2237-12-04 - Ready Player One

Tove and Cate run into each other at the exchange arcade.

Date: 2237-12-04

Location: The Exchange - Arcade

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 1601

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You know what the exchange is good for? Food. Also clothes. Also toothpaste, and the holy grail. Energy drinks. Also, apparently, shooting the shit out of moving targets. Except not really. Unless you're a non-combatant, or a nurse relegated to a non-combat post. Then, you take all the rage in your little heart out on whatever the most viable target might be. Case in point, Tove Lind, who's button mashing for the gods, left hand on the joystick of an old style arcade game, right index finger taptaptapping that button A as quickly as she can. All while yelling mild obscenities...and a few not so mild...and standing on a step stool she seems to have 'borrowed' from the exchange when they weren't looking.

Cate had come into the exchange to pick up a bag of sundries, but now is on her way out. The string of obscenities pulls her attention that way, and her brow furrows. She wanders over, watching for a moment, and observes. "Wow, you take your games seriously."

Tove gives no immediate response, though the tilt of her head would indicate that she did hear herself being addressed, though her hands only get more frantic, and her cursing louder. The red numbers on the screen would be the clear indication why, as whatever portion of time her tokens had bought her seems to be running down. Once the buzzer goes off and the 'Game Over' screen comes back on, showing the score...not a High Score, alas, Tove straightens, which, really means even with the stool, she's still looking up towards Cate, "I feel it helps to get me into the fighting spirit." A tip of her chin towards the bag, "Milk run?"

"Hey, whatever works. Looks like you're pretty good at that," Cate observes, eyeing the score. She hefts the bag when Tove asks about it. "Snacks mostly. New book to read. How've you been?"

"Thanks. Had the better part of a year to work on it. Never had much interest until Marx got me into them. Now I take it as a point of pride whenever I manage to beat him. Doesn't happen often, so I try to sneak some training in while he's not looking." A grin, at the list of the bag's contents. "Yeah. that's what my Mom called them. Not going to the store for anything you really needed, just a few things you pick up to fill in the corners. And I'm good. Tired, but things have been a bit restless lately." She tips her head towards the game, "You play?"

"Ah, yeah, I can see that. Not quite full-on grocery shopping. Though it's been a long time since I've had to do that," Cate observes with a somber little smirk. The question about the video games has her lifting her shoulders slightly. "Yeah, sometimes. Not as good as that though." She brushes her hair back out of her face, a mildly awkward gesture, and admits, "Never could beat Jake though." With the hair pushed away, the still-healing bruise and a cut held together with a few butterfly strips becomes visible.

"Trust me, you've got far more experience than I. I think the last time I did, I was still in puberty living in my parent's attic." All that button mashing comes at a cost though, as Tove glances down to her hands, clenching and releasing her fingers, working out the cramps. "Honestly, I think it's all blind luck. Every time I try to think about the game or figure out the mechanics, I tank myself. So now, I just pound the button and yank on the joystick as randomly as I can and it seems to work. It only works on some games though, Like those one on one fighter games? I have to just trial and error until I find one I can randomly hit the special moves on." She hops down from the stool, reaching down to pull it back, "Give it a go. Sort of sad to see them out here, all by their lonesome."

Cate tilts her head curiously at Tove. "Last time you did what? Played arcade games?" She chuckles softly. "But yeah, with some of those it really comes down to button mashing. Unless you've got a gazillion hours and a bucket full of cubits to spend trying everything. I never had either. But okay. Suppose I can give it a try. Haven't played this one in ages." She sets her bag down on the ground by the game and steps up to the controls.

Tove laughs, as she pushes the stool out of Cate's way with her foot, settling it against the side of the game's case. Close enough to be pulled out again at need, but not so that anyone coming out of the exchange is going to run the risk of tripping on it. "No, actually did a full grocery run. I went right from my parent's house to the dorms at college to the military. Between meal plans and all you can eat buffets, not to mention free room and board, I haven't had to think about more than the basics for years." She settles in at a comfortable angle, close enough to watch play without risking injury if Cate ends up being as vigorous a player as she herself is. A few more of those fist and release movements, before her hands settle, and she pulls her tags out of her shirt. A quick release of the clasp allows her to slip the ring that had been held for safekeeping there off the chain and back onto her finger, before the tags are tucked back into her shirt, her hands into her pockets as she watches play.

"Wow, really?" Cate's eyebrows shoot up at the idea of so long without actually going grocery shopping. "Then yeah - I think I've got a little edge there. I used to pick things up for my grandparents even before I moved out on my own. So. Yeah." She slips a cubit into the slot to start the game and says, "Though there's something to be said for not having to shop or cook for your own food. I guess that's one nice thing about the military." Cate is nowhere near as enthusiastic of a player as Tove, but she's clearly played the game before. "So were you in the freezone military, or...?" If Tove mentioned it before, Cate's obviously forgotten. The glance over to see the answer coincides with Tove slipping the ring on. There's a brief furrow of Cate's brow but then she's quickly refocusing her eyes on the screen.

"Yeah, I mean, I just didn't have the time, and it was easier to just have the meal plan. It cost less than trying to get out to the store and trying to replace food because your dormmates don't understand the concept of personal property. And as soon as I graduated, I went right to the military. Three squares, or as well as that ever goes in these sorts of situations." A shake of her head, at the question, the answer given, though her eyes remain focused on Cate's gameplay. Always a chance to learn something, "Leonis protectorate. I went from nursing school right to Oran province, spent my full tours there, first during the civil war and then after the cylons. Went from there straight to the CF."

It's doubtful that Tove learns much from Cate's gameplay. True to her word, it's not something she's particularly good at. And she's a little distracted. She nods absently to Tove's story. "Yeah I couldn't really afford the meal plan in college, so I muddled through on a lot of instant dinners and reheated noodles." Her lips thin at the mention of Oran. "Well, at least the tours there prepared you for the shit here." She doesn't dwell there, but instead shifts the topic. "You been married before? I know a lot of the married guys like to wear their rings on their dogtags. Less likely to get frakked up in the field."

"Well, I wouldn't have expected you to. The cost of medical school alone must have stripped you down to the bone. And trying to eat on top of that? S'why I never managed to make it that far. Spend a couple three years saving, but I just couldn't make the money work, so I settled on nursing, and that made it possible to stretch my funds a little further. And I haven't had cause to regret it yet, so I suppose it worked out for the best." A tilt of her head, as she considers, "Working in war conditions, or handling people killing other people?" Oran was, sadly, a lot of that. A moment's pause, as she tilts her head back upright, "I'm married now. Guess I'm still getting used to the thing. It kept cutting into my finger while I was playing."

"Yeah. I mean, it started in college but med school was even worse," Cate says off-hand, managing to eek by to level two of the game. "Working in war conditions, I meant. Or just generally being in the middle of a frakked up mess." The latter comment seems to confuse Cate. She slants Tove a look, brow furrowed. "Wait. You're married now? But I thought..."

"It's funny, being from Sag, you'd think I'd have cause to hate Leonis, but...from what I've seen of the rest of the planet, and most of the colonies, including Virgon, I haven't had much cause to hate being under their control. It's not ideal, the separatists will attest to that, but I was lucky I had even the opportunities that I did. Lot of people on Sag don't. Lot of people in a lot of places don't. As for working conditions, I suppose both fit now. And more's the pity us." The confused look Cate offers her gets a shake of Tove's head, "That I was dating Marx? I was. Last mission he came back from? He asked me while he was waiting for them to bring him into surgery to pull the bullet out of his gut."

Cate nods slightly to the explanation about Sag. "Yeah, there's always something worse out there." Cate had let her eyes drift back to the game, so she's not looking at Tove when she hears her explanation about Marx. The fingers tapping on the keys freeze still for several seconds, long enough for her character to get killed on screen. The loss doesn't seem to faze Cate. Her expression has gone strangely blank. The game loads up her last 'life' and resumes, and Cate restarts her half-hearted button mashing. There's a stretch of silence before she swallows hard and says, strained but polite. "Oh. Well. Congratulations."

"Used to be that way. Now, I think we're seeing that maybe we brought some of the worst with us. It's not just the cylons we're fighting out there. Some of the worst battles we're fighting are amongst ourselves, within ourselves. We're struggling just to survive. But sometimes...it isn't enough just to survive. You need to find something to live for." Tove's attention shifts, from the game console to the still hands, to the portion of Cate's face she can see in profile. Her own tone hasn't changed, still calm, still cordial, now that the minor excitement of the game has long since faded, nor her stance, still settled on her feet, hands in pocket. "Thank you."

Cate doesn't last long on her last life in the game, her concentration shattered. As the 'Game Over' animation plays, she steps back and gestures up with her hands. "Told you I wasn't very good." Cate's had a lot of practice keeping her composure, holding her emotions in. It's a survival skill for a combat medic, and even moreso for someone in her family's line of work. Still, some things can fray even the most steely nerves, and an astute observer can see the tension in Cate's posture. "I should get going," she says, still with that strained politeness. "Take care." She dips down to pick up her bag.

"Just takes practice. And good hand eye coordination. One takes time, the other can be learned." Tove isn't standing in Cate's way, as the game ends, and she bends down to retrieve her bag, but she steps back out of politeness regardless. Her own expression remains unchanged. Either she really is as calm as she seems, or she's learned a few tricks of her own about maintaining her game face, "You too, Cate."

A little nod acknowledges Tove's view on the video games, and the Cate is heading out of the exchange, back into the cold.


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