[34] The Gift

Nihlus dropped his half-eaten biscuit as soon as his ears picked up the tiniest hiss from the airlock. He put Saren’s much-too-expensive plate on the counter, then shoved the rest–some documents, an omni-tool, a few OSDs–off the worktable, narrowly missing the portable terminal. There was just enough time to pull his rumpled shirt into shape before Saren walked in, laden with at least five metal cases.

He wasted no time in snatching four of them out of Saren’s hands and haphazardly piling them on the table. Saren sighed, put the fifth one down, and caught the long, sleek one before it slid off the edge.

“For a fan of technology,” he said as he somehow managed to open all of them on the damn small table, “you’re not very careful.”

“Yeah, but I make up for it in enthusiasm.”

There it was, the familiar what-do-I-do-with-you mandible flick. “This is the new chassis. Special order, extra weight along the barrel as a tradeoff for stability.”

“Good for two thousand metres,” Nihlus cut in.

Saren put that aside–how did the table have so much space all of a sudden?–and opened the complex lock on the next. “At least this ended up on top of that pile. A core with fifty percent additional eezo comes neither easily nor cheaply.”

Nihlus watched hungrily as the core slid into the waiting cavity, a row of seals clicking shut after Saren released the safety. “There’s more, right?”

“Scope.” Saren gave it a drill-inspection kind of look. “Same specifications as on your current rifle.”

“Looks a lot better to me.”

“No greasy fingerprints.”

Nihlus shrugged off the comment. “What’s in that one?”

“Ammunition. This rifle takes a different matrix.”

He leaned in close, close enough to peck Saren on the cheek if he wanted. “Tell me about it.”

As oblivious as always, Saren did in an even voice. “I requested a higher tungsten content. You will find it much more lethal.”

“Lethal how?” Nihlus whispered.

“Anti-armour designation. It will penetrate glass, thin ceramic, and most polymers. Coupled with the more powerful core, I believe it should boost effective range by several hundred metres.”

“Great,” Nihlus laughed. “Now I’m horny. Hope you’re happy.”

“You haven’t asked what’s in the last box.”

And Saren smiled.

Misfire anon says Happy Holidays–or Happy End of Semester, whichever the case may be.

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