Cage Match 2017: Sci-Fi vs Fantasy

Round 1

Daenerys Targaryen vs Binti


Daenerys Targaryen

A Game of Thrones



Daenerys Targaryen

A Game of Thrones
  • Age: 15
  • Species: Human
  • Weapons: The world's only living dragons, a sizeable army
  • Special Attack: Dracarys


  • Has an iron will
  • Inspires devotion in her soldiers and advisers
  • ...did we mention the dragons?


  • Can't seem to figure out that whole Narrow Sea problem
  • Proud and stubborn
Cover art for the book A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

A Game of Thrones

By George R. R. Martin


  • Age: 16
  • Species: Human
  • Weapons: Edan, Otjize, spaceship made of a giant shrimp
  • Special Attack: Able to control and manipulate electric currents as a Master Harmonizer


  • Really good at math
  • A gifted diplomat


  • An unwillingness to engage in fights that aren't self-defense
  • No combat training or weapon skills
Cover art for the book Binti by Nnedi Okorafor


By Nnedi Okorafor
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Match Prediction

By Ruth Vincent

The match was about to begin.

At the commentators table sat Tyrion Lannister and Okwu Meduse, an alien who appeared like a giant jellyfish. There were a great number of emptied wine glasses on Tyrion’s half of the table, and none on Okwu’s.

Tryian addressed the crowd. “Ladies, gentlemen, and…” he cast a doubtful look at Okwu, “whatever you are. Welcome to the Cage Match, where you either win…. or you die.”

The two commentators gazed down at the expansive outdoor arena. It had been fashioned to resemble dry, treeless, and inhospitable terrain that could have easily been either the Dothraki Sea or the African deserts of the Himba people.

Contestant Daenerys was flanked by her three dragons, who let out the occasional jet of flame, as well as a battalion of Unsullied. Her translator, Missandei, stood by her side; Missandei spoke pretty much every language in the galaxy. Binti was alone, except for her spaceship (which was, after all, a living creature). She was rubbing otjize, a mixture of red earth and herbs, over her skin in preparation for the fight.

“So, Okwu,” Tyrion turned to his fellow commentator, “Who do you think is the favorite here?”

Okwu spoke through his translator device.

“The pale one,” he gestured a tentacle towards Daenerys’ dragons. “She has fire fish. This will not end well for Binti.”

“Yes, it does seem a trifle unfair,” Tyrion mused, “But I think we should not underestimate Binti. I always wager my coin on the girl who sees dragons for the first time, and isn’t afraid.”

He took another sip of wine. “Let us hear from the contestants themselves.”


My opponent was just a girl, the same age as me. We could have easily been classmates together at Oomza University. Instead, we were being made to fight. I didn’t want to fight her. All I’d ever wanted was to be a student, to study advanced mathematics, to be left in peace. Why was that so hard? Why was someone always standing in my way to fight me?

The pale girl was human, as were the men behind her; the other three though, were definitely not. They looked like the lizards I used to shoo from my path back home… if those lizards had grown to the size of a spaceship, and breathed fire.

I held my edan in my open palm, so that I could listen to the girl’s thoughts, and hopefully she to mine, that we might be able to understand each other. The edan translated the words, but not the meaning. What was it the girl wanted so desperately? A chair? A metal chair? That couldn’t be right.

But even if the translation was faulty, I understood the gist: this small, pale, girl, the same age as me, wanted to rule the whole world. Well, the whole world included my home. I didn’t believe in war. But I did believe in home.

I stepped forward, staring down the girl and her fire lizards. First, I would try to negotiate. If we could prevent violence by talking, that was always preferred.

“There does not need to be bloodshed,” I began.

The girl merely stared back at me with her cool, violet eyes. Then she whispered something to one of the Fire Lizards, who belched out a jet of flame in my direction. I dodged it, just barely. Thankfully my thick covering of ojitze spared my skin from the searing heat, but a tongue of flame singed the tips of my plaited hair.

Clearly the time for talking was over.

I jumped into my spaceship, the Third Fish. It was a Miri 12 model; its exoskeleton was tough enough to survive the extreme temperature fluctuations of space. It should be able to handle a little lizard fire.

I shut the door just in time, before another jet of flame licked the walls of the ship. The pilot warned that the sensors were overheating, but we should be able to withstand it.

Then there was a clatter like hail on a tin roof. I looked out the window of the ship, and saw that the many men who gathered behind the pale girl were throwing pointed sticks, hundreds of them, at the walls of the ­­­­­­­­Third Fish. They bounced off the hard exoskeleton. But this ship had been built to withstand meteor showers. Sticks were nothing in comparison.

I began to relax. I had nothing to fire back at the pale girl, even if I’d wanted to – which I didn’t. Still, so long as I stayed aboard the ship, she couldn’t touch me.

Through the window, I watched as the three fire lizards positioned themselves by the three exits of the Third Fish, with the army of stick men positioning themselves in a ring around the ship. For a moment, I wondered what they were doing.

And then it hit me, filling my stomach dread. There was one way the girl could hurt me.  It was the same tactic the Meduse had used against me; why hadn’t I learned? But I had never dreamed it would be a problem here, after all, we were fighting a cage match, not a war. I looked wildly around the ship’s cabin, but I knew all the supplies it contained: a half a pound of salted fish, a container of water, and one serving of the gelatinous milk-based dessert of which I was so fond. In other words, very little. For the first time since my near-death escape from the Meduse, I felt truly afraid.

It was at this point that commentator Tyrion cut in.

“Oh no,” he groaned. “Dany isn’t doing what I think she’d doing, is she?”

“The pale one does not appear to be doing anything at all,” said Okwu.

“Don’t let her fool you,” Tyrion sighed. “We’re in for a long fight. And I did not bring nearly enough wine.”

“I do not follow,” said Okwu.

“Daenerys is laying a siege,” Tyrion explained to the jellyfish, “She’s going to wait until her opponent runs out of food.”

“Ah,” Okwu stroked his tentacles thoughtfully, “That I understand.”

“Well, this should make for a thrilling match,” said Tyrion sarcastically. “Let’s see what Dany has to say for herself.”


Dany stared grimly at the girl inside the thing. She didn’t know what it was – it seemed to be part ship, part castle, and part dragon. It was truly animal, vegetable, and mineral. No matter; all the cleverest inventions in the world could not save a person from the most primitive of problems: not enough to eat.

She could hear the dwarf commentator complaining loudly from his table, but she paid him no mind. She wasn’t here to entertain anyone. She was here to win.

Dany had negotiated, her way, i.e. blast a bit of dragon fire in the girl’s direction until she realized it was in her best interest to surrender. But the girl had not surrendered. Instead she had merely climbed inside that thing. It didn’t matter; she would starve the girl out. And then the girl would surrender, and hand over the thing – that ship, or castle, or whatever it was. She’d seen it arrive; it could fly, though there were no wings. It seemed to be able to hold quite a large number of people inside, though it was currently only occupied by the solitary girl and the pilot. It would be quite useful for transporting Dothraki over the Narrow Sea. Maybe they wouldn’t get seasick if they traveled in a flying ship?

Daenerys listened with bored patience at the girl’s entreaties not to fight. She didn’t know who this girl was; her dark complexion made Dany think she might be Ghiscari. Certainly the girl was of Essos, not Westeros. But it didn’t matter – the girl stood in her way.

Daenerys waited. The sun over the arena grew hot, and the crowds grew restless. In the distance, she could hear the dwarf commentator grumbling, and even his translucent companion was making a low, rumbling noise, that seemed to indicate displeasure. No matter; the girl would get hungry eventually. And then she would come out.

Time passed; she couldn’t tell how long. At last, Daenerys noticed movement near the exit hatch at the top of the ship. Her dragons had clearly noticed it too; their eyes were fixed on the door, like three cats watching a mouse hole. Was the girl coming out to surrender already? That hadn’t taken as long as she’d thought. Dany gave a signal to her dragons to stand down. She wasn’t going to immolate her opponent if the girl was giving up freely.

The hatch opened and the girl stepped out, her body covered in that red dirt substance. The girl must have known how dangerous what she was doing was, nevertheless, she persisted. Daenerys couldn’t help but admire her bravery.

“Please hear me out,” said the mud covered girl. “I know you want to win. But don’t you see,” she pointed to the commentators and the crowd. “They’re playing us both for fools. They’re trying to make us fight for their pleasure. They want us to believe that this is a zero sum game. But it’s not. It’s a big universe. Your seven kingdoms are just one small part of one small planet, and there are thousands of planets. All I’m saying is, there are a lot of chairs out there. You can have your iron chair – and I can have my seat at Oomza University.  The world is big enough for both of us. So, do you want to squabble in this arena over nothing, while the makers of the game pull our puppet strings? Or shall we go our separate ways, in peace, and with honor?”

Daenerys attempted to keep her face expressionless while Missandei translated this speech, but the girl must have sensed how her heart leaped up at the word ‘honor,’ because she added.

“Don’t think that your kind is the only honor-based culture. My kind is too. And so is Okwu’s kind,” Daenerys looked up in surprise as the girl pointed at the translucent creature seated next to the dwarf.  “There is no dishonor in quitting a game that was rigged from the start.”

As Missandei finished translating the girl’s words, Daenerys was silent, thinking.

All her life, people had tried to manipulate her: first her brother Viserys, then the oligarchs of Qarth, then the “good masters” of Slavers Bay. But she had never played their games. Only her own. The only game worth winning was the game of thrones, and this cage match would do nothing for her victory there.

As loathe as she was to admit it, the mud-covered girl had a point.

At last Daenerys addressed the girl through Missandei. “You have spoken wisely, and with great courage. This I can respect. However, there is one thing I would ask of you. I would like to have your… ship.” She settled on calling it that for lack of a better word to describe the magic vessel. “It could be useful in transporting my people across the Narrow Sea to Westeros.”

The girl kept her expression neutral; she really was a decent negotiator.

“I cannot give you the Third Fish, because it does not belong to me,” she replied. “It belongs to Oomza University. However, I do have a Transporter. It’s a bit cheaply made, its engine doesn’t work so well, and you sometimes have to restart it over and over to get it going, but it should be fine for short distances. I could lend it to you.”

“Very well,” said Daenerys, as Missandei translated.

The girl approached her, offering her hand, and Daenerys shook it. The girl’s touch left a trace of her mud mixture on Daenerys’ pale skin. Dany stared down at the mark on her palm. It was a deep, brilliant red, the same shade of red as the door of the house she often dreamed of in Braavos. When Dany held her hand to her face, she was surprised to find the mud smelled like flowers.

Daenerys waited as Missandei discussed the practicalities of procuring the Transporter. Missandei spoke High Valyrian, because Binti could clearly understand any tongue through the magic box she always held in her hand.

As they were finishing, Missandei asked Binti a more personal question.

“At this Oomza University of yours, do they by any chance teach languages?” the translator asked shyly.

Dany could not understand Binti’s answer, but she saw the way Missandei’s eyes lit up at what she heard. She’d never seen her young helper look so happy.

“This one would love to study there,” Missandei said wistfully.

Daenerys sighed. “Go,” she said at last. Missandei had served her faithfully. She deserved a chance to do something for herself. “When the one called Binti brings me the Transporter, you can travel there with her. Just, please, come back once you’ve learned all you can.”

Daenerys felt slightly defeated as she mounted Drogon, watching as Binti showed a joyful Missandei how to cover her body with the sweet-smelling mud. Losing Missandei meant she’d probably have to give up Grey Worm too, unless she wanted to spend the next four years dealing with a lovesick Unsullied moping about the Great Pyramid. But it would be worth it for one of those magic flying ships. She signaled to Drogon, who beat his wings, and they took off.


The game was over.

As Daenerys flew away on Drogon, with the Unsullied marching behind her, Okwu turned to Tyrion:

“I must congratulate you. You predicted the outcome of this match perfectly. How did you know?”

Tyrion smiled over the lip of his wineglass.

“That’s what I do. I drink… and I know things.”

Predicted Winner: Binti

Tally of Votes Cast:

Daenerys Targaryen:



A photo of Ruth Vincent

Ruth Vincent

Ruth Vincent spent a nomadic childhood moving across the USA, culminating in a hop across the pond to attend Oxford. But wherever she wanders, she remains ensconced within the fairy ring of her imagination. Ruth recently traded the gritty urban fantasy of NYC for the pastoral suburbs of Long Island, where she resides with her roguishly clever husband and a cockatoo who thinks she’s a dog.

Cover art for the book Unveiled by Ruth Vincent


By Ruth Vincent