Continuing with the novel…
Begin blog post #5
Chapter 3 – Malefactus: The Basic Set-up – Learning to Survive
“One does not stand still looking for a path. One walks; and as one walks, a path comes into being. We make it up as we go, and we make it up by going. (Rebecca Solnit)
Malefactus (my name for this world, the people here call it “T’Sing Tarleyn” (pronounced sintarn) meaning Land of Man) is a world whose main ruling force can only be referred to as misogyny. Men rule absolutely and hold all women, without any exception, in total bondage and slavery. No one escapes, not even those rare ones who are chosen as concubines by the various classes of rulers. If, or more likely when, his concubine no longer pleases him, he tires of her, or buys a new one to play with, he either kills her himself or has her trained as a gladiator to watch her fight until she is killed, sometimes by a friend to whom he owes a favour. Sometimes he even does the ‘honour’ and challenges his own concubine to the death. The outcome is always the same, of course: the concubine is killed.
It is illegal and a crime punishable by death for any man to ‘fall in love’ with a female. As for the female, her feelings in the matter are not relevant unless she becomes a nuisance, refusing to do what she is ordered or gets pregnant. Then she is flogged to death. There are stories of the cruelty of the judges exceeding all bounds: pitting the lovers against one-another in the arena forcing them to fight each other to the death. They have inducements that leave no choice in the matter, trust me on that.
There are four basic classes of female slaves with few variations. They are:
Class 01. Those who bear the children – the birth mothers. That is their only function. They are normally artificially impregnated and they give birth. If they have healthy babies, they get to continue. One who gives birth to a defective child is killed along with the child. When they are too old to be birth mothers, they are killed. Sometimes they are sent to the arena to be disposed of as entertainment value. In some cases, and in full violation of their own statutes, high members of the aristocracy and royalty will impregnate a birth mother in order to ensure a son of their own loins. If the intercourse produces a female she may be killed outright or class branded and sold to a crèche.
Class 02. These are the common labour slaves commonly referred to as goras although that term can be applied to any female anywhere. This class comprises the vast majority of females and are found everywhere, doing all the menial tasks required and expected by men. The law is very explicit on this, that these women may never be “used” for sex and if one is raped and it is discovered, or she becomes pregnant, she is killed, along with the rapist if found, indicted and condemned. Such a thing does happen rather frequently, as one would expect under the circumstances. “Free” sex is not permitted between men and any class of goras (female slaves). The reason is simple: men need their energy for fighting, or so it is believed and so it is taught to the boys. The ‘no sex’ rule is, of course, blatantly violated at every turn: who would enforce it?
Class 03. The third class of female slaves are the exclusive group of “entertainers” or sex slaves. These are bred specifically for their attractive bodies and trained in an endless array of sexual skills, including verbal skills, or skill in voice pitch, words, and even foreign languages should some be needed for trading to an enemy for certain considerations, or in exchange for hostages. Their training is rigorous and if they fail or are not bid for in a certain period of time they are sold as fodder for the arena slaughters. They are primarily bid upon by the rich and the nobility but also by the merchant class and foreign ambassadors as personal servants or concubines for themselves or their masters. The few concubines seen are usually from this class. The lives of these women are short. Many of these, after they have served their purpose also end their lives in the arena.
Class 04. The most sought-after and exclusive class are the female gladiators usually referred to as fighters. These are carefully bred and trained for the single purpose of meeting men in an arena and fighting them, always to the death (but every rule has its exceptions). It is considered an honour for a man to kill a female gladiator in public and huge sums of money change hands in the crazy gambling that takes place before and during these hand to hand combats. The female fighters, of course, get no recognition for bravery or endurance, though their owners may get standing ovations when one proves to be a match for several male contenders in a single day. The lives of these gladiator slaves are even shorter than those of the sex slaves.
This can be said: no woman dies of “old age” who has been slated to be a fighter in the arenas of Malefactus. It can also be said that no woman dies of old age anywhere, in any class of female slave on Malefactus. Fail at your work and you go to the arena to entertain male challengers and spectators by your bloody death. Violent death, either by public flogging or in the arena is the only encouragement you get for sticking to your work. It works.
Sub-classes of female slaves do exist as I discovered later (another hole in my research there!). A few are bred as healers, for example, but generally lumped in with the sex-slaves. Some specialize in numbers and are used as accountants or “Processors,” a type of human computer hardly considered to be a living being. Though their lives may be somewhat safer than most others, they never see anything beyond the rooms where they work, eat and sleep.
All “harvested” (captured) wild females are automatically branded as slaves in whatever class she seems to fit best, or has the most need of fresh bodies – if they survive the abuse they receive at the hands of their captors before they are auctioned off and bought. Then they come under the protection of their owners, whatever that may entail.
Now to establish my personal reason for choosing to incarnate on such a world as Malefactus and specifically as a gladiator or as they call us, a fighter.
Having been purchased by a consortium that trains, fights and auctions off gladiators, I am now officially to become a fighter, my training, I understand, to begin immediately.
A somewhat stocky man whom I take to be a doctor, wearing, it seems to me, nothing other than a white gown zippered down the front and dropping to just above the knees and a pair of sandals, goes over my body, inspecting every orifice. He takes samples of my hair, skin, blood and vaginal excretions. He makes me stand spread-eagle with my arms fully extended then proceeds to measure arms, hands, legs, feet, torso, shoulder width, head and neck. Then I have to stand perfectly straight and he measures my height. I can see him frowning and his lips move but he says nothing to me. There is that taboo against “non-essential” verbal communication from men to women also.
The “doctor” types notes on a small keypad Datacom unit on his left arm and consults briefly with a couple of men I take to be handlers. They take a memcard from him with what I assume is a copy of his notes and disappear in a small side door while he takes another look at me. Grabbing a handful of my hair, he pulls my face down and stares intently into my eyes for some moments, frowning even deeper. He releases my hair, running his fingers through it, turns and walks away through an opening with an automatic door in one of the walls.
What was he thinking apart from the obvious? I did notice that unlike the men I’ve seen so far, he is the only one with blue eyes. Also, his face is much broader and flatter than the others. His skin is also of a darker hue, tending to olive. And although I still stand higher than he, he is taller than any one else I’ve seen here.
Well, what else can I do but observe and try to fit in as quickly as possible to avoid further mistreatment or as they call it, ‘punishment’ for violation of rules?
These pleasantries over, I’m taken in hand by men I dub “trainers” and shown some of the various types of weapons gladiators are normally allowed to use. A spear, or rather a lance, and round shield with a foot long thin spike in the center. A staff made of some kind of metal alloy and what appears to be fiberglass on hardwood – flexible yet definitely a tough, effective weapon, slightly longer than my body length. A set of swords, one rapier type with a long thin blade I test and find to be light, flexible and razor-sharp and the other stubby, more like a dagger but with a fiendish toothed point designed to tear chunks out of flesh. A large, two handed double-edged “standard” sword that reminds me of those wielded by medieval knights on Earth but which I find incredibly light despite its size but still unwieldy if one were small of stature and short-limbed. Finally I’m handed a battle axe with a straight handle and exaggerated wide cutting blade, the ends of the blade made into sharp points – obviously for cutting when pulling back or for spearing in throwing. This is a truly ignorant weapon, suitable for trolls, not human females. What small woman could wield such a clumsy thing?
I’m also shown some light armour but told I’ll be training and fighting naked -seeing as I’m being billed as “the wild one” already and no armour has yet been designed to fit my larger body.
I accept all this. In my memory I locate the images that remind me I chose this place and this position. There are no real surprises here, except perhaps the degree to which this society has fallen into violence since the last records had been made – the ones I’d based many of my assumptions and hopes upon. The apparent complete lack of empathy and the crass callousness exhibited in social interactions – these express serious and unnatural flaws . These people may as well be computer-animated figures programmed by a very sick mind – but they are real enough to kill you at a moment’s notice.
[end blog post #5]