Original Content Bought and Sold. Chapter 41, Arc 3

MyNameMeansBentNose

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You know, I should know better than to let myself get wrapped up in a political thing when I'm preparing for posting. Anyways, more cliffhangers! I'll let you know this much. Nothing I tease should wait more than a chapter or two at this stage in the game.

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Previous | Beginning | Technology | Wiki | Next
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Chapter 41
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The trip back up to the ring had been uneventful thus far, which Matchka could appreciate.

The first problem had been making their way through the city proper while avoiding notice. Nualula had sent various groups scurrying off in pursuit of their own goals. But she had decided to bounce this group around much like Otto would bounce his dataspace signal to confuse notice. And she had done it with the transport tubes.

The trick here was that Red Tail had a good understanding of the shortcuts. Passages through the tunnels much like the one where they had offloaded the slaves from the Sapient Resources auction house. They had transitioned through three separate shortcuts, the last one taking them directly into the central passage straight up to the ring.

Matchka had seen the sweeping views granted by being in orbit enough times that it didn’t quite raise the fur on her tail anymore. That didn’t stop the Humans from appreciating the sight, however. The whole way up they had been stuck to their windows, looking out onto the world. Even Tanktantun had enjoyed the sight, he had spent much of his life planet bound as well.

At this moment, as they neared the ring itself, Matchka was staring across the seat at the Ytheon who had accompanied them. Crawk had a presence, the feel of a person who knew how to handle himself. He was a rather reassuring figure to have along for this excursion. Tanktantun who was sitting next to Crawk seemed a little smaller by comparison just for the difference in experience.

Although frightening to look at. She had seen black Ytheon before, but most of them were actually more of a deep brown. Crawk here was pitch black with reddish eyes. She could see the composite patchwork in his horn plate as well. The big Ytheon was wearing a bulky harness that was clearly made for combat. She could also see the trace glittering of electronics through his forearms. Crawk was heavily augmented.

As she watched, the Ytheon turned his head towards Otto.

“Human… Otto,” Crawk called.

Otto had been sitting with his arms crossed and his eyes closed. The man was less moved by things like the orbital view, and a little more detached in general. He turned his head and opened his eyes to look at Crawk. “What can I do for you boss?”

Crawk was in charge of the combat side of this excursion. To his credit, Otto had given up the authority with grace. Matchka had felt like Otto was waiting for Tanktantun to take it from him for awhile, but the Green Kraltnin hadn’t realized it quite yet. Or perhaps he was just waiting for Tanktantun to be ready and Otto was just watching in the meantime. Either way the Human continued to say nothing, and the brothers seemed to think of themselves as fighters, so the ranks remained static.

All this meant that when Otto said ‘boss’ it was not at all disparaging.

“You missed the chance to free Chase.”

Otto grimaced. “Yeah, I did.”

Crawk and Tanktantun both were sitting on a deep bench, Crawk with his hands on his knees. A single large digit tapped slowly but rhythmically. “He is a good friend. I would see him freed.”

Otto’s gaze shifted upwards. “Hmm,” the man mumbled in thought. “I’m thinking there is some interest in us specifically on, uhh, Kruent’s part. We might be able to lure Chase out.”

“... Interesting,” Crawk replied. “I will raise that point with Red Tail.”

“Sounds like a deal.”

“What, ya guys gonna ambush Chase?” Daniel asked. “Ya sure that’s a good idea?”

“It’s not like we’re planning to do it all half cocked,” Otto argued. “But that's for after this.” Otto waved at the window. They were coming up on the orbital ring fast. The tether points tended to see the most traffic and today was no exception.

“Oh, interesting,” Matchka spoke up. Activating her harness, Matchka reached into the pack on her back, searching for a set of goggles with one of the harness limbs.
“What did you see?” Mike asked from where he was sitting across from Daniel.

“Moment,” Matchka replied. Her hand found the goggles and pulled the eyewear out. Carefully pulling the band of the goggles around her upper ears, Matchka grabbed the connector from the back of the goggles and plugged them into a port on her harness.

Matchka shared her vision as she zoomed in on the ship that had just come into sight. She didn’t have the resolution to zoom *right* into the ship, but she could let them see it in its glory. The ship flexed as it swam through space. A broad oceanic body with great fins steering it through space, every patch of flesh covered in technology. Matchka didn’t know much about them, but she did suspect the Flock learned how to grow metal, conduits and other technological necessities. Similar to how brain implants were able to grow rather than being forcibly ‘installed’.

Matchka had seen one of them skimming the surface of a gas giant once, the gravitic waves of its fins creating wakes in the atmosphere of the gas planet. It had been quite a sight.

“What the fuck is that?” Daniel asked.

“Zhet’ Nestin,” Matchka named it, “Also, ‘Tender of the Flock’. Living ship.”

“It looks like a cyber shark!” Mike replied with a note of awe. “It’s damn huge!”

“It’s a ‘Tender of the Flock’, so like, a [Shepherd]?” Otto asked.

With Otto stressing the word, Matchka could make out the subtle difference through the auto translation. That the ‘Shepherd’ was a specific type of tender was about the best she could grasp. “Close,” Matchka replied, that was the best answer she could give him.

They weren’t able to get the best look at the beast. The transport capsule rose higher and the Zhet’Nestin was obscured by the orbital ring. It wasn’t much longer before they arrived at their stop.

The Tube didn’t actually stop at the main transport station where most individuals would disembark to their next transport or walk to their destination. Matchka was rather relieved actually. With that much activity around someone was just as likely to step on her tail. It had happened before.

But they didn’t even see the inside of the station, their Transport Capsule arrived at the main junction, a buzzing hive of activity, and passed right on through to the small private tunnel. The upper districts and the orbital tether transport tubes were built from crystal, allowing one to enjoy the views. Up here in this little private tunnel it was all bulkheads and walls, affording them a view of not much at all.

It wasn’t long until they arrived at the end of the tunnel. The end point of the tunnel was a flat wall with a small pier and doorway. There was a Gerlen with a very bright suit waiting for them. The Transport capsule parked itself next to a second capsule, extending a plank out to the pier as the capsule entry door opened up. Crawk was the first one out. Matchka was the next to follow.

“Piderby.”

“Welcome Crawk,” Piderby said with a nod. He turned to the group as they exited. “Otto I presume?” the Gerlen asked as he approached the leader of the Humans. “And you would be Tanktantun,” he said to the Kraltnin as Tanktantun arrived next to Otto.

Matchka’s lower right ear twitched and swivelled as the brothers began talking to each other.

“Why purple?” Daniel whispered to Mike in the background.

“I dunno!” Mike whispered back.

“We spoke briefly I recall,” Otto replied to Piderby, unphased by the conversation going on behind him.

“Indeed, If you will follow me,” Piderby bowed his head and gestured to the door behind them, “Chack is not allowing us through without saying hello.”

“He’s like a gay butler!” Daniel whispered. “It hurts my eyes.”

“Shh!” Mike responded.

Crawk led the way and Otto was next. Matchka padded forwards to stay next to the heavy set Human. Tank fell behind slightly. The brothers followed and Piderby was last.

Otto visibly twitched next to Matchka.

“Otto?” Matchka asked.

“Well, we just got scanned. Pretty good too, I don’t think anyone else could have noticed.”

Matchka’s burnt ear flicked. No she hadn’t noticed at all.

The corridor extended for some time, all bland grey metal composite walls. They passed a few doorways, but everything appeared to be sealed, if only for the moment.

The hallways ended at one last doorway that hissed open as they arrived. Crawk didn’t hesitate to step through, although Otto did pause for just a moment.

They found themselves in a hall on the ground floor. They had come out a side entrance, but following Crawk took them right to the center with some large entry doors behind them. Along the sides of the walls were stairwells up to the second level. Overlooking them was a balcony with several Monos and Veprutasians, and the leader himself. Matchka didn’t miss that all of the Monos here were black furred. That was probably a positive development for them.

Chack was a big Monos, mostly black with stripes of grey underneath his arms and along his chest. From what Matchka could see Chack was wearing a black leather vest with his own harness overtop. He was leaning with one heavy arm across the railing of the balcony, the hand of that arm cupping the elbow of his right arm. Chack had his right hand up underneath his jaw, scratching his chin in thought as he looked down on them.

“You’re the ones giving Hatherkey all that trouble?” he asked, nearly chuckling as he spoke. His voice had a dangerous rumble to it.

Matchka glanced at the others in the room. There was a handful of individuals, all of them clearly augmented in some way. Most of them were other Monos. One Monos stood with his upper arms crossed, but those arms were no longer flesh and blood, only emulating the natural appearance of the males old limbs. Another had all his limbs, but those limbs were filled with artificial cords and circuitry. A couple of Monos had new sensors built into their skulls, one with a single eye replaced by a lense, another with a full replacement skullcap starting with his eyes and extending backwards.

The Veprutasians were all aggressively modified as well. Matchka could see one with artificial wings, and more than a few had replacement sensors in their heads. Whether those mods were to repair a wound or installed for the sake of self improvement, she couldn’t know.

Chack was the only one who appeared normal, but she suspected he was anything but.

“Yes, we are,” Otto replied with a nod.

“Hmm. Piderby here told me you’re looking for a ship,” Chack waved at the Gerlen in the purple suit. “I have a friend you may like! Ha! She is also the one who will be helping you get into that receiving warehouse.”

“The warehouse you would like to secure after we’ve busted open the doors.”

“Indeed! It’s a joint holding between Hatherkey and a larger entity known as Retidin Arms,” the hand under Chack’s chin waved casually. “If you are willing to go make a mess, I will be happy to clean up after you, ha. And of course, you will have met a ship captain who may be willing to help you afterwards.”

“That… sounds fantastic,“ Otto admitted, “So thank you for that. As for the target, I’ve seen the basic plans for that warehouse,” Otto noted. “Their defenses seem rather impressive.”

“That’s why it’s a favour! Do your best for both our sakes.”

Matchka looked up at Otto to see a bemused smile on his face. “Fair enough. Any doctors to spare while we are at it?”

“Hahaha,” Chack leaned back as he laughed. “None that will be going with you! You will have to find one of those elsewhere.”

“Well, it was worth a try,” Otto admitted. “Otherwise, unless you have a request, I think we have an understanding.”

“Do we?” Chack looked off to the side, not looking at anything in particular. “My operator says you pinged him back, very good, you pass. If you couldn’t play catch with him in dataspace, you wouldn’t be making any headway into where you’re going. As such, we do have an understanding.” Chack waved at one of his Veprutasian helpers.

The bird jumped from the balcony and floated down to where the group was standing. He inclined his head as he approached.

“Demail here will accompany you on my behalf, do try to return him in one piece.”

Otto’s face turned serious. “We will endeavor to ensure everyone remains in one piece.”

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Matchka
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“Hey Matchka, what sorta ship is that?” Daniel asked, one of his hands currently doing some good work around her ears.

The young Human had inadvertently helped her relax while waiting on the hidden spacedock. The shuttle that had come in to grab them was a typical grey torpedo, a cheap and abundant model often seen in use. Or at least, that had been her first impression. After looking at the limited seating within the cheap vehicle she had taken up position on the lap of the Human with the best hands.

“Don’t know,” Matchka admitted. “Unfamiliar.”

The pilot was a Tak’tin pilot, somewhat rare in this area, but skilled and professional. If there was anything that was bothering her it was that the sounds of the shuttle were… off. It was subtle, there was no way on this side of the Galaxy that the Humans would hear it, but with her hearing, it was unmistakable. Someone had done some very good work to have this ship look normal and be completely different. But nothing was quite the same.

There was no way the others would notice, the hearing of a Bellani was unmatched outside of augmentation.

That made her curious, naturally, and she started running a passive scan. Her next realization was that the shuttle was larger than it should be. Her simulation suggested it had a bigger footprint, and there was less space inside it as well. By making it look like a very common shuttle, the builder had managed to make something new and hide it in plain sight.

And the large ship they were coming up on was unfamiliar to her as well. It looked like a large flattened raindrop on its side with the bulk of the drop towards the front. It was primarily grey with streaks of tasteful red and pink decorations. There were small wings extending vertically and horizontally from the backend of the ship and various pits scattered evenly across the hull displaying the location of some of its defenses.

It didn’t match any design she knew. The more she saw, the more unsettled Matchka was becoming. Daniel’s hand scratching around her ears was very welcome.

“Interesting ship,” Mike commented. “What’s it called?”

The Tak’tin turned his head and told them.

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Otto
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He played with the gauntlet he’d just picked up. The new piece of tech on his right arm felt seamless and moved naturally. It was also nice to finally have four fingers again as well. He flexed the thumb and four fingers in order, doing his best to get used to it. The previous hand had been somewhat clumsy, but he had become accustomed to the old thing. This was… quite a bit different. Especially with the manipulation schema that came loaded with it.

Although Matchka continued to glare at the new limb. The moment she had understood the nature of that ship and those on board, Matchka had been unhappy and suspicious. Even now her tail was twitching unhappily.

The gauntlet reached up almost to his elbow. His mouth twisted with bemusement as he remembered receiving the thing. 'putting it on’ was an interesting experience for sure.

It felt seamless, but didn't look it. It had the look of the mechanical with bared joints, cabling around the knuckles and pads on the fingers. The palm was padded as well, but the back looked like joined component blocks. A red light glowed from near the pinky knuckle. His previous hand had come with straps at the elbow and upper arm to keep the connecting wire in place. This one had a segmented 'tail’ that flexed as needed and stuck to his arm whichever way he moved it. It gripped the entirety of the rest of his lower arm to stay in place.

He really needed to get a proper port installed… or grown? Either way a data cable needed to be run up through his arm to make that work

Suddenly the light on the hand flickered. Otto nodded as the signal arrived. “We're almost there, everyone set?”

The shared space bloomed with Crawk in the center of it. Demail joined in without trouble as well. Aside from that, Matchka, Mike, Daniel and Tank took all their normal places.

The torpedo like shuttle was coming up quick on the space dock. In a few more moments they would be upon the orange field that kept the atmosphere where the workers wanted it.

Otto mentally ran through the checks on his gear. He had his plasma rifle, another d-plate shield on his single limb and of course had the new hand. The harness d-field seemed to be up to snuff, but instead of a back-up d-field he was wearing a PNE. That would keep them with air while they were outside in case of emergency. If the people in the warehouse thought to turn the outer field off, they would need the backup. Even if the Personal Native Units did conflict with the Deviation fields. Otto was also holding a large weapon that looked like a bazooka for all intents and purposes. It was a single shot weapon, but it wasn’t made for explosions.

The brothers carried their kinetic rifles, as well as their own d-plate shields. They also had the same set up for the d-field module and the PNE unit, although the pair of them did have a brace of grenades hanging off their harnesses. Matchka and Tank had stuck with their weapons rather than let the shields weigh them down.

Crawk and Demail didn't have the spare d-plate shield. They only had the d-field module and a PNE module. As for weapons, it was a light plasma rifle for Demail, and a heavy cannon for Crawk.

Next to them a group of six Tak’tin waited, all of them wearing rather impressive armor suits. Powered armor to shore up their flimsier looking bodies. Their armor had much the same design as Otto’s gauntlet, but none of the suits actually quite matched each other. They all varied in plating and module placement giving each of them their own character. It had been awhile since Otto had seen the fuzzy mantis like creatures. Their small manipulator arms remained in close, protected by their armor. The sickle arms were armored and reinforced, a mechanical blade covering their own natural weapons. The suits came with oscillating sickles. They seemed to be running through their own checks.

As for the target, there were three piers sticking out from this little section of the docks. One of those piers, the center pier, was empty. On the left was a large transport in the process of being offloaded. On the right, a small inactive shuttle. They had considered waiting a couple hours for the big ship to leave. That would give them less problems to worry about during the attack. In the end they had decided that particular transport looked relatively small. Something they might steal and put it to use instead.

There was a second personnel transport on the third pier, but it was powered down and silent. They were still waiting to see how that turned out.

The whole zone they were looking at was embedded some distance into the ring superstructure. It wasn’t so easy to zip in there without notice, although that’s not to say the whole area was without spots to avoid notice. There were plenty of docking points for moving stock as well as several repair and maintenance shops for ships of various sizes. As they flew by Otto could see a public hub, a restaurant visible with numerous patrons enjoying their meals.

But their target was pretty deep in. The part that had them scared was the likelihood of weapons having been set up to repel trouble. The group was still operating under the assumption that Hatherkey expected this attack. Granted anything large enough to damage a ship was likely to get that warehouse in a lot of trouble. Collateral damage was a very real possibility. But a shuttle and the people aboard it were a different matter.

“All ready?” The Tak’tin pilot asked.

Crawk was standing at the side door, ready to be the first one out. He glanced at each of them in turn. “Yes, we are prepared.”

The shuttle flew past the area and out of sight of the window Otto had been looking into. It pulled in close to the wall. “Activating localized sensory jamming,” the pilot reported before turning them around.

“This gonna work?” Daniel asked.

“Yes,” Matchka replied. “Station confuses sensors.”

“So if we weren’t in so close the jamming wouldn’t work?” Mike wondered.

“No, other methods for near space,” the Bellani explained.

“Oh yeah, they’re watching for the usual scramble effect aren’t they?” Mike recalled. Otto figured the brother was referring to the fuzzy appearance ships out in the open adopted when they charged their hulls.

The shuttle passed the window again, heading inwards. They passed a few other docks and some very light traffic on their way. It was only a couple minutes before they were right up in close to the warehouse they had spied on from afar.

“They will realize soon,” The pilot warned. They were almost to the atmospheric field.

And then they were through the field. And then a couple of crates made themselves known by popping open. The turrets within opened fire on the shuttle, throwing arcs across the deviation field. The shuttle was fine, the pilot had raised the field only moments before.

Individuals started spilling out onto the dock. Kashto, Veprutasians, a couple Ytheon and some Kraltnin. A bunch of them who had started on the dock also started clearing off. The workers were changing places with the fighters. They could see the hangar doors of the warehouse and the cargo bay doors of the ship closing.

Crawk was holding a bar on the roof and didn’t react to the momentum of the shuttle. He was holding still through sheer strength. The rest of them had to hold onto the seats they were all strapped into. Marshaling the processing power he’d been lent, Otto dug into the dataspace as they closed in.

There were two targets, the docked transport ship and the building itself. He hit the ship dataspace hard. And it was a hard wall indeed.

[Ramping up suite] Otto sent to his ally as he pushed his visualization into existence with the shuttle as his foundation. He fed much more power into the image and imprint of his castle than he normally would have thought necessary. Just like Stoyaf had taught Otto how to hide attacks within the conceptual space, he would now use it to camouflage the real guns. [Screen engaged].

[Thank you Otto, beginning assault], The SI responded.

Otto began raising defensive barriers to maintain the screen. It was only moments before the counterattacks started coming in. Otto flinched as the impact of it shook the space and he hit his mental switch to up his control. It would be about the initial battle in this case.This battle would truly be settled in the initial salvos. He was humbled watching the SI go to work. He was no match for the speed of the Mother.

If there was a major difference between the Cliffside station on the ring and The Peaks below, it was the availability of AI and SI cores. The ship they were assaulting had an AI core. Their new allies had an SI. Otto was more than glad to have the back-up, although, he found himself missing SPIRE’s presence. He had to struggle to keep himself focused.

Overload attacks came in from the opposing AI core of the transport, but Otto’s bolstered space weathered the attack. Something he wouldn’t be able to do when he got too far from this little ship.

The shuttle landed directly next to the transport ship and Crawk rushed out. Mike and Daniel followed directly behind the Ytheon, Tank was next, Matchka in his shadow and Otto at the rear. Otto picked up the bazooka, waiting for the onboard scanner to pick out its target. A reticle appeared on his augmented vision, zoning in on the closest dataspace node within the ship. It locked in and Otto fired.

The spike sunk into the hull of the ship without trouble and the new connection bloomed into existence. The spike was an antennae, allowing the attack on the AI core of the transport to ramp up further.

From behind Otto the six Tak’tin rushed out and fired similar weapons to Otto’s own, planting more modules next to the antennae spike. As soon as that was done they discarded the weapons and moved to the transport. They arrived after Matchka as she played with a control console next to the now shut cargo bay door. She had it cut open in practically no time at all. Her shared senses estimated seconds for the door to be open. Otto was right behind them, his shield extended towards the docks.

A pair of turrets on the side of the shuttle thumped as they fired plasma bolts on the once hidden turrets in their boxes. The first turret exploded into molten slag, throwing shrapnel at those foolish enough to take cover nearby. Otto saw one big Ytheon go down, hands on his face, bellowing in pain.

Crawk and the group were pushing forwards, but Otto and Matchka weren’t going with them quite yet. The shared space split. Crawk would manage one half, and Otto would manage Matchka and the Tak’tin. He’d already spent some time getting the share just right.

The attacks hitting the reinforce defenses of Otto’s dataspace were predictable, but heavy. Every time another pulse of junk information hit his shield, or an underlying package arrived that attempted to disassemble what he was building arrived, Otto couldn’t help but flinch. Without the Mother's help, the incoming attacks would crush his mind flat. There was no way he could manage this on his own.

[Otto, the platform is complete.]

[Thank you Mother,] Otto replied, [Command. Program Build. Consumption Worm.]

Borrowing the modules sunk into the hull of the transport, Otto launched the nasty virus into the ship dataspace. He felt a tremor of reaction from his ally as the attack began its work.

Then Matchka had the door open. The Tak’tin rushed through without hesitation, Otto right next to them. Matchka scurried along the wall while the rest of them drew all the attention.

They were outnumbered the moment they were in. The Tak’tin didn’t hesitate to push forward. Limbs rose from the back of their suits, firing plasma at the Veprutasian guards waiting for them. Moments later they arrived in melee range of the birds. The cargo bay was large enough for the Veps to take to the air, but only a couple of them were quick enough to do so in the face of the rushing insectoids. The ones who couldn’t avoid the Tak’tin were split instead, cleaved in half by swift sickles.

The lights in the cargo hold flickered. The systems were already starting to feel the effect of the virus.

[Where did you learn this virus Otto?] The Si asked. He could feel her wariness.

[I spent a couple months slowly taking it apart and putting it back together. It consumed all the time I could spare, learning to disable the worm with a lot of help from a SI friend. Mostly for the sake of that friend's sanity. I know how to keep it from touching you.]

[An SI... friend? That is… reassuring. I am taking control of your defenses so that you may concentrate.]

Otto felt the pressure melt away. The Mother didn’t have the same solid connection that the dimensional beacon had allowed Otto to maintain with SPIRE, but it did have more processing power than the little shuttle core had provided SPIRE.

The lights returned to normal and Otto’s attention was drawn upwards as something else moved. A ceiling mounted dome opened up to reveal a twin gun turret. It picked Otto as the target. If Otto hadn’t noticed it opening up, he would never have brought his shield around in time. The plasma didn’t have much impact to it. But the flash of power scattering from the shield and his d-field was blinding.

“Matchka!” Otto yelled. A quick glance didn’t reveal any appropriate cover. The place had no crates or boxes, the hold was empty. There were no recesses in the walls, the chamber was a simple box. An answering pulse arrived over the shared space. Matchka had found herself a console to dig into. The Tak’tin still had a few guards to worry about, and more arrived as they fought.

But it wasn’t going to happen fast enough.

The shield had its own module similar to the d-field module. As Otto sheltered behind his shield that module mounted near the grip popped and the next plasma shot melted its way through the now dead material. With a command, the dead weight was purged and his limb dropped the shield.

Matchka wasn’t going to be quick enough.

Otto made a decision he didn’t want to make. He pulled one of Daniel’s grenades from his belt. He depressed the switch and whipped it at the turret.

He whipped the grenade. Through the arcing plasma.

With the visual disruption from the plasma rippling across his field, Otto’s aim was off. That wasn’t even his first concern. Otto spent an eternity waiting to see the grenade blow up in his face. It was a very real possibility. The plasma grenade passed through the field and hit the turret off center, taking a huge chunk out of the left side of the gun. The damage was significant enough that the right barrel ceased firing as well.

The module on his chest was hot. That turret had almost done him in. Otto figured he’d be dwelling on just how quick that had happened for awhile. He then realized he’d fallen to his knees with relief, his left hand on the deck the only reason he hadn’t fallen over entirely. With the tension suddenly gone, Otto was now gasping with relief.

[Otto!]

[That was close, I’m alive.]

[... That is good. The automated defenses are slowing to a crawl.]

Otto looked up to see the last Veprutasian go down, head cut clean off by a sickle. Only one of the Tak’tin seemed hurt, but they were all still ready to go. Otto pulled up the ship map and placed a subtle overlay on their vision. There were two main corridors through the transport, but only one Matchka.

“We’ll go that way,” Otto noted, motioning to the door closest to the bridge. His hand was shaking, he did his best to ignore it for now. “First, I’ll follow your lead.”

The Tak’tin he’d spoken to nodded in understanding. He didn’t respond out loud, but Otto received a signal unique to the Tak’tin, indicating where they wanted him to be. Matchka had already abandoned the control console after Otto had been forced to solve the issue despite the risk. Now she was working on the door controls, having pulled the panel open with a sharp edged tool in the manipulator of one of her harness limbs. A few moments later the door was open.

Otto received his orders from the First. One Tak’tin rushed forward, followed moments after by the next, then Otto received his order and he booted it to the designated spot. He could already feel the dataspace defenses crumbling under the Mother’s assault, now it was just cleaning up the crew.

It wouldn't be long now.

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End Chapter
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