Times are hard, so funds are low. Therefore it's time for a couple of new promotions to tide me over until my fraudulent Go Fund Me starts bringing in some cash. I've told them I need a whole body transplant due to cancer and death. Thankfully there are more than enough morons to go around so they'll be sending me their cash in their hundreds. Until then I'm offering the following. - Send me $60 and I'll shit in a paper bag. For an extra $100 I'll post it through your letterbox. - Not entirely unrelated to the previous once in a life time offer, we are also rolling out a brand new fragrance endorsed by numerous celebrities including Taylor Swift, Alyssa Milano and Amy Schumer. It's called "Can Anyone Else Smell That?". It's more than a perfume. It's a threat and a statement of intent. - Finally. If there's one thing you can never have too much of, it's toenail clippings. Think how often you've been left short in a crisis. Patting your pockets, searching your hand bag. Desperately trying to find some to sprinkle in that restaurant meal so you can sue them. The bigger ones make excellent toothpicks. For as little as $1500 a month we will send you a free bag of assorted toenail clippings collected from the slums of Delhi and the homeless guys living under a bridge. Yes that's right they are free. Is there no end to our generosity? (Yes there is.) - If none of these appeal to you just send us all your money. You'll only waste it on food and other luxuries. - - !(https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmaof9bWNwcYC7XRFnU2rNxB8yneqsUZznj3zaiLSoDzGh/image.png) (The copyright to this image is the property of 123RF.com.) - - "What are you doing?" Pip asked gazing up at Jake as he fiddled. "I'm trying to do what I asked you to do yesterday. Checking to see if you're ovulating." The Wanderer responded shaking the mediscanner then holding it to his ear. "Give it here." The youngster huffed. "Honestly, you are hopeless. I thought you were kidding. I'd know if I was ovulating. But now you've got a new bee in your bonnet I'll humor you." She took the gadget from him and had it operating instantly. Passing it over her body. "See there's... Holy shit... I'm not ovulating now, but I was couple of days ago. That's impossible. This is a new piece of kit I made from specifications I found. It could be faulty." She ran the scanner over him before checking it. "How am I?" He asked. "Annoying as always. Unfortunately nothing we have can cure that. Well it's not bringing up any wacky results for you. You can relax you're safe to have sex. I'll check it out on Kaisha. If it shows she's ovulating then we'll know it's faulty." She got up from her desk terminal heading for the door. "Check out Fetu as well." Pip turned back her eyebrows raised meaningfully. "Sure. Whatever you say." Humoring him. Instead of following her down to the docking bay where the others were going over their equipment, Jake took a seat at another monitor. Drumming his fingers on its plinth. He wasn't looking at the projected screen. His search was entirely internal. If you left out the part where he was accessing the records of the ship. Perhaps he should be looking further afield. Checking out what that squid Saitano had. A few minutes later Pip returned studying the mediscanner intently as she entered. "Well?" Her normally smooth brow was furrowed. "Um.. I have definitely ovulated over the last few days. The others haven't. Fetu? No surprise there. He does have some marginally higher hormone readings though. Dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and their broken down byproducts all show slightly elevated levels. Yours don't. You could be on to something. We'd need to check out the others though. What is it you're onto though?" His research using Chiro was bearing fruit. "I think I might have worked out one little puzzle." He explained. Jake had gone back through the historical record and used Pip's tools to translate a lot more information Saitano had collected. His hunch had been correct. The pygmy toxin. When you thought about it, what possible use could those little fellows have had for it? The sedative effects required multiple hits to produce any effect. It wasn't likely that they would be darting travelers then having sex with them. What had they really used it for? He'd swiftly discovered those guys lived a very precarious life. Disease could ravage entire communities. Animal attacks and natural disasters were common for them. Replenishing their population urgently was necessary for the various tribes to survive. Until the arrival of Colin the hippy, they'd only ever used it to increase fertility and sex drive in their females. The effects on males were far less pronounced and varied greatly. It increased the incidence of multiple births as well as causing their womenfolk to ovulate continuously. Their metabolism was different, mainly in that the effects were far longer lasting and it shortened their gestation period. A consultation with Hermes provided him with more information. His internal AI had prevented the toxin passing his own blood brain barrier. Rendering it completely harmless. His body had then metabolized the poison for excretion. The antidote the machine consciousness had produced had blocked the receptors in the brains of those it had been administered to. Thus removing the aphrodisiac effects in short order. Further study of the data Chiro had recorded on its surroundings showed this hadn't quite removed all the effects. The oxytocin the toxin caused the brain to produce in large quantities had been reduced. It hadn't been entirely reversed. Added to which the chemicals on the dart still remained in the cerebral cortex. Producing a heightened sexuality. There was a lot of other medical stuff, but what it boiled down to was that Daisy and Scarlet had been primed and loaded. The first sexually attractive male they met with a suitable genetic profile would become even more attractive. Their sex drives greatly increased. Which explained their marathon of intercourse and the subsequent results. It still wasn't clear why the effects had been different with Pip. Jake thought it could have been down to her crystal pendant or her maturity. That was a complete guess. One it was impossible to check now, so long after her being hit with those darts. There was no guarantee his conclusions were correct. He knew that essentially they were. The details might be different, but some of the ladies behavior and them both becoming involuntarily pregnant was proof enough for him his suspicions were correct. Pip felt he was on the right track as well. Meaning he wasn't being illogical or fanciful. "That explains them both getting impregnated and their recent behavior, to a certain extent. Their duplicity goes back much further than our encounter with the pygmies though." "True. Daisy looked like she was tripping balls when I tried to get her to safety. She was so desperate to get back to the others." Something about the way she was looking at him made Jake pause. "What is it?" Her hands went onto her hips. Time to receive a lecture. "You're searching for reasons to forgive and forget again. I thought you were past that. They've been shitty with you since long before this. All that the toxin has done is help reveal the truth about them." He was shaking his head slowly but emphatically. Her stare did not waver a single millimeter. "Alright." He confessed. "We go way back okay. My thinking is that if something like this could affect them so extensively there could be other factors. Even a memory palace isn't perfect. This could have all happened slowly over many lifetimes. When you factor in the Ashenram and his influence it's at least possible they aren't anywhere near as bad as they seem right now." That hadn't impressed her in the slightest. "Do you still love her?" There was an edge to Pip's voice. Wanting to be honest about this he had to consider his emotions. Not something he did on a regular basis, if at all. "No. I can truthfully say I don't. I might have loved her once. Even that's debatable. It could be that I fell out of love with her long before she turned on me." "Oh for fuck sake." Pip yelled. "You are such an asshole sometimes. They've been using you. That's not love." She calmed herself. "I think you're sincere. You have history. I'm pretty bent up about Pengelly. Let's leave it at that. One mystery partially solved. Let's move on. Aren't you supposed to be meeting with Ugo today?" "I'm waiting for his call. He's a very busy man. Something might crop up. What will you be doing? I noticed the replicators have been going full out for the last day or so." "None of your business. All I'm going to say is I'm working on an insurance policy." The call from Ugo came through shortly after midday. A window had opened up in an hours time. It could close without warning. Jake set off immediately. Accompanied by Pip. She claimed she needed to keep an eye on him. Tanveer would be around, so that excuse wouldn't bear even the gentlest of examinations. It was good for her. They were of an age. The age when fooling around was vital to your physical and mental health. Jake knew he was more than capable of warping anyone's mind without the slightest effort on his part. They passed the others on the way. Smiling and waving. To hide the guilt they both felt. Their friends were all working hard helping out wherever their services were needed. Others acknowledged them respectfully and thankfully. Including members of the other clans. The clean up had been finished. Patches of burnt grass all over the former battlefield. Marking where the dead had been cremated. The metallic scrap having been removed. The stench of death was gone, leaving only the faint smell of smoke and burning in the air. The repair work on all the salvageable equipment continued. The rest being carried away by the transports delivering spares and replacements. The two of them mounted the ramp into Ugo's flying palace. Being waved through by the sentries and hailed by the other members of its crew. Despite the damage that disruptor device had wrought the interior looked impressive. Palatial it could be said. A lot of silver and gold accessories with high ceilings. What was it with palaces and high ceilings? The moving stairs were an eye opener. They didn't move until you were on them. Then only the part where you were seemed to move. It wasn't particularly quick. It did save your legs though. Pip was trying to figure out how they worked. Jake was looking around at all the bling. Aware that away from this part of the ship it would be far more utilitarian and practical. This was the bit for show. Partly explaining the pace. Visitors were meant to be impressed and made comfortable. They were greeted by Daluchi, Tanveer's mother, at the top. Jake couldn't stop himself smiling. Thinking it was possible the lady was checking Pip out. Ensuring she was suitable company for her child. That thought evaporated when Ugo's right hand hugged the youngster. like an old friend or loved one. Her smiling face looked at the Wanderer over the blonde's shoulder. "This one has a mind as sharp as a sitra. It was a blessing you brought her to us Wanderer. I've learned a lot from you Pip. There is much more I know you could teach me. Tanveer speaks highly of you to." The tall beauty winked at him. "What's a sitra?" He asked grinning back at Daluchi. "It was a weapon once. Now it's more of a utensil. An extremely keen edge capable of cutting the thinnest of slices in skilled hands. So thin you can see through them." She finally released Pip from her arms. Not before holding her shoulders and kissing her on the lips firmly. "Thank you for the compliments. I honestly couldn't have done what I did without yours and Tanveer's help... Is he...?" "Busy I'm afraid. He'll be free soon I expect. As will Ugo. I hope. The Grand Patriarch is on a conference call with several other clan patriarchs. Building bridges and political alliances. We live in exciting times. It's unfortunate so many did not live to see them. Follow me please. I'll take you to the antechamber. Tanveer knows you're here. He should be along shortly."