Myassa grunted as she sat down. “What is it?” she said.

“You have one new notification,” replied her assistant.

“Local or regional?”

“The notification bears a Vyeah Commerce Guild seal with Level Three pheromones, endorsed by a Krne Confederacy intermediary in the FTL network, and counter-signed by both the Reorganized United Nations and the American Republic.”

“Impressive.” Myassa raised her eyebrows. It wasn’t often that the Vyeah saw fit to seal anything themselves; as long as the profits and goods kept flowing, they were usually quite happy to let their collaborators do the talking. “What’s the message?”

“The message reads as follows,” the assistant chirped. “I am en route to your position. I hope you have not forgotten our agreement. Taos.”

Myassa sat up so violently that she dashed every item off her coffee table. “Delete message,” she said. “Open a line to the Republic Police.”

“Processing.” A moment later, a dialtone followed by the sound of a local number being called via VOIP.

“Hello, Republic Police,” a gruff male voice said on the other end. “Look, just sit tight and don’t panic. Taos will be with you in a moment.”

Yelling, Myassa pulled the assistant from its power cable and hurled it against the wall, where it landed with a weak clatter.

“It’s a good thing those are free, and mandatory,” said a voice on her television screen. “Or you might be in real trouble.”

“Hello, Taos,” Myassa sighed. “What do you want?”

“Can’t a rogue artificial personality construct simply hijack a carrier wave and drop in on an old friend?”

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