Chapter 4

"You sure took your time."

As the workers brought in his equipment, Nolitz turned to see a beautiful pink and white fox glaring at him with her arms crossed. He recognized her as one of the Marallang twins he met when he first came to the Underground Nightclub.

He scratched the back of his neck in embarrassment. "Yeah, sorry about that. I lost track of time while talking with a friend."

She waved her arm dismissively. "It's fine. You're new to Troika, so I'm letting it slide, but you need to be here really early next time."

"Thank you, uh...?"

"Digo," she answered. "I'm Digo."

"Got it." Nolitz looked around the club. "So, where do I put my-"

"Follow me," Digo replied, heading down a small set of stairs towards the right side of the club with Nolitz and the workers following.

Even though he had been to this club before, Nolitz couldn't help but look around at what it contained.

Right near the steps by the entrance, there were small pools for strippers to lie in along with some fermentae bottles to attract onlookers. Near the bottom of the stairs, there was a dance floor that was surrounded by many tables. There was also the main stage that came with a holographic waterfall.

Nolitz noticed several strippers were exercising on the main stage. The waterfall opened up to reveal another stripper that looked identical to Digo, except the colors of her fur were inverted.

He was mesmerized by her erotic yet fluid movements. When she noticed him staring, she stuck out her tongue and winked. Nolitz turned away in embarrassment as the blood rushed to his cheeks. He could not deny that the Marallang twins were among the most beautiful women he had ever met.

He noticed Digo smirking at him with her hands on her hips.

"I see Indi is getting ready for tonight," he commented, unable to come up with an excuse.

"Yep, the two of us always prepare when it comes to performing," Digo added. "Luckily for you, you're currently getting help from the pretty one."

She turned around and continued on her way, now with a noticeable sway of her hips. Nolitz grew even more flustered. The twins knew that just like every other male, Nolitz hid his perversions deep down and loved teasing him.

Nolitz quickly shook off his thoughts and followed after Digo. Behind the stage were a few curtains that led to private rooms. To the left of those was the bar where he had met Digo which led to meeting Nainso.

He paused. Raz was sitting at the bar, talking to one of the bartenders. Nolitz had to get her alone. He needed answers.

"The DJ booth is up there," Digo's voice snatched Nolitz from his thoughts.

He followed her gaze and saw a booth that sat a few feet above some private sitting areas. He also noticed a torn, upside down CCA banner draped across it. They approached a door beneath it and went inside, walking up a set of stairs toward the station.

"Here we are," she said, gesturing around the booth as they entered. "Sorry if it's a little small."

Nolitz waved his arm dismissively before turning to assist the workers carrying his equipment. "It's fine. As long as I'm able to perform."

"So you can handle things from here?"

Nolitz nodded as he helped a worker carrying a stereo. "Yeah. Just let me set everything up I should be ready to go."

"Alright, I'll leave you to it," she responded, waiting for the rest of the workers to come up before heading back down the stairs. "Let me know if you need anything."

"Will do," Nolitz called after her as he and the worker set the stereo down.

After paying the workers for bringing his equipment, Nolitz spent the next hour setting everything up. When he finished, he checked the time. He had an hour left before the club opened, and he wasn't going to waste it.

Nolitz made his way downstairs. Keeping his eyes on Raz, he made his way over to the bar. She turned to face him when he was within eyesight.

"Hey, Nolitz!" She grinned, getting up from her seat. "How are you doing?"

Nolitz smiled. "I'm doing good. Just finished setting up my equipment."

Raz paused. "Wait. You're working here?"

"Uh, yes?"

Nolitz watched as Raz's eyes lit up in glee. He couldn't help but chuckle as she looked like a kid in a candy store. He quickly shook off his thoughts. He needed to focus.

"There's something I wanted to talk about with you if that's okay?"

Raz calmed down. "Sure. What is it?"

Nolitz looked around. He didn't want anyone, especially the twins, to eavesdrop on their conversation.

"Is it okay if we talk somewhere private?" He gestured towards the private rooms.

Raz looked to where he was pointing and grew flustered. "W-we just met. Don't you think that's a little sudden?"

It took Nolitz a few seconds to realize what she meant. "No! Th-that's not what I meant!" He responded, looking away as he grew flustered in turn. "I just want the two of us to talk in private."

"Oh," she smiled, letting out a sigh of relief. "Alright then."

Nolitz checked to see if anyone was watching them before they entered one of the rooms.

The lights bathed the room in a pink glow. Gold sculptures of male and female Dreamkeepers in erotic positions lined the wall. Nolitz was surprised by the number of cushions and pillows littering the floor. Looking up, he grew nervous when he saw the glass ceiling.

"You don't have to worry about the ceiling," Raz spoke to him. She was currently gathering multiple cushions to make a small pile. "There's nothing above these rooms, so the only way for anyone to see is by walking in."

"That's a relief."

"So," she sat down on her cushion pile and turned to him. "What are we talking about?"

Nolitz reached into his pocket, pulling out the thumb drive and held it up for her to see.

The tension in the room was thick; one could almost hear a pin drop. Raz adopted a nervous look as they stared at each other.

Nolitz spoke with a calm but stern tone. "Explain. Now."

Raz looked down, her eyes darting around as she tried to figure out what to say. She let out a sigh, sat up and looked at him with serious eyes.

"You deserved to see it. It belongs to you."

Nolitz was perplexed. "What do you mean I deserved to see it?"

Raz looked away uncomfortably. Nolitz sat down against the wall near her.

"Raz. I need to know."

Raz turned back. "After his discovery of the Nightmares, your grandfather needed someone he could trust, and as chance would have it an associate of his was a member of Cosaint. His research gave them a huge advantage when dealing with the OSF. Out of respect, your grandfather's associate made Cosaint promise never to involve your family as a way to keep you all safe."

She paused to allow Nolitz to absorb the information. He was angry that Cosaint kept the truth from his family, but he was also grateful for their protection.

"I remember when I saw the news of your grandfather's death," she continued. "My parents, like everyone else, didn't believe your claims about the Nightmare. I didn't know what to think myself, but I couldn't help but feel bad for you."

Nolitz slightly frowned as he sat down against the wall. It wasn't that he didn't appreciate her condolences, but it seemed odd Raz would give him the thumb drive just because she felt bad for him.

Raz looked as if she was reliving old memories. "Do you remember when you became DJ L0ckd0wn? Your first album was great."

Nolitz was caught off guard by the question. "Thanks?"

Looking back, he remembered the positive reception his first album got when it was released. He never expected to gain so much popularity because of it.

"I used to listen to your music whenever I felt down," Raz continued, drawing Nolitz from his thoughts. "It helped me through a lot of rainy days."

"Not that I don't like reliving memories, but why are you bringing that up?" Nolitz asked.

"Well, while I did believe you deserved to know the truth, I also felt obligated to return the favor for cheering me up," Raz explained.

"Ah."

Things grew quiet after that, with neither Raz nor Nolitz knowing what to say. Nolitz was grateful that Raz was honest with him, but now everything seemed anti-climatic.

"Well," he spoke, "this is awkward."

"Yeah," Raz agreed, looking off to the side. "So, what do we do now?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know, honestly, but I do have one last question."

She looked back at him. "What's that?"

"Do you know what's on this drive?"

She nodded. "Yeah, everyone who's part of Cosaint does."

Nolitz froze as he processed the information. "Everyone?"

"Every member is tasked with studying certain entries as part of their training." Raz acted like it was the most obvious thing in the world. "I did tell you that research was important to Cosaint."

She pointed at the thumb drive. "You did look through that right?"

"Well, ye-"

"Wait. Do you not know how to decipher it?"

"I do, my grandpa-"

A slow looked of realization came across her face. "Oh, I'm such an idiot!"

Nolitz tried to get her attention. "Raz, I-"

He was surprised when Raz facepalmed before standing up and pacing.

"I should've just gone ahead and deciphered it. Make it easier for you."

"Uh..."

She rubbed her eyes. "Why didn't I realize that before?"

Nolitz stood up. "Raz..."

"I mean, it makes sense that your grandfather had to keep it all secret..."

Okay, this is getting annoying, he thought. "Raz."

"Just handing all that information over to you without..."

"Raz!" Nolitz grabbed Raz by the back of her shoulder and turned her around to face him. "I know how to decipher it!"

She blinked several times in surprise. "You do?"

He nodded. "Yes. My grandfather taught me. So you don't have to beat yourself up, alright?"

Raz closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Okay."

It was then the two realized their faces were just inches from each other. Nolitz lost himself staring at her golden, reptilian eyes. He saw her cheeks redden with each passing second as he felt his glow red.

"Wow," the two turned to see Digo leaning against the entrance with a sly smile. "The first day on the job and you've already managed to charm Raz. No está mal Nolitz."

Nolitz and Raz quickly separated, both of their faces flushed. Nolitz swiftly stashed the thumb drive into his pocket so Digo couldn't see it.

"We were just, um..." Raz tried to explain the situation.

Digo held up her hand. "Hey, if you guys have something going on, far be it from me to judge. But you better get to your stations quick, 'cause we're about to open."

"Nolitz nodded. "Right, got it."

Digo rolled her eyes and shook her head still smiling as she left while Nolitz and Raz waited for their faces to cool down.

"We... can talk some more about this later," Nolitz suggested, avoiding eye contact.

"Yeah," Raz copied Nolitz's movements. "Sounds good."

With that, the two made their way to their respective places, still trying to avoid eye contact.

As he climbed the stairs to the DJ booth, Nolitz couldn't help but smile. He found the answers he was looking for, and he was in a private room with an attractive girl. That was two victories in one day.

What else will this day bring? He thought as he entered the booth and put on his headphones.