“I’m not sure why you are bothered,” Zeta told her. “It sounds like you have a solid bidding war going on.”
“Do I need a bidding war?” Phi wondered. “Even the low bids are looking good, even for just a timeshare.”
More of her selves had suddenly grown interested in her being awake in order to take their shots.
“There are trillions and trillions of short-lifers as handy that one it,” Omega said, pausing while she ordered the eradication of the offending life forms on Bentho IV. “Make your score and move on. You have all the time in the universe. That’s a lot more than a creature like that is worth, and you know it.”
Of course, her other selves would awaken to the fact she was once again conscious and active as soon as wealth and power was at stake, it was all most of them were interested in.
But she didn’t really have any choice if she wanted to rebuild her life, and her other selves were nothing if not persuasive the more they got into her head. And eventually, Phi couldn’t help but slowly be turned to their point of view, Empresses, War Lords, Galactic Counselors, Fleet Commanders, Stellar Messiah’s, they were all amazing at framing any sort of argument.
After having a talk a good talk, Cygnus began to understand there was a lot to be gained here by leveraging the bidding war, but how much did she dare push it? It turned out between the several groups of collectors wanting a base human for their very own and lord it over their competitors, for the prestige.
“Come on,” Delta nudged. “All you need to start with is a single planet. I’ve done that and turned it into an empire!”
And she also learns through talking to other aliens why they were so interested in Iain. The Verindika Asteroid Hive hosted another pair of base form humans who were owned by the Consort to the Hive Queen and a number of attempts have been made over the past hundred years or so to wrest control of the paid but hand been rebuffed by the three generations of Consorts who apparently were holding out for the ‘right price’ whatever that meant? It would seem these Reebles had made themselves popular over the last few decades and other collectors who frequented the hive had become quite jealous of the Verindikans owning themselves a set of pre-Clown pre- Mime DNA.
It wasn’t about him being unique. It was about them harboring envy that their rival had what they didn’t. Well, what collector wasn’t consumed with envy?
But with all she could get for him, that really meant she might just have to give up on her little toy. It’s what all her other selves told her was the right thing to do.
“But I do like him,” she complained to her two or three sympathetic sisters.
He didn’t act as arrogant and violent as most short-lifer males she’d come across in her life, and although his tentacles weren’t as flexible as some races she’d had sex, certainly not as large or as long, he seemed to understand the basics of how to use them, and had put up hardly any resistance to coaching. Even though they had only been together for maybe the blink of an eye, Cygnus had enjoyed herself in his company, might even remember him fondly for a few millennia.
“Your short lifers tend to live even shorter lives than they would normally,” she was reminded by Xi. "Your last boyfriend, for instance..."
That was true. Even the less fragile ones somehow found some way to die off pretty quickly or do something stupid or arrogant that ended up putting them between her and what she wanted. One after the other. It was unfortunate, always, but what was she going to do? Change? At their pace of life? Impossible. Maybe in a million years or ten she might change a bit, if it really mattered.
All and all this made it finally easy for Phi to convince herself Iain would be better off under the protection of a collector who tended to treat their property quite nicely as far as she could tell from her own research. Most of the potential buyers wanted to keep their property in pristine condition as long as possible.
“If you do like him, you’ll want him to enjoy as long as a lifespan as he can get,” Epsilon insisted. She owned half the galaxy she lived in by now. “So you might as well make some profit on him before you move on to your next. But come on, don’t cheat yourself by taking a lower bid from a collector you think will be a little nicer of an owner.”
Still, Phi would have preferred if they were more interested in the Transient Void.
“His tentacles are so cute,” she mourned, “and perfectly wiggly. Where am I going to find another like him? It is so unfair. Why do base humans have to be so rare?”
“Let it go. You have a whole lot to catch up on, and discover” Beta offered. “There’s tens of thousands of years you‘ve been frozen while the rest of us are just expanded our portfolios, at least have some motivation to try to catch up a little and not get stuck on just one detail. Think about it. You could buy a whole planet for what you can get for him.”
“Yes thank you for reminding me,” Phi complained.
But it was true. She had fallen back, even worse than ever before. How bad could it be for Iain to, considering the ship they had been traveling on and it’s failing AI controller. But Phi put her foot down. She wouldn’t choose the highest bid, but the one which would balance assurances the collector would treat him well, and still provide her enough, yes, for a planet, or a fleet or a lot of things the rest of her sisters told her she should value. And maybe one who would even let her visit him if she managed to find her way back to this place while he still might be alive.