Re: The Show Must Go Off

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Herr D

The Show Must Go Off–part three
I’d love to say people were impressed with me or afraid of me when I got here. Or that I commanded respect right away. What I did was make some people think. I was carrying my first week’s rations, still woozy from the drugs they used back then in comatransit, when I met my first troublemaker. He was big, too. No intro, he just knocked my ration boxes out of my hands.
“You new, huh? When’s your first fight?”
“I haven’t seen signups yet.”
“Why wait for signups? We’re in good walls now.” I didn’t even know he meant we couldn’t decompress the cavern we were in. I thought it meant we were ‘welcome’ to fight there. I needed to think of something quick. I thought what he was pointing at me was a weapon.
“Right after you shoot out those cameras.” I was going with ‘AEIOU.’ Ambush if possible; nope. Evaluate–his reaction would tell me how to deal. IOU–return with interest all harm. It’s a decent philosophy for brawling.
“Why would I do that?” He didn’t even look at them. Mmm–has focus. He questions. “Don’t you know the penalties?”
“Yep.” Of course I did. I’d heard very little else my last two days of awake time. He didn’t tell ME to shoot them out–small amount of sympathy for ignorance. “But you want to fight NOW.”
He squinted at me, “why don’t you want credit? You know what it’s worth, right?” Ah–thinking. If I get him doubting himself–The reason there is no ‘Y’ is questions can slow down a fighter’s reaction time.
“Yahyahyah–wins are more rations, losses are time off with hospice. I just don’t want to fight ON CAMERA. I’ll admit to whatever happened after we fight.”
“But you could die.” Oooh–he doesn’t WANT to kill me. I can see that–
“Then you’ll have my body as proof.” What IS that thing he’s pointing at me?
“Are you a Luddite?” I tapped the jack implant through my suit. “No? Then why you wanna fight off camera?”
Haha. “I gave up living on Earth. I gave up my career. Most of my WEALTH is impounded. I’m NOT GIVING THEM CHEAP THRILLS TOO!” That flinch when I shouted–not a recoil, like I scared him–more like he cares about my feelings. I used my StayNeur implant to run an app for tech recognition on the nozzle he was pointing at me and almost laughed in his face. It wasn’t a weapon at all. It was a THERMAL PATTERN SENSOR. Really old tech for finding microleaks jerried up to try to judge my emotional state. I guess it hadn’t dawned on him that a poker face can be enhanced by biotech as well. Faster processing and full control over autonomic variants gives a con artist a great edge. I had the heat patterns of a completely amoral sociopath practicing Zen meditation. THAT was why he was hesitating. I continued on as if I hadn’t had more than enough time to segue my thoughts around the whole neighborhood, “Here–I don’t want to get penalized either. Take this M-R-E, add one of your own, and rent us a room with no cams. I’ll examine it. Then we’ll fight in private. Sync I-D?” I held out my tag. He blinked.
“Nah. I’m not gonna pay for it. I’ll look for you at signups.” He watched me pick up my stuff. “Good point, bro. They get enough from us, don’t they?”
“Yep,” I left, remembering not to smile. I had no idea that he would actually agree so completely or that I had just started a political movement.