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The Hoopoe watched the freshly uploaded videos of the ‘Charged Filter’ transport. He and the three others who’d requested the sponge portion had determined the least alarming, yet fully accurate, name to call it. It was a filter, one that was sort of alive. As for the charge… well, barely anyone here knew exactly what they were doing. They just had to try things. If things didn’t go horribly wrong, none of it needed explaining to anyone until they’d accomplished something. The Hoopoe’s adolescent face showed excruciation watching every little action regarding the charged filter.

Silica sponges the size of palaces! There was always something he didn’t know yet about the great worlds, wise though his sixteen years had made him. They’d been discussing the possibilities for a lattice of specific and unusual parameters. Dr. Maryan Waters, the biologist residing at the Arch, asked them if they knew about this creature, as though they should.

So they would now use the charged filter, or figure out how to use it, or learn that they couldn’t use it. Wheehoo! The Hoopoe was motivated by a good income, even if he was essentially imprisoned; Lurinese miss their trees. He told them that he wouldn’t be as good with ideas if he stopped making music, so they let him bring his entire incredible sound system. They set up the shelving for it to take up his entire sleeping quarters, aside from sleeping surface. He accomplished more when he could have some fun, and he made quite a racket. Sometimes First AIDD would find the music and bust a groove in the doorway. That avuncular guy could really move.

The Hoopoe had a lot of official and unofficial uncles, aunties, cousins, sisters, and brothers who inhabited his house at different times. The Hoopoe’s own house, paid for with his own gains, built by family people and loved by the party. Where someone was cooking in the kitchen – Who? – Dunno. Where there was going to be music tonight – Which room? – Clara, top level. It was a proper Lurinese house, with connected levels on named trees. For a moment he envisioned a treetop rustling against a dark sky, stars peeking between underlit branches.

He kicked back onto his bunk facing his primary terminal. He didn’t have to keep up with every little thing at every little moment, really. This was only the highest pay, highest risk game he’d ever played with his and others’ futures on the line. A few paper shields held by powerful companies kept him in his own bunk, on a payroll, underwater, in ownership – instead of sharing a bunk, underground, on a juvenile roster, in liquidation. He looked above him at the equipment shelves. Having the music made a big difference.

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