! Sozont #19: Boiling Anger

19.  Boiling Anger

One day, Sozont received a terse email from Be-A-Wulf, addressed to all members of the Σ project.  It announced that Springer the Leopard had left the team and his duties had been transfered to OursSuisse, whom Sozont had worked well with before.  This should have been good news: Sozont had outlasted Springer!  But it was strangely unsettling.  Sozont felt like there was unfinished business between him and Springer, which now could never be finished.
     Sozont noticed that his paw seemed to be grasping at thin air.  When he thought about what imaginary object was in his paw, it turned out to be Springer's neck.  Sozont felt ill and lay down for a nap.  He awoke with a pain in his toes.  His dreams had been very confused, but he remembered one isolated scene of the fur being torn from Springer's backside.  There was a disturbance in the bedding where Sozont's talons had attacked in his sleep.
     This was one of those rare times when Sozont actually did not want to be a tigrihippostrich.  He exited from Fairytale Land
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and lay down on his mattress.  But his thoughts were bizarre and his hands kept curling into fists.  He needed a distraction, new furiends, something.  He got dressed and went to the Furry Club.

     At the club, Sozont put on his name-tag and circulated around the tables, looking at tags to find somefur whom he had met in VR.  Unfortunately, the first familiar tag he found said "Springer the Leopard", attached to a short pudgy fellow.  As his legs walked themselves to that table, Sozont told himself, "Don't make a scene!" but in his mind was the thought that RL fistfights were considered a police matter and could not result in banning.
     —"Hello, Springer!"  Sozont thought his own voice sounded surprisingly chipper.
     —"Hello, um..." Springer's eyes focused on Sozont's nametag, then his irises narrowed and his voice flattened.  "... Sozont."
     —"So, you wanna fight *now*?"
     —"WTF?  I left the project, man, what else do you want from me?"
     Sozont thought.  "You owe me more submissiveness.  I opened my heart to you—now I'm stuck with a touch-image of your disgusting interaction modality."
     Springer gave him a confused look.  "Can't you just restore your character from backup?"  It seemed the leopard-fur knew very little about the part of the world he had sought to control.
     —"It doesn't work like that.  Much of the touch-image effect is piggybacked onto hindbrain neurons in the hy00man player's brain.  There's no REWIND function over there."
     Springer raised both hands, palms up.  "I was just playing my game.  I'm sorry you got offended."
     Sozont suddenly felt better, although Springer really hadn't said much.  "I think we should continue not working together on projects, at least for awhile."
     —"Agreed."

     Sozont restarted his nametag scan of the tables.  He noticed two woman walking towards the club exit.  The larger one was staring at him.  There was something familiar about the way she moved.  He went over to investigate.  Her nametag read "Martha Stewart".
     —M: "Hello, Sozont."
     —S: "Hi, Marth!  So, we finally meet in RL!"  Yep, gland problems for sure, but hopefully a little off-plan medical treatment could get her womb working.
     —R: "Oh?  You two have met in VR?"  The other woman's tag was "Red Bunny".
     —M: "Yes, we've had a few, er, run-ins."  What game was Marth playing?  Well, Sozont would try to play along.
     —S: "Like the time we were both chasing the same vole?"
     —R: "How did that work out?"
     —M: "I ate it."
     They had reached the club's outside door.  Sozont flashed a smile at Marth.  "It was nice meeting you!"
     Marth smiled back, very briefly but seemingly at very high wattage.  "Yeah."  The two women left the club.

     Sozont went to the bar and got a drink.  He noticed that his armpits were very wet.  Apparently he had been spewing pheromones at Springer and Marth.  He wondered what his scent had said, and what scent-replies he had gotten, but the human vomeronasal organ is nearly vestigial and there was just no way to answer those questions.  Yet it seemed Sozont's Inner Animal was very happy with the scent-replies.  He nursed his drink and thought a little about why he had suddenly felt better when talking to Springer, although the leopard-fur had really not said anything conciliatory.  He thought a lot about Marth and how she moved and the emails she had sent and what the relationship between her and Red Bunny seemed to be.
     Sozont finished his drink and considered ordering another, but he decided it was silly to be spending money at the Furry Club if he wasn't even talking to anyone.  He went back to his apartment, suited up,
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and went to sleep in his bedding.

Next episode:    Trying New Things    [Intrusive RL politics]
Prev. episode: Simmering Anger [Gobs of backstory]
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-- Pyesetz the Dog