The half-dead slave

Text & art: bkdove Proofreader: Iain Dace

Unlucky people do not exist, it all depends on their state of mind. Weak people do not exist, it all depends on the tools in their possession. I was a slave of sector 74, assigned to the 10th wave deployment with the promise of freedom if I contributed to beating the main player in the combat arena. That’s every slave’s prize: stop your target, avoid being killed and you’re free to go. And if you achieve that, stay away from troubles in Vesta City or the troopers will bring you back here. This arena fight is not a complicated task. The only problem is that you’re on foot with only a rifle while your opponent is in a combat car, but apart from this small particular you can count on your squad members, if they manage to stay alive.

I was ready, mentally trained and half brainwashed, with just my legs, my weapon and a black helmet like the ones which only show chin and mouth. I jumped in the deployment truck assigned to stage 11, a hell of flames and metal. The other 5 guys from my squad continued to scream during the short trip. I stared at their desperate faces before the back door slammed on the burned floor. Slaves mostly die in the arena, they are just part of the entertainment, but that was not the case for me, at least not totally. We were lucky our driver was a good one, he avoided a minefield on the left and several chunks of debris in flames. If a driver dies before he can stop the truck and open the deployment door, we slaves are dead too. You know what I mean. The combat area was bigger than I imagined, a former warehouse converted into a fighting arena, very impressive. The audience was screaming, the stage lights were blinding and several rays of light were penetrating a big cloud of grey smoke. Some debris fell from above. I checked if my helmet was properly fastened.

The first thing I saw was a yellow laser shooting through the cloud of smoke and I heard screaming tires. That was our main target, a fully armoured black Viper model, drifting while disappearing again in the same cloud of smoke. We all shot with our rifles, we wanted that promised freedom. We didn’t hit. There was zero cover, our truck was gone. No wrecked car skeletons around. I realized why slaves die so often in the Carsteroids arenas. I also realized you have a few seconds to discharge all your firepower praying for your good aim and especially praying that your opponent does not notice you too soon.

We stayed in formation, we saw again our target on the right, it was busy trying to avoid a couple of explosive barrels. We shot and we hit! The barrels exploded, but the Viper spotted us and quickly turned around. He was on fire and charging us at full speed. We maintained our formation, we screamed and kept shooting straight ahead. The last thing I remember was the metallic bumper breaking my leg, me falling on the ground and the car passing on my arm. The helmet saved my head, but half of my body died. After that battle all our squad achieved freedom, but I am the only one able to tell of it.

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