Everyone from my office was there, but some of the women were dressed in sort of harem costumes - abbreviated, midriff-baring blouses, flowing pantaloons, elaborate hair, lots of extra gauzy stuff with no obvious purpose. The others were dressed the way I usually see them - jeans and shirts or business casual sorts of clothes. Most of the guys were dressed for work too, but some of them were dressed sort of like gladiators. My boss was among the gladiators.
This was not a role-playing game or a team-building exercise of the traditional sort. This was for real. One company would challenge another for whatever reason, and the two would meet here. One of the "gladiators" from each team would face an opponent from another company in single combat. One of the harem-girl women from each team would be on the line. The losing team's girl would have her head cut off by the victor. We all had monitors in our office/dorms for each competition, and we were all feeling cocky because my boss never lost. In real life, my boss is cut, ripped, and many other violent adjectives for being well-muscled and very athletic.
After a fight, the woman would be led out onto the field in a huge procession with music and dancers and flowers, etc. And the woman always looked the same - stunned, as though she were saying to herself "He lost....he lost....." The winner would take a long, curved ceremonial sword and strike the woman's head off with a single blow. And the crowd in the stands would go wild.
The choice of which woman would be sacrificed was not known until the minute she stepped out onto the field. The choice was made by the gladiator himself, but not announced until his loss. There was always speculation and there were usually only one or two women who were possibilities, so that it was very rarely a surprise when a given lady stepped onto the field. And winning was normally decided when one gladiator gave up. Neither opponent had to be physically wounded in order to offer his surrender. Some men used it strategically, some out of cowardice, some out of desperation. Every company had a different "corporate" philosophy of battle, and every gladiator within every company worked it differently.
Suddenly, it was my boss against another guy, and the rumor was that I was on the line. I had my ceremonial outfit on, and several women from the company were crowded around me. They were supposed to be grooming me for an appearance on the field, but nobody bothered as my boss never lost. One of the women was the wife (or girlfriend) of the gladiator from the opposing team. She hadn't told anyone that she was married to him, but her hysterics every time he battled made her relationship to him obvious. She denied that she had any personal stake in him, but halfway through the combat she was ordered out of the video room because she was distracting us from our enjoyment of the game.
The gladiators had all sorts of weapons at their disposal - swords, lances, maces, laser guns, gravity-defying skateboard-looking things, ropes hanging from overhead beams. They ran, swooped, zipped around the arena, striking blows at their opponent with whatever weapon they had in hand. Occasionally one would drop a weapon to the sand and swoop down, picking up another. No one else was allowed on the playing field. My boss had on a steel breastplate over a hauberk, but under that he had on board shorts and heavy kneepads and a sort of skateboarding helmet and elbow pads.
His strategy was to get on his skateboard thing and zip around his opponent's head, slapping at him with his hands or a small, short weapon until his opponent was just annoyed and began making mistakes. He could then take his time and think more tactically, exploiting whatever weakness his enemy revealed. His most brilliant move was that of his quick direction-changes. This involved going flat-out on his skateboard and grabbing one of the ropes as he flashed by at speed, whipping himself and his board 180 degrees around before his opponent could react. He had this particular guy standing stock-still in the middle of the arena, shooting wildly over his head while covering his face with his arm. Not exactly a tactical position. My boss whipped himself around for a final blow that would knock his opponent down and render him helpless. The guy stood staring straight ahead, watching with an open mouth as my boss bore down on him carrying a long lance. At the last possible second, the guy raised his laser gun and hit my boss full in the unprotected face. My boss was low enough that as he pitched forward, the long lance caught the ground and flipped him onto his back in the sand hard enough to send up a spray of sand, half-burying him. He raised one hand, signifying his surrender.
Every single person in the room was speechless. My jaw went slack, my eyes glazed over. I realized that this was it. Within ten minutes I'd be dead to the cheering of the crowds. There was no appeal, no recourse. It was all decided. My face was just like that of every other women who had ever been led out onto the field. We were filing out of the room, my elbows being held by two other women in harem garb, but the cheering on the screen made us whip around.
There was the wife/girlfriend, being led out onto the field. My boss was standing beside her, looking none the worse for his loss and wearing an expression of complete triumph. His victorious opponent looked horrified, beaten, and sorry. My eyes went wide. He'd lost on purpose. In real life, this is the way my boss thinks. I've seen it. He had just guaranteed that it would be a long-ass time before another company challenged us for anything.
Really, it was just like my ordinary life. JUST LIKE. Only with gladiators. And harem girls. And single combat instead of meetings. But other than that, EXACTLY the same.