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that's what friends do

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Mar 12th, 2018
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  1. “I’m still not totally convinced.”
  3. The salesperson’s heavy, gelatinous eyebrow-like fold drooped in what looked like frustration.
  5. “Jeez, kid, I’ve already shown you every part I’ve got in store! Some of these were forcibly harvested from high-level Imperial laboratories at great personal risk, you know.”
  7. Hunk narrowed his eyes, scanning over the display case of the makeshift bazaar one more time. He’d snuck out to this particular outpost with the hopes of getting Pidge a gift she’d actually appreciate. Sure, she’d liked his peanut-butter-like xerustone cookies and appreciated his help in her mechanical tinkering, but what could he really give the tech wiz who had everything…?
  9. Something iridescent, tiny and slightly luminescent caught his eye in the far corner.
  11. Hunk pointed out the object to its vendor. “What about that one?”
  13. The saleserson produced a gurgling vibration that sounded like a scoff, beard-tendrils waggling. “Look, I get that you want the very best for your… friend, but that one’s a bit on the pricey side. I’m not entirely sure your allowance will cover the price.”
  15. Hunk folded his arms. “Just tell me its specs.”
  17. “Well… she’s the former cerebral interface of a simulacrum holopersona. Y’know, those things people use to store a replicated consciousness of any being they want. These were real big on that planet our Emperor went and put out first, for a bunch of filthy traitors they sure did know how to make a simulated neural network.”
  19. Hunk’s eyes widened with excitement. He’d thought it had looked like old Altean tech, but he hadn’t been sure. Since they had been forced to destroy the machine that held Allura’s father’s consciousness-replicate, he didn’t think that more of them would exist. Maybe Allura herself hadn’t known, considering that only now she was learning about the extent of her peoples’ science and alchemy.
  21. “And its storage capabilities?” Hunk enquired, trying to withhold his excitement from the salesperson. He hoped that their limited customer base and his leverage as a technical agent of the law would get him a decent deal on even this sort of rare object.
  23. “I would say the upper limit for its neural framework would amount to 600 Zyr.”
  25. Holy shit. From the equivalencies between Galran Imperial standard measurements and human ones, that amounted to something like a million terabytes, or the amount of synapses in over a thousand human brains…
  27. “Okay, I’ll take it. Just tell me the cost.” Hunk tried his best to keep a poker face, but inside he was already thinking of the sheer amount of possibilities for this kind of technology. Sure, it’d be heavily encrypted and require nothing short of a genius to put it to good use… but that was right up Pidge’s alley.
  29. “Well….” A floppy tentacle-like appendage scratched at what was presumably a chin. “…honestly, I’m not sure how to put a price on this sort of thing. Priceless artifact, and all that. GAC just won’t cut it.”
  31. “Oh, come on!”
  33. “There is one payment I can think of, though,” the salesperson continued. “I’ve always had a fondness for this one Earthly delicacy, and the store that used to stock it has run into some supply chain problems.”
  35. Hunk swallowed nervously. He really hoped it wasn’t going to be a kidney, or his first-born.
  37. “I’m very fond of that stringy stuff your kind grows on your head,” the vendor gurgled. “Keratin Klusters- those were a specialty item, I’d always buy them in bulk,” its voice sounded disturbingly nostalgic.
  39. “You… want hair?”
  41. “Is that what you call it? Well, I suppose, yes. One day I’ll regret trading this artifact for a taste of my guilty pleasure, but today is not that day.”
  43. Hunk sighed and pulled out a pocket knife. He really hoped Pidge appreciated this.
  45. ——————-
  47. “Hey, Hunk- What did you want to talk to me about?” Pidge cocked her head to the side and squinted her eyes disapprovingly. “And what the hell happened to your hair? Do you want to look like Lance or something?”
  49. “It was a matter of necessity,” Hunk grumbled. “I kind of… needed to trade it in.”
  51. Pidge was visibly confused, the expression looking sort of cute.
  53. “Okay, it’s a long story. But first…” Hunk pulled out a small box that he’d tied a ribbon around. He had used the one that formerly kept his hair out of his eyes- not like he had much use for it anymore. “This is for you.”
  55. Pidge gingerly took the box, looking almost suspicious. “What’s this for? It’s not my birthday or anything close to it. Even if it was, none of us know what month it is back on Earth.”
  57. “I just wanted to get you something to show you…” Hunk rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “Well… you’re a great tech buddy, and teammate, and friend overall, and… I guess I just thought it’d be nice? Because I like you? As a friend and stuff?”
  59. If he hadn’t known better, Hunk would’ve sworn that Pidge was blushing.
  61. “Well… Thanks. I like you a lot, too. As a friend.”
  63. Hunk grinned, the look on Pidge’s face having made his day. “It’s just a little something I picked up, since your Rover got busted…”
  65. “…I miss him.” Pidge whimpered.
  67. “…I know. So I think you could use this the next time you hack into enemy technology to make an even better version of him.”
  69. Pidge’s curiosity was now palpable, staring down the box Hunk had placed in her hands like a time bomb. She had already taken the ribbon off in anticipation, tying it to her wrist like a keepsake. “So can I open it?”
  71. Hunk nodded, and Pidge tore off the lid eagerly, her glasses falling off her nose and onto the floor as her eyes widened and a huge grin stretched across her face.
  73. “Holy FUCK!”
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