Cage Match 2012: Round 1: Felix versus Claire Haskell


The Contestants


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U.S. Olympic Hopeful
Age: Less than 2 years old
Race: Unique
Weapons / Artifacts: Gelatinous egg case
Stealth, ferocity, and commitment to ultimate goal

Claire Haskell
22nd century special ops/hacker
Age: 28
Race: Human (kind of)
Weapons / Artifacts: Standard 22nd century battle equipment
Can hack anything

The Breakdown


  • Flight
  • No empathy and no sympathy
  • Has been bred to be the ultimate combination of strength, agility, stealth, and savagery

  • Highly intelligent and wesome hacker
  • Superior technology and weaponry
  • Limited precog ability

  • Toddlers have no place in Cage Match (even if they’re vicious, bio-engineered killing machines)

  • Stigma associated with how awful the movie Hackers was

  • N/A

  • N/A

How we think the fight will go

NOTE: Once again, we’re lucky to have the creators of both characters contribute how they think the fight will go. Obviously they disagree. Obviously that makes it way more fun for us to debate!

How Ted Kosmatka, creator of Felix, thinks the match will go:

It lifts its huge head and sniffs the air. A hundred thousand spectators cheer.

Another fight to the death.

Felix stares across the arena, waiting. It is a predator, designed for survival at all costs. This life and death struggle is as familiar to it as its last meal.

It stretches its neck, obsidian skin shimmering in the glare of the arena spotlights. Its enormous wings flex then fold neatly away.

It knows who it fights. She is Claire Haskell. A razor. She looks human, but isn’t. It can sense that. She’s a product of the same kind of science that produced its own inhuman form: Bioengineering, with a little something extra.

It grunts approval as a door on the opposite side of the arena slides opens, and she steps onto killing floor. Some call her a God. Others say she is more than that. And then there are those who call her an abomination.

This fact pleases the creature known as Felix. It has been called Demon. Abomination. It has heard the jeers and the shouts.

It watches her face as she downloads the data relating to his conception and enhancements. Dismay and wonder flicker in her eyes, then they are gone. Replaced with grim determination. Again, the creature is pleased.

It crouches as Claire pulls her visor into place, hiding her brown hair and freckles. Hiding her eyes.

She flicks her left wrist slightly, activating the arsenal attached to her armor. She is alert. Ready. Waiting for the signal to begin.

The shield that separates them shimmers, then blinks away.

Claire fires a tether at the creature’s chest. It jumps, but isn’t quick enough. Feet snared, it falls to the ground with a loud thud. It rolls…heavy body spinning into her, knocking her back.

She struggles to her hands and knees, facing the beast. She releases a canister from her shoulder pad. Toxic gas fills the arena. Felix takes a last breath and holds it. Soon, it will be forced to fill its lungs, or die.

The two grapple. They twist and turn, each attempting to find a weak spot that doesn’t seem to exist. Claire clings to the creature’s back, trying to stay on top. But the creature is immensely, impossibly strong. It twists once more, spreading its wings now. When the leathery appendages are clear, it yanks her forward over its shoulder and crushes her to its chest. With a flex of powerful wings it is airborne, shooting upward toward the steel netting that tops the dome.

It knows the only way to survive is to win, to kill his opponent. He must throw her to the ground, destroy the machine she wears, and then destroy her. Now you die, woman. The creature’s wings beat faster.

And then, from somewhere, a response: I know what you are.

The words roll through the creature’s brain. Its wings miss a beat, and in that instant the woman’s suit grows hot, thrusters flaring, ripping Claire free, burning the creature’s flesh.

You understood me. It follows her down, knowing it must keep close. It must not allow her room to use the weapons tucked into the suit she wears.

Yes, I understand you.

She’s swooping down toward the base of the dome. She fires her laser. It misses, striking the wall, causing an energy field to flair, then waver. A slight anomaly. Felix notes its existence then dismisses it.

Felix dodges the laser while closing in. She fires once more, and the anomaly on the far side is slightly larger.

You hear my words.

She flies close to the floor; it follows. No, the web hears you.

Felix reaches out, grabbing her suit by the ankle. He whirls her around and throws her to the far wall. She strikes it with a deafening clang, ricocheting like a billiard ball, sliding toward the far end of the enclosure. She fires her suits boosters in an attempt to slow the impact.

Felix lunges, landing atop her before she can recover. The web will watch you die. Felix slams a meaty fist into the side of her suit, denting it. His fist comes down again, this time on her head. A new dent. The web is nothing.

Using his claws, he attempts to rip away her visor and expose her to the poisoned air.

She bucks, sending the creature sprawling. Behind her is the anomaly. A flex in the local energy field. They face each other. The creature hears the click then. Soft, but loaded with meaning. An explosive is being readied. I am too close. If you use that we both die.

She sighs. It is a soft sound, but he hears it. We both die no matter what we do. One in the fight. And the other right after the event. She toggles the switch that launches the explosive.

The creature leaps. Up, over, behind her. It uses her and her suit to shield its flesh from the heat.

It can no longer see her, but it feels her moving forward, and so follows, clutching at her suit. The black smoke, thick as a wall, is filled with debris.

The heat is almost beyond enduring. They are thrown through the anomaly. The creature feels its energy as it passes through, feels the burn of flesh touching the raw power of the cosmos.

They are in a tunnel.

Another explosion, a much smaller one this time.

Now they are a thousand feet up, high above the city. The air cools his flesh, washes away the debris. He dares a breath. Yes. The air is clean. It fills its lungs.

She falls.

It follows.

They plummet. Moonlight shines down from above.

We both have the same imperative. We must survive at all cost. It hears the sadness in the thought.

She is facing him; there is a click. Her suit is still functioning despite the beating it has taken.

You killed your lover in order to survive, Felix says. It reaches for her, getting closer. You killed him because you thought he might be a threat to you later.

She nods.

He can see her face through the cracks in her visor.

You are the only living thing that hears me. The creature is surprised by the grief in its own thoughts.

“I have no choice.” She speaks the words aloud, shaking her head.

I know. Free will isn’t in the cards for you or me. We weren’t given that. Not on the things that matter.

She fires, but the creature is no longer where it was.

It moves in a flash, spinning away, then swoops in like a diving falcon. It slams into her and clutches her tight, clawing through her visor. Her jugular rips wide. The creature’s inhuman muzzle is splashed in blood. I’m sorry.

An anguished howl fills the night sky, and a minute later, a single form steaks through the moonlight to strike the earth like a fallen angel.

How David J. Williams, creator of Claire Haskell, thinks the match will go:

It was a vision out of hell.

Huge and dark and winged. Vaguely humanoid, and all the scarier for it as the creature moved slowly toward her on all fours. She knew its name too: Felix. God only knows why it was called that. Undoubtedly the joke of one of the scientists who had created it. Or rather, the computer…the one that had engineered the genetic templates which had taken this thing’s development to the next level. Entirely unsanctioned of course, but that was the problem with trusting something like this to a computer. She’d hacked that computer’s databanks, turned them inside out hoping to discover some kind of weakness in Felix that she could exploit. She had all its genotypes laid out in her head like playing cards scattered across a floor…and if she had more time she could have constructed a poison tailored to its DNA, something that would take it apart before it even knew what hit it.

But time was the one thing she didn’t have.

She became aware that she’d bitten her lip without realizing it; there was blood flowing inside her mouth. Eighty meters away now, the creature pawed the ground like a bull and sniffed the air. It unfurled its wings, though it didn’t seem to have much intention of using them; instead, it abruptly began sprinting toward her, its black eyes locked on hers. It looked like a primeval beast capable of facing any dinosaur, and she had to remind herself again that this thing was smart—it wasn’t just a mindless killer, but one intelligent enough to know the rules of this fight.

She knew them too, of course.

Her battlesuit’s sensors locked in. For a moment, she saw the creature’s head framed by a myriad crosshairs. Then she primed and fired a micromissile. It seared across the room and straight into Felix’s mouth; the head disintegrated in a flash of light. Blood plumed from the severed neck as the rest of the creature kept on charging forward, straight at her: she engaged her suit-thrusters and ducked out of the way as the headless body crashed against the wall behind her with a sickening thud. So much for Felix, she thought, gazing at what was left of the twitching carcass. In dealing with these kind of situations, it was vital to remember the number one rule that governed Cage Match fights.

Never, ever play fair.

Predicted Winner: Felix…or Claire


Check out the previous match!

Check out the next match!

Check out the Bracket

Felix is a character from The Games by Ted Kosmatka; Claire Haskell is a character from the Autumn Rain trilogy by David J. Williams

Felix image courtesy of Del Rey Books. Claire image courtesy of Spectra Books

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!”