TITLE FIGHT (The Galactic Football League Novellas)Scott Sigler
By Scott Sigler & Matt Wallace
A GFL Novella
Title Fight, A Galactic Football League novella
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved
Copyright © 2012 by Scott Sigler
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Cover art design by Scott E Pond
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Published in the United States of America by Dark Øverlord Media
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Also by Scott Sigler
The Galactic Football League series (YA):
The Galactic Football League novellas (YA):
The Gangster (coming in 2013)
The Rider (coming in 2013)
The Thief (coming in 2013)
The Color Series short story collections:
Blood is Red
Bones are White
Fire is Orange (coming in 2013)
Director of Døøm AB Kovacs here. I’m the non-creative half at Dark Øverlord Media, here to give you some info about the authors and also how TITLE FIGHT fits into the overall Siglerverse.
As with THE DETECTIVE, our last Galactic Football League novella, TITLE FIGHT was co-written by Matt Wallace and Scott Sigler.
Matt Wallace is an award-winning author and screenwriter living and working in Los Angeles. He also writes a blog at matt-wallace.com which is “about the existential crises of the 21st century artist, the evolution of media, and the holistic interconnectedness of storytelling and the brotherhood of man. Also, booze and knives.” His work is gritty, sinewy, and full of grimy everyday life in a non-everyday world. THE NEXT FIX, SUNDAE, THE SHOTOKAN MASTERS and THE FAILED CITIES — DEFINITIVE EDITION are available for you. Go and read ‘em, you won’t be sorry.
Scott Sigler is a New York Times best-selling novelist, author of NOCTURNAL, ANCESTOR, CONTAGIOUS and INFECTED, hardcover thrillers from Crown Publishing. He’s also the co-founder of Dark Øverlord Media, which publishes his Galactic Football League series (THE ROOKIE, THE STARTER, THE ALL-PRO and THE MVP). He still records his own audiobooks and gives away every recorded story — for free — to his Junkies at www.scottsigler.com.
This novella takes place between THE ROOKIE and THE STARTER.
You can enjoy this story on it’s own, but as you can see it is built to fit snugly into the rest of the GFL series. However you do it, we hope you enjoy the read!
Table of Contents
Round One: Korak the Cutter
Round Two: The Heretic Vs. Brocka the Razor-Barbed
Round Three: Vikor the Black
Round Four: Gredok the Splithead
Round Five: Doc Patah
Round Six: The Gym
Round Seven: Preparation
Round Eight: Masara the Observant & Chick McGee
Round Nine: The Fight
Round Ten: Aftermath
Round One: Korak the Cutter
The round-ending bell sounded three times, but you could only hear the first ring before the crowd’s bloodlust roar shook the arena. The capacity crowd of ten thousand businessbeings, military officers, elected officials, socialites and media stars — the upper crust, the elite, society’s elegant ruling class — all reduced to snarling, stomping, spitting, cheering, appendage-pumping primitives calling for blood, blood and more blood.
They had almost witnessed history. They had almost seen a first-round tap out of the most dangerous sentient in the galaxy. They had almost witnessed the defeat of the undefeated, the toppling of the reigning heavyweight champion.
That champion, Korak the Cutter, had been drawing roars like that for almost two decades. And not just from his same-species Quyth — all three castes, the Leaders, Warriors and the Workers — but also from Humans, Sklorno, Ki, Harrah, Leekee, and basically any sentient capable of watching one being destroy another under the Octagon’s glaring spotlight.
Before the last bell ring even sounded, Korak’s corner-throne was already descending to the canvas. Spotlights tracked the metal chair, the members of his corner team that rode down with it and the racks of equipment bolted to the back and sides, all decorated in glossy black and yellow enamel.
Korak stumbled away from the Octagon’s center, his limp right arm leaving a trail of red blood that blended with the marks left by the undercard bouts: stringy bits of green flesh from another Quyth Warrior; Human blood, which was just as red as that of the Quyth; and oily black streaks from the Ki cruiserweight that had died earlier in the evening.
Three beings rode down with the rack, all ready to do their specific tasks. They wore clothes of black and yellow silk — Korak’s colors. The team had only sixty seconds to patch up the galactic heavyweight champion as best they could and send him back into the Octagon for Round Two.
Timmy McMurphy, electrical and armor, rode down holding a thin, flexible, half-meter snake probe in each hand. Korak turned and started to sit even before the throne finished lowering. Timmy expertly slid the crysteel probes into titanium sockets embedded on either side of Korak’s spinal column, just below the upper shoulders that anchored his smaller upper arms. As the throne clanged to a stop at its lowest position and Korak’s butt landed in the heated seat, the filaments ratcheted home with a click.
McMurphy tapped the left side of his head. Multiple holos flared to life just in front of his eyes, tiny to the rest of the arena but so close to his eyes they took up all of his vision. He flicked his eyes and blinked like a man with a nervous twitch and a guilty conscious, eye-track maneuvering through the diagnostics and sub-routines.
Doctor Patah came down with the throne, as the rules dictated, but he didn’t actually need to ride it. Once the throne locked into place, Doc Patah fluttered off the pulse-control deck on the right side, his stingray-like wings wafting through the air, his coarse black skin rippling from the sonic energy of the still-screaming crowd. He carried a floppy biochem clamp in the long flaps that extended from either side of his mouth, the Harrah equivalent of hands. He wrapped the clamp around the champ’s thorax. The clamp expanded and tightened, almost a living thing itself, auto-positioning systems adjusting delicate machines directly over IFA-approved sensors long-since embedded in Korak’s vital organs and nerve clusters. As each system found its proper biological interface point, lights shifted from red to green. Out of the fifteen lights, thirteen lit green within two seconds, two flashed orange. Doctor Patah would get to those if he could, but first he had to stop the leg bleeding and work on that limp arm.
The third crew member was the being in charge of them all, the being that had made Korak a violent machine, the mixed martial arts heavyweight champion of the Intergalactic Fighting Assoc
iation — which was the same thing as saying Korak was the most dangerous sentient in the galaxy. Vikor the Black hopped off the throne’s right side, his little Quyth Leader feet landing lightly on the blood-streaked Octagon canvas. Vikor and Korak had similar body structures. Not surprising, considering they were members of the same species. Technically, anyway. Vikor stood all of 3-foot-4. Patchy black fur streaked with gray covered thin legs, a narrow thorax that supported two middle arms and a head that featured one large, clear eye. Twig-like arms hung from the sides of the head, just below the eye. So Vikor sort of looked like Korak, save that Korak stood at around 6-foot-10 and weighed five times as much as his longtime manager. Korak, of course, had no fur. Instead, he had thick chitin decorated with enamel tattoos showing a history of military service and the names of the five beings he’d killed in the ring.
His chitin also showed numerous spiderweb lines from healed cracks and the thin, straight scars of protein welds. Too many of those, truth be told, but he knew no other life nor did he want one.
Vikor was standing, Korak was sitting, yet still the massive Quyth Warrior had to bend his head down to stare his manager in the eye. But Korak only looked into that eye in flicks and blinks because he kept looking past his manager, staring across the ring. Staring at a smiling Mark “The Mangler” Wheeler.
Mark Wheeler, whose ring team was trying to jam his broken index finger back into place and skin-weld his dangling ear back on.
Mark Wheeler, the number-one contender for Korak’s IFA heavyweight title.
Mark Wheeler, who had broken Korak’s right middle arm.
Mark Wheeler, who wasn’t getting out of this Octagon alive.
“How’s your arm?” Vikor asked.
“Broken,” Korak said calmly. “I had to let him break it to slip out of that Kimura. He had it on tight.”
“You got sloppy,” Vikor said. “You let him catch you. Doc, what’s the damage?”
Patah didn’t bother looking up. One mouth-flap shot into his black and yellow backpack. The backpack stored all of Patah’s equipment, save for the serious rack-gear needed to save a life. It also housed the speaker that translated his soft hisses and breaths into Standard English. Doc’s right mouth-flap came back out of the backpack holding a blue ball that he jammed into the bleeding hole in Korak’s leg. The ball instantly molded itself to the hole, pushing in, stopping the blood flow and dumping millions of nanomeds underneath the broken chitin. Patah’s other mouth-flap slid a sonic scalpel down Korak’s right middle forearm, slicing open the adamantium-embedded carapace. Red blood poured onto the canvas like a child’s melted strawberry milkshake casually tipping over and dumping onto the kitchen floor. Doc’s mouth-flaps flashed up again into the backpack, stashing the sonic scalpel and coming out with shiny metal clamps. He fastened them home inside the open forearm in a flurry of practiced motions, quickly stemming the steady flow of blood.
“The break split a nerve cluster and tore an artery,” Doc said.
Vikor leaned to his left, peeking into the open arm. “Can you fix it in time?”
“Would I have opened it up if I couldn’t?” Doc said. “You worry about getting him to stop being stupid out there, I’ll worry about the arm. Timmy, shut off electrical to the right arm. I’m going in, and while you’re at it, jack him in with two liters.”
“Got it!” Timmy screamed.
Timmy’s eyes blinked rapidly as his focal point shot through the menus, turning off the nervous system in Korak’s broken arm.
“Electrical paused, jacking in now!” Timmy screamed. He talked far louder than necessary most of the time, and during a fight, he had absolutely zero volume control. Timmy hailed from Earth, from a place called New Jersey, where apparently being loud was part of the culture.
The little Human reached into one of the black and yellow equipment racks, pulling out a long-needled pump connected to a thin hose. He raised the needle with both hands, pointed it down, then jabbed it into the base of Korak’s head, where it clicked home into yet another recessed artificial jack. To the neophyte fight fan or the untrained observer, Timmy’s action seemed brutal, but he was the best electrical and jack man in the business. Five fights back in a title defense against Huitzilopochtli, Timmy had completely replaced Korak’s blood supply between the third and fourth rounds — and had done it with such natural expertise that the fighter hadn’t even blacked out for a second.
The clear tube filled with red as Timmy pumped fresh blood into the champ’s body. Korak was used to pain. He barely noticed the needle. His world narrowed to two things: the smart-ass smile on Wheeler’s bloody face and Vikor’s look of concern.
Vikor never looked concerned.
Perhaps he had been hoping Timmy and Doc Patah would find something seriously wrong with Korak, something to explain how The Mangler almost tore the champ’s arm right off the thorax. Something other than what Vikor had to suspect – that Korak had lost a step.
Vikor stared into Korak’s single eye, an eye heavily protected by ridges of crack-lined chitin. The days of speaking with urgency, of pep talks, of motivation, those had all faded away some ten or eleven fights ago. Even with blood spilling down from the corner-throne, Vikor and Korak talked in calm, conversational tones. They were both the grand old men of the fight game, and as much as they lived and breathed the sport, they’d been to this dance before.
“Educate me,” the manager said. “Explain how that two-bit outer-system golden gloves runner-up chump managed to get you in a Kimura.”
Korak’s vision remained trained above Vikor’s head, remained locked eye to eyes with his thick-bodied, tanned, HeavyG Human opponent. Wheeler’s ring crew — dressed in red and white silk — worked to simultaneously bind the fighter’s blood-gushing ear, reduce the swelling under his left eye and tape his broken finger in place. The corner doc had Wheeler’s hand pinched between his thighs and was jabbing away with a bone stapler. Wheeler’s head stayed rock-still, as if he didn’t even notice the work on his body. He stared at Korak with that emotion that seemed uniquely Human. All species had facial and body expressions that showed fear, hatred, anger, pain ... but only a Human face could show such arrogance.
“He caught me,” Korak said. “I don’t know how. I saw it coming and I moved to counter, but I didn’t get it in time.”
A touch of translucent black washed across Vikor’s eye, then it was gone. The reaction confirmed that Korak had properly guessed his longtime manager’s suspicion. Fighting is about a lot of things: skill, visciousness, strength, but above all fighting is about speed. Korak had seen the Kimura coming; he just hadn’t been fast enough to stop it.
The champ had been the champ for seventeen straight fights. Two, maybe three fights a year for the last seven years. That was a long time in the fight game, the longest run since the IFA had started 250 years ago. But despite being a living legend, a first-ballot hall of fame fighter and the greatest champion of all time, Korak the Cutter was well past his prime. He was slowing down.
Vikor again looked down at Doctor Patah. “Talk to me, Doc.”
“Timmy, leg status,” Patah said.
Timmy blinked once and flicked his eyes right twice.
“Full blood flow restored to right leg,” Timmy said. “Hundo-heal.” That phrase was music to Korak’s ear-pits. Hundo-heal — one-hundred-percent repair to a wound.
Patah fluttered up and forward so he could speak into the chitin-armored ear-pits under Korak’s eye. Patah’s long mouth-flaps kept working on Korak’s arm. “Champ, you have to keep him off this arm for a bit,” Doc said. “It’s okay for now, but I need to realign the nerve clusters after the next round. It’s going to hurt like hell while the nanocytes patch up the arteries. Keep him off for thirty seconds, and you should be fine.”
“Timmy, finish up!” Vikor shouted.
“Almost go,” Timmy screa
med. “Bio-electric is A-OK. Get out of there, Doc, I need ten seconds to return that arm to normal function.”
“Clearing out,” Doc said. His mouth-flaps pulled out all the clamps and blockers in a practiced, smooth motion, stuffing each one into the backpack that would automatically clean and sterilize them, prep them for the next round. “Clear, go electrical!” Doc pushed the split chitin back together and started fusing it with a protein welder as Timmy blinked furiously, dancing his way through hundreds of bio-sensors and controllers embedded in the champ’s body.
Waves of black, not even all that translucent anymore, washed across Vikor’s big eye. That kind or emotional display just wasn’t like him. No matter what, that eye always seemed to stay clear.
“He’s going to come after that arm,” the little Quyth Leader said. “You have to keep it back, keep him at bay with left jabs. Do not go to the ground, you understand? I don’t care who you are, no one can handle another Kimura on a broken arm. The Human is too good on the ground. Make it out of the second round, we’ll fix you up and you finish him in the third. Stick-and-move.”
“Shuck that,” Korak said. “I don’t dance. The Human wants the arm? He can have it.”
Vikor’s eye flooded black; so black you couldn’t see inside of it. He started to say something, to berate this insolent Warrior who would dare argue the orders of a Leader, but the five-second warning buzzer blared through the arena. Timmy yanked out the blood injector and the crysteel filaments. Red fluid flew everywhere, even splattering on spectators in the first and second rows. Doc hovered in place, wings rippling as he scrambled to fuse the last edges of the chitin split.
Vikor stepped out of the way and hopped onto the left side of the yellow and black corner-throne. Korak stood tall, 382 thick-limbed pounds of seasoned Warrior marked by service enamels and a career’s worth of cracks and welds. Korak the Cutter had been in danger many times, but Mark “The Mangler” Wheeler could very well kill him in the second round.