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Chapter 2


How much time until Solomon’s heart stopped hammering against his chest with the calm of battle, and he entered what was known as a fighter’s tranquility. While scores of middle, upper, lower class brackets sung gloriously for fists. The body becoming brittle pages from a history book, disintegrating once human touch was rooted in the equation.

Brawlers alongside him prepped their bodies for a beating. Breathing Tetra into the lungs, allowing the chemicals to drown nerve endings into analgesia. Fast-forwarding the physical realm, so if they died, it happened too quickly for comprehension to bring forth the frightening reality of death.

Dealers’ peddled drugs inside brown cases, velvet lining in the interior, silently summoning various addicts to abuse its devices. Gnutella Fire, inhaled through the lungs or nose, was in most of these cases, and usually muted the brain’s conscious emissions. Like a haymaker to the mouth, penitence, odium, love—the brain’s higher emotional functions were drained of taste so the tongue could not recognize them; common use for those who still had a soul. Ex Deus was a liquid dropped into the eyes, yielding unexpected side effects. Spectators used it to make the corpses appear vibrant, like death an impossible feat, and the lifeless bodies were on the verge of talking again. Tasting the sweat ringside was still not graphic enough.

The roar of voices and lighters sparking calmed when the announcer came live. “Gather ‘round, put your best fist forward. The next brawl will begin when I shout your name.” The sound system died, the arena music of jaws shattering soon to begin.

A dealer stood before Solomon, voice the low-end of high pitched. “What’s your clarity?” Each of his teeth were sharpened, a few longer than the others.

Flashes of Maddox injecting Icde went through his head. “Nothing…” The dealer turned, seeing Punkers who craved his products desperately and were willing to buy in bulk. Solomon’s hands shook, not from nervousness, but lack of brawling. He needed something to take off the edge, a quick fix to calm his muscles. “Wait.” He reached for the dealer’s arm.

“Huh? Change ya mind?”

“Yeah. Throw me a Tetra stick and a G-fire.”

“Ten credits, each.”

He uncrossed his arms, digging in his pockets for a few seconds before he realized what the dealer said. “Ten? In Sanctuary it’s seven.”

“This ain’t Sanc. You wan’ it or not?”

“Three credits is a meal.” He gave him a card with 0010 pounded into the cold, lightweight metal. He took the stick and small bag of Gnutella Fire. “You have a cylinder for the stick?”

“Half a credit, for a cylinder.”

Solomon shook his head. “Give it to me or I’ll dislocate your spine.” The words weren’t what made the dealer give him the cylinder to hold the Tetra; it was the raw intent in his eyes.

“No problems, no problems. Take it, I’ll make it up on some drug heads.” He closed his case and vanished into the crowd.

The announcer interrupted the socializing. “Tabal, a Nirvana regular with five fighters hospitalized, step center. Solomon, a Nirv newbie, is his opponent!”

He slipped the Tetra inside the cylinder, and the cylinder into his pocket.

Gygar eyed the scene. Sol said he brawled to get credits for him, so they could move out of the city, and away from Maddox. Why was he buying drugs then?

Tabal weaved her way into the center of people, as did Solomon. The scanner-machine rolled into the clear, where almost everyone could spot it.

The recording-like voice bellowed, “Tabal, normal physical, neurological upgrades. Faster nerve response time, stronger muscle output. Solomon, hand enhancements, glandular modifications throughout the nervous system. When the bell rings, loose yer fucking minds!” It rolled back into the crowd.

She did not look familiar, Solomon thinking she was the woman he saw earlier. He had no reservations about fighting a female—a brawler was a brawler.

Sometimes, while waiting for the ping of the bell, you hallucinate hearing it and surprise your opponent. Happened more often than not.

Gygar watched Tabal sprint forward, throwing jabs with her feet still skittering across the concrete. “Punch! Don’t just stand there!” He thought his voice was lost in the torrent of shouts, but Sol went on the offensive, trying to bleed her pores. Kid orange rooted for Tabal, and smiled at Gygar when he looked his way. Each time her head jerked from a jab, he saw blood spray across the spectator’s faces. A few sampled the substance. The brawl was one-sided from the beginning. His brother was only biding time, testing her boundaries until he grew bored risking bodily harm. He studied Sol’s innate grace, and hoped he was bestowed with the same abilities. His mind wandered to modifications. When would he receive a set of his own. The all too familiar silence that ensued whenever his brother brawled, called Gygar back to reality. With each blow, more skin decorated Sol’s knuckles; more brain activity being reduced to sucking applause through a straw. More code blues and not enough doctors on staff to tend to them all…

------
Things that are done can be undone.


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