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The Anatomy of a Kite

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It is cold in Night City. Frost clings to the edges of glass windows, harsh wind sprints down thin alleyways, and the air is crisp to inhale. And yet somewhere, there is someone flying their single kite high above the building’s rooftops. Even in this jaded world, it seems that hope for the sake of hope remains.

 

Dapper Dasha can only see the kite’s wire outside her window, but she smiles at the sight. The mission today was a success. Dasha has always been under the assumption that things would eventually work out for her, in whatever strange way that the order of it came to be. She pulls her bathrobe closer around her shoulders, the deep red color contrasting against her pale skin and onyx hair. She makes her way to her kitchen and opens the freezer, where she takes a bottle of artificial rubinoff. She makes herself a glass of two shots and seltzer water and drinks. 

 

Dasha walks through her kitchen and into the living room. Her apartment is by no means large. The kitchen and bathroom are small, right next to each other, with only the bare essentials. The living room has a couch, a television, a tiny coffee table, a bookshelf, and a small table with two chairs. Her bedroom has a queen sized bed, a dresser, and a desk and computer. There are a total of four windows in the apartment, one in each room on the north and eastern sides of the building. 

 

Dasha sits in her couch with her drink cupped between two hands. She sighs and takes a drink. She turns on the television with her agent, and an old sepia-toned episode of Frasier is playing. Dasha turns off the television. Not now. She takes another sip, and before she can check her agent for anything interesting on the intranet, her doorbell rings. 

 

She stands up and takes a step towards her table where her jacket and guns are. Her hand is grabbing her pistol when a voice speaks from the other side of the door.

 

“Heya, I think ya might be freakin’ out right now, which is totally reasonable considerin’ the day you’ve had, well, we’ve had. But I want you t’  know that it’s just me; Good ol’ Burger Chainz, and--”

 

“Uhh, hey Dasha, it’s ya boi, Vang0 Bang0, comin’ in hot into your apartment because like, Burger Chainz is dumb or whatever.”

 

Dasha groans loudly hearing the two speak. Just the moment she tries to begin to take her mind off of the day; There they are. She opens the door with a drink in one hand and a pistol in the other, but she moves to the side to allow them in. Her frown pulls her face downwards into a gaunt expression.

 

Burger Chainz beams at Dasha. The cybernetic eye is dimmed right now, with a filter over it to make it look almost like a normal eye. Vango Bango was standing in front of Burger a moment ago, but as Dasha opens the door, he recoils back behind Burger. Vango throws his limbs into the classic vXb logo.  Burger lets himself in based on how Dasha is standing aside, and Vango follows suit.

 

“What exactly is it that you two need right now?” Dasha asks. “Take off your goddamned shoes, c’mon, really?” She stops them from stepping off of her welcome mat, and she points to her piles of shoes against the wall. They both listen to her and then make themselves comfortable on her couch before explaining anything. Dasha figures she may as well pour another shot into her half-full drink, before she joins them in the living room. “ Well ???” 

 

Burger rolls his shoulders, the tank sleeves of his denim vest falling down just the smallest bit. Dasha’s only worked with him a few times in the past, and today she’s watched him bash a man’s head in with the ferocity of a feral cybernetic hound. Yet despite these truths, she feels not an iota of fear as he makes himself comfortable in her couch, scratching the back of his neck. Dasha sips her drink, her guise of displeasure masking her curiosity. 

 

“Y’know, Dash,” He hits her name with a hard ‘A’, and she squints at that, “-- me an’ Vango were streamin’ Sixnite, and well, we wanted to instead come on by and hang out with ya. Now, I know that ya might be feelin’ incredulous about that, but with the way our night had been goin, it was pretty important to us that we come visit you. Vango was feelin’ pretty--” 

 

Vango had been sitting tensely next to Burger for the encounter thus far, his face slowly growing more and more red. But when Burger brought his name into the conversation, he curls his fists into their lap, and he speaks out suddenly.

 

“I fucking shot someone today, and I am not feeling fucking okay about it, alright?” 

 

Dasha blinks. 

 

“Aw, come on, Vango,” Burger tries to console. “Yer safe here, it’s okay.” 

 

“It’s fucking not , and if you keep on saying the, the, the same things, I’m gonna fucking flip .” Vango articulates, pounding his fists into the tops of his knees with more force each time. Vango looks up at Dasha and he frowns, his eyes filled with something she can’t quite place. “This is fucked up , right?”

 

Dasha pauses as Vango looks at her. She looks to Burger for but a moment, and in that moment, they share a thousand words between silence. 

 

Night City wasn’t always the place it stands now. Trauma Team isn’t the only megacorp that has sunk its teeth into the city and with the way things have been in the last few years, it most certainly is not the last. Burger Chainz and Dapper Dasha both understand that days like today are one of the few ways to survive another day without selling their souls. When so many preach the mantra of a dog eat dog world and a kill or be killed lifestyle, people like Hypo and Lucite are revolutionaries in upholding empathy and altruism. People like Burger and Dasha are the ones who protect that revolution, as clean as they can manage.

 

Dasha looks back to Vango, and it all clicks. This whole world is so new to him, and it must’ve been hard to come to grips with it in such short notice. Dasha notices how his fists tremble, how he’s fighting back tears. She notices how casually Burger has draped his arm across the back of her couch, how he leans into Vango and keeps glancing at Dasha but not saying anything. 

 

“It’s pretty fucked up when you think about it for too long.” Dasha won’t lie to him. She remembers her first job; She was tasked to get close to a hit for some information, and undoubtedly ensure that she wasn’t a target of any suspicion. She sobbed in her apartment all night afterwards. Rod visited and poured her a stiff one. “Get used to it, darlin’. This ain’t the last time you’ll be doin’ this.”

 

Burger exhales a breath he’d been holding, and he swallows. “Nobody died today, Hypo was so glad when we told him that, remember? We’re good people.”

 

Vango seems to have settled down just a bit, but his expression is still riddled with stress. “Yeah… Um, I think, I think that maybe I need some juice. Or a gamer snack.”

 

Burger smiles at Vango, and Dasha smiles too, albeit she has little idea on what a gamer snack is. She gestures towards her kitchen. “I’ve got Capri Sun, Doritos, and some artificial rubinoff?”

 

“First of all, Doritos are a great gamer snack. But would it be weird to chase a shot with Capri Sun?” Vango looks over towards the kitchen, and he glances at their companions. Dasha shakes her head with a fond smile, and she goes to the kitchen to grab a shot and a Capri Sun for Vango. She gets another set for Burger, not even bothering to ask if he does or doesn’t want to join. She grabs the bag of chips and sets it all down in front of them on her tiny coffee table.

 

They all take the shots (Dasha choosing to finish her drink), and she puts a hand on her hips as she looks at the two of them. It occurs to her that she wants them to stay. She sighs slow and low, and a smile pulls at her lips.

 

“If you two can scoot over a bit, I can set up a Jillsphere program to my television...” She’s trying to trail off to leave their timeline of staying up in the air. But Burger has something to say already.

 

“Aw, way ahead a you, Dash.” Burger says, and there’s a sly kind of look in his eye. He looks at Vango, as if they were working in tandem in their conversations. Vango then stands up to approach Dasha’s television. He interfaces with the tech and download Sixnite onto Dasha’s television. Vango pulls out a controller from their windbreaker’s pocket, and he starts to stream.

 

“Hey guys, it’s Vang0 Bang0 here, comin’ in hot with a new streaming of Sixnite. Let’s skip the formalities, gamers, and let’s go.” He opens the bag of Doritos and shoves a handful into his face before joining a server and immediately playing.

 

Dasha shares another look with Burger. There’s an unspoken agreement to this. The reasoning rings clearly through the room. 

 

For Vango.

 

Dasha sits down on the couch with them, enjoying their company for the night.