Friday, November 25, 2016

0900 SVT (+11 S7T)

Previous chapter
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Tern never bet on her own book. That was a core rule to her success. But sometimes, one had to make an exception. She chuckled to herself, this was definitely worth making an expection for.

With her scant savings, she bought the largest trailer she could afford, bribed a few friends to help her wrestle it into the maze of pre-existing trailers, and connect it up to the facilities. The computer she built from scraps came with her from the move from Nanna, piecemealing upgrades from junkyards and garbaged sets, and the exterior monitor on loan from a friend.

She opened her book, offering one-to-one odds for herself against the mob bookie, which in her mind, was a generaous offering, and all bids on her she took as donations toward her business expenses. He opened his own bid agast her, with far worse odds.

And then she waited.

BadkamMuur, the ad-hoc social network for the moons, carried the challenge, advertising the going odds, but not on her book. It didn't matter.

Her BKM profile was trashed and hacked, and her parents were dug up and doxxed. It didn't matter.

Her competitor released scathing reports of his incoming take, and still, it didn't matter.

Piecemeal, she made up for it. Tern took every bet asked of her, and the exterior monitor ran live updates of every standing bid. Elections on Three. Null-grav amateur sports in Seven's La Grange points. The completion calendar of Puff and Piff. Celebrity divorces. If it was happening somewhere, it was in her book.

The algorithm meting out the wins was her own invention. It allowed sharks and budget spenders to play the same book, the same odds, the same bets, and shelled out appropriately sized payments to all, even though the odds didn't always match the face offer. She fielded the complaints, reminding bidders that she paid out full, instead of skimming off the top, bottom, or side. That was one thing the mob bookie couldn't say. She was also in the thick of the fray, rather than hiding out in an office bunker somewhere.

Her trailer was defaced, the monitor cracked, and two days later, her self-appointed groupies and guardian angels found themselves escorted out of the halls. Vidar fell silent for one long moment, the trailer park holding its breath for what came next.

It was a knock on her door.

Tern opened it, and found herself staring out at her potential sponsor. "How can I help you, Mr Sylvanus?"

"We need to talk."

"Do we now?" She peeked around him and saw a nigh platoon of security holding back gapers and groupies, a wall of suits in each direction.

"May I come in?"

"You may. None of your lackeys." She proppelled herself backward and geastured an invitation. "How can I help you, Mr Sylvanus," she repeated in the same intonation.

"I would like to place a bid."

"Existing, or new?"

"New. Five to one against you, for my bookie."

"I'm sorry, Mr Sylvanus, but that wager is already running on my book, at one-to-one odds. You can either join that wager, or pick another subject."

"You don't seem to understand."

"Don't I?"

"The degree of money I come to offer far outweighs what little pittiance your friends could pool together in their whole lives. It would be unfair to them to bid in the same wager."

"I'm sorry to disappoint you, Mr Sylvanus, but it seems we cannot do business. I hope you have a good day."

He snarled, and snatched at her wrist. "Don't do this Ms Mevit. You don't know what you're getting into, do you understand that? He's going to break you. Take the money, buy yourself some real protection, or better yet, get off-moon."

"First of all," she whispered in a dnagerous voice, "I don't borrow against my own book. I don't skim, and I don't cheat." Louder, she continued, "Secondly, you're grossly underestimating me; and thirdly," she twisted her body roughly, snatching back her hand and delivering a sub-concussive blow with her heel, "I knew what I was getting into when I started this. Also, you're on camera. See, there's only one reason why your bookie pal has to excalate. If he were winning, he'd be gloating, not squirrelling away his winnings and resorting to violence.

"There's one bet that I don't have published, that isn't public knowledge. It's a private book, and only my closest friends have access to. Would you like to know what it is, John?"

"Don't call me John."

"Closest friends John. Not to business partners, not to people who threaten me, not to bullies or strangers in the halls. And I call my friends by their first name. What will it be?"

"Fine. What is the wager, Tern?" His lips twisted in a snide grin.

She tapped a code into the keyboard behind her, scarcely looking at the combination as she did so. The interior display changed to a calendar. "How long until I win, John?"

"You seem to think it's inevitable that you come out on top."

"Would you be here in such a civil capacity if I weren't?"

He nodded the touch. "Point. How long?"

"I gave it two weeks."

His face stalled out, as if he had too much control to actually let his jaw drop. "That's--"

"Tomorrow."

"What happened to six months? Or three months?"

"Never let them see you shake, or see your hand. I bid high, knowing you would bid low. You just didn't go as low as I feared. And I was ready. More ready than anybody gave me credit for." Her computer beeped, and she checked the time. "The book has closed for the day. It reopens in eight hours. I'm afraid I must insist you go, Mr Sylvanus, as I expect tomorrow will be a very busy day for the both of us." She extended her hand.

"I imagine it will, Ms Mevit. Good day."

"And to you."


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Next chapter

Monday, November 14, 2016

0800 SVT (+11 S7T)

Previous chapter
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There was a tap on her door, and she toggled control over to her local betting book screen, the only display that was duplicated, with one inside and one outside her trailer.

She eased herself over to the door, and slid it open, admitted a face she didn't know. "What's your poison?"

"What's the book for the Prime Minister election on Three?"

"Which one?"

He paused, ignorant of the fact that there were four of them currently running, and another half-dozen in the coming months. "Uhh... the one with Joh Aldams."

"Oh. Sure, just a moment." Tern turned her head to face the display, though it was currently upside-down in relation to her body's orientation, and scrolled through the list. "Two to three for Joh, one to six for Sil, and one to six for Mal. No minimums. What's your bid?"

"Can I get two hundred on Mal?"

"Two hundred down on Mal pays out twelve hundred if he wins. You sure?"

He swallowed heavily, his adams apple sticking out like a sore thumb, and hesitated a moment before nodding.

"Put your thumbprint on the sensor." She gestured to the fingerprint detector hanging beside the door jam. A quick keystroke as he did verified his funds and transferred the appropriate amount to her holding account. "Payout next week. Good luck."

"Thanks."

She shut the door and went back to work.

"Do you have an appointment?" The stern personal assistant gave her a harsh glare.

"I... uh, no. I don't." Tern tried not to shrink back into the floor. Her last and final class had been about standing up to those things that intimidated you, and was one of the few curricula she actually completed.

"Mr. Sylvanus is very busy. If you don't have an appointment, you don't get to see him."

She gritted her teeth and clenched her arms behind her back, willing them not to shake. "Tell him Tern Mevit is here to see him. And has a business proposition for him. Something he very much needs in his organization."

"And what, you're the only person who can give him what he needs?"

"Yes."

The p.a. didn't even bother to stifle her laugh, but waved Tern over to some very uncomfortable-looking chairs and picked up the phone on her desk.

"Sir? Yes, I have a Tern Mevit here to see you. No, no appointment. Business proposition. No, she wouldn't say. But... yes sir." The woman scowled and set the phone down. "You have five minutes. Starting now."

Tern bolted up from her edge-of-the-seat perch and bolted for the doors, only just catching herself and her breath before striding through them.

The big man turned his chair slowly around as she entered his office, lined with dark wood and darker leather, a stark contrast to the cold efficiency of the anteroom.

"Mr. Sylvanus, I don't know if you remember me, but we met once, about fourteen years ago. You helped a little girl who got lost in a mall on Nanna find her mother."

"Four minutes."

"I'm here because you have a problem. You have a bookie who is guilty of cooking his books. He may pay a tithe to you, but I believe that, one, he is cheating you out of money, and two, he is scaring away business in the manner he conducts it. I believe I can do a better job, net your more profit, and bring more business in to your organization, all without paying a tithe."

"One minute."

Tern took a deep breath, trying not to let herself be rushed. 'I believe I can do a better job, if you allow me the opportunity to do the work in your territory without being harassed by your agents for a trial period."

"Times up. Get out."

Tern glanced at her watch. "I'm sorry sir, but your timepiece appears to be incorrect. It's only been two minutes." She stood her ground and waited.

John broke into a grin. "Very good, Ms Mevit. Very good. Of course I remember you. And I don't doubt you've done your homework on me since that day. What do you think of me now that you know who and what I am?" Ge stood and walked around his desk, sitting casually against it.

"As long as you are still the sort of man who saves little girls who get seperated from their mothers in malls, I think no less of you for the rest of it."

"But would you take the word of a man who says he does without sufficient evidence to know that word is good?"

"I don't have to. You did the same thing just last month, on your regularly scheduled trip to Nanna."

John stared at her, and Tern got the impression he was trying not to look surprised.

"Yes, I arranged that." She stepped forward to a few feet shy of him, despite his foreboding presence. "You are still the same man who helped me fourteen years ago. But now, I'm not the one who needs help. You're losing money, and I'm in a position to help rectify one of the problem areas." She glanced at her watch. "That's five minutes."

On cue, his phone rang, and John leaned back and picked it up. "Yes, thank you. Have them wait outside." He set the phone back down. "What do you want?"

"Six months."

"One month."

"Three." She stuck out her hand.

John smiled. "Three months. No harassment from my agents. No tithe. If you bring in more money to my organization, you stay, get all his business, and he's gone. If you lose..." he tilted his head thoughtfully to the side, "If you lose, you work for him until such a time as he can use your business model, and then leave Vidar."

"Done."

She smiled to herself. The memory one of the more pleasant ones. Obviously she had succeeded, and quickly than anyone had anticipated too, because she knew she could have done it in far less time than she asked for, knowing Sylvanus would bargain it down and, despite the agreement, have his bookie run her hard.

She turned over to her monitors, and went back to digging through Sisyphus' business dealing, hoping for some insight on their recent stock spike.

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