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Trial By Fire: Young Blood Chronicles

Audition Round: Hey Freak

Oh, the ring.  How he hated the ring.

Samsa squinted through the bars at the arena, his eyes starting to adjust to the bright lights out there.  He hated the way those stadium lights reflected off his carapace.  Or, more often, how much they didn't reflect.  It seemed like his carapace absorbed everything sometimes, and light was often no different.

They brought out the Plains arena today, which was especially bright, with no real cover to provide shade.  Samsa hated the Plains arena; it was his worst one, and not just because of the brightness, although it was definitely the one he could least camouflage himself in.  He hated more the lack of cover or obstacles to exploit.  They had to get right to the fighting.

He couldn't see his opponent, just the similar darkened entrance room across the arena where his opponent would be, but he hated him.  He didn't know the man, but he knew he'd opted to fight Samsa earlier than he had to.  That was reason enough to hate him.  It would ruin Samsa's day, and get the other guy killed.

He especially hated the woman next to him, the Planet Jacker standing a full foot and a half taller even when he stood up straight.  She was a slaver working for the Filter, here, bringing in new gladiators, but she was also most often the “handler” for Samsa and the other class champions.  She'd been champion herself, once.  Samsa could only see Gobi's golden eyes and a strip of lavender skin between the cowboy hat and the gas mask, but he could tell she was smiling.  He hated everything about the Filter, and she loved it all.  She'd won a thousand battles and stayed on working here because she loved it so much.  She terrified him.

“That's yer cue,” she said, turning to look at him.  “Git on out there.”

Samsa's black-armored hands clenched on the bars of the window.  “I don't wanna.  I hate this.”  His voice came out quavering, swallowing up the “I”s.

Gobi made a dismissive noise.  “The Filter's great stuff.  Ya just hate yerself.”

She was half right, Samsa admitted, feeling another pang of, despite everything, hunger.  He hated what he did to the people out on that ring most of all.  He didn't remember much from the orphanage, but he remembered learning that killing people was wrong.  But the people in charge of the Filter made him kill.  When he wouldn't, they withheld food.  And when Samsa was hungry, he couldn't control himself.  Other Smeets his age could control their hunger.  Why wouldn't he hate that about himself?  “M'not going out there,” he murmured finally.

“Oh yeah you are,” Gobi replied smugly.  A shining steel hand flashed out from under her duster, clamping firmly against the carapace on his right upper arm.  Samsa had almost no time to squirm before Gobi's other, purple-fleshed hand flicked out, a syringe prepped to go.  She knew I wouldn't go, he realized, as her practiced hand slid the metal point between the plates of his carapace, piercing the skin of his inner elbow.  The syringe was all ready.  She knew.  “This'll just make ya remember what ya love,” Gobi said, still smug.  She was always smug around Samsa.

He hated the needle.

* * *

Rin Kan shaded his eyes against the stadium lighting as he stepped into the arena.  The young Vortian's blue skin and the brown leather of his vest shone in the light, catching the eye of every one of the arena's patrons.  Good.  He was sick of being disrespected, ignored, left behind.  That kind of treatment had left him struggling with debt until eventually he wound up bought like cattle.

Rin's arms dropped to his sides.  Well, if he was going to be cattle, he would be a bull.  His arms bulged as he tightened the grips on his weapons – a pair of wicked knives, curved almost to the point that they were sickles.  For the first time, his squat stature had worked in his favor, landing him in the Medium class rather than the more difficult Large class of gladiator fights, and the first two battles had been pretty easy.  The champion was supposed to be tougher... but he was just a child.  A child!

Speak of the little devil, he was coming out of his respective entranceway now.  What people had said was true – covered in black armor, head to toe.  Well, people also said you could break through the armor with a good blow.  Rin settled into a fighting stance – arms extended, legs wide, one blade diagonally in front and one behind - as the announcer called finished his spiel and signaled the start of the fight.  He'd given up listening to Moze's “color commentary;” it was generally of an insultingly crude disposition, and besides that didn't generally include any useful strategic information on his foes.

For a moment, Samsa didn't do anything after Moze called for the start of the fight.  He just stood there, arms limp, looking around the arena.  As he finally locked eyes with Rin Kan, Rin's eyes narrowed, but Samsa's purple orbs were wide and unfocused.  What's wrong with him?  He seemsconcussed or something... Rin started to relax his stance, but snapped back into discipline when Samsa suddenly charged him at a dead run.  “Hey freak!” Rin shouted, goading him forward.  “Taste steel!”

Samsa pounced, his clawed bare hands poised to rip into Rin.  Amateur, Rin sneered.  He hopped to the side, and brought his rear blade up to intercept Samsa's throat in midair.  He saw, heard, and felt Samsa's carapace breaking apart under the force of his blow – glossy black splinters fell around the edges of the knife, and the vibrations of the break travelled up the blade and into his arm.  Rin could taste victory, for an instant – but then Samsa tumbled in the air, grabbed Rin's forearm, and dug in with his talons, dragging them both to the ground.

Rin screamed in pain as the Irken's armor-backed claws ripped into the tendons of his arm.  His hand unclenched uselessly and the knife bounced away.  He hit the ground hard on the shoulder of his wounded arm and his bulky horn bounced against the grassy dirt.  He tried to scramble up and get his other knife into play, but Samsa was back up on all fours first, and he pulled himself onto Rin, knocking him flat on his back and pinning his good arm.  Rin tried to follow up his scream with a roar of anger, but Samsa's mouth flashed open, and suddenly Rin's voice fell silent – as the armored Irken reared back up with a mouthful of flesh and windpipe.

When Rin realized his throat had been ripped out, he tried to swallow – but couldn't.  That part of his body was gone.  His vision started to fade.  It had been over in only a few seconds.  How?  I got him right in the throat.  Samsa reared his head back to swallow, exposing his throat again, and Rin saw the truth – a gaping plate of armor was gone, but Samsa's wintergreen flesh underneath was unmarked.  Somehow the armor had absorbed all the force of his blow.  Wish I'd had armor like that, Rin thought, lying his head back on the grass... he was suddenly very tired.

* * *

Samsa stared at the floor.  It was lushly carpeted, not what he was used to.  He wanted to hate it, but couldn't, even though it belonged to Partch and was part of his office.  Partch ran the Filter.  He was the Tallest Irken Samsa had ever seen in person, and he was terrifying.

Samsa was lined up with the three other Champions.  On his left, Rith Zith sat with his tail coiled, his spade-shaped head bowed respectively.  The Small champion was a weird hybrid of Meekrob and Vortian, and didn't look quite like anything else Samsa had ever seen, but he was nice.  He cared about Samsa and wanted to best for him.  On his right, Taboo picked at her nails with apparent disinterest, but her jaw was tense.  The blue-scaled, tattooed Soltecian woman was the current Large class champion, and she usually ignored Samsa.  Looming behind her was a monstrously large Planet Jacker with an Irken PAK incongrously sticking out of his forehead.  Piledriver was actually the PAK's personality, not the Planet Jacker's, which explained why the slouching Planet Jacker wore the PAK legs like a massive set of Irken antennae.  He was also nice enough to Samsa, but he really only cared about himself and took little effort to hide that.

Opposite the room stood, or sat, the top brass of the Filter.  Partch himself sat at his desk, his spiderlike hands clasped.  The old businessman was almost bleached of color, and looked thoroughly dead except for his slow blinking once in a while.  Appearances were deceiving; Partch was, despite every effort from nature and, occasionally, his gladiators, quite alive.  He was flanked by two tall Irken women in fur coats, one leaning against the wall of the office, and the other sitting cross-legged on the side of Partch's desk.  They looked casual, but they scared Partch as well.  They weren't there to amuse Partch; they were there to protect him.  On one side of the desk stood Moze, the announcer and another ex-Champion.  He was a grinning mass of pits and scars dressed in suspicious-looking leather, and his fingers were twitching at his side on his remaining non-transplanted hand.  On the other side of the desk, Gobi leaned against the wall, arms folded calmly, and next to her stood Stepp” the arena's general manager and the only one in the room who couldn't defend himself in a pitched battle – which was probably part of why he was always so nervous.  Stepp was speaking now, and had been for a few minutes, but most of it had gone over Samsa's head.

“And that's basically the gist of it.” The chubby Irken gestured to the small robot that had been floating next to him.  It resembled nothing more than a football-sized Spittle Runner ship, with its maroon metal frame, propulsion systems along the rear and underside, and a pair of primary 'claws' on its lower front that could be used to grip or secure itself to a perch.  The robot's similarity ended with the cockpit – instead the thing had an elaborate camera lens.  “The Tallest want one of our best for Trial By Fire, but just one – they said they didn't want to encourage contestants to form any alliances.”

“And the winner gets a wish!  AND A POSTER!” The droid was very enthusiastic, but his voice was like a cheese grater straight to the antennae.  Stepp and Samsa both winced.   “All you have to do is fight your way through several skilled foes without dying!  On various planets!  So, who wants it most?  Don't all shout at once!”  There was an uncomfortable silence that follwed.

“Look...” Rith spoke first.  “That prize sounds fantastic, it really does, but... I can run the numbers.  I'd probably die out there.  Only one contestant will survive out there.  Here, I'm a big fish in a small pond, and I'm content with that.  I'm comfortable.  Count me out.”

The Piledriver nodded in agreement, his “antennae” rattling across the metal life-support tank on his back.  “With all due respect, sir, I've GOT my wishes already!  I'm treated like a warrior-king here, and all I have to do is fuck up 3 meters of musclehead once or twice a week?  The Filter is the best life I've ever known!”

“The chances of victory are remote,” Taboo added.  “Many unknown variables to consider.  The Filter is the devil I know.”

“I'm disappointed, but I understand.”  Partch's voice was cold and biting as a winter gust, but without malice.  He was being honest; there would be no punishment for this decision.

“That's a shame.  What about you, blacky?  All you gotta do is push the button.”  To Illustrate the point, the droid created a hard-light hologram from its camera lens.  Now, floating in front of it, translucent and glowing, there was an actual big red button for any gladiator to push.

“Samsa wouldn't want to...” Rith began, but then he saw that Samsa had, indeed, stepped forward.  “...I stand corrected.”

Gobi chuckled.  “Atta boy.  You're better off here, but if'n you wanna show some backbone, you've picked the time to do it.”  Piledriver clapped and whistled encouragingly as well.  “Remember, though, you've got to fight for real this time.  I won't be there to drug you and make you want to fight on this planet.”

“That's for the best,” Partch said.  “The boy fights better without the drugs.  Anybody else would've been killed in yesterday's fight, Gobi, and that Vortian could have been spared for another day.  It's damned inefficient is what it is.”

“Boss-man's right,” Moze chimed in.  “Ten seconds of fighting and two minutes of the freak eating a guy isn't good television, Gobi.  Probably best we let the medium champ slot open up for a while.”  Samsa sighed and walked towards the droid, approaching the hologram.

“Are you sure this is what you want to do, Samsa?” Rith asked plaintively.

“Mm-hmm,” Samsa said, scratching at his throat.  The new carapace plate was still growing in, and it itched.

“You could die.  I mean, you could die here, but there... Samsa, you're going to die.”

Samsa blinked back tears.  “Mm-hmm.”  He raised his hand, tried to stop thinking about the fact that somebody would be sad if he died after all, and pressed the button.
Trial By Fire: Young Blood Chronicles Intro
"Hey there little freak you remember me?
We were never introduced properly.
Hey you gonna cry?
You don't look so tough in the light of day,
But we ain't gonna murder you right away..."

Bat Boy: The Musical (London), "Hey Freak"

Well, here's my entry for :icontrial-by-fire-oct:.  It's late, but I was unable to access deviantart starting mid-afternoon on Saturday.  It was pretty nerve-wracking.  Luckily, the OCT already announced they were accepting late entries today, so I'm safe at any rate.

This first chapter is downright emo.  It'll pick up a bit now that Samsa's out of the Filter, the arena where he's been growing up.  The contest should give him reason to express a much wider emotional range.

Invader Zim (c) :iconnickelodeon: :iconjhonenplz:
Trial-By-Fire (c) its owners
All else (c) me
Name: Samsa

Irken equivalent of 8 years old

3’10/ 117 cm

roughly 60 lbs/ 26 kg


Irken Defective, no PAK

Physical Description:
Samsa is a relatively tall Irken Smeet with large, medium-purple eyes and very pale green skin. However, his Defect causes him to grow a glossy, blackish-green, segmented carapace that covers him from antenna-tip to toe, except for his eyes. It can break off, but grows back fully in about two days. The carapace mostly hugs his body, but forms a few thick spines on his upper back, and enhances the sharpness of his natural claws and teeth (and, for the claws, makes them longer). Samsa can't wear a PAK because of his Defect, and doesn't normally wear clothes; the carapace covers everything up.  If Samsa’s carapace is broken, shards may remain attached to his skin, usually in places where the bone is directly under the skin like knuckles, shins, jawline, brow and upper cheeks.

Samsa was left on the doorstep of an orphanage in neutral space as an infant. It's not really clear whether he was just a Defective natural born Irken, or some sort of experimental cross-breed. At any rate, he was healthy, so they kept him. When he was a toddler, the orphanage shut down due to insufficient funds (neutral space often being poverty-stricken), and the orphans were taken by the slaver Gobi to the Filter gladiatorial arena. Samsa was the youngest orphan, and the only one who really took to the fights. When he wouldn't fight, they'd give him mind-altering drugs or neglect feeding him before the battle to bring out his urge to feed. He's been undefeated since he was old enough to move from Small to Medium class at his arena.  The Filter isn’t the most famous arena of its kind, but Samsa would have some degree of notoriety as a gladiator and child warrior – any character familiar with the gladiator scene may recognize him, and he would turn up on a web search in-universe.

Smart and a quick planner, but still very childlike in his thinking. He has trouble controlling his instincts, but this could be either from his Defect or from his upbringing - what is clear is that his Defect makes him hungry almost all the time. He mimics people a lot. He has no formal education, but Rith Zith, another size class's champion, is quite fond of him and teaches what he can. He's self-conscious of his appearance, but not as much as he could have been - growing up in a gladiator arena exposed him to a lot of other freaks.  Samsa is basically kind but impressionable – some of his personality will be defined by characters he meets during the tournament.

Samsa's a great fighter, and not just because nobody wants to hit a child. He has animal savagery and cunning beyond his years. He's been forced into enough fights to not start crying when he gets hurt. His Defect is his best ally in combat; the shell breaks on a hard impact or if Samsa has muscle spasms, but it resists fire, cold, electricity, acid, cutting... he can also use the broken pieces as improvised weapons, since they form sharp edges. Samsa also has strong jaws and the ability to digest things like chalk and bone that most stomachs couldn't; he needs this, because he has a fast metabolism and his armor needs a lot of nutrients to grow.  As pieces of armor are broken off, Samsa also gets lighter and therefore faster.

Samsa is still a child, pre-pubescent both mentally and physically.  He’s not as strong as a young adult of his own size could be, lacking sufficient muscle mass.  He’s mostly incapable of abstract thought and can be tricked provided it’s not a trick he already knows.  He’s afraid of needles and losing control.  He has a complex over his cannibalistic tendencies that could probably be exploited given enough time to interact with him.  He’s got a small but present soft spot for motherly types and mild-mannered intellectuals.  Almost all of his combat experience is with opponents of nearly the same size as him.  His Defect could also be turned around as a weakness; it could weigh him down in a liquid, breaking too much armor on one side could unbalance him, and so forth.  Finally, some purely mechanical weaknesses: he’s got no PAK and therefore none of the benefits most Irkens enjoy, and he’s got no ranged combat capabilities as of the beginning of the tournament.

Samsa has no weapons at the start of the tournament, but is clever enough to make simple weapons out of his own carapace shards and could scavenge weapons from his opponents.  The coloration of Samsa's carapace changes slightly depending on his diet.  Make his carapace any color you like as long as it’s very dark!  Also, child soldiers are a horrible thing and I don't endorse them.  Cannibalism is cool, though.
Trial-By-Fire Application: Samsa

This is my application (and updated reference) for the Irken Samsa.  Some information has been updated from his last profile, but other than the weaknesses section he's pretty much the same character.

Ravenpuff was kind enough to draw Samsa back when I first released information on him!…

Irkens, Invader Zim (c) Jhonen Vasquez, Nickelodeon
Samsa (c) myself
Name: Stormare

Species: Griffon, Duskraptor Clan

Gender: Male

Age: late 40s (in human terms)

Cutie Mark: None (Griffon)

Description:  Stormare has a formidable build, packing an awful lot of muscle onto what's really only a medium-sized frame for a griffon.  His bird features draw from the black hawk-eagle (orange eyes, mostly black feathers with a short back-pointing crest, small white speckles on his crest feathers and silver-grey bars on his wings, silver-grey hooked beak), and his cat features include brownish fur and a black tail tuft (based on the darker range of fur colors for a lion).  He has a set of scars on his forehead - claw marks above his right eye and the middle of his forehead that continue diagonally back.  His expression is usually serious to the point of dour.  He wears a thick-strapped leather harness on his chest, holding various metal flasks and vials.  On the middle of his back he carries a big, scary-looking sword called a terbutje (essentially a wooden paddle with jagged obsidian 'teeth' inserted all up and down the thin sides).  Due to consuming the Draft regularly for over half his life, he essentially hasn't aged since around his twenty-first year.

Occupation/History: Stormare is chief of the infamous Duskraptor Clan of griffons, who lived in the Stonetalon Peaks (a harsh mountain range on the borders of Equestrian territoy).  While some of the Stonetalon griffon clans were open to negotiation with outsiders, the Duskraptors were purely warriors, hunters, raiders, and horse-eaters.  Red Velvet became the first pony in two centuries to gain the clan's respect and become an honorary member (and the first non-pegasus ever) by showing them how to create the Draft, a process they adopted enthusiastically.  This was a great boon to them for years, but they fueled the Draft with much more frequent and lethal raids on the other griffon clans, and this forced them to ally against the Stonetalons, and they received Equestrian aid in this endeavor.  This is the troubled time Stormare has inherited from the previous chief, Kier.  As Kier's oldest son and an accomplished warrior, Stormare was the natural griffon for the job, but he wasn't ready to lead in such desperate circumstances, and the rest of his clan have been killed or captured of late.  Stormare plans to redeem himself by rescuing his clan, and to that end, no price is too great...

Personality: Stormare is very serious, to the point where he couldn't be funny if he tried and often doesn't get jokes at all.   When he finds something funny, often it's something nopony else finds funny (sometimes other griffons get it).  He's naturally intimidating, and bristles quickly when provoked, but that's mostly a front – he actually has very good control over his temper and doesn't get any angrier than he lets himself get.  In fact, he's very calm, exceedlingly patient, and a little bit melancholy and withdrawn, an introvert by nature.  He doesn't like to lead, but takes affront at any suggestion he's not a good leader.  He's creative by nature and envies Equestria for the way sculpting the natural world is part of their culture.  Overall, he's actually a pretty good guy who happens to be from a culture of killing and eating sentient beings.

Abilities: Stormare's a world-class flier, his raw muscle giving him great strength and allowing him to reach speeds most griffons only dream of.   His shorter, broader wings give him surprising lift and force without sacrificing cornering.  It's rumored that thanks to the Draft, he can perform a Sonic Rainboom, or something like it.  That strength and speed combine with plenty of skill and experience using his beak, talons, and the magic sword he inherited to make him a very dangerous fighter.  Although not intellectual by nature, he's literate enough and knows his way around chemistry (he brews his own Draft, like most Duskraptors).  He's a competent leader, although he's really just versed in leading his clan in combat – he has almost no experience in dealing with the long term.  His natural magic is mostly typical for griffons – based in passively enhancing his own abilities – although he's also quite gifted at cloud manipulation.  On a related note, he's an accomplished creator of cloud sculpture, creating elaborate works of art that vanish within minutes – one of the gentler heirlooms of the Duskraptor culture.
MLP OC: Stormare of the Duskraptors
Hey, remember when I used to post stuff?  Well, I did a thing.  Meet Stormare, from Red Velvet's past days with the Duskraptors.  Except... this doesn't look so 'past' as much as 'present!'  Could I be planning to bring Stormare back for the storyline of Red Velvet Runaway? (Hint: yes, I am)

Stormare's a member of the fairly common "Proud Warrior Race Guy" character archetype, but there's a lot of wiggle room in that trope, so I made it unique and interesting where I could.  If you have any comments or criticisms, feel free to let me know.

Oh, and he's named after actor Peter Stormare.  All of the Duskraptors are named after Germanic or Scandinavian actors, because I said so.

MLP (c) Hasbro
Characters (c) me


United States
Current Residence: Florida?
Favourite genre of music: It isn't the genre, but the quality that matters.
Favourite photographer: ...HUH?
Favourite style of art: anything that actually involves drawing things.
Operating System: Windows.
MP3 player of choice: Zen Nano Plus. iPods are lame, run-of-the-mill drek.
Shell of choice: Cardboard Carapace.
Wallpaper of choice: Changes at least weekly.
Skin of choice: Mine.
Favourite cartoon character: Toughie. Maybe Zim.
Personal Quote: Your life is measured by how happy you are and how happy you make others.

Journal History

Time for a new journal!  I'm feeling somewhat better on that subject, thanks to everybody for your support.

Been a while since I got into a good old IZ OCT.  :iconresisty-uprising-oct: looks like just that.  Irkens only, just like the first Blood-Sport, but for a different reason: this time, the plot focuses on a forced survival tournament the Resisty is holding with their prisoners of war after successfully taking back the Empire.  It's a really neat plot opportunity, even if you're only going to do it as a "what-if" for your main plotline like I'm going to.  I'm gonna enter Kizzo, an OC I haven't given the spotlight to yet (trust me, she'll be in her element).  It's not happening for a while still (no admissions deadline yet), so just because you're in Blood-Sport doesn't mean you have no time for this.  Go check it out.

Not much else going on.  I'm still judging the third Blood-Sport, still in PGO if I survive this round's eliminations.  I'm still struggling with Tumblr addiction.  I'm no longer employed, but I stayed long enough to make about two grand, which will go toward my grad school career (I've applied, and I'm working on the stuff the English department needs from me).  Still playing DnD and other tabletop games, still hanging out with my friends at the local college.

I'm also in the closed beta for Mechwarrior Online, which I think will soon be an open beta.  If you guys played the Mechwarrior series before, or just have a decent gaming PC and think the idea of strapping yourself into a 100-ton robot and shooting other guys in 100-ton robots sounds fun, go check it out and reserve yourself a username at  The game's free to play, but uses a system where you can spend real-world money to buy mechs of your own more quickly.

Well, I'm gonna go make dinner.  We're trying a recipe for spinach and mushroom quesadillas.
  • Mood: Content
  • Listening to: Homestuck song mashups
  • Watching: Gravity Falls
  • Playing: Mechwarrior Online
  • Drinking: Iced Tea

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Add a Comment:
Ravenpuff Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2014
Did I forget to tell you I finished the final reaction image a while back? I think I forgot to tell you I finished the final reaction image a while back.

I finished the final reaction image a while back.
avatarjk137 Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2014
:P Sorry, I saw now.  It's great!  I've just been off-balance computer wise between Blood-Sport, college stuff, and my laptop being busted.  I put all my Red Velvet stuff on hold until the laptop is fixed.
Ravenpuff Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014
Ah, oki ^^ Well, at least it's all done and ready now for when things got balanced again.
avatarjk137 Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014
Yus.  Thanks again for all your hard work!
(1 Reply)
Ravenpuff Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2014
email, check!
avatarjk137 Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2014
Got it!  Looks good!
Ravenpuff Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014
Ravenpuff Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014
New mail :la:
avatarjk137 Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014
You don't know how happy this image set has made me, Puffy.  :D

I've got to get back to writing the main story so I can start using these as reaction images!
Ravenpuff Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014
Glad you like the results =D I hope you'll make good use of them.

Yush :eager:
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