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Benjamin Damascus
Blood Sport (1)
Thu Aug 27, 2009 1:48am

NRP: Sorry it's so late. Ben's got nothing to do with the plot, at the moment. He's just fighting away. And lord if I'm in the wrong thread, forgive me.

Ben grunted, pacing in the waiting room as he waited for his match to begin. He'd lost count of the hours -- or would have, if his internal chronometer didn't keep perfect time -- swinging his fists periodically in order to keep from driving one of them through a wall. Though he'd watched the initial matches, he'd found they only increased his impatience, so he ignored them now and paced -- and punched -- and paced.

"Geez, baby," said the ring girl assigned to his entry corridor. "You're gonna wear yourself out if you keep that up."

"Unlikely." He did pause, though, clenching and unclenching his fists in contemplation. How long had it been since his last fight in the pits? How long since he'd bid Mitch and Winifred farewell? If he had lost his edge, he supposed, he would find out soon enough. He clenched his fists again and scowled.

"You nervous, baby?"

He looked over his shoulder at her, a Reploid designed with a very specific role in mind. Full-figured and scantily clad, her job was to saunter in between rounds to keep the audience entertained -- and let them know via holographic announcement which bout was coming up. He supposed, perhaps, her job could include entertaining the fighters.

"No," he said, and looked away again.

She blew out a faint, annoyed puff of breath. "Not too friendly, are you? Well, I guess that's all right. Some of 'em can get a little too grabby, if you ask me." She peered at him again when he didn't respond. "You're down for an endurance match? I almost feel sorry for you."

"Don't," Ben said, checking the clasps on his gloves. "I requested a challenge, and hopefully they have given me one."

"Oh yeah?" Her eyebrows arched above a barely restrained eyeroll. "Well, maybe you'll be taking home the big money."

He shrugged, watching the screen for some indication of when his turn might be coming up.

"What, you don't want it?" She sounded almost indignant. "Then what'd you come here for?"

He flicked an ear, looking over his shoulder with fangs bared in a less-than-pleasant smile. "I came to fight."

Before she could respond, a buzzer went off at her elbow, and she sniffed, looking his way again. "Well, lucky you, baby -- that's your call."


"Good luck," she called as he strode from the room.

He was fairly certain she didn't mean it, but he nodded nevertheless, then blinked as he strode into the glaring lights of the arena.

The volume of the crowd's roar startled him momentarily -- the pit arenas were one fifth the size of this one, if that -- but he ignored the noise shortly in favor of picking out the announcer's voice. One of the conditions of his match was that he had no idea who his opponents were to be -- or how many of them he would face.

A floating holographic panel buzzed over to him, insisting that he choose a backdrop or condition for the fight, but he waved it away impatiently. The dirt floor of the pits had always suited him best, and it wasn't an option.

"Fresh from the pits, the champion who held onto his crown for five years --"

He wondered for a moment where they got their information. His pit fighting career hadn't come up on his application -- perhaps they'd researched the name.

"-- 'Brutal' Benjamin Damascus!"

Ben grimaced, but judging from the screams of the crowd, they felt his expression meant something besides general disdain for the nickname. He busied himself checking his armor clasps a final time, then reached over his shoulder to grasp the handle of his hammer. Though rarely used, he found its weight to be a great comfort.

Lost for a moment in mental preparation, he missed the second half of the announcer's speech, hearing only the name of his opponent before an indistinct figure stepped onto the floor. "-- the Swarm!"

Perhaps 'stepped' was the wrong word. It seemed to hover above the ground, even though its legs made movements akin to walking, and at first Ben thought it had a very bad cloaking device that made it look like it had a layer of holographic static over its body. He ran a quick scan and scowled. No cloaking device, his opponent wasn't even a single entity.

"Nanites," he growled softly. He scanned again, and his frown deepened, but he had no time to consider the data when his opponent lunged, charging across the arena at a speed only a cloud of particles could manage. Ben swung his fist and felt it slide through the oncoming fighter, tiny crackles of energy rippling across his armor and leaving faint scratches where they passed.

It seemed to lose some of its form as he passed through it, then solidified beyond him, flickering around the edges.

Ben frowned. No core. No primary controller, unless it was the same size as the rest of them. No energy fluctuations indicating a cloak of some kind.

He let out a rough snort and whirled to charge, lashing one hand out to snatch at his enemy's form. The audience jeered. The announcers laughed. He ignored them, tightening his fist, and ran a scan on the tiny devices that speckled his palm and fingers.

The humanoid figure lost its definition entirely, dissolving into a haze of darting specks and lunging at him. The swarm, indeed. To say it struck him would be misleading. Instead, it felt as though thousands of insects were swarming around him, darting against his armor and through his fur to strike at what little exposed flesh they could find.

Irritating, but not fatal.

He widened his scan range. The core, after all, didn't have to be in the swarm itself.


The crowed continued to jeer. They weren't here to see him stand there like a piece of dog shit getting chewed on by flies. They were here to see a fight, god damn it, and he better deliver, or maybe they'd take matters into their own hands.

Ben continued to ignore them, at least until his sensors alerted him to an energy signature at the edge of the scan range. That would put it somewhere in the stands.

His gaze flicked sideways and he saw her, gaze intent with concentration but unfocused, relying entirely on the readings from thousands of tiny machines to make her assessments. His expression darkened, and he strode toward the stands, much to the consternation -- and fright, in some cases -- of the nearest audience members.

The announcers were confused.

The woman didn't notice.

She didn't look up, in fact, until he leaned into the stands and reached for her, paw-like hand clamping firmly around her arm. She met his eyes -- her saw her pupils dilate -- then he flung her over his shoulder, hearing an audible crack as her body struck the floor of the arena.

The nanite swarm continued to buzz around him, forming into a solid mass to intensify its attack. He waved his arm through it impatiently, approaching the girl, who scrambled in an effort to get to her feet. She tapped feverishly at a panel built into a band around her arm, and the nanites changed again.

Not fast enough. He lashed out and caught her arm, fingers wrapping around the control panel and lifting her bodily from the ground. Then they contracted with a crunch of metal and bone.

She screamed. The nanites stilled at once, dropping to the ground in a cloud of metallic dust. The woman writhed feebly, and he looked at her in disgust, tossing her again to the ground. She landed and lay there, cowering.

"Is this how a warrior fights?" he demanded of her, voice a low, frustrated roar. "Is this how little respect you have for a competition?"

She stared up at him, expression completely uncomprehending, and began to scoot backward, something like a whimper escaping her throat. A powerful wave of disappointment struck him. If this was to be the quality of opponents, he regretted having come -- and even more so he regretted the entry fee.

The audience was cheering now, enamored of the sight of a victor despite whatever earlier anger there had been. The announcers were debating in excited tones -- what was to be the girl's fate? Mercy or -- as his nickname suggested -- brutality?

He scowled and waved a hand dismissively at the girl. "Leave, I want my next opponent."

She stared at him. The announcers went wild. The audience booed.

Ben glared out at them, but the insults and catcalling only intensified. He already broke her, finish the job. She was a dumb bitch anyway, thinking she could win like that. They wanted to see blood, damn it.

His lips peeled back from his teeth, and they began to insult him as well. Too much of a coward to finish the job. In the wrong place. Had the wrong nickname.

Angered at last, he reached behind him to snatch his hammer from its sling, uttering a roar of contempt as he swung it at the floor, its impact cracking the surface and leaving a deep, square-ish hole when he lifted it again.

"Do any of you want to take the matter up with me?" he demanded, whirling the weapon to slam its head into the floor next to him. "Come and settle it, if you have the spine!"

There was an immediate hush, and one of the announcers coughed politely.

Ben ignored him, looking back at the girl, who was once again attempting to crawl away. He stepped to her side and caught her under her good arm, hauling her to her feet. "Walk out of here, if you can," he suggested, tone almost gentle. "Surely you have enough pride to do that."

She said nothing in response, only stumbling away from him as quickly as she could manage. He sighed, then turned expectantly to the announcers.

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