Ladies and gentlemen, as you will no doubt be aware, it's customary at this time for me to show you portraits of our two competitors, and invite you to vote on the result of their upcoming confrontation.
Tonight, things are a little different. Tomorrow night's fight will occur under Special Circumstances, and as such the contender teams are still hard at work on modifying their entries.
The fight will be a race, along the ventral spine of a 10 mile long gas processing ship in Jupiter's upper atmosphere. It will be a simple first-to-the-finish affair, with no disqualifications for anything short of generating a singularity in the heart of the planet.
Neither the British nor the Czech team have showed up to present their entries, so we will have to take their word for it that they will have something on the starting line come tomorrow night.
Whereas the British lab is being held under lockdown, with nothing going either in or out, we have heard nothing but the sound of welding and machine tools since Kilobite went in for repairs. We dread to think what will come out.
As for the Czech team....
Well, when we went knocking to ask for their rent payment, they were passed out drunk at their desks. The nearest we could find to a plan was this:
The race begins midnight tomorrow. In the meantime, we will keep you updated on anything we can find out about the British entry.
It seems the Brits, not wanting to be outdone, have souped up their gladiator into a 20ft long, armed-to-the-teeth motorcycle of their own.
Acceleration will be a problem for this juggernaut, but the raw power behind him is phenomenal. This is shaping up to be a hell of a race...
Exhaust fumes mingle with the heady fumes of the Jovian atmosphere, as thousands of fans shipped down from the station gather and enjoy a selection of ethically questionable cocktails on the flight deck of the gas refinery ship Lear.
The hulking black hill of Trilobike broods next to wolfbike on the starting grid, casting contemptuous glances with its heat ray eyes. Wolfbike is enjoying the pretty orange sky, and the crowd waving flags, and the people making animations of him.
He knows he will have to go fast today, and keep going until something stops him, but he thinks he can do it. As the starting horn blares out through the methane-heavy air, the lupine luminary yelps for joy and guns his engine.
Speeding out ahead to the cheers of the crowd, he pays no heed to the jet-black juggernaut as it grinds into gear behind him...
Although he makes the most of his lead time in joyful howling, engine-revving and wheelies, wolfbike is soon under pressure from his pursuer.
Gatling guns, autocannons, mortars and force projectors all engage, creating a devastating hail of fire that forces the Czech competitor to duck and weave for his life.
The fight skitters on and off the main track, with stray ammunition oblitering machinery by the wayside, and it can only be a matter of time before wolfbike takes a critical hit...
Trilobike begins to build up a mighty head of steam, and gets right on wolfbike's tail. With an effortless blast from its heat rays, it sets the beast's tail alight, causing it to howl tragically.
Wolfbike swerves in panic, scraping against the walls of the audience stands and nearly losing traction on a patch of methane ice. As his happiness is perforated for the first time by a sense of menace, wolfbike resolves to do everything in his power to make sure that he loses nothing more than his tail this day.
Exhibiting something more than blind joy, wolfbike jinks off the main track, and leads Trilobike down a side channel into the ship's industrial districts. The walls grow closer and the overhead piping more dense, giving the Czech competitor far less room to maneuver.
Soon, Trilobike is closing in again, and looks set to strike...
Wolfbike storms along the pipes and gantries of the Ship's sprawling gas refineries, dodging bullets and ducking heat rays, but his opponent is pitiless in its pursuit.
Trilobike thunders on along the deck, pounding an unrelenting hail of fire towards his enemy, yet always a fraction of a second too slow to blow off an arm or mangle a wheel.
In a rage, the piston-powered palaeobiont throws open all of its reactant valves and surges forward, with the black carrion-instinct of the silurian oceans in its heart.
Hard lead and searing heat blast the superstructure along which wolfbike rides, but he does not despair.
With a crack of thunder the thick Jovian clouds part, letting a shaft of sun shine down on wolfbike like a spotlight. A thousand full throats carry across the ship's sprawling deck, as the crowd wills their champion on - no shell will touch him for that one, glorious moment...
As the crowd gets caught up in wolfbike's showboating, Trilobike lines up the perfect shot, and prepares to wipe out the pathetic mammal once and for all.
But suddenly, the road runs out.
Below and beyond sprawl the refinery towers of the 10-mile-long Lear, glinting in the cold sunlight. Wolfbike has accelerated up a rickety iron ramp, and launched himself into space without a care in the world.
Trilobike will follow, for he knows that open road lies beyond the jump. With his quarry exhausted from evasive action, the slaughter will be quick...
Fixated on the kill, it seems that Trilobike has forgotten a sense of self-preservation. Wolfbike, whether by whimsy or subtle calculation, has led its opponent to the one place on the ship where it has a disadvantage - open air.
Weighed down by tons and tons of added weaponry and shielding, Trilobike sinks like a stone when it hits air, while wolfbike sails on towards the other side, regardless.
As the ancient invertebrate plummets down the metal ravine, Wolfbike hits deck and roars on, with the finish line only two miles away...
But Trilobike is not to be defeated so easily.
As the Brittanic Behemoth plummets into the abyss, we see what the Empire team have been working so hard at all day.
Explosive bolts pop, and the war engine sheds two tons of armour and a heavy front wheel in an instant. Rocket-assisted turbines slide out from recesses in the invertebrate's chassis and begin applying a monstrous thrust, arresting Trilobike's plummet.
Stripped down to bare bones and powered by four roaring thrusters, the English competitor is back in the game.
Wolfbike has slowed to a putter, waving his muscly arms in joy as the finish line approaches. His fans chant his name, and for that moment, the world is everything he has ever wished for.
He is ecstatic to have survived the race, and no words exist to describe the pride he feels in having tricked his opponent into a fatal fall.
Sadly, he doesn't notice as the cries of jubilation segue into screams of warning, and a dark, smoky apparition tears around the bend towards him....
The rocket-powered Trilobite smashes past wolfbike with nothing but victory on its mind, making six times the mammal's maximum speed.
It doesn't even bother to wipe out its opponent with gunfire, so sure is it that it will reach the finishing line first on a trail of blistering smoke.
But Muscly arms are not entirely useless.
Wolfbike has grabbed hold of one of Trilobike's antennae, and is holding on for dear life as it speeds on, straining to hold the stitches keeping its arm attached closed for just one moment longer.
The finish line expands from a distant point to a red strip of pure victory. Trilobike guns its rockets to the point of failure, and Wolfbike hangs tough with the enthusiasm and dedication of a thousand noble hounds.
This one will come down to the milimetre...
With one last, heroic flex of his beefy arms, Wolfbike manages to push himself against acceleration and throw himself in front of Trilobike, stretching out one arm to snap the victory tape.
He crosses the line first, and enters the semi-finals.
- BREAKING NEWS -
WOLFBIKE HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE; ANNOUNCES HIS WITHDRAWAL FROM TOURNAMENT