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DEATHMATCH: A Battle Between Champions

(Not to be confused with Celebrity Death Match)

David Bruce Bozarth

ANNOUNCER: Things are rockin' here at the Greater Helium Arena! This ERB World Network broadcast is being seen and heard from Earth to Poloda. We're so glad you could join us via Gridley Wave as the festivities get underway for the Death Match Battle Between Champions. Brought to you by Calot Coolers, the most dangerous sip you'll ever take. Let's get a feel of the crowd from Kantos Kan...

(Cut to Kantos Kan on the arena floor)

KANTOS KAN: Ed, this crowd is really hyped. Groups from Amtor, Jasoom, Sasoom, Va-nah and Poloda are here to support their champions in what will certainly be the battle of this or any century. In the pre-game excitement we have already had twenty-three duels and eight deaths. You couldn't ask for more ardent fans!

(voice over from booth)

ANNOUNCER: That's the kind of fan support we've come to expect over the last few years. What do the Amtorians have to say about their champion Carson Napier?

KANTOS KAN: There's a bit of confusion among the Amtorian fans, Ed. It appears Napier's spaceship has not yet arrived. Could this hero of millions inadvertantly duplicated his original mistake and ended up somewhere else? Only time will tell. Equally puzzling is the whereabouts of David Innes. It appears he and his team arrived early last week to do some subterranean exploring on Barsoom and have not been seen since.

(cut to Tanar on the Avenue of Ancestors)

TANAR: If I'd known it would be this cold on Barsoom, I'd have worn something more than a loincloth. Oh--Ed, we are looking upon the Procession of the Planets as each of the competing groups enter the city. What a magnificent sight! The crowds lining the avenue are -- can you hear me? -- making such a noise!

(from the booth)

ANNOUNCER: Thank you, Tanar! We now go to Ras Thavas, the Master Mind of Mars. Ras, what can you tell us of the underground preparations?

(cut to Ras Thavas, dungeon levels beneath the arena)

RAS THAVAS: Ed, there is a barely controlled chaos on-going beneath the surface. I have one of the Ptor brothers from Zodanga who are organzing the Warlord's competition to tell us what is going on.

(camera wide mastermind and interviewee)

RAS THAVAS: What are the chances your favorite will win?

PTOR: The Warlord has never been defeated. We will triumph in these events. Hi, mom!

RAS THAVAS: There you have it, Ed. These Barsoomians have no doubt that John Carter will win the day. Back to you, Ed.

ANNOUNCER: Jane Clayton is outside the beautiful twin cities of Helium. Jane, what do you have to report?

(mis-cue shot of banth pens. camera 34 locates Jane at the Gates of Helium)

JANE: I hear you, Ed.

ANNOUNCER: Jane, you're with the Jasoomian entry. Will that brute you married win?

(camera on dozens of Waziri warriors marching)

JANE: John Clayton is a shoo-in, but that is my own personal opinion. (laugh) The warriors have entered the enclave and--there he is! The crowds are expressing themselves as the Lord of the Jungle enters the arena. As expected the Barsoomians boo, but the mangani and earthlings rise in their seats with cheers. This should prove to be a hotly contested event.

ANNOUNCER: Jane, I'll go to Dejah Thoris in a moment, but before we go, can you tell me how you and the princess of Mars have been getting along?

JANE: She's such a dear. A jewel. We're also going to kick her husband's butt. (giggle)

ANNOUNCER: Dejah Thoris, you've just heard Jane Clayton's comments. What do you have to say in response?

(camera to Scarlet Tower, 25th story, pan to arena below, princess in foreground)

DEJAH: Jane Clayton is lovely, Ed. She's also a bit diluted as the Warlord will sweep all events. (wink) After the games are over--provided anyone is still alive--we'll gather for a dinner at the palace of Mors Kajak.

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, the first events are about to take place. Because of the ranking of competitors, the lesser heroes are to compete first. Those who survive will have a chance to compete with the top dogs in ERB heroism. First up, Bull, Duncan, and Mason.

(90 seconds of camera cut to Jasoomian-style calf roping, Bull wins)

ANNOUNCER: Bull advances to the semi-finals. Duare, Princess of Vepjap, is there any news regarding Carson Napier?

DUARE: That's Vepaja, Ed! What a fabulous win by Bull! Diana raced to embrace her husband at the last dismount.

ANNOUNCER: What about your husband? Any news?

DUARE: Carson? His ship has not arrived. The Amtorian team is anxiously waiting to hear from... (hand on earphone, looking delicious) Ed, I'm getting a report that Tangor of Poloda has (unintelligble as others speak. look of shock on her face) Tangor has withdrawn from the games!

ANNOUNCER: Tangor of Poloda has declined to participate? Folks, what has long been rumored is the earthling translated 450,000 light-years from Jasoom has apparently turned up his nose in this battle of giants. And...

KANTOS KAN: Sorry to break in, Ed. Bull, Byrne, and Bulan failed to make the grade. Moving on to the next level of heroes are Gahan and von Harben.

(camera wide, arena in activity)

ANNOUNCER: The elimination rounds continue. Napier has failed to appear and I'll bet Duare will dress him down as soon as -- wait, it appears Dr. Gordon King has withdrawn! And...and...here's a late breaking report: Shoz-Dijiji, Jason Gridley, Thoar, Bridge, and Johnny Lafitte have withdrawn from the competion. Tars Tarkas can you tell us what is going on in the staging area?

(camera wide to fit the green Martian on the screen)

TARS TARKAS: Ed, there's virtual chaos in the staging area. It appears a large block of lesser champions have withdrawn from the games and ... (Tars Tarkas grabs the shoulder of Shoz-Dijiji) Can you tell us why you and others have withdrawn from the games?

SHOZ-DIJIJI: As the kids these days say "Ain't no thang." We all came to the consensus that there are only two ERB heroes in this event. I'm glad Bull had a chance to enter an event with Buck and me, but let's face it square on, nobody is here to see the lower ranks. The battle is between John Carter and Lord Greystoke.

TARS TARKAS: It appears the pantheon of heroes have made their choice clear. John Carter versus Lord Greystoke. That is the battle we have gathered to see.

ANNOUNCER: Thank you, Tars. What do you make of this turn of events, Tara?

TARA: I'm merely the color commentary, Ed, but I can tell you this is truly exciting news. My father is a fabulous warrior and few on Barsoom have ever stretched his talents as leader and fighter. We should acknowledge the strength and abilities of these contestants and their wisdom in eschewing personal embarrassment fighting these two giants.