Today's Reading

I had left the house in time to make it to the start of the game, but public transportation had other plans for me. I spent the first half of the game in a tube, surrounded by increasingly agitated passengers.

'Where are you,' my mother had texted me, once the game had started.

'Stuck on the Metro,' I sent back. 'The train stopped fifteen minutes ago.'

'We're all looking at each other deciding who to eat first.'

'I think you're safe,' she replied.

'Don't be too sure,' I sent. 'I can see some of them sizing up my threep to part it out for battery power.'

'Well, if you survive, try to hurry up,' Mom texted. 'Your father is being swarmed by German businessmen and I'm being condescended to by PR flacks. I know you won't want to miss any of that.'

'I hear there's a game going on too,' I sent back.

'A what now?' she replied.

Eventually the train decided to move again, and ten minutes after that I was heading into the stadium, threading my way through other Metro stoppage victims, rushing to see the second half of the game. Some of them were in Boston Bays white and blue, others were wearing the Toronto Snowbirds purple and gray. The rest were wearing Washington Redhawks burgundy and gold, because this is Washington, D.C., and why wouldn't they.

"I can help you," a gate attendant said to me, waving me over. She had very little traffic because most of the attendees were already in the stadium. I flashed my ticket code onto my chest monitor and she scanned it.

"Skybox, very nice," she said. "You know where you're going?"

I nodded. "I've been here before."

The attendant was about to respond when there was a commotion behind us. I looked over and saw a small clot of protesters chanting and waving signs. HILKETA DISCRIMINATES, read one of the signs. LET US PLAY TOO, read another one. EVEN THE BASQUE DON'T LIKE HILKETA, read a third. The protesters were being shuffled off by stadium security, and they weren't happy about it.

"I don't even get that sign," she said to me, as they were being hustled away.

"Which one?"

"The Basque one." She pronounced the word "baskee."

"The other ones I get. All the Hilketa players are Hadens and these guys"—she waved at the protesters, none of whom were Hadens—"don't like that. But what does that other sign even mean?"

"The word 'Hilketa' comes from the Basque language," I said. "It means 'murder.' Some Basque people don't like that it's used. They think it makes them look bad."

"Why?"

"I don't know. I'm not Basque."

"Everyone's got a word for murder," the attendant said.

I nodded at that and looked back at the retreating protesters. Some of them saw me and started chanting more forcefully. Apparently they were under the impression that because I was a Haden, their grievances were my fault. A couple of them had glasses on and were looking at me in the fixed sort of way that indicated they were either storing an image of me or trying to call up my public information.

Well, this was a new threep and I didn't keep my information public when I wasn't working, so good luck, there, guys. I thanked the gate attendant and headed in.

The particular skybox I was going to was a large one, designed to fit a few dozen people, a buffet, and a full-service bar. It was basically a hotel conference room with a view of a sporting field.

I glanced around, looking for my parents. I found Dad first, and this was not entirely surprising. As a former NBA player, he towered above most other people in most rooms. And as Marcus Shane, one of the most famous humans in the world, he was generally thronged.

As he was here—two concentric rings of admirers arrayed themselves around him, holding drinks and looking up at him raptly as he related some story or another. Dad's natural habitat, in other words.

He waved when he saw me but didn't wave for me to come over. I knew what that meant. He was working. A few of the people who were thronging him glanced over to see who he had waved at, but seeing only an anonymous threep, they turned their attention back to Dad. That was fine by me.

"Oh, good. Here, take this," someone said, and shoved a glass at me.

I looked up and saw a middle-aged suit. "Pardon me?" I said.

"I'm done with this," he said, waggling the glass.

"Okay. Congratulations."

The man peered at my threep. "You're catering, yes?"
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