The One in Nine Sextillion Chance: A Splitgate Story
Practicing for professional Splitgate matches was never a low effort affair, but on Lavawell, things were even more tense. Thanks to the active volcano and molten rock that the arena and former research facility had been constructed around, temperatures were understandably on the hot side. “Who thought that it was a good idea to build an arena next to an active volcano,” Jack thought to himself.
Jack had joined his current and first ever professional Splitgate team, just a few months ago along with his fellow rookie, Conroy. Ever since the discovery of portal technology within the temple at Pantheon, Splitgate had become one of the most popular competitive sports in the world. Two teams of Splitgate competitors would square off with firearms in full fledged combat, fighting for control of certain points around the arena. When the armor of a Splitgate gladiator is impacted with enough force, a “frag” occurs and a process called respawning kicks in, resetting the vanquished player to a new location within the arena and rewarding a point to the other team. Thanks to the combatants high tech armor, anti-matter and extremely large amounts of energy, none of the combatants are harmed in the process. It’s important to remember that respawning and portaling only work within the boundaries of a Splitgate arena where there are functional portal pads and respawn points, however.
Jack and Conroy had been paired with Gustavo, a dashing, young but more experienced Splitgate player. Gustavo had become one of the league’s more popular players thanks to his model-like looks and outward confidence that flirted with bravado at times. Rounding out the team’s roster was Bear, a seasoned Splitgate veteran who earned his nickname thanks to his intimidating size, rugged, bearded appearance as well as an up close and personal style in the arena. While Gustavo was known for flashy plays that leave the crowd cheering, Bear was known for his dependability and playing the objective. Bear’s head was always in the game and he never seemed to lose focus, which made him the grizzled leader of the team, much to Gustavo’s chagrin, at times.
Jack and Conroy were still trying to find their way on the team, which is exactly what these practices were for. Jack had been paired up with Gustavo, who were squaring off against Conroy and Bear. Since Gustavo was the team’s roaming fragger, this left Jack to try and play the objective against Bear, which was proving itself difficult. No matter how Jack tried to portal into the room or across the map, Bear always seemed to be a step ahead of him. Out of breath and covered in sweat under his helmet, Jack wondered if he would be as situationally aware as Bear seemed to be, when he reached his age.
“Can’t you guys stop with the try hard act and give me some sniping opportunities,” Gustavo said over the radio? “Our fans love it when I’m hitting shots and having the audience on your side can really change the dynamic of a match.”
Bear chimed in, seemingly not tired at all “Snipe all you want boy, but highlights don’t win us the game. Do I need to remind you that objective points win the match? If you want to make an impression, maybe we should try to win more?”
The discussion only seemed to anger Gustavo, who took criticism too personally. He rapidly fired four shots from his sniper rifle in frustration, but didn’t land a shot. “Maybe if you portaled to your fullest potential and stopped looking to pull off fancy plays, we’d fair better,” Bear said.
Exhausted but sensing the opportunity to seize the point while Bear was distracted, Jack quickly portaled into the objective and fragged Bear in a single shotgun shot. This made Gustavo laugh loudly over the radio. clearly taking pleasure in what had just transpired. Jack knew that he had a few seconds until Bear respawned and he had no idea what Conroy was doing. Maybe he was waiting for the Rocket Launcher to spawn. Jack started dropping portals to peak around the map but before he could find him, Bear came barreling through one of Jack’s own portals, seemingly out of no where. Before Jack could even realize what was happening, Bear pummeled Jack relentlessly and sent him into respawn, without even firing a shot.
Jack had just respawned when Bear opened the radio and chastised Conroy. “What the hell are you doing, Roy? We’re scrimmaging here in case you’ve forgotten.” A few seconds passed with no response. Jack chimed in as well with “It would help if all four of us were scrimming. What’s going on?” No response from Conroy came over the radio.
“All right, time out,” Bear said. “Let’s go see what the hell Rookie #2 finds so important.” Jack portaled over to Gustavo, who had taken his helmet off to get a reprieve from the heat during the time-out. Bear took his time simply walking over to meet up with them. He always did things at his own pace. The three teammates made their way around the arena, discussing the upcoming match. They had heard that the Mayor of the nearby city would be in attendance. Jack hoped that they wouldn’t find Conroy screwing with the lava. He was known for becoming distracted. Just a few weeks earlier, they had lost a close match on Impact because Conroy was obsessing over the alien architecture, biomass and symbols. He had spent weeks researching it since the match. While Conroy was certainly a talented athlete, he was an explorer at heart and seemed unable to contain his curiosities at times.
Gustavo had just begun to express frustration with Conroy wasting the team’s time, when the trio stumbled upon a strange portal. All of the players on the team had signature portal designs, so that the teammates knew what portal belonged to who and could easily predict where each portal would take them, based on their teammates preferences in each Splitgate arena. Jack spoke first. “We are the only team slotted to be practicing right now so,” he drifted off. The portal was a sickly, iridescent green color. Gustavo asked what all three of them were thinking. “You don’t think Conroy went through there, do you?” After several seconds of silence, it was Bear who spoke. “Where else could he have gone? He’s not answering his radio so either he’s ignoring us, or he’s not in range. I hate to say it but wherever he is, he probably skipped out on and went through this portal.” Taking it all in, Gustavo gave a very “Gustavo” response. “This sounds like a Conroy problem. We have a match tomorrow and we want to look our best. Let’s keep practicing.”
The trio went back to scrimmaging, but everyone seemed distracted. No one wanted to admit it, but they each kept checking to see if the strange portal that they had discovered was still there. Every time that someone checked, it was still there, and still open, meaning that its sister portal was still open somewhere else. After another twenty minutes had passed, it was Jack who finally spoke up. “Guys, without the fourth member of our team, tomorrow’s match doesn’t matter. Whatever Conroy is up to, we need him here, with us. We’ve got to go find him and chances are, he went through that portal. He was here with us, and now he’s not. He didn’t just walk past the volcano and go back to the hotel. He was here and then he wasn’t. Let’s just take the weird portal and go get him.”
“I’m getting really sick of these distractions,” Gustavo said. Bear jumped into the conversation, more hesitant than annoyed. “Let’s get this over with.” All three teammates walked over to the portal, which still glowed the eerie green color around the edges. Their team color was orange and there wasn’t a team in Splitgate that utilized green in their branding. Either someone was going to lengths to play a joke on them, or this portal really was a mystery. “If he’s looking up alien shit when we find him, I’m swinging my BFB at him. Not even kidding,” Bear said before walking into the portal.
Jack looked over at Gustavo and they both shrugged. “I still can’t believe that they call it that. It makes us sound like a bunch of savages,” Gustavo said. The BFB was a large baseball bat with an extreme amount of force added to it, thanks to gravitational thrusters. While the league had attempted to come up with a catchy name for its only melee weapon, the Splitgate players themselves nicknamed it the BFB and it just stuck. Jack stepped through the portal a few seconds later.
Jack found himself in a dark, metal environment with Bear a few yards up ahead, taking it all in. They appeared to be in some kind of ship. While Jack had been in plenty of human space ships and even the alien craft at Impact, this was nothing like those. The environment that they found themselves in was obviously high tech, but also felt medieval. It was like a strange blend of future and past architecture. Everything was made of dark, almost black metal and light was very sparse. There was just enough light to see and everywhere you looked, there was an absence of color. “Nice place,” Bear said out loud. “Where’s Gustavo?” “Great question,” Jack said.
Jack spun around to wait for Gustavo but that was when he noticed. “Bear,” he said. “How is it that this portal isn’t on a portal pad. It’s just sitting here.” “I’m no scientist,” Bear said “But that shouldn’t be possible. What’s powering it?” Jack was more concerned with who put it there, than what the energy source was. “And why is the entrance sitting in Lavawell,” Jack muttered out loud. Jack and Bear just looked at each other for a few moments in silence. The pair waited for several minutes, but Gustavo never came through. Finally, Bear said “Let’s go look for Conroy. If Gustavo wants to sit back and brush his hair, let him. Let’s go.”
Every room that Bear and Jack found themselves in was similar. The environment didn’t change. It was dark, metal and there were no signs of activity. No food, drinks or personal devices were laying around. It was just a dark, sterile environment, everywhere that they looked. Eventually, the pair made it to a long, wide open room that reminded Jack of a prison block, but on a massive scale. This was no Splitgate arena, hotel or commercial space vehicle. This was something else, entirely.
“I don’t know what the hell is going on here, but I don’t like it,” Bear said. Jack replied with questions of his own. “Are we on an alien ship? What is going on right now?”
“If this is alien, they’ve got much different taste in decorations than the ones that crash landed at Impact,” Bear replied. “That thing was filled with purple and green. Everything was purple and green. There was stuff growing inside it. This is just…dark.” The questions kept piling up. “You don’t think Conroy came here on purpose, do you,” Jack wondered out loud. “I would think that if he was going to go off on some conspiracy fueled mission, he would have said something to us,” Jack said. “I highly doubt that he came here, by himself, on purpose,” Bear said. “Conroy loves this stuff but that doesn’t explain the portal floating in thin air back there. Or what he would have been hoping to accomplish. This is something else.” Jack silently wondered how much longer they should look for Conroy before leaving him to his own devices. He really didn’t want to get lost on this massive ship of unknown origin or worse…
“Bear, we only have one way out of here that will get us back to Lavawell, and it’s that green portal back there. What if someone closes it?” Bear grimaced and replied “What if who closes it?” “That’s exactly my point,” Jack said. “We are on some weird, dark, sterile ship, where we think our teammate may also be, but what is this thing? Who built it? And why aren’t they home? Are we on a planet? Floating in space somewhere? I’m all for trusting teammates and portaling around arenas with portal pads but this is crazy.”
“This has never happened before,” Bear said. Let’s keep looking but if we don’t find Conroy in the next ten minutes, we’ll get out of here. There are too many unknowns. We still don’t even know what the buggers from Impact were like or what they were after and we know even less about this.” The pair continued, side by side, weapons at the ready. Unlike in a Splitgate arena however, more ammo wouldn’t be spawning if they needed it.
Jack and Bear wandered ahead, staying close to each other at all times, until they stumbled upon a room with another one of the eerie green portals floating on the far side. The room was completely empty, but had an ominous green glow cast across it thanks to the portal. “There’s no way that I’m going through that thing,” Jack said. “This is going to turn into a maze of portals, and I’m not playing. I get lost when we play on High Wind half of the time and this is most definitely beyond that. I don’t want to leave a man behind so to speak but we are so far out of our league here and we don’t even know if Conroy is here, for sure.”
Before Bear could respond, Conroy came falling out of the portal and onto the ground, Assault Rifle in hand. Conroy scattered across the floor, standing up as quickly and off-balance as possible before yelling “RUN!” “Run? Run from what,” Bear questioned. It was in that moment that Jack noticed that Conroy was covered in a black substance. It was all over his arms, chest and legs. The chamber of his assault rifle was empty, which was a jarring red flag. Conroy took off in the direction that they had came, but Bear and Jack stood their ground in confusion. A few moments passed before something else exited the portal, but this time, much less human.
The thing that entered the room through the portal was a tall mass of black muscle and flesh with four limbs four long, gangly limbs. Unlike the face of a human however, the being in question had large, black eyes and what Jack could only recognize as a long, black, bird-like beak protruding from its face. Instead of walking, it seemed to levitate out of the portal and into the room, hovering above the floor. Jack stared in confusion and horror as he tried to make sense of what he was seeing. The bird-like creature had a single green symbol or rune carved into what appeared to be its chest, with another pair of runes on either shoulder. It was slowly leaking something, Jack noticed. Was it blood? Whatever it was, it was black, just like the stuff that Conroy seemed to have been covered in.
Before he could process the being any further, Bear shoved him hard in the opposite direction and screamed “GO!” Jack stumbled forward, catching his balance and breaking into a sprint back in the direction that they came from. He couldn’t see where Conroy had gone but hoped that he knew his way back. Jack’s instincts kicked in and he kept looking for portal pads, hoping to move across the ship faster than his feet could carry him before remembering that there were no portal pads here. They had to hoof it back to the portal that they had used to enter the so-called ship, the old school way. Suddenly, their match the next day didn’t matter. Nothing mattered, besides getting back to that portal. The sweltering temperatures of Lavawell seemed comforting compared to what was happening. “A little while ago, I was trying to figure out how to flank Bear without getting pummeled and that was scary enough,” Jack thought. “Now we’re running away from a plague doctor from space.”
Jack and Bear entered the long ,wide open prison-like area of the ship when Jack caught a glimpse of a green light from above. He looked to his right and saw that a pair of the ominous green portals had appeared out of thin air. He pointed to the portals for Bear who was close behind, but kept running. They hadn’t made it half way through the area, before a dozen of the portals had appeared. Bear bellowed “What the hell is going on” from behind but it was a rhetorical question. Neither of them had answers. If anyone knew anything about where they were or what was happening, it was Conroy who had a head start.
When Jack reached the exit to the room, he paused to look back. Hundreds of the green portals had appeared at various heights around the room. Slowly but surely, more of the bird-like creatures exited the portals and floated around the room. Some of them floated toward the ground while others appeared to be moving about the airspace in unpredictable patterns. Bear blew by Jack, bumping him on the way by. He didn’t seem to share Jack’s interest in what was happening around them. Jack began to turn around to follow Bear when he looked to the far end of the room and saw the being with the green symbol on its chest slowly enter the room. It stopped moving and seemed to stare at Jack for an eternity, motionless. Jack stared back, frozen in anticipation of what might happen next. The symbol bearing bird-creature raised a single limb and pointed at him, silently. The rune on its chest seemed to burn brighter all of the sudden. In unison, all of the other bird-beings stopped moving and a second later, all spun to look at Jack. He didn’t need to see any more. It was time to go. There was no time to question what these things were or what they were after, he just wanted to get out.
Jack began to sprint once again, hoping to catch up with Bear and Conroy. The three were now separated, which only made the situation worse. Aside from the fear of being lost and pursued by bird-like aliens in space (“if I am even in space,” Jack thought), he had to worry if his colleagues were safe. It didn’t take long for him to discover that they weren’t.
Jack could hear Conroy screaming and Bear yelling loudly as he approached the room where they had first portaled into this freak show. When he burst through the entrance, he could scarcely comprehend what he was seeing. Gustavo had made it through the portal to join them, but he wasn’t Gustavo anymore. He had grown in size and his flesh had torn to reveal black muscles underneath, like those of the bird-like creatures. He had to have grown to at least seven feet tall, his eyes had turned black and a black beak had begun to burst through the flesh on his face. To make matters worse, Gustavo held Conroy several feet off the ground, impaled by one of his newly transformed appendages.
Bear had drawn his BFB and was shouting at Gustavo to drop Conroy and let him go. Without uttering a word, Gustavo pierced Conroy’s body with his other limb, and extended his armors outward, ripping Conroy’s body in half, splitting him vertically at the seems. It happened as if it was nothing. Having no time to think, Jack sprinted towards the portal, shotgun in hand. They had to get out. Gustavo turned toward Jack who barreled straight ahead and extended an arm outward to meet him with a blow. Jack slid under the “punch” and unleashed a shotgun shell into what used to be Gustavo’s mid section, staggering him. Sliding back to his feet in one smooth motion, Jack fired two more shells from his new position, knocking Gustavo off-balance. It was then that Jack saw Bear sprinting straight for Gustavo, BFB drawn back behind his head before delivering a blow that made a familiar synthetic pounding sound. Bear had come down on Gustavo’s head with the BFB, crushing it in a single swing, covering Bear and Jack in black blood.
“Let’s fucking go,” Bear cried before jumping into the portal. Jack hesitated for a moment, wondering if they were about to be pursued into Lavawell by these bird things. “Did we just start an invasion,” Jack wondered? “Conroy and Gustavo are dead…” It didn’t matter at the moment. He couldn’t process. He could stay and die at the hands of these bird things or he could take the portal back to Lavawell and see what happened. “What if these things invaded our worlds too? What if this is just the beginning,” he thought. He couldn’t think about it. Jack jumped through the portal, finding Bear on all fours, gasping to catch his breath on the other side.
“We have to get away from this thing,” Jack blurted pointing toward the ominous green portal. “Those things could come flying through it at any moment. We have to go now and we have to warn someone…Everyone. We have to do something.” Bear started struggling to pull himself up, when the green portal suddenly vanished, unceremoniously. Jack looked at Bear and watched him collapse back onto the ground.
Jack and Bear sat side by side in silence without speaking, a few minutes later. Bear was the first to put together a sentence. “What the hell was that,” he questioned, out loud. Jack couldn’t even muster a response, staring blankly into the air. “Conroy and Gustavo are dead,” he finally said. “Did Gustavo get transformed into one of those things? How did that happen,” Bear said. There were no answers. The only person who may know anything about what just unfolded was torn in half and his body left behind.
Jack heard the approach of a space craft and turned to see a human ship making its way toward the arena. During the craft’s approach, another Splitgate team entered Lavawell and started approaching Jack and Bear. One of the rivaling team’s members beckoned to them. “Hey, we need to practice here, can you two clear out?” Bear and Jack just sat there staring at him. As the opposing team approached, they stopped dead in their tracks. One blurted out “What the hell happened to you two? What is that all over you?” Jack looked down at himself and suddenly remember that both he and Bear had been sprayed with Gustavo’s new alien-bird blood. “I don’t know,” Jack said in a monotone voice.
The approaching space craft had touched down outside of the Lavawell arena. Several soldiers accompanied three men, two in lab coats and one in a suit. The man in the suit approached Jack and Bear, smiled and said “Gentlemen! Would you be so kind as to come with us? We’d like you to ask you a few questions.” Bear stared at the floor in front of him and said nothing. Jack looked the smiling man in the face and asked “Who are you?” The man somehow smiled wider and said “We’ll be the ones asking the questions. Come along.” The man turned and started walking back toward the craft that the group had come in on but the soldiers that accompanied him stood their ground, staring straight ahead at Jack and Bear who looked at each, shrugged and stood up.
This story is not official Splitgate lore but is inspired by Splitgate and the universe created by 1047 Games. The Splitgate universe has the potential to yield many great storylines with this one representing an original tale that I spun myself. Feel free to share your thoughts or your own Splitgate short stories!