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06 December 2012 @ 05:48 am
FIC: The Windmines of Bora Bora - 4/11  
Author: Osiris Brackhaus
Story Title: The Windmines of Bora Bora
Part: 4/11
Rating: R
Configuration: /
Warnings: slavery, despair, previous rape and torture mentioned, off-screen rape, frequent and graphic violence
Word Count: 3.100/36.000
Setting: 'Phoenix Empire' verse, see Phoenix Empire Timeline & Index
Characters: Ivan, Smelly
Summary: The first day of work on Bora Bora. And this is supposed to be the rest of Ivan's life?
Feedback: Yes, please!

As much as he tried to, Ivan could not ignore the woman’s hand slowly tracing upwards along the inside of his thigh. The touch was pleasant, at least for now, but he knew it wouldn’t last. Soon enough, his pleasure would turn into pain, and his pain into her pleasure.

She was Dracon, after all.

Laughter, mixed with soft music and the unmistakable tinkle of ice cubes in tall glasses came into focus. It was a beautiful party, just a small, familiar affair, not even a hundred guests attending. Just the Lord of the Manor, his immediate family and a few close friends enjoying a nice meal together, maybe some drinks, and maybe maim a few helpless slaves. Nothing fancy, after all it was merely an afternoon affair.

Ivan couldn’t remember the reason for the party for the life of him. And it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. He was chained to a massive steel frame by his wrists and ankles, propped up between two tables of the buffet, offered to the guests like just another meatball or piece of truffled Malicorne bacon.

So far, the food seemed to be more interesting than him. Some guests had been amused at seeing a former Dracon being chained up and offered as a party favor, but most had just ignored him.

Only now, a middle-aged woman with severe features and a black, high-collared patent leather outfit seemed to be considering him as next course. Her steel-gray hair was tightly wrangled into a mirthless up-do, and her left eye showed the fine, glowing red lines of a cybernetic reticle over her natural iris.

She kept her eyes on him in an unmoving, reptile stare, while her gloved hand wandered further upwards. Along his leg, past his balls, up the side of his belly, his chest, his throat, until she came to rest at the small indention at his collarbone.

Even though Ivan tried not to look, he knew she was smiling now, just a tiny, cruel twitch in the corner of her mouth, nothing more. Her finger at his collarbone tapped twice, lightly, and instantly Ivan felt something pierce his skin. A needle, maybe, or a fine blade, extending from her glove, nothing big, but surgically precise.

Like every other time, Ivan knew that there would be pain, and like every time, he tried to relax, to allow the pain to wash over him, to offer no resistance. Pain was a signal of his physical body, and there was no reason for his mind to suffer as well. It would be enough to acknowledge the pain as such and move on. Theoretically.

But the noblewoman who was currently using him was an expert – her needle dug deeper, pushed below the muscle that ran up to his neck. Almost gently, she used the needle to twist the muscle aside and reach the nerve that was running underneath.

Suddenly, all of Ivan’s arm was on fire. As if every single fiber was being ripped apart, the pain shrilled through his brain, wrecking the carefully maintained calm in but an instant. For a long moment, he just prayed for the agony to end, to pass over him, but it didn’t happen. Instead, the Dracon woman gave her needle another twist, just a tiny motion, ripping through the nerve with surgical precision.

This time, Ivan couldn’t bear it any longer. His mind dissolved into pain, his conscience drowned by the flood of burning agony, until there was nothing left of him that was human.

And he screamed...


With a jolt, Ivan woke up.

Glaring sunlight all around him, orange and white, rocks pressing into his back, dull aches of exhaustion in every bone of his body. His throat was parched, his eyes crusted with dust, and yet all he could think of was the pain in his right arm that he knew wasn’t real.

He had been dreaming again.

“You okay?” a voice asked, next to him.

Ivan didn’t have to look to identify the speaker, the smell was more than enough.

“Yeah.” he replied, inching away from Smelly as if that would help him get out of the miasma his companion was spreading around himself. “I am fine. Just a bad dream.”

Instead of an answer, Smelly just harrumphed disdainfully. It had turned out that Smelly wasn’t mute, nor retarded, he just didn’t speak much. And of course, his personal hygiene was, well, abysmal. Apart from that, Ivan had to admit Smelly wasn’t the worst possible company.

“Break’s over.” Smelly announced in his soft, slightly mumbling words. “Guards getting restless.”

With a sigh, Ivan nodded and forced himself up onto his feet again. It was his first shift out on the surface, cleaning a windcatcher, and already he had had enough of it. Carefully, he followed Smelly’s hunched figure along the narrow path that led up to the shadowy ledge where he had taken a nap during lunch break.

Ivan had known pretty exactly what to expect when they had shipped him off to Bora Bora. But knowing and experiencing were two different pairs of shoes entirely.

Six hours ago, the storm had calmed down, and instantly the guards had appeared in the main cave, herding out the slaves towards an industrial elevator that brought them to the surface.

That was, which would have brought them to the surface if the exit door hadn’t been blocked by a pile of rocks the size of a man’s head. So the better part of the first hour, they had been busy carrying rocks into the building until they had managed a hole big enough for them to crawl out through. Then they had worked for another two hours to free the entrance sufficiently and carry the first rocks back out again.

Outside, it was double day currently, with both the sun and Yaiciz’ day side full up in the sky. It was mercilessly hot, but the dust and the complete lack of humidity in the air was far worse. With no precipitation at all on Bora Bora, dust never settled down completely - it was just ground finer and finer, until it had the consistency of flour and pooled at the bottom of ravines in deadly, orange puddles.

As soon as they had sufficiently secured the entrance to the elevator, they were led up a narrow canyon to the foot of a wind catcher that loomed above the landscape. A metal funnel easily a hundred feet high, it faced west, in the direction of the storm, its surface polished to a matte gleam, the only thing that wasn’t orange as far as the eye could see. The wind-catcher's giant , half-elliptic maw was protected with equally titanic, vertical ceramsteel bars to keep out the worst of the rocks. The first line of rake bars was wide enough for a man to walk through, with the ceramsteel bars looking more like massive columns than anything else. Behind that was a second line just wide enough for a man to squeeze through, and behind that, the bars were set so closely that one could barely fit a hand between them.

But even the practically impervious ceramsteel was battered and worn, and the force of the storms had wedged in some rocks between the bars. Bigger once at the first line, luckily only a few near the ground, but progressively more and higher up the narrower the rake bars got.

And it had been their job to get those rocks out again. If necessary, there were recesses in the sides of the bars they could use to climb up and loosen the rocks that were too high to reach from the ground, and they were given rebar to use as lever and meshfibre sacks to carry the gravel.

If it hadn’t been so deadly serious, Ivan would have laughed about the lack of equipment. But slave labor was the cheapest thing here on Bora Bora, and the guards cared more about a lost piece of rebar than about a slave’s life.
So they pried the rocks out of the wind-catcher's teeth with their bare hands until their fingers bled, carrying them outside and around the windcatcher so they would fly away to clog another windcatcher with the next storm.

The slaves were well aware that they were only left alive as long as they were productive, and accordingly took great care not to suffer some kind of heavy accident. Even those unlucky bastards who ripped off a nail or broke a finger didn’t complain, they just worked on as well as they could, hoping the guards wouldn’t notice. Either you were working at peak efficiency here, or you were dead and left outside for the storm to take you away.

Luckily, the guards understood that their charges needed food and rest eventually, and so after five hours had dispensed a bowl of water and a NutriBar for each. Fights broke out about the water, especially as some slave still hadn’t realized that water here on Bora Bora was strictly rationed and had used their only bowl to douse themselves from head to toe, hoping to get the fine dust out of their eyes at least for a while.

Unsurprisingly, no fights had broken out about the NutriBars. Made from the cheapest ingredients, those ash-gray bars were perfectly healthy and contained everything a human needed to survive on – except taste, structure or any kind of enjoyment. Submerged in water, they formed a sort of chunky, gray mush after a while, but that was the only culinary option NutriBars offered. They stored indefinitely and were available all over the Empire as emergency rations. Offering them instead of food felt more like an insult than the lack of even the most basic equipment to Ivan.

At least, he thought, he was one of the lucky few who had proper shoes up here. Most slaves were only wearing simple sandals or makeshift substitutes they had cobbled together from whatever junk they could find. Ivan wondered how Smelly managed without any shoes at all, navigating the rocky slopes with little more effort than Ivan with his solid shoes.

But that really wasn’t his problem, now. Lunch break was over, and they still had to clean a lot of rubble before the guards would allow them back inside.

At least, it was getting significantly cooler now that the sun was beginning to sink under the horizon, with Yaiciz above them still reflecting enough light to work by. ‘Half-night’, this combination was called here on Bora Bora, and it was considered one of the luckier ones to work by.

At least, as far as anything here could be called ‘lucky’.

Soon enough, Ivan carried bags of rocks and gravel out of the windcatcher, following a narrow path around the giant dome to unload his cargo down a long slope on the wind-catcher's side. Ironically, this was considered one of the better jobs, as the risk to fall or get hurt by falling rocks was relatively small. And no one had insisted that he’d take on another task, like prying rocks out of the rake bars high above the ground which would have been standard newbie duty. But apparently, his show on the very first day against Madrigal had earned him at least enough notoriety to be placed near the top of the local pecking order.

Every now and then, he noticed Smelly clambering up and down the rake bars, throwing down rocks. His figure looked as if there was a giant dust bunny stuck to the wind-catcher's grill. Not that there had been any doubt that the guy was a few screws short, but Smelly actually seemed to like the dangerous work. Ivan could only shake his head at the folly.

Instead, he allowed some other slave to fill his bag with even more rocks, and used the momentary break to keep track of the handful of guards that kept an eye on them.

Not that the guards would actually have to keep any slave here from running away. The next storm was coming rather sooner than later, and there was no way one could survive out here on the surface. And even if one found a decent shelter, there was no open water anywhere on Bora Bora. Given the temperatures on the surface, scalding at day and freezing at night, no one could possibly survive out here for more than a couple of days. Slaves would rather come back to the elevator, begging to be allowed back in than to run away.

The only way to get out of here was to get off Bora Bora for good, and that meant hitching a ride on one of the shuttles that frequently crossed the oddly dark sky.

But those shuttles were a lifetime away right now.

“Hey you, slave!” one of the guards yelled at Ivan. “Stop dreaming! Move!”

Not in the mood to pick a fight, Ivan sketched a demure bow, put the carrying loop of his bag around his forehead and picked up his pile of rocks.

No, the guards were not here to keep the slaves from running away. They were only here to make sure they worked hard enough.

In measured steps, Ivan trudged along the worn path, cautious not to run into another slave returning with an empty bag. One step in front of the other, not thinking about the exhaustion he felt in his bones nor the frustration at the thought that this would be his occupation for the rest of his life. Just one step in front of the other, survive this hour, survive this day. Soon enough, he’d find a way to get out of this.

Ivan had just reached the ravine at the other side of the windcatcher as he heard swift steps behind him. Much too swift to come from any slave packed with rocks, and much too light for one of the guards.

Immediately alarmed, Ivan threw off his bag and dropped himself to the ground. From the corner of his eye, he could see that he had just barely evaded a heavy blow from a rebar that the slave behind him was wielding. One of Madrigal’s followers.

So that rat had decided to get rid of him, Ivan concluded, and he was too much of a coward to finish the job himself.

The slave behind him took a heartbeat to realize that he had hit nothing but empty air, but was already taking the next swing, aiming at Ivan. Sitting on the ground, Ivan had little options to evade another blow, with the windcatcher almost perpendicularly rising to his left and the ravine falling down steeply right next to him on the other side. So he decided on a direct approach and hurled himself at his attacker, not even for a moment wondering if he could maybe talk the man out of it. No, Ivan was happy about the fight, happy to get to do anything but mindless labor.

So he slammed into the other slave with the ferocity of a starved wolf, almost throwing him off his feet with his momentum. Ivan managed to get hold of the rebar, too, and for a moment, both men tried to wrestle the weapon out of each other’s hands.

But then the attacking slave made the mistake and moved his lower arm too close to Ivan’s face. Not even hesitating for a blink, Ivan bit down, hard, until he felt the skin and muscle tear between his teeth and the metallic taste of blood spread on his tongue.

With a startled yell of pain, the attacker tried to back away from Ivan, but the distraction had been all Ivan had been waiting for. Still biting down relentlessly, he finally managed to wrest the rebar out of the other slave’s hands.

Now Ivan let the poor man go, and hit him smack across the temple with his newly acquired weapon. The other slave didn’t even have a chance to scream.

With a nothing more than a grunt, the slave toppled over and down the ravine, flailing his limps lifeless like those of a rag doll. Ivan watched him with cautiously until he came to rest at the bottom, dusty and broken and already hard to distinguish from all the other stones down there.

As after a few moment, the man didn’t move at all, Ivan shrugged and relaxed. It wasn’t the first man he had killed, and it sure as hell wouldn’t have been the last one. But even if it had been nothing but a stupid slave, all Ivan felt was bitter emptiness. It was such a pointless waste.

What had this combat achieved? Probably nothing. Just another corpse desiccating on the surface of Bora Bora.

Calmly, Ivan wedged the rebar into the belt of his tunic and returned to his bag of rocks. He pulled the bag to where the other slave had fallen over the edge and poured the rocks down the ravine. They clattered and bounced, like every time, covering the corpse with even more dust. Already, the body’s outline was obscured enough to make it hard to distinguish from the distance. Not as if anybody would come looking, anyway.

Taking a deep breath, Ivan pulled himself away from the ravine and returned to the path that led back around the windcatcher. The empty bag in his hands felt heavy and unwieldy.

Would this be the rest of his life? Working mindlessly in this desert, happy about the rare occasion where he could kill someone? Fighting his fellow inmates like rats in a barrel? What a waste. What an unspeakable waste.

Ivan noticed the massive figure blocking the path only in the last moment. It was another of Madrigal’s goons, but this time he had his back turned to Ivan. Apparently, they had been sure one attacker would be more than enough, and had only placed one guard to make sure the other slaves didn’t get involved.

Finally, the slave in front of him noticed Ivan and turned around. The grim smile in the slave’s face wavered for a moment as he recognized Ivan, and then turned into barely veiled horror.

It took Ivan a heartbeat to understand why the other slave was so scared, but then he remembered he hadn’t cleaned his face after he had killed his attacker. Probably, his mouth was still smeared with blood, making him a wild figure indeed together with the dirt and the sweat that streaked his face.

Almost against himself, Ivan felt his face split into a wide grin that revealed his red-stained teeth.

The slave blocking the path turned ashen and stepped aside, his hands raised in a pacifying gesture.

Well, Ivan thought by himself as he passed the shocked slave, at least one good thing will come out of this episode. The next days would turn interesting indeed. And if he didn’t come out on top after all of it, he’d die a swift death at least. Let them think him a crazy killer.

Anything would be better than being buried alive under a ton of hopelessness.

feverfewmole: gargoyle jollyfeverfewmole on December 6th, 2012 09:23 am (UTC)
This is very interesting so far. The whole concept of the windmines is very original, and the description of the setting and situation is vivid in its dreariness and hopelessness.
Ivan is great, I really like a proud, strong, non-submissive slave. And Smelly, of course, is a very intriguing character. He seems to wear his filth, smell and general disguistingness like a shield. Has he once learned that being pretty and appealing is a dangerous thing? It wouldn't surprise me, given the 'delightful' disposition of most nobles in this world...
I hope they are going to find a way out.
Thanks for sharing!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 6th, 2012 07:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for this very kind feedback!

Very good reasoning on the pretty part, it's close but also perfectly wrong. ^^ Smelly for a large part is as dirty as he is because he likes it. Though of course there's more behind that, and we'll find out in, erm, three two more chapters, I think.

Thank you again, and I hope the rest of the story can keep up with what I have posted so far.

Edited at 2012-12-08 07:35 am (UTC)
idolme922: sleeping sweetidolme922 on December 6th, 2012 06:52 pm (UTC)
Nice to see more layers of Ivan peeled away. I see that he still has hope and things about the time when he will be off Bora Bora, so as depressing as this place is, he is clearing now without hope. The last line says it very well.

Very nice, as always! ☺
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 6th, 2012 07:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you, dear! I am afraid that it'll have to get much, much worse before it can change. And then it'll get very weird and messy before it gets better. ^^
triptyxtriptyx on December 6th, 2012 07:29 pm (UTC)
Yikes... I know, who doesnt need a shrink in this universe, but Ivan could make a therapist rich! :S :S :S

Smelly likes his death-defying work? :S :S :S

Gahhh I want things to get better, but I have a feeling it will get worse... :S :S :S
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 6th, 2012 08:02 pm (UTC)
Well, truth to be told, I think Ivan is one of the saner people around this place. I mean, at least he's pretty much aware of his damages. If I look at, like, Lady Ornella, for example, or Wesley... But on the other hand, they wouldn't make a therapist rich, only suicidal.

Yep, Smelly likes that kind of work. And yes, that makes perfect sense. :D

As I said above - it WILL get much worse, then it'll get really weird for a short while and then very, very messy and dangerous before it gets better. But I promise it'll be an exciting story.

Thanks so much for the fb!
triptyxtriptyx on December 7th, 2012 04:15 am (UTC)
Wes is totally sane!!! I have no idea what you are talking about! *Huggles the deadly courtesan* :D
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 7th, 2012 08:51 am (UTC)
I didn't say insane, I said damaged. That IS a difference. Most of the times, anyway. ^^
debbiemethosdeb on December 6th, 2012 11:21 pm (UTC)
loved it ,I like smelly,(will we ever learn his name)he seems like the act crazy so they leave you alone type of guy.it may work for him.Ivan is a killing kick ass guy.he is already thinking about a way out,I like that he hasn't given up.
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 7th, 2012 08:54 am (UTC)
Pretty accurate assessment of both Ivan and Smelly, though you have no idea how kick-ass Ivan's going to become over the course of the story. ^^

Also, it's only two installments from now that we'll learn Smelly's real name. It's going to be much longer for Ivan to really believe him, though. :D

Edited at 2012-12-07 08:55 am (UTC)
BerthaBlueberthablue on December 20th, 2012 04:17 am (UTC)
Ivan does some ass-kicking :D I like him. And Smelly continues to be interesting. So looking forward to seeing where this is going!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 20th, 2012 08:33 am (UTC)
Good that you like kick-ass Ivan - he'll go around and kick much more until this is over, so there's much more for you to like. ^^

Soo looking forward to see what you think of the rest of the story!