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Floatfighting is a combat sport that is engaged by the Sangheili inhabitants of the Refuge, in the colony's Combat Section. The sport occurred in the Combat Section's zero-gravity environment. Champions of floatfighting were known as "floatfight heroes" and some were given the Relic Medal to wear for one Refuge year. Notable floatfight heroes include Norzessa, Xelq 'Tylk, Z'nick 'Berda, and V'urm 'Kerdeck.
At some point in the Refuge's history, the artificial gravity nodes of one of the Refuge's storage section collapsed in on themselves. The section was used to allow Sangheili Ussans to legally exercise their thirst for combat and athletic competition without killing each other. Combat that was not ordered or initiated by the kaidon of the Refuge was considered illegal, so floatfighting was formed to allow Sangheili to maintain their warrior culture and identity. Floatfighting became an established sport and the section was renamed the "Combat Section". The sport successfully served to satisfy the thirst for combat and battle for the Sangheili that watched or participated for numerous centuries.
In 2553, Kaidon Bal'Tol 'Xellus challenged 'Kinsa to a floatfight competition; ten Ussans against ten of 'Kinsa's men. 'Kinsa's growing rebellion and revival of the 'Greftus Faction led to the loss of several of the Refuge's sections and the capture of C'tenz, a close friend of 'Xellus. If 'Kinsa won, he would be given control of the Refuge, but if 'Xellus won, the 'Greftus Faction would be killed and C'tenz would be freed. In addition, 'Xellus would have the match broadcasted to the entire Refuge to show all Sangheili inhabitants which faction was more competent. Reluctantly, 'Kinsa accepted. On the day of the match, 'Kinsa showed up with an additional fighter and a mec-missile launcher—a weapon that was considered untraditional in the sport. Although they were outnumbered, 'Xellus and his fighters were able to hold their own. During the fight, one of 'Kinsa's floatfighters, V'urm 'Kerdeck, nearly killed Bal'Tol, but 'Kerdeck was killed by the recently repaired Enduring Bias. The monitor ended the match by using gravitational technology to hold all the surviving floatfighters in place. 'Kinsa attempted to kill Enduring Bias with his mec-missile launcher, but was easily killed by the monitor. The rest of 'Kinsa's floatfighters surrendered and C'tenz was freed.
Floatfighting involved grappling techniques and free-fall acrobatics in a zero-gravity environment. It was often a very violent sport and death would sometimes occur. A floatfight match may consist of several competitors in a free-for-all. The objective of each fighter was to eliminate the others by wounding them or rendering them unable to fight. The floatfight commission would attempt to avoid deaths, although occasionally the remaining two competitors would kill each other. The Combat Section was lined with flexible, vertical bands that allowed for Sangheili combatants to realign their trajectory or position themselves to attack. A net protected the audience from injuries. Burnblades, throwing blades, quartermoon blades, and spiked gloves and cudgels were used by the Sangheili in the sport. Sangheili participants were protected by chest armor and a helmet.
Floatfighter judges were used to determine when to end a match—usually when a floatfighter was too wounded to fight or near death. However, if a judge decided that a competitor was too wounded, a powerful beam of red light would be projected onto the injured Sangheili. The injured floatfighter would then be required to enter the fetal position and they would be deemed irrelevant to the rest of the match. Referees, propelled by jetpacks, would then pull the injured floatfighter out of the competition. The audience would either mock or groan with sympathy for the injured floatfighter, depending on their popularity.
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