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(Setting)The Distinguished: Midnight bar

| >In the newly opened midnight a certain man was working overtime, it was his own pride and joy's grand re-opening, he couldn't help staying and working 20 hours to get things started.
>"The distinguished" was the result of a lot of his effort and several months of bartering with the BTC and the city for a special license to serve patrons that happened to come close to the waterfront in midnight to take in the sights.

| >The bar itself was something anyone would expect to exist in some kind of Noir trideo series on some old chain TV. It had a large dark oak counter, dim lighting and padded walls with golden trimmings, the windows were made to look like old stained glass and the lights were synthetic candles. It was all in all a cozy place, if not a tad too dark.

| >The bar itself was something anyone would expect to exist in some kind of Noir trideo series on some old chain TV. It had a large dark oak counter, dim lighting and padded walls with golden trimmings, the windows were made to look like old stained glass and the lights were synthetic candles. It was all in all a cozy place, if not a tad too dark.

| >The man at the counter also looked the part, being a tall and pale man with a nicely groomed mustache and a two piece black tuxedo, his high cheekbones and piercing blue eyes gave him a further air of mystique and intelligence... if one could look past the dark circles under his eyes from the lack of sleep.

>He simply stood, waiting for patrons to chat the night away while listening to the calm jazz from the retro jukebox set beside him

| >The man at the counter also looked the part, being a tall and pale man with a nicely groomed mustache and a two piece black tuxedo, his high cheekbones and piercing blue eyes gave him a further air of mystique and intelligence... if one could look past the dark circles under his eyes from the lack of sleep.

>He simply stood, waiting for patrons to chat the night away while listening to the calm jazz from the retro jukebox set beside him

| >>617724
>A cute girl, blond with blue eyes, walks into the bar. Dressed in a full gothic lolita outfit, she looked quite... strange
"My, such a charming shop."
>She takes a seat at the counter and plops down a small munchkin kitten on it's top
"Do you mind the cat?"

| >the cat

| >The man behind the counter takes note of the... unusual guest and bows a bit before speaking a clear, and somewhat posh voice, complete with a subtle English accent

"Welcome milady, to the Distinguished, my name is Vincent and I will have the pleasure of serving you tonight"

>He says, showing a warm smile despite his fatigue

| >>617747

"Oh, I do not mind the cat, so long as they behave"

>He gives the cat a look and a nod

| >>617758
"Milady? Oh please, I'm a little too old to be called that, fufu."
>Despite her words, she seems pleased
"Let us begin with something sweet then, I'd like a White Russian if you could."

| >>617845
>Vincent nods and smiles

"There is no need for modesty, age in itself brings out charm"

>A glass slides along the bar straight into your hand, filled about halfway with the drink in question

"You know quite the classic drink though, not a lot of people order these anymore"

| >>617851
"Aren't you a charming man, fufu."
>She sips the drink
"My father never drinks, but if he were forced to, he said he'd want this. I simply wanted to see what he was on about..."
>She takes another sip
"It's quite sweet."

| >Someone enters the bar. They're wearing a motorcycle helmet, but both their stature and build suggests they're a man. A long winter coat hugs their body, embellished with faux fur at the hood.

| >>617864
>The petite girl sends the newcomer a look and raises an eyebrow... and the cat meows again
"My, my..."

| >>617872
>If this newcomer acknowledges the look, they make no indication they have.. Not through body language alone. They stride up to the bar and sit down a few seats away from the other bargoer, maintaining a respectful distance.

| >>617880
"A shy one? You can sit closer, dear. I don't bite, most of the time."
>The girl says, a hand on her chin and a grin on her face

| >>617891
>Their shoulders raise, but their expressions remain undetectable under the glint of the visor. One, two three steps and their new spot is the seat adjacent. If she insists.
>They tilt their head curiously at the kitten on the counter but it only lingers before it ultimately returns to the bar. Come what may, they're still getting a drink.

| >>617902
>The girl seems pleased, amusee even
"Vincent, their next drink is on me."
>She smiles... the cat meows

| >The bar's next visitor nearly takes a nosedive into the floor as they trip while trying to cross the threshold of the doorway. They snarl, and curse quietly to themselves, fixing the cap they've got shading their face that was accidentally flung into sitting at some jaunty angle when they took their little spill.

"... 'thrive on exhaustion', my ass..."

>They mutter darkly, shuffling towards the counter. It's a miracle they even find a seat to throw themselves onto.

| >>617911
>Their eyes might be up front but their hands are busy. They're in the middle of withdrawing something from their person when they recieve this announcement, and seem to be pretty nervous about it. They look to their open jacket, to the girl, to the bartender, head twitching slightly for every movement. Wait, maybe they weren't here for drinks?
>Oh well!

| >>617915
>The gothloli sends a glance to the newest arrival
"Ara? Another visitor... fufu, how about a drink, I can pay for a few."
>Her blue eyes flicker with glee

| >>617921
>Upon hearing the gothloli's purr of a giggle float across the bar, the new patron's head whips her way... then, immediately they look downward, the brim of their hat obscuring their face entirely. Their response sounds more like a wavering groan than it does a half- formed sentence:

"Uh... n--... oh, no... uh-uh..."

>After uttering a refusal, they turn away from the woman and slump into the countertop.

| >>617936
"Aaah, so mean. I insist however, I'd love if you took me up on it."
>Her gaze is piercing, and no longer amused

| >>617942
>You knew she was going to be here. She said it loud and clear-- right in the thread! You knew it, and you showed up anyway, like the impulsive wreck you are. A loud and very exasperated sigh escapes them, and their slouch deepens further-- eventually until they rest their head in their arms. From within this makeshift shelter comes a muffled:

"... Fucking... save it for Geeknerd, Arcand..."

>You /know/ this earthling?

| >>617954
>The gothloli, called Arcand by the other patron, smiles
"I will, but I'd like for you to forgive me for that mean prank already. You'll ruin your beautiful face if you keep pouting like that."
>Arcand sighs, and cups her chin after a sip of her drink
"It's a free drink, why refuse?"

| >>617957
>The current object of "Arcand"'s affections makes a noise in the back of their throat indicative of disgust, and peeks out from behind their forearms, letting the woman get a glimpse of a single dark eye, a shock of messy brown hair...

"'Cause nothing here's 'free'. Second I take a sip of that thing, you're gonna be telling me I owe you more pics of my 'beautiful face' for your collection, or some shit."

>... and the glint of stainless steel over their temple.

| >>617981
>Arcand sighs, somewhat dissatisfied
"So little faith. I promise, no strings attached, on my mother's name. Just a free drink."
>She crosses her legs
>The cat meows

| >>618021
>The moody patron scowls, and sits up reluctantly, doffing their cap with a displeased grunt. With the shadow cast over their features now absent, it's easier to discern the reason for their grumbling tone: they look (and feel) absolutely dreadful. On this barstool, maybe 3 seats down from Arcand, sits a woman with dark crescents under her eyes fit to rival Vincent's-- wan face only serving to exaggerate. Her bangs hang limply by her cheekbones. She brushes them away.

| >>618068
"A beer. Big one."

>She leans in Vincent's general direction as she speaks her order, but keeps her gaze on Arcand.

>She squints at the customer in the motorcycle helmet sitting next to the woman swimming in ruffles and lace-- quite the contrast between the these two, as far as appearances are concerned.

"This chummer a friend of yours?"

>She waves a hand over her face, and says to the man dryly:

"Smart move, covering up around her."

| >>618086
"A beer it is"

>Vincent prepares the drink along with a nod, he also turns to the other patron with a small smile.

"Feel free to order anything you'd like"

| >>618086
>Alice sighs and drops her head on the counter, within the cat's fluffy coat of fur
"Man, you sure don't like me."
>She seems to have dropped the mysterious attitude now, instead speaking frankly
"This city always brings down my mood, sheesh."

| >>618233

>She nods to the bartender, then begrudgingly decides she may as well show Alice some semblance of gratitude as well.


"And... thanks..."

>She shakes her head weakly in response to the woman's comment, pinching the bridge of her nose and squeezing her eyes shut.

"Don't like >>>anyone after a 14 hour flight, Arcand. Turns out, I don't run on fumes as well as I used to..."

>She watches the bartender mix her drink with subdued interest.

| >>618021
>The cat mewing doesn't escape her attention. She eyes the little feline, and says to Alice:

"Vita at home?"

| >>618289
"You could say that. This here is Vitae... terrible name, isn't it?"
>She gives the cat a few pets
"I'm keeping her while the owner is doing... whatever it is they do."
>She waves her hand
"Still, a 14 hour flight, hmmm, went out of town? That's surprising."
>Alice Arcand takes out a small box of cigarettes and turns to the bartender
"Can I smoke?"

| >>618285
>The beer makes its way to you as you talk, foaming and sparkling, a small drop of condensation slides down the side of the glass, as if on cue to show the coldness of the drink within. It sure looks good.

>Vincent nods and looks around

"If the other patrons dont mind, then I won't mind either"

| >>618295
>The woman's irises flick from Alice's face down to the munchkin cat that she's begun to stroke.

"... Less of a mouthful than 'fun-sized Vita'."

>She exhales sharply through her nose-- either an expression of amusement at her own joke, or of irritation over her unplanned trip home.

"... Had to. Stuff to take care of back in Niihama."

>She dips into the pocket of her jacket...

"... Had a layover in Hokkaido for no fuckin' reason other than the pilot wanted >>>milk--"

| >>618341
>... And, produces a couple of small bottles, made of thick glass and filled with something that looks cream. Upon closer inspection, you can see a thin layer of some kind of caramel-colored syrup lining the bottom.

"-- made things a lot longer than they had to be. Woulda shaved some travel time off if she hadn't taken a detour to do her... fuckin' grocery shopping."

>She holds one of the bottles from it's top, waggling it at Alice.

"プリン. You want it? I don't."

| >>618332
>Hearing the 'tender set her beer down on the table, the woman turns his way and eagerly goes to take the refreshing-looking drink in her hands. As soon as she lays her palm against the cool glass, though, she withdraws it, looking a little startled.

"Tch, stupid..."

>She shakes her head, pulls the cuff of her sleeve up to the tips of her fingers, then finally grabs her beer.

"Don't mind. Might just join you, in a sec."

| >A young man in a blue trenchcoat walks in, carrying a large blue and black deck on his back. He takes a look around the place.
"Looks at lot swankier inside than I thought."

| >>618424
>The woman takes a long draught of her beer, closing her eyes as the cool carbonation slakes her thirst, and makes her feel just the tiniest bit less dead. This pleasant moment comes to an end when Mr. Blue Trench comes waltzing into the bar-- her lip curls, and she mumbles something into her drink before knocking back some more of it.

| >>618437
>The man spots the woman and walks
"Yo, how was the flight over?"

| >>618439
>She scoffs, and picks up another one of the pudding filled bottles, fixing to throw it his way.

"Oh, you know-- with Wings in the cockpit? An absolute fucking >>>dream. Catch."

>She waits until the man's only a couple of feet away before giving the bottle a little underhand toss in his direction-- wouldn't want to miss and dirty the bar floor, after all.

| >>618442
>He looks shocked as he panics and narrowly manages to catch the bottle. He looks at it and shakes it a little.
"What... is in this?"

| >>618443
>The woman blinks, and says simply:


>Her hands now freed up, she reaches into her breast pocket to retrieve her own pack of cigarettes, shooting a glance at Alice in the process.

"Gonna say 'hi' to your mistress over there? Buying other dudes drinks, y'know-- might just take one home if you keep ignoring her."

>She shakes one out of the box, and tucks it behind her ear, eyeing the man warily as she does so.

"Don't you dare fuckin' tattle on me for this."

| >The bartender eyes the new arrival and cocks an eyebrow

"Is blue in fashion lately, I seem to remember seeing a lot of people in blue coats recently... Maybe it was just me"

>He chuckles

"But I digress. Welcome sir, please have a seat and a drink, make yourself at home"

| >>618446
"I... wasnt expecting that in a bottle."
>He takes a "sip"
"Hey I think as long as you dont light it there isn't much to say."
"Thank you"
>He takes a seat next to the woman he was speaking to.
"What's your name?"

| >>618452
"If you mean me, then the name is Vincent Sutherland"

>He executes a perfect 45 degree angle bow before the man in blue

"I serve as the tender of this fine establishement by night and as a tour guide by day, its a pleasure to meet you sir"

| >>618452
"The good kind is. They steam it in this thing-- 's how they get it so soft, like..."

>She pauses, drumming her fingers on the table as she tries to come up with a fitting comparison.

"... Dishwasher steak."

>Satisfied, she takes another large sip of her beer, wiping her mouth on the back of her hand before she raises an eyebrow at the man in the trench.

"No, I was just gonna >>>leave it there, dumbass-- 'course it's getting lit."

>Like you, y'mean?

| >>618453
"Nice to meet you Vincent. I'm CN."
>He nods and grins in acknowledgment
"Tours of... what?"
"I... don't know what that is but sure. Either way, shouldnt you be quitting that thing thanks to the onsen."

| >>618458
"Bachelor's 'sous vide'."

>The woman polishes off her beer, holding it by the rim just a centimeter above the counter and dropping the empty glass back down on the bartop with a muted "clunk". It rattles for a moment before settling.

"... I'm >>>stressed."

>She drops the snark for a moment, and grimaces deeply.

"Sure he told you why."

| >>618461
"Yeah... my condolences. I'm sure Ace didn't help with her whole... Hokkaido milk thing."

| >>618464
"Yeah, no."

>The woman massages her temples and rakes her fingers through her hair, staring down into the polished wood of the bar counter.

"No, she didn't."

>Another pause, before she raises her gaze to meet the bartender's.


"... Know how to make a lemon sour, Vincent? Wanna honor someone who used to drink 'em."

>She turns to CN.

"Want one? Or, you still doing that whole 'I don't drink on the job' thing?"

| >>618467
"I think I can make an exception today."
>He grins a little
"Make it two Vincent."

| >>618467
>Vincent slowly and silently nods his head, a fine reason to drink if he ever heard one.
>Two yellow drinks make their way into both of your hands as Vincent swiftly prepares the drinks, the ice within clinks as he speaks up to the man in blue

"I show people around town since its changed so much, it doesnt pay much, but its good fun and a little sideline for someone who likes to talk to people"

| >>618467
>Alice sighs and finally gets her head up from the cat who she was using as a pillow
"CN, huh? How are you doing? Fine, I hope."
"I'll pay for their drinks, Vincent."
>She dusts off her dress of the cat fur on it
"Did you two plan to meet?"

| >>618488
>The woman solemnly lifts her glass, silently toasting absent friends, and family. She takes a sip, then sets the drink down on the table. She bows her head and murmurs quietly to Vincent, very appreciative of his apparent prowess as a mixologist:

"... ほんまおおきに."

>She gives Alice a look, and says flatly:

"Y'think I'd >>>plan to meet up with>>>this bithead?

>She jerks a thumb in CN's direction.

"Just showed up, omae. 'Sides, wouldn't wanna step on your toes."

| >A sudden burst of noise is heard as the door slams open, revealing a short cat boomer in a pink overcoat who promptly walks in. She appears to be quite exhausted, breathing heavily as her chest heaves up and forth.
>She takes a pause and wipes away her sweat before walking to the counter with loud steps, she practically jumps over a bench and makes a hand gesture to Vincent
"Vincent! Did you see Anii-sama come by?"
>She says, in a loud and worried voice

| >>618503
"My, so mean. I thought you two somewhat got along, suppose I was wrong."
>Alice takes her cat and scratches it's stomach
"Well, I did say I would check Midnight, never did it occur to me that I should do it with anyone. I'm waiting for someone."

| >>618507
>Vincent almost jumps in place from the loud new arrival, but recognizing the young Cat Boomer he takes a deep breath and calms down.

"If it's Dr.Ukone you're looking for he left right before I opened... Why are you looking for him?"

>He cocks an eyebrow and smiles

| >>618509
>The girl seems sapped, and she slumps down as Vincent answers her question, she falls with a thump on the counter, not minding the other customers in the slightest as she does.
>She stays silent for an instant, and heaves a huge sigh
"Even though I told him there was work to do, even though I warned him it was dangerous to walk alone at night... Anii-sama..."
>She whimpers

| >>618488
"Huh, so newbie tours. I think I'll send someone your way next time they need help finding their way around town."
"Thanks Alice! And I'm good, hope you are too. And... well we were both heading towards Midnight, so I guess this was just a coincidence."
>CN shrugs
>He joins a toast and takes a sip of the drink
"Truly you're a great chummer, treating your good pal CN like this.
"Nah we are, shes just bad at showing affection. You should see her when we mention her 'lover'.
>He extends the vowels to put emphasis.
"Um excuse me, I cant help but overhear. Do you need help?"

| >>618536
>The girl lifts her face a few centimeters off the edge of the bar, her red eyes surrounded by messy brown hair look at you suspiciously
"I'll... I don't even know if I'll even find him... Anii-sama is good at hiding his work from me. So I'm not sure you could help..."
>She says, weakly as she slumps back, lifting her head fully and straightening her back on the stool.
>Now that you get a proper look, she's very young, probably no more than 16

| >>618536
>Vincent turns back to CN

"I will be holding you up to that, its good fun, and its always helpful to know the lay of the land if you plan on spending evenings here in Midnight."

>He says with a nod

| >>618540
"Well not to toot my own horn but I've managed to uncover corp conspiracy even they didnt want to know. I cant guarantee I can find them but I can probably at least a degree.
"Speaking of, would you happen to know about 3 black towers in the area?"

| >>618547
>The girl stays silent and her eyes show clear suspicion again
"Who are you anyway..."
>She asks, timidly

| >>618547
"Well I don't know about black, but if it's towers you're looking for... Then I'm surprised you haven't noticed them yet"

>Saying as such, Vincent points a finger to the only clear window in the shop, the one with the bar's name printed on it. It seems to face the waterfront...

| >>618508
"Just telling the truth, Arcand-- don't think any of me 'n Geeky's meetings have ever been planned... except for the one that happened after I almost bit it. Wasn't my idea, though."

>She shrugs, and brings her glass back to her lips just as CN makes his cute little remark about her partner. The woman splutters, and scowls at the decker.

"You know he'd >>>beg to disagree; fuck off--!"

>Some color seems to be making it's way back into her face...

| >>618549
"My name is CN, I'm a hacker by trade. So I'm good at hiding out things about something or someone all from one place. Though I can move around if need be."
"Well if you're so sure ol' master of love, then why is your face getting so red hmm...?"
>He points at her to add to the teasing
"Wait don't tell me it's in view from here..."
>He looks through the window.

| >>618555
>And as you do, you see three gigantic towers standing in the distance, alone amidst the water where their reflections seem to stretch until the shore
>They're massive, dwarfing even the skyscrapers in the distance... Each one features bands of green light slowly beating, along with a full set of warning lights for planes and other aircrafts.
>A gigantic ACRAS logo adorns the closest tower along with a stylized [01] printed right under it

| >>618557
"ACRAS... of course."
>CN sighs
"How the hell am I supposed to get there though..."

| >>618558
>The girl also takes a look outside, mulling over the "Hacker" part of that simple self-introduction...
>She turns her head back to CN as he speaks
"... Why do you want to go to the Loop? I'm not sure a hacker would do too good in there"
>She asks

| >>618559
"Well there was a thread online about it so I was curious is all. Sounds like you know something about it though. Do you work for ACRAS?"

| >>618566
>The girl shakes her head, and rummages through her pockets
"No... but I work with them, sort of. I a way atleast"
>She pulls out a plastic card and sets it on the counter before you, seems to be some kind of ID.
>A logo is stamped in the left side corner, it reads Department of Advanced Research and Technology [DART]

| >>618570
"Well Ms. Kitsu, I assume yourissing friend is related to ACRAS as well then? Maybe it's not a coincidence we ran into each other then. Missing person and a mysterious building online all related. I cant help but feels that's related no?"

| >>618580
>Nekone simply looks at CN, her mouth forming a perfect く as she does.
"He's not my friend, he's my Anii-sama, my brother... he's the one you need to see if you want to hear anything about the accelerator, I'm just an assistant"
>She says, weakly
"What's this about a "Thread" anyways"

| >>618583
>CN shrugs
"I dont anything about the accelerator. And an online text thread?"
>He pulls out his phone and shows them the thread in question.

| >>618596
>Nekone bends over a bit, reading through the thread while raising an eyebrow
"That's some creepy stuff... I can't say I know what it's talking about, but it's true the Gravitron is the heart of the Midnight Loop... or well any Magnetrine Accelerator"
>She says, pondering over the thread
"This may also be related to... nah can't be"
>She mumbles, inaudibly

| >While CN and the young cat Boomer chat, Vincent simply smiles and turns to the other patron >>618503, seeing as her drink was running low

"Do you wish for anything else in particular miss? Maybe something that might wake you up a little more?"

>He asks her politely

| >>618598
"Related to what...?"
>CN pushes the topic, curious what she is holding back.

| >>618555
>The woman growls something rather sinister-sounding, enough that CN's probably glad he didn't hear. She zones out a bit as he chats up the Boomer who's come flying into the bar like the sky outside is about to fall... until the decker turns his attention to these three towers he's asked the bartender about. She follows CN's line of sight out the window...

>... And is greeted by a sight that feels... familiar? She frowns, puzzled.

| >>618631
>She gets the feeling she's seen these buildings before, somewhere else-- those pulsing green lights spark some dim recognition in the back of her head. Where, though...?

>So lost in thought is she that she almost misses Vincent's offer to mix her another drink-- she stares at him blankly.

"Huh? Oh-- uh..."

>Something to wake her up, huh? She flounders, glancing back at the towers again, and finds herself wondering for some reason if this bar does omakase...

| >>618634
>It's at this time she remembers the cigarette she's tucked behind her ear-- between the flight home and this skyline she can't seem to place, she's feeling pretty unsettled-- and she figures this'll level her out. There's just one thing...

">>>HEY!! Can you hear me through that thing?!"

>Most of the bar's patrons have already weighed in on whether or not she can have a light-- Helmet Head, however, has remained silent. She figures she should allow him a vote.

| >>618608
"... It's nothing, just a bunch of rumors"
>Nekone says as she turns her head to look outside
"... They say some people have gone missing in the district is all, and some scientist at work told Anii-sama about some weird tape he found"
>She says, barely audible... in the end she does talk huh

| >>618634
>A sudden flash seems to hit your cyberbrain, along with a vision... You remember a man with a mask and a walk in some park... You remember walking home after he bid you farewell... The sight that welcomed you, the three towers in midnight; along with the police officer who let you off with a warning...

| >Alice Arcand takes a drag of her cigarette and sighs
"How do you guys miss something big like that? It was all the talk on the news..."
>The cat is now sleeping

| >>618719
>No sooner has she finished hollering at the man in the visor than she's overwhelmed by this rapid-fire series of images playing out like a hastily stitched-together slideshow in front of her mind's eye. The woman's mouth drops open in shock... and she quickly brings a hand to her face to cover this. That's it. /That's/ where she knew these from. She feels a pang in her chest, and sighs, rubbing gingerly at her bleary eyes.

| >>618718
"Weird tape...? The weird experiment logs type or something else?"
"Hey in our defense the black kind of blends in with the night sky."
>CN leans closer to Aikawa to check in on her
"H-Hey you okay...? You're not being attacked right now are you?"

| >>618875
>The woman's shoulders jump towards her ears and she flinches-- seemingly snapping out of whatever she's wrapped up in when CN asks her what the deal is. A hack? It's reasonable for him to assume as much, but...

"No... don't think I am, anyway."

>She won't deny the fact that this suggestion has put her on guard, though.

"Just... remembered something; that's all."

>From this point forward, his cooking's /always/ going to win out against her 'ma's, she thinks to herself.

| >>618875
>Nekone shakes her head with a dubious expression
"Who would keep logs on tapes... Do you /Know/ how old those things are Mister Hacker"
>She shakes her head
"Music tapes, you know, the super retro kind, a researcher was obsessed with them back at ACRAS"

| >>618893
"Well... as long as your sure. I got my deck right here if you assistance."
"What do cassettes have to do with the rumors though?"

| >>618903
"That's why I said it couldnt be... See that researcher kinda disappeared last year, and most of hus stuff, including those tapes and his art collection was liquidated... Anii-sama was worried something related to any secret projects were sold alongside the rest of his stuff."
>She says in a single breath, before letting out a large sigh
"And one of the things he liked to collect was tapes, old ones. A researcher who received one prior said ever since he listened to it..."

| >>618908
>She pauses for a second
"Well he says he cant fall asleep easily,and that he hears things at night. And he told Anii-sama he would wake up outside his room at night..."
>She says, leaning in
"I don't believe it, but my brother is a bit more gullible"

| >>618910
"So you think your bro being how he is, went after this missing researcher cause of what they said prior to the disappearance?"

| >>618903
"Commlink's off. Being good, >>>mom; promise."

>The woman rolls her eyes, and slowly returns to nursing her lemon sour, looking weary. She fidgets while she tries to drum up a request for Vincent--lacing and unlacing her fingers before she begins to tap them against the bartop.

"Uh... what... would you suggest...?"

>Without noticing, she begins to bounce one of her legs beneath the counter, coming just shy of whacking a knee against it's underside.

| >>618968
"Hey I'm not Mombot. Just making sure since the last time was in a bar as well."
>CN sighs, taking a large sip of his lemon sour. He glances down a moment to notice her fidgeting leg, but decides best not to bring it up for now.

| >>618934
"I'd think yeah... He's such a handful"
>She says, there's hint of sadness in her expression

| >>618968
"How about a nice Hot cocoa with some Irish cream? Its not very alcoholic, but the taste and warmth is something to die for"

>Vincent says, pulling out a small decorated coffee cup

"How about it?"

| >>618972
"Heh, I think I can relate a little. I have some people at home who always go at their own pace as well and never listen. Well he must have left *some* clue of where hes gone. Where have you searched already?"

| >>618974
"I didnt say anything about letting you..."
>She looks up and smiles weakly
"Not sure saying no would stop you anyway though. Haaa. I only looked around the neighborhood and around the waterfront, if I had to guess anywhere, I'd say the park is a strong contender in possible locations though"

| >>618973

>The woman mulls this over for a moment: she isn't normally one for sweets, but...

"... Sure-- y' make a good lemon sour; seem to know what you're doing... go for it, Vincent."

>Honestly, it sounds like something her partner might order. Maybe she can take a bit of comfort in that, somehow.

| >>618983
"I guess in my own way I'm pretty stubborn as well."
>CN chuckles
"Which park? Neko park?"

| >>618990
"Is that the name of it? It might have been, I haven't lived here for too long."
>She mulls over the name for a bit, trying to remember the name of the park her brother had cut newspaper articles of...
"I think it was yeah?"

| >>619023
"If it's the sort of famous one refurbished by Jinterprises, that would be the one yeah."

| >>618984
>The tender nods, and serves the hot drink to you. Along with some whipped cream and ground nutmeg to garnish, it smells good

| >>619076
>Out of habit, the woman leans forward to give the hot chocolate a good sniff-- the scent of cocoa and nutmeg mixed together quite inviting-- and nearly ends up with a nose full of whipped cream in the process. She jerks her head away in surprise, and jams her eyes shut, rubbing her face clean on the sleeve of her jacket. As she peeks out from behind her forearm, she finds herself hoping to god no one fucking saw that.

| >>619093
"I think that goes in your mouth, overshot which hole you were putting that cream there."
>CN chuckles

| >>619094
>The woman keeps her back to CN and flips him the bird over her shoulder before she gets to work trying to pick up her mug... how to even approach this drink, between the mountain of cream and the searing ceramic? Again, she slides the cuffs of her sleeves over her hands, but seems to have a lot of trouble keeping them there.

"... starting to regret telling him that was a shitty idea back then..."

>She groans to herself, trying to get a good grip on the cup.

| >>619096
>A small golden metal straw is passed along to you by Vincent, he smiles

"Pray be careful, I did adjust the temperature but it's still quite warm"

| >>619096
"A member of the Dynamofucks defeated by a cup of hot cocoa. Really what a close matchup. Heh, guess I shouldn't talk. You should had seen Merc back in BP's birthday party a couple years back when she tried to eat spicy chicken. At least you didnt pass out."

| >>619101
>Vincent earns a... very strange look from the woman as she takes the straw from him, staring like it's going to suddenly disappear if she lets go, or breaks her gaze.


>Then, one of her lips starts to tremble. She bites it, trying to rein it in-- but, it's too little, too late. The best she can do is slap a hand over her face, nose jutting out between her index and middle fingers, and hope to god that'll stifle that fit of giggling she can feel coming on.

| >>619113

>... Surprise, it doesn't. She snickers loudly into her her palm, and after slipping the straw into her drink, pounds her fist against the counter a couple of times. She doesn't know if it's the sleep deprivation making this as hysterical as it seems, or if it's the memory of the first time this happened getting the better of her.


>Ah, whatever's causing it, it doesn't matter. Hidden under her hand, is the first real grin that's crossed her face in a week.

| >>619114
>The woman snatches her phone from her pocket, and takes a shaky photo of Vincent's handiwork, now complete. She taps away at the screen for a second before shaking her head at herself, and presumably whoever's on the receiving end of the message she's sending. She continues to bite her lip, smile breaking through anyway.

"'Member?' Since when are me and Walker >>>'members' of your group? We just live in your>>>house, omae-- couple of tenants, that's it."

| >>619116
"I mean you've lived with us for like a year now. Gotten to know each other and the kids, and help each other out. I think it's unfair to say you just live in the same living space as us after all that."

| >>619117
>The woman takes a careful sip of her drink, pleased by the temperature adjustment, though unnecessary for her tongue-- normally, she drinks her morning coffee scalding, much to her roommate's confusion and dismay. She takes one more picture (this one of herself, smiling, with the straw between her teeth) before putting her phone away and turning to CN.

"... Put 'honorary' in front of it, 'n maybe it'll be easier to swallow for me."

| >>619301
>CN shrugs
"Sure, I guess if it makes you feel more comfortable with it I suppose."
>CN goes back to his lemon sour, though you can see a hint of disappointment in his face.

| >Alice has fallen asleep on the bar's counter, and the cat is serving as her makeshift pillow
"Urgh... hate..."
>She keeps mumbling

| >>619301
>The drink is quite tasty, not as sweet as one could expect and with just enough of an alcoholic kick to it. Its warmth is almost soothing

| >>619406
"Hope the cat is okay..."
>CN muses

| >A man enters the bar wearing a plate carriers on top of a set of multicam fatigue. The man's face

| (Accidentally hit submit, sorry)
>The man face is covered by a one-hole balaclava and a MICH helmet. He has a military backpack on his back, a pistol holstered by his side and a rifle slung over his shoulder. Even though his face is covered, he seems to mean no harm, because he would have started shooting already otherwise
"Good day, I hope weapons are allowed? I promise to cause no trouble."

| >>618680
>They, no
>/He/ has been unresponsive the entire time. The only thing he's done is place the item on the counter, though if it was what he was going to show in the first place it's hard to say. Their nervousness heightened during the second to last patron's entrance but at this point, he's calmed considerably.

| "..."
>Suddenly, he looks up. Helmet Head holds a hand to the side of his.. Well, helmet, and he lets it rest there for a moment before jamming fingers in the underside and pulling it up until his mouth is free. A distinctly masculine voice comes out:
".....I'll have what she's having."
>And he crooks his thumb over to the scraggly gal with the cap and straw.

| >In the meanwhile, let's make sure there's only one guy wearing junk on their head. He pops the bike helmet off and sets it on the counter, moving the item aside like a chess piece. He quickly pulls a hood over his head, yanking further on the side where Aikawa is seated. Something makes him sigh.

| >A hood? /The/ hood. Moving on!

| >So, what does this guy look like?
>Curly black hair peeks out from under the fur, bangs long enough to obscure the eyes.. And little else. Yes, there's little else to tell with everything still zipped up, though his olive skin is plain to see and when he turns his head to scratch at his jaw you'll notice he must have shaved pretty recently!
>..Jeez. If you couldn't see half his face in the first place, what was the point of revealing anything, anyway..

| "Mind if I ask you a few questions of my own? I know you already got plenty."
>He's addressing Vincent again. Even quieter now, barely a murmur. Whatever he's referring to, it must be related to that girl that barged in earlier. Nobody else had asked anything.

| >>619674
>Aikawa hums contentedly as she (to her very pleasant surprise) finds herself thoroughly enjoying what Vincent's concocted for her. It's a shame they don't advertise this place as doing drinks omakase, since she gets the feeling this 'tender would never steer his patrons (or the tourists he shuffles about GC whilst working his "day job") wrong. She sighs, starting to unwind a little.


| >>619994
>Her eyelids, which had been drifting closed-- feeling heavier by the second with the addition of the karmotrine and soothing warmth to her rapidly accumulating sleep debt-- snap open as she hears the man speak from several seats down. Wait... is that... doesn't she...?


>Her hurried glances at the bar's patrons reveal next to nothing: she can't find the person whom she /knows/ that voice is supposed to belong to. Maybe she was mistaken?


| >>620012
>Vincent lifts an eyebrow

"Go ahead, sir, I'll answer if I know anything"

| >>619979
>Vincent doesn't seem bothered by the tactical nature of the getup you're wearing but does a hand gesture to step back

"While I don't mind them in itself and I am sure you carry appropriate licenses to tote them around, I'd rather you leave them at the door or with me sir, the last thing I want is a shootout or vigilente justice happening in this establishment should anything happen... You never know with this town is all"

>He says, plainly

| >>620050
"Yes, I understand"
>The man take out his rifle, unload its magazine and pulls back its bolt and catches the cartridge flying out. He loads the single cartridge​ back into the magazine and hand the rifle to you. He put the magazine into one of his plate carrier before doing the same with the pistol

| >>619829
>The cat seems okay, it's even purring

| >>620283
>CN pets the cat behind the ears.

| >>620295
>The cat meows and purrs loudly, which seems to stir Alice
"Mrgh... mom... the cats..."
>It seems like a strange dream

| >>620302
>CN decides to relent
"*sigh* Alice I told you to rest more the last time we talked..."

| >>620061
>The man nods

"Thank you for being reasonable, sir, now; what can I get you?"

>He asks with a subtle smile

| >>620420
>Alice grumbles in her sleep, and the cat seems dissapointed that the pets have stopped
>Another girl enters the bar at this moment, dressed in a coat too big for her and covered in bandages that hide half her face.
>Her bandages are covered in dry blood. Her white hair is messy, and her purple eyes look hazy... all of it combined with her uneven, jagged teeth makes for a very weird individual

| >>620466
>CN glances at the newcomer, curious at their "unique" look.
"Are you okay miss? You seem to be hurt."

| >>620478
"Oh, no. Those are old wounds."
>She waves off your concern and walks up to the sleeping Alice
"Sorry, have to take this one home. Come on, Alice."
>Alice grumbles as the girl shakes her, the cat purrs

| >>620493
"W-Wait you know Alice? Who are you?"

| >>620496
>She sighs as Alice thrashes in her grasp
"Cats... urgh... so many cats..."
"Alice, you're going to make my wounds open, please stop."
>She realizes that CN spoke to her
"And you are..?"

| >>620427
"My name is Impulse, if you will. I'm not used to being called 'Sir'"
>The mans sits at one of the stools and take off his hat, headset, then his balaclava. He has black hair and blue eyes, a fading scar run across his face, almost unnoticeable without looking really hard
"Anyways, I will have a beer, thank you"
>He answers

| >>620500
"My name is CN, I'm a friend of hers. You are?"

| >>620504
"Right! CN... guess we forgot the other's face. It's TAN."
>Alice finally opens her eyes
"Urgh..? I fell asleep?"
"You sure did."

| >>620513
"O-Oh right. I really dont remember the bandages, but anyways."
>CN turns over to Alice
"You haven't been resting have you?"

| >>620515
"Not like I can help it, I'm a bit busier than you guys."
>Alice sighs, and TAN shrugs
"Still, breaks are important. Your father told me to relieve you for a few days."
>Alice liftw an eyebrow
"That man who only cares about himself suddenly grew a heart? Talk about surprising."
"Don't call your father 'that man'..."

| >>620518
"Sorry TAN, but dont blame me for being on Alice's side of that argument. Either way, you should take the rest yeah. Running yourself ragged just hurts you in the end. I'll still can let you know if I run into anything as well of course."

| >>620519
"No matter how much of a prick your parents are, you still owe them due respect, CN."
>TAN sighs
"And Arcand isn't that bad. You could have Ma-"
>Alice shudders
"Don't utter that name..."

| >>620520
"Mmm... fair enough, he ain't my dad though."
>CN shrugs
"So you'll excuse my opinion given past... transgressions. Either way, enough about your dad, let's focus on Alice here."

| >>620521
"Alright, alright. I'm going to bed, sheesh. You two really are like annoying moms."
>Alice gets up and puts down a credstick
"Thanks for the drink, Vincent."

| >>620522
"Only cause I love ya."
>CN sticks his tongue out.

| >>620531
"You love... me?"
>Alice seems quite shocked
"O-oh, y-yeah, l-love huh? Y-ea..."
>She blushes furiously
"... sheesh."
>TAN sighs

| >>620650
>He pats the napping girls head
"Don't get all shoujo high schoolgirl on me now. We'll talk later okay?"

| >>620503
>Vincent nods

"Coming right up, make yourself at home while I prepare it"

| >>620050 >>620061
>With a keen eye, Aikawa watches the gun-toting patron hand over the various pieces his of equipment to the bartender. The corner of her mouth twitches, then twists into a frown. She folds her arms tightly across her chest, and mutters to Vincent dryly:

"Better make him fork over any fuckin' autoinjectors he's got on him, too... might end up with some pulseless chummer eating tile in your bathroom if you don't."

>She snorts derisively.

| >>621971
"Oh! It's that girl that chomped on my ass last time I visit the Caramel Anne, I can't quite remember your name"
>Impulse replies after seeing who it was that was talking to him, his arms also crossed now
"Didn't you like, overdosed on some pills last time too?"

| >>622028
>Aikawa is in the middle of ransacking the surprisingly deep pockets of her jacket for a lighter (having grown tired of waiting for The Man Formerly Known as Helmet Head to give her a thumbs up or down on having a smoke) when Impulse decides to call her out on her snide sidebar with the 'tender. Her mouth falls open on shock, then slams shut as she clenches her teeth in a grimace.

"Hey!! If I didn't bite your >>>ass, he would've bit the>>>dust, you fuckhead!"

| >>622028
"And FYI-- >>>my OD fucking saved my fuckin' life-- kept some... high-tech low-life stalker from wasting me in the middle of the fucking bar!"

>Aikawa can feel her face start to burn when he brings up that double dosing mistake she made with the nitro he'd given her-- something that landed her in the back of an ambulance instead of in the driver's seat.

"It's >>>Aikawa. Don't play dumb. Met enough times for you to know."

| >>622040
"Not enough times to remember our codenames in public however it seems."
>CN interjects

| >>622035 >>622040
>Impulse let out a chuckles
"Ah, right, Aikawa, a nice name for such a hot-headed lady. Are all doctors like this?"
>He comments

| >>622047

| >>622047
"She's a paramedic."
>CN chimes in at the same time Aikawa yells.

| >>622051 >>622048
"Fine, paramedic, you don't have to shout"
>Impulse sigh
"Atleast I don't shout at people back when people call me a merc when I worked as a security contractor"

| >>622051
>If you thought that CN's echoing Aikawa (effectively backing her up as she bellows her chosen profession at Impulse) would land the decker on her good side for even a fraction of a second... you would unfortunately be terribly, terribly mistaken.


>The only thing he's succeeded in by doing this is getting her to zero in on /him/, instead of Impulse. No good deed goes unpunished, right, Geeky? Aikawa scowls at him, brow furrowing deeply.

| >>622058
>CN ignores the scowlng gaze at the moment, hes no stranger to untoward looks.
"Um... Impulse, while I don't disagree, I think it's best we all drop it. Shes been through a lot this past week, and came here to unwind you know?"

| >>622058
"... I'm >>>sorry, d'you want me to shake his fucking hand and tell him to call me, fucking...>>>SEGFAULT?!"

>Here we go...

"Oh, wait-- he >>>can't-- 'cause it was one part that little serial killer glitch getting in my fucking face, and>>>two parts this guy's fucking...>>>incompetence that ended in me losing that>>>fucking handle--!!"

>Yikes. Her voice cracks as she roars:


| >>622059
"Yeah, sure, I'm all for not getting my ass chomped on again"
>Impulse goes back to sitting on his stool waiting for his beer
"I think I'm done with arguments for now"

| >>622062
>CN sighs, leaning his head on his hand, figuring it's just best for her to finish this tirade as anything else will only prolong the experience.

| >>622062
"Nevermind, then... Guess she's not done"
>Impulse put his hand up on the counter to support his head, waiting for the incoming ass-chomping

| >>622062
>Vincent shows an understanding smile to Aikawa

"Now now miss, please take a deep breath and collect yourself, while this gentleman might have been blunt, it is never good to lose composure like this... Although I can see you have your reasons, good reasons too."

>He gives a small, almost understanding smile as he closes his eyes

"I shall delete the recordings of this instant from the security cameras, and watch out for any suspicious individuals as well"

>He chuckles

| >>622166
"Thank you Vincent..."
>CN dangerously responds through Aikawas still ongoing tirade.

| >>620049 >>622166
>Amusingly, he takes this outburst as an opportunity to get things over with. A little before Vincent's scolding the man fiddles with the item on the counter, which makes it project a hardlight display in the direction of the bartender - To Vincent any text would be coherent, to its owner it would be backwards.
"Somebody out there is worrying about their friend who went missing last night. Uhh.. Here in Midnight, near the waterfront?"

| >The display is currently showing a page with a highlighted entry.
>...Orange jacket, blue jeans
>...Tall, caucasian, blue eyes
>Short brown hair and pierced ears...
"Name is.. Derek Chasers,"
>He drums his fingers on the table. Maybe to him, this is a spiel he's already gone through multiple times.

| "..Though it's possible someone else paid for the tab. Wanted to see if he had drank here recently, maybe popped back in after leaving with a friend..."
>He shrugs, all nonchalant-like. Clearly, if this bar is a no-go, it's no skin off his back.

| >>622424
>Vincent takes a second to think before pulling up his credstick reader from under the bar counter and seemingly reads through a few entry...

"I do have a match here, why are you looking for such a man though? If you dont mind me asking"

>He lifts an eyebrow slightly

| >>622446
>The man continues to frown, but by the way he sits up more attentively goes to show he took the news im a positive light.
"I was hired for it."
>He touches the small device once more, turning it off. The projection flickers and disappears.
"Just.. Trying to make sure he's alive and not.. Dead?"

| >He clips it on the front of his jacket afterwards, leaning back in his seat a little.
"If there's more to it than some guy who can't admit he's a lightweight to his buddy, then I'll figure it out. Simple as that."

| >>622065 >>622248


>Aikawa's about to continue her furious ranting and raving when Vincent gently interjects-- making this (what appears from the outside to be a) "tantrum" grind to a screeching halt. Not knowing how else to respond, she /does/ take a deep breath... in fact, she takes several. Her eyes dart every which way as she returns to her senses. She swallows hard, and mumbles something unintelligible before finally shutting her mouth and turning back to her drink.

| >>622524
>CN let's the moment sit for a moment, deciding best not to break the silence too soon, lest he releases her wrath again. Finally he speaks
"Well... with the towers being past the water and all that guess we can't really do much from here today. Maybe I'll check out that park instead since it might be semi related."

| >>622526
>Aikawa runs a hand down her face, now worse for wear-- that outburst sapped what little reserve of emotional energy she had left after a long week in the boonies of Niihama, and what felt like almost an equally long flight back to GC. She chews at her lower lip, then decides to swap this out for the straw. The metal clicks sharply against her teeth.

"... Those really the same ones?"

>She'd been wondering since she saw the skyline. Might as well ask.

| >>622531
"According to the others in the bar, I doubt we missed a *second* trio of towers on the way here. *sigh* This shit always gets complex. Ace can probs fly us over but I don't want to risk getting shot down, so I'll think of alternatives first."

| >>622535
"But... weren't we... w-when we saw..."

>Every time Aikawa tries to start speaking, she ends up faltering, until everything that makes it's way out of her mouth is a bunch of nonsense fragments that only serve to make the lost-looking woman sipping at her (now cooling) drink appear even more out of it. She sighs deeply, and groans to herself.

"C-Colorado. Said we were... in Colorado, when..."

>She nods her head towards the window.

| >>622536
"Colorado? I dont think a patron mentioned that? Did you hear about the towers before?"
>CN looks at Aikawa quizzically.

| >>622538
"What? No, no--"

>Aikawa shakes her head, squeezing her eyes shut and masking them with the hand that isn't holding her straw steady. This evening's turned into quite the headache...

"Didn't... when we were-- when we had ramen, you didn't... see them >>>there?"

>That walk in the park she and the masked man had taken after supper that windy night has become clearer in her memory since it came to her in that little flashback earlier.

| >>622697
>It wasn't only when she'd returned to Glitch that she saw them. When he'd shown her to that overhang, the neon city at their feet... in the midst of all those moving parts, there were three towers. She's sure of it. Absentmindedly, she lets her fingers leave her face to brush a strand of hair behind her ear-- then finds the cigarette she's tucked there.

| >>622698
>Shooting a glance down the counter towards the hooded figure busy playing 20 questions with Vincent, Aikawa shrugs, and goes looking for her lighter again. When she's found it, the straw's ousted from it's spot between her canines-- she holds the cigarette steady while a flame wavers to life with a few flicks of a shaky thumb. She waits for the end to catch, that dull orange glow a sight for sore eyes. She takes a long drag-- the first in months-- and coughs quietly.

| >>622697
"You mean in Demi's place? No I didn't. Did you?"
>CN asks as he waves the smoke smell away

| >>622700
>Aikawa exhales slowly, turning away from the bar's other patrons as she does so. She might be a loudmouth, but she's not completely without manners.

"... Yeah. After you left. We... took a stroll. Got a better look at the city."

>... Got a better look at what that worn-down man sees through his eyes, whenever gazing into anybody else's. How he manages to host more than a single person in that modest home of his at a time is anybody's guess.

| >>622704
"Hmm... maybe we should talk to him then for some hints. Wonder if the same way there still works."

| >>622705
>Worry clouds the woman's features, as does the haze that hangs in her face. She frowns deeply.

"Mean... at the underpass?"

>Aikawa does something that isn't quite shivering, nor is it twitching-- she kind of jerks her head towards one of her shoulders as her skin crawls and she feels the hair raise on the back of her neck. While her brief stay at the izakaya was... almost pleasant, the trip there wasn't. She thought she'd been hacked.

| >>622710
"Yes, I mean you don't want to go if you don't have to. I'm sure that trip was stranger than most."

| >>622711
"Got that right..."

>Aikawa looks for an ashtray she can tap her cigarette into-- don't want to dirty the counter; that's rude.

"... Came 'cause I thought he might be here, but... I know better; told me he'd go nuts in the city. Not like I don't wanna talk to him again, just..."

>She trails off, assuming CN will get the gist of what she's trying to say. She's only just started to work through the idea that this isn't some simulation she got stuck in pre-hospitalization.

| >>622715
"Well I can at least pass him a message if you don't want to go back there."

| >>622716

>There's too much to say to boil down into a couple of sentences to be dropped in passing. She owes the guy a story. That's what they'd agreed on.

"... Gotta get myself enough together again to head back there. That's all."

>She feels her throat tighten up, and inhales deeply, rubbing the bridge of her nose.

"Gotta... figure out how to break it to him that... he's unrivaled now, far as my fam's cooking is concerned."

>She regrets having joked with him like that.

| >>622724
"Mmm... well we dont have to go right away. Not like theres a rush. We can go when you're ready."
>CN places a sympathetic hand on her shoulder.

| >>622729
>Normally she'd pull away, but right now... it doesn't seem to matter who the comfort is coming from. It's not like the guy doesn't actually care, either. Aikawa leave's CN's hand where it is, and sighs deeply before taking yet another drag.

"... You wanna go check those buildings out, go on ahead without me. Not getting back in >>>any kind of vehicle with Ace 'til my head's done spinning. I'll just... stay here 'n... make friends with the tender, or something.

| >>622729
>Nekone, who spent the last few minutes simply looking over the "tantrum" and CN's talk tilts her head and raises a hand
"If it's the cooling towers you want to see, I'm sure my Anii-sama could arrange a trip..."
>She looks back at CN
"Provided you help me find him of course."

| >>622745
"Like I said, I'm only doing that as a last option if we cant find another one."
>Perfect timing with Nekone in fact
"Like that right there! Like I said before, I'd be willing to help. How about it Aikawa, how does a trip to Neko park instead sound?"

| >>622512
>Vincent seems to understand

"I see, another one of those dissapearances is it? Well then."

>Vincent turns the terminal to face you, and you see the ID of man that fits the description of Derek Chasers, seemingly he came here yesterday and bought a few drinks, nothing strong nor particularly pricy

"I opened my doors for the first time in a year yesterday for a few patrons that used to be regulars, he was with one of them, left after his last drink near 3 in the morning"

| >>622753
>Aikawa hesitates... then shakes her head, looking a little guilty.

"Walker'll go thermal if I go anywhere >>>other than home from here... already worried him enough this week."

>She'd told him to back off when they'd both posted on the thread that drew her to The Distinguished, but deep down she knew his intentions were good.

"Really. Go ahead, get gone. Can tell me all about it when you get back to the house."

| >>622866
>CN shrugs
"If you say so. Will you be able to get home okay?"

| >When the butt-whooping didn't come, Impulse goes back to waiting for his beer

| >>622867
>Aikawa stirs her drink idly, watching the smoke rise from the smoldering end of her cigarette as she listens to the metal of the straw clink against the inner wall of the mug.

"... Yeah. I'll... let you know if I have any trouble, but... don't expect to."

| >>622874
>CN nods, then turns to >>622747
"So? Off to the park then?"

| >>623013
"Sure thing... Just don't expect to come into your car or something"
>Nekone says as she gets up and brushes her coat, shooting CN an upward glance as she does

| >>623388
"That would be really weird, considering I dont have a car or even a license. I just take the bus usually."
>CN shrugs, standing up as well.
"To Neko park I suppose."



| >>623397
>Nekone steps up as you say that, visibly reassured
"Good, you lead then... this city is still a bit new to me"

| >>622871
>Your beer has already been there, in your rush to dispel the matters with Aikawa you seem to have not seen it being placed before you.
>Vincent gives you a small wink, already washing a few glasses off the side

| >>626043
>Impulse take the mug and starts drinking it, looking around at the other patrons in the bar

| >>626040
>CN stands up, and makes his way out of the bar, presumerably with Nekone in tow

| >>622855
"..And my client got a call from them after they left,"
>The man muses aloud. He still keeps his volume at a bare minimum, however. Looking back and forth, he may have just realized most of the patrons have left and since he was much more alone now, it would be harder to talk openly near-
>Near what?
>Near /who/?

| "......."
>But never mind that. With this, he's got a better time frame. Something else to consider too. If Chasers didn't buy anything strong it wasn't likely that he'd went and got lost somewhere, and neither did it seem as if he was unfamiliar with the city proper.
"...Did you say 'other disappearances'?
>He can't help but bring it up, it's hard to ignore something as glaring as that.


| >>626139
>Vincent nods his head slowly

"Why yes, haven't you heard? some people have been disappearing in midnight and around Neko Park, mostly homeless and poor people from what I've heard. although it seems sometimes regular people like you an I are added to that list aswell"

>He sighs as he puts his now clean glass down under the counter

"Truly I wonder what this city is coming to"

| >>626253
"Huh, Neko Park? Again? I wonder what kind of grudges people have against that place"
>Impulse looks curiously at Vincent

| >>626411
"Well, it used to be a shanty town of sorts... a lot of the poor folks make their home down in that park, I am willing to bet it's easier to make one of those poor folk disappear than kidnap someone with history and connections"

>Vincent says, eyeing Impulse

"It's a sad story really"

| >>626420
"The real question is what would make people try to kidnap folks. There might be something more sinister behind all of this."
>Impulse down the beer
"Just a speculation, obviously."

| >>626439
"That is fair to assume, I hope nothing bad befalls them before this matter is resolved"

>The bartender replies, handing you another beer for your trouble

"If I may be so presumptuous, I would ask your help as well in this matter, as a concerned citizen myself those happenings are troubling."

| >>626253
>The man takes a backseat in the conversation, listening to Impulse and Vincent exchange commentary. He makes a thoughtful hum and shakes his head.
"..That's news to me."
>Then, as if recalling something:
"...Oh, say-"
"You mind if I get that drink before I go? The, ah, uh.."
>He gestures openly, kind of a circular motion with his hand. What is this, charades?

| >>626457
>Impulse takes the drink and put it in front of him before continuing
"Of course, I will try to help. I might try to investigate it next time I'm available. I will certainly have someone keep an eye on Neko Park for now."

| >Aikawa watches the proceedings with a look of vague disinterest, eavesdropping in and out of the conversation periodically. Preying on an underserved population already vulnerable to so much, gradually adding to a tally of bodies gone missing but unmissed by much of the city... disgusting. Whoever's responsible is a real monster, she decides. Grimacing, she pulls another tired breath through the filter of her cigarette, then takes it from her mouth, looking to put it out.



| >The door opens, and in walk a pair of newcomers: A short, pink-haired Lilim girl and a tall man with short orange hair. The man-- Rio --finds an empty spot and takes a seat there, while the Lilim girl takes a lollipop colored somewhat like a Sugar Rush out of her bag and sticks it in her mouth. Once she's done, she joins Rio, casting glances around the bar and taking in her surroundings.



| >>626945
>Aikawa regards the newcomers with a quiet nod. The sight of the lilim girl makes her sigh-- must be the pink hair that's got her feeling this pang in her chest. It's been about half a year since she's seen Oenone; maybe more.


>Unable to find an ashtray, she puts the cigarette she's been twiddling between her fingers out against a special patch she's sewn onto her jacket-- made of a fabric that won't singe when touched by the still smoldering end of the cig.

| >>626945
>The dandy looking bartender looks over at the new arrivals and smiles

"Welcome to the distinguished, what can I serve you two?"

>An ashtray is promptly placer in front of Aikawa as well, to help her take care of the cigarette butt

| >>627684

>Aikawa tosses the butt into the soot-stained glass, then promptly grabs it's replacement from her breast pocket, tucking this one (like the other before it) behind her ear for later use. Now that she's gotten started, it's hard to make herself stop... she holds off, for the moment.

>She finds her gaze drifting towards the man in the hooded jacket. There's something about him that's piquing her curiosity. Hell if she knows what it is, though.

| >>627684

"Just water, thanks." >Rio leans back, turning an old-style military radio in his hands. The Lilim with him pauses briefly, then makes her own order.

"I'll take a Sugar Rush, please!"

| >>627690

"Wait, you already have--" >Rio starts, but his companion cuts him off, pulling her lollipop out of her mouth and waving it.

"This, I know. It's not the real deal, though, and in any case; the trick I'm about to show you is way better with an >>>actual Sugar Rush.">She leans back, pops the lolly back in her mouth, and continues to watch the surroundings.

| >>627811

>The Lilim girl's gaze lingers on Aikawa for a second, but Rio hooks her into a conversation before anything can come of that.

| >>627690 >>627811
>Were she in a better mood, she'd be doing more talking, and less people-watching. With an inward groan, Aikawa resigns herself to remaining passive; reserves running lower, and lower.


>The radio Rio's fiddling with catches her eye. Doesn't her dad have one of those? She can't recall whether or not it ever worked...

>When she sees the lilim casting a long glance back at her, Aikawa quickly finds somewhere else to stare off into space, embarrassed.

| >>627813
>That nervous leg bounce of hers kicks up again with renewed vigour. Jesus. In the back of her head, she'd been craving some kind of adrenaline rush to wake her up-- but, this wasn't what she'd expected-- and in terms of what she'd /wanted/, she would've preferred it be set off by literally /anything/ else. The rungs on her barstool creak every time her heel rises and falls.


>She plucks that cigarette from behind her ear, and starts tapping it against the bartop.

| "--hold on." >The Lilim reaches for Rio's radio, interrupting the ex-soldier mid-sentence. He hands it to her, and she fiddles with it for a bit before placing it to her ear. Then she begins to sing.

"I drop my drop, magical lollipop, if you wanna pick it up, go right ahead~" >A brief pause follows, and then she hands the radio back.

"Yeah, this oughta be fine for now. No beat, but I think Wren can jury-rig you a set of speakers until we find your originals."

| >>627822
>"Wren"...? Halfway towards its way to the underside of the countertop, Aikawa's knee freezes, and the rest of her stiffens visibly. "Wren"...

"Coincidence, gotta be a coincidence..."

>She mutters under her breath. A coincidence. Busy city; weird things happen in it-- maybe she's an acquaintance or something, or perhaps there's /two/ Wrens, or maybe Aikawa misheard her-- the tapping quickens it's pace.


| >>627690
>A sugar rush makes it way to you

>Vincent gives Aikawa a glance and a smile

"Are you done with that mug? I can get you something else if you'd like."

| >>628119

"Well, here's your Sugar Rush." >Rio raises his brow as the drink arrives.
"What's this trick of yours?"

"Huh?" >The Lilim, having been distracted, is startled by the ex-soldier's voice. She regains her cheerful demeanor quickly, though, and answers.
"Right, check this out." >She takes the lollipop—strangely none the worse for wear—out of her mouth, and takes a sip of the Sugar Rush. This prompts her hair to turn the same color as the drink.

| >>628123
>Rio is... not particularly impressed.
"...so the drink changes your hair color?"

"No, it's not that." >Oenone frowns. She changes her hair color again, this time to a light lavender, and her eyes change from turquoise to match Rio's blue.
"I can do this at will, it just looks nicer if I match with my drink, y'know?"



| >>628119
>Something else? Something else... what could she (or, what /should/ she) have at this point? She's already 3 or 4 drinks deep. Another beer, like Impulse? Her own serving of that oddly familiar lilim's sugar rush? Or, should she tone it down a bit: sip a little virgin Everclear like Rio; take a leaf out of Helmet Head's book and knock back... nothing...?

>/Nothing/? Aikawa frowns, and barks down the row of seats towards the aforementioned patron:

| >>629720 >>626498
"... Who comes to a bar just to... fucking, >>>breathe the air in it? You gonna>>>order something, pally, or you just gonna keep grilling the tender for info? Show the guy a little gratitude, or whatever..."

>Satisfied after (yet again) offering her unsolicited opinion, Aikawa scoffs and looks back towards Vincent-- then, to the drink he's just set in front of Oenone.

"... Can I get a Sugar Rush, like the lady a few seats over?"

>For old time's sake...

| >>628124 >>628123
>Speaking of the lady a few seats over... Aikawa does her best to steady the tremor threatening to disturb the clarity of her voice, and clears her throat before saying to the lilim girl hesitantly:

"Got a friend that does a party trick like the one you just did... h-how I met her, 's a matter of fact..."

>The filtered end of that cigarette is going to wear a hole in the polished wood of the bartop if she doesn't slow it down, soon... Aikawa smiles awkwardly.

| >>629722

>Oenone damn near falls out of her chair at that statement. Rio raises a brow, reaching out to grab the Lilim before she actually falls.
"...is that so?"

| >>629911
>Aikawa swallows her anxiety and gives a small, shaky nod. Her voice cracks.

"Y-yeah... n-name's 'Oenone'... girl with kaleidoscope eyes. Like yours."

>The cigarette she's been driving into the counter finally snaps in half, unable to bear any further abuse. Aikawa curses herself for wasting a smoke, and also for quoting Roy's corny (but apt) description of Oenone's... eye catching irises.

| >>629940

"Hmm..." >Oenone's eyes turn into slowly-revolving rainbow wheels as she places a finger to her chin in mock thought.

"Yeah, that sounds like me alright..."


Total number of posts: 250, last modified on: Sun Jan 1 00:00:00 1583652823

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