Kash stood grim faced at his designated waiting spot. He used the time before the doors opened to check his firearm. He knew the pistol would work fine. He saw it replicated for him only moments ago, but he always checked anyway, just to be sure.
A cigar dangled from mouth, gripped by his yellowed teeth, a scar ran perfectly from his left eye down to the right part of his mouth. He looked every part the convict that he was. His huge body boasted muscles honed from years of combat and training, despite his older age compared to the others.
The other man jittering uncontrollably to the side nudged him in his blue armor. "Gonna kill some, right? One more win then it's the finals!" He squealed, Kash could tell his trigger finger was itchy.
"Shut yer fucking mouth, Crossfire." Kash muttered, still facing the door ahead. Though, he thought as he counted numbers on his fingers, then man was right. In a sudden rush of realization he remembered that this was their last match before the final, where the last two standing men were to fight it out.
If he won, he was allowed to walk free. Kash raised his eyebrow at the thought. Free? Did he even want freedom? Truth be told he loved the game more than anything. Dodging bullets, cracking skulls. That's what he did best. Hell, it's what got him there in the first place, he reminded himself.
His team stood ready behind the large metallic door, waiting for it to open to allow them into the newly-generated fighting arena, which, as he understood consisted of many corridors and a few large rooms. That's how these things usually go.
Their mission; to capture the flag and bring it back. Sounds simple enough, but try it dodging a few miniguns spewing bullets as large as your thumb.
The tournament heads didn't choose leaders for teams, apparently the spectators enjoyed chaos as two disorganized teams ran head long into the arena, shooting up enemies and friendlies alike. Kash brought it upon himself to lead the team though, one reason why he was still alive so long in the tournament. He didn't lead by inspiration though. He led by killing anyone who stood between him and the flag.
The truth is, you can't control these people. Convicts as ruthless as these don't accept leadership. They are too crazy.
Looking at his standard-issue pistol, he didn't fancy his chances much. He knew bigger, more powerful guns would be materialized in various zones in the arena, but he had to get there first.
"Any plans, boss?" Pipebomb, a serial killer said, standing to Kash's left. He was perhaps ten years younger than the aging Kash.
Kash simply took a long drag on his cigar and gave him his usual response, "Kill 'em. Leave the flag to me."
"What a fuckin' idea" Pipebomb replied sarcastically. Kash grinned. Truth be told he loved the arena. He loved being a gladiator. He didn't ever get attached to any members of the team though, they get killed all the time. The last match alone lost eight men out of a start of fifteen.
They get replaced after the combat though, until only two gladiators remain.
The light above them flicked red. A sign that they should get ready. When it moved to green, the doors would open and the carnage would begin.
Kash thought about giving his team a peptalk, he thought of saying something about the last match but merely shrugged instead. He took another long inhale of his cigar, but left it in his mouth. It was his good luck charm he supposed.
Suddenly, the light flicked green and the doors slid open in the same instant. The team of ten charged ahead into the new arena, their flag was being them and they would need to bring back the enemies own to theirs.
Crossfire yelled maniacally and charged forward, firing wildly into the air. Before Kash could get the insane man down, he was peppered with bullets. Crossfire was dead before he hit the ground. Shot by unseen attackers. Kash dived behind cover and yelled out in anger. Not for losing a companion but losing a number. They were down to nine already and he didn't like it. He yelled at the rest of the team to get their heads down.
It was unusual for the fight to be this close, Kash suspected this fight may have a few surprises.
He stuck his head over the flimsy barrel he was using for cover and fired a few shots down the corridor toward the incoming fire, not knowing if he would hit anything with his small pistol, he yelled at the others to do the same…
Seven Months Earlier
Kash sat slumped with his head in his hands. The sunlight shined through the tiny window in his cell, the shadows from the bars made a dark pinstripe effect on his body.
He scowled at the light, a constant reminder of life outside. It caused him to realize that he wouldn't even have a life inside soon.
He had no regrets. He deserved to be here. He'd committed terrible crimes in his forty years of life. Did ruthless things that would make a serial killer blush, but still he couldn't be sorry for what he did. Maybe that's just who he was. A killer.
Today was his last, and he felt nothing. Breakfast wasn't better and his yard-time was uninteresting. He just wanted his execution to be over with.
He was sitting on his bunk staring at nothing in particular when a guard knocked on his cell with a baton. Kash didn't look up. "Last day, you piece o' shit." The guard said with a sadistic grin.
Kash barely heard him. "Someone's here to see you." He added, and then motioned to the man in the suit next to him.
"Mr Jake Kash?" He asked, looking through the bars at the convict
Kash simply nodded his head, uninterested in talking.
The suited man turned and whispered something to the guard, who promptly walked away with a sneer.
"Mr. Kash, I am Mr. Farro. I run a rather… unique company. It's a competition of sorts. For the entertainment of millions."
Kash looked up. "So?"
"So, Mr. Kash we would like you to participate. This competition is rather exclusive. Actually it's only available to convicts. Murderers, thieves and rapists, any who is given a death-sentence may instead opt to compete in the tournament. An arena of games, to kill or be killed."
Kash stood up, facing the man. "And why the fuck would I play your games?" He asked loudly.
Farro paused, only slightly. "Because the winner walks away free. No questions, nothing. Just a free man and an expunged record… If you survive."
Kash considered this for a moment. There didn't seem to be a downside. Compete in the games. Win the fights. Kill some bastards, what could go wrong? It was better than dying in this cell.
"What's the name of this competition?" The huge man asked calmly, gripping the bars of his cell and staring coldly at the calm man in front of him.
Kash ceased fire and told the others to do the same. He peered over his cover, now a mangled mess rather than a barrel and looked for targets through the smoky mist. He could see three bodies, none others.
Satisfied they were alone he stood up and noted their surroundings. They seemed to be at a crossroad. Their flag had two corridors one left one right. Kash supposed both lead to the enemy flag. There was also a ramp leading into a lower level just in front of them.
He pointed to three of the toughest of his group. "You. Head down the right tunnel. Take down any reds that are there and keep going for the enemy flag."
Grabbing another two he shoved them down the ramp, "Cover the lower levels!" He called to them.
"You're coming with me, Pipebomb" He said and made a move to the left corridor. "The rest of you, stay here and guard the fucking flag." He called back to the two remaining team members.
Kash and Pipebomb bolted down the corridor, turning corner after corner. Moving and covering each other, they soon found themselves at another larger room. Suspecting a trap, Kash moved forward slowly.
Noticing a weapon cache, Kash picked up a levitating gun. A Flak cannon. It was heavy, but Kash lifted it with little effort, eager to test the shotgun-like device, his favorite gun.
"Oh that's fine you have the flak. I'll stick with this metal crap." Pipebomb said, waving his pistol around. Kash took no notice, but motioned for Pipebomb to follow him. "Come on" He whispered, cigar still clenched firmly.
Turning another corner, Kash didn't blink when he came face to face with two enemies, even more grotesquely scarred than himself. Kash wasted no time as he unhesitatingly pulled the trigger of his large cannon, the scatter of the bullets easily covering both startled men. The force of the gun knocked back the two and they hit the far wall, then the floor quite dead.
Kash grinned menacingly as he always did when making such up-close kills. He was too quick for the slow, dimwitted usual convict types.
Pipebomb blew a low whistle. "Nice shot." He said, nudging one of the corpses with his foot and picking up a Link-Gun one carried. "This'll do nicely." He said, discarding his pistol.
Kash ignored him and pressed on. He didn't know how many were still out there, but he knew at least five were dead now. That makes five left unless any others of his team ran into more.
The two gladiators turned another corner and recognized a familiar corridor. It was identical to the one they walked down to move into the arena from their flag, only red. That could only mean that the enemy flag was nearby.
Kash secretly hoped that there were no more enemies still defending the flag and that the rest of blue-team was doing equally well.
Gritting his teeth, Kash started forward, walking into the red-base. A bullet slammed into the wall next to him, causing him to jump back. He didn't see where the shot came from but he guessed it was the location of the flag. He picked up his dropped cigar and placed it back in his mouth.
Thinking quickly, Kash grabbed Pipebomb, and could only utter a "Sorry, buddy" before throwing the struggling younger man back into the area and into the sniper's line of sight. Sure enough a shot came, burying itself into Pipebomb's skull, killing him instantly. This time Kash saw the shooter and charged forward, firing his Flak cannon wildly at the sniper.
After a few shots, Kash stopped firing to check the damage. He saw only a pulpy, gory mess of where the sniper was. He heard a noise behind him, he twisted on the spot, his gun held high but saw one blue team member walk into the area. Kash recognized him as one of the men he had sent into the right tunnel.
"The others are dead?" He asked, noticing the man's limp.
"Yep. Dead. We got a few of them, though" The battle-hardened convict replied.
"How many?" Kash questioned firmly.
"I don't fucking know, man!" He yelled back. Kash sighed.
"Take the flag" He said, preferring another to handle the bullet-attracting cloth. The man shrugged and picked it up. He looked down the ramp leading to the lower levels, but didn't see any sign of the team he sent down there. He could only assume that his team were dead. That meant there were more enemies out there.
"Let's go." He murmured and ran down the tunnel that Kash had come from. Kash had no objections and ran alongside the flag-carrier. Inhaling oxygen and cigar smoke as he went.
His new team-mate ran on, skidding around a corner to get the flag back to the base as quickly as possible. Kash too sprinted around but was met only by gore. The blood and guts belonging to his team-mate, now
exploded by a rocket-launcher from an angry enemy. Splattered with blood, Kash hit the floor and rolled ahead, estimating the reload time of the rocket launcher and grabbing the flag.
Now the flag holder, Kash didn't fancy his chances. He rolled again and fired a shot directly at the rocket launcher, sending him flying backwards and killing him.
Kash wasn't smiling now, so eager he was to win the match. He sprinted into a dead-run. He didn't stop when he ran through the larger room, nor as he entered the corridor, an enemy saw him and fired, but he didn't care. He ran on through the fire, to his victory.
He saw his own flag. He realized it would soon be over. Dropping his flak cannon and gripping the enemy flag tight in his hands he sprinted onwards.
He was surprised when he fell to the floor. Not understanding, he tried to get up, but found he couldn't. He started to use the flag as a crutch to pull himself to his feet.
With a scowl he realized, as he saw his own blood on the flag that he had been shot. He didn't turn around to kill his shooter, nor did he even make a move to get to cover.
With another jerk, his body wretched again, more violently this time, after being shot for a second time. Then a third. With stubborn conviction he steadied himself on the enemy flag, before a fourth a final shot bought him to his knees.
His head hung low and he slumped his shoulders and it reminded him of that day, months ago. The day he was scheduled to be executed. The day he signed up to join the tournament. He was a bitter, evil man, he knew. But even he knew he should have been executed that day. He thought of the deaths he caused.
He looked at the enemy flag again. He didn't care anymore. He didn't want to win. He didn't want to live. He just regretted it took him this long to realize it. The unreal tournament would go on without him.
The Cuban cigar slipped from his mouth, extinguishing in the blood of its owner.