/simu/ - Simulacrum

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>Date: April 21st, 2017
>Location: S.C. - Residential District - Grayson Residence
>Time: 8:00 AM

>Muttering to herself, Phoebe slowly opens her eyes as she sits up in her bed. Rubbing her eyelids, she then checks the time from the periphery of her vision.

{"Eight o'clock. Ugh. Great."}

>Getting up, she then goes through her usual routine of getting herself ready for the day. After doing everything necessary - she then finishes getting her outfit ready before turning around to look at her phone.


>The phone screen reads:

["No New Messages"]

>Instinctively frowning, Phoebe sighs and then picks up her phone. Thinking to herself, she stews in her own mixture of raw emotions.

{"Deliah's gonna kill me for not visiting the firm in a month. Better late than never. I'll try and catch a visit this week."}

>Now walking to the front of the door, she gets to the front door and leaves - then locking the door behind her.

>Phoebe then looks down at her phone and thinks for a moment. Sighing, she then thinks:

{"…..Only one person could really cheer me up at this point. Wonder if she's still busy this week?"}

>Phoebe then dials the number on the phone and starts walking to her car on the driveway.


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>Location: Somewhere in the English countryside
>Time: 3:02pm

>Lisa stands in the middle of a small beaten country road, silently looking at a spot at the side of the road, twisting a ring on her finger as she does.

>Noticing her phone buzzing in her pocket, Lisa takes it out, looking at it for a second as she notices the call is from Phoebe.

>Hovering over the reject call button for a few seconds, Lisa instead sighs, taking a big breath and forcing a smile onto her face before answering the call.

"Heeeey Pheeeebs. . . what's up?"


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>Phoebe is silent on the other side of the phone for a moment, before stating:

"…..If you're not busy, could you come over in a bit."

>Looking towards one of the cars in the driveway - she stares at it for a moment before sighing.

{"Of course Aiden left his car here. Doesn't even need to fly anymore. Christ."}

>As she moves to unlock the car with a custom key that she and her sibings share, she continues speaking to Lisa.

"I'm not in the best place and…."

>Hesitant for a moment, Phoebe then places her hand on the car's handle - straining her eyes behind her sunglasses.

"I…I just want…."

>Holding back a wave of sadness in her voice, she still briefly cracks as she finishes.

"I just want someone to talk to….."

>Phoebe is then silent on the phone, her fingers trembling as she waits for a response.


File: 1680557271686.png (370.45 KB, 617x930, 0b86de47eeda0ca39504b27ab5….png)

"I'm. . ."

>Lisa looks over to the side of the road.

"Actually no I'm free, where do you want to meet up? It'll take me a minute to get there though, I'm not in the US currently."


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>Silent for a moment, Phoebe then says:

"….Can you meet me at the dessert shop down the street from Eros? Ester's? It's been a while, I know. But I just have to talk to you."

>She then waits for Lisa's reply, still feeling awful.


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"Yeah of course Pheebs, it might take me a minute because I don't know that area too well, but I'll be there - don't you worry."

>Lisa takes her phone away from her ear to end the call and stops herself for a moment, bringing it back up.

"I'm going to start running now, ok? So I'll have to put the phone down, don't drive yourself off a cliff or anything while I'm heading over, ok?"

>Lisa ends the call then puts her phone in her pocket, letting out another sigh.

"Positive thoughts. . . positive thoughts. . . she needs a bright shining spark right now, ok?"

>Slapping her face with both hands, Lisa's usual smile comes to the surface.

"Much better, now let's go. . ."

>Lisa disappears from the spot in a stream of lightning, causing the leaves all around to shake a little.


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>Location: S.C. - Ester's
>Time: 8:30 AM

>Twirling her sundae, Phoebe looks around the small restaurant. Ester's is a relatively new establishment in Sanctuary City. Somewhat renowned for using more fresh ingredients in their coffee and dessert treats.

{"…..What's wrong with me?"}

>Phoebe thinks to herself. She continues twirling her spoon, making unique wave patterns in her vanilla ice cream. She then looks at the microscopic particles being formed in her sundae - seeing the various little bits of cream slowly move around.


>Looking at the windows around her, Phoebe narrows her eyes. There's nobody else in the shop so far. However, Phoebe has a guess as to why.

{"Nobody's sulking enough to come here on a busy weekday morning I'd bet. At least not first thing in the morning."}

>Shifting in her seat very slightly, Phoebe then sighs and thinks to herself:

{"I hope she gets here soon. I need someone to talk to."}


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>The door of the establishment rings as it's opened, and Lisa steps inside, looking around the room until she sees Phoebe.

>Walking over calmly to her friend's table, Lisa pulls out a chair and sits down, tipping an imaginary hat. Addressing Phoebe, she does her best impression of a cowboy.

"What's up princess? Trying to lose yourself in a bottle?"


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>Looking up slowly at Lisa for a moment, Phoebe's expression is completely neutral. Silent for another few seconds, Phoebe then gets up and walks over.


>Then, Phoebe hugs Lisa with a somewhat firm grip, as she begins crying. Still trembling somewhat, she then says:

"I…I've been such an asshole to people….I'm too angry….."

>Still holding herself back somewhat, Phoebe goes silent before saying:

"…..I've kept this act up for too long. I don't know if I still can, Lisa."


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>Lisa brings one of her hands out of the hug, and moves aside Phoebe's hat, patting her on the head.

"There there. . ."

>Lisa wipes one of Phoebe's tears away.

"You're being too hard on yourself, ok?"


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>Trying to get herself together, Phoebe then slowly nods, stating:

"….I think I'm just…..trying to let go of the anger."

>Staring to feel herself slowly regaining her composure, she then states:

"You probably remember what I told you about the Hoyokazis? What their previous head did to my dad?"

>Silent, she then turns and walks back towards her side of the table - taking a seat across the table from Lisa once more.

>Crossing her arms as she looks away - her sunglasses hides her still watery eyes as she states:

"I got angry at Aiden, and I just….blew up on him - emotionally. I wasn't thinking straight. I just…"

>Sighing once more, as she then says:

"….I was just afraid. I was worried that Aiden was just going to make the same mistake again. I know what he said about Hiyuki but I just……"

>Looking back up at Lisa for a moment, Phoebe then slowly removes her sunglasses from her eyes - having cleared them of tears fully.

"…I just wanted to stop anything bad from happening. You could argue that I overstepped, obviously. But I just wanted to protect my family. My father, my sister and my brothers."


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"Pheebs. . ."

>Lisa sighs.

"You're allowed to get mad at things. . . even your brother. I mean. . ."

>Lisa thinks for a second, drumming her fingers.

". . .it's like Edward the Grump from Castor Close. You know, the little grumpy guy who lives in a bin?"

"The creators put him in the show because they wanted to make it clear that it's ok to feel bad."

>Lisa reaches across the table, flicking off a bit of cream from Phoebe's sundae with her finger and putting it in her mouth.

"Like you. You weren't wrong to get angry, you were worried about your family, right?"

"Just it shouldn't control you."

>Lisa shrugs.

"Or something anyway, I'm not the best at philosophy stuff."

"It might be a good idea to talk it out with your brother though."


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>Phoebe nods slowly and sighs again before stating:

"….Yeah, I was an idiot. I should know better, and I didn't control my emotions…."

>Looking down at her sundae, she twirls it again with her fingers as she then says:

"…..And to think that I was always the one protecting him - being the responsible one. I guess for once he taught me something."

>Turning her attention back up towards Lisa, Phoebe then says:

"….Thank you, Lisa. I'm lucky I have you."

>Silent for a moment, she then asks:

"….You want anything to eat? I'll pay for your tab. My treat."

>Phoebe says, with a more jubilant expression now on her face, as she starts eating her sundae.


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"You don't have to always protect your brothers, you know, they're their own people too."

>Lisa smiles as Phoebe begins eating again.

"Thanks for the offer Pheebs, but I'm fine, Dad cooked me a big breakfast - and a big lunch. And I'm sure he'll have a big tea when I get back."


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>Laughing for a few moments, Phoebe then gives an exasperated, but happy sigh. Putting her sundae down, she then says:

"Fair enough, Lisa. I'll still pay for your tab the next time you want to go out to a restaurant to eat."

>Lightly scratching the side of her cheek, she then says:

"Hey. You've been away for a while. I should've asked this earlier. Are you doing alright?"

>Phoebe then says, before continuing to eat her sundae.

"I mean, you've been gone for a while - so I assume that something came up there."


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"Only for a few days, Pheebs, I go back home to the UK every now and then still. It's still home. . ."

>Lisa taps her finger again, going off on another trail of thought.

"I'm fine though, you don't need to worry about me."


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>Nodding, Phoebe then continues eating her sundae. After a few more bites, she then finishes eating before stating:

"Well, I'll apologize to Aiden later. Right now, he's busy finishing up the paperwork for a joint venture partnership with…..you guessed it - Hoyokazi Industries."

>Giving a somewhat skeptical look, Phoebe then states:

"I know I shouldn't be critical of this. So I'll take your advice and trust in my brother's judgment."

>Narrowing her eyes somewhat, Phoebe then states:

"…..Are you sure that you're OK Lisa? Nothing's happened? I know I'm paranoid - but I just want to know that I'm being a good friend. If not? Then that's fine."

>Putting her sunglasses back on, Phoebe then looks at Lisa and asks:

"…..I'm just starting to realize that I may have scared you off from a few guys that you would've been interested in. I remember a few of them just….stepping back once they saw me."

>Putting a hand to her forehead, Phoebe hides her sunglasses in embarrassment.

"…..Including Aiden. Sorry about that."


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"You're being a good friend Pheebs, don't worry about it."

>Lisa waves off Phoebe's concerns.

"And don't worry about that either. . ."

>Lisa sighs.

"If I'm being honest, I'm not a big fan of your brother, his style is too. . . aggressive for my preferences."


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>Phoebe gives a resigned expression, stating:

"….Yeah that's because of me. I can admit that much. I used to push Aiden so much as kids - I think he finally got sick of it."

>Pressing her hand to her waist, she then says:

"….This right here…"

>Initially using her superhuman vision to ensure that no one can hear her; Phoebe then uses her superhuman sight to confirm her initial readings of the restaurant.

"….He got me good here last night."

>Immediately recognizing Lisa's expression, Phoebe holds up her hand to clarify:

"….After I punched him through the roof. The one at the family home - not Archeon. Like I said, I was too angry and emotional."

>Lowering her hand, she then sighs again, stating:

"….But he was still able to stagger me. No one's ever done that before. Or rather, no one's ever been strong enough to do so."

>Silent for a moment, Phoebe then elaborates:

"…..He also called me out on my bullshit about needing to feel tough in front of people - like you. I admit I just want people to take me seriously."

>Looking at her dessert one more time, Phoebe concludes:

"But he stood up for himself - and against me, nonetheless. First time he's ever had the stones to do that. So I'm proud of him. Even if I may have led him to become too…..headstrong - for your tastes."

>Giving a sheepish smile, Phoebe then says:

"I'm guessing Jonah's too dorky for you by comparison?"

>In her mind, Phoebe thinks:

{"Please say yes. Us being sisters-in-law is something I will never be prepared for."}


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"Not too dorky. . . but I don't see him that way, it would be weird to look at someone I helped teach like that."

>Lisa looks around the table, then switches topic.

"I don't need any food, but I will take a drink if you're buying them - no coffee though."


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>Phoebe then internally sighs at the response.

{"Oh thank Christ, I couldn't handle my emotions if she actually liked them that way. I like Lisa more without the awkwardness of potentially being sisters."}

>Glaring at Lisa with a half judgmental and half amused look on her face, Phoebe then says:

"What do you have against coffee? It's half the reason your scientists can operate at 8 AM in the morning."

>Still giving a sheepish smile, Phoebe then waits a moment to then knock loudly on her table - making a very loud noise.

>As the waitress begins to walk towards them, Phoebe then asks Lisa:

"What do you want specifically? They've got tea or water if you want. Not sure about unhealthy, processed sugary drinks with high fructose corn syrup. Remember that? How dangerous and borderline carcinogenic it is? It'd be a terrible shame to stuff all of that down your throat as a beverage, wouldn't it now?"

>Phoebe says, with an amused look on her face.

{"Don't take the bait strawberry….."}


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"It doesn't taste nice."

>Lisa responds bluntly.

"And I can work without coffee, the Lab Experiment works much better than any coffee would."

>Lisa reaches out to a menu on the table, and looks through it.

"I'll take a milkshake, a strawberry one."


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>Phoebe relays her own order to the waittress:

"Decaf. The usual."

>Nodding and smiling, the waitress then walks away with their orders.

"Great, thanks."

>Turning back towards Lisa, Phoebe then says:

"Yeah well, not all of your scientists are built like you - if you get what I mean there. At least, I would imagine that they're not."

>Thinking to herself for a moment, Phoebe then says:

"Oh right, that reminds me. Yesterday when Aiden got the material - one of Archeon's shareholders showed up. The Frasier guy. Guess he finally came out of his hole in the ground to get some food."

>Scratching the back of her neck slightly, Phoebe then states:

"Something about him seems off."

>Phoebe, knowing full well who Virgil is, instead decides to clue Lisa in.

"…Like he's not from around here - despite living in the U.S."

>Silent for a moment, she then sighs and shrugs, stating:

"Anyways, how's Valkyrie doing so far? Funding's not drying up I hope?"

>Phoebe says, waiting for her decaffeinated beverage to arrive.


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"Danielle's a better one to ask about that, she's the one who handles that kind of thing."

>Lisa puts the menu down.

"She's not panicking though, so I guess it's not, the governments of the world like our work, I suppose."

>Lisa shrugs.

"That's not all we can ask for with our work, but it's the best for making sure it doesn't stop for now at least, so long as we want to maintain our principles and keep private donations out of the picture."


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>Phoebe then sighs again.

"Bah, you're no fun. Denying my dreams of being a ruthless and unforgiving Capitalist."

>Tapping her cheek in boredom for a moment, she then states:

"You know that the city's government offers sponsorships and grants for publicly funded programs right? I know you applied for licensure and operational clearance here - but you could also get a sponsorship and more grant funding from the city if you file an application."

>Looking through her phone, she then says:

"I could text Aiden about it right now, along with the apology that I owe him."

>Looking back at Lisa, she the states:

"I know scientific research is important, especially to you. Believe me, Jonah won't shut up about something involving Chronon Field Dispersion. No idea what that is. Anyways, I know this stuff is important to you - so I want to do everything that I can to make sure that you're getting the resources that you need."

>Phoebe gives Lisa a thumbs up gesture as she concludes.

"You deserve that much support at the very least - after what you've done for me too."


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"We could, but. . ."

>Lisa taps the table.

"That's for Danielle to look over, not me."

>Lisa taps the table again.

"Besides, we're not looking to tie ourselves to Sanctuary, we only came here to build the accelerator, and sponsorship would come with more commitments to the city than we're looking for. At the end of the day, Valkyrie is meant to be international, Sanctuary is just another place we have a lab - even if it's our biggest currently."


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>Phoebe makes an "aww" motion, pretending to pout for a moment as she says:

"Here I thought I could trick you into staying here with me forever….."

>Internally, Phoebe thinks to herself:

{"….What am I saying? Phoebe, stop being stupid. You know she's not into-"}

>Shaking herself out of her thoughts with her focus, she then says:

"Well. When we're done, is there anything you have to do? Or are you heading back to the Great Britanian Empire?"

>Phoebe says, as the waitress returns with their drinks.

"Thank you."

>Handing the strawberry shake to Lisa, Phoebe then hands the waitress a large wad of cash. The waitress looks surprised as Phoebe says:

"Just a good tip from me. Thanks for being fast with our orders."

>Nodding, the waitress then leaves as Phoebe looks back at Lisa - stating:

"I could drive you around the city - although I know that's an anemic pace compared to your usual jog, so to speak. Or we could see a movie or something? I heard they're trying to make a blockbuster inspired by Hyperia and Speedrunner. If you can believe that."

>Slowly sipping her decaf beverage, Phoebe then finishes and concludes.

"I heard they were calling it 'Hyperia & Speedrunner: Planet's Finest" or something like that. Not sure why Hyperia got the top billing when Speedrunner's so much better than her either."

>Phoebe takes another sip of her decaf, eyeing Lisa behind her sunglasses and watching her expression as well.


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"It's alphabetical, it sounds better in most cases."

>Lisa takes a sip of her milkshake, using a straw.

"I won't have enough time to watch a movie though, I'll have to get back before it's over. Dad'll be wondering where I am, he worries. . ."

>Lisa takes another sip.

"I had to go into hospital when I was young, they thought I was going to die, and then D-. . ."

>Lisa stops herself, taking a big sip.

"It doesn't matter, but he worries, mum does too, but he worries more than she does."


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>Nodding, Phoebe then says:

"Yeah…I can understand. Even though she wasn't there most of the time, my mom still always worried herself sick over me and my brothers. Also my sister. Parents are just like that honestly."

>Now taking a bigger chunk of her beverage, Phoebe then states:

"Hey, we can't go watch a movie, but I can drive you around a bit if you want. Before you've got to get back at least."

>Looking at her phone, she then gets a text message back from Aiden, right as she speaks.


>Staring carefully at the text, Phoebe then reads it for a fraction of a second with her superhuman cognitive abilities. Just after finishing, she then looks at Lisa and states:

"Aiden just responded. He accepted my apology - and he says that he's finalizing the deal with Hoyokazi Industries. I'm guessing he's going to have to talk to Hiyuki then."

>Feeling her face instinctively morph into an expression of concern, she then sighs again and recollects herself. Fighting against her decades of instinctual responses - Phoebe then puts on a smile for Lisa and then says:

"I think it'll turn out fine. As you said, I should put some more faith into him there."

>Putting her phone away in her coat pocket, Phoebe then states:

"So….You ready for a drive out of here when we're done?"


File: 1681075806294.jpg (326.34 KB, 800x800, 0f2b2aac38bff9f304015daf3e….jpg)

"Driving's so boring though, the cars go sooooo slow. . ."

>Lisa sighs.

"Yeah though. . . I'll go. . ."

>Lisa picks up her milkshake and downs it in one, wiping her mouth with her sleeve.


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>Location: Sanctuary City - Downtown
>Time: 9:00 AM

>As Phoebe's hands slowly move over the steering wheel of the muscle car, she effortlessly flips the wheel with two motions. The black and red muscle car then nearest the closest turn, as Phoebe continues driving.

"Sorry about the tacky car choice. This is Aiden's car, not mine. As you can see, he doesn't have much in the way of taste."

>Phoebe says, gesturing at Lisa to look around the interior of the car. While well designed and full of high grade leather - the car lacks any distinct personality. There are no books or CDs or any other identifying materials slightly out of place, or hidden away. The environment of the car itself is very sterile.

>The muscle car then finds itself moving through traffic at a leisurely pace, usually staying in the outermost right lane.

"Must be weird seeing a car wheel on the left side, huh? I know that's not too common in Europe."

>Phoebe continues talking to Lisa, as the car goes onto the inter-city highway network; a series of large, interconnected roads that tower above the lower levels of the city.

"…..You know, you don't have to accompany me….but I'm going to go to Archeon. Help finish up the final drafts for the proposed agreement. Aiden may be handling this, but it's my company too."

>Looking at Lisa for a moment, Phoebe then says:

"Where do you want to go for now though? I can drop you off where you need to be, right before you have to go back to the UK."

>Phoebe then looks ahead again, focusing on the road as she drives carefully.


File: 1681154488361.png (885.45 KB, 800x1140, 31d94bd53835b04cbf53a9dc3c….png)

"Pheebs. . ."

>Lisa looks left at her friend.

"I live in the US most of the time, and most TV where cars appear is American, left-hand steering isn't weird to me. . ."

>Lisa pokes the leather of the seat behind her.

"Is Aiden. . . you know. . . small. . ? Because this is that kind of car. . ."

>Lisa pulls her finger way, watching how the leather reacts.

"I don't have anywhere I need to go as well, besides home - afterwards."


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>Phoebe is silent for a moment, before then immediately bursting out into laughter.

"Oh my God! I thought I was the only one!"

>Sighing as she stops laughing, Phoebe then wipes a tear from her eye - barely controlling her humored response.

"If you're asking me if I think that he's compensating for something? The answer is 'yes'. But again - that's probably because I was so imposing for most of our childhoods."

>Phoebe looks back at the road, starting to reminisce for a moment - before remembering Lisa's other statements.

"Also the car wheel statement was a joke, Lisa. It'd be concerning if you didn't know."

>Maintaining the car's position on the road, Phoebe then says:

"Are you sure there's nowhere you need to go? Nothing you need to do?"

>Phoebe keeps track of the oncoming exits for the highway system - nearing the exit to the Business Sector of the city.

"Because if not, I need to get over to Archeon and start advising them. They should be working on the final drafts, right around now - and Aiden's probably getting ready to send Hoyokazi the final offer too."

>Feeling her expression darken slightly, Phoebe then closes her eyes and breathes in, before exhaling. Opening her eyes, she then says:

"I'll be honest with you Lisa? I still don't trust Hoyokazi. But I'll take your advice, and put some trust in my little brother."

>Recognizing Lisa's expression from the periphery of her vision, she says:

"As far as I'm concerned, I'm his big sister."


File: 1681155940576.jpg (179.4 KB, 500x707, 4f4f4b1f4c135c1ac5ba6b7333….jpg)

"No Pheebs, there's nothing I need to do."

>Lisa closes her eyes for a second.

"Also I'm pretty sure that not trusting a Japanese person because of things their mother did is racism. . . or something."

>Lisa thinks for a second.

"Probably not racism, but it's still similar."

>Lisa shrugs.

"It's not like I know her or anything like that, I don't talk to many rich Japanese businesswomen, or businesspeople at all for that matter. But, like, feels like you're deciding who she is based on a stereotype."


File: 1681156332796-0.jpg (120.33 KB, 1000x1740, Phoebe - 15.jpg)

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>Narrowing her eyes for a moment, Phoebe begins driving the car towards the upcoming exit of the highway. As the car begins exiting the larger highway, Phoebe puts both of her hands on the steering wheel as she aligns herself with the nearest left turn.

>Once the car brakes and waits for the traffic light to turn green, she turns towards Lisa, annoyed.

"You're actually pulling the racism card with this? When have I ever said that Hiyuki's identity was my issue with her? It's her mother and everything her family did to my own."

>As the traffic light turns green, Phoebe begins driving the car once more. Now turning onto the outermost lane during the left turn, Phoebe continues driving the car as she speaks:

"Seriously. If there was an actual issue that I had with all of Japan, I wouldn't do business there with my own company."

>Phoebe continues driving, reflexively making a hairpin turn onto the nearest street - now driving towards the Business Sector of the city.

"It's not stereotyping because I don't focus on Hiyuki's cultural identity. It's the choices that the Hoyokazis made, which made me skeptical of them and only them."


File: 1681156593571.jpg (98.59 KB, 519x714, c0c0c64224348c630beda003d1….jpg)

"Pheebs. . . that's still prejudice. . ."

>Lisa sighs.

"Like, I get that your family has history with some of them, but you're still passing judgement on a whole group of people because of the actions of some of them."

"It doesn't need to be based around their culture or anything for that, Pheebs."

>Lisa looks out the window.

"Also I said that it's probably not racism."


File: 1681156974728-0.jpg (423.42 KB, 623x807, Phoebe - 7.jpg)

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>Phoebe reflexively grinds her teeth at the remarks before sighing. Still looking ahead as she drives, Phoebe then says to Lisa:

"I understand what you're saying, but I think I'm being pretty practical here."

>Feeling her knuckles stiffen as her grip around the steering wheel strengthens, Phoebe then says:

"Katsumi Hoyokazi basically ruined my childhood before I was even born. From what Kira tells me, she's the reason why our mom went into hiding."

>As she turns another corner, she then says:

"As far as I'm concerned? She took my entire life from me. The life I could've had with a mother who could've raised me. Who could've been there for me. But I'm supposed to just let go of that? Like it's water under the bridge?"

>Phoebe slowly increases the car's speed, her emotions starting to take hold.

"No, that's complete bullshit. I don't have anything against the Hoyokazis as a whole - because I'm pretty sure that they all didn't choose to go along with that. But I can at least blame Katsumi for what she did. Her actions and no one else's."

>Slowly down the car's speed as she regains her composure, Phoebe then sighs again as she says:

"…..Though I'll admit. Hiyuki doesn't deserve my ire. At least as long as she's nothing like her mother. But if she is?"

>Phoebe then looks at Lisa, stating:

"If she actually is? Then I'm not making the same mistake twice, Lisa. Sometimes when people show you who they are - you believe them."

>Phoebe turns her eyes back to the road, focusing on her driving once more.


File: 1681157282760.jpg (98.59 KB, 519x714, c0c0c64224348c630beda003d1….jpg)

"Pheebs, you say that, but you said you don't trust them a minute ago."

>Lisa keeps on staring out of the window.

"I get it hurts, but you can't just look at people that way, ok?"


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>Phoebe sighs once again as she then says:

"…..I was talking about Hiyuki and Katsumi. But sure, 'mom'. I'll give Hiyuki the benefit of the doubt. Because that's what good people do."

>Getting towards the entrance to the Business Sector, Phoebe grows silent for a few minutes. Afterwards, she finally asks:

"I always wondered what you saw in me that made you interested enough to be my friend. You say you don't talk to rich businesswomen much - or businesswomen for that matter."

>Now driving the car more slowly as it approaches the entrance to the Archeon Complex, Phoebe then asks Lisa:

"…..So why me? What exactly makes me any different from Andrea or….."

>Remembering a certain blonde similar to herself, Phoebe groans and rolls her eyes.

"……Other prominent public figures?"

>Phoebe then drives up to the executive parking area of the Archeon Complex, finally bringing the car to a stop. Parking it, she then takes out the keys and looks over at Lisa for a response.


File: 1681158324928.jpg (165.59 KB, 540x540, c17dd6436b5473624e5084da03….jpg)

"I'm not exactly famous, Pheebs, it's not like I talk to public figures that often. Hell. . ."

>Lisa leans back in her chair for a second.

"I haven't won a noble prize for my work, not like Dr Andrea Stewart or Dr Bethany Micheaux de Floret. I've only ever published a few works, none of them are groundbreaking either, and Valkyrie is Danielle's work, not mine, not really. My mum's more noted than me, even."

"So you don't need to worry on that front."

>Lisa gives Phoebe a small smile.

"And if you can't tell why, I'm not going to tell you, that's for you to work out."


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>Giving an exasperated sigh, Phoebe feels her cheeks turning red as she says:

"Yeah well, it's not because of my wondrous presentation. It's definitely not because of my demeanor, either."

>Looking away for a moment, Phoebe then says:

"Alright. I'll go check up on what the legal team's doing with the business agreement for a few minutes. After that, I can go get you something before you have to go back home."

>Looking around for a moment, Phoebe then states:

"…..Actually. Jonah might want to ask you about something. I'll let him know that you're here if that's alright."

>Phoebe looks down at her phone as she slowly gets out of the car, looking up Jonah in her contacts list to start texting him.


File: 1681158933562.jpg (3.33 MB, 1832x2269, 6e2ba2f2ad0e58ff377e994f41….jpg)

>Lisa thinks for a moment.

"That's ok."


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>Phoebe nods and sends Jonah the text message as she waves at Lisa and says:

"Be back in five, Lisa."

>Phoebe then begins walking up the steps to the lobby at the front of the complex. After about thirty seconds, the front doors open again, as Jonah walks outside. Looking around for a few moments, he then notices Lisa and waves at her with a friendly demeanor.

"Oh, hello Lisa!"

>Excitedly, Jonah jogs over to her as she stands by Aiden's car. After getting within a few meters, he then stops and says:

"Sorry about the sudden request. There's just one question I had."

>As he walks over to the other side of the car - making sure that only Lisa is within hearing distance of him, he then says:

"….I have a question about our abilities. Is there any way to fully suppress the energy that passively diffuses through our bodies?"

>As Jonah makes a gesture, he then states:

"Because it's about Aiden. A friend of ours detected that he's started to generate….."

>Thinking carefully, Jonah then considers his next few words, before sighing:

"…..Magical energy that emanates from him. According to our friend, if that magical energy collides with our own? The results could be disastrous. A microcosm of an antimatter discharge."

>Recognizing the severity of the situation that he's described, Jonah's face becomes serious for a moment.

"I almost had a close encounter with Aiden myself when I was handing him something during dinner last night. We both reacted in time, but we're worried about causing an issue if we ever miscalculate."

>Assuming a thinking position, Jonah doesn't pay attention to his wavy brown hair, as his hair bangs cover his eyes temporarily.

"I wonder if there's a way to fully suppress that energy. There has to be….."

>Jonah is then lost in thought.


File: 1681159687517.gif (832.87 KB, 500x620, tumblr_ndkbz9uLER1tc7u7qo1….gif)

"No Jonah, there isn't, not without being stripped of it entirely. I have that on good authority. So. . ."

>Lisa gives Jonah a grim look.

"It's either walk on eggshells with your brother all the time, or give it up, there's no other way."

"I'm sorry Jonah."


File: 1681160033185-0.png (284.91 KB, 1261x1331, Alt!Jonah - 10.png)

>Nodding, Jonah's face doesn't darken, but remains serious.

"That is unfortunate, but I understand. It'll have to be from Aiden's side then."

>As he continues to think, Jonah then has a realization. His face then lightens up as he then says:

"Oh! I think I may have a solution for him! That ring of his can develop technology……"

>As his brain continues to kick into overdrive, he then says to himself:

"A relay system with the ring's dimensional functions should work. It would require a lot of power, but Aiden isn't lacking in that…."

>Looking back up at Lisa, Jonah gives a nervous laugh as he rubs the back of his neck.

"Sorry about that, Lisa. I was just thinking out loud."

>Noticing her prior statements, Jonah then gives a worried look as he says:

"…..Are you alright? Did I speak out of turn with my statement? My apologies. I didn't mean to offend."

>Silent for a moment, he then states:

"If it's alright with you, I have another request. Could you train me further if you ever have free time?"

>Jonah says, looking at Lisa intently.


File: 1681160246427.png (885.45 KB, 800x1140, 31d94bd53835b04cbf53a9dc3c….png)

"I'm fine, Jonah, just don't like being the bearer of bad news."

>Lisa switches to her usual smile.

"If I have time, yes, just remember I'm not much of a teacher really."


File: 1681161016199-0.jpeg (545 KB, 827x1080, Alt!Jonah - 5.jpeg)

>Shaking his head immediately, Jonah then focuses his eyes on Lisa as he says:

"You're the reason I was able to stabilize myself after the accident. The Chronon Field Generator was leaking heavy amounts of radiation. I should've died that day. Or at the least, been significantly irradiated and damaged."

>Looking at the floor for a moment, Jonah's eyes narrow around his boots as he continues:

"I felt genuinely scared for the very first time - just in that moment. I'd never felt so…..panicked. So constricted and so certain of my own premature demise."

>Moving his gaze back up to Lisa, Jonah then gives her a warm smile with his eyes closed.

"But then you came along and helped me stabilize myself. I wouldn't be here without your help, Lisa. Nor would I have any control of my…..abilities."

>Looking at the car for a moment, he then states:

"…..Also thank you for the assistance with the chemical compression mechanisms in the ring. It took a few months, but I think I improved the efficiency of the polymer folding."

>Turning his attention back to Lisa, Jonah then states:

"Is there anything I need to do to prepare for more training? Work on some physical preparation? Acquire more carbohydrates in my diet? I noticed that our metabolisms have changed drastically."


File: 1681161340202.png (374.89 KB, 600x900, 487044e6c3844c0a27a55768e7….png)

"I would've done it for anyone. . . I still would, even, you don't need to thank me."

>Lisa shuffles awkwardly.

"And no, no need to do anything, you know I'm not that strict."


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>Jonah nods quickly at Lisa, before stating:

"Yes of course! Thank you Lisa! I hope I can be a fast learner!"

>Looking back up at the Archeon Complex for a moment, he then looks back at Lisa and says:

"Also, please notify Phoebe so that she can relay to me when you're ready for my training."

>Jonah then turns around and begins walking back towards the Archeon Complex entrance. Once he reaches the entrance again, he waves back at Lisa before walking inside the building.


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>After a few more minutes, two figures open the door to the Archeon Complex as they walk through.

"Like I said, Phoebe, I can handle this. Thanks for the suggestions, but legal's already writing up the final draft to send to Hoyokazi Industries."

>Aiden walks out of the entrance of the main Archeon Complex and towards the parking lot. Beside him, Phoebe walks at a similar pace - making gestures as she continues speaking.

"Oh come on Aiden! I could've written the entire draft in a minute!"

>Looking at Phoebe, Aiden replies:

"I know, Phoebe. You don't have to do that. I appreciate what you're trying to do here, but you really don't need to-"

>Looking at the black and red muscle car in the parking lot, Aiden does a double take as he then realizes who's standing next to it.

"….What's Lisa doing here? I thought she was out of town? Also why did you both take my car? You could've just….."

>Stopping himself from finishing that sentence, Aiden then sighs and thinks to himself:

{"…..Of course you could've. I guess that was too easy then."}

>Looking at Lisa, Aiden then says:

"I don't know if either Phoebe or Jonah told you - but I can't get much closer than this."

>Aiden closes his eyes as he scratches his right cheek for a few moments.

"…..Not that keeping a distance is even a problem."

>Aiden then opens his eyes and crosses his arms, looking somewhat annoyed as he waits for Lisa to reply.


File: 1681320553595-0.jpg (98.59 KB, 519x714, c0c0c64224348c630beda003d1….jpg)

"I mean, I could just notify you instead. . ."

>Lisa realises she's not talking to anyone anymore, and sighs.

"Kinda get how people feel when they thank me and I speed off now. . ."

>Bringing up her phone, Lisa sends a message to a contact labelled "🐧", and waits.

>Lisa brings her phone down as the two approach.

"I know you can't get much closer, dont worry, we weren't that close anyway."

>Lisa looks at Phoebe, then back to Aiden.

"Soooo. . . big deal with Hoyokazi Industries then?"


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>Aiden glances at Phoebe for a moment, then back at Lisa as he speaks first:

"Company needs to expand, and Hoyokazi Industries has a better footprint in Asian markets; mainly for commercial and enterprise products."

>Scratching the side of his right cheek slightly with his right index finger, Aiden continues:

"It seemed like the best approach to take. Either a joint venture or a licensing deal for technology. We also could benefit from their cloud computing optimizations on the software side - and maybe some infrastructure improvements on the hardware side."

>Looking back at Phoebe for a moment, Aiden states:

"Don't worry. R&D's already considering a backup just in case. Jonah's helping them with that as well. It's just to sweeten the deal."

>Raising an eyebrow, Phoebe then turns to Lisa and says:

"What Aiden isn't saying is that he feels embarrassed about his latest meeting with Hiyuki, and he's willing to spend tens of billions of dollars to impress her."

>Giving Phoebe a blank stare, Aiden speaks to Phoebe:

"This again? Phoebe, there's not a better potential partner for expansion besides Hoyokazi. I've already shown you the report and I've ran the numbers. Capital expenditure is too high for the potential return if we do this out-of-pocket. Not to mention the regulatory issues we'd have to deal with if we went into Asian markets ourselves."

>Jonah then opens the front doors of the Archeon complex and begins walking out of the place. As he reaches Aiden and Phoebe, Jonah keeps his distance from Aiden as he says:

"Oh, Aiden I have an idea regarding the…."

>Aiden looks at Jonah for a moment, blinking. As he has a moment of clarity, he then states:

"Oh, right. Thanks Jonah. I'll look into that."

>Turning back to Lisa, Aiden then says:

"…..Anything else you need to know from us?"

>Side-eying Phoebe, Aiden then states:

"…..Besides how my sister doesn't bother using her own car to drive around?"

>Phoebe scoffs.

"Maybe if you had actual class like most people with your net worth showcase - this wouldn't offend you so much."


File: 1681321903730.jpg (98.59 KB, 519x714, c0c0c64224348c630beda003d1….jpg)

"I was just making small talk. . ."

>Lisa rubs her eyes in annoyance.

"Even if we don't get along that well, Aiden, I'm not trying to be you're enemy, I'm not some kind of spy for your sister. You don't need to be on the offensive every time I talk to you."

"She wasn't trying to undermine you or anything by telling me, it just came up, ok?"


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>Aiden blinks again, confused at Lisa.

"…..What? Sorry, I think I miscommunicated there, Lisa."

>Pointing his thumb in a sideways fashion towards Phoebe to his left, Aiden clarifies:

"Phoebe always finds a reason to take my car out for a drive, even when she's made it clear that she thinks my taste in cars is terrible."

>Looking at Phoebe, Aiden then says:

"If that's not spite, then I don't know what is. Then again, this is coming from the person who locked be inside of a broom closet when I was six as a prank."

>Phoebe shrugs as she replies:

"You got out of there in two minutes with a makeshift lockpick that you made out of a coat hanger. Archeon's being run by a bonafide genius as far as I'm concerned."

>Jonah remains silent, only giving Lisa a nervous smile and wave, as he can't find any other way to break the tension.

"Even when you're trying to be nice, there's a backhanded nature to it. Almost as if it pains you to be related to me."

>Phoebe gives an amused sound as she states:

"Oh that pain is chronic, Aiden. You're a physician right? Can you confirm that diagnosis for me too?"

>Looking back at Lisa, Aiden then says:

"….Do you believe me now? She's always been like this - and only towards me. Literally everyone else she shows patience, kindness and respect towards. But not me."


File: 1681322557220.png (750.37 KB, 1078x1523, 96c203d7863f25897a0fef5031….png)

>Lisa sighs.

"I'm not taking sides in your siblings' feud, Aiden."

>Lisa checks her phone as it buzzes.

"That's not my area to comment."


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>Shaking his head, Aiden says:

"If there's nothing left, then I've got a multi-trillion dollar corporation to run."

>Aiden turns around and moves to walk away, as Phoebe goes around to the car's left door. As she opens it, she then says to Aiden:

"Hey, if you get this done? I'm not gonna complain. Just make sure this is actually in the best interests of the company!"

>Jonah then looks at Lisa as Phoebe gets into the driver's seat of the car. Sighing, he then says to Lisa:

"I am sorry about the behavior of my brother and my sister. Phoebe is….very confrontational, but it stems from good intentions. She likes pressing people on their convictions - ensuring that they are genuine."

>Looking back at his brother as he enters the building again, Jonah then says:

"As for Aiden? He has been through a considerable amount of trauma currently. I am not certain if Phoebe indulged with the details but…"

>Narrowing his eyes as a blatant expression of disgust forms on his face.

"…..There are some people who have developed the capacity for true cruelty - some of which I am ashamed to say that I have a blood relation to. Aiden and Phoebe have now had the same experience, obviously."

>Now turning to face Lisa, Jonah keeps his serious expression as he states:

"He'll likely keep his distance from you physically, for obvious reasons. But if he's also emotionally distant? Please do not presuppose malice. He just does not know what to do currently."


File: 1681324102431.jpg (249.71 KB, 600x600, 524d48b53533f3b770a3d87cea….jpg)

"Jonah. . ."

>Lisa sighs and smiles.

"You're a good egg, don't let anyone tell you otherwise, ok?"

>Pulling on the door handle, Lisa opens it, heading into the car.

"I'll be in touch when I'm available."

>Sitting down in the car, Lisa closes the door and blows out some air, slumping down slightly.

"Your siblings can be exhausting to handle, even in small bursts."


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>Phoebe scoffs as she then says:

"Yeah well, my brothers are tougher now because of my masterful teaching."

>Turning on the engine of the car, Phoebe waves to Jonah for a moment before turning to Lisa, stating:

"I don't have much else that I need to do. Well, besides deciding on the final designs for Eros's next fashion show. You interested in seeing the designs or…."

>Phoebe then blinks before saying:

"Oh right. Too feminine."

>As she begins backing the car up and away from the parking lot, Phoebe then asks Lisa:

"Ready to get back home then? I'm sure your dad's waiting for you."

>The car then begins driving off into the larger network of roads and buildings; making its way towards the Sanctuary City intercity highway.

[The End]

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