Me: "Oracle? Really?"
Lazar: "Well, Shadake doesn't really mean anything. The person who was going to write it up thought that Oracle would be a better name."
Me: "I think of two things when I hear 'Oracle'. One is something that's so incomprehensible and vague that you can't make any sense of it, and the other is a database program."
I probably should have made a joke about the database program being incomprehensible, but I never actually used Oracle so for all I know it was wonderfully elegant and simple.
Lazar: "It's supposed to mean that no matter what your question is, it can figure out the answer -- any action you want to take, it can tell you how difficult it is."
The trip back on the For Sale $400,000 was relatively uneventful. It only broke down a few times, and Takara was able to fix it quickly. It did take most of the rest of the day, and Kyngeah spent the time healing the suspected lycanthropy the ratlings had seemed like they were deliberately infecting the kid with. The kid stayed behind in the deadlands, no quite ready to return to Mare Nubium's domain.
Everyone was screaming at them, excited or angry, as they made their way through the city streets back towards Itsaboy's tower. They mostly ignored them, because they were in a hurry to get the thing home before the dreamtime started.
They almost made it.
That night, Nico and Cane had horrible dreams again (Nico didn't remember his, but he felt like crap in the morning), but Kyngeah and Takara instead found themselves with an audience with Mare Nubium herself. The nightmare asked them about their recent exploits, but wasn't sufficiently impressed to grant them citizenship for *sneaking past* a dragon and *failing* to recover a star (the rumors had said they'd gone hunting the dragon and had gotten the star). But they weren't made slaves yet either, which was good.
They woke up in the aftermath of a train crash -- not only had the For Slae $400,000 run into a wall while they were sleeping, but the boiler had exploded.
Cane spent the day talking to the doctor (Alana?) about the stabilizer that he hadn't been able to reproduce. "Do you *really* make it out of ground unicorn horn?" "Well, yes. Of course. You should see what we had to use for your resurrection spell! It doesn't look like it worked, though." "Well, I didn't actually *take* mine..." He tried to get her to explain it, but could't make heads or tails of her explanation. Since he had eidetic memory, he had her define all her terms, and spent several hours afterwards transcribing her words with translations inline, and still not really understanding anything.
Kyngeah spent the day healing the slave-mage (AGAIN) since he'd been nearly killed by the exploding boiler (AGAIN). She had time left over to heal Cane, since he was nearby talking to Alana.
Nico spent the day shopping for painkillers, and getting hooked on meth.
Takara went out gambling to try to build her stake. She won some money at poker, but it was too slow! So she decided to start pickpocketing people or something, and got a pretty big haul.
Around dinner time, Kyngeah and Cane headed out to get something to eat (the tower's kitchens were... hard to find) and ended up in line at the dog track where Takara and Nico were hanging out (and probably pickpocketing people). Just as they realized that the line they were in was for roast dog meat from the losers of the dog races, gun-wielding rabbits and grenade-tossing squid teleported in and started firing at random.
It was a pretty long and confusing battle, but the enemies weren't making any attempt to defend themselves and quickly ran out of bullets and grenades, and once they were in hand-to-hand the party was able to take them down reasonably easily despite their superior skill -- they were drugged or something and not making any attempt to defend themselves, and their trance state made them attack the nearest target (usually a random civilian) until someone made themselves a nuisance.
Most everyone was exhausted and/or injured by the end, though, and Cane was poisoned. They all lived, although hundreds of civilians weren't so lucky. From the explosions they'd heard, hundreds of these enemies had teleported in all over the city, not just in the area near the racetrack that they'd defended.
But that night they were all summoned before Mare Nubium, and granted citizenship for their actions in defending her capital (along with many, many Burmecians who'd also fought in other parts of the city). Because they were foreigners and had strange skills that weren't much use for normal trades, she offered to make them an official mercenary company in her service, which would give them the opportunity to continue to prove themselves and therefore keep their citizenship.
Cane was quick to offer his sword -- as a samurai, he was most comfortable serving a lord. The others were basically 'eh, why not?'. Itsaboy's people already had a plan for them to base their operations out of a farm on the border of the wastelands, since they could sleep normally there and actually get rest. And because the ratlings breeding in the borderlands and a still-living dragon on Morpheus was a bad sign even before the teleporting bunnies added problems to problems.
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