Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
Blood dripped off of its thick horns under the arena lights. On the ground beside him were the bodies of the six last tigers from Earth. There were deep slashes over his torso that were already scabbing over thanks to the gladiator coagulant in his bloodstream. His breathing was deep and even from the fight but it wasn’t ragged. It wasn’t taxed. It plumed out from his massive nostrils in the cold silence of the battle’s end.
The audience waited in anticipation behind the force shields and on two hundred civilized worlds reached by the broadcast. The tigers were just the warm up. Now it was time to fight something intelligent.
This was still part of the opening entertainment. It was clear from the size difference that I wasn’t favoured to win. Best to whet the audience’s appetite with a little slaughter before an actual contest. At least it was bare handed. If it had a projectile weapon, I would have been told.
I really thought that the aliens would be better than us. More enlightened. I pictured art installations the size of nebulae, Vulcan mind bridges, peace at all costs, that sort of thing.
Not so. Turns out our thirst for violence is weak in comparison. Every single person, predator, poisonous plant, and insect on Earth has been conscripted as fodder for the games. While we’re gone, Earth is being mined to a husk. We humans have been promised riches and freedom if we become champions but we can never go home again. I have my doubts about the validity of those promises.
I’m in great shape but I’m half the thing’s size. It’s slow but if even one of its blows connects with me, I won’t be standing back up. I’ve been given lots of rest, nutrition and awareness supplements but I can still see that they’ve pitted me against this creature with no intention of a fair fight. This is an execution. I can see the odds flashing across the screen up in the stands. It’s all about how long I’ll last, not whether or not I’ll win.
“What’s your name?” I shout across to it.
“One Hundred Fifty.” Says the man-bull.
“That’s an odd name. Where did you get it?” I ask.
“If I defeat and kill you tonight, then tomorrow my name will be One Hundred Fifty One.” It said.
I really didn’t like the way this was shaping up.
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