Authors: Tom Noel-Morgan
Tales of the Commonwealth
Copyright © 2014~2015 by T. Noel-Morgan
All rights reserved.
About This Series
Tales of the Commonwealth
delivers on political intrigue, societal clashes, epic battles and plenty of action and adventure that will keep you itching about what awaits you at the turn of each page. This exciting sci-fi series amasses original short-stories set in the dystopian Commonwealth of Planets universe, where super-science, space exploration, alien worlds and much, much more await your imagination to take form, as we dare to dream together what the future evolution of mankind may bring us.
Existing at a time when Humanity is still recovering from the ecological cataclysms that nearly ended life on Earth, and when mankind is but barely done colonising the Solar System, the CoP is a political institution uniting Earth and the Colonies. It’s advertised as a banner under which Humanity may rally to promote its survival. However, behind this florid image stands the brutal Tudor Regime that governs Earth, to control, to dominate and to try to dictate the future of mankind.
Five-hundred years since the Mars Riots and the institution of the Commonwealth of Planets, the Sedition Wars were but painful pages in the annals of History. The Bioroid Nation was no more and the fate of mankind belonged once again to Man. In the entire known galaxy, one place alone still served as a reminder of the struggle between Man and their creation: Libertatia!
Among the tall mooring spires of Libertatia, under the eternal crimson twilight of its artificial skies, there are horrors the likes of which no man can imagine. Evil lurks in dusk, and shadows loom in the pale wounded light of a realm created by creatures born on Earth, but completely devoid of humanity. Hungry for blood, they stalk the unwitting with greedy intent.
There, in the labyrinth of their own creation, the infamous have instituted the black pearl of a democracy of decay. It is a place ruled by the merciless and inhabited by the spiteful, the wicked and the pragmatic. Godless and heartless, the denizens of Libertatia are the by-product of the atom and the children of genetic engineering. They are the rightful heirs to a twisted and decayed culture that they hated. They are the shadows and ghosts of the creation of an empire of hedonism bent on self destruction. They are the scions of a crumbling era of intemperance and of violence. They are the echoes of a society vanquished by virtue ages past.
Once upon ancient times, the synthetic bioroid species were serfs and slaves created to toil for their harsh human masters. Those were the days of space exploration and the colonisation of the Solar System. They were bred and grown in laboratories and orbiting nurseries to serve mankind in the expansion of Man’s stellar empire. The robust bioroid race toiled endlessly in the name of Man. They raised cities in faraway planets and established the foundations for great terraforming plants that would render the colonies habitable over time.
They were also misused by their masters, for mankind was inebriated by its own power. In its complacency, Man had forgotten that for every abuse there’s a price-tag. In due course, the Bioroid Nation rebelled and conquered its freedom by force of arms, only to become the very thing that they had once opposed.
Cruelty as tangible as flesh. Rage without regret. Such were the wanton ways of the desperate, the lost and the damned that rose against the rule of Man. Yet by law of nature, no violence happens without equivalent opposition. Their subversion culminated with the creation of the Commonwealth Legion, a military treaty under which the clans of Man had agreed to protect one another against the common threat of the bioroid revolts, destroy them, and then pursue a purer path.
This was the time of the Sedition Wars, when the children of genetics fought against their creators for supremacy, and then for the simple right to exist. Alas the bioroids that had been created to serve Man were created sterile creatures, and in their limited numbers they dwindled at each engagement, so that Man ultimately prevailed, never to allow another slave race to be mass-produced.
Mankind had learned with its mistakes, but in their wake were the bioroids of Libertatia, who had taken upon themselves to steal the secrets of genomics and biorobotics, so that they could remake their race after their own ambitions. As other bioroid strains were subdued, reintegrated or vanquished by Man, the rebels of Libertatia reinvented themselves as pirates and marauders and endured. They had recreated their genetic code in the image of their genitors. They had given themselves the ability to breed.
These grey-skinned creatures of rugged weathered looks, with embossed features, deep eyes and hides as thick and rough as a rhino’s were not quite as strong or tall as their cousins on Mars, Terra Nova and the other human colonies, but they were cleverer. Still, feeble as they were compared to other bioroids, those of Libertatian breed were twice as resilient and nimble as any man.
Libertatia has always been ruled by no one and by many at the same time. Under the brotherhood of pirate lords, democracy acted alongside totalitarianism to promote survival, in an anarchy where achievement has always ruled over valour. The pirate lords were the first to reward triumph over honour, and under their yolk, Libertatia became the fruit of piracy, smuggling and slave trade, which they visited – and still do – upon the Commonwealth of Planets, so to serve their nefarious purposes.
To the Libertatians, the Sedition Wars have never ended, and for centuries has irreducible Libertatia stood strong as the last bastion of the free Bioroid Nation. In the relative protection of its unassailable cosmic borders, the power of Man is diminished and the pirate lords can evade their just punishment. From thither, the pitiless buccaneers launch their raids into the Commonwealth, where they harvest the means to replenish their bleak artificial realm and to make the rich even richer.
In Harbour Town – Libertatia’s capital, if ever there could be one – those Commonwealth citizens who are brought as captives by the pirate fleets are sold to capricious tyrants as slaves. By local custom, slaves are perpetually free to walk the streets, but they fear to do so, for they have no rights and their lives are cheap. Those that dare wander find that, in the freedom proposed by the narrow streets of Harbour Town, terrors far greater than the torments of servitude skulk in the gloom, to prey on the lowly and the weak. In an anarchy rooted in brutality, bloodthirsty warlords are the only protection serfs and slaves can ever enjoy.
Then there are those unfortunate slaves that fall under the yolk of the cabal of the Blood Bond, for they are made to fight in the great stadium, for the pleasure of pirate lords and free Libertatians. Ever drenched in coagulated blood, the horrid arena of Harbour Town is a place haunted by the screams of those ill-fated enough to ever set foot in it. Under the auspices of the cabal of the Blood Bond, degraded bioroid pirates and human slaves are pitched against one another in matches both cruel and brutal.
Betting at the deadly fights is Libertatia’s most popular diversion, and the blood-sport itself is a lucrative business for the Blood Bond, making it one of the richest and most powerful of the pirate brotherhoods of Libertatia.
Under the Blood Bond’s promise that one day they’ll be freed if they perform well in the arena, human slaves often escape their masters and volunteer for the games. They subject themselves to extensive surgical procedures, excruciatingly painful nano-implants and retroviral treatments that strengthen their bones, modify their muscles at a molecular level and ultimately change them into what some call ‘
’ and others call ‘
’. By this token, transhuman slaves sacrifice their humanity to offer better entertainment for their unkind captors, and to have a chance at regaining their freedom.
Those that survive the procedure are made to serve the Blood Bond in the arena for a certain term, and then they graduate into the pirate fleets, or so would tradition have them believe. In truth, they most often perish providing amusement in the stadium, and only a precious few champions are ever released from abject captivity. Pampered and spoiled in the corrupting ways of their captors, such rare champions are prompted to become as ruthless as their masters, and some grow in renown and in ambition.
Once they graduate into the pirate fleets, they often serve pirate captains as pricey bodyguards and expert warriors. Their loyalty to their new employers is more often than not ensured by expensive addictions, which only the richest of pirate captains can afford. Truly, their elevation to the fleets is just another form of slavery.
Yet, every so often, a war-dancer finds his or her way into the captaincy of a corsair ship. It’s a rare enough occasion, but it has been known to happen. When it does, one can expect the unexpected, for war-dancer captains are not known for their orthodoxy, but they are famously vengeful, most of all against Libertatian slavers.
This is a tale about one of them: