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941730 No. 941730 ID: 57353f

This quest will almost certainly be NSFW. Please avert your eyes.
Yeah, I know making another new quest is a bad idea, but I am a mercurial dumbass
192 posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
No. 944001 ID: e2f5cc

Go for option C if this chucklefuck will let you take Sib with you. Option 2 is just obviously a bad idea in so many ways, not the least of which being that you'd need to let this dude/his compatriots inside your head. Option 1 is definitely more complex, and while I think there are better ways to go about this there are also many worse. My primary issue with freeing Litoko is a question: Would he rather be stranded on an island or be unconscious in a pod, where he may have a chance to be released into more favorable circumstances. If you definitively know he'd rather be here Rakkani I'll change my vote to A, but if you have even the slightest doubt, you should leave him.

Thus, to restate, I think option C is the best if you can bring Sib. Going this route is obviously the easiest, and again you'll almost certainly be able to purchase Litoko's freedom, even if for a likely exorbitant sum. The reasons to bring Sib are manifold, some of the biggest ones that come to mind are: It'd be a real dick move to leave your new buddy stranded alone on an island after having him like you enough to take you to his crib, even before your first date. Next, and a bit more pragmatically, he would be the scientific discovery of a lifetime, as a new sentient race with a (likely) unknown language, and if he's willing to give you some of the cash he's probable to get from all the people vying to be the first to research him, there's a good chance you'll have enough to buy Litoko's release. Last and most importantly, Sib will feel indebted, and thus affectionate, towards you, so there will be a qt alien bf as your reason to live on the other side.

If you can't take Sib with you and you're uncertain that Litoko will appreciate being forcibly put on an island, request a translator so you're able to speak and understand all languages, or at least the one Sib speaks.
No. 944015 ID: b1b4f3

WAIT A MINUTE. Is he gonna raise the price of whatever option you pick?
No. 944042 ID: 12323b
File 156730013043.png - (43.01KB , 800x600 , ai44.png )

>seduce merchant
Absolutely never.

>reset pills
I got them from some shady miklik dude. Not this... whatever it is.

>attitude problem
"Now listen here, you condescending squid," I spit out at the trader. "If you're going to keep being so condescending and insulting towards me I'm going to show you why pissing off your customer has some unfortunate consequences--"
"Calm yourself, Rakkani. If you were to do anything untoward in a civil discussion, surely I would be forced to defend myself. And you are entirely unaware of the potential of my defenses. Is that a risk you want to take?"
"You're half my size."
"As we all know, if something is smaller than you, it can pose no threat, and this is why illness doesn't exist, why poison doesn't work, and why the vacuum of space poses no threat. Now. Let me restate what I just said. If you wish to threaten me further, you will rapidly find out how polite I am currently being. Is this the direction you wish to continue?"

I squeeze my hands into fists and snarl a little. Then I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and relax. "I'm not happy about you treating me like an animal."
"Demonstrate otherwise, with words and reason, and I will stop."

"Fine. Litoko," I say. "I want you to free Litoko."
"Of course you recognise him," says the merchant. "Of course, of course. Of course you do."
"What did you do to him?!"
"I rescued him. Is that not sufficient for your understanding?"

The merchant sighs, returns the image projectors to its pack and holds the sandwich out towards me, no longer dangling it around like a leg for a beast. I grab it a little more forcefully than I'd have liked, and start eating it like I'll never see a sandwich in my life ever again. I almost weep with the explosion and combination of flavours familiar to me, the spice of the firegourd, the savoury juiciness of the flathopper, the sweet crispness of falgio tuber, the spongier mild flavour of the ogolboko. My first bite is barely chewed before swallowing. My second bite, I take more time.

"Extracted his broken, bleeding body from the wreckage of his escape pod. Reassembled him into working order. It was difficult. He wanted to let himself die. I believe he also thought he had lost everything. He was not conscious enough for a reasonable discussion, as with you, so I had to find ways to work around it." The merchant pauses. "I'm taking too much credit. We. We had to find ways to work around it."
I pause mid chew. "What did you do to him?"
"The exact specifics are nothing I would expect you to understand, unless you happen to be an expert in distributed cellular neuroscience. I'll summarise it as thus. We convinced him to continue living at a more fundamental level. Flooded out the self-destructive impulses and chemicals with stabilisers. At that level, reason is too abstract a concept."
"So... what did you do to him??"

The merchant sighs deeply again.

"We pumped him with happy fluid until he didn't want to die anymore. Is that reduction enough for you? Honestly, you ask for the answer to a question, and it is not my fault you ask questions beyond your ability to understand."
"A poor teacher blames the student for not understanding," I say, flashes of my life excelling in school coming back to me. I'm not very happy with the answer, but I can already tell trying to get more information out is just going to lead to more focus on the minituae and details than the actual reasons and intent. I'm not stupid. I recognise someone retreating into overly detailed specifics to lead away from the true reasons and bigger picture. I've... definitely done it before, myself, when I screwed up seed storage and had to explain to a customer why their latest batch failed. I'm not proud that I did it, but I absolutely recognise someone else doing it.
"I'm a merchant, Rakkani, not a teacher."
"When do I see Litoko?"
"Oh, this isn't confirmation of purchasing the male neumono. This is just confirmation of interest. I'll be back tomorrow with more information regarding that purchase."
"I don't want to own him! I just want him freed!"
"What you choose to do after purchasing him is none of our concern, but the fact of the matter is we have sunk a lot of resources into repairing him. Someone needs to pay the debt for that before we'll let him go."
"So you're... keeping him hostage?"
"Until either someone pays off his debt or we get enough data from him to justify the cost, yes."

I finish another bite of the sandwich, trying to let the enjoyment of the flavour block out the horrible dread I feel about dealing with a company that's willing to treat people as commodities.
I know my hive had slaves once, but that was... that was different, right? Right? It... was it different? Maybe it wasn't.
But we stopped doing that. We stopped doing that because it was wrong, and it was something modern society frowned upon, but this alien finds no problem with it, and... I don't know how to feel.
No. 944043 ID: 12323b
File 156730014286.png - (45.57KB , 800x600 , ai45.png )

"Who actually are you? How do you know so much about me?"
"I already told you. My name is Fair Exchange. I'm a trader for 3M. As to how I know so much about you, well, I'm not at liberty to discuss trade secrets with someone who has barely begun to register as a client."
"Why do you want me to make a colony here? What does that do for you?"
"You don't have the trust level required to be given this information."
"That's funny," I say. "You don't have the trust level required to know as much about me as you do either."

The trader pauses and wiggles a tentacle. "You are certainly a sharper one than Sib, that's for sure. More appropriately cautious and suspicious. Or perhaps you are simply less diplomatic."
"Sib... Sib-- What role does Sib play here? Is he supposed to make this outpost with me?"
"Our full terms of agreement with other clients are strictly confidential. His contract does not involve your outpost, however."

>translation device
"I guess our 'transaction' regarding my decision is done here."
"Yes. Unless you have any further transactions you wish to discuss, I will be leaving now."
"Wait. There is one. I want a translator for Sib's language, and also..." I fish out the note I can't read from my backpack. "I want a translator for whatever this is."
"That is... an invoice, yes. For the first transaction. There's also a partial catalogue on the other side."
"What was that first transaction?"
"It's on the invoice," says the merchant, shifting around. "I'll give you a reader for the invoice, I must have forgotten to give you one. 3M records their invoices in a proprietary encoding and provides translation devices to read out what the invoice data is in the client's own preferred language."
"And the translator?"
"A Kaurban-English translator or an English-Kaurban translator?"
"Your current balance is 200 credits. Each of those translators costs 150 credits for the lowest spec models. Either you'll have to find something worth 100 credits to me, which I can already tell you none of your material possessions would be worth, or you'll have to buy one now and the other at a later date. These are also the lowest spec models. The translations will be... there'll have to be some interpretation."

The merchant pulls out a small chip thing from their pack, and speaks "Shoi rodo."
"greetings every of you."
"Ee zoi zoi Fair Exchange zoi shmene mi."
"'Fair Exchange' is being name me."
"Ee lu sib nanip lihu shu shmene tu. Ee ri sha shmima le zhutsi poi selshme zoi zoi kriai zoi. Ee suh minde lo spisihe."
"'Sib Nanip' is being names that yonder. the latter is being member the species which being named 'crii'. 'S' is commanding any/some portionish snow."

Oh wow that's bad. "Can I make up the 100 credits now?"
"No, but, if you were willing to accept the bioinformatic recorder device, you could make up that 100 credits within a day."

So I have yet another couple choices, it seems.
I can either purchase one of the translators, or I can hold off and save up for better translators.
And I can either sell my... data, or I can not do that and remain free of whatever undoubtedly intrusive things that'd lead to.

...I've just realised that the shower's still going but no one is moving in there. Sib is very definitely listening to this conversation and trying to make it look like he's not.
No. 944044 ID: e7c7d3

We've sort of been getting by without a translator,so i say wait and by one that would actually help with nuance.

I also vote we chip. As i said before, we're not giving away any info that would put us in danger, as they already now how to find us and what our favourite food is.
No. 944046 ID: b1b4f3

Currently the language barrier is worse on Sib's side, because you haven't spoken as much to him. Also you might be aware of concepts that he isn't.
Get the English to Kaurban one.
This will also allow you to more quickly learn his language, via the translation the device gives-- you could ask him what certain words mean, or what certain objects are called, etc.

Make note of the distinctive symbol on the translation device. It's that eye in the sky.

Get the bio-reader device but make sure to negotiate a clause to have it removed at a later date. You will not submit to a lifetime of "data collection"; only as much as is needed until you can start making credits another way. Optimally you'd be able to remove it whenever you want, like for instance if you decide you need some private time with Litoko. On the other hand, that kind of data would probably get you a lot of credits.
No. 944055 ID: 91ee5f

>reader for the invoice
I’m assuming that’s supposed to be free, since he said he was supposed to give it to us and forgot. At least now we’ll be able to read what we bought/sold on that invoice.

>Terrible translation device
Oh no, no, no. You should definitely wait for a better translation device.

>get the chip or not?
As much as you hate it, you’re going to need to get that in order to start building up credits so that you’ll be able to afford the price of purchasing Litoko‘s freedom.

>Get the bio-reader device but make sure to negotiate a clause to have it removed at a later date.
Definitely do this.
No. 944058 ID: 8d4593

This guy knows what's up.
Do this.
No. 944064 ID: 67061a

Yep, these guys are definitely a monopoly. Let's just hope WE are not a resource to be monopolized. Either way...
We've at least learned something for free. Sib's language is 'Kaurban', and he may have a last name of 'Nanip'. We'll have to confirm the last name with Sib. Ask more questions. The full terms of Sib's agreement may be secret, but that implies that some of it or a summary may be public. Is this island 3M property? Are there any threats on the island to know about, since a dead customer stops buying?
Keep the credits, see what's in the catalog first. Might be something more useful.
As per selling bio data, I have one question. Are we free to remove the device at any time on our own for any reason?
No. 944067 ID: 094652

>I know my hive had slaves once, but that was... that was different, right? Right? It... was it different? Maybe it wasn't.
Your hive used to be dumb as bricks. Now they're not as dumb as bricks, per se.

These merchants are hyper-intelligent yet are resorting to semi-overt slavery. I think they believe they're still dumb as bricks compared to what they're planning to become.

So be careful. There's so much you can do and actually do when you're planning to become someone new.

Take out a well-contracted loan to work on your new bio-farm. Make sure they're the default party if anything goes FUBAR, because they clearly own this island.
No. 944073 ID: 1ed92d

Get "English to Kaurban", don't accept that so-called 'recording device'. It could be literally anything. Even Fair Exchange might not actually know what it does.

Meanwhile.... time to relax. Request the translator so you may thank Sib for the Plush Toy's aid.
No. 944081 ID: a9af05

>I almost weep
According to the tears going down your face, you're already weeping.

>"Oh, this isn't confirmation of purchasing the male neumono. This is just confirmation of interest. I'll be back tomorrow with more information regarding that purchase."
Does that mean that you're not going to learn the price you need to buy Litoko until tomorrow?

That translator is going to do more harm than good. Wait until you can get a better one.

>Chip or no chip?
The sooner you start earning credits, the sooner you can buy Litoko's freedom.

Speaking of Litoko, is it possible to pass a message to him to let him know that you're alive?
No. 944091 ID: 83bf07

Don't accept anything for now. Sib rightfully doesn't trust the sky and we don't want to be seen working with them right off the bat. Can get a better translator at a later time.
No. 944177 ID: 12323b
File 156746800458.png - (14.76KB , 800x600 , ai46.png )

"Fine, I'll take the recorder. Just as long as I can opt out again."
"Sure, whatever. Alright."

Before I can ask any clarifying questions or express my concern at the flippant tone of that reply I feel a sudden burning pain at the tip of my good ear.

I raise my hand up to it. The same tag Sib has, but on my ear.

"Does it... does it have to look like a livestock tag?"
"Cosmetic upgrades begin at 300 credits--"
"No, stop, never mind, whatever." I'm not happy. I'm very much not happy.

>no translator
"Also if that's my option for translators, I'll save up," I say, fidgeting uncomfortably at my new piercing.

"The next available translator, capable of parsing nuance, is 450 credits, from one direction to the other. The bidirectional translator, hardwired two language support and also capable of parsing nuance, is 800 credits. The expandable model, which can take up to 5 language chips, parse nuance, and translate freely between all language chips installed, comes at 750 with one free chip, and 100 per chip afterwards. But, well, such things are listed on the catalogue. And the deluxe model, which comes with two free chips, and can fit up to 20 language chips, is 1000 credits. That's a mere ten days of simply living a suitably interesting life, if you opt into the data harvest. If you truly never want to be misunderstood again, you can opt for the mega deluxe variation, 2000 credits, which comes with state-of-the-art advanced autotranslation capability, and is also capable of detecting cultural nuance and advising on possible translations based on desired impact of statement. There are, of course, even more advanced models of translation that can function on paracommunicative means alone, translating expression and gesture into complete statements, and the very latest model can perform limited neural scans to find the words you can't and make a demagogue of a shrinking violet. Not so necessary for myself, of course, as a naturally gifted polyglot, but they're there."
The merchant flashes a bunch of holographic images of products at me so quickly I barely register them.

Urgh, those are some nasty prices. Upselling like no tomorrow. And what sounds like highly artificial limitations just to price gouge. Awful.

"How much will it cost to free Likoto?"
"50,000 credits."
"With discounts available based on customer trust level, which is based on purchase frequency and total volume--"

Sib steps out of the shower, glaring at the merchant. "Ohonai! Ee ko shu shliva le mi se zdani. Ee zo sarlu morna."
A bunch of white motes suddenly flicker into being near Sib, forming a strange spinning vortex.
"Ee mi sha tavla le tervehu lo shanzha--" says the merchant.
"Ee ko nalrahu mi. Ee mi ba plezhi le shteki do. Ee panono rupnu."

The merchant groans. "Your host is paying the dismissal fee for me to leave, and I'm bound by contract to do that as soon as I can." The merchant throws a device on the ring of seats. "There's your reader. It also can be tapped six times to request my presence. Like a phone with one number. Goodbye. Shoho rodo."

The merchant abruptly leaves as quickly as they arrived, and within moments it's like they were never here.

Except I have this weird rounded block thing now. I guess I can investigate that invoice now...
No. 944178 ID: 12323b
File 156746802033.png - (51.59KB , 800x600 , ai47.png )

"Ee ko nakrilashri lu shi muh lihu," says Sib, slowly and deliberately. The white motes disperse into nothing. "Ee tu shu gasnu le nu miho zvati vi." He taps the tag on his ear with a look of disgust.
I nod blankly. Sib sighs, flicks his head and ears down, and waves me toward one of the wall panels.

I walk up to it and open it to find a double bed in it. "Uhh... are we sharing beds--"

I hear a click and thud as Sib disappears into a different panel.

Guess not.

Why do I have the horrible feeling I just offended him somehow?

I lay on the bed, stomach slightly in pain. I groan in mild agony as I take a moment to just pause, just sit. I can hear a constant background hum of air ventilation and conditioning, plus some sort of deep thrum that reminds me of the ship, my old home now gone forever. As opposed to my old old home gone forever.

I left my backpack and the reader in the main room. I don't know if I ought to go fetch them or not.

I do feel pretty tired after all of what happened today. Is it night outside? Is it day? No idea. I feel like I can hear rain outside. It's comforting and soothing, I've always loved the sound of rain.

It takes me a few seconds to even notice I'm crying again. Not visceral sobs, just sniffing. I'm not even sure what the reason is this time. Just everything, I guess.

Nothing about this situation makes sense unless someone deliberately orchestrated it. But why me? Why did this all happen to me?

Last night I passed out from physical exhaustion. Tonight, mental exhaustion drags me down into sleep.
No. 944179 ID: 12323b
File 156746803154.png - (8.68KB , 800x600 , ai48.png )

I find myself in a blank white nothing. Most nights I'd probably saunter through this empty void completely oblivious until I woke up, but apparently I'm cursed with self awareness this night.

I see a small fuzzy brown shape. I cross endless miles upon miles in a few steps to reach it.

"Arf! Arf! I'm the toya of happiness!!"
I stare bemused at this toya.

"What are you doing here?"
"Your friend wants to get out, but I have to make sure he doesn't want to get out!"
"I don't know! I'm a good boy!" The toya wags his tail proudly.
I look past the toya and see a vague blue shape drowning in white and desaturation. I walk towards it.
No. 944180 ID: 12323b
File 156746805056.png - (12.92KB , 800x600 , ai49.png )

"Hi! I don't think you should do this please!" barks the toya.
I ignore it.
"Something bad might happen if you get too close!" pleads the toya.
I see him. It's Likoto, but in pieces. Not broken like a dropped plate but more like a stuffed animal torn open. Effervescent thoughts and memories drift through and away from him. His empathy fades in and out like a broken music player. I'm horrified. I'm watching him die and I can't do anything.

"I tried my best!" wails the toya. "I tried my best I really did!!"

"Rakkani," says what sounds half like Likoto and half like members of my hive, whose names screech through me like jaws tearing through flesh.
"Likoto," I say, staggering to my knees.

"Rakkani," says the full voice of Likoto, panicked. In the distance, unseen stars explode with deafening loudness.
"I'm here," I say, the force of the explosions forcing me onto my stomach.

"Rakkani," says the crystal clear voice of Likoto, staring directly at me. "Rakkani?!" The shape loses its fuzziness, starts to become distinctly Likoto, but... Missing pieces. Missing lots of pieces. Holes where bone, flesh and organ should be. He looks at himself in terror.

The toya starts barking at me. "No! Look what you did! You made it worse!!"

"Rakkani, where am I?! Where is this?! What's going on?!"
"I don't know, it's just a dream!" I shout into the void to convince myself more than anything else.

"Rakkani, don't go! I can't move! I can't breathe! There's something in my throat! Don't go!"
"Go away! Go away!" barks the toya. "You're making everything worse! He's supposed to be happy! This isn't happy! I'm not happy!"
"What's going on?!" Everything is wrong, everything is wrong...
No. 944181 ID: 12323b
File 156746806326.png - (13.87KB , 800x600 , ai50.png )

I look behind me, only to see Likoto behind me, holding a gun, hand shaking.

"I'm sorry," he says, as behind me the partial Likoto looks ahead at himself holding a gun and screams.

"There's no other way," says the gun-wielding Likoto, tears silently streaming down his face. "You're already gone. I love you, Kikaro."
A voice echoes around me. Neumono, female, older than me. Traces of empathy, strong, directed. A hive queen. Put the gun down, Likoto. Let's talk about this. Let's talk about us. We all still love you. Calm down and don't do anything you'll regret. Alright? Just put the gun down--

The gun-wielding Likoto shunts me out of the way and fires at--
No. 944182 ID: 12323b
File 156746808292.png - (15.01KB , 800x600 , ai51.png )

--the same masked miklik I've seen before who sold me the reset pills. Yet the scream is that of a neumono. More screams, of other neumono, before quickly falling into nothingness.

A gunshot straight through the mask. Green blood seeps through it. The merchant falls to the ground onto his knees. His masked head turns towards Likoto.
You weren't the first, says the miklik, and you definitely won't be the last. Your queen dies at your hand. Are you proud of your rebellion?
"I stopped you," says Likoto, the true Likoto. The incomplete Likoto.
You stopped nothing. You delayed something you can never understand. NOMON continues.
They fall through the floor into infinity.

The white void is silent. The only sound I hear is the clatter of the gun falling onto a non-existent ground, with Likoto dissolving into white nothingness.
One of the Likotos, anyway. I turn back, not sure what to make of any of this.

Likoto is writhing in midair, gurgling, choking on sobs. "You shouldn't have seen this, no one should have seen this, no one had to see this, no one had to know this, I hope this is a dream, I hope this is a dream, fucking hell I hope this is a dream and you aren't really there. You aren't really there. I'm asleep, none of this happened, nothing is out there. I'm dying in an escape pod. I'm dying in an escape pod and my guilt is here to plunge the knife in and twist."

The toya barks. "Happy thoughts!! Happy thoughts!! Forget about it! Forget about the memories, forget about the nightmares! I'm here to help you! Forget everything! Live and be happy!!"
"Shut up!" Likoto screams at the toya. "Shut up, shut up, you can't force me to be happy! I'm supposed to be dead! I'm owed death after everything I've done! I took my second chance and it ended in an entire colony ship burning! More deaths than even my hive! All I cause is destruction! Let me end!!"
"Happy thoughts!! I'm not leaving you until you're happy again! I can't fix you, I can't advise you, all I'm here to do is make you happy! Happy!!"
"Is this-- is this my punishment?!" Likoto coughs and gurgles. "Is this not a dream? Am I dead? Is this-- is this my afterlife?!"

I... I'm dreaming, yes, but I suddenly have a rare impulse to maybe act in a dream instead of reacting. Should I? Should... should I ask something? Do something?
No. 944184 ID: e7c7d3

I don't think Sib is offended but more of frustrated that you ended up in the same trap as him.

Seems like you're dream sharing with Likoto. I'm not sure an actual hug would be wise, given his physical state, but words of encouragement is definitely needed. Something like: "You've picked yourself up once before. You can do it again, but you don't need to do it alone."
No. 944187 ID: 094652

"Toya, will you die if you're hugged?"
"Likoto, hug the stress Toya. Really really hard."
No. 944193 ID: 8d4593

Hug Litoko.
Tell him your here for him, and soon he'll have a second chance.
No. 944198 ID: b1b4f3

First, tell him the second chance pills are faulty, they might be screwing with his head. He didn't blow up the damn colony ship. He was not responsible for that.
Then ask Likoto what NOMON is, why it was important enough to do what he did. If it's that bad then you will support him in continuing to fight it. There is still life in him, and there is life in you. Your escape pod worked fine; you're both on this island but he's in a stasis pod. He just needs to stop killing himself with his own empathy, and heal enough to get out and work with you to clear his debt. Even if that debt is to the bastards responsible for his suffering(which we don't know for sure yet, the miklik might have been a rogue merchant), we need to play along until we can get away from them and call the ultrahive or something.

It REALLY SHOULD NOT BE POSSIBLE for you to dream share at this distance, so I'm guessing the Monopoly of Masked Merchants are responsible. That tag does more than they claim.
No. 944211 ID: c35acc

>Urgh, those are some nasty prices. Upselling like no tomorrow. And what sounds like highly artificial limitations just to price gouge. Awful.
That's a monopoly for ya.
>"With discounts available based on customer trust level, which is based on purchase frequency and total volume--"
Oh, that can be cheesed. Find the cheapest item, ideally 1 credit, and buy a lot of that. It gets better in the unlikely circumstance that there's a refund policy that does not damage the trust level.
>Should I? Should... should I ask something? Do something?
Litoko. The memories will hurt you IF you let them. You're dreaming because you have to heal. If you truly wish to die, you first have to live. I have to leave later, but please. Live.
A hug will say the rest.
No. 944233 ID: 1ed92d

You're dream-sharing with Likoto. He's hallucinating bad memories. Someone out there is manipulating Neumono and presumably killed your ship to kill Likoto. Get close and let him know you're here.

Oh, and for the love of god don't sell any more biological data or buy anything sketchy to jam in your body.
No. 944234 ID: b1b4f3

>don't sell any more biological data
What is the alternative, exactly?
No. 944237 ID: a9af05

>don't sell any more biological data
I'm pretty sure once Rakkani got that chip, any biological data is automatically sold and she's given credits. She pretty much doesn't have a choice in whether or not she sells biological data.
No. 944441 ID: 1ed92d

Dangit. This is unfortunate.
No. 944473 ID: 8d4593

I mean, she can always just rip it out. It's in her ear. Hell if she changes her mind she can probably jam it back in.

A little self mutilation never stopped a neumono before.
No. 946286 ID: 08a7bd
File 157006001375.png - (10.16KB , 800x600 , ai52.png )

>that's a monopoly for ya
Tell me about it.

>dream sharing
Given the distance involved--
>is absolutely impossible given the distance
--yeah, that.

But it's happening. This isn't all mine. These memories aren't mine, these responses are mine, Likoto is too... too present to be a figment of my imagination.

I swear to any supernatural force out there, and I'll take ancestor spirits at this point, if I just willingly signed up for some kind of mind control device I am going to tear that little shit's mask off and beat them with it.

No. Don't get angry now, Rakkani. Help Likoto.

I gently approach him, as the toya whines at me. "I don't know what to do anymore! Telling him to be happy isn't working!!"
"What are you, toya?"
"I'm the toya of happiness!!"
"What are you really?"

The toya whines some more. "I don't know! I think I might be Likoto's subconscious interpretation of some kind of external factor, but I'm just a toya, and I'm not even really a toya, it's too complicated to think about!" It whines more.

I'm not sure what giving a dream projection an existential and/or identity crisis means in dream symbolism, but there we are.

"I mean, you could just be some part of Likoto that wants him to be happy."
"I... yeah! Yeah that's it! Likoto you need to be happy so I can be happy so we can be happy!!"

While Likoto stares in confusion at the toya, I get closer and try to gently hug him, but I'm scared to touch him. Even as I get closer his flesh seems to warp and bend away slightly where mine approaches.

I just hold my hand up and look him in the eyes. "I'm here for you, Likoto."
"Rakkani... I'm a monster, Rakkani. I killed her. I killed my hive."
He didn't kill his hive. This close to him I can feel the slight friction of a lie from someone who almost believes it.
He's not a hivemate, but I know his empathy well enough.

"What is NOMON?"
"I don't even know," whimpers Likoto. "But... They were addicts, Rakkani, it was killing them, they all but tried to force it into me and Kikaro, she kept changing, she kept changing who she was and not even realising, the others followed, I don't know what the end goal was but I knew it was bad. They kept buying more and selling more and more of themselves. I tried to convince them, I tried so hard, but I couldn't argue with the drug. The only way to stop it was to kill my hive. The only way to do that was to kill my queen." Another wrenching sob. "And it didn't even work. They were too far gone. And the ones that weren't wanted me dead. Blood for blood. I don't even know why I thought it was a good idea, but the empathy of my hivemates just... so self-destructive..."

Flickers of a desire for annhilation bloom around us, and recede into the background.

"I thought I survived, I thought I was somehow immune, but I was just poisoned differently," he says, sobs less of sorrow and more of impotent fury. "That's what it was. Our hive was poisoned, and the poison took years to act. And I never even found out why."

I slowly reach out at the globes around him, and slot them into the places they should go. Likoto stares at me in confusion, growing into more sobbing. "I don't deserve your attention, Rakkani! I'm broken garbage from a dead hive!!"
"Yeah, well, I'm flotsam cast off from a hive for no reason. We can be broken garbage together. Remember when you told me that?"
"I had hope, I had a future then."
"You still have hope. You've survived worse than this."

This is making me feel better about myself too, but I don't want to say anything about that. This isn't about me.

"I'm coming for you, Likoto," I say, tearing up. "I don't know where you are, I barely know where I am, but I'm alive, and you just need to hold on until I can find you."
"Please don't leave me," says Likoto.
"I can't help it. I can't be asleep forever."

Likoto swallows another sob and sighs, trying to put some of his pieces together. The bubbles of his body drift a little out of reach whenever he comes close to them.

"Please come back again," mumbles Likoto, desperate, loathing his present state.

But he keeps trying, and he grabs one, and, as though fighting a repelling magnetic force, pushes it into himself. More blobs join him. He feels more and more like he used to.

"I will. I promise. And I will find you," I say, resolute.

This time, he looks solid enough to hug--
No. 946287 ID: 08a7bd
File 157006003348.png - (116.16KB , 800x600 , ai53.png )

Everything abruptly changes.

I'm in a different place. A strange sunset black void, with white patterns tracing themselves all around me. I'm clearly still dreaming, but I suddenly feel, despite my lucidity, a profound loss of control.

Rakkani rozu Rootcrusher. Neumono. 26. Female. Direct ancestors unknown. Descendants unconfirmed. Rogue. Redgrass phenotype. No severe medical conditions. Mild malnutrition. Temporary loss of right ear. Regeneration of trauma to left eye in progress. Interface located in left ear. Profile constructed.

I turn around and stare into a floating icosahedron. Each gleaming facet carries with it an eye like the one in the sky.

[I am Oneiromancer, administrator partition for the Dream Nexus. You have not been authorised use of the Dream Nexus. This is a paid service. Please speak to a 3M representative in the waking world to discuss subscription.]

"Wait! Wait that doesn't make any sense! Neumono can dream share--"

[Neumono can dream share with members of their hive at close proximity. The individual Likoto is neither a hive member nor within close proximity. As this is your first transgression, you are being warned. Further dream transgressions will be punished more directly.]

"...What are you going to do, make my dreams bad? Give me spooky nightmares for not stepping in line?"

[That is a potential consequence for further infraction, yes.]

"Well, okay, can I just wake up now?"

[For safety and security reasons, the neurochip does not allow such drastic alteration to physiological state. Instead, would you like to experience a sponsored 3M dream or remain here until waking?]

The tag was a mistake. Oh wow was it ever a mistake.

"I didn't agree to this! I didn't sell my dreams!!"
[Your dreams are neurological data.]
"I agreed to recording, not interference!!"

The icosahedron pauses its lazy rotation.

[This is correct. There has been an error. 3M recognises fault. 1000 credits have been debited into your account.]
"You can't just pay me off for invading my fucking dreams!"
[Also, we are giving you a free 5-night trial of the Dream Nexus and connecting you to the dreams of another registered user. Registration with the service will allow non-random selection in future.]
No. 946288 ID: 08a7bd
File 157006007817.png - (239.89KB , 800x600 , ai54.png )

Everything warps and I'm suddenly... wow, it's cold. So very cold. The kind of cold that if I was awake I'd probably be feeling pain from. Sure wish I had literally anything on right now. I try to imagine myself up some clothes but it doesn't seem to work. I have no idea what the rules are in this shared hallucination, but apparently I don't get to make things appear. Not really like proper dream sharing, then.

Wow. The view is breathtaking.

A huge, frozen valley, a blue-white cliff rising above me streaked with red curving downwards. The dim outline of two moons in the sky. The sky is a pale white, clouds filled with captive sunlight.

And just in front of me is Sib, also naked in this freezing cold, staring off into the valley, ears flicking now and then, his gaze passing from the sky, the walls, to the depths below.

One of his top ears flicks towards me, and he turns his head slightly. He looks to me with a hard-to-read expression, either one of casual interest or casual dismissal, and then turns back and looks at the valley instead.

"<My people called this place the Red Scar,>" says Sib, in his native tongue, yet now and only now I understand it as if he'd been speaking English the entire time. I can't quite grasp the actual words he's using. They slip away like... well, like a dream on waking. "<They saw it like that. A wound on the world. Not blue like our blood, but red like the blood of the earth. The light catches some of the formations belowm and shines back so brightly it's as if they glow. None dared to venture to the bed of the valley.>"
No. 946289 ID: 08a7bd
File 157006009810.png - (196.09KB , 800x600 , ai55.png )

He flicks his ears a few more times and tilts his head down. "<It was, and still is, one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.>"
"I can understand you," I say, more out of shock than anything else.
"<Are you a dream, or are you real?>"
"I'm real, I think," I say, overwhelmed by the vivid imagery of the frozen valley. "I think I'm in your dream."
"<I didn't know your kind could visit the dreams of others,>" says Sib, distant, as if he's still trying to assess whether or not I'm a figment of his imagination.

"I'm sorry!" I blurt out. "I didn't mean to! It's those 3M fuckers, the tag does stuff they didn't tell me about, I didn't want to invade your dreams!"
Ever since I stopped dream sharing with neumono I've at least held tightly to dreams as one final sanctuary of peace and solitude, and the idea of forcibly dream sharing is frankly horrible to me right now.
I feel slightly ill.

"<Calm down,>" says Sib, wincing. "<Well, I don't think that panic came from me. You are actually Rakani, then?>"
He's not quite pronouncing my name right. I can't quite put my finger on it, though.
"Yes. You can understand me too? For real?!"
"<I don't understand it either, but it's like your words don't matter as much as what you're intending to say. It's... a little too good to be true, almost.>" He looks at me a little confused, but still seems a little skeptical. I almost feel like I'm picking up his empathy, but I guess it's more likely that's just how my brain's interpreting whatever weird dream science is linking us together.

"I have so many questions for you," I say, excitement building.
"<So do I, for you. Let's take turns. You're the guest here, so you can go first,>" says Sib, with a gentle earnest smile that makes me feel even worse for intruding on his privacy. Maybe he still thinks I'm part of his dream.
No. 946290 ID: e7c7d3

Okay, what was that thing that was chasing earlier? The Merchant called them haruspices?
No. 946293 ID: b1b4f3

Well. 3M is only semi-competent then.
Also they were spying on your dreams which means they heard everything Likol said, and you said. Considering your thought processes are neurological data you have a mind-reading device on you now. It will be literally impossible to conspire against them while the tag is on you, so you may as well not bother thinking up any plans to do so. I suppose it's still possible the Nomon drug was from a rogue member of 3M, or there's no central authority so the various merchants can do whatever they want and you can't really blame the other members aside from the obvious "why aren't you policing your members" complaint. We'd need more information before deciding they are the enemy. Right now they are simply profoundly irritating.

First ask how he got that image of you in his device. Secondly ask why he seemed angry that you made a deal with the merchant- was there another choice for making credits? You want to save your friend who is now indebted to 3M, and you need a lot of credits to do that. Heck, he should probably tell you everything he knows about 3M. Thirdly, ask what type of translator he'd prefer-- you decided not to buy any of the most basic ones and due to 3M admitting fault you have some credits to spend. Also explain that you planted a seed in the fish which can grow into a vine, but only if you can eat the fish safely. It's a way to test a potential source of food in a survival situation. Yeah, you ate your ear instead, but it'll grow back. They're like emergency rations.
No. 946301 ID: 094652

Explain how you're not trained to survive in situations like this. You're a plant biologist, kind of like an advanced farming expert. Corporations like 3M rule the galaxy, so you're inclined to work with them instead of fighting them with no technological advantage and no obscurity from their obsession.

Also they have your mate. So you were @#$%ed anyway.
No. 946340 ID: 1ed92d

Ask him why he helped you when you threatened him with a spear. Also tell him that 3M are incompetent jerks.
No. 946341 ID: ad51b8

So... What's your story? Why you here on this island?
No. 946351 ID: 7fb87a

Those mistakes were to make Rakkani aware of services they didn't have a chance to advertise, yet. Their 1000 credit apology is nothing but more encouragement to use their services, to make Rakkani want to sell more of herself.

Discuss teaching one another your languages. It will probably take time but immersion and need will speed that up.
No. 946352 ID: 83bf07

Apologize for your sudden involvement in his life. Then ask how you can make things right.
No. 946374 ID: ce08b1

Ask him how he got on this shitty island. How long has he been here?
How big is his dick?
No. 946375 ID: ce08b1

Ask him how he got on this shitty island. How long has he been here?
How big is his dick?
No. 946381 ID: a9af05

>You want to save your friend who is now indebted to 3M, and you need a lot of credits to do that.
It might help to tell Sib the amount we need so that he understands how much we're going to need.

>Teach each other's language
Gonna be kinda hard to do when everything is being autotranslated and the translation is the only thing we can hear.
No. 946404 ID: 18e3d4

Can we turn the translator off and on? That would make language learning easier.
No. 946417 ID: 2df440

do these!

also try not to think about his impressively proportioned testicles.
No. 946488 ID: e0257a

>For safety and security reasons, the neurochip does not allow such drastic alteration to physiological state.
At least they have SOME limits...

>experience a sponsored 3M dream
Truly, ad agencies know no bounds. Though if you get paid to watch ad dreams, you might get Litoko back faster...

>The tag was a mistake.
If you really hate the tag, summon "Fair Exchange". If they're uncooperative, you can still get rid of the tag. Just rip the ear off. It'll grow back. You might even keep getting credits, there's still some brain in the ear.

>free 5-night trial of the Dream Nexus
Four more nights of free translation. Incompetence? Clever ploy to get you using more 3M services? Whatever the cause, it's at least somewhat in your favor.

>He's not quite pronouncing my name right
Yeah, it's Rakkani, not Rakani.

Beyond what everyone else asked,
What are his goals?
What skills does he have, especially survival skills?
From what "Fair Exchange" said, your full name is Sib Nanip, and your language is Kaurban. Is that correct?
What is your species called?
Can your kind visit the dreams of others, and if so, is it similar to neumono dream sharing?
No. 946503 ID: b1b4f3

IIRC, neumono ears do not have any brain matter in them, since they are meant to be expendable.
No. 946505 ID: 8d4593

If I remember my asteroid quest correctly, they should actually have a tiny amount of brain matter in them.

Still impressive that the thing can network dream sharing with such a tenuous connection none the less.
No. 946554 ID: 6b406b

Huh, did his sack get bigger? It might just be how it's framed, and the fact that we've avoided looking there, but it really does seem a bit different. Try not to stare, I guess.

Aside from that, and what everyone else has covered, ask Sib what we can do to help. We have some temporary clear communication, so we need to establish his plans for survival and long term, and what role we might play in them. We also have a lot on our plate, so having some work ready for us will help take our mind off the crushing despair of everything.
No. 946986 ID: 864e49

Well the obvious one is "Wanna fuck?", but we're not gonna actually say that so ask him what he knows about the merchant assholes.
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