The chamber was vast and dark. Quiet hung in a heavy weight over the proceedings. Almost a hundred people filled the room, most holding their breath as they watched the contest unfold. A single spotlight shone on the two men in the center. Mortal enemies, they were here to fight for the future governance of the planet Omnia.
Behind the one-eyed man stood a battery of troops, some helmeted, some sallow-faced and inhuman. All were in black, save for a single woman dressed in flowing white. She was not watching the contest. Instead, she was staring at the motley crew behind Travis' opponent.
Behind the curly-haired Blake, three of his crew watched with varying degrees of nervousness. Jenna and Gan's eyes were riveted to the spotlight. Avon, a dark figure of calm in the group, was returning Servalan's regard with an equally unnerving stare of his own.
Omnia's rulers stood behind Blake as well. Some were fidgeting, some were crying, and a few were down on their knees praying. All were terrified that they had made a terrible mistake in agreeing to this duel.
To the sides stood the neutral observers, the powerful god-aliens who had forced this match to avoid needless bloodshed amongst their worshipers. Tall and shining, their presence was the only thing preventing the battle from spilling out among the observers.
They also stood guard over two chairs containing Cally and Vila, whom the Supreme Commander of the Federation had felt provided an unfair opportunity for cheating. Cally, having agreed that use of her telepathy would be dishonorable, had been provided with a media set. Her head swayed slightly in tune with the music and colors.
Vila, by contrast, was blindfolded, earmuffed, and tied hand and foot to his chair so tightly he couldn't move. He also had a federation guard with an electric prod, and had been informed that any hint of trying to talk or escape would result in said guard using it. Somehow, he still managed to convey the appearance of loudly complaining while sitting perfectly still.
The god-aliens had considered all this unnecessary, as their powers could have held the thief in check, but Avon had insisted, claiming that there should be absolutely no question in anyone's mind about Vila's ability to interfere.
Blake and Travis sat at their table, glaring at each other at every opportunity. Their hands moved quickly, snatching up and discarding in turn. To the two men, the room might as well have been empty of everyone else. They were united in their hate and fierce desire to win at all costs.
Time stretched. The intensity grew. A few of the Omnians passed out from the stress. Vila was shocked twice for thinking about talking. Avon and Servalan continued staring, each unwilling to cede victory to the other, but both had long since detached themselves mentally from their surroundings out of sheer boredom.
Finally, Blake displayed his cards with a flourish.
“Gin!” He bellowed triumphantly.