Now, ladies and gentlemen, monsters and viscounts, knights and cyborgs, gather round for this: the second and last semi-final of ZOOFIGHTS. When the two titans I am about to introduce to you have done duelling, there will only be three contenders left in the tournament, and the events of the final will be upon us.
So, without further ado, allow me to present two true leviathans of industry: a pair of engineering marvels tuned to the peak of their game by Imperial Europe's two mightiest powers. They will battle in 48 hours time in the shattered badlands of Mars' Valles Marineris, and only one shall rise back out.
Sports fans, put your hands together for the British contender, Overlord:
With his new rocket fuselage strengthened and bolted into a reinforced airframe, Trilobike has been upgraded to a formidable high-speed gunship. Although emblazoned with national insignia and awarded a brass replica of Lord Kitchener's Moustache, he retains his unguessable invertebrate will, plus his heat ray eyes and Machine guns. To this arsenal has been added a pair of guided air torpedoes, a rack of strike missiles, and two heavy bombs, as well as a lethally fast neural system augmentation, calibrated with a single drop of Nelson's blood.
And fresh from the foundries of the German team, a truly heroic entry - friends and enemies, give it up for Dred Zeppelin
Spooked from their encounter with Seanet, the Prussians have worked ceaselessly since their battle to turn their contender into a gargantuan weapons platform. Toiling round the clock with an ever growing army of scientists and engineers, they have built Psynoceros into a heavily armoured fighting craft, loaded with a double broadside of eight 5-inch calibre guns and two forward-mounred artillery pieces, plus an armoured psychic bioreactor. The reactor amplifies the power of the sperm whale brain used in last round's cannon, and projects it through Dred's horn as a physical force. When we called them to battle, the German team still had their chimpworked labour drones working on Dred to instal a second gundeck. We called a halt to their work, but let the dome-headed chimps stay aboard to defend their ship with wrenches and spanners.
Folks, here it is - the penultimate Battle of this year's Zoofights. After this, it's time for the grand finale, where everything that has happened so far will smash together in a grisly conclusion to the largest tournament we've ever run.
We have our night vision satellites trained on the continent sized canyon of Mars' Valles Marineris, where dawn - along with a vicious gunfight - is about to begin.
VIP spectators have been shuttled down into the atmosphere aboard the observation barge Maginot, where they have been seated according to their voting position.
On the German side, dawn is met with steins of dark beer and various broiled pork products, while the British terrace greets the day with kedgeree and gin and tonic. As the light grows in the sky, the hungover wake up and a great deal of shouting and cheering begins.
Far below, in the rolling mists of a side canyon, their two champions streak toward one another at huge speed...
The contenders are still a mile apart, but the battle has begun in earnest - powering down the canyon towards confrontation, Overlord is soon confronted with a cloud of heat-seeking missiles launched by Dred Zeppelin's heavy forward artillery.
Engaging his Chelios class thinking engine and bringing online his vial of Nelson's blood, the British brawler enters a mertial trance and prepares to take evasive action...
With incredible amounts of Trilobite adrenaline charging through his Cambrian arteries, Overlord corkscrews and dodges through the onrushing artillery barrage.
As huge shells slam into rock wall just inches from his carapace, the inveterate invertebrate ducks, weaves and jackknifes to avoid them.
Even though his shell is soon scratched and pitted with flying debris, it is not long before Overlord gets withing closing range of Dred Zeppelin, and the exchange of firepower begins in earnest...
In an exchange of ammunition like the clash of two opposing battleships, the two contenders light the canyon up with a devastating close range pass.
Bullets chew into armour, missiles slam into machinery, and monkey turds soar into engine intakes. Scrap metal falls like rain, and richochets rattle from the rock walls.
When the smoke clears, however, both contenders are still aloft, with Overlord making a savage turn to make an immediate second pass on his ponderous enemy...
Leaving no time for respite, the still-smoking trilobite wheels round in the sky above the canyon, and lines up for a cruel strafing run on Dred Zeppelin's flank. Fields crackle, shell casings fountain through orange mist, and explosions blossom - but the competitors stay standing.
As the British races toward it, Dred's broadside opens up, pelting the armoured crustacean with steel balls and chainshot. However, nothing scores more than a glancing hits on Overlord, and so he accelerates further, until he is in the very shadow of the monster...
Tailing Dred Zeppelin like a shadow, Overlord pours fire into the larger beast's Psy-reactor, hoping to cripple his telekinetic powers and thus make a closer attack less risky.
But although he causes severe explosive damage to the brain canister and its attendant machinery, he does not figure on the tenacity and integrity of the chimpworked mechanics, who valiantly leap from their stricken home vessel to mess his shit up in a death-defying boarding action.
Dred Zeppelin forges ahead, while Overlord labours under the battering wrenches of three angry chimpanzees. They smash sensors, prise up armour plates, and batter weapon barrels, and it's only a matter of time before one of them finds a way into the trilobite's brain...
Thinking at outrageous speed, Overlord takes a dive into a jagged crevasse barely wide enough to clear his airframe, shattering the chimps to a ragged mess on the rocks.
Climbing out of the gore-soaked gully in a burst of furious rocketry, the British contender slams his jets to full power in a bid to close with Dred Zeppelin before it can repair its psychic engines...
The Teutonic Titan thunders down a side canyon in a bid to gain enough ground to get its Psy-horn online again, but Overlord is simply too fast.
The green devil is round the corner in an instant, but does not open fire on Dred Zep. Instead, making insidious calculations at the speed of hate, it unleashes two missiles on a streaking course towards a distant precipice.
Concentrating too hard on hammering forward at full speed, the ungulate realises its peril too late, and looks up in sheer frustration as a cluster of huge red boulders tumble down towards it...
Dred Zep's bellow of dismay reverberate from the walls of the trench as the rocks smash into him, and Overlord begins to enter a steep ascent.
Seeing his hulking opponent take a battering from the avalanche he engineered, he prepares to issue a coup de grace while the behemoth is weakened, choosing to strike from on high rather than finish the job at close quarters like an animal.
With an impassive set to his moustache, the armoured avenger releases the holding clasps on his two high-yield anti-tank bombs, dropping them on a course that will land them neatly in the Rhino's neck.
The bombs fall with a sombre whistle, and Dred Zeppelin limps along with dented armour, seemingly unaware of how close death lies...
Just then, a spanner ratchets into action and a deep bass hum floods the ochre gulch. Due to the tireless labour of Dred Zep's surviving chimps, the Psy-reactor is back online.
Overlord looks down in horror at his plummeting bombs, and at the waves of blue-shite light coruscating from their target, as the rhino powers up his telekinetic horn.
For the first time in 400 million years, the armoured trilobite registers fear and surprise, as his ordnance comes streaking back at him on a pillar of energy.
Ladies and Gentlemen, put your hands together for DRED ZEPPELIN, who wins the match, and continues on to face NED KILLY in the FINAL of Zoofights IV!
To celebrate this hard-won victory by the German team, Jaegermeister will now be half price at the bar. In fact, make that one quarter price. Oh fuck it, we'll pay you to drink it, we just made so damn much in betting fees.
With all the qualifying battles of the tournament now finished, the brutal conclusion to this space madness lies not far ahead. Tomorrow, I will round up all of what has happened so far, and set the scene for our final confrontation.
Thanks again to everyone who has helped me bring these fights to you, and to you for voting, watching and shit talking each other. The best is yet to come, so stick around...