[Post Episode 2.5] The Mad Rider


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Workshop area

Romulus pushed down the Downrider, walking with a device with two large mounted vests on either end, connected via a large, dangling tube between the two of them. In this position, the biker was not really sure what to do other than fulfill the deal. A moment passed before he called the alchemist and begrudgingly- the mechanic into the cargo bay to perform the process. In the corners of the room Pixy units are staring dead set on the Biker, observing his every motion down to the most minuscule tick.

He sat the vests down onto two opposing chairs, and waited for someone to step down the hallway.

That man would be Juryrig, the aforementioned alchemist who has made a name for himself as a man to be wary of, to say the least. It’s at least known why such a man would accept Romulus’s proposal to assist; apparently just to one-up the artificer, although as for how, Juryrig never shared.

The aforementioned man arrived from the hallway, his the collars of his red overcoat popped up and his wicked smile as large as ever. “Hello yello my mello crewmate! Ah,” Juryrig paused, and looked over the machine. “... It’s a bit tacky, ain’t it?”

Romulus barely looked up from his impromptu workstation, continuing to prep for the work ahead. “It’s the best you’ve got.”

The mechanic walked into the workstation, a little jittery, but not particularly unfazed by what was happening at this point. Avoiding any potential eye contact with Romulus, he sat down, and waited, holding the rigid tensile vest in his scaly, sharpened arm. All he could do was look at the floor and wait, while Romulus did his thing.

“You’re aware I can’t exactly reverse the poisoning, correct?” There was complete silence from Reman when Romulus spoke up. “You’re realizing the burden you’re taking on when you do this, correct?”

“Oh ho ho, Romulus! That’s real funny. Very… very funny… ” Juryrig chuckled, and… Sighed, as if self-reflecting on a depressing thought.

“... Anywaaaaaaaaaays! Let’s get this show! On! A! ROOOOLLL!” Juryrig clapped his hands together and cackled, before making himself comfortable in the other seat, donning the vest.

Reman did the same though much, much quieter. His gaze centered squarely at the floor he uttered a worried whisper before Romulus reached the end of the door.

“I’ll be just a second.” Romulus coaxed a Pixy to come with to keep tabs as he left. The little drone followed, though at a casual distance.

“So, uh. Jury.” Reman uttered, rather quietly. “You said you knew what being… possessed was like? What did you mean by that?”

“Ah! That, uh, slip of the tongue,” Juryrig said, dismissing that. “Why do you want to know that, anyway?”

“I really… Don’t know what I can trust at this point. My memory’s conflicting and every time I’ve gone to sleep I’ve seen things. I don’t even know what an ‘imprint’ is, and I don’t know what’s real and what’s fake.” Reman took a moment to try and gather his thoughts and try and make sense of that point he was getting at. “That man referred to me as Griffin. I don’t know what that means.”

Romulus in the back was looking for the briefcase, but alas could not risk activating the ship disk. What keys did he have on hand? What did the crew have? It popped in his mind as he walked back to the cargo bay. That pesky little alchemist did something useful, in his own little way, He’d get his own little form of revenge, albeit this time without direct harm.

“Like I’d know what ‘Griffin’ would mean, that’s something you gotta look for yourself. I have my own thing I gotta look for, and it requires me to be crazy enough to get it. But, you’re looking for some kernels of truth, eh? That’s why you asked. Well, we live in a society, kiddo. Societies are built off of…” Juryrig stopped talking, and his gaze became unfocused.

He then refocused, no longer smiling; if anything, he's irritated. “... You weren’t mishearing, though. I know what being possessed is like. Like having something else live in you that you fear. It’s not what you think, though. I, Juryrig, am the possessor. This body ain’t mine.”

“I’m not sure what you mean, exactly… I’m not exactly the best equipped to understand this, Is it like in the situation with Sigma, or whatever his name is? Did you do alchemy to overtake someone’s body?” Reman snapped up in curiosity, fear still imbued in his eyes, but as if starting to gain a grasp, a little shimmer of hope radiated in the back of his pupils.

It was then that the Biker burgeoned into the room, Reman’s hopeful gaze snuffed out like a candle in a windstorm. “Well, It’s your lucky day, Alchemist. Hand it over.” The pixy unit just behind him monitored his aggression very, very intently.

“Ah ah ah, Romulus! I’d watch yourself.” Juryrig changed attitudes on a dime, waggling his finger at Romulus. “You’re getting ahead of yourself on a frozen lake that doesn’t have as much ice in the middle as much as the safest shores. Now, start with telling me what you want exactly.”

“The only reason I was tipped off to return my ship other than the obvious cultists around the presence of my vessel, was because a certain someone opened the doors and outright found the briefcase. And since I can’t open my ship indoors, I’m going to need one of the keys you stole for the transfer process.” Romulus held his hand open and waited. “Pick your flavor.”

“Hmmm… My flavor… Well, I could part with this,” Juryrig says, plucking Swarm out of his pocket. “I’d part with the Key I dropped in the fight, but methinks Marie has some kind of… Attachment to it. I can sniff desire out like a fresh steak!”

The alchemist puts the Swarm key in Romulus’s hand. “Anyways, I hope you can work with this.”

“I suggest you choose VERY carefully. The key type declares what kind of after effects you’ll have depending on the side-effects of the process. Besides, I’d like to take a moment to say-” Romulus paced around the alchemist, minding the cable between the infected individuals. “You’re keeping what you stole.”

“... Well darn, maybe Swarm wasn’t a good idea…” Juryrig thought on the prospect. “Then again, neither is Blast…”

Fearing for the safety of his person, Juryrig went over his options again, mulling over potential side effects. As much as he wants to save Data to use on Marie for a bargain, right now it would most likely incur the least amount of side effects. Swarm and Steel could affect bodily integrity, and Blast… Fuck Blast in this case, it could lead to chaos that would not benefit Juryrig (for once).

“Blast it is then.” Romulus’s rash impatience beget jury’s careful approach.

“WAIT! Here!” The first sign of weakness Juryrig has ever shown; he immediately gave Romulus the Data key. “Fuck what I had in mind, use that.”

Romulus stared at the black and green key with disgust, and quickly tossed it towards the corner of the room. “That’s an exception. I don’t want two crew members with resonant side effects.”

“... So that’s what’s going on with Marie, then,” Juryrig said. “Alright then… In that case,” Juryrig takes out Blast. “If I give this to you, would I expect it back?”

“In fact, yes, you would.” Romulus took the key with almost way too much aggression, and with one swift motion walked over to jury’s chair and inserted the key into a slot in the back of the vest. With a stride that conveyed that he was over with the whole affair, he motioned to Reman. “Give it.”

Reman took just a brief moment to gently hand him the key, and he watched as romulus did the same to his end of the device. “What do we even do now?”

“Wait a moment. Obviously.”

The devices started radiating energy between the two of them, and as the vests started turning on, rotors at the ends of the pipes made themselves visible by spinning faster and faster. Reman’s scales slowly shrank as the devices grew in power, transferring to Juryrig what almost felt like pins and needles throughout his whole body. Any point he touched was sensitive and a little painful.

Though at his core, he felt something form, like from nothing was born a creature, and he saw for a brief moment that void again, making way for a small scene of fireworks being lit at a beach, from the vendor’s perspective. Only there was nobody there. It was like they were lighting themselves. Endlessly exploding then returning to form.

Suddenly from out the water rose a gigantic mass, that rose out of the deep slow and quiet. Twin heads rose out of the water and dragged their form up above the seas before echoing a loud, booming roar.

It was then that Jury snapped back to reality, no longer feeling the sensation, and the vests well powered down. Reman’s arm had almost completely healed, with his usual feathers here and there, shrinking in size and disappearing when shrunk.

“Process complete. I’ll need to give you an orientation course. Take off that vest, and let me show you something.” Romulus echoed throughout the room, as he dragged a small metal sheet from the scrap in the cargo bay.

“Very well! Whoop!” Juryrig took the vest off and practically jumped out of his seat with a superhuman level of vigor. “Heheheheh, I feel good as Ayenee new again!”

“So, what’re we even doing, Romy pal?”

Can you visualize an explosion? Do you know what it feels like to be the one in control of the blast?” Romulus pulled juryrig’s hand up and placed it on the sheet metal.

“Think about it. Reeeeeeeally hard.”

“Oh I’ve made plenty of them, it’ll be a cakewalk for me!” Juryrig focused his mind on the many explosions he has handcrafted over the course of… Three to four years of his whole life.

As if he willed it to be, there was a sudden CRACK on the Downrider. The plate that was beneath jury flew out of Romulus’s hand, A brief flash of light obscured the pretty sizable hole made from the explosion that erupted from Juryrig’s hand.

“Fragokinesis stable. Anything you can come into contact with can combust with a decent amount of force. Now we’re on to step 2.” The pixy behind romulus leaned in to remain more cautious as to what he was about to do.

“I’m not allowed to use the weapons on this ship, but you can. The Process should be available to use at this time. I’m going to need you to grab it and put it on. You won’t need to worry about regulators unless we magically find the other related keys to Blast.”

“Um… What?” The alchemist looked confused. “Put on the Process…? You’re talking about the vest?”

“The DRIVER. I need to test your armor capability. The amount of buildup in his body should have gotten you past the 30s easy.”

“Wait a second, are you saying…?” Reman looked up, taking off his vest, and gently standing with his newfound clean arm. HE walked into the semi-repaired engineering bay and grabbed the driver, holding it in his hands in front of Jury.

“Well alright then! As you wish.” Juryrig takes The Process, and puts it on his body. He sighed. “Ah, the thrill of science.”

Reman, Romulus and the pixies all moved back as the Biker intently watched the debacle unfold.

“You already know what to do by now.”

“Awwww~ You know me too well by now!” Juryrig takes Blast, and inserts it into Process.

“Now then, I just do this, and…” Juryrig pressed some buttons until he got to activate, being the experimental madman that he is.

The process shot out it’s normal volley of particulate, surrounding Jury in a web of light and dust, forming a stark black suit with burnt orange armor, and the helmet forming the final second, looking like two coiled dragon heads about to duel. The armor was particularly thick, but not bulky.

“Perfect. Key element test is next. Reman, I’m going to need you to throw that metal plate at Jury, and RUN.”

“What? I already thought we told you I wasn’t-”

“Trust me, you idiot. It’ll be fine as long as you do EXACTLY what I say.”

Reman with a heavy sigh, contemplated what he was gonna do after he threw it. He picked up the busted metal plate, and threw it like a frisbee at Juryrig, running like hell to the other side of the bay, hiding behind his chair.

Where normally the alchemist would have felt impact, the suit instead detected the object in the vicinity, and let out another BANG, flinging the plate down, mangling and embedding the plate inside of the Downrider’s floorboards.

“Woah! Woahohohohohoho! Ablative armor, eh? I love it! It suits my mysterious, chaotic persona, down to the explosive touch!”

“Weapons testing.”

“Should be as simple as whipping it out!” Juryrig makes the attempt to conjure this weapon that this suit is supposed to be paired up with.

In his hand, a handle formed, and as he slowly began to pull it out, atop the handle formed a MASSIVE tube, complete with a back mounting port for some explosive heavy artillery. However, right at the end, the retrieval stopped with a thud, and jury could no longer pull the weapon out, like a solid gate was preventing him access.

“Impressive. I’d estimate about 38/39 from that weapon pull.”

“He’s gotten further than I have!” Reman peeked up very briefly, hiding back down when viewing what the weapon actually was; A massive, partially formed rocket launcher of inordinate size.

“Aw come ON! I’m so close!” Juryrig tugged in desperation, but quickly gave up trying, releasing the rocket launcher. “Alas, another day.”

The weapon disintegrated as soon as it was released from his grip. “So, If you would, I’m going to need you to take the armor off. The aftereffects of use need to be in your understanding.” Upon hearing that, Juryrig does as Romulus says, taking the armor off.

“Do you feel any sweat on you? You should note that anything that comes into contact with sweat for a period after is going to be dangerous.”

“Pfft, nah. None of that made me break a sweat… But that is a good thing to know,” Juryrig admitted.

Romulus walked forward towards Juryrig, and put his hands on Jury’s shoulders. “You’re a part of something way out of your depth, now. This power comes at a cost. Urane thinks you’re a part of my crew now, and if his goons return, you’ll need every advantage you can get.”

Romulus walked over to the door and opened it, pixy unit closely following behind. Before he left, he let out a little smirk with his same devious, watchful eyes. “Welcome to the club. You lead me here.” With a thud, the door closed, Pixy and Biker enclosed inside that space.

A period of silence went after his departure, before Reman came out of cowering. “So…”

Juryrig cackled, walking to where Data was tossed, picking it up and pocketing it. “‘Way out of my depth’? He’s way out his depth for letting me aboard this club, let alone letting me have your residual poison you’ve got stored up!”

“I’m kinda glad you’re pretty positive about this, actually. It’s honestly pretty refreshing.” Reman walked toward Juryrig, slowly and timidly. “Did you see anything during the transfer process? Cause I certainly saw something… strange. Some dude in dirty blonde hair, with some sort of long lab-coat… It could be something from the lab but it just irks me.”

“Eh, just a hydra. It at least came with a fireworks show.”

“From what he said last time I saw him, that cloaked dude told me another creature awakens… Do you think that’s what he was talking about?”

“Hm… Given the tropes of shonen jump anime, yeah. Yeah I’d say that’s about right.”

“That dude from what I saw now… He was messing with my cryo-station. Something didn’t seem right about him. He basically just touched the panel, and everything I saw from there went absolutely berserk… Do you think that’s what an imprint is?”

“Could be; I’ve heard from the bird bot that imprinting is basically a thing getting so used to you that it longs for you. Like a little bird seeing its mother for the first time.”

Reman just tried to put his arm around his head, scratching the back of his head in a nervous tick. “I think we should continue what we were talking about sometime later, but…” Reman awkwardly pushed a little closer to jury before wrapping his arms around the alchemist. “Thank you.” Were the only audible words audible from Reman’s close hug, before he went out and walked out of the room. “You’ve practically saved my life. No- Not even practically. You did.”

And then, the mechanic was gone.

“... Shut up, Tom. It was your idea, not mine. You just didn’t stop shutting up,” Juryrig mumbled, leaving a moment after.
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