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(Comments are very much welcome. To know someone is actually read inspires me to write more.)

Ajax- Gladiator of Trident

Part 1 - First Kill.

I made my first kill when I was ten years old.

Like any other day, I was harvesting the agri-crops on my parents farmland when the moment that would forever change my life occurred. The young boy with ragged strips of clothing and unkempt hair had charged at me with a crude knife made from sharpened metal. This was many years ago now, but I remember every detail vividly.

I remember him tackling me to the cold wet mud, the recently irrigated ground squelching beneath us as we both wrestled for control over the weapon. I remember him crying and sobbing as he spluttered out the words, “I’m sorry! We need the tokens!”, “Forgive me, my sister needs medicine!” as I held on to his arm that held the makeshift dagger. I remember the sharp metal cutting across my forearm drawing blood, and I do of course remember reaching out with my spare hand to grab a nearby rock which I used to cave in the boys head.

But what I remember most was standing over the corpse afterwards and realising that in a different time or on a different world, we could have been friends. Tears ran down my face, not from fear or adrenaline, but from the pity and sorrow that I felt for mankind in general. On other worlds, the men and women of the Imperium fought Xeno’s with laser weaponry and air strikes to defend the God-Emperors domain. But here on Trident, men and women, even children killed each other with sticks and stones for the entertainment of the nobility. Each kill would reward us with food, medicine and even weapons, allowing us to live just a little longer.

To this day I still have my token electoo, data-ink that had been needled onto my forearm that would monitor my statistics, such as kills and even my health. Everyone on Trident had this tattoo, in order to receive their rewards from the dispensers that dotted the small planet. Up until that moment where I took a life, me and my family had never had to kill a soul. Ever since we had been captured by space-pirates in the Segmentum Pacificus and sold into slavery, we managed to find a secluded forest area, where we managed to hide and cultivate our own food and survive on our own, hidden in the thick tree’s from the murderers and raider gangs that ran strife over the planet.
But of course, we could only stay hidden for so long.

My name is Ajax, gladiator of Trident, and I want to tell you how I saved my
world.

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The Olympus System had once been a marvel during its economical growth, planets such as Cestus and Sica being some of the biggest fine wine exporters in the whole Segmentum Pacificus. The system had flourished in those years, the neighbouring planets brimming with the wealthy nobility of amasec experts and connoisseur’s. But that was over century ago now, and the ever rising tithes that the Administratum demanded had almost killed the systems economy. But then someone had an idea that saved the nobility, a plan that the Imperiums hierarchy could never catch on to. In a backwater system such as Olympus, where no trouble was ever present, who would ever find out? To the ignorant greedy hands of the Administratum that only cared about coin, they would still believe that the Olympus trade was still flourishing through wines. The only thing that the creator of this idea would have to do, was decide which planet had to be sacrificed.

Lord Castor of Sica’s Golden Winery smiled to himself as he looked down on the planet Trident from his transport viewing port. From this distance, no one would have guessed that the beautiful planet that was a blue sphere with dark green continents was a war zone. At the age of one hundred and forty seven, but looking not a day over 30 due to enhanced youth preserving cosmetics, Lord Castor could remember Trident before its current state. It had been an agri world in order to fuel the surrounding planets wineries with produce, therefore it had held the least nobility. Naturally, it was a prime target to become the systems coliseum. All year round people from this system and tourists from others would wager outrageous sums of coin on their selective fighters. Of course, everyone would fight over who got to sponsor the Trident inhabitant with the most kills, but Castor did not agree with such poor entertainment. He preferred a more hands on approach.
Taking a moment to look away from the stars to gaze at his reflection in the port window, he brushed a jewellery laden hand across his long white hair, whilst involuntarily pouting his thin devilish lips, before reaching into one of the pockets of his deep red coloured robes with gold trimmings and withdrawing a small cosmetic container. The nobleman opened it before delicately applying powder to his sharp angled face and hawkish nose. When footsteps sounded behind him followed by another reflection, he turned to greet his brother with a casual wave, before lightly slapping a hand against his siblings armoured bulk.

‘Bruta my dear brother, we do not touch down on Trident for another two hours, why have you prepared so early?’ Castor asked in his high gothic voice as he stared at his brothers form that was armoured in flak-plates and shoulder guards, with a flak-vest that was sculpted into a muscled abdomen. Unlike Castor, Bruta was a huge man, standing a head taller than his brother and slabbed with cords of muscle and a shaved head. The fact that they were brothers seemed preposterous.

Bruta smile at his much frailer looking brother, revealing missing teeth as he stroked a finger over the trigger guard of the shotgun he held at his side. ‘Just eager is’all.’ he replied in a rough accent. ‘I love hunting season.’ he finished with an idiot grin.

‘Likewise little brother. Likewise.’ Castor said as he went back to staring out into the darkness of space, his lips forming a predatory grin before fixing his gaze on Trident.
 

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First off, welcome to the Heresy (again!), and I'm glad to see a new poster up on the boards.

Overall, I feel that the piece was well thought out and well written.

I particularly enjoyed the first section. There's nothing like child gladiators killing one another to peak the interest of the reader. It is also much (I think) stronger than the second portion, much crisper and with more effective descriptions and imagery.

During the second portion, I think you overdo the descriptions. I know that you are trying to build a picture in the reader's mind's eye as to what the planet looks like, what Castor's physical attributes and clothing are. While I am not saying to remove details like that completely, ask yourself how it contributes to what you are trying to do? I know that this is a major pitfall of mine as well, as I love the little details.

Strong piece, though, and I shall look forward to reading more about Trident.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for reading, and I have taken your advice onboard (especially since others have pointed out the same thing with descriptions). Here is the continuation, and I hope whoever reads this enjoys it. It certainly is fun to think of ideas for Trident.

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Hunted

My parents were killed during one of Tridents yearly hunting seasons, and to this day I am still conflicted over my thoughts and feelings of what took place during that night. Only a few days had passed since I was attacked by the boy on the farm, and the atmosphere was strained to say the least, especially with my mother who had suddenly become distant with me. There are moments when I am alone and bored during warp transit, that I wonder why she changed towards me. Was she frightened that someone had managed to find us? Perhaps she was worried that the boys family or clan members would come looking for him?

Maybe she was scared of me. It always sounds like a rhetorical question when I think of that possibility. I was lucky to at least have my father who did not see me as a murderer, but as a child who was scared. A child on a planet with no future.

We had always been close, my father and I. When the night would shroud Trident in darkness and we could not use the glow globes in fear of being seen, my father would tell me a story.

There is a place, far away from here Ajax. In this place is a golden throne, and upon it sit’s a majestic figure that shines so bright, that we are all bathed in his light. Do not fear the dark my son, for inside you is the heart of man, and he who sits on the golden throne watches over all mankind. We are never truly alone.”
I still have the Imperial Cult pocket book that my father gave to me. It is old and worn out now, the ink smudged and spine decayed, but it stays with me always. It was the last thing my father had given to me before his death.

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The Hunters arrived on Trident during the late evening, under the cover of darkness. Several hundred small transports touched down all over the planet. Passengers were unloadled before rapidly retreating up into the stars where they would wait above orbit until the season was finished. The hunt had begun.

Hunters stalked the families hiding in the humid jungles of the southern continents, whilst others galloped on psyber-steeds in the western plains, chasing down and lasooing their prey with electro-whips before taking their heads to later fashion into servo-skulls for their luxurious homes off world. But of course there was the rare fatality amongst the hunters as they came across armed survivors, or violent raider gangs, especially in the destroyed Hive cities, where no gladiator or hunter was safe. One clan even managed to capture and disarm a troupe of Hunters, before forcing them to kill each other for their own entertainment.

Then there was Castor and Bruta in the great forests to the north.

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Hidden under the thick canopy of the towering tree’s, Lord Castor held the digi-monical to his eye, the night vision device allowing him to see the farmhouse with an illuminated green tint. Like his brother Bruta who was pulling bark from the tree, he was clothed in battle fatigues that clung to his thin body. He took a moment to glance at his brother, who was peeling bark from the tree he was crouched against and he let out a soft sigh of annoyance.

“Patience is a virtue Bruta, please try having some.” he barely whispered, to which his brother responded with a grunt. “You are bloody wasting time you’is. Lets just storm the house, and do’em in quick so we can hunt some real prey, not runty farmers.” he growled.

“Come now Bruta, its just a warm up before the trek south. We may also be able to take some of these crops with us for extra supplies” he replied back, scanning the monocle left and right, taking in the view of the farmyard itself, and the old beaten shack in the centre. Perhaps it had once been one of Tridents original grape farms, when it had been producing materials for wines before being turned into a secluded safe haven. “Ah, there we go. Three targets.” Castor said as he clicked a dial on the small device, showing the heat signatures of the shacks occupants. “Pass me my rifle.” he asked his brother.

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The family of three eat in silence as they sit around the table, the only sounds coming from their mouths as they gorge on the fresh vegetables underneath the dim light of an overhead candle. Clothed in dirty robes they enjoy their meal, completely oblivious to the men outside. The child scratches at his short dark hair, eating with his mud stained hands whilst his father motions for him to get his elbows off the table. Then the silence is broken.

There is a large pop from outside, as something pierces through the wooden wall of the shack. It enters the mother from behind, piercing through her spine before blowing her ribcage outwards. It is a quick but messy death, red viscera painting the room as well as her family.

Feeling a wet sensation on his face, the child wipes a hand across his cheek and inspects it. When he sees the crimson fluid coating his hand, he opens his mouth and screams with sheer terror, the realisation of what just happened finally hitting him. Barely seconds pass, but it feels like forever as the child sees his grief-struck father rise from his chair in slow motion. He is shouting at the child, his eyes wide with panic as more pops are heard, louder this time. Finally, the boy hears his fathers screams.

“Run Ajax! Run!”
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Heavy Rain

I ran as fast my legs could take me.


My families home was literally shredded by the hail of fire power that rained against it, splitting wood and ripping my parents apart as I leaped for the door. I remember the fear when I took a moment to look over my shoulder, and seeing my father mortally wounded. Over the span of my life on Trident and a career that has taken me over many stars and battlefields, I've never witnessed a death more horrible than his.


Even though it was just a glance, I caught every detail. My father had landed awkwardly on the table, slumped over on his back and peppered with small buckshot holes from a shotgun. But the majority of the wounds was from the various sized wooden splinters and corrugated metal that had lodged into his chest and stomach, penetrating his lungs and other vital organs. Even over the thunder of gunfire I could hear his laboured breathing, each gasp of air causing him excruciating pain. I ran out of the house before I could see him truly die and I can only hope that it didn’t take him too long to do so.


How I managed to escape such carnage I do not know, perhaps I was being watched over by a much higher being that night. I escaped from the farmhouse and instantly saw my attackers who were still firing at the house, their faces lit up by muzzle fire. Even through eyes blurred with tears I remember seeing the bigger man looking at me and grinning with a toothless mouth which caused me to cry out with terror. But it sure did inspire me to run a hell of a lot faster.

___




Lord Castor felt Bruta thump a heavy hand against his shoulder guard, before turning to face his brother with a look of annoyance. With the gunfire ceased the night had become eerily quiet, but the silence was soon broken as Bruta pointed a thick finger towards a child running off into the distance and bellowed. 'Look over there, little bugger is getting away!'.


'A runner.' Castor stated simply as he stood up from his kneeling position and aimed down the iron sights of his long barrelled slug rifle. But instead of firing he let the boy vanish into the woods, letting a smile creep across his face. 'Now it is truly a hunt my brother. Come, let us seize the opportunity.'.


'Now we’re talking!' Bruta agreed as both men began to jog across the open farmland towards the dark canopy of tree's. Then a single drop of water hit the larger man’s hairless head and he cursed just in time as it began to rain. 'Even more challenging!' Castor declared, before laughing joyously as the rain continued to fall and eventually becoming heavier.

---


It hadn't rained in this part of the continent for months and as if making up for lost time it fell mercilessly, drenching the ground and reducing visibility to only a dozen feet.


Ajax ran through the forest sobbing whilst the rain washed away his tears and soaked through his robes. Every step was a struggle as he sprinted across the water logged ground, slipping in mud and trying to navigate through the dense forage and fallen tree trunks. The young boy had already lost his sandals due to the muds suction and his feet were bare, feeling every twig, stone and thorn dig into his flesh. But he kept running anyway, his body pumping adrenaline and his mind maintaining the primal instinct to survive.


He soon heard voices that were close enough to be sensed over the falling rain, and he whimpered as his peripheral vision caught movement through the haze, darting back and forth like flickering shadows. Ajax put his hand over his mouth to silence his heavy breathing, feeling his heart pounding and threatening to burst out of his chest. The child could not tell where the attackers would come from and his body shook with the realisation that any moment now his life could be snuffed out with a single bullet or blade. He took a couple of steps backwards, unaware of the movement behind him. As if the tree itself were coming to life, something against the trunk of the tree moved with the fluidity of water and reached forward. Ajax was pulled down to the wet ground, a hand covering his mouth before he had time to cry out.


Ajax looked up into the grey eyes of the dark figure, caked in thick swathes of mud which camouflaged him against the tree. He had an auto-gun at his feet that was too caked in the brown substance, and it took Ajax a moment to realise it was not one of his original attackers. With his hand still against Ajax's mouth, the lean figure slowly raised a finger to his lips for silence and Ajax nodded. The figure nodded back at the young boy before releasing his hand from his mouth and picking up his weapon. He leaned back against the tree in a crouching position, once again blending in with his cover whilst raising his weapon towards the sound of boot steps.


A hunter was closing in.
 
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