Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Search...

Thirty Five Days Ago.... Khanid Space - Keberz System

The two women walked away from the building behind them that was burning fiercly.  The younger of the two, clad in a smart business suit in the Serpentis style had the soft features of a Sebiestor, but the imperious sneer of an Amarrian. Stopping by the gravcar she turned at looked, watching as those nearby came to see what was happening and to gawk at the fire.
"I know what you are going to say, Mother. But insults like that just cannot be ignored."

The older woman removed the black mask that covered her face and shook her hair. Her tight fitting combat suit hidden behind an ankle length duster, a wide brimmed hat in her other hand. Though they looked Gallente, her ancestory was something different, older and more sinister. Doctor Kim Leannder looked on and sighed, replacing her hat.
"I just wish you didn't have to burn the house down. And I wish you would be more submissive to them, we have limited time left until you have to give your say to the divorce. We must find you a suitable husband."
"I know," she spat, "I just wish they didn't have to be such assholes."

 Thirty Three Days Ago, Gallente Space - Auvergne System

Two guards, clad in powered armour and followed by a third, heavily armed dragged a man between them. He was stuggling feebly, his hands bound, a hood over his head. They walked down a tunnel in plain sight of everyone. On either side of them, down the marble clad pavements that led away from the Palace of Expected Merchandise and the great open bazaar people in their hundreds had congregated to explore the stalls and enjoy their lives. The tunnel however, though the guards and the prisoner, had he been able to look up, could see out onto the throng, but they could not see back in. Some things they liked to be private.

Behind them the weekly slave auctions were well underway. The prisoner between them had been bought, his fate sealed. His general physique and what little clothing he wore indicated he was a solider, possibly Khanid. But to the guards he was just so much meat. One of many who had gone down this route. Such, they mused, was the fate of those who dared stand against the Federation.

At a junction in the tunnel they handed him over to a woman clad in a heavy robe and bundled him into the back of the speeder she was standing beside. The prisoner was in no state to try and resist as he was chained to the seat. Through his hood he could only hear the sound of the bazaar fade away, the sounds of other traffic and eventually the sounds of the sea before he was uncermoniously dragged out of the speeder and literally, pushed into a hole. He fell and hit hard, blacking out.

He awoke slowly, groggily to a damp cloth wiping his face. Instinct lashed out his arm and his hand clasped around a throat. His eyes opened and he looked into the shadows of a hooded cloak. The woman he held calmly dropped the cloth and reached up and clutched his wrist, squeezing a pressure point. He gasped in pain and let go.
"Where am I? Speak woman!"
She coughed gently and rubbed her throat and puts the cloth back in the bowl beside her.
"You are in.... a training facility. Or maybe, a gateway to your freedom."
"You... speak Khanid. But with a trace of slave. Is that what you are? Slave?"
"Like you, you mean? In a way. And yes, I speak Khanid."
"Hah! I am no slave. I will find a way out of here and come back with my troops and wipe this place clean of the taint."
She laughed softly and handed him the cloth. He took it and after looking in a mirror she held up for him with a smile he started to sigh and clean himself of the prison filth. Around them both he could see the huddled shapes of other people. Slaves, he sneered, this is not my place. But he could see the looks in their eyes. They recognised him, or if not who he was, then definately what he was. So did she, he thought.

"Why do you show me such friendship?"
"Because I show everyone the same mercy who comes here. Be they slave or holder, soldier or criminal. All deserve to face their fate clean and proud."
"My fate is not to be determined within these walls. I am Lientus of the House Rixhes, my fate is my own, in the hands of...."
He paused for a moment, his face hardening and screaming, leaping to his feet and grasping the bars on the cell wall infront of him. Those sitting around the walls just watched, shaking their heads as he ranted. The cloaked woman backed away for a moment and seemed to whisper something into the darkness. Moments later three heavily armed guards kicked open a door to the cells and walked in. For a moment, Lientus was silent then he spat through the bars at them.
"Open these doors! If you are man enough to face me. Even with your weapons I can take all three of you."
One of the guards looked on impassively as he raised a stun gun and fired it. As Lientus slumped to the floor they looked to the woman in the hooded cloak and she just nodded.

Lientus awoke as the bucket of water splashed into his face and spluttered as she pulled himself up. Looking around he saw himself in a circular arena. The sandy floor stretching all around him, walls raising up into a dome. All around were screens, they were slowly filling with faces. Standing and stretching to shrug off the stun he looked around. The woman was there, holding a bucket. Beyond her there were three men, three brutor by the looks of them. All were armed.
"What is this place, woman?"
"I told you. A place of training. Where people fight and die for money, and glory. And for your Mistress, she who now owns you."
"No one owns me, I am my own man."
"And yet you are here."
She said it simply and he looked over to her. Still she was hooded and he snarled and walked over to her and ripped the hood from her. Under the hood he saw a sebiestor woman, with red hair and look of quite contemplation.
"You quite happy now, Lientus?"
"I dont know you."
A voice boomed out over the arena, a loud voice in the Gallente language, female and alluring. He listened, but did not like what he heard.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Holders and Slavers, Politicians and Pirates. Welcome to the Games of the Heavenly Flower! For your amusement I give you first a taste of what we can offer you before the warriors come in and fight for you. Here, a slave, once of the Khanid Army, sold as a slave and now here... meerly to get the crowd going. Against him, three more slaves, each guaranteed his freedom if he survives. And, maybe with your blessing, they will. I give you, the Khanid Tiger version the barbarian wolves!

"At least tell me your name, if I am to die, I would die with the name of someone who showed me kindness on my lips."
"You may call me... Orchid."
"Well Orchid. I have no weapon."
She handed him the bucket and smiled, backing away to the wall.
"Fight and live, my Tiger."
Lientus held the bucket in his left hand and breathed deeply, his booted feet apart, a chill breeze ruffling his hair and his shirt tight over his muscled chest. Turning his head to the right he watched the three as a gong sounded. A smile crept over his lips.

Two of the slaves hefted the swords they held and charged howling like the wolves they had been described as. The third hefted his spear and watched. Lientus waited until they were almost upon him before he struck, bringing the bucket around and throwing it at the slave on the left. It struck him directly in the face, sending him flying backwards. The second slave making the mistake to turn his head and look, giving him the entrance he needed, running and leaping towards him, his foot slamming into his arm, knocking the sword out of it and onto the floor, where his momentum rolled over it. Standing up he swung the blade in a circle in his hand and walked around the two brutors. With two screams his sword slashed out twice, two head rolling on the arena floor. Turning he looked at the third and started to walk towards him.

No, Orchid thought, that's not walking. That's stalking. Yes, this one is a Tiger. And just was her Mistress needed. She looked around the screens and found her Mistresses image and smiled, bowing towards it.

Several regions away Carmilla and Kim watched the fight again. They both looked at each other and nodded. Carm clicked her fingers and a geisha slipped up beside her and handed over a datatablet.
"What do we know of this man?"
"From Orchids message his name is Lientus of the House Rixhes."
"That House sounds familiar....."
"That's because it was in the news recently. His wife died under mysterious circumstances and he was lost fighting  against Gallente special forces who were infiltrating various planets according to this."
"Set course for the Auvergne system. We need to meet this... Lientus. And pull up all information on his wife, that needs to be looked into."

Seventeen Ago, Gallente Space - Auvergne System

From the cells Lientus listened. He could tell from the sounds when the fights started and finished, when the guards were coming. Quietly he spoke with the other prisoners, tried to glean all the information he could. When he had the time, he spoke to Orchid. Twenty times taken out to fight. Twenty! Like a slave, he mused. The bitter irony of the times he sat and watched his own slaves fight and die for his pleasure. Now he fought for others. None he faced could stand agaisnt him but it still fired his hatred for those who had bought him and used him as chattle.

"Tiger, your owner summons you. Move."
He looked up at the guards and scowled, but stood up. It wasn't time for any of the scheduled fighting that he was aware of. Most of the others who were with him the first day he arrived had gone, most to the fighting, others.... never to return. The only person who seemed to come and go as she pleased was Orchid. He could tell she was a slave, the demeanour, the attitude... just everything about her screamed it. But she had a power here. Flexing he walked towards the gate and waited while they opened it.

As they walked down a well lit corridor Orchid appeared from nowhere, walking beside him. He had been so intently looking at everything for a hint of a chance to escape that he hadn't heard her.
"Good afternoon Tiger. How are you?"
"As well as a prisoner can be, considering. Have you been watching my matches?"
"Yes. There is room for improvement, but you are good. I hope you will behave today, this is most important for you."
He stopped walking and the guard behind him bounced off of him and cursed. The others turned and leveled their weapons. Lientus looked at her with a frown.
"Behave? By the sacred teats Orchid, I was thrown in prison, forced to fight for my life and these damn guards keep me under such a close watch they could tell you what I didn't digest for breakfast! Why should I care what the hell is beyond that door?"
Orchid simply smiled and looped her arm through his and pulled him towards the door, he followed grudgingly.
"Aren't you afraid I might take you hostage?"
"No. You are an honorable man."
"In a dishonorable place.... maybe it will change me."
"No. Not you," she smiled.

The double doors were opened into the main audience chamber and the Tiger and the Orchid walked in and stopped before a raised dias. Orchid bowed, Tiger stood defiant. Three women were standing on the dias, two matari and a gallente that he could see. The tall matari, a sebiestor it seemed, but one unlike any he had seen before. He looked between Orchid and the woman, wondering if there was a family link there. Both were similar build and shape, with striking red hair and looks that quite frankly stirred him.

Clad in a long formal black business suit she walked towards him, her heels clicking in the silence and stood before him. Slowly she walked around him and stopped infront of him.
"What happened to your wife, Lientus of Rixhes?"
Of all the questions he was expecting, this was not one and he was unprepared for it.
"What? Do you seek to wound me further than the slaves in the arena or the guards tender mercies?"
"Your wife, Analiva Rixhes, was murdered during an apparent break in of your estate. Several slaves were murdered during the break in and also your datafiles were ransacked. Shortly after sums of money were seen to me covertly moved from various accounts. Looks to me like you are being blackmailed, neh?"
"I am saying nothing."
He folded his arms and looked directly ahead. How had she known? What did she know? Who was this woman?
"I dare say a lot of questions are running through your mind now, Tiger. Tiger, I like that. My girl says it is the name you have been given during your time here. Well Tiger, you are being blackmailed, or at least. You were."
She snapped her fingers and four guards appeared out of the shadows pulling two bound and gagged figures. He looked at them, recognising one of them and looking between them.
"I take it you know your previous superior officer and his wife? We found all the evidence we needed, silly of her to keep your wifes gems and necklaces, but stupidity is breed in some people."
"That can't be possible. He was my.... I mean...."
"He wanted your money and estates. Your wife caught them and she paid the price. Orchid, take them into the arena and get them ready. Five minutes I think?"

Lientus looked on with growing confusion and anger.
"Why are you doing this? What do you want?"
"You. I want you."
"Fuck off!"
"Not the language I expect to hear from the Holder Minor of the House of Rixhes. I'm going to give you a datatablet with the confession of those two on it and a sword. When you come back we can talk about your future."
He took the datatablet she held out, noticing the Serpentis sigil and opened the file and started listening to the confession and checking the attached files. When he looked up she was holding a sword out to him. He took it and walked towards the arena. It took them both a long time to die.

An hour later Lientus was escorted back into the audience chamber and over to the woman and Orchid. He dropped the sword on the floor before them and crossed his arms.
"Okay. I'm listening. What do you want?"
"Like I said before. I want you. As my husband."
"Well, I own you already. I bought your contract from the woman who runs this place, who is actually a close friend of mine. This place, is actually mine, but I dont have time to run everything. It was a stroke of luck that you were found when you were. For me and you."
"Well, you could have been sold to someone who just wanted a slave for the mines or dosed you up with vitoc crap. What I want is infinitely more enjoyable."
He looked at her, as a man looks at a woman and nodded his head.
"I want my freedom...."
"Granted the moment we are married."
"My house will be the primus."
"No, I need my house to be the primus. Any children we have will be primus of your house."
"Your house? You are Sebiestor, what house could you have."
"I am the daughter of Marika Jobias of the House of Jobias."
"No. That house has long since been...."
"I have all the backing I need to resurect my house. All I need is a husband of the Khanid, a Holder Minor and someone.... who quite frankly knows how to handle a woman."
"If you think I will be some submissive husband, you do not know who I am."
"You are here, you are mine and you are a Holder Minor. Yes or no."
"Yes..... though I hope you know what you are getting yourself into."
"I do. Orchid, get him ready I'll meet you both on the ship in ten."
"Hey, wait. If I am to be your husband, dont' I get to know your name?"
"Carmilla. Now hurry darling, we have a busy couple of days ahead of us."
Carm blew her soon to be husband a kiss and walked towards one of the doors.

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