Arc I: The 22nd Century Cowboy

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A/N: Hello! Thank you for reading so far! The next few stories will be part of the same arc. I'm going to do a few arcs from time to time, but I'll keep doing standalone stories too! I'll always mark when it's an arc too, so it won't be confusing. Thanks a ton! :)

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ARC I PART I: The 22nd Century Cowboy

Butterfly Corps Headquarters
Neo Seoul, Mars
October 2127

On a sleepy street in the heart of Edinburgh, there lies a tea house that has been in business for over 100 years, despite the sign on the door always proclaiming it closed. Veer could see the sign clearly in his mind, though it had been ages since he had stepped foot inside that quaint Scottish shop. He'd give anything to be there right now. Instead, he was in a cramped elevator, rapidly approaching the solitary confinement cells.

Why did he have to be the one to release Atticus? And why did he have to do it with 4D Lee? The thought of being in such close proximity to the two most annoying people in the world at the same time made him cringe. Just for good measure, Veer glared at Lee Jae-wook, who was carrying the bounty hunter's gambler hat. Its brim had been nicked by a bullet.

"Why did you bring that?" Veer asked.

"Though he might be happy to see it," Lee said. "Though it might clash with his prison uniform. Hmm."

Veer sighed. The elevator doors dilated open, and he pushed forward, leaving Lee to follow. As they neared the cell, Veer took off his scarf and tucked it in his coat; no need for a repeat of last time, when Atticus had jokingly pulled it tightly around his throat. Veer didn't find it funny.

"I brought you something too," Lee added. Seeing that he had peaked Veer's interest, he produced a piece of paper from his coat and handed it to him. Veer unfolded and scowled. "This is just a blurry photo of a juice box," he said.

"I didn't think it would be smart to bring it with me," Lee said. "I put the real thing on your desk." When Veer didn't respond, he added, "It's orange juice, to make up for the cup of yours that I drank."

"Thanks," Veer mumbled, shoving the paper into his pocket.

Upon reaching the far wall, Lee pressed a few keys on a nearby control board. Veer watched as the opaque forcefield dissolved in front of him. From the other side, he could hear the gentle plucking of guitar strings. Atticus lay propped up in his cot, eyes closed and a classical guitar in his hands. His fingers slipped, and he clicked his tongue in disapproval. "I can't seem to get the hang of this new hand," he mused, inspecting his cybernetic hand. His Southern drawl somehow seemed thicker than before. "I don't think it's quite compatible with my arm." He switched to his other hand and played the same piece perfectly, at an increased tempo, before flashing a half grin in Veer's direction. "Of course, you know how it is, sir." He nodded towards Veer's metallic right hand.

"No, I wouldn't," Veer said, folding his hands behind his back. "I've only got the one hand- thanks to you. You're what- 64% machine now?"

"Still more of a man that you'll ever be, sir," Atticus teased, his grin only widening. He rubbed his face, tracing the edge of an old scar that ran from one corner of his hairline to the opposite edge of his jaw. The bounty hunter's eyes flicked towards his hat in Lee's hands.

"Ah, how I've missed you!" he exclaimed, taking it from Lee and inspecting it closely before pulling it over his fluffy hair. "Lee, you don't look so well. I reckon that you've been forgettin' to take your painkillers."

Veer shot Atticus a wary glance, but Lee just scratched his temple. "I need to refill it," he said.

Atticus stood up, slowly strolling towards Veer and Lee- not that there was much room for strolling in the compact cell. "You poor, poor man. It's cruel that they would make you drag yourself down here when you clearly need to rest. Here, you take my cot for a minute and rest." Lee, in his typical dazed fashion, started to move toward the cot.

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