Chapter 16

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Osterman walked across the carpet in his office, wishing he could take off his work boots and enjoy the expensive luxury he'd afforded himself. But he had more business to tend to.

"Alright..." Osterman said, slipping into his chair and touching the power button on his computer. "Runt's going to be here before you know it. If I know that Springer, we'll need to get him a little medical attention right off the bat."

Cameron grunted, and slipping into a chair across the room from Osterman.

Osterman watched the booting icon on his screen for a moment as he thought. Medications for Springers weren't too hard to come by on Pathmos. They may have to synthesize a few things for Runt, though. He wasn't the average Springer, and he wasn't exactly in need of their version of aspirin either.

"I'm going to make a call to one of the labs around here, see if they can make some specialty medications." Osterman announced. "Relax if you want. It's been a long day." He said, glancing up at Cameron.

His assistant nodded, already staring at his datapad as lights danced on his face.

"You watching the news?" Osterman asked.

Cameron shook his head.

"No. The weather. It's how I unwind."

Osterman gave him an odd look. "By watching the weather?"

"Yeah. It's nice to know we have it good here on Pathmos." He explained. "I mean, Imbra is looking at another record blizzard, the moons around Balmut are all getting radiation storm warnings, there's a science station out past the second belt that's on lockdown because of a fluke asteroid passing through their orbit. Heck, New Medina has a sand storm in the process of blanketing a whole hemisphere. You know what the forecast for Pathmos is?"

Osterman cocked his head to ask.

"Rain." Cameron said, shutting off the screen to his datapad. "A little snow here and there, but mostly just light showers. Everywhere else in the system has death-weather. We have rain."

"Pretty mild." Osterman said. "We've got the nicest weather for three systems."

"I don't know why we don't have more immigrants." Cameron said.

"The terrorists, mostly." Osterman said matter-of-factly. "They drive away half the people.

"We ought to have them dealt with by now." Cameron said with a shake of his head.

Osterman nodded.

"I agree." He said. "But we can't fix the problem without Runt. And he probably can't help us fix it unless he makes it out here."

~

Runt turned the handle on the conference room door.

Things, for once, weren't as bad as they could have been. With a diplomatic waiver and the promises of two regional powers that Quixxa would be well-received, the weight on Runt's shoulders seemed lighter.

There was hope.

Finally. He thought, stepping back into the rec room and sighing. Everyone was where he'd left them, aside from Hasse, who was out of sight, but at the front of Runt's mind.

Maybe he could have some hope too.

Hope that Runt and Quix's audacious plan might bring Patches back from what everyone but Runt assumed was death.

Runt tapped the edge of his datapad as he started off towards the lockers attached to the Obsidian headquarters. He navigated a few of the smooth concrete halls quietly, thinking as a handful of other employees came and went.

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