News traveled quickly around the space station, too quickly. Lexx stood in the shadows just outside of the arena listening to the sounds of chanting crowds in various languages, with the only fully recognizable word being Lexx. It was his name being screamed by hundreds of different aliens, drowning out similar yells for Trasik. There would be a lot of betting for Lexx and he was aware of it.

The ADC loved it when an arena battle took place on a space station or away point. They got a generous cut of the proceeds from the gambling and the winner of the battle also got a percentage to do with what they wanted to.

Some players in Lexx’s situation fell for that trap. Seeking the money they could win in the tournaments and waiting around near away points and planets that had many arenas. They didn’t devote their time to their game and they had all inevitably been captured. A few had careers in which they were so good that they were moved to gaining more revenue for the ADC and its investors that way. They were never truly free, but they couldn’t be captured if they lost.

That wasn’t good enough for Lexx.

He knew at this point he could run the arena circuits and the ADC would give him a similar contract. He’d belong to them, forced to battle on their schedules and places for the rest of his life. Sure, he’d get all the benefits of such a life, but he would still belong to the corporation. They’d offered him a contract four times so far since the middle of his last set. They were acknowledging that he might actually beat the game and wanted to cut him off before he was fully free.

Lexx scanned the crowd with a sigh, rubbing the back of his neck. It wasn’t that he didn’t enjoy the attention and admiration of the crowd. He loved it. The sound made his heart beat quickly and brought up a flood of emotional enjoyment. He felt light headed and fully clear of thought at the same time. It was almost euphoric.

He noted where Chel was sitting. He’d made sure to take her to the arena coordinators office so she could get seats close to the floor and he wouldn’t have a hard time finding her after the battle. She was worried. Even from here he knew it. She was the only one sitting, looking past the railing with a frustrated look on her face.

The sound of the roaring crowd dimmed and in a brief thought, Lexx muttered a simple comforting phrase that he hoped wouldn’t come across to Chel in any other way than amidst her own thoughts. ‘Don’t worry. Lexx said he beat her before, he can do it again. Don’t worry about him. He’ll be ok.’ He knew he shouldn’t, but he couldn’t help himself. He didn’t want her to be worried about him, at least not until he was actually injured. That would be inevitable.

Then, the sound for the battle to begin echoed through the arena. It went completely dark and then low lights were lit up all around the arena. A pair of spotlights fixed themselves on the sides where the players were to enter.

Lexx took a deep breath and strode out onto the floor. Trasik walked out a quarter of the way to meet him. Female Littans made Lexx nervous. He’d been mercilessly picked on by one when he was a little kid. They were also bigger than males, much taller and while slender of build, intimidating. She was a good foot and a half taller than Lexx. She was also undeniably attractive. That didn’t help.

Trasik smirked, flipping her main dice in the air casually. Not only was she a well-known dice player, but she was also good at the game. She’d won her fair share of tournaments and her losses to Lexx,… were the only ones she had on record.

“Weeell. If you somehow manage to win this one you’ll at least walk away – be carted away with crids.” Trasik grinned, rolling her main dice between her thumb and forefinger. “The arena’s almost full and in such a short time.”

Lexx didn’t feel like mindlessly chattering on. Sometimes, there would be a few rounds of taunting and mind games, but he wanted out of here as soon as possible. “Get it over with. I’m casting my dice,.. throw yours!” Lexx scattered his modifiers around his feet, letting them register and the interface within his mind showing him what he had to work with.