I don’t have to explain the Inquisition or Warmo to her. She gets as much as I could tell her from her contacts which she has naturally developed as she works the kitchens, the yard and the cages. By now everybody knows her and she has had many offers to leave me and share younger flesh in other cages. She could do it, if she wanted it badly enough. Yes, she belongs to me, in a sense, but she could “trade” herself for another, say an older trainee who wanted to ingratiate herself to me for special training. This old human trading for advantage, for favours, is found everywhere except in the most advanced and evolved worlds touching the top edge of ISSA consciousness. No matter where I’ve encountered this process, I’ve always found it particularly repugnant.
End blog post #65
Begin blog post #66
To this moment Tiki chooses to remain in my care. Undoubtedly there are many advantages for her in this choice, not the least of which is added protection. Especially now. I could literally commit a crime and I would not be molested by the men – at least not until after the fight. Tiki is no fool. Plus I think she likes me, even loves me, in her own way. We speak of the fight.
“Tiki afraid for me?” I ask her.
“Ah yes. Little bit afraid. That man is monster. Bad man. He hurt you, I hate him. If he kill you, when I become fighter, I kill him. Better for him you kill him, yes. Better.” So much fire in her low throaty voice; so much strength. It is I who feels strengthened by her devotion.
“I kill him, Tiki. I have to, not for me, for all of us. I have to make my weapon talk to him and tell him he be very wrong about women. I show him power of woman. Then you know I true. You know I can give that power to Tiki, my full power, before I too must die in arena. You understand?”
Those round pools of luminescent black, the sad eyes of the women of Malefactus, bore into mine. There is a trace of tears in them, unusual, for women fighters do not usually shed tears. “Yes.” She whispers and I feel her warm breath on my face as she exhales heavily. “I lose you soon. Always they kill old fighters. Like young ones better; like to look at us. Like to hurt us and make fun of clumsiness. I learn from you, Anti. I not be clumsy. I be old first time I fight and kill man.” She means she will be fully trained and experienced and will fight like an old professional fighter. She means she will dedicate her training life to being the best. Now it is coming from her. Now I can begin her training in earnest. Demonstrate her spirit and abilities to interest a powerful and rich owner who will keep her for the profits she will bring him. One who will provide her that little extra edge of protection every woman desperately longs for and needs here. That I must do before I ‘leave’ Malefactus.
During the hiatus before the main event I’m given much liberty and all the training time I desire. I have full access to the forge and I make sure I have all the possible weapons ready. I do not know what Warmo will choose. They say in his fighting days as a drook he was an adept at all of them plus he handled others we have never seen here in the compound. I know he is considered a criminal now but he has deep roots in this place. Connections. Plus much money is riding on this. This fight could be fixed, or a serious attempt could be made to fix it.
Could he, somehow, find a way to by-pass the rule of equal weapon and armour? Could he show up with a new type of weapon I’ve never seen, or trained on and be allowed to use it? I try to imagine what sort of hand to hand combat weapon he could design not in our arsenal. Perhaps a poisoned throwing knife hidden in a sleeve of his armour? That is the kind of trick I must expect. Tiny balls with poisoned spikes that can be thrown at bare flesh and do their work in minutes? Those razor sharp star weapons used by Ninja warriors on Old Earth? Does he know of those? I suspect he does.
Of course there is a rule against throwing sand or any other material into another’s face but in this fight everything will be reduced to technicalities. There will be lawyers on both sides arguing the fine points of their idiotic arena fighting laws for months, perhaps even years, if any infraction is committed, or deemed to have been committed. All I know is, I have to remain within the letter of the law if I hope to demonstrate our power on that day. For us to make any impression; to leave any kind of message that can be heard, we cannot resort to subterfuge or cheating, even if we could get away with it.
And I cannot delay it any longer. I must speed up my Teaching.
End blog post #66