Tuesday, 29 June 2010

A Butlers Tale

It is still dark, I cannot remember much of yesterday my mind is still foggy from the drink and the sounds of the festival. I cant quite remember making it home afterwards so that should explain the hard surface I have awoken on, my ears still thrum with the beat of the big drums. It was a good festival seeing in the new year in style, the whole of planet Byorkholm or Vard VII as is officially known would be waking up with a hammering head but sound in the knowledge that this year would be a good one. It was only my second time at the new year festival as only those who have come of age and proudly wear their tattoos are permitted to spend the night thanking the spirit world for a bountiful year and requesting good harvests in the next.

As my senses gathered I catch sounds of a woman's cry, not of surprise, terror or pain, but a gentle sad sob of someone resigned to the sorrow. I try to peer into the gloom, it is too dark, why is it so dark? even in the middle of the night the stars should show through. No matter I decide to see what the matter is with the woman and attempt to sit up, I am caught short by my wrists which seem to be held in chains. Chains? ohh no what did I do last night? I must be in the cells that would explain the lack of light. I lean back again, and listen into the gloom trying to pick out any voices or a hint to my location.

I slip into dream, I am back in the thick of the festival swirls of colour, people and the flames of torches blur around me as I spin within the crowds around the many bonfires that blaze into the night. I have my eye on a pretty little thing dancing around a far fire, I have been unable to approach her before and tonight when the energy dies down I may make my move, I will be 18 next year and it is about time I chose a wife. Suddenly there are cries of surprise out to the east, people stop dancing the singing falls to silence and eyes rise into the night. Muffled thumps echo across the plain whilst in the dark sky colourful explosions, fireworks spread the celebrations far up into the air, illuminating the countryside with the colour, the crack and boom of them echo off the valley walls.

I am aware of the sound of many people around me, I can hear hundreds of people straining to be quiet. This is wrong, even the city cells cannot contain that many people, and certainly not in one room. The thrumming of drums I had heard before turns out to not be within my own head, but surrounds me, I cannot put direction to it. A sudden flash of light, a vast ceiling is revealed, then disappears, then revealed again as the lighting catches. Blinking in the sudden dawn I catch glimpses of my surroundings, I am lay in the middle of a heavily tanned sea of humanity. Muscled Brutors chained down to the floor as far as the eye can see out to high metallic walls. A door high up in the far wall slides open, three figures step out onto the balcony they are clothed head to foot in dark robes. They are too far for me to hear any sound, yet one carries a datapad or clipboard while another pans some device across the room. As suddenly as they enter the leave and the cavern is once more plunged into darkness.

The sound of fireworks ripple across the sky, the crowd cheering each crack plume of colour, mixing in however is a deep rumble, a star falls from the sky in a streak of orange, then another and another. Screams begin far to the rear of the crowd, I turn in time to see a massive ship, its shields still glowing from the rapid entry into the atmosphere bear down on us and disappear over the lip of the valley followed swiftly after by the crack and whiplash of the punished atmosphere. It starts to rain, large blobs of water splash into the dust, the crowds start to scatter, screaming and running in all directions. The vision of the golden ship only tens of meters above us flashes through my memory. The rain stops as soon as it starts, but it is wrong, the droplets on the ground start to smoke, a mist is forming around my ankles my eyes start to run and so do I.

The room shudders, an echo of metal on metal rolls through the cavern and the thrumming winds down into silence. Large panels in the wall open many hooded figures are silhouetted against the dim yellow light spilling in. They move slowly but deliberately down the ranks of men, leading them out line at a time, before too long I am approached, my chains disconnected from the floor and remaining connected to the man either side of me, we are led from the cavern into the light.
In a small room we stop, our guides leave and the chamber door closes, a metallic voice sounds out in heavily accented but understandable Matari for us to undress, mere seconds later steam erupts from wall floor and ceiling vents, hot to touch but not to scald the water is laden with the tang of a chemical passenger.
Lead out again, redressed in simple but ill fitting garments I feel as though I am on a production line. We are bustled from one room to the next, barrages of tests follow the cleaning, physical exertions, scans and screenings of many types, culminating in an intelligence test. Knowledge of our own world, others in the Republic and then others I had never heard of, questions on belief, my replies of tribal spirituality receiving the obvious scorn of my unseen examiners.
Finally exhausted and confused I am led into a smaller holding room, with only a few tens of other men, and left in silence.

The crowd is now in full panic, not knowing the direction of safety people flee in all directions knocking people down in their haste the mist now burning in eyes throat and leaving a bitter taste in the mouth. Some, the weak, old and youngest are already succumbing falling to their knees clutching at their throats struggling for breath as about them the fit race for distance in blind panic. I hear the bark and snarl of some wild dog, the snap and crackle of some unknown origin I am running, barely able to see I come face to face with a wall of armed men. Cloaks billow in the wind revealing blackened body armour beneath, every third man struggles to hold to heel what I can only describe as a beast from the depths of hell, to call it a dog would be to call the mighty rift valley a crack in the ground. One of them points a gun at me, a flash of blue lightning leaps out and wraps itself around my chest, searing pain floods through me and I collapse to the floor, the world goes dark.

We wait in the room for probably 3 days, I try to talk with some of the other men some of them talk back, others only speak a dialect of basic Matari I have never heard before, they peel off and stay in their own group talking their own gibberish, likewise those I could converse with kept to ourselves. The door slams open suddenly on the third day, the hooded men order us out brandishing short batons that crackle with blue static. Around 200 Matari are assembled into a central hall, hooded guards encircle us and we are sat down, a pair of men, dressed in fine robes walk in, they are not hooded, and the light glinting of their bald polished heads standing at the front they converse quickly and unintelligibly with the hooded guards, nods and quick gestures are exchanged and then a shake of hands. One of the robed men walks out with a guard, the other turns to face the assembled men, "Congratulations, you are now the property of Lord Malakon II," he announces in accented but passable Matari tongue, "I trust you will serve your new Master with the honour and respect due him, consider yourself fortunate as I am told there are far worse fates in this cluster" and with an evil grin he walks out.

After being transported for what seems days on the hard deck of a cheap battered transport, walking out into the marshaling yard of the station seemed to be one of the hardest things I had had to do, I glimpsed through the great windows of the station a small watery world as we were herded back in smaller groups to the dropships. It had been almost 2 weeks since I had felt the sun on my back, that day seemingly years ago, preparing the fires for the great festival, now I walk across a dusty landing strip, chained to the man before and behind me, in the distance there is a small cluster of low buildings, ahead of us much closer is a large warehouse. The snake of humanity wanders across the plain shuffles into the warehouse and once again sits encircled by guards.

A side door opens, robed figures enter, followed by a man who, without needing to tell you you know he is in charge, the way the others watch without watching, keep out of his way and nod their heads before addressing him. I hear a Matari a few rows behind me speak to his neighbour, questioning if this is "That Malakim guy", a guard responds instantly, thrusting his baton against the man nearest him, not the culprit, but the discharge from the rod passes along the chain 20 men twitch and cry out as the shock passes through them.

"Greetings, and welcome to Palas III, I am Lord Malakon the second, this is my installation and you fine young men are here to operate it for me. Now, I am sure you are all eager to get to work but I thought I should come down and see you first, I have need of a few of you who are willing to join my house staff," motioning towards one of his aides, who points out 5 young Matari at the front, 2 men and 3 women, to the guards who unchain and lead them from the room. "Finally one more thing before I stop keeping you from your tasks, today is my daughters birthday the Lord has blessed me with her presance for 14 years now and I have promised her an addition to her personal staff as my gift this year, I hope you all wont mind but I cannot accept volunteers for this role, as she has said she will make the selection personally."

The side door opens again and led by a robed man a young girl rides in on the back of one of the hellish beasts I had seen back at the capture, gripping the animal by its pink collar she casts her gaze across the room her eyes not coming to rest on a single face, she turns back to Malakon "But Daddy they are all sooo ugly, you promised me you would get nice looking ones" her choice of announcing this clear and sharp across the room, in the same accented Matari as Malakon had spoken spoke volumes about her views on our place in the social rank, she saw us as dirt and wanted us to know it. Switching to what I assume was their native tongue Malakim spoke rapidly to the girl obviously attempting to circumnavigate a tantrum, finally it seems he won, and she turned back towards the waiting masses.

Guiding her hell beast down an aisle she cast a scathing glance at the nearest folk who tried to shy away, which is difficult to do when you are shackled to two other people trying to shy away in opposite directions. Eventually she nears me, I return her gaze, probably unwisely but as you can imagine I wasn't exactly in the best of moods to be belittled by a 14 year old, she halts by pulling on the beasts collar, points at me and calls to the nearest guard, "I want this one", he marches over sharply and snaps me out of my chains in broken and barely understandable Matari he says "tough break laddie", my hands still bound are attached to a lead and the girl leads me from the room.

And basically that's how I became head of household for the capsuleer you now know as Miss Incarn8. Of course the first year or so was rough, Mistress was and still is a cruel master but I count myself lucky I avoided the mines. After all, even Reggie, that deamonic hell beast, is a big softie once he gets used to you and its the same with Mistress, a sharp tongue and a wicked sence of humour, but I believe she cares deep down somewhere and for that I will lay my life down for her if she demanded it.

No 43, signing off.

1 comment:

  1. another fantastic tale with a brilliant twist at the end. Loving the writing Miss Evil ;)