make a denial.

"I… haven't ate? Today is—"

> The date she had given is off by four days from the current time. Not to mention that she mistook the time as 'early morning' despite signs showing to be otherwise.

| >>637465
> Dusty frowns and stares at Uni/Lucetta more intensely

"No, you look like you haven't eaten a thing. I know that look and feel too well, kid. It's also Monday. Like it's been all day. Eat the food. It's not poisoned or anything, or I have maybe something else hidden away in here? I don't remember.

> She has now lost her train of thought momentarily, trying to remember what she has tucked away for snacks and other quick bites

| >>637468
"I don't want to owe you anything. I'll just go back home. Thanks for everything. I'll treat you one again in the Anne."

> Seeing Dusty hand her food has made her feel a lot worse, mentally. Her frail body was able to move once she has awakened for more than five minutes -- but there is still signs of her teetering when she tries to stand.

> Even with all her might, she can't produce the force to lift herself up, let alone walk.

| >>637471

> Dusty cracks a wry smile at Lucetta's words. Didn't she say that once too? To a certain geezer sitting in the other room? It all seemed just too familiar

"Look, don't think of it as owing me a debt or whatever. This is a gift from one former, scared girl to another. Better to save your strength for a later fight down the road, because I don't think you'll make it to a subway in your state right now."

| >>637478
> Lucetta looks at the head unit she wore again. In her state, of course she is far too weak to do anything. Hearing Dusty's word has made her further reject reality as is.

"Don't say that to me. The world doesn't work when there's nothing to pay."

> She looks at the CalorieMate, picking it up and opening its wrapper.

"I don't like it when I work people for free."

| >>637480
> This girl was really pushy, wasn't she? She makes the note to apologize to Pete later on. Maybe this is what he had to deal with

"You're right. I don't like it either. But this ain't work for me. If you had taken a slug and I was playing doctor, then it would be work. Take your time and I can drop you off later. It's not like anything else is going to happen today, I think. It'll also give me a chance to go out in the Albatross again, so I'll get something out of it"

| >>637482
"I can call my servants here. Really, don't bother yourself."

> Lucetta pushes even more. The CalorieMate is now being nibbled, those little bites slowly help her regain a rigid common sense.

"Hell, you were kind enough to help her."

| >>637517
> She really is pushing back hard, which is only making Dusty want to push back harder. It's not like this isn't a tactic that she's tried in the past before. Lucetta might have bitten off more than she could chew.

"You need to have a leg up on me in order to boss me around. I'm the one with some position over you right now. I'm not asking if I can do these things, am I?"

> She crosses her arms and takes a more defensive stance now, squaring up to show her seriousness

| >>637521
> Lucetta's hand rises, then shows she is incapable even for a slap, landing on Dusty's face more as a caressing swipe.

"You weren't, but just leave me to my damned care alone. I'm not disabled."

> She scoots over, finally having the energy to stand up a little. Her legs are still giving in, and the two steps she made were by the very least weak and silent.

| >>637525
> Dusty is as unflinching as ever. She keeps her gaze steady, as if she's been practicing this exact stand off for a while now... which would be true, in a sense.

"You're right. But I'm still not moving. That asshole out there didn't let me go and so I won't let you go either. So deal with it, okay? It's not like I'm fond of this either, but I ain't gonna let you wander out in the Motor District"

> So steadfast and motherly... or was it something else entirely?

| >>637555
"Just… stop. I don't hate you. I don't hate your attitude, just… stop. I want a time alone—"

> She says, right before she collapsed again. She squirms on the floor, now showing a laboured breathing and her hands began spasming, irritably twitching regardless of her actions.

| >>637558

> Dusty gives a rough grunt and picks her up, setting her back down on the bed. She turns around and grabs her helmet and relocks the chest she previously opened.

"That's fine by me. You can stay here until you're back up to fight. Until then, you can just rest. It's not like me or Pete are going to give you shit. Hell, the Old Man might give you candy if you ask nicely enough.

> Laying down her law. It did feel odd, but also made Dusty feel important in a way

| >>637565
> Lucetta's breaths are warm and feverish. It's not known whether she listened or not, but she nodded along the words Dusty said.

> The head unit she held close to her are with her, in a grasp between her arms. In between her slow, long-drawn breaths, she decided to hug it closer -- somehow forcing its safety mechanisms to unlock.

"I hate… myself… I'm sorry…"

> She lifts the unit, and locks it back to her head, forcing it to boot back.

| >>637571

"Join the club. At least you won't be alone in there. If that thing will blank your memories of the last half hour, just know I won't explain things a third time, got it?"

> Dusty rolls the helmet in her hands, trying to see what her next course of action should be. This has all been something that was WAY out of her normal.

"Am I going to have to take you home or no? That's the real question I have left."

| >>637578
> Lucetta shook her head, before her body relaxes and loses all meaning of motion. She goes back to a trance, and her breathing slows, less nervous and panicking.

> There is a beep from the unit. It's faint, but it screeches from a small speaker.

| >>637581
> Dusty doesn't notice the noises. She instead opts to put on her own helmet to ensure it's still working. As she slides it on, she realises that she really did let it go without charging.

"Oh, that's a load of shit. Whatever. Hey, Luc-Uni. Are you back with us again? Do you need more food or anything?"

> She turns to face the girl once more. Her helmet has its visor flipped down, giving Dusty an odd look as if she was missing a thing or two to complete her ensemble.

| >>637583
> The unit stopped making noises, as soon as it did, Lucetta rises from her sleep. She scratches her head, and loses awareness of the head unit strapped to her.

"I—I… is this—?"

> She looks around her, spotting Dusty immediately. She didn't seem to have heard her words before.

"G-good morning."

> The chuckle she made is the complete opposite of her attitude before.

| >>637586
> Dusty rolls her eyes, even if it can be seen normally through her flipped down visor. Her voice is slightly muffled by the helmet's padding as she speaks

"Dude, it's like the middle of the day. You gave me a card for someone. Do you want a ride home"

> She rattled this off like a list. And so much for not repeating herself a third time.

| >>637589
"That will be marvellous—"

> She gave Dusty a gentle smile, ignoring the tone she had used to reply to her. Her voice is subtly calmer and more composed.

"—Ah… I see the device is still with me. Have you found any difficulties in its removal?"

| >>637601

> Dusty pulls off her helmet and plugs it into the wall to get it charging. She gives a long laboured sigh, as if suppressing the urge to scream, before answering

"Yeah, yeah you could fuckin' say that there were some difficulties in its removal. The tech is proprietary so I can't do anything with it. Stay here and rest up. Finish up that snack and hassy. I'll be doing diagnostics on the Albatross"

> This has really been a test of patience for Dusty, what she lacks most

| >>637757
> It seems that, for whatever reason, Uni has long since consumed the CalorieMate and is on her way to open the Hassy. With the head unit, neither her weakness nor her lack of sleep was apparent. Rather, it's almost as though they weren't there.

"Pardon. It is unbecoming of me—… to have eaten what I held, despite oblivious to whom it belonged to."

> The Hassy opens slowly.

"Yet, I cannot help but think these were given to me; and it will be callous to not consume them."

| >>637761
“ I gave them to you. You were lookin’ like You hadn’t eaten anything in a while. Just rest up in my bed okay? Probably should have given you something healthier but that’s all I got in here. Unless you like smoking”

> Odd of her to mention those, but whatever, she thought. The weird part was now over.

“So yeah. I’ll go check on my baby and make sure she’s set to carry. Might take off the armor plating for this ride too”

| >>637766
"These are enough. I am not fond of smoking for myself… and I expect nothing as a guest. As an intruding guest, I express a great pleasure when treated this way."

> She smiles. The Hassy in her hand still contains most of its volume, but Uni is taking a sip of it every now and then. It's better than nothing.

"Please don't mind me. I will be here to meditate on my thoughts. Today has been… disorderly, for myself."

| >>637767
> Dusty looks up and inhales deep, exhaling out slowly. It almost seems like she's doing this instead of screaming "YEAH, YOU FUCKING THINK SO? DO YOU?"

"You got it. Just yell if you need me or Pete. Don't try to mess with the locks on the safes or they'll spray you with something foul.

> She is maintaining her composure surprisingly well. When all this is over, she decides, she's going to stop and get Pete a bottle of real whiskey as an apology.

| >>637860
"T-thank you. If by some chances I become a burden for you, I shall leave by my own accords."

> Uni stayed modestly silent afterwards. She stares at the room… or whatever close equivalent is to having the cameras do it for her.

| >>637862
> Dusty spins around and makes her way back to the floor of the warehouse, breathing and reminding herself that Lucetta's probably significantly younger than Dusty is, so it's fine. It's fine.

"Okay, this is the last time I play secretary for kitty, I swear to Gods."

> She speaks this out into open air, hoping Fox could hear him. She takes a seat at her bike and turns it on to check its systems. Despite its size, it purrs like a big cat; nothing like its namesake

| >>637864
> Inside the room, Uni hops from the bed. The control she exerts over her muscle has significantly improved, and she moves the body with certain confidence.

"I'm… shorter."

> Only now did she notice this changed point-of-view. Looking down, even a great deal of her has changed. It takes her a moment to realise this too.

"What is this blasphemy?"

| >>637872
> Dusty can’t hear anything inside the room, and she’s glad for it. Working on her baby is a way that she calms down anyway.

> The systems all look green across the board, save for the load capacity. She smirks and undoes the explosive bolts for the armor plating. They slide off the bike with loud thuds. She dismounts and carries them off to a corner of her little shop with minimal effort.

“Time to make a quick seat out of this older one I guess,” She mumbles to herself

| >>637931
> As Dusty is working through her ride, there isn't anything much that Uni can do without disturbing anyone or anything. The first few things she did have been done; namely, checking whether she is hallucinating or her eyes are showing a different reality.

> She isn't, and they weren't.

> This fact sends her back to the bed, whereby she stayed silent and quiet, analysing this new situation more and more in her mind.

| >>637933
> Dusty manages to find an old cushion and quickly mounts it to the Albatross. Might be a little cramped, but that's fine. It's not like the ride should take long anyway. Plus, the ride would be relatively comfortable anyway. It's not like she didn't trick it our for no reason.

"Hey, Pete, do you need anything? I might be leaving in a little bit so like, I can pick something up. I mean, I will anyway, but, y'know."

"Naw, I should be fine. You're something else, Dani."

| >>637942
> A single red SUV passes by the shop. Stopping by nearly after it had completely went out of sight. From there, a man with a prim jet black hair paces out from the car. He wears an entire befitting of the job 'white collar office worker' -- complete with the tie and such. Entering the shop, he has nothing to deliver.


> He greets whomever is in the room. His eyes are darting around the room, searching for something- or someone.

| >the sound of a motorcycle breaking can be heard outside, shortly there after another girl Walks in while undoing the straps of her motorcycle helmet
>She is wearing a skin tight purple and black leather motorcycle jumpsuit

>making her way to any counter or employee the helmet finally comes off revealing long deep purple hair tied in a pony tail
>behind that calm and collected facad in the deep blue twin seas of her eyes, a glint of excitement is tucked away

| >>637961

> Dusty doesn't seem to notice the man. She's too focused on making sure her bike looks good. Pete, however, does. He slowly stands up, still lazily smoking the cigarette Dusty had given him. He makes his way over, trying his best to not seem intimidating

"Hey partner, looking for something?"

> Despite his frame, he spoke softly. Really shooting for the "harmless" angle, it seemed

| >>638099

> Hearing the motorcycle DID manage to catch Dusty's attention. She picks her head up from seat she finished setting into place and scans the new person who had just come in. Something in her gut said to be careful, so she walks over to the Kingfisher and gets herself ready to quickdraw, though there really should be no need

"Hey, girly, what do you want? If its parts for a race, you can leave now. The last asshole ran on the bill and blew up the bike in an accident."

| >>638288
"I am, actually. Do you really happen to see a girl. She is... This short and has a big machine on her head?"

> The man describes what seems to be who Dusty took to her room, even going as far as putting the height difference down with a gesture.

| >>638302

> Ah. That had to be the girl Dusty took to her room. Pete laughs and pats the man on his shoulder. He flicks the cigarette at a wayward trashcan and motions to be followed.

"Yeah, I saw all that. She should be in Dusty's little room. Just come with me so she isn't too scared. I couldn't hear all that was going on, but Dani seemed incredibly pissed."

> Pete walked over and gently opened the door.

" S'cuse us, little miss. This man is looking for you. You know him?"

| >>638307
> Uni has long turned her head towards the door before seeing it open. As the man and Pete reveals themselves, she can only recognise one, even from the bed she is sitting on.

"Pardon me. I have no recollection of ever meeting you."

> She says to the newcomer. Beneath the head unit, it's obvious that she is squinting in doubt of this man's claims.

"Alas, I have no recollection of many things. Should it be pertinent, have we ever met once in our lives?"

| >>638308

> Pete bows his head slightly, taking a step inside.

"I'm Pete. I'm Dusty's partner, was outside when you walked in to the warehouse. It's fine. This man is looking for you. If you don't know him or think he's a threat..."

> His voice trails slightly and he cracks his knuckles. He also squares himself up like Dusty did prior.

"If he is a threat, I can show him the door"

| >>638310
"Wait, wait! I have an ID."

> Arguably, he panics over this gesture Pete is doing. Being inches shorter than Pete doesn't help.

"Sora. Co-worker of that girl. I'm sure you have seen me in the cafe once."

> He shows his name tag, right after shuffling his pockets.

"I'm here to pick her up. Her emergency signal notified me a good five minutes ago."

| > Uni's pose become slightly more defensive. With it, she is warding off Sora before he can speak any further.

"You speak in jest, but I neither know nor remember you."

> Her reply surprised Sora. Has she finally gone insane?

"Uh… boss? It's me! Stop talking like that and let's go back home!"

> He insists on this, leaving Uni to keep her guard.

| >>638315

> Pete furrows his brow and scratches at his imaginary beard. He's not sure who he has to believe or can believe. He decides to take a step back and watch what can unfold.

"She did come in seeming like she was off. Maybe you stole this ID from the real person. How do I know you're who you say you are, punk?"

> Pete seemed more than ready to have to use force in order to protect Lucetta

| >>638323
"BOSS! Come on now, man. Ray just beat me up over nothing and now you too?! Damn it, just unleash me already!"

> Sora has no other defence. Or can't think of any. He reaches for anything he can use as a proof, other than the flimsy ID issued by the cafe.

"Do not speak lies to me, stranger! If I had known you, I will have you treated the best I know of."

> Behind, Uni insists on her stance. She is not going to accept a stranger pretending to know her.

| >>638327

> Pete now puts one of his hands on Sora's shoulder. He gives a leer but doesn't yet use any force. It's clear he doesn't want to use force just yet, but is also ready to take more than a punch if it came to it.

"You were at that Cafe I reunited with Dani at, right? The girl don't look familiar to me, so I only am half inclined to believe you. What did you say about a distress signal?"

> His low voice sounded even lower, but he really didn't want to scare Lucetta either

| >>638338
"Y-yes. Caramel Anne. I'm the waiter and barista and really someone who gets busy and-... And she's my boss. She's the waitress that. God, what did she do again?"

> Sora clicks his fingers a few times, making a snap or two. His voice is shaking from Pete's presence.

"She made a cake! Yeah. She did that. She gave you the cake for free because Valentine's."

| >>638339

> It all slowly came back together... although maybe not in the correct form

"A cake... did she think that me and Dusty...?

> It had seemed he had forgotten what February 14 was, alongside his closest friend's birthday. This revelation caused Pete to start laughing loudly, even causing Dusty to groan upon hearing it.

"Ah!! Yes! Okay! I think I remember now. Just so you two know though, me and Dusty aren't like that"

| >>638340
"Totally! Didn't think that one at all. Don't worry. No sweat. So, can I—... Can I get my boss back?"

> His statement made Uni stand up, and glare at him. At least, that's what she wanted to do behind that unit. With cameras as her eyes, it is difficult to tell.

"Please halt this misidentification. I do not wish to disillusion you, but I am neither your boss nor anyone you are familiar with. I am Uni, and that is what you will refer to me."

| >>638343

> Pete scanned both of them intensely, trying to gather up any more information on their appearance to help figure out what he should do in terms of action. And that's when he spots it.

"Excuse me little miss, but your nametag says Lucetta. Do I gotta take you to a hospital? Are you feeling well?"

| >>638346

> Uni stares with daze upon the mention of the name. She peeks down, finding a single nametag that she hadn't checked; her slender hands approach closer to it, unpinning it to reveal the letters written, "I am [Lucetta]!"


> She is struck with identity crisis now, frozen in place as Sora pushed past to get to her.

"Hey, Uni was it? Listen… okay, I may have mistaken you—"

> He reaches for the nametag in her hands and flung it out from her view.

| >>638301
"Oh no nothing like that.
I just needed some new parts to service my bike, its about time i replaced some stuff. Its about the time for it"
>she stretches her back a bit and cracks her, somewhat weary from whatever happening she was about before coming here
"But i ain't exactly from here so i don't really know any shops. Kinda just drove around till i found this place! Seems like quality."
>she giggles

| >>638348
"It's okay. Now, can you tell me any identity you remember? Any other memories aside from your name?"

> Sora's panic was different from before. He is calm and collected now, but there is still a sparse quality of expected fear in his voice.

"I… I remember Kazuki… and—"

> She tries her best, her hands clenchef trying to hold some kind of pain.

"Don't force yourself. I'll stay here to monitor you, okay? You're not my boss, don't worry. I forgot how she looks."

| >>638352

> Pete gives them both a look and hangs further back, taking a seat on one of the locked chests Dusty has strewn about her room. He points to Sora and searches his pockets for a cigarette

"So, I'm guessing you two have some sort of history together, eh? What's the deal with that crazy looking headset she got on, hotshot?"

> He seemed to be as lost as Sora was, but now trusting of him for acting so quickly and rationally.

| >>638349

> Dusty relaxes her stance, now leaning playfully on the seat of her custom cafe racer. She cracks a smile as she pulls out a wrench to spin in her hand.

"Well, now you're speaking my language. Don't got no pre-fab parts on hand, but give me what you're working with and I thinkin' I could fix something up for you right quick."

> As she finishes her little promotion, she silently curses herself for talking like she used to back in the day

| >>638357
"Sort of. Is this room soundproof? Or… is there anyone aside from us listening now?"

> Sora pats Uni on the back, then takes her slowly to the bed again. Still shaken, Uni's petite body was easily carried even by Sora's noodle arms.

"Didn't expect her to escape here."

| >>638359

> Pete whips his phone out to see if there was anything around them. The only signal he was receiving was from the Red-eye in Dusty's helmet, which was pointed at her bikes.

"Naw, we should be safe. Dunno how well these walls are soundproofed. I wouldn't bet yer hide on them though. Knowin' Dusty, we should best be keepin safe."

> He gave the closest wall to him a tap, frowning at the structural safety of them

| >>638358
>her eyes glow purple??!? And she cracks a excited smile
"I need new cylinders and pistons for a inline-triple and some springs for suspension to replace my old one.
I also need a new brake cap and fluid and although it hurts me to say it, a new final drive altogether"
>she lists it all out with a fervour in her eyes and a mania in her voice! It was almost hard to get all of it with how excited she was
"Can ya get it done chief?!?"

| >>638362

> Dusty takes mental stock of what she has on hand and the amount of time it would take to fabricate everything. She inhales deep and walks over to this mysterious woman.

"Okay look: I'm gonna be real here. I need measurements of your current set-up as well as preferred tolerance on all the fitting of the parts. And it's not going to be cheap. At all. You're looking at like, a ballpark of 15 thou zenny."

| >>638363
"Here ill pay upfront"
>she hands over a credstick. A quick scan shows it has 25k! Waow
"Where Should i bring my bike in?"
>she inhales deeply, quelling the excitement as it gets down to the sickness er...i mean business

| >>638364

> Dusty's eyes narrow in shock. Why is her danger sense pinging and why does she feel the need to take cover? She snatches the credstick and quickly charges it to a tablet mounted near the Kingfisher. It goes through clean and she drops her shoulders in relief.

"You can put it behind the Black Egret, that frame just behind me. It's the current project I'm working on for my partner. We need it done first, so, you better have some paciencia."

| >>638365
"aye aye chief"
>she heads outside, then slowly walks her bike in
>wonder what the insides look like..?

| >>638366

> Dusty scans the bike over. She doesn't think much of it. Just another toy for someone with too much money. Hell, she figures she could probably lift it if she tried hard enough.

"When will you need this back exactly? The Egret's a real piece of work and his dampeners aren't exactly mil-spec. You're looking at a week of your bike being here, y'know."

> As Dusty speaks, she moves back towards the bike frame, easily lifting its engine and setting it into place

| >>638369
"Alrighty then. Ill leave it to you chief."
>she looks around
"Soo uhh..should i go now or am i supposed to sign some stuff?"

| >>638361
"Then… I'll just say that I am Lucetta's aide. I assist her in her current project -- transformation of cognitive functions through signal alteration. This-"

> He points, or tries to, before realising Uni has been staring at him, giving him an 'Eep!' moment.

"Rehearse after me. What is it that I am now?"

> The voice Uni used is different from her usual manner. It was an emotion she hasn't shown before: anger.

"What vile person has violated my very being?"

| "No, no, we didn't do any-"

> Sora tries his best to keep Uni in the bed, only for her to easy tackle him to the ground with a low kick to his knee.

"Answer, mongrel. What alterations have you made, to me and the body I remember well now?"

> Her aggression has taken over the confusion from before.

"We didn't do anything to your body!"

> The fallen Sora says, while covering his face with the two of his hands.

| >>638393

> Pete sighs and picks both of them up, much in the same way one would pull apart two fighting puppies. Thanks to his large frame, he can easily hold them away from each other. He slowly sets Sora back on his feet. He keeps Lucetta in his right hand and shoots her a leer too.

"Hey, if anyone is gonna get physical, it's either going to be me or against me. And I gots a rule that I don't hit the defenseless. So now, I'm gonna set you down and you'll cool it, got it?"

| >>638371

> Dusty blinks a bit and wonders what she could mean by signing something. It's a chop shop, right?

"Uh... I mean you can sign like... I dunno. An I.O.U slip so I don't forget to finish this? When did you need this back, anyway. I might have some spare parts lying around so like, give me a week? Assuming my plans don't explode again."

| >>638771
> Receiving the support, Sora stood up. Uni keeps her daggers of stare pinned to Sora. The more of this is starting to put a toll on her.

"Uni, I swear boss only wanted to help you!"

> With wavering voice, Sora slipped his words again.

"Help?! You dare say that word to me, you insolen—"


> Sora has lost it. That, or he figured a way to counter Uni's word barrage. This seems to put her into silence, however.

| >>638814

> He pushes Sora aside and opens one of the shipping crates that Dusty seems to be using as an end table for her bed. He effortlessly takes off the lid and gently sets down Uni inside, relidding it and taking a perch atop it. It's worked in the past before for him.

"Okay, what's her deal, kid? She ain't acting any kind of normal, and you two staring each other down is only making things worse."

| >>638845
"Ever heard of memory interference?"

> Sora wanted to take a seat somewhere, but figured the etiquette involved would net him a lot of hassle. Instead, he let himself rest slouched against the nearby wall.

"The one you locked is my boss-"

> He searches around for something, then crouches when he found it, standing only after dusting off the item -- the nametag -- and reads the text aloud.

"Lucetta. Sure as hell you know her."

| "The head gear is a memory interference unit. Basically, something that changes her memory to something or someone else's."

> He pockets the nametag to his suit's left-hand pocket. He sighs as he can hear Uni struggling inside, shouting incoherent sentences.

"It was meant for someone else but she had to fast track it. Don't know why. Don't care enough."

| >>638851
> Pete goes back to scratching his invisible beard.

"Memory interference, eh? I don't know nuthin' 'bout that. Seems like she's not taking to well to it. Maybe she needs some more time with it? All I know is how to fix things and shoot people though. Ain't like I'd be help for you right now. How long do you think she'll take 'til she cools off?"

> He finally produces an electronic cigar from a pocket and puffs on it. He even offers it to Sora for a drag.

| >>638852
"Thanks. I've got my own."

> Sora rejected the offer politely, taking the chance to light up his own instead. The smoke is to be expected from this gathering.

"See… she's not even herself. How the hell do I put it… she's lending her body for someone else to use? Does that make any sense for you?"

| >>638862

"Uh Huh... I think I get it... That's very strange. Almost seems cruel, but what do I even know."

> He gives a few taps on the box and gets off of it. He lifts the lid up and peeks inside

"How you doin' in there? Can you come out now without wanting to attack someone?"

| >>638773
"Oh no. Usually i have to sign something for the motorcycle parts. Keep it on record or whatever...sorry"
>she puts her hands behind her head and leans it back a bit, some sort of attempt to relax even when standing
"I still gotta go help reply a dummies guitar so uhhh..oh wait"
>she gets a little piece of scrap paper and quickly jolts down a phone number
"Take all the time you need! Quality takes effort after all yeah?"

| >>638872
> Oh, they're one of *those* motorcycle enthusiasts. At least that's what Dusty figured. Only someone who knew what was good would know that most shops are just good for flash

"Aye. Just give me a second, because, like I said, last time... that stupid asshole..."

> Her voice trails slightly as she remembers the guy who ran out on her. She then dials the number given to her to make sure it's a real one

| >>638875
>her eyes glow purple as you make the call and she swipes her hand through the air
>the call connects!
"Testing 123.">she says
>"testing 123" the phone replies!
>ahh she must have one of those AR contact lenses or whatever

| >>638871
"I was… I don't know why I acted inimically. What was I—?"

> Uni, aside from cramped by being insidr a box, starts to relieve back to her previous self. She is stable, at least, that's what she shows.

"Whatever. You're fine now, right, Uni?"

> Sora puffed another before setting down, not wanting to at all assume whether Uni is the type to mind people smoke

"I need to make sure boss isn't harmed either."

| >>638871
"If this is cruel, wait until you hear that this is a dead persona."

> His face became grim upon seeing Uni -- or his boss, rather.

"It's like seeing into some kind of wicked ritual to revive the dead. What was she thinking--"

| >>638877

>Oh Gods, not ANOTHER AR setup. But it's okay Dani, you can't remove this one to examine, she thinks to herself. She gives a sigh of relief and hangs up, pocketing her phone.

"Okay, cool. I'll get your bike back to you as quick as I can. Might even fine tune it if I feel like it."

> She gives a noncommittal kind of shrug, but her grease-stained face and overalls showed she was serious about it all.

| >>638899
"Hey can we go yet!?"
>a boy with brown hair wearing a interesting headset and a blue jacket peeks in

"We're finishing up!"
>the girl responds

"Hurry up daylights burning"

"Yeah yeah dont rush me! Why did i even take you here?!?"

"You broke my guitar you fucking waffle addict!"

>they go back and forth

>its almost kinda entertaining watching them go at it

| >>638882

> Pete's eyes narrow at Sora. Whatever it was he was talking about didn't sit well with the old biker.

"I think I get you now. Sounds like you at least got some sense in you."

> Dusty picks Lucetta out of the box and sets her back down on the floor gently. He kneels down and puts his hand on her head.

"Hey, be a little kinder to this guy. I think he's trying his best to help you out, missy. I'd hate to see that potential go to waste."

| >>638921

"Oh, if you need to go, then git. I got enough on my hands dealing with sleeping beauty. Whoever that guy is sounds like a real fuckboi, so you better not get them angry. Or do. That's always fun too."

> Dusty gives a sly smile, given her history with fucking over certain men in GC

"Just don't worry. Give me a call if something changes. or I'll do it if I think something should change"

| >>638984
"No hes an ass"

"That guitar was 500 dollars nico!
Oh, hi dusty! Gem says hi by the by"
>ah, its him

"Yeah yeah we're going we're going! Call a damn sidewinder already"

"You cause me great pain daily. I hope you know that"

"Im glad i do you butt!"
>she sticks out her tongue

>man this is better then cable!

| >>638975
"I-I'm aware. I… I bore no ire towards him. It is arduous to accept my condition, as I am now."

> Still broken by said fact, Uni's head casts a shadow of forlorn. Despite coping at a good pace, it's clear the issue still troubles her.

"Pardon this impudent self. I have dirtied my own name, and brought dishonour from my acts."

> She lowers her head even further to signify her regret.

| >>639023

> Dusty's expression suddenly turns incredibly sour. She shoots Cass a dirty look and a middle finger and pulls out her cigarette pack. She quickly draws one and lights up, not caring if this new girl cares or not.

"Tell that fucker that he needs to leave now before I put a 10mm wadcutter in his chest. You should also get going before I change my opinion on you."

> She was bluffing, given she wasn't near her pistols. Just the sight of Cass made her not care though

| >>639065
"Nah i gotcha.
He hates it when i do this"
>a little ball of brown gas materializes in her hand
>and she throws it at Cassius, who upon it hitting his face, cringes and gags
>and dashes out the door where one can hear him Probably vomit on the pavement
"Thats why you dont insult WAFFLES! Asshole"

>god damn. That was evil

| >>639095

> Dusty continues to give the girl a cold glare. As if her day couldn't get worse already, *he* had to show up. Now maybe he'll think its a good idea to stop by even.

"He's a piece of shit. Don't talk to him. Abandon him in the Flooded. Cass ain't worth the trouble."

> She continues to smoke, blowing it out through her nose as if it'll make her more intimidating.

| >>639145
"Ill take it from you~
Now them im going to bully him some more~
au revoir"
>she leaves right after, presumably to continue ruining the poor boys day

>god speed nico!
>errr...is this the type of thing one wishes god speed for?

| >>639147

> Dusty continues to her best to bore a hole through the girl in order to get to Cass. She turns around in a huff after deciding that enough is enough and goes to work on putting the Egret back in working order.

> She works with ruthless competence, making enough noise to drown out any background din in the process

| >>639064
"God, she wouldn't have prostrated. Get up, Uni, that body isn't used to making apologies."

> Sora walks over to the girl, closing the distance between the two.

> After hearing his words, she still kept low, only rising after Sora is right next to her.

"It's alright. You didn't hurt me or anything."

| >>639163

> Pete does his best to console the girl in front of him. Such a familiar space to fill in once more.

"We were jus' more worried about you hurtin' yerself. You look like you need to take it easy. Maybe this Sora will get you a meal too after all this, and if not..."

> He hands Sora a few zenny bills totaling 500Z.

"Get her something nice from my account, you hear? More for your sake 'cuz this ain't look easy on you, kid."

| >>639268
"Sure will. Thanks. This here isn't really a job I wanted, but when can I ever choose?"

> Sora accepts the money. He gave a glimpse at Uni, whose eyes would have spoken more emotions than the closing and opening of a camera's aperture.

"When you're at the cafe and you see me behind the counter, don't hesitate to holler. I'll treat you to a cuppa."

> Suddenly, a quiet thumping is heard nearby, blocked by the walls. To the attuned, they would have heard it a minute ago.

| >A police car comes from above and stops in front of the street where the shop is located, an astute observer would easily notice that it's ID number and plates are missing.
>An officer disembarks, putting his cap on before activating some kind of device on his breast pocket and confirming a note within his Augmented Eye's AR display.
>This was the right place, stay cool.
>He takes a deep breath and motions to a figure staying behind in the car, before advancing to the door.

| >>639482

> Thanks to Dusty's still latent anger, she's a little more focused on the happenings around the shop. She notices some cop car and quickly her Kingfisher's saddlebags. She pulls out her two pistols and stows them in her back pockets. It's not the most surreptitious job, but she's more comfortable protected than not. Once she's done, she braces herself against her bike and calls out to the figure at the door.

"HEY. That's far enough. Who the hell are you?"

| >>639540
>The cop keeps walking, his gait straight
"Is that a way to treat an officer, stand down lass"
>He says, his voice trembles a bit, but the hand on his side belted Smart pistol is steadfast and well-trained
"We're here concerning a local investigation-"

| >>639541
"It is where I come from. You can stop right there before I make you stop. Whatever investigation you have needs an order or something right. Get the hell out of my shop until you bring something back, Cerdo."

> Dusty moved to follow the officer, getting ready to cut him off if she has to.

"I'm going to ask again, Who the hell are you?"

| >>639542
>The Officer pulls out a license from his pocket, along with an ID that shows his affiliation: "GCPD CTU: DARPA"
"We have information that a known terrorist visited this location in the last few hours, along with several eye witness reports"
>The officer sounds angrier now, and stands firm
"Under the law, what we're doing here is a legal affair, do you want to be arrested or do you want to cooperate; your call"

| >>639549
> Dusty movers her head back calls out to someone unseen to either of them. Despite her size, her voice booms out.

"HONEY!! Get the nice linens out! We have unexpected company!"

> She then goes to focus her attention back onto this alleged "officer"

"Then stay right fucking here and ask me questions. Plus, this is the motor district. You have any clue how many people here are "terrorists" or whatever?"

> She exaggerates terrorist with air quotes even

| >>639550

> Pete seems to hear this call for him and he sighs. He moves and opens one of the chests in Dusty's room, pulling out a battered looking Battle rifle and the pink shotgun from earlier. He also pulls out a few magazines and shoves them in his pocket. Finally, he loads the automatic rifle in a very bored manner

"Sorry folks. I think their are gonna be earplugs in the crate Lucetta was in. You're gonna wanna wear them if she announces Dinner time"

| >>639550
"The only thing attitude will get you is lead, lass, don't test your luck"
>He says, dead serious, his hand still on his holster. the figure within the car starts to move, getting out with a loud thump before walking towards the first officer
>the other person is revealed to be a smallish girl. The amount of augmentation on her body could almost make her pass for a lilim or a cyborg. her head is adorned with two large horns, much like a Ram's.

| >>639550
>She gives Dusty a look, and turns to the younger looking male officer
"Give it some slack and let me handle this one"
>She returns her gaze and smiles at Dusty, but her eyes aren't smiling at all
"Name's Sabvroyvsky, Major in the Third regiment of DARPA, we had some questions about a certain masked fellow who came around here as of late, think you could elucidate some things for us?"

| >>639559
> Dusty shoots back a cold glare, clearly not happy with the whole situation.P

"A masked fellow? The only person that could even come close to fitting that bill would be Fox. But he's not even here and this is also where he happens to live, alongside me. And...

> Her memory trails off. Wasn't there someone else? For some reason, she couldn't remember.

"Yeah, that's it. Just Fox."

| >>639564
>The girl puts an index finger to the side of her head and clicks her tongue, producing a high pitched metallic sound.
"Maybe a picture could help jog your memory? mind if I scoot over and pass it off, of course without you pulling out those two pistols you got hiding in your pants."
>Her eyes dart to Dusty's waist
"I don't feel like being shot again today y'see"

| >>639559
> Dusty shoots back a cold glare, clearly not happy with the whole situation.

"It's not like that would do you any good either. We're not interested in helping cops. Me or Kitty. So you can just leave. I don't want this to get bad either you know.

> She holds her stance, arms crossed over her chest. If she did want to go for her firearms, this was a bad way to go about it. But she also would be in no position to stop a picture from getting shown to her

| >>639567
>Sabvroyvsky laughs, and her quartz colored eyes tighten
"See, the thing is this ain't a choice, if it was I'd have come in wearing plainclothes and gotten the info with money or talk like any other street rat"
>She pulls out a picture from her breast pocket and shows it to Dusty
>It's a man you've seen, the mask wearing person who left you a "recipe"
"Does this ring any bells? CCTV caught him coming here, so there's only one possible answer. What was he here for"

| >>639554
"Goddammit. I thought this was going to be a quiet day."

> Sora takes a few steps back, trying to get Uni to understand the situation -- but she has long taken what Sora had in mind.

"A birthed chaos, pray tell, what is—"

"I don't know! Questions later. I'll see if I can get Ray here to pull us out…"

> While not appreciating the interruption, Uni still kept a low gaze towards Sora. He has now dropped to a full transformative panic.

| >>639568

> Dusty looks at the picture. Sure the clothing looks about right, but the face didn't. The confusion made her head hurt slightly, as if she wasn't quite sure what was going on.

"I... those clothes sure. Weirdos come here dressed like wrecks all the time. But I have no idea who that person is. The face is... it's all wrong."

> She rubbed the grease stained temple once more. She moved her hands to her hips and tried to steel herself up.

| >>639578
"Dusty, is many things. But she ain't one to put people that ain't got nuthin' to do with in danger. Otherwise, she'd have just called out the word for me to move by now. If it does come to that, y'all are best staying here."

> He sets down his rifle back into the chest, along with the magazines. He then draws out an old leather belt with two shiny pistols on either side. He puts it on and cracks his knuckles, knowing he has everything he needs.

"That's more like it."

| >>639584
> With the events transpiring, a single man enters the room where Uni and Sora resides. The question of when he had entered, where, or how is irrelevant after he reveals himself -- wearing the much familiar cafe uniform, with colours similar to Lucetta's.

"So, guy. What's up?"

> This caught Sora off guard, almost sending him to a fall.

"Ray! Why are you--?"

"Shh. 'Sides, I don't think we're up in the clear. There's an officer outside."

"How did you enter then?!"

| >>639606

> Despite having all the reason and right to draw, Pete doesn't. He just eyes the newcomer and takes it in stride as best he can.

"It don't matter. He's here now and now he's gotta wait to see what happens. Y'all'll have to be quieter. Me and Dani usually got helmets on for better communication. Right now, I'm just usin' my ears so be quiet. Can't miss my signal, after all."

> He moves slightly closer to the door, careful not to touch it

| >>639607
> The newcomer pinned their brazen brunette hair, having seen the mess it became, before he moved on to appraise Pete. His eyes were drawn towards the pistols, he gives them a sidelong stare.

"So, what's Pistol Pete doing here?"

> Sora, even more confused, threw the same gaze back at Ray.

"How do you… you know what, whatever. Here's boss' state."

> He points to Uni, whose cameras have been scanning for Ray's presence.

"Well met, stranger."

> She says.

| >>639612

> Pete gives a nod and smile at being recognised so quickly.

“Me and Dusty are working a final bounty. This is where she lives, after all. I dunno what’s going on out there, but I’m holding til it’s time for dinner. You know what’s going on, new blood?”

> He gives a motion to the new person, as if they’ll know more about what’s going on outside

| >>639617
"Seems they're holding off a suspicion over something. Officer outside says it's got to do with a package."

> Ray answers, seemingly aware to a degree over what is happening.

"Got anyone suspicious before? Or did… didn't boss—… didn't whoever is inside boss send something too?"

> Uni perks up to the mention, she nods.

"Correct. Alas, the contents of my parcel is veritable, and possesses no integral danger."

| >>639621

“Dunno. I wasn’t paying much attention. Don’t think Dusty was either. That’s her housemates problem, not hers. Or ours for that matter. I don’t think we’re the issue in here. They might not even know we’re in here. Gotta assume they don’t since they ain’t got a way to spy.”

> As he speaks, it’s apparent that there aren’t any electronics in the room, save for the biometric locks on the chests

| >>639583
>The male officer's eyes narrow down, and he taps his boss' shouldr with a sigh
"The fucker knew we were after him, he used that thing"
>Sabrovyovsky nods, and seems to relax a bit
"See, we think this fellow here has something that can alter perception... think of it as Nanocamo, but for people's brains instead of electronical devices or plain sight. Of course, something like that is highly illegal, and was recently stolen from a research lab in midnight..."
>She explains

| >>639629
“Can you now get the hell out of my shop before Dinner rolls around? Y’all continue to spoil my appetite the longer you stand in the warehouse.”

> it was clear Dusty didn’t know nor care about whoever it was they were looking for. Thankfully, she was trained well enough to know how to remain calm under such tense situations.

| >>639639
"Yeah don't worry about it lass"
>The Major lifts her left arm and the officer besides her starts to be at ease
"Next time you end up being questionned though, I'd ask of you to stop with the rebuttals, some people would of arrested you straight away y'know"
>She gives Dusty a cocky smile
"I didnt because I'm a nice lady, and because I know I can't do anything without a warrant if I care about my job, which I somewhat do."
>She starts to walk back to her car

| >>639640
>She gives a final look to you
"If you ever remember anything or have a sudden change of heart about your whole noble Rebel thing, give the central a call and ask for Tanya, I doubt it, but hey"
>She sits back into the car and it winces under the sheer weight of her full metal augments, the officer follows along, never leaving you out of his sight
"We got our eyes on yo-"
"I said we're going, are you deaf?"
>Sabrovyovsky yells at the man who grumbles
>The car flies away.

| >>639627 >>639641
> Both Uni and Ray noticed the car's engine -- save for Sora, who is now busy with his phone for one reason or another. The dense man he is, he still panics and chases his breath late, often resulting in him sounding anxious.

"What's with you? They already left."

> Ray tells the antsy man, receiving a confused look in return.

"It's not that, dumbass. It's the Ryugujo. Vee's applying, and we nay need to reshuffle shifts."

"What the—? Save that for later!"

| > Turning to Pete, Sora checks into what he's referring to by 'spying'. All around, he does see very little way to peek into the room.

"If they've already left, isn't it obvious they aren't looking for us? Or boss?"

> Ray gave a complementary nod.

"Could be. GCPD works in strange ways. Especially that oni girl."

"…The hell's an oni?"

> Sora's last question was left unanswered as neither of the two spoke.

| >>639676
> Pete waits until he hears a loud yell from Dusty. He gives a giant sigh of relief and opens the door like any normal, sane person would. He walks out and waves over Dusty, who's now sporting a new cigarette in her mouth.

"Okay y'all, the coast is clear. Dinner is postponed it seems."

"You fucking think so?" Dusty asks, falling into Pete for a hug, taking care to not burn him

"We're both sorry you got wrapped up in this business," Says Pete calmly

| >>639683
"Not your fault. No biggies."

> Ray says. He let his hand out, having Uni grab it to stand up. She wobbles and teeters, landing on an unstable posture before.

"What you say, Ray."

> Sora sees Dusty which is now nibbling affection with Pete -- though, that may only be his interpretation of the event.

"So, you both married? You seem like the type to—"

> His words were cut short by Ray through a loud step onto his foot.


| >>639733
> Dusty is too busy finding comfort in her friend to notice anything. Pete, meanwhile, gives Sora a look, as if to question his intelligence levels.

"No, we just go back longer than you've been around. She also knew we were in here and didn' want to scare y'all."

> Dusty finally breaks from the hug and smokes more as she pulls out her own autorevolver from her back pocket, opening the cylinder and talking.

"Good thing too. Both my guns were dry and I didn't wanna bluff"

| >>639854
> Ray chuckled at Dusty's mention of bluffing. It brought enough attention for him to speak to her.

"So, what are they up to? GCPD don't roam these areas. Usually."

> Sora, in the world of multimillion pain, stepped back and ushered his leg to lighten its load. The attack which may have fractured his bone was homed to pierce every part of his shoe, conceptually. He groaned, pain still radiating from the epicentre.

"No, your bones are fine."

> Ray interjects.

| "By the heavens above, harken my words. I don't sense the malicious intent nor do I speak of them being an ally."

> Uni joins the conversation, perhaps commenting on the matters of the police themselves.

"R-right… GCPD don't really take sides either. Not when they're threatened with a gun."

> Ray simply comments again, now tending to Sora, who is more or less surprised by one fact-

"Who is THREATENING the police?!"

> He exclaimed, after learning of said fact.

| >>639859
"We were more planning on just shooting them out–" starts Dusty
"–It's a technique that typically works when we have the element of surprise–" Continues Pete
"–I call for the fine linens because we have guests over–"
"–Which means I get ready and then–"

> As punctuation, both draw their pistols, making sure they're not pointing at anyone. They speak in perfect unison

"Dinner gets served. Anyone dumb enough to try and shoot back gets dropped like a bunch of bad habits."

| >>639864
"A fine performance, I bespeak for truth when I say such synchronisation requires an aeon of bond."

> Uni lightly clapped at what she saw. What she treats the plan as pales when she reveals her interest more.

"Uni, you could've died."

> Sora says, still keeping a watch for his leg. Ray has stopped, however, and makes way to see this 'bond' action, having only one word in mind.

"I guess that's why you two are some unbreakable bunch?"

> Ray comments, in tone to a jest.

| >>639868

> They smile at each other and put their guns away, satisfied with themselves.

"Nah, nobody would have died," Starts Dusty. "The old man has a family to worry about, so only nonvital hits would have happened. If it even came to it."

"He means others coming in after we started shootin'"

"Oh. Even then, you'd have us ready to tank shots while you got away."

| >>639874
"You two are really the genuine article…"

> Ray says. The spark ignited in his eyes spoke a flame that only fades by the passing of time -- it's the spark of curiousity.

"What are we going to do with boss then?"

> Sora's question snapped Ray out of this, however.

"She's small. We can fit her into a trash bag."

> Ray responds, once again joking by the obvious chuckles.

"You're going to do THAT?! To your employer?"

"It's just a joke…"

"Of course it's gotta!"

| >>639905

"Naturally, we're the real deal." Answers Pete with a nod.

> Dusty goes about quickly throwing on her racing jacket and clearing her pockets for bullets. Pete takes the time to think about what to do next

"Hey, will the girl with the headset still be needing a ride? I got the Albatross ready to carry someone. Don't tell me I did it for nothing."

> Dusty asks with an annoyed tone. Maybe she does feel like they need some protection, after all

| >>639915
"Albatross—? Is it… a holy steed?"

> This time, it's Uni's curiosity that received the front end of the exposure. The glee she displays couldn't have been more obvious.

"Wait, Sora, is it even safe for her and boss to go out more?"

> Ray's sincere question was the only thing Sora interpreted correctly.

"No… it has been more than two hours since her disappearance. The battery won't last long."

> He says.

| "Well then—"

> Ray faces Dusty, composing a reply while doing so, never wanting to leave a fragmented knowledge after all.

"We have a car parked outside. You can take me for a ride though. We don't have much space inside, anyway."

| >>639942

“The Albatross is my custom pursuit bike. If you don’t mind the slightly cramped space, I guess you can fit in the back. Just never utter that phrase again or I’ll put a hole someplace you ain’t want it.”

> Dusty gives Ray a glare as she makes her way to the door

“Better follow along. I might stay back and see what else I can get done on the Egret. Like she said, I still gotta my wife to think about so I ain’t good here,” follows Pete, also heading for the door

| >>639949
> Ray follows suit, shrugging off what Dusty said without much worry. Sora carefully lifts Uni up, the petite body doesn't take much to be carried in this bridal carry.


> Uni, not realising what Sora was doing is caught in a blushing surprise.

"What are you—?!"


> Sora too, only made sense of the situation now.


| >>639982
> Dusty and Pete both suppress their laughter at the situation. Pete gets comfortable at his bike, making sure the engine is sat properly. Dusty gets comfy at her own bike, turning it back on with a quiet hum. She puts her helmet on finally and breathes easy.

"Hey, make sure she keeps weapons-free, boy. Dani knows better, but reminders are nice"

"Hush, old-timer. I know better."

> Dusty revs the engine slightly. She's eager to get going

| >>639983
> Unable to contain the embarrassment, Sora, carrying Uni, let loose a sprint. The parked car, a red SUV, is only some metres away from the building. Despite this, the sprint made it seem a whole distance shorter.

> Uni was heard repeating 'Undo this!' as they went past the group, leaving Ray behind alone.

"So, is the seat open? The lovebirds can stay in the car for all I know."

> He giggles, imagining some sort of forbidden relationship -- as his face shows.

| >>640023
"Sure. Just hop on in and don't complain about the lack of a helmet. It's not like I have any spares anyway."

> The motorcycle opens up slightly, revealing a space for a passenger that would sit behind Dusty. The space is a little small, even considering how small Dusty is.

"Just make sure you don't touch anything you shouldn't. We're still debugging some stuff, so the MG3 is acting up. Solenoid triggers, you know?"

> She asks, as if anyone else could know

| >>640211
"Yeah, solenoids. Heard boss talk about some of that."

> Whether Ray is lying or saying the truth, or whether he is covering his knowledge with a duct tape, his voice isn't at all too convincing.

"Don't worry about the helmet! This head has taken more blows than your usual head!"

> He jumps to the passenger seat, instantly feeling cramped due to his height and the lack of space.

| >>640283

"Pray we don't hit anything on the way, big shoots."

> Dusty rolls out of the garage to find the red SUV everyone else is in. Once she spots it, she flashes it with the headlights on her bike. Thanks to the fusion engine installed, it's surprisingly quiet. She then realizes that she's got no way to communicate with the others, prompting her to elbow Ray for attention with her phone outstretched for him

"Hey, use my phone to call them. I gotta know where we're heading."

| >>640443
"We'll be heading to the Anne."

> Ray accepts the phone regardless. After toying about the dialler, he couldn't figure out exactly which number to call -- apparent by the lack of audible call tone.

"… I think it's better if we tail them. You can always let me guide you. I'm not a bad navigator!"

> Even without saying all of that, Ray doesn't play the looks of a navigator. Surely, he'd do better than trying to figure out where south is from here -- which he's doing now.

| > With them behind, the car engine sparks vigour. It rattled and the humming of the engine would have been obvious, should it not be for the silent exhaust installed.

> This, however, allowed for anyone nearby to hear a faint, yet obvious beep. The sound becomes audible every one tick or so, and as the car starts to rev up, the tick increases slightly in volume.

> Given enough perception, it's easy to tell where it is coming from.

| >>640455

> Dusty remained steady, keeping an almost worrying 8-feet max distance from the van. She clearly has done something like this before. She sighs at the incompetence of Ray, despite not even knowing his name. Her distance did allow her to listen in on a certain... pinging sound.

"Hey, is there supposed to be a ping to that engine? I don't work on cars ever, but even I know that ain't normal."

> With the quiet hum of her engine, she points out the sound she hears easily

| >>640465
"I… don't think so."

> Removing all the airheaded nature he purposely shows, Ray's eyes tighten upon the car. His senses too, have taken to create a sharper image of the surrounding. This ticking… he counts under his breath, is not the sound an engine makes.

> This time, he dials the number he needed to call without looking once. Yet, the time taken for the call to register is not optimal for the situation at hand.

"Dusty. Back off. We might have an IED."

| >>640493
> Gods, she really picked a poor time to remove the armor plating on her bike. It could still survive an indirect hit, but who knows how powerful that potential IED could be. She grits her teeth and speeds up, quickly whipping in front of the SUV and bracing herself for a potential crash


| >>640686
"No response!"

> Ray focuses on the car. There's a disbelief planted in him. Sora isn't this slow, and putting this fact upfront to Dusty wouldn't have helped much. He knows Sora too well for him to make this simple blunder.

> The phone still rung. Call in idle.

> The tinted windows of the car surely didn't help with perception, though Ray drew what he was able to see.

"Are they… sleeping? Sora's head is down inside. He has the wheels."

| >>640693
> Dusty doesn't wait for a plan of action, she just acts. She yells to get Ray's attention

"Hold on and keep your head down!"

> She speeds forward once more and quickly whips the bike around, gaining ground to speed up. She guns the engine and swerves into a slide, hoping her sheer momentum and mass could stop the car with minimal damage. She braces herself, ready for impact

| >>640700
"Don't stop the car! The IED might explode when the car stops!"

> Ray's words would have been wise if they weren't already at a crashing distance. As his words travelled, the SUV gained momentum due to the unconscious driver inside. Unmanaged and with zero handling, the car rams at Dusty and her bike, though with its speed it still unable to deliver enough force to do anything fatal.

| >>640751
> The bike skids off, Dusty managing to get it back under control in no time, thanks in no small part to her years of skill. She guns the engine once more and gets back to speed to chase down the SUV. It didn't look like the impact did much, so she thinks more action would be best.

"Hey, I still don't know your name but do me a favor; lean forward into me. We're going to balance weight.

> She flips a switch and a message on the windshield appears: MG ready for firing

| >>640756
"It's Ray, but just call me anything!"

> Ray's reply didn't hold much weight. He does what is said, not skirting anymore words. He leans towards Dusty, with the great height difference forcing him to an odd posture. By now, the ping inside the car has grown louder, not by each second either. There is no need to pay attention to hear panic bleeding out.

| >>640821
> SUVs meant all-wheel drive. And the fact there was a ping and no response meant that she had to assume the worst. She opens herself up slightly more and angles the bike as if she was going to ram into the car to stop it. She then slows down slightly and lets loose her fire on a front tire.

> The bike stays steady, a stream of tracer rounds clearly lining up and hitting the front tire. After about 50 or so, Dusty lets up the fire and pulls off to line up a rear tire

| >>640827
> The car held out a few rounds before completely losing control, though by some miracle, it still held a speed. At this point, if uninterrupted, it will crash to anything it can close itself to.

"Alright, the VIP will be my boss! You can end Sora all you want!"

> Ray says amidst all this, trying to be as loud as possible to make himself heard.

| >>640839
> Dusty pays him no mind, and lines up her next targets. She quickly fires another pair of bursts at the back tires, shredding both in the process.

"Okay, hold on for your fucking life"

> She speeds up and rams the passenger's side front fire. It's the only still intact. She wedges her bike in an effort to try and get the car to stop via spinning out at least. Her arms feel like they're going to fall off from how hard they're shaking to keep the bike steady

| >>640841
> The car's condition is futile now. With several of its tires popped, it's only a matter of time before its motion translates to a rapid turn, only prevented marginally by Dusty's effort to stop it.

> It swerved, with the autopilot trying to keep the best interest alive: keeping the passengers safe, ignore the rest. Seeing Dusty — or the vague highlight of Dusty, the bike, and Ray — as a threat, it does its best to circle and turn from them.

| >>640875

> Dusty can feel the car trying to swerve around. She takes the chance to clutch the brakes and pop the bike forward in an endo maneuver. She should have warned Ray about such a move, but thinking right now wasn't her strong suit.

> The bike decelerates quickly and is soon back on all its wheels. She gives the engine another rev and gets ready to peel off once she sees what the SUV does

| >>641002
> Before the car does any manoeuvre, a loud, constant ring is heard. A pang struck Ray's chest as he realised this noise, all the way from the passenger seat of Dusty's Albatross.


> He shouts, panic fills him over.

Total number of posts: 235, last modified on: Sat Jan 1 00:00:00 1585848507