Augustus slapped on his SimGlass and blinked into his personna. His armor of black scutes grew around him and his mind flickered as parts of his brain remapped to control his expanding draconic wings. His mind focused again and his glaive appeared in his hands, his pride after months of work. He brandished it and the blade gleamed in the false sun’s light.
Before him, Robert Grey’s body was dissolving into the long and winding form of a giant anaconda, with wings. Everyone gave their personna wings, because… why not? The huge form of a snake lurched at him, and he swung his glaive around in a sweeping arc to give his opponent pause. Augustus let his mind relax and began to imagine he was cold and itchy, cold and itchy, and in that rhythm his wings began to flap. He gained altitude and and looked down at the other reptilian avatar.
The snake coiled and then jumped into the air, flapping awkwardly as its long body poised to snap. The additional dimensions of movement gave the snake a slight advantage, but Augustus had faith in his weaponcraft and training.
Grey lurched at him again and he planted the tip of the glaive in between the snake’s head and vaulted over it, catching the artificial air molecules with his wings as he glided past. While he was flapping his wings to turn around he felt a resisting tug on his left ankle and looking down he realized the snake’s tail had coiled around him. He quickly brought the blade of the glaive to strike at it, but slash as he might the blade wouldn’t pierce the creature’s skin.
The snake gave a strong tug and Augustus’s orientation was disrupted, he began to fall. In that moment he had an idea, and he grabbed the snake’s tail and tucked his wings back. He was now a ball of falling mass with a snake coiled around him, and he made them both fall. The snake’s greatests efforts were insufficient to hold up their combined mass. So they fell, and fell, and though the snake had long ago uncoiled his leg, he maintained his grip.
Grey’s fangs came again and again at Augustus, but he kicked and blocked and avoided being pierced. Just before they were about to hit the ground Augustus released the snake and spread out his cold wings to try to glide. The snake was just as quick to react and whirled with the newfound freedom to bite Augustus abdomen. The pain reached his threshold and his display whited out.
His mind clicked out of his personna’s mapping and he felt like a human again, his vision returned to the real world, and he saw Grey’s hand extended in front of him. Somehow he had fallen, he grudgingly took the hand and allowed his opponent to help him up.
“You should let your sister fight your battles for you Gus, you’re better behind the terminal crunching numbers.”
He brushed off the seat of his pants and shrugged.
“Maybe so. I thought I could beat you, but I guess that’s the folly of many before me as well.”
Grey’s lips curled into a grin, he turned and walked out with the customer who handed him a signed contract. The replay of their combat was still repeating on the monitors in the demo room. Various SimGlass headsets adorned the black and white plastic heads with spec sheets on their placards.
The challenge came about as a matter of pride, he hadn’t expected the customer to make their decision right away. Grey insulted him. He called him “old-fashioned.” That was a sure-fire way to grate on Augustus’s nerves. And he called him, “Gus”. No one called him “Gus.”
A saleswoman came over and asked him if he was okay. He shook out of his daze and nodded, then he looked at the woman. She wore the orange and white shirt with the SimGlass logo repeating in stripes down the sides. She wore glasses modeled after the latest SimGlass headset model. Glasses had only become a popular vision aid again since the rise of SimGlass, but mostly only teens and kids in their early twenties wore them. Augustus’s generation preferred contacts.
She was cute, maybe South Asian with straight black hair tied up in a knot. Probably half his age. He was feeling that a lot these days. His sister’s looks always deceived him though. It used to be looking at her was like looking in the mirror, only she let her hair grow out and she had tits. Now though, he was aging and she wasn’t, and that grated on him. Seeing this cute saleswoman in front of him grated him too. She probably felt sorry for him. She was certainly watching the battle. He ventured to ask.
“What’d you think?” He gestured toward the monitor.
“Well, I think you lost the advantage as soon as you took to the air, his combat form was better too.” She smiled helplessly before adding, “You looked cooler though.”
Augustus sighed. “Thanks.”