[7.]

"Turn. Slowly."

She gets up, cradling the small turtle machine against her chest. It's simple enough to put her impassive mask in place, but her stomach is tight with concern as she glances down at her machine.

Its shell is cracked. Its gears are whirring pathetically. But, the thing it still working. She can still save it. . . Given that this asshole doesn't shoot her. Which he probably will eventually. She eyes his own gas mask, as it obscures everything but his sparking brownish gaze. Well. Not his haircut, either, a neon green strip running straight over his skull.

Manticore. Has to be. Gangers in these parts have their own colors. Manticores are green. Hounds are red. Butchers are blue. Shades are violet. He must have been the one to destroy the giant mechs, too, which means. . . He might be a rogue Manticore, however unlikely that seems, or the mechs were sent by another gang to encroach on their territory. Meds District is a pretty valuable spot, so that makes more sense.

He studies her with unsettling scrutiny. "What are you doing here, kid?" He demands, not lowering his weapon. "You. . ." He pauses, checking her up and down. She wears only black, no other colors. It helps keep the peace whenever she gets caught. His stare does pause on her turtle machine, though. But he keeps quiet about it.

"You ain't with anyone?" It sounds like he might be scowling. "We don't get many neutrals here. Not smart ones, at least. Whatdya want?" He repeats. "You ain't like them other chumps, huh? I can tell."

She can do this. As long as she stays calm, it appears that he might be willing to listen now and shoot later. She rubs a bloody hand over her brow, letting out a long, unsteady breath.

"I need supplies." She admits. "Any high grade meds that you can spare. I can pay, trade, whatever you want."

He cocks his head, weapon still pointing at her heart. "Is that so, hmm?" He gives her wheezing machine another glance. ". . .the hell is that thing?" He grunts. "Some kinda drone?"

She swallows back the sudden, sour taste rising in her throat. "No." She immediatly replies, a bit sharper than she meant to. "It's not a threat, yeah? So, what does it matter?"

He considers this. "Whatever." He snorts. "But meds don't come cheap, kiddo. Not the ones you want."

"I know that." She grits her teeth. "I can pay, trust me."

How long has she been gone? Three hours, maybe? Menace has enough painkillers in that drip to last till sunset, then. . . Then, she doesn't want to think about what might happen. She can't think about it. Shoulders bristling, she stares down this punk as the minutes stretch.

"We'll see about that." He relents with another grunt. "Shops are this way, kiddo." He waves his gun in some vague direction, past the intersection where the mechs were standing. Right, those mechs.

While she has the time, she can't help it. He starts walking and she holds her turtle machine closer as she trails his shadow. "You make electro bombs?" She asks, unable to disguise her suspicion. "How?"

He shoots her a dark, unreadable look. "You know something about them?"

"I know that we don't have the materials to build them as strong as that." She counters blankly.

He shrugs. "You don't give away trade secrets, kiddo. It's bad business." But, now, he keeps a closer watch on her as they traverse through the poisonous clouds.

Maybe her question gave her away? Yet, having that skill, to make those electric bombs. . . It might be almost priceless. Disabling all synthetics within twenty yards in an instant? Who wouldn't want to learn to do that?

She keeps her mouth shut this time, though. Her little turtle machine twitches in her arms, its gears giving a sluggish wheeze.

"Hang in there, buddy." She whispers. "It's gonna be okay. I promise."

. . .isn't it? She grows tense as the smog begins to thin through the buildings. More people are here. Well, more Manticores, given all the green. Some have green hair, some have green clothes, and almost all have some kinda green tattoo on their pale skin. She spies some Shades, too, mingling at the sparse weapon stalls along the corners.

"It's this way, kiddo." Her own Manticore motions to a building next to the stalls. It looks like it might be in better shape than most in this district. Even the windows are still intact, which is surprising.

He squints back at her, tugging his mask down his neck. "You can breathe here, too. We got vents that circulate the chems out."

She pulls her rebreather down with a tight, reluctant expression. No one here will recognize her, not without her trademark drones. No one will know. She has nothing to worry about. . . Nothing at all.