Original Content Bought and Sold. Chapter 51, Arc 3

MyNameMeansBentNose

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I'm a little off today (and the past couple days), posting is roughly an hour late because I got home and flat out forgot what I was supposed to be doing. Sorry about that people who are up late.

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Previous | Beginning | Technology | Wiki | Next
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Chapter 51
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Realizing Umbra was watching him had helped Kukrit collect himself.

Something he’d needed at the time. The deployment of the emergency tubes made it clear that events were underway. And those events did not favour his inferior cousin. Fortunately for him, Hather’s dataspace presence and servants were overall pretty decent. They had some reasonable tricks but they relied too much on off-the-server security options.

Having already pulled apart these sorts of systems several times, including in Kruent’s old infrastructure, it was easy to dig in here as well.

So Kukrit snuck in. Carefully of course, haste was foolish and he wasn’t in a mood to draw attention… Not to himself anyways. After his first brush with the system, he was more careful yet. There were two Operators of notable skill active within Hatherkey’s space. Made it harder to remain ‘out of sight’. Right now both of them were busy delving into the city dataspace, looking for the reason or warning that was supposed to come when the emergency tubes were activated.

There was probably some sort of information loophole the commissioner had used. The rule-abiding types could be the most devious when given half a chance. Something Kukrit could appreciate. Kruent had been in charge for a very long time as well, to be playing these tricks suggested the old bird was beginning to feel the burden of time.

Kukrit dug his way in far enough to look around at his leisure and took a moment to settle. As he did so he took the necessary time to calibrate and release a local variant of his devourer worm. It would attack anyone and anything active in the tower, but obeyed strict limits that would prevent spreading further. The tradeoff was in heavily reduced effectiveness, but this worm provided a subtle edge in an engagement. The slowdown it inflicted was subtle, insidious, and by the time it was usually discovered, devastating.

The Leralin, a white feathered female named Oriashka, was organizing available manpower, directing ‘soldiers’ to the tower entrances. Simple, obvious, boring. He spared a moment of pity for regular workers given guns and sent to die. Not everyone in that tower could be remotely considered a combat asset, but they were still being sent to fight. The second operator though, a Veprutasian by the name of Wastad, was attempting to dig information out of enforcement headquarters.

Excellent.

With a touch lighter than a feather, he followed Wastad’s connection. Following an active connection was a practice similar to staying in someone’s blind spot. This moment more than anything else took all of Kukrit’s attention and skill. It was a game Kukrit enjoyed, although Wastad almost spotted him at least once.

Then he was in Kruent’s systems. Kukrit took some time to look around and created a secondary connection of his own. He hadn’t intended on a secondary link, but things were changing very quickly now. And Wastad’s presence was on a timer now.

Still, while he had a connection, there was nothing he could easily see here. Kruent’s security shuffling and upgrade had worked, giving him a new set of protocols and defences to pierce. Kukrit would need time to learn the new setup. Time he didn’t have right now. He took some time to note possible ports of entry and then had his fun.

Kukrit took some time to craft the datapulse to his liking. He tweaked the attack type, it didn’t need to do damage, just draw attention. He was also careful to limit the footprint so only the intended recipients noticed it. The final step was to put a short timer on the pulse so he didn’t have to be there.

Kukrit activated the attack and retreated from the connection.

He didn’t have to wait long to see Wastad’s panicked reaction as an AI backed assault hit the tower space defences. And then Wastad started up an illegal AI core of his own.

“Master?” Umbra asked from real space.

Kukrit surfaced enough to realize he’d been laughing at the compounding mess. “Do not worry, nothing is wrong,” Kukrit told the Gerlen before delving back in. “Not for me anyways.”

It was here that Kukrit realized there was another transport tube self-assembling. On a hunch he shifted his attention to some of Oriashka’s efforts, peeking ‘over her wing’ to see the fights going on at the entrances. Lots of Kraltnin, nothing but Kraltnin in fact. There were no Black Alphas, but there was a surprising abundance of Grey’s leading their lesser Whites.

They'd flown in their vehicles and used them as impromptu cover. Now the Kraltnin were trading pulse shots with pulse and plasma from Hather’s own slaves. Although a couple of Hather’s slaves had concussers as well. Solid defences were the correct defence at least. As long as no one broke cover, they shouldn’t be hurt badly by the sonic weapons.

The new transport tube finished assembling just outside what Kukrit could only assume was Hather’s office. No sooner was it complete than a heavily overbuilt hover van smashed through the transparent metal. This tower wasn’t built cheaply.

As he had hoped, the Humans he was looking for piled out of the vehicle with their Green Kraltnin friend. Strider and another Ytheon surprised Kukrit, so did the Bellani on a drone.

Then he realized it wasn’t a drone. A closer look revealed the truth to his eyes. All of their equipment, their armour, it was Motes! He knew what Motes could do, what they were built for. There was a Mother somewhere nearby. And the bands they were wearing over their ears, Kukrit didn’t miss that detail either.

“Master?” Umbra asked.

Kukrit realized he was cackling again. “Do not be alarmed,” he laughed, “continue to watch.”

He was annoyed and alarmed the Humans had taken his survey ship. He had worked for years to obtain that resource for himself. Umbra had noted the ship had crashed as well, but that didn't mean the ship was no longer of use. There was still plenty of viable technology aboard that vehicle, he would just have to reclaim it with time. Just knowing why he couldn’t contact it had done a great deal to settle his mind.

And he had all the time he wanted as a Superior. Kukrit had realized a long time ago that he had the luxury to play the longest games. A lesson cousins like Hather could never truly learn.

So yes, annoyed and alarmed, but ultimately amused was he, over the actions of the Humans. A couple of words in the right spot would see those Humans crushed along with their treasures anyways.

As for Hather? He held nothing but contempt. That made this show positively delicious.

A Green Kraltnin to raise the ever-present Kraltnin masses. A Mote Mother somewhere to give them the advantage of partnered gear. That Human operator with access to libraries most Operators really shouldn’t have. The acquisition of a ship no Human should ever have control over. It all made Kukrit remember a term his Patron had mentioned in passing once. This situation was ‘snowballing’...

His Patron would probably have sparked with amusement at the situation… But did he want to be part of this snowball?

Drones and guards arrived at the office to face off against the rogue crew. Then the body Kukrit assumed to be Hather’s puppet body began moving. It didn’t take long to realize that body and the soldiers that accompanied it was heading for the Human crew.

Kukrit reached up and tweaked one of the nubs on his snout, a small spark of static jumping to his hand.

“Umbra.”

“Yes Superior?”

“Be ready, I am going to make myself known.”

“Yes, Superior.”

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Mike
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Tank smashed into the Monos, bowling over the bigger brute. A flash of light of contacting d-fields announced the beginning of that wrestling match. Mike was relieved Tank had managed to get his Mote into order.

Meanwhile, Mike was looking up at a big mean Ytheon. A fist came down and Mike hopped back. The first thing he saw was their d-fields fighting for space, sparking as the domes warped against each other. He could feel the gauntlet the Ytheon was wearing brush against him as it whizzed by. It impacted the floor and exploded outwards.

Shards of floor flew up, nicking Mike's legs and stomach, but nothing serious that he noticed. Mike raised his rifle, firing bursts as he did so. In short order he had sunk bullets into the Ytheon’s thigh, stomach, and chest. The last burst hit his shoulder as the beast tried to twist out of the way.

The Ytheon stumbled and fell onto his side in his haste to get away.

Mike had to duck-roll forward to avoid a massive fist swinging his way. It had come from one of the other Ytheon coming to help his ally. With a burst of gunfire and a splattering of gore, the suddenly headless attacker continued to spin, his body falling away and flopping loosely onto the ground. Daniel had helped out. The conflicting sparks from the now headless Ytheon zapped out of existence, but the light show continued as he stayed in melee range. He was starting to taste batteries.

The shared vision from Otto warned Mike of the next attacker. He continued moving forward to avoid the diving strike from one of the Veprutasians. This landed Mike right in range of another of the big Ytheon brutes. He’d arrived in a half crouch, putting him in a half decent position to spring to the right and get out of the way.

Twisting as he moved, Mike landed on his back with his gun raised. He fired another burst, clipping the wing of a second Veprutasian adjusting to drop on him. He hadn’t been able to see the bird clearly through the sparking d-fields. With a squawk and a burst of feathers the bird fell nearby and Mike jumped onto the downed attacker. Still flustered and reeling the Veps attempted to struggle and flee, but he was now at Mike’s mercy. A dropping fist to a squawking skull ended that problem in a hurry.

All of a sudden Mike felt like his eyes were crossed, then it was like he was acting through a second set of eyes. It was his Mote armour. It extended the extra limb latched into the plating on his back, took aim at another diving Veprutasian and fired almost point blank with the plasma rifle. The harness limb had swung out to knock the claws of the bird away and then fired plasma right into the bird's chest, all of it borrowing Mike’s own head and instincts via the shared space.

It had acted, he had acted. For the moment he was the Mote, it had given itself over to Mike’s control entirely, trusting him to take the actions needed.

“Holy fuck,” Mike breathed to himself, then shook his head. That had twisted his stomach into a knot. Taking a moment to gather himself he glanced at the premier fight.

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Tanktantun
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He found himself growling with strain as he wrestled with the Monos, the leader of this party. The Monos had made his first action that of smashing Tanktantun’s harness limb. Moments earlier Tanktantun had fired his mounted plasma rifle and the Monos’ attempt to dodge had seen his own weapon melted off the limb. That left the pair of them in melee combat, framed by the short range interference of their d-fields lighting up the fight.

They had been tossing around for a couple minutes now as the fight raged around them. The Monos had more limbs with which to grab, but Tanktantun’s all came with claws and he had a heavy armoured tail to slap with as well.

The Monos, on the other hand, was clearly augmented for greater strength and dexterity, making the whole ordeal even more challenging for Tanktantun.

And if he didn’t have the Mote exosuit as reinforcement this Monos would have folded him over backwards. The Monos had a hold of both of Tank’s clawed feet to prevent him from putting those weapons to use. Tanktantun had a hold of one of the Monos’s hands and he in turn had one of Tanktantun’s. They were at something of an impasse.

“What is your name,” The Monos demanded to know, leaning close to Tanktantun.

“Tanktantun Mentatin,” he grunted through clenched teeth. “Who am I fighting?”

The Monos bared his sharp teeth. “How fortunate for you, I am Hather Key Nerom, now Freeze [------].”

Tanktantun hesitated for a moment, and so did Hather. To the Monos’ surprise, Tanktantun’s hesitation didn’t last.

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Crawk
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He had always respected Chase’s pure athleticism.

Seeing a similar level of talent but focused on combat gave him new respect for Humans.

Mike severely injured one sladier Ytheon, killed a Veprutasian, avoided a devastating attack, serving as a deadly distraction that ended the life of a third Ytheon, and then slew yet another Veprutasian in only a handful of beats. It was a breath-taking little series of actions to watch.

He, however, had only crashed into the remaining unoccupied Ytheon for some brawling. They had thrown punches back and forth, but now they grappled. With arms up and hands in powerful grips, the pair of them contested for purchase and superiority of strength and position. Simultaneously, the closer they got, the harder their deviation fields contested for dominance, Crawk's was better. It sparked along the body of the Ytheon he was fighting, causing him to twitch and groan when the field zapped across sensitive spots like his nose or ears.

The impact gauntlets were common equipment, which meant keeping his opponent's knuckles from impacting anything. The Mote armour he was wearing did much to keep his opponent in check. It had settled into Crawk’s regular implant set up and supplemented his capabilities with comfortable ease.

Once again he smashed horn plates with his opponent, The crunching of reinforced bones reverberated through their bodies with flinch-inducing sounds and scrapes. Crawk registered the alarm of his own Mote at the sensation.

He and his opponent grunted as they wrestled heads for grip. Crawk got his plate underneath that of his opponent first and wrenched sideways. There was a crack and a loosening of tension. His opponent's horn plate had broken loose from one of its sockets. The Ytheon bellowed a complaint, trying to force Crawk’s arms back. But Crawk was better built. He drove the Ytheon down to a knee, forcing his arms back further. Crawk then wrenched on his head again, ripping the horn plate from its second socket.

The Ytheon’s head now bare and his own head already leaning far back, Crawk smashed forward, his horn plate caving in the skull of the Ytheon he was fighting. The guard became a corpse, his hands going limp in Crawk's grasp.

The report of gunfire accompanied the scattering of feathers from just above him. The shared senses he was managing showed Daniel had been giving him cover. Crawk had spent a moment referencing the situation in dataspace. He’d spent a lot of time managing the controller package for dataspace share, allowing him to adjust the automatic information dispersion between sapients depending on their talents.

Otto was still in cover, shooting with his hand held rifle and the mounted harness limb to distract and disrupt the veprutasians. Chase was doing the same, although he had opted out of any extra mounted gear on his own Mote exosuit. The man knew very well what he was capable of using.

Then he was interrupted.

“How fortunate for you, I am Hather Key Nerom, now Freeze, [Freeze].”

Crawk's improved implantation overcame the noise cancelling of the headset and he found his body locked in place.

The Humans kept fighting, and so did Tanktantun. Although Matchka also froze in place.

One of the flying Veprutasians dropped towards Crawk. The bird was wearing the usual bladed gauntlets on his feet. The oscillating blades closed in. The closest of the feet landed and sunk into Crawk’s shoulder, cutting through Mote, flesh and reinforced subdermal armour all with ease.

Why didn’t the guards freeze?

Before the other foot could land on Crawk's head, something struck the chest of the Veprutasian. The bird recoiled away, the feet slicing further into his shoulder before letting go.

Before Otto could interrupt their dataspace connections before Hatherkey could try a different angle, another voice transmitted to the group.

“Release restraint, [Release].”

Crawk fell to his knees, cupping his mangled shoulder. He could move!

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Tanktantun
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He lunged forward, taking advantage of the smug self-satisfied look on Hatherkey. Again their opposing d-fields sparked as they overlapped and force each other back. Again it tingled as Tanktantun’s arm passed through that flexing border.

It was sweet satisfaction to sink his fist into the stomach of the Monos. Hatherkey bent oddly as the impact sunk into him, but he was likely more shocked by Tanktantun being able to move than he was by the punch.

The delay allowed Tanktantun the chance to bring his tail around. Hatherkey brought his head up in time to catch the tail with his face. Tanktantun couldn’t bring the full weight of his tail to play, Hatherkey was still holding onto him after all, but the grip on his right foot loosened.

Tanktantun leaned back, his tail whipped back to brace against the ground while Tanktantun brought that foot up. Hatherkey’s released hand had risen off the ground when the tail slap had unbalanced him. The Monos brought his hand down to find his balance and turned back to face Tanktantun just in time to catch a clawed and heavily armoured foot right in the gut.

The hand came up to grab Tanktantun’s foot before he could rip a chunk out of Hatherkey. The Monos grunted in pain, but couldn’t just let Tanktantun win. “You’re too late!” He shouted, his voice harsh with pain. “We’re already leaving!”

With a surge of anger and an answering call from the Mote riding in the back of his mind, Tanktantun ripped his foot out of Hatherkey’s grip and through his gut.

The attack forced the Monos to release his grip and retreat, but he didn’t flinch or groan anymore. He had almost certainly severed his sense of pain. The bleeding from the open wound was profuse. Despite standing proud and acting healthy, he was likely dead if he didn’t heal up the wound now.

And he didn’t care.

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Chase
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“Chase, I need you to do something.”

Chase had found himself a corner of the room to wedge himself into. He didn’t expect Otto to contact him. And he didn’t expect the fear and worry in Otto’s voice.

“What’s wrong Otto?” he sent back.

“I need you to make a run for the AI core.”

“Run? I can do that, what for?”

“That’s not Hatherkey’s body, this is just a puppet. He’s elsewhere, about to leave the base, but that’s a different problem. I need you to go here and do some damage.”

A location bloomed as a map dropped itself in Chase’s head. Near the top of the tower, several levels above where it was actually mounted into the ceiling of the district. A simple dot blinked at Chase, labelled ‘AI Core’.

“What’s going on?”

“I’m doing what I can to shield the group from the feedback, but that AI core is going critical. It’s dumping junk data into the dataspace in order to cut off communication and disable the systems of the tower itself.”

“That’s a bad thing?”

“We might be mostly fine, but the Kraltnin fighting elsewhere are going to get their heads messed with, and the tower systems will go berserk. Worst-case scenario, this building could end up purging.”

“Purge- that’s a fucking thing?!” Chase shouted out loud. Everyone was too occupied to respond.

“Yeah, that’s an emergency option that I don’t want to see tripped.”

Chase reached up and placed the gun into a groove on the back of his Mote armour. He was conscious of a small clamp reaching up, grabbing the gun and pulling it into a designated holster slot.

The fight between Tank and the bleeding Monos continued. Crawk had started wrestling with another Ytheon and the brothers were dancing around and trading shots with the rest of the escort despite being outnumbered. Otto was taking the odd shot but he clearly wasn’t concentrating on the fight. Matchka herself was moving around and taking shots at a couple of the Veprutasians who were attempting to chase her down.

Chase took a deep breath. It was stupid chaos in here, and he had no idea what it was going to be like to go through this facility… but there was something he always did when going on a serious run.

He checked the gloves he was wearing, tugging on them to make sure they were tight. The Mote running down the back of his arms to the backs of his hands also readjusted itself, settling into what felt to Chase like the most comfortable spot.

He knelt to check on his shoes, ensuring that they too were snug and secure. He could feel the Mote adjust itself along his legs, ensuring everything was in alignment. As he stood there was a matching sensation along his spine and neck. An optimistic ‘chirp’ announced the Mote’s satisfaction. Chase himself was ready as well.

The actions only took moments, but he didn’t have many of those to spare. Chase took off at a sprint.

He drew the attention of two of the Veprutasians who had landed. They turned and aimed at Chase and fired at him with the pulse rifles, an autofire variety. One of those birds Chase brushed right up against as he ran. One round glanced off his shoulder, another clipped his hip. Both spots were armoured and barely impacted his stride. Chase didn’t neglect elbowing the bird in the head as he went.

He ran past one flying Veprutasian heading for Matchka. Past Daniel as he drew a bead on one of the Ytheon getting ready to charge. Chase brushed up against the Ytheon Crawk was wrestling with, providing just a moment of distraction with a sudden arcing of more conflicting d-fields. There was a heavy crack behind him, almost certainly Crawk getting a good punch in.

Chase ducked low as he ran, avoiding Mike’s line of fire as the older brother brought down another of the damn birds.

Tank stumbled backwards and attempted to punch Hather, as he did so a small blast of plasma launched from the back of Tank’s heavy gauntlet. The plasma blew a chunk out of one of Hather’s legs and caused him to stop directly in Chase’s path. Not even pausing Chase jumped and vaulted over the back of the Monos and kept running.

He had places to be.

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Otto
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“Who are you?”

Otto was fending off stray packets of fragmenting data and fighting off a dataspace trying to fill itself with junk. Like so many things in dataspace, his brain had already searched for and found a metaphor it liked.

He was wading through mud. That’s what he was doing. Except the mud wasn’t just made of dirt and water. It had pockets of acid as well, pockets that would damage anything they touched. But that was just the ‘environment’ of the dataspace.

There were three other actors, three operators here.

One was directing the defence against what Otto now recognized as Kruent’s AI core. One was managing the distribution of tower assets. Drones and soldiers for the most part, while also throwing pot shots his way when they could afford the distraction.

And the last had warned him of Hatherkey dropping in. “Who are you?” Otto sent again, casting blindly, but carefully. Whoever this was, they knew how to hide. It was like trying to catch a wisp of smoke. He only knew the third actor was here because of the tip-offs and whoever had shot the bird who’d been about to behead Crawk.

Another series of heavy attacks struck his barriers, pulling the data constructs apart slowly to add to the junk. Otto was forced to concentrate on rebuilding the defences the attacking operator had torn apart.

Then a message was returned. “I’m not in the mood to talk with you right now, but really, you have more important things to worry about. How long can you afford to stay there?”

Otto blinked in realspace as the question took him aback. He was just trying to push into the dataspace, but really, he already knew everything that was important. The AI core needed to be disabled, Chase was on his way. Tsury was being taken away and they needed to follow. Now. Hatherkey and his partners here were just in the way. And Otto would be unlikely to gain any real control over the huge dataspace mess as it was.

The gears finally did their full rotation and clicked into place. Hatherkey was playing scorched earth. Otto sent out a command. “I’m cutting our tower dataspace connection, the whole space is a wash, there’s nothing more that’ll do us any good.” A series of surprised acknowledgements streamed in but Otto had one more message to send to Chase.

“Hey, the tower dataspace is a sinking ship, the further away we get, the more danger you’ll be in no matter what I do.”

The response was distant, hesitant, Chase was concentrating. There was the oddest sensation of music floating through the share. Otto’s foot had started tapping, and he couldn’t even hear it. “I got ya,” Chase responded, “I can handle being on my own.”

“If you get in trouble, this marker is the connection to Kruent’s AI core. After all this, he’d be likely to protect you.”

“... … Got it, good to have… a last resort.”

Chase shut down the connection himself and Otto flipped the switch. His awareness for the tower as a whole dropped away and the pressure simultaneously lifted from his shoulders. He felt like a heel for disconnecting Chase like that, but he was far more likely to get the guy into trouble by holding on.

Otto flipped another switch and truly joined the fight. His senses clarified to a knife’s edge.

Matchka was first. Her Mote had dropped to the floor and it was scuttling away from the d-field wearing Veprutasian chasing her with those osclaws that would cut through her and her Mote like butter. He had a light rifle mounted harness limb and was taking shots at her as well, if only to foul her sight.

Otto sprinted full tilt as the bird dived for her again. Her mote bounced away, but just a fraction too slow. The claw sliced through causing the Mote to lose a front leg, leaving it with only five of its original six limbs. The pulse repeaters on the back of her Mote unloaded on the bird, but set where they were, they just splashed off the field of the Vep.

His hand was the first point of contact. Otto didn’t shoot or smash the bird, he reached out and grabbed the Vep’s neck and yanked him along. A strangle squawk issued from the Veprutasian’s beak, and his wings fluttered at the hands on his neck, but Otto was moving quick and he’d ripped at the unnaturally light bird and now it trailed in his wake, feet flailing behind him. The black bird been using a gravity assist of some sort, probably part of his harness. Now it made him easy to toss around.

So that’s what Otto did.

Crawk had gotten stuck with two of the opposing Ytheon, carefully deflecting incoming fists that could blow away chunks of wall with a direct hit. Mike had his hands full with another hurt, but still dangerous Ytheon and a couple of the birds. Daniel was still exchanging fire with some of the soldiers who’d been there before the new group even dropped through the roof.

The tossed bird spun claw over head, spiralling through the air. A claw clipped the shoulder of the Ytheon closest to Otto that had been fighting with Crawk. Clipped the shoulder pretty good in fact, then continued spinning for a split second before he practically splatted against the shoulder of the Ytheon, limbs splayed out as the impact brought him to a halt.

An errant wing covered the face of the Ytheon. Crawk stepped to the side and punched the disrupted Ytheon full in the face. Something he hadn’t managed to do yet. Rather than creating a huge impact like the blast gauntlets their opponents were using, Crawk, and Tank as well, had forearm mounted plasma guns. Hard to aim, but hard to remove. It fired a pistol sized burst of plasma, but this close to the target, that was plenty. It melted a gruesome hole through the head of the Ytheon.

Otto ran past Daniel as the younger brother gave an appreciative whistle, passed and into the space of Mike’s fight. The harness gun Otto was using fired barely aimed shots of plasma at the orbiting birds, but Otto himself had a different target. At the last moment, his rifle pulled in tight and he dropped low to tackle the comparatively thin leg of the Ytheon. The Ox-man, so heavily focused on Mike, didn’t realize what was happening until his leg folded up underneath him.

A bit late, a note of protest and pain arrived from the armour Mote, one of the birds he had passed had managed to gouge the armour on Otto’s left shoulder. But Otto had already left that moment behind.

Mike had the shared space, but it happened so quick he was surprised as well. Even as the Ytheon crumpled to the floor with a pained bellow, Mike too shouted out, “Holy fuck! Where’d you come from?”

The two remaining Vep’s were distracted as well by the sudden unexpected impact, just enough for Mike to dart forward and lay his rifle on the back of the Ytheon’s head and put another one down.

Otto vaguely registered Crawk grabbing the same Veprutasian Otto had tossed and using the extremely unfortunate bird as a projectile weapon against the second Ytheon opponent. Now that Mike was freed up from the pressure of multiple opponents, his rifle made short work of the d-field equipped birds.

Otto was already onto the next thing, climbing to his feet he stumble-ran towards Tank and the one who had called himself Hatherkey. The harness limb unfolded and Otto announced his presence by firing rounds into the sparking fields of Tank and Hatherkey as they continued to wrestle for dominance.

Hatherkey twitched and half turned his head. Tank ripped his right hand from Hatherkey’s grip and punched into the core of the Monos body. Just like with Crawk, Otto’s distraction provided an opportunity and a burst of plasma punch out Hatherkey’s back. Hatherkey’s head swivelled back in shock as he looked at the grim smile on Tank’s face. Otto arrived to shoulder check the lower body of the Monos, the plasma rifle on his back punching point blank holes through his flesh.

A well-angled shot went right through the soft flesh of the Monos body and blew off the far middle arm. Hatherkey suddenly drooped as his leg went out from underneath him and Tank took his now freed foot and raked a new hole through the Monos. The body toppled, although it still struggled.

After a very short tussle, Otto set his plasma rifle against the head of this puppet body and ended the fight.

Tank looked at Otto with surprise. “I didn’t know you were capable of that.”

“I played some football,” Otto replied as if that explained everything. “But we can’t afford to procrastinate, we gotta go.” Turning his head, Otto could see the rest of them had finished up Hatherkey’s remaining bodyguards. Any and all regular slaves had taken it upon themselves to live another day. They had either run or thrown down their weapons.

Matchka and her Mote skittered up to them with an uneven gait. “No time?” She asked.

“That’s right, this body is just a fake,” Otto gave the Monos corpse a punt, then stepped away and pointed down a hallway, “This way, we gotta go.”

Taking the lead Otto jogged down the hallway. He had to shake his head, the artificial focus had broken now that combat was over and as usual, the forced state had its side-effects.

He’d use it again when he had to though, his sister was waiting.

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End Chapter
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