Because I can't leave well enough alone….
Author's Notes: This takes place during episode 11, Gamblers and Gallantry. We know Gallant's story. This is Goofus's.
This is stupid.
That was the first opinion Mugen formed as he watched a large group of drunken idiots scream their heads off at a pair of seemingly disgruntled insects. But then, he realized. It's all relative, ain't it?
Mugen reviewed the possible livelihoods he had encountered out on the road since Bossy McBossington insisted they all get jobs. Waiting tables. Bossy tended to advocate that one, seeing as she used to do it and all. Which in itself made a good argument for the notion that anyone, in fact, could wait tables. But that required him to take orders from too many fronts, and he's made it perfectly clear how he feels about that. So, no. He can't wait tables.
Sell things. The obvious problem would be what to sell? He didn't own anything to sell. So he would have to go out and get stuff just to sell it to other people, which seemed like an awful lot of work. And he was pretty sure that went against his personal philosophy anyway. That was a new thing since embarking on this trip. He was finding he had philosophies. He never really thought about that sort of thing before. But next thing he knew, people were running up against all sorts of deep, embedded rules that he had for himself without ever realizing it. One of those rules, he discovered just then, was whatever I finds, I keeps.
So selling things was out.
Street performing…meh. He also had a personal philosophy against doing things that were stupid and dumb, which that was. Unless the performance involved irritating Fuu, in which case, it ceased to be both stupid and dumb. Then it became awesome.
But Fuu was not interested in being irritated for fun and profit. She was all in Serious Mode, which Mugen hated. For a young kid, she really thought an awful lot of herself. What right did she have making them go out and get jobs anyway? She acted like they owed her or something. Owed her. Bitch, please. If anything, she would be in debt to them until she was a wrinkled old prune of a woman too gross to boss anyone around. In fact, if he ever wrote a book about this whole journey, he would call it Bitch, Please.
Now that would make a lot of cash. All he had to do was figure out how to write. And read. So authoring a best selling novel was clearly off the list of possible sources of income.
Considering all of that, looking at two beetles fight each other to the death stopped seeming stupid and suddenly looked like the lesser of all evils. At least it was the beetle doing most of the work. He just had to sit there and collect money, assuming his beetle kicked ass. Which it would. Because it was Mugen's. And he wasn't going to stand for no pussy beetles. And so it was decided that he would become a prized bug trainer.
But first, Mugen thought, a little research. He milled around the crowd, waiting for some drunken idiot to leave his cash unattended, or to get extra loose with his pockets. It was easy enough to snag a coin or two.
"You placin' a bet?" he was asked, by what must have been the beetle bookie. Mugen wondered what twists and turns your life had to take before you were a beetle bookie.
"Hell yeah. Which one's the favorite?"
"The black one."
"Don't be a wise ass," Mugen said. "You're runnin' books on this shit, you gotta have odds."
"The one on the left. That beetle belongs to Takami of the Iroh Dynasty. That beetle comes from a long line of honorable fighters. Good blood."
"Do they even have blood?"
The bookie shrugged. "I'm making this shit up, man. They're two beetles. Pick one. Most people are favoring the left today. I dunno why."
Mugen thought about it for a second and decided that if the left one was the favorite, then he would go for the right one. He was certain this was because of a philosophy of some kind, but didn't feel like trying to figure out which one it was.
Mugen elbowed his way up to the very front of the crowd and settled in for some good action. The bell rang and the beetles were off. Neither one seemed particularly interested in fighting at first. They just sort of ambled around the "ring," not caring about their opponent one way or the other. "He's scoping out the competition," a man next to Mugen said. "It's a glorious, violent ballet."
Mugen was about to dismiss this as nonsense, but then he thought he saw a glint in the right beetle's eye. It was the eye of a warrior. He picked a winner, he knew it. "Come on Beetle on the Right!" he yelled. "Kick its ass!"
The beetles continued to amble about until one of them crashed into the other quite accidentally. It was then that they seemed to notice the other's existence and the "fight" began in earnest. Left Beetle shoved Right Beetle casually, as if nudging an abandoned cart out of the way at the local market. "Break his knees!" Mugen encouraged his own beetle. "End his career!"
In fact, all of the shouting and carrying on seemed in sharp contrast to the actual conflict taking place, which was modest at best. Neither bug seemed too invested in the outcome, as if they knew the worst that could happen was that one of them would just have to go around a different way. The cosmic insignificance of the struggle did not dampen anyone's fun, however. As far as they were concerned, the outcome of the match might determine the fate of the universe. Or at least, cover the bar tab, which sometimes felt to be about the same thing. "Come on, you can do it!" Mugen screamed, practically frothing at the mouth. "Just a little…. FUCK!"
And so it was that Mugen's first venture into the world of beetle sumo ended with him distinctly in the red. This was, of course, the pitfall of a start up enterprise. You gotta spend money to make money, he thought, deciding that this was another philosophy of his. Starting now.
"Yo, is that your beetle?" Mugen ran to catch up with the trainer as he left the bar.
"No, I just like to carry him around."
Mugen did not appreciate the sarcasm surrounding this sport. It seemed to him that when dealing with people who fought beetles for a living, one should not take anything for granted. "He sucks, you know."
"Yeah, I know."
"Can I have him?"
"You just said he sucks."
"Yeah, now," Mugen explained. "Wait'll I get my hands on him. I can turn him into a champ."
"He's a beetle, dude."
"Well that's the difference between you and me. You see a beetle. I see a killing machine."
"You're a weird guy," the trainer observed.
"You fight beetles," Mugen pointed out. "Shut up."
The trainer conceded the point. "Touché. What will you give me for him?"
Mugen considered what he could afford financially with his limited budget. When he took into account the Return on Investment and the amount of fights he could orchestrate in their time here in Edo, he decided that, "If you give him to me, I will not punch you in the mouth."
The trainer regarded him cockeyed for a moment, and then said, "No deal."