Chapter 16:

Chapter 16: Reunion



Nyk’s head was spinning, and there was a ringing in his ear. Wait, no, that was Lulu’s voice, crackling over the communicator.


He snapped awake, looking around frantically as he remembered what happened. That’s right, he’d fallen through a hole in the floor again. But this time, the Synchro Suit had spared him the brunt of the fall. His body ached, but nothing was broken.

“I am awake…” he muttered. Lulu stopped screaming for a moment, before entering another tirade.

“Good. What’s the matter with you?! Why weren’t you looking where you were going?! Why didn’t you listen to my orders?! If you had just done your job, you wouldn’t be in this mess! Are you even listening?!”

He wasn’t. With the pounding in his head, her screeching was the last thing he needed right now. He tried to stand, but the shaking ground made that hard. It was like the whole place was threatening to come down! Was someone using heavy weapons somewhere? The shaking stopped after a moment, but before he could get his bearings the familiar crack of a loaded gun drowned everything else out.

“Don’t move.”

The voice was cold, stern, and familiar. Nyk whirled around to try and confirm his suspicions, but apparently this far down in the Towers there weren’t any lights. He turned on his suit’s spotlights and the room lit up, revealing his accoster.

His heart leapt in his chest. It was Mysha! …And she was aiming a gun at him. She sat propped against some rubble with a rifle in her hand and a scowl on her blood-covered face. It was the worst he’d ever seen her, her clothes were torn, and her leg was bent at a painful-looking angle. The only part of her that wasn’t shaking was her finger, held steadily against the trigger.

“Told you… not to move…”

Nyk opened his mouth to call for her when Lulu practically blew his ear off with her shout. “Don’t tell her anything, you got that, Slum Boy?!”

“B-But…” He switched to the private microphone, so Mysha wouldn’t hear anything he told Lulu. “But it’s Mysha… and she’s hurt.”

“I don’t care. She’s not important right now. What’s important is finding your way out of this pit,” Lulu snarled.

Nyk told her to go fuck herself. She was important to him.

He set down his guns and held up his hands. “Hey, listen-“

“I’m warning you!” She shouted, shaking her gun at him again. “You take another step, and I’ll blow you away.”

“Listen, I’m not going to hurt you!” Nyk cried. “I’m a Scavenger, like you. I just fell down here, that’s all. Is that what happened to you?”

“…Yeah,” she muttered. “Fucking clumsy…”

Wow. Mysha actually cursed? She always got mad at him for using words like that.

“Look, I can help, as long as you don’t shoot me,” he offered. “I have medicine. In my bag. It might be able to fix your leg.” The medicine Lulu had given him was from the city, it was stronger than anything on the market in the slums.

“Don’t you dare give her any of my medicine!” Lulu warned. He really wished he could shut her up.

“You’d really… do that?” Mysha asked incredulously. “Are you an idiot or something? Putting you’re your guns, offering me medicine… you know I could just shoot you and take it, right?”

“You wouldn’t do that.” Nyk smiled behind his mask and took a step closer. “You’re a good person.”

Mysha scowled. Then she sighed and lowered her rifle. “…Well, I’m not going to turn down a helping hand. But you better not try anything.”

“I won’t.”

Nyk knelt down beside her and slung the pack off his shoulder. He dug around through the supplies Lulu had prepared, and found a packet of pills. He offered her one and she popped it into her mouth without hesitation. After wrapping up the cut on her forehead he applied a salve to her leg and prepared a splint like he’d learned as a kid. The bone was already starting to repair itself. City medicine was really something.

“That’s… really good, oh yeah,” Mysha groaned, sitting up a little straighter. “Damn, dude, you’ve got the good shit, huh? That’s city-quality.”

What was with her today? She was never this foul-mouthed.

“I’m glad it’s working,” he said, sitting down next to her. “You’re feeling better?”

“Yeah, at this rate, I might be able to walk again in like an hour, maybe less.” That was a relief.

Now that everything had calmed down and Nyk had a chance to think, he couldn’t believe what had just happened. What were the odds? He went to go see Mysha back in the slums, then changed his mind and avoided her instead. And now he ran into her in the Tower?

“I’m Mysha, by the way,” she offered her name, having no idea that they’d known each other for years. “What about you?”


“Don’t even think about it,” Lulu cut him off. “Just say Puppy or something.”

“I’m Wolf.”

Mysha blinked. She burst out laughing. “Really, you’re going with that? How can you say that with a straight face?!”

Nyk was grateful she couldn’t see how embarrassed he was. Lulu was practically in hysterics herself. What was he supposed to do?! It had just come to him! It’s not like he was an expert at names!

“Sorry, sorry,” Mysha said, sobering up. “Thank you for saving me, Wolf. But why did you do it? That medicine couldn’t have been cheap, to use it on someone like me…”

Of course she’d think that, she had no idea how much she’d done for him over the years. “Of course I would help you. You were in trouble. It’s what people do.”

Mysha looked at him like he’d just sprouted wings. “…Huh. I guess you city folk really are a different sort, huh?”

The city? She thought he was from the city?

“No, that’s wrong,” Nyk said quickly, shaking his head. “I’m… I’m from the slums, just like you.”

“The hell you are, with armor like that? I’ve seen some pretty advanced augmentations before, but that suit’d blow ‘em all away,” she said, shaking her head in disbelief.

Shit. “Lulu, what am I supposed to say?” He asked her privately. Lulu was already pretty displeased he’d said this much.

“Just… tell her you have a patron. Don’t say anything else.”

“What’s a patron?”

“Why the fuck do you care? Just tell her already, this is looking really suspicious!”

…She made a good point. He cleared his throat and tried to explain. “This suit, I… have a patron, that’s why I have it.”

Mysha stared at him. “…What’s a patron?”

Lulu groaned in his ear. “Oh, forget this. Just say exactly what I tell you, okay?”

Nyk parroted Lulu’s explanation. “I’m a Scavenger working with someone from the city. They’re the ones footing my bill by purchasing this equipment. In exchange, they get a cut of my rewards.”

That… wasn’t too far from the truth, actually. Why did he even need to make up a story, then?

Mysha nodded, apparently accepting that answer. “Makes sense, I guess… I suppose there are Scavengers of all kinds with… sponsors and shit. So that’s why you’re down here, huh? To find some relics for this ‘patron’ of yours?”

“Yeah, something like that. But why are you here? And without a team to back you up?” Where were Axel and the others? Mysha was a lot of things, but she definitely wasn’t reckless.

She answered with a sigh. “I have a team, actually. Great bunch of folks… but they’re back in the slums, keeping watch.”

“Keeping watch?”

She gave him a confused look. “I guess the news hasn’t come out everywhere just yet… last night, a Sentinel came and attacked the slums.”


“WHAT?!” Apparently Lulu was as shocked as he was.

“Yeah… I killed it before it could do any damage… left it right in the center of town. Whole place is probably panicking right now,” she sighed.

“But that’s impossible, Sentinels don’t ever leave the Towers!”

“No kidding. That’s why everyone’s freaking out. I had my teammates stay back and hunt the streets, to see if there were any others. Meanwhile, I came here myself… just supposed to be a quick scouting mission, grab a few relics to pay our way for the next few days while we sort out this mess, but… got myself in a real jam.”

She flashed him a smile. “Luckily, you showed up.”

Nyk felt himself blush. He’d helped her. After all the time he’d spent being useless, he’d actually managed to do something to repay her. Still, he couldn’t believe that someone as skilled as Mysha would have done something so…

“You shouldn’t have been so reckless!” He blurted out. “What if I hadn’t showed up? You might have died!”

“Fair point,” she admitted with a sigh. “Still, couldn’t exactly prepare for the ground to open up on me like that.”

“It was still reckless!”

“God, what are you, Axel?” She groaned. “I get chewed out enough by that big lug… if I was trying to live a long and healthy life, there’s better things to do than going into Scavenging, you know.”

Nyk didn’t like the way she laughed when she said that. He was having trouble believing this was really his Mysha. The Mysha he knew was never this careless or reckless, she was always vigilant and prepared, working perfectly with her team.

“…I’m amazed you’re still alive,” he admitted. She flashed him a smile.

“What? I don’t fall down holes all the time. When I’m with my team, we gotta be careful, after all. Otherwise… we might lose people.” A shadow crossed her face as she said that. He wondered if she was thinking about him.

She quickly continued, “but when it’s just me? Then I’m free to explore to my heart’s content! That’s the real fun of coming here, after all!”

“Fun?” Mysha thought being a Scavenger was fun?

“…I guess that’s not the right word,” she said with a sheepish laugh. “It’s just… that’s what it’s all about, you know? Coming to a dangerous and mysterious place like this, hunting for treasure… it’s like I’m exploring a brand new world. I guess that’s how I’ve always thought about it, anyway.” She scratched her hair with a rueful smile.

Nyk remembered Axel’s words to him in the bar. About how everyone had their own reason for becoming a Scavenger.

“So that’s yours…”

“Hm? What was that?”

“What? Oh, nothing, I was just surprised at your reason for becoming a Scavenger, that’s all.”

“That’s fair. So what about you?”

“Huh? What about me what?”

She raised her eyebrow. “Why did you become a Scavenger? I mean, if you’re working with someone from the city there must be a pretty good reason, right?”

Her bright green eyes were staring right at him. Like Dyna’s eyes, they were full of honesty and interest.

The words just slipped out.

“I want to be stronger.”

Mysha blinked. “Stronger?”

“I-I… I’m not… a very talented Scavenger,” he admitted. “I make a lot of mistakes, like… falling down that hole. Honestly, if it wasn’t for my equipment, I probably would have died a long time ago. And when I think about that… I feel sick to my stomach. I don’t want to have to constantly rely on powerful guns, or armor, or stuff like that, I want to be strong on my own.”

That was what had brought him back to Lulu last night. Because she was the only one who could help him. With the Synchro Suit and her support, a future where he could become a skilled Scavenger was in reach.

“I think I understand what you’re saying… but I still don’t understand why,” Mysha murmured. “Why is it so important that you become a stronger Scavenger?”

He stared into her eyes. As he did, he saw Dyna’s face, and Rowan’s, as well.

“There are people… who’ve helped me. Even though they didn’t need to. Good people. If I become a better Scavenger, then maybe I can help them, too. Pay them back for everything they’ve done.”

“Ugh, that’s the sappiest shit I’ve ever heard,” Lulu groaned in his ear. He ignored her. Mysha was nodding in agreement, and that’s what really mattered.

“You know, Wolf, you might just be the last decent man in the slums,” she laughed. The tone she used made him wonder if that was supposed to be a compliment.