Original Content Bought and Sold Chapter 23, Arc 3

MyNameMeansBentNose

Active member
Writer
#1
Did you read Weeble's side story? Captain Rodgers is a fun character with some interesting concepts behind him. While he will only pop up occasionally, he is now officially canon. Who is Rodgers you ask? Check the link -> Here


-----
Previous | Beginning | Technology | Wiki | Next
-----
Chapter 23
-----​

“So turns out if ya look hard enough, there's other Humans 'round these parts.”

“Oh?” Otto responded as Daniel struck up the conversation.

“Yah, Atlanta was tryin’ to distract Mike 'an told us 'bout a Human called Strider,” Otto found himself smiling as Daniel continued his excited explanation while mangling the Kraltnin’s name. “Turns out this Strider guy’s a parkour dude from Earth.”

Otto hadn’t been to this little plaza yet, but apparently it was where they had initially found Tank’s new friend. It was a busy little plaza with lots of friendly vendors. He had found his vision drawn upwards. Maybe that is what sparked the conversation.

“Hunh,” Otto grunted. “This city is probly' a giant playground for the guy. Lots of close together buildings and somewhat lower gravity,” he mused. He could see plenty of balconies and walkways spanning the gaps with the occasional large transport tube blocking the most vision.

Yah, I was figurin’ as much,” Daniel agreed. “Too bad Atattles ain't got a clue where to find him.”

“Guess we'll just have watch the sk-, er, the the ceiling,” Otto mused. It would be interesting to meet local Humans if the chance came up.

“That Grey in disguise is a cheat!” Mike yelled from the washroom. “Don't let him sell ya any of his shit!”

Sitting comfortably in Otto’s arms, Matchka flicked her upper left ear. “All street vendors, cheats. Must haggle.”

“Yah well, I don't like it,” Mike responded as he left the public washroom, the false Prason hands flexing as he made sure the prosthetics were secure. “So any good marks around?”

They slowly exited the little alcove that led to the washrooms. The bustle of the area quickly drowned out any quiet speech.

“Yes,” confirmed Atlatal who'd been there the whole time. “That Vep right there enjoys their bribes far too much. It will not be hard to draw that one out.”

“Then that will be our target, let's go.”

-----
A Regular Day on Patrol
-----​

Tatapill clicked her beak in annoyance at the thick crowd impeding her way. It was moments like this that made her really want to take to her wings to avoid the traffic.

That was a difficult offense to obscure however. If she wanted to fly she would need a good reason.

Not that she was annoyed by the patrol in general. More officers enjoyed these public service jobs than not. It was good to see the people who they protected and mingle with the commoners.

She stopped at one of her favorite stands, a rare for the area Useaset lizard was turning a contraption with multiple spits holding barbequed meats. Wherever he’d found his source, it was pretty good. It was clearly mass made stuff, but his preparation disguised any blandness that often resulted from the use of cheap food makers.

“Nueltan!” she greeted, “How goes the day? Making good business today?”

“Ah, Tatapill,” The blue and purple lizard said with a friendly tone. He weathered the heat coming off his barbeque with comfortable ease. “Business is good today, and so is the lot, fancy a morsel?”

“Indeed I do!” Tatapill replied with a friendly click of her beak.

“A quiet day today, activity wise! Business is steady and we have a good stream of visitors…” Not limited by the usual constraints of having to breath in and then breath out, the lizard kept up a steady stream of words. “Not as busy as before the business with the Tail and the Body Jumper, but respectable enough...” As Nueltan spoke he unseated one of the spits and slid the chunk of meat off the slim pole with a thin slice of material. “As always?”

“As always.”

He flicked his tail with acknowledgement and took the offering to a side table to slather on some sauce and sprinkle a bit of spices. “So business aside, since the fighting has wandered away from this area people are starting to come back out of their hiding spots…” After slicing it into thin pieces he wrapped up the bundle with practiced ease and passed it over to Tatapill. “Fresh and hot, enjoy!”

She accepted the bundle with a nod. “Good business to you Nueltan.”

“You too Tatapill! Oh, hello! Are you interested...” he smoothly turned to the next customer to sell them on what he was offering.

She moved on quickly to avoid any further conversation. It was tiring chatting with someone who didn’t have to stop. She moved close to a closed stall to avoid the foot traffic. The pedestrians would generally make way for her, but as a smaller Veprutasian, the larger Ytheon and such would occasionally miss seeing her.

She watched traffic with one eye while using the other to see what she was doing. The crowd wasn’t unusual for the most part, mostly Veprutasians, Kashto and Ytheon moving about. She opened up the wrapped package, carefully picking out one of the steaming slices of meat. Holding it between her talons she lifted it up high and dropped it into her beak. She rolled the tender morsel around her mouth as the traffic continued to move. The Useaset knew what she liked, Veprutasians didn’t have teeth or the like, so he’d cut it thin for her.

A small party of Histen wandered by. Like most of the vagrant race they were a part of, these Histen looked scrawny, underfed and unhealthy. The long bodied, short limbed mammals wandered by, finally stopping at the stall she’d expected them to visit. Not many bothered to sell the fruit the Histen depended on. The happy Kashto they mildly resembled running the stall made business on having a niche good. The leading male rubbed the ridge starting on his head and running down his spine nervously.

Tatapill tossed a second piece up and snapped it out of the air. She had seen this group a few times. They were poor residents living near the gaps, but they were able to get by on sculptures and objects made of their unique… ‘solid’. They were stuck now however. The only way the poor got out of Karkantantar was to build up enough debt to get sold to someone on their way out. Not a very reliable path to get stuck on.

She continued on her way through the busy plaza, stopping to say hello to some of her preferred vendors. One was selling some glittering ribbons of cloth Tatapill hadn’t seen before. Another vendor she caught selling his selection of personal defense items, clubs, knives and other non-scanning objects decorated his table. Unfortunately, he hadn’t spotted her soon enough. Tatapill waited behind the current customer, a blue and white Kashto. The Kashto finished his business and moved on to reveal the White Kraltnin who immediately cringed upon seeing Tatapill waiting.

“It’s slow! Slow business!” he complained.

She placed her winghand on the counter and began tapping one talon, making a regular rhythm. He twitched slightly with every tap. Finally his tail slipped over the table holding a credit chit. With a smooth swipe she slotted it into a module on the waist strap of her harness. A display blipped up on her vision, shared through the link hidden under the feathers on her neck.

Tatapill nodded. “Adequate, good business to you Nunbul.”

“Thank you officer,” the white replied, his voice quivering sadly. He was clearly unhappy, but he didn’t let his emotions get the better of himself.

Tatapill clacked her beak loudly as a warning and moved on, tossing another slice of food into her mouth as she went.

One group caught her attention right away. A Bellani, carried by one Prason and followed by a couple more. Another figure followed close to the group. A bipedal Sapient with a wrap around a huge head shuffled behind them. It shifted its head slightly and Tatapill could see the face of a human, but her hair was quite unusual, consisting of big cords of hair restrained by the large orange and green shawl she wore. At least… Tatapill assumed the human was a female. Their morphology was usually that of the females being thinner. Then she spotted the swells of flesh upon the Human’s chest, that sign she knew, definitely female.

The Bellani was a little unusual, but not so much that Tatapill would have gone out of her way to follow. The Human was a different story however, acting like a fledgling hiding a stash.

She set her distance and followed them along the strip as they inspected the various shops. The Human must have been owned by the Bellani. She looked nervous and awkward but when the smaller Sapient spoke, the Human listened.

They stopped at the shop of one of the regulars. Atlatal was a long time vendor in the plaza and a dependable source of small time information for the sub district. She had tapped him for what he knew more than a couple times.

The Brown Prason held his Bellani close so she could see Atlatal’s map guides a little bit better. He picked up a smaller one and started into his spiel. That was when it happened. The small human reached out and grabbed one of the shiniest objects from the corner of Atlatal’s table and surreptitiously slipped it into a pocket.

Or at least she tried. Tatapill moved in behind the Human and toggled the security channel.

“Slave, removed that object from your pocket!”

The Human flinched with surprised fear and pulled the wrist mounted map guide back out.

“Place it on the table and remain still,” Tatapill commanded.

“Oh!” Atlatal remarked, looking at the Bellani. “Running a distraction are we?”

“Please,” the green and brown Bellani replied, flicking her right ear. The tip of the ear had been burnt away, possibly with plasma. “New slave, recently purchased.”

“You’re going to claim she didn’t know any better?” Tatapill asked imperiously, fluffing her feathers up to look bigger.

The Bellani’s tail lashed with annoyance and she glared down at the Human. The little Human flinched as she realized her master was looking down on her. Typical of any Human, she couldn’t avoid trying to avoid the responsibility somehow, “I won’t do it aga-” she began to speak.

“Do not speak,” Tatapill commanded, cutting off anything else the young Human had been attempting to say.

The tail of one of the Prason, the brown one holding the Bellani, curled around the ankle of the Human. The Bellani, not missing the action, let out a big sigh. “Understand, inconvenience. Moment please.”

The Bellani turned and tapped on the shoulder of her Prason. It lifted her high and she went sifting through a small backpack hanging just behind his head. Moments later she had pulled out a small credit chit reader and slotted in what had probably been a blank chit.

“Business well?” Tatapill asked as the Bellani worked. “You have been away for a few days.”

“Oh, yes,” the White responded. “With the difficult climate it has been a little harder to keep my guides up to date, requires more time gathering information personally. I’m sure you understand.”

This one she did understand. “I can indeed relate,” Tatapill admitted. That fight between Hatherkey and Red Tail had trickled through the city. She found herself looking back fondly on just trying to deal with Red Tail, the Kraltnin at least had standards.

The Bellani had loaded a second chit and she passed one to Atlatal and one to Tatapill. “For inconvenience,” she said politely. The little Sapient even managed to keep the annoyed twitching of her tail to a minimum.

Tatapill inspected the amount. The total wasn’t impressive, but for the amount of trouble, reasonable enough. She looked up at Atlatal. He bobbed his head forward slightly. He seemed happy with his portion. Good enough, the White had helped out more than a few times.

“Well then,” she turned to look at the nervous Human. “I return you to your owner.”

The Human twitched, then moved in close to the brown Prason, grabbing its arm.

The Bellani sighed. “His favorite,” she said with a flick of her healthy upper left ear. “Will speak Later.”

Confident that the slave would be receiving her due punishment and that Atlatal was happy, Tatapill moved on.

-----
Tsury
-----​

“You’re Human and you’ve never heard of ‘iced-cream’?” The Kashto asked.

Tsury tilted her head. “No, should I have?” she sent back.

Realizing Tsury’s mouth hadn’t moved the mammal responded knowingly. “You’re not a home grown slave, is it? Well, this here is a very rare Human delicacy. Your master knows a thing or two to bring you here!”

“Of course.” Matchka spoke up. Tsury had to resist the urge to smile. Matchka had never heard of ice cream before either. Daniel had stopped them at this stall when he realized what was being sold.

Tsury leaned towards the counter, peeking through the glass down into the various buckets arrayed with colourful pastes. She twitched backwards when her hand touched the glass. “It’s cold!”

“Of course!” The white Kashto replied. “That is why ‘iced’!”

“Ngh!” Daniel groaned quietly under his breath, just loud enough for Tsury to hear. He wouldn’t be able to enjoy any iced cream with his mask.

It became a little bit harder to hide the smile. She looked up at the Kashto. “What flavours are there?”

“Well, this is ‘strawed berry’,” he began, pointing at a pink bucket first. “Then green mist, chark fud, cookie dough, van hiller, and napatan for original Human flavours.” Tsury noticed Otto subtly flinching with every name, but the Kashto had no more names to torture the man with. He continued listing flavours. “Then verdant nrik, crushed lits, murk root and finally alls mixed.”

Tsury put a finger on her lips as she thought about it, looking at all the flavours that she had no reference for. A big brown hand pointed at the napatan bucket.

“Not you,” Matchka ‘reprimanded’ the Prason that was Otto.

Otto sighed and withdrew his hand.

“I’ll try that one,” Tsury said, looking at the Kashto.

“One napatan cone, coming up!”

He scooped a couple balls of iced cream onto a cone of wafer and handed it over, Tsury looked at the tan cone with the pink, white and brown iced cream balls stacked on top with interested curiosity. To finish it off the Kashto wrapped a thin layer of paper around the cone. “Careful, it melts!” he warned cheerfully as she took it from his paw. Matchka paid and they moved on.

“Lick it, don’t bite it,” Otto sent as she went to taste the cold treat. Glancing sideways at him, Tsury did as instructed.

The first taste of the iced cream made the whole ordeal Otto had put her through all worth it. She savoured the treat with relish. Tsury never expected something so cold could be so good. And it was so sweet!

She hadn’t enjoyed the experience from the moment he’d explained the plan. “I want you to steal something in front of the officer,” he’d told her.

“But she’ll spot me for sure!” Tsury had complained. “I’ll be in trouble!”

“Yes, but we’ll protect you, and I promise to make it up to you.”

“I’m already nervous!” Tsury had complained further.

“That’s part of the plan.”

“You’re not being fair!” she’d said. Then he’d poked her in the cheeks she’d puffed up without realizing what she was doing.

“You know why I’m doing this,” He’d said with a friendly smile, and she’d capitulated.

They left the bustling plaza behind, Atlatal with it. The Kraltnin had some business backed up and it would look suspicious if he was away from his stand too often.

They walked in silence even after leaving the plaza. Finally, Daniel broke and sent a group message over the implants. “Ya think maybe we can get some ordered in or somethin’?”

Otto just started laughing quietly, his shaking rocked Matchka in her seat.

“I ain’t had any icecream for months!” Daniel continued. “Just a little bit would taste so friggin’ good!”

“Mmm,” Tsury replied, enjoying the taste. “Which one was your favorite? Do you like napatan as well?”

This made Otto flinch and Mike groan.

“Those names are so bad,” Mike complained. “It’s strawberry, green mint, chocolate fudge, vanilla and neopolitan.”

“The last one… cookie dough was the right name?” she enjoyed another taste, and the ability to talk and eat.

“Yeah well, those are more universal names, the others are specific earth names,” Otto explained. “And napoleon has strawberry, vanilla and chocolate all in one, so you get to try three flavours at- oh, Aurula's calling me.”

Tsury had been about to thank Otto for helping her decide in the iced cream… icecream? She watched as his wide lips moved slightly while he stared into space. The Prason prosthetic was very impressive with how it would mimic the action of the face underneath.

He regained focus and Mike spoke up. “How's the blue bird doing? She's been moody like Stacey with bad PMS.”

“PMS?” Tsury asked. “What's that?”

“The reason Stacey gets really jealous of you every thirty days or so,” Mike quipped.

“Heh,” Otto laughed, “that's not far off. Aurula says she's in a period called 'the flips’. Her body chemistry is changing and it does make her extremely moody. The last couple days she barely wanted to look at me. Right now she wants to be in all of my personal space.”

“Good thing we're done then,” Mike chuckled, then he paused. “We are done right?”

The thought made Tsury cringe.

“Get imprints?” Matchka asked of Otto, confirming the goal of this excursion.

“Yeah, I think I got enough to make it work,” Otto answered quickly enough. “I just hope they don’t have multiple ranks or different security command signals depending on the district, but that seems like it would be unnecessarily complicated.”

“Well, we’ll have to see what comes up,” Mike said, tossing in his own comment.

Tsury hoped it worked out, Otto getting that imprint to work. It hadn't been fun pretending to take orders from the Vep officer. The false slave package had acknowledged the commands, and Tsury had mentally denied them by reflex. On the physical side however she had frozen in place, racked with nerves. A part of her still remembered being a skittish Ushen, scared of her own shadow. It was difficult to shake lessons learned over multiple decades.

After this little experience, Tsury suddenly felt bad for anyone who had to give up their freedom again, whatever the reason.

-----
Not so Regular Day on Patrol
-----​

The Monos galloped through the crowd, bowling over Vep, Kashto and more, only swerving to avoid smashing into the occasional larger Ytheon.

This wasn't right. Kchoke was the hunter, not the hunted!

He was making impressive time, but the crowd was slowing him down just enough. Just enough for it to keep up with him.

He hadn't seen it, not well enough to matter. The chaser was using lightbending cloth. It was moving fast enough you could see the telltale flickers if you watched, but that was it.
He hadn't heard the chaser, not at first. It was bipedal for sure, the steady beat of of its boots pounded the concrete behind him now that they were running.

No, he had smelt whoever was chasing him. A faint whiff of a mammal, sent forward by one of the many exhaust vents scattered throughout the city.

He had turned and demanded the person show themselves, only to receive silence in return. He'd attempted to strike at the hidden Sapient, only to be zapped by a stun baton. It was luck that saved him, the strike from the stunner must have been fouled by his own attack.

The breath grew ragged in his lungs. He could hold a lot of air, but it was difficult to run this fast and breath as much as he needed.

He turned a corner and smashed into a big white and grey Ytheon. He started rearing up in surprise, but that only resulted in his head smacking into the head plate of the big Sapient.

He landed on his side with a heavy thud.

“I can't believe you've done this,” the Ytheon said straight faced. Only when Kchoke scrambled up on all six limbs to resume his sprint did the Ytheon’s face momentarily register surprise.

Kchoke had turned down a smaller side street, hoping it would be a decent little shortcut to the T-Cap.

Less traffic meant he heard it clearly when the regular beat of the following footsteps turned the corner. But it sounded wrong. He turned to look at the street. This smaller walkway was the foot access for the adjacent apartment buildings. Balconies and walkways bridged the gap overhead, although for a moment he thought he'd seen a grey blur zip overhead.

A four legged Ushen with solid blue eyes squeaked and ducked back through the door they'd almost exited.

“Kchoke?”

The Monos cried out in surprise as Wastad’s voice echoed in his mind.

“Wastad! I'm being chased! They almost got me!

“K--oke?” the voice asked again. But it was garbled, no, scrambled. He couldn't get through to the Operator.

He poured on speed, sucking in huge breaths of air. The moment he resumed full speed there was a clatter of noise behind him.

Kchoke yelped in fear. How did it keep up? It couldn't be a drone! They didn't allow unescorted AI or SI into the city! A vehicle would have other telling signs, or he'd have been caught right away!

Arms and legs burning, he exited the side road at full gallop. A Vep squawked with undignified surprise as Kchoke knocked the lightweight bird literally into the air.

The spectacle succeeded in convincing the majority of the foot traffic to make way.

Sobbing with fear and relief that he didn't have to stumble over anyone else, Kchoke’s eyes alighted on the T-Cap station he'd been looking for.

He was almost there!

A Kashto stepped through the doors and out of sight. The entrance then slammed shut.

Orange strips of light glowed, coming to life and declaring the entrance sealed.

Kchoke came to a stop. Stumbling as he did so. He couldn't remain standing anymore.

He was done. His upper torso dropped and he supported himself with his upper set of arms. He pulled in great ragged gulps of air.

“Grrkikkkikk!” He spasmed as the two stunners on his flank sent him the rest of the way to the ground.

“How is that Bob? I hope you're happy.”

Through the haze of mind crushing fatigue and stunner induced pain and loss of control, Kchoke would remember two things.

The first? The male who had caught him didn't even sound tired.

The second? When the voice of the drone 'Bob’ replied with “Most satisfactory Strider.”

-----
Aurula
-----​

“Otto!” she exclaimed happily, jumping into his chest.

To her immense pleasure, Otto didn't miss a flap, bringing his arms up and catching her with ease, cradling her wings to hold her safe. He made that seem so easy, a perk of superior Human strength. A male Leralin would likely have dropped her. She chirped happily and snuggled into his arms.

“Uh,” Otto started, his voice clearly bemused. “feeling better?”

“Oh yes,” Aurula replied happily.

“Make way! Make way!” Mike spoke from behind Otto, his voice half patience and half annoyance. “People gotta come through!”

Otto obliged and moved aside as Mike, Daniel and Stacey came ambling out of the storage room, free of their disguises, at least for the moment, Matchka would be taking the brothers and Stacey out later.

As far as Aurula could tell, Otto barely even registered her weight. She wondered if he could simply toss her skyward. All of a sudden she wanted to find out. But she couldn’t, they were stuck in the middle of town and flying was prohibited! That wasn’t fair, the area was just packed with wonderful spires to flit around.

“Hey,” Otto spoke up as annoyance began to seep into her mood. “I’ve been out for awhile, wanna to sit down?”

Did he realize her mood was shifting? That and the deep tone of his voice just made her feel more comfortable. “Sure,” Aurula replied with contentment. He carried her straight to the bowl.

Aurula could clearly hear Mike laughing under his breath as she was carried away. She didn’t care. Her escort was being romantic! Otto turned around and smoothly dropped backwards with her in hand. She may have squawked when he did so as well.

The others gave the two of them their space and Otto casually began combing through a presented wing. His wise patience was very much appreciated, especially when her mood was so flighty. The first day she hadn't wanted to so much as look at him. Everything had seemed just so complicated, being in a relationship with a xeno. Yesterday that mood hadn't shifted, until he'd invaded her private mood with purpose and that steady patience. His attention had settled her feathers literally and figuratively.

And she still had at least twelve days of mood flips before her body was ready to go.

But now that she was thinking about the tone of his voice, Aurula was seized with a sudden desire. The Humans could use their voices like instruments, and she had heard Stacey humming before. What did Otto sound like?

“Hey Otto?” she mumbled quietly.

“Yes Aurula?”

“Can you sing?”

“Uh… I've never been much of a singer… you, uh, want me to try?”

“Please,” she pleaded tilting an eye upwards towards him and raising her crest high.

His expression was uncertain, flighty almost, but she got to witness him force that emotion from his face. “Well… okay, but you can't blame me if it sounds terrible or childish.”

“Sure I can!” She replied with a cheerful laugh, “but I'd still appreciate the effort…” and she would. Just seeing Otto resolve to embarrass himself for her sake had already become a guilty pleasure.

“I don't know many songs at all, but here goes…” Otto took a deep breath and began singing in a soft tone.

“Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are…”

The embarrassment in his voice was clear for her to hear, and she could easily tell it was a nursery rhyme, but…

“Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky…”

As he sang Aurula settled happily. Gaining confidence, the deep tones of Otto's voice carried her away just like she thought would happen.

Even if it was only for a moment, everything felt just about right.

-----
His name is Rodgers
-----​

It was all wrong.

The ship, Jolly Rodgers No.15, was turning into his greatest regret.

First of all, it stank. It stank like only the Kashto could stink, the little bastards didn't air out a single damn thing. Ever.

Rodgers huffed as he awkwardly made his way through the tiny corridor.

Next was the shape of the ship. A main fuselage section with two secondary sections that could likely break off if they had to. Joining bundles of corridors and connectors held the three parts together like the Kashto couldn't decide if they actually wanted their ship to remain a single whole. Eventually he realized the ship looked like a giant pretzel with ship parts where the gaps on the pretzel would be! It had been so hard to paint his Jolly Rodger!

He groaned as he arrived at the little intersection. That was the worst part. The Kashto were basically weasels, and they were perfectly happy moving about on all fours. So what did they do with their ships? All the side corridors were narrow tunnels suitable for the stinky bastards!

Rodgers continued along, scuttling forward on all fours. This method of moving brought his head closer to the smelly floor, but it was faster. And he really had to go to the bathroom.

The main corridors were fine to traverse, but many of the side rooms were hell in space to get to. The three lovable Monos on his crew slept in the cargo bay rather than try to navigate the tunnels.

Seeing the door to the washroom come into sight he upped his speed a bit more. Then he found it.

If anyone was enjoying this cramped ship it would be the juvenile Achun twins they'd picked up. Unfortunately, like any proper kids, they could be little shits at times.

Rodgers lurched forward towards the bathroom.

“Nngh-GEH!” Rodgers complained as a near invisible wisp of a spider web wrapped itself around his head. It had been stretched so wide as to be almost impossible to see in the dim corridors. He fell onto his side grabbing at his eye to remove the little booby trap the spiders had left him, made possible only by the characteristics of this damned… ship!

Once again, his voice choked with anger and frustration, Rodgers shouted out his indignation.

“I HATE IT!” he yelled. “I HATE IT SO MUCH!”

-----
End Chapter
-----
Previous | Beginning | Technology | Wiki | Next
-----​

Want to go back to Reddit?

Visit me on the Discord. Talk about what you like, don't like, and what you want to see happen.

The Patreon. Yup, I have one of those. If you really appreciate what I've done, please stop by. I've pushed forward to release chapters a week ahead on patreon, so I have that to offer you all.
 
Last edited:
Top