Friday, July 4, 2014

The Games - Part 3

Fiction Friday! Escape pod here. Trying to find some new blogs to read so expect some new sites popping up in the escape pod.

I was going to this as the last piece of the series, but when I finished it I wasn't happy. So I rewrote the last section and left it open for a conclusion next week.

The Games - Part 3

Samar retrieved the pistol from the corpse of the huge man. As expected, its magazine was empty. Inside the room they found the body of the Miser. He was slumped against the bulkhead. The huge man had smashed his head open against the wall. Blood and brain matter dripped down the rusted wall onto the corpse.

"So you are not the murder then?" stated Zhilan.

"Who knows. That man-mountain out there seemed to think he was, but was he right? He might have killed in the past, but someone else might have a grudge and put him in here for some other reason."

Samar checked the Miser's corpse he felt something in the pocket and raised an eyebrow in surprise. He retrieved the item and shoved it into his own pocket.

"Come on lets go!" he said.

They next two decks were empty. On the fourth they found another bonus room. Samar read the datapad.

This is a two-person bonus room. If you are alone you cannot complete this room, move along. If you have made a friend then you two may attempt this room. You and your ally will be at great risk, but the reward is perhaps the greatest... The location of the escape pod.

Samar let Zhilan read the datapad.

"OK. No more bullshit. No pause to work up a story. You either tell me which you on that list are or we go our separate ways. I need to know."

Zhilan looked at him, a tear in her eye.

"I'm the whore OK!" she whispered.

"Explain" he replied quickly.

"Simple as that. I am a pro. I accept money to sleep with people. I could argue that I'm a high-class and expensive courtesan or escort, but in the end thats just semantics. The reality is I do the same as a 20-credit-street-walker, you give me money, I'll go to bed with you. I had been booked to see a couple at a five-star hotel. I arrived at their suite, they gave me a glass of champagne and next thing, lights out! Then I woke up in the room next to you. Look at me! You think I dress like this to meet a couple of friends?"

Samar looked her up an down. He had never seen a 500 credit an hour courtesan but the way she was dressed he could believe it.

"Doesn't explain why you are here does it?"

"I don't know why, same as you don't know. I guess one of my Clients had a grudge? Perhaps a partner of a Client could have found out? Blamed me more than them? I don't know."

Samar reached into his pocket and looked at the datapad that he'd found when he first woken up. There was 20 minutes until the tower self-destructed.

"Look, we are running out of time. These bonus rooms are bad, but if we don't find that pod in the next 20 minutes we are both dead."

Zhilan nodded and approached the door.


Curses were muttered by a couple as the big screen showed a man's mid-rift opened up and his intestines flood out of the gaping wound. The man who had previously strangled the Abandoner stepped back as his victim slumped to the floor trying to hold his intestines inside his ripped stomach. The killer bent down and tugged on the entrails enlisting a shriek from the dying man. A childish giggle sounded as he did it again followed by a scream of agony as he kept torturing the slowly dying man.

"For fracks sake! So much for our master thief!" an elegantly dressed man exclaimed. Others chuckled around the room at his outburst.

"It was a surprise sir" Xarna said "We did expect someone with his skills to do better."

The man just grumbled under his breath.

"So there are five left including that one you haven't shown yet? Can I buy back in?"

"Odds are obviously not as good now on the last remaining contestants, and the one you mentioned is for a very special bet which is just about to begin. Would you like to see the odds we are offering on this special mini-game?"


Samar slid the bolt on the door back and slowly entered the room with the gun drawn.

The usual pedestal at the end had a heavy metal cage over it. On one side of the room was a large black cylinder just over a metre wide and 3 metres tall. On the opposite side to the cylinder was an illuminated disk on the floor. Samar carefully moved over to the frame covering the pedestal. He tried to move it but it was too heavy. The bars were too closely spaced to get a hand in to reach the box.

"Do you think this has something to do with it?" Zhilan asked standing on the illuminated disk.

Samar cried out to stop her but it was too late, Zhilan stood on the disk and a perspex tube shot up from the floor trapping her inside it. Samar rushed over and hammered on the glass. A terrified Zhilan looked back at him, her palms pressing against the clear plastic. Movement caught his eye in the reflection cast on the cylinder, the black cylinder behind him started to clear. Another terrified woman looked back at him, also trapped inside the tube. Finally the grate around the pedestal raised. Samar waited a few seconds but nothing appeared to be happening. He walked to the pedestal and opened the box. Inside was a datapad and some sort of remote control with two buttons. He took the datapad and looked at the screen. It was receiving files and updating something. The screen flashed signifying it had received whatever it had been downloading. Two large circles appeared numbered one and two, he assumed they were buttons. He pressed the first. Zhilan's face filled the screen, it was a brief biography. She had told the truth, she was a high-class escort who charged 500 credits an hour for her company. A paragraph at the bottom explained that a jealous partner who blamed her for the breakdown of her marriage was responsible for her being here. "My husband turned from a loving man into some sort of perverted fiend. He left me saying I was too boring in bed. I know why he thought that, it was because of that whore corrupting him. She deserves to suffer for turning my husband against me!".

He went back and selected number 2. The photograph of the woman in the other tube flashed up. She was a business woman, and owned a successful marketing company. The paragraph at the end stated she'd taken control of the company by sleeping with the previous owner and then double-crossing him. She had ruined the man and his family and in the end he'd killed himself. His wife and three young children were now homeless. Text from an email had been included. Samar quickly read it. It appeared to be a from a relative of the family begging the woman to help the dead man's wife and children, after all, she stole the company from them which led to the man's suicide. She had just insulted him. The final line made him pause.

"This woman knows the location of the escape pod. The tubes are sound-proof. The only way to to find out is to release her."

Samar went back again and hit the continue button at the bottom which had appeared after he'd read the second bio.

"The remote control is now active. Press button 1 to open tube 1 and release acid into tube 2. Press button 2 to open tube 2 and release acid into tube 1."

Samar re-read the instructions in disbelief before he screamed in rage. He read the instructions a third time. The bastards had given him a choice. Save the woman he was with and lose the location of the escape shuttle or kill the woman he'd aligned with and free a nasty piece of work to save his own skin. Samar closed his eyes tight and gripped the remote. He felt the button depress and click as he squeezed it.


In the cocktail lounge the tension was high. As Samar was reading so were the guests, the large screen had explained everything and the choice he had to make. They had opportunity to bet on which he would chose. Most of the guests had placed bets between 100,000 and a cool million. It was a simple 2 to 1 gamble. The big screen divided into two. It focused on the women's feet.

"Hey which is which? We cannot tell!" one man called out.

"That is part of the fun!" Xarna replied. "You'll not know for a minute. Builds the tension."

At almost the same time one tube started to lift very slightly, just a few millimetres a second. In the other a clear liquid slowly rose, again agonisingly slowly. Feint smoke rose from the heels of the expensive stiletto's. It appeared that the victim had not yet noticed. The heel started to dissolve and suddenly the feet moved.

"She knows now!" whispered another woman in the crowd excitedly.

The rising tube was only moving millimetres whilst in the other the woman had started to 'dance' in the tube, trying in vain to keep her feet out of the rising liquid. Rather than saving her all this did was splash the acid onto her legs. Holes began to appear in the black silk covering her legs first revealing a flash of white flesh before it turned an angry red as the acid ate into the skin. Howls of terror and pain drifted through the speakers as the room went quiet. There was still no way to tell which screen was which contestant, nobody had taken notice to what either woman has wearing in that detail.

The acid was now up to the woman's calves and had turned a light red, both the flood of acid and the raising of the other tube slowly accelerated. Within moments the acid was up to the victims knees. Her tights or stockings she word had dissolved into ragged shorts. The screaming continued.

"The tube is too narrow for the contestant to bend down or collapse. They must wait." Xarna commentated.

The acid was now at waist height as the camera slowly panned up. The screaming was growing hoarse. On the first screen the tube had reached the waist of the other woman and she was able to duck down. Zhilan's face filled the screen as Samar help her up as she clambered out of the trap. There was a selection of cheers and curses in the cocktail lounge as the assembled guests realised whether they had made the right bet or not.


"You OK?" Samar asked. There was no reply as Zhilan stared across the room.

"Are you OK?" he asked again more strongly grabbing her by the shoulders.

Zhilan broke her stare from the woman thrashing in the tube, the acid now up to her neck. When her thrashing made her body press against the front of the tube her horrifically burnt body was clear, her clothing already disintegrated.

"What happened?" she asked "What did you do?"

"I made a decision. I think the right one. Or would you like to be doing that?"

The woman now was struggling to keep her face above the rising acid. Zhilan shook her head and ran from the room. Samar glanced back before he left the room at the cylinder of now red liquid. It was eerily still.

As soon as he was out of the room he grabbed Zhilan 's hand and ran down the corridor.

"Where are we going?" Zhilan shouted.

"We got less than 10 minutes until this structure blows. We need to assume the pod is somewhere in the centre and that those starting from the bottom are heading there too. We've seen enough people to know there should be no more in the top half. Otherwise they'd be at too great an advantage so now we run!"


"Ladies and gentlemen." Xarna announced "We are coming to final part of tonight's entertainment. All new bets must be made in the next 30 seconds. We will then close the betting."

There was a flurry of activity as people pulled out datapads to make last minute bets. Only four portraits were left in colour, the other eight faded to a deep red.

The Whore, The Dealer, The Psychopath and the Traitor.


Samar practically dragged Zhilan down the stairs. As he reached the next landing he stopped.

"What? Why are we stopping?" she asked.

"Theres no barricade blocking us."

"So, that's good isn't it?"

"Sort of. It means they wanted people to be able to come up, this is the middle deck of the tower."

He turned to the door on the landing and threw it open. It was a hanger, and a small two-person escape pod sat on a rail system. The rails ran to what appeared to be a large external hatch. A skinny man stood by the pod.

"Its locked down." He announced to the new arrivals. "Won't open until 30 seconds before detonation it says. I guess our lords and masters wanted a grand finale! Nobody leaves early!" he shouted with a theatrical wave of his arms.

Samar noted he was covered in blood.

"So how do we do this?" he asked cautiously.

The skinny man laughed.

"I thought I'd kill you, take that hot woman and leave. Then I can spend time slowly slicing her skin off!"

"I assume then, you must be the psychopath?" Samar sneered.

The skinny man took a long exaggerated bow.

"And I'm the traitor" said another voice "So that makes you...?"

Samar glanced up at a catwalk. A man was sat there with his legs over the side leading against the lower rail. He had a distinct look of military about him, Samar knew he was dangerous. He pulled his gun and swung it from the psycho back to the traitor. The man on the catwalk casually rose to his feet and jumped down.

"Please. If you've got this far the chances are you've already fired the single bullet they give you. If not you can only take one of us two down. Who do you want to be left with, the man who sold secrets to the enemy that got an entire squad killed or a psychopath who will slice you up... and then eat you. To be honest, its a tough choice." the Traitor said casually.

"I'm betting the gun is as dry as that bitches snatch." the psychopath sneered advancing. He pulled a jagged piece of sharp metal from his belt. "First I'm going to stick this in your throat and watch you drown in your own blood. Then I'll strip that bitch and slice off her..."

The shot from the gun echo'd around the hanger. The psycho stopped in his tracks. A red stain spreading from the middle of his chest. Samar addressed The Traitor.

"You were right, I did use the bullet I got with the gun, but for some reason The Miser had one in his pocket. I think the Murderer had a gun too and the Miser removed the bullet."

The Traitor nodded in approval.

"So, what now?" Samar asked dropping the gun to the floor. An evacuation alarm sounded. The Traitor looked up at the amber flashing strobes.

"The one minute alarm. You and the woman should strap in." he said as he walked towards the hatch.

"You are giving up?" Samar asked in shock.

"I planted a data transmitter for the Caldari Navy. Sold out my Gallente brothers. I lost friends and comrades. It took their one of their families four months to track me down in exile. I assume it was a family, not really the Black Eagles style this is it? They'll do it again, and to be fair, I deserve it. Time to end it. Good luck, whoever you are."

Samar grabbed Zhilan's hand and ran to the escape pod. The twin perspex cockpits opened and they jumped in. The cockpits closed and the pod started to accelerate forward. They could see the Traitor stood by the hatch. Red warning lines started to flash as the doors slid open, revealing a forcefield over the entrance. As the doors fully opened the forcefield dropped and the contents of the hanger including the escape pod and the Traitor were jettisoned into space.


"But I paid for him to die!" screamed the woman.

"No. You paid for him to be a contestant in the Games. If you had wanted him dead you should have hired an assassin." Xarna explained.

"But he killed my brother. He sold him the drugs that killed him, he deserves to die!"

"I'm sorry but when you approached us we explained that two contestants would survive and it was a possibility that it would be the one you were paying to place here."

"I don't see why you let any of them go, they all deserved to die."

Xarna just stood as the woman stormed out the room. After the door swung shut she went back to the cocktail party.

The big screen was the only one still active. Everyone was gathered around waiting for the fireworks.


The escape pod swung around violently. Zhilan looked across at Samar who appeared to have taken manual control of the escape pod. She could see he'd also ripped open a panel on the console. Wires sparked from where they had been pulled out of the exposed circuit boards.

"What are you doing! You've turned back towards the tower! That things going to explode!"

"Yes it is." he replied "Great way to destroy any evidence. On that note, what do you think we are?"

Zhilan went quiet. She was so overjoyed about escaping that she hadn't thought they themselves were witnesses.

"So you don't think they'll let us live?" she whispered.

"Nope, I checked. The distress beacon on this escape pod has been modified. The Sisters of Eve aren't going to get shit from this thing. However we are lit like a neutron star up on another frequency. Easy to lock on and shoot down! I've almost disabled the beacon, just need to pull one more wire when the time is right."

"So you are going to fly us into an exploding tower?" she asked incredulously.

"Trust me." he replied, concentration was etched on his face "I'm an engineer."


The tower exploded in a spectacular fireball witnessed by the guests crowding around the large screen. 

A polite round of applause went up before they started to say their goodbyes and depart. Xarna moved to the back of the room and tapped an earpiece.

"Captain, you can shut down the camera drones when you are ready. We are done back here. Decloak, launch the combat drones, take out the escape pod and warp us to station."

"Madame, there is no need to launch drones. The escape pod was destroyed in the explosion."

Xarna paused a second.


"Yes. Our sensors show that after it launched it turned back, it looked like it was trying to redock. The self-destructing tower took the pod with it."

"Are you sure?"

"Absolutely. The transponder stopped broadcasting as the tower went up and we are reading zero energy signatures in the debris field."

"Strange. Anyway, lets get both sets of Clients back to station."

The Strategic Cruiser aligned and slipped into warp, leaving a burning debris field behind.

To be concluded......


  1. "Trust me." he replied, concentration was etched on his face "I'm an engineer."

    As an engineer, with 23 years of professional practice under my belt, I've only uttered this exact line once.

    Mind you, it was preceded by "Here, hold my beer and watch this".

    Ok, that last bit wasn't true. But the single use of this line was. It didn't have anything to do with work. It involved a waterslide.

    Professionally, we stay away from lines like that. That kind of pride always leads to Murphy exacting an exorbitant price.

  2. Civil Engineer with 21 years experience. Got to say I've never used the line either. :)

  3. Civil here as well. Glad to know someone else is making sure water runs downhill.

  4. I wish I could have uttered that line at some point. Aero engineer here. Thanks for designing my targets :P

  5. The more usual comment is "Hmm. That's odd."