Anticipation is nine-tenths of any successful encounter. I don’t know what it says that it was my father who told me that right before he shoved me out to chew a few holes in some so-called superheroes.
It doesn’t say anything about how much I admired him, or how desperately I clung to his approval in a world that labeled me monster. It hints at his cavalier attitude and his confidence that a few caped meatheads carrying nunchucks and resorting to laser vision would never be able to conquer him. It very obviously gives me advice about sex, but he meant it to refer to my upcoming fight.
Not that I equate fighting with sex, mind, but it shares certain elements of conflict and resolution that I could draw some pretty strong parallels for.
He said ‘anticipation’. At the time, I thought he meant I should scare them. Flash my claws, bare my teeth, send a few to the hospital. So I did. We did. I and the others in my clutch swarmed out to meet the defenders, one for each. Short straw had to wait until next time to try her luck.
My opponent was Larry ‘Daggerpads’ Kerplefrumsch. I think his talent or mutation or superpower or whatever they’re calling it these days was along the lines of ‘terrible jokes’ and ‘falling out of his banana hammock’. Or it could have something to do with how he’d overcome losing his legs in that freak rollercoaster accident by replacing them with state-of-the-art kinetic-energy-storing multi-use prosthetics. He was a tech mutie. There had been gene-splicing involved so he could control his new appendages with his brain. I didn’t like his moustache.
But dad had meant anticipation on both sides, and not just fear. Daggerpads took one look at me - all sinuous eight feet of me - and every bit of him controlled by thought sprouted blades like a puffer-fish.
I spread my wings, mantling and rattling the loose scales on my spine, and he seemed to catch up, but in waiting for him to attack I realized what my father had really meant. I had to anticipate him, not just tease him. Perhaps it was supposed to be obvious from how dad’d said it, or how he phrased it, or because that’s what he meant in the first place, but I don’t often think that far ahead and at the time my ability to even think ahead at all was completely new. Decantation-to-maturation acceleration in cloning and chimera-design is an art, and dad hadn’t then figured out how to speed up emotional maturation beyond that needed to elevate logic above base instinct.
I’m saying I was a little slow on the uptake. I was young. But I understood eventually.
Daggerpads had a weak high-kick for someone whose claim to fame was sharp things on his fake feet. He went all-out and for a moment I was scared, anticipating. I had never really fought anyone before, only trained with my sisters.
Then I found that he telegraphed his moves. A muscle in his thigh would twitch. For all kickers, I recommend a less revealing outfit just as a precaution. My training activated. I knew who had taught him, what his conditioned weaknesses would be, and he was telling me everything else I needed to know.
But if I could tell how to counter him, I could also see how he was going to counter me. Thus, I played with anticipation.
I am still alive, so I pass on my father’s advice: Anticipation is nine-tenths of any successful encounter.