In the far future, there is only war. A darkness has descended upon humanity throughout the galaxy. Now there is only conflict, pestilence and death. For the average human, each day has become a struggle to survive full of servitude, pain and suffering. Scientific progress has halted and much of what was previously known has been lost.
In the vastness of the corrupted, militaristic Human Empire lies a world called Uisneach. It orbits a yellow star and has been inhabited by humans for many thousands of years. It’s atmosphere is toxic. Nobody remembers if it was always that way or if it was the humans who caused it. The world contains two hive cities, each containing many billions of people. One of them is called Xenos. It is the size of a small continent and extends upwards in layers towards the sky.
Each layer is filled by a different economic class. Near the bottom layers is the janitorial sector. To go lower is to go where there is no law, no order. There is no return. To go higher is to live a few years longer and possibly not have to watch your children die. Many fall down the rungs of layers but few rise.
The janitorial layer contains many of hundreds of millions of people. It has its own culture, heritage and language. Many here, scoff at the idea that they are part of some galactic empire or even that they exist on something called a planet that orbits a star. Light from their sun hasn’t reached this deep in a very long time.
One of their favorite customs is “Wheelchair Wars”. It’s the one thing that this layer has that makes it renowned throughout the rest of the city and solar system. Nobody is sure why or how it has started, but now events are held in large stadia and broadcast throughout the world.
There are ten tribes, each one covering a large area. They select their best players, who must have a physical disability requiring wheelchair use for competition. They are given modified wheelchairs, now more like tanks, with which to fight to the death. Very few are expected to survive. Any that do and the eventual winner can look forward to serving as dreadnought commanders in the Imperial Army.
Timothy tried to move his body over to the other side in the bed. But it was of little use, he just couldn’t get the thrust to do it. He would just have to wait for his Dad to return. Sometimes he wished that he was born like everybody else but then he would remind himself that too would take its own toll.
His father would often remind him that he was blessed to have his disability, and that it’s severity was a good thing. The malformations and contractures were not something that could be acquired by an able bodied person like a missing arm or leg. He was beyond suspicion. That it could open a whole new existence for him and the family. That was when a family still existed. He used to have a mother and two older brothers. His first brother died at the age of seven in an industrial accident. It must have been grizzly as nobody ever told him what happened. A few years later, the other brother died. His lungs were filled with a toxic mucus.
Then, not long before the present his mother had died. The poisonous air had gotten to her too. Timothy thought his father was going to die from a broken heart but stoically he has carried on. Timothy was now just thirteen orbits old and had just his father. He knew that if his father didn’t come home from his shift that starvation awaited him.
The only way to get out of this hellish existence was through winning at Wheelchair Wars. It gave Timothy a sickly feeling. He did not want to have to hurt others but knew that he didn’t have much choice. This was why he was born. And most of all, he couldn’t let his Dad down. He had already been assigned a Team – The Omega.
His first trial was six months previously. His mother was still alive then and she never looked at him the same way again. He had been put in a wheelchair with saws on each side. The task was simple. Kill a few prisoners. Dad said it was a test of loyalty, Mom said it was butchery. But, both agreed that needs must.
Timothy heard the familiar sound of his father’s footsteps approaching the door to the little, dark room they call home. His end had not yet come.
As the door opened, his father burst into a fit of coughing. His face was tinged red and looked frail and old, especially for someone barely 40.
“How are you son? I’ve got some news.”
Between a further fit of coughing his father just about managed to splutter something out.
“Your next battle, it’s in two days’ time. You’ll be fighting in the Falcon X – Remember I showed you the video of one of them before. The one that goes really fast!”
Timmy’s heart was beating faster.
“But what about..?”
“I told you before, there can be no ifs and buts. There are only those who win and those who die.. I don’t want you to be part of the latter group. Come on, let’s get you out of that bed for a while. You need to be watching videos and thinking about strategy.”
He then went through the long routine of getting him out of bed and dressed, all the time making sure not to injure Timothy’s perceived fragile body. Then he lifted him into his dilapidated wheelchair.
After a bite to eat, it was video games to aid with his strategic thinking and then highlights of a recent wheelchair duel that his father had managed to secure.
The two fighters were briefly shown before the fight. One was a girl about Timothy’s age. She had long, auburn hair that draped her shoulders. Timothy thought she was beautiful. Her disability was difficult to gauge.
Her opponent had a large head, totally disproportionate to his twisted body.
Then it began. Both had top of the range machines. For the first few moments, it was unclear what was happening but then one wheelchair rammed the other in the side, causing it to topple over. It was over and fast.
“Now look Timothy, she does the right thing and kills him quickly. That’s an important act of mercy. Otherwise, he would have been left for the ratis to feed on.”
Ratis were Timothy’s worst nightmare. He feared them attacking him while he was stuck in his bed alone but his father always reassured him that that their quarters was always locked. He had only seen them a handful of times feasting on dead bodies. They were rumored to have come to the planet with humanity but then evolved to become bigger and more aggressive.
Timothy had much to ponder, but he also wanted to savior this time with his father, he might not have much left.
The hour had finally come. It was time for Timothy’s first battle. His palms were sweaty, his heart throbbing relentlessly. He was in the pit, surrounded by darkness and just moments from its massive door being opened and entering the Colosseum. There, forty thousand spectators were waiting for more blood to flow.
He had only a brief look in the distance at his opponent. He had a very small and thin torso, but had a normal sized head and dressed immaculately. In another existence maybe they could have been friends, having probably encountered many of the same issues in life but not in the here and now. One of them would live, the other would die.
Instinctively, he could feel the power of the falcon-X super wheelchair beneath him. He had felt elated, yet queasy as the chainsaw was adjusted into position in front of him over an hour previously to ensure that he could still see in front of him. Then the door was closed and he was told to wait for his turn.
The door began to slowly open. The light shone through, squelching his eyes. He pushed the joystick forward and drove into the amphitheater. The crowd were raucous baying for blood. His opponent was coming towards him and armed with what Timothy quickly realized was the feared steel pellet gun. A direct hit would slice through Timothy’s body and he knew it. The weapon had a drawback though, it only fired every few seconds.
Timothy drove towards his opponent but in large loops out to the left and then to the right. He would simple stop if a pellet looked like it might hit and then watch it aimlessly pass by. But this got more difficult the closer and closer they became. Timothy realized that his opponent was firing as furiously as he could and that it took seven seconds to reload. The shots were getting closer to him now. One, just missed him and instead of continuing his ark, he went straight at his horrified opponent. Timing was everything.
Timothy’s chainsaw cut through his body just before he could fire again. The impact jerked Timothy forward drenching him in blood. The crowd roared its approval. For a few second, he soaked up their approval. Timothy reversed his wheelchair and was embraced from behind by his father shouting –
“You’ve done! You’ve done it.”
But Timothy could also hear cries of anguish and despair in the distance.
Timothy felt the same but everything had changed utterly. He had not been told that he had been considered cannon fodder and rank outsider to win his duel.
“What would you have done if I had lost Dad, as everybody thought?”
“My mind was made up son, if you had lost and died, then I would have died that same day. There would be little reason for me to continue.”
Now he was looked at differently, both by strangers and his father. It made a huge economic difference too. His father could now give up the job that had been poisoning his lungs. That was what made Timothy most proud.
Their living arrangements also changed. Gone was the little shack that they once called home. Now, they were given an official residence at the Omega compound. Their unit was spacious and bright, Sure, there were long cracks down the walls and some damp here and there, but it was another world in luxury to where they had been.
Many others, with various disabilities also lived at the compound. Every few hours, a voice came through the loudspeakers of every room and hallway, stating that we are now all The Omega. That their lives as individuals had come to an end. It is for the glory of the Omega that they now live.
Timothy know in his heart that this was where he belonged. But he found it hard to talk to the others. Just cause they had disabilities too, didn’t mean that he would bond with them anymore than anybody else.
“You need to make friends son. These are the people that you will need to be able to rely upon. You’re spending too much time studying the technical aspects, you also have to look after the human aspect.”
“I know, I know. I’m just not used to so many people.”
We are The Omega
We will become one
Glory to the Omega
Victory to the Omega
It was the same every time cycle. Timothy’s father would get him up and then dressed. Then to the meeting area. They would make multiple circles with their wheelchairs. There were ten warriors in each circle. But this morning, there was one less circle.
After, the usual chanting, the loudspeaker ordered them to the video room. Timothy could hear some murmurings from the others as they made their way. He still had barely spoken to any of the others.
They parked in rows in the darkness before a large projection onto one of the walls. It was a group battle from hours previous. Ten participants from Omega versus ten from the hated Alpha. It soon became clear what had happened to the missing circle, they had been isolated and hacked to pieces one by one. Timothy found it hard to watch, but made sure to absorb as much as possible. The girl with auburn hair had parked beside him and he could see the tears rolling down her face.
The crowd in the video cheered voraciously as the last Omega, who had tried to escape was finally cornered and liquidated. Literally from an acidic fluid that was propelled over him. It took a few minutes for him to finally succumb.
Then the lights switched and the familiar voice spoke.
Defeat is not acceptable
Glory to the Omega,
The following are to stay, and the rest are to leave. A list ten of names were called out. His was one of them. They were all from his circle. and they had been nominated for the rematch in just a few hours’ time.
They were left in the darkened room for some time. There was a sense of dread pervading the room. They were leaderless, rudderless. Timothy knew that it the time for him to speak. Otherwise, it would be too late.
“I have an idea on how to win.”
The rest of the group stopped talking to each other in astonishment.
The girl with Auburn hair responded derisively.
“What would you know newbie?”
For a few moments, Timothy felt convulsed by what to say next. Then, just as they were about to avert their gaze.
“Our group fought as individuals rather than as one. They didn’t have any strategy and got picked off one by one. We need to change that.”
There came cries of “How?” from some.
“We will have our best warriors in the centre and attack in a line. Destroy those that stand their ground first and then deal with those who run. It must be done at speed.”
As Timothy explained in more depth, he won them over with one caveat, he would be leading the charge in the center.
“I will, if that’s what you want. But it’s important that I know all of you in case I need to adjust things in the heat of battle.”
The girl with auburn hair was the first to speak –
“My name is Audrey and I want revenge for the Omega.”
It struck Timothy that she had not cried for her comrades but for the dishonour to Omega.
Her response put a shudder down Timothy’s spine. The dogma that they were constantly listening to was obviously having the desired effect.
The others then called out their names and pledged their allegiance unthinkingly to The Omega. Timothy felt obliged to do the same when it came to his turn. There was no point in splitting the group. The rest of the group were made up of four males and four females.
They were all under twenty. Olsen was the oldest at eighteen years of age. He was was a heavy set fearsome looking man. The youngest Aoife was only twelve, had an angelic appeal that belied her taste for blood. Ciaran, Sean and David were the other boys. Ciaran’s body was contorted just like his own. Sean could not feel his legs and David could barely feel anything at all.
The remaining girls were Jessica, Mairead and Daire. All of Jessica’s limbs were missing and she had to use her mouth to control her chair. But, however she managed, she was a fighter of grear skill. Maire and Daire couldn’t move their legs.
Timothy immediately had an idea of what would be their idea formation. Himself, Olsen, Audrey and Jessica would be the solid centre that would pierce the enemy. Now, they just to decide on their weapons and rehearse battle calls.
The smell of rotting flesh was all pervasive. It went up your nostrils, into every crevice and stained your clothes. There had been much death. They were in the waiting area area waiting to enter the amphitheater and they were next. Strangely, Timothy wasn’t feeling fear. It was more a bloodlust. Neither did he sense fear in those around room.
Slowly, the large stone stone door began to lift, shining the light onto their faces. Timothy pressed pressed forward on his joystick and the others followed him.. Audrey to his left and Olsen to his right.
The crowd in the stand roared their approval. Everyone of the Omega was in a Falcon X and was armed with a chainsaw. In the distance, they could see their enemies dispersing expecting the usual one on one combat.
The omega increased their speed and headed for the middle of the enemy, which was held by two gunners of the alpha. Once they fired, Timothy roared disperse and the shots flew between the wheelchairs. Then they fired again and again.
One of the shots hit Jessica tearing her to shreds. There was not even time for her to roar out in agony. She was there and then she wasn’t. By by then they were bearing down on the gunners and the chainsaws cut through them. Now the Omega split in half and surrounded their cursed enemy. The crowd grew increasingly wild.
Timothy charged to meet his next opponent. This time he heard the clash of steel as two chainsaws collided. His opponent had more skill in this art form and Timothy soon found himself retreating. For the first time in that time cycle he felt immense fear.
It was only assuaged by the site of a chainsaw ripping through his opponent’s stomach from behind. There was no time to thank her, the slaughter had only commenced. Quickly each Alpha was isolated and slain.
The crowd clapped ferociously as Timothy’s wheels rolled over the blood soaked asphalt. He turned the wheelchair towards them, men women and children, in ragged clothes and took in the adulteration of the crowd. This is what he was born for.
The journey from the amphitheater back to the Omega, which consisisted of traversing a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers. The people emerged from their huts in their rags to cheer and there were roars of “Omega, Omega.”
They had all been watching the event on their wall-screen and they liked what they.
“You are a hero to the people,” his father whispered, his face beaming with joy and immense pride.
The other warriors were also there as they entered the compound. Those, who could clapped.
Then came the voice over the loudspeaker.
“Victory to the Omega. Glory to the Omega. Celebrations will commence within the hour. Timothy went back to his room.
“We’ll get you ready son.”
But Timothy grew confused when his father took off his clothes and put him into bed.
“What about the celebrations?”
“Son, this is for the celebration. As a warrior, certain things are expected of you. If you are successful, you’re seed must spread.”
Then his father left, and a woman entered. Her face was badly scarred on one side and most of her teeth were missing. She looked around his father’s age
“My name is Yeona. There is no reason to be nervous. Concentrate on my pretty side.”
With that, she entered the bed beside him.
Timothy was unsure what to make of the “celebration”. He knew it felt good good but still felt somewhat confused. But he knew that he had performed his duty and that was the most important thing. Well, he was pretty sure anyway.
He wondered how the “celebration” went for the rest of the team. As they gathered in their circle in the next time cycle, some had smiles that they couldn’t hide. Others looked as poker faced as ever.
The chant this day was –
Power to the Omega
Strength to the Omega.
Timothy found the whole thing quite boring but some the others like Audrey seemed to enter a trance after a while chanting away and they definitely sounded as if they were true believers.
The next few days were spent training. This involved doing complex wheelchair maneuvers and trying different weapons. Timothy couldn’t help but notice the high turnover at the base. People would die during the fights without fanfare and then they were quickly replaced. It was like Jenny was there one day and then she was replaced by Jack. He had the same disability, but was much more loquacious, telling jokes and trying to get a bit of banter going. But how much longer would he or any of them be around?
Timothy enjoyed talking to Audrey most.
She had taken to entering his room to look over combat videos and to discuss tactics. He would have preferred to “celebrate” with her.
As Timothy looked out through his visor at the purple sky, he knew that he would never forget this time cycle. Even if it was to be his last, it would have been worth it. The world and even existence itself was so much bigger than he ever thought possible.
It had been a long journey for him and the rest of his team of warriors to reach the summit of Mount Mangerton. They each made their own way through the bowels of the foul city. Then onto hovering cabins that travelled at an unfathomable speed. His father told him that they were called “trains”.
Most of the journey was in darkness as it pummeled through the city, But then there was light. Timothy looked out in wonder at the tall mountains in the rugged, rocky, reddish landscape. It was unlike anything he had previously seen.
It still took hours before the first sighting of their destination.
Mount Mangerton stood out from everything around it. The train dropped them off many miles from the destination but it still covered half the sky. A speaker warned the passengers of the toxic atmosphere and protective suits that had to be put on. They then entered a steel cabin that lifted them up to a small settlement at the summit.
It took a few hours for everybody to arrive. Now his comrades were to his left and right. Team Beta were disembarking from the other side but they would quickly merge at the first choking point for battle.
Now, he had to hope all that training paid off.
And they were off. Five teammates to his left and four to his right. It didn’t take them long to pick up immense speed. Never before had he felt such exhilaration as he slid down the dirty white surface. Split second decisions constantly had to be made. Turn left or turn right. It was all happening so fast.
And then there were eight. Two of his teammates made bad decisions. One of them hit a rock, leading to only small parts of the wheelchair to continue on the journey. The other made an incorrect turn and flew off the side of the mountain to certain death.
Only seconds later and they would meet the Beta. Timothy could sense the fear from the others through his visor’s communication device so he shouted –
“Glory to the Omega”
Then, far more more importantly the instructions “Action 1”.
With this, they formed a pincer formation. They were closer together, a solid centre. It had taken hours to perfect in training. One false move and they would crash into each other obliterating their chances.
Then the first sighting of Beta came from 9 o’clock. They headed straight for each other. Beta panicked when they saw the tight formation with many veering off course in fear to certain annihilation. The few that were remaining were quickly shredded by the tightly packed saws and swords that jutted out from the ski-wheelchairs as the mountainside turned crimson.
It was all over quickly.
With the enemy vanquished, they expanded the distance from one another and slowed as much as they could. No point taking risks as they safely made their way down the mountain.
Timothy hadn’t realized how stratospheric this victory would be. His Dad told him that it had been beamed throughout the planet.
“Everybody, even at the highest layers now knows your name.”
It took over a time cycle for him to get back to the base. Huge crowds lined every tunnel. Some reached out in their rags and tried to touch him as if he had magical power.
Pregnant mothers roared out that they wanted their babies to have his twisted limbs and to be just like him. It was something that he had never expected to hear.
He was exhausted on his return but there was no time for rest. Once again, his father undressed him and left him naked on the bed. He still wasn’t sure what to make of what was happening.
This time a different woman entered his room. He suddenly felt strange, she was beautiful and unlike anything that he had seen before. She was black; naturally, not from the pollution that pervaded the city. Her dark eyes and sublime smile immediately seduced him.
“Don’t worry I will look after you champ.”
And she did. It was an experience unlike any other.
But this time, the celebrations were still not over. He was woken and dressed by his father, then brought out where all the team was assembled. They were given a drink called whiskey. The taste was strange, but they drank a few cups each. He began to feel strange. Happy, then sad. He thought about the two team members that had died on the mountain – Ciaran and Mairead. He could see tears rolling down Audrey’s face and went to be by her side.
“Not really, I’m going to miss Mairead. I keep thinking of her falling down that stupid mountain.”
“You still have me?”
“But for how long?”
With that, she left the group to be on her own.
Eat, drink, train, repeat. That was now the story of his life. Each time cycle seemed the same as the last. For good measure, he would watch videos of other Wheelchair Wars videos in his spare time. He knew that his life and those of the rest of his warriors depended on it. It was impossible to know who their next opponents would be, so there was always more research that could be done.
There was a growing distance between himself and Audrey. She no longer accompanied him to review battles. He was unsure why, but it seemed she didn’t want to spend time alone with him anymore.
It saddened him. He had enjoyed the intimacy and the feeling that he could be special to someone. At times, his Da seemed to sense something was up.
“Why don’t you just go and talk to her?”
But he never responded.
Their squad had been given two new replacements to keep them at their original strength. There was Derek, whose only disability appeared to be his short stature. He didn’t use the wheelchair apart from fighting. Some of the others threatened to drive over him when they saw he was out of his wheelchair as if he was insulting them. The other was Caoimhne, who had no feelings below her waist. She had long, curly black hair and was quite attractive. She recoiled at some of the fighting though, which wasn’t a good sign for her long-term survival.
They were inexperienced but eager to learn. They readily accepted his leadership, never questioning what he wanted them to do. He just hoped that they could survive the next battle.
The Emperor is your God. You must suffer for his glory – The Emperor
Timothy was still sleeping when the boom of the speakers called all fighters to the ready hall. He had been practicing new combat maneuvers long into the allotted sleeping time and was now late getting up. Unusually, he could sense excitement in what was usually a drone like voice. Just a minute later his Da entered his quarters.
“There’s a lot of excitement out there. We need to get up fast.”
“What’s going on?”
“I don’t know son, but it’s big, really big.”
By the time he managed to get dressed and into the wheelchair, there were already roars of “Omega, Omega”.
He raced into the main hall. There was a euphoric atmosphere.
He reached his group, who looked more forlorn and serious than the rest.
“What is it?”
“We’re to battle Gargantuans on Level 1,” Caoimhne sobbed.
He felt his pulse race. Gargantuans were legendary creatures from a neighboring star system. They were huge and loved tearing humans to pieces. But was it fear or excitement that he was feeling, he was unsure. He also sensed an opportunity. The fight would be on Level 1 and the battle would be in the great Croak Stadium that could hold over a hundred thousand spectators. This could change all their lives forever. He just wondered if the others would be up to the task.
Then he roared out “Glory to the Omega”.
If nothing else, it would be a glorious death.
The Gargantuan world is bereft of Civilization due to their ferocity. But they escape extermination only due to my admiration – The Emperor.
It was like a different planet. They had come from darkness and sickness. But here, the tunnels were lit brightly, and they were spacious with marble floors. Even, the simple act of breathing was different on this level. There was no filth or dust in the air. Timothy noticed that his father had even stopped coughing. People were more beautiful on this level too; they all had their teeth and were dressed in immaculate white or navy robes. Nobody looked old.
Timothy noticed that they were lauded wherever they went. Crowds would reach out to touch them as they yelled and screamed their adoration. It made him feel awkward and unworthy. Their previous battles had been watched, even here at this high level.
They were provided with a new camp close to the Groak Stadium. It was the only place where they could talk together as a group.
“So how are you all finding Level 1?” Timothy asked.
“Like a dream.”
He nodded in agreement as he looked around at their new base. It even had windows where you could see the purple sky surrounding distant mountains.
The fight was due to take place in five time-cycles. There was much preparation that needed to be done. First, they would need to see the fighting arena though.
There is no such thing as good or evil, only servitude to your God – The Emperor
They were permitted just one visit to the legendary Groak stadium prior to their battle. It was not surprising. The stadium was much more famous for its glorious battles and raucous atmosphere than the planet itself and was well-known throughout the quadrant. Huge masses of people visited it every day even when it was not in use.
Timothy was mesmerized by what he saw. The stands were sheer like a cliff face and stretched upwards as far as he could see. The battle area was extensive. He noted that the surface was sandy, probably to suit the Gargantuan but it made it difficult for their wheels. They would need to change to tracks.
Some of the group started to pace around the battleground, making sure they understood its proper scale. Like a well-oiled machine they then all gathered in the center for a battle talk.
Audrey was the first to chime in.
“So, what’s the plan Timothy?”
“Space, we must use this huge battlefield to our advantage. That and work together. On our own we are nothing but as Omega we can destroy anybody. Yes, this Gargantuan is terrifying but so are we. This is our opportunity for glory and a life that we could never have imagined.”
Then the chanting began.
Timothy let the chanting reverberate through him. He looked at those around him and wondered if any would survive.
Gargantuans love tearing humans to pieces. It’s like a pasttime to them. They enjoy playing with their food – General Mudd
Timothy was relaxing on his bed. It was so much more comfortable at this level just like everything else. There was now just one time cycle away from going to battle. His preparation and research were now complete. Within the next two hours he would divulge his plans to his battle group. They would either agree to follow his battle plans to the letter or they would die.
There was then a small knock on the door, and he heard a quiet but recognizable voice. It was Caoimhne asking if she could come in. She always spoke so softly.
She was in her manual wheelchair and only just about managed to push the door open.
“I was feeling.. I don’t know.”
“It’s alright, the big battle is not too far off, I understand.”
“Can I lay down next to you?”
It was a large double bed so there was enough space. He had only shared his bed for sex though and he found his heart had started beating that bit faster.
She elegantly parked parallel to the other side of the bed before maneuvering herself on to it
“These really are so comfortable. I just wanted to be with someone. Tomorrow, one or both of us may be dead.”
“You shouldn’t think like that.”
“You know, I’ve never kissed someone. I know women are sent into you and the rest of the lads after battles. They are so beautiful. I’d really like to experience it. Can I kiss you?
“Yeah, I’d like that.”
With that, she leaned towards and kissed him. Then she wrapped her arms around him till it was time for the battle plan.
Every day is a good day for you to die – The Emperor
Timothy thought that he was ready for anything. But when Timothy woke the morning of the battle the room was already shaking as sounds reverberated through. All he could do was wait the few minutes and listen till his Da arrived to get him up.
“Everything is okay. The crowd is already building in the stadium. It’s already almost completely full, they say. The noise is so loud that it transmits through the structures of the city and that is what you are feeling now. The level of excitement is incredible. No matter what happens today son, I am so proud of you.”
The next few hours went by in something of a haze for Timothy. Fortunately, his plans were already in place and all the preparation had already been done. He made sure to take the time to speak to each of his fighters.
“Trust in the plan. We will get through this.”
Some, such as Audrey looked back at him with steely determination. With others, such as Caoimhne you could sense the fear. Still, he trusted all to do their duty.
Finally, it came time to leave.
There were met by huge crowds each corner they turned, that roared their love. Some of the women even threw their bras at them. But Timothy kept his concentration on what he would ultimately be facing. The exultation could wait.
Please kill me and release me from this torment – Anonymous Alexi Slave
The noise and crowds grew larger, growing increasingly manic as they approached the stadia. By the time they reached the entrance, a cordon of soldiers was in place to help them get through. At times, though, the crowd pulsed forward blocking the way. Timothy was thankful that they were in their battle wheelchairs, or they would be in danger of getting crushed. At times, he could hear the roars of people whose feet had suffered that fate under a battle chair.
Finally, they made their way inside. Now they just had to wait for the large door to draw open and they could enter the arena. He turned round to speak to his comrades in arms.
It was dark and he could only just about make out where everybody was.
“Remember the plan. Today, we live or die as one. Each of you know what you have to do and what role you are expected to play. Glory to the Omega!”
He turned and waited.
The large door slowly drew open, and once more they were being hit by a wall of noise.
It was exactly as he had hoped. The lighting was extremely dim just like the home world of the Gargantuan. He could see it in the distance. It stood aloft on its six long legs and even from a distance, he could make out its mandibles.
His army of warriors filed out to take up their positions slowly surrounding the monstrous creature. From the videos, he knew that it had a curious nature and if unthreatened would give them the required time. It was an anxious few minutes before they were all in position.
The Gargantuan had seen enough now and began to move.
Timothy roared “lights” through the communications device.
A light had been placed on the top of each battle chair and they now shone brightly dazzling the creature.
Each battle chair had been armed with a machine gun. They now all fired in unison aiming at its torso so that they wouldn’t kill each other.
It swayed back and forth before charging to its left where Caoimhne was positioned, its mandibles lifting and crushing her body in an instant before hurling it and the battle chair away.
Then it charged at another warrior and another. It was going in a circle killing one after another.
He gave the order to break formation and charge.
He stuck his chair on full speed and headed straight for it. He could only hope for the best now as he heard the roars of the others fall silent. His light still dazzled the creature and as he had broken formation it didn’t sense to lash out and kill him.
He had tilted the wheelchair as he had approached but the bullets were still not doing the expected damage. But, then he was under the creature, he noticed its soft underbelly. He stopped the battle chair and kept firing. Foul smelling blood poured over him. He could see that it was struggling to stand and expected to be crushed when it collapsed. But it fell on its side saving him.
The stadium went silent. He drove around to survey the dead monster and the body parts of his former comrades. Only himself and Audrey, were still alive.
Then the crowd started chanting hysterically –
“Glory to the Omega!”
Timothy did not sleep well that night. He turned away the four women who were offered. They were naturally shocked and insisted that they would return the following time cycle instead. He just wanted to be alone. All, except Audrey of his little band were now dead. Even, his father was unable to console him.
“They died gloriously.”
“It was a death they could have only dreamed of.”
His sleep was plagued by nightmares. All he could see were his comrades being torn from limb to limb. They were screaming at him asking to be saved. But there was nothing that there was never anything that he could do. He woke up shaking uncontrollably in a cold sweat. Then there was a knock on the door.
“Who is it?”
“It’s me Audrey, I can’t sleep. Can I come in? I can’t sleep”
“Yes, come on in.”
She entered wearing her pajamas in her ordinary wheelchair.
“I saw that you were alone and just wanted to be close to someone.”
Her voice was trembling.
“Get in here beside me.”
She drove around to the other side of the bed and got in beside him, resting her head on his chest.
“Thanks. I’d like to stay in your room from now on. You are all I have left. I know you must do your duty with the other women that come. That’s okay with me. I’ll even get involved if you like.”
“Yeah, I’d like that.”
Finally, he could close his eyes without the nightmares.
The Emperor is just to all his subjects – The Emperor.
Multiple times cycles had now passed. Yet Timothy still found himself on the top tier. He had been totally consumed by grief till very recently but then he found it increasingly odd that he wasn’t being told to return. Not that he was complaining. The longer he stayed on this tier, the better and better he felt. It wasn’t just something in his head either. When he looked in the mirror, his skin and hair looked clearer and fuller. He felt full of energy. And he could see those changes in those around him too. Their health just got better and better. His father now looked more like his brother. He guessed that it was more than just the cleaner air. It must be something that was in the food or drink. All he was certain of was that he was happy of it and hoped that it would never end.
Audrey was now spending every night with him. But they were now doing far more than resting. It started off with some kissing but had now progressed to her straddling him twice per night. He enjoyed it more with her than all the others. There was closeness, an intimacy that he craved. They had declared their love for one another, and it all felt right.
Still more time passed.
“I think you’ve been retired,” his Da joked.
“No, I don`t think so. Not going to happen, wouldn’t be that lucky.”
Three time-cycles later, a red light shone on the wall. It was a sign to go to the main meeting area.
They were met by three Imperial Guards, dressed in their purple robes and carrying their standard machine guns.
“Timothy the Impaler (for that is what he is now known), you and Audrey the Destroyer have been called for an immediate audience with the Governor. Your battle chairs will be required.”
Timothy knew that the time for more bloodshed was upon him.
To question The Emperor is to embrace Chaos and certain death – The Emperor
Timothy had never expected to meet the Governor, even if he managed to live an eternity. And yet, here he was standing just a few feet away from him. The Governor was The Emperor’s direct representative in the megacity. It was like being that much closer to God himself.
The room was large and cavernous, with murals of The Emperor on the walls and ceilings. The Governer, himself looked old and frail, with long white hair and he was adorned with jewelry. It was rumored that he had been one of the first inhabitants of this world. He was flanked by two Imperial Guardsmen.
“Thank you for your attendance. I watched your battle with great interest. You both fought bravely. The Emperor would indeed be proud.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“I’m afraid that you have been summoned under difficult circumstances. Our world now faces its darkest hour. There are whispers that the forces of chaos have entered the bottom of the city and are already beginning to infect The Emperor’s subjects. The disease will spread up the layers of the city and The Emperor will be forced to exterminate all life on the planet. But you two have strong minds. That was the purpose of the games, to extricate the best from the general population. Strong and fearless minds are required to stop the corruption of chaos.
You will now carry out an exterminatus, kill all those you suspect of disloyalty to The Emperor. You, Tomothy are being given control of one hundred troopers. Audrey, if he dies or you suspect chaos, you are to assume command. You leave in two hours.
“Thank you, Guardian.”
Hours later and they were heading to the base of the city. Going to the very bottom of the giant metropolis, they had to take a very circuitous route. It was the first time that Timothy got to see how life grew more difficult with each level they went down. Fine clothes and people with excellent health gave way to rags and people with sores covering their bodies. They reached the level from where he came. He had hoped to never again have to come this way and his skin immediately began to itch.
Why did The Emperor allow people to live like this?
Why were some so much better off than others?
He tried to scrub such thoughts from his mind for he knew it could lead to the power of chaos.
They cheered by all that saw them. Himself and Audrey, especially were now heroes to the impoverished masses.
After going through narrow tunnels for what seemed an epoch, they reached the elevator that would bring they them even further down into the abyss. Audrey informed the troops to prepare their weapons. Timothy was unsure about what to expect. They readied their weapons. The door of the lift slowly opened.
They were met by a horrendous smell. In the distance, ratis scurried away. His wheelchair slipped and slided in the filth on the ground.
It was time to take charge.
“Establish a perimeter!”
The troops quickly fanned out.
“So what now?” Audrey enquired.
“First, we’ll secure this area. The reports of Chaos come from a settlement some distance away but it’s imperative to secure our rear before an assault.”
Upon securing the perimeter, it was time to drive forward. As a child, Timothy had been told stories of chaos. It was one of the most horrid threats to humanity, if not to The Emperor himself. The one that always most stood out to him was that of Claudius. He was just one soul on a world among billions. He losses his lodgings in a drunken bet and turns to the Chaos God Adrios for vengeance. In a matter of an orbit around its star, the planet is forever lost to the Emperor as its inhabitants tear each other apart. This was the enemy that Timothy now had to face.
The encampment was now a few hundred metres away. He told the squadron to prepare to fire. Shouts cursing the Emperor emanated from it – “Down with the Emperor”, “Freedom” and “The Emperor is a ratis”. It seemed to be mostly women and children. Now, objects were being thrown. Chaos had indeed taken route.
The bullets tore through the mountain of flesh. Briefly, there were roars of pain pain and anguish but they were quickly cut down.
At last, where once there was chaos now there was only silence. He drove his battlechair closer to the savages, with Audrey close behind. Pools of blood swirled against his wheels.
Suddenly he noticed a child clinging to his mother’s dead body.
“No, you can’t Timothy, it’s just a kid.”
“A kid indoctrinated by Chaos is a threat to all.”
The flame thrower on his wheelchair activated and he pressed the button. The ratis would look after the rest.