This is the story of how I took a gamble and from it, was born a Dream. Are you willing to listen to it?
Now, because I'm a guy with a pulse, everyone assumes I'm a G-head...
They'd be right.
Since I can remember, I've been a Fan of the G.A.M.E.Z.
Who wouldn't be?
They're an Elite Competition where only The Best of The Best walks away with the title of Champ and the singular prizes that come with it.
The action, and The Performance.
To have the chance to stand on that life altering stage and show everyone what I can do. To do that, I'd do just about anything.
When people hear that I'm from Zanarik, they usually follow it up by asking if I'm a G-head.
What can I say? I'll own it, I'm 1000% into the G's. No question.
Thing is, when I tell them I want in, it's always: “Who's your fighter?”
Mind you, I usually try to keep my yells in my own head when I'm with people I've just met, but every now and again they make it to the outside, scaring the living flarb out of whoever asked. Making it one less person I could pair with.
Tough for them. Not my fault I came out “precious” looking. It's just looks. Get Over It.
Whatever, I don't really care because I pack a punch. I like packing a punch.
Problem is when people manage to dodge my punches before they land, then it usually ends with a lift and toss.
Why'd I have to be such a “tiny” thing?
Well, no, that's not it. I don't mind my size. Height-wise I'm even a little on the tall side for a zan girl. The problem is that no matter how much I train, all I can manage is lean muscle. Which means, I can lift a fighter twice my size no sweat, but I'll always get passed over when it comes time to pair up, because everybody wants the muscles on muscles fighters. Leaving me as last pick.
Unless, it's to be a dancer... yay.
You see, my biggest problem is that for your average Zan male, I'm on the short side. Which is strike one, for being a Fighter.
Strike two, is that I also can't bulk up to save my life. Strike three? I don't want to be a Fighter.
Adding insult to injury, neither of the first two strikes, is a strike, for a Dancer. Dancer's need to be nimble and so being “short” and “slight” are usually advantages.
However, I'm not “slight” looking enough, to be a Dancer... Or so I've heard, over and over again.
But as much as I hear it, when I see myself; I see a guy who's 'average', which in terms of the G.A.M.E.Z. means that I can only be a Fighter... yay.
Now, don't misinterpret, I don't mind fighting. I know it's a pivotal part of a fight competition, which is why in my own way I give them their due by rendering them Fighters instead of fighters.
But as much as I can respect the position. As much as I appreciate its importance in the greater scope, to me, it's always been about the moves, about The Routine, and all the moves worth doing, go to the Dancer.
Fists, anybody can do, but grace, now that takes a sophistication not many have.
I've tried dancing, and I like it just fine and I'm even ut at it, but what I'm really after is the rush of combat. The thrill of going into a brawl where you don't know where things will swing and you have to make split-second decisions to answer to your opponents's moves. Doing everything it takes to come out on top. That's what the G's are all about to me.
I can appreciate a good performance just like anyone else watching, but sashaying across the arena while the others battle, isn't exactly my idea of a fun time.
Sometimes I wish there was a halfway mark somewhere. I know that dancing has its own thrill, but it just doesn't compare to the high of PURE BATTLE and since I can only have one, then I'm a fighter!
All the way.
I admire Dancing. I'm even decent at it. I've memorized all the moves in the G.A.M.E.Z.'s Official Intergalactic Choreography Handbook current edition and I can tell you each step with minute detail.
The problem is, my coordination goes missing in front of a crowd.
I could draw you the exact position for over a thousand different moves, but executing them while someone is watching. Gulp.
I'm not a total wreck, but I'm also nowhere near good enough to compete. Not even close. Spectators, or no spectators.
Which is a shame, because I actually do like to dance. I might even say I love it.
The rhythm, the style, the intricate patterns, it's all a wonderful, ethereal dream, I can never reach.
It might not even be such an impossible dream, if only I found the right partner. But as things stand there's only the one option and I don't want to be a Fighter.
I'm not extraordinary, so I can't be a Dancer.
That is just a fact, but that doesn't keep me from practicing everyday, hoping for a miracle.
Trying to improve enough to get it.
If I can't be one or the other, and be Good at it, I don't stand a chance to make a Team. At least not one that could actually pass The Trials, let alone make it to the G.A.M.E.Z.
So I'm stuck, wishing I could join, but knowing I'm lacking...
I've had almost a ridiculous amount of teammates over the years, but it always boils down to the same thing: They want a dancer, and I want to fight.
I can't help it. Even if I stick to the routine, my eyes always end up wandering to the action and next thing you know, I'm pummeling someone to the ground.
What can I say? You just can't tempt a girl like that and expect her to sit still. At least not this girl.
Not my fault not all my partners know when to duck.
I don't often get asked to partner, but it's not only because I'm not a popular Dancer, it's also because I've come to only accept, when it's with a Fighter.
I tried being the Fighter, but it's not a great fit, thus the other person needs to fill in that role to complete our duo.
I chose to be the Dancer. I prefer being the Dancer. But though I like it better, it's not quite right either.
If I'm being honest, I like both roles for the same reason.
It's the precision of executing a move, the fulfillment of completing The Routine perfectly, that is what I live for.
That, is what the G.A.M.E.Z. are about in my eyes. Roles, I've often thought, are simply something to be tolerated as a necessary evil.
I've had a few dancers who've paired with me, but the thing about dancers is, they just dance.
I mean, I know that's their job, but can't they like get outta the way?
Well, I know it's part of a fighter's job “to protect” the dancers and that's fine, but if you're gonna just stand there and pose then, good luck to you. I'm NOT waiting around on you when I could be pounding away on the other side.
Yea... When I can get to be a fighter, it usually ends with me fighting solo and that doesn't make for a popular fighter. Not by a long shot.
At this point, the only person who'd probably still pair with me is Denton. And even though he's been my friend since like, birth, and he's about the only person who might be more of a G-head than I am, he's about as popular a dancer, as I am a fighter.
Not exactly a great way to get those audience points.
Speaking'a Denton, I feel bad for him. He has even less luck with pairs, than I do. Whats worse, when he pairs with someone, they always quit on him.
If he's the fighter, his dancer will usually complain they feel exposed, even when Denton does his job.
With a fighter, Denton takes too long to pose and there's only so much a fighter can take before they decide to “hurry up” their own dancer... Not that I've done that or anything, just saying...
Having a dancer who can do their own thing and not get in the way. It's like my dream pair. If only he didn't freeze up, we might stand a chance.
Oh well, back to looking for a pair. Heard that asking around on Xarthil might work, seeing as they're a single sex species I think my chances might be really good, even if I might have to wait a while for my pair to get to Zanarik.
Maybe we could meet halfway? A couple hundred years is a long time to wait, but I'll do it if that's what I gotta do to fight.
It's only a few days until I get my License and I know I should be thrilled, but I can't help but dwell on how instead of being happy about the possibilities it brings, I'm only thinking about the possibilities it can't give me.
I stop walking when something shiny on the ground catches my eye.
It's a farth; someone must have dropped it. I bend to pick it up and I'm suddenly hit with a fancy-filled idea.
You know what they say about finding a farth; it means you'll have good luck, so why not?
I take it in my hand, put it into proper position, and I flip it into the air.
As I watch it spin round and round, the promise I've made to myself echoes in my mind: If it lands on lark, I'll take The Trials; if it doesn't, I'll move on. I'll find another dream.
The farth continues its ascent and as I look on, it starts to come back down. I extend my hand to catch it and when I do, I quickly cover it with my other one.
I hold my breath and close my eyes.
This is it. This will change my life, one way or the other.
My life. I think about that.
What would my life be like if I didn't follow the G.A.M.E.Z.? I wouldn't have half the friends I do, for starters. I'd have saved my parents lots of frigles that could've been used on things not G-gear. I could of used all that time sitting just watching each year on something more productive, like, I don't know, accounting?
I let out a gasp when my harshest realization hits me.
I wouldn't have Mayla in my life. That's almost guaranteed.
I mean, I know we're neighbors so we would've met. But what bonded us For Life was the simple fact that we're both hardcore G-heads. No question.
We caught each other's attention with our premium G-gear and that started a heated debate consisting of the gurgles and hiccups that our infant selves could manage. But even though those incomprehensible noises grew louder and also slightly more intelligible as we grew older, the frequency of our squabbles never waned.
As it happens, that persistent habit is what convinces everyone that meets us that we're bickering siblings, which isn't helped any by the fact that we kind of look alike. Which is something else we fight about.
Oh well, that's just how it goes, some days I might even say I wouldn't change it for anything.
Even if we have found we have other interests we share, our friendship has always had its roots, its foundation in our shared passion for the G.A.M.E.Z. Punches and all, we're bound G-heads For Life.
The G.A.M.E.Z. are where it all started and what it all comes down to.
I gaze down at the covered farth.
Is fighting for my dreams worth risking my life?
I look around at my surroundings. I think of my current path. Aimless wandering.
I take the farth in a single hand and simply pocket it.
If not my Dreams, then what is worth it? If I die, then I'll at least go while giving it my all.
I change my course and resume walking. The next stop on this daunting new journey is Mayla's dome. If I'm doing this, then there's only one person I want to do it with.
She'll need some talking into it, but, I know this'll work. It has to.
Even if I have to drag her to The Trials, we're doing this.
I pick up my pace and soon I arrive to her dome. I walk to the door but I soon change my trajectory when I hear a familiar sound coming from around back.
I'm not surprised to hear Mayla training, but I feel a grin spread on my face with the budding idea of just how I can get The Right Answer from her.
I stop and do a quick stretch. Then I turn the corner and watch her until I've locked on her timing.
As she passes the mark I've set, I let out a breath and send a silent thought out into the cosmos.
Wish me luck! I have a partner to catch.
I'm swiveling and preparing to launch myself into a midair tuck-roll when I feel a presence approaching me from behind.
When I catch a whiff of fighting sprit from it, I turn my launch's direction from going forwards to going towards my new enemy.
I'm a little surprised once I see who it is, but that doesn't keep me from springing off of Denton's raised arms and landing on the ground. As soon as I see that he's in it, to win it, I don't waste any more time. I go in for an uppercut, which he blocks, so I jump out of the way and onto a nearby platform.
“Nice block.” I shout down to him.
“Nice leap.” He answers, causing me to let out a short laugh.
“What's gotten into you? Huh, Dent? You decide you wanna be a fighter now?” I joke while I feel out my next move. I'm a better fighter, but I know he's one to watch out for.
“No. I'll be the Dancer as long as you're the fighter.” He answers.
I'm confused enough by his words, that I don't see him coming until he's almost on top of me.
I roll out of the way, but he still manages to catch one of my feet, causing me to slam down onto the floor.
Knowing I'm caught and that more trouble's bound to be on the way. I kick with my other foot, but Denton knows me well enough to see it coming and so he moves away from my kick and instead yanks me into range so he can lock me in a clinch.
“DARN IT DENT, GET OFF ME!!” I yell as I try to get enough leverage to push off his weight.
“Don't think so May, not until you say yes.”
“TO WHAT YOU VERTIGOCHALLENGEDWHAMBITT!?” I ask as I keep struggling.
“To being my partner.” He whispers into my ear, causing me to shiver.
“You're not serious.” I answer, his tone causing me to lose some of my edge.
“I am. I'm old enough to enter in a few days and I don't want to spend the rest of my life wondering what if. I'm going for it and I want to do it with you.”
I stop moving.
“We're not a good match Denton.” I roll my eyes because this is an argument we've had a zirrion times before.
“We've tried it. We're just too alike as people and not enough alike where it counts.”
“On the field is where it counts May. In the arena. I know we can do it. I just know that between the two of us we can pull this off!”
I finally find the right spot and I push, bucking him off. I turn around to peer over the edge and I snap my fingers when I see that it's a miss.
Blasted Denton's like a lunx when it counts. Huh. He does always land on his feet, doesn't he?
“Why you suddenly so onboard for the trials?” I shout down to Denton as he brushes himself off.
“And don't give none of that existential lugflarb, what's really going on?”
He looks up at me and stares me straight in the eyes.
“I've had, an epiphany: Some things are worth going crazy unimaginable lengths to obtain. Even if they might mean the end, even then, I'd rather end trying, than never trying at all.” I can't help but stare.
“And you're the only person I know who's crazy enough to be willing to try with me.”
I rip of my shoe and throw it at him. I let out a whoop when I hit him right where I aimed for.
I should of seen it coming, but I didn't.
Her triumphant war cry isn't exactly helping me feel better either, but I'm not giving up.
I pick myself back up and knowing what she's expecting me to do, I do throw the shoe. But I give it a little extra charge and aim for the joint that's holding up the platform.
It buckles down, but she's too good to be caught off guard and instead she's gracefully landing next to me. Barely anything above a scratch on her.
“Nice trick.” We say at the same time to each other. After which we both let out an irony filled chuckle.
“You for real?” She asks me, while staring me down.
I solemnly nod my head.
“Well, I suppose you are closer than Xarthil.” Is what I think she mutters to herself. Knowing her, she might just have such an unrealistic backup plan.
“UT, but it's all or nothing and I am NOT going down without a fight. We practice everyday from now till the trials, we run, we dance, we sync, we do nothing but live and breath duo till time's up. You got that?” I'm smiling on the inside; I knew what I'd be getting myself into if I got a 'yes'.
“You give it everything you got and I will too.” She holds out her fist to seal the deal. I don't hesitate for an instant before I reach out and bump it.
“Let's go put a dent into those losers, huh twirly?” She laughs at her own “joke”, but I don't bother answering.
Didn't see that coming either. If she's calling me Dent, and making stupid jokes about it; she's as nervous as I am about this...
That means we're agreed: there's no turning back.
The training has been brutal, but I think we're ready, and just in time too. Summer is here and that means, our time is up.
We've done everything we could. I've helped May get her fighting up to regulation and she's helped drill me. I've got my Dance moves committed to muscle memory so thoroughly, I'm constantly waking up to finding myself, or my bed, in a different position.
It's inconvenient, and sometimes a little hard to explain to the rest of the fam, but if I'm starting to do them in my sleep, it's working and it's worth it. It will hopefully get me moving when I need it.
But all that's the bare basics. Any Team needs that to compete. The real breakthrough we've had, is that we've finally figured out how to duo for real.
It's comical how long it took us to see it.
You see, Mayla and I have always meshed well in life, but the few times we've tried to fight together it just doesn't work, and we've never really been able to pinpoint why.
That is, until we tried a scoring simulator.
Now, we'd tried simulations before, but not ones that scored based on the real G.A.M.E.Z. scoring system; not from lack of wanting, but lack of age. You see, the real G.A.M.E.Z. operate on a few essential rules, the first of which kept our access restricted. The whole list being:
You must have a License to participate.
You must be part of a duo to fight.
Your duo must pass either The Summer or The Winter Trials to be allowed to compete.
The match begins as soon as you step into the arena.
Only the duo with the highest score after the overall calculation moves on in the Tournament, this is unappealable.
The match is over when a duo is unable to continue or gives up. If a duo surrenders, then their score is invalidated and the opposing Team automatically advances.
Besides the rules of the scoring system itself, that's it. Everything else, goes.
Unlike the simulators we'd used up to now this one didn't ask for one of us to register as the Dancer and the other as the Fighter. It only asked for a Team name and then its only other concern was to score us according to The Routine, the Judges's impressions and the audience's response. Just like in the real G.A.M.E.Z.
It was SO obvious, yet we never saw it. Made us feel like real startrucks for calling ourselves “Fans” when we skipped over such an obvious detail. Made me almost return my Fan Club Membership, but of course I didn't. If I go down, I wanna be remembered as a Fan.
Till now when we ran a sim, we'd get disqualified or at the very least get a low score, for not sticking to our roles, but with this new sim, came the reminder: those “specializations” only arose because of how the G.A.M.E.Z. are won, not the other way around.
As I said, it's comical.
But now that we know, it's been so much easier. Between the two of us, we can make up for each others failings.
As a Dancer I'm free to take my time and wait for the right opportunity to pose, but I can throw a punch if the need arises, a simple thing as far as I'm concerned, but a thing which other Fighter's don't appreciate.
As a Fighter, Mayla works by instinct and so thrives when she's free to react to our opponent's moves as they come, but, because she knows how I dance, all she needs is a reminder to assist when needed.
Our timings sync when they need to and we're more than happy to leave each other to our own tasks. An “independent” duo is unheard of, but it works for us. We have the passing simulation scores to prove it.
My only concern is that we could never find a real life duo to practice against, but we work in theory and in simulation so, it ought to be enough. Worse case scenario, we take this as a learning experience and try again in The Winter Trials.
If we can pass The Trials, then we'll be one step closer to our final goal. We're agreed that we want to make it all the way, and we'll do everything in our reach to get there, but the competition is harsh and though it is our modus operandi, I can't help but worry about how May and I don't always see eye to eye.
Mayla wants to win no matter what, and as part of the deal and our style, I'm u, youtee with leave the fighting vastly in her hands. I'm also mostly willing to follow her calls on the field, but there's a limit. I've always thought that an honorable loss is better than a win for our seconds. Who we haven't even named, and won't, because we're also agreed that if we don't make it, then what does our “team” matter? Our Team is Mayla and me. Which is why we've decided to call ourselves Mayhem.
We searched high and low, for a combo of our names that would “strike fear into the heart's of our enemies” or at least sound intimidating, but nothing we could come up with was Right. That's when we decided it was just better to stay true to ourselves and choose a name that represented us.
We settled on Mayhem. Technically it doesn't actually include my name, but it's close enough and I think it embodies us perfectly; we'll either cause it or have it. No third option.
I realize that strictly speaking if we win and either one of us doesn't make it, the other can still take The Fast Pass to the Returning Bracket with someone else next year. However if May's left alone, she might just go into battle unprepared, which is another reason I was all for not naming seconds. I'd like to know that if May tries again, it'll be with perspective and not out of blind, in the moment, bloodthirst for revenge. But beyond that, not having seconds is also because I've decided to take her own words to heart. It's All or Nothing.
All the way.
Even if we somehow got an offer from someone for some kind of sponsorship, I'd turn it down.
For me, there's NO coming back next year, alone or with her.
It's not that I'm trying to be tragic or dramatic or anything like that, it's more realistic. Simply put, if I don't think that this is it, I don't think I'll be able to give it my all. But being even more real?
I think it might be that deep down, I'll be too afraid to try again.
It's taken me practically all my life to try this once. I doubt I have it in me to try again. But well, that's neither here nor there. What matters now is the present, as redundant as that sounds.
The hard work to prepare for this next step is done. Now, it's time to put that work into action.
Trials, here we come.
I hand in our registration sheet, but I take it back and smooth it out a bit when the guy behind the counter gives me a 'what is wrong with you' look.
He takes it, but his face doesn't change. I shrug it off.
The thing is filled out, that's all he should care about.
“These are your standard contract forms, sign them and then you'll receive your Trial number. May I have your Licenses?”
Denton's face says he's not into it, when the word contract comes up but I don't see the problem, we knew signing up was gonna take some actual signing. I scratch my name out on the dotted line and hand back the contract along with my license.
“What's this clause about irrevocable consent?” Woah, that's some fancy, scary words.
“In essence it is that you agree that for as long as you remain a participant in The Trials you allow us to capture your every move and we retain full rights to this footage.”
“And screw our dignity, right?” I'm a little shocked at the tone Dent's got going on.
“You have viewed the G.A.M.E.Z. have you not?” Answers the guy, with the strangest little smile.
“I'll need a moment to read this. I'll be back.”
Dent walks away and not wanting to be left with creepster over here, I follow behind Dent.
“You really have to read it?” I ask, feeling impatient but knowing the answer already.
“I know what the G.A.M.E.Z. do, but that doesn't mean I don't want to at least read about what to expect. We've got an insider's view May. We shouldn't waste it.” I lift a shoulder.
“Suit yourself, just lemme know when you're done.”
He nods and gets back to reading the contract. Leaving me with nothing to do, but lean against the wall and wait.
Just as I think this'll bore my brains out, another pair of people walk up to the counter and hand in a sheet.
I can't tell from here, but I'd bet that they're registering too.
With them, that makes five other Teams. Not a bad turn out, but these are only The Trials, less than half of us, if even that will make it to the G's.
I feel my heart rate pick up with the anticipation of the thrill. I lick my lips and shift my shoulders around.
I finish reading the last paragraph and frankly, I think I need a barf bag.
I knew we were risking our lives, but, I thought the danger was out there. On the battlefield.
Not here. Well, not here from a minefield of legalities.
We're quite literally signing our lives away. The G.A.M.E.Z. contract clearly states that if we die, they aren't held accountable. If we're hurt, they aren't held accountable. If we leave, they have the right to chase us down. We can resign, but that's it. We either win, lose, quit and/or leave in a body bag.
And this is only a “standard contract”. I can't wait to see what the “real” contract says. If we lose our soul, they aren't accountable? Wouldn't surprise me. I gulp as my eye comes to rest on the last line.
I look up to see yet another pair complete their registration. It seems these Trials might have a high turnout. I gaze back at the contract.
This is it.
“I'm done.” I say to Mayla which causes her to raises her arms.
“Took you long enough!” She's on edge. I don't blame her.
We've seen The Trials from our domes hundreds of times, last year's and all the one's we could, we have in fact only breath and lived the G.A.M.E.Z.
All in preparation for this moment.
We thought we knew what we would face, but if this contract is anything to go by, there's a lot they don't show.
I thought it'd be for the best that The Trials aren't live, that maybe the editing could work in our favor, but now? It's clear that we're in the hands of the G.A.M.E.Z., much more than I'd ever imagined.
We get back to the registration station and Denton hands in his contract and license.
“You'll be called when your turn is up. You may take a seat over there.” Creepy points to some chairs, but we're not about that.
“Where can we go see the action?” I ask.
He scrunches up his nose.
“When all contestants have been registered, the next phase will be announced to all participating. Until then you must wait.”
“Thank you.” Dent says as he hauls me towards the chairs.
“I coulda taken him.” I growl out as he pushes me into an empty seat.
“Don't doubt it, but you also could of gotten us disqualified. If that's what's gonna happen, let's at least aim for it to be on the field, huh? ”
His answer starts of sounding like he's not even a little off balanced by that guy's attitude. Then he goes and matches it...But. Yea, ut, I guess maybe I should chill, I would be the butt of every joke if we ended up being sent home before we even fought.
“Fine. I get it. But when I get a target to hit, I'm gonna picture that guy's face on it.”
Denton answers me with a thumbs up.
“Go for it.”
We're on our last Trial and so far, so good.
May breezed through most of the Fighter's Trials, save that she didn't score very high in protection, but that's to be expected.
Besides, everyone knows it's a Trial that's more there for the audience, and the shock factor, than for the actually weeding out of “bad protectors”. If anything, most G-heads agree that it's the ones who score the highest and the lowest who gain more popularity. So, in the grand scheme of things, we're more than ut.
As for me, I gotta say, the Dancer's Trials weren't as hard as I'd feared. I know I might've scored personal demerits for taking my time, but as the scoring is based solely on accuracy, I actually had a rather spectacular board. If I do say so myself.
On average, we've achieved very decent scores. Neither of us is the top, but we're also nowhere near the bottom.
Of the twenty pair that have been admitted, less than half have been tested in some capacity and two have already been eliminated so far. Not surprisingly.
Despite that it's known throughout the Galaxies what it takes to enter the G.A.M.E.Z., every year there's still one or two startrucks that show up and think that just by looking nice they'll get a sponsorship. Right. It's that easy.
...Sad thing is. Sometimes it is.
Which is why people keep trying.
As much as May and I are Purists, truth is, there are people out there who only view the G.A.M.E.Z. as a way to capitalize on the popularity and fame that contestants can get. Their thinking only goes as far as: You get your face out there and someone will sponsor it.
Which is also why, it's an unwritten rule that True G-heads who fight against those “glitters”, take them out, fast and hard.