begin blog post #15]
“You were dropped here, then?”
Again he emphasizes the word “dropped” to indicate it means more than what he is saying. I don’t understand what he really means by it but I infer he means landed by someone not of Malefactus, for some purpose of their own, someone who then vanished without trace in some flying contraption or shuttle craft equipped to detect and foil all of the planet’s detection systems.
“No sir, I do not believe the word dropped is the correct way to put it.” I still dare not tell him what I really remember about myself: that I was able to reincarnate full grown out there in the desert having travelled here from some place even I can barely describe at this time. So I try to create a plausible story that he could buy, at least for the moment.
“I must have been cast away then, but I cannot remember from where I am, or what or who brought me here. I awoke on a sand dune, as the reports indicate. True, and walked a long way until I smelled the wood smoke from the rebel women’s camp. I went down into it. I found I could speak their language enough to communicate easily. They gave me drink and food and saved my life.
“Two days later the slave hunters found us and the women killed five of them before they were overrun. All the children were slaughtered and most of the women – there were twenty one of them.
“I knelt upon the sand during the fighting and killing, not knowing what was happening or why women and men were killing each other there – or why men would kill defenceless children. Six women survived, two badly wounded who were killed and left on the open desert. Only four and myself made it back here. That is all I remember. You know the rest, sir.”
“Yes, yes, I read the damn report. You take me for a fool, gora? You’re lying. How many others were dropped with you, on this planet or nearby worlds? What do they hope to accomplish here? What are you here for?”
I look at him and shrug, turning my head just as he lifts his hand and hits me totally unexpectedly and brutally on the side of my face. As a trained fighter I should have been able to detect some shift of body or some give-away in facial expression. I should have been able to sense something. But I saw or sensed nothing unusual coming from him, either before or after he hit me. It’s as if he’d already planned to terminate our “interview” in that fashion or he wasn’t even aware of what he had just done.
I make no move at all, taking the blow within as if fully deserved. Blood pours from my lips, cut on impact on my own teeth. He stands up suddenly and pressing the com unit on his wrist to open the outer door he orders in a peremptory tone that broaches no hesitation on my part: “Go! – Get out!”
I walk out, near to collapse from the blow to the head, the previous beatings in the fight and an empty stomach. I stand groggily a few steps outside his door freezing and shaking in pouring rain, every rain drop giving the impression of an ice needle going into my skin. I have to hold my hand over my mouth to keep my teeth from chattering. Water and blood mix and run freely down my arms, thighs and legs to the wet stones. I wait, as I must, for no woman is allowed to go anywhere without being escorted.
Handlers arrive, presumably summoned by the doctor, and they escort me to the eating place, to the long rough-hewn tables with smooth-worn benches along the kitchen walls. Several women are there, as naked as I in the freezing rain, eating from bowls filling with rain water as if this was the most normal thing in the world. Well, for them, it probably is because they cannot imagine the possibility of alternate choices. I wish I couldn’t either; maybe what I am going through at this moment would be easier to bear of I did not know of alternative lifestyles.
The food is served by the youngest trainees. Old women, not fighters, work in the kitchens. My portion arrives and I find myself ravenous. I eat carefully, trying to avoid my broken lips, wincing with the pain. One tooth is loose and I feel terrible.
I force my mind away from my immediate problems to create a “safe zone” in my thinking.
So it was that damned chakr drug that so upset my stomach. Idiots, they could have killed me with that stuff, or I could have passed out entirely after the fight began – I’m intolerant to most drugs. Must work on that too. I can accept the inflicted pain – can I learn to overcome the effects of their poisons and drugs? On Old Earth billions of humans survived the toxic effects of air, water and soil pollution for over two hundred years. I remember living a life I considered healthy during the worst of their environmental crises. So it’s not impossible to adapt to poisonous conditions even given little lead time. Humanoid bodies are short-lived but quite resilient in their own way.
I wolf down all they give me and seeing I’m still hungry, they double my portion at a nod from the handlers. They certainly seem pleased. My “doctor” may be upset at me now – and may well have me killed – but somebody’s happy from my day’s success, I think. Somebody made good on my “work” of the day I bet.
And at that moment I feel nothing but absolute disgust for these men. Ugly, stinking, heartless creatures, all of them. The women refer to these types as “dungut.” And their world has shaped itself to their ways. Why would I have thought, long ago in some never-never world they or their counterparts on Old Earth were worth redeeming?
So, great. Add “hate” to my list of personal failings to date. That particular vice was not supposed to be part of my repertoire. I’m still plummeting toward my personal nadir.
[end blog post #15]