Cage Match 2017: Sci-Fi vs Fantasy

Round 1

Devi vs Sandworm

 

Devi

The Name of the Wind

Sandworm

Dune

Devi

The Name of the Wind
  • Age: Mid-20s
  • Species: Human
  • Weapons: A strong alar, the courage of her convictions
  • Special Attack: Sympathy: the ability to hold a belief so strongly that it affects reality

Advantages

  • Has a strong aptitude for both Alchemy and Sympathy
  • Has a vast reservoir of arcane magical knowledge
  • Is clever, business-like, and talented

Disadvantages

  • Her fondness for Kvothe
  • Physical combat is not her strong suit
Cover art for the book The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind

By Patrick Rothfuss

Sandworm

Dune
  • Age: Millennia
  • Species: Sandworm
  • Weapons: Crysknife teeth (very sharp)
  • Special Attack: Swallowing the enemy whole

Advantages

  • Really big
  • Too tough to be killed by any weapon save atomics or massive electrical shocks
  • Backed up by Fremen warriors who worship it

Disadvantages

  • Water kills it
  • Tends to get distracted when vibrations call it off to defend spice sands
Cover art for the book Dune by Frank Herbert

Dune

By Frank Herbert
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Match Prediction

By Jay Allan

Devi walked slowly forward, struggling to follow her guide, her legs sinking almost knee-deep in the soft sand with each step. She’d seen harsh environments, but never anything like the vast, unending desert that stretched out before her. The Fremen moved more lightly on the sand, born to it as he was, but even he clearly treated this harsh wilderness with great respect.

She paused, wiping her hand across the wetness of her brow. The heat was like nothing she’d experienced, but there was more to it than just temperature. It was the dryness of the air, an almost absolute lack of moisture, one that made other deserts seem almost like tropical paradises. Her eyes ached from dryness, and her throat was parched.

“Is it always this hot?” She regretted her earlier refusal of the stillsuit. It had seemed unwieldy… and unnecessary. Devi could command the elements, and her confidence in her mastery of Alchemy and Sympathy was strong. But one couldn’t manipulate what didn’t exist, and here in the deep polar desert of Arrakis, there simply was no water.

“The wind preceding a great storm offers some relief, but the heat is the heat. One must endure to enter Shai Hulud’s domain.” The grim native turned to face her. His expression was a harsh scowl, though Muad’Dib had commanded that he lead her here, and as one of the Feydakin she knew he had no choice but to obey. His stillsuit was a light gray to her eyes, the thick covering of dust leaving no more than a trace of the original black. “We have arrived.”

The Fremen turned without another word and took a dozen steps before stopping again. He pulled the strange device from his back—a ‘thumper,’ Devi recalled, remembering the name Muad’Dib had given it when he’d ordered his bodyguard to escort her into the great forbidden desert. She had come far to challenge the great sandworm of Arrakis, and the duke had decreed that she would face one of the greatest specimens.

She was a confident woman, one who had dealt with the lowest scum of Imre and filled reneged borrowers with fear. Yet, now she felt her self-assurance slipping away. This place was so different, so alien. She had heard tales of the sandworms before, but she’d always imagined they were exaggerations, wild stories designed to scare children. They couldn’t be as big as the legends said, could they?

The safety of rock. She remembered the phrase, the warnings of Muad’Dib. Her eyes scanned the horizon in every direction. There was nothing, naught but the endless dunes of sunbaked sand. Shai Halud’s domain…

She could feel the rhythm of the thumper, the vibrations under her feet, and then something… else. The ground seemed almost to move beneath her, and in the distance, she saw a great ripple in the sand, moving toward her.

She stood where she was, her hand moving down, touching the pocket warmer she carried with her. It was strong, the strongest she’d been able to create, yet now, looking at the massive ridge in the sand approaching, she wondered if it would be enough. She rarely doubted herself, but whatever was approaching was huge.

“You have called a big one,” the Fremen said, “The largest I have seen since Muad’Dib’s first ride.”

She disregarded the native. He was strange, strange like everyone she’d met since arriving on Arrakis. She had been confident in her powers, her ability to defeat a mere animal of the desert. But now she began to fear that the rumors were true.

Her eyes were fixed in stunned amazement as the worm burst upward from the sandy depths. It lunged high into the cloudless sky before slamming hard to the ground, its backside still emerging. Hundreds of meters, she’d been told, but she hadn’t really believed it. She’d written such claims off to the superstitions of the Fremen. But the thing coming for her was seven hundred meters, at least.

She reached into the sack slung across her shoulders, pulling out the small wax figurine. She’d made the mommet in the shape of the worm, but now she needed something from her adversary to complete it. She didn’t know if sandworms had blood, but even a chip from one of its scales would be enough.

“Enough to finish the mommet,” she whispered to herself. “But can you project enough power to bind something so large?”

She fought back her doubts. They had no place now. She knew the price of failure. She moved out to the side, away from the thumper, seeking to take advantage of the great worm’s focus on the pounding vibration. She moved as quickly as she could, feeling the blast of hot wind as the giant creature slid past her and lunged toward the device that had summoned it, pulling several hundred meters of its massive body up before diving forward, swallowing the thumper and the sand for a hundred meters to either side.

Devi ran toward the path of the great beast, dropping to her knees, moving her hands though the hot sand, searching for a piece, even the smallest shard, of one of the great beast’s scales. Finally, her fingers touched something sharp, and she pulled her hand back, her fingers dripping blood. She reached down with her other hand, feeling around more carefully, finding the shard—a chip from one of the worm’s scales, she was sure.

She pulled it out, affixing it to the mommet. She knew she was running out of time. The thumper was gone, and her own hurried footsteps had sent out their own call. The worm was moving toward her even now.

She concentrated, activating the pocket warmer, feeling the strength from its heat. She focused on the mommet, and on the rapidly approaching worm. She willed it to stop, putting all the strength she could muster into the effort. The worm slowed, paused for a few seconds. A blast of hot, fetid air hit her, the cinnamon scent of spice engulfing her. She sensed a power in it, but alas, one unknown to her. She had to rely on the heat she’d brought with her, that of the pocket warmer and of her own body. She struggled to hold the massive creature, but it was too large, too strong. Her efforts drained the pocket warmer, and then her own internal strength as she fought to hold back the beast’s advance. But the worm pushed against her greatest efforts. It moved toward her, breaking free of the binding, pushing forward. She could see into its maw, sense the heat inside the creature. It was nearly limitless energy, enough she was sure, to hold the binding indefinitely. But she didn’t know how to access it, and her own power was almost gone. Even in the searing heat of the Arakeen desert, she shivered from the cold taking her limbs… and as her strength waned, the worm came all the more quickly, its shadow covering her, blocking the sun.

The last thing she saw was the fiery depths as the worm closed its maw and plunged once again into the depths of the desert sand.

Predicted Winner: Sandworm

Tally of Votes Cast:

Devi:

50.99%
Voted

Sandworm:

49.01%
Voted
 
A photo of Jay Allan

Jay Allan

Jay Allan is a former investor and the author of the Crimson Worlds series and the first two books in the Far Stars series, Shadow of Empire and Enemy in the Dark. When not writing, he enjoys traveling, running, hiking, and reading. He loves hearing from readers and always answers e-mails. He currently lives in New York City.

Cover art for the book Funeral Games by Jay Allan

Funeral Games

By Jay Allan