Words got around faster than Jack thought. By the next day morning every inmate knew he was the new fighter representing Supermax in the next inter-prison fight. Dud was busier than usual and so were other bookies. The odds were not in Jack’s favor. He didn’t understand why. Even he didn’t know who the opposing fighter was.
“Everybody is excited, thanks to you. Haven't seen it for a while,” Ethan said sadly and sat next to Jack.
“Really?” Jack asked.
“The last game was like a year ago. Maybe longer,” said Ethan.
“Because there is no fighter?” Jack asked.
“There are always fighters among this group of guys, but they are just not as good as what other prisons have. Supermax suffered a losing streak, so embarrassing that the warden decided to stop for a while,” said Ethan.
“I see,” said Jack.
“Sorry, I didn't help you yesterday,” said Ethan.
“There was nothing you can do. I am glad it turned out this way,” said Jack.
“It's fight to death. You are glad?” Ethan asked in surprise.
“Now I have a chance to join First Species. Don't get me wrong. I want to get out, but if it is impossible, I may at least fly the pod,” said Jack.
“Warden promise you that?” Ethan asked.
“You believe that shit? We are Second Species. That will never happen,” said Ethan.
“Someone made it. I mean, not in here, but still,” said Jack.
“You are thinking Mikea Stonea,” said Ethan.
Ethan flashed a bitter smile. “Yea, kids like you all admire Mikea Stonea,” he said in a heavy voice.
There was something in the voice, but Jack couldn't put his finger on it. “You sound weird,” said he.
“No, no. I…I...anyway, listen, you are very likely to travel to another prison to fight. That will be your best chance to get out. Other prisons are not as secure as Supermax,” Ethan said quickly.
"I know," Jack said and finished the brown stuff in front of him.
In the following days Jack heard nothing about the fight, no location, no date, no info of the opponent. The food was the same and so was the work. Then one night four guards showed up in front of his cell.
“It's time for your first fight,” one of them said without emotion.
“Zzzzz.” The laser bars disappeared.
Jack walked out of his cell.
“Hey, Jack, don't die. You still owe me a favor,” said Dud.
Ignoring Dud, Jack followed the guards, reached the bridge and got blindfolded. It was a long walk and there were stairs. Then he sat down at somewhere cool, his hands and feet restrained. After a few minutes he heard low humming, followed by a jolt that pushed his back against whatever was behind him.
“Here we go,” Jack said loudly, wishing to find out whether he was alone or not.
Jack pulled his hands, but they didn't go far enough to reach the blindfold.
“What's the matter?” A cold voice asked.
“Oh…it’s itchy,” said Jack.
“It won’t kill you.”
“OK,” Jack said and sat back.
It wasn't a long ride at least Jack felt so. He walked off the ship still blindfolded. The air was hot and humid, carrying the smell of swamp. The floor was a little sticky or maybe it was just his shoes. After a short walk Jack was stopped and the blindfold was removed. He was in a small room. A plastic chair was lying lonely on its back in the center under the dim light, greenish liquid seeping out of the ceiling, dust falling out of the only air vent above the chair. Jack uprighted the chair and sat down.
There were four guards, two outside and two inside. There might be more in the hallway. The room had only one entrance and it was missing a door.
“The fight will start in one hour,” said one of the guards.
Jack nodded, but his heart wasn't on it.
“Drip. Drip. Drip.” The sound came from the air vent, but there was no sign of any liquid.
“Dah. Dah. Dah.” This time It was longer for each one.
“Drip. Dah. Dah. Dah. Drip. Dah. Dah. Drip. Dah. Drip. Dah. Drip. Dah.”
“Drip. Dah. Dah. Dah. Drip. Dah. Dah. Drip. Dah. Drip. Dah. Drip. Dah.”
“Morse code.” Jack looked up and the sound came again. This time it said restroom. Now Jack could barely sit still on the chair. Someone was going to rescue him, probably Gloira or Erikon or both.
“I need to go to restroom,” Jack said quickly.
The two guards in the room exchanged their look.
“I need to use restroom,” Jack said in a calm voice, much slower than the first one.
“This way,” one guard said and showed Jack to the next-door restroom. It was a tiny room, fitted with one sink and one toilet. It smelt so bad that Jack and the guard both threw up upon opening the door.
“You are welcome to stay,” Jack said, covering his nose.
The guard slammed the door closed. Jack tried to lock it, but the lock wasn't working. He pressed against the door and listened carefully. There were at least two guards outside.
“Clank.” The vent cover on the ceiling opened and a familiar face emerged from the vent. It was Titainein.
Jack froze there like a statute. She was the last person he expected.
Titainein jumped in like a cat and hugged Jack. “Good to see you,” she said quietly.
“This…is a surprise,” Jack said, pushing his jaw back to where it was supposed to be.
“I know,” she said and took out a device from the black bodysuit she was wearing.
“What's that?” Jack asked.
“To find trackers. They are not stupid,” Titainein said, scanning Jack with the device.
“Right,” said Jack.
“Oh, shit. Shit!”
“There is more than one?” Jack asked in a worried voice.
“Nanorobots. Thousands of them," said Titainein.
“Shit! But you come prepared, right?” Jack asked.
“Not for this. Let me think. Let me think," Titainein said quickly, looking around. The electric box over the toilet caught her eyes. She dashed to it and pulled its door open. “Listen, this sounds crazy, but it will work. High voltage will short-circuit all nanorobots in your body,” said she.
“Hold on. Hold on. That high voltage will kill me,” said Jack.
“Yes, but I will bring you back,” Titainein said confidently, looking into Jack's eyes.
“Wait. Wait. You done it before?” Jack asked.
Jack turned around, facing the door. “I…I don't know,” said he.
“We don't have time. We do it now or never,” said Titainein.
“Anyone else with you?” Jack asked.
“Just me,” said Titainein.
“What?” Jack said and turned to face her.
“You think my father would approve this?” Titainein asked.
“Knock. Knock. Knock.”
“Give me a minute,” Jack shouted at the door.
Jack looked back and forth at the electric box and Titainein. “We don't have time. You go,” he said quickly.
“I am not leaving without you,” Titainein said in a determined tone.
“You want to die together?” Jack asked, holding her shoulders.
Titainein fell silent.
“Knock. Knock. Knock.”
“Just a minute,” Jack shouted.
“What's taking so long?”
“Go!” Jack said and lifted Titainein up towards the vent. She looked at Jack one last time and grabbed the edge of the vent. Jack lifted her feet while she pulled herself into the air duct.
“Titainein, is Gloira dating Klaycon?” Jack asked quickly.
“BAM!” The door was kicked open.
“What's going on?” One guard asked, checking the tiny room.
“I was…was…” Jack said, his eyes glancing at the vent which was closed already.
“What?” The other guard shouted.
“I was jerking off,” Jack said reluctantly.
“Fucking Second Species,” said one guard.
“What do you expect?” The other guard asked.
Jack returned to the room, too worked up to sit down. What he regretted most was he didn't ask the question earlier. He looked up at the vent, wishing to hear the Morse code of NO.
“It is time,” the warden said, walking into the room.
“Anything I should know about my opponent?” Jack asked in a sarcastic voice.
“He is fast. You better win. I put a lot of money on you,” said the warden.
Sandwiched between guards, Jack left the room, passed a short corridor and a heavy gate, made a few turns and arrived at a mass hall where a makeshift boxing ring was set up in the center. The ring wasn't a square but a ring and the ropes were replaced by steel rods with long and sharp spikes. There were less than 100 spectators who wore fancy clothes and expensive jewels. Except for Jack there was not a single soul of Second Species. The warden picked up a seat next to the ring and gave Jack a serious nod. Jack entered the ring through a side door and walked about stretching.
Suddenly the clamoring stopped. Jack looked beyond the crowd and saw a small dude in dirty blue prison garb entering the hall. He was a Btienen, a Second Species known for their stamina and speed. He had two disproportionately long legs, a square face and two yellow lizard eyes.
“Of course he is fast,” Jack said to himself.
The Btienen jumped in the air like a fog and landed in the ring with a big bang.
“I am Sasa. What's your name?”
Looking up and down at Sasa who only reached Jack's waist, Jack knew he could drop him in one punch if he could land one.
“You don't have a name?” Sasa asked coldly.
''Whatever," Jack said and charged at Sasa.
The crowd went wild.
Jack threw a right jab and a left hook in a blink. Without moving his feet, Sasa bent its body left and right as if there was no bone in it. Jack fired another combination, but Sasa was so fast that none of them came close.
“My turn,” Sasa said with a crooked smile and started running in circles.
Jack was turning around and soon got dizzy. When he stopped, he felt a sharp pain at the back of his right leg. He turned and thrust his right hand at Sasa, grabbing his oily sleeve. Sasa slipped away without breaking a sweat and started circling again.
Another hit landed on Jack's right cheek, followed by another on his left temple. When Jack put up his hands, he got another shot on his back.
“Aaaaah,” Jack screamed and fell on his knees.
“Come on.” The crowd cheered.
Jack stood up, wishing he had both eyes. In an instant he realized he had been doing it wrong and closed his only good eye.
The tramping was getting louder and louder.
“Patient. Patient. Now!” Jack fired his right fist at full strength.
“BAM!” It landed solidly.
“Aaaaah.” A painful scream.
A hush fell over the crowd.
Jack opened his eyes and saw Sasa on spikes, two in chest, one in left leg, two in right leg, and one in left arm.
Sasa coughed up a blob of blood, his face darkening. “Finish me,” he said in a begging voice.
“Finish him!” The crowd yelled.
Jack walked to Sasa and grasped his neck.
“Clank.” He broke it.
When Jack left the ring, the guards blindfolded him right away. He felt the way back to Supermax was much longer. When the blindfold was removed, he saw a spacious cell finished with tables, chairs, couches and gym equipment, but what really caught his eye was a red-haired Tizuee girl sitting on the king-size bed.
“This is where the fighter used to live. I threw in something extra. Nothing is better than fuck after a fight, right?” The warden asked proudly.
Jack kept his cool, checking out the girl from the corner of his eye.
“Anyway, I must admit I was impressed. I was nervous though. All my saving was there, but you just have to take a leap of faith, like what human always say,” said the warden.
“This is not what you promised me,” Jack said in a bland tone.
“You mean flying the pod? You see, I can't just hand it to you because of one win. That's not fair to the previous fighters,” said the warden.
“They are all dead, aren't they?” Jack asked.
“That's beyond the point. Some of them did win three or four times,” said the warden.
“How many times do I have to win then?” Jack asked.
“We will talk about it later. Now why don't you have some fun? Remember you can fuck her three times when you win a fight,” the warden said and locked the cell door.
Keeping her head low, the girl started undressing. She looked like 20 something, her breasts round and heavy, her waist small and shallow, her legs long and slender.
“Raise your head,” Jack ordered, having a hard-on already.
She did obediently and looked at Jack without any emotion. For a second Jack forgot to breath because of her resemblance to Titainein. She was older and more womanly, but she had the exactly same eyes, one green and one blue, her face a little rounder and her mouth smaller.
“You are…” Jack was about to ask whether she was Titainein's sister, but then he recalled Titainein never mentioned a sister.
She looked away and simply opened her legs.
Jack always wanted to fuck Titainein, but he didn't because she was his friend. Now this girl would make it up. He threw away his clothes and walked to her naked. She spit on her right hand and wet her pussy when he aligned his long and thick shaft to it.
“Wait, how did you get this scar?” The girl asked, pointing at the black scar on Jack's left shoulder.
Jack didn't wait and shoved it all the way in. It had been so long since last time he had sex that he almost came right there, but he held it and started pounding slowly.
Knocked out of wind, she tried to push herself away, but Jack's hands clenched her tits like tongs, holding her in place. After a minute or so she gave in and wrapped her legs around his waist. Jack pounded faster and faster and soon felt the uncontrollable force in his lower body.
“Aaaaaah,” he roared and exploded in her.
“That was quick,” she said, panting.
Jack started pounding again with his limp shaft. A mixture of his semen and her love liquid oozed out at every in-and-out. After three minutes he got hard again.
A surprise came over her face.
“This time will be long,” Jack said and folded her like a piece of paper. Now every thrust went as deep as it could go.
“Yea, yea, fuck me! Fuck me!” She yelled.
Jack fucked her in the next 20 minutes and came inside her again before collapsing on her. “How long this time?” He asked ironically.
She looked at him, her eyes blank, her body still shaking. After a while she came to her sense. “How did you get the scar?” She asked.
“An accident. A long time ago,” Jack said, knowing very well that she could be spying for the warden.
“Must be some accident,” she said in a cynical tone.
“What do you mean?” Jack asked.
“This scar was made by a very special blade. There are only five of them. It should have killed you,” said she.
“Ooooh, an educated whore. What's your name?” Jack asked.
“A whore doesn't need name,” she said and rolled away from Jack. She left the bed and got dressed.
Jack noticed the tattoo of Yasily, the God of Revenge in Tizuee's fairy tales, on her right shoulder.
She knocked on the cell door. A small slot opened. Then the guard unlocked the door and let her out.
Prison life consisted of routines, followed by more routines. The following days were uneventful. Jack missed Gloira and often wondered whether Klaycon fucked her or not, which in turn rendered him sleepless. Every such night he exhausted himself on those gym equipment. It was in one of those nights that he found the note.
The gym equipment were bolted on the floor and there were cracks at where the bolts went in. In a few spots the cracks spread so bad that the tiles fell apart. One time Jack dropped a water bottle while drinking from it and when he picked it up he noticed water was seeping into the cracked tile. Starting from small pieces, he managed to pry the entire tile off. Under the tile was a folded cloth, partially wet, covered by words written in blood. Jack took it out and unfolded it carefully. The piece was the back section of a prison garb with words on both sides. He started reading.
I don't have much time left. I can feel it and I guess that's why I feel I should write something down. If you are the lucky guy or I should say unlucky guy who finds this note, I have to tell you beforehand that my story doesn't have a happy ending.
My name is Olansi Uie Giqkua Giehie Ghiv Daloow. I am a Hylocan and I was born on Akenlys. Both of my parents are teachers. My wife is a biologist and we have a daughter. I don't know whether they are alive or not. I hope they survived the war and live happily on Hylocan Reserve.
I grew up like other kids, at least before puberty and when that kicked in I rose like a rocket. I was much taller and stronger than my peers, making them look like infants. Around that time I was offered an opportunity. I could either go through the regular education channel or attend military academies. I didn't hesitate and chose the latter one. Besides perks such as free housing, the respect you get from being part of the fleet is unrivaled by any profession. I never regret my decision. It wasn't an easy ride, but I managed and climbed the ranks. I graduated as Captain and joined the fleet. It was the golden time of my life and it lasted 15 years. During that time I met my wife and she is the light of my life. I miss her so much. Then the war came. At that time I was Colonel, serving in Aluson Battle Group, one of the 25 battle groups in the fleet. We attacked Glycan at two fronts: its home planet and its industry center. We even captured their field marshal at the end of the battle of Rettiu. I remember his name is Gien. I was there. After that there were many battles and we won some and lost some. Then Superace came along and the tide turned. We retreated from one planet after another all the way back to Akenlys. I was stationed on Lusie, one of the two moons orbiting Akenlys. I guess I should say I was among the lucky ones, because I was captured by Superace before they unleashed the creature. All the captured were brought here. The warden noticed me and I agreed to fight in those games. At first I thought if I do what he ask, he would help me. I was stupid. When the war was over, all Hylocan in Supermax were transferred to Hylocan Reserve except me. The warden kept me here to fight. I thought about escaping and I know the only way to get out of here. The key is get to the hangar from outside. That is the only way, but I can't make it myself. I need help and information, but I am the only Hylocan here. There was one time Yasily offered her help, but I didn't trust her back then. It wasn't until later that I heard her story. She wants to escape not because of the life outside but vengeance. She will help anyone as long as she can get out.
Now I am broken like an old man thanks to years of fighting. I will die in the next fight. No doubt. I really want someone to tell my family how much I love them. Then I realize that if you are reading this letter, you are very likely to have the same fate just like me. One more thing: the warden is having nanobots mixed with food and he is the only one who knows how to disable them.
"Thank you," Jack said wholeheartedly and stared it for a while. Then he folded it, put it back to where it was and covered it with the tile. He never thought about getting to the hangar from outside and he never heard anyone tried it. Then there was this Yasily. He was pretty sure that it was the girl he fucked the other day. Fortunately he could still see her two more times.
In the next few days Jack did quite a bit of looking. The waste wells on the square caught his attention. They were used to dispose of pieces of rocks broken down by inmates. Once fully filled, the outer gates would open and the content would be released into space. On a typical day there were two releases for each well, one before lunch break and the other before dinner. Getting in was not a problem, but getting out would require space suit, obviously. That was the first item on his list and he didn't have the slightest clue as to how to get it. The second was the blueprint of Supermax. He must know the exact location of the hangar relative to one of the waste wells. The hangar door could be closed in which case he would resort to the airlock closest to the hangar. In either scenario the blueprint was a must. The third item was the most important one, but Jack didn't know what it was. Its function was to deactivate the nanobots.
It was a week after his first fight when Jack spoke to Ethan about this crazy idea. To his surprise Ethan didn't laugh it off or call him crazy. He said he would rather die trying. He had no idea about nanobots and never heard about it before. He also said he might be able to cross the first item off the list. He didn't tell Jack how, but Jack trusted him.
After returning to his cell Jack asked the guard outside to send for the Tizuee girl. Later at night the girl walked into the cell with a wooden face, her eyes casting down, her air stone cold.
“Clank.” The guard locked the door behind her.
Jack was sitting on a chair in the center of the cell. She walked past him, went straight to the bed and took off her prison garb.
“What's your name?” Jack asked, admiring her body.
“What do you care?” She said and opened her legs.
“I will go easier on you,” said Jack.
“I've been here for three years. You think how many ways I have been fucked,” said she.
Jack flashed a bitter grin. “How about, I tell you about the scar and you tell me your name, deal?” He asked.
“Sure, you first.”
“I got it from a fight against General Kalan,” said Jack.
“If I didn't know about those blades, I would say bullshit. That begs another question why you are still alive. Kalan isn't forgiving at all. He must know you are alive,” said the girl.
“My turn. What's your name?” Jack asked.
“The God of Revenge. I'm quite sure that's not your real name, but let's keep it that way. You know, you remind me of someone. Ever heard the name Titainein?” Jack asked.
“You are not the first to notice that,” said Yasily.
“Did those guys also mention Titainein is very bad at physical exercises?” Jack asked.
Yasily stared at Jack for a long second. “You know her, but how? Wait, wait. You were in Guardian Fleets Training Center. That was how you knew her,” said she.
“I see. So you two are related just like I thought. You are her sister. Interesting. She never mentioned she has a sister,” said Jack.
“She wouldn't,” said Yasily.
“You are royal. How did you end up here?” Jack asked.
“What about you?”
“Alright, I will go first.” Jack told her what happened since he returned to the Training Center. He figured if she would be part of it, he may as well just tell her the truth.
“So you are innocent. Well, even if your lover Gloira somehow could prove you didn't kill that Eiwawo, you wouldn't leave here, dead or alive,” said Yasily.
“Maybe. How you end up here? Innocent?” Jack asked.
“I killed my mother, the Queen. I didn't mean to. I was trying to kill Titainein, but she somehow knew beforehand and switched the drinks. My mother drank the one with poison before I could stop her,” Yasily said in a sad voice.
“Why did you want to kill Titainein?” Jack asked.
“Because my father loves her more than me. He is going to give her the throne that is rightfully mine. I hate her. I hate her. She killed my mother,” said Yasily.
Jack wasn't sure whether he could trust her anymore. For someone who was willing to kill her own sister, there was really no depth she couldn't sink to.
A long silence.
“I never thought you were the romantic type,” said Yasily.
“What is my type?” Jack asked.
“Power and strength. You are ambitious. You want to be somebody. I don't know the real reason behind, but I figure you are a low born,” said Yasily.
Jack smiled slightly. “I am done for the day. You let yourself out like last time,” said he.
Yasily frowned but didn't say more. She got dressed and left.
Jack didn’t sleep very well in the following days. He was hesitating whether to trust Yasily or not.
“You look tired,” said Ethan.
“I don't sleep much,” said Jack.
While talking, they didn't stop wielding their sledgehammers.
“Well, this news may help you sleep. I found a way to get spacesuits,” said Ethan.
“The waste wells are maintained by four inmates. They go in there everyday after dinner. We can take their places when the time is right,” said Ethan.
“Good. Good. I thought you were going to get spacesuits from Dud or someone,” said Jack.
“No. The shoppers can’t get everything. Anyway, there are problems. The spacesuit doesn't have thrusters and it only has 20-minute oxygen. We don't know exactly where the hangar is,” said Ethan.
“I will get the blueprint,” said Jack.
“Leave that to me. You know, in the old days gas was used to propel spaceship,” said Jack.
“High speed air? That was more than 1000 years ago,” said Ethan.
“It will work. We need air canisters or something like that,” said Jack.
“The guards frisk the maintenance crew at every door every time. If we had canisters on us, they would find out long before we get to the spacesuits,” said Ethan.
“Well then the canister must be in place before we go out in spacesuits,” Jack said, looking around for Dud.
“This is…and how you plan that?” Ethan asked.
Jack saw Dud on the other side of the square.
“I have an idea,” said Jack.
“Like what?” Ethan asked.
“First Species go outside when they collect rocks. We might be able to have them place the canisters outside one of the waste wells,” said Jack.
“I don't know any First Species and I am pretty sure they won’t help you,” said Ethan.
“Not me. Dud is doing business with First Species,” said Jack.
“Yes and two other shoppers,” said Ethan.
“If money is right, we may find one to do the leg work,” said Jack.
“I see. Worth a try. I can get the canisters and the box,” said Ethan.
Jack nodded and headed to Dud. He took his time and worked his way there, one rock at a time. Dud was wielding his sledgehammer in a clumsy manner. He held it way too close to the metal head, chipping off a tiny piece of rock each time.
“Dud,” Jack said and nudged him.
“Jack, what do you need?” Dud said in a businesslike tone.
“You do business with a few First Species, don't you?” Jack asked.
“Most of them despise Second Species, but there are a few who love money,” said Dud.
“I want you to introduce me to them,” Jack said quietly.
Dud gazed at Jack for several seconds. “Why would I do that? Introduce a new competitor?”
“I won't be your competitor,” said Jack.
“Oh, I see. What are you up to? Let me guess, it's not something they have, but what they can do for you and only they can,” said Dud.
“I have no idea what you are talking about,” said Jack.
“I have been here for 21 years, so I know all the types. I heard the conversation you had with your visitor the other day. I guess that really motivated you to get out of here,” said Dud.
“You know you have been here so long. The imagination is growing on you,” Jack said and turned on his heel. He didn't like doing business with Dud anyway. It was said that Dud was a gun runner before, meaning he sold guns or any weapon he could get his hands on to anyone with money.
There were three big shoppers and the other two were Lisinisin and Jaqa. The former was a Nassuj who had a horn sticking out of his face. His eyes were located on each side of the horn. Because of it he was nicknamed Knifehead. The latter was a Cazoenoiz and he looked like a standing turtle but with a long neck and a fish head. His shell was so big that he was practically a humpback. The two often hung out together like a couple, surrounded by big inmates. Dud, on the other hand, was a loner.
Jack was approaching Lisinisin and Jaqa, but four big inmates stopped him at five steps away.
“It's business,” Jack said plainly, ignoring the wall in front of him.
“Let him through,” said Lisinisin.
The four dudes stepped aside, opening a hole.
Jack walked to Lisinisin. “I understand you also do business with First Species,” said he.
Lisinisin exchanged look with Jaqa who was alerted.
“Maybe, what do you need?” Lisinisin asked.
“I want to ask your connections to do something for me,” said Jack.
“I see why Dud turned you away,” Lisinisin said with a grin.
“What do you say?” Jack asked.
“You are famous now. Why don't you make your own connections?” Lisinisin asked.
Jaqa nudged Lisinisin. “Come on, be nice,” he said with a wink.
“It will cost you,” said Lisinisin.
“I will pay after I talk to your connections,” said Jack.
“Hold on there! You don't make the rules. You won one fight and you think you run this place,” Lisinisin said and jumped at Jack.
Inches from Lisinisin’s face, Jack stood fast, calm and easy.
Japa wedged in between Jack and Lisinisin. “Please excuse my friend Lisinisin here. He got too worked up. You know what, we will make an exception just for you,” he said quickly.
“When?” Jack asked.
“This will take a few days. We will let you know,” said Jaqa.
Jack nodded and went back to Ethan.
“Good news?” Ethan asked.
“They agreed to set me up. It will be expensive,” said Jack.
“I got the money from betting on you last time,” said Ethan.
“We will need more than that,” said Jack.
Next day Jack got news from Lisinisin during breakfast. The meeting was set at noon in the laundry house. Jack didn't expect it so soon and he was happy that he scared them enough to get it done.
The laundry house was beneath the square and it could be reached by a few elevators. Drones ran every aspect of its operation, including picking-up and dropping-off. Every weekend drones carried a new set of garb and underwear to each cell and retrieved the old ones. Once a while one or two inmates went down to the house to do maintenance.
At lunch break Jack followed Lisinisin and Jaqa to an elevator at the edge of the square. Lisinisin whispered something to the guard near the elevator and the latter flashed an evil smile that lasted no longer than a blink. Jack saw it and sensed something out of place, but he let it be. He passed by the guard and stepped into the elevator with Lisinisin and Jaqa.
“Let's go,” Jaqa said and hit a button.
After a short ride the elevator door opened to a long and narrow aisle sandwiched between humming machines. It was only one person wide, occupied by a Tizuee who was doing something on the machines.
“They are waiting at the end of the aisle,” said Lisinisin.
There was light at the end, far and elusive. Jack had a bad feeling, but he knew he had to do it just this one time. He walked down the aisle, followed by Lisinisin and Jaqa.
“Excuse me,” Jack said when he came to the Tizuee. They both turned sideways and walked by each other. Jack felt something dropped in his pocket. He immediately reached into it and touched something pointy. It was a toothbrush with a pointy end. Jack turned around and saw the Tizuee walk leisurely to the elevator.
“What's wrong?” Lisinisin asked.
Jack thought for a second and it hit him. “Nothing, I thought I knew him,” he said and clenched the toothbrush.
“Come on. Let's go,” said Lisinisin.
“You know what, I will let you go first,” Jack said and stepped aside.
“I…” Lisinisin said, backing off.
“Come on,” Jack said and yanked Lisinisin to the front.
Lisinisin hesitated for a long second and walked forward.
“I'm coming out. I'm coming out,” Lisinisin shouted when he was about to exit the aisle.
“Bam!” Jack kicked the small of Lisinisin's back.
Lisinisin fell forward, landing on his face.
Jack turned and stabbed Jaqa in his long neck.
“Help! Help!” Jaqa shouted desperately.
Two Jynese and two Dolanz ran into the aisle, wielding knives and charging at Jack in a file. Jack dropped Jaqa and leaped at the Dolanz, dodging the knife and thrusting the toothbrush in his heart. Then Jack used him as a shield and stabbed the Jynese behind him in the head. Two left.
“Noooooo,” the other Jynese screamed and jumped over the two dead bodies.
Jack brought the toothbrush over his shoulder and threw it like a dart.
“Aaaaah,” the Jynese screamed as the toothbrush pierced through his left eye.
Jack followed with a kick on his belly and grabbed the hand holding the knife. He forced it into the Jynese's neck, blood gushing out like fountains.
The leftover Dolanz turned and ran, but only managed four steps. Jack jumped on his back, grasped a handful of his hair and pulled his head backwards.
“Clank.” His neck broke.
Jack stood up and walked out of the aisle, entering a room filled with barrels of detergents. He easily found Lisinisin curling up in a corner.
“Come here. I won't hurt you,” said Jack.
Lisinisin shook his head, his body quivering.
“Come here, before I change my mind,” said Jack.
“You promise you won't hurt me,” said Lisinisin.
“I promise,” Jack said in a serious voice.
Lisinisin crawled slowly to Jack and kneeled before him.
“Klaycon hired you to kill me?” Jack asked.
“Who? No, we just wanted to teach you a lesson,” Lisinisin said innocently.
“I see,” Jack said and clasped Lisinisin's neck.
“You...” Lisinisin lost his voice, his eyes bulging, his hands pulling on Jack's arms.
“I lied,” Jack said and tightened his grip.
Staring at Jack, Lisinisin jerked for a few seconds and stiffened.
Jack dropped him and headed back. When he stepped out of the elevator, the guard stumbled back and tripped himself. Jack gave him a hand and pulled him up.
“You know, there are a few bodies in the laundry,” said Jack.
The guard nodded quickly.
“Thank you,” Jack said and left him.
Life continued and other shoppers took no time to replace Lisinisin and Jaqa. Business went on like usual. Jack tried to find the Tizuee who dropped the toothbrush, but had no luck. He also tried to connect with First Species through other shoppers, but had no luck in that either.
At the end of the week Ethan got the canisters and brought them to Jack at dinner. Keeping the metal box under the table, Jack took a quick peek inside and saw four compressed air dusters.
“They should do. There are double sided tapes at the bottom of the box,” said Ethan.
“God job,” Jack said, looking around cautiously.
“What about you?” Ethan asked.
“No shopper wants to help,” Jack said and sighed.
“They know what happened to Lisinisin and Jaqa,” said Ethan.
“It was just a deal went wrong,” said Jack.
“We are fucked,” said Ethan.
“There is still one thing I can try,” said Jack.
Jack went ahead and told Ethan about the note and Yasily.
“You lucky son of bitch. Anyway, you think she can have some First Species install the box?” Ethan asked.
“I will have to ask. She is the last resort. She tried to kill her little sister for the throne,” said Jack.
“You are still young. That is typical. Listen, fuck her good first and then ask her,” Ethan said surly.
“Fuck her and then ask, really?” Jack asked.
“No. Fuck her GOOD and then ask, got it?” Ethan asked seriously.
“OK,” Jack said, nodding. He didn't understand why, but trusted Ethan anyway.
“If she could have the box installed and get us the blueprint, we would definitely stand a chance,” Ethan said in an excited voice.
“Don't forget the nanobots,” said Jack.
“Maybe Yasily knows something about them,” said Ethan.
“Maybe, I will ask,” said Jack.
“By the way, how often do they toss your cell?” Ethan asked.
“None so far,” said Jack.
“Good. Then you keep the box. Drones almost got me last night,” said Ethan.
Jack nodded and saw Dud coming at them.
“There is the smartass. He figured it out,” Jack said and nudged Ethan.
Dud took a seat behind Jack and Ethan, his back facing their backs.
“Don't turn around. We will talk like this,” Dud said in a serious tone.
“I have nothing to say,” Jack said and stood up.
“How was the toothbrush? Did it help?” Dud asked.
Jack slowly sat down. “It was you. How did you know Jaqa and Lisinisin's plan?” He asked, keeping his eye forward.
“I hear stuff and I figured you might need a little help,” said Dud.
“What do you want to talk about?” Ethan asked coldly.
“You two are planning escape,” said Dud.
“Escape from here? Dud, you've been here long enough to know it is impossible,” said Ethan.
“Easy. I’m not going to tattletale. I must say it's bold. Get to the hangar from outside,” said Dud.
“How you figure that?” Ethan asked.
“Come on. Jack wants to get introduced to First Species and you got those dusters. Apparently you two figured out how to get spacesuits,” Dud asked.
“What do you want from us?” Jack asked.
“I want in,” said Dud.
Jack and Ethan exchanged look.
“This is what I offer. First I can have the dusters placed outside. Second I can tell you about nanobots,” said Dud.
“I know about nanobots,” said Jack.
“You know what it does?” Dud asked.
“They are trackers,” said Jack.
“No. Ever wonder why no First Species inmate escaped from Supermax? The hangar is in their turf. We, on other hand, don't even know where it is,” said Dud.
“You know all this. Why are you still here?” Ethan asked.
“I tried and I even got to the hangar, but I failed because of the nanobots,” said Dud.
“How did you get to the hangar?” Jack asked.
“Two First Species inmates carried me over the bridge in a big bag. I have said enough. You two think about my offer,” Dud said and left.
“What do you think?” Jack asked.
“I don't know. Let's see what you can find out from Yasily first,” said Ethan.
Jack nodded. After returning to his cell, Jack hid the box under the mattress and sent for Yasily. When she walked into the cell, Jack jumped on her and entered her right there on the floor. He fucked her like an animal, rough and hard. After he came, He threw her on the bed and rode her from behind. The second round lasted more than 30 minutes and they kicked the mattress off the bed.
“Boy, what did you have for dinner?” Yasily asked, breathing heavily.
“How was it? Compare with other fighters,” Jack asked, playing her tits.
“Better than most of them,” said Yasily.
“Better than Olansi?” Jack asked.
“So you heard about him,” said Yasily.
“Hard not to,” said Jack.
“Right. He was the real champ. Survived 15 years,” said Yasily.
“When did he die?” Jack asked.
“Let me see. He fucked me for three months, so he was killed in fight two years and nine months ago. The fighters after him only could win one or two fights before getting killed,” said Yasily.
“15 years. He never tried to escape?” Jack asked.
“He definitely thought about it,” said Yasily.
“How do you know?”
“He dream-talked a lot.”
“What about you? You thought about it?” Jack asked.
“Everyday. I will do anything and everything to get out of here so that I can kill Titainein and get my throne back,” Yasily said in a firm voice.
“I see,” said Jack.
“You are planning something, aren't you?” Yasily asked.
“What are you talking about?” Jack asked and chuckled.
“The box there. I took a quick peek while you were fucking me,” said Yasily.
Now that the mattress was on the floor. The box was lying in plain sight on the bed frame.
“You don't look like the kind of guy who cares about dusting,” said Yasily.
“Clank!” The door suddenly opened.
Ell-o strolled into the cell, followed by four guards.
"What's this about?" Jack shouted, checking the air dusters from the corner of his eye. He didn't make any sudden move, but just put on his pants.
“Toss cell,” Ell-o said to his guys.
Yasily quickly hid the box behind her back. Soon the room was turned upside down, save for the bed.
“Move, we need to check the bed,” a guard shouted at Yasily.
Jack felt his heart was going to jump out
“Sure, why don't you check me as well?” Yasily asked, leaning back and opening her legs.
“Fucking whore,” Ell-o said in disgust and motioned his guys to leave.
Zead walked in as the guards stepped out. “I was told you want to meet First Species. Here I am,” he said, measuring Jack with his malicious eyes.
“I doubt you have what I need,” Jack said calmly.
“Let's hear it. You never know,” said Zead.
“I want to know about my next opponent. I figure First Species may hear something,” said Jack.
“Is that it?” Zead asked, looking around at the cell.
“No one told me anything about my first opponent. If I knew he was an Btienen, I would have done something before hand,” said Jack.
“Like what?” Zead asked.
“Did you know that his clothes was soaked in oil? I didn't. If I did before hand, I wouldn't waste my breath grabbing him,” said Jack.
Zead snorted. “You think you are special, don't you?” He asked.
“I am just a prisoner like you,” Jack said in defiance.
“Like me? You are Second Species. You keep that in mind or you end up like Olansi,” Zead said and left the cell, followed by Ell-o.
"Clank!" The door was closed.
Yasily brought out the box from behind her back. “Is this the reason why you ask to meet First Species?” She asked.
Jack walked to the door and listened carefully.
“Don't worry. They don't eardrop or watch us. They are pretty sure no one could ever get out of here,” said Yasily.
“Yes. I want to find someone who can set it outside the waste well,” Jack said, walking to Yasily.
“You want to go to the hangar from outside?” Yasily asked.
“Olansi thought the same,” said Yasily.
“How did you…? Right, he dream-talked,” said Jack.
Yasily flashed an approval smile.
“How did he die?” Jack asked, recalling what Zead just said.
“The rumor has it that the warden and Zead didn't bet on Olansi on his last fight and made a fortune from his death,” said Yasily.
“How typical. What is it between Zead and the warden?” Jack asked.
“The two are best friends. It was said Zead was a police officer and serial killer. When he was sent here, his best friend Kollin, an officer in Glycan fleet, requested to be transferred here as well,” said Yasily.
“I see,” said Jack.
“If you want to go to hangar from outside, you must know exactly where it is,” said Yasily.
“Do you know where it is?” Jack asked.
“I don't know, but I can find out. I can get the blueprint, if you let me in,” said Yasily.
“If you get it, you are in. But how are you going to--” said Jack.
“I will steal it,” Yasily interrupted Jack.
“Alright. I will count on you. Do you know anything about nanobots?” Jack asked.
“I have no idea. Why?” Yasily asked.
“The warden has nanobots mixed in our food,” said Jack.
“What does it do?” Yasily asked.
“Not tracker. I only know this much,” said Jack.
“How did you know the nanobots in the first place?” Yasily.
“That’s a long story for another time,” said Jack.
“What about those canisters? You have anyone to install them?” said Yasily.
“I was hoping…” Jack said, looking at Yasily.
“No. I wish I could, but no,” Yasily said in a sorry tone.
“OK. You take care of the blueprint. I deal with other issues,” said Jack.
Yasily got dressed and left Jack.
Next day Jack told Ethan what happened during breakfast and they decided to let Yasily in if she could get the blueprint. There was a problem though. Yasily was living in a different block where female inmates were held and it would be impossible for her to get into the waste well with Jack and Ethan. However, this wasn't something that needed immediate attention. They talked to those who had spent more than 20 years here. There were only a dozen of them and none heard about nanobots. If it wasn't Titainein who confirmed there were indeed nanobots in his body, Jack would think Dud was bluffing. After hesitating for several days, Jack and Ethan approached Dud while working on the square.
“We thought about the deal. I have a few questions,” said Jack.
“Shoot,” said Dud.
“Why us? I am sure there are others who are trying to escape,” Jack asked and wielded his sledgehammer without stopping.
“Others? Name one,” Dud said, glancing at Jack and Ethan.
Jack and Ethan looked at each other for a brief second.
“There are no others. You think they are as crazy as you two?” Dud asked.
“Tell us what you know about nanobots. Then we will decide whether to let you in or not,” said Ethan.
“I'm not in a hurry. Besides Jack will have his second fight very soon. I will wait,” said Dud.
“You are thinking I may not survive,” said Jack.
“Oh, yea,” Dud said, nodding.
“You know who I'm going to fight?” Jack asked.
“Yes. He uses his tongue a lot and you better stay away from it,” said Dud.
“His tongue?” Ethan asked.
“I understand you two don't believe me. We shall see,” Dud said and winked at Jack and Ethan.
“Sure, let's see,” Jack said in an arrogant voice.
“By the way, it will be held here,” said Dud.
Later in the afternoon, the warden told Jack the next fight would be held here in three days. Jack asked about his opponent and was told that it was an engineered creature based on Zalienin, a reptile walking with two legs. Zalienin was notorious for its venom covered skin and its poisonous sting. Its name derived from the eight Glycan explorers who discovered it and died of its venom.
- Colorado US
Bio: I am a radiochemist who makes radio-labeled pharmaceuticals. Have no idea what that is? You are not alone. For a guy who doesn't like traveling, there is no place my mind won't go. The deep abyss near Mariana, the desolate ruins at Chernobyl, the lonely tropical forests and the haunting infinity of the universe, to name a few. I often write down those moments and slowly they grow into stories. I guess that is why I started writing. It feels like a waste if I don't.