Crucible: Gods of the Arena

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Re: Crucible: Gods of the Arena

Post by Halomek »

Skarrek was a mess of wounds when Verax unexpectedly called for a halt in the training with Melis. It took a few moments for the Felacatian to calm down enough to stop fighting, but she was definitely making progress in controlling herself. It was more than Skarrek could say for himself. He was no closer to re-mastering his bloodrage than he had been before.

“What's the big idea, Verax?!” Melis demanded with a somewhat uncharacteristic growl. Her primal side was still fresh in her memory, so it would take a little time before she was back to her more playful self.

Verno Lamai stepped out from behind Verax. The Gossam majordomo had been all but hidden behind the much larger and bulkier Tarc. His face made the approximation of a grimace for his species as he got closer to Skarrek and saw what kind of shape he was in. “My word, how can you even stand in that kind of condition, Skarrek?”

Skarrek spit blood out of his mouth in contempt of the idea that he would be anything but standing. “I've suffered worse. What do you want?”

Verno gave him a long measuring look before shaking his head. “New orders from Lord Dorval: effective immediately you're to train exclusively with Verax for the next three days. A fight to the death has been scheduled with you and Verax on one side and Asael and Mandalore on the other. I'll go over the specific rules with you later, but whoever wins will take the wild card spot for their kajidic to be on the winning side of the Third Battle of Vontor.”

“I don't really get this Vontor thing,” Melis spoke up. “A few of the other gladiators have told me about it, but it makes no sense. If everybody already knows which side is going to win, then why bother?”

“Hutts never miss an opportunity to brag about how great they are,” Skarrek answered her with a derisive tone directed at the idea.

“It's more than that,” Verno added. “The recreation of the Third Battle of Vontor is the biggest event on Nar Kresh. The kajidics go all out for the spectacle. Trust me, everything you've experienced so far is nothing compared to how they handle Vontor. That's mainly what keeps attracting audiences to it every year. Besides, there's always a remote chance that Xim's side might win in spite of everything that's stacked against them. The few times it has happened in the past, it usually signals the emergence of a new God of the Arena and no one who follows the games wants to miss that. It's said that's how Shorbecca earned his title, though that was so long ago that only those belonging to the longer-lived species had a chance to see that particular battle live.”

Melis smiled mischievously. “When you put it that way, that does sound fun!”

“Verax has participated in it many times,” the Tarc spoke up. “It never fails to impress him. Trinivii has never made it to the winning side with Lady Sivvi in charge. Lord Dorval has accomplished much to bring us this far. Verax would like to be on the winning side for once.”

Skarrek just shook his head. “I could care less, but if it gets me closer to what Dorval has promised, then it's all a means to an end. I'll crush whoever I need to. Asael and Mandalore are just two more bodies for the pile.”

“Well, there's also your life to consider,” Verno reminded Skarrek. “Either you win or you die. Same goes for Direj. Don't underestimate Asael for even a second. Or Mandalore. As they proved with Shorbecca, not even a God of the Arena is immune to death.”

“No god is,” Skarrek agreed.

“Riiight,” Verno replied as he tried to decipher Skarrek's somewhat cryptic remark. “In any case, I've already informed Doctor Varden that our best bacta reserves are to be used for you two while you train. So, Skarrek, go see him and get healed up immediately. Considering how fast you seem to heal on your own, it shouldn't take too long before you're ready to train in earnest with Verax. Melis, you look like you're still in decent shape, so go get something to eat and then resume normal training with our other gladiators.”

“Righto!” Melis agreed happily before bounding away.

“Verax would like to request a moment with Skarrek before he leaves,” Verax asked Verno.

The majordomo nodded before he started walking away. “Granted, but don't take too long. I can't stress enough how important this match will be for Trinivii.”

Verax waited until Verno had left their training area before facing Skarrek. The Tarc gestured towards him with his upper set of hands. “Verax knows Skarrek has not made any progress controlling his bloodrage. How much damage can you take before you fall in your normal state?”

“I'm not sure,” Skarrek admitted. “Usually I've been in a bloodrage whenever someone has come close to killing me in the past. If I wasn't in a bloodrage, then I never considered my life to be in danger.” A spark of an old memory surfaced, one that Skarrek hadn't really thought about for a long time. Strange that it was coming up now...

“There was one time when I was in Black Sun that some bounty hunter got lucky and electrocuted me to stop me from killing his bounty,” he growled. “They were wearing armor that hid their features, so I never found out who it was, but I swore to myself that I'd kill him slowly if I ever ran across him again. I'm pretty sure that was the first time I ever failed to kill my target.”

“Verax didn't think Barabels could be affected by energy like that,” the Tarc interjected, no doubt to try and keep Skarrek's mind on the present topic.

Skarrek held up one of his forearms for demonstration purposes. There was a nasty gash across it that had been caused by Melis, but it offered a look at the flesh behind the scales. “Barabels have a layer of insulating fat right under our thick scales that helps makes us so resilient. Aside from physical wounds, we're protected from a lot of energy that would affect frailer creatures, like stun bolts, but nothing is absolute. Normal blaster bolts can still harm us, for example, even though we can probably take being shot a lot better than most species.”

He lowered his arm. “In the case of the bounty hunter, he zapped me through the thinner scales that cover my palms. Ever since that day, I wore insulated fingerless gloves to prevent it from happening again. I'd still be wearing them now if I had a choice down here. My old pair were destroyed when the people who captured me trapped me under burning rubble.”

Verax nodded in understanding. “It is usually forbidden to give gladiators blasters unless that is the purpose of the match, but electrowhips are always a possibility. Would they be a problem for Skarrek?”

“It depends on how intense the voltage is,” Skarrek answered after giving it a little thought. “Most people aren't familiar enough with Barabel physiology to even think about changing it.”

Verax nodded. “Then Verax knows how he will begin the training once Skarrek is healed. Your ability to take damage and keep fighting is one of your greatest assets, but Verax thinks you should learn how to dodge better and not take damage at all. Additionally, he will fight you with an electrowhip and teach you how to deal with a whip-user. Majordomo Verno was correct when he said not to underestimate Asael. He may already know many of the same things you have told Verax about Barabels.”

“Asael would hardly be the first person I've faced who thought they knew how to kill me,” Skarrek argued, but then reluctantly nodded. “Still... such training would be useful...”

“Then go see Doctor Varden and get healed,” Verax ordered. “Once it is done, return here for training. There is much that Verax must teach and not a lot of time for Skarrek to learn it.”

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