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What, was "Rudy" on cable last night?

. . . Yes.

Eliot Spencer vdistinctive
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A secondary simulation within the matrix, Saturday
It'd been a massacre.

There'd been casualties on both sides, of course, but Eliot had been right about the number of guns in the camp. The moment everyone had stopped panicking and started fighting back, the Sioux had been slaughtered. The local paper had another announcement this morning from outside this particular sim -- something full of threats for causing too much trouble -- but Eliot couldn't focus on it. He was too busy standing watch over the mass grave effort to bury the Sioux dead.

"I'm afraid I don't know your particular death traditions," he said softly as a motley assortment of miners and prospectors dragged the bodies to the pit. "I never had the pleasure of meeting a member of your tribe in respectable circumstances. But I've observed your passing. And I will remember you."

It was hard to remember that this was all a fucking computer program when it was so goddamn detailed.

"You wanna take a dirt-nap with 'em, Sheriff," a voice said. "That can be fucking arranged."

"Swearengen." Eliot didn't look up from the pit in front of him. "Now ain't the fucking time."

"Then when is the fucking time, you goddamn race traitor? When is the proper fucking time to bring up the way you brought this whole fucking situation down on yourself?"

Eliot opened his mouth to reply when two of the bodies caught his eye. A blonde woman in a striped dress with a feather in her hair. A thin black man in a ragged, piecemeal cavalry uniform.


Swearengen's men surrounded Eliot as he snapped. He dropped the first two in seconds, a simple elbow to the first one's throat, the second one smashed headfirst into a tree. A third managed to get an arm around Eliot's shoulders. Eliot grabbed onto it and used it to throw the man into a fourth and pitch both of them down into the pit.

In no more than two minutes, Swearengen and Eliot were alone in the field outside of camp, surrounded on all sides by bodies. Eliot couldn't tell which, if any, were still alive. He didn't much care. Swearengen had his gun drawn, aimed at Eliot's head. Eliot was too far for an immediate disarmament, but he grinned anyway.

"Don't you get it you cocksucker?" Swearengen said. "This is all for you. This entire fucking camp was built to keep you in your goddamn place. We took you in. Gave you a livelihood. We made you fucking sheriff and gave you an enemy to fight. Why can't you just accept a fucking gift when it's given to you?"

Eliot's eyes widened.

The way out was through disruption, right? He'd gotten that memo, at least. For Fandom, the disruption was fighting, but here fighting was the damn order of fucking business. He wasn't going to punch his way out of this one.

He smiled slowly and stalked his way towards Swearengen. Swearengen tightened his grip on his gun.

"Do it," Eliot said.

"You think I fucking won't?"

"I think you're all fucking swagger, Swearengen. I think you're so full of horseshit it's what turned your eyes fucking brown. I think you're real good at ordering your fucking hitmen about, but you're a lily-livered, pox-ridden, cocksucking coward and you know it."

"I will end you right fucking now, Spencer."

"Yeah." Eliot pressed his forehead again the barrel of Swearengen's gun and closed his eyes. "I'm fucking counting on it."

And the secondary simulation ended with a BANG!

[establishy. More cursing. Lots of simulated carnage. Eliot's finally found a way back out of the wild west!]

After two days of frantic searching, interspersed only with pauses to cause yet more mayhem around the sim, Hardison had finally found Eliot. Parker was still impossible to spot (some things remained true over years and versions of reality), but Eliot was causing enough mayhem of his own to make his bit of code stand out.

"Got you, baby," he said, fingers flying over the keys. The screen in front of him shimmered, shifting from lines of falling code into the images from the sim itself. "You hang on just one more minute there, papa bear, I'mma get you out. Bring yo stupid ass back home where it's supposed to be, not gallivantin' all around the damn--a cowboy Eliot? Seriously? I ain't even all that surprised. Just a few more seconds an'--"

In the sim, the bandy-legged guy with the mustache aimed his gun. Eliot sauntered over--Hardison didn't have audio on, couldn't hear what they were saying, but he knew that strut, that set of Eliot's shoulders. Knew the cocky quirk of his lips. He was baiting the other man. Daring him to pull the trigger.

"What? No, man! Eliot Byron Spencer, you stop this shit at once, you hear me?!" Hardison knew what he was planning, figured it would probably even work--he'd be ejected from that sim, at least. But wherever he'd go next, there wasn't a guarantee it'd be here. "Don't be stupid--thirty more seconds an' I got, you, Eliot! I got you!" He didn't want to watch Eliot die. Even in a sim. "Your Hardison will always--"

Bang. The screen turned black as the sim imploded.