You have never been a Slave? It is something that I barely describe. The confusion and the terror as the Raiders entered our Dome. The press of the bodies and the stink of the ship’s hold as our minds came up with all the horrible things that would occur when we arrived. The wrench of my daughter’s hand as she was pulled away from me and the pain of her scream greater than the beating that I received for fighting back. The searing of the laser branding and indignity of being caged almost drove me mad.
The Slave Market was busy that day as dozens of us were brought to the platform. Harsh Jovian overseers mingled freely with merchants from the Islamic Free Cities of the Belt. Behind them stood the Martian Imperials, genetically tailored citizens of the most powerful and cruel nation in the Solar System. The cacophony of sound grew louder as we were presented and the bidding began. I was already thinking like a Slave, wondering which of these bidders would be cruel and which would be kind, hopelessly ready to surrender to this fate.
The blast caused the entire station to shudder and could have only come from space. The power flickered momentarily and from the side passage, laser fire flashed out and crumpled the guards on the top balcony observing the proceedings. The buyers panicked and raced in all directions as laser fire continued to emanate from the side passage, a weird strobe effect whose intensity brought me to my knees.
I covered my face and then lay upon the platform as the Slave Station was liberated. I cannot honestly say how long it took or who did what to who. I just have single images. There was a large grizzled woman in the uniform of the former Lunar Marines, a laser rifle to her shoulder as she cut down guards racing into the Slave Market. I remember a bald Celestial man in black calmly dispatching the Jovian Overseers as they attempted to escape. I remember the eerie cry of the Spacers as the first of their ‘warriors’ reached the platform which I had prostrated myself. If you are looking for a true accounting of what occurred that day, I could not say.
One thing that I remember with perfect clarity is when the fighting was over. The smell of smoke, burning synthetics and death heavy in the air and the muffled quiet as the sounds of fighting faded to nothing. A man exited from portal to the slave pens, his patchwork uniform slashed and in tatters from edged weapons and burn marks from where his shield-belt had failed to completely stop incoming fire. In one hand, he held a bloody sword. The other hand held the hand of a tiny girl, her bald head seared with the laser branding of a slave and tears on her cheeks as she frantically looked around the room and her eyes finally found mine. The girl was my daughter. The battle-scarred man released her hand and smiled at her as she raced towards me and as we embraced, I heard him say softly, “I told you we would find him”.
I know what they say about Captain Artemis Roddenberry. That he is a menace to the shipping lanes of the Martian’s New Solar Order. I have heard all the sly jokes that he cavorts with Spacers and how their strange unnatural ways have made him unfit to be amongst humanity. I have heard the grumbles as people just wish he would give up fighting the system and accept that the war has been over for twenty years and that the good guys lost. It seems that everyone says he is a pirate, thief, criminal, coward, murderer, pervert, traitor, rebel and terrorist. But I say differently. Too me and my daughter, he is a Hero.
© Copyright 2017 Christopher Otero. All rights reserved.
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