Maria turned, drawing her dagger almost as a reflex. In the doorway she saw Niarith looking back at another human shape. Maria chanced taking her SND off to see the person. It was a bored looking man in his late 40’s. He was wearing a stained blue uniform and a blue hat. He just stood there looking at them with a neutral expression on his face. After a few silent moments he simply sighed, and said “Y’know what? Just fucking take it.” and turned to walk away. Maria and Niarith just stared as the man wandered off into the darkness of the room, and ascended the staircase. After a minute passed and nothing else happened, the two girls simply looked at each other, shrugged, and left the building. No one tried to stop them.
As they walked down the street back to the Epsilon VI, Maria thought out loud “Why was it that easy? I don’t get it. It’s never that easy. They have to be tracking us, watching from these other buildings, maybe. Or a tail, perhaps, I-”
Niarith groaned. “Mariaaa, I told you, this place sucks. Nobody cares that much. You saw that place, it’s barely even a company. It’s a group of cybernetics enthusiasts who started a ‘corporation’ and made enough money to hire bottom of the barrel security. No one is following us. That guy is probably asleep at this point.”
A stronger gust of the strange upward wind made Maria shiver, and she moved closer to Niarith, and wrapped an arm around her. Niarith smiled, and leaned closer to her. Maria leaned her head on top of Niarith’s. “I love you, Niarith.”
Niarith suddenly stopped walking. “I love you too, you paranoid dork.” She kissed Maria, and Maria kissed back. The kissing escalated, and Niarith ended up pinned to the wall of the nearest building by Lucia. After several minutes of impromptu making out in the street, the pair gathered themselves, and continued on home.
They arrived onboard the Epsilon VI minutes later. Lolanene came out of the living area to greet them. “That was damn fast. Y’all get the thing?”
Mariia held up the tube containing the blueprint “Right here. We got caught, but the guy just… let us go. Just told us to take it and walked away. I think it’s a trap, but Niarith insists it’s not.”
Lolanene thought for a moment “Hmm… that does seem a lil easy, compared to the shit we’re used to. But that don’t mean nothing bad necessarily. Maybe an easy job is just an easy job?”
Niarith sighed as she leaned on the wall “That’s what I said.”
“Can we just get this thing to the client please?” Maria asked.
“Right, let’s go.” Niarith said as she walked past Maria and Lolanene, into the cockpit.
The Epsilon VI lifted off from the abandoned building it had landed on, and turned to face the massive blue sphere in the sky. “Shouldn’t take long to get there!” Niarith’s voice came over the ship’s PA system. Maria was sitting on the couch, looking at the blueprint they’d stolen. It was incomprehensible to her. Just a jumble of lines and drawings of technical objects she couldn’t make sense of. Lolanene had been excited by it, calling it a ‘cellular re-emergence convertor’, which sounded like gibberish to Maria. She was alone in the room right now, Lolanene having gone to co-pilot for Niarith, something about unstable buildings and tight spaces. Maria knew nothing about flying ships. The only time she’d ever attempted it she’d crashed and nearly died.
She killed that line of thought before it brought up bad memories. It felt good to kill it. To kill. It feels good to kill, stab and slice and make them bleee- Maria rolled up the blueprint and smacked herself in the head with it as hard as she could. Come now, Plaything, we’re going to be roommates. Resisting me will only get you so far. That thought… had been entirely in Mirideth’s voice.
Maria spoke out loud “What the fuck are you talking about, witch?”
Oh nothing, forget that, please.
Maria was suddenly very confused as to why she was holding the blueprint they’d stolen as if it were a club. She decided not to worry about it and put the blueprint back in its tube as she stood up. She made her way to the cockpit to check on their progress. “Mari! Hey honey, we’re just about to arrive!” Niarith called, not looking away from the controls. It only took one look for Maria to see why. The ship was flying very quickly between several very tall, yet poorly constructed buildings. She suddenly felt very nervous in a way she hadn’t before entering the cockpit. Within moments, the ship slowed, turned a corner, and landed on top of a small two story building made entirely of scrap metal.
Maria waited in the airlock for Niarith and Lolanene. The tube containing the blueprint was strapped to her back. Minutes later, everyone was ready, and the cargo ramp opened. The strange upward breeze was ever present, yet the area wasn’t abandoned like the last had been. The buildings and streets, though dilapidated, were brightly lit. Loud music played from somewhere nearby. The streets were filled with people, many of them cybernetically modified. As the group made their way across the rooftop, she began to notice people staying away from the building they’d landed on. They descended the outer staircase to the ground level. Several people were standing around and smoking in the alleyway, one of them had a single glowing red synthetic eye in the center of his head. Another had hair that was made of what looked like metal sheets with small blinking green lights all over them. She seemed capable of moving the metal sheets independently. And the third just looked like an average man, other than his metal hand. Maria tried her best not to stare, but it was difficult. The man with the red eye watched her carefully, the eye had no pupil, just a black crosshair that followed her.
As they exited the alley and turned the corner, Maria saw the bright pink neon sign hanging off the building they’d landed on. It read ‘Dark Angel’s House of Mods’. On a smaller bit of the sign was writing in what looked like white paint ‘est. 4389’ Niarith stopped and stared at the year stated on the sign. “That can’t be right.”
“Why’s that?” Lolanene asked.
“Because it’s currently 5030. 4389 was 641 years ago.”
“Maybe it’s a family business?” Maria chimed in.
“This moon hasn’t been settled for anywhere close to that long.. I… Whatever the reason, we’ve got a job to finish and an evil empress to exorcise. Let’s get in there.” Niarith strode forward and opened the door, entering the building. Lolanene followed after her, as Maria took one last look at the three cyborgs, learning against the wall in the alley. Then she entered as well.
The room they entered into was dimly lit, by pink lights along the tops of the scrap metal walls. The room was roughly U shaped, with seating placed along the outer wall, and doors leading to various other rooms. In the center wall, facing the door, was a small brightly lit reception cubicle. In it sat a bored looking woman. The lower half of her face had been replaced with a metal… cat muzzle, complete with poly whiskers. Maria didn’t know whether to be disturbed or fascinated. Upon further inspection, the woman also had metal plates over where her ears had been, and further up on her head, were fuzzy cat ears. One of them idly twitched.
The cat woman looked up at the three of them, her green eyes sparkling with sudden excitement. “Oh. My. GOSH!!! You’re here!!!” She jumped up from her seat, and a segmented metal tail flew up behind her. Her legs were also made of metal, and were a strange hybrid of human thighs and digitigrade feline calves and feet. The mechanical cat girl began jumping up and down in excitement saying “Ohmigosh” over and over. Maria noted that the entire interior of her mouth was metal. Including her tongue. She idly wondered if she could still taste things.
Suddenly the woman’s eyes began to glow a light pink color, burning with it, Like Mirideth. She said, still in her own voice, though slurred and somewhat sleepy sounding “What have I told you about getting over excited in front of the clients, Lechalia? You will sit down, and you will allow them entry into the workshop.” The woman then sat down again and pressed a button on the desk. A buzzer sounded and a door opened. The cat woman, now empty of emotion, simply gestured to the open door without another word.
“Guess we’re goin’ in there.” Lolanene took the lead and entered the room beyond. Maria and Niarith followed.
The room was almost the size of the building itself. It was full of various machines and bits of tech that Maria didn’t recognize. Things were strewn everywhere, the place was a mess. There was a catwalk around the right edge of the room, with doors along the wall. In the back of the large room, was a figure standing over a workbench. It was a tall, feminine form. As her eyes adjusted to the even dimmer light, she saw that it was a woman, she was wearing dark brown overalls, which were open at her back. She was fairly pale skinned, and had hair a slightly darker blonde than Maria’s own. Every few seconds a bright light and sparks flew out from in front of the woman.
The three of them stopped about halfway to the woman, and Niarith said “Uh… hello?”
The woman simply raised her hand, extended her index finger for a moment, then went back to work.
“DrkAngl39?” Niarith asked.
There was no response for almost a minute, but finally, the woman turned around. Maria was embarrassed to realize the first thing she noticed was the woman’s breasts. They were large, and barely contained by the flap of the overalls covering them. Tearing her eyes away from that, Maria noticed the woman’s hair was in rough pigtails, and she was wearing some kind of visor that glowed with a light pink light from within. She was grinning widely. Attached to her hip was some sort of industrial equipment. And many bits of tech and tools were hanging from every loop, pocket, and tear in the overalls.
She stared for a few seconds, then said in a cheery, feminine voice, whilst pointing to herself with both thumbs “Thaaat’s me! You guys got my blueprint?”
Maria stepped forward “Right here.” She took the tube off her shoulders and handed it over to the woman.
She took it, carefully opening the tube, removing the blueprint and unceremoniously dropping the tube on the floor. She unrolled the blueprint and examined it, the pink light from her visor faintly illuminating the paper. She grinned again and said “Yep! This is a cellular re-emergence converter alright! Fuck yeah!” She did a little jump and pumped a fist in the air as she said the last few words. She carefully rolled the blueprint back up, picked up the tube, closed it, and threw it into a random pile of junk on the floor.
Maria was dumbstruck. “I… we just stole that for you. You’re not even gonna look at it for more than a few seconds?”
The woman turned to her and smiled “Well duh, it was made by my main competitor. I just needed it here, and not there.” She shrugged “I dunno what the fuck it does.” She stepped closer to the group. “So, you’ve got some problems with an AI in one of your brains or somethin’?”
Niarith nodded. “Something like that… It’s… less a brain, more of an entire nervous syst-”
“Hold the fuck up.” The woman interrupted “Is it… could it… Mirideth? Asazlaiyn, is it you, you crazy bitch?”
Everyone else in the room was shocked by the woman’s casual mention of Mirideth, when none of them had said her name before. Everyone except Niarith. Niarith’s eyes were glowing teal, burning with it. And she was laughing. Not a maniacal, unsettling laugh, but genuine, jovial one.
“Oh Myrrhdta, however did you guess?” She asked
Myrrhdta simply smirked and said “I recognize my own work when I see it, Miri.”