Thus I close my thoughts and slip into gentle, dreamless sleep. I have finally found a moment of peace on Malefactus, thanks to these two extremes: the Warmo on one end of the see-saw, I on the other end, and Tiki and all the women of Malefactus as fulcrum in the middle.
End blog post #70
Begin blog post #71
Chapter 31 – The Forever Change
It’s the last week before the great fight of the century as it is being billed and advertised. The fight of the Beasts. There is excitement in the air of Hyrete and it trickles into our compound. I can’t help but notice a change of attitude toward me by most of the men. I am being treated as a human being. The trainers, usually the slobs, the lowliest of male types in the compounds, are asking me questions about my strategy; what I know of Warmo; and about my preference for weapons.
I’m no fool. I know that many of those questions are motivated by greed. They are paid informants for Warmo’s spies. So I spend a great deal of time giving them elaborate dis-information on just about everything. All they can know for sure is what they observe and even in that I have fun playing with their limited understanding. I extol the virtues of this or that weapon, this or that move and demonstrate impossible moves. I tell them, confidentially that I intend to attack Warmo right from the start of the fight to kill him instantly. I hint I may have access to poison for my sole blades. I brag that Warmo is a slug and won’t use the two-handed sword or battle axe because he thinks a woman can’t handle it properly and would make him look weak.
I throw in some tall tales to confuse and amuse them so they lose their concentration. I tell them I have a secret word that I am going to curse him with and he will go blind from light that I will make come out of my green eyes. I watch them look at one-another and frown at my words. This one to one exchange with a female is unexplored domain for them. They simply don’t know how to talk to a female. They only know to give orders and enforce absolute obedience and silence with curses and vicious punishment.
I carry on with my tale. “I will re-grow my scales the night before the fight. I will be twice as tall as I am now and I will make fire come out of my mouth. I will fry Warmo in his armour and eat him. When in the arena my people in the sky boat will fly over and drop poison on him and it will destroy his armour and his weapons. I will make the evil in his heart turn to molten lava and he will burn and scream like a young girl being flogged. I will re-awaken the ghosts of all the people he has tortured in his dungeons and they will come by and each take a piece of his poisonous flesh and eat it in front of his eyes…”
They laugh but it isn’t heartfelt. There is a hollowness to their merriment. I think they suspect that in part I have certain powers they have yet to see. And they fear I may know about their prying into my secrets to sell to Warmo. They fear that if I defeat him I may come after them. This is a new and terrifying concept for these men. Never before have they considered the possibility that a woman would not automatically fear men or be subservient. Well, in a very real sense, I do have ‘powers’ they know nothing about. I have bionic parts and I intend to make full and free use of them in this encounter.
I have been offered a second and newly arrived trainee if I want one. I accept the gift and give her to an older woman who has been alone for two months since her mate was killed. I am being given better food and beginning to put a little fat on my rib cage. My hair has been attended to by one of the sex-slave trainee who, according to her story, is not here for any punishment incurred but simply because she brought her owners a higher price as a fighter than a sex-slave. My hair looks passably good. Not the girl’s fault, she is an impeccable hairdresser, but my hair is long past hope. It is stiff and greying. So she cut it quite short and I’ve adjusted my various helmets to match. I leave nothing to chance or to the last day.
I’ve been down to the forge many times, discussing weapons with the old pirate. I’ve openly made love to him too, offering myself to him freely just to prove to them that an older woman can be very erotic and desirable. He was convinced and I know he has done everything in his power to provide me with the best grade of steel for my blades. All the blades have been re-forged and extensively tested. There won’t be any flaws in my weapons.
They have improved the sandals and as a precaution have designed a sand-proof mechanism that not only pushes the blade out and locks it, but that allows me to manually remove the blade from the sandal and use it as a knife in close combat. They have also added another blade at the back of the sole, shorter but broader and deadly. That one could be my last resort weapon. I won’t use it in training but already I know exactly what use I’ll make of it, if given the chance.
When I mention the name of Warmo in the forge, most of the men spit on the floor. And they have put all the money they could muster on me to win. Well, I take that as being at least as good as a dozen roses and a “good luck” card! I don’t feel like a fighter going into the arena to fight to the death. Rather I feel like an actress going to receive an award for best role. I’m careful to keep my mind in that light and shallow place until this fight is over. I’m a fighter! I’m not a spiritual being, not a philosopher, not a logician, not an avatar. I’m a fighting machine with a purpose: to kill its opponent. I’m riding high, higher than at any other time in my years on Malefactus. And I intend to remain in this space, whatever happens in the meantime.
Since I received my implants I haven’t used the stim but I know it’s still available. I use Tiki to speak to the Cydroid in the kitchens and between them they manage to smuggle some to me. Tiki has never heard of this concoction but the sex-slave who did my hair somehow finds out I have some. She begs and begs me to share it with her. An addict! So she lied about the reason she was demoted to fighter. Instead of killing her outright they sold her for what money the now worthless creature could bring them.
I warn her this is a fighter training place and I can have her flogged to death if she importunes me this way. I lie to her and explain it’s false stim. Just an energy cube that looks like stim but is made from fruit gel. She lifts her nose and smells in an animal sort of way and I almost expect her to snort loudly. Matter-of-fact and coarsely she says in an ugly low voice full of hate, “Fuck you lying bitch. You have stim, you share.”
Well, that cannot be allowed to pass, nor can I report her to the handlers or she will spill the beans, start an all-out investigation and search for other possible illegal substances in our sleeping compounds. The results could be disastrous for our simple lifestyle and our shaky but deep relationships. Plus the extra work of forking all the straw out of the cages for inspection or burning in the yard, then the possibility for all of us to being left to sleep naked on the paving stones without straw for who knows how long until the point is made.
I make Tiki return the stim cube I’d hidden in my hair to the Cydroid and silently enroll some fighters to deal with the new slave. She is taken to the wash troughs and I call to the overseer that I suspect she has lice and must be given a thorough washing. He laughs and says, “Give it to her before we deal with her ourselves, that krosspeeg.”
She gets a thorough washing, complete with soap in the mouth and other very unpleasant treatments involving bodily cavities. Then a quiet but deadly talking-to that sobers her up. When she realizes no one in the compound will side with her and all agree she is a liar and trouble maker, she remains silent and paler even than her normally white skin would show. She is taken to the flogging pole and a full description of our last witnessed death flogging is given to her by some of the fighters. That brings her down a few more notches.
Finally the meanest looking, most scarred fighter in the compound takes her by the neck and shaking her says, “Me they call Girl-Flesh Eater. Hate sex-slave pampered little fucking teela krosspeeg like you. Soon day come I permitted to eat one again. I eat you, yessss! Two, maybe three day from today. Tender, juicy. I like. I make kitchen prepare you good, medium rare, make me strong to fight. Maybe you good for something then, uh-uh!” She extends her hand and squeezes the girl’s face until her eyes are almost popping out, probably more from raw fear than the squeeze. I swear that grip would have frightened even me, if temporarily.
That was the first and last addict I encountered in the compounds. She lost her appetite for stim, at least around me. I could have left my cube lying in her cage and she would not have touched it. Maybe it was cruel; maybe it wasn’t funny but Tiki and I and a few other women laughed much over this unusual episode. That it should happen at a time when I was flying so high was also of note. The air of celebration continued until the day of the fight.
End blog post #71