Interlace: Zero — Chapter 1-2

“You can’t be serious, Chief.”

“You know I don’t joke, Schultze. You’re the only one who can do this.”

Chief Kaleo’s words rang in the back of Kujo’s mind as his hands clutch the briny rails of a retrofitted cruiser. The letter he was given has long been crumpled and soaked by the ocean’s spray. The familiar scent of sea spray mixed with cigarette smoke eased his nerves, but it doesn’t make the recent developments any easier to swallow. The vessel he travels with is about as inconspicuous as a live firefight, with more than enough high calibre cannons and small arms to blow any pirate out of the sea. It’s nothing more than cold comfort to him. Humans were only used to fighting other humans, after all.

The horizon is dyed in an unnatural crimson that mingles and overruns the unsuspecting azure of the north. He still can’t get used to it. The scene of earlier plays itself once more in his mind’s eye, as though it could change the present.

“What about Cole, damn it? We have to avenge him! Every minute I’m not on the case, the perp’s only going to get farther and farther away from us. Why the hell do I have to go see an Alien rat!?”

His synthetic fist slammed against the hard oak of the Chief’s desk, crumpling the Aurorean letter rolled up in his fist. Outside bulletproof windows, the clogged streets below the Chief’s office were congested with everyday life, the colourful pedestrial flood and multi-layered traffic flowing by like a river. His heart screamed to the beat of grinding teeth.

“Take it down a notch, Schultze. Cool the racism, too.”

He unsteadily exhaled, straightened his back, and dug his thumbnail into the raw flesh. The situation was terrible, and it’s only gotten worse. The emotions bubbled back to the surface, but it only made them easier to quash.

“…Apologies.”

The Chief leaned back in a leather seat, stretching his arms after what must’ve been the aftermath of yesterday. The man always looked tired, but today, he seems like he might collapse at any moment.

“We don’t have many people left on the force who can speak and read their language. Miller’s undercover, Hunt’s gone, and the Android’s still in nine different pieces. Please, Kye.”

The tension slowly drained from Kujo’s chest from that little magic word. The plea combined with a childhood name was something he hadn’t heard in a long time. He turned away with an exasperated groan and cursed his luck, unfurling the fancy letter one last time.

It was an official summon from some unknown empire, requesting the “best warriors” that Neohana had to offer in order to rescue the Alraune and return it to them. He couldn’t make out the name, despite his unnatural fluency; it was someplace he’d never been to before. There was an escort ship with its VIPs already on the way, set to arrive near noon near international waters. According to the U.W.R.T, they were calling upon their rights for a joint investigation.

The rest of the trip was a blur. Jishin goons shook him down three times on the way to Aitame Harbour. It was a dance Kujo knows by heart at this point. His SIN’s record is the perfect cocktail to inspire vitriol in even the most upstanding citizen. A Corporate spy to the suits, and a cowardly deserter to everybody else. He got off lucky this time with knife scratches on his bike’s carbon fibre rhino alloy. The cruiser’s crew wanted no part in diplomacy, so it was all down to Kujo.

A harsh whiff of ozone brings him back to the present, dragging him far away from his fragmented thoughts. Off the starboard railing, dark clouds filled with raging thunder approach on an abrupt tailwind. They’re getting close. His trusty metal steed passes through the storm, the very air humming with a furious hymn of thunder and waves. Lightning dances across dark waters and slithers up the boat’s sides. It’s all just smoke, mirrors, and illusions. Their tricks wouldn’t work on Kujo anymore. It takes a few more minutes before he reaches his destination, a faded yellow buoy with mystical lanterns hanging off its sides. Within, the dark purple flames flicker even brighter as the cruiser comes to a standstill. A cacophony of horns and thunder blare out moments later, like a hunting band that finally caught its prey. It’s all too familiar for Kujo. They’re here.

The mist peels away to a blood-red sky before his eyes. The rugged, sea-worn hull of a monolithic wooden ship stares back at him, faint runic inscriptions and sea-bitten carvings running along as far as the eye could see. Kujo cranes his neck upwards, sneaking a glimpse of the Aurorean crewmen working away. He catches silhouettes of elongated ears, leathery membranes, feathered wingspans, black fur, and other monstrous characteristics on each of them. He sees Auroreans daily, but they’re different underneath their own sky. Monstrous. Inhuman. Cruel, unpredictable, and just as cunning as any human. They were dangerous. In a fluid motion, he reaches back to check how many cigarettes he has left on hand. He only realizes he instinctively drew his pistol by the iron sights wavering at the nearest alien, safety off, and the twitching of his trigger finger.

He turns heel to stuff his gun back where it belongs before a diplomacy disaster can unfurl itself in his lap. With another smoke lit, he tunes out and mentally chastises himself for slipping up again. His usual steely composure usually never wavers. It must be the alien sky, twisting his nerves into a wreck.

Kujo was an optimistic person, once upon a time. He used to keep up with whatever life threw at him, but those days were long gone. The only thing keeping the fermented reservoir of snide and cynicism from spilling out these days were the cigarettes endlessly crammed in his mouth. It might’ve been unfair to ignore the friends and family who came and went along the way, but he’s in a sour mood today.

He hears a single set of footsteps clattering down a rope ladder as he waits for the VIP to arrive. Judging by the weight and pace of the steps, it must be a servant of some kind. They’re in a rush. He looks back at the nearly empty deck, only to spot the ladder being pulled back up and the sailing ship already moving away on open sails.

“Oi. Oi!” Kujo yells, frantically waving his arm at the departing ship’s crew. “Where are the VIPs?”

Somebody answers from behind.

“Yes. I am Vixlisoip, an Exlecht of Azilon.” He heard a girl’s voice, graceful yet haughty; It pierces through the air like a dart and demands attention with a maturity well beyond its years. “Is this the ritual in which Earthling Sailors greet foreign emissaries? Disappointing.”

“One…?”

“One…? What do you mean, ‘One?’ “

Kujo flicks his cigarette away and turns, only to greet golden, horizontally slitted eyes in a snobbish sneer.

“I do not expect you to speak Genraszego, but do you know how to speak English?”

“…Yes.”

“Then answer. Properly.”

“I, uh…” Kujo watches the Satyros in stunned silence, mumbling. The newcomer looks like she trotted straight out of a renaissance fair. “I didn’t see you.”

“Hmph.”

She has all the telltale signs of a Satyros; legs bent the wrong way, dark ram-like horns curling to her chin, hooves, tapered ears, and a fleecy tail eagerly poking out from a garish short coat. Her uniform is loud and obnoxious, with any semblance of utilitarianism blotted out with frills and collars. The blade at her side is long, thin, and flowery enough to make a botanist jealous. Platinum blonde hair is drawn back pretentiously, held by a band of ritzy white silk.  She looks like a professional pain in the ass.

She draws steel in a bladed flourish and raises her voice. “My name is Fhrélia xi Vixlisoip la Balenor latom Elmyra ke Arigon,  Exlecht no Azilon!”

“In your Earthly tongue, that means Fhrélia of House Vixlisoip, Daughter of Balenor, Descendant and heir of the great Elmyra bloodline, born of Arigon, Exlecht, or Holy Warrior of the glorious Azilon Order.”

“Now. What is your title, sailor?”

He steps back, reeling from the torrent of information. The woman’s appearance and voice don’t quite match up; She looks about a decade older than she sounds. Her accent is unplaceable. Softly spoken, full of strange inflections and brief percussive notes that are undeniably exotic in origin. A mainlander speaking English is definitely new. A red glint off her blade catches his attention.

“Er, Kujo… Schultze.”

“What?”

“Kujo. Schultze.”

“It’s short.”

He blinked twice, not knowing what to say. “…Yeah.”

“Hmph.” Fhrélia nods as she lowers her blade. “Those with low birth typically hast short titles. I won’t let it bother me.”

“I go by Fhrélia Vixlisoip when dealing with commoners. Address me as such.”

She sheathes her blade and gestures to the hefty pile of chests with a twirl of her gloved hand. “Now, carry my luggage, Kabo Sheets.”

“Schultze. Kujo Schultze.” he snaps back, but she doesn’t seem to hear it. He groans, shoving his hands back in his pocket. She doesn’t look like too much trouble, and if all goes well, she’ll shut up and sit down until her stay in Neohana is over. He only has to tolerate her presence only a bit longer, and then it’s back to the chase.

“Chief… you’re not serious right now, yeah?”


He really shouldn’t have gotten his hopes up. There’s a cloying sense of Deja Vu in Kujo’s mind as he stares down Chief Kaleo once more. This time, he raps his knuckles against a sturdy gunmetal cabinet and follows it with a muted headbutt.

“I’ll repeat it one more time, Agent.” Kaleo twirls and aims an old-fashioned fountain pen, pointing the business end straight at him. “You’ll be working with the VIP until the case is resolved. It turns out our missing person is an Aurorean citizen, an important one at that. Just like you wanted, this one’s in your hands.”

“Bloody fantastic.” Kujo punctuates with another dull thud against the cabinet. Making any good news sound like bad news is a specialty of Chief. He spots their guest sitting at a nearby glass table, quietly sipping tea from a golden cup and saucer. The way she contrasted against the holograms, displays and machines is practically comical. Although Fhrélia has been silent while Kujo and Kaleo reviewed last night’s reports, she finally speaks up with her back turned to them.

“Excuse me, but how can something be both fantastic and bloody at the same time? Surely, Earthling society cannot be this barbaric?” 

It takes all of Kujo’s will power to keep his mouth shut. He can already see the self-satisfied look through the back of her head. He gives a sidelong glare at the Satyros, trying his best to not hurl her out the 49th story window. Without a doubt, this highborn paper tiger is going to slow him down. The worst part is the way she pretends to not care. Kujo observed her watching with averted eyes during the briefing. She is a knight of some sort, so she must be waiting for the ideal time to make herself look better than anybody around her. He already hates her by principle.

“Your silence is deafening, and your gazes are defiling. Cease at once, if you may.”

Kujo and the Chief exchange weary frowns as Fhrélia places her cup down emphatically. The first joint investigation between an Aurorean and the Yojimbo is already off to a brilliant start. Chief Kaleo cleared his throat and waved both of them off with haste, the struggle to not reprimand the Satyros visible on his face.

“Dismissed, Agent Schultze. Get back out there and make ’em pay for what they did to Cole. Try to get along with Lady Vixlisoip.”

Fhrélia’s icy gaze seems to linger a bit too much for comfort. She regards everything around her with a trace of disdain, especially Kujo’s back. If looks could kill, she could’ve blown him to smithereens and packed him back up as a souvenir. A few of his more familiar coworkers shirk away from the fierce stare, forcing him to yell a brief explanation and apology in passing.

Kujo keeps a keen eye on the Satyros as they stare at the elevator’s furnishings on the way down.

“Don’t touch anything.”

Fhrélia pulls away from the elevator’s control panel and pretends she was looking at something else instead.

He repeats himself as she reaches towards the holographic infogram on the wall — December 9th, 2072, lows of 9 Celcius, -2 with windchill, along with a smattering of amusing headlines. According to the Neohana Times, the Andori republic has claimed the rest of Africa. World leaders responded to the aggressive imperialism with a sympathetic pat on the back, leaving the would-be conquerors confused and bewildered.

He repeats himself again when she figures out there’s a fire extinguisher hidden in a side panel.

“I’m not touching anything!” She says, hurriedly slamming the compartment shut.

When she reaches towards a fellow officer’s service arm, Kujo slaps away her hand and glares at her.

“Don’t. Touch. Anything.” He hisses, leaving the Satyros staring back indignantly. She kept looking at him like that until they get off at their stop.

Busy emergency vehicles and maintenance crews whizz by as elevator doors creak open to the thirty-first’s aerial parking. The wind is strong in Neohana, but high up, it’s intense enough to blow anything that isn’t bolted down away.. Walking between the busy industrial staff and mechanics is always tricky with various vehicles moving through at the time. He avoids getting run over by a damaged Kite by a narrow dodge one step, and a speeding Stormcloud the next. Police and Fire fell underneath Hachiman Solution’s security contract, making it extremely difficult to find a parking spot at their district deployment centers, doubly so for aerial vehicles.

“Wait. Wait! Stop moving so quickly!” Fhrélia breaks her silence amidst all the commotion, frantically chasing after Kujo’s heels. “What is this place?”

“A parking garage.” Kujo recognizes his bike sandwiched between an Arrow and Typhoon several columns down and adjusts his path.

“What is a ‘garage’?”

“Shut up.”

“Where are you going?”

“Shut up.”

“Can you say anything other than ‘Shut up’?” A hint of resentment creeps into her perfect, posh voice, but she keeps her distance.

“Shut up the fuck up.” Kujo checks over his ride for any additional damage. No dings, no dents, no frowns. His helmet and riding jacket are still in the side compartments. He hastily dons his gear and checks bike’s graviton mini-reactor. Fully operational. With a satisfied nod, he pulls the throttle with a twist, his hoverbike roaring to life amidst a spray of cerulean plasma. He finds Fhrélia staring defiantly from a distance while he wheels back out of the spot. “Get on, keep your mouth closed.”

She continues to stare at him, unblinkingly, with her tail tucked neatly between her legs. He gazes back, trying to follow her gaze. There isn’t anything over his shoulder besides open skies. His suit is neatly tucked in, and his fly isn’t down. His helm’s heads up display scrawl a map of the cities streets and air traffic. Clear skies, so smooth sailing for now. “What are you waiting for? Is there something on my face?”

It hits him after the words leave his mouth. This Aurorean has probably never ridden on anything with wheels, much less a graviton propulsion system. Well, it can’t be helped. There’s only enough space for one. He counts his blessings and shrugs.

“I’ll send a report tomorrow about what I find. Stay in this big glass building and don’t touch anything.”

Kujo mounts the bike’s footpegs and floats towards the complex’s launching platform, leaving the deadweight where she belonged. Without the Satyros in the picture, this investigation should go smoothly. Each queued up vehicle blasts off into the skyline, and soon enough, it’s his turn up next. Giddy anticipation bubbles into a wide grin. This is his favourite part.

A crushing weight smashes into his back, sending him and the bike nearly tumbling off the platform’s ledge. His feet skid across steel, and he pulls up on the handlebars for dear life. This is not a normal part of taking off. He can feel a pair of small hands crushing his shoulders and a panicked shout in his ear.

“No!I’m coming with you, Cabo Sheets!”

Kujo looks back to see Fhrélia desperately standing on the back of his bike, with a safety door kicked straight off its hinges in her wake. Everything is going wrong. His bike is still in street mode, the forward propulsion is pushing forward against the wall outside. He screams, the weight of the bike slowly tipping over the edge. 

“Calm — Hold on —  you crazy alien bitch, are you trying to kill us both…!?”

He desperately flails behind him, trying to force the Satyros to sit down properly. He manages to jerk a hoof to the side, smashing her into the back seat. Her horns stab painfully into his back; clings to his torso with enough force to snap his ribs. Even with all of his strength, his bike lurches forward.

Their screams linger as they plummet.

The seconds feel like eons.  The world turns on its side, the ground happy to greet them. Kujo slams the accelerator and the graviton inverter at the same time, falling even faster down Hachiman’s headquarters. Adrenaline and vertigo race through him. He can’t hear anything over the wind. The streak of blue behind warps dark purple, correcting the world to its proper orientation. A mad ear to ear grin emerges under his helm as he races through the metal alleyways in the sky, twisting and turning towards his destination, his trusty beast roaring its war cry, the distant ocean glimmering between steel and concrete trees. He feels arms trembling around his waist, tips of horns gouging out his shoulder blades, warmth pressing into his back. He doesn’t care. He’s got somewhere to be.


The Satyros retched into the port’s waters for a whole three minutes before she collapsed in a heap.

Kujo lights another cigarette, resting against his idling hoverbike. The Whitecoats and their drones are still working over the crime scene, so he’s stuck waiting. Out of the corner of his eye, the self-proclaimed knight continues to shiver and whine on the ground. He considers giving her a hand recovering, briefly. As a base rule, all species of Auroreans are at least threefold stronger than the average human. If he could handle the motions, she can suck it up too.

“Gah… What a pain.” He murmurs to himself, retrieving his personal Datagrip. Teal hard-light displays explode around a small handle, filling up the air with information. Clarity comes in the field, not in some stuffy cubicle. While he vastly preferred old-school physical tablets, having a full workspace on demand was a worthwhile tradeoff.

Kujo skims over the results of the investigation so far. From their SIN analysis, both of the dealers were corporate immigrants of wealthy Chinese nationals, which isn’t much of a surprise. Their sense of fashion already spoke for that one. Their records were spotless; minus several DUIs that were dropped down to careless driving charges, and the pair’s transaction history — groceries, utilities, taxes — was awfully mundane. Cash or Certified Credits must’ve been used for their illicit business. According to their SIN location trace, they practically never left the confines of the upper city, not even last night. Those two must’ve conducted everything off the grid.

Mind-Tear interrogation results weren’t much better. The surviving dealer’s memories were fractured from stress and substance abuse, but the mages managed to recover his latest twelve hours of activity. It wasn’t much without surface-thought logs, but it was something. Five hours in an indecent nightclub; Club Heliobit, one passed out in a drunken stupor, three hours street racing, two joyriding in a stolen boat; delivered by a supplier that already had the Alraune, and one getting his brain plucked by Yojimbo’s Magecraft department. From the report and Kujo’s prior investigation, it seems like the survivor was only part of a supply chain. He never knew the face or names of the smugglers, only the low-level suppliers. A pity.

Kujo and his late partner Cole had spent an entire week cracking down on the smuggling scene the hard way. It was supposed to be a routine drug bust, the last of half a dozen stings. When the Magecraft division was established, it made traditional interrogation practically obsolete. At first, they were able to take down entire operations by capturing a single mook and squeezing him dry. Criminals and crooks started to get smarter, going as far as overloading their minds with methamphetamines and hallucinogens to throw off the fuzz. Eventually, it was easier to use tried and true techniques to get proper results. Yet this time, it took a week and a human life to get less results than the red-collars did in an hour. It’s frustrating, incredibly so.

A notification pops up as he begins to think. The forensic department’s report just came in. For once, they actually have excellent timing. The last time Kujo asked them to hurry up with an analysis, he found everything rearranged at his workstation the next day. They even replaced his chair. It took him a week to find his lighter.

Both dealers had a dizzying variety of substances in their systems at the time of analysis, including virescent dust for the deceased, but something else catches his attention — the cause of death. Total organ failure. Manner, undetermined. The Urbanite died from sepsis, an extreme bodily response to an infection. Stranger still, the Urbanite’s body showed no signs of recent physical trauma or mutation, despite Kujo witnessing both with his own eyes. They found his bullets lodged deep inside old scar tissue. Something was wrong.

“…mucosa… esophagus… duodenum, jejunum, ileum, colon and rectum … are intact?”

The Satyros reads quietly to herself, pawing slowly against the hard light displays. His finely tuned hearing didn’t pick up anything, which is a first. He turns and gawks, struggling to pick up his jaw.

“You… You can read English?” He sputters, checking behind him for any sort of hoofprints or trails. There’s no way he didn’t hear her coming.

She glances at Kujo with a glacial stare. “Yes, What of it? I learned the same way you did. Yakagu. [Fool]”

“How…?”

Fhrélia shakes her head dismissively as she continues to scroll through the displays, her tail wagging freely in the air. She acts as if her little stunt earlier never happened and reverted into an ice queen. It’s incredible, in its own way,

“Fine, keep acting like that.” He pinches the bridge of his nose in quiet frustration. The questions will have to wait. The first step to avenging Cole is obvious. If the dealers’ SIN records can’t reveal where they’ve been, he’ll find out the old fashioned way. Some — especially the other officers — might call him unscrupulous, but he has a few ideas about making people talk. He’s ready to get to work.

Kujo takes one last glance at the scene, dissolving the cascades of Datagrip displays. The Whitecoats scrub the scene clean of their presence, their drones spraying the area with industrial disinfectant, a pale-haired Aurorean slowly moving between each person with something in her hand, a gash in the ground the only thing remaining from the fight. The boat from yesterday is gone entirely, most likely towed away. If Cole saw him right now, he’d make fun of how gloomy he must look. It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t right. His future was much brighter than what Kujo had left. Young, full of energy, even a fiancé. The other night, Cole asked him to be his best man at his wedding, and now he’s g-

Wait.

He double-takes back at the scene, feeling his stomach drop for another reason. He immediately breaks into a run, shouting. “Hey! Hey, you! What are you doing?”

The Satyros doesn’t look back, more concentrated with the snooping around than responding. The whitecoat investigators look up in confusion at him.

“HEY!” He stops at the white line drawn in hologram around the crime scene and waves. “What the hell do you think you’re doing? You’re not supposed to be th-“

“I am investigating with your authority, as we were ordered to work together as Sheriff.” She lifts a Yojimbo badge ID, huffing with annoyance. His badge.

A young whitecoat working on a drone looks between Kujo and Fhrélia sheepishly. His badge read ‘TENGU/EVIDENCE TECHNICIAN’ beside indecipherable Kanji, but to Kujo, their attire left them as whitecoats.  “T-The crime scene search is finished. You’re legally permitted to look around if you want. And Isn’t… isn’t she with you?”

“No, well… Yes, but-” He stammers, patting down his pockets. How did she…?

Fhrélia tosses back his badge in a light arc and continues stepping around. She sticks low to the ground, sniffing and looking around. “Do not mind his inability to respond. We are cooperating quite well at the moment.” 

Kujo stands there, baffled. Who the hell did this woman think she is? He makes sure to put his badge in a pocket with a zipper as he steps over the white line, ready to drag her back out. The Aurorean is starting to get on his nerves.

He looms over the Aurorean, lowering his voice as he follows her around. “I told you, missy, don’t go bloody touching whatever you like. That goes double for other people’s belongings. I don’t care if you’re a knight or a goddamn princ-“

Fhrélia holds a single finger up to silence him, her eyes narrowing at the ground. He’s ready to go off on her, but he recognizes the look in her eyes, however alien they may be. She’s found something.

Ideicia.”

“…Huh?”

Kujo cocks an eyebrow. He has a good understanding of the alien’s language, but he doesn’t recognize the word.

“Strong Ideicia was used here. It lingers in the air.” The Satyros slowly rises to her feet, nodding thoughtfully to herself.

I-dei-ci-a.” He echoes. There might be a chance that the girl may be bluffing for recognition, but he doubts it. “Is… that some sort of weapon?”

“Nay. I believe the closest word you Earthlings have is… Let’s see…” She taps her chin once, shaking her head afterwards. “Magic.”

“Alright. Ideicia. Magic. Got it.” Magic. True magic. He bites his lower lip. This is about to get a whole lot more complicated. He knows it’s real, having personally witnessed the terror of magic users, but this was the first time he heard the word for it in their language.

“I expect not a commoner to know of such an art form, but if the investigation calls for the privy of knowledge… Do have the intellect to understand, Kumo Shorts?”

“For the last goddamn time, It’s Kujo. Schultze.”  He lets out a long breath. She read him like a book. This girl is hellbent on pushing his buttons, but she may be worth her salt. He decides to swallow his pride, just this time. “Let’s say that I do. Enlighten me.” He notices that several of the Whitecoats are staring at their slightly heated exchange, and ushers away the Satyros with an apologetic smile. “We’ll talk on the way. Daylight’s burning.” 

“If you insist, Kupo Bortz.”

“…Now you’re just doing that on purpose.”

“Doing what?”

“Goddamnit. Out with it.”

“Very well.”

“Speaking with candour, Ideicia is a manipulation of Idei in different ways. Idei is found in everything, from the grass to the wind, to the beings that populate the world. While most Ideicia manipulates Idei within the body, experienced Venenoir [Magicians, Wizards] can manipulate the Idei around them. Most weapons must be infused with a certain level of Idei to harm different levels of being. From what I know, humans are the only creature that lacks Idei.”

Idei is one of two extraordinary elements, along with Izani, exist beyond the five natural elements.”

“Alright. I get it. You lot can change the world around you with something invisible to humans. Awfully convenient.”

“That is how the world works.”

“Hmm… Did you use this Ideicia to sneak around earlier?”

Fhrélia only glances over once. “You are smarter than you look.”

“I’ll… take that as a compliment. I think.”

Kujo stretches his arms in the air as he walks alongside the Satyros. At least she’s given him two useful pieces of information. His pent up animosity slowly slips away as they chat. He still didn’t like the Aurorean, but she wasn’t completely irredeemable. Almost. Hell, he might be the first person to learn about magic from an alien. Not that he really wanted to. There’s two things, though.

“When did you send the letter?”

“What letter…?”

“Hmph. Nevermind, then.” The timing of the summoning letter seemed too strange as a gut feeling, but that can be looked over for now. Right now, he needs to recover the alien VIP first. “I’m not sure if they’re the Venenoir that you mentioned, but us humans developed something called ‘Magecraft’ after the first contact. Do you know anything about it?

“Magecraft…? I have not heard of it.” Fhrélia’s furrows her brows and looks up at him. “This is most curious. Ideicia requires some control over Idei within. It should be impossible without any Idei. Do you… know the details?”

“Ah… Sorry to disappoint, but I only know the results. I’ll introduce you to the Magecraft department when we make some headway.” Kujo grabs onto the handles of his idling hoverbike and mounts up, the metal beast purring under his hands. He gestures for the Aurorean to get on as well.

“That… would be acceptable.” A faint hint of a smile disappears as soon as she carefully inspects his vehicle. “If I may inquire, where are we going? Are we riding on that… thing, again? Could we not simply walk?”

Kujo gives her a hard look, helmet in hand. “Tell you what. I’ll stick to the roads for this next trip. We’ll fly at reasonable speeds.”

She still looks unconvinced, despite his best efforts. Sighing, he offers out his hand and grimaces. “If you want to survive in this world, you’re going to have to get used to things moving quickly around you. As long as you hold on, you won’t fall. Trust me.”

Eventually, Fhrélia builds up the confidence to clamour onto the back seat. She mumbles something inaudible as she hesitantly wraps her arms around his waist. The Satyros is a bit close, but at least she’s conscientious enough to not stab him in the back with her horns.

The beast roars once more.

Time to get to work.

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