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Last Updated    October 12 2017
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Once More Into
       the Grinder


A Swap And Some Sniping

     In addition to the deals and chatter, Rol and Zimzod both ordered drinks from the lounge service.  But as Rol got there, Zimzod was disgusted because the venue was a juice bar and there was no alcohol to be bought.  Rol wasn't surprised, as this was a sports venue and alcohol was not something that fit in their business model.  To Zimzod's disgust, Rol said it made sense they could simulate drinking in between simulating combat.  After they had their fill mixing with those in the lounge, the team got the word their maze was reset and they could go in for another session.

This time, Mikah did some "swapping", taking Aali from the other team and giving them Aiden.  As she commented on the pilot's combat effectiveness, Aiden simply and sarcastically snarked back, "Love you too!".  This time in, Mikah decided to command her team, telling Aali, "you're with me" while ordering Rol to cover the space below the maze and Zimzod above.  On the other team, Aiden found himself in charge despite Sir Terin's claim he had a plan.

Not exactly volunteering to lead, Aiden first pulled Terin aside to hear what the Knight had in mind.  Once things were set, Aiden accepted and ordered Emkir into the maze as point man.  He was followed by Terin, then Inger and himself.  Munarshu was ordered to hold position.  Given his marching orders, Sir Terin also pushed himself down to be able to cover the space below the maze.  And with both teams covering the open spaces, it was no surprise when a number of snap shots were fired!

Terin and Zimzod spotted each other, with Zimzod faster on the visual, meaning he had a brief moment to aim while Terin had to snap his weapon around quickly.  As the two exchanged fire, Zimzod managed to clip the side of Terin's head while Terin's shot went wide.  While he was not hit with a kill-shot, Terin's sensors indicated the wound would have distorted his vision and seriously damaged his hearing.  In addition, he would not have survived the damage to his armor in a vacuum.

As Zimzod laughed, "Hah!  Hit him in the head", Mikah responded over their team channel, "Well that shouldn't do him any damage" despite not knowing who "Him" was.  At the same time, Terin pushed down below the level of the wall and slurred out, "Contact", letting his team know he'd been engaged.  Terin couldn't overcome the sense of irony that both engagements had begun with him being head-shot.  At least, this round he hadn't been killed by a single shot outright.  Terin followed that up with a basic estimate of the enemy position after stabilizing his position and started acting to restore some of his senses.

Munarshu checked his HUD to see where Terin's position was as he heard the call.  At the same time, Mikah followed her weapon up as she joined Zimzod, popping up with head and weapon just above the maze.  As Terin slowly maneuvered to a safer point, planning to move along the wall away from his team's entry, Inger decided to invert and check what was below the maze?  At the same time, Emkir made his way into the portal and followed the maze around to the left because that was the only option other than jumping a wall.

Using the composite situational view provided as "team commander", Aiden had a better idea than the others where the contacts Terin had seen were located.  using this, he rose along the wall to take a snap shot, hoping the enemy contact hadn't moved.  Aali had moved past where Mikah and Zimzod's legs dangled as she suffered the dèjà vu of being point again.

Rol held his position, scanning the lower spaces as Inger grabbed the bottom ledge of a wall section to use as an anchor for herself and her rifle.  They still both saw nothing at first, because Inger started sweeping from the right and Rol from the left.  As Mikah and Zimzod watched the area near where Terin had been, Aiden popped into their view a short distance off their aim points.  As they adjusted their aim, Aiden was surprised to see two possible targets and targeted his own snap shot at the right-most target.

As they exchanged fire, Aiden's shot found Zimzod while Mikah's laser took just retribution.  Having been hit just as he was pulling the trigger, Zimzod's aim was ruined and his fire hit a wall. And as quickly, Zimzod and Aiden's armor rigs locked up with the computer systems telling them they were both dead.  Where he lurked, the computer informed Munarshu that he was now in command of his team.

Trading Shots And Pushing Forward

     As this happened, Mikah ordered Aali to continue from the entrance to follow a first turn 180 degrees around a u-turn corner.  Mikah moved down after giving Zimzod's "body" a push to confuse the enemy.  She started to follow behind Aali.  Crossing the visual edge of the wall, Aali cautiously moved to the corner and took a barrier position clearing the corridor ahead.  On the other side, Emkir had pushed against the wall as he followed his corridor to a sharp right and sighted into that open space.  Mikah dropped back behind the wall to take cover just in case another opponent fired at her now known position.  As Mikah pulled back, Rol transited to cover the space below the maze.

Munarshu decided to follow behind Emkir as his path seemed to be clear enough he was not being shot at.  Inger continued scanning and hoped for something active she could react to with a gunshot.  With some contact made, Terin gave up his plan and worked to position himself to transit the wall towards the entry his team was using.  Still, his lack of zero-g skill, along with his "wounds", made his progress slow.  He also kept along the top of the wall as it seemed the other team had dropped below wall level.

Maintaining a grip on the wall, as both anchor and a base to aim her rifle on, Inger spotted a moving figure on the far side of the battlefield!  Someone dropped into her visual range along the distant edge of the maze, though it was hard, given her lack of skills, to adjust her aim.  Because of that, she only got off a snap shot.  And while she did not hit her target, the figure Inger fired at did not seem to react to her attack or even her presence.

As Inger called out her shot and began to wonder if that was Zimzod's "body", Terin continued his slow movement along the wall.  Inger continued to sight her weapon as she confirmed the figure was moving.  So she felt it couldn't be anyone the computer locked up in sim-death.  That let her line up her sights and take the chance to get off an aimed shot.  Munarshu made it into the maze proper and around the first turn-back following Emkir as the Admiral turned right into a passage leading into the maze.  Emkir had yet to encounter any sign of an enemy.

On the other side of the maze, Mikah moved as she ordered Rol to drop down "on plain" and move up to join her.  Advancing, Aali was moving further down a passage that cut to the left of her original direction when the team entered the maze.  As this all happened, Inger's fire laced a line of damage on a wall near Rol's position.  Seeing the effects of the fire, Rol reoriented himself to fire a snapshot at whoever was targeting him.

With the practiced ease of significant training, Rol spun and brought his weapon up seeking a target even as his finger caressed the trigger.  And as Rol's fire ripped into a wall not very close to Inger, she had to admire both the elegant turn, where she couldn't even release the wall without losing control, and the fact that his fire was in line with her!  Had he brought his weapon on level, she had no question she would have been hit by his blind shot!

Moving along the wall, Terin couldn't detect any targets using his sensors and gave the "all clear above" call on his team comms, letting people know there were no enemies above the battle level.  Of course, he was not looking over the top of the arena.  At the same time, Rol announced he was under fire and engaging over his team channel.  Mikah accepted this, figuring Rol would keep "the enemy" engaged while she moved up to Aali and they made a surprise assault.  But Aali was already quite a distance ahead, as the passage they were both in did a shift to the right.

Having gained the position where Aiden was floating, Terin grabbed Aiden's "body" and tried to move, one-handed, partly blinded and with Aiden as a meat shield.  Munarshu continued to follow where Emkir had gone as Emkir pushed around a turn to see a brief passage that would turn left and into the maze.  This would get him close to the people who appeared to be holding position and firing over and under the maze at his team mates.  That was good, because they were not seeing him as they were aiming at others.  Suddenly, as Emkir scanned with his weapon, Emkir saw a figure in Battledress drifting over the maze!

A closer inspection showed the "TAG" lights were dark, signaling this person was sim-dead.  He let the figure drift, ignored, as he concentrated on where he was going.  Soon after Emkir saw it, Munarshu also saw the battledressed figure and even considered trying to climb the wall to grab it.  But he was barely keeping control as he moved from hand hold to hand hold along the wall.  Not only would he have to move fast after changing directions from where he was going, to get near the body, but have to release the wall to grab the spinning body before trying to gain control of it without any skill moving in zero-g himself.

In her position, as Inger tried to line up another shot, the figure she was aiming at disappeared behind the cover of the walls.  Seeing that, and knowing the enemy now knew where she was, Inger decided to get the hell out of dodge too.  Dropping to the maze level, she made her way to the entrance Emkir and then Munarshu had used, leaving Terin the last of the team outside the maze in their deployment zone.  Terin, having reached the level with the body of Aiden in tow, now began moving to scan below the maze hoping to cover his team despite his wounds.

Drawing To The Closing Credits

     In the maze, Munarshu continued following in Emkir's path as the Admiral entered a set of cutbacks that went deeper into the maze.  There, Terin planned to use Aiden's body as a shield allowing him to cover the open space without being an easy target.  On the other side of the maze, Rol followed orders and dropped to the maze level after the exchange of fire.  Once there, he asked what Mikah wanted him to do in the maze and she ordered him to explore and hunt enemies.  Expecting his former position would be under observation if not fire, he shifted position and pushed to the top of the maze to peer over.

On the west-most side of the maze, Aali found what could be a cut-back eventually but looked like it moved toward the enemy for some distance.  Mikah was following her path at a distance behind her.  Looking below the maze, Terin saw no figures, enemy or friendly while Rol could only watch as Zimzod's "body" drifted across the space.  Ironically, from her position, Inger could also see the battledress-clad First Officer.  But soon, Inger found her path blocked in a maze dead end.

As Mikah caught up to Aali, they had to decide to go back or go over or under a wall.  Having a moment's regret she'd ordered Rol to cover below the maze, Mikah told Aali she was going to peek over the maze to see if the coast was clear.  Down the path from a different turn than that Mikah and Aali took, Rol also found himself with a choice.  He could follow the trail blazed by the ladies or hop a wall and work deeper into the maze.  After a moment's consideration, Rol decided he'd also hop the wall, unaware of the unintended "team exercise" he was about to join.

As Munarshu caught up with Emkir, the Admiral was as far west as he could move without backing from the cul-de-sac he was in and exploring north or south to the sides of the maze.  Emkir suggested he and Munarshu split up, with Munarshu backing up a bit and moving towards the south edge of the maze to flank the enemy.  Emkir planned to slip over the wall blocking him and move because the other team wouldn't expect someone to drive right down on them.

Inger had reached the cut backs Emkir and Munarshu had already moved through, and considered threading them or just going over or under a wall to advance.  Since there weren't any recent calls of fire or contact, Inger decided to take a peek over the wall before hopping to the next passage.  Terin was holding his position while scanning below the maze with his weapon.  As Inger peeked over the wall. she saw Munarshu moving over a wall himself. Figuring it was safe because he wasn't drawing fire, she followed.

Seeing no enemies in his scan, Terin hopped the wall and slowly moved into the maze and dragging Aiden's body with him.  Once stable and inside the first passage, Terin realized the moves he had planned would be very difficult. He had no skill in null-grav operations.  Add to that, he was juggling his weapon in one hand and dragging Aiden's body with the other. So Terin decided to use the pilot's body as a different kind of shield.

Terin started moving Aiden's body, positioning it to just peek over the top of the maze. He hoped the enemy wouldn't notice the lack of glowing lights marking the figure was "alive". Terin hoped Aiden's body would become a distraction or even draw fire.  As this was happening on the eastern side of the maze, Rol was moving to the east in a passage that advanced forty feet before appearing to turn or jink north.  Along the north edge of the maze, Mikah and Aali had ducked their blocking wall and found themselves in a passage proceeding thirty feet before turning or jinking right.  All three moved along their various corridors.

As Mikah led, this time, she tracked Rol's actions on her HUD and reminded him to call out if he saw anything.  As Rol ack'd the order, he moved forward, jinking to the left around a ten-foot wall.  Beyond it, he shifted back to the right before continuing towards the east side of the maze.  In front of him, the passage turned to the left and Rol realized he'd have to turn or slip over or under the wall before him to keep moving towards the enemy side.  As Rol moved, he couldn't know Emkir had been faced with three choice. he could take one of two paths forward or another to each side.

Since he planned to drive forward and surprise the enemy, Emkir mentally flipped a coin before proceeding.  Ironically, he selected and stepped into the passage just in time to be blocked from view as Mikah led Aali into the same space from what would have been Emkir's right.  And because Emkir missed that point of conflict, he was now moving directly for yet another encounter.  In the meantime, Terin had made his way from the edge of the maze forty feet in, to the same cut backs his team had gone through.

Munarshu passed through two portals in the maze, to find a long corridor leading to the south side of the maze.  Figuring this could be the beginning of a wide flanking maneuver, he moved to the south, while Inger saw him disappear to the south as she considered her options.  Realizing she'd been left on her own and was not a combat specialist, Inger looked back where Munarshu had come from.

Since he hadn't run into any fights, Inger figured there might be a spot back that direction where she could fortify herself until she could hear more information on what the enemy team was doing.  Moving along the northern walls of the maze as much as possible, Mikah saw what appeared to be a passage moving east if she jinked to the left.  But as she did, with Aali following, Mikah saw a dead end and turned back.  At that portal, she stopped to consider their options.

As Munarshu continued south, Inger eventually turned back towards where he'd been before he moved south.  Having pushed himself to the end of the corridor he was in, Terin first stabilized himself before peeking under the wall to see if the space was clear for him to make his way to the next corridor.

After Rol passed through the portal in front of him and chose to turn left and follow the next passage, he was suddenly confronted by Emkir. The Admiral suddenly appeared, coming around the far corner Rol was heading for!  Leading with his weapon, Rol was able to quickly adjust his aim and squeeze a burst as Emkir snapped his weapon around for a sudden surprise shot himself.  As Emkir's rounds knocked a virtual divot from a completely innocent and unsuspecting wall, Rol's fire went to center mass and the computer decided how gauss rifle fire would affect Emkir's health.

Knocked back by his own unbraced fire, Emkir flew back even as Rol fired and so the damage from Rol's gauss fire didn't do as much damage as it could have.  Despite that, the damage that was done and the sudden rapid meeting of Emkir's body and the wall which had been behind him had an effect.  As Rol watched his opponent, Emkir's armor was lit in a wide range of bright colors indicating injuries. But Emkir still held onto his weapon as Rol called out "Contact". Terin, now leader of his team, worked to make sense from the readings he was getting from Emkir's gear.

Comparing his HUD data with what he could see peeking below the wall, Terin could see nothing helpful in either going to help out, or avenging, Emkir.  Deciding there would still be two walls between himself and whatever clobbered Emkir.  Once he moved, Terin took the time to do his best to brace himself as he let the others know Emkir was down.

At the end of the passage he was in, Munarshu reached a dead end, and saw he'd have to hop a wall or turn back.  But since the enemy seemed to be behind him, Munarshu saw he'd have to turn back to where he team was or start hopping walls and risking exposure to get to where the action was.  Or a lost grip and went drifting.  Ironically, as he considered that, Terin called him and said he should return to help the others.  So Munarshu turned back.

Storming The Final Walls

     When she heard the call about Emkir, Inger decided to just hunker down and fortify until the remaining team decided to organize and do something like come up with a plan.  Unknowingly, Rol took a page from Terin's playbook and grabbed Emkir's body, after delivering a coup-de-grãce, and used it as a meat shield before moving into the passage the Admiral had come from.

As she and Aali moved, Mikah saw a point where they could quickly link up with Rol.  Opening a channel, Mikah directed Rol to meet them as he got himself in gear with his new accessory.  Once Rol got the map she sent and responded, Mikah realized they would reach the rally point sooner.  With the extra time, she had Aali slow down as the pair carefully peeked above and below the walls while moving.  Once they got to the rally point, Mikah checked above the wall again as Aali peeked below.

Ironically, Inger also knew where Emkir had bought it and realized that one wall separated her from the passage down which the Admiral had gone.  So rather than trying to take on whatever force was down that corridor, Inger decided fortification was the best option in order to be prepared when they came to her.

Terin called Munarshu as he started to move to the west end of the passage he was in. He also tried to get himself into a position where he'd be able to pop above the walls and fire if anyone reported another contact.  This was because Emkir being taken out proved the other team was moving into his and Inger's positions.  With them ready and Munarshu joining them, this should mean the other side was moving into a prepared position.  Unfortunately, it was not a position from which he or Inger could train their weapons in preparation.

Still, Terin did peek under the wall to see if there was anything he could see.  And found himself looking back at Aali!  As quick as he could, Terin brought up his weapon for a snap shot with his gauss rifle set to a four-round burst.  Due to issues with his simulated wound, Aali's cover, and other challenges, Terin's shot hit the wall in front of her...and below a very surprised Inger's position!

At the same time, Aali's response fire also hit the wall in front of Terin as he rose behind cover and Inger curled into a very tight ball.  As Terin called out "contact", Munarshu sped up as much as he could. Sadly, that was not much, given his lack of skill doing anything without gravity.  Below, Inger could see Aali continued firing at the Terin's former position before pulling back herself.

Surprised at first, Inger prepared herself for the next wave and readied her weapon for that assault.  At the same time, Rol linked up with the ladies as he took in the sight of Aali pulling up after her attack.  With Aali pulling back from the bottom of the wall and Mikah ready to go over the top, Rol moved quickly to take Aali's place and suddenly pushed Emkir's body under the wall!  Once the body was moving, Rol followed with his weapon positioned to target whatever was on the other side of the wall.

Seeing Rol moving for the attack, Mikah dove over the wall, ready to be the top of the pincer strike while Rol would be the bottom.  Together, they would clear the next passage before going after the target Aali had engaged.  On the other side of the wall, Inger saw a figure cutting under her and fired, almost automatically given her lack of combat experience.  It was only after that her mind could process two facts.

First, the lights on the figure's combat rig were off, so that person was sim-dead.  Second, she was suddenly accelerating away from her former target quickly, as it passed beyond her aim.  And as it passed, it was replaced by another figure whose lights were as active and leveling a weapon!  As this all happened, Emkir got to enjoy the "up front" view of being killed a second time as he flew past Inger helplessly obeying the inertia Rol had given his body.

To add the serendipity, Inger detected Mikah to her left as she rose, and realized the new figure would have both her and Mikah in their sights even as that person pulled the trigger.  And Rol had fired just as he realized two targets occupied his kill zone and one of those was Mikah!  But all shots were fired and none hit Inger.  Instead, Rol's fire hit Mikah, whose combat systems informed her she was "unconscious" and she continued drifting towards the eastern wall of that passage.

Inger she was able to take the hit without her armor being damaged as she hit the compartment's roof.  She did, however, loose the grip on her rifle as it flew free.  As this happened, Rol's computer automatically notified him that he was lead in his team because his former commander was out of the battle.  And as Inger looked down, she was treated to the crowning irony as she saw Terin's part in the comedy act.  He'd been preparing to move into the passage with Inger and had tried to move under the wall with his weapon ready. But he'd done so just in time to be hit face-on by Emkir's thrown body.

As a result of the collision, Terin was sent spinning and was just able to maintain hold of his weapon.  Accessing the situation, Rol comm'd Aali, making her aware of the "Inger Rising" and calling for backup.  Mikah's form bumped against the east wall of the passage and managed not to recoil into Rol's line of fire on Inger as Terin was spinning towards the east wall of the next passage over.  Realizing both he and Inger were likely unable to react in the moment, as he could see her, Terin called, "Gladys, Get down here!"

Rol twisted and tried to line up a shot on Inger that did not include Mikah in the burst and managed to shoot the roof.  At the same time, Inger made a desperate attempt to leap after her rifle.  Due to her lack of skill, Inger mis-braced herself and the result was that she entered a tumble along the ceiling and towards the arena's north-east corner.  Because she was near the low edge of the wall and up against it, Aali did not see Inger rising so she came under the wall to join Rol and asked for direction.  But it was too late, as Inger had already left their visual range.

As she spun, Inger saw she had no chance of even trying to gain control of herself until she hit something solid enough to allow her to add force to her inertia.  With the arena corner nearing, she knew she could either try to find some feature to grapple with or somehow push off the wall in a way that would send her in a direction she could control.  Perhaps towards a wall she could grab onto.  One thing was certain, she had no clue what had happened to her rifle.

Not aware what the enemy were doing on the other side of the wall, Terin did manage to get himself stable as he came up against the eastern wall. Then, he did his best to position himself to cross to the top of the western wall in his passage.  This would involve crossing straight across and then moving up the wall, where he would have something to hold on to.  Knowing he was tightening up the range significantly, as he sprang, Terin slung his rifle and drew his snub pistol before grabbing and trying to anchor himself on the wall.

With Aali there to cover and no target, Rol grabbed his combat medkit and moved to treat Mikah.  As he did that, Inger hit a wall near the corner and tried to push off to get herself angled toward a wall she could grab onto.  After that effort, she had to rotate her body before she could see if she was headed where she intended.  Having heard some of the comms traffic as he moved, Munarshu was continuing to move to where Terin had told him to be.  Aware there was active combat going on, Munarshu made his best way through the maze, not rising above or dropping below because that would make him an easy target.  Regardless, he hoped to be combat effective after the next few seconds.

Anyone's Game Until The End

     After hitting Mikah with a sim-combat medical shot, Rol confirmed the doctor was waking up before trying to explain to Aali where Inger went and under what conditions.  They agreed that popping over the maze would make them a target, but it would let them find Inger, assuming she was still out of control.  Eventually, he decided the best tactic would be to rise "back to back" so the one who locked eyes on Inger could take her out.  That decided, they executed the mission with Aali taking the south facing and Rol taking the north.

Terin got to the far wall and peeked below the maze, but no one was below the level of the maze so he came up empty.  He then started climbing the wall, which shadowed him from seeing Rol and Aali.  As he approached Terin's requested position, Munarshu could see the rising couple.  Reacting quickly, Munarshu brought his weapon up to take a shot as Aali saw him.

Rol saw Inger as he heard Aali say, "Shit".  Because he saw nothing threatening, including Inger, who'd just pushed off from a wall, Rol concentrated on his part of the mission and let "shit" be Aali's problem.  He did know they still had not accounted for either Terin or Munarshu.  Rol's shot dealt Inger a wound serious enough that the computer decided she would be completely out of any actions without serious medical attention.  Meanwhile, Munarshu's fire ripped into Aali's armor, but didn't even penetrate enough to knock her out as she let out a cry of alarm.

As the current unit commander, Rol's HUD showed him the details that told him someone he couldn't see had hit Aali and hit her hard!  Munarshu sparked his comms and announced, "Engaging!  They're going up!" which only Terin could still act on.  But he was rising to the upper edge of the wall so he could hope to be effective.  At the same time, Mikah woke to find she was, at least, no longer in command of her unit and did not know the situation or state of her people.

Satisfied with his situation, Munarshu took a tick or two to aim and fire again after setting his fire selector to a ten-round burst.  Deciding to try for the "action hero shot of the day", Terin grabbed hold of the wall and jerked, flinging himself up so he could fire on the enemy.  He extended one arm up, to try and catch the ceiling he was not looking at while extending the hand with his snub pistol in front of him, trying to fire on an available target.  And he'd also set his pistol to automatic fire for that small added bit of flash.

Despite the issues presented by her simulated wounds, Aali worked to bring her weapon up and return fire against her attacker.  Rol responded by hitting his thrusters to match an educated guess and executed a 'turn in space' that had even Munarshu thinking, Damn! That looked good the way he did it!'  But Rol was well enough trained it should both look good and be effective.

Realizing Rol and Aali were drawing fire because they'd risen enough to be seen, Mikah decided to rise on an angle.  She hoped this would bring her into the fight on an unexpected flank, so she might get the first shot off once she saw an enemy.  Hitting her thrusters hard, Mikah set her fire selector to "ten shot".  As she rose, so did Terin!  As a result, everyone active in the maze was in a position to see and be seen by everyone else.  So it was a question of who would see the new combatants first?

As Munarshu fired, he concentrated on Aali because he'd already wounded her.  Unfortunately, her armor ate all the damage from his fire.  Aali's return fire ripped into Munarshu in a wave with Rol's fire, chopping Munarshu to meat before Mikah's fired joined the attack.  As his armor locked up and the lights went out, Munarshu could only say to himself, "If you're gonna die, Die Big!"  Terin came into the open and focused on Rol and Aali as a group shot, and let fly...missing both his targets thanks to his issues operating in zero-g.

Still, by some miracle Terin managed to catch himself at the ceiling and didn't pie into the surface.  But the bad news was that he was now visible to everyone!  And while Terin would have to prepare to push off the ceiling before he could get back to the protection of the maze, He was sure he was gonna draw fire first.  So Terin began his struggles as Mikah and Rol snapped to the new fire position. At the same time, Aali fought with her lack of skill and the suit's combat damage.  The end game came as Terin struggled to escape and Rol and Mikah opened up.

As the pulses from Mikah's laser carb burned into Terin's combat armor, the needles from Rol's gauss rifle stitched into the navigator and nearly finished him off.  And as the firing stopped, Aali found herself turning to fire at a drifting body with the barest flicker of life indicators.  And then the simulator ended the battle as the grav-plates gently lowered the crew to the deck as the maze walls disappeared.  Unlocked, Terin looked at Rol, Aali and Mikah and said, "I'd have had you if I didn't get hit by a flying Emkir."  This got a huge round of laughter from the others as they prepared to head for the showers.

Once done cleaning up and recovering from that round, the crew realized the regular media had joined the sports media in the waiting rooms.  They were an added obstacle to deal with along with those who wanted to ask the piss-poor performance of the crew as they waited for the room to reset.  So the crew mixed things up in additional battles, with more balanced teams. They even checked out the toys for sale, for the future.

In the venue store, they found they could buy a range of toys from virtual grenades to significant tech-toys.  They also talked about integrating their HUD's using the battle computer in Zimzod's battledress.  Zimzod pointed out they'd need his permission and digital access to his armor's data system.  And he made it clear he didn't trust all of them well enough for that.  After a number of additional battles, the crew cleaned up and ordered a taxi to head out for lunch before heading to the sports network to deal with the contracts.  As they hit the road, it was 11:45 am, they were in a cab and had yet to decide who was paying.

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Next: Plans, Risks and Opportunities