4.3

Vortran sat down heavily in the low-slung chair the little restaurant provided for her and Saha cast her a worried glance. Yik made a string of soft purring noises in her ear and she nodded at him, taking a seat next to Vortran. “Yikikik will get us food and something to drink. You’re trying to stave off the big sleep with caffeine? That’s very risky.”

“I clearly need to remind him what a secret is… he told you all that?” Vortran stifled a yawn and rubbed her eyes.

“He’s much better at communicating in our native tongue.” Saha smiled at her brother softly, “Never much of a scholar, that one.”

Yik returned with a heaping pile of baked goods and a tray of drinks, including a pot of coffee for Vortran. She took a sip as Yik shoveled a couple glazed rolls in his mouth.

“Is this… real?” Vortran was staring down at the cup in amazement.

“There are some good things to be had here… for the right price. Luckily I’ve had a profitable season.” She chuckled as Vortran gulped down the entire cup and gasped a little at the heat.

“Weh surfing fou ‘uh…” Yik stopped talking as Saha held a finger to his nose.

“Chew, brother, then swallow, then talk.”

Yik finished his mouthful obediently, “We are searching for the daughter of the accursed one… they think another Sutro took her, a clever one.”

“Don’t call him the accursed one, Yikikik, he did you a great favor. I’d be happy to help you anyway I can to find his daughter.”

“It was not a favor, he made a fool of me. I forever bear the shame of being a “Cat”.”

“You are not a “Cat”, he saw your potential and put in a good word for you.”

Yik growled softly at her and she hissed back. They glowered at each other for a moment before her expression softened and she put a hand on his head. “One day you’ll understand, little brother.”

“I feel like I missed a lot of conversation here.” Vortran said, pouring herself more coffee.

“Just family business. Perhaps after this rescue mission he will finally see sense and rejoin the military where he belongs.”

“They will make me an officer, I have not earned it yet.” Yik protested a little, shoving a biscuit in his mouth.

“Officer?” Vortran gave Saha a curious look but she waved a hand dismissively.

“You are looking for a Sutro? Probably not the one I know, he only does sales and promotions.”

“The loudmouth will be a lead.” Yik stopped moments before biting into one of the larger pastries.

“We’re hoping to track down the point of delivery, see if we can intercept it or find the buyers at least.”

“That’s tricky, even a foolish loudmouth will not just tell you about clients. Not unless he thinks it’ll make a sale.” Saha sat back and took one of the few remaining biscuits before Yik could eat it. She nibbled on the edge.

“Yeah, but it’s the only lead we have.” Vortran yawned a little despite the second cup of coffee.

“It is not an impossible task… the one I know is always searching for clients. If you can make him come to you he might let something slip trying to attract you to purchasing from his father.” She finished her biscuit and took a pastry out of Yik’s hand, “Do try not to drown yourself in sweets, brother.”

“I am not drowning.” Yik huffed a little.

“How are we supposed to make him come to us?”

“Do you have anyone in your little rescue party who could pretend to be a client?”

“Sam’s too recognizable and Mark’s law enforcement… it’d have to be me or Yik. Unless you can help us?” Vortran looked hopeful for a moment.

“I can’t play a client, everyone knows me and that I’m only here to network. Anyways who else is going to know to bail you lot out of the fire if it goes bad?” She gave Vortran a reassuring smile, “No worries, I think I can make the two of you fit the part. It’ll be like when I dressed you up as clients as a kid.” She looked over at Yik, who had frozen mid-pastry and bristled a little at the mention.

“Whatever it takes, we need to find this kid as soon as possible. Right, Yik?” Vortran finished another cup of coffee.

“Whatever it takes.” Yik practically growled over his pastry.

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