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851008 No. 851008 ID: 085408

This is going to make everything right.
869 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 903139 ID: 470289
File 153791514732.png - (209.79KB , 800x800 , 125.png )
903139

I walk over to the table and look at the picture of the location. Notes about what Cap asked Toreq are next to it on the table, written in her boxy handwriting.

The place we’re hitting is a formerly abandoned hall that got converted for the Hexes use. Three stories, and staffed 24/7, it’s jammer-free so sneaking in to recover the chip and evidence is impossible. Windows on all sides have been boarded up on the first floor. At least 5 armed members at all times, but it fluctuates depending on if people decide to bring their personal weapons. Approximately 25 staff members in all. There’s more detailed information like a lazy guard who guards for a few hours in the evening and specs on sprinkler system and other utilities, but I can dig into that a little later.

She said to take three squaddies with me, though I could push for a fourth if I felt it was necessary.

Shiv: Vivienne. Good fighter and would be my pick for second if I died. I’ve known her the longest out of the entire team but If we’re out of empathetic range her language issues can cause issues with information sharing. Also, on the off-chance she gets spotted on a surveillance camera, it could lead to trouble down the road with immigration authorities.

Young Sparks: Juzo. He’s a veteran, but he served after the war. Great meat shield and not much else. He follows orders but if you don’t tell him not to do something and he gets an idea in his head he’s liable to run with it. Most of his ideas end in him getting shot.

Krieg: He says Krieg is his real name. He’s the closest thing we have to a medic, which means he’s good at cauterizing. He covers any position the team might be missing, so he’s good at improvising. His personality makes me uncomfortable, but I can’t say he’s ever given me a reason to doubt his competence. Has a truck.

Bang: Olain. She’s used to work for some PMC’s in a noncombat role. Knows how to fight but she’s more useful for her engineering and mechanist skills. If it runs on electricity she might not be able to fix it, but she can break it how you want. Don’t think she likes me, but she’s the type who doesn’t like anyone.

Geo: Won’t tell me. He’s a little shit but he’s the guy we have that does computer stuff. Zub tells me he’s great at it. All I can say is that I’ve seen him shoot, and it causes second-hand embarrassment. Has a junker.

Dixie: I’ve never asked. She’s a rookie. This would be her first mission with the team, I have no clue how she’ll hold up under stressful situations. At the very least she’ll get along with anyone else I bring. She’s good at disarming people and making others get along. Also has her own van.

Who I take will influence the kind of approach and strategy I can come up with. Our priority is to find the money chip. After that we must find evidence of Toreq’s crimes, recover any info that looks useful, and get away from the site with everything.
>>
No. 903141 ID: b1b4f3

>>903139
Shiv, Krieg, Bang. Bang can deal with the cameras. By which I mean you find where the camera data is stored and she fucks it up, either by cutting power before the mission, or by getting to the data storage during the mission. You're not supposed to leave evidence, after all.
>>
No. 903389 ID: 977456

Young Sparks, Dixie, and Geo.
They shouldn't know you are coming, so you can afford to bloody the rookie here, and Geo can keep his head down behind Sparks then break any data storage they have and confirm the chip. Of things go bad then Sparks will probably be loud enough to cover the rest of you. Sparks also has experience while Dixie has a sense of self-preservation. Hopefully they can keep one another from being idiots, or at least give you some warning before the fan starts spitting.
>>
No. 903451 ID: 470289
File 153800713336.png - (98.81KB , 800x800 , 126.png )
903451

“Ask Viv to call Bang and Dixie and tell them to meet us five blocks from the site… and tell Geo to get in my van.”

“Alright, I will make do with the rest. The remote for his ear buds is on the table.” Cap doublechecks Toreq’s bindings before she goes up, giving me one last look.

Captain Hunter asked a bunch of filler questions to try and hide exactly what she was after, but she underlined the important bits. She marked empathetic reactions too, so Viv must have been touching him and gauging reactions while she was down here. Whether it was the truth, a lie, or unclear is marked after each statement. I skim until I reach the relevant parts.

>H: How long have you been a Hex?
>T: Y-years! I joined at twelve. (T)
>H: Your initiation?
>T: I just beat up this random alien kid, that’s it! (U)
>H: Random?
>T: I mean I- I didn’t like him, but he lived! (T)
>H: Is that the only violence you have committed while part of this gang?
>T: Y-Mostly. (L)
>H: Is that the only violence you have committed while part of this gang?
>T: No! I’m sorry! (T)

Captain keeps repeating the question and, reading between the lines, getting creative with her knife every time he’s cagey. She’s recorded lots of attacks he’s participated in; accessory to two murders at least, and a slew of other shit. Interesting thing is that the violence peters out over time. Only thing of note he did in the last three years was help dispose of the body of someone who was refusing to pay and threatening to go on tv to expose their scams.

>H: Where is the documentation kept in the building?
>T: The computers I guess? Some dumbasses like to keep filing cabinets because they’re paranoid. (T)
>H: What do these records contain?
>T: Just numbers and names! Listen if you want money I- (T)
>H: How many loan sharks work in that building.
>T: A lot! I haven’t counted! (T)
>H: You had a gun on you. Is this common among the workers?
>T: I don’t know! We don’t wave our guns around you crazy bitch! Let me out! (U) Note: Subject became agitated. Questioning was suspended until he was calmed.

Need to ask him specifically where the documents are located and where people congregate. I make a note of that. Finding out where the circuit breakers are could also be useful. I take the pen from the table and start jotting down notes for my interrogation.

>H: How many rogues are in debt to the Hexes at this moment.
>T: I don’t know, I just do my own shit. (T)
>H: Speculate.
>T: I have no idea. Thousands? (T)
>H: How many rogues do you manage?
>T: It depends. (U)
>H: Currently how many rogues do you manage?
>T: N-nine. (T) Note: Subject whined this and several expletives that have been omitted.
>H: How much revenue is that in a week for you?
>T: Around… twenty thousand I think? It depends on how much they have. (T)

Cap digs into each of his victims. The Hexes mostly target rogues and the poorer aliens in the district. Toreq himself seems to specialize in rogue moms who are trying to start their own hives, though he has other ‘clients’ too. There’s probably a lot to unpack from that if I gave a crap about his mindset, but I don’t at this point. I memorize their names: Ygrun, Tisis, Luvi and so on. That way I know who to look for in the documents relating to Toreq’s crimes.
>>
No. 903452 ID: 470289
File 153800717840.png - (144.41KB , 800x800 , 127.png )
903452

I’m starting to fall back into old mental habits already. Considering angles and trying to predict who will be shooting at my guys and how to shoot them down first. Thinking about Toreq and his gang as enemies and not people. Thinking more like Cap and less like myself.

Shiv and I will handle any fighting that needs to get done and protect Bang and Geo while they do their work. Geo can number crochet his way into their systems or whatever and if we’re lucky we’ll never even need to grab any physical documents. Bang can shut off any cameras or, turn off the power completely. Might make a smash and grab of the chip possible if we can narrow down its location and go in while everyone’s confused. Dixie can be in the truck for extraction. Close enough for backup but out of immediate danger. I mull over a few other ideas while I read through Cap’s notes.

Working like this again is comforting in a way I’m not proud of. The last six months have let me unwind in a way I haven’t since I was a kid, but I haven’t been a kid in decades. Bumming around and hanging out with friends is nice and enjoyable. But fighting, in every definition of the word, is where I’m comfortable. In the end, I’m probably just as broken as Captain Hunter. I wouldn’t keep following her otherwise.

At least this is a fight some good might come out of. I don’t really believe in the stuff Cap’s bosses crow about, but stopping the Hexes is more palatable to me than protecting smugglers in the ass end of nowhere. At least after this is over there’ll be something to show for it.
>>
No. 903454 ID: 470289
File 153800732523.png - (217.82KB , 1000x800 , 128.png )
903454

<tetra>: you are fucking idiot. there need to be many of us and then we will win
<Doctrue>: A fight isn’t the best way forward. A fight won’t even be necessary.
<Friendly>: He’s right if we must fight then we’ll have already lost morally.
<Doctrue>: This isn’t a question of morality it’s of practicality.


I have no clue what this book is about. It’s gone from journal like writings, to ranting essays, to internet text messages. There’s an obvious theme about rogues, but it’s haphazard to say the least.

“Heya Mac, I’m done with everything! Hope you weren’t too bored. Ready to go home?”
>>
No. 903455 ID: afdebc

>>903454
Go home with Luvi.
>>
No. 903456 ID: 094652

"I'm so bored that I want to look for another job."
>>
No. 903457 ID: a94e23

Maybe you could pawn the book for some extra cash later? It’s not like it’s particularly good reading and you do need money. Anyway let’s go with luvi.
>>
No. 903469 ID: b1b4f3

>>903454
Maybe you can give him some tips on his writings, for a more effective message.
>>
No. 903491 ID: 0c3c2c

>>903454
Go with Luvi. Also, this book doesn't seem well written. Maybe they should try reading some Ghandi. Anyway, tell her about your job search and all the crazy stuff that's happened.
>>
No. 903499 ID: 91ee5f

>>903454
>Book isn’t written well.
That Stiles guy left you a phone number, right? Maybe later, you can call him (or if he doesn’t answer ask for Stiles so that you can to talk to him) and tell him that his book isn’t very well written and downright confusing. And if you want, give him some tips to make the writing more effective at delivering whatever message it’s supposed to deliver.

>Ready to go home?
Yeah, go with Luvi to her home.
>>
No. 903531 ID: b38f01

Begrudgingly
>>
No. 903693 ID: 470289
File 153809993564.png - (180.40KB , 800x800 , 129.png )
903693

The book isn’t well put together, which applies to it’s binding as well as the contents. Some of the essays are at least interesting, if esoteric in how they tie in together. It’s not boring though, just weird. Also, I’m not sure if it’d be worth pawning. It doesn’t have any copyrights or publishing stamps, so I doubt anyone would buy it since it’d be hard to judge its value. Plus pawning a… gift I guess? Well pawning a gift is pretty rude, I think?

“Yeah, I’m ready to go.”

“Awesome! What were you reading? Is it interesting?”

“Oh, just this book I found, I guess. It’s not great.”

“Aw, that’s a shame. Still even less good books have something to offer, I think. You just have to look harder! I haven’t been able to read much because of work and my schedule. Do you have any recommendations? Not just about books, but anything you like!”
>>
No. 903698 ID: ee2d6e

>I memorize their names: Ygrun, Tisis, Luvi and so on.
Oh honey no
>>
No. 903741 ID: 9125e0

No Im fine. but thank you for considering. Is there any thing you wanna do when we get home?
>>
No. 904061 ID: 91ee5f

>>903693
>Do you have any recommendations? Not just about books, but anything you like!
Suddenly realize that all the things you like remind you of your hive. Then struggle to not start crying again.

But seriously, there’s this one romantic comedy movie about a male Pomi and a female Heef that fell in love. Sure, you don’t understand why the aliens made a movie like that, but you’ll admit that it was a good movie.

And you also like watching that Omega Wave Force tv show. Sure it’s supposed to be a show for kids, but you like it. Then demand that Luvi not make fun of you for liking a kid's show!
>>
No. 904227 ID: afdebc

>Plus pawning a… gift I guess? Well pawning a gift is pretty rude, I think?
Yes, pretty rude. Even if it's not a great book, it's one of the first things you've come to own in your new life, which makes it somewhat significant.

>Do you have any recommendations? Not just about books, but anything you like!
Future motorbikes must be quieter.

You've read a lot of art history, though you can't really recommend that stuff to someone who's not into it already, it's pretty dry (although, if she is into that kind of thing, you can point to some of the better ones).

If she's into interior design you have all kinds of recommendations on what kind of stuff to get or where to get it. Came up a lot in the set design you were passionate about.

For books and movies and tv (and fiction in general really) you tend to like stuff that puts a lot of effort into setting up the world and environment as the characters. Places and the way they interact with things matter!

Maybe recommend a book of poetry? That's not bad for someone like Luvi with a demanding work schedule- you read one thing in your limited downtime, then you think about it in the back of your mind till you can get back to the book.
>>
No. 904234 ID: 0c3c2c

>>903693
Chat with her about movies. Also, think about how you're getting used to her Empathy.
>>
No. 905187 ID: 509e5e
File 153877662117.png - (114.50KB , 800x800 , 130.png )
905187

>Suddenly realize that all the things you like remind you of your hive.
Not everything! I like…
There’s…
I’m not going to start crying again!

>Think about how you're getting used to her Empathy.
I’m not. It’s not shocking or surprising anymore, but it’s still there, sticking out like a flag on her head.

I’m pretty sure Luvi isn’t the type to be interested in art history, despite how exciting it is and I’m not going to admit to watching the Omega Wave Force because I don’t anymore. If I do see an episode it’s because my little sister still watches it and I happen to pass by. No other reason. I try to think of something to recommend that Luvi might like, which isn’t easy because I don’t know much about her. I take a stab in the dark.

“I saw a romcom once where a Pomi and Heef fell in love. It was… decent. Funny.”

“Anything else?”

“Um, there’s this book series I read a while back It’s a space opera,” I sense a spike of interest at the mention of space. “It’s about a neumono passenger ship getting sucked into a wormhole and emerging in a new galaxy with different rules and their own aliens and stuff, and the crew and passengers having to survive and try to find their way back. It’s interesting because it treats the new universe and the planets and cultures inside as their own characters, and the author obviously thought through the worldbuilding in a way a lot of people don’t.”

Luvi stays quiet trying to coax more out of me.

“There’s also this book called ‘The Gem Engravers Bouquet’ that was written by Wynne Dewern. She was young when the belenos were uplifted and became a University Professor in physics and publish a lot of technical books about science and stuff. She only published one book of poetry. I think a lot of people take it as a parody or way to mock the old human poetry book its name is a callback to, but it’s not. In a metatextual way it’s commenting on the difference between the history the belenos had access to compared to humans. The original book was a reimaging and recontextualization of an even older human poet, who of course had the influence of even older poets to draw on for influence and so on. By borrowing the cultural context and reimagining it through the view of a belenos instead of a human she was able to express her frustration with her own people and the humans who had uplifted them. And when you read the original work and compare them it opens up this new layer to the text and the thought process of Dewern and her predecessors in the lyrical fields and how the deficiencies present in the work aren’t deficiencies but purposeful breaks from widely accepted poetic canon hold within them vast roots connected to both the scant writings of the ancient belanos and immense well of human work, but still challenges the hierarchies of both and-” Wait. She’s still paying full attention but she’s not understanding what I’m talking about anymore.

“Uh, anyway, if you’re busy you could read it between work-” I remember Luvi was fired a few hours ago. “Or like, whatever you do. When you’re not working. Since you’ll be less, uh, busy now. Reading is a good… time killer?”

“I don’t know about less busy, but I promise to look into all that stuff when I can. It sounds interesting!” She doesn’t sound insulted or anything but I’m still embarrassed.

“Is there something you want to do when we get to your home?” I say quickly.

“Dinner! You’re hungry and I haven’t eaten much today. I haven’t had a guest in a while, so it’ll be fun!”
>>
No. 905188 ID: 509e5e
File 153877665035.png - (93.46KB , 900x700 , 131.png )
905188

As we drive through the streets I notice less and less neumono empathy appearing. It’s practically all gone once we stop in front of a house squeezed between two other bigger buildings.

“We’re here!” Luvi takes out a bag and a small box from her mopeds seat compartment and hands me the key to her front door. She mentally prods me to go inside first.
>>
No. 905191 ID: 509e5e
File 153877675678.png - (145.10KB , 1000x800 , 132.png )
905191

Luvi walks in behind me and heads to the kitchen.

“Have some of the baked goods to tide you over while I start dinner. And make yourself at home!”

Should I look around or wait in the dining room for Luvi to finish cooking? I could also help, but I’m not much of a cook and might just get in the way.
>>
No. 905215 ID: 91ee5f

>>905191
>Have some of the baked goods to tide you over while I start dinner.
Well, she offered, so you might as well eat one of those baked goods.

>Should I look around or wait in the dining room for Luvi to finish cooking? I could also help, but I’m not much of a cook and might just get in the way.
Go ahead and look around.

Look at that picture on the table, ask if she has any roommates, look for the bathroom so that you know where it is, since that’s an important room to know the location of.
>>
No. 905216 ID: 9125e0

grab a biscuit (or whatever the baked goods are) and have a quick look around.
once finished with the biscuit and try to help.
if not then ask about some of the pictures on the table while sitting and eating

and ask for a glass of water I bet your thirsty after this last couple of long days





but most importantly DONT spoil your dinner by eating too many snacks.
>>
No. 905217 ID: d5442a

Look around. Ask Luvi how she ever managed to get a place like this. Is it rented? Does she use the roof space for anything? It's a small place but it's big enough that you could conceivably turn it into a little shop or a bar. Is there a basement? It's very nice. Someone like you could probably think how to economically make it even cozier-feeling, since it's a little stark.

Are there any ever markets nearby? Like, markets with tent stalls, or car boot sales. You could sell arts and crafts made from trash. Be a hobo artist.
>>
No. 905228 ID: 094652

How many donations does Luvi get from passerby aliens? I mean, she could out-shine Stepford. A perfect combination of good looks and genuine positivity can get her to the front lines of every charity in this town of bitter rogues.

What surprises me is how she managed to score this place when her naivete is equally as taxing in her own charities and payments to loan sharks and con artists. I expected her to pay the local mafia for "positivity tax".
>>
No. 905230 ID: 0c3c2c

>>905191
Check the picture on the table.
>>
No. 905358 ID: afdebc

>>905191
Have a cookie or whatever then help her.

>I could also help, but I’m not much of a cook and might just get in the way.
You don't have to be a good cook to be someone's gopher.
>>
No. 905458 ID: 15a025

Check out that photo on the table.
>>
No. 905958 ID: 470289
File 153904202515.png - (204.47KB , 800x800 , 133.png )
905958

“Who are these people?”

Luvi glances over and lights up empathetically. “They’re my crew! The best bunch of people you’ll ever meet!”

“Crew?”

“I was in space a lot when I was younger. If you want I can tell you stories during dinner.”
>>
No. 905959 ID: 470289
File 153904208341.png - (154.96KB , 1000x800 , 134.png )
905959

I put the picture back down and pick a biscuit out of the assortment in the box. It’s a bit dry, but fine to eat. It does remind me I’m thirsty though. Luvi is grabbing stuff from the fridge and the pantry as I look through the house. The bottom floor is one giant room, with the round table marking the dining area separating the kitchen and living room. I find the bathroom next to the staircase, which is across from the kitchen.

“This place looks expensive. Are you renting?”

“Well, it’s a prefabricated home, so not as expensive as you would think! Plus, if everyone chips in then the cost isn’t bad at all.” Luvi’s started kneading meat in a bowl and has pots full of water starting to boil on the stove.

“You have roommates?”

“Ehhh, that’s… don’t worry, I have a free room for you to use. The house is empty most of the time, so you don’t have to worry about anyone bothering you. Except me, of course!” There’s a bunch of vegetables and stuff on the counter and I’m starting to feel bad just standing around and eating.

“Do you need help with anything?”

“Yes, thanks! Can you peel the potatoes? The peeler is under the sink.” She says without looking up from her bowl.
>>
No. 905960 ID: 470289
File 153904213027.png - (116.13KB , 800x800 , 135.png )
905960

I bend down to open the cabinet, but I don’t see any peelers, just pots, pans and random kitchen stuff. Oh wait, I see the handle, I think. It’s deep inside though. I reach in and fiddle around, trying to find the handle by touch. I grab hold of it, but it’s stuck. I give it a good yank and-
>>
No. 905961 ID: 470289
File 153904214748.png - (183.81KB , 800x800 , 136.png )
905961

“What’s wrong, Mac?”
>>
No. 905962 ID: e1d580

>>905961
"Why would you keep a gun somewhere this moist? That's terrible for maintenance, come on."
>>
No. 905964 ID: 86eb65

Your novelty peeler looks a lot like a gun Luvi.

Hand it to her.
>>
No. 905967 ID: deec6e

>>905961

>What's wrong

You're feeling slightly perturbed about the gun under the sink. Is it for home defense? Not the best place to keep it. You'd imagine some kind of safe or something would be better.

Put it back, carefully, and keep looking for the actual peelers. Pray you don't find a rifle.
>>
No. 905968 ID: 891b91

Attempt to peel potatoes with the gun. Act natural.
>>
No. 905969 ID: d5442a

"This isn't what I remember potato peelers looking like."

Anyway come on Mac your planet is still mostly wild, you never know when some winged abomination will decide to take a swoop down. Also Luvi was a social worker so she deals with some people in rough situations and sometimes someone might want to deal with her. Some abusive gangster coming around with a bone to pick over where their lover/kid/victim was taken off to, that sort of thing.
>>
No. 905970 ID: b1b4f3

>>905961
Tell her she should keep her gun in a more sensible place. Also you're having trouble finding the peeler.
>>
No. 905981 ID: c1212a

This is a gun. I was reaching for a potato peeler and pulled out a gun.
>>
No. 905994 ID: 0d45a9

Luvi smiling and holding a cleaver is oddly unnerving, yes she's cooking so it makes sense but it's still unnerving.

Say you can't find the peeler and ask why she has a gun hidden away there. What does Luvi's empathy read like at the moment, other than the perma-happy thing going on?

Maybe be ready to move quickly, just in case, but that may just be me being paranoid.
>>
No. 906018 ID: afdebc

>“What’s wrong, Mac?”
Guns don't make good potato peelers, Luvi.
>>
No. 906025 ID: 9125e0

"do you not have a better place to store your firearms"

are guns illegal in district or something?

"Im not gonna find bullets in the toilet am I"
>>
No. 906050 ID: 0c3c2c

>>905961
Ask her why she has a machine pistol and no peeler under the sink.
>>
No. 906066 ID: dff5c3

"That's a very poor grip you have on that cleaver, careful not to drop it."
>>
No. 906154 ID: 864e49

>>906018
or...do they? I've never actually tried.
>>
No. 906158 ID: cbcfcb

Must be a Roommate's gun, there's plenty of them for the chance one has some, though makes you wonder how many guns are stashed where, or why...
>>
No. 906175 ID: ee2d6e

Yes, remark on such a damp place being a terrible place to store a gun, at least outside of at least a plastic bag or something. It's not even a very tactically good place since you have to drop down, open the cabinet and then root around deep in it, and after that the firing line you have to the front door (where an intruder would most likely be coming from) puts an interior door right behind it. Always consider over-penetration, and missing, in home defence situations.
Focus on that entirely rather than freaking out about the gun and the fact that the almost psychopathically cheery Luvi has a cleaver.
>>
No. 906186 ID: 91ee5f

>>905961
Tell her to please stop looking at you like that while she’s holding that meat cleaver like that. It makes her look like she’s going to cut you up and eat you as part of the meal! She’s scaring you!
>>
No. 906194 ID: 10c408

Mac put the gun down slowly and don't drop it. Then you can discuss this matter with Luvi like rational neumono rogues.
>>
No. 906200 ID: 13b84a

>>906186
No, she's scaring you, no need to pass that onto Mac.
>>
No. 906255 ID: 6cf0f1

"Can't find the peeler."
>>
No. 906327 ID: 7f0aac

>>905961

We are either on so many drugs right now or just fell into some kind of screwed up candid camera thing.
>>
No. 906428 ID: a6405f

Oh shit, Mac is a mafia name; this is a mafia quest!
>>
No. 906784 ID: 15a025

>>905968
This. Just start trying to peel potatoes with the gun.
>>
No. 907811 ID: 470289
File 154016346866.png - (128.36KB , 800x800 , 137.png )
907811

>Be ready to move quickly
>Put the gun down slowly
I feel like a deer in headlights. I want to put the gun down but part of me thinks that’s a really dumb idea so I decide to pretend nothing happened and put it back, but I screamed something did happen through empathy, and then I think maybe I should just peel the potatoes with the gun, so I end up just doing nothing.

“Jeez, you’re scared suddenly! Did you find a spider?” She notices the gun. “Oh, you found another one? Under the sink, too? He knows how bad that is for their maintenance!”

“This isn’t a potato peeler.”

Luvi blinks. “Yes, it’s a gun. Be careful, it’s loaded.”

Luvi stands there and stares at me. I stare back. She finally puts the cleaver down in an exaggerated motion. She walks up and gently takes the gun from my hand before she unloads it and cocks the gun back to remove the bullet in the chamber.
>>
No. 907812 ID: 470289
File 154016353044.png - (94.54KB , 800x800 , 138.png )
907812

”I don’t keep potato peelers in the cabinet, silly.” She opens the drawer I thought was decorative and takes a potato peeler out of the shallow deposit. “Let’s hurry up and finish dinner.”
>>
No. 907813 ID: 470289
File 154016364394.png - (108.05KB , 800x800 , 139.png )
907813

>Are guns illegal in this district or something?
Guns aren’t illegal anywhere in the Tree as far as I know, but besides mandatory training I’ve never handled one. And I, uh, never really took that training seriously. I know I’m giving off apprehensive vibes and Luvi is kind of placidly confused at my reaction, underneath her normal sunny empathy.

“Your roommate stashes loaded guns under the sink?”

“Rocker’s not a roommate, he just likes to hide guns and knives and things like that all over the house when he comes over. I thought I had gotten them all, sorry.”

“So, I’m not going to find a loaded rifle in the bathroom?” I force a chuckle.

“Nope! My rifle is in a safe upstairs.”

It occurs to me that I just met Luvi this morning and really have no idea who she really is, besides being weird and nice enough to let a stranger stay in her home. And she’s close to someone who stashes loaded guns under her sink regularly. If I never left this house again I don’t think anyone would even know where to look for me, if anyone cared enough to try in the first place.
>>
No. 907814 ID: deec6e

>>907813

A kidnapping ring wouldn't be so... so... well, 'Luvi'. Or silly enough to hide guns all around their home. And an officer saw you leave with Luvi. If you do disappear, there's something of a trail, so relax a bit and start helping with the food.

Really, you might get some straight answers out of Luvi if you just ask, y'know. Why does she and her friend keep a bunch of guns? Rough neighborhood?
>>
No. 907815 ID: 86eb65

You are getting a bit paranoid.

Normal people have guns for protection. Both from criminals and all the horrible animals that live on your planet. Depending on gun ownership levels half or more of the people you see on the street every day could be armed.

Long story short you need to get your own gun and learn how to use it. You are out in the world now and need a way of protecting yourself.

Ask Luvi about guns and if you should get one.
>>
No. 907818 ID: 4854ef

Do remember that rogue's tend to be abused, attacked, and are often targets for others. Having protection in some form is a good thing.
>>
No. 907819 ID: afdebc

>“Nope! My rifle is in a safe upstairs.”
Well, that's at least responsible.

>If I never left this house again I don’t think anyone would even know where to look for me, if anyone cared enough to try in the first place.
Naaaah. That's not true. If you went missing or turned up dead and the cops wanted to find out what happened, of course they'd talk to Luvi. Your hive called the office that dispatched her, she's on public record in a government office being sent out to meet you, was seen by witnesses picking you up at the library and than storefront, and you're both in the police reports from that attempted shoplifting. There's a paper trail connecting you two now- you'd have to be a really bad detective not to follow that!

>“Rocker’s not a roommate, he just likes to hide guns and knives and things like that all over the house when he comes over. I thought I had gotten them all, sorry.”
And that's... okay? Tripping over loaded weapons you don't know where there seems really dangerous.
>>
No. 907824 ID: 977456

You are probably correct that nobody would look for you, but that is why you need a job! And friends! And to become an Ultra-Queen!
>>
No. 907825 ID: c1212a

You should be more worried that guns are so cheap apparently someone can afford to just leave them around other people's houses like breadcrumbs.
>>
No. 907842 ID: 0c3c2c

>>907813
Why are you afraid of being kidnapped? Literally no one cares enough to kidnap rogues, and Luvi's got extreme niceness braindamage so she'd keep you safe, since that seems to be her fixation. Chill out. You're overstressed from a really bad day and you need to lie down and sleep or something.
>>
No. 907860 ID: 7d4373

>>907811
Maybe it's time to think about something else. You could ask her if you'll be getting a pillow and blanket while crashing on the couch.
>>
No. 907875 ID: 91ee5f

>>907842
>Literally no one cares enough to kidnap rogues
That’s where you’re wrong. Rouges are perfect for kidnapping because if one goes missing, nobody cares enough to go looking for them.
>>
No. 907886 ID: b1b4f3

>>907813
Ask why Rocker does that.
>>
No. 907950 ID: 2202fb

Keep a gun and the bullets. While you probably wont need it, even Luvi felt having a rifle was necessary.
>>
No. 908904 ID: 470289
File 154091414504.png - (148.10KB , 800x800 , 140.png )
908904

Rocker… something about the name reminds me of something, but after thinking for a minute I can’t connect it to anything. It might come to me later. I go back to cutting carrots and Luvi dumps some vegetables into the pot.

“Are you… into guns?”

“Hmm… I wouldn’t call myself a gun nut, but I am familiar with them. My rifle is mostly a memento now, though. I don’t think I’ve had time to shoot it on a range in years!”

“That’s too bad. So, those loaded guns are kind of dangerous.”

“I know right! He put a hole in the roof before because he’s such a goober, and I had to completely replace the fridge! That’s why I set a strict ‘No Explosives’ policy in my house. I just had to put my foot down on that, even if it was mean.”

“That, uh, sounds like a good policy. Why does Rocker hide weapons in your house, exactly?”

“He… it’s about...” Luvi pauses. “He used to fight a lot and I think having weapons around makes him feel more comfortable.” I feel like that was a pretty loaded statement, but she doesn’t really want to open up about it.

The smell of good food is reminding me how hungry I am, so I stay quiet as we finish cooking dinner and set the table. Luvi occasionally pipes up with little comments or food puns.
>>
No. 908906 ID: 470289
File 154091438748.png - (134.38KB , 800x800 , 141.png )
908906

“Is it dangerous around here? Since you have so much protection around, I mean.”

“Not really, Shattersteel is the safest roguetown in the city. That’s why so many aliens have moved in. I did get my bike stolen once, but Rocker… found it, and that’s never happened again.”

“So, like… should I get a gun?”

“If you want! But I should warn you it’s kind of hard to buy them. Gun stores tend to have high standards for rogue customers, especially around here. Oh! You can have the one on the counter if you want, Rocker won’t miss it. But his guns are kind of, a little bit, poooooossibly not registered properly.”

She sees the look on my face.

“Don’t worry! As long as you don’t wave it around in front of a police officer it’ll be fine. No one’s too fussed about that kind of stuff.”

Luvi takes the baked goods and puts them in the fridge before coming back to the table. “I should do something for Kark to thank him for getting you lunch. Did you have fun today? Tell me about it!”

Luvi wants to change the subject. I could come up with safe dinner topics or press her on something.
>>
No. 908914 ID: 0c3c2c

>>908906
Talk about the drug dealin' guy you met. He seemed nice enough. He did leave a weird book for you though.
>>
No. 908924 ID: e9e28c

Did you ever get her opinion on that piece in the bank? I know it's still bothering you even if you think you might be over it.
>>
No. 908925 ID: e9e28c

Also maybe ask about Rocker without bringing up the guns or his apparent history of extreme violence to help jog that memory. What he looks like for instance.
>>
No. 908934 ID: 0dfaba

Have yourself a nice conversation with a nice dinner. Maybe talk about employment prospects. If someone could want that painting you saw in the bank, there should be someone who'd buy anything you'd make! Or at the very least you could help spruce up this place. Go to the dump and dig up some bits and bobs to make a nice art piece out of, make a centerpiece for this table. Recycling-based arts and crafts always hits with a certain kind of person, and you should be able to put together something that's actually nice.
>>
No. 908938 ID: 4854ef

She did mention she's willing to tell stories about her crew during dinner, if she's still up for it.
>>
No. 908940 ID: afdebc

>“Don’t worry! As long as you don’t wave it around in front of a police officer it’ll be fine. No one’s too fussed about that kind of stuff.”
She was working for the government this morning! Should she really be tell you it's okay to break laws?!

...well I'd be a little more fun to tease her about that if they hadn't just fired her.

>Luvi wants to change the subject. I could come up with safe dinner topics or press her on something.
Well, she asked about your day, you could tell her about your job prospects. Or what you did with Kark and stuff.

There's also sharing your crazier ideas and seeing how she reacts to them (like movie stuff, or working with aliens, or any of the other zany ideas that have passed through your head). Luvi's maybe not the best sounding board in the world, but it would be nice to see how someone with some real world experience reacts to your ideas, and you're probably never gonna find anyone less judgemental.
>>
No. 909039 ID: c1212a

>Did you have fun today?
Turn off your acting mask and find out!
>>
No. 909446 ID: 15a025

>>908938
Seconding. Ask if she's got any stories she wants to share?
>>
No. 910701 ID: 470289
File 154222102827.png - (80.50KB , 800x800 , 142.png )
910701

>Turn off your acting mask
Not yet.

“Today was… fine, considering. I wouldn’t call any part of it fun. I hope it was productive and one of my applications gets me a job.”

“I’m sure something will turn up. You can’t have thought today was boring though. You helped stop that store from being robbed!” She widens her smile.

“I didn’t really do anything, though.”

“You did something! Sometimes that’s enough.”

“Not often.” Luvi just keeps grinning, inside and out.

I talk about my day, or at least the parts she wasn’t around for. I stood around Kark while he fed me, wandered the city failing to find employment, and called her at the first sign of trouble.

“Did you have any favorites out of the jobs you looked for?”

“I don’t think so, no.”

“Well what do you want to do, Mac? Ideally?”

I mention the ideas I’ve had, and she nods and seems to just absorb what I what I say. She doesn’t give her opinion so much as try to coax me into saying more about what I want, and I’m still so unsure about that it just makes me feel worse. Once I’m done there’s a lull in the conversation as I run through things to say and dismiss them as dumb just as fast. Luvi waits a minute before finally breaking the silence.

“You’re really into books, right?”

“Not just books. I’m… interested in most types of art.”

“Is that why you were staring at that painting so hard?”

“Yeah.” I shouldn’t ask but… “What did you think about the painting?”

“I think it looked nice. Very shiny.”

“Oh.” I lose some respect for her but she either doesn’t notice or isn’t bothered. I manage to keep my dumb mouth shut otherwise, so I don’t say something that might get me kicked out.

“The guy I got the book I was reading earlier also gave me some bitterweed.” I say instead. “Do you want some?”

“I only get high on life!” She shoots me with some finger guns and by the time I realize I was supposed to laugh she’s talking again. “I’m not judging, drugs like bitterweed just make me feel all iggly wiggly. If you do smoke, can you open a window or use a smoke recycler, so the smell doesn’t get trapped in the house?”

“Yeah, no problem.”

Another silence. I stuff my mouth with food, but it doesn’t buy much time. Why am I so bad at making conversation? Being the only awkward one is somehow worse than both of us being slightly uncomfortable.

“If Rocker comes by often, I should be able to recognize him. Do you have a picture or…?”

Luvi picks up the picture and points to the scruffy redgrass. “Rocker’s in the back! He doesn’t really visit that often, though. If he does visit and I’m not around just call me, immediately.”

“He doesn’t like strangers hanging out around here?”

Her smile goes a bit strange. “He really likes strangers. But don’t worry, you’re only a stranger once! Once you get to know him, you’ll…” She seems to struggle to find the right words. “You’ll know him.”
>>
No. 910702 ID: 470289
File 154222106204.png - (102.45KB , 800x800 , 143.png )
910702

“You said you have some space stories to tell?”

“I did! What kind do you want to hear?”

“A love story.” My dumb mouth moves before my dumb brain and I stumble into the next sentence before there’s even a pause to turn awkward. “That’s something my Queen used to say. ‘Any story worth telling is a love story.’ It’s like a joke around my Hive.”

“I get it. Give me a minute, I’m not sure how many of my stories are really romantic…” Luvi scrunches up her face in thought for a moment. “Panica- the pomi in the picture- had a kind of on-and-off boyfriend for a while, but I was pretty self-absorbed when I was younger and missed a lot of context…”

“Do you know how they first met? Start there.”
>>
No. 910703 ID: 470289
File 154222111320.png - (184.07KB , 800x800 , 144.png )
910703

“I’m not sure where they met, but I know Panica and Ralth were a new thing when Panica and I first met. We needed a pilot and she was the only one we could afford to hire to take us off planet. I met him once or twice hanging around her before we shipped off on her ship. He always seemed so smitten he never noticed anything happening that wasn’t in in her eyes reflection! She didn’t talk about him much afterwards but I think they must have been pretty close even then because his stuff was all over her ship when we left.”
>>
No. 910704 ID: 470289
File 154222114518.png - (296.39KB , 1200x800 , 145.png )
910704

“The next time they met we were playing a game in… I don’t remember the name but it was a satellite somewhere. Really homey and close-knit place. I’m not entirely sure how he found us, but if I had to guess Panica kept his number and called him sometimes when we weren’t around. She teased people she liked a lot. He hitchhiked his way to us and joined us in a crew vs. crew game with some fun stakes. She spent the entire game joking around with him. I think it’s how pomis flirt? I’m not too sure, but after we won, we left the station pretty quickly.”

Luvi isn’t a very good storyteller. She’s earnest and invested, which is good, but she lacks any empathetic subtlety and is too stream of consciousness and disjointed to tell a properly compelling narrative. Plus, she skips over a lot of details so it’s hard to imagine just what she’s describing. She didn’t even say what game she was playing. Probably Go Fish or something considering her personality. I get the feeling she’s aware of how judgy I’m being, but it doesn’t bother her, and she plows through with little vignettes about the two for a while.
>>
No. 910705 ID: 470289
File 154222118379.png - (124.28KB , 800x800 , 146.png )
910705

“We just kept running into him. Or he kept running into us. You’d be surprised at how small space can feel sometimes! But usually he would show up, he and Panica would argue or be lovey dovey, or well, they were a lot of things. But I think Panica was happiest whenever he showed up.”
>>
No. 910706 ID: 470289
File 154222120858.png - (219.65KB , 1000x800 , 147.png )
910706

“She got pregnant eventually and, well, you know how pregnant ladies can be. She swore she’d blow his head off if she ever saw him again! But she said that a lot before she was pregnant too. Like I said, total kidder. Still I never saw Ralth after her kid was born and she never gives me a straight answer when I ask about him. Her son is a complete sweetie though. I’ll show you some pictures sometime!”

Luvi glances at the clock. “Oh wow, I was talking for a long time! You must be tired after the day you had. Come on, I’ll show you to your room.”
>>
No. 910708 ID: 470289
File 154222125042.png - (98.98KB , 1000x800 , 148.png )
910708

“Here’s where you’ll be staying. I’m just across the hall if you ever need me.”

It’s a room with a bed, desk, and a door to what I assume is a closet in corner. There’s not much else. I am feeling pretty tired, so if there’s anything I want to tell Luvi before I go to bed I should say it now.
>>
No. 910711 ID: af7388

>>910708

You have eaten well, you have a bed to sleep in and a creepily happy new friend to thank for it. Reflect that you could've done a lot worse for yourself.

Say "Thank you," with feeling - guilt will do in a pinch - and "Fair warning, I may have a bit of a break-down tonight... or at some point in the future, dunno." would be a good start.
>>
No. 910712 ID: c915ef

You could thank her for the food, story and place to stay. Even if the story wasn't the best, she's generous to take the time to tell it, and much more generous to have given you the meal and the bed. Get your hand on her arm or shoulder and really try push out some grateful empathy. Even if you can't manage the feeling itself well, the fact that you're trying will say something!

You could also ask her if there's anything she especially doesn't want you to do. You'll probably suffer from a little insomnia and you should ask if she minds you wandering or poking around in the night. Or, uh. Crying.

>>910706
Interesting picture. Pomi are supposed to have very tiny babies according to BTE so why did she get so much bigger? Maybe it's not the mass of the egg but pomi girls develop belly padding to protect it from damage? Or they shift metabolism while pregnant to make sure nutrients get packed in? Or maybe once she was pregnant she started stress eating, or stopped whatever exercise was keeping her slim before, or both. Maybe that contributed to the animosity.
>>
No. 910724 ID: 86eb65

Give her a hug and thank her for helping out. She has made this trying time much less traumatic and you will do your best to be a good friend.

Also ask if her old job was as a space pirate.

Oh and if she likes any type of art. Lets make her a gift. Something personal and artsy to thank her. Also will be good practice if you want to try to make a new career around art.

(don't judge her to much for liking the painting. Art is very subjective and open to personal tastes)
>>
No. 910758 ID: c1212a

>Probably Go Fish or something considering her personality.
...I think you're misjuging her there, but hey, I've never been to space nor do I know what fun stakes are.
You're a critic at heart, Mac, you should look for a job in that.

Thank her for everything she's done, you have no idea what you'd do without her.
>>
No. 910762 ID: 91ee5f

>>910708
Let Luvi know that you’re thankful for helping you out.

>>910712
>questions about Pomi pregnancy and why Panica seems to be different
You could just go and ask all of these questions in BTE to get your answers. You could even direct a few of the questions to Panica to ask why her pregnancy seems to be different and she might answer you.
>>
No. 910865 ID: 83bf07

"Thanks Luvi."
Sleep for 12 hours
>>
No. 911029 ID: afdebc

>>910708
Thanks a lot, Luvi. I don't know what I would have done today without you.
>>
No. 911047 ID: 15a025

Tell her thanks for the help!

>>910724
> Lets make her a gift. Something personal and artsy to thank her. Also will be good practice if you want to try to make a new career around art.

This also sounds like a cute idea. Try and think of something nice to make for her Mac.
>>
No. 911132 ID: 2202fb

Thought about writing a book? Books are also a form of art.
>>
No. 911827 ID: 470289
File 154325018396.png - (127.82KB , 800x800 , 149.png )
911827

>Thought about writing a book?
Judging by what happened this morning the writing gene skipped me.

>Art is very subjective and open to personal tastes.
Subjective tastes can be objectively shit.

>Ask if her old job was as a space pirate.
I’m not feeling up to making more forced jokes.

>Make Luvi a gift.
I’ll think about it. I have the feeling she’d be equally happy with anything I made for her, but I’ll fish for ideas later. Maybe I can make it a surprise.

“Luvi, thank you for… well everything, I guess. Fair warning, tonight I may have a bit of a, uh…" I can’t believe I have to say this. Thankfully she waves off the rest of my sentence.

“I understand and won’t judge. It’s tough on everyone.”

“Do you have any house rules I should know about? Besides no explosives.”

“Nope, I want you to feel at home as much as possible. Oh, wait. Don’t go into the basement, please, it’s kind of off-limits. That’s it, though!”

“Okay.” I’m too tired to ask why. I enter the room but pause. “Hey, Luvi. Thank you for telling me a story. It means a lot to me.” I still don’t want to touch her but I put a hand on her shoulder, so she gets how much I mean it.

“Anytime! Maybe I’ll get better with some practice.” She beams as she closes the door behind her. “Goodnight Maccie!”

“…Mac.” I say to myself.
>>
No. 911828 ID: 470289
File 154325019987.png - (152.82KB , 800x800 , 150.png )
911828

Stopping an act always feels slightly different, depending on who I was trying to be. On a great day it can be like waking up from a stupor because I was so far into the role. Usually it’s like finally letting myself relax after taking a hard test and I’m left a bit tired in mind, not body.

I stop thinking of myself as someone who can hold her shit together and I don’t feel any tears come. I don’t even feel surprise that I’m not crying. The misery and sense of failure I felt this morning evaporated at some point. There’s nothing behind the wall that I had up. I’m hollow.
>>
No. 911829 ID: 470289
File 154325030520.png - (159.78KB , 800x800 , 151.png )
911829

Everything is broken, and I don’t know what to do.
>>
No. 911834 ID: b1b4f3

>>911829
Look for things you can fix, and fix them.
>>
No. 911847 ID: 298905

So... remember what happened at your performance yet, then?
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