Cupcake was good at two things in her life, the sport of jugger and baking cupcakes. If you asked her which one she preferred the most, her reply would depend on her mood on that particular day. Sometimes, she’d crave for the quiet creation of baking on an oven, working the dough, a quiet contemplation while the smells wafted over her. Sure, it was all streamed live on her channel and people watched her and relaxed from their daily lives. They got tingles out of watching her bake cupcakes. They called it ASMR. Cupcake didn’t really understand what it was she was supposed to be feeling when watching back her own self baking and humming little tunes, but her fans felt something, ‘tingles’ as they claimed, so she didn’t mind. They were happy, they paid money for access, her owner was happy, her debt was being paid-off.
Battle Bunny was her friend, her bestie, her BFF. She usually devoured most of the cupcakes she made, but never actually lifted a finger to help. Cupcake felt hurt about that a couple of years back but now she had gotten over it, her friend was contributing in other ways.
Some days Cupcake was raving mad, angry at the unfairness of life, at her smothered hopes and dreams, at her owner who exploited her in every aspect of her life, at the world in general. She channelled that rage into hitting opponents very, very hard with a foam-ended quarterstaff, they called a q-tip. The sport was weird and objectified women, but she didn’t really mind. The alternatives to earning the money needed to pay off her debt weren’t as nice as playing a toughy sport. Sure, there was blood, and weirdly enough, it was pink, just like her cupcake frosting. And sure, there were injuries.
But in general, the bad things outweighed the good. That wasn’t a typo, yes, it was a crappy life. But Cupcake was a sort of person that could find nice things in the gutter, who could forge friendships in a competitive environment of life and death, who, put simply, had a positive attitude in life.
She enjoyed her life as it currently was with a casual smirk and a cheek full of flour. Battle Bunny leaned over the kitchen counter as usual, nagging her butt off. “I’m starving, feed me!”
Cupcake slapped her bestie’s extended arm. “They’re still hot, wait a minute.”
“But they smell so good…” Battle Bunny nagged, hopping in place.
“Patience, Bunny,” she said to her friend. She poked the cupcakes to see if they were getting tight and then added the frosting. It was sugary and pink, just the way she liked it.
Bunny stuck a finger in it and licked it before Cupcake could react. She tasted it with a satisfied grin, facing Cupcake straight up.
Cupcake opened her eyes wide and she held the frosting shaper upright. “Why you…” She chased her friend around the kitchen with a palm full of frosting. “Come here, let me frost you!”
“Um… How about no?” Battle Bunny laughed and ran around. She really was moving like a bunny, quick and uncatcheable, that’s what made her a good qwik after all.
“Come here, I said!” Cupcade demanded, laughing.
Bunny mocked her by licking her fingers with satisfaction. “It’s your fault for making them so delicious.” She ran back to the kitchen counter and snatched a cupcake, then jammed it in her mouth.
Cupcake stopped in front of her and put her hand on her waist, her lips a straight line. “Your tongue is getting scalded, isn’t it?”
Battle Bunny chewed, her eyes watering. “No…” she said, her mouth full. She took in a few quick breaths to cool her mouth.
“You’re such an idiot,” Cupcake snorted. “You could have waited like two minutes.”
Battle Bunny kept chewing with her mouth open, her cheeks full. “Again, it’s your fault for being such a good cook.”
Cupcake glared at her, then went to get her a cool glass of water.
Battle Bunny snatched it and gulped it down. “Oh, thank Demeter, I needed that.”
Cupcake put on the kitchen glove and took out the second tray, then placed it on the counter next to the first batch.
Battle Bunny counted them with her finger. “What’s this? It’s not enough for everyone.”
Cupcake punched her lightly on the shoulder. “It is if you don’t eat five of them. I ran out of the secret ingredient.”
“Hm,” Battle Bunny said, wolfing down another cupcake, fanning her open mouth with her hand. “Can’t you use eggs like a normal person?”
“You know it’s not the same,” Cupcake tsked.
“Okay. Want to get it from me?” Battle Bunny shook her head up and down. “‘Cause I’m willing to bleed, if it means I’m getting some more of this deliciousness.”
Cupcake looked out the window. “Nah, it’s not the same. It doesn’t taste right if it’s not coming from our enemies.”
Battle Bunny licked her fingers, making loud sounds. All this was getting streamed to the fans, and they sure were liking that little detail. “That’s alright, we have a match tomorrow. Patience, as a very wise person said once.”
Cupcake raised her eyebrow and started to wipe off the kitched counter. “A wise one, eh?”
“Yeah, she droned on and on about it, then she died because she pissed off everybody and they killed her. Like, pressed her throat in, choking her,” Battle Bunny said, mimicking everything in excess.
“Seems to me they were impatient and stupid. Who will bake their cupcakes then?” Cupcake said, pointatively.
Battle Bunny raised her palm to her friend. “I know, right? That’s what I told them, but she was so annoying…”
The match was easy, as matches went. They were paired up with a bunch of girls that knew nothing about the sport, they were hardly a team, let alone a challenge. But jugger had a way of kicking you in the ass when you least expected it, so Cupcake and all the other veterans were careful not to get injured. Last thing they needed was to rake up hospital and augmentation bills on an easy match such as this, and miss out on the Cyberpink Tournament. So, they paced themselves, even Battle Bunny, who was usually impatient, minded her footing, dodged more than she sprinted. Even being cautious like that, she scored a bunch of times.
Cupcake brought her q-tip on top of an opponent’s head, practically slapping her in the face. Her nose gushed blood all over everybody in the vicinity in a spray of pink droplets. The opponent knelt, since after taking a hit she was paralysed for the duration of five stones. Cupcake took her time to bring out a vial from her belt and pushed the opponent’s head back. She looked up at Cupcake, scared and vulnerable. She moaned something incomprehensible, but she couldn’t speak through the implant’s temporary paralysis.
“Shh…” Cupcake whispered in her hear. “Don’t worry. I just want some of this…” She placed the vial under her opponent’s gushing nose and collected her blood. “Did you know you can use blood instead of eggs in a recipe?” Cupcake spoke in her ear softly, almost seductively, licking her lips. “It gives it a nice, unusual flavour. Everybody loves it, they love my cupcakes. And tonight, the secret ingredient is your blood,” Cupcake said, shutting the now full vial. She wiped a drop of pink blood from the lip of the vial and tasted it, licking her finger clean.
“Mmm, I bet you’ll make a perfect blueberry cupcake.”
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