New Merchandise Wanted (commission)

A commission for @snouttalk on twitter!

“Help Wanted.”

…What kind of pool supply store hired in January, anyway? Was there a demand for pool stuff in the off season?

Arno frowned, crossing their arms. Heated pools, maybe. Who knew.

Shrugging to themselves, the poodle pushed open the door – intent on, at the very least, asking. Couldn’t hurt, right?

The problem was, the store appeared… closed. Completely closed, as if it had been abandoned over the past year entirely – empty shelves aside from a few dusty boxes, a cobweb here and there. It definitely didn’t fit with the “We’re Open!” sign cheerfully plastered to the front door, which had, apparently, been much dustier on the inside than out.

“Uh. Hello?”

There’s no reply, beyond the jingling of the bells as the door shut behind them.

This store clearly had been closed for months, at least – half-packed boxes of pool supplies and various cleaning chemicals scattered about in haphazard piles, various toys and floats neatly packed in plastic and stacked for boxes they’d never been placed inside of.

A fine layer of dust coated everything they could see, meaning… there was almost certainly nobody here to stop them from taking a look around, right?

There were aisle after aisle of empty or mostly empty shelves as the poodle wandered around, hoping maybe to find something worth keeping – after all, the place had clearly been left unlocked for a reason. Maybe they were hoping someone would take the stock they couldn’t?

Finally, after almost an hour of exploring, Arno was bored, and they had plenty of other things to get done before the day was over.

They crossed the store for the last time, stepping over a few discarded yellow pieces of folded-up vinyl, before pressing a paw to the door’s handle and pushing.

It… didn’t budge.

Arno tried again, giving it a little more force – but, despite the added elbow grease, the door was… locked?

How could it have locked?!

Grumbling, the poodle turned to look for a rear entrance in the back, stomping back across the store’s floor towards the employees only door – only to almost immediately trip over a discarded box.

Down the poodle went, falling to the floor with a loud, shelf-shaking thud – where they lay for a moment, dazed.

When Arno finally sat back up, they noticed two things almost immediately. The first being that the lights, somehow, had come on – and the second being that something soft and plastic was under their shirt on their tummy, tenting it slightly.

Confused, the poodle lifted their shirt to peek – spotting, to their immense surprise, a small, plastic valve sprouting from where their belly button was just a few moments earlier – fur around it matted down and… shiny?

A cautious poke yielded a shocking sqrrk of poodle pawpad against vinyl plastic, which, before their very eyes, began to spread!

“U-Uh, what? Hello?”

Arno’s first instinct was to try and tug the valve off – but all that did was introduce them to the strange sensation of their newly plasticized skin tugging along with it, stretching and protesting as the skin around it began to change even faster! It swept down below their waistline in just moments, the cool, creeping sensation of vinyl crawling up their chest and around to their back as the poodle scrambled to their feet!

Immediately their balance was thrown off as one of their paws practically exploded outwards into a puffy inflatable poodle footpaw, the legs of their shorts starting to tighten as seams worked their way down the poodle’s legs, the hissing of air filling the dog’s ears as they swelled outwards uniformly, becoming more toyishly proportioned!

The other footpaw followed suit quickly after, along with Arno’s tail – swelling from base to tip like a balloon as, unseen, Arno’s thigh gained a brand new safety warning label.

Every toy has to be safety compliant, after all.

With a loud ripping sound the poodle’s shorts finally gave up the ghost, Arno’s chest soon putting their shirt to the test soon after as seams began to crawl down the poodle’s arms as they waddled about, trying their best to find some way of stopping the changes or to remove the valve behind it all – in vain, much to their chagrin.

Pushing open the door to the employee area, Arno stumbled about as their neck began to swell, fingers mitting together into large pooltoy paws as they finished changing. Maybe if they got out of the store they’d stop changing?

They picked the first exit-looking door they saw as their ears began to swell, hissing loudly as they filled with air – only to discover it was a bathroom.

Grabbing the sink, they stared into the mirror just in time to watch their muzzle plastic over, the corners of their mouth tugging themselves first into a smirk – and then a wide, cartoony grin, which immediately froze into place!

It was over in an instant – and soon enough an inflatable poodle was staring at themselves in an old dusty mirror, a grinning, static face staring back.


They tried one last time to tug the valve free, a last-ditch effort to maybe, just maybe, change back – but only managed to uncap it, the worrying hiss of escaping air reaching their ears just as one of their footpaws began to crumple.


Shuffling out into the hallway, the inflatable poodle managed to make it back out into the store, going flatter with each step…

…only to collapse completely just by the other discarded toys, a flat pile of black and gold plastic, grinning up at the ceiling.

Werecritter? Therecritter (commission)

A commission for my pal @Galuade on twitter!

The server hadn’t been listed – in fact, what few logs she could pull showed it was last active nearly a decade ago. 

As the sendaen wandered out of the world spawn, though, she could definitely see why – this place was creepy. It had evidently been a Halloween world at some point, consisting mostly of sprawling, dimly lit and cobweb-scattered hallways and darkened parlors. Odd portraits hung here and there, reminiscent of past visitors and server admins long gone; it was a curiously epitaphic display, even as Lazuli peeked into the practically antiquated code holding this place together.

It was a miracle it was still even online after how long it’d spent dormant – someone really must’ve wanted to keep the server space up.

Still, as she browsed, she spotted a curious entry ahead on the server map.

A… costume room?

Costumes? The sendaen wondered to herself, already imagining tacky halloween ghosts and pumpkins. Maybe even some cute ones?

Oh, well. Might as well take a look, right?

It didn’t take long to find the proper node to pass through – and soon enough she was gently pushing open an old banded iron door more befitting a castle than a mansion, blinking a little at the sheer difference in brightness this room held from the rest of the place.

Rows upon rows of avatar costumes and the occasional counter and register littered the place, complete with phoned-in musak from a speaker high above, rendering the room in a sort of oddly retail-esque dreamy sense. Was this an asset dropped in from a previous world? It certainly didn’t mesh very well.

Figuring she had nothing better to do, Lazuli began wandering the aisles, running a paw along the rows of costumes and clothing. There were ghosts, zombie masks, the occasional old pop culture reference or movie costume – nothing particularly eye-catching or intriguing, much like an actual halloween costume store tended to be. Rows upon rows of hokey costumes and odd party favors, glamors for avatars and the occasional odd effect or fake weapon.

Points for authenticity, if nothing else.

Finally, as she reached the rear of the room and the exit into the rest of the world, something caught her eye.

A… werewolf mask?

No, there was no wolf involved – it simply read “were”, flickering subtly as if the item hadn’t been properly rendered and was suffering from slight corruption after so many years alone, here.

The documentation didn’t shed much light on the function at all, either; it merely stated it was, quote, “monster fun.”

Whatever that meant.

Gingerly, Lazuli plucked the mask from its resting place – and, immediately, felt… odd.

Very, very odd – even as the mask’s code disintegrated into veritable gibberish, her own felt… corrupted, somehow. Changed. Changing.

She panted, bracing herself against one of the many abandoned countertops as a chill ran up her spine – and then down it.

Her tail, usually fluffy, adorned with a pair of floating digital rings, exploded outwards – growing wilder, less well-kempt. The usually fairly low-poly and relatively simple rings grew jagged, crystalline holography cracking and jutting out into strange new shapes.

Her claws, too, suffered a curious shift – growing longer, sharper, scraping against the tile as she struggled to catch her breath. Something was definitely broken with that mask, but as her proportions began to shift even further – she realized that the changes felt… nice.

She felt more powerful, her senses sharper. It felt awesome.

Her legs grew less fluffy, scales growing both more numerous and more jagged as the changes swept upwards, new musculature filling in! It reminded her vaguely of a werewolf, but without the species change – growing more fluffy here, less fluffy and more monstrous there.

Her hands changed next, Lazuli’s claws cracking slightly as they grew longer, sharper, more intimidating. She flexed her fingers, enjoying the raw strength that flowed through them – but, feeling… off.

An urge to growl came over the sendaen as her neck and shoulder fluff began to grow wild and unruly, fluffing out like a scarf.

[USER_STATE UPDATED TO ENTITY_MONSTER_WEREPLAYER], the console helpfully displayed in the corner of her vision.

Lazuli brought her claws to her face as it, too, began to change – teeth growing sharper, snout stretching out slightly into something more befitting a werecreature – and her hair became unruly, hanging down more over her face! Her horns twisted and grew, looping back on themselves until, finally, with a heavy thud the changed sendaen dropped to all fours, panting against the sheer weight of the experience.

She sat there for a moment, mind whirring – before, with a growl, she knocked over one of the long racks of costumes.

It clattered to the floor with a loud crash, sending various items scattering this way and that – and something about it made her want to do it again!

Soon enough the entire place had been trashed – and, with a triumphant growl, she crossed the boundary back out into the mansion – receiving a brief server message from the ancient autolog for her trouble.

[Happy Halloween! – C]

Do (Not) Overinflate (commission)

A commission for @Firr on twitter, featuring @AuraPuffs!


Firr yawned, flipping over with the thwump of a big skunk tail slapping against a couch.


Aura, currently occupied with bopping his zipper back and forth with his big plush paws, agreed. It was simply too hot to go out, too slow to stay inside; it was, naturally, a lazy, lazy summer day.

A boring summer day.

“Maybe you’ve got something in the garage?” Aura offered, gesturing towards the garage door. It would’ve been easier with thumbs, but it got the message across well enough. “Bikes or something?”

“Just bike pumps,” Firr replied off-handedly, waving a paw. “And what can you do with-“

He paused, and grinned. “Actually, yeah! Let’s go check the garage, huh?”

Aura, puzzled, pushed himself up to waddle after the suddenly-eager skunk, curious. Bike rides were fun, yeah, but… that exciting? Probably not.

Firr ducked through the door ahead of the plushie fox, giggling to himself, and there came the sound of boxes being rummaged through, a few clangs as things were thrown aside, and, curiously, a loud moo.

“C’mon in!” Firr said after a few further barnyard animal sounds, Aura’s curiosity piqued. A surprise?

“What’s the big mystery?” Aura asked, peeking through the door – just in time for a hose to be shoved directly into the plushie’s snout, a rubber band wrapping around it to secure it firmly to the fox!

“Big’s right!” Firr grinned, hefting a little black and green (it looked a bit like him, actually) bike pump, before hammering the handle down with the excitement of someone blowing up something big!

Immediately Aura’s cheeks puffed up as air rushed down the rubber hose, then… stopped, the air going somewhere else. His first thought was his tummy, but, suddenly, his footpaws comically sprung outwards, first doubling, then TRIPLING in size!

“HMPH?” The fox exclaimed in the way only someone with a hose in their mouth can, cheeks burning bright red as their handpaws quickly followed suit! They looked… different. Plastic? Not at all the usual felt and fluff the plushie was used to, as they began to feel lighter with each pump from the pump!

“What’s up, pillow-paws?” Firr teased, giving another pump to the handle. “Hose got your tongue?”

The plushfox didn’t reply, too busy focusing on their still-swelling paws and rounding tummy to pay attention. Squeaking and squirking, Aura tried to reach up towards their snout – failing, of course, as they began to grow too pressurized to bend their arms properly. Aura had almost doubled in height from those alone, wobbling as the hose started to lift past Firr’s head height, still tightly stuffed in Aura’s swelling snout!

This, of course, only compelled Firr to pump faster, a giggle escaping the skunk as Aura began to take up a good portion of the garage itself, rounding out as his arms and legs began to swell out just as his paws had.

“You’re right, the garage WAS more fun,” Firr grinned, giving the fox a few extra pumps as even their ears swelled up, zipper looking like a sprig of grass poking out of the squeaky expanse of white and orange plastic!


Aura’s back finally hit the ceiling, swelling larger, and larger, cheeks burning a bright, almost fluorescent red!

“Aaaand ta-da!” Firr proclaimed, giving the hose a tug as it popped free, rubber band unwinding itself as if it was nothing! A pressurized whoosh of air escaped from Aura’s overfilled squeaky snout for a moment, before it, too, sealed!

“I did a good job, if I say so myself,” Firr boasted, grabbing his vest with both paws and flaring it. “Now, where’s a tether…”

He spun on a heel, starting to walk deeper into the garage, and promptly planting a paw directly on a pipe.

It rolled, pitching the skunk forwards… and, perhaps in an act of karma, directly onto an air compressor’s hose.

“Mmph?” was all Firr had time to say before a nearby broom, precariously perched against a shelf, tipped over… landing directly on the “pressurize” button of the compressor.

The compressor roared to life, filling Firr’s cheeks to practically comical levels – and, completely unsurprisingly, his tummy.

It began to swell normally, as normally as the situation allowed, anyway – but, then began to bulge, the skunk’s legs being pushed aside as a new, squishy, inflatable pink mass pushed from his lower half!

Immediately blushy, Firr spared a look – now being held up by an inflatable udder!


Oh dear.

Trying to reach for the hose, the skunk was stopped as his lower half began to swell outwards, tail shrinking down into a comically small (if still oversized) cow tail, new patterns filling in as the skunk’s usual black fur became simple black spots on white cow vinyl!

He could hear Aura snickering from across the garage as his midsection began to blow up much as his rear had, footpaws reshaping into huge, stompy rounded inflatable cow hooves, handpaws already starting to follow suit as he flailed for the hose. It was no use; he wasn’t going to reach it in time, as even his arms began to grow more rigid, legs now firmly quadrupedal.

He wasn’t even going to be an anthro parade cow?! LAME.

Trying to push himself up, he only managed to force more air out of the udder into the rest of him – shooting his usually soft and fluffy skunk snout out into a huge inflatable cow snout, hose still firmly stuck in it as little horns began to push out of his increasingly squeaky and air-filled head, ears stretching out and one gaining a nice, yellow, inflatable cow tag! (with a price, to boot)

By this point Firr was the size one would usually associate with a bounce house, taking up most of the garage Aura hadn’t already filled, the last little bits of fur falling free as his transformation finished, and popping the hose free as it became too pressurized to stay firmly in, flopping to the floor as the compressor turned off!

The parade-sized fox and cow made eye contact for a moment.



Geo’s Parade Problems (commission)

A silly post-tf commission I did for @GeoHolms!

The sun, warm, bright, came up over the mountains.

Birds chirped, lawnmowers buzzed, and, with the colossal creaking and squeaking something only the size and make of a parade balloon could make, Geo sat up from the field he’d been tethered in next to his house. It had been a weird, weird year – and, as the parade raccoon gently leaned down to wish his husband good morning, he wondered if today would get any weirder.

“Heading out?” Brighton asked, leaning against the windowsill. They looked… a little different today, for whatever reason. Shinier, maybe?

“Just into town!” The parade raccoon boomed, offering a little wave.

“Mind picking up some groceries? Oh, and helium?”

“Sure!” Geo replied, waving goodbye. “Be back later!”

The parade raccoon had already started to float away when the last request had processed. Helium?

Huh! Weird, but not any weirder than anything else that’d happened.

It had taken a while to get used to being nearly three stories tall, but, really, once you got the hang of it, it wasn’t so bad. It made sightseeing easy, for example; it also made traveling across town even easier.

Being mostly plastic and helium, Geo merely floated most of the way, gently pushing off with car-sized paws as he drifted into town. Couldn’t beat it for speed, really!

Finally, as he settled in over his usual shopping spot, the parade raccoon waved down a very, very shocked bunny employee who first noticed the vast shadow then glanced up, gazing back up at him with wide, blue eyes.

“Good morning!” Geo boomed, his voice slightly echo-y from, well, being hollow.

“G-Good morning?” The employee balked, taking a few steps back. “Can I, uh, help… you?”

“Yes, actually!” Geo grinned down at the bunny, unfurling a list the size of a mid-size sedan.

The bunny sighed. Long day today, and the shift just started.

His first errand finished, the raccoon wandered across town, mentally checking it off his list; scaring the employees of a party supply store half to death by peeking in through their skylight and picking up his order of a pallet of helium tanks and balloons, for, uh, a party, of course! No other reasons, right?

“Thanks!” Geo called down, new purchases hanging from one of his parade tethers as he drifted back to the store just in time to catch the bunny wheeling the last cart of groceries out, who swiftly darted back down the stairs inside when they spotted him.

Huh. Wonder what their problem was!

Leaving a tip, Geo swept the groceries up into his grasp, second errand done!

“And not even a single thing bumped into!” Geo exclaimed happily, huge ringtail knocking a neon sign off of a nearby building.

There was just one last errand on the day’s list – being volunteered for the local parade today!

Wait, since when had he signed up for a parade? Geo squinted at the list written on the back of one of his paws, and shrugged. Oh, well. Might as well, right?

It was actually kind of fun, letting a handler team drag the parade raccoon around town, waving at people as he drifted by. He’d come close to getting stuck between buildings a few times when the wind had picked up, but for the most part he’d had a great time!

He’d even been thanked by the mayor, a little golden star sticker being added to his huge inflatable nose.

“You’re an honorary parade guest!” The mayor had promised, giving the huge raccoon a wink. “Come back any time!”

The trip home was largely uneventful, until he’d finally reached his house… and noticed the huge, tan tail filling much of the street.

Geo dropped their groceries gently on the lawn, peeking down at the massive, squishy coyote nose currently poked out of the front door.



“What… happened?”


Geo couldn’t exactly argue with that.

Plopping down on the yard, the raccoon sighed, listening to the groaning of his inflatable husband and the poor walls he’d filled.

“We’re going to need a bigger house.”

All That Glitters (commission)

A commission for @snouttalk on twitter!

“Oh… wow.”

Arno clicked on their headlamp as they crouched through the uncovered doorway, glancing up into the yawning expanse they’d uncovered at their latest dig site. The Professor was going to be blown away by this – they’d probably get an award!

It was a vast, football field sized room; lined with Roman mosaic tiles, columns long-broken cluttering the edges. How and when this palace had been buried was a mystery to everyone involved, but the interior seemed to have held up… incredibly well. Strikingly well! It wasn’t even musty, merely… dusty. Old.

Arno clicked on their video recorder, starting to go over the architecture and construction of the palace. Easily first century construction, with scattered painted pottery and the occasional piece of jewelry drawing the dog’s eye. Could those sell?

The curious thought of how they would look in one of the necklaces struck them, though, as they finally reached the far side of the room. A large, dusty throne commanded the space, what once must’ve been fine linens and a cushion occupying the seat. Something upon it glinted in the light of the lamp, though.

A… necklace?

Curious, Arno plucked the necklace from its resting place, turning it over in their palm. Solid gold, as far as they could tell, with a green gem pressed into the pendant. Tourmaline?

Glancing around to make sure none of the other members of the dig had wandered in, Arno grinned. Might as well take a souvenir, right? Who’d miss it?

They slipped the necklace over their head, letting it rest against the fabric of their shirt…

…and froze, solid. A shock went from the tip of their tail to the top of their head, standing the poodle ramrod-straight, and, as if from thin air, a figure resolved from the dust on the throne.

Electric blue eyes stared into Arno’s golden gaze, the golden laurel the figure wore commanding a surprising amount of obedience from the frozen dog. A… rabbit?

“Well, now.” The figure spoke, resting their chin on a palm, bracing themself on the arm of the throne. “Two millennia and this is the best that wanders in?”

“Huh?” Arno managed, feeling the necklace grow heavier – tugging their gaze downwards, towards golden braces on the floor. They sparkled in the lamplight, and seemingly on autopilot they, too, were put on.

The second they were clipped on, the poodle’s mind went foggy; face drooping slightly as the intelligent focus behind it waned. They needed more jewelry. It didn’t feel complete, a compulsion striking the poodle to wear as much as possible, to show off, to serve.

“My, how obedient!” The figure on the throne chuckled, snapping their fingers together. Arno snapped to attention, intently focused on the rabbit’s paw – and, with a gesture, retrieved a small, wooden chest from beside the throne.

Arno tried to put the box back down, recognizing this wasn’t exactly the best situation to be stuck in – but their paws wouldn’t obey, walking them back to the front of the throne and sitting the box down as the Emperor commanded it, sliding it open.

Inside, cupped in soft, ancient fabric, were a pair of golden piercings, glimmering softly in the light.

The poodle fought as their paws gently plucked the piercings from their resting places, sliding their coat and shirt off as the necklace began to shift and change, whatever magic it exerted over the dog now reshaping it into a collar of sorts! The piercings soon adorned the dazed dog’s chest, chained to the collar with elaborate, fine gold links.

Their mind swam, awash with the suggestive thoughts the jewelry layered over their usual thoughts, banishing the thought of leaving at all from their mind. After all, didn’t servants serve? Who better to serve than the Emperor themself?

“It has been a long time,” The rabbit intoned, shifting into a more comfortable pose. “Fetch me my wine, would you?”

Arno didn’t even respond, merely shuffling across the ruined throne room and somehow, despite never having seen this room before, knowing exactly where it was, fetching the bottle and a cup. Wine was poured, and the poodle stood there slack, like a marionette waiting for someone to tug their strings.

There was a quiet rumble of falling rocks outside of the throne room, along with distant footsteps.

“Arno?” Someone called, a flashlight being shone into the room as someone evidently came looking for them.

The voice seemed distantly familiar, but the dog didn’t care.

“More guests? Oh, wonderful,” The rabbit grinned, a cold, calculating grin. “Show them in, would you? A court of one is no court at all.”

Arno turned, heading for the entrance – but, before they passed the first column paused.

Reaching down into a discarded box, they tugged free a few more of the odd tourmaline necklaces; evidently, once the insignia of the imperial servants themselves.

The rest of the dig site crew would look nice in them, wouldn’t they?

Rock and Roll


“You’ve got to be kidding.”

“Not even in the slightest.”

The bunny was staring, slack-jawed, at a message currently occupying the larger holotable of the Farsight’s bridge – a private communique from the corporation behind the Saccio Open, a race they’d (technically) won a little over a year ago.

They still had the trophy, mounted over the doorway in the little ship’s mess.

“Mx. Kellen,” It read, shimmering slightly in the holographic light. “Your performance at Saccio as a newcomer was excellent – and, on the behalf of the Core Circuit, we have been authorized to grant you access as a first-time contender in the premier race of our decennial circuit, the Kincade Blitz!”

“Kincade Blitz?”

“…Snub fighter race, according to what I can pull.  Six competitors, six thousand kilometer track through the Kincade belt.”

“…Isn’t that stupidly dangerous?”


Cai sighed, rubbing their temples. It’d been a slow year for business, and they… well, it’d been a long time since they’d last been behind the controls of a fighter of any kind. Why not?

“Send a reply, Rembrandt.”

“A no, I presume?”

“A yes,” The bunny grinned, already locking in the course.

“We’re going to Kincade!”

Kincade was a relatively rural system corewards and anti-spinwards of Sol – sporting a single colony world, Kincade, which the system was named after. Covered in sprawling farmlands and shallow, salty seas, it was the perfect place to meet up with Jac and go over the fighter they’d be piloting in the Blitz.

“So this is it?” Cai wondered aloud, running a paw along the hull of the tiny craft. Roughly V-shaped, with a protruding cockpit and microthrusters lining the rear of the V – along with a small, disabled plasma emitter. “Guess I expected something…”



“Well, it’s not. The Blitz has a specific length maximum to prevent thrust ratios from being unfair.”

“Makes sense,” Cai conceded, hitting the release to clamber inside and look around. The canopy raised as it split down the middle, receding into the sides.

“Got a name?” The rabbit questioned, settling into the chair. It felt nice to be behind the controls of something smaller than the Farsight, already sinking into the muscle memory startup sequences they’d drilled when still a member of the Navy.

Jac shook his head. “I’ve been too busy sorting parts for the skimmer, you’re lucky I managed to get this here in time.”


Cai shook the throttle sticks a little, satisfied with how easily they moved, firm but responsive.

“Lady Luck.”

“…Sure,” Jac shrugged, setting the little drones to work inscribing the name and SRN on the side. 

“Here’s to victory,” Cai whispered to themself, patting the ship’s controls with a paw. “Let’s show those hot shots what a real fighter jockey can do, huh?”

The next day came quickly – and, soon enough, Cai was tugging on the high-g oxygen gear they were required to wear for the race, clambering into the fighter’s tiny cockpit as they were loaded aboard the civilian carrier the Kincade Blitz used as a launching point. They’d spent the evening beforehand piloting a simulated version of the course, following the rough infinity-symbol shaped course along the navigation buoy marked route over and over, relearning how the pilot in such high-gravity situations.

Now, as Cai gripped the throttles, the voice of Jac crackled in their ear.

“Okay, preliminary checks seem… good? I can’t really provide support out there, race rules.”

“I can handle it,” The bunny grinned, flashing a mock-salute as the race preshow began to draw to a close. “I did this for a living!”

Jac rolled his eyes, stepping away as the hangar was cleared – and then the lights went out.

Depressurization klaxons began to sound as the launch bay drained, the massive door to the front of the room grinding open to reveal the tumbling ballet of interstellar rock that was the Kincade Belt – and the first nav beacon ahead, glowing a bright green in the AR-augmented screens of the Lady Luck.

“Racers!” A voice called over the radio, giddy with excitement. “Spool up those engines, we’re ready in ten!”

Cai, fingers darting over the controls, brought the fighter online.


The others did the same, torch thrusters glowing bright orange in the dark of the bay.


Cai shared a glance with the fighter to their right, receiving a thumbs-up from the pilot of the Ebony Starlight.

They returned the gesture.


Steeling themself, they gripped the throttles tighter. 


The lights over the hangar door changed to two yellow lights.


One green light.


Two green lights, and the fighters roared out of the hangar into open black, anti-collision software preventing them from getting too close as the first beacon was crossed, Cai falling into fourth place as they were forced to dodge the first rock. Nine beacons to go!

The racers were like water on leaves, skipping across the surface of the asteroids as they rolled and tumbled, dodging the smaller rocks and each other. Cai’s own piloting experience held some merit, eventually sliding the rabbit back into second place – but the fighter in front, Blue Eagle, was a league of its own.

They’d almost passed it on the fifth beacon, and actually managed to tie it on the seventh – but, as the eighth loomed ahead in the central hole of a large, donut-shaped asteroid – it was looking as if they’d end up coming in second if they even managed to hold that.

That simply wasn’t acceptable.

“Rembrandt,” Cai grunted, g-forces pressing the rabbit into their seat as they threw the fighter into a close arc around the bumpy surface of an asteroid, rolling it to avoid fragments of rock as a smaller one slammed into it. “Got any ideas?!”

Technically the AI wasn’t supposed to be aboard – but technically, he inhabited Cai’s implant, not the fighter. Not against the rules, just like the Ebony Starlight’s nonstandard thrusters were technically allowed.

“Overpressure wouldn’t help you, here – it works for straight-ahead thrust, not maneuvering thrust. A moment.”

Cai gritted their teeth, speeding through the eighth beacon on a rocket ride; Blue Eagle was still just ahead, following the route he’d clearly planned ahead of time.

“Uploading new route to your nav. Might be the edge we need.”


Cai blinked at the screen. “Between these rocks?!”

“You asked for a quicker route, I provided. Safety wasn’t part of it.”

The rabbit sighed, throwing the fighter into a steep dive to follow the route the AI had created. “If I die, I’ll kill you.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

Instead of the relatively clear route the race usually was supposed to take, the rabbit had taken a path through a thicker patch of asteroids, hoping to use some of the larger ones for gravity assists – and, as they dove between a massive pair of rocks in the middle of forming a new planetoid, they had to admit it wasn’t a bad idea.

It was a terrible idea!

“Rembrandt!” Cai shouted, a large piece of rock sending spiderweb cracks along the canopy. “How much further?!”

“Not far!” The AI protested, directing the rabbit’s attention ahead as they dove through a subterranean cave, only Cai’s quick reflexes and AI-enhanced perception getting them through in one piece – and, as they broke through a fragile rock wall to emerge just above the ninth beacon, flying an AR finish line flag, Cai was ecstatic – until they spotted the Blue Falcon, tearing towards them.

Cai snarled, throwing the fighter into as steep and rapid a dive as they could, pushing the g-force inhibitor to the very limit – crossing the line at exactly the same time the other craft did, to raucous applause and celebration!

Cai, for the moment, slumped back in their chair – they’d done it!

They’d finished the race, winning be damned! That was tough!

“That…” Cai breathed, panting, “was awesome.”

The announcer’s voice crackled through the ship’s radio, just as Cai boosted their oxygen supply ever so slightly. “Folks, in my decades of hosting this race I’ve never seen a finish like that – we have a tie!”

Cai sat straight up.
“A tie?!”

Some Strings Attached (commission)

A commission for @Sqrlster on twitter!

Parade Day,  the flyer read in cheery, balloonish font. Celebrating sixty years of parades, downtown! Why, you might ask, would we hold a parade for parades? Why not?

Sqrl blinked at the flyer he’d been handed, slightly confused. A parade day for parades? What kind of event was…

His internal monologue trailed off as he noticed the large, underlined “FREE FOOD” at the bottom of the flyer, and shrugged. Free food was free food, who cares if the event was weird, right?

“Hm. I’ve got a few hours, why not?” Sqrl affirmed aloud, spinning on one of his big paws to head deeper into town, towards the music he could hear!

It was a huge, bustling affair; an entire city block had been filled to the brim with crowds and booths and live music, the smell of carnival food and hissing of distant floats being filled adding to the busy surroundings in wonderfully weird ways. Sqrl sampled a little bit of everything as he wandered along, humming to the music – before he began to feel a bit… odd. Lighter on his big paws. Must just be the fun I’m having!

“Say,” One of the event staffers called, waving the squirrel over. “You look like a trustworthy sort – care to help me get the floats ready?”

Sqrl nodded enthusiastically – who didn’t like blowing up balloons?

He followed the staff member into a back tent, walking along the rear of the event towards the adjacent street the parade balloons were being filled on – all the way not noticing his paws beginning to swell, his tail’s fur starting to mat over into plastic starting with the tail tip.

The staffer seemed to notice for a moment, before the bunny shrugged and kept walking, after all – what was one more parade balloon? 

It was barely any time at all before Sqrl had started to help out, unfurling big, cartoonish animal floats from their boxes and trucks they’d been stored in since last year’s parades – even if touching them made the squirrel feel a little more odd, their fingers tingling as they finally plopped down on a surprisingly softer rear to take a quick break.

“Whew!” He sighed happily, wiping his brow. Two hours of nothing but filling balloons? Ridiculous!

“Okay!” The rabbit finally said aloud, clapping his paws together. “Just one balloon left and we’re ready to start.”

“One?” Sqrl asked, glancing around. He certainly didn’t see any, aside from the ones already drifting overhead. “Where?”

“Where?” The rabbit asked, chuckling a little. “That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?”

As if on cue, the squirrel’s paws doubled in size.

Tripled, even!


The hissing he’d been hearing all day wasn’t far away – it was right under his nose!

Well, his belt line, too. Either way, the squirrel jumped up in surprise as his lower body suddenly began to rapidly expand, stretching his poor shorts to the breaking point as his increasingly parade-sized thighs began to strain and stretch past what they would hold – splitting down the legs and falling to the ground as the bunny staffer watched with a mixture of amusement and anticipation!

Was this why I felt so weird today?! Sqrl thought to himself, trying to press on his tummy with his handpaws as it, too, began to swell outwards – Sqrl’s big tail stretching and inflating into something more befitting a parade-sized critter than a normal squirrel, bumping into a few helium tanks he’d used earlier to fill a bunny float! They, promptly, fell to the ground hissing.

Sqrl, by now, was feeling… dizzy.


I… gotta get up, the squirrel lazily thought to himself, mind swimming as his shirt finally started to tear and rip, handpaws blowing up into massive, parade-sized versions of themselves as he watched, arms swelling from his armpits outwards into rounded, plastic tubes full of helium.

He didn’t want to get up, even as little hoops began to pop out of his big footpaws, ropes attaching themselves seemingly by magic! 

“How’s the last balloon coming, folks? The parade’s due to start in ten minutes!” A voice from somewhere out of view called, drawing the rabbit’s focus.

“Almost done!” The rabbit called, quickly tethering the brand new ropes to their spots on the tarmac as Sqrl began to grow larger, stretching both upwards and outwards as the curious sensation to flop over began to gnaw at their thoughts. Parade balloons didn’t stand up, did they? They were on all fours!

Dazed, Sqrl flopped over – starting to lift off of the pavement as two ropes dangled from their huge, rounded paws, quickly gathered up by the bunny and tied down, too. H-Huh… did I always have those?

The squirrel managed a glance downwards, feeling just how right it felt to drift there – and how familiar the tethers holding them down against the wind were. Of course I had those!

They looked silly; a massive, parade balloon squirrel body with a tiny, fluffy head topping it – though, as the changes crawled up their neck, even that began to shift. First to change was the squirrel’s snout, springing outwards with a loud fwoomp of filling plastic as his smile became simple detailing paint, followed by his nose! 

His eyes followed next, first freezing straight ahead, then flattening into simple, painted-on Sqrl eyes – and, finally, even his ears swelled up, his whole head filling and swelling until it, too, was parade-sized!

B-But… squeak?

Sqrl’s thoughts were scattered, bouncing around inside his empty helium-filled head – until, finally, they stopped as the tanks ran dry; just another parade balloon for the Parade Day festivities!

The bunny cheered, clapping his paws together as he called a handler crew over.

“C’mon, let’s get started!”

The bunny tugged on their cap, grinning up at the huge inflatable squirrel’s face. “It’s time for a parade!”

Toy Delivery (commission)

A commission for @sockfox on twitter!

Sock was bored.

It was a hot, muggy August day – and he’d been cooped up inside for much of the summer instead of going to, well, anything summery. No pool, no cook-outs, nothing!

It was either too hot, too rainy, or too… busy!

So, maybe that’s why he was so surprised when a package was dropped on his front porch one hot afternoon, a simple cardboard box with only his address and the curious company sender title “Summer Fun, Inc” printed on the label. Could you even send mail without a return address?

Sock, hefting the surprisingly light box, glanced around. No mailman in sight, no mysterious gifter walking off down the sidewalk that they’d surely have seen – it was if it had appeared from thin air!

What could be inside?

Carrying the box back in, the fox plopped it down on the table, digging through the nearby kitchen drawers for a box cutter or a knife; eventually one turned up, and Sock gently cut the tape holding the top flaps shut.

Inside was… yellow.

Something folded, yellow, and soft to the touch – vinyl?

Did I order inflatables and forget? Sock wondered to himself, confused. Oh, well. Might as well puff one up to see what it looked like, right?

Tugging a pump out of the closet, the fox gently unfolded the flattened toy, taking notice of the long, brown-tipped ears and little painted-on bucktooth. A bunny!

Stuffing the hose in the toy’s valve, Sock began to pump – watching with delight as the toy began to fill, little ears standing up as it began to round out to a cute, anthro bunny shape. A squeaky mop of blond hair crowned the toy’s head, along with a little star-shaped barcode on their thigh – it was, all in all, pretty cute by inflatable standards. So cute, in fact, that he forgot that he hadn’t actually even ordered it. Lucky mistake, huh?

Finally, after about ten minutes of pumping, the toy was full – and Sock was exhausted, tugging the hose free and capping the bunny’s valve. Whew.

It stood about three and a half feet tall, cute little smile and bright blue eyes seeming to stare right back.

“Well, aren’t you cute!” The fox chuckled, giving the toy’s nose a little boop, sending it rocking. The box included two more, too – what a score!

For now, though, he felt like a couch nap was the best option, yawning as he turned to head for the living room – but pausing at a quiet squeak behind him.

Glancing back, the toy was just as he’d left it – maybe a little more towards the table than he remembered, but he could’ve moved it when he’d touched it.

Shrugging, Sock wandered off to take a nap… and the toybunny set to work filling its friends, dragging them out of the box first, then filling them up with the pump Sock had left behind!

The fox woke up a little while later to… well, to a sight, certainly.

Three bunny faces were peering down at them in various states of curiosity, and as he shouted in alarm and surprise they all bounced back!

“U-Uh,” Sock stammered, coming face to face with moving… inflatables?!

Since when did they move?!

Sock got his answer when the same pump he’d used earlier was plopped down on the couch, one of the toys stuffing the hose in his mouth!


Another pressed down the handle, a hiss of air rushing down the hose and swelling out his cheeks… but this was different, seeming to quickly go down as the air went somewhere else.


The toybunny settled into a rhythm, pumping air into the bewildered fox even as their tummy began to swell, sliding their shirt upwards. Their eyes instantly darted to a bump, pressing out where a belly button was a few moments ago – and, before Sock’s very own eyes, he gained a soft, translucent plastic valve, much like the one the three rabbits sported! 

The third bunny giggled, the first sound any of them had made aside from the squeaks of their movement. “Ta-da!”


No reply, that time. 

Slowly, methodically, the fur around the valve began to mat down – softening, smoothing into Sock-patterned vinyl in a wave of tingling change; sweeping first over the sides of the bewildered fox’s tummy, but also spreading upwards beneath his shirt, and downwards, out of sight.

The thought occurred to him that he could’ve simply tugged the hose free; in fact, he could do it right now, but… for whatever reason, the motivation wouldn’t come. He was much more satisfied watching the change than actually stopping it.

He felt his lower body begin to lighten, plastic and seams slowly crawling the length of the fox’s tail until even the very tip solidified into a plasticine, vulpine shape; finely (if simply) detailed, flat pattern swaths modeling the fox’s usual fur patterns in expertly-sprayed lines. It squeaked slightly beneath him as he moved it, legs and footpaws following suit as he raised one to see. His toes first melded together as the plastic washed over them, vinyl digits joining into a cute, if not very useful, vinyl paw-mitt.

It was at this point that the hose was tugged out of the fox’s mouth, and gently stuffed into the valve now peeking out from beneath a shirt that didn’t quite fit anymore, inflatable rounded thighs making Sock’s poor shorts strain and groan.

Again, the puffing began – this time, forcing his arms slightly outwards as they inflated from the base outwards, chest hollowing out with a deep, satisfying tingling sensation! Testingly, he squeezed his flank, delight welling up inside as it gave beneath his grip much like one would expect air-filled vinyl to. 

A new sensation from his back sent his paws searching there, too; soft, pliable squared-off hoops of plastic had emerged from the middle of his back, recognizable as handles from the feeling alone. Pooltoy handles, for… a pooltoy fox. Made sense, he supposed.

His arms continued to change, fingers starting to melt together much as his toes had. It was fascinating to watch, fur and fluff first seeming to merge together, before gaining the slight translucency and lightness of air-filled plastic. He gave his paws a testing open-and-close, listening to the quiet squirks of vinyl on vinyl.

At this point even the three rabbits were watching the fox’s changes with curiosity, as it began to crawl up his neck and onto his face! Sock felt the urge to giggle, forcing it down for a moment, before he began to smirk.

Then grin.

Then laugh, a long, drawn out giggle escaping his snout…

…and then, nothing, as it solidified into a plastic, painted on smile, nose flattening on as simple detail paint!

His mitts instantly flew to his face, tugging on the smile. But how will I breathe?! 

Panic gripped the fox for a moment, before he realized he… wasn’t breathing. He didn’t even feel as if he needed to breathe, as his vision blurred for a moment as his eyes, too, became simple detailing paint on a Sock-shaped inflatable.

The last to change, fittingly, was the fox’s ears. His hearing swam for a moment as fur and skin turned to plastic, before returning somewhat echo-y; whether that was due to his new ears or the fact he was now hollow remained to be seen.

With a quick little tug the hose popped free, Sock’s valve quickly being capped by the three inflatable rabbits – and, as he sat up, dizzy, one saluted.

Another grabbed a piece of paper from the coffee table and a pen, scribbling something.

After a few moments, the toybunny spun around, holding out a hastily (and somewhat poorly) scribbled sign.


Sock would’ve giggled if he could. Pool day, indeed.



“Hey, you’re not supposed to be in here!”

The security guard unholstered his sidearm, leveling the holosights squarely over center-mass of the figure currently hunched over a server, hands buried in the meshspace interface that made up the front panel.

Neither moved for a moment.

“…Control, I’ve got an intruder on level sixty-“

The guard didn’t finish his statement as the crouched figure whirled around, palm outstretched just enough to slap the sidearm out of his grasp. Stunned, the guard made a grab for them as they slipped by to the right, connecting for just a moment with the fabric of their nanoweave jacket before they made it into the hallway, steering a hard right towards the elevators.

“Lock down the damn lifts!” The guard practically screamed into his mic, grabbing his gun from the floor and hurrying after. “Get a team up here, we’ve got a data breach!”

Cai, to their credit, was no stranger to running. They’d spent years as a data courier, time as a merc working out on the backwater worlds of the shallows, seen things fellow spacers would dismiss off-hand.

…but, even they had to admit, this job had them doing things they’d never have dreamed of otherwise.

The rabbit skidded to a stop in front of the elevator just as it dinged – the doors sliding open to reveal a heavily armed GSyn tac-team who filled the spot they’d occupied a few moments before with enough particle beam fire to light up the night sky.

“Guess I’ll take the stairs!” Cai shouted, ducking and weaving as the shouts of the team spilling out of the lift fell behind. 

The hallway they were running down skirted the outside of the Ganso Syndicate’s headquarters on Sanibel – a towering obsidian edifice that stood stark against the rest of the glittering skyline. The glow of the vast city beyond the glass cast the bunny in sharp relief as they ducked mid-run, a particle beam searing overhead as the team started to catch up.

Up ahead the hallway took a sharp right turn to run along more offices and board rooms, following the contours of the building. Shouts could be heard around the corner – apparently a second team was trying to box them in.

Cai sighed – and readied their last resort.

Being a posthuman, the rabbit’s frame wasn’t… strictly baseline. They’d had it modified over the years with various enhancements and reinforcements, and as the two teams drew their weapons and shouted for the bunny to freeze, they threw their plan into action. Adrenaline flooded their system as injector implants did their jobs, slowing their surroundings to a crawl. Cai blurred as their own sidearm was pulled from the holster, two shots leaving the barrel in rapid succession.

One hit the window ahead at the bottom, sending cracks spider-webbing across it – and the second shattered it, wind sucking the shattered glass up and away as the sweltering Sanibel night spilled in through the breach.

Crossing the distance in four steps the bunny catapulted through the halo of shattered glass still falling from the wounded frame, a beam catching their jacket alight from a near miss – and plummeted into the dark, leaving the two tacteams staring after as they dropped away into the glittering night sprawl.

Luckily it wasn’t as far a fall as it might have been – they only dropped three stories, smashing through the polarized glass ceiling of a neighboring penthouse and leaving a sizable amount of damage on the various expensive bits of furniture scattered about inside. 

They lay there for a moment, vision spinning as their internal diagnostics returned a solid “yellow” and protested against being thrown out of a building, before standing up and picking their pistol back up.

Tugging the little transponder their contact had given them before the op out of their jacket lining, Cai clicked it – and it turned a soft, cool blue.

Their comm clicked.

“…About goddamn time,” They huffed, sliding it into their ear and checking their pistol. Four rounds, two spare mags.

“I trust you retrieved what I needed?” The voice on the other end intoned, curiosity peaking around the edges of their voice.

“Yeah, yeah,” Cai shrugged, bringing their pistol up as the penthouse’s occupant – a portly baseline in a red robe, gawking at his ceiling and shattered furniture – threw open the door, quickly getting out of the way as they gestured to the side. Rushing down the hallway they slammed a fist into the elevator button, sighing as the doors finally slid shut and the elevator began to rumble downwards. 

“You’re pushing my silicon pretty far, you know. Almost an exabyte of data is a pretty substantial chunk of my frame’s storage.”

“You’ll be well compensated.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Cai sighed, ducking to the side as the doors finally opened.

The lobby was empty – unsurprising, as it was just past four in the morning on Sanibel.

Sirens filled the night air, a pair of security skimmers swooping past as the Syndicate began sweeping the surrounding blocks for them.

“There’s a meshdiver bar three blocks north. Offload the data there into my private nexus. Sending you the access key now.”

A soft ding sounded as the message arrived – and the AR overlay map their hud implant highlighted the bar in question, outside of the Syndicate’s sweeper zones.

“…On my way,” Cai sighed, closing the channel.

The bar was more of a rundown meshspace cafe than a proper dive, with a lowered room with a bar lining the back wall and a pair of hallways stretching out to either side lined with mixed-reality immersion rooms. It gave the place a roughly T-shaped design, and as the bunny took their seat in their rented room and felt their surroundings melt away, they called forth the general directory for Sanibel.

“Gold zero-zero-sigma.” They calmly stated aloud, watching the dawn-hued fog around them ripple with their every word. “Waves upon beaches, tides upon shores.” 

The fog parted – gone was the drab peeling walls of Jandy’s, this was a richly furnished office atop a Sanibel high-rise.

A desk sat across the room – with a figure seated behind it, soft cigar smoke drifting into the evening air.

“Ah. You must be the courier.”

“Kellen.” Cai said simply. Taking a seat wasn’t needed – the transfer request had already arrived and been approved, as the exabyte of stolen data was siphoned away into the client’s reception buffer.

“Very well done,” The figure behind the desk stated, amusement tugging at the edges of their tone. 

“I aim to please.”

“You came highly recommended on Sanibel, my friend. I see our efforts were not… wasted.”

The figure crossed their arms, revealed to be the gunmetal grey of a synthframe. “Payment has been processed. You may leave.”

It wasn’t a suggestion. The office faded away as the fog rolled in, the familiar brief discomfort of returning to their mesh-bridge causing Cai to shake their head. This was the third contract in a row since their arrival on this world that they’d been in the dark on – and it was starting to worry them.

The payment window for their brief time at Jandy’s resolved from the fog, along with a canned “thank you for your business” video file – both of which were dealt with with a quick swipe of a palm, draining two hundred credits from their luckily just-replenished funds as they made their way back into the busy streets of the city.

Oh, well. Ten hours to kill before their next job.

Where to?

Salvage Frame (commission)

A commission for @vanillayote on twitter!

Rain didn’t really know what to expect when he’d first come out to the Far Belt three years ago, but… success didn’t lie.

The coyote-pattern bioframe was just one of many scavs and scrappers that plied the far reaches of the Mylae system – it being a gateway system for the various skimmers and jumpships passing towards the Old Core meant plenty of debris and ship detritus to pick over, system authorities handing out hefty paydays to those who kept their orbital space clean and easily traversable.

So, today’s run had brought Rain out to the gravity shadow of the system’s farthest planetoid, Scipio – slowly picking over the ancient ruins of some long-forgotten skimmer buoy caught in the steady if weak pull of the planetoid as it wandered along its lonely path.

“Let’s see what we have today…” Rain grinned to himself, shuffling a few rations floating about in the low gravity of the salvage rig’s cockpit aside to press the shutter retraction key on the dingy old orange screen.

It complied with a loud rattle, shooting upwards – and revealing a veritable field of salvage, glittering ice from flash-frozen atmosphere twirling about in the metallic blizzard beyond. Larger pieces flittered here and there, all being marked by the rig’s “dumb” AI as it catalogued and sorted them by metallic purity and content.

Finally, a complete list was ready – along with the bad news, fed to him by the rig itself. Moving closer, with so much debris moving so erratically, was a bad idea through and through. Even if he made it there safely, there was no telling if the rig would survive an impact – or, more likely, if it wouldn’t simply be crushed by the larger pieces as they moved about the moon’s weak lagrange point.

He’d have to go in the old fashioned way – suit and tether, thruster pack included.

Normally bad news, this excited the coyote for one simple reason – they’d recently made a purchase on the back of their latest haul with this exact situation in mind, and now they had a real reason to use it!

“Alright, let’s see…” He hummed to himself as he unclipped the crash seat’s belts, drifting into the recycled air of the bridge. The new system had been installed just sternwards of the bridge in the old maintenance quarters, and with a gently kick-off the coyote drifted out of the bridge and inside.

There, a chair sat – various bioframe interface ports and automated devices lining the arms and legrest standing it far apart from the pilot’s crashseat he’d occupied a moment earlier.

The first step, naturally, was to extend the rig’s command and control network far enough to cover the wreck – something easily accomplished as he slipped into the chair, granting the basic AI control over the ship’s systems while he was “away”, so to speak.

Next, he hit the locking mechanism on the chair – clasps locking the coyote’s arms and legs into place as the chair’s interface ports aligned with his frame, connecting the frame to the shipwide meshnet and starting to feed info to the framelink required for the next step.


The coyote keyed the proper response – and his world went white, sensory inputs slowing to a trickle – before they were absent, entirely.

The coyote stood in a stark, white place – absent of even a horizon. A link behind him led back to the frame he’d just left, the “Rain” he most identified with and had become analogous to himself – and ahead, another link existed, this to the thing he’d picked up on Mylae during his last brief time ashore.

Gently reaching out, the coyote’s fingers gently brushed against the link – and his mind exploded into color, overwhelmed as if a wave had rolled him against the seabed.

Then, nothing.

It took him a few moments to even realize anything had changed. He was no longer in a chair, that much was certain. While he couldn’t see, native LIDAR the frame possessed for moving in darkness gave him a rudimentary vision, enough to glance around. Rain was tightly gripped in a metal… tube, of some sort, darkened screens surrounding him on all sides. Something was pressed against his back, and after a moment’s struggle he finally managed to activate the frame’s ocular sensors and auditory receptors.

Slowly, gradually, the world faded back in – darkened, various screens displaying readouts and interface information flickering to life as the rig’s AI complied with the orders sent earlier. His first instinct was to take a deep breath – something impossible, as the frame he currently inhabited lacked any sort of biological components whatsoever. He glanced down as his mind finally synced with the synthframe, bending his large, pressurized suit-fingers. Diagnostics told him the suit was fully pressurized and ready for extravehicular activity, and with a quick thought the CORE unit attached a pair of tethers and re-equipped the salvage grips to the frame’s hands.

So this is the frame, he thought to himself, glancing backwards at the large, largely cosmetic tail it sported. He’d always liked skunks.

Not bad.

The tube slid open, and the frame stepped out onto the bare, vacuum exposed hull of the rig – magnetic soles holding him firmly to the metal. His ocular HUD overlaid the scans from earlier across the glittering starscape, firmly planting the most likely location of the old buoy’s fusion cells nearly straight “up” from where he was standing.

Well, he mused, activating the frame’s RCS maneuvering thrusters to lift off into the ever-shifting debris field.

Here goes nothing.