Continuing the future history of Liliana, Daisy, Ego Man, and Santiago. some more context and setting information, I’ve been editing this over the last few months and I think I’m finally happy to post it. I’m really looking forward to getting more of the storytelling out there, please let me know what you think!
All four found themselves conscious simultaneously, sitting amongst hundreds of others in concentric rings each lower than the last as they approached a central area. Sapients of all kinds glanced nervously around the room, a quiet murmur and several loud shouts breaking out None left their seats, a soft pressure descending within moments to gently hold them in place. Suddenly unable to make sound, harsh light, or any other of dozens of means of communication that had evolved in the galaxy they were effectively silenced. Even Machine Intelligences like Santiago found themselves sectioned off from their greater whole, an effect not entirely comfortable and considered socially impolite among digital consciousnesses.
The floor in the centre of the room split to retract in halves and a figure rose slowly into view. Around one hundred and seventy centimetres tall they were dressed in a fiery orange jacket with complimenting lighter yellow feathers fluffed upwards across their shoulders. The figures’ hair was dark black, over an average brow for the species atop a narrow, pointed face typically regarded as male. As most neo humans, age was completely indeterminate beyond the known legalities of Core Worlds requiring 25 OEY’s of existence to assume such an appearance for a non digital being. Occasional spots of orange light pulsed up their neck, around the back of their jaw, across their cheek bones to meet their eyes where they flared with a fiery gold. As the rest of the figure came into view, a tie of the fashion of ancient Earthkind displayed a pyramid logo with wings and a shattered trail above it pulsing in time with the eyes. Under the tie beneath the jacket was a simple white fabric, met at the waist by pants of the same colour as the jacket.
Though androgynous in appearance, the being was nonetheless displaying male pronoun icons in their digitag, which also noted their preferred forms of communication, personal space, and other interaction baselines of light and sound. Those in the room with the augmented reality overlay identified his name as Clavius Rentis, security chief and head of public relations for Rentis corporation based on Mars in the Sol system. Like the average galactic citizen his age was hidden, but his polyamorous marriages were linked and on file with links to a half a dozen sapients. Under normal circumstances the ARO allowed viewers interact with digitags further, but the galactic web was cut off and only the unblockable emergency contact methods could be seen.
The platform the neo human stood upon slowly came into view, revealing a second figure vastly smaller than Clavius. Standing barely twice the height of the black enclosed shoes of the human was a figure with a misshapen lumpy head, an irregular squiggle line of thin lipped mouth, and several tufts of either hair or fine tentacle coming from its sides. Miniature black eyes dotted the head all around under protruding brows, blinking randomly in no particular sequence. Beneath the head, which was fully one third of the sapients form, a hunched and awkward form wore a similar suit to the humans, but where Clavius’ was orange and open this one was black and buttoned at the midpoint, with a red tie showing a blue logo of one large central star shape with two smaller stars to the sides.
This beings’ digitag noted it’s named only as “Glorklox”, with male pronouns, an an affiliation with the Interstellar Sports Network, also listed as his only emergency contact. Glorklox lacked the information normally otherwise found in digitags like Clavius’. In a hand of four opposing fat fingers, the smaller figure held a rod with a blinking red light on one end. It raised it to its misshapen mouth, and spoke intergalac with a monotone but powerfully amplified voice, words occasionally punctuated with a vehement shouting that literally shook the diminutive figure.
“GLORKLOX SPEAKING. Welcome, potentials, to the Strike Arena Academy. Some of you are familiar with the Strike Arena launched several weeks ago, but many of you are not. Some of you were aware of the nature of the initial round of testing or deduced it on your own, but many of you were or did not. You have been volunteered or offered support by one of countless members of the core worlds to try out in the first rookie leagues.”
“For those who do not know, the strike arena is a sport of gladiatorial combat using strictly regulated mecha, weaponry, and attached support technology. For many of you, particularly machine intelligences and post physical sentients, these are likely so far beneath your technological familiarity that they are almost insulting. GLORKLOX REITERATES, THIS IS BY DESIGN. For some few of you, these machines and these past few moments have been a culture shock, and for that GLORKLOX APOLOGISES.”
Having stood silent and facing the speaker, the neo human turned now spreading arms that had lain passively hand upon hand on his belt, and turned speaking to the crowd in a calm voice, their words projected by unseen means to carry across the room evenly.
“As primary custodians of Mars, amongst those hit hardest by the wormhole civil war decades ago, Rentis corporation was among the first to support the machine intelligence councils’ forming of the strike arena. Initially suggested as a non lethal means of conflict resolution, key powers in the galaxy saw the response of the galactic public to recordings and broadcast of the first adjudicative battles and new a new sport had surely been born. Like Rentis rose as a phoenix from the ashes of scarred Mars herself, the strike arena has risen as a conflagration of thrills amongst the galaxy.”
Each time the man mentioned Mars, he touched his right hand to the left side of his chest. It was a gesture lost on the non Earthborn of the room, translated instead by symbols formed in the air holographically in front of them. Calm light swam in front of various sapients to translate his words, punctuated with a close up of his beaming biosculpted face. He went on.
“By will or by sufferage, you all sit, stand, float or pool here today as potentials in that brilliant pyre, perhaps to spread excitement and social energy across the galaxy, or perhaps to decline and return to your existence under sealed information strictures. If you would stay, we give you the chance for glory, fame, and legend to post commercial sapients. For those of you of worlds as commerce, wealth, power, and influence similarly await you. If you would go,” he raised his hands palms outward “you may, but know there will be no chances of returning for some time. Dare to enter the Arena!”
Clavius spread his arms wide, hanging his head forward in a dramatic display. After a few moments of silence the first potentials disappeared from the room. One moment they were there, a blob of tentacles, a being in a bubble of fluid, a scaled down holographic dragon, the next they were not. Of the several hundred sapients in the room, around a fifth disappeared leaving gaps in the rows. As the man brought his face up and began to speak again the assembled forms slid up, down, and across in their rings to close the gaps.
“Excellent. You remaining are officially among the first potentials, I applaud your bravery and your desire for challenge! You may or may not know me as Clavius Rentis, the public face of Rentis Corporation out of Mars in the Sol region. Ourselves still a commercial monetised society, I can frankly admit I am stunned and awed by the capital backing this project, and would be eager to be a direct part of it myself had I the sporting edge. Beside me is Glorklox, representing the Interstellar Sports Network, or ISSN. You will likely see little of us during your time here in the academy, so we must bid you farewell for now, but wish you the best of luck and enjoyment in your time ahead. I will personally keep myself up to date with the progress of every single one of you, and ask most humbly that you truly enjoy the unique experience you are presented with, and should you come out the other side with a sponsorship consider the entertainment value of the sport most highly of all.”
Clavius bowed with a flourish of his arm sending more holograms and lights into the air. The platform began to sink back down in the floor, and the room darkened while a single voice boomed out.
“For love of the game, this has been GLORKLOX SPEAKING.”