Log Title: Stocking The Shelves
Summary: Winter and Violet conversate over the dregs the day before the main event at the Panama Rose.
IC Date: 2381-02-04
OOC Date: 2019-02-04
Related Logs: None
violetwinter

 

 

I really need to remember to ask more thorough questions before taking jobs for power players in Licktown.

It wasn't every day you got to triage the dead. No, scratch that. This was Bay City. This was probably an every day occurrence. At least if you were a doctor with talent and mildly questionable morals. The upside to Licktown, is you could get almost everything you needed dirtcheap. The downside, is that you usually ended up worse off than when you went looking. Whether it was from bad augmentations, questionable neurachem, or just plain old bad luck, the truths of life was these. On the Ground, people died.

The second truth was this. The dead were still useful. They could be harvested, collected, and then, if they were questionably lucky, repurposed.

The Panama Rose never lacked for the need for fighters. Some were skilled, prized animals in the stables. Others were simply cannon fodder, thrown to the wolves to wet the appetites of the masses. Such was the fate of the undearly departed souls that were being laid out on the floor of an unnamed and unremarked warehouse. Bodies collected, no questions asked and brought back for evaluation and possible upgrading from street level trash to contenders.

"I want them laid out from the most organic damage to the least." Violet would handle examining the bodies for enhancements herself. She turned away from where the work was being done, heading back to pick up the tablet she was using to relay information between her implant and the main work station.

-

Death is more complicated, these days, when the consciousness lives on after the heart stops beating. But, it's also more profitable. Harvest the bodies for enhancements that can be repurposed. Harvest the stacks for amenable DHFs that might consider a new life as fighter (or fodder) for the Panama Rose. Winter's job is that second bit, and they're crouched by the chair that's been made available, a panel on the side removed so that hardware can be inspected and assessed. One finger is tapping slowly on their knee as they consider what they're seeing as well as their options.

-

Violet left the nameless men to do their work, moving to the end of the line, the bodies with the most organic damage. She took a knee, setting down the basket, a sticker that read: 'Thank you for Shopping at Q-Mart!' pasted onto the side as some sort of tasteless joke, pulling out a scalpel from the tools inside, before she set to work cutting out the stack from the body, a slim, once delicate woman, now withered down to flesh and bones, the stack making a sad, lifeless click of sound as it hit the ones that had already been collected there. She didn't bother trying to do the least amount of damage she could, before she moved on to the next. The sleeve was useless, not worth the cost to try to rehab it.

-

There's a considerable amount of ambient noise what with people working and talking, but somehow the *clink* of one stack plopping down atop another catches Winter's attention and they pause in their considerations to look over at Violet as she harvests. "If you can keep track of which stack came from which body, it will make my job considerably easier."

-

Violet looked over as Winter worked. It took a moment for her shift her expression, as though she had been asked to consider something she didn't often have to. "Sure, I can band them." Given how covered they were in gore, stickers were useless. Violet did settle onto the floor between the litter of bodies, seemingly completely oblivious to them, as she pulled a bag of rubber bands from her kit. Still full, so they were not often used, "Apologies. I'm used to doing both sides of this job, and I track them by the pattern of the casing." Stacks generally looked similar from a distance, but each was organically grown, and they had their own unique pattern. She set aside the scalpel, beginning the process of tagging each of the stacks with the location the bodies were on the floor. Each location was linked to a image and description of the sleeve it came from, which she sent to the tablet at Winter's workstation.

-

"I didn't see them pulled, so I can't do that," Winter points out with a faint smile. "You usually remove the stacks *and* perform psychosurgery?" they ask. They tap the tablet resting on their knees, noting the images and data as it transfers. "Thanks."

-

"Usually." Violet worked quickly, tagging the small handful in the basket, before she kneeled up, and moved to the next body. This one, she took more care with. Not because the body was particularly valuable, but because it has visible tech that might be useful after it was refurbished. "But the event coming up is on a larger scale than the last few runs. And that means we may run out of the good fighters before people are finished parting with their money. And that, I think, is the only sort of sin Carnage believes in." So..more available fodder would allow the good bouts to be more widely spaced.

-

"Hmm," is Winter's opinion of all that. "How much time do we have before the event? Even at increased time interval, this isn't a speedy process." They glance back at the open panel before gently beginning to unscrew a component and remove it.

-

Now that she had a new system in place, one that she was now assured would meet the psychosurgeon's requirements, Violet picked up the pace, falling into the motions of it as one who had spent decades enough at a task that thinking about it was not strictly required, "Twenty-four hours to event start. I think if we have at least half a dozen ready by then, we'll have enough to tide us over. I have a feeling they'll be running most of the prize fighters in at least two sleeves. So that's one less DHF to worry about." Multiple rounds, same freight, usually vastly different sleeves.

-

Winter's brows lift upwards and their mouth opens a little in obvious surprise. "They want six DHFs ready for resleeving in *twenty-four hours*, as well as willing to fight immediately after experiencing a violent sleeve death? Are they out of their minds?"

-

"Quite possibly." That might have been meant to be a joke, except that it wasn't. "I think it depends on whether or not they expect the DHF to win the fight, or just warm up the crowd." Violet did offer a smile, though it was a faint one, "We're lucky that we already have three ready to go." She waves a hand in the general direction of the bodies laid out on the floor, "Most of these are just for harvest before the bodies decompose. They'll end up in storage until someone can work out the kinks. Most of these though? If you told them if they fought a good fight they might earn enough credits to feed themselves more than one meal, they'd do it. The only people more desperate than the people in the 'Fabs' are the people down here."

-

"So, they're not interested in rehabilitation so much as a stop-gap combined with bribery," Winter replies. They let a soft breath out before reaching into their knapsack to pull out a component which replaces the one they just removed from the chair. "Then I'm going to need drugs."

-

"This is a fightdrome. I don't think that rehabilitation is in the common vocabulary here. Money is. And the more bodies you throw into the ring, the more money you make." Anyone looking for a better life shouldn't expect it at the Panama Rose. "If this isn't what you signed up for, no one's going to twist your arm to make you stay. People with your level of skill are hard to come by."

-

"I don't back out of a job once I've taken it," Winter replies, "though I really need to remember to ask more thorough questions before taking jobs for power players in Licktown." A corner of their mouth twitches upwards in a wry smile. "And you? You're a physician, are you not? You're not bothered by tarnishing the oath you took?"

-

Violet pauses a moment, hunkered down over the body of a man who looked as though he was barely old enough to pay for entry into one of the brothels that peppered the streets of Licktown, "My advice, when dealing with Carnage? Assume he has absolutely no morals or compunctions at all. And then imagine he's half again as bad as that." The question seemed to make her thoughtful, as she leaned forward, resting her forearms on her knees, "Not particularly. It's all in how you spin things. And C-TAC taught me a lot of spin. Folks like these?" She waved a hand in the direction of her basket, "They're functionally dead. Sure, their DHF is intact, but any hopes they had to have a fruitful life, right now? Is gone, if it ever was. This is at least an opportunity to make a little for themselves, and maybe, if they're lucky, they get a chance to get out. Else? They'd likely either spend the rest of eternity in cold storage in the PD vaults, or they'd find themselves traded offworld, to be resleeved into cannon fodder, throw into whatever war's being fought that week, an endless loop of rinse and repeat, with no hope for escape."

-

"So, you maintain the status quo of their oppression because it's the best kindness they can hope for within the system," Winter surmises. "That's a lot of spin, all right. But I suppose, in C-TAC, there were a lot of things that had to be justified after the fact." They replace the panel and lean up to switch the chair on. "Have you ever been sent off world?"

-

"There's only one set of people who manage to escape the system, and most of them would never deign to step down from the clouds. The best that I can hope for, is to keep people fighting, keep them alive, and do the best I can to help them help themselves. Sometimes I get lucky, and I might treat a patient who turns their back on a place like this and I never see them again. Most of them? All I can do is keep them treading water." Violet turned away, moving to finish up with the last of the current bodies, her voice pitched as she called out to the men lazing around, "Get the bodies on ice. I'll work on removing the augments later." The question received a nod, "More times than I care to remember. Probably been to most of the known worlds at least twice." She removed the last of the stacks, before she picked up her shopping basket and headed towards the station where they'd be cleaned before she handed them over to Winter, "Sixty years is a long time to learn how to spin anything until you can live with it."

-

"Not willingly," Winter agrees for those who have escaped the system being inclined to step down from the clouds or from power. There's a small nod as Violet says she's been to other worlds. "What did you think of them? The places a little further from their reach? What made you leave C-TAC?"

-

Violet set down the basket, sliding into the chair at the station to start cleaning the stacks, setting therm into the water bath before she began working one at a time. "Most of them aren't that different from Bay City. Most of them are dirty, run down, seedy, despondent. At least, those were where we normally ended up. Revolutions rarely happen on the bright side of life. I started out as a combat medic, prepping the squads for insertion, getting them through an operation, getting them out again. Once the attrition got too high, they started training us to fix their minds and not just their bodies. We had the experience, you see? We'd seen what they saw. They could relate to us." As for why, she simply lifted her shoulders in a shrug, "I just got tired, I suppose. Saw too much, too often. And it was always the same. We sent out perfect soldiers and we got back broken toys."

-

"I think that's been true for every war of every age," Winter opines. Content with the way the chair is thrumming, they download the program they intend to run for performing psychosurgery. Even in the future, downloads still take time, especially when it's an entire VR scenario. So, they leave the chair to it and walk over to join Violet in cleaning the stacks. "And, there's never been an empire as big as this one."

-

"You're probably right. I think it's easier to be okay with that when you're not wading through it." Violet, despite the words, did not sound particularly despondent. But then, synths did tend towards a certain lack of emotion. Either that, or she'd simply learned the trick of turning that part of herself off, "And it's only going to get larger, of that I have no doubt." She made room for Winter to work, moving so that she was working on one side of the table rather than in the middle. "What made you want to work all the way down here?"

-

Winter considers as they pick up a stack and get to (gently) scrubbing. "Altruism, maybe. The idea of helping those that don't have other recourse. I've worked for big money, before. I wanted to try something else. My office is in the Neon District, so I have a fairly broad collection of clientele. It's not all stacks ripped out of the recent dead."

-

Violet's lips curled into a smile, though she managed to stop the laugh from escaping, "I have a small shop set up in Licktown, try to help who I can. But most of those can't pay, so…I take the work I can get that does." A slight dip of her head as if to indicate this was it. "Places like this…they need people like you who don't mind getting on their level."

-

"They need," Winter agrees flatly, "but for their own ends, not to help these poor sorts." They lift the stack they're currently washing clean of gore before dunking it back into the disinfecting solution. "If this is a means to make ends meet, I can understand that. 'Necessary evil' and whatnot. But I don't think either of us can really con ourselves that this job benefits anyone but Carnage." Winter quirks another one of those small, wry smiles. "Well, maybe *you* can," they tease. "You've had considerable practice."

-

Violet returned the smile, and there was only wry humour there, and perhaps…acceptance, "Being a synth doesn't just steal your ability to smell and taste. I've been in bodies like this so long, maybe I've forgotten what it is to be human, and that's why it's so much easier for me to be pragmatic than someone more…human. "Though…this place? There are a few who have managed to make a name for themselves and a fairly decent living. It's rare, true. But it happens."

-

"I would wager it's the ones that choose to enter into this life, rather than the ones who find themselves picked between being fodder or long-term storage," Winter muses. "Is it so different being a synth? I understand sensations are muted but… I suppose I didn't imagine that extended to emotions. Are you certain that's the root cause?"

-

"Centuries ago, gladiators, many of whom were slaves, who did not choose to be in the arena found themselves rising to the greatest heights, and even winning their freedom along with the adoration of the masses. Most of us don't have the power to choose where we begin, but we can choose how we live our lives." Viole switched from one stack to the next, as she considered the question, "I haven't been in a flesh body since I was twenty years old. I'm nearing on eighty-six now. I remember what it was like to be human, I know it isn't what I feel like now. How…immediate the world felt, how real and present. I think I did feel that way in the beginning, but not anymore."

-

"Sure," Winter agrees for gladiators who defied all odds, "One out of thousands. We don't have stories about the rest, fallen and forgotten." The cleaned stack is set carefully aside and the next one picked up and scrubbed. "Do you prefer how you feel now to how you felt in a human body? Was it your choice to remain a synth?"

-

Violet lifted the stack she was working on, "There are thousands more like this one. We don't know their stories either. All we do is try to make this one's story count." She gave the question serious consideration, "I'm used to how this body feels. I know what it's capable of, I know what I can make it do if I have to. They tried to put me back into my birthsleeve when I retired, I chose to get a new synth." Surprisingly, she seems a bit tight-lipped in that regard.

-

Winter just gives a small nod. They don't even look especially surprised. Maybe they have a good poker face, or maybe being a psychosurgeon just makes atypical life choices less surprising. "Is that what we're doing?" They ask, setting aside the second stack and reaching for a third. "And here I thought we were manipulating the hopeless dead into resleeving for a few days in the hopes of beating all odds by agreeing to participate in a fight they're statistically very unlikely to win. For one night only! Live! Live!"

-

"Carnage isn't a fool. He watched all of the fighters closely, even these. If they show promise, he keeps them around. If they don't, he disposes of them. Sometimes, a few manage to slip through the fingers of his men. Usually though, he knows better than to RD any stack. Even if the stack's worthless to him, someone else can get use out of it." Violet set aside the stack she was working on, reaching for the last in the water bath, "It's a process." As most things in Licktown were. A long con.

-

"And the ones that don't show promise and don't slip though any fingers?" Winter asks, setting aside the third stack they washed and reaching for a towel to wipe their hands.

-

"Life has made a pragmatist of me, Winter." Violet was nearly done with her own. And by the time Winter was finished washing their hands, she turned the water on her own. "I save who I can. The ones I can't? Perhaps someone else can. And if not…maybe they're the lucky ones, that have finally escaped their digital prison."

-

"How very poetic," Winter replies, passing the towel over once their hands are dry. "As for these six, shall we upload them and see what damage has been done and what they're willing to do? I think the majority of us are quite attached to our digital prisons, for good or for ill."

-

Violet accepted the towel, drying her hands before she cleaned the area. "I'll load up the other chair." She paused for a moment, before she spoke again, "Some more attached than others." Another pause, "It's been good to work with someone again. A lot of things I don't miss about the corps. That wasn't one of them."