Friday, May 29, 2015

Lord of the Arena-09

The post-engagement breakdown went by the numbers. No one wounded, not even injured; some bruises and such, but that's it. The rigs and auxilaries need their armor patched up and the magazines for their weapons topped off, but all of that is expected- routine, even. All of that got sorted by the time they reached the expected ambush point, but the road report held true: the State Patrol and National Guard out of Duluth already engaged them and handled the matter. The way to Duluth had been cleared.

Eric and his staff rolled through Duluth and toward the arena down on the shore of Lake Superior. In addition to automotive gladiatorial events, the Duluth arena could open to the Great Lake and host maritime events, which was quite a hit in the summertime. This was one of the bigger arena in Minnesota and Wisconsin, feeding into the big ones in the Twin Cities and Milwaukee, so the smarter major players--like Eric--came to arenas like this often to keep up his fame and seek out new talent.

These arenas, in the smaller cities and larger towns, were the mainstays of the "Amateur Night" tradition. Cheap cars, owned by the arena, driven by newcomers and other wannabees early in an evening's roster of events to bring in fans and occasionally discover a new arena fighter worthy of the name. Eric once did such a thing, and so did all of his peers and rivals; few did not, such as Manhattan Matt, and they were always marked by it- "cutting in line" is how old-timers compared it.

Such events also provided an avenue for the more cunning contract killers to prepare a perfectly-deniable hit on a target. It involved significant risk, so only those already skilled as road warriors tried it, but those willing and able to prepare identities without a reputation as an arena fighter could reliably enter into such events and fight their way up to the usual open slot in the main event card. Most of the time, such a man would be knocked out early in the match, but if he survived and acquitted himself well he'd attract a sponsor and be given a shot at going pro. It is just this Cinderella story that a couple of professional hitmen attempted to do in the Duluth arena, which had a more developed Amateur Night system that most places.

When Eric and his staff arrived, the initial rounds had already concluded; four professionals infiltrated the ranks, and by now only two remained- and those two were due to face off in a midweek main event match, the winner (if he could continue) being seeded into the big card's main event on the weekend. While the staff, by and large, got to the work of setting up in their assigned arena bays and taking lodging in the attached hotel it was Eric's man and himself who--thinking this to be the case--reviewed the last few days' events here in Duluth's arena.

"Yep, pros." Eric said, "I figured that they'd want a deniable kill."

"One is a lifer for the New York Mafia. The other is a contract killer, a true mercenary, who takes bounties between bigger jobs." his man said, "If the scouting report is accurate, count the made man out. Even if he survives the match, he'll be unable to continue; he's bound to be put into the hospital."


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