Original Content Bought and Sold. Chapter 27, Arc 3

MyNameMeansBentNose

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Chapter 27, here we are. Not much to say tonight, just a couple reminders. I have a poll going over in the artwork section ->Here. Drop in and show me who you want to see a picture of next, not that Umbra is a bad choice. The other thing is that I will be doing a two week hiatus after mondays chapter. For me the hiatus has already started, you're just seeing the chapter I'd had mostly prepared a week in advance. I want everyone to know I've been putting the time to good use, my plans for the rest of the arc have come together in a good way I think.

Enjoy the chapter. :)

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Previous | Beginning | Technology | Wiki | Next (Monday)
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Chapter 27
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Otto had come to learn more about the distinctions and divisions between good operators and bad operators.

The term ‘operator’ was just a catch all for those who were somewhat comfortable and capable in dataspace. The first distinction was between those who merely used and those who designed.

User types were those operators loaded with extensive implants and AI combat routines for the sake of Dataspace focused activities. The types considered Users were rarely self driven, but instead hired, trained and designed by a third party for the sake of being a useful tool. The Spectrum agent from way back on Hrossincru, the one Otto had punched in the face, was an example. The Lens was probably like that too. Independents were really just rare individuals who escaped their leash.

That illustrated the next difference between Operators as well. Supported Operators and unsupported. The Grey Otto had punched was unsupported, not having a large AI or SI support, or at least a second Operator or network to run interference or additional routines. The Lens however had a link to a ship carried AI core, the whole reason Tingtantun had gone to such lengths to jam the dataspace connection of the Black Kraltnin. Ting knew such an opponent would come out of the woodwork if Tank was spotted, so the older Grey Kraltnin had been ready.

And Otto was experiencing the same thing, once being supported by SPIRE, now finding himself adrift without that strong supportive hand pushing him forward.

The last division Otto was one he was currently trying to to cross. He was a designer type, able to build packages on the fly if needed, and at least carrying multiple component pieces that he could slap together depending on just what he needed to do. Some operators like this were once again taught by a third party, intent on molding the Operator into a powerful asset. But many such operators were self taught, scraping together whatever information, knowledge and training they could gather by their own means. Self taught a were looked down upon as most were little more than chaff. Distractions flitting around, just on the edge of burning out. Unproven.

It was this division between types of self taught operators that Otto was attempting to cross. He was attempting to move from unproven to proven. Otto had gained enough knowledge and skill to poke at the regular city dataspace with some confidence. And as for dataspace combat against comparable flesh and blood opponents, he considered himself a force to respect. But as far as The Peaks was concerned, Otto was unproven, an unknown factor. And worse, he was Human.

Otto had looked, and he couldn’t find any information about Human operators. He didn’t think he was the first, Humans had been around as products for hundreds of years at this point. Maybe more, the public records were vague at best. Perhaps it was recorded on the Manifestation, but he'd never checked that number. Still, he highly doubted any previous Human operators would have been self taught. Clouds and SPIRE did help of course, but that was no formal course he had forced himself through. Becoming proven in an established environment like the city of The Peaks was a tall order.

Which lead to now. After coming in and saying hello, Otto would greet the Helix over dataspace. Probably in combat. Otto knew this would reveal Otto’s actual race if the Operator was worth his salt.

Matchka sitting in the crook of his artificially long arm, Otto pushed his way through the door. He'd wondered since way back in Hrossincru what they were like. Now was his first time seeing a Helix.

The race was rather fascinating for Otto. He had heard a little about them before, their claim to fame was having the best, most powerful stepdown generators. As a political entity, the Helix were a larger member of the Cooperation with much of their holding existing on the far side of Veprutasian space.

The important thing though, the thing that had elevated the Helix as the best choice among all those he could see, was their history. The Helix were a part of the Cooperation, but only under duress. The Veprutasians were an old faction. They had brought the weight of their wealth and influence to bear on the Helix when the then young race had revealed their technical skill.

A millennia later and the Helix were still an occupied people in many places. They multiplied slowly compared to the black birds and even now produced goods at bargain prices for the forces of the Cooperation, only making small profits from limited trading partners accepted by the Veprutasians.

And on top of this, the Helix were a race with a very long memory. At least half of it anyways.

As a physical entity, the Helix were symbiotes, two races living as one. A warm blooded mammal served as the muscle, movement and emotion. A slow growing plant served as the protection and the powerful driving intellect. Every generation of the mammal side, the ‘soil’ was a new creature. But the ‘root’, the plant side, was an offshoot of an original. Like the Banana plant, most ‘roots’ were cuttings from the original homeworld strains.

Which brought Otto to this moment, arriving at ‘Personal Power’ yet another small shop in the depths of The Peaks districts, he saw his first Helix. At rest the Helix resembled a bark-plated squirrel, although the tail was long, thin and bore serrated and thorned triangular segments of wood.

At rest, like a squirrel, but that impression would quickly change. The Helix had been hunched over when Otto arrived, the long tail raised and slowly waving around in the air behind him. Otto spotted him standing off to the side behind a short desk, playing with some small round gadget. Crouched over where he was, his position giving him a pudgy appearance. This is what made Otto think of a squirrel. He even had the short snout, although his eyes were obscured by the wooden mask over his head as it looked away. The whiskers were actually long, thin leaves rather than hairs.

The wooden plating was rooted along the creature’s body and condensed into plates of wood and bark on outer extremities and limbs, giving the Helix a fully armored appearance. Yellowish pulsing stems and roots could occasionally be seen rooting the wood to the flesh and fur of the mammalian body. The fur of the Helix was a charcoal grey, possessing a soft powdery sheen that made Otto think of chinchillas. Round ears extended from the wooden helmet, a ring of wood extended slightly from the helmet to provide some protection.

The closest ear flicked to the front door of the small shop as Otto entered.

The Helix stood up, his body crackling and popping as he stretched upwards. And the image shifted. The ‘squirrel’ suddenly looked more like a bear. The wide paws bore heavy claws, and Otto could see sharp fangs poking out from the muzzle of the Helix. Otto could also see green and yellow shoots of plant matter poking out from between the outstretched claws of the Helix as well. It was the plant that was the manipulator. He approached the desk with thumping steps, although perhaps not as loud as Otto expected. When they were up close Otto found himself looking upwards, the Helix was at least two feet taller than him.

“What do you want, [Greetings guest],” The Helix spoke, its voices overlapping in Otto’s head. Otto realized he could only physically hear one distinct voice. One half of the symbiote didn't speak in the traditional manner.

The front of the Helix’s body was covered by a single sheet of spiral patterned white and blue cloth. The edges of the cloth were clipped onto the wooden armor plating along his shoulders and backside. As for the face of the creature, his large eyes were off-putting at first sight, the irises being a silvery green/yellow around black pupils.

The forehead of the helmet carried a pulsing lotus bulb, shifting from one colour to the next. The bulb grew from a recessed socket, protected by the round bowl of wood and clearly shifted in colour when the creature spoke.

The Helix stared at Matchka, comfortably sitting, settled into Otto’s arm.

“Stoyaf, Thumping Yellow?” She asked with a tilt of her head and a twitch of her upper ears.

“Yeah. He's here, [I am Stoyaf of Thumping yellow],” as the voices answered the bulb turned a brilliant shade of yellow and visibly pulsed three times. The eyes of the mammalian side rolled and the secondary voice spoke. [You must have heard of me through dataspace, my warm half is called Dresk].”

“Dataspace?” Matchka wondered out loud.

“Stoyaf has slow memory,” Dresk grunted, turning sideways to put the orb down on the cluttered work trolley he'd picked it from. He turned his head to look at them as he continued poking at the tools and objects on the little platform. “Always Stoyaf forgets me when advertising.”

A long moment of silence filled the room. Otto opened his mouth to speak, but Dresk cut him off. “You're being rude, speak out loud in company.”

“[I was just apologizing], Stoyaf defended itself.

“Honest apology is done in public. Apology in private is only to protect self.”

[... Yes, you are right. I forget too often.]

“If you have memory problems, perhaps you should consider setting up a custom package to give you reminders for situations you often forget,” Otto suggested.

Dresk's head snapped around, and the bulb whirled with muddy browns. “No Prason here, who are you? [Why drop your disguise so easily?]”

“You dark side Operator,” Matchka replied. “Need contact.”

Dresk looked at Matchka, then to Otto. “What makes you think that?” He asked, apparently speaking for both selves.

“You were advertising of course,” Otto spoke again. He felt some subtle poking along the surface of his falsified slave package as he explained. “Home worlders tend to have a larger cultural background, correct?” He didn't wait for them to respond. “All the written language in Karkantantar's runs vertically, reading from top to bottom. You slipped your advertisement for dataspace infiltration in by hiding another message horizontally. My Homeworld has lots of language variants so I spotted the difference right away.” Otto smiled as Matchka’s ears fluttered with amusement.

“Hmph, told ya Stoyaf. [Yes, you were correct],” the head of the Helix tilted as it looked at Otto. “Worked well so far, only Helix and Ushen spotted it before, but you ain't either- [I'm impressed, but what are you, I detect a hint of Hyowean pollen about you, but you are something else?]”

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Dresk Stoyaf of Thumping Yellow
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“[Yes, you were correct],” Stoyaf acknowledged to Dresk’s satisfaction. They carried on the conversation with casual ease, but the impressions between them were flying back and forth. This was something odd that had just walked in their door, and Odd was Dangerous.

More than that, they understood Stoyaf was not someone who worked in the light, but rather where the light didn’t shine.

“[I'm impressed, but what are you, I detect a hint of Hyowean pollen about you, but you are something else?],” Stoyaf asked, not really expecting a proper answer. They were going to say something ridiculous.

“Otto, Human,” the brown faced Bellani said with casual pride.

Thought she was gonna say Gerlen,’ Dresk thought to themselves. Stoyaf pulsed a sense of agreement. A Human though, that was much worse. Especially since he was still a full slave, he’d seen broken packages before.

“A Human?” Dresk asked out loud. “And you expect us to help you? [That seems extremely dangerous, especially with the limitations you are working under]. So yeah, we are going to have to ask you to leave.”

The pair of them hesitated for a moment, like most Sapients receiving their first stacked set of messages from the root and the soil.

“There are few options out there for someone like me,” The ‘Prason’ replied, dropping its head in acknowledgment. “So I understand the need to work hard at the ones that are still open to me.”

Dresk sighed while Stoyaf spoke. “[You misunderstand, it is not a matter of working hard. A primitive, restricted Human doesn’t belong in this space].”

The tail of the Bellani lashed, but she didn’t move. Instead, the Human spoke.

“Try me.”

Stoyaf was no young shoot. The Human was baiting him? Such arrogance deserved punishment, and if it wasn't arrogance, a test would do. “Regret your choice to avoid the storm,” Dresk told him with another sigh.

Stoyaf: [Command. Attack. Data Flood.]

A construction like a flood of water rush over the connection the Bellani had foolishly left open, and had no effect.

The Bellani’s tail waved lazily through the ear, and a single ear twitched towards her carrier.

“If you could not do that one, I’d appreciate that. There’s only so many connections I can pop before we get noticed,” The Human told him.

“What? [You have roots don’t you].”

“Hmm, I wonder?”

Stoyaf: [Command. Attack. Fragmentation bugs.]

Stoyaf watched both their connections as he launched his next attack. If the bugs could take hold they would inflict constant loss and destruction of his opponents cohesion.

The Human acted. The Bellani wasn’t actually connected at this moment. The wireless node appearing to come from her was a dummy node? He was able to see the actions of the Human as he… dropped the shell that only looked like a slave package. The Human wasn’t even trying to obfuscate, Stoyaf could clearly see the Human’s counters as they were put into play.

Human: [Command. Defense. Gel Barrier.]

Their personal dataspaces began to mesh as the pair of them interacted. Ghosts of false visual constructs slowly gaining coherence. The Human impressed Stoyaf when he realized the man had his own personal space.

The barrier the Human had raised was reminiscent of Leralin defense styles. The birds had a great deal of respect for the ability of water to stop moving objects. Stoyaf’s bugs sunk into the barrier and quickly disintegrated into particles of data. ‘Otto’ may have dropped the slave package disguise, but his personal avatar was still that of the black sphere that indicated slaves and brand new users. It rippled with colour every time he took an action however, a remaining and subtle sign of being more than he seemed.

The Human waited, a great building of stone slowly rippling into form behind him. Stoyaf’s own gold and green forest slowly sprouted around them.

Stoyaf: [Command. Attack. Fragmentation spike.]

Human: [Command. Defense. Personal shell.]

The program, appearing like a spiked root, burst forth. It did as it was built to do, attempting to force a new gap in the personal avatar of the Human. He continued to dedicate his cycles to defense, erecting a solid barrier to fend off the spike. Both combat programs simply canceled each other out.

The barrier that had popped up around the Human shattered and took the black sphere with it, revealing his preferred avatar. The biped stood before him with ease, his face decorated with three distinct scars and his right manipulator an obvious data construct likely mirroring the loss of his real hand. Stoyaf had seen such things before in his long lives.

Stoyaf: [Command. Attack. Spore Barrage.] Using the Barrage as a screen, Stoyaf activated a second attack. [Command. Attack. Creeping Roots.]

Otto didn’t seem to register the second attack, only responding to the first. [Command. Defense. Regenerating Barriers.]

Stoyaf’s forest had fully grown, towering golden barked trees with viridian and cerulian leaves swaying in the imagined wind. The Human's strange fortress was a solid construction of its own, fending off any of the seeds that often took hold in the mental constructions of… inferior opponents. The incoming spores didn’t fare any better, scattering into fragments of data upon striking the Human’s defenses rather than taking root in static constructs.

The Human was using some surprisingly solid constructs, they had the feel of being personally designed.

In real space Dresk leaned against the table while staring at the Human and his Bellani. Stoyaf barely registered as the smaller Sapient jumped down and ambled around the room. Dresk was able to watch, but not able to do much more as he started patching in reserve systems for the battle going on in their heads. They didn’t have time to spin up the AI Core they had tucked away, the thing drew power and therefore attention. But there were smaller terminals around to borrow. Aside from the couple Otto's diversion had popped in Stoyaf’s opening salvo.

The Human bared his teeth at Stoyaf. He cast back through his memory, he’d met Humans before… A smile. The Human was smiling.

Dresk watched the Bellani take off a small pack on her back. It had the look of one of those modular technical packs with sockets and connectors for harness arms or other useful tools. She opened up the top of the pack and pulled out a device. Stretching as tall as she could, the Bellani placed the box on the counter.

Dresk reached for it and the Bellani pulled it away. “Bad idea,” she warned. “Just wait.”

At the same time the Human spoke. “That’s pretty good Stoyaf, but I’ve already had to deal with a much nastier worm. You may have noticed.”

Stoyaf halted and took a deeper look at his processes. He wasn’t getting the cycles he expected out of the supplementary terminals in the shop. He felt growing alarm and Dresk’s blood pressure rose accordingly.

“What did ya do? What is that?” Dresk asked the Bellani with irritation.

Some opponents could be quite honest if you asked the right questions, especially if they were after something. “[What are you doing]?” Stoyaf asked.

“Oh, I had to deal with a really nasty worm not to long ago. It ate into a big SI and overclocked the poor intelligence until it was practically living every second as if it was a full day. Pretty rough month that one.”

Dresk blinked as the Human dredged up the old concept of months from Stoyaf’s generations long memory. The inhabitants of The Peaks didn’t have to worry about seasons. The root mind that was Stoyaf realized the Human’s worm had eaten his own vines. The cycles he’d dedicated to the hidden attack was suddenly backfiring, providing a route through his own defenses. Defenses that depended on the terminals around them. The garden he’d planted was withering.

“[Ceasefire],” Stoyaf requested “[You’ve proven yourself.]”

The impressive mimicry that was the Prason head blinked it’s eyes, likely imitating the Human’s natural reaction. Otto then turned to look at his Bellani companion. “Looks like we’re set Matchka.”

“‘Kay,” she responded, tapping a sensor on the side of the box.

The box, what Stoyaf had assumed to be the Bellani in dataspace, sent out a wave that rippled through the local space. Stoyaf could feel the worm wilting away and the cycles that had slowly been eaten suddenly opened up, freeing his mind of the mud that had accumulated outside of his notice.

Dresk relaxed his body, having tensed up from the insidious feedback that had crept over the connection.

“What the- [What was that]?” They asked. “[You would disperse that so easily? You had the advantage].”

“Of course I would,” the Human replied. “The ‘advantage’ here is the potential of having someone help me learn the other side to the dataspace of The Peaks.”

There was a long pause.

“I’m sick of standing, I’m tired,” Dresk complained. “[Very well, lets go to the back].”

The four of them headed through a door behind the desk, arriving at a small living and kitchen combination room. Dresk dropped into a heavy armchair, reclining as soon as he was set.

The Human stood, looking around awkwardly.

“Just sit down, [Yes, please sit],” Dresk complained while Stoyaf encouraged. “You've shown us you'll not be pushed around, you've got your chat.”

Otto dropped into a recliner mirroring the first. It was clearly meant for the shorter legged but larger bodied Helix. It was almost too well cushioned for the Human. It looked like getting out would be a bit of a struggle for Otto.

“Oof,” Otto grunted as Matchka jumped into his lap and curled up.

“[Please let me start],” Stoyaf was the first to ‘speak’. [When did you infect me with that worm? And why did you come to us]?”

The Bellani on the Human’s lap had made herself quite comfortable and the Human shed the ‘head’ and ‘hands’ part of his disguise. As Stoyaf expected, his right hand had been replaced with a prosthetic, and the three scars on his cheek were present as well.

“You picked up the worm when you attacked the decoy node. It redirected you to my node and implanted the consumption worm at the same time,” the Human paused for a moment before continuing as the Bellani pushed her head into his hand. “And I went to you guys because I figured I could handle a fight.”

Dresk leaned forward in his chair. “You knew you could win? [On what basis?]”

“Well, the technical side of the Helix are typically the pla- sorry, the ‘root’ side right? So it stands to reason that dataspace attacks would be based on digging in and growing your influence in an opponent’s node. And I just spent a couple months dealing with that worm I used on you…”

“So you have become sensitised to that sort of technique,” Dresk confirmed. “[You are being quite open],” Stoyaf observed.

“Yup, I’ve already explained my reasons, so how about it? Can we work something out?”

“[Perhaps, I have one remaining question. What is your purpose]?”

The Human blinked again, this time Dresk Stoyaf could observe the action directly. “We are looking for a doctor, but one who’s willing to come off the station despite a Human asking. Also possibly looking for someone we can ask to help us with a little pirate problem. What I gather is that Red Tail is our best bet for both.”

Dresk and Stoyaf did a mental check of their shared opinions and found themselves surprisingly open. “[Well, I believe we can work something out then],” Stoyaf spoke for the both of them.

Roughly an hour later the Human had his disguise back on and was gone with his Bellani partner. The box holding the corrupted node remained on the counter. A trade and a payment, something for Stoyaf to study that might enhance his own techniques. The Human had left with some new techniques as well.

“You think he can do some damage to the body switcher?” Dresk asked out loud. It wasn’t necessary, but few soils managed to avoid that habit.

“[Dealing with him was much like fighting against another Helix],” Stoyaf replied. [There is more to that mind than any simple self taught operators. I wonder how much of that is him rather than just the fact that he is Human].”

“What makes you say that? And why is he like a Helix?”

“[Because it felt like a Helix with the active combatant and the passive support. It was like there were two parts of him running in tandem to drive his actions].”

“Hunh,” Dresk resoonded, thinking about Stoyaf’s observation before continuing the conversation. “We going to get involved? He wants to mess with Hatherkey, and Humans are good for that, right?”

“[... no, not yet. We know his signature, so we can watch if the Human gets into something. We will... wait and see].”

“Yeah but… do we trust him?”

“[I find that I do. I did not sense any falsehoods in him].”

“But, how would you know that?”

A fragment of a memory unwound itself from Stoyaf’s mind, of a Root given cause to explore new Soil. “[Humans are very good friends, if you are willing to trust them].”

Dresk paused to think about that. “Hmm. Maybe I should also grow some new shoots.”

The pair of them were unified in their curiosity and interest. The Human might make for an interesting show. Dresk Stoyaf spent the rest of the day considering who would be worth telling, and who should be avoided.

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Otto
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“Stoyaf said here,” Matchka pointed at the stall in question. Otto headed over to let her do the haggling. The large stall was full of exotic vegetation and was manned by an Ushen with a full jacket underneath the typical vest.

Bulbs, tubers, fruits and berries lined the shelves and a single drone observed the shoppers wandering the area.

Otto just had to be a Prason for now, so he occupied himself by connecting to the apartment. A couple pings and everyone knew he was there.

A limited shared space opened up as Otto joined. The conversation was already going and he could imagine them with their closed eyes sitting around that table..

“Whatcha up to Otto?” Daniel asked first.

“Got what I needed, doing a little bit of shopping, then I’ll be back.”

He started up an observation program to try and watch for traffic. So far they hadn’t done anything that should earn someone’s attention, but that could change soon enough.

“So you think you can actually do some good now?” Mike asked with amusement. The older brother had seen Otto’s eye develop a twitch trying to find his own way into the hidden dataspace nodes.

“Jerk,” Otto replied with no heat in his voice. “Yeah, I’ve got an in, just checking in to see how you guys are doing.”

“The decision has been made,” Tank said, joining the conversation. “We are going to change tactics. The search thus far has borne no fruit.”

“Makes sense, whatcha doing now then?”

“Well, we’re using the guide to decide where we want to go party first,” Mike noted.

“Our friend didn’t argue with the idea?” Otto had to ask.

Next to his real self, Matchka had struck up a conversation with the sales-Ushen. He missed the initial exchange between the two.

“Nah, Art didn’t have a problem,” Daniel explained, still getting the Kraltnin’s name wrong. “He already left to go catch up with shit.”

As he'd guessed, the group of them had already been hanging out in dataspace. Otto extended himself into the shared room just a bit further. The group of them had opened up a map of the lower districts, expanding the guid map Atlatal had passed off to them. A surprising number of points and areas illustrated just how far in Hatherkey had pushed his influence

Just as he started looking at their options he heard the Ushen speak up, her tone bright and cheery.

“Who's the lucky Leralin?” she asked with wide eyed innocence, the blue orbs gazing at Matchka's own blue eyes with curiosity.

“Leralin?” Matchka asked with a tilt of her head and a flick of both ears closest Otto.

“Oh yes, it is the duty of the male to bring his mate an offering of Uta fronds when she is on the cusp! They are the absolute best for a healthy, balanced eggshell!”

“Otto? Mike asked over dataspace.

Realizing Mike had been repeating his name Otto replied. “Sorry, gotta pay attention to this, I'll be back in a couple minutes,” he pulled back and set his avatar to away, resulting in his form looking like it was napping.

He missed Matchka's response.

“You didn't know?” the Ushen asked. “You're shopping for someone else then. A Kashto, or perhaps a Monos. Not a Kraltnin I'm sure, they always keep themselves properly informed, those perverted Blacks. Or did your Leralin friend find some male to sing them a tune? Maybe give her a romantic toss through the air?” she paused for a moment. “Just checking, your friends are properly immunized, correct?”

He felt the heat rise up his neck as the Ushen accidentally gossiped about Otto right to his face. But part of that earned Otto's rapt attention. “Immunized?” he blurted out in surprise.

The Ushen shifted her head to the 'Prason’ before her, tilting her head quizzically. She then looked back at Matchka. “He is immunized right, her… late night flight? The contact neuralizer fends off airborne and regular contact pathogens well enough, but more… involved contact requires a better product. Lucky for you! I happen to know-”

“No need,” Matchka cut her off. “But, amount?”

Matchka finished the transaction while Otto’s mind floated in a surprised stupor. He'd forgotten all about Tsury's updated immunizer. The splitting of the Mother Willow had brought that project to a halt.

That was going to be a problem he imagined. There was a big difference between touching and… fluid transfer. The Ushen may have known somebody to offer immunizers, but they needed to be careful about using city utilities for multiple Humans.

So he needed that immunizer, and he had to be careful about where to get it.

Matchka knew exactly what was on his mind. “Immunizer difficult. For Humans, limited options.”

Otto nodded. He'd assumed as much. He flinched in surprise when a frond of fern tickled his ear. Matchka had set the bundle in his arm and he hadn't even noticed grabbing it. He stuffed it under his cloak hanging the bundle from a handy hook on his harness.

His attention split multiple directions, Otto gazed at the influence map as he and Matchka began to navigate the walkways back home.

The comment about Kraltnin Blacks being informed reminded Otto of Krangkunkek, their 'master’ on Hrossincru. Was he immunized and did he get Stacey looked after at the…

“Why stop?” Matchka asked as Otto stopped walking in the middle of the street. He quickly resumed moving to avoid further cursing from other pedestrians.

Mentally he'd run a Quick search. It took him moments to spot it, the name standing out like a tone deaf joke spoken by a person with no remorse or understanding. Otto drew Matchka in with a quick ping, wanting her to be a part of this message.

“Yer’ back,” Daniel remarked, the first to see Otto’s dataspace avatar open its eyes.

“Yeah, and I know where we should attack first,” Otto grinned. “I think you’ll like it,” he waved his digital right hand before him theatrically as he mentally expanded the map. Zeroing on the point he wanted Otto stared at the highlighted words with a smile.

“Holy… that’s fuckin’ perfect,” Mike agreed. Daniel just started laughing. Stacey radiated a cold agreement.

Matchka shared a touch of her curiosity and confusion over the shared space. She asked the question Tank and Tsury likely had on their own minds as well.

“Sapient Resources?”

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End Chapter
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