"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, ARE YOU READY FOR ROUND THREE?!"
The judges voices carried through the giant stadium. An immense, thunderous applause erupted.
The stadium lights were bright and shone down upon a strange looking stage. It now appeared to be a gym of some sort. Trr was puzzled but when was he never by these rounds. The eight remaining competitors stepped forward into light gazing upon it all. The judges were projected onto a giant holographic screen next to the stage. They all looked so big and ecstatic.
"Round Three shall being a few moments! Competitors take you seats while we prepare the game." Silca's bot appeared from behind them escorting the bunch into their own private seating area. They could still see out upon the stage with the convenience of being hidden from the crowd. Trr was thankful of that, he could clear his head better. He managed to take this time to get a look at his fellow competitors. Only him and seven others. That's crazy. Have that many people really been eliminated already? His stomach churned and he prayed he'd hold down breakfast.
Speaking of which...He and Yrr had finally managed to get down there in one piece this time. After his short rest they'd woken up early to chit chat and eat a proper breakfast like...responsible people? It was nice to be with her, a familiar, friendly, face especially since last night's fiasco. No. He promised himself he wouldn't think of that. It was too distracting.
Trr was one of the last in. Oh space. Five giant aliens had taken the first few seats. Trr was already intimidated. They all towered over him, he felt really small in comparison. And he thought Yrr was tall...He realized his staring and shuffled past them quickly now embarrassed. Next to them though were some smaller folk, more suitable around his height. He seated himself on the last seat in the row. Peering over he tried to recall them all while he had the time to kill. After all, none of them knew the pairings or round yet. Anyone of them could be his opponent. That's real comforting...He started with those farthest from him.
The first competitor looked somewhat bored, scrolling on some social media website on his bot. Trr remembered him having a similar name...Trr-ence? Maybe, he wasn't sure. He did remember him being very athletic however, that would prove to be a threat if they paired. Next sitting beside him was an equally large green fellow. He sat starring at the floor blankly fiddling with his thumbs. Tüp I think. He had a sad face and story from what he remembered. And a strong grip...He hoped not to cross his path either. Sitting next to him was.. oh space why is Sael still here? He shuddered silently wishing anyone but Sael to be paired with. She would probably kill him, especially after that last round with poor Frank. Could no one stop her reign of terror? Next to her sat Caster, Ryso, and Gal. They were currently all talking amongst one another. There was still a nervous tension, especially from Caster, but they seemed to be distracting themselves from it. All had, what appeared to be, family photos pulled up showing them off to each other. Trr smiled and wished he'd been more sociable. It would've been nice to ease himself by talking to someone else. He'd always love company but never seemed to be able to find himself some. Then again it would probably only lead to more heart break later. It was better this way. Lastly was the fluffy pink one sitting directly next to him. Her eyes kept twitching and she kept fidgeting with her long tails paws anxiously. He wanted to say hello but it was already awkward. He remembered she'd blown up on the Xotiathon news lately for a comment she made last round apparently, but that still seemed minuscule compared to Sael. She almost ate someone! How was she still here-
"COMPETITORS!". Trr snapped out of thought watching the screen as the judges appeared once more.
"Let's begin now shall we? Eight competitors remain, let's give it up for our quarter finalists!", the crowd whooped,"Now for our game. Have any of you heard of CAPTURE THE FLAG!? However! This is no ordinary capture the flag. No that would be much too boring, no instead we've added a little twist. It's anti-gravity capture the flag!" The audience went wild. Silca handed the mic to Suls now.
"It's a simple! This round is also paired. There will be four games in total! One pair at a time will join us onstage to compete. You will each ascend the elevator and start on either side. Your goal? Grab your flag from your opponents side and cross the halfway line to get on your side and you win!". Suls held the mic up to the tiny judge, Janie.
"Only part of you has to make it across! Please no destroying of the flags, that will grant you immediate elimination!". Suls passed it to Silca again.
"Are you ready for this!? Let's cut to the chase and see those pairings now! The order has been decided randomly, team at the top will go first and so on afterwards~ Hit it guys!" Trr's stomach churned and he hoped he wouldn't lose breakfast. Please not Sael, please not Sael.
Trr immediately breathed a sigh of relief. Thank space. He was also grateful to not be first, he'd probably make a fool of himself. He was still a little confused by the round. Now though he could watch and try and pick up sort of strategy. Beside him, the small pink alien let out a groan as she realized she was up first.
"U-um, good luck." Trr mumbled trying to encourage her, she seemed very troubled, he empathized with her. She looked surprised at that. She opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out and instead she quickly turned around scampering off. Was it something he said? Did his breath smell like fish still...? Maybe Yrr was right about that-
"Trh and Caster will you please make your way to the stage? Let's get this going!" Once again Silca's bot appeared to bring them to their spot. Ryso stood up giving a quick hug to Caster before he left. Terrence gave him a high five as well. He looked really determined now, Trh looked bitter following behind him. They made their way down in front of the giant stage above them before parting ways as one crossed to the opposite side of the stage. A small elevator brought them up to the starting platforms. Trr watched curiously trying to figure out how this anti-gravity field would work.
"Here we go ladies and gentlemen!" The crowd joined in with them excitedly for the countdown. "3. 2. 1. GO", with that Silca pulled a large lever and the screen the judges were previously on faded to a camera view of the two competitors. Both hesitated for a moment. Caster made the first move attempting to get to the now closest floating block. He took a big leap and....stayed in the air?? Trr was bewildered. Caster ungraciously remained in the air flipping all around trying to gain control. It looked rough, Trr was less excited for this. Luckily he seemed to get the gist of it after a while, slowly yet surely bringing himself towards the block grabbing hold of it, it wobbled beneath him but once he gained control he stood triumphantly. The crowd was going nuts. Trh however stayed on her side's platform refusing to leave. He couldn't quite figure it out if it was because she dared not to try and advance or if she was taking a defensive strategy against Caster. The rest of their round went by in the blink of an eye. Once a winner was declared everyone cheered and the two returned to their seats. This would be awkward. There was a small break in-between as the gravity turned on and the blocks and flags were reset. The flags were neat Trr thought. They were specialized to fade from the flags of the previous two opponents to the Xotiathon ones and then flags now of Caster and Gal. Trr decided he'd watch the beginning again but focus the rest of it devising his own plan and doing quick research on Terrance.
The next two graciously followed the bot to get into position. They both seemed like good sports but he wondered how long it would last in the arena, there was too much at stake to be friendly. Their round kicked off similarly to the first though both were more aggressive. They both leaped at the start going through their awkward floating phase before getting the right sense for it. Trr hoped to see Ryso shape shift, he was amazed by the ability. If he could what would he shapeshifter into? Haha maybe Yrr, that'd be funny, she'd probably be annoyed though.
After the first few minutes he called Mr. Bot on deciding to rewatch Terrance's previous performances again. He was still so surprised by how quickly Mr. Bot repaired. The technology here, the aliens, no everything here was so cool. Mr. Bot was running as smooth as ever, still Trr spent the whole morning apologizing to him, even then he still felt guilty.
The footage was just as Trr worried for. He was, though a little clumsy, very athletic. Round One showed his climbing talent, though the gravity would be different it still smelled of trouble for Trr. Round Two also showed this. He was able to tackle even Vivi down and eliminate her. He was so much taller than Trr and stronger. This wasn't going to be easy. He sighed gazing back up to the current game. They'd been dancing around one another for a while, it was coming down to the wire. Trr felt eyes on him and followed it noticing Terrance was peeking down at him. He looked away when their eyes met. It looked like he wanted to say something but he was restraining himself back. It was probably for the best.
"CONGRATS ~~," The juges announced the winner of that round. Oh space it was time already. His stomach was already doing flips and he was trying to fight off a minor headache from the noise. He didn't feel ready at all. His eyelids rested low and his limbs felt much too heavy. Breathe. It'll be okay. The two from the round sat down. The once friendly conversations ceased as Trr thought. They sat further apart. No one really saying a word. It was much quieter now. Once again everything reset.
"Trr and Terrance please make your way to the stage!" Trr wobbled upwards saying a goodbye to Mr. Bot as he followed. The stage was much larger than he thought from where they sat. It sparkled and loomed over his head. He still couldn't believe he'd be up there soon. On the way Terrance turned around suddenly as they walked. He rubbed the back of his neck before speaking.
"Hey, good luck you know, but not too much~" He gave a playful grin and stuck out his hand. Trr didn't know what to do, slowly he reached up his tentacle, then cringed as he realized it was probably all slimy. Terrance jolted at the goop, but they shook, and he wiped his hand on his thigh.
"Oh sorry, my apologies! And um same to you!" He tried to sound confident but he was sure he must've sounded anxious still. Terrence smiled, he was probably already counting his win. They parted and Trr stood in the elevator. He shook his head trying to pump himself up. C'mon Trr, I can do this...maybe...sort of... agh the crowd is so noisy. He clambered into the elevator which later dropped him off at the tall platform. Across the long stage he could see Terrance stretching. It's now or never. Silca's bot flew to him seeming to do a quick inspection.
"Competitor Trr are you ready?" Trr shyly nodded. He tried to blur out the crowd and focused on the judges screen. The bot flew to Terrance as well doing the same thing then headed back in the direction of the wait room. Trr looked down at the blocks that waited patiently below him. How do they even turn the gravity off in the first place? Are we really going to just float about? Maybe it's an elaborate illusion. He turned his attention back upward, ridding his head of those silly questions. I trust them.
"ROUND THREE COMENSE, TRR VS TERRANCE! MAY THE BEST ALIEN WIN! THREE." Trr retracted his claws into the platform below him worried the anti gravity would make him float away like he'd seen it do to others. "TWO." He tried steadying his breaths. Let's do this. For Yrr, for Nat, for everyone rooting for me to win! "ONE." For me!