Triumphian, Augustus, and their followers all found their gaze drawn to the glowing Encyclopedia. No one was sure just what it was about to do.
Neither was Vex.
He'd managed to figure out that the process he'd triggered was called "Defensive Countermeasures", but he had no idea exactly what that entailed. For all he knew, all he had done was flip a metaphorical switch labeled "Glow Ominously".
After a minute of glowing and nothing else, Triumphian concluded that the book wasn't going to do anything. He turned back to Dolur.
"No need to waste any more time. Kill--"
Before he could finish the order, he found himself lifted in the air. So was everyone around him, along with most of the objects in the room. Augustus and his followers took the opportunity to break free of Dolur's grip.
"Did someone mess with the artificial gravity?" one of the Broker security guards asked. "Get a technician in here!"
"It's that disloyal book!" Triumphian snarled, turning back to it. "He must be doing this! Someone, destroy the book!"
Vex took that to mean his alliance with Triumphian was over. Luckily, he'd figured out how to fly away already, and rocketed off.
He soon discovered, however, that he hadn't figured how to fly away without dragging along everyone and everything the Encyclopedia was carrying. He slammed Dolur through a wall, and flew out after him, bringing along his entire collection, and adding to it as he flew through a corridor of shops.
Naturally, the sight of a dozen or so people, a glowing book, and an assortment of valuable merchandise flying down the hallways did not go unnoticed by Oh Two Oh's surveillance crews.
It was exactly the sort of disturbance that demanded the Admiral's attention.
Viscount had lost count of how many appeals he had made to the Admiral now. He suspected that it was fifteen or sixteen at the least.
The last few attempts had gone slightly better; after a while, he'd realized that explaining the battle only gave the Admiral the idea that killing him would solve all her problems. Once he stopped doing that and implied the others were just his "competitors", she had gone from trying to kill him to merely trying to call her men in to detain him.
Now he had been reduced to repeating one of his past offers word-for-word, in a desperate effort to stall for time while he tried to devise a better cover story.
"But you see, if my competitors were out of the way, I would be in an excellent position to repay you..."
"Sure. And maybe one of them will have a better offer than you," the Admiral sneered. "Right now, I don't see any reason why I should..."
"let you run free on my ship", Viscount thought, just as she finished the sentence. And now she tries to call in the guards.
Except she didn't. Largely because something on the other side of the room was beeping loudly.
"That's a priority communication," the Admiral growled, wheeling her tank over to a console. "I don't have time to waste listening to whatever you're trying to offer me. In fact, if you haven't left by the time I've dealt with this matter, I'll have you escorted out. Or killed, either way works for me."
Viscount was about to protest, but the Admiral was already talking to someone else. The console lowered a microphone into her tank.
"What the hell's wrong?" she asked into it. "This had better not be another stupid problem."
"We've got a nasty disturbance, Admiral. Something just flew out of the Information Brokers' place. We aren't sure what it is, but it seems to be generating some kind of gravitational anomaly. It's pulling people and merchandise around, and just flying wherever it wants."
The Admiral scowled.
"Are there any VIPs in that mess?"
"Er, no, ma'am. Well, two of them are rather ornately dressed, one's a human and one's reptilian. They look like religious types, but we can't actually identify them..."
"Then send some men down there to just shoot everything until the anomaly stops. Those are your orders."
"Are you sure--"
"No VIPs means nobody's going to be after us. Nobody we can't deal with if need be. Admiral out."
The communication cut out, and the Admiral turned to her uninvited guest.
"You're still here? I thought I told you to leave, I've got enough problems to deal with. For instance, I need to tell the Brokers to take better care of their things..."
A look of shock slowly dawned across the Admiral's face.
"Oh hells, the Brokers! They'll be furious if my men shoot their personnel again!" She glared at Viscount. "This is your damn fault, if you weren't distracting me with your worthless banter I would have thought of that sooner. Now I have to call them back and..."
Before she could say anything further, there was a whirl around her head as her memories were consumed. In moments, she had forgotten the priority communication, the orders she needed to retract, and the fact that the deaths of an ornately-dressed human and reptilian were of particular benefit to the being who had materialized in front of her.
"Admiral! I believe I can be of service!"
Mr. Found was a dimunitive creature, perhaps a quarter of Redclaw's size. Nonetheless, he was not intimidated in the slightest by his customer's attitude.
"I'm afraid we aren't quite ready to part with that particular piece of merchandise, Mr. Redclaw."
"I have your payment, and a signature from the the Luvian delegation identifying me as their representative in this sale. What exactly is the problem?"
Mr. Found peered over the top of his glasses, which Redclaw supposed was an attempt to look imposing. It might have worked if Found were taller.
"The problem, Mr. Redclaw, is that there are questions I find myself unable to answer. I am very well-informed as to new arrivals on the Oh-Two-Oh, yet this is the first I have heard of your presence. Before I approve the purchase of this valuable item, I would like to know, at a minimum, how you arrived here without my knowledge."
Redclaw picked up the tiny Mr. Found, who was thoroughly unperturbed.
"I do not have time for that."
"Unfamiliar with my reputation, I see. Go ahead, then. Try and harm me."
Redclaw slashed across Found's face, but much to his surprise, the merchant didn't have a scratch on him. Found adjusted his glasses and spoke up again.
"Mr. Redclaw, I have been threatened by many customers dissatisfied with my policies, and they have all been unable to carry through on their threats. You cannot effectively harm me, and if you damage any of my merchandise, I will have you expelled from the Oh Two Oh."
Redclaw growled in frustration, and hurled Found to the floor. The little man picked himself up, and looked expectantly at his client.
"I was brought here against my will," Redclaw snarled.
"An escaped slave, then? And of an unidentified species, no less."
"Redclaw is no man's slave!" he shouted. "The wretch who brought me here never spoke his name. He sent me here with several others for some form of competition. I care nothing for his contest, and know nothing of him beyond that."
Mr. Found smiled.
"Others, you say? Tell me about them, Mr. Redclaw. This sounds quite interesting."
"I have told you what you asked. Why do you insist on wasting my time?"
"Because, Mr. Redclaw, I imagine you will have a hard time finding another merchant around here willing to sell you an antimatter torpedo at any price." Mr. Found grinned. "A few simple words are hardly a great deal to ask in exchange for such a rare opportunity."
Redclaw suspected that Mr. Found intended to ask for quite a bit more before allowing the sale, but for the moment, he had little choice but to agree.
He did not, however, suspect that Mr. Found was trying to stall for time as much as he was trying to gather information. The torpedo, as it happened, was not in the shop at all, and Mr. Found was silently cursing his associate's tendency to get sidetracked.
For his part, Mr. Lost would not have described it as "getting sidetracked", but rather "seeking profitable opportunities".
After all, it was hardly every day that someone marched through the corridors of Oh Two Oh with a remarkably lifelike silver statue of one of your contacts. A little eavesdropping told him they were headed to the auction house, which was a convenient coincidence; that was already part of his route.
Granted, it hadn't been part of his route when Found had sent him out this morning, but as far as Lost was concerned, Found's plans were merely suggestions.
Lost slipped down a side corridor, unnoticed by all, as he mentally rearranged his to-do list. Scorpiocore's main cargo ship wasn't docked far from the auction house, as the bastard was usually in a hurry to unload sensitive merchandise, or in some cases to leave with it. And there was a bar not far away; not the dump owned by the man with the silver statue, of course, but an actual good bar, with proper drinks.
So the order was simple enough. First, grab some nice trinkets from the auction, preferably after they were sold. Then head over to Scorpiocore's ship to have some fun with his henchmen, and while he was in the area, grab that torpedo Found had been going on about, as well as anything else of note. After that, he'd just check in on the rest of his contacts, snatch a drink or two from the bar, then stop by the Brokers to look over new information, and of course dispose of anything they might have uncovered on him or Found. Then he could return to the shop to drop everything off.
And Found thought he couldn't stay focused.
Errat had found himself out of options. He'd considered chasing down Ion, but why bother? He had no chance of buying Ion's statue, and had no intention of invoking the theft penalty; hell, even if his guess was right and a good stiff drink would snap Ion out of it, they'd probably still get in trouble.
And there was no way he was going after Ab and the snake statue. Hell, he wasn't even going to tell anyone he'd seen a thing; that was just inviting trouble from whoever had snatched the pair of them away.
No, he decided there was only one thing for it, and that was a good stiff bath. Of course, his usual bar was closed thanks to its owner's good fortune, and most of the others were either out of his price range, or raised some objection when he stripped down and hopped in a glass. That left only one bar in reasonable walking distance.
He simply slunk inside, ignoring everyone else. He didn't notice the spider who had gotten into an argument over something-or-other with a naked human, nor did he notice the assortment of birds roosting near them (several of which were eyeing him hungrily). He simply ordered his drink and asked for a large cloth napkin, slipped off his cloak, jumped into the mug, and let out a sigh of relief.
He'd figure out something to do. Ab and Ion were just associates, after all. He'd find new ones. Granted, it might be difficult to find associates who didn't try to eat him and actually watched to make sure they weren't sitting on him again, but it was hardly impossible.
He dove below the surface of his drink, letting his worries melt away, paying no attention to anything going on outside his own little world.
He felt perfectly relaxed. He probably wouldn't even notice if a fight broke out around him.
There's no reason for this | Or this | Death is inevitable | You can't challenge fate | The smallest change
I'm serious | It makes perfect sense | Easy as ABC! | I can't even explain it
I suck | I rule | I've got it made | Really, I'm serious | This bugs me | It's all lies | I want to believe
(This post was last modified: 10-20-2013 09:25 PM by Dragon Fogel.)