"Do you want something to drink, or are you fine?" Daz asked as he brewed himself a cup of coffee from across the room in the kitchen part of the living room. Harriot watched him as she walking in and sat down awkwardly on one of the sofas.
"J-Juice please..." she answered hesitantly. 'He's really intimidating even though he's only two thirds my age... I'm so pathetic... Damn my rotten luck...'
"Any preferences on what type?" Daz asked.
His hands were moving like those of a skilled barista and he had clearly been making coffee for several years, whether as a hobby or professionally, Harriot didn't know. Afterall, she had yet to use her Lesser Identification on the man out of fear.
"Nothing cold, please. Anything is f-fine so long as it's warm or boiled..." Harriot said sheepishly.
Daz smiled. "Sensitive teeth?" he asked as he left his coffee to prepare a glass of boiled juice.
"Y-Yeah." Harriot didn't like to openly admit it, but in her youth, she had loved sweets and neglected her dental hygiene for far too long, resulting in very unhealthy teeth which she still had even now despite taking extra care of them for the past few years.
Daz quickly finished making the drinks and brought them over to the settee before he placed them both on the table. Harriot lightly picked up her mug of concentrated and boiled orange juice before sipping it carefully.
Daz took a mouthful of his coffee and nodded his head with content. "I used to make juice like that all the time for Rose."
"Rose?" Harriot asked. Crusher had told her and Edward a lot of stuff about Fort Skip, but they knew almost nothing about its people. So far, she had only met Crusher, Daz, Madison, and the man who escorted her here, Ger.
"My little sister," Daz responded with a warm look on his disfigured face. "She's only ten. A bright girl, though she has a terrible attitude most of the time. She used to love how sweet the juice would get once boiled. It was a cheap fix to keep her happy."
Harriot looked down into her mug at the yellow liquid gently swaying in motion with her trembling hands.
Daz reclined his head back and continued with a question, "Do you have any family, Harriot? Don't answer if it's hard for you. I know how rough this apocalypse has been on all of us, families in particular."
"... I have a brother... well, had a brother," Harriot answered with a saddened tone in her voice.
"I'm sorry. Was it the monsters?" Daz tried to be considerate.
Harriot smiled bitterly and shook her head. "I don't know if he's still alive or not. He disowned me a few years ago."
"I'm sorry to hear that, Harriot. My parents did the same thing to me and Rose. Me when I was six and Rose when she was just born. Funny how even in one of the most wealthy countries in the world, some people still can't understand what it means to be a family, huh?" Daz laughed a bit sarcastically.
Harriot didn't reply, but she nodded her head slightly and took another sip out of her mug.
"Well," Daz looked at her, "You're probably curious and nervous about why I asked to see you, right?" he added.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't," Harriot responded honestly.
"There's no big reason, really. I just want to let you know that you're welcome here and I wanted to preemptively offer you a role in our information gathering organisation, that is, whenever we make one of those, since you've got such a handy class and weapon," Daz said with sincerity in his voice.
"An information gathering organisation?" Harriot was even more confused now.
Why would he, the leader of a well-set-up base, and ruthless man, want to hire her, a woman who was essentially nothing more than a prisoner who happened to be captured alongside Edward, the real captive? She couldn't understand.
"Yeah, It's an idea I've had rolling around in my head for a few days now. Anyway, would you like that?" Daz confirmed.
"... Why?" Harriot was feeling very conflicted currently.
"Why what?" Daz continued as he finished his coffee.
Harriot took a second to gather her thoughts and courage before she said, "Why are you being nice to me when you said you'd kill me if I wasn't loyal enough only a few hours ago?"
"Ah, that," Daz smiled a bit wryly. His expressionless face had been showing various emotions both yesterday and today, but he ignored that and explained. "I said that only for Edward. Don't tell him I told you this, okay? I don't plan on killing either of you. I'm not an idiot and nor am I a psychopath."
Many would disagree with Daz's final statement there, but at the very least, Harriot found it comforting to hear Crusher's suspicions being reaffirmed by Daz's own words.
A short silence passed between the two until Daz chose to touch on the subject that he was most curious about. "Your broth-"
"T-Thank you for the juice, Lord Daz! I think I'll go back now. I don't want to keep Ger waiting outside for too long... it is really late, after all," Harriot interrupted.
"You're right," Daz sighed. "Make sure to not reveal any of this to Edward, okay? He's still a loose cannon. I trust you, Harriot."
The woman stopped in her tracks for a moment before she lightly nodded her head and left the cabin.
Daz picked up the two empty mugs and went back over to the kitchen area. He began washing them as he pondering over a few things. Once the mugs were ready to be dried, Daz turned towards the door that led further into the cabin and he said, "Want to come out now, Little Miss Sneaky?"
With a creak, the wooden door swung open and Rose rolled in on her automated wheelchair. "It was such a romantic mood, I didn't want to disturb you two," she claimed with a mischievous grin strewn across her face.
Daz ignored her rude and incorrect comment. "Shouldn't you be asleep?"
"I needed to talk to you," Rose replied in a serious tone.
Daz left the two mugs on a drying rack and walked back over to the sitting area. "Well," he got comfortable on a sofa before continuing, "what does my baby sister need from little old me?"
"I'm not a baby anymore," Rose pouted as she wheeled next to Daz and began typing on her laptop.
Daz smiled lovingly and he reached out to rub her hair. "You'll always be my baby sister, no matter how big or old you get, stupid."
Rose blushed slightly and left Daz's hand atop of her head. She waited for him to finish and remove it himself before she turned the screen of her computer towards her brother.
"What's this? It's all white... Is this a top-down view of Fort Skip? Why's it the wrong colour?" Daz asked with curiosity and mild concern in his tone. He knew that his sister wouldn't bother showing him something that meant nothing, after all.
"The difficulty of tomorrow's attack is supposed to be set to the second highest level, expert. The monsters themselves are only rated as normal." Rose had a very displeased and unsettling expression on her face.
"Why? That makes no sense," Daz pointed out.
"It's the white stuff! Apparently, Weather is being added as an additional adaptability factor to the attacks," Rose said with a click of her tongue before she turned the laptop back towards herself and resumed her typing.
"So the white layer over Fort Skip... snow? Fuck me. How much? I mean, if the difficulty has jumped by two whole levels, surely it'll be at least a foot of snow, hell, it might just start snowing heavily in the battle itself, crippling us since we don't know how to fight in extreme conditions..." Daz's mind was now endlessly projecting scenarios, and all he could predict was a situation even worse than the attack of the Automatons.
"We should have expected this," Rose claimed with anger in her voice. "How could we have been so stupid?! I mean, the system never once said that it would only be attacks that we would be facing! It was an adaptability test! I can't believe I ignored this simple and obvious detail..."
Rose seemed to be on the verge of crying and that tugged on Daz's heartstrings. "Stop it. It's not your fault. You always get so upset when you're wrong or make a mistake. You stupid girl," Daz teased with a smirk before he lightly flicked Rose's forehead.
The girl frowned and replied, "This is serious! I can't tell how long the snow will last. What if it stays around for the entire four-day cycle? That will make looting and exploring for wild events very difficult, not to mention if we can even survive the coming days thanks to the fucked up terrain."
Daz glared at his sister and smacked her on the head.
"Ow!" she winced in pain.
"Don't swear. It doesn't fit you. You're smart, so use your extensive vocabulary to express yourself," the Reaper ordered.
"Hypocrite," Rose mumbled.
"We'll be fine. I still have one hundred thousand merit points, ten-thousand base points and all of Crusher's merit points to work with. I'll think up something to fix this. Thanks for telling me, by the way. You just might have saved everyone's lives." Daz was somewhat stressed, but since he knew about it prior to the attack actually happening, he now had time to react.
Rose didn't look impressed and immediately willed her chair to roll away, leaving the room. Daz was sure that as she had exited into the hallway he could hear her mumbling, 'This is why you're stupid. You never show your feelings when it matters. What's the point of awakening only now if it doesn't have any impact?'
Daz reclined his head back onto the sofa and rubbed his forehead gently. "'Awakening', huh? I suspected as much, but Rose knows more than she's ever told me about our bloodlines... Why?"
Daz had speculated as such ever since she had held a private meeting with her birth mother without his or Madison's permission when she was seven. He had never probed her for information about it.
It wasn't like he didn't want to, no, on the contrary, he was dying from curiosity. The only issue was that he respected and loved Rose more than anything else on this planet. The only exception to this was Madison whom he cared for just as much as he did his sister.
Even if he knew that they were keeping information about who he was, about what he was, from him, he could only come to the conclusion that they had a reason to do as so.
"Sometimes I wish I could go back to before..." Daz whispered.
Reika slowly floated off of his head and hovered in front of Daz's face. 'Before? Before what? We are curious.'
"Before... things got so complicated. You've noticed, haven't you? I know you're not as much of an airhead as you act like," Daz explained.
'Your feelings? Yes, we noticed. But it does not matter. We are just happy that you accepted us and did not eat us,' Reika smiled sweetly and displayed her innocence to the young Reaper.
With a bitter look on his face, Daz sighed. "It must be nice being so single-minded. Emotions seem to make some things... harder than they once were."
'Surely that's a good change, no? We were under the impression that emotional shifts allowed evolutions. That is what you told us,' Reika said with as she held her chin in thought.
"Yeah, I suppose you're right," Daz agreed.
It was at that moment, that a large grey screen blocked Daz's vision. it was his long-awaited second evolution choice-sheet.
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