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[IC] Fight the Power


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Monday, January 30th, 2017


The Boardwalk, South Freedom, Freedom City


11:05 AM




Leeroy Street was one of the less nice places in The Boardwalk. It was still nicer than many places further down south, but to people that knew the place, it stood out. Refuse Collectors generally had a pretty good idea of what happened in various places, how businesses were doing, where parties happened, and so on. Sometimes, it was still surprising just what the latest trash could tell about a place.



Today, Winter Snow, alias Synth, was once more assigned to the area including this street. At least it never got boring. So, after a while, the truck had arrived at the small street, lined with the less fancy establishments that somehow existed everywhere. A run down bar, an old movie store, and a few others, in similar condition.



This was the third week in a row that she’d been assigned to this area after the weekend. Perhaps it was starting to be a routine of some sort? Either way, everything went as usual, until she got to Scrapper’s, a bar of some sorts. They always had a fair bit of trash, and for the last two weeks, something had stood out.



The first week, there was a slight hint of blood in the trash’s smell. Nothing too strange, bars had accidents (and fights) too, so she had just noted it down as something that happened occasionally. Last week, the smell also was there, slightly stronger even. But this week? This week was different. It was still there. But it wasn’t a hint. It was more. The smell of blood was, at least to her, noticeable. Something was in these bags.



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Synth (Winter Snow)


Winter grabbed the bags and winkled her nose. She was dressed in the uniform of a refuse collector, complete with boots and leather gloves, her hair peeled back with a hairband. 


Benjamin "Breakfast" Bloom grabbed another two. He was a short, wide man, comprised of large amounts of muscle and a huge belly. He had a handsome enough face despite not a hair on his head and veritable explosion of hair on his jaw, giving him a massive beard. Winter and Breakfast often pulled shifts together and she had become friends with the man. It was said he had a dodgy past, and had been in more than one serious fight. He had a cool scar running over his forehead, anyway. 


"This one really stinks. What the hell do the do in Scrapper's?" she asked her friend as she held the bag of blood to her nose. "I got to know..." 


She put the bag down, and tore the bag open. They always had spare bags in the van, and bags ripped all the time. Breakfast and the other guys often "accidentally" tore bags to have a laugh at what was inside. 




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Breakfast just did his thing, taking the bags and putting them where they belonged. When his colleague and friend asked, he responded. Sure, it probably was a rhetorical question, but perhaps an answer would help regardless. He spoke as he usually did when on shift, slow, with a certain growl in his voice even when he was being nice.


“Think it’s just an average bar? Don’t think there’s anything fancy about it, probably survives off of regulars and tourists who get lost. Wouldn’t know anyth… whoa.”


His reaction came when Winter tore open the bag. At first, the stuff that spilled out was what one expected. A few napkins, a menu that appeared to be burned. But then, below that, there was something grim. First, it was a few sheets. Probably cotton. Originally, they were white, but by now there was a layer of blood on them. Wrapped around something, a short metal pipe judging from its look. The smell got a lot worse now that the blood was here, on the open air, and Breakfast instinctively dropped his two bags before stepping backwards.


“Scratch that. Whatever’s happening, I don’t want to know. “

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Synth (Winter Snow)


"Can't say I want to know either" replied Synth, whose nose was hit hard. "But guess I have to know now I'm here" she explained. 


"Look away, Breakfast. You don't want to lose those eggs and sausages from this morning" she said to the burly man. She shuffled to position herself between the sheets and her co worker. 


Carefully, she took off her leather gloves. Sure, her hands would stink, but nothing some bleach wouldn't wipe clean later. She needed to touch and feel. And smell. 


She reached out to the blood-soaked sheets, feeling around, and then smelling her fingers. Pretty foul, and pretty foul behaviour, But a year working in refuse collection and your perspective on these things changed. Then, she unpeeled the sheets, steeling herself for what she might find. Her hunch was, a murder weapon. But in freedom city, you just never knew what was tossed out in the trash...


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Synth didn’t have to tell that him that twice. As soon as she’d mentioned it, Breakfast turned around, looking at the wall. Whatever this was, he did not want to get involved in it one bit.


As for the sheets, they mostly were what they seemed to be. The touch proved that it was some sort of cotton. Cheap one, the sort one found mass-produced and sold in large quantities for cheap. Low quality, so it wasn’t difficult to tell. As for the blood, it was just that. Not fresh, it had probably been drying for at least a day, and was mostly a brown mess by now. The smell was as strong as ever, whoever had held it last had not made an effort of suppressing it. That thought gave her an idea. And as she smelled closer, there it was. Just barely noticeable, a bit of sweat, almost dry. But it had changed the texture of the cotton ever so slightly, which helped. Not the most usual sweat smell-wise, while that did not help much right now, perhaps it would become useful in the future.


Below the sheets, she found a fairly simple looking pipe. Narrow, and just the right size to make for a short one handed weapon. It looked rusty, somewhat old. And, perhaps most frighteningly, its ends suggested it had simply been ripped out of wherever it had previously been. Going down the surface of it, Synth’s touch paid off, as she managed to feel a few small indents. Ones that most likely weren’t natural, ones where the pipe hitting something caused tiny particles of metal to chip off.

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Synth (Winter Snow)


"Well, it's not bones and brains, Breakfast. Sorry to disappoint you. I guess you will have to wait till Lunch to eat" she joked. 


She quickly torn off a small strip of cotton and shoved it in a pocket. It would be good reference material. 


What had ripped that pipe off the wall? Something strong. Or maybe just a few guys with crowbars. But however you cut it, it looked suspiciously like it had been used as an improvised weapon. 


The police could no doubt put it under a microscope. But the police also asked questions, and Synth had no papers, and was most keen to stay off the Radar. Winter Snow, particularly. This was the first time she had kept down any kind of life for more than a couple of weeks. And she had friends. 


"Nothing to be worried about, Breakfast. You can turn around. Lets get this trash loaded up and have lunch at The Meat Mountain. That should get your spirits up. Ill buy the coffee" she offered. With her nickels and dimes, she could barely afford to buy him lunch, even at the cheap greasy smoky cafe called the Meat Mountain. Still, it was nearby, tolerated the stench of labourers and refuge collectors, and was even a good source of street chatter if you kept your ears open. 



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“Thank god. Bodyparts always are a ton of paperwork. “


After some more waiting, which gave Synth time to clean up what needed to be cleaned up, Breakfast turned back around.  He picked up both the bags he had dropped earlier, the loaded them up and waited for Winter to finish with her bag too. Fortunately, there were only a few more places to go, so lunch break would be a bit earlier than usual. Which meant the two could avoid the big rush, another benefit.


“Sounds good. I’ve not had a Mt. Burger in some time, let’s go. “


6:23 PM


The rest of the day had passed without major incidents. At one point, there was an issue with the labelling, but that was easily solved. So, after her shift had been over, Synth returned home. And, after having fully cleaned, it was time to head out once more. Back towards Scrapper’s. There was something here, and it looked like it was up to her to find out what!


As she arrived, the sun had already set. The Boardwalk itself always looked nice during evenings, but some places were a bit shadier looking. And Leeroy Street was chief among them. The lights of the two bars were burning, pushing through the windows. But apart from that, the street was abandoned. Pushing through the door, there was some creaking. And inside, it didn’t look much different than outside. The place didn’t seem to get a lot of action. But, at the very least, it was fairly clean. A few tables stood around the room, all of them empty. And in the middle, a bar. Empty too, it appeared, as a man, probably late 20s, put down his phone and stepped behind the counter. Other than him there was only one other person, sitting at the bar, halfway into a glass of beer, a few empty ones by his side.


“Welcome to Scrapper’s. What can I get you?”

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Synth (As ?)


Dressed in jeans and a black t shirt, her face and body changed, her hair short and platinum, her eyes brown and deep, Synth sat by the bar. 


"The cheapest beer you have" she said, with a little sigh. Truth was, the cheapest beer was all she could afford. 


"What's the deal here?" she asked the Barman, studying the scenery. "I mean, this is quiet, even for a Monday night" she commented. There was little to see other than the solitary man staring at his beer. He looked like he was trying to drown his sorrows. Probably succeeding, if she counted the pint glasses right. He probably had a story to tell, but it would probably be a sad or dull one. Or quite possibly both. Maybe she should hear it. But first things first. The Barman should know a thing or two. 


"What happened here? Someone get shot?"

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“One Beer, Coming right up. “


Once the order had been made, the barman seemed to cheer up just a tad. He carefully took an empty glass from under the counter, then walked over to tap. Not a whole lot of options, and judging by how slowly the beer streamed through, either there wasn’t a whole lot left, or the tap itself wasn’t working properly.


Either way, after a few seconds, the small glass was nicely filled, even showing a bit of foam on the top. The beer itself was a fairly dark yellow, and tasted rather average, nothing one would really remember afterwards.


“No, this is pretty average. We don’t get a whole lot of activity here. Especially not outside the weekends. “


The bartender seemed to take a closer look at Synth, perhaps judging her, and her intent, slightly. He tried his best to not make it too obvious, as he checked up on the other client, but it was noticeable on closer look. After bringing him another beer, he turned back around to Synth.


“Haven’t seen you here before. Not from around here? Or just new to the area?”

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Synth (as ?)


"No, not from around here. Sweden" said Synth, truthfully. The hair fitted anyway. Being grown in lab in the far northern reaches was the truth of it, but would be wisely omitted. 


"Just visiting. On a shoestring" she explained apologetically, having no money and letting a slight Swedish lilt creep into her voice. It may have not been the best cover, as it did link to her origins, but then the best covers were somewhat translucent. 


"How do you keep this place running?" she asked, a touch of insistence creeping in. "Goodwill and tips?"


She studied the beer tap a moment. Had it actually been used? If they were this quiet, how could it be empty? that didn't add up. Her nostrils flared taking in the scents, and she stroked the beer tap briefly, her super sensitive skin tracing the marks. Unintentionally (or at least without conscious intent) a hip beautiful woman stroking a bar tap lightly could be misconstrued....

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The Bartender looked quite surprised at the mention of Sweden. He walked over to the cash register and stored the money he’d gotten from the two beers, then returned to talking to Synth. He didn’t look particularly interesting; he was the kind of person that faded into the background well.


“Ah. We occasionally get travellers, but I think you’re the first Swede I met. What drove you to come over here to America? You have a pretty good English.”


Hearing more questions, he did his best to answer as well, all the while cleaning a glass.


“Pretty much, yeah. Just two people working here, plus the owner and his girlfriend. Apparently rent’s not that expensive, so the income we get from regulars is enough to not have to close immediately. Not sure how long it’ll go on though. “


The tap smelled like beer, that much was for sure. Not the strongest smell, and it matched with the beer she was currently drinking. It was somewhat fresh; it had probably only been there for perhaps a week. And yet, it was already getting closer to being empty. Touching the tap revealed that similar. It had been used a fair bit, either because it had been here for some time, it actually saw more use than one imagined, or some mix of the two.


Marks of glasses, held against the tap. Not enough to visibly see, but enough to feel. Even if, for the moment, she wasn’t entirely sure what that said about this place. Meanwhile, the bartender gave her a bit of a strange look, and even the other client had turned over to see what was going on, looking at her with some interest. The bartender felt like it was his responsibility, so he was the one to ask first.

“A Swedish ritual of some sort? I’d prefer if you didn’t, hygiene standards and all.”

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Synth (as ?)


"Yeah, Swede all speaking English the good" quipped Synth straight back. 


"Sorry" she added, withdrawing her hand. She could have run with the Swedish ritual thing, but best not to push it. 


Old tap, fresh beer. Except...it didn't add up, did it? A bar this empty, and yet the beer flowing freely. She had done a few bar jobs over the last year. No for long. But even so. 


It wasn't a huge amount to go on, but it still was enough to say something was up. 


She finished her beer. It took a fair amount to get her drunk, what with her liver processing every known drug and chemical at superfast speeds. The taste was tolerable, but hardly refined. 


"So what's there to do around here? What;s going on? I mean, this is Freedom City after all. I half expected jet powered gorilla cowboys and ninja robot pirates. Well, maybe not that crazy, but I heard there is always a mystery and a spectacle in Freedom City..."

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The bartender had by now run out of things to do, so he simply stood there, leaning against the support pillar in the middle of the bar, waiting. He didn’t look bored, it seemed he’d accepted this kind of work, and was not simply glad at least somebody else had showed up.


Synth’s question caused the Bartender to change his expression ever so slightly. Maybe he had seen something, maybe he was bored of always hearing the same question, maybe it was something else entirely.


“Chances are if you walk around, you’ll see a meta at some point. Usually pretty hard to miss, just follow the sound of glass shattering and explosions. But don’t get to close, trust me. If you want something more reliable, a bunch of them usually offer signing hours, or fan meetups, check the internet. “


“As for non meta related things…. There’s a few tours through different labs, if you walk a bit east you can find a bunch of casinos. Up north there’s the park, a lot of cafes, theatres and cinemas. So I dunno, depends what you’re into, you can probably find something here. Even if it’s not cheap, so that might be an issue. “

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Synth (As ?)


Well the barman was as useful as a chocolate teapot. 


She filled her stomach with the last dregs of her beer. "Good advice. Ill see what I can find. Don't want to miss anything interesting in Freedom City!" she said, slightly pointedly. Perhaps the Barman knew more than he was letting on. 


She scanned the bar. It was fortunate that it was relatively empty in some ways, although in others, not so ideal. 


Still, she waited for a moment. Until the barmans eyes diverted, to slip to the side, silent as a fox, quick as a snake, displaying the uncanny agility of Synth!


It was time to visit the cellars!





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Before long, an opportunity presented itself. The barman stepped forward from behind the counter, and returned to where he’d been sitting before Synth had arrived, a table about halfway between entrance and counter. “Okay. If you need anything, tell me. “ There, he pulled up his phone again, and within a few seconds, seemed to focus solely on that.


Perfect. With a few simple, yet graceful moves Synth slipped away from her spot, making no sound. Moving through the bar itself was easy too, up until Synth reached what, to her educated eyes, looked like the basement door. Opening it would prove to be a bit more of an issue. Fortunately, it wasn’t locked, as she could tell. But the hinges didn’t look too new, they’d probably creak if she wasn’t careful.


There was no time to waste, this was her only shot. Carefully, she pushed down the handle, and pulled the door open. There was no creaking yet, but she couldn’t risk opening it much further. So, she simply had to slip inside. A task that, to ordinary people would prove quite challenging, but was hardly anything special for somebody as skilled as her.


And then, she was inside. She carefully closed the door behind her, which left her in almost complete darkness. Perhaps there was a switch somewhere? One thing that stood out immediately was, much like earlier that day, the smell of blood, just a hint of it, hanging in the air, hiding behind layers of industrial cleaner … and booze.  

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Synth (as ?)


Her features changes once more, only slightly, but enough to be different. The crunching of bones, expanding and contracting over her face was a sharp pain, and she grimaced, eyes watering from the feeling. 


"Grrnnh" she grunted into the darkness as a darker haired, darker skinned woman walked down the stairs. 


She could barely see in the dark, for all her visual acuity. Her nose guided her better. That blood...again!


Silently she crept into the cellar, alert, every sense heightened and ready. She hoped her eyes were not necessary. She hoped the darkness would be her advantage, not penalty. It would at least conceal her...

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Walking around a dark room turned out to not be all that easy. The stairs were no problem, as soon as she’d figured out how wide on step was getting down the others was easy. The staircase wasn’t very long, probably about 14 steps in total, before she arrived in what probably was the actual basement.


It seemed to be a rather small room. Starting to her right, she began to feel her way along the walls. There was a simple metal shelf, it appeared to be empty save for a single closed cardboard box, that didn’t smell of anything. The metal itself was probably not very new, it had been in use for some times and occasionally things were stored here. Next to it, judging by its shape, a flashlight.


Further on, there seemed to be an open cleaning cupboard. A mop, a vacuum cleaner, and a few other assorted things. The mop was surprisingly new judging by its surface, and still held the smell of blood. The rest of the cleaning equipment was less interesting, just what one expected from a place like this.


Still, there was more blood in the air than came from the mop. So she felt her way along the next wall. It seemed to be empty, with nothing but simple wall surface. But then, about halfway into the wall, it’s surface changed slightly. It was fresher, had been here less long, if the fine changes in its texture were any indication. And, perhaps more troubling, this was where the smell of blood was strongest. A mundane person would, perhaps, have just barely sensed it, but to Synth it was very noticeable.

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Synth (as ?)


Synth pocketed the Flashlight, just in case. The darkness was comfortable to her, but that didn't take away the fact that she couldn't see. 


She could only conclude, from the smells and sensations, that blood had been spilt and somebody was covering it up. What was more interesting was that, according to her nose and the rubbish, it was being spilt regularly and in increasing volumes. 


She would have to risk it. As acute as her senses were, they were no substitute for good old eyeballs. 


Fumbling briefly, she turned on the flashlight and swung its beam over the surfaces that, until now, she had only felt. 

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The flashlight cast quite a big light, meaning that by swinging around, even if she hadn’t planned to, Synth managed to see almost the entire room. The parts she had already touched were just like what she’d felt. An empty metal shelf, probably bought at a local garden store, with a white cardboard box on it. Judging by the label, it was replacement parts of some sort. One of the things one usually found in basements like these, not too conspicuous.


The cleaning corner also was just what she’d felt. No big surprises there. Apart from maybe, the very garish colours of the equipment, but that was hardly worth paying too much attention to, right? Swinging the light over to the other side, the one opposite of her, she first saw the stairs leading down into the room, and then a few steps further, two more shelves. These weren’t empty, instead containing a fair amount of beer, enough to fill the tap to the top at least twice. Some other alcohol as well, but less.


The third wall wasn’t anything spectacular, just more empty shelves, whereas finally, the one she stood next to, offered the most. It looked just like a plain wall, yes, but there was more. Running down the surface once more, there was a sudden break in the wall, between the two surfaces. Something that suggested this wall had more to it, and on closer inspection, there actually was a slight gap, just barely noticeable, running down the entire wall and over, like a door of some sorts.

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This could only be a secret door! Like in those old medieval castles in old black and white films. Well, she only had a black and white TV, and it only showed old films. Kind of interesting reflection on society. 


She put the flashlight to the ground, its beam still on, a trail of light on a dusty floor, illuminating her from below like some appropriately spooky ghost image. 


She just needed to wedge the damn thing open. She concentrated a moment, her synthetic muscles altering, swelling, stretching and ripping her clothes, and like a sack full of footballs, she got her fingers into whatever crack she could find...and heaved, exerting her strength with calm and forceful measured breaths. 




Edited by Supercape
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It took a fair bit of effort to get a good grip on the door, it wasn’t as easy as sometimes shown in the movies, especially with only a narrow gap. But, after a few seconds of trying, Synth managed to get good enough of a grip. And thanks to her muscles, it only took a few seconds more to get the door to open. The first few inches were the most difficult.


But after that, she managed to get a nice gap by just pulling. Opening it fully would probably make it pretty difficult to hide it afterwards. Which could’ve been a problem, if not for Synth’s skillset. She opened wide enough of a gap to make slipping through a trivial manner, then did just so.


Behind the door, it was similarly dark. And, from what Synth could tell, there was no light switch next to the door. She’d brought the flashlight along, so that wasn’t too big of an issue. And as she turned it on, what was revealed was both interesting, but also perhaps a bit disappointing.


The room was fairly big, enough to probably house quite a crowd. Its main feature was the centre of the room, a pit of some sorts. About three feet lower than the rest of the room, about 12 by 12 ft. in area. Placed above, on its edges, were two simple construction lights pointing downwards, probably also bought in some sort of garden store.


Both of them were connected to what appeared to be a generator in the corner of the room, and a wooden table was set up next to it, completely empty. The rest of the room was empty. Running along the walls were a few pipes. And, perhaps the most important thing it the room, one of said pipes was missing a part, probably ripped out and currently replaced with a smaller, plastic one.

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Synth (as ?)


Her clothes torn at legs and arms, she focused a moment to slip her muscles back into default mode - which was pretty normal (rather than soft as liquid or swollen like rocks). They required little energy when normal, a nice comfort for her. 


This was, surely, the missing jigsaw puzzle. Somebody had ripped out a pipe and disposed of it. 


the most obvious explanation she could think of was something was in the pipe - maybe something hidden away. 


There was also one obvious course to take. 


She tore off the remains of her denim jeans, wrapped it around her hand (wouldn't help to get scalded), and lithely jumped up to the pipe. Placing her feet on the wall, and one hand on the original pipe, she took a goodly grip on the replacement and tried to tear it off...

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The pipe was a fair way up. Once more, probably a problem for most people, not for Synth. (A recurring theme this evening, it seemed). From a closer look, the pipe wasn’t particularly well placed to begin with. It had simply been crammed into place, with the torn open metal still poking through in some places. And, perhaps worryingly, it seemed as if this had caused whatever was flowing through the pipe to leak slightly.


A gas of some sort, which just escaped in a few minor places. Audible only when up here, and even then, just a bit of noise, noticeable only thanks to the almost complete absence of anything else. It was a risky move to tear out the pipe, depending on what this gas was (which Synth wasn’t quite sure just yet, there wasn’t much streaming out.


Here went nothing, then. Ripping out the pipe (once more, one could say), was easy. It had just been put there, probably as a temporary measure. With a bit of pressure, it loosened to the point where just pulling it out on both ends was possible. More gas came streaming out, but it still was a rather small amount, not a huge wave as Synth had originally expected.


The pipe itself, unfortunately, seemed to be just that. There was nothing inside it. Maybe the metal pipe had been used for something else, and there still was the issue of the origin of the blood.

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Synth (As ?)


After examining the pipe, she tossed it to one side, a hint of irritation creeping in. 


Still, investigation was a process of elimination. Or so she had read. Trouble was, she was no detective - at least, not really. 


She toyed, briefly, with the idea of calling the police. But what would she say? So far there was nothing actionable - as far as she could tell. Just some blood, some more blood, and lots of blood. But no way to tell where it came from. 


She pointed the flashlight down both end of the pipe she had just sundered; just to make sure but without much hope, and sniffing at the gas to see if she could place it. Whatever it was, she was disinclined to light a match, just in case. 


There was, she reasoned, a way forward. A stakeout. Presumably if she had ripped out the pipe somebody would come looking, and might shed light on the matter. 


And so, steeling herself for what might be a cramped few hours, she jammed herself into the tightest, best concealed corner of the room...

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The pipe seemed to work as intended, empty. The fact some gas was still streaming through probably meant something wasn’t quite working, but that, more than likely, was just equipment malfunctioning. As for the smell, on further analysis, it probably was some sort of propane? Not entirely healthy, all things considered, but not too dangerous at these miniscule amounts.


Finding a hiding spot wasn’t all that easy. The room didn’t really offer any furniture to hide behind. Still, after some twisting and turning, she managed to get into one of the room’s corners, where people coming in would, at the very least, not see her immediately. And then, the wait began.


Stating that it was one of the most boring experiences of Synth’s life probably wasn’t an understatement. Nothing happened, and nothing continued to not happen. She did her best not to make a sound, as she continued to wait, and wait, and wait…


And then, finally, something. A quick glance at her time-telling device of choice told her that she’d been waiting for a good 6 hours. It was shortly after 1 AM, probably the bar’s closing time. There were footsteps, off in the distance, coming down the stairs. Judging by the noise, it was two people. They seemed to walk around the storage area, putting something away, when suddenly, both of their footsteps stopped, as they began to speak. They were quiet, but not quiet enough. Surprisingly, neither of the voices was that of the bartender from before.


“What’s that? Why’s the door not closed?”


“No idea. Must’ve broken last Saturday and we didn’t realize. I’ll get it fixed by tomorrow, so they don’t see. And next Saturday I’ll have somebody make sure nothing else gets broken. The pipe was one thing, we patched that up, but this? This is serious, this could reveal it all. “


“I can change tomorrow’s shifts around so you’ll have more time, that way you can get in some sleep.”


“Thanks. Shouldn’t take too long, but let’s do it tomorrow then, if I stay out longer wife’s gonna complain. “


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