Raccoon Dog Hunt

rating: +7+x

Edward didn’t like talking to people. At least not having a one-on-one, in person sorta talk. He didn’t use to be this way, of course; it may seem like a lie looking at him now, but he used to be the life of every party. Most parties, anyway. At some point in his life, he turned away from all that and focused on what really mattered: Being an annoying prick online and crafting the social equivalent of mail pipe bombs for cheap laughs and the like.

Objectively speaking, it wasn’t a positive life change. His slowly decaying body, propelled by a rather poor diet and even worse sleeping schedule was living proof of it. He enjoyed it, though. While he didn’t have an issue before, it was so much easier to speak with people through the monitor screen, rather than by standing right by them. It was easier to find people who were into the same shit than you as well. Not that he gave too much thought to it, but anomalous hacktivism wasn’t exactly a popular hobby. Barely even a niche one. But there were people out there with the same interests. People who actually looked up to him, even.

Of course, everything has its pros and cons. Sure, the guys over at GAW were cool, but it was his third year either at home, with a piece of metal attached to his ankle which would beep whenever he dared step within a mile of a hardware store… Or running away from the authorities, like he had been up til now.

Gamers against Weed… Yeah, the name was good, and the people were chill, but they weren’t gonna pull something to free him from jail. Jail, which he thought he could escape by traveling around the globe, but all his plans finally came crashing down in Tokyo, Japan.

”Why Japan?”

Well, that was the million dollars question, no? Edward stared back at the man sitting across him, some poor sap dressed in clothes more akin to cosplay than to an actual law enforcer. Not the weirdest attire he’d seen at his time behind Foundation bars. The place in Philly had some really odd weirdos.

“Wanted to visit Akiba. Is that so wrong?” Edward replied, making a smirk that was meant to be of smugness, or defiance, but ended up not looking like anything. The cop gave him a glance, before continuing.

“Well, it’s a beautiful place.” The cop muttered, inclined towards Edward, his hands intertwining. “The maid cafes, the arcades, it’s a pretty touristic place… Of course, you were there for the electric district, no?”

Silence. He wasn’t gonna answer this bastard’s questions. He knew protocol didn’t apply to these psychos, but he wasn’t gonna make their job any easier if possible.

The cop continued, rifling through papers he had on hand. “You’re not supposed to get anywhere near electronics stores.”

“I’m not supposed to be anywhere outside America.” Edward replied, smirking. Sure, he just said he wouldn’t answer his questions, but the rule had a few ‘buts’: If you get to be an ass about it, then surely they could be bent a bit.

The cop sighed, rubbing his temples. “Alright, fuck it. Change of plans.”

Here comes the torture, Edward thought, but the cop’s next actions surprised him: The man let his shoulders drop, assuming a more relaxed posture, before continuing.

“So here’s the thing: SCiP’s Database considers you a wanted criminal. Something about ‘hacking into machinery through anomalous means’ which… I dunno what that exactly entails. Feels like someone who has never touched a computer wrote this.” The cop muttered, dropping the papers so that Edward could see. He gave the papers with all his personal information and ‘crimes against humanity’ no more than a glance: This had to be some sort of psychological trick, and if so, he wasn’t falling for it.

“Point is, we’re dealing with a lot more problems than some kid who modded his Super Famicom so that it can realistically kill people on the screen, or hacked into a bank’s database so that he can send Bernie Sanders memes that give you diarrhea.”

“The Sanders memes and the diarrhea memes were two different shitposts, actually.” Edward felt the need to clarify. The cop sighed.

“Point is, we don’t have the time nor the resources to go after a wannabe technomancer.”

“Wannabe?!” Ok, now that pissed him off. “If you wanna insult me, at least use an actual fucking term, and not those D&D names you sociopaths love so much.”

“Well, you don’t really have a profession to go by. Never finished your studies.” The cop muttered, collecting the papers to give them another cursory glance.

“Didn’t really need them, now, did I?” Another smug smirk.

“You didn’t, no. It’s impressive how much you’ve done without any proper formal education, anomalous or otherwise. People like you don’t make it this far.” The cop admitted.

“And now you’re praising me?” Edward raised an eyebrow. Had a bad feeling about this one.

“I’ll get straight to the point, mister Nguyen.” — First time Edward’s been addressed as a ‘mister’. Huh. — “We don’t have the time to deal with people like you, because we don’t have people like you among our ranks.”

A pause. Edward wasn’t sure how to respond to that, but he still did the best he could. “S-sorry?”

“I’ll introduce myself.” The cop muttered, taking off his cap. He had bright yellow eyes. “I’m this place’s Head of Security, and I am giving you a job opportunity.”

He still couldn’t grasp this change of events. “Wait, w-why?”

“Well, you see mister Nguyen, the truth of the matter is that we have a protocol to follow, and the protocol says we have to return you to the Americas, where you’ll be prosecuted, and most likely, be properly contained in a facility just like this one. Your days of enjoying ready meals in front of the TV with nothing but an ankle tracker to worry about are over, mister.” The head of security explained, placing his hands on the table. “You’ll be put in a low-security prison, which by Foundational standards isn’t low-security at all. It’s also not fair. Staff do not exactly treat people like you ‘fairly’ or ‘humanely’ so… I don’t think you have a bright future, or one at all now.”

“Are- Are you threatening me?”

“I am being honest with you, Edward.” The man sighed. “You fucked up. You didn’t just run away from us, you escaped the country you were limited to, and used anomalous means to do so, possibly endangering normalcy on your way here to… To what, start a new life? Just come visit?”

Edward bit his lip. He needed to regain control. “… Does it matter, mister?”

“… No, no it doesn’t. What does matter is the second option. You see, mister Nguyen, we at this site do things a little different from other places.” The head of security began explaining. “For one, we don’t really believe people like you deserve to rot in jail. We can’t afford to have people like you rot in jail. Thus, the job proposition.”

Silence reigned again. Edward didn’t know what to respond; he did not like any of the options here, but it was clear that he would have to choose to work for these pigs. Having strings attached to his arms and legs, unable to have full control of his life was something he was used to, thanks to his years under Foundational surveillance, so working for them wouldn’t exactly be much different. The idea of working for the bastards terrorizing his friends though… Now that he wasn’t a fan of.

But did he really have any other choice? What was he supposed to do? Take a bullet for the team, and ‘rot in jail’, like the cop in front of him described?

“I know this feels like entrapment. That’s because it is. However, trust me that I am and will be as fair as I’m allowed to regarding this job.” The man added. “You will have a salary, and you will have quarters to live in. You will have access to security rooms and laboratories and computer rooms, and most facilities regular personnel are allowed to step into. You will have your own ID badge, and it will have the security clearance of that of people who’ve studied years to get to learn the same things you naturally stumbled upon, and just as naturally mastered.”

“Stop buttering me up.”

“I am not. We wouldn’t be hunting you down if you weren’t good at what you do.” The man reclined on his chair, done with the ‘buttering up’. “So? What do you say? Do you want to go back to living in a cell, except now it’s smaller and stricter, or do you want to become part of my security team?”

‘What do you say?’ The fuck did he think he was gonna say? Oh yeah, I would love to be humiliated by your organization even more than before. What a lovely thing that would be!

Edward got up from his seat, making the head of security raise an eyebrow, wondering what would happen next. Gritting his teeth, Edward held the white table with both hands, and finally responded:

“When do I start?”

The head of security smiled, getting up as well, before stretching out a gloved hand for a handshake.

“As soon as possible.” He grinned, and Edward could see his canines, sharp like a wolf’s, his attitude changing to a more casual one. He had Edward by the balls, and they both knew it.

Edward didn’t want to, but he returned the handshake, staring at the cop with a mix of contempt and defeat. He had made a deal with the Devil. A devil in the shape of a cop wearing gaudy clothes, an image so strong he could almost see the tail wagging behind the guy.

It would take Edward a couple more minutes to realize that the head of security did, in fact, have a tail.


“Hertz? Really? That was your ‘hacker’ name?”

“Your name is literally Outis, the fuck are you judging me for?”

“Whatever, man…”

The security officer in charge walked away, leaving Edward to attend to his own devices. In this case, the ‘devices’ in question were eight pairs of machinery, some sort of apparatus that allowed for the conversion of free thaumic energy into fake snow pellets, to be put for winter at every indoor garden in the site. Apparently they were for the sake of ‘environmentally aesthetic value’, which made no sense to him. What he did understand was the demonic circuitry used to make the nonsensical make physical, tangible sense. He had used this kind of stuff back home for his attacks against general normalcy, but this was grade-A stuff; of course the Foundation would have better stuff than the kind he would find on his own, or with the help of the GAW people. And of course they would waste it using it on fake snow, him being the handyman for this all.

Still, GAW… Wonder how they were all doing… Had anyone wondered where he’d been all this time? It had been a week and a half since he’d been captured by the Foundation, and even longer since he’d decided to flee the country he had been born and raised in.

“Hey, buddy, how you doing?”

His thoughts on his previous friends were interrupted by a pat on the back, given to him by a woman in her late 30s, sporting a grin that proudly showed off a couple chipped teeth, dirty blonde hair covering half her face, wearing a ‘cop’ outfit that almost seemed like cosplay.

This was the head of security. The same person who had gotten him this job, or rather, forced him into it.

Turns out they were a shapeshifter.

“I’m fine.” Edward muttered, trying not to get distracted. He wasn’t used to people pestering him while he tinkered. These past few days had been really, really hard to adjust to. Not that he would admit it, of course. “Don’t you have anything better to do?”

“Well, buddy, you’re still on probation.” An arm wraps around his shoulder. Still not a fan. Made him feel weird. “Gotta make sure you aren’t sending our secrets to your friends over at GAW, or to the Russians, or, I dunno, some doomsday cult.”

Edward rolled his eyes, connecting two circuit boards through a pact that was quickly resolved by an IRS (The I stands for ‘infernal’) representative seventy million years in the past. Fifth machine done; fifteen to go. “Not like I can contact anyone outside of here.”

“I’m sure you could if you try hard enough.” The head of security chuckled, letting go of Edward. “I don’t think I should be saying that. I get yelled at enough as is… Don’t need to add onto all that.”

The head of security slumped against a wall, materializing a can of beer in their hands. They began drinking from it, as if it was real. Edward knew that it was no more than an illusion, brought into ‘reality’ in the same manner they were able to turn into anyone they wished to.

“Life’s so hard sometimes…” They lamented. Edward put his tools down.

“Are you done? Have a lot on my hands right now.”

“Well, look at mister busy bee over here. Who’d believe a week ago you almost got deported back to uhh… Where was it that you were-”

“Philly. Least that’s the last place I’d been grounded to.” Edward muttered, using a rag to clean his hands off the sulfuric ash that sticks to you when working with demonic components.

“Right.” The head of security nodded, pretending to know where Philly was, and that Philly wasn’t the actual name of the place. “You threw a tantrum on induction day, and yet look at you now!~”

“Yeah, well… What can I say?…” And he meant that. The fuck could he say? He’d sold his soul to the Foundation, of all places, and he regretted it less and less as time went on. It wasn’t a good place, of that he was sure, and some of his peers looked at him with disdain, but there was something exhilarating about being envied. He and them had the same rank, and yet he had come from a place they would consider a slum, no? A pariah, a criminal, and now he stood along those who had studied decades, those who’d cannibalized each other just to stand where he was by being no more than a fugitive. It was in knowing this that he’d found peace in his position. He didn’t need much to survive, but if there was one thing he required to keep going, it was spite.

Of course, that was not all. He hated to admit it, but things had improved for him. Things had improved a lot. He had been eating properly at least three times a day because actual food was served here. When was the last time he’d eaten something that hadn’t come out of a plastic container, that didn’t need to be microwaved, or that he hadn’t ordered through Uber?

And when it came down to the people here…

Another pat on the back. “For real. How are you holding up?”

Tch. “You know, just because you’re my ‘parole officer’ or whatever role you’re meant to be, that doesn’t mean you have to like, care about me.”

“I’m no parole officer, but I am the one looking after you, and I do care about you.” The head of security explained, Edward remaining silent. They sighed. “I know, I know, easy to say something you would want to hear.” — He didn’t want to hear this. He really didn’t. — “But it’s the truth. You have two guards and an artificial construct making sure you’re not building a bomb or leaking information. I don’t ‘officially’ need to be here and check up on you, make sure you’re ok, see if you need anything and all o’ that.”

“Why do you care, then?” Edward asked. This annoyed him, and not only because they were interrupting his work (Which was one of the things he enjoyed the most here, as long as he didn’t think of it as his job.) but also because it didn’t make any sense, so it couldn’t be real. He wasn’t a fan of fake people, like most people.

“Well…” Silence. It was weird for the head of security to not know what to say about something. They always seem to be able to babble and babble about anything and everything. They were oddly quiet now, something Edward wasn’t used to, but wasn’t surprised about either. Again, he’d known them for less than a month.

“Well?” He pushed.

“Do I really need a reason to?” The head of security finally replied, hands on their hips. “You’re fun to talk to, and, well, you don’t really talk to anyone else here so I worry. It’s just…” A hand to their blonde hair, scratching their scalp, allowing Edward to notice the nondescript animal ears they usually hid under either a hat or under lots of hair. “I care because I care. Again, do I really need a reason to wanna be around?”

“… I guess you don’t…”

So was it pity, then? Is that it? Edward would have faced them again, kept on with the talk, but now a knot had formed in his throat. Care, huh… He still didn’t believe it. It still made no sense, none at all, but he could feel the platitudes moving, ever so slightly.

God, he was really desperate for any kind of connection, huh? He wished he could laugh at how sad this had all become.

“Still, I have free time. A lot of it. You could bother me when I’m not trying to fix the shit you’ve told me to fix?”

“Oh. Oh yeah, that’d make a lot of sense, huh.”

Maybe the head of security was just an idiot. Yeah, that was probably it. It would make a lot of things make sense. Not all, of course, but most of it.

… And maybe he was an idiot too. Something deep inside his chest told him so.


Edward sat at a bench, drinking what appeared to be turpentine. He’d been told it was ‘one cup sake’, which was the Japanese answer to what’s the cheapest drink one could possibly manufacture. He didn’t like it, but it helped fade away at the right speed; not too slow as with normal drinks, and not too fast as with strong zero, and without the splitting headaches. He needed to work in the morn; he wasn’t gonna drink that citrus death everyone here loved so much.

It wasn’t long before the head of security arrived, sitting next to him, a can of beer in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other. “Hey.”

“Hey.” Edward wasn’t even gonna attempt to shoo them away. That ship had sailed a while ago. He’d live with this raccoon-tailed tapeworm for the time being.

“You know, the indoor gardens are pretty nice at night, but it’s damn cold here. Why don’t we go back to the party?” The Head of Security asked him, taking a sip. Edward sighed. Compulsory events sucked, and they sucked even more when he hated everyone there. Their gaze hadn’t changed: He was a prisoner in all ways but in title.

“I’m used to the cold.” That was such a cringe line, fuck. It was true, though. Winter in Philly was awfully cold.

“Yeah, and people get used to pain and cruelty. That doesn’t make it good.” The head of security was quick to pass the coffee to Edward, who looked at it, before turning to his ‘nanny’. “Take it.”

“… Thanks.” The words left his mouth like he was being strangled for them. As soon as he took the cup, the sake cup was taken off his hands. Before he could protest or emote in any manner, the head of security downed the thing in one go.

“Ugh, this cheap stuff is so bad…”


“We’re getting an inspection tomorrow. I’m not having you drunk for that.” They immediately followed that by downing the drink they themselves had brought. “I can be though. The hell are they gonna do, fire me?”

“You should be the one having someone look after them.” Edward chuckled at the idea, following it with a better idea: Drinking some of the coffee.

“They woulda given up a long time ago.” The head of security chuckled, scratching the back of their head, their sporadic grey hairs shining against the cheap halogen lighting of the garden. “I’m a bit of a pain in the ass, if you haven’t noticed.”

“No way, really?…” Another sip of the coffee. Alright, yeah, this was the good stuff. Perfect for tonight.

“That’s what my many enemies would like you to believe, anyway.” And with a lame line and a roll of the eyes, the two fell into silence. Snowflakes generated by the machines Edward had fixed (And improved, but who cared about that, right?) covered the dimly lit fake sky, simulating winter pretty well. Well, he thought so anyway. He hadn’t been here long enough to really know what winter in Japan was like.

Did you know that a confession under the falling snow is a literary trope? Edward didn’t, but his previous crush used to mention stuff like that. She was part of GAW, another free spirit like himself, who enjoyed tinkering with electronics to bring their full potential. A person so different from himself, that he couldn’t help but feel a sting whenever she spoke, and something warm inside himself whenever something excited her. Her happiness incited his.

They say love through a screen isn’t as strong as in person, but they don’t tell you a rejection through the screen hurts just as much.

… Where was he going with this? Why was he thinking about this now?

“You reminded me of myself, when I was younger…” The head of security muttered briefly, staring at the opposite end of the room.

“Hm?” But he knew why he was thinking it. There was no avoiding it now.

“You asked me why I cared so much, and, uh, yeah, it’s just… When I was young, I too was given a loaded choice, to either die, or join this place.” They laughed, but neither of the two found their words funny. “And, well, back then I had no one by my side to guide me. No one to care. So I just… I dunno. It wouldn’t have been fair to either you or myself had I not been there to make sure you weren’t…”

The head of security trailed off, lost in their own thoughts, unsure if they should be voiced. A better man would push for an answer, to find out whether the trust put unto him was real, or merely the head’s selfish desires, a reaction to seeing themselves reflected in Edward's eyes.

A better man wouldn’t have fallen in love with an officer of the organization that ruined his life.

“I’m…” Choose your words carefully. “I’m not someone who likes to talk about what’s really on my mind, but uh… I’m grateful. I’m glad you took the time to make sure I didn’t — I don’t know, shiv a guard, hang myself using my shoelaces. Whatever.”

“You’re not the type to do any of that. I read your report, remember?” A smile. That damn smile. The kind that could belong to anyone, men or women, man or beast. The kind of smile that, no matter what the body looked like, would always belong to a single person. “You’re better than that.”

He was. He knew this. It was still nice to hear. “Am I, now?” But could he fish for more?

“What’s gotten into you? By this point you’re a nautical mile away from lil old me. Not fishing for compliments like we’re a sappy couple.” And this was why he didn’t try things he wasn’t familiar with; he gets caught. He could feel the warmth of his own blood flow accelerate. The vessels around his face dilated. It was weird to feel hotter than the coffee he’d been drinking.

“Whatever…” Utter defeat. He could not reply in any way that didn’t incriminate him further. And if this was his reaction to mere teasing…

“Come on, I’m just messing with you. 冗談, 冗談~” A poke to the cheek only made the blush worse. He wasn’t sober enough for this.

Silence reigned again, as head of security wondered if they had pushed a tad too far this time, and Edward wondered if 冗談 meant ‘joke’, the language lessons melting away with the liquor. Finally, the former slapped their knees, tossing the beer and the sake containers into the appropriate bins.

The Head of Security turned to Edward. “Ready to return, Edwin? People are gonna get worried.”

“Worried about you, yeah.” Edward scoffed, trying not to think too hard about the nickname. “Bet that asshole from Research’ll think I killed you.”

“Come on. It’ll at least be warmer than here. You can stand by a corner or something, no?” The head of security grabbed Edward’s hand, trying to get him off his seat. Edward instead grabbed their hand, stopping them in their tracks.

“How… How about we just stay here?” Edward bit his lip. That was a move of desperation, not of logic. His past self would have beaten him to shit for that one.

“Hm?” The head of security tilts their head, staring at Edward. The reflection upon his eyes told a different story.

“I just-” Think. “I just wanna enjoy the weather, as fake as it is. We both know the party sucks so… Can’t we stay like this just a bit longer?”

Edward couldn’t put into words what he saw in the Head of Security’s eyes, but they quickly sat down again.

“Alright, but just a bit longer. Would suck if we turn up to work tomorrow not only drunk but also sick.” They laughed.

“Yeah, that would suck…” Edward muttered under his breath, trying to calm down his nerves, not an easy task as the two were still holding hands, the head of security not letting go of him just yet. Thank god trembling could be attributed to the cold.

“… You sure you don’t wanna go in, get another warm drink?” The head of security asked, holding Edward’s hand in front of the two, pointing to the trembling. He shook his head. “Alright…”

The halogen lights flickered, and as the fake snow kept on falling, Edward couldn’t help but relish the moment. It was wrong. It felt wrong, but it didn’t matter. Right now, it all felt warm. That’s all that mattered.

They say a confession under the falling snow is a narrative trope. He could see why now. He turned to the head of security again. Would he?

Should he?

… No, not today. Not yet.

He wasn’t ready, and something told him they weren’t either. Dejection hurts. It hurt a lot before, and this one would hurt so much more, he thought.

He was fine with how things were now, and he would enjoy it. Fucking up would come later. He had tinkered with the snow machines, he knew how much time he had left for a proper try.

So he tightened his grip, reclined back onto the bench, and watched the snow fall.


This is a tale for Romcon, featuring my character, Head of Security, and TyumenTyumen's character, Edward Nguyen. For their take on the pairing, please refer to [TALE TO BE LINKED HERE]

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