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We Got Machines

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He’s unassuming, a tiny pixie with a mop of light brown hair and obnoxious sunglasses obscuring half his face. The first time he steps into the griefer’s cage, his opponent and most of the crowd break into raucous laughter. Who does this kid think he is?

No one’s laughing by the time the match is over.

The loser’s Mausbot lies in ruins in the arena. Even his control panel is smoking, the damage to his bot enough to short circuit the lot of it. Unheard of in a novice-ranked fight. The newcomer stands at his panel, hands shoved deep into the pockets of his huge jacket and eyes inscrutable behind his dark glasses while the crowd is shocked into silence.

That’s where G3rard’s steady ascent to power begins.

There are questions on the lips of everyone with eyes or money on the arena. Who is this kid? Where’d he come from? Who trained him? BLind’s got no records on him, meaning he’s a Zonebrat returning to the grasp of the city of his own volition. Another anomaly. That a 16 year old nobody could waltz in out of nowhere and turn the system on its head is concerning to BLind.

However, he’s not the first youngster to fall victim to the trappings of fame, nor will he be the last. He accepts the booze, sex, and drugs from those trying to make their own ascent on the back of his, but he never lets them close.

A year later, the circles beneath his eyes are more pronounced and he’s still wearing that gritty jacket and those same fucking shades. He’s not undefeated, but his record’s a lot stronger than most by the time he hits top class. Luck of the draw pits him up against Deadmau5, the best known fighter, undefeated champion, and, if G3rard’s being honest with himself, his idol.

G3rard might have acquired his fair share of fans and groupies, but he’s got nothing on Deadmau5. As the current figurehead of a veritable dynasty of griefers, with the first incarnation of Deadmau5 having founded the arenas, the running champion’s got more to go on.

Maybe G3rard’s even a little starstruck, or maybe he’s just not prepared for the intensity of the new rank, but he ends up losing. Not badly, though that might be through Deadmau5’s appreciation of the craftsmanship of his bot more than anything else.

Still, Deadmau5 is impressed. G3rard used some moves he’d recognized from his own style and previous Mau5’s as well, but with his quick mind and ingenuity managed to change them in such a way that Deadmau5 was kept on his toes. He hadn’t had that much fun in a while.

So, slightly star struck as he still was, having just faced his childhood idol, G3rard doesn’t think twice when, as they’re shaking hands post-match, Deadmau5 smiles and tells him there’s an afterparty in one of the gleaming buildings overlooking the arenas. And when, halfway through the party, he presses G3rard into a darkened corner and grinds against his ass, whispering “Winner rights...” into his ear, G3rard lets himself be dragged into a room down the hall and pushed to his knees.

Later, after he’s been on his back and bent over the bed, after Deadmau5 returns to the party, G3rard lies in the dark and thinks. He’ll win their next match, he knows. Then he’ll have winner’s rights and Deadmau5 won’t dare back down.