a (very) short story,

by Costin Becheanu

It was time to step into the arena once again.

His blood was boiling, his scarred, muscular body was taut, pulsing, ready for the bloody challenge ahead. He knew he had something to prove, after all his Lanista had just acquired him and he had others to compete with for intra-team dominance.
This was all he’d been waiting for his entire life, dreaming of it ever since he heard talk about it on his native planet of Hogyk: the spilled guts, the glory, the cheering crowds, all driving up a sweet, sweet rush of adrenaline… What could possibly be better in life?
At first it seemed impossible for him to break through to the Nexus big leagues, especially with him not being a direct product of the Meat Gardens. And the I.N.C. was a kill or be killed system... Half the time it all ended in smashed skulls and severed appendices, and this was before even getting to their front desk. But he remembered what his great uncle Berr told him during survival class once, among tips on living off the land and drinking your own urine: improvise, adapt, overcome.
So it was off to the unsanctioned races for him.
First, a moniker was needed, something to stand out and tell his story. His parents had always said he sucked the life out of them more with every day gone by, which is one of the reasons he gladly ran away from home in the first place. And he’d always had a thing for buzzsaws, a fortunate passion since he was bound to be around them a lot more when he got access to the arena. Thus, the pieces of his alias fell into place.
The first glimpse he got of a Gnoem scouting ship landing on Hogyk was the queue for a first step towards turning mere dreams into reality. A small step for him, but what was poised to be a giant status leap for Gyk-kind. Provided he made it and made it big, of course he still remembered what had happened quite vividly.

“Who’s this runt?” a bulky Gnoem with a fez stuffed down on top of one ragged ear inquired.
“I’m Buzzkill.” he remembered replying “and I’m coming with you!” he continued, arms crossed on his chest, feet firmly planted, stunted legs akimbo, sporting a self-assured grin.
The rest of the Gnoem’s squad approached, and they all fell silent for a few seconds, looking Buzzkill up and down. Then, they looked at each other before bursting out into the most uproarious fit of laughter the planet itself had seen in a generation.
“You what?” the fez-ed one bleeted.
“Look at this little shit-nugget thinking he’s entitled to anything!” another one put in.
“What are you, like five foot?” a third Gnoem squinted.
“Yeah, he is!” the fez put in wiping a tear “Like five foot too short!”
It went like that for a good, few minutes. They left him there and moved on in search of better material for their breeding experiments and DNA banks. When they trailed back through the same spot, Buzzkill was nowhere to be seen.
Because he’d already managed to stow away on their ship.

The murmur of the crowd brought him back to present day and the platform trembled slightly as it was being raised. He’d worked towards his current situation for months and was already on his third Lanista, the first two having had ill-fated… accidents befall them.
Clutching his knotty paws around his blood-caked implement of choice, he braved the blinding lights and lunged upwards and forwards even before the platform came to a halt at arena level. Limbs, puss, jagged bits of armour, and still twitching organs and bits of flesh lined the hard ground around him.
He breathed in the oh-so-familiar scent of fresh death and took a few more steps forward. There, directly opposite, stood the enemy. His job was clear, there was no need for any input from his master.
After all, it didn’t take much to do a proper cleaning service job.

The rest of his Lanista’s cleaning crew fell in beside Buzzkill and then quickly dispersed with clear set goals as their counterparts did the same at the other end of the arena. It was always a race between the two crews to finish gathering up any useable organic material from their own Helot and then try and pinch something off the opposing one, and Buzzkill took great pride in being a lightning fast cleaner himself.
Today was no different, and in the crowd’s dull, almost bored murmur during their wait for a new fight his crew had gathered most of the discarded matter and were just about to lunge over to the other side of the field when a shiny reflection caught Buzzkill’s eye: their Helot’s helmet, crushed and bent, with about a ladle’s worth of brain matter puddling inside of it. Today had been the end of poor Gilga-Smash, and Buzzkill realised he barely even remembered what the giant Urk looked like.
He made for the helmet, but one of the opposing crew’s members suddenly lunged in, right beside it. A grubby, bulbous, little thing the colour of cattle refuse dipped in stagnant marsh water was now reaching for the precious remains… And gaining Buzzkill’s ire in the process.
“Hey, you! You think you’re entitled to that, you shit-nugget?” he snarled as both crews closed in, brandishing their gunk-collectors and recipients in as threatening a manner possible.
The crowd was beginning to take interest in the miniature stand-off, and the odd cheer could now be heard from the stands. Suddenly, the giant Blood Stream displays hanging above the arena switched from sponsor shilling to a zoomed-in frame of the crews, spotlights trained on them, causing the noise levels to rise among the crowd: an opportunity for free, unscheduled entertainment had arisen.

And Buzzkill was about to make the most of it...

~All existing names, characters, images, and references pertaining to the Nexus IP are the property of D-Verse Publishing LLC and any other of their respective owners, and are used in this work of fan fiction without the express intent of monetary gain or other benefits. Any new characters and locales are original works of the author and bear no intent to infringe upon the existing IP and/or its subsidiaries.~