A True Champion

By Anthony Jessup

"In 2291, in an attempt to control violence among deep space miners
the New Earth Government legalized no-holds-bared fighting.

Liandri Mining Corporation, working with the NEG,
established a series of leagues and bloody public exhibitions.

The fight's popularity grew with their brutality.
Soon, Liandri discovered that the public matches were their most profitable enterprise

The professional league was formed;
a cabal of the most violent and skilled warriors in known space,
selected to fight in a Grand Tournament.

Now it is 2341, 50 years have passed since founding of Deathmatch.
Profits from the Tournament number in the hundreds of billions.

You have been selected to fight in the professional league
by the Liandri Rules Board. Your strength and brutality are legendary.

The time has come to prove you are the best-
to crush your enemies-
to win the Tournament."

– Unreal Tournament, Epic Games 1999

Chapter 1: The Past and the Present

It was 2332, and there was no room for mistake. Swerto stepped forward, flak cannon in hand. He lifted the heavy orange weapon and slowly turned looking at the surrounding area. Around him were crates and many sliding doorways. He was in a warehouse, a perfect place for an amateur tournament to take place.

Deathmatch was the name of the game, it required Swerto to either kill the other person, or make it to where they couldn't fight anymore. Deathmatch was legalized 41 years earlier by the NEG, a move that was meant to bring peace. Instead all Deathmatch brought was a blood sport to fight in, much like the gladiator arena's of old.

Swerto's opponent in this match was an ex-soldier for the NEG, a Thundercrash elite. His name was Malcolm and he was quickly earning his fame. Swerto respected him, but didn't like him one bit. Standing at six feet, Malcolm stood almost eye to eye with Swerto, something that would intimidate most people given Swerto's build.

Deathmatch wasn't a sport for heroes, or people who had a powerful conscience. The people who played the sport weren't even, par se, but they weren't necessarily good either. It took a person who was willing to kill others for sport to fight in the tourney. The biggest problem with the amateurs, unlike the professional league, there was no way to "re-spawn". The process of quickly cloning a persons body and conscience and teleporting it into the arena was extremely expensive.

Swerto wasn't evil, nor was he good. He was pretty much the same as everyone else who joined the tournament. He wanted a place in the universe. Not being the most intelligent person, or the most skilled with most job worthy things, Swerto had no niche. He found his calling in the violent blood sport he was now playing.

At a little over six feet tall Swerto was definitely over average height for a teenager. He had little to fear about being menacing, he was sure he would grow more muscular over the years. Swerto wasn't small, but he wasn't overly large either. Swerto was moderately built, With his dark as night hair Swerto would one day look menacing if he wanted to.

Swerto turned around again and took another sweep of the area, his light armor allowed him to move quickly, but gave barely any protection against weapons used in the tourney. He heard a noise behind him and quickly spun to meet it.

Running toward him from the other side of the warehouse was Malcolm. He was wearing his green military armor and sunglasses. His skin was a dark color, in times long past would have been called African. In his hands he was carrying two enforcers, a high caliber semi-automatic handgun.

Swerto turned and jumped behind a crate before Malcolm could get a shot off. He slid around the corner and took a shot at Malcolm. The soldier jumped behind a different crate similarly and took cover. Swerto looked for a way out of the standoff and saw a path leading around the corner, hopefully to the direction Malcolm came from. It was his best chance, Swerto quickly stood up and shot a few flak rounds in Malcolm's general direction. As he rounded the corner Swerto looked directly at a dead end.

Not wanting to waste any time he quickly turned back around and started shooting more shells through the doorway. Swerto ran through and jumped behind the crate. When he didn't hear any fire being returned he slowly looked around the corner. He didn't see any sign of Malcolm. Swerto stood up and ran around the crate Malcolm was taking cover behind and saw that there was a hole in the floor behind it. Swerto cursed and ran back across the room where he knew a sniper rifle was stashed.

Behind a large crate there was an empty space where a rifle once sat. Swerto cursed again and stood back up thinking. As he turned around Swerto already knew he was going to have some problems. Prone in between some boxes Malcolm had the rifle and was aiming it directly at Swerto. Malcolm pulled the trigger and sent a fifty caliber round across the warehouse. The round went directly into Swerto's knee and out the other end.

The lower half of Swerto's leg detached from the rest of his body and fell to the floor. Swerto quickly fell in the other direction cursing. Swerto grabbed at the bloody stump dropping his weapon. The pain was excruciating, like nothing Swerto had ever felt in his sixteen years of life. He quickly slipped out of consciousness.

Swerto woke up on a cold cot in a large white room. He looked down at his left leg and saw a mechanical replacement. Swerto cursed again to himself, this had probably cost his family a fortune. He had already distanced himself from most of his relatives from his career choice. He didn't need any more problems with them, he didn't want any either.

Swerto sat up and looked around the white room, there was nobody in sight. As he slowly turned and got off the cot he quickly noticed the weight of his new leg., what he didn't expect was how easy it was to move. The teenage gladiator quickly walked across the room, the leg almost felt natural, except for the fact that he didn't feel anything that it touched. He turned and walked out of the room and looked around for the doctor. When he found him Swerto quickly checked out and left.

Swerto had a thirst for vengeance and needed to quench it with Malcolm's blood. Swerto headed to the only place in the colony he knew Malcolm would be at after a victory like that. When he arrived at the bar Swerto got out of his ride and walked inside. On this far reach of civilization the fact that he was under the legal drinking age didn't matter, what did was that he was carrying weapons.

As soon as he walked in two large men showed up in front of Swerto. Both of them looked like they were ready for business, but so was Swerto. Swerto grabbed at both thighs where head two enforcers in holsters. He pulled them up with lightning fast speed and pointed them at both the bouncers craniums.

"Tell me, where is Malcolm… I have a present for him." Swerto said cracking a sinister grin at one of the bouncers.

"Listen kid, we don't want trouble… just turn around and we'll forget you ever came in here." The first bouncer said. Swerto slightly tightened his finger around the trigger enough to be noticed but not make the gun fire.

"Where is Malcolm." Swerto repeated calmly, he was no longer grinning.

"He's in the private lounge in the back," The second bouncer said looking a little scared. He slowly raised his hand to reveal he also had an enforcer. "But you won't be seeing him anytime soon."

'Wrong answer," Swerto said and tightened both of his fighters. Red clouds of blood brain matter appeared behind the men's heads. Swerto moved the barrels of the weapons off of the corpses as the fell forward revealing large exit wounds in the backs of the heads. Swerto ran forward through panicking patrons toward the private lounge in the back.

Swerto kicked down the door and jumped through the open doorway. He looked around and saw an empty room except for one man, Malcolm. Malcolm had an enforcer of his own in his hand and had it pointed directly at Swerto's head. He motioned for Swerto to lower his weapons.

"Kid, get out of here. I didn't want to kill you earlier, and I don't want to kill you now." Malcolm said slightly lowering the weapon. Swerto raised both enforcers and fired a shot at Malcolm. Malcolm quickly took cover behind a large lounge chair.

"Wrong move kid, have fun in prison. Malcolm stood up and tossed the enforcer with blinding speed directly at Swerto. It hit him directly in the forehead and knocked him back. The heavy weapon nearly knocked him out on contact, but Swerto mustered enough strength to stay conscious. He tried to raise his weapons again but saw multiple rifle barrels pointing directly at him. He looked up to see six NEG officers holding weapons pointed directly at him. Swerto cursed one last time before he got carried off.

Nine Years Later…

Prison life wasn't horrible, if you weren't a teenager. Not being a legal adult didn't stop the judge from slapping two consecutive life sentences on him for double homicide. He hadn't even heard from any of his family the entire time he was here. His first year in prison Swerto was caught in a fight and killed another prisoner when he took it too far, for that he was put in solitary confinement for the remainder of his first sentence.

Solitary confinement wasn't bad either, but it did get lonely. In a ten by ten foot room with no windows or source of light Swerto quickly began to miss outside life. He hated solitary confinement, he hated prison.

He had been in prison for nine years today. Nine years in the maximum security NEG prison does stuff to people, things that aren't good. Swerto was well out of his teens now at 25. Swerto rarely ever saw the sunlight, the last time he saw it was a month ago when he was taken outside for his annual recreation time. Swerto spent it staring at the sky for six hours, something others would consider wasting.

But now sitting in a dark room on a cold cot with no source of light, the memory of the sky was enough to keep hold of his sanity. Swerto had no doubts that he would spend the rest of his life here, he only wished he had finished the job so there would be enough reason to spend it here.

Swerto stood up and walked toward the door and put his ear to it. He heard some voices through the metal slit that was used to put food in. Suddenly the door began to open and Swerto slid back a few feet. In walked a man in a red formal suit. He was carrying a large black briefcase. He closed the door behind him and looked at Swerto.

"You must be Swerto, it's a pleasure to meet you." He said raising his hand.

"Who's asking" Swerto said in a quiet menacing voice.

"Oh, quite careful are we? Oh its to be expected. I am a representative from the Liandri corporation. I have a proposition for you," He said smirking.

"Continue," Swerto said slowly waving his hand.

"As you know, the Grand Tournament is always looking for new talent. If I'm not mistaken you were in a minor league before you were convicted, in the same minor league as the Thundercrash soldier Malcolm, It was because of this, and the action you took after your loss to Malcolm that I took interest in you. We've decided to give you a quick chance to get out of prison and into the tournament." The man said smiling once more. He turned around and walked out of the room leaving the door open.

After a few minutes Swerto noticed the door was still open. He stood up and walked toward the open doorway and looked out. He didn't see any guards down the large hallway that he was at the end of. Swerto looked at the ground and saw three things, an ASMD Shock Rifle, a Flak Cannon, and a Ripper.. Next to them there was a small radio headset. Swerto put it on and spoke into it.

"Hello?" he said clearly.

"Oh why hello there," the mans voice answered, "This is simple you see. You are in a maximum security prison, I have given you three weapons with limited ammunition . If you get out alive you are in the Tournament, but before you get excited, there are worse things you'll fight on your way out than simple security guards. I'll wait for you at the only way in or out of the prison with your release papers. Don't keep me waiting, or I might just change my mind." The man said clearly back. Swerto heard a click and knew the man had turned off the radio.

Swerto pulled off the headset and threw it to the side. "Well here goes nothing" Swerto said unenthusiastically. He picked up the Ripper and shock rifle and put them over his shoulder. He then picked up the Flak Cannon and took a step forward.