Chapter 29:

Epilogue: Aftermath and New Possibilities


Nyk was lying in another strange bed. He stared up at the bright ceiling of his private room, in the most expensive hospital the slums had to offer. While it couldn’t compare to the treatments possible behind the wall, staying at a clinic like this was something that he never could have imagined in his old life.

Of course, Lulu was footing the bill. It was almost the best work money could buy, and he was well on his way to making a full recovery after all the injuries he’d sustained in the battle for the slums the other day.

That day… all the Sentinels just left. Was it because of what I said to Ashilda…? Did I somehow convince her to let us go? Cooped up in here with nothing better to do, Nyk had been worrying about it for days. What was going to happen now?

A knock on the door brought him back to reality.

“C-Come in!” He fumbled, sitting up in bed. His face brightened. It was Mysha! But she was looking a little more taciturn than usual. If he didn’t know any better, he’d say she was embarrassed!

“…Hey,” she greeted him with an awkward wave. “They, uh… they said you could finally have visitors now, so…”

She awkwardly held up a basket of fruit; Nyk was surprised by how few brown spots there were, it must have cost a fortune!

“…Thanks.” It was nice to see a friendly face.

Mysha walked over and set the fruit basket beside his bed. Neither one of them said anything; considering how things had gone the last time they’d seen each other, it felt really awkward.

“So how did it go?” She finally blurted out. “You know, um… with the City Defense Force?”

Nyk sighed and slumped back in bed.

“…That bad, huh?”

“They interrogated me for ten hours straight, you know?”

“Well, you DID kind of run away from an officer against orders. You should just be lucky you’re in a swanky hospital room and not a cell.” She cracked a grin. “Speaking of, since when did you get friends in such high places?”

He let out another sigh. “It’s… a long story.”

Silence fell again.

“…So you were Wolf, huh? The whole time… that really was you?”


“And when you gave me that medicine for my leg… then too, right?”

“Yup, that was me.”

She thumped him on the head. Nyk sprang up in shock.

“Hey! I’m injured here! What was that?!”

“That’s for being a lying jerk!” Mysha huffed. “Why didn’t you tell me?!” She thumped him once more for good measure.

“It-It’s not that simple! I couldn’t just-“


“Stop hitting me!”

“Fine, fine,” she sighed, lowering her fist. “Look, I’m not going to pressure you for an explanation or anything like that, so you can relax. I’m just glad you’re okay.”

“Mysha, I… I did want to tell you, it’s just… it’s complicated.”

She smirked. “Since when did you learn a big word like that, hmm?”

“H-Hey, I didn’t learn everything from you, you know!” He huffed.

Mysha let out a long, exaggerated sigh. “Oh, well… I suppose the days where I was your whole world are long gone, huh… what a pity, now I feel like a big hole’s opened up inside me.”


“Tell you what!” She snapped her fingers. “When you get out of here, you can buy me a drink, okay?”

“Oh, uh… yeah, I’d like that,” he smiled.

She grinned back. “And then you can tell me all about this ‘long story’ of yours.”

He nodded.

“Oh, my, are we interrupted something?”

Nyk turned to see Rowan and Dyna at the door.

“No, not at all, come on in,” Mysha said, stepping aside. Dyna rushed over and sat down beside him, her face filled with relief.

“You’re okay,” she sighed, the tension draining out of her body. Then her expression turned strict. “Don’t worry me like that, okay?!”

“Now, now, Dyna, Nyk’s doing the best he can.” Rowan patted her on the shoulder. “But he’s a Scavenger, so you know he might end up in this situation again someday. Let’s just be happy that he’s alright.”

“…Yeah, I guess…” She mumbled.

Rowan turned to Nyk with a gentle smile. “I’m glad you’re okay. Thank you for coming back safely.”

“Y-Yeah!” Dyna rapidly nodded. “Wh-What she said.”

“You guys don’t have to worry,” Nyk said, his face heating up from all the attention. “I-I’m going to keep doing my best.”

“Well, it’s certainly reassuring to know that you’ve got that fancy suit of armor when you’re going Scavenging,” Rowan laughed. “…Though I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of the people you’re working with,” she added under her breath.

“It, uh… it was really cool,” Dyna said, her face blossoming with color. She fiddled with her fingers. “The way you saved me and mom like that… um… thanks again.”

Nyk felt his face get even hotter. “Y-Yeah, no problem,” he said, turning to stare out the window. He suddenly found it hard to look her in the eye.

Mysha and Rowan exchanged sly looks.

“Well, I need to get going, I’ve got Scavenger business,” Mysha loudly declared, clearing her throat.

“Oh, yes, indeed, and I must be getting back to the shop!” Rowan added.

“Wait, mom-“ But the two were already gone, leaving Dyna and Nyk alone.

Dyna let out a small sigh and turned back to Nyk. He glanced back at her and they stared at each other for a moment before averting their eyes.

“S-So, um… you didn’t do any other reckless stuff after you saved us, right?” Dyna asked.

He flashed back to nearly getting cut in half fighting Brocas.

“…Not really.”


Nyk was beating himself up inside. What’s the matter with you?! Why can’t you just talk to her?! You two are friends, right?! This shouldn’t be so uncomfortable! But his mind just kept going back to that kiss. He couldn’t deny it, he-

“Um, Nyk…”

“Ye… yeah?”

“S-So, listen. This… this is kinda hard to say, but… there’s something important I need to tell you.” Dyna’s face was as red as rust. She was struggling to spit it out, and Nyk felt his heart pound quickly in his chest.

“I… for a while now, I’ve really-“

“Good afternoon, Slum Boy! How are you doing?” The crash of the door swinging open sent Dyna ten feet into the air with a screech. She managed to land on her feet, but beyond that, she was completely petrified.

“I, uh, I gotta go!” She sputtered, dashing out the door before Nyk could even say a word.

Lulu smirked. “Oh my, I hope I didn’t… interrupt anything!”

Nyk glared at her.

“…I’ll kill you.”

“Oh, how rude! Who do you think is the one paying for your nice little stay, hmm?”

Aud leaned against the door as Lulu took the seat Dyna had been using, leaning back like she owned the place (which she probably did).

“What are you doing here?”

“Apparently I’m throwing salt on your game.”


“Fine, fine,” she groaned, rolling her eyes. “And here I thought sharing a life or death experience together would have warmed you up to me, guess not.”

“It’s not a shared life or death experience if one of us is nice and safe in her bunker.”

“Okay now you’re just splitting hairs,” she huffed. “I came to check up on, you obviously. To make sure you’re alright.”

“You mean to make sure I’m keeping my mouth shut?” Any concern Lulu might have had for him was purely selfish, and he’d be a fool for thinking otherwise.

Lulu sighed. “I think that bullet’s been fired already. Half the Scavengers in town know you’re Wolf now, Slum Boy.”

“That’s not what I meant. I meant about… you know.”

“Ashilda?” Lulu raised her eyebrow. “Please, I knew you wouldn’t talk about that.”

“What’s going to happen now, you think? I mean, the Sentinels in the Towers, they’re all-”

“What do you mean? Nothing’s going to happen.”


“Ashilda said it herself. The reason she came into the slums was to recover that human body. Now that she’s back in the tower, well… she’ll just keep going like normal, I suppose.” She shrugged her shoulders. “The question is, what are you going to do?”

“I’m not sure what you mean.”

“Well, you’re a Scavenger, aren’t you? So what are you going to do? Ashilda said that any Scavenger who enters the Towers will be treated just as hostilely as before. So are you quitting, then? Or maybe you’re going to warn your friend Mysha?”

Nyk stared down at the sheets. He honestly didn’t know. He’d thought that Sentinels were just monsters, but they weren’t. Ashilda was a sentient being who was fighting back in self-defense.

Lulu sighed again. Nyk’s decision was written all over his face. “Darn. And just when we were finally able to start working together again, turns out you’re going to quit on me. I’m disappointed, Slum Boy.”

“Well, what do you expect me to do?!” Nyk asked.

“I don’t know. You could go talk to her, for one thing.”

“T… Talk to her? What?”

“It’s simple. You can keep working as a Scavenger, only instead of killing Sentinels, you can go talk with them. Maybe she can even find you some hidden treasures that no one else has heard about. Couldn’t hurt to ask, right?”

“B-But… that was just because of her, I didn’t-”

She sighed again, even louder this time, drowning out his complaints. Then she said something he couldn’t believe.

“…Thank you.”

No way. He must have heard wrong. Lulu hadn’t just-

“Honestly, thank you.”

Ah, he was dead. That explained it. He was dead, and this was the afterlife. Or maybe he was having a dream. There was no way the real Lulu would thank him for anything.

“…Why are you looking at me like that?” She scowled. “I’m not allowed to thank you?”

“For what?!”

“You didn’t tell the City Defense Force that I was an Interfacer,” Lulu said quietly. “That information… would be worth a fortune to the right people. But you kept it secret. Thank you.”

Nyk turned red, stunned by how genuine the look of gratitude on her face was. He was reminded again that as evil as Lulu was, she was still a beautiful woman around his age.

“Th-That was just… it never came up, is all.”

She shook her head. “You don’t understand. Being an Interfacer… it isn’t just special. It’s dangerous. You saw what they did to Ashilda, didn’t you? Even me… if it got out that I had these powers, things would get… complicated. So thank you.”

“Y-You’re welcome.”

“And I suppose, as a thank you… I might as well be honest about one other thing.”

Uh-oh. What was it now? Had she inadvertently blown up Rowan’s shop or something?

“Interfacers… you’re one, too.”

“…I’m what?”

“An Interfacer. Like me.”

Nyk was sure she was messing with him, but her eyes looked sincere.

“That… that’s just… no, it’s not like that,” he said, shaking his head. “I can’t be, I mean…”

“You are,” she insisted, taking his hand. He was shocked at how soft her skin was. “I knew it from the moment I saw you. It’s why Aud and I went into the Towers. I sensed… a signal. Like mine. And when I followed it… there you were.”

It was starting to come together now. “That’s why you wanted me. Why you backed down when I threatened to kill myself.”

“An Interfacer is an unbelievably precious resource,” Lulu said. “Imagine my surprise when I found you, just what I needed to finish my project.”

“…The Synchro Suit…” He realized. “So wait, all that stuff about me being the perfect candidate because I looked so weak and pathetic, about how you were planning to market the suit to be sold…”

“Those were lies,” she confirmed with a nod. “The reason why I developed the suit, well… I’m sorry. I can’t tell you that, not yet. But the truth is, Synchro technology is only capable of being used by an Interfacer in the first place. The fact that you can synchronize with the suit at all is proof that you ARE an Interfacer, just like me.”

“B-But… I don’t feel any different! I mean, it’s not like I can talk to computers or anything, are you sure…?”

“That’s because you haven’t learned how to use your abilities yet,” Lulu said, squeezing his hand. “But I can help you. We can develop your powers together, Nyk. You’ll be able to see a brand new world.”

Nyk felt himself getting swept away in those beautiful blue eyes. It was like he was finally looking at the real Lulu, without any of the lies or mockery.

“…You’re just trying to get me to work for you again, aren’t you?!”

A smirk broke across her face.

“You’re crazy! I can’t believe I thought that you were ACTUALLY sincere!” He wasn’t even surprised as this point.

She just laughed. “Oh, Slum Boy, you just don’t understand what you’re missing,” she said, shaking her head. “Now that you’re aware of your abilities, I can take my designs to the next level! I’ve already started working on Number 0-3!”

“No! Absolutely not!”

“Oh, really? Are you sure? I’m just trying to help.”

“How is this helping?!”

“Can you imagine what would happen if one of the other corporations found out you’re an Interfacer, Slum Boy? Why, they’d launch a manhunt for you and all your little friends! But I promise, I can keep you safe.”

“I’m not falling for that! This is blackmail!”

“In the city we refer to it as ‘negotiating from a position of strength.’ So, what’s it gonna be? Partners again?”

She extended her hand.

Nyk groaned in frustration. Lulu was Lulu, right to the end.

He didn’t bother taking her hand. His answer was plain to see.

Lulu’s joyful laughter filled the hospital room.