A soft tone sounded in the room. Knowles looked at Vrennj.
“Our ride is here. Follow me.”
She went to the wall as it turned transparent, as Knowles saw once before. She pulled him through and the wall closed behind him.
Knowles noticed that they were standing very high in the air on a very thin ledge.
“Are you crazy, Vrennj? We are going to die!” he gasped.
Vrennj gave him a sour look. “You Earthers are always so dramatic. Just wait a second.”
A transparent egg-shaped device stopped on the ledge. The door swung open revealing seats in a somewhat comfortable space.
“Get in,” Vrennj said. Knowles watched her jump in effortlessly.
He shuffled on the ledge, looked down and tried to lean forward. His body wouldn’t allow him to move.
Vrennj rolled her eyes. “By the Odds Mistress,” she swore under her breath. She reached and grabbed the front of his suit and pulled him into the orb. The door swished close.
Vrennj directed him to a seat and said, “Coliseum.”
The egg-orb floated away. Knowles watched the platform fall away, at a somewhat high speed.
“Our world has very low gravity, Ted. You would tend to float more than fall.”
“It seemed normal in the building.”
“We keep our inner gravity level about 83.7 percent of your world’s gravity. I expect you hadn’t noticed.”
“I was feeling a little less tired than normal.”
Knowles watched as the egg-orb headed for a round opening in the air. “What’s that?” he asked pointing.
Vrennj sighed. “It is the entrance to the tube-way, Ted.”
“What’s the tube-way?”
“How do you people get around on Earth, Ted? The tube-way is a very efficient way of transporting a massive amount of people with very little energy costs. You better buckle in.”
Knowles placed the harness around his shoulders and sat back in his seat.
“One we’re in the tube we’ll be speeding up. There will be some gravity forces involved,” Vrennj said.
“What do you me…” Knowles was pushed into his seat as the orb shot into the tube. It took a few minutes before he was able to speak.
“How fast are we going?” Knowles gasped.
Vrennj activated her palm device, several equations floated above her hand. “About fourteen hundred of your Earth miles per hour. We should get to the Coliseum in about forty of your earth minutes.”
“How is moving that fast saving energy costs?”
“The orb is powered by magnetic polarity shifts within the tube itself. The power is controlled by a large traffic monitor which oversees the smooth flow of traffic. Each orb is placed on a tube that conducts us to the nearest substation and, ultimately to our destination
“The magnet polarity is powered by solar panels wrapped around the tubes themselves and well as solar farms on either side of the tube way’s right-of-way. Energy is transmitted to areas at night time from areas still in the sun. So, essentially, there is an unlimited supply of power available to the whole world at any time.”
“This is the only way to get around here?”
“Of course, what else do we need?”
“People don’t have cars to drive around in, or trucks to transport things?”
Vrennj was aghast. “Why would we want to be so archaic? The tube-way handles all our needs.”
“Except kidnapping people to fight your dragons,” Knowles muttered.
Vrennj rolled her eyes. “This is more of a spectacle than a fight, Ted. There are really no health risks involved. It is something our people value as a means of entertainment and it helps boost our economy.”
“Vrennj, what do people do here?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I know you are in charge of getting these fights together. But other than that, what do people do here? Is there some sort of large employer here?”
“Oh, I understand your question. We are all employed by the government.”
“All? Everybody here?”
“Yes, all of us. Every living human-like being. And some dragons.”
Knowles shook his head. “How can everyone be employed by the government? How does your government make money if it’s paying everyone a salary?”
“Oh we don’t really get a salary.”
“Then how do you live?”
“Well, my job entitles me to a nice apartment. I am given weekly rations – I can certainly choose my meals. I am allowed to pick out clothing throughout the year. So, there is no need of having money, as I understand the concept,” Vrennj explained.
“I guess if you don’t get a salary then you don’t pay taxes. So, the question remains, how does the government make money to pay for all these wonderful things.”
“Oh,” Vrennj understood the question. “The games.”
“Yes, the games, Ted. We host these games on out world. There are many worlds that send contestants, send gamblers, or just plain spectators. Our government depends on the taxes that are made during the games. The government doesn’t sponsor the games, per se, but the games are what help the government to function.”
“So these games are the sole supporter of your world, Vrennj?”
The orb flew through the end of the tube and was bathed in sunlight. A huge edifice loomed in the forward window.
“My God, what is that?”
Vrennj smiled. “That is the coliseum, Ted. We’ll be going there for your weigh-in.”
“Weigh-in? I’m fighting a dragon, what does it matter what I weigh?”
Vrennj rolled her eyes. “Everything matters from this point on, Ted. There are wagers placed on your weight, your hair color, your eye color, how tall you are, everything. This is for the first round of wagers. There will be more as we go. You’ll meet your opponent and depending how you do, the odds will be determined.”
“But you said I was going to win, right? How can there be odds for a certainty?”
“You know you’re going to win, I know you’re going to win. The gaming commission knows you’re going to win. The dragon knows you are going to win. But, keep this in mind as you go out in front of the public, nearly eighty-five billion people have no clue who is going to win. If you appear confident and cocky, your odds will go up. If you appear scared, your odds will go down. Either way, the government collects the taxes on each wager and the people are entertained.”
“So, it’s all about ‘entertaining the people’?”
Vrennj rolled her eyes and shook her head. “If the people are entertained, they are distracted, Ted. If they are distracted, they won’t have time to plan a revolution.”
“A revolution? What would they revolt against?”
“Nothing, Ted,” Vrennj assured him, “absolutely nothing.”