Not too long ago I went to my own funeral. I didn’t die but I was supposed to. My death was supposed to instigate a solar system wide revolution. Venus would fall and come back stronger as a democratic planet. The first United-Sol council would be formed and the solar system would be united and ready for what was coming.
My friends didn’t let me die and that made the Venusian Revolution burn too hot and too fast. What was going to happen wasn’t pretty but at least I was alive to try and fix it.
Since I died, every time I fall asleep I see the horrors coming for us. It’s not very restful but it makes wakening up a lot easier. I woke up in the hospital, more like medical bay, with a confused doctor and angry owner.
“What the hells’ your game Hal? How did you survive that?” My new owner was a fat Jupiterese man, whose old fashioned suit was bright orange with a green dress shirt and bright pink tie. Even in an angry whisper he was louder than his clothes.
“One of the gifts bestowed on me by Sol was the ability to heal,” I lied. The ability was given to me by my ship’s doctor who swore she’d used the last of the miracle formula on me. In a normal person it gave the eternal appearance of being eighteen. In me it let me heal faster and counteracted the slow painful death of channeling Sol’s power.
“Bullshit. We all know the Church disowned you.”
“The Church did but Sol didn’t.” Disowned was an understatement, they’d faked a funeral to get to me Venus and put me on trial for treason before trying kill me. The Church didn’t have all the blame; the major government authorities had helped.
“What do I do with a Gladiator who can’t fight and looked like he died?” He asked himself or maybe he was trying to speak to Alpha Century, hard to tell with his volume. “I know. I’ll spin it as a curse.” He turned to me and said, “This won’t work twice. Every gladiator will know to finish the job from now on.”
“I have one question; can I get something to eat?”
They took me back to my cell. It was an eight by eight cube with metal bars. There weren’t any pillows or beds, just the cell. They brought me food that was surprisingly good. It was better than I normally ate. As I enjoyed the dessert of fresh watermelon in cubes I felt a mild ache in my head and knew a vision was coming.
Visions aren’t fun. They hurt, they’re vague, and they always give me too much information. This one was no different and before I could pass out or meditate to process the information, a guard came to get me.
“You’re headed to the training yards, false prophet.” I didn’t want to argue with the guard but he wasn’t wrong. I had never believed that Sol was a God but his powers and ability to see the future let me help people. I have always respected Sol but I don’t think he created the universe. I think of him like a wise old man trying to help his grandkids.
The guard brought me straight to a muscled dark skinned man, most likely Mercurian or Venusian, and then left me and him in the large grassy area. The man was in his late sixties, but was well built and was obviously strong.
“So you’re Hal?”
“That’s me and you are?”
“Henrick,” he smiled and held out his hand. He said something as we grasped hands but my brain decided it was time to give me as much information as possible on Henrick. I teetered, tottered, and almost tumbled for good measure, but he kept me from falling.
“Henrick Al-Mer of the house of Mers. Royal instructor to the kings and queens of Mars. You’re supposed to be dead.”
He laughed and shook his head as he said, “Look who’s talking. That was who I was once but there are no more kings and queens of Mars.”
“About that… Do you need a job?” He wasn’t my mission but I had helped smuggle the infant king of Mars away from the Venusian royalty and he could use an instructor on Mars and its customs.
“You’re a strange one, my friend. Here there’s nothing but the arena and death. If we survive a hundred fights or twenty years we are set free, but few fighters survive that long. I don’t expect to see anything but this ship for the rest of my life. I’m here to instruct you, not encourage your wild imagination.”
Shrugging I said, “Ok. Let’s get this part over with. What are you supposed to teach me?”
“Do you have any experience in hand to hand combat?” He asked and I spent the next week grappling, punching, and everything in between.
My next fight came much too quickly and as I waited outside the arena in my waiting area I turned to Henrick and asked, “Why are you the only person I ever see? There are tens of thousands of fighters but I never interact with them. ”
“The owners believe you’re more trouble then you’re worth and have told everyone to kill you.” He paused took a deep breath and said sadly, “and the fighters think you’re cursed. No one wants to talk with you or fight you.”
They must have raised quite the fuss cause when I walked into the arena I was faced by a jeering crowd and six bioengineered wolves.
If you like this story, why not read the rest of the stories in the Sun Speaker Universe ?