2011.08.03 "Do you think this is wise?"

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"Do you think this is wise?"

I don't pause my slinking down the shuttle ramp, nor do I cast a poignant backwards glance. "Wisdom helped me survive, miserably. Surviving this long has made me powerful enough to be foolish, and to enjoy myself for a change."

The Orbodun mutters to itself, but I can still make out the thesis: it is not sure it is sufficiently powerful or sufficiently foolish to keep following me.

Doesn't matter. It'll be of use to me either as backup or as a distracting fork in the trail. Both are helpful.

I told it the whole story, which didn't sound particularly believable even to my own ears. But since the story was augmented with raw sensor logs, it has a grisly believability to it. It's sufficient to dedicate the Orbodun to being as effective as possible, or to freak it out enough to be extra-paranoid about covering its tracks if it flees. Truly, I am not a nice being.

Sizzling sounds splutter from the shuttle's drive arrays as it sheds heat soaked up from our hard push. The Orbodun shrugs on the robotic harness for its needle beam rifle and follows me down the ramp. The ship snaps closed the hatch and waits, perched, pretending not to be sentient.

"Couldn't we find some place more... discreet?" Garish flashing light reflects off the Orbodun as we approach the bar perched beside the landing pads, high on a towered promontory of New Bronx.



"Yes, we could find some place more discreet."

One beat.
Two beats...
"...but we're not going to, for some annoying reason. Has anyone ever mentioned to you that you are pretty childish."

Half smiling and half snarling, I cast a red glance back at the Orbodun. "I'm willing to sacrifice discretion for access to information. The awkward fact is that people who rely on discretion regarding the sort of information I want are going to be too hard to find, if you follow my reasoning."

"Wait... what?"

I stop and wait for the Orobodun to catch up. He's too proud to waddle hard enough to catch up with my effortless slink. "OK, I want to know more about the zarkers hunting me. Knowledge about them is going to be somewhat rarified because they seem to have a thing for killing people who know about them. So, those remaining with the information I seek are going to come in two primary, uh, flavours. People who are good enough at hiding to keep away from relentless psychics, and people scary enough to not have to worry about hiding." I pause and look up at the ship scale robot bouncer calmly watching our paused approach to the 'Abandon All Hope' bar. "I'm pretty sneaky - hence most of my survival - but it might take me years to find someone from column-A. So we're looking up column-B instead."


"It's probably even worse than you think. This might be an excellent time to flee, if you are of a mind to." I incline my head towards an array of elevators located perpendicular to our path.

"Shut up, jerkwad. Let's just do this."

He's pretty calm, considering. My own spines are going all tingly with fear under the gaze of that bouncer. We walk up to it, and then gingerly past it into the bar proper.

Inside is an odd collection of custom tables and seats, which seem to be particularly suited for the spectrum of impressive beings in attendance. We walk through to the serving section in the middle-back of the establishment, and are promptly greeted by bartender that seems to have been genetically crafted to exude an aura of genteelness. "What refreshment might you care to enjoy before you die?"

Ah, well. I suppose a certain amount of snobbery is to be expected. Fortunately, the Orbodun is also resisting acquiring for an assassination on the paid distraction. "I'd like a Volcanic™ with a heaping side helping of information."

"Indeed." It subtly redirects the conversational focus to the Orbodun. "And what might be your final drink?"


"Very good, sir." The being makes an elaborate show of being quite put out with having to fill a tankard with hydrogen hydroxide from a spigot. It then makes the complicated chemical assembly of my drink order with preternatural ease, and brings us both. Without another word, it departs.

Before I can feel disappointed, I'm tight-beamed from a comm repeater at the bar. "What did you want to know?"

"I want to know about some particularly troublesome robots. Humanoid. Black. Green eyes. Mentalists. Not from this reality. Tend to chant, 'KILL KILL KILL' telepathically all the zarking time, until you do."

"Oh. Do you think this is wise?"

I can feel the Orbodun grinning at me.