Author: Thomas Godfrey

I should have just pleaded guilty. I should have just gone off to some decrepit moon somewhere and put in my ten years of hard labour or whatever it was they were going to have me doing. Breaking my back in the mines of Tormen IV, or being drafted into the Imperial Army and sent off to die in some random frontier war. But no, I’d pleaded not guilty.
Fuck me.
Did I do it? Yeah, of course I did. And I’d do it again. Better to rob some pensioner blind than starve, right? The police didn’t see it that way though, and now, here I am, in the Draxas arena running for my life from HK units programmed with some ridiculous gimmick or another. Apparently, this was a spectator sport in the Elysium sectors of the universe. Rich people bet on how long us cons would last. Kids collected trading cards of the various HKs. What did we get in the slums? Wrestling and raves.
So, forgive me for not knowing exactly what the Draxas arena would look like. I’d been given a crash course. This was my trial. A trial by combat.
They’d dropped me in this arena. Some blown-out old frontier town that got glassed to the Stone Age by Xarens hundreds of years ago. The place was loaded with cameras, and I and about a dozen other lowlife criminals had been dropped in. Last man standing went free.
It was all televised.
Hopefully, someone out there was betting on me. If I got out, I’d make some snobbish police commissioner a wad of credits. Maybe I’d get a trading card or a collectible action figure. Johnny Paxton, the guy who survived Draxas.
I was currently hiding under the ruins of a hovercar.
There wasn’t any food in here. Well, there was. If you could find some other dead guy after an HK had got him. There was also a bit of water here and there. Xaren radiation bombs killed bacteria so the water was fairly drinkable. But I was running out. I’d lasted almost a week.
I’d only seen about four HKS. They all had names like ‘The Butcher’ or ‘The Pope’. There was one called ‘Dominatrix’, who had these spiked chains and tortured you to death. She only aired on the after-dark channels. Best not to traumatize the kiddos.
The fan favorite was ‘Barry’, at least as far as I could tell. His gimmick was that he’d slide-tackle you like an honest Sunday league football player then stamp you to death with bladed cleats.
Fuck me. Should have pleaded guilty.
All was quiet, for now. Then, my stomach growled. I knew in the next street over The Pope had just incinerated some pedophile. The Pope was a great one to follow. His meat came pre-cooked.
So off I went.
I rounded the corner. There it was, a smoldering corpse. I greedily ran towards it. I didn’t care about the cameras. Sure, cannibalism was illegal, but who cared at this point? If they nabbed me again, I’d happily go off to Tormen IV and mine silicon or whatever.
I reach the corpse and start to pluck off flakes of meat. The nonce is still juicy. Yum.
Then something whistled through the air and I felt a sharp pain in my right hand. I screamed as a hooked chain punctured my palm. Then, another chain punctured my left hand, and I was pulled to my feet, screaming in agony.
Fuck me, I’d been found by ‘Dominatrix’.
This was going to be a rough death.