Original Content Bought and Sold. Chapter 48, Arc 3

MyNameMeansBentNose

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For the moment, I'm going to take a little bit more time to sort myself out. As I'm sure many of you noticed, I've gone and made my life complicated! I need some time to make sure it's all lined up. So, no story update on Saturday.

I'm sorry for that, I don't want to rush it any further than I do.

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Previous | Beginning | Technology | Wiki | Next
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Chapter 48
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If there was a word that could describe the Kraltnin race anyone with any true understanding would probably use one specific word without hesitation.

Loyalty.

The Whites were easy to understand. Smaller and less intelligent, they seek the guidance of their betters and serve as well as they can. No matter who those betters were. They would choose a Kraltnin to follow first if possible of course, but to serve a master well would allow a White to find both worth and pride.

For the Blacks, it was perhaps less clear, but one thing was true of the Black Alphas. They served themselves. They acted with a purpose to improve their own lot, to gather wealth and power. Black Kraltnin were certainly loyal as well, if only to themselves.

The Primaries were designed to be loyal to their colours and what those colours represented. Green for the People. Red for the Warriors. Blue for the scholars. Yellow for the Merchants. White for the Healers. Purple for the hidden.

But Greys. They were the hardest puzzle to understand for those who didn’t know the Kraltnin well. They were the independent. The lonely and singular. It was easy to think of Grey Kraltnin as players unimportant to the greater whole, an idea that was absolutely misguided. The first hint was in the tasks they took upon themselves. The Greys filled the middle. They trained and managed, taught and guided to support the health of the greater whole. They worked hard to seek out their own meaning and purpose, to improve the lives of those who could benefit from their knowledge. The confusion was in the fact that no Grey was truly loyal to the clans.

The truth was complex and also difficult. The Grey Kraltnin were the most loyal of them all. That loyalty was for all of their race. Easy enough to say, but the deeper one thought, the harder the problems that arose. No single individual was truly so important as to be served over the race to which they all belonged. With perhaps the exception of the newest forms of Kraltnin, the Primaries who were deemed dangerous and summarily crushed. The Blacks considered their lessers as troublesome. The Whites considered their betters as indispensable. The Greys just couldn’t help but do their best to improve the lot of everyone around them.

This left Clakakark in a rather troublesome spot. Troublesome precisely because he was a typical Grey Kraltnin.

This Grey had been nursing an ongoing headache for the past day. It hadn’t started right away, but once it did start, the headache didn’t stop. The inventory manager had seen the arrival of Red Tail the moment she was offloaded from the shuttle and into Hatherkey’s base. He had seen the missing right hand. And he had personally delivered the purple tinted insult they’d had made to replace the lost limb.

Red Tail was more than just an individual, more than a figure of the dark side of the Peaks.

She was Red.

And now she belonged to Hatherkey.

The headache ratcheted up a notch and Clak’s tail began to coil in response to the pain.

He couldn’t afford to think too deeply about his problem, and he certainly had a problem. He let his mind drift to the earlier task. The Leralin and the Human had been wrestled into their stasis pods and shipped off to the port. They would be leaving soon enough. Meanwhile, Hatherkey was busy trying to convert that strange Human type Hyowean. Clak knew very well how that tightly controlled race had many unique abilities. It made sense that Hatherkey would be obsessed with finding a free agent. But Hatherkey and Wastad’s distraction allowed for an opportunity.

And the few white Kraltnin still in the base were watching Clak with judgemental weight. They absolutely depended on him to make the right decision. But they did not push. They knew as well as he what that decision would mean for him.

Clakakark tapped on the door of one of the other residents of the base. From where Clak stood, he knew there was no way he would notice the scan. Minot Beris of shifting blue was not a friendly Helix normally. But she made exceptions for him. Or at least she had until now, he was hoping that treatment wasn't about to change. The door hissed as it opened up. Clak didn’t hesitate to step through.

The furred and wood covered Mammal turned on her stool to face Clak.

“What are you thinking? Everything is on edge right now.”

“Yes,” Clak replied, “It really is.”

The brown furred Helix with black bark plating frowned at him. She was dressed, wearing the usual blue drape to match the subtly pulsing blue bulb on her forehead. Her symbiote, Beris was nearing season he could see, the petals of the flower beginning to open. A lance of guilt curled his tail further, although it provided a momentary distraction.

“What do you need Clak?”

“A favour, I need a hidden dataspace line to the public network.”

Her head twitched and the blue bulb pulsed. Both halves of Minot Beris were suspicious. “What for?”

Clak’s nictitating membrane dropped partially as the question made him think about what he might do.

Instead, he stepped further into the room to allow the door to shut. “I… I have to call in all my favours. I’ve done many things without asking as you have done much for the Kraltnin here, both of us acting on impulse. But now I must ask for your help just this once.”

Her eyes narrowed and the bulb dimmed ever so slightly. “Just this once?”

“Yes.”

“It’s a big favour isn’t it?”

“Yes, although you’ll not have to worry about another because-” Clak’s head twitched and his protective eye membrane dropped all the way.

“Good enough,” Minot interrupted, “take this line and I’ll help you.” She passed over a connector from her console. Clak stepped up close to accept the cable and plugged it into the port at the base of his skull. They couldn’t hesitate.

The connection was dead for the moment. He waited as Beris went to work.

She had to take her time, at least as much as she could afford. It wasn’t so simple to create a connection outside Hatherkey’s base without being observed, and she didn’t want both of them to die early because she wasn’t careful enough.

Not that such a thing couldn’t still happen.

But it wouldn’t happen like that, not on her watch. Clak was a good person and a good friend. With him there she had done much and learned all about the Kraltnin and his lesser Whites that lived within the base. Whites that had been mostly cleared out over the past couple of days. Almost certainly killed to avoid leaking information. Minot Beris didn’t have much to show for her life anymore, so much had been taken away. Clak had quietly given her companionship and purpose. Companionship they had both needed, the pair of them being early converts under Hatherkey’s powers.

The connection opened. Clak took a moment to get his bearings. He already had his destination in mind. He knew where the focus, the public attention would be, or at least he was pretty sure. It was unlikely to have changed over the last several years after all.

He slowly wormed his way into the base layer of dataspace, arriving at the Kraltnin forums. This was it. The best option was at the very top of the conversations. It was like the whole city was looking.

It was perfect, Clak opened up the conversation.

His body recoiled, then locked with tension, every muscle straining. Mustering all that he could of his own mental faculties, Clak was only able to make four very simple statements.

One was a name. Red Tail.

The second was a place. Hatherkey’s tower

The third a number. Two stasis pods

The last, a countdown.

Having absolutely betrayed Hatherkey, Clak’s slave package imploded on him. He would never know the results of his actions. It would only be a minute or two until his body shut down, its mind completely destroyed.

Minot Beris didn’t fare much better. She hated Hatherkey, hated all that had been done to her. In order to protect the vestiges of their minds, the Root and the Soil separated, Beris falling into unconscious hibernation. Whether or not it lived depended on Hatherkey discovering the corpse of a Kraltnin and the deceased body of a Helix gone into retreat. Truly Minot was as good as dead, the fracturing of her mind meaning she was now only good as fertilizer. Only Beris of shifting blue even had a chance to survive.

It was tough to say whether or not the blue bulb would have the chance.

-----
Otto
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The bite of the burger was good. The paddy was hot and greasy and flavourful. The bread was fresh and soft. There was lettuce with a wonderfully crisp crunch. There were tomatoes and Otto found himself perversely pleased to find he still wasn’t a fan. He could taste the seasoning and the whole experience was a step back into another life.

“This… is the fuckin’ best,” Daniel said around his own mouthful.

“Told you he knew his stuff,” Chase explained.

The Filmath was comfortable now, showing all his teeth in a wide smile. Those teeth had an almost serrated appearance, made to chop through tough foods. Otto had seen Jolif laugh with a wide smile, showing the flat molars at the back. With the thick jaw, Jolif’s appearance supported Chase’s explanation of the Filmath holding food as their greatest desire.

That meant they wanted to be good cooks too. The burger in his hands provided the proof of that impression.

Minmint and Tank were enjoying their own burgers, but Otto could see some pink and purples, indicating different toppings for their own meals.

Jolif was comfortable now, but he had been terrified when Otto had answered the Male’s question. “Yes, we know Harley,” Otto had told him. Jolif twitched and recoiled, but Otto wasn’t done, “but that doesn’t mean we are here for you.”

“You… you aren’t?”

“No. Should we be?”

“Nuh- No! Of course not, I haven’t eaten a person ever since!” He hesitated when Otto’s head twisted slightly, processing that particular answer. “I haven’t and won’t! Instead, I’ve tried to be good! I feed people! I’m good at what I do!”

A hand landed on Otto’s shoulder and he turned to look. Chase had grabbed his shoulder. Otto could see Mike and Daniel with twisted expressions as well, but Chase had kept his face neutral.

“He’s not lying,” Chase agreed, “He keeps the poor fed, but perhaps we shouldn’t talk out here.”

Otto looked further to see the patrons of the establishment watching closely. Everyone was silent but for a Grey Kraltnin, his female and a pair of Whites keeping them company.

Otto looked back and Filmath and lifted his right Mote hand. “Finding you here was a surprise, and I believe Chase. Should we talk somewhere else?”

For a moment, Otto had seen the whites of Jolif’s eyes, although in his case those whites were yellow. “Yes, that would be ideal, let us talk in private!”

A quiet murmur followed them out of the room. Jolif led them into a high-end dining room, clearly saved for people of importance. “Now, if you’re here, you must be hungry! And you look like, what was it… North Macans?” There was a slight delay as the translator hiccupped and translated the closest vocal equivalent. “I always forget to be honest. But I bet you’d like some burgers!”

Which led them to now.

Otto picked up some of the fries, made from real potatoes, and happily munched on the tasty, correctly salted side. “Okay, you know your stuff Mr. Jolif.”

“Mr.?” the Filmath tilted his head in surprise. “A form or respect? I thank you.”

“If you don’t mind me askin’,” Mike spoke up, “How do you know Harley?”

He paused for a moment. “Perhaps now is not the best time to get into that story in depth, but I can give you a few details. I was part of a smuggling ring and Queen Harley broke that ring.” Jolif was eating a yellow steak of some kind. He took a bit of the food as he considered what next to say. “I escaped in body, but perhaps not in mind. Terrified of what may happen if she were to find me, or worse, send Rodgers after me, I decided to change my orientation.”

“You started feeding everyone else rather than the worst of your own?”

“You’re very generous to say it that way.”

“We ain’t got room fer’ more enemies right now,” Daniel half-joked.

“So I understand,” Jolif hesitated, “So you are using me as a neutral ground?”

“That’s my fault,” Chase admitted, “You never tossed in with Red Tail, always keeping this place to yourself. I hoped it would be the same with Hatherkey.”

“It is, that’s why I let you all approach me as you did.”

That statement didn’t go over Otto’s head, but while he didn’t let himself react, Tank flinched upon realizing they were in danger entering the restaurant.

“I was on guard I must admit. I’ve noticed the increased Mote activity in the area, although they aren’t actively trying to burrow into my self-made district. Seeing a Mote as a hand did surprise me.”

They ate in silence for a moment. The meal was the best one they’d had in a while, followed closely by the meal served back on Oolseck.

“Are you still facing Hatherkey?” Jolif asked. “The competition is all but over, and while I can shelter you for a time, I will not help you. The people who depend on me are at stake.”

“Hatherkey has some of our own,” Otto replied. “If not for that, I’m not sure we would still be fighting.” Otto looked up at Chase and their eyes met. “We would probably have asked Harley to leave early.”

Chase’s eyes opened wider. He understood what Otto meant.

“But because of how things turned out, we can’t go. That decision has already been made,” Otto sighed as he stared at the mostly eaten burger sitting on his plate. “The problem now is that we don’t know where to go next.”

The sound of someone knocking on the door was so familiar and yet so unexpected, it startled Otto right out of his frame of mind.

Jolif waved his hand and the door opened in response to the unheard signal. A White Kraltnin popped his head through. He twitched slightly as everyone looked. “When you are finished the room has been prepared.”

“Thank you Perapin,” Jolif acknowledged with a nod.

They finished their meal with little more than small talk. Jolif would shelter them while they were there, and was happy to feed the group, but there was no more help to be had here. When they were done their meal, they went to their room.

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Kruent
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He was almost surprised when the report encouraged a sigh of relief out of him.

Kruent had come to realize he actually liked Chase. The man was an athlete dedicated to his craft and an honest man who appreciated the honesty of others. He hadn’t really started to understand Chase until he allowed the Human permission to run his laps.

And that is all he had done. Chase plotted his route through the base and ran it every day.

He didn’t run in a manner that was exceptionally fast or exciting. There were other faster Sapients, and Chase clearly couldn’t fly… well not truly. Instead, it was deceptive watching him. The man would build up a disgusting layer of moisture over time, but only at the very end of a run did he actually seem tired.

He just ran seemingly forever.

In the process, he earned not the respect, but the awe of everyone who worked there. It was one thing to hear ‘well Humans have a lot of endurance’. It was another to see him keep running long periods of time. And when he was just exercising, he carried weights on his wrists and legs. Not something he was willing to do on the job, but that Chase had such machine-like endurance was frightening.

Learning Chase had disappeared had almost broken Trent and Fedely. That decided Kruent’s first action, Kruent sent a demand for the two of them to join him in the office. He also sent a couple more requests for other individuals who would appreciate knowing.

While he waited, Kruent considered the report. Knowing what he knew now, It was no surprise Chase had disappeared. The man had been spotted by surveillance in the company of that rogue party of troublemakers that had suddenly cursed Hatherkey with their presence. He’d hoped to acquire them to join enforcement, instead, they had liberated Chase.

All things considered, this was probably the least terrible way to lose the Human. That group had given every sign of being free agents who respected the city they operated within. They were still breaking laws, but Kruent could stomach giving them some leeway.

Kruent referenced the ongoing report on Hatherkey. He knew the Silianiscan’s full name now. Hather Key Neron. As per the agreement between The Silianiscan Core and the Veprutasian Co-operation they had submitted a request for information and received a confirmation.

Hather Key Neron was a rogue Adult, off playing his own games. As far as the Core was concerned, the ‘young’ adult was on his own. If Hatherkey couldn’t protect his identity, then he was fair game if found in the wild. That wasn’t to pretend the Silianiscan was an easy target, there was just no reprisal to be had if something were to happen to Hather Key in quiet.

If anything happened to him in recorded public, that might be a different matter. The Silianiscan wouldn’t want this though, Hather Key was at much at risk in this case. If he embarrassed his people he would become a Pariah. And the Superiors didn’t suffer Pariahs.

If Hather Key had been something else, not just a bored Silianiscan, Kruent would have been told to stay out of it. And it would not have mattered how much Kruent disliked the thought of such a thing.

Another thread he was watching updated with a little alert ping. Kruent had placed the Kraltnin forums on his personal watchlist. Just to cover a blindside, he had also removed it from the active search network. Only those who knew it was there would be able to find it and the Kraltnin loyally kept themselves up to date on news their concerned their own. Anyone else would have to be informed by someone in the know. A common dataspace search wouldn’t, or at least shouldn’t, give them the news. Still, most of the recent conversation was just regular civilians wondering or complaining about what was going on.

Although he was seeing the report on Chase’s presence in Jolif’s Market here as well, and only slightly later than the official version. The Kraltnin were watching things closely. But something important had come up. Kruent went to the latest post.

A name Kruent had been looking for, and a location he could inspect. The note about there being two stasis pods and a countdown though… There was another aspect to the situation. It was simple enough to understand, but Kruent didn’t know who could be in trouble.

But this supported the notion that Hatherkey had taken Red Tail. Sifting through Red Tails primary base had yielded plenty of corpses, all dealt with in execution style. But the exceptions had been notable.

The location was a good one, for the Superior. Kruent pulled up the expanded data, inspecting the location. He had looked earlier, then initiated a deeper report from the AI. A hanging tower on the ceiling of the sixth district. At least ten levels and no easy access through the district itself, the building had a direct transport tube connection. The ownership data was also restricted. When the restriction was lifted by his own authority, the name was noted as having ties to a Silianiscan from another troublesome place, the Bet Your Life casino station.

Kruent scratched the flesh around his ear sockets with irritation. Everything he was seeing at this location pointed at trouble if he wanted to go poking. But he did have certain rights to deal with the threat Hatherkey posed to his city. Perhaps.

Kruent began compiling the numbers. The costs incurred. The lives lost. The rules and systems subverted. He waited for a moment as the calculation was done. Moments later he was looking at the final estimate. As the commissioner had expected the Silianiscan had exceeded the threshold. Previous commissioners had retired on the bribes criminals like this had to make to avoid military intervention. And then, because the Veprutasian elite didn't like overbearing manipulation, those criminals would draw the ire of the true Veprutasian rulership. Namely, the truly, disgustingly, rich.

But the actual legitimate reason for the assessment was to unlock the ultimate authority of Kruent's position. With a great enough threat Kruent could reshape the city.

He could purge that tower and kill thousands, many of them innocent friendly fire victims. This was a terrible idea, and he’d probably resign before ever considering it, dropping a whole tower into the city below. The fact that this had happened before didn’t sit well with him.

More interestingly, there were ways to build new avenues of access with little more than a mental whim. He could change large sections of the transportation system according to his needs. He could bring in the construction rigs to pull apart the tower. He could disassemble nearby transport tubes to prevent travel. And of course, he could call down military intervention, but that last one carried additional political risks.

An alert sounded and Kruent checked the door. Trent was the first to arrive. He checked the map to see the rest of the people he had called were only moments away.

He pushed away the reports, letting the damage compilation sort itself out. It had to go through a verification check. When that check was done, it would continue to the ring. The process from here on was automatic.

He would reassure his people first, then deal with Hatherkey.

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Kukrit
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Normally he would welcome the renewed challenge. Kukrit enjoyed the act of infiltration.

Studying the strengths and weaknesses. Finding the vulnerabilities and slipping in through those openings. Then once he was in, pulling the system apart without notice and putting it back together in a way that suited him.

It was the game that he enjoyed most.

But right now he was in a rush! Digging his way back into the enforcement systems wasn’t something he expected to be stuck on.

He blamed Hather Key.

That rock fisted idiot had alerted Kruent somehow and the Veprutasian had, and still was, taking efforts to reseal the vulnerabilities in his systems. Kukrit still had at least two ways into the AI core that would allow him to find what he wanted, but those methods skirted perilously close to someone being able to find Kukrit’s tracks if they just happened to look in the right direction. Not a thought he liked to entertain. Unlike Hather, no one actually knew Kukrit was here.

Well, there was another way to skirt that problem. At a certain point, physical location really did matter. If he wanted to decoy the AI, then he could do that by accessing the dataspace from somewhere that was associated with someone else. It was simple enough to bounce one's signal across a plethora of nodes to obscure your location. Against flesh and blood opponents that is. It wouldn’t work against a vastly superior AI core, it could track back far too quickly.

If Hather was going to make a nuisance of himself, then Kukrit didn’t feel the slightest hesitation in making his cousin’s life more difficult.

“Umbra,” Kukrit sent to the Gerlen.

There was a momentary delay, of course. He had sent Umbra to collect on an equipment order. “Master Kukrit,” Umbra replied, his voice still terribly ragged, but properly deferential. The Gerlen’s implant was still partially corrupted, but he had fallen back into the normal mode of deference and subservience that all Gerlen were made for. Kukrit had managed to restore the most important security routines. If Umbra tried to harm Kukrit, the result would be instant and fatal

That was one problem with the implant being corrupted, Kukrit couldn’t take the risk. If Umbra attempted harm, there was no warning tweak. He would be knocked unconscious or killed and whichever it happened to be was more up to the Gerlen’s luck. This had been explained, Umbra was not ignorant of the risk.

“What is your progress Umbra?”

“I’ve collected the order, I am on my way back,” the response arrived with a locational ping so Kukrit could see Umbra’s location.

“I see, good,” Kukrit replied, thinking about just where would be best to meet. “Wait at this location, I shall see you soon.”

“Yes, master.”

Umbra would tap into the dataspace from Hather’s tower and delve into the AI core from there. If there was a counterattack, it wouldn’t be Kukrit’s problem! And from there maybe he could find those damn Humans who took his ship!

He still wanted that!

And those Humans, all Humans… Kukrit still didn’t understand quite why they were restricted like that. They could have been added to the greater universe without too much trouble a millenia ago. Instead, the Elder in charge of them went with a stop-gap measure to boost his influence. Having secured his place, he quietly locked up the Humans in a pleasantly distracting way to let them develop.

Kukrit was no idiot, he understood subversion when he saw it. Humans should never have been given unsupervised time and freedom to follow their own path. There was a reason they tended to be such a mess when not strictly controlled, and now he was suffering for it!

Kukrit took a deep breath while collecting some gear, his harness and the cloak he liked to wear when wandering about.

Those Humans were trouble, one couldn’t argue that. His own experience was proving it.

“Is this really what you wanted Elder?” Kukrit mumbled to himself with annoyance, the door hissing shut behind him.

-----
Otto
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For the moment they were relaxing. They hadn’t gotten a full night’s sleep when the Motes informed them of Chase’s location, so the group was still semi-recovering.

Daniel and Mike were very much asleep. Off in their room and oblivious to the world. Tank and Minmint were in the living room curled up together in something of a tangle and Otto could hear them whispering back and forth. Their voices weren’t light and playful, however. Their conversation was a heavy one.

Tank had asked for a favour from Otto and it had been… relatively easy to implement. The Implant did keep a regular record of how it was interacting with the body and how the mind of the host acted. The favour came with its risks though. Kraltnin physiology was different from that of a Human after all. But Otto understood Tank’s reasoning and agreed with it.

Matchka needed less sleep normally, her schedule being highly malleable according to just what she had been up to lately. She’d slept like a rock in the temporary hiding spot in the depths of the Gaps, when she did sleep. Right now she was playing with scavenged modules and patched together harnesses. They had stolen some hardened gear from Red Tails base to replace the stuff that had burnt out, but it was bulkier and originally installed on Monos sized harnesses.

And Otto, he worked on another problem. It was a serious problem for sure and might make all the difference in the very near future.

Tik explained the freezing effect of the odd language, but that was only so much help.

Otto couldn’t figure it out.

Just knowing something could happen didn’t always explain how it worked after all. Otto knew there was a language that could be spoken to command functions hidden in the implants. Hatherkey had used that to disable so many residents of Red Tail’s base, and the piles of corpses they’d found provided evidence. Remembering the site caused Otto to mentally lock up for a moment. He had to push the image away.

He’d known for a long time there was something deeper to the implants. There was a foundational language at the depths that Otto didn’t really have the means to understand. He had always been terrible with other languages, and this only reminded him of that problem. Otto had found that underlying language back on Hrossincru, and if he dug far enough in, he found more of it in the Helix and Achun codesetting libraries as components of the packages he used all the time.

The problem was a fundamental one. This language formed the backbone of it all. So it had to be Silianiscan. Which made sense. Otto found more of it in the stuff he had lifted from the Manifestation and SPIRE than he did anywhere else.

“MmmmmMMMM!” Otto whined with annoyance.

“Hard problem?” Matchka asked.

“I don’t know how to decipher the fundamentals,” Otto admitted, “The stuff at the deepest part of the BIPU.”

“Worried, Silianiscan?” Matchka guessed.

“Yeah, the last thing I want is for him to freeze us in place… but I’m not sure where the function is hidden.”

“Spoken word,” Matchka declared.

Otto looked at the Bellani. She looked back at him with her big baby blue eyes. She flicked an ear, subtly pointing at someone else in the room.

Otto glanced at Chase. Somehow, someway, that man had acquired a cell phone and a pair of headphones. Chase hadn’t used them until the group came to a stop. Once Chase was in peace, he’d pulled the things out. With the tunes lulling him to sleep, Chase was now napping on one of those bowl chairs Otto saw all over the place. His expression was relaxed, Chase was clearly happily listening to whatever tunes had been loaded into the stolen device.

“Oh, hmm,” Otto mumbled as he realized what she was getting at. “If we can’t hear him, he can’t speak to the implants.”

Piderby tended to need the least amount of sleep, so he was up and watching whatever information sources he could find. Crawk had actually plugged himself into an outlet and was leaning against the wall, also conked out.

“Hey Piderby,” Otto called softly.

The Gerlen, wearing a pale seafoam suit, with pink socks just visible from the cuffs of his pants, turned his head to look at Otto. “Yes?”

“Do you know where Chase got those headphones?”

Piderby placed his finger on his chest. “Well, of course, I had them made for our friend.”

“Oh, well, that's,” Otto stuttered, momentarily surprised. “Well, can you get more made?”

“Certainly, what is your timeframe?”

There was a knock on the door.

Crawk was the closest. Revealing that he was not actually sleeping, the black furred Ytheon stood up. Unplugging from the wall, he moved over to the door and cracked it open. It was easy to lose track of a person’s natural pitch and tone, but Otto suddenly realized Crawk had a rather high pitched voice when he didn’t receive the normal translation. The voice he was speaking to was relatively high pitched as well.

Crack stepped back and a Grey Kraltin entered the room, facing Tank.

“Have you seen the forums?” The Grey asked, breathless and worried.

Tank untangled his head from where he’d been spending some quality time with Minmint. “The Forums? I am from off planet, if there is something I should be aware of, I welcome the information.”

The Grey closed his eye entirely. “The location of Red Tail is known, someone has left a message for you.”

Tank jumped to his feet, his tail pushing him upwards. Arriving upright with Minmint in his arms, Tanktantun set her down gently before facing the Grey directly. “Where?”

Otto turned to face Piderby, “We’ll need those headphones yesterday.”

“I will see what I can do.”

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End Chapter
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