At 13 o’clock Analisa joined me at the dinner table. Nobody else was taking part. She was looking nearly as wrecked as me, even if she had just one third of my dose of acid or whatever that was.
This would have been the way I liked to see. But truth is, Analisa took the hit way better than me. She was in a good, swinging mood and asked me about my black eye that started to colorize itself as psychedelic as I feel. “Tennis”, I said laconically without any urge to let her dig deeper into the issue. “I destroyed Harold for that.” We got served our meal by the servants. I helt my glass of orange juice fast in my hand as I tried to not lose the grip to the common reality I had regained through the sports and the sleep. I was still very tired and I guess Analisa was fully aware of that.
That’s when a healthy sixteen year old girl comes to out-condition a young a bit elfish looking twenty eight. The odds were against me and the triple dose of acid did the rest, as well as her additional six hours sleep she had. “How about riding?”, she asked and I swear she enjoyed her triumph. You may start telling me that a physical adept that I am should be superior with body, mind and spirit and that she should outperform any mundane on these issues. Yeah, and if you do that, I would take your head and slam it on the table and yell hysterically: ‘No! I’m not that kind of adept! I said, I’m not that kind of…’
I am a disgrace for my kind, you might say and I would answer you, that by the looks you got a point. But that looking awful is something good, if you have an ace up your sleeve that you can play when the other at least expect this. To be underestimated is something like a weapon.
Sounds like a very good idea. I wish you could underestimate me today, though. Then I would be a really great runner. But by the looks I got pawned by a teenage hussy on her home turf. Things like that happen if you let them get the home advantage.
I really feel miserable. “Riding”, I said, stuffing some of the ultra expensive stuff they call meal into my mouth and nodded. “That really sounds like a good idea.” What really sounds like a good idea is to put my head under a cold shower again and then fall into the bed for the rest of the afternoon. But I smiled.
“Do you know those guys, that poisoned us last night?”, I asked. She munched and shook her head. “No. Never seen before.” I watched her closely. Hard to tell if she was telling the truth or not, if the colors of her clothes still were shiny as a trideo set on full color intensity with some dead pixels on the screen and a broken cable. “Why?” “Because I’d like to break them the one or other bone”, I said and grabbed me unwillingly one of the fruits from the bowl in the middle of the table. It was a pine-apple, that I sliced like I would slice those guys.
If I think about, it was the pine-apple in the middle of the fruit plate where the other fruits had been draped around.
“Ah”, was the only thing she said. “You had a bad trip?” I watched her and tried to let my eyes look like dangerous slits. But I guess it was just looking sleepy and a bit doped. “Ah nah”, I lied. “I’m feeling great. You should spy my vividness from a kilometer distance.” I don’t know of Analisa gets a lot of sarcasm here, but she smiled and I got the idea that she had not been too unhappy about our drugging.
Wait for it.
A time leap later we were riding side by side and I should really run a diagnostic on my SPU. “You know why I don’t drink alcohol and try to stay clean from drugs?” I didn’t really ride horses for a long time, because there are not many horses in Seattle Barrens or Hong Kong. I tried more or less to compensate my lack of skill with some good reflexes and I concentrated on my inner self to keep balance, which sounds a lot easier than doing it, if reality is feeling like jelly and you can’t get a fast grip to it yet and instead surf on the fringes of it.
The stable was with each eight boxes on either side and a roof of reed. We had to ride the four hundred meters to the stable on two wheeled electric personal carriers. The gardener was smiling when Analisa asked me if I was good at riding. With my wounded pride I lied: “I’m a fairly good.” “Do you think you can handle ‘Fury’?” I suppressed to wince. “Of cause.” It was a black stallion, English thoroughbred. The gardener smiled when he handled the seventeen hands withers pack of muscles and temperament, that nervously danced and was nearly uncontrollable in his box. I got sick in my stomach and my legs went rubber, but I smiled. Analisa preferred a white mare. “So we are the Valkyries?”, I tried a joke, but her smile was more malicious than amused. “You mean you will ride to Valhalla?”
The horses were nervous like they were waiting to run. Or worse – jump. I smiled and patted her neck. “Why no drugs? You’re an ex-junkie?” I stared at her. “Do I look like one?” “Today? How shall I put it? Nice or realistic?” I liked the girl. Analisa was smart, she had humor and for a spoiled hussy she was quite charming. “No. Because I’m pregnant.” “Ow”, she said. And there was something more in that ‘ow’, than you’d expect. There was this tingling in my stomach, one that I get if something is said between the lines, something that comes with emotions. It’s a funny thing if you feel this, but I won’t like to miss it.
But maybe today I was just feeling sick. And that tingling was only the start of another round of playing barf. “Yay!”, she yelled and was driving her horse into a gallop. Fury didn’t wait for me to give way, it just spurted after her and took the lead in a few huge steps. Gallop is the worst thing to do if you have a headache like you got down to the ninth hell of Dante and back and then someone blammed your brains out with a red colored monkey wrench and after that Chuck Norris gave you a kick into your guts.
I was holding myself upright and was not falling on the horses neck to hold me tight, I had a lot of luck that I didn’t lose complete control. And then he did exactly what I have expected, running upon a fence and it didn’t show any intention to stop or change it’s direction, it just jumped over it, Analisa on my tails. I was feeling the dinner coming up, but tried to smile and kept it down. It’s not that I don’t enjoy riding. But, you know… there are times I prefer a dark room, a blanket over my head and silence. Which is amusingly the actual opposite what Analisa did.
But finally, she slowed down. Analisa seemed to be a bit disappointed that I got around with him and he didn’t make short work of me. The private park was coming to an end and she turned on a small passage between the woods and I swear, she was looking a bit pale herself. When she was looking pale, I for sure was having this nice green of hospitals on the skin of my face, with blue lips, that I kept pressed together tightly. I smiled. “Nice horse”, I patted his neck and meant ‘devil’. “Lot’s of temperament, it suits me.” If it comes to do stupid things. I didn’t stretch the bluff beyond that and had no urge for a second run. We unsaddled and dried the horses.
“You promised me to go on a second night out”, she said innocently. “Yeah, and we’ll do.” “I know a…” I interrupted her, “no, this time I chose the club. Something you won’t know. A bit slummy, cheap. Is that alright?” She put up a pale smile. “Sounds itchy!” “It will be. But I think, I need some sleep or I won’t make it.”
After driving back, I waved good bye and retreated to my room. I turned it dark and fell into the cushion. I logged into Mystique, checked my stats, looking for some quick dailies. But I was not in for gaming and would be out in a few minutes. I hoped the hacker was intelligent enough to follow me into the game. He was a Fighter-Mage, wearing black of cause. After finding a group and a nice group wipe, because I really sucked, the group dissolved with some colorful insults about my gaming style. But we managed to switch some data.
Steganography is the art to get information from one to the other by an obfuscated way. Like wrong pixels in a picture, funny words in a text or things like that. We didn’t arrange a code, but I found out, he was speaking a certain way of gaming L33t-speak. Where he used words that were uncommon, dispelled some of the language and things like that. I don’t know if this would be obfuscated enough to keep it under the radar of a hacker who knows what he does, but I didn’t had enough time and paranoia and was not in the condition to be paranoid anymore.
Long story short he told me that my mission was not to find out about if they will buy or sell this company I told him, but if they would buy out their own stock or would liquidize it to get more money from it. It would be nice if he had told me this from the beginning. The chat we had was mostly patronizing me because I was performing awful and he I am not completely sure if he meant it for real or not. Because my awful performance was not faked. Did you ever try to play a Matrix game under the influence? With a white teddy bear giving you funny faces? You’ll understand my problem, if you ever did. And you should not.
I logged out and I didn’t wait to fall asleep until my head hit the cushion.