Cage Match 2012: Round 2: Caine versus Zaphod Beeblebrox


The Contestants


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Professional Hari Michaelson
Age: Appears roughly 50
Race: Formerly Human
Weapons / Artifacts: Anything handy, though he favors knives. Also usually carries a 12mm SP Automag loaded with tristack shatterslugs
Murderous amoral son-of-a-bitch who never fights fair. Ever.

Zaphod Beeblebrox
Galactic President
Age: About 200
Race: Betelgeuseian
Weapons / Artifacts: Kill-o-Zap blaster pistol
Disarming personality

The Breakdown


  • Immune to all forms of magical control and restraint
  • When human, he was the best infighter alive. Now he’s better than that
  • Personal friend of several gods

  • Extremely clever, cunning and cagey. So charismatic, in fact, that people tend to disregard what they know about him, and might consider him mostly harmless
  • Things often just have a way of working out for him.
  • Inventor of the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster. Okay that won’t help in a fight, but it’s really zarkin frood

  • Occasionally sentimental about underdogs, working stiffs, and pretty girls

  • He has two heads. (For Zaphod, this could be a bigger hindrance than help)

  • Paksenarrion
    Dying is one way to get closer to your god…

  • Sparhawk
    Guess his destiny was to die in Cage Match

How we think the fight will go

How Matthew Stover, creator of Caine, thinks the match will go:

The improbable fact that the featureless white mist through which he walked had become, instead, a featureless white wall into which he had walked was announced by the sudden impact upon this wall of his left eyebrow, accompanied by a resounding thump and a starburst of tiny glowing birdies who fluttered in circles around his head tweetling Build Me Up, Buttercup in twelve-part harmony. “Ow,” he said.

Ow is not to be mistaken for a direct quote; to relate what he actually said (an eloquent rhetorical inversion of a biologically implausible obscenity involving several generations of his maternal ancestors, two marmosets, and a butter knife) would result in this narrative being banned on 57.8% of all civilized planets, including yours.

“Cut it out.” To whom he spoke must remain a mystery, as his only companions in the small white room were a basket of wilted petunias and a soiled and—despite its cleverly reinforced hems—somewhat ratty towel. “Oh, this just keeps getting better.”

The small white room was furnished with a pair of sturdy-looking doors opposite each other. There was also a large stainless-steel safety rail and a large, glowing button below a placard bearing large red letters reading DANGER! DO NOT TOUCH! as well as smaller, pinkish letters reading No, really. Don’t touch. Seriously. Below these were even smaller letters in mauve, spelling out How many times do I have to tell you? terminating in literally microscopic electric green text that said Congratulations on your exceptional eyesight. Now don’t touch the button.

“Will you shut up?” he said, presumably speaking to the voices in his head, as he was still quite alone (saving only the petunias and the towel). He went to the nearer of the two doors, which also featured a pair of large windows. Through these windows he found only a brilliant star-field of the sort that can only be seen from interstellar space. This star-field was in the process of being sequentially eclipsed by a large object of eccentric shape; as the object passed close by the window, the man was able to discern that it was a fully-grown sperm whale in the midst of an existential crisis.

“An existential crisis? Give me a fucking break.”

Through the windows on the opposite door he discovered a deserted, cramped, uncomfortable-looking—but still very clean—control room of what he must now accept was in fact, against all probability, the starship in whose airlock he was currently trapped.

“Wait,” he muttered. “Against all probability. Oh, hell, I remember. Well, all right then. This shouldn’t take long.”

He knocked on the door. The deserted control room seemed disinclined to reply. He knocked again, and shouted, “Hey! Let me in!” apparently in the belief that even an empty room would do what he said, if he only spoke loudly and slowly enough. Thus was the mystery of his origin solved: he was clearly American.

Further knocking and a bit more shouting finally did elicit a response from within. “Go away!”

“Excuse me?”

“Go away!”

“Um, I’m in your airlock. We’re in outer space. Where am I supposed to go away to?”

“Wherever you came from!”

“If only,” he muttered. “Look, I’m completely—”

Wait—the tagline. “I’m mostly harmless,” he said, feeling clever.

This sally produced an eruption of five heads, peering up over the rim on the control bank behind which they had been prudently cowering. One of them said, “Mostly harmless? Or mostly harmless?”

Clever appeared to be, in this particular circumstance, something of a non-starter; he wondered if acting like an idiot might help. He picked up the basket of petunias and showed it to them. “I brought flowers.”

“That’s a good point,” the head replied. “I don’t think space pirates bring flowers.”

“You think I’m a space pirate?”

“It’s the black leather clothing,” another of the heads said helpfully. “And you do look, well, rather fierce. A bit. In a good way, of course. No insult intended.”

“None taken. Will you let me in now?”

The bodies attached to those five heads gradually de-cowered. The bodies in question were largely unremarkable, except that there were only four of them.

One of these bodies belonged to a rather sharp-looking blonde girl dressed as though she had taken the wrong bus on her way to a Star Trek convention. Another belonged to a decidedly ordinary fellow in a tattered bathrobe and pyjamas, while beside him stood an even more ordinary fellow wearing a tweed sports jacket and an argyle sweater-vest. The fourth body—and the remaining two heads—belonged to a tall, inexplicably attractive man who, in addition to the extra head, had three arms and an entirely alarming lack of fashion sense.

The man in the airlock scowled. It was a rather fierce scowl, and quite professionally rendered. “Zap something,” he muttered, and again it was unclear to whom he thought he might be speaking. “Zap . . . Shit. All I remember is the goddamn Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster.”

In this, the man in the airlock could count himself fortunate; very few persons who encounter the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster ever recover sufficient brain function to drool, let alone remember its name.

A hand belonging to one of the three arms (and, presumably, controlled by one or more of the two heads) dipped inside the alarming clothing and reappeared with an even-more alarming pistol—one with all sort of spikes and prongs and blackened bits all over it, making it entirely clear which was the right end and which the wrong end, and even more clear to anyone standing on the wrong end that things were going badly for them. “I say we let him in. What’s the use of a carrying a Kill-O-Zap if I never Zap-O-Kill anyone?”

The man in the airlock, however, was entirely accustomed to having things go badly for him—as the result of many, many things going badly for him over a large number of years, he had killed nearly every kind of creature that walks, flies, swims, or crawls in the dirt, while generally avoiding being killed himself—and he had a pistol of his own. He reached under the back of his black leather shirt to draw this pistol, but instead of the pistol’s grip, he found only the tail of a small, rather slimy large-mouth bass with protuberant eyes and a truly awe-inspiring vocabulary.

He held the fish up and gave it a brisk shake, after which it stubbornly remained a fish, as opposed to transforming back into a large pistol. And it was a very attractive fish indeed; no doubt the man in the airlock would come to value the fish, and cherish its companionship, so that eventually he would forget entirely about the loss of his—

“It’s you.”

To whom was the man talking now?

You, dammit. I know what you are. You’re a, wait, what was it? Yeah. You’re a Babel fish.”

The fish certainly was not a Babel fish. It didn’t even resemble a Babel fish. The Babel fish was entirely dreary, and so predictably useful that its very existence annihilated the ontological argument for the reality of God. No, this handsome specimen was in fact a Babble fish—an elegantly useless creature who existed only to provide an endless stream of deadpan editorial commentary so involuted and self-referential that it could entirely hijack a narrative and effectively prevent anything at all from happening. Ever.

“You know what else a Babble fish can do? It can limit itself to terse, lean prose, or it can get its Babble face bounced off a bulkhead. ”

The fish, not entirely understanding what terse, lean prose actually was—and suspecting this was a phrase concocted by critics who lacked the necessary—


This OW, by the way, is in fact a verbatim rendering—


“Keep it up, slimy. I can do this all day.”

The fish knew when to shut up. The man holstered it. “Wait,” he said, “it’s not zap, it’s zafe.” He felt smarter. And terse, not to mention lean. “Zaphod Beeblebrox.”

Two-Heads came over to the airlock door. “Have we met?”

“I’m the president of your fan club.”

“Which one?”

“All of them.”

“My Number One Fan?” Both heads frowned. “Perhaps we should blow you out of the airlock after all.”

“If I go, the petunias go with me.”

“Some threat. I’m allergic.”

He picked up the towel. “This too.”

The ordinary-looking guy in the tweed and argyle went pale and clutched at his chest. “That’s my towel!”

“Yeah?” The man in the airlock blew his nose on the towel. “Not sentimental about it or anything, are you?”

Tween-and-Argyle gagged. “Zaphod—you can’t. I’d never find it again.”

“It’s only a towel.”

“How long do you think I’ll have a job once the Guide finds out I’ve lost my own towel? Please. For the sake of our three mothers in common.”

“Oh, very well.” With one of his free hands, Beeblebrox touched the controls beside the airlock, and the inner door slid open. He brandished the pistol warily. “Hand over that towel.”

“Sure. Hold this,” the man in the airlock said, tossing in the basket of petunias.

Beeblebrox caught the basket. “What? Didn’t I just say I’m aller—al—ahh—ah-CHOO!”

The man wrapped one arm around the stainless steel safety bar and punched the large glowing DO NOT TOUCH button. “God bless.”

“I’m not religious,” Beeblebrox had time to say before the outer airlock door opened and the instant hurricane of escaping atmosphere blew him, and the petunias, into outer space.

The man snatched the Kill-O-Zap pistol from Beeblebrox’s hand as the ex-President hurtled past, then punched the button once more. The outer airlock doors slid shut, and shriek of escaping atmosphere faded. For a moment, the only sound was the guy in the bathrobe, whimpering in terror.

Sharp-Looking Blonde said, “You killed him!”

“I sure as hell hope so.” He pointed the pistol at them. “You all understand that things aren’t going your way, right?”

“Better for us than for my semi-cousin,” Tweed-and-Argyle said. “Still, hard vacuum may not actually kill him. He’s very durable.”

“I figured that. On the other hand, since he’s heading for that planet over there, he’ll probably burn up in its atmosphere.”

“That might do it,” the other allowed.

“And if it doesn’t—well, shortly after he touches down, he’ll be crushed by the impact of a sub-orbital whale.”

“Seems a bit, well, improbable, doesn’t it?”

“Exactly.” The man waved the pistol. “Everybody sit down. On your hands.”

“What—what are you going to do with us?” whimpered Bathrobe-and-PJs.

“Nothing. As soon as Beeblebrox is dead, I’m gonna activate your main engine.”

“The Infinite Improbability Drive?”

“I’m pretty sure it’s how I got here,” the man said. “I imagine I’ll be leaving the same way.”

“What about the Kill-O-Zap?”

“Taking it with me. It’s crude, bulky and hard to conceal, but in a gunfight it beats hell out of a handful of fish.”

Predicted Winner: Caine


Check out the matches from Round 1

Check out the next match!

Check out the Bracket

Caine is a character from the Acts of Caine series by Matthew Woodring Stover; Zaphod Beeblebrox is a character from the The Hitchiker’s series by ~WarlordGrego. Douglas 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!”


  • Grego

    Seriously, Caine is a killer. Killing stuff is his job. Zaphod is just a weirdo!

  • Loki ~TQB~

    Best. Write-Up. EVER!!!

    Zaphod for the win!

  • The Mighty

    Oh wow – this write-up ROCKED!

  • sacredhonour

    This was a great write-up, well done.

  • Of all the amazing things I’d never dream of witnessing in life, Matthew Stover channeling Douglas Adams has got to be near the top of the list. Effing fantastic write-up.

  • Meg

    Can write-ups win a cage match? Because I think this one just did.

  • JOE

    alright, Zaphod has just as little chance of winning here as he did his first round, but c’mon! He’s from HGTTG! DUH! alright, at the moment the votes are at 50/50, but I’ll make you a deal, alright, Suvudu? I’ll refrain from constantly refreshing the page and voting Zaphod, if you promise to let Caine keep the Kill-O-Zap, the Heart of Gold, and possibly the Douglas Adams-esque narration.

  • Riza

    Remeber that time that Caine chose a field of battle and lost? No? Me neither.

  • AzrofD

    Yeah. Caine. Handily.

  • MrIzzy

    Let Zaphod go. Stover played the game. Reward him.

  • Not Telling

    So, Caine has a better chance? That means Zaphod wins. He puts in the probobility of him winning, and he wins!

    Besides, Zaphod is awesome. My vote goes to him.

    My ending:

    “Just let me do one thing,” Tweed-and-Argyle said.
    Walking over to the Infinite Improbobility Drive, he put in 1/1764.
    Suddenly, Caine started choking, and dissapeared, Zaphod appearing in his place.

    Predicted Winner: Zaphod Beeblebrox

  • SomeLameName

    I think the mere fact that Zaphod has the infinite improbability drive means he should win it all.

  • Boron

    Incredably close! it´s actually a tie right now. after almost 1000 votes cast both have exactly the same amount: 489
    Great write up. i didn´t like the way he actually won though, that was a little to easy for my taste. But lets face it, in a fair fight Cain would win anytime, but converting to the universe and the style of the opposit author (and doing that well), that´s just awsome. Chapeu Mr. Stover

  • Kvothe_the_Bloodless

    Possible headline for Round 2 Summary:

    Zaphod Beeblebrox ruins your bracket again!!!

  • Silver2195

    Zaphod’s victory in Round 1 was pretty popularity based, but I think he has a legitimate chance here. The Paralyso-Matic bomb he used in the first book might come in handy.

  • gromite

    Caine. All the way.

  • John W.

    That would be the best write up I have read yet. Congratulations! I loved it.

  • chosen

    I know Caine plays dirty but stealing another man’s towel is low.

    great write up

  • TapperMalaz

    Amazing write-up. Thank you, mr. Stover!

  • Laura

    Repeating what everyone else said. This is the best. write-up. Ever. This author has moved to the top of my to-read list. Thank you.

  • Rose

    That was a brilliant write-up. But it’s kind of awesome how close Stover’s letting the fight be: they could just let Caine and the towel float into space, then once Caine’s gone, retrieve the towel… No reason the competition shouldn’t be so close this time. I see Zaphod’s chances of surviving going down each round, and his chances of dying an incredibly gruesome death going up.


  • Nick

    Has to be Caine!!!!

  • Kyo

    i’ve not read Caine but – still sore about the fact Zaphod beat Sparhawk by some incredible upset – i’m voting for him. Down with the pretender!

  • Jess Bewers

    This is the best write up yet. Mr S did a great job of capturing the spirit of HGTTG, and as it was written in this style I’m sad to say that I have to except its outcome.

    So sorry Zaphod, gonna have to vote for Caine this time 🙁

    (Anaya Sedai – of the yellow Ajah)

  • Holy crap, man, this thing’s gonna go down to the wire, isn’t it?

  • chosen

    …and Caine takes the lead back again…

  • Not Telling

    OK, who made the Caine macro? He’s getting votes every thirty seconds or so, and I know that is NOT fans. They are not that consistent, and its been going on for about an hour.

  • Jessi

    Caine is so unhip it’s a wonder his bum doesn’t fall off.

  • Alrin

    I’m a massive Guide fan, but I don’t know how anyone could possibly want to deprive themselves of another fantastic Stover write-up.

  • ryu

    Caine should win the whole thing so we can continue to read the glorious Stover write-ups. Can we please get the Caine series rereleased so I can actually buy the books!

  • Chosen

    Holy Crap! 1511 to 1511, its got to be Caine here, if we lose Caine we lose Stover and that would be a detriment to the cage matchs in general.

  • JOE

    if this match goes the way I want it, and the other match continues like it is… It’ll be Zaphod vs. Saphira. HOW EPIC WOULD THAT BE?!

    PS no matter how far Zaphod gets, they’ll probably never wright the wright-up in his favor… which is the really great thing about him.

    PPS does anyone else find it annoying how they make you do the RECAPTHA thing every single comment. ugh. I hate it.

  • Adam

    A tie!!!!! Now that’s improbable.

  • dpomerico

    So…this is tied! I’m going to give it until 6:30 pm EST (about an hour more), and then the winner will be determined!

  • chosen

    Ok what happens now, overtime? Does Caine sprout one of Zaphod’s heads and they both go forward? Caine did use the Infinite Improbability drive, it would almost make sense.

  • Arghlita

    This is ridiculous. No way would Caine lose this fight. Too bad it’s a popularity contest instead of people honestly considering the outcome.

  • Jessi

    Things often just have a way of working out for him. (: Good fight, Zaphod.

  • Not Telling

    Things just worked out for Zaphod yet again!

    Also, Zaphod has the Kill-o-zap, Heart of Gold, and his ego.

  • Jessi

    And if there’s anything in this contest more important than Zaphod’s ego… well, you know the rest.

  • Nick

    So who made the Zaphod macro? Or would that be Telling?

  • Not Telling

    Nope, not me. Don’t even know how to make a macro. I rallied friends to rally their friends, and ect. No cheating involved. The only multivoting I did was on two seperate computers, because I was too lazy to convince my brother to vote on that one.

  • Not Telling

    I don’t mean I multivoted on each, I mean I voted once on each.

  • instantdeath999

    I would have loved to have seen Caine vs Saphira. Caine vs a dragon… just the premise is gold.