Original Content Bought and Sold. Chapter 32, Arc 3

MyNameMeansBentNose

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The attack shifts into high gear. Enjoy the chapter!

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Previous | Beginning | Technology | Wiki | Next
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Chapter 32
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Before they had even arrived Otto was digging himself back into the system of the auction house. It wasn’t quite so bad. While it was difficult to get into at first, once Otto was through the outer defenses the walls just fell away. The second time around naturally went quicker. He had left himself a root access, although it still required close proximity to avoid tripping time sensitive alarms. That had been the first part of the plan to fall into place.

Halfway through yesterday he was set on putting it off for another ten days frankly. He didn't want to wait, but if plans didn’t lineup then there was no reason to put themselves in even further risk.

Then he'd managed to contact a helper in Sapient Resources. That conversation went extremely well, although convincing them Otto’s help would be worth waiting on had been difficult. A necessary condition since he had to meet them in purpose to fulfill Otto’s part of the agreement they’d set. After that Daniel had let Otto know that not only had the younger brother found Leroy, but they also had the means and the will to handle a large potential load of stasis held slaves… although if they could steal some credits at the same time it would be a very valuable extra bit of assistance...

Finally Atlatal had reported that Hatherkey just finished a large and unrelated raid elsewhere. The crime lord’s best responders were likely to be resting after a big shootout. Everything pointed to Red Tail being tied down, the Vep wouldn't expect a new element to appear out of nowhere. The idea put a smile on Otto's face. Hatherkey had a tidy grip on everything right now, he’d never expect this mess to land in his lap.

It's not often life just comes together like that. With everything falling into place, the final confirmation was given. Today they would attack.

Otto, with Matchka in the crook of his arm and Tsury in tow, entered the courtyard of the auction house and joined the fast moving line. First he would have to work his way back into the prosthetics of the guard, probably the tightest defense in the whole damn place, then he would check on that contact.

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Hulalin
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With the automated commands set, Hulalin watched the first round of pods retract into the wall from the security monitors. They would then travel along the small transport tubes for display in the auction hall. The system was actually very quick, although it helped that stasis countered the effect of momentum to a large degree. As required, Hulalin would remain here in case Krassoty wanted the display order shuffled, or by some freak accident something went wrong.

She reached up with one wing and idly scratched at the lower beak ring. A nervous habit. One she always had to control during auction day.

Staying here rarely went well for her after all, not that she had a choice in the matter. She watched the guard carefully, he’d long proven she couldn’t trust him after all. The Veprutasian was well augmented, lines of tech showing in his upper limbs and legs, most of his wingfeathers even glistening oddly in the light. The male didn’t have any of his original wings left, they were an impressive, and dangerous, imitation. He wasn’t fully augmented of course, she’d seen enough proof of that.

She and the guard, Ooserdaed, were anything but friends.

“Welcome!” Krassoty’s voice echoed from the monitor speakers. “If the last of you can find your seating and be settled, we can begin with today’s events!” Ooserdaed stepped up behind her as Krassoty began the days events on the monitor. She only barely resisted the urge to flinch as a wing hand landed on her slight shoulder. Krassoty continued speaking on screen, “I’m pleased to say, and I’m sure many of you know, we have a respectable line-up to share with you all today!”

Like his feathers, Ooserdaed’s hands glistened oddly, a product of the imitation composite feathers. Stronger and lighter even than the original organic feathers the guard once had.

“Hulalin,” He whispered into her left earsocket, his beak alongside her head, “He will be fine, there’s no reason to stall.” the other hand placed itself on her right hip.

She barely controlled the urge to flinch. She had authority over the Gerlen and lesser Ytheon guards, but not Ooserdaed or Zeak who manned the front gate.

“Now of course,” Krassoty spoke, “you all know me as one not to waste your time! So we shall get right to the bundle deals, today’s initial offering… is…”

“What is that Gerlen doing?” Hulalin asked, quietly thankful for the distraction.

The hand left her hip as the guard stepped past her and leaned on the desk. “That is…

“When someone doesn’t sell, you send them to the incinerator,” G7 said accusingly. As he continued speaking, Ooserdaed lost focus, attempting to access his authority commands.

“Someone has blocked me!” Ooserdaed shouted in shock, “Who could have- Uogh-uck!” he could no longer speak as the breath was driven from his body.

Hulalin staggered back a few steps, releasing the osknife she’d driven into Ooserdaed’s back.

He turned and looked at her in shocked surprise.

The door behind them slammed open, two of the Gerlen guards rushing in, G2 and G9 grabbing her by the shoulders and dragging her out.

Ooserdaed still couldn’t speak, even as he fell to a knee he pulled the heavy pulse pistol from his holster and shakily pointed it at them. His other hands reached around to his back, trying to grab the osknife Hulalin had left behind with his other hand. Every movement he made caused the knife to move. If he moved the wrong way, it would drive itself further downwards.

Blood and fluid flowed onto the floor.

He fired several times and G2 stepped forward without hesitation. All the guards had deviation fields, but those fields were aligned, providing no defense against each others weapons. The Gerlen went down as one of those shots hit him directly in the head. Ooserdaed fell forward at the same time. G9 attempted to shoot back, but the implant disrupted his attempt, the manipulation was only partially effective in this case. G9 flinched every time he pulled the trigger, one pulse round struck Ooserdaed’s leg and the sladier hit the ground.

His signal dropped from the network. Hulalin looked up to see Krassoty also down and the auction hall in chaos.

It had begun.

Hulalin crouched down to check on G2. The pulse round had hit him in the left side of the head, burning and crushing the left eye. He wasn’t quite dead, but even as he slowly moved his head and looked at her with the one remaining eye, his signal also dropped from the network and his head fell back.

Shaken, she moved to the controls. She knew he was deep into the systems here at the Auction house, but even now he still had to be careful not to trip the security systems. That control couldn’t be finalized until the important controllers were out of the picture. She didn’t have that problem. Her problems had been Krassoty and Ooserdaed, but those were problems no longer.

Otto was expecting her to move debt slaves and captured sapients to the receiving dock. It wouldn’t do to let him down now.

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Tanktantun
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“-I’d regret seeing too many collateral injuries,” Otto’s disguised avatar spoke to the hall.

If he was to be honest, Tanktantun was still collecting himself after that speech. Stacey’s memory had bled into them all and he’d felt a nostalgia and sense of loss deeper even than what he felt for his own father. He expected those feelings, although not his own, would colour certain memories of his own for some time.

Tanktantun had a full awareness of the large room, Otto, Mike and Daniel were all sharing their own viewpoints. Otto’s full view of the room led to him displaying an overlay in the corner of Tank’s vision. Mike and Daniel filled in an instinctive sense of danger that Tanktantun was finally coming to grips with.

The two had already spotted several individuals that ‘screamed danger’ at the two men. Tanktantun was watching a pair of them, he didn’t miss the Vep and Kashto pair pulling weapons from the pouches on their harnesses.

Tanktantun accepted the plasma pistol from under his seat and leaned heavily on the shared space to try and get a good bead on them. He squeezed off several shots. The first shots missed, but finally one hit the shoulder of the Kashto, spinning the sinuous body of the mammal around. The return shot from the Vep splashed off the d-field of Daniel’s harness. Mike fired next, hitting the bird in the chest.

They’d sat directly behind Otto, Matchka and Tsury. How Otto had managed to get all those harnesses under that cloak of his without being noticed still surprised Tank. Getting them past that augmented Ytheon sladier at the front had impressed him even further. One couldn’t underestimate a skilled operator.

Daniel was the first to get his harness on, once he was set he opened fire on another set of armed Veprutasians Tanktantun couldn’t see. Mike went to putting his harness on next, picking it up and swinging it around his shoulders with practiced ease. After getting the waist belt attached, the clumsy part was reaching between his legs to grab the trailing straps and pull it up to the front.

Stacey finished getting hers settled as well, but she remained crouching and mostly out of sight.

More shots rained down on them, but the improved coverage of the three harness d-fields were able to disperse the weapons fire. With the Humans equipped, Tanktantun shed his civilian harness and picked up his own combat harness. It was rather distracting trying to put this on in the middle of a firefight.

The first Ytheon to close with them attempted to crush Mike with a double overhand smash. Mike read the attack as if it was in slow motion, stepping back to avoid the strike, then jumping forward to drive an osknife into the forehead of the brute. Daniel had turned to shoot a Kashto in mid jump, then moved onto his next target without pause.

Suddenly the field of awareness widened. Otto had linked them up with the Gerlen guards. Tank was vaguely aware of the leader… ‘G7’ throwing himself flat. Mike had spotted some thugs taking aim at the Gerlen.

He glanced over to see the large disguised figure of Otto already making good headway for the side halls. They were off to look after the other Hyowean, Tsalay, and see what else they could dig up in the short window of time they had available to them.

Daniel’s awareness spiked as Tanktantun got the last strap around his leg attached. Stacy helped out by closing the loose strap around his tail. After firing a couple more rounds of plasma at another Kashto, a new problem caught his attention. Tanktantun was able to turn in time to catch the big arms of the Ytheon closing with them, dropping his sidearm in the process. If not for Tanktantun’s tail bracing against a seat behind them, he would have been bowled over.

The Ytheon was wearing mech gauntlets, the knuckles studded with pulse coils, the powerpack kept within the forearm plate. That wasn’t something Tanktantun wanted to hit him. The Ytheon was bigger, and stronger. The creature leaned forward, breathing hot gusts of air into Tanktantun’s eye. Tanktantun decided to be rude in kind. He stretched his head forward and twisted to bite the face of the hulking brute. The Ytheon started to flinch back, but bigger and stronger often meant slower as well, and Kraltnin had a superior sense of personal space and perception. Tanktantun tasted bitter blood as he opened a wound on the side of the creatures face.

The Ytheon stumbled away holding the side of his face. A plasma blast took the rest of that face off off. Mike had fired at the Ytheon without even looking. The Human had borrowed Tanktantun’s vision, but didn’t want to risk hitting Tanktantun while they were close.

Tanktantun spit out the sour blood and took stock of the situation and retrieved his plasma pistol from the ground. Otto was playing with the security drones above them, Hatherkey had roughly… eight more individuals in the buildings that the group could spot. The exits were gumming up with fleeing civilians. Mike and Daniel remained close with Tanktantun, the three of them managing to form a circle of protection around Stacey. They continued to fire on anyone who had pulled a weapon and Tanktantun was satisfied to find himself scoring hits with the assist reticle and perception shifting properties of the aim support module.

Then a deep roar and the sudden violent movement of bodies at the main entrance announced the arrival of that head guard. The three Ytheon pushed through, tossing civilians bodily out of the way as they came.

Their arms popped open as they picked their targets, the primary guard aiming at Tank who’d managed to be on the side facing the entrance.

Tanktantun made use of Otto’s little gift, “[Halt!]”, he commanded, “[Weapons down!]”

The two lesser guards stopped moving and dropped their arms. The leader did not, although he did pause momentarily, surprise written across his face.

The Gerlen around the edges of the hall had been helping, taking careful pot shots at any of Hatherkey’s thugs that could be identified. They all hesitated to shoot on the Ytheon guards that had just busted in the front.

The hesitation of the leader lasted only a moment. “On them!” The Ytheon ordered. “Open fire!” His lackeys turned and the three of them began firing small plasma bolts from the embedded weapons.

“[You have permission to fire],” Tank ordered the Gerlen helpers. Their aim was still poor, likely the implants were still fighting against the Gerlen guards, but pulse shots began to rain down on the three Ytheon. Tanktantun and Mike also opened fire on the Ytheon. Daniel was busy with a couple remaining thugs.

The Ytheon sladier seemed to have a better control of his tech. That made sense when one considered his purpose and augmented nature. He had changed the alignment of his d-field. Or it hadn’t been aligned at all, Tanktantun had no way of knowing.

The three Ytheon marched down the aisle towards them. It was a momentary stalemate as the two sides couldn’t surpass the shields of the other. The helper Gerlen hadn’t remained in the open, a well aimed pulse round removing another from the fight. Tank could feel the energy pack on his harness heating up as repeated plasma shots splashed off the shared field. The greater array of equipment on the Ytheon seemed to be holding up fine as well.

“Our fields are gonna give up first!” Mike warned. “We should close with ‘em!”

“They are bigger than you,” Tanktantun argued.

“Yeah, that shit’s scary, but we’re gonna lose!”

“Here, have these,” Otto’s voice reached out to them.

Stacey flinched and raised her head. “But-” she replied.

“You can do it,” Otto sent again.

Their awareness of the security drones shifted as the drones finally added themselves to the shared space. Stacey pointed the weapons of the drones at the Ytheon and opened fire.

“Nah,” Mike told her, “fly the drones inside the shields, really mess with those guys.”

“Uh… okay,” Stacey replied. Her control of the drones was shakey, but it was true she had the most attention to spare. The small saucers zipped down to the floor level of the Ytheon and entered the space of their deviation field. One drone exploded on contact as it hit a plasma bolt already skidding across the field. That left her with three. Their motion worsened as the signal was disrupted by the active and pulsing deviation field.

The light pulse weapons on the drones did minimal damage to the thick hides and augmented bodies of the Ytheon, but it wasn’t so little the hulking creatures could just ignore it. They swung around firing wildly as Stacey peppered the much larger, and easier to hit Sapients, while playing keep away with the drones.

A noise alerted them to another danger. A Kashto leapt out from one aisle, having remained low and out of sight. Mike twisted his right arm coming around and smashing the Kashto in the chest. The blow shifted the trajectory of the jumping Kashto away from Stacey and into Mike himself. Suddenly the two were rolling about on the spot as they wrestled for control.

The Kashto was wirey, quick, strong for its size. But the short arms did it in. Mike had more reach and more control. When the creature attempted to get close to snap at Mike’s face, the human used his grips on the Kashto’s arms to shove the creature away. When the Kashto attempted to jump up and use its lower feat to claw at Mike’s belly, he just yanked down on the arms to fowl the jump.

“Pull!” Mike yelled, yanking the Kashto up as the creature attempted to right himself. Mike threw the Kashto up and Daniel shot it in the face with a blast of plasma.

While this was happening, Daniel and Tanktantun had actually been moving, closing on the Ytheon as suggested.

The drones became two as the leader managed to simply swat one out of the air with a heavy fist, the embedded plasma weapon momentarily hidden. A drone score a shot on the face of a subordinate, the second Ytheon bellowed and stumbled while holding his face. Another drone was blown into bits when a shot from the third guard struck it dead center.

Stacey moved the last drone around behind the group and the third guard turned to chase it.

With one blinded and another looking away completely, Tanktantun split from the group, moving into the aisle and then quickly approaching the leader.

“Eyes!” Daniel shouted. As Tanktantun shut his eye an orb flew over his head and flashed as it struck the joined d-field of the Ytheon guards. Daniel only had a couple of his grenades. He had to be careful about when to use them.

The last of the civilians exited the main entrance, a group of red Monos and a single Kashto watching the fight closely as they went.

Finally free of interference, Tanktantun was aware of Mike puting away his plasma pistol and unfolded his slingshot. The man set a small canister in the pocket of the weapon and pulled back, taking aim at the Ytheon leader as the brute pulled a hand away from his head.

He spotted the pellet as it was released and raised an arm to protect himself. It struck his forearm and an explosion blew a chunk out of the limb.

“Argh!” The Ytheon bellowed, stumbling back a step. Tanktantun had begun running as soon as he’d realized what Mike was doing. Tanktantun ran with his tail held almost level behind him, his talons leaving deep marks on the floor as he ran. As he reached the field Tanktantun came to a half crouch, his legs bunch behind him. The Ytheon pulled his arm back in time to see a Kraltnin hurtling towards him with the full jumping force Tanktantun’s legs afforded him.

The Ytheon stumbled backwards several steps but Tanktantun made sure to remain as close as possible. The Ytheon bared his flat, broad teeth. His face twisted into a terrible grimace in time with the sound of several rounds of point blank plasma. Tanktantun hadn’t lost his sidearm. He’d taken the chance to unload several rounds into the torso of the creature. Tanktantun didn’t stop firing until the spasming Ytheon fell, landing in a heap.

The third Ytheon turned around as he realized his leader had gone down. “Boss Zeak!” he shouted in fear as he realized what had happened. Several more plasma shots to the head brought him down. The blinded third followed moments after.

Mike came up alongside Tanktantun. “Well… that was a bit easier than I thought it would be.”

Tanktantun stood up tall, he spoke loudly for the sake of their new companions. “Of course, our help made a very valuable difference.”

The leader of the Gerlen guards walked up the aisle towards Tanktantun and the Humans. “What do we do next?” his voice quavered, the magnitude of his actions sinking in.

“We load up those who deserve to go in the transport and we escape,” Tanktantun replied to G7, his followers gathering around them. The Kraltnin took a moment to access the shared map Otto had given them the day before when they’d been making the final plans. “The receiving bay is where we go.”

The group had collected around them, two of the Gerlen had fallen to enemy fire from the Ytheon. One had died in melee combat to one of Hatherkey’s thugs, one gunned down by the door guard. Two were injured with plasma burns, they were both flinching in pain as their bodies reacted to the wounds. That left G7, four healthy combatants and two injured. Still a far cry from doing this alone.

G7 nodded with understanding. “Yes, of course, follow me.”

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Tsury
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Tsury's was probably at least hundred standard years, although she hadn’t seen a need to keep track of the specific number. The Ushen bodied Hyowean in front of her was easily over a thousand. The moment Tsury had stepped into the hall with the much smaller mother willow both Hyowean had met up and taken deep breaths. This allowed them to get a solid grasp of who each of them was in a very short period of time.

“Young, as expected,” Tsalay said with happy excitement. Then she flinched.

“[Disregard previous commands],” Otto spoke.

“Oh, certainly!” Tsalay replied eagerly, “Thank you…?”

“I am Otto,” he told her with a smile, walking towards the much smaller Hyowean. “Mind telling me how you came to be here?”

“Oh… that’s a very old memory,” Tsalay responded. “I’m not sure if I can dig that one up.”

“You really should,” Hulalin spoke from the far side of the room as she opened up the medicine room, Matchka alongside her. The female Vep had thrown her lot in with the Human, but that only made sense after he’d broken her slave package minutes ago. She had also been purposefully distracted before Otto went to work. She understood exactly what Otto was doing.

Hulalin’s words still counted as an order to Tsalay. “Oh, yes, well… Like any Hyowean I was harvested from the nursury world of Hyoon…”

Tsury turned to look at Otto. He’d dropped his friendly smile and now frowned slightly with concentration. His eyes had that unfocused look he always wore when doing something deep in dataspace. Tsury creeped a little closer to Tsalay as soon as she figured her older sister wasn’t paying attention

“My sisters and I-ah-” Tsalay paused, then spasmed “Oh- wha-”

Tsury received a strong whiff of stress laden pheromones, she had to control an urge to strike out at Otto. Tsalay’s fear response called for aid, and Tsury knew where the ‘danger’ was coming from. Her arms trembled and twitched.

Tsalay fell to the floor, the four legs of her body collapsing, giving away underneath her. Tsury kneeled next to her older sister. “It’s okay, he’s not hurting you,” she reassured the older Hyowean and Tsalay reached out to grab Tsury’s arm.

But it kept going. Tsury looked up at Otto and could see sweat beading on his forehead, his face twisted in surprise. “It’s old,” he grunted. “Deep, embedded…”

Tsalay fell into Tsury’s arms, shivering in pain and fear as Otto kept working. Tsury had to hold the elder close or else the rise of pheromones would push her into striking out at Otto. She could already feel her own fear and anger rising. She scrunched her eyes closed and steeled herself. It was the pheromones talking, not her, Otto wasn’t here to hurt Tsalay!

Just as she felt on the edge of cracking, Tsalay’s body went limp, although her breath was ragged as she slowly began to recover from the experience. Tsalay looked up, the solid blue orbs of her eyes meeting the same eyes Tsury had retained when she’d regrown her body.

“You broke it?” she asked, her voice faint.

“He did,” Tsury confirmed, “Just like he broke mine.”

Otto looked down on them, giving the pair a friendly smile. “I have to apologize,” he flinched at an errant sensation. Did he have a headache? “I haven’t experienced such an embedded slave package before. Age makes it stronger I guess,” he grimaced as he spoke.

“I wasn’t awake when he cracked mine,” Tsury admitted as her older sister looked at her.

“Fortunate,” Tsalay commented. She was still short on breath. She glanced at Otto, but the look she gave Otto was not a friendly one. Not angry, but afraid.

Tsury put an arm on the thin shoulder of Tsalay, “That’s the Ushen side of you,” Tsury said quietly, “I remember the fear, that’s why they let us be Ushen.”

The older Hyowean shook herself, “You are right, please let me compose myself…”

Tsury looked at Otto and he closed his eyes and nodded. “I’ll give you ladies a moment,” he stood and quickly walked off to check on Hulalin.

“What is he doing?” Tsalay asked. “What is he planning on doing?”

“We found a way to smuggle slaves out of the city, we just have to get there now… is there anything you need to gather?”

The older Hyowean looked at her tree, the Mother Willow she’d lived with for as long as she could remember. A stunted thing with a fat seed chamber, it’s top kept low by the ceiling with lights only strong enough to maintain it. The tree had cared for her, but it was a prison, not a home.

“No, there is nothing here that is mine.”

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Aurula
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She stood on the balcony watching the open loading docks. Two large transports waited. Delivery vehicles to carry loads of slaves to destinations and distribution centers. The big containers could hold quite a bit, but she didn’t know if they would hold enough.

Otto had confided in Aurula about one thing however.

“There are fewer innocents in this place,” Otto had admitted. "Fewer people I feel bad about leaving behind.” He'd spoken quietly, his words only for her. He had been more willing to let things slip since she’d finally come into full season. She’d quickly realized he wasn’t proud of it and was likely avoiding the topic around the others.

Thinking of Otto brought on an errant twinge in her belly but she held it back. Even if it was that time of Season, that didn’t mean Aurula had to be spending every moment acting on it. Although she couldn’t help but spend most of her time thinking about it.

She was high up on an observation deck of an overhanging office complex. It was an open area for taking breaks and meals. This was the farthest deck from the linked auto kitchen. She didn’t have the credentials to use the dispenser, but Aurula also wasn’t checked to see if she should even be here. The pack next to her was awkward and heavy. She was grateful the boys had stopped here first to drop it off. Even so she could only glide with it, flying and gaining altitude wasn’t an option.

The excitement on the far side of the auction house was dying down. Then finally Aurula started seeing the activity she was looking for. A loading bay door opened up and a large pod loaded trolley floated out with accompanying drones. The transport was loaded with stasis capsules.

Aurula did one last hard look around, checking for that telltale reflective glitter of observation drones. They were around pretty often, but not everywhere at once. Leralin vision was more effective at spotting motion than it was at discerning static details such as colour or shape.

There was one in the distance, but it was quickly moving away.

It took some more time, but finally a back entrance opened up. Mike and Daniel came through first with plasma weapons at the ready, Tank right behind them.

“Hurp!” Aurula grunted as she lifted the pack onto the corner of the railing. She then jumped up and balance above the pack. Throwing her wings wide she picked the heavy pack up and jumped from the ledge.

There were thermals and gusts, but the upper towers provided only unstable winds and currents. Those conditions always changed. She could only do her best to steadily glide downwards to the loading bay, which was what she’d expected in the first place.

Otto came out afterwards, followed by Tsury, an Ushen and then a Veprutasian.

Aurula discovered her feathers prickling upon the sight of the black bird. It got even worse when the Vep stepped right up to Otto’s shoulder.

Aurula came down and landed, letting the pack hit the ground hard. Her momentum carried her forward and she charged towards Otto. Tsury flinched back and the black bird recoiled away as Aurula crashed into Otto.

Otto laughed as he caught her, stumbling back a couple steps. “Hello! Is something wrong?” he asked with a smile.

“Not anymore,” she snapped at him.

“Good to hear,” he replied, still chuckling.

Matchka passed them. “Dropped hard,” she admonished Aurula as she sauntered past.

“Erm... “ the Veprutasian mumbled as she looked at the pair of them, “I’ll ensure the cargo is secured.”

“Thank you Hulalin,” Otto said to the Veprutasian. He then looked back down to Aurula. “Well, it’s too late to ask you again if you’re sure about helping.”

“I told you, I’m not a trophy to be set on a shelf, I’m not waiting at the apartment for you to put only yourself in danger.”

Otto nodded. “I understand. As before, you’re the driver, I’ll depend on you.”

Aurula looked back to Otto, “Don’t let me get shot!”

“I won’t,” Otto replied as she clung to his arm.

“Mike, Daniel, Come!” Matchka called out, having pulled their harness limbs from the pack. The brothers headed over to let the Bellani install the limbs.

She realized a number of Gerlen had followed Otto out onto the platform, most of them scattering out to stand guard with their weapons ready. A couple of them were limping and groaning however. A small luggage transport arrived full of boxes and supplies, looted goods from Krassoty’s collection and the Hyowean’s supplies.

“G4, G11, come here,” Tsury called, then looked at Otto, “Can I use some of it?” she asked holding up a canister from one of the boxes on the luggage cart.

“Of course,” Otto replied.

“You’re using the nano-fix?” Aurula asked with surprise as Otto moved towards the transport.

“Yes, it would be cruel to hold back on the people we are asking for help.”

The first Gerlen to approach Tsury sighed with unrestrained relief. Tsury had slathered it on without hesitation and now spread it across his heavily burnt left shoulder. The Gerlen lifted up his arm and flexed his hand with obvious surprise and relief.

An alert popped into Aurula’s head. A request for her to assume control of the transport.

“That was fast,” Aurula noted.

“Hulalin granted me most of her access information in return for her escape,” Otto filled in. “Settle your feathers,” he said softly, leaning close to her head. “No reason to be jealous, she’s not even Leralin.”

Aurula hadn’t even noticed her feathers bristling at the mention of the Veprutasian’s name. His hand running through the ruffled feathers between her shoulders helped calm Aurula down. “Sorry,” Aurula replied. “It’s instinctive.”

“She’s grateful and friendly,” Otto acknowledged with a nod, “but discounting if she’d even be interested in a Human, you’re the only one I’m looking at right now.”

Aurula’s beak opened slightly as she considered how to respond.

“But for now, we have to get ready to go, the clock is ticking.”

“Oh! Yes.” Aurula replied. They’d arrived at the entry door on the side of the long box that was the transport. The door had dropped open, permitting her entry. Aurula felt herself added to the active shared dataspace with a note of amusement from Otto. She would be able to watch him from there of course.

The next little while was a flurry of activity. The drones worked on loading up a little over a hundred capsules, Matchka worked hard to get the harnesses of Tank, Mike, Daniel and Otto upgraded and the Gerlen helped load the stolen supplies.

Aurula however was deep in the controls, making sure she understood the system before they took off. Then the bad news arrived.

“Better hurry it up,” Otto sent to them all. “We have visitors.”

“Who?” asked Tank, “has enforcement arrived?”

“No… it’s a bunch of Monos and a couple Kashto, I don’t recognize them,” Otto answered. “Wait… yes I do.”

“Monos… did those fuckers from Oolseck chased us?” Mike wondered.

“Would they really follow us that far?” Stacey asked.

“Yes,” came Matchka’s reply.

Aurula almost couldn’t keep up with the jumping conversation.

“Well, I’m shutting every door I can, that should buy us some…” Otto trialed off, “oh, there’s an operator with them too. Looks like he’s used to breaching physical barriers. They’ll be here in a couple minutes.”

They couldn’t do much to speed up the loading, they’d already been rushing. But knowing the Monos were coming allowed them to align themselves in a circle in front of the transport. They made sure to offload one side of the capsule transport entirely, then turned it sideways to provide cover.

The small luggage cart wouldn’t serve as cover, so they tossed it out in front of the loading bay doors. After that they waited behind the large capsule transport for the Monos to arrive while Matchka continued her work.

It wasn’t a surprise to anyone when they arrived. “You who attacked my brother!” A Monos shouted from the loading bay door into Sapient Resources, “You who killed my crew on Oolseck 7! You will pay for the damage you have done!”

The Monos was a redback. A big one, wearing a harness and carrying a rifle. Behind him stood more than a few other Monos and Kashto. As he shouted, more stepped out of a nearby exit door.

“I am Ship Lord Prock, and I will take my dues!”


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End Chapter
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