2016.09.04 "They don't like me."

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"They don't like me."

The Orbodun rolls his huge fuzzy head to give the much, much smaller Takolee a sarcastic look. "I see that your vaunted awareness has noticed that they tend to stay out of your line of sight and buzz angrily when forced to be in your presence."

The Takolee frowns. "Aren't you supposed to be the nice one?"

This makes the Orbodun grin. "I AM the nice one."

That makes me chuckle. "No you're not."

Theatrical gasps of protestations start to come from the Orbodun, but then it does a couple of its loud guffaws too. "Yeah, I'm not. But I'm supposed to be. And that's something."

"We already had this conversation back on the shuttle after I killed all your friends."

The Orbodun nods. "True."

Head swiveling wildly, the Takolee looks at both of us. "I'm confused."

I eye him, trying to think of something confusing to say. My Orbodun partner speaks first. "It's really not all that confusing - I'm not very nice. Beings get misled because I have manners and I'm soft-looking compared to this asshole." He shrugs in my direction. I scowl impassively. "Just like how we're supposed to think that you're naïve because you work the small big-eyed appearance and make a big show of looking around all confused at everything."

It actually has the nerve to blink a few times. Cute.

"Stop. Just stop." The Orbodun winces, holding up a massive paw with claws spread plaintively. "It's getting zarking annoying, even as we try to ignore how insulting it is. You snuck up on my super-ninja partner, so we know you've got essentially insane amounts of awareness. And THAT means you know exactly what's going on and why."

"Sorry." The Takolee drops its demeanour of modest awe, making it seem... more dense, somehow. "Most beings are uncomfortable with my species not being vapid little attention-deficit goofballs."

"You mis-pronounced 'more cautious about what they reveal'."

Both the Takolee and I grin at that one.

The Takolee takes a deep breath. "OK. What's going on, now that we've found your little monsters, is we're all weighing what to do next. Well, you guys are. You're trying to decide whether to employ me to sneak into some techie person's place to get some modifications made to your monster-related gear, just in case it's being watched by some super-monster. Right? Let me just cut to the chase and say that I can totally help you out with that."

My Orbodun partner nods enthusiastically. "No, not at all. Not even close." I grin even more, which I'm sure is rather unpleasant.

The Takolee remains expressionless, and waits. He's an extremely calm one.

"No, see, what you described might the logical thing to think about next if you're, say, self-assured egotistical combatants - which my spikey friend an myself most assuredly are." The Orbodun gesticulates vaguely to encompass both of us, while doing some sort of pouty thing with his mouth. Maybe it means he's pretending to be funny? "But the mini-Mizzies are profoundly unimpaired by ego. They're primarily driven to survive, and the main things threatening that survival are larger Missionaries."

The Takolee shows and edge of impatience with a snort. "So?"

I shrug. "They don't like you."

"They don't like me because I can find them - they like to hide."

I don't un-shrug. "I can find them too."

"So... what then? You know I'm not a Missionary, right?" There's an edge to his voice. A wearied edge.

The Orbodun takes a long inhale, and pivots his glance to me. Probably trying to see what direction I'm inclined to take this next. From where I'm sitting, there's only really one thing left at this juncture for us that makes any sense.

With the closest thing I can manage to an apologetic half-smile, I try speak softly and clearly to the Takolee. "How much trouble are you in?"

His sneer is dominated by his incisors. "Trouble? You guys aren't any threat to me - all I have to do is leave."

"I mean from the extra-large Missionary you work for. Have you ever failed it before?"

The Takolee might have astronomical Awareness, but he has mortal levels of Willpower. He sees me recognize how correct my guess. With a flourish almost too fast to see, he disappears behind a power conduit and I lose track of him. I expand my senses to breathe in more details about the crudely industrial passageway we're in - a jumbled mixture of intergalactic standard spaceport architecture and locally expedient modifications. The nearest beings are still to far away to worry about - and far out of line-of-sight.

The Orbodun wrinkles his snout. "Missionary trap."

I wince in agreement. "Missionary trap."

"Why send such an annoying being to try to win the confidence of victims? It seems... odd."

My shrugging muscles do their thing. "I kind of liked him."

"What? You don't like people. I call bullshit."

"No, it's true. I have a soft spot for beings with talent, despite how annoying they are." I gesture an implication at the Orbodun.

It takes him a brief moment. "Oh, zark you buddy. I'm charming and delightful." He looks around. "So, where to now?"

"Nowhere. Give me some time to find all the trackers and bugs he deposited on us."

It's the Orbodun's turn to wince. "Why can't we do that in an establishment with beverages? I don't like the idea of lingering here."

"Well, after I crush all the trackers, we should follow the little sneak."

His big fluffy head shakes in disbelief. "That was a tiny furry ghost, we'll never find him. Plus, why would we want to head to a possible giant Missionary?"

"I don't think that the giant Missionary is in this system - the mini-Mizzies should have felt it. But we should definitely be cautious about what sort of being is its proxy." I find a tiny tracker on an elbow quill, pluck it, and crush it.

"That still leaves the magic of how you mean to find him in the first place. There's no way you placed a tracker on him, and he's too freaking good to leave a trail."

I give an unhappy smile. "Let's just say that I have reason to believe that the particular giant Missionary he works for is very - extremely - un-nice. Terrified and horrifically-worried Takolee is a scent that tends to linger."

The Orbodun takes a deep sniff. "Hm. Sneaky."