In Version; Chapter 104, Brown 271

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Stories from the Verse
In Version
Chapter 104:  Brown 271
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Beam 186

“Derek,” 1942 spoke as they all waited on the roof, and Derek breathed in deeply.  The idea of getting in a fight, of deliberately seeking one out, did not bother him too much.  But doing it in front of a large crowd bothered him.  “We have an opportunity.  We can put you into both the unarmed and the primitive armed weapons categories.  I know, honored hero, we have only mentioned doing one, but that was because we were checking to see if it was legal.”

“I thought you were going to say that it was time to go.”

“No, ten more minutes.” Again Derek wondered why this alien empire without Humans other than the four versers used English measurements.  1942 waited next to him, its fronds plucking out food particles faster than normal from the aquarium ball it lived in.


“You’d do great in either or both.”


“Double the chances.”  Bob did not say that they would win any championship.  There were too many fighters and way too many unknowns for them to claim that as a certainty. 

“I’ll do it.” Derek said.

“We of the Lannissary Great Mother Kelp Betting Cartel are very pleased to have made your acquaintance, brave warrior.”


The next minutes slid by, both too fast and too slow.  It was time.  Slade and Shella went with the Parakeet driver.  Derek, his robot, Vashti, and 1942 went with Ystrang, his Chombito chauffeur-guide.  Airborne and on their way in seconds they arrived twenty minutes later over an arena whose eye-twisting nature had Derek leaning back from the window as they began to descend.

“What is that?”

“I do not understand,” 1942 said.

“I do,” the Chombito said.  “Reality layers.  Folding spacetime over on itself to give everyone of the five hundred--yes, five hundred eighty nine thousand, two hundred thirteen spectators a good view.  I should have realized, Derek, you’re not familiar with this.”

“It is expensive.  Perhaps--” 1942 said pensively.

“Will it make a difference on the field?”

“No, just don’t  look too long at the crowd,” Ystrang said.  1942 agreed.  Derek bit his lip.  Another thing to worry about.  And he had thought that a crowd of twenty thousand would be big.

The flying car dropped through the ripples, and for a second Derek felt ghostly flutters throughout his whole body.  But it subsided, and they landed.  He got out with Vashti following him.  There were others in the parking lot, just like him--Dvandar, Anders, Chombitos, Chlorophytes, Parakeets, and many others whom he could tell were combatants.  Many of them already carried weapons, but others had companions who carried their weapons for them.

The car now empty was lowered down a lift into the ground, and a Parakeet Official Competitor Guide was yelling at him and the others to ‘move along, others need to land’, so he moved forward, merging into a crowd with about fifty others.  An Anders bounced off his left arm, and bared its flat, large teeth at him.

“Human weakling.”  Derek shrugged.  It was just trash talk--but the word ‘Human’ set off a reaction as everyone in the crowd of competitors turned to see someone from the famed fiftieth Lesser Race.  This spread to a nearby group of beings who were just standing around with equipment in their hands.  Suddenly all hundred of them were charging his direction.  He and Slade drew their weapons, prepared to sell their lives dearly, when a dozen guardbots raced in from the right.

These robots were pillars with short arms on top of trackballs, and some sort of faint pink foam sprayed from each of their right hands.  The foam hit the charging crowd’s legs and feet, and suddenly no one was moving forward in that crowd.  The foam-stuck crowd then began to shout out requests for interviews, and for ‘the Humans to wave their weapons’.  Derek slid his knife back into place, noting that he had instinctively drawn his butcher knife rather than the other better knife.

“Paparazzi scum,” said the Anders behind him.  “You are quick to fight.  This is good.  Maybe you are not weak.”

“We will see,” Derek replied.

The warriors and their immediate supporters walked forward into a tunnel, and then out into an arena space.  It was circular, with a diameter of two hundred yards.  The ground was dirt like the micro Coliseum.  A dozen circles, each thirty yards across, were positioned about the arena floor.  He knew the numbers because all this data was displayed on a screen box the size of a semi truck and rig hanging a hundred feet above the arena.  He recognized the gravity emitters holding it up as Chlorophyte work.

Looking up, he saw names and races listed.  There were many, but only one he had eyes for.

Commander Derek Brown, Twice Honored Hero of the Caliphate:  Primitive Unpowered Weapons:  HUMAN


Apprentice Master Gravitic Technician Daxro, Green Rank Stick:  Primitive Unpowered Weapons:  CHLOROPHYTE

Parakeet guides were separating the groups of supporters from their respective fighters, who were being guided to their individual fighting circles.  Escorted by a Parakeet, Derek stepped over a six-inch high boundary ring of fluorescent orange foam.  Across from him on the far side of the ring a single little green man, three and a half feet tall, was also stepping into the ring.  In its right hand was a four foot long stick.  Behind it a dozen supporters were there, mostly Chlorophyte.  A pillarbot rolled out into the middle of the circle.

“The rules are simple.  If you voluntarily concede by stating ‘I surrender’ or if you are unable to do so but the referee believes you are attempting to do so, you lose.  If you step out or are otherwise forced out of the ring, you lose.  If you are knocked unconscious, you lose.  This may be different for some other races, but both of you have similar body effects.  If you display undue cowardice, you lose.  If you display sufficiently bad behavior, you lose.  If you are incapacitated for more than ten seconds, you lose.  If you continue to attack after the referee has instructed you to stop, you lose.”

The pillarbot paused.

“Are there any questions?”  From nearby rings, Derek could hear some of the other pillarbots using different words, but he put that from his mind, even as he heard Vashti and Shella yell for him.

Derek looked over at Daxro, and both shook their heads no at the same time.

“Display your skill and bravery before the Throne World.  Begin the fight!”  The pillarbot rolled back to the edge of the circle, and the two began walking toward each other.  Daxro called out.

“I get lucky.  I fight the famous Human.  Even if I lose, this is good.  But better if I win.”  He spun his stick smoothly.

“I get to fight the famous Daxro,” Derek replied with a smile.

“Pah,” Daxro replied, but Derek could see he was pleased.  All right, it was going to be a friendly match.  Even so, he needed to win.  Making a last-second decision, he drew out his butcher knife and his frying pan.  This brought a look of shock to Daxro’s face as he apparently tried to comprehend what form of a weapon the frying pan was.  Giving him no time to think, Derek bolted forward.

He feinted with a slide to the outside with his knife, holding frying pan back as if it were an odd club.  The Chlorophyte slid to the side, and Derek brought the frying pan down.  Daxro blocked it with both hands on his staff, and Derek went in for a gut stab.  But the agile warrior used one end of its staff to deflect the knife while shoving Derek’s frying pan out of the way with the other.  Derek was almost wholly open, so he did the only thing he could.  He kicked Daxro in the knee, and when the stickwielder came back for a smash on his skull, Derek retaliated by a wide smash on Daxro’s skull with the frying pan.  Daxro fell, and rolled about, trying to get up.

“Hold, hold!” the pillarbot shouted as it advanced rapidly, but Derek had no intention of hitting the Chlorophyte again.  He had heard the klonk, and knew that he had probably fractured a skull.  The Bilitate medics came out and took Daxro away, but not before Daxro was able to say, “Good fight, Human.”

“You too, Daxro,” Derek replied. The crowd took notice of his victory with a chant of ‘HOOOMAAAAN’ repeated three times before it died off in a pathetic fourth attempt.  The chant shivered the air, so great was its intensity and volume.

Blue medics took him to the side and tended him as well.  Within five minutes, he was no longer aching.  That gave Bob an opportunity to congratulate him and give a few tips in anticipation of the next fight.  Meanwhile, dozens of other fights came and went.  Most of the fights were quick, less than five minutes, and with a dozen rings in use at once, there was always more to see than could be comprehended.  It was overwhelming for the crowd, by design; for the fighters not so much, as most focused on their own fights once they entered the circle.

Bob’s turn came, and he flattened a Parakeet in less than ten seconds.  Returning, he asked Derek whether there was anything he noticed that could be improved; Derek did not.  That left them with another twenty minutes before Derek’s next fight.  Each fight was about an hour apart, depending on how quickly the rings cleared from previous fights.  Calmer now, and realizing he had gone to his first fight with hidden jitters that had affected his focus, he walked out to a new ring led by a Parakeet guide to face another combatant in the primitive weapons division.

Tomorrow, he had been told, would be unarmed combat.

Soon enough it was his turn to fight again.  This time he faced a Tadaklin, which attempted to crush him by rolling over him, but he was able to run rings around it, and hammer it down.  It was aggressive, but any sort of bipedal who did not trip would be able to defeat it.  Two Parakeets came after that, and then his first loss to a Roukli, a flying squirrel with no fur.  His knife slid off its leathery skin and flexible body, and then it jumped him, and wrapped him up until he was forced to choose between ‘I surrender’ and blacking out.  He forced himself to be reasonable.  He did consider shapeshifting, but he wanted to keep that as a secret so he took the loss.

After that, the fights began to blur together.  Although he noted something toward the day’s end, in his eleventh or twelfth fight.  Several of the warrior races were simply out-endured by the Humans.  The Dvandar were one of the worst.  By the tenth hour, they were all eliminated because they could barely stand up any longer due to exhaustion.  By the fifteenth hour, he lost his last fight, and was disqualified from advancing in the rankings for the Preliminary Trials.  He really wanted to keep on watching Slade disassembling further combatants, but he fell asleep with his head in Vashti’s lap as they waited on the edge of the arena.

Next chapter:  Chapter 105:  Kondor 246
Table of Contents

There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eleven other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #493:  Verser Engagements.  Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.  It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.

As to the old stories that have long been here:

Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel

Old Verses New

For Better or Verse

Spy Verses

Garden of Versers

Versers Versus Versers

Re Verse All

In Verse Proportion

Con Verse Lea
Stories from the Verse Main Page

The Original Introduction to Stories from the Verse

Read the Stories

The Online Games

Books by the Author

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M. J. Young Net

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