I find my eyes filling with tears as she reads these details in my mind. I had expected her to find nothing but a chaotic mess of darkness and filth in there. She holds up a mirror for my mind to heal itself from the “little death” of fear and doubt. I am indeed, still alive, very much so.
And I remain, despite all of this pain and confusion, Al’Tara the Altarian.
I am not lost. I will pass this test.
[end blog post #50]
[begin blog post #51]
Chapter 24 – ‘Bionic Woman’ faces Malefactus
According to YBA5 I have been granted a week to return ready to train and fight, or be officially terminated as ordered by the Arena Fighter Committee. For them it’s an easy decision. I’m old and not likely to produce many more interesting fights. Since I have served them well they would even save me from the final killing orgy.
A quick explanation of “killing orgy day” — my name for it, not theirs. They link these with some kind of “national” holiday.
The purpose is twofold.
First, it is used to cull old and considered useless females from the fighter line-ups; or those who have lost their owners and no one placing bets on them or paying for their basic maintenance. Other types earmarked for the killings are the ‘dikfols’(slang; woman gone crazy from blows to head, grief or other pathological cause) held in chains in the back cages specifically for this day; hopeless cases of young trainees; female law-breakers not yet executed; unclaimed “wild” captured females; any “extra” contingent of sex-slaves or workers deemed expendable or purchased from their owners by the Arena Fighter Committee for this purpose.
These are all lined up for certain death on that particular day and should any women somehow manage to survive the killings they are mowed down with laser rifles by guards or police forces brought in for the occasion. Point: not a single woman earmarked for a killing orgy can survive it. It is her day of death.
Second, it is the number one entertainment for the masses. On that day access to the arena is free. Each fan is given a number that gives him access to an arena seat. It is also a ticket for a random number selection which if called, gives him the coveted right to enter the arena proper as an official challenger, provided with a free weapon he may keep as a personal trophy if he survives his fight.
It is a day of the ugliest, most disgusting displays that pseudo-humans are capable of. The fans are loaded with chakr and carry plastic pouches of home brew. Drugged and drunk, they crowd the railings, hoping to elude guards and jump into the arena to rape and kill a female.
The highlight for individuals in these orgies is having their number drawn and receiving official entry into the arena to challenge a female opponent. It must be said that many of these idiots manage to get themselves slaughtered by the fighters before they too succumb to physical exhaustion and blood loss from never-ending challenges. I have experienced many of those days, having to stand at the various gates to support guards and trainers in preventing a drugged and boozed-up maddened crowd from breaking through the accesses to the female compounds. Armed guards, or local police units, are not permitted to intervene in these cases simply because opening fire in such crowded conditions could result in a mass slaughter of men, an unacceptable compromise and there is no guarantee that the guards themselves would not join in the madness and use their weapons on the females! There is a very precarious balance of power here that can easily shift – always to the detriment of the female slave class.
As for using special forces from the military who are ostensibly better disciplined, that is a no-go mostly because the owners of the female fighters are not willing to spend to money necessary for this extra security. So they use us, knowing we have a very real incentive in preventing the men from rushing into our compounds: our own life, and the lives of our lovers and friends. Also our weapons do not normally cause havoc yet still provide a powerful deterrent to the unarmed males. I must note here that we do not have the least compunction about killing these males. It’s our way to avenge the victims of the arena.
They hold at least two of these killing orgy “holidays” a year. The crowds are mostly made up of the gutter types I encountered when I first came into the city what seems now ages ago. Most of these “fans” can never afford to attend regular meets where the real fighting and heavy gambling takes place.
When the women are all killed the “fights” are officially terminated. Now the killers rampage through the bodies, cutting off appendages until only trunks or torsos of the women victims lie in the bloody sand. Scavenged appendages are removed as trophies which, I’ve heard from handlers, are carefully preserved by taxidermy and hung in hovels or carried in pouches as longevity charms. These macabre items are very marketable, though such trafficking is officially banned. The practice is actually on the increase and has become a serious security problem for owners or renters of worker females who are stolen (they are not considered kidnapped since they are not legally human) from their working stations and slaughtered for their parts.
I hope that short explanation helps you to understand a bit more about the mindset that rules this planet. Elbre from what I understand is not an exception but the rule for all of T’Sing Tarleyn. It is the way of it.
The auto-medic upgrade arrives the day after my long, productive session with the Cydroid YBA5, whom I now refer to as “Yoba Five” with her permission, which she granted when I asked, “Can I call you YoBa?”
“YoBa?” She smiles again. “Why yes, I’d like that very much. YoBa makes my name more human. Thank you! But if you wish to speak only to me, don’t forget to add ‘five’ to the name so my twins won’t listen in automatically. So, I am Yoba Five to you.”
And speaking of five, five days remain before my death sentence is carried out. And I see no way I can ever return to the training and fighting compounds in such a short time.
Two male Cydroids, disguised as guard and trainer, bring the equipment in and after stripping from their regular uniforms to don skin tight suits more suitable to the work, proceed to remove and replace. I am allowed to watch and even participate in an advisory capacity in the upgrade and my remembered skills, however rudimentary, as a techie of Old Earth and on Supremacy ships, are useful. The Melkiar wars provided all of us with an intimate knowledge of the workings of auto-meds on our ships. They saw much use then.
Wall panels come off carefully, are marked with numbers and stacked. Wire harnesses peeled off, disconnected, coiled and stored in sealed opaque lead-lined bags. New harnesses are re-routed and connected to new modules. Main and auxiliary com boards are installed, plugged in and tested. New banks of warning lights replace the old. New arms, sensors, probes mounted on pre-fab flanges are secured, plugged in and also tested for mobility and reach. Finally comes the re-install of the panels, all but the one which contained the old arms and probes. The Cydroids have had a new cover made for that section.
The five hours allocated for the change-over are shaved down to less than three. The unit is tested briefly on XBA4 who is in need of a transplant in the knee. There are no flaws. The unit performs perfectly and now it’s my turn. Time is of the essence.
I am put on the retractable table and must, regrettably, forego the little “party” of celebration being planned as soon as the doctor returns. I was going to ask Yoba Five not to forget the info-vid on Warmo, then remembered that Cydroids cannot forget! I am taken inside the auto-medic and the replacement of my broken and damaged parts begins.
There is not much to say of an experience like that. The anaesthetic is local so I remain fully conscious. I have been fitted with a receiver in my ear and a special pair of “glasses” allow me to view a screen that is otherwise opaque. I’m treated to acts and verbalized “thoughts” of Warmo. However much I would rather just shut it off and go to sleep I know I have to remain alert and learn this man’s mind. It is indeed that of a demon. There is little here that would resemble even the lowliest mind of a pseudo-human. He does things to his victims that I cannot describe here – there is a limit to my bluntness after all. I force myself to study this creature, not because I need more horror in my already overloaded heart, but because I need this information when I meet him in the arena. Yoba Five has convinced me that the “sting” that will bring a death conviction will succeed and that the rest is inevitable. The Cydroids have linked minds to “re-create” a tiny slice of my future that will bring me face to face with the monster I must conquer and defeat utterly.
In many ways, this monster, this Warmo, is but a ghost that has followed me across the barriers, over time, and waited to re-possess me on Malefactus. He is, indeed, one of those men I remember from my female life on Earth, World War II in Paris, France, when I was tortured and killed at the age of twenty-eight for allegedly belonging to the local underground force that fought the Nazis in the streets of Paris. A living ghost from those SS cement dungeons I still remember as vividly as if it happened yesterday. I cannot, here, go into the details of that particularly crucial Earthian life.
Finally and thankfully, the info-vid terminates and I’m lulled to sleep by some sort of ultra-sound that relaxes every part of my body, so much that every muscle relaxes and I realize I am incontinent – but that too was taken into consideration. Removal of bodily wastes, even of sweat, is part of the treatment. When I leave the auto-medic after the final treatment every pore, every hair, every follicle, will be free of anything that does not naturally belong to it. I will be physically clean. And my mind will be clear and certain of purpose.
While awakening and being returned into hypnotic “sleep” over and over; being automatically rolled out of the A-M for Dr. Echinoza’s inspection and Yoba Five’s gentle touch, feeding and rolling over, I completely lose sense of time. It could have been years, or hours. I feel an unnatural tingling in my hands and instinctively want to scratch but of course cannot. I’m securely bound to the gurney, face down this time. It seems that each time I’m sent back in, if I faced down, now I’m facing up and vice-versa. There is no pain, just total mild discomfort. Ants are crawling up both my arms and up my leg.
Another “out” session. This time I am facing up. Bal is asking questions. I have to focus on his voice – I thought I was dreaming again.
[end blog post #51]