A Virtual Mekton story
The noise from the pizza parlor blasted out into the parking lot
as two young women stepped out from the establishment.
They stopped for a moment for the trailing female to shake out
and lock a folding blindsman cane.
Once that was accomplished they started across the parking lot.
"Thanks for going out with me tonight Jenny" the shorter one said
once they cleared earshot of the Pizza Palace.
"Thanks my foot. You won that last match and the bet was a pizza
- you suckered me Isa" Jenny said smiling at her friend. Shame
you couldn't see everything otherwise, you would have had more
fun Jenny thought.
The littler one smiled back "maybe" she admitted "but that didn't
make it any less fun."
"What? Stomping me or the pizza?"
"That would be telling now wouldn't it?" Jenny rolled her eyes
heavenward "Spare me the innocent blond girl look - I know you
too well - you are the devils assistant in disguise!"
"Well now that you mention it I could tell you everything you
need to know...for a moderate price."
"Imp." Jenny replied without malice. The two girls turned onto
an empty side street heading away from the Parlor.
Both walked quietly for a few minutes with the only sounds being
the occasional car and the tapping of Isa's cane.
Isa was a young, small girl just a shade over 150 cm with blond
hair and milky gray eyes. Half blind since an accident many years
ago, she was an oddity in the early twenty-first century world.
In a day and age where corrective surgery and biotech advancements
were happening almost on a regular basis, she still was not able
to see clearly. Modern technology was at least able to assist,
however, with a powerful image amplifier/transducer she carried
in the same pack she pulled the cane out of.
Jenny broke the quiet first "Isa, do ever dream of seeing without
needing that mask again?"
Isas reply was subdued "Every day, and eventually I will. There
is so much being discovered every day, and I'm sure that eventually
I'll be 'normal' just like everyone else." She brightened up a
bit "still though even though my eyes are far from perfect, I
still see some things clearer than most."
"Huh? I don't understand."
"Most folks don't know how to listen Jenny. You are so dependant
on what you see that you hardly listen to what is around you and,
in that way, you are as deaf as I am blind" Isa explained.
"I still don't understand...you sound just like my Aikido sensei
- always talking in riddles." Jenny grumped.
"If you think about it, you just made my point."
"If I didn't know you better, you inscrutable Asian..." Jenny
shot back half threateningly.
"Isn't that the same thing you said to Chiisai the other week?"
"No, I called him an overtraditional asian club - I don't see
what you see in him."
"Very little" Isa deadpanned "I'm a bit blind remember?".
"Amazon - what's that behind us?"
Jenny looked back, saw a pair of headlights "Just another car."
"I don't think so Jenny, that sound's familiar" Isa's tone sounded
The camouflage painted car accelerated as it approached them and
as it sped by a pole poked out the passenger window, it slammed
into Isa's cane, shattering it. Raucous laughter followed in the
trail of the car as it moved onward into the city.
Dodging the light fragments of the cane the girls tumbled to the
sidewalk. Jenny was first up and saw a blond head tuck back into
the car before it screeched around a corner. "Bubba you stupid
idiot!!!" she yelled "are you trying to kill somebody?!".
"Jenny? Jenny, where are you?" Isa's voice cut off the incipient
"Right here" Jenny said, touching Isa's right arm lightly to get
Isa relaxed as she got to her feet "Sorry, I got disoriented when
we hit the pavement."
"Those, those blasted barbarians, ooooh when I get my hands on
them.....those leeches. I'm gonna-"
"Do what?" Isa cut in "Look, they're bigger and richer than you
and can get away with more because of that. They may not be bright,
but they know enough to do this with out witnesses.
Just leave it be Jenny, we only got scraped by the pavement and
I lost a cheap cane. Just leave it be." she repeated.
"I can't believe you're saying that Isa" Jenny gestured toward
he corner forgetting Isa couldn't see that "they try to hurt us
and you're saying 'let them get away with it' - that's crazy!"
"What would you gain? Trouble, nothing more." Isa said firmly
"There is a time and place for everything, and this is not it"
" I won't accept that, I have my dignity and pride, besides I'm
not afraid of those idiots" Jenny snapped back heatedly.
"That may be, I'm tired Jenny. Would you please guide me home?"
"Sure, but -"
"Jenny, please just drop it."
They walked home in silence after that.
The fencing Salle was emptying out of students when the instructor
waved Jenny over "What's wrong lass? You are way off tempo and
practically standing still on the mat, not to mention how stiff
Jenny fiddled with her saber, not looking at the instructor "Nothing."
O'Niel crossed his arms "and just what is this 'nothing' that
is putting you so off? Out with it, or d'ye want it to fester?"
"Nothing I want to talk about right now, I just need to think
"Well I can't force it out of ye, but not so much thinking on
the mat and more reflexes, on the other hand it doesn't help none
to avoid problems as well. If you want to talk about it, well
you know how to find me." He put his hand on he shoulder and turned
her toward the door "Go home and get it thought out, your family's
a'waitin for ye and dinner." Jenny smiled at her instructor and
At home, Jenny went through the evening in a fog. During dinner
she kept quiet, listening to her parents talk about their day.
Afterward she retreated to her room, pleading a hard fencing practice.
As she lay on her bed trying to come up with some way to pay the
barbarian twins back for almost running them down. Can't challenge
them on a futball field - no co-ed matches, they don't fence (with
swords), so the Salle is out, the only place I see them is occasionally
at The Arena, B but those idiots have their own pods at the Leech
school. How can I pry them out of there? She drifted off to sleep
with that question.
"Hi Mrs. Grey, is Jaired up yet?"
"Not yet Jenny, why don't you come in while I correct that. He
stayed up late working on some 'secret project'...again. "
"That boy spends too much time on the computer for his own good."
"True, but he takes after his father, have a seat while I dynamite
him out of bed."
"Thanks, Mrs. Grey." Jenny took a seat and thumbed on the viewer
to the All Anime Channel.
Upstairs there was a bit of commotion while Mrs. grey woke Jaired
up. She came back downstairs "He'll be down in a few minutes,
have you eaten breakfast yet?"
"No ma'am, but thanks for the offer..I was planning on hauling
him out for some sunshine, fresh air and fresh fruit." Mrs. Greys
right eyebrow shot up questioningly "Oh. Well then, enjoy your
trip out." With that she went into the kitchen for a moment and
came out with her breakfast, sat down on the couch next to Jenny
and they both watched the viewer while Jaired went through his
Eventually Jaired came downstairs looking a bit like the walking
dead, not quite awake "Mom, just what is so dang important - oh
hi Jenny" he managed a blurry grin "what are you doing here?"
"Well, I've heard rumors that you will catch fire if you get caught
in open sunlight, so Chiisai and I made a bet - I think you won't,
but he's pretty convinced."
"He did, did he?" he started heading toward the kitchen "and what,
exactly, was this bet?" Before Jenny could answer Mrs. Grey cut
in "Why don't the two of you head out to the farmers market on
the southern platform? I hear they have some of the best fresh
fruit over there."
Jenny fell flat on her face,arms and legs sticking out in the
air, unnoticed after hearing that.
"Mom, that's over on the other side of school."
"I know, if you want to eat, you'll do it there. I've already
started cleaning the kitchen - that's what you get for oversleeping
Jenny picked herself up trying not to look entirely goggle eyed
at Jaireds mom during their exchange. "uh, yeah, why don't we
head over there - I'm hungry and you're buying." She grabbed his
arm and they headed toward the door.
"I am?" he asked a bit archly.
"Sure you are, how do you think it would look, a simple waif like
me forced to spend my last credit to feed a strapping young man
like you?" she batted her blue eyes at him while doing her best
He sighed to himself, the things I get myself into.
Later, both were sitting at a park bench,munching on fruit boxes
they'd bought. "I need a favor Jaired".
Why is it I'm NOT suprised? he asked himself. Out loud "What?"
"Wellll, I don't want to go into details, but if you could get
me access to the major announcement boards at the schools and
academy, I'd be ever so grateful" she leaned a little closer to
A large sweatdrop appeared, and he started blushing "err, ahh,
ano" he started stuttering. She cupped his chin in her hands "Please?"
That was a bit much for Jaired and his nose started bleeding just
a little bit. He pulled himself away from Jenny and grabbed a
napkin 'Uh, sure. Um, when?" "Tonight if possible, I just want
to leave a message without a signature - it's harmless, really."
Bells started going off in Jaireds head, but he really wasn't
paying any attention to anything but the redhead across from him.
"If that's it, why didn't you ask while we were at my apartment?"
"Honestly, you haven't been out for awhile - look, you are already
sunburned and we haven't been out for more than an hour!"
"True, but I've got so much to do to finish my latest project."
"And just what is this latest 'project'?" she asked sweetly.
He didn't rise to the bait "Ain't gonna tell, but it will certainly
"Jaired you are weird at times, you know that? C'mon I'll buy
us an ice cream."
They parted company after the ice cream shop, Jaired kept grouching
about his secret project and Jenny finally let him go back home.
He promised to email her the access codes for the message boards,
and warned her that they would change by morning.
Jenny spent the remainder of the afternoon drafting the message
she planned to post, once that was done she went back home. When
she got up to her room she checked her email and, true to his
word, Jaired had sent her the access codes for all three schools
message boards. Rubbing her hands gleefully she went to work posting
her message. Being careful to follow Jaireds written instructions,
she wiped any trace of her student ID from the access log. She
drifted off to sleep still smiling.
Jenny met up with Isa at her house, and they started off to school.
Jenny thought a bit strange that a girl with Isa's resources didn't
just get a ride to Kurosawa, Isa never bothered to explain that
she just liked to walk. Without looking at Jenny, Isa asked "Feel
any better over what happened Friday?" Jenny looked sideways at
her friend "You know, I ought to be asking you that question.
But, yes, I do feel a bit better. How about you?" "Annoyed mostly.
Most don't realize it, but finding a walking cane you feel comfortable
with isn't as easy as picking out a stick and whacking things
with it." she sighed "On the other hand, I always have a spare"
a quick grin "but maybe I'll invest in one of those reinforced
steel bars, build some muscles like what you have neh?" "Always
being the clown Little Isa, aren't you?" Isa snorted "When you
have had a history like my life, you tend to grow a broader perspective
a little faster than most, and a sense of humor is part of that."
"Now THAT, my young friend, I can understand - remember, I grew
up in post-apartheid South Africa.
Us white folk were outnumbered by a population that has a memory
for grudges that predates known history. You grow up quickly or
you might not grow up at all. Sheeeesh, this turned into a gloomy
discussion real fast." Jenny changed the subject "What did you
do for the rest of the weekend?" Isa was more than willing to
accept the new topic "Well, after picking up this new toy" she
waggled the cane "I spent Saturday chasing Chiisai and a couple
of others around in The Arena - had fun, but the headaches from
the amplifier kept me in for Sunday. You?" "Spent Saturday with
Jaired. He burned within an hour of getting outside" Jenny laughed
"he really needs to get outdoors more often." Isa's voice was
a bit dry "Perhaps after this he won't see daylight for few more
years - I think you've scared him into the shadows permanently.
Just what the world needs another sunburnt mad genius" Dropping
her cane to run along a wall Isa started shambling like a Hollywood
hunchback muttering "yessss massster, Fetch a cybernetic brain
from the computer storerooms, right away masster, very good massster"
Jenny started laughing at the bad impersonation "Come on, we'll
be late" "Drama critic" Isa grumped "No appreciation for fine
talent." " I most certainly have an appreciation for talent. That
is why I, being the kind and caring person I am, am going to keep
you OUT of three-D. And that is final young lady" Jenny finished
"Yes mom" Isa shot back mockingly.
They split up at the schoolyard, each heading to their respective
classes. Jenny went over to check the bulletin board to check
the clock and headed to her first class.
AT THE REUBEN LEECHMAN ACADEMY
The math teacher was so frustrated he was about to quit. The barbarian
twins (AKA Gabriel and Rober Boyd) could barely count without
taking off their shoes, much less pass the required Math 101.
if the twins couldn't pass, well, job prospects were OK. Even
if they didn't pay as well. Right now the twins were snoozing
over their math books. The teacher decided he had had enough and
beaned Rober with an eraser. Rober snapped awake and fell out
of his desk. "Rober, nice of you to volunteer to clean up the
classroom today." the teacher aimed the other eraser of Gabriel,
once he was awake "you too, Gabriel and this time, you might want
to consider staying awake. If you don't pay attention you lose
out on opportunities. For example, the last question - which you
missed, by the way was ' who does not want to clean the classroom?'.
You two were the only ones to NOT raise their hands. How about
a nice round for the fine young men wanting to help out eh?"
Before the math teacher could continue the message buzzer sounded
and the announcement screen came to life.
At the top of the screen the words "link to Kurosawa high school
"Link to Intron high school established"
"Link to R.L. academy established"
"Hello all, this is really meant for the barbarian thugs...er
twins. Since you were real brave terrorizing two young girls on
the street, how about facing just one of them at The Arena on
Friday at 20:00? Of course, since you aresoooo scared of someone
who can fight back, I'll even dare you to physically show up there
to take what is yours.
Naturally, since you are spineless,scared little girly-men, we'll
understand if you decide to not accept.
If you do happen to purchase the gumption to show, ask for arena
The teacher, and the rest of the class turned and looked at the
two open-mouthed young men.
AT INTRON HIGH
Jaired wondered if he was good enough to change his identity.
'It's harmless - really' kept playing through his head. Sure it
was. Harmless IF she wiped the access record, IF she didn't use
her student login. If, if, if.
He buried his head in his hands and thought about which nation
to move to.
AT KUROSAWA HIGH
Isa chuckled to herself. Time and place indeed. Poor boys. She
snickered when she thought of the fact that Rottens pet Gojiros
being humbled publicly. The fact that it would humiliate the son
of her best enemy had nothing to do with it, of course. Now she'd
have to talk to her uncle about setting up some safeguards for
Jennys parents and their jobs. She shook her head. It didn't feel
right keeping secrets like this from friends.
Jenny was bubbling with happiness. The message posted and erased
without a hitch. Now all she had to do was win. It was going to
be an expensive week practicing, but it would be fun.
"I don't care if you want to remote the match! I can't have two
of my best friends get put down like that. How typical of the
lower classes to put out a challenge like that, no sense of class
at all. Nope, the two of you will HAVE to show up there on Friday."
"Um, Ron,..." Bubba started.
"My mind is made up, you will have to squash this faceless challenger.
Remember, good breeding will always overcome lessors." He smacked
his fist into his palm.
"Uh, Ron..." Buster tried this time " What are going to use for
VMs? It's not like we know what we are up against."
Ronald stuck a finger into the air "I have...a plan!" he turned
toward the door "Follow me gentleman. We need to have a chat with
our resident computer geek. And I want to find out just who would
make that challenge."
Downstairs Brain was puttering about "his" lab. His because almost
nobody ever came down there.
His, because nobody knew what to do with the stuff in it. Most
Importantly, His because nobody bothered him there. Most of the
time. Today was not most of the time.
"Ronald, what a suprise to see you here. What do you want."
Ronald was just OOZING charm "Why, Mr. Wilson, I am here to assist
two of our august companions.
The twins here have been challenged to a match. Some sort of pesky
message about some incident where these two fine, upstanding"
Brain rolled his eyes at that one "members of our academy were
out having a little fun."
"Yeah, we wuz just having fun" Buster interjected.
"Hush Buster, I'm talking"
"As I was saying. These two have been challenged in such a way
that to refuse is impossible.
In order to do crush this upstart, wee need two things. Three
really. I need to know who did this.
What type of VM is he or she using, and I need VMs constructed
to take that one out."
"Easy enough, I suppose" Brain scratched his head "When is this
"Friday?? I'm not sure about that...we have that government test
"Come, come young Brain, surely you have you ever worried about
a mere test?"
"But Ron-" Rotten put his arm across Brains shoulders and smiled
tightly "Let me put this to you a bit differently then. These
two" he waved his free arm at the twins "are part of my...staff.
Now, if they look bad, I look bad. If I look bad then I get unhappy.
When I get unhappy, I tend to look to my staff to help me...fix
what makes me unhappy. Am I being clear enough for you?"
"Sure Ron. Friday. Right. No problem." Rotten ignored Brains glum
tone "Just make sure everything is set up. Come on guys, let's
go have some fun. Brain here has work to do." Brain looked over
at his computer terminal and briefly wondered if it would be worth
the trouble and effort to zero Rottens bank account.
The Academy (morning)
"Well, here they are," Brain announced "two VMs that not only
match these twos reputations, but also match their skills." Or
lack thereof, he thought.
"What are they" Ronald asked "new or recycled?"
"A bit if both actually, I used the basic structure for the old
Black Knight series, and added a few bits and pieces. Bubba's
VM is a massively upgraded Black Knight - AP sword, a e-shield/
shield combo and I added a 360 banshee howl - be careful with
that one Bubba, it won't care if your brother is in the attack
sphere. Buster got the reworked skeleton, but it really doesn't
have much in common with the original. This has four arms - two
end in claws the other two have a knife and energy knife. Buster
has a better combo attack, Bubba gets a better defense"
Rotten frowned, "No ranged weapons?"
Brain shrugged "Not much more I could do with the time you gave
me. First off, They were told not to use the cartridges in the
microwave - that literally toasted their original VMs. Second
they aren't the most......accurate of shots - they do better close
in. Third, as I said, there wasn't any more time to do anything
else. Of course if you like I could give then the old M-Valkyries?
"Er, no...those were such....common VMs in their time, completely
"Well, there you have it then. I'd suggest some practice time
before the match. Now I'd like to get back to my studies".
"You heard the man, gentlemen....get your disks and try them out
on each other" Rotten snapped "and this time do NOT put them in
the microwave - give them back to me".
The twins claimed their new disks.....
The Arena (early evening)
Maki was bored, with finals happening tomorrow, there wasn't much
business today. A few adults were running a lackluster match with
some Australian friends, but they were using older stock VMs in
the Level 120 arena...and not doing too well at that. There were
also some folks at the stand up games, but that was normal. Hai,
another boring night at work with nothing to do.
She jumped, startled out of here boredom "OH!, Oh, hi Jenny what
came I do for you?"
"Slot me for the temple scenario would you - need to practice
and that arena gives me the best workout." Jenny smiled as she
handed over her cartridge to be scanned "And, as usual I need
the reflex chambers."
Maki returned the smile "No problem we aren't that busy, use the
first one." she slotted the disk and started the scan "What are
you doing here tonight, I thought you would be working on studying
for final exam?"
"Normally I would, but I have just GOT to get rid of some of this
stress or I'll never remember anything"
Maki snorted "Be glad you don't have to face the educational system
I did. Japan is very hard on young student" the disk popped out
"here you go, the scenario will start automatically when you select"
"Thanks" Jenny called back as she started over to the chambers
"I'm going to need it" especially tomorrow, she added to herself.
The reflex chamber closed up with a pop and hiss.
Maki was most definitely not bored. In fact she was wishing she
was bored again. A Friday, a payday and the day when finals were
over. Most definitely a busy night. She and Jaired had been working
non-stop since they came on shift and the fact that a reflex chamber
and two pods were reserved didn't help the customer backlog. At
least there was a much anticipated challenge match this night.
Normally challenge matches were no real big thing (although that
really depended on who was participating) but this one was rumored
to have drawn out some of the reclusive rich elite, and that made
this an Event.
Jenny had been there for an hour already watching the crowds and
wondering if the challenge was a good idea. Not that it matters
at this point - I got myself in this far, I will have to see it
through she sighed to herself. At least the match will be impressive
- a two on one. I can take them - they are simply rich thugs....Now,
where is Isa? She went looking.
Isa was standing in a quiet corner talking on her cell phone "Now
you are sure you have the right person for this? After all, I
do not want the waste collection contract to fall through, we
used a lot of capitol on the recycling center and losing that
would really affect third quarter profits. You are sure? OK I'll
leave it to you then, but I'd like to get the press involved afterwards,
having them there to early could spook them." She smelled a familiar
scent "I have to go now, call me if things don't go as planned"
Isa put away her cell phone "Sorry Jenny, I didn't mean for business
to catch up with me tonight. Are you about ready?" "No, but lets
get it over with anyways - I want to be buttoned up before they
arrive. Do me a favor would you..here is the reservation chip
and the Knights disk, could you log me into the front desk?" "Sure,
I can do that, anything else?" "Ya, wish me luck!" "You don't
need that against those two do you?"
They set out in separate directions...
Parking on a day like this day is always chaotic. Everyone arrives
early trying to get a good spot and finds that everyone is already
there. Fortunately when one has money you can afford to use a
chauffeur to find a spot and go home afterwards thought Rotten
as they pulled up to the entrance. As they stepped out of the
car Rotten ducked back in and gave the driver parking instructions.
Coming back out the roar of The Arena washed over him and his
companions. "Well, we have a lively crowd tonight my friends"
he remarked as they headed up the steps "Remember - don't embarrass
me here, what I told the geek the other day also applies to you
two as well. You aren't the only ones that can fill the job I've
given you ...understand?" The twins nodded assent and opened the
Inside the noise was intensified as they walked in. Looking at
the crowd Rotten pointed at the main counter "I guess you two
need to check in, here are your disks...Buster...Bubba" The two
took their disks "Don't worry about nothin' Ronald, We'll crush
whoever challenged us" Buster said peevishly "I still would have
liked to use the pods back at the campus - these don't have any
of brain's mods on them and that is gonna hurt us." "Yeah, Ronnie"
Rotten winced at that "These pods ain't nuthin like what we use
back there, it might be better to try to reschedule the match
so we can use them"
Rotten put his arms around the twins and started guiding then
to the front desk "We have been over this HOW many times? That
is simply not possible, you two screwed up and got seen messing
around, you were challenged to actually show up for the match
and here you are. Now get logged in and finish this quickly. Go."
so saying he gently pushed them ahead towards the desk "I'll be
watching from the snack bar and brain will be recording the match
from the school, show this upstart that the Academy is better
than they are."
Buster looked at Bubba and shrugged, both headed for the counter.
Jaired saw the two approach and started the setup for the arena.
Buster got there first "Um, yeah, I got a challenge for arena
11" "Me too" followed Bubba. Jaired looked at them "OK guys gimme
your disks" They handed them over and he took them for scanning
"you two have your schemes for these VMs set yet?" They nodded
"Ok, the match is set for fifteen minutes from now, Buster you
have pod 7, Bubba pod 12 good luck" Jaired hated giving them the
customary wish, but that was part of the job, it didn't mean he
had to mean it.
Inside the reflex chamber Jenny was stretching out. The chamber
was large enough that she couldn't touch the sides with her six
foot staff. The floor had been locked so she wouldn't slide around
and the positional scanners were dark, indicating inactivity.
The speakers crackled and she heard Jaireds voice "Jenny, they're
here. The match will start in ten minutes, you have your suit
She smiled nervously "It's on, just let me know the two minute
mark so I can load up."
"Can do, Good Luck."
"Thanks, by the way when do you get off?"
"Depends - how good are you?"
"JAIRED!!!!" He winced as the volume in his earbug nearly blew
his ear off
"Just kidding, Just kidding - seriously I'm finished at midnight,
"Isa and Chiisai and I are going out for pizza, you want to come
"I think so, but isn't that a bit late?"
"A little, but she insisted that I ask..."
"I'll get back to you on that, gotta get back to work now, bye"
The speaker clicked as he shut off the circuit. "Hey Maki, I'm
taking a break - this earbug is sounding bad"
"OK, but don't take to long" And I'm NOT suprised that it's malfunctioning
with what I heard she smirked.
At the snack bar
Isa's nose wrinkled at the smell of overdone cologne grew stronger.
Just my luck, she thought glumly, a thousand people here tonight
and he has to find me.
"Well, if it isn't the lucky little blind girl" Rotten sneered
as he approached.
"Ah, I see that the waste contract you lost is still with you
Ronald, you still reek as ever. I will have to talk to collections
and have you disposed of." she shot back.
Stung Rotten retorted "You wish, little girl. You still don't
have any business sense as it is, so why worry. A person with
your....difficulties has no place in the rarified world of high
finance. Why don't you find something more suitable to your capabilities
- like selling pencils?"
"I've been selling pencils - outselling you in fact. Besides by
this time next year my profits will be at least 3 percent more
than yours, thanks to that contract you lost."
"Nonsense, that was a losing contract to begin with - you won't
make anything out of it."
"Wrong again, yes in direct costs it doesn't look good...but I
invested in the recycling plant last year and I'll be able to
sell the recyclable items back at an almost pure profit" she smiled
sweetly "So it looks like your short-sighted gains gets you nothing
in the long run. Now if you don't mind...I'd like to get my food"
with a modest bow she left a fuming individual behind.
At the front desk
"Maki could you announce the match in five please?" The manager
"Yes dad, anything else?"
"No, not for you. Jaired, is the announcement programmed for the
"Got it, voice and visuals are set. Match views are pre-programmed
and monitors are standing by."
"Good lad, Maki...?" Maki hit the general announcement and a tone
pealed across the arcade "Attention the Challenge Match will start
in five minutes, participants please man your pods. Thank you."
She looked over at Jaired "We're all set."
"Great, shall we start the checklist? I'll handle arena generation
if you'll take the VM crosscheck and control check ok?"
"Suits me, I still have trouble with the interface" Both of them
were relieved at the front desk and they headed into the computer
room. Jaired got there after Maki, she tossed him a heads-up set
and they both plugged in and went to work.
"Two minutes Jenny, chamber will go hot in one"
"Ready." she replied. She started a last minute check of her gray
and black suit.
The suit allows the scanners to track her movements in real time
by tracking reflective dots at the joints. Satisfied that the
reflectors weren't dirty she checked her staff dots. With that
done she waited.
"Either of you have specialized controls for these things?" asked
"Naw, we don't need anything like that" they boasted in unison.
"Ok then, these will go hot in two minutes. Board your pods."
Complying with the instructions the attendant checked that they
were belted in and sealed the pods.
"They're ready" came the attendants voice over the channel
"Thanks Mark, now get clear we have it from here"
Maki looked up "Ready for VM upload"
The manager looked at Jaired "Initialize the field and synchronize
the pods with the reflex chamber. Maki start the upload."
In the pods and in the chamber the words "Insert Disk" appeared.
Jenny carefully moved across the active floor and finished inserting
the cartridge, the Twins slotted theirs as well. In all three
locations the screens muted and moments later panels started lighting
up as the control systems manifested "Control check, please" appeared.
The twins yawned and settled comfortably in the pods seats, Jennys
message quickly went away as she went through a standard range-of-motion
check as the positional scanners came on-line and she slid on
her control visor
"Pods are functional, chamber is active - all scanners operational"
"Compilation in progress, controls active."
In sequence pod 7 and pod 12 then the reflex chamber's 'clear'
commands came through.
"They're ready." Maki called out
"Activate the center holo then, now let's watch the fight" the
The screens flickered for a moment then the virtual world came
Mist swirled for a few moments then the jungle beyond became visible,
the viewpoint shifted slightly and an old ruined multi-story temple
came into view. The jungle streamed past as the camera moved in
toward the ancient structure. Fallen columns barely visible through
the overgrowth framed a cracked doorless entrance. Through the
dark entranceway the temple interior faded into view. Light streamed
down from gaps in the ceiling highlighting the remains inside.
The center was dominated by a large stage a story high, with steps
on all four sides leading to its top. Three of the walls had large
alcoves, some with statues so old that they might not even be
human in origin, others had large urns in various states of repair.
Three alcoves were dark with faint glimmers.
The back wall was dominated by a massive relief of a dragon with
partial words Inscribed. The flowing viewpoint moved over the
center platform and slid toward The relief and as it approached
a large circular pit moved into view.
Suddenly the view jerks right toward one of the empty alcoves
and a pair of glowing blue eyes are the first thing visible, then
the rest of a rotating figure begins to form. A standard humanoid
structure starts to assemble. Following the basic structure, armor
plates form covering the body in a sleek blue and silver shell,
the right hand reaches out and a staff-like weapon with a serrated
sword blade on each end appears in an explosion of light. Following
that the point of view moves to the armored face and a roman horsehair
crest manifests on the helm. Having finished creating itself,
the Silent Knight strides forth to do battle.
Next the view shifts into another alcove occupied by a pile of
Sinister chanting can be heard in the background, and the bone
pile starts to twitch. Suddenly a rib jerks free of the pile and
is followed by a tibia then a femur, after that there is a veritable
explosion of bones as the whole pile takes to the air. The chanting
gets louder and more sibilant and the bones start to come together
into a figure...with four arms, when the skull lands on the neck
green flames shoot from the eye sockets and a maniacal chittering
laugh can be heard as it too moves forward.
In the third alcove lay a dust and debris covered sarcophagus.
Similar chanting can be heard here, the alien rhythms carrying
a different emphasis. A muffled thump can be heard over the voices
and the dust jumps from the lid. Another thump, more pronounced
and some of the debris falls from the edge. A third thump, this
time the lid moves slightly and mailed fingers are seen peeking
out from the edge of the opening. The fingers get a grip on the
edge of the lid and tug it opens further. The camera view moves
in a little closer to view the occupant. All that can be seen
are red eyes. With what Is seen to be a massive effort the lid
is shoved aside revealing a black armored warrior. The revealed
figure sits up, a slash of light showing only part of it. Slowly
the dust covered warrior clambers out of its tomb, it reaches
in and draws out a massive sword and shield, with a howl of promised
vengeance it strides toward the opening.
"VM Compilation complete, the arena is active" Maki called out.
" I'll bet five that Jenny mops them" Jaired called over to her.
"You're on - but I'll take a quart of Haagen Daz ice cream instead"
"Deal. Hey, check the crowd!"
On the security monitors the center section was packed. There
were so many watching the match that they were almost crushing
those towards the middle.
"Jaired, put this on in the snack bar and over by the coin-ops.
Maki, how is the network holding?"
"Fine so far, most are simply watching this one - think it might
be because of those rich guys from the Reuban Academey." Come
to think of it, if they weren't such prigs I might be tempted
to be out there myself with one of them, she thought. But I have
The computer team went back to work.
In the Temple.
Jenny came out first, and quickly released her two WarBits and
had them cloak. Next she tied in their sensors to hers and got
a good look at the surrounding arena. As she had expected the
main fighting area would be up on the center altar area, the sides
were a bit too restrictive for the slash and parry swordwork her
weapon called for. Crouching slightly she set her sight at the
edge of the platform and mimed a jump. The Silent Knight responded
with a hundred fifty meter gravitic assisted leap to the top.
With a complete aerial view to all of the stars she began waiting
patiently for her opposition
Busters skeleton came shambling out of its alcove chittering/laughing
to itself as it approached on of the staircases it caught sight
of its partner "Yo, Bubba you see her?" "Naw, but since we can't
fight to well down here I bet she's up top" to prove his point
he tried an experimental swing with his greatsword - it clanged
on the stonework before he could finish his backswing "See? S'all
right though we'll catch the redhead up on top an-" "Redhead?
How you know the guy we're fighting's a redhead?" "Ronnie caught
up with me just before we went live, told me that blind girl's
been hangin' round and who is always with her? The redhead. An
if'n it's the redhead she's gonna be using that spooky Knight-thingy
"Well, she's only a girl and there is two of us, c'mon bro, I
want to finish this so we can catch up with some of those babes
out there. You take those stairs, I'll take these - meet ya up
"With that attitude, he isn't going anywhere with the ladies here
tonight" Maki commented "He's probably forgotten that only his
opponents cannot hear him."
Watching the security screen Jaired looked over at her "No kidding
- you can hear the catcalls in here."
"Oh Ronald, you can't even hire quality friends anymore can you?"
All Rotten could do was snarl at his friends blundering.
The twins VMs ascended the stairs in unison, when they got to
the top they spotted the Knight waiting patiently in a guard position.
"I see that you two actually decided to show, oooohhh I think
I might be scared now. Then again maybe you little boys should
log off now before a mere girl cuts you to itty-bitty pieces.."
"A street trash girl like you couldn't scare us wench!" Buster
snapped "Why don't you go back to the slums where you belong"
"Yeah, and maybe you won't get your precious little feelings hurt
before you go either" Bubba added.
"Well, since the two of you feel that way let's get it ONNN!"
Jenny mimed another jump and as she glided toward the skeleton
she brought her weapon overhead and struck down. Buster saw it
coming and dodged out of the way. Bubba started moving toward
her as she jumped. Jennys VM landed with a bone jarring thud and
the weapon splintered a small piece of the floor 'Missed' Jenny
gritted. As she rose up she swung back and around - more to clear
a space to manuver that to actually inflict damage. The twins
moved away from her as she turned. The trio started circling each
other, Jenny feinted towards Bubba, who hopped backwards and charged
towards Bubba. Bubba moved in for a shield bash but wound up blocking
both of jennys strikes. Each hit off broke off a few chunks from
the shield in a shocking flash - but nothing got through. Bubba
countered with a clumsy side strike that Jenny easily avoided
as she flowed back out of his reach. Behind her Buster moved in
for an easy shot at her back. Rearing its skull head back and
letting loose an insane laugh, the knives the lower hands were
holding bit deep into the rear armor.
Jenny snarled as a damage report scrolled across her visual display,
her armor had been cut down thirty percent with that move. She
responded with a reversed leg sweep that connected with the skeletons
knees. Busters VM went down in a clatter, in his pod he was bounced
around as his world went topsy turvey while he spun down to the
Jenny backflipped away from Bubbas counter-attack and reset herself
into a guard position. Buster got back on his feet an turned toward
her "Bubba, let's rush her" "OK 1...2........GO!" both went at
her, she reset her stance and whispered "Defiance, left target."
As they moved in the, Black Knight was nailed center mass by the
energized rings that flew from her torso weapon. The skeleton
was still closing, so Jenny opted to dodge as her attack options
were already used. Buster flew by in a swirl of flailing arms.
"You two are so clumsy, I'm not sure you should be allowed to
play outside of a crib" she taunted "it's no wonder you guys are
called the Gojiro twins - except the monster had a better excuse
for klutzing around".
"@#$%&!" Bubba swore, that energy cannon shot got lucky and hit
a chink in his armor. At the moment damage reports were telling
him that he was going to be a lot slower because of powerplant
damage. He moved back into the fray.
Rotten could be heard ranting a kilometer away as the twins damage
was posted, Isa was simply smiling, she was watching the match
with her imager. She knew she would pay for this in the morning
when the headaches caught up with her, but this was to good to
not watch "You go girl" she murmured. She was so intent on watching
the fight onscreen that she jumped as something covered her screen.
"Guess who?" a voice demanded. "Er, let's see. Jenny is in a match,
Jaired is working, so is Maki, Auzzie is on vacation back home.
I would guess...nobody important????" "Thanks a LOT you minx,
I'll remember that!" Chiisai growled mock threatiningly. "Be sure
that you do...you know better than to play that sort of game with
me Chiisai. What's up?" "I was going to ask you that...rumor had
it that it was Jenny that challenged to Godzilla twins for a match,
I see it's true." "Sure is, and those knuckleheads have already
made fools of themselves with the public at large" She nodded
toward a fuming Ronald. "So what have I missed?" Chiisai asked.
"Not much, thay've been dancing around for a bit, that skeleton
took a cheap shot at her back, but she's mainly been checking
out their capabilities". Chiisai took a seat "What caused her
to hand out the challenge in the first place?" Isa began to relate
what happened a week ago...
Jenny was busy. With the Dark Knight on her left and slightly
behind and the skelton in front and to the right, all she could
really do is constantly parry or she'd risk an internal hit. The
skeleton was her primary worry as it had the fastest weapons.
The Dark Knight was moving slower after she hit it in their attempted
charge, so it was less of a worry. Deciding enough was enough
she planted one end her weapon and vaulted over the skeleton and
moved as far as her systems would allow. As the skeleton turned
Jenny recalled her WarBits. The two drones moved in, and as they
did so her view of the arena at large shrank. The twins started
to close again, Jenny worked quickly, issuing verbal instructions
to the remotes. As they closed to melee range again, Jenny acivated
the Bits and jumped.
From the perspective of the would be attackers, their target suddenly
split into three. "Which one is she?" screamed Buster. "I don't
know" Bubba hollered back. "Pick one, I'll take another and we'll
flush her out quickly enough". "Got it, I'll get this one on the
right" A targeting cursor highlighted one of the possible targets.
"OK, take her down".
Heh, they fell for them. Won't last long though Jenny thought.
What to do, what to do?. Taking a quick glance around she spotted
the pit. Aha! An Idea. She grinned and watched the twins chase
her remotes paying her no attention at all. She stepped back off
the edge and glided to the floor, out of sight. Hidden by the
edge of the platform, she switched her point of view to the remotes.
Good thing too, I'm getting a bit tired she sighed. The first
remote was dancing away from the Dark Knight. Bubba quickly got
tired of the chase and stopped. He let loose a very unearthly
howl that warped everything in a hundred meter radius - including
the lightly shielded drone. It popped and fizzled and the shadow
image and drone faded from the mainframe existance "This one ain't
her" he called out. "Good fer you, me I can't get a good hit over
here with this on so I can't tell." Buster growled back. "Hurry
up then, I'll watch your back in case you get lucky." Bubba relaxed
for a moment, These pods were bruising him with all of the violent
movements they have been pushing through.
Jenny was out of sight, but not idle. She revised the remaing
Bits instructions to lead Buster over to the edge. Watching the
results, she was pleased ' these two lummoxes are easier to lead
around than ever' she giggled. 'And everyone thought I was insane
to ask for silent running on this machine' she snuck around to
where the Bit was to lead Buster. On cue, the leg of his VM was
visible. She jumped and grabbed. Buster had time to squawk as
it registered that he had ben grabbed. Jenny planted her virtual
feet against the edge and jumped again using her grav thrusters
at max - holding a leg. She flipped over backwards and pulled
Buster with her. She let go in mid-air and he fell again. His
legs have GOT to be real weak now she thought. Buster was mad,
this was the third time he had been planted and he had only hit
her twice early on. Damage reports were flashing critical leg
damage and one arm was now non-functional thanks to a real bad
landing. Picking himself up he found her waiting "Miss me?" she
asked sweetly "Not this time you little @@@@!" he pressed a button
on the left control stick and activated a preprogrammed attack.
The skeleton approached her slowly, menace in its glowing eyes.
The lower right arm was dangling uselessly by its side. The upper
arms started reaching for her and the lower arms started to rotate
faster and faster. Jenny backed up 'uh oh..what is he trying to
do?' It soon became obvious, the upper arms were trying to grab
her so that the lower arms could cut through her like an undead
buzzsaw. 'This is too easy' out loud "OK little girly-man, you've
had you fun now it's time for you to go home" she pulled her weapon
into its guard position and waited for him to close.
This clip would later be used in a local advertising piece: The
lower arms were rotating so quickly that they became a computer
generated blur, its opponant stepped into the attact and counter-swung.
At the moment before the weapons impacted the staff/sword blazed
white as a star and proceeded to let the arms hit--and slice themselves
The skeleton backs off confused as to what just happened, the
silver and blue figure presses forward and removes the skeletons
legs. The swords brilliance fades away and returns the weapon
to normal. "Well Buster, it's over for you." As the weapon comes
down on the neck Busters scream of panic was heard throughout
the Arena. His displays shut down. Now all he could do was watch
the remainder of the fight and not be able to do anything about
The weapon staus bar indicated that the nova charge had been used
and that she had four more units - with ten minutes until full
charge was recovered. Before the skeleton could de-rezz she grabbed
the skull and jumped back up to the platform, her Bit returned
to the rooftop area to provide a full view again. "Miss me Bubba?
Well, I brought you a present to make up...hope you like it" Jenny
tossed the inert skull at his feet. "I hope your brother brought
a spare set of shorts, I think he wet himself when he screamed."
"You'll pay for that, nobody talks about my brother like that!!"
"Oh, sure. You going to try and run me down again in that car
of yours?" She asked
"We were just having fun - you're the one who took it so personal"
"BUBBA YOU FOOL!!!!" Rotten screamed. He looked around, grabbed
a glass and threw it at the holo.
Chiisai looked over at Isa "Could you excuse me for a moment?
I need to..."
"Sure Chiisai, don't take long. I think she is going to finish
him soon" Isa said distractedly.
She never noticed him leave.
Bubba was really pressing his attacks, Jenny was whittling away
his shield and finally managed to sever its mounting. As his shield
fell away Jenny taunted him again "I'll be generous - you can
punch out now and I'll save you the humiliation of losing completely."
"NEVER!! Not after what you did to my brother!"
"Have it your way, but I'm getting tired and I'm going to end
Bubba howled again, stripping away more armor from the Silent
Knight. Jenny riposeted and took out the Dark Knights throat,
and knocked that weapon out of the fight.
The computer decided that the Dark Knight was staggered by the
hit and he momentarily lost control of his VM. Jenny followed
up by removing one leg and an arm.
Bubba somehow managed to stay upright, but when he swung, he missed
and fell flat on his face. Jenny strolled up behind him "Too bad
you didn't take my offer, now you get what you asked for." she
placed one of her feet in his back and clipped his arm off at
the shoulder then proceeded to remove his leg "You know, this
reminds me of an old british movie I heard about. Going to have
to find out its name". Once Bubba had been dismembered she stood
back and evaluated her work. She dropped her weapon and picked
up the remaining torso and head and jumped down by the pit "Now
you will be a sacrifice to Justice you sniviling little worm"
She turned toward the relief and raised him over her head "Remember
this next time we meet - mess with me or my friends and I will
find a way to make you pay-publicly" she snarled. She threw him
over the edge. He screamed for a long time as he fell out of sight.
The crownd was going wild. Two to one odds, money and power on
one side, pluck on the other and the expected underdog wins spectacularly.
As Jenny emerged from the reflex chamber she saw the twins moving
out the front door.
She was quickly distracted as her friends surrounded her with
congratulations. Jaired handed her a towel "Twins have bugged
out already." he screamed in her ear, even so he was barely audible
over the crowd "Great Job!!!" he repeated and moved off back to
She moved forward to meet the crowd
Outside the Arena
"How could the two of you lose like that?" Rotten was already
"A single girl, with a CP disadvantage and cheap equipment beat
the two of you - IN PUBLIC - and made it look easy at that. And
you" he turned on Bubba "had the stupidity to admit that you tried
a drive by on two pedestrians."
Inside the Arena
Jenny finally managed to push past the crowds and get to the restrooms
to clean up.
She met Isa at the door. "Quite a match you put on out there,
satisfied?" " I will be once I get to a shower. Those reflex suits
are great, but lord do you work up a sweat in one of them."
Isa smiled "I know, you can be smelled a kilometer and a half
away...you still up for a victory celebration?"
"Give me bit to clean up and I will be"
"OK, by the way have you seen Chiisai, he went to the bathroom
just after you finished Buster and hasn't been seen since."
"No but I'll look in here, I wouldn't put it past that boy."
"Thanks, meet you up front".
Rotten was livid, first his bodyguards lose a match, then they
prove their stupidity, and now his car was missing its tires.
He looked up at the twins "Get this fixed now or..."
They hurried to find a repair service, as they moved away they
could hear him "YOU WON'T GET AWAY WITH THIS"
Some old guys were out fishing
"Excuse me?" one man asked.
"Huh?" his friend replied.