Ophidian Legends - Walter "Boom-Boom" Drakeís Last Great Match
by Andrew Powers
A storyline featuring the last Great Match of Walter "Boom-Boom" Drake.

Leading his team to the fourth victory in five years, Walter Boom-Boom Drake was the "It" guy in the Ophidian League in 2330. His grinning, baldhead adorned all the advertisements for Ophidian events. The Helix Co. was paying him a fortune to promote their goods. There were few who didn't either fantasize about being him, or being with him. He was on a pedestal so high he could not see the bottom.

In the midst of his hundreds of after-fight interviews in the days that followed his fourth championship victory, ElíEmeníTal, whose team Drake had defeated to claim the championship, called him a phony on inter-system television. He questioned Drake's ability as a gladiator, "One doesn't need to be good if they have a good team." There was only one way for Drake to respond: one-on-one rematch.

With the two gladiators and the media already on the Ophidian homeworld of Sysslanth, the Ophidian Lords agreed to hold the match there. The event was by invitation only, and was attended by only the most elite Ophidians, sponsors, gladiators, and media. The rest of the systems watched the match on delay when it was broadcasted throughout the universe.

ElíEmeníTal and Drake sized each other up before the match began, even though they had opposed each other on previous occasions. ElíEmeníTal was the first to speak, "I'm going to expose you for the phony you are."

"You over-the hill, cry-baby has-been," shouted Drake, "go hide behind your exit-clause."

ElíEmeníTal, earning his nickname from his ability to manipulate the original elements of fire, water, air, and earth, was no longer an official gladiator. He had been signed under a contracted that said he must compete until he made it to the championship; he did not need to win to meet this requirement. He was human, but born and raised in the Leonide system, and considered himself an alien. His powers were a great strain on him, and he went prematurely gray. He was often mistaken for being old, though he was still in his prime.

The match was underway. Drake pulled out a remote control, and from an entry point a Supply Bot mechanically walked into the arena, carrying a mass of electronic parts. ElíEmeníTal did not glance at the advancing robot. He made fists with his hands, gritted his teeth, and let his aura blaze with a raging fire. Drake quickly set to work, combining bits and pieces, and with the aid of the Supply Bot, had a rudimentary Adapter Droid functional within a couple of minutes. Drake continued to tinker with the scrap pile before him, while the Supply Bot left the arena.

Burning with rage, ElíEmeníTal stood his ground while the air stirred around him. The arena howled with the blowing winds. The din increased as spirits materialized from places unseen. The earth rose into humanoid shapes, the atmosphere became unidentifiable minions. Ghostly specters poured in like fog on the bay, and gave life to these conjured forms. Fire, dust, rock, and water sprung to life, carrying the grudges of life-given spirits. ElíEmeníTal lead his army like a General. His mystical minions waited at bay, hungry to devour.

Drake sat calmly, fitting joints together, looking only at his work. Within a few minutes more, with the help of a second Supply Bot, he had put together several more bots: one like a giant spider, one with a face like a skeleton, a couple like stand-alone suits of armor, a few of Pol-tec design, one with loose hanging electrical cords, a replica of the legendary Draxile, and one fixed with the tools to repair their damage. When he was finished, with not even an unused bolt remaining, he stood and grinned once more.

ElíEmeníTal, alight with glory, looked at Drake for a while. His robots, though numerous, were inanimate. ElíEmeníTal's minions twitched, paced, licked their lips, and growled. The arena rumbled under their movement. ElíEmeníTal hesitated, pointed a fiery finger Drake's direction, and mentally debated what to do. With a growl of his inner workings, ElíEmeníTal mapped out how the attack should go, and the spirits obeyed. His minions advanced. Drake fought off a yawn as he pulled out his universal remote. He pushed a button and the arena was under the electric glow of the Energy Collectors above, and the Energy Capsules below. In the blue hue that painted the scene, the robotic army sprung to life and worked defense.

Rock dented steel, water short-circuited wiring, fire melted holes for internal damage. The bots were not the only ones to take damage. Spirits of the dead wailed when they felt the pain of mortality for a second time.

Two dust spirits and a living flame took down the Arachnabot, leg by leg. It had not been built in vain, though. In its final moment it crushed one of the stone minions, allowing the Tomatakee to live long enough to take down a water-based spirit. The mystic minions outnumbered the cybernetic bots two to one, but the gap was closing. The Re-Gen Bot allowed them to fight after receiving their maximum amount of damage. The spirits wised up and turned their attention on it.

ElíEmeníTal played the part of healer on his side. To the untrained eye, he stood motionless, but he was spending his own energy to give these tortured spirits more time in the corporeal world. Once the Re-Gen Bot was smashed, the Br00zers went down swinging, and the Pol-tec bots had done all the damage they were going to do, Drake looked defenseless. ElíEmeníTal and Drake stared at each other for the longest minute that ever existed.

Drake whipped out his remote again and pushed a button. From the gate that the Supply Bots had used, three red robots burst into the arena. They beeped as they counted down, "Ti Te To Tal..." but before the "Boom," the remaining spirits spent their last moments of life smashing into the Energy Collectors and Energy Capsules. To the relief of ElíEmeníTal, these three explosive bots were sharing the same power source as their fallen brethren, and did not have a self-reliant source.

With the spirits back in their otherworld, and no activated or complete robot, ElíEmeníTal and Drake were again alone in the arena. Neither had moved from their location during the last skirmish; the minion battle had raged all around them. Now there was no more stalling, it was one on one time. To the excitement of the viewers, ElíEmeníTal forced a hand to become a rudimentary ax, formed of rock and fire. Drake retrieved an arm cannon that had been used by one of the Pol-tec bots. ElíEmeníTal charged at Drake and brought the ax blade down like a guillotine. Drake blocked with the arm cannon, taking a deep cut in the process. The cannon no longer functioned, and sparked and sizzled with damaged wiring. Throwing it over his head, Drake rid himself of the useless weapon and took off running.

Drake was a spry little gladiator, able to hold his own in a foot race. ElíEmeníTal was faster than most of his pursuers. He kept up with him stride for stride. Drake would never reach a safe distance like this. ElíEmeníTal swiped at him with his transformed hand, scratching Drake's back a little. Drake stopped, turning to face him head-on. ElíEmeníTal launched a windblast, sending Drake reeling. Drake stood and went for a head butt. Between ramming the blazing aura with his skull, and the open-palmed lashing he received in return, Drake took more damage than he dealt. Worse, ElíEmeníTal bled some of Drake's soul, using the energy to heal his small amount of pain.

Drake looked pale, clutched several pained areas, and ground his teeth together. Denying the pain, he dove for a small, clear dome sticking up above the ground. Mind Machine. He set to work trying to activate it. He cursed under his breath, "I need the leftovers a real construct gladiator to get him going."

ElíEmeníTal laughed. A sandy, mocking laugh. With a flutter of his eyes, he summoned forth Spirit Daggers and sent them flying at Drake. They found their marks. Drake fell down, face to the side, eyes closed, unmoving. ElíEmeníTal eyed him. Hesitating twice, he walked over to Drake's body. He kicked him. Drake opened his eyes and slowly pulled out his remote control. In one quick swoop, ElíEmeníTal snatched it from his hands. Lording over him, "I knew you were a phony."

Boasting in his triumph, ElíEmeníTal held up the remote to show the world his prize. It was the championship trophy that he'd never earn. He walked towards the center of the arena, towards the energy-less Ti Te To Tal Booms. His back faced Drake as Drake pushed himself painfully to his knees, his grin betraying the throbbing, internal torment.

ElíEmeníTal's victory boasting was distracted by the arm cannon that was still sparking. His full attention was on it when its ammunition reacted to the sizzling heat and popped. This sudden blast ignited a previously unnoticed trail of gunpowder, which flamed all the way to its source: one of the Ti Te To Tal Booms. The red robot did not take long to ignite, and blew up before ElíEmeníTal turned and ran. Its explosion threw ElíEmeníTal into the air. Its soaring flames scorched his skin and ignited the explosive-carrying robot next to it, which in turn lit the fallen robot beside it.

The three successive blows left ElíEmeníTal beaten and charred. His ability to manipulate fire could not save him from these man-made, radiation bombs. With his eyes skyward, ElíEmeníTal called for the spirits to heal and protect him. Before his prayer could be answered, the domino-explosions pulled him back in. A fallen Br00zer that lay beside ElíEmeníTal ignited in the falling, flaming debris. It caught and sent ElíEmeníTal flying again. He and the burning scrap metal hit the Arachnabot, which was also filled with explosives, and once again he was airborne with new burns.

All around the arena robots combusted, showering their red-glowing metallic parts. Each shower sparked another explosion, some safely to the side, others tossing ElíEmeníTal. Walter Drake, kneeling where he was, laughed and grimaced at the display of fireworks. At the eye of the storm, Drake had the best view. He felt invigorated with each hot wind that blew his. He continued to laugh until what he calculated to be the final explosion. This was the official finishing blow for ElíEmeníTal. Before ElíEmeníTal's body hit the arena floor for the final time, Drake was pushing himself to his feet for a victory dance.

One glowing bolt shot like a bullet from the final explosion. It melted a small hole in the top dome of Mind Machine. Before his victory dance, Drake looked back at the robot that was never intended to play a part in this match. He stared curiously at the underground bot, listening to the echoing, metal clanking that came out of it. Behind his safety-strapped glasses, Drake's eyes went as wide as his gaping mouth. He turned to run, but too late. That final bolt had found a combustible source, and Mind Machine went off like a volcano of oil and metal. The ground Mind Machine was buried beneath jumped up in a tsunami that crashed over the fleeing Drake. As Ophidian Keepers rushed to the aid of both ElíEmeníTal and Drake, the spectators covered their ears against the deafening roar of one of the sturdiest machines ever built being torn limb from limb.

Drake, after an examination and a bit of the mystical healing, walked away from the match. That's more than could be said of ElíEmeníTal. Drake's exit was not as dignifying as one would expect. Drake could not walk in a straight line, and fell over a few times. Only one person was allowed an exit interview with him. "How do you feel about this victory?" Drake stared back without a word. "Was that chain reaction well planned, or a lucky happenstance?" Drake said nothing. "Your weakest point in this match was undoubtedly the explosion of Mind Machine as you stood next to it. Is this just bad luck, or is it a failure of your planning?" Drake stuck a finger in his, trying to clean it. "There are those saying that you're getting too old for gladiator competition, and you ought to try and end on this high note. What are your thoughts on this?"

Louder than was necessary, Walter Boom-Boom Drake shouted, "You'll have to excuse me, there's a terrible ringing in my ears, and I think my brain has been rattled free of its casing." Drake stumbled off in search of further medical help.

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