and discovering other peoples' weaknesses.
It had been quite some time since Mercury had been to the Neutral Grounds. In fact, she had only been here one time before, which was when she got her starter iLac that she used as a basis for building her own phone here in Earthland. The Xocili had spent a bit of time wandering around while she had been in the area, of course, particularly since she hadn’t been on the planet that long the last time. The Neutral Grounds had been interesting, but not nearly as interesting as the rest of the continent and its magic boasting citizens. However, this seemed to be where her current target was frequenting most of his time.
It had not taken her long at all to immerse herself deep into the lacrinet once she’d arrived on the planet, and it had proven a useful and valuable tool in information gathering. When she wasn’t doing guild work, Dagger Corp work, or being beaten to a pulp by Vandrad in training, she spent most of her free time pouring through the endless web of digital data, sifting and organizing it for anything of use or interest. She was a community member of a number of forums, and while a lot of them typically fed her little more than wild and hilariously unvetted theories and bullshit, every once in a while there was a golden nugget of curiosity.
At the moment, the nugget was a Jirian. One of the sites she visited rather often had a thread that had caught her attention right away, showing crude photos of a piece of alien weapon tech that the original poster claimed had belonged to a “bug looking dude” that had visited his store in the hopes of having the weapon repaired or updated. The man had no knowledge on how to fix it, of course, but after unsuccessfully attempting to buy it from the alien he had taken to the internet with offers to pay an impressive amount of money to anyone who could… acquire it. Equal parts intrigued and suspicious, Mercury had wasted no time in tracing the poster’s I.P. address and locating where he was based out of. From there, it was a quick trip through the lacrinet to confirm his identity, where he lived, where he worked, how much money was in his bank accounts, the answers to all his password security questions… honestly, Earthlanders were just awful at protecting themselves from digital threats.
But, it had been enough. The post was up for a day or two at most before Mercury managed to hack into the site and scrub the thread completely, including all traces of it that had been shared around the lacrinet save for one. There would surely be a lot of frustrated nerds and mercenaries that wondered where in the world the images and information had gone, but the Silver Wolf ace had no intention of letting anyone else get in her way. Whoever this person was, she wanted to run into them alive, and the more people that were hounding him the more complicated and annoying it would be to try and catch up with him herself. However, if she left at least one lead open to follow, that would allow her to contain, control, and monitor the situation much more easily. Plus, it meant that someone else would be doing all the tedious dirty work for her. All she had to do was keep an eye on the person that was hunting the alien down, and once he was ready to make his move, she would make hers.
Thankfully, knowing what her target looked like wasn’t difficult. Once she had found out what shop the poster worked in, she was able to remotely hack her way into their security footage and look back through the videos until she found the Jirian plain as day strolling into the store and speaking with the people behind the counter, even letting them inspect his weapon. Mercury rolled her eyes at what she perceived to be a rookie mistake… but then again, not everyone outside of Earthland had the luxury of being able to blend in with the natives like she did. Anywhere he went, he was bound to stand out, so she supposed she couldn’t really fault him for not bothering to hide what he was. There was no sound in the feed, so she didn’t know his name or what kind of conversation took place, but it was enough to know what he looked like and that helped. A few keyword searches later was all it took to find several other mentions of people running into a man fitting his description somewhat frequently in Neutral Grounds, and boom, here she was.
The question that remained, and the one that nagged her the most, was wondering why he was here. While Earthland certainly boasted a fair number of sentient creatures that didn’t look like humans, they were all still natives, not aliens. But the Jirian… he didn’t belong here any more than Mercury did, and there was no reason she could think of that a member of his race would even be interested in this obscure little rock floating around so far from his home world. She needed to know if he was a threat or not, and that meant scoping him out a little closer. It also meant sitting around for long periods of time waiting for the mercenary to hurry up and go after him. Her game plan was all set, and frankly if Serilda or Mythal ever found out about it they both would probably have strongly worded opinions on what she was about to do. Then again, if they ever found out about some of the shit she’d pulled with Monica recently, this would probably look pretty respectable in comparison.
Finally, the day had come, though Mercury had needed to pull a few strings herself to lure the target and the bait into the same area at the same time. She lingered in Neutral Grounds for some time until she finally managed to spot him from afar, taking some of the still frames from her optic lenses and “posting” them in a place where the would be mercenary would seemingly stumble across them and be tipped off that his quarry was back in town. After that, all she had to do was sit back and wait, keeping an eye on the Jirian from an unsuspecting distance with her sensors, and waiting for the bait to show up and start trying to tail him, which would create her opening to step in...