1.8: Black Elvis: The Pope of Paisleyville
Black Elvis is not black. He just wears a lot of black, as well as a ratty gunmetal stovepipe hat. Like nearly everyone born naturally in the station, he had a tan Pacific Islander look. Any one who continued to let their children’s traits be picked by natural selection had long since become homogenized into lean tan specimens. The melting pot has been well and truly stirred by this point.
Phenotypical variety these days came through those who could afford genetic programming. The tastes of the rich were much more diverse than simple old world races. Sure, every once in a while, someone would get romantically caught up in an old drama and decide to program their offspring to appear as one of the old races, but not often. More frequent were the desires to add extra limbs, or spikes, shells, feathers, or tentacles. The technology was old and the bugs were worked out and your child could be exactly what you wanted, if you could afford it.
A bit of chaos came into the mix from middle class families or individuals who could not really afford the procedures finding ways to get it done in the back market. The technology used in these clinics was substandard, and the “doctors” were not fully versed in the methodology. So you got people like Skum Bunny, Zombie Lisa, and Scroot. Skum Bunny had unnaturally quick reflexes, but those puffy cheeks, buckteeth, and freckles were not anything a parent would have asked for. Zombie Lisa was cute in a way, but nowhere near the standards of beauty currently in vogue among the wheel classes. When she was threatened, a genetic switch flipped and she turned into a killing machine. She barely seemed to remember the incidents. Scroot was unfortunate. Something went very wrong in his incubator. No one would have ever thought he could be useful, except Syrge did find his utility. Syrge was different than the others. His programming was perfect; something else must have gone down to land him in the Slum Sphere. He could leave if he wanted. Black Elvis thought he was playing a long con of some kind, and was always a little suspicious. Anyway he was useful to have around in the meantime.
Black Elvis and Vince were naturally born. The wheel classes referred to them as genetic stowaways. As if they had no right to be on the station, as if they were burdening the system. Their traits had come to them by the sheer accident of random ova and sperm colliding. Vince was lucky. Healthy, strong, smart, quick. Able to adapt to gravity fluctuations without getting sick. Many naturals had trouble with that. Human evolution had not had time to react to spin gravity.
Black Elvis though… If you didn’t know better you might think he was engineered. He was 17 years old. He was tall and muscular. His IQ was never measured, but was obviously high, but his IPQ(Inter-Personal-Quotient), SOQ(Social-Organization-Quotient), and his EQ(Emotional-Quotient) were off the charts. He could see how people worked and connected and pull the strings to maneuver large groups of people. He certainly did profit from these skills, but he also cared about his community, it came with his gifts. In order to see these connections between people, he had to feel them as well. He could not become like so many of the pimps and pushers here in the Slum Sphere, because then he would have lost one of his most valuable tools.
Black Elvis was making his way now into Paisleyville, pushing a cart filled with dirt grown produce. Super valuable fruits and vegetables. He had a variable staff of young farmers working regular shifts. They kept their farm hidden under netting, which also kept out the crop-eating bugs. He and Syrge helped them with the equipment they needed for lighting and soil maintenance. Black Elvis had a contact in the Merchant Wheel who paid top dollar for the goods in Legal Tender sent to a dummy account. Several kinds of physical currency could be spent in the Slum Sphere and the Axel, as well as in a couple of the other residence spheres. However in most of the spheres, and in all of the wheels, money was electronic and had to be connected to accounts in the Banking Wheel. Black Elvis and his contact had some dummy accounts set up that they could access from the Slum Sphere thanks to Syrge and Scroot.
There were some things they needed from the wheels that they just could not get in the Slum Sphere, like proper medicines, and nano-healing capsules. The dummy accounts could be shut down at anytime, but were often overlooked in cases like this because bankers loved fresh fruits and vegetables. The vat grown variety lacked flavor and texture. Most of the Legal Tender earnings went to purchase medicine, which was funneled into the clinics that Black Elvis had set up. The expensive drugs were reserved for the worst emergencies of those that dwelled in the Slum Sphere; there was no set price. First need, first served. If they followed Elvis’s rules.
There was a general anarchic vibe to the Slum Sphere, which was great for the strong and savage, but it left the weak and civil at a disadvantage. Black Elvis saw himself as building a civilization. The center of his web was Paisleyville. It had his clinics, the Local Market, (where outsiders were not welcome, there were other markets in the Slum for slumming borges to purchase their drugs, prostitutes, and slaves,) a female run prostitution ring, and a large high common tent for gatherings and parties.
When Black Elvis was fifteen one of the old men that spent most of his time in the common tent for the safety it provided, had, during a rousing dance one night, yelled out, “Huzzah for the Pope of Paisleyville!” And the crowd had taken up the cheer. It took Black Elvis a few minutes to realize they were cheering for him. He thought now to himself, that that feeling was why he did not just bully his way around. His people loved him, and they would fight and die for him. He tried to shake away the rigor of power he felt thinking back. He pushed his cart up to the prostitution tent.
Minute Maid Marian pushed back the curtain and beamed when she saw him, and fell to her knees when she saw the produce. Black Elvis always kept the best back for his people. Minute Maid Marian was gushing.
“Oh you wonderful venting sexy boy!” She jumped up and grabbed his face in her hands and pressed her lips to his.
Black Elvis waited a few moments and pulled back and tipped his hat jauntily.
“Aww, now, Marian. You know that’s not why I come here!”
She kept her right hand on the back of his neck, strumming her fingers through the scruff of hair on his nape. With her left hand she snatched up a red plum and took a massive bite. Yellow juice ran in twin rivulets down her chin.
“Fwut yaw mowf an ge in heh!”
She grabbed his arms and pulled him into the tent. She called the other girls and together they pulled him back into the nicest shanty in the place.
“Ah well,” thought Black Elvis, “They do love me. And after all, I am the Pope of Paisleyville.”