“Every gleaming society had its darknesses, and often, the brighter shone the elite, the deeper the colour of the shadows.”
The Almaz is a fight club bolted into the Underground, but claimed exclusively by the favour of the obscenely rich. Cash or favour grants admittance – and often both are required to get a foot through the door, though it does not hold the prestige of somewhere like Manifesto. Neither is it the kind of place one openly admits to attending in polite society. No paparazzi paves the way to its doors. On the contrary, recording devices of any kind are strictly prohibited inside. Security deals with transgressors seriously and harshly. In Almaz, there’s no one to hear you scream.
The clientèle is mixed; the golden elite getting their dark kicks alongside the cream of local gang life. Allies are forged and shattered within its walls, deals soaked in loyalty and blood. Big money is won and lost on the fights.
Upside leather and velvet decorate a lavish bar area, with a staircase filtering down into the pits below: that’s where the real entertainment happens. Down there rings and cages separate the various fights, couched by plush ringside tables. The odds blink on dozens of holo-screens, as does fighter stats, wins and losses.
This is not a place of sportsmanship; it is a place of brutality.
“He kept walking inexorably toward the sounds of cheering from down below. A ring of waist high tables surrounded a scattering of pits. Down below, he saw two men fighting. Dried blood stained the mats, testimony to previous matches. The crowd surrounding the caged ring cheered and screamed in delight or frustration.
His nostrils flared. He could almost smell the blood, even up here. Life at its most basic. One of the men was smaller than the other but he fought with a ferocity that belied his smaller size. His shorn scalp showed blood on the back of his head, the bloody crumpled nose on the other man making it clear what had happened.”