Now for this installment:
Vrennj paused in front of the entrance to the Coliseum. “Now pay attention, Ted. You will follow me through the hallway. There will be thousands of reporters asking you questions. Keep your eyes forward, do not answer any questions. You’ll have a press conference after the weigh-in. Understand?”
“They will try everything, Ted. Any reporter that gets you to talk will get a big bonus. I need you to stay focused.”
“You mean like a guard at Buckingham Palace?”
Vrennj had a confused look, “Whatever.”
She walked to the door. “Here we go,” she said as she walked through.
Knowles shook his head. I’ll never get used to these doors.
The moment he stepped through he was surrounded by reporters.
“Tell me, Mr. Knowles, how does it feel to represent Earth are all these decades?”
“Mr. Knowles, how long do you think you can last against Drago Destructo?”
“Mr. Knowles, is this your first fight with a dragon? We’re told that all the dragons on Earth were killed by someone named George.”
Knowles kept facing forward and followed closely behind Vrennj. She in turn followed two large men with “Security” in glowing neon letters on their uniform.
The reporters tried everything to distract him. At one point, two topless women tried to hand him roses. When Knowles smiled at them, Vrennj pushed a virtual button on her arm. Knowles felt a small shock.
Vrennj turned and angrily pointed forward. Knowles complied.
After about twenty minutes, they came to a large cage like gate. Glowing symbols were attached in various places. One sign, “Kein Reporter” glowed in bright red.
Knowles asked Vrennj, “Isn’t that German?”
Instantly all the reporters turned on their arm computers. They then shouted all their questions in German.
Vrennj glared at Knowles, who quickly turned forward.
A line of security-clad people separated Vrennj and Knowles from the throng of reporters and pushed them through the gate. It wasn’t until a loud clanging sounded that Vrennj turned around.
“What about not saying anything did you not understand?” Vrennj said with barely controlled anger.
“Oh, I thought you said not to answer any questions,” Knowles replied.
Vrennj rolled her eyes.
“You sure you’ve never been to Earth? Maybe related to someone?”
“What?” Vrennj asked.
“You act just like the women on Earth,” Knowles explained.
Vrennj took a deep breath. She smiled. “Ted, this is the most stressful part of the whole thing. We will meet your opponent. You will be asked questions from the official reporters, which are allowed to answer. Your opponent may taunt you, feel free to taunt him back. It’s all about the match later.”
“Can you handle that?”
Knowles smiled, “I’m from New Jersey, Vrennj. We invented trash talk.”
Knowles, with Vrennj following, were led to a large double door. A man, wearing a small headset, held up his hand, signaling them to stop.
Knowles heard what sounded like a large crowd on the other side. The noised stopped when the address system started.
“Women and Men from all points of the known Galaxy, and from some points from places unknown, Welcome to the Main Game Center!”
The crowd erupted in cheers, shouts, horn blasts, and a large assortment of noisemakers.
“Before the Main Event this evening, it is our pleasure to introduce the contestants from tomorrow’s Main Event!”
The noise level once again rose.
“First, we would like to introduce the reigning champion! From our own world, Champion of the Lair of Dragons House, First Dragon of the National Dragon Institute, Victor of over 500 hundred matches, may I present: Drago Destructo!”
The coliseum went nuts. Cheers, horns blasted while some exotic theme played. The floor shook.
The crowd noise eventually subsided.
The announcer began again.
“The Challenger, from the distant world called Earth, a world that has represented well, although not recently, Thaddeus the Terminator!”
The man with the headset grabbed Knowles and pushed him through the door. Vrennj followed.
Knowles burst out of the door and gazed at the endless row upon row of seats. He could not see the highest row. Around his head buzzed all sorts of camera drones. Giant screens had images of Knowles from every direction with a confused look on his face.
Another man, wearing an identical headset, directed Knowles to a set of stairs. He climbed them followed closely by Vrennj.
After eight flights he was met by yet another headset wearing man. The man held his hand for Knowles to stop.
Directly in front of Knowles was the lower belly of Drago. Knowles looked up and saw Drago’s long, long neck with his huge fanged head staring down at him. When Drago saw Knowles eyes, he blew a long stream of fire in the air.
The crowd erupted.
“Little man,” Drago roared. “You are not even enough for a snack!”
The crowd laughed for what seemed like ten minutes.
Knowles was afraid. Vrennj said he had to talk trash. Well, here goes, he thought.
Knowles looked up. Smiling he said, “What a fine dragon! I’ll make a pair of boots out of you like I did your mother!”
The crowd immediately went silent. All the camera drones scooted away. The man with the headphones looked aghast and pointed down the stairs. “Run!” he shouted to Knowles.