How we think the fight will go
With my utmost gratitude and apologies to Steven Erikson and the late Douglas Adams, below is an attempt at a write up for the Rake v Beeblebrox cage match. I have tried to be circumspect, but there are minor SPOILERS for the Malazan Book of the Fallen and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, albeit small, confusing and often untrue SPOILERS…
Before anything, there was Darkness.
And its HEART was Mother Dark. Alone.
Mother Dark begat three children,
the First, Tiste Andii, were her dearest,
dwellers of the land before Light.
BUT BEFORE THAT HAPPENED A SPACESHIP SHOWED UP…
“Tell me again, Zaphod, how you knew how to find this place?”
“I told you Prefect, Eccentrica Gallumbits, who is familiar with all things bang-related, said to take a left at the Big Bang and keep going ’til it got really really dark.”
“Well, okay, it’s as dark as pitch. Now what?”
“My next opponent is supposed to be the Son of Mother Dark. So now, I pour up two Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters, step outside and seduce Mommy D. Then she’ll never love another and so this Rake-guy will never get born and I win!”
“Are you stupid or just pretending to be stupid? There’s no air out there.”
“Don’t be silly Trillian, I have a space suit.”
“How are you going to seduce her in a space suit?”
“And the sex thing? I assume you were planning on sex?”
“Well… there’s the ship…”
“Oh no, you are NOT…”
“Ok, okay… fine… she’s probably really frigid anyways. We’ll move to Plan B…”
“What’s the ‘B’ stand for?”
Before anything, there was Darkness.
And its HEART was Mother Dark. Alone.
AND THEN A SPACESHIP SHOWED UP.
AND THE PRIMORDIAL DARKNESS ECHOED WITH ONE WORD.
OKAY ACTUALLY THAT’S TWO WORDS. ANYWAYS…
A spaceship powered by an Infinite Improbability Drive is not going to appear in any one guise at any one time. Thus, while the appearance of a large shiny metal ball in the sky over the embattled continent of Genabackis would be cause for alarm, the appearance of a large shiny metal ball which becomes something resembling a large white box with windows, and then a sort of oblong shoe-like shape, still white, and then back to the ball thing again and so on, is cause for… well… MORE alarm.
Generally, when things appear in the sky over Genabackis, it doesn’t bode well for residents. And with good reason. Genabackis has a long history of weird things in the sky. Like, dragons, for instance. And a massive chunk of black rock roughly the size of a city. And then of course there are the insectile armoured Moranth on their giant carnivorous dragonfly thingies…
In fact, between the Malazan invasions, occupations, raids by giants swinging huge wood swords and then all the crap up in the sky, it’s amazing that people don’t just grab their families and perhaps a chicken as a snack for the road and say hey this just sucks let’s move somewhere peaceful like Seven Cities, or that Assail place…
Even so, people still live on Genabackis, and those people do look up in the sky… and on this particular day, a few brave and/or masochistic souls who did look up were treated to the great big ball/white bus/shoe… racing a huge black dragon… towards a big chunk of floating black rock. No dragonfly thingies, but you can’t have everything…
“Faster! That big flying lizard thingy doesn’t even have a combustion engine and I refuse to believe that we cannot get to the floating city ahead of him! FASTER!”
Zaphod Beeblebrox waved all three hands for emphasis. As pajama and robe-clad Ford Prefect was piloting the ship, Trillian was looking out the window at the lizard in question, and Marvin the Android was banging his head against a convenient, if annoyingly cheerful, door, the effect was wholly wasted. Still, it made Zaphod feel better.
“My whole diabolical master plan B depends on getting us into the city with the element of surprise. If he gets there first and closes the door, plan B is ruined!”
“What does the B stand for again?” Trillian asked, not turning from the window.
“It doesn’t matter! The plan is diabolical, and masterful. It doesn’t require clever initials.”
Anomander Rake had been hunting. The act of searching for prey with an intent to kill was a rare indulgence of his draconic nature. Still, this contest he was forced into was not done, and that meant opponents would seek him out, if he did not find them first. He preferred to be proactive. And the distraction from other concerns was a welcome one. Still, he had flown the length and breadth of the continent to no success, and a respite in Moon’s Spawn and Silanah’s company would be a welcome change. The interruption of his journey home by a large flying, shapeshifting vessel with a wholly chaotic aura was unwelcome. The vessel had nearly struck him in the air, then continued on at speed, directly towards Moon’s Spawn. The attack was unwelcome indeed. The threat to his home, unacceptable. He gathered his Elder warrens… Darkness and Chaos rising in equal parts, and then unleashed them at the vessel.
“Umm… he’s sticking his tongue out at us or something.” Trillian said from the window.
Zaphod looked at her curiously, still irate at his lack of a clever ‘B’ word. Ford, however, was a true son of England, descended from King Arthur… who knew that when a dragon opens its mouth at you, it’s time to panic. He swerved the controls hard to port and down, sending the Heart of Gold, a large white bus at that moment, plummeting faster than the Canadian government’s approval ratings following a call for yet another election. Truthfully, the ship’s abrupt shift to shoe-like form did more to avoid the blast than Ford’s driving, but even so the blast missed.
Rake watched the vessel avoid his strike and dive towards the ground, then abruptly change direction and increase speed towards Moon’s Spawn, leaving a trail of bacon in its wake. Its speed was impressive… and even resisting the temptation to stop and eat the bacon, he would not get there ahead of it. But Moon’s Spawn had other guardians…
“Attaboy Prefect. Scale-face can eat out dust. Now put us on that rock!” Zaphod exclaimed, “Plan B is going perfectly!”
“What about the dragon?” Trillian inquired.
“He’ll never catch us now,” Beeblebrox elated.
“No. The other dragon. The big red one coming at us from above.”
Once again, Prefect’s reflexes saved them. His natural tendency to run from danger sending the ship sideways in a way that only an infinite probability drive and a jabberingly terrified Englishman could accomplish.
Rake banked hard to avoid Silanah as she missed the vessel and nearly collided with him. The two dragons circled briefly, roaring, her Elder fire almost burning through the cool shield of his Darkness, before both forced down their innate draconic fury and resumed the pursuit. Ahead, the vessel, a silver ball again, entered Moon’s Spawn.
“Okay people. Time for Phase three…” Zaphod shouted, rallying his troops.
“What were phase one and two?” Trillian inquired. He ignored her.
“Ford, Trillian, grab your Kill-o-Zap’s. Cover me. Zap anything that looks threatening. Marvin, get the door. The one you haven’t dented.”
“Why do I always have to get the door…” the android whined.
“Because it’s what I pay you for.”
“But you don’t pay me.”
“Of course not, look how long it’s taking you to do a simple thing like open a bloody door!”
Signaling Silanah to circle on guard outside, Rake entered Moon’s Spawn through a large gap high up in the black basalt rock, the only practical entrance for a dragon or a large flying silver ball. He gathered Darkness around him as he flew into the gallery just below the entrance.
The intruders were below. Moon’s Spawn’s darkness and emptiness appeared to have confused them. Three of them stood outside their vessel, two holding what could only be weapons, one waving three arms and looking everywhere with his two heads.
Rake hovered on a flow of his own power, allowing the intruders to look around. They looked up, perhaps right at him, but in this place no one would see the Son of Darkness until he willed them to.
The intruders produced small lights, torches that illuminated the space around them. Rake listened.
“Where the bloody hell is everybody?” Zaphod yelled. “Plan B requires people. Tonnes of people!”
“Maybe they’re all at tea…” Prefect ventured, fussing with the edge of his dressing gown with his free hand.
“It is a pretty big place.” Trillian added. Her white jumpsuit and blond hair barely stood out in the blackness around them. “Maybe they can’t afford lights everywhere?”
“Pfah. This is nothing.” Zaphod said, looking around in opposite directions with each head, “ My third presidential palace could hold this entire rock in the swimming pool. Now… where’s this Salamander Steak guy?”
Rake descended, veering into his Tiste Andii form and dissipating the darkness around himself as he spoke.
“I am Anomandaris Dragnipurake. You are in my home. Explain yourselves. Quickly.”
The three jumped as a very tall, unnaturally dark skinned and white haired man with colour shifting eyes suddenly appeared. Rake watched, still, as two pointed their curiously spiked black, hostile looking devices at him. The third fixed the lapels of his jacket, combed back his hair, combed back the hair on his other head, stood up straight, and walked a few steps forward.
“Right, right… you’re the Flake guy I’m supposed to fight.”
Rake looked at the two-headed figure, his clothes so brilliantly eclectic that they almost shone even in Moon’s Spawn’s preternatural darkness. He probed briefly with his warrens, detecting nothing. No power, no links to other powers. At least, nothing obvious. Rake knew better than to assume weakness.
“You are Zaphod Beeblebrox. My next opponent.”, he stated.
The man bowed slightly. Rake noticed that even with his overly dramatic gestures, he kept a third arm tucked behind his back.
“That’s me. Former President of the Galaxy, master ski-boxer and general all purpose genius. You can surrender now and save us all a lot of silliness. What do you say, Mandy?”
Rake was almost amused at the man’s temerity. But his opponents thus far had been diverse and at times actual threats. Distraction was not an option.
Zaphod smiled brightly with one head.
“Of course you do. Of course. But since we can just shoot you and have done with the whole thing before you draw that sword, would you reconsider?”
“Yes. Oh… silly me… you medieval types haven’t seen guns before, have you? The black spikey things my associates are pointing at you. Very dangerous. Deadly even. Will make you perfectly dead and miserable.”
“My Tiste Andii have your associates are otherwise occupied.” Rake said.
“Eh? Who is Andy and what…?” Beeblebrox turned around to see Ford and Trillian both disarmed and standing extremely still while two tall, black skinned assassin types held sharp pointy objects at their throats. Ford looked like he might vomit. Zaphod turned back to Rake and nearly fell over the find the man standing directly in front of him now, holding an absolutely massive, black bladed sword in hand. Zaphod had the oddest impression of chains, triggering a brief flashback to an evening spent in the company of Eccentrica Gallumbits. The flashback might have run longer if the sword point hadn’t been so bloody close to his eye. “Bloody hell man, watch that thing, you could put someone’s eye out!”
“I am not amused. Concede the fight or feel Dragnipur’s bite. Your choice.”
Zaphod took half a step back, stopping the motion when the sword point followed.
“Actually, I choose option C. Also known as Plan B!”
With a flourish, he swung his third arm around and opened his hand to display its contents… a small white ball.
The sword point did not waver even slightly.
“Ah.” Beeblebrox ah’d, “Staying taciturn in the face of disaster. Very impressive mister Blake. VERY impressive. But you know it’s all over now, right? Am I right? Give up? Throw in the ever useful towel?”
The sword point STILL did not waver. Neither did Rake’s dark features. Beeblebrox sighed.
“Sod it, you don’t know what this is either, do you?”
Rake didn’t blink as he spoke. “Enlighten me.”
“That would take more cosmetic science than even a typical sixteen year old girl in my world knows, but… this, my tall dark and stabby adversary, is a SUPERNOVA BOMB!”
Sword point still not wavering. Zaphod kept talking.
“Right. Okay, here’s how it works. At the slightest shake from me, this little beauty will detonate and create a path through hyperspace all around this world to each and every sun, and destroy them ALL! Now, how about that? Ready to give up?”
Rake drew his sword back and sheathed it. He looked down at the two headed man and frowned.
“You are threatening this world.”
“All worlds, actually.”
“Would that not include your own. And yourself?”
“Nope. Last second emergency teleport thing. Moves us to a whole other dimension. Guaranteed to save us while everything else goes ka-boom. Hey… ‘Boom’… THAT’S what the ‘B’ stands for!”
“I see. Very well.”
Rake sheathed his sword and stepped forward. Zaphod raised the bomb threateningly, to the extent that a small white ball can do anything threateningly, but one step was all Rake took, and a blurry grey bubble came into existence around the two men. Zaphod’s ears popped (all four of them), and he could not see out. There was nothing inside but Rake and himself.
“Allow me to explain,” Rake said, his tone calm, “This is a pocket warren. A closed space. A fragment of Elder Shadow I have carried with me for some time. A universe , a small one, with no link to any other universe. No way in or out that I do not allow. I have had several hundred millennia, as you reckon time, to plan for threats to my people and my city. You are not the first to claim to be able to destroy all that is precious to me. I would die to save my people, my city, and even this world. You threaten all of that. Very well. I say that this warren has no link to any other world. I say that if you cast your ‘bomb’ now, it will destroy me, and it will destroy you. And nothing else. The game we find ourselves in can continue without us. My people go on without me. No doubt yours will be well without you. So… Zaphod Beeblebrox. Go ahead. Win. See what happens.”
Zaphod lowered the hand with the bomb in it and shook his head.
“I’m sorry, could you explain all that again?”
“You concede, or we both die. No other options.”
Beeblebrox went silent. Rake waited. And waited. And waited. And since even immortal patience has its limits…
“Decide, Zaphod Beeblebrox. I tire of this.”
One of Zaphod’s heads, the one that had not spoken until that point, looked up at Rake with an exasperated expression.
“Look, we’re thinking right now. Just give us a moment, will you?”
Rake frowned. His eyes changed colors a few times, but he remained silent.
Finally, Beeblebrox spoke again.
“Right. Crap. Oh, okay, fine, good one. You win. Stupid thing probably doesn’t even work anyways…”
“Yes, yes, I give up. You win. Woohoo for you. Go get a celebratory tan or something, we’re leaving.”
Rake nodded and the grey orb disappeared. Beeblebrox shouted “Ah HAH!” and threw the bomb on the ground.
Nothing happened. Nothing at all. Even the ground was unimpressed.
Abyss contributed to this Cage Match.
Predicted Winner: Anomander Rake
NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON THURSDAY, MARCH 29th, 2012, AT 5 PM, EST
Anomander Rake is a character from the The Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson; Zaphod Beeblebrox is a character from the The Hitchiker’s series by Michael Komarck and Subterranean Press. Adams image courtesy of Del Rey Books
Don’t forget–we’re always looking for fans’ depictions of these characters. Check out the details here
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!”