Derrot Yard

In the world of the net, was there really any reason for an operator or navi to make their graveyard look forlorn, spooky, or otherwise unappealing? And yet, here it was: Derrot Yard, an eerie locale that looked like it would be perfect for a Halloween party. The sky of the net holds perpetual darkness and clouds, blocking a full moon, such that the yard's grounds are all illuminated by lanterns at each corner. The lack of light makes it difficult to read the inscriptions upon any grave.

Today, the graveyard is oddly active: many visitors roam the grounds, conjuring to mind either the aforementioned Halloween party or a bunch of zombies. Eidolon might have a pretty good idea why activity today is more than usual... With so many navis, however, it's nearly impossible for her to pick out any of the figures who were offering her missions. Thankfully, the one she was looking for in particular was easy enough to find, as there certainly couldn't be too many navis at the west side of the graveyard dressed in yellow and red.

The navi was a short girl with an attractive cheerleader's figured, wearing her black hair in a short ponytail. Her outfit consisted of a snug red and gold checkered navisuit, covered over by red boots and gloves. The tone of her skin and relative thinness of her eyes made it seem likely that she was designed to fit an Electopian image.

Perhaps more interestingly, it looked like she was holding hands with a big, hunchbacked man in black armor, wearing giant steel jaws all over his body. The most notable was the one that stuck out of his helmet, looking like a giant pair of teeth. His breathing was loud and raspy as the two of them stood there and pretended to be paying respects to whoever's tomb they'd stopped in front of.
[Natural.GMO activated]

A ghost, of sorts, visiting a graveyard. Even Eidolon could appreciate the irony. Even so, as she stepped onto the grounds, she looked like any other visitor. An ordinary humanoid navi, wearing a midnight blue dress and heels. Her hair, just like in her normal appearance was an odd reddish-gray mix, but it was hardly the strangest thing anyone had ever seen on the net. Her eyes weren't glowing like they usually did either, although they remained their normal colors: white irises and black sclera. Okay, so perhaps she was still a little unusual, but as she looked around she could still tell that she wasn't the strangest navi on the scene.

Her eyes fell on a very large, armored navi towards the western end of the graveyard, wearing what appeared to be steel traps all over it. Yeah...definitely not the strangest. Although, right next to the armored navi...

"That didn't take long," Eidolon thought out loud. Sure enough, there was a navi dressed in red and yellow standing next to the steel jaw navi, and she seemed to be the only one bearing such colors on the grounds. Or at least, on this side of it. She had only given the rest of the graveyard a cursory glance. Enough to notice an abnormal number of visitors, but not to remember the details of each and every one. Still, either it was quite the coincidence, or the steel trap navi had come with the red and gold. A bodyguard, then? Or an assistant? Or maybe steel trap was the one who had submitted the mission request, and red and gold was just speaking for him.

Well, whatever was going on, Eidolon was likely to find out soon enough. She approached the navi in red and yellow, staying far enough away from steel trap to hopefully avoid any accidents if she ended up surprising them. "Are you the one I'm supposed to be meeting with, then?" she asked quietly.
"You must be Eidolon, then," the brightly colored navi replied. "My name is Novelty; I'm an NP Prosecutions officer. My nasty companion here is TrapMan, an ex-Mafioso. You may be wondering why our hands are stuck together. That was an accident, I assure you," she sighed, "but one that's given us a rare opportunity. We have resources that we can offer him in exchange for his services as a mole... he pretends to have abducted me instead of the other way around and we learn useful mafia intel."

"Who's to say I haven't abducted you? We're both equally trapped. The difference is that I can't actually go back to my organization..." he muttered from beneath his heavy helmet.

"If you want to get your way and have NP protection, please continue to be my abductee," Novelty countered. "But, for the sake of this plan, we will need to be his abductees. You see, TrapMan provides us with a unique opportunity here. Bury, the groundskeeper, regularly deals with oddball Mafioso like him. She is likely to provide him a favor, free of charge. We will need to follow alongside him and pretend to be his captives, so that nothing is suspected."

"And in return, I want you girls to get into it, just like if I was controlling you myself! Keheheh!" TrapMan cackled. He might rub his hands together, if he had the ability to do so.

"... He's a pervert but he's only into voyeurism. Guy and girl... girl and girl... it doesn't matter so long as he watches. Guy and guy?" she asked dubiously, but he shook his head irritably. "Okay, so it matters a little. Anyway, I hate to ask you to do that with me and I'm no bigger on it than you are, I assure you. But it's the only way go get his cooperation on this."

"The other factor is that we can get whatever we ask for... but we have to know what to ask for. Before we do anything else, we need one of two pieces of information: what navi data the mafia is picking up or who is expected to pick it up. We'll have to work really quickly to make sure the mafia doesn't get the data before we can... but at least I don't think they know the sort of time-sensitivity pressure they're under. Hopefully, we can learn what we need to by eavesdropping. We may be able to learn information from either the mafia go-for or also, I hear a world news server reporter is somewhere around. There may be other options as well."

"But we don't go anywhere unless you girls get hands-on. I can be a very stubborn asshole," the ex-mafia informed them.

"Yes, be patient. Did you have any questions before we start? Remember that we are on limited time," Novelty asked, pressing her free hand to her hip. She seemed like she might be acting more official than she wanted to, just for the sake of providing some credibility in the face of a really incredible situation.

That was...not exactly what Eidolon had expected. Her eyes shifted between the woman called Novelty and the appropriately-named TrapMan, trying to judge if the former was actually serious or if the whole set-up was some ridiculous prank. She wasn't quite sure what exactly they were expecting her to do, but it wasn't hard to guess. Which brought up another pertinent question.

They wanted her to do what?

Still, that answered the question of whether she would need Icaro's help on this mission with a very definite 'no', at least for the moment. She could handle this. Probably.

" 'into it' are you expecting me to get?" she asked, somewhat reluctantly. She wasn't going to refuse. Probably. Admittedly, her objections were mainly on the grounds that...well, no, that wasn't important. And she certainly didn't need Andrew asking more prying questions than he already had been. Her freakout upon meeting Anyis's dead husband was something she wished her young operator would just put behind him. It wasn't any of his concern, anyway. And, for that matter, neither was this.
"Sounds like she's agreeing! Kehehe...krfffhggg..." the armored navi wheezed, sounding too delighted to be inconvenienced by whatever awful terminal illness was giving him a cough that bad. "Well, you guys have to put on a show good enough to imitate wearing my trap gloves. But remember, Novelty can't move one of her hands from mine. That means she's probably going to have to pretend to be clingy with me," he shrugged. He was apparently a strict, hardcore voyeur, just as advertised. "For the kind of service I'm giving you girls, I expect no less than a triple X lesbian makeout. I want you to use your hands like you're exploring, kiss like you're eating each other, maybe tear each other's clothes off-"

Novelty's face was already red and she waved her arms do make him stop, causing his own arm to be yanked around as well. "Don't listen to all that! He doesn't have the leverage to make crazy demands of us. For the purpose of the mission, it should be fine to just give off a rough suggestion that our hands are being controlled," she interjected.

"That's bull! You know that when I control women I don't do it halfway," TrapMan grumbled.

"Yes, I do, but nobody we are likely to meet knows you well enough to know you'd get turned on watching two strangers make out in a cemetery," she replied, sounding increasingly irritable. "Anyway, let's just make it up as we go along. Having foresight in this situation is useful, but only if we quickly seize upon the opportunity."

Despite saying that, Novelty didn't seem ready to jump into pretend make-out bondage. TrapMan thumped her on the back (or more like the shoulder, given that he could only move his arm so far) and reminded her what she needed to do. Hesitantly, the NP officer looped one arm around Eidolon's waste in a familiar but not exactly bawdy gesture. "Now you!" TrapMan encouraged his new acquaintance.
Hooooh boy. This was quite a situation she'd gotten herself into. She wasn't going to back out now, but wow were TrapMan's demands high. Eidolon wasn't even entirely sure that she still knew all the moves for a show like that. It had been a long time since she had any kind of intimate contact. Not since falling into Andrew's possession, at minimum. Add in the spotty, broken memory, and she really wasn't sure what was and wasn't still there. It seemed like she was, as Novelty said, going to have to make it up as she went along. Do what felt right in the moment. Stuff like that.

Of course, there was also the hope that Novelty would take the lead. But that seemed less and less likely once Novelty started protesting TrapMan's demands. Her reluctance was expected, but far from comforting. The idea of getting into it with her like that just felt...creepy. Like Eidolon was doing something horribly wrong. least she was in her normal-looking GMO at the moment.

Deciding to take this slow at first, Eidolon leaned in slightly as she felt Novelty's arm around her. She slid her own arm around the police navi as well, then turned her body in to face her. Lifting her free hand to Novelty's face, she gently stroked Novelty's cheek. "Just relax," she said softly.
Novelty tried to relax, but had a hard time doing so, given that she was naturally a fairly uptight person. She looked aside, then quickly back to Eidolon with a stern expression. "A-Alright... But remember... we don't really need to focus on this that much. TrapMan doesn't have a lot of leverage. So just enough so that we look like a couple," she whispered to Eidolon.

"I heard that! I'm tethered to your arm, remember?" TrapMan wheezed. Indeed, it was pretty much impossible to get out of earshot of him. "If you girls don't do your part, I may just lose my cool and reveal that Novelty is an NP agent who's captured me. The night will be a lot more... kekekekrrrrgh.... pleasant if you girls do your best acting. Who knows, maybe the two of you will start to like it before the night's over? Kekekeke!"

"Even if I did, I think carrying you around would sort of ruin it," Novelty sighed, making a pretty decent point. "Anyways, let's get started. Remember: we can't approach Bury, the groundskeeper, until we know what data to ask for. To do that, we should find the mafia agent or the reporter to learn more. Once we have that, we'll approach Bury. It's important that we stay in the character of the two of TrapMan's slaves throughout this mission, or else, Bury or the mafia agents will know what's up."

"Also, if we happen to see one of the Techari bigwigs, I'm bailing, right away... those guys will know I'm on the run and kill me on sight. I doubt anyone else in the Mafia knows that I've sold out, though," the steel-armored ex-mafioso murmured in his low, breathy voice. "And Bury's only kind of related to the mafia, so she definitely won't know unless you guys fail to act your part and tip her off. So, you know, be convincing!"

"Right. Okay, that's the recap... let's get started. There's no time to waste," Novelty explained, beginning to move the ragtag group along.

She wasn't progressing with the makeout bit much, which TrapMan evidently noticed. "Aaah! This gravestone belonged to an old NP member!" he announced, speaking louder than he should. "Do you remember that officer, Novelty, since you're a member of-" To shut him up, Novelty leaned in closer and placed her head on Eidolon's shoulder with a soft smile, trying to look as lovie-dovie as possible. That did work in keeping him quiet, at least. While she was thus employed, she also took a look around the graveyard for the contacts they were trying to meet up with. She wasn't able to recognize anyone right off... A big iron jaw came around behind Eidolon's head, sitting near to her free shoulder. "Hey, look over there. See that really stiff looking guy in the white coat? That's TaxidermyMan, one of my old Techari buddies... He's really low on the totem pole, though, so he probably hasn't heard the news yet. We can try to pump him for information, if you want," he offered.

The man in question was standing perfectly still with one fist to his chin, so still that he looked like he might be a statue. He wore a long, white jacket and had a pleasant looking face with dreamy blue eyes, but couldn't really be considered handsome, seeing as he appeared perfectly frozen in space... worse, there was a giant, indiscreet mounting pick sticking through his chest and coming out his lower back, attaching itself to a circular base beneath his feet. It was questionable if he could even move like that. He looked about as animated as the angel figurine on top of the grave he was inspecting, but he wasn't turned in their direction.

"We could... it's risky though, since he was one of your close associates. Should we wait it out and look for another information source, or do you want to engage?" Novelty spoke quietly into Eidolon's ear (or ear area).
"It's fine," Eidolon whispered back, uncaring about the fact that TrapMan could still hear them. She gave Novelty a reassuring smile, something that came surprisingly easily as though she'd done it many times before. But she couldn't remember where, or when. Oh well, that wasn't important now. "If we're stuck doing this, we might as well try to enjoy it at least a little bit" Things would get a bit...weird if Andrew happened to walk back in and see the PET display while they were still acting lovey-dovey, but the chances of that happening were slim.

She still didn't get too into things just yet though. They were still going to have to ease into things, and Novelty needed to be able to talk to explain their task. Find a mafia agent or the reporter who'd also requested Eidolon's aid, figure out what data they needed to ask for, then approach Bury. And watch out for top Techari guys. That part went without saying, although Eidolon doubted that Novelty and TrapMan would be around at all if there was much chance of them showing up. They were...probably safe, on that front. But if they did show up and TrapMan bailed, she would probably have to do the same.

Then, once the explanation was over, TrapMan apparently took notice of how little Novelty was doing to follow his demands and very nearly proved that he was more than willing to abuse what little leverage he had. That caused Novelty to rest her head on Eidolon's shoulder. In response, Eidolon slid her hand up to gently stroke Novelty's hair. She turned her head to plant a soft kiss on Novelty's forehead, but gave a sidelong glance towards the navi TrapMan pointed out. Her first thought on this TaxidermyMan was that he looked more 'dead' than she ever had. Was pumping him for information even going to do any good?

...No, more importantly, that was a risk she couldn't afford at the moment. On the off-chance that he knew that TrapMan had bailed, they could end up having to fight their way out. Without Andrew around, Eidolon would have a difficult time of that. "Mm...that's not a risk I'm willing to take without my operator backing me up. I would rather not engage him until we have no other options."
Novelty frowned but didn't protest this time; it seemed like thinking about enjoying it was just going to make it more awkward for her, but then, she couldn't disagree that their acting would suffer if they thought to much about how vulgar the situation was. She managed to correct that expression into a smile as her hair was stroked, turning a bit red as her Eidolon parted her hair out of the way and kissed her forehead. Having been attached to TrapMan for quite a while, apparently, she probably hadn't been romantically involved with anyone for a long time, if ever. The NP officer was undoubtedly struggling with some confusing emotions right now.

TrapMan was watching intently (or at least he seemed that way since he'd finally gone silent for a moment), seeming more satisfied now. "No good, huh? I don't blame you, I don't really like talking to that guy either. I tell ya, it's the ones that act the friendliest that you've got to watch out for," he shuddered, speaking as if he was a wholesome and admirable person to the girls he was blackmailing into acting like an enamored same-sex couple. "Let's keep looking... we should be able to find someone else..."

This had to be the most traffic the graveyard had ever had, given all of the people they were passing by as TrapMan and Novelty looked for another suspicious character. It wasn't like a crowded city street, but there were enough people to make their grouping slightly less suspicious than it ordinarily would be. "Over there... I recognize her. She's a famous reporter," Novelty whispered into Eidolon's ear. The fact that everyone was basically forced to huddle together was useful for the purpose of easy, secretive communications, at least. "Her name is Inky. I can't think of why she'd be here other than to investigate a scoop... It could be related to the handoff. If we can get her to spill what the package is, we can probably use TrapMan to go gather the package from Bury. Otherwise, if we can learn the idea of the mafioso who's making the pickup, we can call in the NP and intercept them."

"That'd ruin my relationship with Bury, though..." TrapMan muttered in a discontent whisper.

"... What relationship?" Novelty asked. She was either curious or suspicious, but it was hard to tell from her tone.

"Professional," TrapMan hissed in response.

"Oh. Well, I think we should definitely see what information she has. You agree, right, Eidolon?" the NP officer asked.

"Pet names. Call each other pet names! I demand it," TrapMan interrupted, sounding angry. "But... wasn't there something about that GNA reporter? I heard she's kind of..."

"She does have a reputation for being deductive and thorough..." Novelty murmured in a low voice.

"I was going to say 'kind of a bitch,' but yeah, that. But you know what? We can still do it. It's just going to be important that you girls act very, very controlled by a puppet master that wants you to act like horny lesbians," the ex-mafioso explained enthusiastically. "Let's do it! And remember, pet names!"

Novelty sighed and waited to see if Eidolon would agree, suspecting that Eidolon might be hesitant knowing that the reporter was especially known for her snooping nature. The reporter in question was currently involved with reading text in a hologram window, paying little attention to her surroundings. She had the air of one who was already doing something important, rather than one who is waiting for someone else to arrive.
A process in Eidolon's mind started up as she started to grow more accustomed to Novelty's close proximity. It protested, whining in words Eidolon could barely understand. So incomplete as it was, even the process itself was weak, broken, and incomprehensible. But there was that word again, the one that had brought forth an unwelcome and unfamiliar memory once before. It wasn't hers, she told herself afterwards. There was no way she could live with herself if she'd forgotten something like that.

And indeed, it wasn't. The process protesting now was not her own, but a piece that had been added later. And with that memory trying to resurface again, a name spelled itself out in her normal mental processes. Redline.EXE. There were two possibilities to what it could be, but the images of red wires that accompanied it narrowed it down to one. Redline.EXE was the missing name.

She had been with someone, it seemed. Eidolon had to assume that from the unwelcome voice and memories. Someone that Eidolon had...well, that wasn't important. She wasn't Redline. Redline was just a fragment who had been used to "fix" her. Unsuccessfully, at that. Indeed, she would have to talk to Andrew at some point. But not about what he wanted. Rather, she'd need to ask him to stop...somehow.

But that was for later. Right now, she needed him to stay gone.

She didn't go too much farther with her affections while Novelty and TrapMan mentioned the reporter. She continued to run her fingers gently through Novelty's hair, shooting more sidelong glances towards the reporter navi. Inky, was it? Come to think of it, hadn't Inky sent in an offer to the GNA as well, along with the mafioso? If she'd gotten more information on each before choosing one, she might have been able to use it to her advantage, but as it was she only had a pitch and what they were offering. Kinda like how she'd taken this offer with no idea she'd end up so close to the rather beautiful NetPolice agent.

"Mmm...she knows something's going down, or else she wouldn't be here," Eidolon said. Her voice was uncharacteristically soft and affectionate, no doubt a sign of her starting to get more and more into her 'role'. "I don't know, sweetheart. I'd rather not deal with too many prying questions, but if our only other option is dealing with the mafioso, we're better off with her." Just so long as this didn't end with her being the subject of an article about a NetPolice agent's new girlfriend. Or worse, about living navi ghosts.
For a moment, Eidolon was not present, her mind whisked away to a past relationship, perhaps a real relationship, or at least something a lot realer than the game of pretend she was playing with TrapMan and Novelty. Soon enough, she managed to return, perhaps aided by TrapMan's cackling voice. "Kekekeke! You're getting into it, huh? That's good... the less you think about it, the better it looks," the tall, masked navi wheezed happily through his iron jaw. It seemed he was misinterpreting Eidolon's momentarily vacant behavior.

Novelty smiled shyly, moving her hand up and gently rubbing the small of Eidolon's back. "I agree... honey. Let's figure out what she's looking for. We might be able to benefit from some give and take, too," she suggested. "She's no reason not to cooperate with the NetPolice, after all."

"Except she won't think she's cooperating with the NetPolice... you're my captive, remember? Khrrrgh," TrapMan reminded her, before coughing into the air, thankfully angled away from the girls. "Not that it matters. She's a reporter! Reporters don't play politics, they just want a scoop. They've got even less principles than us Mafia, kekeke... Wouldn't mind getting her with another of my cuffs and making this a three-way... but I've got my hands full." If the comment wasn't so gross, one could laugh about the fact that he was actually excluding himself from the party.

Inky, the reporter in question, was a lady of a height slightly greater than Novelty's. She almost blended into the black and gray scenery, being that she was similarly monotone from head to toe, only different shades of black and gray. Her jet-black hair, shoulder-length, was combed very neatly, with only one curl out of place at her forehead betraying that it was anything but naturally straight. Her skin was a lighter gray, with serious eyes; the pupils were fully black in color with almost no shine to them. Her black lips were shining; they'd probably be red, if she had any actual color to her. The blazer and skirt she wore were fit close, accenting a pleasant figure somewhat similar to Novelty's, but leggier in exchange for less round bottomed-ness.

It would have been hard for her to ignore TrapMan and the two girls approach regardless, but Inky was clearing watching them out of the corner of her eye. "Interesting... an NP officer and... I don't know the other two of you. Mind introducing me?" she asked, turning with her arms crossed at her chest.

"Kekeke! I'll handle the introductions. These two are my captives... they don't have names unless I allow them to speak," TrapMan grinned, presumably, behind the permanent iron grin of the bear trap covering his face. "My name is TrapMan. Pleased to meet you... I'd shake your hand but both of mine are occupied right now," he snickered.

"Charmed. Don't think that just because I'm a reporter I have no integrity," Inky murmured, going from black and gray to suddenly red and pink. "I don't have to intervene, but I don't have to want to talk to you either," she scolded in an authoritative tone.

TrapMan breathed heavily and noisily while thinking what to say next; his face remained hidden, so it was hard to tell his reaction. "Information exchange, then... I'll tell you a little about my captives here and in return, you tell me about why you're here. There's got to be something going on... pretty girl like you, place like this..."

"Fair enough. I am at a bit of a dead end right now. However, forgive me for saying, you don't inspire a lot of initial trust. Can your captives speak for themselves? I'd rather get the story from the horse's mouths," Inky responded, turning her head slightly to look at Eidolon and arching one eyebrow. Novelty kept quiet and rubbed Eidolon's back pleasantly (unless Eidolon wasn't one for such touches, in which case it would just remain awkward).