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>Your eyes crack open as your earpiece goes off waking you up with your favorite alarm sound, I wonder what it is
>The rancid smell of what you currently call your home for about half a week now assaults your nostrils, almost making you add to it
>Fortunately, you are able to stop your non-existent lunch from coming up and instead opt to roll out of your sleeping area
>Futon? Bar to hang off of? Hard floor? Bathtub?
>On your way out into the main area of your place you stumble across multiple cans of Nighttime Sunrise that your hologem doesn't hide
>"Makes you insane enough to just stay sane for a little longer", proclaims the colorful can with the symbol of the moon covering the sun
>Yeah, you feel like sanity has been a lost cause in this day and age
>Thankfully, as shit as the holo projection from the gem in the center of your room might be, it at least is better than the-
>Welp, there it goes flickering out again and your run down living space becomes apparent
>Torn wallpapers, stains on the carpet, some you don't even want to try and identify
>Well, not like you are known to stay in places for long anyways
>Not a great idea in your line of work
>Just like it isn't really a great idea to keep your looks the same when going outside
>Touching your bracelet you command it to open a holo mirror in front of you
>Starring long and hard at every minute detail of your undisguised body, you see...

Chargen, frens. Give it your best shot!
Your stinky smelly pee pee
Quite literally the most rancid looking stallion to ever exist, holy shit take a bath stinky!

Your mane is literally drooping down to your forelegs, jusesu christ ever heard of a barber?
A scrawny, black changeling
your goofy buck fangs.
Slow board today, but w/e
Well, clearly male so far. Long as fuck mane and scrawny. Changeling? Some other race?
Buck fangs too, I guess.
What about color scheme?
Imma leave this up just a while longer because you guys are kinda sorta stuck with that character for the game so I want to make sure people actually like it.
Fangs are gay on any race other than changelings.
eh, not so keen on the changeling or the fangs part but definately a stallion

maybe a brown coat with a grey-ish mane?
as for race... earth pony?
could be a batpony? Those have scary fangs
ooh I like that
but not sure about how a bat can disguise itself
whatever, it's the future I guess
Now you have my attention
Op if there isnt a scene where our stallion boy does has vicious gay sex i would be dissapointed in you
It's a CYOA, you have the chance to make it happen
>definately a stallion
>as for race... earth pony?
How about Pegasus? We could make use of wings.
well this guy >>38921466 suggested bat pony so i think thats close enough
We already have a cyberpunk quest with a pegasus protag: >>38853767
and this one is a new quest and not one running for years, what's your point?
that being said, maybe avoiding a pegasus might be a good idea. Bat does sound like a neat alternative
okay now that we can all agree to a bat, how impressive should his balls and dick be?
>Well, the scrawny frame of a batpony stallion stares back at you
>Your fang pokes out of your mouth and you brush over it with one of your hooves
>"Bucktooth baby", they used to call you as a little foal while pushing you around
>Needless to say, you didn't have the best of childhoods, but who does nowadays?
"Growing up in an orphanage really sucks", you muse to yourself with a smirk
>Your eyes glance down on your ash grey mane, unkempt, unwashed, probably reeks worse than this dump of an apartment
>It reaches way past your shoulders, down your forelegs and starts brushing along the floor
>Not like you really have much credits to visit a barberbot and get this fixed
>Your coat is equally as neglected, looking as stained as the floor of this place with, once again, things you don't even want to think about what they might be
>Under all this grime you can't even see your natural coat color anymore, what was it again?
>Oh yeah, brown, you think
>With your smart contact lenses also currently offline, your true eye color that you usually try to hide... like most everything about you, is showing
>Seriously, have you never heard of a bath, stinky? Phew
>Not only that, but your eyes fall lower and your raging boner is at full mast
>You may be small and scrawny, but at least the goddesses of this forsaken place have given you SOMETHING to be proud of
>It is now that the smell of musk becomes more obvious and you scrunch your nose
>Trying to remember what you've done last night it slowly starts coming back to you
>Kicking one of the cans of energy drink you curse to yourself, this stuff really scrambles your brain
>Your last project.... yes you managed to hack into one of the Big Four's subsidiaries and started siphoning credits
>Not a big catch, but it'll keep you afloat for a while longer, at least
>It should be done by now, if your calculations from yesterday, which where done fully sleep deprived, are to be believed
>With a grumble your body also tells you that hey, dipshit, you need sustenance beyond cans of caffeine to survive
>Finally, your lenses begin booting up- and glitching out immediately. Bootlooping, great
>You've managed to extend their planned obsolescence by jailbreaking them, but after 3 years of usage you are seriously due for a new pair
>At last, the loading progress bar shows and your usual HUD becomes visible in your periphery
>You huff in annoyance as a countdown with 3 hours remaining comes up, telling you your program is far from done yet
>Welp, guess there is some time to kill, maybe you want to go out and do something
>There is a VR Cafe across the street, or you could look into food (with your almost completely drained bank account)
>Going out would definitely require a mane change though
>Blessed be your fiber-optic mane cybernetics you got when you were a young teen
>Any color, in an instant
>The nuns at the orphanage were pissed
>What will you do?
Are we seriously planning on going out with a possibly lethal stench hanging over us and our fifth leg on display to the entire world? I demand one of these be resolved.
does this place have running water? a cold shower would do us a lot of good in more ways than one. alternatively, shower in your own cum.
your stinkyness must be cleansed, relocate to the nearest working shower immediently to remmedy the problem
>Oh right, there is something you should DESPERATELY take care of
>A glance down to your stallionhood very much makes that an obvious necessity
>That and if you are almost about to release your lunch from your smell, you can't imagine how bad other ponies would have it in your vicinity
>Also, might be good not to give ponies any wrong ideas, bats already have somewhat of a bad name to them
>The fangs very much terrify some ponies out on the street, which can lead to some fun but also some real annoying encounters
>You head towards what some would call a bathroom but you just call it a broken piece of junk
>It's more like a closet than a room
>A cursory glance at the water allowance gauge tells you all you need to know
>This building has received another water rationing order, leaving you with barely anything left
>It always hits the poor districts, you bet your bat flank that up in the high-rise the elite doesn't have to deal with any of that shit
>Placing your hoof on the screen, the water... or what you hope is water with how brown the liquid coming out is, starts flowing
>At the same time your water allowance quickly begins to drop towards 0
>Jumping in you make the best out of it, trying to be as fast as possible
>Some of the water got in your mouth and you can taste a distinctive hint of iron
>And right as you are trying to wash out the soap, the screen controlling the shower glitches and you are suddenly left with an empty water bar
"Stupid, glitchy piece of shit", you start shouting at it, your entire body still soapy
>This is the second time this week
>Your computer bracelet lights up, giving you a status update on your hack that you launched last night
>This does give you an idea, as you look between your bracelet and the terminal on the wall
>Maybe.... just maybe...
>Or maybe you decide to do something else?
>One thing's for sure, this annoyance has made your fifth leg disappear
yo how they be rationing water? just
r e u s e
that shit bro
hacking the shower? I'm game.
considering the brownness, they might just be doing that.
hmmmmm i thinks, we should try to do aa little bit of hacker pone to the water
>You know what, screw this bullshit, you haven't honed your skills for years just to let some stupid terminal stop you
>A double tap on your bracelet brings up your more sensitive files as it verifies your DNA and unlocks the biometric seal
>Holding a hoof close to the terminal it flashes a couple times before glitching out, a smiling pony face bouncing up and down
>It is a simple hack but it gives you full access to the water system of this building
>Suddenly your HUD shows you the full information on all the water distribution
>And there is something that you find very, very wrong
>All of the water in this building has been redirected to a single apartment up on the highest floor
>Clearly the biggest apartment in the entire complex, too
>No wonder the water quality has gone down the proverbial drain, all the water filters have been moved to that one line going up
>A little bit of hacking magic here and the water starts flowing like a charm
>It's warm, even! This is what you would call true bliss
>And slowly your fur receives its brown color back
>Instinctively, your leathery wings flap and stretch on your sides as you rub away all the dirt and grime that has accumulated over the past couple.... you don't want to think about it
>You're once more a pony instead of a walking dumpster!
>And with that fresh smell, coming out of the shower just makes you really really aware of how stinky your apartment is
>What now?
find your way to the fridge to loot it's contents
Remember to switch things back to the way they were. If somebody fucked with the system to get all of the water, they might notice if things aren't the way they left them. At the very least, we should obfuscate who the recipient of the water was. Maybe reset the system so everybody gets clean water for a little while!
Considering everything we've learned thus far, the stuff in there might be a health hazard.
still it would be funny to see whats inside
Might be a good idea to figure out who the water hog is at some point just incase we crossed somebody dangerous. It might be a petty thing, but there are petty folks.

also yea i agree with >>38922219
>You may only be a small time hacker, but every pony worth their salt knows that the first thing to do is clear any trace of them being in a system
>This thing not being particularly high profile so just a log erase will do and nopony will be the wiser
>Although while you are at it.... a tap here, a double tap there and a hoof on the terminal and boom!
>With a smirk on your face you see how the entire water reserves of the building are now fairly being split up between all the residents
>This is what you live for, taking from the rich and giving to the poor!
>Something does interest you though and you go through the room registry, which is just a short privilege escalation away from the water reserves
>Hopefully you didn't mess with somepon- oh no, it's just the landmare
>You've never really liked here, everytime you've seen her for the past couple days you've lived here she has come off as a massive snob
>...She was retching every time she passed you, even though you definitely think you used at least deodorant that day
>Whatever, your stomach cuts your thoughts short and you log out of the system after making it look like a hard reset
>Nothing unusual in these run down buildings, really
>Food, food... you open the fridge and immediately have to hold your hoof in front of your mouth
>Whatever was in there previously (probably from the previous pony renting this place) has turned into what you can only assume previously alive, dead and came alive again
>Any kind of food chip that might have once been in there has become nothing but a party palace for growing fungi
>You slam the thing shut, rushing over to the toilet and making sure if anything is coming up it hits its target
>Thankfully, you manage to recover after a couple minutes
"N...never ever", you swear to yourself, your brown face more green than anything at this point
Guess we gotta go out to eat, but I think we should do a quick check on the hack. We might've set it up to be automated, but if something we didn't expect is happening, we'd be a fool not to do something about it.
Op is sleepy, be back tomorrow!
we'll keep it bumped up for you!
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goodnight bump
goodlight bump
Bite the bullet and clean out the goddamn fridge
Befriend the fungal entity. She must be really chill if she lives in a fringe. Make her pay half of the rent, too.
>Guess today is an eating out sort of day you feel as you cast a glance towards your fridge and your face contorts in disgust
>But first you check on your hacking progress, wouldn't want any unexpected difficulties, now would you?
>You swipe your bracelet, bringing your progress logs into view, pleased with what you see
>Apart from the fact that it takes longer than you had initially hoped for, everything seems to be progressing quite nicely
>That is also gonna be quite a bit of money you will have in hoof after all of this is said and done
>Ideas of what to do with it start flooding your mind and you can't help but grin
>Usually, the money from your hacks is mostly being split up and sent to multiple places like the few homeless shelters and orphanages around the city
>Only a small part lands in your own pocket for rent and the like
>While you're at it, you also check the national cyber crime database and begin scrolling through, somewhat anxiously
>This is a big one, cleaning out the account of one of the big four's subsidiaries
>A sigh of relief escapes you as all you can find is your alias that you go by during your online endeavors What IS your hacker name?
>Another short glance to the fridge
>You should.... clean that out lest you want that security deposit to go bye bye
>Thankfully there is an incinerator chute almost right next to it
>Quickly finding a (dirty) cloth you wrap it around your muzzle to hopefully protect yourself from that awful fragrance lurking in that cooling machinery
>Slowly open the door, you could swear the contents are smiling back at you
>By the stars, have the contents moved around since you opened it a couple minutes ago?!
>You reach in and try to take one of the fungal infested plates out, having your other hoof ready to slam the incinerator chute shut as soon as it goes in
>When you inadvertently end up touching the growth and a small jolt goes through your entire body
>For a split second, you feel part of something bigger
>Part of a massive network, spanning miles upon miles of this world
>You feel the humidity and warmth of what you assume to be a boiler room
>At the same time there is this cool breeze that you only ever experienced a few times when you were able to take a flight through the skies between the skyscrapers
>"Welcome, kind visitor", you can hear a voice in your head
>As quickly as the sensation appeared it passes and you jump backwards, shaking your hoof before looking at it and then the fungus, terrified
>Part of you tells you to burn this place down to the ground but the other is arguing with you to just leave whatever this is alone and go get some food
>Your belly is certainly one to agree to that latter idea
Poke the thing again and see if the effect is replicable.
"Kind"? That's positively heart-melting. Forget about the incinerator, let's bring her a hamburger instead.
>What the absolute heck was that?!
>Screw the incinerator, you don't want to end up on the bad side of whatever that is
>Moreover, it called you kind visitor, there is clearly higher intelligence at play here
>You look at the what used to be food and your belly rumbles again
>It's decided, whatever this thing is, you'll bring it lunch, too
>After all you're a good (albeit stinky) roommate, even if it is fore merely a couple more days
>Your curiosity does get the better of you though and once again you reach in, slowly and shakily
>One more touch certainly couldn't hurt, right?
>...You feel disappointed as nothing happens apart from you touching a gross bit of rotten food
>Making your way to the sink immediately you make sure to clean your hoof because that stuff felt disgusting to the touch
>That brings up the question of lunch though
>A glance at your hud indicates that...
>A frown crosses your face, you barely have enough to get even the last scraps of food from the fast food place down the road
Either borrow a few coins from some pal online, or go the streets and beg for food.
check the fast food place's dumpsters. they throw out a LOT of edible food.
>For a moment you consider asking one of your pals for some money until you remember that you aren't really the social type
>Bleh, this is a pain in the flank, but you promise yourself a big meal once your job is through
>Welp, you already freshened up so why not make use of your new found cleanliness
>Heading towards your door you say goodbye to your shroomie roomie and hold your hoof to the terminal near the door
>The electric lock unlatches and grants you access into the hallway
>Your way to the elevator is swift, you certainly don't want to spend any more time than necessary out in these hallways
>This wouldn't be the first time where a pony gets stabbed from behind in front of their home by some kind of drug addict or thug
>The lift thankfully arrives quickly enough and you strap yourself into one of the seats before holding on tight
>As the metal cage goes into free fall down the next 52 floors your eyes move across the ponies sitting in the cabin with you
>A posh looking unicorn mare looks quite disgruntled, fuming even
>You recognize her as the landmare, owner of the complex and stealer of water
>There is one thing you can imagine makes her this angry and you have to do your best to hold in a snicker
>She glares at you, spots your wings poking out beneath your mane and scrunches up in disgust
>Thankfully the ride is short, free fall does that to you and you exit, heading for the front door at a brisk pace
>Looking outside, you let out a sigh
>It's raining again
>This is gonna sting, especially since you can't really purchase one of the disposable umbrellas
>But hey, there is enough ponies out on the street that you probably can weave from one umbrella to the next
>Eat that, acid rain!
>As you enact your plan, you give a longing glance at the umbrella dispenser in the lobby
>Short ways, you'll get through this you tell yourself while steeling your resolve and heading out
>Merging with the horde of ponies walking up and down the sidewalk only occasionally a raindrop hits your flank
>Still hurts every time
>You pass the burger court and head into an alley, knowing this is where their trash cans are
>Desperate times require desperate measures you say as you enter the (thankfully with a roof) trash area and open up one of the containers
>Something edible has ended up here, you can smell it
>Climbing in, you begin digging around, your belly eager to find that priced reward of maybe a few food chips that are still good
>What you didn't expect to find was the face of a mare under all that trash....
Is she breathing? We can share the food if she's alive. I'm sure there's enough for two ponies.
If she's dead, well. We'd smell her if she wasn't fresh. Are bat ponies carnivorous in this setting?
Hot damn, bona-fide meat? It's enough to make one lick his crooked fangs.
>You are taken aback by the sudden sight of fresh mea-
>The mare. You are taken aback by the sudden appearance of another pony
>Subconsciously you already started licking your fangs
>While batponies certainly CAN eat meat, the consumption has been generally frowned upon for generations
>That and you just noticed that she still seems to be breathing, actually
>It's faint but your batpony hearing (which usually just causes you sensory overload in a city this loud) can pick up the gentle rhythm of wind flowing in and out
>The mare doesn't seem to be moving at all though, other than that and she certainly hasn't been woken up by you rummaging around the trash
>You take a moment to examine what you can see of her (which is not much, since most of her except her neck and head is still buried under heaps of trash)
>Her coat seems to be a pristine white under all the dirt, almost like what you believe snow would look like, at least according to the history books
>A dark blue mane has been tied up into a ponytail, a bunch of garbage wrapped into it
>There seems to be something covered on her forehead by her mane, but it certainly is not a horn
>Something about her seems off, but you really cannot place it
>she still seems to be breathing
eh, nothing a punctured jugular couldn't fix.
We were just about ready to head out smelling like the bottom of that dumpster a little while ago, are we really going to pretend to care about societal norms?
Well, carefully check for external signs of injuries, then try to dig her out.
check her pulse with your teeth
remember that hunger is more powerful than lust
wait wait wait i think we should pull her out of the garbage first then see what we can do
And what are we going to do if she's wounded or comatose?
just eat around them if they bother you.
Nah, I only eat strong enemies. What power can you gain from a half-corpse from a dumpster? Smelliness? We already have it.
I dunno, the weird thing on her head might be some kind of powerup.
Or it may be a really bad wound, and we have nothing to pay for medical assistance with.
well, we can at least perform a field euthanasia.
>There is two primal urges that make themselves known to you at a sight like this
>And you honestly can't tell which one disturbs you more
>Well, she certainly is a beauty from what you see and you are just a stallion, so some reactions SHOULD be excused
>Even in a situation like this
>The second reaction very much is something you want to get out of your head as soon as it starts worming itself inside
>"J-just a little nibble couldn't hurt?"
>What the heck are you thinking?!
>This is why ponies are terrified at the mere sight of batponies, you're about to play right into the stereotype
>Vampires sucking the life out of the living, yikes
>Instead, you opt to do what a good pony would do and check her pulse with your very sensitive teeth
>It's there. Slow, but steady, which you with your limited knowledge interpret as a good sign
>Starting to dig around with your hooves and using your wings to assist, you gently begin freeing the pony from her stinky grave
>During your quite tedious excavation, you make a couple more discoveries
>First of all, the pony is wearing a black full body jumpsuit, a very sturdy one at that. Military grade?
>But that isn't the strangest part
>Two of her legs are missing
>Her front left and back right leg are just empty sleeves dangling around
>She still hasn't woken up and just lies there on her back, sprawled out in the trash
We're getting ourselves in some shady shit. A smarter pony would leave this place and never look back. However, we still have to find food for ourselves and for Shroomy. If it doesn't look like miss Missing Pieces need any first aid, leave her be and get back to dumpster diving.
We should take off that jumpsuit, to check if she has any wounds under it.
Check her mane, didn't she have something weird under it?
curses, it seems someone has bitten into this succulent little nugget before us. oh well, we're not above sloppy seconds.
Seconding these
>Your thoughts are all over the place, especially places that you don't want your thoughts to be
>Thankfully, with the situation the way it is you are more than able to ignore them for now as curiosity gets the better of you
>Which is a terrible idea because quite frankly this is some really fucking shady shit and there is just all matters of alarms going off in your head
>Also shroomy is definitely waiting at home and you don't want to disappoint your new friend
>The mare at least doesn't seem to be in total need of medical attention, at least from what you can glance right now
>Still, you can't just leave here like this and begin to remove the jumpsuit, which turns out to be basically a perfect fit
>You tug and pull to no avail, until you accidentally hit some kind of button on the collar causing the suit to losen so you can easily pull it off
>It's hardly a hard task anymore as the clothing just slights off, revealing...
>The parts where the two legs should attach to the body are clearly cybernetic attachment points
>Her missing legs are meant to be prosthetics and judging from that interface advanced ones
>Pulling the suit over her back reveals two more attachment points where the wings of a pegasus would be
>Along her back you also find a reinforced spine, multiple lights blinking slowly, probably indicating some kind of status to her body
>Following it upwards, you see a small what seems to be a direct diagnostics port on the back of her neck
>Pushing away the mane another attachment port is visible on her skull
>Whoever she is, she clearly is heavily modified and...
>You didn't notice before in the stink, but there is a distinct smell of sedatives
bah, we can't very well feast on a pony with this much metal in it. perhaps a ripperdoc would be able to extract something of value.
Can we try wearing the jumpsuit?
Connect to her diagnostics port and see what her systems have to say.
It's not safe here. Would it raise any eyebrows if a batpony will carry an unconscious body to his apartment? It is a serious question.
Hack the mare, see where her parts went, if we can find whoever took them and steal her parts, we could either give them back or sell them
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What about selling them back to her?
>Such a nice jumpsuit would be a shame to just leave it here and have it go to waste
>You try it on and it immediately shrinks down to accommodate your definitely smaller than her frame
>It's quite comfortably, but definitely skin tight without impacting your movement too much
>At least your thoughts of having a quick snack have been thwarted by the idea of just how much metal must be in her
>You weren't honestly expecting to have to connect to a physical port when going out
>Which means to interface with her you actually need to get home and get one of your physical jacks
>But you also can't really leave her like this here out in the open... or the garbage
>The idea of finding her missing limbs sounds crazy but might also net you quite the price on the black market
>Unless you of course prefer to give it back
>But that is a question for later, for now you gotta take her to a safer place
>It won't hurt trying to scrounge through the trash again though, maybe one of her legs is there
>5 minutes later you didn't come up with any legs
>You DID however, find a half eaten veggie sandwich
>Looking at the mare you imagine the best thing you can do is bring her home to your apartment
>You doubt ponies will care much, they are way too busy with their own thoughts to bother with anything else
>And so it shall be done, you tell yourself as you put the (really fucking heavy) mare across your back and attempt to trot home
>...only to realize that she is crushing you under her weight and you probably won't get far like this
>You need a better way to transport her, maybe something you can pull?
>This alley might have enough stuff to put something together, or you can try and go home to find something to move her or a cable to interface
>But leaving her alone like this also doesn't sit entirely right with you
Steal a shopping cart. Or hack a robot-advertiser.
Ehhh, it feels too cliche to rescue somepony we've just met. We got a sweet jumpsuit and half a sandwich, no need to bother ourselves with her.
So long as today isn't garbage collection day, it might be safer to hide her inside the trash pile. IF we need to leave her unattended, that is.
pull a deathstranding a put her in a basket and drag it along
To be fair, it's not very original either, to rob somebody you've just met and run away.
hey do we got anything like floating carriors in this universe?
>Well, you could try and steal a shopping cart if you had any grocery stores nearby
>For some reason it feels really cliché to rescue somepony you have just met
>That usually ends up with ponies getting wrapped up in the weirdest shit in sims
>But hey, so is robbing the unconscious maiden, so you already broke one of the rules
>You check the date and calender
>Garbage collection isn't until in two days so you should just be able to put...her...back...into...
>...the garbage pile you pulled her out from
>Gently closing the lid of the container you call that good enough for now
>Looking around the alley, you do find an old and broken scooter with a wheel missing
>Ain't looking good unless you find a way to repair that
>You do have a small cart at home that you use for getting groceries
>It's just so much simpler having to take one trip every month than multiple weekly trips
>She should definitely fit into it that easily
>Could also just go and fetch the cable, although you aren't sure that will be enough
>You sneak out of the alleyway and back towards your home when you hear sirens pass you by
>The wagons are clearly station compliance vehicles
>Turning your head after them, you are glad to see that they pass by the alley without slowing down
>The rest of your trip is mostly uneventful, you did take the veggie sandwich with you at least though
>Just gotta figure out how to best share that with Shroomy, if at all
>What will you do once you reach your place?
>how to best share that with Shroomy
60:40, no haggling.
>She should definitely fit into it that easily
Great, do this, then. But the amputee is sleeping in the cart. The bathtub is ours. It smells right, like a bat nest.
>What will you do once you reach your place?
I'd say if we plan on taking her to our place we should let at least the main area air out a bit so our hunky stallion bat musk doesnt short circuit her nose
>With a satisfying click the lock unlatches as your room opens up and you hurry your batty ass inside
>Yeah, you clearly never had a mare over and anypony can smell it
>Quickly you rush over to the window and pull it wide open, the air rushing past you immediately
>And with it all the smog that is hanging in the city's air
>You cough a bunch of times as you fall backwards onto the floor, waving your wings to clear out the smoke from your place
>With mediocre success
>Thank the moon that your smoke alarm is busted ever since you got here, otherwise you might have caused the entire complex to evacuate
>Or be drenched by the emergency sprinklers, if they even work here
>Closing the window you take a sniff and confirm: Yes, the smoke smell is very much hiding your bat musk
>You open the fridge and greet your shroommate with a curt hello as you begin cutting the veggie sandwich
"60:40", you tell her before you stop abruptly and look into the fridge
"What? No! Look, you got to chill here in the fridge while I went out into the streets for this beauty, you can't just-"
"Hey, hey I know you've been living here for longer than I do but still that doesn't excu-"
"A bat has to eat!"
>You shake your head and frown
"55:45, final offer!", you firmly exclaim and wait for a moment
>With a smile you nod and finish cutting the sandwich, putting the smaller slice next to the plate
"I'll have a visitor over, so do me a favor and be on your best behavior, alright?"
>You could have sworn the mass of growth gave you a wink
>Is insanity beginning to set in?
>Quickly closing the door you take a panicked breath
>You head into your room and rummage around for your small cart
>Good enough to transport her, good enough for her to sleep in
>The bathtub is yours
>As you exit your bedroom you pass the holo mirror and look at yourself
>Should you change your mane and tail color? Your eye color? Both are possible thanks to your hardware
>Or just leave as you did previously?
>Anything else you are going to do before heading back to the alley?
maybe pick up all of the trash you've accumulated over the months
Considering we're going to be transporting an incomplete mare through the city, might be a good idea to not be recognizable.
seconded, it would look less suspicious if we went to the dumpster with actual garbage to dispose of.
>Looking around your room as a final check before you bring the mare here you decide that this is a pigsty
>You pick up one of the energy drink cans off of the floor and look at your cart before tossing it in
>There is so much trash here, this might actually very much work in your favor here
>Going through the apartment you take everything you can find that looks even remotely like garbage and chuck it in
>A couple minutes later you have what amounts to a decently sized mountain of garbage
>Scurrying around the place you also find an old stained bedsheet that you put over it and fasten it to the cart
>One last thing before you go, you stand in front of the mirror and tap your bracelet
>Your mane color quickly shifts from the usual grey to a muted purple and your contacts turn your eyes into something less bat-like
>A jacket over your back hides the wings easily enough, it's routine by now
>Satisfied with your work you hook the cart up to your back with the harness and leave, taking the elevator down
>Down in the lobby you pass by the reception and hear the tail end of a conversation from behind a locked door
>"-with MY water will rue the day they crossed me", the angry shouts of your landmare are heard, no doubt standing behind a quivering technician
>You hurry your step just ever so slightly as you make it out into the street
>The acid rain thankfully has stopped and things are as uneventful as they could be
>It doesn't take you more than a couple minutes to move back into the alley and you unload your trash into the container
>While nopony is looking you pull out the mare who thankfully has not disappeared into the cart and use the bedsheet to cover her back up
>It is at that moment where the sirens come back, getting louder and louder quickly
>They are still searching, but they might again pass the alley like earlier
>Or maybe you should try and make a run for it?
>throwing our trash in before pulling her out
How gentlemanly.
Anyways, we've already invested too much time into this to chicken out at the last minute. If the cops ask, we thought she was a broken android.
They have no reason to suspect us, let's keep it this way. Act nice and unassuming. What is a station compliance? Can they detain us?
Throw some trash back into the cart just incase anybody insists on looking.
>carting trash AWAY from a dumpster
almost as suspicious as carrying an unconscious pony in your cart
We're a hacker who's best meal was half of half of a sandwich someone couldn't be bothered to eat. We're not out running an emaciated one legged child while hauling a fatass mare that weighs nearly twice our own weight let alone the cops.
Hide, the cops don't want to bother with trash.

Honestly if this world is as fucked as it seems there are probably fights over who gets first pick of the trash.
Actually she has two legs but you're right, hiding is probably a good idea
become the most convincing homeless pony and pull some of that trash back in the cart to cover the mare, then if the feds ask, just say you was trying to find something of worth
Is there a way to figure out what the cops are doing here (like police scanners or something)?
You've never seen a homeless person then?
not everyone lives in cali, jackass.
QM? dont tell me you died
Cali would probably be a luxury resort compared to this setting.
Gonna get out of bed and continue writing.
Sorry, had something important that came up
Cool. Don't worry about it.
don't sweat it, it's just all too common for quests to die over the first thread so people are a little on edge.
>Your head jumps between the now mare-filled cart, the dumpster and the entrance of the alley
>With your build you are very much not outrunning a one legged, emaciated foal so you only really have one option
>Doing what every pony in your situation clearly would have done you reenact your best homeless pony impression
>Diving into the container you pull out some of the trash and cover the pony in your cart with it
>Really, that shower earlier today comes biting you in the ass, you smell way too good for a hobo
>No matter, you doubt station compliance, which is the main police force under the Big Four, will sniff you to figure that out
>New Equestria is split up into smaller units of management, called a station, which a pony is stuck in unless they get a digital invitation to an adjacent station
>Great way for keeping your population neatly split between rich and poor and under control
>Covering up the trash pile in your cart that you really hoped you might finally be rid off you sigh
>Thankfully, ponies going through garbage looking for things to use and sell isn't unheard off, especially in a slum station like this one
>Another thing that comes to your mind is going ahead and checking what has gotten the security so up in arms
>Their task queue has been basically unsecured for years, it is an open book to anypony willing to dig just a little
>They know, but it makes for a nice intimidation tactic for anyone worried about the police being after them when they check
>Small robbery, corporate espionage, nothing really out of the usual that would warrant this much of a task force presence
>A voice rips you out of your thoughts
>"Hey you, hooves up NICE AND SLOW", it shouts into the alley and you immediately jump up
>You turn your head and a bright flashlight shines in your face
>The seconds are tense and the cone of light moves around the alley for what feels like minutes, yet your HUD tells you it was just a couple seconds
>"Just a street rat", the pony on the other end says into a radio before turning around and leaving
>Your heart is thumping and you are frozen in terror for a couple minutes
>Fuck this was close, you say as you glance back at the mare that got you into this situation
>Should you wait? Just get the hell back to your home? Try and get more info on what's going on?
>You take a deep breath to think about your next move here
every minute you spend dicking about on the streets is another minute this mare's case of sleeping beauty syndrome could turn fatal.
The only reason to linger that I can think of is to disable possible trackers in her. But it seems like we didn't bring the cable.
>Absolutely no point dilly dallying any further, her life might be in danger
>You're not a doctor so you can't really tell, especially without your interface cable
>Who the heck still uses hardwired connections in the current day and age age?!
>Hooking up the cart to your back with its harness, you begin pulling
>Gosh darn she is HEAVY even with wheels under her
>What you wouldn't give for an antigrave carriage right about now
>Fortunately for you, nopony bats an eye as you pass the streets with a cart filled with trash
>Just another day in the life of new equestria
>The way to your apartment is a little strenuous but not eventful
>What you aren't quite so happy with is what you see as you pass through the door to your complex
>Just as you are entering the lobby, the door behind the reception opens and an angry landmare steps out
>She spots you, spots the trash heap in your cart and starts to go even redder
>"What is the MEANING of this?", she starts screaming at you
>"A trash rat in MY apartment? NOT ON MY WATCH", she turns around and calls back into the room she just came out of
>"Guards, someone call the guards and have this eye sore removed!", she demands before stepping towards you
>She really doesn't look happy, not that you've ever seen her look happy anyways
>Right now she is putting her hoof to her bracelet and your own contacts zoom in on her eyes, seeing a security HUD open up
>Full view lenses too, interesting
oh fuck oh shit
Is there any chance to explode some pipes somewhere to distract her? No, no, not realistic. We can either humbly plead or retreat. Or both. Yes, do both. Tell her that we didn't mean any harm and we're already leaving.
How quickly can we rent a new apartment somewhere else using money from the ongoing hack? Or do we already have a hideaway prepared in case if we'll have to leave this place in a hurry?
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Quick, use your piercing bat screech to disorient her!
Tell her to relax, you were just taking those trash out, but forgot you left the stove on.
does our shitheap of an apartment even have a stove?
Well shit, just make up something plausible.
>Full view lenses
Does that mean her vision is completely obscured right now? What's stopping us from straight up ganking her?
It's for a... Post modern art project to... Comment on some aspects of current society and the potential future we might be barreling towards.

Hopefully she's just as pretentious as she is a prick.
>Oh shit, oh fuck what do what do whatdowhatdowhatdo
>Blow up a pipe nearbie? Overwriting water pressure might work but could take too long
>Retreat? Where would you even be going?!
>In panic you fall back to natural instincts and screech like the bats of old
>A defense mechanism that has been known to be quite effective on cybernetics, especially auditory ones
>Something something your specific frequency of screeching interfering something something
>It's not something you ever put too much dedication into learning how it works, just that it does
>The landmare stops mid-movement and pins her ears to her head
>No earpiece but she looks a little stunned for the moment
>You quickly regain your composure though and begin to apologize
>She seems still a little out of it, which might be working in your favor
"This is... it is part of a modern art piece that I am working on, a comment on some aspects of current society, the potential future we might be barreling towards and the connections we lost"
>You try and sound as pretentious as possible
"This 'trash' signifies the lows that we go through", you begin to explain pulling something out of your ass
>The mare just stands there, flabbergasted for a couple seconds
>And then the unthinkable happens... she starts to smile
>"Oh my gosh, I didn't know we had such a refined artist living in this place! I assume you were heading up to your room? My sincerest apologies!",
>She gets kind of close and personal to you
>"Darling, you must tell me more about your work! Perhaps even a private showing? I would oh so adore seeing a master at their work!"
>This is getting weird, but she definitely ended up buying your lie
>You glance back at the trash pile in your cart hiding the mare

Full view lenses just allow the lense to project an image over your entire field of view. There is partial view lenses which are way less expensive but also only have a very small portion of your FoV usable as a screen. FV can also overlay colors and stuff like that over your entire eye like we've done to hide our batpony eyes, PV can't do that
Sorry, no can do. My muse is calling me. Perhaps another time?
now that we're not getting the cops called on us, can we covertly make a pipe go boom? I mean, the boom isn't going to be covert, but us causing it should be.
Pause then look at her thoughtfully humming quietly as we try to buy time to come up with more bullshit that won't end up getting us kicked out of our apartment.
No harm done. I can tell you more if you truly like, and... Hmm, I wouldn't mind you watching me to through my process, unfortunately for this particular piece with the bleakness I'm merely attempting to portray I think your positive presence might taint my work.
It's hard to give a true mirror if the world or at least a slice of it from a certain perspective when that image in my mind is hard to focus on because of such a powerful presence.
Perhaps next time when I have a more positive project?

'Ugh, I feel sick...'
>You shake your head and give her a frown
"Sorry, miss. No can do, I best work in private but I shall let you know where to see the piece once it is completed"
>You mull over your response, trying to add that little bit extra to not get kicked out of your apartment
"When one works on a piece like this, the mood needs to be just right, a certain bleakness being portrayed requires the same bleakness to be present during creation"
>Looking her up and down you nod
"Having your positive presence would unfortunately lead to a distraction from my goal that may taint this work, perhaps another time, when I work on a more positive project?"
>"Oh, oh yes, I absolutely understand", she says, eagerly nods and steps aside, offering you access to the elevator
>Pressing the button you wait a couple harrowing seconds before the elevator arrives with a ding
>The ponies inside unstrap themselves and head out, leaving you alone in the carriage and you quickly press the panel
>Outside the mare gives you a big smile and eager wave as the doors shut and you are once again alone and in peace
>With the sudden urge to blow up a pipe, now that you are out of immediate danger
>But why exactly would you do that and which pipe would you want to overload in the first place?
>The thoughts keep you occupied until you finally arrive on your floor, step out and make your way to your room with a brisk pace
>Nopony is around to see you enter and you shut the door with a sigh of relief
>First things first, you get rid of all the garbage that you've dumped on the poor mare, making sure she hasn't suffocated under there in the meantime
>Again, not a doctor but she is still breathing just as calmly as she did when you found her
>Next you open the fridge and greet shroomie, noting that while the sandwich you left in there is still in the same position, the fungal growth is covering most of it already
>Girl seems to very much be enjoying the treat you brought
"Got someone over, so be good, ok?", you give the mold a smile before once again closing the door to the fridge
>You now have a sleeping, half nugget mare in your still quite frankly very dirty apartment
>This is certainly not how you imagined your first time bringing a mare home would go...
Plug in and get it over with.
How's our hack doing?
With no foreplay? How brutish.
Before we stick our plug in her socket, do we have any protection? The last thing we need is some virus jumping from her to our system.
>While you're currently in relative peace and safety you decide to check up on the progress of your hack
>The countdown gives you an estimated 72 minutes and 13 seconds remaining until completion
>After that you will have to start and set up a fake business, fake bank accounts and do all the re-routing shenanigans to make sure the money can't be traced
>That and you should also decide where you want to send it to in the end or what you want to do with it
>The longer a big sum of money is in your possession, the riskier it is and the higher the chance someone will find out
>Would suck if you were going to get caught because of such a rookie mistake
>For now, you have other things you gotta deal with
>Namely a mare that is currently unconscious and possibly (but you believe not) in life-threatening condition
>Hurrying into your bedroom you start going through a box of wires that you have gathered over the years
"No, no, not it, not that one either, too big, WAAAYY too big, this one might break her, broken...", you dig and dig
>Until you are at the bottom, a single cable remaining
>One of the oldest but most sturdy pieces of connector hardware that you have
>It's a simple one but you never had problems with that plug, it has fit into every socket so far
>You wonder how compatible that mare's socket would be with your other connectors
>Not that it really matters, you get back out and connect the one end of the wire to your hoofband and are about to insert yourself into her receptacle-
>What the heck are you doing, you're better than this
>Going back into your room you pull out a small dongle that you gently plop over the plug hanging off your computer
>There, protection. No hacker worth their salt should ever connect to an unknown port without one of these
>The HUD in your vision confirms the successful installation of a sandbox adapter
>Alright, here goes... gently, gently
>Why are your hooves shaking y-you have totally done this before many times!
>A click confirms that you have successfully made contact
>What happens next was unexpected as it was terrifying
>Lines of information and code cover your vision and you fall backwards, still tethered to the mare you weren't going far though
>Windows opening left and right, data being down- and uploaded, connections being secured, military encryption standards being installed
>Fuck, this looks terrible, it looks like your protection was torn wide open
>And just as suddenly as everything appeared, everything closes itself again and a single window remains

>Arcano-Harmonic Subcarrier Wave compatible device detected
>SymCom Network initialized.... Done
>Building subarcano link channel.... Done
>Securing with encryption level FROST.... Done
>Awaiting link confirmation from Mainframe.... Failed
>Alternative link device connected, establish C&C?

>The window can be moved aside and doesn't block you from doing anything, luckily
>establish C&C
Who would be in command, and who would be in control?
Before proceed figure out what the other uploads and downloads were. If this is some virus bomb trap that we got caught because of the half nuggetness of the mare then we're in deep shit.
Start going through our files and figure out what in the damn crap happened.

Also damn, that's way tighter then we expected, the security is too notch. We're not going to last long if this keeps up and if she has any viruses we're double screwed.

If we can't figure anything else right now, click yes on the C&C. Our protections busted, we may as well go all the way and finish.
>One of the oldest but most sturdy pieces of connector hardware
So, horse db25? She's been designed by ponies of culture, I see.

Consider our hoofband computer compromised from now on. It doesn't matter if her dentata will damage it further, we'll have to buy a new hoofband in any case. May as well.
>You spent a moment trying to process what the heck just happened
>That is the single word that keeps coming up in your mind and you can't help but to become pale
>This might have just cost you everything you've worked for
>Uploads and downloads, what the heck was that all about?
>Quickly you scramble through your files and logs trying to understand what happened
>Firewall reports one prevented attempt to contact a remote server which about coincides with the time of trying to contact that mainframe
>The attempted link bounces a lot and you probably would lose track of it fairly quickly unless you really sit down and try to trace the path it would have taken
>Regarding the data that has been transferred....
>A lot of that seems to be local synchronization with your bracelet, genetic imprint data, time resync, positional data
>There was also a download of recent news stories from multiple news feeds, nothing that would look suspicious to anypony
>Multiple files have been loaded from the mare to your bracelet too, puppeteer, sdiag, scomd, to name a few
>Curiously enough, none of these files have been run and your virus scanner returns clean results on all of them
>No new background processes either, although that doesn't mean much
>Something capable of overcoming the protection dongle might have very well messed way deep with your system files
>You glance down at your ol' reliable, you've had this baby for a long, long time
>Guess in addition to the new pair of lenses a new processor bracelet is in order
>With a tentative nod you confirm the Yes option on the prompt and your lenses... crash
>Your HUD disappears and the entire bracelet system re-initializes
>The boot prompt is concerningly different now
>A spinning snowflake, with the text Project FROST below it shows up in your peripheral vision
>Your earpiece comes to live: "Preparing C&C environment, requesting level of available security... biometric security container detected, installing..."
>A progress bar appears in front of you, "overwriting bio-secure..."
>If it was possible to become even paler, you might just have done that
>All your more sensitive work has been stored inside this biometrically secured partition
>"Completed. Project FROST C&C loaded. Puppeteer ready to engage", your earpiece tells you and a new HUD returns
>This one looks way more militaristic and simple
>And right in the corner you spot a small illustration of a pony, two of the legs marked as missing
>Multiple other warnings are also displayed
>A status above notifies you that routine PERMAFROST is currently engaged, giving you the option to cancel that task
This is some deep shit we got ourselves into. What warnings are currently on display?
Tentatively engage puppeteer mode.
Try sdiag.
Or rather, "sdiag -h"

By the way, I suspect PERMAFROST is what's currently keeping the mare unconscious.
PERMAFROST seems like the thing that's keeping her asleep. Before we disable it, we should carefully examine our files to see what changed, particularly in the bio-secure partition.
I'm not a fan of puppeteers
scomd -h too. There must be a key that lists currently active command, we probably want to cancel some of them before unpermafrosting her.
>A closer glance at the warnings brings up multiple things of note
>Missing comm-link transceiver and arcano-focus is one alert that is visible next to the head
>Missing Aerial mobility thrusters above the diagram's back
>Seems like there is more than just her legs missing
>Of course, missing movement units front and back
>sdiag must be some kind of diagnostics tool you think, calling it with the help flag displays a LOT of options available to you
>As you expected, it serves as a deep dive into whatever processes are currently running and whatever the sensors are currently picking up
>A deep scan sounds like a good idea at first, you should make sure you know what you are getting into here
>The diagram on your HUD begins to update, more warnings popping up
>Movement unit front: PERF. DEGR.
>A broken bone is displayed in the upper part of her leg
>Arcanocore: PERF. DEGR.
>Neuro-Stimuli-Level: Low
>Neural activity: Lowered by external neuro-stimuli
>Metabolism: Lowered by external neuro-stimuli
>A list of processes can be called upon as well, most of them meant to run "mundane" tasks like interpret neurological signals to drive the many artificial muscles
>puppeteerd can also be found in the list, a quick info call on the process tells you
>"Surpression of neurological pathways and injection of external signaling"
>The description makes you shudder ever so slightly, even though you aren't sure what that is supposed to mean
>PERMAFROST controls multiple sub-processes, including a neuroinj process
Find and read the list of her active commands. We have to know what she is going to do if we'll let her wake up.
Find and read the system log. We have to know what brought her to the dumpster and who is going to try to track her down.
Rig up a splint for her fracture.
Then, and only then, cancel the PERMAFROST.
Crap a broken bone. That'll be fun and like tartarus I'm hauling her fatflanks to a hospital, cops would snag her.
Maybe if I make her lick the fridge mold the military circuits could tell me what it is... Or maybe it'd kill her.

Well, better get that bone properly in place and splint it before she wakes up. Or I matrix into her mind.

Look around for two straight sturdy pieces of wood metal or most likely, plastic.
Then get some rope bandages... Probably most likely some old clothes so rancid not even we'd wear them anymore.
Set her leg right jiggling them around until they click together like a giant awful Lego piece.
Then tie the two pieces of sturdy material to her leg on opposite sides with two tie points one above and one below the break.

Another successful procedure!
Implement a dead man's switch that would automatically activate the puppeteer mode if she'll attack or immobilize us.
>sdiag gives you access to her queue of commands she has been tasked to follow
>There is only a single one: ESCAPE
>Logs are harder to access... which is to say neigh impossible
>The system doesn't seem to have any conventional memory banks to store information on, which greatly surprises and confuses you
>Instead, trying to access any kind of system logs returns an error that just tells you SDTD, something you have no real clue what that means
>You have to do something about her leg, though
>If you just leave the break she might end up crippled for the rest of her life
>Or you might cripple her for the rest of her life but a splint should not be that difficult to apply, right?
>A quick search on the net give you an albeit simplified but hopefully sufficient guide
>Need something to keep her leg straight... and something to tie it all up nicely
>Maybe a couple of wires will do? No, no that isn't gonna stay tight enough
>There is your bedsheets that you can use, not like you have really made use of them otherwise since you came here
>Hard to hold on to a blanket while hanging down from a bar of metal
>As for something to keep the leg straight, you glance at your table and going at it, smash it to pieces, using two of the legs
>This proves difficult at first and you decide to just use a torch to heat up the legs and pull the molten plastic off
>Splint materials: Check
>You head over to the mare, and take a deep breath
>The next part is gonna suck, you think to yourself as you read the instructions
>Carefully you take her leg and begin jiggling it around until you feel the two pieces of bone fitting together
>It feels wrong and all, it's hard to not just drop her leg and run away
>But you absolutely can't take her to a hospital either, the feds would be all over here in minutes you're sure
>After securing the leg in the (hopefully) correct position, you gently put it back down
>You are about to deactivate PERMAFROST when you are reminded that she might be dangerous when she wakes up
>A dead-man's switch should do, triggered on hostile attack or immobilization
>Anything else you forgot to do before you wake her up? Or should you just bite the bullet
>Maybe you should write a goodbye letter to Shroomie....
On one hoof, she's missing two legs and one of the ones she has left is broken. On the other hoof she's loaded down with so much military tech she might be armed to the teeth, quite literally.
Check if she's got sawblade teeth or laser eyes.
Screwing with the code in there is probably a bad idea. Just wake her up, though be ready to open our fridge so we can make her pass out from the smell of our roommate if we need to.
Don't wanna have her jump out of our window in an ill-considered attempt to escape. Cancel the ESCAPE command. Or, better yet, rewrite it with "FIND OUT WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY AND TRY TO LIVE A FULFILLING LIFE OR SOMETHING, I DON'T KNOW, ALSO TRY TO AVOID KILLING ANY FRIENDLY PONIES, THANKS".
I figure we should open our fridge, let Shroomie see what's happening. Who knows, it might be able to help if things go south.
nonononono, absolutely NO new commands should be issued until we figure out what the fuck's going on.
I don't see why not, but okay. Can we at least cancel the one that's already there?
cancelling should be fine, but issuing some vague "just be happy" command could result in it being interpreted in any number of unintended ways.
The important part was "don't hurt me".
That command can be issued if and when it becomes necessary. Let's at least try to extend our hoof in friendship before forcing her to do anything.
Sorry, couldn't get another update out and gotta sleep now, waging in the morning.
Will try to push and update in the morning.
Feel free to discusd what to do or just keep it bumped
>waging in the morning
>update in the morning
You QM on the clock?
how would shroomie even read the letter if he's confined to the fridge?
if you wanna have a heart to heart...fungus...whatever before you die, you can just talk to him, he's right there.
Does shroomie count as an art project?
>Even with two legs missing and one broken, she might still be able to kill you with... sawblade teeth? Laser eyes?
>You lift open her mouth just ever so slightly and it doesn't look like she has any kind of moving teeth that could cut you to pieces
>puppeteer seems to allow you to modify the task queue that you've seen earlier
>You mull it over and decide it might be best to cancel that objective, lest you want her jump out of the window or something
>For a second you consider adding a "DON'T KILL ME PLEASE" command to the list but maybe extending a hoof in friendship is the way to go
>Better not mess with the rest of it until you have a good idea of what the heck is going on
>Not like you can't go ahead and issue the command later
>If you are not dead by then
>Also you just remembered that shroomie probably can't read, what the hell were you thinking
>You walk up to the fridge door and open it for him? her? it? to see what's going on
"If I don't make it out of this alive, take good care of this place for me, a'right?"
>As you look at the fridge you chuckle
"You know, you'd make a really cool art project, all things considered"
"What? No of cooourrrseee I'm not delaying, what the heck a-"
"Oh my gosh, yes ok, I'll get it, I'll wake her up! Geeeezz, so impatient!"
>You slowly turn around and look at sleeping beauty still lying in the cart
>With a deep breath, you call upon puppeteer and disengage PERMAFROST with a shaky hoof to your bracelet
>The warning from earlier about neural activity being subdued is replaced with "APPLYING COUNTER-MEASURES"
>Throughout her entire body you can hear the quiet sounds of motors beginning to whirr and she starts shaking
>Before after what felt like minutes she pops open her eyes with a gasp for air
>An involuntary spasm of her leg sends you flying into the couch with an "Oof" and your breath being forced out of your lungs
>Ouch, that'll be a bruise at least for sure
>She tries to wiggle around and get up, her expression panicked and her breathing nearing hyperventilation levels
>"What? Where?", her icy blue eyes dart around the room and fall on you
>Something deeply unnerving is how they focus on you, as if they were staring right into your soul
>Multiple warnings are flashing on the screen now, one of them saying "Mental Instability: PANIC. Apply countermeasures?"
>But the words that stand out the most to you are "PROJECT FROST: ONLINE"
If you take a moment to stop freaking out we'll try to answer some of your questions.
In the world of the living. Found you in a dumpster, don't ask me why I was looking around in a dumpster.
Calm yourself please, the walls male paper look thick and if you get my landladies attention she'll probably call the cops.
Also one of your legs is broken.
This place smells and looks like a trash container, but it won't get you compacted in two days. Seriously, what were you thinking? You don't sleep in trash containers without an alarm clock. Being compacted hurts.
okay now let try to calm down this mystery mare
would it be a good idea to screech again, to snap her out of it?
Probably not. Could be seen as a war cry or mating call if she's racist.
"Hey, hey please calm down you're back in the world of the living"
>While trying to move your sides tell you a very decisive fuck you and you flinch
>But this is important so you decide to power through the pain
>She keeps trying to thrash about in the cart, making quite a ruckus
>For a second you think about making use of your natural powers of eeEEEEE, but she might pick that one up as a war cry
>....or a mating call, for all you know
>Trying to get closer while avoiding her limbs you decide to sit down next to her and carefully reach out with a hoof
>You put it on her side and gently try to radiate your own calmness in hopes it manages to make her feel safer
"While this place may look and smell like a dumpster, I can assure you it won't get you compacted like the real deal", you attempt to lighten the mood with a joke
>Her eyes are still glued on you but at least her panicked movements have stopped for now
"Your hindleg is broken, so you should do yourself the favor and not move it too much, at least not until it is healed a little at least"
>The mention of her broken appendage makes her glance down towards it and flinch as she moves it ever so slightly
"I brought you to my place, found you in a dumpster outside... don't ask why I was looking through the trash", you look away, scratching your neck
>The warning of Mental Instability has by now disappeared as she seemingly relaxes at least somewhat
>"A... dumpster?", she asks, her voice sounding smooth and gentle, a voice you feel like you could trust immediately
>It does have a certain... digital undertone to it though
>"Memory access available", your HUD notifies you as the SDTD status is lifted
>She looks around and puts her one good hoof to her chin. "Yes... I think I was... running"
>The mare seems rather confused at her current predicament
>Her gaze falls down onto your hoof and the wire snaking towards her neck
>Reaching up with a hoof her face contorts into terror
>"H-have I been captured? Who are you? Are you with them?! Oh by the stars please, l-let me leave I don't... I can't.."
>She breaks out in shivers again as she tries to push you away with her front hoof
>At least this time it is not a kick throwing you through the room
>She at least seems receptive to your words right now, so maybe questions are in order? Or perhaps an introduction?
>Or you could try something entirely different, your brain loves coming up with weird ideas and things to say recently
okay first things first disconnect the wire from her and assure the mare you're not whoever she thinks you are
I plugged in so I could get you to wake up. You were out cold, cold as... PERMAFROST.
Do I look like one of THEM to you? Who are THEY, anyway?
'Maybe I've been getting high off of moldy? Some mushrooms have that effect right?'
First, you're not really captured. But you certainly aren't going anywhere on your own in the state you're in.
Second, your hardware and software is nuts I can only imagine what kind of legs you had. The wrong pony sees you and you're getting stripped for parts.
Third, the cable is how I woke you up. Your system said something about you getting drugged or something I don't know.
Also we need to properly unplug the wire thank you, seriously what sort of mook just yanks one of these out, finesse mare, ever heard of it? Open up your outside connections and uninstall it properly.

'I really wouldn't like to meet whatever managed to break her leg.'
Calm down, you won't make it far running on a half-broken pair of legs. Why don't we start with some basic introductions?
We can't introduce ourselves because we have no name. A pity.
but we do >>38923817
It's only a nickname. Either that, or our mother was a real crazy bitch.
okay lets agree on a not shitty name first

i vote Shutin
yeah can we put this on a quick pause till we figure out a good name?
Don't say it like that. That is the absolute lamest way to say it.
Fuk, I thought we had one I just missed it or something.

Quebert Dinkles?
Probably not a good idea to give out our real name too freely anyway, considering our line of work.
We found you drugged and packed into a dumpster missing a few body parts. Also, before you comment on us wearing your coat, we needed it for a disguise. Somebody dragging a drugged mare through the streets isn't unheard of in this town, but it draws the wrong kind of attention.
Sure, I can go ahead and write up a new part and post it when you decide on a name I guess.
Or I'll just go with >>38931508, if you guys prefer that.
You guys definitely never came up with a real name or decided on a proper hacker alias except >>38923817
>hacker alias
I nominate BitRot
how about HyperS0ni3?
>Is getting high on mold a thing, could that be the cause for your sudden glints of genius?
>You take just a quick glance at your fridge and give it a short frown
>Certainly something you have to talk about later on, getting high off of your roommate sounds less than ideal
>Sure hope Shroomie isn't the addictive type
"Hey, hey easy there. You're not captured, even though I...", you look down at half of her limbs missing, "I doubt you'll get far on your own, the state you are currently in"
>The prospect of not actually being in captivity certainly helps her relax just ever so slightly, even though she still seems tense
"I jacked in so I could wake you up, you were out... well, cold. Here, let me just unplug this"
>Gently reaching to her neck a shiver jolts through her body as you put your hoof down on the plug, pulling it out carefully
>The HUD in your vision flickers and a lot of the diagnostics disappear, but the overview of her stays up
>"Hardlink lost. Wireless link via arcano-subcarrier established" flashes next to it a couple times before disappearing
>Putting the wire down you decide to help her up into a seating position, using a dirty bundle of clothes to support her from falling over
>"Let's start with introductions, alright? I'm 2dr4c00l4sk00l", you proudly proclaim
>She stares at you in disbelief at that name and a disappointed frown starts showing on her face
>It takes you every bit of willpower to not break out in laughter but eventually you can't help but start snickering
>"H-hey, are you making fun of me?", the mare asks, lowering her eyes at you with a scowl
"O-oh gosh no, I was just making a joke! I went by many names, Shutin, HyperS0ni3, Crookuter.... Recently BitRot as well"
>You hold out a hoof. "Nice making your acquaintance, who are you?", you give her a friendly grin, your teeth showing in the process
>Carefully she takes your hoof and starts shaking it
>"Fully Remotely Operated Subversion & Termination unit", she introduces herself formally, her voice taking on a slightly robotic undertone
>The name makes your blood freeze in your veins and the kind of hardware she is carrying is beginning to make just ever so slightly more sense
"Your uh... hardware and software sure is nuts. The wrong pony would love to strip you for parts for the blackmarket.... did you get your cyberware from... them? Who are they?"
>"The identity of the Investors is not known to this unit as security clearance has been revoked"
>"This unit's combat readiness is at.... calculating.... 37%. Missing hardware imposes penalty and must be corrected at earliest convenience"
...Okay... So, more tech in your brain then I thought. That can't be legal. Not that following the law would keep the police off of your ass.
So why don't you go over... What you can I suppose. How did a killer cyborg end up in a dumpster missing half her legs. I checked by the way, your other limbs weren't in the trash with you.
Are you an android?
So before I woke you up, I took note of an "escape" command in your queue. I didn't want you to jump out of a window or something, so I cancelled it. Did... did you put that there? You sure seemed to be looking for an escape.
>You cock your head at mare in front of you, her robotic demeanor seeming really fishy to you
"You aren't an android by any chance, are you?", she very much sounds like one
>She cocks her head at you before frowning at you, losing that robotic edge
>"A robot? Heaven's no, how could you say something like that! I'm a mare, through and through!"
>Looks like you struck a bit of a nerve there, nice going genius
"I am... sorry, I didn't mean that", you try to apologize and your ears droop as you look away
>"I.... I am a mare, right?", she sounds exceedingly unsure and you catch her staring at her one hoof
>There is a silence between the two of you, a crushing one that lasts for minutes before you try and speak up
>It's hard trying to find the right words in this situation, so you decide to scooch a little closer
>Putting a hoof to her shoulder in a comforting manner, she glances at you, tears have started welling up in her eyes
>Her hoof slowly moves to yours, holding it
>You can feel a her heart beating, it's enough to give her a satisfying answer
>A simple nod was all it took for her to give you a slight smile and she wipes her face
"When I first jacked in and started reading your diagnostics I found a single command in your task queue... Escape", you start slowly
"Can you tell me what happened? How did someone with this much tech in her brain end up in a dumpster, with missing legs?"
>She looks down at the two slots that are supposed to serve as attachment for her limbs and looks hopefully at you
"Didn't find them with you in the trash, unfortunately", shaking your head she deflates visibly
>"Escape....", she holds a hoof to her head and presses her eyes shut, "I remember... running...."
>"There is this lab, I remember them taking things from me, things that are me..."
>The poor pony talks about waking up from stasis, just like the one you woke her up from, feeling like she lost another piece of herself
>Then she woke up one final time, not to any schedule but to someone telling her to leave, to run...
>She couldn't stay here, she had to get out
>So she did what she was commanded to and she ran
>Her memory is spotty but she remembers being followed
>Flight, from a roof, gliding away
>Shots from below and behind, fire, excruciating simulated pain where her leg is meant to be
>Holding a hoof to her forehead she explains about data streaming into her head, someone desperately wrestling for control
>But she was told to escape and she always fulfills her mission
>And then she fell from the sky, like a rock as her thrusters were stripped from her
>A roof, the edge of a roof....
>Wind rushing past her ears
>A loud thud and the smell of rot
>This is where her memory seems to end
>The poor thing is just staring at her hoof, her entire body violently shuddering as her memory banks...
>Gosh, you just realized why you couldn't access her memory banks.... they used her brain to store the data, which is highly illegal...
I figure anypony willing and able to create a living weapon of this sort is at liberty to disregard the law. though, how is storing data in a brain different from storing it in a biometrically secure partition, like we do?
Look on the bright side, you could've landed on the cold hard ground. You succeeded in your escape.
Sounds like wherever you escaped from had a mass breakout because someone caught a case of the morels and screwed around with you and whatever other pony machine hybrids they had and told them to run.
No wonder the police are up in arms, they aren't looking for just you they're looking for a bunch of ponies like you.
Also, we should probably check and make sure you don't have a functioning gps or tracking system.

Tap our hoof nervously.

Hmm... Always fulfill your mission huh? Do you like... Have a choice in that?
Apologize about the android comment, it's just the way she was talking sounded more computer than mare. She even gave us a unit designation instead of a name and she refers to herself as "this unit". Makes a bit more sense now that she told us what she remembers. Whoever THEY are were effectively turning her into a robot. Look at the connection ports for the missing limbs. Do they look like they were properly disconnected or were they torn/blasted out?
>But she was told to escape and she always fulfills her mission
That's bad. It sounds like she wouldn't be able to wrestle for control without a command to do so. Have we made her vulnerable by deleting that command? We can add it back, or we can add something new, like "keep thinking for yourself". It's up to her.
How much would a pair of well-used cyborg legs cost? How's our hack doing? Do we have to start from scratch after the reboot?
as contradictory as this might sound, I don't think we should add any new commands without her permission.
I'm not sure where you get the "mass breakout" from. Nothing in her retelling suggested that.
>Someone as powerful as this probably doesn't have much regards for the law either
>Especially if they are associated with the big four, they can basically do anything
>Even having access to brain memory mapping is something highly dubious, there was a reason it was outlawed
>Not only does it require part of the brain to be made completely inaccessible by the pony for normal usage
>Which often means some functionality is impaired, many ponies who chose to get BMM tend to use their emotion processing part
>But it also is almost impossible to extract information and doing so forcefully is more than just torture to the poor pony having the information extracted
>That makes it very inconvenient for law enforcement to gather data of the ponies they are interrogating
>It is also really hard to detect in the first place, especially if you've never had contact with something like it before
>Certainly not an uncommon upgrade to get for data brokers vouching for the security of their secrets
>Much better than biometric storage, too, because that is just an encrypted data partition on a computer unlocked via DNA trace
"You know, you could have landed on the cold hard ground so... look on the bright side I'd say? You escaped!", you try and cheer her up
>She gives you a weak smile in response but seems appreciative of what you are trying to do
>Once again you apologize about mistaking her as an android, just the way she was talking about herself sounded very robotic in nature
>Going as far as giving us a unit designation instead of a name
>The mare gives a small chuckle and tells you most ponies have called her Frost up to this point
>You can't help but remark on how fitting that name feels
>Taking a good look at the sockets for the missing limbs, they seem to be... intact
>If you had to guess she automatically disconnected the broken limbs... and horn.... and wings
"Was there more like you?"
>She cocks her head at the question
"You know, more ponies like you at that facility? Did more of them break out with you?"
>Her head shakes, "I... more like me, yes, I think... I think I was the only one to run... but I might not be..."
>Looks like her memory is still spotty
"You always fulfill your mission you said, do you have an choice in that?"
>She tells you no, she has no choice in adding commands, but she has to obey them
>Commands always come from her linked C&C though
>Out of curiosity, you check the price on leg prosthetics
>And have to cringe at how expensive some of the higher level gear is
>If you find a shady blackmarket seller or doctor you might be able to get something for a couple hundred creds though
>Not that you really have the money, Frost's C&C system basically wiped your hacking partition clean
>A few viruses are safe in your backup but you need a new job, and soon
So SDTD means "brain is unaccessible, please try again later". She has to be conscious when she's being programmed. Ouch. Her emotions seem intact so far, but there's a lot to test. I wonder if she can see dreams.
How do we usually find a job? It's urgent. We're a family bat, we have mouths and myceliums to feed.
What happened to the hack we had running? Also, can we show her an image of the city's skyline from different angles? If she can recognize the direction she came from, it might give us a clue on what happened to he missing limbs. Lastly, since there are more like her at that facility, I'm worried one of them might get the mission to deal with her.
Can't we hack back into the place we were almost done hacking?
try to recover at least some of the data from that partition.
>Her emotions seem intact
That's a bit generous.
Speaking of data recovery, what if we try fixing her memories by putting her to sleep and fiddling with her brain?
Hey, Frost, how would you catch an escaped cyborg assassin pony if you were one of your sisters who's been ordered to hunt you down? What traces we may have left around this dumpster? Or what trap they may try to set up? Are there standard tactics and algorithms for such a scenario?
She knows fear, despair, and she can be offended. Who needs more?
More seriously, her C&C knows that she knows fear. I think there must be something like a detailed personalized map of her restrictions and limitations somewhere inside of it. It'd be hard for it to correctly interpret her physiological signals and apply appropriate countermeasures without this information.
Crap... I knew I should have bought some better protection.
I mean, we have a blowtorch, and a table with two legs. Can't we opt for plastic peglegs, for now?
From what I understand, need to get money somehow, get her some legs that are functional enough for her to walk.

Connecting to her might've upgraded our tech a little, got to go through all of that first before trying anything. Make sure it won't do anything we don't tell it to.

Hopefully she doesn't have increased metabolic needs.
Oh yeah, her tech had no problem blowing through our sandbox when we first connected to her. I bet there's some top-of-the-line tools and zero-days we can repurpose for ourselves.
>At least you now have somewhat of an idea of what the error accessing her memory banks means
>But it also dawns upon you that any kind of programming requires her to be conscious, which is a terrifying thought
>You can't imagine that being a pleasant sensation in any sense of the word
>At least her emotional parts seem to still be present, which on one hoof kind of surprises you
>Or the fact that her C&C that has ended up on your terminal is able to confidently read her fear, reactions and interpret her physiological signals
>Could mean there must be a complete personalized map of her entire systems somewhere in there, but it is not something you ever dealt with
>No clue how to access that or what you would even do with that information once you have it
>Fiddling around with your bracelet you take a deep look at your hack and the lost data from your biomatrix
>Hacking in today's world usually requires you a complex chain of of exploits that are run by an assisting AI, an abort tends to set you back to zero
>That and you siphoning credits is happening in small amounts as to not trigger security systems
>One of the reasons why it takes such an absurd amount of time, really
>Most of the funds have been directed away from your target but unfortunately, you lost access to the offshore account they have been sent to
>Your last hope is running a data recovery process on the partition, can't hurt to try at least
"Frost?", you look up at her and she cocks her head, "say, how would your... investors react to an escaped cyborg assassin pony? Deal with it, if you know what I mean?"
>She lowers her eyes before whispering, "they'll sent teams out... usually including one of us, I think. Nopony ever escaped, but some had to be retrieved"
>"I have... never had to retrieve anyone", she lowers her ears and looks away, sounding nervous as her eyes scan the apartment
"Maybe we can jog your memory! Try and put you back to sleep and I can try to mess with- wait no, I have no idea how to work with actual grey matter...", you admit sheepishly
"Could it help if I tried and get some drone images of the skyline from above? Maybe that'll help you remember!", you suggest
>Her attention returns to you with a slight smile, "you would do that for me?", she asks with a bit of hesitation
>All you can do is nod with a grin... until you hear your stomach grumble
>Right, you had 55% of a half eaten sandwich, certainly not enough
>You require a job, badly
>Not only for food, which you need a lot more now considering you have a family of mouths and mycellium to feed!
>And a way to find legs for this currently immobile mare
>Part of you is playing with the idea of mugging a random pony for them, wouldn't be the first time that happens
>Dum idea, stupid shroom high brain
>As for jobs, you usually jack into the net and see what's posted and go from there
It may be a long shot, but let's try to recover the account access from our latest job.
Hey, I'm going to try get some money for food and stuff. You kind of wiped the job I was working on.
If you want something to do, can you create some art from this trash? If you always complete your missions making some sculpture shouldn't be too hard right?
I don't know, I pulled some crap out of my ass to not get you caught and I might end up needing something to back up my bullshit.
Hack her a drone. The more we know about her masters, the better. If she can recognize a building where she's been stationed, we may even choose one of their proxy companies as our next target to get some information in addition to money.
Does the mare have a cutie mark? Should we make it a goal to find out who she was before she got turned into a half-robot?
>Well, you already have a recovery program running over your partition, all you can do right now is wait and hope
>Maybe one of the access keys to some of your credstores will turn up, the chance is not too bad considering how "small" they are
>As they say, hope dies last
>With Frost being rather immobile right now, you consider if there might be a possibility for her to get to explore the area safely
>A drone might do, you know a couple ponies on the net that might be able to help you out getting access to one
>Some netizens still owe you a favor or two that you can try and make use of
>Looks like you definitely have to jack into the surrounding subnets and do a bit of digging if you want to bring something edible to the table tonight
>You don't like diving from the same place multiple times and you've already hopped online from this complex a few times
>Glancing at Frost, you try figuring out if she'd be ok on her own for a couple hours while you go and do your thing
"Frost? I'll be... gone for a little while. I gotta dive and look around a little, find something to do and all that"
>She gives an understanding nod and wishes you good luck before trying to stretch herself and falling over
>"Eeep!", she lands on the carpet on her back wiggling her two hoofsies helplessly
>You DEFINITELY have to do something about her mobility, you tell yourself as you help her back up in front of the cart, and trash
"You know, if you need something to do... could you try and use this trash to make some art? A sculpture of some kind?"
>A stare at you tells you all you need to know, you sound like you must have gone crazy
>Which honestly, probably isn't too far off the truth, but whatever
"I had to pull some crap out of my ass and pretended to use this trash I hid you in for an art project. Gotta need something to show now, at least"
>Another grin and she starts giggling, "you are a silly pony, Mr. BitRot"
>If she was stable enough, she would have certainly given you a silly pony boop for being so silly
>Alas, that has to wait for a while longer
>She starts trying to stack cans together, humming a small tune to herself as she does so and leaving you to your devices
>Pulling out your Link-Unit from your bedroom you catch a glimpse of her flank as you walk back out
>An icicle surrounded by what seems to be strong winds
>Sitting down next to her on the floor, you put the couple electrodes of the diving gear to your temple and side of your head and lie down
>Before you dive, you try to think of anything you've forgotten, and the kind of persona you want to take on in cyberspace today
A certain mares flanks in our mind.
C0ldch33ks for the alias. Throwing on a ice persona.
Yes we are in fact the very picture of maturity, and we're also a comedic genius.
'Maybe I should try stand up.'
>Well, with a certain mare's flanks on your mind you are feeling a little cheeky today
>Or should you say ch33ky as you imagine what your avatar is going to look like
>You snicker to yourself, way too easily amused over your own comedic talent
>Someday you could try and make money with standup, for sure
>Your new very artistic friend casts you a concerned glance at you giggling over nothing
>If only she knew, maybe someday she'll get to enjoy your humorous side
>For now, you like back down, and give the switch on your link box a flick
>In an instance, the world in front of you goes white, your limbs go numb and your body stops moving
>Your mind, on the other hoof, for now just a glowing orb, is being carried into the digital world
>Quickly a body begins to construct itself around you and you use the chance to burn one of your proxies before arriving
>Getting jerked away from your current data highway to the remote entry point you use the nanoseconds to finalize your form
>A blue-ish crystalline and slightly translucent stallion, spikey mane and cold to the touch
>C0ldch33ks is the name you are giving yourself, just as you are unceremoniously dumped into a rather gloomy sub-net
>You were almost gonna call yourself 5exua1Fr0s7r4ti0n but you don't wanna come off as too desperate
>The proxy you've chosen is a real trash heap, but it's a common entry point so it won't be too suspicious
>A couple more ponies step out around the various gates that serve as entrances into this part of the net next to you, but pay no attention to you
>And not just ponies, really
>Creatures of all shapes and sizes, in this place only one's imagination is the limit
>This place is modelled after an old train station from a long time ago, a fitting image for an entry point to the digital world
>Neon signs flood your vision, trying to sell you some shady crap that most certainly isn't entirely legal
>Places like this was where you picked up your first viruses
>Both to use and used on you
>Good times, you think to yourself with a smile
>Something else that is certainly catching your attention though is the visible overview HUD of a certain mare in your peripheral vision
>Well then, you got options now, almost limitless options, in fact
>Visit the job board? Try to scout random networks?
>Or hit up one of the many sellers? Look for drones or prosthetics?
>Scout out some of the people that still owe you something and make use of it?
>Your comm link is already showing you a couple of your acquaintances being logged into the Haven subnet, too
>They might have something interesting to say
Reminder that this is also cyberspace and you are a hacker
going to the sellers would be better done when we have money on hoof. for now, the job board seems like a good idea.
can we cyber-pickpocket? is that a thing?
How does hacking work in here? What are our capabilities?
>Well, you can't very well buy anything from the various merchants if you haven't got any dough
>And you can't get any creds by just talking to people
>Unless you start pickpocketing their net accounts
>Which is very much an option with a stealth worm program
>There is plenty of ponies who don't keep their firewalls and AVs up to snuff and are somewhat easy to be infected
>You could also try a bigger attack, every subnet usually has at least one controller system that serves the space and carries all the data
>Usually they are hidden or protected, but getting to one of those gives you direct access to whatever is stored on that network
>...or the chance to mess with the subnet as a whole
>You've seen plenty of defaced spaces in your time online, a couple your own doing
>Always a fun prank to pull on ponies
>For now though, job board, you have a family to take care of now!
>You step up to one of the platforms, entering the door of the waiting train
>Immediately your surroundings change and you enter a huge room with monitors scattered all around
>Apart from once again being flooded by neon signs of items "you should most certainly buy!" many of the screens show job offers of all kinds
>This place is also extremely crowded, ponies pushing each other from one place to the next
>There is many different tasks here, ranging from corporate espionage to physical world to ruining other ponies' lives
>The latter is especially popular to be posted by corporations trying to tie up loose ends
>Usually pays really well but comes with a heavy fee of morality
>Tech Hunting is also quite lucrative but somewhat dangerous
>A team of hunters assembles and tries to break into some old, abandoned places to get their hooves on pre-crash tech
>Always sounded to you like some kind of action sim thing and many collectors pay lots of money for old gear
>You'd lie if you didn't imagine being on a tech hunt with a crew someday and conquering vast underground dungeons in the search of treasure
>Kind of every nerdy kid's dream, really
>You keep looking around for more jobs
>Enter corporate network and extract information, create valid fake identities for someone the usual kind of stuff
>There is a couple jobs looking for a hacker to join a crew for a job of some kind
>Never really did much crew playing, but you also never had a mare over or talked to a fungus
>Lots of firsts lately
>Anything you are looking for specifically? Anything that catches your eye?
>Anypony you want to interact with? There is loads here of that, too
See if anything mentions "frost"
Is there any jobs looking for a mare matching Frost's description?
For jobs, look for something low risk to do. Something enough to put food on the table asap.
It won't hurt to have a humble trickle of passive income while we're working on a real job. Quickly put together a script that would play the game of three shells with ponies in the previous subnet. Make its avatar look and act like a sad white clown.
Don't forget quick, since our stomach is already growling.
Hence the "asap"
The way it was worded put more emphasis on the pay over the time.
>You glance down at your virtual terminal that ponies here use to interact with all the job listing
>Nervously you type in Frost into the search bar and let it run for a couple seconds
>It comes up with a couple results but most of them seem entirely unrelated to a certain cybernetic mare
>A second search for cyborg and anything related also comes up empty
>Finally, you decide to just try and look for any mention of her design
>The one result that comes up makes your blood freeze as you open it and start to read
>"Extremely dangerous prisoner on the run, engagement not recommended"
>"Armed and ready to kill without remorse"
>"Any information that lead to capture highly rewarded"
>The sum of money listed on the job description would make any pony salivate, you have rarely seen this many 0s
>Information is supposed to be sent to an anonymous net-address but it was more or less common knowledge that the server belonged to one of the big four
>From the address you judge it might be dark space, although you can't be entirely sure about that
>Not that it really matters much, if one of them know, all of them do
>That and it wouldn't be the first time where one of the corps used another corp to avoid suspicion
>Quickly sending that mail to the trash you start looking again, a lot more cautious and worried
>At least you hope that nopony here is gonna pay much attention to the job
>Unless employed directly by one of the Big Four, a lot of your kind have a certain disdain for the megacorps in power
>For now you need to find something quick to do though, hopefully something simple
>You have to get food for 3 today
>Browsing through, one of the jobs, while not high paying, promises to be quick and easy
>Simple consulting on security, it's a gig that you've done a few times and usually barely pays anything but it will definitely be enough to feed you a couple days
>Pulling the job to your local datastore you move back into the proxy net
>Despite the traffic, the place looks like it's... missing something
>An idea comes to your head and you quickly hack something together with a model of a sad clown you had stored on your system for some reason
>Game of free shells, anypony passing by can play
>Might serve as a bit of passive income from some naive ponies
>Then you ring up the pony posting the job request
>A small warm orange unicorn mare picks up with a slight hint of confusion as she spots you
>Hiding one of her purple eyes behind her long, golden mane she looks at your ice persona closely
>"Uh... yes, h-how can I help you?", she stammers, very much nervous
"You've posted this, right?", you show her the job offer upon which seeing it she relaxes a bit
"First of all, a small bit of free advice, if you post any kind of job offer use a burner address. Ponies can gather a lot from just knowing your comm info alone"
>The mare eeps and rubs her leg nervously as she thanks you
>Morning Dawn, as she has introduced herself, tells you that she would like to join ponies like you in becoming cyber-vigilantes!
>"There is so much good I see runners do and I want to do my part! Having ended up in the slums really gives a mare a new perspective!"
>Thankfully you were able to convince her to start small and not go for the big fish immediately
>That would probably get her killed real quick and that'd be a damn shame
>About an hour later, you are done giving her advice on opsec
>Before you go, she asks you if you'd be available if she needed help in the future, sending you her comm link contact
>After that, she hangs up with a grateful smile on her face and leaves you to your own devices
>Checking your creds account you notice something delightful:
>You might even be able to order takeout today!
>And a couple more days after that, too!
>None of that nasty, low quality street shit either, some real actual food
>Today feels like a good day
>Or you could try and spend some of it on the cybermarket
>It's been a while but you could stick around this place for a bit longer if you wanted to
'Definitely not turning my new roommate in for any amount of money, that's a really good way to end up getting disappeared.'
Leave the net for now. We should check on the half nugget in case she's flipped herself over again.
Look for other wanted posters published by anonymous anonymouses at the same time with Frost's. We know that she had help, likely from somebody with a clearance. A technician, or perhaps a scientist. If their security like their job, this pony is now either dead or on the run. It may be a lead.
And what about hacking drones? Why do we have to pull favors for that, is it really so complicated?
>You are about to hit the logout button when you turn around to the train that takes you to the job board subnet
>Maybe you can find a clue before you're going home as to where Frost comes from
>Clearly she had help, somebody on the inside
>A technician? Scientist? You wouldn't really know
>But if they are on the run, which they must be if they aren't dead by now, then there is probably a job listing about them, too
>Stepping once more into the trashy looking train car to arrive at your previous sub-net
>Scouring the job board for another anonymous posting you look for anything that might be something to lead you in the right direction
>There is multiple bounties, but at first glance nothing that seems interesting
>Regardless, you download all of the files to your deck and decide to sift through it later today
>You consider checking for a drone to buy or hack before you leave though
>While it isn't super complicated to hack a drone, finding a good one that is hackable is another matter entirely
>You have a few ponies that owe you something and might already have one or two under their control which you could probably get one from the
>Why put in the work of having to find one if somebody already did the hard part?
>It is a fun thing to try and do, but you don't wanna leave Frost hanging, too long
>Oh my gosh, you forgot about the half nugget, you sure as heck hope she hasn't tipped over again and is wiggling like a turtle on its back
>Quickly pulling up your virtual menu, you logout and your cyber-body dissolves as your world goes white
>And all of a sudden your eyes snap open, barely able to see anything in your dingy apartment
>The smell assaulting you seems worse than when you left
>Maybe because you left the fridge open the entire time, at least shroomie probably kept good watch over you
>Also, while you can't SEE much, you can sure as heck feel something
>After a short moment of your eyes adjusting to the dark room, you see a mare that is using you as a pillow
>Her ear flicks gently while she calmly snores quietly, her chest rising and lowering in the same rhythm as yours
>In a sense, it is kind of adorable
>Hopefully shroomie isn't getting jealous over this
>Well, stuck under a mare like this is another first to check off from your bucket list
>Could order takeout or maybe wake her up
>Browse the web? Try and contact someone?
>There is a lot you can do, the world is yours for the taking tonight!
'If I ordered food I'd have to get up to go get it from the door. Another night hungry I suppose, but at least I have the money for something in the morning.'
Get back on the net, may as well work on a drone. If we're not going anywhere for a while it's something to do at least.
Shit, we're goint to damage our fridge like that!
>Well, if you were to order food for delivery you would have to still get up and get it from the door
>And that would mean waking up sleeping beauty currently using you as a pillow
>Glancing over to your other roommate, you realize that keeping the door open like that will probably break the fridge
>Not that that thing was expensive in the first place, you guess, and the fact it even still worked was a miracle on its own
>Your stomach growls angrily at you for even considering skipping out on another meal
>Who knows, the clock says it's only 4PM, takeout won't close for quite a while
>Maybe Frost here just needed a quick nap and is gonna be up and ab- awake, at least, soon
>If all else fails, you promise your protesting belly that you'll be having the breakfast of your life tomorrow
>Gently putting a hoof to her ear absentmindedly you begin brushing her mane
>She shifts just ever so slightly but stays asleep, a small smile on her face as her head seems to lean into you
>Might wanna get started on finding a drone for her, you doubt you'll be able to afford high quality legs that soon
>Probably worth just jumping back into the net for that, you could also do some more exploration around
>Chat up ponies, and the like
>Your creds currently are... not the most riches you ever had but at least you aren't piss poor right now
>Gotta try and think of what kind of drone you want to be looking into as well
>Press the link box again? Just browse the net via your HUD and stay in real life?
>How are you planning to go about acquiring a drone? Talk to some of your business partners or fellow runners?
>Buy one? Try and find/hack one?
>Or, once again, just waking up Frost is an option if you want to get free
Try and find and hack one, we're trapped for the moment so we certainly have the time. And it's probably best to save those favors for a rainier day.
Besides it'll keep us focused on something so we don't sperg out about having a mare in our bed or something.
Normal HUD, start with talking to fellow runners.
Does the link box make us ignore all senses of reality? It it dangerous? If something were to happen to our body when we're connected, will it let us feel pain? Can we accidentally die of hunger in the cyberspace just because feelings in our guts were filtered away?
May Frosts talents be useful in the cyberspace? For example, on a Tech Hunt? Anything is better than just sitting in our apartment and helplessly playing with junk.
Reminder that you guys can also suggest shit that goes beyond what to do immediately. And you are basically free to do whatever, you don't need to go with my suggestions
Lets look through a catalogue of drones through our hud to find a good target. Also, what happened with Frost's art project?
take a look out the window, see if you can spot something funny happening outside
Let's do something about the fridge door first.
See if we can manage a trick shot with any junk within reach to nudge the thing close.
You can order food and not have to get up now.
Could order for delivery at 8-ish, 3 hours is decent for a nap.

I want to set up shroom as officially art, so both someone can't throw them away and we don't lose deposit. So can we look up how to get something legally designated as an artistic piece?
Sorry, didn't manage to get a post out this morning. See you guys in ~12h after work
Hope you have a nice day at work, QM,
Thanks anon. It was as draining as ever, but I fixed a problem I was fighting with for fucking MONTHS
>Just pulling up your normal HUD for now you decide to skip out on a deep dive
>While the practise of diving isn't inherently dangerous, all your senses get disconnected completely from reality
>Or rather, get overwritten by the digital sensations, which amounts to about the same
>As fun as a direct mental uplinks are to experience, they also leave your body completely vulnerable
>That and you can't really feel what's happening outside always makes you a little nervous
>It wouldn't be the first time a pony died of hunger or thirst because they've stayed too long inside the net
>Some say when your body dies while connected to the otherworld your ghost will haunt the net for the rest of eternity
>The thought alone makes your neck hair stand up straight and wonder how many avatars you met might be actually dead
>More sophisticated link boxes tend to be able to recognize pain of the physical body and at least warn you inside the simulation
>But that is high end gear that can monitor vitals, like a diving pod and similar
>Frost... her cybernetics could probably become useful in the future, even more so if you actually do decide and get a crew to Tech Hunt with
>Especially if you end up finding some high grade cyberware, you can certainly check in with a local ripperdoc
>Never really considered getting yourself augmented so you don't know any personally, but your fixer can probably set you up
>Is your foal's dream actually on its way to become reality? It's hardly believable to you
>As you open up the catalogue for drones you decide to actually get food ordered for later, about 3 hours from now sounds ideal
>Chinese sounds nice, there is this supposedly real good and cheap china place around the corner
>Maybe you could try and hack your way into the place and get some food for free tonight, a simple worm should do and you'd keep your creds for important stuff
>The list of drones is vast and goes from ground only to burrowing to flying drones, some with weapons and some with cameras
>Others are rescue drones that you've seen deployed by emergency services before
>Crawly things that can get under and together are able to lift things a lot heavier than them
>A lot of them are way out of your price range, but there is a couple really trashy looking ones that might be affordable
>You glance to the wagon and see that Frost has tried and stacked up, crushed and smashed together a couple of the cans into what seems to be a small pony figure
>All in all, it looks way better than anything you could have done and is probably enough to satisfy anypony that is questioning your artistic genius!
>Maybe you could add a bit of shroomie as the figure's mane and tail?
>Make her an art piece too, that might even help you keep her from being forcefully removed by your landlady
>It finally occurs to you that there is a mare.
>Sleeping on your chest
>Your face starts becoming red like a tomato as you realize what that usually means
>Oh gosh, please don't get the wrong idea here, shroomie
>You look over at the fridge and put a hoof to your mouth, shushing your fungal friend
>A huff escapes you as feel like you are being mocked by the mycellium creature
>Looking around for something you pick up a can that Frost has left lying around and throw it at the fridge door, hoping to close it
>While you do end up hitting the door with it, which makes a pretty loud clang as it impacts, you fail to close the door
>Frost shifts and her eyes slowly and groggily open as she yawns
>She looks you straight in the eyes before nuzzling her face into your neck fluff
>At the same time, you receive a message from Morning Dawn, the header subject having SEVEN!!!!!!! exclamation marks
>"I found a fixer like you told me! And she already has a job for me this is so cool, thankssomuchagain!"
>You can almost hear the excitement coming from this message, and can only imagine how giddy she must be
>"Big Cash (that's my fixer!!!) told me it's an easy task, just right for someone starting out like me!"
>"But she still gave me the advice to go find a capable pony who has some experience to show me the ropes!"
>"Since I... don't really know anypony else yet, would you be alright with helping me?! I'LL PAY YOU OFC!"
>"Also, it would be cool if we had a team, right? Is that something we do in /the biz/?"
>"Love <3, Morning Dawn!"
Apparently mold spores are just the thing we needed to be a hit with the mares.
Also holy crap the cute cyber mare nuzzled into our chest fluff! She likes our chest fluff!
...And now our not so stinky fifth leg is starting to make an appearance. A lifestyle of minimal intimate physical contact, we've lost all resistances to snuggling! Batten down the hatches.

Respond to our prospective protege.
I could probably help out a bit and give you a few pointers, first things first. Scope out your fixer, find out if they've got any reputation and what it is and make sure you're talking to the right one not some copycat.
Don't want to fall to get screwed over before you can even start.
"Rise and shine. Great work on this sculpture."
It's surprising how relaxed Frost acts. Somepony of her speciality should give more attention to unexpected sounds even when there are no corporations on their tails, and in her situation, we'd be jumping at shadows. Or her skillset somehow lets her know for certain what is dangerous and what is not, even when she's asleep? Neat. Good job with the art project, by the way. And that's with just one foreleg! What if she was an actual artist in her previous life?
From our little talk with Morning Dawn, what's her background, what are her strengths and weaknesses?
Chinese sounds good. Buy food if it's a small business, steal it if it's some metastasis of the big four.
you look like a million creds.
Wait, no. We shouldn't steal food in any case, because if something, anything, will go wrong, we won't be able to run away. Until we get rich enough to afford a new hideout, and until Frost's legs are replaced, we're trapped here. Better stay quiet and not shit where we eat.
>not shit where we eat
I mean I wasn't planning on eating on the toilet like a bullied highscooler anyway
From the way this place is described, every part of this apartment was used as a toilet at one point or another.
It's a fixer-upper. Same as Frost, really.
>By the stars above, is mold spores all you needed to be a hit with the ladies?
>Why haven't you tried this a long time ago
>Actually you know exactly why, mold is a gosh darn health hazard and you'll probably have mold grow in your lungs or something
>Whatever it is, you sure as heck can't complain as you enjoy the sensation of another pony so close to you
>It's at this point where you notice how absolutely starved for physical contact you have become over the past couple years
>The mere fact that someone is enjoying your chest fluff like this is giving your entire body the tinglies
>And your fifth leg is starting to want to make an appearance
>Not today, old friend, not when having someone over for the first time in your life that is not a work relationship
"Rise and shine, sleepyhead", you smile at her as she pulls her face out of your neck and tries to sit up
>She succeeds with a little bit of your help and she gives you a grateful smile
>Your HUD pops up with a status update of the mare telling you that her emergency energy cells were able to recharge to 75%
"Real good job on that thing by the way", you gently pick up the small pony statue that Frost managed to somehow make with one hoof
>You didn't notice it before, but she used a torn up can to make tiny little bat wings attached to it
>It dawns upon you that this is supposed to be a figure of you
>All in all, it really does warm your heart to a degree that you aren't used to
>Something that definitely catches you by surprise though is how comfortable and relaxed she seems to be around you
>In her position you would be jumping at the slightest movement
>You wonder if she is so advanced that she can feel danger approaching even while asleep? Something to inquire about
>For now though, you finish up ordering food and get up to close the fridge, gotta keep shroomie cool and all that
>And like a good citizen you actually pay for your meal with your newfound "fortune", thanks to Morning Dawn
>Speaking of her, you should probably answer that mail of hers
"Be careful when it comes to finding your fixer, Dawn. There is a lot of ponies out there pretending to do the job but just getting you in trouble"
"Or worse, hoof you over to the first corpo that begins to ask questions"
"A good fixer is able to keep secrets, not ratting out anyone even if their life depends on it"
"That is a quality we runners share. We rather burn everything than to give out information"
"Find their reputation. What do other runners say about them? Scout as somepony unrelated to them in any way"
"Make sure you don't hit a copycat. It would be a shame for you to get screwed over before you even had the chance to start"
>Frost cocks her head as you dictate your words, not being used to having company
>"Who are you talking to? Fixer? Getting screwed over?", she curiously asks
"A mare I met earlier that is... well, she is excited to get into my world and become a runner"
"Seems like she has a job lined up and asked for my help. Should get me at least a bit more cash"
>The cyborg nods understandingly. "Well, let me know if I can be.. helpful", she trails off as she starts wiggling her one front leg and then frowns
>"Sorry, I guess I'm more dead weight than anything", she sounds a little dejected and her ears lower but you can see her trying to do her best to hide it
"You're a mare of combat, right?", you ask her to which she slowly nods
>You think for a moment before giving her a nod, "I'll look into getting you legs, and after that you can make it up to me, how about it? "
>This does cheer her up a little and she gives a slightly enthusiastic nod
>"Until then I'll... provide intel? Keep a lookout for trouble I suppose?", it is obvious it doesn't sit right with her that she is currently unable to really do anything in her state
>In the corner of your HUD a message flashes: "Remote SubArcanoComm session requested, allow? Y/N"
>Frost looks at you with a hopeful smile before asking you to tell you about the other members of your crew
>It is a little unfortunate to admit, but you don't really have one... except Morning Dawn who might make a decent fit if you ever wanted to go more... social
>As excited, novice and naive as she might be, she is clearly motivated to do the right thing and especially pick up the tools of the trade
>From the bit you managed to talk to her she is also quite clever, and picked up on most of the concepts you explained to her exceedingly quickly and able to extrapolate from there
>She told you she is a bit of a math head and really good with numbers and puzzles, which brought her into an accounting job of a big corp
>It didn't take her long to see how they kept screwing over ponies, especially the already poor ones and it made her sick
>So she decided to mess with reports to assist the firm's clients to not be screwed over, which ended up with her being relocated into the slums and subsequently fired
>Unfortunately, she isn't the best when it comes to technology, never really done a full dive either
>Nor has she ever fired a gun
>The kind of mare that usually ends up coming up with the plans the group follows, you'd say
>While you are at it, you also decide to do some recon on Big Cash yourself
>Information is a little spotty and she seems new on the scene, but she has been quite successful with recent newbies
>Has become known to take on the ponies who just started out and helped them get set up
>Some runners began calling her Big Momma, especially since her avatar in the net has always been a rather big earth pony mare
>Sounds good enough, but also perhaps too good to be true....
Frost doesn't need legs to fuck around in the cyberspace, right? Do we have a second diving box for her? Or does she have a dive machine built in?
We may pretend to be a noob, get under Mom's wing and see what we can dig up from there. But that's for later. What was this job that Dawn wanted us to help with?
I got an idea, how about instead of pretending to be a newbie, we tutor Frost on some basics and send her to Big Cash while we covertly watch from the sidelines? That would be good for both her, us, and Morning Dawn.
Wait is food with a bunch of preservatives like fast food going to be okay for shroomie to eat? It won't hurt her or something right?
>she has been quite successful with recent newbies.
That hints at some amount of past experience. Maybe she was previously a runner herself? As for Morning Dawn, it is possible for somebody to pretend to be inept to get others to lower their guard. Only real way to tell is if signs of past experience crop up during training.
Maybe it's not calm. Maybe she's resigned herself to death. If a corpo fixer squad is gonna bust down the door and ventilate her, then at least she'll die nuzzling us.
...God, I really am a hopeless romantic.
Got another half a post written up but work is calling once again. Sorry lads
Interesting question. I don't think there's much preservatives in fast food as they rely mostly on refrigeration to prevent the ingredients from spoiling. (Well, maybe with the exception of hamburger buns and pre-processed meats such as hot dogs and salami, but that's not a problem here because a. ponies are herbivores and b. we're ordering Chinese (Chineighese?))
Chinese doesn't have many preservatives.
At least the stuff restaurants sell doesn't.
CYOA general is kill
Long live the CYOA general
every damn time
>From all the things you can find as of right now, it seems Big Cash seems the be a pretty good starting point
>Part of you kinda wished you had someone like this when you did your first run
>At first you consider pretending to be a newbie to see how good "Mom" really is, but judging from what you've heard, she'd figure that out
>She clearly has to have experience, you suspect she might be a former runner or something similar
>Corpo perhaps, if she has that many powerful connections that she can pull on already?
>Or simply very successful in her previous time
>A mystery that might be worth being uncovered, eventually
"Hey Frost, you can full dive, right?", you ask her as you consider your options on what to do here
>The mare perks up at your question and nods, somewhat hesitantly
>"I can, I think... not that I've ever tried or have been allowed to", she admits, "but I have a lot of data on how runners operate loaded into my head"
>"All theoretical, of course. I have only ever encountered runners in the real world and uh... well...", she trails off, getting somewhat quiet
"If you were to jack in with me, would you be willing to meet someone and help me check them out?"
>That seems to have piqued her interest and she gives a court nod, waving her hoof for you to continue
>She actually even seems somewhat excited at the prospect of getting to enter the virtual world for the first time
>That settles it, once you've given your unicorn protégé the good news the two of you are going to meet "Mom"
>For now you decide to coach Dawn probably be with her for her first Fixer meeting too
>You doubt she has done that yet, considering she hasn't told you any job details in the e-mail
>It's definitely what you would have expected a fledgling runner to do
>Many of them send clear emails with job details and get them busted early
>Or maybe she is pretending to be inept to lower your guard?
>You furrow your brow in thought as you consider the implication of a corporate spy
>But for now you give her the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to her understanding of your lecture from earlier today
>It's time to hope and see
>The Comm you send back to her is concise: "Proxyport, 20 minutes from now"
>While you're getting ready for the dive with Frost, you trace the location of Big Cash
>Which turns out to be quite a lot harder than you have anticipated, she seems to be the kind of mare that doesn't want to be found
>She finds you instead, so it looks like you just have to hope that your friend is able to coax her out
>Or rely on Morning Dawn to lead the proverbial way
>Food is still a couple hours out, you should be able to handle this no problem
>Wait, is stuff with a lot of preservatives gonna be bad for shroomie? You don't want to hurt your shroommate
>Then you remember the kind of stuff that (judging from the packaging) was in the fridge previously and relax
>Also, chineighse doesn't have too much preservatives anyways, right?
>Someday you should pick up cooking classes and learn that shit
>Telling Frost to get ready you walk into your bedroom, which you should really just rename to storage room at this point and pull back out the ol' reliable
>While frost is still somewhat apprehensive of the idea of having something plugged in, she lets you do your thing
>As soon as the connection is made, her entire body shudders at the sensation
>You wonder if a connection to implanted cyberware feels that intimate or something
>Thankfully, your apartment has multiple network ports you can physically link up to, so you run the wire over to the socket and plug in
>Frost jolts up before dropping to ground with a soft thud, limp
>You stare in horror at your friend and rush over to her, trying to check for a pulse
"Frost? Frost, hey, wake up!", you try to shake her, starting to panic
>The HUD shows her vitality information operating at (for her) normal levels
>Nothing screams for her to be in any kind of danger or drugged state or anything
>PERMAFROST is also not active so your level of panic just doubles at not knowing what the hell is going on
>Time is running out as well, you're supposed to be at the proxy station in about 10 minutes
>A warning catches your attention on your HUD "unknown entity in local subnet"
>Fuck, this is just getting better and better, isn't it?
>You need a plan of action. Stat.
did we seriously just connect a pony loaded with proprietary firmware directly to the internet?
What, it wasn't supposed to happen? Does it happen often to first timers? Can we trace her location in the cyberspace and follow her? Is there anything new in her diagnostic messages?
In this particular case, it shouldn't be a problem. She's designed to be stealthy. Trying to call home when there's an operational C&C server within reach is the opposite of stealthy. Imagine if her systems were set up to automatically ping her owners' servers right through all the firewalls and IDSs every time when she connects to a local network during an infiltration into some super-secure facility. It'd set off all alarms. And what if this network had some kind of a hostile simulator of her masters' server? No, no: she and her operator should have a very explicit and very detailed control over all outgoing connections.
correct me if I'm wrong, but she's also supposed to have four legs. and wings. and a horn. assuming she's going to do what she should be doing, in her condition, is just foolish.
She's modular, but every module should be designed with stealth in mind.
My guess is that she was immediately dumped into the net the second she connected and now she's just wandering around clueless.
>Hold on a fucking second
>Did you just connect a mare with cyberware running who knows how much pieces of proprietary firmware to the web
>This is probably the most basic and dumbest mistake you have done in recent years and things like that is what cost runners their freedom or even lives
>Who knows how many servers she has broadcast her location to as soon as you plugged her in
>Trying to calm yourself slightly you tell yourself that she is a mare made for stealth
>Just phoning home as soon as she connects to a network is anything but stealthy and would probably get her and her employers busted immediately
>Not that that is important right now because getting your... friend? Salvage? Mare?... back is what you need to focus on right now
>Pulling up the diagnostic details that the C&C provides you with it tells you that her vitals are stable and so is all of the sub-processor chips' operation
>Wow, she has a LOT of coprocessors scattered over her body, most notably directly neural linked processors responsible for movement
>Something that her cranial cyberware does report though is an established deep uplink though
>It starts to dawn on you that she might have ended up on the other side as soon as you plugged her in
>This is the first time you deal with implanted cyberware used to make a connection
>But you do know that as soon as you turn on your link box you feel literally being dragged away into the otherworld
>Lying down next to her you put on the electrodes and close your eyes as you flip a switch hoping you are right with your assumption
>A flash, your senses going numb and you find yourself in... what looks to be your apartment
>Just a lot more clean and... yeah this is nothing but marketing propaganda for any potential buyers wanting to "visit" the place beforehoof
>It's bright, cozy, the furniture looks brand new and you have a sunshine view outside and flowers scattered around
>None of this is as intriguing as the glowing ball of light in the center of the room
>It is pretty obvious to you what this is, it's a consciousness that hasn't manifested an avatar yet
>You walk up close to it and you can absolutely feel her presence here
>A poke and the ball of light begins to swirl around, slowly materializing into the shape of a mare
>White coat, dark blue mane in a ponytail, wings as fluffy as you expect clouds to be
>As she opens her eyes, she looks at you with the coldest, ice blue eyes you have ever seen
>But that smile on her face is warm and comforting as the mare stands in front of you in full digital flesh, no cybernetics at all
>She takes a few careful slow steps around before falling into a canter around the room
>It takes you back when she stops right in front of you and gives you a quick hug
>"You can't believe how nice it feels being able to walk around", she exclaims and then ruffles her wings
>"Well then, I think we are a little pressed on time, right? I already advertised myself as a new runner looking for a fixer"
>She pulls up a virtual screen in front of you, "and look who's decided to bite"
>On the list you find the name "Big Cash" highlighted, a location listed next to her for meeting up, if Frost so desires
>That was... a lot easier than you thought it would be, some would say too easy
>Another message comes in telling you that Morning Dawn has arrived at your meeting point
>The message to Frost says that she only has a couple minutes to show up or Cash is going to dip out and she can kiss her chance at a fixer goodbye
>Looks like you have to make priorities here
>That and you should be prepared for any eventuality, especially if either Morning Dawn or Big Cash aren't who they seem to be
>Gotta make a plan here and it sucks because you didn't used to be the brain of the few groups you have run with before
It's rude to keep a lady waiting, so let's quickly send Frost off and begin monitoring her from afar.
Her appearance is beautiful, but it's way too close to her IRL name and exterior. I suggest to quickly change it to something completely random, something that won't make any bounty hunter look at her avatar twice. Her skills are harder to hide, but it'll still be better to use them in moderation. If anybody asks, she used to work in security.
In the meantime, we should go and meet Dawn.
Can we send a message to Dawn for her to meet us at the Fixer location instead?
>Fuck, looking at the mental personification of the mare in front of you, you can't help but notice how gorgeous she is
>In another life you could imagine her being a super mode or something the like
>Definitely high society who would take every stallion's (and probably a couple mares') heart in the blink of an eye
>And she is standing here, with you, a pony that has spent most of his life stuck in the dirty slums
>If this is currently a dream, you don't want to wake up
>And if this is the setup to a cruel joke then you know it will cut you deep
>Unfortunately, you don't have time for idle thoughts like that right now
"You really need to change", you tell the mare sternly, to which she replies with a sigh
>She looks down at herself and her colors begin shifting, her wings disappear in a small burst of light
>Her mane and tail shrink to a short, somewhat spiky mane
>She now has a dark green mane, a leaf green coat but sticking to her blue eyes
>That should definitely keep her from being an obvious target by anyone who has read the bounties on the job board
>While you are hesitant at leaving Frost alone, you decide that you should definitely also go and pick up Dawn
>It would be rude to keep a lady waiting, or so you have been told
>Not really a surprise why you, so far, have not been a hit with the ladies
>Being Frost's C&C brings a couple of helpful tools you have realized
>One of those being a secured link to send and receive messages over, even messages of audiovisual nature
>At least you doubt you'll lose each other anytime soon
>"Hey, chin up. I'll be alright, ok?", she gives you a gentle smile
>Are your emotions that obvious?! Or...
>Wait, you haven't noticed before but you can... there seems to be the feeling of hope coming through the comm link
>This is a really weird feeling, but it is certainly there
>You can't help but smile in return and nod
>With that, Frost leaves the door and vanishes into the twisted web of sub-nets that make up this world
>The link you share weakens slightly, but you can still feel excitement coming through it
>Well, you have 5 more minutes until you are supposed to meet your potential brain
>One deep breath and you step through the fake apartment door, feeling yourself being dragged through the data highways at lightspeed
>Just to be unceremoniously dumped in a junction hub like the proxy train station
>From here it should just be a short jump to get to your destination
>As you walk through the groups of ponies that are around one of them bumps into you
>A jolt is sent down your spine as he glares at you and moves on with a huff
>What a weirdo, you think to yourself
>You move on, but something feels way off and you feel... heavier
>It is a strange sensation, but you are kind of in a hurry so you keep moving to get to your next gateway
>And just like that, you drop into the train station, exiting another one of the train cars
>The platform is almost empty, apart from a few random ponies milling about
>You glance around before you freeze up as you feel something being pressed against the back of your head
>"Are you the netrunner?", a distorted voice asks you from behind
If you die in the cyberspace, do you die in real life? if you don't, what's the point in threatening someone like this?
"I'm /a/ netrunner. If you want something done, you'd have an easier time posting a job on the notice board."
>You move on, but something feels way off and you feel... heavier
He CLEARLY did something to us. Have we somehow forgotten everything about being a runner?
A bug? Tracking device maybe?
Don't forget that we're just a pile of code right now, so think less device and more program.
Oh no, glowniggers made us fat.
thanks anon!
>Of course you haven't forgotten anything about being a runner
>The first thing you did immediately after that bump in was verify that all your money was here
>And a full system scan, but so far that has come up empty
>Whatever that was, it doesn't seem to be any kind of worm or virus
>A piece of surveillance software that has been installed on you?
>There are no new running processes and your system logs also seem clean
>The system scan should be complete in approximately 15 minutes, you hope that that will shed some light on things
>But you certainly feel like there has been data added to you, which is not something you've previously heard of being possible
>Anyways, there is different matters to deal with right now
"I am /a/ netrunner", you say in a calm voice, not making any rash movements, "and if you have a job, you'd probably have an easier time posting on the job board"
>While dying in cyberspace ends up with you merely being forcefully locked out, it hurts
>It really, REALLY fucking hurts like a bitch and it is NOT a sensation you want to experience. Again.
>You also heard of cases of the pain being so strong that it knocked ponies out in the real world
>Which lead to their capture and probably termination, if you had to guess
>Corps don't exactly tend to take prisoners, and all that
>You slowly turn your head and find that there is not a gun in your face, but a piece of virtual metal pipe
>Having that be swung at your head would not kill you but would give you a massive headache for sure
>It is floating in the grasp of a small unicorn mare, her colors muted gray but you recognize the mane style
"Miss Dawn, I presume?", you take a guess
>The stoic face on the grey ponikin slowly disappears and is replaced by a wide grin
>"You must be C0ldCh33ks then!", she is clearly trying to not break out in laughter at your chosen alias
>Your cheeks are burning and you flap your ears, why the heck did you think THAT was a good name, holy shit
>What are you, 12?
"Uhm... yeaaaa", you admit to which the mare pulls you into a crushing hug that is way stronger than you would have given her any credit for from her looks alone
>"I am so glad you could come! Trust me I am super duper excited to actually do my first run ever! And I already have an idea what I wanna do with the money!"
>"Oh, oh, I've already been told where to meet Big Cash, it's only a couple sub-nets away!", Dawn sends you over the address of a subnet
>A look at the coordinates makes you frown, it is a busy section of the web, a (legal) market place that is known to have a lot of high society and corpos walk about
>The stuff you can buy there is bar none, top notch gear but it is also a common place for corperate netrunners to shop around
>More importantly, it is completely different from the address Frost headed off to
>You have a TERRIBLE feeling about all of this right now
We knew that Big Cash wasn't going to wait for Frost, so it's only logical that she was going to go somewhere else after their meeting. Our hunch is important, but why exactly is it a big deal that Big Cash meets her mentees in different places and gathers them into a team? Isn't it a normal thing to do? Or there may be several Big Cashes. Or she's multitasking. Or one of the two locations is a trap. Or both are traps. Or Big Cash somehow found out that we're connected to both her new recruits and it made her suspect that we're digging into her. Or Dawn and Big Cash are the same pony. Anything is possible, we can't scheme like that. All we can do is send a message to Frost. If this legal market is known to be a dangerous place for netrunners, then it's also our duty as a mentor to tell Dawn to contact Cash and ask her to choose a different location.
15 minutes is a lot. Can't we find this new data by its timestamp, or by looking it up in filesystem's journal? Or, if it's a message that we're supposed to find and read, it may be in some obvious place. Check our home directory and desktop for new txt files.
Is it possible to forcibly keep somebody in the cyberspace? Infect Dawn with a piece of code that will gracefully eject her into the real world and won't let her reconnect for ten minutes if we'll die or give a voice command. Don't let her know that we did it.
Not many opportunities to be child in an orphanage. So the answer to "Are you 12" could be "Yes, but in a metaphorical sense."
"Did Big Cash give you a set time for your meeting?"
>OK, yes you might just be 12, in a metaphorical sense
>Being a child isn't exactly something you get much opportunities for while living in an orphanage
>Anyways, Cash wasn't going to wait for Frost, you've known about that from the message Frost got
>While it is only logical for the fixer to move on to the next meeting place and not stick around forever
>But that doesn't soothe the unease you are getting
>You use your comms channel to shoot Frost a quick message, asking if everything is alright with her
>The link is strangely silent, but you can tell confidently that it is still there
>What you can tell us the emotion of nervousness on the other end
>Something must be going down where Frost is and you don't like it
>"No interference", is a court responds that comes back a couple seconds later
>Does big cash know you are connected to both of her new clients?
>Is one of them fake? Are both fake?
>The questions keep piling up and you turn to Morning as you narrow your eyes
"Alright, listen. I've done a little of recon myself and while Big Cash on the seems good, I sent a friend to check her out before meeting you"
"I am not sure how that has gone so far but I am nervous. Especially with Big Cash requesting a meeting space that is this... open and filled with runners"
>Morning Dawn cocks her head at you in curiosity, "What's this place like?"
"It's massive. Most ponies believe it is a cluster of multiple different corp servers linked together. Part of the profit sellers make going directly to them"
>Giving the mare a quick rundown, you tell her that the place is heavily crowded with a lot of ponies
>She needs to make sure to watch out, there is a lot of people using the opportunity to cause... bad things to happen to an unsuspecting netizen
>It isn't dangerous per se, she just needs to be careful of who she talks to and what she is saying
>Information in this world is more than powerful in a lot of ways, ways that surpass the digital and reach into the real
>The corpo netrunners are the worst, but in there you explain they are at least somewhat easy to spot
>Usually dark suits, often times with their company's logo clearly visible on it
>They carry themselves with pride, thinking they are hot shit
>Also the reason why it is so fun to mess with them, you pulled a couple of jokes on them in the past
>They are also the ones always buying top of the line gear on any market, easy to filter out
>After that, you go silent for a moment, browsing your file directory as you keep looking at Morning in thought
>Ah, there it is: "Ejector Seat", a small but useful tool that has saved your ass a couple times before
>While it is possible to hold somepony in cyberspace, which as illegal as it is, is a common tactic of runners trying to get intel,...
>...it is just as possible to eject a pony from the network with a different computer program
(forgot >>38947202)
>You rig up a trigger container and set it to either activate on a specific voice command ("Mathematics") from you or your ejection from the network
>Payload: Ejector Seat
>As you tell Morning Dawn that things are gonna be alright as long as she stays vigilant, you give her a pat on the back
>She jumps from the small feeling of an electric jolt she has gotten
>"W-wow, I didn't know ESD was a thing in cyberspace!", she looked surprised but also in awe at figuring out something new
"Y-yeah, electric discharge", you agree with her, being glad that she probably has never felt a data injection
"Make sure to tell me if you end up getting shocked again sometime during our visit to the market, ok?"
>She eagerly nods, "well, Cash said to meet her in the subnet in.... about half an hour from now!", Dawn exclaims, "should we get a move on?"
>Confirming with a nod, you set off towards the train gateway taking you to your proper destination
>All the while you check on your system scan
>Something doesn't add up: The size of your cyber avatar has grown by about 34% and a quick look at it tells you why
>There is a bunch of encrypted data attached to it, piggy-backing off the end of it
>You turn towards your rear in curiosity and find that it has, in fact, not increased in size
>Whatever the additional data is though, it seems to be just that: Data
>Not marked as executable, nothing that looks even remotely like a virus
>Unfortunately you aren't the most experienced when it comes to crypto, you always either paid someone for decryption or relied on your crewmate to handle that
>Needless to say, you make a copy of the attached data and place it somewhere in a secure section of your rig's storage
>Have to deal with that later, eventually
>For now, you step through the train door and find yourself coming out of the outside of a train terminal in a bustling city marketplace
>Morning Dawn steps out next to you, in absolute awe at what she sees and her mouth hanging open
>Ponies looking at market stalls with digital price signs floating above, Neon ads for the newest tech and gear, both for common ponies as well as ponies like you
>A digital assistant comes over to you, "Welcome, Mister, Madam! May I offer you to check out our Royal Tech store? The best tech for the best homes, now conveniently located near you!"
"Can it, tincan", you push the AI aside and move past, with Dawn following you
>Unfortunately, the robot isn't willing to give up and keeps walking after you, telling you to please check out all the beautiful machinery!
>They have a sale on kitchen stuff! Refrigerators, ovens, and everything like that!
>Just ignore the damn thing, eventually it will have to let up, right?
>The robot gets ever and ever closer to you, until he is basically right next to your ear as he keeps talking up sales and things like that
>"I am not going to wait forever", the sales AI whispers into your ear before courtly turning around and leaving you alone
Refrigerators? Have Shroomie sent him? If we still have a few minutes left, let Dawn take a look at our encrypted data. It's a risk if she's not what she appears to be, but she was good with numbers, and somebody is playing games with us.
Huh, what's that about? A case of mistaken identity? Did we stumble upon another clandestine meeting or something?
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"Hmm, I'm not Big on Cash, do you take credit?"
Apologies, I am but a simple ESL-kun. Thanks for the heads up though.
>Them talking about refrigerators makes you think shroomie has sent them, but that would be utterly ridicolous
>She's a mushroom, for gosh's sake, she can't dive into the net or send ema-
>Moving on, what the heck was that about?!
>You turn around to look after the cyber salespony but they have already disappeared into the crowd
>Did some other pony mistake you for someone you are not?
>It dawns on you that this might have been some kind of clandestine meeting
>What store did they say they were part of? Royal Tech?
>Morning Dawn moves up to you as you stopped and looks at you with a curios expression
>"What's the matter? Something on your mind?", she asks as she looks after where the robot has disappeared in the crowd
>You glance around looking at the different store fronts and digital signs up and down
>A small looking store stands out to you, a golden crown floating above the doorframe with a fancy type reading Royal Tech: For all your monetary needs
>Strange slogan but who are you to judge, especially if this really just a front
>As you do so, you open up a secured comm channel with Morning Dawn, hearing her go "Huh?" both next to you as well as in your head
>"Shh, there is a reason I opened comms and am not directly talking to you. Think, not speak", you explain to her
>Her response is a quick nod as she seems to be listening to what you have to say
>"Earlier while getting here I have... gotten my hoof on some data. I'm far from a crypto specialist but figured your knack for numbers might be hoofy"
>If Morning isn't who she pretends to be, this might help you uncover who or what is playing games with you
>Because somepony is and that is without question
>Sending her part of the encrypted pieces of information you can hear her hum in thought
>"Well, it certainly is encrypted, I can tell you that much", she glances towards you and then frowns, "but I never really... had to crack an encryption before. I am not sure I can help you"
>The mare sounds dejected at having to admit this and you place a hoof on her back and give her a small, reassuring smile
>Giving Morning Dawn a nod, you make your way through the crowd and walk in through the antique looking door
>You have to manually push it open compared to the automatic sliding doors that have just become absolute common place, basically everywhere nowadays
>They weren't lying when they said monetary needs are covered here
>While the gear looks absolutely top notch, the prices are there to match
>But gosh, you know a lot of ponies that would absolutely salivate at the selection here
>They offer prosthetics (including some real high quality legs that a certain somepony could probably make use of!), cyber implants, software
>The section for hoof rigs is especially inviting and you wish you could stick around to browse more, this place is a treasure trove
>You walk up to the cashier and give him a good lookover
>He looks absolutely bored, playing around with a pen, not even casting you a glance
>Standing there what feels like a minute he finally decides to look up at you and with an annoyed grunt asks you if you need help with something
>Talk about good customer service, you huff to yourself
"Hi there, I'm... well, not Big on Cash, do you take credit?"
>His bored face shows a sign of a smirk as his entire demeanor shifts into a much more professional attitude
>"I believe there might be something in the back of the shop that could be of assistance, sir"
>He steps aside and shows you a door behind him, that opens into a hallway with a door at the end
>It's obvious to you that this is highly likely a gateway linked covertly to another subnet that is off the grid, a backdoor if you will
>Your unicorn companion looks at you and the cashier, her face that of worry
"ladies first", put on your most reassuring face.
Is the cashier a real pony or a script?

So our mutual sympathy with Frost felt a little forced for a reason, huh? It's by design. C&C software creates an emotional bond between a field agent and his or her handler. It might've been her previous C&C operator who helped her escape, too.
>The cashier certainly didn't behave or look like a scripted AI, you assume it was a real pony
>Probably the best idea if you are trying to hide a secret passage and everything
>Well, not much you can do other than take a leap of faith
>You stand to the side of the door, and give a wave to Morning, "Ladies first", you bow
>She snickers, "what a cavalier you are", she passes you by with a giggle, touches the door's handle and disintegrates
>Stealing your nerves, you follow the mare to wherever she has been taken to
>Touching the handle, you feel yourself being whisked away into the deeper reaches of the network
>You open your eyes back up and are surprised at the absolute magnificent décor that you are greeted with
>The walls are lined with golden inlays, the floors have golden carpets on the otherwise well polished wood floor
>Chandeliers hang from the ceiling and bath the hallway in warm, bright light
>It looks like a place fit for nobility almost
>The carpet leads to a big double door at the far end that you have the feeling is where you are expected
>Next to you, Morning Dawn "Oohs" and "Aahs", never having seen anything like this before
>She sticks close to you as you get a move towards the front, clearly intimidated by the display
"Don't worry. Stuff like that in the net is basically free and usually just means whoever designed this place potentially has too much of an inflated ego"
>She looks at you before relaxing a bit, moving away from you and snickering
>As you place your hoof on the handle, you try and push open the door which is quite a lot heavier than you thought it would be
>Or maybe you are just weak
>Thankfully, together with Morning, while still a tough task, is able to be accomplished and soon you stand in a throne room
>At the end of it, a black dark purple earth pony mare is sitting on a throne
>Her long blue mane flows like silk down her side and onto the floor as she watches you with a gleeful smile
>She is big. Real big
>"A pleasure making your acquaintance. Mrs. Morning Dawn?", she gives the unicorn a CURT nod and then turns to you
>"And you must be... her companion, or perhaps mentor? I believe we haven't been introduced, although I believe we have a mutual friend"
>Out behind the throne room a mare comes out, a leafgreen pony that looks at you with her icy blue eyes
>As she sees you, she comes running up to you and pulls you into a crushing hug
>"I'm sorry", she whispers into your ear as she gives you the chance to breath again
>"My name is Big Cash, and I heard somepone is in need of some money? Well, do I have the job for you!"
>Cash smirks as she waves a hoof and a screen pops up in front of you three
>"Let's call this a test run to see if our... mutual cooperation has any future, shall we?"
>On the screen you can see a building, it's a looking like a small office
>"CoreTechs. Small place, but rumors are they have made a breakthrough in AI-ware. One of my employers would love to have a little peak, if you know what I mean"
>Her smile is ever growing as she studies all three of your faces
>"Of course, you'll be rewarded appropriately. I don't foresee too much trouble, but I assume you know how it is", she speaks to you directly
>The office building doesn't seem too complex, a mostly standard building that, according to the map, is located near the gate of the adjacent station, new manehatten
>According to the information on the job, the R&D server is completely disconnected from the global net and only accessible locally
>Which means you'll need to somehow get through the border control, if you were to take on this job
>Security doesn't seem overly strong, though, which is always a plus on runs like this
>The reward is 6k creds in total, certainly not the highest you have ever seen but nothing to scoff at for a beginner group of runners
>"So, do we have a deal?", Big Cash is now leaning fowards, holding her head up with her hooves as she closely keeps an eye on you
>Morning Dawn is looking over on you, clearly unsure about this and hoping on your input on it
>"And if you need anything before the run, we can just... go ahead and deduct that from your payout. So just tell me, need anything, honey?", her voice is sweet as honey
>Now the question is, what do you need for the job? What do you have? Any questions you want to ask or do you just accept/refuse?
>Maybe talk it through with your two companions and perhaps consider expanding the crew?
>This is a run, so danger is sure to follow, which makes being prepared paramount
Definitely talk it through. If we want to bring Dawn up as a mastermind, we should give her an idea of what are we up against and let her come up with questions and ideas.
If she'll have nothing, how about we create an exact copy of their building, steal identity of one of their employees, get inside, and place in their corridors several invisible one-way doorways that would transparently teleport security ponies to our copy of the building? Or we may dress like milkmen and use lots of explosives.
How about 8K in store credit? Our apartment could use some sprucing up.
Out of curiosity, we should see what Dawn would think is useful for this job. She is going to have to make decisions like this at some point in her career after all. Would be some nice insight to see what her perspective on such things are. As for what we actually need, we'll either need a pair of legs or a decent drone for Frost depending on how she'll be involved with the job.
"If we could have a moment, Miss Cash? Outside?", you request and she waves with a hoof and nods
>Leaving the room with Frost and Dawn in tow, you close the door
"Ladies, I introduce you to each other: Morning Dawn, this is Frost. Frost, Morning Dawn"
>The two mares shake hooves, Morning taking well to Frost while the latter is somewhat apprehensive
>A message pops up on your HUD, saying "real name?"
>You reply back, mentally, "Crews are built on trust. Names are some of the most powerful sign of trust a runner can give"
>"I hope you know what you're doing", she replies after a few seconds of thought, "even if you haven't even told me your name yet"
>That last bit definitely stung a little and you hope it is something you can remedy later on back in meatspace
"Alright, Dawn. Remember the quick overview I gave you about crews?", you start out
>"Well, a lot of jobs are dangerous and ponies tend to have their own strengths, so sometimes runners come together to pull bigger jobs"
>You wave for her to continue
>"Each pony in a group has a specific role. Netrunner, techie, medtech, muscle, gunner... mastermind", she tries to recall everything you told her
"Right. And as much as it pains me to admit, I am not exactly the best when it comes to planning. Dawn, if you are really serious about putting together a crew, I think you might make for an ideal mastermind"
>Her eyes widen at your revelation to her and she begins to tremble
>"You'd be... really? You and Frost and me?", she starts tearing up ever so slightly at the idea of having a crew to be part of
>You just smile in return, glancing at Frost who decides to match your smile, for now
"You do know that comes with the responsibility of planning and directing us. So, what do we need, boss?"
>The mare puts a hoof to her face and hums in thought before looking at you
>"Well, if this really is a job that requires our physical presence... we need transportation. A way to get in and even more importantly we need to know where to go. Blueprints of the office will be invaluable"
"Not bad, not bad... what else?"
>"Access to their guard posts and rotation. Perhaps an insider we can bribe, so let's try and get our hooves on a an employee list to cross-reference"
>"Something to take out a guard if we were to be spotted would be nice too non-lethal and amnesia inducing, of course"
>She is really starting to get into it now, and keeps going to plan out
>"Weapons are probably harder to get in, but perhaps we can pick up some concealed carries. Do we have a muscle? We should absolutely have a muscle"
>Frost raises her hoof to which Dawn lets out a satisfied sigh, "that's one worry of my chest for sure"
"Well, actually, we're gonna have to... get some upgrades before Frost is able to help out"
>Dawn perks up at what you're saying and you shrug
>"Well, if this is a 6k for the job, that is 2k for each of us. You think that'll be enough?"
>Might be worth checking out the store in front for gear
>"I'd like to run simulations to train our path to the target", the small unicorn continues on with her plan
"A simulation should be pretty easy to set up once we have blueprints", you mention and she clops her hooves together gleefully
>"Wonderful! We'll use that to practise then. Say, anypony got an idea what we can use as a reason to be there? Or should we just... sneak in after hours?"
"Personally, I am more comfortable not having to deal with talking to anypony, but you're the boss, Dawn."
>"Well then, we might not even need the employee list, then. Although being able to copy somepony's access credentials would probably make a break-in much easier. So let's try to get our hooves on it"
>It is terrifying how confident she is with planning all of this out, as if it was second nature to her
>"Oh, oh yes we also need a way to cross the border. Fake passports? Do you runners have any underground tunnels that you use to smuggle things?"
>"Big Cash might know about that one, now that I think about it...", she puts a hoof to her chin
>"I believe us three should be enough for that job, all things considered. So if you guys are good with it, I'd say we accept Big Cash's job!"
>She looks at the two of you expectantly, "how did I do?", she asks gleefully and clip clops her hoofsies on the floor in excitement
>How would you go about it? Does Dawn's plan sound acceptable or is there anything she missed? Any more gear you think you might need?
I figure letting Dawn take the reins and giving her advice here and there is the best course of action.
... Does everyone have a death wish? Nah, we don't plan by saying we'll wing it, none of us have that moviestar sleeziness needed to pull it off.
We need back up plans for when things go wrong, because they will go wrong if we don't have a plan to deal with it.
Well, to really pull plans we first need to figure out what the place looks like, right? This is high level planning, going into detail comes once we actually have the intel collected
Frost is right, we should be more careful with her personal information. Even if it's an acronym, a silly corporate conventionality, and not the name she was given upon birth. Or they named a whole project with other cyborg ponies in it with a backronym of her real name?
One heist movie archetype that we seem to be missing is a safe cracker/cryptographer. We don't have enough money to hire him for full time, but we don't have to. We can give him access when and where he's needed. Or we can just run away with an encrypted block of data without confirming that it's what Cashes client was looking for, but it's a sloppy job and nobody likes sloppy jobs.
>You are a little stunned at how quickly she has come up with things you need and how she started putting things together
"Well, I think you've missed a slight detail, we'd need someone able to break the encryption on the files we're stealing"
>A cryptographer might come in hoofy for you as well, you still want to know what that block of encrypted data attached to your avatar is
>She sighs but you stop her before she can say anything else
"But other than that, that is some spot on pre-planning. Clearly not a full plan or a backup plan, or a backup to that backup plan,"
>A glance behind you at the door and you furrow your brow
"That is usually how the first phase of a mission goes, initial contact with a fixer and prepwork to get real planning underway"
>She feels a little relieved at what you're saying as you step aside from the door
"Well then, mastermind, I think it's time for you to make the call here, go in there and show what you can do! And don't forget. Confidence.", you give her a hooves up
>She is shaking slightly but takes a couple deep breaths and holds her head up high walking towards the door and pushing it back open once more
>As she passes you, Frost casts you a glare and you feel annoyance, if not even anger coming from her end
>"Hoofing out personal information sign of trust? Yes. I don't trust this mare. No sign of trust from me, Mr. I-don't-share-my-name", she almost spits via your mental link
>She then walks past you, "next time, let me decide who I introduce myself to, and how. Subterfuge and Infiltration 101", she huffs
>You are a little stumped as you follow Frost inside, hearing Dawn beginning to speak
>"We'll take the job. But there is a couple things we need before we can get to it", she begins listing out the information you guys talked about
>Big Cash nods thoughtfully at each of them, "While there are smuggling tunnels, I believe they wouldn't fit a car. Meaning you'd certainly have to walk a fair bit"
>"Speaking of, that car will set you guys back a couple thousand, you I can assure you, you'll be pleased with what I can scrounge up. I believe... 3000 creds of your contract and I can pull something off"
>"For the blueprints, employees and guard rotation I'd charge another.... hmm, let's say 500 and we have a deal. Can't help you with the access credentials though, that'll be on you to figure out", she grins
>"Passports, that is usually a tough one. 500, from each of you, I think that should cut it for some temporary access passes to the other station"
>Steep price, but you know just how hard it can be to get your hooves on valid documents to facilitate inter-station-travel
>"When it comes to a cryptonut, for 100 creds I can certainly put an ad out, might get somepony to bite"
>That would certainly be an option, although you definitely should still have a couple of former encbreaker contacts that you might be able to pull on board, if just temporary
>"And prosthetics?", Frost speaks up for the first time, Big Cash giving her a grin
>She points to the door, "you know, I am feeling generous today, I'll get you a buy 2, pay 1 deal out in the shop. Just talk to Cash Register, he'll know"
>Frost nods in agreement
>"Well, if that is everything, I think you ponies can get to work? Whatever you need I'll have shipped to your hideout"
>Morning Dawn seems to be in thought and mumbles "only 300 credits each...", a little downtrodden from the sound of it
>"If we skip on the car we could.... and no access passes", she is running through calculations under her breath for a moment and then looks at you expectantly
>Anything you don't need? Anything else you want to ask? And you completely forgot about the hideout part, should you just ship it to your home for now?
>Maybe you have to run some recon around your neighborhood after logging out, you know a couple abandoned buildings and a couple easily accessible sewer access points and the like
>That and you gotta decide how to handle the encbreaker hiring
>Could just temporarily give them access while you are inside and only pay them for that time
>Lots of questions, but you gotta start somewhere, sometime
It is a first job and large expenditures on things we'll be using more than once isn't a bad thing.
True. I can see the passports remaining useful after the current job so long as we don't blow our cover.

I want to know the feasibility of foregoing the car to save on cost. Are there inter-station transits available? We could get to the location that way and back if we manage to pull off a perfect stealth run, otherwise we'll use the smuggling tunnel as a backup.
1. Exit strategy.
It sounds like we'll end up buying her car, but I'd like to hear more about why we are doing it. Can't we just set up a sequence of proxies and jump to them right from the exit of the building, closing them behind us? Basically, create our own smuggling tunnel? What are the pros and cons of using cars vs using smuggling tunnels vs creating ad hoc our own smuggling tunnels?
Same question about passports. It sounds like it's something that we desperately need, but for what? What are the mechanics here? What will happen if we'll try to use the car or the tunnels without any passports?
Can we use the same car and passports again on other heists, or they are disposable?

2. Cryptographer.
100 for a mere ad is a robbery. We'll try to use our connections. But, uh. 2000 is a standard pay for a novice runner, so it's fair to assume that no self-respecting cryptography expert will work for less than 500-1000 per decryption. Let's face it: our current paygrade implies extorting password from ponies.

3. Bribing the employes.
Again, not happening at our paygrade. We'll have to rob or blackmail them for access credentials instead.

4. 500 for blueprints, employees and guard rotation
Technically, we can steal it all ourselves. It'd also give Dawn some invaluable experience. But it'd make us do roughly twice the work for roughly 1.5 the pay. I think we're buying it.

5. Weapons.
None? Apparently, we're relying solely on Frost's physical prowess.

6. What do we do with our pay.
It was said that we can buy and install one good leg for a couple hundred credits, so with 2 for 1 offer we should be able to completely restore Frost's mobility with her and ours pays combined, 666 creds. Life's good. It won't leave much for a new apartment, so let's not let Big Cash know where we live. It's bad enough that we'll have to let her know which two legs Frost needs. I'd prefer to buy her legs from two different sellers, but 2 for 1 is 2 for 1. By the way, was it mentioned in her bounty poster which legs she's missing? Do we know a doctor we can trust?
>Basically, create our own smuggling tunnel?
These are *physical* tunnels. The servers we're trying to get to is air gapped from the outside world, so we need to physically infiltrate the office building.

>Same question about passports. It sounds like it's something that we desperately need, but for what? What are the mechanics here?
I assume the passport is because of >>38927258:
>>New Equestria is split up into smaller units of management, called a station, which a pony is stuck in unless they get a digital invitation to an adjacent station
>>Great way for keeping your population neatly split between rich and poor and under control
>You put a hoof to Dawn's side and tell her that for a first job big expenditures like this are absolutely normal
>For future missions you already have at least part of your gear already prep'd, meaning you're able to keep more for yourself
>While you would certainly wish for a higher pay yourself, the materials you get out of this aren't just gonna be thrown away
>As for the passports, those have a chance to be revoked if you are not careful or if you make use of them too often, but otherwise aren't a terrible investment either
>The feasibility of a car might be questionable, to a certain degree
>While the slums have an absolutely rotten transit system that is barely usable, you wouldn't doubt that higher class stations are much easier to get around
>With a perfect stealth run, you wouldn't even need to rely on a car to get your butt back out
>But all this hinges on things going like planned and you going in and out in a jiffy
>From experience, runs are never that nice and always end in trouble
>To get the data you definitely have to access the inner networks on-site
>The entire place is completely disconnected from the outside, there is no just breaking in remotely
>You could pass through the smuggling tunnels into other stations without the passports, but you wouldn't be able to fit a car through it
>The place are a narrow maze of hallways and sewer ducts, a vehicle simply won't have enough space
>Thinking about the ad, 100 creds is definitely robbery and not a deal you are willing to take
>Sadly, with the current pay you're making you won't be getting any self respecting cryptonut to help you out
>You've seen prices start at 500 and up, usually leaning to 2.5-3k for fast decryptions of sensitive data with a no questions asked policy
>That means you'll have to blackmail or rob employees for that
>Digging up some dirt on one shouldn't be too hard, you believe
>You'll definitely pick up the intel, the work wouldn't be worth it for the pay
>Weapons would be nice, but you'd want to get something decent that doesn't blow up in your face and you just don't have the kind of money for that right now
>A glance at your cybernetic companion makes you hope her physical prowess is gonna be enough
>Which, with the level of security the mission assumes, should not be an issue
>No guns, just batons and hoof-to-hoof combat
>Legs, though
>666 creds should make for a good pair of legs and keep a little bit left over for food for the next couple weeks
>As much as you would prefer buying from different vendors, a 2-for-1 is just really hard to beat
>Thankfully, none of the bounties have listed any missing limbs
>But you'll need to also repair her defective leg
>Well, no better time than now, you give Big Cash a list of the things you need and a nearby drop point that is reachable from your apartment
>It is often used by runners for occasions just like this
>That will also be where you'll have the legs delivered
>Better safe than sorry with ponies knowing where you (temporarily) live
>You give Morning Dawn a nod and she looks at Big Cash, "we accept. We'll skip out on the ad, though"
>Big Cash gives a hearty laugh, "as you wish", she smiles and you send her the drop point coords
>She gives your merry band a wave and you leave back the way you came from, Frost in tow back into the Royal Tech store
>"I hope you have found what you were looking for", the stallion now known as Cash Register gives you a bow as you step back out into the shop proper
"We did, thank you. Say, we've heard there is a sale on cybernetic legs? 2 for 1?"
>Cash beams before showing you towards the right section of the store
>While there is a lot that are way out of your league in terms of price (but which make Frost look at them in absolute awe) a couple much more basic, but sturdy ones are also on display
>A pair made out reinforced titanium and arcanium seem to be quite promising, one of them costing 200 creds
>They don't have many bells and whistles, but they are supposed to be very light and very durable
>A set of all 4 legs would bring you to 400 creds, which is a basically must buy level and you quickly authorize the transaction
>With a full set at once, Cash will also not know which legs are missing, that can only be good in the long run
>"We'll take care of payment for you, Mr. I'll have the legs sent to a ripperdoc of your convenience, you merely must provide me with the address", he says with a smile
>There is a couple ripperdocs around, one you've been to before, after one of your jobs went... a lot more south than you would have hoped
>It was a miracle he was able to stitch you back up into one piece again and the scars are still visible under your fur
>While he probably not remembers you he sure knows what he is doing and is probably your best bet
>Giving the address, the store clerk nods and walks away from you
>Morning Dawn looks around and then looks at you, "so, what now? Do we do anything or do we have to wait until we got our gear?"
>You could stick in cyberspace for a while longer, you still have about an hour until food for you and the nugget arrive
>Or you could log out, do some more prep work, maybe just relax a bit instead
>A message from an anonymous sender comes up, telling you that requisition will take approximately 4 days
>That is a lot of time, but not unheard of
>"Is there anything you would like to have me do while we wait, by the way?", Dawn starts before looking away and continuing to talk
>"And uh... when are we... you know..... going to meet in pony?", Dawn shuffles on her hooves a little nervous
>She then blushes and holds up her hoof waving it around, "N-not in that sense of course, you know what I meant justtostartworkingtogetherokimmagobye"
>Swiping up her hoof she presses a to you invisible UI in front of her and disappears in a blinding light
A normal doctor may be not good enough. He'll have too many opportunities to capture Frost or place a tracker inside her. We need somebody who will never rat us out, somebody who really doesn't like having money. Or somebody with a comparable price for his head. Do we know any high-profile international terrorists?
When Frost apologised, was it only about not warning us that she was already there, or something more interesting happened between her and Cash before we got there?
What Frost thinks about Dawn? Did something in particular made her think that Dawn is not who she appears to be, or will never be a good runner, or is not trustworthy in general?
Beggars can't be choosers, and looking for a terrorist (???) is just going to get us into more trouble.
>When Frost apologised, was it only about not warning us that she was already there, or something more interesting happened between her and Cash before we got there?
Also interested in learning this
>With confusion on your face at the quick logout of your mastermind you turn to Frost
>She just shrugs, slides her hoof up and also disappears
>Standing alone in the shop you take one last look around and make the jump back into realspace
>Just in time to watch Frost trying to unplug the cable from her neck, failing more or less spectacularly as she flails about with her one hoof
>Removing the electrodes from your head, you smile as you sit next to her and pull the plug out
>As you sit next to her she leans into you and puts her head on your shoulder and closes her eyes
>"This is nice", she quietly whispers, more to herself than you, "thank you, for all of this", she addresses you more directly
>You're just glad you are able to help her out
>It's weird how attached you have grown to her already, part of you worrying that the installed C&C might have something to do with it
>But in a couple days you should be able to visit the local clinic and get her mobile again
>Gonna have to think of how to best get her there
>And a normal doc isn't good enough, that is very much true
>Which is why the doctor your crewmates have taken you to is a trustworthy ripperdoc
>There is a reason they chose this place, Bonesaw is not one to ask questions and very quick to forget
>Especially considering that he, just like a lot of doctors with a certain questionable side-profession, is using not digital but paper records
>Which often might just accidentally disappear
>While you haven't had to deal with him more than a hoofful of times, his reputation among runners is quite excellent
>If there is one doc you doubt is gonna mess try and sell Frost, it'd be him
"Hey Frost, mind if I ask you a couple things?", you start to which she just gives you a "mhm"
"Remember when you came out behind Cash? You said you were sorry about something, what did you mean by this?"
>Her ears go flat and she looks away before starting to speak
>"Big Cash... she was exceptionally suspicious of me when we met. Was about to immediately turn me away"
>She sighs, "I didn't want to disappoint you, so I asked her what she wanted to trust me"
>"The mare knew that you, me and Morning Dawn were connected. She had been keeping tabs on Morning ever since the unicorn made first contact"
>"I am sorry for berating you when you told Morning Dawn my name earlier, yet here I did basically the same thing"
>You nod, not mad at her or anything
"What about Dawn? What do you think of her?"
>Frost looks at you, furrowing her eyebrow and frowning
>"She is good at planning, smart. Scarily so. It's like she's done this before, many times. She understands how runners think, despite claiming to have never run"
>"Something like her is what you'd call a naturally born talent, and I don't believe in such things. That and my training has made clear to never trust anypony", she huffs
>Any other questions? A conversation you want to spin up? Something you want to do? Or timeskip?
>The mare knew that you, me and Morning Dawn were connected
No, no, no. It shouldn't be possible. Cash could've easily drawn a connection between Dawn and our cyber-identity because Dawn was sloppy, but there was almost no connection between our and Frost's cyber-identities. We only met Frost once in the cyberspace. There was nobody else to see us together. It means that we have a major leak somewhere. Cash probably already knows our physical location, and it's not even the scariest implication. Run a deep scan of our system. Tell Frost to do the same with her coprocessors.
We should properly introduce ourself.

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