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1 From ruins to riches

I suppose I should have focused more on who she was and what she looked like, but I was too busy trying to guess what the catch is to worry about such niceties. Frankly, had it been a trick or a trap, it would be so far from the first time that I wouldn't have wasted energy being angry, let alone plotting revenge. Thus it happened that I don't recall her name.

If you didn't grow up in the ruins as I had, you might not understand. Just as I never really understood what a dog-eh-dog world meant, other than "life is hard: trust no one!"

And that lesson I learned well. Virtually everyone I met was trying to get ahead by stepping on others. If I let them, they would step on me too. So I didn't. Mostly.

But being an opportunist: I was at least willing to be someone's entertainment, as long as it helped me in the process.

And so it was without fanfare that I found myself pulled out of the ruins on Tau Station, and running around doing various "stupid tasks" for my new friend, without caring much about her except that she was willing to give me credits and other things to help me out.

Frankly, the fact that she wouldn't explain too much of her motives convinced me that the "wealthy backer" was complete fiction. I still suspect it might be, considering I've yet to hear of any sort of demand for repayment, but you never know when that might come ...

I don't even recall all the tasks she had me do that day, but I do know that I got a bit of a tour of Tau Station, and that I've not had to go back to the ruins to scrounge up empty bottles and other odds and ends just to survive.

I still go back time to time, sure, but not out of desperation.

You see: I'm now rich. For now. More money than I even know what to do with.

While she was telling me to go here and there, do this and that, I didn't waste all my time and effort on her little games: I went back to my reliable source of income: the ruins, and after a bit of searching, I hit pay dirt.

OK, more dirt than pay, but I came out with a piece of copper wire, a beer bottle, and a capacitor. More on those later.

Well it turned out that my new friend was willing to give me 20 credits if I got some injection at the University. The injections would improve me in some way, but also cost 20. I did the math: 0+20-20=0. I wouldn't gain anything, but I wouldn't lose anything. I was willing to risk having the injection if I got to pick which one. And I did.

I went for engineering. Just the basics at first, but it was amazing! In short order, I don't even remember how long now, I started seeing things in a new way. I simply understood how things worked. I decided to go back and try another: Basic Combat. Seemed like something I could use when I was sent back to the ruins after the games were over.

Only I couldn't. They wanted another 20, and she wasn't paying this time. I looked at what I had and it wasn't worth much more than 1 combined, and I already knew the shop keepers don't pay what stuff is worth. So I left.

Later on though, she had me go to the Employment office and sign up. The port had seemed interesting, so I went with Technologist. Seemed to fit with my new Engineering insights. More importantly: they promised to pay me both for work done, and also a salary.

A trip to the Government Center was one of the best tasks of the day! They gave me food and water! I didn't even have to pay for it! They just gave it to me. I wasn't going to be tricked, so I carefully opened it and smelled it. Smelled the water also.

The food smelled better than anything I'd smelled in the ruins. Best part of all was: I didn't have to kill it. Whatever it was, it was already dead, but wasn't rotting. Yet anyway.

The water lacked the smell of oil and other stuff that is always in the puddles in the ruins.

So I made sure that they couldn't take this stuff back: I ate it. And was just lowering the empty water bottle I chased the food down with when she turned around, still explaining to me how to properly eat the food to help me with my recovery after working out at the Gym and such. I was already feeling recovered...

And then came the particles. I tried them out, and it was like eating that food all over again, only better. I even felt more focused, and just knew what I needed to do: I went back to the Bank and tried to withdraw the bonds they told me I had in my account.

The only reason security wasn't called is that I was still new to the "outside world" at that point, but I think if it happened today: things would be a bit different.

Long story short: I was still able to buy another set of VIP from one of the guys at the market. The shop keeper knew I was from the ruins, and wasn't of much help until I told him the Bank had just promised me that they would transfer the bonds.

Those seemed to be the magic words. After that, he went from completely uncooperative to highly skeptical. When he saw the sale actually processed without a hitch, he seemed almost as amazed as I felt.

At this point you might suspect that I immediately opened the crate and used the next injection like a junkie. I was too smart for that! I did 1 better: I found a junkie.

I managed to locate a wealthy junkie who was clamoring for his next fix. I knew he was desperate, so I sold him something. Might have been the copper wire. Then I sold him something else. Then something else. Each time the junkie was paying way over the value of the items. He was willing to pay as much as I could afford to list these things for because: I had what he wanted, his next particles fix.

Finally, when I had nothing left to sell him, I went to the port and shipped the particles off to the junkie. After that, I did 2 things: I went to the market, and I bought the best gear I could, and I went to the University, and got my next injection. Then I went to the bank and gave them the rest of the money.

At this point, if they want to keep all the money in the bank: I don't really care. I'm getting by better than ever. I can afford to stay in the Inn, and I've got the tools and skills to keep it that way.


  1. Was the junkie Moritz? : )