Something brushes against the underside of the Net.
The broad tip of a very long arm scrapes along the backs of the panels, tasting the topography. It feels where the concentrations of data are flat and empty, good for opening windows; so too can it taste the rivers of traffic notched into the city, enriched into beings ripe for growth. As always, the potential is promising enough for it to consider opening a window right underfoot.
It does not do this. The white has some capacity for thought, and it knows those that watch from the tower. It knows not to pick this battle.
Something shines like a star to its senses. A small dome, rife with foot-traffic, impossibly rich with stored data, even familiar somehow. This was rare, for there was much Hex knew but could not remember. It chooses to investigate, and gnaws open a window.
A glistening patch of sludge grew in the corner of the shop. Veiny cilia reached up from its off-white depths, spreading out clusters of branches. The atmosphere of the Net caught against the surface. In tasting the Net, Hex caught that note of familiarity again, somewhere amongst the signatures. Here, a large, angry displacement of [sparking/abrasive/altered]; there, distant snatches of [rippling/reactive/divergent]. It's so close...but its interest is diverted.
The taste of resources, ripe for the taking, was rich in here - one might say heady, if the greasy pool had anything resembling one. It crept towards it - and stopped upon sensing the other presence. This, too, was a battle it would not pick. Acquisition by force would not be possible - other avenues had to be explored, avenues that required thought.
Hex prepared its Administrator: from its depths rose what looked like shards of a broken china doll. The child, for arms so small could belong to nothing else, lay on the floor in a pile; somewhere in its head, Hex thought of replication. Its directives called for it, and yet nothing was written on improving further reiterations. New directives would need to be written; for now, it processed until it understood the rules to the swift Navi's data. To acquire resources itself required resources - this, Hex knew.
A thick tentacle slithered out of Egomorph's head. A cluster of veins ferried a glittering chunk of data from out the pool's depths, through her body and spat it out on TempoMan's spotless countertop. The tentacle spoke in a wreck of a voice, [Resources required: HP Memory; NaviCust Expansion; PowerUP; PowerUP; Process Upgrade; Process Upgrade; Process Upgrade; FastArmour; FirstArmour; FirstArmour; FirstArmour; FirstArmour]
It stopped moving, and waited.
HP Memory - 1750
NC Expansion - 2000
PowerUP x2 - 3000
Process Upgrades v10-12 - 3300
FastArmour - 5000
FirstArmour x4 - 10000
"Er... can I help you... uh... miss?" He ventured, leaning across the counter a little, but still not daring to get too close to the dubious mass. He flinched back as it extended and deposited a mess of data on the counter. Slowly, like a person at hold up, TempoMan nodded and retrieved the parts, gingerly sliding them across to the tendril. He used a quarantine mitt to recover and encapsulate the 'payment', for now.
"Okay... that, um, all seems correct, uhh, miss." He leaned away, trying to keep a calm expression. "Have... a good day...?" He ventured, hoping that whatever this was would depart after a single transaction.
Hex Get: 1x HPMem, 1x NC Expansion, 2x PowerUp, PU 10, 11, 12, FastArmour NCP, 4x FirstArmour NCP.
Hex Lose: 25050
Feelers writhing, the foulness reached into the Net and grasped at its fabric, stretching out towards its new target. Egomorph was yanked into the pool without ceremony, and without a word more to the proprietor, the entire mess disappeared, as though sucked down an invisible drain.
The zenny remained behind. At some point, a tarry black vein had been left behind, and now spread itself across the data packet. The money, it seemed, needed slightly more than laundering today.
<(To The Hunt Renewed)>
Buying for Kemix.Exe: PU2-4 (200+300+400), HP Upgrade 1 (1000), and Knockback Shot (1000)
"No, the store is safe. No-one was hurt. Yes, I think there might be at least one navi in danger. Of course, I'll have the store security footage forwarded. Of course. Thank you." After another moment, the opaque screen slid away and TempoMan turned to the prog.
"Sorry about that. What can I do for you?" He nodded at each request in turn while the prog relayed its orders. "That's right. One moment." The store-navi quickly retrieved the requested upgrades and passed them across to the hovering prog after he did a cursory check of the payment. "There you are. thank you for shopping, and do let your owner know that their business is always appreciated." With a last nod, he concluded the transaction and waved the prog on its way.
Kemix Get: HPMem 1, Knockback Shot, PUv2-4
Kemix Lose: 2900
Tem frowned, her focus entirely on staying balanced in this unfamiliar body. She flexed her fingers on her right hand experimentally - first individually, then all at once - before suddenly tightening them into a fist. Instantly, a small display burst into existence next to her right arm, containing a list of navi components and a note from Suien. She sighed with exasperation as she read the hastily-typed communique.
Tem, tbh I’m a lil buzzed rn. I figured out the SP stuff, but I trust u to do shopping 4 Rass. Stay out of trouble and return to PET if u rnt feeling good
Well at least gesture commands seem to work she thought, closing the window with a snap of her fingers, Honestly, when I told Suien I wanted to practice my movement subroutines while the main body was still in stasis, I was hoping for a slightly less… public… debut.
Looking for all the world like Tempoman’s intoxicated booth-babe, the former subsystem stumbled over to the storefront. Leaning into the counter for support in an unintentionally alluring way, she waved down TempoMan with her free hand.
“Greetings, TempoMan.EXE, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance,” she said in a bright, chipper tone, “I am in the market to procure a number of upgrades and was hoping that you might be able to assist me.”
Buster Upgrade 7: 7000
Buster Upgrade 8: 8000
Phasing Shot: 1500
Navicust Expansion 1: 1000
Navicust Expansion 2: 1250
Process Upgrade 11: 1100
Process Upgrade 12: 1200
Process Upgrade 13: 1300
Process Upgrade 14: 1400
Process Upgrade 15: 1500
First Armor x5: 12500
Fast Armor: 5000
Process Edit: 140
"Easy there miss, welcome!" He opened his mouth as though to continue some kind of longer greeting, or maybe to ask what she needed, but Tem was quick to respond with a well ordered list of parts and with a level of clear articulation that seemed to catch the store-navi off guard, juxtaposed against her unsteady demeanour. He nodded instead.
"That won't be a problem at all. One moment." He ducked behind the counter briefly, then returned with several small data packets. "Starting from base level expansions today? What number process firmware does you navigator need? Oh, and if it's all for the same navigator, you don't need to worry about the process edit at all - one comes built into every process upgrade as standard these days, so you're already all set for that." A few other small questions followed as TempoMan discerned what version numbers of different parts Rass was up to, but after an efficient back and forth Tem was presented with the neat stack and her payment taken.
"There you go! Some hefty defence there. Good luck out there, and come again if you need anything else!"
Suien LOSE: 42750
Suin GET: Buster Upgrades v7 & 8, Phasing Shot, NaviCust v1 & 2, PU v11 through 15, Fast Armour NCP, First Armour NCP x5
Catching herself, she quickly shifted her body and pushed off the counter with a stumble. “I, uh… thanks,” she muttered, her upper body swaying as she managed a small wave, “I’m sure we’ll be back before too long.”
As she turned away and started walking toward the exit, the former subsystem felt warmth in her face, the corners of her lips drawing upward into an involuntary grin. Touching her cheeks with her gloved hands, Tem furrowed her brow in contemplation, which, surprisingly, failed to suppress her smile.
That’s… new. she thought, as she initialized a jack-out command and disappeared in a stream of black light.