Marty was impressed with the sales-pitch – and the selection – as well. The man should be up pitching to the local rulers, not down in the marketplace acting like one of the munitions salesmen on the office shopping channel!
Ensouled too. Of course, an awful lot (80%+) of the locals were too* – but it certainly raised the possibility of him being foreign – and said he was no local phantasm or remotely-operated front!
*Except for the slaves, who – to Kevin’s disappointment – had turned out to be less than 10% ensouled, and most of those either sentenced to slavery or otherwise losers or occasionally born to losers a generation earlier and not yet having gotten out of it. Apparently they were mostly just assumed to be there, and no one questioned where they came from.
The crowd was pushing a bit, but no way were they leaving that many interesting things laying about without a little more probing! They fired up their various passive senses to see if they could tell if he was from somewhere else!
After a moments thought, Kevin also scanned around for a rent-a-thrall in his entourage; an awful lot of them WERE out helping with manifold commerce…
Hm. No Thralls – but if he wasn’t an outsider, he had certainly been travelling around extensively given the wisps of Manifold energies about himself. Hm… Most likely a Gatekeeper; if he was an Opener then he had either expended his powers and needed to recharge for awhile or he was a rather weak one to start with.
Marty found that quite interesting! Considering that he was a merchant, Marty was quite willing to assume that he was some kind of extradimensional trader.
Kevin estimated most likely a gatekeeper (possibly an opener who just liked to trade). Still, if he were just a Gatekeeper the convenience factor of his merchandise – and the trade routes that would underlie it – seemed awfully high unless he had been at this for some time.
Kevin settled for showing an interest, and money, and trying to talk to him after his pitch!
It was some time before he sold all his wares – and hinted at more to come the next day to the shoppers – and closed up shop. He did let them follow him from the stall in front of the store into the store itself afterwards.
(Shopkeeper) “I take it you have some questions you would like to ask?”
(Marty) “Oh, just wanting to do some business with you.”
(Shopkeeper) “Well, I certainly still have merchandise left to sell. I take it something caught your eye?”
(Marty) “Yeah, I wanted to take a closer look at some of that Black Gold.”
(Kevin) “And we’re wondering a bit which worlds you’re operating in! You seem to be picking quite carefully!”
The shopkeeper pulled out a lump of the stuff from a crate and laid it on the table.
(Shopkeeper) “There you go, examine it to your hearts content, although I will ask that you not leave the shop with it unless you pay first. I take it you are both travelers here as well?”
Marty examined the stuff… It looked like a fairly ordinary lump of metal with similar weight and other properties to gold – save the color. He could feel a slight repulsion effect as he held it in his hands – just strong enough to make grasping it seem a little odd.
(Marty) “Yes, we are. So where did you come from?”
(Shopkeeper) “Oh, I was originally a trader plying the Mediterranean during the reign of the Byzantines. I found out that there were places that I could sail that others couldn’t – and ended up in the Great Wheel of Worlds. I’ve been plying the trade routes for some time now, and I’ve been looking into incorporating this place into my circle. I’ve got five other places I circle through for a tidy profit – but these “Zenni” things translate quite interestingly in several of those places!”
Hm. He’d probably started off in the Manifold to begin with, or been killed in Core and not noticed it – but those were pointless quibbles at this point.
(Marty) “Well, then. How much do you want in return for this Black Gold? It has some interesting potential.”
(Shopkeeper) “Well, I’ve been charging 300 Zenni per ounce.”
Hmm! That was pretty pricey – at least compared to other local anti-magical materials – but the stuff had it’s own advantages: gold was particularly workable and non-reactive, making it ideal for jewelry, plating, and thin coatings. It was especially stable too, whereas most of the other local anti-magic materials were unstable, brittle, or tended to degrade over time. Finally, it looked like a bit of careful alloying could tune it’s resistance a bit, strengthening it against particular types of magic. Ergo, it was very good for things like coatings that made your armor resistant to magic, or boxes that hid what was in them from divination magic, and so on.
Overall, it was a fairly decent price given those advantages; it looked like the man was more interested in building up a customer base than in immediate, short-term, profits. Marty cheerily invested in a fair supply! Enough to plate a couple of good-sized rooms! It would probably work in Escrima – especially if he thought that it did – and he could use a magic-proof bunker and conference room!
(Kevin) “Want some assistants? You have a well-established operation, and I think I have some apprentices who would learn a lot working for you – and they have some quite useful talents of their own!”
(Marty) “They’re GOOD.”
(Shopkeeper) “What sort of assistants? I understand that a lot of people from this Core place are keen on getting out here into the trade business, but the Great Wheel of Worlds is a dangerous place. I am not exactly the best when it comes to teaching people to fend for themselves. My talents lie in recognizing other people’s garbage as someone else’s treasure.”
(Marty) “Oh, you won’t need to teach them to fend for themselves. They come like that.”
(Shopkeeper) “Really, then what are they doing trying to assist traders instead of running off adventuring like so many do these days?”
(Marty) “Angkor here can explain much better than me.”
(Kevin / Angkor) “Oh well! I grant them some power, and in exchange they work for me or for whoever I assign them to for the next few centuries – and I like promoting trade, there are near-endless areas to trade in, and you seem to have the knack! I’d like them to learn from your experience and take it elsewhere! I’ll gladly throw in a non-competition clause to cover your personal routes and such! And they do make good bodyguards, servants, and aides!”
(Shopkeeper) “Mind if I ask for a demonstration of these abilities? I just want to verify that these assistants are truly up to the task of protecting themselves out in the Great Wheel.”
Marty got Limey out – while Kevin sent for a couple of normal Thralls; Limey was kind of boosted past the usual.
The demonstration was carefully restrained though; there was no point in destroying a few city blocks as a demonstration! A non-combat demo would probably be enough… The last thing they needed was to become known as the Merchants Who Destroy Everything.
(Shopkeeper) “Most impressive. And you say you are lending them this power? An unusual talent to say the least.”
(Kevin) “It does seem to be my particular special gift!”
The shopkeeper quickly agreed to the deal; with the non-competition clause and no costs, why not? He’d be a fool to pass that up!
They didn’t bother prying for information. The Thralls would collect quite enough after all; He had no reason to hide much with that non-competition clause in place – and didn’t seem to have been traveling in and out with a lot of rats from a more technical world – although he had seen more rats coming and going lately in the forest/marsh
That was probably one of their minor disturbances… They wished him well – and Marty made some arrangements to keep in touch before going; networking was always useful!
He was more than willing to keep in touch when able – and the fact that he now had a few Thralls in his employ would make it easier!
They poked around for a few more hours – and then Kevin abruptly looked quite delighted and pleased at something not immediately apparent…
(Kevin) “Shayhian – one of the almost-off-the-grid small colonies we rescued from the ring nova – has decided to go ahead and recognize my legal recruitment and ownership of Thralls! That’s way cool! The rest of Core has been digging in their heels for ages, and mostly over a semantic point!”
A few hours later he brought in a pair of youngsters in fluffy anthro-dog forms…
(Kevin) “Who’s a good piece of property then? Who do you belong to?”
(Eagerly tail-wagging boys) “We are Master! You Master!”
(Kevin) “These were my first test cases! the first Core kids to be recruited in Core and to legally belong to me in Core! I tested by having them given body mods that would normally call for all kinds of special permissions! All the doctors asked was what kind of coloration and styling I wanted, and if I wanted to pay extra for a rush job, and if there were any other mods I wanted done!”
(Kevin, pulling affectionately on one kids ears and rubbing the other one’s stomach) “I’ll keep you two as personal pets I think! Sort of mementos!… Oh yeah! I almost forgot! I think I’ll name YOU “Rusty” – and (grinning) YOU “Feanor”! Heel!”
On Shayhian, the test case had revolved around a pair of youngsters – Verence Anvari and Jaser Kevril – who had taken advantage of the computers approval to visit Kadia over Verence’s Father’s objections and had signed up as Agents / Thralls before returning home to inform their parents that they now belonged to Kevin and would soon be out on assignment for him.
Jaser’s parents hadn’t really been pleased, although they’d been more-or-less expecting Jaser to run off into the manifold or something – and at least this was a safe way to do it. They’d seen and heard enough about the abilities that Kevin’s Agents got to realize that they were pretty tempting – and Jaser had shown signs of psychic talents, and some of the other bits that people who merely WANTED to work for Kevin supposedly got.
Verence’s Father, Savil Anvari, however, had gone through the roof – and had pushed for a formal hearing.
Kevin had come in person to testify, there had been much debate – and now the decision was being announced:
(Reader) “The court has reached a unanimous decision; in view of the fact that Mr Sanwell’s contract has been judged acceptable – in fact, extremely generous – and that individuals who accept it are voluntarily accepting a soul-bond and giving up much of their free will for the duration, our ruling is in Mr Sanwell’s favor. Those individuals who accept Mr Sanwell’s contract have renounced their status as “persons” for the duration of their indenture since someone else must take responsibility for their actions and care. For that period they are livestock-class chattels subject to the usual animal-rights protections for livestock and to the proviso that any genetically-human offspring born during their indenture period are born free.
Mr Sanwell? You may collect your property.”
(Savil) “No! You can’t just reclassify my son as livestock! You can’t turn him over to that little bastard to treat like some kind of bedamned pet!
For Kevin, for the moment, that didn’t intrude. Wait, what? A clean victory? For all the work he’d put into setting it up, he hadn’t really been expecting THAT, even if it was only on one of the colony worlds he’d rescued!
Vast psychic energies seethed in the mind of the race as he reached out to Verence and switched the delighted youngsters smartclothes to smartcollar mode – and his ID-broadcast from “human” to veterinary mode, claiming young Verence – or whatever he chose to name his property now – as the first legally-owned human slave in the core worlds in better than half a millennium.
Kevin had been working on this goal for the last one hundred and eighty sessions – and it had been designated as one of his “Epic Triumph” goals. It also roughly marked the end of his first year as a major god – with more than a billion spirits in Kadia and a devoted interdimensional faith with made regular small sacrifices of magical energies. Once released the power-flood was noticeable nearby even in Core – and made Kevin feel REALLY good.
Verence beamed! Now Kevin owned him legally and everyone knew it and that was just the way it should be and Kevin was happy and so he was happy!
Jaser became the second formal human slave in many centuries a few seconds later – and Kevin sent out the order to the rest of the Thralls on Shayhian to switch their own systems over a few seconds after that.
Despite Verence’s blasted father yammering in his ear and trying to spoil the moment, Kevin was deeply satisfied. He knew his Thralls were property, and they knew it – and at last that view of things was on the way to being accepted in Core.
He grinned at his new property, and sent them a thought
(Kevin) “Now lets go and get you some body-mods that will drive Verence’s yammering father right up the wall!”
(Verence, delightedly) “Yes Master!”
His father was SO wrong and had no right to pester Master Kevin! He belonged to Master Kevin, and Master Kevin had every right to modify him however he wanted! This would show Father that!
The doctors had noted the decision of course – and after listening to that idiot trying to berate the young man who’d demonstrated the ability to move planets and destroy galactic battle fleets they were quite pleased to find that the extent of Kevin’s “retaliation” was to pay for some body-mods on his new property.
It was obviously just to make the point of course; Kevin’s Thralls were all shapeshifters, and he had his own world full of medical clinics. He had no reason to pay for Core medical services except to rub it in with the kid’s father.
Surprisingly enough, pretty much all he wanted was some anthropomorphic canine-style body mods – mostly cosmetic stuff, and not even a full-scale rebuild.
Kevin got prompt service – much aided by the subjects rather impressive regenerative powers – and was on his way out (and back out into the Manifold) a few hours later.
Marty sighed. He’d had his drinking session, gotten a useful trade
deal and a new contact, and had been ready for something a bit more exciting – but that brought him right back around to rub his nose in the fact that Kevin was a SERIOUS addict. Not that he and his martini glass had that much room to talk – but “binding souls” was a bit more serious than “d
Yes, Kevin had been working on getting his contract fully recognized in Core for ages – to the point where he’d been beginning to think that the boy would NEVER get Core to go along with it – but making them formally pets, rather than servants, was just a bit much. (On the other hand, he has just made himself legally responsible for their care and what he tells them to do – and it wasn’t like he could be STOPPED from recruiting in Core otherwise.
Kevin thought that Marty was being a bit of a spoilsport there… He’d been working on that for AGES! Oh well. The kids could play with Limey when Marty was busy!
That had also occurred to Marty…
(Marty) “Hey Kevin! Would you like to have Limey help train them in their spare time then? He’s quite an exceptional thrall!
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 185a – The Power of the Flowers (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 183b – With an Order of Mushrooms (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 181b – The Crimson Permanent Assurance Trust (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 182 – The Coral Dragon (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 174 – The Darkness Before the Domination from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 179 – Any Old Port in a Storm (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 173 – Marty, Martial Comforter of Numerologists! (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 183a – A Darkness Upon The Deep (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 180b – The Convoy (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 180a – Driven with the Wind (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 184a – Vampires or Lawyers? Vampires please! (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 166 – Chilling with the Cat Clan (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation Apocalypse Session 175 – The Darkness Wandering (ruscumag.wordpress.com)