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10/15/07 4:08 PM
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Willybone
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Edited: Apr 5 2008 12:00A
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Unlimited

"I don't want to be a fragging lober, mom! It's my body and I'll do what I want with it. I've got my own plans." I was spraying synmeat when I shouted at her, but she was the one who started it during dinner. We'd only been through the same argument a thousand times, so she knew how I'd react even if I weren't acclimating to a new adrenal buff. But I was and it had me so agged I wanted to GnP the bitch.

She was on about my skinbag brother again. "You don't need to speak about him that way! Jaemes makes good money for the family, and he doesn't do it by getting beat up."

"I don't get beat up, mom. I give out the beatings. I've got a winning record and you know it. Up and coming, ma, that's me. The son with full use of his own brain, that's me." I took a big gulp from my NanGen resource shake and looked over at Jaemes, wondering if he was "available" to hear this argument. You couldn't always tell, but this time he was.

"That statement is not entirely fair, Tem. I have full use of my brain, as well as 43 additional proc-lobes that give me-", and like he wanted to make my point for me, he went offline right there. His eyes went out of focus, his face went slack, and they didn't even have a subroutine in place to let the poor bastard close his damn mouth. Sometimes, he went deep for 3 minutes or more, and he'd start to drool.

"Give you what, skinbag?! What? You can't even finish a sentence before some interesting blip in your feed pulls you away. I fight for 15 minutes; you process bulk baka 16 hours a day. What the frag are they even pushing through your lobes? Do you even know? Do you even care what comes streaming in through that jack? Or is it all the same to you?" I was getting red in the face. I could feel the new buff giving my anger an extra kick. This would be good in the cage, but not now. I had to leave here now before I lost myself.

I finished my shake and stood up. The room felt skosh when I was standing, maybe because my 170 keys took up a quarter of it. I looked down at my frail family and felt pity for what they were and anger because they didn't see it themselves.

I started for the door, grabbing my gear bag by the door. Mom made one last desperate, futile, and completely predictable attempt at a guilt trip. "I just don't want to lose you like I lost your father."

My answer couldn't have surprised her. "Well, then maybe it's good that I'm not a psi-buff freak, right? I'm not out to turn myself into some psychic firestarter with back alley buffs. I'm not rotting my brain with espers or pyros or any of the other baka dad pumped himself full of. I don't want to turn myself into a walking side F."

"No, you just want to turn yourself into an animal." She choked an almost believable sob.

"I'm no hybe, mom. No Xeno for Tem. I want to be human. More. I want to be an unlimited human. And you, mom, are my biggest limitation." The door sealed behind me. 

 

***********************************************************************

 

 

 

10/15/07 4:09 PM
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Willybone
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Edited: 15-Oct-07
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Posts: 29150
The bouncer's cat pupils bored straight through me, and the long finger he used to point towards the bar had a retractable claw. His beard had a tabby pattern, too. Straight up hybe freakshow. I don't go for that hibby baka. Some guys say chicks dig it, but everyone knows there's no kind of crazy chick like a cat crazy chick.

In the club, people made way for my bulk. If they didn't know me from past fights, the sheer quantity of muscle on my frame gave them a hint to grant me some shoulder room. I moved straight to the bar, where I knew Kimbo would be waiting for me. Kimbo might be a skinbag, but I had several reasons to keep him happy. I saw him talking to a short man with a mouth full of pointy teeth and mirrored circles where his eyes should have been. He noticed Kimbo noticing me and was suddenly very interested in his drink. Kimbo waved the little man away, keeping his eyes on me. He gave me a sickening smile, like it was someone else's fingers twisting his face up into a grin. When brain buffers have been going deep for too long, they often forget how to perform simple human functions, like smiling or eating. From what I hear, sex is the first thing to go, not that Jaemes ever got laid even before he started buffing. No loss with that side F.

"Greetings, future champ. How are you feeling tonight?" His eyes went over my body, getting at least 4 different scans I knew. Surveying his property, no doubt.

"I feel good, Kimbo. Smells like napalm in the morning. I want to rip someone's head off." I knew he was getting readings on the stress in my voice, but he'd seen more cases of pre-fight nerves than I'd ever have and I honestly did want to GnP someone, anyone.

"I hope not. There are only 37 limitations in the UHF , and you know that's one of them." I think a sense of humor and irony is one of the other things lobers lose, but I also suspect Kimbo never had one. Again, no loss side F.

"I know that. I'm just saying that Rael is going down tonight. I'm going to give it to you in the first. I can feel it. My jitz has been on this week."

"Yes, Rael. Well, I've always said you were ready for bigger things, Tem. You're an up and comer. World league material. Rael's a-." Unavailable. But, unlike with Jaemes, when Kimbo went deep, I kept my mouth shut and waited the few seconds for his attention to come back.

"Rael's a squib. You don't need squibs. You need a challenge. That's why when Rael pulled out, I slotted you for a real fight."
10/15/07 4:10 PM
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Willybone
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Edited: 15-Oct-07
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I couldn't help it. I actually licked my lips before I asked, "A championship?" I thought I was at least two fights from a title shot, but sometimes the game changes and Kimbo had a lot of pull in this ward. If he wanted his guy to have a shot, he might be able to...

His "No" was flat and had no malice, but it still stung. "You're still at least a fight and a convenient accident away from the ward title. No. This is a chance to make a real name for you. You're going to fight Varmin Easlin."

Subtlety is one thing body buffers tend to lose quickly, so I was visibly surprised. "Easlin? Varmin Easlin? The former Kotco champ? Since when does he fight at ward level?"

"Since losing his last two fights in Kotco. His contract wasn't renewed."

Of course I knew he'd lost recently to a real freakshow knuckle jobber and a xeno, but he was still a dangerous man even in the Kotco league. I was hoping that Kimbo knew something I didn't know. I lowered my voice. "He on the side F slide, K?"

Kimbo's eyes were only half with me. "What does it matter? You're here to fight. He's here to fight. Sigs swapped. Donedeal. It's on like Donkey Kong." He blinked twice at this last bit. It was the closest thing to a laugh Kimbo had and it made me cold to see it. I didn't get the joke.

"Look, Kimbo. Easlin's... He's just... I don't know if I'm ready for someone like him."

Kimbo's eyes snapped back into focus. He was available now. Completely with me, and I didn't like it one bit. He may have been a scrawny skinbag, but I knew the shiny jacket he wore was filled with lethal bots and stiklers keyed directly to his temper. With a thought, he could fill my massive body with more pain and damage than a week of fighting, or signal a dozen other meatbags in the room that I needed a lesson, or, least likely, kill me instantly and painlessly.

"Tem. When you came to me two years ago, you told me the only thing you wanted in life was to fight UHF. You needed the base buffs to even get in the cage, but you couldn't afford them. Who helped you out? That's right, K did. And when you started moving up the rungs, who made sure you were on top of the latest buffs? Fibrons, adrenals, skelmatrix, dermabars... I even gave you a partial CenNerv rewire. How many guys in this ward do you think have rewires? Not many. So don't tell me what you're not up to, fragger. My accounting says you're paid for all the way up to Easlin."

I made a desperate appeal to his wallet. "But, with everything you've got invested in me, do you really want to risk putting me in there with a guy who's killed in the cage before?"

He pushed off the stool to stand on two emaciated legs and got close to my face. I was aware that most of the people at the bar were staring. "The day I take cred advice from a meatbag, I'll eat a phased shot for breakfast to end my obvious misery! Now, you'll shut your boney head, get in the fragging cage, and you will fight who I tell you to fight!" His eyes moved over my face, reading temperature changes, and he was actually breathing hard, probably from the strain of standing too fast. Then, something important must have come in jack, because he went deep for a second and then sat down. With only half his attention, his waved me away. "You're on at 22. Ta."
10/15/07 4:11 PM
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Willybone
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Edited: Apr 5 2008 12:00A
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I shuffled away without saying anything. Anyone who didn't know Kimbo might have thought that scene was funny, skinbag agging the musclehead down and out. But, everyone knew Kimbo, so the unfunny was making me suddenly very unpopular in the club. I walked towards the locker room and not even my fans or training partners gave me a glance. It was nothing but the backs of heads all the way to the door.

I was late, so most of the guys were already cleared out. I changed and started doing my wraps. I don't have any claw or ridge buffs so I wore 20gics gloves, which usually only took a minute to do but tonight they seemed to take forever. I was tying off the second one when I noticed someone standing in the doorway. It was the little man with pointy teeth and no eyes.

He grinned a mouthful of fangs at me. "How's it feel?"

"How's what feel?"

"Be the squib."

I felt the red come back to my face and before I knew it, I was across the room, the little man was pinned between my hand and the wall, and my other fist was cocked back by my head. "I'm. No. Squib." I could see myself in his mirror eyes and I didn't look convincing.

"No. No, course not. Big name's down on the record. Looking to fix the WL mix. Shows up in a ward league. Switch some yokel in, last tick. Proper matchup, right? No prob stepping up, right? Take this one, easy. Sure, friend. Right."

I let him down 3 inches to the floor slowly. He was right. I'd seen it before. I knew what I'd call the guy in my position. Squib.

He rubbed his throat with his hand, never losing his smile. "Know where the word comes from, right? They made vids, wayback. Squibs were little packets of blood. Pop! Make it look realistic. Little blood spurts. Squibs." He giggled a little. "Part of selling the bigger story. Have to happen for proper gravitas. Right? Sure now. The bigger story. Comeback ride for Varmin the knuckler. Bounceback build him up a bit. Then he loses to someone else's story. Story feeds story. Bone, buffs, and blood feed the drama. World's a stage, right? Play on, player."

I sat back down on the bench and fixed my wrap, not really listening to his babble. I sniffed him as some psi-buffer gone too far out like my father, side F babbler. I was trying to figure out why I'd been pushed into this. Why would Kimbo give me up as a squib? Could I actually beat him? I honestly didn't think so. If I had lobes I could stream his last fights now, figure him out. He might have buffed since then, anyway. Big dude. Knuckler. Fast twitcher, I think. Beat him in jitz?

The smiler had been laying out his baka and was now sitting down next to me. "Proper matchup, really. In the bigger story, right? All for the glory of the fans. Fans need the glory. The stories. They need the heros. The heros to fall. The comeback, redemption. The fans need it. The stories need squibs. Stories eat stories and all are loved. Fans loved you as the comeup. Fans will love the squib. Fans love. Love to you." And then he put his arms as far around me as they would go for only a second. He got up, walked out, and never stopped smiling. Fragging psi freaks. 

 

 

 

*********************************************************

 

 

 

10/15/07 4:12 PM
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Willybone
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Edited: 16-Oct-07 10:19 AM
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Twenty-two. Cage time.

I stood cageside, waiting for my prep routine and scans for violations. Some buffs were restricted, like neurosprays or spikes. Some buffs were required, like cranial matrixing, facial synderm, and f-liners. Fighters were scanned right before the fights to prevent illegal hotshotting at the last minute. Although, everyone was given a Valhalla-A before entering the ring. This nano hotshot could repair a remarkable amount of trauma during a fight, but it only lasted an hour. It also couldn't keep you alive if, say, your heart were torn out or your head pulled from your body. Not that either of those actions were legal or common in ward league. The rules meeting earlier made that perfectly clear. Everything for the safety of the fighters. I scanned through clean, of course. I didn't believe in trying to beat the setup, and I couldn't afford any of the jacked stuff anyway.

Even though I was up on the local ladder, he was the big name, so they announced me first. I stepped through my door into the cage and walked to the rhythm of my story. Reagan Heights ward, local boy. Jitz and hits with Stomping Grounds. Record of 8 and 1. 170 keys. Tem Gospidof. So short a story. I heard the crowd swell to my name, but not like the last few times. They knew. My story was about to change.

The door across the cage opened and Varmin ducked slightly on his way into the cage. He had a total synderm job, greenish, darker around his face. He'd ridged his brows and chin, and gotten a lockjaw setup, so his head looked knobby and swollen. His skelmatrix had a vector deform to it, stretching his arms until they hung past his knees. I figured he had at least 30 cents of reach on me. Thinking about rushing in under those swinging arms, I looked at his club-like knees and wondered how my facial synderm would hold up under a few hits from those. Shins and feet were buffed into lumpy, leathery bludgeons. His whole body was a bludgeon. I knew that under his required 50gics gloves were his two favorites weapons. They were no longer hands so much as barely articulated hammers of nanomats, meat, bone, and scar.

The announcer sung his story. From UneAsia. Former Kotec champ. Former LosAng champ. Former UHFC fighter. Striker. Red Devil camp. 48 and 4. 220 keys. Varmin "Beastlin" Easlin. A story of interest.

Everyone felt the bigger picture. In a moment of perfect clarity, I saw everyone. Easlin, the meatbag wannabes, the glam sceners, the officials, the partiers not even watching the cage, and, there right up front, Kimbo, looking into the ring blankly. Two rows behind him sat the grinning, shiny-eyed freak. The stage was prepped and players placed. The story was ready to grow.

At the first light, I took two steps towards the center, echoed by Easlin. At the second light, we respect signaled each other. Inside my head, I trigged and felt the vertigo that comes with the boosts. My face grew hot, and then the third flash came.
10/15/07 4:14 PM
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Willybone
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I charged across the ring and threw my knee up towards his head. I wanted to show him, to show everyone, that I would not run from him. Easlin sidestepped and flicked a jab at my face. For him, it was a lazy, defensive shot. For me, it was a thrown lump of concrete. Caught airborne, my body spun a quarter turn and my shoulder hit the mat. A grappler bent on a win would've jumped on me then, but Easlin just stepped his feet out of my reach and waited for me to get up. He wanted this standing and he was in no hurry.

I felt the Valhalla-A siphoning the heat from my face, mending broken tissue and micro fractured bone. The dermabars meant there was no pain; damage only needed to be strategically assessed. This was nothing, but he wasn't really trying, yet. I rolled back towards the center and put my feet under me.

Easlin stood waiting, his eyes burning at me from deep under his brow. He waited for me. It wasn't his turn to push the fight yet. The squib still had to prove he was trying. So, this squib shot in at his knees and went for the takedown. I was only able to snag one leg before he sprawled back and hooked his arms under my shoulders. I pushed my fibrons to the limit holding his leg while I tried to get my hips forward and under. He was confident enough to pull one arm out and start pounding on my ribs. Each shot drove the air out my lungs and weakened my will. We were only 30 secs into the fight and my anaerobes were already straining. His leg pulled away from my grip and I went face down to the mat. His chest pressed into my back as he continued to pummel me. Again, in a show of control, he pushed away from me, stood back up, and looked down on me, waiting.

We repeated this dance for four more minutes. I'd rush to grab him; he'd foil my shoot, and then dish out some frag. I wasn't foolish enough to stand and just trade with him, even if I had the reach to try. He would show that I had nothing for him before he showed everyone what he had for me. He was proving he didn't belong here, and that I didn't belong anywhere else. My face was a mix of angry red bruises and the blue tinge of Valhalla-A hard at work. Overworked fibrons and adrenal-soaked muscles spasmed under my skin. I'd felt the sting of his padded fists, the unpadded sharpness of his shins and bony feet, and the crush of his elbows on my face. My boosts were mostly spent already. There wasn't enough oxygen in the room for me. The air I could get into my lungs was thick and harsh.

I was trying to keep my eyes off the clock, praying for the round signal, when I felt another wave of vertigo. Like another boost, but I knew I had none left and this didn't feel like the usual push of blood. It felt like my body falling away, the easiest thing in the world. My fatigue faded and I found myself seeing all of Easlin clearly again. I wondered if this was false confidence that flashes through your mind just before you go K.O.
10/15/07 4:15 PM
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Willybone
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Easlin saw my calmness as an opening, stepped his left foot out, and swung his long right arm in a haymaker at my head. At first I thought he'd misjudged the distance because it was going behind my head, but I realized that I'd instinctively moved inside of his swing. Pain shot up my arm like a plunge in cold water as my elbow drove into his face. I saw myself duck under his arm and around his back. I felt his plated spine against my sweaty chest as I locked my hands around his waist. Shocked at the sound of my own yell, I yanked him off the ground and over my shoulder, slamming his head into the mat. We tumbled sideways and I turned myself around his body, staying on top of him. All of this I saw, but did not command. Mounted on his chest, I put both hands around his throat and started screaming at him so loud, I didn't hear the round signal. The ref hit me with the concussor to get me off Easlin.

Walked to my corner. Dazed. Angry. Hard to think with all of this noise. No, just hard to think. Why? Where did I...? I looked out at the crowd. Smiley right there at the fence. Not really smiling before. Smiling now. Big teeth, pointy.

"Feeling the Love, right? Good, good. Love makes the best stories. No Love in Easlin's story, no good. Needed the touch. My touch. Brings the Love. Right. Makes the world go round. Right round the old story. New story coming in. Squib makes good with the power of Love, yup. Love it, right? Who doesn't? Surprises keep it fresh. Love at first hug, right? Some bags just don't feel it." He pointed his thumb over his shoulder where Kimbo was slumped in his seat, offline and vacant. "Don't be a loserbag. Feel it, friend. Be it! Be the Love." He giggled and turned back into the crowd, making towards his third row.

Looked at Easlin. Looking at me. Surprised, keeps it fresh. I smiled. One signal flash. Will rip him. Hurt him. Two signal flash. No respect sign. I felt no limits. He will feel my Love. Third flash and I'm free to do.

Ran towards him and pushed my fist into his face. Skelmatrices bent and flesh slid against my glove. Moved through. Grabbed his leg. Trip to the ground. I was on fire. Love burns. My chest pushing him into the mat, I had side control. Elbow up and then down hard into his flat nose. Again again again. Knee went back and up, and then down into his ribs. His breath exploded out of his lungs into my ear, sweet nothings. He bucked under me. Useless. Everything clearer. Easier. Less me, more Love.

Grabbed his wrist. Keylocked his arm and twisted. He'd had the job, so the tendons stretched, not snapped. Good job, but Love conquers all. I pulled. Pulled and pulled until felt the pop. Didn't scream him. Gasped. Green face went gray. His eyes baffled, panicked, pleading. No sorry. Story time. My story time. Keeps it fresh. I sat on his chest and rained fists on his face. His ridges stronger, my hands cracked in my gloves. Used my elbows until they felt soft. Stood up. Kicked his head until the concussor hit. Knocked me. Over. Fight over. Kay Oh stoppage.

Ref grabbed my jellied hand and held it up. Valhalla signing in my ears. Drunk on the crowd. Love everywhere. Glory, fans, lights. And two faces. Kimbo, still offline. Still. Dead. And cageside Smiley, happy. Pointing at me.

"Love, friend. You got it. Right. You and me. Going places, yup. Yours and mine. Bound by Love to the story. The story of me and mine. Keeping it fresh for a while. Stories to write, right? Stories for the master." Right. Master was dead. Long live master. He and his, human stories, unlimited. 

10/15/07 4:28 PM
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Willybone
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Edited: 15-Oct-07
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That was my weekend homework. I figured this is the only place where the MMA references would mean anything to anyone.
It was supposed to be 3 pages, but I got too into it.
10/16/07 10:14 AM
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Ogami Itto
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Edited: 16-Oct-07
Member Since: 11/12/2002
Posts: 30224
ttt for later! I like the beginning.
10/18/07 11:53 AM
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rsbeer
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Edited: 18-Oct-07
Member Since: 10/14/2003
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Good story. It's better to write more than you're supposed to, I often reach a point where I just can't find a way to continue the plot, and have to rethink what I've written.
10/18/07 1:21 PM
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Willybone
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Edited: 19-Oct-07 09:33 AM
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Thanks! Knowing that you read it has completely made my day.
10/22/07 7:52 AM
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Willybone
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Edited: 22-Oct-07 10:11 AM
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Thanks. If I get another assignment, I might try another one in the same world setup.
10/30/07 7:33 PM
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Seul
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Edited: 30-Oct-07
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Posts: 800
I enjoyed that.

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