ForkNite Jun 16, 2019 21:11:30 GMT -6
Post by Casca on Jun 16, 2019 21:11:30 GMT -6
Solo, 60x Gravity
A young, hairless child shakily stretched her legs as her siblings attended to the preparation of her body for the approaching trial. Wrapping her fists, starting from her wrists to in-between her knuckles, the attending brother carefully choreographed the fabric as if his life depended on it, or at least someone close to him. Touching his sister’s shaking leg, the siblings communicated without words.
“You’ll do fine,” Cedar insisted.
“How do you know,” Casca displayed by shifting her footing as her brother shifted to her other hand.
“Can you guys stop doing that twin stuff,” Ag—Aspen threatened with a smack to the back of her sister’s head. “Get your head in the game. A lot’s changed in the past year,” the oldest Madani reminded. A year, wow, Casca thought to herself.
A year spent fighting uphill and always looking for the next meal. Everyone was right, Arcose was what it was and there was no changing that. The place was cold, its people colder. Literally named after a specific temperament, the world was still habitable for off worlders despite its frigid reputation. Or that’s what the World Trade Fleet would have investors believe. After the Madani children were thrown to the tundra, they were corralled and lead like cattle to a place that shared nomenclature, coincidentally, in direct congruency with the Trade Fleet’s master narrative. Seek and conquer.
Nothing happens in a vacuum, the planets that were acquired always had a resistant population. The leaders of that world would be assassinated, as well as all other possible threats made relevant to the Fleet’s agenda, and the rest of its inhabitants were forcibly removed. The planet was then ready for a makeover and sold to the highest bidder.
The children of these acquisitions were given free shelter in what could have only been seen as a mockery of a good faith gesture performed by Acrose in shamming the private and separate world acquiring company. Temporary dwellings were constructed to house the children as well as governmental aid, services, and programs to more quickly acclimate them. These areas had the unofficial name of the Districts in Acrosian media coverage.
Asking for a towel as they cleaned their hands of the crime by simulating doing the time, the systems at be could turn critics attention away from what was happening in the communities these scared and alone children lived and paint a new picture. These communities started to be group by the month of arrival, the Madani family finding themselves part of the Tenth District, known as or Diaz by its residents. Children roaming parentless and without a future, the Districts were left to deal for themselves by the police force and government of Arcose, leading to a strange Lord of the Flies situation.
And the kids just kept coming, as the Fleet acquired more and more. The Districts numbered to fourteen at the moment. The few opportunities provided by the good people of Arcose dried up almost immediately due to the savagery that pervades in the Districts. When a natural born citizen of Arcose accuses a non-native, or a transplant is a slur that is used, it will forever haunt them leading the new arrivals to stick to mostly to themselves. Believed guilty until proven innocent was what Casca heard from people in her District.
“We are so proud of you,” Aspen shook Casca loose from her inner monologue to shake her arms loose. Looking somewhere between her two siblings, the youngest Madani shifted her thought to the gameplan for tonight. On cue, her stomach roared a little roar to remind her physically why they were competing. Life didn’t permit her to slow down, constantly on the hunt for the next meal. The reason why they even participated in these barbaric, gladiatorial battle royale’s was to have a chance to be the last one standing, raising a giant cheque or something at the end. A cheque so big, it’d be hard to cash, especially on a planet where it was hard to open a bank account due to their current situation. Regardless of how they get the credit, the money would be spent first on only the stuff they really needed, and they needed a lot.
Hmm, Cured Meats, Casca thought to herself privately.
A selfish wish, but she could dream. And then if anything was left over, they would leave the city, hearing legends of a tribe of Arcosians who preferred a warmer climate and was more accepting of other species. The Calientes or something? It didn’t matter; their participation solely meant a chance to put food on the table, that was it. There was no escape plan, there was no mulligan. One more shot and they needed to prove they still deserved it.
The three huddled together, looking into each other’s faces. All three knew they were stronger together, but today, the only tribute that was available to compete for the Madani clan was their youngest, Casca. Aspen was dealing with the aftermath of a concussion experienced in practice and Cedar had a broken foot. But the odds weren’t entirely skewed against her. She knew of one other alley competing tonight but wiped that from her mind as she huddled with her family members, shoulder to shoulder. Everything that needed to be said had been said, this would be the time, their time to take back some pride and dignity, demand part of the galaxy to be theirs, exclusively. All hinged on winning one of these super illegal, smash tournaments.
Checking the condition of the only thing she had left that was her father’s, Casca tightened the traps of her Gravity Device, which grew loose, as she never took the thing off. “Perfect, sixty times normal gravity,” she said as she turned the device on and immediately felt its effects. If she lost, at least she would have gained experience, Casca thought to herself.
Stepping onto the battlefield from her private locker room, the hairless Saiyan walked to the elevated eighth starting platform. Casca didn’t even think of being currently shaved bald anymore. Done as a precaution from the rampant and random outbreaks of blood harvesting insects, every member of the Madani family shaved their heads. It wasn’t that bad, she thought, realizing it for the first time in months.
Speaking of the Madani’s, the family was forever winless in the tournament they were competing in tonight, one they humorlessly dubbed Forknite. Normally the two older siblings would take turns playing, even competing together in the beginning, but tonight was Casca’s turn. And while providing only one tribute, the odds on Casca winning dropped to the point where the type of person that regularly gambled would have thrown money on her just as a joke at a chance to win forty to one odds. The betting line was prime for the taking, the largest payout the tourney would have seen in years if she somehow won.
Watching the Saiyan hybrid cross the newly installed desert terrain, an Earthling gestured for a momentary silence from his surrounding posse. Using steampunk inspired binoculars, constructed from two sniper scopes of different lengths and strengths, he inspected the field of play to guess the game type. At the moment, the Earthling took up the role of a Gamer, someone who could subscribe and become a patron for one of the Tributes, or contestants, competing. The odds of winning the once a week tournament could be manipulated in real time with the aid of loot boxes, random power-ups purchased by Gamers for Tributes to influence how the game is unfolding. It could be battle armor, it could be a ruby pendant.
Every prize was a potential game changer. The Castle, the name of the stadium and its in-house management team, inputted this reward system to incentivize bloodshed, to keep the pace of play at a dramatically high level. Allegedly, the frequent loss of lives have led to the renegotiations of contracts to better define the relationship between the Castle and its Tributes. The only ones desperate enough to participate in such a horrid form of entertainment were, sadly, the lost children of the Districts.
Tonight, an Earthling chose to wager all his available currency on the largest long shot of the year. The bet? Forty to one on the bald Saiyan girl, the eighth seed, besting everyone tonight. Why, one of his cronies asked, “Because I’ve seen her, once before,” he answered truthfully.
Slowly setting down his unusual visual aid, the Earthling took a small indulgence from his glass, never removing his eyes from Tribute number eight. High above the battlefield, in a private, climate-controlled suite, set to a hotter than normal temperature on Arcose, the man always sat in the same chair, the exact chair he was currently found residing in, never once gambling a single credit of any currency. Tonight of all nights, he raised the Castle an amount equivalent to its mortgage. A gamble large enough to turn some heads.
The line moved to thirty-four to one because of the size of his bet alone.
All the destractions would not detour the Earthling from watching his investment. Remembering her anger, her drive, he believed the immeasurables he witnessed by her on Embasa would correlate to her success here tonight. He’s seen her almost ruin what was supposed to be a simple acquisition.
The sounds of the starting siren rang across the domed coliseum as the Tributes sprinted forward towards the only artificial structure on the battlefield. The structure, a five-tiered or five-stepped pyramid, made of something much more durable than simple stone stood tall enough to be fought over. The pyramid’s tiers contained an assortment of weapons, ranging from a compound bow on the lowest steps to a six-foot katana. The weapons were often seen as a ploy, even by the Tributes. The pyramid and its weapons were used to draw the Tributes into combat in an attempt to set a precedent to how the games were to proceed.
While Casca began her race from the starting platform designated for her, she was able to see the other seven as they made their approach from all different directions to the center. Sprinting at full speed, the female Saiyan quickly realized she was the smallest and slowest of all her fellow Tributes, that was except for one. It was this very person who first invited the Madani’s to the party, Lutein, the Saiyan boy from Embasa.
The groups of kids from the Tenth seemed to look out for each other, Lutein surprisingly rising to a leadership role rather quickly after they settled on their new home, Arcose. Although never seen or talked about, it was Lutein who often provided for the Madani family when resources were scarce. He was more of a provider than he would let on, growing half a foot in a year while his body accumulated scars from the streets, as he had no other family than the people who lived in the Tenth. Like everyone there, he grew accustomed to a life where nothing was handed to him by a parent or another, only taken and usually from someone who needed it just as much.
This being the first Forknite Casca competed in, she was taken aback as the boy she bested a year prior sought out another Tribute rather than a weapon. Strange, she thought as she continued her advance believing the weapons could be an equalizer in combat. That was when she saw the fire materialize from his hands. Shifting his pursuit, the male Saiyan took two steps before disappearing, leaving Casca with the impression he already had his weapons.
The Tribute closest to Casca while being ahead of her and to her left looked humanoid, wearing a long, dark-colored hood and cloak that wisped behind him frantically as it was carried over the desert sand. She knew she was the least experienced contestant, totally understandable as to why she was given the worst seeding. But did they have to put her next to the hooded Earthling who held the number one seed? Definitely not, but that’s part of the game.
Taking a peek at the Tribute on her other side, Casca sized up the female Majin who was tonight’s second-highest seed. The seeds were entirely based on past success, and Casca found herself between the two Tributes with the most of it. Taking a chance, the Saiyan slightly changed her path of travel to first encounter the Majin over the Earthling. Which proved to be a mistake as the pink, pliable limbs of the Majin reached ahead of her towards the pyramid to grab the weapon Casca needed — Lutein reappeared, a step above the weapon the Majin wanted.
With one, effortless swing, the Saiyan cut through the air, exposing that it was a sword imbued with fire that Lutein materialized earlier. Smart, Casca thought to herself, understanding now why he let everyone beat him to the weapon’s pyramid. The blobs that were once the Majin’s hands eventually course corrected and returned to their sender, but not before snatching a different weapon, the throwing knives off of the lowest step. When the female Saiyan turned from the Majin back to the young adult that originally cut her hands off, he was gone, and in his place was the weapon he protected for her. The compound bow!
Score, Casca thought when she saw no one took the one weapon she hoped needed no learning curve to master, just needed to point and shoot, which originally was the plan. Holding the bow between herself and Tribute Four, a possible Shinjin, she found the weapon could also be used a shield!
The Shinjin originated on the opposite side of the pyramid from Casca, how it now stood above her holding the top tiered weapon was beside her. Hitting the structure’s steps as she tried to maneuver from the path of the Shinjin’s blade, the Saiyan rolled away from the combat. Luckily, the Shinjin’s reached an impasse as Lutein appeared behind it. Seeing the fire course through the Shinjin brought pain to Casca’s face as she retraced from the experience. Bowing out, she retreated from the artificial meet up back to where she started in hopes of only being able to bottleneck her enemies to her as they were obviously distracted by the melee over the weapons.
Upon her retreat, the Saiyan winced in pain as she jumped behind cover. The Majin, she forgot, as she ripped a throwing blade from her back. Without notice, the Majin’s limbs elongated around the Saiyan and bowtied her to the natural rock formation she used as a barrier. Dropping the bow and attempting to break the tie through its weakest point, the Majin’s fingers, Casca wrestled to remove one of the steadfast digits. When she created the space to employ her strategy, the finger went limp as it retracted and re-sprouted in close proximity to where it previously was. Never seeing this before, the Saiyan superheated her hands as she pulled to release the Majin’s new phalange. If cauterizing the Majin’s hands together didn’t work, Casca thought, at least she’d be ready for a last stand.
The Majin’s skin decreased in malleability as its digits began to spawn further and further up her arms as the area before needed rest. Unfortunately for Casca, the Majin’s energy output was relatively null due to its technique being almost passive, as it correlated with its species, where it took Casca’s almost everything she had to defend against the little hydra who was actively trying to constrict her into submission. Casca knew she didn’t have long before the strength difference would be too great to defy the Majin’s grip, so she looked to the battlefield for help. Seeing explosions bunny-hopping in proximity to the weapon’s pyramid lead Casca to believe Lutein had his hands full with the other. When there was no one else, the Saiyan let up. For a second.
A second was all that was needed for Casca to get back in the game as she felt the arms give way under their own volition. Rebounding off the rock and to her feet, picking up her compound bow as she went, the Saiyan circled until she saw what stopped the Majin. Gasping as she made her way around the natural barrier, the Saiyan immediately dropped to her knees as she tried to remove the spear from the Majin’s body. As she made contact with the weapon, the Saiyan was thrown from the now sparking body of the one she looked to help as the spear had been elementally enchantment.
Connecting the weapon to its master, Casca propped her upper body up from the sand as she tried to collect her thoughts. Jolted was not the right word to describe the Saiyan as she wildly scanned what was left of the battlefield for who threw the spear. Standing atop the pyramid, the Earthling remained cloaked as he starred back at the horrified Saiyan. Why, she thought as she scooted once more behind cover.
Pressed again to the same rock formation, a hundred meters out of the pyramid, Casca was less than relieved. How was she supposed to win this Forknite when the supporting cast dropped like flies around her? Who wanted to be the lord of flies, it was nonsense. So if she couldn’t see herself doing the same things to win, what was the point of signing up?
The chase? Casca thought to herself trying to remember how she let her siblings talk her into this. She was nowhere close to being prepared to compete in a battle royale like this, even with the protecting abided by Lutein. The Saiyan needed to pay to play, thumbing the nocking loop of her compound bow with an arrow already in its rest. She needed to follow in the footsteps of the champions of old, stories written in trilogies as their conquest was sweet while bitter. She needed to pin the tail on the donkey.
Holding her diaphragm steady in the upper portion of her chest, the Saiyan leaned from her cover as she took aim at the last known location of the hooded figure. While he was gone, Casca opened fire on the next best thing, Tribute Five, the Namekian. Releasing the first bolt before it was Namekianly possible to detect, the young woman strode from cover as she reached for another in — she forgot to grab the quiver of arrows when she was at the pyramid! The young woman painfully recalled rolling off the pyramid due to the Shinjin’s fatal assault.
With reflexes Casca believed to be unachievable at the time, the Namekian Tribute stopped, slightly hunched to the left to open his body up to the bolt closing in on him. Swatting the projectile from the air, the Namekian snapped the bolt in half before fully turning and facing the person responsible. Casca, hesitant at remaining in the open, rocked back and forth before choosing to square up with him. Taking his queue, the Saiyan joined in the sprint as they would eventually collide on the battlefield. Thrown back momentary, the two wrestled for dominance, hand in hand as the chaos of the rest of the tourney was drowned out. At the moment, it was as even a fight an Eighth seed had verse a Five.
The line for Tribute Eight moved to forty-six to one, bet a hundred and it pays out four thousand six hundred.
“Arthur,” called an Arcosian woman from across the suite. “Arthur, I know you can hear me,” she said seductively to the human, attempting to grab more than his attention with a light skim of her tail behind his neck.
“Ferra,” Arthur did take notice but he would refrain until after the main event to reopen a door to another pandora’s box. The Arcosian sat opposite the Earthling, both adorned in what would be the equivalent of the classic black suit and tie in relation to Arcosian culture. So they were well dressed, a history persisted between them, all that was needed was a little action.
“Two loot boxes, one for Tribute Three,” Ferra paused while examining the contours of the Earthling gentleman’s face. “And one for Tribute Five.”
A new, unheard alarm clanged across the rafters of the domed ceiling of the Castle as the game was recalibrated. Casca eased off the Namekian as they both slowed to a still. The artificial lights wavered from their usual sheen to black as two drones were launched into the battlefield. Larger than the typical, the top of the line military drones careened through the air before taking different paths. Kicking up sand as it stopped unnerving close to Casca and her rival, the drone whirred loudly as it hovered, two large cannons armed forward. The drone showed a bright number five across its exterior as it whipped up clouds of sand around the two.
The drone’s wall gave way as if it was made of liquid, revealing a Blood Ruby Pendant. Knowing enough about the various multiplying properties of such an artifact, Casca took off before she would become a victim of its carnage. Kicking off the ground, the Saiyan took to the air.
Twisting her body as she waved through the battlefield, the young woman hoped Lutein was more fortunate than her. Eclipsing the pyramid, Casca called off her flight and let her body return to the ground as she chased to the second, and somehow, unclaimed loot box. Seeing the surprise in the Namekian’s mystery crate, she would be happy with any lifeline. Within a ten-meter proximity, the droid reacted to the presence of the young woman.
The droid surveyed higher, aiming its forward cannons at the now confused Saiyan. Shielding herself from a defunct droid, she braced to fight a new kind of monster. The attack never came as the droid was kicked into the neighboring wall of the coliseum. Stepping from the rubble, the hooded Tribute made his presence known by his transformed body displacing the loose rubble around him as he walked to face Casca.
“What the —,” the Saiyan exclaimed at the destruction of her last hope. Her first adventure into the realm of Forknite was over before it began. She collapsed to her knees and shut her eyes as she waited to get knocked out by the hooded figure.
Watching his investment take a dive, the Human for the first time tonight looked up from the games. Starring deeply into Ferra Calientes, the pheromones present throughout the air, Arthur sipped his alcohol. “So you bet on the male to win,” he stated bluntly, referring to her causing the transformation taking place below them on his champion when it was for hers.
“I’d bet on you if I could, honey,” the Arcosian added to the conversation. “You Earthlings, too smart for your own good sometimes,” she slid in while pointing to the glass separating them from the now blood tarnished battlefield below. “Somethings you just can’t come back from,” she warned as the Earthling readjusted in his seat.
Arthur motioned one of the bar’s staff to meet him at his side. Pulling out a large bundle of off-world currency from his inside pocket, the Earthling handed the service the cash as he whispered his demands into its ear. “But sir, it is our most exp —,” the attendant was cut off by Arthur’s stare alone, deciding it better to be seen and not heard, he followed suit.
The line for Tribute Eight moved to three to one after the Earthling's request.