The Shoppening

A BuyMort story

By: Damien Hanson and Joseph Phelps

Chapter 1

I am Rayna Tork, Credit Level 86 Smart Shopper and Head Manager over Tribe BlueCleave, Level 4 Commercial Contractor. And today I was victorious.

Scrapwings screeched and cawed, flapping overhead in arcs. The gray scavenger birds swooped, tearing choice pieces of meat from the corpses of the hobgobs we’d killed, taking them off and away to the rocky misty crags that they called home. Which was fine by me. It was low grade medical waste which wouldn’t sell for much anyways, and I hardly expected them to affect our bottom-line. I rustled in my blue plasma-resistant vest as I walked, my name badge bouncing off of my chest, swinging and twisting in the front of me from the cord around my neck. It was my namesake. 

It said Tribe BlueCleave. Underneath it said, LVL 4 BuyMort Affiliate. And a review rating of 4.7 stars, I added mentally, pride surging through me. Someday soon I was going to get the level 5 referral, and I would bring them to even greater heights of glory.

My clan and I picked our way through the field of gunpowder burns and laser streaks, picking through the corpses of our hobgob kin. They’d put up a fight, I gave them that. Must have traded outside of the system because they were some of the unbelievers. Ironic that they’d tried to resist BuyMort, yet used their products and services at the end. They should have shopped smart from the beginning. BuyMort is life.

I bent down over the bloodied and headless corpse of a well-muscled hobgob. His stub of a neck still roiled with blood, mixing it into the dirt in puddles. The rest of him was prime, though. Good for sales.

“Cor’Bin, go find the head from this one. Buyer wants a trophy.”

“He wants a head?” the hobgob asked. He stood in sharp contrast to the dead hob on the ground, being doughy instead of muscled and consistently afflicted by a scowl. His face wasn’t exactly handsome to start, and the way he constantly scowled anytime I told him to do something grated on me. I felt  like slapping him and just telling him to do it but, as my cousin and my blood, he needed to understand why.

“Listen. For some of the trades such a thing adds prestige and can earn faster level referrals. You still have to pay for the level up, but without a referral it costs ten times as much, and few can afford to purchase it.” 

I bent over the hob and stripped him down, peeling off farmer’s tweed, homespun cotton and, what was this, patent leather steel-toed boots from BuyMort. I spat in the dirt. Hypocrite. He deserved this death.

The dry and burnt long grass crunched, Sales Manager Cor’Bin walking the hob’s head back from the gutter it had rolled to. He’d been a handsome guy, our target. Long stringy black hair, warts over both cheeks, and a trimmed goatee hanging from his chin. He was going to make a great trophy.

“So why’n we need ta kill them alls?” Cor’Bin asked. He brought one long dirty finger up to his snarl-toothed mouth to dig some lost fragment of food from its recesses. “They sed they didn’t wanna fight us.”

“They also said they wouldn’t sign over their MortBlock. Cor’Bin, you’ve got to pay attention. One day you might be a Head Manager, so you really have to keep up.”

I rolled through my BuyMort mind icon, selecting my affiliated storefront and adding new items to the catalog. Overalls, boots, long underwear, it’d all be cleaned and sold for a good price before the night was over. I chose the option to pick up and moments later a sleek black affiliated VIP transport pod tore through the fabric of reality and was at my feet.

Generic Clothing category, Overall, boots, long soiled underwear. Rarity, common. Quality, good. To Be Sorted and Sold Peer-to-Peer, BuyMort Affiliate.

ITEMS CATALOGUED AND CONFIRMED. THANKS FOR SHOPPING WITH BUYMORT!

Behind me the same scene was playing over all of the corpses as sales associates of Tribe BlueCleave stripped and inventoried the dead. And when all of the items were gone, the bodies were sold direct to BuyMort for a small handful of Morties. 

Purchase: Biological remains. Type: Headless Corpse. Rarity, uncommon. Quality, good. 41 Morties dispensed.

Just enough to make the action worth taking, I thought with a sigh.

When the bodies were bundled away and the cash from the bodies paid to the tribal account, I went ahead and opened up the BuyMort Block Investment App and cracked open the land claim option. A small icon whirred in my head, then a cluster of menus appeared, blinding me to the reality about me. I chose the temphold option, acquisitions, entered my affiliation tag, agreed to a standard 20% (30% – 10% due to my Smart Shopper Discount perk) BuyMort commission on my sale, chose a crowd disbursement management option, and agreed to the standard clause that this territory was a temporary block and that it would revert to neutral land after a period of a month, unless sold off to another party or otherwise enfranchised as a permahold. It warmed me to know that our one god, the last true god, was so open and apparent in its dealings. Such gestures showed that it cared.

Temporary Land Acquisition: Sector A4, B7, Coordinates 45.1805° N, 89.6835° W, 400 square kilometers. This temporary acquisition is meant for transfer to another party and will expire 30 days from purchase. Do you accept? Y/N

Oh, yes, great BuyMort. We are servants to your cause. I accepted. Before me, the rest of the tribe stood at attention, waiting for me to make my move. It was like this every time, a ritual from BuyMort as told to us through the holy manual of “Welcome to the BuyMort Family – Tricks of the Affiliated Storefront”.

My head swayed, my eyes riding over their grey-tan faces. Ali Mac, my other associate manager, stifled a giggle, and I arched an eyebrow. 

“Give me a B!” I yelled, hard, through the treetops and to the heavenly palace in which BuyMort surely resided. 

“B!” they yelled. All were smiling now, the dead blood of the corpses flaking and peeling as their hands came together to form the letter. 

“Give me an L!” 

“L!” they shouted, almost dancing in their excitement.

The holy book of BuyMort asserts that a blessing shall be upon the affiliates who run a happy team of associates. I, the head manager by birth and blood, must lead this ritual through example, my greatest sales managers flanking my sides to accentuate the command aura. At the end of a successful work conquest, we give thanks by spelling out the name of our affiliated storefront. Then, upon the holy conclusion, we bellow the full name to the sky. “What does that spell?” I ask and they scream it to the sky. 

“BlueCleave! BlueCleave”

But holy BuyMort suggests that we do not be arrogant. At the end of the chant we remind ourselves of our humility and subservience to the great above. The tone goes colder, almost a whisper. 

“Who is the best?” I ask. 

The battle associates fall to their knees, their voices high and pleading. “The customer!” they cry. 

And then it is done. I select the BuyMort app from its place in my mind, and minutes later the multidimensional rifts have opened. Sleek black pods descend, cracking open and depositing their contents. In moments we are surrounded by troughs of magnificent food, a customized campfire placed in the middle of the clearing already lit and crackling beautifully in the cool summer night air. All charged to the Affiliate Account, of course.

“Eat and be merry, my friends! All praise be to BuyMort!”

Welcome, friend, to the wonderful story of BuyMort. This is my tale, the story of a humble BlueCleave Head Manager, and with your induction into the tribe you too can live the life of a BuyMort Affiliated Storefront Associate! Our world was once a wild and tribal place. Farmers and serfs eked out a living by scratching furrows into the soil and growing seeds to fruit, which we then ate like animals. Hunters roamed the woods, and prairies with rifles and bows, killing animals to burn their flesh and serve upon plates and platters at their homes with their children. People traveled miles to trade discs of metal for anything they couldn’t or wouldn’t make at home. They were troubled and primitive times.

Thankfully, those times are no more. At least not for most of us. One day, a century past, there was a battle in the heavens. Flames of many colors, streaking through the sky. Blasts of sound and the crackle of shaking air. The gods had finally begun the end times, the war to decide who was the greatest of them all. My ancestors quaked and trembled for it had been foretold that the battle would end in a broken and dead world.

But it didn’t. The fires of the sky finished and at the end of the heavenly war, only the god BuyMort still stood. His minions and avatars blasted down from the flames of battle and they swarmed through the world, buying all that was offered, trading and bartering for things they found rare value in. Things became scarce. War became inevitable. My tribe became a BuyMort affiliate.

Wait what?

You see, not all accepted BuyMort. They fought the beings from heaven, tore up the contracts of land and game that they proffered. They were fools. Did they not understand that the hand of BuyMort raised us all? Never before had the BlueCleave been so clean and insulated. Never before had food come with so little effort.

All you needed were Morties, the metaversal absolutely secure digital currency whose records of transaction were written across the stars, and luxury was at your fingertips. BuyMort was good to us in its blessings.

So when someone opened up a storefront called BuyMortMercMart, my grandfather enrolled the entire tribe. And we were so good at clearing people out of their land and freeing it for possession by our contractors that we set up our own storefront. BlueCleave Acquisition and Mortgage, Rifles for Hire. I came up with that last part myself in the BuyMort ritual of rebranding. We were well rewarded.

I let go of my reverie and called up a BuyMort quick transport plan. Moments later the silvery shine of our solar-powered, up-armored APC battle transports appeared. I entered the largest, my personal managerial office, and climbed into the warm silk comforts of bed. Tomorrow was time to settle accounts and outstanding debts, and days like that could be bloody. A good night’s sleep was crucial for the aggressive negotiations to come.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Chapter 2

My alarm blared the next day, its ringtone the scream of a Gharagian Blood Vulture dying in battle with a triumphant warrior. My grandfather, by all accounts. It was a time of valor, he always said, and he kept the record to remember his roots. It seemed silly to me, the time before BuyMort was one of such barbarism and pain. Why remember it at all? But I kept the sound because it reminded me of both him and how far we had come since the victory of BuyMort over all the others.

I stretched, wallowing in the deep pit of my weight upon such wonderful softness. “Bed setting, awake, maximum firmness,” I commanded, making the bed stiffen up and eliminating the plush of before. It was a setting that I could have set to the same time as the alarm, but often I liked to wallow in the comfort of pure cloudlike heaven, pushed down five feet into the softest materials in the multiverse, BuyMort-guaranteed. 

“Computer, how are our buyers coming here today?” I asked while the bed rose and hardened into something akin to cold steel. These deals were a thing that occasionally changed at the last minute, and when it did I didn’t like to be caught off guard. Too often a change in means of transit meant a double deal on the horizon.

“Searching. Sending system prompt now.”

I got off of my bricked bed and swung right into the tiny cubicle of my bathroom. BuyMort-supplied-and-stocked, it contained greases, oils, shampoos and fragrances from all over infinity. And today was a day to look clean, professional and deadly. I stepped into the shower and started to lather up, then allowed the prompt to open.

Lazarkhian Buyer: Name: Jos Haana. Mode of transit: Fleet based locomotion detected. Transit search completed, 149 Morties have been deducted from your account. Thank you for using MortSort, the guaranteed people tracker!

He’d said he was coming by portal. And he’d promised to come with just two guards and a BuyMort Priestess. I growled and dismissed the message, reaching for some Locke of Nolan. The grey-tinted body cleanser really put on the reek, a scent so pungent that it stung the eyes and was even corrosive to some slime-based life forms. It was a good battle agent, giving advantage to those like myself and my soldiers who had acclimated themselves to its effect.

As usual, contemplating the product brought up a small ad in the left corner of my vision.

Locke of Nolan – Battle damage to slime-based life forms. Powerful irritant to wet-tissue in unacclimated humanoid mammalian individuals. 25 Morties, 4.9 stars

“Computer, wake the sales associates and warn them that we might have trouble incoming. Alert level Bravo. Gear up, soap up, and hit the mart for some anti-ship restock. I have a feeling we’re going to need to take out a star cruiser or two.”

“Orders Confirmed. Message sent.”

I followed the Locke with a battle conditioner, hardening my skin against small arms fire.

Blackwater Braise – Harden living organic skin against attacks. Sweet, and tart, this product also makes for a wonderful barbecue sauce. 37 Morties, 4.6 stars

Jos, if he dared break our agreement, was going to taste sweet and tart over the victory fires. His crew as well.

I got out of the shower and donned my lightweight plas-chain underclothes, then entered the clunky spiked managerial battle armor that I reserved for expected high-profile battle meetings. My battle badge adhered to the chest of it, my name and position flaming with energy and visible from up to ten kilometers distant. This particular item also flared a personal deflector shield over my body, set to a secret frequency that only I knew, a frequency that allowed me to fire my laser rifle through it while not permitting outside blasts to enter. It was a powerful item, a very expensive one, and though it wasn’t a BuyMort MultiPhasic Multi-Frequency Empress Deluxe (35,000,000 Morties), it would certainly do for what was ahead.

Armed, armored, and satisfied, I opened the door to the outside and clanked out to the scraps of last night’s festivities. The fire pits were still smoking, but the trays and buffet lines had been taken away, small divots in the dirt the only sign that they’d been there at all. Around the property other APC doors dropped open and their occupants clanked out to the forefront. There was a sense of duty and purpose over all of it, and I couldn’t be prouder of my entire team. They moved into formation, two wings each headed by a sales manager, all facing ahead and awaiting my approach. I silently asked my suit for an injection of InspiraSpeech (Liquid Charisma guaranteed to enliven your employees before any big event. 70 Morties, 4.7 stars) before striding before them.

“Loud harmonics engaged,” I commanded my helmet AI. “Threat level Bravo, people. It looks like the customer wants to do a grab and run, take the merchandise and not pay us for it. BlueCleave Acquisition and Mortgage, Rifles for Hire honors the customer, but we do not honor thieves. I want Team Alpha to hit the shelving. Entrenched AntiShip beams and missiles scattered at two-kilometer intervals, strategic repositioning left open to senior associates. Also, spare an individual for any APC with anti-ship capabilities. It will be good to have mobile repositioning at my beck and call.”

Cor’Bin raised his hand. He always raised his gauntleted hand, cartoonishly large with its PowerFist (Shield and melee multiplier in times of close combat. 25,000 Morties, 4.9 stars). I sighed and ignored him. He always raised his hand, and he had brought a melee item to a literal ship fight. I was going to have to reprimand him later. 

“Team Bravo, you’ll take mop up, aisles one through four. I’ve updated your maps to show where those are. Divide them amongst yourselves. I want armored APCs to support light infantry, but stay as hidden as you can before those clay-clones drop. I don’t want ship fire to wipe you all out without taking any damage in return.” I paused. There wasn’t anything more to say, but the Book of BuyMort stated that praise paid out better than money, because praise was free. Plus I’d already injected a dose of InspiraSpeech, and that shit didn’t grow on trees.

“I know we’ve been in tight spots before, but three cruisers are one more than any of you are used to so let me just tell you that I’d be worried if it was anyone else in my sales team. But I know all of you, I have fought alongside you, and I trust you all dearly. We will win this battle and show the multiverse why you don’t try to pull a fast one on BlueCleave.”

The sales associates raised their fists and cheered, well harder than my speech deserved. Money well spent, I thought as I dismissed them from formation and sent them scurrying to their places. And it wasn’t a lie. They were good associates. They didn’t ask for a lot of Morties, they did what they were told, and unlike the last bunch, they didn’t try to form a cooperative work agreement.

While the associates took their positions, I opened up BuyMort Reviews for a better look at the buyer. One hundred reviews, all four or five stars. Seemed like an upright guy. But he wasn’t abiding by our agreement. My eyes narrowed even though the image was entirely mental. I zoomed in on the reviews and read their actual contents.

Solid land purchase. No problems.

Great negotiations. A plus.

Great negotiations. No problems.

Solid land purchase. A plus.

I growled. Fake reviews, probably done by hostages with blasters to their heads, and terminated afterwards. On and on it went, generic reviews. I cursed myself. I’d gotten careless and not bothered to thoroughly check through their words before agreeing to our deal. On a whim I clicked a few of the users and was not surprised to see most of them were dead. So stupid. And entirely what guys like Jos relied on. The openness of his villainy was almost like a filter, allowing him to strike deals with the unprepared and foolish, since the smart ones would do their research and turn him down.

I scanned the ground, looking for something to kick. This was almost as dumb as falling for a multidimensional Nimerian Prince scam. Every death that happened today would be my fault, and it’d take Morties and ads to refill the roster. Damn, damn, damn!

A red light flashed in my helm. The troops were entrenched, the anti-ship defenses in place, and armored support hidden where the ships could immediately blast them to smithereens. The battlefield was set. And one thought brought a large smile to my face. Jos was expecting a brainless moron. And that, I was not.

Continued in the upcoming Anthology “Git Gud”

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Published by Damien Lee Hanson

I am the founder of Damien Hanson Books. Come check out awesome authors right here at my website!

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