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File 135244116261.png - (15.57KB , 700x700 , 394.png )
469901 No. 469901 ID: c4e5c2


One of these days it'll stop beeping on its own. One of these days. I'll just have to turn it off until then.


And one of these days, my patience will outlast my alarm clock. Least I have a breakfast that doesn't need cooking.
Expand all images
No. 469902 ID: c4e5c2
File 135244118833.png - (12.60KB , 700x700 , 395.png )

No. 469904 ID: dcb0ee

Hi there.
No. 469906 ID: 70c0f2

Uh, sup? Who are you?
No. 469907 ID: f2c20c

Breakfast is liquor, eh? We're dealing with a real hardass here. Review your job duties.
No. 469914 ID: b6edd6

Get ye fedora.
No. 469916 ID: b7169d

Needs bacon bits, bacon of all sorts goes best with an alcohol breakfast.
No. 469918 ID: c4e5c2
File 135244354190.png - (10.54KB , 700x700 , 396.png )

My name is Itcher, and I am the accountant and-slash-or tax collector. It is my duty to write down numbers on a page and call it a day, all while avoiding all tax collection duties. Unfortunately, I have done such a good job at avoiding the latter via doing such an excellent job at the former, I am a dismayingly high ranking accountant.

At about 6:02 every day, I receive my first call. And there is it.

>"Itcher! J-Block needs to pay up, we're sending you down." He has a rate of giving up as much as my alarm clock.
"Fuck you, J-Block has people with guns for... what do you call those eye holes on doors to look through?"
>"Eye holes on doors."
"Yeah. They've got guns there. Fuck that. I've got a wife and three kids." I can't count the number of times my imaginary wife and three kids have gotten me out of bad jobs. "Who's gonna feed them if I get clubbed? You?"
>"Fuck you, no."
"That's what I thought. Fuck J-Block, that place is nothing but people who are late on rent because they spent all their money on guns, booze, cigars and raw fucking anger in a can. I'm going into the office after breakfast to count the usual." Around here, authority is measured by the proportion of fuck words versus non fuck words.
>"Goddamnit Itcher, no one's changed the count since yesterday, no ones touched anything since you counted yesterday, you can't keep saying you've done shit when all you do is count the same stuff."

Drinking in the morning, with the bottle of booze, I'm feeling as hard as a wet sponge. Bacon bits sound good, but all my budget goes to booze and living expenses, not food for a prince.

Least the booze is around for me. Closest thing I've got to a girl in bed, actually, with that hourglass figure it's got going on. We've mastered space travel, warp drive, put men on every known inhabitable planet and some uninhabitable, but fuck us if we can tell the difference between a babe and a bottle. Better get to work.
No. 469919 ID: c4e5c2
File 135244355728.png - (17.67KB , 700x700 , 397.png )

>Get ye fedora

Fuck horns. Never a proper mobster without one, pen pusher or not. It's all my morning energy to put that and an undershirt on, nevermind a suit and tie and all that zazz. I have to conserve my energy for the morning Traffic, that's Traffic with a capitalized T. It would be faster to walk. I don't even use this damn car for anything but going at a no pace.
No. 469924 ID: f2c20c

What's the deal with J-block?

Also if you are in Zozu I think you are going to die very soon.
No. 469931 ID: c4e5c2
File 135244608838.png - (15.66KB , 700x700 , 398.png )

>What's the deal with J-block?
It contains the most aggressive of the bunch, and they don't much like people telling them when to pay rent, protection money, protection protection money, or in this case, all of it at once. They know more about disposing of bodies than I care to be around.

>If you're in Zozu, you're going to die soon
Yeah there's that morning thought coming back again. Can't worry about it all though.

"Morning, Miss Jessica."
>"Goddamnit, Itcher, put a fucking shirt on. Are you going to count the same thing again?" One day she'll say hey or give me a nod or somethin'. My undershirt's more of a shirt than her half-top anyway.
"Yep. Boss'll want to know if a single thing's gone missing as soon as it happens."
No. 469932 ID: c4e5c2
File 135244617408.png - (14.34KB , 700x700 , 399.png )

Anyway, long as this gold doesn't disappear while on my watch, I think I'll be good. And hey, it's not bad. I'm locked up all alone in here, and sometimes I pretend like I am a prince or king or something, and make a throne of gold and stuff. Security has a good laugh and all.
No. 469933 ID: f2c20c

Why is there so much of it? Where'd it all come from?
No. 469934 ID: 6cc859

And what's it used for? Besides entertaining depressed accountants.
No. 469937 ID: 0f443f

Best way to keep a thing safe is to think about how you'd steal it. So how would you pull off a heist for this?
No. 469939 ID: c4e5c2
File 135244952861.png - (18.32KB , 700x700 , 400.png )

>Where'd it all come from, why is there so much?
Hell, I don't know, probably some shipment of gold dropped on our front yard, and the big man wanted it because the powers that be say that gold is valuable.

>What is it used for?
>Besides entertaining depressed accountants?
Not a damn thing. Maybe it's a rainy day fund or something, I don't know. What I do know, is that if I drop one of these suckers, it'll be awesome because then I'll have something to do for the rest of the day, involving trying to bash the dents out of it.

>How would you steal it?
Me? Pick up a block of it, stroll on out, then save myself the grief and shoot myself when it's found out there's a missing block. But hey, I'd have successfully taken a block.

After the hard day's work of counting the same stuff.

"What's all the commotion?"
>"Our branch manager died. And for god's sake, don't wear a fedora." Jessica says.
"I suppose you're all mourning his death." He got transferred in 3 weeks ago. Not bad.
>"No, we're taking in bets to guess how he died, since we don't have word yet. Want to join in?"
No. 469942 ID: dcb0ee

This sort of thing happen often?
No. 469944 ID: f2c20c

No. 469961 ID: c4e5c2
File 135245178929.png - (13.84KB , 700x700 , 401.png )

"How much is the entry fee?"
>"80 zeny."
"I'm in. I'm gonna say it's suicide."
>"Ha, okay then. Think it's gonna change how things are run over here?"
"Someday it will."
>"Since you said it'll happen someday, I'll know it's never."
"Has it ever?"
>"Shut it."

A messenger comes in through the main entry.

>"We just got word! He couldn't handle the stress, and too many hits were placed on him. He offed himself! Blew his own brains right out!" he says.

Everyone groans. Over the lost bet, of course. Managers just don't last long around here. Well, came out to... 400 more zeny, or enough booze to take some heat off.
No. 469962 ID: c4e5c2
File 135245179795.png - (15.11KB , 700x700 , 402.png )

I go home, have dinner with my lady friend, and wake up the next day. The alarm clock doesn't malfunction, so I take the 6:02 call.

>"Itcher! J-Block is up. We're going to get their pay in full over the 5 five days. And by we, I mean you."
Huh. It's someone else this time. Maybe the management did get someone new, cause I don't recognize the voice.
"Sorry, I don't do the J-Block. I have a wife and 3 kids, and not a single person to take care of them if I get offed."
>"You think I give a shit about your family?"

... that's new. Zozu does a lot of shitty things, but getting between a man and his family is something else.
No. 469964 ID: f2c20c


Ask who the hell this guy is.
No. 469972 ID: c4e5c2
File 135245284038.png - (15.18KB , 700x700 , 403.png )

"Who th'hell is this?"
>"Your new manager. I'm sending your escorts to your room. I've heard about you, and if you aren't fully dressed, showered and smelling of lilipads by the time the escorts get there, they're going to get some practice roughing people up on you first."

Normally we do our own thing. The ship ends up loose, sure, but the managers are often pretty easily intimidated and don't last too long before they give up and let us run the show. This guy sounds like he could be an authentic hardass, though.
No. 469974 ID: f2c20c

Well fuck. Better take a shower and get dressed properly, then.
No. 469975 ID: b6edd6

Welp. This guy sounds like he will get himself killed off before too long, but not before you will have to go to J-Block.
No. 469977 ID: 144900

Ask who your escort will be
No. 469984 ID: c4e5c2
File 135245467535.png - (16.99KB , 700x700 , 404.png )

"Who's my escort gon...." He hung up on me. I give him about a week, tops, if he treats anyone else like that.

Ehh, I'm cool with the escorts. Probably don't need to shower, but I guess I should have one every once in awhile and all that. So why not, I'll take one.

I answer the door to see two people I've never seen before. A goddamn good thing I did take a shower, I don't know how cool these two are.

"What happened to Kilo and Palli?"
>The hugeass belenos is first to talk. "They've been transferred. You ready?"
"For J-Block? Never."
>"Do you want to do this with bruises and a limp, or are you ready?" the neumono asks.
"Yeah I'm ready.

The answer is not cool at all. Can't even take a joke.
No. 469985 ID: c4e5c2
File 135245469144.png - (13.02KB , 700x700 , 405.png )

J-Block comprises of about 40 doors. You'd think I'd be good with 8 a day, but that'd be assuming that they would actually have the money on the spot.

Here comes door number one. At least one of my escorts look like they can coerce someone. Then again, the little guy looks pretty fucked up, he might have a good psychotic act going on.

Act, I say.

Knock knock Goddamn, I think the walls in this complex have turned inside out in protest of having anything to do with this shithole.

>"The fuck do you want, Zozu? Ya want protection money? What about a little shittin protection when people come taggin' our houses?"
No. 469990 ID: f2c20c

Okay, your manager gets offed, the new one doesn't act like anyone else in the mob, and sends two people you've never seen before to make sure you make it to a job that is extremely dangerous and not what you usually do?

It's a set-up, dude. They're trying to get you killed, or at least keep you busy so you can't do your usual job. Should've called Jessica to confirm the new guy came in already. We can't do anything about it with these two goons here though. If possible we should get to a phone somewhere they can't listen in to double-check with Jessica.

Tell this guy that you'll take care of their tagging problem right now. Ask him who's doing it, or take a look at the tag, maybe it's obvious.
No. 469997 ID: 144900

Tell him we would have been here to protect him if we hadn't been so busy, our new boss is driving us up a wall and all that.

Yeah we could deal with the problem now. But our boss won't let us do charity work so he has to pay us some protection money first.

Also are you packing any guns Itcher? Other than your arms i mean?
No. 469998 ID: c4e5c2
File 135245606056.png - (11.65KB , 700x700 , 406.png )

>Are you packing any guns?
Good god yes and how.

"Oh yeah? Who's doing it?"

One of these houses are going to have someone these guys can rough up. I can check with Jessica then to see if this guy is just fucking with me. If they're trying to off me, then I don't know why they'd need it to be a job related 'accident' or something. Aint' no one'll miss me if I wake up with a bullet in my skull one day. Still, damn well bugs me. Anyway, I'm here for the rent, not for charity or anything, but we do run things decent enough to look into shit like people tagging.

"Those hooligans upstairs! The Kawpo brothers!"
>"Eh? Aren't they like... 15 years old or somethin"?
"Yeah, so?!"
>"I'll see what we can do. But for now, your rent's due."
"You aren't seeing a zeny chip till I see those kids brought to some justice!"

>"Just say the word." the little guy says. "We got the lock to these keys, and we'll break 'em."
No. 469999 ID: f2c20c

Don't they have parents? Deal out punishment to the parents for something the kids did, and they will share the pain with their kids.
No. 470002 ID: 144900

Maybe we can give those kids a good scare? Like explain to them with our muscles that we don't like it when rival gangs come tagging our turf.

Also never do what that creepy midgets suggest you do.
No. 470003 ID: b7169d

Actually if we're collecting money we can both head upstairs, get the kids parents rent money, scare the shit outta the hooligans and than come back here to collect payment. Likely a bit more due to the hassle.
No. 470004 ID: b6edd6

(The impostors theory sounds likely to me, especially since our guy is known for constantly checking the gold stockpile.)
No. 470005 ID: c4e5c2
File 135245841764.png - (15.48KB , 700x700 , 407.png )

>Creepy midget
To be fair, he's not that short for a neumono. Can't speak well of his personality, though.

"You serious?" the creepy notmidget says.
"It's upstairs. Show some legwork, we may as well go there."

We head up and knock on the door to the miscreants. This would skip ahead to.... #18.

>"Oh!" I hear a girl say behind. "I-I'm sorry. Our parents aren't back yet." Got to be kidding me. "I've had to take care of my brothers. They haven't been causing trouble, have they? I, uh, the rent money would be with my parents. Please, they'll be back in 2 days!"
No. 470006 ID: f2c20c

Tell her they have been causing trouble- tagging the house downstairs. You'd like to look inside, and confiscate their spraypaint. As for the justice part, tag THEM. have them cover their eyes then spraypaint their stupid faces. Maybe spraypaint something rude in their rooms as well.

Itchy, is it even possible to deal out punishment when their parents aren't there without going against Zozu's love of family? I mean, their father actually DOES have a wife and three kids.
No. 470007 ID: 144900

Yes your brothers have been causing trouble and we would like to have a word with them.

We got 5 days so we can come and collect the rent when the parents come back, just write the apartment number and date down somewhere.
No. 470009 ID: b6edd6

You might as well go in to check whether the parents aren't just hiding in there.
No. 470010 ID: 6cc859

Make a quick inspection, confiscate spraypaint if you see it, tell her to warn her brothers that there will be Consequences if they do this again, then go back to the first guy, tell him that the brothers have been warned, and let the other two rough him up if he doesn't pay up.

Then contact Jessica ASAP while that happens. You don't want to be the guy who fucked up and let the gold go missing.
No. 470012 ID: c4e5c2
File 135246128068.png - (24.27KB , 700x700 , 408.png )

>Their father actually does have a wife and three kids
... huh. Now I'm jealous.

>Does it go against the Zozu's love of family?
Not really. They're not part of the Zozu family itself, but even if they were, punishing other's kids isn't out of line if it's considered deserving. Plus, I'm not killin' or cripplin' them, just gonna shame them a bit. Not a big deal.

"I'm going to confiscate their spray paint."
>"Er, of course. Come in..."

I'm still on a time table, and tagging their faces seems adequate. No real harm, but let 'em know what it's like.
"Maybe your style isn't so bad after all." Bigman McHugefluff says.
"What about the damn payment?" shorty asks.
"We'll come back in a couple days. We have 5.
"What are you, a workaholic? I don't want to come back here, I bet they've got zeny lying around. Hell, I bet the girl's got some hidden up her skirt. Malsen, grab her for me and let me work it out of her!"

The fuck. "You touch the girl, shortstuff, and I'm going to put you in the freezer jobs." One of the last escorts joked around with shit like that, but I don't get a joke tone outta this guy.
"Fine, you nun."

He's not even the same goddamn species.
No. 470014 ID: c4e5c2
File 135246133294.png - (17.89KB , 700x700 , 409.png )

We go back down to #1, and I show the confiscated spraypaint. It's enough to get his dues, so we head to number two.

>"The fuck is this about? Payment ain't 300z around here. Shiiit, YOU should be paying ME to live in this dump!"
"We gave memos about the increase last week. No excuse."

Another neumono with another attitude problem. Actually, he does raise a valid point. Anyway, this may be a good time to let my guys take out some unfound anger so I can check in on Jessica. Don't know why I'm so worried about the gold. I'm not the head of security or anything.
No. 470015 ID: f2c20c

Maybe, but if the gold goes missing, what will you count? Plus, you could get a reward for proactive behavior.

Have them rough him up a bit while you use a phone.
No. 470017 ID: c4e5c2
File 135246254523.png - (14.50KB , 700x700 , 410.png )

He smells of alcohol. Oh well.

"Okay, you two. Have at it. Shouldn't have to tell you this, but don't break anything you don't need to."

They leap on him like starving lions. Definitely not a thing I need to see, so I step away into the hall, escortless or no.

"Hey, Jessica? Itcher here."
>"What do you want?"
"How's the new manager? He's given me shit, I wanna make sure it's nothing personal."
>"Don't even talk about it. He's been drilling the fuck out of us. This guy brought himself an entourage, and it's damn hard to try to get him to bend when he's got a wall of muscle around him. How're your escorts? That red guy felt nasty."
"Yeah. You stay away from the red guy, he's got a few screws loose in the ethic box. The big guy's not so bad, but it's too early to tell. Anyway, aside from hardass manager, things okay over there?"
>"Does it sound like it? The guy comes rolling around and stomps on the status quo. Manager or not, he doesn't own our asses! Right now I got work to do, not chat it up. You just letting your escorts do all the work? I can barely hear you over the sounds of apologies and yells."
No. 470019 ID: f2c20c

Tell her it's just this one. You wanted to check in because the whole situation was kinda weird. Also tell her you should probably go make sure they don't go too far.

Then go make sure they don't go too far.
No. 470024 ID: 144900

Have you Cut your horns or have they always been that short?
No. 470026 ID: b7169d

Have someone who insulted us, refused to pay, and was generally being uncooperative, one of the few things I can expect these two to do is to rough someone enough to get payment.

Making sure that nothings out of place, since all this has quickly happened in such a short time.
No. 470027 ID: e3f578

Today you've spray painted the faces of two teenagers for misdemeanor to get rent from the person they vandalized. Then saved their teenage sister from probably getting violated by our short red escort. You only let them do this because you're sure they were bored with you doing all the work.
No. 470028 ID: b7169d

Also these thugs seem pretty bad, the red one was already threatening to rape someone, not in a joking manner but if you weren't there he'd probably have attempted it.
No. 470041 ID: 37aa84

If she can barely hear you over the pleading they've probably roughed him up enough, tell them it's enough and you got 37 more doors to check with plenty more who don't want to pay up. Measure their reaction it'll be good to know how easy these two are to reign in so you know how likely these dogs are to chain back up once they've been set lose.
No. 470090 ID: c4e5c2
File 135249270724.png - (33.96KB , 700x700 , 411.png )

>Have your horns always been short?
Yeah. Dunno why. Used to get teased a damn lot by others, specially one with pretty long horns. He always laughed at me like it never got old. Then one day he was running backwards to catch a ball or something and ran straight into a beehive. Impaled the entire damn thing. Didn't think that was too funny, but it was the most hilarious shit I've ever seen. Never did make fun of me after.

"Just this one. So far I've been doing all the work. Red one's some kinda sadist, he's nothin' but trouble." She's exaggerating saying she can barely hear me, the resident isn't that loud. "Where'd this new management even come from? The gutter's unemployment office?"
>"God I don't know. I've got to go. Bye."

I head back in while wrapping the conversation up.

"Alright. Has he paid up?"
"Red shorty still punching him?"
"Nah, just making threats to drill it in."
"Well drag him back out, let's go to the next door."
No. 470091 ID: c4e5c2
File 135249271748.png - (8.90KB , 700x700 , 412.png )

At least they listen to me. I got more authority than them, but I'm not their boss either. And what is behind door number 3...

knock knock

.... nothin'. I knock louder, but no one's coming.
No. 470092 ID: 2bda51

You should probably NOT stand in front of the door in a sector filled with angry people known to have large amounts of firearms.

That's just asking for your inside to become one with a 'slug and splintered door.
No. 470093 ID: f2c20c

Step to the side and listen for a bit. If you hear absolutely nothing just go to the next door; assume they're not home and come back tomorrow.
No. 470094 ID: 8b9215

Who lives in this one and what are they like? Do you have a list of tenants? Figure out who it is before entering.
No. 470095 ID: 70c0f2

I don't suppose red senses anyone in there?

Welp, get the big guy to knock harder. We'll bust in. If anyone's home, we can get them to pay up. If they're actually out, leave a calling card, and we'll come back later. If they never come back, we throw their stuff out, and rent the room to someone new.

Abusing Causality- We know Malsen survives to be one of the 5 people Karri and co meet in the bar (and then, presumably, he gets killed). Therefore it's safe to use him to knock down a door- he can't be killed by say, an explosive booby trap tied to the door by a crazy holdout willing to go down fighting before he'll pay his taxes.
No. 470102 ID: c4e5c2
File 135249442719.png - (11.72KB , 700x700 , 413.png )

>Probably shouldn't stand in front of the doors
Probably not. There are a few people on the list that I definitely won't want to get near. Next one, in fact.

Anyway, don't know much about this guy behind 3. Moved in recently, more recently than I was last here. Wouldn't be the first time we had someone hide from us. Wont' be the last, of course.


... a fucking shotgun. Loaded with such weak shot that it didn't even bust past the door.
No. 470103 ID: f2c20c

Alright, tell him his gun sucks. Then you guys can kick down the door and teach him a lesson he won't forget.
No. 470104 ID: 2bda51

The fuck is he using? Fucking birdshot?


Use shorty as a shield when you go in there, hell, use him as a projectile if you want.
No. 470106 ID: 70c0f2

Boys? You have another idiot to beat some sense into. One who apparently thinks we're afraid of birdshot.
No. 470107 ID: 8b9215

"Red, your call. I'm sure as hell not going in there."
No. 470108 ID: c4e5c2
File 135249508598.png - (11.76KB , 700x700 , 414.png )

"Okay, you two, dude's got a shitty shotgun. Teach him a lesson."
"Popgun or not, he fucking shot at us! You want to teach him a lesson? We're going to shoot his ass back!"

Hm. Can't say I remember what actual protocol was for this sorta scenario. Or if there even was one.
No. 470109 ID: 8b9215

"Feel free. I'm not opening that door."
No. 470110 ID: f2c20c

Well, I did mean teach him a lesson with guns. Like, shoot him up in nonlethal locations if possible.

Did you announce who you were, or just knock? If he knows who you are, just shoot back through the door, then kick it down and continue shooting.

Whatever the case, the force you should respond with should be proportional to the threat. I mean, obviously your response would be worse than the offense, to make sure people don't do that shit, but... well, don't like, kill his children or whatev.
No. 470111 ID: 70c0f2

Dead men don't pay their bills. At least not more than once.
No. 470119 ID: c4e5c2
File 135249632139.png - (17.72KB , 700x700 , 415.png )

"Long as you're the one opening the door, little guy. Dunno if he knows who we are. Not many other people would come knocking at this time of month. See if you can't shoot him down non lethally though."
"Don't call me fucking little."

He rushes in with Malsn right behind, and they have a good old shootout with me out of range. Doesn't take more than a few seconds for the sounds of gunfire to change to interrogation. Doesn't take long for the interrogation to turn into ransacking.

"Man, this guy was fucking loaded! Had a thousand zeny in his mattress!" I hear from down the room. Hearing the groans, sounds like the resident's still alive, least at the moment.
No. 470120 ID: 886a4d

Take no more then what he owes. Your not thieves. Well you are. .... Oh what the hell take half.
No. 470121 ID: f2c20c

Well, go ask him where he got all that dosh. 300 of it is going to be taken by us, of course...
No. 470123 ID: 70c0f2

Take what he owes you, and an added idiot tax for shooting at you. Leave the rest, and leave him alive to pay out again next month.
No. 470137 ID: 2bda51

Something tells me that the little freak only joined up so he could act like a badass without much danger of getting shit shit stomped in.
No. 470140 ID: c4e5c2
File 135249789795.png - (16.05KB , 700x700 , 416.png )

Come to think, I do wonder where he gets that money.

"Hey guy. What do you do for a living?"
>"J-janitor, asshat."
"Oh, good, you'll be able to clean this up then. You make pretty good bank for someone who wipes litter off the walls."
>"That was my loan, you assholes! Tryin' to make a proper business!"
"Oh yeah? Doin' what?"
>"Legitimate business!"
"Right, well, we're taking the rent, plus the You-Shot-At-Us-Tax."

"Half? That barely leaves a couple hundred for us! How about all of it? You want some booze, yeah?"

>Something tells me that the little freak only joined up so he could act like a badass without much danger of getting shit shit stomped in.
Might think so. Mr Birdshot here isn't exactly a trial by fire. Hell, I think I'm gonna go to good old door #9 to test this little guy's mettle.
No. 470141 ID: dcb0ee

Sounds like fun.
No. 470142 ID: 6cc859

Patiently explain to minipsycho that we have standards, and that taking all his money now will reduce the likelihood of getting a greater total amount in future rent.
No. 470143 ID: f2c20c

If we start robbing people blind, they're gonna resist even harder when we come collecting next month. Half is fine.

Besides, if that really is a loan, he's gonna have to pay it back. Taking all of it means he has no extra income via investing it, which means he's fucking screwed for paying it back and may as well be dead if he borrowed from someone particularly violent.
No. 470145 ID: 70c0f2

>red whining about not looting him completely
We're here to take what's ours, not as common thieves. The trick is to bleed them every month, not burn them out in one go.

>Hell, I think I'm gonna go to good old door #9 to test this little guy's mettle.
Sure, go for it. It'll either work, or something bad will happen to the mean little twerp. It's win-win for you.
No. 470146 ID: e3f578

Redman, we do shit by the books. And the books say don't take everything, only what's necessary. Especially since the man is making a business venture which might mean more money for us in the future. If he insists any further, he'll be the one with a bullet in his shoulder. It's all about the long term, if all he can think is the short term, then he'll be in a grave within the week.
No. 470147 ID: 70c0f2

...lecturing them about longterm plans when we know both of them are going to end up dead in a bar over a botched operation before too long.

Hey, Itcher, whereabouts on the asteroid is this place located, anyways? What sector? Above or below ground?
No. 470148 ID: c4e5c2
File 135249929168.png - (15.86KB , 700x700 , 417.png )

>About where on the asteroid are you?
Sector 8, right near the border of sector 4, below ground.

"Half. We're not complete thieves, and I don't feel like explaining the basics of economics to your thick head. Alright, red rabbit, think you're tough stuff?"
"You wanna try me?"
"Yeah. We're skipping ahead a bit. Show me what you're made of."
"Get a load of this guy, Malsen. Doesn't think I'm tough."

Door #9 hasn't paid rent in about 6 months now, I don't think. Normally we woulda kicked them out, but they do a decent job at keepin' the peace here to some degree so we don't have to. And by that I mean, no one's stupid enough to start shit with these guys around. Real shit, not little tagging gestures. They sorta act like the block is theirs, and hey, if they protect it, they can pretend all they like so long as they don't collect rent and money from under us. Tiny little place, but I swear there must be a dozen people in there.

And either the little shit has to back down, or get his shit kicked in.

knock knock
>"FUCK. Who the fuck is at the fucking door?!". 1/3 ratio. The authority is just overwhelming.
No. 470152 ID: b33427

Step to the side and motion for Red to step up and do the honor of informing the gentleman on the other side of the door that the rent's due. Gesture to Malsen to step to the other side, out of the blast zone.

What's the odds on Red being a bloody smear across the hall wall immediately after they get a taste of his charming personality?
No. 470153 ID: 2bda51


I'm going to say 60/30, in favor of him becoming a smear, with a 10% chance there won't even be a smear left.
No. 470156 ID: c4e5c2
File 135250137431.png - (15.79KB , 700x700 , 418.png )

"Alright, Red, do the honors. Inform these gentlemen that their rent is due. Just a single rent, let's see how they react."
"Hey, open the hell up! You guys owe all kinds of rent, but since we're so nice, we'll just ask for last month's!"

The door opens.

>"Thought we had ourselves an understanding, Zozu."
"You wanna fucking go?"
>"No guns, then?"
"Just pipes and fists!"
>"Ya really wanna go, huh."

He's really gonna do it. Least he isn't all talk.
No. 470157 ID: 70c0f2

Welp, sit back and enjoy the show.

Red versus blue, round one, ding ding!
No. 470159 ID: 8b9215

No. 470163 ID: b33427

"That's what Red wanted."

Lean against the hall wall, light up a cigarette, and offer one to Malsen. Time for the match to start.

...The shirtless blue neumono is at least wearing underwear, right?
No. 470164 ID: c4e5c2
File 135250274057.png - (12.64KB , 700x700 , 419.png )

"Have at it, Red." I say, to which he leaps at the blue guy. Malsen joins in as well. Apparently he doesn't want to see Red get beaten to a pulp as much as me.

>Sit back and enjoy
Yep. Guess they might leave me in one piece so I can be the messenger, but I'll still be ready to bolt.
No. 470165 ID: c4e5c2
File 135250276190.png - (20.99KB , 700x700 , 420.png )

..... but, sometimes the universe just goes out of its way to simultaneously amaze and disappoint me. Least the blue guy's got clothes on.
No. 470166 ID: 8b9215

It's not over yet. Stay out of the way.
No. 470169 ID: 70c0f2

Pretty much. Be ready to pull a gun if blue goes for you instead of running back into the room or staying down.
No. 470172 ID: b33427

Hand on your pistol, just in case blue boy here decides to target you.

Wait a second. If he springs back up and into the fight, then it's not a serious injury. If he doesn't, then it's serious injury.

Oh, and better let Red and Malsen know they're not to kill, before they do.
No. 470174 ID: f2c20c

Peek in.
No. 470176 ID: c4e5c2
File 135250437398.png - (14.77KB , 700x700 , 421.png )

Blue guy doesn't bother getting up, he apparently took a hell of a hit in the eye. I still draw my gun just in case, and take a look inside.

Don't know where the new management found these crazy guys. Sounds like the two of them are more or less finishing up, yelling at someone to tell them where the money is while everyone else is just groaning and rolling around all pathetic like. Least the two of 'em stuck to their 'no guns' agreement.
No. 470177 ID: 2bda51

A main factor for this is to remain acting completely unimpressed and disinterested.

Something that should be absurdly easy for you.
No. 470179 ID: 70c0f2

Damn. Take the rent and go- your new muscle is as good as their talk.

>A main factor for this is to remain acting completely unimpressed and disinterested.
No, the tick is to somehow do that and simultaneously praise them for a job well done.
No. 470180 ID: f2c20c

Wow. These guys are like ex-cons. Holster the gun again and walk over the bodies to watch the interrogation.

...or maybe we should keep watching the door to make sure nobody gets in or out? Drag the blue guy in while we're at it.
No. 470184 ID: 059a24

Don't see anything wrong with admitting that they proved you wrong and they are tough. You can still shrug it off if you want but pretending they're not anything will probably just piss them off.
No. 470189 ID: b33427

Step in over the bodies and find who they're interrogating, and make sure they don't go too far. Compliment 'em on handling this lot so efficiently and effectively. You had some doubts they could do it.
No. 470193 ID: 2f4b71

Well, he's got to have at least earned the nickname "Big Red".
No. 470195 ID: 8b9215

I recommend staying put. Compliment them when the exit. Job well done. They are tough. Surprised you with how good they are.
No. 470196 ID: c4e5c2
File 135250846123.png - (27.69KB , 700x700 , 422.png )

I find Red in the kitchen. After dragging blue back indoors and shutting the door.

"Cough it up already!"
>"Second shelf above.. in the back... asshat."
"Yeah? Maybe you still need a mark to remember this by?"

"Cut the shit, red. They're not going to forget this."
"Fuck, are you going to spoil the fun every room?"
"Spoil? By the looks of it, you've had a lot of it. Still surprisingly efficient. Real good job."
"For fucks sake, at least let me-"
"Red." Malsen bluntly lays out his name, which apparently is Red now..
"Fine, sheesh. You're soft, Itcher!" Can't argue there.

>They're like ex-cons
I was thinking cons on the loose.
No. 470197 ID: c4e5c2
File 135250853968.png - (15.60KB , 700x700 , 423.png )

And so it is for a few days. Eventually the payment is achieved for 37 of 40 doors, the last three either simply didn't have the money and got evicted, or were completely abandoned. Didn't feel as dangerous as it did once Red and Malsen turn out to be unstoppable bulldozers, but it was still a game of constantly reigning in Red. Least he'd always back when once both I and Malsen told him to knock his shit off. Somehow it gets done, and I drop the money off at the office before goin' to bed.

On the 4th morning, Jessica left me a message sometime in the middle of the night.

>"Hey. Manager wants to see you. Don't bother performing your last rites, he just wants to talk about the details and... stuff, I don't know. Just to talk, he said, so try to think of cute conversation pieces."
No. 470199 ID: 70c0f2

Welp, let's see what he wants.

If it's part of a plan to capture some base on the surface, remember you don't want to be in any way involved with the actual assault. That's not accountant work. You're for planning and counting- not action.
No. 470201 ID: 8b9215

Take a shower, put a shirt on, report in. Wear your best clothing (which I'm sure isn't that fancy).
No. 470206 ID: b33427

The boss had a message left in the middle of the night that he wants you to come in "just to talk." Yeah, that just screams of trouble inbound for you.

Start mentally sorting through all the things you've done that'd get you in trouble. Been cooking the books and the boss caught on?

Put off the inevitable for a little bit by cleaning yourself up. Shower, brush (both teeth and fur,) and put on your best clean clothes.

If you need a topic of conversation, you can compliment the manager on bringing in Red and Malsen; They've been real effective.

You ever think of adding something breakfast-y to your morning booze? Like vodka with orange juice to make Screwdrivers.
No. 470218 ID: c4e5c2
File 135251413272.png - (19.23KB , 700x700 , 424.png )

Guess I could stand to bring out a better drink this time. Mix it up some.

A shower and all that'll be a good idea, since apparently he's a stickler for that sorta thing. My best suit, which involves cleaning the same one I've been using.

Figure I shouldn't screw around, so I head in to the boss's office right after arriving to the office.

And.. what the shit was Jessica thinking acting to intimidate this one? This wasn't some fucking no name manager off the chop shop.
No. 470220 ID: c4e5c2
File 135251417681.png - (11.88KB , 700x700 , 425.png )

The goddamn son of Father Zozu himself over here. Explains why the ship's screws have been bolted painfully tight. On the other hand, we're part of the main Zozu headquarters, so intervention like this shouldn't get me leaping outta my shoes in surprise.

>"Welcome, Itcher, have a seat. I'm impressed. You did a good job with J-Block, so I must apologize for my earlier tone. I had mistaken you for one of the many incompetent baffoons over here. I leaves me to wonder why you are often let to just sit and count numbers behind a desk. How were your two escorts?"
"Surprisingly effective, sir."
>"Please, call me Maklata Zozu. And that is good to hear, but are they so perfect in your eyes? No complaints? There can always be improvements."
No. 470221 ID: 997ce7

Red likes to talk shit. He can back it up one-on-one, but I doubt we'll always want to pick a fight, and we may not always be lucky enough for it to be one-on-one. Then again, I'm assuming he sent Red specifically because any fights would be pretty much one-on-one.

Neither of them have much imagination or humor, but again I'm assuming they were chosen for muscle, not brains. We don't know much about the big guy beyond big and humorless, though.
No. 470223 ID: 70c0f2

Oh look, it's another one of the people Karri is gonna kill.

>Zozu family is made up of Salikai


Well, now we know why their policies tended towards the unnecessarily cruel and vindictive instead of the pragmatic, with an unusual soft spot / understanding for family. Makes perfect sense.
No. 470225 ID: 8b9215

"We did take gunfire. It may be a good idea to offer protection vests to the escorts. And maybe strengthening the doors to prevent shots coming through."
No. 470228 ID: 8b9215

"As an aside, Maklata Zozu, and not brown nosing, your management has improved operations here and I'm acting in a much more professional way than I was a few days ago."
No. 470229 ID: 997ce7

What? No. That's obvious asskissing.
No. 470230 ID: 70c0f2

Ooh! Wait, no, I got it.

>There can always be improvements.
I suppose Red is a little short.
No. 470235 ID: c4e5c2
File 135251665009.png - (9.20KB , 700x700 , 426.png )

"Red is a little short."
>"Yes, but I can relate to their level of humor, so keep that in mind. Continue."
"Red's mouth runs too much. He can back it up in a fight, but he's likely to start fights we may not need or want."
>"Yes, but he is strong, hm? He does brag too much as well. I wouldn't send him on solo missions for these reason, but we have an understanding. He's got to listen to others when they tell him to back down. He will do things perceived as heinous when left to his own devices, so do continue to reign him in when you feel it necessary. Just tell me if he disobeys this."
"We also took some gunfire. Protective vests would be nice."
>"The escorts don't have them, but don't you?"
"... no."
>"You should. I will have to chew out that department as well. In any case, I will still have you count our gold on occasion, but I am thinking that you are much more suited to field work. Tax collection or other such duties. What do you say about that?"
No. 470236 ID: 886a4d

Well you aren't exactly Rambo but the occasional field mission isn't too bad.
No. 470237 ID: 4a328b

You have a wife and three kids, so nothing dangerous. ;)
No. 470239 ID: 70c0f2

Personally, you'd be much happier sitting safe locked in the vault all day counting the gold bars in the throne under your lazy, drunk ass, but you aren't exactly stupid enough to say that to a Zozu's face.

You don't mind supervising or running things, but you're hardly muscle, or a tactical commander. Money's your thing. As long as that's the job, you can probably handle it.
No. 470240 ID: 8b9215

"I'm an asset in the field when it comes to numbers. So, yes, I'd be ok with doing field work. I do want to stay out of full-blown combat as much as possible."
No. 470244 ID: b7169d

The big guy was actually pretty good as well, respectful, strong, and didn't prefer to start things without the head wanting to

Perfect example of an escort.
No. 470251 ID: b33427

Why would he say you're suited for field work? You've only been out in the field for a week, and it was his muscle that made the difference, not you. You're not saying you're turning down the position (like you could at all,) but you'd like to know the reasoning behind his decision. Other than that, does it come with a pay raise?
No. 470253 ID: c4e5c2
File 135251903292.png - (11.30KB , 700x700 , 427.png )

>You have a wife and three kids
Can't say I got the nerve to make that kinda lie to this one. Usually when people ask 'where' or 'what're their names' or that sorta stuff, I respond with 'I keep their identities secret to keep them from scumballs like you.' Can't say I wanna go there with this one.

"I'm hardly muscle or a tactical commander. Money's my thing, so long as that's the main job, field jobs are something I might be able to handle."
>"Yes, don't worry, we don't have people try and block bullets with their brains. That's what people like Red and Malsen are for, hm?"
"I would speak well of Malson, I want to say. Pretty good escort. Quiet, doesn't act like a sadist, least as far as job went. Anyway, I've gotta wonder why. I'm not declining or something, I'm cool with that, but I didn't make a difference. It was the muscle."
>"I disagree. The muscle is just there to enforce your decisions. But the decisions themselves, of long term finances and who can pay rent and who's a bum under a roof, those aren't decisions that my muscle are qualified for."
"Any change in pay?"
>"Yes, you will have similar wages, but with an addition of danger pay. For now, I think I will simply have you on tax collection for blocks K-O, as they are showing some resistance and sob stories. Do you have any suggestions or concerns on the matter?"

K to O isn't much better than J, not like I'm being given much of a choice. Good thing I won that bet, I'm gonna need a whole lot more booze to get through this one.
No. 470255 ID: 997ce7

"How much are firstborn children worth?"
No. 470257 ID: b7169d

How much will the danger pay be, similar to my standard wage or higher.

Though as a concern, you wonder how well the vest will take bullets, to get a general guage on what you can expect to take easily and what will put you either in the hospital or the grave.
No. 470261 ID: b33427

Ask if Red and Malsen are primarily going to be assigned to you when you're out on collections. If so, you'd like to get them fitted for full body armor in addition to the usual vest. Not just for the protection factor, but for the intimidation value. It'll help in convincing at least a few tenants to part with the rent. Plus it'll make Red look less like a mouthy punk.
No. 470262 ID: c4e5c2
File 135252277518.png - (12.87KB , 700x700 , 428.png )

"What's a firstborn child worth?"
>"Hm? I don't see what's special about a firstborn, as opposed to a second born. I would say somewhere around 50,000 for a healthy child of a commoner. After all, they have further expenses involved to raise them."
Not a tinge of ethics coming into play there. "How much is the danger pay and all that?"
>"2,000 zeny per month."
Not bad at all. Includes medical bills as well, even the lowest grunts get that coverage. "Then what is my timetable like?"
>"1 days per block, one after the other."
Fucking horrible. "1 day, in other words, no forewarning? We normally have 5 days to give them time to 'suddenly' get the money."
>"Hm, yes. Tell me, have I given much mind to how things "usually" go?"
"Fair point. What'll the other tax collectors do?"
>"Oh, I fired about half of them by now. They are no good. You'll have to begin today. Those two will be your partners from now on, I prefer to have people working together to also be familiar with each other."
"Could they get body armor too, then?"
>"For now it will just be you. I will try and get those two some vests in the next couple of days. In fact, I've been considering outfitting Red with some decent bio armor. Anything else?"
"That'll be all, I think. Thanks, Maklata Zozu." What a mouthful his name is.

40 houses per day. If I take 20 minutes per house, that'll take me all goddamn day!
No. 470263 ID: 997ce7

Oh no, you have an actual job now! And that's 4 blocks. Assuming rent/protection is monthly, that's 4 days a month, no? Even if it's weekly, you have 3 days off per week.
No. 470264 ID: dcb0ee

I wonder what's prompted the Zozu to suddenly want to tighten this place up. I guess maybe they got sick of replacing manager after manager?
No. 470265 ID: 997ce7

5, actually, derp. Still, you get weekends.
No. 470266 ID: 6cc859

This is undoubtedly a test to see how you perform.

Whether you actually want to succeed or not, though...
No. 470270 ID: b33427

At a 20 minute average per house, you're looking at 14 hour days. 15 minute average for a 10 hour day, and 10 for 8. Thankfully it's only for six days a month, unless Maklata piles on more blocks. Looks like you're going to have to buy a few more suits. Maybe drink less. Considering how well you did drunk, imagine how well you'd do sober. Or just less drunk.

Or Big Boss Zozu granted this place to Maklath. Or Maklath came here to try and impress his dad. Possibly both. Who knows.
No. 470272 ID: 70c0f2

>decent bio armor
Whoo! I wanna see that in action.
No. 470273 ID: c4e5c2
File 135252488073.png - (28.66KB , 700x700 , 429.png )

Yeah. Might get a weekend if I'm lucky. The rent is a monthly thing, but I can't help but feel that Mr. Zozu is gonna toss another job my way right when I finish the blocks. May as well enjoy the short bit of time I got before my escorts show up, though.

"Hey, 'Jess."

...I knew it, someday she'd say hey. Something must be up. "What's happening?"
>"Save me."
"That bad, huh?"
>"Remember all those data sheets I've passed around for sake of pretending it was getting done, that have backlogged for months? Next week. Due. Next week."
"Damn, really?"
>".... really? You think I was up in the middle of the night to leave you a message out of the goodness of my heart? I'm serious. Save me."
"Well that ain't a good sign. Good to know it's not personal that I gotta do 5 blocks in 5 days. If I stop showing up, you know why. This some kinda trial to see how we do?"
>"You know it. Dude's gonna work the shit out of us, and only keep the ones that can keep up. He's already fired half of us, not like you'd have noticed. Just get outta here before the red slime gets over here into my empathy range. We need a fucking jammer for him alone."
No. 470275 ID: 2bda51

Tell her that if she leaves you here alone with these nutcases and sacks of slime that you are going to be furious.

Do it in the best neutral tone you can manage.
No. 470277 ID: 70c0f2

Well, so long as the firings aren't fatal, failing isn't the worst thing that could happen. The job here is getting more high risk and stressful by the day.

Right. We're off then to put his toxic personality to good use.
No. 470281 ID: b33427

Say you're sorry you didn't think to bring up getting Red a jammer while you were with the boss. Having a way to keep him from tipping off, and pissing off, every neumono for a hundred meters would have been a good reason to have one. Actually, since you've got some time, can you write up a note requesting one and have it sent up to Maklath right away?

Mention to Jess that Maklath is looking to get Red fitted with bio-armor. Maklath's "understanding" with Red must be rock solid, 'cause if Red goes off the rails while wearing that... Well, you hope to be on the far side of the asteroid if that happens.
No. 470288 ID: c4e5c2
File 135252785341.png - (12.02KB , 700x700 , 430.png )

"I shoulda brought one up. I'll send him a message 'bout it. Might help if even non-neumono send complaints.
>"I guess. Dude treats us neumono like tools anyway. Never did get past bad blood."
"Dunno. He's in good with Red, cause he's going to trust Red with some bio armor. I hope Maklath's sense of trust is better than his ethics."
>"No shit."
"But if If you make me spend all my time alone with those nutcases, I'll be furious."
>"You're a good joker. Send that note and get outta here." Jessica says. "And thanks."
No. 470289 ID: c4e5c2
File 135252786012.png - (15.45KB , 700x700 , 431.png )

Block K

"Today's rent day. Actually for you that was 2 days ago or somethin', but today's the last day."
>"Wha? Nono, I get 2 days more! 5 day window, yes?"
"No. The money is going to be gained today, or we're going to have a problem."
>"I have it for you tomorrow!"

People are gettin' used to this 5 day window that just sorta happened due to our negligence.
No. 470290 ID: 70c0f2

Okay... now I feel kinda guilty we killed her. Will kill her. Uh... we kill (willan on-killed) her? Who's got the time traveler's handbook of tense formations handy? Anyone?

>People are gettin' used to this 5 day window that just sorta happened due to our negligence.
Okay, you basically have two approaches here. 1) Be reasonable, allow people a little leway to adjust to the new collection schedule, and tighten the requirements incrementally. (2) Be unreasonable, make examples of the first few people to cause problems (let Red of his leash more than normal), and watch everyone else fall into line.

(1) Would be easier, and healthier, but given your orders, and the crew you have at your back, (2) is the better option.
No. 470295 ID: 2bda51


If we didn't kill her, if she even is the same chick, there was a hilariously low chance of her surviving anyway after the gold was stolen.

Remember, it's not the gold, it's the principle of the matter, Zozu won't tolerate thieves, they probably won't tolerate employees that let the thieves actually be successful either.
No. 470303 ID: e3f578

She seems slightly reasonable, a little disrespectful, but hey, that's really the best we deserve and can expect.
"New management, new strict policies. Can't handle it I'm afraid you're going to have to leave. I can't walk away with nothing. Things have been getting lax around here says the top. You have until the end of the day if it's really an issue, but get it to me before I finish my rounds and the numbers. Or you're out. And remember, get it to me, find me if you have to. Don't give it to any old bozo claiming Zozu flags, that'll just waste your money and time."
No. 470311 ID: b33427

Tell her that your new manager, Maklata Zozu, has closed the window, hard, and that things are going to be run much tighter around here from now on. But, since she's lucky enough to be the first of forty houses you have to collect from today, she can have - check your watch - ten hours to get the money together and get it to either me, or to the Zozu office. If she doesn't have it by then, then there will be consequences. Motion to Red and Malsen for emphasis.

Oh, and one more thing: You'd really appreciate her calling everyone she knows in block K and letting them know that the rent is absolutely due today, no exceptions. Also, everyone she knows in blocks L through O, telling them that it's due tomorrow for L, in two days for M, and so on.

You'll have to remember to get notices printed and stuck on the doors in blocks L through O about the change in the rent schedule. Get the Zozu mark on them and everything, real official like. And make it abundantly clear that if they're not there to pay the rent, and they didn't pay ahead of time, you're busting in and taking it out of their stuff.
No. 470320 ID: c4e5c2
File 135253052262.png - (13.58KB , 700x700 , 432.png )

For sake of my psyche, think I'll do it as easy as possible.
"New management, new rules. You have 10 hours. If I come back and you don't show that money within 30 seconds, you're out."
>"Yes, yes, very good!"
"And do me a favor and tell everyone you know in the building about the rule change, yeah?"
>"Yes, yes, I will do it!"

Yeah, I'll try and get someone to alert the other blocks ahead of time so I don't need to say the same damn stuff to surprised people. The next two doors actually produce the money. I knock on the door to the fourth.

>"Ah, geez. Please give me a couple more days, I'm 50 zeny short."
"You got 9 hours. If I come back and you don't have it, you're getting tossed out. And before you say it, new management, new rules."
>"I can't just whip out 50 zeny out of thin air! How would I get that much in 8 hours?... uh..." She trails off, pretty obviously having one of those mental conversations with Red.
"I can think of one way. Or a couple." Red says.
"Red, get back behind me and shut it."
"Come on, she just said she ain't paying up. How're you gonna explain the shortage to the boss if she doesn't pay it back?"
No. 470326 ID: 2bda51

Neumono can regenerate their genitals.

Doesn't stop it from being among the most painful experiences they can have for the extreme short-term.

Advise her to think of something, anything, that way Red's option, for the sake of the sanity of every creature alive, doesn't get anywhere near of being viable on your watch, as a professional, of course.
No. 470327 ID: 70c0f2

...okay, I don't think it's really acceptable to force this poor girl to whore herself out to Red for 50 zenny. That's chump change, and he's kind of a monster.

You're on the job Red- spend your money on your own time. In the meantime, maybe fear of your alternative will help inspire her to find the money another way.
No. 470329 ID: e3f578

Does she have anything to fence or pawn? Hell, maybe you can buy something from her for 50z if you have it on you. A small TV, a nice vase, whatever. You want anything in particular that would be that price lately?
Just buy all her booze. That'll work. 50z worth.
No. 470332 ID: 9718f3

"I don't care how she gets it but she has time, we don't. We've got a schedule to keep."

She can whore herself out if she wants, but we're not going to force her to choose him to do it. And besides, even if he blows his load in the first few seconds, that's a few seconds we're not delaying for his sake. Guy's an asshole.
No. 470335 ID: c4e5c2
File 135253316228.png - (15.84KB , 700x700 , 433.png )

"You're on the job, Red. Don't go turning girls into whores and buying them. Like we'd sit around and wait for you anyway, even if you busted yourself in two seconds."
"Worth a shot. If she doesn't do somethin', you're gonna have to kick her out. It's either that, or she's gotta use what she's got, and hey, I'm right here."
"Girl, got any booze?"
>"Uhhhh, yes?"
"How much?"
>"I've got a few bottles of Allegro..."
"That's not bad. I'll buy them off you for 50z."
>"Re... really?"
"The fuck?"
"Yes, really."
>"Oh... th-thank you!! Thank you!"
"Don't hug me. Don't give anyone the wrong damn impression, I just haven't had time to buy booze lately. And don't tell a soul about this, or you'll be paying double rent next time and..." No, don't have the heart to idly threaten letting Red on her. "And I'll take all your booze for free." Don't need people knowing there's a tax collector with a heart of gold wandering around, or the sob stories'll be endless. Least I had a pretense here, fuck knows what I'd have done if she didn't have anything worth a damn.
>"Sorry! I won't tell anyone, but I won't forget this!"
No. 470337 ID: 2bda51

Forcibly eject her off of you, don't try to be gentle, don't try to be rough, just do it.

Make it clear that this is a matter of professionalism, that this is the one and only time you'll do this, because even WE lose 50 zeny, the boss get's it, and it doesn't disappear down the drain because one goon thought it a good idea to get his dick wet.
No. 470341 ID: b33427

Firmly push her away by the shoulders and say she best not forget what you said as well, and also the bit about calling everyone she knows in the building and telling them you're coming. Collect your booze, take a swig, and leave.

You might want to consider a getting a concealable weapon that can stop or slow down Red, in case he ever turns violent towards you. A revolver with high explosive armor piercing rounds, maybe?
No. 470344 ID: c4e5c2
File 135253831217.png - (28.50KB , 700x700 , 434.png )

>A weapon to stop red
Yeah. A tazer. A high powered one for him. Those fuzzballs are amazing conductors of electricity. Can't believe I forgot to buy one, would be good to have anyway.

I push her away.

"This is the only time I'm doing this. Remember what I said. This is just professionalism." Wish I could tell myself that this is the only time.

I take a swig and move on. Some doors give the zeny, some doors get the extended deadline to the end of the day. Some doors just give Red and Malsen some reason to crack their knuckles. I use those for booze breaks. I can handle some drunkenness, even if I get way more drunk than usual. End of the day comes around, and I end up with 35 rents and 5 bloody evictions. I also buy myself a tazer, and send in a request to give the other blocks some kind of notice.

Looks like I got myself 2 messages, both left by Jessica.

>"This is a message to everyone who send in complaints regarding Red's empathic signature. Although we are not willing to install a jammer, we are installing an experimental bio armor addon that will act as a self jammer to Red. If this works, which we are confident it will, then he will be silent without causing a building wide jam to take effect."
>"Hey, Itches." Man, she sounds drunk as me. Tired as hell too, I don't think she ever did sleep. "Sent in notes to the other blocks. Guess that makes us even with Red's thing."
No. 470345 ID: c4e5c2
File 135253833289.png - (13.25KB , 700x700 , 435.png )

Block L

Don't even have time to come in to the office. 6:02, I get the call, and I'm off, suit and all.


The booze is damn good, though.


And Block L isn't too bad.

No. 470357 ID: 2bda51

Lay off the booze for a bit bro, just enough to keep the cutting edge off.

Professionalism, we used it as an excuse, better make sure that it doesn't come back to bite you in the ass.

Besides, staying sober / slightly buzzed means you are in more control of yourself, which by extension means you are better to put up with the muscle's shit.
No. 470361 ID: b33427

Alright, Lush McGee, that's enough for you. Cap and pocket that bottle, and lay off the sauce for the rest of the shift. You need your wits about you.

Check that Red isn't pummeling the latest delinquent renter too far. You probably should at keep an eye on him when he's in the apartments anyway, to make sure he doesn't do anything overly nasty.

You really should stay (mostly) sober until at least block O is finished. You're going to need your mental faculties fully intact. And if you keep drinking all this extra booze to counter the new stress of your job your liver is going to explode.
No. 470362 ID: c4e5c2
File 135254293107.png - (12.09KB , 700x700 , 436.png )

Yeah. Better lay off a bit. I pull Red off that bum and head to the next to work off some of the booze. The booze hit harder than I thought, that neumono must've kept a stash of good stuff or somethin.

Good god I think I passed out, a girl that looks way too pristine to be in this shithole answers the door.

>"Heyy. Didn't know they made tax collectors cute around here." what
"Thank you. Rent's still 500 zens."
>"Yeah yeah. Here's 520. Keep the rest as a tip." is this happening
>"Not for you, dear, for the belenos at eye level." that's me
"Well fuck you too!"

I swear I am going to taze this guy before the week is over.
No. 470363 ID: 8860d0

Say thanks and ask what a gal like her is doing in a place like this.
No. 470364 ID: 2bda51

It's fairly obvious that either she just lives here out of convenience, or lives here because this is where her clients can be found.

Basically put she either lives here because she likes slumming, or she's a drug dealer, or more likely, a whore.
No. 470366 ID: 8b9215

Move on. Business hours.
No. 470368 ID: c4e5c2
File 135254469067.png - (12.96KB , 700x700 , 437.png )

"Thank ya. I got a moment for a question, since ya actually paid up. What's a gal like you doing in this kind of a place?"
>"I like to save up, and the price is right. It's not so bad once you spruce the place up, which is nice and easy when you save so much per month. If you really want to know, I can't hide it, but I don't want escorts to hear."
"This actually important?" Malsen asks.
"Yeh it's important, we gotta know just how some people make so much. We got 20 minutes per house, this'll take 2, so jus' step over there."
>"I'm involved in the drug business, and it's no good if people find out where I live, you understand. So I don't go telling just anyone."
"Makes sense."
>"Still, I'm alone as a result, and I've seen you work. Normally not so drunk, but it's kinda cute. I'll let you go since you're on the clock, but want to stop by after your shift?"

This should raise a hundred red flags but I will probably regret it for the rest of my life if I pass it off for the one in a thousand chance this is actually happening.
No. 470369 ID: 18c17e

If it raises red flags then you really shouldn't be doing it, you are in dangerous business after all.
Maybe a coffee or tea at a selected location, at least you can run away more easily if something turns out badly.
No. 470370 ID: 8b9215

No. 470371 ID: f2c20c

Aren't you like, really really short on time due to having to get all these collections done faster than before?

Tell her it might have to wait for a few days. But definitely take that date. You can keep your mouth shut about job-related secrets, even when drunk, right? If your tongue gets loose when drunk, don't drink much during the date and you'll be fine.
No. 470374 ID: b7169d

Agree with this one.
No. 470381 ID: f2c20c

Wait, did she say "stop by" as in, "come back here later and we'll bump uglies"? That's... yeah that's a setup. My suggestion assumed she was asking for a date, so act like she meant that, and try to set one up for when your schedule's free. If she didn't, then don't be a dumbass. Free sex out of the blue like that never REALLY happens, and besides, you aren't a piece of meat.
No. 470383 ID: 2f4b71

Independent (and self admitted) drug dealer on Zozu turf? Offering a tip, and favours?
Yeah, that's totally on-the-level and not suspicious in any way.
No. 470386 ID: 70c0f2

This is such a trap.

Gorgeous girl throws herself on you out of nowhere right after you get promoted? Not a coincidence. This is someone's attempt to screw you- and not in a good way. Someone wants to use the new high ranked tax collector as an in for a scam or a theft. You're being played.

>Built in bio-armor jammer
That's interesting. Certainly easier to carry, and more durable, than the more conventional models.
No. 470389 ID: 9b155d

She's seen you work and this isn't your normal work. Red flag ahoy
No. 470390 ID: f2c20c

...whoa, that's right. Unless she was watching, like, yesterday... Ask her when she saw you working.
No. 470396 ID: 997ce7

I agree, it's definitely a trap. Oh, and I hope the jammer isn't like Rokoa's version. We don't need Red any crazier than he is.
No. 470397 ID: 37aa84

This isn't something you should just rush into, too many red flags. But if you always avoid this sort of thing due to mostly justified paranoia you'll never end up with that wife and three kids your always talking about. Offer to meet her at a coffee shop or something nearby when you know you'll have some free time and take things nice and casual.
No. 470401 ID: 70c0f2

...you know, we do work for a well connected criminal gang. If we want to assuage our paranoia, we could always get someone to run a background check or something for us.
No. 470402 ID: 997ce7

"Hey, I want to pork this chick but I'm suspicious. Please use our valuable time and gear to do a background check on her."
No. 470404 ID: 70c0f2

Well, yes, but obviously we frame it with a better excuse than that. And maybe run it through someone who owes us a favor to begin with.

We aren't going to stop the gold from getting stolen, but at least we can try and stop it from being Itcher's fault.
No. 470431 ID: 4a328b

Make it a date.
No. 470449 ID: 2c0297

Wait... wut?

Moving right along:
Keep your wits about you with this broad, Belenos.
No. 470457 ID: b33427

Yeah, Itcher, this is raising all the red flags. All of them! Don't let the little head do the thinking for the big head, even though the big head is in a booze haze. You've got time to get her checked out first, and then you can screw. It's been a long time, so you can wait a few more days.

Politely decline her offer, for now. Say you're buried in work for the next three days, but you'll get in touch with her after then. Get her name and number, then catch up with Red and Malsen.

When you get back to the office, check for her in the Zozu records, using her name, description, and occupation. She's in the drugs trade, so she might even be Zozu, or Zozu affiliated, which'll simplify things. If you can't find anything, then maybe you can hire on of the Zozu contacts here to look into her, on your own dime.

Oh, and if she checks out, don't go anywhere with her without at least two others knowing you're going there. Choose last minute third-party locations, so she can't plan ahead if she's up to something.
No. 470475 ID: c4e5c2
File 135259161855.png - (14.74KB , 700x700 , 438.png )

"When have you seen me working?" Doesn't take much to admit you're a drug dealer, considering it's legal around here. Least not much to admit it to some guy like me, who's in a good position to want to know these sorta things. Anyway, should be raising red flags, but it isn't, and I'm keepin' it to a date.
>"Last couple months. Just after rent payment is a popular time for people who still have money to blow it on narcotics, you know, so I move in after you move out. You know, when you do actually come around to any block."
"I don't even know your name."
>"It's on the sheet, there. Alia."
"Right. Yeah, okay, how about we stop by at a coffee shop or somethin'? 8 PM or... actually I'd probably be late, knowin my luck, and I don't wanna stand you up or anything. How about 3 or 4 days?"
>"No problem."
"Alright, I'll call ya with an address and time and all that."
>"And I'll look forward to it."

Okay. Gotta make a call.
>"Fucking hell, I can smell the alcohol from here. Are you even at work?"
"Yes I'm at work, and I just met this girl, right?"
>"Stop right there. You're about to say something that's going to break about 5 unwritten rules all across the board."
"Yeah well, the important ones get written down. Listen, I need a background check on Alia, in apartment L-12."
>"You know how busy I am. You do it."
"Don't want to have to explain myself to the record keepers. I'll help you out with those data spreads during the couple hours of free time I get per day during this hell week."
>"You better. I'll see what I can do."
No. 470476 ID: c4e5c2
File 135259163206.png - (13.02KB , 700x700 , 439.png )

Okay, so I can hold some wits about me, but I'd be bullshitting myself if I said I wasn't enamored with her. Still, I stop by the office after work to find out what Jessica's found out.

>"What little I got on her seems to check out. Been living there for about 3 months there, pays her rent on time. 31 years old, no family to speak of though. Not very likely if she's just offering herself to whatever tax collector comes in. Then again, she might want to get in with the Zozu family for protection's sake. Likely just using you, but hey, if it's worth it to you."
"Cut me some slack, I just want to get to know her better first. Make sure it isn't all like that."
>"I suppose you've never seen her before since you've been slacking so much?"
"Yeah, but someone else must've been getting her rent, right?"
>"Yeah. That someone else is ol' Grinny."

Well son of a bitch. J-Block got ol' Grinny about 3 weeks back.
No. 470478 ID: 2bda51

Well, better get to helping her with those data spreads.

Shoot the shit while you're at it, get the low down on the latest goons around the office.

Maybe mention that Red's apparent goal is to pour money down the drain in an effort to forcibly make whores out of the women and how it grates on you.
No. 470479 ID: 8b9215

"Got" as in killed?
No. 470482 ID: 997ce7

Also, out of curiosity, how attracted are you to Jessica?
No. 470484 ID: f2c20c

Makes sense that she'd be looking for a new man-friend in the tax collection industry, to help her business with inside tips on how much money people have. She can find customers more easily that way, and even adjust her prices to match them.

On the other hand maybe she's just finally pulled herself out of the grieving process and is looking for a handsome fellow who can protect her. Give her a shot, feel her out. If she tries to exploit your connections in the wrong way you can just call it off.
No. 470486 ID: 70c0f2

Look, no one is ever happy to see the tax man, or hands our extra money for the fun of it. She wants something. If she was interested in you for just you, she would have found another excuse to approach you. She's up to something, for sure.

Guys, I know how tempting it is to feel this girl out and hope for the best, but we know someone is somehow gonna steal that gold, and people are gonna die for it. Our priority should be making sure Itcher survives that. That means avoiding the transparent honey-trap play for the man who counts the gold.

For now, help Jess like you promised, and fill us in on Grinny.

Huh. You know, it just occurred to me Jessica isn't really a neumono name at all. It's human. Do you know where she's from, or what her past is?
No. 470488 ID: b33427

Well, best settle in for some long hours doing those data spreads. Order up meals for the both of you, and brew a big pot of coffee. Think you could thank Jess extra for the favors by giving her a bottle of that good stuff you got?

While you're working, fill Jess in on the horrible shit that Red has tried to pull, or has pulled. You trust her enough to share what happened between Red and that blue neumono in K-4 yesterday, and how you handled it?
No. 470490 ID: c4e5c2
File 135259451640.png - (15.18KB , 700x700 , 440.png )

>"Got" as in killed?

>Get the low down on the latest goons around the office
Can't say we're too receptive to chitchats. Hell, been talking to Jessica more the last few days cause we've been here the longest, considering the turnover rates. Probably the same reason she's been talkin' back. Turnover rate being getting out of this building and getting killed alike. Can't get too attached to others.

>Fill in on Grinny.
Not much to say. He was a tax collector like me, just turned out he wasn't as lucky.

>How attracted are you to Jessica?
I'll say a whole lot, when I wake up one morning to find out I've turned into a neumono.

"Where are you from anyway, Jessica? That isn't any neumono name."
>"Eh, my parents were born in a multi species town, and they wanted to help me blend in so they gave me a more common name."
"Anyway, still gotta warn you to stay away from red. Fucker tried to help himself to some girl low on rent. Hell, I'm just assuming he'd actually pay up the short 50z himself instead of trying to 'ignore' it for her. Had to buy some booze off her to save her from him. This stuff, actually. Have some."
>"Thanks. And like I'm surprised. I told you, soon as he entered range, I could tell he's... speak of the fucking devil."
"Hey hey hey. If it ain't the bird behind the desk." Goddamn, he didn't even wait for his bio armor to settle in. He's practically squeaking his words out.
>"Oh, jesus, that shit actually worked. At least I could tell when you were coming before."
"Oh, please, you wouldn't dress like that if you didn't wanna get bent over. And I can still sense others, too, and I know you want it. And now that I've got me some good bio armor, there's not a single neumono around that can compete."
No. 470491 ID: 886a4d


Just say her name in the most deadpan tone you can. Like there it is undoubtable fact that she is the best this damn Asteroid has to offer.
No. 470492 ID: 70c0f2

...they gave him a one-way jammer?! Godsdammit, the Salikai reverse engineered Polo! Red really is officially her evil opposite, now.

He, uh, looks kind of comical in those blue jammies, though. What percentage he rocking, there?
No. 470493 ID: f2c20c

Rokoa can compete.

Knowing what I do about neumono empathy, him actually saying that out loud is only for your benefit. Tell him you don't believe that about Jessica, and leave it at that.

...it's a bit pitiful actually. He must be so repugnant to other neumono that he's still a virgin, unless he raped somebody. That's probably why he hits on other species so much. Can't get any from his own kind. That bio armor's jammer might actually improve his chances at getting with girl neumono, provided they never met him while he wasn't wearing it!
No. 470498 ID: c4e5c2
File 135259628216.png - (9.84KB , 700x700 , 441.png )

"Oh yeah? What percentage is that?"
>"80%, now stay out of it, I'm talking to the tits."
"I think that bio armor broke your outward senses. Pretty sure Jessica isn't like that."
>"Goddamn right I'm not. Blueballs is delusional as hell."
"Quit lying to yourself, babe."
Every fucking day, now, I have to deal with this. "Rokoa."
>"Please. I beat the shit out of her a few years back. She didn't have any bio armor on then, but neither did I."
Least with my previous escorts, I could call them out on rampant bullshit. They had the dignity to own up to it.
No. 470499 ID: 2bda51


Just laugh.

Laugh long, laugh hard.

Because that is just fucking rich.
No. 470500 ID: f2c20c

She doesn't let defeats go. If he'd done that, she'd have come after him again and again until shit was settled.

...but I think you're approaching this wrong. Instead of calling him out on lying, match his lies with lies of your own. Make it a goddamn contest.
No. 470503 ID: 70c0f2

This is stupid. Why are we picking a fight with him? It just limits our ability to control him when we need to. Let it go.

>I beat the shit out of her a few years back.
Well then. I'll look forward to the show when the crazy bitch comes after you for one of her rematches, then. Everyone knows that's what she does when she finds someone who can stand up to her. They make goddamn movies about it.

That's as close to catching him in the lie as you're going to get. Hell, if word gets around and Rokoa actually catches wind, she might come looking for the arrogant fuckass claiming to have beat her.
No. 470506 ID: b33427

Yeah, keep this from escalating. You don't want to try your luck and end up having to whip out that tazer and try taking Red down now. Though, make a note to check if Red actually did beat down Rokoa, 'cause you never know; Red might be one of the Zozu's pet science projects. That'd explain why Maklata trusts Red so much; He's programmed/trained to follow their orders.

Oh, and see about getting something more powerful to take down Red, to go with the tazer. A syringe loaded with powerful neumono hallucinogens, to be stuck in him after sticking that tazer in his ear. See how well he does on a bad trip through his mind.
No. 470509 ID: c4e5c2
File 135259799447.png - (13.12KB , 700x700 , 442.png )

Ain't finding him humorous enough to even force myself to laugh, rich as it is. "Yeah? I hear she doesn't let defeats go. Remind me to watch when she comes back for you."
"Hey, it was pretty one sided, I wouldn't blame her if she tried to forget about it. Right now, my eyes are on the pink girl. How about you go back to whatever it was you were doing and let me take her back to my place? Or hell, I can show up to hers. Doesn't matter."

>Stop things from escalating
Red's already doing his goddamn best to make things escalate. Pretty sure I can get him to back down without use of the tazer, but that'll still make future workdays real awkward if I pull out some heavy words. Then again, Jessica's no sweetheart of mine, but she is the closest thing I got to a friend around here.
No. 470513 ID: 8b9215

"Red, turn that jammer off. Something is telling me it's distorting what you pick up off others."

Don't get too upset with it. If he can't work with the crew he's getting fired (or killed).
No. 470514 ID: 70c0f2

Well, if he's going to keep pushing, I guess we have to keep him in line. Even if it makes him more insufferable, it's sort of your job to control him, and she's sort of your friend.

Red, if she's stupid enough to buy your shit, go ahead and have your fun. But if the lady ain't interested, she ain't interested, and I expect you to drop it. I don't need my muscle harassing coworkers- that's just bad business.
No. 470515 ID: f2c20c

Well I guess he could try double-checking it...

I've got two ideas here:
1) Straight up tell him to back off, since you know he's under orders to do so when those around him tell him that.
2) Offer him your beer in exchange for his absence.
No. 470517 ID: b33427

Here's an idea: Offer him an entire bottle of that good stuff you've been drinking, and say that if he can down the whole thing in one go, you'll "go back to whatever you were doing." He can't back down from a challenge; His personality demands it. He'll be passing out drunk afterwards, and even if he isn't, you just order him to back down. From inside the boss' office and with Jess at your side, 'cause it's almost certain to go badly.
No. 470520 ID: 997ce7

So... any reason not to taze him until his eyeballs cook in his skull?
No. 470522 ID: 997ce7

Actually, now that I think of it, we need him alive so we can blame the gold's theft on him.
No. 470524 ID: c4e5c2
File 135260124130.png - (13.33KB , 700x700 , 443.png )

>Offer him booze
Don't think I care to see what Red with inhibitions removed is like. Just ran out of booze on me anyway.

"Back off, red."
"Nah, I like the look of her. And the feel. Both feels, if you catch my drift."
"That wasn't some casual sentence outta my mouth, Red! Back off of her."
"Fuck you, we're not on the job, you only got an ounce of weight on me when I'm escorting you!"
"She ain't interested."
"I don't hear her sayin' it."
>"I'm not interested."
"I didn't say I cared about your feelings on it, whore. I'm gonna smack your ass toni-"


That's fuckin' it.
No. 470527 ID: c4e5c2
File 135260157073.png - (13.21KB , 700x700 , 444.png )

"How long've you been workin' here?!"
>"Ooh, big man's gonna fight? Long enough to fuckin'-"
"Long enough to fuckin' know we're family here. That's your sister you're talking about. You're talking about raping your sister right under some goddamn security cameras."
"...uh ..."
"Anything happens to her, and we'll know. And you know what we do to people who do what you're thinkin' about doin'? We do eye for an eye around here. You won't be able to walk for a fucking week if at all, I dont' care how much bio armor you've got on or even if you did manage to beat down Rokoa. And if I see you so much lay an eye on her, or even hear you laid an eye on her, I'm gonna make sure you'll miss not having thimbles sewn into your hands to prevent your missing fingers from regrowing!"
No. 470528 ID: c4e5c2
File 135260158165.png - (9.74KB , 700x700 , 445.png )

He backs off and leaves without a word. Cause of my high position, Red knew that what I just said wasn't any bullshit. First time I'm thankful I ended up in as high a position as I'm in.

>"Didn't know you actually had a good voice behind your apathy. About owing me for that background check.. forget it. We're even again, don't worry about the datasheets. Mind if I sleep at your place tonight?"
No. 470529 ID: 251fc8

Sure, your both part of the family, but make her understand that even if she WASN'T the only thing close enough to a friend you got around here that you wouldn't stand for that shit.

Your home is open to her, least I hope it is.
No. 470530 ID: f2c20c

Say okay, but no funny stuff. You're not into Neumono.
No. 470531 ID: 997ce7

Accept, and give her the tazer just in case.
No. 470532 ID: 70c0f2

Yeah, no problem Jess. You shouldn't have to worry about that shit.
No. 470533 ID: 8b9215

"Yeah, it's fine."
No. 470538 ID: b33427

No, you don't mind. For two or three days even. You don't think it'll be safe for Jess to be alone for awhile. Red might not stay backed down, even with the threat of Family retaliation over him. That guy's got more loose screws than a hardware store.

How about staying and helping with the datasheets? You've got nothing better to do at home than drink, anyway, and Jess could use an escort.

Best write up a short memo on this little incident and send it up to the boss so he knows what happened, and there's a record. No additional action is needed right now, but Red has potential trouble written all over him.
No. 470540 ID: 8b9215

Yeah, formal write up and get the security footage if they have it.
No. 470561 ID: 2c0297

Our diminutive red friend probably isn't going to let this rest.
Stick around and go home together. Keep an eye on Red tomorrow.
No. 470564 ID: 251fc8

As scummy as Red is, I feel that it might be important to remind him that he IS a part of the family as well.
No. 470568 ID: c4e5c2
File 135260698158.png - (12.26KB , 700x700 , 446.png )

"Sure. No funny stuff. You're cute, but I don't go drifting species."
>"I thought the reason I want to sleep over is obvious."
"Yeah yeah. And I'll stick around anyway. You shouldn't have to worry about that fuckload. Got more screws loose than a hardware store."
>"Don't get too white knighty on me here."
"Don't make me change my mind either. I'm going to write a report on him anyway."

I call security down here.

"You rang?"
"Nice to know you guys didn't go home early. You see that shit red said?"
"Yeah. Dunno if it'll do much besides a slap on the wrist. That kid's one of Maklata's pets, so punishment may not be severe unless he really does something. I'd have half a mind to divert some of my guys to keep an eye on him, but Maklata already fired half my staff, so it's all I can do to protect all this shit in the building."
No. 470569 ID: c4e5c2
File 135260701608.png - (17.73KB , 700x700 , 447.png )

>Keep an eye on Red
I spend most of my waking arounds around him. I'd have to make a special effort not to do so. Still, I'll remind him that he's part of the family so long as he's alive.

I escort Jessica back to my place after we do some work.

>"Don't worry, I'll sleep on the floor. I'm not some princess."
No. 470570 ID: 8b9215

Don't you have a sofa or something?
No. 470572 ID: 70c0f2

What, you don't have a couch to offer her? Or a spare blanket or pillow or something in the closet?

Head off to bed, she can have the shower or whatever if she wants.

Welp, that's the last person from the meet last chapter.
No. 470573 ID: b33427

You don't have a couch? Or even a recliner? You living in a closet or something?

Tell Jess she has the run of your liquor cabinet, if she wants a drink. Heaven knows you have more than enough booze.

Give her your pillow and blanket. You can sleep in your casual clothes, and use rolled up laundry as a pillow.

This does not bode well. Slashing the office and collections staff in half is one thing, but security is a whole other thing. You don't ever leave security at half staff. Why didn't Maklath bring in his own to fill it out?
No. 470574 ID: 2c0297

We've clearly been destined to failure.
No. 470580 ID: 997ce7

I get the feeling Zozu's son is the one behind all this shit, what with what he's been doing.

How often do salikai backstab each other?
No. 470582 ID: 70c0f2

I would think, rarely? From what little data we have, it doesn't seem like them. The facility Salikai had a complicated system of indirect competition (which was why they kept Rokoa, Polo and co around). They also took revenge for their own pretty seriously. Zozu, from all indications, also seems to place a high premium on family (to the extent you can exploit it for sympathy, and that they expect their employees to act as a family. This is important enough that it got Red to back down, rather than cross it).

Not that I don't think they wouldn't work against each other's interests, or screw each over for their own power, but I think there's a line. A murder power-play or outright betrayal seems unlikely.
No. 470583 ID: c4e5c2
File 135261327773.png - (15.79KB , 700x700 , 448.png )

>You living in a closet or something?
Pretty damn close. Got a table and a bed. Good quality room, but real small. Jessica's is no better. We all got basically the same room.

>Why'd Maklata split the security in half?
Hell, it would take some insane guy to try to steal anything from here anyway. My guess is Maklata thought the previous security force was too much, considering it could apparently have afforded some guys to spy on Red. Then agian, I'd be lyin' if I haven't been unusually worried about the gold recently. Probably just since I can't suddenly count it all day.

"Help yourself to my liquor cabinet, Jess. I don't have a sofa shoved in here or anything, but you can take whatever spare pillows and blankets and stuff you can find in the closet. 'night"
>"Don't mind if I do before heading to bed. Night."
"Wait, I almost forgot. Take this taser. Can you fire it?"
>"Sure... fuckall, where'd you get something like this? This is a tazer? Yeah, the trigger guard is wide enough."
"I got connections, you know. I'm not supposed to say or give anything about it, but more unwritten rules you know I feel about. I can get myself another one. Hey, maybe we can taze Red at the same time."
>"Yeah. Thanks."
No. 470584 ID: 997ce7

The kid cut security and replaced them with his pet psychopath(s), and now the guy who used to be in charge of the gold is taken off and seduced. And half the witnesse-- staff are gone.. because he's a hard taskmaster, of course.

Slightly suspicious, no? And while I don't doubt that salikai as a whole treasure family, I do doubt this one does. Deviations from the norm exist, and his unusual behavior is good reason to suspect him.
No. 470585 ID: c4e5c2
File 135261337517.png - (14.17KB , 700x700 , 449.png )

Next two days aren't too bad, actually. Least I have some company in my room, if not in my bed.

Block M isn't too bad. Red was kinda quiet. Still beat the shit out of everyone with Malsen's and my permission, but he kept the lewd comments to females to himself, just glarin' at me instead. Had to pull him off the residents earlier too, that bio armor makes him punch way too hard. Malsen's still a professional. I get the feeling Malkata did give Red a talking to after all.

Block N was kinda nasty. Kept the booze in control, just managed to keep a buzz the whole time. Pretty much just lookin' forward to making that call, which I may wanna do. Tomorrow I'll be finishing up O, and then I may as well make that date.

"Hey again, Jessica."
>"Hey. How's your day?"
"Better since I'm done risking my neck. Gonna make that date now, I think. I'll show up at the office to take you home after though."
>"Owing you more and more."
"Fuck that, we're friends by this point, wouldn't you say?"
>"... yeah, I guess so. But you were out when the announcement is made, so I gotta tell you, Maklata is heading out.
"For real?"
>"Yeah. Says he managed to turn things around in 4 days, and one of Ziril's new management recruits is gonna take over to see how he does to prove himself. Might be business back to usual, once we work him over like all the rest. Fuck, Itcher, I'm so tired. Goddamn, I'm almost happy now. If any neumono ask, tell 'em my brother's in town. Don't need them hearing I'm happy to see Maklata go."

Heh. Maybe I'll get to count the gold again. Guess I still could while waiting for Jessica to finish up, for old times sake.
No. 470586 ID: 997ce7

...Okay, I'm probably just overly suspicious, but now he leaves suddenly and Itcher is probably taking responsibility for the gold just in time to take the blame if it proves to be missing?

Plus, we can't stop it from happening, so logically we can't make the protagonist do anything about the perpetrator. The easiest way to do that is to have Ithher not suspect the perp.

Itcher didn't even think of it beyond "nah, the incredibly valuable gold is overguarded anyway" when it was brought up.

It's totally Maklata.
No. 470588 ID: 8b9215

Just take a peek. You should have it memorized by now.
No. 470589 ID: 70c0f2

Is Maklata gonna take his goons with him when he goes? Red gone will mean one less thing to worry about, even if collections won't be as easy.

Check the gold. Make sure no one stole it while you've been busy, and before the boss leaves town.

If it all checks out good, you can head off to the date, then. Keep your wits about you, man. I know this is supposed to your breathe of fresh air after a lot of risking your neck, but I still say it's suspicious.

I'm just saying, if Maklata is behind what's going down, it's likely for some kind of internal maneuvering, or bigger plan. It's not so he can get the gold and run, or break with his family outright. Blatant betrayal or treason seems unlikely- a power play that fucks over a lot of other people incidentally doesn't.
No. 470590 ID: 997ce7

Right, but I have to wonder who Feathers works for. I have an idea that Maklata arranged the whole clusterfuck, poor-quality pin and all.

Why he'd want this department to get offed, I don't know yet, but it seems slightly more likely than the Zozu family not knowing they were supposed to use silver pins.

I mean, they had enough manpower that the veracity of the pin didn't really matter. Suppose the poor quality was intentional, then the point would be to kill whoever had to disguise themselves.

As to why, they're witnesses. Assume that this is some internal power ploy, then he'd want to kill the witnesses.

Of course, it's late and I think I've made a few too many assumptions to justify my paranoid fantasy. But somehow I don't think "never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity" is really applicable to a race of biological computers.
No. 470592 ID: b33427

Yeah, go check on the gold, but do it by the book. Inform Security, do all that entry/exit signing shit, body search, have a guard on duty, and so on. Once you're counting the bars, pay extra attention for any shenanigans. Everything from a bar out of place, to stuff like bars not feeling like they weigh right. Could indicate shit like lead bars wrapped with gold.

But, once you're done with your bout of paranoia about the gold, go out and enjoy your date. Maybe you'll get lucky with Alia, and Jess can use your bed to finally get a good night's sleep.
No. 470593 ID: c4e5c2
File 135261602127.png - (17.81KB , 700x700 , 450.png )

>Let's head to the date
I'm lookin' forward to it too, but it'd be tomorrow after I'm done with block O.

"Hey, you guys hear?"
"Yeah. What's with all the booze."
"Coincidentally coinciding with the news, I do hear that drinking is nice this time of season."

>It's totally Maklata
That's a hell of a thought. Normally it'd be obvious as fuck, but this gold is property of the guy's father, Father Zozu himself. Stealing from under him? The gold ain't even that valuable, and Maklata already is wealthy as hell. There's just not a single motive. Now, if this were Ziril's, then those salikai siblings have all sorts of nasty as shit rivalry. Father Zozu hates it, but that doesn't stop them from....

... Ziril's fresh new management is coming in...

... to prove himself... under Ziril's name... right after Maklata turns our numbers around to look good as hell on paper, but just asking for...
No. 470594 ID: c4e5c2
File 135261607413.png - (13.13KB , 700x700 , 451.png )


>"Uh..." Jessica starts.
"Ya don't want any?"
"Just a paranoid thought from troubled sleep. Yeah. give me the booze."

Fucking hell, that's all kinds of paranoia, and even if it were true, there's not a goddamn thing I can do about it. Just makin' myself worry.

"Gonna count the gold after I make the date. I'll walk you home, Jess, as usual. Jules, body search me and have me enter and sign and shit and all that."
"What's with all the formalities?"
"Maklata is still on, isn't he?" Convenient.
"Point. Do it quick, you and Jess have been hanging out, and don't leave the girl hanging alone in this little par.. little wine tasting ceremony."
No. 470596 ID: c4e5c2
File 135261613575.png - (13.86KB , 700x700 , 452.png )

Counted the gold. It was all there, at least. Wouldn't expect it gone.

Goddamn, what am I thinking. Of course it's not gone. I head back with Jess.

>"What are you thinking?"
"Eh? What are we, dating?"
>"No, idiot. I talk about Maklata and Ziril, you suddenly think for a moment and let out a big old FUCK, and then count the gold? What's going on?"
No. 470597 ID: e3f578

"Just thinking Maklata might 'prank' his rival with having gold missing under his watch. That's about it. He's got a good opportunity here, with half the security gone and everyone fanatically busy. He has two people he's sure he can absolutely trust, and one of those is a lackey whose psychopathic and strong enough to do a lot of crazy dangerous things. Who's also easy to put blame on if something goes wrong with the prank."
No. 470598 ID: 70c0f2

Whoops. This is what happens when we voice too much of our suspicions and meta-knowledge directly to the characters.

>What's going on
Explain your paranoid suspicion. You don't know if you're right- but it might explain a thing or too.
No. 470602 ID: 6cc859

Might not be a good idea to put it so frankly, even if she is our friend now; perhaps just say that you want to make absolutely sure everything's in order, what with the rapid changes in management and such. It's making you jumpy and tense, and a bit of routine helps you relax some anyway.
No. 470603 ID: b33427

Just irrational, unsubstantiated paranoid thoughts that us all would get caught up in the middle of some Zozu sibling bullshit, that's all. Probably brought on by sudden change, overwork, bad sleep, exposure to Red, and that feeling you get when things are looking up that Fate is going to pirouette 'round and kick you in the nuts. It'll pass. You're a little sorry for alarming everyone over it, though.

Take a shot of booze to calm yourself, and call up Alia to make that date.
No. 470604 ID: c4e5c2
File 135261824301.png - (15.36KB , 700x700 , 453.png )

"Eh, just... paranoid shit that would get us caught up in Zozu family rivalry. Doubt you wanna hear it."
>".. yeah, stop right there. Don't wanna go into work with a weird mood.
"I'm going to call up Alia now, do be quiet. Don't wanna give the wrong idea."
>"Shit, I can't just occupy your room if you score and bring home the lady."
"It's not like that. Just getting to know her first."
>"Good... and goddamnit, let me sleep on your bed. I'm not kicking you off, just don't make any moves in bed."
No. 470605 ID: 8b9215

No. 470607 ID: 70c0f2

Why not. Poor girls has had bags under her eyes from lack of sleep. That we can somehow see through all the fuzz!

Yeah, fine. Drunks don't move in their sleep anyways.
No. 470608 ID: 251fc8

You never said she couldn't use it.

It was her decision to use the floor yo.

Also, if the date does happen tonight, wouldn't hurt to make damn sure that she keeps that tazer close and doesn't assume that just because the door opens that it's us.

Red may be leaving, but he hasn't left just yet, and it would be like him to try something fucking stupid.
No. 470610 ID: b33427

Sure she can share the bed with you. Hell, she can have the whole bed for a night or two; She looks like she needs it more than you. And you promise that if your date wants to score with you, you'll take it to her place or a hotel.
No. 470612 ID: b59bfb

>Yeah let's let her sleep on the bed. You know some time I would really like to see red and rokoa fight again. top 20 to top 3, that would be very interesting indeed.
No. 470613 ID: c4e5c2
File 135262350656.png - (12.98KB , 700x700 , 454.png )

"Never said you couldn't. You came up with that."
>"... right, then."

I go ahead and call.

>"Hello. Tax collector"?
"That's me. I'm thinking tomorrow, 8 PM, but I'll only be good for a few hours. I'm thinking the intersection between A and 6."
>"That sounds excellent. You sound tired."
"I am, but I'll be fine. Just gotta get some sleep."
>"I won't keep you for now, then. Goodnight!"

"Alright, Jess, I'm goin' to sleep. Date's tomorrow, but I'll stop by the office on my way back to pick you up and all that."
>"Thanks. Just had to be a psychopath that was also fucking strong."

Not quite what I dreamed of when I thought I'd someday sleep with a girl, but it might be the better deal before too long, if this isn't some set up and the universe thought to finally give me a good card.
No. 470614 ID: c4e5c2
File 135262351732.png - (21.40KB , 900x700 , 455.png )

I manage to get through the O Block. Felt fucking forever, but I run off to the coffee shop. And there she is, so I take a seat.

>"Good evening. Tough day?"
No. 470615 ID: 8b9215

No. 470616 ID: 6cc859

"But let's not talk about our work."
No. 470622 ID: b33427

"Yea. Felt like it'd last forever. Yours?"

How much are you allowed to talk about your work? 'Cause other than work, you don't have a whole lot to talk about.

Thinking back, Alia never did get your name. You should reintroduce yourself. How you got your name might be enough of a topic to get through a few minutes.

How long has it been since you've been on a date, anyway? Or had anything like a girlfriend? Or a hook-up?
No. 470626 ID: c4e5c2
File 135262710174.png - (13.41KB , 700x700 , 456.png )

>How long has it been since you've been on a date, anyway? Or had anything like a girlfriend? Or a hook-up?
Fuck, it's been ages since I've had so much of a hookup. This job doesn't meet chick's in flattering light, it'd only get me laid if I was as sleezy as goddamn Red.

"Very. How's your day?"
>"Same. Business is tough, as usual."
"By the way, my name is Itcher. A pleasure to meet you."

Me not talkin' about work is more of another unwritten rule, but I don't feel like talkin' much about it anyway. We talk with small shit for awhile. The state of this dumphole, philosophy, even economics. She's pretty damn educated. It's nice. Doesn't matter, but just hearing a classy tone of voice is nice. Kinda makes me feel bad with my rotten-ass mouth.

Eventually she does pause oddly, though.

>"I do have to be honest, I'm not entirely selfless inviting you on a date like this. Normally I don't let myself get attached, but I'm going to be moving away in 3 days. I figure it doesn't hurt to take in some company since I won't be working here anymore. Business hasn't been so good recently. I hope you don't mind if I disappear after three days. You're nice, and I'd at least like to have some pleasant memories around here."

Knew it was too good to be true.
No. 470627 ID: 8b9215

"Can't. Steady job. Threat of death is high. But so is everywhere else on this rock. I've got money for booze. And Zozu aren't trying to kill me."

Can't leave your wife and 3 kids? It's more a joke at this point.
No. 470629 ID: 1bdb8a

Her leaving in three days doesn't mean you can't enjoy those three days. Set up another date. Ask her if she knows of a good place since you picked this time (If you don't know the place you might want to scope it out before the date to make sure it's legit.)
No. 470634 ID: b33427

You know what? You don't have many memories of this place that you'd call "pleasant" either. Hardly any, really. Well, you're going to do something about that right now.

Tell her that if you've only got three days, you're going to make those three days count. You've got some zeny to burn, so ask her what she'd like to do that's classy. Or at least classier. You'd make a suggestion, but all you know in this hole in the ground are dive bars and liquor stores.

Wanna bet that downturn in her business is 'cause yours has shaped up?

Uh... She's not asking Itcher to come with her, right?
No. 470638 ID: c4e5c2
File 135263273676.png - (9.88KB , 700x700 , 457.png )

>Wanna bet that downturn in her business is 'cause yours has shaped up?
Wouldn't know. We don't tend to muscle in on legitimate business like that, but fuck if I've been knowing what all Malkata is changing.

"Just to be clear, you're not expecting me to move, are you?"
>"Oh, no, we just met. I just want to make these last few days count is all."
"Want to pick the next date? That is, if it's something you'd like."
>"It absolutely is. This is a very nice shop, though, would you like to come here again?"
"Sounds good. Dunno when I'm getting off work, though."
>"Call anytime then, you won't bug me."
"Sometime tomorrow for sure, then. I hardly have any pleasant memories here myself, so I may as well change that with you. You sure just this place though? I don't mind blowing some zeny for this cause."
>"No, this place is fine, I insist. It's the company that makes a place, not the place."

We chat it up some more, but the night winds down and I'm not gonna make Jessica stay at the office all night.
No. 470639 ID: c4e5c2
File 135263276239.png - (29.62KB , 700x700 , 458.png )

>"So. How'd it go?" Jessica asks, on the way home.
"Pretty well, I'd say. Got another date."
>"That's good. Wanna fuck up Red?"
No. 470640 ID: 8b9215

"Want to? If I wouldn't get in trouble or fired or killed or maimed, sure. But one of those happening is near certain, so no, I won't be fucking up Red or helping to fuck up Red. Depending on what you do to him I'd say 'He deserved it.'. That's as far as I'm willing to back you up."
No. 470643 ID: f2c20c

Boy would you. It might not be a good idea though, as him holding a grudge for something unexpected could come to bite you in the ass. Like for instance, him going after your new ladyfriend. Ask her if there's some reason to do so, aside from him just being a pile of slime.
No. 470651 ID: 37aa84

What did he do this time?
No. 470652 ID: 70c0f2

>I hope you don't mind if I disappear after three days
Along with all that gold you're responsible for.

>"Wanna fuck up Red?"
Want to? Yes. Am I sure that's a good idea? No.

The only reason he hasn't started shit yet is you found an angle to control him- you're in a position of power over him, and that family bullshit. Attack him, and you lose that- all the power you'll have is the kind you get when you beat someone up. If you actually subdue him, at all.

Fucking him up could go wrong if he wins the fight, or even if he loses, since he'll come back for revenge later. I suppose that's less of a problem if you kill him... but that has it's own problems. He is the boss' pet psychopath.
No. 470665 ID: e3f578

I know your relationship with Alia is a quick fling, but you might have to explain Jessica's situation with you since she's a roommate in your extremely cramped quarters.

On your next date, you can bring it up casually asking if she's leaving a friends behind. Or when talking of the Red fella.
No. 470674 ID: b59bfb

That sounds good but we shouldn't go around breaking a lot of unwritten rules and getting ourselves fired...
No. 470678 ID: b59bfb

We should start calling him little red to screw with him, which is also funny because my car's name is little red.
No. 470686 ID: c4e5c2
File 135265742706.png - (37.89KB , 700x700 , 459.png )

I gotta think pretty long about how to address this one.

"He didn't do nothing, did he...?"
>"He was getting his bio armor tested to make sure his perception of others wasn't getting distorted or anything. Apparently it's not, but that's not the point. Guy's restraining himself, but he's still fucked up and wanting to do stuff. I just don't think a mentality like that should be alive, is all."
"Believe me, I'd love to, but he's a goddamn stupid strong neumono in 80% bio armor. Shit can go 10 ways wrong, and Malkata would put the heat on if something happened to him. Pet psychopath and all."
"Don't do anything stupid, yeah?"
>"Alright. Long as you don't mind my presence in your room, cause as far as I can tell, Red's here to stay. Malkata left a few hours ago, but Red didn't."
"Nah, you can hole up in my room for however long."
No. 470687 ID: c4e5c2
File 135265747033.png - (12.89KB , 700x700 , 460.png )

I head in to work the next day. Don't even know what I'm supposed to be doing. Turns out we got a meeting to get acquainted with the new manager.

>"As you can figure, I'll be the new manager. Maklata left a shitton of work to be done. I've been told to keep up the numbers that have been shown over the last few days, but you guys look like mortals and shit. Jules, you'll be doing the same stuff today. I'll see what I can do about not having a skeleton crew. You too, Jessica, but I don't think it's worth training a new recruit to get familiar with the current data entry. Itcher, since the current blocks needed to be done are done, I'm putting you on spreadsheet duty with Jessica, since you're able to do it. Any questions?"
No. 470688 ID: f2c20c

Ask how we're handling Red now that Malkata isn't here.
No. 470691 ID: 997ce7


Although I'm tempted to see what he'd be like if he got raped. I bet it'd be hard to find a volunteer, though.
No. 470693 ID: 251fc8

Did we ever have that "talk" with Red about how, no matter how much we may not like, he's still family and we would fuck over anyone that messes with him the same we would for Jess?
No. 470694 ID: 70c0f2

Taller red is boss now? 'Kay. He got a name, Itcher? Just so we can keep track.

I don't think we have any. Asking about red won't help, I think, and you're fine doing spreadsheets instead of collections, for now.

If we really want to do something about Red? Let's leak the security footage of him bragging about one upping Rokoa on the asteroid's internet or data web or whatever. When she catches wind of that, I think our problem will resolve itself.

The tricky bit is not being close enough by to get killed when she shows up to rip him to pieces with her bare hands.
No. 470695 ID: c4e5c2
File 135266076702.png - (8.35KB , 700x700 , 461.png )

>Did we ever have that "talk" with Red about how, no matter how much we may not like, he's still family and we would fuck over anyone that messes with him the same we would for Jess?
Yeah, on one of those awkward work days. Wasn't a long talk, he didn't respond much, but I think he heard me.

"Yeah. How're you gonna deal with Red?"
>"Ah, yeah. Thinking I'll put him on security as a trial, in case he can hold his attention for 10 seconds. Otherwise, he'll just be on standby for escorting." manager says.
"Second off, what's your name?"

So that's how my day goes. Boring, and nice. He lets us off at a reasonable time, even, so I take Jessica back to my place early.
No. 470696 ID: c4e5c2
File 135266078071.png - (11.35KB , 700x700 , 462.png )

>"Can't believe I might get a full night's sleep."
"Yeah, sleep easy. My windows are made well, security in my building is good, and don't open the door for anyone unless you see me through the other side."
>"Didn't know you were a tax collector with a heart of gold."
"Don't tell anyone my shameful secret."
>"Haaa. Sorry about being scared of him. I'll see about getting Jules to help me out, he's probably got as much weight as you to throw around."
"Hey, geez, I'm telling you, it's no problem. By the way, had a funny idea about dealing with Red. Upload some footage of him bragging about beating up Rokoa. If half of what I hear about her is right, she's come to tear Red a new one."
>"Heh. She'd have to go through our outer defenses to get to him."
"Yeah, nevermind how I'd get that information dropped to Rokoa, and nevermind the fallout that would occur if it was found out I pulled that shit and got a dozen of our guys killed just to get at Red. Anyway, I'm gonna give Alia a call now and have myself a life."
>"Break a leg. Wake me up in never."
No. 470698 ID: c4e5c2
File 135266084847.png - (12.10KB , 700x700 , 463.png )

Alia and I chitchat some more, before she asks the big question.

>"I know we've just been seeing each other for a day now, but there is only so much time. Would you like to head back to your place? You look very tired."
No. 470702 ID: 997ce7

Accept and tell her not to mind your roommate.

I hope you keep your tazer somewhere accessible just in case.
No. 470703 ID: 70c0f2

...I still think this is some kind of honeytrap that's going to bite you in the ass.

But if you want to go through with it, make an excuse for going back to her place instead, or grabbing a hotel room or something.

Don't say the reason you can't go back to your place is you've got a friend crashing there. Jessica's best defense is that Red doesn't know she's there. So don't blab the word around.

And I hope you don't have anything valuable on you, like the keys to vault or something, that can be stolen and fuck you over.
No. 470706 ID: c6ec33

If you really want to stick your dick in that, ask her if her place is OK. You literally have no room in yours. If she asks why, say that a friend is staying over for a few days.
No. 470707 ID: c6ec33

Actually, I like the idea of holding off on the friend thing. Try to keep her out of it unless it absolutely needs to come out. And if it does, don't mention who it is or why they're there or even what gender they are.
No. 470709 ID: f2c20c

You could tell her you got a wife and three kids, then laugh and say that's just an excuse to avoid J block. Unless you actually want to keep that factoid a secret...

Wait a second, Red's on security? Does that mean he has access to the security feeds? Which means he saw you and Jess leave together? I don't think keeping her presence at your apartment a secret from this fine lady is going to serve any purpose at all.
No. 470723 ID: c4e5c2
File 135266380832.png - (13.77KB , 700x700 , 464.png )

>I hope you keep your tazer somewhere accessible just in case.
Yeah, I got a new one. Keep it on me at all times, along with a plain old gun.

>And I hope you don't have anything valuable on you, like keys to the vault
Fuck no. I'm just the counter, they don't even trust Jules to leave the grounds with stuff like that.

>Jessica's best defense is that Red doesn't know she's there
Unfortunately, it hasn't been too easy to hide that Jessica's been goin' to my car after we hang around the office together. Not a secret that I've been having her hide in my place. Her best defense is that my building's security is made for high profile people like me under constant threat, so she's safer alone in my room than alone in hers. So there just isn't a point to keepin' it from Alia.

"Gotta be frank, I've been hiding a friend of mine at my place. Dangerous business and all that, but that won't leave much room for privacy. Mind going to your place?"
>"Oh, my place is kind of a mess. I'd much rather get a hotel room if that's the case. There's one just upstairs, actually."
"Yeah. Mind you I can't stay all night, gotta make sure my friend's okay." Good sec or not, I ain't sure I trust the night crew to not let Malkata's pet in.

So I head upstairs to the hotel. Few hours later, I'm glad to say I do have some good memories of this place after all. Been doin' a lot for Zozu and taking a lot of bullshit, so I think I deserve some allowance here to risk a honeytrap. 8:57, better start headin' back. Pretty goddamn tired though after all.
No. 470735 ID: 70c0f2

Hey, Itcher got some, and nothing terrible happened! (Yet). That's a thing that happened. Something not to be pessimistic about. Cool.

Welp, if you need to head out, be a gentleman about it. Hopefully you don't get jumped on the way home, or discover something awful happened while you were out.

Jess, Malsen, Jules and Lamarra should have plot armor that keeps them alive till the fateful bar meet clusterfuck. But there's nothing saying Jess doesn't get raped before. Or that we can't get Red or Itcher killed beforehand.
No. 470740 ID: f2c20c

Did you set up your next/last date?
No. 470749 ID: b59bfb

Gongrats on getting laid, proud of you, now run off and go home.
No. 470750 ID: c4e5c2
File 135266891731.png - (10.86KB , 700x700 , 465.png )

>Did you set up your next/last date?
"How's tomorrow sound? Would that be the last date?"
>"Tomorrow is excellent, but I'll be around for most of the day after tomorrow as well. I think I'll leave at night."
"Sounds like a plan. I'm thinking the same time, but I'll call you just in case something comes up."

Damn tired, but I should be good to drive.
No. 470751 ID: c4e5c2
File 135266894570.png - (13.87KB , 700x700 , 466.png )

>"...Anytime, just give me a call! I don't suppose you accept on the job visits, though?"
"Nope, sorry."
>"I understand, I didn't expect it. You're very tired, though, are you sure you don't want to try and sleep off some fatigue?"
"Nah, I'm good."

Hm. Gettin' a call from Jules. Never did get a call from him before.
No. 470752 ID: 886a4d

Uh oh. Trouble. Answer it and be on your way.
No. 470754 ID: 251fc8

Answer it.

Be prepared for the worst.
No. 470755 ID: b59bfb

Hm, well you're getting laid again tomorrow so pick up. Wait, oh crap the gold was stolen, so be ready for anything.
No. 470756 ID: f2c20c

Take the call outside. It's work related so she shouldn't be listening in.
No. 470757 ID: 997ce7

Excuse yourself and take the call. Keep the tazer ready.
No. 470758 ID: 70c0f2

Gotta take this. Work, excuse me.

So... the gold went missing, Red made his move, or both? Start your betting, folks! The misery and misfortune round starts now!
No. 470761 ID: b33427

Give Alia a quick parting kiss, and say you've gotta go. Take the call in the hall on the way out.

Where the heck do you keep your gun, never mind that tazer, when you're not wearing a suit jacket?

Bit odd that she's a little insistent about you sleeping here. Probably just your baseless paranoia again.
No. 470763 ID: b59bfb

Imma bet the gold is gone, 100z.
No. 470764 ID: 251fc8

Also tell her that you would love to stay and rest, but you have a friend to take care of.
No. 470765 ID: c4e5c2
File 135267120353.png - (10.39KB , 700x700 , 467.png )

>Where the heck do you keep your gun, never mind that tazer, when you're not wearing a suit jacket?
My shorts are tailor made to conceal even bulky weapons. Makes my pelvis look fat, but that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

"I gotta take this. See ya tomorrow."
>"Goodnight!" Alia says. I give her a quick kiss and run out.

"Hey, Jules? Getting a call from head of security is giving me some bad feels."
"Pull back your sweat, nothing's happened, not yet anyway. Just caught Red bragging to some other folk. He's getting uppity again, giving people a bad time. Dunno if you want to try to talk him down again or what, but he looked pretty sour when he didn't find Jessica. He left just a little while ago. Just do me a favor and look over her, a'right? You're at home, right?"
No. 470766 ID: 886a4d

Fraid not, on my way though.
No. 470767 ID: f2c20c

Tell him you will be very soon.

Get your ass in your car.
No. 470770 ID: b59bfb

Just lie and say you're home, no need to give anything away.
No. 470771 ID: 70c0f2

Welp, fuck. Time to break the speed limit, I think. Well, assuming crime gangs bother to post those.
No. 470777 ID: b33427

Tell him that you aren't, but you're on your way right now. Think you can get to your place before Red, if he's going there at all?

Ask Jules how much heat Red was packin' when he left, and if he was wearing bio armor.

Call Jess and let her know that Red might be coming to your place, and that you're on your way back right now.

Then call up your building's security office and tell them not to let Red in under any circumstances. Give them his description, and ask that they call you back if he shows up.
No. 470780 ID: c4e5c2
File 135267374725.png - (14.78KB , 700x700 , 468.png )

"...I will be in record time. How much heat was he packing, and was he wearing bio armor?"
"Probably a lotta heat, and yeah he's always in his bio armor now? Loves it to death."

>Speed limits
There are speed limit signs, but those only apply to cars that are not Zozu affiliated. I am taking advantage of that now. Even using my ambulance mode. Fancy shit. Least it keeps me awake.

I call up the building and get them to transfer me to security.
>"Security speaking. Who is this?"
"Itcher! Do not let Red in! Short neumono, probably wearing bioarmor, has a shitty attitiude."
>"Is he Zozu?"
>"Sorry, can't do much to not let him in. Does he have your keys or anything?"
"No, but fuck that! Don't let him in!"
>"All he can do is sit outside your door as long as you didn't mess anything up. We'll take a look around the camera history for you to see if he's entered the building recently, but there's not much more we can do, sorry. Talk to your bosses if you need more."

Fucking useless ass night crew already started! I'm almost there anyway.
No. 470781 ID: c4e5c2
File 135267381527.png - (12.77KB , 700x700 , 469.png )

"Jess? Jess, talk to me!"
No. 470782 ID: c4e5c2
File 135267383794.png - (11.10KB , 700x700 , 470.png )

>"Yeah? The fuck is it?"
".... Fuck! You're alright."
>"... should I not be? Goddamnit, thought I said not to wake me."
"Nevermind. Jules is just scaring the shit out of me. And so are you. Damn paranoia kicking in."
>"You gotta work on that. What did Jules say?"
"Red's apparently getting uppity. Good thing he can't keep his mouth shut about that, I guess."
>"Well, fuck."
No. 470783 ID: 70c0f2

Well, you were doing great there, until you woke her up when everything was fine, and ruined what sleep she was going to get tonight.

Maybe you should rethink taking some kind of action against Red, Itcher. Yeah, attacking him could go bad ten ways to Sunday, but you can't live like this forever. Either you need to convince him to lay off, or deal with him. If hanging him out for Rokoa is unworkable, maybe you could arrange an accident...
No. 470784 ID: f2c20c

I think we'd better start planning on how to provoke him into a situation where we won't get in much trouble for offing him, and will have the means to do so. You'll probably want to either have a very very large gun or kill him by nonphysical means, like suffocation or drowning or electric shock. He is targeting Jess specifically, and that is just not kosher.

Plan with her on the ride over tomorrow. Let her get back to sleep now though. Make sure your door's locked and you've got weapons within reach of where you're sleeping. How sturdy is your door, anyway?
No. 470785 ID: 6cc859

> he looked pretty sour when he didn't find Jessica. He left just a little while ago.
Jules thought he might be coming here. Don't relax yet.
No. 470787 ID: 251fc8

There is an impossibly low chance of this happening but..

Maybe he wants to find her to apologize?
No. 470788 ID: b33427

Goddammit. Red's gotten into your head, and you're not even a fuckin' neumono. Maybe you need to drink more to knock the paranoia down.

Apologize to Jess for breaking her good night's sleep with a Red scare. You'll take a hotel room nearby so she can have the bed to herself tonight. Or she can take a hotel room on your dime and you'll stay here. Whichever she wants.

Head down to the building security office and tell them that if Red shows up on their cams, to call you immediately; You'll deal with him. Grease their palms with a little zeny, if you think that'd help.
No. 470790 ID: b33427


As for what to do about Red, he is getting out of hand, but isn't to the level of needing a beating yet. If he pulls something tonight, then he'll be due getting his head knocked in, but not before.

However, what you could do is something so you know where he is. Tomorrow talk to Jules and ask about tracking devices that could be installed in Red's bio armor, under the guise of a jammer upgrade or tweak or something. Then you and Jess could keep trackers on you. The boss might even sign off on it, since even he might like to know if Red is nearby.
No. 470791 ID: 6cc859

> You'll take a hotel room nearby so she can have the bed to herself tonight. Or she can take a hotel room on your dime and you'll stay here. Whichever she wants.

What? This is an absurdly bad idea. The head of security himself just asked us to make sure she stays safe, and you want her to be alone?
No. 470795 ID: c4e5c2
File 135267775279.png - (11.89KB , 700x700 , 471.png )

I still locked the door, of course. Always do, including the deadbolt.

>How sturdy is your door, anyway?
Like a tank. Again, deadbolt included. Even a bioarmored Red could do anything but bang against it menacingly. The door's even got a little knob to reflect various angles on the eye hole, so you can check out below the door, down each side of the hall, and scope out the hole place for anyone outside. I show that to Jessica, of course.

"Sorry for waking you up. Scoot over, I'm getting sleep too."
>"Eh, it's fine. Won't have much trouble getting to sleep again, so not much lost."
"I might rethink how to off Red, though. Can't live like this forever, specially not you."
>"No kidding. Waking up to a foreign bed with a guy next to me isn't doing any wonders till I remember what's up, either."
"You want the bed to yourself tonight, actually? I can get a hotel or somethin'. It's no problem, course, I'd sleep easier if I were around, just in case."
>"... no, I'm used to it now. You're making me sound pathetic here, but I'd rather not sleep alone after all." Much as I'd like to go bug Alia and sleep with her, I really would spend the whole night worryin' about Jess.

We try to get some sleep. I end up lying awake for some time, thinking Red might come, but he never does show up. False alarm after all. Fucking Jules.

Still good to know he's got our back. I knock back a few drinks, tell security to still give me a call if he shows up, and get to bed. Still a bed for one, but at least Jess keeps it warm.
No. 470796 ID: c4e5c2
File 135267776268.png - (10.86KB , 700x700 , 472.png )

Next day at the office, Lamarra comes up to me. Wants me to count the gold all of a sudden. Not liking how he's asking that. He does tell me that it's all I gotta do today, Jess has been doing so much work on the data sheets, it'll get done in good time, so she can get off a lot of the day early as well. We might just be able to work with this manager after all, instead of working him over.

Almost afraid to turn the door, still.
No. 470797 ID: c4e5c2
File 135267777588.png - (9.00KB , 700x700 , 473.png )

... it's all there. Fucking glad I brought my booze today. My nerves are all over the place.

Goddamn, again, ain't even my responsibility to look after the gold, shit'll only come up if I count it up right, then another counter counts some missing.

Fuck, can't believe those assholes in security last night. Don't trust 'em like I should. Thinkin' I should get a 3rd party to change the lock on that door, cause I don't like the idea of those asses having copies of my lock. Ain't supposed to change that, but I got Zozu privileges in that building, so all they can do is slap me on the wrist.
No. 470798 ID: c4e5c2
File 135267778478.png - (14.74KB , 700x700 , 474.png )

After the short workload, I talk to Jules and Lamarra 'bout getting a tracker on Red's bio armor.

"Dunno. We would if we could, but none of us know how to work a bio armor, so we wouldn't be able to stick something on him that didn't look like a tracker."
>"I'd need Maklata's permission anyway. I'll ask about it, but it can't happen immediately. Maybe a day or two, I don't know, Maklata's been pretty busy elsewhere."
No. 470801 ID: 251fc8

Apologize for getting them into this shit, but with that shit Red almost pulled it's got your nerves up that he might be dumb enough to actually try something, and that you would rather not kill a family member, no matter the bad blood.
No. 470802 ID: e3f578

If his pet psychopath is going to work here, he needs to be tracked at all times. He's near far too many women coworkers and he ain't too prejudiced to satisfy his urges with any of the other ladies here.

Jules is a lady right? I think he/she's got eyelashes. I dunno, his/her race look very feminine.
No. 470803 ID: f2c20c

Just knowing where he is after-hours would make him a lot less of a problem. It would also be good for catching him doing something he's not supposed to be doing, so we can get him gone.

I feel like he was left here as some kind of twisted experiment. Like, to see how well the family can handle internal threats. Or maybe he was left here to fuck things up and make Ziril's new manager look bad. Hang on, shouldn't we only need permission from Ziril, not Maklata?
No. 470806 ID: b33427

Well, if they can't stick a tracker on his bio armor right away, how about tracking him by his phone/communicator for now? Zozu owns and runs the telecoms system here, don't they? Put in a program to triangulate his position by what network nodes his phone is attached to. Security could even get the software in his phone changed out so they can remotely and silently activate the microphone to listen in and record. Either of these may be going too far by the Family's rules, written or unwritten, but you've got to do something.
No. 470808 ID: 70c0f2

...what are the odds the Zozu already have some kind of tracker on the bio-armor? Or that they built in a kill switch? Seems the kind of pragmatic thing a nasty leader might do with a potentially rabid dog. If anything is already there, it's not so much a matter of messing with his suit as finding out how to tap into the remote access.

>secure door
...how much easier would it be for him to come in through the wall? Even if the walls adjoining the door are tough, I bet busting in from the next apartment wouldn't be too hard. And the other occupants don't have the same motivation to keep him out that you do.

Next time Jess gets depressed about her reaction, patheti-ness, etc, reply that you'd hardly be in a good place yourself if someone like that wanted your ass.
No. 470811 ID: 251fc8

While the rampant paranoia in case Red does shit is really good, I think we should cool it a bit, otherwise Itchy here will develop schizophrenia in record time.
No. 470814 ID: c4e5c2
File 135268010530.png - (8.56KB , 700x700 , 475.png )

>Jules is a girl, right?
No, he's a guy. I... man, I hope so, I've been calling him a dude for as long as I've known him. They all kinda have that eyelash look going on, so it's pretty hard to tell if it's a flat girl or a guy.

"Can't you get permission from Ziril?"
>"Sorry, Red's one of Maklata's boys. Makalata and Ziril have equal influence here, even if I'm one of Ziril's."
"How about tapping his phone, or rather just trackin' it?"
>"I'll see about that, but I'm not just going to go right under Ziril and Maklata. I'm the manager, not the dictator. I've got rules too. Sorry, he bugs me too, and I can probably do something in the matter of a couple days, just hang it out till then. Take the day off, alright? You're worked up to high hell. We'll let you know when Red leaves, today, if you want, but I want you to keep your mind off this shit as much as you can. I gotta talk to Jules about tomorrow, it'll probably be a busy day for us tomorrow."
"What's tomorrow?"
>"Nevermind that, sec stuff. You just got your datasheets to worry about."
No. 470816 ID: 70c0f2

Yeah, alright. Thank them for doing what they can, and get to work. Tomorrow being busy is sort of a good thing- means Red will be busy too.

Might as well get to work, and daydream about possible plans of action or 'accidents' you could cause. Just in case.
No. 470817 ID: f2c20c

Alright, screw it. Sort out what Jess is gonna do today, then call your ladyfriend and tell her you've got some free time today.
No. 470818 ID: b59bfb

You could just Ask Jules his gender...
Let's hang around the office and help Jess with stuff.
No. 470820 ID: b33427

Lamarra's right. Being paranoid about what Red might do is winding you up to a dangerous degree. At this rate you're going to end up doing something that'll get you in trouble before Red does something to get in trouble. You do still want that phone call when Red leaves, though.

Go help Jess, then knock off early when the work runs out. Call up Alia and meet for some fun. Maybe she has something mild left over in her inventory to help calm your nerves. There something like marijuana on the 'Roid?
No. 470824 ID: c4e5c2
File 135268160552.png - (24.31KB , 700x700 , 476.png )

>Ask Jules his gender
Eh, think he woulda said something by now if he was a girl. Too awkward now.

I do hang around the office and help Jess with some of the office work before I bring her to my place again.

>"This isn't the route to your place, is it?"
"Makin' a stop at a friend of mine. He's a locksmith, an' knows how to change the lock on my door in the matter of minutes. That sec crew probably won't even notice someone fiddlin' with the lock."
>"Something up with the current one?"
"Yeah, that same security has a copy, and who knows what red would do. The deadbolt is damn strong, but I wouldn't bet your ass on it."
>"Not to say I mind, but you're getting more and more paranoid here."
No. 470825 ID: 251fc8

Pull the car over, take a deep, DEEP calming breath.

You've been under stress from the previous workload, stress from the work itself, stress from having a very high-ranking dude as your direct superior, stress from having to keep his pet psychopath on a leash.

Just take a moment to breathe.

Then apologize to Jess for getting worked up because of the stress.
No. 470826 ID: 425b9d

sometimes paranoia can be correct, still if possible keep the lockchanging thing discreet
No. 470829 ID: 70c0f2

...I guess I am. Kind of the problem with playing defense. You have to think of everything in advance.
No. 470830 ID: f2c20c

It's not paranoia if you know that someone's out to get you. What we're being is overly cautious, at least in this case. I mean, Red could beat up the security guys to get at the key.

On the other hand maybe he'd just go through the window and changing the lock would make it way harder for security to come to Jess's aid. Maybe it's not even a good idea.
No. 470833 ID: b33427

With Red it's more of a precautionary measure than paranoia. You know he'll normally stay in line with the threat of Family retribution over him, but what if he gets loaded on booze or drugs? Or thinks he has nothing to lose, for some reason? So you're going to take extra measures now, and rest easy later, once he has a tracker on him.

Those lazy bums wouldn't go up against a Zozu member, let alone a blood-crazed neumono in 80% bio armor. They'd just call the Zozu office and have Zozu security handle him.
No. 470835 ID: c4e5c2
File 135268369057.png - (34.34KB , 700x700 , 477.png )

>Going through the windows
The windows can be shut like a ship's airlock. And there's no key or lock on the outside.

I slow down a bit, breathe easier.

"Sorry, Jess. Not tryin' to get too worked up, but lemme at least do this one. Not gonna forgive myself if Red's just gonna be able to walk on through the door to you while I'm off schmoozing my girl."

So I work some deal and have a door locked, heading off to Alia. We go and watch a movie, talk some more. Not much, but I enjoy talkin' to her enough, she's real nice at holding a conversation.
No. 470837 ID: 251fc8

Does he mean off work tomorrow, or off the job entirely?
No. 470839 ID: 425b9d

this... raises all kinds of red-flags.... for all we know this request could of been coerced....
No. 470840 ID: c4e5c2
File 135268412370.png - (9.82KB , 700x700 , 478.png )

I end up back in her hotel, and I get another call pretty late at night. This time from Lamara. Figure I can answer it.

"Hey. I'm with company right now, this important?"
>"I was just thinking, the datasheets are pretty good from what I see. I'm thinking Jess'll still have to come in, but other than you picking her up and all that, you can take tomorrow off. Get some shuteye, come back the day after tomorrow."
No. 470841 ID: 997ce7


Okay, I can think of many reasons why this is happening, such as:

Red is bullying him into keeping you away from work and making Jess more vulnerable. But what with the whole Family thing, she should be safe(ish) at work, if not off duty. Red has been getting uppity, though.

Something to do with the gold. Maklata's finally making his move, and Red is about to steal it or some shit. I can't think of an actual plausible scenario for this with what we know, so probably not. Of course, Maklata could have hid it so well we have no way of knowing, but if he did we're screwed anyway, no use worrying futilely.

The datasheets are really that easy. Maybe, but you have other jobs- counting the gold, which seems important, given that there are multiple, and collecting taxes, which I admit shouldn't be for a while yet.

The best thing that I can think of is to casually ask about how Red is or some such to gauge Lamara's reaction, and work from there.
No. 470842 ID: 70c0f2

What happened to tomorrow being busy?

You can still kick around the office, even if they don't particularly need you. I mean, you should either be working with Red, or near Jess. Leave either of the alone too long and you give him a chance. So check on the gold, look over your books, whatever. Try and come up with a sensible plan to deal with Red while you're at it.
No. 470843 ID: f2c20c

Oh, tomorrow? Sounds groovy.

You realize they are doing something dangerous and cutting you out of it, right? Probably something related to the gold, since they had you count it. Joke with him about setting you up as a fall guy, but in the end just wish him luck with whatever it is they're doing without you.
No. 470844 ID: b59bfb

Tell him unless she get's the day too you're going to have to come in anyways.
No. 470845 ID: c4e5c2
File 135268495906.png - (10.39KB , 700x700 , 479.png )

"Ah, yeah? How's red doing, by the way?"
>"Still slumming and sliming it up, but I'm telling you to try to go half an hour without thinking about him."
"Didn't you say tomorrow was busy?"
>"Yeah, for me and security. It's why I told you to not worry about it, datasheets are fine."
"Yeah, well Jess has had a real tough time too. Probably worse than me. How about she gets the day off too?"
>"... no can do, sorry. I'll give her a day off once we can keep an eye on Red, but right now I'm politely telling you to get your mind off work, while Jess could stand to do the opposite. What's she even doing in your room all day, besides worrying about Red?"
No. 470847 ID: 70c0f2

>What's she even doing in your room all day, besides worrying about Red?
Dunno. Sleeping, eating, watching television? What does anyone do when we're off shift in our rooms, anyways. They'll all basically the same.

We should wrap this call up, get back to what we were doing. We can worry about something going down tomorrow, tomorrow.
No. 470848 ID: 997ce7

"Dunno, I don't have cameras installed in my room for when I'm at work. Ask her if you want to know."
No. 470849 ID: f2c20c

I dunno, watching TV? Drinking? Uh. Not a very good host, are we.

Anyway, your girl's awake again. Tell him you'll try to take his advice, and end the call.
No. 470850 ID: b33427

"Donno. Sleeping, mostly? I don't have surveillance in my room, so you'll have to ask her."

Take your boss' advice and the day off. Put Red out of your head and enjoy the time with Alia.

If Alia asks or looks like she'd like to ask, say that Jess is a coworker who's temporarily rooming with you 'cause of a whack-job coworker making unwanted advances towards her.
No. 470851 ID: c4e5c2
File 135268605980.png - (10.10KB , 700x700 , 480.png )

"Dunno, I don't go spying on her. Probably TV or something."

Actually, I do have cameras in my room, but they're voice activated with a 'Platter cat kilo steel' mention. Think I'll mention that to Jessica actually, since I told her just about every other security bit in the room. Course, then again, if Red does get in, then a camera... well, better not think about that.

"But fine, I'll stay outta work tomorrow I guess."
>"Thanks." Lamarra says, before hanging up.

"Maybe. Don't worry about it."
>"I can't help it, but, will I be able to see you tomorrow? I won't be leaving till night, still."
No. 470852 ID: f2c20c

Sure. Not doing anything else, of course. We'll give her all our time, for a great last day.
No. 470853 ID: b59bfb

No. 470854 ID: 997ce7

Yeah, pretty much.

Also, might want to call Jessica and tell her about the cameras, though that might make her think you've been spying on her.

Which you maybe should have been.
No. 470855 ID: b33427

Hug her. "Yeah. You've got me the whole day, babe." Then head to bed again.

As much of a disgusting thought it is to capture on video what happens if Red gets to Jessica, it would be incontrovertible proof against him.
No. 470856 ID: 70c0f2

Well, realistically, if you've been kicked out of work for the day, you can't do anything extra to help Jess without really going out of your way and sicking your neck out. And you don't have any direct indication that she's at higher risk, and at least she works in a room with cameras, and Jules is looking out for her.

So yeah, barring a vast conspiracy, or Red completely losing it, she should be fine. So yeah. Enjoy your temporary girlfriend, and try to forget about it for a little while.

When you bring her in tomorrow, tell Jess she can call if anything comes up, though.
No. 470857 ID: f2c20c

I disagree. Let's not tell her.

I guess we could look at the footage (on fastforward since seriously we're not expecting anything) if we're feeling bored and paranoid and disrespectful.
No. 470858 ID: 997ce7

Yeah, I don't think we should tell her either.

And I don't think Jessica is a probable suspect, I was saying that we should have had the cameras on just in case Red did manage to break in through the ceiling or floor or some shit and we needed proof.

And given the context, I think his mentioning the voice-activation thing and never having seen him say that means they haven't been on for some time.
No. 470859 ID: c4e5c2
File 135268804037.png - (10.81KB , 700x700 , 481.png )

"Course I'll be around tomorrow. Hell, just about all of it, cept for picking up and dropping off my co worker a couple times."
>"Then I'm happy."
"But I suppose I should be heading off, then."
>"Mhm, let's make tomorrow count. Goodnight."

I head back after some more hugs an' kisses, and manage to get back in my room and in bed without waking Jessica.

Alarm goes off at 6 like it always does, but 6:02 I'm not getting a call for some shit for the first time in as long as I can remember. Knew it'd happen, or rather, not happen, someday.

I don't tell Jess about the cameras, but I turn them on. They'll be keepin' footage kept in my safe. Already dubious doin' such a thing, but I won't look at them if I don't get any reason to.
No. 470861 ID: c4e5c2
File 135268810018.png - (18.97KB , 700x700 , 482.png )

I drive off to drop Jessica to work, telling her to call me if anything comes up. I spend some good time in the morning with Alia. Come around 2 PM though, I get a call from Jess.

Says she was gettin' jealous of my day off, and she wanted to get some sleep to finally catch up after the last week. Fair enough, I say, so I make the half hour drive and wait for her outside.

"Hey. Red give you any trouble?"
>"Yeah, some. Pretty goddamn pushy actually for awhile, but he eventually backed off after a little while and let it stay that way. But geez, you've got a stupid grin on. Good day I take it."
No. 470862 ID: f2c20c

Yep. Ask her if she's allowed to talk about whatever's going on that you're being kept out of.
No. 470863 ID: 70c0f2

Nose to ear rub!

>Good day I take it.
Hey, it's not every day I get an inexplicable day off from work to hang with a girl who likes me. I'm enjoying the chance of pace from the usual bullshit.
No. 470865 ID: 997ce7


Also, she seems to be pretty happy too. Somehow I doubt it's because of Red.
No. 470866 ID: b33427

"The best day, for as long as I can remember. Wish I'd last forever."

That's a good sign from Red. Maybe the slimy punk is finally learning.

Casually ask Jess what Lamarra and the security staff are doing today that totally didn't need you around.
No. 470867 ID: c4e5c2
File 135268897178.png - (10.97KB , 700x700 , 483.png )

"Hey, I'm not used to the change from the usual bullshit Best damn day I've had in... ever. So get me back in the loop. What's goin' on that I've been out of the loop for."
>"Fuck, I look like someone who starts prying around? Lamarra's barely even been around today far as I can tell, been off in the basement looking at something or another. None o' my business. Least there was still enough people around to get Red to not fuck around."
"You're looking pretty chip, yourself."
>"Yeah, cause I actually am getting off early. Start driving, I'm still fuckin' tired. Gotta finally get my sleep to catch up for the cascade of shit the last week."
No. 470869 ID: 70c0f2

Right, go home, let her crash and get her beauty sleep while you enjoy what's left of your last day with Alia.
No. 470870 ID: 997ce7

I don't really have much to add besides don't forget the tazer.

Also, should we activate the cameras? Red might only be behaving well at work because he's planning something after work.
No. 470871 ID: c4e5c2
File 135268982460.png - (13.35KB , 700x700 , 484.png )

>Also, should we activate the cameras?
Already did this morning.

>Don't forget the tazer
Yep. I still have mine, Jess still has hers.

Must say it's tempting to abuse my car's ambulance mode again to rush this up, but I resist and simply make sure Jessica's nice and secure in my room, letting her know to deadbolt it, cause my paranoia's actin' up, since Red may have been behavin' TOO well at work.

So I go back to Alia, and make the damn best of the day.
No. 470872 ID: c4e5c2
File 135268985260.png - (13.39KB , 700x700 , 485.png )

Or try to. Come around 6 PM, a painstakingly short time away, Alia's phone rings and she jumps up.

>"Oh, shoot. Sorry, dear, but I've got to take that one."
No. 470874 ID: c4e5c2
File 135268989976.png - (10.51KB , 700x700 , 486.png )

She steps into the bathroom for a moment. Can't blame her, I did the same thing with Jules.

But she comes back in, looking pretty forlorn.

>"I'm sorry, it looks like business is intercepting me, here. There's one last bit of loose end I've got to do. Knowing you, you're probably worrying yourself silly about your friend. Go check in on her. But do give me a call when you get home, I'll still have my phone on, and we'll see if we can meet again in case the call I just got is a short little thing."
No. 470875 ID: f2c20c

"Drug emergency?"

Say that we're not that worried, really. Security's pretty tight at our place now. We'll go though, if she really has shit to do.
No. 470876 ID: 251fc8

Give her a hug goodbye, tell her she's the best thing you've had in a long while, and not to do anything stupid.

Even though she's leaving, you'd like to see her again even after this.

Now get your ass home and spend the day getting sloshed with Jess / crashing.
No. 470877 ID: e3f578

Did you tell her that your roommate was a girl and at least that she's having security and safety problems? Cause all I recall is saying that you have a roommate.
No. 470878 ID: 70c0f2

Yeah, I understand. You gonna be all right? Nothing serious?

Let's try not to wake Jess, this time.
No. 470879 ID: f2c20c

We didn't say she was a girl, but...
>"Gotta be frank, I've been hiding a friend of mine at my place. Dangerous business and all that, but that won't leave much room for privacy. Mind going to your place?"

She could just be assuming it's a female friend. It's a 50/50 chance she'd be getting it right!
No. 470880 ID: b59bfb

So if she's moving any distance, then why is there any reason we can't go to the new place she goes? I mean she musn't go that far, and you can make most drives. I see no reason we can't see her after she moves, shes a hot piece of ass man, try to keep with her.
No. 470881 ID: f2c20c

Oh, also, she overheard this:
>"Yeah, well Jess has had a real tough time too. Probably worse than me. How about she gets the day off too?"

So she probably put two and two together.
No. 470882 ID: 997ce7

Why would she bother to think about it, though?

I'm tempted to taze her right now, but that'd be too obvious.

Do you think you can manage to spy on her somehow?
No. 470883 ID: 70c0f2

Itcher's had a lot of conversations with Alia where the exact content of the discussion wasn't specified. Presumably Jess could have come up somewhere in that. Even if he didn't say explicitly she was the one crashing at our place, she is pretty much the only friend he has. Not hard to put together.

...has anyone else noticed Alia is pretty much the exact color of black raspberry ice cream?
No. 470884 ID: b33427

Tell Alia that if you can't get together again today, you hope someday your paths will cross again. Sooner rather than later. Give her a goodbye hug and kiss, and take off.

Now, if you have any suspicions about Alia, you could tail her, and see what this last minute thing is she has to do. Not like Jess is in immediate danger or anything.
No. 470891 ID: c4e5c2
File 135269191506.png - (10.87KB , 700x700 , 487.png )

>Did you tell her that your roommate was a girl and at least that she's having security and safety problems?
Hm... didn't explicitly say so, but I did let a bit slip, sayin' I had a friend hiding away. Dunno why she'd care, nor why she'd tell me what she just did if she knew. Anyway, I got her number, I may use some irreputable sources to track her phone, if what she's saying about calling her is true.

"Drug emergency? But seriously, you'll be fine, right?"
>"Oh, yes, it's no dangerous thing, but I have to take care of it.
"You're the best thing I've had in a... no, in ever. I'm hoping to see you again sometime."
>"Maybe. If not again tonight, then sometime, I'm sure we'll meet once again. Till then, we both should be off. Goodbye, Itcher."
"See ya..."

So I head back. Doesn't feel like I a good trip back, but there I go. Maybe I will try to move with her, if I meet her again. I just can't up and pack my bags right now, no matter how much I'd like to. Zozu's don't just move away.
No. 470892 ID: c4e5c2
File 135269192610.png - (12.90KB , 700x700 , 488.png )

Paranoia wants me to tail Alia, but I'm still paranoid about Jessica, too. Can't go to two places at once, and I don't want to think of if Alia's fucking me figuratively.

Think I'll open up some good bottle with Jess.
No. 470893 ID: c4e5c2
File 135269194522.png - (17.20KB , 700x700 , 489.png )

The... fuck...
No. 470894 ID: 251fc8


Little freak didn't even wear his clothes over it like usual.

Fucking fry his ass, get those bums up here, fucking wake Jess up.

Turn him into a smoking ball of fried freak.
No. 470895 ID: f2c20c

We can't take him in that bioarmor. Call security to back you up. With some good guns shooting at him he's toast in that long hallway.
No. 470896 ID: b59bfb

That's it. Taze this fucker.
No. 470897 ID: f2c20c

Alternatively, let him break in and follow him very quietly in to taze the fuck out of him while he's occupied trying to get at Jess.
No. 470898 ID: bbee3d

I'm guessing this officially counts as crossing the line? This might be a good time to call someone at the office, or at least get your phone out and to a point where you could call with the press of a button.

If the tazer works through bio armor, use it.

If not, don't get too close to Red - that bio armor is weapon enough even if he isn't otherwise armed - but let him know you're there. Also let him know that you've got cameras running, and maybe let it slip that the footage won't be released if you stay alive to erase it, just so he doesn't get any ideas.
No. 470899 ID: 735f4f

Be very careful. Boasting aside even out of that bio armor I don't think we could take him. Call Jess and let her know whats happening and get a hold of security. Don't make a move on him unless we have to.
No. 470900 ID: 04b86a

Call Jess and tell her to grab her tazer.
No. 470901 ID: f2c20c

...wait, he's trying to pick the lock, but does that operate the deadbolt? Can he even get in like that? Don't charge in and get your ass kicked if he has no chance of getting through the door.
No. 470903 ID: b33427

...Oh, that little shit. You're going to make him eat his own balls for this. And then you're kick the ass of building security for not calling you the second Red showed up.

Back up into the stairwell and call Jess to warn her. If she knows, she can step to the side of the door, and stick the tazer in Red's ear when he steps through.

Get Zozu security on the phone and tell them what the fuck is going on here, and to get some fuckin' heavy hitters over here to take Red down.

Wait for him to pop the door before making a move. That way he'll be on camera, and you'll have proof. Then you can sneak up and stick a tazer in his ear, assuming Jess hasn't already.
No. 470904 ID: 251fc8

Yeah, call Jess, tell her to get ready in case he does get in, IF he does get in the both of you will turn him into a lump of overly cooked neumono.

That is, in case he wasn't actually lying about sensing others and he picks up her emotions.
No. 470907 ID: 70c0f2

Huh. He's using a subtle entry, not brute force.

Call it in, first. Than we deal with him. I don't think it's worth using words- we need to hurt him.

Not sure if a taser works though bio armor. They're monstly made to deal with bullets and lasers. Weakest points are the visor and around the groin.

Tase him in the ear or tail to disable him, then unload your handgun into his visor / head, and into his groin. That's where it'll hurt the most.
No. 470908 ID: b33427

Aw, dangit. That means if you want to get this on video as proof, you can't call to warn Jess. Red'll know the second you tell her.

Alright. You figure he'll have to take the bio armor off if he's going to rape her. That stuff is all one piece, so he'll have to peel it off from the top down. That'll give you an opening to taze him in the back. Assuming Jess hasn't already 'cause she's sleeping with the tazer in her hand.
No. 470909 ID: 251fc8


I think Bioarmor has a slit in that area, as it would be a horrible design that would require the wearer of a piece of equipment, equipment that HURTS like a motherfucker when you put it on and take it off, to perform basic biological functions.

That just makes me want the fry fucker even more, considering that Bioarmor boosts strength and Red is a fucking savage.
No. 470910 ID: f2c20c

Oh shit, you're right. If we warn Jess, he'll pick up on that. We'll lose the element of surprise. So, I'm thinking:
1) Call security, from out of earshot.
2) Wait and watch for him to go in and follow him if security doesn't get here first.
3) Try to team up on him with Jess, or just try to taze him if the two get in a struggle. Alternatively, team up with Security.
No. 470911 ID: b33427

Yeah, bio armor almost certainly has flaps and such installed in certain locations to accommodate basic biological functions. It'd be a bitch if it had to be peeled off every time the wearer had to take a dump or leak.
No. 470912 ID: 997ce7

Taze the fucker. I doubt bioarmor can protect against that. It's made of conductive metal, and it hasn't stopped stabbing, and it can't stop his blood being a conductor. Plus I doubt it can prevent his nervous system being fried.
No. 470914 ID: b59bfb

Well I would think that BioArmor uses the neuro-system heavily for enhancement, using the tazzer on him while he has the bio armor on would probably hurt him even more than normal.
No. 470915 ID: 70c0f2

Regarding bio-armor and his need to remove it, or not:
>The armor was weakest at the orifices, where they were made to be as least intrusive as possible, such that the user may easily perform body functions

He won't have to take it off.
No. 470918 ID: c4e5c2
File 135269396273.png - (14.41KB , 700x700 , 490.png )

>Bio armor is all one piece, he'll have to take it top down
Not quite. The head can be unraveled easier for sake of being able to eat, and the groin as well for pissing. Or at least that's in intent, right now that's going to be a goddamn fuck flap. Fucking hear that 80% bio armor ain't bad at absorbing shock. Since shock is a bigass weakness to neumono, there's been a shitton of research to at least helping somewhat against electricity.

>Make calls
Alright, alright. Much as I want to taze the fucker, I should make some calls first. There shoulda been some hefty noise to wake Jess up with that much activity, but I should call to make sure, first off. I head downstairs a bit to make sure I'm outta earshot.

>"Jessica. Leave a message."
The fuck! She let her phone die, or turned it off?! I'll just call my room number, goddamn.

...We're sorry, the phone number you have dialed appears to be disconnected.

..... the fucking office, then!
Ring.... ring.... There is currently a heavy load of incoming calls. Please hold. That... that never fucking happens! We barely get any fucking calls this time of night, let alone enough to activate the hold feature!

The goddamn building security!
Ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring No one's fucking answering at all?!

The deadbolt is only gonna hold him off for so fucking long! I'd almost wait for him to try, but trying to fire a tazer at two people and trying to hit one is ripe for all sorts of shitty mistakes, and I don't know if Jess can handle this kind of tazer. It'd be straight out lethal for me, no question. Still, might need to run out there and goddamn hope the weapons dealer gave me the best fucking tazer this side of the galaxy and that that bio armor didn't make any stupid fucking huge advancements in anti tazing.
No. 470919 ID: 886a4d

Alright, one phone being dead is coincidence? 3 he fucking planned this out. Get in there and taze the fucker. You can bet he also disabled the cameras if he's gone that far to disable the phones.
No. 470921 ID: 251fc8

Heaven or Hell Itcher, whatever shattered or broken bones this probably will end up with you having, they would still be a hell of a lot less than what he would do to her, even if he didn't have that goddamn bioarmor on.
No. 470922 ID: 997ce7

Do you have to get in there? Most tazers can and will launch from a range.
No. 470923 ID: 8b9215

Tase, scream for Jess to wake up and tase too. If she didn't ask him over, kill him.
No. 470924 ID: f2c20c

He fucking sabotaged all the phones so she couldn't call for help, and that's screwing you over too. This guy REALLY wants to rape her, holy crap.

I guess we gotta taze him and hope to hell that it works. Don't yell anything beforehand. Just hit him with a surprise shock, THEN start yelling at him about how much of a scum-sucking little piece of trash he is and how he's fucking dead. DEAD!
No. 470925 ID: 251fc8


If she asked him over he wouldn't be dicking around with the lock.

The lock that we changed so security wouldn't have a copy.
No. 470926 ID: 8b9215

If you can, peel bioarmor off the face and gouge out his eyes. But tase is primary.
No. 470928 ID: 70c0f2

He disabled communications, and/or he caused a distraction to keep security busy and get people to overwhelm the call line.

Tase him in his tail, or ears. They're unarmored, and the current will conduct to the rest of him. He might be tough enough that this doesn't shut him down- use your gun to shoot him in the face and/or groin. Those are out of necessity the weakest part of the armor. Additionally, those places are sensory nerve bundles. The key to shutting down a tough neumono is to give them too much pain to function.

And then keep shooting till they die.

I hope your handgun has a good sized clip.
No. 470929 ID: b33427

...The fuck...? Jess' phone dying is a unfortunate, and you letting your room phone service lapse is your fault, but the other two, that's no coincidence. Red fuckin' planned this.

Make one last call, this time to whatever ambulance service Zozu uses. If this goes wrong, and there's a high chance of that, you're going to badly need it. Direct them to your room number.

You know what? Fuck the tazer. You're going for your gun first. You've got a clear shot on his visor, and time to steady your aim. You can squeeze off two shots to his eyes before his shitty neumono reflexes can react. Then drop back around the corner, switch to the tazer, and open up with that.
No. 470930 ID: 72f4a3

Don't panic, he hasn't seen you and that lock should keep him stalled for a while. Play your hand meticulously. Call the boss-man, either or both if you can. Let him know how unprofessional his subordinate is being, and ask for some advice or help.
No. 470931 ID: 997ce7

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha no. We're not going to sit around and wait for some help that may or may not come. First, Red got the resources to distract everyone, he easily has the resources to screw the lock. Second, there's no guarantee that he'll fail to notice us indefinitely.
No. 470933 ID: b33427

Well, it's a little late for a stern talking to, but you can still try calling Lamarra's mobile directly. Or Jules', if you don't know Lamarra's number. ...Actually, skip Lamarra and go directly to Jules.
No. 470934 ID: 72f4a3

Well it was more of a "Hey Red, fuck off or the Big man will know if something happens to me." Not like we should rely on Itcher's ability to take out Red+80%armor.
No. 470937 ID: 70c0f2

Crazy thought, guys. Our objective here isn't to take down Red. It's to stop the rape.

Killing his equipment is a lot easier than killing him.
No. 470938 ID: 251fc8


He's a Neumono, it'll regenerate unless it's capped off, even then he can probably remove the cap and let it grow back.

Killing his equipment will stop it NOW yeah, but it's not a guarantee.

Even then, Red's a fucking savage, it's probably less about getting his dick wet and more about the pain and damage it would do to her, and he doesn't need his dick for that.
No. 470939 ID: b33427

Yeah, it'd be much better to interrupt Red's lock picking and get him chasing after Itcher. Maybe Itcher can get to his car, then run Red over in the parking garage. Let's see that bio armor handle getting smacked by a ton of metal going 30 kph.

Also, if Itcher can double back to this apartment door, he could shoot the deadbolt. That'd make it impossible to open with lockpicking or a key. It'd have to be forced.
No. 470940 ID: b59bfb

OO OO How about we taze him, then while he is discombobulated you can shoot him several times! Well as many bullets as a clip holds.
No. 470941 ID: f2c20c

HEY, I have an idea. Call your girlfriend! She has connections, she can get you some help. Plus if you tell her your camera code she can tell your boss so they can get the evidence, in case you fail.
No. 470942 ID: c4e5c2
File 135269792779.png - (9.19KB , 700x700 , 491.png )

Don't know how he's have disabled the damn security lines. All that is contained to my own damn room, at least the phone lines have an external wire someplace.

>You letting your room phone service lapse is your fault
Didn't do a fucking thing, phone line is included in the rent.

>Call normal Zozu territory emergency services
Of course!

Ring... ring...
"Itcher Zozu, building B-35, rape immement!"
>"I will redirect your call to your building securi-"
"The building security is fucking AWOL, send what you can! Got a goddamn bio armored neumono over here!"
>"Yes, sir, but it will be around 10 minutes."

Fucking hell. That's too long. I'm going out. Red hasn't gotten to the deadbolt yet, so one more for good measure. Gonna call Lamarra directly.

"Ring... ring...."
>"Itcher?! The fuck is it?!"
"Jessica! Red's trying to bust my fucking door down and rape Jessica!"
>"...god... fucking..."
"Don't just cuss at m-"
>"The gold's fucking gone, man! Where the fuck were you even?! Thought you'd have stayed late tonight!"
"You told me to fuckin' take the day off! Didn't even give me a choice!"
>"The shit are you on about?! The datasheets ain't that close to being done, and fucking Jessica left early at that! Goddamn let her ge-" I hang up, ain't gonna fucking let him finish that sentence!

I don't have the goddamn time to worry about what the fuck that's about anyway!
No. 470943 ID: c4e5c2
File 135269796609.png - (16.76KB , 700x700 , 492.png )

Just a bit closer, and.... got him in the ear!
"Fall down you fucker!"
No. 470944 ID: c4e5c2
File 135269797692.png - (14.71KB , 700x700 , 493.png )

>"Itcher?!" I hear Jessica's panicked voice behind the door. She's awake after all!


Fucking hell, trying to shoot left handed so I don't give him an ounce of respite trying to switch the tazer to my left!
No. 470945 ID: c4e5c2
File 135269798726.png - (18.54KB , 700x700 , 494.png )

The door swings open, and Red damn well nearly makes it in to my room, but Jess makes him stumble back with a second tazer shot.

Still not god damn falling! We start shooting the shit out of him.
No. 470946 ID: c4e5c2
File 135269800791.png - (14.17KB , 700x700 , 495.png )

And he manages to take off, half crawling, but still pretty fucking fast considering he should be cooking!

In fact.. fuck me, he is cooking, we lit him on fire! The fuck kind of bio armor is that?! He still manages to wrench a wire off him, and we're pretty much out of ammo.
No. 470948 ID: f2c20c

Half crawling? Get after him with Jess and tear the armor off him. Removing bio armor is a very painful process if you aren't used to it. It'll incapacitate him, then you can just execute him.
No. 470949 ID: b59bfb

Reload and keep going, walk with him too so that he won't be able to get around the corner and recuperate.
No. 470950 ID: 886a4d

.... Theres no way this was entirely Red's doing. You and Jess were just set up. Someone managed to do a voice-simulation of your managers voice. Disable all those phone lines. And all to create an opening to steal that gold.

First things first. Chase that fucker down. He doesn't escape.
No. 470951 ID: 70c0f2

>The gold
Alright, so that call you received yesterday was a fake. And then you were distracted all day today instead of being tempted to go in anyways. And then, right before shit gets bad, your girlfriend gets a call and disappears. And you got the call in her room.

I hate to say I told you so... but she was in on it.

We'll deal with that after we're done killing Red, though.

You got more ammo or another gun in your room? A grenade, anything? If so, Jess should grab it. Fuck, he's on fire. Throw a bottle of booze or few at him so he burns some more.

Don't close to melee. Yes, taking off bio armor hurts, but he's much stronger than you, even hurt.
No. 470952 ID: 8b9215

Use everything you've got then go into grapple. You work on restraining his arms (headlock or something). She strangles him. Hold his windpipe shut till people arrive or you fall asleep from exhaustion after 15 hours of strangling him.
No. 470953 ID: 251fc8


Shit man, at this point I'm not even above thinking Jess was involved in fucking us over.

I wouldn't believe it of course, but shit's gone to hell and back, and I'm not so sure it's just a fake voice, he, or someone that looks exactly like him, told us that he and security would be doing shit today.
No. 470954 ID: 72f4a3

Give the shit the old curbstomp
No. 470958 ID: f2c20c

When the bio armored security neumono gets here, we can have him watch the two of them while we check the camera feed. It should show us if Jess is innocent or not.

...we probably SHOULD try to take Red alive though, he is surely involved in the theft somehow.
No. 470959 ID: c4e5c2
File 135269917835.png - (8.13KB , 1000x329 , 496.png )

>Chase him
Fuck all, he gets my tazer out of his ear, and Jessica isn't trying to shoot him again. Don't blame her for being careful about my tazer. He runs fast as hell now, and I try and shoot him again, but he manages to leap out the fucking window of all things! Couldn't use my firearm, can't reload with one hand, with my other on the tazer.

We're only on the 3rd floor, too. That should fucking break his leg, but apparently double lethal tazers only got him to run!
No. 470961 ID: 08005b

I hope you like parkour because we're not done yet! After him!
No. 470962 ID: b6edd6

Follow him to the window to see where he goes, though you probably can't do much in the way of damaging him when he is that far away.
No. 470963 ID: 70c0f2

Well, he got away. Nothing you can fucking do about that, right now.

Regroup with Jess. Tell her about the gold, and ask her what the hell happened at work today. Was she mysteriously given time of too?

We need to decide if we're waiting for the security people to show up and hope to help clean this all up, or if we're running for our lives.
No. 470964 ID: f2c20c

Dammit. Get over there and look to see which way he went. Then wait for the security neumono. Once they arrive, get the guard to keep Jess from running away, and tell her to sit herself down while we review the footage to see if she stole the gold.

If she yells at you, tell her she should be glad you're this goddamn paranoid.
No. 470965 ID: 251fc8

Check on Jess, go grab the security tape from your vault to make sure she isn't another fucking trick.

Then get the fuck over to the office and get a god damn explanation.

Then realize that you did indeed, fall in love with a fucking honeytrap, and that your friend, or at least someone that looks pretty damn close to the Chief of Security, probably set you up.

Then cry.
No. 470966 ID: f2c20c

Whoa man, if we tell her we know the gold's stolen, and she's involved, she'll taze us. And that'll probably kill us.
No. 470968 ID: c6ec33

Do you have a stockpile of shit anywhere? Guns, armor, etc.? Did you ever get that body armor you were promised?

I suggest you suit up fully, and grab guns ASAP.

While you're doing that, explain to Jessica what's going on, and how apparently the gold is gone and either Lamarra is setting you up or someone fucked both of you over. At this point, you should trust no one but each other.

Don't trust Jessica 100% either, but at least she was fingered by Lamarra, so it sounds like you're in the same boat.
No. 470969 ID: b33427

Fuck! Okay. That's going to mess up his legs, so that's going to slow him down. Run to the window to see which way he's going, then sprint down to your car and drive after him. If you're lucky he'll be in the street and you can run him over.

Tell Jess to stay put when you pass her. Holster the tazer, and reload your pistol on the way down.
No. 470970 ID: 8b9215

Return to Jess. Rearm. Move to a different part of the building if it's more secure than where you are now. Hole up and wait for help to arrive. Make phone calls.
No. 470971 ID: 70c0f2

You know, one play when the security people interview us? Blame Red. Whatever shit was going down to steal the gold? It seems like there was a good chance he knew about it- since he was using it as cover for his goddamn rape attempt.
No. 470972 ID: f2c20c

Oh, in case you guys are having trouble being suspicious of Jess, remember that Red took the time to check his bio armor to make sure it wasn't screwing with his sensing of other neumono. He genuinely thought something might be wrong with it. C'mon, think about how he acted towards her.

Jess really WAS into him! She told Itchy she didn't like Red because she needed him to let her into his apartment, for some reason... Maybe she's storing the gold there?
No. 470974 ID: 251fc8


I doubt that, as she could have just unlocked the door and let him in.

But, that's what the video recording is for.
No. 470976 ID: 70c0f2

Actually, it's worth noting the voice that gave us false directions was suspicious of Jess- and asking what she was doing in our apartment all day.

If Jess was in on it, her accomplices wouldn't have mentioned her.
No. 470979 ID: c4e5c2
File 135270174826.png - (15.45KB , 700x700 , 497.png )

I take a look down, and he's already running. I can't pull out my car in time. Better go check on Jess. Dunno if I'll trust her, it ain't like I've got a neumono sense.

I go back to Jess, who's slumped down on the wall. Shit, me, I don't think she's a fucking fantastic actor, I ain't able to give a cross eye to that. Fuck it all, I'm too tired to be paranoid right now.

>"Fuck... all.." Goddamn, she's exhausted.
"The hell happened? How long was he out there for?"
>"Hours! He was out there since 3:30 or some shit! He finally started trying to bust past the lock normally! Where was security on that one?!"

This... fucking security team. They'd better have been killed trying to stop Red.

"Gold was stolen, by the way."
She doesn't have anything to say on that. Don't really care about hiding that from Jessica. If I get tazed for trusting her over this, then fuckall, that sounds like a pretty fitting way to go out of this world.

>Did you ever get that body armor you were promised?
Yeah. Didn't get the sense to wear it to a date, though.
No. 470980 ID: c4e5c2
File 135270179316.png - (14.40KB , 700x700 , 498.png )

Don't care much about her seeing me open the safe either. Not much in there except the security tape. I take that for safekeeping. Dunno if Jess knows what I took, but she sure didn't taze my backside. I'll take a look at it later.

Just a few minutes till emergency services show up.

"Hey, Jess... were you allowed to go off work early?"
>"Figured there wouldn't be much harm in it! Honestly, people were starting to clear out, and it was getting too damn empty in there, thought I was silly thinking Red would do sosmething there, but... holy shit, Itcher, it's not like I'm the last fucking neumono girl on the asteroid! The fuck did he want me so bad for?! He was out there for hours, whispering the shit he was going to do to me once he got through! He had his jammer off, too, I had to sit here listening to his mind if I tried to cover my ears! If you hadn't..."
"Shush, come here."

Right, right. Even if Alia had somethin' to do with this mess, if she didn't get that call to break things off when she did, then god damn. If Alia backstabbed me, then I'm fucking glad as all hell that she did.
No. 470982 ID: 8b9215

Rearm and wait. We'll sort this out first then call in to work and see what is up.
No. 470983 ID: 886a4d

Ya. I'm glad of that too. Alright nothing to do but wait for the security team to come for ya. Evidence will be the damage done to the door as well as whatever he did to the security of your building.

As for the gold. Well you weren't in that day. You are completely blameless and Jess is too. Whomever was covering the vault is at fault.
No. 470984 ID: 72f4a3

Help yourselves to a few shots of whiskey already.
No. 470986 ID: 251fc8

Well, guess there's nothing left to do but get to the office and make sense of this mess.

Either shit will go fine for you, aside from disciplinary shit, or you get executed.

God damn Itcher.

But for god's sake comfort her, you don't know if she can be trusted entirely right now but she is at least the last thing resembling a friend you have, you both fucking need it.
No. 470988 ID: c6ec33

Armor and guns. Now. If you have a secret stash of Big Guns, go get one for each of you.

Ask Jessica what happened to her phone.

Call Jules when you have a moment. See what the situation is there.

Oh, and tell Jess that Zozu security is on the way.
No. 470989 ID: c6ec33

... and don't drink any more. You both need to be at 100%, since shit is hitting the fan left and right here.
No. 470994 ID: c4e5c2
File 135270357399.png - (11.09KB , 700x700 , 499.png )

I rearm us. Keepin' several guns around this time. Help myself to some booze, too. Bottles of it. Fuck good judgement. Eh, I'll just take a shot or two, may as well not let myself go all the way. Jess gets her composure pretty damn quick. Her acting tough isn't all an act, so I think she'll be just fine, once she gets a breath of fresh mind air I guess is the term.

I explain the shit that just went down to emergency services when they show up. They say they'll try and find Red, but if he's Zozu attacking Zozu, then it's probably going to be Zozu business, not theirs. Fuckin useless again, but they'll report it to Zozu if they find him. Security is something they'll investigate, but I'm still keepin' a close eye on Jess, so I stick with her once emergency personnel leave.

"Hey. What happened to your phone?"
>"I think Red might've taken it from my bag while at work. He was harassing me enough till I left for a bit, then he stopped... goddamnit, how did I not notice until after I was here. And at that point I was too scared to go out anyway, and with good reason."
"Here, have some booze." Figure she needs it more than me.
>"Thanks, Itcher."
No. 470996 ID: c4e5c2
File 135270374681.png - (10.23KB , 700x700 , 500.png )

Next up is a call to the office. The phone's dead, so I step outta the room and call Jules.

"Hey, Itcher, before you say anything, Lamarra's the one with shit to say, so I'm putting him on. Not optional.
>"Hey, Itcher."
"Hey. What's going on?"
>"First off, is Jessica fine?!
".... yeah."
>"Fuck, good."
"Hey. Weren't you about to say, 'Let Jes-'"
>"Fuck, Itcher, of course not. You called right as we were panicking, of course I didn't mean to say that shit. She's a nice girl. Anyway, good that she's good, but that may not last for any of us. We got an appointment. Tonight, 9 PM."
"With who?"
>"Father Zozu."
>"You, Jessica, Jules, myself and Red. Deep shit."
"No shit."
>"Listen, there's more. Maklata wants us to show up at the office around 9 PM. I ain't afraid, whatever he can do would be foreplay to fucking Father Zozu. Think Jess is good to show up?"
"Maybe. Fuck, we gotta see Maklata?"
>"Maybe not, but I think it might be beneficial. Dunno, he had a weird tone of voice. Those Salikai get a funny little gutteral tinge a lot when shit did not go according to plan."
No. 470998 ID: 08005b

I have no idea why we have been paranoid to jess, she is, quite frankly, our best fucking friend. Hell she may be your soul mate after this if you don't die, so lay up on her suspicion, not her fault, be with her dude.
No. 470999 ID: 251fc8

Tell him that Red better be a fucking cripple, or you are liable to just fucking break family oath and kill him at first sight.
No. 471001 ID: b6edd6

(Was that a typo when he said that Maklata wanted to meet at 9:00, which is the same time Father Zozu wanted to meet? He is inplying the meeting with Makalata would happen beforehand.)
No. 471002 ID: 8b9215

"Jess can show up. So can I. If Red shows up, kill the fucker. Funny how the boss cut staffing, worked us to death, then gave us a day off right as the place was robbed. We'll track it down. Not much you can do with a pile of gold that big."
No. 471005 ID: f2c20c

Ask if they know around when the gold was stolen. Have they been reviewing the security tapes? Whoever did it somehow managed to fake Lamarra's voice last night, and from his phone number.

Also ask if Jules called you two nights ago about Red. If that call was fake too...
No. 471006 ID: b33427

Throw on your suit. May as well be dressed halfway decent to what might be your own funeral.

Tell Lammara you and Jess'll be there as fast as you can. Get Jess, and fill her in on what Lammara said on the way to the car.

En route, ask Jess to tell you why everyone was clearing out of the office earlier. You remember she mentioned that Lammara was down in the office basement looking at something almost all of the day.

Make sure that video recording doesn't get out of your hands until you've made duplicates. A heap of them, preferably.

With what Lamarra yelled at you about not giving you the day off, you can pretty much assume that that call last night was using a vocal synthesizer. This also means you should be suspect of whoever was on the other end of the line for every call you've made or received for at least the last two days.
No. 471012 ID: c4e5c2
File 135270603815.png - (13.40KB , 700x700 , 501.png )

"So Maklata wants to meet us at the same time as Father Zozu?"
>"Er, shit. 9 PM Maklata, 10 PM Father."
"Yeah. We'll be there.
>"Long as Red ain't there. Lot of me wants him dead."
"I'll try and make sure of it."
>"Oh, Jules. Did you call me bout 2 days ago about Red?"
"Yeah, I did."
>"Alright. Someone's got the best damn vocal synthesizer. I'm thinking I can't trust my phone anymore."

We have some time to kill, so I come clean with Jess about the cameras. She didn't mind, and I skim through at least the visuals on fast forward, letting her know I'm just doin' this to settle this last bit of paranoia. After all, if I really thought she was up to no good, I wouldn't have shown her my back. She insists she's cool with it. She wasn't up to anything funny, just sat around and slept, till red popped up, then it was those hours of panic as she couldn't get a damn bit of help. Still, I make several copies for good sake, and may look at one more in detail in case something important was said.

We show up to the office, and get patted down. Not just for weapons, they full on inspect the hell out of us. Making sure we got no bugs or anything, a strip search and all. Things are kept respectful to Jess, who gets some girl neumono who aren't full of fuck to search her. Worried as I was, Jess said if anything she's relieved to be in the company of another, non shitball neumono. They don't explain what's with the added security, and they don't need to, and we don't ask.

They also advise us to not speak unless spoken to, in that sort of flat tone I wouldn't fuck with.
No. 471015 ID: c4e5c2
File 135270655978.png - (14.93KB , 700x700 , 502.png )

Malkata is... skittering around his desk, trying to find the words.

>"Alright. No introductions here... how to put it... how to think it... why the fuck were every last one of you missing at 4:30 PM?! Lamarra! I didn't expect you to keep up my numbers, but to have everyone leave?! You and Jules just suddenly get locked up because of the very malfunction you and he were investigating?! And you, Itches, a tax collector, going and falling in love against all senses! The closest any of you have to an excuse is Jessica, but she still had no valid reason at the time to leave work early! Unbelieveable! And you're all so unbelievably lucky!"

He pauses like he's daring any of us to speak. No one does.

>"You'd all be dead if you weren't missing! You should all be dead! You were practically the entire staff on board aside from a tiny, now dead, skeleton crew that didn't have a chance against what ended up as a silent raid! You'd either be dead in the raid, or you'd be dead for failing to throw yourself in the line of fire to stop it! As it is, your only crime is incompetence and absence. Just so happens to have been so very convenient! At least that's what my father thinks. And my own father thinks I'm to blame! Me! That I rocked the boat and didn't respect your workflow in the least! Like I'm running a daycare! You guys have a single thing to say?!"
No. 471016 ID: f2c20c

Hang on, if we were told to stay out of work, then whoever faked the voice on the call wanted us to survive. That's worth mentioning. The only person we know of that could've wanted Itcher to survive and is possibly part of the raid is his girlfriend. She probably developed some real feelings for him, and called in a favor to make sure he stayed out of the office that day.
No. 471018 ID: 08005b

Well I think it's safe to say we were all played like a fourth grader's recorder. It was played well, but it was horrible to listen to.
No. 471020 ID: 735f4f

Someone knew every bit of info on our operation and how everything worked and made sure that no one here was hurt. Luck had nothing to do with this. We need to find out how they got all this info.
No. 471023 ID: c6ec33

Point out the obvious: If any of you were part of this, you wouldn't be here right now, because you'd all be just as gone as the gold. All of you know the consequences of crossing the Zozu, and most you've (presumably) all been loyal, well-performing members of the Zozu family for years.

Another, probably obvious thing: This was likely an inside job. You just got in and don't know much about what's happened here, but what you've picked up so far is that the following happened:
- You got a call last night from someone that appeared to be Lamarra, telling you to take the day off. When you protested, they became firm, so you said OK. Of course, you should also admit that you have no way to prove this unless they keep logs of your phone calls around.
- Sometime during the day, a large number of people start leaving the office. Jessica, fearing for her safety with so few people here, decided to call it a night. You picked her up and took her back to your place, where's she's been crashing due to Red.
- You hung out with your temporary girlfriend for a bit, she got a call and had to leave, and you headed back to check on Jessica. This is where Red showed up, and you had to fuck him up.
- Sometime during all of this, Lamarra and Jules get locked up, and someone goes on a silent raid.

So that leaves 2 big questions:
- Why did Red suddenly get the balls to try to rape Jessica tonight of all nights? Did someone put him up to it to get him out of the way?
- Who made the phone call to you? Was it Lamarra or a fake?
- Who has the motive to do this? The gold isn't that valuable on its own. This is likely meant to be an intentional insult to the zozu, since they're the only ones that really care about the gold.

You can also suggest a series of further actions:
- Review all security footage
- If footage is not available, view footage from cameras surrounding the exterior of the building.
- Set up road-blocks and have security forces fully search any vehicles leaving the area.
- Round up all the employees that were fired, in case any of them got disgruntled and were part of this.
- Round up all CURRENT employees and check on them.
No. 471024 ID: 7a2594

Oh, the butthurt.
No. 471026 ID: d4ad1a

Systematic and exacting. Somebody's angling for a promotion. Say this, Itcher.
No. 471027 ID: f2c20c

I think we should say relatively little- try to focus on only things he probably doesn't know or thought to do already. Going over the basics like security tapes would just insult him.
No. 471028 ID: 0c2247

That's leaping to conclusions when there's a simpler explanation: Itches was picked as a credible witness to cast the blame on Lamarra.
Also, it's possible the raid was on standby and looking for a chance to strike.
No. 471029 ID: c6ec33

Also, probably too late now, but you forgot to call Alia. Might as well do that next time you get the chance... which could be a while.
No. 471030 ID: f2c20c

We don't have anything to use to point fingers at Lamarra. All we've got is that we were told to stay out of work.

Anyway, 6 PM is when she got the call. That's probably when she was told they got the gold and it was time for them to leave. 4:30 is the time of the raid, so they had an hour and a half to shoot their way in and move all the gold out. Sounds about right to me.

She did say she'd have her phone on. Why didn't we try calling it? We could try now, though it's a bit late for it.
No. 471032 ID: c4e5c2
File 135270977578.png - (12.56KB , 700x700 , 503.png )

"Yeah, something's worth mentioning. I got a fake call, sounded just like Lamarra, told me to take the day off."
>"What?! Hold on."

He pulls in some guards from outside to get our phones, then plays back my message, while searching for any data on Lamarra's. Pretty sure the higher ups get some kinda unlock code on our phones to let them see even deleted messages. He tosses the phones back to the guards, and shooes them out.

>"You've got yourself a real guardian out there, Itcher! You really did get a fucking fake call!"
"I think if I were a part of this, Maklata Zozu, I would be gone with the gold."
>"Idiot! I know you're not a part of it, but you fucked things up! If not for you, everyone who knows a damn thing about the building and the gold and all that would be dead! Then Father Zozu questioning whatever bums were fired wouldn't be a problem! But that doesn't matter. You know why? Because if this cursed building was my responsibility, then you're my responsibility! And if you're all my responsibility, then I own you. You're all under my direct department now, and if I say you die, you die! Do you understand me?!"

God damn, he's rambling now.
No. 471033 ID: c4e5c2
File 135270978838.png - (12.78KB , 700x700 , 504.png )

>"Know why else it doesn't matter? Because I know where the gold is, and you guys are going to get it back in easy, smooth time, because I tell you to! Then we go back to normal! Easy stuff! Father Zozu is going to ask you some questions, you see? You guys are knowledgable about this building, and that's why it's such a problem. He might pull you guys out and ask some real sensitive questions that I think you'll understand I don't want answered! But you guys aren't going to answer them. You're going to say no, you want to fetch the gold. You want to make it up to him, by running the gold back to us. And it'll be easy. You just gotta be smart and play ball. And if you don't, well..." Another pause.
>"I already got it arranged if you don't play! Jules, you got a wife and kids! Lamarra, even if you're Zirin's little pet project, you've landed in my lap, and I know your hopes to ascend the ranks, and you bet your ass you're going to be a peon for the rest of your life if you don't do it! Itcher, I know the girl you've been seeing, and you know I have the resources to find her! And Jessica, well, you and Itcher did a big fucking number on Red, but he's alive, he'll get better, and he'll love to have some revenge time alone with you! You all go in to Father Zozu. You answer his questions. You speak decent of me. And nothin' like this happens again. Not even Red'll touch a single one of you. And if you talk to Zozu about what I said here, it's your word against mine! And I'm fine with those odds! Any questions?!"

Least I know why the security measures were taken to find any bugs or recorders. That was damn near a confession. Can't say I'm feeling too relieved that all my paranoia is justified. The guy's turned fucking insane though.
No. 471035 ID: c6ec33

Wow. This guy is all sorts of slime.

Play along for now, because that's all you can hope to do.

This also explains why Red was after Jess. Red was either told to kill her or knew that she was supposed to die and figured he'd have some fun first.

As soon as you talk to Father Zozu, try to find a way to slip him the truth. There is no way that this fucker is going to let you live past the gold grab unless you brown-nose like crazy. And if you can tell Daddy the truth, say that it's best if you keep up the charade for now. Oh, and request that Red suffer from an 'accident'.
No. 471037 ID: 8b9215

"Why not send a professional recovery team that can do it right and do it right the first time? When we go, and try, and fail, and die, the enemy will turtle and you'll be in a worse off position and four pawns down. We're pawns. We know that. We accept that. We are ok with that. We understand we get traded and sacrificed. But don't go throwing away pieces for no good reason."
No. 471038 ID: f2c20c

Wait, if he's responsible for this, and he didn't make the fake call... who did?! Wait. I know what's going on here.

He's got a CAI working for him. CAI will sometimes go off and do things on their own... I think they took a liking to you, Itcher. They may have even been responsible for the "malfunction" that locked some of the others up out of the line of fire. I don't know why they didn't try to get Jess out too... maybe they couldn't figure out a way to do it, and decided to rely on Red to drive her away? Then I imagine they were responsible for keeping Red from opening the door in any reasonable amount of time, while also keeping Jess from contacting anyone about it. Hey, did we ever find out what happened to the security there? Were they dead?

I have one question for Maklata Zozu. Is there a reason Red is like he is? Is he really just a normal Neumono, or some kind of science project?

I think Maklata is in a very vulnerable position. He just claimed that it's only going to be your word vs his, BUT he also said that you guys know about the vulnerabilities in the system he exploited. You can expose him and Father Zozu will believe you, because you have evidence. All you need to do is get him to agree to kill Red, and protect Alia as well as Jules' wife and kids. That should be well within his power. Also I think Father Zozu would be able to tell that we're lying to him.

I guess we COULD lie to him and lie badly on purpose? Keep the deal with Maklata while also exposing him?
No. 471042 ID: 0c2247

Lets be honest here - Maklata basically just said you should be dead so there wouldn't be any witnesses, told you to lie to Father Zozu, and wants you all to go on a mission where you have no chance of survival.
Fuck Maklata.

When you talk to Father Zozu, hand him the security tape from your room.
Tell him that Red reports directly to Maklata, and Red chased Jessica away from work and the tape showed what both Red and Jessica were doing while the gold was being stolen. Also that you have critical information he needs, but you can't speak freely unless he can guarantee your loved ones will be protected from Maklata's reprisal.
Then explain how Maklata is trying to threaten you, the office workers who actually know what was going on leading up to the theft, have been ordered to BE the strike team attempting to recover the gold from people who obviously have combat experience.
After that, lead in to all observations you noticed and evidence you collcted - Maklata firing half of the security force days prior to the raid, for example.

Tell him what Maklata said LAST, so when it's said there's a bunch of supporting evidence in place to make your statements against Maklata more credible.
No. 471048 ID: b33427

God. Fucking. Dammit! You were right! Well, partly. It was family politics! Maklata planned to steal Father Zozu's gold to smear his brother Zirin, then "miraculously" recover it (from the people he hired to hold it) to increase his standing with daddy dearest. All without anyone knowing the better, 'cause those who did would be dead. Well, since Maklath is in a confessional rant, may as well ask if that was it. Oh, and who's holding it for him.

You know, Maklata said not to speak ill of him, but he didn't say anything about not speaking ill of Red...

When you go in to face Father Zozu, come down on Red, hard. Say he's a barely controlled danger, even to Family members. Play up that when ordered to not have anything to do with Jess, he ignored a Family order and went after her anyway; With both premeditation and planning. Hand over the recording from your apartment as additional evidence. As far as you're concerned, for the safety of the Family and everyone else, Red should be put down like the rabid dog he is.

Now, you strongly suspect that Red was sent there by Maklath to deal with Jess, but of course you can't say that. This'll just make Maklath have to do some verbal ballet to save his pet psycho, and if you're lucky, Father Zozu will take Red into his custody, and out of Maklath's hands.
No. 471049 ID: 6cc859

Agreed. Fuck this guy, fuck his threats, and fuck his scheming to get all of you killed. Get Jessica to back you up, but be careful asking for help from the others; if one of them tells Malkata, you're in for it. If Father Zozu is receptive, you could suggest he offer them the same protections you will have requested, and see if they corroborate your story.

Remember also that:
> "my own father thinks I'm to blame"
No. 471052 ID: f2c20c

Hang on, how'd they get in the vault anyway? Who held the keys? Jules wasn't killed, so if he held the keys the raiders didn't use them.
No. 471055 ID: c4e5c2
File 135271733452.png - (10.77KB , 700x700 , 505.png )

>Hey, did we ever find out what happened to the security there? Were they dead?
Never did find out as of yet. I'll figure out as soon as I can, but I'm getting shuffled from one place to the next here.

We look at each other. Not much of a damn choice after all.

>"We'll play ball." Lamarra says
>"Smart." Maklata says. "Go ahead, then. Better get to Father Zozu."
"One thing. Why not send a professional team who can do it right the first time? We're hardly suited for that. We'd probably die. We may be pawns and know it, but to send pawns just to die?"
>"Malsen will be going, along with some others, to help all of you, under the chance you may need muscle. But you all are, for better or worse, more than just pawns! I am surprised you are the one to ask this, Itches the counter! No one else has memorized the gold to the ounces like you have. Every curve and every nook of that gold, I know, is imprinted into your head. Head of Security Jules here has practice with investigation, he will be good to keep an eye on whether or not my gold may go astray, as unlikely as that is. Jessica has experience with negotiating with other neumono without defaulting to biting their face off like some tribal rogue. And Lamarra, well, he is a manager, and those skills are always apt in a mission with more than 2 people. Plus, I will say one more thing! Father Zozu will expect you to want the gold back enough to go on the mission to get it, to redeem yourself, to show that you aren't just willing to let the gold disappear. It is that or severe disciplinary action. In a sense, I am saving you from all of that. It is all I ask of you to simply, as we have discussed, play ball. Consider it a favor."
>"Hang on, how'd they get in the vault anyway?"
"That isn't something you need to know."
>"And what is Red, anyway? Some kinda science project?"
"Also an unimportant question. I think we're done here. No one can save you if youre late to Father Zozu's meeting, so you better be off."
No. 471056 ID: c4e5c2
File 135271735056.png - (35.33KB , 700x700 , 506.png )

Jessica and I head together in my car. She says she'll back me up on if I say anything to Father Zozu, but ultimately she wants to not fuck around with Malkata enough for him to make good on his threats. She's pretty scared, she admits, but I tell her anyone would be in her position.

Again, we end up patted down and have our stuff held. So we end up in the face of Father Zozu after going all together.

>"Welcome. You will all get a chance to speak your minds about this. I wish to know all that you know, but first I have some specific questions for each of you in regards of what I already know." Father Zozu says.
No. 471057 ID: c4e5c2
File 135271736851.png - (40.50KB , 700x700 , 508.png )

>"So." He begins. "My gold has gone missing from right under our noses. That building was not the most secure, I will be the first to admit, but the security on board was exceptionally scrawny. Why would you say that is, Jules?"
"... I didn't feel that many of my security staff was doing much. I advised Maklata to split the security force in half, Sir." Jules is shaking when he says it, but anyone could believe it's cause he's saying something like that to Father Zozu, not because he's lying like this.
>"And these security guards that were laid off were Zozu family, yes?"
"Yes, sir."
>"And did you consider their position? They do need a job to be considered useful, lest they be disowned. You did not bother transferring them to a new department, nor give them any notice. They simply came in to work one day to be let off. Did you not think about this?"
"I.... did not think about it, sir."
>"It is unfortunate, when one of our basic principles is so easily forgotten."
No. 471061 ID: c4e5c2
File 135271748584.png - (17.55KB , 700x700 , 507.png )

>"Is that so. Here I thought Maklata did it himself. And Lamarra. Your overall staff had a similar sizing down. They are not security personnel, but I would say that having more people around would still lead to a more difficult heist. Would you disagree?"
"I would not, Father Zozu." Lamarra says.
>"And was it Maklata's doing or your own, that led to this desizing?"
He pauses dangerously long. "It was my doing, Sir."
>"Is this identical to Jules' position? Did you not consider their need of a job to sustain them, to sustain us?"
"It... is identical, sir."
>"It saddens me."
No. 471062 ID: c4e5c2
File 135271749597.png - (21.42KB , 700x700 , 509.png )

>"And Jessica. Your case is rather tragic. It does break my heart when my family fights itself like this. Red did push a boundary with you.. Am I wrong to think that he wanted you to rather extraordinary levels?"
>"No, sir, it's correct." she answers.
>"Yes, he did, but did you think much about his needs? He may have gone about it wrong, but I do wonder if it would have simply been easier if you had allowed him your body. While it may have been painful for you, I think it would have been for the greater good. I would not force you to do it, but would you disagree with my viewpoint?"
"Well, sir, he did go into... a lot of detail about what he wanted to do, and all of it involved breaking me."
>"Did he ever say he would kill you?"
"No, sir."
>"Then I would say that you are a neumono, and as such, are gifted with a great ability to receive a high level of punishment, and be without a limp within a couple of weeks. I think neumono tend to take this for granted, as is a natural thing to have for born abilities. But do think of those who get crippled and must empty their bank accounts to buy a prosthetic, while you simply have to sit still for a week. Do not get the wrong impression, I would not force you to submit to his will, but know that he is a valuable member of the family. Perhaps moreso, with his strength, so do keep in mind his wishes in mind. He may be in as much pain, having to deal with unsatisfied urges...... understood?"
Understood, sir.
No. 471063 ID: c4e5c2
File 135271750589.png - (17.99KB , 700x700 , 510.png )

>Hand Father Zozu the security tape from your room.
Think I'll wait till he gives us that opportunity he said to speak our minds, along with any more open ended things I gotta say about Red or whatever.

>"And lastly, Itcher. You have gone and fornicated. I have heard that you have received a fake call, yes, and that is rather alarming. Yet nonetheless, wouldn't you say that if you had not gone and dated, that you would have been at work as you were supposed to?"
No. 471064 ID: 8b9215

"No I would not say that. On a day off I'd be at home being drunk."
No. 471065 ID: 8b9215

Fill yourself with apathy. Let it flow through you. You don't give a fuck about any of this. You are answering questions truthfully. The sooner you get all of this sorted out the sooner you can go back to being drunk. And I'm sure you wouldn't be drunk going on some suicide mission after a boatload of gold. That is a terrible thought.
No. 471066 ID: f2c20c

I'm not sure I understand the question. Is he asking what you would've done if you'd received the fake call but didn't have a date? In that case you'd be home taking it easy. If both the date and fake call had not occurred, you'd be at work, of course. If the lady had been around and you hadn't gotten a fake call, you'd be at work then too. You never asked for time off to go out with her... your job always came first.
No. 471067 ID: c4e5c2
File 135271953225.png - (8.88KB , 700x700 , 511.png )

"No, I would have been at home, as I believed the fake call to be legitimate."
>"Yes, I heard in advance about this."

He is handed my phone and Larrama's, and he goes through the motions.

>"This is indeed an excellent fake. And if you had not received the call, but the date?"
"Then I would have been at work, as always."
>"Good, good. Perhaps I cannot blame you for staying home, then, as I am not familiar with your level of paranoia. Would you say it has done you well? And if so, then how?"

Can't believe I forgot to bring my goddamn suit to the most important meeting of my life. May as well have shown up naked.
No. 471068 ID: 2f4b71

>"Good, good. Perhaps I cannot blame you for staying home, then, as I am not familiar with your level of paranoia. Would you say it has done you well? And if so, then how?"
You can say, entirely truthfully, that you're paranoid about everyone. And that you can only rule out three people that absolutely could not have been part of the raid itself: yourself, and Jessica and Red who you both had on tape the entire time.
No. 471069 ID: 8b9215

"It prevented Jess from being raped and beaten by Red. Other than that it's been stressful but hasn't hindered any of my work. I'd say it worked well."
No. 471070 ID: f2c20c

It allowed you to keep Jessica safe, by changing the lock and arming both of you with tazers. That's all it really did for you, as you were never in any real danger in J-block due to your escorts, and you weren't paranoid enough to doubt the fake call. We did a background check and other precautions with your date but she turned out to be legit. You suspected that the gold would be stolen but didn't get it quite right and had no way of confirming your suspicions so it didn't help much there, but don't talk about that just yet.

...would going in and keeping Red under control during the escorts be considered paranoia or understandable precaution? We did keep someone from getting their face burnt off...
No. 471071 ID: 632482

Done you well? No. In a way, you were both too paranoid and not paranoid enough. If you'd been less paranoid before, you wouldn't have been too burnt out on paranoia to remember to check back about the call that turned out fake.
No. 471072 ID: 632482

(sorry for double posting, but I forgot)

I also want you to consider the possibility that Red is a deliberate distraction. If somebody screwed with his suit's jammer, and he never took it off .. might be worth looking into, later.
No. 471073 ID: 425b9d

something feels off...
whilst Maklata is pure slime, giving us either this or outright misery/death, Father Zozu seems too calculating in all of this.
in anycase this is a ride your going to be heavily strapped & tied up then thrown into either way, use your words... carefully, don't take too long in your response but flash through how what you say could be twisted
No. 471074 ID: 0c2247

"Paranoid enough to keep myself hard to threaten. Maklata is trying to strongarm us into covering his ass, but he has crap for leverage on me.

If you want the others to back me up you'll need to keep Maklata from getting back at them.
Jules was complaining to me the other day that he was having trouble with his staff cuts and people were complaining about not feeling safe with such short staff. But Maklata threatened Jules' wife and kids so he has to eat that blame unless you can protect them.
The other staff were fired before Lamarra even got his position, but Maklata threatened to dead-end his career so he has to claim he can fire people across time.
He threatened Jessica with letting Red go to town on her, but since his orders didn't keep Red from abandoning his post to attack from her I doubt it matters all that much." You have a copy of the security feed on hand? Hand it over.
"As for me? He threatened the girl I'm seeing. She's fun, but she ain't family. These three are.

Honest opinion? It looks pretty much like Maklata set things up so he could steal the gold once Zirin took over to make him look bad, but got hit himself.

He wants us to go get the gold back. We'll do that, no problem there, but I'm not going to bullshit you to cover for him.

I'd like to have Jessica stay here and take Red instead. The big problem with his little stunt was that he defied direct orders to leave Jessica alone, and I need him to show he can behave himself. Besides, his personal jammer would be great leverage for negotiations, and if something goes wrong he'd keep us from taking casualties."
No. 471076 ID: 251fc8


I want to support this, despite being pretty damn sure it would get Itcher killed.

But hey, most of me believes that Father Zozu came here fully desiring a sacrificial lamb.
No. 471083 ID: 70c0f2

>Jessica has experience with negotiating with other neumono without defaulting to biting their face off like some tribal rogue.
Wow, really? She sure wasn't willing to negotiate when it came time for it...

Okay, guys, we got a problem here. We can't back out of the gold recovery mission, since we know Jules, Lamarra, Jessica and Malsen will all be there in the bar. Even if we out Maklata to father Zozu, and succeed, they'll still end up there somehow (probably father Zozu sends them anyways).

Notably, however, Itcher doesn't show up in any of the panels from the bar. Which means we somehow get him out of this... or we get him killed before he can get there. Crossing Maklata has very good odds of getting him killed, I think.

>Paranoia. Would you say it has done you well? And if so, then how?
It kept my friend safe. That's about it, though. When I needed it most, it didn't pick up on that goddamn phonecall.
No. 471088 ID: 9b155d

Maklata is "family", and more directly family with Father Zozu. Snitching on him will likely end badly for us.
No. 471089 ID: e3f578

Snitching will get Alia killed.
Even if we don't care about our life, we got more than one in our hands here. And then it could go and get Jule's kids killed by proxy, just because he might actually back up the truth we'd be spreading without thinking. Jess would, of course, but we can't take the others in for account, and that includes actually backing us.
We've got four innocent lives on our hands if we snitch.
No. 471092 ID: 440525

"The benefits of my paranoia are high, but does not outsize the emotional stress and pain that accompany it."
No. 471093 ID: 440525

I also think that, red should have his own prostitute, because we are not letting him near Jessica ever again. (well we're going to need to defend even more since she's going to be a paraplegic or dead the next few weeks.)
No. 471095 ID: 997ce7

If all Red wanted was sex, he could have gotten it with much less effort. Rape is more about power than sexual release. Red wants to teach Jessica never to deny him again.

And given his status as Maklata's pet, I doubt we can get him castrated and titanium prostheses installed to stop him from regrowing or some such.

Given the noncanon Hok/Kappi miniseries in Lago's drawthread, I think neumono have internal testicles. Either that or I was laughing too hard to pay close attention.
No. 471097 ID: 517631

Getting killed is becoming more and more whats going to happen. Malkata has asked you to lie, and if any of this comes back on any of you it will be seen as a betrayal of trust.

Maybe its best just to say what you need to say but you still feel you are pawns in something other than what is in the family's best interest. Maybe mention something to the matter that Zozu himself should keep a closer eye on the chain of command while your getting the gold back.
No. 471100 ID: 70c0f2

>we're going to need to defend even more since she's going to be a paraplegic or dead the next few weeks.
Well, on the plus side, if she does somehow survive Karri cutting her head off (...you grab on and hold that head down tight till the bleeding stops and/or you pass out, girl! Maybe something will heal back together before you bleed out, or you head dies from lack of oxygen. And then pray Karri's team decides to take you prisoner instead of finishing the job) and she ends up locked inside the bar, she'll be safe (from rape, at least) for the 30 days or so it takes the rest of Zozu to bust in.
No. 471104 ID: 0c2247

{spoiler}I asked Lagotrope about this exact thing.

If we somehow manage to go off the rails and make it so the ending of the last chapter couldn't happen the way it did then he will redo that to prevent a time paradox.

We are supposed to do what we think makes the most sense in the current situation, not make choices for the sake of preserving the timeline.{/spoiler}

>But hey, most of me believes that Father Zozu came here fully desiring a sacrificial lamb.
Doubt it. You don't rise in the ranks of a crime syndicate by being petty or foolish, and he would have to be both to not keep tabs on his kids.
In all honesty? All the signs point to this being an inside job by somebody who wanted to avoid harming people. In terms of motive, access to information, ability to leverage resources, and method of execution? Father Zozu is actually the most likely person to pull this off. As far as his reasoning? He has two kids who are vying to be his heir, and he needs to test them and teach them lessons they'll remember.

>Malkata has asked you to lie, and if any of this comes back on any of you it will be seen as a betrayal of trust.

Father Zozu is the head of the family; he outranks Maklata.
Importantly, we were ordered to lie to him under threat of personal tragedy. If Maklata has to resort to threats to get his people to do what he wants then he already doesn't trust them, and they shouldn't trust him.
We can't betray Maklata's trust since there's none there, and doing what's best for the family instead of best for yourself is a very valuable trait in an underling.

>Snitching will get Alia killed.
Doubt it. If we say who was threatened and those people start dying then it's damn clear what happened. Besides that? He already said he doesn't know where she is, and I doubt he'll have much time to look.
Also, I'm starting to believe she's working for Father Zozu, or somebody else who can protect her. I mean, if she wasn't then he would have tracked her down via her phone before making the threat since that wouldn't take any more time than calling in the order.
Also? Beyond simply giving his threat more impact he already implied he thinks she's an enemy agent. He's going to try to track her down anyway, and he's bloodthirsty enough that he'd kill her just to make sure. His pet project is Red, for fuck's sake.

All that aside? Never cross the head of a crime syndicate. Not even for his kid.
No. 471108 ID: 70c0f2

Oh, that's interesting. We're operating on the doctor's mandate then- help the people you find yourself in a position to help, and don't worry about the timeline, it'll take care of itself, somehow.

We have three options then to really cause a time paradox and change the ending.
(1) We need to swing things so our people never show up in the bar to intercept the gold in the first place. Clusterfuck never happens, Jessica and co don't die, Karri and co get to sell Pile's shit to the original buyer. This would probably retire either selling out Maklata, or cutting and running from Zozu before we can be sent to our death.
(2) We go to the bar, but we make it turn out better. Get Jess a silver spade pin in advance. Negotiate if and when the time comes for it instead of screaming defiance. Stop the all out attack- figure out an outcome that gets both sides out alive.
(3) We go to the bar, but are unable to negotiate a mutually beneficial outcome, or stop the rest of the Zozu forces from attacking. Instead of resisting and getting killed though, we surrender to Karri and co and eventually have our new ex-Zozu friends defect to Tin's side once we rescue our people. Then we get a nice ex mob accountant, a new security chief, and Jess gets to escape her rapist and hang with Pilon's family, the nicest bunch of neumono on this rock.

We may want to buy Jess a nice, metal choker, just in case.

The tricky bit now is deciding if selling out Maklata is worth it. Do we even have enough evidence to make it stick? We have our testimony, but that's not much. We have Red- Maklata's pet psychopath knew what was going to happen, and was smart enough to use the chaos to try and cover his actions. That's all circumstantial though- nothing hard.
No. 471116 ID: 886a4d

I say we come clean. Maklata is going to have us all killed even if we survive..
No. 471121 ID: c4e5c2
File 135274419961.png - (8.03KB , 700x700 , 512.png )

"It's been hit or miss. It helped me save Jess when Red was trying to burst down my door, but didn't help to suspect the fake call."
>"And I have already spoken my piece on how I feel of Jessica's refusal of Red..... you appear to wish to say more."

I'd love to come clean and tell him all about Maklata, but I gotta think pretty hard if I'm gonna do that. No turning back if I do, but this would be the time.
No. 471124 ID: 0c2247


(1) Never cross the head of a crime syndicate. If you can think of a way to talk our way out of going after the gold ourselves that's fine, but cutting and running is not an option.

(2) Get her the pin, but more important is that we frame the 'negotiation' as a reward for their assistance in recovering the gold. Selling the Zozu their own gold back to them is just asking for Zozu to be pissed, but if Zozu goes into things offering a reward then it's a clean deal. They'll be more relaxed and take a lower offer if we start things off by offering them an easy payday and clean exit.

(3) Again, never cross a crime syndicate. We probably can't bail out of Zozu without doing that, so it's off the table.

This is not selling Maklata out. There needs to be a degree of trust and loyalty involved for it to be selling somebody out.
Also, claiming that Maklata threatened us isn't much of an accusation. All Father Zozu needs to do in order to test that claim there is offer the others protection; if that changes their stories then it's pretty damn obvious Maklata really was coercing them.

Oh, and he probably doesn't actually care what information we have so much as what we say to him.
If he cared about the information he'd have us questioned individually so he can spot holes in our stories. You know, a proper investigation.
But he's not doing that. He's talking to everybody at once and doing it personally. He's testing us, and I'm pretty sure the answer is to show loyalty to him before others.
No. 471127 ID: 251fc8


Come clean Itcher, this is THE Zozu, withholding information he might need to know is close to fucking treason.

You might die, yeah, but you can say that your loyalty to the Zozu family was more than your fear.
No. 471129 ID: e3f578

(oh cool my post was still relevant after all, I didn't need to delete it)
Okay, snitching possibly won't get Alia killed. There's potential for Jule's own wife and kids getting killed though if we snitch and he of all people backs us up along with Jess.

But in the end, if we do snitch, and we have to explain our word over Malkata's, then we can simply come up with the logic that telling a lie like this would only come out badly for you. And of all people you'd betray and lie to, it'd be Malkata first, not Zozu. You do not fuck with Zozu, you don't even think about it. You don't even go as far to fuck with Zozu and lie to him whether or not the lie may actually be in Zozu's own best interest.

You know what, do it. Fuck it, if Jules happens to be dumb and ballsy enough to back you up, well then I guess he'll have to come up with a way to deal with his version of the consequences. You've been paranoid about the skeleton crew for a while now. Even double checked the damn gold every few days. The rivalry between Zozu's sons. It just wasn't Red.
No. 471130 ID: 886a4d

Ya come clean.
No. 471135 ID: 4be6b5

I think coming clean is a horrible idea guys, but fine, do it. I don't think this will turn out well though.
No. 471136 ID: cef479

At least attempt to come clean. We'll be in more trouble if we lie to the guy who is even higher up than his son. If Maklata can do bad things to us for not lying, imagine what Zozu would do if he found out we were trying to lie to him.
No. 471137 ID: 70c0f2

Well, if we give up Maklata, his gold recovery plan probably goes up in smoke. No more sting, no more clusterfuck. Unless our attempt to avoid it is self fulfilling, and Zozu sends us anyways, either just to still recover the gold, or as a double sting, where Itcher and co are supposed to fuck over the buyers and Maklata.

As for 'never cross a crime syndicate'... they've already crossed us. They've threatened us, they've threatened our friends and loved ones, and the family can't even stop itself from attacking us even when we're being useful. Defection doesn't put us at any more risk than we're already in. Either way, we have Zozu people trying to fuck us over or kill us.

Fuck it, you know what? Maklata's plan was to fuck you all over, get and get you killed for the gold. It's only luck you all happened to be out of the office when it happened, and he's going to get you all killed with his gold plot. Fuck him.

If we pull this off right- Maklata's threats don't even matter. Zozu understands family, and can send people to protect the people Maklata is threatening if he wants honesty from the others.

All we've got is a circumstantial case, but it's decent. We have everything Maklata ordered, and how it added up to setting this place up- which make a lot more sense the excuses Zozu has heard so far (what makes more sense- an inside job, or a bunch of low level employees suddenly deciding to mix things up instead of coasting on the status quo?). We have your paranoid explanation of how he would have done it. We have the testimony of everyone who was in that meeting, if we can get Maklata's leverage taken off of them. We have Maklata's pet psychopath, who obviously knew the raid was coming- since he tried to use it as cover for his rape attempt, when everyone would be too busy to care.
No. 471139 ID: 0c2247

Oh, and remember to point out that Red was also supposed to be in the building, but left his post to go bother Jessica. He's powerful, and in 80% bioarmor he could take on most military strike teams, but he's not an asset unless he can learn to follow orders.
No. 471140 ID: e3f578

Where's Red right now anyway? Wasn't he supposed to be here?
No. 471141 ID: c4e5c2
File 135274912460.png - (19.58KB , 700x700 , 513.png )

"Maklata's pushing us. Saying we got to cover for his-- for him." Goddamnit, nearly said 'his ass'. Gotta be professional about how I say about it. "Threatened Jule's wife, Lamarra's ambitions, my girl, and letting Red go to town on Jess."

>"... you say such things so calmly. Do you know what you are saying?"
"A lot of unpleasant shit. It already seems to me like it was an inside job."
>"It certainly was an inside job, of course. I do not believe that any of you are sololy to blame, though do not think that means that I am not suspicious. But now you say my son is asking you all to cover for him under threat, and that this gold heist was an inside job. Are you going to say my son stole it?"
"... I am at least highly suspect of it."
>"Yet you are the only one appearing to talk about this. Does anyone else want to speak up?"


>"It's... it's true that Maklata Zozu is threatening us to cover for him. I'm backing him up on that." Jessica says. I could fucking kiss her about now.

>"That's two of you, now."

Lamarra and Jules don't say anything directly, but they wander their eyes and shuffle there feet that says the world about their position.

>"What do you think I would do with all of you, speaking ill of my son, if you are wrong about him?"
"Unthinkable things."
>"Well put. These aren't light words. It does pain me to admit that my son is... dimwitted. I should hope that he would not have done what you say, and I may be old, but I am no moron. What proof do you have against Maklata?"
"I do have visual evidence of Red holding Jessica up in my room for hours. Was he not supposed to be here?"
>"I will take a look. One of my guards, get Itcher's things, and we'll have a look. Red is supposed to be here, yes, but he is currently being treated for grievous injuries. I will deal with him similarly, but seperately. For now, what other evidence do you hold against my son?"
No. 471142 ID: 251fc8

The deliberate staff cuts, is one, especially security.
No. 471143 ID: f2c20c

Say that he told you he already knows where the gold is, and is going to send you all on a mission to recover it. He should not know where it is, so that is evidence against him. It's guilty knowledge.

Also, he really was responsible for cutting personnel... and there must be a duplicate key somewhere if he was able to get into the vault.
No. 471144 ID: f2c20c

Also, Maklata said that the issue with us is that we're knowledgable about this building, and that's a problem. That there are sensitive questions that he didn't want answered. I'm thinking we do have more evidence, but we're not sure what it is yet.
No. 471145 ID: 997ce7

"Jules and Lamara confessed to the cuts, but you've seen how terrified they are of Maklata, and such a thing would serve him well. Also, he admitted he knew where the gold was, which I presume he shouldn't. He also said he wanted us to keep our mouths shut because we knew too much, about the building among other things."
No. 471148 ID: 70c0f2

What evidence do we have:

*Red's action suggest he had foreknowledge of the raid. He timed his rape attempt when everyone else would be too busy to deal with anything else. And he's Maklata's pet psychopath. (Hell, he's a neumono. Take away the jammer, let a loyal one interrogate him, and you'll know the truth real soon).
*Maklata had motive. If he'd pulled this off right, he could have blamed this mess on Zirin and come out ahead.
*He also had opportunity. He ran this place, and could have set it up how he liked. Despite Lammara and Jules taking the blame, does it really seem likely that a low level manager and security chief of a base that had been coasting on the status quo for ages suddenly made made recommendations to shake things up and remove redundancy? To make their own jobs harder, by leaving themselves less people to work with? Or that your ambitious and powerful son mixed things up instead?
*We also had a meeting with him immediately before you, if you didn't know. Where he made the threats and stuff. Even if there's no record of the meeting, if our phones are tapped, we have the conversation where Jules called us to tell us to be there.
*Maklata's claimed he knows where the gold is. Was going to send us all to recover it. We were supposed to come to you all eager to go out and redeem ourselves finding it. But it's only luck the four of us weren't on sight and killed when the theft went down. Pretty sure he means to get us killed recovering it too- then he's clean.

We don't exactly have the murder weapon, but we have a strong circumstancial case. If Red turns up dead before you can empathy interrogate him, there's some more circumstancial evidence.
No. 471149 ID: 886a4d

Also the timeline is messed up. All firings occured during Maklata's stay, and yet Lamarra is the one who confessed.He would have had no control at the time.
No. 471150 ID: c4e5c2
File 135275175073.png - (24.50KB , 700x700 , 514.png )

"There were the deliberate staff cuts. Plus, a lot of the staff cuts occurred during Maklata's stay, before Lamarra at least showed up."
>"This is a good observation. Normally I would call this evidence mushy at best, as that depends entirely on if all of that really was my son's doing, rather than Jules and Lamarra's words just a few minutes ago. Was that under duress of the alleged threats, I wonder, or did everyone here leap on the reputation of my son once Itcher opened that way? But this does show that Malkata did at least cut some staff, if not necessarily Jules' department, or those who did get cut after Lamarra's arrival."
"He also said he knows where the gold is, something he shouldn't know."
>"Oh, yes? And do you have a recording of this, as well?"
"... no, sir."
>"I will not say you are lying, I am aware that my son did call you all in before coming to me. But I am asking for hard evidence, and the closest I see so far is this tape and the staff cuts, though the latter is a bit messier than I would like. I will look into this."

The video of mine is retrieved, and Father Zozu spends a quarter hour looking it over, playing in normal time to get the audio. Thankfully it worked as intended, as painful as it got to watch sometimes. The audio sure as hell picked up what Red was saying.

"I'd like to say that you could interrogate Red without his jammer, and he'll almost certainly have known about the knowledge of the raid."
>"As much as I despise using that vile empathic link that turns neumono into what they are, I may do this. In fact, I will take Red out from Malkata's thumb for the time being and place him under my control. Itcher, you called emergency services on Red, did you not?"
"I did."
>"And there has been an investigation, the details that are known are passed to me. The security channels went 'haywire', staff was needed 'elsewhere', and that sort. They are not Zozu, but they are tasked with protecting Zozu, and this sort of thing is inexcusable. I am still looking into why this occurred, as there is much unknown. This tape is enlightening, at least. It is evidence like this that prevent me from simply hamstringing all of you. You all did have reason for abandoning work. Jules and Lamarra, you were investigating the possibility of a CAI intervention, but ended up locking yourselves in testing lockdowns, eventually confirming there was no CAI. At least by the time the gold had been stolen. And Itcher, it is not often that anyone orders another to stay at home. It should have been met with scrutiny. These are all better reasons than I would have expected, but not excuseable. Even you, Jessica. I do not take back what I said despite Red's overly spirited advances, but it does not matter. I am not complaining now that you did not allow Red inside, but the issue I speak of is that you left work in the first place. There were still people there at the time, and it would not have been ill advised to stick around for just a few hours more until normal shift hours close.
>It is Maklata's recommendation that instead of my usual disciplinary measures, you all have a chance to redeem yourself from this critical absence. He has told me that he is confident he can get the gold back. I believe him. Whether he took the gold matters little for this, as he will get the gold either way. All I ask of you is a token of your loyalty by assisting in the recovery of the gold. I am not asking any of you to be in harm's way, that will be the muscle's job. I repeat that this is merely a token mission of good faith. If you believe that Maklata stole the gold, then it will be an extraordinarily easy mission. I will place protection on Jules' family, Itcher's girl, and restrain Red for the time being, and give resistance to any demotions for Lamarra. Do any of you have reason for not joining? Red will also be recovering during this, but I will have a task for him when he is able, after I interrogate him myself."
No. 471151 ID: f2c20c

Say that Maklata probably plans to have you killed in action during the mission, but you will go anyway to try to prevent more deaths.

Also, um, if you can manage it without being disrespectful, ask him if he considered that Red would want to break Jess psychologically, not just physically. Or was that obvious from the video?
No. 471152 ID: 997ce7

Pretty much this. "Also, sir, I don't believe neumono can regenerate psychologically."
No. 471158 ID: 70c0f2

Well, that went about as well as could be hoped. It sounds like we're still headed for the bar though- we need to find a way to keep our people alive through that.

>it is not often that anyone orders another to stay at home. It should have been met with scrutiny.
In our defense, we were suspicious, but we were kind of too paranoia-ed out to care anymore. We did suspect that meant someone was making a play for the gold. But we were kind of assuming the theft was predetermined and unavoidable, and were worrying more about keeping Jess safe. And the odd, stay out of work order didn't put her at risk.

From Itcher's perspective, he didn't see a threat to Jess, thought the gold was safe, was burnt out on too much paranoia to think strait, and was distracted by his girl. Also, take a day off and stop thinking about was Lamarra's previous advice.

>If you believe that Maklata stole the gold, then it will be an extraordinarily easy mission.
Provided he intends to leave witnesses alive, sir.

>Red, Jess
Guys, he's a Salakai crime boss. He seems both neumono-racist and misogynistic. Drop it- he's not going to start caring.
No. 471161 ID: 72f4a3

"I'm in, but I'd like to voice my bit of paranoia that Malkata wishes for us to be in the recovery mission so that he may 'tie up loose ends'. A brief word of your 'expectations' in the mission outcome would leave us all in your gratitude."
No. 471164 ID: 6cc859

Definitely don't say
> But we were kind of assuming the theft was predetermined and unavoidable
because that would be a really stupid assumption.

Is a good point, but as others have mentioned, it's probably a lost cause. Zozu's not going to force her to do anything, anyway, so there's no need to make a huge fuss.
No. 471167 ID: 70c0f2

>Definitely don't say
>> But we were kind of assuming the theft was predetermined and unavoidable
I'm sorry if that wasn't clear, but that paragraph was meant to be an analysis of our (the suggesters') perspective on the whole temporal causality and foreknowledge of events thing. Not suggested dialog for Itcher. Guess I should have wrapped that one in spoilers, too.
No. 471170 ID: c4e5c2
File 135275461145.png - (9.08KB , 700x700 , 515.png )

"Provided he leaves witnesses. I can't know for sure, but I imagine Maklata may have plans to kill us while in action."
>"I will inject a few of my own men in. While I am not making a guarantee for your safety, they will report to me on what happens, and I will know if he throws your lives away needlessly. And to further dissuade your fears, I will also be quite displeased if all of my units that go also just so happen to die."
"And not to push a point too far, sir, since you're not making her do anything but if it was not obvious from the video, I believe Red was intending to break Jess psychologically, not not physically."
>"Yes, you are about the point of pushing it, but I will say that I did not expect Red to be as spirited as he was. So I am giving Jessica some leeway for this, but once again, this is aside from the point. I take it then that none of you complain about going on this task? Oh, and I remind you that failure is not an option, here, as much as I can't imagine why it would ever be a possibility in the first place, considering I am not giving Maklata this option of failure either."
No. 471171 ID: 0c2247

"Jules didn't fire anybody.
He's is good at his job and tight with his people, and in this line of work there's no such thing as too much security, just budget limitations. After the cuts he complained to me about not having enough people to cover everything, let alone do it well. When he started getting complaints from people about not feeling safe with Red around Jules wanted to put a detail on him for everybody's peace of mind, but couldn't spare the staff.

I don't know Lamarra so well, but since he wasn't even given his position until after the staff cuts I doubt he fired anybody either.

Alongside the cuts he started working everybody hard - longer hours, shorter timetables, wearing everybody down. People can do that for a crunch, but you can't keep it up for long.

Both the cuts and overwork look good on paper - cost go down and productivity goes up - but it's a short-term gain for massive long-term loss.
I understand Zirin was going to be taking over soon, right? Well, Zirin comes in when numbers are artificially high and there's nothing he can do to keep them from crashing. On paper Maklata looks brilliant and Zirin looks incompetent.

In the process of setting things up to embarrass Zirin, he put everything in position for something like the raid to happen.

I'm not saying Maklata was behind the the raid, since he probably would have waited until Zirin took over and wouldn't be panicking right now, but he made it possible.

As far as who was behind the raid? Somebody pushed a lot of people away from the line of fire that day, and that would have taken a lot of time and effort. From the malfunction that trapped Jules and Lamarra to the fake phone call I got it's clear they had a lot of resources and a lot of intel. With those kinds of resources stealing Zozu gold for its value would be among the least effective but most dramatic uses, so it was obviously intended as a message.
More to the point, they would have known the raid would have us out for blood all on its own, but they went out of their way to avoid casualties even though it wouldn't make things any easier on them. Shit, if they were worried about getting caught the raid wouldn't have happened at all. The only real explanation there is that they care about people in the family, so the list of suspects is very odd.

But this is getting into supposition and conjecture, so I'll stop here.

Now, Father Zozu? I humbly ask you grant Jules and Lamarra your protection, so they can talk freely without worrying about reprisal from Maklata."
No. 471173 ID: 70c0f2

...you know, I'm becoming kind of amused we never see Zozu's face, and he's just a waving collection of pallid hands.

>I take it then that none of you complain about going on this task?
Yeah, we'll do it. You're giving us a fair chance, and we couldn't expect any better in these circumstances.

>failure is not an option
Naturally. Luckily we have an out if we fail- bail, and defect these guys in with our other asteroid characters.
No. 471175 ID: f2c20c

Well, you could point out that you're not a soldier at all. Jules is really the only one here that could be considered part of the family's armed forces, surely? If those here are going on the mission, they shouldn't be on the front lines.
No. 471176 ID: 251fc8


He said we didn't have to be on the front lines, we just have to be a part of the actual mission to retrieve the gold.

Shit, we could just slot Itcher as the negotiator instead of Jess, remember, it was Jess and the other muscle that pulled guns first.
No. 471177 ID: 251fc8

No sir, you've been very patient and understanding.
No. 471179 ID: 70c0f2

>Shit, we could just slot Itcher as the negotiator instead of Jess, remember, it was Jess and the other muscle that pulled guns first.
Why's that a bad thing? Maybe Itcher will do a better job negotiating than she did- Jess' attempt ended in a bloodbath, her side being routed, and Karri's side trapped and under siege. Itcher doesn't want a fight, and he has lots of tax-man practice at exchanging money with a minimum of violence.

Provided the higher ups in Zozu don't fuck things up (like say, ordering us to kill the couriers) it would be relatively easy to make the deal, especially as we already established Karri's desire to just close the deal and go home.

No. 471180 ID: 251fc8


I'm fairly certain that being ordered to kill the couriers, most of who are in Bioarmor, who by all appearances just want to drop it and get the fuck out, constitutes throwing our lives away needlessly.
No. 471181 ID: c4e5c2
File 135275659967.png - (26.56KB , 900x700 , 516.png )

"No, we'll all go without problems if we aren't expected to be in the front lines. You've been very understanding."
>"Good. Then I will let you know if anything changes." Father Zozu says.

"Well, fuck."
"Least... my wife, and all, has protection." Jules says.
Lamarra looks at him. "'For the time being', Father Zozu said, anyways. That may go away if we do something stupid. More stupid. The hell was that, Itcher?"
"Just a spur of the moment thing, I guess."
"He's in the right, you know. We gotta do something against Maklata, otherwise he'll just keep holding this over us."
"Was that true by the way, Jess? You negotiate with neumono?"
"Hardly. I did it once because I had to, and apparently it went well. We didn't have a jammer either, so it worked better since we could understand each other."
No. 471182 ID: f2c20c

Negotiation would work better if Itcher was the one doing it, then. As a tax collector, we've done a lot of negotiating.
No. 471183 ID: 70c0f2

Yes, that sounds like a pretty plausible way for Maklata to try and get us killed.

>We gotta do something against Maklata, otherwise he'll just keep holding this over us.
Point, Jess. I forgot to mention that. If we'd done the deal for Maklata strait, he'd own us.

>not really a negotiator
Well, that explains that. I wonder why Itcher wasn't there in the original timeline? Something got him before the fateful meet.

So... can anyone think of anything useful to do, or should we all just get drunk? Because I think these four could really use a drink after the day they had.
No. 471185 ID: 144900

If you got any savings for the future now might be a good time to splurge some.
No. 471187 ID: 9b155d

If it was an inside job, then it's almost definitely not the people who stole it that we're going to be going after as the risk that they'd squeal would be too great. This means less then lethal methods should be acceptable and middle-men are likely to be carrying more then just our goods. Those extra goods give us a lot more room to negotiate because we can justify actually offering up things other then "We won't kill you" as long as we make more then gold+what we offered up.

If it's not obvious, I'm typing this as a train of thought someone who doesn't know the future could have to arrive at the conclusions we want
No. 471189 ID: 0c2247

"I'm not gonna cover anybody's ass if they have to threaten me to do it.
'sides, Father Zozu didn't get where he is by being foolish or petty. Trusting him and trusting the family are one in the same.

Speaking of which? Keep your heads down, and if things go south I want you all to stay back and let the enforcers do their thing. Most of all, don't provoke whoever we're up against no matter what. We'll get the gold back one way or the other, and I don't want any of us dying in the process.

I'll do the negotiations; I'm used to taking shit from armed people who want me dead.
Lamarra? You back me up on that and handle logistics.
Jules? You manage the enforcers. We want to play this defensively until we know what we're up against, and that's your bag.
Jessica? Keep an eye on Maklata's guys. He said we should be dead, and I want to make sure he doesn't try to fix that."
No. 471190 ID: 0c2247

Pfft, nobody with half a brain would touch stolen Zozu gold, and it's not worth a damn thing if you can't sell it.
If these people took it from the thieves then lets just straight up offer them a reward for its return. No threats, no haggling for price, no worries about us backstabbing them. We hand them a bag of money worth a fraction of its value, thank them for their service, and they walk away from the gold clean, clear, and paid.
No. 471191 ID: f2c20c

Oh RIGHT, now that we've got the time, CALL ALIA. At least give her the heads up that her life's in danger and she needs to make sure that her disappearing act is a good one.
No. 471193 ID: 70c0f2

We should call Alia, especially since we're now several hours overdue. But we can't outright say her life is in danger- our phone is monitored, remember? We can't let Maklata know we're turning on him. We gotta be circumspect with what we say.
No. 471194 ID: c4e5c2
File 135276054896.png - (16.55KB , 700x700 , 517.png )

"I'll do the negotiations. You just keep an eye on Malkata's guys, Jess, I want to make sure he doesn't try and fix up what he said, that we should be dead. You all just keep your heads down from any fighting."
"Like you've got to tell us to!"
"Hey, just got a message from Malkata. Says we gotta leave around 10 AM tomorrow."

Right, gotta call Alia.
We are sorry, but this phone has been disconnected from service. Huh. Not even just off. Completely gone.

>If you have savings, better splurge
Not a penny to my bank.

Most of us are just plain tired, and hardly in the mood to make a party out of the night in case shit goes sour after all. Jess comes back to my room. Who knows, maybe she's still afraid Red'll escape the hospital. Maybe she just doesn't want to sleep alone. Fuck, for all I know she's attached to me. I don't ask.

Can't say I'm gonna complain about sleeping with some feminine company, even if it isn't Alia. So Jess and I drink ourselves to a stupor and enjoy each others misery before passing out.
No. 471196 ID: c4e5c2
File 135276069827.png - (18.41KB , 700x700 , 518.png )

I wake up when at 4 AM, I get a message. Father Zozu passed me a message sayin' he got Red to talk with some empathy help.

'pparently Maklata told Red he deserved Jess', and once Jess left the building, to go and hunt her down. Red didn't know anything about the heist, and was just told that the security wouldn't bug him. He didn't question that, just trusted Maklata. He even got the damn key after all to my room! And when that failed, obviously that didn't stop him. Security just kept on ignoring him. Just smells of Red getting used and played like a tool, getting told as little as possible to get at Jess.
No. 471199 ID: 70c0f2

>Huh. Not even just off. Completely gone.
Well, that suggests she might have been involved, after all. Oh well, we'd already decided we were okay with that. If she knows how to disappear, that means Malkata can't find her either. Hopefully she'll be okay.

>Red didn't know
Well, there goes a little of our evidence. But- Malkata did know security wouldn't be able to bother him. That's still circumstantial evidence on him.

Hey, uh, Itcher, you got access to any kind of silver paint or something that could be spread on something to make it silver? Like, a can of grease, or anti seize compound, etc? Something from the supplies you use to maintain your guns or car? I have this paranoid hunch you might need it.
No. 471202 ID: 997ce7

Why? Did I miss something in the last thread, or is it really just a hunch?
No. 471203 ID: f2c20c

Maklata baited him to go after her. Fucking despicable insect. We should check up with emergency services about what they found out about security going AWOL. Let's do as much investigation as we can before we have to leave, to dig up evidence on him and report that back to Father Zozu.

Did you find out how your room's phone got disabled?
No. 471206 ID: 8b9215

Send a message back thanking him for looking into it.
No. 471207 ID: 70c0f2

So we can paint the black spade pin we're going to get sliver. I doubt Itcher will have time to go jewellery shopping, but finding some metallic grease could be doable. Anti seize compound would do the trick.
No. 471208 ID: 72f4a3

Father Zozu is pretty sharp, he knows a coincidence from a "coincidence" and if it goes down between the father and son, we know which side we'd rather be on. But most likely it's Malkata trying to play the favored son, so never place money on Zozu choosing you over Malkata.

Also at this point it's pretty much a given that Alia was involved in the heist.

Now I think is the time to make a decision for yourself: would you rather remain in the Zozu family with all the shit an inch above the fan, or would you rather slip away and live your days under a new name? As it's turned out, you're gonna be looking over your shoulder your whole life even if you stay. I bet this thief ring you're supposed to hunt could use a talented bookie.
No. 471212 ID: 08005b

Unfortunate, I'm pretty sure red just needs some sort of guidance by his family, and a talk down, telling him he needs to pursue other. (and to get help.)
No. 471213 ID: c4e5c2
File 135276492356.png - (11.28KB , 700x700 , 519.png )

"I just ask the person who texted me, no doubt some messenger, thanking him and asking if he could get me some info on what the emergency services found on the security going AWOL. Turns out that once it was clear this was Zozu business, they handed investigation off to Zozu investigators, and that's not the kind of thing I'm privy to. Messenger does say I'm not missing out on much, though, it was a standard fare payoff for ignoring.

>Would you rather remain in the Zozu family with all the shit an inch above the fan, or would you rather slip away and live your days under a new name?
I'm not claiming to be happy with the Zozu family right now, but it's still my home. Plus, I'm not some natural at just disappearing, and the asteroid's only so big. Zozu doesn't like deserters, and they could probably find me.

>"What's up?" Jessica asks. She's not sleeping so heavy, now.
"Nothin', just getting dead end news. Goin' back to bed.
No. 471214 ID: c4e5c2
File 135276493327.png - (12.77KB , 700x700 , 520.png )

7 AM comes around. The alarm didn't go off. It really did malfunction. Jess and I scrape ourselves out of bed, when Malsen ends up at the door.

>"Hey. We got the lead on the thieves. Doubt you guys'll need to do much. We're just gonna roll in, get the gold, you count it, and roll out. You gonna be ready in a couple hours?"
No. 471215 ID: f2c20c

Sure, but ask for more details about the mission. How are you getting the gold, exactly? Is it just sitting around somewhere, or do we have to intercept it in motion?
No. 471216 ID: 8b9215


Bring any real guns if you have them.
No. 471221 ID: c4e5c2
File 135276607934.png - (10.85KB , 700x700 , 521.png )

"How are we getting the gold? Is it stationary or in motion?"
>"You probably don't need to know, but it's stationary. They should be holed up."
"Alright. We'll be ready."
>"Be outside, 10 AM, on the dot. Be back later."

>Bring any guns
Course we'll do that. Tazers too, because it won't hurt.

Malsen leaves again, leaving Jess and me around.

>"So what was Alia like, anyway?"
"Real nice. Educated and all that, real intelligent and nice looking. Claims to have been in the drug business." Not sure if I should say too much about her likely backstabbery.
No. 471222 ID: 70c0f2

Oh, forgot to mention: we chose the right side between father and son. The father may be a racist, unsympathetic misogynist, but that last bit of information made Malkata a premeditated accessory to rape.

>Ready to go in a few hours?
Yeah. Any info on where or how this is going down?

Grab your vest, your guns, your tasers, and a can of anti-seize compound from the garage.

>Not so keen on, or good at, disappearing.
Well, consider the idea. If things go down badly today, you may need to chose between disappearing and death.
No. 471223 ID: 8b9215

Rock on.
No. 471225 ID: ff7781

Isn't that part of the future we already know that is happening? I mean... http://tgchan.org/kusaba/questarch/res/463565+50.html#469791 . Why are we actually helping them here when we will have them killed anyway? I thought we could only change all just unknown things, not actually change future we witnessed
No. 471226 ID: f2c20c

Don't forget your protective vest, now.

Go ahead and tell Jess that it doesn't matter, you'll never see her again. She's gone, and you just hope she's really good at disappearing. That's part of why you were willing to tell Father Zozu the truth. That and, well, it was mostly just a fling. Maklata was wrong; you didn't fall in love. Maybe you would have if you had more time with her, but you didn't.
No. 471227 ID: f2c20c

The author has stated that if we send things in a new direction, we'll replay the events. We can get a better outcome.
No. 471228 ID: 70c0f2

>We can get a better outcome.
Hopefully, yes. Bear in mind that if the future is not fixed than we can also get a worse outcome if we screw up badly enough (say, we get Karri and co killed, and then Maklata kills our guys). So we gotta stay smart.
No. 471230 ID: 08005b

What is the likelihood of Malsen being your old school horn bully?
No. 471231 ID: c4e5c2
File 135276781276.png - (47.68KB , 700x700 , 522.png )

"Doesn't matter much though. She's gone, and I just hope she's good at disappearing. Let's get ready."

I get all the guns and tazers I can reasonably carry, along with my vest.

So we all end up in an envoy of tanks and trucks and the like. They didn't tell me the exact location, but we do end up right on the edge of that real rough as shit terrain that's hard to navigate after a pretty long 8 hour ride. Probably inside there a bit where it's hard to follow.
No. 471238 ID: c4e5c2
File 135276832311.png - (11.15KB , 700x700 , 523.png )

>What is the likelihood of Malsen being your old school horn bully?
Pretty bad, considering our horns stay pretty consistent to our size past the age of 4. Plus, they generally don't get 5 times as wide, in regards to both body and horns.

We end up just sittin' and twiddlin' our thumbs while Malsen and the others go ahead. Cept for Jules, he is in on the command of it all. He comes back with some news.

>"No one's there, we don't think. We found the hideaway, but it was blown up. Very recently, in fact. We don't know what happened yet, but a couple of Maklata's higher ups are pretty pissed off. We all should be though, but I'm just worried, considering the whole failure-not-an-option thing going on."
No. 471239 ID: e3f578

So how do we move on from here? Is there a second outpost Maklata told us about or do we have to search every nook and cranny for hints? Or are there tracks we can follow?
No. 471240 ID: 70c0f2

Oh, the stolen gold got stolen. That's rich.
I'm guessing Whiskers just got a hold of it. Now we have to wait for it to be handed off to Piles and escorted by Karri, I think.

Well, is there anything we can do, right now? Two things to look for are leads on who stole the gold, and an evidence that might better prove that Maklata was the one who put the gold here. Either might help keep us alive longer.
No. 471241 ID: b33427

"Blown up" as in cratered, gutted, holes in the walls, or just shot to hell? And how sturdy was the hideout? Get an idea of how much firepower whoever took it had.

How hid away was this hideaway, anyway? Pretty much no chance of random bandits or raiders? Only the raiders that hit the office should have known about it?

What kind of tracks, both foot and vehicle, were around the hideout? We got someone good at tracking with us? They better be figuring out where the folks that attacked this place went.

Get out of the vehicle and check what's left of the hideout for possible evidence of Maklata's involvement. Before any of his goons spot it.

Can't take too long here. Now that the gold is out of the hands of those who were supposed to hold it, it might get split up into smaller lots. And also the longer it's out there, the more likely someone will get the bright idea to melt it down to remove the Zozu markings, and have the time to do so. Even more than before, you're on the clock now.
No. 471248 ID: f2c20c

THIS is what Alia had her hands in. She was waiting for the heist to go down, so she and her team could yoink the gold after it was stolen. DOUBLE-THEFT. Remark on how ironic it is that the gold got stolen twice in as many days. Should we say anything about it, though? If we do, she's guaranteed to be hunted down by ALL of Zozu, not just Maklata. Do we really want that? I don't think we do. Let's just try to find the gold without saying she's in on it.

Ask if they saw any tracks or something. They sure didn't take the gold out of here on foot.
No. 471251 ID: 70c0f2

>THIS is what Alia had her hands in.
...that makes a distressing amount of sense. She was Whiskers' inside man.

Seconding not mentioning it aloud, though.
No. 471254 ID: b33427

Not on foot, no. But if they were using only hover vehicles, airlifted it, or used a drill tank, then things just got harder.
No. 471255 ID: c4e5c2
File 135277100660.png - (18.89KB , 700x700 , 524.png )

"So what do we do about it? Are there tracks, or do we dig?"
"There are tracks, but they may not last before they go to a main road, at which it wille be almost impossible to follow in the myriad of traffic. I guess we gotta dig it out. It was a hasty explosion, it's not like the place was caved in. You can help if you want. In fact, it'll look good for the whole token-of-good-faith bit."

So that's what we do. Eventually Jules finds a broken computer that was in the mix, along with a flash drive that ends up being protected. Everything else was pretty thoroughly smashed by the explosion.

"Think you can break it?" He asks Jessica.
>"Gotta take a look, but probably, just load it into one of our computers."
"You can break passwords, Jess?"
>"Um, yeah. I mean, as long as it isn't a completely foreign, entirely encrypted dataset, but these were one of ours, so we may have the means to break it. The fuck do you think I am?"
".... data entry?"
>"That was a temporary job."
>"Fuck, no, don't you pay any attention?"
"Hey, we weren't exactly best pals before Malkata swooped in with his 5 day plan."
>"Okay, yeah."

Jessica's able to crack it, and Jules' takes a look.

"Looks like they made a hasty escape to try and bail out and take the gold for themselves and melt it down."
>"Where are they going?" Malsen says.
"They didn't have escapeplans.txt right on the front of the disk, but they didn't erase history of the asteroid map usage. That's about all that's on this drive. The last mapped path was way away in sector 7. Normally I'd think that might just be a thing to throw us off, but sector 7 is one of the sectors that we hold the least weight in. Plus, they searched for a lot of gold shops and the like in sector 7, and it's the obvious choice to go for. Honestly, I don't think they're being clever, I think they're desperately trying to get away from us as fast as possible."

>Alia may have stolen it after Malkata stole and removed it from the Zozu headquarter zone
If this is the case, then this new data sure looks fishy.
No. 471257 ID: 70c0f2

>>Alia may have stolen it after Malkata stole and removed it from the Zozu headquarter zone
>If this is the case, then this new data sure looks fishy.
Well, yes, but that's just a paranoid hunch we have with nothing to back it up, and it doesn't tell us where to start looking. At least Jess has a lead.

If our future data is still valid, the convoy picks up Piles in sector 5, and then travels through sector 12 to sector 11, where the bar clusterfuck takes place. See >>/questarch/468668

We're in sector 8 now. Assuming sector 7 is adjacent to sectors 8 and 6, the gold could very well have passed through sector 7 on the way to Piles. I think Jess' lead could be legit.

No. 471258 ID: f2c20c

Wait, she's saying that a bunch of goons hired by Maklata betrayed him and decided to just take the gold and run? That seems incredibly stupid of the goons, and badly planned by Maklata.

Check the time signatures on it. It would make the most sense for them to have searched for places to sell the gold BEFORE they actually got the gold. If the time signature is, for instance, after 6 PM the day of the raid, then this might be fake. Check earlier map usage.

We need to be sure before we run off to some distant sector. If this is a diversion and we take the bait, we're fucked.
No. 471259 ID: f2c20c

Sector 7 is southwest of Zozu headquarters, while sector 5 is west. Refer to this map for nearby areas: >>/questarch/464343

It might be nice if we had a full map of nearby sectors!
No. 471265 ID: b33427

So the thieves came down with a severe case of the greedy-stupids due to proximity to so much gold? Well ain't that just fuckin' great...

Well, this could be a false lead, but it's the only one you have. Follow the tracks to the main road, see if they turn towards sector 7, and follow them.

Write up a status report en route on what happened and where you're going, and wrap it up in an encrypted package with a duplicate of the flash drive's contents to be further analyzed. You'll drop it at the next Zozu outpost to be sent back to Maklath and Father Zozu.

It's going to be a long trip, so try and get some shuteye. All of you, actually. Any booze in this tin can?

So Jess is the office hacker/IT security gal? Huh. Don't often think of neumono in that line of work, which is a bit of a bigoted thought, actually. Not like there ain't keyboards big enough for 'em.
No. 471266 ID: c4e5c2
File 135277314969.png - (187.26KB , 1200x1135 , 525.png )

I look at the timestamps myself. They're over the course of the last 2 days, but spiked up around 4-5PM as of yesterday, right around the time of the heist.

While at it, I take a look at the overall general map. Should be accurate enough.

These guys might be crazy stupid, or on the other hand, they mighta come to the realization there's a smidgen of possibility that Maklata's just gonna kill 'em.

>Drink booze and write up a status report to be delivered when possible
Will do.
No. 471268 ID: f2c20c

Looks legit, then. Let's follow that lead, since it's the only one we have. If we had other forces elsewhere under our command we could like, ask for them to check travelers passing between sectors... but we only have this one group.
No. 471269 ID: 8b9215

Report back.

"Nobody is here. Place is blown up. Only lead is a usb drive with asteroid map usage history. They were checking out sector 7. Checking for any places buying gold. We will wait for orders or permission to operate independently."

"I humbly suggest you look into who these people were, why Maklata knew they were here, and why they knew to leave so soon before our arrival."
No. 471271 ID: 70c0f2

Added Karri's convoy route to the map.
No. 471272 ID: f2c20c

On the other hand... well, we should at least ask what's in the opposite direction.
No. 471274 ID: b33427

Hey, Itcher, you know the gold better than anyone. How big a vehicle would be needed to transport the whole lot? 'Cause gold is heavy; More dense than lead.

It's going to need a pretty sturdy truck, with an enclosed cargo area, 'cause they don't want anyone seeing even a tarp covered shape that might be gold crates. If you pass a Zozu outpost on the way to sector 7, ask if they have recordings of the traffic passing through. You'll check back to about the time the thieves came through, and look for a truck that would fit the bill for their transport.
No. 471275 ID: c4e5c2
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"I got a report, by the way. Mind sending it?"
"Yeah, I'm taking care of it. I'll merge yours in with mine. Course, once we enter sector 7, we won't have radio link ups very often." says Jules.
"Tell 'em to look into who these people were, and why Maklata knew they were here."
"We're only able to report back through maklata's guys, man. They're on the other end of the line, and it's probably someone loyal that'll tell Maklata on us, so fuck that."
"Fine. What's in the opposite direction from 7 anyway?"
>"A shitton of bandit stopping points once we get out of our territory.Go far up enough, and you may get in the vicinity of Lander's port. Who knows, maybe that's where they're goin', just takin' the long way around.

>How big a vehicle would be needed to transport the whole lot?
Pretty big, but it wasn't like it was a warehouse fulla gold. Just a few good trucks made for heavy loads woulda done.
No. 471276 ID: c4e5c2
File 135277658529.png - (16.09KB , 700x700 , 527.png )

We wait some time. Real boring trip. Least we have cards and shit that work on the hovertank, and a couple other guys join in. They seem to be takin' care of things. Hour goes by when Jules comes in as well.

>"Well, Maklata's pretty pissed, as usual. Definitely not going according to plan. He's sending out more units to try and find 'em. Helicopters and all that shit all over the place now. By the sounds of it, Maklata's gonna use up the cost in gold just to get it back from what I hear he's sendin' out. He doesn't quite share a whole lotta confidence that it's sector 7, so he doesn't want to fuck this up before they get a clean getaway into any subterranean tunnels.
No. 471277 ID: c4e5c2
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We wait several more hours, spendin' the whole day doing this shit. Finally we get word that we got some suspicious individuals way off in the middle of sector 7 huggin' the southern cliffwall. By then, we're actually not too far away from that very location, so Malsen and Jules turn us off the beaten path to check it out.

>"That may be them. They got two whole tanks flipped over. Here I thought they may not've been complete dumbasses, but stupid fast do you have to be goin' to flip two fuckin' tanks at the same time." notes Malsen. "Us fighters are goin' out to do our thing. You sure you don't wanna practice your gunfighting, collector?"
No. 471278 ID: 70c0f2

...I'd figure the odds of them flipping two tanks are a lot worse than the odds that someone already attacked them. I don't think there's going to be anything left for either of us to practice on.
No. 471280 ID: c4e5c2
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"Looks like they already got attacked."
>"That's the cleanest fight involving tanks I've ever seen, then. Not even any smoke. Yeah, check it out, that tank is trying to wiggle itself back up with its turret.
"How many guys do we even have?"
>"30. Hopin' they didn't somehow get reinforcements, but I doubt it. We're gonna head out. Just you, Jules, Jessica, Lamarra and the driver. That cool?
No. 471283 ID: 70c0f2

>Just you, Jules, Jessica, Lamarra and the driver. That cool?
Those are the people being left behind in the tank, right?

Yeah, sounds alright. Good luck in there. We got your back.
No. 471284 ID: 6ba9fc

Sounds like you're all conveniently in one place and all of them are conveniently at another place if one of the tanks was to fire or something else happen. Either go with them or change vehicle once they leave.
No. 471285 ID: 37aa84

For such a well planned heist it seems like not a lot of thought was put into what to do with it after if they ended up taking incompetent drivers like this. See if one of them can be brought in alive for interrogation.
No. 471286 ID: 251fc8

Let's head out with them, could be a trust thing, could have a chance to get one of the fucks alive.
No. 471287 ID: b33427

Yeah, stay behind in the command tank with the rest. If Maklath is looking to get you or them offed out here, it'd be a damn sight easier, and more convincing, with "friendly fire" in a firefight, than getting a tank blown up.

Ask Malsen to try and capture at least one of them alive for questioning.

Keep the command tank and other vehicles circling to get good views on the fight, and not be stationary targets. Also have at least a couple of the other vehicles on watch for any opportunists that might try to swoop in from behind.

Could a few of them wear cameras as part of their comm-sets? Just so you and the rest in the tank have a video feed of what's going on.
No. 471288 ID: 0c2247

Where are the people Father Zozu was going to send?
Why does Maklata have the entire chain of command here?

"No, this is too fishy. Just send a squad to check things out.
Oh, and if this is legit then keep in mind they stole it from the thieves, not us. We don't have any beef with these guys, we're just looking where it went."
No. 471290 ID: 70c0f2

This is still Maklata's op. He doesn't know we sold him out. Boss-Zozu sent a few of his people along to keep an eye on things. The majority of the forces here are either loyal to Maklata, or normal house-Zozu forces unaware there's a power struggle on at all.
No. 471291 ID: b33427

Wouldn't this lot who flipped the tanks be the ones who stole the gold? I thought they cut and ran with it. There's no indication that another party has robbed them.
No. 471296 ID: c4e5c2
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"Where are father zozu's men, anyway?" I ask Malsen.
>"One of them is prepping to go in this tank, the others are in other cars, also starting to run in. I was just told that Father Zozu's men were just here on this group, every single spare unit that's been sent out is from Maklata."
"Alright. I'm goin' out at least. Let's try to get one of 'em for questioning."
>"Of course."

"I'll go with." Jessica says.
"You know how to fight, Jess?"
"Yes, you doof, I'm not fighting Red's out there in close quarter combat, I'll be fine."

We move out of the lounge room. Jules and Lamarro decide to stay. Right as we leave, the electric doors shut behind me, which is weird, but I hear 'em fasten and lock.
"Jules! That supposed to happen?!" Jessica yells.
>"It's soundproof when they lock." Malsen says. "Driver, the hell you doin up at front?!"

No response.
No. 471297 ID: 251fc8

It's a fucking trap.

See if you can phone Jules in there while trying to figure out a way to get in there and beat the ever loving shit out of the driver.
No. 471298 ID: e3f578

Wow, Maklata is stringing up Malsen too.
What a douche, he didn't even betray him. He's just a really professional man.
No. 471299 ID: 251fc8

Is the driver Maklata or Father Zozu?
No. 471307 ID: 70c0f2

>I ask Malsen.
Oh, he's on our side? I had assumed he worked for Maklata, since he was brought in with Red. Nice to have someone on our side.

>interior room door locks
Well, that isn't good. It could be a trap by Maklata, in which case Jules and Lamarra are in deep shit. It could be an automated trap of some kind (doors seal, bomb goes off) or it could be the driver is going to try and kill them.

Get to the control room, ASAP. The driver is either dead, turned on you, or lost control of the tank. It's possible you can still release the controls on that room and save your friends in time. Maybe Jess can hack it if the tank locks you out.
No. 471314 ID: b33427

Weapons out, everyone.

Try calling Jules or Lammara over the radio. If that doesn't work, try using the tank's intercom, if there is one. Failing that, just bang hard on the door once, and listen for a response. They're soundproof, but a direct hit will still transfer sound through.

Ask Jess if she knows how to crack a door like this. If so, she should stay behind and work on that. Otherwise she should come with you to investigate the driver's compartment.

Carefully move to the driver's compartment.

If there's something around you could use to wedge the doors open, get and use it on every door you pass. That way you don't get trapped.
No. 471319 ID: c4e5c2
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>Oh, he's on our side? I had assumed he worked for Maklata
It's no secret that Father Zozu's men are on this mission, it wasn't covert. I asked Malsen since he would know more than me, that's all. Dunno if I can trust him fully, but it'd be nice, professional and all.

>Phone Jules
"Jules! What's going on?!"
"Wait, what, were the doors not supposed to close?!"
"Goddamnit, I'll keep my phone on."

I go running for the driver's room, as does Malsen. Malsen yells at the driver again, but it's cut short when the door to the cockpit is slammed shut, too! It leaves me and Jess.

Before I even think to go out the front door, some weird sounding explosions come right from where the fugitives were stranded, and the front door slams shut with me and Jess.
No. 471320 ID: c4e5c2
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Jess and I get knocked off our feet when the tank juts forward, like the driver floored it! And within seconds, we end up dipping hard. I almost thought he ran us off a cliff, but it smooths out at a weird angle.
No. 471323 ID: c4e5c2
File 135278734414.png - (11.70KB , 700x700 , 533.png )

>Is the driver Maklata or Zozu
No idea, I think it was Maklata, not that it matters too much now!

"The fuck's going on?!" Jess yells.
"Don't know, Jess! Jules, know anything?!"
"We're fine, but we don't know either! The radio isn't responding! You okay?!"

The tank suddenly shakes a bit oddly, before Jules yells again.

"Fuck! Fuck, we are not okay, something just pierced the hull, and gas is comi-"

We keep on rolling down what must be the second main landing platform of the asteroid, least a hundred fifty feet down. It's gotten pretty silent now, with the soundproof walls and the quietly running tank.

"Itcher! Itcher, there's somethin' I gotta tell you, in case we're fucked. I just want you to know you've been a fucking great friend! I mean it."
No. 471324 ID: 251fc8

Kiss her, you fool.

But in all seriousness, get up and start looking for something, fucking anything that might help in getting the hell out of this mess.