Castle was a big drawn at Lyon. Of all the mega civilizations in the continent the arena there wasn't merely just a place to play a game. It was an immersive experience. As we walked into the city gates the attendants were extra attentive to us. Lief received a full cavity search, I didn't. They have to profile somewhat during these events. You never know who's going to bring a weapon when the action heats up.
Now If the way I describe it sounds like getting into a city with 50 million is easy, I admit I embellished some. Imagine entering a city gate a league wide, lined with attendants in white uniforms with body scanners. Picture them standing next to large pylons that are supercharged with neutrons and are neurologically connected to the attendant for maximum response time. One false movement on my part and I am suddenly atomized. I've seen this go both ways though. Once I saw a female attendant get aroused, charmed by her subject. The pylon erupted with energy, vaporizing him. Her friends never let her live it down. Oh well, C'est la vie.
Lief stood next to me vigilantly as he put on some optics and calibrated the lenses. I assumed he did it for added protection. The changes of being harvested by a collector here were slim, but he was rather proactive with protecting us. While he fiddled with his tech, I absorbed the city's atmosphere. Lyon was well preserved underneath the chic of future things added over the centuries. I came here almost 300 years ago, only to find a bombed out city with the plaza operating with a few vendors. Those were the days, before rediscovery, before the collectors.
We walked for a few miles then into the city center. The castle arena was four square blocks and the citadel at least 700 meters tall. It was a massive arena. Lief seemed rather lost in it's size, and I couldn't blame him.
"That's a lot larger than I was expecting," he said after some time. "The grounds of the North are so much smaller."
"And for good reason," I chided. "We understand that size doesn't mean immersion. The games here take so long to finish because of it."
"I agree," Lief added, his words flat and absent of passion. Something caught his eye. With two hands he expanded a construct before him and selected a field of vision to enhance.
"Well, isn't that something," he said, sounding impressed. "It looks like Sog is playing tonight."
"Sog?" I hadn't heard of the place. It must have been one of the backwater leagues in the Northern reaches of the world. "Never heard of them."
"They hold a little cup every year," Lief said, "They have a local four team league. I knew one of their captains once. He was a strong man, one of the last true players."
"It sounds like you miss him," I said. In front of me a flower pot was overturned filled with orchids. A mother cried in the distance for her daughter to run and retrieve them. For a moment then I felt rather at home.
"I miss the region," Leif clarified. "There are no collectors up there. Its too far north, and the harvesting equipment fails in temperatures below freezing."
"Heaven forbid working inside."
Lief stopped in his tracks, frozen, myself bumping into him from behind.
"Oh lord, be dramatic why don't you. What is it?"
Lief raised his hand pointing to a sign overhead. On it a woman's image was glazed across: a strong looking brunette, bare shouldered and covered chest high in silver plate armor. Emblazoned across the bottom in gold letters I read, "Sofia Roman, Team Captain."
"That's her, isn't it?" I started. "Why am I not surprised..."
"This is going to complicate things..."
"So that means we now have to sneak into that Godforsaken place, right? I don't know how we will get past the inner guard."
"No," Lief said, rubbing his eyes, "No, this doesn't add up at all. This isn't right."
"What?" I said, turning to Lief.
"Twins... She's a twin..."