Gladitorial Games have persisted for millennia in many species, but few have regarded it as highly (or as longly) as the Irkens.
Surviving the rising and falling of various regimes throughout the bloody history of Irk (unlike Earth's gladiatorial games, which mostly died with the fall of Rome), the Irken Empire's continued support of Gladiatorial Events such as the Karan Bloodfest is just one of many, many facets on the gem that is one of the cores of Irken Entertainment.
Today, the most common Gladiatorial Matches range from smaller displays of cunning, strength, and other feats to duels against animals, between animals, and between the individual warriors of the Arena.
Rarely, however, is there anything that can match the Karan Bloodfest in utter scale.
One of the biggest Gladiatorial Displays available within the Irken Empire, the Karan Bloodfest occurs once every standard year. For seven days, thousands of participants (either pre-selected candidates from Irken worlds and prisons, or Pre-Qualified Volunteers from a variety of sources) are to fight and survive on the infamous and long-conquered world of Karan.
The Gladiators and The System Edit
Armed with only what they're allowed to carry on-planet, the Gladiators are left there for at least a week under the drive of the Management System's AIs, and unleashed upon one-another as said Management AIs award Camera-Time, Prizes, and Punishments accordingly.
Promising warriors are seen more and for longer amounts of time, gaining more arena tools (such as weapons and vehicles) based upon the opinion of the System, as well as the crowd's favor, the latter even capable of paying a fee to send anything from food to weapons to, more rarely, live explosives.
In contrast, more unpopular warriors are seen more and more infrequently (unless the System sets them up a specific way for audience reaction), and tend to lose crowd and system favor quickly, gaining fewer and fewer tools and supplies, with the crowd tending to, rather commonly, send live explosives.
Notably, those who attempt to escape or enter or otherwise approach Karan without authorization will be terminated by the Management System, which is housed primarily in the massive Docking Ring around Karan.
Life Insurance Edit
However, (for volunteers) deaths are rather few due to the prepaid 'Life Insurance' emergency system, which beams out a competitor nearly instantly, and replaces them with a double. This both (usually) saves the life of the competitor, allowing them to fight another day, and leaves something (commonly a clone or simulated body) to be killed, chopped up, and otherwise mangled or destroyed. Beam-Outs are controlled by the system, but can be disabled or triggered manually by the user. For members of the Irken Military, the emergency teleporters are mandatory. However, it is not uncommon for a skilled or (over-)confident warrior to deactivate the system in order to gain more favor with the crowd due to the increased risk.
The Audience Edit
On the homefront, millions (if not billions) are often watching, from the Spires of Irk to even the most remote of outposts, where fans often congregate in masses to spectate and celebrate. Worlds such as Conventia are home to the largest of these congregations. It is in these places that the audience is the most easily capable of (as earlier stated) sending in items and prizes to their favorite competitors, often delivering much-needed weapons and supplies
Betting often reaches the thousands on each competitor's head, and the fees paid by viewers sending items, purchasing food, paying for parking/docking, and more make the System (and ultimately the Empire) much, much richer despite fees needed to set up and broadcast the Bloodfest.
Conclusion of the Bloodfest Edit
At the end of each Bloodfest, in the event that more than 100 competitors are still competing, the Bloodfest will continue until 25 remain. These top warriors left are rewarded based on how they performed, how much camera-time they had, and how much favor they gained with the crowd, with monetary prizes alone numbering (on average) in the hundred-thousands for exceptional warriors, and the ten-thousands for the less exceptional. In addition, they all gain the Brand of Karan, a ceremonial tattoo that is commonly inked on the chest, face, or arms, signifying their exceptional status as a Victor of the Bloodfest.
However, if there are less than ten competitors left standing at the end of the Bloodfest (Which has happened rarely), they are crowned champions of Karan and given access to all sorts of luxurious prizes, in addition to the prestige and recognition the earn for themselves. Awarded things from (and including) millions in cash, hundreds of servants, and even entire worlds or star systems, many things lie in the grasp of a champion.
The trick is surviving to earn it.