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963603 No. 963603 ID: 891b91

Chapter 0: >>/questarch/886861
Chapter 1: >>/quest/910512

Discussion: >>/questdis/123379
Wiki: https://tgchan.org/wiki/Dead_Dust

The porch door slides open, letting in a gust of night air.
445 posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
No. 994011 ID: 8090b2

I'm pretty sure that Siobhan can't zap herself. Think about it. Why does Mike need Siobhan to zap him? Given that he's punching in codes, he probably knows how to use the dustbender just fine, so why couldn't he just zap himself? Probably because it's too dangerous. Maybe the person receiving the zap gets a shock, or something, and isn't able to hold the dustbender steady long enough for the process to finish. Or maybe the dustbender needs to be moved around precisely. So if Siobhan wants to get zapped instead, she would have to talk Mike into doing it.

Personally, I'd just zap him.
Why? Because I think things will turn out more interesting this way. I mean, it's entirely possible that Siobhan getting zapped here is how she gets her powers. But how would she get them if she zapped Mike here? Something very interesting would have to happen indeed.

Wait... the samples that Penny found, why did she find them in the Old City? If all of them used right here, right now, through the dustbender, then it makes no sense to bring the empty vials to the Old City.
What I'm implying here is that, for the sample vials to end down there, where Penny finds them, it only makes sense if Mike and Siobhan do not open them here. But if they don't open the samples here, it means that either Mike and Siobhan choose to delay zapping their dust here, or they're interrupted by someone.

So... this means that Mike and Siobhan are quite possibly in immediate danger?

Siobhan might want to ask Mike to be quiet for a while and listen. Make sure there's no one around.
No. 994023 ID: a0dfd2


Okay, okay, let me get this straight.

Mike just instantly caved on this one, and is willing to potentially commit what amounts to suicide if this goes wrong, knowing FULL WELL there's no way in HELL we can do anything about it if so, considering how powerful he claims this group to be?

I mean, I get it, I do, but what kind of pressure did they use for him to just ... just accept, like this?

He wants to protect us, sure, but we're the one who had to ride it all out in this crazy new body, who risked our neck to even GET those cursed things in the first place, and whose had to upend our life because of them -- right along with Mike.

And moreover, he's right on the fucking escrow thing: we did it. It's done.

If those Orchid guys are really that powerful, then why in the everloving fuck would they need US to hide this shit for them, huh?

What are THEY so afraid of that they need to pawn off their big prize to someone like ourselves to keep it safe?

Has Mike asked himself that at all? Because if not, we need to.

We'll be lucky not to lose him from this, and playing the goddamned hero isn't going to fix it, either.
No. 994077 ID: 820483

We still dont know what our neighbor was all about. That llama was the main reason mike decided to come to our apartment initially. Is llama with Orchid? Was he planning on stealing the samples?
No. 994478 ID: 2748b3

"And if we don't? I take it they made the consequences clear." This is sounding like an elaborate set up to get you and Mike out of the picture while they find out whatever these mystery samples do, two birds with one stone.
No. 995583 ID: 15a025

Mike, there has to be another way!
No. 998254 ID: 3994a2
File 161967291868.png - (1.50MB , 1024x1024 , -1-027-1.png )

"...So they want us both to have that stuff inside us? Like a 50/50 split?"

Mike walks over and forces the bender into my hands, along with the case of samples. "If they do, that ain't what's happenin'. It's all goin' in me." He drops his coat on the ground, exposing his neck to me. "C'mon."
No. 998255 ID: 3994a2
File 161967296772.png - (1.47MB , 1024x1024 , -1-027-2.png )

I glance around our surroundings, listening for any signs that someone else might be here... but there's nothing.

I take a deep breath, and pop the payload chamber open. My hands shake a bit as I load the samples inside -- am I really going to do this? This is fucking nuts.

>Why does Mike need Siobhan to zap him? Given that he's punching in codes, he probably knows how to use the dustbender just fine, so why couldn't he just zap himself? Probably because it's too dangerous. Maybe the person receiving the zap gets a shock, or something, and isn't able to hold the dustbender steady long enough for the process to finish.
I was always better on a bender than Mike was. He knows the basics, like how to punch in a code for a general overwrite, but he's always left it to me when it comes to actually doing the zapping.

>I'm pretty sure Siobhan can't zap herself.
Nah. Unlike Mike, I'm the one with an aug that lets you pre-program your limbs. Comes in handy when you gotta zap yourself while out on a scrap.
No. 998256 ID: 3994a2
File 161967301335.png - (1.58MB , 1024x1024 , -1-027-3.png )

>woah woah woah what does zapping even do?
In this case it'll take whatever data's stored in the dust samples and write to relevant addresses in Mike's dust.

>what'll happen if it's a "bad" batch of dust? what is a "safe" batch of dust supposed to even do?
Depends on what's in the dust, which is why it'd be really fucking helpful if we'd had a chance to sequence this stuff. If we're lucky then these samples just contain information and won't perform a meaningful overwrite... but if they have more than that, well, all bets are off. Which is why Mike has to be completely out of his mind.

And if it's a bad batch... with completely random data... then I'm about to murder the one person I can't stand the thought of losing.

Fuck that.

"And if we don't do this? What then? I take it they made the consequences clear."

"...Just zap me, Siobhan."

"Fuck you, I'm not doin' shit 'til you tell me how the hell those Orchid fucks talked you into this."

He stares at the ground for a moment, letting out a frustrated sigh. "It's 'cause of you," he says, meeting my gaze with his own. "Either we do this, or they let slip to their rivals that you're the one who took the samples in the first place. And they wanna find you bad, Siobhan."

I eye him for a few seconds. "So now it's extortion. Just what is an org like Orchid so afraid of, that they need us to keep it safe for 'em?"

"I don't know."
No. 998257 ID: e51896

"And are we keeping these safe from that nosey neighbor from yesterday? they were the main reason why you came over after I mentioned them when I called you..."
No. 998258 ID: b1b4f3

Great. How will they know if you don't do it, though? What happens if this thing kills him, will they believe you? Or will they make good their threat and turn you over, at which point you're dead too? So, if the zapping is fatal, you die no matter who gets zapped.

May as well zap yourself. Can you do it before he can stop you?
No. 998276 ID: 2e177b

Zap him. You're the one best suited to put him back together if anything untoward happens.
No. 998291 ID: dfbac0

Maybe Zap in half, and then the other half after? If they want you to split it 50/50 it could be that the whole thing can kill someone but half would not. Either way, it's better to go with a lesser dosage first and see if there are any uh... negative side effects. Judge whether you want to put the rest in after.
No. 998327 ID: 9a2966

Okay, that's progress. Of sorts.

"Remind me again, who ARE these mystery rivals of theirs? Why should I be so afraid to get caught? Heck, I've been cooped up with you for so long now already, why are they still hot to trot after l'il ol' ME? You'd think they'd lose interest after a while... in fact, aren't we INCREASING their interest in us by implanting you with this dust I stole? Making, well, BOTH of us a target?"

You're up shit creek without a paddle, and Mike wants to act your oar, since he shoved you both off the shore... and doing so might break him, his business and his life.

If you really can't bear the thought of that, you have two options.

"Fuck it. If you think I'll let you fuck your life up worse than mine, you've got another thing coming, Mike. Just stay safe, you fool."

You can load up, take the hit for him, be all self-sacrificial.

Or... you can throw the bender and its contents from the Shelf and get the hell out of his life. If you're not there, he's got nothing to protect.
No. 998335 ID: 830459

>if it's a bad batch
I think these samples are almost certainly safe. The reasoning is this:
Orchid had these samples for quite a while. Whether they had a chance to sequence them or not, we can't be sure, but there's a high probability that they know whether these samples are safe or not to do a Johnny Mnemonic. If they were not safe, would they have asked Mike to zap himself with them? Most likely not. They could've gotten rid of the samples any time they wanted, and they haven't done so, which implies that they do want to keep the samples safe and retrievable. If these samples corrupted your dust, it would also corrupt the sample dust itself, rendering it useless. Considering the lengths Orchid went through for this dust, and still is, I don't believe they would be willing to take that risk. There's also the fact that, if one of the samples killed Mike, then, for Orchid, all of the samples would effectively be lost.

Of course, even if these dust samples are safe for zapping, it doesn't mean that doing so would have no consequences. Since dust can contain mods and whatnot, we have to accept the possibility of someone ending with large breasts.

Actually, that doesn't sound so bad...

>Just zap me
Something still feels off. Did Orchid really say that they wanted him to "zap the samples into both of you"? Or did they perhaps say they wanted him to zap the dust into you alone? Call him out on this. If he admits that he was lying then... that pretty much settles it. You're the one that's getting zapped. Making an enemy out of this client, based on what just happened on the balcony, is too dangerous of a proposition.

No matter what they told Mike, tell him that you know how he feels and that he wants to keep you safe, but this isn't a shot that he can take for you. There is absolutely no benefit in him getting zapped here. Because people are already after you. The only thing that him getting zapped here would change is that people would then be after both of you. And since getting to him is a helluva lot easier than getting to you, it would only put you in more danger.
No. 998682 ID: 15a025

I don't suppose Mike has any dirt on Orchid?

Alternatively, what if we offered the samples to their rivals now instead?
No. 998750 ID: 4e124a

This is to save yourself, the bare minimum is to go half-n-half. The other option is to put everything into you, but maybe contradict the client (or extortionist at this point) can make everithing even worse.
No. 998789 ID: 4e124a

Also he has a lot better chances to survive if this goes bad. He knows the situation better and is not being chased. If you were left alone, against the client and their rivals... well you would too fucked up and heartbroken to make it out of this shit.
No. 998800 ID: a0dfd2


Before we do anything, though, we should definitely ASK Mike what happens if this doesn't work out.

We're not completely dependent on him, obviously, thanks to the bar gig, but we ARE living in his place, and if things suddenly aren't safe for us, or shit gets even worse ... the hell do we do on our own, if this group is after us?

If they managed to get those samples back and drop them off, then it's not unreasonable to think they might know who obtained them. Just as it's not unreasonable to think our confrontation on the balcony might work against us, now.
No. 998818 ID: 3994a2
File 162009094931.png - (1.36MB , 1024x1024 , -1-028-1.png )

"...Remind me again, Mike, just who are these mystery rivals of theirs?"

"Probably some ward, is my best guess. Or maybe one of the plasmodians... you know how the taffa biz is. Hard to say for sure -- but whoever it is, they ain't bein' loud about it."

"And just why should I be so afraid to get caught? Hell, it's been a year now, why are they still hot to trot after me?" I pause. "Maybe we should just give them the samples, huh? Or at least offer them. Play Orchid and this rival against each other."

Mike stares at me quietly as a pained expression spreads across his face. "They want you dead, Siobhan. That joint you broke into, down on the surface... the rival wants any memory of that place and whatever's in there wiped out." He taps his forehead. "Including the ones in your head."

I look down at the bender in my hands, wondering if I really have the guts to use it. "We got any dirt on Orchid? Anything we could push back with?"

Mike shakes his head. "You know how secretive those wackos are."

"What if we just... didn't do this, and say we did? How would they even know?"

"They got eyes everywhere, Siobhan." He glances upwards, scanning his eyes across the walls of the shaft. "Prolly watchin' us right now."

"...Then why are we even hiding?"

"I dunno about you, but I don't exactly wanna be out in public if somethin' goes wrong here. Now hurry up 'n zap me, already, before I lose my nerve."

"Yeah, about that -- what if something does go wrong, Mike? The hell am I supposed to do if you die, or... or worse?"

"Take the money n' make yourself scarce 'til someone from Orchid contacts you, 'n then you tell 'em you wanna join up. They're a buncha wackos but they ain't gonna let one of their own get got." I can tell he's been practicing that one.

I sigh. "Be honest, Mike... did they really say to zap both of us?" My gaze meets his. "Or just me?"

"I don't think they give a shit which of us takes the shot. Which is why it's gonna be me."

An awkward silence passes between us, as I stare at him, grappling with disbelief about this whole fucking situation.

Fuck it.

"Y'know, Mike, you're an asshole for getting us into this situation... but if you think I'll help you fuck your life up worse than mine, you've got another thing coming," I say slowly, sitting down.

"Siobhan, what are you..."

Silently, I ready my arm to go into autopilot. My arm robotically presses the nozzle firmly against my neck, chambering the first payload.

"God damnit Siobhan, stop!" Mike shouts, leaping to his feet.

"Just stay safe, you big idiot." My finger, guided by the aug, pulls the trigger.
No. 998819 ID: 3994a2
File 162009096674.png - (784.24KB , 1024x1024 , -1-028-2.png )

Boom. A sharp whine escapes the bender as the first sample enters my body, mingling with my dust.

Dazzling lights scatter across my vision. Mike runs at me in slow motion, never really seeming like he'll catch up. I should feel alarmed by it all, but instead I'm just... calm, serene. Everything seems okay, even though I know it really isn't.
No. 998820 ID: 3994a2
File 162009098902.png - (1.46MB , 1024x1024 , -1-028-3.png )

Mike careens into me, grasping for the bender, but not before my finger pulls the trigger a second time, injecting a second sample. He yells something at me, and I vaguely get the sense I should try to keep the bender away from his grasp...

but... who cares. I stare past him; unfamiliar visions drift by, catching the eye briefly like airborne motes in corelight...
No. 998821 ID: 094652

You have -1 new messages.
Open it.
No. 998831 ID: a0dfd2


... wait a minute, these aren't dust samples, they're recordings. They're memories.

Small wonder Orchid's rival wanted it gone, and what easier way for Orchid to use that against them than to make sure that they're all sitting in one very inconvienient place?
No. 998843 ID: e51896

I see three figures there, maybe a fourth one behind Siobhan. Is one of them facepalming at our actions? good.

Anyway, it was probably a good idea to zap ourselves, Orchid will protect us from whoever wants us dead if we have the samples in us.

what do? try to get your mind focused back to your own reality. Mike seems to be the only thing from reality right now, so focus all your senses on him. Keep your eyes on him, listen for his screams, smell for his scent, try to grab hold of him to feel him.... And if you can, taste him with a kiss.
No. 998864 ID: 830459

Turn your head towards the shapes.
No. 998890 ID: 8096b8

Try to say something to Mike, we need to let him know we're okay...

Okay, maybe we're not okay. Just focus on getting a grip. Try to let Mike you're okay by trying to get yourself to be okay.
No. 998891 ID: 9a2966

What if you are the recording?

No. 998893 ID: 9a2966

But seriously, keep a grip. It's only gonna get worse from here.
No. 998919 ID: eb1fcc

Are you a quitter, or a survivor? You're adrift in a sea of overwhelming perception. Float atop it, let it pass under you as you pay attention to your surroundings.
No. 998927 ID: 3994a2
File 162018493553.png - (1.51MB , 1024x1024 , -1-029.png )

My hand pulls the trigger again, and -- and... another wave of, of...

>these aren't dust samples, they're recordings. They're memories.
They could be... the visions flash quick, hard to read, I try to focus on one, slips through my fingers, do it again, get something

... What ... find?

Not much to it, too fuzzy... hear a little bit though...

... a closed ... There's room ... large moon ...

>Try to say something to Mike, we need to let him know we're okay...
>Okay, maybe we're not okay. Just focus on getting a grip. Try to let Mike you're okay by trying to get yourself to be okay.
Mike... yeah, right, I ... he's yelling something, I smile at him, I'm okay Mike, I'm okay...

... do we have? ... free quarks.

Mike grab... grabs at.. thing in my hand... bender! Mike grabs... bender. Hey, I'm, I'm using that, finger wants to pull the trigger but he's pulling it away, stop it Mike...

... the threshold, ... go back. ... trapped ... energy ... the space entirely ...

Mike hands pulling... pull harder, think I should pull back, try to, need to finish samples... can't let him...

... anyone's guess ... other side.
No. 998928 ID: f8fa51

You are fine. You have to believe you're fine because if you can't get Mike to stop pulling the bender from your hands, he's going to interrupt the injection. That has to be worse than doing this in the first place.

HOLD THE DUST BENDER. You only need to keep it from his grip for a few more moments.
No. 998929 ID: e7c7d3

Boop his snoot! The universal sign that everything is okay
No. 998934 ID: cdabe3

Well you know what they say, in for a penny, in for a pound. Try to finish the injections.

Also uhhh are you getting off on this? Looking kinda ahegao’d at the moment
No. 998936 ID: f8fa51


I think she's just extremely out of it and trying to smile.
No. 998937 ID: e51896

How many injections total? 12? And we've done 3?This may take awhile. How can we get Mike to stop for all 12? We may need to try to convince him thimns are okay, try to tell him we need these memories otherwise he'll just keep after us, and that will be difficlut for the other 9 injections

Some ideas, push him off with your legs, Boop snoot could work. Give a Thumbs up? Maybe sush him?
No. 998939 ID: b1b4f3

Let him have the rest. You know now the samples are safe, maybe you should just let him hang onto half of them. That way you don't have all your eggs in one basket.
No. 998975 ID: f23268

Keep it away from him. It wont do you both any good if he does it on himself and you're both in this drugged up vulnerable state. Keep trying to calm him.
No. 998977 ID: 53560f

Give him a thumbs up and try to reassure him.
Are we sure those are memories? Try to interact with them beyond listening.
No. 998982 ID: 30b9f6

Pull back. Finish the samples. And





No. 998983 ID: a0dfd2


No point in stopping halfway through. There's something in this -- a message, a memory, who knows what it is -- and it's meaningless without the whole.

Just tell Mike we know what we're doing. Better us than him, you know? We're the one in a different body, after all, because of what happened.
No. 998996 ID: 26235b

Ah, so that's what happened. That's some extremely dangerous information to possess. Tsk. This changes things because it basically means you'll never be safe, no matter how much time passes.

Go for round 4.
No. 999003 ID: 094652

You are absorbing the memories of a legend.
Someone who did the impossible. Just because it would take them a step further than all the others.
Follow in their footsteps and keep going.
No. 999010 ID: dfbac0

It seems as though you're slipping, the information must be quite overwhelming, try and focus on your limbs rather than your thoughts, keep the idea that you need to pull the trigger on yourself in your mind, and let go of everything else. Focus on finishing the job.
We don't know exactly what this dust does, but something tells me it's more harmful incomplete, and that we should use all of it, or risk having some sort of biological equivalent of a half-finished code making errors inside of us. We need to finish the job, as although it seems to be getting harder to think, we seem to generally see better each time we put in more, which is the only sign we got.
On that note, while holding onto the gun, we should also try to crawl backwards a bit, get some distance. And make sure we've got a dead man's grip on the bender.
No. 999011 ID: 7669b1

Even if I'm a lot for an "I'm Ok" boop in the nose, I think we should stop and take it easy. I mean, is safe to put all the suspicious dust samples in one go?
No. 999057 ID: 26235b

Say, did you pre-program your limbs with kung-fu as well?
No. 999059 ID: b1b4f3

Maybe it's time to wake up.
No. 999063 ID: 50697f

I'm torn...we definitely should see what these hold, but Mike's important to us. Lets try and push for him
No. 999089 ID: dfbac0

>>999059 As much as waking up would be good, we also need to see this through, even if it's a memory or dream we need to know what happened, and we need to know what information the samples hold.
No. 999239 ID: eb1fcc

Float your consciousness above this sea of information. Do not capsize. Focus on you, sort these memories out after they settle. Otherwise you will be lost.

Form the words with your lips, focus not on these scraps but on the movements.
"I know what I'm doing now, it's ok."
Then pull again.
No. 1000176 ID: 03875e

Stopping now could make things way worse at this point. Just say, if you aren't tripping too hart to speak, that its just a memory; it doesn't seem to be causing physical defects, so why not see what its a memory of.
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