Prologue: We Who Are About to Die, Salute You!

Commissioner Talvert, a neat and distinguished-looking gentleman in his mid-thirties, was anxiously pacing in his office at the Gladiator League World Headquarters in Proteus City. Today the listing of the Gladiator teams who had qualified for the Championship would be released. This year had not only been particularly exciting for both the sponsors and the spectators alike, but had also been very profitable for the Gladiator League as well. If the Championships turned out well, Talvert knew he would be set for life.

"Sir!" said an office assistant over the intercom. "The list is in!"

"Bring it in," said Talvert. "Then tell Director Barnes I want to see him at once."

"Yes, sir!" responded the office assistant.

A few moments later, there was a knock on Talvert's office door followed by a pause.

"Come in," said Talvert in response to the knock.

The office assistant opened the door and brought a data pad over to him.

"Thank you," said Talvert as he took the data pad from her. "Make sure you close the door behind you"

"Yes, sir," said the office assistant before turning to leave.

"And don't forget to tell Barnes I want to see him," Talvert reminded her.

"Yes, sir," said the office assistant to acknowledge his order as she closed the door behind her.

Talvert sat down in his chair and looked over the information on the data pad. The first few paragraphs were bureaucratic statistics on how the League did in each fiscal quarter this year. Talvert already knew most of those statistics already, and knew that they were present to justify the names on the list. In truth, Talvert wasn't interested in being reminded of statistics and figures he already knew, he just wanted to know which teams were on the list. Therefore, rather than read every last word in the document, he scrolled down the numerous pages until the list came into view. When he saw it, his eyes lit up and he began to see dollar signs. The list showed twelve teams had made the cut, something that had never happened before in the entire history of the League. That meant that the largest Championships ever seen was about to take place. Given the number of competitors on each team, the whole thing was sure to take weeks. Another sure thing was that the sponsors would pay top dollar the entire time.

A sudden knock on the door brought Talvert out of his daydreams of avarice. Realizing that it was probably Barnes, he set the pad down, collected himself, and looked at the door.

"Come in, Barnes!" he said.

Barnes opened the door almost immediately and walked up eagerly to Talvert's desk. Barnes was a nerdy looking man who looked like he lived amongst books and calculators.

"The results are in," Talvert said as he handed Barnes the data pad. "Take a look at this!"

Barnes took the pad and looked at it in earnest. When he saw the results, a goofy-looking grin crossed over his face. "We're set," he said.

"Yes we are," said Talvert. "Just so long as the Gladiators don't fuck it up."

"When will the participating teams be informed?" asked Barnes.

"This afternoon," said Talvert.

"Who do you think will win?" asked Barnes as he handed back the data pad.

"It doesn't matter so long as they put on a good show and make us piles of money," replied Talvert with menacing smile.

To be continued…