by Lewis

The corridors were wide with tall smooth unassailably high walls. Individual tracks stretching as far as can be be seen. Inside each one a gemoan waited; huge and monstrously beautiful. The roofless tracks ran for 400 kilometres, broken up into different sections ranging from desert hills to raging rivers.

Karu ran in lane 21; A former great, far from her glory days and unknown to her considered close to ‘retirement’. A mix of Lion and Cheater with 2 giant hare legs which tucked under the belly while running, but could enable her to jump huge distances when needed. Her body had a long thick scar running down the whole length of the right hand side. The fight with Ghenkhan the rhino-raptor was still talked about, in some schoolyards. Her faded sleek fur masked a mass of muscle and rage while her eagle eyes scanned the horizon and hyena strength jaws snapped eagerly. Every part of her was modified for this race.

The stands floated deceptively serenely above the starting pits. A small city offering everything you could need for a day at the races, even luxury food outlets which sold real food that was grown in the ground; an expensive treat. The boxes followed directly above throughout the day so those rich enough could see their animals in person, cheering or jeering their gemoan of choice as gambled fortunes tumbled and fell.

The horn sounded clear and bright cutting through the hubbub of the crowds. In an instant every beast was crouched ready. By the time the second horn had faded the animals were out of sight of the regular crowds, eyes instantly turning to their screens.

The first section, which was an open sprint put the running designs ahead. But then suddenly the earth rumbled, the ground split apart, huge chasms appeared tearing the green fields asunder and sending the crowds into roars of wonder.

In lane 3 an antelope creature unexpectantly mistimed his jump. A cheer went up for the first of the fallen and a howl from one of the boxes. Not everyone would enjoy the day.

Each corridor had a giant statue shaped as a traditional animal which indicted the start of the next section. It glowed red when a creature fell. 5 sections in and 15 statues glowed.

By midway Karu had fallen back, she had faced falling trees, giant snakes, torn apart a crazed bear 20m tall and leapt through the fire desert, but she was old now and cautious. Her owner had already used one Adrenalin shot and she bled from multiple wounds. But she could not stop. The race was on and it was all she knew.

A moan from the crowd as horse hound Redfang, was crushed by one of the falling boulders. Then there were new favourites to be made.

By the second to last stage there were three contenders left. Agean the winged wolf who leapt and glided across the course, Ceaser9, the 9 limbed monkey whose 3 extra tails were as strong as legs, and whose claws were vice like and razor Sharp, and Karu.

Then complete darkness fell.

The cameras showed every thing in perfect detail of course. But the 3 remaining creatures were thrown into confusion. This first-time addition had sent the crowds wild with excitement. Agean never even saw the blades. They sliced through her wings and she crashed to the floor. Somehow still running to the crowds delight but slower. Fading. Bleeding.

Ceaser9 was quicker seeming to relish the dark, swinging and bounding forward. A small knowing smile on his owners face. 5 kilometres to go. Karu’s now gold-eyed owner grimaced and hit a button on his control. Karus whole body was flooded with Adrenalin. It was like a lighting storm inside her skin. Each paw felt electric. She leapt forward, closer, closer. She knew she could not, would not stop. This...was what she was made for.

The vetenary described it as Bilateral heart failure. Her owner just looked disgusted. The twitching body would be collected later to be reused. Nothing was wasted here. There were more races to be won. Money to be made. And all the time the cries of the champion Ceaser9 washed away the fading memory of a forgotten legend.