Crys awoke in a strange bed, rather the worse for wear, and the dull ache of Mindfire aftermath throbbing in her head explained the second part. She didn't hear anyone breathing nearby, so she just raised her head and took her own deep breath of the smoky air. She didn't recognize the bedroom, but it was blacked out and deep enough in the rock only the IR channels of her cybered eyes were getting data, so that didn't mean much. It was the type of smoke that told her she was far from home. No hint of herbs or outdoor plants, instead it was of cloth and plastic and metal walls and electrical fires.

There was a lamp next to the bed, but it wasn't powered; neither was the door. An empty plant pot, one half-constructed wall, and the utter lack of anyone else's scent in the bedding completed the local picture: after the raid, she'd crashed in an unfinished bedroom. Unfortunately, the bigger picture wasn't nearly as rosy: she hadn't made it back from the raid. She was still in that squatter base thing, Muffhole or something.

Crys got out, and took the time to fold back the bedding at the foot of the bed before working the kinks out of her back. She'd slept in her raiding gear; chrome pauldrons, aramid duster, synth leathers, big stompy knee boots. She checked her charge rifle — she'd crashed with it still on her belt — then removed her boots, everted her socks, and put them back on. Her hair was all bent, so she tied it back with a cuffband(this is why she always carried two).

With the door unpowered, Crys used the wall to leave, and faced confirmation from the opposite wall, a long stretch of metal burned and pitted and beaten out of shape all over. Raided. She followed the distant light — and the smoke — down the wide hall, past more half-finished bedrooms. Another one actually had the bed built, but she'd apparently picked the one with the most walls.

Crys picked her way over the debris of the doors at the end of the hall, and into a room full of debris. It was big and square, and she paused for a moment to admire her raid team's handiwork. There was a pillar in the middle, but the rest was rubble of metal and plastic and electronics and machinery, a few squatter bodies by the bed, a nice skeleton of the shithole they'd carved out of the Raven Wolves's territory… except for one thing out of place. When she saw it and her heart leapt, she heard the warcry of a muffalo, answered by half a dozen others, chilling her blood in impressive counterpoint. But she had seen it: one of the bodies was covered in black aramids, and blood-warm. She hopped over and kicked debris aside, then turned him over. The setting sun's light was cutting across the burned-out opening where once had stood a front wall, but with normal eyes she could see him well enough. Howie — Howard Gardner — another Raven Wolf. She couldn't very well let him bleed out, so she bandaged him up with her multitool, and hauled him to one of the squatter beds. She was actually tucking him in when she heard a noise from down the hall.

Crys strode confidently down the hall, her charge rifle tracing a positive swagger and settling on any new sight lines for a bit. At the end of the beat-up metal wall on her left, and the partial bedrooms on her right, the rock continued for a bit to a rough end; the squatters had been digging more wide hallway here. It had the smell of fear, but not of death, so either there was one left or they'd done worse to each other before the raid. She missed it the first time, but on her way back she noticed a bit of heat, right where the rock met the last partial bedroom. She moved in steadily, brazenly, her gun in her left hand leading the way. As she rounded the corner, she saw a hole where the wall against the rock hadn't been finished… a hole full of heat and the stink of fear. She stopped in front of it, deciding how to do this, when a voice from the hole let out a whimper that drove searing cracks through her Mindfire-sensitized skull.

When the blinding whiteness faded, Crys had her gun in the hole, her finger on the trigger — but she'd just caught herself before giving the squatter a warning shot to the forehead. The charge rifle probably would've been really loud in the hole anyway. A fresh wave of fear washed over her nose, but she did note nothing stinkier. She moved her finger back to the trigger guard. "You picked the wrong time to do that. Do it again and I'll finish this job. Got it?"

She could hear him take a moment to steady his lip before speaking. "Got it."

She thumbed the safety back on and clicked her weapon back on her belt, before backing out to the hallway. "Now get out of that hole. You lived like a mole, you don't have to die like one."

She watched him clamber out, ready to quick-draw on him, but not expecting to have to. In the bit of light filtering down the hallway, he had a shirt that had once been white, and black pants, neither tough enough to handle this terrain properly. He tried to brush himself off, then gave up after a few passes. "Are you going to kill me?"

"Probably. You going to kill me?"

This was a test, but his reaction wasn't a pass or a fail. He backed up, smoothly raising his hands in a calming/negotiating gesture. "N-no, I don't…"

She looked him over again, this time hitting the right spots. He had a crappy little multitool on his belt, where his weapon should be, but the real kicker was a matter of shoes. Slick black things, good thermal insulation, sturdy enough to avoid crapping out despite losing all their luster from time spent squatting on this rock. "Oh." She whirled on her bootheel — nice scrape of metal on metal, but nevermind that — and stalked off toward Howie and the doors. "You're a bloody Liar."

He scurried behind her like a rat taught to heel. "I, I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean, but I assure you I've never killed before and I don't intend to start now, even with a raider."

She waved her left hand dismissively, intentionally keeping the gesture low and near her gun. "No, a con artist. Not just a liar, but a Liar, see."

"Oh. I was actually a businessman before landing on this forsaken rock, and I've mostly been a diplomat since…"

She giggled throatily. "Diplomats, and some businessmen, are also Liars, so there you go."

"That's quite a broad brush to —"

Her hand snapped up, pointing at Howie, tracking him as she passed. "He's a friend of mine. He should be on the road to recovery, so this should be easy enough: I'm not going to execute you. Take care of him. He gets out of here under his own power, you live. He dies, you die messy. Got it?"

The squatter halted, looked back and forth between the two raiders, then sighed. "Got it."

Taking that as answer enough, she stomped over the doors. It really was a nice signpost wreck, but she hoped the muffalo finished killing each other before she got too hungry.

Crys was examining the wreckage of the NPD when the squatter came back out, looking reasonably pleased with himself. "Your friend is doing fine, but he'll need food before he wakes, so that's my next priority." He thrust out a hand toward her. "I'm Dunn, by the way. Ian Dunn."

She was in a good mood, actually, with the Mindfire aftermath having faded, and the lovely colors of the last of the sunset painting the burned-out warning sign around her, so she shook his hand in the spirit it was intended. "Crys. Crystal Van Driel. Some of the berry bushes out there are edible, should be plenty for all three of us. If those shaggy shit machines don't finish each other off soon I'll shoot the survivors and we can make a meal of them both."

"Well, Van Driel —"

"Crys." She bared her teeth at him, but there was still enough of her good mood to leave a smile underneath. "And I'm guessing you want to be called by your family's name instead of your own."

"…Right, Crys, sorry. Yes. Right. However, we don't have power for the cook stove right now. I could rebuild the power conduits, or put together another stove next to the one remaining solar panel, but since you're a raider I doubt you'd be okay with that. What do you suggest?