An Offer You Can't Refuse

Sy leaned over the railing at the edge of the Spire's garden. The sun shone bleakly through a veil of rust-colored dust, not giving much warmth or comfort. The horizon was little more than endless city skyline, but the tip of a red mountain could be seen in the distance. She could hear the sounds of the city below her, an irregular murmur of vehicles, shouting and occasionally a bang that could be fireworks, but probably wasn't. Overlaying this were the sounds of demonstrators at the foot of the building. There were fewer now than on the day of Zulu's ceremony, when the crowd had covered the street entirely. Now, there were few enough for Sy to focus on the familiar background sounds of the city. The noise made her feel strangely homesick. It wasn't like the slums were an enjoyable place to live, but it had been simpler. She knew her place there. That was more than she could say about the Spire.

Stepping outside of the Spire, Piper shot a sly glance to Romeo. It felt good to be out again, she was looking forward to getting back to work. The feeling was fleeting, she was met with not only the usual inundation of tech, but with the sounds of protests. People carried ugly signs bearin even uglier words. Piper let her arm brush against her Alpha, a silent comfort that as always, he was there. She made eye contact with a few of the people holding picket signs, and could near feel their rage oozing into her pores.

Besides the shouts and chanting of protest, something had happened, she could access the news now that they were outside. Some sort of shooting, details were still coming in. Automatic weapons, shooters, several of them, there was a lot of coverage of that. In between streams, she tried to access the word Vaxis and so far was coming up mostly snake eyes and dead ends - it was simply a lot to take in at the same time.

“Focus.” Romeo gently nudged.

“There was a shooting.” She said back to him. “OCON Communications building.”

“Fuck…” the Alpha replied. “Do they know why? What happened, who it was?”

Piper shook her head. “No, but they’re all dead, the shooters are all dead, that’s what the news is saying.”

“We’ll watch it tonight,” he promised, putting a protective hand on her back to lead her away from the protesting crowds at the gates. “Let’s find Sy,” Despite his Frosty demeanor, Piper could tell that he was a hair trigger away from suggesting tear gassing the lot of ‘em.

There weren’t many places outside the Spire to be, but they found Sy in the garden. The Spire boasted a few green rooms, indoor areas all the Neo, even the unbonded could enjoy. The largest was on the grounds, that’s where she was with Blue when Sy first pinged her. Blue. Eventually she’d have to get used to referring to her as Jaiden, just like Pyria had once been Snow Owl. “That’s a good spot,” Piper called to Sy. “That mountain looks a lot closer than it is. Me and Romeo have been all over the city, never once came close to it. Pyria was asking for you. She’s got a car waiting, I’m sorry we can’t come.” She pointed between herself and Romeo. She smiled encouragingly. “But I know you’ll be back soon. You have to - I’ve gotten used to saying everything out loud.”

“Thank you for that.” Romeo teased, tugging on his own ear as if it’d been chewed off. Piper cocked a hand on her hip in mock indignation.

"A car?" Sy said confused. She hadn't left the Spire since she'd arrived, and the sudden news gave her an unexpected jolt. Truth be told, she hadn't been entirely sure she was even allowed to leave the place. It felt almost like a quarantine in here. In a way it was. "Where'm I gon' go?"

Piper tilted her head, "Pyria spoke with you," she confirmed. "About making an appointment with Takaishi for today?" She briefly scowled. "And I have to work on sugar coating." Pyria was waiting in the car, Piper surmised, outside of the Spire herself, allowing the two Neo to communicate. "It's not like Takaishi can come here," she smiled.

"Maybe if we shot'im twice in the back?" Sy offered and smirked. "Worked fo' me." She cast her eyes to the sky for a moment. "She said there was gonna be a meetin'. She didn' say I was gon' come along. Nor that I was s'posed t'be drivin' on outta here fo' it. Weird feelin'." She looked down. "I dunno whether she wanted to protect me or surprise me or what, but by now I'd really like t'know what all this's about. I know you know," she said, looking at Piper and holding up her hand. "Y'don' hafta say anythin'. 'S up to Pyria right now. An' this She'Ying dude." She walked past Piper, hesitated, turned, and gave her a peck on the cheek. "Y'all take care now, sister. Reckon I be back soon." She patted Romeo on the shoulder. "You too, big guy."

“You’ll be fine.” Romeo waved as Sy left, his confidence unshakable. “We'll be here when you get back.” He assured her. “She's like a Neo going out for the first time … remember our first mission …” Romeo mused to Piper with a broad grin.

“Like it was yesterday.” Piper snickered with a sheepish grin of her own. “So young!”

"Y'can hold the flirtin' 'til I'm outta earshot," Sy called amicably over her shoulder. She looked back for a moment, feeling a strange melancholy. Everything had gone so fast. It was barely a week since she'd been carried out of her apartment, but it felt like a lifetime due to the sheer amount of things that had happened since then. Now, leaving the Spire felt like a frightening undertaking. But she knew she'd be back soon, and her stomach was fluttering with excitement as well as tense with agoraphobia. She raised a hand in a wave, flicked a salute, and walked through the triple doors that sealed the balcony garden off from the Spire proper.

As she walked down the steps to the Spire's exit at a trod, the excitement was starting to win from the fear. She didn't know much about She'Ying, despite having a view of the Domes from her apartment. But at the very least, she might learn something useful over there, while all she learned here was that Neos could gossip with the worst of them and Alphas were more competitive than anything. She stepped out onto the landing platform. A car was floating just above the surface, the passenger door open. Pyria smiled gently at her from the far seat and gestured her inside. As she walked over to the car, Sy noticed the sounds of the protestors were much louder here. She sat down and pulled the door shut. “Hey,” she said. “So… want to tell me what this is all about yet?”

“Same thing we discussed earlier. Consult with Taikiashi see what can be done.” She reminded. A pair of young Alpha pups sat on either side of her, both eagerly watching the windows, taking their responsibility seriously. “I thought it would be better if you came too, since you know the technology.” Pyria paused a moment. “Also I thought you might like some time out of the Spire. I can’t imagine the dramatic change it must be for you, particularly being cooped up in one place. Or did you mean the protestors?”

"Piper filled me in on those," Sy waved away. "Dumbass people shiftin' their anger to what they don' know 'cause they scared. Sorry, Pyria." She ran a hand through her hair. "But regarding She'Yin, as I understood it, you had a meeting or a phone call or something on the day of the funeral, so I reckoned they must have at least some idea of what to do with me, else they wouldn't invite some random slum rat into their domain." She looked out of the window. The city was gliding by in a hurry, gleaming blocks of glass momentarily reflecting sunlight as they sped past. "I'll always be grateful for what the Spire did for me," she said quietly, still staring at the speeding city. "You saved my life and gave me a new home. But the way things stand now, I'd be coming to a standstill, merely lounging around the Spire. I still need to find my dad, and I can't ask you all to help me, you're all spread thin as it is. If She'Yin can get me a step closer to that, I'm in. If not…" She trailed off. The domes were coming closer, but she was staring at a dilapidated concrete block outside the city limits. As they passed it, she could see one window broken, a poorly attached sheet of plastic covering part of the opening. She wondered whether the whole place had been looted yet. "I can't keep losing the path," she finished, as much to herself as to Pyria.

The car shuddered to a halt on a platform outside Dome 3. Sy got out and stretched. As she turned to Pyria, she gave her a melancholic smile. "You're right about one thing though… It's good to get out once in a while."

“I think you have to do what is best for you. I simply hope that it means we continue to work together.” Pyria said stepping out of the car, flanked by both Alpha pups.

Sy walked around the car and linked her arm into Pyria’s. “I’d like that too,” she said, and smiled at her. “Now let’s go and see what those mad scientists are cooking up in there.”

((Joint post with Garden's Tale, Winters & Blitzen ))

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