Chapter 15

The bar of The Ether Tank was packed with the City's patrons, Eliksni or otherwise. The forlorn drinkers. The karaoke enthusiasts. The social gamblers. Spider casually listened to the fervor as he scrolled through figures on his datapad, calculating his fortunes.

Neon light reflected along the silver snake design of the Constricting Shell disguise that Immaru wore. Archie trotted beside him as he approached.

"I have a proposition for you," Immaru said, but Spider simply continued to read. "If I have to repeat myself, I'll—"

"Do it, and you'll be next in my collection," Spider replied and turned suddenly to face him, an empty Ghost shell held tight in his claws.

"You have no idea who you're messing with," Immaru sneered.

Spider bent down to look directly at the Ghost, eyes to eye. "Oh. I absolutely… do. Now get out!"

"Candy is the driving currency around here right now. For everything," Immaru said quickly. "I got the means to extract it. Adjust the economics for the City, if you will. But I need someone with access to storage. Lots of it."

Spider paused for a moment. "What's the cut?"

"Fifteen percent. I'll also need tech for Archie here to quickly transmat the goods over long distances to a big facility," Immaru promised sweetly.

"Fifty percent," Spider responded.

"Fifty percent for storage?"

"The tech, the storage, and everything that goes with it."

"You're outta your mind. Fifteen."

"Sixty percent. Take it or leave it."

Immaru narrowed his iris. "Fifty."

"Sixty," Spider said again, and then turned to Archie. "And what about you—you agree with this?"

Archie barked excitedly, and Spider steepled his fingers. "Looks like we have a deal."