Welcome to the Murderdome

Image by u_91c4jx8lri from Pixabay

[Going live in 3, 2 …]

“Let’s get ready to MUURR-DDERRR!!!”

[Cue theme: (music plays and graphics flash on screen) Cut to booth in 3, 2 …]

“Good evening, folks, and welcome to the Murderdome! I’m Damiyen Glaz, here with my favorite color commentator, Argun Zandr. Say hi, Argun!

“Hi, folks. You’re in for a real treat. For tonight’s match-up, we’ve got the Parchmann Punishers going up against the CP Stranglers. And, let me tell you, this is a real grudge match.”

“That’s right, Argun. This rivalry goes back almost to the Intergalactic Death Ball Federation’s founding. And, the Punishers have dominated it for the past 5 seasons. And, last year’s lopsided 78-0 victory sent the entire Stranglers squad back to Death Row.”

“Yeah, the boys from CP are still smarting from that one. But this new squad has really come along this year. Let’s hope these young kids are up to the challenge that the seasoned veterans of Parchmann are presenting.”

“Well, Argun, that’s a tall order. One that only gets taller when you remember that the winner of this game will represent Earth at SuperDome XVII on Gliese.”

“That’s right, Damiyen. This one’s for all the marbles.”

“Exactly. And, on that note, let’s go to Cohlin Phlanx in the studio for an overview of the game for some of our new viewers.”

[Cut to studio in 3, 2 …]

“Thanks, Damiyen. Now, for those of you who are new to Intergalactic Death Ball, you’re in for a real treat because this game is non-stop action. And, by ‘non-stop action’, I mean it’s filled with the old ultraviolence. And, believe me, there is no shortage of it as all the players are convicted felons serving time for violent crimes.

[Cue interactive field graphic in 3, 2…]

Now, the game plays out on a 150×80-meter field with a large hoop at each end suspended 10 meters high. The teams, 9 players per side, try to move the ball down the field and through the opponents’ goal. But it’s not quite as easy as it sounds because the ball’s diameter is a few centimeters less than the opening in the goal. And the use of hands isn’t allowed, you only strike the ball with the bandy, a curved stick anywhere from 50 to 90 centimeters long. It’s not all hard cheese though.

[Bring up the equipment graphic]

The players are equipped with powered exo-skeletons and grav boots. Not only does that help with scoring and stick handling, it also makes for some crazy action. Contact between the players is not only allowed, it’s encouraged. And, the rougher, the better.

[Now, the scoring graphic…]

As for scoring, each goal counts for 6 points. and the gameplay continues through 4 fifteen-minute periods. And, the clock doesn’t stop for anything. Of course, the winner is the team with the highest score, while the losers’ sentences get extended by 6 months for every point of their losing margin. And, Damiyen noted earlier, if a team is shut out or loses by more than 10 points, they earn an express ride to the execution chamber. Okay, now that you’re all up to speed, let’s get back to the arena for tonight’s action!”

[Cut to location in 3, 2 …]

“Thanks for that excellent synopsis, Cohlin. All right, both teams are lining up at midfield which can only mean we’re about to kick things off. And, here comes the referee, moving down the sideline with the ball to set up the drop. I don’t know about you, Argun, but I’ve seen a huge difference in these games since the league went to android officiating.”

“Oh, for sure, Damiyen. The robots are better at keeping up with the action and can’t be swayed no matter how violent the players get. But, I will admit to missing having human officials out there. It’s like the game has lost a little bit of its soul.”

“Same here, Argun. But, I understand the league’s reasoning. After that incident with Attica Assailants a few years back, it was practically impossible to find an actual human to take on the job.”

“That is true. But, it’s just not the same anymore.”

“No, it’s not. All right, it looks like we’re getting underway now. The referee has given the signal and the 5-second clock is ticking down… and there it goes! The ball drops into play and bounces high off the midfield line. Both teams rush in to take control, and the Stranglers come up with it. Center-halfback Ahron Elden drops back to pick up a couple of blockers. He’s got them… and they’re off to the races! Boy, that Elden kid is really something. He’s so fast. And, just look at that stick handling! Oh, this is going to be one whale of a game. Don’t you think, Argun?”

“Yes, it is Damiyen. Elden is one of the newest members of the squad, having joined after a murder conviction. He brings new blood to a roster that’s mostly filled with last year’s B squad. But, these guys are thirsty for Punisher blood tonight. And, I think they’re going to get it.”

“Oh! There’s the first of it, right there. One of Elden’s blockers, Grald Treye, has just ridden Punisher Jaxon Blayde into the electric fence atop the wall. And, he is out of play.”

“That’s putting it mildly, Damiyen. 240 volts is painful. If not lethal.”

“That’s true, Argun. The Stranglers continue their drive for the Punishers’ goal as the medi-bots scoop up Blayde and get his body off the field.”

“You know, Damiyen, I think the crowd is cheering his limp body being carried off almost as loudly as when he was electrocuted.”

“I think you’re right, Argun. Okay, Elden is setting up for another run on the goal. His last was cut off by a couple of Punisher backfielders at the last minute. He comes out from behind the goal, circles around in front, and he’s all by himself. Rack Adryan of the Punishers comes out to welcome the new kid to the league. And, Korb Curtyx blindsides him! Oh, that was a mighty hit.”

“Yes, it was. Curtyx knocked him a good 3 meters. And, Adryan is getting up. But he’s getting up slowly.”

“Okay, the Stranglers are set and Elden makes another run on the goal. He jukes left, picks up a blocker. He’s got the ball up on his stick. He feints a shot on the goal, then smacks it through the hoop! The CP Stranglers are first on the board.”

“That was an impressive shot, Damiyen. I don’t think the goalie could’ve stopped even if he hadn’t been faked out of his socks.”

“Absolutely, Argun. That Elden kid is going places. And, I don’t just mean back to Raleigh.”

“True. If he keeps performing like that, he’ll find that prison life might not be so bad.”

“Yes, but it’ll still be prison and certainly the best place for scum like him. Okay, the teams are back at midfield and officials are setting up for the drop. Everyone is lined up and the referee signals… and here we go! Parchmann takes control this time.”

“Let’s see what they can do with their first possession of the game. This could set the tone for the rest of the night.”

“You are so right, Argun. What happens n—. Look out, the Punishers’ Spears is on a breakaway! He drives for the Stranglers’ hoop looking for the easy point. And, the Stranglers’ Hankston delivers a mighty check, crashing Spears into the boards!

“What an awesome use of the grav boots, coming up from below like that!”

“Absolutely, Argun. The ball goes flying and is snagged by Durkee for the Stranglers as he attempts to turn the tables on Parchman. But the boys from the DeepSouth aren’t having it. They’re coming for him hard.”

“Oh, it’s not looking good for Durkee. Some of those Punishers look like they want a little payback.”

“Yes, they have him boxed in. How’s going to get out of this? Holtzmann’s coming up on the left side and none of the Punishers seem to see him. What’s he got cooking? Durkee takes the ball up on his stick. Oh, what a pass! Right over the mob’s head. Holtzmann picks it up and drives for the Parchmann hoop. He’s a defenseman, not a forward, and this isn’t really his game.”

“No, it’s not, Damiyen. But, the Punishers’ defense got pulled out to gang up on Durkee and the field is wide open. The only thing between him and glory is the Parchmann goalie.”

“That is true, Argun. Holtzmann continues his drive as the Parchmann goalie watches him like a hawk. He moves in, angling for his shot. He feints low, then bounds up and scores! Oh, what a play!”

“Again, excellent use of the grav boots. I think we’re getting a first-hand look at what CP’s doing in practice.”

“You’re right, Argun. I don’t think I’ve ever seen CP rely on them as much as they are tonight. They are really taking it to Parchmann.”

“That’s right, Damiyen. It looks like the Stranglers are out for blood tonight.”

“You’re not joking, Argun. It looks like Spears is still down.”

[Cut back to opposite end of field. Zoom in on Spears]

“Yes, he is. I think the Stranglers may be trying to win this match by taking out the Punishers’ entire lineup!”

“If so, they’re well on their way because Parchmann is having to go deeper into their bench than ever before. They can’t afford to lose too many more players.”

“And, unless the Punishers can score at least once, they’ll meet the same fate as last year’s Stranglers squad.”

“That may be exactly the kind of payback CP is looking for, Argun. Whatever their strategy, CP is playing for keeps tonight.”

“They certainly are. Okay, the teams are lining up for another drop. The official gives the signal and there it goes! Parchmann comes up with it again. Fafnir, their top scorer, takes it. And, he’s immediately plowed by 3 Stranglers.”

“Wow, that was savage! Let’s see if he can continue after a hit like that. If not, it may be all over for the Punishers.”

“Exactly what I was thinking, Argun. Uh oh, looks like trouble is brewing. Hankston, CP’s enforcer, is squaring up with Wardams from the Punishers. These are two tough customers. They were both spending as much in lockdown as out before they joined their teams. This could get rough.”

“Definitely, Damiyen. And, that little tête-à-tête is drawing in more players. If it reaches critical mass, things will get interesting.”

“Oh yes, that would be bad. If this turns into a brawl, who knows what will happen? And, I think we’re about to find out. Things appear to be getting heated down there.”

Yes, it does. If this— Oh, Wardams is down! Brax of the Stranglers bushwhacked him with a stick to the back of the head. It’s on, now.”

“For sure, Argun. This has descended into one big furball. I don’t know about you, but I would not want to be in the middle of that.”

“You got that right. Those things are rough on the edges, but down in the pile? It’s all teeth, knees, and elbows.”

“It looks like things are about to liven up even more because the android officials are being pulled back. That can only mean the emergency squad is coming out and those boys don’t play.”

“Oh yes. If they do, some of these players probably aren’t going home tonight.”

“Wait, something new is happening. The gate has opened for the riot squad and the scrum has broken up! The players seem to be organizing to take on the guards and — oh my, they’re catching the squad in the flanks as they come through the gate! Argun, we may be looking at a prison break in progress, here.”

“You know, I believe you’re right, Damiyen. If the inmates overpower the guards and get their wea—. Too late, that’s exactly what they’ve done.”

“Argun, in all your time covering these contests, has anything like this ever happened?”

“Only once and it was put down. Harshly. I hope these boys have a better plan than we did.”

“We? What does that mean, Argun?”

“It means I was there, you obsequious prick.”

“But, you said there were no survivors!”

“No, Damiyen, I said it was put down ‘harshly’. Some of us got away.”

“Yo— you were a prisoner?”

“I was. And, I was a damn good deathball player, too. You might remember me. I went by Garreth Bohin, back then.”

“Yes, I do. I also remember you being the most savage enforcer the game has ever seen.”

“Thank you, Damiyen. It’s nice to be appreciated.”

“That wasn’t appreciation, it was… what are you doing? Where did that knife come from?”

[Should we cut away?]

[No, stay with this. Imagine the ratings if we catch a murder on air]

“It’s time to mete out some justice, Damiyen. You’ve spent years profiting from the misery of others and it’s time your account was settled.”

“What are you talking about, ‘profiting from the misery of others’? I’m just a sports announcer!”

“Oh, we both know you’re more than that, Damiyen. You’re the head of the IDBF media franchise. And, I have it on good authority that you made the call to televise the execution of last year’s Stranglers’ team after that shutout. What was it you said? Oh yeah, ‘The ratings will be through the roof!’ How much did you make on that?”

“I, I — not that much.”

“I heard it was 4 million credits. That sound about right?”


“What was that?”

“6. I picked up a 6 million credit bonus.”

“Uh-huh. I’d say that qualifies as ‘profit’, wouldn’t you?”

“I — wait, what are you doing?”

“It’s time to pay up, Damiyen. Now, just relax and this will go easier.”

“It will?”

“For me, yes. For you, it’s going to suck no matter what.”