Croaka Cola vs. Monster Truck

Good evening, Sports Fans, and welcome to the Zoofights VI Extravaganzorium, in the pleasant outskirts of the bronx.

On this fine evening in late spring, we're here to witness two very special - and extremely violent - messages from our sponsors for the night; the General Monsters corporation of Detroit, and the Croaka Cola company of Terminus, GA.

So take your seats, pick up some refreshments from the Hot Drugs stand, and enjoy the entertainment our beloved financial backers have put on for you.

Ladies and gentlemen, here they come - exuse me while I hide in the lead-lined hospital(ity) suite.

"monster truck" courtesy of Sea Dawg of The Scurvy Crew - check out their site for a wealth of nautical rap tunes.

Beer cans fly through the air, morons shout, and Monster Truck barrels through the very glass of the Zoofights Jumbotron to enter the arena.

While General Monsters' chimeric nightmare revs its meaty engines beyond maximum power and belches out columns of blood-laden smoke, the unflinching mascot of the Croaka Cola corporation is already high in the floodlit air and ready to dance his horrible dance.

Gunning motors compete with the howling of 10,000 fans, while the crisp roar of Croaka Cola's rockets underpin the whole scene with a sense of impending hurt.

Monster Truck screams towards a scrap iron ramp, hoping for the taste of air that will bring him close to his unthinking opponent...

Although Croaka Cola has no sense of self with which to experience emotion, his face contorts into a grimace as the viscous soft drink in his helmet is pushed backwards by acceleration.

Monster Truck too, his face already a parody of anger through the nightmare of his re-engineering into a truck, is set in a snarl as he powers towards the ramp...

Monster Truck hits the ramp at the (admittedly impressive) speed that his lumpen wheels can carry him, and takes off into the air like an obsese vulture made of bricks.

Croaka Cola, however, is completely uninterested in a mid-air collision and comes to a complete halt, setting his rockets to standby and hovering precisely beneath the trajectory of his enemy's impassioned jump.

With absolutely no expression in his eyes, he spews gouts of his delicious syrupy beverage up into the undercarriage of the medical experiment that opposes him, while it soars overhead with a distinct air of disappointment.

With its axles and what suspension it has clogged up by ultrahigh fructose corn syrup, Monster truck knows it has very little chance of a happy landing...

Even without the inection of syrup to the undercarriage, it was a foregone conclusion.

Without any kind of supsension or shock absorbers of any kind, Monster Truck ploughs into the arena sand in the hardest landing since the Lead Bombing of Phnom Penh in nineteen Eighty-Something.

Wincing in agony, Monster Truck spins its wheels in the grit in an attempt to achieve some kind of purchase, but all it wins is the opportunity to sit within perfect broadside range of a volley of hyperconcentrate acid from Croaka Cola.

Gears start to fizz, tendons begin to dissolve, and the apathetic amphibian continues to drift around in uncaring circles, spreading refreshment as it has been taught to.

With nowhere to go but round in circles in the dirt, Monster Truck has no choice but to attempt his most potentially suicidal move - a transformation.




With a sound like a ton of oysters being shut in a church door, his limbs slowly grind into position, and he slowly contorts himself into something like the shape of a tiger. All the while acid sizzles, syrup bubbles, and flesh slowly drips away from steel as the botched metamorphasis is accomplished.

Emitting a tortured howl, Monster Truck takes his horrendous second shape, and concentrates on remembering how to use his shattered limbs as the remorseless frog continues to circle and dump noxious fluids on him...

Monster Truck, equipped with a mind tragically too aware of his physical ruin, wastes no time in using his new and extremely limited limbs to tear down one of the countless advertising billboards surrounding the arena to use as a shield against the relentless torrent of acid spewing from the egoless aggressor in the sky.

Although floods of flesh-dissolving fluid have already made their way into his mangled innards, he strains with all his Detroit-engineered might to avoid further dissolution and attempts to replicate one of the life-saving maneuvres taught to him by his corporate communications team before the fight.

Twitching a certain muscle that almost certainly does not occur in the natural anatomy of a tiger, he launches his harpoon-tipped tow cable blindly into space.... and scores a direct hit on the despised toad.

The amphibian does not blink as the metal barb tears through his space suit, letting gallons of precious Croaka Cola fall in soggy arcs to the arena floor. Croak ramps up his jets to maximum power, but after so much controlled hovering, his thrust is not enough to resist the tortured winching of the ruined tiger.

Slowly but surely, the fight moves into close combat...

Croaka cola did not expect speed from his ill-constructed opponent.

Before he knows it, he is pinned down on one of the arena's many ramps, pressed down by two tons of tigerflesh.

He continues to gush out his remaining stocks of syrup and acid, astonished that GM's shoddy effort has not yet disintegrasted, but before long he finds his zozzles ruthlessly smashed aside by walls of tye rubber and melting meat.

Monster truck finally finds the moment to unleash the fury he has built through long nights in triage and longer days in the Zoofights training catacombs.

He bashes down onto the squishy lump of glass and foil with the billboard, with his agonising wheel-feet, and with the decomposing components of his own collapsing body, knowing that every second that passes is a second closer to falling apart.

Victory seems close, and there is not a moment to lose. As he feels frog bones shatter under the effort of his continual pounding, Monster truck experiences the closest thing he has ever experienced to satisfaction.

The hulking meat chassis of Monster Truck looms over Croaka Cola's harpooned body, as he beats six shades of sugary refreshment out of the frog with his tyres.

The big guy isn't doing too good though - there are nuts and bolts clattering to the floor with every swipe, and his tail just fell off after dissolving through to the bone.

His fur is burnt in patches and glued up in others, and his innards are minced as much my his own continued motion as by the corrosive acid.

All the same, Croaka Cola is still getting the beating of a lifetime. As the blood-stained rubber boulder of Monster Truck's tyrelimb cannons into his glass dome for what feels like the fifteenth time (and it actually is, because Croaka cola is amazing at counting), it cracks through, then shatters completely under further pounding.

Suddenly, the frogstronaut is bereft of his nourishing cola. The gloopy muffling of sound snaps away, and the harsh lights of the arena are no longer softened by fizzing brown veils.

He looks up blankly through the open air, and smells blood, diesel, burning hair for the first time. He sees the bulbous, corroded form of Monster Truck towering above him, forelimb raised, and it is as if time is standing still.

Floodlights gleam in reflection off Monster truck's chrome grills, and Croaka Cola remembers the stars glinting in the darkness past the moon.

Though he is not conscious, his mind recalls the silence of orbit, and the distant, cold embers of galaxies. He remembers the black edges of space where you can see everything there is to see. He saw the edge of the universe, like the hull of an infinite boat, and it made him need to kill.

Enough contemplation. Despite cracked arms and a metal pole through his back, he sudders with new energy. It is time for him to engage his thrusters.

Fuel rushes into Croaka Cola's rocket chambers, and hot gas roars out in a searing burst of heat.

Though his eyes are drying and his blood is growing more sluggish without its constant sugar enrichment, he manages to blast out from Monster Truck's grasp, engulfing the beast in flames in the process.

He screams, and clenches his mangled paws round the tow cable that connects him to his enemy. Despite the acid, the being on fire and the aftereffects of his transformation, he is not letting the frog escape without as much mauling as possible.

In a scene reminiscent of an olympic hammer thrower with a tonne of burnt meat nailed to him attempting to win gold in the murder olympics, Monster truck begins to swing Croaka Cola around on the end of the cable, leaving a comet trail of soft drink and frog blood.

The frog puts full power to his jets, hoping to achieve enough thrust to rip Monster Truck's sorrowful arms clean away from his body.

The tiger construct's acid-weathered joints are straining already under the pull of the bloodslicked tow cable, and metal is creaking as he spins round and round.

The frog goes faster, the tiger strains harder, and the crowd are transfixed by the Whooooosh, whoooossh, WHOOOSH of the frog's towcable sweeping round above them.

Something has to give....


With his croke-adapted eyes strained and unfocused in the dry, smoke-filled air, Croaka Cola doesn't even see his own billboard coming.

The last thing he sees is his own unsmiling visage, emblazoned with the phrase "Drink Croke".

If only there was any Croke left in his helmet to drink.

He slams into the board at a mind-wrecking speed, bursting with a sound like a can of cold beans being hit by a train.

Monster Truck, now a column of twisting flames and oily smoke, roars a ruined roar of triumph as the fire crews sprint to put him out.

Through a colossal upset, in the blink of an eye, and despite vast sums of money riding on the assured victory of the frog - ladies and gentlemen... MONSTERTRUCK WINS!

Croaka Cola is out of the first round in pieces, and Monster Truck goes through to round two against ridiculous odds.




Round one, fight three: MEAT and GREET

It's time to announce our next punch-up - and this time we're taking things to the kitchen. This will be the first fight to take place outside of a standard arena setup, and will instead rock its way through the bowels of the Network Z television centre, starting in its lavish show kitchen. So, Ladies and gentlemen, let's see who's fighting in:


Hailing from the dog-eat-money world of lower Manhattan,

A burly brute with money to burn, and with no scruples about stamping on a whole bunch of heads to get to the top of the tournament, this guy is definitely going to win this fight, and all the rest. Ladies and gentlemen, I have in no way been paid to say this by BULL MARKET!

Funded by a syndicate of brokerages from New York's Maul Street, this 9 foot bull has been bred for one thing: to win Zoofights VI and make shitloads of cash for its creators.

His skin is encrusted with layers of bronze, his suit is woven through with carbon fibre, and he carries a superdense telephone on a chain.

What's more, in addition to goring, stamping and charging his way to the ruin of his opponents, this surgically strengthened minotaur thinks little of bribing, intimidating and calling in favours to ensure victory.

Add to this equation a foul little gecko willing to run all sorts of errands for its master (seriously, keep your eyes on the little f*cker or he will shit in your drink from the roof), and you have a seriously potent contender.

Bull Market - Surgeoneer’s notes:


From the diseased mind of America's greatest TV chef,

Lemeril Magasse had it all. A hit network cooking show, endorsement deals for thousands of low quality food products, a chain of glitzy restaurants - and crippling debts to match.

He hoped to solve his problems through sales of a grim new food prep gadget - The Kitchen Brutaliser - but he just didn't have the marketing nous to kick things up a notch in sales.

That's when the Zoofights foundation stepped in with a gallon of frozen terror bird semen, the arms of a bus lifter, and a surefire way to get his product noticed. Ladies and gentlemen - BAM, it's MURDUCKEN

Murducken makes a velociraptor look like a simpering, indecisive wallflower. A prime female specimen of the terror bird Titanis Walleri, recreated through test tubes, inscrutable science and lots of dry ice and compuer generated images of DNA, she has a beak built to rip up cattle, and a mean streak to match.

The only thing we felt she was missing was arms, and so we dug deep into our reserves of frozen wrestler bits and defrosted the hugest ones we could find.

Then, just because we could, we put a phenomenally high-wattage microwave in her chest cavity, for shoving people's heads into.

Murducken wants to wreck stuff every hour of the day, and she's enjoying every minute.

Murducken - Surgeoneer’s notes:





Bull Market vs. Murducken

Zoofights TV Studios! Home of such shows as "I married a Dugong" and "My Three Saw Limbs"! And today, playing host to the filming of an informercial for the MURDUCKENtm brand KITCHEN BRUTALISER! There's a couple of hours to go before the fight starts, so what better way to spend it than to extort the masses to CALL NOW! Especially when today there is a very special guest in the studio - MURDUCKEN herself!


It turns out terror birds are less known for their sales abilities and more known for shearing through bone with their gigantic beaks, a fact that the male presenter is desperately aware of as Murducken holds his head in her jaws. The female presenter's face is set in a rictus grin as she cheerfully assures the audience that this is all part of the presentation, and that the KITCHEN BRUTALISER could debone a cow as easily as Murducken could snap off her co-host's head right now, her words barely muffling the sound of the crew scrabbling for safety, and..

Like an unwanted child hurled from a skyscraper, one of the studio lights drops from its mount and slams into Murducken's head with skull-rattling force, the shock causing the massive avian to reflexively bite down and pop the presenter's head like a grape. Could it be that the specially bred Lighting Gibbons are more afraid of the mighty Murducken than they are of our Readjustment Batons?


That slimy little shit of a Gekko has decided to get in a few licks early, having climbed into the rigging and bought off the Gibbons with stocks in Mango Futures. Murducken shakes her head, tossing aside the corpse of the presenter and training beady eyes towards the dimminutive antagonist, who smiles down smugly with all the sleaze a coked-up gekko in a million-dollar suit can muster, though his smile fades a bit as the enraged bird springs higher than thought possible, a beak like the jaws of life snapping just below the girder. If she thinks to scramble up onto the kitchen bench, we could be looking at a demonstration for Finely Sliced Gekko Flakes.

With the sound of a can-opener tearing through a crowd of puppies, Murducken leaps and snaps, claws tearing chunks from the studio floor. The gekko's composure breaks, and he scurries around the girder, hurridly trying to put himself out of harms way...

...and distracting Murducken from the massive slab of bronzed beef bearing down on her like a freight train full of benjamins.

Bull Market has no personal love for his Gekko partner. There's no room for feelings like "friendship" in the cutthroat world of business. But the slimy lizard represents a significant investment for his corporate backers, and threatening company interests? Someone has to pay.

The only question is, will madam be paying by cash, cheque, or...


Ribs snap as Murducken is hit by the full force of the free market and slammed through the flimsy studio wall into the set beyond - straight into the middle of filming for "Perfect Stranglers". The Live Studio Audience falls silent as the two murderbeasts barrel into the midst of their family friendly entertainment.

Murducken rolls to her feet with all the grace of a iceskater on PCP, prehistoric synapses jolting the arms of World Bus Lifting Champion '79 into violent action.

The sound of concrete hitting steak punctuates the awed silence as Murducken delivers a devastating one-two punch, microwave heart humming with avian bloodlust. Teeth fly, blood is spat, and still the audience remains silent. Has that Gekko flooded the studio with a deadly neurotoxin, or...

Oh right.


High in the control room, a producer winches shut his gaping mouth and hurridly mashes the controls to the Audience Response Monolith. Forced laughter fills the set as Bull Market staggers to his feet, murder in his over-priced eyes.

Snorting, Bull Market rises ponderously onto his hind legs, his gekko scurrying up onto his shoulder. The two fighters begin to circle each other warily, both bloodied but unbowed. Murducken cracks her gigantic knuckles, ignoring the scrapes caused by her opponent's dermal weave. Bull Market's heavy cellphone swings from his hoof in a tight circle, each brute searching for a weakness to exploit.


The bull acts first, suddenly releasing his phone-onna-chain like a bola in an attempt to wrap it around the bird's slender neck, choking her with a leash of pure Osmium.




In a display of raw speed and frightening strength, Murducken leaps up and crushes the heavy metal phone in her beak like so much presenter skull, clearing not giving a single fuck about modern technology OR osmium poisoning.


In a newsroom not too far away, a moderately famous news anchor is trying to inform his viewers about the plight of the adorable kitten that was stuck in a storm drain with a nest of furious eelrhanas, a task made more and more difficult by monsterous grunts and sounds of tearing flesh that grow louder and louder. Sweat drips from his forehead. If he can just make it to the commercial break, maybe he can get the hell out of here.


The wall behind the unfortunate anchor explodes in a storm of feathers and blood, a screaming bellowing maelstrom of pain and brutality. Bull Market has once more driven Murducken through a wall, but this time she was ready for the charge, twisting at the last mintue to let her opponent take the brunt of the blow, claws raking at his face as her beak snaps at the gekko as he lunges in for an opportunistic bite.

But something as inconsequential as smashing through a wall isn't going to stop Bull Market. As Murducken seizes the high ground on what remains of the newsdesk, the bovine brawler lunges forward and impales one of her beefy arms on his horns. With a brutal toss of his head, he tears the limb from its augmented socket. Glass breaks and fillings rattle as Murducken releases a hypersonic scream of pain.

Thrown to the floor, weak from blood loss and the early signs of delicious Osmium poisoning, Murducken goes into a fighting crouch. While blood, gravy and electricity flows through her surgically enhanced frame she can't give up.. but pure fighting moxie might not be enough here. Bull Market looms over his injured enemy, the bovine bleeding from deep scratches and nursing a black eye and mild concussion but focused on the kill....


Like in so many boardroom victories before, Bull Market senses that this is the time to strike. His opponent is weak and getting weaker, one quick strike will end this now and reduce the mascot to so much foie gras. One sudden charge and this will all be over.


The markets might be unpredicable, but Bull Market has been relying too heavily on the charge, and Murducken is once again ready. Springing up she grabs the bull in a vice-like headlock, tumbling him off balance and sending his gekko chum rolling to the floor...


The gekko springs to his greasy feet but is immediately slammed back down as the clawed foot of a severely pissed off terror bird pins him firmly to the floor, razor claws only failing to eviscerate him by the slimmest of margins. Bull Market thrashes like a cow in some sort of fine dinnerware emporium but to no avail. Terminally off balance he can't find the financial or physical leverage he needs to escape the headlock. With a shocking sound, Murducken twists off one of his horns and pushes his head towards the glowing microwave that serves as her heart. With one horn missing, the bull's heavy featured head will now fit, but he's still massively strong. Does Murducken have the strength to overcome massive bloodloss and horrible industrial posioning and force her opponent's head inside? Or does Bull Market have one sinister trick left to play?



The bull's bellow is cut short by the massive humming crackle of a overpowered microwave discharge, the wrecked news room suddenly filled with the aroma of well done beef as Bull Market's head is cooked from the inside. Murducken screams in triumph while the gekko sezies the moment and slithers away as quickly as his tiny feet will carry him

:siren: MURDUCKEN WINS :siren:


Meanwhile, chaos in Maul Street as Bull Market's unexpected defeat send stock prices plumeting, with investors rushing to throw their cash at the hot new ticket - MURDUCKEN KITCHEN APPLIANCES.


Rond one, fight four; HACK THE PLANET

Roll up, Sports Fans - it's time for our fourth fight!

Since the start of this sorry decade, American technocrats have vied with the inscrutable genius of Japan's electronics conglomerates for dominance in the field of information technology. This Saturday, the score will be settled once and for all, under the harsh floodlights of our Long Island Colloseum.

Yes folks, that's right - you're going to see two beasts tricked out to the bleeding edge of computer science slug it out in the arena, with bragging rights over the nascent digital age going to the victor. Bring your cybershades and your VR sneakers, because this fight is taking us into the screaming heart of the information age.

While this fight was drawn randomly based on your picks of this year's competitors, you could not have chosen more fitting combatants. My good friends, take a seat for


First up, straight from the teeming factories of mighty Tokyo,

Trailing wires and flickering with futuristic lighting, this chitinous champion is the perfect fusion of invertebrate logic and callous electric calculation. Ladies and gentlemen, there will never be enough quarters in the world to beat this thing at centipede. I give you... PLAYING MANTIS!

The Japanese Sintendo Corporation have been playing the long game, planning their entry to this tournament since their very inception. In a vast glasshouse in Kyoto, generations of giant mantises have been bred for strength, size and murderous efficiency, with the final candidates wired up to banks of circuitry and subjected to endless playthroughs of arcade games.

One by one their minds fizzled out, until only one remained, a vicious female capable of winning three games of Tetris at once. Through endless rounds of surgery and synaptic tomfoolery she has been grossly enlarged to inhabit a towering semi-artificial exoskeleton, and hooked up to banks of circuit boards and complex holographic projectors.

Now she is a chilling spectre of consumer electronics, her insect mind no longer separable from the programming of her many built-in consoles. Hovering in a cloud of exhaust fumes and bleepy bloopy noises, she is capable of projecting and controlling multiple images of herself to distract her enemies before swooping in to savage them with precision-engineered chainsaw limbs and acid-dripping diamond mandibles.

Although extremely fragile compared to many competitors, her aggression and reflexes are of the first order. She makes us feel uncomfortable.

Playing Mantis - Surgeoneer’s notes:


From the hardware houses of the Pacific Northwest,

Hearing rumours of a murderous arthropod being shipped to New York to showcase Japan's dominance over the electronic arts, the Fish Supercomputer Company wasted no time in creating their answer to the mantid menace.

With colossal technological and financial reserves to draw on, they set to work in a cavernous foundry that rang with the sounds of welding torches and titanic cooling fans for a month straight.

The pilot for their war machine was a humble specimen of the noble American lobster, Homarus Americanus, shipped on ice from the coast of Maine. Although neither huge nor full of hate, the brave crustacean took in his stride the days of ganglion suturing and neural hookups, and performed with stalwart professionalism in every test of reason and mental strength he was set.

Now, locked inside a tank with the finest supercomputer of the era, he is known as CRAY FISH

Cray Fish floats in a briny sac, within the heart of a behemoth. His speck of a brain is hooked up to a veritable hill of raw 1980s processing power, and the nerves that once moved his claws through the weedy depths of his home now activate a massive pair of steel crushers.

He sees through an array of cold lenses, and can only communicate with the world through a blinking LED screen.

Sometimes he is happy:


And sometimes he is absolutely furious:


But though he is simple, he is not stupid. Although still driven by simple Crustacean pragmatism, he has access to exponentially greater powers of computation through the thinking machine built up around him.

Furthermore, he is equipped with a pair of one-shot claw harpoons, capable of battering into any electronic target and attempting to flood it with lobstery thoughts.

Nevertheless, his power comes with a price - the thrumming processors and diesel engines inside his thick steel carapace generate vast amounts of heat, which must be constantly vented through a pair of modified jet turbines bolted to his back. And if he gets confused, things really start getting warm, and he must either vent dramatically, or boil...

Cray Fish - Surgeoneer’s notes:

"Load it up, Jimmy.... we've got a week to show the world we fucking own the digital age, and our little friend in there is going to need to get totally pumped"




Playing Mantis vs. Cray Fish

Good day to you, Sports Fans, and welcome to this very special Sunday morning bout of animal combat!

We're going to plug you straight into the action here, with the fight coming to you live from our arena commentary team - with this much advanced hardware being tested to destruction tonight, you can be sure the atmosphere will be electric.

So pour some rum in your porridge and rustle up a bowl of Scornflakes, because the battering is about to begin!


Beef: Good evening, Sports Fans, and welcome to the Z Network Murdertorium. I’m Beef Brokeford and this is Rad Manstrong, and you’ve joined us for the fourth fixture of this year’s Zoofights tournament - what a heck of a fight it's gonna be.

Rad: That’s right, Beef - tonight we’re gonna see Cray fish, the freshwater crustacean with 128 whole megabytes of RAM, go up against the devious Playing Mantis. This fight’s going to put good old american surgeoneering up against the best the Japanese can throw at it, and you’ve got the best seats in the house.

Beef: The tension’s like a house brick with an angry face drawn on it, Rad - I can’t wait!

Rad: And here he comes, folks! What an entrance, ladies and gentlemen - give it up for Cray fish, the digital decapod with pincers of steel and a heart of seafood.

Beef: And he sure looks ready, Rad - when you back up a crustacean with that much metal and an elephantweight thinkin machine, there’s not much gonna stand in his way.

Rad: That’s true - but he’s gotta find his opponent first. And I don’t know about you pal, but I don’t see no mantis....

Rad: Looks like Cray’s got that goddamn insect in his sites, Beef - this could be over quickly. Look at that winged fool, it's not moving even with eight tons of steel bearing down on it. That's either a very brave or a very stupid mantis.

Beef: I’m not sure that’s the real deal, Rad...

(immense crashing noise)

Rad: Ouch. I’ve just seen a massive cyborg crustacean smash into a wall.

Beef: You certainly did. But although he's a little dented round the casing, it looks like he's just a bit dazed. A run-in with a concrete wall certainly isn't going to stop him trying again...

Rad: It's like my old daddy used to say when we went crabbing in the mecha-bayou... crayfish just can’t recognise holograms.

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Beef: Wait, five projections? I thought the mantis could only do three at once... even I'm getting confused here!

Rad: I know those boys that built Crayfish are good with think machines, but there’s no way any mechanical brain could handle that many targets.

Beef: That’s right, Rad, I think he’s bugging out - no computer will ever be able to deal with this much information.

Rad: He’s not doing good, not good at all. By the way, is it getting hot in here? I think I need another drink.

Beef: Is he... glowing?

Rad: Oh christ, my eyes - I did not need that after a dusk til dawn session at the King of Beests.

Beef: I think my moustache has melted.

Rad: Well that's solved the hologram problem at least - all the dust that kicked up has made the air in this stadium thicker than my pappy's fish lump broth.

Beef: Well that's all well and good Rad, but I don't know if the mantis is even going to need her holograms to get this job done. By the look of it, that overheat may have cooked Cray Fish in his shell.

Rad: You're right beef - those fumes coming out of his shell smell like my pappy's fish lump broth. We might be in for a seafood carve-up here...

Beef: Look at that, Rad - pitiful. He's been shut down like a bacon festival in a mosque. Even if his circuitry does kick in again, he's totally vulnerable to the insect while he waits to reboot.

Rad: Do you think he's awake in there? Must be horrendous... hot water and sparking wires, and no way to move those big killer arms. This is too much for me - come on already Mantis!

Beef: Looks like you don't have to wait any longer, pal - here comes the mantis. There's going to be no more holomajiggery now - this is close quarters til it finishes, and it's what the crowd have been stoked for. They wanna see a shellfish punch an insect like a lion wants a burger. And I want another drink.

Rad: Amen to that, beef old buddy. The sound those diamond-tipped saws are making against that armoured case is setting my teeth on edge. Oh god, there are cogs everywhere.

Rad: Look at that carnage, Beef - PM is really going to town on that mechanical monstermind. She's rummaging through his innards like a gypsy queen at a yard sale. Wonder when she's going to find a nice bit of steaming hot red shell?

Beef: Hold on there Rad, I think she may have just made things more difficult for herself. Did you just see that glow in Cray Fish's eye? Whatever short circuit was locking him up, those revving claws seem to have dislodged it. The question is, will he have enough time to actually do anything before...

Both: WOAH!

Beef: I can't believe it! Blink and you would have missed that, folks - as soon as his power was restored, Cray Fish flicked his whole body like a whip and blew out one of his own heat vents to dislodge the mantis. She went flying!

Rad: That's the classic Homarid response to trouble, Beef - flick the tail and, ah, explode your heat vent. I got plenty of sore thumbs from that one back in the mecha-bayou with Pappy, I can tell you.

Beef: Still, it seems a crazy move to me, Rad - Cray Fish has already had one near-fatal overheat; I have no idea how he could sustain another, especially with his mainframe so bust up. He's going to be lucky to last another minute out there with just one vent...

Rad: Maybe a minute's all he's going to need, Beef. That data harpoon's gone straight into Playing Mantis' console-infused thorax, and I can feel the lobstery thoughts from here...

Beef: Man, that's powerful - I don't have a jot of circuitry in my body, and even I feel the urge to crack open bivalves in some Nova Scotian kelp grove.

Rad: Look at that - all she can project is little lobsters! There's no way her processors can stand up against however many flops Cray Fish can bring to this cybernetic party.

Beef: What the heck is going on down there in those unknowable arthropod minds, Rad?

Rad: I have no idea, Beef, but it's making me want to be sick. Those colours!

Beef: It looks like Playing Mantis' hardware was more than the Cray Fish team had bargained for - by the trembling going on in the big bruiser's claws, I think he's getting a lot of negative feedback.

Rad: Holy shit - by my Pappy's fish lump broth, I think he's... I think he's getting hacked!

Beef: What did the Japanese stack up in that thing? I can't believe this. Do you hear that crunching noise, Rad?

Rad: What's Cray Fish doing, Beef? It looks like he's attempting some hasty self-repairs...

Beef: I think the situation's graver than that, Rad - he's tearing off his own face. Looks like Playing Mantis has gotten right into his deepest subroutines and kicked off some seriously self-destructive programmes.

Rad: The rending steel! the gushing cryonic vapour! The sparks and the smoke! Cray Fish is ripping himself apart!

Beef: Hang on a minute... I'm beginning to wonder if this was Playing Mantis' decision at all. Do you see that silhouette? Looks like Cray Fish is hauling himself right out of his lobster support womb and going up against the mantis himself.

Rad: It's a ballsy move, but what hope has he got now? Sure he didn't have much time left to live inside that overheating steel coffin, but I fail to see how he's got any chance to prevail so far out of his element. He hasn't even got his processing power to back him up.

Beef: Whatever that lobster's got planned, it had better be good. Let's see how the mantis reacts...

Beef: We've got an old-fashioned staring match on our hands here... that goddamned lobster is just sitting there on top of his own steaming wreckage, clacking his claws like it ain't no thing.

Rad: The mantis is clacking her own mandibles Beef - I think they're talking. Do we have a human to arthropod translator in the house?

Beef: I've got professor Hanz H Bee-man on line three, and he says that the Cray is challenging the mantis to... I can't believe this... a game of tic-tac-toe.

Rad: And it looks like the mantis has accepted! I guess she just couldn't resist beating her opponent mentally before wiping him out.... that's what you get when you breed predatory insects to be hypercompetitive and obsessed with games, I guess.

Beef: She's drawing a grid in the arena sand, and making her first move.... an 'X'. How's the lobster going to respond?

With a fucking handgun.

Beef: What?

Rad: Oh crap, he's got a gun! Take cover!


Beef: I guess the American team stowed that thing in there in case everything else failed. I guess they were right to!

Rad: I can't believe this, Beef - that was Stone Cold. The mantis didn't see it coming. I guess she can win any game - but she never figured on a cheat.

Beef: That's zoofights, Rad - and I don't think I've ever seen a rulesheet yet. Now I don't know about you, but I'm heading to the bar to pick myself up a nice cold pint of whiskey while they scoop Cray up into a tank.

Rad: Take me with you, Beef. I think I need a lie down.


Ladies and gentlemen, CRAY FISH WINS!