Jane, by Tyler Gamba

You there!

Hear the story of Jane, and remember,

This savior of Man, the last lonely ember,

Of America’s faded fire, the echo of a pyre,

That sputtered and died when Earth was fried,

In nuclear holocaust; a time now lost to us orphans of dead gods.

America was murdered by atoms;

Mushroom clouds which wiped art and law

From sea to rotting sea.

Her august body dust in the wind of War’s maw;

Carrion bones of a land once free.

Countless millions lived on, servants to wealthy lords who controlled the new state.

Avalon: a vulture from the ashes that fed off cruelty, greed, and hate.

Avalon’s rich oppressed the weak,

Tyrants over the starved and diseased.

Yet even they saw revolution might end them,

If they openly did as they pleased.

Thus, they forged the Arena:

A circus of blood to mask their lack of bread.

The Arena promised health and wealth,

So long as you kept your head.

Twenty victories meant one wish granted,

Plus joining Avalon’s elite.

And unlimited glory –oh, such a story– for the nobody who conquered this feat.

In flocked warriors from the wastes and slums,

Soldiers and servants; criminals and kings.

All eager to wage their lives,

For a chance to reap these invaluable things.

And the crowds loved them.

Spectating through damaged screens,

Avalon’s viewers held bated breath.

Favorites were picked, dramas unfolded.

And the poor thought not of hardship or death.

The fallen filled graves faster than could be dug.

Slain by bullets, blades, explosions, hands.

But the rich knew it was only they who won,

When cheering masses filled stadium stands.

No man could reach twenty victories.

No man could break the tyranny of the rich.

No man could drag the meek out of their misery.

But Jane was no man.

Brave and bold, her emerald stare cold,

Hair that flowed like crimson tides of might.

Her marksmanship steady, sword-hand ready;

A beacon of hope to brighten the night.

Jane’s gleaming katana was Mercy,

For with it, she could grant foes a swift end.

And with her roaring revolver Fury,

To Hell her enemies’ souls she’d send.

Her first victory crashed like a bolt of lightning cast from beyond the blackened skies.

To watch her work was more than frightening,

For lords whose lives depended on lies.

Forward she fought,

Felling rivals who mocked her sex.

Those who remained –their underpants stained– swallowed their jeers and gave their respects.

Who was this Heroine of the Arena?

This fearsome avatar of War?

Never mind bread and meat,

The public was hungry for more.

The masters of Avalon sought to end Jane’s rise,

Spawning ancient machines and mutant beasts.

Soulless armor stalked with glowing eyes,

And howling terrors prepared their feasts.

But Jane scrapped the metal predators,

Ripping cogs and gears from chests of tin.

And after the last monster lay slain in the sand,

Her score was ten fights down, ten left to win.

“What do you seek,” inquired fans in awe.

“Spoils? Thrills? An Iron Throne?”

“None of those.” replied Jane, who saw,

Her motive no longer need be her secret alone.

“The Arena offers one wish to a champion,

Avalon’s barons must honor that whim.

Avalon’s barons enslaved my brother.

When I leave this game, I will leave with him.”

“So it is Freedom, then,” spat Avalon’s lords, “Liberty for Jane’s captive kin!

Then Jane must lose. Or her enlightened views,

Will rebirth America and expose our Sin.”

Matches grew relentless, the labors vast.

Still, the final triumph drew near.

Alas, Avalon’s lords, –craven ‘gods’ of the Arena–

Had one last trial for Jane to clear.

At a nefarious Black Tower stood Jane–

Duel an ultimate foe, and her brother she’d gain.

If this Nemesis desired a titanic brawl,

Jane would show how far the mighty could fall.

Inside, she found a trail of broken corpses,

Hideous mutants; both beasts and men.

Her enemy was fueled by inhuman forces,

And had rampaged through this miserable den.

She spied her rival’s back from across a hall;

Eight feet tall, yet nude from toes to face.

His thousand bloody scars made her skin crawl–

He heard Jane’s gasp, bellowed, and gave chase!

Jane dodged and weaved through the tower,

Evading the juggernaut’s lethal gaze.

Millions of impoverished viewers watched,

Praying their savior could escape this maze.

But when an orange-rusted door was sundered,

Her opponent screamed of crushing the undead.

As his confused cries echoed, Jane wondered

Just what Nemesis saw in his head….

At last, Jane was trapped near a bottomless pit.

Panicked, she hid in a jingling pile of chains,

When Nemesis spotted her, though,

His expression of Bliss blew millions of brains.

“My dragon!” he babbled.

Two streams of joy flowed free.

“My brother?!” she gasped.

“But, how can this be?!”

It was him! The sibling she had sought to save,

No longer the frail child Avalon took as a slave.

Then, unashamed, Jane wept for mankind.

The lords of Avalon had broken Bane’s mind.

With great effort, Bane’s thoughts became clear,

He said “Sister, please help me. Why am I here?”

Jane ripped off the chains and held him tight.

“You’re okay now, Bane, everything’ll be alright.”

“I remember the mines, Jane, laboring day after day,” Jane dropped Mercy to the floor in sorrow.

“My only hope came when I watched you play.” Jane vowed his masters wouldn’t see tomorrow.

“Guards came in my sleep. Then it gets blurry;

I was tied to a table….they told me not to worry.

Something I ate made me big and strong….

But the way I think now….everything’s wrong….”

Bane’s true senses began to dim;

In a moment, it would be unclear what he knew.

“It’s funny, Jane, this whole time,

I thought it was I who was rescuing you” 

Then he was gone.

The tragic hero again stared at Jane, for

she was now his beloved dragon once more.

This hero grasped Mercy from the floor, and pressed the blade into his chest, mumbling,

“The gods like to know they are the best.”

Smiling softly, Bane fell backwards into the chasm below.

For we oppressed,

Blinded by Avalon’s lies,

The injustice of Match Twenty

Sparked millions to rise.

It is said Jane descended after Bane,

And will defend his body till Avalon is gone.

The Black Tower is now Avalon’s palace to corruption and malice, but –with your help–

The Dragons of Bane will seize it ere long.

So remember the story of Jane,

Let the anger and grief strengthen your belief

In Freedom, in America;

That brilliant flame shall burn again.

-Tyler Gamba

Featured in Vol. 3 Iss. 3
Featured in Vol. 3 Iss. 3