Chapter 26:

Some News and a Drink Request


Her vision was hazy and her consciousness was faint, but Lily still had her last memories before fainting earlier.

A thin young man wearing a gas mask hit her with a taser while Amy was shot by the rushing guards, and that was it.

Lily had failed to uncover the mystery in time and all should've been lost when she noticed how she was inside a VR machine, but that was wrong too.

Shots and crashing noises permeated the broken periods between awoken and fainted the woman's body was having until only silence came.

The next she noticed, her body was set side-by-side with three others, which included her assailant and the man she thought was the true evil behind it all.

She could also see the girl that should've been dead moving away from them.

An explosion marked the last rush of conscience as she, once more, saw the pink girl moving around.

This time she was even carrying her while climbing up a hole in the ceiling.

She fainted again before she could understand it though and, the next one, she was already behind a safety bar with firefighters rushing around.

Once more, after a while, she saw the pink girl running with them.

She was carrying people away from the building and pleading to the men in red to help as she kept on pushing to, at least, move the more than a dozen fainted humans in the underground.

In the end, she did much more than only that, and, while more explosions were happening and the building slowly was covered in flames, even some of the VR inhabitants were rescued.

Lily fainted once more before the situation could stabilize though.

Getting up sometime later, she instantly registered the flaming building sinking into the ground as emergency doctors helped the more than a hundred wounded that were set around.

She could also see the pink girl with an utterly exhausted complexion trying to smile at the people thanking her.

There were even reporters moving around by now.

The last she saw was the armored vehicles and the riot droids arriving to deal with the non-citizens lying around the area.

Next up, she was inside an ambulance, but Amy was there too.

She seemed to be arguing with the person taking care of Lily though.

Something about how she would not allow sending her friend to some storage center just because she knew too much.

There were also talks about brainwashing and how some higher-ups were angry with the lack of concrete data about it even when there was a lot about undoing the process.

It was too hard for a wounded person to understand though, and Lily just slept again.

Eventually, she woke up for real though.

Her wounds were healed perfectly and even the damaged parts of her body were back to normal, so the detective thought some days should have passed, but she was soon proved wrong.

No more than a few hours had gone by and, more than that, she wasn't even in a hospital.

For some reason, Lilianna was inside the El Democrat as it had its open hour moved to a little later this day.

Amy was by her side and Hazel soon came by too, but there was something weird there...

It didn't take long for Lily to discover what it was though.

And she soon fainted again for a different reason than before.


El Democrat’s television was displaying a very damaged building that seemed to be sinking on the ground while a man presented the news related to it.

This one case was an abnormality though since what was being present was news with some few hours of age already.

“…the internet had theorized that this was another corporation war, but specialists have assured that it's just a theory. All facts point to the whole disaster being caused by a faulty irregular rector and several overcharged machines…”

A schematic showing an animation of what was believed to have happened with the reactor’s explosion appeared on the screen.

It also had depictions of the energy overcharge and the secondary explosions.

And it ended with the whole building sinking to the ground.

“Luckily for all inhabitants in the area, just one of the cells of the reactor failed and the building was resistant enough to absorb most of the damage. The headquarters of the biggest company of Miskaria will be soon lost, but the deaths were minimal.”

The program continued by reporting the illegal non-citizens working at the building that had fled earlier.

In specific, how they were subdued and deported back to the lower levels.

After that, it went to the major casualties, which included the company’s president and a few shareholders.

While it was happening though, the idol sprawled on the pub’s counter could only point out in her mind how many errors this broadcast had.

“Could you not create a better story, Boss? This one is just dumb…”

As usual, Hazel was readying his business to the patrons that would be arriving in a while and was busy.

Even so, he stopped to answer the girl, although only with a fraction of his focus.

“What you wanted me to do, little lady? You even called a gunship this time and there were half a dozen cops with destroyed droids there too. There’s nothing we can do to explain well all that chaos...”

“But I had to convince so many of them still...” Amy complained while remembering the cops and fleeing workers she had to ‘convince’ about what had happened. “I lack the energy to do this much in a single day."

“You still have a show to make and you have to deal with that detective friend of yours...” Hazel noted after refilling the drink storage.

“Do I need to really?” The idol tried to ‘puppy eye’ her way out of the trouble, but it wouldn’t work with this one target.

“Either that or we use the standard way... Your weird policy is what makes dealing with witnesses more troublesome, so deal with it." Said the barman while fighting his headache. "We could use those VR machines too now that we’re trying to collect and disable them, but Lilianna would have to go to the same place as the others.”

With Amy's report on the VR machines, an effort to recover as many of those machines as possibly started.

Their organization lacked the information to use them and had to focus on countermeasures instead though.

More than that, a good number of victims in unreliable condition was recovered, so all of them had to be dealt with too.

Most of it was the idol's fault in reality, even if no one would ever be able to prove her arm-twisting.

If it wasn't for her, the few hundreds of victims and witnesses would have been 'dealt with' instead.

“It is not my policy alone. We have a contract, you see?”

“A contract made purely by our goodwill and pureness of hearth and not by coercion for sure…”

“I am a prim and proper idol, you see? Coercion is not one of my skills.”

“Yes, yes, whatever you say... You should be the only person around who could strongarm a whole organization into something, so let’s pretend it was an equal agreement.”

“It was! And I almost forgot…” Amy got up while the news was still going on in the background. “I demand a danger fee on this last work! You sent me to a simple data swap and then to a low-risk bodyguard job and not to be targeted by a maniac with insider information.”

“You ‘demand’? Weren’t you someone who doesn’t use coercion?” Hazel raised an eyebrow in answer to the words of his little operative.

“If I simply asked, you would give my extra fee?”

“Of course not! Do you know how expensive dealing with this whole chaos was already?! They may cut this branch’s funding if we keep spending too much.”

There was a little pleading in Hazel’s voice as he thought about the absurd number of zeros on his last funding request, but Amy wasn’t having any of it.

“I do not care! My perfect little self was wounded this time and I even had to fight, both actions that...” Amy’s eyes suddenly went away from her boss and back to the TV as a certain figure appearing on the recordings caught her attention. “Oh! Look! They are showing me there. Finally, some recognition!”

Her bird's attention span left whatever argument from earlier and went to the pink figure being shown on the TV.

The coverage of the disaster was now focused on the local idol that selflessly saved many of the victims.

It was showing Amy’s figure as she carried some groups of people outside the falling building.

“…from what our reporters managed to gather, this little lady was an entertainer called to the VR party that happened earlier today. As any can see though, her work wasn’t just singing as it seems." The local reporter said in the recording that had happened earlier this day. "When she first left the building, the local firefighters believed there was no one to save inside anymore, but they were wrong. From what we were reported, she ran around saving people from the moment the reactor failed to the point the building ended.”

A recording of Amy pleading with the man keeping the perimeter around the building was shown and then it skipped to her carrying people outside while still smiling.

This much was enough to make the girl, in real life, almost kiss the screen with how close she was to it.

“Thanks to this unexpected pink hero, the number of citizen casualties ended in just a few dozens and several minor explosions could be mitigated. We couldn’t find much about the girl herself though. All we found was that her name is Amy Wright and she’s a self-styled pub singer who sometimes does street performances. Citizens like her are examples of how good a person can be…”

Amy's beaming happiness died a little as she heard the words from the newsman, in special the ones about casualties.

And even before the program finished, she turned the TV off and returned to the pub’s counter.

“What happened, little lady?”

“Aw! It is nothing, Boss… Just something minor, you see?” She smiled back at the preoccupied man. “Can you get me a drink? Something nonsensical just a drunkard would dare try.”

“Are you sure?” The barman answered with confusion.

“I just got a little moody, you see?”

Her expression and tone were back to normal after that small slip during the news and there seemed to be nothing wrong with her request.

Hazel still knew that it was weird though.

Amy would only accept drinks that tasted like sweets, to begin with.

Either way, he learned in the last months that there was no way to pry around this pink idol, so the burly man just complied with the request.

Soon enough, his prosthetic hand was holding a filled glass of almost transparent liquid to the pink girl.

“Most workers fled before the explosion, so I believe I moved almost a hundred people away. I tried to make the firefighters move as many VR machines as possible too, but that was much harder...” She took the glass and glared at it for a moment. “Still, that place had a couple of thousand people inside, you see?”

She then downed the liquid that tasted like alcohol and nothing else in a moment and then sighed.

“Reporting just the ‘citizen’ casualties is weird, is it not?”

“What would be the point of doing more than that, little lady? It’s not as if those others mattered to the city in the end... The ones related to them wouldn’t even be able to see the news, to begin with.”

The pink girl smiled at her boss’ words while returning his glass and getting up from her seat.

“Who knows? It is just a little of drunk rumbling, you see? Nothing one should care about…”

As she was returning to her room to solve one of the last bits of problem she still had though, the idol stopped and gave some final words to Hazel.

“About that extra fee…”

“I know, don’t worry about it. I’ll add the sum to your wages later…”

“No need to. Just get me an interview and a good venue for a show and you can ignore it.”

“An interview and a venue?” The man asked to be sure. “You’re not planning to say something you shouldn’t, right?”

“No, no, do not worry about it.” Amy dismissed with amusement in her voice. “Secrets are to be kept and I am not such a justice warrior to bother myself too much…”

The girl resumed her walk towards the backdoor of the pub as she was saying so as if she considered her request good as done already.

“Can you tell me why you need a venue though? Just riding on your recently got ‘hero’ title won’t do much when everyone will forget all this by tomorrow…”

‘Five minutes of fame’ was indeed a literal idiom in the current world, but a proper idol wouldn’t need any kind of boost to fill her first proper show.

And if there was something like a proper idol in this world, Amy would be this sole existence.

“Hahahaha! Do not fret. Temporary fame is useless to me, Boss…” She laughed at the barman’s words before answering his question. “All I need is a proper place to a new song and a proper place for a real debut. I cannot manage more than a couple of thousand viewers, so pay attention to it.”

“As long as you don’t cause too much chaos, it would be cheaper than your ‘small’ fee...” Hazel answered with the numbers rolling on his head. “I’ll wish your luck by then too.”

“Thank you, Boss. See you later…”

With her requests ended and rested enough to continue, the idol waved a temporary goodbye to her boss and finally left the pub.

Once again, she walked to the deepest end of the building and the door of her room, knocking on the door after slowly opening it.

“I know I have a lot to explain, Lily...” She said the moment her first feet touched her simplistic room with two massive VR machines. “All would be much easier if you could stay calm.”

And on top of her bed, bound by ropes and gagged since she wouldn’t give up on reporting everything to the internet, there was the dark-haired detective in her barely-holding-out party dress.

She was obviously not even a little happy with the situation though.

Dalion Alteri
Steward McOy