Chapter 6:

Ch. 6: An offer to die for.

Neo Discadia: Rise of the Sewer Rats

“well, I feel like we’ve kept you waiting long enough. You've all seen your fair share of bloodshed, but never like this! Get ready for G-Cycling!”

The announcer gestured towards a trapdoor that opened up revealing a massive steel ball with wired fencing all around it. The ball already had someone inside it tied up to a magnetic motorcycle. The poor sap was the first to get knocked out before the jousting even started. They were about to get on their bike along with their teammates when, from behind them, the behemoth pressed their head into the pavement. next thing they know they’re waking up tied to a motorcycle in a metal ball.

“I call it the gravity ball. For those of you who may not know, there is a force of nature called gravity pulling you down where ever you go. At precisely 9.8 meters per second per second. That force we experience every day is measured as 1 G. but what if I told you there was a way to go even further beyond. In space, the closes planet with the highest gravity is 2.5 G’s which doesn't sound like a lot. But it's twice and a half of your body weight. But if you think that's impressive. This puppy goes up to 15 G!!!!!! at that level, even a trained professional would have difficulty staying alive. As the bike picks up speed, it increases the amount of G’s sustained on the biker, eventually inducing what we call G-shock, a state at which all the blood becomes too heavy for your whittle heart to pump up to your brain and pools in your legs. and your brain, deprived of its vital life juice, starts shutting down. sustained G-shock is almost certain death. Or is it? fighter pilots were no strangers to G-shock, but those who died, we don't know if it was because of the G-shock or because of the plane crash. No matter how much we asked them, they just couldn't say. SO LET'S FIND OUT, SHALL WE?” he pressed the comically big red button to start the mechanized gravity multiplying contraption. The biker's engine started revving. And before long, the throttle was activated and they started moving forward. Which made them go all the way up and around the surface of the inner side of the steel ball. As they went faster and faster, the weight on their body felt heavier and heavier. As if an elephant was sitting on their shoulders or a 1000-pound weight was pressing against their chest. And this was just the start. As the bike rode faster and faster, the sustained G’s increased little by little. As the inertia on the biker increased, all the blood drained away from their face and they fainted. Suddenly the bike lost balance and it tipped over crashing and spinning all around the place within the ball tearing the unconscious biker apart.

“aw maaaaan! dammit! We were just getting to the best part!” the announcer said now drenched in blood

Wendy heard as she shielded her eyes with the palms of her hands just before it got too graphic.

“you want us to what?” Johnny said

“I wanna bring you all in as stadium-sponsored athletes. You’ll be allowed to train in our facilities as much as you’d like, and you’ll be allowed to dine on the finest of cuisine from our top chefs to bolster your bodies. You’ll live like kings!... And queens” he said tipping his hat at Erika and Wendy who were still watching TV.

“provided we keep playing and winning in these death games.” Neo said

Marcus looked at the boy and slowly put his hat back on “that is the idea, yes… But you three got nothing to worry about. I’ve got a good feeling that what you showed us here today wasn't even a fraction of a morsel of what you're capable of.”

The sewer rats were shocked, they looked at each other like they needed to do a better job at hiding something.

“We need to discuss this first.” Neo said

Johnny was about to protest when he felt a tugging at his wrist. He looked and saw it was Erika’s hand and when he looked up, he saw her face and an expression that said “not right now, not in front of the manager” so Johnny kept quiet for the time being.

“no problem! Take all the time you need. Here’s your prize money, just keep in mind. Stadium athletes get twice the payout. I left my card in one of the stacks, give me a call when you've come to a decision.” He then signaled his bodyguards and walked out of the green room shutting the door behind him.

“what the hell man! this is what we came here for! What is there to think about?!” Johnny said

“it’s not what we came here for. It’s what you came here for, I came to make sure you guys didn't get into trouble. And this guy’s trouble.” Neo said

“but Neooooo, look at all the cash we’ve made, it makes Wendy’s jar look like a damn piggy bank!” Johnny said

“penny wise and a dollar foolish as always” Neo said

“what’s… what’s that supposed to mean?!” Johnny said

“it means, don't lose the forest for the trees.” Neo said

“stop speaking in riddles and just tell me what you wanna say!” Johnny said

Erika stood between them both. She placed her hands on both of their foreheads and flicked them both with her fingers

“OW! Why’d you flick me in the forehead?!” Johnny shouted

“what Neo is trying to say but is too arrogant to say clearly…” she said while giving Neo the stink eye “is that, we can’t base our decision on just one thing. we have to look at the big picture. Neo, you can't deny that this could be a good thing. we're already in the airwaves. If they come after us, these people will want to protect their investments. And Johnny, Who cares how much more money we’ll get if we already have more than what we know what to do with?” she said

“but Neo said it himself, this isn’t nearly enough to last us forever! We need to keep going!”

“I’m not saying we stop now. But becoming a sponsored athlete is a contract signed in blood. Once you’re in, there’s no getting out. no quitting once we have enough money anymore. They'll own us. we’ll have to compete until we die in the ring. it's a mistake” Neo said

“yeah? so what? I’d rather live a short life of luxury than a long life in poverty.” Johnny said

“JOHNNY!!” Erika shouted at him. He didn't even realize what he was saying… Not until she yelled at him. Then he remembered. He realized the meaning behind his words.

“I… uh… I’m… I’m sor- I didn't… mean to…”

“no, it’s fine. You do whatever you want. I’m not gonna stop you from signing your life away.”

Neo left the green room quietly shutting the door behind him.

Erika looked at Johnny shaking her head and giving him the stink eye.

Johnny felt bad about what he said. He didn't mean to bring it up like that. it just kind of slipped out.

“That stupid idiot” Neo said talking to himself as he walked the backstage halls of the coliseum. “what do I care, he can sign himself up for all I care! It’s not like we’ve been doing everything to get out from under their thumb, no sure put yourself under someone else’s boot see if I care!”

He looked around and saw all the facilities and the different athletes that were using them. he saw how big and massive they were working out in the gyms. He saw the steam coming out of the sauna, then he walked by the cafeteria and it looked less like a lunch hall and more like a banquette. He couldn't believe the amount of food on that mahogany table. They had all kinds of birds, meat, vegetables, and even… potatoes!? They had potatoes??? ‘I thought they had all run out before any of us were even born’ he thought to himself. The variety and quantity was something the likes of which he’s never seen before. When he felt something wet fall on his shirt he realized that he had caught himself drooling. “no! I can’t let myself get tempted. If we give them an inch they'll take a foot.” He said. But then he remembered what Erika had told him the day they left the sewers. “we’re not tied down. when we have enough, we’ll take what we can and we skip town.”

“yeah, if we make it that far” he said to himself. One thing's for certain. They wouldn't get anywhere staying where they are. he knew that well. He’s known it all his life. Things have only gotten better when he was pushed to move forward and take a risk. There have been setbacks in the past. But it was that same logic that took them out of that foster home. And took them out of the sewers. And now, hopefully, it’ll get them out of this when the time came.

Johnny and Erika were sitting with Wendy looking at the stack of money with Marcus's business card on it.

“I don't know man, it’s not like we can just sign up without him. we're a team” Erika said

“But you heard him! he wants nothing to do with this place! It's not like we'll be able to keep up if we don't train, we got lucky this time, what about the next time? we can't just keep relying on our luck.” Johnny said

“no, I know. It’s just that, the idea doesn't sit well with me, to keep going without Neo, it’s like… it just feels wrong.”

“well Eri, we don't really have an option.” He said picking up the phone while holding out the business card. At that very moment, Neo came storming in. he threw open the door with such force that Johnny jumped and dropped the phone.

“let's do it.” he said

“what?” Johnny said

“let's call him. were in this together.”

“oh, great! I was just waiting for you to give the go-ahead” Johnny said hoping to dupe Neo

“no he wasn't, we were just about to call him right now” Erika said

“erikaaaaaa why do you always have to tell him everythiiiiiing.”

“you know I can't stand to lie. It makes me sick to my stomach.”

“Well anyway, what made you change your mind?” Johnny asked

“more of the same, to keep you two out of trouble.”

“oh, of course” Johnny said

“but then I remembered something. We’ve escaped from our shackles once before. We were under their boot but we managed to get out from under them and make our escape. We’ll do it again when the time comes if we have to. So let’s live it up in the meantime.”

“hell yeah! now that's what I’m talking about!” Johnny said

“you sure about this?” Erika said

“it’s like you said, these people will protect us. and besides, you’ll thank me later when you see the dining hall”

“dining hall? what dining hall?”

“you’ll see.”

“c’mon, enough messing around, and just dial the stupid number!” Johnny said

“will you do the honors?” Erika said

Neo grabbed the phone and dialed the number written on the card in pen. He put the receiver on his ear

“manager Marcus?… were in”

Marcus who was on the other line heard the boy's affirmation

“Excellent.” He said now wearing a sinister grin.