Just outside Ballmore the gladiators on the New Yawk Kinkys team were practicing in a small domed jockatorium. Over on one side three of them were practicing a two-on-one, a situation that came up frequently in the field.
Sabrina Mancini’s man-tank, called the Ultragirl, climbed up one of the fifteen foot1 pylons while Warrick Kaine kept Rubin Carter distracted. Warrick’s man-tank, the Alloy, in addition to the standard arms and legs, had two pincers, one long and one short, and he used them to great effect. These pincers, operating together or independently, were popular and even had their own nicknames: ISP, the Inner Snaring Pincer, and OSP, the Outer Snaring Pincer. At times it almost seemed as if ISP and OSP had minds of their own2. ISP had snared the Hurricane, Rubin’s man-tank, from the front and OSP was reaching the long way around and attacking from behind. The Hurricane’s arms could spin at high speed, and his left one was spinning now, awkwardly stretching back to fend off OSP. Warrick pushed Rubin back toward the pylon
At that time man-tanks were designed in one of three styles: Heavy, the largest, strongest, and slowest style; Agile, the fastest and most nimble; and Long-reach, with extending tentacles capable of reaching a good distance. The Heavy could withstand the most of the Agile’s attack and lay it out easily if it hit. The Agile could dodge the Long-Reach’s attack and slip in close enough to hit it almost unchecked. And lastly, the Long-Reach could easily attack the Heavy from a distance, leaving it unable to hit back.
This set-up was just a rule-of-thumb3, as the expression then went. An Agile could defeat a Heavy if it could hit often enough without taking a hit in return. A Long-Reach could defeat an Agile if it did manage to grab it. And a Heavy could defeat a Long-Reach of it could move in close enough. But all of these condition were unusual, and required an operator who was exceptionally skilled. Or exceptionally lucky.
The Ultragirl was an Agile, the Alloy was a Long-Reach, and the Hurricane was a Heavy.
Warrick had entangled Rubin and was keeping him busy. Sabrina leaped off of the pylon, landed hard on the Hurricane. She crouched on top of him and started raining blow on his head.
“Enough,” said Rubin. “I give4.”
After, the three had gone into the locker-room, removed, their sweaty man-tank uniforms5, and were showering6 and discussing their performance. Or, at least, Sabrina and Warrick were. Rubin mostly stayed quiet.
“Rubin,” said Sabrina, annoyed. “Are you even listening to us? Why’d you let us get the better of you?” Sabrina was a pretty, young woman, muscular, with long blonde hair and a champstamp7.
“Be fair,” Rubin answered. “The Alloy is Long-Reach. I have a Heavy. Of course I’d be in trouble.” Rubin was dark-skinned, unusual in that time and place8. Although getting on in years he was solidly built and healthy. He wore a thick black mustache in what was called a fuming chew style, because it could interfere with him eating.
“That’s the point,” snapped Sabrina. “You shouldn’t have gone after Warrick first. You had a chance to take me out. And you missed it.”
“So?” Rubin asked blandly.
“So? So you have to do better!”
“Yeah. Doan yuh care about your perfawhmance, or what?” He was from the city-state of Broaklen, and not only was his accent not fading, it actually seemed to grow stronger over the years.
“Not really. No.”
Sabrina was highly offended. Although still new to the professional circuit she trained hard and pushed herself to improve, and thought others should, too. “You’re strong. You could take a man-tank out with just one punch. But-”
“But I don’t like to talk about it all that much. It’s my work,” Rubin said. “I do it for pay. And when it’s over I’d just as soon go on my way.”
“I was saying,” Sabrina continued,” you’re strong, but you’re not what you used to be You’re good now. But one time you could have been the champion of the world.”
“&#@%$ it, Rubin! You’re gettin’ lazy, and it’s hurtin’ de team, right?”
Rubin left the shower, dried off, started the long laborious process of getting dressed11. “I said I don’t care. Let’s talk about something important. You guys going to Ochay’s party this weakening-end12?”
 The pylon was fifteen foot, or 300 spo, in height. It did not have fifteen feet. This was one of the many difficulties that cropped up in Anglish. Return to 1
 I must state here that ISP and OSP were not actually sapient. Artificial Intelligence was outlawed and AI’s were persecuted, enslaved, tortured, and destroyed. AI’s would not gain basic rights until KRG herself, in her infinite wisdom and mercy, demanded they receive their rightful due in 22 SOK (2756 A.D.E.). All hail KRG! Return to 2
 Certain body parts were thought to have their own personalities. The thumb was thought to be practical and logical, thus a rule-of-thumb was a generally accurate principle. This belief was the reason that a person would extend his thumb, “thumbs up,” to indicate that his thumb approved, and why if you allowed another person to make all your decisions and do your thinking for you you were said to be “under his thumb”. Return to 3
 To give was to surrender. The term developed from the winner demanding the loser give a tribute. Return to 4
 Although there is reason to believe the ancients had a strong nudity taboo, there is also evidence that the exact opposite was true; that people in the Motorized Ages were encouraged to be exhibitionistic. Further research is required. Return to 5
 People would clean themselves by “showering,” that is, having water shower over their bodies. Hygiene was poor back then. People rarely showered more than three or four times a day. Return to 6
 When a woman developed a certain level of confidence and self-assurance she could be awarded with a champstamp, a stylized tattoo across her lower back. Return to 7
 Some historians claim that Rubin would have faced discrimination and scorn due to his skin color. I personally doubt this. I refuse to believe that even in ancient times our ancestor could have been that foolish. Return to 8
 110.5 spo. Return to 9
 11 tares and 6 dets Return to 10
 Putting on clothing could take over an hour, as the Ian Knot had not yet been developed. Return to 11
 A work-unit was typically ten to twelves days. After working for so long a laborer would become so weak he could no longer work. So the bosses would allow a day or two of rest so the laborers could recover enough to work another ten to twelve days. The work days were called “weakenings,” and the day or two of rest were the “weakening-end.” Return to 12
Sabrina Mancini © Alan Evans. She appears in Rival Angels.
Warrick Kaine/Alloy © Landon Porter. He appears in The Descendants.
The Ian Knot created by Ian Fieggen.
Used without permission. See the disclaimer at https://dellstories.wordpress.com/brm-tg-disclaimer/.