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."
"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--"
"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."