Re: The Show Must Go Off

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Herr D

I had dozed off mere seconds by my autoclock node (which did run a few percent slow in those days) when an old subroutine kicked in. I’d written a few anti-ambush modules the first day I knew I’d go to prison. SleepSafe informed me that Jenko had keyed in with his i.d., that his biometrics checked out, and that he was pointing something at me. I really wanted to stay asleep, but this wasn’t normal behavior for him. The man’s record was clear. He’d grandfathered in to miss most of the Gladiator Game requirements. He’d been mugged several times. No other violence. He WAS a murderer, but he’d used poison. As I began to wake up, lower-priority reports bombarded my consciousness. The missing cleaning bot had been trapped outside the hallway debris in old trashfill. Or maybe it hadn’t. The data didn’t match up. Thrash had not sent the coded signal he was okay. The morgue cargo ship he was supposed to steal had not been stolen. The post-firework riots were over. Every single planned color-combination had fired, with results about like we’d figured. The free fights show Upclose had started was still going on. The fake footage was in place and ready for purchase. A record number of beltminers were not working at the moment. A record number of Enforcers were ‘assisting’ the local prostitutes. Enforcer data traffic was oddly silent. As I pretended to wake up, I sent out instructions for the cleaning bot to reassess and tried to bounce a signal to Thrash’s batter, the assembly droid. I opened my eyes to Jenko pointing a gun at my face just about a meter out of reach.
“You know,” I said slowly, “If you fire that in here, the ricochet will very likely get you, too.”
Jenko frowned and moved his other hand. He knocked on his gun-hand’s wrist. I mean knocked. Jenko didn’t have subdermal armor. It wasn’t in his profile . . . “Who are you, REALLY?” he said.
“I am exactly who you’ve always thought I was.” Why did Jenko have armor? He never signed up for fighting. Who had implanted it?
He motioned me to hold out my i.d. “Now tap it on the wall just above the couch.” Mmm?
I reached down from my hammock and did what he said, frowning. I felt it in my head. Something in the wall scanned me. Something I hadn’t put in the wall scanned me.