What Are Bitcoin Mining Pools? – Bitcoin Magazine

VeriCoin

The home for the most innovative cryptocurrency, VeriCoin and Verium VeriCoin: Proof-of-Stake-Time Protocol. PoST Verified. Verium: Proof-of-Work-Time Protocol. PoWT Verified. CPU Mine-able (GPU and ASIC Resistant)
[link]

Masari: Simple Private Money

Masari (MSR) is a scalability-focused, untraceable, secure, and fungible cryptocurrency using the RingCT protocol. Masari is the first CryptoNote coin to develop uncle mining and a fully client side web wallet.
[link]

Ruben Recabarren - Hardening Stratum, the Bitcoin Pool Mining Protocol

Ruben Recabarren - Hardening Stratum, the Bitcoin Pool Mining Protocol submitted by keystrike to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

Ruben Recabarren - Hardening Stratum, the Bitcoin Pool Mining Protocol

Ruben Recabarren - Hardening Stratum, the Bitcoin Pool Mining Protocol submitted by BitcoinAllBot to BitcoinAll [link] [comments]

Ruben Recabarren - Hardening Stratum, the Bitcoin Pool Mining Protocol

submitted by BitcoinAllBot to BitcoinAllTV [link] [comments]

Emin Gün Sirer: “Bitcoin seemed like the best, most robust protocol for building decentralized systems. But now we have Avalanche. Bitcoin is barely able to decentralize itself to more than 19 mining pools, while Avalanche will scale from thousands to millions.”

Emin Gün Sirer: “Bitcoin seemed like the best, most robust protocol for building decentralized systems. But now we have Avalanche. Bitcoin is barely able to decentralize itself to more than 19 mining pools, while Avalanche will scale from thousands to millions.” submitted by Egon_1 to btc [link] [comments]

I asked Viabtc (Pool with 10 % of global hashing power) why they are not mining BIP109 blocks. They replied: "We need some mechanism to dynamically adjust the block size limit. Hence, in my view, Bitcoin Unlimited’s protocol is more appropriate at the current stage."

I asked Viabtc (Pool with 10 % of global hashing power) why they are not mining BIP109 blocks. They replied: submitted by todu to btc [link] [comments]

ICYMI: The #BetterHash protocol is working to make mining pools more efficient and decentralized. #Bitcoin… https://t.co/vh0hkVRCj7 - Crypto Dynamic Info - Whales's

Posted at: January 26, 2019 at 07:58PM
By:
ICYMI: The #BetterHash protocol is working to make mining pools more efficient and decentralized. #Bitcoin… https://t.co/vh0hkVRCj7
Automate your Trading via Crypto Bot : http://bit.ly/2GynF9t
Join Telegram Channel for FREE Crypto Bot: Crypto Signal
submitted by cryptotradingbot to cryptobots [link] [comments]

New decentralized pool mining protocol • x post from - /r/Bitcoin

New decentralized pool mining protocol • x post from - /Bitcoin submitted by illuminatiman to myriadcoin [link] [comments]

Could Bitcoin be hard-forked to include P2Pool-type organized mining at the protocol level? Rendering pools obsolete.

If I recall, P2Pool is a decentralized mining pool that runs its own mini-blockchain with a lower difficulty than Bitcoin, so hashers can prove work and earn dividends from the block reward when the P2Pool network finds a block.
Can Bitcoin (or is there an alt coin that already does this...) render mining pools obsolete by incorporating this type of organization into the block rewards? As if P2Pool were the only pool allowed.
submitted by pinhead26 to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

Let us not forget the original reason we needed the NYA agreement in the first place. Centralization in mining manufacturing has allowed for pools to grow too powerful, granting them the power to veto protocol changes, giving them bargaining powers where there should be none. /r/Bitcoin

Let us not forget the original reason we needed the NYA agreement in the first place. Centralization in mining manufacturing has allowed for pools to grow too powerful, granting them the power to veto protocol changes, giving them bargaining powers where there should be none. /Bitcoin submitted by BitcoinAllBot to BitcoinAll [link] [comments]

Why doesn't the stratum mining protocol allow miners in pool to vote for proposals? /r/Bitcoin

Why doesn't the stratum mining protocol allow miners in pool to vote for proposals? /Bitcoin submitted by BitcoinAllBot to BitcoinAll [link] [comments]

I asked Viabtc (Pool with 10 % of global hashing power) why they are not mining BIP109 blocks. They replied: "We need some mechanism to dynamically adjust the block size limit. Hence, in my view, Bitcoin Unlimiteds protocol is more appropriate at the current stage."

I asked Viabtc (Pool with 10 % of global hashing power) why they are not mining BIP109 blocks. They replied: submitted by BitcoinAllBot to BitcoinAll [link] [comments]

Could Bitcoin be hard-forked to include P2Pool-type organized mining at the protocol level? Rendering pools obsolete. /r/Bitcoin

Could Bitcoin be hard-forked to include P2Pool-type organized mining at the protocol level? Rendering pools obsolete. /Bitcoin submitted by BitcoinAllBot to BitcoinAll [link] [comments]

Please explain to a stupid guy like me how a mining pool with a 50+% of hashrate can alter the bitcoin protocole?

Why not ask the Ghash.io mining pool to separate themselve in half? would the problem be solved?
submitted by openminded2014 to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

Would it be possible to integrate a pooled mining system into the bitcoin protocol itself?

Now I'm new to the mining game, but from my research, it seems like the only reliable way to mine, even after you buy expensive hardware, is to join a pool and split the block reward amongst all contributors. Wouldn't it make sense to just include all miners in a single or multiple automatically generated pools? It's not that I think the current mining pools don't work well, but in the interest of keeping the mining power in the hands of the masses, wouldn't it be best to keep "solo" mining as simple as possible?
submitted by Trentskiroonie to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

What's going to happen in next Epoch i.e. 210 ?

Many stakers are rushing thinking its going out of their hands. For next epoch the decentralized parameter will be changed from d=1 (means IOHK forming all the blocks) to d=0.9 (means only 10% blocks will be produced by stake pools, 90% still by IOHK), and likewise it keeps reducing until d=0 epoch per epoch.
Now, those you're thinking if rewards earning are sure shot if staked now. These 10% blocks whichever pool will form is all random. Your pool can earn or can't earn , both the scenarios are realistic possibility. Better to not rush through, and be supportive the whole protocol transition. Till now we weren't even earning any rewards and still we were supporting Cardano's mission.
For those who are able to stake, and If you feel your pool don't earn rewards during transition, it doesn't mean you have chosen bad pool. There are tons of variable that works for pool to be chosen for block formation, and majorly its random. Give it a thought on those pools. They are in the game, by paying for their Infra, and spending time keeping it running. You are just not earning rewards, but a stake pool is loosing time, efforts and money waiting to earn any rewards.

So, humble requests. Choose pools wisely. Support community. Decentralization is just starting. Once decentralization started, you will earn rewards forever, its not going to go back. Take things easy, and most important support Individual pool owners. Its only we small operators who can give hope to someone that cardano stake pool operation is in individual hands and not big organisations.
#BubbaGanuStakingADDA ticker - BUBBA
submitted by 77nmn to cardano [link] [comments]

Pool resistance

What are the possible ways to make Monero pool resistant and force solo mining in the protocol level?
submitted by AllInXMR to Monero [link] [comments]

What are the biggest threats to Bitcoin's success in the long-term?

Would like to preface this by saying that I'm a huge believer in Bitcoin and it's the only cryptocurrency I'd bother owning. But, like any other bet, I'm open to the possibility of being wrong.
I'm curious about people's opinions on this. Implicitly, people assert that Bitcoin will succeed in the long run without any other considerations, going as far as saying that it would replace the dollar. What are some things to watch out for that could cause Bitcoin to fail over the long-term?
submitted by cryptobriefing to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

Why I’m Bullish on Yield Farming Ahead of the Eth 2.0 Launch

Hello everyone! I noticed that the hype around yield farming and DEX protocols kinda died down and that people focus more on NFTs and artwork-based projects like Rarible. I figured it would be great to (shortly) explain why yield farming lost its popularity and why they will have a comeback ahead of the new ETH 2.0 launch.
If you’re not new here, you know how the DeFi market evolved in the past months. We had a surge of yield farming (liquidity providing) platforms that were hyped at the very beginning but lost a majority of their users real fast, sometimes only days after launching.
I believe that most people were disappointed by this sort of mini speculative bubble and the fact that most projects had devs who rug pulled. Combined with the fact that Ethereum had high network congestion at several points in September and October, traders simply decided to prevent further losses and leave this niche place LP once and for all.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of yield farming projects that people use and it’s not like people stopped token swapping on Uniswap or anything. Ethereum also calmed down a lot now and the average transaction costs only like what, 80 gwei? But still, I think that people are pretty much aware that if another hype cycle started, the very same pattern would repeat again.
My take on this is that yield farming will regain its popularity in December around the time Ethereum 2.0 launches with its first phase and a lot of scaling solutions like Optimistic launch. If everything runs smoothly, we should have the building blocks for resuming the DeFi bull run and turning yield farming stable, rewarding, and popular once more.
Sure, Ethereum is only launching a small network upgrade that will run side-by-side with the original network, so we won’t see any technical changes anytime soon. But I really believe that ETH 2.0, along with other scaling solutions, will bring back trust and show that there is indeed a bright future for blockchain-based technology ahead of us. And in that future, Proof-of-Stake and liquidity providing will be the modern mining equivalent of running a Bitcoin farm in 2011.
One thing that I’m worried about is that enthusiasts, traders, and investors will still fall for the same projects that promise too much and deliver little. We saw numerous projects that were regarded as reputable in the beginning collapse within a week, like SushiSwap. But at the same time, my line of thinking is that projects that focus on development and spend minimal time on marketing will surface to the top in the end.
For example, while everyone was using Uniswap to swap tokens and provide liquidity, I was doing the same exact thing but cheaper on Anyswap. It is kinda funny since people boast that they earned $1200 through the UNI airdrop but I know for a fact that they spent way more on fees. And guess what? I didn’t even break a $100 threshold in the last three months while using Anyswap. I’m not trying to bash Uniswap here, but all I’m saying is that we already have scalable solutions now but people are too scared to introduce new changes in their lives.
I’m not here to market you anything. I just want to show you that even today, in October 2020, you can discover scalable and rewarding projects that simply work. Find any developer team that works all the time and doesn’t have the time to brag and you’ll know you’re on the right road! Last time I checked, the Anyswap team revealed that the average APY return for their yield farming pools ranges between 100% to 900%. When I asked my crypto friends if they know about this, I found that none of them even heard of Anyswap.
DYOR and find out about the project on your own. I promise that reading about Anyswap and the blockchain it’s based on (Fusion) will be worth the time.
submitted by cryptomir to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

could mining pools be charged for violating sanctions?

If those running a bitcoin mixer can be charged for violating AML, can a centralized mining pool charged for mining a transaction violating sanctions?
Mining pools are relatively large organizations that control what transactions get into the block as they create the block template using the bitcoin protocol. Thus they have 'ownership' of what transactions are processed. They outsource some of the POW hashing to 'ASIC' operators ( that are not responsible for selecting transactions )
large organizations generate allot of revenue and hire multiple people and present a large target for law enforcement vs a random solo miner that mines a block every now then. They are more likely to be compliant with requests to censor transactions to protect their 'reputation/business'
This is, why protocols like better-hash needs to be widely adopted because, with better hash the pool is _NOT_ responsible for selecting transactions - all it will do is pool the rewards. Individual miners in the pool can create their own block templates. Thus they are no longer ASIC operators as they need to run a full node to create the block template.
I think betterhash will decentralize legal liabilities of the mining pool. Any point of centralization in bitcoin like a custodian mixing service is vulnerable to legal action.
submitted by Spartan3123 to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

Gridcoin 5.0.0.0-Mandatory "Fern" Release

https://github.com/gridcoin-community/Gridcoin-Research/releases/tag/5.0.0.0
Finally! After over ten months of development and testing, "Fern" has arrived! This is a whopper. 240 pull requests merged. Essentially a complete rewrite that was started with the scraper (the "neural net" rewrite) in "Denise" has now been completed. Practically the ENTIRE Gridcoin specific codebase resting on top of the vanilla Bitcoin/Peercoin/Blackcoin vanilla PoS code has been rewritten. This removes the team requirement at last (see below), although there are many other important improvements besides that.
Fern was a monumental undertaking. We had to encode all of the old rules active for the v10 block protocol in new code and ensure that the new code was 100% compatible. This had to be done in such a way as to clear out all of the old spaghetti and ring-fence it with tightly controlled class implementations. We then wrote an entirely new, simplified ruleset for research rewards and reengineered contracts (which includes beacon management, polls, and voting) using properly classed code. The fundamentals of Gridcoin with this release are now on a very sound and maintainable footing, and the developers believe the codebase as updated here will serve as the fundamental basis for Gridcoin's future roadmap.
We have been testing this for MONTHS on testnet in various stages. The v10 (legacy) compatibility code has been running on testnet continuously as it was developed to ensure compatibility with existing nodes. During the last few months, we have done two private testnet forks and then the full public testnet testing for v11 code (the new protocol which is what Fern implements). The developers have also been running non-staking "sentinel" nodes on mainnet with this code to verify that the consensus rules are problem-free for the legacy compatibility code on the broader mainnet. We believe this amount of testing is going to result in a smooth rollout.
Given the amount of changes in Fern, I am presenting TWO changelogs below. One is high level, which summarizes the most significant changes in the protocol. The second changelog is the detailed one in the usual format, and gives you an inkling of the size of this release.

Highlights

Protocol

Note that the protocol changes will not become active until we cross the hard-fork transition height to v11, which has been set at 2053000. Given current average block spacing, this should happen around October 4, about one month from now.
Note that to get all of the beacons in the network on the new protocol, we are requiring ALL beacons to be validated. A two week (14 day) grace period is provided by the code, starting at the time of the transition height, for people currently holding a beacon to validate the beacon and prevent it from expiring. That means that EVERY CRUNCHER must advertise and validate their beacon AFTER the v11 transition (around Oct 4th) and BEFORE October 18th (or more precisely, 14 days from the actual date of the v11 transition). If you do not advertise and validate your beacon by this time, your beacon will expire and you will stop earning research rewards until you advertise and validate a new beacon. This process has been made much easier by a brand new beacon "wizard" that helps manage beacon advertisements and renewals. Once a beacon has been validated and is a v11 protocol beacon, the normal 180 day expiration rules apply. Note, however, that the 180 day expiration on research rewards has been removed with the Fern update. This means that while your beacon might expire after 180 days, your earned research rewards will be retained and can be claimed by advertising a beacon with the same CPID and going through the validation process again. In other words, you do not lose any earned research rewards if you do not stake a block within 180 days and keep your beacon up-to-date.
The transition height is also when the team requirement will be relaxed for the network.

GUI

Besides the beacon wizard, there are a number of improvements to the GUI, including new UI transaction types (and icons) for staking the superblock, sidestake sends, beacon advertisement, voting, poll creation, and transactions with a message. The main screen has been revamped with a better summary section, and better status icons. Several changes under the hood have improved GUI performance. And finally, the diagnostics have been revamped.

Blockchain

The wallet sync speed has been DRASTICALLY improved. A decent machine with a good network connection should be able to sync the entire mainnet blockchain in less than 4 hours. A fast machine with a really fast network connection and a good SSD can do it in about 2.5 hours. One of our goals was to reduce or eliminate the reliance on snapshots for mainnet, and I think we have accomplished that goal with the new sync speed. We have also streamlined the in-memory structures for the blockchain which shaves some memory use.
There are so many goodies here it is hard to summarize them all.
I would like to thank all of the contributors to this release, but especially thank @cyrossignol, whose incredible contributions formed the backbone of this release. I would also like to pay special thanks to @barton2526, @caraka, and @Quezacoatl1, who tirelessly helped during the testing and polishing phase on testnet with testing and repeated builds for all architectures.
The developers are proud to present this release to the community and we believe this represents the starting point for a true renaissance for Gridcoin!

Summary Changelog

Accrual

Changed

Most significantly, nodes calculate research rewards directly from the magnitudes in EACH superblock between stakes instead of using a two- or three- point average based on a CPID's current magnitude and the magnitude for the CPID when it last staked. For those long-timers in the community, this has been referred to as "Superblock Windows," and was first done in proof-of-concept form by @denravonska.

Removed

Beacons

Added

Changed

Removed

Unaltered

As a reminder:

Superblocks

Added

Changed

Removed

Voting

Added

Changed

Removed

Detailed Changelog

[5.0.0.0] 2020-09-03, mandatory, "Fern"

Added

Changed

Removed

Fixed

submitted by jamescowens to gridcoin [link] [comments]

BCHN vs ABC in numbers : there's a clear winner.

I've breakdown the data in Four sets : pool support, companies/organisations support, infrastructure, futures price. I’ll update the data based on your comments - as I probably forgot some key players - so it is the most accurate !
.
MINERS SUPPORT :
Pools signaling BCHN : BTC.top : https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/icgm21/its_over_btctop_saying_no_ifp_is_the_nail_in/
Bitcoin.com : https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/ibxlok/bitcoincom_recommended_node_implementation_fo
Binance : https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/ib7lq8/binance_pool_is_now_signalling_powered_by_bchn/
Huobi : https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/ic4pnu/huobi_just_signaled_poweredbybchn/
P2Pool : https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/ib9fzs/p2pool_just_mined_a_bchn_block/
Hashpipe : https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/ianjrf/new_mining_pool_hashpipe_takes_stand_against/
Easy2mine : https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/i7xn9w/easy2mine_is_now_signaling_for_bchn/
Viabtc* : https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/i7xn9w/easy2mine_is_now_signaling_for_bchn/
Okex : https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/idzs24/okex_now_signaling_for_bchn_estimated_67_of_hash/
Pools signaling ABC :
Viabtc* : https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/i7xn9w/easy2mine_is_now_signaling_for_bchn/
Conclusion :
BCHN hash signaled : Around 64%
ABC hash signaled : Around 5%
Hash unsignaled : Around 31% (mainly Jihan Wu with Antpool & btc.com pools)
*ViaBTC said they were going to support the 2 implementations and once asked to clarify, stated that ABC would be the default implementation for the miners in their pool (I divided the hashrate by 2 regarding Viabtc to obtain the hash signaled numbers).
.
COMPANIES/ORGANISATIONS SUPPORT :
Companies/organisations signaling BCHN :
All other node implementations : BU, BCHD, Bitcoin Verde, Knuth : https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/i47xji/this_is_a_golden_opportunity_for_bchn_bu_bchd/
Readcash : https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/ifio6n/readcash_will_support_bchnbchd_side_of_the_split/
Membercash : https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/ifl3fl/membercash_will_stick_with_the_bchn_compatible/
Mainnet : https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/i4y76a/warning_mainnet_will_support_bchnside_only_if_you/
Bitcoin.com : https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/i76ab0/to_our_customers_regarding_the_bitcoin_cash/
SLP foundation : https://read.cash/@SLP-Foundation/simple-ledger-protocols-joint-statement-regarding-bitcoin-abc-on-bchs-november-2020-upgrade-3ba8d706
Coinex** : https://twitter.com/yhaiyang/status/1297377355602653189
Lazyfox : https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/ifp6c8/bchn_vs_abc_in_numbers_theres_a_clear_winneg2ozj9w/
Companies/organisations signaling ABC :
Coinex** : https://twitter.com/yhaiyang/status/1297377355602653189
**Haipo Yang stated that he would support both coins.
Conclusion :
BCHN : More than 10 companies/organisations
ABC : 1 company
.
INFRASTRUCTURE :
BCHN :
fulcrum (electrum server that electron and others depend on)
electrs (electrum server that electron and others depend on)
crescent wallet
bitcoincashj
all electrum servers for electron
cash accounts infrastructure
infrastructure run by im_uname
slp infrastructure
General Protocols' BCH Price Oracle, smart contract redemption services
Electrum Cash
Fullstack.cash
HonkHonk : https://twitter.com/realhonktoken/status/1298095753789943808
ABC :
Cointext
Fullstack.cash
Be.cash
.
FUTURES PRICE :
BCHN : 288$ https://coinflex.com/markets/BCH-USD-SWAP-LIN
ABC : 29$ https://coinflex.com/markets/BCHABC-USD-201225-LIN
submitted by verdun2003 to btc [link] [comments]

I’m a commentator for a tournament of nightmares. I’m not sure the participants are willing.

You’d think being a psychiatric ward for 38 months would be enough to deter a guy from ever going back to a sport that involves watching human beings at the height of their physical prowess beat the living shit out of each other. Sometimes regulated, sometimes not.
But, here I am, fresh outta the loony bin and reading the most unusual advertising slogan I’d ever laid eyes on;
“The most terrifying tournament has come around once again! Conquer your fears in the NFC*…* literally.”
This was the business card that accompanied my black envelope as it was handed to me on the discharge ward by a well dressed and gangly fella with an uncomfortable wide smile. He didn’t say much of anything, just that his name was “Watson” before bowing and holding up the envelope.
“Heh, like the butler, right?” I said, taking the envelope from his plasticine hands. His smile ripples across his face and he nods slowly, his perfect hair unmoving in the strong wind before he turns on his heel and walks back to the black sedan.
The cold air chilled my bones, and I pulled the medical bracelet from my wrist, grimacing at the marks underneath before following Watson to the Sedan and hauling my luggage into the trunk before setting off, not knowing how I came to even be there in the first place.
I guess right now, that doesn’t really matter.
What matters is where I am now and what I’m doing.
"blood strewn across the canvas, frayed brain matter sailing across my head and splattering against the wall, a woman standing in a pool of blood as the deformed creature twitches on the ground"
My name is Sal “Motormouth” Sabotta, I’m a sports commentator by trade. Be it combat sports, pro wrestling, death-matches or martial arts tournament, I’ve done it all.
I won’t lie; Work can be hard to come by. I’ve spent months struggling for rent and resorting to less tried-and-true commentary methods in order to survive. That has, at times, involved trying my hand at some of the more underground competitions; unregulated fights, sick, illegal games bet on by people on the dark web and worse… Things I’m not going to detail here. Things I’m not proud to have taken a hefty pay-check for from greasy, sweaty fucks in Armani tracksuits and stinking of cheap booze and coke all the way up to well-dressed bitcoin farmers in their 20s who probably own child slaves.
In short, I’m no stranger to the grim underworld or the secrecies with which they conduct their work. I see money and an easy way to make it with my voice; I don’t ask questions.
So when I received an email the day of my discharge from the hospital and I’m told “you’ll receive a letter from Mr. Watson, take it and follow the instructions to the venue. Pay up front as agreed.”, I don’t question it. Especially when the note is personalised, and the doctor says my medical fees were covered.
We drove past numerous landscapes, vistas and neighbourhoods before veering off into an industrial estate and entering an underground tunnel. Half a mile in, Watson stops the car and peers back, smiling.
He directs a thumb to the service door in the side tunnel and rubs his neck, a scar running from ear to ear. Was he a former fighter? Gangster?
I sighed and got out, still in my medical gown and hauling ass to the door. It opened before I could reach out and a tall, muscular woman in her late 30s greeted me with a smile. She was imposing, powerful in her gait, a black eyepatch with several seals adorning the sides accompanying a thick scar down her face did nothing to stop her beauty. She wore a tank top with a black cloak with white fur on the tops and sleeves, a thick black chain clasp around the neck. I won’t lie; she looked badass. Terrifying, but badass.
“‘Bout time ya showed up, Sabotta!” She grinned and put a cinderblock of a hand on my shoulder. I’m 5’10 and 180lbs, but she made me feel like a child in front of her. The power emanating from her fist was unbelievable. “C’mon, the trial match is starting and I don’t want no tourney without a broken in commentator! You gotta know the ropes of this place!”
“You know your driver was standing right outside when I was discharged, right? Couldn’t think to give me an extra day or two to freshen up?” I frowned. This wasn’t normal protocol, even for back-alley promotions like this. She just laughed at me and slapped my shoulder.
“The tournament waits for nobody, Sal. Times a-wasting.”
The hallway is dimly lit and the sounds of a ruckus above us are as impossible to ignore as the sounds of thudding, screaming and snapping. As we pass several doors with one-way mirrors on the front panes, I hear sounds I could have never placed in the animal kingdom or otherwise; gurgles, clicks, grunts and even otherworldly whispers.
“What the fuck is that? You guys doing animal fights down here? I mean I called a monkey fight once, but it’s not exactly… pleasant.” I shuddered, thinking of the violence chimpanzees can inflict on one another, let alone humans. She never stopped walking or staring directly ahead when she responded.“Those ain’t animals. Not by a long shot.”
Before I can probe further, I’m hurried into a changing room and practically swept off my feet by her strength. I turn back and she’s already poking her head out the door.
“You’ve got 5 minutes, get your shit and head up the left stairs, Watson will guide you.” She grinned, and I saw gold filings in her teeth that glinted as much as her bedazzled eye patch. “Ya came highly recommended… I expect good things!”
I do as instructed and within 5 minutes I’m back in my commentary clothes; an open buttoned Hawaiian shirt with my old Hotel Inertia shirt underneath, skinny black jeans and shimmering black shoes. I found some old slick gorilla powder in my hair and dusted it up, opting for the dishevelled look as I knew I’d be sweating by the end of the ordeal.
“You shouldn’t bother putting in so much effort, y’know. They’re not gonna care how good you look, only how well you talk.”
Standing in the doorway was a woman in her 40s, dark-skinned and hair clad in meticulous dreadlocks, tied back into a large bun with a pair draped down the sides of her head. She held a thick book in one hand and pocketed a serrated blade in the other before motioning to me.
“We’ll have to do the pleasantries on the way, the match is starting and you don’t wanna miss that. The commissioner isn’t the type you want to upset. Especially when you’re not here by choice.” I looked for a moment, dumbfounded.
“I’m here because I was invited, already got my pay from the woman who let me in.” I shrugged, pocketing the envelope and getting my equipment from the suitcase. The woman gave a sad smile and shook her head.
“Of course you’d think that. She likes it that way. Bet she didn’t introduce herself either, did she? C’mon.”
I follow her down and after a few minutes we come to a fork in the hallway, an elevator system to our right and a stairway to the left. Dutifully, Watson stood patiently, still grinning and motioning us to go up.
Once we’re situated in our booth upstairs, I set my equipment up and look down at the table, expecting a slew of papers and fighter information in front of me. I look to the woman to ask, but she doesn’t break her stare in the darkness, looking down at the arena floor some 100ft below us.“You won’t need that. Not for this match.”
The lights flicker on and the enormity of this venue reveals itself to me. It’s a structure of imposing steel, dried blood, claw marks and other unknown substances that littered the 40ft wide circular pit the fighters contested in, a black lift on either side from the fighters corners that I can only assume ascended up from their locker room area. Around them were chain-link fences that rose up to the audience stands above, situating around 300 people across all four sides. At the very top sat our booth, the commissioner’s office directly opposite, the judges booth to our right and the fight analysts/medical area to our left. Standing in the centre with a spotlight over them was the commissioner, microphone in hand and an energy that was almost palpable.
“Ladies, Gentlemen and Freaks of all kinds out there in the universe. I welcome you once more to the annual Nightmare Fighting Championship Tournament! It’s been a long year, but we have new blood to pit against our resident night terrors and some fresh fears to feast on the fortuitous soul that frolics into their den. As always, our contestants will be fighting for their freedom, a chance to get their wish or to fight for the ultimate prize.” The crowd cheers and the majority are hidden behind thick plexiglass and lighting, but I can see some have Karate Gi’s, weapons in hand and others with demon masks as they whoop and holler. The clientele here were, at least in my estimation, experienced. But I was feeling a lump in my throat at that one phrase The Commissioner so surreptitiously added in without issue;
“As always, our contestants will be fighting for their freedom*”*
I leaned to the woman next to me and as if she knew what I was going to ask; she put a finger up and shook her head. Eyes awash with fear and a grimness I had only seen on that of trainers who knew their fighter was not ready for the bout ahead. She pointed the finger down to my machine, then to the pit. Turning it on, I looked down as the commissioner began to talk, readying myself to commentate on whatever weirdos came up to battle.
“But before we get to that, we have an exciting exhibition match for our loyal supporters who bankroll this event every year. Without you elite few, we could not do this. You are the pound for pound goats of support! Now, without further ado; let’s get this show on the road!”The rest of the lights clicked on and spun around the venue as they raised the profile of the bout, the elevators both whirring into action as the right one arose first.
“In this corner, from the marionettes shop and accompanied by his Bunraku doll “Mr. Stares”, it’s the man who pulls the strings… THE PUPPET MAN!”
Out steps a tall, thin Japanese man in full clown makeup. His head shaven save for two ridiculous strands of hair stretched out and fluffed up to their limits, like red antennae. His eyebrows large m’s that practically cover his forehead, the nose a completely vacant slot with a black hole drawn in and the mouth… the fucking mouth was nailed shut. Literally. Sharp rusted nails had been hammered down through the lips with such force that they’d bent. A sickening crimson red face-paint stretched across the entire bottom half of his face, making it seem far larger by comparison. He carefully held a small bundle underneath a sheet and bowed deeply to the audience before standing at his designated spot.
“In the other corner, from the streets of god knows where and the womb of someone who misses him… "Hulked Up" Michael O’Donnell!”
I watched with wide eyes and a stomach threatening to evacuate its contents at any moment as the smoke cleared and a boy no older than 17 rushed out, beating his chest and screaming to the crowd as if he was the Incredible Hulk. I don’t know if they drugged the poor kid, but he clearly had no idea where he was.
“There are no rules, no referees and judges only exist in case of a draw or unclear victory. Our commentary team will take over and we wish you a phenomenal match.” She drools a little before she speaks again, looking up at me and winking. “Let’s make this a violent one.”
She snaps her fingers and leaps for the fence, climbing up with ungodly ease before sitting on her makeshift chair in her office.
I have no idea what I’m seeing but every cell in my body is urging me to run; I feel my knees tense and my frame rise ever so slightly before the woman next to me puts her hand on my thigh, pushing me down with great force.
“You have a job to do, so do I. Trust me, you think you can leave but if you get out of this chair, not only will YOUR life end. Mine will too.” She unsheathes the serrated blade and looks at me with pity. “We both have a part to play here, so put the headset on and let’s do our job, no matter how hard it is.”
Hands shaking, I pick up the headset and connect it to the portable recorder and take a breath.
“I… I need your name. What is it you do?” I stutter, trying to calm myself. She hands me a bottle of water as the surrounding lights dim and the spotlight focuses on the spectacle below.
“I’m Madame Nelle Lockwood, cryptid hunter and your co-host to guide you through tonight. Good to meet you, Sal.”
-
NFC EXHIBITION MATCH: "Hulked Up" Michael O’Donnell vs The Puppet Man w/ Mr. Stares
“Welcome fight fans from around the world, god knows how you’re listening to this or WHY, but here we are. I’m your host Sal “MotorMouth” Sabotta, wishing this was all a bad dream. Joining me this evening is our cryptid specialist and all round badass Madame Nelle Lockwood. How are you doing, Nelle?”
She looks at me with a bewildered look on her face before blinking and coming to her senses.
“Uhh… good! All things considered… boy, you really have a professional knack for this, huh? I can see why Commissioner Alduin brought you in."
“Ahh, yes. That’s right, folks! NFC Commissioner Alduin invited me here personally and our exhibition match proves to be… challenging. Let’s check in on the action below.”
I look down and see The Puppet Man sat down and gesturing to the figure under the sheet, like he’s got a negotiation going on. The boy, undeterred and furious, rushes towards him and takes his back, slapping his head and even pulling on his hair with extreme prejudice.
“Well take a gander at that, that kid has absolutely NO fear. When I was his age, I would have stayed FAR the fuck away from a nightmare spectre like that. But hell, this is all part of the show, right? Hope they’re paying that poor guy down there a sizeable sum to throw a fight to a child. What do you think, Nelle; is this the weirdest make-a-wish fulfilment task or what?”
I look over to her, hoping she’d indulge me and that I could believe this was just going to end with a pissed off actor storming away when the child hit him too hard. But Nelle was scanning her now open book and looking for information on dolls.
“He’s talking to his doll because it’s desperate to be let loose. He’s trying to bargain with it to spare him. This is the nature of the puppeteer and his master.” She pushes the book to the centre of the table and shows me a faded illustration of a pristine Bunraku doll; a kind of meticulously crafted Japanese take on the ventriloquist doll. The limbs are thinner and the face is more minimalist, but still no more frightening. “They usually have a symbiotic relationship, but it seems this one obeys the doll and will not want to face more punishment.”
“What do you mean more punishment?” I ask, looking back down at the feverish puppet man as he tries signing frantically under the sheet, even putting his head under as the kid bites his arm and kicks him, screeching.
“The nails, Sal. Those aren’t to silence him, they’re to punish him.”
The rest happened in slow motion; the sheet fell down. The puppet man stood up and walked to his side of the fighters corner, facing the elevator and placing his face into his forearms as he shook. The boy followed to keep attacking, but with one swift kick to the midsection, the boy was propelled back to the centre of the pit where the doll sat.
If there was a human face, I didn’t see it. Instead, I was staring down at a small wood carved spider, the head sporting black geisha hair and the makeup still present, but rows of sharpened black teeth protruded from the clicking mouth and two larger eyes jutted out from the base of the skull, smaller ones dotted closely around it. It was like seeing a puppet ogre spider.
“Looks like The Puppet Man has let Mr. Stares out to say hi and I can certainly see why he was under that sheet, this one isn’t pretty folks! The face doth fit the name. The question is, what’s he doing to do ne-
“I didn’t need to finish the question. My hands shook, and the world spun around me as this creature crawled towards the still wheezing boy with ungodly speed and perched itself expertly beside him. I don’t know if it was my eyes or the distance from where I sat, but this was NOT a small puppet. He was easily half of the boy’s height and that became more unnerving when he reared up on his back legs, the head clicking up and the raspy voice hissing out like a gas leak in a building.
“Hey, hey, kid! Wanna make a deal?” The kid rubbed his eyes, seemingly realising where he was as he calmed down and an air of utter confusion around him.
“If you let me be your new master and you promise to take care of me, I’ll let you go!” His head spun around and the jaw clicked ferociously as he giggled, extending out a clawed paw. “Whaddya say?”
The boy, still confused, slowly reached out his hand and the moment immediately reminded me of a slew of nature shows I’d seen as a kid; where a predator waits until the prey is lulled before striking. I felt the chill up my spine as he extended his hand and grabbed Mr. Stares.
In that moment, he leapt up the arm and bore his way into the boy’s mouth, down his throat and shredded his flesh. The sound was so horrifying, so visceral that it outshines any backyard stabbing, joint snap or broken nose. The boy didn’t even have time to scream, he simply looked up with tear-stained eyes as the puppet disappeared.
Then he started walking without him realising. He looked down at his limbs, terrified, looked over at The Puppet Master, who still had his head to the elevator and pleaded with someone, anyone to help him. I looked to Nelle who refused to take her eyes away, studying the battle in an almost morbid scientific curiosity, detached entirely from the scenario.
I couldn’t fathom how she did it, how she ignored this boy begging us to get him out of there.
I wanted to. Every instinct in me as a fight fan and a decent human was to scream “STOP THE FIGHT!”.
But clearly, when my own life is at risk and money is involved...
I am not a decent human.
Instead, with bile in my throat and a sweating forehead, I did my job.
“M-My goodness! The P-uppet, I mean, “Mr. Stares” has BECAME the puppet master, surely the fight will be over with our young competitor incapacitated? What does our commissioner have to say about this?”
She stared at me, her one eye gleaming and her face elated with the violence.
“It ain’t over yet, church boy. We haven’t even seen the finale, have we Puppet Master?!” She laughs and slaps her knee, the puppet master sobbing as he sinks to the floor and she continues.
“He ain’t done feeding, not yet.”
The way she said that word “feeding” nearly made me lose what food I had in me. That was a young man, somebody's baby boy…
“What does she mean by that, Nelle? What is the strategy to victory here?”
Nelle looked down at her book and traced her finger across a passage before wiping her forehead and pushing the locks aside. If her composure wasn’t breaking yet, it would do soon.
“This kind of parasitic doll feasts on its prey and targets non-essential organs first, controls the host with the neurotoxin in its tail and then, when it’s finally content, it gives the brain a second injection.”
“What happens then?” I asked, my own professionalism hanging on by a fucking thread at this point. She shook her head and pinched the bridge of her nose.“I guess you’ll see in a moment, I sure as hell don’t want to. Not again.”
Before I can prompt her further, the boy lets out an ear-piercing shriek and falls to his knees, gripping at his head before it turned red, then purple and finally an ugly shade of puce before…
The sound of a watermelon hitting the ground from a great height is the best comparison you’re going to get without making me want to rush to the toilet to puke for a third time. But that’s what happened. His head burst and chunks of his skull, flesh and brain matter sprayed the pit and the walls, some hitting my desk and making me audibly shriek, much to the commissioner's delight.
“HA! You didn’t run! I like you, Sal. You pass for the tournament!” She hauls her body up and slams down to the pit, applauding as the microphone descends from the heavens. “And your winner; The Puppet Man and Mr. Stares!”
The crowd erupts with applause as the weeping puppet man pulls the blood-soaked puppet out, places him under the sheet and silently begins to walk back to the elevator while attendees clear up the boy’s corpse.
“What… what the fuck IS this place?” I ask Nelle, pausing my recording.
“This is where nightmares are kept and set upon mostly unwilling competitors for the world’s amusement. You HAVE done dark web fights before, right? Mafia snitches being put into lions pits, bum fights, addicts fighting women to score… this can’t be THAT unusual to you?”
I stared at her incredulously. Was that even a question?
“I did the dark web ONCE and it damn sure didn’t involve monsters!”
She scoffs and closes her book, stretching before looking at me with contempt.
“Oh, it did. Just not the ones you hear about in fairytales. Good luck with the selection process. I’ll be back for the opening round. Don’t try to run, they’ll devour us both in minutes, if you think this is the pinnacle of what lurks beneath this club, you're in for a rough night.” She sauntered off, leaving me deflated, sickened and terrified. Unable to leave and frustrated to the point of tears that I couldn’t express that concoction of emotions, I did what I always do; I regressed and pressed “record” on the device as Commissioner Alduin continued.
At that moment, however, I was deaf to it all. The gravity of the situation had fully enveloped me…
They weren’t kidding about the unwilling participants, I just didn’t realise I would be one of them.On every side of me sits men and women with a desire for violence that goes beyond the norm, beyond the sane and beyond the boundaries of humanity.Below me are an untold number of creatures rattling their cages and howling for blood.
Across from me is a woman so powerful she could crush my skull beneath her boot with the utmost ease if it so amused her.
That invitation was nothing more than my own ransom note in pretty colours and flattering platitudes.
I was in a tournament housing nightmares incarnate.
And it would only get more violent from here on out.
-
The opening round was a blood bath.
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