How we think the fight will go
When Saphira awoke, she was falling from the sky. Most unbefitting of a dragon, even more so, since, at that very moment in her descent, she was lapped, quite astonishingly, by a large, pensive whale and a bowl of petunias.
Overcoming the initial shock, Saphira quickly extended her massive wings, and with a few flaps, righted herself in the air. Just ahead she spied what looked like a sleek white shoe flying toward the dusty surface of the planet beneath them.
I don’t believe this, she thought, following the ship stealthily from a distance until it came to a slightly bumpy landing on the rocky surface of Magrathea.
With a self-satisfied woosh, the ship’s door opened and a two-headed, three-armed man sauntered out. Saphira landed soundlessly a few feet behind him.
Zaphod’s gait stuttered slightly, but after a pause he continued walking away from the ship as though he’d heard nothing. Nothing at all.
“I know you have your Babel fish in your ear, Beeblebrox!”
Zaphod began to walk just a bit faster, which is to say, he began to run. In one lithe move, Saphira leapt over him, landing directly in his path, stopping him short.
“I’m sorry,” Zaphod tried to look like a man who had never seen a giant blue dragon before. “Have we met?”
“Don’t play games with me fool! For a man with two heads you don’t seem terribly intelligent.”
Zaphod ran one of his hands through the hair of his more popular head, while flashing his most charming smile, trying for a look of mysterious allure on his other face.
Saphira’s single face reflected a single emotion—one of indignant outrage.
“Surely you remember Han Wavel?” Saphira roared. “I covered your debt at the Flotswad tables! And how do you repay me? By running off in the middle of the night?”
Zaphod cleared his throat. “Well, um, let’s settle this right now then,” he said, making a show of fumbling around his pockets to find his wallet. “I’m sure I can cover it…erm…how much was it again?”
“Two hundred seventy six thousand, seven hundred and nine Altairian dollars…and 42 cents.”
Zaphod made a sort of splurting, gargling sound that, had he been on Fomalhaut b, in Piscis Austrinus, would have won him the hearts of many of its most eligible bachelorettes. Instead, he continued to pat his pockets, hoping that Saphira would just go away.
“Ahh, there it is!” One of Zaphod’s faces grinned manically, blue eyes twinkling, while the other looked slightly mortified as he whipped out a Paralyso-Matic bomb and flung it toward the angry dragon. As it exploded, Zaphod ran toward the Heart of Gold.
“Hey baby, no hard feelings, ok?” he called over his shoulder.
Zaphod made for the ship’s door, but just as he got there a geyser of flame shot over his head, melting the door shut. Zaphod whipped around. Saphira glared at him.
“No one. Calls me. ‘Baby.’”
Zaphod yelped and scrambled under the ship, three arms proving exceedingly helpful in ways he hadn’t anticipated before now. Congratulating himself quite heartily on this unintentional foresight, he nearly scrambled directly into Saphira’s snarling snout.
“Do you honestly believe you can escape me again?”
Zaphod squealed and scuttled back under the ship.
“Hey um, Eddie…you there? A little help?” Zaphod called hopefully.
However, just a few minutes earlier, the ship’s computer had actually ducked out for a pint—or the artificial intelligence equivalent thereof—and was currently having a laugh with the boys at the circuit board pub, comparing outrageous end-user anecdotes. Eddie generally won at least one free round with his stories; and today he was on a roll.
Realizing he was quite alone and most likely about to die, Zaphod crouched down behind the heel of his ship. If only there was a way to fight her. Zaphod was grasping at straws. But thinking them to be of little value when in battle with a dragon of Saphira’s size and might, he chose instead to grasp at the Kill-o-Zap in his holster.
He darted out from behind the ship, keeping the gun pointed at Saphira.
“Just let me go. No one needs to get hurt here.”
“You think you can harm me with that toy?” Saphira laughed. “I will cook you like one of those Vogon crabs before you even pull the trigger!”
They fired simultaneously.
Saphira’s plume of blue flame collided with the crackling Kill-o-Zap energy bolt, creating a temporary, but powerful improbability field. The explosion of improbability blew the Kill-o-Zap from Zaphod’s hand. But since Saphira’s flame was directly attached to Saphira, the surge of improbability followed the course of her fire back into her body.
At first it seemed the charge would have no effect, other than the understandable and immediate cessation of Saphira’s blazing torrent. But then a sound, that in any other creature would be described as a belch, emitted from Saphira’s snout, along with a few wisps of blue smoke.
Saphira looked somewhat flummoxed before she quite suddenly looked like something else entirely—that something being a treacle tart. Well, a treacle tart which then became a giant Damogran Frond Crested Eagle but at 1:100 scale, which then morphed into a large, but relatively harmless, dish of grated Arcturian Megadonkey.
Zaphod, seeing that this was probably (or improbably, as it were) his last chance to flee before Saphira was turned into something more fearsome than a dragon, and certainly more fearsome than grated Megadonkey, retrieved his Kill-o-Zap from where it had landed a few feet away. Blasting a hole in his ship roughly where the door had been a few minutes earlier, Zaphod ducked inside.
Eddie who had one—or perhaps three—more digital pints than could be reasonably advised during working hours, hurried to activate the ship’s systems, accidentally ejecting several food pods, and at least one maintenance worker, in the process. Zaphod slammed on the Infinite Improbability Drive, tapping all fifteen fingers impatiently while it warmed-up.
“Do you think she’ll be OK?” Eddie slurred horrendously, all the while congratulating himself on doing such a marvelous job hiding his inebriation.
Glancing out the window, Zaphod caught a brief glimpse of Saphira transitioning into a handsome Magrathean-armchair.
“Probably,” Zaphod sighed, as the Heart of Gold lifted into the air, and sped away, putting many light-years between him and the enraged blue dragon chair.
Nancy Lambert contributed to this Cage Match
Predicted Winner: Zaphod Beeblebrox
NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON THURSDAY, MARCH 22nd, 2012, AT 5 PM, EST
Saphira is a character from the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini; Zaphod Beeblebrox is a character from the The Hitchiker’s series by John Jude Palencar. Douglas Adams image courtesy of Del Rey Books
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Cage Match fans: We are looking forward to hearing your responses! If possible, please abstain from including potential spoilers about the books in your comments (and if you need spoilers to make your case, start your comments with: “SPOILER ALERT!”