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
Begin blog post #72
The Warmo, now a condemned prisoner, is escorted naked into our compound to choose his weapons. There is much staring and gawking, but no noise as we had been warned the silence rule would be fully and viciously enforced while the Warmo was among us. I could feel the tension and hate among the women. There is not one here who would hesitate for one second to throw herself at him and tear off his balls and finish him off. Well, he does not look cut. He’s not a eunuch so his lack of sexual desire towards his female victims must speak of something else. Homosexual? I could throw that in his face tomorrow. And I’d just love to add that aberration to his public rap sheet! Homosexuals are as common as sand here, but that can never be admitted to – another capital crime. While female fighters and sex-slaves are expected to have same-sex lovers, males are prohibited from expressing themselves in similar fashion.
I follow the Warmo’s movements as a hawk watches its prey. What weapons will the rat choose? The staff. That’s good for me. But he does not stop there. He appears to have a special permit to use several weapons in any order he chooses. He picks the long sword and the combination rapier and short sword. Now I have to figure out his game. There is no apparent sense to his choices so he’s worked out a system whereby he can defeat me with these choices. I must logically deduce the reason behind his apparently random and meaningless choice. He is escorted out and I ask permission to consider the weapons just chosen. I watch the faces of the trainers when I make my request. One of them sneers openly at me. Ahah! There is a connection between some information he has given Warmo and the choices. Well, never mind that for the moment. First concentrate in what order a thoroughly trained and professional fighter would use the particular weapons chosen.
First the staff. Its strengths I am familiar with. What are its weaknesses regarding the other weapons? It’s long and thin. A good blow across it with the large sword would easily weaken or even cut it in half. Point one. Warmo intends to switch weapons during the fighting, not during regular drinking breaks. He starts with the staff, forcing me to match him, gets me engaged then switches to the sword and cuts into my weapon, breaking it and leaving me wide open to a thrust. How does he intend to switch weapons so fast?
He cannot leave the sword just lying in the sand – a menace to his feet and I could grab it. A scabbard! He will be wearing the long sword on his back. That has never been done in the arena but this is no ordinary fight. We are billed as Beasts, therefore rules can be bent or broken to accommodate the fare. Judges can be bought. I have to remind myself of the awesome load of gambling money riding on this contest.
Allowing for my intuition being correct, what about the rapier and dagger? To carry poison. Despite my invented stories I have no access to poison and besides I wouldn’t use it. I intend to bring this creature down piecemeal, literally cutting him down to size. I am the cat, he is the rat. He may bite but I will get him in the end. He is just one rat, not a pack. This rat will use the long sword to tire me out if he hasn’t dispatched me with his switch already. At the first opportunity he will trade for the rapier and dagger to make an opening for the poisoned tip to come in contact with my skin.
What kind of poison? Certainly the deadliest known. It will be the concoction they call yalney, a deadly yellowish liquid stored in glass containers complete with glass stoppers. Nothing else will hold it. If you put it on your blade it eats through it in about an hour on average. They demonstrated this to me at the forge and I’ve never forgotten what it did to our beautiful steel. It bubbles lightly and gels quickly on steel and you can pour it lightly over a surface that will contact flesh.
Within fifteen minutes of contact anywhere on bare human skin the body begins to close on itself. It impacts the nervous system, relaxing the muscles, first in the extremities then working its way to the heart. The victim remains fully conscious for hours and finally goes into convulsions and spasms then death. Very painful. But imagine the pleasure the Warmo would derive from thus disabling me then proceeding to take me apart while I remain conscious? He’d cut open my wrists and ankles and expose the bionic circuits to the judges. He’d be vindicated…
Who will put the poison on his blade? It would have to be put on while we are fighting, not before or it will have eaten through by then. One of the floor judges or an assistant. While we are on a drinking break. Of course, simple. After the break, he casually switches weapons as if nothing was out of the ordinary.
I’m in a bit of a sobered state of mind now. I realize I have my work cut out for myself in that fight. Time to assess my strengths – I know my weaknesses and have dealt with that, perhaps a bit too much. You can easily psych yourself out that way too.
Analysis of strengths.
I’m at least as proficient in the use of weapons as is the Warmo. I’m younger and faster. I have bionic implants. I have more recent training and most likely I possess superior weapons, simply because the “new and improved” ones were not in the weapons lock-up cases when Warmo made his choices. My “special house blend” including all armour and my ‘magic’ sandals, is now being prepared and packed for the arena and will be safely stashed into the weapons lock-up shortly.
Tiki was sent down to the forge to let the smiths know of Warmo’s choices. I have already advised the chief smith I want him to personally bring up the weapons and armour, not to entrust them to his young charges. I fear the jealousy and hatred of that young apprentice may have spread to the others and could result in deliberate sabotage or “accidental loss” of my weapons package. Any such misadventure would certainly result in my death. Who knows how long Warmo’s arm still reaches throughout the keep of Hyrete? Who can know who’s been bought?
So much is riding on this match to the death. So much, for the women of the keep, especially for Tiki; for my friend the doctor and his Cydroids. At this moment I hold their fate in my hands.
I know that according to Elbran law, if the male “criminal” kills his female fighter, he is exonerated of all charges against him. If this were to happen, Warmo would immediately be given his position and power back. He would re-open his torture dungeons and sweep through the women’s compound to grab any of them who ever fought with me, were trained by me, slept with me or in some way befriended me. Such is the pattern of psychotic hate. I remember it so well from a life on Old Earth in C-20. They called themselves Nazis, and the worst ones (called distilled villainy by one of my history professors in a following life) were SS guards. You were guilty by association and torture was automatic if arrested. How many would Warmo claim? How many tortured to death?
No, this will not happen. I have a job to do. My training and my enhancements were all gifts to me exactly for this moment. XBA9 was tortured to death so I would have this opportunity. This is one of those classic turning points in history when one person, one “hero” can make the difference and everything changes, forever.
End blog post #72