Commander Stashnugget McZoink spat on the ground. Heavens be damned, he was in a tight pickle indeed. Everywhere around him, weapons flailed and magic flew wildly. He was with his trusted allies: Souken – a night elf hunter of the utmost caliber − and Kollektiv, a dwarven shaman capable of keeping even the most careless teammate alive. As the battle stretched into its 15th minute, all the fighters in the pit were becoming visibly fatigued.
To the crowd outside the arena walls, this was not just a battle of skill. It was delicious entertainment; delicious like chicken. Fried chicken. The battle had far outlasted the expectations of those eager onlookers. Mirror matches at this level were normally resolved more swiftly, especially if the fighters were ‘reckful’.
But not this time.
Stashnugget was up against his arch-rival; a former comrade in arms, a fellow warrior and Gnome: Higgins. The Commander wiped sweat from his brow as he pondered his rival’s thoughts. “Sergeant Major Percival Higgins, how will you prot-” Stashnugget’s challenge was cut short as he felt a surge of pain: his opponent had swiftly and abruptly charged him, head-first.
There it was. The opening that Stashnugget and his team had been trying their hardest to avoid giving their opponents had appeared out of nowhere. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Kollektiv swaying around, dazed and confused. “Oh crud!” he thought, as he felt the powerful hands of Higgins throw him to the ground.
Through his pain, and as though in the distance, Stashnugget could hear the crowd’s sudden roar. He looked up to the sky, seeing a flock of beautiful tropical birds scatter, scared by the sudden noise. Then it all went black. It was over, and he had been defeated.
Almost a year had passed since Commander Stashnugget McZoink had last set foot in Stormwind.
The Commander stopped dead in his tracks at the sound of the familiar voice.
“Well I’ll be damned… if it isn’t the infamous Tankz. What brings you out of the land of the trolls and into civilization?” Stashnugget turned to see the human, towering twice his size, some three paces behind him.
“You know very well what brings me, Nugget.” Tankz’s voice was now teasing. “It’s that time again.”
Commander Stashnugget let his mind drift to another time and place. It had been a bright, sunny day: perfect for doing battle. He had fastened his plated greaves, secured his full metal jacket, sharpened his weapons and set out for fame and fortune. He had wanted to make a name for himself; to put the McZoink family on the map of revered fighters.
But alas, his plans had been thwarted by the cunning and conniving Sergeant Major Percival Higgins and his band of merry men. Stashnugget sighed. “That was a very well-executed hard swap they pulled,” he said, although for him, admitting something like this publicly was about as inconceivable as Deathwing rebuilding Stormwind. After all, a gnome must maintain his honor. And his tinkers. And his gadgets. And…
As he snapped out of his daydream, Stashnugget realized Tankz had already walked away. Five minutes of silence and ignoring someone would probably cause that. He shrugged and then noticed that people were beginning to gather. The road ahead was filled with food stands, exhibitions, entertainment and all other sorts of trades.
The Commander was not interested in the festivities, though, and set off through the crowd. He was here for a purpose: the same purpose as the year before, when he had not been prepared.
“It will be a different story this time”, he thought. “I AM prepared!” Stashnugget chuckled at the phrase, so popular among Azeroth’s dragonslayer heroes. He turned the corner, heading towards the Old Town district.
McZoink shook his head. Savory Deviate Delight vendors, he thought instinctively. “What will they think of next?” He looked around, taking in the sea of ninjas and pirates, most of them standing on the spot and jumping up and down repeatedly, as if powered by permanent nitro boots. “These events attract all types, it seems,” he mused, shrugged, and made his way through the crowd towards the signup booth.
Around him were many familiar faces, from entertainers and commentators like Vhell, Kintt and Toogood to notorious combatants like Hydra, Inflame and Kalimist. Stashnugget stood for a moment, taking it all in. “Indeed, this time we will claim our throne,” he muttered as he strode towards the sign-up booth where he had spotted his teammates.
With persistence, resilience, teamwork and courage, Team McZoink was ready once again to do battle for fame and fortune. Grinning as he approached his team, he greeted them warmly. “Greetings Sirs!”
Right in front of them, a huge decorative sign read: “Sign up here for the Arena Pass!”