WELCOME, WELCOME, ALL AND ALL, TO ANOTHER CHALLENGER APPEARS, ANOTHER BLUE VERSUS RED ROUND. WHO WILL TRIUMPH? HOW MANY HEARTBEATS WILL SURVIVE? STEP RIGHT IN AND SIT RIGHT DOWN AND FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF!

The voice boomed over a cheap loudspeaker system of rigged megaphones strung together with telephone wire, attached to the trunks of the trees that lined the path to the playing field. The voice was male, nasal, buzzing, metallic.

They all walked through the entrance tent to the bleachers. There were two sets of bleachers on either side of the muddy field, stamped and gouged and cratered. The torn earth was covered with blood and guts and pieces of metal.

Both sets of bleachers slowly filled and everyone waited with their heads down as the loudspeakers crackled. They could hear the tripods coming through the woods and it scared them.

The tripods appeared, emerging from the trees at opposite ends of the muddy field. Clanking, smoking, and crying smoke, they looked like big metal crabs with long spider legs and multiple arms — fat oblong ovals of metal, standing thirty to forty feet tall on three spindly metal legs. Arms stuck out of their smooth round bodies every which way with axes and guns and chainsaws and buzzsaws and flamethrowers attached to them. Their metal skin was dented and slashed and burned. Their eyes, set into the front of the ovals, were old car headlights. They shrieked, their voices air sirens.

Beneath them, dangling between their spindly legs, were circular metal cages crammed full of naked people.

A CHALLENGER APPEARS! yelled the loudspeakers. WHO WILL IT BE? THE BLUE, WITH ITS DIVERSE CAGE OF DELEGATES, OR THE RED, WITH ITS SOLELY CAUSACIAN CAGE OF DELEGATES?

No one cheered. They just stared, dead-eyed.

LAST TRIPOD WITH A HEARTBEAT IN ITS CAGE IS THE WINNER!

All the people in the cages were naked and mewling and wet-eyed with insanity, clutching and grasping like blind things. The blues were all diverse- some were female, some were male, all were of various races. The reds were all caucasian males. They were packed into the cages, immobile, their arms and legs sticking out through the bars and kicking like insect limbs.

The tripods slammed their weapons together and blared their siren voices. Their spindly legs sank into the muck, making more pits and craters and sending up gouts of muddy water and guts and blood.

AND LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEE!

The tripods charged each other, weapons blazing.

The delegates were fucked.

The tripods slashed and shot at each other. The cages were utterly defenseless and more blood and guts splashed onto the ground as each weapon connected. The metal bars were no defense. The delegate’s screams and wails couldn’t be heard over the sounds of battle and the roars of the tripods. They were torn apart; a helpless, brutal affair.

The round was over relatively quickly.

The red won. The red usually won. The blue’s chainsaws and axe blades were no match for the red’s machine guns and flamethrowers. It sprayed the blue’s cage with flame and bullets as the blue tried to get close, roasting the delegates, rending them limb from limb with hot metal. By the time it was over, the blue’s cage looked like it had a huge lump of charred, smoking, wet towels hanging from its bars. The blue connected with the red a few times but arms and legs still wagged from the red’s cage as the round drew to a close, Moans and screams could still be heard. Eyebrows in the bleachers were singed from the flames and eardrums were shattered by the roars but but the audience members didn’t dare move.

AND ITS THE RED, TAKING HOME THE TRIUMPH! blared the loudspeakers once the blue detatched its shredded corpse-filled cage and set it in front of the red as a signal of defeat. RED, WALKING AWAY WITH SEVEN HEARTBEATS STILL IN RHYTHM!

The tripods touched weapons and retreated back into the woods to their corners. To have their cages refilled for the next match.

WE’LL SEE YOU NEXT TIME. PLEASE EXIT IN AN ORDERLY FASHION AND REMEMBER, ONLY ONE MAY TRIUMPH.

Everyone filed out of the venue, their ears ringing.

Everything is a work in progress.

Everything is a work in progress.