Silya glanced over to where her Demongo nano, Aoi, sat sulking beside her. He was bored out of his mind, but it wasn't like she hadn't given him a choice: She'd told all her nanos that she'd be busy that day and to go do their own things—so long as they didn't leave the Mt. Blackhead base-while they waited. It wasn't her fault that he didn't listen.
The young woman reclined back, nestled comfortably against the wall of a nearby building on the drab blanket she'd stretched out along the ground. A handful of other soldiers were scattered around, buying or selling various wares. Although the base in Peach Creek had recently seen a slight boom in trade, Mt. Blackhead was still the best spot for it. Fusion fighters of all expertise passed through, loaded down with all sorts of gear from their adventures: The ones that couldn't travel far from the jungle were always eager to get their hands on whatever fragments of civilization that they could. Left on standby until her next assignment, Silya figured she'd use the time to earn a few extra taros. Like the people around her, she had an odd assortment of gear lying at her feet for sale.
"I thought you were going to do something important," Aoi mumbled, his arms folded across his chest. His fiery, blue eyes narrowed as he looked up at her with a firm pout, "Why are you bothering with this anyway? We don't need the money."
"You think looking after forty of you little guys is cheap?" she casually replied, "I've saving up." True, they were more than well off for the time being: On top of getting paid both as a soldier and by Dexter as a research participant, she didn't have many expenses because they were constantly on the move. For now. Her thoughts were on after the war was over.
If Earth finally chased away Fuse and the war ended, well... to be honest, she didn't know what she'd do with herself—besides keep working for Dexter anyway. If possible though, she wanted her nanos to share that future with her. The kind of small apartment she lived in before the war wasn't ideal. Silya hadn't said a word to her team about it yet—she wasn't sure what the army had in mind for everyone's nanos or even if she'd be ready to settle in one place by then-but she wanted to make an actual home somewhere for all of them.
"We could be fighting fusion monsters though!" he insisted.
"No, I have to wait for orders," she countered. Honestly, it felt odd. As an independent agent, she was used to largely running from assignment to assignment aside from her work at Dexlabs. With her signing on to the much larger project dealing with Fusion Ice King's crown, however, she felt constrained. Mt. Blackhead was the farthest she could go and only then because she could climb onboard the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. quickly in case she was called in.
And she hadn't been since that first time. Thankfully, she hadn't had any lingering negative effects: The wait wore on Silya's nerves more than anything. If it weren't for that job, she'd likely be mowing done monsters in the Darklands right about then. Instead, she was selling shirts, swords, and accessories.
She bundled her jacket tighter around herself, drinking in the thin beams of sunlight that pierced through the clouds whenever she could. At least the days were getting warmer. It made sitting out here easier. "If you're that bored, you can hang out with the others."
The clear dismissal only seemed to make the miniature demon that much more stubborn. His pout deepened into a frown and he stared hard at the earth. Then, creeping forward, he pulled on of the folded shirts—a black Gangreen Gang tee—toward himself to use as an improvised blanket before settling back down again.
Silya snorted good-naturedly, then scooped him up much to his surprise. Aoi tried to push away from her in protest, shouting at her all the while, but she easily took the shirt and shrugged it over him, tugging his cloak back out from under it. It was so much larger than him that he couldn't even fit it on his shoulders: It would slide off as soon as he lifted himself from the ground. Still, it was warm, and for a moment all he could do was stare at her, indignant, but comfortable.
She always thought of her nanos more or less as kids, but he really looked like one then. She couldn't contain her smile, hard enough as it was to fight back outright laughter. It was hard to believe sometimes that such a little guy could spawn, in part, from the monster that was the real Demongo. She could only imagine all the ways he'd curse her for poking fun at one of his nanos, for no other reason than taking it as a personal offense.
The minor spat had gotten them attention. A couple of fusion fighters walked over to gush and chuckle, only embarrassing Aoi further as he fought with the fabric to scramble out of it. One of them took a quick picture and bought another one of the band shirts. Silya watched her comm as the transaction went through, bid the pair goodbye as they left, and then smirked down at Aoi—who was still holding the shirt in a tiny, angered fist. She showed off the purchase.
"Well, it looks like you at least drew in a customer," she teased him, "Maybe I should keep you around as a model."