Tales from the Nexus: A Helot awakens

500-Helge-The-PitsThat smell. It’s pungently putrid — but familiar. It reminds me of something — something from my youth? — Yes, that’s it — from my youth. Memories instantly flood my mind of the Meatgardens and the years I spent training there in the Little Fucker League. Especially of this one match with a tentacled fellow — its name escapes me — who wrapped me so tight I couldn’t……WAIT. I CAN’T MOVE. Where…where am I? — Sounds of laughter and moans all around — my vision blurred as my eyes start to roll back into my head — I look and I can see I am strapped to a bed — I glance at my right shoulder and see meat dangling off the white bone of what remains of my right arm — A loud burst of laughter and more yelling from around the room. My memory is coming back to me now. I…I had won.

The room is darkened with fluorescent lights flickering every so often. Water drips through tiny spots of rust in the ceiling — one of those spots happen to be hitting my left knee — infuriatingly irritating — drip….drip…drip…– In the middle of the room, hanging from the ceiling is what looks like a miniature jumbo-tron — four televisions, one on each side. It is playing what every television plays in the Nexus — Blood.Stream — but we just call it BS for short. BS airs nothing but live or recorded Barge Fights sparing the viewer none of the graphical gore and prides itself in sacrificing media reporters for the very best of action. — And what is playing on BS right now is not just any Barge Fight — it is MY Barge Fight!

I watch myself on the television as I am fighting a giant Helot and we are lunging and dodging — I grimace as I know this part — I know what comes next. — drip — A foreign telepathic command combined with my desire to please the crowd inspire me to make a sacrifice. I watch on the screen as I  skillfully lunge my right arm out far, just grazing its left uppermost appendage. I purposefully stay outstretched just a little too long — knowing it won’t be able to resist the temptation of an easy strike — it uses its lower right appendage to slice my right arm off — in doing so, leaving its midsection — cough — its sexual organ — open for a fraction of a second. — I quickly uppercut with my left arm right into its meaty flesh driving my blade through its testicles directly up through its torso almost three feet deep — impaling it like some over sized Helot corndog. The giant Helot’s scream was only overshadowed by the roars from the stands as the massive barge began to rumble from the decibels. Last thing I remember is feeling completely fulfilled from the approval of the crowd just before its enormous body goes limp and comes slamming down on top of me rendering me unconscious. — The room I am now in explodes in yells of victory as the other Helots — all in differing states of disrepair — scream in blood lust and cheer at the creativity of the kill. — drip…Drip…DRIP!

Full of adrenaline from watching the kill and enraged at the incessant dripping — I jerk my body back and forth and the bed starts to slide across the floor with each movement. I manage to slide it just far enough to escape the dripping when I see horrid figures out of the corner of my eyes — figures I am all too familiar with. All the sudden my brain is filled with thoughts — thoughts that aren’t mine — commands that I must obey. “Rest. Relax. All is calm. You feel nothing.” — Instantly, I am in some sort of trance as I watch these beings approach me carrying what looks to be an arm. But this is no ordinary replacement arm, no– this arm is almost twice as muscular as mine and is plated with spikes and protruding daggers out of the knuckles. — Oh yes! I am getting an upgrade!

 

Here is a dramatic reading of the story: 

 

 

Tales from the Nexus: How I made it in the Nexus

When I arrived at the Nexus a little over a year ago with my meager life savings, I followed the advice of those before me. I was told to become a Lanista, hire the Gnoems to grow me some fighter Helots, and to become rich and famous in the arenas on the Barges — sounds easy right? — Hah! Not for me. I have never had the best of luck, but in the Nexus I learned quickly it’s not luck one needs — it’s money, and lots of it. You see, it’s not just having enough money to get things done — no, no — it’s having enough money for when everything goes wrong and you have to start over again — and again…

Everyone has heard of the famous Lanistas and their legendary Helots who dominated the Barge Fights, took down all opponents, and even survived bouts against the dreaded Barge Beasts. But for every one story of those that make it, there are thousands of others — like me — who don’t do so well and have to figure out how to survive here — bankrupt, disenfranchised, disillusioned — the Nexus is an unforgiving place. But alas, I am getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you how things REALLY happen in the Nexus for most of those who come here looking for fame and fortune. This is my story — and many others share it.

Being of high moral values and one who always tries to follow the rules, I started where one is supposed to start — if you want to become a Lanista and buy Helots to fight for you, surely you would start at the beings that genetically create the Helots, right? So, I went to the Gnoems — hideous beings — they just looked at me and told me telepathically, “must get papers from the INC.” — What the fuck is the INC?? — Well, let me tell you. The INC stands for the Inter-dimensional Nexus Commission. Think of the INC as the bureaucrats and regulators of the Nexus. Nothing — supposedly — gets done without their approval. Ever had to go to the DMV to get your drivers license renewed? Well — trust me — you’d rather go to the DMV every day than to have to deal with the INC just one time — incompetence, red-tape, lethargic — holy shit I never thought regulation could be this painful.

So, I wait in a line that literally last for days — camping out in the waiting room — living off vending machine food — only to get to my turn and be told I am in the wrong line and I need to get in the line twenty feet over to my left which was twice as long.  — Yea, I told you this was bullshit. Oh, but it doesn’t stop there — Finally getting through that line after almost a week — yes, these are literal times — my paperwork is stamped and I am sent back to the first line. This incessant waiting keeps going on, seemingly endless line after line, stamp after stamp, fee after fee — and the next thing I know three months have gone by and I still haven’t left the INC offices. Finally, I pay my final fee and get my final stamp and I’m told, “Do you want to pay for expedited approval? Fourteen day response time guaranteed.”– Fuck yea I want the fast response! At this point it is costing me a fortune in just vending machine food! –I swear the INC makes a shit-ton of money off those machines — it’s a racket I tell yea. I patiently wait and on the fourteenth day — what do ya know? — I get a response! The envelope is tattered and has a tear down one side that has been taped back together haphazardly. I open it and find a letter inside that reads, “Unfortunately your paperwork has been misplaced. Enclosed, you will find your refund for expedited approval. Please visit the INC to refile your application.” — DO FUCKING WHAT?! — Oh, and yea someone stole my fucking refund too — that is, if they ever included it to begin with.

Myke - Lord Beakington of Snozataria
Art by Michael Rechlin

After going through this exact process — multiple times — they “lose” my paperwork time and time again — I look back and realize that over nine months has passed and I am still not making an income. Living on my reserves — eating vending machine food — I can see my savings going down faster than a date on prom-night. I am starting to figure out that going to the INC and doing things “the right way” — is apparently the wrong way to get things done in the Nexus. My virtuous values are hindering my ability to succeed as a Lanista. There has to be a better way — and I don’t give a fuck who I have to step on to get it done — I’m getting desperately low on savings — I need to make some quick cash just to stay afloat. One thing I have learned, is that the INC doesn’t know their head from their ass — the workers in the windows steal most the money that is given as fees and only pass along part of it to the INC — they are a totally fucked up, unorganized mess — but, as crazy as it might sound — I’m going back in again.

I purposefully start waiting in the wrong line — the one closest to the vending machine and the wall. It’s late at night on the fourth night — I think — it’s easy to lose track of time  here under the florescent lights — most people are sleeping, including some of the INC workers at their windows. I am patiently leaning on the side of the vending machine — the smell of body odor and mold are horrendous — the sound of buzzing lights overhead and the occasional cough or sniffle is about all that is going on — and then it happens. The worker at my window gets up for shift change — this is my chance. I quickly slide around the railing and sit down at the desk — I grab the stamping tool and hold it in my hand as the replacement worker slowly walks up to me. I ignore them at first — and they say, “hey, uh, man…was I not on the schedule tonight?”– “I guess not. You can have my shift if you want,” I answer — and the motherfucker turns around, chuckles, and walks away.

I click the “Next Button” and the person waiting in line — after rubbing their eyes from being half-asleep — comes up and hands me their paperwork. Looks like everything is in order to me — I collect their fee, stamp their paper, and send them on to the next line. I pocket most of the cash and put the rest in the drawer for the INC so no one will come looking for money. I find the schedule on the computer — enter my name in for the next night — and every night after for the next six months. It’s not exactly the fame and fortune I was told about — but I’m not going to starve — Oh yea, and I found the keys to the vending machine in the drawer — cha-ching!!!