Note: Not for the squeamish. Enjoy.
The man woke up to find himself in the clearing of a lush tropical forest. As he fought through the disorientation of waking up and staring into the brilliant blue sky, he pushed himself into a sitting position, propped himself up against a tree trunk, and examined himself. He had bruises on his wrists and ankles, which contrasted further the highlights of skin developed from years of wearing rings and a watch, and he could tell from the stiffness of his muscles that his body had not been treated well recently. The left sleeve of his white dress shirt had been hastily rolled up, and there was a large needle mark on the inside of his elbow; the fresh scab really brought out the color of his necktie. He was of average build, somewhat lean, but he could tell that he wasn't one for much physical activity. His clothes were already damp and sticky with the sweat brought on by the thick local humidity, and his shirt and tie had long since gone limp. He rolled up his right sleeve to match the left and lamented that there was no shower or air conditioning in sight.
This led the man to consider the obvious questions: Why was he here, and who had brought him here? How was he going to get home, wherever that was? As much as he cared about the answers to those questions, his mind simply wasn't up to the task yet. He had clearly been drugged, and his mind was still foggy and dense from whatever they'd pumped into his veins. He couldn’t even remember his name.
He got up and began to explore. As far as he could tell, there was no civilization here, no evidence of human intervention. Since one direction was as good as another, he decided to walk in a straight line from where he'd been facing when he sat up. He noticed that there wasn't as much sound from the birds and other wildlife as he would have expected. There was an oppression about the place that seemed to go beyond the mid-afternoon heat and humidity and the bewildering circumstances of his arrival. As he walked, he loosened his necktie and undid the top few buttons of his shirt, needing more ventilation and less constriction but not daring to discard the last bit of normalcy he could hold onto.
After 7 or 8 minutes, he started to notice a rhythmic rushing and crashing that had slowly been building in the background and was just now loud enough that his mind picked it up as something relevant. He gained more speed as he worked his way toward the coast, hoping for some fresher air and a glimpse of some type of hope. As he maneuvered around the increasingly rocky and hilly terrain, he dared to imagine that he'd be able to see a ship or a city in the distance and that rescue could be awaiting him. Perhaps he could soon get into a shower and sleep in a cold room bundled up snugly in blankets and wake up on the other side of this delirious nightmare.
As he walked out of the forest and across the lush plain toward the craggy drop-off to the waters below, his heart dropped and the force of it made his knees buckle. He realized that he had reached the end of the world. There was absolutely nothing on the horizon. The atmosphere was crystal clear and he was certain that he could see for miles. There was no dark speck of land or machine to be seen.
He buried his head in his hands and cried out in frustration and anger. If he ever got his hands on the men in the helicopter who had brought him here...
Helicopter? Yes, it had been a helicopter... He remembered men in riot gear with him in a helicopter, taunting him... "Welcome to the game!" and mocking laughter rang in his mind. Men with riot gear? Why would they be after him? He was certain he wasn't a criminal... Surely not. He must have been a businessman, a man with a moderately-priced yet stylish car and a wife that would be hysterical over his disappearance. Criminals didn't dress like this, did they? Even if they did, the government wouldn't drop them off on an island or peninsula or wherever this was after being bound up and drugged, right?
With the exercise and open air increasing his blood flow and with the adrenaline brought on by revelation and angry fear, his head was finally beginning to clear.
His senses heightened and his focus more intense, he could feel the blood throbbing in his wrists, taste the salt in the air, and hear the faint whirring sounds in the background.
Whirring sounds? He turned and caught a flash of orange behind the foliage. Finely honed biological instinct told every fiber of his being that this meant danger and he began running the other way.
"You won't get away from me, mongrel!" the orange person taunted him. Orange gave chase to the man, and the man managed to catch glimpses of him over his shoulder as he ran. It was a matte black humanoid robot about 4-and-a-half feet tall, with orange tribal markings, two daggers, and a vicious face made from the same orange decal material.
"He's heading for the cliffs!" cried a nearby robot marked in blue, gesturing past the man in a vain attempt to throw off the other robot. Figuring that a straight line would quickly get him into trouble, the man grabbed a large rock and cut toward Blue in a desperate gamble to catch her off guard.
It worked, which rather surprised the man. Blue wasn't prepared for such a bold move and didn't react quickly enough to block the man's savage attack. She let out a startled cry as rock struck faceplate and toppled her over, and the man used one last heavy strike to make sure she wouldn't get back up. Her faceplate shattered, throwing shards of black and blue plastic everywhere and revealing glimpses of the wires and sensors underneath. Unfortunately, this use of time meant that Orange was almost upon him, and the man dropped the rock and sprinted blindly into the forest, putting himself farther away from the useful visibility of the coast.
Orange seemed unnaturally surefooted on the uneven terrain and was slowly but surely outpacing the man. The man twisted frantically through the trees, brown and green rushing past him in blinding streaks, until he was stopped by an immovable black arm that had stretched itself out in front of him and clotheslined him.
The man lay on his back, trying to catch his breath while his vision choked with black and burst with stars. Red stood over him, laughing.
"Looks like victory belongs to me," he growled, staring down with blank malevolence. His dark red face reminded the man somewhat of the Autobots logo with fangs, which struck him as slightly amusing somewhere in the back of his mind, except this face was more vague and menacing. It was like a snarling leopard about to devour its prey, fur and teeth already slick with blood.
Red dropped to his knees, straddling the man, and drew back his fist to put the man out of his misery. As Red's arm began to move toward him, the man was almost grateful for this bewildering end.
An orange and black blur sprang onto Red, not unlike a tiger tackling its prey, and the two robots started exchanging blows faster than the man could follow.
"You won't win this time!" Orange roared to Red.
"It's not my fault that you’re the slowest and dumbest, my friend!" Red shot back. "It’s just you and me now, and in games like this, the best player always wins!"
Seizing his opportunity to escape as they bickered and fought for the right to kill him, he rolled over and started running, cutting a different and longer path back to the coast. Maybe if those two kept occupied, he could lose them in the forest, or, if all else failed, take his chances swimming. Even death on the open sea sounded like a better option than staying here. He could only hope that the robots weren't as good at swimming as they were at everything else... Maybe they weren't waterproof, maybe he could get another lucky hit. Maybe he'd live to see tomorrow...
Where had these things come from, anyway? Could there possibly be sentient robots? If so, he blamed Honda. ASIMO's all cute fun and games, running in circles and climbing stairs, until he can do it at 10 miles an hour and starts coming at you with a knife. If there were machines capable of thinking for themselves, why would they hunt humans for sport?
He hated this game.
His lungs burning with exertion, the man had to slow down and examine his surroundings for a tactical advantage. The best thing he could find was a small fallen tree limb, still thick and resilient enough to be useful. He shouldered it, hoping that it would soon prove to be the key to his survival. If he ever got out of here, maybe he’d make a bat out of it.
As he looked around the section of forest he found himself in, he came across a shallow ravine with a little hill in the middle that seemed to be made of pure vegetation. Curious, he stepped toward it for a closer look and parted the tall grass. He stuck his head in to get a better view and then jerked back violently.
There, amidst the saplings and the unusually thick and healthy grass, had been the rictus smile of a human skull. There had been whole skeletons in there, and judging by the size of the mound, there were probably a couple dozen. Their decomposing flesh must have made an excellent fertilizer.
Overtaken by disgust and with his stomach pushed past the edge by the aftereffects of the drugs, he retched involuntarily, accidentally desecrating nature’s makeshift burial mound. As he spat and wiped his mouth, he looked up at the sky to try to wipe the image from his mind’s eye. Instead, his eyes caught a flash of white in one of the high tree branches; it was another skeleton, folded over backwards with its spine cracked and its arms and legs tangled up in the branches below. Maybe this wasn’t just where they put the bodies when they were done with them; maybe this is where they played with them.
Off in the distance, he heard a high-pitched, tormented scream that ascended into a digital squeal before cutting out. One of the robots had finally finished the other off, which meant that the victor was going to be coming hell-bent for his head as a trophy. His body ran cold with fresh adrenaline and his mind kicked into overdrive.
His best bet for survival was to set an ambush, but where? The trees were all too tall to be useful, if he could've climbed them at all, and he wouldn't feel safe or sufficiently covered trying to hide behind one like Red had done. There was too much open, too many ways the remaining robot could approach from. If only he had a gun...
Maybe "too much open" was the solution. If he could keep making his way to the shore, get his back to the west so that he wouldn’t have the sun in his eyes, and wait for the robot to come to him, he'd be able to see the robot long before it got to him and he could be ready. And this time, his weapon would give him a longer range than that of his enemy.
Seeing no better option, the man ran with all his body had left to give toward the coast. Once there, he found the outcropping farthest from the forest and positioned himself a couple feet from the edge. This way he wouldn't get pushed over, and he might even be able to throw his enemy over if he was lucky.
He didn't have to wait long, although each second felt like weeks and his entire body tingled with fear and an exhaustion that was held at bay only by the need to live.
He heard a whirring in the distance and his entire body tensed, his eyes scanning the tree line and his ears sorting through every wave of pressure in the air.
There!, at about 1:20, was that terrible orange. It was racing toward him at full speed, visibly damaged from the fight it had just survived, with daggers still held at the ready and poised to strike. His blood was the only thing it craved.
His mind made the calculations dozens of times in the scant few seconds that the distance closed. He knew exactly where to swing so that whether the robot jumped, rolled, or just kept running, he could hit it hard enough to save himself and then finish up this terrible "game."
As Orange reached the perfect distance, the man swung with all his might and...
The foolish thing just kept spinning, losing its balance. It was a simple matter to walk over to it and push it down, watching the pitiful stick it had tried to use clatter uselessly down the cliffs to the water below. The dumb animal hadn't considered that a robot could stop far faster than anything organic.
He raised his right leg and crushed his prey's kneecaps, first the right, and then the left. He straddled the beast, as his competitor had done, immobilizing it. He cut its arms efficiently and precisely so that it could not struggle, first the right, and then the left. He then started cutting the clothes off of the thing, humiliating it, and cutting it in the ways that would best maximize and prolong its suffering. He savored its screams and played with its biology like a symphony conductor, bringing it to the point of physically unbearable pain and then letting it recover just enough to appreciate some fresh torment. He let it slip in and out of consciousness as sympathetic overload slowly destroyed its coherency; he delighted in its fear and inane babblings and laughed as involuntary tears watered the ground beneath its body.
Several minutes later, when it was beginning to lose consciousness for the last time, the animal's dim eyes suddenly cleared for a moment. "WAIT!" it gasped. "My name is–"
The robot plunged his daggers through the front of the beast's skull as hard as he could, crushing in the thing's face and running the daggers into the ground beneath its head. Propelled by the sudden force, brain matter squirted out through fractures in its skull. Rich red blood flowed through the verdant undergrowth, mingling with the rich virgin soil, and the robot raised his hands above his head and cried out in victory.
Masato Sakaguchi, hands still raised, turned from his monitor to face the crowd and bowed, accepting their praise and reveling in their adulation. Still aflush with excitement and pride, he congratulated his two competitors on a game well played, graciously apologized for the damage to their robots, and walked over to the podium to accept the trophy and oversized check that signified his status as the 23rd Cyberathletic Underground Entertainment champion.
Life was only getting better.