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30 November 2012 @ 06:10 am
FIC: The Windmines of Bora Bora - 3/11  
Author: Osiris Brackhaus
Story Title: The Windmines of Bora Bora
Part: 2/11
Rating: R
Configuration: /
Warnings: slavery, despair, previous rape and torture mentioned, off-screen rape, frequent and graphic violence
Word Count: 3.100/30.000
Setting: 'Phoenix Empire' verse, see Phoenix Empire Timeline & Index
Characters: Ivan, Smelly
Summary: Barely arrived on Bora Bora, Ivan starts making enemies. And unwanted friends...
Feedback: Yes, please!

“Out with you! You’ve slept long enough!” the handler yelled at the slaves. “Move, you lazy dogs!”

Sluggishly, Ivan blinked at the sudden light. His head throbbed with the dull ache of thirst and insufficient air, his limbs ached from having dozed off in an awkward position on the ground of his cage.

“I said MOVE!”, the overseer yelled again, cracking a whip. “Next storm’s just around the corner. See if you can survive out here when they’ve closed the gates on you! Now MOVE!”

Forcing himself up onto his feet, Ivan used the bars of his cage to hold himself upright. The main hatch of the cargo hold had been opened, and harsh, glaring sunlight filled the room. All around in the cages, the slaves were getting up, trying to keep the pace their handlers demanded.

Judging by the sunlight, several hours must have passed since the freighter had landed. As there was no way one could cross the landing field during a storm, the crew had just shut down all the engines and just waited for the storm to subside. Soon enough, the temperature in the cargo hold had risen uncomfortably, and the air had gotten thinner and staler by the minute. Even despite the relentless noise of the pebbles raining down on their ship, it hadn’t taken Ivan long to doze off.

Now the main hatch had been opened, and fresh air came flooding inside, tasting of rust and so dry that it felt like breathing sanding paper. Several convicts were coughing violently, but the handlers didn’t seem to care at all. Probably, they wanted to see their cargo unloaded as quickly as possible so they would be back home on Yaiciz in time for dinner.

Soon enough, Ivan’s cage was opened and he and his fellow slaves were let outside. Even though they all tried to be as orderly as possible, their handler distributed a good amount of shoves and whacks, probably just for good measure so they wouldn’t give the impression of any kind of preferential treatment.

Stepping outside the ship, Ivan didn’t have much time to take in his surroundings. The only thing he could see were small snowdrifts of pebbles on the landing field all around them, each one with a long, flat dune of sand and dust trailing. Right ahead of them, a sheer cliff rose from the ground, orange rock like everything else on Bora Bora, with deep horizontal furrows polished to an soft silken sheen by the storms. To his left, he could spot the giant half-dome of a wind funnel rising from between the rocks, but then he was already led into the dark entrance of a tunnel that led further into the cliff ahead of them.

Already few steps into the mountain, the air changed significantly. Still everything tasted of rust, but the air was much more humid, and the temperatures were almost bearable. They were herded down a long corridor roughly hewn into the stone until they came to a stop in some kind of chain link pen in the middle of a larger cavern.

After the constant noise of the flight and the rain of pebbles, it was eerily quiet, the only sound was the buzz from a broken neon light high above them.

Even the chatter and shuffling of the convict slaves subsided after a while. Quietly, they were standing in their pen, some looking around, some stretching, others staring blankly at the rocks. One even produced a dirty set of dice from his pockets and offered a friendly game of knucklebones to those standing around him.

Ivan just tried to stay unnoticed and instead used the time to take a closer look at their guards. The freighter crew had disappeared along the way down the tunnel, and now they were guarded by members of the Bora Bora Mining & Engineering Guild, the BoBo MEGs. Their dark red uniforms were padded with armor and looked like they could withstand quite some abuse. But the dress-code here seemed to be lax; most guards had their jackets open and didn’t wear their helmets. Also, most of them had the nooks and folds of their armor caked with the ubiquitous bright orange dust. Their weapons, though, all heavy shotgun stunners, were uniformly clean and in perfect condition. Not a good sign, in Ivan’s eyes.

Soon, two guards opened a narrow gate on the other side of the slaves’ pen and started herding them out one by one, another guard nearby obviously taking stock on a clipboard. Counting them into groups of a dozen each, they were then herded along even more tunnels, deeper down into the moon’s crust. Four guards accompanied them to the next destination, each one with a stunner gun and a foul mood.

At one point, they reached something like an underground road, a broad tunnel large enough for a proper truck to fit inside. But judging by the guards muttered comments, the actual truck was currently broken down, and they had to make the trek to their destination on foot. The guards weren’t happy about it.

Not that Ivan cared either way. It was nice to be walking for a while, a welcome change after he had been locked up in various cells for the better part of the last month. Though he could really use some water, his throat felt parched.

For about an hour, they walked through the tunnel, passing alternating stretches of brightly lit road and murky darkness where the lights had broken down. Everything down here was barely functioning, but it seemed to be rooted in stinginess rather than neglect. Those parts that were working looked well maintained and not likely to break down anytime soon.

Several times during their walk, Ivan found himself assaulted by a vile, rotting stench. And each time when he looked around, he found the wild-haired tramp from the shuttle walking next to him, his yellow teeth smiling inside the shapeless tangle of hair that covered most of his face. Ivan knew that making friends was an important thing as a slave, but he really could have done with someone just a little less repulsive.

So he tried to put a little distance between himself and Smelly, as he called him silently. But it didn’t work, not for long anyway. So when they were herded through another gate into what seemed like their current destination, Smelly was walking right next to Ivan.

Their destination turned out to be another cave, little surprise at that.

Even before the gate was closed behind them, other slaves emerged from the tunnels that branched off the main cave. Dirty, emaciated figures, all of them dusted orange, all of them eying the newcomers with suspicion and calculation. They moved with the slightly haunched gait of people insecure whether to attack or to run, their eyes darting from left to right like haunted. They looked feral.

For a long moment, the newcomers were eyed with wary suspicion. But soon enough, the mood changed, and one by one, the newly arrived prisoners broke eye contact with the established inmates, slinking away to the sides. They just weren’t up to a fight with these men, not after the flight and the imprisonment and the beatings that preceded them. They rather accepted a place at the bottom end of the pecking order here than risking a broken neck on their first day here.

Still standing where the guards had left him, Ivan felt bitter bile rise in his throat. Yes, it would be smart to avoid a fight. He wasn’t fit, he didn’t have any allies, and he didn’t have any clue what he could possibly gain by picking the first fight that came along. And yet he couldn’t make himself bow down and play meek, not for the life of him.

Instead, he felt his face twist with deep repulsion, with disgust at the whole affair, at all this unnecessary violence, this absurd struggle of humans to assert their superiority over each other. He hated it with a passion, he hated other humans that couldn’t work together even under these circumstances, and he hated that he didn’t see any other way out of this than being even more violent than them.

Already, some of the residents were homing in on Ivan, his stance clearly showing that he was not going to be one of the meek ones who would try and fit into the local power structure. No, Ivan was standing there like some angry young man.

“Hey, you! Newcomer!” one of the residents shouted in Ivan’s direction, his voice as gravelly and raspy as the wind on the surface of Bora Bora. “Get over there. Fresh ones sleep next to the loo.”

Calmly, Ivan watched the man approach him. He was maybe in his thirties, not a young man for Bora Bora. His hair was cropped close to his head, just a fringe of gray and orange stubble around the sides and back of his head. His face had deep lines carved by too much sunlight, and his gray eyes, small and sunburned as they were, had the alertness of a hunter. He moved with confidence born in experience. Not an opponent to be taken lightly.

“What you’re still staring at?” the man asked, his body language clearly signaling a warning. “Get out of my yard!”


The simple rejection was an unmistakable challenge. Within a mere moment, all remaining newcomers had cleared a wide swath around Ivan, cautious not to get involved in any of his antics.

“Maybe I haven’t made my point clear,” the man added with a cold smile. “I am Madrigal, and people here do as I say.”

“And what if not?”

With grim amusement, Ivan noticed Madrigal’s face twitch with anger. Ivan’s voice was well trained, despite everything, and he had made sure that his last challenge had been clearly heard all over the main cave. Neither of them could back down now without losing face.

“If not, they stop being people.” Madrigal replied icily. With nothing more than a small gesture of his hand, he called two more of the resident slaves to his side, each one easily a head taller than Ivan.

But Ivan didn’t really feel threatened. Those men might be heavier and taller than him and have him outnumbered severely. But he knew he had an advantage probably no one here could match. He had been a Dracon pet. For almost a year, he had served his relatives as pastime, as a canvas for their perverted arts. And he had survived. Pain held no threat for him any longer. He could be beaten down, yes. He could be hurt. But he would just stand up again where almost any other human would just pass out.

Ivan felt his face split with a wide, cocky grin that revealed a single canine. In a smooth motion that came to him without thinking, he slid into the basic fighting stance of Ga’Un, the dirty fighting style of the Youh’Kai. Low and wide, it wasn’t necessarily the most effective style against multiple opponents, but it sure was looking damn impressive.

“Really? I’d so like to see you try...”

With another flick of his wrist, Madrigal ordered his two goons to attack, and so they did.

Rushing straight at Ivan, they were almost laughably easy to evade. Ivan waited just long enough so they thought they already had him wedged in between them, then used a low somersault to get out between them and right in front of Madrigal’s feet. Flipping right back on his feet, Ivan tried a high spinning kick at Madrigal’s chin that could have broken the man’s neck. But Madrigal had reflexes like a ferret and managed to pull away, if only by a mere hair’s width.

Ivan’s grin grew even wider. At least, it would be an interesting fight.

Immediately, the two goons were behind him, trying to put him down with kicks and punches. Some of them Ivan could dodge, some others, he couldn’t. But he was tough, he could take more than anyone he knew. Sure, he was half-starved, tired, and groggy from the flight, but still he was a trained fighter where the slaves here on Bora Bora were just wild animals that fought for survival.

Soon, he had the first goon down with a neat uppercut, the massive slave crumbling to the ground like a sack full of rocks.

But the other one was still standing, slowly realizing that this wouldn’t be a simple fight, after all. Madrigal had swiftly realized that this newcomer meant trouble, and instead of joining the fight, he ordered more of his followers to beat down this insolent slave and make it a clear sign to all the other that had arrived with him.

So Ivan was now fighting a whole gang of slaves, each one strong and sinewy from the hard labor, each one mean as a street dog. Some of them had even rebars or other makeshift clubs, but they had not anticipated that they were playing right into Ivan’s hands.

After all, he had primarily been trained to fight with weapons, not with his bare hands.

Grabbing one of the steel bars a ganger was brandishing, Ivan used his opponent’s momentum to slip behind him and wrestle the bar out of his hands, smiling at the pain filled yelp the other slave gave him. Now armed, Ivan swiftly acquired a second club, ferociously grinning at his remaining attackers. A Ga’Un fighting stance looked positively dangerous if armed.

The gangers hesitated, insecure about what to do with an opponent who obviously knew how to fight. But Madrigal had no such qualms.

“Get done with it!” he hissed from the rear. “Snuff him.”

Again, his goons attacked, this time even with something resembling a strategy. While the strongest of them just tried to land hits with their hands or their clubs, the more agile one now tried to make Ivan trip, lose his weapons or hinder him in some way possible.

It was a messy fight. Ivan tried not to outright kill anyone, but couldn’t help bash in the face of an especially clumsy ganger who couldn’t get his head out of the way in time. The others, he just broke their ribs with a well-placed blow, or their toes, which rendered them practically unable to fight. Like a cornered cat, he fought, furious and without hesitation, trying to use the rough terrain as much to his advantage as possible. The gangers, on the other hand, were struggling with the terrain, and it seemed they were slipping on the loose gravel as often as not.

He managed to get all of his opponents down up to the last three. But then, one of them managed to slip a rope around Ivan’s wrist from behind. Together with Madrigal, he yanked Ivan off his feet, and instantly one of the remaining fighters hurled himself on top of him, pushing the air out of his lungs. Instead of the howl of frustration that Ivan wanted to give, only a weird, rasping wail came out of him.

It only took seconds for the remaining gangers to disarm Ivan and pin him to the ground. He was still struggling, but exhausted as he was, he had no chance against them.

“Damn, you son of a whore!” Madrigal spat caustically, now weighing a rebar in his hands himself. “Couldn’t go down without taking a few of my men with you, huh?” While the gangers all looked shaken at the unexpected loss of some of their friends, Madrigal only looked angry and calculating. “Wish I had the time to kill you properly, you bastard. But I am afraid just have to -”

Abruptly, Madrigal stopped. His eyes turned upward until one could see the bloodshot white. Then he crumbled sideways, revealing the hunched shape of Smelly behind him. In his hands, the filthy slave was holding a fist-sized orange rock just like the one he had just thrown and knocked out Madrigal with.

“What the fuck -” one of Madrigal’s fighters shouted, but Ivan didn’t wait for him to finish his sentence. With the slaves holding him down distracted, he managed to wrestle himself out of their hold. With a few swift steps, he rushed past Madrigal, picking up his rebar and giving him a juicy kick in the kidneys in passing.

Instinctively, he placed himself back to back with Smelly, but winced when the unrelenting stench of his only ally hit his nose. If even possible, it seemed he smelled worse up close, and in the short time they were here on Bora Bora had already managed to cover himself neatly in a layer of orange grime.

For a heartbeat, Ivan just stared at Madrigal’s minions over his unconscious body between them. Then, one of them sneaked forward, hands raised defensively, trying to reach Madrigal and pull him out of the fight.

Ivan allowed him to save his master, though he had to allow himself a snarl and a sudden lurch forward that made the other slave jump like a startled animal. But he knew he was too exhausted to win another fight, and he should count himself lucky that he was still alive.

“This isn’t over!” one of the gangers hissed at Ivan, but he couldn’t have cared less.

It was over, at least for now. With their master down, the remaining gangers were not so eager to wade into another fight, most of them already retreating further back into the smaller caves they had their pallets in.

Taking a deep, relieved breath and almost gagging, Ivan remembered that he wasn’t alone.

“Really?” he asked Smelly, sounding harsher than he had intended to. “Why the hell did you help me? I can’t protect you or anything, you realize? I won’t help you if you get in trouble, I have enough problems of my own.”

But his newfound friend and ally just shrugged wordlessly, the filthy hair covering his face crunching in a way that probably meant he was smiling underneath.

“What? You mute or something?”

Instead of an answer, Smelly just pulled up his dirt-crusted tunic to scratch his naked ass, revealing much more in the process than Ivan had ever wanted to see.

“Oh, good heavens!” Ivan exclaimed, trying very hard to forget the unpleasant sight. “For God’s sake, cover yourself.”

This time, Smelly chuckled audibly. Turning around, he gestured Ivan to follow him, apparently having used the time Ivan had been busy getting into trouble to find a spot that was at least half-way safe.

Without any better option, Ivan gave a long sigh, tugged the rebar into the belt of his tunic and followed him deeper into the caves of Bora Bora.

“But you get to sleep downwind, is that clear?”

osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 3rd, 2012 07:40 am (UTC)
Thank you! Ivan is a great fighter, but yes, 'having been tortured' is a remarkable skill to have. His biggest skill, though, he still has to find out about.

Smelly mysterious? Why, he's just a bum from Yaiciz, I really don't see anything special there... ^^