Chronicles of Chiron: Excising Arx | Scene 3

There are no specific weapon shops in the area as far as Cleve could determine from the directory, but there is a general store that claims it trades anything. MorMart is on the way to the medical center, so Cleve makes a small detour inside, hoping to quickly pick up ammunition for Chloe and some other odds and ends from the list she gave him. Takuto follows along, prodding him about going after Arx whenever he lingers too long at one of the shelves. Cleve needs to shop efficiently; he only has the hundred credits Chloe gave him. That, and the bag of chili powder that could be a useful trade good. Thinking of it that way makes Cleve feel like the old Dutch East India Company, pushing spices as a valuable commodity. To be honest, he has fifty additional credits, but he really doesn’t want to part with those. They might need to bribe someone at the medical center. 

Cleve brings everything up to the front counter and is pleased to find his hundred credits covers the whole tab, even the ammunition. The cashier is young enough to be a Chiron native—though old enough to be in the first set of children—and has never heard of chili powder. She recommends he take it to another shop, one that resells salvaged Unity supplies. Cleve does not disabuse her of the notion that he obtained his spices in a similar manner. “Thank you very much, ma’am,” he says. When she wishes him a happy Planetfall Day, he reciprocates, since that seems like the custom around here.

“You’re not going back out to salvage more right away, are you? CEO Morgan is making a speech later.”

“Oh yeah? Is there a flyer for that or something?” Cleve asks.

“Of course!” the clerk replies, pointing over at a community board along the side wall. It looks to be all ads. She steps over and pulls down one of the flyers to give to Cleve. “He’s making some major announcements and commemorating the attack several days ago. I’m sure you’ve heard about that.”

“Right.” Cleve remembers Yushi and Mariah talking about a fungicide factory that blew up.

“I think it’s going to be wonderful,” the cashier continues brightly, swelling with patriotism. “You know, it’s going to be really moving.”

Rather than leave straight away, as Takuto would prefer, Cleve steps over to the bulletin board himself. He nudges Takuto and tilts his head toward the board, in case there’s anything up there of particular importance to the teenager. There’s a pet seller advertising wolf beetles, as well as an ad for the repo squad like the one Yushi gave Mariah. Also one for the Fungus Removal Team, as was in the wolf beetle nest above their module. Nothing for that security force that Roze uncovered in the network node data, though. Maybe that isn’t public information yet, or this just isn’t the right population to appeal to. 

Then Cleve’s eyes settle on what essentially amounts to a wanted poster. “If you have information about Stepdaughters of Chiron terrorists, seek this datalink,” it says. With a harumph, Cleve yanks it down, then also grabs the wolf beetle flyer and a few others at random so that no one watching will know what he’s actually interested in. 

“All right, let’s go,” Cleve tells Takuto, flyers in hand and worried now that he might draw attention. He turns to the exit and makes eye contact with a repo squad member. From the tilt of the guy’s head, he’s taken notice of Cleve’s actions here at the board. This is one of Yushi’s underlings, probably not a year older than Takuto here. The team lead himself is nowhere to be seen. In such a small town as this, and with Cleve’s atypical outdoorsy look, the youth is sure to recognize him. He’s striding this way now, with that look that officers get when you’re in trouble. Cleve glares at him, arms crossed, saying with just his body language that messing with him is not worth it. This approach has worked before with this kid, back when Cleve and Mariah first met Yushi’s squad. 

And it works now—sort of. The repo associate doesn’t want to deal with him, not alone. He clearly recognizes who Cleve is, and Cleve can see in his face that this is one too many coincidences. The squad ran into him when out looking for Corazon and when heading to the network node to investigate why the factory blew up. And now he’s here, rather than detoxing from an overly-long Morgan Prospecting field trip. The repo squad guy alters direction, heading to a wall-mounted phone. As he dials, he glances back at Cleve, memorizing his look. If this is going up the chain, then it’s definitely time to clear out of here. Cleve grabs the top of Takuto’s backpack and hustles him out the front door.